paranoia

The Pruitt Watch (#WhatTheyVotedFor)

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Skyhobo, 2009)

Miserable: Jonathan Swan offers a glimpse “Inside Scott Pruitt’s ‘miserable’ bunker”, and what is unbelievable about the article is that it might be written at all. Starting with the incendiary report from The Atlantic about intracabinet political attacks and the typical Axios brief on “why this matters”—approximately that for whatever reasons, Administrator Pruitt still has his job—but then lays an ugly string of points from “behind the scenes”, starting with the idea that EPA senior staff apparently being surprised by a photo of the Administrator at lunch with “members of his team” emerging in a lobbyist’s tweet.

Gravity is gravity; the slope is uncertain, but something about downhill goes here.

• Over the last few months, Pruitt has walled himself off from all but five EPA political appointees: ​Millan Hupp, Sarah Greenwalt, Hayley Ford, Lincoln Ferguson, and Wilcox. Of those five, only Wilcox is over 30. Hupp, Greenwalt and Ferguson came with Pruitt from Oklahoma. Wilcox is the only press aide Pruitt appears to trust.

• Pruitt’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, runs the agency’s operations but rarely knows where his boss is. Pruitt has frozen Jackson out of his inner circle—a disaster for a chief of staff. Pruitt and Jackson don’t trust each other, multiple sources told me.

• “All of us have been frozen out over time,” one EPA political appointee told me. “It’s absolutely unreal working here. Everyone’s miserable. Nobody talks. It’s a dry wall prison.”

And the band plays on as EPA tumbles down the rabbit hole: “Pruitt never trusted the EPA’s career staff”, writes Swan, and the understatement about the sentence is nearly unavoidable; the point is highlight the Administrator having “frozen out” political appointees as administrative paranoia apparently grows and staff morale similarly continues its plummet.

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Almost Paranoia (Horseshoe Destroy’a)

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman): "You cannot make this up >> Trump didn't like the result of a poll HE conducted, so now he says it's rigged" [via Twitter, 19 February 2017]

“You cannot make this up,” writes columnist and podcaster C.J. Werleman, and he would seem to have a point. The text of a recent fundraising missive from Team Trump:

Jose,

The President emailed you to take the urgent Mainstream Media Accountability Survey.

Since then, mainstream media outlets have viciously attacked it … and thousands of Democrats have taken it to try to sabotage the results.

Which is why we need your IMMEDIATE Help as one of President Trump’s Biggest Supporters.

Please take the Mainstream Media Accountability Survey now. >>

Thanks,

Team TRUMP

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The Politics of Victimhood (Wannabe Wax Wix Mix)

Rick Santorum speaks during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Let us start with Steve Benen, and note that there really is nothing unfamiliar about the situation he describes.

First up from the God Machine this week is an aggressive push from likely Republican presidential candidates to characterize social conservatives as a “victims” of a secular American government.msnbc

If this seems like a cyclical problem, it’s not your imagination. Four years ago, Newt Gingrich delivered one of my favorite quotes of all time, warning that if conservatives “do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America,” his grandchildren might one day live “in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists.” The contradiction was apparently lost on him.

Four years later, it’s Rick Santorum reading from a similar script ....

No, really, this is nothing new. But it is worth noting, because in truth it seems somewhat strange that the point doesn’t come up more.

Whether insurrectionist paranoia or craven, misguided, and exploited self-indictment, we should not be surprised; this is no different than pop arguments about how men are the real victims of rape and sexism, or whites the real victims of racism, this is hardly new. It seems like a perverse Munchausen envy, as if societal majorities become jealous at the attention and care shown their victims.

To the other, what about this isn’t self-evident? Benen makes a good point about contradiction; one needs not even make sense in order to gain support among the evangelical crowd, unless, of course, we accept the supremacist notion that they all look the same. After all, if “atheist” means “non-Christian”, then Gingrich’s complaint about a secular atheist society dominated by radical Islamists suddenly makes sense.

And this is sufficient―or, at least, it should be―to make the point about what it is these would-be victims actually fear.

