liar

The Donald Trump Show (Pants on Fire)

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in New York City, New York, 16 June 2015. (Photo: Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency)

At this point, it’s so damn ridiculous we could go on like this all day today and tomorrow and not feel any better even after Hillary Clinton wins, because, really, the Donald Trump presidential nomination is one of those American wild somethings in the whatnow that we really ought not try again, and I won’t say anything about swamp eels.

Damn it. Okay, anyway, it is easy enough to get distracted by the tale of the twitless wonder, but we might also take a moment to raise a glass to the one and only Steve Benen, who took a moment amid his own astonishment at talk of Donald Trump’s vengeful ways to appreciate a great symbol of the Republican nominee’s gaslit campaign, coming as it did while the team rallied to capitalize on James Comey’s clodhopping bombshell. Or, as the New York Timesα put it:

Stephen Bannon, CEO of Republican nominee Donald Trump's presidential campaign, meets with the Trump Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in Manhattan, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Carl Allegri/Reuters)But they insisted that to truly exploit it, Mr. Trump needed to do something he had been incapable of in the past: strictly follow instructions, let a story unfold on its own and resist the urge to endlessly bludgeon his rival.

They headed to a fleet of cars that whisked them to the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester, where a crowd of thousands was waiting for the candidate to take the stage.

But his aides needed time to sketch out what Mr. Trump should say―and not say. They sent Michael T. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, onstage with a mission: stall.

As the aides agonized over which words to feed into the teleprompter, they become so engrossed that a hot light set up next to the machine caused Mr. Bannon’s Kuhl hiking pants to begin smoldering.

“I think my pant leg is on fire,” he said after noticing the acrid smell.

Yes, apparently, really.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say this is one of the silver linings we get from having suffered the Donald Trump Show? After all, what better emblem of the emblematic? This is, unfortunately, the sort of experience for which there really is no excuse. And it is easy enough to say we all have played our part in American society and its reinforcement of some terrible aspects about our human frailty, but let’s face it, this time it’s pretty much all on conservatives themselves. They’re already trying to blame Democrats for Donald Trump, and the election technically hasn’t happened, yet.β

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α And hoist again for the four reporters required to bring us this heady glimpse inside Donald Trump’s existential uncertainty: Maggie Haberman, Ashley Parker, Jeremy W. Peters, and Michael Barbaro.

β Is there a rule about putting a footnote on the last sentence? In the moment, it seems like there ought to be. Nonetheless, it seems necessary to remind that the 2020 Republican presidential nomination contest is already at least informally underway; it has been since, well, before the Republican convention was over, and we even got the fun little joke last month about Kellyanne Conway pitching her credentials toward the next cycle. And, you know, it is possible Ted Cruz has already lost. Republicans are amazing, sometimes.

Image notes: Top ― Donald Trump announces his candidacy. (Photo: Justin Lane/EPA) Right ― Trump/Pence 2016 campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon. (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Benen, Steve. “Driven by vengeance, Trump is eager to ‘punish his enemies'”. msnbc. 7 November 2016.

Haberman, Maggie, et al. “Inside Donald Trump’s Last Stand: An Anxious Nominee Seeks Assurance”. The New York Times. 6 November 2016.

Rozsa, Matthew. “The big loser in Donald Trump’s war against the GOP is Ted Cruz somehow”. Salon. 11 October 2016.

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The Donald Trump Show (Troll Dumb)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

Sometimes we think we notice something. Sometimes we know we see something. But even that setup is a bit overdone, because the truth is that proving the point often requires a lot of effort, and many of us live in a modern, twenty-first century America in which such effort is considered suspect. To the other, right now Donald Trump is making it easy.

Trump framed his campaign as a serious White House bid, one that could be his only shot at the presidency, while dismissing Clinton’s run as the most “unserious” campaign in American history.

The detail from Nolan McCaskill of Politico is just one small paragraph amid a litany of trumptastic absurdity, but it does remind that Donald Trump is the candidate of internet trolls.

