Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gonna Be Lonely in Cleveland (w/ Update)

Here's a "What If" scenario: What if they threw a Republican party and nobody came? (via the Washington Monthly and Politico)

With the convention less than a month away, POLITICO contacted more than 50 prominent governors, senators and House members to gauge their interest in speaking. Only a few said they were open to it, and everyone else said they weren’t planning on it, didn’t want to or weren’t going to Cleveland at all — or simply didn’t respond.

As Alex Isenstadt at Politico notes, many of the party leaders and best-known figures are just flat-out avoiding the convention... which is unheard of and an open rebuke towards party unity. Martin Longman at Washington Monthly makes the argument that these party conventions - with their prime-time broadcast slots and intense media coverage - are supposed to be no-brainer invites for the up-and-coming hotshots and attention hogs:

...So, I took a look at the list of speakers at the 2012 Republican National Convention, and guess what I found?
Pretty much anyone who was anyone had a speaking slot there, from Speaker John Boehner, to House members like Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Marsha Blackburn, to up-and-comers like Mia Love, to senators across the ideological spectrum, to pretty much every major Republican governor in the country.
Romney made sure that Latino governors Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada were given primetime slots. Govs. Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Mary Fallin, Bob McDonnell, and John Kasich all made appearances, most of them prominent.

And now none of them can find the time to even pop in for a brief handshake rally off-camera for the party faithful - basically the Trumpshirt Far Right voters - during an afternoon panel at one of the nearby hotels.

These conventions are where your rising stars are supposed to show off their oratory and national appeal. Where your party elders come out for one more rousing speech to excite the base and make the pundits go "wow". For the ones thinking ahead to four years for their turn as the Presidential nominee, you gotta make a speech on prime-time after 8 PM EDT.

Longman counted out a list of who spoke at the 2012 GOP convention. Think back to 2008: you had the people from the primary campaign - as a "Participation" prize - who lost to the eventual nominee McCain; you had party leaders like Boehner (at the time the Minority Leader in the House); you had up-and-comers like Mary Fallin (current governor of Oklahoma). I can't recall anybody turning down an appearance in 2008, despite the clear signs that the voters were going to reject the Republicans after the debacle of the Bush the Lesser years. It wasn't because they wanted to: they needed to show.

I can't imagine anybody turning down an appearance for the Democratic convention THIS year. They don't have any confirmed list of speakers yet, but Hillary is not the toxic dump that Trump is. I'm willing to bet Bernie Sanders is going to insist on a spot to speak in prime-time. I'm willing to bet Hillary is going to want the party's two biggest orators - her own husband Bill Clinton and the current President Obama - providing fireworks leading up to her clinching nomination.

And when each of them were party up-and-comers, both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama eagerly took their moment to shine before national audiences. Bill even f-cked it up in 1988 as the "rising star" speaker: he went an hour too long and bored everyone into booing him. It was such a blow to his national aspirations that he did the night show circuit to apologize. By 1992 he got better. Obama spoke in 2004 as a then-state Senator running for the US Senate and drew rave reviews.

There's bound to be a sizable number of little-known Democratic Congresspersons or state-level officials eager to show off on the national stage. None of them are going to be fleeing from Hillary in terror the way the Republicans are avoiding Trump.

And Trump is toxic: the polling right now has him losing around double digits, and has him without argument the least-liked candidate running for the President of all time. Hillary currently has 88 percent of the Democratic ranks supporting her: it's not what Obama had in 2012 at 92 percent, but it's close. Trump currently has 79 percent of the Republicans backing him: by comparison Romney had 93 percent support in 2012 and still lost a relatively close race. Trump can't afford to be that low: the non-party voters tend to split even between candidates (although this year...) so there's no guarantee Trump can win enough of them over. Hillary's 88 percent is more due to Bernie supporters still holding a grudge against her: once the convention's done she's bound to get into the 90s like Obama.

Given how Trump has continued to campaign with the nomination locked up - failing to "pivot" to the moderate center, brash and reckless and idiotic public appearances, with little regard to ground-game dedication - there's no sign that Trump is going to get better at this. There's every sign Trump is going to be radioactive to the general electorate.

Nobody wants to be around Trump when he's this radioactive.

I'm actually feeling some sympathy for the party delegates coming in from the states to cast their nominating votes. They're the only ones who CAN'T beg off avoiding this impending mess. And even then someone's suing to get out of it.

So... Cleveland. It's looking like more people are gonna turn out for a Browns game than for the Republican convention.

