Monday, January 26, 2015

Blogging Update

Juggling a few things for the next many days so posting is going to be light for a bit.

Also some kind of residual crud is still kicking my ass and making my joints feel like ground glass.

Also there is nothing I can wrote about Smanhattan's Sense of Snow that is not already being said by every news organization in Christendom. Because according to my teevee machine, there is no other story.

So to all our brothers and sisters on the East Coast, curl up with someone fun and don't do anything your pal driftglass wouldn't do.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Today In "Both Sides Do It", Ctd. Forever: Unsurprisingly, David Brooks

Because if he does not robotically ballyhoo the Both Side Do It, Beltway party line every single fucking time he opens his cake hole --
MARK SHIELDS: No, I understand that, but let’s be blunt about it, not to be partisan, but we have an opposition party...

DAVID BROOKS: Well, there’s the Republican partisan attack. So, we — they’re both playing this game...
-- Pinch Sulzberger will detonate the tiny bomb he implanted in Mr. Brooks' skull as a condition of employment.

Both Siderism is uniformly everywhere. It's like the Beltway's own Iridium Layer.

It's continued existence is why it is impossible to have a reasonable debate about anything ever.

It's constant maintenance is our media elite's prime directive.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Professional Left Podcast #268

Introduced once again by Kevin's  promo video, which you clearly haven't spam enough yet.
It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
-- H. L. Mencken

Da' money goes here:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Guess Humbert Humbert Ran Out Of Coeds To Creep

From the New York Times:
The Devotion Leap
JAN. 22, 2015

David Brooks

The online dating site OkCupid asks its clients to rate each other’s attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 5. When men rated the women, the median score was about 3 and the ratings followed a bell curve — a few really attractive women and an equal number of women rated as unattractive.

But when women rated men, the results were quite different. The median score was between 1 and 2. Only 1 in 6 of the guys was rated as having above average looks. Either the guys who go to places like OkCupid, Tinder and other sites are disproportionately homely, or women have unforgiving eyes

Not gonna do it.

I have covered the execrable wattlings and hypocritical whinings and bald-faced lying of Mr. Brooks for a decade now.  From every angle, and back when virtually no one else would touch the subject.  I have noted with amusement Mr. Brooks sudden interest in, say, the subject of being alone in hotels 

and, as the Great Mystery of Mr. Family Values Lecture Guy's divorce swirled to life, I believe I was the only one who bothered to, y'know, pay attention to the ring finger.

So as America's premier David Brooks expert, I have done my duty.  And then some.

But unless some solvent media outlet wants to start cutting me paychecks every two weeks, I will not be further risking my fragile mental health by spelunking into to dark and loathsome horrors at the corner of David Brooks and OkCupid.

Not yet,

Hell Yeah

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

At First I Thought, "Maybe The Laziest, Most Cossetted Potato-Bug In American Punditry...


...might want to go a little easy with the insisting that other people need to 'earning' stuff:" (h/t Heather at Crooks and Liars):

BROOKS: I frankly think [President Obama] hasn't earned that. I think you've got to earn that with your conduct and he hasn't been as bipartisan as I think he should have been. Not that the Republicans have either. They've probably been worse, but you know, you've got to earn it.
I mean, leaving aside for the moment that the entire premise of Barry-O not being bipartisan enough should have gotten Brooks slathered in hamster musk and tossed into the snake pit, does someone that ridiculously shiftless really want to start the ball rolling on holding people to standards of any kind?

 But then I remembered that this was David Brooks we're talking.

And that the entire Beltway establishment is built on giving David Brooks one, utterly unearned freebie after another while never holding him accountable for a damn thing.

So never mind.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

"If Reagan is Not Risen...

...then our preaching is in vain."
-- Paul to the Christian community of Corinth, as filtered
through the American Conservative Movement.
So Professor Doctor Krugman went Full Driftglass over the weekend.

