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Three ways in the House

Reading the Huffington Post, I saw this political bodice ripper and I still can’t figure out how to make the mechanics of the piece actually work in our shared reality:

Suddenly they realize, “holy shit, what if we could stop Donald Trump and keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?”

So they run a moderate establishment Republican as a third-party candidate — 100 percent as a spoiler candidate. Worst case scenario oh, they prevent Donald Trump from winning the White House. Best case scenario they pull enough votes away from Hillary Clinton to prevent her from securing the necessary majority of 270 electoral votes.

Then the election goes to a House of Representatives ballot presided over Speaker Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s former running mate in 2012.

If neither candidate gets 270 electoral college votes, Congress picks the president. And he will be called President Mitt, the one who is laying the groundwork for this doomsday electoral scenario.

The basic theory is that a third party candidate who is Generic Republican Establishment (no not Pawlenty) would be able to do three things at the same time:

  • Insure that Trump does not get 270 electoral votes
  • win at least one electoral vote
  • Insure that Hillary Clinton does not get 270 electoral votes

In an alternative universe, that could work, but in this universe, I am having a hard time seeing how to actually make it work with a generic Republican running as a non-Trump alternative.

I think the first part is achievable.  However, the third party Republican spoiler is not needed.  Continual video playback of Trump’s speeches to non-Trump fans will isnure that.  If the Republican establishment decided it needed at least one electoral vote, it’s sock pocket could probably win Utah or a Congressional district in Nebraska.  Worse comes to worse, an elector could be a faithless elector.  I’ll concede the mechanics on this one.

The problem with this pre-emptive pants shitting is the third part.

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Please Proceed, Governor

I admit it. I’m only posting this so I can use that title.

Mitt Romney did his blind pig act today, speaking truth, up to a point, to the looming power that is breaking the china at what should have been the dancing-horse-rider’s-husband’s party:

“If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished,” Romney said in a nationally televised speech at the University of Utah…

“Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark. He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq. Wrong. He spoke in favor of invading Iraq. He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. Wrong. He saw no such thing. He imagined it…He’s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as leader. His imagination must not be married to real power”

“Mr. Trump has changed his positions, not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign, and on the Ku Klux Klan, daily for three days in a row. We will only know if he’s the real deal or a phony if he releases his tax returns and his tape of the interview with the New York Times. I predict there are more bomb shells in his tax returns,” Romney said. “I predict he told The New York Times that his immigration talk is just that, talk.”

[via TPM]


R-Money being who he is, the reason he gave for the urgency in stopping Trump was not for The Donald’s sin of describing Republican views and gut-feelings accurately, but because it would ensure a Clinton presidency — and that family is, of course, simply too gauche, too nouveau for true representatives of better-established dishonest money to accept.

But thanks anyway, [former] Governor! Plenty of good stuff there for ads in the fall.

Or, as the man said:  please proceed.

Image:  James Ward, Ferrets, undated, before 1860.

Late Night Open Thread: CPAC 2016 – There Will Be Blood Sweat &Tears

Professional cynic Jim Newell, in Slate, “CPAC Is Irrelevant”:

… To look at the schedule for the three-day conference is to look at a movement in denial. There’s no indication on paper that a television-performing nationalist is overthrowing conservatism as the engine of the Republican Party. One early Thursday panel, “Three Approaches to Conservatism,” featuring Sen. Ben Sasse, Rick Santorum, Sen. Ted Cruz’s chief of staff, and libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, is probably not going to delve into the conservative literature behind Donald Trump’s approach of calling his rivals mean names on television. Speaker Paul Ryan’s session about conservative approaches to poverty will offer few ideas that migrate into Donald Trump’s nonexistent policy platform. The panel on “How to Grow Conservatism” will have its work cut out for it, now that Trump’s candidacy has revealed how the real motivating force behind the Republican Party is nationalism and #winning instead of ideological conservatism…

Expect Trump to be greeted with some coldness at CPAC when he delivers his speech Saturday morning. He will throw out some sops to conservatives, mostly about his immigration proposals. But he doesn’t need to. The conservative movement’s opinion is of little value to Trump. That is going to make this CPAC at once a historic snapshot of a movement in existential crisis, and unusually irrelevant to the outcome of the Republican presidential race...

Politico, of course, is extremely interested in the stage machinery behind Trump’s CPAC speech…

Donald Trump’s speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday is prompting an acrimonious backlash from the conservative critics desperately trying to mount a last-ditch campaign to block the GOP presidential front-runner from winning the party’s nomination.

A top aide to Trump rival Marco Rubio has accused CPAC organizers of being in the tank for Trump and clearing the way for his acceptance into mainstream conservatism, while an anti-Trump super PAC is pressuring organizers to rescind their invitation to the surging GOP front-runner.

Potentially complicating matters further, sources tell POLITICO that Trump has made multiple donations ― including a $50,000 check last year ― to the American Conservative Union, the group that organizes CPAC. That dwarfs the amounts donated in recent years by allies of Trump’s rivals, all of whom are also scheduled to speak at the annual gathering, and seems likely to fuel already percolating suspicions among his opponents that the ACU has its thumb on the scale for Trump.

