A survey of Trump’s Illinois delegates

pocA few weeks ago I speculated that the Trump campaign would fail to submit a full slate of delegates for the Republican primary in Illinois. On Monday, he beat the odds and delivered a complete application…sorta.

Judging from the ragtag and slightly bizarre collection of delegates the campaign has designated, his signatures might warrant scrutiny. However, if his petitions stand up to review then this process deserves serious attention from political researchers. What Trump has accomplished here is remarkable in ways that extend far beyond his own campaign. Say what you want about the man and his message (Lord knows I have and I will), but this may prove to be a watershed moment in the democratization of our system and the expansion of The Politics of Crazy.

A little background might be helpful. In Illinois, the candidates themselves are not on the primary ballot. Primary voters in each of Illinois’ Congressional Districts select three delegates who are individually committed to each candidate. In order to be represented, a candidate must recruit three delegates who will obtain the requisite number of qualified signatures in their Congressional District to appear on the ballot. Highest vote earners in each district will become delegates to the national convention.

This is no simple feat. As the Republican field has grown in recent years to include political entertainers and assorted nutjobs, candidates regularly fail to appear on the ballot here. The filing deadline is today and only Bush, Cruz and Trump have submitted a full slate.

In practical terms, Illinois’ petition structure forces national campaigns to work hard early to obtain support from local political figures all over the state. Candidates for County Board, the State Assembly or other state and local offices already have teams at the precinct level (like yours truly) dividing up the work of petitioning. State and local politicos agree to sponsor a Presidential candidate’s petition effort in return for a deeply coveted opportunity to attend the national convention as a delegate.

That’s the model followed by all of the other Republican campaigns in this cycle. Trump was not able to exploit this well-worn route. Frequent (if half-hearted) appeals from local GOP leadership for someone to step up and assist with signature collection for Trump failed entirely. No one with any political heft whatsoever was willing to be associated with the guy.

Companies will help with this process for a modest fee, but paid petition circulators in Illinois have a miserable track record of reliability. It isn’t clear yet whether the Trump campaign used paid circulators, but given the absence of any grassroots support and the…let’s call it “unconventional” nature of the delegates that emerged, it seems likely that at least some of the work, especially in Chicago, was paid. Nevertheless, even a commercial petition gatherer probably couldn’t have helped the campaign get over the hump on a statewide basis in such a short period.

True to form, proposed delegates from the other campaigns are mostly public or semi-public figures, easy to identify. My state senator is a delegate for Jeb Bush. My state rep is a delegate for Christie. Not all of the delegates are elected officials, but they are generally prominent local political figures.

Then, there’s Trump’s list.

Only two of Trump’s 54 delegates are elected officials. One is the mayor of a single-stoplight country town. The other, his state campaign chair, sits on a downstate community college board. There are also two figures from the financial community in Chicago, including a former Board of Exchange President. Then it gets interesting.

If Trump wins Illinois he’ll be sending to the RNC a food service manager from a juvenile detention center, a daycare worker from a Christian School, an unemployed paralegal, a grocery store warehouse manager, one brave advocate for urban chicken farming, a dog breeder, and a guy who runs a bait shop. Elsewhere on the slate, Barbara Kois is a minor Christian author whose blog posts are right in line with the hysteria you’d expect from a Trump voter. Nabi Fakruddin is a low-level suburban politico whose claim to fame is being removed from a local transit board position for “double-dipping.” Bob Bednar ran unsuccessfully to head the GOP in Lake County. He’s about as close as you’ll get in that bunch to an active political figure.

About half of his delegates are more or less unidentifiable from any low-level search beyond the voter rolls. There’s one, a Raja Sadia, who has no online footprint of any kind. Needless to say, that is highly unusual for potential convention delegates.

One possible explanation for this strange delegate slate is that the campaign paid someone to run the process. These folks do generally fit the profile of paid petition circulators. The problem with that hypothesis is that the ones who can be identified appear to be honest to goodness Trumpists.

Another explanation seems more credible, though it is also remarkable and perhaps disturbing. In The Politics of Crazy, I explained that a broad devolution of power was weakening our central institutions in ways we never anticipated. Everyone loves democracy, but we are beginning to understand that democracy without effective, responsible institutions is a dangerous mess.

Figures on the left in particular often complain about low levels of political participation and influence by the poor and marginalized in our society. Well, the times, they are a changin.’ If Trump’s petitions are legitimate and these really are qualified delegates, then his campaign has accomplished a feat of democratic activism on a historic scale. Nursery workers and warehouse foremen with no history of political involvement may be on their way to a national convention – and they are not Sanders’ delegates.

The left worries about the alienation of low income and blue-collar voters from the political process. They should be careful what they wish for. The largest movement of grassroots activism by low-income voters in our history is threatening to move a uniquely American brand of Fascism into the political mainstream.

Illinois has one of the most country’s most rigorous standards for ballot qualification. If these petitions prove to be legit, then a ragtag collection of political weirdos just jumped that impressive firewall. We are running out of time to adapt to the demands of decentralization. The Politics of Crazy is toppling dominoes at an impressive pace. Trump may be building a gaudy high-rise over the ruins of our democracy.

***

Quick postscript after the filing deadline. This time around candidates seem to have clued into the complexity of ballot access in Illinois and gotten the job done. Prior to any petition challenges, only four campaigns failed to submit a full slate of 54 delegates for the Illinois primary:

Paul, 44 delegates
Santorum, 11
Huckabee, 2
Gilmore, 1

Still, no one’s delegates are more consistently obscure/odd as the Trump slate.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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248 comments on “A survey of Trump’s Illinois delegates
  1. MassDem says:

    While I’m on the subject of Midwestern cities, can we as a society just retire the tired trope of Chicago as murder capital of the US? According to heyjackass.com (the authority as I understand), there were 502 total homicides in Chicago last year, 443 with a gun. That’s in a population of just over 2.7 million. Chicago doesn’t crack the top 30 murder capitals in 2015:

    http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/top-lists/highest-murder-rate-cities/

    It doesn’t even make the list of the 100 most dangerous cities in the us:

    http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/neighborhoods/crime-rates/top100dangerous/

    So why the hyper-focus on Chicago? Oh, yeah….

    • johngalt says:

      Agreed about the suspicious focus on Chicago (I think it has as much to do with the attempted gun ban there as Obama), but to put these numbers in perspective there were just 83 murders in London (2014), a city with 9 million residents, making Chicago’s murder rate 20 times higher. (For the record, the highest murder rates of major U.S. cities are St. Louis and Detroit, at over 50 times that of London.)

      • 1mime says:

        Their problem (St.Louis & Detroit) is they just don’t have enough guns……………

      • 1mime says:

        I wonder if the extensive installation of cameras in London has had a major impact on gun violence or if it is due to other factors? An interesting aside, I have read that London is the top city of choice in the world to live in.

    • p says:

      Ha Chris, From texas, guess we know who you are supporting. The fact that you are a life long GOPPer, says it all. I find it absurd to be a party loyalist. For someone to never change their mind is insanity. Do you still wear the same brand of clothes, eat the same food, drive the same model car, live in one style house, etc… That is what a party loyalist does. INSANITY!!!!!!!! GO TRUMP

  2. MassDem says:

    Excellent article in Alternet today about social class in Cleveland. Helps to keep things in perspective.

    http://www.alternet.org/culture/how-tamir-rice-made-it-impossible-joke-about-cleveland-anymore

    • 1mime says:

      I’ve always felt that comedians are really deadly serious people who see life fully and can only accept this reality through humor. Wonderful, honest writing by Chu. Thanks for posting the link, MassDem. This is a story that needs to be on the front page of every major newspaper and is worthy of publication in The Atlantic and other serious journals. Few of us have the courage to be this honest. Fewer of us have had to live this life. Most of us feel impotent about making change happen for people stuck in this situation. As Lifer stated, you retreat to your well run enclaves and go on with your life.

      There really are two Americas.

  3. Tuttabella says:

    If the Democrats lose the general election it will be due to complacency and from not.taking these disenfranchised people.seriously. Say what you will about.this.group (paranoid, over the top, etc), one.thing about them is that they take the Democrats, Mrs.Clinton, and even President Obama very seriously and as such, see them as opponents worthy of their time and energy who must be defeated. Because of their religious upbringing, these groups tend to see the world as a battle between good and evil, with evil a worthy opponent with the potential to be as powerful as good, whereas Democrats see the gray areas but underestimate their opponents’ power as a result, and their own power becomes diluted. Perhaps it would help if Democrats used metaphor to reach out to these groups, who ironically are notorious for being literalists when in fact they seem to live according to the metaphor of good.versus evil, in almost poetic terms.

    • 1mime says:

      Something to ponder:

      Democrats are losing the low-income White voter because of a failure to understand that their social concerns trump their economic situation. Despite the fact that Democrats actively work for: minimum wage increases; affordable, accessible health care; education; workplace safety; safety nets for the old and disabled; protection of the environment; greater voting access; jobs re-training for displaced workers; equality across the board; women’s choice; reduced cost of higher education….issues relevant to the working class.

      Republicans, on the other hand, pick up this low income White voter group not “because” their policies or their politics demonstrate any real, serious interest or concrete initiatives that benefit this voter’s fundamental economic needs. Instead, they are working the fear and anger message.

      This poses an interesting political and social problem because one thing is certain – Republicans have no interest in helping these people at the expense of their primary constituency, the wealthy. What they do want are their votes for their short term goal of recapturing the Presidency and expanding their majorities in Congress.

      What then? When are people like the 62 year old machinist Viking cited, going to connect the dots? Is there really any rational approach that would convince this voter class that their interests are better served by supporting the Democratic Party? Interestingly, a talk tv commentator noted that there are many “cross-over” supporters between Trump and Sanders…the commonality, I presume, being the appeal to the working man. I would certainly trust a President Sanders to deliver on his rhetoric more so than any of the Republican candidates.

      • 1mime says:

        I like Sanders but my choice is Hillary. However, I will support whoever the Democratic nominee for President is. There is much to like about Bernie. Interesting survey, even more interesting consistency in their election picks.

      • piranha says:

        @vikinghou — I like Sanders a lot, and by all means, may inspiration fly from WIU’s mock election to voters’ ballot-punching fingers, but that “100%” accuracy comes from just 4 mock elections: 1975, 1987, 2007, and 2011. 😉 And the only thing they’ve been accurate on is that they did pick the eventual President correctly. IIRC sensible and observant people manage that as well a year out, and in fact the American public has correctly picked the popular vote winner since 1996. WIU were off significantly on electoral votes in 2011 (I’d love to have seen the Green party end up with 109 electoral votes). They picked Rudy Giuliani as the Republican nominee in 2007, and again the electoral votes weren’t even close. Their primary numbers are also mostly not close. So yeah, not taking this as my crystal ball.

  4. 1mime says:

    This NYT article explains how uneasy the leadership in the GOP are – with good reason. Lifer admonishes that those of us who have advocated for greater participation by rank and file Americans in the political process may be unhappy with what we get…..That may be true, but what’s different? Only the devil we know?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/us/politics/for-republicans-mounting-fears-of-lasting-split.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=MostPopularFB&version=Full&region=Marginalia&src=me&pgtype=article

    • vikinghou says:

      This statement is so typical:

      “The Republican Party has never done anything for the working man like me, even though we’ve voted Republican for years,” said Leo Martin, a 62-year-old machinist from Newport, N.H., who attended Mr. Trump’s Claremont rally.

      Then why did he keep voting for Republicans? How do you spell chump? The only explanation is that, for many of these people, social issues trump economic ones. This is territory we’ve covered here ad nauseam, but this guy brought home the disconnect.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s difficult for Democrats to understood why low income White people vote Republican when their basic needs and interests relate more to the Democratic platform. Minorities get it. Lifer’s blog on this issue explains that Democrats fail to grasp underlying social issues which are important to this voting sector. Furthermore, Democrats have poorly communicated what they are doing in their behalf and it hasn’t been compensatory. This has a double downside: (1) conservatives have won the spin war and have gotten away without addressing the social issues at the heart of this group’s concerns, and, (2) they have continued to focus their largesse on the top economic tier at the expense of lower income people. It hasn’t cost their power group a thing.

        Until now.

        There is some irony that this voting sector appears ready to deliver a stern rebuke to Republicans for taking their support for granted while paying “lip service” to their deeper needs. It is unfortunate that someone so patently shallow as Donald Trump or calculating and narcissistic as Ted Cruz can manipulate these people with ease.

        Maybe it’s not just the Democrats who have to be careful what they wish for. Should one of these two men win the nomination and the Presidency, all bets are off for the Republican Party. Democrats would also lose, but more significant, so would the whole of America.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @1mime: Lifer has alluded to this before, but Democrats need a new approach in order reach those voters that their message just isn’t resonating with and that have been disillusioned by Republicans. I’ve said it once or twice, but if it were me, I would co-opt many of Lifer’s proposals into a new Southern Democratic wing; killing two birds with one stone. Splinter an already fractured Republican base and rebuild the Democratic Party throughout the South. With an already overwhelming advantage in the Electoral College, Democrats would be able to refortify a majority in Congress and make the Republicans near politically irrelevant.

        Of course I have absolutely no expectation for this to happen. Democrats, as they are right now, are too caught up in the populist hype of their own base to make the kind of long-term strategic investment for this plan to start paying dividends. My only modest hope in this respect is that Clinton’s more pragmatic approach to policy making would curb those impulses and help open up Democrats to solutions like a federal minimum income and the like, but I’m not holding my breath.

