Thursday, March 03, 2016

The dying throes of the GOP establishment

When all else fails, send in ... Mitt Romney.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will deliver a scorching indictment of Donald Trump on Thursday, calling the candidate a “phony” and a “fraud” who’d threaten America’s future. 
Romney is due to speak Thursday in Utah at the Hinckley Institute of Politics Forum on the state of the 2016 presidential race. Already a vocal critic of Trump, excerpts released ahead of the speech show Romney will go a step further in his attacks on the Republican frontrunner.

Gravitas.  I have great confidence that Trumpers and Trumpettes alike will respond favorably to the slings and arrows being slung and shot by the Man of 47% of The People.

Okay, moneymen: now it's your turn.

Wall Street is getting ready to go nuclear on Donald Trump. 
Terrified that the reality TV star could run away with the Republican nomination and bring his brand of anti-immigrant, protectionist populism to the White House, some top financiers are writing big checks to fund an effort to deny Trump a majority of delegates to the GOP convention. 
The effort is centered on the recently formed Our Principles PAC, the latest big-money group airing anti-Trump ads, which is run by GOP strategist Katie Packer, deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney in 2012. 
The group, initially funded by $3 million from Marlene Ricketts, wife of billionaire T.D. Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, wants to saturate the expensive Florida airwaves ahead of the state’s March 15 primary with hopes of denying Trump a victory that could crush the hopes of home state Sen. Marco Rubio. 
A conference call on Tuesday to solicit donors for the group included Paul Singer, billionaire founder of hedge fund Elliott Management; Hewlett Packard President and CEO Meg Whitman; and Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, one of Joe and Marlene Ricketts’ three sons. Wealthy Illinois businessman Richard Uihlein is also expected to help fund the effort. Jim Francis, a big GOP donor and bundler from Texas, was also on the phone call on Tuesday.

Just remember their names.  They are the poster children for a post-Citizens United world gone horribly wrong (in their opinion).  Whoever thought buying politicians would be so difficult?

You just can't hire good help.

This person said Singer, who is worth close to $2 billion, is fully dedicated to making sure the group has all the funds it needs to inundate the airwaves in Florida and other states viewed as not entirely friendly to Trump, a group that includes Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, Wisconsin and other states in the Northeast and West. Ohio could join the list if Trump moves ahead of the state’s governor, John Kasich, in the polls. 
“The money is not going to be a problem. We will raise what we need to do what we need to do,” the person close to the new anti-Trump PAC said. “Yes, there are people who are skeptical, but there are just as many ready to write big checks. The question is only whether Trump truly is really Teflon.” 
The theory, this person said, is that voters are still largely unaware of the full case against Trump. “We have not seen how he holds up to real sustained attacks over the KKK and David Duke stuff, over Trump University, over Trump Mortgage. People don’t really know about that stuff. We are about to find out what happens when they find out about it.”

Good luck ... I guess.  It's not personal; it's strictly business.

The pitch to Wall Street titans and other CEOs is that a President Trump would be disastrous for markets and the economy. Many economists say that if the U.S. were to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants in a single year, the immediate hit to gross domestic product would lead to a depression. And slapping massive tariffs on goods from Mexico and China could dramatically increase prices for U.S. consumers and create destabilizing trade wars. “The most important thing about Trump is, he is completely unpredictable and volatile, and the one thing business needs is predictability,” Packer said. 
But prosecuting that case will take tens of millions of dollars spread across multiple states. 
And many Wall Street donors are already burned out after pumping over $100 million to Jeb Bush and his Right to Rise super PAC with nothing to show for it. Wall Street’s support is also splintered among candidates at the moment. Singer is backing Rubio. Financiers Stanley Druckenmiller and Ken Langone are backing Kasich. And many senior executives say trying to stop Trump now is a foolish crusade that will wind up burning cash with nothing to show for it.

Buyer's remorse on Jeb!  Who would have ever believed?

The one thing most of Wall Street agrees on at this point is that Trump’s grasp of economic policy is weak at best. And should he manage to defeat likely Democratic nominee Clinton in the fall, already turbulent markets could go completely haywire.
“[Trump] has a kindergarten view of economics. The man says China is manipulating currency. China is in the biggest currency run in history, they’re losing $100 billion a month,” Druckenmiller said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday morning. “He doesn’t know what he is talking about. The stuff that comes out his mouth just astonishes me.” 
Other Wall Street analysts say the biggest risk from Trump is that no one really knows what his core beliefs really are. And it is not clear what kind of people he might appoint to critical jobs in his administration. Trump thus far has floated only billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn as a possible economic adviser in his administration.

Someone buy these suits a copy of Idiocracy, for crine out loud.

It's not going to work, but it will be most amusing to watch them try.  Here is your buried lede:

That leaves many Wall Street Republicans with the same conundrum as naional party leaders: Figure out a way to make peace with Trump, pray for an independent bid by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg or quietly hope Clinton wins the general election in November. 
Clinton has many supporters on Wall Street — something that has complicated her primary campaign against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — and plenty of Republicans who don’t like her would still prefer her to Trump. “I could never support Hillary,” the Wall Street executive who raised money for Bush said. “But plenty of my friends will just hold their nose and vote for her.”

