Ben Carson 2016

Absurdly Unsurprising

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 3 February 2016. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Gary Cameron)

The lede is the sort of thing that brings that mix of suprise and recognition that there really is nothing surprising about it. Jonathan Easley of The Hill explains that, “Allies of Ben Carson will launch a super-PAC later this month with the aim of turning out evangelical voters for Donald Trump and down-ballot Republicans”, and should the portmanteaux be gruckle or choan, because, to the one, of course they will, and, to the other, why not.

More particularly, what is afoot is that Bill Millis, a Carson fundraiser, is helping put together “an ambitious network of nonprofit advocacy groups” intended to help the Republican nominee apparent work the evangelical crowd.

This is an important point:

The groups have obtained the rights to a database and email list started by televangelist and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell, and later maintained by Carl Townsend, who founded the influential Christian ministries group InService USA.

“It’s the largest existing database in the world that can send messages to churches, pastors, evangelicals, and Christians of all kinds,” said Sam Casey, a conservative lawyer who is acting as general counsel to the groups.

Indeed, it is nearly a scary prospect, especially recalling the Reagan awakening of 1980. The question this time is just how desperate is the evangelical identity politic. It seems nearly a trembling anticipation to hear the first preacher tell us Donald Trump is a changed man finding his way to Christ.

Laughing will be appropriate, come the day. Calling bullshit will be requisite. And while we might caution one ought to at least attempt some semblance of politeness about calling bullshit, there will be days when such a feat is impossible. Priority will out.

____________________

Image note: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 3 February 2016. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Easley, Jonathan. “Carson allies to target evangelicals with pro-Trump super-PAC”. The Hill. 4 June 2016.

Advertisements

The Chris Christie Show (Epilogue)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), at left, joins Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump during a press event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016.  Christie, who suspended his own presidential campaign in February, has been widely ridiculed for endorsing Trump.

“Christie perhaps fancied himself as Trump’s VP or attorney general. If he did, he was not thinking clearly. To begin with, it is less and less likely with each passing day that Trump will ever become president. Moreover, Christie himself has so soiled his reputation that it is doubtful he would ever be confirmed for a Cabinet post.”

Jennifer Rubin

It is true, of course, Jennifer Rubin is one I pick on. It is also true the right-wing blogger, perhaps for the sake of having a Washington Post credential, sometimes turns up on the editorial page of a local newspaper here or there, and this aspect of reality can actually be problematic. On other days, something about easy entertainment goes here. Or something like that. To wit, Tacoma readers got this bit of analysis on Tuesday:

Since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump, he has been:

• Humiliated by video showing Trump ordering him onto the plane and telling him to “go home.”

• Condemned by his former finance co-chair Meg Whitman. (“The governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.”)

• Excoriated for his disastrous TV interview on Sunday. Phrases like “train wreck,” “off the rails” and “disaster” were used to describe his appearance.

Rubin is at her best when addressing conservatives about Republican politics, which in turn sounds reasonable enough; her purpose in posing as some manner of journalist is to help Republicans get elected, and her invocation of a fairly obvious title, “Chris Christie is now ruined”, is the sort of thing we might quibble with only to wonder at the word “now”.

(more…)

The Donald Trump Show (Denial)

Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, 19 January 2016. (Detail of undated photo by Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis.)

A note from last month:

Last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump caused a minor stir by retweeting someone with the Twitter handle @whitegenocideTM, which some saw as making explicit the connection between Trump and American white supremacists. But that’s just one data point, right? A one-off thing that could have been an intern’s mistake? Unfortunately, no: the data shows that 62 percent of the accounts Trump has retweeted recently have white-supremacist connections.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, of social-media analytics company Little Bird, took a look at the 21 people the Donald has blessed with his fantastic, luxurious retweets this week, and discovered that six of them follow major white-nationalist accounts, and 13 of them follow multiple accounts that have used the #whitegenocide hashtag.

Conclusion? “It turns out that Donald Trump mostly retweets white supremacists saying nice things about him.”

(Hathaway)

This is not surprising.

Unfortunately, that point comes with something of a sickening explanation.

