Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Is The Sound Of 10,000 No Labels Idiots Masturbating



High above us on a majestic floating island on money, the self-absorbed pseudo-intellectual Laputans of Americans Great and Imaginary Reasonable Center are vexed. And fretful. And perhaps even snappish. Because far, far below, on the dirty, dirty ground, it once again looks like the peons and pismires don't know what's best for them. 

Who's bright idea was it to leave the hard work of self-governance in the hand of the people anyway?

The Democrats appear divided between the joyful, populist appeal of a New Deal Democrat with a Brooklyn accent, and experienced technocrat appeal of a former Secretary of State and Senator from New York. At the extreme other end of the crazy scale, the once-reliably malleable mob of bigots and imbeciles that make up the Republican party base seems precariously close to chasing a billionaire New York carnival barker off a cliff an into political extinction.

So who better to step in out of the Beltway pundit's magic Centrist unicorn dreams and into the race...

Who better to dump another shit-ton of money into a race already choking on the fumes of burning piles of cash...

Who better to grab both the unruly anti-Wall Street Democrats and the unhinged, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant wingnut rabble by the scruff of the neck and tell them all to STFU and fall in line...

...than yet another New York billionaire!

From (sorry) Politico:
Why the Media is Desperate for Bloomberg to Run

His latest not-quite-announcement has reporters salivating.
By Jack Shafer
2/09/2016

The Michael Bloomberg for president trial balloon has arrived just in time to elevate and rescue a weary press corps that has been suffering almost nonstop for a year to cover the candidate-surplus slog that is Campaign 2016. Bloomberg has always aspired to be president, if 2006 is a sufficiently distant date to qualify as “always.” It was then, according to David A. Graham’s pocket history of Bloomberg’s presidential ambitions, that the press first noted his White House lust. The piece, written by New York magazine’s John Heilemann—currently one of Bloomberg TV’s two million-dollar TV babies—sketched Bloomberg as someone who “seems to view himself as a man of destiny,” just as you might if you, too, were worth $38.8 billion.
...

The only thing more beneficial to the press corps than a Bloomberg campaign would be a Bloomberg presidency. A Bloomberg administration—am I being too eager?—would be the greatest boon to the Washington press corps since the invention of Twitter...
When the grubby business of democracy collides with the cosseted delusions and egomania of the super-rich and their sycophants in the media, the results are always entertaining.  

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

David Brooks' Inception

Well dreams, they feel real while we're in them, right? It's only when we wake up that we realize how things are actually strange. Let me ask you a question, you, you never really remember the beginning of a dream do you? You always wind up right in the middle of what's going on.

-- Cobb, Inception

So I bit into my King cake this morning and what Fat Tuesday prize to I find waiting for me?

This column by Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times!
I Miss Barack Obama
And what a confection it is.

Yet another David Brooks-brand indiscriminate public Both Siderist fragging of everyone and everything in sight --
Think of the way Iran-contra or the Lewinsky scandals swallowed years from Reagan and Clinton...

Hillary Clinton is constantly having to hold these defensive press conferences when she’s trying to explain away some vaguely shady shortcut she’s taken, or decision she has made, but Obama has not had to do that...

There are all sorts of unsightly characters floating around politics, including in the Clinton camp and in Gov. Chris Christie’s administration. This sort has been blocked from team Obama...

Second, a sense of basic humanity. Donald Trump has spent much of this campaign vowing to block Muslim immigration. You can only say that if you treat Muslim Americans as an abstraction. President Obama, meanwhile...

 Imagine if Barack and Michelle Obama joined the board of a charity you’re involved in. You’d be happy to have such people in your community. Could you say that comfortably about Ted Cruz?...

Obama’s basic approach is to promote his values as much as he can within the limits of the situation. Bernie Sanders, by contrast, has been so blinded by his values that the reality of the situation does not seem to penetrate his mind...

