Four species of Beltway Republicans

In focus groups I conduct across the country, even Republican voters who readily acknowledge Trump was not their first or even tenth choice in the Republican primary in 2017 will nonetheless say they are glad he is picking fights, breaking things, and draining the swamp. Last week, Trump’s approval rating among Republicans tied its record high of 90 percent.

.. a taxonomy of Republican leaders with four different categories.

.. [1] The first category of D.C. Republican is the Trump enthusiast. The true believer, the die hard. This is the type of person who was aboard the Trump Train from the get-go, someone for whom the Republican Party of Donald Trump is the party they’ve always hoped for. Tough on immigration and trade, never enamored of Bush-era foreign policy, thrilled to have overthrown the old guard, this is the type of individual for whom a Trump administration has made Washington their oyster.

[2] The second category of D.C. Republican is the establishmentarian. Someone who was perfectly comfortable under the “old ways” but has adapted quickly to survive in their new, harsher environs. They play for Team GOP and Trump is their quarterback, so they’re happy to run his plays as long as they keep winning games. Trump was not toward the top of their list of possible choices for a nominee in 2016, but once he was picked, he was the guy and it was time to fall in line. A significant portion of Capitol Hill and the Republican Party apparatus fits into this category. Do they love the tweeting? Not really. Do they care enough to object? Absolutely not, not so long as regulations are being reformed and taxes are being cut.

[3] .. The third category is the internal opposition. As the continuing echo of the “Never Trump” movement, they view Trump as consistently wrong and categorically dangerous. They have found common cause with Democrats in the #Resistance, holding semi-secret meetings to discuss how to combat what they view as a hostile parasite that has found in the GOP a too-willing host. There is very little that they find praiseworthy about the current moment, and there have even been moments where some, like former presidential candidate Evan McMullin, have actively called for the defeat of mainstream Republicans at the ballot box as a way of teaching the party a lesson.

[4] But there is a fourth group. For lack of a better name at the moment, I will shamelessly steal the name of the excellent podcast hosted by columnist Jonah Goldberg: Goldberg in his introductory episode notes that his show will be neither pro- nor anti-Trump, but rather something for those who feel left behind by the other factions, who live in a constant state of feeling that everyone else around them seems to have gone crazy.

Has Trump finally gone too far?

Up until now, Trumpism has been a largely victimless crime. Or, to be exact, one whose victims were largely speculative and unnamed.

President Trump has been doing great damage to the fabric of our democracy with his venomous attacks on the free press (“Our Country’s biggest enemy”), the FBI (a “den of thieves and lowlifes”), people of color (who hail from “shithole countries” and “maybe shouldn’t be in the country” if they don’t stand for the national anthem), the political opposition (traitors who don’t “seem to love our country very much”) and other favorite targets. He has been doing just as much damage to America’s international standing by attacking our allies (e.g., calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest & weak”) and praising our enemies (e.g., calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “tough,” “smart,” “talented,” “funny”) while launching trade wars and tearing up international agreements.

.. his barbarous policy of separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents, Trump has finally provided vivid, camera-ready examples of how his policies are destroying the lives of ordinary people.

.. The suffering of adults — and adult men at that — doesn’t pique popular sympathy the way that the mistreatment of children does.

..Why would Trump do something so evil? Because he is desperate.

.. for all of Trump’s “fire and fury,” he has not managed to secure the border. Failing at his top task, he is lashing out at defenseless mothers and children in the hope that his inhumanity will scare other immigrants from coming.

.. not a single Republican has signed on. Even Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the most liberal member of the Senate GOP caucus, is willing to criticize the family-separations policy but won’t support the effort to repeal it.

.. Republicans, seeing the fate of Trump critics such as Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) — who was just defeated in his primary after the president tweeted an endorsement of his opponent — are so petrified of crossing the vengeful strongman in the White House that they are voluntarily separating themselves from their sense of right and wrong.

.. His GOP enablers are so craven, so soulless, so abject in their dishonor that they will allow any amount of human suffering rather than risk suffering the wrath of Trump.

.. he won’t be forced to act by Congress.

.. If only we could keep the hard-working Latin American newcomers and deport the contemptible Republican cowards — that would truly enhance America’s greatness.

Putin’s New Election Ploy: Putting Challengers on TV

Ahead of the Russian presidential vote next spring, the Kremlin has a fresh strategy to drive turnout—and the election’s authority

Earlier this month, veteran liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky appeared on a top-ranked political show to denounce Mr. Putin’s budget policy and military interventions abroad. And in a state-TV interview at the end of last month, socialite Ksenia Sobchak, a surprise potential candidate, complained about a lack of freedom of speech and called for new faces in government.

