Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Sex Toy Tuesday. Booze-By-Mail Wednesday.

However you shop for the holidays, if you shop online, help support your favorite podcast by shopping through our Amazon link above.

Posting will continue as normal below, but I'll be keeping this at the top of the page for awhile.


Professional Left Podcast #312 -- Happy Thanksgiving

"As God as my witness, I thought Jindal could fly."
-- Farewell address by Believe Again SuperPAC funder


It Is Oddly Refreshing

That MSNBC's Squint and the Meat Puppet Rest Home for Aging Beltway Eunuchs and Strippers is no longer even pretending to be anything other than a war-mongering, Obama-bashing, Hillary-slandering Fox-lite hysteria factory.

Keep Knowing Your Value, Meat Puppet!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

They Thought They Were Free

Chuck Todd, host of America's preeminent public policy and politics program, "Meet the Press":
Donald Trump — the post-truth 2016 candidate

We've been around the political block long enough to know that almost all presidential candidates exaggerate, dissemble, take statements out of context and, yes, lie. But from the start of Donald Trump's presidential campaign (remember Mexican rapists?), he has taken this to a level we haven't seen before in American politics...
There's no consequence for them to say anything that they want to. They can make things up, they can go out and say flat out untruths and nobody's challenging them...
Tom Brokaw: famous teevee person, dean of NBC network news and, ironically, the revered, rose-colored-glasses chronicler of America's battle against fascism during World War II:
...And Donald Trump says that he saw in Jersey City thousands of people cheering when the Twin Trade Towers came down, it's completely wrong. It did not happen. He did not see it. But who's there to challenge him on that?
Keep in mind the systemic, paralyzing cowardice of our professional media as as you read an excerpt from "They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45" by Milton Mayer:
..It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

"You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair...
Solving the problem of American Conservatism's bold and metastasizing fascism could begin tomorrow by simply laying down some fairly drastic and material consequences for anyone in the media who 1) refuses to report the blindingly obvious facts of American Conservatism's bold and metastasizing fascism, or 2) obsessively seeks to deflect any such analysis with an army of bullshit Both Siderist straw men.  

From the NYT:
Mr. Trump relies on social media to spread his views. This is convenient because there’s no need to respond to questions about his fabrications. That makes it imperative that other forms of media challenge him.

Instead, as Mr. Trump stays at the top of the Republican field, it’s become a full-time job just running down falsehoods like the phony crime statistics he tweeted, which came from a white supremacist group.

Yet Mr. Trump is regularly rewarded with free TV time, where he talks right over anyone challenging him, and doubles down when called out on his lies.

This isn’t about shutting off Mr. Trump’s bullhorn. His right to spew nonsense is protected by the Constitution, but the public doesn’t need to swallow it. History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It’s no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it’s an important one.
But the problem is not Trump.  The problem is the GOP base -- those millions of American bigots and imbeciles which the Right has spent many years and billions of dollars to flatter and pander and shape into an electoral battering ram which is now so reliably paranoid, angry, Dunning-Kruger ignorant and programmable that they can be told what to think, what to buy and who to vote for by Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes or Donald Trump.

The problem is the GOP base -- America's very own, home-grown army of rage-drunk, half-mad chumps who are so fucked-in-the-head they can be profitably harvested by the same liars telling the same lies over and over again endlessly.  Which is why the problem of American Conservatism's bold and metastasizing fascism -- which has been decades in the making -- will not begin to be solved tomorrow.

Or the next day.

Or the next.

Because in the grown-up world. when the question is "Why?", nine times out of ten the answer is "Money".  And there is just way too much damn money to be made by Very Serious People from compromising and compromising and compromising with American fascists until, too late, they are compromised beyond repair.

EstaBushment Candidate Model #3.2

Some assembly required (h/t darkblack for the wonderful starter kit.)

It turns out that however often the donor and brain caste of the GOP meet in quiet rooms and strategize about assembling an acceptable Establishment Candidate out of snips from old Jerry Ford speeches and dollops of Ronald Reagan's hair dye and Third Way/No Labels Both Siderist soft-core pornspeak, it turns out the Base of their party doesn't really give a shit about their schemes anymore.