Fifth, a resilient sense of optimism. To hear Sanders or Trump, Cruz and Ben Carson campaign is to wallow in the pornography of pessimism,..
-- except, of course, his favorite GOP Chia pet, Marco Rubio, who Mr. Brooks considers simply and adorably "normal":
I happen to find it charming that Marco Rubio gets nervous on the big occasions — that he grabs for the bottle of water, breaks out in a sweat and went robotic in the last debate. It shows Rubio is a normal person.
What has set the internets abuzz is that this time Mr. Brooks delivered his shopworn, Both Siderism claptrap baked into a Uriah-Heepish paean to Barack Obama's wonderfulness.
Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss...
But what Mr. Brooks is really offering his readers is not merely another fat slice of Both Siderist sludge, nor a wistful tip-of-the-hat to the sterling character of President Barack Obama.

What Mr. Brooks is offering his readers a delusion.  A dream.  The same dream he has been building for them for years.  A dream which never has beginning or an end.  A dream in which none of the dreamers can ever quite seem to remember how they got there, or why things are the way they are. Instead, because they are so deeply invested in the delusion Mr. Brooks is selling. they accept each discrete episode of the delusion immediately and at face value rather than asking even the most fundamental questions.

Questions about actions and consequences over the course of the the last 30 years,  Questions about who has actually been right all along about critically important issues, and who has actually been wrong all along.  Very, very basic questions -- fucking Journalism 101 questions -- like "Where exactly are we now?"  and "How the Hell did we get here?"

And the reason these questions are never asked is because the entire Beltway scam would collapse of its own internal illogic like a souffle in a fracking-zone if people routinely started doing crazy, rude, vituperative, heretical things like, say, comparing what David Brooks said today about Barack Obama with the things David Brooks has said in the past about Barack Obama:

David Brooks today:
People are motivated to make wise choices more by hope and opportunity than by fear, cynicism, hatred and despair. Unlike many current candidates, Obama has not appealed to those passions.
David Brooks, September 19, 2011 
 The president is sounding like the Al Gore for President campaign, but without the earth tones. Tax increases for the rich! Protect entitlements! People versus the powerful! I was hoping the president would give a cynical nation something unconventional, but, as you know, I’m a sap.
David Brooks today:
But over the course of this campaign it feels as if there’s been a decline in behavioral standards across the board. Many of the traits of character and leadership that Obama possesses, and that maybe we have taken too much for granted, have suddenly gone missing or are in short supply.
David Brooks, April 30, 2012:
 So far this year, both President Obama and Mitt Romney seem more passionate about denying the other side victory than about any plank in their own agendas. Both campaigns have developed contempt for their opponent, justifying their belief that everything, then, is permitted...

The slam made Clinton look small, it made Obama look small, it turned a moment of genuine accomplishment into a political ploy, but it did follow the rules of gangland: At every second, attack; at every opportunity, drive a shiv between the ribs.

This martial-, gangland-style of campaigning apparently makes the people in the campaigns feel hardheaded, professional and Machiavellian. But it’s not clear that it’s actually the best way to win an election.
...
Gone is much awareness of the world outside the campaign. All focus is on the news blip of the moment — answering volley for volley.  If they bring a knife, you bring a gun. If they throw a bomb, you throw two...

Both sides are extraordinarily willing to flout respectability to show that they are tough enough to bare the knuckles...
David Brooks today:
He and his staff have generally behaved with basic rectitude.
David Brooks, September 19, 2011 
In his remarks Monday the president didn’t try to win Republicans to even some parts of his measures. He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives.
David Brooks today:
He and his wife have not only displayed superior integrity themselves, they have mostly attracted and hired people with high personal standards.
David Brooks, September 19, 2011
Yes, I’m a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. 
David Brooks today:
He’s exuded this basic care and respect for the dignity of others time and time again.
David Brooks, September 19, 2011
This wasn’t a speech to get something done. This was the sort of speech that sounded better when Ted Kennedy was delivering it.

...

