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Two Draft Thoughts

[ 26 ] May 5, 2016 |

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A couple of interesting points in Barnwell’s draft writeup. First, on why organizations tend to discount the value of future draft picks:

That’s not an accurate measure. A second-round pick is a second-round pick. Draft picks in the future are treated as though they’re less valuable because the general manager trading the picks might not be around to actually use them, which represents part of the moral hazard incumbent with turning over your personnel department to employees who typically last a few years on the job. Future picks then realistically mean different things to different organizations. Les Snead and Jeff Fisher are probably going to get fired unless the Rams make the playoffs in 2016, which no doubt made it easier for them to trade future picks to move up to the first overall slot. Bill Belichick and Ozzie Newsome aren’t going anywhere unless they want to move on, which is why they can trade for future picks with impunity.

This makes sense. Undervaluing future picks is irrational from an organizational standpoint but not necessarily from the standpoint of an individual GM. Which isn’t to deny people like Belichick and Newsome and Thompson credit — their power gives them a greater ability to play the percentages, but you still have to know what the right move is. The Giants are a stable organization and Jerry Resse won a Super Bowl in his first year — obviously buying him some job security — and yet he’s literally never traded down in the draft. And, conversely, DePodesta/Jackson/Brown can’t be that confident that the Browns won’t decide next year that it’s time for their near-annual managerial and coaching change (Mike Holmgren and Rob Chudzinski: tanned, rested, and ready to trade two first round picks for Melvin Gordon!), and yet they had a pretty much perfect draft day.

Needless to say, I endorse this point about the Solemn Integritude of the teams that passed on Larmey Tunsil because DRUGS:

Tennessee’s move up to grab Jack Conklin is colored by the bizarre fall of Laremy Tunsil, whose social media accounts appeared to be hacked minutes before the draft started. The Tunsil story is still developing as I write this, and it’s entirely possible that teams like the Titans might have preferred Conklin to the Ole Miss product, but the idea that Tunsil was suddenly undraftable because of the suggestion that he smoked marijuana at one point before being drafted is bizarre. The Ravens, who reportedly took Tunsil off their board after the tweet, famously kept Ray Rice on their roster before video of his brutal assault on his fiancée leaked. The Bears, who badly need a left tackle, passed on Tunsil just one year after they signed troubled defensive end Ray McDonald and had owner George McCaskey try to pass off McDonald as a changed man. As Lions general manager Bob Quinn noted, “If we took players off the board because they smoked pot in college or marijuana, like half the board would be gone.” NFL teams chose a bizarre time to get sanctimonious or worried about PR hits.

At least in this case, while it cost Tunsil some money the primary victims of this instance of drug war moralism were the moralists themselves.

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Book Review: Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History

[ 22 ] May 4, 2016 |

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Scenes on a Cotton Plantation: Hoeing, engraving from Harper’s Weekly, February 2, 1867

Sven Beckert’s Bancroft Prize-winning book is a brilliant as advertised. He explores the history of cotton production to demonstrate how Europeans took control of a crop that grew widely around the world but not in Europe and used it to promote global expansion through state-sponsored violence and control over labor. In doing so, Beckert weaves together the experiences of peoples around the world and builds connections between the past and present.

For Beckert, the entire process of cotton expansion, industrialization, and the cotton fields and apparel industry to the present is backed with horrifying violence. Cotton grows in many forms around the world’s tropics. From Mexico to India, it has served as the basis of household economies for thousands of years, through weaving and spinning. But what he calls “war capitalism” changed this. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, European nations and the United States went to war to violently open lands for cotton production. Within the United States, this was the wars on Native Americans in the South that led to the Trail of Tears. The trans-Atlantic slave trade violently provided the labor for these cotton agriculture. Conquest in India and Egypt was influenced by the insatiable desire for cotton.

