Another Chemical Attack

It looks like Bashir al-Assad dropped another bunch of chemicals on civilians in East Ghouta again today. Horrible photos of the dead are circulating on Twitter. It’s not clear whether this was Sarin or chlorine, or Assad’s trademark mixture of the two. Early reports are that over 100 people have been killed.

It is exactly a year ago today that Donald Trump sent 59 cruise missiles into Syria to respond to a similar chemical attack.

There’s a continuing argument among strategists about deterrence. One side says that if you whack someone like Assad hard enough, he won’t do it again. The other says that Assad will choose to do what is best for him strategically and take his lumps if necessary, or take the chance that there won’t be retribution. I tend toward the second

It’s that argument that continues around Barack Obama’s “red line” for Syrian chemical weapons use. One side says that taking the deal to disarm Syria of most of its chemical weapons instead of whacking Assad led to the belief that Obama was soft, hence Putin’s incursion into Ukraine and all other evils since then. I think that putting aside a strike that would have killed more civilians and been far from taking out all the chemical warfare facilities in favor of peacefully removing most of the chemical weapons was a sign of good judgment.

And, contrary to some of what I’m seeing in response to Assad’s strike today, nobody expected that every single drop of chemical agent would be removed from Syria. But most of it was, and the facilities for making more disabled.

 



Sunday Evening Open Thread: Prime PBS Totebagger Viewing Time

Of course it’s seriously tragic that the So-Called Leader of the United States (#SCROTUS) is threatening our democracy this way. On the other hand, if we’re gonna re-litigate you-know-what (Waterbedgate?), then at least us aging totebaggers should be able to get some entertainment out of it, yes?



Late Night Schadenfreude Open Thread: Hugh Hewitt Gets Trumpened

“Ambulatory cream cheese sculpture” (thanks, Betty!) Hugh Hewitt has been a shameless mouthpiece for the Wingnut Wurlitzer since he first rose above the bottom ranks by comparing his Manhattan talk-radio job to reporting from the front lines of Iraq. Years of tireless service to the RWNJ meme-of-the-moment got him as far as a moderating gig during the presidential primaries. But nobody who attempts to work with Donald Trump comes through without being dinged, if not destroyed… and today Hugh Hewitt got Trumpened:

It was inevitable some Donald Trump supporter would try to rationalize Trump’s view of Vladimir Putin. People just didn’t think that person would be Hugh Hewitt.

The popular conservative radio host got thoroughly clobbered on Twitter Friday morning after he made the argument that Putin is a more effective leader than President Obama because he has “served his country’s national interest better.” Counterarguments came from the left, right and center, and they’re still coming…


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Why would Trump go?

The post-convention Dump Trump movement among Republican operatives and strategerists is growing and getting louder. Politico has the scoop:

Republican insiders in key battleground states have a message for The Donald: Get out.
That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 swing states. The majority of GOP insiders, 70 percent, said they want Trump to drop out of the race and be replaced by another Republican candidate — with many citing Trump’s drag on Republicans in down-ballot races.

I have two big questions. The first is a bit of taunting —“Why the hell could you not organize an orgy at the Bunny Ranch in January?”

Secondly, why the hell would Trump agree? A Dump and Replace Trump movement has severe mechanical limitations. Ballots will start to be printed in the next couple of weeks so there is a hard time constraint on any Trump Replacement movement. More importantly, any Dump and Replace Trump action has two major players who have to agree and a hostile player who has a say. A successful Dump Trump action needs the “establishment” Republican Party to agree to the action (they’re as an institution is either there or close to it) as well as Donald J. Trump to agree to be replaced.

The Republican insider argument is that Trump will cost them the White House, will cost them the Senate and will significantly reduce (best case scenario) the current GOP majority in the House. That means Trump will cost them the Supreme Court median vote. All of those are probably true and they are high salience to Movement Conservatives.

Does Donald J. Trump and his voters care deeply about any of those items except for the White House?

No!

