Friday, July 31, 2015

Professional Left Podcast #295


"The thing is this: You got to have fun while you're fightin' for freedom, 'cause you don't always win."
-- Molly Ivins, writer


More Axes Fall At Comcast's Red-Headed Stepchild Network

As the Republican Party sheds the last tattered scraps of ersatz respectability to let its Inner Brownshirt run nekkid and free...

...and as the direct connection between the rise of Conservative Hate Media, the calculated derangement of the Conservative rank-and-file...

...and the collapse of our capacity for self-government is drawn more clearly and plainly than ever before...
Over at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, where she was a fellow this spring, longtime New York Times political reporter Jackie Calmes has released a long, fascinating discussion paper on the role of the conservative media in this state of affairs: "'They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing': Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party."
...the last freehold of opposition to this avalanching catastrophe on television is getting Another!Exciting!New!Makeover! (h/t Alert Reader Kathleen O'Neill):
MSNBC Confirms Change Is Hard, Chuck Todd In, ‘The Cycle,’ ‘Now With Alex Wagner,’ ‘The Ed Show’ Out
The Rosetta Stone you need to understand why in the name of Sweet Steamboat Jesus clowns like Squint and the Meat Puppet and their entire menagerie of Beltway hacks and buffoons are keeping their sweet, sweet jobs, but Ed Schultz is being handed his walking papers is to be found here (emphasis added):
Alex Wagner will stay with MSNBC and play a key role in our political coverage as we head into the 2016 election. And Ari Melber will continue in his role as Chief Legal Correspondent. But we will be parting ways with some friends – Ed Schultz, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman and Toure will be leaving MSNBC. Please join me in thanking them for their numerous contributions over the past several years, and in wishing them great success.

Beginning in a few weeks, Chuck Todd will bring his unmatched brand of political insight and analysis back to MSNBC with a daily one-hour program. That show will air weekdays at 5pm.
Yeah, if you still have room on your  Wall of Beltway Media Shame, you can mount that giant "Fuck You!" to whatever is left of sentient American right next to the lovely pairing of the very-nearly-pubescent Jonathan Greenberger (ABC's Washington Bureau chief, vice president and executive producer of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”) sacking a bunch of staffers at ABC just a few months ago  --
Starting today, we launch a new approach to the way we operate, unifying the Bureau into a single team serving every platform within ABC News. As part of this transformation, we will unfortunately have to redefine some jobs and say goodbye to some of our colleagues, as we’ll need fewer people in some operations, engineering and general assignment editorial posts. This decision did not come easily, but we feel it is necessary for the continued strength of our Bureau in a rapidly changing landscape.
-- with the very same Jonathan Greenberger announcing just a year earlier that he had hired Bill "Always Wrong" Kristol because Kristol is a "brilliant, original thinker"

It has never been more obvious that there are certain topics which Organized Money does not want us talking about.  Which means that even as we watch the remnants of "liberal" MSNBC being bagged up and tossed into the same grave as Air America, we are obliged to talk about those things even louder.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Everything's Coming Up Driftglass

Dr. Vox makes an ominous discovery:
How conservative media helped the far-right take over the Republican Party

Most people who follow politics are aware that something unusual is going on in the Republican party — unusual relative to major conservative parties in other developed democracies and unusual relative to American history. GOP leaders no longer appear in control of their own agenda. Instead, they are being dragged from crisis to failure to embarrassment and back to crisis by the most extreme elements of their coalition. The far right has captured the party.

Over at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, where she was a fellow this spring, longtime New York Times political reporter Jackie Calmes has released a long, fascinating discussion paper on the role of the conservative media in this state of affairs: "'They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing': Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party."
One of these days before I vanish from blogging entirely, I hope I can snag me one a' them there job  at one a' them there magazine.

And when that happens, my plan is to set up an algorithm to go through my archives, pick out old posts, touch them up with a few modern accessories ("I was just reading a study...on InstaGram!") and reprint them as edgy and new.

And then I will retire to a hammock in some sylvan glade with my brood, there to watch the money pour in on autopilot and laugh and laugh and laugh.  I figure if I tweak it right, I can still be making bank well after I'm dead.

That #MrRobot Song You Were Wondering About

With tonight's episode, Mr. Robot is now the natural successor of Breaking Bad.

No kidding.  It's breathtaking.

Some Velvet Morning - Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood:
Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
I'm gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight

Flowers growing on a hill, dragonflies and daffodils
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
I'm gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight

Flowers are the things we know, secrets are the things we grow
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
Flowers growing on a hill
I'm gonna open up your gate
dragonflies and daffodils
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
Learn from us very much
And how she gave me life
look at us but do not touch

And how she made it end
Well Eliot does get straight.
And does open up a gate.
And a buncha other things happen too.
Oh my, oh my, yes they do.

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.