Monthly Archives: February 2021

Quo Vadis, Republicans? Three Reads for Today, Along with Reflections

Quo Vadis, Republicans?

Tim Miller, CPAC Was the Real Republican Party All Along: It turns out that the conservative Star Wars bar was actually representative of the Republican base.

Mr. Miller hilariously reminisces about the Good Old Days at CPAC, and repents of his former belief that the Republican base was mainly made up of reasonable, moral, principled people.

Joe Walsh, It’s Time to Plant a New Flag: America needs a “radically centrist, common sense, let’s get shit done party.”

Mr. Walsh is a former Republican congressman who used to specialize in performative assholery. More recently, however, he has felt the mantle of statesmanship descend upon his narrow shoulders.

But, all that said, we must remember that even a stopped watch is right twice a day. Doesn’t mean Mr. Walsh is necessarily right. Means he might be right.

In the cited article, Walsh argues that it’s time for the respectable people to just cede the Republican brand and organization to the crazy folks. Instead, the respectable right wingers should form a new political party: “Think of a populist message with centrist policy solutions.” 

N.Y. Times, Allies of Rep. Adam Kinzinger launch new super PAC to support Republicans who have bucked Trump

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Reflections

Clear thinking begins by distinguishing among things we’re pretty sure we know, things that are reasonable working hypotheses, and things that are speculation.

Also, when dealing with a massively screwed up situation, clear thinking requires a picture of what success for our side would look like, given all the facts and circumstances.

One: Some Things We’re Pretty Sure We Know. (a) The majority of traditional Republican voters support Trump and believe the Big Election Lie, just as they believed the Big Birther Lie. Likewise, the majority of traditional Republican voters are attracted, not repelled, by all of Trump’s repellant features, and those of his most egregious supporters. (b) Traditional Republican voters are a large minority of our national voting population. (c) Some traditional Republican voters do not embrace the Big Lie, and find the repellant things about Trump repellant to them. (d) The Big Election Lie believers do not appear to want the reality-based folks to stay in the same party, and are going to do everything possible to drive them away. Given that the extremists are the clear majority of the Republican minority, they are highly likely to succeed in their effort to purify their party of anyone in touch with reality. (e) Therefore, it is highly likely that the organization that will continue to call itself the Republican Party will evolve from a large minority into a somewhat smaller minority of our voting population.

Two: Reasonable Working Hypotheses. The split between the God Emperor’s worshippers and the reality-based among the traditional Republican voters may be about two to one, it may be about 3 to 1, and it may be about 4 to 1. The 2022 election will give us a lot of useful information pertinent to this question. But we don’t know for sure right now.

On the other hand, we do know that anyone who makes blanket statements about all of the traditional Republican voters is simply wrong.

Three: What Choice Does a Reasonable Republican Politician Have? There are several, but we can be pretty sure, I think, that one of these is not to stand on principle, invite all the Trumpies to go pound sand, and just, by force of will, to bring back the old Republican Party of blessed memory (to them).

Nope. Won’t work. That dog won’t hunt.

Another dog that won’t hunt is the option just to put your head down and refuse to commit about whether you support the God Emperor.

That leaves:

  • retiring from public service,
  • turning into a pretend Trumpy yourself,
  • standing on principle, until you’re primaried out of office, and—in the meantime—being booed and hissed at every Republican gathering,
  • taking the R away from your name and substituting an I, or maybe, in some cases,
  • taking the R away from your name and substituting a D.

BTW, we already have two folks in the Senate with an I after their name. No reason why we couldn’t have some more.

As an “Independent” or a “moderate Democrat”, you could continue to represent the interests of the wealthy and of corporate America, you could actually participate in the governing process, and, in some states, you might well be a viable candidate, especially if the Trumpies select some really objectionable to run on the Republican ticket. These are not unattractive options.

Four: What Would Success on Our Side Look Like in 2022 and Going Forward, All Things Considered? I focus on the Senate. My answer is that the picture of reasonably attainable success would be a Senate with

  • about 55 or so real Democratic senators,
  • about 20, give or take, raving maniacs—or, more likely, people who do a good job pretending to be raving maniacs—who have no role in the legislative process and who spend their time speaking at rallies and appearing on extremist “news” outlets, and
  • some 25 senators who—whether they’re “Democrats,” “Independents,” or members of Joe Walsh’s new third party—are in touch with reality, represent the interests of the wealthy and corporate America, are “pro-life,” don’t want gun control, and think that fundamentalist Christian bakers should enjoy a constitutional right not to sell fancy cakes for gay weddings.

The Last Spasm of a Dying White Privileged America

Daily Kos, Mark Sumner, Republicans aren’t turning away from Trump’s Big Lie, because confronting the truth is too painful

The thrust of Mr. Sumner’s piece is that Republicans are embracing Trump out of desperation, because they have run out of governing ideas.

