Donald Trump Declares War on GOP

The price of making a “deal” with Donald Trump is high.

In just the past 48 hours the Republican presidential nominee has publicly praised the faux-Republican challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in a primary, has attacked New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) and since the RNC in Cleveland he has continued to bash his former presidential primary foes, whom he vanquished and who have all recognized Trump’s victory.

Then on Wednesday morning comes this bombshell:

“ABC News has learned that senior party officials are so frustrated — and confused — by Donald Trump‘s erratic behavior that they are exploring how to replace him on the ballot if he drops out.”

Trump’s attacks on Paul Ryan have been particularly vicious because he praised Ryan’s opponent, Paul Nehlen, for “running a very good campaign.” Part of that campaign has included holding protests outside of Ryan’s home and attacking Ryan’s kids for attending a private school, and openly urging Democrats to vote in the Republican primary to oust a conservative Republican.

Asked about endorsing Ryan, who went out of his way to speak well of Trump at the RNC, Trump replied, “I’m just not quite there yet.” Trump claimed that Ryan’s campaign had asked him for an endorsement, but Zach Roday of the Ryan campaign clarified that Ryan had not asked Trump for an endorsement:

“Neither Speaker Ryan nor anyone on his team has ever asked for Donald Trump’s endorsement. And we are confident in a victory next week regardless.”

Why Trump had to lie about being asked for an endorsement is not clear, other than the move being part of a broader pattern of Trump lying about non-existent conversations.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who is from Kenosha, WI in Ryan’s district, has been publicly silent about Trump’s absurd toying with backing Ryan’s challenger. Reportedly, however, Priebus is privately “apoplectic” with Trump.

That Nehlen’s campaign tactics would include a healthy dose of sleaze should be no surprise considering just who is staffing and consulting for his campaign. Dan Backer, a DC-area operative who runs a pro-Trump SuperPAC is treasurer of Nehlen’s campaign and of an independent expenditure group that is allegedly spending money supporting Nehlen’s efforts. Other key staff and supporters, from Ann Coulter to less well-known operatives running Nehlen’s get-out-the-vote effort, are long-time Trump apologists or have worked for the Trump campaign in other states.

Trump’s reluctance to return the common courtesy of Ryan’s endorsement at the RNC may come because he’s holding a grudge. Ryan’s opponent announced unequivocally in May that he would back Trump, but Ryan held off until after talking with Trump and even offered to leave his job as convention chairman at the RNC if Trump wanted that. Trump declined to replace Ryan.

This isn’t Trump’s first foray into bashing Wisconsin conservatives during, or ahead of, a visit to Wisconsin. Trump is expected to campaign in Green Bay on Friday, and during a visit to Wisconsin during the primary – after Gov. Scott Walker dropped out of the presidential campaign – Trump bashed Walker during a stop in Janesville, Ryan’s hometown.

At the time Ryan and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R) stayed out of the GOP presidential primary, but Walker went on to endorse Sen. Ted Cruz, who ended up winning both Ryan’s district and the statewide primary.

How this entire episode with Trump will end is anyone’s guess, but he certainly isn’t bringing the GOP together, or even wooing conservatives to his cause at a time when most national polls show him losing to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump Sleaze Machine Backs Paul Ryan’s Opponent

UPDATE: On Tuesday afternoon, Donald Trump declared “I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet” when it comes to endorsing Speaker Paul Ryan, who endorsed Trump at the RNC. Trump also praised Ryan’s challenger, Nehlen, for “running a very good campaign.”

Just two weeks after House Speaker Paul Ryan presided over the Republican National Convention as the meeting’s chairman, Donald J. Trump has taken to Twitter to give a shout-out to the pro-union, pro-Democrat, anti-free trade “Republican” who moved to Wisconsin recently to challenge Ryan in the August 9th primary.

“Thanks @pnehlen for your kind words, very much appreciated,” The Donald tweeted on Monday. Paul Nehlen is Ryan’s opponent and his notoriety as a long-shot congressional candidate is due in large part to the backing of a numerous pro-Trump talking heads and operatives.

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Ann Coulter, who has been a Trump apologist since the beginning of Trump’s campaign (her new book, after all, worships Trump with the title “In Trump We Trust”), is headed to Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District this weekend to sign books and rally voters to support Nehlen.

Coulter’s backing of Nehlen isn’t new. In May she urged her Twitter followers to donate to Nehlen’s campaign.

