Sunday Evening Open Thread: (Further) Confusion to Our Enemies!

From the NYTimes, “Turbulent Race Could Mean Cash Crunch for Republican National Committee”:

Confronted with a prolonged presidential nomination fight and two leading candidates whom donors are uneasy about, the Republican National Committee could be contending with a cash crunch that limits its ability to pour resources into battleground states…

The R.N.C. reported having just over $15 million in the bank at the end of February. But at the close of the last financial reporting period about $4.5 million of that money was restricted to costs such as payments for its headquarters and legal affairs. In 2008, the party had over $21 million on hand at the same point in the race, and more than $23 million in 2012.

The money worries come as many high-level party strategists in Washington and swing states are beginning to worry that the R.N.C. will be unable to fully fund what are called “victory programs,” the money sent to the most competitive states for organizing and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Hard-fought presidential states like Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania also have Republican-held Senate seats up for grabs this year, and the results may determine who controls the Senate

Mr. Spicer confirmed that the R.N.C. is in discussions with all three Republican presidential campaigns about joint fundraising agreements, as reported by the Washington Post. But Senator Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, candidates facing longer odds, may have little incentive to raise funds for the party. And Donald J. Trump has no major fundraising network to turn to, and will have to build from scratch…

Who would ever have suspected that an exhaustively winnowed trio of IGMFY narcissists would be less than interested in providing support to lesser members of “their” party? Or that the GOP donor class, as every individual refines their very special demands, would fail to coalesce around a single candidate?

And if that isn’t enough enjoyment for a Sunday evening, Tim Mak at the Daily Beast reports on “The Secret Movement to Draft General James Mattis for President”:

An anonymous group of conservative billionaires is ready to place their bets on a man dubbed “Mad Dog,” hoping to draft him into the presidential race to confront Donald Trump.

Think of it as a Plan B should Trump be nominated by the Republican Party in Cleveland: swing behind retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis and press him into service yet again as a third-party candidate…

“Everyone is hoping that Ted Cruz pulls it out, but I think a great deal of Republicans would rally behind an American hero if the choice is between Mattis and Trump,” said John Noonan, a former Jeb Bush aide now involved in the project to draft Mattis…

The strategy would not be for Mattis to win, at least at first—the operatives behind this potential bid would only be seeking to deny Trump and Clinton the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the general election outright…

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Apart from checking the popcorn stocks, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend?



Late Night Open Thread: Schadenfreude Strikes Again

As though anyone with a historical memory extending back more than six months ever expected Donald Trump to stand by a signed pledge, once it became inconvenient.

For fairness (and because I enjoyed it), Jim Newell raises the question “Why Did Ted Cruz Spend Seven Months Sucking Up to Donald Trump?”:

“If you look at a number of the candidates that took on Donald Trump early on,” Sen. Ted Cruz told Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes on Wednesday, “they ended up as roadkill.”

These comments mark the first public occasion of Cruz describing the rationale behind his roughly seven-month strategy of kissing Donald Trump’s ass. Seven months ago seems like a quaint and gentler time in American politics, considering that Trump and his allies are now, for example, pushing the message that Heidi Cruz is Thomas Eagleton without the looks. These garbage attacks, which are really happening, worked the usually self-possessed Cruz into a lather on Thursday, culminating in Cruz calling Trump a “sniveling coward.” (He was not so enraged, however, as to rule out supporting Trump should he become the nominee. Country comes first.)…

Cruz is a smart, calculating politician, and surely from the beginning he recognized that Trump was a nightmarish fraud. The reasoning here that he didn’t go after his principal rival for the nomination because he was worried about Trump trouncing him confirms cowardice on his part. It also promotes a causal myth about why those other candidates who did go after Trump became “roadkill.” Worst of all, it portrays the relationship that Cruz sought with Trump too innocently. He wasn’t making an end-run around Trump so much as he was using Trump as a tackle to clear his own lane through the field…

What’s most inexcusable and morally shameful about Cruz during this time—and he would probably agree—is the way he stood down during some of Trump’s vilest moments…

I agree with Cole that Cruz would be an even worse president than Trump, if only because Cruz has actual plans and goals were he to reach the Oval Office. On the other hand, I also think Ted Cruz is such a repellant excuse for a human being, even by Repub standards, that if a coup is attempted at the Cleveland convention the stalking horse will be “Anyone But Ted Cruz.” (Probably Paul Ryan, if he’ll offer Kasich the VP slot, although Willard Romney can never be ruled out of fruitless contention). Someone at TNR said Cruz seemed to be “fetal pig tissue grown in an old cowboy boot”, which sums up his affect nicely.



Thursday Evening Open Thread: Welcome…

gop reality mar 16 danziger

(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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Per Raw Story, Lindsay Graham reminds his fellow Repubs they had a better choice, but noooo….

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) predicted on Thursday that Republicans would “probably” lose the 2016 presidential race because both of the leading GOP candidates were unappealing to most voters.

