Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wingnut Demagogue Highlander

Today Trump boosted Mike Huckabee's Nazi gold.

Tomorrow it will be something else.

This political season has felt like binge watching Wingnut Demagogue Highlander -- my imaginary show on USA in which, each week,  a mob of reckless charlatans try to chop each other's heads off and steal each other's power, but however complicated the plot gets, by the end of each episode, the protagonist has always won and has always gotten a little bit stronger.

And while I am not fool enough to gamble on who the ultimate winner will be, in the game of Wingnut Demagogue Highlander, never bet against someone who had been President and CEO-for-Life of his own successful bullshit manufacturing empire for the last 30 years...

Go, Lemmings, Go!, Ctd.

I was worried there for a minute that I wasn't going to have a chance to use this graphic again for awhile.

Silly driftglass.

Summer is one of the seasons when the bone-in stupid of the GOP base reaches its peak of freshness (the other seasons are winter, fall and spring.)  And with the Kenyan Usurper actually flipping them the bird from Kenya, and no fake birth certificate or death panel idiocy to rally 'round or carefully orchestrated Fox News-sponsored/Koch-funded "grassroots" wingnut raves to attend, the hungry hungry hypocrites need something to bang their heads against.

So why not Boehner?  

Practically since the day the GOP took the House, he has been the weepy, incompetent box of Chicken-in-a-Biscuit on the back of the wingnut shelf -- a perennial snack-of-last-resort to be tossed from time to time to the rage monster on whose back the Party of Personal Responsibility now rides (Google "humiliate Boehner" for a trip down memory lane.)

And so, inevitably... (from Politico):
House conservative seeks John Boehner's ouster

Most Republicans, however, say it will be tough to round up the votes to overthrow the speaker.

By Jake Sherman and Lauren French

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows had heard from leading conservatives that trying to oust Speaker John Boehner right now was a bad idea.

Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), fierce and frequent critics of leadership, thought the move was ill-advised. Some of Meadows’ friends didn’t even see it coming. But just before 6 p.m. Tuesday — a day before the House was set to leave town for its five-week summer recess — Meadows offered a motion to vacate the chair, an extraordinarily rare procedural move that represents the most serious expression of opposition to Boehner’s speakership. If the motion were to pass — most Republicans say it will be hard to cobble together the votes — Boehner would be stripped of the speaker’s gavel, potentially plunging the House of Representatives into chaos.

GOP leaders were taken completely by surprise. Meadows, a second-term Republican, hadn’t even asked for a meeting with Boehner or other top Republicans to air his gripes.
Since the GOP has given up any pretext of being interested in actual governance, and since the party's vandal base rewards anyone who finds new and exciting ways to sugar democracy's gas tank, we're going to keep winding up here over and over again until these people and their media enablers are driven from power.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House

Now that the worst people in the media have a wide, protected beach-head on your Liberal teevee, expect things to keep getting worse until Steve "Lil' Chuck Tood" Kornacki is the most Liberal thing on MSNBC, and CNN or Fox just buys the former Olbermann network outright for pocket change.

But until that time, you can still enjoy the sight of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asking Both Siderist shit-slinger-for-hire Ron Fournier to help him figure out what in the heck is going on in the crazy modern world of politics, what with its Instagram machines and Palm Pilots.

The astute reader will note that while Mr. Fournier has no trouble piling on safe-target Donald Trump, he goes out of his way to suck up to his bread-and-butter -- the meatsticks who thinks Trump is the answer to their dreams.  See, contrary to what you snooty media elites think, they're not "dumb-dumbs" at all.   Not the degenerate end-product of a Conservatism's 30-year-long Fox News/HateRadio wingnut manufacturing process.  Oh heavens no!  They're smart, responsible, sweet-smelling, salt-of-the-Earth products of Founier's squalid little imagination citizens of TheGreatestCountryGodEverMade who have "every reason" to be as cartoonishly unhinged as they clearly are because queers and n*ggers and Mexican rapists with Obamaphones are coming for their guns! they just love this gosh darn country so gosh darn much.

