Wednesday Morning Open Thread: The RNC Clown Show Continues

gop 2016 convention condolences davies

(Matt Davies via GoComics.com)
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The people responsible for writing the 2016 GOP platform are… divided. Per Buzzfeed:

[A] growing number of delegates — unofficially labeled as “the brevity caucus” — [have become] frustrated with the volume and complexity of its party’s platform. These delegates believe the more than 60-page draft platform is straying from its original purpose of communicating the party’s principles to voters and veering off into unnecessary, wonky debates.

“There’s two main camps right now: There’s a small group, who want to use this for door-knocking,” said Ben Barringer, a delegate from Iowa. “The other groups wants to use it to holding legislators accountable. They want to be more verbose.”…

Graves later told BuzzFeed News in an interview that the platform committee included “frustrated policy wonks” and that the platform was getting too long and complicated to share with the average voter.

“It needs to be more of a communications tool and not the Magna Carta,” she said. “I don’t know who reads these many, many pages.”…

Checking off every single ideological box is a trademark of parties whose members feel doomed to minority status, and this year’s Repubs have a long, long list of boxes to check.

Per the Washington Post:

The Republican Party on Tuesday moved closer to firmly embracing a series of staunchly conservative positions on abortion, gay rights, gun rights and immigration reform in a platform document that takes sharp aim at Obama administration policies and reinforces long-standing party orthodoxy on major issues.

Among the specific policies the platform committee endorsed here is a “border wall” that would cover “the entirety of the Southern Border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”…

There was widespread agreement on the party’s position on economic and national security issues and the tougher stance on social issues reinforced the party’s conservative view despite Trump’s calls for relaxed abortion restrictions and his support for some rights for gay and transgender Americans.

Trump was barely mentioned by the 112-member platform committee, composed mostly of longtime conservative activists. The candidate and his team had little presence during the discussions, ceding the details of the platform to party faithful…

And then the last Republican president showed up on everybody’s social media feeds, just to remind us how bad things were, and could be again…


(via The Hill)

Solemn, formal occasions have always been difficult for Dubya to endure, but trying to start a line dance at a memorial service is… special.



Chilcot Drops

A.Y._Jackson_-_A_Copse,_Evening,_1918

This is something I hope Adam will take up in earnest, but we should probably have a thread for the Chilcot report on Tony Blair and the British rush to war in Iraq.  Here’s a link to the Guardian’s coverage.

In brief, and in my reading of the press reports only, it looks like Sir John Chilcot has produced a devastating body of work that effectively condemns both Blair and Bush — and by extension the many more who enabled them in their catastrophic rush to war.

That’s obviously going to hurt, and we’ve already got a taste of the derp to come in David Frum’s claptrap, discussed below.  We’ll see a lot more ass-covering, excuse-bandying, and outright bullshit from all the usual suspects over the next few days.

But what struck me most in the immediate reaction to Chilcot’s report was one snippet from the few minutes of Tony Blair’s press conference that I managed to catch.

There, he admitted the failure to plan for what to do after an initial military victory (you think?) — but he said he stood by his decision to go to war and would make the same decision now, given the intelligence at the time.  He admitted that the intelligence was faulty, but noted that leaders have to decide based on what they know at any given time, which is certainly true.

The problem with that pivot to “bad intelligence” is that it is bullshit.

Those in a position to know understood at the edge of war that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction as generally understood.  I give you a speech that should be much better known than it is, Robin Cook’s personal address to the House of Commons to explain his resignation from Tony Blair’s government:

 

Here’s a text version.

Our leaders knew that the stated reason for war in Iraq was false.  They did it anyway.  There’s plenty of blame to go round — and while it’s not clear how much individual members of Congress or Parliament knew, compared to the heads of government and the cabinets in both the US and the UK, some of that responsibilty certainly accrues to those legislators who went along to get along.

But the central villains of this piece are the leaders who made the choice to cajole and coerce their colleagues and their countries into war.

One last thought:  the upcoming election is between someone who’s learned from the Iraq disaster, and someone who just yesterday hearts him some murderous Saddam.

Image:  A. Y. Jackson, A Copse, Evening 1918, 1918



Late Night Open Thread: Trump Doubles Down on Defending the Indefensible

If this dude wasn’t the presumptive presidential nominee of one of the two major parties right now, I swear this would be a ‘let’s talk about taking Gramp’s checkbook and car keys away before something terrible happens’ incident. As described at Bloomberg Politics [warning: autoplay]:

An embattled Donald Trump urgently rallied his most visible supporters to defend his attacks on a federal judge’s Mexican ancestry during a conference call on Monday in which he ordered them to question the judge’s credibility and impugn reporters as racists.

“We will overcome,” Trump said, according to two supporters who were on the call and requested anonymity to share their notes with Bloomberg Politics. “And I’ve always won and I’m going to continue to win. And that’s the way it is.”

There was no mention of apologizing or backing away from his widely criticized remarks about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing cases against the Trump University real-estate program.

When former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to inform Trump that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit in an e-mail on Sunday, Trump repeatedly demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff.

“Take that order and throw it the hell out,” Trump said.

Told the memo was sent by Erica Freeman, a staffer who circulates information to surrogates, Trump said he didn’t know her. He openly questioned how the campaign could defend itself if supporters weren’t allowed to talk.

“Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”

Brewer, who was on the call with prominent Republicans like Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, interjected again. “You all better get on the page,” she told him….

