Open Thread: Republicans Get Their Third-Party Challenge

From his hometown paper, the Boston Globe:

Former Massachusetts governor William F. Weld will announce Thursday that he is running for vice president, rejecting the Republican Party of which he has long been a member in favor of the Libertarian Party ticket of another former GOP governor, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, campaign aides to Johnson said Wednesday.

The two former chief executives are expected to announce their partnership Thursday in New York City, the Johnson aides said, the latest sign of the national Republican Party’s struggle to come to grips with the party’s takeover by presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump.

The decision, first reported Wednesday by the Associated Press, took Weld’s business partners and the current Republican governor, his protégé Charlie Baker, by surprise.

Weld’s strategy, according to people with whom he has spoken, is to take advantage of the anticipated media attention paid to two former governors from different parts of the country joining forces, hoping to win sufficient support to land in the televised debates….

I have a not-as-hard-as-for-most-Repubs spot in my heart for Bill Weld, among the last of the old-time Moderate Northeastern Repubs (and the guy who signed the very nice form letter required before our Wiccan friend could legally perform our marriage ceremony in this state). He has every reason to despise the Frothing Rightwing Nutball wing of his former(ish) party, per the NYTimes:

Mr. Weld’s best-known previous turn on the national stage was in 1997, when he resigned as governor to focus on his appointment by President Bill Clinton as ambassador to Mexico.

That did not go well: He was blocked by Senator Jesse Helms and withdrew his nomination after a heated battle in which Mr. Weld, a pillar of what was left of the moderate northeastern Republican establishment, loudly assailed Mr. Helms and the archconservatives who stood behind him.

A former prosecutor, Mr. Weld could appeal to some disaffected Republicans on a ticket alongside Mr. Johnson, at a time when other efforts by Republicans to recruit a third-party candidate — in part in the hopes of keeping anti-Trump Republican voters from staying home and costing the party’s lower-tier candidates — are close to fizzling…

I know next to nothing about Gary “420” Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, although I’m sure some of you can clue me in. (One reason Weld is a good choice: He gets attention from the ‘one of us’ Northeastern media claque.) The Libertarian National Convention will take place in Orlando over the Memorial Day Weekend, after which (assuming they beat their challengers; I’m assuming there will be challengers?) Johnson/Weld 2016 can start campaigning for the 15% polling level that will ensure them a spot at the national presidential debate…

It may be a portent that the news has already managed to get the Daily Caller overexcited…

Open Thread: The Free Staters Are Coming (Again)

Ah, a political splinter group which we can all agree deserves our mockery! From the Mother Jones article:

On February 18, hundreds of libertarians will flock to the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire, for the ninth annual Liberty Forum, a four-day conference featuring presentations on topics such as religious freedom, school choice, and “Anarchy: Dressing for Success.” A big draw will be Edward Snowden’s keynote speech, delivered over a live video stream. As the exiled NSA whistleblower speaks, conference goers may mull their own flight from government oppression—not to Russia, but to the haven of New Hampshire.

The Free State Project, which runs the Liberty Forum, has spent 15 years trying to recruit 20,000 libertarian-minded activists to take up residence in the Granite State. By accruing a critical mass of small-government advocates in a state with just 1.3 million people, the project seeks to exert substantial influence on state politics to create a utopia of social liberties and deregulated markets. Those who sign the Free State pledge promise to make the move to New Hampshire once 20,000 participants have signed up. Now, with 19,858 signers, the project’s organizers say they are finally recruiting the last of those volunteers.

However, the organizers readily admit they don’t know how many of the would-be Free Staters will actually come to New Hampshire. “That is the million-dollar question,” says Free State Project president Carla Gericke. “It’s all speculative at this stage.”…

I think that should be declared the official Libertarian motto: “It’s all speculative at this stage.”

Since [2003], 1,909 early movers have settled in New Hampshire, according to organizers. They have started a church, installed Bitcoin ATMs, and protested against an Uber ban. One Free Stater became a school board chairwoman and then used tax money to pay private school tuition for kids in her district. Free Staters in Grafton tried to declare their no-stoplight town a United Nations-free zone. In Keene, libertarian transplants upset old-timers by videotaping and challenging parking officers enforcing “the king’s tariff.”…

Still, it only became obvious recently that the project would hit its 20,000-pledge trigger. Last fall, after years of standing around conferences with clipboards and taking out advertisements in Reason magazine, the project’s organizers turned to Facebook. More than 2,500 new participants signed on during a four-month ad campaign targeting users who “liked” pages for Bitcoin, “voluntarism,” and George Carlin. In recent weeks, the group has ramped up its Facebook ad spending to $500 a day. Nearly 20 early movers have been arriving in New Hampshire each month—even in winter. “I really hope we can build something that’s historic,” Gericke says. “People are coming.”…

I’d like to hope that those Free State Projectors will spend the days between now and the NH primary harassing the media following the various GOP candidates, but I suspect they’re too busy screwing up the Sanders GOTV campaign. Nice enough people, individually, those Free Staters, but most of them could screw up a free lunch by asking for the change, as the proverb says.

Open Thread: The Grift Dream Will Never Die!

It says something about the sheer inanity of this year’s Repub field that Little Prince Rand can’t even get point-and-mock traction with stuff like this. Not to mention (via) Audit the Ted, because “the Ted Crus” receives funds from “the Goldmaine Sox”:

“I even like his hair!”