Even by the standards of CPAC, which over the decades has been in the middle of more than its share of contentious fights about the future of the conservative movement, the one brewing around this year’s gathering is shaping up as historic ― and historically nasty…

Yeah, CPAC’s always been pay-to-play — but that Drumpf guy can afford to buy up all the slots! My heartstrings remain unplucked; if Donald Douchenozzle takes down the ACU on his voyage to damnation, that would be one small credit in his favor.

Today’s hot Repub topic Mitt Romney, Man on a Dancing White Horse, will not be at CPAC. Per the Boston Globe:

Mitt Romney is planning to give a speech on Thursday morning about the “state of the 2016 presidential race,” a further reflection of the 2012 Republican nominee’s efforts to influence a presidential contest that has been rocked by the rise of Donald Trump.

Romney is planning to speak from the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah at 11:30 a.m., hours before the Republican presidential candidates gather in Michigan for another debate. It also comes two days after Trump swept up many state contests on Super Tuesday, including Massachusetts, where Romney governed for four years.

A source close to Romney said, “this is not an endorsement or announcement of candidacy,” adding that the former Massachusetts governor wanted to speak about “the state of the 2016 presidential race and the choices facing the Republican Party and the country.”…

The only actual sources I can find on Romney’s purported candidacy announcement are gauzy some people say wishcasts from the NYTimes and a frenetic “bombshell” from Infowars tying him to the Koch Brothers (which does not seem plausible, just from the personalties of the billionaires in question). Maybe my Google-fu just isn’t strong enough…

Monday Morning Open Thread: Schadenfreude Special

gop empty suits luckovich

(Mike Luckovich via

So this weekend we all got to “enjoy” a humongous display of spoilt white elitists embarrassing themselves in public… and also the Oscars. The Republican “Establishment,” such as it remains, has been gripped by the deadly horror of its unleashed Id made visible, and of course it turns out that it’s everybody’s fault but the Republicans’!

From the Washington Post, company paper of the town whose monopoly industry is national politics:

The implosion over Donald Trump’s candidacy that Republicans had hoped to avoid arrived so virulently this weekend that many party leaders vowed never to back the billionaire and openly questioned whether the GOP could come together this election year.

At a moment when Republicans had hoped to begin taking on Hillary Clinton — who is seemingly on her way to wrapping up the Democratic nomination — the GOP has instead become consumed by a crisis over its identity and core values that is almost certain to last through the July party convention, if not the rest of the year.

A campaign full of racial overtones and petty, R-rated put-downs grew even uglier Sunday after Trump declined repeatedly in a CNN interview to repudiate the endorsement of him by David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Trump had disavowed Duke at a news conference on Friday, but he stammered when asked about Duke on Sunday…

Roger Stone, a Republican consultant and longtime Trump associate who does not work for the campaign, said Sunday that he has been reaching out to fellow alumni of Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign about volunteering on Trump’s behalf at the convention.

“We’re looking at pulling together people with deep knowledge and experience at Republican conventions going back to Barry Goldwater in ’64 or Reagan in ’76,” Stone said of his efforts, which have been taking place by telephone. “If they try to change the rules to steal it from Trump, he’ll need friends who understand the rules.”…

Anybody who believes that Roger Stone, a foundational CREEPster with a Nixon tattoo on his back, stopped working with Trump after that embarrassing incident last August is too naive to be allowed to walk to the corner store with a ten-dollar bill. Neither Barry Goldwater in 1964 nor Ronald Reagan in 1976 ended up as the GOP candidates in the general election, but the ugly chaos they created at their respective conventions did guarantee that “their” party would lose to the Democrats… and, more importantly in the long run, that their separate authoritarian philosophies would permanently warp the Republican Party, to the detriment of our long-suffering nation over the past fifty years. Trump — via Stone — is setting himself up as the Next Great GOP Iconoclast. Whether he’s got the ability or the attention span to pull it off is an open question. But perhaps the pundits who wonder if Cleveland 2016 will end up as the historical counterpart to the Democratic disaster in Chicago 1968 are not merely fantasizing a return to past excitement…
Apart from watching the clown show turn gladiatorial, what’s on the agenda for the start of the week?

When the Republican offer is not nothing

Idaho is advancing a non-Medicaid expansion plan to provider health “coverage” to its working poor.

The Idaho Reporter has the details:

Gov. Butch Otter’s administration formally introduced its health care plan Thursday morning, which a top official billed as an Idaho solution to insurance coverage gaps.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong introduced the Otter bill, which would give basic medical care to 78,000 Idahoans who make too much for Medicaid and not enough to earn a tax credit on the state health insurance exchange….

The proposal would cost at least $20 million in 2017, and another $30 million in 2018 and each year beyond.

Otter’s proposal doesn’t cover prescription drugs, specialty care procedures or catastrophic medical emergencies. It would give enrollees access to preventative and routine medical care, which the state believes will cost about $32 per person per month.

