epistemic closure

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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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.

A Clown Car Presentation: Insurevirentaderble

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Never read too much into any one poll, but the lede from Associated Press is nonetheless troubling:

Republican voters view Donald Trump as their strongest general election candidate, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that highlights the sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.

But wait, there’s more:

Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say Trump could win in November 2016 if he is nominated, and that’s the most who say so of any candidate. By comparison, 6 in 10 say the same for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of antiestablishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest.

And then there is the reality check: “Trump and Carson are considered among the least electable general election candidates by the Republican Party’s professionals, those who are in the business of helping candidates run campaigns and win elections”, explain Steve Peoples and Emily Swanson, and in truth one need not be a political professional to figure that out. Still, though, how superstitious do we really wish to be?

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Incomplete

Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain

The headline above John A. Tures’ blog entry for Huffington Post might seem definitive: “Experienced Republicans Are Losing, Because GOP Primary Voters Are Less Experienced”. But the subsequent paragraphs do not support the statement, at least not in that context.

25 years of political experience didn’t seem to matter to GOP primary voters this year. They appear more enamored with the likes of businessmen Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson, neither of which either served a day in political office, or even ran for office prior to this year. Last week, Perry found himself with one percent of the vote in a CNN poll, well behind the front-runners Donald Trump (32 percent) and Dr. Ben Carson (21 percent).

Huffington PostIn fact, Perry had never polled as high as two percent in any GOP primary survey nationwide. He fared poorly in Iowa, according to Qunnipiac University’s polling. And he’s doing worse in New Hampshire, in the NBC News/Marist Poll.

Huffington Post politics editors Paige Lavender and Mollie Reilly cited gaffes from the 2012 Republican election primary, as well as anemic fundraising. But Perry is hardly alone. Experienced GOP candidates across the board are suffering, failing to even notch double-digits in the polls, while politically inexperienced candidates like Trump, Carson, and Carly Fiorina alone make up more than 50 percent of the polls, outnumbering the other 14 Republican candidates combined. Inexperienced candidates are getting six times as many votes and experienced candidates.

Is the party that touted the political experience of their own candidates in the past (Nixon, Goldwater, Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr., Dole, Bush Jr. and McCain) suddenly not valuing the political experience of a candidate? If so, why?

Unfortunately, that portion of the setup is a little less than half the entry. The point is not to denounce the article or author for apparent failure; rather, we might remain hopeful and continue to tune in.

You know. We hope.

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A Joke That Isn’t Funny

Inside New Orleans Planned Parenthood clinic. (Detail of photo by Bryan Tarnowski for The New York Times)

“It strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services.”

Judge John DeGravelles

And, yet, the hidden jewel is one you might overlook if you’re not careful. Molly Redden of Mother Jones tops His Honor, wondering the obvious: “They know vagina dentata is a myth, right?”

It’s a fair question, given the Louisiana proposal to do away with Planned Parenthood in the Pelican State and expect other providers to pick up the load.

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The Rick Santorum Show (Splat and Burn)

Plant workers in Cabot, Pennsylvania watch former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum declare his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.  (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

As gifts go, I’ll take a Wire show, but I really won’t complain about the Frothy Clown akwardly probing for his seat in the 2016 GOP Clown Car. Trip Gabriel drew the short straw over at the New York Times:

Rick Santorum, the runner-up in the Republican nomination race four years ago, announced his second presidential bid on Wednesday, pledging to restore a middle class “hollowed out” by government policies.

A former United States senator from rural western Pennsylvania, he appealed primarily to social conservatives four years ago. But he has donned a new mantle of economic populism, one he calls “blue-collar conservatism.”

“Working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money,” he said, criticizing Hillary Rodham Clinton and “big business” for pro-immigration policies he said had undercut American workers.

Mr. Santorum, 57, was the surprise winner of the Iowa caucuses in 2012, thanks to evangelical Christian voters, and he went on to win 10 other states, dragging out Mitt Romney’s quest for the nomination.

Still, he has struggled to catch on this time around. He is in danger of not making the 10-candidate cutoff for the first Republican debate on Aug. 6, which will be determined by standings in national polls.

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Madness for a New American Century

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015.  (AP Photo)

Trevor Timm for The Guardian:

The New York Times detailed many of the Republican candidates’ nebulous “criticisms” of the Obama administration, most of which assume a fantasy world in which Obama is not sending the US military to fight Isis at all, even though he’s authorized thousands of airstrikes per month in both Iraq and Syria. Most of the candidates, while competing with each other over who can sound more “muscular” and “tough”, are too cowardly to overtly call for what they likely actually want: another ground war in the Middle East involving tens of thousands of US troops.Project for the New American Century

The vague, bullshitt-y statements made by Republican candidates would be hilarious if it wasn’t possible that they’ll lead to more American soldiers dying in the coming years. “Restrain them, tighten the noose, and then taking them out is the strategy” is Jeb Bush’s hot take on Isis. Thanks, Jeb – I can’t believe the Obama administration hasn’t thought of that! Marco Rubio’s “solution” is even more embarrassing: according to The Times, he responded to a question about what he would do differently – and this is real – by quoting from the movie Taken: “We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you.”

