Donald Trump fires somebody, anybody.
The subtext of this New York Times story on big donors’ desire to advise presidential campaigns is that maybe they don’t offer the best advice. Consider this “zinger” that Julian Gingold gave Scott Walker:
“I mentioned that Trump had dinner at the 21 Club in New York with Oliver Stone. The message would get across that he had dinner with a leftist — what sort of conservative are you?”
Dinner with a leftist! It’s the scandal of the season, until Mike Huckabee plays softball with an atheist. Similarly, the Times reports that media mogul Stanley Hubbard was trying to reach Walker in the days before he dropped out of the race, to advise him to get more media training.
These are perhaps not ace political strategies. It makes sense that a professional wealth manager would not know as well as professional campaign managers how to execute a presidential campaign. But the public consensus seems to hold that, if wealth doesn’t necessarily qualify a person to run a campaign, it does qualify them to be president.
Dinosaurs and aliens vie for control of Earth.
Adam Nagourney gets big points for including the clause “tucked away on a stretch of gun stores and pornography shops” in his report on midterm elections at the state level, but otherwise he has depressed the fudge out of me. The overall thrust of the article is that this year’s elections will provide parties with opportunities to control both statehouses and the governor’s mansion in several states—opportunities they will use to stymie each other. By “parties,” we mean the Republican Party. And they’re not just stymying each other; they’re also passing legislation that conflicts with federal law. Welcome to a world of black despair: the Times series on single-party control of state governments.
But this guy is the dick for telling you about it.
Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal ran stories about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court this week, and I urge you to read them. The FISC, which the Times insists on calling the “FISA court” after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, has established a body of case law that significantly expands the federal government’s domestic surveillance powers, and it’s all secret. You’re not allowed to know what the FISC determines the NSA and FBI can legally do, because that would help terrorists. In June, when the Senate asked NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander whether FISC would ever make some of its rulings public, Alexander said:
I don’t want to jeopardize the security of Americans by making a mistake in saying, ‘Yes, we’re going to do all that.’
So “no,” then? Here’s a link to Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” just in case Gen. Alexander is reading this. We know someone in his office is.
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, seen here on school picture day
Is this the face of a machine politician who unquestioningly executes whatever obscure directives party apparatchiks give him? Um, yeah—now that you mention it, it kind of is. Especially if you mention it along with the news that Scott Walker appointed 27 year-old college dropout Brian Deschane to a $65,000-a-year supervisory position in the Wisconsin Bureau of Licensing and Regulation. Deschane has no management experience, only a short history of full-time employment and two drunk driving convictions, but he is the son of Jerry Deschane, head of the Wisconsin Builders Association, which sent Walker over $120,000 in contributions during the 2010 campaign. Two months after he was hired at L&R, Brian Deschane was promoted to a supervisory position in the Wisconsin Commerce Department, where he got a 24% pay raise. Then a bunch of articles came out about that, and Walker demoted Deschane to his earlier job. He’ll also be in charge of Walker’s exploratory team for the 1882 election.
Pollster and Republican strategist Frank Luntz, talking about paradigm synergy or something.
Show of hands, everybody: How many of you remember, from the 2008 election, the specifics of then-candidate Obama’s plan to adjust the federal tax code and gradually undo George Bush’s tax cuts? Okay, now how many of you remember Joe the Plumber? I’m willing to bet that if there wasn’t a massive discrepancy in responses to those two questions, it’s only because Combat! is read by the fourteen smartest people in America. The rest of us don’t like tax code. We like TV, and that’s because we don’t like politics—we like stories. Amidst the blurred tangle of vaguely recollected plans that is* the push for health care reform, nothing is so memorable as the fictional Death Panel, the climactic scene in the story of a government bent on getting between you and your doctor. Don’t believe me? Nearly fifty percent of Americans do, because the difference between history and a story is that you remember a story. According to Eliot Spitzer—yes, that Eliot Spitzer—in Slate, the Republican Party is hard at work concocting another story about financial services reform, and they’ve gotten Frank Luntz to write it. Luntz was the primary author of last year’s Harry Potter and the Abortioner’s Throne, and he’s already released a teaser memo about how Republicans should talk about financial regulation. This sucker’s gonna be a sequel.