The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sunday morning reading

Ah, I can finally take a few minutes to read through my backlog of articles, which have a common theme coming off this past week's events:

That, plus a tour of the Laguintas Brewery this afternoon (the one here, not the one in Petaluma), ought to keep me busy.

Fryin' Ted

Last night at the Republican National Convention, Ted Cruz took a huge risk when he essentially told people not to vote for the nominee:

The Republican convention erupted into tumult on Wednesday night as the bitter primary battle between Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz reignited unexpectedly, crushing hopes that the party could project unity.

In the most electric moment of the convention, boos and jeers broke out as it became clear that Mr. Cruz — in a prime-time address from center stage — was not going to endorse Mr. Trump. It was a pointed snub on the eve of Mr. Trump’s formal acceptance speech.

As hundreds of delegates chanted “Vote for Trump!” and “Say it!” Mr. Cruz tried to dismiss the outburst as “enthusiasm of the New York delegation” — only to have Mr. Trump himself suddenly appear in the back of the convention hall. Virtually every head in the room seemed to turn from Mr. Cruz to Mr. Trump, who was stone-faced and clearly angry as he egged on delegates by pumping his fist.

Mr. Cruz was all but drowned out as he asked for God’s blessing on the country and left the stage, while security personnel escorted his wife, Heidi, out of the hall. One delegate yelled “Goldman Sachs!” at her — a reference to the company that has employed her, a job that Mr. Trump attacked during the primaries.

Pundits are split about how this happened and what it means. Josh Marshall pulls out "Trump's Razor:"

"Ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts."

I tried, as events unfolded tonight, to piece together in the two posts below just what happened tonight and how. At first I was certain that Ted Cruz had executed an excruciating double cross of Donald Trump, a thoroughly disreputable and dangerous man, who had also humiliated Cruz, defamed his father and denigrated his wife. We now have two contending theories. The first: by whatever means, the Trump camp allowed Cruz, under their very noses, to blow up their convention through a feat of staggering, almost incomprehensible incompetence. Somehow, with so much at stake, they didn't even read the speech. The second: the Trump campaign knowingly allowed Cruz to light his bomb and then egged the conventioneers on to an outraged chorus of boos imagining that Cruz would be humiliated and that laying bare the GOP's protracted civil war before millions would in fact 'unify the party.'

Either scenario, both defying any conventional credibility, could plausibly emerge from that toxic soup.

Indeed, while this conflagration was erupting in Cleveland another bomb, which Trump himself had lit earlier in the day, was going off on the pages of The New York Times. One can debate whether it is wise or sensible for the United States to guarantee the independence of small states on the periphery of Russia which had for centuries been either within the Russian domain or inside its sphere of influence. But we have. In his comments to the Times, Trump treated the matter like a real estate goon shaking down a distressed landlord to make an easy buck.

Brian Beutler (and others) think Cruz brilliantly stomped on Trump:

Cruz seemed determined to use his moment in the spotlight to maximize the size of Trump’s defeat. If it pays off, Cruz will cement his status as the one Republican 2016 candidate who practices politics with an eye toward the horizon, and the Republican in politics most willing to elevate personal ambition above party interest–a useful if not heroic trait at a time when Republican interests and Trump’s are converging. He will spend the ensuing years as the presumptive frontrunner in the 2020 primary. But it will only work if Democrats humiliate Trump this fall.

He told 20 million voters, disproportionately Republican, they don’t need to vote for Trump if they don’t want to; he stabbed Donald Trump in the front. And in the final analysis, he probably made the safe bet, too.

Jeet Heer thinks Cruz made a huge mistake:

In terms of preserving his honor, Cruz did the right thing. Trump, after all, was the man who created the slur “Lyin’ Ted,” who insulted the physical appearance of Cruz’s wife, and who slyly suggested that Cruz’s father was involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination. How could anyone keep their honor and endorse someone who had done all that?

But in terms of his long-term political ambitions, Cruz made a grievous mistake. Political parties are built on loyalty. You’re supposed to stick with your party-mates whether you disagree with them or not. ...

