With sweetness Donald. With sweetness. According to some GOP women like Representative Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Trump needs to pick a female vice president, as a tactical move to shore up his unimpressive – to say the least – numbers among women voters in America.

And that leads to a name like Condoleezza Rice, who has been back in the academic world from whence she emerged decades ago, as a very bright scholar of communist Eastern Europe. But that means Trump would have one of so-called transformational diplomacy’s main cheerleaders as his running mate. Also known as getting into bed with a nation-builder.

The classical pianist of some skill was one of those who thought that by spreading democracy and it’s countless benefits to the Middle East, you could fundamentally change the region. The evidence up till now clearly suggests that Rice and her fellow neo-cons were wrong on this.

If Trump was a musician he would definitely be a trombone player: all noisy and brassy. Rather different than the crisp keyboard noodling required by Chopin’s piano concertos, for example. So pairing Trump and Rice would be a little like putting a pianist in the middle of a Crimson Tide marching band half-time show. You just might not catch all those subtle notes wafting from the keyboard.

Rice seemed to be a fairly steely presence who spoke softly but was never viewed as anything less than tough. A very different persona from Trump. Would she even consider teaming up with The Donald? That seems most unlikely, especially for someone who was in the thick of the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the Iraq War as a junior government official, and then as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State during the Iraq War years. She has been in the hot seat, and even if she could see common ground with Trump – which is unlikely – would she really want to leave the comfortable corridors of academic life?

And would that loud, brash trombone player ever be willing to take his tempo from the pianist quietly glaring at him from stage right?

If you think you’re conservative, and more importantly, if you think you’re really, really smart you just might write for Commentary Magazine, whose intellectual post WW II journey reads from left to right. That means a lot of fussy intellectual debating on great matters in religion and politics, as well as culture. At least that’s what we are told – those of us who only dip into it’s articles every once in a while. We can only imagine the grand tectonic shifts that it’s offices must have witnessed.

So when Commentary’s Noah Rothman goes squiggly, nerdy, and negative – in a thoughtful way that is, however, continually undercut by his hostility towards the Donald – on Trump’s foreign policy speech in Washington, it can be a little bit much. Yes, he points out contradictions in Trump’s rough sketches. And sure, they’re pretty rough sketches. And Rothman’s warnings on Putin’s Russia are well-taken.

But on Trump’s attack on the Iraq War, Rothman returns to the false analogy of Germany and Japan, whose post War II reconstructions began precisely when Commentary was founded in 1946. The problem is Rothman and all those who believed that Iraq and by extension it’s neighbors could be turned into stable democracies were dead wrong when they pointed to Germany and Japan as the way forward in the Middle East.

Germany was at the heart of Western European culture for – arguably – a couple of centuries before Hitler’s crazed ideology hijacked the nation. A hijacking in which a clear majority of Germans gladly and willingly took part. But as soon as Germany signed the terms of surrender, the process of rebuilding began. By the Germans themselves more than anyone. As much as it never should and never will be forgotten that Nazi Germany was the work of a majority of Germans and not merely a fanatical, crazed few; it must be said that Germany has atoned for it’s horrifying sins like few modern nations have. Similar arguments can be made with regards Japan.

None of this holds true in the Middle East. Germany and Japan were, and clearly are even more so today, centers of innovation and creativity on multiple levels. Iraq was cobbled together after WW I by an Englishwoman named Gertrude Bell who literally sketched out the shape of the country for the United Kingdom. Not the same. A tribal coalition that was later held together by Saddam Hussein’s brutality is not an industrial society with large bodies of knowledge and creativity that can be put to work building a nation. And one prone to civil wars along tribal lines absent such brutal authority.

Maybe in several decades and with thousands and thousands more American lives sacrificed, as well as resources spent, Iraq could arrive at some sort of stable democracy. Maybe. Should this be America’s obligation?

Noah Rothman and those who inspired him – like Bill Kristol – stubbornly continue to proclaim the possibility of nation building in the Middle East. It would be instructive to know how Israel’s leaders truly feel about the results of nation building in their hate-filled neighborhood in which they have had to defend their homeland. Whether the neo-con movement will ever admit it’s fatal analogy is another matter.

Are you getting tired? If you’re a NeverTrump supporter, Nate Sliver of fivethirthyeight.com fame, thinks so. In a very telling graphic, he shows how voter turnout as percentage of the eligible population has been steadily falling since the New Hampshire primary. If he’s right, and the falling turnout is due to anti-Trump Republicans becoming discouraged, then the psychology shifts for the crucial Indiana primary next Tuesday.

It’s no longer Donald’s desperate last attempt to avoid a contested convention. It’s now Cruz, Kasich, and the rest of the GOP opposition forces’ (we can call them opposition at this point although it’s still a bit of a stretch) desperate last attempt to ensure a contested convention does indeed happen in Cleveland. Ted and The Pastor and the rest of his incredibly well-organized campaign team are doing what they can to fight the good fight in the Hoosier State.