The growing power of the state allowed this expansion to happen. As we can see throughout the history of capitalism, talk of “free enterprise” covered up the central hand of the state in shaping markets, ensuring compliant labor, passing tariffs to protect domestic industry, and going to war to find new cotton lands or bring the world’s labor within a cotton regime. War capitalism became industrial capitalism after the conquest of land and people. The state grew to facilitate this industrial capitalism, with state power backing capitalist expansion throughout the globe.

As an Americanist, Beckert naturally enough sees the Civil War as a transitional point in the history of cotton, but in a very different way than a U.S.-centric book. With Europe largely reliant upon U.S. cotton by 1861, the Civil War placed those nations in a real crisis. The U.S. was producing so much cotton that there was a large surplus, delaying the crisis. But mills across France, Germany and especially Britain closed by 1863. By early 1862, cotton imports to Britain were down 50 percent in total, 96 percent from the United States. The state was there to help solve these problems. Britain especially sought to produce more cotton in India and Egypt. India had long produced much cotton, but largely persisted in its pre-colonial household production traditions, largely for domestic production, which consistently frustrated the British. Egypt began ramping up its cotton production, while nations such as Mexico added to the global cotton supply as well. American diplomats sought to promote cotton production around the globe as well, for they knew that if cotton supplies grew, the agitation in Britain to recognize the Confederacy would decline, as it did once the crisis passed.

Reconstruction forced American cotton farmers to figure out new ways of controlling labor to grow cotton, but this was not strictly an American process either. Rather, in his chapter titled “Global Reconstruction,” Beckert demonstrates how the process to rethink cotton labor was global and necessary for the Euro-American industrial societies reliant upon cotton production to feed their own working classes. Various forms of labor replaced chattel slavery. Sharecropping in the American South and Brazil became common. In Egypt, both sharecroppers and small owners provided family based labor. But the independence of these local economies was large gone. Instead, these farmers were now enmeshed in a system of global capitalism that often kept them in debt through sharecropping, crop liens, and merchants. This eventually led to a flood of cotton pouring into European nations. While Beckert doesn’t explicitly address this, it’s long been my contention that while the British were happy to continue using slave-made cotton from the South, it would have expanded production in the colonies even without the Civil War in order to lower the cost. Were that to have happened, the independent Confederacy may well have seen the price of its economic staple collapse and become unsustainable as an independent nation. Of course, this is conjecture and has little place in a history book, except to note that the British had long wanted to get more cotton out of India but found itself frustrated by local resistance.

By the late 19th century, the rise of imperialism became closely connected to cotton production, with European states binding the world together in an ever more intensive attempt to acquire cheap cotton. Perhaps most notorious was the Germans bringing experts from the Tuskegee Institute, some of whom were ex-slaves themselves, to its colony in Togo in order to find ways to force peoples there to grow for the German market, as Europeans states were doing throughout Africa and south Asia. The French forced peasants to grow cotton under state supervision in Côte d’Ivoire, as did the Belgians in the Congo.

Conditions in the apparel factories of Europe and the United States were hardly better than the fields of Togo or Alabama. Like today, cotton manufacturers loved to exploit young girls and the state went to great lengths to provide that labor. Beckert tells the story of a 10-year-old girl named Mary Hootton, working in a Manchester factory, who we only know of because she was chosen to testify before a British investigative commission in 1833. Her life was brutal, with beatings at home and two years in the factories already, where she would be punished for being late to work by having a 20 pound weight put around her little neck and being forced to walk around the mill while the other children made fun of her. States created legal frameworks for wage labor that could include imprisonment for leaving work without permission in Prussia or for breaking a labor contract in England. Less directly, the increased inability to make a living through household manufacturing, often due to states forcing open markets for cotton exports, forced workers into the brutal factory world of Mary Hootton. Whether in Manchester, South Carolina, Mexico, Japan, Switzerland, or Bangladesh, household workers have found their ability to maintain household production overturned by global capitalism in the last 200 years and their states have ensured access to cheap and pliable labor, with force to back up industry if necessary.

