Thursday, July 31, 2014

Today In "Both Sides Do It": Chucknado Two -- When Terrible Analogies Attack

Chucknado has a fevah!

And the only prescription!

Is more Centrism!
Same as It Ever Was: Both Parties Fighting Old Battles
BY CHUCK TODD, MARK MURRAY AND CARRIE DANN 
...
So it’s just not the legislative process in Washington that is stuck; it’s the issue terrain, too. Democrats and Republicans are simply fighting the same battles, the ads and campaign messages are almost identical. What’s most depressing: There aren’t any NEW ideas, just rehashed talking points. It all brings to mind the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 -- soldiers were fighting and dying, even though the war had already ended (the news simply hadn’t traveled to them yet). The Obama wars are coming to an end (and may have ended for the public), but the candidates on the 2014 trail have decided to continue to the fight.
It has long been self-evidently true that it is beyond Chucknado's abilities or interests as a "journalist" to discuss the "merits" and "validity" of any of these "issues" which bore Chuckles to tears but which Both!Sides! keep carping about for some reason.

Because, one may speculate, fidelity to truth or facts or merits or the rules of basic, high school journalism are not mile markers on the Golden Path that will land Todd in the Big Sunday Chair at NBC.

But separate and apart from being a terrible journalist, I had never really never take the time to appreciate what a terrible analogist Chucknado! is as well.  Sure "It all brings to mind the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812..." is too linearly idiotic -- too blunt-force stupid -- to be qualify as transcendentally Friedmanesque awful (yet!) but unlike so many other Beltway tools, at least the kid is taking the trouble to study the game films 


and put in his time in the batting cage.

We now join Kirk Douglas' TED Talk on why Liberals are never, ever allowed on Beltway teevee already in progress...




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Libya oh Libya, Our Martial Ad-libia...


From the BBC:
France evacuates French and British expats from Libya

The French government says it has evacuated French and British nationals from Libya, as battles rage between government forces and militias.

A French diplomatic source said 40 French nationals, including the ambassador, had been evacuated by ship along with seven British nationals.

France's embassy in Tripoli has been closed temporarily, the French foreign ministry said on its website.

Libya has been gripped by instability since the 2011 uprising.

The French government spokesman in Paris, Stephane Le Foll, announced that French and British nationals had been evacuated, without giving numbers.

An unnamed diplomatic source gave the numbers to France's AFP news agency, saying the expats had been evacuated by the French army.

They are aboard a warship bound for the southern French port of Toulon, the French foreign ministry said.

On Sunday, the US evacuated its embassy in Tripoli, citing a "real risk" because of the fighting.

Together with France, Germany and the UK, it advised its nationals in Libya to leave immediately.

The UN announced this week it was pulling its staff out.
...
Now that Libya is toddling towards the pyre of modern failed states, it seemed a sadly appropriate time to roll this out again:
Libya, Our Next War...Maybe. 


With great deference and respect for Julius Henry Marx, one of history's true, genius wordsmiths (and Yip Harburg, [thanks for the catch, Anon]) -- and to launch my Sixth Blogiversary Fundraiser:


3...2...1...

Libya oh Libya, say have you met Libya,
Libya, our next war...maybe.
Unknown rebels folks adore so,
And all that oil even more so.

Libya oh Libya, our martial ad-libia
Despoiled by Colonel Macbeth.
Beneath him's a footstool called Tripoli.
(Where he shared a few hot tubs with Berlusconi)
And from where he now murders by land, air and sea,
You can learn a lot from Libya.

La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

Homicidally unbound, Muammar'll dance you around,
Like a pinata made by a Neocon.
If you squint you can see Kosovo or Granad-ee
Or Caesar crossing the Rubicon.

La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

Libya oh Libya, say have you met Libya,
Libya, our next war...maybe.
When the bombs start to flyin',
That's when comes the real lyin'

Libya oh Libya, our martial ad-libia
Despoiled by Colonel Macbeth.
For a dime Billy Kristol will show you his dick
And explain what makes a Fox fascist tick
As 10 years vanish like a cheesy card trick
You can learn a lot from Libya.

