cynicism

The Donald Trump Show (¿Paradise Lost?)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

This is worth noting:

For the good of the country, Gov. Bill Haslam believes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should withdraw his candidacy and give way to vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.

Haslam, R-Knoxville, became the first prominent Tennessee Republican to make such a statement when he issued his comments Sunday afternoon. He joins a growing chorus of national Republicans to repudiate their party’s standard bearer in light of a 2005 video where Trump made vulgar comments that appear to condone the sexual assault of women.

“I want to emphasize that character in our leaders does matter. None of us in elected office are perfect, but the decisions that are made in the Oval Office have too many consequences to ignore the behavior we have seen,” Haslam said.

“It is time for the good of the nation and the Republican Party for Donald Trump to step aside and let Gov. Mike Pence assume the role as the party’s nominee. If he does not step aside, I will write in a Republican for the office of President.”

(Boucher)

It is easy to get caught up in narrative and moment, and thus we sometimes feel flat-footed when history blows past us and, you know, of course we could see it coming, but it’s so easy to lose oneself in high-strung, even mythopoeic history that we often instinctively caution ourselves against believing the hype.

This time, though, let us go ahead and mark the moment with Gov. Bill Haslam; the Tennessee Republican’s statement serves as a personal benchmark insofar as it is now possible for me to believe that Donald Trump might well have finally done gone an’ broke it.

Just sayin’.

Even still, doubt whispers and cynicism clamors; this can’t really be the moment, except that yes, if “vulgar comments that appear to condone the sexual assault of women”, as Dave Boucher’s report for the Tennessean puts it―and why not? it’s a reasonable description dutifullyα ducking the fact that we all know there’s no matter of mere appearances about it―are somehow insufficient to settle the matter, then there is far more wrong in these United States than merely Donald Trump.

We kind of knew that last, already, right? I mean, we’re all clear on what is going on, here?

‘Tis easy to hedge. This is going to be an interesting week, proverbially and otherwise. Consider it this way, please: Mr. Haslam denounces Mr. Trump’s misogyny, preferring instead Mr. Pence’s less felonious misogyny. This ought to be absurd enough to get us through the days.β

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α There are reasons why the reportage is not supposed to do the convicting and crucifying. This is, however, really, truly that straightforward. What seems striking is that the nod and wink, this time, would reject the good ol’ boys’ club.

β And that’s a completely meaningless sentence, isn’t it?

Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

Boucher, Dave. “Bill Haslam: Donald Trump needs to step aside for Mike Pence”. The Tennessean. 9 October 2016.

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A Memo to Mike Huckabee (Civic Leadership)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

MEMORANDUM

To: Mike Huckabee

re: Civic leadership

So … Mike―

The two-time Republican presidential also-ran lashed out Erickson, again on Fox News, accusing the conservative of attempting “to blow up the Republican Party.”

“The message that’s coming across is the voters are stupid so we’ll figure out a way to make the decision for you because we don’t trust your decision,” Huckabee complained of Erickson’s anti-Trump effort.

(Tesfaye)

―you do realize, do you not, that sometimes that’s exactly what civic leaders are expected to do?

In our own American heritage we say the Constitution is not a suicide pact. In our human endeavor, we might simply say that civilized society is not a suicide pact. Observably, the Donald Trump phenomenon disdains either expression.

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The Republican Way

Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

This is the picture:

For several years, much of the political establishment has fiercely resisted the idea that congressional Republicans have been radicalized. A wide variety of Beltway pundits and insiders have even blamed President Obama for not successfully compromising and striking deals with the radicalized GOP – if only the president would lead like a leading leader, Republicans would transform into constructive, mainstream policymakers. This is a problem, we’ve been told repeatedly, that schmoozing can solve.

The lazy punditry was wrong. Since early 2011, legislative productivity has reached depths without modern precedent. The list of major legislative accomplishments is effectively empty. Bills have routinely been brought to the floor for passage, only to have the GOP leadership discover their own members are defying their own party’s legislative priorities.

Under Republican leadership – or what passes for “leadership” in 2015 – the legislative branch has careened between hostage standoffs and self-imposed crises, over and over again, to the point that some have begun to see these ridiculous circumstances, never before seen in the American tradition, as the new normal.

And now, House Republicans can’t even elect their own Speaker.

