Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The long-delayed Trump encounter with reality begins

I've been amused for a year now by the ominous-sounding threat Trump supporters are fond of that we who disapprove of Orange Julius are in for a sobering "confrontation with reality"  once Donald Trump takes office. The nature of the threat is vague, and Trump's nomination (with well under half the Republican primary vote) and surprise election (with fewer popular votes than his main opponent) seem to have left them with the erroneous impression that they would know reality if it bit them in the leg.

Today ABC and the Washington Post came out with a poll which reveals that Donald Fredovich is the least popular incoming president in 40 years. After the bitterly divisive 2000 election, George W. Bush came into office with a 56% approval rating; Trump will take office on Friday with only 40% approving.

54% see Trump unfavorably and 52% say that he isn't qualified to be president. They're right, of course. The one bright spot for Trump is that six and ten expect him to do an excellent job on the economy and job creation. This seems to indicate that he has succeeded in selling at least a majority of the American people on the inaccurate notion that he has a record in the private sector that justifies such confidence, and will probably lead to disappointment.

Trump's reaction is predictable. He claims that the poll- like those which showed him trailing Hillary Clinton prior to the election- are "rigged." Reality will take a long time to confront Trump and his followers. But with numbers like that, the confrontation, when it comes, will not be pretty.


Monday, January 16, 2017

What does "tough on China" mean, anyway?

The Trump dossier may or may not contain false information, but it is NOT "fake news!"

In this country, a man is considered innocent under the law until proven guilty.

Under the law. God's law, as well as man's.

Martin Luther explained the commandment against bearing false witness this way:  "We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything." Fair enough. But neither the American legal tradition nor the Eighth Commandment requires us when a grave accusation is made against a public figure which involves factual matters, that we forego disproving or verifying it. This is especially true when a matter of national security is involved.

Here is an article by Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes on a matter which needs to be addressed. A former MI-5 agent supposedly detailed by the SIS to investigate reports that the Russian FSB had compromising information about Donald Trump apparently resigned in frustration that despite the fact that the FBI had been investigating the same matter for seven months, it was sitting on its conclusions. He reportedly turned several memos on the investigation over to Sen. John McCain, who shared them with FBI Director Comey. They were the subject of a briefing given to both President Obama and President-elect Trump.

If we can dismiss them, shouldn't we know that? And if can't dismiss them, why not? How worried should we be? Certainty may not be possible here. But there is a great deal of difference between a ten percent chance that the dossier is accurate, or partially accurate, and a 90% chance. Shouldn't we know whether it seems to the intelligence community to be closer to the first or to the second?

According to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, some conclusion regarding the authenticity of the documents and the information they contain was, in fact, reached. He explains the briefing on the contents of the documents given to both President Obama and Mr. Trump thus:

The IC (Intelligence Community) has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.

What were those conclusions? And why are they being kept secret?

If, as Mr. Trump loudly insists, the documents are fraudulent and the accusations are false, and the intelligence community has so concluded, why not clear Mr. Trump's name by announcing that conclusion? Apparently,  the evidence is not strong enough to result in a positive conclusion.  On the other hand, if the intelligence community has concluded that there is merit in the accusations, or even that there are grounds to suspect that there might be, shouldn't we know that, too- and doesn't the very silence of the intelligence community leave Mr. Trump under a shadow he may not deserve to be under?

Since the information has apparently has not been verified by either the intelligence community or the numerous independent investigations which have been looking int the accusations for months, the question Hennessey and Wittes ask is an acute one: why are they still apparently being taken seriously?

When Mr. Trump himself insisted so loudly and so long that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya and thus constitutionally ineligible to be president, there was no hesitation in making the falsehood of that accusation a matter of public record (not that Mr. Trump was stopped by that fact from continuing to insist on it), we were not left in suspense. Since the matter involved here is a question of whether the man who on Friday will become President of the United States and is known already to be in a position to profit substantially from his foreign policy decisions regarding Russia due to his large holdings there and business connections with important Russian officials (and who has refused to take adequate steps to eliminate this conflict of interest, insisting that putting his holdings in a trust to be administered by his children ought to be enough) is in a position to be blackmailed by that very country is a matter of grave national concern, especially since his own views seem to tilt so strongly in favor of that country's dictator.

