Friday, April 28, 2017

Professional Left Podcast #386

"Happy Alinsky Day Comrade!"  
-- driftglass


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The Memory Hole is Deep. The Memory Hole is Wide.

This is not the biggest or most important thing you will read today, but it did catch my attention a couple of days ago and nagged at me enough to note it for posterity.

You remember this guy?  Ari Fleischer?  The "Baghdad Bob" of the failed Bush Administration?  Well instead to eking out a character-building career re-soling shoes in a minimum security prison somewhere, Mr. Fleischer -- like so many other disgraced Bush-regime dead enders -- quickly made the profitable transition from the willing instrument of the worst president in modern history to Respected Cable News Contributor without so much as a single hour spent in "You fucking fuckers, people died because of you" purgatory.

So what is Mr. Ari Fleischer up to, you ask?

Well, a couple of days ago he showed up on the virtually-unwatchable discredited late night washed-up pundit kaffeeklatsch on MSNBC called "The 11th Hour" to explain that the nation desperately needed are giant, unpaid for tax cuts for millionaire and billionaires because, "we've had low growth -- 1 to 2 percent for the last 8-10 years".

What Mr. Fleicher and, sadly, everyone else on the panel would very much rather not talk about, is what the shape of job growth over the "last 8-10 years" actually looked like this.

See all those bars in red?  That was the collapse of the global economy.

You might have read about it. It was in many newspapers.

Hollywood even made several movies about it, some of which were pretty good.

It was called the Great Recession: a disaster which was presided over by Mr. Fleicher's former boss, George W. Bush, and which President Obama worked relentlessly to dig us out of despite the unceasing lockstep obstruction and sabotage of Mr. Fleicher's Republican party.

And speaking of the Failed Bush Administration, does anyone remember how the last Republican president kicked off his failed administration?

That's right!

He rammed through giant, unpaid for tax cuts for millionaire and billionaires, because giant, unpaid for tax cuts for millionaire and billionaires were our nation's only defense against the terrible budget surplus that the Clinton Administration had managed to accrue despite the unceasing lockstep obstruction and sabotage of Mr. Fleicher's Republican party.

When asked after the Iraq War where he got his bullshit "facts" from, the original Baghdad Bob replied that he had "authentic sources—many authentic sources" and that, however outlandish and absurd his lies might have been, he "was a professional, doing his job".

And every night in Americas, dozens of highly-paid cable news hacks lull themselves to sleep by telling themselves exactly the same thing.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

100 Days

Tom Waits Friday is taking a break this week.  Substituting will be Ms. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

See if you can guess why :-)
I had a man
Tell me things
Made me feel
Just like a queen
And I thought
He was the one
I would hold
Oh yes I did
But one day
I looked around
That old man
Was nowhere to be found
100 days for this heart to unfold

From New York Magazine:
The Failure of Trump’s First 100 Days Is a Win for America

This weekend marks the end of President Trump’s first 100 days — a chance to evaluate not only his progress (or lack thereof), but how the nation will change under a Trump administration. What are the early signs of the changes he’s brought to Washington, to our understanding of politics and political journalism, and to our sense of civic engagement?  
As someone is writing every ten minutes now, Trump’s first hundred days have been marked by no major achievements beyond the successful nomination of a Supreme Court justice. Every other attempt to do something big has been shot down by a Republican-controlled Congress or the courts. Even by his own campaign yardstick his administration is thus far a failure. While the White House busily promotes the sheer number of executive orders the president has signed since January 20, a Washington Post fact-checker found that of the 60 promises candidate Trump made in his self-proclaimed “contract” with Americans, he has kept five, broken five, and taken no action on 34 others. In other words, that “contract” has roughly the same value as a diploma from Trump University: It’s a scam designed to bamboozle a credulous public while he and his family pick its pockets. Kleptocracy — surfacing everywhere from State Department web sites tasked with promoting Mar-a-lago to a tax proposal that benefits Trumps and Kushners über alles — remains the only consistent ideology at this White House...

The Gingrich Rules: Privilege Has Its Memberships

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Newton Leroy Gingrich ("Advocate of civilization, Definer of civilization, Teacher of the Rules of Civilization, Arouser of those who Fan Civilization, Organizer of the pro-civilization activists, Leader (Possibly) of the civilizing forces", LLC) is now wholly a creation of the American political media.  Because there is no reason on God's Earth why this lying, disgraced bigot and adulterous hypocrite of the first water who has not held elected office since Power Rangers in Space was cancelled could exist as a public person in any venue if someone upstairs was not pulling stings on his behalf.

