Browsing the archives for the Republican Party category.


The Smarter Brother

I can’t watch the debates here, but the overwhelming consensus after last night is that Jeb! is now Toast! Even Nate Silver says so.


The Passion of Marco

Republican Party

Marco Rubio hates his Senate job, he says. This is why he’s not doing it. He has missed nearly 60 votes while he’s been off running for president.

Now the Miami Sun-Sentinel is telling him to resign. The Sun-Sentinel is behind a subscription firewall, but here’s the editorial from Balloon Juice:

Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intelligence briefings. He says he’s MIA from his J-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead.

“I’m not missing votes because I’m on vacation,” he told CNN on Sunday. “I’m running for president so that the votes they take in the Senate are actually meaningful again.”

Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job. We’ve got serious problems with clogged highways, eroding beaches, flat Social Security checks and people who want to shut down the government.

If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.

Let us elect someone who wants to be there and earn an honest dollar for an honest day’s work. Don’t leave us without one of our two representatives in the Senate for the next 15 months or so.

You are paid $174,000 per year to represent us, to fight for us, to solve our problems. Plus you take a $10,000 federal subsidy — declined by some in the Senate — to participate in one of the Obamacare health plans, though you are a big critic of Obamacare.

You are ripping us off, senator.

That’ll turn up in a campaign ad sooner or later.

The most recent national poll of Republican primary voters has Dr. Dementia in first place and Trump  second, followed by Rubio. Jeb! is fourth, followed by the rest of the mutts in no important order. I have heard Jeb! is more worried by Rubio than by Dr. D or Mr. T, reasoning that the two outsider candidates will crash and burn sooner or later. Rubio is doing well in the betting market right now in the assumption that he’s in the best position to move into Number One when that happens.

However, neither Jeb! nor Rubio look that strong:

Mr. Rubio may be broadly acceptable, but his fund-raising tallies and overall campaign effort have been surprisingly limited. Mr. Kasich may be unacceptable to much of the party’s conservative wing, and his fund-raising isn’t impressive either. Mr. Bush has healthier fund-raising tallies — though apparently not healthy enough to forestall big cuts in his campaign operation — but very weak favorability ratings.

Jeb!’s campaign is arguing that Rubio is the GOP’s Obama — inexperienced senators who are running on charm and ethnic appeal rather than substance. But Brian Beutler argues that he’s really the GOP’s John Edwards, in the sense that he looks like a strong candidate but doesn’t really connect with voters as well as predicted.

Obama’s charisma was key to his appeal in 2008, but so too was the fact that he—as a young, African-American liberal who opposed the war in Iraq—reflected his party’s base better than Hillary Clinton, the anointed front-runner. By this more appropriate standard, the GOP’s Obama will be charismatic, yes—but old and white and nativist instead of young and ethnic and cosmopolitan. That’s Trump….

… Rubio is also making the most shallow appeal of any Republican in the field. The undisguised promise of his candidacy is that his youth and background will allow him to herald an orthodox Republican policy agenda as somehow distinct and visionary.

A Democrat would have to be caught eating live puppies to lose to this guy. Maybe not even then.


Sideshow Nation

Republican Party

Ben Carson is leading polls in Iowa and is second after Trump everywhere else. What’s the appeal?

Part of the appeal may be his gentle, even soporific, persona:

That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted,” said Miriam Greenfield, a farmer in Jewell, Iowa.

“He is kind when he speaks, and he doesn’t have an agenda to set himself up as wonderful,” said Donna Christiansen, a retiree in Ames.

Retiree Donna Christiansen might want to notice this:

Yesterday in Ames, Iowa, in the course of suggesting raising the retirement age for Social Security and asking people to voluntarily give up their monthly checks, Ben Carson said

Ben Carson called for “groupthink” to combat the looming funding crisis in the country’s Social Security program at a campaign rally in Ames on Saturday.

“We have to start thinking, have groupthink in this country,” Carson said in response to a question from the crowd about unfunded entitlement liabilities.

“We need to maximize the potential of all our people if we’re going to be able to compete in the future. So we have to start thinking corporately as an entity.”