The Base -- which the donor and brain caste of the GOP has labored ceaselessly to flatter and cultivate -- wants a shiny new war against the scary Mooslims.  And Moar Military.  Gargantuan tax cuts and gettin' rid of them there regulations that keep them from being rich as pirates.  Balance the Budget and Build the Wall!  Also end Planned Parenthood...and moochers and climate change hoaxers should be beaten in the streets.  The Base wants torch-lit rallies full of spellbinding speeches about their surpassing awesomeness and moral superiority.  They want to make a bonfire of the Enlightenment and dance around the flames, armed to the teeth, braying about Freedumb and Murrica.

And EstaBushment Fix It Man Jeb! ain't that guy.  From the WaPo:
Things are bad and getting worse for Jeb Bush. Just look at this chart.

Six percent. Six! That's roughly one-fifth the support enjoyed by Donald Trump, the leader in the new Post-ABC survey. It's also a precipitous fall from Bush's peak in March when he stood at 21 percent in the poll. There have been four Post-ABC polls done since late July; Bush started at 12, went to 8 percent in September, 7 percent in October and is now down to 6 percent.

Yes, you are right to point out, Bush supporter, that there is no such thing as a national primary — that this is a made-up construction of the media. The problem with that argument is two-fold: 1) Bush isn't in better shape in Iowa (5th) or New Hampshire (5th) than he is nationally and 2) this race is more nationalized than any in recent memory thanks to the presence of Donald Trump in it.

The national polling — and in particular, Jeb's trend line — reflects the fact that the buzz surrounding him has absolutely cratered over the past few months. The strongest argument Bush had going for him was his inevitability; he was the front-runner and was going to stay that way so you might as well get on board or run the risk of being left behind. With that message now rendered useless, Bush continues to cast around for another one that might work: One week he is the "fix it" guy, the next he is the one who is serious enough and strong enough to deal with the threat of terrorism.

None of those messages — nor the $20 million his Right to Rise super PAC has spent on his behalf in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — has worked...
The Base fucking well wants Barrabas, it wants him now, and will not line up behind anyone who won't promise to deliver.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sociopaths Of Glory

On the PBS News Hour last Friday, Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times was made it very clear that he believes President Obama's ISIS/Syria policy to be a "rank failure" because POTUS does not do enough "action":
Now, as for President Obama, I think his policy is just a rank failure. And, frankly, he has had several — this has been a slow-rolling genocide for a long time. And in several stops along the way, there have been people in this administration and the other parties who have counseled some sort of action that I think he could have taken which have — maybe ameliorate some of the death we’re seeing.

And he has withdrawn and withdrawn and not taken those actions, even where red lines have closed — have been crossed. He had a training program which didn’t work. He has had token little efforts recently.
Now of course no one wants the kind of action we had 'round here in 2003 and the less said about what that "action" consisted of or who was beating the drum the loudest the better:
I would just say nobody is in favor of the sort of action we had in Iraq in 2003
And, of course, Mr. Brooks has no idea what correction action would actually look like:
And, therefore, you have to — I don’t know what the action is.
Or whether President Obama's actions have ultimately been right or wrong:
And so for him to talk self-righteously about other people and their response to the Syrian refugee — he bears some responsibility for the Syrian refugee crisis. And so he took some decisions to be inactive, which may have been right, wrong, but they were realpolitik decisions...
But Mr. Brooks damn well knows that, regarding action -- or at least thinking about action -- there should be, y'know, moar of it:
But you have to think more about the action.
I have nothing to add but...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

"But it's his only line" Edition.

I knew things were bad, but they must be worse than I thought.  So bad that on "Meet the Press" journalist Helene Cooper stared forlornly into her 401k and wished someone other than Helene Cooper would get out there and do some journalism already (emphasis sprinkled in here and there to suit  my baroque tastes):
HELENE COOPER:   For instance, there's still no link between Syrian refugees and the attack in Paris, okay? Nobody is-- these guys are Belgian and French nationals, they're not Syrian refugees, we don't have a link to that yet. And yet, all of this rhetoric, I would love to see the press and I'd like to see the media really--
Journalist Tom Brokaw saw journalist Helene Cooper's pair of crocodile tears and raised her a big 'ol sad because won't some journalist somewhere who is not Tom Brokaw please for God's sake do some journalism?
TOM BROKAW:  Well, no, I just was thinking to myself that Governor Kasich is about to become the most popular subject on the right wing social media circuit after that appearance here this morning. (LAUGH)

CHUCK TODD:  Why is that?

