"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Nothing Or Nothing At All”: Trump Or Cruz, It Sucks To Be A Republican Senator

If, as seems reasonable, Greg Sargent is correct that the spectacle of Senate hearings on an Obama-nominated Supreme Court Justice will empower hardliners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the Republican Establishment has a powerful incentive not to allow them.

At this point, though, we’re almost to the point where the Establishment should just give up on the prospect of having anyone other than Trump or Cruz as their nominee. We’ll soon know more when we get the results from South Carolina’s primary, but right now it looks very likely that Trump will win there, possibly in a walk, and that Cruz will come in second place. Among the also-rans, only Marco Rubio seems to be showing any life. And, after watching him get eviscerated by Chris Christie in New Hampshire, do the Republicans really want to hitch their wagon to the remote hope that Rubio will surge to win the nomination and then prove a match for the Democrats’ candidate?

Part of the problem with this whole plan to reject any Obama Supreme Court selection is that the Republicans are looking so unlikely to get their act together in time to win in the fall.

We can debate where this whole subject falls on the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t scale, but I’m not convinced it helps the Republicans’ cause in November to simply refuse to consider any nominee by declining to give them the courtesy of a hearing and a vote. The logic of it is that the Republican base will be so dejected if partisan control of the Court is lost before the election that they won’t turn out. If, on the other hand, they think control hangs in the balance, they will turn out in droves. They won’t turn out to vote for a nominee they might hate or distrust, but they’ll turn out to keep the Court from flipping to a liberal majority.

That makes a lot of sense, and I’m sure that they would experience different turnout numbers depending on which road they take. But base mobilization is more of a midterm strategy than a general election strategy. The Republicans have only succeeded in winning the popular vote once in the last twenty-eight years (in 2004), and they barely won the Electoral College that year. They need to change the shape of the electorate in their favor, because their base just isn’t big enough.

And, consider, since 2012 they’ve definitely done damage with their prospects with Latino and Asian voters. They’ve further alienated the academic/scientific/technical/professional class with their anti-science lunacy. They’ve lost the youth vote over a variety of issues, including hostility to gay rights. They’re doing everything they can to maximize the black vote. Muslims will vote almost uniformly against them despite sharing some of their ‘family values.’ Women won’t be impressed if Cruz or Rubio are the nominees because they both oppose abortion including in cases of rape or incest. They’ll be unimpressed with Donald Trump because he’s a sexist, womanizing boor. I don’t think any of these groups will be more favorably inclined to the Republicans if they block Obama’s nominee without a hearing.

Realistically, as this point they almost have to go with Trump because his fame and lack of orthodoxy will change the shape of the electorate. It’s not likely to change it favorably, and many life-long Republicans will bolt the party, perhaps never to come back. But it will change it.

Unless John Kasich catches fire there’s no hope of the GOP rebranding in a way that will undo the massive amount of damage they’ve done with the persuadable middle. Jeb would present a softer face to the party, but there’s no way a Bush is winning the general election in 2016.

The way I see it, the best deal the Republicans are going to get is right now. Obama will compromise with them. He might pick a relatively moderate Justice if he has assurances that they’ll be confirmed. People have mentioned Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, for example, who is a pro-choice Republican. He might pick someone older, like George Mitchell. He might pick a colleague of theirs. I think Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is his best option. The Republican senators like her and she’s no radical.

But, if they lose the general election, which the wise among them must know is becoming almost a certainty, they’ll also lose a bunch of Senate seats. They’ll be in a much weaker position to block Clinton or Sanders’s nominee or (if necessary) nominees. And they’ll probably have to deal with a nominee who is further to the left and much younger.

Why not use their considerable power now to get some real concessions rather than roll the dice on Donald Trump or Ted Cruz being our next president?

And, as Greg Sargent points out, who knows who Trump would nominate? He was pro-choice until he decided he needed to pretend otherwise if he wanted to win the Republican nomination. Why trust him?

So, it’s really down to Ted Cruz.

Cruz or nothing.

That’s how they want to go.

Except they universally loathe Ted Cruz with the heat of a thousand supernovas.

It sucks to be a Republican senator.


By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 18, 2016

February 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What’s Behind The Media’s Ebola Sensationalism?”: How Deeply The Right-Wing Anti-Science Message Has Taken Hold On TV

CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all treated the return of Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted Ebola in Liberia, as if he were riding to the hospital in a white Ford Bronco. Chopper cams and speculative commentary trailed his ambulance Saturday through the streets of Atlanta with the kind of excited intensity usually reserved for police car chases and killers on the lamb.

