Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down



The Sunday Shows are a racket.

A carnival freak show.

And like any other freak show, it needs side-show attraction to lure in the marks so they can sell their real products; penis pills, Exxon, the patriotism of Boeing and the Received Wisdom of our Beltway Elite.

This week, our carnival's geek in the cage biting the heads off of chickens was a dementor from the Brietbart Collective named John Nolte who was put on Meet the Press in what I can only assume was part of our entertainment industry's extended capitulation to North Korean ransom demands.  

And our  dog-faced boy was Senator Marco Rubio, who spent The Lord's Day admonishing the Kenyan Usurper through every microphone in Christendom that he and everyone who sided with him on Cuba were terribly naughty tyrant coddlers.  Which is so very strange considering how eagerly the boy-Senator from the swamps of Florida is willing to lay out the good foreign policy china for that other two-syllable Communist dictatorships which start with a "C" and end with an "A"
Marco Rubio’s China Problem
at 7:36 pm Friday, December 22, 2014 
His Chinese government paid staff junket this year may not be his biggest China problem…

Rubio’s comments on human rights and confirming the US Ambassador to China:
Rubio: “Well as you do take that issue back, I think you’ll find broad consensus on this committee and I hope in the administration, that our embassy should be viewed as an ally of those within Chinese society that are looking to express their fundamental rights to speak out and to worship freely, etc.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Today In "Both Sides Do It": Who's The Leader Of The Mob That's Made For You And Me


You know what's broken?

"Congress" is broken.

Which is very sad!

I had a tour of the place back when I was in Junior High and cool shows like Columbo were still on teevee.  Back then, "Congress" looked very impressive, but apparently now it's just a shithole full of back actors and noble-citizens in the thrall of bad actors.

So why can't we, as Americans, have nice things like Columbo or "Congress" anymore?

Well, Peter Falk is dead, so we I suppose we can chalk the nonexistence of new episodes of "Columbo" to that.  Also they have reruns of "Columbo" on nostalgia teevee every now and then, so I guess we're really in no immediate danger of a national "Columbo" shortage.

But what about "Congress", where death and reruns cannot save us?  Why can't we unfuck that mess up?

And more importantly, does it make you feel better knowing that nationally syndicated former Bush Administration Employee Michael Gerson cries himself to sleep at night, asking an indifferent universe this very question?
Many American institutions — starting with the House and Senate, and extending to the manner in which we tax ourselves, fight poverty, care for the old and educate the young — are in disrepair. This must be recognized and confronted.
Hear, hear, former Bush Administration Employee!  Well said!  And do you have anything else to say in the subject?
America is in desperate need of a politics of repair, not a politics of demolition and rebuilding. We need leaders who take populist discontent seriously but direct it toward projects of practical reform.


America’s distrust of institutions is a fact. But it is a problem, not a goal. The proper response is the renovation of institutions that allow us to live a decent, compassionate, orderly life together...
Amen!  Our civic institutions have indeed been slashed, slandered and otherwise fucked into a cocked hat.  So in the spirit of moving recognition and confrontation, let us compose ourselves, find a comfortable divan on which to sit, and listen attentively to nationally syndicated former Bush Administration Employee Michael Gerson explain how exactly things went from functional to bedlam since the good old days of Columbo...

Silence...

Crickets...

Tumbleweeds fill the Universe...

Because that line of questioning quickly leads to the  terrible political truth which the entire Beltway media has sworn a blood-oath to never mention.  That Rove which dares not speak its name.

See, it was Mr. Gerson's political party which killed comity on purpose in this country.  It was Mr. Gerson's political party which built its future on institutionalizing, industrializing and televising lies and madness.   It was Mr. Gerson's political party that was perfectly content to ride the monster they had created as long as the monster did what it was told.

But their monster turned on them -- as monsters will -- and ate Congress.

Which is very sad!

So instead of the truth, what we get from former Bush Administration Employee Michael Gerson is  -- surprise! -- an indictment of...
 "...the populist wings of both political parties".
Yay!