(more…)

The Ben Carson Show (Still Going)

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a campaign event at the Noah's Event Venue, Saturday, 30 January 2016, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

“There is something fundamentally odd about Carson’s assertion that Obama was raised white, because it contains within it the insinuation that there is only one way to be black or experience blackness. There is only one way to be raised black.”

Janell Ross

Something about themes goes here, but that has to do with something else. Meanwhile, yes, Dr. Ben Carson is still going through at least some of the motions of running for president. That is to say, he has not yet actually suspended his campaign.

Maybe something about a whine cellar goes here. Oh, come on; you know there’s a … not a pun, but, you know, one of those Wheel of Fortune puzzle solutions; three words, two compound words, that sort of thing? Anybody?

Hello?

Oh, right. Steve Benen reflects on dullness:

I can appreciate why Carson’s odd beliefs don’t warrant much scrutiny anymore. He’s technically still a candidate, but after last-place finishes in South Carolina and Nevada, there is no credible scenario in which the retired neurosurgeon wins the GOP nomination. It’s not a question of whether his campaign will end in failure, but rather, when.

That said, Carson’s “raised white” nonsense deserves a rebuke independent of the status of his candidacy ....

.... For what it’s worth, Carson appeared on CNN late in the day, saying in reference to the president, “I wasn’t criticizing him. Excuse me, but that’s you guys in the news media who are trying to make it into a fight. I’m just stating the obvious facts.”

“Obvious facts” such as the notion that Obama was “raised white”? Please.

(more…)

My Superstition (Anti-Prophet)

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin poses with a snow truck Saturday, 23 January 2016; the Republican governor posted the image to social media in order to show Bluegrass State residents how hard he was working on the snowstorm shortly before flying to New Hampshire for a campaign event. Detail of self-portrait by Matt Bevin.

This is a personal superstition:

Aside from the obvious, it’s worth noting that when governors go to New Hampshire to headline fundraisers, it often means they’re thinking about raising their visibility ahead of a national campaign. Bevin’s entire career in public office has only lasted a couple of months; is he already eyeing some kind of promotion?

Every once in a while a paragraph like this comes up, or some similar circumstance. One reads or hears something, and, you know, just … oh, come on.

And while it is easy enough to knock Steve Benen for sounding histrionic partisan alarms early, the truth of the matter is that I also scoffed, nearly three years ago, at the proposition of Ben Carson running for president.

(more…)

A Tumble Down the Clown Hole

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“It seems that with the arrival of a bullshit artist like Trump, bullshit has wholly conquered the Republican party. Which is not to say that that Republicans haven’t been duplicitous for a long time, which they have. But this dishonesty has become more and more blatant, as if they’ve come to realize that their base is either too ignorant to realize or too angry to care.”

Conor Lynch

The only thing that feels weird about that quote is the nagging feeling that it really isn’t a bunch of words wasted repeating the obvious. Because it’s like a bartender metaphor: Sounds like everybody’s problem, buddy. Except if it really was everybody’s problem, why would nobody be doing anything about it? If we run ’round the cycle enough times, the whole thing about civilization and suicide pacts starts to assert itself without actually saying anything.

But if for a moment it seems Conor Lynch is telling us something we already know, the next question is why it still plays in Peoria. Proverbially. Or, you know, maybe even literally. Because clearly this isn’t common knowledge, yet. Or else, perhaps it is, but it’s just not everybody’s problem.

Seriously, there will come a point at which we must entertain the proposition that the jaw-dropping insanity, at least, is what people want. But even that would spill over with a manner of cognitive dissonance. Chaos is as chaos does, but chaos also reflects its constraints. There is a reason this insanity and chaos plays, and that really should be a problem.

____________________

Image note: Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lynch, Conor. “Rise of the GOP bullsh***ers: How the electoral process has been overwhelmed by lies & untruths”. Salon. 14 December 2015.

The Reluctant President (Weather Balloon)

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R-01) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, 6 March 2014.  (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

We might plead that it is almost impossible to stay in front of the tale of the RNC preparing for a brokered convention. Still, though, last week’s Washington Post report and the growing hardline backlash that has fading right-wing star Dr. Ben Carson declaring he would quit the GOP if the Committee organized a floor fight have brought us one of those basic moments, an optic for which the metric is obvious: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan warding off speculation that he will be nominated to run for president.

