Wednesday, December 24, 2014

When Some People Can't Breathe

Ambulances are swiftly summoned, and well-wishes pour in from all corners of the Earth,

When others can't breathe...

...not so much.

All Your Database...

No, North Korea Didn’t Hack Sony

The FBI and the President may claim that the Hermit Kingdom is to blame for the most high-profile network breach in forever. But almost all signs point in another direction.

Breaking Out The Ornaments

Because traditions are important.


Whether you believe in the time-honored story...

"But I didn't know until this day,

that it was...Judas...all along."

Or killer robot Santa Governors

from the future...

Schwarzenegger orders mass layoffs, unpaid furloughs

Union leaders for state employees vow to challenge the legality of the mandatory time off, which amounts to about a 9% pay cut according to the governor's finance department.

By Patrick McGreevy and Jordan Rau
December 20, 2008

Reporting from Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered mass layoffs and unpaid furloughs for state workers starting in February to address California's growing fiscal crisis.

Under his executive order, 238,000 employees will be forced to take off two unpaid days per month through June 30, 2010. Managers will receive either the furlough or an equivalent salary reduction during the same period.

H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Schwarzenegger's finance department, said the mandatory time off is the equivalent of about a 9% pay cut for affected workers. He said the furloughs would save the state more than $1.2 billion.

Schwarzenegger attempted a few months ago to unilaterally reduce the pay of state employees, but his order never took effect. State Controller John Chiang said the state's payroll system was incapable of carrying it out.

...who can only be stopped with an ancient and terrible weapon called COBOL.

Schwarzenegger pay plans thwarted by COBOL

By Iain Thomson
7 August 2008 07:39AM

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plans to reduce all state employees pay to the minimum wage are being blocked because the payroll system is run on COBOL.

Schwarzenegger signed an executive order last week to cut the salary of the state’s 200,000 employees to the minimum wage until the state budget, currently 36 days behind schedule, is passed.

But State Controller John Chiang told the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization that this was impossible as the payroll system was written 30 years ago in COBOL and there weren’t enough programmers to do the job.

Chiang estimated that with current resources it would take six months to make the change, and then nine to ten months to reverse them.

"Pragmatically, we just can't get the system to work in a timely manner for us to implement payment of minimum wage," Chiang said, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Whether you believe the War on Christmas is a traditional war to be fought in a traditional way...

I want you to remember that no bastard ever won
the War for Christmas by dying for his dogma.

He won it by making the other poor,
dumb bastard die for his dogma.

Or an insurgency with murkier rules and darker purposes.

My mission is to make it up to the North Pole before the 25th.

There's a Jolly Old Elf up there who's gone insane.

I'm supposed to kill him.

Then, later...

Evil Liberal: Who are all these people?

Bill O’Reilly: Yeah, well... They think you have come to take him
away. I hope that isn't true.

Evil Liberal: Take who away ?

Bill O’Reilly: Him. Saint Nick. The Big Elf.
These are all his Helpers, as far as you can see.

Evil Liberal: Could we, uh, talk to Saint Nick?

Bill O’Reilly: Hey, man, you don't talk to the Saint.
You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind.
He's an elf-toymaker in the classic sense.
I mean sometimes he'll, uh, well, you'll say hello to him, right?
And he'll just walk right by you, and he won't even notice you.

And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you
on his lap, and he'll say do you know that “ant”
is the middle word in Santa?
If you can know who has been naughty
and who as been nice when all about you
are getting shitty toys and socks and blaming it on you…
if you can trust your elves when all men doubt you --
I mean I'm no, I can't -- I'm a little elf,
I'm a little elf, he's, he's The Claus, man.

I should have been a bag of remaindered WalMart Barbies
being sold out the trunk of an El Dorado
on a dead-drunk Sunday Morning on Maxwell Street -- I mean --

And finally, the tragic denoument.

The ho-ho-horror. The ho-ho-horror...

Have a happy, safe and merry uprising.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why Your Political Teevee SuXor: Outside Things May Be Tragic, But In Here We Feel It's Magic

Last year, the new boss at NBC News President Deborah Turness, wanted celebrities, bands, jugglers and there are unconfirmed rumors of dwarf tossing and water-skiing squirrels (from The Daily Beast):
“It all seems so frantic and crisis-ridden,” said a television news insider about Turness’s management style after reading the Washingtonian article. “To have a band? And a studio audience? What is she thinking?”
At the same time. the new host at NBC, a giant, simian slab of courtier journalism named David Gregory, wanted to continue loafing his Sundays away in a creaky Conventional Beltway Wisdom hammock slung between David Brooks' turgid Both Siderism and John McCain's ego.

