Archive for 2016

Kasich Out, GOP = Grandiose Odious Perversity

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

JohnKasich (1)The record will show that Calbuzz prophetically picked John Kasich, who quit the Republican presidential race Wednesday, as the #3 candidate in the field eight months ago, after first touting him as a #5 dark horse a month before he even got in:

The rooting favorite of our founders, who hail from Cincinnati and Cleveland respectively, Kasich is at risk from the Tea Party because of his disgraceful act of accepting Obama’s money to provide health care for poor people, but if Bush falters, he’s the only other grown-up in the room.

Oh sure, we whiffed on that whole Donald Trump thing, along with the rest of the punditry universe, although in defense of our Department of Prognostications and Las Vegas Cheap Fares, we did better than most of the Beltway geniuses, ranking him #5 back in August 2015 with some pretty prescient language:

We wouldn’t put it past deranged GOP primary voters actually to cast ballots for the guy (and remember, we warned you not to write him off) but look for him to set his two pounds of hair on fire by Halloween.

At least we were half right.

Why Kasich Mattered: Self congratulation and self-criticism aside, the withdrawal of Kasich, despite his failure to win more than his own state, represents an unalterable, profound transformation of America’s political landscape: only one of the nation’s major parties in 2016 will field a nominee capable of speaking in complete sentences and who routinely employs rationality, logic and Actual Facts.

There’s plenty of time to handicap and analyze the extraordinarily bizarre Clinton-Trump match-up, but this is the Ohio governor’s day, so let us briefly enumerate the traits he brought to the race, which once were just table stakes for any presidential nominee but are utterly lacking in the whack job neo-fascist the Party of Lincoln lists at the top of its ticket:

kasicheatingHope, not fear: Kasich was positive and pragmatic, and never succumbed to the dark and dystopian style that characterized virtually every other member of what once was a 17-person field. Unlike Trump, he was neither paranoid, perfidious nor vicious and, despite our big disagreements with him on policy (hello, Planned Parenthood), it was clear that he understood that being president actually is about, you know, the country — unlike Trump, who behaves as if it’s all about him, not to mention his pathological need to convince himself his hands are really big as a way of masking what apparently is a severe sex problem.

Government 101: Kasich’s notion of leadership, based on experience in Congress and as chief executive of a large, diverse state, appeared to be rooted in the world we live in, which is to say the real world. Trump appears to have skipped Social Studies class on the day the teacher talked about the Separation of Powers, and his insistence that he, Trump, will solve the nation’s problems owes less to Adams, Jefferson and Madison than to Mussolini, Kim Il-Sung and Attila the Hun.

Compromise: Kasich, although a soldier in the Gingrich Revolution, not only allowed the essential importance of the federal government in shaping domestic policy, the economy and providing a social safety net, but also acknowledged the need to account for — and even accommodate! — viewpoints different than his own. Trump by contrast not only believes he has all the answers, despite his massive ignorance of the complexities and issues he would face as president, but also presumes that browbeating, intimidation and force are the paramount tools of politics, the logical culmination, evolutionary consequence and most monstrous mutation of every hot-shot corporate executive who recklessly thinks politics is just a second-rate form of business.

mussoliniAs E.J. Dionne wrote in his recently published and essential “Why the Right Went Wrong,” Kasich was the closest thing to a serious-minded conservative reformer in the Republican race:

A partial exception was Governor John Kasich, In the Republicans’ first debate in August 2015, he was willing to break with party orthodoxy by offering an unambiguous defense of his push to have Ohio accept an expansion of Medicare under the Affordable Care Act. He offered a stirring defense of the interests of the working poor and seemed, for a moment at least, to be the incarnation of a compassionate conservative coming back to life. In late October, Kasich excoriated his party’s moves rightward on issues ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the flat tax. “What has happened to our party,” he asked. “What has happened to the conservative movement?”

Guess we’ll find out, governor.

P.S. Forget everything we said about Kasich if he runs as Trump’s veep.


Cruz Finally Tells Truth About Trump, Then Folds

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

cruzscrinchyfaceHours before Indiana Republicans forced him from the presidential race, Ted Cruz finally told the truth about Donald Trump, trashing him as an amoral, narcissistic, philandering, misogynistic pathological liar and bully.

Too late. Ted, who a few months ago sucked up to the New York reality TV star, now resumes his seat on the Senate’s back bench, and 99 colleagues groan in disgust.

In California, former California Gov. Pete Wilson, who endorsed Cruz last weekend, is left looking like a complete dweeb: “That old Wilson magic,” scoffed one veteran Sacramento insider. “Seventy-two hours after Pete endorsed him, Cruz ends his campaign.”

