Monday, September 29, 2014

Half-Fox and Half-Free, Ctd.

UNITY


Politico Magazine (h/t Alert Reader "Steve") does a splendid job deconstructing our current problem with race and politics...

...and discovers what any Liberal would have told you decades ago, and what every Liberal blogger has been saying since the dawn of blogging.
But the legacy of the all these landmarks is much more complicated and tinged with—make that drenched in—irony than the conventional story of courage and triumph lets on. It is time to state the obvious. Forget about weak explanations for today’s deep political divisions like “the culture of Washington,” gerrymandering or the rise of cable TV: The civil rights movement, while a victory on many levels, was also the origin of our present morass. It spawned a powerful national “white resistance” countermovement that decisively altered the racial geography of American politics, pushing the national Democratic and Republican parties off center and toward their ideological margins, undermining the centrist policy convergence of the postwar period and setting the parties on the divisive course they remain on today. Many will blame today’s unprecedented political polarization on recent events, such as the rise of the Tea Party or Obama’s election in 2008, but they will be wrong. The seeds of America’s dysfunction were planted 50 years ago. And the ugly politics of race had everything to do with it.
...

Though Johnson’s nomination was never in danger, the fact that at the height of LBJ’s popularity, an unrepentant segregationist could attract the support of between thirty 30 and 50 percent of registered Democratic voters in three Northern states was nothing short of a revelation to political strategists in both parties. Seeing an opportunity, an increasing number of Republicans began to embrace more conservative racial politics designed to appeal to Wallace supporters throughout the country. “If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so,” said Ronald Reagan during his 1966 campaign for California governor, in which he also decried welfare and opposed government efforts to encourage neighborhood integration.
...

In the popular vote, Nixon edged Humphrey by the narrowest of margins, 43.4 to 42.7 percent. As Republican leaders looked to the future, however, they weren’t focused on that slim gap, but rather the whopping 57 percent majority represented by the combined votes cast for Nixon and Wallace. Republican strategists believed this figure represented a dominant conservative majority that could ensure GOP control of the White House for years to come. Nixon and the Republicans had claimed the lion’s share of the South’s electoral votes for the first time in history. In a scant eight years, the Party of Lincoln had gone from being the more racially liberal of the two major parties to something more closely resembling a coalition of white racial conservatives, with the South as its natural geographic home, at least when it came to presidential politics.

... These politics were on full display in the 2012 Republican primaries, a half a century later, with the candidates seemingly trying to outdo one another in impugning the poor and African-Americans in particular. Newt Gingrich accused Obama of being a “food-stamp president” and opined that, “poor people should want paychecks, not handouts.” Rick Santorum was even more explicit when he offered up the following quote: “I don’t want to make black peoples’ lives better by giving them someone else’s money.”

Even Mitt Romney played the race card, blaming his defeat on the policy “gifts” that Obama had bestowed on the very “dependent” segments of the population he had alluded to in his notorious “47 percent” video...
To which I say...so what?

Seriously, so what?

Every bit of this ugliness has been on public display and available for public comment for decades. 

And yet tomorrow and the next day...and on my next birthday...and the day after that...and on election day...and the day after that...this country will still be politically divided amount three groups.

  • Exhausted Liberals, for whom this is all brutally self-evident and has been since forever.
  • Conservatives, go to bed at to the reassuring, brain-killing hum of Fox News them over and over again that the real racists are those damn Liberals who keep talking about race. 
  • And the Centrist/Independents...who hide in the No Labels political sock drawer and reflexively shriek "BothSides!BothSides!BothSides!" anytime anyone starts bringing up the sordid history of modern Conservatism. 

 This berserk monster that the Right built and then set loose in order to win elections has been running amok in plain sight for my entire life

… What Mr. Ryskind seems constitutionally unable to understand is that there is a vast difference between the criticism of a man or a party, and the setting up of criteria or patriotism which equates differences of opinion with disloyalty.

We have need in the country for an enlightened, watchful and articulate opposition. We have no need for semi-secret societies who are absolutist, dictatorial, and would substitute for a rule of law and reason an indiscriminate assault on the institutions of this republic that should and must be held sacrosanct. …

“[The far right cannot] discount the fact that sitting it their parlor is the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, every racist group in the United States and not a few of some Fascist orders that have scrambled their way up from the sewers to a position of new respectability.”
And this is the thing that haunts me. 

1964 is a very long time ago, and in the last half-century, like most of us, I have read I don't know how many hundreds of articles all pretty much like this one, all reaching the same loathsome conclusion.

And yet, here we are in the Year of Our Lord 2014, still being buried up to our knees every day under the same, steady cataract of predictable Conservative lies, and then buried up to our eyebrows under a second, smothering avalanche of predictable, Both Sider denial.

So once again last I am compelled to point out that trying to persuaded Conservatives with reason at this lat date is like trying to persuade the Moon with a two-by-four: you're swinging at air and you always will be,

The only way to break the lethal stasis that is poisoning our capacity to govern ourselves is to begin swinging our biggest rhetorical guns around and point them straight at Conservative-enabling Centrists every single day.

That is where they are at their weakest, so that is where we must be strong.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down




This week, Meet the Press host Shuck Todd decided to kick it old school -- 
NBC insiders are “relieved” to not have to suffer through another week of dull ratings for “Meet the Press” under new host Chuck Todd, sources sniped to Page Six.

