Conservative donors have engaged a major GOP consulting firm in Florida to research the feasibility of mounting a late, independent run for president amid growing fears that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination.
“All this research has to happen before March 16, when inevitably Trump is the nominee, so that we have a plan in place,” a source familiar with the discussions said. March 16 is the day after the GOP primary in Florida…
The document, stamped “confidential,” was authored by staff at Data Targeting, a Republican firm based in Gainesville, Fla. The memo notes that “it is possible to mount an independent candidacy but [it] will require immediate action on the part of this core of key funding and strategic players.”
This, of course, would guarantee that both the Republican candidate, probably Trump, and the independent candidate, would lose. So, it is a kind of apoptosis.
Here’s the thing. Why would they do this? Why would the Republican Party build up a power base linked to a philosophy, then, when the ultimate candidate emerges, who represents that philosophy of hate and fascism comes to fore, bail?
One possibility is that the importance of corporate control of the President is the central guiding force for strategy. After all, we are talking about unspecified “donors.” Those donors are not concerned with the political philosophy of the candidate, just that the candidate be controlled.
It is interesting to compare this effect across the two parties. One could say that Clinton is more the corporate candidate and Sanders is not. But, Democrats are not actually (despite pernicious rumors the contrary) destroying sanders or planning to put him down. A lot of Democrats, including many in power, like Sanders. But when an insurgency candidate (which, it seems, is defined as not, or less, bought and paid for) comes along in the Republican party, the Programmed Party Death Button is seriously considered. The parties really are not the same.
I wouldn’t expect anything to come to this if it is a real effort to get a particular candidate to win. But if this really is an effort by the Republicans to put themselves down, then the chances of a third party run may be much higher, because it doesn’t have to work. It just has to break everything.
The answer: One Republican and One Democrat/Independent.
The Iowa Caucus is pretty much up for grabs in both parties. Over recent days, a clear Trump lead has been erased, and Cruz is now ahead in recent polls. Over roughly the same period, a clear Clinton lead has been erased, and Sanders is now ahead in recent polls.
FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver) is still predicting a Clinton victory for the Dems, but a Cruz victory for the GOPs. The Clinton victory prediction is of high confidence, while the Cruz prediction is not, and Trump is close behind.
One way to look at the polls is to track changes and put a lot of faith in the most recent information. Another way is to use as much data as seems relevant (even looking outside polls) and assume that this gives a better prediction, and go with that. The latter is the method used by FiveThirtyEight. So, Nate Silver’s method will be a big winner if Clinton and Cruze cinch the Caucus, but not so much if Sanders sandbags Hillary and Trump trumps Cruz.
People put a lot of significance on the Iowa Caucus because it is the first real contest among candidates. But then, after the caucus has become history, they are less likely to care too much about it. How important is it as a predictor of the outcome of the entire primary season?
That depends on the party.
Barack Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter and George McGovern all won the Iowa caucus (or came in above the other candidates) and went on to be the Democratic Party nominee. Dick Gephardt and Tom Harkin also won the caucus, but did not become the nominee. One might say that the Iowa Caucus predicts the nominee pretty well for Democrats.
Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, and George W. Bush all beat the other contenders and went on to get the nomination. But most of the time, the Iowa Caucus was either won by an unopposed Republican (so we can’t count those years in assessing its significance) or was won by a candidate other than the eventual nominee (such as Rick Santorum in 2012, Mike Huckabee in 2008, and Bob Dole in 1988). Overall, the Iowa Caucus means little in the Republican Party, if we go on history, especially in recent years.
Despite FiveThirtyEight’s claims, based on a good analysis of hefty data, I’m going to say that there has been too much flux in the polling numbers to call the caucus at this stage, just over a week prior.
By now you are probably aware of the major flooding that happened over the last several days in Missouri. Larry Lazar gave us a guest post detailing his personal experiences in Eureka, where the flooding was extensive. This flooding is not over, but is simply moving down stream in the Mississippi watershed. It will take several days before this is over.
We are long past the days when one can honestly say “you can’t attribute a given weather event to climate change.” Climate is weather long term, and weather is climate in the here and now. Climate has changed because of anthropogenic global warming. It is simply incorrect to say that the two are unrelated.
With a warmer atmosphere, there is more water vapor aloft. Changes in the relationship between the tropics and the Arctic, that relationship being a key determinate in how weather works, have changed how weather patterns develop. These changes cause precipitation to clump up, so some areas get more than the usual amount of rain while other areas experience less. These changes have also slowed down the movement of storms, so wet weather hangs around longer in one area.