        As for Trump and Cruz, I’ve said it numerous times before and I’ll say it again. They are not going to win the presidency, period. Trump’s nomination alone would splinter the GOP and give Democrats their only chance to regain full control of Congress. Cruz wouldn’t be much different.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer: “If there was something useful for them to do with that money they would have paid the taxes and brought it back already. One of the consequences of wealth concentration is a cycle of diminishing returns on capital.”

        I have to take another whack at this statement. How absolutely tragic that corporations with vast sums of capital parked offshore do not grasp that reinvesting in human capital is NOT a diminishing return, rather, it pays off in many ways: a better trained and educated workforce; fewer days missed due to illness (their own or their family’s); solid productivity; a more “content” worker thus less conflict between management and labor; an energized business model from the ground up, not just a top down model; worker retention…. I could go on and on. Why is this holistic business model so objectionable to big business as a template for “useful” investment of capital? Ah, “diminished” profits……Well, let’s take a look at the worker’s world, where we’re not talking diminished profitability, we are talking about a net decline in real wages. We are talking about zero discretionary money and too many without basic healthcare or savings.

        Tsk, tsk, they just need to ‘work harder’.

        It bothers me to read the statement that (corporations who offshore funds) cannot find something “useful” to do with their money domestically. Bluntly, I think that’s BS. I think it’s all about how much money they keep. When you compare big business’ diminishing returns vs ordinary people’s lack of discretionary income and net declines in real wages, guess who comes out worse? The pity party begins to sound more shallow. “Lower corporate tax rates”, conservatives complain, yet when one looks more deeply into this issue, one finds that corporations and their minions of lobbyists, accountants and lawyers have “fixed” this problem to their benefit….via loopholes, subsidies, favorable tax laws….This may not negate the need for a fair, competitive tax system,but they have certainly worked their way around this little tax problem. Furthermore, when the question arises as to what loopholes, etc these corporations would be willing to give up to achieve tax reform, things get pretty quiet. To be honest, they want it both ways, which is no surprise to me. A corporation that conducts the vast majority of its business in the U.S. utilizing all of the supports paid for by “other” taxpayers – roads, education, federal benefits, defense, etc – use our country’s vast support system while they avoid paying taxes by sheltering income in foreign countries. Take a bow.

        Small business owners (we were in that category), are carrying a huge burden. Many of them are finding useful ways to invest profits – if they are fortunate enough to have them – and many of them are investing in their people – in the USA. This is how it should be and I have no respect or patience for corporate whining when I know full well how they profligately use the system while complaining about “diminished profitability”.

        Does anyone really think that tax reform designed and driven by the Republican Party will be fair to those not sharing their upper income strata? Their track record is abysmal on that score. Pardon my cynicism but the only way fair tax reform could possibly be accomplished is if it were truly bipartisan AND if the goal and objectives were solidly focused on reducing wealth disparity. Anything else is simply another shell game. Why bother?

        One day, the people who are enamored with Trump’s message are going to wake up and realize that they are being taken to the cleaners by Republicans as they laugh all the way to “their” banks. Democrats can also be faulted for their failure to deliver support in critical areas of need, but at least they are focused on the right objectives. Ideally, both parties are needed to shape a more sound economic future for our country. Instead, government is frozen; big business is going offshore; the middle class is disappearing; the wealthy are getting increasingly more wealthy; and the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is growing.

        All the while, big business can’t find something useful to do with (offshored) money. A pity.

      • johngalt says:

        The U.S. should move to a local earnings model of corporate taxation. Presently we try to tax a U.S.-based company on their global earnings, which is causing some of this re-domiciling. Most advanced countries tax companies on what they earned in that country. This would reduce the benefits of deciding to incorporate in Ireland.

      • 1mime says:

        Based upon your knowledge of how US corporations are presently taxed, do you believe they would give up the tax benefits they have carved out of the present system?

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Just to have it out there, I would think this a sort of public vindication for Lifer and others that such talk is now being openly discussed. Talking about it around the proverbial water cooler is one thing; having it in the NYT is quite another.

      That aside, with respect to the issue of greater participation, the proverbial genie has already been let out of its lamp and there’s no putting it back. For better or worse, we have to deal with the consequences of our own naivety.

      • 1mime says:

        Ryan, There is an inherent conflict between wanting equality and wanting a guaranteed outcome. That – is not naivete but stupidity. If one wants equality, you have to be willing to accept that outcomes may present themselves in forms you didn’t expect or like. Equality is both simple and complicated, and it all depends upon how one views it….I neither fear nor celebrate the conflict that we are seeing in the political arena, but I do understand that it is part of the change process. Even if my worst nightmare were elected President (Ted Cruz), America would survive as would I.

        I completely agree with Lifer about Democrats mishandling and misunderstanding the needs of low income White people. If Democrats fail to learn from the obvious lessons around us, the party will lose a valuable opportunity, and more people will be left out. That is wrong. Likewise, if Republicans don’t address widening wealth disparity honestly with real solutions, they will lose even more.

        For me, it’s not about party, it’s about equality of each individual. The parties are simply the structure we have to work within or around, if necessary. If equality for all in all areas of life is one’s guiding principle, the rest will work itself out.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        I want equality for all in the realm of public discourse just as much as anyone, but I also want our institutions to function in a way that can filter out the noise and the nonsense that can perverse the system and gives us outcomes that do not reflect the best interests of the public at large. For example, I don’t want to see an outcome where a small minority of people with really loud voices can derail a background checks’ bill in the Senate that had bipartisan support and that an OVERWHELMING majority of Americans supported. (Yes, there were other factors involved in that outcome, of course, but that’s neither here nor there)

        Much as I would like it to be the case, the reality is is that even if equality is our guiding principle, the rest won’t work itself out just ’cause. Democracy is as flawed a system as the humans who are needed to make it work and it needs safeguards in place to filter out the crazy and keep itself from descending into chaos.

        If we really mean it when we say that we want equality for all in our politics, then people can’t be allowed to shun that equality when they have it. If that means requiring people to vote, then so be it; however, that should also entail making it as easy as possible, which is why I think it’s simply a matter of time before online voting becomes the norm in this country. Those two measures would dramatically reshape the political landscape in America and hold politicians and officials more accountable to the people.

        Of course, we also need substantial reform in the area of financing of elections. One area in which Bernie Sanders and I agree on is that I do think we need to head towards public funding of elections. Perhaps we might even take a look at how they do it up in Canada and over in the UK, where their election cycles take only about a few weeks, something which all people in America, no matter what their political affiliation, could agree with.

      • flypusher says:

        Some thoughts on income inequality, from some of the elites:

        http://www.vox.com/2016/1/9/10738910/silicon-valley-elites-quiz

        Notice that a familiar topic?

      • 1mime says:

        I understand exactly where these scions of technology are coming from. What’s more, I agree that what is critical is “equality of opportunity”. Achievement without effort won’t work for those with few financial resources, but neither should opportunity be limited due to personal wealth or unequal resources. Quality education is critical to all children. The process should begin with equal access to a safe, quality education with no exclusion due to race, gender, or wealth. If they fail to avail themselves of these opportunities, their life choices will be limited.
        Other supports may be needed such as a basic guaranteed income for families which this group of entrepreneurs supported. After all, it’s difficult to learn when you’re hungry or working several jobs, or sick, or….Poor children often lack the basic familial support to enable them to succeed. A basic income would help stabilize families and children would have a better chance to focus on their educational preparation.

        It’s important that civilized societies find a way to afford equality of opportunity because it is morally right, but also because it benefits the society. We salute those whose great intellect enable them to achieve wonderful inventions. We should also value those who help make our world work. How well it works is likely a product of the quality of education they receive through equality of opportunity.

      • moslerfan says:

        From the VOX article: “If we have 4 percent a year of GDP growth, all these problems would get solved,” PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel told me when I quizzed him about inequality.

        True, except that factors related to inequality are preventing us from getting to anything like 4 percent growth. It’s very hard to have a healthy economy that is not broad based. A few spectacularly successful individuals can’t move the GDP needle very much.

      • goplifer says:

        Further complicating the picture: We will never see 4% economic growth (GDP growth) again.Why? Because of the emergence of a new economy, pioneered by (yet still not comprehended by) guys like Thiel.

        GDP as a concept is premised on the priorities of industrial capitalism – ever faster production of widgets to feed ever growing demand for widgets. The higher those two numbers, the healthier your economy.

        That’s not how the wealthiest economies operate anymore. Populations there are stable, people generally already have most of the useless mass-manufactured crap that they are capable of consuming. There are still industrial-era markets available in developing countries, but they are mostly capable of meeting the their own widget demand and offer too little return to be worth our capital investment.

        Our most profound engines of wealth creation result in massively negative GDP. Everything from the fax machine to the driverless car has had the effect of slashing production and consumption in the way we traditionally measure both. Our dashboard for this economy has left us effectively flying blind.

      • texan5142 says:

        4% growth is possible, but not until the money that is being hoarded by businesses is unleashed into the economy. Put money into the hands of those who will spend it. Ford knew this. If one is sitting on billions and won’t invest because of low returns, it is a self fulfilling phrophacy is it not?

        I am a dumb ass just trying to make sense of it all.

      • goplifer says:

        If there was something useful for them to do with that money they would have paid the taxes and brought it back already. One of the consequences of wealth concentration is a cycle of diminishing returns on capital. I have a sneaking suspicion that if we dropped the tax rate on that offshore money, Apple etc would repatriate the money, and it would still just sit there.

      • 1mime says:

        If repatriation of offshore profits results in more passive hoarding, it will affirm what critics of big business already know: there will never be enough money for those at the top.

        What if, instead of stock re-investment, these healthy corporations increased wages and/or benefits? What TX is saying is true – when one lives from paycheck to paycheck, capacity for discretionary spending is zero. Why not help working people improve their situations through better, more affordable health insurance and sufficient income to allow them to live and prepare for their children and their own futures? Savings in America are very high. People are being careful with discretionary spending as the market has clearly reported in January. Retail is struggling. Why? People are struggling to make ends meet. When is business going to accept the link between income sufficiency and their profitability?

        I don’t believe it is simplistic to state that failure to reinvest in the people of America is to risk our country’s economic and social well being. It is happening all around us if we would just recognize it.

      • moslerfan says:

        Chris, you’re entirely correct about Apple’s cash just sitting there if repatriated. And there are those who complain about the economic uselessness of stock buybacks, but if Apple turned the money over to stockholders they’d just turn around and buy Apple stock with it. The problem is lack of demand, and lack of demand is a direct result of lack of money among people who will spend it instead of saving it in one form or another. This is one reason to like a basic income guarantee.

        I heard someone at Christmastime talking about buying experiences, not things. Maybe we could somehow build an economy around experiences, not just widgets. Whoever can figure out a way to pay musicians what they’re worth should win a Nobel prize, for example.

      • 1mime says:

        And, teachers.

  5. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    Since we’re on the subject of good ol’ Texas right now… psychiatric hospitals now look to be allowed to carry guns thanks to an “oversight” in the new open carry law. Whatever could go wrong?

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2016/01/09/3737766/texas-open-carry-psychiatric-hopitals/

    When asked about this, a Republican representative said that it’s “up to the facilities’ owners to see that their patients aren’t exposed to dangerous weapons.”

  6. flypusher says:

    “These institutions, like the nominating process in Illinois, were put in place to filter some of the nastiest potential outcomes of a democratic system, in much the same way that the Bill of Rights was designed to prevent majoritarian tyranny.”

    Speaking of dismantling the political filters, it seems that Greg Abbott is feeling all nostalgic for the Articles of Confederation:

    http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2016/01/gov-greg-abbott-calls-for-constitutional-convention-to-take-back-states-rights.html/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link

    The proposed Amendments:

    • Prohibit congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
    • Require Congress to balance its budget.
    • Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
    • Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
    • Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
    • Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law
    • Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
    • Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
    • Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.

    ===============

    Now if you are a religious fundy who thinks the US should be “a Christian nation”, or a White supremacist, or a rabid isolationist who wants to shut out the rest of the world, or think the early 19th Century was the best of times, you should whole heartedly support this. But for those of use who want to live in the 21st Century without a tyranny of the majority, the answer is HELL NO!

    We tried that weak central government thing once (see: Articles of Confederation). Back then the country was much more sparsely populated, much less diverse (only White males had full rights as citizens), and low-tech with a primarily agrarian economy. Also the US wasn’t highly involved in world affairs, and had that convenient safety valve of a huge frontier that allowed people who didn’t fit in to just go West. We all know how the experiment in strong state gov’t/ weak central gov’t ended (very badly). So why would we try that again. Why should we reasonably expect any result other than an even bigger fail?

    • texan5142 says:

      One only needs to look at the people that Texas elects to understand the sad state of the education system within the state. Abbott like Cruz are evangelical dominionists.

    • goplifer says:

      Forget the Articles of Confederation, go look closely at the Confederate Constitution. Actually bans the government from making “internal improvements.” That’s the one they’re really pining for.

      • texan5142 says:

        “internal improvements” so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and if it is broke, don’t fix it?

      • flypusher says:

        This line by line constitutional comparison is quite illuminating:

        http://www.jjmccullough.com/CSA.htm

        ‘Overall, the CSA constitution does not radically alter the federal system that was established by the United States constitution. It is therefore very debatable as to whether the CSA was a significantly more pro-“states’ rights” country (as supporters claim) in any meaningful sense. At least three states rights are explicitly taken away — the freedom of states to grant voting rights to non-citizens, the freedom of states to trade freely with each other, and of course the freedom of states to outlaw slavery within their borders.

        States only gain four minor rights under the Confederate system — the power to enter into treaties with other states to regulate waterways, the power to tax foreign and domestic ships that use their waterways, the power to impeach federally-appointed state officials, and the power to distribute “bills of credit.” ‘

      • 1mime says:

        And, these “internal improvements”, I’d venture they weren’t talking about roads and airports and bridges and healthcare and, and….