In national security matters, a different standard of proof is involved than in criminal trials, even though Mr. Trump and Republicans generally seem not to realize that fact. You have to go on the basis of probabilities, of the preponderance of the evidence, as the lawyers say. But you also have to bear in mind the stakes. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is simply not a reasonable standard, and if there is even a reasonable risk that the information is true, the American people deserve to know that fact and just what the evidence is.
Sen. McCain is right: a Senate select committee to investigate the matter, perhaps meeting in executive session, is very much in order.

Perhaps we might have to take the word of Sen. McCain and his colleagues for the likelihood that the reports are true. But the matter is surely not, as Mr. Trump insists, a matter of "fake news." The apparent fact that the charges cannot be dismissed out of hand is very much real news. For that matter,

Basic decency and yes, even the Eighth Commandment require that the matter be handled delicately and Mr. Trump's privacy not be invaded more than necessary. But when a man chooses a career in public life he gives up a certain amount of privacy, and when runs for President he gives up any claim to it in any matter where the national security of the United States is involved.

The matter needs to be investigated by people independent of the Executive Branch and directly accountable to the American people. We certainly shouldn't jump to the conclusion that the reports are true. But the stakes are too high to simply blow it off.

ADDENDUM: After consideration, I have decided not to include a link to the unredacted dossier as released by "Buzzfeed." It's a matter of public record, but even repeating the details strikes me as unfair to Mr. Trump.  But here is another article by Hennessey, Wittes and Quinta Jurecic putting it into perspective.

Fail!

For quite a while I've had strange subscriptions for everything from perfume newsletters to travel agencies (even updates for an Uber driver in San Francisco!) turning up in my mailbox. They're of a nature and pattern which seem clearly to be a matter of harassment rather than random spam.

Or attempted harassment. They've intensified lately. Could the party responsible be a an Alt-Right creature who doesn't like what I've said about Donald Fredovich? It would be kind of... in character. Childish, stupid, and not very effective. Lame- almost as if the person or persons responsible doesn't know how easy it is to mark something as spam.

Just about as lame as the incoming administration is likely to be.

Is not working, Tovarisch.

Friday, January 13, 2017

And you wonder why so many of us are worried about Trump?

Donald Fredovich conducted a "sting" operation recently to find a "leak" in the intelligence community that might expose classified information- or rather, to prove that if there was one it would come from the intelligence committee rather than from his personal staff. 

He deliberately didn't tell his personal staff about a meeting with intelligence officials so that if it was in the newspapers it would be clear that the intelligence community leaked it. Sure enough, it turned up in the papers. Busted, right?

Well, no. You see, the fact that PEOTUS was having an intelligence briefing isn't classified information. The contents of the briefing, yes. But not the mere fact that it was taking place, which is fair game for the news media.

Two predictions: things like this will keep happening in the next four years, proving further that Donald Trump has absolutely no idea what he's doing when it comes to any aspect of his new job.

My second prediction is that Trumpistas won't care, and will come out with a million reasons why it's not only perfectly OK for POTUS to be clueless but a good idea.

Murder. Fifth Avenue. Broad daylight. In fact, I think I'm going to make that a new label for this blog. I expect to be using it a lot by the time Mike Pence or Tim Kaine or Ted Cruz takes over from Orange Julius.

Pray for Gen. Mattis's powers of persuasion.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

These are going to be a long four years

Yesterday the man who accused Ted Cruz's father of conspiring with Lee Harvey Oswald to kill JFK and insisted that Barack Obama was born in Kenya accused CNN of being a fake news organization.

Now, I have no brief for CNN. But dude.... your opponents have no need to make up fake news about you. There is no greater embarrassment possible for anyone to inflict upon you than you inflict on yourself daily through your own erratic, juvenile behavior

The problem is that now you're an embarrassment to the entire nation.

It's going to be a long four years for anyone with an ounce of respect for the dignity of the office this man is about to disgrace, or for the dignity of this nation. This clown has about as much idea of how a president should act as he does of what a president's job is- which is to say, none at all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A petulant little boy

I agree with every word Meryl Streep said about Donald Trump at the Golden Globe Awards.