Will Indiana turn out for Ted? Or are enough NeverTrump voters tired of what has been a long, bruising battle that shows no signs of the much-needed party unity? And how can you predict what Kasich’s supporters will do on May 3? To say nothing of GOP voters who dislike Trump even more than they do Cruz.

But what if voters themselves are hedging their bets? And, more importantly, are delegates also hedging? Think of it as buying futures options by voting in favor of Trump in the primary, but siding with Cruz in the shadow election for delegate loyalty. Do voters sense that there is a need for unity at some point if the GOP is to take on Hillary, and have a chance at the real magic number: 270 electoral votes?

And if enough GOP voters are feeling that way, then the kerfuffle between Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort is not just understandable, but maybe not that terrible a thing.

Politico – and the staff at any number of conservative sites – can grin with malicious pleasure at the power struggle between Donald’s top two advisors. And see it as Trump being unable to grasp the nettle needed to both win the nomination, and then win the general election by being presidential.

But what if Trump is playing the two of them against each other? What if Trump IS the point guard. And neither of them are? And hopefully, the two of them are now aware of it, and understand why Trump is the one passing the ball around. Lewandowski has been largely responsible for helping Trump get to where he is. And Manafort brings – maybe – some veteran tactical experience to ensure Trump can convince delegates and voters in states like Indiana. Manafort has had a bit of a rough few days – with leaky RNC members recording and handing out his attempted deal-making to a ravenous press – but he might be able to do just enough in the ground game in Indiana to help win the state for Trump. As in keeping Governor Pence neutral, for example.

Do Lewandowski and Manafort begin each meeting hugging each other? Not likely. But can they work together to help bring Trump to the delegate total he needs? And make the right move when Trump zings them a pass? Indiana will be the test of how useful their combative relationship is. Because Indiana likes a winning team on the court. No, they demand a winning team on the court.

I guess I should have known, by the way you parked your car – sideways – that it wouldn’t last. Why not compare Indiana to Minnesota? Why not call Indiana a parking lot? No one has a real understanding of how this now-suddenly-more-crucial-than-ever primary will actually play out on May 3.

So if Indiana is a parking lot – will the Trump limousine finally get it’s tires slashed and it’s brake fluid drained? Indiana seems to be whatever you want it to be. It’s Wisconsin – it’s neighbor two states over and one state up. It’s Ohio, and Kasich will do great! It’s Kentucky in it’s true deep heart and Trump will prevail. It’s Michigan really. Good for Trump as well.

Maybe above all, Indiana is smart. No automated polling please; you have to have real people talking to real people. Three folks with a server and an algorithm in suburban D.C. don’t like that. So we have no polling. We have rural and urban but in a mix that seems hard to compare to other states. Or easy to compare to any state you like.

What do local Indiana Republicans want? They seem divided between tactical voting for Cruz – and sometimes Kasich – and letting the thing play out. And conservative talk radio in the state is not a well-aligned, laser-focused, death-to-Trump machine. The way it was in Wisconsin. As well, evangelicals may not be as prevalent in their influence as they were in Iowa.

In other words, the comparisons seem to collapse into negatives: what Indiana isn’t. Rather than what it is. For example, Governor Mike Pence has not endorsed anyone. Yet. So maybe Indiana Republicans want to be persuaded. They see the civil war going on in their party. But they aren’t convinced by either side. And predicting how they will vote on May 3 in the state’s GOP primary is next to impossible.

So go ahead and park your limousine – or your jet – sideways in Indiana if you want Mr. Trump. The state will take its time to see if you last, or not. You have a chance to persuade. And you – and Cruz and Kasich – seem to be grabbing that chance with both hands. I’d say Indiana loves it.

Trump may have taken New York in the primary, but Kasich hit him where it hurts. Kasich won Manhattan, which makes it the 7th county he’s won overall. It’s uncanny how loudly Trump boasted about the support from the people closest to him, yet the people LITERALLY closest to him chose Kasich.

With the results from New York, it’s looking harder and harder for Trump to obtain the necessary delegates to clench the primary, which consequently brings a lot of heat the the convention in July for the nomination.

Although, Trump continues to defeat Cruz and Kasich by a landslide, it will all boil down to the convention.

Sometime in the first years of the 20th century, the term grassroots began to appear in political discourse. Especially as it related to Teddy Roosevelt’s heyday, including his notorious Bull Moose (Progressive) Party that resulted from a split with the Republican Party. This was in 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt was outmaneuvered for the GOP nomination by Taft, despite winning far more votes in the primaries.

Sound a touch familiar? The problem in 2016, however, is that nothing can be taken for granted. Especially the grassroots. Because if grassroots means anything it means local. But local is not necessarily free from party machinery influence. In fact, when it comes to party rules, the grassroots goes to the better organized campaign. As in Ted Cruz and his impressive local outreach to delegates. From Wyoming to Jewish-heavy districts in NYC. Totally impressive, without a doubt.

