Fear and Loathing in Dane County
Plus, analysis about the "red wave" and the midterms.
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BILL LUEDERS: Fear and Loathing in Dane County
Once a month, the local Republican Party of Dane County, Wisconsin gathers for an evening event called “Pints and Politics.” Tonight’s gathering is taking place on a June night at a small public park with a pavilion in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, one of several cities besides Madison in the heavily Democratic county. Some years back I was banned from the group’s events for having written an accurate public account of one of them, but all has since been forgiven, and now I am as welcome as anyone.
Tonight’s lineup of speakers features seven candidates, including state representative and gubernatorial contender Tim Ramthun, who will be speaking last. The event organizer is Rolf Lindgren, a local libertarian of my long acquaintance. We talk soon after I arrive. He calls Donald Trump “the most libertarian president we’ve had . . . ever”: He got rid of the reviled Section 215. (“Remember Michael Moore yelling about the Patriot Act?”) He didn’t start any new wars. He presided over a large drop in the number of federal prisoners. He banned the shackling of pregnant women in prison. And so on. Lindgren’s priorities speak well of him.
About 50 people mill about, and even though they were invited to bring or cook food, hardly anyone is eating—or even drinking, which is unusual in Wisconsin. Scott Grabins, the local party chair, starts things off at 6 p.m.
“We have an opportunity here,” he tells the gathering. “We have that . . . red wave coming. All you have to do is go down to the gas station.” Rim shot, please.
ERIC S. EDELMAN AND FRANKLIN C. MILLER: Biden Is Trying to Deter Putin from Using Nukes. His Staff Isn’t Helping.
Over more than a half century of national security debates, President Biden made unmistakably clear his desire to reduce both the possibility of a nuclear weapons being used and the proliferation of those weapons. Sadly—for him, for our national interest, and for the world—his national security team seems intent on undercutting him at every turn.
Longstanding U.S. nuclear deterrence policy has confronted potential aggressors’ use of nuclear weapons with the certainty of a devastating response while declining to specify exactly what form that response might take. Consistent with that tradition, in his New York Times essay on Ukraine policy, President Biden noted that “Any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict on any scale would be completely unacceptable to us as well as the rest of the world and would entail severe consequences.”
Despite that, anonymous administration officials chose subsequently to inform reporters that should Russia’s President Vladimir Putin use a nuclear weapon in the context of his aggression against Ukraine, the American response “would almost certainly be nonnuclear,” specifying it could be “a combination of sanctions, diplomatic efforts and, if a military response is needed, conventional strikes.”At first glance, that might seem like just another example of administration staff walking back the president’s comments (a pattern that has apparently annoyed Biden), but this episode has both a backstory and real-world policy consequences that are more serious than other attempts to clean up a perceived misstatement.
Even more election deniers won in Tuesday’s primaries, Mastriano is too close for comfort in PA, Trump’s ego was the only thing that stopped a coup in the DOJ, and White House staff need to let Biden be Middle Class Joe. Will Saletan’s back with Charlie Sykes.
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LAKSHYA JAIN AND KRAZ GREINETZ: How Big Is the Red Wave Going To Be?
Observers look at primary elections as a separate species from general elections. Primaries are viewed both as a signal of which direction a party is headed as well as a determining factor in the outcome of the general election. But we should also pay attention to the partisan composition of primaries, because data shows that the partisan makeup of primaries has been strongly predictive of the final popular vote for the last 15 years.
This implies two tentative conclusions. First, that votes in a primary are not just about how contested the primary is. That is, parties don’t get more votes solely because their primary has a competitive race. Instead, there is a deeper mechanism going on which speaks to voter enthusiasm. When the general election is still months away, primary voters may be expressing their underlying inclinations by voting in the relevant partisan primary, particularly in open primary states where they have freedom to choose which primary they vote in.
Second, this data is interesting because of when primaries happen. Most occur between May and July. The conventional wisdom says that independent voters only tune in and make choices around Labor Day. But the link between primary turnout and general election vote-share suggests that in fact, many voters have made up their minds by mid-summer.
Happy Wednesday! John Hinckley, Jr. is free (from court oversight.) Don’t know how I feel about that. On one hand, President Reagan (RIP) is no longer with us. And it’s not just that he was a TKE fraternity brother, but attempted assassins who pull the trigger I don’t have much sympathy for, and does society need this? Is it healing? Who knows. But whatever it is, it is a reminder that we have a mental health issue in this country, where we have pretty lax gun laws and a lot of guns, and decades earlier, we also had those problems.
“Savor the moments…” A touching tribute from Rep. Casten, whose college-aged daughter Gwen died unexpectedly in her sleep. RIP.
Silicon Valley’s horrible bosses… Dispatches from Charlie Warzel from the Elon Musk School of Management.
The worst way to have your no-hitter ruined… With the lead, top of the 9th, at home, two outs, two strikes, and a shot to center field…..And have your Gold Glove teammate make a mistake and miss the catch. It was a great outing, and Harrison Bader obviously feels bad about it, but mistakes happen. Hopefully Mikolas, a Cardinals pitcher, will get another good crack at one. Tough way to have it wrecked.
I don’t believe Rep. Loudermilk. Republicans are touting a letter from the Capitol Police they say exonerates him, apparently neither does the January 6th Committee.
Here’s the letter they sent him, because he refused to even meet with them to discuss it. Let’s just say his defense of this very bizarre tour of the basements of the House office buildings and security checkpoints is not a common use of a House member’s time. And I’ve worked on both sides of the dome and taken a few thousand people through the Capitol complex over the years, either on tours or for meetings.
It’s not normal.
Loudermilk will likely never meet with the committee. Not unexpected, but disappointing, and the GOP’s response to 1/6 is why I don’t consider myself a Republican anymore, just a conservative.
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