Sure populism can be tasty, naughty fun, and when administered by Serious People in tiny, harmless, doses, Republican hacks like former Bush Administration Employee Michael Gerson need never worry about being ripped from their decadent nests and cast out into the cold world.  But (warns Mr. Gerson) if you add more than a teaspoon of populism to the toxic swamp of Beltway Establishmentarian Wisdom where Mr. Gerson lives and works --



-- grave and terrible consequences will ensue:
But some populists thrive on further delegitimizing institutions. They use Congress as a stage for their anger, not as an instrument of reform. They set unattainable goals that encourage political alienation. They adopt a conspiratorial mindset, in which systems are not just broken but rigged by scheming opponents. They demand to do “something,” but end up doing things that serve narrow political and fundraising goals.
And who are the leaders of the mob that's made for you and me?

C'mon, it's Michael Gerson. You know who he's going to blame.


On the Right, Ted Cruz, the ambulatory manifestation of 40 years of carefully cultivated Conservative rage and paranoia:
The challenge from the populist right is now familiar, but it is far from spent. Conservatives offended by the omnibus — and even more offended by Obama’s immigration executive order — wanted to do something. This is often the whole substance of conservative strategy: “do something.” 
After blowing up the Senate process and disrupting the travel plans of their colleagues, Cruz and company demanded a point-of-order vote on whether Obama’s executive order was constitutional. Only 22 senators supported it.
On the Left, Elizabeth Warren, the personification of Liberal intelligence and compassion:    
The open revolt of the populist left is more novel. In this case, it was a rebellion against a sitting Democratic president, joined by former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, forcing the White House to conduct a last-minute scramble for votes. The main provision at issue was the swaps “push-out” rule of the Dodd-Frank financial services reform bill. But Warren used the occasion to throw a large rock into the Democratic pond. The ripples radiate.
Because this is the prime directive function of our Beltway Media: to deliberately misdirect any meaningful conversation about the disaster our politics has become into a meaningless parroting of the Both Sides lie.

This is why no Columbo's are allowed anywhere near the Beltway Media clubhouse.  Because if the good lieutenant excelled at one thing, it was quickly dispensing with the distractions and sham alibis of the real villains and moving patiently and inexorably in for the kill:


Friday, December 19, 2014

Professional Left Podcast #263



Introduced again by Kevin's splendid promo video.
"Frances is turning out to be the Cory Booker of Popes"
-- driftglass




Links:
Da' money goes here:



Today In "Both Sides Do It": People Who Live in Stephen Glass Houses



When I saw an article entitled "Liberalism, Conservatism, Skepticism" for a fleeting moment I thought perhaps it would be a confessional covering three of the things about which Andrew Sullivan knows shit-all.

But I was wrong.

Instead, this:
Liberalism, Conservatism, Skepticism

Thanks to the Washington Post, Tom Maguire and Hanna Rosin, we have a glimpse of what might have actually happened to UVA’s “Jackie”:

A group of Jackie’s close friends, who are advocates at U-Va. for sex-assault awareness, said they believe that something traumatic happened to her, but they also have come to doubt her account. A student who came to Jackie’s aid the night of the alleged attack said in an interview late Friday night that she did not appear physically injured at the time but was visibly shaken and told him and two other friends that she had been at a fraternity party and had been forced to have oral sex with a group of men. They offered to get her help and she said she just wanted to return to her dorm, said the student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

That’s a horrific story, if it pans out. The failure of the school to investigate more assiduously remains salient. The climate for young women on a campus where many readily believed the gang-rape-broken-glass-“grab it by its leg” version does not cease to be a pressing issue. The truth could be damning enough.

So why did an inflammatory, lurid, and apparently fallacious story get into print – with only one source and no corroboration – breaking most basic journalistic rules in a serious publication? Rich Bradley is surely right: it was a too-good-to-check story that echoed what many truly wanted to hear.
...
So far, so good.

But then comes the inevitable razor in the apple (emphasis added):
...Questioning it was like questioning whether Saddam Hussein actually did have WMDs – it seems as if you are excusing an evil figure, or being terminally na├»ve, or minimizing the danger. We believe what we want to believe – and, in our public debates, we also keep searching for the perfect anecdote or fact or story to refute our opponents for good and all.

