useless

Keystone Courage (Trumping Toomey)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).  (Photo: Getty Images)Steve Benen summarizes―

So, after dodging an easy question for nearly a year, Toomey will put off voting until late in the afternoon―75 minutes before polls close―and then he’ll grudgingly make an announcement about his preference.

―and on this occasion I must dissent: This is, quite clearly, not an easy question.

Ask Speaker Ryan; I hear the question started getting to him, by the end.

To the other, hemming and hawing probably beats attempting the dangerous and unadmired flip-flop-flip. Better to stand around looking like an idiot than to open your mouth and insist. Wait, that’s not how it goes, is it? Never mind. Republicans. The Party of Accountability. Values. Principles. Astounding. Or not. Whatever.

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Image notes: Top ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube). Right ― U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). (Photo: Getty Images)

Benen, Steve. “Paul Ryan and the candidate who must not be named”. msnbc. 1 November 2016.

—————. “Paul Ryan’s principles waver at election’s finish line”. msnbc. 7 November 2016.

—————. “Pennsylvania’s Toomey not through playing presidential games”. msnbc. 8 November 2016.

—————. “Under fire from the right, Ryan condemns a Democratic dystopia”. msnbc. 18 October 2016.

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About as Bad an Idea as You Might Think

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during his first campaign rally in Michigan at Eastern Michigan University 15 February 2016 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

So …

Less than a week before its official launch on Wednesday, Bernie Sanders’ new political group is working its way through an internal war that led to the departure of digital director Kenneth Pennington and at least four others from a team of 15, and the return of presidential campaign manager Jeff Weaver as the group’s new president.

(Dovere and Debenedetti)

… the thing is that I ought to have been thrilled by Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. He announced the day before my forty-second birthday; what a gift, right? Until the Bern scorched the landscape, most people thought of me as something of a leftist. It’s a little hard to tell anyone what to think of that notion at present, but I am and remain a cynical revolutionary, and thus the decision to wait, to see what Bernie brought before jumping on the bandwagon, feels more than simply justified.

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The Donald Trump Show (Death Wish Double Trouble Super Fun Follow-Up Sequel Pak)

Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate who also happens to be a skeleton with an afro. (Detail of frame from 'Shonen Jump One Piece'.)

“He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance.”

Andrew O’Hehir

Sometimes the setup requires a bit of seemingly otherwise useless melodrama; and sometimes that seemingly otherwise useless melodrama―your buzzword for the week is, well, okay, two words: “October surprise”―works well enough to address certain otherwise seemingly obvious questions somehow obscured by a hazy addiction to synthesized melodrama. Or, more to the point:

We can’t be sure how many people really support Trump, [Thomas B.] Edsall reports, since there’s considerable evidence that they aren’t telling pollsters the truth. Voting for Trump, it appears, is something white people do in the shadows. It’s a forbidden desire that is both liberating and self-destructive, not unlike the married heterosexual who has a same-sex lover on the down-low, or the executive who powers through the day on crystal meth and OxyContin. Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)On some level you know the whole thing can’t end well, but boy does it feel good right now.

I have argued on multiple occasions that white Americans, considered in the aggregate, exhibit signs of an unconscious or semi-conscious death wish. I mean that both in the Freudian sense of a longing for release that is both erotic and self-destructive―the intermingling of Eros and Thanatos―and in a more straightforward sense. Consider the prevalence of guns in American society, the epidemic rates of suicide and obesity (which might be called slow-motion suicide) among low-income whites, the widespread willingness to ignore or deny climate science and the deeply rooted tendency of the white working class to vote against its own interests and empower those who have impoverished it. What other term can encompass all that?

Trump is the living embodiment of that contradictory desire for redemption and destruction. His incoherent speeches wander back and forth between those two poles, from infantile fantasies about forcing Mexico to build an $8 billion wall and rampant anti-Muslim paranoia to unfocused panegyrics about how “great” we will be one day and how much we will “win.” In his abundant vigor and ebullience and cloddish, mean-spirited good humor, Trump may seem like the opposite of the death wish. (He would certainly be insulted by any such suggestion. Wrong! Bad!) But everything he promises is impossible, and his supporters are not quite dumb enough not to see that. He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance. No wonder his voters are reluctant to ‘fess up.

(O’Hehir)

Nor is this a matter of making the obvious point; with Americans, it’s all in how you say it.

I mean, sure, we can all see it, but explaining the mess is a whole ‘nother thing.

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Image notes: Top ― Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate. (Detail of frame from Shonen Jump One Piece.) Right ― Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

O’Hehir, Andrew. “Appetite for destruction: White America’s death wish is the source of Trump’s hidden support”. Salon. 11 May 2016.