.. the Kremlin, analysts say, wants to boost turnout and dissipate support for one man who almost certainly won’t be on the ballot: Alexei Navalny, an anticorruption blogger who has challenged the Kremlin in recent months by bringing tens of thousands of Russians onto the streets.
..  the new faces will spice up the race

“The problem for the Kremlin is that the campaign isn’t interesting at all,“ Mr. Kynev said. ”Without that, it’s hard to get the turnout up, and turnout is the key to legitimacy.”

.. Mr. Yavlinsky, a bookish economist who ran for president in 1996 and 2000, was struck off the ballot last time on a technicality.

.. “Yavlinsky is harmless whether he’s on TV or not. He’s stuck to the same melody for years,” said Alexey Chesnakov, a former Kremlin aide who now heads the Center for Current Policy, a think tank.

As for Ms. Sobchak, Mr. Chesnakov said she “won’t take votes off Putin. She suits the Kremlin.”

 

Why I Was Fired by Google

James Damore says his good-faith effort to discuss differences between men and women in tech couldn’t be tolerated in company’s ‘ideological echo chamber’

How did Google, the company that hires the smartest people in the world, become so ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate and reasoned argument?

.. We all have moral preferences and beliefs about how the world is and should be. Having these views challenged can be painful, so we tend to avoid people with differing values and to associate with those who share our values. This self-segregation has become much more potent in recent decades. We are more mobile and can sort ourselves into different communities; we wait longer to find and choose just the right mate; and we spend much of our time in a digital world personalized to fit our views.

 .. Google is a particularly intense echo chamber because it is in the middle of Silicon Valley and is so life-encompassing as a place to work. With free food, internal meme boards and weekly companywide meetings, Google becomes a huge part of its employees’ lives. Some even live on campus. For many, including myself, working at Google is a major part of their identity, almost like a cult with its own leaders and saints, all believed to righteously uphold the sacred motto of “Don’t be evil.”
.. Echo chambers maintain themselves by creating a shared spirit and keeping discussion confined within certain limits. As Noam Chomsky once observed, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
.. But echo chambers also have to guard against dissent and opposition. Whether it’s in our homes, online or in our workplaces, a consensus is maintained by shaming people into conformity or excommunicating them if they persist in violating taboos. Public shaming serves not only to display the virtue of those doing the shaming but also warns others that the same punishment awaits them if they don’t conform.
..In my document, I committed heresy against the Google creed by stating that not all disparities between men and women that we see in the world are the result of discriminatory treatment. When I first circulated the document about a month ago to our diversity groups and individuals at Google, there was no outcry or charge of misogyny. I engaged in reasoned discussion with some of my peers on these issues, but mostly I was ignored.
.. Everything changed when the document went viral within the company and the wider tech world. Those most zealously committed to the diversity creed—that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and all people are inherently the same—could not let this public offense go unpunished. They sent angry emails to Google’s human-resources department and everyone up my management chain, demanding censorship, retaliation and atonement.
.. Upper management tried to placate this surge of outrage by shaming me and misrepresenting my document, but they couldn’t really do otherwise: The mob would have set upon anyone who openly agreed with me or even tolerated my views.

Russia Detains over 1,000 Anti-Putin Protesters, Ignoring U.S. Calls to Release

Russian police waded into the crowd with batons and pepper spray, detaining more than a thousand protesters by the end of the day. Some estimates say the total is closer to two thousand.

.. Navalny himself never made it to the protest, as he was arrested while leaving his flat. He posted a photo of the swarm of officers descending upon him on Twitter with the sarcastically jaunty message, “Happy Russia Day!” Russia Day, a public holiday, fell on Monday.

 .. One of the charges leveled against Navalny is that he broke an agreement with Moscow police by relocating his rally at the last minute. Police said they would allow the demonstration to proceed at the new location, provided the participants did not shout slogans or wave placards, both of which they proceeded to do with gusto. Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s FSB security service, described the change of venue as a “provocation.”
.. “As for those who indulged in provocative actions, breaking the law, in this case the authorities took action against them in full compliance with our legislation,” Peskov insisted.
.. Navalny further argued that moving the location of the Moscow demonstration was not a stunt but a necessity because city authorities pressured contractors into withholding the sound and stage equipment needed. He also argued that the relocated gathering was legal under Russian constitutional guarantees of citizens’ rights to assembly.

Resilience of the Resistance

Jason Chaffetz

.. “The once-brash congressional inquisitor has twisted himself into a pretzel trying to explain why he hasn’t been investigating President Trump, the most conflict-ridden commander-in-chief in modern U.S. history. And the 50-year-old congressman has experienced an unexpected level of outrage in his own deep red district.”