“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

No Trump - Double - Re-double

The GOP's Spectacular Failure to Take Out Donald Trump

In the wake of Chris Christie’s bombshell endorsement of Donald Trump on Friday, the New York Times has published a must-read, in-depth report on the desperate Republican establishment’s many spectacular failures to counter the candidacy of Donald Trump. From the inability of mainstream Republicans to unite against such an obvious threat, to Marco Rubio’s haphazard efforts to gain the support of departed rivals, to Mitch McConnell apparently giving his fellow senators permission to run against Trump this fall, the report paints a shocking (yet somehow still unsurprising) picture of a party in complete disarray and horrified disbelief. Here are some highlights:

GOP Senators Up for Re-election Should Feel Free to Attack Trump
With the balance of power in the Senate at risk, Mitch McConnell is already getting ready to do serious damage control should Trump win the nomination and thus imperil contested down-ticket Senate races. According to the Times, the Senate Majority Leader has already given his colleagues permission to run negative ads against Trump this fall if they feel they have to distance themselves from the potential nominee in order to win reelection. “We’ll drop him like a hot rock,” McConnell apparently said.

Marco Rubio’s Failed Courtships of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Mitt Romney
Christie was reportedly really peeved by a “tentative” voicemail Rubio left for him after he dropped out following the New Hampshire primary. Rubio’s chosen approach was apparently to assure the New Jersey governor that he still had a bright future in politics:
Mr. Christie, 53, took the message as deeply disrespectful and patronizing, questioning why “a 44-year-old” was telling him about his future, said people who described his reaction on the condition of anonymity. Further efforts to connect the two never yielded a direct conversation.
In addition, efforts by Rubio and his campaign to attract the support of Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were also unsuccessful. “There’s this desire, verging on panic, to consolidate the field, but I don’t see and movement at all,” added Senator Lindsey Graham, who on Thursday night also half-joked that the GOP “has gone bat-shit crazy.”

Dreaming of a Contested Convention
The campaigns of Rubio and John Kasich have both drafted plans to take out Trump via a brokered convention, going after Trump-committed delegates, who only have to vote for Trump in the first round of balloting. Then again, this type of scheming hasn’t been a factor up to now. As former Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt told the Times about the GOP apparatus thus far, “There is no mechanism [to stop Trump]. There is no smoke-filled room. If there is, I’ve never seen it, nor do I know anyone who has.”

Nobody Wants Kasich Around
Apparently, many Republicans are well-past tired of Kasich’s assertion that he has any path to the nomination, wishing he would just get out and let everybody get behind Rubio instead. Said one senior Republican senator, “He’s just flailing his arms around and having a wonderful time going around the country, and it just drives me up the wall.”

Governor LePage’s Rapid About Face
Maine Governor Paul LePage apparently “erupted in frustration” at a GOP luncheon earlier this month about Trump and wanted Republican governors to write an open letter rejecting him. That didn’t happen, and LePage just endorsed Trump on Friday.

Big Donor Absenteeism
Though GOP's big-money class seems to dislike Trump, efforts to corral them into an coordinated effort to take him out have mostly failed to gain any traction. A plan to eliminate Trump by airing ads showing he was unfit for the presidency did not attract donors like Sheldon Adelson or Paul Singer last fall. The Koch brothers, though they hate Trump’s health care rhetoric, have also skipped the fight, and a new ad effort by the dark-money conservative group American Future Fund is so late into the fray it might not have much of an impact on the crucial early-March primaries. 

So far, one of the most interesting reactions to Times report has been from Atlanticwriter and George W. Bush-speechwriter David Frum, who launched an inspired, 16-point tweet-storm venting about various GOP illnesses — both covered in the piece and not. Among his complaints:
Or maybe candidates should adopt jokes that late night hosts have been using for a decade:
So what can the GOP really do at this point? The Times emphasizes that — still — no cohesive strategy really exists, though the party mainstream seems to be trying to come up with one to execute. Along those lines, this week Republican strategist and former Romney-campaign manager Stuart Stevens tried to rally the party with both a piece in the Daily Beast and a follow-up interview with the Washington Post. From the latter piece, Stuart said the GOP’s plan should be to start beating up the bully:
What do we know about Donald Trump? He is extremely emotional and volatile and responds to any perceived slight. He knows almost nothing about policy and, like a lot of lazy people, tries to assert he doesn't need to know. He has little or no support staff that can help compensate for his weaknesses. And most importantly, Trump thinks he is going to win. That's a huge potential asset to an opponent if Trump starts to feel that his "victory" is in jeopardy. […]
When in a fight and an opponent doesn't fall down when hit, you don't stop hitting. To win, you hit harder and faster and look for any opening to land more punches. So it is with a campaign. Don't fall into the trap of thinking because a line of attack didn't work at first that it isn't effective. Repetition is key, and often attacks have impacts inside opponent's campaigns — or inside an opponent's head — that have an unseen but cumulative impact.
Then again, how do you fight if you can barely stand:
And as Chait notes, it's not like there are that many Trump coping strategies available to the GOP anyway:
Lastly, even if the establishment strikes back successfully, a defeated and rejected Trump just creates another problem, as Talking Point Memo's Josh Marshall quips, “The saving grace for the GOP is that if they're actually able to destroy Trump with a brutal, scorched earth total war which drives all the way to the convention, he'll definitely go away quietly.”
This post has been updated to incorporate additional outside commentary.