La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

Come along and see Newt with his ass out.
John McCain panting so hard he might pass out.
While side-kick Joe digs out his war pout.
And Beck doubles down on his freak out.

La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

Republicans suddenly caring where the money goes.
Chickenhawks suddenly back on the talk shows.
Here are PNACers back rattling sabers.
Back to tossing kids 'round like flesh cabers.

La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

Libya oh Libya, our martial ad-libia
Oh Libya the champ of them all.
Where once was a Commie who French-kissed big banks
('Til Ghadaffi started killing civilians with tanks)
Now that Kenyan Usurper has risen 10 ranks
For he went and conquered Libya!

I said Libya
{He said Libya}
They said Libya
{We said Syria}
La La! 

The Original, for those who have never heard it, or haven't seen it in far too long:


Update:

The"update" to this post is that a nice lady promised me candy if I hauled it out of mothballs.

And I do like candy.

Maybe, as a country, we could take a vacation from toppling other country's governments for awhile?

Just for awhile, to see how we like it.

And if during that interregnum should you have a burning desire to jump in there and democratize someplace about whose internal tensions and fractures we know fuck all, please feel free to set up your very own Chinese Ever Victorious Army.  Get a bunch of your friends, stock up on the incredibly lethal weapons which it is now apparently every American's inalienable right to stockpile by the ton and haul into any Target or Toys R' Us or Applebees they damn well please, and head off to distant lands to help right their wrongs.

We'll leave a light on for ya.

Congratulations to Mr. James Wolcott


If I had to come up with one sentence to describe the work of world famous writer and friend-of-this-blog, James Wolcott, it would be someone who "exemplifies the dignity and esteem the essay form imparts to literature."

How cool, then, that the PEN awards have a category for that very thing!
PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays that exemplifies the dignity and esteem the essay form imparts to literature.
Winner: "Critical Mass" (Doubleday) by James Wolcott
Congratulations, James, most sincerely.

Your pal in the cornfield.

driftglass

Anyone Who Pretends to Be Shocked By This


Needs to be slapped (h/t Paul):
No Labels? No results? No problem.
How a bipartisan group that hoped to make Washington more functional became yet another cog in the D.C. moneymaking machine — and infuriated Democrats
By Meredith Shiner, Yahoo News
July 28, 2014 3:00 PM

...
It turns out that for a group that consistently bills itself as above the partisan politics and the corrosive culture of Washington, No Labels has come to exemplify some of the most loathed qualities of the town’s many interest groups.

Much of the group’s budget goes toward sustaining or promoting itself. According to No Labels’ confidential document, the group employed 22 paid staffers and eight consultants as of May. Of its projected $4.5 million budget for 2014, only 4 percent — or $180,000 — of spending was slotted for “Congressional Relations.” By contrast, administrative and operational expenses got $1.035 million over the same time period. Another 5 percent was set for travel. A further 30 percent ($1.35 million) was earmarked for digital growth and press, and 14 percent for fundraising.

It’s unclear how the group’s budget broke down in previous years, as No Labels is not obligated to fully disclose its finances or donors because of its 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. But many of the organization’s biggest detractors question why a group advocating for a better Washington would embrace the same practices as the groups profiting from dividing it.

Outside groups have become a cottage industry inside the Beltway, where they pay lush salaries to staffers and consultants while talking loudly and doing little to achieve their missions in this age of legislative stasis.

“The reality is that No Labels is a front group to raise money and pay consultants,” said a senior Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “They should release a full disclosure of not only how they’re raising their money but also how they’re spending it.”

When asked whether No Labels should disclose its donors when fighting for a less divisive political system, Jacobson said, “No — In our hyperpartisan world, the concern might well be the opposite,” suggesting that in a political atmosphere where most big donors spend money to boost one side over another, donors who choose to promote bipartisanship need greater protection.