In the wake of the program’s third-place finish in the ratings last week, this Sunday’s broadcast will be pre-empted for the Ryder Cup golf tournament.

Political guru Todd scored a quick win in his Sept. 7 debut on “MTP” with an exclusive interview with President Obama, drawing nearly 3 million viewers. But he’s since slipped to third place, grabbing only 2.4 million viewers for the Sept. 21 program. ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” scored 3 million viewers on the Sept. 21 show, while CBS’s “Face the Nation” earned 2. 9 million viewers.

One media insider told us of NBC execs: “They are quite relieved there is no broadcast given their showings in the ratings. They lost by a huge margin and have poured so much money into promotion and press that it’s a surprise they’re not doing a little better and weren’t able to hold any of the audience that tuned in for Todd’s premiere week.”
-- and deploy what I identified back in May as former host David Gregory's career endgame strategy of improving MTP's ratings by not airig MTP:
...
Several weeks ago when this started, I riffed mockingly that this was NBC test-driving a burn-the-village-to-save-the-village strategy to relieve David Gregory of the responsibility of pretending to be a journalist long enough to let the searing actuality of Greggers' week-in-week-out banal, Beltway incompetence fade and be replaced by the same kind of nostalgia for a fake past that drives people to pine for the Good Old Days of St. Ronny Reagan.
The Meet the Press ratings death-spiral was briefly arrested due to preemption by a soccer game, which meant that the John McCain/Lindsay Graham Human Neocon Centipede was able to sleep in today, and Chuck Todd had to read his 2016 goat entrails alone in his kitchenette with no one listening.  I think this bold "Saving Meet the Press by not actually airing Meet the Press" idea has a lot of promise.
But now that they have done it yet again, I cannot help but wonder what special senior executive money-lined face-saving coffin they have prepared for Mr. Gregory and what fresh hell the geniuses at NB-See/NB-Do have waiting in the wings to drive down my estimation of American journalism even further.
So if you wanted a big, ol' toke of Todd this Sunday, you had to shimmy into your HazMat suit and slide on over to the Breitbart Columbarium of the Journalistic Undead where Shuck was busy doing a little retail sucking up to the shallow end of the American gene pool.

Sample Question (with emphasis added):
...But what Reagan inherited was just as bad as what Obama inherited. The Reagan policies created a million jobs in one month. Now we're six years into Obama's policies. At what point, for the good of the country, do we admit Obama's policies have failed?
Correct  Answer:
Let me explain why that is quite possibly the stupidest damn thing I have heard since the last time Sarah Palin opened her pie hole.  I will go slow and use little wordsies.
Shuck Todd Answer:
It's always been: "This is going to be the year the economy accelerates," and every time you think the economy is stepping on the gas, something trips it up. I think we're going to know in six to nine months. That's when a judgment will start to be made.
 Jesus, man, where's your fucking pride?

If I had to guess, I'd guess that within three months, NBC will revive the now-nearly-forgotten "wheel show" concept



and put Todd, Joe Scarborough, Luke Russert and a Random Wingnut Guest Host on a one-week-on/three-week-off rotation.

Thus creating a train wreck which will be visible from orbit.

And proving definitively that the only topical public interest teevee being aired on Sunday anymore is a half hour comedy on HBO (h/t Heather at Crooks and Liars)




Saturday, September 27, 2014

More Shit You Will Never Read About



In any of those 144-point font emails you get from Crazy Uncle Liberty.

This chart via Mother Jones:


And the reason you will never hear about this on the Right is because it is ideologically and psychologically impossible for Conservatives to admit that the liquidation of the American Middle Class and the plight of the American poor is due to anything but their laziness and moral deficiency (via K-Thug):
Liberals talk about circumstances; conservatives talk about character.

This intellectual divide is most obvious when the subject is the persistence of poverty in a wealthy nation. Liberals focus on the stagnation of real wages and the disappearance of jobs offering middle-class incomes, as well as the constant insecurity that comes with not having reliable jobs or assets. For conservatives, however, it’s all about not trying hard enough. The House speaker, John Boehner, says that people have gotten the idea that they “really don’t have to work.” Mitt Romney chides lower-income Americans as being unwilling to “take personal responsibility.” Even as he declares that he really does care about the poor, Representative Paul Ryan attributes persistent poverty to lack of “productive habits.”...
Just as it is ideologically and psychologically impossible for Conservatives to admit that racism still exists and is used to grease the gears of their movement.

Just as it is ideologically and psychologically impossible for Conservatives to admit that climate change is real.

Just as it is ideologically and psychologically impossible for Conservatives to admit that widespread voter suppression is key to their hold on power

Just as it is ideologically and psychologically impossible for Conservatives to admit that history began before January 2009.

Just as it is ideologically and psychologically impossible for Conservatives to admit that they cheered for people like this -- 
"And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush." -- Richard Perle, 2003

"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."  -- Dick Cheney, 2003

"I think there's been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America, that, you know, somehow the Shia can't get along with the Sunni."  -- Bill Kristol, 2003
-- and called anyone who questioned them a traitor.

Just as it is ideologically and psychologically impossible for Conservatives to admit that this list barely scratches the surface of their vast and utter failure as competent citizens.