Today In Both Sides Do It

Brother Charles Pierce still has one more week of submarine spotting duty, so while he's away, I have asked our kitchen to whomp up an occasional Stupid For Lunch Suboxone buffet to help his readers with their with jitters.  I'm not going to lie: you are going to find the odd Bandaid in the Shepherd's Pie and I cook with real butter, dammit, butter.  But the bar is fully stocked and no one will look at you funny if you step to the line, make some grandiose toast, and peg your shot glass into the fireplace in the traditional Callahan fashion.

I today's exciting episode, while Trump and Huckabee mesmerize the Beltway by slugging it out Godzilla vs. Mothra-style on the "Say Insane Things and Never Fucking Apologize" Republican main stage, Daily Caller keyboardist and bilaterally-symmetrical-American, Matt Lewis, picks up some beer money working the Both Siderist parking lot (h/t Blue Gal.)

Sure, some people who pretend to be Conservatives appear to have finally gotten up the courage to embrace their Inner Klansman and go abroad in the world nekkid and unashamed, and Lord knows that's not good:
Twitter’s Right-Wing Civil War

For a not-insignificant portion of the online right, a new form of white nationalism is taking root—and it coincides with the rise of Donald Trump.

The newfangled slur “cuckservative”—a portmanteau which combines the word‬ “cuckold” (which has both sexual and racial overtones with the word “conservative”—has been gaining steam online these last few days.‬ So much so that, the other day, it‬ reached a threshold where I felt it warranted comment. So I did, and that’s when the fun began.

Who knows when these things reach a tipping point? But this new term— typically employed in defense of Donald Trump — was especially seedy. The danger is that otherwise well-meaning grassroots conservatives might mistakenly think‬ this term, which, at best, is meant to be emasculating, was merely an‬ anodyne synonym for RINO. Instead, it’s a rallying cry for white supremacists and “neoreactionaries” who, for whatever reason, seem to back Trump.
Yeah.  "for whatever reason".  Right,

But isn't it great that Moral Exemplars like Ewik Son of Ewik are rising to the occasion and disciplining these pesky outliers who are splashing their icky hatemud on real Conservatism:
I also think Erickson is also on to something when he talks about his‬ faith. This kind of cynical tribalism doesn’t just thrive in a world‬ based on scarcity and fear (which is the opposite of faith), but it’s‬ also contrary to all the teachings of Christ. As a rising leader of‬ the conservative movement, kudos to Erickson for demonstrating moral‬ courage here.

Sometimes people rise to the occasion, and I think it’s notable that we now have people who made their names as big RINO-hunters—that is, the bloggers and pundits who made their name attacking Republican moderates and movement sell-outs—are now, for the first time I’ve seen, actively trying to police the far-right. Conservatives are waking up to the fact that the racists on our side need to be killed with fire.
And anyway, isn't the real problem with TheGreatestCountryGodEverMade the extremes on...

...wait for it...



...Both Sides! (emphasis added)
I‬ fear that more people on both ends of the political spectrum are‬ embracing what should be fringe‬ views in America. I can’t police the left, but my hope in writing this‬ is to sound the alarm on the right. And message is simple: Be‬ optimistic about America. Embrace our pluralistic society. And don’t let these vile goddamn racists pollute our message. They are not our friends, they are not on our team, and conservative leaders must roundly condemn them.
Bon appetite, Murrica!

Monday, July 27, 2015

An Orgy Of MacGuffins

For some reason, last night's episode of True Detective (working title "Contractual Obligation") welcomed Colonel Tex O'Hara (aka Senator Shady Bird Johnson) to the show --

-- but only long enough to sink a knife into his pervy hide.

Just one more pointless detour to nowhere on a show whose legs are already snapping under the weight of its accumulated plot cul-de-sacs, impossible coincidences and exhaustingly trivial details.

Two examples.

First, two key villains -- State Senator Exposition and Ernst Stavro Blofeld Exposition -- gather in an office with flimsier security than the Crossroads Motel to unnecessarily riffle through their Deeply Incriminating Documents and recapitulate their Nefarious Scheme while two of our True Detectives listen in through the incredibly thin walls of the one ground-floor room they just happened to find themselves adjacent to.