With GOP presidential hopefuls set to square off in Las Vegas, Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday quashed speculation from House colleagues and the media that he could be drafted as the party’s nominee in the event of a deadlocked convention next summer.

“That is ridiculous talk. That’s is just dumb speculation,” the Wisconsin Republican said at a Politico breakfast. “I’m doing this job.

“You guys should just stop all that speculation.”

Several House Republicans told The Hill last week they see a scenario in which Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, could end up winning the nomination if no candidate wraps up a majority of delegates by the time the convention rolls around next July.

(Wong)

This is one of those occasions when you can see the script coming, but shake it off because, you know, come on, just how cynical can we be, right?

Thus, when the Reluctant Speaker who would become the Reluctant Nominee and thus the Reluctant President finds himself pointing out that the question is based on straw fantasies grasped by desperate Party hands, it is not so much that we ought to believe him, but also the fact that the basic proposition itself is so extraordinary even in terms of an extraordinary cycle. Extra-extraordinary. Extraordinary squared.

Something about Carcharodon goes here.

This is your Republican Party.

____________________

Image note: Congressman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, 6 March 2014. Detail of photo by Gage Skidmore.

Costa, Robert and Tom Hamburger. “GOP preparing for contested convention”. The Washington Post. 10 December 2015.

Easley, Jonathan. “Conservative backlash grows against brokered convention”. The Hill. 11 December 2015.

McCaskill, Nolan D. and Kyle Cheney. “Ben Carson blasts RNC, threatens to leave Republican Party”. Politico. 11 December 2015.

Wong, Scott. “Ryan quashes talk that he’ll be GOP nominee”. The Hill. 15 December 2015.

The Ben Carson Show (Setting Star)

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson arrives to speak at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington, 3 December 2015. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP)

Start with the idea of a “Thing ‘Everybody’ Does”, but what it really refers to is a bit more particular and circumstantial, such as a thing every [fill in the blank] does; to further refine that we might invoke notions of sociopolitical empowerment in order to explain that the blank should be filled by some context of something every [not of the group] does when addressing the group.

For instance, the notion of something every white person does when talking to a black people; or something every man does when talking to women. It is a different actual something depending on the people, relationships, and circumstances, but the underlying device is the same.

To cross boundaries and show solidarity by insulting people in an inherently patronizing manner.

Donald Trump comes to mind, for instance.

Or the setting star of Dr. Ben Carson.

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum yesterday and raised a few eyebrows with his bizarre delivery, effectively reading a history of Israel for reasons no one could explain. He also kept pronouncing “Hamas” as “hummus,” making it seem as if Carson had very serious concerns about the influence of ground chickpeas in the Middle East.

But for my money, the really notable part about Carson’s strange appearance was his thoughts on, of all things, the $1 bill. ABC News reported:

Arrangement of stars on a United States one dollar bill often cited as evidence of a conspiracy theory regarding Freemasons.Addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition today, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson told a story about how the Star of David came to be on the U.S. dollar bill.

Only one problem: There’s no Star of David on the dollar bill.

Apparently, Carson believes that if you look at the back of a dollar bill―on the right, just above the eagle―you’ll see stars in a shape resembling the Star of David. The presidential hopeful told his audience yesterday about a wealthy Jewish merchant, Haym Salomon, who is believed to have helped finance George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War.

“Salomon gave all his funds to save the U.S. Army and, some say, no one knows for sure, that’s the reason there’s a Star of David on the back of the one dollar bill,” the retired neurosurgeon argued.

(Benen)

We might add that this bit about the Star of David on the dollar bill works its way into Masonic conspiracy theories, and pretty much rely on a presumed stereotype of evil, manipulative Jews.

You know, the whole “Freemasons run the country!” thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Ben Carson Show.

____________________

Image note: Top ― Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson arrives to speak at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington, 3 December 2015. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP) Right ― Arrangement of stars on a United States one dollar bill often cited as evidence of a conspiracy theory regarding Freemasons.

Benen, Steve. “Ben Carson adds the $1 bill to his list of off-the-wall theories”. msnbc. 4 December 2015.

