Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Spaghetti Plots of Doom

gop doomsday spaghetti polling toles

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

I went looking for some information on this, and it’s all over the Twitchyverse but nowhere else I can find. The wingnuts are plenty bitter, if RedState is any indication

Sarah Palin Expected to Continue Endorsing Sarah Palin Today
Donald Trump has been teasing a “major endorsement” that he is scheduled to release today in Iowa, and the rampant speculation is that it will be Sarah Palin’s. I don’t really know if this particular speculation is true, but I do know that if Palin doesn’t endorse Trump today, she will endorse him eventually. At this point, only a particularly aggressive hair splitter would concede that she has not endorsed Trump already.

The last few months have not been pretty for conservatives who have long denied with angry vehemence the allegation that many of the leading figures in the conservative movement were only in it for the money and/or the attention. Liberals have long claimed that this was true about people like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and a long list of others, especially including Sarah Palin…

The going narrative in and around DC is that the Trump assault has been an eye-opening phenomenon to the GOP Establishment. Maybe, maybe not. I have my doubts about Mitch McConnell and gang’s ability to learn anything, and they are moreover already cozying up to the Trump organization anticipating that he will win the nomination.

On the other hand, it has been an alarmingly eye-opening phenomenon to millions of ordinary conservative Americans who enjoyed consuming talk radio and the serial works of conservative authors, under the (apparently naive) belief that they meant what they said. Because when Trump – who spent his entire life believing in none of those things – came along and started getting ratings, almost all of them to a man jumped on board the train, because the Trump boomlet was so easy to monetize…

… Palin was a tremendously powerful force for good as recently as 2010, in helping many conservatives to oust moderates whose anti-conservative heresies paled noticeably compared to Trump’s. Somewhere along the way, though, Palin realized that there was a lot of money to be made by presenting herself as the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by a so-called “smart set,” which she in her wily caginess was always able (in her own mind) to outsmart…

Say what you will about Palin, but she is no dummy. She’s smart enough to realize which side her bread is buttered on and it is the side that increases her personal profile by siding with Trump. What she is doing is a rather shrewd way to keep her personal profile high.

It may not be especially principled, or honorable, or in keeping with anything she has professed to believe in since she burst onto the national scene in 2008, but it isn’t stupid…

Apart from waiting on tender hooks (/snark) for the next clown shoe to drop, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Open Thread: American Celebritocracy

Apart from Keeping America Weird, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Friday Morning Open Thread: New York State of Mind

Jim Newell, at Slate:

During Thursday night’s debate, Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump acted out a debate almost verbatim that they’ve been having across separate radio interviews the past couple of days regarding Trump’s supposed “New York values.” And, at least on Thursday night, Trump got the better of Cruz.

Moderator Neil Cavuto asked Cruz to elaborate on his statement that Trump “embodies” New York values.

“I think most people know exactly what New York values are,” Cruz responded. Well, Ted, there are a couple of implications there, and he went with both. “Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro–gay marriage.” Check. “Focus around money and the media.” Check.

That allowed Trump, as he has in radio interviews this week, to wield the one single time that conservatives have ever shown solidarity with New York City, Sept. 11, against Cruz. He did it well.

“New York is a great place. It’s got great people. It’s got loving people, wonderful people,” Trump began. “When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. You had two”—an interruption for applause, including from Cruz—“You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down.”…

Trump managed to win the auditorium and make Cruz look callous…

That’s no small feat, Ted — making Donald Trump look like the compassionate, humane guy.

Ed Kilgore, at NYMag, “Republican Candidates Fight Over the ‘Mantle of Anger'”:

Ted Cruz, whose candidacy was already staked to the premise that conservatives can win the presidency without a single concession to anyone else, managed to ratchet up the high-pitched chattering whine of ideological extremism in his rhetoric via a closing statement that focused on Benghazi!, a pseudo-scandal that everyone other than The Faithful have written off for many months. Marco Rubio, his voice raised to a new stridency, is now routinely joining Ben Carson in blowing a Bircher dog-whistle about Barack Obama as aiming at a “fundamental change” in the nature of the country. He’s also now rationalizing his crabwise changes on immigration policy as a response to ISIS. Chris Christie, himself the target of attacks for being too much like Obama, suggested that massively expanded NSA surveillance could solve the problem of identifying “radical Islamists,” and sounded so much like a 1960s law-and-order candidate that you half expected him to attack the Earl Warren Court for taking the handcuffs off the criminals and putting them on the police. Even Jeb Bush, the only candidate to offer a real objection to Trump’s Islamophobia, seemed to suggest his rivals were mere paper tigers in assaulting the godless liberals…

In the end, the domination of the endless debate time by everything other than the basic economic issues you might expect from a business network showed how far into the fever swamps the GOP contest has strayed. When Donald Trump responded to the attack from host-state governor Nikki Haley on “the angriest voices” by saying “I will gladly welcome the mantle of anger,” he did not stand out at all. And after all the talk about the Republican field and the party Establishment conspiring to stop Trump, that’s the irony: they are increasingly the party of Trumpism With or Without Trump–plus John Kasich.

Jamelle Bouie, also at Slate, “The GOP Is Learning to Love Trump (Because it doesn’t have a choice)”:

Each of the more mainstream candidates—Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Govs. John Kasich and Chris Christie, and former Gov. Jeb Bush—are running as men who understand voter anger. “I understand why Americans are feeling frustrated and scared and angry when we have a president who refuses to acknowledge the threat we face and even worse, who acts as an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism,” said Cruz in response to a question about national security.