Steve Benen also reminds, “What political observers should not do, however, is consider this a new development. It’s not.” And this is important.

Because these are Congressional Republicans. This is the Party that reminds over and over that government just doesn’t work. And they have a point: Government just doesn’t work when Republicans are in charge.

Nor does equivocation bring any good. For all the cynicism we hear about how the parties are the same, and Democrats do it, too, this is not a circumstance in which such pathetic, mewling excuses in lieu of excuses should find any traction. No, really, this is Republicans so botching up that the Worst Speaker of the House in American history can’t even resign properly; this is a purely Republican problem. And on its face, given the farce playing out before our eyes, anyone who tries to tell you both parties do it, or Democrats do it too, or they’re all the same, isn’t simply drowning in cynicism, but, rather trying to lie to you as they go down for the third time. It is uncertain what rescue method would actually succeed if pride so compels them to deny they have fallen overboard.

This is the Republican Party.

This is your United States House of Representatives.

This is what governance looks like when entrusted to conservatives who posture a vested interest in government dysfunction.

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Image note: The statue of Grief and History stands in front of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington October 16, 2013. The Senate prepared a last ditch effort on Wednesday to avoid a historic lapse in the government’s borrowing authority, a breach that President Barack Obama has said could lead to default and deliver a damaging blow to the global economy. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Benen, Steve. “GOP finds itself lacking leadership, direction, and purpose”. msnbc. 9 October 2015.

The Rand Paul Show (Rumors and Exaggerations)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) waits before addressing a legislative luncheon held as part of the "Road to Majority" conference in Washington, 18 June 2015. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)“Even if we put aside whether or not Paul is answering the question well, the issue is the existence of the question itself: competitive candidates who are performing well aren’t asked when they’re quitting.”

Steve Benen

You know, he’s kinda got a point.

What? What would you like me to quote, here? “Evidently, Bevin forgot that his third choice is supposed to be his first.” Valid point. Or, you know, maybe politics is just that cynical and everyone in Kentucky knows it. “A month before Kentucky voters choose a new governor, the Republican nominee joined Kentucky’s own presidential candidate – on a weekend – for a high-profile event. Just 50 people showed up?” Again, a valid point. Even more so, actually.Rand Paul 2016

And it just keeps coming. A sixty-four percent drop in fundraising for the campaign; opposition is switching to focus on Sen. Paul’s re-election campaign, as if his presidential bid is of no concern; he is hearing the actual question, even pressed so far as to explain, “I think the rumors of my demise are somewhat exagerated”, which never really is a good sign. When the headlines remind readers that a candidate is not dropping out, it’s not merely ominous. It’s an actual omen.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Rand Paul Show.

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Image note: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) waits before addressing a legislative luncheon held as part of the “Road to Majority” conference in Washington Jun. 18, 2015. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Benen, Steve. “Rand Paul facing the question no candidate wants to hear”. msnbc. 5 October 2015.

The Days of Their Lives (Chipotle Changer)

Twitter: David Eldridge of Roll Call and Jonathan Nicholson of Bloomberg BNA discussing a Chipotle's restaurant in the basement of Union Station, Washington, D.C., 24 September 2015.If you’ve ever wondered about the Beltway press, and, you know, let’s face it, no, most people just don’t wonder about the reporters who dig up the little bits and pieces destined to be overlooked in the infotainment synopsis that makes the evening news, well might be a reason you did.

Or didn’t.

Whatever.

Whichever, I guess.

Ladies and gentlemen, David Eldridge of Roll Call and Jonathan Nicholson of Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs:

David Eldridge: Overheard in the newsroom: “There’s a Chipotle in the Union Station basement? That’s a gamechanger.” @rollcall

Jonathan Nicholson: @DavidEldridge @MEPFuller @rollcall It’s on the main floor – the Taco Bell in the basement food court, now THAT’S the game changer.

David Eldridge: @JNicholsonInDC @MEPFuller @rollcall The one in the basement is the SECOND Chipotle in the bldg. Hence the changing of the game.

Jonathan Nicholson: @DavidEldridge @MEPFuller @rollcall TWO Chipotles, one building? That’s Starbucks-style game changing. I did not know – my bad.

We might suspect there’s a reason Nicholson is trying to drag Matt Fuller into it.

Say what?Chipotle’s.

Game-changer.

