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@WikiLeaks: Patchouli-Scented Breitbart.com

One positive thing about the Trump candidacy is that it has a way of confirming long-held suspicions, such as that the GOP base’s yearning for white nationalist politics remains strong and extends well beyond Dixie. Another is that Green Party favorite Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is basically the Milo Yiannopoulos of the tie-dyed set. Consider:

Unskews polls to predict glorious Trump victory — check:

Links to The Gateway Pundit, aka, the Stupidest Man on the Internet, as if he were a credible source — check:

Promotes wingnut fever-swamp conspiracy theories about the Clinton body count — check:*

Seems like there’s very little “Wiki” involved in WikiLeaks anymore, so what we’re getting is information filtered through Assange’s anti-Clinton bile. Jill Stein recently called Assange a hero, which underscores her poor judgement. Whatever good will the organization generated by publishing material that exposed war criminals in Iraq is now being squandered by a founder who is, like Roger Stone and Breitbart.com, functioning as a oppo research and propaganda outlet for the Donald Trump campaign. Good to know.

*After strongly implying in an interview earlier this week that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was a WikiLeaks source, Assange walked it back a bit yesterday by reissuing a statement that neither confirmed nor denied a link to Rich. But the hint was picked up by the kooks as Assange intended, much as Trump’s dogwhistles find receptive ears.



Why would Trump go?

The post-convention Dump Trump movement among Republican operatives and strategerists is growing and getting louder. Politico has the scoop:

Republican insiders in key battleground states have a message for The Donald: Get out.
That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 swing states. The majority of GOP insiders, 70 percent, said they want Trump to drop out of the race and be replaced by another Republican candidate — with many citing Trump’s drag on Republicans in down-ballot races.

I have two big questions. The first is a bit of taunting —“Why the hell could you not organize an orgy at the Bunny Ranch in January?”

Secondly, why the hell would Trump agree? A Dump and Replace Trump movement has severe mechanical limitations. Ballots will start to be printed in the next couple of weeks so there is a hard time constraint on any Trump Replacement movement. More importantly, any Dump and Replace Trump action has two major players who have to agree and a hostile player who has a say. A successful Dump Trump action needs the “establishment” Republican Party to agree to the action (they’re as an institution is either there or close to it) as well as Donald J. Trump to agree to be replaced.

The Republican insider argument is that Trump will cost them the White House, will cost them the Senate and will significantly reduce (best case scenario) the current GOP majority in the House. That means Trump will cost them the Supreme Court median vote. All of those are probably true and they are high salience to Movement Conservatives.

Does Donald J. Trump and his voters care deeply about any of those items except for the White House?

No!

He does not care about the House, he does not care about the Senate. He does not care about policy outcomes. He has a very limited shadow of the future and a very narrow give a fuck space that barely intersects with Republican insider give a damn space.

What is the gain for Trump to step aside? His brand is underwater as his name is currently toxic. If he is to step aside, his brand (and his ego) won’t recover quickly. His best chance of re-establishing his brand (and his ego) is to double down and win. If he wins the White House in November even if there are 98 Democrats in the Senate and 431 Democrats in the House, he won, and the Republican establishment are full of losers. His brand would take off and he could make odd speeches at golf courses while Mike Pence attempts to govern.

If he steps aside, the party insiders are better off, but his brand is shit and his ego is bruised as he would be the loser genuflecting to the wills of the loses that he beat in the primary process.

What can the Republican Party insiders offer to Trump that is worth enough to Trump to make it worthwhile for him to step aside?

Until I see a good answer to that question, I am assuming that the Dump Trump movement is merely a stage of grief and not an actual strategy.



Because Some Asshattery Needs Its Own Snark

Like several valued commenters, I can’t help but love this story:

The [North Carolina] state GOP sent out a tweet Wednesday night saying it was “shameful” for Kaine to wear the flag of Honduras during his speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Kaine was, of course, wearing a Blue Star Service pin, which people wear to signal they’ve a family member on active duty during a war or a conflict.

Here’s a typical version:

s1097

To the wingnut mind, which is to say the Twitter account of the North Caroline GOP, this subtle and simple acknowledgement of pride and moment in a son’s service was the Honduran flag, and Kaine’s brazen display of that unAmerican allegiance was, and I quote, “shameful.”

To which I reply: Morans!

One additional note:  the Military Times article linked above contains an error.  It states that “North Carolina Republicans have apologized to Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine…”

Maybe so, but the only acknowledgement of their feckless, incompetent asshattery I’ve been able to find is a thank you to the person who pointed out what Kaine was actually wearing.  No contrition aimed at the nominee, his son, or the Democratic Party.

Which is to say that the NC GOP is not merely incompetent, feckless and having trouble peering through its own colon; they’re a bunch of ill-mannered boors whose parents should have (and maybe tried to) raise them better.