I also agree with Meghan McCain's criticism of Streep's statement: that one of the things that elected Trump was the feeling on the part of many people in America that they were constantly being sneered at by the cultural elites and that Ms. Streep's speech inevitably sounded to them like yet another case of that happening.

Ms. Streep was exactly right. Evil is evil, and one does not turn evil into good by failing to call it what it is. But how does one respectfully tell others that they're being played for fools., and enabling evil to boot?

But the truly disturbing thing about the incident is that when Ms. Streep criticized him, Trump couldn't simply ignore her. He never can simply ignore his critics. He can't resist validating them.  He's the President-elect of the United States. He can trivialize what anybody says about him by simply treating it as beneath his notice. But instead, he always insists on descending to their level- and beneath it. Like a petulant little boy, he had to do in Ms. Streep's case what he always does when he's criticized: fire back with a stupid comment personally attacking his critic in terms having nothing to do with the criticism.

If you criticize our President-elect, he will stick his tongue out at you. He cannot stop himself from foregoing the advantage the dignity of his position gives him and making himself look petty and childish,

This is textbook narcissist stuff, right out of DSM-V. Have you no pride, Mr. Trump? Dumb question. Let me rephrase. Don't you realize that every time you do this, you're the one who loses? Don't you see that when you condescend to fire back and especially when you do it so childishly, you forfeit the high ground your position affords you?

Sir, you're seventy years old. In a few weeks, you will become the President of the United States. Isn't it time you grew up?

Monday, January 9, 2017

What would a Neanderthal's voice have sounded like?

Probably a little like Curly of the Three Stooges.

Weird, but interesting.



HT: Mental Floss

Sad but true: Foreign tyrants will play Trump like a piano

There are lots of drawbacks to having a narcissist as President of the United States. One of them is that any enemy of our country can get him to do pretty much anything by just manipulating his emotions.

Friends too, of course. It's no secret in any capital of the world that our incoming president is as playable as a routine ground ball. Over the next several months it will become all too clear for anyone but a Trump fan (a group of people who, as The Donald once bragged, would still support him if he committed murder in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue in New York) that even if it were not for his instability, stubbornness, profound ignorance and deep personal corruption he would still be an unprecedented threat to our national security.

The magnitude of the blunder made by the strategically-located minority of the American people who voted for the man in November will take a while to become undeniable to the non-lobotomized among us.  Die-hard Trump supporters, of course, have never been inclined to let facts get in the way of their lockstep following of Orange Julius, and probably never will. But with every ill-advised tweet and blast of empty bluster, he's proving his critics right before he's even inaugurated.

It's a legitimate question, alas: Whose side is Trump on?

Even in the face of evidence to the contrary and with none at all to support his position, President-elect Trump has been staunch and insistent on one thing: defending Vladimir Putin and the Russian party line.

Given his open admiration of the Russian dictator (and Putin's open praise and covert efforts to aid Trump's campaign), his Russian investments (of which he refuses to divest himself, being willing only to put them in a trust to be administered by his children!) and his apparent inability to distinguish between the national interests of Russia and those of the United States, Evan McMullin asks a perfectly legitimate question: are we about to inaugurate a president who will put Russia's interests before our own?

Even if it's done in ignorance- a commodity in which Mr. Trump abounds- the evidence so far is not encouraging. And remember: he will be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution the moment he takes the oath. Combine all that with his frequently-demonstrated ignorance of that Constitution and contempt for the Bill of Rights, and it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the administration of the most ill-equipped and unfit man ever to assume the presidency is not going to end well.

Donald Trump has a lifelong habit of playing fast and loose with the law. I don't think that's going to change. This time, though, the world will be watching- and while his admirers probably won't care, getting away with his antics is going to be kind of tough from this point on.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Is 'repeal and delay' the best strategy for replacing Obamacare?

"Repeal and delay-" getting rid of Obamacare with certain provisions remaining int effect until some future date, when replacement legislation is ready- seems to be the approach favored by Republican leaders. But not all conservative thinkers favor that approach.

The alternative is to repeal individual provisions of Obamacare while simultaneously replacing them with provisions which keep their virtues while fixing what's broken in them.  The result would be a minimum of confusion and chaos and a steady and systematic progress toward a system involving less coercion and more reliance on the private sector. Otherwise the problems faced by those who can afford neither health insurance nor the penalties for not having it might end up being multiplied and extended to entirely new classes of consumers.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Well, Trumpkins, it's not classified anymore.

