Monday, July 28, 2014

Breaking! Both Sides Don't: Special David Brooks Edition



Longtime readers know that, ever since the collapse of the very profitable "Blame The Hippies for Bad News About Iraq" scam, David Brooks has scrambled to make himself the master of the "Both Sides Do It" scam.

And honestly, while there are a lot of contenders for the title clogging up our national arteries, no one does it better than Brooks.

Over the last decade, on issue after issue, Mr. Brooks has maintained such a monomaniacal fealty to bisecting every single fucking issue no matter what into two-sides, both equally wrong, that his "style" is now so far beyond predictable...so far beyond parody...that it has become a recognizable form of mental illness...
...you too can learn to write a New York Times Opinion Page Editorial just like America's Last Reasonable Conservative, David Brooks!

In just 10 Easy Steps you'll be punditting like a pro!
1) Pick a subject. Any subject. From Tasseled Loafers to Torture, it literally does not matter.

2) Quote extensively from one person or group on the subject. It's OK to just more-or-less copy and paste in big hunks of what whatever-you-happen-to-be-reading-at-the-moment to flesh out your 800-word column. Here at the Times we call that "research"!

3) Quote from some other person or group on the same subject who appears to hold a different opinion. If no actual opposition exists, just put on your Magic Green Jacket and invent an opposing opinion.

4) Although such is not the case with today's subject, as often as possible, try to impute these fictional distinctions to the different hemispheres of the political Universe. So no matter how bigoted, reckless or just bugfuck crazy the Right behaves, you just go right ahead and blandly assert with no supporting evidence whatsoever that the Left is equally and oppositely bad in exactly the same qualities and quantities. Here at the Times we call that "seriousness"!

5) Discover in your final paragraph or two that -- amazingly! -- the precise midpoint between those two completely artificial positions on an imaginary spectrum just happens to be exactly the Right and Reasonable answer!

Oh boy!

6) Rinse and repeat. No matter what the subject, no matter how false or bizarre the equivalence, just rinse and repeat. Twice a week.

7) Every week.

8) Year.

9) After year.

10) After year.
Long ago this stopped being a "style", and started being a fetish, Mr. Brooks

It's called "Asymmetriphobia": a horror of asymmetrical things.


Seek help.
From child sexual assault, to partisan gridlock, to the war in Iraq --
The Fog Over Iraq
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: January 11, 2007

If the Democrats don’t like the U.S. policy on Iraq over the next six months, they have themselves partly to blame. There were millions of disaffected Republicans and independents ready to coalesce around some alternative way forward, but the Democrats never came up with anything remotely serious...
-- David Brooks has methodically remade his career into a game of mindlessly parsing every single fucking issue into two sides.

Both equally wrong.

Every time.

Except...

Except, as it turns out, this is not 100% true.  There is, in fact, one issue on which David Brooks comes down squarely on the "One Side Right/ One Side Wrong" camp.

And that one issue is... (emphasis added):
HARI SREENIVASAN: What about his idea that the power of social media affecting perception? Has the political perception about this conflict shifted at all with the onslaught of images that we have all seen, whether it’s from one side or the other?

DAVID BROOKS: Right. 
Well, clearly, if you — if you measure things by body counts, then Israel has killed more, and so they look more vicious. And the people who are inclined to think poorly of Israel are hopping on that. I guess I’m more inclined to think positively of Israel. And I would say the moral calculus is not particularly even, that Hamas — and there’s been tons of media reporting on this — has put the site of the origin of the tunnels under hospitals in a dense residential area.

The missiles are being shot from dense residential areas. They’re inviting civilian casualties by what is clearly an immoral way of waging war, and that they’re — if you take into account, the moral calculus is uneven.

Is that the calculus that is accepted in the European press? No, of course not. And so Israel has faced this barrage of criticism, not from the American administration and not from some of the surprising people in the region, as I mentioned, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others.

But, at some point, you can’t govern by popularity. If you have got people mis — bombing you, if you have got all these missiles which cost a million dollars each to build, you have simply got to take care of those tunnels...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down



Today on Meet the Press,  Paul "Zombie=Eyed Granny Starver" Ryan, Bibi "Willie Pete" Netanyahu,  Charles "Chuck (D)" Schumer , Ted "I'll help you catch him, Clarice" Cruz, Judy "NPR House Mother" Woodruff,  David "Fucking" Brooks, Nia-Malika "Would you like a side of utterly two-dimensional conventional wisdom with that?" Henderson, Ruth "David Brooks with Lady Parts" Marcus, Kevin "Mr. Tibbles!" Tibbles gathered together to sit shiva for David Gregory's career.

