Looking back on GOPLifer predictions

From its beginnings after the 2008 election, the GOPLifer project was driven by foreboding. Republicans had, through a combination of denial and neglect, allowed dangerous forces to build. Absent some drastic intervention from the party’s sharper, braver minds, it seemed obvious that those forces would continue to gain energy and eventually blow the party apart.

Prediction was central to the blog’s mission. The entire project was an interpretation of an emerging future. If those projections failed to materialize, then perhaps the rest of the project’s assessments should be questioned. With that in mind it was necessary to constantly revisit old predictions as a weathervane for the future.

Reviewing old predictions one miserable pattern becomes clear. GOPLifer was wrong whenever it assumed the best about the party’s future and right about nearly everything else.

What GOPLifer got wrong can be boiled down to two words: Donald Trump. The reason is simple. I was right about the absolute loathing for Trump felt by nearly everyone in the party infrastructure. I was right that party leaders and grassroots organizers saw him as a catastrophic threat. I believed that prominent figures in the party possessed the courage and the influence to stop Trump and the alt-right from seizing control of the institution. That’s what I got wrong.

I never seriously considered the possibility that Paul Ryan would take the stage on national television to help Donald Trump steamroll opposition at the convention. It never occurred to me that a figure as prominent as Scott Walker would be so spineless as to back Trump. Across the better part of a decade my predictions about the party were largely on target until I placed some faith in the character of our leadership. The Republican Party as an institution is far weaker and sicker than I ever dared imagine. My predictions for the future of the party were consistently too conservative, too hedged.

What did the blog get right? For years I argued that the GOP was descending into a white nationalist party. The party’s growing appeal among lower income whites motivated by race was no surprise. I described it in the results from the 2012 election.

Before the first votes were cast in the 2012 Republican primaries I described what they meant for the 2016 race. The party had exhausted its supply of credible Presidential successors. The 2012 nominating field foretold a 2016 race which would be dominated by nutjobs. In the summer before the 2012 election, GOPLifer described the Republican demographic nightmare taking shape in polling data and historical trends.

In 2010, while the press was treating her as the Republican Presidential frontrunner, GOPLifer explained why Sarah Palin would never try to hold another elected office. For years I shouted that the Tea Party was nothing more than a vehicle for white racial fears. As such, the rise of the Tea Party was not a sign of renewed Republican energy, but a prelude to complete irrelevance.

When Republican leaders released their 2012 autopsy explaining the need for minority outreach, I explained why this goal would be very difficult to reach.

While Republicans crowed over the 2014 midterm results, GOPLifer identified the “death-cross” hiding in the data. Those results demonstrated that at the Presidential level, Republicans now faced a “Blue Wall” large enough to lock them out of competition for the White House for the indefinite future. I explained that Virginia and New Hampshire were now beyond reach for a Republican nominee. I also explained that Georgia was moving into play at the federal level. Also in 2014 I explained that Republicans had a 0% chance of holding the Senate beyond 2016.

Late in 2014 when Jeb Bush was assumed to be the Republican front-runner, GOPLifer explained why he was doomed. The blog explained that the 2016 nomination would belong to the guy who threw away the racist dogwhistle in favor of an explicit white nationalist (“Neo-Confederate) campaign. At that time, months before Donald Trump entered the race, that candidate was Ted Cruz. Cruz instead finished second to Trump.

Last summer I explained how the Trump’s campaign paralleled the collapse of the party’s most recent ancestor, the Whig’s. That combination of racism and regionalism is a political death spiral. Political parties can and do die.

With Trump came a series of GOPLifer miscalculations based on underestimating Republican cowardice. The blog identified the reasons why Republican criticism of Trump failed, but down to the wire I still overestimated the willingness of leaders to take a principled position against Trump at the convention.