We will never be rid of Conservatism, but like carbon in the atmosphere, if we act aggressively, we can still mitigate the worst of their long term damage.

The first, important step in that direction is to admit that Conservatism really exists and is really a problem.

Which means the second important step in that direction is to drive from the public stage people who make a living pretending that Conservatism isn't really a serious problem (denialism), or who "teach the controversy" by pretending that it is no worse than Liberalism (Both Sides!).

Because without the active assistance of courtier media Deniers and the Both Siders, Conservatism could not control our public agenda with anything like the power and reach they exercise today, which is why people like this 



must go.

Laugh Delivery


From here.

Must Love God$



...
Under "likes" we find that Mr. Brooks appears to enjoy Catholic singer/songwriter Audrey Assad -- 
For example, Audrey Assad is a Catholic songwriter with a crystalline voice and a sober intensity to her stage presence. (You can see her perform her song “I Shall Not Want” on YouTube.) She writes the sort of emotionally drenched music that helps people who are in crisis. A surprising number of women tell her they listened to her music while in labor.
-- however only 800 words to work with, Mr. Brooks had to keep it short, so interested ladies should also know that Mr. Brooks is a committed lifestyle-asymmetriphobe who also likes
But he does not like:
 Well, I'd sorta forgotten about it.

Until yesterday, when this crossed my "desk":
The $1-Billion-a-Year Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven’t Heard Of

Are you female, gay, non-Christian, or otherwise interested in the separation of church and state? Get to know The Gathering, a shadowy, powerful network of hard-right funders meeting Thursday in Florida.

Have you heard of the $1,750-per-person “Gathering,” which starts Thursday in Orlando, Florida?

Probably not. But if you’re female, gay, non-Christian, or otherwise interested in the separation of church and state, your life has been affected by it.

The Gathering is a conference of hard-right Christian organizations and, perhaps more important, funders. Most of them are not household names, at least if your household isn’t evangelical. But that’s the point: The Gathering is a hub of Christian Right organizing, and the people in attendance have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine “religious liberty” (as in the Hobby Lobby case), fight same-sex marriage, fight evolution, and, well, you know the rest. They’re probably behind that, too.

Featured speakers have included many of the usual suspects: Alliance Defending Freedom President and CEO Alan Sears (2013), Focus on the Family President Jim Daly (2011), and Family Research Council head Tony Perkins (2006)...
OK, sure, that's very creepy,  And the list of loathsome causes to which these Mammons for Jebus disburse millions and millions of dollars ever year is frankly terrifying --
From 2001-12, the NCF gave $163,384,998 to leading anti-LGBT organizations. These include Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), Campus Crusade for Christ (aka CRU), the National Organization for Marriage, and the Alliance for Marriage. They fund ex-gay ministries like Exodus International, exporters of homophobia like Advocates International, you name it.
The NCF is just getting started, though. The Green family—who were at The Gathering in 2008 and 2013—have said they intend to leave much of their fortune to it. And in 2009, Hobby Lobby-related contributions were the No. 1 source of NCF funding (about $54 million), which we know because Eli Clifton, funded by The Nation Institute, somehow got hold of an NCF 2009 990 Schedule B form, which shows NCF’s top funders that year (Hobby Lobby was No. 1, Maclellan Foundation No. 2)...
-- but, you ask, "What the Hell does this 'Magical Thinking: The Gathering' jamboree have to do with the mating habits of David Brooks?"

Fair question:
... his year, however, they are joined by David Brooks of The New York Times and Michael Gerson of The Washington Post. What’s going on? Has The Gathering gone mainstream?

Hardly, says Bruce Wilson, director of the advocacy group Truth Wins Out’s Center Against Religious Extremism and a leading researcher on The Gathering. The selection of this year’s speakers, he says, is just the latest in a long line of misdirections and canards.
Ruh roh.  

Well, in fairness, there is no greater expert today working in the very profitable "misdirections and canards" field than David Brooks, so this makes a bent sorta sense,

The Daily Beast continues:
...
Well, there are two possibilities. One, Brooks knows a bit about the underlying politics of The Gathering but doesn’t care, which is to say he’s on board with that political agenda to the extent he’s willing to lend his reputation to the event. Two, he’s relatively clueless. He’s been conned. Which would raise questions about his political acumen.

I’m very suspicious that Brooks’ planned appearance at The Gathering was an outgrowth of his heavy participation in the Faith Angle Forum of frequent The Gathering participant Michael Cromartie, who advises elite secular media on the culture wars, which he is also helping to wage...
So free advice to any of you, uh, professional ladies who may be working this Christopath whine-hoist over thee weekend.  If you are braced by a nerdy moral scold reeking of desperation who wants to take you up to his room to talk about his Great Man theory of history, get your money up-front.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Professional Left Podcast #251

ProfessionalLeft
"How beautiful the Republic was -- under the Empire/"
-- saying of the French Third Republic




Links:


Da' money goes here:



The Provocapreneurs ™



The Most Andrew Sullivanish thing Andrew Sullivan has said in very a long time.
I hope Dish readers realize that what matters is not what I have to say but what the Dish itself slowly unearths after my sundry provocations.

-- Andrew Sullivan, 09/25/14, regarding the push-back he received from readers
on his "Worse Than Boosh!!!" freak-out.

So isochronal bouts of hysterical overreaction aren't a bug; they're a business plan.