In the end, the breathless live coverage was revealed to be embarrassingly over-the-top: Brantly didn’t even need a stretcher; he climbed out of the parked ambulance in a hazmat suit and walked, with the support of just one person, into a back door of Emory University Hospital. That was the tip-off that giving a disease the O.J. treatment is a symptom of a media sickness for which there appears to be no cure.

Ebola is a terrible hemorrhagic fever that can kill from 50 percent to 90 percent of those who contract it. It’s also a symbol to the political right of all the Third World horrors that liberals are inviting past the walls of our City on the Hill. But now that two American aid workers—Nancy Writebol has just arrived at Emory, on a stretcher but, so far, with less fanfare—have brought it directly to our shores, it’s a Clear and Present Danger.

Georgia congressman Phil Gingrey went so far last month as to warn that the Central American children who’ve been turning up at border stations around the country might be smuggling Ebola in with them, like so many contagious Trojan horses (even though Ebola fever has never been detected in a patient outside of Africa). Howlers like Gingrey’s—echoed Monday by Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)—work because Ebola, “diseased” immigrants, and “blood pollution” of all sorts fit neatly into the racist subtext of the radical right’s opposition to Obama. After all, our “lawless,” African-born POTUS, whose parents faked a birth certificate fifty-three years ago this week in order to infect America with socialism today, just happens to be hosting fifty-one African nations at a summit in Washington. How much proof do you need?

Various studies have shown that conservatives have a lower threshold for disgust than liberals do, and Ebola, which is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids (like vomit, feces and blood, but not through sneezing or coughing) certainly crosses that low bar. Nor is it lost on wingers that AIDS originated in Africa, too.

But many of the diseases that humans are heir to are pretty damn disgusting, no matter where they originate. There aren’t two tiers of diseases any more than there are two tiers of humanity.

There is, however, Donald Trump, who tends to elevate fear of cooties into a political philosophy. He sent out a series of tweets—including “Ebola patient will be brought to the U.S. in a few days—now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent. KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!”—that exhibit the germ phobia we’ve come to expect from isolated billionaire crackpots (Trump will be wearing Kleenex boxes for shoes any day now). Unusually for a Republican, though, the magnate’s fears aren’t overcome by the fact that the two infected Americans are Christian missionaries. “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back,” he also tweeted. “People that go to far away places to help out are great—but must suffer the consequences!”

And never mind that fighting such viruses at their place of origin is far more effective than pretending there’s a disinfectant force-field around the Homeland. Brantly is reported to have been suffering the consequences of doing good with a vengeance until he received two emergency treatments: an experimental serum developed by a San Diego pharmaceutical company, and, according to Samaritan’s Purse, the relief organization working with Brantly, a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old boy who survived the disease after Brantly cared for him in Liberia. Guess which treatment gets more coverage on American TV?

Which brings us back to the fever the media has been suffering ever since the ascent of the Tea Party. Rather than dispel unscientific and political myths, the instinct at many news outlets has been to promote them. The scientific truth the media should have been promoting all along isn’t that Ebola is a Holy Terror emerging from “other” races and immune to Western treatment; rather, it’s a horrible illness with a terrifically high kill rate because up to now it has appeared only in Africa, where clean water, enforced quarantines and disposable medical supplies are hard to come by. That first take played on cable news channels, regardless of their political leanings, is a measure of just how deeply the right-wing anti-science message has taken hold on TV.

But by sheer accident, the car-chase media did the public a service, demonstrating, as Brantly walked into the hospital, that the existential danger over Ebola is being oversold. MSNBC anchor Alex Witt asked on-air physicians, including NBC in-house doctor Nancy Snyderman, if they would be afraid to treat Brantly. No, said Snyderman. Any doctor would be “excited” by the opportunity to use the medical precautions and equipment available in America to find effective treatments for the disease without spreading it.

And maybe, once again, The Onion said it best: “Experts: Ebola Vaccine at Least 50 White People Away.”


By: Leslie Savan, The Nation, August 5, 2014

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Media, Right Wing | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Murderers And Madmen”: The Heartland Institute Has A Message For You

As far-right groups go, the Heartland Institute hasn’t quite reached household-name status yet, but it’s working on it. The group’s strange new billboards, at a minimum, will probably help push the group’s notoriety.

The Heartland Institute is “a tax-exempt organization which promotes conspiracy theories about climate scientists, distorts climate science, and attacks regulation of air and water pollution.” Despite support from corporate allies, the group has become so extreme that high-profile supporters, including GM and AT&T, no longer want anything to do with the outfit.