The fact that American corporate media was stakehorsing ("A financial backer who covers the gambling losses of a pool player in exchange for some percentage of the winnings.") this grifting fraud for the last 20 years --

-- became so obvious and the pattern of their collusion became so predictable that I started documenting it under the heading of "The Gingrich Rules".

You might have read about it once or twice :-)
In the game of professional punditry there also clearly exists a special set of rules designed with one person on mind.  Or, rather, one sort of person: Conservatism's parade of bomb-throwing, hate-mongering, race-baiting bottom feeders.  That breed which makes their daily bread from grifting the Pig People by generating an endless flood of books, magazine articles, broadcasts, speeches and videos all telling the GOP base over and over again that them their bigotries are noble and their paranoia is patriotic.

Of course, part of the downside of wallowing in the wingnut sewer and trafficking in slander and lies is that, sooner or later, you become a toxic mess.  Your stink becomes unacceptable to the general public, which s where the Sunday morning talk shows -- the Mouse Circus -- comes in.   Because despite having long ago devolved into a sinkhole of Beltway centrist twaddle, it is still viewed by altogether too many people as a bastion of Very Serious people -- it's the strip-mall of political opinion where casual shoppers go to feel smart and validated.

And so a bargain is struck; the bottom feeders deliver a temporary hike in the only thing these show's owners really care about -- audience share -- and, in exchange for being teevee friendly and keeping the worst of their batshit crazy on a leash for a few minutes, their Mouse Circus deburrs the bottom feeders' public image, replates and burnishes their credibility and temporarily transfuses them with Seriousness, which can then be redeemed at ten times its face value back among the Pig People.

And in the key to that bargain we find "The Gingrich Rules":  an agreement that the moderator will never, ever ask the bomb-throwing, hate-mongering, race-baiting goon sitting directly across from them a single question about their bomb-throwing, hate-mongering or race-baiting activities.  Instead they will be represented to the public merely as a Conservative commentator or talk radio host or pundit who, at worst, might be known for some "controversial" opinions, which the moderator will never bothers to explicate...

I see now that at least one of the reasons the American corporate media kept dunking Gingrich's career in the Lazarus Pit and bringing it back life over and over again was the same reason that doomsday preppers stockpile seeds and ammunition.  So if SHTF Day ever came and a racist halfwit orange Republican fire demon was ever elected president, Gingrich would be ready and waiting to be swept into his orbit, thus giving the American corporate media a ready-made "insider" who was already beholden to them and who would obligingly dispense quotable quotes on demand.

And guess what!

How Newt Gingrich became the go-to interview for every story about the Trump White House

Donald Trump is everything to Newt Gingrich.

He’s “the grizzly bear in ‘The Revenant,’ ” he told HuffPost; a “pirate” willing to get things done outside the system he proclaimed to Fox News; and a shrewd businessman who “likes to invest in winners because they make more money,” he said to the New York Times. He “resembles [Margaret] Thatcher much more than [Ronald] Reagan,” “channels” Andrew Jackson and is “the most divisive president since Lincoln.”

Trump is also — perhaps most importantly to a man who has not held elected office since 1999 but who still wants to be in the mix — the reason Gingrich’s phone keeps ringing off the hook, and why his speaking fees have gone through the roof.

In a time when everyone is trying to figure out what’s going on in the mind and administration of our president, Gingrich has become one of the hottest dial-a-quotes around. He’s dished on palace intrigue in the pages of the Times, discussed Trump’s 2020 reelection chances with George Stephanopoulos and talked presidential television habits with The Washington Post.

“[Trump] is very attuned to the fact that cable networks have 24 hours a day that they need to fill,” he told The Post. “And if you’re interesting, you are gold.”

“Newt really is a strategic visionary,” said Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to the president. “Many people in the White House call him a friend.” He talks regularly, she said, with her, chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Jared Kushner. He’s known Vice President Pence a long time and has a handful of former staffers working in various departments in and around the White House.