Carson also promises to abolish Medicare and Medicaid and replace them with savings accounts. And he’s ahead of Jeb! and Rubio in the polls.


Speaker Watch

Congress, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The question of the day is, “Is he dumb enough to do it?” — he being Paul Ryan and it being running for Speaker of the House. Ryan allegedly is considering his options today.

As Paul Krugman points out in a column and blog post today, Ryan’s strength is that he’s the guy non-Republicans take seriously. But he needs to avoid the Speaker position to maintain that impression.

If Paul Ryan has any sense of self-preservation — and that is one thing he surely has — he will look for any way possible to avoid becoming Speaker. The hard right is already attacking him, essentially accusing him of not being sufficiently crazy, and they’re right. On policy substance he’s totally an Ayn Rand-loving, reward-the-rich and punish-the-poor guy, but so are lots of other Republicans; what they want is someone willing to go along with kamikaze tactics, and he isn’t. His fall from grace would be swift.

But if Ryan isn’t distinctive in his political positions, why does he loom so large within his party? The answer is that he’s more or less unique among extreme right-wingers in having the approbation of centrists, especially centrist pundits. That is, he’s a big man within the GOP because people outside seem to approve of him. And it’s important to ask why.

And the reason is …

Mr. Ryan has been very good at gaming the system, at producing glossy documents that look sophisticated if you don’t understand the issues, at creating the false impression that his plans have been vetted by budget experts. This has been enough to convince political writers who don’t know much about policy, but do know what they want to see, that he’s the real deal. (A number of reporters are deeply impressed by the fact that he uses PowerPoint.) He is to fiscal policy what Carly Fiorina was to corporate management: brilliant at self-promotion, hopeless at actually doing the job. But his act has been good enough for media work.

His position within the party, in turn, rests mainly on this outside perception. Mr. Ryan is certainly a hard-line, Ayn Rand-loving and progressive-tax-hating conservative, but no more so than many of his colleagues. If you look at what the people who see him as a savior are saying, they aren’t talking about his following within the party, which isn’t especially passionate. They’re talking, instead, about his perceived outside credibility, his status as someone who can stand up to smarty-pants liberals — someone who won’t, says MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, be intimidated by “negative articles in The New York Times opinions page.” (Who knew we had such power?)

It helps that much of the punditocracy suffers from a pathological need to see Democrats and Republicans as equally crazy; this is what passes for “balance” these days.

Ryan is being maligned wholesale on the Crazy Fringe today, not because he’s a con but because he allegedly is soft on immigration. As near as I can tell, his actual voting record makes him an immigration hard-liner. He’s even called for building the damnfool fence and sending little Nicaraguan refugee children back to Central America. But the Whackjobs apparently need to hate him for something, and that’s what they’ve come up with.

The political establishment largely is ignoring this development and promoting Ryan as the man who can bring together the allegedly “centrist” faction of the Republican Party and the teabagger fringe. As Andrew Rosenthal writes, this is basically a “plea for attention from the increasingly irrelevant conservative establishment. ” Those who still take the Republican Party seriously are talking about needing unity in “moving public policy in a conservative direction.”

But, as Rosenthal says, “The Republicans moved way past conservatism long ago.” And going back to Krugman,

To understand Mr. Ryan’s role in our political-media ecosystem, you need to know two things. First, the modern Republican Party is a post-policy enterprise, which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems. Second, pundits and the news media really, really don’t want to face up to that awkward reality.

The Freedom Caucus wants Daniel Webster of Florida, the guy who beat Alan Grayson in 2010 and who has rarely met an excuse for a government shutdown he didn’t like. I’m betting that Ryan will stay on the sidelines and that Webster will end up with the Speaker’s job eventually, once the establishment has bullshitted itself into thinking maybe he’s not that bad. But anything could happen.


Cannibal Dance

Congress, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

So the House is in chaos, and John Boehner may be Speaker awhile longer. As I write this the talking heads are saying that Paul Ryan is the Man of the Hour who will take the Speaker position and bring order out of chaos. But Ryan says he doesn’t want the job, possibly because even he isn’t that stupid.