    With strong hand (ie. a reasonable expectation of making 7 tricks in No Trump), or a weak single suited hand, responder should pass. This instructs opener to redouble. Responder can then pass with the strong hand or take out into his suit if weak.

    With a completely flat weak hand, responder redoubles. This instructs opener to take out into his best suit, secure in the knowledge that responder has support for whatever suit he chooses.

  2. Ku Klux Klan rally in Anaheim erupts in violence; three stabbed

    Witnesses said the Klansmen used the point of a flagpole as a weapon while fighting with counter-protesters.

    1. Typical stupid KKK tactics.

      How many klansmen does it take properly project force with a flagpole?

      5 or 6 I'd beat.

      Meanwhile you have individual slashes swooping in from this side and that drawing real blood.

      Klansmen 0
      Counter Protestors 3 (at least)

      Plus if the klansmen have those stupid hoods on their visibility is down to zero.

      Sitting ducks....

    2. Those pointy hats would make great Faux Unicorn accouterments for giant horses.

    3. re: Sitting Ducks -

      Would you rather be attacked by one hundred duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck?

  3. Unicorn Chase


    Writing in The Washington Post, foreign policy analyst Robert Kagan announced that he is through with the Republican Party. He has washed his hands of them. They got what they deserve, because they have created a "Frankenstein’s monster, brought to life by the party, fed by the party and now made strong enough to destroy its maker." As a "former Republican" he is throwing his support to Hillary Clinton for both the Democratic nomination and then the presidency. His column is undoubtedly making waves inside the Beltway.

    For many years Kagan was a staple in the broad neo-conservative community. He was a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, but now the only Kagan on their list is his brother, Frederick, who also works on foreign and defense policy at The American Enterprise Institute. Robert also was a founding member with Bill Kristol and Dan Senor of the Foreign Policy Initiative, where he remains on its Board of Directors.

  5. War, What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing.

    By Tom Engelhardt

    It may be hard to believe now, but in 1970 the protest song “War,” sung by Edwin Starr, hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That was at the height of the Vietnam antiwar movement and the song, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, became something of a sensation. Even so many years later, who could forget its famed chorus? “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” Not me. And yet heartfelt as the song was then -- “War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker. War, it's got one friend, that's the undertaker...” -- it has little resonance in America today.

    But here’s the strange thing: in a way its authors and singer could hardly have imagined, in a way we still can’t quite absorb, that chorus has proven eerily prophetic -- in fact, accurate beyond measure in the most literal possible sense. War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. You could think of American war in the twenty-first century as an ongoing experiment in proving just that point.

    Looking back on almost 15 years in which the United States has been engaged in something like permanent war in the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, one thing couldn’t be clearer: the planet’s sole superpower with a military funded and armed like none other and a “defense” budget larger than the next seven countries combined (three times as large as number two spender, China) has managed to accomplish -- again, quite literally -- absolutely nothing, or perhaps (if a slight rewrite of that classic song were allowed) less than nothing.

    Unless, of course, you consider an expanding series of failed states, spreading terror movements, wrecked cities, countries hemorrhaging refugees, and the like as accomplishments. In these years, no goal of Washington -- not a single one -- has been accomplished by war. This has proven true even when, in the first flush of death and destruction, victory or at least success was hailed, as in Afghanistan in 2001 ("You helped Afghanistan liberate itself -- for a second time," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to U.S. special operations forces), Iraq in 2003 ("Mission accomplished"), or Libya in 2011 ("We came, we saw, he died," Hillary Clinton on the death of autocrat Muammar Gaddafi).


    1. {...}

      Of all forms of American military might in this period, none may have been more destructive or less effective than air power.