Both sides do this. Republicans couldn’t accept the already-damning and uncontested facts about Benghazi – that the danger to the consulate was under-estimated, security was lax, and people died as a consequence. They had to make the story fit a bigger narrative – of treachery and betrayal at the highest levels, a story that could dispatch Obama and Clinton in one news cycle swoop. And so they have made an ass of themselves as much as Rolling Stone has....
This was followed by a seven-course, self-congratulatory feast of junk commentary and back door brag --



-- about something something The New Republic and how awesome it is that the World's Greatest Blogger is continuing the Noble Tradecraft he learned at the feet of the masters:
...
This is why liberalism matters as much as progressivism, which is on my mind a little as the demise of TNR has sunk in. For many, TNR’s legacy of airing internal dissent, its controversial questioning of progressive shibboleths, its inclusion of some conservatives in its ranks, its constant sallies against liberals as well as conservatives, and its airing of taboo subjects, make it a risibly racist/sexist/homophobic/classist institution that deserves to die. I dissent. What it long represented was the spirit of liberalism in the American tradition – a spirit of fearless inquiry, serious argument, and a concern for the truth. That TNR failed in some of these attempts does not damn it. Not to try to confront feelings with reason, or ideology with fact is a far worse inclination. ...

We try to do that every day here at the Dish – because, in part, I was trained and influenced and formed by some of the best minds in this great liberal tradition in American letters, and because I have tried to learn from my own errors. It isn’t easy and it isn’t fool-proof. But that tradition must not die; or, sooner rather than later, our democracy will.
For which Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates provided a crisp, palate cleansing anti-acid gargle here:
...
I have never quite been able to judge the effect of literature or journalism on policy, but I know that in my field, if you had dreams of having a career, you had to contend with TNR. My first editor at The Atlantic came from TNR, as did the editor of the entire magazine. More than any other writer, TNR alum Andrew Sullivan taught me how to think publicly. More than any other opinion writer, Hendrik Hertzberg taught me how to write with "thickness," as I once heard him say...
...

During the culture wars of the '80s and '90s, TNR regarded black people with an attitude ranging from removed disregard to blatant bigotry. When people discuss TNR's racism, Andrew Sullivan's publication of excerpts from Charles Murray's book The Bell Curve (and a series of dissents) gets the most attention. But this fuels the lie that one infamous issue stands apart. In fact, the Bell Curve episode is remarkable for how well it fits with the rest of TNR's history.

... The personal attitude of TNR's longtime owner, the bigoted Martin Peretz, should be mentioned here. Peretz's dossier of racist hits (mostly at the expense of blacks and Arabs) is shameful, and one does not have to look hard to find evidence of it in Peretz's writing or in the sensibility of the magazine during his ownership. In 1984, long before Sullivan was tapped to helm TNR, Charles Murray was dubbing affirmative action a form of "new racism" that targeted white people.

...And when I think of TNR's history, when I flip through Insurrections, when I examine the magazine's archives, I am not so much angry as I am sad. There really was so much fine writing in its pages. But all my life I have had to take lessons from people who, in some profound way, cannot see me. TNR billed itself as the magazine for iconoclasts. But its iconoclasm ended exactly where everyone else's does—at 110th Street. Worse, TNR encouraged incuriosity about what lay beyond the barrier. It told its readers that my world was welfare cheats, affirmative-action babies, and Jesse Jackson. And that white people—or any people—would be urged to such ignorance by their Harvard-bred intellectual leadership is deeply sad.
Let that sink in for a minute, and then lets circle back to this business of UVA being sorta kinda exactly like Benghaaazi and how is it the solemn doody of our Thought Leaders like Mr. Sullivan to pound the their Mighty Thought Leader Hammer of Skepticism on Important Things...and to be especially skeptical of those things which they want to believe more than anything else:
I think the lesson is to be more skeptical of things you want to believe than of almost anything else.
Really?

So what if what you want to believe more than anything else is the lie that Both Sides Do It?

Should you be whanging away at that shibboleth with your Mighty Thought Leader Hammer of Skepticism harder than ever?

Because, as bad as the Rolling Stone fuck-up was, and as terrible as it is that it has given a shot of adrenaline to the degenerate Right, the I was not aware that the UVA case had been the subject of ... what is it now? ... Six?  Seven?  Eight separate congressional witch hunts?  In which witnesses were put under oath?  Testimony taken?  Much of it live on teevee?