This is especially true since the base has turned on Ryan, according to this article by Sophia Tesfaye.  Word has come down from the likes of Erick Erickson, the Breitbrats, David Horowitz, Laura Ingraham, and some members of the House Freedom Caucus that Ryan is another “centrist” like Boehner. Erickson wrote,

Paul Ryan has been the brains behind most of the fiscal deals John Boehner has cut with Barack Obama. Then there are his votes.

While in Congress, he voted for No Child Left Behind, the Prescription Drug Benefit, TARP, caps on CEO pay, the AIG bill, the GM bailout, the debt ceiling, and now the fiscal cliff. In fact, Paul Ryan is one of less than a dozen Republican congressmen to have voted for every bailout to come before Congress.

Paul Ryan is a creature of Washington. He worked on Capitol Hill, worked in a think tank, then went back as a congressman. He speaks Washingtonese with the best of them.

It’s the House Freedom Caucus causing the chaos, it appears. It was the Freedom Caucus that drove Kevin McCarthy out of the running.

Who are the Freedom Caucus? I think Josh Marshall sums them up best:

Quite simply they’ve actually convinced themselves that they’re in the midst of some grand world historical moment when in fact they’re just floundering in derp.

To me, they’re also something like the Jacobins, except they are right-wing and a lot dumber. Nobody is pure enough for them. Like the Jacobins, they are so ideologically rigid they are consuming themselves and sending their Robespierres to the guillotine, so to speak.

To fully appreciate what I’m talking about, read this article by Jedd Legum, This Document Reveals Why The House Of Representatives Is In Complete Chaos. A few snips:

For example, the document seeks a commitment from the next speaker to tie any increase in the debt ceiling to cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. …

… The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to not funding the government at all unless President Obama (and Senate Democrats) agree to defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and a host of other priorities. This is essentially the Ted Cruz strategy which prompted at 16-day shutdown in 2013. This would now be enshrined as the official policy of the Speaker Of The House.

The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to oppose any “omnibus” bill that would keep the government running. Rather, funding for each aspect of government could only be approved by separate bills. This would allow the Republicans to attempt to finance certain favored aspects of government (the military), while shuttering ones they view as largely unnecessary (education, health).

As Jedd Legum also explains,

Any potential speaker needs the support of 218 Republicans on the floor of the House. There are currently 247 Republicans in the House. That’s a large majority but without the Freedom Caucus, no candidate can get to 218.

In other words, the Freedom Caucus has the rest of the House Republicans by their boy parts.

The Freedom Caucus hounded McCarthy to drop out, partly by spreading an unsupported rumor that he was having an affair. They couldn’t just disagree with him; they had to destroy him.

Seems to me the only way the impasse may be broken is for some of the less-demented Republicans to work out a deal with Democrats in order to get to 218 votes.

What’s also hysterical about the current madness is that some parts of the media still cling to the view that both sides are just as bad. Yeah, the Right is crazy, but Bernie Sanders.

Scott Lemieux writes, “The Freecom Caucus’s reason for being is to threaten to destroy the country unless the president agrees to destroy the country.” He also said,

I know that this Green Lanternism is not unique to the right per se.  There are people on the left who thought that Congress could have unilaterally ended the Iraq War in 2007 or that the Democratic minority in the Senate could have serially rejected Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.  There are also people on the left who believe that had Obama demanded single payer Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson would have had no choice but to vote for a Medicare buy-in.   But 1) these are generally obscure People on the Internet Somewhere, not the core of the Democratic caucus in Congress, and 2) they at least support the use of completely irrational tactics to advance desirable ends.

The Freedom Caucus is genuinely frightening. Charles Pierce:

There are all kinds of chickens coming home to roost. This development – which, I would point out, leaves Jason Chaffetz (R-Zygote) as the “moderate” choice for Speaker of the House, and third in line to be president of the United States – is the final justification for all of us who have been saying for a while now that there is no “extreme” wing of the Republican party any more. The prion disease has taken full hold of the party’s higher functions. It is already being bruited about the monkeyhouse that Chaffetz may not be pure enough to satisfy the Freedom Caucus, the claque of angry gossoons who sank McCarthy the moment that McCarthy told the truth about what the House is up to with its hearings on Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!