What’s still ahead? Trump’s deficit will widen as we approach Election Day. Futility feeds a landslide. If he could get within five or six points uneasy Republicans might close ranks. That’s not going to happen. With no hope for victory, people who have voted Republican in the past will abandon ship in droves. Senate and Congressional races will be a bloodbath. Republicans will definitely lose the Senate, might lose the House, but will almost certainly avoid a super-minority (40 seats or less) in the Senate.

This is the end of the road for America’s second party. There is no force left with the influence or vision to restore some relevance to this coalition. At the state level across much the country the party remains dominant, but those state parties in places like Texas and Georgia have nothing to offer voters in the rest of the country. They are held together by nothing other than the paranoid delusions of aging (dying) white racists. Meanwhile a younger generation is emerging which is solidly hostile to the GOP, even in deep red states.

The future of the Republican Party is that there is no future. A Republican nominee for President in 2020 might enter the race in tight competition with third parties.

In retrospect, the blog managed to accurately diagnose the party’s condition and predict the consequences of our direction. Meanwhile, it utterly failed to steer the party away from calamities. It would have been nice to be a little less right and a lot more influential. In the end GOPLifer was a fine writing outlet and a political failure.

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Posted in blue wall, Election 2016, Republican Party, Uncategorized

Link Roundup, 8/23/2016

From National Geographic: On the plus side of the climate change equation, you can now enjoy a luxury cruise through the Northwest Passage.

From Gizmodo: How South Florida will disappear.

From the Big Picture: A graphic of the world’s largest companies over time.

From Bloomberg: What costs more and less since 1996.

From AP: The crusading morons at Wikileaks are starting to cause serious harm to innocent people.

From the GOPLifer archives: Has our technology outrun our biological limits?


Posted in Uncategorized

Clinton Karma

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 9.22.21 AMThe collapse of communism presented America with an opportunity. Unfortunately, by 1998 our inattention had left us adrift. Financial crises were shaking the new Russian Republic. Yugoslavia was continuing its bloody disintegration. Framed by these daunting challenges, The Leader of the Free World took the podium beside the inspirational and iconic Czech President, Vaclav Havel, to take control of the narrative.

That plan didn’t survive three minutes. Once the preliminaries were out of the way, the press began to explore the most pressing question in the room – could President Clinton still lead the country. At this moment when the world looked to its lone superpower for a path toward a new global order, that superpower was otherwise engaged, hopelessly distracted by the sordid politics of a banana republic.

By the summer of 1998, the Clinton Administration had lost its capacity to govern. President Clinton, the Bill Cosby of politics, had sexually harassed one woman too many. In an effort to conceal a mind-bogglingly stupid tryst with a subordinate less than half his age, Clinton had perjured himself in a deposition. That deposition had risen from yet another episode of workplace harassment. For the final three years of his Administration, Bill Clinton was little more than a professional defendant. The Clinton Administration devolved into a drama that could have been co-written by Mike Judge and William Faulkner.

There was no reason for the country to be hostage to Clinton’s demons. A capable Vice-President could have stepped up at any moment to take charge without compromising any of the Administration’s political goals. There is no evidence that Bill or Hillary Clinton ever considered putting the needs of the country above their own vaulting ambitions. America would continue on auto-pilot while the Clintons borrowed its resources to protect and promote themselves. Hillary Clinton, “feminist” and “advocate for women’s rights” stood shoulder to shoulder with her husband the serial harasser in defense of nothing more noble than her own ambitions.

Bill and Hillary Clinton’s decision to insulate themselves from the consequences of his actions put the 2000 Democratic nominee in a nearly impossible situation. Their choices practically handed that race to one of the most catastrophically inept men ever to hold the office.

For all they took from the country, for all they dragged us through, the Clintons have never yet expressed any sentiment on the matter beyond their own narcissistic sense of persecution. To this day, we are all supposed to pretend that they were the victims.

I was disgusted by the Clintons for their blithe willingness to place ambition ahead of duty. I have despised them for their smug, self-serving politics, smothered beneath a treacly, sanctimonious veneer. Through naked self-interest and shameless abuse of power they have managed to convert a string of government jobs in to a nine-figure fortune.

