Thursday, January 25, 2018


This story is getting a lot of attention:
Republican U.S. Senate candidate for Missouri Courtland Sykes blasted “women’s rights” this week.

In a statement posted to Facebook on Tuesday, Sykes said that he had been asked if he “supports women’s rights.”

“I want to come home to a home cooked dinner every night at six,” Sykes said, referring to demands he makes of his girlfriend. “One that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives.”

According to Sykes, feminists push an agenda that they “made up to suit their own nasty snake-filled heads.”

The candidate said that he hoped his daughters do not grow up to be “career obsessed banshees who forgo home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the top of a thousand tall buildings they are [SIC] think they could have leaped in a single bound — had men not been ‘suppressing them.’ It’s just nuts.”
I'm seeing a lot of outrage, understandably:

But it's quite possible that this is an elaborate stunt. Back in October, shortly after Sykes declared his candidacy the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that Missouri politicos had no idea who he is:
Five Republican party insiders had the same answer when asked about Sykes.

“I don’t know anything about him,” said Jeff Roe, a political consultant with Kansas City-based Axiom Strategies.

Four others gave the same answer: John Hancock, former chairman of the Missouri GOP; Pat Thomas, the current state party treasurer; Ed Martin, who heads an offshoot of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum; and Austin Chambers, a senior adviser to Gov. Eric Greitens.
In October, Sykes was using the same language about feminism that he's using now:
“Chanel (Rion), my fiancee, has given me orders to favor [women's] rights, so I’d better,” he said. “But Chanel knows that my obedience comes with a small price that she loves to pay anyway — I want to come home to a home-cooked dinner at six every night, one that she fixes.

“It’s exactly the kind of family dinner that I expect one day my future daughters will learn to make after they too become traditional homemakers and family wives — think Norman Rockwell here — and Gloria Steinham (sic) be damned.”
In his document, Sykes ...says it’s time for social programs implemented in the 20th century to “go away.” He wants to “stop Muslim immigration cold for now.” He wants to eliminate most U.S. laws. And he says those who work in advertising, lawmaking, law enforcement, lobbying and other fields are part of an industry that “employs millions who drink swamp juice every day.”
A local poli sci professor expressed some doubts:
The Post-Dispatch forwarded the statements to John Messmer, a political science professor at St. Louis Community College at Meramec....

“I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s not parody,” Messmer said. “It’s not something strategic done by the Democratic side or someone that’s looking to criticize the conservative or Republican position.

“I do hold back that .1 percent,” Messmer said. “This might be one of the greatest examples of political performance art I’ve ever seen.”
Daniel Hill of St. Louis's Riverfront Times posted this Sykes ad:

Hill's response suggests that he's more skeptical than Professor Messmer:
Just look at this fucking guy. The open collar. The "Blue Steel" gaze. The amber waves of grain, signifying his heartland roots with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Poe's Law tells us that, absent a winking look or a knowing smile, it is completely impossible to differentiate between a parody of extreme views and a sincere expression of that outlook. Sykes' campaign video for his run for Claire McCaskill's U.S. Senate seat, released September 26, might as well be a case study of that old internet adage.
Want more reasons to doubt that Sykes's candidacy is legit? The Post-Dispatch notes that his background is murky:
He has been a permanent resident of Missouri for less than a year. In an interview, he refused to talk about his business, a defense consulting firm. To illustrate his Missouri ties, he said his family vacationed in the Ozarks growing up — but he wouldn’t say where.

“Look, I’m not going to talk about family stuff,” he told the Post-Dispatch.
Sykes says he's the managing director of that defense consulting firm, the Talosorion Group, but the website for Talosorion lists only one company officer -- Sykes himself -- and provides no specific information about what the company does. The company has no Web presence otherwise -- there are no news stories about it.

The opening credits of a "mini-documentary" on Sykes's YouTube page say it was created by a company called Walk the Lion Productions, Inc., which has a Web page with no company information and no links -- there's just an email address and a logo claiming the company has offices in Boston, London, and Sydney. (The company was incorporated in Delaware in November, the day before the video was posted to YouTube.) The "documentary" is a defense of Roy Moore that openly calls the women who accused Moore of pedophilia "liars" and describes The Washington Post's reporting on the story as "cash for trash."

Maybe this guy is real. Maybe someone on the liberal/Democratic side wants to discover how gullible and feral Missouri GOP voters are -- remember, the last time Claire McCaskill was up for reelection in this increasingly red state, she ran an ad intended to encourage GOP primary voters to choose the least electable candidate, Todd Akin. (The ad did so by chiding Akin for positions hard-right voters heartily endorse.) Akin won the primary, then his candidacy imploded when he claimed that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Is someone trying to make a new Todd Akin from scratch, on McCaskill's behalf? Is this some other kind of performance art? I can't tell -- but I don't think it's legit.

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