Ahahahahaha.  And people say that Democrats and Republicans aren't alike.

D for Drumpf Day, D for Debate Night in Detroit

Thanks to John Oliver for the original German.  And mad props to Dr. Ben Carson, who finally woke up and smelled the coffee.  It must have been something that God Ted Cruz put on his heart.

The Republican presidential candidates come to Detroit to debate Thursday night at the Fox Theatre with businessman Donald Trump maintaining a 10-point lead on his closest competitors in Michigan's March 8 primary in a new poll commissioned by the Free Press and other media outlets.

Trump is at 29%, Cruz 19%, Rubio 18%, Kasich at 8 and Carson at 7.  18% of Wolverine State GOPers are still undecided.  That allows for a lot of assignment, and reassignment, of loyalties.

The debate will turn the political spotlight squarely on Michigan, which with its 59 delegates to award, is the biggest prize among states voting March 8. Others include Hawaii, Idaho and Mississippi. Four other states, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine, have nominating contests in the meantime, on Saturday.

I wonder if the topic of the water in Flint will come up.

In many ways, Detroit represents the state's biggest comeback while Flint reflects its largest setback. 
Expect GOP candidates to credit Republican Gov. Rick Snyder with Detroit's successes while the Democrats will continue to criticize him for his handling of the Flint water crisis. 
"I think Detroit exemplifies the best of what our state has to offer at every level," said Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel.

Most of the carping I've seen from conservatives about Detroit has been about how horrible it is and how Democrats were to blame for it, so this is a refreshing change of pace at the very least.  It is also disaster capitalism at its very finest.  Leave it to the spin doctors to demonstrate the contrast.

Karl Rove, senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to former President George W. Bush, said that while Detroit may not be a huge part of the GOP debate, it showcases Republican success. 
"I'm not sure it will be a major point, but I think it could be a point," Rove said. "There will also be probably the opportunity to point out that it's also a sign of a Democratic failure that was rescued by Republicans, because Detroit has had a Democrat mayor and a Democrat council and a Democrat city government for literally decades." 
Rove and Jim Messina, former campaign manager to President Barack Obama, are slated to speak at Michigan Political Leadership Program events early next month. 
Messina said it wouldn't work for Republicans to claim Detroit as a victory. They opposed things like the auto bailout and the Affordable Care Act — actions from President Barack Obama that helped the city. In other words, they have a deeper problem. 
"They opposed everything that worked in Detroit," Messina said.

Much more at that link about Michigan, Detroit, and Flint, where the Dems will debate Sunday.  Fox is moderating tonight's affair; you remember what happened the last time.

In the first Fox News debate, he seethed at her. Before the second debate began, he walked
But on Thursday night, Donald J. Trump and Megyn Kelly will be back on stage together for the 11th Republican presidential debate, and Fox’s third of the primary season. 
As the front-runner for the nomination and coming off a string of Super Tuesday wins, Mr. Trump will be at center stage, fending off attacks from his remaining rivals and questions from what could be fairly described as his least favorite moderating team.

Don't expect anybody to be on their best behavior (as usual).

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Texas results only slightly surprising

This is the kind of scrum I avoided last Thursday evening, and not just because Ted Cruz is at the epicenter.

We won't go long or big here, as Charles Kuffner has posted the best of this work and you have the AP helping the Chronicle with the numbers.

-- Cruz emerged as the only option to Trumpf for the GOP nomination.  His big win here and in Oklahoma leaves him as the last man standing against a perceived November apocalypse, and the Pachyderms are besides themselves with anguish about it.

In the words of Billy Joel: go on, cry in your coffee but don't come bitchin' to me.

-- Hillary Clinton won big in Texas and everywhere else she expected to, with Massachusetts qualifying as a minor upset for her.  Bernie Sanders won enough states -- Colorado, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and his front-door Vermont -- to justifying staying in the race a while longer.  There's a Democratic debate this Sunday evening in Flint, Michigan (and the GOPers face off tomorrow night; it's a homecoming for Dr. Ben Carson).  Michigan votes on Tuesday March 8, a week from yesterday.  If Sanders can win the Wolverine State, he has justification to fight on to Super Tuesday II on March 15.  Black voters hold his fate.

In review of some of the contested races around the state and county...

-- The Texas Railroad Commission candidates who qualified for their primary runoff elections on May 24th are good ol' Grady Yarbrough (D), Cody Garrett (D), Wayne Christian (R), and Gary Gates (R).  Lon Burnham, the most qualified and most progressive, finished third in a weak field.  Kuff thinks it's all about the money he didn't raise, but IMO Burnham shouldn't have aligned himself with Wendy Davis and Bill White.  Texas Democratic voters always go for the easiest -- and least qualified -- name in this race for some ignorant reason.

