Open Thread: Not Much Daylight Between Trump & Cruz

Meanwhile, per the NYTimes:

BALLWIN, Mo. — A brief accounting of Senator Ted Cruz’s arguments against Donald J. Trump on Friday evening:

— He “affirmatively encourages violence.”

— He “disrespects the voters.”

— His campaign is “facing allegations of physical violence” against a reporter.

— He has created an environment that all but ensures future clashes.

And so, Mr. Cruz was asked on Saturday morning, can you still support Mr. Trump if he is the Republican nominee?

“My answer is the same: I committed at the outset,” Mr. Cruz told reporters, before a rally inside a high school gymnasium here. “I will support the Republican nominee, whoever it is.”

On Saturday, when asked again about Chicago, Mr. Cruz began by criticizing “protesters that resort to violence” in a bid to “silence speech that they don’t like.”…

Asked again to explain the prospect of eventually supporting Mr. Trump anyway, Mr. Cruz walked away to begin his rally.

Yeah, Cruz would accept Trump’s VP offer in a heartbeat. A racing, accelerated heartbeat:

Good Luck with Your Asparagus

asparagus In the future, the fatuous neocon twits who make a living stoking working class racial resentments and ginning up religious hysteria in the service of lower corporate taxes and industrial deregulation will probably be called “Romney Republicans.” A moniker will be required to divide “respectable” Republicans from the Trumpean rabble, and maybe they’ll settle on that name.

But all post-Eisenhower Republicans consciously exploited dangerous racial and social fault lines so they could loot the national treasury on behalf of the wealthy and connected. There’s nothing respectable about using that cheap bit of misdirection. They couldn’t sell bullshit like “trickle-down economics” on its non-existent merits, so they sold downscale white folks an endless line of ooga-booga instead.

But now Trump is telling the rubes they can have dessert without eating their vegetables, and he’s expanded the menu to include new villains, such as job-offshorers and lying establishment politicians. And why would anyone gnash down “profits for me and parsimony for thee” when they can skip directly to dessert and openly (and literally) bash minorities, gays, uppity women, Muslims, etc., while having their economic pain validated?

Stung by Trump’s success in separating them from their meal tickets, some in the Romney wing are unsparing in their criticism of a once-prized constituent segment. Via valued commenter Arm the Homeless, here’s a sample of the primal scream of one such specimen, The National Review’s Kevin Williamson:

If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy—which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog—you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. The white American under-class is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul. If you want to live, get out of Garbutt [a blue-collar town in New York].

I think “the whelping of human children” is my favorite line. I’m trying (and failing) to recall a time when a prominent conservative writer expressed that level of contempt for fellow white Republicans. It doesn’t seem like a good strategy. Maybe smarter neo-cons will try to co-opt Trump. For all his railing about trade and theatrical rage at companies that offshore jobs, Trump’s tax plan and healthcare schemes are hardly distinguishable from those of, say, Paul Ryan.

I don’t rule out the possibility that a racist demagogue like Trump could win the presidency, but, in the absence of a cataclysmic event like a Paris-style terror attack or sharp economic downturn between now and November, I think it’s unlikely. Still, now that the power of Trumpism has been demonstrated at scale, it won’t go away. Romney Republicans will have to come up with a better answer than “move,” or their wind-up Marcos will keep losing to the Trumps. And that won’t be good for business.

On Donald Trump (Not) Appearing in Chicago

You know what also struck me about Maddow’s timeline clips? The longer he’s on the trail, the hoarser and puffier and more exhausted Trump looks. For all his braggadocio, Trump doesn’t look like a well man.

For further discussion:

Friday Morning Open Thread: Low Bar

While on the other side of the argument…

I’m gonna quote one of those candidates, too: “We win. They lose. That’s my strategy.”
Apart from the running #facepalm tally, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up a long ragged week?

Late-Night Worst Person Open Thread: Senator Mike Lee “Holding Flint Aid Hostage”

Tough competition, but Cruz coat-holder & Backpfeifengesicht club member Mike Lee is a contender. Tim Mak, at the Daily Beast:

The intellectual leader of the tea party movement in the Senate is secretly holding up a bill to help the residents of Flint, Michigan, who have been poisoned by their own water supply…

Lee is using a Senate tactic used to gum up the works known as a “hold,” which is generally kept secret so the lawmaker can remain anonymous. But two senior Senate sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that Lee is behind the maneuver to stall an utterly uncontroversial provision…

His action—or inaction—comes as lawmakers in the Senate are scrambling to advance urgent legislation that would make hundreds of millions in grants and loans available to Flint, which in January declared a state of emergency after thousands of its residents were exposed to toxic levels of lead.

The initiative, which senators want to add to a larger energy policy bill, ultimately doesn’t cost any new government funds, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, since the proposal is paid for with money redirected from a subsidy for the automotive industry…

It’s not a secret any longer, since his hometown Salt Lake Tribune has published an article subheaded “Grandstanding?”:

Sen. Mike Lee is defending his decision to block a vote on a $220 million package to help Flint, Mich., respond to its lead-poisoned drinking water.

Initially, Lee, R-Utah, was part of a group of senators to place a procedural “hold” on the vote, but that group has shrunk and Lee is the only objecting senator to be identified. At first, he declined to comment, but he decided to break his silence Friday.

“Federal aid is not needed at this time,” Lee said in a statement, noting that Michigan has a budget surplus and a “rainy day fund” that it could tap before turning to Congress. “The people and policymakers of Michigan right now have all the government resources they need to fix the problem. And those public resources are being augmented every day by the generosity of individuals, businesses, labor unions and civic organizations of every stripe from across the country. The only thing Congress is contributing to the Flint recovery is political grandstanding.”

If that’s the case, then it is bipartisan grandstanding.

Michigan’s two senators, Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, are sponsoring this proposal with Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Rob Portman of Ohio…

Mike Lee is up for re-election this year, but the only declared Democratic challenger my weak search skills turn up is “untested” marriage therapist Jonathan Swinton — although Blue Dog Jim Matheson seems to be a possibility. Anybody here know enough about Utah politics to judge whether it would be worth funding an Act Blue page to get Mike Lee away from the national levers of power?