Now some picky imaginary scholars have pointed out that you need ten warm bodies for a proper Beltway minyan, and "Meet the Press" only fielded nine (actually, opinions differ, but for the sake of argument just go with it.)  However those persnickety imaginary scholars forget that corporations are people my friend and, as has been true at "Meet the Gregory" since forever, Boeing sat right at the head of the table, proudly beaming at all of his children and footing the bill for the entire affair.

So no worries there.

Another group of equally imaginary but more careful and learned scholars have pointed out that the law technically requires Gregory's career to have been buried the same day it died. "His body shall not remain all night", the Book says (Deuteronomy 21:23).  However, while it has been technically dead for years, the dancing corpse of Mr. Gregory's career 


has been singularly unquiet for a freakishly long time and very hard to land a shovel of dirt on.

Thank goodness God forgives necessity.

Anyway, it was a lovely ceremony, with David Brooks on hand to say the traditional Centrist Prayer of Petulant Whining About the Extremes on Both Sides --
DAVID BROOKS:
I used to think the problem was Washington, I now think the problem is the country. The country is polarized. The people actually in the states have become more polarized. But also, it's a different attitude. Politics is a competition between half truths, usually both side of a piece of the truth. Take this immigration debate. You have these kids flowing across the border.

We've got to do two things at once. Give them humanitarian refuge, some of them, and also readjust this law that induces them to come over. So you've got to do two things. The Republicans want to readjust the law. The Democrats want to give them refuge. Somehow you can't say, "Okay, they're both kind of right. Let's just jam it into a bill." We don't have the mentality that allows each side to say, "You're both kind of right."
-- after which they all repaired to Denny's for a light lunch.

Also anyone wagered heavily in favor of the Conservative David Brooks being very confused about the actual, stark, life-destroying difference between something being "going to jail illegal" and something being "legal but frowned upon at Andrea Mitchell's cocktail parties" -- or the actual differences between heroin and pot and getting drunk at a titty bar -- please step to the betting window to collect your winnings:
DAVID BROOKS:
“The country is getting more libertarian on a lot of these issues. It’s ‘everyone should do what they want.’ But we’re part of a community, we’re part of a culture, we’re affected by each others’ views, each others’ values. To me, there’s some role of government in playing some role in restraining some individual choice, just to create a culture of health for teenagers.”
... 
DAVID GREGORY:
...Now to this week's big question, should marijuana be legal in the United States, the big questions I think could be a big debate this week. We talked about the merits of it, David, but your prediction-wise, do you think it's moving in that direction?

DAVID BROOKS:
Everybody says that. But if you look over history, the regulation of things like opiates, smoking, public drunkenness, it's really ebbed and flowed quite a while. And so it's not always just allowed more and more freedom. Sometimes there are just restrictions. You can't smoke the way you used to, you can't use opiates the way you used to, public drunkenness, much less acceptable.
Longtime observers of the Gregory Fiasco Experience know that Greggers is a perfect, passive delivery system for Conservative talking points: notable for never asking Republicans substantive followup questions no matter how much the situation begs for it, and reliably blunting any unpleasant intrusion of GOP perfidy and treason into his happy circle jerk with a "But Both Sides" roundhouse.

The other, less-well-known tool in Gregger's toolbox is his ability to obediently shift from Conservative messenger boy to full-on, Bill O'Reilly ambush goon without once coming within a mile of doing actual journalism. (h/t Raw Story and David at Crooks and Liars):


...
"The Israeli government has released videotape within the past hour, it was posted on YouTube, NBC News hasn't independently verified," Gregory explained to Gunness. "The Israelis say -- and I realize that you cannot see this video, our audience can, and I'm going to describe it to you -- that purports to show rockets being fired from a UN school."

As the host spoke, NBC played fuzzy black and white video of rockets being fired from buildings at an unknown location.

"Is this accurate?" Gregory asked. "Could this be happening without the UN's knowledge, that would only bolster the prime minister's point that, in fact, Hamas is using civilians, using the United Nations even in a kind of propaganda war."

Gunness found the notion that he was being made to respond to a unconfirmed video that he couldn't even see so ridiculous that he could barely contain laughter.

"Look, to be fair to me, to bring me on a live program and expect me to comment live on air on pictures I haven't actually seen, I think anyone looking at this program would agree that's really unfair," Gunness insisted. "I mean, if I can see it, I'll happily comment on it."