In today’s globalized cotton capitalism, how much has changed? Although Beckert covers the recent past and present relatively briefly, the answer for him, as it is for myself, is not as much as you would think. Today, cotton production is still a system of rampant exploitation, where children are forced into the fields in Uzbekistan and where factories collapse and kill over 1100 workers in Bangladesh, with the American companies contracting production there and therefore playing a huge role in creating this system facing no accountability. Meanwhile, the cotton industrial towns of the global north are gone and largely replaced by nothing, as one can see in towns around southern New England like Woonsocket, Pawtucket, and Fall River. The state still shapes cotton today, whether through forced labor, union-busting, or cotton growing subsidies in the United States. The current system of globalized labor exploitation in the cotton and apparel industry is not some great opportunity for the Bangladeshi and Chinese poor but rather part of the same system of capitalist cotton that in its previous iterations committed genocide against Native Americans, vastly expanded chattel slavery, and oppressed factory workers in Europe and the U.S.

While the writing is more adequate than literary, Empire of Cotton is definitely accessible to the general reader. You all should read it if you want a truly global history that will change the way you look at both the past and the globalized economy of the present.

The Pirate Party

[ 44 ] May 4, 2016 |

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Fascinating political events in Iceland, where the conservative prime minister had to step down because of revelations in the Panama Papers about his tax avoidance. But the electorate doesn’t seem to trust the traditional left-of-center parties either because of its responsibility for the nation’s financial crisis. So what is the option? Something called The Pirate Party, which is likely to win the upcoming elections.

Making this political crisis even more historic is who stands to gain from it. The current center-right government coalition is thoroughly unpopular, but the main center-left Social Democratic Alliance and left-wing Left-Green opposition parties were largely discredited from their disastrous handling of the economic recovery in the wake of the financial crisis. Consequently, the nascent Pirate Party—which you won’t be surprised to learn is intensely anti-establishment—has surged in the polls and is well-positioned to lead a new coalition after the next election.

The Pirates, who have small sister parties in other European nations, have proposed a radical experiment in government transparency, direct democracy, digital privacy, and copyright reform—a platform almost perfectly suited to take advantage of the disgust over the Panama Papers revelations. While the Pirates intentionally avoid placing themselves on the left-right political spectrum, many of their other policy planks, such as support for the welfare state and reform of drug laws, put them closer to those on the left. With polls showing their support over 30 percent, the Pirates would easily have the numbers to form a coalition with one or both of the two left-leaning opposition parties, meaning Iceland could be in for a dramatic shift in policy whenever elections eventually take place.

I suppose the upside here is that in a parliamentary system, there is a chance that if these people are actually competent, they could reframe the left side of the nation’s political spectrum and reinvigorate a more populist politics that means a real leftist challenge to corporations. That’s a big ask of course, because insurgent politics are often not actually good at running the day-to-day operations of government that matter a lot. Certainly something to follow anyway.

The GOP is Not Dead

[ 311 ] May 4, 2016 |

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I do not understand this whole line of thought in the last few months that the Trump phenomenon is the end of the Republican Party. Michael Cohen writes an obituary for the GOP:

At one point, the Republican Party nominally stood on a platform of economic and social conservatism. At least that was the public face of the party. Today, with Trump at its helm, it’s a party of nativism, xenophobia, crudeness, and misogyny. Those elements were of course always present in the party — and are at the root of its modern political success. But they were generally hidden below the surface or utilized with dog whistles. With Trump, there is no mistaking the fact that what drives GOP voters is not conservative dogma, but rather resentment, anxiety, and fear, particularly of minorities, Muslims, and immigrants.

That post-2012 Republican Party autopsy that said the GOP must reach out to Hispanic voters if it wanted to win a national election again is dead and buried. Quite simply, the Republican Party cannot win national elections if it doesn’t find a way to broaden the party’s appeal. With Trump as the presidential nominee, that effort will be set back, perhaps a generation or more.

