Gage Skidmore

The Blind Chaos of Futility

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to members of the travel pool aboard Air Force One during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, while flying over South Carolina, 3 February 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Somewhere between the joke about how conservatives in general cannot tell the difference, particular observations about the breathtaking naïveté we are supposed to believe about the Trump administration—

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Thursday dodged questions about the existence of possible recordings of conversations between President Trump and former FBI Director James Comey.

Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)“I can’t comment on that,” Conway said on Fox News before moving to discuss other portions of Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier in the day.

Pressed twice more about the existence of possible tapes, Conway responded, “I can’t comment on that and actually the president himself has said he won’t comment any further on that.”

(Byrnes)

—we might find echoes of Sen. Martin Heinrich’s (D-NM) point to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats when the latter decided he simply did not feel like answering: “You realize how simple it would be to simply say no, that never happened?”

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A Memo to Kellyanne Conway (Beltway Grind)

#poseurs | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Kellyanne Conway speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

MEMORANDUM

To: Kellyanne Conway

re: Fake indignance

Politico explains:

In her first TV interview in over a week, Kellyanne Conway explained her recent lack of broadcast appearances Wednesday by noting President Donald Trump’s ability to disseminate his own message and her challenges as a working mother.

“I don’t think I have to explain myself if I’m not going on TV if I’m out with four kids for three days looking at houses and schools,” the counselor to the president told Fox News’ Sean Hannity during an interview taped from the floor of the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor.

She added: “A lot of my colleagues aren’t trying to figure out how to be a mother of four kids, I assure you.”

The fake indignance is the problem. Well, okay, one among so many others, sure; but for the moment, yeah, the rest of us might wonder if that posturing works outside #DimensionTrump.

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The Donald Trump Show (Ironic Return)

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

“Kellyanne Conway continues to stress the importance of ‘disclosure’ and ‘transparency’ in the election, unaware of the irony.”

Steve Benen

Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)If we started counting up the various assertions by which customs, rules, and even laws just aren’t supposed to apply to Republicans, would it be fair to call the mountain we’ve watched pile up the whole time “shocking”?

Probably not. Then again, I do wonder if, like “locker room talk”, we will try to reckon with such behavior while pretending it isn’t or wasn’t widespread. After this is over, watch and listen as Republicans and journalists alike try to minimize just how deeply they dove down the Trump hole.

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Image note: Top ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube) Right ― Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Benen, Steve. “Team Trump admits, public won’t see candidate’s tax returns”. msnbc. 31 October 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Conway-esque)

Republican U.S. presidential nominee donald Trump is greeted by (L-R) his son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka, and son Eric after the conclusion of the third and final debate with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton at University of Nevada Las Vegas, 19 October 2016. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Reuters/Pool)

This actually takes some explaining. Or maybe not. Okay, so Robert Costa of the Washington Post issues a tweet amid the third presidential debate, criticizing Donald Trump, describing the Republican nominee’s now infamous “bad hombres” line as “Trump being Trump”, and the rest of the game show host’s answers by the lovely term, “Conway-esque”.

Five minutes later, with Hillary Clinton eviscerating the Republican nominee, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway retweets Costa’s critique as a boast.

Or, as Sophia Tesfaye put it: “Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is already auditioning for her next gig”:

Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, must be making a covert cry for help, as nothing short of desperate confusion could explain a tweet she sent in the middle of the third presidential debate ....

.... After Trump’s “bad hombres” comment caused a ruckus on social media, Trump’s campaign manager took to Twitter to retweet a compliment of herself and backhanded diss to her boss.

Somewhere in the load of not-necessarily transcribed, good luck finding it on the website pile of campaign coverage segments from msnbc’s relentless branding campaign is a bit with a few seasoned, liberal-leaning hands chuckling about the fact of major Republican players showing enough wisdom to stay clear of the Trump presidential bid. There is some merit to the point: Corey Lewandowski, a Koch lobbyist is no longer with the campaign; RNC consultant and Scott Walker’s primary campaign manager Rick Wiley has come and gone; consultant to notorious international figures Paul Manafort has come and gone; and former Dole staffer turned lobbyist Jim Murphy has stepped back from his role as national political director with less than three weeks remaining in the election contest. Donald Trump’s campaign is currently run by an alt-right publisher and, well, Kellyanne Conway. None of these were truly first-tier to begin with. But, still, while it’s not quite pitching for delegates in the 2020 race at the 2016 Republican National Convention, neither is it … er … ah … y’know?

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Image notes: Top ― Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump is greeted by (L-R) his son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka, and son Eric after the conclusion of the third and final debate with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton at University of Nevada Las Vegas, 19 October 2016. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Reuters/Pool) Right ― Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Conway, Kelly. “— >”. Twitter. 19 October 2016.