The Factory of Sadness won't have nothing on the Trump Nobody-Else-Show.

Update: well, I spoke too soon. Trump was able to line up speakers for his convention after all.

Mike Tyson...

and coach/chair-tosser Bobby Knight...


Not exactly party elders or up-and-comers are they?

New Book - Surviving the Age of Obstruction: Notes On the Obama Years

Well, you were warned:

This was about as blue a cover I could get... ;)

I decided earlier this year to get some of my blogging articles here at Notice a Trend and put them into book format.

I had several reasons.

First, I was inspired by Molly Ivins. She had published many a newspaper and magazine column into well-received books one of which - Nothin' But Good Times Ahead - my Aunt Dot gifted me for Christmas back in the day.

It's a doable thing, one that I think more bloggers ought to look into. Not everybody reads off the Internet: there are people we could reach with our writings in book form that would never see our work online.

Second, I work at a library and I handle collection development in the Political Science and History shelves. And I am getting sick and tired of seeing a ton of anti-Obama drivel sitting on those shelves. It's like for every pro-Obama or progressive-leaning book, there's ten anti-Obama Far Right nonsense crowding out the space. So here's my contribution to balancing those shelves (if any libraries routinely order books via Ingram, one hopes).

The book contains selected essays from this blog focusing on the ongoing Republican obstructionism, the failures of Republican ideology, the rise of Barack Obama as a focus of Far Right ire, and the successes Obama achieved in spite of the obstruction.

I've included a handful of new essays that are not published on this blog, so there's that enticement.

Think of this as my Eagles Greatest Hits Volume One. Except for the lack of platinum awards or guitar riffs. I think my lyrics to "Dammit Republicans Stop Being Crazy" far outshines "Already Gone"... (granted, "One of These Nights" is too good IMHO)

If you do purchase a copy - THANK YOU - if you can do me a favor and leave a review on the site purchased from. If you like the book, please leave a good review. If you don't like the book... go ahead and be honest about it. I trust your judgment. If you notice any spelling or grammar errors... /shakes head ...just let it slide... Danke.

Link to the publisher bookstore
Link to Amazon.com page
Link to Barnes & Noble page

Sunday, June 26, 2016

That Moment When You Realize An Argument Is Going the Wrong Way

I woke up this morning to find that Infidel753 has been so upset by the reaction he's seeing online about both the Pulse shooting and the Brexit vote that he's walking away from blogging (he's also coping with real-world physical pain and surgery, so there's that) at least for now.

I've got this sinking feeling in my gut that I'm one of the ones who pushed him off the ledge, so to speak.

By his reaction - his complaint of people berating the British voters for speaking their mind - I think he's pointing at the bit in my "You Tossers" rant a few days ago where I blame the voters for being short-sighted and ill-informed. Well, here's what he wrote:

No one seemed to have any knowledge or awareness of the actual issues -- restoration of national sovereignty and independence (however sacred if it were a Third World country involved), the desire to return power from an unelected oligarchy to an elected government, the economic devastation wrought by the euro currency and the EU's enforcement of (very Republican-like) austerity policies on already-weak south European economies -- or the implications of the fact that polls show support for the EU plummeting in all its member states, not just in the UK.  That's hundreds of millions of people who have been living under the damn thing for decades.  Which is more likely -- that they are totally misreading their situation, or that you are totally misreading their situation?...
Bloggers who should know better rushed to ridicule the democratic decision of the British people (soon likely to be replicated in any EU member state where the public gets a chance to vote on its own future), based apparently on some combination of received opinion from the popular media, the fact that Donald Trump approved of the decision (remember the old adage about a stopped clock being right twice a day), and, bizarrely, a perceived similarity between Trump and Boris Johnson, based on a slight physical resemblance and a tendency toward iconoclasm.  I always knew Americans tend to be ignorant about the outside world, but this is astonishing.  Is it really impossible to look at other countries' politics except by ridiculous, shallow analogies to something American?
Even stupider have been the efforts to legitimize this reaction by zeroing in on one individual who was quoted as saying he didn't think his vote would count (every population includes a few idiots), Google searches about what exactly leaving the EU will involve, and suchlike, in an effort to depict the British people as na├»ve fools who didn't know what they were doing.  Trust me, they knew.  This contemptuous disdain for the will of the people when they vote against the rule of a self-appointed oligarchy is exactly the kind of thing I'd expect from the authoritarians who support, well, Trump -- or worse...