When I first this in Twitter last night, I thought this would be the equivalent of 10% to 15% actuarial value benefit.  However when I looked at some external data and thought about it some more, this is a 6% to 8% actuarial value benefit.

6% to 8% is better than 0% but it is vastly inferior to paying slightly more money (at most) to get 98% actuarial value coverage via Medicaid Expansion.

And this is a better Republican offer for how to get health care to the working poor than most out there where the answer is to encourage begging, charity or dying quickly in the corner.

Access to primary care is a good thing.  It is the first step to a good medical system as this is where low level concerns can be stabilized, treated and if they are chronic conditions, managed so that they don’t become intermediate or high level concerns that cost a lot of money down the road and significantly impact the quality of life of the individual and their social network.  However, even within that caveat, I am trying to figure out what the value proposition is for someone to go to a PCP for the first time in years as they can now afford it, get diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and then be told that the recommended maintenance medication will cost them hundreds of dollars per year and that any complications are not treatable.   Or the person who goes to their PCP and is attempting to get their asthma under control, their inhaler costs $150 every two months, and the nebulizer machine which allows to use the much cheaper liquid mist albuterol is still $50 and limits treatment to only places with power.  Or the person who comes into the doctor’s office because there is a really nasty infection growing on their hand, and the cheap generic antibiotics at the grocery store pharmacy aren’t working because that infection is MRSA.  That treatment is several tens of thousands of dollars in the best case and a million dollars in a worse case scenario.

It would be good to have access to primary care providers, but a PCP is limited to how much health improvement over the counterfactual of no PCP treatment case if the PCP can’t use most of the tools in the medical tool box appropriately and judiciously.


Berning Down the House

bernie sketchI saw a brief clip of MN Rep. Keith Ellison last night on one of the MSNBC programs to discuss the Iowa caucus results. Ellison supports Bernie Sanders, but he doesn’t fit the “Bernie bro” stereotype so derided in comments here. He’s calm and gracious, qualities he no doubt had ample opportunity to hone when he co-represented the Gopher State with hysterical rightwing nitwit Michele Bachmann.

Maybe trial by pinwheel-eyed lunatic gives people clarity of thought if they can refrain from responding in kind. After discussing Clinton’s tagline, “a progressive who gets things done,” Ellison noted that we can thank Bernie Sanders for the fact that both Democratic candidates embrace the progressive label. He’s right.

Clinton will almost certainly lose in New Hampshire, probably by a wide margin, and though that’s expected, the Beltway pundit frenzy that began in muted tones when her lead in Iowa slipped and ratcheted up when she squeaked out the narrowest possible victory will roar to life full force if she loses. The din will grow deafening in the week and a half before the voting starts again in Nevada and South Carolina.

Team Clinton will have a choice to make. Team Sanders will too, but more of the pressure will be on Clinton if she loses big in New Hampshire. The Clinton campaign can wink and nod while “outside” groups like the loathsome David Brock’s “Correct the Record” organization ramps up attacks on Sanders, or she can publicly call off the dogs. I hope she does the latter.

Here’s a sample of the garbage Brock and his minions, who now include Peter Daou (the same Daou who once begged Democrats to remember that Sarah Palin used to be “a little girl”), plan to dump:

“When the conservative machine cranks up and kicks into high gear, Bernie will be eviscerated, turned into an aging cartoon Commie, a flip-flopping America-hater, a 60s holdover writing bizarre essays about free sex and child rape fantasies, a non-Democrat Democrat whose embrace of the NRA undermines his claims to purity, a politician who voted against the Amber Alert system, a draft dodger, and a man who thinks women’s rights are a distraction,” Daou wrote in a post for Blue Star Media.

Yeah. And if Clinton wins, the Wingnut Wurlitzer will paint Hillary as a castrating bitch who allowed her unsatisfied man to go wilding on random interns, a man-hating lesbian goon who murdered Vince Foster, a power-mad hag who sold out Israel to appease the mullahs in Iran, a tool of the gay agenda who will confiscate every red-blooded American sportsman’s firearms and use them to perform involuntary shotgun same-sex marriages, after which the guns will be melted down to create a giant metal vagina shrine for the White House lawn.

The Democratic candidates can’t control the conservative media, but they can control how they react to it. They can and should respond to its attacks, but they ought to refuse to do its dirty work on each other.

There’s a lot of talk about the disaffected youngs who are disgusted with the political process and how that bodes ill for the Democrats, especially if HRC is the nominee. Maybe we could flip the script if our candidates continue to have substantive discussions that focus on their different visions of achieving similar goals while the Republican candidates use every forum to rip each other to pieces, lie about Democrats and paint present-day America as a post-apocalyptic hellscape. Worth a shot?

President Obama’s Remarks On Iran Deal

I thought I’d drop this here in case you missed it. Once again, the Republicans are OUTRAGED at how diplomacy works. Fuck them.

I’ll try and find the actual video to embed, but until then, click this link for the video and the outline.

UPDATE: Try this video, looks like it’s the entire speech.