The Republican party in one sentence

Chait has an interesting post on why liberals shouldn’t actually fear a Trump presidency so much.  He has a nice analogy with Trump as Schwarzenegger, who ended up being a pretty moderate governor who worked with Democrats.  I think he makes some good points, but I’m still with Ezra on this one.   That said, mostly I just wanted to share Chait’s one sentence summary of the modern Republican party:

The GOP is a machine that harnesses ethno-nationalistic fear — of communists, criminals, matrimonial gays, terrorists, snooty cultural elites — to win elections and then, once in office, caters to its wealthy donor base.

Over-simplified?  Of course.  Pretty spot-on?  Unfortunately, yes.

Photo of the day

In honor of my previous post, a baby bunny photo from an old Telegraph animal photos of the week.  Now, do you really want to shoot that with a Glock?

A fine arts photographer from Bangladesh has taken the most adorable photos of his baby rabbits.   Ashraful Arefin, from Dhaka, decided to document the first 30 days of these baby rabbits lives.

A fine arts photographer from Bangladesh has taken the most adorable photos of his baby rabbits. Ashraful Arefin, from Dhaka, decided to document the first 30 days of these baby rabbits lives.Picture: Rex

What happens when we put businessmen in charge of universities

In case you had not heard the details from Mount Saint Mary’s:

The president of Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland on Monday fired two faculty members without any faculty review of his action or advance notice. One was a tenured professor who had recently criticized some of the president’s policies. The other was the adviser to the student newspaper that revealed the president recently told faculty members concerned about his retention plans that they needed to change the way they view struggling students. “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads,” the president said… [emphases mine]

Monday’s firings follow the dismissal on Friday of Provost David Rehm, who also raised questions about President Simon Newman’s retention plans. (Rehm held on to his faculty position.)

Newman’s letter firing the tenured professor — Thane M. Naberhaus of the philosophy department — accused him of disloyalty…

Mount St. Mary’s is a small Roman Catholic university, with a strong emphasis on a rigorous and traditional liberal arts education.

Much of the debate follows the appointment of Newman as president last year. His prior career was not in higher education but in private equity and business. His biographysays he founded or co-founded four businesses and worked at various times for Bain & Co., JP Capital Partners and Cornerstone Management Group.

Why “drown the bunnies.”  Rankings.  That’s it.  Bill Ayers:

Talking about students as bunnies to be drowned is no way to win faculty favor either. Behind the unfortunate choice of words was an apparently concrete goal the president had established, which was to have 20-25 freshmen leave the college before Sept. 25. After that point, they would have to be reported as “dropouts” and would count in the retention data. Before that, they would disappear off the books.

Now, this is a terrible thing – admitting students and then, within the first few weeks of the semester, trying to get some of them to leave. The president and the Board, which is apparently backing him, have been roundly criticized for such a plan. What I haven’t seen, however, is anyone asking why? Why would any college want to do such a thing?

There’s the key, right in the middle of the paragraph. All of this – the unfortunate metaphor of “drowning bunnies”, the angst and drama about a student survey and various strategies for freshmen retention, the subsequent firing of a provost and two faculty members – all of it is in the service of propping up Mount St. Mary’s position on a US News list.

Okay, just maybe a faculty member who had become president would have acted like this (or like the tone-deaf president at University of Missouri), but I highly doubt it.  Firing a tenured professor for “disloyalty?”  WTF!  Certainly, there’s many skills and experiences from the business world that are useful in leading a university, but there’s many that are not.  A college is not a hedge fund.  Time to stop putting the type of people who see struggling students as drowning bunnies to be shot in charge of higher education.

Why Trump is the favorite

Nice piece from Ryan Lizza that goes point-by-point through the remaining contenders and comes to the pretty much unavoidable conclusion that Trump has to be considered a clear favorite for the Republican nomination:

New Hampshire usually acts as an accelerant to this winnowing process, instantly transforming large fields into two- or three-person races. But this time it didn’t, and New Hampshire’s failure to sweep away the also-rans dramatically increases the odds that the Republican nomination process will end with Trump as the G.O.P. nominee.

To understand why the winnowing process has stalled, you have to look at the remaining candidates and understand their incentives for staying in the race. Start with Trump, now the likeliest person to win the nomination. He has effectively unlimited funds. He has a lead in delegates. He has solid leads in national polls and in the next state with a Republican primary, South Carolina. He came in a close second in Iowa and won New Hampshire with thirty-five per cent of the vote, more than doubling his nearest competitor’s total. No Republican candidate who has won a gold and a silver in the first two states has ever lost the G.O.P. nomination. What Trump lacks is any support among the ranks of the Republican Party’s elected officials, a circumstance that seemed to matter more than most everything else in recent G.O.P. nomination fights but that he has turned into a badge of honor. He is likely to stay in the race for the long haul.

Kasich did well enough that he now stays in until at least Ohio, March 15.  As for Cruz:

He can attract a sizable base of evangelicals and very conservative Republicans in South Carolina and likely continue his streak of meeting or exceeding expectations. He is well positioned for the so-called S.E.C. primary, on March 1st, when seven Southern and border states, with large percentages of evangelicals, vote. His fund-raising has been excellent, and he has wealthy donors willing to support an array of super PACs. His weakness is the opposite of Kasich’s and was apparent in the Iowa and New Hampshire results: he will have trouble expanding outside his very conservative base and winning over mainstream conservatives. But he is a good bet to end up as the last man standing against Trump in a long primary campaign…

Jeb!, of course, still has a ton of money and actually beat Rubio in NH.  As for Rubio:

Rubio’s story is similar. His fifth-place finish was bad enough to severely damage his campaign, but not so bad that it will force him out of the race before the next contests. He has money and the endorsements from important Party leaders. He won a close third place in Iowa by appealing to anti-Trump, anti-Cruz conservatives, who are also plentiful in South Carolina. Like Bush, he seems unlikely to give up the race until he makes a stand in his home state of Florida.

So, yeah, that leaves Trump.  An appropriately cautious conclusion:

Many analysts, including me, were too quick to dismiss Trump earlier in the 2016 campaign. We might now be overestimating his strength. It’s possible that South Carolina will do the job that New Hampshire has historically performed and winnow the race to three main candidates. Maybe New Hampshire’s misfire just delayed the culling. But for now there is still no clear candidate to whom anti-Trump voters, who still represent a majority of the Republican electorate, can flock.

Yep.  All that.  Again, not at all to say Trump will be the nominee, but at this point, I do think a realistic assessment concludes that it is more likely to be him than anyone else.

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