The loyal volunteers and activists who’d organized congressional districts for Cruz’s promised aggressive effort here emerge as chumps: “I guess the big winner is New York values,” Jon Fleischmann, publisher of the conservative Flash Report, a Cruz partisan and delegate candidate, wrote on Facebook. “And I don’t have to spend a bunch of money to go to Ohio in July.”

Not to mention the loathsome Carly Fiorina, Cruz’s political fantasy league running mate, who’s left holding a bag of Hoosier hog waste. Dammit, what a shame.

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas: But let’s face it: Cruz helped create Trump. “I’m very glad that Donald Trump’s being in this race has forced the mainstream media finally to talk about illegal immigration,” he said in the second Republican debate. “I think that’s very important.”

During their bromance, Cruz also said: “A lot of the other candidates have gone out of their way to smack him with a two-by-four, said some really nasty, vicious things. I’ve sung his praises. He’s bold, he’s brash, and I think the support he’s gaining right now in the polls is because people are looking for someone willing to stand up to Washington.”

And in December Cruz tweeted: “The Establishment’s only hope: Trump & me in a cage match. Sorry to disappoint — @realDonaldTrump is terrific. #DealWithIt.”

But after Trump said that Cruz’s father had been a pal of Lee Harvey Oswald’s and was complicit in the JFK assassination – !!! – Lyin’ Ted finally erupted and spoke the blunt truth about the neofascist who wears an eagle’s nest atop his head. Historians may rank his epic rant right up there with Richard Nixon’s last press conference:

trumpatcagopJust for the record: I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump. This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.

He accuses everybody on that debate stage of lying. And it’s simply a mindless yell. Whatever he does, he accuses everyone else of doing. The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist. A narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen.

Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, ‘Dude, what’s your problem?’ Everything in Donald’s world is about Donald. And he combines being a pathological liar, and I say pathological because I actually think Donald, if you hooked him up to a lie detector test, he could say one thing in the morning, one thing at noon and one thing in the evening, all contradictory and he’s pass the lie detector test each time. Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute he believes it…

And another thing: This morning, Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father. Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK,” Cruz told reporters during a news conference in Evansville, Indiana. “Now, let’s be clear, this is nuts. This is not a reasonable position. This is just kooky.

 And while I’m at it, I guess I should go ahead and admit, yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard…

 Listen, Donald Trump is a serial philanderer and he boasts about it. I want everyone to think about your teenage kids. The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery. How proud he is. Describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam.

The man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him. It’s why he went after Heidi directly and smeared my wife, attacked her. Apparently she’s not pretty enough for Donald Trump. I may be biased, but I think if he’s making that allegation, he’s also legally blind.

trumptowerPhallic envy: Cruz also said Trump’s insecurity is the reason why he “builds giant buildings and puts his name on them.”

Every one of us knew bullies in elementary school. Bullies don’t come from strength, bullies come from weakness. Bullies come from a deep, yawning cavern of insecurity. There is a reason Donald builds giant buildings and puts his name on them everywhere he goes. 

And I will say there are millions of people in this country who are angry. They’re angry at Washington, they’re angry at politicians who have lied to them. I understand that anger. I share that anger. And Donald is cynically exploiting that anger, and he is lying to his supporters. Donald will betray his supporters on every issue.

If you care about immigration, Donald is laughing at you. And he’s telling the moneyed elites he doesn’t believe what he’s saying. He’s not going to build a wall. That’s what he told The New York Times. He will betray you on ever you issue across the board. And his strategy of being a bully in particular is directed at women. Donald has a real problem with women.

Great stuff, Lyin’ Ted. Too bad it’s too little, way too late.

How Pete’s Nod to Ted Personifies GOP Desperation

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

wilson-cruzFormer Gov. Pete’s Wilson’s Saturday endorsement of Ted Cruz for president laid bare the Republican Party’s fear of Donald Trump, how truly far to the right the GOP has evolved and how desperate conservatives are for relevance in California.

Wilson was the last successful career Republican in California. Despite his legacy of Prop. 187 in 1994 and the subsequent alienation of Latinos, he was essentially a moderate: pro-choice, environmentally friendly and willing to compromise with Democratic Assembly Speaker Willie Brown on policy and spending in order to govern the state.

Cruz represents everything Wilson was not: evangelical, pro-life, hostile to environmentalism and wholly uncompromising – willing even to rally back-bench conservatives in opposition to House Speaker John Boehner to shut down the federal government in pursuit of the unattainable repeal of Obamacare.

