Saturday, October 14, 2023

Last Call For Trump Cards

 For a guy constantly complaining about "rigged elections" it seems Donald Trump is doing everything he can to ensure total victory in GOP primary races, with multiple states changing their primary rules in order to, well, rig the elections for Trump's win next spring.

Not long after the new chairman of the Republican Party in Hawaii was elected in May, he received a voicemail from none other than Donald J. Trump.

“It’s your all-time favorite president,” Mr. Trump told the chairman, Tim Dalhouse. “I just called to congratulate you.”

The head of the Kansas G.O.P. received a similar message after he became chairman. The Nebraska chairman had a couple of minutes and a photo arranged with the former president during an Iowa stop. And the chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, Michael McDonald, who had served as a fake elector for Mr. Trump after the 2020 election, was among a group of state party officials who were treated to an hourslong Mar-a-Lago meal in March that ended in ice cream sundaes.

Months later, Mr. McDonald’s party in Nevada dramatically transformed the state’s influential early contest. The party enacted new rules that distinctively disadvantage Mr. Trump’s chief rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, by effectively blocking the super PAC he relies upon from participating in the state’s new caucus.

Mr. McDonald has tilted the rules so significantly that some of Mr. Trump’s opponents have accused the party of manipulating the election for him — and have mostly pulled up stakes in the state entirely.

As Mr. Trump dodges debates and is regularly seen on his golf courses in branded white polo shirts and red MAGA hats, it can seem that he is bypassing the 2024 primary fight entirely. He has done relatively few public campaign events until recent weeks. But Mr. Trump and his political team have spent months working behind the scenes to build alliances and contingency plans with key party officials, seeking to twist the primary and delegate rules in their favor.

It amounts to a fail-safe in case Mr. DeSantis — or anyone else — scores a surprise victory in an early state. And it comes as Mr. Trump faces an extraordinary set of legal challenges, including four criminal indictments, that inject an unusual degree of uncertainty into a race Mr. Trump leads widely in national polling.

“They’ve rigged it anywhere they thought they could pull it off,” said Ken Cuccinelli, a former Trump administration official who founded Never Back Down, the pro-DeSantis super PAC that was essentially ousted from the Nevada caucus.

The maneuvering is the type of old-school party politics that Mr. Trump, who cut his teeth in the machine politics of 1970s and 1980s New York, relishes and knows best: personal calls and chits, glad-handing, relationships and reprisals. Advisers say that in contrast to some tasks, getting him to make those calls is a breeze. Plus, the seemingly arcane issue of delegate accumulation — tallying up formal support in the states to secure the nomination at the party convention next summer — is deeply personal to Mr. Trump after he was outflanked in exactly this fight in 2016.

Then, a better-organized Senator Ted Cruz of Texas worked Trump-skeptical state parties to win more delegates even in some places where he had lost at the ballot box. Mr. Cuccinelli was one of Mr. Cruz’s top delegate hunters at the time. Now, surrounded by a more experienced team and the authority of a former president with loyalists entrenched nationwide, Mr. Trump is doing to Mr. DeSantis exactly what he once accused Hillary Clinton of doing to Bernie Sanders: bending the system in his favor.

Mr. Trump’s backroom campaign reveals the extent to which he has become the establishment of the Republican Party.

“This is the kind of stuff that’s not talked about in the news,” said Scott Golden, the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, who was invited to speak briefly in private with Mr. Trump when the former president visited his state this spring. “This is important stuff. It is ultimately about making sure your person is the nominee.”

The primary rules in the early states leading up to Super Tuesday, and the biggest sSuper Tuesday prize of them all -- California -- have put entire bodies on the scales in Trump's favor, to the point where his opponents are literally refusing to spend money in those states at all anymore.

Short of Trump having a massive health issue in the next three months, the 2024 GOP primary is already over. 

Down Under Disappointment

Australian voters have overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to give Indigenous people rights as a recognized group, because that would be racist against anyone who isn't a member of that class, you see.

Australia has overwhelmingly rejected a plan to give greater rights to Indigenous people in a referendum.

All six states voted no to a proposal to change the constitution to recognise Indigenous citizens and create an advisory body to the government.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said defeat was hard: "When you aim high, sometimes you fall short. We understand and respect that we have."

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said the result was "good for our country".

The referendum, dubbed "The Voice", was Australia's first in more than a quarter of a century. With almost 70% of the vote counted, the "No" vote led "Yes" 60% to 40%.