After years of loathing, I am about to cast a vote to send a Clinton to the White House. Not only will I be voting for Hillary Clinton, I will do it in gratitude for her leadership. A Clinton is now all that stands between the country I love and a dangerous megalomaniac nominated by my former partisans. I am counting on Hillary Clinton to save us all.

As the sickness in the Republican Party has deepened, we can look back and see a far more complex moral portrait of the Clinton Administration. Clinton was not unique in his actions or attitudes. The stunningly hypocritical, self-serving, partisan prosecution of the President by ambitious Congressmen did more harm to the country than Bill Clinton’s abuses.

While Clinton was on trial for lying about employee sexual harassment, Republican Congressman pressing for his impeachment included the following seedy creeps:

Newt Gingrich

While Gingrich was orchestrating Clinton’s impeachment he was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife with a pretty, young Congressional staffer. He later divorced his wife and married the object of his affair. Among the endlessly clanging ironies of their skeevy existence, the two of them now make a handsome living producing documentaries and children’s books (!!!) about character.

Gingrich hasn’t been as financially successful as the Clinton’s but not because scruples have stood in his way. He performed lobbying for Freddie Mac in the run-up to the financial crisis and built a dubious “think tank” that covered many of his expenses. He now has a (reported) net worth in excess of $6m.

Bob Livingston

When Gingrich’s scandals forced him to step down in the middle of the impeachment campaign, Livingston tried to succeed him. He failed after his own extra-marital affairs were exposed. On his resignation, he was succeeded by hard-core Christian Conservative David Vitter, who would later be exposed for his relationships with prostitutes. Livingston now enjoys a successful career as a lobbyist.

Mark Foley

One of Mark Foley’s signature issues in office, apart from the Clinton prosecution, was an effort to ban the commercial photography of children. He claimed that child modeling was little more than “a fix for pedophiles.” Perhaps instead of mocking his bizarre fixation we should have taken more seriously the man’s veiled cry for help.

Foley would resign over his sexual harassment of male, teenaged Congressional pages. He had been asking them for explicit photos in online chat sessions. He would go on to open a charming consignment shop in West Palm Beach while building a successful lobbying career.

Larry Craig

After his years of noisy anti-Clinton, anti-gay, “pro-family” grandstanding, Rep. Craig would be arrested for soliciting gay sex in the Minneapolis airport bathroom. He refused to resign his Senate seat after his arrest and subsequent guilty plea were made public. In a now-legendary interview with Matt Lauer Senator Craig awkwardly denied the gayness while Lauer ran through a laundry list of previous accusations. Craig’s wife managed to hold a tense smile through the whole, super-hetero exercise.

Here’s what Larry Craig had to say about Bill Clinton in 1999. Let me emphasize that this is not satire and I am not making this up: “The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy – a naughty boy. I’m going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.” Oh, that nasty, naughty boy…

Craig is now a lobbyist for the coal industry.

Vito Fossella

Rep. Fossella had this to say about his vote for the Clinton Impeachment, “People are so turned off, so disgusted, so nervous about their children reading or learning about this salacious stuff that they may want it over and done with and fast.”

Fossella, who reportedly refuses to attend family events if they involve his gay sister, has a child through an adulterous relationship. It is likely no one would have discovered the relationship if Fossella hadn’t been arrest for DUI. Again, I’m not making this up, his DUI followed his attendance that day of a welcome ceremony for the Irish Prime Minister. Seriously.

And of course, Fossella now enjoys a successful lobbying career.

Dennis Hastert

Do you like wrestling? Maybe you do, but I bet you don’t like wrestling as much as former Republican Speaker of the House Denny Hastert does!

While voting to impeach Bill Clinton, Hastert was working to conceal evidence that he had raped boys he had coached on his wrestling team. Over the years he spent almost a million dollars in hush money to keep the allegations quiet. His actions only surfaced after financial irregularities related to the payments were discovered. A substantial portion of his legal defense was paid with funds from a PAC he had established.