Even more searing than the electoral challenges, Trump has delivered a savage blow to the GOP’s conception of itself. Armed with a mere handful of endorsements from elected GOP officials, Trump has run a campaign aimed directly against the Republican establishment. And he beat the stuffing out of it. And by taking positions on everything from taxes and trade to transgender Americans and terrorism that run directly against decades of conservative orthodoxy, he’s left the Republican establishment with no clear ideological mooring. Is the GOP a party of small government conservatism or a party of nativism and white male resentment? For decades, Republicans tried to be both, and Trump has, with a single presidential campaign, exposed the fallacy that lay at the heart of the party — namely that its voters were only interested in conservative dogma insofar as it was married to those aforementioned feelings of resentment, anxiety, and fear. But when given a choice between dogma and dog whistle, they’ve chosen this year – overwhelmingly – to go with the latter.

I think there are two ways these obituaries go. Cohen more specifically talks about the short and medium-term electoral issues. While it’s very hard to see Trump winning, the Republicans will still control the House and many statehouses. They’ve baked their advantages into the cake that the GOP really isn’t “dead” electorally even in the short term outside of the White House. Even if they lose the Senate in 2016, they may well win it back in 2018. Others seem to go farther and really think the GOP is dying as a political party and a major realignment is happening. Here I am highly skeptical. At most, the GOP is “dead” in the same way that the Republicans were in 1964 or the Democratic Party was in 1988, which means not at all. For me, all that has really happened is that the base voter for the GOP has thrown off the elites. They don’t really care about corporate tax breaks. They care about their own white nationalist resentments and figured out that they don’t need Mitt Romney or another GOP elite to give it to him. They can choose their own daddies.

There are several others examples of these sorts of essays. Here’s Robert Reich’s version. Here’s Zack Blumenfeld in Paste. There are many others. None of them make much sense. All of them suffer from short-term prognostication about the current presidential race. The GOP is going nowhere.

Quality Reviewing

[ 12 ] May 4, 2016 |

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The best book reviews are as much about the review author as the book being reviewed while at the same time being fair to the book. That’s what I strive for when I review, although probably with mixed success. Anyway, I thought of this when reading Rich Yeselson’s review of the new Tamara Draut book Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America.

The ironic truth is that when labor is strong, it doesn’t need the state to intervene so much on its behalf. That’s why labor leaders in the 1950s, like Steelworkers legal counsel and later Supreme Court justice Arthur Goldberg believed, naïvely if understandably, that labor did best when the courts and legislatures left it alone to resolve differences with management. But when labor is weak, as it is now, it lacks the political and economic juice required to win its own battles, much less to pass remedial legislation on its own behalf.

EFCA was worth a try, but there was never a chance that unions were going to persuade pro-business Democratic senators in low-union-density states like Louisiana, Virginia, Nebraska, let alone Arkansas, to vote against the pathological hatred of their business donors for unions, and support a law that would have made it easier to organize. A more promising avenue to assist passage of such a bill, when political conditions allow it, would be to continue to pressure Democrats to abolish the super-majority filibuster.

Throughout the book, Draut returns to what is her greatest fear—that despite the encouraging signs that this new working class is on the move, she is not certain “whether the racial, ethnic, and gender divides that have impeded solidarity can finally be dismantled.” She notes that polling shows that the less financially secure are the most worried about the economic impact of immigration. She accuses Republicans of having “deliberately used race to pursue their broader objectives of shrinking government and deregulating the economy.”