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, let’s extend this “ir” rational thought a bit further. Take a Hurricane Katrina, or a major fire, or something so basic as education or interstate roads and bridges. Do Republicans who support statism actually believe that their individual taxes can take care of all these states’ needs? These conservatives also want to block grant all federal programs back to state management. I can’t say that there are not areas where that isn’t better, but there are economies of scale that need to be considered.

        Think about that for a minute. Block grant all programs. That’s right, all federal programs would be block grants which states would manage. Imagine this in light of the absurdity of leadership we are witnessing, from KS to TX. Why does anyone think that local politicians will do a better job and are not even more politically compromised than members of Congress are?

        Geez. I am so tired of the “it’s all about ‘me'”. Grow up!

    • vikinghou says:

      If a Constitutional Convention took place, what would prevent liberals from proposing amendments as well? Does Abbott think conservatives (if not radicals) would have a monopoly on which amendments are put forth? He should be careful what he’s wishing for.

    • 1mime says:

      This Huffpost litany of reader comments to the Abbott secession demands have some fine zingers in them if you care to parse through them and have a chuckle or two.

      Best thoughts seem to center around: “giving TX back to the Mexicans from whom it was stolen”, and, pulling out ALL federal aid to TX….(yes that mean no tax revenue going from TX to federal gov’t, but would TX come out ahead? Tx taxes vs NO federal assistance?)

      5 military bases…gone; contributions to “le wall”, gone…disaster aid, gone….medicaid and medicare dollars, gone; VA program – gone….U.S. Postal Service, FAA services…..And, that’s just off the top of my head. Tracy will be doing handstands living in this island of statism, but the rest of us? Not so much.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Abbott really swung for the fences with that first one. Taken to its extreme, you could interpret that to say that Congress couldn’t regulate anything that occurs in a state. It’s an assertion of independence based almost entirely on an argument of semantics that strips the federal government of any real power. Aside from the Supreme Court, I don’t know why he bothered with any of the rest.

      • 1mime says:

        Too bad Abbott hit a long foul ball…..I used to think these fundamentalist politicians were just “saying these things – they didn’t realllllly mean them”. I’ve changed my mind about that. I think they ARE that screwed up.

      • flypusher says:

        I think Abbott et al. know exactly what they’re doing here. Fortunately the odds are stacked against these changes, and will only get longer with the passage of time.

    • MassDem says:

      It’s stuff like this that makes me think, Texas, just go already. Secede with our blessing. And please take your Louie Gohmert, Ted Cruz, Joe Barton, et al. with you on the way out. But then I think of all of the decent Texans & the city of Austin….

  7. Bobo Amerigo says:

    If you have a moment, I recommend this essay by a representative of congress who is leaving that august body.

    It’s about how fundraising and PACs and how it ate up his time and energy. And why we are alarmed by the money situation in politics.

    I particularly liked this bit:

    “…I was invited to glamorous Washington galas, the ones where thousands of eyes make no eye contact, where pupils constantly rove in search of someone more powerful.”

    He also describes an incident when he had raised necessary funds (he thought), got on a plane, and landed to find out that he had to raise an additional $2 million because the opposition’s PAC had done so.

    Millions.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/09/opinion/steve-israel-confessions-of-a-congressman.html

    • 1mime says:

      Public financing of federal elections. No PAK $; End Citizens United; Empower/Enforce Joint Committe on Campaign Ethics; extend House terms from 2 to 4 years; public financing of federal elections – oh, said that, important to say it again….

      That’s a start………The process sucks. People of America are disenfranchised in many ways. The 2016 election is gonna let it all hang out….and it’s about time. One man one vote has totally lost its value in our “democracy”. I’ve become so cynical about the process I can’t believe myself, and I ALways Vote….for what good it does in TX.

    • vikinghou says:

      Reading Israel’s piece left me in despair. Of course I’ve long known about the outsize role of money in politics, but this article hit home. I do contribute to some political campaigns, but not at a level of any significance. When 158 American families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House, ordinary Americans are left out in the cold.

      http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/11/us/politics/2016-presidential-election-super-pac-donors.html

      Like 1mime says, all I can do is vote and hope for the best. Living in TX, it’s too often an empty gesture; nevertheless, it’s a civic duty.

      • flypusher says:

        Yep, I’ll be at the polls too. While I’d prefer to see 100% public financing of campaigns, I’d be fine with private individuals being able to give as much as they wanted, as long as it was 100% disclosed. No political $ laundering through PACs and other such obscuring organizations.

      • 1mime says:

        Good luck on full disclosure.

      • MassDem says:

        Wow, the pile of Monopoly houses in the graphic really brought it home.

    • 1mime says:

      Lifer, I am certain this problem isn’t limited to Democrats. Would you share your thoughts on the issues raised by Israel?

    • MassDem says:

      This alone explains why Congress takes so many vacations and gets so little done. They have to spend too much time gathering the $$$ to return! One wonders why.

  8. RightonRush says:

    LOL, so it begins. http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2016/01/at_bundy_encampment_outsider_s.html

    BURNS — Violence broke out at the Bundy compound Wednesday night between its militant occupants and members of an outside group whose leader says he wants to get women and children out of the compound.

    Lewis Arthur, who leads a group called Veterans on Patrol and calls himself an anti-violence patriot, arrived Wednesday afternoon with a small crew.

    By Wednesday night, one of Arthur’s three-person crew was in the hospital, his eye blackened from a punch to the face.

  9. flypusher says:

    Another prediction of Trump’s political demise:

    http://www.vox.com/2016/1/8/10732496/donald-trump-implode

    This is more how/ why rather than exactly when. But if you agree with that analysis of his character, you’d be predicting a 3rd party run.

  10. Rob Ambrose says:

    In other completely unsurprising news, lots of infighting at the “militants” camp, and also the increased spotlight on some unflattering revelations. Lots of stolen valor accusations going on.

    http://www.rawstory.com/2016/01/oregon-militants-brawl-as-friends-beg-them-to-go-home-youre-surrounded-by-informants/

    Is it surprising that several of these keyboard warriors and ammosexuals are lying about past military service? Not to me. As I mentioned before, I served in an infantry unit (in the Canadian military) for 6 years after high school. These types of over the top, stereotypical “gun nut” types are actually pretty uncommon among actual professional soldiers. We all treated our weapons with respect, as tools needed to do our job. Anybody who paraded around with their weapons like a fashion accessory and fetishsized them the way these guys do would be ridiculed to no end. The only guys who would get it worse would be the FNG’s (“F’n New Guys”) who are seen downtown at the bars with their dog tags hanging out, thinking they’re hot shit. Those guys got it the worst.

    Its unprofessional and it reflected badly on the rest of us. Real, actual military service is not nearly so glamorous and sexy as some of these arrested developmenters seem to think it is, and im immediately skeptical of those that act like it is (like the morons patrolling around the Oregon refuge in full camo and tactical gear) while also claiming they served.

    For the most part, those that actually did serve don’t act like these jokers.

    • vikinghou says:

      Maybe the Feds’ plan is to stand back and watch these guys annihilate each other.

      • Creigh says:

        I definitely thought there was a good chance the Feds would stand back and let them look like fools.

    • 1mime says:

      Rob, I love your prose!

    • Turtles Run says:

      Rob

      Like you I am prior service. US Army Combat Engineer.

      My weapon was a tool and respect for it was taught immediately. These range rangers have zero respect for their weapons. When I see these guys with lasers, optics, magnifiers, silencers and what not, I think of the movie Office Space. They are making sure they have they pieces of flare.

    • Doug says:

      “When Ted Cruz came to the Senate in 2013, after winning a squeaker of a Senate race…”

      Half a sentence in, and they already lost me. Squeaker? Seriously?

      • 1mime says:

        You are correct about that, Doug. It was an unexpected win but it was decisive.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I thought Cruz did get in with a squeaker. I don’t have the numbers handy, but didn’t he lose the original primary by 10% to Dewhurst with 10-person field spreading the vote around enough so that Dewhurst only got 46% rather than the required 50%?

        He handily won the run off and the senate elections, but just making it into the runoff was a squeaker.

      • 1mime says:

        In the Republican Primary, Dewhurst had 44.6% to Cruz’ 34.2%. In the GOP runoff election, Cruz had 56.8% and Dewhurst 43.2% of the vote. Approximately 49% of eligible voters participated in the vote. Cruz handily beat his Democratic opponent, Paul Sadler. (source: wiki)

      • objv says:

        So, let me get this straight … Ted Cruz won the Squeaker of the Senate race. Is Nancy Pelosi still the Squeaker of the House? It’s all a bit confusing….

    • vikinghou says:

      I don’t know. I just can’t imagine Americans electing another Texan to the Presidency. There’s a lot of Texas fatigue around the country.

  11. goplifer says:

    Well that went South in a hurry. Willy, please check your email.

    • Doug says:

      I’m offended by your use of the word South in that context. 🙂

      • objv says:

        Me too, Doug. Perhaps Lifer should have issued a trigger warning before using that word. I now need a safe space to cower in.

        Lifer, be easy on BigW if at all possible. I’m not sure all that was written by him and the others but I’ve gotten used to Willy’s posts and will miss him if he ever leaves.

      • johngalt says:

        I’m not sure what exactly triggered this, but I have long ignored BW’s posts as piles of non-linear thinking (the nicest way I could conceive to describe them).

      • MassDem says:

        Northern privilege folks. Why do cartographers always put North at the top of the map, like there is some hidden message in that?

      • 1mime says:

        One of the classy aspects of this blog is its civility. I appreciate the efforts of all to comment intelligently and without meanness or vulgarity (well…maybe a 4 letter word or two pops up for all when it just needs to). This is Lifer’s blog and he puts a lot of time, effort and thought into his posts. That needs to be respected as does each individual here. It is possible to post a response without being offensive (I am working on that (-: ) Let’s keep it at the snark level and not profane.

      • easyfortytwo says:

        The comment in question was an obscenely aggressive personal attack. It is Chris’ responsibility to maintain the integrity of his blog. There is no question that he made the right decision.

      • goplifer says:

        Let me issue a statement of profound regret for my quasi-violent microaggressions regarding regionally-derived cultural and socio-religious identities and their transracial implications. I have submitted for retraining with appropriate mindfulness.

      • goplifer says:

        And yes, I’m conscious of Willy’s situation.

      • Tuttabella says:

        I am late to the party and have no idea what just happened. All I can say at this point is that I am okay with the deletion of posts and the banning of posters, since this is Chris’s blog. However, I am resoundingly opposed to the revelation of people’s personal information, even if it is officially “public information,” no matter how obnoxious the person may be considered. Not that any of these things just happened to BigWilly, but I thought I’d mention it, just for the record.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        After all, the practice of doxing is not unheard of on this site.

      • vikinghou says:

        You just taught me a new word, Tutt. I had no idea there is a such a term.

      • Turtles Run says:

        I think only one person here has been doxed (love that word) and that was after repeated warnings and continued violations.

        Big Willy was an ass, I won’t miss him.

      • Griffin says:

        Wait what happened?! I’m actually going to miss Willy, I thought his posts were an interesting sort of surreal, post-modernist version of far-right nihilism and American quasi-fascism. I always figured he was just a troll trying to be transgressive.

        That or I’m overthinking things again. He must have pushed things pretty far considering how much annoying crankery is usually tolerated in the comments section.

      • goplifer says:

        I’m sure Willy’s not gone. Well, I’m fairly confident, anyway. He’s unpredictable. No hard feelings.

      • texan5142 says:

        I poked a little fun at Big and he went off the deep end, then I poked some more. My bad. I get just a little tired when someone blames all of their problems on the other. Carry on. I enjoy reading this blog.

        My apologies Chris, I will try to refrain from my temptation to poke at the absurd and let the water flow under the bridge……. if that makes any sense.

      • MassDem says:

        Tex, I was a bit hard on BW also. I think sometimes he is not aware of the full implications of what he is says.

      • 1mime says:

        I think that each of us has a responsibility to maintain integrity and respect – of the forum, its author and fellow commentators. I want Lifer to filter comments that go too far…I want him to block access to those who do not observe the rules of decency (does anyone really need those spelled out here?).

        Focus on the issues, rebut with solid opinion and information, but do not engage in mean, profane commentary. It ruins the blog for all of us and it denigrates the time and effort Lifer puts in to the blog. NO ONE is forced to read or comment here. If you don’t like or agree with the points Lifer and others are presenting, go somewhere else. It’s that simple.

      • texan5142 says:

        Do you mean to tell me that Big and Paul LaPage are the same person?

  12. texan5142 says:

    Thorazine might help you with your condition, reads like a stroke.

    “hellish cultural Marxism”

    Example please.

    • BigWilly says:

      Pt1.

      Screw you asswipe. Choke on it. I bet you’re even uglier in person.

      Pt2.

      Islamaphobe, homophobe, anal alien butt probe, denier, conspiracy theorist, shall I continue? All of the new psych words you’ve introduced into the language, which by the way do irreparable to damage to the language.

    • texan5142 says:

      You just proved with that statement that you do need mental help. I hope you get the help you need.

    • texan5142 says:

      “All of the new psych words you’ve introduced into the language, which by the way do irreparable to damage to the language.”

      Thank you Big, did not know I have been personally credited with the introduction of those words into the American psyche…..royalties please.

    • BigWilly says:

      I’ll royalty you, you macaque.

    • texan5142 says:

      Love it Big you have always been one of my favorite personalities here on this blog. Hugs and kisses my good man.

    • texan5142 says:

      It is all performance art is it not.