Good information!

And how inspiring to see that Tina Brown's Asparagus Blowjob theory of  "journalism"

has been successfully transmitted to the next generation of aging hipster provocapreneurs™

Like hemophilia.

Or Libertarianism.

Also, and unrelated, Mr. Sullivan has now sunk to reaching elbow deep into the Kristol Neoconservative Crime Family whelping box --
[Matthew] Continetti was born in Alexandria, Virginia. ... In summer 2002 he did a Collegiate Network internship at the National Review, where he worked as a research assistant for Rich Lowry.  He joined The Weekly Standard as an editorial assistant, and later became associate editor.
...

He lives in Arlington, Virginia. He is married to Anne Elizabeth Kristol, the daughter of neo-conservative writer William Kristol...
-- to find a wingman for his weekly Clinton tantrum:
Matthew Continetti is tired of the Clintons’ “passive-aggressive, push-pull tactic of complaining about and condemning supposedly harsh media coverage even as she and her husband and their minions use access and connections to advance their preferred narratives, bullying reporters and outlets who do not conform, and responding to press inquiries with snark and insults and flip and mendacious retorts”...
The Clintons are indeed a target-rich environment, but going Dutch with the author of "The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star" for your afternoon drive-by Clinton and Media bashing is taking lazy, incestuous Beltway slumming to a different level.

White Man's Burden

QUEENBOBO_SM
London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.

-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1887
Mr. Brooks would like you to believe that the maintenance of empire is just same as the writing habits of Maya Angelou.

No.

Really.
When she was writing, Maya Angelou would get up every morning at 5:30 and have coffee at 6. At 6:30, she would go off to a hotel room she kept — a small modest room with nothing but a bed, desk, Bible, dictionary, deck of cards and bottle of sherry. She would arrive at the room at 7 a.m. and write until 12:30 p.m. or 2 o’clock
Cool.  Because who didn't love Maya Angelou!  Saw her once in-person St. Sabina's church.  She was great.  So where exactly are you going with this, Mr. Brooks?
People who lead routine, anal-retentive lives have a bad reputation in our culture. But life is paradoxical. In situation after situation, this pattern recurs: order and discipline are the prerequisites for creativity and daring.
Uh, OK.  I'm sorry the other kids at The New York Times make fun of you, but perhaps you can comfort yourself by rolling around in the piles and piles of money they shove at you.
The world needs order, too...
And here we go...
 But the larger point is that the order of global civilization, like the order in a poet’s mind, is something that has to be fought and imposed every day.
No, the larger point is that David Brooks does not understand that nations are not children.

The larger point is that David Brooks is clearly incapable of comprehending the difference between the self-discipline of poets and writers are and the externally imposed discipline of parents and jailers and empires.

The larger point is that for his entire career David Brooks has been an unabashed cheerleader for any policy of imposed order and American Empire which permits David Brooks to sit safely and comfortably behind the trigger, no matter how horrible the actual outcome of of those policies might turn out to be,

Finally and most importantly. David Brooks is wildly in favor of any form of social order which promises never to hold the loungers and idlers of Empire like David Brooks accountable for anything,

And any form of social order which actively rewards scoundrels and grifters like David Brooks is a social order which cannot be trusted.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Breitwald Convergence Continues




From the Andrew Breitbart Memorial Temple of Intemperance:
GLENN GREENWALD: 'PEACE PRIZE PRESIDENT' HAS BOMBED SEVEN MUSLIM COUNTRIES

Liberal columnist Glenn Greenwald and Matt Drudge agree on one thing this week: Both noted that Syria has become the 7th Muslim country that the "Peace Prize president" bombed...
You can click on the link if you want, but I wouldn't go into the comment section without a HazMat Suit and a full battery of shots for everything from distemper to whatever that sentient snot from Prometheus is called.  However even the conspiracy mongers at the Breitbart reliquary have not yet disappeared so far up Alex Jones' ass that they would seriously suggest that The Kenyan Usurper is scattering munitions willy-nilly over Muslim counties for the expressed purpose of creating more terrorists.

But Glenn sure did:
At this point, it’s more rational to say they do all of this not despite triggering those outcomes, but because of it. Continuously creating and strengthening enemies is a feature, not a bug. It is what justifies the ongoing greasing of the profitable and power-vesting machine of Endless War.
Elsewhere and unrelated,  Brother Charles Pierce has this nuanced take on the resignation of  Eric Holder and his mixed record as AG:
I wish Holder had gone after the criminals on Wall Street, too, that being an actual scandal and all. But the socialist Alinskyite president whom Holder served didn't want to do that, and therefore, that horse is long out of the barn and happily in its dotage by now. But he stepped up boldly when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and he refused to resign when the Darrell Issa's of the underworld demanded his head. In this sense, Holder clearly aspired to the late Mr. Behan's view of critics in general: "Fk the begrudgers." There's something to be said for that.
One of Eric Holders great and enduring contributions to American political discourse is how effective his unremitting blackness was at driving Conservatives absolutely berserk.  Drove them to very openly use their Outside Voice in front of teevee cameras when they really shoulda oughta been using their Inside Voice in some dank corner of a neoconfederate dive bar.