At the conclusion of the program, Gregory said that the United Nations had "confirmed that the video does not show rockets being fired from a UN-administrated school in Gaza."
Gregory moonwalked away from his latest, humiliating failure with this pathetic "correction" at the end of his nationally syndicated broadcast:
So this is a back and forth that we are not able to settle at this point.
Such an dutiful little helper.

Somebody give that boy a cookie.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ready For Eleanor


Because as long as the rest of the media is obsessed with ignoring the 2014 midterms and reducing the 2016 presidential race to a glorified fantasy football draft, why not run with that!

So help send Washington a message that We Need Eleanor Now More Than Ever in an emotionally satisfying but nonspecific and unmeasurable way by joining our cause with a $50 Silver Membership, $200 Gold Membership, $1,000 Platinum Membership or $10,000 Unobtainium Membership today!


What Andrew Sullivan Is Trying To Say Is..., Ctd.

Vanity_Fair

From Andrew Sullivan:
...
Like [Tom] Ricks, I don’t believe my general inclinations politically have changed that much over the years. I prefer smaller government in general; I too believe in a robust defense; I have few issues with the free market; I think marriage and family are critical social institutions; I’m still a believing Christian; I have deep qualms about abortion and abhor affirmative action; I’m a fiscal conservative; want radical tax reform, cuts in unfunded entitlements, and culturally, I’m a libertarian, with a traditionalist streak alongside radical tendencies (so, for example, I both love the Latin Mass and intend to go to Burning Man next month). I haven’t renounced my precocious devotion to Thatcher and Reagan, even as I have out-grown them, as the world has as well.

But I am now regarded as a leftist by much of the right and to some extent, they’re right...
What Mr. Sullivan has never come to terms with -- and will never come to terms with -- is the clear, damning and irrefutable lineage of American Conservatism.  The fact that the eggs which Reagan's Conservatism and Nixon's Southern Strategy laid in our body politic hatched, and all beasts that are now stalking the land and freaking out poor, academic, Beltway True Conservative fops like Mr. Sullivan are the result.

And the reason those beasts survived to adulthood is because, all along the way, people like Sullivan nursed them. Helped them find their legs.  Gave them intellectual cover as they grew to monstrous maturity.  And assisted them in building an impregnable Reality Denial grid fueled by hippie punching.

And now he is shocked and horrified that what Liberals have warned him about all along has turned out to be true.

I really don't care about Andrew Sullivan's deep thoughts on the constellation of subjects -- free markets, tax reform, race, affirmative action, abortion -- about which he clearly knows little or nothing.

And there exists no subatomic level of fuck small enough to encompass how little I care about all the many exciting ways Mr. Sullivan fancies up his Pineapple Ice Cream Conservatism by festooning it with hyphenates.  It's a free country and he can call himself a fiscal-conservative-radical-libertarian-traditionalist-gay-Catholic or a monadist-phlogiston-Spiralist-bivalve-RaĆ«lian for all I care/  But no amount of tap dancing and garment rending is going to distract me from the plain, home truth that Liberals have been right from the start about everything, especially the barbaric nihilism at the core of American Conservatism.

See, what Andrew Sullivan is trying to say is that Liberals were right all along.

But don't count on him owning up to that anytime soon because as one disreputable typer-of-words wrote many years ago:
...even though Mr. Sullivan now, belatedly comes to believe much of what Liberals believe and finally deigns to notice a horde of grotesque truths about his Conservative Movement about which Liberals have been sounding the alarm for 30 years, Andrew Sullivan nonetheless looks us all straight in that eye and argues that he could not possibly be some mere Liberal.

Because in Mr. Sullivan's world, "Liberal" does not refer to a political ideology, but to an impoverishing political ghetto from which no amount of "being right about everything" will permit you to achieve escape velocity. In Mr. Sullivan's world, "Liberal" is a terrible disease that afflicts losers who do not get invited to spout their views on teevee.

Mr. Sullivan regularly receives such largess, therefore he must not be a Liberal.

He instead must be the lone member be of some rare and singular new species; some miraculous form of haploid political minotaur.

Because if he is not something spontaneously-generated and utterly sui generis, then he is just another Lefty-Come-Very-Lately, showing up at our door at 3:00 A.M., 20 years late and trailing toxic baggage behind him like a Halley Comet.

And who in the world would pay him to do his little dance then?