And while Gingrich may have initially wanted a role in the administration, life is pretty good for him on the outside. His speaking fees have reportedly gone up $15,000 per speech (for events west of Chicago, Politico reported, he is asking for $75,000 plus first-class travel for two). He’s writing a book due out in June called “Understanding Trump.” And he says he can be more candid in interviews than if he worked officially with the administration...
Obvious rapacious hucksters like Newt Gingrich find a safe and nurturing environment within the American political media for the same reason that clowns and flakes and demagogues and Jeffrey Lord and Hugh Hewitt and Boris Epshteyn prosper within the same media midden pile.  Because they are needed for the media to keep their freak show running.

I'd say there's a revolving door between naked political pimping and network punditing, but as the case of Corey Lewandowski amply demonstrates, there is no door at all anymore.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ann Coulter Does Not Understand Big Words

The first five words of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution are as follows
"Congress shall make no law..."
However Ann Coulter --  who scammed a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1988 -- believes the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was created so that she could vomit her vile crap on Berkeley's dime:


Congress shall make no law.

When the Congress passes a law snuffing out this loathsome gorgon's right to free speech, get back to me.  Until then the fate of this loathsome gorgon is irrelevant to me.  She is a human disease vector and anyone who giver her career oxygen is complicit in killing our country.

Because Ann Coulter is not stupid.

Ann Coulter is evil.  She's been evil for decades.  She is a 100% known quantity.

And people with power who know better keep giving this loathsome gorgon a platform, because it draws a mob, which is what they want.

We should know who these people are.

We should know their names.

We should know how to get in touch with them should we wish to register our displeasure.

In Case You Wondered Why Our Pundit$ Never $tray From The Both $ide$ Party Line...

But they're not a "group", Mr. Dowd.

As I patiently explained back in 2009 as Bush regime dead-enders were frantically rebranding themselves as "independents" to avoid being held accountable for all of the shit they had talked for eight long years, they're what Kurt Vonnegut called a Granfalloon.

A "...proud and meaningless association of human beings".

And telling them fairy tales that cater to their delusions and self-regard is clearly the most secure and profitable scam in journalism.

On Letting The Clown Out Of The Box

For almost a quarter of century, a basic tenet of all Conservative media from The Weekly Standard to Fox News to Hate Radio to Breitbart has been the relentless delegitimization and demonization of the press, of Liberals, and of any president with a (D) after their name who attempts in any way to govern as a Democrat.

For almost than a quarter of century, the response from the corporate press has been one craven attempt after another to mollify to Right by joining right in with the hippie punching or, once the Bush Administration imploded completely and vindicating the Left, to deflect and diffuse blame from the Right by Both Sidering the shit out of every Republican lie, betrayal, hypocrisy and crime against democracy.

In other words, to protect their paychecks, the corporate media made a corporate decision to let the wingnut clown out of the box and feed you and me and the rest Left to it decades ago.

And now that the clown is in the White House with it's finger on the nuclear button and has turned on these collaborators, I really can't think of one single reason why I should shed one single tear for them.

Today In Both Sides Do It: Matthew Dowd

Welcome to the Beltway, where there is absolutely no difference between Bush and Trump dead-enders and Obama and Clinton supporters.

Remind me again when the Bush war crimes and impeachment hearings were held.

Remind me again which war Obama lied us into and then botched beyond repair.

I could go on with another hundred examples and not even scratch the surface, but since I've already written literally thousands of posts on that subject and because here is so much cartoonishly wrong packed into this little slice of stupid, it's really not worth unpacking this any further other than to say, if you want to know pretty much everything about why our media is broken beyond repair, you need look no further than ABC New's chief political analyst.

Now, for an encore, watch carefully as Matthew Dowd makes eight straight years of lockstep obstruction and sabotage of everything the Obama Administration tried to do -- up to and including Republicans filibustering their own bills -- magically disappear. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Today In Both Sides Do It: Matthew Dowd

Apparently the main qualifications for being ABC New's chief political analyst is that sleeping through the 1990s and the 2000s and then being found, still asleep, under a cabbage leaf, with Ron Fournier's dick in your ear?

Why is it folks who engineered and enabled the most catastrophic presidency in modern history (BT: Before Trump) still have jobs spouting their idiotic opinions in front of a camera anywhere?

Jane Addams: Land of Contrasts

Before blowing off his New York Times gig once and for all, piling into the RV with his former-mistress-and-soon-to-be new wife and hitting the road to tour American lecturing the hoi polloi  on the importance of humility and civility, Mr. David Brooks has a few loose ends to tidy up.