Like the Jacobins they’ll destroy themselves eventually, but they’re going to cause a lot of damage and suffering first.



Carly Fiorina, Parasite

Demon Sheep, Republican Party

The Washington Post reports that Carly Fiorina is a deadbeat. For example, her pollster in her failed 2010 Senate campaign, Joe Shumate, died about a month before the election. Fiorina praised Shumate as the “heart and soul” of her campaign. She offered “sincere condolences” to his widow.

But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimil­lionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president.

“Occasionally, I’d call and tell her she should pay them,” said Martin Wilson, Fiorina’s former campaign manager, who found Shumate after the pollster collapsed from a heart attack. “She just wouldn’t.”

Note that Fiorina and her husband have a net worth of $59 million. The $500,000 is pocket change to them.

The article continues by documenting mismanagement of money by the Fiorina Senate campaign, and then gets back to the vendors she still owes.

Those who waited the longest to be paid were small businesses with a few dozen employees who did the grunt work of the campaign: building stages, sending out mailers, selling polling data. And at least one is still waiting.

Jon Seaton, the managing partner of East Meridian Strategies, confirmed that his group billed Fiorina’s campaign for $18,000 on Oct. 6, 2010, for printing 21,290 mailers.

A Fiorina staff member wired money for the postage immediately and promised the remaining $9,000 “early next week,” according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post.

Six weeks went by and nothing came. So Seaton asked again. Then again. As of last week, he said he was still waiting.

Several other vendors weren’t paid until early this year.

This is my favorite part of the article:

Fiorina, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. Her supporters say the criticism was misplaced.

“People are just upset and angry and throwing her under the bus,” said Jon Cross, Fiorina’s operations director for her Senate campaign. “If we didn’t win, why do you deserve to get paid? If you don’t succeed in business, you shouldn’t be the first one to step up and complain about getting paid.”

She’s not talking about campaign managers here. She’s talking about the vendor who printed and bulk mailed her fliers. Nobody is saying the fliers weren’t printed correctly or that they weren’t mailed on time.

Her supporters cautioned that little could be gleaned from her California campaign. They maintain that Fiorina’s corporate experience is more akin to managing a presidential campaign than a bid for office in one of the nation’s most liberal states.

The liberal California sun warped their brains and made them see demon sheep?

“We know many people didn’t win their first election, so I think you should never overstate that fact,” said Sue Ellspermann, Indiana’s lieutenant governor and a Fiorina supporter. “And I wonder if that fact would be a perceived disqualifier if she was not female. Ben Carson and Donald Trump have never run for anything.”

Yeah, that’s it — people are just picking on Carly because she’s a woman. If a man had run the demon sheep ad and had not paid vendors after five years, no one would care.

Anyone who’s freelanced has run into people who simply don’t pay you for the work you’ve done for them, and in my experience the wealthy businessmen and major corporations are the worst deadbeats.  They know they can get away with not paying, because small business vendors and individual contractors have no power. Makes me crazy.


The Crash and Burn Party

Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

First, enjoy the highlights of Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards congressional testimony yesterday:

Charles Pierce explains how the Democratic Republic of Congo got mixed up in this:

You may be baffled by the sudden appearance in the colloquy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arguably the worst place in the world right now. What the fck does Chaffetz care about the DRC? That’s because you do not spend 20 hours a day marinating in the right-wing media crackpot crockpot. Here are the ingredients: a) the fact that the DRC is a nightmarish place where children are forced into prostitution and trafficked freely; b) that there is AN E-MAIL! that revealed that Bill Clinton once did not speak at an event at which Joseph Kabila, the vampirish leader of the DRC would be in attendance, and c) PP is active there in trying to make sure that the women caught up in an epidemic of brutal sexual violence stay relatively healthy and that they do not get pregnant by their rapists if they do not want to do so. It’s Fetus-Fondling Bingo. Oh, and by the way, the staunchly red state of Missouri concluded its investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activities in that state.