Friday, July 25, 2014

Professional Left Podcast #242

ProfessionalLeft

"War has rules, mud wrestling has rules - politics has no rules."

-- Ross Perot


NOTE: At no additional charge approximately 15 minutes of dead air silent meditation time has been included at the end of the podcast.


Links:
Da' money goes here:




Thursday, July 24, 2014

They Shoot Healthcare, Don't They?


Conservatives Find Typo in Obamacare, Try to Kill People With It

Tuesday’s heartless Halbig decision, in which two judges decided that a typo strikes down a key piece of the ACA, ignores both common sense and the millions of Americans who depend on affordable health care.

It’s truly extraordinary, the lengths modern conservatism will go to to ensure that more members of what Dickens called “the surplus population” will die. First, refuse to set up state-run exchanges, so that the poor and working-class people of your state who are desperate to buy subsidized health insurance have to go to the federal exchange. Next, after your own decision not to set up an exchange has made the existence of the federal exchange necessary, you scour the Affordable Care Act and find one sentence that left out one or two words that could enable you to discredit the federal exchange.

Then you sue, claiming that the federally facilitated exchange, which exists because legislators had to plan around what they knew would be your own inaction and hostility, is illegal! Then, you get a couple of aggressively activist judges to agree with you. All that’s needed now is for John Roberts to get back on the team, and the deed will be done: Millions of people will be at risk of losing their no-longer-subsidized insurance, or see their rates shoot up to levels they simply can’t afford. And some, or many, will surely die sooner than they would have. What a legacy.
...
Any day the Right can hand Barack Obama a loss, is a good day for Conservatism. But if they can do it while ramming a hot poker through a Liberal's bleeding heart?  And immiserating millions of poor, desperate people in the process?

Well that's not just a good day.

Yowza, Yowza...that's fucking Christmas.

Hell, that's the full wingnut TurDuckEn: A War on Christmas, stuffed inside Nathan Bedford Forrest's birthday, stuffed inside Reagan Ascending Bodily to Heaven Day!

A great fucking day for American Conservatism.

The only times I remember them being this giddy was when they cheered and danced in the streets and mocked the dirty Liberal anti-war protesters after they re-elected George W. Bush in 2004...and then again in 2010 when, in full teabagger regalia and swearing they'd never even heard of George W. Bush, they cheered and danced in the streets and mocked the dirty Liberal clean up crew who were trying to clear the rubble and put out the fires that George W. Bush had left in his wake.

Oh, and there was also that 90 second interval when they creamed their collective breeches at the thought that the US Supreme Court had stripped millions of American of any hope of ever getting heath insurance:



But it was not a day of celebration here at the New Castle Driftglass.  It was not a good day at all.  My incredibly strong, smart and compassionate wife was in tears for much of the morning, for two reasons. First because we are among those millions of Americans who (as Brother Charles Pierce writes):
...have spent the last several months with a great weight lifted from their shoulders. Every ache and sudden twinge no longer felt like it could be the first step toward personal ruin. They have been able to look at their sleeping children without a familiar knot in their guts. They have been able to pursue happiness, like all of us have a right to do so, without feeling like they're running in leg shackles.

All of these people have been tossed into uncertainty -- again -- because their government has been rendered dysfunctional by a political philosophy of nihilistic vandalism, which is being judged now by a judiciary fully politicized through a long game that has extended over decades.

Or, to put it in medical terms, two months ago kindly Ol' Doc ACA metaphorically told us both that were gonna be OK.  Finally, OK.  That our labs had come back negative and that our family was no longer completely vulnerable to a quirk of fate or age or genetics which can destroy us.

We sighed, we laughed, we cried with relief, we popped a cork and got on with our lives.

And then yesterday kindly Ol' Doc ACA called us again -- out of the blue -- to tell us that he was very sorry but, someone at the lab screwed up our blood tests and...uh...we might actually be doomed after all.  

So we're frankly terrified, because this is where the metaphor breaks down.  A lab glitch would be a case of human error with a bad result: what's happening with the ACA is that a typo is being exploited by awful, awful people in order to further terrorize millions of our fellow citizens who are barely holding it together as is.

My fierce and compassionate wife also shed tears because we both happen to be supremely well equipped to patiently navigate the Kafkaesque Rube Goldberg machine that is the ACA in our home state.  We have enough patience and education and technical savvy to thread our way through the pitch-dark rejection maze that dispenses chances to buy affordable health insurance but only after scaling one mountain range after another of bureaucratic fuck ups, repeated and arbitrary denials by temp workers who have no idea what they are doing based on bad information which we never gave them, maddeningly conflicting and contradictory instructions from everyone involved and a general sense that everyone at every stage -- including janitors and interns -- have been randomly handed enormous authority to affect our lives in the most intimate ways imaginable, but that ultimately no one is in charge of anything.