Intriguingly, Nehlen’s campaign treasurer is Dan Backer, a pro-Trump DC-area political operative who has perfected the art of raising money for various political action committees and issue advocacy groups and then using that money to pay himself and his companies tens of thousands of dollars in “management” and “consulting” fees.

In addition to being Nehlen’s campaign treasurer, Backer is also the treasurer of Tea Party Forward, an independent expenditure group that spends money supporting various candidates, including Nehlen. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Tea Party Forward has raised nearly $150,000 this year, but has spent only $27,475 supporting candidates.

Another Backer creation is Great America PAC, a pro-Trump super PAC that has spent $3.4 million supporting Trump’s campaign.

The latest Nehlen campaign finance report lists a $2,000 payment to Backer’s DB Capitol Strategies.

Another pro-Trump tentacle tied to the Nehlen campaign is Chuck Muth, a Nevada talker and blogger, who has given Nehlen platform time on his website and who announced on Twitter that he’s in Wisconsin with “a bunch of GREAT Trump folks from all over country helping Paul Nehlen to unseat Paul Ryan.” Muth also runs a sleazy consulting company where he calls himself the “Campaign Doctor.” The company proudly proclaims it exists to help candidates, “Regardless of your philosophical beliefs or partisan registration.”

So much for being conservative.

One of Nehlen’s day-to-day campaign aides worked for the Trump campaign in Florida before moving to Wisconsin to help Nehlen.

How Trump plans on convincing the GOP that he will unite the party when he praises Speaker Ryan’s primary opponent (who recently appealed to Democrats for support), and has so many of his own ardent supporters aiding Ryan’s opponent, is unclear. The incident is a reminder to Republican leaders that even if you accept Trump – willingly or unwillingly – there is no guarantee he will have your back. Trump has consistently placed himself first, and the sooner conservatives and the Republican Party learn that, the better off they will be.

DR Radio

DR Radio: Trumpville, Turkey Coup, and European Terror

Welcome to the Trump Parade! Or…erm, the RNC!

  • With Cheeto Jesus now the nominee, what will the election hold?
  • Is Mike Pence as VP a game-changer?
  • Does Ted Cruz tiene grandes cajones?
  • Is Melania’s kerfuffle worth talking about?

Also in this episode:

  • What’s going on in Turkey? Are they the next Iran?
  • What does Islamic terrorism in Europe mean for the rest of us?

As usual, we’ll be breaking up deeper discussions for games of wit and whimsy which will be Fill in the Blank: Garry Marshall edition and So You Think You Know the Princess Bride?.

For full show notes or to subscribe to our podcast, visit our website.

Ted Cruz Stood Before the Lions and Refused to Cower

It was a rare act of political courage. Sen. Ted Cruz stood before Republican Party leaders in Cleveland and refused to join them in worshiping Donald J. Trump, a New York liberal who has spent his career waging war on everything conservatives and Republicans claim to hold dear. It was a Daniel moment, when political expedience would have demanded conformity of belief and compromise of conscience, and Sen. Ted Cruz passed the test and in so doing rallied men and women who still believe freedom is worth more than so-called party unity.

The speech was also a Stephen moment, reminiscent of the early church martyr who was stampeded when his words offended the consciences of those who were listening to him. Shockingly, when Ted Cruz talked about the daughter of a slain Dallas police officer’s daughter and the ideals of freedom, limited government, and opportunity, Republican delegates began booing him. They were offended that he would dare talk about a broad vision for the country instead of simply writing a blank-check endorsement of Donald Trump, a man who lied about Cruz’s father, Cruz’s wife, Cruz’s staff, and who repeatedly lied about his own lies about Ted Cruz.

It was Cruz’s remark that Republicans need to “stand and speak and vote your conscience” that drew the most ire both during and after the speech. It would certainly seem that the delegates and party leaders who booed Cruz’s conscience remark felt their own consciences challenged. If RNC attendees really felt they could support Donald Trump in good conscience, and if they really believed Trump represented the very best of the party’s beliefs and ideals, a decision to “vote your conscience” would equal voting for Trump.