Like the several other states that have investigated Planned Parenthood since the hoax videos came out, Missouri found nothing.

Conventional wisdom says that right-wing crackpot Kevin McCarthy will be the next Speaker. McCarthy is expected to become the next John Boehner in other ways as well. Norman Ornstein writes,

The major issue in our current dysfunction is the struggle within a Republican Party that is not the traditional battle between moderates and conservatives — there are no moderates any more to speak of — but between radical insurgents and right-wing realists. The realists, like Boehner, understand that divided government requires compromise; the radicals’ credo is “never give up, never surrender.”

Paradoxically, the radicals were encouraged in those views by establishment conservatives who channeled their anger and outrage into House and Senate G.O.P. majorities in 2010 and 2014 by promising that they could defeat Obama and along the way bring him to his knees; the radical outrage now has been amplified by the failure of those promises. Boehner’s departure does not heal the breach; it enhances it. Radicals have won, forcing Boehner out. Now the big target will be Mitch McConnell, and Boehner’s successor, almost certainly Kevin McCarthy, won’t be far behind.

McCarthy is as right-wing as they come, but news stories say he’s a “pragmatist,” meaning he has a dim idea that reactionary Republicans are unlikely to gain absolute power by throwing temper tantrums. This will be McCarthy’s doom.  Gary Legum:

If McCarthy wants an example of what can happen to a congressional leader who makes promises to the extreme conservatives and then doesn’t deliver, he should look not to his friend John Boehner but to one of his co-authors of the 2010 book “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders.” The cover of that book shows McCarthy smiling with Rep. Paul Ryan and then-House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a one-time Tea Party favorite who helped hold the Republican coalition together to fight every legislative initiative proposed by the Obama administration. Then he was booted from office by a hardcore conservative named David Brat, who promised to not only fight Obama, but also roll back his legislative successes.

That there is no plausible path to this goal so long as the Republicans do not have a filibuster- or veto-proof majority in the Senate, or while Obama and his veto pen remain in the White House, does not dissuade Brat and like-minded conservatives, who still think Republicans can force the president to sign legislation repealing all of his accomplishments if they only try super-duper really extra hard.

Currently McCarthy’s chief rival is Daniel Webster of Florida, who unfortunately is not THE Daniel Webster. The new Daniel Webster is arguably a worse whackjob than McCarthy:

Webster’s association with IBLP and its homeschooling program, the Advanced Training Institute, made national headlines when he first ran for Congress in 2010. Alan Grayson, the firebrand incumbent Democrat, criticized Webster, who had served 28 years in the Florida legislature, in an ad characterizing him as “Taliban Dan.” The ad showed clips from a Webster speech to an IBLP conference during which he spoke of a biblical command that wives submit to their husbands. Webster, who went on to win the election, insisted the clips were taken out of context.

IBLP also is opposed to public education, contraception, “humanistic” laws, and rock music.


Nobody Knows Anything

conservatism, Republican Party

Whatever is going on in U.S. politics has gone completely out of bounds of all the known knowns and unknown knowns and known unknowns and whatever other combination of confusion one could put together. We’re all in uncharted territory here.

Ezra Klein writes that the parties appear to have completely lost control of the nomination process. Many of you, like me, are old enough to remember when the nominee was chosen in backroom deals at party conventions. Now Citizens United and new media technology has made parties close to irrelevant to who walks away with the prize.

Regarding Republicans: Although most of the beltway media tribe are as oblivious as ever, Frank Bruni (seriously?) is beginning to notice something is out of whack.

[Republicans] have become the party of brinkmanship, the party of imminent credit defaults, the party of threatened shutdowns, the party that won’t pass a proper transportation bill, the party that is suddenly demonizing the Export-Import Bank, the party of “no,” the party of ire, the party that casts even someone as unquestionably conservative as John Boehner in the role of apostate, simply because he knows the difference between fights that can be won and those that can’t, between standing on principle and shooting yourself in the foot.