The problem is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t proudly point to grassroots and then snidely say that it’s in the rules and you should have read page 14 section 1.a paragraph 6. Ha ha. Ha ha.

Actually you can. And they are. So is it astro-turfing? Or grassroots local organizing that’s killing Trump at the committed delegate level. In other words, after the first round, should the almost-inevitable contested convention become a reality.

It’s not a mushy cop out to say it’s both; because it is. Yes there’s a top-heavy mission (get Ted the nomination by stopping Trump) but the mechanics can only work if you talk to people at the local level. And …. if …. you …. listen …. to people at the local level. Trump clearly picked the right year to run. That means he actually did listen to voter anger over the last few years, and crafted a platform that responds to that anger. But Ted Cruz’s team seems to have their ears a little closer to the ground.

So it’s in this election cycle that top-down meets bottom-up like never before. And it all collides in the person of the individual delegate. They are indeed in a squeeze, and some have admitted feeling it like never before perhaps. While they might relish the power, they have had more light and heat thrown their way than they could ever have expected.

Understandably, the latest clash in the GOP is once again in the RNC rules committee. The chairman of the RNC rules committee, Bruce Ash, is publicly scolding Reince Priebus over Priebus’ request to cancel a rules committee meeting due shortly. As well as pressuring Ash and Oregon RNC member Solomon Yue to retire Yue’s proposed rule change that would require a majority of delegates to re-open the convention.

Currently to bring in a fresh face – in Rove’s term – the convention chairman – Paul Ryan – can open the convention up. That’s pretty astroturf. Just ask Ron Paul’s followers. Why not let a majority of delegates decide whether to open up the convention? Let a thousand (plus) blades of grass rise up through all the fertilizer! And the astroturf.

An unmarried, retired, four-star Marine General is in the sights of some deep-pocketed conservatives who need a leader for their third option – if and when Trump becomes the GOP nominee.

Usually, those with the driving, ruthless ambition necessary to try and aim for high office can’t even be hooked off the political stage. Even long after their time is up. Like Kasich, tap dancing his way around an ever increasing number of grappling hooks trying desperately to get him off the stage.

But in the case of those who are being cajoled into running either for the 2016 GOP nominee, or as a third party contender for the office of president, the grappling hooks are trying to get them ONTO the stage. Not off the stage. Look at poor Paul Ryan, who for very sound political reasons is in no way interested in truncating his very promising political career on a suicide mission for zealous establishment purists (it’s not a contradiction – it’s a paradox!). Who like to push others through the velvet curtains and into the limelight and have them risk their careers, in order to show that the guys hiding behind the curtains really, really mean business.

So we have Mad Dog Mattis – that’s General James Mattis to us civilians – who has had a brilliant military career and proved his worth in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, when if really counted. Like in Fallujah. And his blunt, colorful language apparently delighted the men and women under his command.

So he’s Patton. Not Eisenhower. But politically, who is he? That’s what most voters will say at this point. And the retired general himself has stated he wishes to remain “silent” on the issue of whether he’d even consider actually agreeing to run. That leaves supporters like John Noonan – former security advisor to Jeb Bush – with a lot of work to do to promote their guy.

This is getting ridiculous. The folks who advised Jeb Bush’s campaign are now going after a little-known (outside military circles where he seems to be greatly respected) general? Of course he’s going to remain silent. He’s been in battle. And he knows when the fire is either unfriendly or risks doing collateral damage. He won’t come out of his bunker unless he feels he has a battle plan that works. And the idea that a tough talking military officer will suddenly sweep away Trump supporters with his rough-hewed rhetoric sounds like a really bad script that never makes it past the concept stage. Are they serious?? Do they have that little faith in Ted Cruz? Or that much hostility towards the Texas Senator?

As Paul Manafort gets ready to file challenges to delegate credentials, between the insults he’s already hurled in order to somehow rescue Trump’s abysmal ground game for gathering in loyal delegates, we have a little heartening news for Manafort’s boss. RNC Rules Committee member Randy Evans has suggested that 1,237 is not, in fact, the magic number.

Nope. The target was always a moving one apparently. It is now 1,100 delegates that Trump will need in order to win in what presumably would be the first round at the GOP convention in Cleveland. And 1,000 is the number below which Trump dare not fall, as that would mean a convention of multiple rounds in Cleveland. Where anything could happen.

That must be a relief for Manafort, right? Assuming that the RNC’s Evans is in fact right and not just throwing out an opinion. But with the GOP convention rules up for grabs a week or two before Cleveland, Evans knows that these rules are continually being changed in order to favor or deny certain individuals or factions. Will his prediction still hold water after the final pre-convention rules meeting?

It would mean Trump needs 137 delegates less than most thought to be the case. That’s Indiana, Nebraska, and Washington State put together. If indeed Randy Evans is speaking for the RNC and it’s hallowed Rules Committee. Rather than just speaking for himself.