We are emotionally and educationally equipped to slog though this shit all over again if we have to, but what about the millions of people who are not?   

What about people who quit after they leave their eighth unanswered message to a rejection letter because they don't know you have to call back ten times if you want to talk to a human?  Who don't know that even after they have refiled their paperwork again, its six-to-five that some temp in a hurry will round-file it because it's 4:59 and they've got someplace to be? Who are unaware that they will have to personally follow up over and over again to make sure their forms are hopping successfully across the Catch-22-strewn Frogger course on their way to Approval Land, and that each of those follow ups means making ten calls?

And it didn't have to be this way.  Even if a simple, national single-payer system is something I will not live to see, as goofy as the ACA is, it never needed to come to this.  Just like we never needed to default on our national debt obligations or let our infrastructure rot.  Just like we never had to let every madman have as many guns as he wishes or shut the government down in a fit of pique.

The father of these preventable disasters is not "our partisan system" or "these extremes on both sides".

It's the Republican Party.

Period. 

And until the Republican Party is ripped out root and branch, their battle to take away your Mom's mammograms and your Dad's cancer meds will never end. 

And once they have that, they're coming for grandma's Medicare, and Uncle Pete's Social Security. If not this year, then the next. If not this decade, then the one after that. 

Evil is very patient capital, and they have shown they are willing to shrug off failure and defeat -- shrug off iron-clad evidence of their own insanity and incompetence and fraud -- and Just. Keep. Coming. 

And until they are reduced in fact to the beset, besieged, despised and powerless minority they consonantly fantasize they are, this is going to go on and on. Their political rockets will continue to rain down pell mell on anything they can hit, because breaking the system is the agenda and chaos is the goal.

There is no point debating these people anymore because facts do not move them. 

There is no point engaging with them as rational actors or competent citizens, because they are neither.

As I have said before, this nation cannot endure permanently half-Fox and half-free. Like it or not, we will become all one thing, or all the other.

And the grim outlines of that struggle have never been clearer than they were this week as the Right once again danced and sang in delight at the thought of inflicting petty political damage on Barack Obama and making Liberals cry by screwing millions of their fellow Americans in the most calculatedly vicious way imaginable.  

Yowza, Yowza.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NBC Contemplates Swapping Dick Sargent



For Dick York


From Page Six:
David Gregory’s time on ‘Meet the Press’ is almost up
By Emily SmithJuly 23, 2014 | 1:08am

David Gregory’s time is nearly up at “Meet the Press,” sources told Page Six, and he could be replaced as moderator of the nation’s longest-running TV show soon after the November midterm elections.

While NBC News President Deborah Turness has publicly supported the embattled Gregory, there are serious concerns about the losing battle to turn around the show’s sinking ratings.

Viewership is down a whopping 43 percent compared to when Gregory ascended to the moderator’s chair in December 2008, after the death of Tim Russert. The show finished in third place behind CBS’s “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week” in the second quarter of 2014. An NBC source said, “The discussion is whether to make a change before or after the midterm elections. Just after the midterms would give the new moderator time to settle in.”

According to insiders, NBC political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd is the rightful heir to Gregory, but he has not been officially offered the job.
...
The problem, as usual, is that trading one dick for another doesn't change a thing.

I would suggest that if they want to goose up those ratings Bewitched-style, maybe they should try adding add a destructive old monster who pops in at will and screws everything up, a bitchy closeted gay uncle or a dangerously befuddled aunt.  But of course they already have.

Daddy Spank

This by Chris Hayes is making the rounds. (h/t Crooks and Liars):
“Let me take you behind the curtain of cable news business for a moment,” Hayes told his viewers. “If you appear on a cable news network, you trash that network and one of its hosts by name, on any issue — Gaza, infrastructure spending, sports coverage, funny internet cat videos — the folks at the network will not take kindly to it.”
It should not come as a surprise to learn that this is how the sausage gets made: anyone with a lick of deductive sense sussed this out long, long ago.

No, what intrigues me are how the exceptions to Mr. Hayes'  Golden Rule of Cable Teevee play themselves out.

