It begins, maybe: Daily Bullshit, October 23-25, 2017

My weather station is now partly up. Lightning is still occasionally spuriously detected. There is another piece to this station that has yet to arrive and which will need to be mounted ten feet above obstructions to measure wind (I’m not sure what all else it does, if anything). I’m still thinking about how to mount that—it will never be great because we have lots of tall trees nearby and, no, I’m not climbing to the top of one of the taller trees in Graton to mount this, let alone returning there every so often to change its batteries.


Updates

  1. Originally published, October 25, 6:46 pm.
  2. October 25, 11:08 pm:
    • Ezra Klein thinks that Republicans are privately pissed at Bob Corker because, in their view, his attacks on Donald Trump undermine their effort to pass so-called tax reform,[1] which is to say that, for now, they have it completely backwards.

Donald Trump

I disagree with Peter Beinart’s analysis that

Plenty of high-profile conservatives still passionately denounce Donald Trump. But few still rely on conservative voters, conservative readers or conservative listeners for their livelihood. Anti-Trump conservatism has become a brain without a body. Intellectually, it remains alive; politically, it’s almost dead.[2]

First, an idea is never truly dead politically as long as some elites hold it. The possibility for a return from the ashes remains and, while there are grounds for skepticism, it is occasionally the case that a retreat is successfully strategic. Second, Beinart effectively contrasts authoritarian populists (Trump’s base) with traditionalist conservatives, while overlooking other tendencies (the original #NeverTrump faction is neoconservative and when Beinart refers to “establishment” conservatives, he means functionalist conservatives). This is a pathetically simplistic way of viewing conservatism and it ignores that traditionalist conservatives have never, ever, relied on political power to sustain their ideas.

I do agree that this may be a pivotal moment for the Republican Party. Jeff Flake declared on the Senate floor that “[t]here may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate”[3] and while I’ve been disinclined to entertain notions of a conservative crack-up (they were never a monolith in the first place), it’s clear that the party faces an identity crisis that has, arguably, been building since the fusionism of the 1970s. I do not know if it is yet a pivotal moment for Trump’s presidency.

But it certainly appears to be a historical moment:

Can you imagine Chris Dodd, Evan Bayh and Byron Dorgan saying in 2009 that Barack Obama was debasing the country? Or Fred Thompson, Phil Gramm and Jesse Helms saying in 2001 that George W. Bush needed adult day care? Or George Mitchell, Sam Nunn and David Boren going on CNN in 1993 to call Bill Clinton a congenital liar?

Of course not. In fact, it’s inconceivable. As Flake said yesterday, this is not normal. None of it: not Trump’s behavior, nor the reaction to it.

That’s why the mainstream media cannot cover the back-and-forth like a remake of “Mean Girls.” It’s so much more than just another Trump Twitter feud. Objectively, this is an extraordinary moment in our nation’s history.[4]

President Trump finds himself at midweek facing blistering criticism from Capitol Hill for what he says and how he says it.

And that’s from Republicans.

So far, three GOP senators have this week done something unheard of in modern U.S. political history: a strong rebuke, and almost even ridicule, for the president from their own party.[5]

For [George W.] Bush and [John] McCain in particular to go against a president of their own party is unprecedented. That both men are not Trump fans is no surprise; that they continue to speak about what they perceive as drift in the party and the United States at large in a new president’s first term is stunning. It is yet another indication that they see Trump’s populism as a threat to change the very nature of the GOP.[6]

Some Republicans—clearly not all—are finally starting to grapple with the fact that Donald Trump has become the story, and that that story is drowning out their agenda. Barack Obama was a bitter pill—and not just for authoritarian populists—and conservatives have been waiting eight long years to advance their agenda. Only it turns out that they haven’t actually agreed on the details of that agenda, that Republican control of government presently includes a catastrophe in the White House, and that they still cling to a delusion that that catastrophe can help to advance that agenda.[7] These are all problems. Excising the catastrophe won’t, in itself, resolve differences over the agenda but these Republicans are slowly recognizing that they need to do this in order to even address those differences. “There are several GOP senators who feel the same way [Corker] does, but they won’t put their views on the record,” writes James Hohmann,[8] but what, as far as I know, we don’t know is first, how many Republican politicians are coming to this view; and second, how the conflict within the party between those who support and those who oppose Trump will play out—or, more precisely, how it will play out, when. I still think Trump will be out of office within a year and I’m inclined to think that it is a necessary but not sufficient first step when the need to get him out has crystalized in his opponents’ minds. For the moment, however, it appears that many of them have it exactly backwards:

Establishment [functionalist] conservatives agree with virtually everything Corker is saying, but the devil’s bargain they’ve made is that debasing themselves to support Trump will be worth it if they can reform the tax code and unwind Obamacare. But if they support Trump and fail to pass their agenda — as has been the case thus far — then they will have mortgaged their souls for nothing, and that will truly be unforgivable.