Which was nice:
Hating Good Government
JAN. 18, 2015

It’s now official: 2014 was the warmest year on record. You might expect this to be a politically important milestone. After all, climate change deniers have long used the blip of 1998 — an unusually hot year, mainly due to an upwelling of warm water in the Pacific — to claim that the planet has stopped warming. This claim involves a complete misunderstanding of how one goes about identifying underlying trends. (Hint: Don’t cherry-pick your observations.) But now even that bogus argument has collapsed. So will the deniers now concede that climate change is real?

Of course not. Evidence doesn’t matter for the “debate” over climate policy, where I put scare quotes around “debate” because, given the obvious irrelevance of logic and evidence, it’s not really a debate in any normal sense. And this situation is by no means unique. Indeed, at this point it’s hard to think of a major policy dispute where facts actually do matter; it’s unshakable dogma, across the board. And the real question is why.

Before I get into that, let me remind you of some other news that won’t matter...
He even arrives at the same, alarming place many of us have been for years:  the realization that "debating" anything with Conservatives is simply futile:
All this is utterly at odds with dire predictions that reform would lead to declining coverage and soaring costs. So will we see any of the people claiming that Obamacare is doomed to utter failure revising their position? You know the answer.

And the list goes on. On issues that range from monetary policy to the control of infectious disease, a big chunk of America’s body politic holds views that are completely at odds with, and completely unmovable by, actual experience. And no matter the issue, it’s the same chunk. If you’ve gotten involved in any of these debates, you know that these people aren’t happy warriors; they’re red-faced angry, with special rage directed at know-it-alls who snootily point out that the facts don’t support their position.

The question, as I said at the beginning, is why. Why the dogmatism? Why the rage? And why do these issues go together, with the set of people insisting that climate change is a hoax pretty much the same as the set of people insisting that any attempt at providing universal health insurance must lead to disaster and tyranny?
But because he is a better person than I am,  like many Liberals, Dr. Krugman shies away from following his own chain of comprehensively incriminating proofs all the way to their logical conclusion. Leading to to an explanation -- that Conservative are reactionary --
And why this hatred of government in the public interest? Well, the political scientist Corey Robin argues that most self-proclaimed conservatives are actually reactionaries. That is, they’re defenders of traditional hierarchy — the kind of hierarchy that is threatened by any expansion of government, even (or perhaps especially) when that expansion makes the lives of ordinary citizens better and more secure. I’m partial to that story, partly because it helps explain why climate science and health economics inspire so much rage.
-- which is necessary but sadly insufficient.

Because no tactical analysis of Conservatism will ever be be sufficient, and no strategy to dismantle its electoral and media machinery will ever work, until we all get it through our heads that Conservatism is not merely reactionary, but a full blown religious cult.

A cult with with a totalizing vision of reality that rejects science, causality, history, Christianity and democracy  in favor of the pronouncements of its Leadership Caste.

A cult which believes with raging, messianic fervor that since all of America's problems were caused by the Original Sin of Big Gummint, the only way to restore their White Christian Nation to it's Righteous and pre-Fallen state (which they have only glimpsed every now and then in certain John Wayne movies) is to destroy the federal government and drive all of Jesusland's scheming, God-hating Liberals and parasitic minorities into the sea.

A cult of giddy fascism....wrapped in the American flag, carrying the bible, with a Toby Keith soundtrack.

A cult in harness to the loathsome agenda of evil men.

A cult which will stab itself in its collective belly over and over again on the orders of its Leadership Caste...just so it can spend another glorious day bitching about how Big Gummint Liberals are making their tummy hurt.