Not that it made the slightest difference, of course: our courtier press' unparalleled ability to pretend such Conservatives simply do not exist makes making them the story all but impossible. But it was great fun watching the Raving Bigot Party turn itself positively umber and twist itself  like a sack of epileptic pythons trying not to scream "N*GGER!" at the tops of their collective lungs whenever the subject turned to Holder.

Or Obama.

Holder also leaves with decent, extensive civil rights record, which one would think might cut some ice with a former civil rights attorney, like, say, Glenn Greenwald.

But of course for Glenn, nothing exists outside of his own pet issues:


In addition to reporting on the important and consequential issue of domestic surveillance and NSA overreach, Glenn routinely lapses into the worst kind of conspiracy mongering and venomous, fact-free bombast.

And with one or two notable exceptions, our Liberal media ignores Glenn's outbursts of reckless assholery just as consistently and universally as our courtier press ignores the lunacy of our Conservative citizens.

Which is interesting.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The First Rule Of Right Club Is:


You do not talk about Right Club.

Which is why Dave Brooks is the undisputed King of the Right.

Because according to Mr. Brooks, there is literally no problem anywhere on Earth for which Conservatism has ever been to blame.

In the Right Club, Every Single God Damn problem is either exclusively the fault of the Dirty Hippies and Woodstock or somehow equally shared by all of our "elites", every leader of both parties in every branch of government, and, apparently, every living person in America.

After speaking glowingly about how snappy and cheerful all of his tony friends are when he greets them at any of New York City's many fine piazzas and palazzos, Mr, Brooks gets right down to turning our national frown upside-down by diagnosing for the umpteenth time what is really wrong with this grumpy ol' nation.  We're all of us just too darned partisan!
The truest thing to say is this: We are living in an amazingly fortunate time. But we also happen to be living during a leadership crisis, and a time when few people have faith in elites to govern from the top. We live in a vibrant society that is not being led.

We don’t suffer from an abuse of power as much as a nonuse of power. It’s been years since a major piece of legislation was passed, and there’s little prospect that one will get passed in the next two.
As you will no doubt notice,  no one in particular is at fault here.  Not one political party or another.  Not one ideological damp or another.  Just "leadership".
This leadership crisis is eminently solvable. First, we need to get over the childish notion that we don’t need a responsible leadership class, that power can be wielded directly by the people. America was governed best when it was governed by a porous, self-conscious and responsible elite...
Not the Rush Limbaugh Party.  

The "Government Is the Problem" Party.  

Not the gun-waving, tyranny-shrieking inbred halfwits of the Tea Party.  

Not "Going Galt" meatsticks.

Just "powerful people".  Generically.
Powerful people might follow a code of public spiritedness. That means restraining your partisan passions and parochial interests for the sake of domestic tranquility. Re-establish the lines between public service and private enrichment.
Who practice "political bigotry" on both sides.
In 1960, 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said they would be displeased if their children married someone of the opposite party. By 2010, Cass Sunstein observes, those numbers had jumped to 49 percent and 33 percent. How small-minded can you get?
No, there is not a single problem today that cannot be overcome with a couple of technical fixes to our electoral process.  

Which will never happen,  Because our political process is fucked in the head.

Thanks to David Brooks' Republican Party:
Fourth, put congressional reform atop the national agenda. More states could have open primaries. Nonpartisan commissions could draw district lines. Presidential nominees should get an up-or-down vote within 90 days. 
Year in, year out, I have never read a public writer so widely hailed and wise and sage by our political establishment who was more shit-his-pants, abjectly terrified of the obvious truth about his own party and profession, or more willing to pathologically lie about it -- badly  -- every day of his professional life.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday Morning Came and Went


It turns out in my haste to have a normal life on an amazingly hectic Sunday, I missed several orts of tasty goodness, so here you go...

First, how did  I overlooked the fact that it NBC's turn this week to level-up Ramesh Ponnuru's Serious Beltway Person cred by loaning him a national platform? 

You might not be old enough to remember, but Mr. Ponnuru first staked out his place in the national spotlight at the height of the Bush Administration's War on Causality and Sanity when he bravely jumping onto the already Manila-Jeepney-At-Rush-Hour-overloaded


"Punch A Hippie For Jesus" bandwagon with the publication of his magnum dopus, "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life" 

Mr. Ponnuru his not missed a meal since.

Here is the top Amazon review of Mr. P's masterpiece...
Is the Democratic Party the “Party of Death”? If you look at their agenda they are. IT’S NOT JUST abortion-on-demand. It’s euthanasia, embryo destruction, even infanticide—and a potentially deadly concern with “the quality of life” of disabled people. If you think these issues don’t concern you—guess again. The Party of Death is roaring into the White House! In The Party of Death, Ponnuru details how left-wing radicals, using abortion as their lever, took over the Democratic Party—and how they have used their power to corrupt our law and politics, abolish our fundamental right to life, and push the envelope in ever more dangerous directions. In The Party of Death, Ponnuru reveals: How Hillary Clinton could use the abortion issue (but not in the way you think) Why the conventional wisdom about Roe v.Wade is a lie How the party of death—a coalition of special interests ranging from Planned Parenthood to Hollywood—came to own the Democratic Party How the mainstream media promotes the party of death Why Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, and other leading liberals gave up being pro-life How liberals use animal rights to displace human rights The Democratic presidential candidate who said that infanticide is a mother’s “choice” How doctors—and other health care professionals—are being coerced, by law, into violating their consciences The ultrasound revolution: why there’s hope to stop the party of death Ponnuru’s shocking exposé shows just how extreme the Party of Death has become as they seek to destroy every inconvenient life, demand fealty to their radical agenda, and punish anyone who defies them. But he also shows how the tide is turning, how the Party of Death can be defeated, and why its last victim might be the Democratic Party itself...
If I may indulge in a bit of modest self-promotion, at my depressed and hung-over worst I am a categorically better writer than Mr. Ponnuru.  And so I have to wonder what the odds are be that if I penned 200-page treatise entitled, say, "The Party of Madness:  How Conservatives Like Ramesh Ponnuru Skull-Fucked American Democracy To Death"  how many hundreds of thousands of copies it would sell?