She is right to be worried. And she wrote this book before the rise of Donald Trump. We understand now, if we didn’t before, how significant it is that the social democracies of Western Europe were constructed when their populations were almost entirely homogeneous. Today, right-wing parties in several countries, with much stronger labor movements than that of the U.S., wish to maintain nativist social welfare states and reject a broader social solidarity. In the United States, we know from the rage so many white working-class people have toward Obamacare—even some who have benefited from it!—that the historical weight of racial and ethno-nationalism is a great burden. Donald Trump’s campaign for president is an effect, not a cause, of this widespread ethno-nationalism of white workers who, justifiably, think they’ve been screwed, but see people of color not as colleagues and collaborators but as the cause of their distress. Draut reminds us time and again that a solidarity is painstakingly being built, but from a movement of the new working class that is “primarily, but not entirely, of people of color and immigrants.” It has the support of what I have called the new “laborism” of mostly white, college-educated union staffers and other urban, professional leftists, but less so of the white working class itself.

One of the biggest problems in writing on the left is what we might call the “predictive hope fallacy,” where writers so want a future (or sometimes a past) to be better than the present that sometimes the rational analysis goes out the window to write some sort of inspiring conclusion that will supposedly show how everything is going to work out. I actively tried to avoid this in Out of Sight by grounding my ideas in the proven (if limited) effectiveness of regulatory and export law and creating citizen access to already existing institutions like the Investor State Dispute Settlement courts. One can question whether my ideas are also too optimistic, but that was the goal anyway. I’m certainly not saying that Draut does that, despite the grandiose title, because I haven’t read the book yet. But Yeselson definitely doesn’t go down that road, which is why some of the left dislike him. Both Draut and Yeselson are right to think about the real limitations to working-class solidarity, when the white working class has so supported the xenophobic fascism of Trump.

In any case, a lot of chew on in the review and likely the Draut book.

There Is No Perfect Way to Design Institutions

[ 102 ] May 4, 2016 |
Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin winks as she speaks during her vice presidential debate against Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin winks as she speaks during her vice presidential debate against Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This is a very important point:

Masket’s case, in other words, is that our institutions should have protected us from this undesirable outcome. Brendan Nyhan also raised this point a while back in a series of tweets.

But I think it’s time to interrogate whether this is really true. Can we really design institutions that protect us from anti-democratic ideas?

[…]

One of the reasons advocates for human rights and other freedoms tend to also favor open political processes is that we assume good institutions will choose leaders who will protect freedom and justice. Open elections are certainly better in this regard. But they’re not a guarantee that parties and candidates who rely on bigoted appeals or talk about curtailing freedoms won’t win sometimes.

This is especially important when we talk about American institutions in historical context. I’ve often criticized the anti-partyism and incomplete notions of democracy that have shaped 20th-century party reform in the US. The old convention system, with its brokers and geographic organization, was more pluralistic — it was easier, under the pre-reform convention system, to ensure that a party nominee was acceptable to most factions within a party. As we are now learning, the current primary system allows a candidate to be nominated with a plurality of voters if no strong opponent emerges.

But here’s the thing: While these old institutions were far better at avoiding a conundrum in which a party nominates a candidate that many of its members don’t really like, they were hardly a bulwark against failures of substantive democracy. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with American history can point to at least a few instances of racism, sexism, and xenophobia.

The pluralistic structure of old-school nominations — especially in the Democratic side, where a rule stipulating that nominees had to win two-thirds of delegates held up for 100 years — protected the veto power of the states that became the Confederacy and the Jim Crow South. It wasn’t until after the elimination of the two-thirds rule that the Democratic Party began to take up the issue of civil rights.

In the wake of Trump winning people (especially dismayed Republicans) will tempted to romanticize a period in which party nominations were controlled by party elites. Some already have. But this would be misguided. Proverbial smoke-filled rooms of party elites had a distinctly flawed track record in choosing nominees, both substantively and in terms of reading the electorate. John W. Davis, one of the candidates produced by the rules Julia mentions, was not only substantively illiberal but earned a robust 29% of the popular vote. And unlike certain malfunctioned attempts by Democratic bosses to choose a nominee that I could name, at least nominating Davis didn’t literally lead to civil war. In the last decade, a non-democratic nomination process gave us “Sarah Palin, potential president should something happen to John McCain” with the enthusiastic support of party elites. I’m not sure what the basis for a high level of faith in these elites would be.