Instead of moderating its views and aiming for the mainstream, the Heartland Institute is buying billboards along highways in Chicago. Joe Romm reported today:

The Heartland Institute has launched one of the most offensive billboard campaigns in U.S. history. The Chicago-based anti-science think tank is comparing all those who accept climate science — and the journalists who report on it accurately — to Charles Manson, the Unabomber, and Osama Bin Laden.

The Guardian described this as “possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns.”

Of course, the Heartland Institute doesn’t quite see it that way. In its defense of the group’s propaganda, the Heartland Institute says it’s eager to convince people that “believing in global warming” is not “sophisticated,” and to do so, it’s noting that “murderers and madmen” agree with those who accept climate science.

Perhaps the group can use some of its remaining funds to buy a textbook on Logical Fallacies 101?

Andrew Sullivan added, “In some ways, this is an almost perfect illustration of what has happened to the ‘right.’ A refusal to acknowledge scientific reality; and a brutalist style of public propaganda that focuses entirely on guilt by the most extreme association.”


By” Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 4, 2012

May 7, 2012 Posted by | Environment | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Had To Say I Believe In Science”: Jon Huntsman, GOP Is Like Communist Party In China

Jon Huntsman, a former Republican Party candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Sunday evening in an interview said that the GOP is like the Communist Party in China. Huntsman, who was President Obama’s Ambassador to China, certainly is in a position to know. A former Republican Governor of Utah who worked in both the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations, Jon Huntsman last night also distanced himself from Mitt Romney, and attacked the Republican Party’s anti-science and anti-tax positions.

Buzzfeed reports that “the Republican Party disinvited him from a Florida fundraiser in March after he publicly called for a third party.

“This is what they do in China on party matters if you talk off script,” he said.

Huntsman said he regrets his decision to oppose a 10-to-1 spending cuts to tax increase deal to cut the deficit at the Iowa debate lamenting: “if you can only do certain things over again in life.”

“What went through my head was if I veer at all from my pledge not to raise any taxes…then I’m going to have to do a lot of explaining,” he explained. “What was going through my mind was ‘don’t I just want to get through this?’”

That decision, Huntsman said, “has caused me a lot of heartburn.”

Huntsman jokingly blamed his failed candidacy in part on his wife, Mary Kaye, who told him she’d leave him if he abandoned his principles.

“She said if you pandered, if you sign any of those damn pledges, I’ll leave you,” Huntsman recounted.

“So I had to say I believe in science — and people on stage look at you quizzically as though you’re was an oddball,” Huntsman said, explaining why he was “toast” in Iowa.

Asked by journalist Jeff Greenfield if he could win the nomination of the Republican Party in Utah today, Huntsman said he could not, saying later that Ronald Reagan would “likely not” be able to win the GOP nomination nationally in this political climate.

On foreign policy, Huntsman questioned his former Republican opponents’ hard-line positions on China. “I don’t know what world these people are living in,” he said, not naming Mitt Romney by name.

Huntsman, a Mormon, was one of only two GOP presidential candidates who are open to supporting some LGBT civil rights. Fred Karger, a gay Republican candidate for the nomination, supports same-sex marriage. Huntsman only supports civil unions for same-sex couples. He was viewed as a sane Republican, which forced him out of the race early.


By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Call Me Crazy” Jon Huntsman: What A Primary Can Do To A Candidate

Remember when Jon Huntsman, the so-called moderate of the Republican presidential field, was saying sensible things about climate change? Well, forget it.

Jon Huntsman attended a packed blogger sit down at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro attended, pressing the GOP presidential candidate about his position on climate change.

In August, Huntsman acknowledged the broad body of science pointing to climate change. Seated at an elite conservative think tank, however, Huntsman played a different tune, saying climate scientists “owe us more” information before we can decide if climate change is real.

“I think there’s probably more debate to be played out within the scientific community,” he said.

For those who haven’t been following him closely, it’s important to realize that Huntsman was not only a voice of sanity on climate change; he actually seemed to take some pride in using the issue to differentiate himself from his Republican rivals. The former governor used to even support cap and trade.

Asked about climate change in May, Huntsman said, “All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we’d listen to them.”

Responding to Rick Perry in August, Huntsman said, “The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party, we have a huge problem…. When we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.”

Around the same time, Huntsman boasted, “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

What was “crazy” was thinking Huntsman could thrive in national Republican politics saying sane things about science. Now that the pressure’s on, he’s pulling a Romney, abandoning what he knows to be true, and desperately trying to tell his party’s right-wing base what it wants to hear.


By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 6, 2011

December 7, 2011 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Right Wing | , , , , , | 1 Comment


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