We’re not going to simplify the tax code, but by God Obama’s going to raise taxes on rich people who give to charity! We’ve got to do something to reduce the awful philanthropy surplus plaguing this country!
David Brooks today:
Third, a soundness in his decision-making process.
David Brooks, September 19, 2011:
But remember, I’m a sap. The White House has clearly decided that in a town of intransigent Republicans and mean ideologues, it has to be mean and intransigent too. The president was stung by the liberal charge that he was outmaneuvered during the debt-ceiling fight. So the White House has moved away from the Reasonable Man approach or the centrist Clinton approach.
And, finally, David Brooks today:
Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss...
And David Brooks, September 19, 2011
The president believes the press corps imposes a false equivalency on American politics. We assign equal blame to both parties for the dysfunctional politics when in reality the Republicans are more rigid and extreme. There’s a lot of truth to that, but at least Republicans respect Americans enough to tell us what they really think. The White House gives moderates little morsels of hope, and then rips them from our mouths. To be an Obama admirer is to toggle from being uplifted to feeling used.
Trust me, I can (and have) go on like this for hours.  My point was merely to demonstrate that for we outsiders who stand apart from the Great Beltway Opium Den looking in, this all looks hilarious and dangerous and deeply weird.  We see a windowless van full of bleary Both Siderists addicts, doped to the eyeballs. being driven towards disaster by the powerful, amoral plutocrats who keep them drugged and dreaming.

But for those inside the van -- inside the dream -- there is no sense of movement, no sense of time passing or actions and consequences.  For those inside the dream there are just gray little men like David Brooks suffocating them slowly with gray little Both Siderist "O tempora o mores!" fairy tales which seem to make perfect sense as long as no one asks any disturbing questions about actions and consequences and the passage of time.  

Goodbye Rubio Tuesday -- UPDATE




An END-IF ABEND ended you
You can't divide by zero forever
Hugh Hewitt's gonna miss you...

More New Hampshire Coverage to follow.


UPDATED 2/9/16...

Bwahahahaha!  (From, sorry, Politico)

Bush and Rubio race to the bottom
'South Carolina is gonna be a bloodbath,' one Rubio aide says.

New Hampshire was supposed to be the nail Marco Rubio would drive into Jeb Bush’s coffin. 
Now, it might be the beginning of Rubio digging his own political grave.

The two warring Floridians spent much of the New Hampshire campaign eyeing each other, with Bush blasting Rubio in millions of dollars in ads. But in the end, both of them ended up finishing behind Donald Trump, John Kasich, and, barring a last-second shift in the counting, Ted Cruz.

Rubio took to the stage to address his supporters Tuesday night and was surprisingly frank about his poor debate performance on Saturday and its impact on his finish...
I look forward to the competing whisper campaigns about Rubio the secret Drug Kingpin and Jeb(!)'s secret illegal alien anchor baby bastard child.  

You built this shit-filled punji pit, Republicans.  Now enjoy the spectacle of your standard bearers dragging each other into it.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Weak Tea 1000


This is the best they have.

European Neo-Nazis ♥ Donald Trump


What is PEGIDA?

Glad you asked (from Wiki):
Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (German: Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes), abbreviated PEGIDA or Pegida, is a German far right-wing neo-nazi movement founded in Dresden in October 2014 that promotes anti-Islam political positions. The movement opposes what it considers the Islamisation of the Western world and demands more restrictive immigration rules, particularly for Muslims who refuse to integrate (see Item 16 of its Position Paper). Offshoots of Pegida have been formed in various countries. The movement has also opposed NATO and EU membership and has supported better relations with Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Fucking European Neo-Nazis.

I hate European Neo-Nazis.


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Internet Comment Threads Predicted 55 Years Ago



“Most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing in the troubles and sins of five billion strangers.”

-- Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land, 1961

Sunday Morning Comin' Down: The New Adventures of Old Pristine



Because you're busy people and should not be made to wade through the numbing, gelid, Very Serious Person swamp of Beltway Common Wisdom that was the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade today, let me take you by the elbow and show you two things:  The most interesting thing to happen today, and the least interesting thing that happened today.