      U.S. drones, for instance, have killed incessantly in these years, racking up thousands of dead Pakistanis, Afghans, Iraqis, Yemenis, Syrians, and others, including top terror leaders and their lieutenants as well as significant numbers of civilians and even children, and yet the movements they were sent to destroy from the top down have only proliferated. In a region in which those on the ground are quite literally helpless against air power, the U.S. Air Force has been repeatedly loosed, from Afghanistan in 2001 to Syria and Iraq today, without challenge and with utter freedom of the skies. Yet, other than dead civilians and militants and a great deal of rubble, the long-term results have been remarkably pitiful.




    4. After a tremendous bombing campaign against it, the Germans were producing more weapons at the end of WWI then they were in 1941.

      The US could not stop fuel from flowing to south, in support of their war efforts during the Vietnam War.

      Without troops on the ground, air strikes are not very effective, strategically.
      The troops do not have to be US or NATO, they can be local, but there has to be boots on the ground for the air war to be effective.


    The essential failure of air power in these years has yielded the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a plane once expected to cost in the $200 billion range whose price tag is now estimated at a trillion dollars or more over the course of its lifetime.

    It will be the most expensive weapons system in history. Air power’s powerlessness to achieve Washington’s ends has also yielded the newly unveiled Long-Range Strike Bomber for which the Pentagon has already made a down payment to Northrop Grumman of $55 billion. (Add in the usual future cost overruns and that sum is expected to crest the $100 billion mark long before the plane is actually built.) Or at the level of planetary destruction, consider the three-decade, trillion-dollar upgrading of the US nuclear arsenal now underway and scheduled to include, among other things, smaller, more accurate “smart” nukes—that is, first-use weaponry that might indeed be brought to future battlefields.

    That none of this fits our world of war today should be—but isn’t—obvious, at least in Washington. In 2016, not only has military action of just about any sort been decoupled from success of just about any sort, but the unbelievably profitable system of weapons production woven into the fabric of the capital, the political process, and the country has also been detached from the results of war; the worse we do militarily, that is, the more frenetically and expensively we build.

    1. You neglect to mention the priceless benefit of the Booming DC Economy.

      We're not talking low wage jobs there, except for the Illegal Servant Class.

  7. OTOH:
    We showed the Chinese, and now they are ramping up production of lower cost warfighting drones.
    What could go wrong?

  8. Forget if I learned it here, but we've been droning people in Pakistan on the basis of metadata and algorithms.

  9. My first attempt at songwriting was in the previous thread. for "Old Susana"

  10. Bernie Action Figure:

  11. I cannot visualize any scenario where I could vote for Hillary Clinton.

  12. Sanders should run as an Independent.

    1. He should indeed.

      We need a Republican in the White House.


    2. Only if his goal is to have Donald Trump become President.

    3. He might as well give it the ol' Hail Mary and go out like a fool just like he came in.

    4. I read Bernie got first paycheck at age 40, when he was elected Mayor.

      That slime bucket has been living off the rest of us his entire life.


    5. At least Bernie has not robbed a bank by fraud and identity theft.

  13. After 8 years of Obama, Hillary, Kerry and the Democrat Party the Mideast is so messed up only a Wizard could straighten it out and there are no Wizards on the horizon.


    1. Whatever happened to those indictments you posted were on their way, "Counterfeit Bob" ...

      Absent those indictments, where are the resignations from the FBI?

    2. The FBI is expanding the investigation to include corruption.

      This takes time.

    3. This takes time, DEAD BEAT DAD.

      How is that super secret national security project you are working on with NSA, Defense, CIA of the coasts of Panama -- how is that going?? You never seem to tell us, General Jackrat "Memorial Day" Hawkins


    4. The Corruption and Server issues are not connected, "Counterfeit Bob", those are two separate cases that she is not being indicted for.

      Without an indictment, Mrs Clinton will become the President.

      Simple as that.


    5. The Republican Party is imploding ...

      They will lose the Senate, come November, especially if their Senatorial candidates campaign against their Presidential candidate.


    6. George W Bush did more damage to the Republic than cold have ever been foreseen.
      He destroyed the Grand Old Party.

      Along with their policy of Congressional obstruction against the Obama administration.

    7. blah blah blah, STALKER

    8. Can't stalk a poster who is without a Google account

    9. "Counterfeit Bob", you are an admitted identity thief.

      bob Thu May 27, 12:52:00 AM EDT

      But I did rip off the bank for $7500 hundred dollars, when I was on my knees, and fighting for my economic life, on my aunt's credit card. But that wasn't really stealing, just payback. …

  14. Hillary just won South Carolina by 48%!

    74 - 26


    1. Without an indictment, she'll become President.
      Then the US will become the spitting image of Argentina.


  15. Washington Post - ‎

    TEHRAN - President Hassan Rouhani won a resounding vote of confidence, and reformist allies won 29 out of Tehran's 30 seats to parliament in elections that could speed Iran's post-sanctions opening to the world, early results released on Saturday ...