But Trump doesn’t understand Republican anger. He is angry. “We have no borders. Our vets are being treated horribly. Illegal immigration is beyond belief. Our country is being run by incompetent people. And yes, I am angry,” said Trump. To label him angry, he explains, is just to be accurate. “I won’t be angry when we fix it, but until we fix it, I’m very, very angry. And I say that to Nikki. So when Nikki said that, I wasn’t offended. She said the truth.”

Trump is an angry man, and Republican voters—or at least, 34 percent of them—love it…

Which is to say that, for the establishment, this debate changed nothing. The status quo is where it was on Wednesday. Trump is still the front-runner. And judging from his dominance in the debate, he might even expand his lead. Cruz is still the next most likely choice, and if he loses support, the beneficiary isn’t Rubio—it’s Trump. It didn’t have to be this way—there was a point where mainstream Republican voices could have stopped Trump with money and effort—but now it’s too late.

Now, instead of brushing Trump aside, Republican elites are learning to love the Donald and accept him as a potential nominee, or at least a candidate they can work with. Put differently, Republicans are beginning to prepare for a world where Donald Trump, celebrity nativist, is their leader.

So current opinion (with which I concur) is that Donald Trump had a great night, Ted Cruz probably didn’t lose any points with his Talibangelical base as he campaigns for God-King of the Republic of Gilead… and if Christie, Kasich and Jeb can’t be persuaded to drop the fvck out already to give Rubio a scrambling chance when the two leading monsters manage to inflict serious wounds on each other, then the GOP as we have known it is very, very burnt toast. Which is poetically appropriate, since burnt toast (activated charcoal) is an old folk remedy for the treatment of ingested poisons; unfortunately, it’s no good at all against corrosive agents or if the patient has been drinking…

My left ear is completely blocked and I have a mild case of the spindizzies. I know from long experience that it won’t kill me, but it doesn’t help my temper (or my typing).

Apart from self-pity, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up a less-than-optimal January week?

Post-Debate Open Thread: Noo Yark Citeee Values!

Those Statue-of-Liberty values (give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… )? The notorious claw-your-way-out-of-poverty-and-obscurity, anything-to-make-a-dollar, I-could-care-less-which-church-you-attend, first capital city of America values?

As reported during the Guardian liveblog:

Bartiromo asks Cruz about Cruz’s dig at Trump for having “New York values”. What did he mean by that?

“I think most people know exactly what New York values are,” Cruz says. And then to Bartiromo:

You’re from New York, so you might not. …Everyone understands that the values of New York City are socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, centered on money.

Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I’m just sayin.’

Trump replies: “Conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F Buckley and others… New York is a great place, it’s got great people, it’s got loving people,” Trump says.

Then he plays the 9/11 card:

When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely.

Even the smell of death, it was with us for months. And we rebuilt. … That was a very insulting statement that Ted made.

I was born in NYC, I got the hell out as soon as I could (age 17-3/4), and I’d still defend it against Ted Cruz to the death. His death.

“Former presidential campaign spox & senior Congressional aide” (& Rubio supporter):

So’s the San Francisco media, of course —


Open Thread: GOP Seeks Strong “Daddy”, Will Settle for Ranting Bully

Due disclaimer, from Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

There’s little point right now in trying to make sense of the Republican presidential field. There’s little point in trying to do that until somebody actually casts some kind of vote in a middle school in Iowa in the first week of February. Donald Trump leads all the national polls. Ted Cruz leads all the Iowa polls. Trump scares the bejesus out of the Republican elite, none of the members of which would piss on Ted Cruz if his head was on fire. This is something of a dilemma, or it would be, if the Republican Party actually were still a political party, instead of an unwieldy planetary system of competing interests groups and billionaires, all with their own gravitational fields, all affecting each other’s orbits in bizarre and strange ways…

That being said, here’s Rich “Palin Sent Starbursts Up My Leg” Lowry…

Meanwhile, this morning, per the Washington Post, company paper for the town whose monopoly industry is politics:

BALTIMORE — All Republican eyes will be on South Carolina Thursday evening, where their presidential candidates will gather for the latest debate. But the more momentous GOP gathering may be here, 500 miles north in a waterfront hotel, where lawmakers will start plowing their own distinct path through this unpredictable year.

Those are the marching orders of Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has used his 11 weeks as House speaker to clarify that he and the Republicans he leads won’t be wilting in the shadows as the presidential race dominates 2016.

Quite the opposite: With the race for the nomination deeply unsettled, Ryan has moved to claim a central role in shaping the 2016 Republican agenda and promoting a high-minded vision for his party — one that is now threatened by the populist bombast of Donald Trump and other presidential candidates.

“The kind of role I envision … is to help push ideas and policies, and help make us a party of ideas and make the campaign about a better way forward instead of personalities,” Ryan said in a recent interview.

The 2012 vice presidential nominee is now vowing to turn the House into a election-year think tank, telling reporters this week’s retreat would be “the beginnings of the conversation of assembling an agenda to take to the country.”…

Which sounds, to me, like: Hunker down, boys, we’ll just have to lie low till this ‘populist’ fad blows over and we can scavenge what’s left from the rubble!

If Speaker Ryan represents the “establishment” GOP Permanent Party, this may be good news for Donald Trump (and/or Ted Cruz) but it’s hardly good news for the Repubs’ chances in November, is it?