And which nationally syndicated publication(s) would pay me to write for them?
...He is also a contributor to Time magazine and WashingtonPost.com.[1] He has written for The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalFinancial TimesNewsdayNew York PostThe Weekly StandardPolicy ReviewThe New Republic, and First Things.
And how soon after that could I parlay my success in print into an invitation to share my meditations on the state of politics and humanity on Meet the Press?

Hey, speaking of Meet the Press...

... Erik Wemple is summoning the tumbrels for Shuck Todd's godawful "Afraid" segment --
Chuck Todd’s ‘afraid’ segment on ‘Meet the Press’ must be killed 
--in which panelists offer up a lump of cold Beltway media conventional wisdom while asserting that while all the insiders know this to be true, everyone is afraid to say it out loud!

Edgy!  Dangerous!

Or course, Erik is quite right: three weeks of "Hillary!" and "Hillary!" and "Joe Biden Won't Run Against Hillary!" defies any normal human being's definition of edgy, outsider anything.   Hell, if you really want to freak the squares out while changing nothing but the paint job on the MTP crapwagon, why not break out a Ouija Board each week and ask your panelists to commune with the spirit of David Broder up in that great Beltway cocktail party in the sky?

Or, alternatively, plug someone into the panel who will really talk about shit that everyone knows but no one dares to speak aloud.

Finally, I confess to missing Chuck Todd taking the NBC Fleetwood Bounder out to cook his Meet the Press hillbilly crack on the highways and byways of this Great Country Of Ours.

...
But, after only two weeks on the job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, my man Chuck Todd wins this week's House Cup for demonstrating how one stays in touch with the common folk, and with their strip malls.

TODD: And now to a different way to look at Campaign 2014 this election cycle.

(Unless you're standing on your head in a ballgown, Chuck. I think this is not likely to be all that "different.")

In one corner, it's Starbucks Nation. These are Democrats who live in the big cities, and the adjacent suburbs. Lots of Starbucks.

(Quod erat demonstradumb)

In the other corner, it's Chick-fil-A country, basically Republicans who live in the areas between suburban America and rural America. 
(And no gay people?)

We call them the "exurbs."

(May I introduce you to Dallas? Or Atlanta? Headed northeast from Atlanta, the nearest "exurb" is called South Carolina.)

Another way of saying "smalltown America."

(Edna Ferber just enlivened her afterlife by developing an opium habit.)

Chuck then goes on at length to make the unremarkable point that the electoral map is more difficult for Democratic candidates in 2014 than it was for the president in 2012 because the president's tossup states were "Starbucks states" and the senatorial map this time has more Democrats running in Chick-fil-A states, where the hayshaking rube factor may play a more significant role.
For those of us with longish memory, the real hilarity buried in Shuck Todd's simpleminded reductive pap is that not only only did he send his rolling courtier press meth lab out on the cracked, balding retreads of virtually the same grift David Brooks has been running since the 90s (and is still running today), but Todd even manages to screw up the basic factuality his claptrap -- 

Chuck then goes on at length to make the unremarkable point that the electoral map is more difficult for Democratic candidates in 2014 than it was for the president in 2012 because the president's tossup states were "Starbucks states" and the senatorial map this time has more Democrats running in Chick-fil-A states, where the hay-shaking rube factor may play a more significant role.
By the way, is Montana really "Chick-fil-A country"? According to the company's website,there isn't a single Chick-fil-A franchise in the whole damn state, whereas there are two of them up here in the Commonwealth (God save it!). Meanwhile, at last count, there are 16 Starbucks outlets. I think your data set needs a little sharpening, my man. Things get even uglier when my man Chuck brings his new metric to the swing state of Colorado, where he argues quite sensibly that incumbent Mark Udall will draw his strength from the city of Denver and in Boulder County while Republican Cory (Personhood) Gardner will be strongest in the boonies -- "Chick-fil-A country." Alas, again, if you look at the Chick-fil-A map, you find that, of the state's 38 Chick-fil-A stores, all but nine of them are clustered around...wait for it...Denver and Boulder County.
-- in exactly the same way David Brooks screwed up his fairy tales back when he was slingin' the same Beltway crank at the Imaginary Applebees Salad Bar in the Land Before Time:
...
Among the many assertions that Issenberg debunked was Brooks’ claim (Atlantic, 12/01) that after scouring local menus in Republican-leaning Franklin County, Pennsylvania and asking locals where to find the most expensive entrees, he still found it was impossible to spend as much as $20 for a restaurant meal:
I was going to spend $20 on a restaurant meal. But although I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu—steak au jus, “slippery beef pot pie,” or whatever—I always failed.
But when Issenberg retraced Brooks’ steps through Franklin County three years later, he found more than one restaurant with meals well over $20 on its menu, including a Red Lobster that Brooks claimed to have visited that featured a $28.75 entree, and a local inn that had a $50 prix-fixe dinner—with veal medallions, not pot pie. “As I made my journey,” wrote Issenberg, “it became increasingly hard to believe that Brooks ever left his home.”
...
Because, y'know, continuity.

