Middle America

Your Quote of the Day (Mike and the Chicken)

Missouri General Assemblyman Mike Moon (R-157).  Detail of frame via YouTube, 2017.

“Whatever Mike Moon does with a chicken in the privacy of his home is his own business. But we will not let him use the rights of women across Missouri as some kind of political prop. His call to ban abortion is disturbing and dangerous, no matter what he does with that chicken.”

Alison Dreith

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Butchery and Botchery

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

Chauncey DeVega inquires after a point close to the heart of the #trumpswindle:

What happens when Trump and the Republican Party are done feasting on the “white working class” and their other supporters? When the bones are picked clean, to whom will they turn for a meal? People of conscience know the answer even if it terrifies them.

If a budget is a kind of moral document and a statement of priorities, Trump has shown that he is an enemy of the American people and the common good—including his most stalwart supporters. If Trump is willing to betray them, all others should quake in fear at what he plans for his enemies in the process of “making America great again.”

The question echoes: To call for Main Street over Wall Street, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? To call for empathy with the working classes, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? To drain the swamp of entrenched interests, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump?

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The Obvious Necessary Reminder

#MansMansMansMansWorld | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Billy Eichner (@billyeichner): "Trump won cause while an intelligent woman was trying to tell us about Russian ties u complained about her presentation & here we are again". [via Twitter, 14 March 2017]

Your Quote of the Day (#reorientation)

Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

“You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them?”

Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL12)

Wait … what?

Asked by The Southern Illinoisan about his decision not to hold an in-person town hall, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) described the raucous protests that have erupted at town halls across the country as “out of control.”

Fair enough. Agree or not, that’s a reasonable response.

Then Bost elaborated, spouting off something as puzzling as it was racist.

“You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them?” he reportedly asked the daily newspaper’s editorial board. “That’s not what we need. We need to have meetings with people that are productive.”

A’ight, then. Sounds about right.

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Image note: Detail of Lucifer by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1890.

D’Angelo, Chris. “GOP Congressman Compares Rowdy Town Halls To Yelling Mobs Of ‘Orientals'”. The Huffington Post. 2 March 2017.

Just Another Day in America (Rise Again)

#trumpswindle | #MakeTheConfederacyGreatAgain

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

Who: Tanda Gmiter (MLive)
What: “Police officer under investigation after flying Confederate flag at Trump protest rally”
When: 12 November 2016

Via MLive

The Traverse City police chief says the department will launch an internal investigation after a longtime officer was seen revving the engine of his pickup truck and flying a Confederate flag, as he drove past a black family participating in a rally at a city park.

Marshall Collins Jr. and his relatives were at Friday’s gathering where people were protesting Donald Trump’s election when he said the truck’s driver came by once, then sped back past where his family was standing.

“As he came back by, I kind of stood out and I held up my fist very quietly. For me, that’s a sign of solidarity and black pride. So that’s what I did,” said Collins, a father of two and an instructional services health coordinator for the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District.

He said the officer made a show of grabbing a beer and joining a small pro-Trump group in a parking area. That’s when Collins said he decided to address the issue.

―and with a tip o’the hat, or pint salute, or simply a quiet, thankful nod unto the one and only Michael Moore, who reminds that not every Like is likeable, nor every note appreciated itself appreciable. Welcome to America. This is actually how it’s always been; it’s just going to be a little more apparent for a while.

Ah! the luxury of being glib.

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Image note: Help! ― Anarchy Panty. Click for Anarchy.

Gmiter, Tanda. “Police officer under investigation after flying Confederate flag at Trump protest rally”. MLive. 12 November 2016.

Moore, Michael. “Where I live in Michigan”. Twitter. 13 November 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Somebody Stop Me)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question during the third presidential debate at University of Nevada Las Vegas, 19 October 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

“I don’t know, you tell me. You know what? Why don’t you ask Hillary if she cares that cows can’t digest corn?”

Bill Scheft

You know, it’s a lot funnier to actually attribute it to Donald Trump, but there isn’t really a good way of doing that anymore. There is, to the one, Poe’s Law; there is, to the other, Donald Trump’s easily confused legion.

But it’s the one funny line in the premature flaccidity. Nor ought we blame Mr. Scheft; flaccid is the way of the Trump, and pretty much all caricature of this emblematic strangeness extends into that range, eventually achieving its best expression as metacommentary considering Donald Trump’s seminal lack of viability.

Prematurity? Bravado? Mindbending foolishness? It isn’t so much superstition this time; rather, the fact that Donald Trump is the GOP nominee at all tells us there is enough wrong in the world that vigilance serves us best.

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Image note: Detail of photo by John Locher/AP Photo.

Scheft, Bill. “Donald Trump’s exit interview: ‘I just found out what the job paid. $400,000. You’re kidding, right?'”