As to the latest? Benen simply notes Rick Santorum lamenting that, “We have now the secular church that is being imposed on this country and anybody that defects is subject to persecution and prosecution.” We might suggest the spattering sputter from the Pennsylvania Republican is complete excrement and he knows it, but that latter is unclear. While it is observable that these elements are pitching tantrums on behalf of supremacism and bigotry, it is not entirely clear that they remain so possessed of their faculties as to be capable of recognizing the problem.

Remember, any bully losing his privilege will lament lost rights.

Evangelical Christian faith is not inherent victimhood, but these people seem to really, really want to suffer. But here’s the thing about human sympathy toward victims of injustice: That sympathy diminishes when you do it to yourseslf.

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Benen, Steve. “This Week in God, 4.25.15”. msnbc. 25 April 2015.

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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The Sacrifice of the Intellect

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 25 February 2015.“It doesn’t matter what custom you’ve got, it doesn’t matter what holy thing that you worship and adore, the gays are going to get it. They’re going to make you conform to them. You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is. And sooner or later you are going to have to conform your religious beliefs the group of some aberrant thing. It won’t stop at homosexuality.”

Pat Robertson

Dear Christian neighbors … er … um … never mind.

And our special thanks to Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch, who apparently watches 700 Club so the rest of us don’t have to. And, you know, really, it’s amazing what we miss for skipping out in defense of our sanity.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini, by Adam Huber, 25 February 2015.

Tashman, Brian. “Pat Robertson: Gays Will Force You To Like Anal Sex, Bestiality”. Right Wing Watch. 2 April 2015.

A Note on “Family Values” in “Flyover Country”

In this May 3, 2010 photo, attorney Kris Kobach poses for a photo in Kansas City, Mo. When politicians and police across the county want to crack down on illegal immigration, they often reach out to Kobach, a little-known Kansas attorney with an Ivy League education who is the architect behind many of the nation's most controversial immigration laws. Kobach helps draft proposed laws and, after they are adopted, trains officers to enforce them. If the laws are challenged, he goes to court to defend them. His most recent project was advising Arizona officials on a new law that empowers police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Two words: Middle America.

Two more: Flyover country.

Do the phrases ring a bell, maybe hearken back to 2008 when Republicans condemned coastal liberals as treating the interior states like a foreign country?

How about two more words? Sunflower State.

And two more: Kris Kobach.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the chief architects of the anti-immigrant movement’s legal and legislative strategies, told a caller to his weekly radio program last week that while he thought it was “unlikely,” it would not be a “huge jump” to predict that the Obama administration could call an end to the prosecutions of African Americans for any crime. Claiming that “it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws,” Kobach told listeners that “I’ve learned to say with this president, never say never.”

(Blue)

This is standard fare for Kobach. Remember, people in Kansas elected him, not despite the lying and racist paranoia, but because of it.

The next time you hear a conservative crying about “Middle America” and how the nasty liberals in the Democratic Party―(What? All three of them?)―”hate” the “family values” of “Middle America”, remember that these are the values in question. Mr. Kobach’s tenure in office is its own condemnation of Sunflower State values.

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Blue, Miranda. “Kris Kobach: ‘Not A Huge Jump’ To Think Obama Could Ban Criminal Prosecution Of Black People”. Right Wing Watch. 4 March 2015.

What Frightens Minnesota

Framegrab from KTSP. Mayor Betsy Hodges (left) with Navell Gordon. The Minneapolis television station considers pointing a "gang sign", and thereby sparked the #PointerGate controversy.

Thus it should occur that a goofy diagram of gangland sign language makes its way around the Facebook intertube thingy. And while there are plenty who would suggest that gang violence is serious business that should not be taken so lightly, it might be more useful to point out that the guide is incomplete.

GangSignChart-bwNote that one notorious (ahem!) “gang sign” is omitted, and that is the one-fingered point oft-known as the “fingerbang”. This is a well-known gesture that indicates, “Hey! Look at me! I’m standing next to a black dude!” and is the most dangerous of all gang signs known to Minnesota.

Or … something like that.

#PointerGate!

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Mack, David. “TV Report Accusing Mayor Of Gang Signs Prompts Online Ridicule In The Form Of #Pointergate”. BuzzFeed. 7 November 2014.

Hayes, Mike. “Minneapolis Mayor Explains Why Pointing Is Not A Gang Sign In #Pointergate Response”. BuzzFeed. 14 November 2014.

