What A Weird Day

I feel like a day as bizarre as today deserves a blog post.

First came the news that Former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will be serving time for paying hush money to some of the boys he molested while serving as their wrestling coach prior to his time in office. Hastert, you might recall, became Speaker only because the previous two – Newt Gingrich and Bob Livigston – were forced to resign from the position after it was discovered that they were carrying on extramarital affairs while attempting to impeach Bill Clinton for actions related to his own affair. That whole sequence of events was the first time I realized I didn’t want to be a Republican, and good god is that whole mess much worse in hindsight.

Second came Donald Trump’s weird foreign policy speech. Despite the fact that this was billed as a “serious” speech – he was going to read prepared text from a TelePrompTer! – his people promised in advanced that it would include “no details.” But it would be serious, they said! Which, apparently, simply means taking all of his bizarre statements, running them through a speechwriter, having Trump rewrite and awkwardly deliver them in the way of an overconfident middle schooler presenting a history paper to the class. But let’s leave the delivery aside – the unifying theme was “America First,” but the various elements of it are so contradictory that I honestly don’t know what to say. Our allies can’t rely on us anymore, but under a Trump administration we’ll be a fantastic ally that a) is totally unpredictable, b) is totally reliable, c) doesn’t announce its attentions in advance, d) always keeps it promises, e) requires allies to pay up for their security or else, f) is willing to walk away from negotiations and deals whenever it serves our needs, f) leaves international organizations like NATO and the UN if they don’t do whatever we want. I could go on, but seriously, to say it was a mess of contradictions doesn’t do it justice. It is essentially narcissism as foreign policy doctrine – we will do what we want, when we want, how we want, and we expect everyone to organize themselves appropriately in response to our ever-changing actions, always with smiles on their faces while kneeling before us in supplication. Because we’re America, FUCK YEAH!

Third came the news that Ted Cruz, a man who has no chance of securing the nomination in a straightforward manner, has selected Carly Fiorina as his running-mate. So a guy no one likes picked a woman even fewer people like to be his running-mate should he be able to find a way to convince the convention to give him the nomination. She the proceeded to sing a song from the podium as part of her “acceptance speech.” As I said on Facebook, never underestimate the ability of Ted Cruz to make a strategic blunder. The only way this move makes any sense, so far as I can figure, is if they either plan to go all-in on  anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric or hope to provoke Trump into becoming even more openly misogynistic than he already is. Or perhaps both? Given that Trump was already moving in that direction as he prepares to run against Clinton – her voice is so loud! If she were a man, no one would care about her! – that might not be a horrible plan. But we’ll have to wait for the results from Indiana before we can really judge this move.

Fourth came news that oversimplifies into “a McCain fundraiser in Arizona was busted for running a meth lab in her house.” I’m gonna have to quote part of this story before I get to the one question I will ask in response:

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office told the Republic that they first learned of potential illegal activity at the home after a parcel containing over 250 grams of MDMA arrived there Tuesday from the Netherlands. Upon entering the residence with a search warrant, detectives discovered the meth lab, along with a cornucopia of other drugs including LSD, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, according to the Republic. Officials also found $7,000 in loose currency and counterfeit money.

250 grams of MDMA is….about enough for one dose for 1 1/2 people. What the hell is someone doing having that tiny amount sent from the Netherlands to a house filled with all that other stuff? That’s…gotta be a typo, right?!? [UPDATE: Or maybe I just can’t read. I thought it said 250mg. 250g is a small brick of the stuff. HAHAHA OOPS!]

Finally, fifth came news that Bernie Sanders was “right-sizing” campaign staff around the country. I thought he was building a movement? He’s raised more than $180 million dollars and cannot possibly have spent it all. Campaigning in California will be expensive, but…seriously? The dude railing again corporate power – and for the record, I do agree with much of what he says! – is “coming from a posture of reality” in putting people out of work? That’s precisely what the corporations he most hates say when they lay people off! Dude. DUDE!?!? ARE YOU LISTENING TO WHAT YOUR PEOPLE ARE SAYING?!?

I’d planned to spend the evening writing a post explaining how Trump had exceeded expectations last night, so much so that he now has a clear path to the convention, but then all this happened, and now I don’t have time for all the things I’d hoped to say. So just a few bullets:

  • Remember that delegates are people, that they are selected by state conventions and not voters, and that they have interests of their own that they might want to pursue at the convention.
  • Remember that even once all the primaries and caucuses are over, the delegate numbers are just estimates. We can’t know the real numbers until the first vote at the convention.
  • Remember that the Rules Committee will determine which delegates get credentialed and which get rejected and replaced, that the members of the Rules Committee are people who are not selected by voters and who have interests of their own they might want to pursue, and that both Trump and Cruz have promised to use the rules to challenge the delegates supporting their opponents.
  • Remember that Ted Cruz is precisely the sort of human being who will ignore what’s best for everyone else and do only what’s best for him. As is Donald Trump. So it’s not about what “the party” plans to do; all that matters is what these two men plan to do. And as I say, both have already announced their plans to vigorously pursue their personal interest.
  • Remember that the Rules Committee also determines whether or not the delegates are bound on the first or any other ballot.
  • Remember that the party platform is still very much TBD and will be determined by the interactions of all the aforementioned people.
  • Remember that the time between the convention is usually used by the presumptive nominee to raise funds for the campaign, the party, and all of its various candidates 
  • Remember the schedule at the convention is usually set my that same front-runner, and that in the absence of universally acknowledged nominee, no one right now has any idea what that convention will look like

I could go on, and I will in the coming weeks, but I think you’re starting to get the point. It doesn’t matter what the media says about the state of the race. Until and unless Ted Cruz announces he is formally standing down, the race goes on, right up until the vote is held at the convention. This isn’t ending in May nor in June – one way or another, there is going to be a nasty fight all the way up to the convention in mid-July. Bet on chaos, because it’s still coming.

Oh, and if you live in California, might I suggest that you register yourself as a Republican so that you can vote in their primary? The Democratic one really won’t matter by that point (would Bernie be right-sizing if he believed he could win?), but you can make one hell of an impact on the race if you happen to live in a Democratic district in…say…LA or SF. Given how few Republican voters there are likely to be in some of those districts, your vote in this one race might proportionally count for more than in any other election in your lifetime. And as long as you do it soon, it’s totally allowed under the rules!

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