Saturday, August 1, 2015

Two Ledes, A Body Paragraph, And A Tweeted Mashup Sum Up American Politics

The first lede is from today's New York Times:
Fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.
The vast majority of the $388 million backing presidential candidates this year is being channeled to groups that can accept unlimited contributions in support of candidates from almost any source. The speed with which such “super PACs” can raise money — sometimes bringing in tens of millions of dollars from a few businesses or individuals in a matter of days — has allowed them to build enormous campaign war chests in a fraction of the time that it would take the candidates, who are restricted in how much they can accept from a single donor. [emphasis mine]
The second, from yesterday's Wall Street Journal re-frames the numbers:
Billionaires are bankrolling the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign to an unprecedented degree, with at least 40 of the wealthiest Americans plowing $60 million into super PACs aligned with the top tier of candidates.
The torrent of super PAC money is revolutionizing presidential politics in the wake of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to unlimited contributions from corporations, unions and individuals into these outside groups.
Super PACs backing 17 presidential candidates raised more than $250 million in the first six months of this year, roughly doubling the $125 million raised by the candidates for their campaigns, disclosure reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission show. [emphasis mine]
The New York Times also provides a body paragraph that makes one think that contemporary elections exist so that the real-life equivalents of Randolph and Mortimer Duke can wager a dollar on the outcome:
Many of the country’s biggest donors are not only financial peers but also friends, members of an elite class of contributors who gather at a series of enclaves around the year, from the Club for Growth’s annual Palm Beach retreat on the right, to the closed-door meetings of the liberal Democracy Alliance on the left. Some live or work in the same buildings in New York or Chicago.
The mashup in this tweet seems to capture contemporary politics fairly accurately even if done technically poorly.

Friday, July 31, 2015

What's An "R" behind A Candidate's Name Worth In A South Dakota Statewide Election

Yesterday, Dakota War College called the 2016 South Dakota United States Senate race for Republican incumbent John Thune. In the comments, Troy Jones makes an observation more interesting that the post's prognostication:
I hope Thune has competition. I want to know how low the yellow dog line really is in SD. This would give us a definitive number. I think it is 27%. (75% of registered Democrats). Weiland just about got there with 29.5%. My gut says it is a bit lower.
If Jones is using the "yellow dog" term in its traditional sense, Democrats who will vote for an actual yellow dog before voting Republican, then Susan Wismer's 25.4% in the 2014 gubernatorial race is probably an accurate number. If, on the other hand, the term is being used to indicate voters who absolutely will not vote for a Republican even without a Democrat on the ballot, then Chad Haber's 18% in the 2014 attorney-general race is probably a good number to set as an over/under.

I would like to look at the situation from a different angle. In competitive two-candidate races, each candidate is alleged to start with a base that comprises 40% of the electorate and the battle is waged to get the majority of the remaining 20%. It's pretty that in statewide races, South Dakota's Democrats do not start out with a 40% base and Republicans start with a base well about 40%. That fact raises an obvious question: What is the "R" behind a candidate's name worth? 45%?, 48%, 50% + 1 vote?

I don't know the answer. but I do have one more question; if it's truly impossible for a Republican to lose a statewide race in South Dakota, how long will it take to see the absolute corruption that comes with absolute power?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Minor Musing About Political Coalitions

In the Rod Dreher column that provided Tuesday's quotation of the day, Dreher opines, "the postwar Republican coalition of social conservatives, economic libertarians, and foreign-policy hawks....[is] dead, or at least dying."

For most of my voting life, those groups have been better known as the Reagan coalition. Since 1980, economic libertarians have fared well. Even after the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, the Dow is over 17, 000. It was at 950.68 on the day Reagan took office. None of those responsible for the recession have been punished. The country club Gekkoites who celebrate greed have little to complain about.

The foreign policy hawks have had plenty of sabers to rattle and bombings and invasions aplenty. One wonders what more Republicans can do for the hawks who represent the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned against.

For a quick summer quiz, other than rhetoric what have Republicans provided for social conservatives who arguably have done more to provide Republicans electoral successes than any other part of the Republican coalition? For an essay question, what good reason do social conservatives have to remain in the Republican coalition?