For example, if you are Rula Jebreal and you talk a little smack about MSNBC, once, then MSNBC cancels your contract and disinvites you.
Jebreal is the author of Miral, a memoir about her coming of age in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Her former partner, Jewish-American filmmaker and artist Julian Schnabel, adapted the book into full length film. A widely published journalist and former news presenter in Italy, Jebreal was a vocal supporter of the now-extinct peace process and a harsh critic of Islamist groups including Hamas. Her termination leaves NBC without any Palestinian contributors.
According to the NBC producer, MSNBC show teams were livid that they had been forced by management to cancel Jebreal as punishment for her act of dissent...
That's the rule.  And rules are rules.

OK, but then what rule applies to Glenn Greenwald?

Mr. Greenwald, as you might recall, has spent the last year alternating between smiling his way through softball, "Golly, Glenn, tell us more about your intrepid adventure!" interviews on MSNBC...


...and using seemingly every media platform to which he has access -- cable (including MSNBC), print, blogs, Twitter -- to denounce MSNBC over and over again as a vipers nest of hacks, drooling Obots and  jackbooted servants of fascism.
So, Chris, explain to me please what rule applies

to your friend Glenn?

And while you're explaining to us rubes how Mommy and Daddy make grownup decision behind the cable teevee curtain, maybe you can also clarify which rule applies to Joe Scarborough, who Rula Jebreal herself noted devotes a slice of the three hours a day which MSNBC wildly overpays him to squat on to trashing the rest of the network as Commie Symp pointy-headed Libruls.
In fact, MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough has publicly attacked fellow MSNBC hosts and slammed the network for its support for the Democratic Party.

“I did not think that i was stepping in a hornet’s nest,” Jebreal told me. “I saw Joe Scarborough criticizing the network. I thought we were liberal enough to stand self criticism.”
So, Chris, to quote Lucius Fox:
Mister Wayne, if you don't want to tell me exactly what you're doing, when I'm asked, I don't have to lie.  But don't think of me as an idiot.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Silly Shit Andrew Sullivan Says, Ctd.

Vanity_Fair

Andrew Sullivan pauses between tuck-pointing the brickwork on the battlements of his True Conservatism castle in the air and painting its walls a vivid Reformocon Vermilion just long enough to mock the Crazy Left for thinking Elizabeth Warren could ever be president:
The Left’s Elizabeth Warren Fantasy
JUL 22 2014 @ 5:14PM
Warren’s speech last week at Netroots Nation gave it new life. Her fans even created this cringe-inducing hathetic theme song...
I am a staunch Warren admirer and I have no illusions that the Professor is ever going to be President of this country.  In fact, I much prefer the idea of her staying in the Senate for a long, long time, becoming a Kennedyesque Lion of that institution, acting as its conscience and a beacon of sanity to the weary world for decades to come.

That said, however starry-eyed her die-hardest believers may be, they are as coldly pragmatic as Niccolo Machiavelli and as numerous and disciplined as the legions of Scipio Africanus when compared with the remaindered job lot of charlatans, deluded exiles, disgruntled former wingnut think tank employees and dime-store-demagogues-in-search-of-a-balcony who make up the vanguard of Mr. Sullivan's "Reform Conservatism".



The Incredible Shrinking Columnist



In actuality, I'm 99% sure there is no deeper meaning to be found here.  I'm 99% sure this is just a New York Times software glitch, which someone down in the web development department is even now unhurriedly working to rectify.

Nonetheless there is something inherently amusing about the fact that while he has been away on vacation again, the NYT has somehow managed to decapitate David Brooks' archive -- and only Mr. Brooks' archives -- and has, for the moment, lost the last five months of flapdoodle by one of Conservatism's most celebrated revisionists:


And there is something downright hilarious about the fact that no one but me seems to have noticed.

What Andrew Sullivan Is Trying To Say Is...



After noting that the radical tax cut experiment in Kansas is in the process of ruining the state, while tax increases in California has been accompanied by job growth that is outpacing the national average, Mr. Sullivan concludes:
Obviously, there are other factors involved in both cases, and you should read the links to see the qualifications. But they are qualifications. We’ve know for a long time that cutting taxes does not help the government’s bottom line and has very limited potential for job growth given the historically low rates of tax in the US right now. But we didn’t know that tax increases could coexist with quite robust job growth and fiscal health. Count this as one more piece of evidence that re-thinking Republican economics on reformocon lines is a necessary but not sufficient initiative to alter GOP dogma.
Obviously no one could possibly have realized that higher taxes or tax increases could co-exist with job growth and fiscal health, unless, of course, they had ever read anything whatsoever about, say, the 1950 or, say, the 1960s or, y'know, the entire Clinton Administration. 