More rain, clumped, and slowed down, means more frequent and more severe flooding, and we have seen plenty of that this past year, and a general increase over the last couple of decades. The increase in severity and frequency of flooding that was manifest just now in Missouri is the result of human caused disruption of atmospheric systems and this chaotic weather literally rains down on us from that atmosphere.
Now we turn to an irony, and an exemplar of an important and troubling phenomenon. The irony is that one small piece of the loss of property this flooding caused in Missouri was severe damage to the campaign headquarters of former Missouri House representative (District 110) Timothy Jones. Jones is a long time climate science denier. He is no longer in elected office, by his own choice, but Jones wrote that as he plans “… to continue my public service in the future, I am keeping all options open for 2018 and beyond to serve our state and our nation.” That facility is also used, according to Jones and others, to host Republican political meetings and events.
That is the irony, obviously, but I’ll develop the ironic nature of this small event more in a bit. The phenomenon that is so troubling is the concerted effort of politicians and others to work against addressing climate change. This is not a new thing. The fossil fuel industry, large players such as the Koch brothers, and famous politicians such as Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe have been working to discredit climate science and stop the shift towards clean (non-fossil) fuels for decades. Tim Jones has been and is a local player in that effort.
Let me be clear. We knew about climate change decades ago. In the 1970s, we also learned how precarious our national security and economic system can be in its reliance on fossil fuels.
There was a brief time back in the 70s when efficiency in fuel use was seen as a good thing, even a necessary thing. There were changes in zoning laws, speed limits on our interstates, automobile efficiency standards, appliance efficiency ratings, and all that. But around the same time and subsequently, “green” approaches to energy, slower speed limits, efficiency in building practices, and the development of solar and wind energy became conservative (read: Republican) issues but not in a good way.
As our nation transformed into not just a two party system, but a two ideology system, the right has taken up the challenge, effectively, of putting the kibosh on pretty much every move an individual, company, industry, public agency, or government might make to meaningfully reduce the use of fossil fuels and, in so doing, reduce our contribution to ever-increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere.
Imagine for a moment what might have happened if we treated both energy and climate change using that good old fashioned American approach that gave us victory over fascism in World War II, the Manhattan Project (for better or worse), and several trips to the moon. After 40 years of effort, leading the world in similar efforts, we would not be at 400+ parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. Simply put, had we stepped up back when we first realized the need and benefits of so doing, we would not have be experiencing the climate disruption we are now experiencing.
Today’s climate disruption was underwritten by, enhanced by – really, caused by – climate change science deniers and green energy opponents like Tim Jones and his ilk. They didn’t just question the science or make a fair stab at supporting oil and coal interests. They made disruptive climate change happen.
So, when Tim Jones finds his vaguely labeled headquarters destroyed by a flood that would have been unlikely decades ago but that today is virtually inevitable, and that will repeat frequently, it is all about chickens. What kind of chicken? The kind that occasionally come home. To roost.
I would not have even noticed that Jones’ headquarters had been destroyed had he not done something that is astonishingly insensitive and inappropriate. Jones is a popular and powerful Republican, statewide, in Missouri. He has raised a lot of money. As of January 2015 Jones had nearly one million dollars in his campaign coffers. Given the ruined status of his headquarters, it would be a simple matter to fund repair and renovations beyond whatever insurance coverage he had on the place. But instead of simply paying the piper that he himself helped invite to the party, he started a Go Fund Me campaign so that his supporters, who had suffered through this flood, could pay for those repairs.
Tim Jones’ Go Fund Me campaign is a poignant reminder of the situation. He has denied the human role in climate, he now denies that the flood that destroyed his offices is related to climate change, and now he is denying responsibility for the fiscal loss.
He is asking his former constituents and current supporters, who themselves have lost about two dozen loved ones and family members to flood related deaths and as yet uncounted millions of dollars in property, to buy him some new drywall. What a guy.
But wait, there’s more. Tim Jones has left public office for now, though he may return. But what is he doing exactly?
At the time that he announced he would no longer be seeking election, Jones accepted a job as a senior policy fellow with the Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise, housed at Lindenwood University. Lindenwood announced, within a day of Jones’ announcement that he would be joining Hammond, the award of a $2 million grant from … wait for it … the Charles Koch Foundation.
Meanwhile, since the flood, Jones has been making quite a stink on his Twitter feed, calling people who understand that climate change is real and important various names such as “Eco-Nazi,” “Libnuts,” etc. These offensive tweets are not important … that’s what people do on twitter. But seeing them interspersed with tweets begging for donations to fix up his headquarters is more than a little annoying, knowing that he has about a million bucks in the bank.
