civil war

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 Great Florida Goat Scandal

Augustus Sol Invictus declares his candidacy as a Libertarian for U.S. Senate in Florida, 18 May 2015, via YouTube

This is a paragraph most reporters never get to write:

The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida has resigned to call attention to Invictus’ candidacy in hopes that other party leaders will denounce him. Adrian Wyllie, who was the Libertarian candidate for governor last year, says Invictus wants to lead a civil war, is trying to recruit neo-Nazis to the party and brutally and sadistically dismembered a goat.

(Farrington)

Right. Er … good luck with that one.

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Image note: Augustus Sol Invictus declares his candidacy as a Libertarian for U.S. Senate in Florida, 18 May 2015, via YouTube.

Farrington, Brendan. “Goat sacrifice, talk of civil war upset Florida Libertarians”. Associated Press. 2 October 2015.

The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

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Oklahoma Rising

The crowd gathered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, hoping to glimpse President Obama as he arrived at his hotel, included protesters waving Confederate flags.  (Photo: Getty Images)

This is getting out of hand.

One way to tell the situation is out of hand is that Republican Congressmen Tom Cole (R-4) and Frank Lucas (R-3) are willing to make a stand:

Two Oklahoma Republican congressmen ripped protesters in their state who greeted President Obama in Oklahoma City by waving Confederate flags, calling their actions “disrespectful,” “embarrassing” and “inappropriate.”

“I was shocked and disappointed by those who showed up to wave Confederate flags soon after President Obama arrived in Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a senior House Republican, said in a statement to The Hill. “Their actions were not only disappointing but incredibly disrespectful, insensitive and embarrassing to the entire state.

“The unacceptable behavior displayed by these individuals certainly does not reflect the values and views of the vast majority of Oklahomans,” Cole added. “No president should ever be confronted by such behavior, especially when the purpose of the visit was meant to celebrate and recognize some of our state’s greatest achievements.”

Rep. Frank Lucas, another Oklahoma Republican who is close to leadership, said in an interview: “Free speech is an amazing thing. Unfortunately this was an inappropriate use of it.”

Obama traveled to Oklahoma to visit a federal prison, part of his push to overhaul the criminal justice system. He also rolled out a new pilot program aimed at bringing high-speed internet to low-income households.

But when he arrived at his hotel in Oklahoma City Wednesday night, about 10 protesters in the crowd greeted him by waving the Confederate flag. Before Obama’s visit, protesters gathered along an interstate highway near Durant, Oklahoma, and flew the battle flag.

It is easy enough to suggest Messrs. Cole and Lucas have every reason to “move past the flag flap”, as Scott Wong explained for The Hill. After all, the Civil War ended in 1865; Oklahoma was not a state until 1907, nor even a Territory until 1890. Which in turn leads to the strange point that the Confederate flag actually flew over the Capitol grounds in Oklahoma city for over twenty years, until a 1988 renovation of the state house. And while that might make it harder for Gov. Mary Fallin (R) to blame Texas―

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican who greeted Obama on the airport tarmac, attempted to distance the Sooner State from the flag-waving protesters. Her spokesman suggested many of them drove over the stateline from Texas.

―denouncing this particular demonstration is an easy call for Republicans, and has the added benefit of actually being the right thing to do.

Then again, blaming the protest in Oklahoma City on Texas? This is another sign that the situation is out of hand, and has the added benefit of actually being really, really funny.

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Image note: The crowd gathered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, hoping to glimpse President Obama as he arrived at his hotel, included protesters waving Confederate flags. (Photo: Getty Images)

Wong, Scott. “Republicans criticize Confederate flags at Obama visit”. The Hill.

Steve Beshear’s Headache

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear speaks during a press conference after a closed joint whip and caucus meeting on the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 5 December 2013. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

Meanwhile, in the Bluegrass State:

David V. Moore and his fiancé went to the Rowan County Clerk’s office, armed with a copy of that Supreme Court ruling, in addition to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s executive order requiring all county clerks to issue marriage licenses. In the video, employees appear to ignore the legal documents provided, continuing to refuse the couple’s request for a marriage license, while the Clerk Davis hid in the back of the office.