Costa, Robert. “Bad hombres”. Twitter. 19 October 2016.

Tesfaye, Sophia. “Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is already auditioning for her next gig”. Salon. 19 October 2016.

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 on Conservative Values

Kellyanne Conway speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

This is fun. Peter Montgomery, for Right Wing Watch, the day after Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012:

Not only did Obama win big, but voters in Maine and Maryland embraced marriage equality, and Washington seems likely to join them. Minnesota voters rejected a Religious Right-backed attempt to put anti-gay discrimination into the state’s constitution. Tammy Baldwin was elected to the Senate, where she will be the first openly gay member.

Well before all those results were in, it was clear that the night was not going according to what Religious Right leaders had thought was God’s plan. At 10 pm, Tony Perkins and Jim Garlow held a phone call briefing for pastors. It was a very subdued affair, with representatives of the state marriage campaigns trying to sound hopeful about the then-uncalled outcomes in their states. Perkins and Garlow also held a Wednesday webcast on the “aftermath and aftershocks” as the scope of their Election Day drubbing sank in. “The problem in America is sin,” said Garlow. But, he said, “we have no problem that the next Great Awakening cannot solve.”

The tendency after an election defeat to avoid blame by casting it elsewhere was in full flower the day after the election. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Religious Right favorite, described Mitt Romney as “the most liberal Republican nominee in history” who had “waffled” on abortion, had passed a health care bill as governor, and had a hard time convincing conservatives on his commitments on taxing and spending. Perkins criticized Romney for not campaigning on issues of life, marriage, and religious liberty, even though Obama used them to appeal to his base. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway agreed, saying Republicans had not done enough to draw the contrast on social and “moral” issues. Regarding the marriage wins, Perkins blamed Obama in part, saying the president’s policies have had “a shaping influence on the culture.” He and others also blamed marriage equality proponents’ financial advantage ....

.... Some Religious Right leaders sought solace in faith that God is ultimately in control. “America as we know it may have signed its death warrant tonight,” said Garlow during the pastors’ briefing. But not to worry, he said, nations come and go, but God’s kingdom is forever. Perkins said FRC and its allies would continue to stand strong in the face of “an increasingly hostile culture.”

Others looked forward to the next political fight. Pollster Conway predicted that 2014 would bring, like 2010’s Tea Party wave, a conservative resurgence and called for candidate recruitment to begin now. Perkins agreed that conservatives have never had a stronger “farm team” and touted potential conservative candidates for 2016, including Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Mike Pence.

Yes, indeed, a genuine Kellyanne Conway sighting, as the pollster reminded Republicans, as we hear every election, how things would go better if they would just become more misogynistic, homophobic, masculinist, Christianist, supremacist―you now, whatever counts among Republicans as family values and morality. It’s also worth noting, in addition to the farm team standouts, the presence of Tony Perkins of Family Research Council.

It’s just an interesting contrast. Kellyanne Conway, in her role as Donald Trump’s campaign manager, has undoubtedly drawn a contrast on social and moral issues. Mr. Perkins, for his part, was last heard explaining, “My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values”.

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A Note on Narrative (Gregariously Pensive)

Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Florida International University in Miami, Saturday, 23 July 2016. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

Setting aside the extraordinarily stupid headline … okay, look, Trip Gabriel explains::

The meeting of Mr. Pence, a Republican, and Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, two pensive and little-known nominees, might be the least anticipated vice-presidential debate in 40 years.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015.  (Photo: Gate Skidmore)Pensive? I’m sorry, but, really?

When Sen. Kaine was named the Democratic running mate, “gregarious” is a word that went around quite a bit. And while the two words are not specifically listed as antonymous, the one includes synonyms like affable, convivial, and outgoing, while the other matches up with absorbed, wistful, and withdrawn.

How about a show of hands among the press: How many of you just say or write whatever because the word sounds sexy or artistic or, you know, like, whatever?

This is a fun challenge for the day: Craft a narrative sentence properly describing someone as “gregariously pensive”.

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Image notes Top ― Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Florida International University in Miami, Saturday, 23 July 2016. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo) Right ― Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015. (Photo: Gate Skidmore)

Gabriel, Trip. “After Trump-Clinton, Vice-Presidential Debate Isn’t Exactly ‘the Return of Elvis'”. The New York Times. 1 October 2016.

An Ominous Eye on Newt

Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) addresses the Florida Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, 23 September 2011. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Oh, you know … please?

Fox News is suspending its contributor agreement with Newt Gingrich, the channel announced on Tuesday.

“Fox News Channel has mutually agreed to suspend its contributor agreement with Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich effective immediately. Due to the intense media speculation about Gingrich’s potential selection as Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate, we felt it best to halt his contributor role on the network to avoid all conflicts of interest that may arise,” Fox News’ executive vice president of news Jay Wallace said in a statement.