Hastert of course, was a successful lobbyist. And a serial child molester. Now he is in prison.

Ken Starr

As the Special Prosecutor assigned to harry the Clinton Administration, Starr was relentless in pursuit of allegations against the President. On the narrowest of legal grounds he pressed the country into a Constitutional crisis over claims that Bill Clinton was covering up infidelity.

Over time he seems to have mellowed on the subject of sexual misconduct and even rape. In 2010 he became President of Baylor University and launched an aggressive campaign to build a lucrative football powerhouse. When students who had been raped by Baylor football players appealed to the school for help, their accusations were suppressed, investigations were mishandled, and the school aggressively protected its prized football program.

When victims began to press the matter Waco police moved into action and the cases were pursued. Two players in question are now serving prison sentences for rape. A damning independent investigation solicited by the school led to Starr’s resignation and the firing of the football coach.

As recently as June, Starr described the coach as “an iconic father figure who is a genius.” After all, nothing says “father figure” like helping to cover up a young man’s rapes.

Starr reportedly plans to continue his spirited legal activism in support of religious liberty.

There is not enough room in a blog post to reference all of the affairs, out of wedlock children, arrests, convictions, and other shenanigans of the Republican Congressmen who rode their high horses into battle against the Clintons. Names include Henry Hyde, Dan Burton, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Strom Thurmond, Pete Dominici, Helen Chenowith and on and on and on. In case you’re wondering, almost all of them who are still alive and not in prison are now successful lobbyists.

If anything at all distinguishes Bill Clinton from his prosecutors, it’s their hypocrisy and the Clintons’ subsequent record of service. Fast forward twenty years and the Clintons have existed under almost universal public scrutiny without a single subsequent instance of wrongdoing. Hillary Clinton has had years of her email communications turned over to her frothing enemies on Capitol Hill and they uncovered nothing worth pursuing.

Would I and other Americans prefer to see a man or woman of untarnished character in the White House? Absolutely, but we aren’t going to get that opportunity in 2016. And on a more unsettling note, we’ve had almost sixteen years under the leadership of Presidents who were paragons of personal virtue and family values. On further reflection that kind of moral character, as a qualification for running the free world, might be just a bit over-rated.

Having mercilessly derided the Clintons for decades, I am now counting on one of them to rescue America. While many of Clinton’s prosecutors have ended their careers in disgrace, Hillary Clinton is on her way to the highest office in the land. If she can defend us as doggedly and capably as she defended her husband and herself, we will all be in very good capable hands.

Karma is a bitch…in a pantsuit.

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Posted in Election 2016, Uncategorized

How the GOP will change after Trump

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 4.52.27 PM

Our “reasonable” alternative

How much will the Republican Party change after the Trumpocalypse? Zero. Nada. None at all.

Leaders at every level have signaled that white nationalism is now acceptable in the Party of Lincoln. From Paul Ryan to Scott Walker to Marco Rubio, senior figures have confirmed that tax cuts are a higher priority on the Republican agenda than basic human rights and civil liberties.

No one can unring that bell.

Many Republicans fantasize that after Trump’s defeat the party will execute a miraculous “pivot,” restoring sanity and regaining some semblance of relevance. Unfortunately, our embrace of racist groups will dictate the party’s short, grim future. A change of direction is impossible because all of the party’s feedback mechanisms have been systematically dismantled.

The Politics of Crazy has eroded the social capital institutions that once blunted the influence of dumb ideas and daffy candidates. A conservative entertainment complex has destroyed any means by which Republican voters might confront dissonant information. Whatever organizational structure the party once enjoyed has been replaced by a vampire squid of grift, a matrix of interconnected cons funneling contributions down a bottomless hole.