No Labels has raised approximately $12 million since 2010, with another $4 million pledged for 2014, according to its private financial summary.

And though it’s impossible to tell the exact breakdown of high-dollar versus grass-roots donors to the group, a separate series of memorandums obtained by Yahoo News listed nearly a dozen contributors who have cut six-figure checks. In addition to the few big donors the group already had discussed publicly, this previously unknown list of donors paints a picture of a group that receives a substantial chunk of its financial backing from a small number of people.
...
As I wrote back in 2010, immediately after this entirely predictable Beltway HerbalLife scam was launched: 

Dead Center:  Political Cowardice Now Has Its Own "Movement"!

Yay!

In case you ever idled away an afternoon screwing around with your old political chemistry set/fantasy football league lineups and wondering what would happen if you took a bunch of Republican primary losers (Charlie Christ)...added in a goonbag of out-of-work and out-of-favor former Republican speechwriters and campaign button-men (David Frum/John Avlon/Mark McKinnon)...the last of the politically arteriosclerotic insider DLC goofs who aren't already drawing paychecks under the Obama Administration's "Former Clinton White House Full Employment Project" (Nancy Jacobson aka. Mrs. Mark Penn)...Republican minor teevee celebrities (Joey Joe Joe Junior Scarborough)...

...and David Fucking Brooks?

And then sprinkled the resulting crime against nature with an assload of money (because there are always, always endless assloads of money available for any horrible idea that reinforces Villager sensibilities)?

What you get crawling out of the Petri dish are things like the autotuned, content-free, sugar-coma-inducing horror that is

the "No Labels Anthem"

But nothing we did not expect, right?

I mean, ever since the Republican Base ducked out on paying the tab for a generation of being loudly and catastrophically wrong about everything by putting on funny hats, screaming about liberty and calling themselves "The Tea Party", their sleazy Centrist enablers have been seething with jealously. Quite suddenly the monster they built didn't need them anymore and the skeevy hustlers who had helped create the Racist/Corporatist/Dominionist Confederacy on the bones of the New Deal and the grave of the American Dream found themselves cast out and looking for their next meal ticket.

Preferably a meal ticket under a banner that -- like "Tea Party -- wouldn't keep bringing up their horribly inconvenient past as the sleazy, enabling hustlers.

Hey, kids! I have an idea! Lets peel those the icky, damning labels off of everything and -- presto! -- there is magically no longer any difference between rat poison and apple sauce!

Can I haz my million dollars now?
...
Of course, I got that last part wrong.

"No Labels" wasn't another vanity Ponzi scheme by Beltway parasites and Bush Regime deserters to  deflect any attempt to affix political blame for 30 years of Conservative depravity and disaster where is so righteously belongs while squeezing a million dollars out of various rich idiots and political cowards.

It's a scheme to bilk rich idiots and political cowards out of tens of million dollars while the shiny, shiny Both Sides Do It Players keeps them pleasantly deluded and distracted.

Slapped.

Immediately.

Yeah, I'm looking at you David Brooks.

Today In "Both Sides Do It": Chucknado Edition -- UPDATE



"Chucknado" Todd would like to go on the record as being indignant that both sides are playing impeachment games.
“I think the White House ought to be embarrassed for how they’re trying to play this. Boehner — the idea he’s saying, ‘We’re not talking impeachment, the lawsuit?’ Please. That’s about placating the impeachment caucus in his own party. This is an embarrassing moment for everyone in Washington. The leaders of both parties, they’re driving away people from the polls, driving people away from politics. This is cynical. It’s ugly. It’s disgusting.”
He would also very much like it if everyone would agree to forget that, since Inauguration Day, 2009, the GOP has never hesitated to use any stabby, explodey club they could lay their little paws on to destroy the Obama Presidency.