That RNC attendees and party leaders equated voting their conscience with opposing Trump reveals an utter lack of moral character within the GOP – and the party’s awareness that it has sold its soul for the sake of a candidate. Repeatedly, party bosses have sold out the conservative grassroots by cutting behind the scenes deals to throw principles to the wind in order to pursue self-interest or the approval of Washington, D.C.-elites. That deal-making attitude, which repeatedly steamrolls conservatives, was on display on Monday and Tuesday of the RNC when an effort to use the RNC’s own rules to force a roll call vote on a new rules package was sabotaged by dirty tricks, microphones turned off, and RNC officials fleeing their post to hide until the controversy passed. Trump and his team are fully united with the very establishment they proclaimed to hate during the primary.

An oft-repeated refrain in the hours after the speech was that Cruz violated his pledge to support the Republican nominee, a pledge required of all GOP presidential candidates by the RNC. “What about Ted Cruz’s word?” these critics ask. Fair point.

When Ted Cruz promised to back the GOP nominee it was a pledge to NOT run as a third party candidate, a possibility envisioned by Reince Priebus and others who thought that if Donald Trump did not win the nomination he would self-fund an independent presidential bid. Politico reported in September of 2015

“The Republican National Committee on Wednesday privately reached out to GOP presidential candidates to ask whether they’d be willing to sign a pledge stating they would not run as an independent candidate in the event they fail to win the Republican nomination in 2016.”

The only people who believe Ted Cruz violated his loyalty pledge on Wednesday night are those who believe they must violate their conscience by voting for Donald Trump.

Why The RNC Kicked Democracy To The Curb And Kneeled Before Zod

Yesterday was a shameful day in the history of the Republican Party. If our founding fathers had acted like the GOP leaders in Cleveland did over the last four days, we’d be offering fealty to an emperor complete with lords and nobles.

Reince Priebus and the Trump campaign (which are now one in the same) displayed no willingness to hear legitimate grievances in the nomination process that produced the worst candidate since the Ford/Rockefeller ticket lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976. They shut down debate on a rules package which would have offered a more united party at the end, regardless of which candidate emerged. They made it very clear that this was not a nominating convention, it was a pageant intended to coronate Donald Trump.

In so doing, they kicked democratic process to the curb. Far from being “the will of the people” that produced Trump as the delegate frontrunner, it was a series of open primaries in states designed to railroad the establishment’s anointed candidate into the nomination. Trump took full advantage of this, without ever achieving a massive supermajority of voters over the primary process, and losing 11 states to Ted Cruz.

Why was democratic process and real discussion shut down behind closed door arm-twisting, retreating behind security guards, and refusing to even negotiate a new rules package or allow it to be voted with a roll call of delegates?

It was fear. Plain, simple fear.

The GOP leaders were actually acting very predictably. They saw what happens when rabid Trump supporters are slighted in any way. They saw the people Trump calls forth from the dark corners of  the Internet, into real violence. The same kind of unhinged violence that mars Trump campaigns orchestrated by leftist organizations is right there at Trump’s fingertips to use.

We don’t even know the depths of potential plata o plomo (silver or lead) deals that Trump’s coercion machine produced, silencing media figures, politicians and other leaders. Watch Mike Lee get pilloried for maintaining his Never Trump stand at the convention. Ted Cruz is nowhere to be seen, preferring to fight another day in exchange for a prime time address.

The RNC is more scared of Trump and his Know-Nothings than they are of their own delegates. They are more scared of the carnage they would personally face by a billionaire willing to sue at the drop of a hat, mock reporters, and malign federal judges than they are committed to preserving democracy.

They would rather elect Hillary Clinton to the White House than suffer the retribution of a petulant man-boy vulgarian who has never spent a day in his life working for groceries.

I am not bitter about those who support Trump for their own reasons–to keep Hillary out of the presidency (which is more and more a remote possibility each day). But it’s terribly sad to see the leadership of the party cower in fear and kneel before Zod.

Shame on them all.

Signs and Logos: The RNC Trump Fail Circus

You won’t see this logo anywhere–officially–anymore.

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And if you blink, you won’t see this sign anywhere near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

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They are both examples of the great Trump RNC Fail Circus, a.k.a. Stupid Is As Stupid Does. The stunning lack of intelligent thought, foresight and even the patina of planning on display here is beyond my ability to process.

I’ve seen local mayoral and city council races, and local Republican Party officials operate with a higher level of professionalism, sensitivity to current events, and use of two brain cells to rub together than what is going on in Cleveland and Trump Tower.

If this is just a taste of the post-convention general campaign, it will be nothing if not entertaining and fodder for the media. But it’s not going to convince a single undecided voter that the man who would be in charge of the free world is more than a clown dressed in designer suits.