Very few of the people who built this mess have any stake in the outcome. If RNC Chairman Reince Priebus fails to retain his position next year, he’ll leave the worst job on the planet to quadruple his income (at least) with a fat position on K street. For Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the rest of the conservative entertainment complex, the show will go on without pausing to apologize. The same people who bought tickets to see Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America will fork over more cash for next year’s low-budget sequel. Nobody pays for getting it wrong.

With the party stripped of feedback mechanisms, Trump’s defeat will do nothing to interrupt the GOP’s decline. The kind of people who think climate change is a hoax aren’t going to reconsider their life choices just because some guy lost an election.

The Reagan coalition is dead, but the remaining members can’t smell the corpse. They don’t understand why their rhetoric falls flat. They have no idea why younger voters have rejected them. They can’t comprehend why their policies are failing in the places that have adopted them. Most of all, they refuse to rethink the positions and rhetoric that have driven non-white voters from the party.

After November, Republican leadership will pretend that Trump was some kind of anomaly, an act of God like a hurricane or earthquake. There will be so-called “reforms.” Fresh slogans will be spray-painted over the same flaming dumpster. Smiling, cooperative, “well-spoken” black people will be paraded on stage at Republican events all over the country. No effort to soften the party’s tone will change the fact that 70% of Republican primary voters supported either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in 2016. Those voters aren’t going to get smarter overnight. They aren’t going to reflect on their choices. And they aren’t going away.

Absent a fundamental reconstruction of the party it will never again nominate a competitive candidate for President. That reconstruction isn’t coming anytime soon, because there are no forces in the party capable of delivering it.

What does this mean for the party’s future?

The party’s shift toward a more open white nationalism is a terminal event that will play out across the next four years. Big losses in 2016 will probably be tempered somewhat by a fleeting recovery in 2018. Forces that boost Republicans in off-year races remain at work, though they continue to weaken. A few wins in 2018 will not be enough to staunch the bleeding.

By 2020 the demographic forces that have driven the party out of contention nationally will be impossible to ignore. That will be the first election in which a significant number of millennials have hit the real voting age – 35 – the age at which people start to participate reliably in politics. In the next Presidential election millennials will be nearly 40% of eligible voters. Beyond 2020 they will completely dominate our politics.

Their coming of age will coincide with the emergence of a massive younger wave of Hispanic voters, far more politically engaged than their parents. These two forces are the hammer and anvil waiting to crush the weakened remnants of the GOP. Their arrival in serious numbers will finally break the party’s state and local successes in nominally red states that have large urban areas.

Whatever talk show host or religious fanatic the GOP nominates in 2020 will enter the race polling just ahead of the Libertarians and Greens. If that sounds unlikely, take a look at Trump’s current polling in Utah and New York. The future is now.

At this point there’s only one thing that can rescue the Republican Party – the Democratic Party. In this political climate, a Democratic coalition large enough to win 55% of the vote in a Presidential election is too large to be structurally sound.

There’s reason to believe that Democrats might suffer their own Politics of Crazy-style disaster. In 2016 Democrats came very close to nominating the left’s version of Ron Paul. Based on that 2016 close call, 2020 could be rocky. Larger social, economic, and political forces that have overwhelmed the Republican Party may be just one or two cycles away from ruining the Democrats.

Barring such a failure by Democrats in 2020, a Republican implosion will trigger a powerful and potentially destabilizing scramble to occupy the second spot in our two-party system. How that plays out is impossible to predict. We can be sure though that Trump’s defeat will not change the Republican Party’s trajectory. No advice or warnings will be heard. It’s too late now to take this train off the tracks.

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Posted in Election 2020, Politics of Crazy, Uncategorized

Link Roundup, 8/15/2016

From the MIT Technology Review: Stem cell research is not producing treatments at the pace we once expected.

From the Washington Post: Why are people so freaked out in the midst of an economic boom and unprecedented national power? White Christian America is dying.

From Politico: The GOP ‘establishment’ strikes back.

From The Atlantic: Trumpism and the rift between belief and truth.

From Popular Mechanics: Chemtrails aren’t real, in case you were wondering.

