Kasich and Cruz agree to coordinate, almost unifying not-Trump vote

Around the fire at the GOP debate, former boxer John Kasich gets inexplicably hostile to Nick Adams.

Around the fire, a punch-druk John Kasich becomes inexplicably hostile to Nick Adams.

Confirming your uncle’s Facebook theories, John Kasich and Ted Cruz have agreed to stay out of each other’s ways in Indian, Oregon and New Mexico, in an effort to prevent Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination outright. Cruz gets Indiana, where he’s polling eight points behind Trump but lags by only two if Kasich leaves the race. Kasich gets a new blanket and a can of soup, and Citizens United v. FEC gets even more laughable in its ban on “coordination” between Super PACs and campaigns. Quote:

Both campaigns said they expected allies and third-party groups to follow their lead, and a representative from the “super PAC” supporting Mr. Kasich confirmed late Sunday that it would not advertise in Indiana.

That’s a totally independent group of citizen activists, right there, independently suspending their advocacy in order to adhere to a deal struck between two campaigns. But will it work?

Continue reading

Will Trump hurt Gianforte and Zinke come November?

Ryan Zinke and Teen Wolf at a 2014 Republican debate in Great Falls

Ryan Zinke and Teen Wolf at a 2014 Republican debate in Great Falls

If you write about politics, don’t try to predict the future. Every right prediction seems obvious in retrospect, and every wrong one will haunt your career, unless your dad was the editor of Commentary. The wise commentator will limit himself to expressing opinions on things that have already happened, so that when people point out his obvious stupidity, he can distract them with the claim that reasonable people can disagree about matters of opinion. I know from experience. This week, though, I have broken my own rule and prognosticated on the fortunes of Rep. Ryan Zinke and gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte if they appear on the same ballot as Donald Trump—or on one from which Trump is conspicuously absent.

Continue reading

Friday links! Wisdom of history edition

A 19th-century clothier warns us against the effects of Chinese labor.

A 19th-century clothier warns us against the effects of Chinese labor.

I think it’s safe to say we’re witnessing the most exciting presidential election of our lifetimes. First black president was pretty cool, but first woman president is similarly significant, and first fascist TV-star president and/or disintegration of the Republican Party pushes it right over the top. Surely this is not the most interesting US presidential election ever, though. The election of 1860 was pretty hot. So was 1924. In these lively times, when so much seems unprecedentedly awful, we are wise to turn to the even more awful stuff that already happened. Today is Friday, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Won’t you peruse the lessons of history with me?

Continue reading

Lindsey Graham is free now

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Lindsey Graham ran for president this year, and it didn’t go great. He ended up one of a dozen candidates knocked out by a celebrity clown and the most hated man in the Senate, and here lies American democracy in 2016. It’s a situation that invites frank assessment—something from which senators refrain on an almost professional basis. But as Miracle Mike Sebba recently pointed out to me, Graham seems to have embraced honesty. Here he is publicly reversing his position on Apple vs. FBI. Here he is declining the opportunity to pledge his support to the eventual nominee. And here he is at the Washington Press Club dinner, complaining that his party has gone “batshit crazy.” Together, these brushstrokes paint a much more likable Senator Graham. Maybe that’s because he more closely agrees with my politics now. But maybe it’s because he’s finally speaking candidly.

Continue reading

Friday links! Disintegration of media edition

A mob destroys the printing press of the Alton Observer in Missouri, 1837.

A mob destroys the printing press of the Alton Observer in Missouri, 1837.

Back when only a handful of publishers had the capacity to distribute text across state lines, media seemed more civilized. That was surely an illusion. From the mouthpiece papers of robber barons to the Hearst Empire to the patrician boardrooms of the National Broadcast Corporation, the history of American media is almost certainly a history of corruption and malfeasance. But at least a smaller professional class is easier to corral. Now that we have multiple 24-hour news channels and jerks like myself can broadcast our scribblings across the world by wiggling our fingers, ethics is to media as dentistry is to the Old West. Today is Friday, and our media have fragmented into whatever anyone is willing to say. Won’t you plot the signal against the noise with me?

Continue reading