Second (and 50 feet away) our third True Detective -- drugged out of her head on some molly derivative that makes everyone else giddy and horny but which hits her like Scarecrow's fear toxin -- just happens to stumble straight into missing girl/prostitute/Key Witness, Vera Exposition, who she hustles out of the building, past the remnants of a security cordon that makes Andy Frain look like Seal Team Six, and into a waiting car, there to be whisked away to the penultimate episode.

Why this happened, I have no idea.

Why they have done any of what they have done, I have no idea.

Early on, True Detective got that "Star Wars Episode One: George Lucas Unbound" stank on it which the Red Letter review captured perfectly here, and nothing that has happened since has done anything but add to the sense of a doomed enterprise being marched grimly off a cliff that everyone sees coming.

The auteur who produced a pop culture masterpiece because he took advice from smart people and was forced to operated within reasonable constraints, suddenly freed of all constraints and any need to listen to anyone who could tell him that he's about to fly the Millennium Falcon into Mount Hubris at .5 past light speed.

A fall from such a height that, while the program itself is not worth watching for its literary or entertainment value,  the spectacular arc which its failure describes is almost worthy of study in its own right.


Saruman The Centrist

Today Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman spent some time firing spitballs at the mile-high iron walls of the Beltway Centrist fortress: 
What I would argue is key to this situation — and, in particular, key to understanding how the conventional wisdom on Trump/McCain went so wrong — is the reality that a lot of people are, in effect, members of a delusional cult that is impervious to logic and evidence, and has lost touch with reality.

I am, of course, talking about pundits who prize themselves for their centrism.

Pundit centrism in modern America is a strange thing. It’s not about policy, as you can see from the many occasions when members of the cult have demanded that Barack Obama change his ways and advocate things that … he was already advocating. What defines the cult is, instead, the insistence that the parties are symmetric, that they are equally extreme, and that the responsible, virtuous position is always somewhere in between.

The trouble is that this isn’t remotely true. Democrats constitute a normal political party, with some spread between its left and right wings, but in general espousing moderate positions. The GOP, on the other hand, is a deeply radical faction; even its supposed moderates are moderate only in tone, not in policy positions, and its base is motivated by anger against Others.

What this means, in turn, is that to sustain their self-image centrists must misrepresent reality.

On one side, they can’t admit the moderation of the Democrats, which is why you had the spectacle of demands that Obama change course and support his own policies.

On the other side, they have had to invent an imaginary GOP that bears little resemblance to the real thing...
This is, in sum, the critique I have been pointlessly leveling at the political center since the day I took up my pseudonym, ten years and +6,000 columns ago.

The scale of the lie is so vast and the power and wizardry of its adepts and acolytes is so lethal that no one but a few, scrofulous Liberals with no constituency dares to speak of it by name.

And in all seriousness, there is something weirdly reassuring about the sight of Special K being completely ignored in exactly the same way that the rest of us denizens of America's permanent Invisible Liberal political underclass are ignored every day.

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

"Getting the Banned Back Together" Edition.

You know our politics has fallen into banana-republic territory when Mike Huckabee using the Breitbart Collective Farm for the Hilariously Insane to try and spin jaw-droppingly vile Nazi gold into a bump in the polls (h/t Heather at Crooks and Liars) --
Huckabee On Iran Nuclear Deal: Obama Marching Israelis 'To The Door Of The Oven'
-- is not the most egregious offense against Godwin's Law making the rounds today.

No that signal honor goes to Mr. Shuck Todd --

-- host of NBC's Meet the Press, who decided that what Murrica really needed this week more than anything was a few words of wisdom from Murrica's most famous Hitler-apologist/racist/Nixon flunkie, Pat Buchanan:

Sorry, Chuckles; you lost me at "I'm having him on...".

Honestly, I cannot think of a single human outside of Pat Buchanan and his even-more-Pat-Buchanan sister, Bay --

-- who thinks that paroling Buchanan from the Phantom Zone (from Media Matters, 2012) --
(Chris) WALLACE: No, well I, look, I mean, I wasn't prepared to get into a discussion about Pat Buchanan's views --

GALLAGHER: I understand, I understand.