    • BigWilly says:

      Don Rickles and Triumph the Insult Dog one night only!

    • texan5142 says:

      Frozen, it is cold and we are headed for the deep freeze. Have wanted to start hydroponics system in the basement, turns out one can get raided by the Gestapo for growing tomatoes.

  13. MassDem says:

    *cultural Marxism*

    Nice. Throwing around a term used by Anders Breivik to justify murdering 77 people, mostly kids. I thought better of you BW, I really did.

    • BigWilly says:

      “I thought better of you BW, I really did.” Until you tried to correlate my statement with mass murder.

      I see your White Privilege, and raise you by one holier than thou denier.

    • MassDem says:

      Fine. You didn’t know the connection, and were probably not aware that when I googled the term “cultural Marxism” (because I had no idea what it meant), references to Breivik were in the first items that popped up. He used it repeatedly in his manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence”

      There is an anti-Semitic component to the term “cultural Marxism” also. It was first coined by a guy named William Lind, who said, “Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms…How does all of this stuff flood in here? How does it flood into our universities, and indeed into our lives today? The members of the Frankfurt School are Marxist, they are also, to a man, Jewish.”

      As to my use of the term “white privilege” to describe Bundy & his militia out in OR, I stand by that. Those guys were armed when they broke into a federal building, and threatened to kill police & federal agents if they were removed. They’ve broken multiple laws, and what has happened? A big fat nothing. The authorities have chosen instead to wait them out, even (incredibly) allowing them to go out and pick up supplies. Although I actually agree with that strategy, what I really want to see in this country is for that level of consideration and restraint to be applied to other protestors as well, starting with Black Lives Matter. That this is not the case is because of-you guessed it-white privilege.
      The article better explains my viewpoint: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2016/01/the-oregon-standoff-debate/422556/

  14. Dear GOPLifer, 

    It is with great pleasure that I would like to announce that the Convention of States Project Illinois has welcomed Anthony Anderson as our State Director. Anthony is a decorated Marine veteran and is now employed by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. If his name seems familiar to you, perhaps it’s because you’ve heard him offering political commentary on radio (WLS 890 AM,WIND 560AM )or TV(WYCC-20)in addition to countless debates at Northwestern University and the prestigious University of Chicago. Anthony brings unique experiences and talents to the team, has the disposition necessary to work in a bi-partisan manner, and shares our vision for how to get our resolution (HJR 061)passed in Springfield.

  15. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    If this report is to be believed, then apparently those Oregon insurgents’ leaders just went into town to get a bite to eat at a local restaurant and authorities did absolutely nothing.

    WTF?

    http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/source–bundy-leaders-dine-at-in-town-restaurant-597345859866

    • MassDem says:

      And that, my friends, is white privilege.

      • piranha says:

        Is it really? (I’m sorry, I didn’t read the linked article.)

        I mean, I am not debating that there is loads of white privilege inherent in LEO treatment of black vs white alleged perpetrators; there is. But in this particular case, people claim that if the Bundy brigade were black they would have already been shot. I don’t think so. And that’s IMO because of where these guys are — out in the middle of nowhere, with nobody being at immediate risk, and with the surrounding population not being friendly towards them. They’re occupying a “federal building”, ok — uh yeah, a visitor centre for bird watchers. That’s not exactly like taking over The San Francisco Federal Building, and it gives LEO time to work out the best way to handle it. I actually appreciate that they are doing so instead of going in with guns blazing.

        I remember Waco and Ruby Ridge. The people involved were white there as well. Both incidents caused a public outcry and fueled the militia movement — still do, in fact. I believe the agencies involved would like to avoid throwing more oil onto those flames. I grant that too might contain some white privilege, but it genuinely feels to me like a much more valid motivation — there’s a line to be walked here to neither embolden nor martyr those guys, and as far as I can see, LEO is walking it right now — we’ll see what the outcome is; I might change my mind. It’s not like more resentment by poor, uneducated whites who feel wronged by the government will improve the lot of PoC in this country one iota. The two are orthogonal.

        I think that in general LEO should err much more on the side of caution. Talking people down is a much better choice than confronting them with force. The cure for white privilege in the treatment of alleged perps is for LEO to treat PoC better, not to treat whites worse.

      • 1mime says:

        Piranha, May I suggest that you read some background on this issue before buying in too much to the “we’re not here to do anybody any harm” pap. Once you’ve read these links, I’d like to see if you still think this group is being honest in their mission to “help” the Hammonds (who have said they don’t want their help), or if they are really just a group of men looking for a fight.

        http://harpers.org/archive/2015/02/the-great-republican-land-heist/?single=1

      • MassDem says:

        In this case, not only are the authorities waiting them out (a position I agree with btw for the reasons you gave), they are actually letting them walk around town, go grab dinner, etc. That’s ridiculous–at the very least, these guys should be confined to the bird sanctuary until they give up, at which point, they can be quietly arrested.

        And yes, as I’ve said in another comment, it’s not that I want the Bundys to be treated unfairly, it’s that I want to see all people receive similar levels of restraint and respect from the authorities.

        It’s not just that they took over a federal building that was closed for the weekend, they are waving guns around and threatening people. Schools in the town have been closed during the stand off. Apparently prior to the occupation the militia dudes were following federal employees and their family members around, which is harassment. Its not quite as benign as you make it out to be.

        http://www.opb.org/news/series/burns-oregon-standoff-bundy-militia-news-updates/harney-county-sheriff-armed-occupiers-will-face-charges/

      • piranha says:

        @1mime you may of course suggest, but I am not sure what makes you think that i a) consider the Bundys harmless, b) believe they’re just there to help the Hammonds, and c) am ignorant of the background. You seem to be responding to things I didn’t write (and don’t think either).

        My post was solely discussing whether it was just white privilege that kept them from being overwhelmed by LEO, and whether even if that were a component, going in with guns blazing would be the right thing to do.

        I don’t sympathize with the Bundys. At all. They’re parasites. I sympathize with the law enforcement agencies that have to deal with this mess. I do not think that there is even the slightest hint of sympathy for the Bundys among LEO, based on them being white. The sheriff was pretty darn clear on exactly what he thought of them.

        I sympathize with the Hammonds only in so far that I think mandatory sentencing is a crock, and charging them under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 to get that mandatory sentence was overkill. I know they didn’t invite the Bundys, and they absolutely did the right thing, turned themselves in to police on Monday to serve their sentence. I also see nothing wrong with the support rally for them by other ranchers, where I gather the Bundy people inserted themselves, and then split off to commence their occupation.

        As to Cliven Bundy, I remember the government let him get away with his personal insurrections for what, 20 years? I wouldn’t suggest they wait this long with the Malheur situation. It’s been less than a week, I am willing to give LEO some leeway there.

        What I find highly interesting, is that Cliven actually had a lot of active support, people came to his aid by the hundreds, and Republicans were trying to sell the whole “land use is a states rights issue”, though they were uncomfortable with Cliven himself. But in this case? There’s been outright condemnation of the Malheur occupation even by Cruz (what an … unfortunate name that is too). That doesn’t mean they’ve lightened up on the whole states rights issue (which is just another excuse for a private land grab), but at least they do not want to align themselves with these types of people. Small favours.

        @MassDem — sounds like we mostly agree, and I have since heard that some of the occupiers have acted in harassing ways. It seems letting them come and go as they please for now is part of the low-key strategy, and apparently the population of Burns is involved in discussing the issues, and there is very little soft support for the Bundys — there was a town hall meeting that some of the occupiers attended though they were not allowed to speak — and the vast majority of the attending townspeople voted they wanted them gone. The Paiute want them gone too. The school closure seems to go along with LEO using it as headquarters. There is somebody on DKos who lives in the area; I’ll try and see whether I can get some more direct information. I think it’s really smart to get the population involved in making it clear to the occupiers that “we the people” are NOT on their side; this is a lot more convincing IMO than rushing in with force.

        Sometimes DKos makes me happy: http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/1/7/1466908/-Let-s-Show-the-Beseiged-People-of-Burns-Some-Kossack-Love?_=2016-01-07T11:25:18-08:00#comment_58892498

      • 1mime says:

        I didn’t intend to make you feel any particular way, but I wanted you to have the benefit of some of the historical background provided in the links I posted. I actually agree with what you said, including the charges against the Hammonds, who appear to be trying to do the right thing in the right way, but admit that I would need to do more research to make certain the government case wasn’t legitimate, even if badly handled. The Bundy family is a horse of a different color. I am interested in this particular confrontation mainly because I am offended by the actions of these militia groups and the Bundy family’s assertion of entitlement. Living in TX and having watched the Jade Helm debacle, watching these men go to Ferguson at a sensitive time, flaunting their guns and military gear in the faces of the Black residents, followed by this takeover at the preserve – I have had it with these militia groups. They are arrogant and picking for a fight, and what’s frightening is that they will continue until someone innocent gets hurt or killed. That is just too much. Most of all, I share your concern and support for the LEO who have to deal with these people. They know how quickly the situation could escalate and innocent people be hurt….people they know and live among.

        As for the GOP candidates position denouncing the militia actions, I read earlier that Rubio denounced their actions but agreed with their concern about federal land ownership. One doesn’t justify the other.

        I enjoy your ideas and writing. Hope you’ll continue to post here even if we disagree from time to time (-: Thanks for following up.

      • piranha says:

        @1mime — Ah, thanks for clarifying. We all carry so much personal background underneath the words we type. I’m completely with you on the behaviour on those self-styled militias, I have no patience with them at all, and no sympathy. I definitely want them stopped and generally discouraged — I just think it needs to be done like, for example, the standoff with the Montana Freemen was. I feel that in general we (which also means the government) needs to be better than those who violate the law.

        Also thanks for the link to the Harper’s article, that refreshed my memory on the Cliven Bundy thing. I want to do a bit more research to see whether there is anything happening as a follow-up because Bundy should absolutely not get away with it. In its own way, that would be as disastrous an outcome as Waco, etc.

        I don’t think I have anything nice to say about Rubio — that statement is pretty obviously pandering to his tea party pals.

      • 1mime says:

        I listened to a discussion today on NPR on the subject of the latest N. Korean provocation and how major countries are dealing with it. Naturally, the subject rolled around to provocations in the U.S. and in hot spots in the Middle East and how the President is handling them.

        A new term was introduced to explain his approach: “strategic patience”. Putting the kid(s) in a corner instead of lots of empty threats or a beating. What was not discussed was what one does if the kid refuses to stay in the corner……FWIW, I agree with the use of strategic patience vs proactive aggression (think – Vietnam or the Iraq invasion) but when all parties don’t play “nice” with the ground rules, what then?

        Anyway, it was interesting and thought I’d share.

    • 1mime says:

      There is probably a “grand plan”, but it looks bad for authorities. They are flaunting the law and publicly getting away with it. Something needs to happen soon to hold these people accountable.

    • vikinghou says:

      Here’s a very illuminating piece concerning this particular situation and the history of Federal lands in the West.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/opinion/bird-watching-patriotism-and-the-oregon-standoff.html

    • Turtles Run says:

      Heck the authorities said these people are free to come and go as they please. No wonder these groups do this carp. They are never held accountable for their actions.

      Aim weapons at law enforce…sure why not.

      Take over federal property and threaten to start violence….OK.

      What next? are we going to give in to their demands, give them more federal loans (we won’t collect anyway), let them get away with owing over a million dollars to the government?

      I called these people a bunch of morons before, I now stand corrected. We are the fools for allowing this to continue.

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/militiamen-able-to-get-food-on-their-own

      • vikinghou says:

        I think I’ll just seize the Washington Monument and make it my new home. The view would be spectacular from my man cave.

      • Turtles Run says:

        I got my eye on Mount Rushmore. Great view and lots of living space.

      • MassDem says:

        I’m planning to take over Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park & live on popovers and blueberry tea. Can I keep the waitstaff?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Only if you pay them in Ameros

      • rightonrush says:

        You would think these old boys would at least have some basic survivalist skills. Bet there isn’t an Eagle Scout in the bunch.

      • objv says:

        Heck, I traipse over the BLM (not to be confused with Black Lives Matter) behind my house every day. Surprisingly, the gov’mint doesn’t seem to care. Anyone jealous?

      • Turtles Run says:

        OBJV – They don’t seem to care in Oregon either. These guys can come and go as they please. I thought they had supplies to last them years.

        It is the worse stand off ever.

      • johngalt says:

        Presumably you are not setting fires to clear “your land” or grazing herds of cattle on it without paying rent.

      • objv says:

        Turtles, I wasn’t aware that there was a groundswell of support for these guys among Republicans. Maybe, I haven’t been following this story closely enough, but isn’t the media coverage a bit overhyped?

      • 1mime says:

        Actually, objv, the “silence” from the right is deafening. Of course, I don’t watch FOX news or read Breitbart so maybe you can enlighten us with conservative commentary that reinforces your statement. Armed men take over federal property and buildings, state they plan to stay for years (guess that means anyone who innocently was interested in hiking this area for its flora and fauna can just go somewhere else….the militia is in town), and state they will defend themselves if fired upon.

        You don’t find this provocative, illegal behavior? You really think the media has over-hyped this invasion? What if it were members of the Black Lives Matter group instead of the militia group….what do you think the response should be then?

        Glad to know you’ve got the citizens back on the BLM property, Objv. Hope no one gets hurt in the crossfire.

      • objv says:

        No, JG. If I set a fire, it would probably burn my own house down. 😉

        Once in awhile, I do see sheep guarded by a couple of Great Pyrenees. Presumably, the owner of the sheep and the dogs pay the government rent.