Next excuse?

But wait! Pravda Fox News has the answer! The report was "rigged!"

It seems that Fox News- which prostituted itself so badly during the recent campaign that real conservatives will never be able to take it seriously again- has adopted the Trumpkins' favorite response- the "Black Knight gambit-" to deny reality whenever it makes Donald Fredovich look bad. Which is usually.

Is speaking Donald Fredovich's language!


The Senate Democrats revert to form

Q; What changes faster than a Trump campaign promise once Trump is elected?

A: The Democrats' position on the proper role of the opposition party in the Senate when a Republican president is elected.

Chuck Schumer, the new Senate Minority leader, says that the Democrats (who only months ago were horrified at the notion of a Supreme Court nominee being opposed on ideological grounds) will fight any Trump Supreme Court nominee who isn't "mainstream" (i.e., a social radical who believes in effectively amending the Constitution by judicial fiat) "tooth and nail."

No surprise there from the party which gave rise to the term "to Bork a nominee" when it rejected President Reagan's nomination of the brilliant Robert Bork to the Court because it didn't like his fidelity to the Constitution as written. The silver lining: the Democrats don't have the votes in the Senate to stop Trump from nominating a worthy successor to Antonin Scalia, or for that matter any of the other justices who retire or die in the next four years. So the one valid reason for voting for Donald Fredovich remains valid.

The Epiphany Star

Here's a slightly revised encore of a post I did on Epiphany a few years ago:

Friday was Epiphany, the festival of the Church Year which commemorates the revelation of the Christ Child to the world. as represented by the Wise Men. And no, we actually don't know how many of them there were. The tradition with which most of us are familiar say that there were three; the earliest Christian tradition says that there were twelve. Matthew just doesn't say. Their names were probably not Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar, and it is unlikely that one was African, one European, and one Asiatic, as beautiful and symbolically meaningful as that notion might be.

Nor were the Wise Men kings- or if they were, we aren't told that by the Bible. What we are told is that they were magi- a common name for followers of the religious leader Zoaraster, likely from Mesopotamia. Of course, the Bible doesn't make it clear whether the Wise Men were in the East when they first saw the star, or whether the Star was in the East. And the situation is confused further by the fact that the Greek can also be understood as "we have seen His star at its rising." Still, Mesopotamia seems the best bet, especially given the use of the word "magi."

Mesopotamia is the seat of one of the most ancient of Earth's stargazing civilizations. The ancient Babylonians had a knowledge of the heavens which is astounding. Of course, they made no distinction between astronomy (the scientific study of the heavens) and astrology (the superstition and pseudo-science which manifests itself in the horoscope). It was probably the astrological significance of that star which brought them to Bethlehem- and the imagined utility of stargazing in predicting and interpreting the future which turned their gaze skyward in the first place.

Could the Star have been miraculous? Sure. Is there any reason to think that it was a natural phenomenon rather than a miracle? Only the fact that there is no reason why it should not have been a natural phenomenon. God works through these more often than through overt intervention in natural phenomena, and miracles can be matters of timing as well as the special creation of one-time-only stars.

It seems that within the proper historical time frame, there was a remarkable series of conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter, the planets which in ancient Babylonian astronomy governed birth and kingship, respectively. Occasionally, a star also associated with kingship- Regulus- was also involved.

Now, a conjunction is the apparent drawing together of two or more objects in the sky as seen from Earth. Sometimes objects draw so close that they seem to be merging. Jupiter and Venus are two of the brightest objects in the sky even in normal times; a picture of a 1999 conjunction between the two (presumably not as close as the one the Wise Men saw) at twilight can be seen here. Could these have been the Epiphany star?

It begins to seem more likely when one reflects that the first of these would have taken place in the constellation Leo, seen by the ancient Mesopotamians as the constellation governing Judea. Given the significance of the objects and the location of this first conjunction, it would have given rise to an obvious question: "Where is He Who is born King of the Jews?"

