Josh Marshall is worth reading on the Senate Republicans. It may well wind up that Steve Bannon boosts Democrats’ chances in the short term by opening a second front in primarying establishment Republicans, but some of these cretins are going to actually win, and it doesn’t take too many scalps to gain fear and power in Washington. The Tea Party didn’t have to actually defeat very many moderate-ish Republicans in primaries in order to dominate the party (honestly, aside from poor old Mike Castle, I can’t really think of any other examples). Just taking out one or two colorless Republicans in low-turnout primaries could completely shift the status quo, maybe leading to the collapse of the Madisonian system. Ultimately, you just need enough people who refuse to fund the federal government and don’t care about the political outcomes of that choice to create immediate chaos–indeed, many safe Republicans may feel they have nothing to lose, particularly if Trump is a widely-despised one-termer.

I don’t know what this will mean altogether, but regardless of whether Mitch McConnell earns his deserved position on the ash heap of history sooner rather than later, the major implication of this to me is that even the bare minimum of keeping the lights on is going to be extremely difficult if not impossible when we have the next period of divided government under a Democratic president. Fielding candidates devoted to opposing their own party’s leader in the Senate is indeed a “burning it down” move likely to hurt Republicans’ ability to govern, as Bannon has often promised to do, but such people will have an even easier arson job under President Cory Booker as the natural partisan inclination will be to be maximally confrontational. Stuff like Susana Martinez just vetoing all higher ed funding is likely to become the new normal come 2023, on a national level. But ultimately it isn’t even about two or three Bannonite senators, it’s the entire GOP being taken over without much of a fight because Bannonism becomes the new baseline, and unless every single one of Bannon’s primary challengers loses, it’s going to be. (It also helps that soft, opportunistic Bannonism is the de facto Republican philosophy.) Ted Cruz, if you recall, made an issue of his legislator challengers cooperating on essential legislation last year. Didn’t do what he needed it to do for him. But next time, Cruz may well find himself a relative moderate in the same way that John Boehner was a Gingrichian bombthrower back in the Clinton era.

I’d like to be wrong but I don’t know that they’d be able to fight it off if they wanted to. And I fear that Democrats will respond to this by trying to make nice with the establishment GOP instead of fighting the true danger. Both would, alas, be behaving characteristically.

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I’d heard Bari Weiss was problematic, but this is ridiculous. Give Harvey Weinstein the Bill O’Reilly treatment? You mean hide him away for a few months until things blow over? What? Is the lust to bothsides so strong that it has to be indulged preemptively? The parties are simply not the same, and at this point understanding of this should be a fundamental barrier to entry to opining in the mainstream media.

The press has been good on handing Trump, though the true test of whether they’ve truly learned from the errors of their recent past will be whether they resume their old ways once Trump is out of the picture. Given the signs we’re observing I’m not super hopeful.

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The New York Times main feed has massively increased the amount of op-ed columns in it. Sorry, but it’s going to take more than that to get me to read another Bret Stephens column.

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He’s going to lose this race:

This is weak and just plain awful, something forgotten entirely the moment it ends. If Northam does win it will mean he couldn’t ever lose no matter how bad a campaign he ran. You’d think that the 2016 elections would have thrown an existential shock into Democratic Party professionals, but no, it’s the same exact game over and over again. Passionless technocratic centrism is seemingly the only thing they know how to package and sell, damn the public which seems to have little demand for the product.

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Gun control isn’t going to happen with all sides getting in a room and hammering out a deal, Schumer and Pelosi smiling and shaking hands with Trump and Wayne LaPierre. I mean, it will, but not just because of another mass shooting (or several) leading to talks and cooler heads prevailing. The only real way it happens is if gun nuts and the NRA are too afraid to oppose it, and the only way that happens is as the result of a successful campaign that threatens their power and influence. The Clinton/Obama pragmatism worked well in healthcare, when you had a bunch of stakeholders that could be reasoned with and appealed to based on the bottom line. The NRA isn’t like that. They’re ideologues to the fullest extent. The real way to think of this is that the NRA is the Borg (at least before they were ruined in Star Trek: Voyager). There is no deal to be made with them, no status quo that they’ll settle with. Theirs is an unrestrained, maximalist vision and they will accept nothing less. (Admittedly, the Borg are driven by a cold and brutal logic and the NRA are driven by white-hot emotion, but no analogy is perfect). They will never stop until the country resembles the Wild West of their imaginations.

Obama was really frustrated by being unable to pass any gun control bills, but his vision of politics precluded that. Sometimes power is just bad and has to be fought relentlessly. I don’t think that this is a non-pragmatic view going by the dictionary definition, but it goes against the Democrats’ idea of pragmatism. Until Democrats decide to treat the NRA that way, nothing’s going to happen.

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Always interesting how it’s so imperative that Americans be unified after another preventable mass shooting. To what end? To feel sad together? I’m not sad, I’m angry. People who want to stop pointless deaths due to gun violence should be angry. Seeing these sorts of deaths fatalistically as though they were the result of cancer or a natural disaster is wrong, and despite how it’s presented this is anything but an apolitical response. There’s never going to be unity behind gun control. Seriously pursuing it, in fact, would create serious disunity. Some of the people calling for unity understand this very well, others do not and are merely appealing to tired myths that nobody believes anymore. It’s pretty easy to figure out which is which.

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Trump was smart to fire Price over the planes, and honestly he should dismiss Pruitt and Shulkin too. It’s too dicey to give your own base–motivated as it is in no small part by resentment–a reason to resent you, and this is top resentment fodder. I doubt that he will because liberals hate Pruitt so much. Trump doesn’t give a shit about principle or justice, he’s more a “make an example” type of guy, and the example has been made. The funny thing is that he probably thinks this will be the end of it…

Anyway, I just wanted an excuse to put up this video, which also doubles as a tribute to the unfortunately deceased Grant Hart. The work with Husker Du was peerless and even though his first solo effort was really an EP with filler to stretch it out, there’s some amazing stuff on it. The other solo stuff didn’t quite land with me, felt too druggy. Didn’t hang together. Still, one of the greats.

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So Saudi Arabia let its women drive. Good for them. But the perspective on this is bizarre. Saudi Arabia is currently the only Muslim nation that does not let women drive. Seriously. That this is treated as some great benificence bestowed upon the fair sex is laughable. They are literally the last reactionary outlier on this. The press angle on it has been positive when this really should be treated as an embarrassment that something so obviously impractical was kept alive so long just because of dogma.

I keep coming back to this but I never do understand why the Saudis are Good and Iran is Bad. I get that the answer is money but that doesn’t entirely fit: if we established relations with Iran and began trading with them, we could earn more money. Both of them have far from unblemished records on supporting extremism and terrorism. And yet the Saudis get a tonguebath from elites and the media for doing the thing that Iran did decades ago. Go figure.

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