What does not change however, is the fact that after the first round, Trump would likely be in trouble. That means he should still view 1,237 as the target and settle for 1,100 if he has to. Because unless Manafort can turn things around in a hurry, it is more than likely that Trump will not reach the not-so-magic-anymore number of 1,237. And that in turn means that Manafort had better be reaching out to delegates at the local precinct and county level rather than just being dictatorially aggressive in his tactical outbursts. So that he ensures that 1,100 is credible. In the eyes of the only people – like it or not – who count (in every sense of the word): the delegates themselves.

If you’re an undocumented worker – or, as some misinformed people might say, an illegal alien – it doesn’t matter if you broke a few laws sneaking into the country. As long as you pay taxes to the IRS. Whether your taxpayer ID matches up with your stolen Social Security Number is a detail that the IRS will sort through. And overlook. You’re paying taxes, and that’s all that matters.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has seen the light. More than 11 million points of light in fact. All of which – if only conservatives/moderates/independents/whoever believe the laws of their country should be upheld by their elected government would just shut up – are potential taxpayers, contributing to IRS coffers. And that’s a good thing of course.

So your SSN is stolen. How can we help? Seeing you’re on the right path. It’s not at all a case of “the normal identity theft situation” in Kosiken’s words. Your SSN just happens to be stolen. And as long as you don’t drain dozens of bank accounts with your fake ID, then it’s not a real theft.

This is wonderful. What we have here are the nuts and bolts (or at least the former) of how identity is constructed in our post-modern selfie-stick narcissim-bound society. I am not an illegal. You’re ignorant and racist for calling me that. I am undocumented. And this is how I’m going about undoing my undocumented status.

I’m documenting myself! And the IRS is on my side!

The nuances are exquisite. Theft is not theft until viewed through the prism of identity. Or more accurately, the construction of identity. Not that an illegal who uses a stolen SSN to get a job and then files taxes with a taxpayer ID that does not match up, only wants to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. More likely, they want a job. And a car. And a home. In the country they broke into. But they are not thieves. They are constructing an identity based on illegal entry and stolen documentation. But they are not thieves.

And now they may a clearing house, if you will, for their activities. Hillary Clinton has proposed a national Office of Immigrant Affairs. Where you can get help with your SSN, for example. And it’s clear who should head up the office: Jorge Ramos and John Koskinen. Who else? Informed, passionate. And whose motto is: no human being is an illegal. And an SSN is just a number – even if it happens to be stolen. And a border is just a line in the sand. That you cross as easily as it takes to pay a coyote, steal an SSN, and construct a new identity.

What a relief. Trump is not Mussolini. He’s Berlusconi. A billionaire who speaks to people’s “stomachs” not minds, in the words of an Italian political academic, quoted by Politico. The article then goes on to list how Berlusconi’s government broke most of their promises and became mired in corruption.

So watch out America. Trump is taking you for a ride … on a cruise ship. Where he will sing you lovely little lies. And this is where this analogy gets a little silly. Berlusconi’s Italy was, is, and most likely shall be, a member of the EU. A large micro-managing bureaucracy located north of Rome. Way north. Compared to France and Greece, for example, the Italian economy has not done all that badly. And comparing Trump’s possible effect on America to Berlusconi’s on Italy is to denigrate the Constitution. You don’t have to guess which one.

And if – in the words of a Rome daily – Trump will be “a parasite that destroys the political establishment” that might not be seen as such an overwhelmingly bad thing by many of today’s voters. So European academics are warning of the dangers of Trump. In a continent that can’t even defend itself without America’s military and aid. It’s an amusing analogy and one that might have a few relevant points.

But America’s balance of powers will negate much of the dangers that EU wonks are sounding the warning over. Especially their warnings on Berlusconi’s corruption scandals. Corruption scandals because The Donald is in the White House? Please, bring Hillary and the general election on.

But maybe Politico and their Italian academics are right. Maybe there is a Vast Roman Conspiracy to place Augustus Trumpus on the throne of the decaying Republic in the eternal city of Georgetown. Rudy Giuliani has just announced that he’s voting for Trump. Coincidence? I think not. And look at Trump’s links to the Genovese and Gambino families through S&A Concrete. Never mind that if you wanted to put up a building in NYC in those days, and it had concrete in it’s foundations, you had to deal with them. It’s all part of the Vast Roman Conspiracy. Just ask any left-wing Roman academic. They know.

Why is Ted Cruz’s team playing public footsie with one, two, three, seven? There’s no way the Texas Senator can get to the world’s most overhyped number. Can he? Cruz spokesperson Jason Miller said the team feels good about winning before or after the convention. This was after reporters hounded him for clarification, which he did by merely repeating what he had said before: we can win before or after(during one assumes) the convention.