Let it not be forgot that Bruni has been a leader of the both-sides-are-just-as-bad tribe for some time.

Conventional wisdom says that John Boehner’s resignation puts an end to any shutdown over Planned Parenthood, because the Crazy Caucus won’t be able to threaten him with a coup any more. However, conventional wisdom also says that What Comes Next will be worse for President Obama and Mitch McConnell.  But Josh Marshall disagrees.

This is a basic misunderstanding of the dynamics of the situation, actually a fundamental one – based again on the assumption that the only thing standing in the way of the House “Freedom Caucus” and right wing glory is that they haven’t shut the government down enough, or haven’t voted to repeal Obamacare enough. Was John Boehner really running interference for President Obama, shielding him from the ferocious fury of the right wing of the House caucus or was he frequently bending over backwards to find ways to avoid House nutballs from inflicting even more damage on the party’s national standing?

The latest brouhaha was about whether or not to shut the government down over defunding Planned Parenthood. Note today’s Quinnipiac Poll which shows that Americans oppose shutting down the government over defunding Planned Parenthood by a 69% to 23% margin. Even Republicans oppose it by a 56% to 36% margin. The opposition to this is broad based and overwhelming. It has all the kinetics and logic of driving 100 miles an hour into a reinforced cement wall.

Gerrymandering pretty much guarantees the GOP will hang on to the House at least until 2020, Josh M. continues. So they think they’re invincible. But if the hard Right in the House is allowed to charge ahead in all of its irrational glory and cause one crisis after another to force its will, this is unlikely to particularly hurt President Obama, or Democrats.

Whether it would hurt Republicans remains to be seen; the pattern we’ve seen over the past several years is that when one layer of crazy comes apart, an even crazier layer is revealed. Apparently the “fix” for the failures of extremist conservatism is even more radical extremist conservatism.

The question in my mind is, how far is this going to go? Nothing continues forever. The trajectory will fail, eventually. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the Taoist view that all things carry the seeds of their own destruction. The question is, how long? And, when the collapse comes, will our political institutions be strong enough to adjust? Or have extremism and corruption made them too vulnerable to stand?


Please Proceed, Jeb!

The Smarter Brother

Jeb! has told us we common folk need to work longer hours and retire later. Now comes his pitch for the African American vote:

Bush pointed to his record on school choice and said that if Republicans could double their share of the black vote, they would win the swing states of Ohio and Virginia.

“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

Yes, the “free stuff” line worked so well for Mittens four years ago. And let me add that’s it’s just too rich for a Bush to be chiding others about achieving “earned success.”

Update: I didn’t see this coming — John Boehner will resign from Congress in October.


Why CEOs Shouldn’t Be President

Bad Hair, Republican Party

Not that Fiorina was much of a CEO — no one has offered her a  CEO job since she left HP in 2005 — but this to me screams out loud why being a CEO and a POTUS are two different things —

Carly Fiorina said Sunday that neither she nor Hewlett-Packard should be faulted for the sales of millions of HP printers in Iran when such business was prohibited by U.S. law.

Appearing on Fox’s Fox News Sunday, Fiorina said that despite being the CEO of HP when the Iranian sales took place via a third party, she was unaware of them. …

… “In fact, the SEC investigation proved that neither I nor anyone else in management knew about it…” she insisted, adding,  “…when the company discovered this three years after I left, they cut off all ties. The SEC investigated very thoroughly and concluded that no one in management was aware.”

A 2008 Boston Globe investigation found that, while U.S. companies were banned from selling goods to Iran, an Indian company in Dubai called Redington Gulf had sold HP printers there. They sold them so well, in fact, that HP had 41 percent market share in Iran by 2007. Redington Gulf obtained the printers through a European subsidiary.

Wallace asked Fiorina why HP had named Redington Gulf its “Wholesaler of the Year” award in 2003 if the company wasn’t aware of its sales to Iran, Fiorina again deflected blame.

It’s possible Fiorina wasn’t aware of how Redington Gulf made its sales, because that’s not the sort of thing a CEO has to worry about. Sales are sales.