Basic rubber-glue retort is a bizarre tactic in any allegedly adult conversation, but one that has been around pretty much the whole time, and the only really strange thing about the internet version is that it is so straightforward. There is a variation where one pretends to not understand the difference, for instance, and then there is straightforward rubber-glue; both require the retort to ignore the accuracy of the perceived insult such that if you catch one in a lie and call it out, whether the retort is to call you a liar or an asshole, the justification will be the same, that you insulted someone by calling them a liar, therefore they are returning the favor. That is to say, that you caught someone in a lie makes no difference; as far as this behavior is concerned, if one is offended by an accurate description of behavior―e.g., racist, sexist, bigoted, dishonest, &c.―the perception of offense is the only relevant aspect.

We’ve been seeing bits of the trolldom percolating up the discourse, and especially from the right wing.

Think of it this way, if the question was white supremacism, and the white supremacist retorted, “Yeah? Well … well, you’re just … just … just racist!” it wouldn’t be the familiar canard about how refusing racism is itself bigoted, or refusing racism is racist against the white race. This would be a racist calling you a racist because you called out racism. This isn’t calling you an asshole because you’re an asshole, per se. This is about calling you an asshole because calling white supremacism racist isn’t nice, and since you said something not nice the white supremacist gets to say something not nice in return.

Yes, it really is this … this … well, that’s the thing. We might say “infantile” but what did infants ever do to deserve the insult?

This is Donald Trump, and he expresses traditional American values. And I’m not joking about that; this is what the bullies always were, and it’s all they ever had, and now that they are losing their traditional privileges under law and custom, now that nobody else is nodding and winking along with them this is all they have left.

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Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

Gauthier, Brendan. “Pepe’s post-debate identity crisis: Online alt-right turns on Donald Trump after his presidential debate fiasco”. Salon. 27 September 2016.

McCaskill, Nolan D. “Trump calls out Clinton’s ‘unserious’ campaign”. Politico. 29 September 2016.

Futility, or, Senator Mark Kirk

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), circa 2016, in uncredited photo via campaign website.

It was easy enough to feel at least a little badly for Mark Kirk, the incumbent U.S. Senator from Illinois whose seat is among the most vulnerable the GOP must defend this year, when the National Republican Senatorial Committee attacked his opponent, a legless veteran, for “not standing up for veterans”. There is, however, a limit to any sympathy, especially when the embattled Republican manages to do it to himself:

Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign falsely asserted on its website that the Illinois Republican was a veteran of the Iraq war, a misstatement that comes six years after exaggerations over his military record nearly cost him his state’s Senate seat.

The Republican, now battling for a second term in a tight race in Illinois, stayed in the United States during the Iraq War when he served in the Navy Reserves. But on a public webpage on his official campaign website touting his record on veterans’ issues, Kirk was listed as a “veteran of the Iraq war.”

While Kirk campaign officials said it was a staff error, the issue resembles the controversy that nearly caused his 2010 Senate campaign to implode. Moreover, Kirk is now running for reelection against Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a military veteran who lost both of her legs during combat in Iraq.

(Raju)

This is important: Neither is this the first time Mr. Kirk’s name has circulated in this context during this cycle. Apparently, the Illinois Republican and his team just … what? Couldn’t resist the opportunity to try the lie again? Can’t be expected, in this hectic modern world, to guard against known exposure?

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Image note: U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), circa 2016, in uncredited photo via campaign website.

Raju, Manu. “Mark Kirk campaign site falsely calls senator ‘veteran’ of Iraq war”. CNN. 21 September 2016.

Yilek, Caitlin. “GOP tweet accuses double amputee Dem of ‘not standing up for veterans'”. The Hill. 8 March 2016.

The Conservative Lesson

David Daleiden, of Center for Medical Progress.  Detail of photo by Charles Ommanney, ca. 2015.

A question arises: Is self-harm ever funny?

Certes, there are complications to the question; obviously, it is harder to justify self-harm if one also hurts others along the way, but here we’re not talking about going on a slashing spree amid a cutting habit. This one falls more under inspiring terrorists while wrecking your life for the sake of your own stupid masculinity.