Who is this nuance in Cruz’s post-mortem aimed at? At his supporters, in order to get every last single delegate on board? Whether in the primary votes, or more importantly, when delegates are actually selected. But is there another target? Like, say, Karl Rove?

Is Ted Cruz and his team saying: if not The Donald then it’s gotta be me? Because my delegate count will be as close to Trump as I can get it. As in: there’s no way you are going to glad-handle, and bundle and trundle, a non-Trump or non-Cruz candidate like Paul Ryan onto MY stage! We will have our delegate trampoline stretched so tight that I will bounce head and heels over any one else. If not in the first round, then in the second round for sure. So stay away and forget about sticking a fresh face in.

Ted Cruz and Karl Rove know each other fairly well. And have had a fight (or two) that could have been settled discretely but was instead aired in public. Mostly because of Ted Cruz’s political ambitions and his then recently published book. So Karl Rove does not like Ted at all, and Ted knows this perfectly. Hence the enthusiastic boosterism of his team after Wisconsin’s solid win.

This raises the question of whether the fresh-face-thingy is a vendetta between two politicos from Texas (ok Rove was not born in Texas … oh that’s right, nor was Cruz); or whether there is a substantial portion of the remaining GOP establishment that do not want Cruz as their nominee for president. More and more of GOP standard-bearers seem to be drifting into Ted’s camp, so it appears to be the former. But Ted – like Donald – is fighting a nomination battle on several fronts. And that includes those in his party who dislike him. And, oh yes, he’s also got to worry about a very stubborn John Kasich.

Yes indeed, we are running a little hot tonight. In places like Iceland, where angry protesters are demanding their off-shore-account-holding prime minister resign. And it’s Panama’s fault. And while Putin is not directly named in the so-called Panama Papers – caused by an insider leak so enormous it required dozens of news organizations banding together to a grind through the millions of emails, files, and PDF documents; his radioactive fingerprints are all over the billions of wealth accumulated by his close associates, friends and family.

So Breitbart and the New York Magazine having revealed that Trump might just know a lot of nasty secrets regarding Fox New’s Roger Ailes, has got lost a little in the news cycle. Of course, the Trump-on-Ailes story is speculative, based on comments from insiders and revolves around a lawsuit by a disgruntled former employee of Ailes. The Panama Papers, on the other hand, involves so much hard data that Hillary would need a private server farm to store it.

But does Trump – through his apparent mediation of the lawsuit – know far more about Ailes than Ailes would ever be comfortable with? And does this help in part to explain Trump’s treatment by the media?

Right now, there is no way to know. And given where the nomination process is, Trump may feel whatever secrets he does know are best kept secret. You might say, it’s very presidential of him to keep those cards tucked away in his bullet-proof vest. Never to be slapped down on the table. But with the knowledge on the part of powerful media players that he does indeed have them, offering him silent leverage.

That’s the thing. When you’re a world-famous reality-star/marketing-mogul/ruthless real estate developer, you don’t even care too much about your own secrets, because you have few left. At least compared to more discrete personalities who move behind the cameras rather than swagger in front of them. Or at least, that’s the impression you like to give. I’m tough and people know me. And they love me. So there.

In places like Putin’s Russia, and in some Latin American countries whose leaders figure in the Papers, part of the money – a relatively small but vital part – has apparently gone towards buying media complicity. There is no scandal – for example – in Russia as a result of the leak. And in Argentina, it’s just one more piece of damning evidence in a long-running corruption scandal.

So if the Ailes story is even half-true, then Trump has bought some breathing space on the media stage for a few million rumored to have been used to settle the lawsuit with Aile’s ex-employee. Whether this is a deeply troubling story or not is unclear. That’s because the mainstream media in general is far more subtle about how it responds to the various levers of power – not only financial ones. But respond they do, and levers do get pulled. Often. Trump – once again – is guilty of blunt crassness more than anything else. And he himself does not seem to have had a direct hand in breaking the story.

Yes Cruz is rolling out all the women in his life – ok, that didn’t sound quite right. Yes, Cruz as a loving husband, and overachieving loving son, and as a funnier and more human guy than his firebrand image suggests, are all helping The Ted (can we say that?) in Wisconsin. But as Byron York points out, Wisconsin is not an angry state. At least according to some recent polling. Could this be key as well?

How can Wisconsin not be angry? In 2016?! Is this Scott Walker’s fault? There must be some really angry public union officials, right? And some spitting mad school teachers. But in general, Wisconsinites are positive on their future in America. That is, they are not overwhelmingly angry and pessimistic about their lives. Unlike some other areas of the country.

According to Forbes, the State of Wisconsin ranks merely in the middle of the pack in terms of business costs, labor, regulatory environment, and economic climate. Quality of life is higher, but Wisconsin has a cost of doing business slightly above the national average. So it’s not exactly boom town.