Infidel has a valid point in that the Europeans have a better sense of what's going on with their situation that we (or I) do over here on this side of the pond. That the Leave voters had sensible reasons for cutting ties with a bureaucratic system and economic coalition that had little transparency, accountability, or understanding of how their ongoing Austerity measures were cutting into people's lives.

And I don't want this argument to get any worse or cause further divide. If only I can make one point of my own here.

My biggest concern was and still is that the Leave voters honestly didn't realize that the chaos they've voted for is going to be just as traumatic as staying under an EU system that wasn't working as intended. And that it is going to be chaos now not only in the United Kingdom but across all of Europe, which is going to affect everything else in this global economy. And chaos isn't always a good thing.

I want to argue in favor of greater push for reforms, not outright rejection. That's what they should have voted for (and I noted Cameron was an idiot for not framing the referendum to include a "stay but reform" option).

And if I came across as angry and petulant or uncaring of the British voters' right to express themselves, for that I apologize. (It didn't help that the ones I saw pushing for Leave the most - Farage and the UKIP - were shilling a racist anti-immigrant argument as well as lies about what benefits leaving would bring)

I DO respect the right and power of people to vote. I want people to show up to vote (and dammit, just don't vote Republican... sorry, I had to... you know...) because as every election has proven, every election and every vote matters. I just get frustrated - A LOT, this is what I get for living in Florida - when people seem to vote against something for what I see are the wrong reasons.

I know Infidel is going to be busy with real-world stuff right about now, and it sounds like he should, especially if he's prepping for major surgery. I wish him well and that he comes out of that healthy and improved. I don't want him leaving in a foul mood. I respect his opinion and his values, and if I crossed a line with him, that's on me and I got to do better than be flippant and angry all the time.

...Just one last thing. I'm with the Scottish voters on this point (warning NSFW): Trump's still an idiot.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Looks Like I Picked The Wrong Week To Stop Sniffing Brexit

So there I was yesterday, promising I was going to cut back on social media and blogging. I am just honestly doing too much of it right now.

So both the Old Gods and the New decided to screw up my blogger vacation with arguably the biggest global crisis since the 2007-08 economic meltdown.

Thursday, the United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and various other commonwealth areas tied into it - held a "nonbinding referendum" on an up or down vote: to Leave the European Union - a major economic and trade coalition of European nations - or Remain.

It was also called #Brexit, a melding of "Britain" and "Exit" that worked well as a Twitter hashtag.

It was a serious argument for the UK for decades over joining the Union at all: the debates between joining or standing alone were pretty fierce if I recall my history, up until they actually joined (with restrictions, not full membership) in order to reap certain economic benefits such as making the entire Euro market the largest trading bloc and engine of finance/industry on the planet. Once they were in, the arguments subsided for the most part... except for flaring up last year because of homeland fears over immigration and businesses fleeing to other nations (gee, sounds familiar...)

It was supposed to be a throwaway moment: it was something Prime Minister Cameron promised to do last year during the Parliamentary elections as a way to keep voters from bolting to the anti-EU, anti-immigrant UKIP (aka British Trumpshirts) during a potentially tight run. The expectations - and the polling - kept pointing to a tough but clean win to Remain with the EU, because honestly most of the elites in politics and the media believed the voters wouldn't be stupid enough to commit economic suicide.

And then they counted the votes.

I swear to the Gods - the Old and the New - that the very second the incoming ballots showed Leave was going to eke out a win, the entire global economy melted down faster than a cup of Dipping Dots at an August afternoon preseason football game at Raymond James stadium.

The British Pound dropped to a 30-year low compared to the US dollar. In about an hour it dropped faster than a blue whale without a parachute.

To say that the global markets went into panic mode AT THAT MOMENT and remained so well into today would be an understatement.

And so here I was, sitting at home watching all of this on an Internet I swore I wasn't going to pay attention to, and this was pretty much the one thought bouncing through my head:


You Brits could have retained some stability in all three major areas of public concern: your economy, your culture, your government. All three are now burning in the dumpster fire.

The economic consequences are being felt now... with every likelihood of things getting worse once the mechanics of leaving the EU kick in.

The outrage among younger voters - who overwhelmingly backed Remain - is going to stick with that electorate for a very long time.

Prime Minister David Cameron went in one hour from being one of the most powerful men on the planet - Prime Minister ranks somewhere below President of the United States and slightly above the Actor Currently Playing The Doctor - to resigning from office in utter humiliation. Few Prime Ministers fell so low so fast. The resulting battle among Conservatives for the new leadership spot will likely spill over into a broken government, forcing a new round of elections sooner than the required five-year cycle.