Our Best Wishes for the Happiest of Genocide Days

Easter in the nation's capital was a dark and gloomy day with a chill breeze blowing, but U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

In honor of our American Feast of the Genocide, how about some thematically-related cartoons?

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 28 November 2014.Adam Huber leads off, giving thanks to the internet that he might post tomorrow’s cartoon today, that in turn he might spend tomorrow either hung over or tryptocomatose.

Lalo Alcaraz, like many others, reflects on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

• Speaking of true meanings, Adam Huber took a shot at it earlier this week.

• Or maybe Brian McFadden puts forward a more appropriate reflection on the true meaning of “Thanksgiving Day”.

―No, really. Steve Benen offered a vignette earlier this week explaining one of the great political controversies surrounding the idea of “Thanksgiving Day” that is worth the two minutes it takes the average literate American to read. It is also where we got the photo of FDR on Easter. Go figure; go fish.

Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 25 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.Jen Sorensen attempts to summarize the crazy, tinfoil relative who reminds us why we need to keep the fact of attempted genocide in mind as a fundamental component of our Thanksgiving Day rituals.

Reuben Bolling offers a glimpse at Genocide Day Thanksgiving Day in Chagrin Falls.

• #TBT the time Adam Huber won the Genocide Day Cartoon Parade by starting in April.

In re the above, to the one we promise that is the last of the Huber cartoons for today. Prolific about genocide? Genocide-prolific? Can we just go with genolific? At any rate, our apologies for this post in general; we’ve known it was coming for months, having filed this cartoon away for this year’s celebration.

• We might note that Matt Tarpley managed an actual feelgood cartoon in honor of “Thanksgiving Day”. It is also worth pointing out that apparently Death closes his eyes when swinging. And yet, Death bats a thousand.

• Not to disparage the fine artists above, but Zach Weiner deserves some sort of award for skipping the holiday edition altogether. Thus, a cartoon from earlier this week that reminds us to give thanks for consumerism, undereducation, and paranoia, which really are the thematic components of what we Americans make of this day.

And while the wannabe patriots and pragmatists might moan about how people just won’t forget history and celebrate the glorious triumph of all that came after the attempted genocide, it is equally appropriate to remind them to go screw and give thanks that nobody is trading them death blankets as an act of biological warfare disguised in alleged commerce.

Otherwise, give thanks like you would for any other day, that we are still here and get to experience it, and perhaps take a moment to wonder why we put ourselves through this ritual that nobody seems to like, since we’re always muttering about the Turkey Pardon, the banality of parades, fretting over how to get the best Black Friday deals (Hint: Do your shopping last Monday, at least until next year when the new statistics show us which day actually has the best prices), or complaining that anyone would spend this miserable day of family gatherings—over tasteless ritual food and football games that more often than not have nothing to do with your favorite team—getting drunk.

But make sure to raise a wrist for genocide.

A Note About Iowa

Joni Ernst

One might wonder, given the polling out of the Hawkeye State, what the hell is wrong with Iowa. The idea that cowardice, ignorance, and tinfoil paranoia are Iowa values might strike many as strange, but that’s the thing: It is a question for Iowans.

No, really. It is perfectly within the rights of Iowa voters to send to the United States Senate a candidate who is incapable of distinguishing fact from opinion.

Ben Terris opens his glimpse into the Ernst campaign with a brief description of something rather quite expected:

Depending on the time of year, Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R) either thinks President Obama is an president that who refuses to lead, or is an overzealous “dictator” who is constantly “overstepping his bounds.”

We’re at the part of the Goldilocks story where the president is too small.

“We have an apathetic president,” she told a crowd in Newton, Iowa, as part of her 24-hour get out the vote tour around the country. It’s a different message from the time in January when she suggested that the president should be impeached for enacting parts of his agenda without Congress’s approval.

After the event, Ernst elaborated without elucidating exactly what she meant.

“He is just standing back and letting things happen, he is reactive rather than proactive,” she said. “With Ebola, he’s been very hands off.”

Contradiction is one of Ernst’s talents, which in turn makes her sound as if she has no clue what she is talking about. In Iowa, this sort of cluelessness is apparently a virtue.

What follows, though, might seem a bit excessive, even for Iowa: (more…)