As the GOP moves closer by the day to a full-blown fracture, Wisconsin seems to have escaped much of the fury associated with a party in revolt. But if Scott Walker has done a good job in his own state, as a national candidate he was simply not up to the unenviable task of the 2015-16 nomination race. So perhaps the Badger State is an exception, but a useful one, for those who wish to derail the Trump train. And one that is appearing on the primary schedule at just the right time. That is, as Trump is finally stumbling a little. Or more than a little.

Scott Walker had the good sense to get out of the race quickly. Will his state’s apparent good sense rub off on the GOP nomination process? Just a little please?

The law of unintended consequences is rigorously applied to government bureaucratic missteps. As it should be. But why not show a little healthy skepticism – to not say furious rejection of – the Republican, (and Democrat), party’s attempts to micro-manage the political nomination process? Rules are made and then remade on the spot to favor a candidate or to exclude an unwelcome outcome. Only to have an unpredicted outcome overshadow any previous concerns.

Hence the who-cares-anymore pledge required of GOP candidates last year by a party worried about a Trump third-party candidacy. Because there was no way on hell and earth that Trump was going to win the nomination. So it made sense to plan for the possibility of Trump, after losing some primaries, storming out of the official Republican party to start his own party.

And now the grand unifying pledge that the remaining candidates won’t honor, is acting as a metaphor for a party that seems divided beyond hope. And what was the third-party threat is now seen as a lifeboat for principled conservatives with Captain Kristol at the helm. To hell with ignorant, angry voters. The ship of state is ours. And we’ll build our own little stateless ship if we have to.

So thank you Fred Bauer for turning our weary gaze to the wise words of James Fenimore Cooper whose analysis of the demagogues versus doctrinaires confrontation – from 1838 – is eerily relevant to this election year. One stokes the masses. The other resides in ideological purities that refuse to give credence to popular concerns. As Bauer, writing in the Weekly Standard, puts it:

If the demagogue appeals to the resentments of the masses, the doctrinaires appeals to the narcissism of the powerful, assuring them that what truly afflicts a troubled nation is an ungrateful public.

The doctrinaire alienates the voting public and provokes anger, which the demagogue then feasts on. And the doctrinaire is on both sides of the political spectrum: conservative and radical (ok, liberal). And between gender-neutral washrooms in your kids’ school and trade deals that earn corporate consultants substantial fees and cost you your job, you are also told that you are ignorant to be angry. And dumb. And your votes are wrong. And that’s by the elites of your own party.

Is it any wonder that Trump – whose absolute bungling of the abortion issue even has Ann Coulter doubting – is doing as well as he is?

Even if you’re a star QB, you need a ground game. And you especially need it when it counts, in the big games. Just ask Cam Newton. You need it when you’re playing in New Orleans, for example.

So. Trump is quickly realizing he too needs a ground game. And he needs it yesterday. And if not yesterday, then now will have to do. You mean you have to romance and convince the actual delegates? You can’t just win the most votes and then relax? It may be that the RNC looks like The Alamo to Trump’s team: a besieged remnant of establishment party members and lobbyists, bravely or even crazily fighting on as their supplies (as in fundraising) dwindle.

It is not. At least not yet. The RNC is still a fortress filled with Trojan horses – like the convention rules for example – that must be taken down one delegate at a time. Remember, Ted Cruz was nearly as much of an outsider as you Mr. Trump. But he’s a wonky rebel who knows and loves the rules of the game. Even if it’s to bend them to the breaking point. You will have to scale those walls as well. And only teamwork will get you over the parapet.

Yes, maybe the rumors of affairs turn out to be true. And you get handed an easy convention win. Likely not. So you better have a plan A. Yes A. Because a Ted’s-a-cheatin’-lyin’-philanderer strategy is best left as a plan B, at best. You need a ground game. As good or better than Ted’s. You need to talk to the delegates themselves. Apparently like the good doctor is now doing in places like North Dakota. Will Carson have coffee with Curly Haugland? That would be an interesting conversation to listen in on.

And of course, Paul Manafort – whose greatest tactical campaigns were back in the 70’s and early 80’s – has been brought aboard to fight the delegate fight. Why did this take so long? Why didn’t someone tell you – The Donald – that it’s not over when primary voters vote. It’s just starting. So perhaps Corey Lewandowski should be rubbing elbows rather than grabbing arms. It’s part of the game you willingly entered Mr. Trump. By all means bend the rules. But play the game.

It’s good to know that ISIL’s leadership is hunkered down because of the Obama Administration’s strategy in combating the terrorist organization. At least that’s what Obama himself assured the world from a press conference in Buenos Aires. So as hundreds of trained killers are waiting throughout Europe to launch their next attack, be calm and know their leadership is hunkered down.

Be calm like Obama himself, as the president digs down in the bunkers of windy and chilly Barlioche’s golf courses. It’s still uncertain as to which course he will play a few rounds at, but you can be sure that on one of the five cargo jets stationed at the Bariloche airport, there was room in the hold for at least one or two sets of the president’s golf clubs. Left-handed of course.