Not to mention the likelihood that the very existence of the United Kingdom - anchored by the British Parliament - won't survive the year. Scotland AND Northern Ireland - both of which rely on the EU economy more than England - are calling for referendums of their own to force independence from Great Britain. The daily reality of everything from Queen Elizabeth's reign - and that has serious repercussions at home and abroad - all the way down to passports and travel rules across Europe are taking a huge hit here.

It's as though - and there's evidence pointing to it - the voters for Leave didn't realize what the hell they were voting for until AFTER THEY FOOKIN VOTED.

Buyer's remorse is reportedly now rampant across the countryside. Cliches are getting thrown out there like there's no tomorrow. Sorry, had to.

This is a cascade of failure across time and space. If the Brits weren't working on a functional TARDIS before all this, they are fookin building one NOW.

This was a spectacular failure of leadership within British government itself. Cameron failed to consider the actual likelihood of a bad result, and didn't create alternatives on the ballot to avoid a catastrophic either-or Sadistic Choice. It didn't help that factions within the Conservative ranks itself sowed chaos. Boris Johnson in particular - as close a clone of Trump we'll ever get: a glory-seeking Upper Class Twit - had pushed publicly for #Brexit as a way to take out Cameron and claim No. 10 Downing for himself, but apparently JUST NOW figured out how costly the bill is going to be. If he gets The Iron Throne to be Prime Minister, it's going to be ruling over a land of ash and White Walkers. All hail Boris, First of His Name... King of Nothing...

The main opposition party - Labour - didn't do any better. Ostensibly campaigning to Remain, they did a very piss-poor job of it. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing a No-Confidence vote: the party itself may lose all of Scotland as a political ally if they split off. Gordon Brown for some godforsaken reason is starting to look good.

And the one who really won this referendum is a son-of-a-bitch. The UKIP leader - Nigel Farage - was one of Leave's biggest proponents: Farage pushed a narrative about the threat of immigrants and lost jobs, as well as making promises that the UK would recover money from the EU that could go back towards paying off their NHS (Health care). And yet not a day passed after his victory that Farage admitted on television that his claim about the NHS was "a mistake." No, it wasn't a mistake, you racist SOB: You lied.

This was a monstrous failure of communication by the media outlets tasked with keeping the electorate educated and informed. It does not surprise me one bit that one of the bigger proponents for Leave was one of Rupert Murdoch's papers The Sun. Decades of pushing populist narratives and bad reporting onto the British population - much like what he's been pushing here in the U.S. with Fox Not-News - has created an electorate that's poorly informed and motivated by flawed opinions masquerading as news.

This was a horrifying failure of civic responsibility by the voters themselves. Too much self-indulgence, too short-sighted and short-term, and too disinterested to take the entire thing serious enough. And now their economy is tanking so fast their personal wealth - any retirement funds, any investment portfolios, the very cash in their pockets - could be gone by Monday.

This is a massive warning sign to the United States electorate. This is it, folks: this is what Nativist Populism looks like. This is what anti-immigrant, anti-Establishment fear-mongering creates. A large enough number of voters bought into the lies and scams of the likes of Farage - who exaggerated fears about immigrants and lied about the benefits of Leaving - into voting against their own self-interest and needs. We've seen it too many times here in the U.S. already, where a solid bloc of voters routinely vote against social aid or improvements to their cities and counties and states all because they buy the Populist snake-oil. And now the Brits are doing it to themselves. And it's frankly getting too scary to see how this is going to be a problem for us here in the U S of A.

Think we critics of Donald Trump are joking about how bad it's going to be for the United States - and the world - if Trump wins? Just look at the UK right now, in the last 24 hours: that will be the US after Election Day this November if Trump gets a majority of the Electoral College. And it will get worse every other day following that.

Speaking of the devil, Trump for some Ungodly reason was in Scotland as the Brexit vote was taking place. He made some insane brain-fart tweets about the referendum, and then today made a public speech about Brexit... and how it was going to be great for that golf course of his that he was there to promote.

There is now a Gallifrey-sized dent in my desk where my head slammed into it.

I remember the terror I felt for my own nation's near-miss with economic meltdown: all the way back during that Long October of 2013. At one point I realized that one of the biggest reasons our Republican overlords in Congress were hell-bent on forcing an economic crisis was because they had no real idea what it would really look like. I mean, they never really believed the underlying causes of the 2007-08 Economic Collapse was due to massive deregulation and greedy banks: the Far Right kept believing it was bad government, high taxes, and Fannie Mae. So in their minds, they could make their own government default on its own and there wouldn't be any major consequences (or at the least blame Obama and the evil hippie libruls).