I was did not know that an entire network and an entire political party had given itself wholly over to  the UVA case and had planned on running it wall-to-wall as a political battering ram for over a year?

And perhaps someone could point out to me something on the Left that is in any way comparable to CBS's vertically integrated corporate pimping of Benghaaaazi?

The only lesson here is that homemade, Both Sides rotgut is potent stuff, but it tends to fuck up your memory.

And the hangover is pure hell.

The Killers



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ignis Fatuus

Above the decomposing corpse of the Party of Personal Responsibility, conspiratorial apparitions are constantly fizzing in and out of existence.  They bubble up from ancient, rotting Hate Radio talking points and the unquiet graves of the Southern Strategy, flare feebly to life, and then fall apart and slide feebly back into the Great Wingnut Swamp.

While these fool's fires burn, the denizens of the Great Wingnut Swamp follow them wherever they lead as zealously as any Wise Man from the East following the Star of David.  They point to each new apparition of bullshit and Fox News vapor as proof that their idiotic ideology is, in fact, the One True Faith.

And then, inevitably, it gutters out and goes away --
Report: Darren Wilson's Key Witness Lied About Everything 
In a damning new report by the Smoking Gun, a crucial witness in the grand jury deciding whether to indict former Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson is revealed as having fabricated her eyewitness account of the altercation between Wilson and unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. "Witness 40," identified as 45-year-old Sandra McElroy, has a documented history of racist remarks, criminal behavior, and mental illness.
-- leaving behind the same stink of racism and willful ignorance that the last dozen, collapsed wingnut conspiracies left in their wake.

But here's the thing.  The real story here is not that -- surprise! -- the Right's entire narrative and the prosecutor's entire kangaroo court hinged on the unhinged ramblings of some mentally ill liar.

The real story here is that no matter how many times the Right's ridiculous fairy tales fall apart, it has no effect whatsoever on their disposition or their worldview.

They will go right on clinging to the lie du jour like a dog hanging on to the last bone on Earth right up until it disintegrates completely.  Then they will actively seek out the next, comforting lie and fall for it just as hard,

And the next.

And the next.

And the next.

The real story is that there is no point in this cycle at which the Right ever becomes amenable to reason -- no point at which they will look in the mirror and feel a flicker of shame or a twinge of remorse.

Like old junkies, they got hooked on a steady diet of lies long ago, and unless they are forced to quit, they will go right on feeding that monkey and destroying this country until they day they die.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down




"I saw Satan laughing with delight,

the day, the music, died." Edition *

No, I did not watch Richard Bruce "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter" Cheney on Luke Russert's Dad's Memorial Tree Fort today because there is no lead-infused nuclear blast goggles thick enough through which one can safely observe that rancid bag of flag-swaddled evil when his blood-drunk madness at full boil.

But the gist of it was, apparently, we want Dick Cheney on that wall.

We need Dick Cheney on that wall.



And Dick Cheney has neither the time nor the inclination to explain himself to you because:
Waterboarding is not torture.
And because:
[The Torture Report is] a cheap shot piece of political business that was not bipartisan nor was it involved any discussion of the people involved in the program.
And because:
I have little respect for the United Nations or for this individual who doesn't hear a clue and had absolutely no responsibility for safeguarding this nation and going after the bastards that killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11.
And because:
There's no pardon needed. No crime was committed.
And because:
Saddam Hussein had previously had twice nuclear programs going. He produced and used weapons of mass destruction. And he had a ten-year relationship with Al Qaeda. All of things came into play... When it was time to get into the business of deciding the importance to go after Iraq, we did the right thing. I believe the it was, in fact, the right action then and I believe it now.
 Of course what should have happened, did not happen:


Because this isn't Hollywood.

This is the real world.

And here in this very real world -- in this country, at this time -- we give our monsters the run of the place. We let them have their own teevee networks, their own publishing houses and newspapers, their own churches, their own political party and to them is ceded around 70% of the on-camera real estate during what I took to calling The Mouse Circus 10 years ago when I started writing down what I was seeing on our national Sunday Morning Gasbag cavalcade.