  16. 29 of 30 seats !!

    In the Parliament !!

    Whoa is that impressive.

    Anyone with a brain knows it was 'fixed'.

    The power remains right where it is, and has been, and will be, with the supreme leader and his boys.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. "Counterfeit Bob" is now a specialist in Iranian politics, when he cannot even project the winner of the Republican nominating process ...

      Renumber Doctor Carson, no one else does either, "Counterfeit Bob"

    3. You are stalking again, Dead Beat Dad, and are so o'erwrought you are misspelling words.

      Time for a nap for you, General Jack "Memorial Day" Hawkins.

      Time for a nap for you now.

    4. Jack,

      Tell us again, how your wife, the mother of your only child, fled from you and never looked back?


    5. Did she actually marry you or was that your baby mother?

    6. So now Jack, your daughter, is all grown up and has never contacted you..

      Nor have you ever paid child support, let alone been a father.

      I see failure here...

      Must really suck being such a failure as a parent, husband, spouse and mate...

      Is that why you stick to horses?

    7. I got to hand it to the mother. Had the child in USA then immediately headed south to escape from Jack. Headed back to the old family farm village place, raised the child there. Probably had some half sibs around, uncles and aunts.

      She die well given the cards she was dealt to play.

  17. .


    Hillary Clinton and the neocons? There is nothing surprising in that. Chris Mathews laughed when Rand Paul told him Hillary was a neocon; but then ol' Chris is one strange duck.

    Iraq, Libya, her views on Syria. If you want to call her a liberal hawk instead, that's fine, but it's all the same. The Dems don't want to be saddled with the name neocon and the neocons certainly don't want to be associated with Hillary, but actions don't lie.

    After a discussion on the neocons here the other day, MOME went into an extended rant about how it isn't the neocons we should be complaining about but about the political establishment in D.C. from both parties.

    I had a doctors appointment so I didn't respond. However, the first thought that came to mind is that MOME was offering us a distinction without a difference. The neocons are the establishment. They might be called liberal hawks on the Dem side but they are all the same. The same first tendency is to use force, the same allegiances to the MIC on an individual basis, the same arguments for spreading democracy (by force if necessary), the same support for regime change, the same obeisance to the Israel lobby, and on and on.

    Of course, Hillary is a neocon. The question is would Trump be any different.


    1. War is just part of negotiating, no? Trump is a winner!

    2. No, you often find groups that will not negotiate at all or if they do it is only a temporary arrangement till the next round breaks out.

      And financial dealings don't really have that much to do will real blood dripping war.

      Trump might well order full steam ahead, recalling how he rolled IBM or something, only to be met by an inpenetrable wall of lead with jihadis willing to die for the 'cause'.

      Hopefully he's got the good sense to surround himself with competent Generals, not the Jack 'Memorial day' Hawkins types, or General Galopin2 '4th of July' Rufus sort.

  18. .
    Iran president, top ally lead after vote for key body

    Hardline conservatives suffer setback in Tehran ballots for Assembly of Experts, the body that selects regime’s supreme leader.

    TEHRAN, Iran – President Hassan Rouhani and his main ally were the front-runners Saturday after early counting of votes cast in Tehran in elections to Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts.
    Rouhani and Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president, held second and first place respectively in the capital for the 88-member committee of clerics that appoints the country’s supreme leader.

    In Tehran, voters are electing 16 members to the assembly from 28 candidates.

    With 1.5 million ballot papers counted out of 3.9 million cast, Rafsanjani was in first place with 692,000 votes. Rouhani was just behind with 652,000.

    The figures were published by the semi-official ISNA news agency, citing the interior ministry which is responsible for managing Friday’s elections to the assembly and to parliament.

    In another significant element, one of three hardline conservative ayatollahs that the pro-Rouhani “List of Hope” had urged voters to avoid backing may lose their seat on the assembly, according to the initial results.

    Supporters of the List of Hope used social media to encourage voters to reject Ahmad Jannati, Mohammad Yazdi and Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi. All three have adopted positions hostile to reformists.
    However Mesbah-Yazdi’s faced the danger of ejection, as he was 17th in the early polling, one position outside the last place that would see him re-elected to the all-male assembly.

    Jannati, who chairs the Guardian Council that excluded thousands of candidates for the parliamentary election and hundreds from the assembly race, was in 11th position.

    Yazdi, the current head of the assembly, was in 15th place.

    Final results are expected on Sunday.


    1. Hell of a 'democracy' they got going there.

    2. Idaho BobSun Feb 28, 01:14:00 AM EST
      Hell of a ‘democracy’ they got going there.

      Did you catch the last Republican debate?