The British Far Right and their entire Conservative Tory wing apparently viewed their relations to the EU in the same light of ill-informed ignorance. They acted as though cutting ties to every other major economic power on their own continent would be mutual, beneficial, and safe. They are honestly getting sideswiped right now by the economic meltdown they've just caused and are continuing to generate. Here's more evidence: the British economy just slid from fifth to sixth in the world economic leader board behind FRANCE. You think we Yanks joke too much about France? The Brits are now personally humiliated they are doing worse than France. And there's nowhere to go but down...

Other than outright negating the entire referendum and pledging to stay within the EU - which is doable, but would likely cost them their earlier privileges with the EU as a penalty, and would likely break the Tories as a ruling party for the next decade (if not longer, if the youth voters remember this shitshow) - they are now on a terrifying train ride into economic and political isolation.

If not utter ruin.

I never knew the 1960s. I was literally born in its wake - 1970 - and so can only remember it as history.

I am wondering if 1968 was just this maddening, just this chaotic across the board. All this uncertainty and horror and rage and angst and dread.

The dread I felt about the likelihood of Romney beating Obama back in 2012 was nothing like this.

For the first time in my life, I fear the future.

What the hell is wrong with us?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Vacation From Social Media

I'm feeling a little burned out from the information overload with blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, Phishing, Dishing, Listing, and other forms of xerography.

...made you look up the word xerography, didn't I?

I'll still blog a thing or two: there is bound to be some outrage I have to rant against, or a personal announcement about my pending collected works book.

But I gotta cut back. I'm overdoing the cray-cray myself, and I gotta take stock of things in the Real World.

I've also committed to doing Camp NaNo this July... so yeah, gotta focus on things.

Look, if something comes up, or if Michael Taggart comes back asking to talk about his dad, get my attention right f-cking quick by posting a comment here and type everything in CAPS LOCK under an Anonymous account. That should do it.


Sigh. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

There's Something Happening Here

...What it is involves the Democratic Party stepping up in a public way to call for votes on gun safety.

Earlier this week, the Senate Democrats forced a filibuster to get the Republicans in that side of Congress to hold floor votes on bills to restrict gun sales at least to those who were on DHS "watch lists". Granted, the votes all failed as the Republicans - and a handful of Democrats in pro-NRA states - denied any semblance of sanity over publicly-supported gun laws. And we're not talking about things like universal background checks getting a vote, even though that has an 86 percent approval from a majority of Americans (including enough gun owners to make a dent in the NRA arguments).

Tonight, when the Republican-controlled House tried to finish up their session before the extra-long summer recess - having failed to consider a ton of much-needed action on, well, EVERYTHING - the Democrats stood up and challenged the Republicans to at least hold up-or-down votes on two gun regulation bills in their wing of Congress.

Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of his buddies pretty much closed up the session and walked away.

The Democratic Congresspersons stayed.

Led by John Lewis, one of the civil rights giants of our era, over 100 make that 189 Democrats are staging a sit-in to call attention to the need to vote on the matter. It doesn't matter if they'll lose - and they would lose the vote as the Republicans are firmly pro-gun-worship - what the Dems want is an official record of it.

What the Democrats are doing are making a public display of who is on which side of the gun debate. And that the Democrats are the ones who are on the side of a majority of Americans who want sensible gun control laws.

Of course, the Republicans are dismissing the sit-in. They dare not engage otherwise, lest they point up how their Congress is unresponsive to the very American people they're supposed to serve.

Rather than vote, Ryan would rather call the sit-in a "publicity stunt" as though unworthy of our attention. But Cole over at Balloon Juice is right: it IS exactly a publicity stunt because THAT'S HOW YOU DRAW ATTENTION TO THE ISSUES THAT NEED SOLUTIONS.

Ryan ordered the cameras turned off for the House floor to avoid the bad optics that could get loose on cable channels - CSPAN! - but he failed to take away smartphones that the Democratic Congresspersons are using to share snaps and video feed to social media sites. (I'm not sure how to embed into the blog at the moment, but the Internet should provide)

Follow the Twitter hashtag #NoBillNoBreak

This is something that's been long overdue: pushing back against the political indifference of the Republicans when it comes to gun violence and public safety.