If Cruz Wants To Speak in Cleveland, He’ll Have To Pay the Price of Admission

Ted Cruz has wisely chosen his words about uncrowned GOP nominee Donald Trump. Wait and see, he says. But the Republican National Convention in mid-July will be loaded with Cruz loyalists, and they will want to see and hear their idol. For that to happen, Cruz will have to pay the price of admission.

What might that be?

For starters, Cruz will have to make some statement or indication that he’ll support “the nominee” if not the man himself. For party unity. He’ll have to stand on the podium with Marco Rubio, smile and wave while Trump proceeds with his coronation.

The question is really, does Trump need Cruz more than Cruz needs to be in Cleveland? It would seem not. The Houston Chronicle reported last month that the Trump and Cruz campaigns are playing things close to the vest on the senator’s role–if any–at the convention.

Officials in the Trump and Cruz camps – the top two rivals in the GOP nomination battle – declined to comment on their plans for a possible stage appearance by Cruz, who will arrive at the convention with a throng of about 567 delegates.

“Conversations about the program are just beginning,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. “This is very much something we do alongside the campaign and have now started that process.”

Cruz will have an enormous bloc of delegates, 559 bound and possibly a thousand more who are bound to others (mostly Trump) but personally loyal to him.

“It certainly would not make sense for Ted Cruz not to have a speaking slot at the national convention,” said Dr. Robin Armstrong, a Cruz supporter and RNC member from Friendswood. “If he did not have a role at the convention, I would be shocked. If everyone is talking about unity going forward in November, that would be a good step toward it.”

But Trump is in charge of the program and the tone of the convention. For Cruz to be given a prime slot (and it makes no sense to have him speak without a prime slot), the price will be steep. Trump has Chairman Reince Priebus and the GOP leadership to wrangle the delegates and keep the rules committee from causing chaos. They will not allow Cruz to stand up and commit treason against the GOP in their own arena.

The price is likely to be making phone calls and private contacts with key delegates close to Cruz and discourage any kind of floor fight. A clean, unified, drama-free convention that ends with Trump faced with adoring crowds is the party’s goal. Cruz can go a long way to make that happen.

But is he willing to pay the personal price by putting the party ahead of his principles? Cruz’s history suggests he won’t.

We will just have to wait and see.

Is Buzzfeed Leading a GOP Media Boycott?

Buzzfeed cancelled a $1.3 million advertising deal with the RNC. Politico reported Monday:

In an email to staff on Monday, BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti explained that in April, the RNC and BuzzFeed signed an agreement to “spend a significant amount on political advertisements slated to run during the Fall election cycle.” But since Trump became the nominee his campaign has proven themselves to be “directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States,” because of proposed bans on Muslim immigration and comments about descendants of immigrants, among other policies.

“We don’t need to and do not expect to agree with the positions or values of all our advertisers. And as you know, there is a wall between our business and editorial operations. This decision to cancel this ad buy will have no influence on our continuing coverage of the campaign,” Peretti said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.

“We certainly don’t like to turn away revenue that funds all the important work we do across the company,” Peretti wrote. “However, in some cases we must make business exceptions: we don’t run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health, and we won’t accept Trump ads for the exact same reason.”

Obviously Buzzfeed management believes that Trump, and the RNC, has crossed a line separating simply advocating policies they find distasteful, and actual reprehensible positions with which no self-respecting outlet can agree.

First, can Buzzfeed do this legally? After all, it’s political advertising. In short, yes. The Communications Act only covers broadcast media, not (yet) online media. So Buzzfeed can safely do as they like. Television and radio stations (and networks) are still constrained–they must sell spot advertising to federal candidates during prime (or drive) time.

Second, how will this affect other news outlets? I’m not a lawyer here (or anywhere). But the FCC’s rules on political advertising would seem to indicate that most organizations cannot refuse RNC ads for federal office. Does this extend to, say, CNN’s online operations? I don’t know, but most likely if they are packaged together.

However, Buzzfeed’s action is a stake in the ground. It represents a news (it’s questionable in that capacity, but Buzzfeed has established itself somewhat) organization refusing to bend to the “nominee” simply because he’s the GOP’s choice. There could very well be more of these refusals in the future. Maybe they’ll convince Trump to soften his positions? Or maybe they’ll wake the RNC up from its fever dream?

Eh, probably not.