Most Interesting:  The New Adventures of Old Pristine

Way down the dial, in the cable teevee version of steerage, Senator Bernie Sanders was on CNN's "State of the Union" where he told the "Bernie Bros" who have been coming out of the woodwork to try and advance the case for a Sander's presidency by trying to sexist/misogynist bites out of Hillary Clinton that "We don't want that crap." 

Which is both the right thing to do, and smart politics,  

Sanders rises when his message is cheerful and inclusive; he falls when his campaign sounds petty and small and nothing is pettier or smaller that the narrow-gauged, purity-obsessed zealots who barnacle themselves to candidates and causes because their brains are wired for Manichean-only thinking.  Either you see things my way 100% right down the line...or you are History's Greatest Monster and must be destroyed.

One such hatbox full of damaged goods is David Brock, the former Republican character-assassin-for-hire who fell from favor on the Right, flipped his shingle around and became a Democratic character-assassin-for-hire.  

Key Clinton Ally: 'Black Lives Don't Matter' To Bernie Sanders

David Brock, a longtime ally of the Clinton family, told the Associated Press on Thursday that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) latest TV ad showed a disregard for Democratic voters of color.

Brock told the AP that he thought Sanders' new "America" ad, which uses Simon and Garfunkel's song of the same name in lieu of spoken words, was focused on white voters. The ad shows Sanders greeting mostly white supporters on the campaign trail, with the crowds' sizes slowly increasing.

Brock characterized the ad as a "significant slight to the Democratic base."

"From this ad it seems black lives don't matter much to Bernie Sanders," Brock told the AP...
In the same "State of the Union" interview where he told people who were douchbagging in his name to cut it if the fuck out, Sanders also asked why the Clinton campaign is letting someone like Brock speak for them,

That's a good question.

The Clintons rise when they can talk in in simple. clear language about their commitment to public service and about the practical realities of forging workable and legislatively-doable solutions to the problems of the diverse group of Americans who make up the Democratic coalition.  They fall when they let their loyalty to incompetent hacks like Mark Penn and morally-hollow bridge-burning sycophants like David Brock run them up on the rocks.

The knives come out for everyone.  Hell, the knives came out for Honest Abe much dirtier and much sharper than they now come out for Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders (and if you think this is bad, wait until the conventions are over.)

McClellan snubs Lincoln

On this day [November 13] in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln pays a late night visit to General George McClellan, who Lincoln had recently named general in chief of the Union army. The general retired to his chambers before speaking with the president.



This was the most famous example of McClellan’s cavalier disregard for the president’s authority. Lincoln had tapped McClellan to head the Army of the Potomac" the main Union army in the East ”in July 1861 after the disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia. McClellan immediately began to build an effective army, and was elevated to general in chief after Winfield Scott resigned that fall. McClellan drew praise for his military initiatives but quickly developed a reputation for his arrogance and contempt toward the political leaders in Washington, D.C. After being named to the top army post, McClellan began openly associating with Democratic leaders in Congress and showing his disregard for the Republican administration. To his wife,McClellan wrote that Lincoln was “nothing more than a well-meaning baboon,” and Secretary of State William Seward was an “incompetent little puppy.”
...
Because while every single candidate for president (except, apparently, Jeb(!)) starts out with a burning certainty that they and only they have a Date With Destiny To Save The Country, they also all know that, at the end of this 18 month-long, mixed martial arts title fight and goat rodeo, all but one of them is going to go home a loser.  So, sure, you have to fight like mad with the tools you have,  But (as I wrote in a different context a few years ago) once purity itself becomes all you care about -- once it becomes a distillery race to see who can get to 100% -- the chicken farmers are never far behind:
The main Islamist group in Algeria, the GIA, ended up being led by a Mr. Zouabri, a chicken farmer, who killed everyone who disagreed with him. He issued a final communiqué, declaring that the whole of Algerian society should be killed, with the exception of his tiny remaining band of Islamists. They were the only ones who understood the truth.
And then, up the dial at the Least Interesting Thing To Happen Today:  Upon This Schlock I Will Build My Church

Anyone outside of the Beltway Common Wisdom terrarium has been able to see for a long time that Marco Rubio is kind of an idiot.  Yes, he is a reprogrammable idiot, with nice hair and an attractive family which makes him very useful.  But as Brother Charlie Pierce has noted many times,  Young Marco is never more than one coding glitch away from tumbling into the deep and dark Forest of Infinite Rakes.  For a truly hilarious example of Young Marco getting locked into a recursive dumbass coding loop I would refer you back to the Year of Our Lord 2012, when Young Marco went on the Daily Show.  I theorize that, perhaps sensing danger, some enterprising staffer decided to set the Rubio Emergency Default Answer = "Both Sides".