Never mind.

Yesterday morning, via USA Today:

The videos show Planned Parenthood’s senior leadership partaking in a widespread and organized violation of state and federal laws forbidding partial-birth abortions and profiteering from the sale of fetal organs and tissues, which is why multiple state and federal investigations, including a select committee in Congress, continue to investigate Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and financial interests in harvesting body parts. Contrary to the liberal shibboleth that the videos were “edited” (by which they mean to insinuate, “doctored”), the Center for Medical Progress has been far more transparent than any major news network in making the unedited conversations available to the public, and forensic analysis verifies their utility as evidence.

David Daleiden penned an op-ed in defense of his Center for Medical Progress, which is perhaps more familiar as the right-wing operation that doctored up some videos that succeeded in causing a ruckus. Congress held hearings, then slated some more because the first round was such a disaster. A terrorist murdered three people, wounded several more. Eleven states have investigated the infamous claims against Planned Parenthood, and all eleven have cleared the organization. In Texas, officials even convened a grand jury.

So Daleiden decided to … what? Pitch his case one last time? Rub it in? Set up for his victory lap?

That was Monday morning. A few hours later, Daleiden and co-conspirator Sandra Merritt got the news:

A Houston jury investigating alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood declined to charge the women’s health provider, announcing instead felony charges for the leaders of the anti-abortion organization that targeted Planned Parenthood with it’s widely debunked series of “sting” videos in 2015.

The grand jury said they did not find evidence of illegal activity on the part of Planned Parenthood after reviewing the covert videos meant to misleadingly implicate the women’s health provider in the illegal trafficking of fetal tissue ....

.... David Daleiden, the 26-year old president of The Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, founder and CEO of the fake tissue procurement company created to misleadingly gain entry into abortion clinics, were indicted for “tampering with a governmental record,” while Daleiden received an additional indictment for “the purchase and sale of human organs.” The first charge is a second degree felony and the second is a Class A misdemeanor. As the Houston Chronicle notes, a second-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison.

(Tesfaye)

They did this to themselves.

(more…)

Responsible Gun Ownership (#Benghazi!)

'Scuse me while I responsibly point this at you.

Ángel González of the Seattle Times landed the unfortunate duty of penning the article:

Dane Gallion, 29, told officers he took the gun to Regal Cinemas 14 at the Landing on Thursday night because he was “concerned about recent mass shootings in public places,” according to a police account in a probable-cause statement released Saturday.

That same anxiety prompted him to keep the gun unholstered in his waistband, the statement says.

This is one of those. Gravity. Downhill. Abyss of stupidity. Really, it only gets worse.

(more…)

The Marco Rubio Show (Elephant Gore Pioneer)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), talks to CNBC correspondent John Harwood during an interview at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, 5 October 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

This is the Marco Rubio Show:

Speaking before dozens of influential Jewish Republicans here last week, Marco Rubio lashed out at President Obama’s foreign policy and vowed, “When I am Commander-in-Chief, I will fortify our alliance with Israel.”

Applause filled the room and Rubio sought a deeper connection. “As speaker of the Florida House,” he said, “I pioneered what became a national effort by requiring the Florida pension program to divest from companies linked to Iran’s terrorist regime.”

It was groundbreaking, but Rubio had nothing to do with creation of the legislation.

(Leary)

We have before noted that the junior U.S. Senator from Florida has shown himself something of a dim bulb in the foreign policy pack; everything from his campaign slogan to his understanding of history to his comprehension of nation-building is borrowed failure―he is a walking rehash of bad ideas and, apparently, empty bluster and braggadocio.

Here is a fun irony: With Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) palling around with terrorists, did Marco Rubio just have an “Al Gore moment”? Hindsight suggests they might actually be trying to do this; the only rational argument otherwise is the reasonable―even otherwise convincing―proposition that such endeavors require way too much effort for the payoff. But, really, can Republicans be any more ironic right now?