WALLACE: -- and I don't have them, but I do know over the years, because I remember when I was at ABC, we had him on Nightline. He has said some very incendiary things about Israel, about Jews, about blacks, about other minorities, and I -- you know, look, he's entitled to say those things. It's a free country, but on the other hand, groups that are offended by those remarks are entitled to say it too.

GALLAGHER: I guess I am just so fascinated --

WALLACE: And let me just finish my thought. And an employer, be it Fox News or MSNBC or anybody else, is entitled to say, "you know what? We don't want this guy."

-- and putting him back on your teevee machine -- especially on what is supposed to be NBC's flagship public interest program -- is anything other than one more example of tin-ear Todd's just amazingly awful stewardship of the pile of rubble where "Meet the Press" once stood.

But of course, as an discerning viewer of the Gasbag Cavalcade knows, acting in the public interest is the least of their concerns.  As Shuck Todd himself confessed in this remarkable interview, he is a creature of The Business of Show in the employ of corporate executives whose faces we will never see and whose names will never be mentioned, but who make it clear to Mr. Todd that his show is all about gettin' them ratings, and fuck the substance. And what's better for ratings than putting red ants and black ants in a jar and watchin' 'em fight!

However, while public interest is almost never on the Sunday program menu, the public redemption of Beltway insiders is always on offer. In fact, rehabbing the careers of their Conservative colleagues who have shit the bed is such a feature-not-a-bug of the Gasbag Cavalcade that I finally gave up documenting each individual case and just started tagging the process as The Gingrich Rules:

In the game of professional punditry there also clearly exists a special set of rules designed with one person on mind.  Or, rather, one sort of person: Conservatism's parade of bomb-throwing, hate-mongering, race-baiting bottom feeders.  That breed which makes their daily bread from grifting the Pig People by generating an endless flood of books, magazine articles, broadcasts, speeches and videos all telling the GOP base over and over again that their bigotries are noble and their paranoia is patriotic. 
Of course, part of the downside of wallowing in the wingnut sewer and trafficking in slander and lies is that, sooner or later, you become a toxic mess.  Your stink becomes unacceptable to the general public, which s where the Sunday morning talk shows -- the Mouse Circus -- comes in.   Because despite having long ago devolved into a sinkhole of Beltway centrist twaddle, it is still viewed by altogether too many people as a bastion of Very Serious people -- it's the strip-mall of political opinion where casual shoppers go to feel smart and validated.

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

And in the key to that bargain we find "The Gingrich Rules"...
One bright spot in the otherwise dark firmament was Bernie Sanders, who took a hammer to Shuck Todd's "Some people say..." tricycle.  Honestly, I thought the kid was gonna cry (transcript not yet available -- see video below.)

After Bernie was safely gone, the darkness returned like someone flipping a switch.  Shuck Todd continued right on with the freak show, trotting out, among others, America's Third Most Dependable Both Siderist, Ron Fournier, to explain that while Bernie Sanders is not like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders is also just like Donald Trump.  And (at no additional charge to you the customer!) also explain that  Hillary Clinton is sneaky, aloof and possibly a criminal.

Ed Shultz out, Pat Buchanan in, and Ron Fournier right there ringside to tell themurricanpeople what "populism" really means.

How do these people sleep at night?

On a bed made of money:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Error Compressing Data. WStatus = 0xea

In an attempt to compress the long and ugly journey from the fake Conservative scandal over a failed land deal in  Arkansas to the fake Conservative scandal over Benghaaaazi, Atlantic writer David Graham executes one of the greatest standing broad jumps since the glory days of Arne "Boom Boom" Tvervaag.