Sadly that enterprising staffer was also a shitty programmer who took no precaution against the possibility that Jon Stewart might ask more than one question that would trigger the Rubio Emergency Default Answer.  What ensued was possibly the first recorded example of a politician failing a Turing test (despite a million angry emails, the embed code Comedy Central uses still auto-starts all videos, which I hate, so here is a link to the video if you want to see it, and here is some of what I wrote about it back in 2012):
In case you missed Jon Stewart's award-verging "interview" with Marco Rubio, here is your rush transcript of Senator Rubio's answer to Jon Stewart every single time Mr. Stewart tried very respectfully to point out that Senator Rubio was, um, lying, and that the relentless, pathological obstructiveness of the Republican Party was unmatched by anything Democrats have done in modern history.
"Both sides..."

"Well, you know, both sides..."

"Both Democrats and Republicans..."

"That's just politics..."

"The Democrats left us no choice..."

"Both sides..."

"Democrats and Republicans..."

"Both sides..."

"Both Democrats and Republicans..."
And so forth, to the point of being comical...

But Trump is a braying disaster, and Cruz is a cartoon supervillain that scares little children, and Jeb(!) it practically wearing a red shirt and begging the Klingons to put him out of his misery.  Which means Young Marco is all the GOP establishment has: thanks to a 30 year winnowing process of dumbing the GOP base down and angrying them up to the point that no sane person has a hope in Hell of winning the Republican nomination, Young Marco has become the Rock chosen by Thomas Hobson himself on which the GOP establishment must now put up some kinda Church,

And so, by God and Saint Ronnie, they are going to grab their go-go-booted little cipher by the scruff of his neck and drag him bodily around the clubhouse turn if that's what it takes to keep him in contention until they can  figure out how undumbify the wingnuts just enough to lose their adoration of the billionaire with the hot wife who promises to make them all winners again.

Which is where the inexplicably-still-employed Hugh Hewitt comes in... (h/t Heather at Crooks & Liars):
Hugh Hewitt: Rubio 'Won All Of That Debate' Except For Christie Conflict


When you create a media marketplace which makes it clear that no Conservative hucksters and frauds will ever be held accountable for anything they say or do, Hugh Hewitt is the kind of "journalist" you end up with.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

At the #GOPdebate



Here are my tweets from tonight's Republican debate:
Wow.  Christie tossing sand into the gears of the Marco-bot right off the bat.

This is bad.   Rubio responds to Christie's charge that he is a windup toy incapable of anything except repeating memorized 25 word answers...by repeating the same 25 word memorized answer.

Rubio:  I...am not...programmed...to answer...questions in...that...area.

Ted Cruz -- the neighbor who poisons puppies and then smirkingly lectures everyone on the block about why they had it coming.

And now we're going to let Conservative bloggers ask questions.  Wheee!

Cruz comes out against Medicare.  Wheeee!

Carson:  We'll give people some money and let them fight it out for health care Thunderdome-style.

Bush comes out against limousines.

Trump:  I feed on your hatred.  Nourish me bitches!

Breaking:  Suddenly the GOP cares about old people.  Well, one old person.  Baby steps Jeb(!)

Rubio:  There are no problems that can be solved by paying to fix them.

Cruz: I will lure ISIS out into the open so that we can bomb them by bombing them until they come into the open.

Cruz: Carpet bombing doesn't mean carpet bombing.  I won't just kill ISIS but super-duper-deathstroke-Ras-Al-Ghul kill them.