This is something happening in Congress. At long fucking last.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Honest Bumper Stickers 2016: Part 11, In Which It Is Learned There Are Too Many Words To Fit On Normal Bumper Stickers

Yeah, yeah, actually, I'm typing in too much stuff in the banners. I'm over-explaining the jokes, as it were.

I need to stick to the short-worded, timeless classics. Winners like "IT WAS A STARK AND DORMY NIGHT"

...still not working?

Sigh. Anyway, here's more Trump bumper stickers, and now a Libertarian Gary Johnson one!

I thought up this one on the drive home from work, kiddos...

The Clothes Have No Trump

So the emperor went in procession under the rich canopy, and every one in the streets said, 'How incomparable are the emperor's new clothes! what a train he has to his mantle! how it fits him!' No one would let it be perceived that he could see nothing, for that would have shown that he was not fit for his office, or was very stupid. No clothes of the emperor's had ever had such a success as these...

It started out as observations from those who cover campaigns, especially the fundraising and financial aspects. Donald Trump wasn't spending all that much on his own Presidential campaign.

There was a kind of paradox at play there. Trump entered the 2016 campaign last year bragging, bragging that he was the richest guy on the block worth billions of dollars. Yet he was campaigning almost entirely for free. You couldn't blame him, though. The media - Fox Not-News, the other cable channels, Daily Show, late-night stand-ups, social media - were all giving him free publicity. Even the attacks were all good for Donald, as unashamed and vulgar and he was, because even bad coverage was still getting his trademarked name - Trump (tm) - out there. Why spend millions on an ad campaign when your name and face was plastered over the news channels?

As a result, Trump grew in power and position among the Republican candidates. None dare knock him off the hilltop because the party feared he would flee and start his own campaign, one that would draw a third of their own voters away and ruin every electoral chance. None dare go after his rabid fanbase of angry voters, hoping to either win them over should Trump self-destruct or to avoid their wrath.

At no time did the Party do its homework, force the issue, argue against Trump's wealth. The Republican mindset about business and wealth was that you never question it, it's always good, everyone WANTS to be rich and powerful, and no one should ever question the rich and powerful. The party leaders never bothered to call up their friends in the world that Trump comes from, to find out if Trump was really telling the truth - as though Trump was never the world's biggest bullshit artist - about being a billionaire. They never worked up the nerve to insist on Trump helping out with the overall Party fundraising, to put money down for the other elections the GOP needed to win this cycle.

And on and on the con game went. Nobody wanted to delve too deep when they had the chance during the Primaries, and so Trump bluffed his way through a gauntlet of timid, foolish, unfit candidates within a political party trapped by their own self-serving fantasies. By the time anybody could do anything, he was the only one left.

'But he has nothing on!' a little child cried out at last.
'Just hear what that innocent says!' said the father; and one whispered to another what the child had said. 'There is a little child that says he has nothing on.'

It is the prerogative of children to state the obvious. The very young do not play the games of self-deception and deceit that adults play.

Critics kept warning - not just the general voters but the Republican Party itself - that Trump was a trap: every endeavor he'd ever gotten himself into went bankrupt or failed because he wasted money, indulged on himself, refused to do the heavy lifting, or merely sought to put his name on stuff before it collapsed into dust.

Trump wasn't going to be campaigning for the glory or health of the Republican Party: he was going to campaign for himself. And get as much money out of it he could before the deal went sour.

Thing about Trump's deal-making abilities: he's really not that savvy about smoothing out things that could profit both sides. He just goes in, argues for more and more slices of the pie, bullies those who don't cave quick enough, insults critics without care, and refuses to pay for services rendered by threatening to sue and forcing his workers to settle for less.

This is not a guy who has the temperament to talk to "other" rich people about donations and financial support. This is a guy who made three phone calls to deep-pocket backers of the GOP and gave up, having failed to get one donation that the RNC hoped to get out of the calls.

And today was a horrific day for the RNC: Filings with the FEC show that Trump really doesn't have that much money in hand, and he's been spending a lot of what he did have on his family, close business associates, his own businesses, and questionable vendors all of whom tie back into Trump.

And now the entire party is stuck. The Republicans can't get any of their deep-pocket billionaires to finance a campaign the wealthy can tell is a rip-off (because they know already Trump is a grifter). The Republicans can't dump Trump - not before the convention, not during the convention, not after - because Trump has enough of a following that when (not if) he departs he leaves behind a riot of angry voters refusing any order the party elites could issue.