Cruz’s cool rejection of Trump calls to mind the crisis that engulfed the Republican Party in 1964, when Barry Goldwater’s nomination polarized the party. Some of Goldwater’s rivals kept a distance, notably Nelson Rockefeller who was roundly booed during the 1964 convention not just for his reluctance to fall in line, but for his criticism of groups like the John Birch Society.

Nixon took a different tack than Rockefeller. Privately, he thought that Goldwater was a disaster for the party. But in public, Nixon was a good soldier. He endorsed Goldwater, and diligently campaigned all over the country, trying to shore of down-ballot candidates threatened by the electoral tidal wave that crushed the Republican Party that year.

Nixon’s loyalty wasn’t forgotten; party members remembered his service.

James Fallows points out that, if Trump can't manage the speaking order at a convention where he's the star, he's unlikely to manage the country:

Again the theme of recent posts has been: conventions and national campaigns don’t “matter” in any profound sense (although they can make a difference in whether you get elected). But if you can’t manage a four-day convention, let alone a four-month national campaign, you’re facing steep odds in managing a very complex national government for four or eight years.

And — except for the effective Mike Pence speech, which began near the end of the 10pm-11pm EDT prime time bloc — this was another chaotically managed convention night. The Skyped-in-looking 90-second video by Marco Rubio was the minor indication. The cold, outright subversion by Ted Cruz — the man whose wife’s looks Trump had mocked, the man whose father Trump had accused of involvement in the JFK killing — was unlike anything on a national campaign stage in modern times.

We'll see what more hits the fan tonight when Trump formally accepts the Republican nomination. What times we live in.

History

Forty-seven years, almost to the day, after we put a man on the moon, a major political party nominated Donald Trump for the office of President.

Two small illustrations of the choice we face November 8th: the Clinton campaign yesterday posted a comparison of Trump's resume and Clinton's. ("1997: Trump ponders Miss Universe swimsuit sizes. Hillary gets health insurance for 8 million kids.") And Clinton staffers posted a video in which they listed all 5,500 lawsuits in which Trump is a party—which took almost four hours.

In related news, New Zealand is still offering Skilled Migrant Visas...

So much to read after work today

From AVWeb: one of the world's two remaining B-29 Superfortresses flew for the first time this weekend after being grounded for more than 60 years.

From CityLab: Nice's surveillance network is extensive—possibly too extensive to do any good.

From New Republic:

Over in the Atlantic, James Fallows just adds it to the list of things historians will probably wonder about (at #44) and why it matters (#45).

Cranky Flier reports on a different batch of corruption after United Airlines released documents showing how its bid in Newark, N.J., for a new hangar went south. Literally.

At New York Magazine, Andrew Sullivan live-blogged day 1 of the Republican National Convention.

At The New Yorker, Jane Mayer talked with Tony Schwartz, the man who wrote Trump's Art of the Deal.

And here at home, from Crain's Chicago Business, how former governor Jim Edgar has gone from coaching current governor Bruce Rauner gently to calling him out in public.

 

 

The Sociopath

Tony Schwartz, who ghost-wrote Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal, has broken his silence about the experience:

Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. ... It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

It's worth reading this article, since it discusses in detail the man who one of our two main political parties is about to nominate for President of the United States.

 

Too many browser windows open at work

Because I need to read all of these and have to do my actual job first:

I'll get to these this evening. I hope.

What happens November 9th?

Brian Beutler says Trump poses an "invisible danger to our democracy:"

In a country divided such as ours is, an election can help break impasses by providing reasonably clear guidance on what changes the majority of people want to make. But the strangeness of Trump’s campaign is sidelining that guidance. Rather than serving as an exponent of white working-class interests, advancing a policy agenda that would materially benefit his supporters, Trump serves merely as their id.

This has made collateral damage out of ideology. Not since 2000 has a U.S. election been so untethered from substantive questions about how to make people more satisfied with the ways the government serves them. Trump has made this election a referendum on our national identity—are we the kind of country that turns to a demagogue when enough people are frustrated?—rather than on our policy status quo. Once that identity issue is resolved, the question of what comes next won’t have a clear answer.