See if you can spot it (emphasis added to aid the noobs):
From Whitewater to Benghazi: A Clinton Scandal Primer

The email controversy is quickly turning into a classic Clinton scandal. Her use of a private email account became known during the course of an investigation into the 2012 deaths of U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya. Thus far, the investigations have found no wrongdoing on Benghazi, but the private-email use and now the classified-info referral have become stories unto themselves. This is something of a pattern with the Clinton family, which has been in the public spotlight since Bill Clinton’s first run for office, in 1974: Something that appears potentially scandalous on its face turns out to be innocuous, but an investigation into reveals other questionable behavior. The classic case is Whitewater, a failed real-estate investment Bill and Hillary Clinton made in 1978. While no inquiry ever produced evidence of wrongdoing, investigations ultimately led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.
As the Good Doctor Maddow demonstrated to a fare-thee-well on her as-yet uncancelled teevee show this week, once the elders of the Council of the Potomac add another Beltway Fairy Tale to it's the canonical texts, mainstream pundits bond with that received wisdom at an almost molecular level:

So it is with the Book of Clinton: once Sally Quinn and company added the parable of the "scandal-plagued" Clintons to the official Beltway Bible, it stopped being a myth to be challenged and became a sturdy foundation on which to build a career.

And if, in the fullness of time, it turns out that the facts underpinning these fairy tales are actually just bunkum?

Well dammit sir, this is the Village.  When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

The Bleats of Laredo

As I walked out on the streets of Laredo.
As I walked out on Laredo one day,
I spied a rich asshole all wrapped in white grievance
Wrapped in white grievance and a fucked up toupee.

"I can see by your tee-shirt that you are a voter."
These words he did say as I boldly walked by.
"Come an' sit down beside me an' hear my Yooooge Story.
"Of rapists and morons and Kenyan moon pie."

There's No Stopping the Trump Show 

Republicans wish their bombastic frontrunner would go away—but they can’t figure out how to get rid of him.

LAREDO, Texas—You want the Trump show to be over. But it’s not over.

You want to ignore Donald Trump. You think maybe if you ignore him long enough, he will go away. Well, guess what? He’s not going away.

Trump is in Laredo, Texas, on Thursday, not because he wants to be, but because he is needed. “The border patrol—they’re the ones that invited me here,” he says.

Trump has just emerged from the tarmac into the private-jet terminal of the Laredo airport. His slab of a face is framed by a jostling halo of reporters. There are cameras above him, cameras in front of him, cameras practically standing on top of each other to broadcast his message, which obviously must mean he has something very big, very important to say.

So, the border patrol. Well, actually the border-patrol union, which is known for its anti-immigration views and which is not a part of the U.S. government. The union pulled out this morning, they didn’t really say why, but Trump has an idea.

Since announcing his presidential campaign a month ago, Trump has been saying things they don’t want you to know. He’s been talking about the dangers posed by illegal immigration—the criminals, the rapists, pouring over the border. This is not a popular or politically correct thing to talk about. (It is also not true, according to the official sources, but Trump has his own, more mysterious sources of information.) And so they, apparently, got to the border-patrol union. “I heard they got those orders from Washington,” Trump says, declining to elaborate.
Trump is not going anywhere until someone makes it worth his while to do so.

Getting Away With The News

Once upon a time, a small, dedicated team showed that it is possible to do real journalism on teevee with almost no budget.

And it's still possible.  In fact, with technology getting better and cheaper, and with cable news running around the clock, the constraints on doing excellent journalism have never had less to do with time or money or talent.

The reason that political/cultural reporting in America is mostly tapioca or shit or shit-infused tapioca is because the people who own the networks like it that way.
MSNBC Is Canceling Ed Schultz And Giving His Show To Chuck Todd 
With this move, the long anticipated dropping of MSNBC’s liberal programming begins. What is interesting is that Ed Schultz has often pulled better ratings that Chris Hayes and All In at 8 PM, but Hayes is a favorite of MSNBC boss Phil Griffin, while the network head has been trying to get rid of Schultz for years. Griffin first tried to dump Schultz by shuffling him off to the weekend wasteland, but after Ed’s ratings didn’t nosedive Griffin moved him back to 5 PM ET.

One of the main problems at the network is the dreadful All In, but MSNBC had decided months ago that they would be dumping their liberal hosts in favor of people like Chuck Todd. MSNBC leadership completely mistreated their liberal audience, and when the audience walked away, the network used the declining ratings as an excuse to blame liberals.