Ben Carson

What They Voted For: Why Government Doesn’t Work

#earthquakes | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks to employees in Washington, D.C., 21 February 2017. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

There is that part within that wonders―really, truly, genuinely in all good faith, wonders―who in these United States really thinks they can do that speech in which the audience is supposed to pretend they have no effing clue? Or, to check in with Rebecca Leber of Mother Jones:

If Pruitt’s address was meant to soothe staffers’ concerns about their incoming administrator, they may have come up short.

“Pruitt’s talk [was] as bad as expected,” said a current career EPA staffer of over 20 years, who requested anonymity, following the speech. “Not one word about public health. And talking about the rule of law as if we didn’t do EVERYTHING with the realization that it WILL end up in court. It was condescending and hypocritical.”

Some former EPA officials shared that view. “Trump’s team spent the entire campaign and the last few months railing against EPA’s existence, its staff, and its purpose,” Liz Purchia, an Obama-era communications staffer at the agency, said in an email. “Accomplishing agency priorities was no easy task when the administrator had staff’s back and politicals and careers agreed the majority of the time, so let’s see how well Trump’s EPA does getting staff to follow them when they feel disrespected. These are professionals with years of experience, who have been made to feel like their leader doesn’t trust their judgment. The American people are relying on them to defend the agency, protect its environmental statutes and stand up to Trump’s team to ensure they uphold science and the law.”

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The Deplorable Basket (Scary Mexican Mix)

Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, explains to 'All In' host Joy Reid what is wrong with Latinos: "My culture is a very dominant culture. And it's imposing, and it's causing problems. If you don't do something about it, you're going to have taco trucks every corner." (via msnbc, 1 September 2016)

“For what it’s worth, I have no idea why that’s supposed to sound scary.”

Steve Benen

It is, of course, easy enough to wonder why more taco trucks would be a bad thing; it is also easy enough to remember that Marco Gutierrez of Latinos for Trump supports a Republican, and heaven knows the one thing Republicans can’t tolerate is the prospect of safe taco trucks. Perhaps Mr. Gutierrez thinks Mexicans are really into deregulation, or something.

JOY REID: Marco, you know, I’ve heard this Trump moment described as a “Barry Goldwater moment”, which is of course the tipping point when African-Americans became so identified with the Democratic Party that it essentially became almost impossible for Republicans to win more than ten percent of them. I’ve heard it described as a “Prop 187 moment”, when the California law that went after undocumented migrants there really harmed the Republican Party―it’s never recovered. Are you not at all concerned that Donald Trump is so alienating people with his tone last night, that yelling into the prompter speech, and just the tone toward undocumented migrants, toward immigrants in this c‎ountry, that you are now facing a Barry Goldwater moment for your Party?

MARCO GUTIERREZ: Yes, but, you know, Donald Trump’s a genius of delivering the message, and yes, it was a tough message to deliver, but he did it in a way that has shown us that we have a problem, and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; and different times, different problems. Yes, indeed, there’s a lot of people―my colleague, here, he would not be here―but we need to understand that this is a different time and we’re having problems here.

REID: What problems? What problems are you talking about?

GUTIERREZ: My culture is a very dominant culture. And it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks every corner.​

(msnbc)

There is always at least one. There is an Alan Keyes or, more recently, Ben Carson. There is a Wendy McElroy or Janet Bloomfield. That is to say, there will always be someone who will serve the marketplace by advertising why we should be afraid of them. Or, if not them, others like them. See, we’re not supposed to be afraid of Marco Gutierrez, because he’s telling white people the truth about Mexicans, which in turn is that Mexicans are terrible people, or at the very least, “a dominant culture” that is “imposing” and “causing problems”, or something approximately like that. Marco Gutierrez found a job telling white supremacists what they want to hear about hispanics. Just like Janet Bloomfield will tell rapists what they want to hear about women. I know a guy like Mr. Gutierrez, a registered and participating Republican, a man of Mexican descent who worked hard and bootstrapped and scrimped and saved and got himself a career as an optometrist in the midwest and became a respectable person, not like that army of invading Mexicans he tells me I should be afraid of. Then again, it’s not just hispanics he hates; he also has a thing against blacks. He’s the Republican who once explained to me that Obamanoia was really just a policy discussion, and if the president wasn’t so terrible, all these wonderful, unracist, good, decent American people wouldn’t be forced to say racist-sounding things.

No, seriously, something about deplorable goes here.

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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.

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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.

A Memo to Mike Huckabee (Civic Leadership)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

MEMORANDUM

To: Mike Huckabee

re: Civic leadership

So … Mike―

The two-time Republican presidential also-ran lashed out Erickson, again on Fox News, accusing the conservative of attempting “to blow up the Republican Party.”

“The message that’s coming across is the voters are stupid so we’ll figure out a way to make the decision for you because we don’t trust your decision,” Huckabee complained of Erickson’s anti-Trump effort.

(Tesfaye)

―you do realize, do you not, that sometimes that’s exactly what civic leaders are expected to do?

In our own American heritage we say the Constitution is not a suicide pact. In our human endeavor, we might simply say that civilized society is not a suicide pact. Observably, the Donald Trump phenomenon disdains either expression.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.