      • 1mime says:

        I saw video today of comments by the sheriff of the county where these jerks are playing militia. Turns out they are intimidating people…a Japanese couple was followed, and other people made to feel very uncomfortable. For him the final straw was they must have threatened his parents (who were in the audience he was addressing) and that was it. He wants them gone. The people there want their lives back.

        I do not understand why there has been no public response from authorities to cut these people off from entering the little town and re-provisioning. I’m sure we’ll learn in time but I have to admit to being angry that these men are abusing federal property, flaunting our nation’s laws and impacting the lives of innocent, good people who live in the area. This better have a punitive ending. Nail this bunch with as many charges as can be thrown at them and stick em in the nearest penitentiary, not some cozy jail.

      • objv says:

        Mime, how in the world do I have the protestors’ back? I don’t support them or even understand what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. You’re right in saying that this hasn’t gotten much of a response from the right, but why should it?

        The only real interest this story is generating is from left leaning media who want to inflame left leaning people into thinking that there is vast right wing support for this group. There is nothing of the sort.

      • 1mime says:

        How do I have the protester’s backs? By living on the border of the BLM property, Ob as you stated, not me! Not saying you support this bunch of dangerous clowns, only that when conservatives want to use the bully pulpit of media, they don’t have ‘any’ problems in that regard. Here’s a case where both parties should stand together against this group and the right is silent? And, because other media is highlighting it, that effort is bogus? I don’t think so. Silence is seen by many as tacit approval. If you think for one minute that what this militia group is doing has any basis in propriety, then there’s not much more I want to say to you about it. This is serious and I haven’t seen any commentary from accessible conservative sources but I definitely do not believe that is due to the lack of legitimacy. I think conservatives are hoping this will be an embarrassment to Obama….much like it was to the other presidents who dealt with these kinds of civilian standoffs. I think it is a travesty for America and I think all these men need to be arrested and jailed. The sooner, the better.

      • piranha says:

        There is no ground swell of support from the right for Ammon Bundy and his pals. I read RedState so you don’t have to. 😉

        The GOP candidates have all come out telling the armed occupiers to stand down, and that this sort of behaviour is not the way to act.

        There are several diaries critical of the occupation, not sparing the insults. There’s generally not much interest. I’ve seen only one supportive diary and a few commenters, and they’re all conflating the ranchers with the Bundys, and are generally lukewarm about occupation, just sympathetic to protests against federal overreach.

        There is some ridiculing of the left for being all of a sudden eager for the cops to be shooting people. As a leftie myself I admit, I see the point.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t want to shoot them, I want them arrested and jailed.

        There have been several good articles researching the issue of federal land ownership. Generally, the properties and resources have been responsibly managed with any royalties or grazing fees/water rights ridiculously low-priced. There was an interview with some members of one of the indigenous Indian tribes to the region that made a powerful counter-argument to the ranchers’ position. Their rights go back centuries, for what good that has done for them.

        BTW, for western movie aficionados, there is a great one on the subject of driving cattle on the open range vs the rights of the rancher, entitled “Open Range”, starring Kevin Kostner and Robert Duvall. How could it miss? Slap-dad gorgeous scenery to back up the droll Duvall.

      • MassDem says:

        piranha, if you can make it through a Red State post, any post, you are made of stronger stuff than I! Thanks for taking one for the team.

      • 1mime says:

        For those who perceive that conservatives stand with liberals on the BLM range issue, take a gander:

        WaPo, Dana Milbanks: “it’s hard to govern when your caucus is so hostile to government that it has sympathy for seditionists. Asked about the Oregon situation, Ryan deferred to Rep. Greg Walden, a member of GOP leadership who represents the area — and, as The Post’s Mike DeBonis noted, Ryan nodded agreement as Walden spoke.

        Walden made clear that “an armed takeover is not the way to go about it,” but he had sympathy for the rebels. “These people just want to take care of the environment — they really do,” he said. “And it is the government that all too often ignores the law.”

        Such as: when lawmakers sworn to uphold the Constitution applaud those who take up arms against the government.”

        No, count me as one liberal who clearly believes conservatives in their “heart of hearts” are pulling for the militia….if for no other reason than to ……(fill in the blank here…)

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gops-sympathy-for-sedition/2016/01/06/9e9f61da-b4c1-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_most

      • 1mime says:

        Aw, man, the gift that keeps on giving:

        https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/01/04/bundy-sons-lead-antigovernment-extremists-militia-takeover-federal-wildlife-headquarters

        “The lawman at the center of the action at the moment is Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward, who has less than a half dozen deputies to police the ninth largest county in the United States.

        “These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

        The sheriff reportedly received death threats for not being a “constitutional sheriff,” standing up what the antigovernment extremists brand as the “tyranny of the U.S. Government,” and offering sanctuary to the Hammonds – something they didn’t request.

        Somehow, I believe Sheriff Ward more than I belive Clive Bundy……

      • piranha says:

        @1mime said: “I don’t want to shoot them, I want them arrested and jailed.”

        I certainly want them prosecuted for the occupation, and for threatening people; IANAL and don’t know whether that could result in a jail sentence; that’d be just fine by me. The problem is that they are not going to just stand there peacefully and let themselves be arrested at this point, and if you want to force the issue, shooting will result. I see too many people on the left asking that LEO “do something” — as if they were just sitting on their butts since we don’t see them swoop in with superior force. Well, they are doing a number of things behind the scenes. It’s just not very dramatic, and it’s certainly not a show down. I am ok with that for now. If the sheriff and FBI manage to resolve this without a single shot being fired, I’ll applaud them, even if it takes time and doesn’t look like anything is happening. Seriously, I think too many Americans are addicted to action.

        “For those who perceive that conservatives stand with liberals on the BLM range issue”

        Not me then. Though even among Republicans, this particular branch of libertarian fairy-tale purveyors with their self-serving origin story of small ranchers preceding both Native Americans AND birds is considered on the far fringe. I mean, the Bundys recognize the county sheriff as the only legitimate authority, not exactly something most Republicans sign onto. So, no, Republicans don’t, for the most part, agree with Democrats on BLM range issues, but they also don’t agree with the Bundys. The Conservative Treehouse is a far-right site, and not representative of Republicans in general.

        But you’re right, Republicans see the BLM as fundamentally different than Democrats. My favourite sarcastic commentary on the difference is that to the right BLM stands for “Bureau of Livestock and Mines,” while for the left it stands for “Bureau of Landscapes and Monuments”.

      • objv says:

        Mime, maybe we can come to some compromise. I promise to denounce the yahoos in the standoff (after doing the proper research), if you promise to denounce all the wacko environmental, PETA, and occupy wall street type organizations that also break the law with their protests. Some of the Black Lives Matter protestors certainly should have been arrested for throwing rocks at police. I don’t remember you saying that they should be jailed.

        Isn’t there a double standard here?

        I don’t think that you understood my initial comment. It was meant to be humorous in line with the previous comments. The BLM owns much of New Mexico. There is a parcel of land literally behind my house. Thus, I do not have to take over anything. I can roam over the area at will. I take my dogs out on walks almost daily. Some people ride their bikes or ATVs on the trails. Natural gas pipelines crisscross the area and sheep sometimes graze the land. I assume the pipeline and sheep owners pay the government for the land use. The public has access at all times and I’ve never seen any kind of government worker on the land. It’s basically open wilderness for everybody to enjoy.

      • 1mime says:

        I totally understood you were kidding and was responding in kind. I’m an “equal critic” of anyone who breaks the law. I am unaware of the BLM group throwing rocks at police but that was wrong and they should have been charged. At least they weren’t brandishing guns, wearing military garb with ammo clips, etc. Big difference, IMHO. Occupy WS I thought was with permission but it did get pretty grubby out there although it seemed well mannered. Not sure where you’re going with that.

        These militia are itching for a confrontation. They are inserting themselves into tense situations to “test” people’s self-discipline and it is amazing that the bystanders have maintained their composure in the face of such blatant militarism.

        It sounds like your property is lovely and I’m happy you have such wide open beauty at your back door.

      • piranha says:

        “if you promise to denounce all the wacko environmental, PETA, and occupy wall street type organizations that also break the law with their protests”

        Thanks for the welcome, folks. This is near and dear to my heart, so I’m gonna answer this even though it wasn’t directed at me.

        I don’t denounce people for breaking the law per se — I think there is and must be room for civil disobedience in a democracy. I view a lot of this through a lens of proportionality: Is the act chosen to display one’s civil disobedience proportional to the government’s perceived injustice? I realize not all people agree with that, and I think reasonable people can make reasonable arguments for either side. I also accept that people might get prosecuted for any law breaking they do, and as long as that prosecution is fair, that’s the price one might have to pay.

        I have no issue at all with victim-less civil disobedience — something like smoking pot, or women walking around topless, or people practicing polygamy, or a trans person using the “wrong” bathroom.

        Occupying a building on Wall Street, chaining oneself to the gates of a nuclear power plant, or trees at a logging camp, blocking access to an abortion clinic with signs depicting aborted fetuses — all are to some degree coercive because they affect and even hinder other people. I don’t normally have a problem with those either. If the Bundy brigade had come, without weapons, to stage a sit-in at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, I’d have not much of a beef with that action. Refusing to pay for grazing rights? Right up there with refusing to pay taxes because the government uses them for things you don’t consider ok: go right ahead.

        I’ve wrestled with the notion of whether that includes only non-violent means because I myself am only inclined towards non-violence. I believe the goals should be non-violent, they should be geared towards influencing people to change the law by democratic means. But I also think that some acts of violence can be justifiable, those that cause minor property damage for example. And while I am looking at those through a lens of proportionality, I draw a hard line at personal injury, and death is beyond the pale.

        However little I think of PETA, throwing blood at fur wearers is proportional — minor property damage is not sufficient for me to feel like denouncing anyone. The Bundys driving their cattle onto federal land — that causes property damage too, and rather more of it, but I’d still consider it acceptable civil disobedience. (I would like to see Cliven Bundy prosecuted for it too, because I don’t agree his cause is just.)

        Throwing rocks at police, that’s difficult for me to condone, but considering the proximate cause, which is extreme police violence directed at black people, it could be seen as proportional. I know some black people see it that way, and it seems to be an issue where we’re getting to a point of “enough is enough”. I think it’s a really bad idea because it feeds into the existing narrative of blacks as angry and dangerous, which is part of the problem already. Plus once that rock leaves your hand, whether it will do a serious personal injury is out of your control, and it therefore crosses my line. On the other hand it’s not clear to me that any instance of this has been premeditated. Real life sometimes interferes with keeping movements “pure”. I’ve been in the situation (not BLM) where we staged a completely peaceful protest, and police initiated violence — all bets are off in that moment. You also don’t have control over everyone who joins; every movement has their real-life trolls who join only to create mischief — and some join as agents provocateurs. Unless throwing rocks becomes official BLM policy, I don’t necessarily blame them for isolated incidents, though I do believe they should publicly denounce those. Another example: Killing abortion doctors, bombing abortion clinics. The killers consider that proportional (babies are getting murdered, after all), but that definitely goes over my hard line. I’d feel the same way if some organization more radical than BLM decided to kill a cop for each black person killed by cops. Not ok.

        Which brings us to the Bundy brothers, who came with guns to a Wildlife Refuge, and have explicitly threatened deadly force if anyone were to try and remove them. That’s not proportional, it goes over my personal line. So yeah, I am denouncing them rather more vehemently than I am denouncing BLM or PETA or your average environmental “wacko” (I used to be one of those guys protesting against nuclear power plants in my well-spent youth) — but I also abhor tree spiking, for example, because it could cause serious injury to loggers.

        One size rarely fits all.

      • objv says:

        Welcome to the blog, Piranha. Hope you enjoy it here and stay to comment.

      • MassDem says:

        objv, peaceful protest is a protected 1st amendment right, as long as it doesn’t devolve into law-breaking such as violence or destruction of property. This holds true for both right- and left-leaning groups; in fact, my parents once participated in a Tea Party protest in Hartford where my mom made signs and everything, which is more than I’ve done for my causes.

        That being said, I will happily denounce PETA all day long. What with their kill shelters, destruction of property and irritating attitude, there is no PETA love here.

        I have never been to NM, but my son went to the large BSA camp there (Philmont) and he said it was absolutely beautiful. It is one of my dreams to visit the Southwest some day.

      • Creigh says:

        Good comments, Piranha. A question; could you see violence by BLM as a strategic form of self-defense? Another; nonpayment of taxes, or more to the point nonpayment of grazing fees as a protest. Does the fact that Cliven Bundy is actively choosing to graze cattle on public land make him different than a person who refuses to pay taxes in support of the military and advocates pacifism?

  16. Griffin says:

    Good. Let the GOP party leaders spend some quality time with the base they have mobilized, maybe it will cause them to realize how far they’ve really gone outside the right-wing echo chamber.

    However even if Trump causes the party to split in two I have trouble seeing how there will be a “moderate” party left behind, both seem extreme in different ways.

    -Establishment Conservatives (The New Whigs)- Only pay lip service to social conservatism and nationalism but don’t actually believe in it, but are radical on economic issues such as wanting to privatize Social Security and implement a flat tax.

    -Radical Right (The Dixiecrats)- Support a welfare state (for themselves) but are hardline social conservatives, religious fundamentalists, nationalists, and have some overlap with actual racists.

    I don’t see The Tuesday Group becoming their own party, the most they could hope for is to gain the upper hand within whatever is left of the Establishment GOP as an internal faction.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      With all respect, you’re missing the forest for the trees. Lest we forget, most Republicans (as in the actual, sane and reasonable-minded Republican voter that exists all across this country) aren’t crazy. They support a wide swath of policies and beliefs that a majority of Americans would vote for in a general election if they could be given the choice. They aren’t, and what they want isn’t being represented on a national scale.