The deal which Conservative struck with the devil long ago was really very simple; in exchange for giving their leaders money and power and unswerving fealty, the rank-and-file were forever relieved of the burden on admitting error of any kind, ever.  They would never have to suffer pangs of conscience...because their conscience would be methodically cauterized.  By excising their basic humanity, they would never again be forced to apologize or atone for a fucking thing...and and never, ever have to own up to the fact that Liberals have been right about their filthy "movement" all along.   in exchange for the right to never, ever admit they were wrong about anything,

And so, with the perfect totalitarian logic, we arrive now at that place where, in order to protect the Big Lie by which they live, Conservatives must now actively celebrate sadism and torture,  They must cheerfully dance around the rack and the gibbet as they were maypoles, and they'd fucking well better mean it or the magic will not work,

Conservatives have made themselves into the perfect, mindless tools for the annihilation of everything they pretend to hold dear, and they did it voluntarily, with their eyes wide open.  They did it without one of them ever being waterboarded a hundred times or twisted and manacled to a dungeon ceiling for days on end.  

In the other hand, I would be willing to bet real money that if Dick Cheney were suspended naked and freezing from the ceiling in shackles, forced to shit himself, repeatedly waterboarded and occasionally beaten with, oh, say, a claw hammer, eventually he would sign a piece of paper making a very sincere and detailed confession reversing everything he just said on Meet the Press and, if told to do so by his torturers, take the blame for the assassination of John Lennon and a head of state to be named later.

Because forcing someone to say exactly what you want them to say is the only function of torture.

After Cheney slouched off in the general direction of Bethlehem the studio crew Febreezed the worst of the sulfur and brimstone out of the air, one of the Bush Administration's most accomplished sociopath -- Dan "Baghdad Bob" Senor -- was invited on camera to prove to viewers once more time that, in D.C., there really are no professional consequences whatsoever for Conservatives liars.

And just like David Brooks, Mr. Senor squared his shoulders and bulldozed right past the mountains of inconvenient facts -- right past the simple, self-evident horror of what the Bush Administration had done -- so that he could quickly plop every Conservative talking point onto the table, 1...2...3...

See, The Torture Program was actually awesome!
DAN SENOR: Well, look, I think the actual program, the integrity of the program, the report does not actually produce anything that undermines it.
However, even though The Torture Program was awesome, talking about it gravely imperils ourbravefightingmenandwomen! (about whom Mr. Senor never gave a single shit while the Bush Administration was getting them slaughtered in their hundreds during Operation Enduring Clusterfuck):
DAN SENOR: It's one thing to release the report. It's another thing to release those graphic details, those very vivid descriptions which I do think will have implications for American fighting men and women overseas in the battlefield to provide that fodder for our enemies that, you know.
And in flawless unison with every other Bush Regime dead-ender from David Brooks to Gretchen Carlson...What About The Droooooones?
DAN SENOR: No, you know what we have been doing? We've been using drones to blow up terror operatives--and their families at picnics and weddings...
The Citibank Reacharound Act of 2014 got virtually no coverage, and what there was amounted to nothing more than another absurd round of the Beltway's favorite decadent parlor game:  False Equivalence.   In this week's episode, the Citibank Reacharound Act of 2014 was used as a vehicle to demonstrate that Elizabeth Warren is really pretty much just the Left's version of Ted Cruz:

After which everyone jumped into Mrs. Alan Greenspan's vintage 1931 Isotta Fraschini and drove down to the track, where they all took turns drinking champagne from the hollow place where Dan Senor's should should be, while betting other people's money on presidential horses which do not exist yet, in a race which will not be run for two years.

Over at Crooks and Liars, they have irrefutable evidence that still more monsters roam unfettered, the Earth and are still able to get in front of an audience of millions whenever they feel like it.

And everywhere, the ceremony of innocence is drowned.

Because best lack all conviction, while the worst are still full of passionate intensity.

Because there is still a Club.

And you and I are most definitely not in it.


*If this sounds familiar, it's because I actually appropriated Mr. McLean's entire song back in 2005.  Which, when I looked it up, reminded me, jeez, I've been at this a long time.