First I wanted to know if Larry had any inkling as to why Jones, if he is not in office, still uses the title “speaker” as part of his Twitter handle. Larry told me that a friend of his opined, “He doesn’t want to relinquish the title just as a President doesn’t lose his/her title. I saw this in a twitter conversation with him and someone else months ago.” This makes sense given some of his tweets today, in which he announced the development, at his flooded headquarters, of a sort of “Tim Jones Library.” Imagine that.
In one of his Tweets, Jones suggested that those concerned with climate change quiet down and go away, noting that the flood had happened five days ago and was no big deal. I asked Larry how he felt to learn that the state rep who formerly represented him indicated that the flood was not an important event. He told me,
My immediate thought upon seeing his flood damaged office was “What will it take for him to get it?” Tim has been an outspoken denier of climate science since he has been in office. While he has no expertise in climate science he has shared his views in opposition of climate science for many years via conservative radio and social media like Twitter and Facebook.
I should be shocked, but I know Tim’s opposition to climate change science all too well as he has been very active on conservative radio and social media – like twitter. I was?still surprised that he could be so insensitive given all of the devastation that our community and many others in Missouri have experienced. Most of these folks are uninsured and don’t have financial resources available to them like the wealthy do. I thought he could at least pretend to be concerned ?about the folks, many of whom have voted for him and supported him financially, that?have?may have lost their homes and?other property.
Let’s look at the bigger picture for a moment. Missouri is a pretty red state. How well a clean energy project does in a given state has a lot to do with the legislature and prevailing powerful interests. I was wondering what was going on in Missouri in this area. I asked Larry if the Missouri state government, where Tim Jones and a lot of similar minded Republicans have served or do serve to represent the people, has been doing what it needs to do to make it easier for individual citizens and companies to use cleaner energy sources. Larry gave me a long and thoughtful answer to that question, which I’ll pass on in its entirety.
Missouri gets 80% of our energy from dirty coal – which is imported from Wyoming. Neighboring states like Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska are harnessing renewable energy sources at much higher rates than Missouri. I often wonder if the fact that St. Louis is the world headquarters for 5 coal companies, including Peabody, the world’s largest coal company, contributes to our continued reliance on coal. Peabody, as well as Ameren, which is Missouri’s largest energy utility, are both large contributors to political campaigns – for both parties. The result of this unholy alliance is that Missouri has very few incentives, both at the individual, and corporate levels, to switch to cleaner energy.
I wish Missouri could lead on climate. If only Missouri leaders would recognize the great economic opportunities that exist for entrepreneurs, businesses and individuals by leading on climate change instead of clinging to denial that, frankly, is absurd. We have outstanding scientific expertise in our universities and businesses as well as hard-working and intelligent people. Why not leverage these resources and put Missouri in a leadership position on climate? Let Missourians go to work on climate. We can solve this – and Missouri should lead.
I would also ask Missouri leaders to reflect on what their legacy will be. In 20, 30 or 50 years what will their children and grandchildren say about them? What will be in the history books about what actions they took, or didn’t take, on climate change and other issues back in the early decades of the 21st century? Did they act upon what many scientists say is humankind’s greatest challenge or did they persist in denial and delay, apparently for the benefit of a few exceptionally wealthy contributors to their campaigns?
Thanks to Larry Lazar for his help in figuring this all out, and thanks to Tim Jones for being such a great example of what is wrong with this country.
Oh by the way: Republican Politics in Missouri
Not directly related to the issue at hand, but very relevant to the state of Republican politics in the Show Me state, is this pair of suicides and related political intriquge, antisemitism, and as Rachel Meadow calls it, Shakespearian Tragedy. This is the first story in the March 30th, 2015 Rachel Maddow Show:
The Republican Party and its handlers, including the right wing talk radio jocks such as Rush Limbaugh, and the bought-and-paid-for media such as FOX news, did not create the Tea Party. Michele Bachmann and a few others did that.* But once the Tea Party got going, mainstream conservative Republicans, including and especially leaders in Congress, went right to bed with it. The Tea Party gave Republican strategists an easy way to garner votes and support. This was especially easy to do because America decided to elect an African American president. Make no mistake. The Tea Party is pro-white, anti-everybody-else, and having an African American Democrat as president made defining issues and shaping rhetoric trivially easy.