      The point isn’t to build a new party out of the sordid mess that we’re seeing today. That would be dumb. The point is to build a new party with candidates and officials that represent the views of real people and that will support policies that can be of real, substantive and effective use to all Americans, and there’s a whole lot of work that has to be done to make that happen.

      Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t Republicans in Washington today that could be a real force in such a movement, but the overwhelming majority of them are having their voices and views suffocated to the point that they can’t openly support such policies even if they agree with them.

      • 1mime says:

        At what point do those who suppress their innate rational ideas become part of the problem within the Republican Party, Ryan? Either they like things like they are, or, have become fearful of losing their seats due to being primaried for daring to oppose the party line. It costs a lot of money and requires a great deal of effort to run for Congress and that’s hard to walk away from. But, maybe this is exactly what is needed…..individuals who simply say, “enough”, and announce to the world exactly why they are leaving. There may be a deep bench below them but you can bet that the Democrats will be gunning for these seats if a “newbie” runs.

        Principle used to mean something. I think most of us here would support any candidate who stood for the kind of principles and common sense and fair positions Lifer espouses. We just need to find them.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Yes, those people are a part of the problem by association, but that shouldn’t disqualify them as having some part in a new party going forward, particularly if their uninhibited views and ideas could have some substantive role to play. Not everyone can be a trailblazing leader; not everyone has that strength, but they shouldn’t be discarded. If whatever rises out of the ashes of the GOP is going to be a nationally relevant party again, then this is the mindset that needs to be at work.

        And yes, you and I and everyone else can be reasonably sure that the Democrats will be going after those fresh political faces just as much as they would against Republicans, particularly after years of frustration, enduring partisan gerrymandering and the like. I wouldn’t underestimate that for a moment, but in a sense that’s a good thing for any new party that’s working it’s way up.

        For an underdog, there’s little more than performance and the merits of what it’s fighting for that reaches across to people and earns their respect and their vote.

  17. “State and local politicos agree to sponsor a Presidential candidate’s petition effort in return for a deeply coveted opportunity to attend the national convention as a delegate [and wear *really* goofy hats].” – Just wanted to make that clear. 😉

    With respect to “a broad devolution of power… weakening our central institutions in ways we never anticipated,” I can’t really see that as anything but a *good* thing. Or, as Kevin Williamson would put it, “The End is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome.” (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062220683) We have become accustomed since the advent of the New Deal to having government provide things that it really has no business providing. I would submit that in this information age in which social media is ascendant, the private sector is actually *better* equipped to provide much of what government now monopolizes. By its very nature, government is really equipped to do only one thing well: coercion. We’d all do well to remember that.

    • n1cholas says:

      I can’t wait until I’m able to enroll for police and fire service. I just hope I can afford the top tier police service, although I guess I’ll make do with a mid-level fire protection policy. That said, I’m sure my neighbors and I will be able to chip in to fill in the potholes down the street, and eventually sponsor a mercenary so he can go oversees to help maintain Northrop Grumman and Boeing profits.

      #Trump/Bachmann 2016

      • MassDem says:

        n1cholas, your comments are so on point.

        But you aren’t giving credit where it’s due- didn’t Blackwater do a bang-up job in Iraq? What’s not to love about an army of mercenaries? Maybe we could recruit those Y’all Quaeda guys out in OR; give them some purpose and direction.

      • flypusher says:

        And those privatized prisons are making the criminal justice system more fair and effective!

      • johngalt says:

        Honestly, we already do this. I pay about $300/year to my neighborhood homeowners association for a “Constable Patrol.” This pays the salaries of sheriff’s deputies specifically assigned to our neighborhood. We should certainly expect an adequate (and equal) police presence across the entire city/county and it is debatable whether we have that presently, but those with means will always find a way to make themselves a little more equal than others. It’s just human nature.

      • 1mime says:

        Actually, JG, unless I totally misplaced the snark in Nicholas’ remarks, I think he was making a dig at Tracy’s notion that government is unnecessary.

      • n1cholas says:

        And we should enshrine the ability of the aristocrats to be substantially more equal than the peasants and the bourgeoisie.

        Because freedom.

      • johngalt says:

        No, I know he was. I was just pointing out that subscribing to police services is already happening at some level.

      • objv says:

        Some basic government services are a necessity. However, the government is not efficient in how money is spent on those services. Consolidation and elimination of some programs is a must. The private sector could do a much better job administering some programs.

        Come on people, this is obvious. N1c ,why the hysteria about cutting police and fire services? They aren’t even provided by the federal government.

        http://www.budget.senate.gov/republican/public/index.cfm/files/serve/?File_id=34919307-6286-47ab-b114-2fd5bcedfeb5

        “The results are staggering. CRS identified 83 overlapping federal welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011—more than the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense. The total amount spent on these 80-plus federal welfare programs amounts to roughly $1.03 trillion.”

      • n1cholas says:

        Ah, yes. The ol’ “its ok if the things I use receive federal funds, but not ok if it goes to the poors”.

        Want to talk about hysteria? How about the fact that you’re feinting over $1T being used to keep Americans afloat, meanwhile we’re spending $1T a year off and on the books for military hardware to improve the profits of “private enterprise”.

        How about this: you give me a model of a country where there is less socialist spending on general welfare per capita, but with smarter, healthier people per capita.

        Until then, all you’re advocating is doing something that will never happen, because Ayn Rand and her cadre of fictional heroes made an impression on you when you were 12 and didn’t know better.

      • MassDem says:

        In order to make the welfare spending number big & scary, Sessions and his committee added in states’ contributions as well. The actual amount spent by the Federal government was estimated by these guys to be $746 billion, closer to the amounts in the other categories. They’ve also conveniently included only “non-war defense” spending in the comparison. These figures are from 2011, when spending on safety net items was high as we were still recovering from the financial meltdown.

        It helps to read stuff before you post it.

      • objv says:

        n1c, Yes, the people who you call “the poors” should be the ones receiving help. The problem is that big government is inefficient in allocation of resources and open to corruption and fraud. I agree that there is tremendous waste in military spending that needs to be addressed.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/wastebook-report-details-30b-in-questionable-federal-spending/

      • n1cholas says:

        Government is inefficient and open to corruption because the very notion that the poors are receiving assistance has been constantly attacked since roughly 1933.

        The infrastructure, or complete overhaul that could make things less inefficient and less open to corruption then get demonized as socialism: the devil’s own brand of politics.

        So, the very people railing on about “government waste” are the very people who prevent a cheaper, more efficient system from ever developing.

        Because socialism(!). Yet, most people are perfectly happy receiving socialist services, whether from state or -gasp- the federal government. Yet, they get really, really upset when non-tribe members get benefits, too. I wonder why that attitude exists. If I had to guess, it’s probably closely related to Obama, the most divisive, socialist President in the history of history, and, uh, stuff.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      >] “We have become accustomed since the advent of the New Deal to having government provide things that it really has no business providing.”

      Please. FDR’s New Deal responded to the demands of the Great Depression and could even be argued as being relatively modest in retrospect. The Works Progress Administration wasn’t even allowed to compete with private industry; rather, it had to work to create jobs for people on its own terms, building things like post offices, bridges, schools, highways, etc.

      The National Industrial Recovery Act simply guaranteed workers the right to collectively bargain for higher wages and better working conditions, so that their hard work and efforts couldn’t be exploited by big business and those more interested in making profits rather than looking out for the common man. Essentially, it just gave people the right to have a voice in their work. If you disagree with that, then I’m quite interested to hear what you would offer up in its place.

      And, of course, the signature of the New Deal was Social Security; and though it really shouldn’t have to be argued at this point, it doesn’t “give” anyone anything. It’s a guarantee to the American people that they will have a certain degree of financial security in their old age, based on nothing more and nothing less than their own merit that they’ve earned from what they’ve put into the system from their first day on the job. If you think that the federal government had no business giving that guarantee to its people, you’re drinking the kool-aid, my friend. 😉

      And let’s not forget that FDR also ended Prohibition, which allowed Americans to legally purchase beer again. Was THAT something that the federal government had no business in “giving” to the American people?

      • Griffin says:

        Libertarianism: If government is allowed to regulate anything it will lead to totalitarianism where people’s lives are controlled. However if Capitalist leaders are left to their own devices and are de facto empowered by ending the welfare state and being allowed to demand whatever hours and conditions they want from their workers it will lead to freedom.

        It’s such a massive blindspot that I can no longer take the right-libertarians seriously. The idea they are for freedom is laughable. Hayek openly said he would prefer a libertarian dictatorship to a welfare-state democracy, von Mises endorsed fascism as a bulwark against capitalism, Hermann Hoppe denounced democracy and inspired many techno-libertarians to start the fringe “neoreactionary movement” which calls for a return to feudalism, and there are countless libertarians (i.e. Thomas DiLorenzo) who retroactively side with the Confederacy over the Union.

        They can not point to any successful long term application of their ideas because what comes out of it looks much closer to the Gilded Age (followed by Putin’s Russia when the proles start making demands) than Atlas Shrugged. IMO they are the 21st centurues answer to the radical wing of New Left of the 1960’s: a bunch of middle-upper class white guys (mostly college kids) with too much time on their hands who fall into radical phliosophies with silver-bullet economic solutions and a desire to prove you have “all the answers”.

      • Griffin says:

        “…Von Mises endorsed fascism as a bulwark against communism” my bad

      • Well, gang, why, exactly, should rich states prop up poor states? Should evolutionary processes not apply to state governance? If you live in an armpit state, should you not be given ample opportunity to experience that impetus which might impel you to consider moving somewhere that has its act together, rather than have your federal government subsidize your dreary status quo?

    • 1mime says:

      Oh, Tracy. Government does many things well. You’ve just stopped noticing. The private sector is very important, but it works especially well when it works in tandem with government, not in place of government. I’m sorry you have such a negative view of America’s government. I don’t think it’s perfect but there is much to admire.

      • Creigh says:

        Government is certainly not perfect, but then providing a common defense, establishing justice, promoting the general welfare, and ensuring domestic tranquillity are a lot harder than just making a profit selling stuff.

      • Creigh says:

        Come to think of it, those things (defense, justice, welfare, tranquillity) are prerequisites to making a profit selling stuff.

      • Justice. Domestic tranquility. General welfare. Common defense. All of these are rooted in upholding and enforcing the rule of law, which in turn is enabled by ceding to government the legitimate use of force, i.e. coercion. Force and coercion – that’s what government does well. We should recognize that, and manage it. Force and coercion have their place, and are necessary elements of civil society. I have no problem with federal government involvement in law enforcement and national defense for precisely that reason. But let us not pretend that a monopoly on coercion and force necessarily equips the federal government to do *anything* else not related to those items well.

        “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,- it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” – often attributed to G.W., most likely apocryphal, nonetheless apropos 😉

      • Creigh says:

        Tracy, I’d argue that monopoly on use of force is more about taking away the legitimacy of force from everyone else, except in cases like self-defense. That concept is much older than the Constitution – think of the Biblical injunction “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.” And I see promoting the general welfare as encompassing more than just upholding and enforcing the rule of law.

    • johngalt says:

      ” I would submit that in this information age in which social media is ascendant, the private sector is actually *better* equipped to provide much of what government now monopolizes.”

      Specify what those things are, Tracy. Vague platitudes are unconvincing.

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, I’d like to know exactly “which” government services Tracy would relinquish.

      • Well, boys and girls, how about we start with the Department of Education? It’s only been around since 1979, and does not provide *any* single function that couldn’t be handled at the state or local level, or by private concerns. 2016 budget for DoEd is $216 billion dollars. DoEd permanent staff count is ~5,000. Surely, surely, you can live without the Department of Education?

      • 1mime says:

        Possibly, some parts of it; however, those who are receiving protected services under 504 would still require federal oversight. Tell me more, Tracy.

      • MassDem says:

        Tracy, just because you are ignorant of the functions of the Dept. of Education does not mean that it does nothing.

        For one thing, this Dept. distributes, administers and monitors all federal $$$ spent on educational programs in this country. Privatize that, and you’ll see a big chunk of that money going to some congressman’s relative or constituent who gets the contract for that work.

        This Dept. is also responsible for overseeing research on best educational practices and getting those results out to the public, Congress and the schools.

        Finally, the Dept. of Ed. enforces civil rights laws that apply to educational settings.

      • “For one thing, this Dept. distributes, administers and monitors all federal $$$ spent on educational programs in this country. Privatize that, and you’ll see a big chunk of that money going to some congressman’s relative or constituent who gets the contract for that work.”

        MassDem, are you really such a babe in the wood that you don’t recognize that’s going on in spades already? If you don’t extract those dollars from the taxpayer’s wallet in the first place, you won’t have to worry about some pol or pol’s crony lining their pockets with it. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be “privatized,” just do it at the state or local level, if you absolutely can’t stand the thought of not involving government. Just get the dang Feds out of it. “That government is best which is closest to the people.” – T.J.

      • 1mime, I don’t see any problem with federal involvement in an *enforcement* role (getting back to the federal government being good at coercion); just get the federal government out of the middleman role in the redistribution of tax dollars as education funds. It’s unnecessary, and an attractive nuisance to miscreants of all stripes.

      • 1mime says:

        You were rather broad in your condemnation, Tracy. Where’s the rest of your list?

      • MassDem says:

        Tracy, it is the sad truth that the reason these and other payments are made by the federal government to states is because blue state tax money is needed to prop up poorer red states (except Alaska, which exists on payments it extracts from the oil industry *cough* socialism).

        https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/

        Babe in the woods, indeed.