When former AZ Gov. Jan Brewer is your voice of reason & moderation, well…it’s time to find some leftover from a prior GOP administration who’ll speak for the dark side. In the Washington Post, Alberto R. Gonzales, WH counsel & U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, “Trump has a right to ask if Judge Gonzalo Curiel is fair”:

[S]ome have said that Trump’s criticism of the judge reflects on his qualifications to be president. If the criticism is solely based on Curiel’s race, that is something voters will take into account in deciding whether he is fit to be president. If, however, Trump is acting from a sincere motivation to protect his constitutional right to a fair trial, his willingness to exercise his rights as an American citizen and raising the issue even in the face of severe criticism is surely also something for voters to consider…

Trump’s not different or worse than prior Republican presidents; he’s just more overt.



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Lest We Forget

The Repubs have been just this bad for a loooong time. But in Dubya’s day, they could get away with being less public about their non-stop venality.

Apart from adjusting the signal-to-noise ratio, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Open Thread: Repubs Turn Their Lonely Eyes to… ‘Satan’?



And yet
Politico, this afternoon:

Ted Cruz on Tuesday nabbed an unlikely endorsement: the backing of a Bush.

Neil Bush, a brother of George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, was listed (along with his wife) as one of 13 new additions to Cruz’s national finance team. The campaign said the new additions are all former supporters of other candidates, including Bush, Rand Paul, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio.

This follows the release last week of a list of several other previous Jeb Bush backers now supporting Cruz, whose hardline conservative approach is generally at odds with the one Jeb Bush took…

That would be Neil ‘Silverado-Ignite!’ Bush, runt of his litter. The GOP “Establishment” — such as it remains — lunges for what it perceives as the least worse choice. Another ‘risky’ tactic in a season of increasingly wild swings. Per Bloomberg View:

… The bad news [for the RNC] is that the vehicle of Trump’s defeat is turning out to be Senator Ted Cruz. With his faux-folksy recitations of Dr. Seuss and “The Princess Bride,” his singular insistence that Obamacare could be repealed, and non-stop obstruction fueled by his self-regard as the only principled man in Washington, he helped grind governing to a halt in recent years. One of the few points of bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill is antipathy to Cruz. Vice President Joe Biden captured the feeling at the annual Gridiron Club dinner on March 5, joking that if President Barack Obama really wanted to put his mark on the Supreme Court, he should name Cruz to the open seat. “Before you know it, you’ll have eight vacancies.”

The emergence of Cruz as the savior of his party offers the painful choice between a fast death by gunfire (Trump romping to an unbeatable plurality of delegates within days) or a slow one by poison, as Cruz chips away at Trump’s lead with his latest wins in Kansas and Maine. But there’s no time to waste. The most super of Tuesdays is coming up on March 15 with the winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida. If Trump were to win both, the fat lady has sung.
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Late-Night Schadenfreude Open Thread: Vaya con el Diablo, JEB!

jeb ebb via dan savage

(via Dan Savage)

Clearing our shelves (for the season) — everything must go! Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

… He spent gobs of money. He hired all the best people. He had the name and the pedigree. And every one of those conventional credentials were turned against him as vehicles for mockery and derision by He, Trump, the wild-card for whom nobody had planned. Trump mocked Bush’s spending for its lack of results. Trump mocked Bush’s campaign for its lack of results. Trump mocked Bush himself for being low-energy, and for his lack of results. Meanwhile, Bush and his campaign worked day and night to lend obvious substance to every charge levelled by He, Trump…

(Do not make the mistake of thinking that I sympathize in any way with the sad political destruction of Jeb (!) Bush—except, of course, in the sense that it makes the presidency of He, Trump more of a possibility—because I still remember how, out of raw political ambition, he made the lives of a lot of good people miserable. Fuckabuncha him forever for having done that.)

Now, though, Jeb (!) is merely the symbol of a political party and a nominating process gone truly rogue, burning and consuming itself, using itself as its own fuel like some great breeder reactor of rage and fear. Bush, like all the members of the now vestigial Republican “establishment,” who spent 30 years developing the perfect context for something like the Trump campaign to occur, was stunned into incoherence when it actually happened. Watching him in his farewell on Saturday night was to recall what Abraham Lincoln said about General William Rosecrans after the Union’s defeat at Chickamauga; Rosecrans, Lincoln mused, was “confused and stunned, like a duck hit on the head.”…

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Jeb Bush Takes Ball, Goes Home

Per NBC:

Jeb Bush Suspends 2016 Presidential Campaign
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, once considered the Republican Party’s most likely presidential nominee, is ending his campaign after a dismal showing in South Carolina’s primary.

“The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, and I really respect their decision, so tonight I am suspending my campaign,” he told backers in the Palmetto State…

His campaign had hoped that South Carolina, a state rich with veterans and traditional Republican voters, would give the former governor a much-needed boost after big losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. Both former president George W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush campaigned for Jeb Bush in the state.

The loss comes after an enormous investment of resources by Jeb Bush and his allies.

Together, they spent nearly $81 million in TV ads during the presidential election – with $76 million coming from the Right to Rise Super PAC – according to ad-spending data from SMG Delta…

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Since this is Mr. Brinks Truck full of Right-to-Rise, scion of the Bush Crime Family, he’s the one candidate whose “suspension” might not actually be an ending. If it comes down to a brokered RNC convention — Reince and his guys frantically looking for a loophole that will let them declare Trump a non-person, while the Cruz and Rubio backers literally fist-fight in the hallways — I can see the Bush apparatus “graciously offering” to accept the burden of figurehead.

Of course, at the moment, the CW says that would be Paul Ryan‘s big chance, but how many College Repub ratfvcker divisions do the Ryan supporters command?