Gingrich is being vetted to potentially serve as Donald Trump’s running mate, and is considered one of the top contenders.

(Gold)

I mean, come on. Really. Please?

Perhaps it’s easier to note that while the phantom candidate notion still puzzles, me, the devastation we might perceive inflicted upon the GOP by Donald Trump’s presidential debacle might well find validation in a Gingrich vice presidential nomination. That is to say, could we ask for a more obvious sign? Is there some more knowing omen in the Universe we might read explaining and affirming that for whatever reason, the purpose of this trompe guignol really is the destruction of the Republican Party?

At this point we might as well chuckle and propose racism because Mr. Trump isn’t vetting Herman Cain.

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Image note: The last time around .... ― Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) addresses the Florida Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, 23 September 2011. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Gold, Hadas. “Fox News and Newt Gingrich agree to suspend contributor agreement”. Politico. 12 July 2016.

The Brownback Effect

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) speaks at CPAC, 28 February 2015.  (Detail of photo by Gage Skidmore)

This is the part where reality comes crashing down:

Lots of numbers in a new statewide survey of Kansas from Fort Hays State University, but here’s the stunner:

Only 18 percent of state residents said they were “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

Kansas, in case there’s any misunderstanding, is a heavily Republican state.

President Barack Obama, long a punching bag for Republicans, rated higher. Some 28 percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with the Democratic chief executive.

(Krase)

The whole thing with Kansas and Mr. Brownback really is a puzzle; it’s one thing to point out that he is wrecking the state’s finances to the point that schools can’t function, thus observing that there is a reason Kansans are annoyed with their governor. But there is also a twist, that Sunflower State voters already knew most of that when they re-elected Gov. Brownback last year.

Certainly, the numbers are remarkable; Mr. Brownback is so awful, in Kansans’ eyes, that President Obama now suffers less ill will in the Jayhawk Midway Wheat State. To the other, though, the notion of self-inflicted damage asserts itself. Kansans quite literally did this to themselves, and we might make that crass joke, “And we’re all just so proud of them for doing such a super job!” but in truth, no, nobody is proud. Nor is this merely a Kansas thing; the Brownback Way is merely a revival of the supply-side mysticism, the “voodoo” economics, of thirty years ago. And this Republicans would inflict on the nation.

Steve Benen recalls Mitch McConnell, who described the Brownback Way as, “exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington, but can’t, at least for now”:

“At least for now,” of course, refers to the fact that there’s a Democrat in the White House.

In other words, Kansas’ “experiment” – massive tax breaks, coupled with drastic cuts to public investments – is “exactly” the model Republicans want to impose on the nation. They’re just waiting for a far-right president to work with a far-right Congress, just like Kansas’ far-right governor worked with a far-right legislature.

It really is the strangest thing.

Then again, this is Kansas. They have their priorities.

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Image note: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) speaks at CPAC, 28 February 2015. (Detail of photo by Gage Skidmore)

Benen, Steve. “Obama tops Brownback in ruby-red Kansas”. msnbc. 26 October 2015.

Krase, Steve. “Gov. Sam Brownback in deep hole with Kansans”. The Kansas City Star. 24 October 2015.

The Mike Huckabee Show (All That)

In this April 18, 2015 file photo, former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH. Huckabee is set to announce he will seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He has an event planned for May 5 in his hometown of Hope, Ark., where former President Bill Clinton was also born. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

“When a candidate for the nation’s highest office is outraged by bags of snacks, it’s probably time for a shift in focus.”

Steve Benen

And, you know, walking into a gas station and seeing a bag of godawfully-flavored, rainbow-colored tortilla chips is the sort of thing that might make one chuckle and wonder quietly what Mike Huckabee would say. And, you know, in the moment it feels like hack comedy, the easy bit that anyone can write and everyone thinks of. First thing to mind, that sort of thing.

And then the Preacher Clown goes and picks a fight with a bag of chips.

Yes, really.

But here’s the thing:

Right Wing Watch noted yesterday that when Chick-fil-A faced criticism from the left, and some LGBT groups and their allies organized boycotts, Huckabee condemned the moves as “economic terrorism”.

He added that there are many companies that are led by executives with whom he disagrees, but Huckabee said he’d never call for a boycott of those businesses.

It is one thing to sit back and lob flaming softballs about a man’s word being his word, and all that, but Mr. Huckabee manages to show us, from time to time, what it looks like.

Still, though, perhaps it is most important to remember that the former Arkansas governor and one-time Southern Baptist pastor, is making a stand against efforts to reduce bullying in our society.

Blessed are the whozat?

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Image note: Former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, New Hampshire, 18 April 2015. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Benen, Steve. “Huckabee picks a fight with a bag of chips”. msnbc. 6 October 2015.