There's a struggle now for the SuperPACs and outside funding to carry on direct (as allowed by Citizens United) support to the Senate and House campaigns: the mad hope that they can separate the Congressional tickets from a now-toxic Presidential one. That has problems too: You can't separate the party like that anymore. Nearly every voter votes the entire ticket (if they know to: far too many leave the down-ballot slots empty) anymore, that's how partisan our system has gotten. Voters will still vote for OR against a party entirely on how that party's leadership sells the whole group.

This is where the Republicans are right now: Trump's broke, nobody's rushing in to start paying for things, they've got a convention in less than a month where the corporate backers are jumping ship, and this is all getting public in the worst way.

It's a good thing the Republican Party is already dead. Otherwise I might worry this would be bad for the country. Thank God for schadenfreude.
'But he has nothing on!' said the whole people at length. And the emperor shivered, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought within himself, 'I must go through with the procession.' And so he carried himself still more proudly, and the chamberlains held on tighter than ever, and carried the train which did not exist at all. - Hans Christen Andersen

Sunday, June 19, 2016

No Plans, No Backup, No Exit

As the polling numbers flounder, there are other signs of discord and chaos within the World of Trump (tm):

What is concerning for Trump backers and Republicans (the Venn diagram of overlap between those groups seems to be in perpetual flux) is that it appears to be distracting from the rest of the crucial work of building a presidential campaign. For most intents and purposes, there appears to be no Trump campaign... 

As David A. Graham at the Atlantic notes:

For example, Trump has no state-level campaign director in Ohio or Colorado, two top-shelf swing states. Across the map, Republican officials say they’re just waiting to hear on what to do from either Trump or the Republican National Committee, but so far they’re hearing very little. “I'll say that as far as building the infrastructure of a campaign, the RNC has been doing it for many years,” Trump said at a press conference in May...

It's true that the national committee has always handled the "ground game" aspects of the nuts-and-bolts, usually coordinating with their state branches to get volunteers and call centers organized, but there's always been a joint effort with the campaigner himself to, you know, put something into that effort to get it started. Everyone's waiting for Trump to settle into his own chain of command, press a Start button to get the general election engine going... and he's too busy yammering at rallies and Tweeting online to get his own house in order.

At the beginning of that article, Graham noted how Trump is hiring just a handful of people, and mostly focused on his home state of New York as a place he wants to win. Which flies a bit into the face of common sense because New York is so liberal Blue in national elections - and with Hillary claiming it as a home-state as well - that the Republicans are better off cutting their losses and focusing on Ohio and Florida instead.

Trump's thinking on this mimics his thinking on trying to win California: deluded that a solid Blue state could be treated like a toss-up, because it's Electoral College-heavy (gotta win HUGE) and because Trump seems to know where the state is on the map (Trump's ego is telling him New Yawk is his place and the people there are HIS people).

What's interesting is how Trump is screwing up on the finer details of campaigning: Even an amateur like myself would know to set up and keep running - especially if I'm winning - state-level offices during the primaries to have a ground crew in place for the post-convention push into the General election. It may cost some money - isn't Trump supposed to be rich, and isn't he supposed to be good at hiring people to work for him? - but even a volunteer staff would be something. This is common-sense stuff, stuff I've seen for statewide Governor campaign in-person volunteering for Crist in 2010 and with Obama's ground games in 2008 and 2012.

It's as though Trump is trying to run his whole thing on the cheap: He HAD gotten so much free press coverage up until now that it helped him avoid wasting money during the Primary season on ad time. It's his modus operandi of Other People's Money, instead of money it's with Other People's Press Coverage. And now he seems to think he can just campaign the whole way like this.

Hint: He can't. This is the part of the campaign where the fight goes to Get Out The Vote efforts, bigger ad pushes, fund-raising that requires money be spent first to get the staff to raise those funds and organize more events and drum up constant support. And he's not getting any of that in place right now.

By comparison, Hillary's got a ground game in most battleground toss-up states and is already buying up ad time. She'll be selling a positive spin on herself - and mudslinging a ton of dirt at Trump - that can reach more people and with better effectiveness than any Trump Tweet could. And we're still weeks ahead of the Democratic convention in Philly.

Trump is showing signs that he honestly doesn't know how to campaign for the Presidency in the first place, and that he's not hiring the right people to do it for him. He's also not in the mood - hilariously enough - to do any fund-raising himself (also via Graham):

A related and intertwined problem is Trump’s lack of fundraising. Although he once said he’d raise $1 billion, his new fundraising team—mostly constituted by the RNC, of course—is working to depress expectations, saying there’s little chance he’ll raise that much. In fact, many members told The Wall Street Journal they haven’t even done any work yet. There’s a vicious cycle at work here, which is that as donors see the Trump campaign in chaos, they’re unwilling to fork over their hard-earned cash. Why back a candidate who’s rending the Republican Party apart, doesn’t follow conservative orthodoxy, and seems to have no idea what he’s doing with the money?