Saturday, December 13, 2014

David Brooks: Conservatism's Red Right Hand



As more and more of Mr. Brooks' Conservative running buddies go full Hannibal Lecter in gleeful defense of torture as a vital tool in their Arsenal of Dumbocracy, Mr. Brooks continues to competently perform his specific role within the larger Conservative conspiracy: floating on a giant cloud of money far above every Conservative atrocity, deflecting the blame for it as efficiently as possible using whatever tactics are left in the Both Siderist' arsenal.

Before rolling up his sleeves to do Roger Ailes' dirty-work, however, Mr. Brooks had to first carefully insulate himself from any hint that he in a soulless, Conservative cipher who works the front parlor of the wingnut media whorehouse every bit as hard and profitably as Boss Limbaugh works its back alley. He does this by piously wrinkling his nose and speak briefly and in the most Blandly Passive Voice in America about the obvious horror of what was done by an administration which he had backed right to the hilt:
...this aroused the moral sensibility. It’s very hard to read this report and not be morally outraged. And so that does have — that had a great effect.
Having tagged that base, Mr. Brooks was then left free to wander the countryside, caressing every single wingnut talking point entirely unmolested by Mr. Mark Shields, the Alan Colmes of the tote-bag-and-Civil-War-DVD crowd.

First on the menu, a standard-issue "Mah oh mah, its all so deucedly paaaahtisan" fainting-couch gambit:
I do have some sympathy for those who say the document was too partisan. It was written by Democratic staffers. It was done in a partisan way. I’m a little bothered, as a reporter, that they didn’t interview as many people as they should have.
Except, of course, Mr. Brooks has not been a "reporter" in any sense of the word since Christ was a corporal. But we cannot tarry in the sad garden of imaginary partisanship too long, or we'll miss Mr. Brooks' masterful deployment the "So are they all, all honorable men" defense --
I think the people who were involved — and we know this from the report — the people who were involved were appalled at the time, but sometimes they thought, you know, they are doing the right thing.
-- not seen in these parts since the time Mr. Brooks went under the table to "report" on the nobility of Scooter Libby's junk.
DAVID BROOKS: I went to lunch with Scooter Libby twice when he was -- and he told me...

JIM LEHRER: What were the dates of those?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, what struck me was, A, he told me nothing. I didn't even know what he was ordering half the time.

DAVID BROOKS: And he was incredibly discrete. And the second thing that always struck me is, he would pay in cash. Usually, you can buy somebody lunch if it's up to $20. But he would insist on following the law to the stickler of the detail. He would always put down a $20 bill.
Third, the incredibly lazy Mr. Brooks just snatches a leftover "But The Droooones!" turd roll right off the plate of Fox News "reporter" and professional Megyn Kelly "before" photo, Gretchen Carlson. Here is  Ms. Carlson (from If You Only News):
"...instead of bringing in terrorism suspects for questioning, President Obama has simply kills them, with drones. So is that more humane than waterboarding?"
And here is Mr. Brooks:
We kill people with drones. We’re killing people all the time with drones. Killing is probably worse than torture.
And finally and inevitably, having never set one pink toe outside of his own gated suburb and never vetted anything more substantial than the lint from his own belly button, Mr. Both Sides states with utterly unearned confidence that he knows exactly who is really to blame for these atrocities.

Surprise!  It's everybody!
It wasn’t just the CIA. It was the whole country. There was a lot of people, and a lot of people up the political chain, a lot of people in Congress, a lot of people in the public. And so we’re trying to rediscover our moral center.
But honestly, my laugh-out-loud moment came courtesy of the closing remark from show moderator, Judy Woodruff:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tough questions tonight.
Not by a million miles, Judy.

Not by a million miles.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Professional Left Podcast #262



Introduced again by Kevin's sweet promo video.
"A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody."
-- Thomas Paine




Links:
Da' money goes here:



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nononymous


In accordance with the Royal and Ancient Rules of Blogging, comments will, as always, remain open.  However we're going to try shutting off anonymous comments for awhile and see how that works.

So if you want to call me a douchbag, you're still free to do so, but you'll have to get yourself a fake ID.