He does not care about the House, he does not care about the Senate. He does not care about policy outcomes. He has a very limited shadow of the future and a very narrow give a fuck space that barely intersects with Republican insider give a damn space.

What is the gain for Trump to step aside? His brand is underwater as his name is currently toxic. If he is to step aside, his brand (and his ego) won’t recover quickly. His best chance of re-establishing his brand (and his ego) is to double down and win. If he wins the White House in November even if there are 98 Democrats in the Senate and 431 Democrats in the House, he won, and the Republican establishment are full of losers. His brand would take off and he could make odd speeches at golf courses while Mike Pence attempts to govern.

If he steps aside, the party insiders are better off, but his brand is shit and his ego is bruised as he would be the loser genuflecting to the wills of the loses that he beat in the primary process.

What can the Republican Party insiders offer to Trump that is worth enough to Trump to make it worthwhile for him to step aside?

Until I see a good answer to that question, I am assuming that the Dump Trump movement is merely a stage of grief and not an actual strategy.



Dumb idea of the week

And this is not even directly related to Trump.

my first response is to ask if Ryan Lizza guzzles anti-freeze for breakfast as this is breathtakingly stupid.

Let’s make a few assumptions that I think are verifiable within reality.

a) Hillary Clinton has in all projection systems been favored to win the White House at all points to varying degrees (except the 538 click-bait now-cast)
b) A Republican appointed or de facto appointed Supreme Court median judge produces significantly different policy and political outcomes than a median Supreme Court justice that represents a typical Democratic nominee.
c) The Clinton campaign is better run than the Trump campaign.

Now let’s make a few more slightly shakier assumptions.

d) The Democratic coalition has good reason to believe it is a dominant Presidential level coalition ( 5 out 6 most recent elections had Dem popular vote pluralities etc)
e) The Republican coalition is a maxed out coalition with significant headwinds due to higher death and lower replacement rates of their core voters compared to Democratic core voting blocks.
f) The Donald is a dumpster fire which excerbates E

In football analytics terms, Clinton is ahead and she can win with a good, productive 8 minute offense of low variance but efficient plays. There is little reason for the Clinton campaign to adopt high variance vertical shots down the field to score when she is already up 9 with a better quarterback and a better defense. Scoring point is nice but running time off the clock and winning field position works almost as well. Interceptions and fumbles would dramatically drop win probability compared to a counterfactual of boring productive plays.

Promising to nominate a typical Republican judge as the median SCOTUS vote in order to try to capture 2% to 5% of the core Republican vote is a high variance play for a Democratic nominee. It could be worth it if the nominee was down 9 points with three months left. But that is not the case. Promising to nominate a Kennedy clone or more likely a Roberts clone may or may not get any Republican votes as a Trump Administration would nominate at least a Roberts if not an Alito clone anyways while it would cause a lot of trouble on the left flank. That could be acceptable if the left flank was legitimately faced with a “this sucks but it is the only chance to avoid the true suckage of four years of Trump” choice but that is not the choice out there.

Therefore this is the stupidest thing I’ve read this week.



Oh God I could do better than that

I’m working on a new twitter persona, a centrist parody, but I’m starting to wonder if I’ll never keep up with No Labels on that front:



It’s Barbaric, But Hey, It’s Home

Apparently Aladdin and Princess Jasmine are terrorist masterminds, who knew?

 

I’m gonna go ahead and bet that factoring in Democrats that we end up with that fabulous TWENTY-SEVEN PERCENT of all American voters will agree to anything thing yet again, yadda yadda America has a dangerous military Genie deficit SO LET’S BOMB AGRABAH AND GET THAT JAFAR DUDE YEEEHAAAAAA.

On the other hand, Iago is pretty suspicious for a parrot…

EDIT: Full PPP poll results in PDF form here. Far scarier than bombing a fictional country is the very real problem that having 46% of your voters wanting a national database of Muslims presents, assholes.

EDIT 2: Yep, 19% of Democrats also want to bomb a fictional Disney sultanate.