It is a mistake to think that the Tea Party comes with a set of positions on various issues. It does not. Yes, the Tea Party tends to be libertarian, conservative, and so on and so forth, but really, it is philosophically inconstant and mostly reactionary. This has been demonstrated over and over again, as President Obama embraced various issues that were previously held by prominent Republicans, and those policies were immediately opposed. Because they were the policies of the Black President. The merit of a policy had nothing to do with opposition against it. They were President Obama’s issues, therefore the Tea Party was against them. And since the Republican Party was so rapt with the Tea Party, the GOP was against them.
This worked well. It gave the Republicans massive victories in a gerrymandered Congress. It meant that absurd excuses for leaders won elections, or if they did not, lost by only a few percentage points, when they should have been largely ignored by the populous.
The reason for even doing this is abundantly clear. An informal tacit (maybe) cabal of 1%ers and various regulation-loathing industries, most notably the petroleum industry, paid for the campaigns and managed lobbyists, the Republican leadership managed the elections, calling in the Tea Baggers each November. Add a little voter suppression, a little Swift Boating here, a healthy dose of Fear of Terrorism there, a wartime setting, and the Republicans, who hold policies that when asked most voters are actually against, became far more powerful than even Newt Gingrich and his Republican Revolutionaries could have hoped for.
But there is a catch and the GOP got caught.
An actual Republican running for, or serving in, office, can go only so far in supporting absurd policies. Established politicians reluctant to take the final “logical” plunge through the Tea Party’s looking glass were often “primaried” and sometimes pushed aside by the emerging Tea Party candidates. By keeping up a full court press to overthrow everything President Obama tried to do the mainstream Republicans held a central place in this game, but there was plenty of nibbling around the edges of their power structure. They went from leaders (sort of) to managers. Worldwide Wrestling Federation mangers.
Then, purity happened.
Imagine a candidate that has never run for office before, but has greater name recognition than all but a fraction of a percent of the entire panoply of politicians that make up any and all American parties. Imagine that this candidate has excellent media presence. Imagine that this candidate has no established policy related views. Imagine the candidate has an arguably good resume of successes, even if many of those successes are either unrelated to governance, or are tainted by equally impressive failures.
Mostly, though, imagine that this candidate is perfectly willing to make over the top statements denigrating non-white people, and at the same time, statements endearing to the anti-government, libertarian-trending right wing. Imagine that candidate is willing to say, again and again in the style of Dale Carnegie, that all of our elected officials are stupid. How stupid are they? They are so stupid that the Mexicans are smarter. They are so stupid that the Chinese are smarter. They are so stupid that people the right wing disdains, and other people the right wing fears, are smarter.
This is something mainstream politicians can’t say, because it would require saying it about themselves. But there is one candidate that can say these things.
I am speaking, of course, of Donald Trump.
And the point of this missive is not anything about Donald Trump. I don’t have to tell you about him, he’ll be happy to do that himself. The fairly obvious point I want to make here is that Donald Trump is, in essence, a creation of the Republican Party. And, he is the Republican Party’s worst nightmare.
Why is he a nightmare and not a darling of the GOP? For one reason I am certain is true and one reason I hope is true. What is certain: Trump obviates and invalidates every single Republican elected official (and the Democrats too). The less certain reason is that he can never win a national election, but in running for President as the nominated GOP candidate, he could bring down the party. Not that parties are easily, or really, ever, brought down (apparently). So maybe not all the way down, as in, “you’re going down, Republicans!” More like downish, relatively down, down and out, at least for a couple of election cycles.
And this is why I’ve decided to call The Donald by a new nickname.
Victor Frankenstein made a beautiful thing. He thought. And in the original text, he did. But I’m thinking more of the movies, where Shelley’s “The Monster” is known as Frankenstein (for some reason) and where The Monster is the hideous creation of a mad man who thought he could control and create life. But FrankenTrump is not life controlled or created. FrankenTrump is a distillation, an emergent entity, a possibly inevitable outcome of setting aside all efforts to govern or develop actual policy and do nothing but play politics, 100% of the time in every way possible, involving elected officials, the party itself, a good chunk of the press, and everything else that can be controlled. Victor Frankenstein melded this and that body part to make something he eventually could not control and that eventually became his ruin, after terrorizing the townspeople for a while. The Republican Party stitched together a lock-step party policy, a complex and insidious campaign of voter suppression, a panoply of pernicious pundits, an entire mega news organization, and piles of money, and created FrankenTrump.
And now they have to live — or die — with it.
More popcorn please.
*And for this I apologize. Back when Michele was still in the Minnesota State Legislature, I was one of her first targets, coincidentally having her son in my evolution class and apparently, at least according to him, inspiring her to introduce one of the first, if not the first, “academic freedom” bills ever. Sorry.