From the GOPLifer Archives: Four Inescapable Realities.

Last Friday evening I was interviewed on Chicago’s Radio Islam. Here’s the recording.

Posted in Uncategorized

How Clinton Could Win Texas

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 12.57.52 PM(And Why It Isn’t Good News for Democrats)

Those who predicted a close election in 2016 are starting to retreat. It’s early to get reliable polling, but even at this stage you can draw some conclusions from large or anomalous numbers. All the large numbers are pointing in Clinton’s direction.

Though margins will certainly oscillate over the course of the fall, this isn’t going to get close. When a candidate is this bad the dynamics of the race change in some strange ways. There’s a solid chance that Clinton might even win Texas.

Should this happen, Democrats will be tempted to paint that outcome as a mandate or a trend. That would be a mistake.

The factors that could flip Texas have nothing to do with Clinton’s appeal or any softening of the state’s political bent. Here’s why Clinton might take the state in November and why Democrats should see it as a warning rather than a triumph.

Trump is the most unpopular major party nominee in modern history.

Trump won barely 44% of the vote in the GOP primaries. Since the modern primary system took shape, no major party nominee has won with a lower vote share. After a disastrous convention, Republicans are fleeing from their embarrassing nominee. Even Goldwater, who was a famously contentious candidate, did not spark the kind of rush for the exits we are seeing in 2016. Trump has inspired an unprecedented degree of animosity from within his own party.

Trump is particularly unpopular among Texas Republicans.

Barely a quarter of Texas Republicans supported Trump in the primary. Open resistance from the Bush family and Ted Cruz has created powerful cover for Republican dissenters in the state. Sinclair Lewis once said that Fascism will come to America wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. Trump has struggled with Texas conservatives who would prefer a slightly smaller flag and an enormously larger cross. Trump is simply the wrong kind of bigot for Texas. Only in Utah is Trump more unpopular with hard-core conservatives.

Libertarians have fielded an unusually credible ticket.

Republicans in Texas have the option of rejecting Trump by voting for another ticket packed with Republicans. Libertarians nominated experienced, sane, popular Republican former-Governors for President and Vice President. That Libertarian ticket should attract double-digit support in Texas.

Trump’s rhetoric has sparked record enthusiasm from Hispanic voters.

Texas is very nearly a majority-minority state. Despite demographic challenges, Republicans have dominated elections there in part because the state consistently ranks near the bottom in voter turnout. Hispanic voters in Texas are among the least engaged Hispanic voters in the country. Trump offers Democrats a golden opportunity to organize a community that has been alienated from politics. If eligible, registered, Texas Hispanics voted at a rate in line with Hispanics elsewhere in the country, Democrats would gain an extra 4-5% of the vote in 2016.

Futility undermines party discipline.

Previous Republican nominees might fail to earn enthusiasm from some portion of the party’s base, but in a close race voters consolidate their support by November. For years we’ve heard mythical tales of the voters turned off by the failure of the party to appeal to their pet concerns. Now we’re going to see what that would look like if it actually happened.

This is not a close race. Republican voters frustrated with their choices will have nothing to gain by lining up behind their miserable candidate in November. With no chance to influence the outcome by voting for Trump, they may use their vote (or their non-vote) to express their disgust. In Texas, the factors cited above will likely be enough to create a sizable dissent-vote for the Libertarians, a large chunk of Republican non-votes, and impressive activism from Democrats.

If Clinton flips Texas expect to see a lot of ink spilled describing the implications of this landmark Democratic mandate. Ignore it all. Clinton will not win Texas by becoming the first choice of Texas voters. It is highly unlikely that she would earn more than 45-47% of the vote there even in a victory. A Democratic win in Texas would be a statement about the Republican Party, not the Democrats.

A landslide so large as to turn Texas blue in this election indicates the collapse of the Republican Party’s national relevance. As Trump’s supporters convert the GOP into a white nationalist institution, the Presidency loses its importance. A white nationalist party can only be a regional, not a national force. Absent a fundamental reconstruction of the party, future Republican nominees, just like our nominee this year, will carry all the gravitas and relevance of the Green or Libertarian candidates.