Contrary to what many assume, the star did not remain visible throughout the journey of the magi from Mesopotamia. Matthew writes of it appearing again after the visit to Herod's court and even seems to hint that it might not have been visible for some time. And the conjunction reappeared- usually Venus and Jupiter alone- from time to time throughout a sufficient period to have easily guided the travelers to Bethlehem, and then back home again. Thus, the argument that the star was a comet, which would have been continuously visible for long periods, is not necessary and becomes unlikely when it is borne in mind that in both Mesopotamian and Hebrew cultures comets were harbingers of chaos and destruction, not heralds of joyful tidings!

Every December for seventy-five years, the Adler Planetarium back home in Chicago presented the sky show "Star of Wonder," which presented the theory in all its fascinating detail. Sadly, the show is now retired. Of course, we have no way of knowing whether or not the theory that was proposed in "Star of Wonder" is correct. But it's tantalizingly plausible, and I'd like to think so. I'm especially attracted to this glimpse of God working with His creation from within, in much the same way He chose to do by becoming part of it.

Here is a simulation, made by an Israeli amateur astronomer using the RedShift 5 software, of the conjunction between Jupiter and Venus on June 17, 2 B.C. This site gives more information on the theory.

By the way... I've often wondered what Mary said when Jesus was a boy and ran out of the house without closing the door behind Him....

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Jan Chamberlain's rhetoric is too strong. But the stand she has taken is right.

I do not share the religion of Jan Chamberlain. I don't even pray to the same god. But I can't help but admire the integrity of the woman who quit the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rather than sing at Donald Trump's inauguration.

Ms. Chamberlain, like me, voted for Evan McMullin in November. Like me, she holds no brief for Hillary Clinton or her agenda. But she cannot, as she put it, "throw roses at Hitler."

As I've said before, comparing Trump to Hitler strikes me as harsh. I believe that Trump is a power-hungry narcissist who exhibits disturbing signs of psychopathy, like Hitler. Like Hitler, he has stigmatized  defenseless minorities- Muslims and undocumented aliens, rather than Jews- and made them scapegoats for the nation's troubles. Like Hitler, he has ridden a wave of irrational hatred and emotion to power. Like Hitler's, his agenda foreshadows disaster for the nation he has been chosen to lead.

But he's not going to set up death camps for Muslims. The prospect of Gestapo-type midnight raids to separate families and deport undocumented aliens is disturbing, and should never have been mooted- but it's probably not going to happen. And the wall won't solve the very legitimate problem of the inability of our nation to control its own borders.  In fact, it will never be built. It was an exercise in propaganda and deception from the beginning. Even Trump's advisors now say that it should not have been taken "literally."

Even as an image, it calls to mind Nikita Khrushchev and Walter Ulbricht rather than Jefferson and Lincoln- or Reagan, whom as I recall was all about tearing walls down, not building them. Still, even if immigration raids  do take place, the tiny percentage of the undocumented aliens in this country who are rounded out will be sent back to Mexico, not to the gas chambers and ovens.

Trump, like Marine Le Penn in France and Nigel Farage and the others who have led similar movements in other countries, represents an ugly vision radically at odds with the values of freedom and democracy. That he has been able to use the same weapons which they- and for that matter, Hitler- used to exploit the darkness of the human heart doesn't make him a mass murderer. But it does make him an enemy of the values that made America great in the first place, and give the lie to his promise to make it great again.

And the values of Trump and those like him are values any person of faith should blush to embrace. No, Donald Trump is not Hitler. But what he stands for is evil. It is the antithesis of everything that religious people, regardless of the religion, aspire to.

As the first paragraph of this post indicates (and as any reader of this blog knows), I am not one of those who refuses to believe his own religion because an imagined and misdefined "tolerance" requires the adoption of the shallow attitude that all faiths are equally valid. To respect the beliefs of others, and the people who hold them, is not to embrace those beliefs or to lessen one's own allegiance to beliefs which may contradict them. Nor am I one of the countless Americans who misidentify ethics as the heart of the Christian faith. That heart is not justice, but the notion that we all need mercy rather than justice, and that it's the experience of having received it which motivates people to show it to others, thus changing hearts and not simply behavior.