Mike Pence’s Indiana (Register Objections)

Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 27 February 2015. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

This is worth paying attention to:

On Sunday when Pence appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” host John Dickerson asked him about Trump’s claims that the election is “absolutely rigged” and his calls for supporters to closely monitor polling places for voter fraud. “I don’t think any American should ever attempt to make any other American nervous” when voting, Pence responded.

Dickerson did not question Pence, however, about why Indiana State Police recently seized 45,000 voter-registration applications, most of them from black voters. So while viewers may have given Pence credit for seeming relatively reasonable compared with his running mate, alleged voter suppression in his own backyard went largely unnoticed amid the hoopla over Trump’s hysterical claims.

Indiana State Police last week raided the largest voter registration agency in the state because of just 10 confirmed cases amid 45,000 submitted voter-registration forms containing so-called fraudulent information.

Indiana’s Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a key sponsor of her state’s 2005 voter ID law (upheld by the Supreme Court), in September announced an investigation of the Indiana Voter Registration Project. On Oct. 4, state police detectives served a search warrant on the project’s Indianapolis office. The results of the search have not been released, and the affidavit and search warrant will remain sealed for 30 days, according to the Indy Star.

(Tesfaye)

The Star article from Justin L. Mack and Holly V. Mays reports of a “voter fraud case that spans nine counties”, and that the “growing number of involved counties leads investigators to believe that the number of fraudulent records might be in the hundreds”.

The real number is apparently ten, at this point. We’ll have to see what comes. Tesfaye notes:

In a Saturday statement, Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd called the voter-suppression allegations “beyond absurd.” Lloyd said, “The Indiana State Police has uncovered strong evidence of voter fraud by Patriot Majority USA.” He added, “Among Governor Pence’s top priorities is ensuring the integrity of the election and that every single Hoosier vote counts. He has full confidence in the Indiana State Police investigation to achieve this goal.”

This is important: If the idea of suppression is “beyond absurd”, then there had better be something significant going on with this group. After all, as the Star reports―

The search warrant was served Tuesday morning, police said. The results of the search are not being released, and the affidavit and search warrant will remain sealed for 30 days.

“An investigation of this nature is complex, time consuming and is expected to continue for several more weeks or months,” said a State Police statement. “Victims of the activities by some agents of the Indiana Voter Registration Project may not discover they have been disenfranchised from voting until they go to vote and realize their voting information has been altered. Such action may result in the citizen having to cast a provisional ballot.”

―mass disenfranchisement is unquestionably in play; Indiana law enforcement has acknoweldged that it is.

This is an important story.

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Image note: Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 27 February 2015. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Mack, Justin L. and Holly V. Hays. “State Police raid Indy office in growing voter fraud case”. Indy Star. 6 October 2016.

Tesfaye, Sophia. “While Donald Trump talks of a ‘rigged election,’ Mike Pence may suppress the votes of nearly 50,000 African-Americans “. Salon. 17 October 2016.

A Note re: Kaine vs. Pence

22 FEBRUARY 2015: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appears on 'FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace'. Guest host John Roberts interviewed Mr. Pence regarding various issues, including his status as a 2016 'dark horse' for the GOP presidential nomination, and the Hoosier State's 'religious freedom' bill empowering discrimination, which Pence signed into law in late March. (Image credit: FOX News)

This is important:

In one important area, Pence has the advantage of being perceived as a mainstream pol. Politico published a piece yesterday that characterized tonight’s vice presidential debate as “Battle of the Normals,” and a “sane moment” in a campaign cycle that’s often seemed insane.

On a certain level, I can appreciate where analysis like this is coming from. As a matter of tone and temperament, Mike Pence is hardly scary: the governor is a mild-mannered, soft-spoken Midwesterner. Unlike the man at the top of the GOP ticket, no one would ever expect Pence to start tweeting at 3 a.m. about his disgust for a beauty-pageant contestant and encourage Americans to seek out a “sex tape.”

But to shift one’s focus from tone to policy is to see one of the most extremist politicians to seek national office in over a generation.

Steve Benen is not wrong. This has been a factor worth considering in recent years, and even more so this cycle. What counts as centrist or mainstream is, in American politics, a roving range. The msnbc blogger and producer continues:

About four years ago, Nate Silver published an interesting analysis of Paul Ryan, who’d just been named to Mitt Romney’s ticket. Nate wrote at the time, “Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900.”

Nate added a chart, highlighting the fact that Ryan’s record put him slightly to the right of Dick Cheney, who was slightly to the right of Dan Quayle.

There are curious circumstances, now and again, in which the GOP hardliners leave me standing shoulder to shoulder with Republicans I generally wouldn’t get along with. George W. Bush on China, and suddenly I’m commiserating with Pat Buchanan? What was it, Jade Helm? How do Rick Perry and I land on the same side? I can tell you, though, that when Lindsey Graham is bagging points off John Kasich being described as a “moderate”, well, at least we have that much in common.

