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This cannot be repeated enough: a plan lacking hard numbers is no plan, but Ryan is smart enough to know that a picture of himself cleaning a plate at a soup kitchen is worth more than actual numbers in a budget document to D.C. journalists who hate all that math shit anyway, getting as it does in the way of game-change theater criticism coverage of politics. Why talk about ten-year projections when you can talk about whether Marco Rubio is a handsome young Republican savior, or the handsomest youngest Republican savior? And there’s always this chestnut:

The same dynamic is also true of Ryan’s much-hyped plan to overhaul poverty spending. House Republicans need to cut hundreds of billions of dollars in spending for the poor, since doing so is the only way to reconcile their commitment to deep tax cuts, higher defense spending, and maintaining retirement benefits for people age 55 and up. But Ryan also needs to pose as an earnest friend of the poor, not as the champion of the upward income distribution his policies would actually bring about. So the “anti-poverty” plan relies on vague language and pixie-dust promises about rooting out unstated waste. “Many of the specific policy prescriptions aimed at addressing the problems identified in the paper were left out because members couldn’t agree on details such as how to prevent waste and fraud, according to aides,” report Kelsey Snell and Mike DeBonis.

Obviously, waste and fraud exist in every program, public and private. But there’s no better way of smoking out a fraud than if they can’t get any more granular than that. Ryan no doubt thinks that virtually all federal programs are “waste” so this does nothing.

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Basically, the only way Republicans deny Trump the nomination is if the RNC Rules Committee frees delegates from all obligations. Now we know who those people are and it sure doesn’t sound at all likely. Basically, “Dump Trump” was always a pipe dream, reminiscent of the line from Gorky Park about how implausible a lie is if the lie is that you’ll escape. Getting rid of the person who won the nomination fairly would fatally damage the reputation of the Republican Party (among its members–it has no reputation to ruin among the rest of us) and would give Trump every incentive to sabotage Republican chances in November. Trading a likely disaster for a certain one is not smart strategery, though these people still look to Bill Kristol for political strategy guidance, so…

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It would be pretty surprising if Brexit led to Irish reunification. But given the retreat of the church there and the increasing liberality of the Irish Republic, and Northern Ireland’s desire to remain within Europe, it seems at least conceivable in a way it hasn’t ever been before. You never know.

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Continuing with the below-the-presidential race theme, because sometimes you just need to not consider Donald Trump for a while, we recently saw some career-worst poll numbers for SCOTUS obstructor-in-chief Chuck Grassley. Doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to lose this time, as the article argues. But you don’t want to acquire the reputation of an obstinate partisan (let alone the most obstinate partisan) during a presidential election year in a blue state. This particular reach goal is getting increasingly within reach, as I’ve long thought it might be.

I try not to be unrealistically optimistic, but if Chuck Grassley comes anywhere close to losing this year, do you really think that less formidable 2010-wavers like Rob Portman and Pat Toomey can hang on?

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Interesting. A few months ago the idea of Rubio losing a Florida Republican Senate primary would have seemed ridiculous, but he proved himself to be such a paper tiger running for president that it doesn’t hardly seem crazy at all. I still tend to doubt it will happen, but given that he’s sunk far beneath even my own low opinion of the man by pretending that the Orlando shooting was anything to him other than a convenient pivot point to get into the race he swore he wouldn’t enter, I’ll be rooting for it.

 

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I find myself without much of a strong opinion on the issues. If I lived in the UK I figure I would vote Remain, but sometimes I read American writers with really strong opinions and I just don’t see the urgency for us. In or out, life is pretty much going to go on for us as normal for us. What really strikes me is just how uninspiring the British political classes are–my distaste for David Cameron and George Osborne was I thought pretty strong, though Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have easily surpassed it. At this point the Leave people seem to simply be throwing out the names of countries (with the implication that they’d eventually join the EU and add to dreaded immigration totals), even though Turkey is unlikely to ever be a member of the EU and the math just doesn’t work out for a new peasant underclass of Albanians to swamp Britain (the former has about 1/20 the population of the latter, and not all of those are going to leave home, and of those not all are going to go to Britain, etc.). Whatever. Remain probably will win, but not by enough to settle the issue forever.

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How did Trump win the primaries? I’ve been working on a theory that he essentially did to the Republican Party what they’ve been doing to American society for the past two generations: divided and conquered it with polarization. He split off the Bush people, turned their latest office contestant into a despised joke and let Jeb! die off quietly. (The irony of the father’s tolerance of racebaiting (via Ailes and Atwater) creating a new GOP in which the son could not find purchase is both rich and satisfying, as is his being alive to see it.) Then Trump split the religious right into Trump and Cruz camps and turned Cruz into a pariah among many of the voters he needed, undermining Cruz’s integrity by calling out his aggressive tactics, making a mockery of any claim to moral leadership. He outsourced the work of taking down Rubio to Chris Christie, and then added Christie to his team. He basically ignored Kasich, which was the smart move there. So he won with 38%, likely the absolute maximum he could have gotten, but it was perfectly orchestrated so as to be enough. Karl Rove would toast him if he weren’t too busy crying into his beer.

Which is what makes this so comical. The notion that Democrats are “choosing” Muslims over LGBT people by, I guess, not supporting Trump’s immigration policies is a perfect example of why Trump’s skill set worked so brilliantly in the primaries but does not scale up to the general election. A wedge issue is only successful if the larger group actually supports it, and the Muslim ban does not do well outside of Republican primary voters. Seems obvious to me that Trump’s already used up his ammunition on Hillary and it did nothing, while the Democrats have just begun to hit Trump.

Given how poorly it’s going for Trump, you have to figure the odds of a convention coup are rising, but that cure would probably be worse than the disease. The only way it ends less than catastrophically for them is if Trump takes himself out of the race, and the likelihood of that depends on how much of a team player you think Trump to be.

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