Which is a shame.  Because what really needs to happen to NBC's Crystal Ship is...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down


And the Final Jeopardy answer is:"Noted Masculinity Expert Tucker Carlson."


What is: "A sentence no human in the history of the world has ever uttered -- even accidentally -- until now"?

Soft, pink, trustifarian warpimp Tucker Carlson decided that what American boys need to make 'em into real men is more god damn tobacco damn it! (h/t Crooks and Liars):
...
"Without the iconic anchor tattoo and the smoking pipe!" Fox News host Clayton Morris announced on Sunday. "Are they wussifying Popeye?"

"Of course, they're wussifying," co-host Tucker Carlson agreed. "Nothing is scarier to a modern liberal than tobacco. If Popeye were driving around giving the morning after [birth control] pill to fourth graders, that would be totally fine."

"But smoking a pipe, a symbol of freedom and masculinity in America itself, the reason this country exists, tobacco, that's like, 'Oh, that's outrageous. That's a major sin.'"
...
I seem to remember another iconic American idiot reaching the same conclusion --
Homer: Well, it's been two hours. How do you feel?
Bart: I dunno. I kinda want a cigarette.
Homer: That's good. Let's get you a pack. What's your brand?
Bart: Anything slim.
Homer: D'oh!
-- for much the same reason:



Dollar for dollar, there is almost nothing on teevee more pathetically hilarious than watching an overpaid ambulatory afterthought like Carlson struggle so mightily to be outre while stooging it up with two other flecks of human lint on Fox News' Sunday sermonette for shut-ins and the criminally insane.

You could call it tragically ludicrous.

Or ludicrously tragic.

Like when a clown dies.

I'm sure something happened on the Shuck Todd Experience today



besides Grover Norquist being inexplicably given more time on my public airwaves, but until NBC either staunches the hemorrhaging or pulls the plug on on this persistent vegetative program, I can't really afford to be seen hanging out with such losers.

Hey, speaking of the death of Meet the Press by slow poison, look whose picking up work keynoting speeches about how to Make Gummint Better!


You know, if I had a spare $50,000 I wasn't using, or even just an extra $25K, I might consider popping for a Platinum or Gold sponsorship to this shindig just for the chance to spend a little quality, one-on-one time with Mr. Gregory at the "private reception with featured guest(s)",  

The Ill Wind That Blows No Good -- UPDATE




Malaria.

Malaria is what bwings us togevah today.

Malaria, which has been with us forever:
Malaria is one of the most ubiquitous diseases known--there are more than 125 different species of malaria that infect mammals, birds and reptiles, which indicates an early origin. It has probably afflicted humans throughout our evolutionary history, although the first historical reports of symptoms that match those of malaria date back to the ancient Egyptians (around 1550 B.C.) and the ancient Greeks (around 413 B.C.). 
And it usually presents with distinctive characteristics that make it possible to identify it as "malaria" once it has set in:
Characteristic signs of malaria infection are fever and flu-like symptoms, including headaches and muscle or joint pain. These usually begin after an incubation period of 10 to 14 days after the infective bite, during which the malaria parasite first inhabits the liver and then quietly multiplies in the blood. Classically, the fever is intermittent, recurring every few days, corresponding to the erythrocytic cycle. Each time the infected cells burst, liberating new merozoites, toxic metabolites and malarial antigens are also released. The body's immune system responds with a fever. In P. falciparum infections, fevers would occur on days 1, 3 and 5, whereas in P. malariae, fevers would occur on days 1, 4 and 7, and so forth.
But for most of human history, the cause of the disease was a complete mystery.  People knew it when they saw it, but when it came to identifying its source, the best our species could manage was a general idea that outbreaks occur in warm, swampy environments, which is how the disease got its name:
These early descriptions noted the association between fevers and wet ground. In fact, the word "malaria" actually derives from the Italian for "bad air"-- the mal'aria associated with marshes and swamps.
Then two very important things happened.  

First, in 1880 a French army doctor named Alphonse Laveran discovered the microscopic parasite which causes the disease,  And second, in 1897, a British doctor -- Sir Ronald Ross -- sussed out that the lowly mosquito was the delivery system for these malarial parasites.  In 1902, Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work.

/Pause for dramatic effect./

As most of you know, for the last 25 years or so, I have been conducting my own, informal experiment on members of the Conservative movement.  And after decades of observation and experimentation, here are my results.