While this kerfuffle over which whether the Peacock should shit rainbows or Halperins on Sunday morning played itself out --
The rapper was one such panelist, forced upon Gregory for an excruciatingly awkward roundtable segment. Mullins continued: “Gregory chafed at these changes, people close to him say, fearing they were too radical and would cheapen the brand. But he complied…. At one point, Turness suggested that Gregory have a live band close out the show to commemorate the death of Nelson Mandela. Gregory was appalled, people close to him say…he worried that Turness’s approach was about to turn Meet the Press into a political gong show.”
-- the audience continued stampeding for the exit, and so the the new boss started played Musical Hacks, which set off an interoffice, internecine power struggle, with leaks falling every whichaway like mortar fire during the Fall of Saigon, as a few, very rich, white men had a very pissy pissing contest for pride of place at the very ippy tippy top of the corporate career ladder (from The Washingtonian):
Scarborough, the Republican congressman turned MSNBC talking head and host of Morning Joe, had been after Gregory’s job for years, according to former NBC employees. And inside MSNBC’s New York offices, Scarborough is known as a prima donna who doesn’t respond well to “no.”

“He constantly clashes with [MSNBC president] Phil Griffin,” says a former NBC employee. “There are times when he would just not even talk to [Griffin].”

When Gregory was in the hot seat, some thought Scarborough reached for the knives. And the staff wouldn’t have welcomed him in the moderator’s chair. In 2012, NBC executives had given Scarborough a shot at guest-hosting Meet the Press in Gregory’s absence, according to sources. But the network’s news division protested. Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum was booked for that week’s show, and letting Scarborough interview a fellow conservative would undercut the franchise’s nonpartisan bona fides. As a compromise, Savannah Guthrie moderated and Scarborough led the roundtable.

In 2013, the New York Post had reported that Scarborough was in discussions with NBC about taking over the Sunday edition of Today, which airs before Meet the Press in some markets. The move would have put Scarborough and Gregory in direct competition for guests and provided the MSNBC host with a springboard to take over Gregory’s show. NBC declined to have Scarborough comment; in a July tweet, he denied having angled for the job.

Todd’s Meet the Press ambitions made for tension. “It was obvious that Chuck knew a lot more about politics than David did, and so that was uncomfortable,” says a person familiar with their relationship. “And then on Chuck’s end, David had the job he wanted, so that’s uncomfortable.”

Earlier this year, Sures, Todd’s agent, approached the NBC brass in New York, according to a former senior NBC executive, and demanded that Todd be handed Gregory’s job.

“They were very aggressive with the new NBC News leadership,” the former executive says, “and told them that if Chuck didn’t get Meet the Press soon, he was going to leave.” Sures denies this, and NBC declined to make Todd available.
And when the music stopped, Chuck Todd was tapped to keep the Iron Throne warm until heir presumptive and future King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm -- Young Luke Russert -- begins shaving on a regular basis.

Which set off another round of leaks and stories by knowledgeable  *cough*FluffyGregory*cough* insiders, seeking to settle scores and have the last word on who really dumped who after that big fight at the after-prom party!
Four months after being unceremoniously dumped by NBC News President Deborah Turness, fired Meet the Press moderator David Gregory apparently is taking his revenge in a local D.C. magazine.

The portrait that emerges from Washingtonian’s depiction of Turness, who was recruited to run NBC News last year from British television, is not pretty.

The damaging piece by Luke Mullins, “How David Gregory Lost His Job”—for which the title subject is widely believed by television insiders to have cooperated copiously, though Gregory is never quoted directly except to state that he’s “proud” of his six-year tenure and “loved” hosting the iconic Sunday public affairs show—portrays Turness, 47, as capricious, unreliable, meddlesome and arguably a tad daffy.
Your political teevee sucks because none of the people involved here were (or are) remotely interested in the most important story in American politics: the fact that the GOP has gone stark, raving mad.  They are not interested in inviting the public to watch interesting, informed people discuss  genuinely important issues of culture and policy.

Your political teevee sucks because they are only interested in reading poll numbers at you, running the same Both Sides mix tape over and over again, and playing with various configurations of imaginary 2016 candidates.

Your political teevee sucks because this is just another petty knife up in the executive suites of another giant American corporation that does not give a shit that the actual thing it makes and presents to the public is shoddy and rancid and makes people sick.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

The Sunday Shows are a racket.

A carnival freak show.

And like any other freak show, it needs side-show attraction to lure in the marks so they can sell their real products; penis pills, Exxon, the patriotism of Boeing and the Received Wisdom of our Beltway Elite.

This week, our carnival's geek in the cage biting the heads off of chickens was a dementor from the Brietbart Collective named John Nolte who was put on Meet the Press in what I can only assume was part of our entertainment industry's extended capitulation to North Korean ransom demands.  