Even as post-Millennial recursive cynicism it’s flaccid.

Say what we will about the Beltway sausage grinder, but this is the daily grind. Still, though, these are the days of their lives.

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Eldridge, David and Jonathan Nicholson. “Overheard in the office”. Twitter. 24 September 2015.

The Jeb Bush Show (Seriously Inadequate)

Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush waits for his introduction at the Iowa Agriculture Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, 7 March 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Consider, please, that while Donald Trump managed to get into a stupid fight with Rick Perry and win, this is actually about Jeb Bush:

Almost immediately after Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) military service, Republican officials denounced the criticism in a specific way. “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably,” the Republican National Committee said in an official statement.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans appear to apply that principle selectively. In 2004, John Kerry faced ridiculous lies about his heroic military service, and at the time, GOP leaders saw great political value in smearing a decorated war veteran.

Take Jeb Bush, for example. In January 2005, the day before his brother’s second inaugural, the Florida governor wrote a letter to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ringleader, expressing his appreciation for the smear campaign. Celebrating the “Swifties,” as Jeb Bush called them, the Republican wrote to retired Col. Bud Day, “Please let them know that I am personally appreciative of their service to our nation. As someone who truly understands the risk of standing up for something, I simply cannot express in words how much I value their willingness to stand up against John Kerry.”

In this case, “stand up to” was apparently a euphemism for “tell lies about.”

(Benen)

And while we might refer to the former Florida governor by his derisive title as the Serious Clown, the question remains as to why anybody thought Mr. Bush was a serious candidate. Maybe he needs another do-over.

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Just Another Day in Conservative Insanity

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in undated photo by Susan Walsh/AP.

Sigh.

A brief summary, via Steve Benen:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) looked a little silly when he argued Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) may face criminal charges because he disagrees with the White House on Iranian policy. Yesterday, however, he quickly discovered he had some company among Republicans who were equally eager to appear foolish.

Yesterday morning, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested he’s sympathetic to the conspiracy theory, too ....

.... By yesterday afternoon, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) went even further ....

.... Conservative media figures from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are on board, too.

The point-by-point is actually kind of excruciating, but mainly in the context that someone actually needed to say it.

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For Our Neighbors to the North

22 October 2014

What I don’t get is what anyone could possibly expect to gain by picking a fight with Canada.

Our neighbors to the north have stood by the United States, faithful friends through the best and worst of our mortal adventures.

And … this?

This will not be forgotten.

Dearest Canada, our hearts and hopes are with you in this darkest of hours. Stand strong; our nation grieves for your loss.

And please, please, please forgive the appearance of cynicism, as we might also ask that you please, please, please forgive the useless political shitstorm that is about to paralyze Capitol Hill.

It may be election season down here, but this will not be forgotten.

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Beeby, Dean. “Parliament Hill attack: Soldier dies of injuries, gunman also shot dead”. CBC News. 22 October 2014.

Not Exactly Unexpected

United States of Koch

We ought not be surprised:

Several big corporations have reaped millions of dollars from “Obamacare” even as they support GOP candidates who vow to repeal the law. This condemn-while-benefiting strategy angers Democrats, who see some of their top congressional candidates struggling against waves of anti-Obamacare ads partly funded by these companies.

Among the corporations is a familiar Democratic nemesis, Koch Industries, the giant conglomerate headed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. They and some conservative allies are spending millions of dollars to hammer Democratic senators in North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and elsewhere, chiefly for backing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., renewed his criticisms of the Kochs this week. In a Senate chamber speech, Reid noted that Koch Industries benefited from a temporary provision of the health care law ….

…. When Congress enacted the health care law in 2010, it appropriated $5 billion for the temporary reinsurance program. The goal was to subsidize employers’ costs for workers who retire before they become eligible for Medicare. Hundreds of employers applied – many were corporations, cities and public universities – and virtually all the money was soon distributed.

“If the Affordable Care Act is so awful,” Reid asked, “why did Koch Industries use it to their advantage?”

Federal records show that Koch Industries received $1.4 million in early retiree subsidies. That’s considerably less than the sums many other employers received. A Koch Industries spokesman said he had no comment on Reid’s latest criticisms.

(Babington)

It’s just one of those things that seems to happen. You know, at the intersection of capitalism, politics, and empty morality.

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