I believe what Mr. Sullivan is trying to say is that those fucking Liberal were right all along.

Again.

But not to worry: I'm suregMr. Sullivan will continue his proud tradition of ignoring Liberals (almost) altogether and focusing on trying to sail his little, paper reformocon boats the painted lake of True Conservatism for years and years to come.  

Why The Freak Show Never Ends



I don't know if you're aware, but as part of its heroic attempt to accelerate its death-spiral, Meet The Press has thoroughly trashed their own website (to destroy the evidence?) by stuffing it with all those great bells and whistles that NBC content visioneers believe the kids on their Instachats and Tumblrs are crying out for these days.

Why NBC content visioneers think that kids are clamoring for more archival footage of Bob Dole, more stale summaries of Chris Christie press conferences and more of David Gregory kickin' it on the Twitter with burned out Republican flacks --
David tweets with GOP strategist Mike Murphy to go inside the GOP's playbook after a narrow victory in Mississippi
-- I do not know, but clearly they do, and so what you get is a shambling stack of short videos, modeled (and I'm just guessing here) on the what a grab-bag of fever dreams at the ass-end of a David Gregory absinthe jag might look like.

Anyway, one of the small and comically bizarre juxtapositions that routinely transpires under the capacious wings of the NBC peacock happens when someone on The MSNBC reports something which lays waste to the credibility of the same person who, three floors away, is being feted as Credible and Serious at by some establishmentarian testicle cozy at The NBC.

Of course the most famous examples of corporate media cogitative dissonance come every year when the Neocons are in bloom and one, teeny tiny division of the NBC corporation takes it upon itself to flay unindicted war criminals and bloodthirsty lunatics like, say, Paul Wolfowtiz, while other divisions of the same corporation dutifully fellate them, but it happens all the time.

Like, for example, the case of Avik Roy.

Mounted handsomely in the rolling disaster that is the Meet the Press video cavalcade, we find Mr. Roy being given a MTP Credibility Tuck-and-Roll: reputations reupholstered while you wait, in this case by pairing him off with actual heath care expert, Howard Dean, and calling the exchange a "debate" under the imprimatur of "NBC News".



The problem?

Avik Roy is notorious for just making shit up to score political points.

And how do we know this?

Well it was kinda all over the internet, and most of the links and analysis were collated and reported by Steve Benen at MSNBC back in 2013:
Avik Roy and the wonk gap

By Steve Benen

Among conservatives who care about substance and policy detail – not just everyday pundits and columnists, but genuine, grade-A wonks – Avik Roy has a reputation for being a pretty serious guy. He advised Mitt Romney on health care policy, for example, and has written extensively on the subject for a conservative think tank.

With this in mind, note that Roy was on “All In with Chris Hayes” last week, and as Kevin Drum noted, Roy “offered up a criticism of Social Security’s disability program that was so misleading that Michael Astrue, a former commissioner of the Social Security Administration appointed by George Bush, nearly had a heart attack on the air.”

Shortly thereafter, Roy weighed in on the latest report on California’s exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. While most of us saw the news from the Golden State as excellent news and proof that “Obamacare” implementation is proceeding apace, Roy published a remarkably dishonest piece arguing the opposite, deliberately omitting relevant details.
The always-mild-mannered Jonathan Cohn explained in detail why Roy is plainly, demonstrably wrong, but added an important point about the larger issue.
If you want to know why we can’t have an honest debate about Obamacare, all you have to do is pay attention to some recent news from California – and the way a highly distorted version of it, by one irresponsible writer, has rippled through the conservative press.
Right. JonKrugman, and Ezra, among others, have detailed reports explaining why Avik Roy’s analysis simply doesn’t make sense – I won’t recreate the wheel here – and I hope folks will follow the links to understand the underlying policy dispute. It’s not just of a gray area; Roy is simply wrong.

But it’s the point about “why we can’t have an honest debate” that resonates with me.
Indeed, it reinforces the “wonk gap” thesis I’ve been kicking around for a while.

Remember, Avik Roy isn’t just some guy who shows up on Fox to rant and rave about “death panels”; Roy is one of the conservatives who hopes to prove that serious policy scholarship still exists on the right. He publishes content with a credible tone; he doesn’t fly off the rhetorical rails; and he genuinely understands the policy details.