Good news everybody – a punchable face may get punched

Open Thread: Would That It Were So Easy

Aaaand the Libertarian viewpoint, from Mr. Megan McArgleBargle…

…. because whatever happens among the wild things, he expects to come home to his comfy bed and find his supper waiting — still warm! (Between this & Cruz misunderstanding Green Eggs & Ham, maybe we should just keep Repubs away from the childens’ section entirely.)

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

I Am No Better, and Neither Are You

The sad, sad talking points after the GOP voted to allow people on the no-fly zone to continue to buy guns, because freedumb:

The Wisconsin Republican said part of the discussion surrounding mental health legislation is who should and shouldn’t have access to guns, but he signaled that barring gun purchases by people on no-fly terror lists — as President Obama urged Wednesday — is not an option.

Ryan said government officials put people on such lists without any due legal process and so denying those listed the right to bear arms would violate their rights.

“People have due process rights in this country,” he said.

Rubio too:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says a majority of the people on the federal “no-fly list” do not belong there and therefore should not have their right to purchase firearms taken away.

“These are everyday Americans that have nothing to do with terrorism, they wind up on the no-fly list, there’s no due process or any way to get your name removed from it in a timely fashion, and now they’re having their Second Amendment rights being impeded upon,” Rubio said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

The GOP presidential hopeful said the lists are far from perfect and a poor measure of who should and should not have access to a gun.

“The majority of the people on the no-fly list are often times people that just basically have the same name as somebody else who doesn’t belong on the no-fly list,” he said. “Former Senator Ted Kennedy once said he was on a no-fly list. There are journalists on the no-fly list. There are others involved in the no-fly list that wind up there.”

My response:

THEN GET THEM OFF THE FUCKING LIST. Fer fuck’s sake, your ok with them staying on the list as long as it just fucks with their travel, but when it keeps them from buying a gun, well god damn, that can’t happen.

Fucking assholes.

I wish we had a constitutional right to not be gunned down by some sociopath with a gun. On the other hand, maybe this might finally motivate them to finally fix the damned list.

Correlation Is Apparently In The Opposite Galactic Quadrant From Causation

I’m relatively sure that a Five Thirty Eight piece on how Democrats are suppressing the vote by having off-year elections with the “advantage” of low turnout is the actual definition of peak data journalism.

Why do Democrats and Democratic-aligned groups prefer off-cycle elections? When school boards and other municipal offices are up for election at odd times, few run-of-the-mill voters show up at the polls, but voters with a particular interest in these elections — like city workers themselves — show up in full force. The low-turnout election allows their policy goals to dominate.

Anzia shows that off-cycle elections lead to higher salaries and better health and retirement benefits for teachers and public employees. Anzia studies these effects in many different ways. The simplest way is by looking at eight states that allow local governments to set their own election dates. She compares school districts that hold school board elections on-cycle and off-cycle within the same state. Controlling for factors that might make districts different from one another — like their population size, income, racial composition, partisan leanings and how urban or rural they are — Anzia found that the maximum base teacher salary is over 4 percent higher in districts with off-cycle elections.

Higher salaries and better benefits for municipal employees can be a good outcome. What is interesting is that this outcome is the result of a deliberate move to hold municipal elections at times when few voters are participating.

Proponents of the off-cycle strategy argue that local issues get drowned out when local elections are held concurrent with presidential or congressional elections. People who show up to vote in those big elections may not be equipped to weigh in on the local issues. Anzia quotes a Texas school official who defends off-cycle elections because they bring out “an educated voter … people who really care about the issues and who are passionate about their district.” In off-cycle elections, proponents claim, the electorate is a concentrated set of voters who are engaged in the local issues, which yields better results for the community.

For readers who are sympathetic to the perspective of the off-cycle election proponents (typically Democrats), it is worth noting that these are very much the same arguments that Republicans might make in favor of voting restrictions that make voting a little bit harder for the average American. Just like voter ID or voter-registration requirements, off-cycle elections impose a cost on political participation. The cost is evidently high, since very few people participate in local elections when they are held in odd-numbered years. Maybe the cost leads to a more enlightened electorate. Or maybe it is Democratic-sponsored voter suppression.

Even if you buy Eitan Hersh’s “gosh this is counter-intuitive!” Freakonomics argument here that low-turnout off-year local races favor Democrats (and not something far more reasonable like “larger urban centers tend to have more Democrats”), the act of comparing what Republicans are doing with actual voter suppression tactics now and over the last several decades to states that allow cities to vote in off-year races as equivalent to the point of making Democrats hypocrites over voter access is complete and utter nonsense.

This is because:

1) Democrats don’t pass laws specifically making it more difficult for people to vote by adding additional hurdles to make it more expensive for the voter to vote by imposing a photo ID requirement and then closing a bunch of DMV offices so those photo IDs are far more difficult to get.

2) “Having an election in an odd-numbered year” is not suppression. at most it’s an additional cost to a county elections board that is shared by all taxpayers and not just Republicans.

3) The Republican argument as to why photo ID voter laws are needed are based on junk science and are terrible because photo ID requirements wouldn’t have prevented the voter fraud Republicans keep complaining about that fuel these laws and…

4) Low-turnout elections favor Republicans and there’s reams and reams of data supporting that, which is why Republicans are trying to actively suppress urban Democratic party voters in the first goddamn place.

This whole idea is stupid on its face and serves only as High Broderism that hides the very real issue of Republican efforts to disenfranchise voters across the country.

Jesus hell, what an asshole.

PS, GO VOTE.  Frowny Bee wants you to vote.