ETA:  as pointed out by valued commenters Hoodie, Omnes Omnibus, and in a prior thread Raven, the executive director of the state GOP did issue a clear apology to Tim Kaine and his family this afternoon.  So my dudgeon was accurate at the time I first read this story, and was superceded by the time I wrote my snark.  I regret that error — and exactly none of my disdain for the impulse that produced the initial last-refuge-of-scoundrelism.

TL:DR?  “Bless their hearts.”

Image:  from this catalogue.

 

 



SATSQ: Conservative wonk edition

Via Vox, an answer to stupid or evil:

This revisionism, according to Roy, points to a much bigger conservative delusion: They cannot admit that their party’s voters are motivated far more by white identity politics than by conservative ideals.

“Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble,” Roy says. “We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.”

No fucking shit.

At least it updates our priors to weight willfully blind if not stupid.

Open thread



Through the Looking Glass: Hope is Not a Strategy

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The short course for strategy and policy is really quite quick and simple. To make policy one determines what your ideal objectives are, establish how much risk you are willing to assume to achieve them, and then either decide to attempt to achieve those objectives or a less than ideal, but still perfectly acceptable, but less risky alternative. Once this is done, in order to further minimize that risk and to ensure the maximum likelihood of success, you determine what ways and means you have, what additional ways and means you may need, how to bridge the gap between the two, and then you execute: applying your ways and means to achieve your ends. Finally, personalities matter and relationships matter. Congratulations! You now know more about strategy and policy than any elected or appointed official pushing for the Leave position that I saw on the BBC News coverage of the Brexit vote from 8 PM EDT last night to 3 AM EDT this morning.

It didn’t matter if the official was from the Conservative Party or from the Labor Party or from the UK Independence Party. They knew what the ends they wanted to achieve – leave the EU on terms negotiated to be the most favorable to Britain, but that was it. None of them expressed any real idea of how to achieve this beyond Vote for Leave, Article 50 now or later, return of sovereignty, and a better future for Britain. I don’t mean to make light of what happened or what anyone tuning in witnessed. A number of these ladies and gentlemen were quite articulate, had a clear grasp of how the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty process worked, and in some cases actually were quite aware that the real issues were poor outcomes for average, and often rural/small town/village British people that resulted from the failures of British government and governance, not because of anything specifically involving the EU.

What we have watched today is emblematic of this failure of strategic vision, clarity, and understanding. Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, made it very clear that former Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Conservative MP and Leave Leader Michael Gove’s assertions about investing the money that will not be sent to Brussels into the National Health Service is unlikely. He also said that he 1) never said it and 2) had he had any official capacity in the Leave Campaign he would not have said it. This was one of, if not the, central themes of the Leave Campaign.

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(Mayor Johnson speaking adjacent to one of the central Leave Campaign Themes**)

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(Mayor Johnson and MP Stuart speaking in front of the official Leave Campaign bus)***

Farage disparaging his more conventional fellow travelers, and being brutally honest about their false promises was a ray of sunshine compared to what we heard from the formal leaders. Johnson, MP Gove, and EU immigrant to Britain MP Gisela Stuart**** are all now calling for calm, patience, time, and space arguing there is no need, nor rush to invoke Article 50 and begin the exit immediately. While this mirrors remarks made by some of the elected officials in the Leave camp that appeared on the BBC last night, others argued that the separation must begin immediately. What no one seems to have prepared for, what no one seems to have considered, is that the EU itself gets a vote. EU officials weighed in this morning by immediately calling for Britain’s invocation of Article 50 to prevent a dragged out process, uncertainty, and the possibility that the nationalist fervor could fully take hold in other parts of the EU.

What Johnson, Gove, Stuart, and their fellow Leave supporters also failed to consider was what would happen if the United Kingdom was not united in the referendum. On the BBC last night, Former Scottish First Minister and Scottish National Party MP Alex Salmond explained to the panel that this concern was brought up to Prime Minister Cameron before the referendum was set. And that the recommendation was that it should require not just a popular vote win for Leave, but a win for Leave in all four constituent portions of the United Kingdom to trigger the Brexit. Salmond explained, with a fair degree of amusement, that Cameron didn’t think that would be necessary, rejected the recommendation, and was probably now regretting doing so. Regardless, and despite Johnson’s call for calm, unity, and no need to or worry that this might lead to the dissolution of the the United Kingdom, that reality has already begun. Scotland is preparing itself for a second independence referendum as they wish to stay in the EU. Republican officials in Northern Ireland have raised the possibility of a referendum to leave the UK and unite with the Republic of Ireland. And Gibraltar’s status is unclear, with Spanish officials calling for shared sovereignty. It is not clear that Labour’s Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has any better strategy for dealing with what the Leave vote has wrought, and a motion of no confidence in his leadership was quickly submitted this morning. It is also not clear that anyone else could successfully lead the currently internally divided Labour Party any better or effectively challenge for a Parliamentary majority.