Writing on his Facebook wall, Moore says, “We were denied a marriage license on Monday, July 6 at the Rowan County Clerk’s office. Kim Davis is at the end of the video, but we turned it off at her request.”

The recording shows the men entering the clerk’s office and waiting patiently while other residents — including people who came in after the couple — are served. Staff at the counter refuse the men’s request and tell them that Clerk Davis is “busy right now.” Then employees called the police, insisting that the couple’s supporters stop filming the anticipated rejection.

A police officer arrives at the office toward the end of the video and speaks with employees. When Clerk Davis finally emerges from her office (around the 11 minute mark), she tells the supporter to “Put your phone away.” The two continue to bicker for a moment before the video ends.

Kentucky law does not forbid filming any interactions with public officials in a public place.

(Browning)

Oh, and you know there’s more.

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The Ted Cruz Show (Hair-on-Fire Apoplexy)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responds to the 2015 State of the Union address in an online video, 20 January 2015.

“As ridiculous as Cruz’s posturing seems, it’s important to remember the broader context: national GOP candidates have a built-in incentive to be as hysterical as possible right now, in the hopes of currying favor with the party’s base. Mild, reasoned disappointment with the court doesn’t impress far-right activists; unrestrained, hair-on-fire apoplexy does.”

Steve Benen

This is an obvious point, or, at least one might think.

Steve Benen points to his msnbc colleague Benjy Sarlin’s report Friday last detailing the 2016 GOP presidential reactions following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in favor of same sex marriage:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) went so far as to call for a constitutional convention to overturn the court’s decision while campaigning in Iowa, according to CNN. In an interview with Sean Hannity he called the back-to-back rulings on health care and gay marriage “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

While the Texas junior is hardly the only Republican presidential candidate opting to skip out on posturing his response within the realm of general dignity, Mr. Benen responded aptly:

Hannity, incidentally, found Cruz’s rhetoric quite compelling, responding, “I couldn’t say it more eloquently.”

For what it’s worth, it’s not hard to think of some genuinely tragic 24-hour periods in American history. The Lincoln assassination comes to mind. So does the time British troops burned the White House. There were days during the Civil War in which tens of thousands of Americans died on the battlefield. Just in the last century, we witnessed the JFK assassination, Pearl Harbor, and a corrupt president resign in disgrace.

For the Republican presidential hopeful, learning that Americans will have health benefits and loving couples will get married belongs on the same list.

The thing is that Mr. Cruz is not entirely wrong; the rest, as Benen points out, is a matter of perspective.

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The Jeb Bush Show (Fancy & Shame)

Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves after he spoke during the 'Road to Majority' conference June 19, 2015, in Washington, DC. Conservatives gathered at the annual event held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America. (Detail of photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It would seem we were not the only ones who noticed.

Matthew Yglesias looked into the Jeb Bush’s suggestion of four percent GDP growth:

But 4 percent is not really a round number. The US economy grew faster than 2 percent in 2014, 2013, and 2012 and is projected by most economists to grow faster than 2 percent in 2015. Economists surveyed by the Associated Press, Politico, and the New York Times all doubted that 4 percent growth was achievable.

Wednesday, speaking in Iowa, Jeb defended the 4 percent target on the grounds that “aspirational goals” are important in politics.

According to James Glassman, Bush originally selected this goal at random, backed by zero substantive analysis of any kind:

That ambitious goal was first raised as Bush and other advisers to the George W. Bush Institute discussed a distinctive economic program the organization could promote, recalled James Glassman, then the institute’s executive director.

“Even if we don’t make 4 percent it would be nice to grow at 3 or 3.5,” said Glassman, now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In that conference call, “we were looking for a niche and Jeb in that very laconic way said, ‘four percent growth.’ It was obvious to everybody that this was a very good idea.”