Seeing too much democracy as the problem also ignores the extent to which Republican elites made their own bed. As we’ve already discussed, Republican elites have mobilized a variety of racial and cultural resentments to generate support for candidates advancing an agenda whose key priorities notably lack support not only among the public at large but even among Republican voters. This just isn’t a recipe for a stable coalition in the long term.

In this case, the general election is likely to provide a check on the Republican primary electorate. And if it doesn’t — democracy is never a guarantee that the voters will get it right according anyone’s judgement. There’s no institutional framework that can guarantee substantively good results, not least because politics largely involves disputes over what substantively good results are.

DefeaTed

[ 101 ] May 4, 2016 |

If I may summarize this National Review article: Ted lost because Everybody Hates Cruz.

“He’s got the whole establishment p**sed off at him, so they didn’t rally to him as the alternative,” says former Virginia representative Tom Davis, who has endorsed John Kasich. “They sat on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets.” That’s because, according to the GOP aide, supporting him “would establish a new model for how ambitious young senators would behave in the Republican party that’s totally intolerable for the establishment-senator types.”

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, his final day on the campaign trail, Cruz let loose on Trump, calling him a “serial philanderer” and a “pathological liar” and concluding, “Morality doesn’t exist for him.” But the Republican establishment and the party’s voters knew that, and they chose Trump over Cruz anyway.

Indiana: “Give us Barabbas!”

Even Cruz’s donors weren’t that crazy about actually spending money on him.

Though Cruz and his allies likely would’ve decided against investing significant money in New Hampshire, it’s also true that Cruz’s allied super PACs couldn’t spend much of the cash piling up in their coffers. In a bizarre scheme, Cruz donors had placed a total of $38 million into bank accounts, but the money came with all sorts of strings attached. Millions of dollars of money “raised” by the super PACs were never released by their donors, and thus could never be spent to help Cruz.

Ironically, it was the campaign’s proven fundraising ability, much of it phantom, that put Cruz on the map when much of official Washington still considered his candidacy a joke. After he raised more money in the first quarter of 2015 than any other candidate with the exception of Jeb Bush, they had no choice but to take him seriously. The vast majority of the super PAC money, though, came from three wealthy donors whose largesse was conditional. One of them, Toby Neugebauer, an American ex-pat living in Puerto Rico, ultimately spent just $1 million of the $10 million he gave to a Cruz-backing super PAC.

Staking his political fortunes on the ultra-right from the outset of his campaign turns out to not have been the best strategy, either.

As it turned out, Cruz’s triumphs, even in friendly territory, were more the exception than the rule: There simply aren’t enough very conservative voters to make a candidate the Republican nominee on their own, even in an anti-establishment year.

And talking of extremists, I hope this story is true.

Tony Perkins, the chairman of the Family Research Council, reportedly advised Cruz to replace his white shirts and red ties with pastels in order to soften his image.

Should have tried earth tones.

The Bottom Line on The Donald and His Party

[ 185 ] May 4, 2016 |

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It didn’t come out of nowhere, no matter what conservative pundits are going to claim as they reconcile themselves with their party’s nominee:

The paranoid mendacity of Joe McCarthy, the racial pandering of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and George Bush, the jingoism and anti-intellectualism of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin — all these forces have embodied the essence of American conservative politics as it is actually practiced (rather than as conservative intellectuals like to imagine it). Trump has finally turned that which was always there against itself.

And the paradox is that he has managed to pull off the trick of downplaying or abandoning unpopular orthodox Republican ideas while being highly unpopular with the general electorate:

It is easy to find examples of parties where ideologically orthodox members felt sold out by moderate leaders who softened party platforms. Think of Tony Blair in the UK or Dwight Eisenhower in the US.

But at least those moderate leaders tend to be broadly popular with the public and to win elections. That allows those ideologically orthodox party members to get half a loaf — in the form of implementation of a watered-down version of a party platform.