First, actual, on-the-ground American Conservatism as it is practiced in the real world either has nothing whatsoever to do with academic Conservatism, or explicitly rejects and repudiates academic Conservatism.  This is a terribly important distinction because, as I wrote back in 2012, actual on-the-ground Conservatism is a political retrovirus which infects everything it touches while camouflaging itself whenever it can.
...
The Conservative Hate Virus that was cultivated by Nixon and went pneumonic under Reagan destroyed Conservatism decades ago and replaced it with a slowly-rotting corpse. A shambling, gibbering, mindless thing that, for a time, served both the RNC's electoral interests and Rupert Murdochs's business interests. It put every bitter clinger, crackpot, bigot, gun-nut, Christopath, homophobe, Klansman, brownshirt and anti-woman douchbag and anti-science glibertarian in-harness together to pull the GOP to victory and to make thugs like Rush Limbaugh very, very rich.

And the formula for turning hate into a profit-center is so damn easy! Just wave a flag in front of their big, vacant eyes, poke 'em with a stick (ACORN! Commies! Sluts! Kenyan Usurper!) every few minutes, call 'em super-patriots for jerking off to Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, and point them where you want them to go.

The Conservatism Retrovirus left us open to infection from a whole suite of opportunistic wingnut disease, and from Falwell to Limbaugh to Beck, Conservatism has permitted each of them and all of their mutant imitators to breeze past democracy's natural antibodies -- an educated electorate, an honest press, a respectful politics -- and settle in for a nice, long parasite feast.
And since academic Conservatism bears no resemblance whatsoever to actual, on-the-ground American Conservatism, those who claim to preach to former in theory while they have been working assiduously for the latter in practice are either demagogues or grifters or dupes or just garden variety idiots.

Second, my research reveals that actual, on-the-ground Conservatism is incredibly tenacious, because even though it markets itself as a political philosophy or intellectual school, it is, in fact, little more than a phenomenally well-funded a cult, which has methodically closed itself off from the rest of the world.  A cult that simply hides behind a new brand name and whenever the toxins it has built up under the old brand would otherwise kill it off.  Thus does a "Reagan Democrat", become a Republican...then change hats and become a Tea Partier...then morph into a "Constitutional Conservative" and thence an Independent or Libertarian...while never once substantive changing the poisonous claptrap that Rush Limbaugh has been crapping into their skulls for last 25 years.

Third, my research clearly demonstrates that the only thing which has kept Conservatism from imploding from its own, internal insanity years ago and/or being laughed off the national stage as the comically transparent fascist fraud that it is, is our Mainstream Media's pathological obsession with Fake Centrism.

Period,

How do I know?

Easy.

Try this simple experiment.

The next time a Conservative runs some standard issue bullshit past you at the a party, or at work, or in on of their endless LARGE FONT EMAILS..push back gently but firmly.  Remember going in that this is an experiment and that there  is zero chance you are going to actually alter their opinion in an way.  Being a Republican (or Tea Partier or "Constitutional Conservative" oir Independent or whatever) in 2014 means they are so far gone -- so thoroughly  counter-programmed against ever admitting error --  that nothing you say or do is going to change their mind, so for the purpose of our little test these are just subjects from whom you are collecting data.

My own results to date have been depressingly consistent: no matter what the fucking topic, the response is always instant and reflexive:  Yeah, well, Libruls are just as bad.  Worse, even!

Librul news sources are just as wrong just as often as Rush and Sean and the Moonie Times.

Rachael Maddow is just as wrong just as often as Ben Carson.

"Meet the Press" as just as Librul as Fox News is Conservative.

"The Nation: is just as fact-impaired as the Moonie Times.

Librul Big Labor is just as influential as Conservative Big Business.

George Soros is just as evil as the Koch Brothers and all the other wingnut billionaires combined.

Anti-gun protesters are just as extreme as gun nuts.

Climate scientists are only in ot for the money...just like climate change deniers.

Whatever mistakes George Bush might have made, Libruls are directly responsible for us "losing Iraq".

The ACA website glitches were just as bad as Katrina.

Benghaaaazi! is not just as bad as Watergate -- it's like Watergate and Iran/Contra and had an evil baby that was raised by Abu Ghraib!

Libruls are mostly to blame for the deficit that is going to Kill Us All!

It's a very long list, that gets longer every day as Conservatism continues to kill everything it touches, and Conservatives are forced to manufacture ever more Librul Straw Men which they can point to as being far, far worse than anything they're up to.

Like malaria, Conservatism is an infectious parasite.  But also like malaria, without a delivery system -- without a swarm of "Both Sides Do It" mosquitoes stinging us over and over again and giving every wingnut in America a blank check alibi for every shoutycracker racist  thing they say and do -- Conservatism would still exist, but it couldn't get into our bloodstream over and over again.

It couldn't kill us from the inside.*



Which brings us, inevitably, to this umpteen thousandth iteration of the political philosophy of American Most Ubiquitous Conservative Public Intellectual:
Somebody recently asked me what I would do if I had $500 million to give away. My first thought was that I’d become a moderate version of the Koch brothers. I’d pay for independent candidates to run against Democratic or Republican members of Congress who veered too far into their party’s fever swamps.

-- David Brooks, 09/19/14
You can cry in your beer from now until the crack of doom about the depravity and sneering nihilism of the Rush Limbaugh Party. and I'm sure I would agree with virtually every line item on your bill of particulars.  But as long as Conservatism's Both Sider enablers like David Brooks and all of his well-funded, mealy-mouthed imitators continue to be feted as Wise and Serious People by our mainstream, media, not a god damn thing is going to change.


UPDATE:

* This quote turned out to be a fabrication.  However I stand unswervingly behind what Fake NDT said. :-)