Thursday Morning Open Thread: Bill Weld Is A Better Man Than All of These Pretenders Put Together

That would be Joe ‘You Lie‘ Walsh, Mark ‘Hiking the Appalachian Trail‘ Sanford, and John ‘My Only Loyalty Is To My Own Self-Interest’ Kasich. None of them are fit to hold Weld’s glass of amber-colored liquid:

The anti-Trump movement inside the Republican Party — long a political wasteland — is feeling new urgency to mount a credible opposition to Trump before it’s too late. With state deadlines for nominating contests rapidly approaching in the fall, potential candidates face pressure to decide on running within the next few weeks. So far, only former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld has declared that he is running, but he has struggled to gain traction.

Republicans considering bids, as well as those trying to draft other candidates, acknowledge that defeating Trump appears to be nearly impossible but argue that a recession or an unforeseen change in the political climate could weaken him enough to make a primary challenge more than a Never Trump fantasy…

Inside the White House, neither Trump nor his team consider Weld or the prospective candidates to be serious threats because there has been no evidence of a groundswell of grass-roots support behind them.

“There’s no discussion of any of them or any of that,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. “None of them even has risen to the level of a nickname.”

The Republican National Committee is using aggressive measures to stave off any possible primary tussle. RNC members passed a resolution this year giving Trump the party’s “undivided support” and effectively merged with Trump’s campaign. “Republicans are firmly behind the president and any effort to challenge him in a primary is bound to go absolutely nowhere,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement…

At the center of the fledgling movement is Bill Kristol, a longtime conservative commentator, who has become a power broker for anti-Trump Republicans — and a target of scorn for Trump and his followers.

Kristol said he respects Weld, along with others who might run, but said his “dream scenario” would be for Trump to weaken this fall and a more prominent Republican decide to get in. This would have echoes of 1968, when then-President Lyndon B. Johnson’s reelection campaign was upended by Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s near upset in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, prompting Johnson to withdraw and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy to enter the race…

Spoiler alert: Bobby Kennedy was assassinated during his campaign, and McCarthy’s ‘Clean for Gene’ supporters (of whom my mom was one!) became the most maligned bunch of naifs & purity trolls until the emergence of a certain senator from Vermont.

None of these fakers are in it for anything but the publicity, and Bill ‘Always Wrong’ Kristol’s imprimatur only confirms that the best the Republican Party can hope for is a swift death before it can be further defaced by the parasites who’ve captured it.

Late Night Open Thread: FTFNYTimes

Once the rockets go up, who cares *where* they come down?
That’s not my department, says Wehrner von Braun…

Racism: The Very Gross Elephant in the GOP’s Room (Part I)

(Tom Toles via

Answer: A vestigial sense among the keepers of St. Ronnie’s legacy that the time for public celebration of blatant racism was not yet ripe.

Historical documentation is always nice, but anybody with the most nominal political awareness knew Ronald Reagan was a racist. He famously started his campaign in a Mississippi town best known for the KKK murder of civil-rights activists. It was widely reported during the campaign that his father-in-law’s John Bircher cronies deliberated groomed Reagan as a prettier, more trainable version of Pat Buchanan or Bill O’Reilly — the ‘old-fashioned blue-collar working-class guy’, aka, someone who’d promote racism as a public virtue.

By the time he was in the Oval Office, the openly racist ‘conservative’ media like National Review were publicly exulting that ‘Morning in America’ was code for ‘send the colored and their commie-liberal supporters back where they belong’, and the squishy-moderate publications like Fred Barnes’ New Republic were half-heartedly suggesting that Ronnie wasn’t *really* a racist, he just pretended to be one to please the ‘hardcore’ Republican voter.

Nixon’s infamous ‘Southern Strategy’ was the HIV infection of the Republican party; Reagan’s success, followed by the Bush terms, was the emergence of full-blown political AIDS; Trump is just the Kaposi’s sarcoma that announces the disease in the most public way possible.


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Elijah Cummings Reports On A Michael Flynn – Tom Barrack Grift

ABC has the report.

Quotes from their summary:

“Today’s report reveals new and extensive evidence that corroborates Committee whistle-blowers and exposes how corporate and foreign interests are using their unique access to advocate for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the committee.

The investigation focuses on company called IP3 International, which is run by a group of retired American generals, and their years-long effort to promote a plan to sell dozens of nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The company has been aided in its efforts by two well-known Trump advisers: Flynn and Barrack, a California investment executive who has deep ties in the Middle East.

Barrack promoted the effort as part of what he called a “Middle East Marshall Plan” despite concerns from some White House officials and lawmakers that Saudi Arabia’s true goal was to obtain technology for nuclear weapons, which could heighten tensions in the unstable region.

The efforts continued until recently. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry made several trips to Saudi Arabia apparently related to this “plan.”

I put “plan” in quotes because what I’ve seen of IP3 International and its predecessor companies suggests that their plan was something like

  • Sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries
  • Sell security personnel to guard the reactors
  • Peace in the Middle East and PROFIT!

One of the earlier plans was to facilitate selling Russian reactors to Middle Eastern countries. That was quickly switched out, perhaps when someone pointed out that it was poor form under “America First” not to be selling American reactors. No more than one or two of the board members of these companies have any experience at all with commercial nuclear power and the restrictions on selling it.

I haven’t read the report yet, but from what I’m seeing, I think my take is a bit different. I think the whole thing is some sort of grift, although I can’t figure out exactly how it works. A colleague says he saw a very similar “plan” back in the George W. Bush administration.

I wrote my own analysis earlier this year, here, here, and here.

Takeback the Takeback

Trump has now, predictably, reversed himself on whether he was upset with the crowd chanting “send her back” and said they’re all “incredible patriots”. He also denied that Melania and Ivanka asked him to tone it down on the racism, so, as Betty said earlier, that was bullshit that no decent reporter should have accepted.

The pattern of something terrible happening at a rally, Trump kinda-sorta disavowing it, then coming back with a full-throated defense of his core racist supporters, is common and predictable. There’s no reason that the media should report one of his little takebacks without noting that he’s taken back the takeback before.

(If you want to see something positive, here’s a minute of Ilhan Omar being welcomed home by supporters at the Minneapolis airport.)