The Ted Cruz Show (Epilogue)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), accidentally struck his wife, Heidi, twice after announcing the suspension of his failed presidential campaign during a speech in Indianapolis, Indiana, 3 May 2016.So did you hear the one about how Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrapped up his speech today, after announcing the suspension of his failed presidential campaign? Nick Baumann’s headline for Huffington Post sums it up well enough: “Ted Cruz Accidentally Punches And Elbows His Wife In The Face After Dropping Out”.

No, really. It really was an accident.

Still, though, it’s pretty emblematic of both Ted Cruz and his useless presidential bid.

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Image note: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), accidentally struck his wife, Heidi, twice after announcing the suspension of his failed presidential campaign during a speech in Indianapolis, Indiana, 3 May 2016.

Baumann, Nick. “Ted Cruz Accidentally Punches And Elbows His Wife In The Face After Dropping Out”. The Huffington Post. 3 May 2016.

Republican Justice (Maybe Mix)

Contemplation of Justice

Steve Benen, after reviewing the appalling stupidity of the Republican pitch against confirming a Supreme Court nominee, including their reaction to the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, found himself adding a postscript:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who just last week explicitly urged Obama to nominate Garland, said in a statement this morning that Garland’s nomination “doesn’t in any way change current circumstances” – which is to say, Hatch still supports his party’s blockade.

However, Hatch also added this morning, “I’d probably be open to resolving this in the lame duck.” Keep a very close eye on this, because it may prove to be incredibly important. As things stand, Senate Republicans don’t intend to reject Garland, so much as they plan to ignore him. His nomination won’t be defeated; it’ll simply wither on the vine.

But if Republicans fare poorly in November’s elections, don’t be too surprised if GOP senators declare, “Well, now that voters have had their say, we’re prepared to confirm Garland after all.”

The msnbc producer and blogger advises readers to, “File this away for future reference”, and it behooves us to do so. One of the blessings facing pretty much any president seeking a new Supreme Court justice, and especially Democrats as such these days, is that there is a plethora of qualified candidates. In the end, given all else, one wonders if perhaps the “moderate, inoffensive, broadly respected, 63-year-old white guy” is actually the sacrificial lamb.

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The Carly Fiorina Show (See Dick)

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina talks to a restaurant patron during a campaign stop at the Starboard Market, Friday, 14 August 2015, in Clear Lake, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

“There was no major scandal or faux pas to bring Fiorina down. While the impact of her debate performance may have worn off over time, why did she suffer this fate while Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio have continued to gain from their debating styles?”

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Call it a personal weakness: I love me some Dick.

Dick Morris, that is.

It is an eternal question: How does Dick Morris still get work? After all, who the hell still listens to Dick frickin’ Morris? True enough, people like me, but that’s the thing. Check this out:

Fiorina showed an eclectic knowledge of national affairs and fluently recited key facts about our weakened defense posture. She seemed like a nonascorbic, scandal-free alternative to Clinton.

Then, what happened?

There was no major scandal or faux pas to bring Fiorina down. While the impact of her debate performance may have worn off over time, why did she suffer this fate while Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio have continued to gain from their debating styles?

While The New York Times contributed to her fall with a front page article chronicling―and bashing―her record at Hewlett Packard, it was the bloggers who brought Fiorina down. The Times story regaled the saga of how Fiorina had induced HP to buy Compaq despite evidence of its declining clout, and emphasized the 30,000 layoffs under her tenure as CEO.

The bloggers really did a number on Fiorina, explaining her lack of conservative credentials. They quoted her 2010 comment, during her contest with Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer that Roe v. Wade was “settled law” and noted her endorsement of Marco Rubio’s plan for amnesty for immigrants here illegally, her support for Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court and her willingness to weaken Proposition 13, which holds down property taxes in California.

The blogs left Fiorina bleeding.

For Morris and McGann, “the larger story here is the extreme sensitivity of the Republican primary electorate’s evidence of impurity in the presidential candidates”, which itself leads off the sort of petulant paragraph that reminds why we all love us some Dick. The entire article is historical-romantic comedy―hiroco? Gesundheit!―gold. And the thing is that there is plenty of evidence of conservative electoral puritanism, but what of the rest of the Republican Party? It is not just that Morris and McGann omit entirely Ms. Fiorina’s astounding dishonesty about Planned Parenthood, and her stubborn, clumsy retort to the resulting controversy really would not seem encouraging to establishment Republicans who still bear questions of electability in their analyses.

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The Value of Prayer in the Twenty-First Century

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

It is a straightforward headline: “Politicians Can’t Pass Actual Laws to Stop Gun Violence, So They Tweet Prayerfully”. And HuffPo’s Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney deliver the goods.

All of which reminds the basic point: Prayer is something to do if you cannot or will not do anything more useful.

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A Bug That Bugs Many

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 9 February 2015.Some bugs are irresistible. With apologies, of course, to Adam Huber, as I have altered the image to remove a speechtrail. But the thing is … well … right, we all know the type.

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Huber, Adam. “The Sixty-Forum Thousand Dollar Question”. Bug Martini. 9 February 2015.