TOM BROKAW:  He'll be taken on for challenging the idea that we have to have some kind of a security list for all Muslims who come into this country and not have a relationship with them around the world. When you talk about a war on Islam, you're talking about a war on Indonesia, for example.

Most of the subcontinent of Asia. So when he then challenges that premise on the part of both Donald Trump and Doctor Carson, who are doing extremely well on the polls, he's going to find himself a target on social media. You cannot underestimate the impact of social media in studying a lot of not just the outrageous positions, but flat out lies.

And Donald Trump says that he saw in Jersey City thousands of people cheering when the Twin Trade Towers came down, it's completely wrong. It did not happen. He did not see it. But who's there to challenge him on that?
After which, journalist Helene Cooper implored the gone-away gods of Journalism even more plaintively than before to Send Us A Deliverer! Someone -- long as it's not journalist Helene Cooper -- to take down these motherfuckers with some motherfucking god damn journalism:
HELENE COOPER:   There's no consequence for them to say anything that they want to. They can make things up, they can go out and say flat out untruths and nobody's challenging them. It's very similar to what Tom said--
Helpfully, over on Tom Brokaw's Social Media at almost that exact moment, Matthew Dowd (former chief strategist for the George W. Bush 2004 re-election campaign who is now a full-on, born-again "It's not my fault because I'm an independent" paid ABC News employee) was demonstrating exactly how the Beltway tone-police will kneecap any hapless truth-speakers who dare to call the Republican Party out by its true name.

 Mr. Dowd performed this accidental service in a little game we like to call, "A Quisling says what?":

Meanwhile, back on "Meet the Press", Ron Fournier gallantly indicted everyone for being equally to blame for everything because at this point it is literally his only line:
RON FOURNIER:  I'd like to double back really quick on what we were talking about earlier. You know, I took a shot at our leadership earlier and I really believe in that strongly, but we as a people have to realize that we are changing in a way that we have to be more responsible. We are more scared than we were since 9/11 and we trust our institutions less than we did since 9/11.

We trust each other less than we did. And now with social media, we have to ability to ghettoize ourselves, to only listen to the views that we already agree with and demonize and attack everybody else. And when you combine that with this vacuum we have with leadership, that's why I really worry about what happens the next time we get hit. Are we as a people able to hold together?


And gliding over all, this supreme irony.

Those the knives-out truth ninja saviors for whom journalist Tom Brokaw and journalist Helene Cooper desperately pine?

Surprise!  They've been here the whole time.

They're those Dirty Hippies which are casually slandered on every Sunday show as part of the Beltway's Both Siderist ritual.  

The ones the Village kerbooted into the Media Phantom Zone long ago for telling the kinds of knives-out truths about Republicans which journalists like Tom Brokaw and Helene Cooper Absolutely Refused To Hear way back when it could  have made a difference.  

The Liberals, whose every vituperative, foul-mouthed utterance reliably drove journalists like Tom Brokaw and Helene Cooper to their fainting couches.  

Fainting couches under which journalists like Tom Brokaw and Helene Cooper now cower and beg for deliverance from Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and their mighty horde of wingnut bigots and imbeciles.

A mighty horde of wingnut bigots and imbeciles about which those Dirty Hippies have been trying to warn journalists like Tom Brokaw and Helene Cooper for 30 fucking years.

Meanwhile, over on Fox News, the Chief Propaganda Officer for the 1,000 Year Wingnut Reich garroted the timorous Beltway Both Siderists with the very pearls they were clutching and laughed and laughed and laughed all the way to the bank (from Media Matters):
On Fox News Sunday, Rush Limbaugh Fawns Over Donald Trump And Ted Cruz

Limbaugh: "Donald Trump Is, I Think, Doing A Great Service," And Ted Cruz Is "Brilliant, Just Absolutely Brilliant"

Why We Lose

1) The poor don't vote.