First, of course, he need to find a good home for Moral Hazard, the Irish setter Mr. Brooks' owns for photo-op purposes (h/t Charlie Pierce.)  There are many candidates for the honor, but Vegas odds makers currently give Mr. Bret Stephens the inside track.  Mr. Stephens appears to have the right Brooksian mixture of horror at the existence of President Stupid and sanguinity about the grotesque Conservative ideology that led directly to President Stupid that will keep New York's most influential plutocrat shut-ins happy in their dotage.

Second, he needs to he need to find a good home for Mark Shields, the superannuated garrulous Irish "liberal" from 1966 that PBS keeps on hand to make Mr. Brooks' appear reasonable and to make sure no one asks Mr. Brooks about his habit of being completely wrong about everything

And third, he needs to finally turn in that god damn book report on Jane Addams that's been hanging over his head since the 7th grade!  You know, there always seemed like there'd be plenty of time to get around to it but now, on the brink of what might be his greatest adventure in hectoring the poors about their moral failings, it's really time to get that shit nailed down.  After all, if he retroactively flunks the 7th grade, that might retroactively get his application to the University of Chicago rejected, which means that they might retroactively rescind his bachelors degree in history.   And without that bachelors degree in history from 1983 to qualify him as America's Most Ubiquitous and Respected Conservative Public Intellectual...well the consequences of that are simply to terrifying to think about.

For want of a nail the kingdom was lost and so forth.

And so, with all deliberate speed, America's Most Ubiquitous and Respected Conservative Public Intellectual has once again used his column in the New York times to circumnavigate completely around the grim, mind-blowing cliusterfuckery of President Stupid and instead check another item off of his personal to-do list.

Can you figure out which one?  (Hint:  If you guessed, "Jane Addams:  Land of Contrasts -- by Davey Brooks, age 13" get yourself a beer!  And as long as you're up, get one for me!)
The Jane Addams Model

These days everything puts me in mind of Jane Addams. Many of the social problems we face today...
Yes!  Yes!  The social problems.  In these modern times.  And so forth.
Addams was born to an affluent family in Cedarville, Ill., in 1860...
Cedarville!  Really?  You are fucking kidding me.  Wow!  Tell me more!
In her teenage years, she earnestly set to reading — “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Plutarch’s “Lives,” “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” — but in her twenties she was one of those young people who don’t get to themselves quickly. They spend years in study and in acquiring degrees with a vague sense they are preparing for something...
For a 7th grade book report, you are killin' Mr. Brooks!
Addams took a Grand Tour of Europe and found herself in a vegetable market...
Europe you say?  Really?  The one in Europe?
In London, she visited a place called Toynbee Hall, a settlement house where rich university men organized social gatherings with the poor in the same way they would organize them with one another... 
As today, it was a time when the social fabric was being torn by technological change...
They had technology too? Fuck!  They were so much like us in so many ways!  I gotta hear more more about this old timey technology and shit!
For example, Addams thought it was especially important to put immigrant adults into the role of teachers, because it affords “a pleasant change from the tutelage in which all Americans, including their own children, are so apt to hold them.”
Please remember to cite your sources, Mr. Brooks.  We've talked about this.  In high school your teachers are not going to be nearly as forgiving with your sloppiness as I am.  
Our antipoverty efforts tend to be systematized and bureaucratized, but Hull House was intensely personalistic...
You're right.  Things suck now.  They suck azz!  So when are you going to get back to the old timey technology?  I'm dying to know how the olds could tell time without FitBits and Samsung.  
Addams had amazing capacity to work from the specific case to the general philosophy...
Listen up kids, because I want to to say one word to you -- just one word -- about how to pad out a shitty book report to the minimum required length.  

Are you listening?  


In her day, like our own, public life was dominated by manly men ...
I have no idea what the fuck this even means, but I'm getting the impression that we're actually not going to hear about the marvels and menace of turn-of-the-century technology.  Which is a pity, because anything along those lines written by any half-awake 7th grader would be infinitely superior to this demonstration of the absurdity of the NYT's "Fuck you, I can turn in literally anything and get away with it" op-ed policy.  
Addams was certainly political, but she defended the primacy of the “woman’s” sphere...
Yes, Jane Addams truly was...

...a Land of Contrasts!