Rubio:  I'm banking that none of the meatheads in this audience remembers anything that happened before 2009.

Trump:  I will use the US air force to eminent domain the shit out of Iraq and turn a tidy profit in the process.

Carson:  I've been talking about Libya for over 1000 years.  Well, muttering angrily about it on the subway, but still.

Cruz:  Waterboarding is not torture (sound of a table flipping over from Bill Kristol's sudden, giant Neocon war boner.)

Rubio:  The idea that there are "rules" or "conventions" when it comes to making war is just some ridiculous shit the Kenyan Usurper made up.

I've seen this episode before.  After this round, the music swells and The Virgin Mary Hamm awards one candidate a rose.

Bush:  Flint Michigans for everybody!

Rubio:  Benghaaaaaaaaaazi.  Right, Carly.  Carly?  Carly?  Anybody seen Carly?

Trump:  I will repeal and replace black people.

Bizarro Rubio: Sure there are some good Christians, but we have to take apocalyptic Christians extremist groups seriously.

Rubio: The Air Force was founded in 1947, but Obama will leave it smaller than it was in 1916.

Bush:  Don't worry, Martha.  As a member of the Bush family I assure you, we will continue to avoid the draft at any cost.

Conservative Blogger Mary Katherine Hamm:  Liberal media liars lie because they're lying liars.  How can we explain that dumb millennials?

Rubio:  Hillary Clinton grinds baby's bones to bake her bread.  Her bread!  Wake up sheeple!

Bush:  I'm so pro-life I used a woman in a persistent vegetative state as a political human shield.

Christie:  I don't care what the "facts" say, Planned Hillaryhood harvests baby parts for money.  The X-Files is real people!

Rubio:  New Hampshire!  City by the bay!

Carson:  I'd like to thank Balki, Mr. Roper, Scooby and Scrappy Doo, and all the Disney cows who have told me their secrets.

Cruz:  I love the American people so much that every single person they have elected to federal office hates my living guts

Kasich:  Holy crap, I'm still alive!  Bwahahahaha!
Tonight, the part Private Deadmeat who stands up at the end of the movie "'cause there ain't no sniper Sarge!" and takes one right to the melon was played by Marco Rubio.


Sunday Morning Comin' Down -- Early Edition


Here is a handy list of people whose say things that are so consistently wrong and ridiculous that in any other profession they would have been Burt Petersoned long ago...



...but who will nonetheless offered up to the viewing public once again as credible, insightful professionals the Sunday Shows this weekend:

For reasons known only to Shuck Todd's wealth manager, "Meet the Press" will once again drape the tattered, shit-stained mantle of it's long-gone credibility around the shoulders of Hugh Hewitt, but for but for both total yardage and points on the board, ABC's "This Week" wins the Useless Hack title by putting Cokie Roberts and Matthew Dowd and Bill Kristol together again on the same stage.

 Elsewhere...

..."Sunday Morning Futures" on Fox News Channel will let you watch GOP hitman Ed Rollins and disgraced "journalist" Judith Miller make noises at each other.

..."Fareed Zakaria GPS" will point a camera at David Frum, presumably to burble on about how awful it is that some very irresponsible Republican establishment types people who are definitely not David Frum let the Republican party go to pot.

...and the irony of CNN's "Reliable Sources" having Matt Lewis on to pimp a book entitled "Too Dumb To Fail" is thick enough to pound railroad spikes through a cinderblock.


Having documented the same atrocities being perpetrated by many of the same goofs for 11 years now, I have to say the omerta code of the American political teevee industry is fucking amazing. Tens of thousands of employees coming and going at all levels of dozens of organizations, and not a one of them will go on the record anywhere to lay out the details of the corrupt bargains being struck behind closed doors that not only guarantee ghouls like Bill Kristol a job forever, but also guarantee that no one will ever ask any of this menagerie of sock-puppets, toadies and hacks any uncomfortable questions about their horrendous record of being wrong about everything.  

Friday, February 05, 2016

Professional Left Podcast #322


"The world is still a weird place, despite my efforts to make clear and perfect sense of it."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, writer