Top California Republican Leaves Party

“Steve Poizner, the wealthy Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur and 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate, has announced he’ll seek statewide office as an independent in 2018 — marking a high-profile defection from the state Republican Party as President Trump’s approval ratings sink in California,” Politico reports.

Poizner sais that “as California confronts the impacts of devastating fires, mudslides and growing cybersecurity threats, he’s decided to seek the office of Insurance Commissioner for a second time — but this time, without a party label.”

The GOP Needs to Be Fumigated

Tom Nichols: “Republicans once believed in limited government, fiscal restraint, support for the defense and national security establishments, family values, and a strong American role in maintaining global order. More than that, we were the party that believed in logic and prudence over emotion. Our hearts were perhaps too cold, but never bleeding.”

“Today’s Republicans, however, are a party of bellowing drama queens whose elected representatives blow up spending caps, bust the deficit, and attack America’s law enforcement and national security agencies as dangerous conspirators. Their leader expects banana republic parades, coddles the Kremlin, protects violent men in positions of responsibility, and overlooks child molestation. The rank-and-file GOP members who once claimed that liberals were creating a tyrannical monarchy in the Oval Office now applaud the expansion of the presidency into a gigantic cult of personality.”

“So, am I still a Republican?”

White House Gives Phones to Senior Staff for Politics

“The White House will allow as many as a dozen senior advisers to receive additional cell phones so that they can contact the RNC regarding the fall midterm elections,” The Hill reports.

“A White House official, who was granted anonymity to describe the plan, said the arrangement was made in order to allow certain senior advisers to ‘conduct political activity during core working hours,’ when personal devices are not permitted inside working areas of the White House.”

The Cowardice Among Republicans Is Staggering

Michael Gerson: “With the blessing of Republican leaders, the lickspittle wing of the GOP is now firmly in charge. The existence of reckless partisans such as Nunes is hardly surprising. The nearly uniform cowardice among elected Republicans is staggering. One is left wishing that Obamacare covered spine transplants. The Republican-led Congress is now an adjunct of the White House. The White House is now an adjunct of Trump’s chaotic will.”

“And what to make of Ryan (R-WI)? I have been a consistent defender of his good intentions. But after the 17th time saying “He knows better,” it dawns that he may not. By his recent actions, the speaker has provided political cover for a weakening of the constitutional order. He has been used as a tool while loudly insisting he is not a tool. The way Ryan is headed, history offers two possible verdicts: Either he enabled an autocrat, or he was intimidated by a fool.”

Boycott the Republican Party

Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes: “We have both spent our professional careers strenuously avoiding partisanship in our writing and thinking. We have both done work that is, in different ways, ideologically eclectic, and that has—over a long period of time—cast us as not merely nonpartisans but antipartisans. Temperamentally, we agree with the late Christopher Hitchens: Partisanship makes you stupid. We are the kind of voters who political scientists say barely exist—true independents who scour candidates’ records in order to base our votes on individual merit, not party brand.”

“This, then, is the article we thought we would never write: a frank statement that a certain form of partisanship is now a moral necessity. The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The problem is not just Donald Trump; it’s the larger political apparatus that made a conscious decision to enable him. In a two-party system, nonpartisanship works only if both parties are consistent democratic actors. If one of them is not predictably so, the space for nonpartisans evaporates.”

“We’re thus driven to believe that the best hope of defending the country from Trump’s Republican enablers, and of saving the Republican Party from itself, is to do as Toren Beasley did: vote mindlessly and mechanically against Republicans at every opportunity, until the party either rights itself or implodes (very preferably the former).”

Trump Has Transformed the Republican Party

Jonathan Swan: “Rarely has a president changed his party as fast and profoundly as Donald J. Trump. Love him or hate him, you can no longer argue his ability to bend an entire party to his will.”

“In the two and a half years since he announced his candidacy, he has moved the party away from decades of orthodoxy on trade, Russia, deficits and more — and has helped make the law-and-order party skeptical of FBI leadership.”