Back in 2009, I chose Paul's (the bible one, not the Nobel in Economics one) admonition to the Corinthians because it really is magnificent in its simplicity. He reduces the entire Christian doctrine as he understood it to a single syllogism, and shows why it is nearly impossible for many people to unleap certain leaps of faith:
  1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen. 
  2. And if Christ has not risen, then everything we believe is nonsense.
Like any good Jesuit will tell you, the Bible is actually full of textual errors, mistranslated words, parables which were never meant to be taken at face value, texts in the "revelatory" style because that was the way dangerous writing about the tyrants of the day were encrypted, stories in which the characters leap all over the place geographically because rearranging things that way drove the polit better, and so forth.  None of these things bother me or disturb my faith, but they will unhinge a fundamentalist who has traded inquiry for idolatry and must believe that every word in that book is the literal and inerrant word of God,

Which, quicker than you can say "Australopithecus africanus", will find you in a Creationist "Science" class, being taught that the unimpeachable evidence of 17 different branches of science are all "lies straight from the Pit of Hell".

So too is this the case in American Conservatism, which is not merely a fundamentalist cult that worships terrible ideas, but a fundamentalist cult with immensely wealthy patrons that worships terrible ideas.

And like any other cult in which the members have gone all-in and done horrendous, unforgivable things in the name of the True Faith, it has become impossible for Conservatism to save itself, because like any successful cult, it has given its adherents no way out.  It is, by now, almost literally unthinkable for a Conservative to acknowledge any error other than being insufficiently pure in their raging Conservatism.  And to admit that, just maybe, the Dirty Hippies would be...catastrophic. Identity-annihilating.  

There is no greater sin against Saint Reagan in the hierarchy of Conservatives heresies than to entertain the concept -- even as a theoretically -- that Conservatism itself is the problem.  Doubters are instantly cast out as squishy RINOS, and reformed are declared abominations and cast out.  

As must needs be, because what dirty "realists" like Dr. Krugman can never quite wrap their heads around is that Conservatives are not citizens fighting policy battles for a specific, marginal tax rate, or against a particular regulation; they are holy warriors locked in a Ragnarok/End Times struggle against the Forces of Evil.  

They believe fervently that, if they win, America will finally be restored to the freedom-jizzing, gun-loving, Christian paradise on Earth as it was in the Days of Old.  And they believe just as fervently that, should they lose, and nothing shall remain of Her but a Hieronymus Bosch hellscape of runamok petty IRS bureaucrats, uppity pitchfork-wielding minority devils, union thugs, feminazis, free goodies like "health care" and "clean water" being handed out to every moocher in the land, and nothing but mandatory Commie kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone else.

Their holy war does not acknowledge factual reality and does permit compromise or reform, because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding:

I Have Noticed a 100% Correlation...

...between people like Bill Maher -- whose profession life depends on being in front of sponsored cameras or behind sponsored microphones -- and a belief that citizen-led boycotts of sponsored, syndicated monsters like, say, Rush Limbaugh are somehow wildly beyond the pale and an illiberal assault on the 1st amendment (h/t Heather at Crooks and Liars.)

Perhaps one of the celebrities in Mr. Maher's regular rotation will take a moment to explain to him the distinction between "commerce" and "constitution".

Perhaps the next time Mr. Maher invites Andrew Sullivan over so they can jerk each other off over the joys of Libertarianism. Mr. Sullivan can point out the difference between the government abrogating the 1st amendment to, say, shut a newspaper down, and citizens using the 1st amendment to express their displeasure with corporations shoveling money into the pockets of bigots and liars with gargantuan megaphones.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

"Always a Bridesmaid" Edition.

The vapors-powered locomotive of yet another soon-to-be-forgotten Presidential Exploratory committee seethed flatulently out of the station today as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Closet As Deep As The Ausable Chasm) --

-- dropped a hanky, pulled off his glass slipper and heaved it at Prince Charming's head and dipped a dainty toe into the turbulent waters of the 2016 Republican Race For Sheldon Adelson's Wallet.