Clowntastic

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“The truth is that Republicans are at a crossroads. What we are seeing is a surrogate battle to determine whether the GOP will be a sort of populist/protectionist party, or a more cosmopolitan and compassionate one. And if those are the two world views that will eventually clash, Cruz and Rubio are much better representatives than, say, Trump and Bush.”

Matt Lewis

Conservative stalwart Matt Lewis offers an intriguing commentary considering the real potential of a marquee showdown between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The junior U.S. Senators from Florida and Texas respectively enjoy competitive positions in the polls, and thus stand out as leading candidates to ascend as Dr. Ben Carson tumbles and pretty much everyone else wonders when Trump will follow. The Roll Call op-ed opens:

“The two people to watch are Cruz and Rubio,” Charles Krauthammer declared on Tuesday’s episode of Fox News’ “Special Report.” Call it wishful thinking or conventional wisdom (or both), but there is an assumption that this clash of titans might eventually occur—and I, for one, am rooting for it.

And we can skip ahead to the ending, a pretense of obvious afterthought―that both Cruz and Rubio can win the general against Hillary Clinton―long enough to remember that Lewis is, after all, a conservative pitch man. Cruz can’t win; Rubio has a chance if he can overcome the deer and headlight air of youthful inexperienceα he often demonstrates so aptly when rattling through talking points that thoroughly defy his comprehension. That is to say, we can attend the pretense of afterthought long enough to dismiss it.

Nonetheless, Mr. Lewis offers an insightful analysis that includes the benefit of also sounding reasonable:

Most people I know think a Trump candidacy would be disastrous, but there is division regarding just how freaked out we should be. Some, like statistician Nate Silver, argue that we are putting too much stock in these early polls showing Trump ahead for a variety of reasons, including the fact that “the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven’t made up their minds yet.”

Others argue that this is fantasy. All the previous predictions about a Trump collapse were premature, and besides, he’s a paradigm-shifting candidate; the old rules no longer apply.

Having said all that, it’s not absurd to believe that voters will finally come to their senses, and that Cruz and Rubio might eventually emerge as representatives of their various “lanes” to face off in a sort of championship battle to determine who will represent the GOP in the general election.

(more…)

The Ben Carson Show (Falter)

Host Chris Wallace, left, and guest Rush Limbaugh talk on 'FOX News Sunday', 22 November 2015.

It is well enough to note how strange it is we might find some object of utility at the intersection of Rush Limbaugh and World Net Daily, but Joe Kovacs reports on what could be a milestone in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination contest:

Front-running GOP candidate Dr. Ben Carson is “probably not” equipped right now to be president, according to talk-radio star Rush Limbaugh, but the top-rated host in America says he’d “absolutely” vote for the former neurosurgeon over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

There will come a point at which Republican voters driving Mr. Carson’s standing in the polls must necessarily confess to themselves what pretty much everyone else knows. And there really isn’t any way of sugarcoating it:

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Limbaugh was asked by host Chris Wallace to comment on some of the major players in this election cycle’s hunt for the White House.

World Net DailyWhen Carson’s name was mentioned, Limbaugh said Carson is “one of the most decent human beings in this country. He’s one of the finest men. I’ve met him. The things he has done, the places he’s come from … and I cringe when I see that they (the media) are trying to destroy him.”

Wallace asked Limbaugh if Carson is “equipped to be president.”

“Probably not at this stage,” said Limbaugh, “but any of these Republicans running would be better than Hillary or better than anything we’ve got now. So, based on that comparison, yes. I would vote for him if it was up to him and Hillary. Absolutely! Without a doubt.”

The idea that Republicans hate Hillary Clinton so much they would see the nation wrecked before supporting her is hardly new. Still, though, at a strange nexus of FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, and World Net Daily, the fact of Dr. Carson’s incompetence unquestionably rises toward prominence.

Only time will tell what such a notion does to Dr. Carson’s standing; perhaps his core support doesn’t care, and it’s simply the conservative remainder who hear or read Limbaugh’s words and nod at the feeling that it sounds about right.

____________________

Image note: Host Chris Wallace, left, and guest Rush Limbaugh talk on FOX News Sunday, 22 November 2015.

Kovacs, Joe. “Limbaugh: Ben Carson not equipped to be president”. World Net Daily. 22 November 2015.