It happens.

We revisit the question for Mike Pence. Benen notes the Indiana governor also has a record in Congress:

In the 107th Congress (Pence’s first, covering 2001 and 2002), for example, out of 435 members of the U.S. House, Pence ranked #428―meaning that 427 members were to his left, putting the Hoosier on the far-right-wing fringe. The results were roughly the same in the 108th Congress and the 109th.

By the 110th Congress, Pence was at #432, putting him to the right of nearly everyone in the chamber. The results were roughly the same in the 111th Congress and the 112th.

Let’s put this another way: during his congressional career, Pence wasn’t just more conservative than Paul Ryan. His voting record also put him to the right of Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, Steve King, and even Louie Gohmert. That’s not an exaggeration. Bachmann, Akin, King, and Gohmert all had voting records less extreme than Mike Pence.

The problem is the gap between perceptions of Mike Pence and his actual record. To use Politico’s phrasing, the Hoosier is seen as “normal” and “conventional.” But on a substantive level, we’re talking about a politician whose claim to fame is an anti-LGBT law that did real harm to his state. Pence is a climate denier. He rejects the idea that cigarettes are deadly. He doesn’t believe in evolutionary biology, but he does support “conversion therapy.”

There was an embarrassing episode having to do with alleged Iraqi WMDs; something about privatizing Social Security not being conservative enough; something about government shutdowns; oh, right, and some manner of conspiracy theory about Disney film and women in the military.

Unfortunately, that last isn’t a joke.

This is the problem: If Gov. Mike Pence is “normal”, then we might pause to consider how we define normalcy.

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Image note: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appears on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace, 22 February 2015. Guest host John Roberts interviewed Mr. Pence regarding various issues, including his status as a 2016 GOP dark horse and the Hoosier State’s infamous “religious freedom” bill intended to empower discrimination. (Image credit: FOX News)

Benen, Steve. “Mike Pence saw secret propaganda in Disney film”. 18 July 2016.

—————. “Pence becomes the most far-right running mate in modern history”. msnbc. 15 July 2016.

—————. “To see Mike Pence as ‘normal’ is to grade on a generous curve”. msnbc. 4 October 2016.

Kaczynski, Andrew. “Mike Pence Argued In Op-Ed That Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Was Liberal Propaganda”. BuzzFeed. 17 July 2016.

Salter, Lamar. “‘My party has gone bats— crazy’: Lindsey Graham jokes about killing Ted Cruz and bashes the remaining GOP candidates”. Business Insider. 26 February 2016.

Silver, Nate. “A Risky Rationale Behind Romney’s Choice of Ryan”. FiveThirtyEight. 11 August 2012.

The Similarity ‘Twixt Sinister and Stupid (McCrory Molestation Mix)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory addresses the Wake County Republican Part6y 2016 Convention at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, 8 March 2016. (Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

“One could write off Pence’s surprise at the RFRA-inspired boycott of his state as the natural result of a person who lives in a right-wing bubble. After all, even though he must have known about Indiana’s struggles, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory seemed similarly shocked by the national outcry over the infamous anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’ he signed into law earlier this year. A religious conservative like Pence, even one who worked in D.C. for better than a decade, could easily have been trapped in a bubble of epistemic closure.”

Gary Legum

It seems a place to start. Gary Legum’s analysis of why Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would be a poor pick to run alongside Donald Trump certainly had its merits, though in truth we can speculate with reasonable confidence that selecting the Hoosier dullard will not, ultimately, be what sinks Republican presidential hopes. To the other, Gov. McCrory’s infamy has taken an even more compelling turn of late; Steve Benen offers three of the most uncomfortable paragraphs you might read this season:

The point is not to diminish the pain of the woman featured in the ad, who was the victim of a horrible crime. Rather, the point is the disconnect between what happened to Gina Little and the purpose of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law.

Let’s not forget how we reached this point: city officials in Charlotte approved a broad anti-discrimination measure, which included protections for transgender North Carolinians, allowing people to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The Republican governor and state legislature took action soon after, undoing what Charlotte had done.

Five months later, McCrory’s re-election campaign is defending the policy by pointing to a woman who was molested as a child in her home by members of her own family.

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Murder Less Foul

A Gadsden flag flies at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, on Jan. 10, 2016. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

“The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.”

Paul H. Jossey

Campaign finance attorney Paul H. Jossey confesses to a murder of sorts―

Greedy super PACs drained the movement with endless pleas for money to support “conservative” candidates—while instead using the money to enrich themselves. I should know. I worked for one of them.

―and while the Politico article from the lawyer who made a living fleecing tricornered tinfoils is a laborious but insightful read, the one thing nobody gets to do is pretend surprise.

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Image note: Infamy ― A Gadsden flag flies at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, on Jan. 10, 2016. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Jossey, Paul H. “How We Killed the Tea Party”. Politico. 14 August 2016.