(However, according to a 2004 article in Forbes, Fiorina’s HP was one of the companies that knowingly — or, at least, they must have known — shipped products to Dubai to be re-exported into Iran. Halliburton was another company named, of course. This practice was openly winked at even as the companies in question denied they ever sold goods to Iran.)

A POTUS has to have a more, shall we say, nuanced view of the world, in all of its complexities. And a POTUS is held responsible for things a CEO can get away with denying.

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, not someone on my most admired list by any stretch, did say something insightful awhile back. When asked if a CEO’s skills would make someone a good President, he said, “It’s not sufficient. I think you have a whole ‘nother set of attributes. I think it’s really complex — politics. It’s three-dimensional chess.”

And if politics is three-dimensional chess, foreign policy is 12-dimensional chess. Businesses, even big corporations, operate within relatively narrow parameters – – cost, profit, cash flow, sales figures. CEOs don’t have to worry about whether selling widgets to France will cause a war with Spain. Presidents do.

Back when Mittens was running for POTUS, it struck me that he is probably very shrewd but not intelligent. By that I mean he seems to have a knack for calculating how to wring every dollar out of a business venture. But how does he understand history? How does he understand the causes of poverty, or the dynamics of race, or why certain wetlands have to be protected from development, or what it’s really like to be poor and have no health insurance? I very much doubt those things were even on his radar.

The purpose of a corporation is to make money for the investors. And if you have to wreck the environment or move jobs overseas and screw your employees in the process, that’s okay in the business world. The purpose of a government is to support fairness, justice and a decent standard of living for its citizens. And by “support a decent standard of living” I don’t mean hand out welfare, but to enable citizens to be self-supporting by preventing the malefactors of great wealth from exploiting the hell out of them, and to enable upward mobility through things like education and public health policies.

These two purposes are completely at odds with each other, and I don’t think the CEO presidential wannabees grasp that. Or, if they do grasp it, they don’t care. Winning the White House would be the ultimate “regulatory capture.” Why be content with getting industry-friendly executives appointed to federal regulatory agencies, when you can take over the entire executive branch?

Further, CEOs are tyrants. They exercise power largely through intimidation. David Corn wrote of Carly Fiorina,

At HP, Fiorina developed the reputation of a manager who knocked heads together—or who chopped them off. And there were massive layoffs during her tenure. In 2003, the company announced it would dismiss almost 18,000 people. (That year, the firm posted a $903 million loss on $56.6 billion in revenue.) When the outsourcing of jobs turned into a national political issue, Fiorina became the poster-girl for an industry campaign aimed at blocking any legislation that would restrict a company’s ability to can American employees in favor of workers overseas. She and executives from seven other tech companies issued a report that argued that any such measures would hurt the U.S. economy. The best way to increase American competitiveness, they declared, was to improve schools and, yes, reduce taxes. At a Washington press conference, Fiorina said, “There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs.” The remark did not go over well with critics of outsourcing, who have ever since used it as an indicator of corporate insensitivity.

Note that candidate Fiorina already is promising to lay off government workers. It’s what she knows how to do.

Presidents, in contrast, have highly restricted powers. And they can’t fire Supreme Court justices. One of Fiorina’s excuses for her failures at HP is that the Board of Directors was hard to work with, and there may be some truth in that. But, my dear, have you seen Congress lately?

Nor do CEOs concern themselves with coming up with plans — that’s what the help is for. Note that Fiorina’s official campaign web site doesn’t have a “Carly on the Issues” section. It’s all about her resume, not her policy ideas. (Donald Trump has recently added a “positions” section to his, although the only two issues he addresses are 2nd amendment rights and immigration.)

(I am reminded of the Ultimate Donald Rumsfeld memo. This is what you get with a CEO secretary of defense.)

I’m not going to look at every presidential candidate website, but I will note that Bernie Sanders has an extensive issues section that would take someone a while to read.

Right now Trump and Fiorina are one and two in the Republican polls. At least Scott Walker seems out of the running; that’s some comfort.

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