Wilson believed compromise was necessary to keep the wheels of government turning; Cruz believes flatly that compromise is capitulation. Even on immigration, Wilson’s Prop. 187 sought to cut off public benefits to unauthorized immigrants, not to deport them, as Cruz advocates.

Burning Man: Cruz’s No. 1 civilian cheerleader in California – Flash Report publisher Jon Fleischman – was part of a right-wing group that, in 1991, burned Wilson in effigy for raising taxes.

So Wilson’s decision to endorse Cruz is compelling witness to the shape of the GOP race for president, conditions in the Republican Party nationally and the sorry state of affairs for the GOP in deep blue California, with registration now hovering at 28%.

petewilsongacop16“We cannot afford a Republican nominee that brings us down-ticket decimation,” Wilson told the GOP delegates Saturday, referring to the effect Trump could have among women voters. And, he added, “Heaven knows what justices Donald Trump would pick. We can’t afford a wild card when it comes to the president who will be making critically important Supreme Court appointments.”

A genuine Republican Brahmin, the 82-year old Wilson gave voice to what the party elite fear most – that if Trump heads the GOP ticket in November, they may lose control of the Senate and perhaps even the House. Better to Lose with Cruz – to have Hillary Clinton as president and keep control of Congress – than to risk it all on the risky Trump.

White Fright: So strong is that fear, that a political grandee like Wilson is willing to support a presidential candidate who has vowed – if elected – to appoint justices who would obliterate his signature measure of moderation: support for a woman’s right to choose. How lamentable – and politically destructive – that the center has been blown so far to the right.

If Wilson’s endorsement of Cruz reflects the state of the GOP contest, the convention itself, drawing appearances by all three remaining contenders, was a near-perfect tableaux of the presidential campaign writ large.

trumpcagop16Arriving on Friday, Trump’s motorcade was blocked by enraged protesters from reaching the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, forcing the New York mogul to scramble down a drainage ditch, through a fence that had been cut away by security agents, up an embankment and into a hotel back door. (To see Trump’s immigrant experience in detail, check out the Calbuzz exclusive re-creation.)

Almost wherever he goes, Trump incites outrage and sometimes violence on the left and right. His response was to make light of the protests: “That was not the easiest entrance I’ve ever made,” Trump told the convention, “It felt like I was crossing the border.” As if.

He then proceeded to insult the GOP regulars there to hear him by calling for party unity and then saying he could win without it. He fleetingly mentioned two issues – trade and immigration – but spent most of his time bragging about his poll numbers and his brand of personality politics as if he was angling to be the party’s Vladimir Putin, who he so admires.

cruzcagop16Putting His Best Right Foot Forward: Cruz presented himself for what he is – the logical conclusion of hard-right, evangelical conservatism in the tradition of the California Republican Assembly, the right-wing’s right wing, once run by Michael Schroeder – an erstwhile Wilson foe who now is running Cruz’s California campaign. The CRA has long been sure of itself and has won virtually nothing.

His choice of Carly Fiorina, the fired Hewlett Packard CEO who got creamed by Barbara Boxer in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, was a pathetic stab at trying to be relevant in California and to mitigate against women’s hatred of Trump. But as Fiorina demonstrated with her speech to delegates Saturday night, she is weak sauce that leaves a bad taste. The notion — pushed by Ted and Carly — that the race comes down to Cruz-Fiorina versus Trump and Clinton is plainly absurd on all fronts.

While Trump flies at 30,000 feet, Cruz is organizing at a granular level, district-by-district, block-by-block, hoping to win suburban, inland and Central Valley congressional districts and perhaps in heavily Democratic districts where a small number of conservative Republicans can make a difference in the closed GOP primary. But even if he gets to California’s June 7 primary (assuming he survives Indiana on Tuesday), Trump’s overpowering media whirlpool is likely to suck Cruz under.

kasichcagop16The Afterthought: John Kasich, the Ohio governor,  is, well, a remnant – a throwback to George Shultz Republicanism that is thoughtful and conservative but reasonable enough to consider ways to work with the opposition to get things done. In an era of the political equivalent of the high-speed chase, Kasich is almost certainly road kill.

The problem for all of them – Trump, Cruz and Kasich – is that California is a nation state and Republicanism in all its current forms is out of step with the broad sentiments of California voters.

Of course, someone will win the GOP primary and all the candidates will likely take a portion of the state’s 172 Republican delegates. But in the process of trying to round up those delegates, with their stands on abortion, immigration, environment and social services – and with Trump’s scorn for women and Latinos — the Republican candidates will further ensure that in November, California’s 55 electoral votes, will be for the Democrat.

So enjoy having GOP presidentials around while you can – it won’t last long.