But contained within that concept is a notion which does resonate through pretty much all of the great religions, even the many I believe the last analysis to be false paths:  the idea that it would be a good thing if people treated each other with respect,  approached their differences with tolerance where they cannot in conscience agree, and understood the important distinction between enemies and opponents. Donald Trump, sadly, seems not to understand that distinction.

Abraham Lincoln (sorry, naive evangelicals) was certainly a theist, but he was not a Christian. Tragically, the Gospel of justification by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith was not the bottom line of his religion. But he expressed that shared truth which, inadequate though it be, is shared by Mormons and Lutherans and Roman Catholics and Baptists and Buddhists and Hindus- and, yes, many Muslims- when he said that his preferred method of destroying his enemies was by making them his friends.

Donald Trump and his movement are enemies of that idea. And that is why Jan Chamberlain was right to see participating in his inauguration as an unseemly thing for a person of faith to do.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Just because Robert Reich is a partisan doesn't make him entirely wrong

Robert Reich is a left-wing economist who can be depended upon to be quite partisan, and his list of "Warning Signs of Impending Tyranny" seems to have been carefully composed with specifically Donald Trump in mind. It should, therefore, be taken with a grain of salt. But it should not be dismissed outright.

We have never had a president like Donald Trump, He lacks the intellect of, say, a Franklin Roosevelt or an Abraham Lincoln, both of whom pushed the constitutional envelope but at least knew that they were doing so and did so with a certain reluctance. Trump's constitutional ignorance and an egotism which seem to put his own whims on a higher plane of authority than the law, however, are worrisome, and so are many of the "warning signs" Reich lists.

I see no better than a 50/50 chance that Trump will escape impeachment in his first term. Everything about his past and his character suggests that his behavior will become so outrageous and such a liability to the Republicans in Congress that they will be willing remove a president of their own party in order to get the more tolerable (and qualified)l Mike Pense into the Oval Office. The one thing that could save Trump, ironically, is a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2018, something which I see as likely. Mind you I don't necessarily think that this would preclude Trump's impeachment, but it would make it much less likely since it would turn the issue into a far more partisan affair than it would be if the GOP itself were seen to initiate the process. Republicans on Capitol Hill might feel compelled to defend Trump if it's the Democrats who lead the attack If that happens, getting the two-thirds majority in the Senate necessary to convict might be difficult, though not necessarily impossible. If Trump does finish his first term, I see his defeat in his bid for re-election as inevitable. I see no way the most unqualified and unfit president in our history can fail to be a disaster. I wish I could.

Of course, I saw his defeat in the race for the GOP nomination as inevitable, too. And I took his defeat in the general election as a given. But neither Republicans nor American voters generally saw through him with sufficient clarity to understand what a disaster he would be in the Oval Office.

By 2020, even the most blindly partisan will no longer be able to deny the obvious, at least to themselves- though I fully expect a majority of the Republican primary voters to remain in sufficient denial to get the man renominated no matter how much of a disaster he is. Admitting a mistake of this magnitude will be hard.

Again I hope I'm wrong. I really do. That Trump is psychologically immature and unstable and massively ignorant of things a high school civics student knows are givens. But I hope he learns quickly enough to listen to people like Pence and Gen. Mattis, who do know what they're doing. The trouble is that it would be grossly out of character.

But even though I'm certain that the real conservatives in the GOP will mount a spirited challenge, probably behind Ted Cruz, I expect the hyperpartisanship in whose grasp both parties languish to keep Trump in control of the Republican party at least through 2020 and possibly beyond. The only force strong enough to depose him even in failure is probably Ted Cruz and the Tea Party crowd. We had the chance to opt for a decidedly conservative but rational alternative like Marco Rubio last year. We blew it, and the chance will not come again.

I believe that the future of sane conservatism is in the New Conservative Movement Evan McMullin has launched. In 2020 he will not be an unknown stepping into the race far too late to make a difference. Especially given the President-elect's obsession with him, in 2020 he will be a national figure. He will have Donald Trump to thank for that. And he already has a national organization of sorts, a loyal cadre of supporters who are already looking forward to the 2020 race and laying the foundation.

I am convinced that the Republican party is compromised beyond recall. It is now the reincarnation of the Know-Nothings. The McMullin movement, or something very much like it, will step in to pick up the fallen banner of Lincoln and Reagan, and in it lies the future of conservatism.