Meanwhile, Corker will be remembered as one of the rare Republicans who spoke out against a president whom history will hold in abysmally low regard, and his example will make his colleagues’ cowardice look all the more craven. You can see why they’re pissed.[9]

Peter Grier and Henry Gass, “Top US politicians warn of democratic values at risk,” Christian Science Monitor, October 20, 2017, https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/1020/Top-US-politicians-warn-of-democratic-values-at-risk

Ezra Klein, “The Republican Party, in one tweet,” Vox, October 24, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/24/16534770/trump-corker-tax-cuts

Peter Beinart, “Anti-Trump Conservatism Is Politically Dead,” Atlantic, October 25, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/10/jeff-flake-joins-the-conservative-exodus/543909/

James Hohmann, “Flake and Corker feel liberated to speak their minds. That should terrify Trump,” Hill, October 25, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/10/25/daily-202-flake-and-corker-feel-liberated-to-speak-their-minds-that-should-terrify-trump/59efd11030fb045cba000a28/

John Myers, “‘Reckless, outrageous and undignified,’” Los Angeles Times, October 25, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-20171025-story.html

Niall Stanage, “GOP braces for what’s next amid Corker, Flake tumult,” Hill, October 25, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/357011-gop-braces-for-whats-next-amid-corker-flake-tumult


Fire

Fig. 1. Sonoma County re-entry map, October 25, 2017. Orange areas indicate mandatory evacuations; green signal limited re-entry (for residents only). The slightly lighter orange dots mark C-POD locations (whatever those are, and yes, I tried googling it).

Ruben Vives and Richard Winton, “Fire loss total surges to 8,400 structures in Northern California,” Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-wildfires-devastation-20171023-story.html


Muslim ban

Lawrence Hurley, “Supreme Court dismisses Hawaii’s challenge to Trump travel ban,” Reuters, October 24, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-immigration/supreme-court-dismisses-hawaiis-challenge-to-trump-travel-ban-idUSKBN1CT2NJ


Catalonia

Graham Keeley, “Catalans vow to escape after ‘worst attack’ since Franco,” Times, October 23, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/catalans-vow-to-escape-after-worst-attack-since-franco-zq70s0m3m


  1. [1]Ezra Klein, “The Republican Party, in one tweet,” Vox, October 24, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/24/16534770/trump-corker-tax-cuts
  2. [2]Peter Beinart, “Anti-Trump Conservatism Is Politically Dead,” Atlantic, October 25, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/10/jeff-flake-joins-the-conservative-exodus/543909/
  3. [3]Jeff Flake, quoted in Peter Beinart, “Anti-Trump Conservatism Is Politically Dead,” Atlantic, October 25, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/10/jeff-flake-joins-the-conservative-exodus/543909/
  4. [4]James Hohmann, “Flake and Corker feel liberated to speak their minds. That should terrify Trump,” Hill, October 25, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/10/25/daily-202-flake-and-corker-feel-liberated-to-speak-their-minds-that-should-terrify-trump/59efd11030fb045cba000a28/
  5. [5]John Myers, “‘Reckless, outrageous and undignified,’” Los Angeles Times, October 25, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-20171025-story.html
  6. [6]Peter Grier and Henry Gass, “Top US politicians warn of democratic values at risk,” Christian Science Monitor, October 20, 2017, https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/1020/Top-US-politicians-warn-of-democratic-values-at-risk
  7. [7]Ezra Klein, “The Republican Party, in one tweet,” Vox, October 24, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/24/16534770/trump-corker-tax-cuts
  8. [8]James Hohmann, “Flake and Corker feel liberated to speak their minds. That should terrify Trump,” Hill, October 25, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/10/25/daily-202-flake-and-corker-feel-liberated-to-speak-their-minds-that-should-terrify-trump/59efd11030fb045cba000a28/
  9. [9]Ezra Klein, “The Republican Party, in one tweet,” Vox, October 24, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/24/16534770/trump-corker-tax-cuts

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