“Perhaps the most profound thing Trump has done is show how many movement leaders and Republicans in Congress are out of touch with Republican voters.”

It’s Trump’s Party Now

Dan Balz: “This was the week when the Republican Party finally went all in with President Trump. What once seemed unlikely is now reality. The Republican establishment — there are a few dissenting voices, of course — has succumbed to the power of the presidency, and this president in particular.”

“This coming together has taken place gradually. The path has been rocky at times. But the embrace of the president by elected Republicans could not have been warmer or fuller than shown in the past week.”

How Conservatives Learned to Hate the FBI

Todd Purdum: “The aggressive Republican attacks on the FBI are the latest sign — if one were needed — that President Donald Trump has upended the longstanding norms of Washington, as he and his allies in Congress seek to undermine the one institution of government that conservatives have typically seen as a bastion of integrity and law-and-order. Since at least the dawn of the New Deal, Republicans have excoriated any number of government entities — the Tennessee Valley Authority, the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — as woolly-headed, hyper-regulatory and riddled with liberals — or worse.”

“But for decades — from J. Edgar Hoover’s 47-year reign, through the McCarthy era, the civil unrest of the 1960s and right down to the Clinton impeachment — the FBI and the GOP have almost always been in sympathy, and often in sync. Not even at the height of the Watergate scandal, when the bureau’s investigation was imperiling Richard Nixon’s presidency, did Republican loyalists mount any serious effort to sow doubt about its work. No more.”

The Problem with Tribalism

Andrew Sullivan: “It triggers a deep and visceral response: a defense of the tribe before all other considerations. That means, in its modern manifestation, that the tribe comes before the country as a whole, before any neutral institutions that get in its way, before reason and empiricism, and before the rule of law. It means loyalty to the tribe — and its current chief — is enforced relentlessly. And this, it seems to me, is the underlying reason why the investigation into Russian interference in the last election is now under such attack and in such trouble. In a tribalized society, there can be no legitimacy for an independent inquiry, indifferent to tribal politics. In this fray, no one is allowed to be above it.”

“On the face of it, of course, no one even faintly patriotic should object to investigating how a foreign power tried to manipulate American democracy, as our intelligence agencies have reported. And yet one party is quite obviously doing all it can to undermine such a project — even when it is led by a Republican of previously unimpeachable integrity, Robert Mueller. Tribalism does not spare the FBI; it cannot tolerate an independent Department of Justice; it sees even a Republican like Mueller as suspect; and it sees members of another tribe as incapable of performing their jobs without bias.”

RNC May Block Ted Cruz-Like Candidates In 2020

BuzzFeed News: “Ted Cruz’s micro-level attention to delegate math in 2016 kept him alive longer in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and prompted eventual winner Donald Trump to stew over what he called a ‘crooked deal’ and ‘rigged system.'”

“The kind of insider politicking that Cruz mastered at state caucuses and conventions now appears to be the target of a rule change the Republican National Committee is exploring. Under a proposal discussed this week during the party’s winter meetings, states that hold primaries for rank-and-file voters — rather than those less accessible contests — could receive extra delegates to the national convention.”

GOP Lawmaker Disputes Trump’s Claim of Unity

Retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) likened the Republican party’s efforts to avoid discussing difficult issues to “a dysfunctional family. Dad’s drunk again but we don’t talk about it,” Politico reports.

Said Dent: “DACA, debt ceiling, budget, agreement, omnibus? There aren’t 218 votes on those. Are we united on issues? No. We never are. It’s not going to change now.”

Trump Has Finally Won Over Republican Lawmakers

Washington Post: “They have begun to adapt to his unpredictable nature and, when it comes to investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign and presidential actions, Republicans have increasingly become strong defenders in a bid to invalidate his Democratic tormentors and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.”

“Even those Republicans that still hesitate to embrace Trump have come to grips with the fact that voters chose this particular mode of operation — and no longer expect him to change course.”