And what better way to respond to the carnage in Brussels than dining out on Argie beef and dancing a little tango? Like any tourist recovering from the long flight down Buenos Aires way.

Let’s be fair to the failed strategy in Syria. Carpet bombing ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, or Daesh (as Kerry was forced to mispronounce at his press conference) may very cause new supporters to blossom again like a desert weed as the result of collateral damage from an intensive bombing campaign. Or it might work, if that collateral damage is accepted as necessary. That’s a horrifying thought to most in the West nowadays. One that many in the Allied countries did not feel as Dresden burned during WW II, for example. Or – at the time at least – when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reduced to rubble.

But the analogy is imperfect. As horrifying as the Nazi regime was, the cultural and political divide between ISIS and the West is deeper. And is rooted in a fanatical version of the Muslim faith. Precisely because it is not tied to so-called blood and soil, at least not in the same way, it is a threat that can materialize almost anywhere. And it’s adherents don’t even have to be Muslim. Like aging English rock chicks who go to Syria to cut heads off. Any raging sociopath is welcome with open arms and encrypted instructions on how to maim and kill.

But you have to call the enemy what it is – islamic fanatical terrorism – to be able to devise and try out strategies to both contain and defeat it. And Obama will not let the ugly truths of this particular breed of terrorism cast doubt on his world view. That, is some handicap Mr. President.

Some Arizona voters waited in line upwards of 5 hours to perform their civic duty on Tuesday, and it turned out to be a disaster. When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Arizona was able to alter election polls without permission, which led to them cutting poll locations by 70%. Maricopa County, the largest in Arizona, had just 1 poll location for every 21,000 people.

This shouldn’t have come as a surprise as each Tuesday, elections are reporting a record amount of votes. The the problem wasn’t limited to just the lack of locations.

Registered voters, either Democrat or Republican, were turning up to polls with their voter registration cards, and the system was reporting them as Independent which prevents them from voting. Some registered Democrats were even showing registration as Republican in the system.

There were so many problems with the polls in Arizona Tuesday that the results were being confirmed while citizens were still in line waiting to cast their vote. This obviously upset Sanders supporters the most, as Hillary and Trump were declared winners of their respective parties before people had even casted their votes.

If Arizona isn’t able to resolve the problems before the Primary Election in August it will appear fraudulent (even more so), and certainly before the general election.

This Sunday, President Obama posed in Havana, with an enormous mural of Ernesto Che Guevara looming behind his smiling presence. Guevara gave a speech in Algeria in the mid-60’s demanding the north – i.e. Europe and North America – fund the south – the developing world. Not a good move Ernesto. The fiercely smiling Cuban colleagues at the airport to greet El Che were furious. So was Fidel. Why? The apparatchiks in Moscow who were funding the new communist regime, were not pleased and took Che’s demand as precisely the self-righteous ransom it indeed was.

So Che was shipped off to Africa to organize, aid, and abet revolutions in places like the Congo. And was left dangling on his own, a couple of years later, in Bolivia where the soviet-backed local communist rebels were not interested in his motley crew. And for the great convenience of all, his martyrdom silenced a voice filled with hatred and rage. Who was willing to kill even more than he was willing to die. A real revolutionary who wrote guides on how to use terror – sorry liberating, armed violence – to achieve political ends.

His eternal image has waxed and waned over the years, but has always been present. At late 90’s radical anarchist gatherings, and in Middle Eastern islamic protests, for example. And his memory is fetishized by Hollywood, as is to be expected. How romantic.

So as Belgium reels from this latest ISIL attack, it seems Europe – in whose bedrooms more than a few now fully grown politicians had Che’s image taped to their walls – is getting a little tired of the sacred altar of diversity. Diversity at all costs. Diversity as an absolute good. Diversity as atonement even, for the sins of the greedy first world. Diversity as the entitled, spoiled, love child of the marxist liberation movement Ernesto Guevara personified.

Surely, President Obama feels every epic footstep of his sacred yet secular journey, in all it’s hard-fought bittersweetness. So with his worldly wisdom – he’s one of them as he said in Egypt, and he’s just a Hawaiian/mid-western kid who settled in Chicago – the president understands how to place this act of violent terror into perspective. We come together, we embrace, we fight climate change; and bit by bit the crazed murderers in Syria, North Africa, Europe, America, and elsewhere, unstrap their explosive-laden belts and begin to work for ngo’s. No more bodies in Belgium. Or France. Or California. Magically, mystically, yet with that grounded common sense with which Obama graces each of his projects.

So don’t expect Che Guevara and the sacred altar of diversity to be deconstructed in the places it was built – North American university campuses in places like Berkley and Chicago – but rather in old Europe. Where they are getting sick and tired of offering refuge to be repaid with violent hatred. The electorate that is. We’ll see how their leaders deal with what is a war in their cities, in their suburbs, and on their borders. And we’ll have to see who the next president on this side of the Atlantic is, to see how America deals with this war.

Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority … Lord Acton’s pessimistic view on the nature of rulers seems to suggest that you have to be corrupt before you even gain the absolute power that proceeds to absolutely corrupt you. That of course is his most famous quote, and it immediately precedes the above sentence, in Lord Acton’s famous letter.

What a shock. Ruthless, ambitious people are … ruthless and ambitious. Even by nature before the spoils of power push aside any inner charity they might have had. So, in 2016, it appears that a majority of Americans like neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump. And a majority of Americans know both Clinton and Trump as well as any public figure. Unprecedented situation screams the NY Times: voters dislike their candidates!

There is a further implication to Acton’s quote, as pointed out recently by Jonah Goldberg. Absolute power also corrupts those who are subject to such power. Think of the atrocities North Koreans do to each other in order to gain the favor, or avoid the horrifying wrath, of its crazed leadership.

And in America, think of how nasty voters are to each other – depending on who you are voting for.

So what? Because in America there are checks and balances. And voters have a pretty clear-eyed – yes you can say cynical – view of their choice of candidate; in the case of the two leaders. They want a job done, and don’t let their views on the honesty of either candidate get in the way.

Is this the breakdown of democracy as we know it? That seems a little exaggerated. But when you are an elite who sees its behind-the-scenes grip on power loosening, then you cry Armageddon to any mainstream or not-so-mainstream media outlet you can get to answer your calls. In the GOP’s case, that is.

Because there is no establishment as secure as the Democrat establishment, who know perfectly well that Hillary will be their nominee. And who await with delight the possibility of a bloody convention battle in Cleveland that will leave the Republican Party divided and weakened, and more likely to lose the general election. Regardless of who wins the GOP nomination.

How can any learned conservative intellectual honestly believe that Trump will lead America wildly astray? If the down-ballot effect plays out – or even if it doesn’t – Congress and the Courts will keep Trump in check. And Trump may be more than willing to soften his views and do some down-and-dirty-here’s-what-I’ll-give-ya legislation with Congress. Remember aging liberal Jimmy Carter fears Cruz way more than Trump.

Trump – should he be able to beat Hillary – will get the political education of his life. Not even his hair color will resist. It will turn white within a year or two. It’s called realizing what the job really entails.

So as the GOP – with convention plotters being justified by Ross Douthat – thinks of how they can deny Trump; maybe just a little less armageddon? America is far greater than the two leading candidates, and the voters understand that.

Republicans are hierarchical, respectful of authority, and fall in line. This according to Ed Rogers – of Bush 41’s team – in an already-notorious dinner-interview with several honest-to-goodness GOP establishment types on Showtime’s The Circus. So, they fall in line behind Jeb, then behind Marco, and now behind … Ted? Or does Kasich receive the empty establishment lane.


Try albatross: the great establishment albatross. Seen in the Hamptons, on Sea Island, and hovering over the Potomac. A big and stately bird that has been worried about it’s nest as of late. Having worn down Jeb Bush to the point where he angrily stated he had better things to do, and then having turned to Rubio, who was unable to turn his accomplished rhetoric into serious votes and has now bowed out; where will the albatross go?

In his concession speech, Rubio soared and healed and united an angry, wounded America. It really was inspiring. It’s just he can’t even win his home state. And the tidy little list of GOP virtues outlined by Ed Rogers implies the most important one of all for the men seated around that well-laid D.C. dinner table: we wait our turn. A rule Marco has defiantly ignored. And it might have worked. In some other year. But in some other year, Marco might have been attacked and elbowed out of the campaign by the establishment.

So as Marco Rubio laid out how he understands the frustrations of Trump supporters – something he might have done more forcefully earlier on – he also stated that the establishment had to change. It was not quite throw the bums out. But I’m sure there was more than a little anger on Rubio’s part fueling his words on Tuesday night. He has borne more than his share of slings and arrows; many funded by … them. The e-guys.

Ok. Now what? There’s increasing talk of a Crubio ticket. But given that Kasich appears to have Ohio in his less-than-bulging bag, imagine this. A Kasich Rubio ticket. How?? Kasich tries to grab delegates in more North Easterly primaries. And Cruz goes for Western states. And they stall Trump enough to go to a contested convention; where those e-guys do an end run around the majority of GOP voters in Cleveland and in the latter rounds Kasich – as Dixville Notch predicted – steals the nomination.

Hell hath no fury. So Kasich enlists Rubio as his VP to assuage the flames of rebellion. And they get trounced at the polls in November.

That’s why those e-guys should consider just easing over to the side a touch, and letting Cruz try and take the nomination. Unless Trump continues to make all that irrelevant by appealing – whatever one thinks of how he does it – to enough angry voters. Every time it seems that an outcome is finally becoming clear in the GOP race, the deep divisions in the party means someone keeps pushing back from the other side. So a contested convention is becoming a little more likely every day. Whether that helps any of the remaining candidates, or not.

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