      • 1mime says:

        Glad you posted that MassDem. I get weary hearing conservatives pat themselves on the back for being such brilliant financial managers. A similarly interesting analysis concerns which political party has demonstrated the best economic performance. Once again, Democrats lead. When I follow the TX appropriation discussion and read about our state’s “balance” budget, I want to laugh. Sure, balanced by not sending dedicated tax revenues to the cost centers voters approved and using this unspent revenue as part of the balancing act, by cutting vital services and programs, by passing on costs to local counties that are mandated at the state level without state funding…I could go on and on.

        I believe it is called, “smoke and mirrors”, and if anyone doubts that conservatives are not guilty of this, they simply aren’t paying attention.

      • MassDem says:

        Thank you, 1mime.

        I should’ve said “subsidize” instead of “prop up”-less loaded term.
        I don’t think better economic performance in blue states is due to our political leanings. Massachusetts (actually metro Boston-western MA isn’t so well off) is blessed with a diverse economy, it’s a good location for global & interstate commerce, we have many fine public & private universities that are seedbeds for new industries etc. Actually, maybe it’s other way around-if your economy is good, you can afford to have a more liberal outlook as your life is governed more by hope than by fear, plus you have more discretionary funds at your disposal.

      • 1mime says:

        “The government is best that is closest to the people.” Ideally, Tracy, you and I would agree on that, except, and that is a “big” except, I have watched some really bad local and state government performance. Theoretically, let’s eliminate federal funding for public education – all $102.26 Billion dollars of it. Let’s see, that amount, which is spread over public education, private education (via grants and other allocations)higher education, veterans education, and numerous other cost centers, represents 2.65% of the entire federal budget, which is $3.8 Trillion dollars. We can debate all day as to whether the value received is commensurate with the dollars provided – THAT is a legitimate and worthy debate – but for a nation which wants to be an economic leader in the world? An educated citizenry provides the best bang for the buck.

        Here’s an interesting website you might enjoy perusing.

        https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/

      • flypusher says:

        “That government is best which is closest to the people.” – T.J.

        With Jim Crow being such a stellar example of that principle,

  18. 1mime says:

    Lifer, how do you define and identify “effective, responsible institutions?” If you talk to the Bundys or most Republicans, it’s not government. Are you really talking about institutionalized processes? If the average voter/person feels that this process is “rigged”, IOW, they don’t want their state senator to be a pre-determined delegate for Jeb, and, they want to at least “feel” that someone cares about what “they” want, how do the existing institutions/processes represent their needs? Is it all a “fait au complit” by the kingmakers at the top as people surmise? Could part of what we are seeing be a push-back from people (regardless how badly they are being manipulated) who feel they have zero input into the ultimate political process? Popular vote doesn’t really count as the electoral process (if not SCOTUS) controls the election of president. I’m not advocating for change but I am curious as to whether what we are seeing represents a restlessness and frustration from those who feel disenfranchised and have finally found a candidate who legitimizes their concerns.

    You have left me with many questions about what you are really thinking is going on here and, more significantly, whether the good outweighs the bad by empowering people who would normally not be a part of leadership. I have always felt that the Republican Party was a top-down institution. Does the GOP feel threatened with this surge of activism from the bottom up?

    • Carly Fiorina (for whom I will not be voting) has actually captured your sentiment quite well, 1mime: “Crony capitalism is alive and well and flourishes under big, powerful government. Because the bigger government gets, the more powerful and complicated it becomes, the more true it also is that only the big, the powerful, the wealthy and the well-connected can handle it and the small and the powerless get crushed.” Even WaPo has picked up on this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/28/carly-fiorina-just-said-a-fascinating-and-true-thing-about-crony-capitalism/

      • n1cholas says:

        Solution:

        Drown gub’mint in a bathtub, and I’ll finally be able to open up my grocery store and compete with WalMart!

        Hilarious analysis. Please, keep it up.

    • goplifer says:

      Your question points to a tragic fact about our current political climate – there are no conservatives anymore. If there were, then you, as someone who follows politics closely, would immediately recognize what I’m referring to. You might not agree with it, but you would be familiar with the basic concepts and arguments. You don’t, because no one is talking about the intrinsic value of institutions anymore.

      A civilization is the sum of its institutions. A healthy, vibrant, successful civilization is rich with a wide variety of open institutions, preferably ones with a long and even occasionally anachronistic history. A dysfunctional civilization, one of the brink of ceasing to exist, usually consists of a single monolithic institution (maybe the military, or the Dear Leader and his Administration) and the citizens, with nothing in between.

      These institutions, like the nominating process in Illinois, were put in place to filter some of the nastiest potential outcomes of a democratic system, in much the same way that the Bill of Rights was designed to prevent majoritarian tyranny. Those institutions need to evolve over time, and in fact this one has. However, there are some very good reasons that we put institutions in place to counter-balance the opinions of the kind of folks who are going to be Trump’s delegates. They are dangerous idiots. We have to let them participate, but we don’t have to let them drive.

      Our traditional institutions used to do a pretty good job of investing power in people who were at least minimally competent. We are dismantling those institutions, largely by simple personal divestment (the decline of social capital). We are not replacing the vital function those institutions served.

      American liberals used to dream of a world in which everyone, even the lowliest “common man” had their voices heard at the same volume and with the same weight as everyone else. Guess what, that’s happening, and it isn’t turning out to be anything like those liberals imagined.

      • Griffin says:

        I would disagree that there are no Burkean conservatives anymore. I think that functionally the New Democrats/Clintonites are functionally conservatives in the traditional sense of the word, even if their actual policies are considered centrist or even center-left (though I suppose most Burkean conservatives are functionally centrists in their respective nations).

        You might not like them but they are as close as it gets because all the self-declared “conservatives” are what Richard Hofstader would call “pseudo-conservatives” (https://theamericanscholar.org/the-pseudo-conservative-revolt/#.Vo3JGfkrLnA).

      • “We are dismantling those institutions, largely by simple personal divestment (the decline of social capital). We are not replacing the vital function those institutions served.”

        Chris, Burkean conservatives are not extinct. Your misapprehension appears to be rooted in the notion that only *government* institutions count. I submit to you that government institutions have outgrown their britches (and largely at the expense of non-governmental institutions), and it’s high time they be trimmed back to a more limited role in society. Personal divestment in government institutions only occurs when those institutions fail to deliver any perceived benefit to those who participate in them. That’s *exactly* what’s going on in this country at this point in time. A little institutional sturm and drang is entirely appropriate at this juncture in history.

      • piranha says:

        “American liberals used to dream of a world in which everyone, even the lowliest “common man” had their voices heard at the same volume and with the same weight as everyone else. Guess what, that’s happening, and it isn’t turning out to be anything like those liberals imagined.”

        I, for one, in my idealistic youth, imagined that common man to be well-educated. And I didn’t expect the prevalence of corruption among the leaders of common men. I also vastly underestimated human greed, and in how far capitalism uses that, and drives it to disastrous heights (or depths, as the case may be).

        So I am of two minds about this most recent upswelling of political interest born from inchoate rage. The common man taking a greater interest in politics pleases me, on its face — it definitely beats letting things go until the revolution becomes bloody. But clearly this greater interest is not always well-informed, and while it is more democratic in numbers, it’s actually less democratic in what those new numbers of people are (being egged into) wanting. At least that is how it goes on the Trump side.

        On the Bernie Sanders side, more of the supporters are better educated (at least sufficiently to be able to tell a New Deal progressive from a Marxist, *sigh*). But there are still astonishingly many low-information voters. And some crossover from the potential Trump camp, which I found flabbergasting at first, because Trump and Sanders don’t have much in common beyond railing at “politics as usual”.

        I still think more involvement in politics by more people is good, but how do you imbue them with respect and desire for knowledge in addition to their anger? I can see the rationale for anti-intellectualism (elitist snobs), but for that to descend into anti-education sentiments throws out the entire uterus with the bathwater. Add to that the Dunning-Kruger effect, and you have a really dismal outlook for participatory democracy.

        I just bought your book, which I gather, has suggestions for changes. Looking forward to reading it — your blog has convinced me that this will not be more Republican politics as usual. I used to be able to talk with conservatives, and I miss it.

      • “…to be able to tell a New Deal progressive from a Marxist.”

        Well, piranha, to be honest, to a Lockean/Burkean conservative, one breed of leftist totalitarian looks much like another. It’s hard to distinguish fine nuance when you’re busy trying to hold on to wallet and your liberty at the same time. 😉

      • 1mime says:

        Is it just me, or, is it almost always those with the greatest means who gripe the most about paying taxes?

        Sorry, had to get that off my chest.

      • piranha says:

        @Tracy Thorleifson — I highly recommend to anyone not being able to tell the difference between a New Deal progressive and a Marxist to actually talk in-depth with somebody who has lived in a communist state. It will convey some salient differences post haste. Though that’s not entirely fair to Marxism, it will at least approach what losing your liberty is really like (and it will make obvious that concern for one’s wallet would be the least of one’s worries).

        I admit though, I am not sure what a Burkean conservative actually believes in this day and age. Burke thought church and state were inseparable, democracy was a threat to social stability, government had to be based on virtuous principles. Burke believed the upper class, being cultured, educated, and wealthy property owners, were the only ones able to lead, in part because they were insulated from corruption (ha), in part because they were culturally and intellectually superior since they inherited some deep racial/social wisdom; the class system was natural and god-given. None of those ideas came in isolation for Burke, they were inextricably, holistically entwined, and I don’t see how you can only pull some things out and still call it Burkean.

        I don’t think he cared either about liberty nor his wallet as primary motivators. But it’s been a long time since I read Burke, and I’ve forgotten much.

    • goplifer says:

      So far, the best work on the vital importance of healthy institutions to a civilization: http://whynationsfail.com/preface/

  19. Creigh says:

    “Democracy without effective, responsible institutions is a dangerous mess.”

    GOPlifer in one sentence?

  20. Anse says:

    Who controls a political party? The party leadership? Voters? I get a sense that the GOP is going through something similar to what the Democratic Party went through in the 1960’s/70’s. The Democrats went Left and repulsed a considerable portion of their traditional base, the conservative white Southern populist voter. Those voters found a home in the GOP over the course of a few decades of transition. But the Democrats survived.

    Now the GOP has to confront a truth that the party leadership seems to have ignored or downplayed for a long time. David Frum’s excellent piece for The Atlantic spelled out the great error of the GOP establishment: that the Tea Party was a rising movement of traditional conservative ideologues who embraced “the views of the Wall Street Journal editorial section”, I believe were his words (or close to it). But they were wrong.

    So if the GOP establishment successfully repels this Trump candidacy, where do Trump’s supporters go? When the Dems made their transition, the angry populists went to the GOP. If the GOP turns them away, what’s next for them? They sure aren’t going to go the Democrats.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Isn’t it funny (and telling) that in both cases (the schism of the Dems in the 60’s and the schism in the GOP today) the problem in both situations was the cancerous racist, uneducated Southern Voter? Which was also the main cause of the Civil War.

      Its incredibky ironicnthat throughout American history the same group has been responsible for most of the problems, but is the most vocal about what they feel the “problems” are? Put another way, the group that talks most about how patriotic they are are in fact the most unpatriotic group in American History.

      • 1mime says:

        Too bad we didn’t just let the South secede! Let ’em stew in their own mess…..uh oh, I live in the South…..gee….I’d have to move….one day I just might…….

  21. flypusher says:

    “If Trump wins Illinois he’ll be sending to the RNC a food service manager from a juvenile detention center, a daycare worker from a Christian School, an unemployed paralegal, a grocery store warehouse manager, one brave advocate for urban chicken farming, a dog breeder, and a guy who runs a bait shop. ”

    There’s certainly diversity there, I’ll give them that. This could be the craziest convention scene since ’68. Go long on popcorn futures!

    • 1mime says:

      There’s a perverse side to this that is making me smile…..until I realize that these changes are unlikely to end with the GOP. That’s both the good and the bad news.

      • flypusher says:

        Jefferson did have a vision of people from all different professions/ walks if life taking turns in the government. But he was also counting on educating people. This is something that can be very, very good, or very, very bad, and the ratio of education to ignorance is the key.

      • 1mime says:

        It occurs to me that we have an interesting parallel between what is happening in the political arena and in our justice system. We are seeing ordinary people aspire to top level involvement in the political process who lack the sophistication, commitment to party ideology across the board, and may not be as well educated or affluent as the traditional party leadership. The same situation is possible in a jury. It is not unusual that the jury composition lacks the sophistication, education and position of the individual they are charged to evaluate. Yet, somehow, this jury of “one’s peers?” mostly it works.

        Is the implied idea that “ordinary” people should not aspire to participate at the top levels of the political process. Is that what some are thinking here?

      • flypusher says:

        I’m fine with ordinary people who don’t deny reality and/or subscribe to whacked out conspiracy theories.

        As for jury selection, there’s a process in need of some reforms.

      • 1mime says:

        Agree, Fly, but the broader point is that “ordinary” people have been closed out of the political process. Just as I want competence in elected officials and government employees, I want the process to be representative of more than billionaires and entrenched political leadership. That is my point.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        2mime, with response to the jury system, I would say that one works because the people ARE educated.

        ‘Education” in this sense shouldn’t be construed as meaning formal education. All it means is that, in laymen’s terms, the person making the decision should have a clue about what they’re doing, and how to conceptualize the situation their in.

        In the case of a jury, their “education” is provided by the judge, who charges the jury before deliberation, often spelling out the concept of “reasonable doubt” as well as stressing that all defendents have the presumption of innocence and the civic duty implicit in serving.

        Political leaders have no such forced crash course to educate themselves on the history, expectations, and context of the decisions that they are tasked with making.