But when it comes to advancing a partisan/ideological agenda, Roy is nevertheless willing to publish “Obamacare” criticisms that are transparently ridiculous.

I believe this is yet another data point that highlights the wonk gap. As Republicans become a post-policy party, even their wonks – their sharpest and most knowledgeable minds – are producing shoddy work that crumbles quickly under mild scrutiny...
Mr. Benen concludes that "[c]redible policy debates are rendered impossible, not because of the chasm between the two sides, but because only one side places a value on facts, evidence, and reason."

I would only add that credible policy debates will remain impossible as long as the credibility of people like Mr. Roy continue to be propped up by Mr. Benen's parent company.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The View From Outside



If we coulda swung it, I'm sure my wife and I would have enjoyed attending Netroot Nation this year, if only to swap hugs and handshakes and conversation with all the terrific fellow travelers with whom we interact online but rarely have a chance to meet IRL.

However, as Brother Charles Pierce points out, lately when the Liberals tribes gather we find new and exciting ways to carve each other up in public, whereas when the objectively insane Conservative tribes get together, they find a way to fucking well make it rain.  Their antics dominate the news cycle and echo onward for weeks, and no Republican of the First Water would dare not make the wingnut hajj to kiss the crazy ring:
Again, having attended both CPAC and Netroots this year, the difference between the power of the two gatherings over the respective political parties to which they generally gravitate was more startling this year than ever before. Certainly, there was loud rumbling of internal discontent at CPAC, too, but there wasn't a prominent Republican in the country that dared not show up. (And there were several panels about the severe mistreatment of the Keystone pipeline by environmental extremists, wah-dee-doo-dah.) CPAC was loud and noisy and fun. Netroots was simply dead-assed. One convention felt like a movement. The other felt like a trade show.
When I attended Netroots in 2007, it felt like a movement. There were hundreds of credentialed journalists from all over the world.  Every Democratic candidate running for president (save one) -- and plenty who weren't -- showed up, even at the risk of getting booed (for the record, I in attendance at the Obama breakout session seen in the video above.)  And Subcommander Markos swung enough cod to get a place at the table on Meet the Press:



Seven years later, so far as I can tell, the entire net media result of Netroots has been to give Steve Kornacki another reason to talk even more about whether Progressives like "Hillary 2016!", or like-like her on his "Good Morning, New Jersey!" MSNBC teevee show --



-- and a single Politico story about Netroots and..."Hillary 2016!":
...
There is hope for Hillary Clinton …

Netroots attendees hail from the most liberal corners of the Democratic Party. To them Clinton is simply too conservative on fiscal and foreign policy matters. They see the former New York senator as tight with Wall Street, and she doesn’t strike them as willing to fight for working people the way Warren does.

Yet interviews with several attendees suggest it’s not a lost cause for Clinton. If she distances herself from big business, highlights her support for labor — a point that came up several times here, given the big union representation at the conference — and demonstrates she cares about the struggles of ordinary Americans, she could go a long way with this group...
This is all well above my pay grade and in the nearly 10 years I have been blogging, nobody at Liberal CentCom has ever asked my opinion about anything (although the fundraising emails come in every hour on the hour like clockwork), but it gets a little harder every year to rally people to the Cause, when the Cause can't seem to get its shit together enough to not shoot itself gratuitously in the foot. 

Not impossible, but every year a little harder than it needs to be.

So even though Mr. Pierce has already used the reference, offhand I can't think of one that is more appropriate:

Sunday Morning Comin' Down


I am gross and perverted


I'm obsessed and deranged


I have existed for years


But very little has changed



More on this same old story -- this fight for love and glory -- here.

Because sometimes my left brain just refuses process the billion dollar glop oozing out of my teevee that passes for serious adult analysis of actual life-and-death events.




Saturday, July 19, 2014

In Case You Were Worried



That Liberal Central Command would run out of things over which to further subdivide itself:
Netroots Nation is going to Arizona, Daily Kos is not
by kos

SAT JUL 19, 2014 AT 12:54 AM PDT 
Netroots Nation announced two days ago that Phoenix, Arizona would host its 2015 conference. I wish the conference the best, but it will unfortunately take place without Daily Kos' attendance or assistance.

I made very clear in the wake of Arizona's passage of SB 1070 that I would not be setting foot in the state, nor spending a dime in it until the law was revoked. The law, however gutted by the courts, remains on the books, as does systemic harassment of Latinos, so my pledge still stands...
Every now and then I am reminded how very far I am from anywhere near the center of anything.