From the Politico, this little tidbit:

...While Trump had promised Priebus that he would call two dozen top GOP donors, when RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh recently presented Trump with a list of more than 20 donors, he called only three before stopping, according to two sources familiar with the situation. It’s unclear whether he resumed the donor calls later.
Meanwhile, there’s deep skepticism on Trump’s campaign about the RNC’s commitment to the presumptive GOP nominee, with some campaign officials questioning how hard the RNC is working to help Trump and to raise money for his campaign’s joint committees with the party.

There's a sense that Trump wants control of the funds, but doesn't want to do any of the heavy lifting to get those funds in the first place. Again, Other's People Money at work here.

It's like having a professional cyclist keep the lead of the Tour de France up until the 15th Stage, and then suddenly stop pedaling (peddling?) unless the other cyclists on the Tour take over the pedaling for him.

There's been this buzz that somewhere within - deep down in a secret part of the empty space that should contain his soul - Trump is that he really doesn't want to be President. I can see where the idea would come from: Being President is too demanding, too time-consuming and too limiting on someone like Trump who has to be 100 other places all at once doing his own thing and not someone else's.

Here's the problem: Trump always wants to paint himself as a winner... even when he's running away from whatever disaster he just created - failing casinos, struggling sports league, doomed airline, questionable online school - with his terrible skills. He can't just quit the campaign for something because the ENTIRE WORLD is witnessing this. That would be a huge admission of failure, and it would wreck his trademarked name.

If there's an exit strategy - get kicked off the ballot by the GOP, or have the convention stolen from him - it still compels him at this point to play the game to the bitter end by angrily (justifiably) running as an Independent/Write-In if only to wreck the Republicans for "betraying" him. I doubt scandal - any emerging facts of his dubious business practices for example - will drive him out. Only Trump can destroy Trump, and he doesn't want to.

So for now I'm thinking he's in this to win this. He just doesn't realize what that means.

What I'm figuring is that Trump has a Plan A: Run for President using the same marketing skills to promote his brand (his NAME) to draw in enough suckers voters to win and draw in enough billionaire fools fellow rich people to give him enough money to pay off growing debts he'd rather not people know to enjoy the good life. It works (worked) for the Primary, but the General election is filled with voters who aren't suckers for a wingnut egomaniacal platform.

Trump does not have a Plan B. From what I've seen of his career, Plan B is usually bankruptcy court. That doesn't help here.

This is where the Republicans have to panic. They are facing the WORST of both worlds here. Either Trump stays on as their standard-bearer, running a disorganized mess that scares away the deep-pocket funders (more and more companies are refusing to support their convention, for example) and wrecks the whole party's ability to campaign for down-ballot offices. Or Trump leaves, but in a way that either burns the whole house down as he runs for it or else prevents the party from fixing the damage left in his wake.

Kicking Trump out is no longer an option: They do that, and the voting base riots. Worse for the RNC, they'll stop voting Republican at every level. Their dying party - still shambling about zombie-like - dies for real, and stays dead for more than one generation.

In the RNC's best-case scenario, Trump nominates a "respectable" long-time politician as his Veep, then quits for some vague excuse allowing the RNC or the convention delegates to rally to the Veep to step up as the Presidential candidate for the General election. But even then, the party will be weeks behind in organization compared to Hillary and the Dems. The Republicans would have to start from scratch in July something that should have been up and running by May. And knowing Trump, his Veep selection is going to be someone so similar in tone against immigrants and women that the replacement candidate will be just as toxic and hated as Trump, meaning they'll still poll poorly and lose in November.

The only good news in THAT scenario for the GOP is that they could get their fund-raising efforts back into play to where they could salvage their Congressional and state-level campaigns. Maybe.

The only real way Trump leaves is if he's utterly convinced he's not going to make any money out of his scam campaign. Which might be why the RNC isn't so rushed to do anything to help: the Republicans have always been about "starving the beast," after all. But the Republicans have to starve themselves in the process if they do this, with no guarantee they can recover as a Party.

I'm adding this to the Schadenfreude tag, just because it is maliciously joyous to watch the Republicans panic as this oncoming storm of disorganized hell approaches them.

I just hope innocent people don't get hurt in this.