2)  After decades stewing in Reagan's "welfare queen" poison, the poor are deeply resented by the damn-near-poor.*

From the NYT:

...Meanwhile, researchers such as Kathryn Edin, of Johns Hopkins University, found a tendency by many Americans in the second lowest quintile of the income ladder — the working or lower-middle class — to dissociate themselves from those at the bottom, where many once resided. “There’s this virulent social distancing — suddenly, you’re a worker and anyone who is not a worker is a bad person,” said Professor Edin. “They’re playing to the middle fifth and saying, ‘I’m not those people.’ ”

Meanwhile, many people who in fact most use and need social benefits are simply not voting at all. Voter participation is low among the poorest Americans, and in many parts of the country that have moved red, the rates have fallen off the charts. West Virginia ranked 50th for turnout in 2012; also in the bottom 10 were other states that have shifted sharply red in recent years, including Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.

In the spring of 2012, I visited a free weekend medical and dental clinic run by the organization Remote Area Medical in the foothills of southern Tennessee. I wanted to ask the hundreds of uninsured people flocking to the clinic what they thought of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, whose fate was about to be decided by the Supreme Court. I was expecting a “What’s the Matter With Kansas” reaction — anger at the president who had signed the law geared to help them. Instead, I found sympathy for Mr. Obama. But had they voted for him? Of course not — almost no one I spoke with voted, in local, state or national elections. Not only that, but they had barely heard of the health care law.
No one has any business being surprised by any of this.

*thanks for the catch

Friday, November 20, 2015

Professional Left Podcast #311


"Yes, he moves very quickly for an overstuffed and unlikely Egyptian Pharaoh."
-- Batman


David Brooks Shows America's Kids How To Bury The Lede Like a Pro

Mr. Brooks devoted 80% of his column today to praising Hillary Clinton's ISIS policies.  Of course, for Mr. Brooks, all experiences pale in comparison to his crack-high, career-making, priapistic delight at being a charioteer in Dubya's Beltway army, rolling into Baghdad and mowing down Liberals with his mighty keyboard...
Some of Clinton’s specific prescriptions were a little too limited and Obamaesque for my taste...
...but still, former Secretary Clinton's observations have been a cut above anything on offer from anyone else.
But she is thoughtful and instructive on both the big picture and the right way forward.
So what's going on here?

Allow me to explain.

First, as the biggest beneficiary of the Beltway Memory Hole, it really doesn't matter what David Brooks writes about anymore.  He can have a complete, public meltdown over the obvious fact that his Republican party has become an open moral sewer of bigots, imbecile and fascists one week and -- poof! -- a week or two later it is so completely forgotten that Mr. Brooks can get back to hacking out his standard wingnut/Both Siderist bilge and no one but a few, smelly outsiders will dare to say a thing about it,  

Which means that once Mr. Brooks grudgingly puts on his black shirt and get behind whichever fascist wins the GOP nomination, all of his friend in the media will agree to forget that it was ever otherwise. 

Second, there is a better-than-even chance that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States, and the coin of Mr. Brooks' realm is insider access. Insider access has made him a rich man, so a little pre-election groveling is just a wise investment; 800 words of bet-hedging flattery back to which Mr. Brooks can point when he is arranging his first tet-a-tet with President-elect Clinton. 

Third, when there is an active, raving catastrophe right outside your door which you really, really, really do not wish to write about, change the subject.  Which Mr. Brooks' does, clumsily, about halfway though column.  In fact, if you look, you will see him actually telling you that 1) he damn well knows what the real story is, and 2) no way, no how is he going to touch it with a barge pole:
Some Republicans have stained themselves with refugee xenophobia, but there’s a bigger story here...
No, Mr. Brooks. Pretty much all Republicans have "stained themselves with refugee xenophobia" because your Party is, by design, an open moral sewer of bigots, imbecile and fascists.  

And right at the moment, there is no "bigger story here", no matter how deeply you bury the lede and desperately you and the rest of your Vichy Beltway collaborators pretend otherwise.