You know, don’t answer. Something about the elephant in the room goes here.

(more…)

The Ted Cruz Show (Pleasant Senate Sunday)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to reporters following a rare Sunday Senate session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sunday, 26 July 2015. Senior Senate Republicans lined up Sunday to rebuke Cruz for attacking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an extraordinary display of intraparty division played out live on the Senate floor. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

There are a number of things to consider―aren’t there always?―about the weekend dispute between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and pretty much the rest of his Republican colleagues in the United States Senate. First and foremost, Tierney Sneed brings the latest, in the form of a five-point overview, for the aptly named Talking Points Memo.

The elephant in the chamber, such as it is, however, is the entire question of the Export-Import Bank.

The Ex-Im controversy is, in a word, absurd.

Would you like a few more? How about worthy of ridicule.

Naturally, Mr. Cruz wants in.

(more…)

The Jeb Bush Show (Seriously Inadequate)

Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush waits for his introduction at the Iowa Agriculture Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, 7 March 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Consider, please, that while Donald Trump managed to get into a stupid fight with Rick Perry and win, this is actually about Jeb Bush:

Almost immediately after Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) military service, Republican officials denounced the criticism in a specific way. “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably,” the Republican National Committee said in an official statement.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans appear to apply that principle selectively. In 2004, John Kerry faced ridiculous lies about his heroic military service, and at the time, GOP leaders saw great political value in smearing a decorated war veteran.

Take Jeb Bush, for example. In January 2005, the day before his brother’s second inaugural, the Florida governor wrote a letter to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ringleader, expressing his appreciation for the smear campaign. Celebrating the “Swifties,” as Jeb Bush called them, the Republican wrote to retired Col. Bud Day, “Please let them know that I am personally appreciative of their service to our nation. As someone who truly understands the risk of standing up for something, I simply cannot express in words how much I value their willingness to stand up against John Kerry.”

In this case, “stand up to” was apparently a euphemism for “tell lies about.”

(Benen)

And while we might refer to the former Florida governor by his derisive title as the Serious Clown, the question remains as to why anybody thought Mr. Bush was a serious candidate. Maybe he needs another do-over.

(more…)

More Fun with Bill

Detail of cartoon by Brian McFadden, 6 March 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.“Bill O’Reilly was caught in a lie. No, not that one. Or that one. Or the whole sexual harassment loofah thing. This is not really news. Brian Williams being a fabulist was a little more surprising, but not really. Network and cable news are pretty much infotainment anchored by narcissists.”

Brain McFadden

It is unfortunate, as Brain McFadden notes, that “there’s been no comeuppance for the liars that got us into the Iraq War”, an aspect of these weird chapters of the American press that seems strangely lost on all the right people. Wrong people. Right people. Whatever. What more and more seems like the inevitable fall of Brian Williams has its tragic aspects. That there really isn’t much for comeuppance in Bill O’Reilly’s case is hardly unexpected. But it makes for great comedy vérité.

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McFadden, Brian. “America at War: with Bill O’Reilly”. Daily Kos. 6 March 2015.

Speaker Boehner at His Finest

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

Here’s a quote from the Speaker of the House:

“Does anybody think that Vladimir Putin would have gone into Crimea had George W. Bush been president of the United States? No! Even Putin is smart enough to know that Bush would have punched him in the nose in about 10 seconds!”

Laughter is certainly acceptable at this point.

After all, Bush had his chance in 2008, and didn’t take the swing. Why Speaker Boehner feels the need to make up random excrement is not really a mystery; he’s a Republican operating in a post-policy, post-fact political mode. This is what Republicans do. For them, the greatest triumph of the American people would be if the people chose to believe in lies and ignore facts. There is a difference between acknowledging human frailty and exploiting it.

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Bookman, Jay. “Boehner: ‘Bush would have punched Putin in nose'”. Atlanta Journal Constitution. 28 October 2014.

Boehlert, Eric. “Flashback, 2008: When A Russian Invasion Made Fox News Shrug”. Media Matters for America. 4 March 2014.