While Dreher may have been commenting about the national Republican party in general and United States Senate Republican leaders in specific, South Dakota has its own example of a fraying coalition. Steve Hickey, a social conservative of good standing, has forcefully challenged South Dakota's usurers. They have responded by disrupting Steve Hildebrand's business, Hildebrand is Hickey's ally in the effort to limit usury in South Dakota. Meanwhile, the mouthpiece of the South Dakota's country club Republicans chortles.

The Democrat's coalition is  also in flux. The Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing of the party are certainly not fond of Hillary Clinton's Wall Street supporters. Further, one can ask what Hispanics, African-Americans, and labor unions have gained from their unwavering support of Democrats.

Were I to bet, an activity that social conservatives assail, I would lay money that the 2016 cycle will be the last cycle in which the 20th Century coalitions hold. This is not to say that social conservatives will support Democrats, but they may stay home or in state and local elections support third-party or independent options.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Learned A New Word On Twitter And It's Making Some Conservatives Very Angry

Scrolling through my timeline, I came across this tweet
Finding the Weigel piece, I confirmed that the word is what it sounds like, "a portmanteau of 'conservative' and 'cuckold.'"

I did not expect to discover that the term has it's origins in the white identity movement nor did I expect to discover that some very conservative folks have bee called cuckservatives. Weigel writes,
You might be one! The hashtag's targets are conservatives who seem to have made peace with elements alien to traditional white Americanism. That could mean the transgender movement; it could mean non-white immigrants. Certainly, criticizing Trump's visit to the border, saying he will alienate certain voters, is a trial run for cuckservative status.
"Just look at them!" said Spencer. "Glenn Beck, Erik [sic] Erickson, Mike Huckabee. They’re mediocrities, or sub-mediocrities. They’re grinning, obese doofuses. No person with a deep soul — no person who wants to take part in a moment that’s idealistic, that’s going to change the world — would want to be a part of 'conservatism.' In a way, the current 'cucks' are the residue of the Bush era. They were the 'conservative' and 'Religious Right' allies of the neoconservatives. They’re still around, for no apparent reason."

Erick Erickson at Red State responds
Despite the white washing by Breitbart.com (pun intended), the phrase “cuckservative” is a racist slur. It is used by racists in support of a racialist agenda. The people who use it are not opposed to illegal immigration, but are opposed to immigration in general. They are opposed to evangelical Christians who support interracial adoption. They are opposed to anyone who does not think in terms of the white race.
They hate Rush Limbaugh. They hate conservatives. They hate actual, practicing Christians. They claim they are conservatives and Christians and they are not.

For the record, Breitbart.com headlined the term as a ". . . A GLORIOUSLY EFFECTIVE INSULT THAT SHOULD NOT BE SLURRED, DEMONISED, OR RIDICULED"

Given that RINO has been overused, it's no surprise that that conservatives would look for a creative, new insult for less their less conservative fellow travelers. That said, I wonder whether the South Dakota blogosphere will side with Red State or Breitbart. More importantly, if some far right South Dakota bloggers do side with Breitbart, which one will be the first to use #cuckservative to attack a South Dakota blogger or politician?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Quotation Of The Day: Whither The Political True Believers? Edition

That said, . . . , it makes me think that the Republican Party is like a church whose congregation really doesn’t believe anymore, but who keeps showing up on Sunday for lack of anything better to do.
Maybe Democrats see their own party like this too. I don’t know.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I Am Tired Of Hearing About Flags

A young man murdered nine people in church, so Americans started discussing whether, how, and when to remove a Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds. Another young man murdered four marines and one sailor. Some folks got really angry that the American flags were not lowered to half-staff quickly enough. Last week, an angry old man with a history of mental illness killed two people in a theater. He had a history of flying the Confederate battle flag, but we've already talked about that flag. Maybe someone will find a way to bring the Louisiana state flag into the discussion.

Granted, discussing flags, is much. easier that discussing why the American murder rate has risen dramatically in 2015. Discussing flags is much easier than trying to repair a mental health system that has been decimated. The flags discussion avoids settling old debates about the Second Amendment.

The battle flag may have come down from the South Carolina statehouse. Sunday morning church services are still the most segregated event in the country. The flags came down to half-staff, but no one has explained how  a war against an ideology can be successfully conducted, ideologies being nebulous entities notoriously difficult to shoot or contain militarily. Unlike repairing America's mental health system, talking about flags costs nothing. It doesn't accomplish much more.

Friday, July 24, 2015

This May Be The Most Frightening Political Tweet Of The Year

All I can say is Long Live the Republic!