Despite planning by the Bank of England in case things went wrong, the Vote Leave Campaign leadership, official and unofficial alike, did not seem to have a plan for the effect of victory on the British, European, and global economies. The pro Brexit vote demonstrates the failure of elected and appointed officials who do not have a firm grasp of policy, strategy, and their potential effects – positive and negative. It is quite ironic that a successful referendum campaign partially based on anger at elites, notables, and experts to run things effectively has shown that the elites, notables, and experts running the Vote Leave movement and campaign do indeed not have the foggiest idea of how to run things effectively. Nothing says “I understand and empathize” like a Vote Leave Tory Member of Parliament, who graduated from public school and the Oxbridge system and has been an MP for his entire professional career, explaining to BBC anchors that the average British person is fed up with the failures of the elites and the experts running Britain and that is why the country must leave the EU.

The chaos seen today clearly demonstrates the failure of strategy and policy among the Vote Leave campaign leadership. We can clearly see that they don’t really have any ways and means to achieve their stated end: a negotiated departure from the EU that provides Britain with the best possible terms. Nor do they have any idea what they should be. They have destroyed their relationships with the EU leadership who want the separation done immediately and are in no mood to bargain, let alone allow Britain off the hook easy. And they have no leverage with the EU as a result. Johnson, Gove, Stuart, Farage, and others are now the dog that caught the Vauxhall. Unfortunately they clearly have no idea what to do with it.

* Image from here.

** Image from here.

*** Image from here.

**** Stuart is now under formal inquiry/investigation for failing to disclose a financial interest in a company that has promoted financial planning as a result of the Leave campaign winning.



Trump-proofing the Republican nomination process in the future

This post is speculation. It assumes that Trump will lose and lose big in November and that the Republican establishment as defined by a variety of rules committees has the power and the will to institute changes to the Republican primary process to Trump-proof the process.

The easiest way for the Republican Party to Trump-proof itself is to stop lying to its supporters. The Republican Party elite is fundamentally not trustworthy to its base voters. The core example is the promise that a Republican House and a Republican Senate could force President Obama to unwind PPACA while he sat in the White House. That was not going to happen. Trustworthy elites won’t happen as there is too much money to be made from fleecing the rubes. Once we take policy honesty off the table, rule changes are the next step.

Trump is the delegate leader (and presumptive delegate majority holder once the process plays out) with a low proportion of the total vote.

He benefited from a split field and a rules system that allowed factional plurality leaders to amass delegate strength out of proportion to their actual vote counts. Winner take all elections with more than two candidates have this common failure. There were two sets of winner take all elections in this current Republican primary. The first was state level delegates where the winner of a state received a significant bonus number of delegates and then winner take all at the Congressional District level. The Republicans assigned three delegates to each Congressional District without regard to how many Republicans actually lived or voted in that district.

538 has a good example of how this flat allocation of winner take all delegates by district helped Trump:

If Ted Cruz wins by a huge margin in Milwaukee’s suburbs, as expected tonight, he’ll get all three delegates from Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District, which cast 257,017 votes for Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election. But in two weeks, Donald Trump could capture just as many delegates by winning a majority of the vote in New York’s heavily Latino, Bronx-based 15th Congressional District, which cast only 5,315 votes for Romney four years ago.

Three weeks ago, Trump won three times as many delegates — nine — at the Northern Mariana Islands convention, which drew just 471 participants.

This is problem #1. The GOP primary delegation process favors plurality winners and it favors candidates who can win in very low turnout environments. There is a massive variance between the minimum number of votes needed per delegate and the maximum number of votes needed per delegate. Some districts are extremely efficient and some are extremely inefficient places to win. The Republicans treat districts like the Senate treats states. The first rule change would be to scale the delegate award to some measure of Republican vote strength.

Read more



Oh thank god

Now that Trump has become the only game in town for Republicans, Bill Kristol sounds a lot less firm about #nevertrump. I can maybe handle David Frum as long as he stays on the lawn and doesn’t try to mingle. Bill Kristol on the other hand can keep the fuck out of my political coalition.

I am also pleased to see that Dick Morris has adapted from dumb Why Trump will implode tomorrow this time for real pieces to dumb explanations of why Morris was sure all along that Ted Cruz was toast (find your own links to Newsmax). I will feel a lot better about November with the two most reliably wrong pundits in American history on Trump’s side.

Seriously though, Dick Morris. Hillary Clinton. At this point he doesn’t have much choice but get with Trump, does he?

But in general I see no reason why all those Republicans running from Trump necessarily have to jump in bed with the Democrats.

No_Homers_Club

They could always start a new party! Let Trump have his Front National voters and focus on the GOP’s core values of low taxes for rich people, slashing Medicaid/Medicare/Social Security, and military belligerence. Surely racist stupidity could not explain that much of the GOP’s continued relevance as a national party. Why not put the question to a test?