No, really, is there any telling that doesn’t make the story sound incredibly stupid? As Howard Schneider and Steve Holland explained for Reuters, “Asked by Reuters during a campaign-style stop in New Hampshire on Thursday how he had arrived at the figure, Bush said: ‘It’s a nice round number. It’s double the growth that we are growing at. It’s not just an aspiration. It’s doable.'”

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The Lindsey Graham Show (Liftoff)

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, 1 June 2015, in Central, South Carolina.  (Detail of frame from msnbc)

Did you ever rehearse a line and then not use it, but later found yourself wondering why not, because it was a perfectly servicible line, and that is why you were working on it in the first place?

Right.

A few weeks ago I mused to a friend over the idea that when Lindsey Graham gets to make a Civil War joke while playing the adult in the room, Republicans might want to take a moment to figure out just where they are. The map is not the territory, but why are they using that map?

But as I explained to a friend, there is no mystery that I don’t really like Sen. Graham; perhaps the best thing going for the Palmetto Republican is that he is not the worst person in the state of South Carolina. I pointed out that we all know his presidential ambitions aren’t grounded in any political reality. Still, it was enough to appreciate the moment when Lindsey Graham was the sane voice in the room, and wonder if perhaps he might have tacitly ended his presidential aspirations.

And in that I was wrong.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham officially added his name to the growing list of Republicans seeking the White House in 2016 on Monday, focusing his message on the hawkish foreign policy positions that have made him a leading voice among the Senate GOP.

“I’ve got one simple message: I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race. That includes you, Hillary,” Graham said in Central, South Carolina, his childhood home.

The three-term senator is expected to focus his candidacy on combating Islamic militants in the Middle East, stabilizing Iraq and preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He has been highly critical of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has said U.S. intervention abroad led to the rise of ISIS.

(Rafferty)

A three-term one-trick pony who can crack wise about the Civil War at Ted Cruz’s expense.

Honestly, of all the never-been won’t-be candidates in the race, I figured Mr. Graham smart enough to stay out. Am I underestimating exploratory committees, or overestimating?

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Image Note: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, 1 June 2015, in Central, South Carolina. (Detail of frame from msnbc)

Rafferty, Andrew. “Lindsey Graham launches 2016 presidential bid”. msnbc. 1 June 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Leading Republicans differ over armed ‘insurrection'”. msnbc. 17 April 2015.

A Rumor of War

Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family.

This is what it is worth:

After Janet Porter, the creator of a new “documentary” about how the gay rights movement will outlaw Christianity, discussed her “restraining order” campaign to convince Congress to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to rule on marriage cases, Dobson said that his fellow activists “need to be realistic about what we’re up against here.”

He said that the gay rights issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity” and put the country on the brink of conflict: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”

Dobson also claimed that marriage equality will lead to the collapse of the nation: “The country can be no stronger than its families. I really believe if what the Supreme Court is about to do is carried through with, and it looks like it will be, then we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two. I just am convinced of that. So we need to do everything we can to try to hold it back and to preserve the institution of marriage.”

(Tashman)

Let us be clear that there really isn’t any sort of dog-whistling going on here; James Dobson is calling for armed insurrection because he hates gay people that much.

Certes, some might try to split the hair, but “we could have another” Civil War over human rights for gay people? Really? Bigotry is that important? And, as Dobson tells the cult, the nation will collapse if the gays aren’t stopped, and “We need to do everything we can to try to hold it back and to preserve the institution of marriage.”

Which is really quite strange. Once upon a time, Dr. James Dobson was a respected author who advised Christians on how to raise their children. And it is true that his approach to raising children is not exactly healthy, but that’s the thing; he wrote in a context serving an empowerment majority, so he could spend his efforts just finding ways to tell them what they wanted to hear and crafting a pretense of professional respectability.

And when we look out at the generational cohorts, we ought not be surprised to find those sectors of our society falling behind; there is a reason these supremacists are reduced to blithering about civil war―it’s all they have left.

Then again, really? Because of gay people? Out of everything else in the world, this is what stirs American Christians to revolutionary ire?

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