As I wrote a long time ago, the GOP has always operated it's Pretty Hate Machine like a nuclear reactor with a radioactive base of bigots and imbeciles at the core, Fox News/HateRadio injecting the propaganda and tweaking the wedge issues that keep that lunatic base super-heated, and all of it covered by a thick goo of David Brooksian "Both Sides Do It" coolant designed to shield the machine from criticism and keep the general public from seeing the naked hate and paranoia that drives the entire enterprise:
...
The Liquid Bobo Koolant


The Koolant system that keeps it all from blowing apart at the seams and melting itself back into the masturbatory fever dreams of every wannabe Jefferson Davis circulate a viscous Koolaid-based composite goo made up of 43% David Brooks, 27% Tom Friedman, 23% Tim Russert, 12% Joe Klein and 10% David Broder.

You say that’s 115%? Well fuck you and your fancy, liberal, Jebus-hating elitist “arithmetic” anyway.

If you press your ear to the containment shell you can hear in murmuring through the pipes:
“There are no crazies here.”

“The Southern Strategy is a myth.”

“Ignore Falwell, Dobson, and Reed. They’re Men of Faith.”

“Ignore Schlafly, Limbaugh and Hannity. They’re just firm”

“Ignore Robertson, Perle and Nordquist. They’re just amusingly provocative.”

“Gingrich isn’t a fascist; he’s just ‘controversial’.”

“Coulter isn’t really serious, even though she is the keynote speaker and commands top dollar at national Republican events, Republican media outlets and sold-out Wingnut Christian rallies.”

“That carcinoma spreading across your face. It looks just the Jesus, so you know it can’t be bad for you!”

“The Moderates really run the party.”

“The Center is where all right thinking people should be, despite the fact that in the last 30 years the Right has dragged the Center a million miles into Crazyville.”

“No matter how completely the GOP rapes American values, without a sliver of evidence to support this assertion you should still somehow believe that Liberals are either just as bad or worse.”

“The GOP cares about idiots like you.”

“There is no core in this reactor.”
That’s how it works. Simple, right?. And yet to build this electoral dynamo the Republican Party has had to completely sell out any vestige of principles or soul it once had for dominion over the divided and bitter land it has created. And because of that, there is no “Plan B” if you are a GOP candidate for national office.

Your Party Masters have burned your bridges and salted the Earth behind you, and now there is nothing left for you to do but desperately tunnel deeper into the Hell you have built for yourself.

Which is why John McCain now publicly grovels and kisses the poxy asses of the men who service and steered the Pretty Hate Machine diffidently past the bodies of the dead and dying of NOLA, and gleefully down the blood-tarred, bone-macadamed streets of Iraq. Men who went right after his family -- his wife and children -- and his honorable national service without a second thought when it suited their despicable purposes.

Because the Pretty Hate Machine does not come with a conscience, and it now casts its depraved shadow over their entire Party.

And over the entire nation that Party has seized.

And over the entire world that Party has polluted.

It has become all Means and no Ends but More Power, and as with all power, it comes with a steep price.
...
Because despite periodic and frightening bouts with Mussolinitis, we are not a fascist people by inclination.

...which is why they have to sorta ease into it, one gay bashing, flag burning, pro-torture, intolerant, anti-choice, anti-Science skirmish at a time. No blitzkrieg, but an ambling, “Aw Shucks” Pinochetism that, as you watch it over the course of decades, has marched this country directly and determinedly towards oblivion.
...
Thus stood were back in The Year of Our Lord 2006.

Then, a couple of years later as you may recall, Democrats took back the White House with smart and eloquent African-American Eisenhower Republican named Barack Hussein Obama, and the GOP's carefully calibrated batshit containment system blew apart at the seams.