After ending his 2016 bid for the Republican nomination, Graham begrudgingly decided to back Cruz, a man who he once joked about murdering. In fact, Graham said earlier this year that choosing between Cruz and Donald Trump was “like being shot or poisoned. What does it really matter?”…

Video at the link, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Apart from sweet sweet schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Saturday Funnies Open Thread: Trump’s Not For Dumping

trump cat swallows gop elephant toles

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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There’s something in the conservatives’ favorite book about falling into the pit one has dug… The Washington Post, company paper for the town where the monopoly industry is politics, reports:

A secretive group of Republican operatives and conservative leaders convened Thursday morning for more than three hours to discuss ways to unite the right against Donald Trump, with a presentation about the feasibility of mounting a third-party challenge as well as extensive deliberations about whether a coalition of anti-Trump forces could prevent the billionaire mogul from securing the party’s presidential nomination at the July convention in Cleveland.

“It’s certainly not too late,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said as he left the session. “You could get another party on the ballot. A candidate could be picked as late as August…”…

At Esquire, Mr. Charles P. Pierce disagrees:

… What influence do these people truly believe they have? If their alternative is Tailgunner Ted Cruz, an oleaginous and friendless theocrat with a very serious political messiah complex, how dare they decide that He, Trump is outside the mainstream? If their alternative is not Cruz, then what in the hell do they think they’re about, anyway?

The notion of a Third Way candidate in Cleveland is patently absurd. For one thing, the threat of a Trump uprising is not an idle one, especially if he shows up with north of 1000 delegates. Second, what makes them think that Cruz will get out of the way for, say, Paul Ryan or, worse, Willard Romney? Even if you accept the notion that He, Trump is not the perfect manifestation of the conservative prion disease afflicting the Republicans, and I don’t for a moment accept that, you cannot deny that Cruz is an even more perfect product of the Party’s madness. After all, he will show up with a boatload of votes fairly won over the previous seven months, a legitimate claim to be the party’s second choice, and his profound belief that the Deity has marked him to lead this nation to Canaan. Who’s going to tell him he’s wrong? Quin Hillyer? And is there any doubt that both He, Trump and the Tailgunner are greasy enough to enter into an ad hoc alliance to blow the whole thing sky high if they don’t get what they want?…

Ed Kilgore, at NYMag, is even more dismissive of the “GOP Cabal”:

… This and many accounts of schemes to rig the convention against Trump — or otherwise keep him out of the White House through means other than beating him in the primaries — generally suffer from an extreme overvaluation of the ability of Republicans to reach and execute a complex coordinated strategy. If they had that capacity, would 17 people have run for president in this cycle? Would it have taken the Establishment so long to settle on a candidate that it basically did not matter? Does anyone in particular really strike you as having the power to “broker” a brokered convention, and if so, what have they been waiting for?

Some seem to put faith in the Republican National Committee and Reince Priebus to orchestrate things to a successful conclusion. And it’s true the RNC may not have a “putative” nominee telling him and the quadrennial army of convention volunteers exactly what to do every moment of the day leading up to and through the convention. But that doesn’t mean the party hacks will be free to do what they want. No, any surviving candidates, including presumably Trump and Cruz, will demand input on every single decision, no matter how minor. There will be no “private,” much less “secret” meetings at which deals go down; there will instead exist the special transparency imposed on people who don’t trust each other at all.

Right now, the only people who look likely to head to Cleveland knowing exactly what they want and being able to communicate with each other without fearing an imminent knife in the back are the candidates and their loyal retainers, for whom the elevation of their lord and god to the nomination is not just the first but the only consideration. Everyone else may well look as feckless as the conservative revolutionaries who sounded like a threat to Trump until it became apparent they couldn’t find their butts with both hands…

Politico found someone (admittedly, a self-professed Democrat) to run the numbers and deduce that “At this point in the race, it would be very hard, if not nearly impossible, to qualify a third party or independent candidate in enough states to come close to winning 270 electoral votes.”

And the Guardian has the lowest blow of all: “Who can stop Trump? Republicans may have little choice but to vote Clinton”.
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Apart from sweet, sweet schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Monday Morning Open Thread: Schadenfreude Special

gop empty suits luckovich

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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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…
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Apart from watching the clown show turn gladiatorial, what’s on the agenda for the start of the week?



Open Thread: GOP Realizes Its Stalker Is Calling From Inside the House

Hard for us cynical sane people to credit, but it would seem like the Establishment GOP really didn’t understand, until after South Carolina, that the Trump-Monster emerging from fifty years of Repub propaganda about undeserving moochers, atheists, and subhumans was not going away because they ignored / mocked / threatened him. They had a lovely big-budget musical planned… Springtime for Patricians, featuring a third-generation celebrity, a tiny ethnic sidekick, a creepy rival to better highlight the lead, and a backup cast of goofy stereotypes for the audience to mock. Then this yammering BRUTE appeared out of nowhere, tearing up the pretty sets, pissing on the terrified prop crew, tearing some of the cast members limb from limb. Trump is their history made visible, a nightmare from which they are fruitlessly attempting to awaken…

From the Guardian liveblog, last night:

Who is doing best so far? Jeb Lund thinks Marco Rubio is putting on a good performance – but should stop laughing at his own jokes:

Marco Rubio is doing very well. He hit Trump smartly on apt points, and he even had a good punchline. Cruz isn’t doing as well as Rubio, which should probably be alarming for Cruz supporters, because he’s the one who should be tap-dancing around everyone on stage. Kasich seems pleased to talk when people remember him and just as pleased to watch when no one does. Ben Carson was let out by the roadside to run free through a meadow as mom and dad peeled off in the car…

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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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