In an announcement that caused Godless Heathen Liberals to learn to pray again, and Conservatives across the Confederacy to laugh so hard their dicks momentarily fell out of their cousins, Senator Graham said he would make an awesome president because:

"I've been more right than...wrong when it comes to foreign policy".
Because in American politics and on Beltway teevee, strings of words coming out of people's mouth holes don't have to actually mean anything anymore.

Over in The Better Universe, this would have been a ripe and splendid moment for Shuck Todd to leap right on in and practice some of that "journalism" that all the kids used to talk about back in the 1970s. Something along the lines of "What the fuck are you talking about, Goober?" followed by a swift assay of Senator Graham's foreign policy scams and debacles, starting with, say, the Entire God Damn Bush Administration, and finishing up with, perhaps, a quick review of Graham's most recent bout of hysterical presidential impeachment fever last summer.

He could even do it without the swears and it would be almost as authentically journalistic. 

But then, as Shuck Todd himself explained  less than one month ago (and as every mainstream media organization in American immediately and aggressively pounded straight down the memory hole)

if he were to toss anything remotely like a tough question anywhere in the vicinity of Senator Graham, Lindsey's friend John may well beat Shuck up, steal his lunch money, and make it so nobody sits at Shuck's table in the Sunday Morning cafeteria no more.

For the sake of context, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this sad bit of Shuck Todd journalistic FAIL had been immediately preceded by much grander act of contempt for his own profession during which Shuck Todd watched in obedient silence as Lindsey Graham used the NBC cameras and the public airwaves to drop trou and take yet another a huge, steaming dump of wingnut talking points on the public record...after which Shuck Todd handed him a moist towelette and asked if perhaps Mistah Lindsey would like his julep reminted (h/t Heather at Crooks and Liars):
Chuck Todd Allows Lindsey Graham To Blame Obama For Deaths In Syrian Civil War
Because letting Republicans get away with murder on the air over and over again is not a bug; it's a business model.  

Still, if I may be permitted a small conceit, I must admit that the thought of watching Hillary Clinton peeling the bark right off 2016 GOP standard-bearer Lindsey Graham in a presidential debate delights me in a terrible, terrible way.  Of course, such a thing could never happen in the real world, but if it could, I would imagine it would look a lot like this:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I'm Sure, Somehow


Boy Says He Didn't Go To Heaven; Publisher Says It Will Pull Book

Nearly five years after it hit best-seller lists, a book that purported to be a 6-year-old boy's story of visiting angels and heaven after being injured in a bad car crash is being pulled from shelves. The young man at the center of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey, said this week that the story was all made up.
The book's publisher, Tyndale House, had promoted it as "a supernatural encounter that will give you new insights on Heaven, angels, and hearing the voice of God."
But Thursday, Tyndale House confirmed to NPR that it is taking "the book and all ancillary products out of print."
The decision to pull the book comes after Alex Malarkey wrote an open letter to retailer LifeWay and others who sell Christian books and religious materials. It was published this week on the Pulpit and Pen website.
"I did not die. I did not go to Heaven," Alex wrote. He continued, "I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible."
Last spring, Beth Malarkey wrote a blog post stating, "Alex's name and identity are being used against his wishes (I have spoken before and posted about it that Alex has tried to publicly speak out against the book), on something that he is opposed to and knows to be in error according to the Bible."
She added, "I am fully aware of what it feels like to be pulled in. There are many who are scamming and using the Word of God to do it. They are good, especially if you are not digging into your Bible and truly studying it. They study their audience and even read 'success' books to try to build better and bigger ... 'ministries/businesses.' "
If only there were some kind could take from this.

Something about... never trusting hucksters who use religion to scam the stupids out of their money and votes and loyalty.

But in the end, the Roger Ailes' of this world just reach into their heads, flip the RESET button, order them to unremember what -- just moment ago -- they had sworn they believed with all their soul, and send them once again out into the world to charge into yet another suicidal battle against their own best interests.


And over.

And over again.

Which is why we dirty hippie are stuck with the unhappy job of beating them to their knees.


And over.

And over again.