Even a happy ending to this election—a Trump defeat—will leave our governing institutions paralyzed or powerless to respond to the signals voters will have sent. If the public is already worryingly disaffected by gridlock and dysfunction in government, this election promises to worsen the trend.

And just today, he and Justice Ginsburg got into a spat. Awesome.

Partial agreement with Scott Adams

Scott Adams believes Donald Trump will be the next president, because of Trump's ability to persuade people. Adams claims not to want this outcome, but all evidence suggests he supports Trump more than he's letting on. So I was surprised to agree with parts of Adams' analysis of James Comey's presser Tuesday:

The folks who support Clinton are sheepishly relieved and keeping their heads down. But the anti-Clinton people think the government is totally broken and the system is rigged. That’s an enormous credibility problem.

But what was the alternative?

The alternative was the head of the FBI deciding for the the people of the United States who would be their next president. A criminal indictment against Clinton probably would have cost her the election.

How credible would a future President Trump be if he won the election by the FBI’s actions instead of the vote of the public? That would be the worst case scenario even if you are a Trump supporter. The public would never accept the result as credible.

Comey might have saved the country. He sacrificed his reputation and his career to keep the nation’s government credible. 

It was the right decision. 

I think Comey made the right call too. I disagree with Adams, however, that the FBI's recommendation was "absurd." But that's another post.

You're stuck with him now

Jeet Heer reminds Republicans that Donald Trump isn't going to disappear on November 9th:

[W]ill Trump really cease to matter in November? After all, no human being loves the spotlight more, and he’s chased after media attention since he was a young man. Being the nominee of a major party is a dream job for him, because it means people will hang on his every word. Even if he loses badly in November, Trump will likely cling to his status as the strangest “party elder” ever—and convert it into new, attention-grabbing and lucrative projects. He has indicated, for one thing, that he wants to monetize his ability to generate attention with his controversial views by creating Trump TV (whatever the election results). Don’t scoff: Sarah Palin was number two on a losing ticket in 2008 and embarrassed herself spectacularly in the process, but she still commanded millions of followers when the election was over—enough, in fact, that she became a precursor to Trump in her merger of politics and reality shows, as well as one of his key surrogates.

Donald Trump will not go gentle into that good night. Nor will he curse the dying of the light. Instead he’ll keep pursuing the klieg lights of the media circus, and through his televised antics continue to dominate the political conversation on the Republican side. He’ll be helped by his unusually loyal and rabid fan base. As Trump rightly said, even shooting someone in broad daylight on 5th Avenue wouldn’t warn them away. In order to maintain that fan base, Trump is, based on past precedent, likely to nurture a stabbed-in-the-back myth against the Republican and media “elites” if he loses.

It looks less and less likely he'll actually win the election, but he'll be around for many years poisoning the debate. Good work, Republicans.

The most corrupt presidential candidate ever

You guessed it:

Trump’s complete lack of experience in public office ought to provide him with the opportunity, which most novice candidates have, for a clean-slate résumé. Instead, he is already waist-deep in stench. Trump has not merely intermingled campaigning with his business interests; the two are one and the same. His entire political career seems to be an outgrowth of his efforts to build his personal brand, which Trump has endlessly used the campaign as a platform to promote. He has devoted speeches to attacking the judge in the fraud suit against his “university,” instructed surrogates to do the same, and promised to relaunch the enterprise if elected. He celebratedthe Brexit vote, which drove down the value of the pound, as helpful for driving visitors to his Scottish golf course. This sort of behavior is not anappearance of a conflict of interest but the definition of one.

Trump appears to be genuinely unaware, even at the conceptual level, that his business interests might complicate his ability to govern in the public interest. During the primary, when a debate moderator asked if he would put his holdings in a blind trust, Trump comically replied that he would, while defining a “blind trust” to mean his children would run his business for him, which is the opposite of a blind trust. Even if Trump wanted to distance himself from his business interests, the nature of his holdings would make it virtually impossible, as The Wall Street Journal explains today. A traditionally rich person could place their wealth in third-party hands without knowing what they were invested in; Trump’s business is his personal brand, making divestment impossible.

Fortunately, despite most pro-Trump voters not caring one way or the other about his corruption, millions of unaffiliated voters do. Here's hoping they care enough.