This is not good news for Democrats, but rather a destabilizing event for our entire political system. We can no more sustain a single-party system than a three or four party system.

Democrats are no more popular than they were ten or twenty years ago. A Blue Texas is a not a victory for Democrats, but rather a warning that the foundations of our political system are cracking.

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Posted in Election 2016, Texas, Uncategorized

Link Roundup, 8/10/16

From Politico: The GOP Exodus is accelerating.

On a related note, the Clinton campaign has launched Together for America, an effort to reach out to disaffected Republicans.

From the New York Times: Make America Great Again? There are 11 aircraft carriers in the world and 10 of them are ours. The other belongs to France.

From the Washington Post: What an enormous heatwave could tell us about our climate future.

From Wired: Russian hackers appear to have breached Oracle’s point-of-sale system.

Posted in Uncategorized


We’re traveling in Texas, so the writing will be thin for a while. Just thought I’d point out some Republican defections that I hope are building toward a movement.

Republicans from the top of the stack to the bottom are taking this opportunity to express concerns about the direction of the party. A few examples:

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) has stated his intention to vote for Hillary Clinton. Hanna is retiring this year.

Harvard’s Republican Club issued a lengthy letter explaining their unwillingness to support Trump. If you’ve lost tomorrow’s hedge fund managers, what hope do you have left?

A group of precinct committeemen in Berks County, PA (Reading) resigned over Trump. Much love to my former Republican block-walking brothers. I know how tough that is.

Dennis Sanders, who like me has been writing about the state of the GOP for years, penned his departure notice this week.

Kansas voters, disgusted with the results of the far-right project in their state, booted Tea Party nutjob Tim Huelskamp in a primary this week. Another 10 far-right Kansas legislators lost their primaries.

Sally Bradshaw, a Bush aide and the author of the party’s 2013 “autopsy” report resigned from the party and expressed willingness to support Clinton.

There might be critical mass for some form of authentic realignment on the right. It should be noted, however, that the far-right wing of the party isn’t sitting still either. Supporters of Ted Cruz are rumbling their dissatisfaction and making plans. A GOP crackup may finally be in the works, but no one can say with confidence which forces will emerge most powerful from the wreckage.

Posted in Uncategorized

15 crucial and overlooked events of the past 30 years

watsonHistory is often trapped in a rut of grand political narratives. Elections, wars, dynasties, the conquests of “great men;” seldom do we peer past this pageant to see the machinery at work in the background. Look carefully at the past few decades and a bright picture emerges from the haze.

Almost none of these events were worth noting when they occurred. Many of them failed to make the news in any form. Yet our lives today are products of these evolutionary pivots.

1988 – James Hansen testifies in Congress on the human role in climate change.

Hansen’s testimony marks the beginning of public awareness of the problem of climate change. The OMB would later attempt to muzzle his conclusions. He would appeal for help from the Senate’s foremost advocate for science and technology, Al Gore.

1989 – Rick Perry becomes a Republican.

Perry’s conversion launched the final phase of the flight of the Dixiecrats into the GOP. He would go on to be Texas’ longest-serving Governor.

1991 – George HW Bush signs the High Performance Computing Act, also called The Gore Bill, creating the Internet.

Yes Virginia, Al Gore “invented the Internet.” HPCA was the culmination of years of effort by the Tennessee Senator to make this government technology available to the public.

1992 – America’s first charter school, City Academy, opens in Minneapolis, MN.

Reformers struggling to make quality education available to inner city kids scored their first big coup in decades with the opening of the first charter school in Minneapolis. Their efforts remain incomplete, but this initiative remains a ripe and under-appreciated opening for conservatives to build allies in big cities.

1993 – Hawaii Supreme Court validates gay marriage.