And since this monster that has always been at the heart of the Modern Conservatism finally kicked the lab door of its hinges and began rampaging across the land, there has stopped being a point beyond which they dare not go.  They have already shut the government down and played for-real chicken with the debt ceiling because Freedumb!  They have already purged their ranks of anyone who thinks "cooperation" is not a dirty word.  They already wasted countless months on countless, meaningless votes on base-pandering nonsense while letting the actual, day-to-day job of governance rot.  They have already anointed fascists and madmen and demagogues as their leaders.  They have already made a meal out of hamstringing the President at every turn and then bitching that he was not moving fast enough.  They have already taken every fucking hammer in their bag to the Affordable Care Act...and then run on the ACA being broken.

We have already long passed the point when Conservatives lost the capacity to stop themselves from lying like junkies and and torching everything they touch like pyromaniacs.  This is a party which has filibustered their own bills and disowned their own ideas just to inflict political damage on someone they consider to be The Worst President In History, and yet Chucknado can look into the teevee camera and say with a straight face that somehow, impeaching Barack Obama would be a bridge too far for this mob.

Hell, even internal to Todd's own stupid argument is the acknowledgment that John Boehner's Stupid Lawsuit is nothing but a sop being thrown to the "impeachment caucus" that now make up the overwhelming majority of his party.
According to a YouGov poll taken earlier this month, 89 percent of Republicans think “Barack Obama has exceeded the limits of authority granted a President by the US Constitution,” and 68 percent think there is “justification for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Obama at this time.” Even when given a number of options including “President Obama has abused his powers as president which rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution, but he should not be impeached,” 63 percent still said he ought to be impeached. A CNN poll found a smaller number of Republicans saying Obama should be impeached, but still a majority of 57 percent.
So what exactly does Chuck Toddler think the base will do when the Boehner's Rubber Wingnut Biscuit gets tossed out of court?  Wake up?  Cool down?  Turn off Hate Radio and Fox News having realized that they've gone to far?

Because when the fuck has that ever happened?

If it were 1860, Shuck Todd would be whining that rumors of slave state secession were nothing but a fundraising trick by the Lincoln campaign.  If it were 1930, he would be reporting that the whole idea of a "Great Depression" was just a gimmick to drive down Herbert Hoover's poll numbers.  But it's 2014, and so we find Chuckles contractually and ideologically committed to pretending in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that this is one more "Both Sides" issue rather face the fact that the GOP is now owned and operated by people who would use the Statue of Liberty to sodomize Mount Rushmore if they thought it would bring Barack Obama down:



But the cherry on top of this whole steaming pile of "Both Sider" claptrap?

Harold Fraud Junior's craven me-too-ism and indignation that both sides won't stop messing around and get back to the single most important issue facing Western Civilization today:  Corporate tax inversion.

If NBC was fretting about when and how to pull the plug on the David Gregory Fiasco, they can stop worrying.  If they zapped Team Gregory into the cornfield and airdropped this band of centrist idiots and Republican flacks onto the set of "Meet the Press" mid-sentence, no one would notice the difference.

UPDATE:  Welcome Crooks and Liars readers and please feel free to join us for at the Exciting!Sequel! to this post... Chucknado Two -- When Terrible Analogies Attack! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh boy!

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

7) Every week.

8) Year.

9) After year.

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

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


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

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

Both equally wrong.

Every time.

Except...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down



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

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

So no worries there.

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


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

Thank goodness God forgives necessity.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Somebody give that boy a cookie.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ready For Eleanor


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

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


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

Vanity_Fair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, July 25, 2014

Professional Left Podcast #242

ProfessionalLeft

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

-- Ross Perot


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


Links:
Da' money goes here:




Thursday, July 24, 2014

They Shoot Healthcare, Don't They?


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

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

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

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

Well that's not just a good day.

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

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

A great fucking day for American Conservatism.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's the Republican Party.

Period. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yowza, Yowza.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NBC Contemplates Swapping Dick Sargent



For Dick York


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

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

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

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

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

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

Daddy Spank

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

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

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

OK, but then what rule applies to Glenn Greenwald?

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


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

to your friend Glenn?

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

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Silly Shit Andrew Sullivan Says, Ctd.

Vanity_Fair

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

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



The Incredible Shrinking Columnist



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

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


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