Rubio has also called for “strategic overhaul”, but his radical plan seems to be virtually indistinguishable from what the Obama administration is actually doing – yet another sign that Republicans tend to live in a fantasy land where Obama is an anti-war president rather than someone who has bombed more countries than his Republican predecessor. (That is not a compliment, by the way.)

This is one of those things where we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned. Consider that Mr. Rubio’s campaign slogan is “A New American Century”.

Just think about that for a moment.

They really are promising us a war.

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Image Note: Top ― Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo) Right ― Logo of the Project for the New American Century.

Timm, Trevor. “Republicans’ ‘plans’ for Isis would drag us into Iraq for another ground war”. The Guardian. 27 May 2015.

SourceWatch. “Project for the New American Century”. 19 February 2012.

The Ted Cruz Show (Epistemic Closure Loop Mix)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the Iowa Agriculture Summit, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)

It would be wrong to start with, “One of the comforts of life …”. After all, that’s a low standard for comfort. Still, though, we can rest assured that in today’s political climate, time is on … uh … the side of … er … well, I guess reality, but that is so self-evident as to be anti-climactic.

Right.

Let us start, then, with Dave Weigel for Bloomberg:

After Texas Senator Ted Cruz addressed the First in the Nation summit in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Saturday, he headed to a basement conference room for a conversation with young Republicans. There was no filming of the speech, but reporters were allowed to sit in as Cruz fielded questions about Iran, millennials, and his own fitness for president. When one audience member asked Cruz what executive experience he could bring to the job, Cruz lambasted the “greybeards” in Washington for coming up with the “senator versus governor” framework in the first place.

“Obama is not a disaster because he was a senator,” said Cruz. “Obama is a disaster because he’s an unmitigated socialist, what he believes is profoundly dangerous, and he’s undermined the Constitution and the role of America in the world.”

Remember, this is Sen. Cruz’s response to a question about executive experience, and his answer was to reframe the issue as one of Republican moderates versus hardliners:

According to Cruz, the only reason that pundits were saying the GOP needed to run a governor, not a senator, was that “most of the establishment moderates” in the field were governors. “In 1980, the strong conservative running in the race was Ronald Reagan,” Cruz said. “You didn’t hear ‘we need a governor’ then, because he was a governor. So none of those voices said, ‘We need a governor.’ They said, ‘You know what? We need a former congressman, named George Herbert Walker Bush. Likewise, in 2008, the moderate choice was a senator, John McCain. Go back and look at the TV discussions to find any of these voices going on television, saying ‘we need a governor’ in 2008. Then, the choice of those voices was that candidate, so that argument didn’t get used.”

Still, in the middle of it all, Cruz needs to take a moment to beat a dead horse.

Thus, something completely different―a backstory.

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Your (sigh) 2016 GOP Presidential Prognistication, v.1

There is, of course, the idea of epistemic closure, what others might refer to as the Bubble, or the Right Wing Echo Chamber. After all, one might wonder at the idea that presidential-caliber political operatives were shellshocked on election night. To the other, the effect is easy enough to see, but in truth it really was hard to believe. And yet amid the right-wing media circus that included arbitrarily adjusted statistics to tell us all the real, “unskewed” poll results, Jennifer Rubin stood alone amid the wrong-minded noise, head and shoulders above her deluded colleagues, and managed the sort of electoral season that the Washington Post really ought to be embarrassed about, except that she’s not as bad as the two people who held the job of WaPo right-wing blogger before her.

But the newspaper’s cruel joke against conservatives remains unbowed. In recent days the Maven of Mistakes has announced her field of candidates for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. No, really.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Former GOP vice presidential nominee, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Bonus coverage of the field that just shouldn’t bother, namely Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as former Sen. Rick Santorum.

Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it?

No?

Well … er … right.

One Marianne Doherty lamented, as Romney supporters countenanced defeat, “It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are. I’ve got to be honest, I feel like I’ve lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do.”

And, well, yeah. If Republicans want to keep feeling that way, they should keep their heads firmly sealed inside the Bubble.

I mean, really. Look at that list. The only real question is how much of his soul Gov. Christie is going to have to sell in order to seal up the nomination.

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Apparently, Romney’s campaign, from top to bottom, had no idea what was about to happen. How does one get to the premiere league of American politics, yet be so blind?