      • 1mime says:

        Political leaders have no such crash course…..They have parents….They have a Party… sometimes a leader has to make decisions based upon little more than common sense and a moral center…..therein lies the problem, Rob.

        BTW, everyone here probably thinks there are (2) 1Mimes, but there’s just little old gabby me (-:

  22. 1mime says:

    The parts of your post that are most interesting to me are the empowerment of the “average” man/woman within the GOP campaign process, and the complete upheaval of the traditional campaign process instituted almost single-handedly by one bellicose candidate. That is important and significant and, long overdue. Like it or not, it brings an honesty to the campaign process that is healthy even if unsettling and unpleasant. Democrats need to pay attention and learn from this seismic shift within GOP politics. To assume this is a phenomenon that applies only to Republicans (who have been due for a serious course correction), is to completely ignore social and cultural changes roiling our society. We may not “like” the changes or be smart enough to learn from them, but it is also clear that we no longer “control” them through the artificial apparatus of party structure. Similarly, it will be interesting to see if those who are stimulating the change will be happy with the results springing from the exercise of new-found political expression. 2016 will be an election for the record books.

    • Tom says:

      I think that misses the point. There is nothing wrong with empowering the “average” man/woman; in fact both parties already do this. But there is a difference between getting involved as a precinct chair or county convention delegate and getting involved as a national convention delegate. The real issue is that a lot of people who want to “get involved” think that means starting at the top.

      • 1mime says:

        I totally understand that, Tom. My comment was meant to acknowledge that the process has the “potential” to invert. I think there is a hunger in America for a political process that is more responsive to average citizen interest and participation – to eliminate the “control” and “scripting” of every aspect of the process by a privileged cast of characters. Grassroots campaigning is interesting and exciting. Evidently many average participants want more. Frankly, I find this refreshing even if unsettling.

        This is the “age of the individual”, whether we’re talking about gun rights, campaigns, or federal land ownership. Politics in the modern era involve massive amounts of money, sophisticated media and computerization of every voter’s profile. It’s no longer just knocking on doors, or participating in a phone bank even though these elements are important and honest vehicles in which the average person has full access to. The process is much more complex now and I’ll bet that the party machinery doesn’t want any Tom, Dick, or Harry (or Jane) screwing up the outcome. They want total control of platform, message and outcome. That’s the way it has been, especially in the Republican Party, and that is what is at risk. That is neither an argument for or against unsophisticated participation, it is simply an acknowledgement that the process has changed and people are feeling left out. Trump has found a way to blow past this artificial constraint by breaking all the rules. People are responding to that because they feel he understands their needs. Never mind that he is manipulating them, he is saying what they wish they could say, and they like it.

      • Creigh says:

        I’d be happy if they started getting involved by voting. At the local basketball game 14,000 patriotic people get up and sing the National Anthem. Number who voted citywide in the school board election? 8,000.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s the damn truth, Creigh!

      • goplifer says:

        ***I’d be happy if they started getting involved by voting.***

        I used to agree with you. I don’t anymore. America doesn’t have any problems that can solved with more democracy.

        Across all of recent history, the single most successful example of the kind of mass local involvement you allude to comes from Wasilla, Alaska. A young Sarah Palin won her race for Mayor by generating levels of community participation no one had ever seen before. A campaign for a highly technical administrative office was run on issues like abortion and the decline of Christian values.

        I live in a very well-run community. The only people paying attention to local affairs are a large bloc of older people who have been here a long time, a thinner layer of professional types interested in public administration, and a handful of lunatics who buzz around the microphone at every public meeting. Things work really well almost all of the time while participation hovers at a low level. When participation surges, it’s almost always because the lunatics hit a chord on some issue that got distorted and misunderstood on some school email distribution list.

      • 1mime says:

        Let me see if I am getting your message, Lifer: “Only smart, propertied, educated” people should vote? The rest are not worthy because they are poor, or uneducated, uninformed or just plain nuts? Come on, Lifer. That’s an elitist, privileged point of view. Please tell me I totally misunderstood your comment. Democracy means people like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump and Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell do get to run for office and sadly, sometimes even get elected. All those “Trumpsters” out there who are buying into the crap he is spewing? Yeah, I disagree with their reasoning and most of what he is saying, but, their and his right to participate fully in the process? Totally for that. The political process is supposed to weed out nutjobs and those who lack sound moral judgement. Sometimes it misses – badly. Like it or not, “these” people are clamoring to be heard. They want “in”.

        I am really looking forward to some clarification of your views on this subject. The one point we agree upon is that we don’t need “more of the ‘same’ Democracy that is working best for a privileged few. Democracy can work just as government works. It’s imperfect but it’s absolutely necessary. Republicans and Democrats should and can work together to handle the nation’s business and their responsibility therein. What cannot continue is a nation that is so divided that family can’t have a discussion at holiday gatherings due to politics, and that income disparity is leaving so many behind, and the political process excludes – deliberately – those who are deemed “unfit” to participate. That’s not how I envision a true Democracy even though I am appalled at the messages, the actions and frankly, many of the people who represent them. Those people staked out in OR? They have abused their rights as citizens and they need to be prosecuted and jailed. Much worse goes on behind the scenes in the political process that we never see and for which there is little accountability. Ever.

      • flypusher says:

        “A campaign for a highly technical administrative office was run on issues like abortion and the decline of Christian values.”

        So are people like that (who vote on culture wars issues that have zip to do with the duties of the office) a lost cause (in terms of restoring sanity) here? Is the only realistic counter an appeal of “hey those NJs are voting, you better get out there and help cancel them out”? Not very inspiring.

      • goplifer says:

        ***“Only smart, propertied, educated” people should vote?***

        No.

        We should carefully maintain a system that filters the raw democratic process through institutions that prioritize and promote both ideas and people that demonstrate competence. Like, for example, a system in Illinois that identifies delegates to a political convention not merely by winning the most votes, but through a process that requires years of commitment and accountability combined with a democratic process (voting in a primary).

        Democracy, through voting, coupled with accountability delivered through established institutions, gives us an electoral process less vulnerable to wild public mood swings.

        Those institutions can grow too powerful. That happens sometimes, as with police and educators unions in older northern states. Even then, reining in the power of those institutions should be handled with care. Critical processes that matter to the public were built on the assumption that those institutions would exist.

        Balance. It is good.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, I am going to disagree with you here. Years of involvement has earned privilege within the political process at the expense of the democratic process. Your community is well run….I assume your community is affluent as well. High property taxes, many professionals, well educated, etc. Good for you and your family. Unfortunately, there are millions – millions of people who don’t have this situation….some because they didn’t earn it; many because they can’t climb out of a bad situation. If the process is always ‘controlled’ by those who have the time and means (and interest) how do all these other people participate? Do you really think their needs are understood or represented by the “chosen” ones? Isn’t this precisely what the current furor indicates?

        Nope. Democracy as it has come to function is in trouble. The same old, same old group of principally white, affluent men is calling the shots, as usual. Do I support nut jobs in leadership of either party? No, but, neither do I support a closed process. This year, this election, this outpouring of public frustration is shouting to the heavens that the system is not working! If we listen and understand the message, it is possible that we can encourage grassroots participation that can be very positive for our nation – even if the outcome is not assured. Isn’t that the point of a popular election?

        Can’t go along with you there Lifer. The old guard need to open the windows and let a little infresh air. I believe the Republican Party is too rigidly organized…which may improve efficiency and control of outcome, but it sure as heck locks a lot of people out of the process.

      • MassDem says:

        I read a book a year or so ago written by a guy named Mike Lofgren who has a fair bit of experience with how government works, or doesn’t work. The title, amusingly enough, is “The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted”.

        What is supposed to happen in government is that competing interests are supposed to balance each other out, and a compromise acceptable to all (or at least most everybody) would be reached. In Lofgren’s view, this is no longer the case: while powerful Republicans have become an ideologically rigid, authoritarian and anti-intellectual party, the Democrats, who appear more sane and claim to represent interests of the have-nots, are just as much in thrall to the plutocracy (I hate to say, he does have a point there).

        Lofgren’s solutions are:
        -only allow public financing of campaigns
        -have all congressional districts drawn by nonpartisan commissions (no more gerrymandering, Massachusetts’ gift to the nation)
        -television stations would be required to give free & limited time to all qualified candidates
        -start enforcing anti-trust laws again
        -no more phony-baloney (my term) charitable organizations/covert lobbying groups
        -dispense with unnecessary “cultural baggage” such as the belief in American Exceptionalism as it leads to bogus and wasteful military adventures
        and so on.

        It’s a really good read. I highly recommend it, as a follow-up to “Politics of Crazy” of course.

        http://www.amazon.com/Party-Over-Republicans-Democrats-Useless/dp/0143124218/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452192832&sr=8-1&keywords=the+party+is+over+by+lofgren

      • 1mime says:

        I think Lofgren has it figured out just right. Thanks for the link. I just ordered Lakoff’s “Don’t Think Like an Elephant”, and this sounds like a great companion read.

  23. Tom says:

    To be fair, Trump’s delegates sound quite a bit like a slate of Libertarian Party convention delegates.

    Which makes sense: Trump is essentially running a third-party candidacy while (nominally) competing for the Republican nomination. It shouldn’t be surprising that his slate of delegates would not be Republican Party regulars.

    • goplifer says:

      that’s true, but those guys don’t regularly land on the convention floor at a major national convention. And they have never pulled off a petition process like this one before (they use a state convention). This is unprecedented.

  24. MassDem says:

    I don’t understand why this matters. The conventions are little more than pep rallies before the general election, and the leadership writes the platform, not the delegates, so why does it matter who gets to go, as long as they vote for their guy or gal. Are you worried that they’ll do something bizarre on TV, like talk to an empty chair or something?

    And if the Republican Party does split over Trump, who gets to keep the brand? The establishment or the Tea Party types with the activist base? Not that it’s any of my business.

    • goplifer says:

      The convention delegates vote on platform planks. The platform committee consists of delegates. This hasn’t mattered at any point in modern history because the nominee was always pretty clear (76 is not an exception, longer story). This is the first time we’ve faced the possibility of an un-brokered fight on a major convention floor.

      Imagine trying to navigate through that days-long battle trying to manage this collection of delegates…

      No idea who keeps the party brand or how any of that plays out. No precedent.

    • Methinks the GOP convention this year may very much be a horse of a different color.

  25. stephen says:

    I am beginning to wonder if Trump might actually win the primary. He has deep support in Florida. I still doubt he could win the general election but I have under estimated this guy so far

    • goplifer says:

      I can tell you this much with a high degree of confidence – He will not be the nominee for the Republican Party as presently constituted. He might “win” a lot of primaries. He might even, by some remarkable achievement, seat a majority of delegates. The party simply will not line up behind him. If he has enough delegates in Cleveland to secure the nomination then the party breaks apart. And, by the way, I cease to be such a lonely figure.

      • vikinghou says:

        If the party splits during the Convention, would we witness a mass walkout of delegates from one of the sides? That would be quite a spectacle.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @viikinghou: There’s no precedent for anything like that in modern political history, so the repercussions are anyone’s guess. I am by no means an expert on the inner machinations of political conventions, but if Trump secures the nomination and the party splits, then it’s just a cascading avalanche of question after question…

        What happens to all the Republican candidates across the country? Do they even call themselves Republicans anymore, and if so, who do they side with, the establishment or the base? What about all the already elected Republican officials across the country? Who do THEY side with? What does the establishment do in the face of such an absolute farce? Do they make some far-fetched attempt at running a third-party candidate as some kind of protest or do they just stand back and watch the chaos unfold? And most importantly of all, what rises out of the ashes of such a historical event?

      • n1cholas says:

        This is pretty much what I’ve been predicting and hoping for since Trump showed strong support. In fact, I’m the first to predict Trump’s numbers staying over whatever percent you set as a standard until the day after he loses the general.

        The Republican party (base) is, in essence, Trump. There are old-school grifter subtype Republicans still in it, but they’ve been stoking the fascist/reactionary base for the past 45 years, and they realize that if they stop stoking, the resulting lack of air pushing on that flame is going to engulf them.

        You’re sane, rational, and reasonable. There is literally no reason why you should identify with the current Republican party. I understand the importance of conservatism in holding back inefficient and harmful liberal ideals and policies. I really do. But the Republican party as presently constructed (for now) is a reactionary fascist cesspool of repeatedly proven wrong politicians and policies. At best, Trump splits the Republican party like the Whig party, and perhaps some sane, rational and reasonable center-right Democrats can join with a few sane, rational and reasonable rightwing Republicans to salvage the brand name and provide the loyal opposition liberals need to be efficient/effective/productive.

      • Eljay says:

        The party simply will not line up behind him.

        Fully agree. I read the delegate awarding process of a few states and came away with only this:

        The Party Will Decide.

        Uncle Joe had it exactly right about voting and counting.

      • 1mime says:

        So, nothing has changed.

      • MassDem says:

        The Party didn’t split, but there was quite a bit of unpleasantness at the 1964 Republican Convention. A little bit of deja vu–too many choices among the moderate candidates in 1964 led to the conservative candidate winning the nomination. Only now it’s too many choices among the more sane candidates, letting the crazy choice win.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1964#Republican_Party

      • John Adkins says:

        Wow…..are you really that uninformed……it is refreshing to see a candidate chose the average Joe…instead of going with the normal party elites who trade their votes or choices for personal gain.

        As things stand today Trump has the best chance of being the nominee, once the establishment bottom suckers get a hint of that they will all come running to jump on board.

        I am a Trump delegate, choosing to do so very early on because of what I perceived as his willingness to take on our unfair trade and the illegal immigration.

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