Its rejection followed a fraught and often ill-tempered campaign.

Supporters said that entrenching the Indigenous peoples into the constitution would unite Australia and usher in a new era.
No leaders said that the idea was divisive, would create special "classes" of citizens where some were more equal than others, and the new advisory body would slow government decision-making.

They were criticised over their appeal to undecided voters with a "Don't know? Vote no" message, and accused of running a campaign based on misinformation about the effects of the plan.

The result leaves Mr Albanese searching for a way forward with his vision for the country, and a resurgent opposition keen to capitalise on its victory.
So, Indigenous Australians will continue to not actually be Australians under the country's legal system, with fewer rights than other Australians, and that's what the 95% of Australians who are non-Indigenous voted for.

You don't have to work as hard as Republicans here in America have for the last 60 years to reverse the civil rights era if like Australia, you never actually have one. After all, we still have most Native American on reservations, and that's not going to change in my lifetime either.

There's no debating the racism in America or Australia (or the UK, Canad or New Zealand), the debate is over whether or not it's a bad thing, and for most folks in these coutries, the answer is no.

For those who actually are harmed by it, well, too bad, the majority has spoken.


Burning Lake Of Fire, Con't

Perennial loser Kari Lake is trying to win Arizona's three-way US Senate race by promising she won't support a national abortion ban, and that's not going over well with the Republicans who are expected to give her an easy primary win. She's not alone by any means in backstabbing her MAGA base when it comes to an untenable position against abortion in the general election stage, either.

Kari Lake campaigned for governor of Arizona last year as a fierce ally of former President Donald J. Trump who was in lock step with her party’s right-wing base, calling abortion the “ultimate sin” and supporting the state’s Civil War-era restrictions on the procedure.

This week, she made a remarkable shift on the issue as she opened her bid for the U.S. Senate: She declared her opposition to a federal ban.

“Republicans allowed Democrats to define them on abortion,” Ms. Lake said in a statement to The New York Times about her break from the policy prescription favored by many anti-abortion groups and most of her party’s presidential contenders. She added that she supported additional resources for pregnant women, and that “just like President Trump, I believe this issue of abortion should be left to the states.”

The maneuvering by Ms. Lake, along with similar adjustments by Republican Senate candidates in Pennsylvania and Michigan, is part of a broader strategic effort in her party to recalibrate on an issue that has become a political albatross in battleground states and beyond.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, eliminating federal protections for abortion rights and handing Republicans one of their most significant policy victories in a generation, voters have turned out repeatedly to support abortion rights, even in red states.

The campaign arm for Senate Republicans, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is now coaching candidates to take the same tack as Ms. Lake — that is, clearly state their opposition to a national abortion ban, according to people familiar with the new strategy.

The group has also urged candidates to state their support for “reasonable limits” on late-term abortions with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, the people said. Rather than trying to avoid the topic, like many candidates did last year, it is advising Republicans to go on offense.

Senate Republicans were briefed last month on detailed research commissioned by One Nation, a nonprofit group aligned with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, showing that many Americans equated the term “pro-life” — traditionally used by Republicans — with support for a total ban on abortion without any exceptions.

The research also showed that while voters opposed the idea of a total ban, there was wider support for restrictions after 12 to 15 weeks of pregnancy, particularly with exceptions for rape, incest and the life or health of the mother.

The nonprofit has suggested that Republicans communicate their views on abortion with empathy and compassion. Steven Law, who is the president of One Nation, is also the president of the Senate Leadership Fund, which has spent more than $1 billion on federal campaigns since 2016.

Whether or not Republican candidates for Congress — and the White House — can persuade voters that they have become more moderate on abortion promises to be one of the central questions of the 2024 elections.

“Voters have repeatedly rejected Republican politicians for supporting dangerous policies that deny a woman’s right to access abortion,” Sarah Guggenheimer, the spokesperson for the Senate Majority political action committee dedicated to electing Democratic candidates. “This cynical effort by Mitch McConnell and Republican candidates to mask their positions won’t change that.”
The problem of course is that the MAGA chuds aren't going to accept anything less than a permanent national abortion ban that jails half the population, including doctors, nurses and activists. The even bigger problem is even the "compromise" position still gives control of wombs and the folks that have them to the state. 

Democrats are right that this is a cynical ploy, and fewer and fewer voters are going to buy it.

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