Your best option in November is Martina Salinas.

-- There will be a statehouse runoff in HD-139 (incumbent Sylvester Turner is now mayor of Houston) and perceived best candidate Randy Bates missed it.  He'll watch Kimberly Willis and former city council member Jarvis Johnson go at it at the end of May.  Convicted ambulance chaser Rep. Ron Reynolds was returned to Austin will have to face Angelique Bartholomew in May, with Steve Brown well behind, in the night's SMDH result.

Speaker Joe Straus survived his primary and his right-hand man (not right enough for Midland oilman Tim Dunn, Empower Texas, and the Anybody but Straus Caucus, but that's a digression) Byron Cook did likewise.  We can count these as wins for the good guys, folks.  In bad news for the speaker, Rep. Debbie "Public Education is the Pit of Hell" Riddle was upset in her primary.  Her successor is probably worse, however, especially since she called Riddle part of the 'liberal establishment'.

Gilberto Hinojosa's daughter won the Democratic primary to succeed the retiring Elliot Naishtat, the most liberal Texas House representative after Burnham was defeated a couple of years ago.  This is probably the worst thing that Austin Democrats could have done, choosing nepotism over good governance.  If Noah Horwitz supports them -- he's been a lackey for the Hinojosas for some time now -- you can bet she's a lousy Clinton-wing Democrat.  Nothing personifies the creeping conservative failings of the Texas Democratic Party more than this race.

San Antonio Dems also re-elected the most conservative option in their state Senate tilt.  See you down the round, TMF.

-- Ed Gonzalez will run off with Jerome Moore for Harris County sheriff.  Kim Ogg vanquished Morris Overstreet and Lloyd Oliver in the Harris County DA's contest without a runoff, and Ann Harris Bennett swamped Brandon Dudley for tax assessor/collector/voter registrar in a poor showing for challengers in those last two races.  The black turnout dynamic that propelled Hillary Clinton's big wins in Texas, throughout the South, and well down the ballot here was nowhere to be seen in the DA's race.  Ogg had a superior ground game while Overstreet apparently relied on George Soros' mailers.  Money ain't everything, y'all.

Likewise, Adrian Garcia's bad loss and Gonzalez's failing to clear a runoff signal lame turnout for Harris County Latin@s.  Only a Spanish surname paired with Clinton's -- be it Castro or Perez or some other -- saves downballot Texas Dems in November.

-- Harris County judicial races have a few runoffs.  Just a couple I'll mention today: craptastic Judge Elaine Palmer got pushed into a showdown with Joann Storey in the 215th District Court race.  And Democrat-turned-Republican Nile Copeland didn't come close in his bid for the 178th, finishing third with less than 19% of the vote.

Somebody picked the wrong year to start sniffing glue.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Super Tuesday Toons and updates

"Turnout sharply up for Republicans in Harris County; down for Democrats"

After Juan Williams Criticizes Trump’s KKK Comments, Fox Hosts Freak Out

“I don’t think you can excuse this kind of behavior where you just conveniently close your eyes,” Williams, who is African American, said. “In this moment, right before the SEC primary, he finds it convenient not to disavow.” 
“It has particular power because so much of the anger that Donald Trump is talking about giving voice to is really anger in sort of a white populist movement,” Williams continued. 
Before he even finished speaking, Williams was upbraided by his four white co-hosts.
“He disavowed him on Twitter!” Eric Bolling protested. 
“Juan, you are not paying attention to the facts,” Kimberly Guilfoyle said. 
The longest lecture came from Melissa Frances, who blamed the media for badgering Trump. “Now he’s been badgered repeatedly on the same front,” she said. “At the beginning of that interview we saw he said ‘I don’t support David Duke. No, no, no.’ And they kept asking him the question until they said something that can kind of be used.”

"Marco Rubio can still beat Trump, no matter what happens on Super Tuesday"

No, I don't believe so.  Just a feeling.

-- This Dump Hillary anti-establishment uprising is too little, too late.

-- Though there remain hidden time-bomblets in her email affair.

The State Department said that although there were no additional "top secret" upgrades in (yesterday)'s release, two emails had to be withheld. One was an exchange with President Obama, which is sealed until a later date under rules governing presidential records, and the other was an unclassified message that was withheld at the request of a law enforcement agency. The State Department would not comment further on the content of that message. 

-- Still... can she deal Sanders the coup d'grace today?  I think he staggers on another week at least; he raised over $40 million this month from his small donor base, six of it yesterday.

-- Sanders supporters are already discussing openly on Democratic fora (it used to be verboten and grounds for banishment at the one linked) their intentions of going Green in November.

-- Here are the best video snippets of yesterday's choke-slam of a Time photographer by (allegedly) a Secret Service agent at a Trump rally.

-- The latest Clinton VP chatter has Labor Secretary Tom Perez as a legitimate candidate.

More after the polls close... as soon as #FireStanStanart gets the EV up.