Though thwarted a few years later by a ballot initiative, this move by Hawaii’s highest court brought attention to a cause that enjoyed very little support at the time. From here activists built a movement that would eventually change federal law.

1994 – Demolition begins at Cabrini Green in Chicago under a Hope VI grant.

Jack Kemp’s vision for ending the misery of inner city housing projects was finally put into policy under the Clinton Administration. His reforms played a crucial role in the revitalization of central cities all over the country, reversing decades of urban decline.

1994 – Monsanto introduces first genetically modified strain of soybean.

As genetic, mechanical, and industrial innovation in food production accelerates, we appear to have hit a milestone in the past decade. We may have reached “peak farmland,” the point at which our demand for arable land has peaked. GMO’s represent the next remarkable step in that chain of innovation and this soybean strain was a breakthrough. Almost all corn and soybeans are now GMO’s. With the development of the Crispr gene splicing technology, it is now possible to make fairly reliable edits to human genes.

1996 – Elizabeth Warren becomes a Democrat.

As the Republican Party veered right and South, an older strain of Republican thought gradually died out. When Republicans lost Elizabeth Warren, they lost the most popular and influential US Senator of the next generation. Along with her, they lost old Republican enclaves in places like California, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

1996 – Clinton signs directive to turn off the “selective availability” of the US Global Positioning system. In May 2000 GPS with full fidelity becomes commercially available.

Prior to this directive, global positioning was available for private use, but was deliberately skewed in ways that rendered it impractical for most commercial uses. This liberalization of US defense technology (again, pressed by Al Gore), changed the way we live.

1997 – Phillippe Kahn takes a picture of his newborn daughter on his cell phone and shares it with friends around the world, the first recorded example of cell photo sharing.

Kahn’s bulky, jerry-rigged camera phone was the precursor to something few people could imagine at the time – pervasive video documentation of our lives.

1999 – Spectrolab and the US DOE develop a solar cell with a 32% efficiency.

Not long ago it seemed there was no alternative to carbon fuels that would not create serious loss of productivity. Spectrolab’s breakthrough for the first time promised to put solar energy on a declining cost curve similar to other technologies.

1999 – Napster is released.

Perhaps the most remarkable development in modern art and music emerged from a few college dropouts playing around with Internet file sharing engines. By optimizing existing peer-to-peer technologies for a music format, they created an engine that made virtually every recording ever made available for search and download. Their technology was shut down within a few years, but it fostered an explosion in the availability and production of artistic works that continues to gain momentum.

2000 – President Clinton signs Phil Gramm’s Commodities Futures Modernization Act.

In the fevered final days of his Administration Clinton signed Senator Gramm’s signature achievement. The Act, augmented by two further Acts in the Bush Administration, would block federal oversight of commodities derivatives while allowing federally-insured institutions to invest in them. It was the CFMA that weaponized the derivatives industry, turning it into a bomb that would destroy the global financial system just a few years later.

2011 – IBM’s Watson computer defeats human contestants in Jeopardy.

A turning point in the advance of labor-saving technology, Watson was the first AI engine capable of competing with humans in thought-tasks beyond mere mathematical calculation. This breakthrough opened doors to new investment in AI and machine learning that, just a few years later, have made Watson seem…elementary.

2013 – George Zimmerman is acquitted after killing Trayvon Martin. Frustrated activists unite into the Black Lives Matter movement.

First came the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. And the rest is history.

What’s really happening out there today that will change the shape of tomorrow? We probably won’t find it in tomorrow’s headlines.

Water flowing underground…

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Link Roundup, 8/1/2016

From the New York Times: Dropping the Trans-Pacific partnership is a bad idea.

From the Daily Beast: Polls have always said we’re “on the wrong track.” Expectation bias and flawed polls.

From Scientific American: Research is questioning the value of acupuncture.

From Buzzfeed: Marketing Pentecostal religion in Silicon Valley. It’s even weirder than you would imagine.

On a related note from the GOPLifer archives: The rise of Disorganized Religion.

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