Trump has somehow found a way to throw away the ideologically extreme ideas that orthodox conservatives cared about while actually making the party less popular. His nomination is a recipe for conservatives to sell out and lose anyway.

And don’t kid yourself: Trump is a terrible general election candidate. I’m not basing that on the head-to-head polls, which show Clinton thumping Trump; they generally aren’t very predictive this far out, and while they might mean more than usual this year because of how well-known both candidates have been for so long, there’s no way of knowing that ex ante. Rather, it’s that 1)the Democrats have a structural advantage in the electoral college all things being equal; 2)his unfavorable ratings are insanely high, putting him in a major hole and negating Hillary Clinton’s own high unfavorables, which should have been a major opportunity for the GOP; 3)Trump is almost certain to mobilize a high minority turnout; and 4)giving sexist boors enough rope is one thing that Clinton does really well. I would never say that it’s impossible for a major party candidate to win an election under the current partisan configuration, but Clinton is a yooooooooge favorite.

And when they finish digesting, the results will be the same …

[ 24 ] May 3, 2016 |

From the NRO, shortly before T-Hour in Indiana.

Why Cruz has failed to build on his massive Wisconsin victory will be the subject of another column. But one should note that as the media spotlight glared, Cruz’s share of the vote in national and in state polls dropped.

I can’t tell if this is a clumsy jab at The Media, or an admission that after about 30 seconds of Solid Cruz, most people would prefer to vote for a sack of cockroaches. Maybe it’s both. If The Media hadn’t given Cruz so much airtime, he wouldn’t have grossed out so many people, sounds like something a distraught neo-con would say.

For whatever reason, Republicans whose votes were potentially up for grabs have looked at both men and decisively chosen Trump. Movement conservatives and Republican activists will digest this lesson for months and years to come.

Considering that the lesson of Barack Hussein Obama 2008 is still working its way through, I think they need to eat more fiber.

But in all seriousness, I hope they’ve put up nets around NR HQ.

As of tonight, we might know whether Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential candidate. And barring unforeseeable events, it is certain that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Those are two reasons (of many, unfortunately) why — other than the first years of the Civil War, when the survival of the United States as one country was in jeopardy — there was never a darker time in American history.

Maybe insisting on the right to oppress other human beings isn’t a good idea?

No that can’t be right. Forget I said anything.

Since this is a walk down memory lane sort of evening, remember this?

Donald Trump leads the polls nationally and in most states in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. There are understandable reasons for his eminence, and he has shown impressive gut-level skill as a campaigner. But he is not deserving of conservative support in the caucuses and primaries. Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.

Oh dear. Oh deary, deary me.

If Trump were to become the president, the Republican nominee, or even a failed candidate with strong conservative support, what would that say about conservatives?

Nothing we haven’t known for years.

I’ll Wear This Badge with Pride

[ 52 ] May 3, 2016 |

Given that the other option is working on this 8000 word encyclopedia article on the history of forests, I’ve naturally spent the last hour or so arguing against Rania Khalek’s ridiculous “Hillary is worse than Trump” pablum on Twitter. In case you are curious a vote for Hillary is a vote to kill everyone outside of America. Evidently, the entire world is affected precisely the same way by the United States and thus feels the same way about the 2016 election. Good to know that the Germans, Vietnamese, Iraqis, and South Africans are all the same. Trump at least gives the world a chance! Or something. It’s that kind of evening.

Anyway, there’s one person out there who is willing to console Khalek against my meanness. Thanks to TBogg for bringing this to my attention.

Freddie doesn’t like me? Oh my! How will I sleep tonight?

“At the risk of eventually looking deeply ridiculous…”

[ 75 ] May 3, 2016 |

Fortunately, I only put my money where my blog was in one case; I’ll pay that out on Friday.

Goddamnit, Ted, you disappoint me.

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And . . . scene

[ 270 ] May 3, 2016 |

Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

This comment thread seems from a different era altogether than the one in which we live now.

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