Mr. Sumner’s thesis is wrong. Those who remain in the Republican Party have one big idea:

America is for White People—Especially White People Who are Male, Homophobic, Misogynistic, and Embrace White Christian Nationalism

What we are witnessing right now is the last spasm of the old America.

In one way, the embrace of the Big Lie is shocking, but, in a more fundamental way, it’s much of a muchness. The same people who now embrace the Big Lie about the 2020 election also thought that the 2008 and 2012 elections were illegitimate, because, in their fevered minds, a Black man with an Hawaiian birth certificate was actually born in Kenya.

The old America went to the polls in large numbers in 2016, and in even larger numbers in 2020. But the reaction it elicited from the new America was even larger.

We may talk of gerrymandering. We may talk of $1.9 trillion relief packages. We may speak of Senate parliamentarians. But the big picture, from 30,000 feet up, is that America is changing fundamentally.

The only surprise is that the counterrevolution, though doomed by demographics, has not been even stronger and even more violent.

Things will get better. But before they get better, they will probably get a little worse.

Pity the Poor Gerrymanderer

Today’s recommended read:

Politico, How Trump upended the race to control the House through 2030: Both parties are working to make sense of Trump-era election results and how they could shape the next decade of congressional lines.

O the pain! O the suffering! O the terrible risk! As you try to gerrymander your way to victory in an environment where political realignment is increasing in volatility and unpredictability.

Coming Attractions at the Star Wars Bar

Apparently, next week, all fifty Republican senators will vote against the stimulus package, despite its popularity. See, for example, Yahoo News, Three-quarters of all voters, including 60% of Republicans, support Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan: poll.

Meanwhile, just before next week’s vote, the God Emperor plans a fire-breathing speech on Sunday at the right-wing Star Wars bar meeting in Orlando.

Anyone want to lay money on whether Orange Man will excoriate Moscow Mitch for depriving Trump’s peeps of their $1400 stimulus checks?

 

A 1/6 Commission?

Greg Sargent, How Republicans will sabotage a full accounting of Trump’s insurrection

Yesterday, we got inconsistent, incomplete, and implausible testimony about what happened at the Capitol on January 6. Today, we will get more of the same. This morning, the talking heads talk about a new 1/6 Commission, to be modeled on the 9/11 Commission. I am moved to share a few thoughts.

The Vital Importance of Marshaling the Facts

People who pay attention to the actual news have pretty much exhausted the topic of what words Trump used or didn’t use in his January 6 speech, and whether those precise words either did or didn’t amount to illegal “incitement” of a riot. The question will probably be explored again—perhaps multiple times—in potential criminal or civil litigation. That is how litigation tends to be: it tends to go over and over and over the same ground, even after any legitimate intellectual interest has been fully satisfied.

But other vital issues remain only partially explored, including

  • the extent to which Trump and his team coordinated with the rioters in advance of the riot,
  • whether someone was, or someones were, throwing monkey wrenches into law enforcement authorities’ planning for the insurrection,
  • the extent to which planning for the insurrection was botched by old fashioned screwups, and how to fix the situation, and, last but far from least,
  • a full accounting of what the God Emperor was doing or not doing during the afternoon of January 6, 2021.

Where We are Now, and Where We Need to Go

We have enough information on these questions to form good working hypotheses, and to make good guesses about where the facts will ultimately lead us. But some organization with subpoena power needs to examine every relevant piece of paper, every relevant email, and every relevant witness.

When large organizations—Fortune 500 corporations, bit universities, etc.—find themselves in a mess, they will typically retain one of the major law firms to undertake an independent investigation. Something of that nature must happen here.

Don’t Tell ‘Em, Show ‘Em—and Ixnay on the Dverbsay and the Djectivesay

Some days ago I saw Governor Kean, the chair of the 9/11 Commission, talking on the teevee about how, to get to unanimity, his Commission had to get rid of all the adjectives and adverbs. I understood his point. Some of my former litigation colleagues could not bring themselves to say that our adversaries’ facts were wrong. No, they had to be absolutely and totally and categorically wrong. Wrong. If the facts were wrong, they were wrong. Being categorically wrong didn’t make ‘em one bit wronger.

The 1/6 case against the Mango Moroni and his coconspirators needs to be made fact by fact by fact, without embellishment, until any fair minded person will, herself, draw the right conclusions.

The Credibility of the Investigation Will be Judged by the Fruits of the Investigation, Not the Identity of the Investigators

Put another way, the facts will speak for themselves.

Charlie Brown, Don’t Fall for Lucy-and-the-Football

Kevin McCarthy and Moscow Mitch are not going to wake up tomorrow morning and decide to proceed in good faith in setting up a 1/6 Commission and naming responsible Republicans to that commission. And if I am wrong, and there is a snowstorm down in hell tomorrow morning, and McCarthy and McConnell do try to act in good faith, the fair minded Republicans who get named to the Commission would not be believed by the majority of remaining Republican voters. Conclusion:

Pursuing a 1/6 Commission is a Fool’s Errand

Find another competent person and organization to marshal the relevant facts. And just let the facts speak for themselves.