And our  dog-faced boy was Senator Marco Rubio, who spent The Lord's Day admonishing the Kenyan Usurper through every microphone in Christendom that he and everyone who sided with him on Cuba were terribly naughty tyrant coddlers.  Which is so very strange considering how eagerly the boy-Senator from the swamps of Florida is willing to lay out the good foreign policy china for that other two-syllable Communist dictatorships which start with a "C" and end with an "A"
Marco Rubio’s China Problem
at 7:36 pm Friday, December 22, 2014 
His Chinese government paid staff junket this year may not be his biggest China problem…

Rubio’s comments on human rights and confirming the US Ambassador to China:
Rubio: “Well as you do take that issue back, I think you’ll find broad consensus on this committee and I hope in the administration, that our embassy should be viewed as an ally of those within Chinese society that are looking to express their fundamental rights to speak out and to worship freely, etc.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Today In "Both Sides Do It": Who's The Leader Of The Mob That's Made For You And Me

You know what's broken?

"Congress" is broken.

Which is very sad!

I had a tour of the place back when I was in Junior High and cool shows like Columbo were still on teevee.  Back then, "Congress" looked very impressive, but apparently now it's just a shithole full of back actors and noble-citizens in the thrall of bad actors.

So why can't we, as Americans, have nice things like Columbo or "Congress" anymore?

Well, Peter Falk is dead, so we I suppose we can chalk the nonexistence of new episodes of "Columbo" to that.  Also they have reruns of "Columbo" on nostalgia teevee every now and then, so I guess we're really in no immediate danger of a national "Columbo" shortage.

But what about "Congress", where death and reruns cannot save us?  Why can't we unfuck that mess up?

And more importantly, does it make you feel better knowing that nationally syndicated former Bush Administration Employee Michael Gerson cries himself to sleep at night, asking an indifferent universe this very question?
Many American institutions — starting with the House and Senate, and extending to the manner in which we tax ourselves, fight poverty, care for the old and educate the young — are in disrepair. This must be recognized and confronted.
Hear, hear, former Bush Administration Employee!  Well said!  And do you have anything else to say in the subject?
America is in desperate need of a politics of repair, not a politics of demolition and rebuilding. We need leaders who take populist discontent seriously but direct it toward projects of practical reform.

America’s distrust of institutions is a fact. But it is a problem, not a goal. The proper response is the renovation of institutions that allow us to live a decent, compassionate, orderly life together...
Amen!  Our civic institutions have indeed been slashed, slandered and otherwise fucked into a cocked hat.  So in the spirit of moving recognition and confrontation, let us compose ourselves, find a comfortable divan on which to sit, and listen attentively to nationally syndicated former Bush Administration Employee Michael Gerson explain how exactly things went from functional to bedlam since the good old days of Columbo...



Tumbleweeds fill the Universe...

Because that line of questioning quickly leads to the  terrible political truth which the entire Beltway media has sworn a blood-oath to never mention.  That Rove which dares not speak its name.

See, it was Mr. Gerson's political party which killed comity on purpose in this country.  It was Mr. Gerson's political party which built its future on institutionalizing, industrializing and televising lies and madness.   It was Mr. Gerson's political party that was perfectly content to ride the monster they had created as long as the monster did what it was told.

But their monster turned on them -- as monsters will -- and ate Congress.

Which is very sad!

So instead of the truth, what we get from former Bush Administration Employee Michael Gerson is  -- surprise! -- an indictment of...
 "...the populist wings of both political parties".

Sure populism can be tasty, naughty fun, and when administered by Serious People in tiny, harmless, doses, Republican hacks like former Bush Administration Employee Michael Gerson need never worry about being ripped from their decadent nests and cast out into the cold world.  But (warns Mr. Gerson) if you add more than a teaspoon of populism to the toxic swamp of Beltway Establishmentarian Wisdom where Mr. Gerson lives and works --

-- grave and terrible consequences will ensue:
But some populists thrive on further delegitimizing institutions. They use Congress as a stage for their anger, not as an instrument of reform. They set unattainable goals that encourage political alienation. They adopt a conspiratorial mindset, in which systems are not just broken but rigged by scheming opponents. They demand to do “something,” but end up doing things that serve narrow political and fundraising goals.
And who are the leaders of the mob that's made for you and me?

C'mon, it's Michael Gerson. You know who he's going to blame.

On the Right, Ted Cruz, the ambulatory manifestation of 40 years of carefully cultivated Conservative rage and paranoia:
The challenge from the populist right is now familiar, but it is far from spent. Conservatives offended by the omnibus — and even more offended by Obama’s immigration executive order — wanted to do something. This is often the whole substance of conservative strategy: “do something.” 
After blowing up the Senate process and disrupting the travel plans of their colleagues, Cruz and company demanded a point-of-order vote on whether Obama’s executive order was constitutional. Only 22 senators supported it.
On the Left, Elizabeth Warren, the personification of Liberal intelligence and compassion:    
The open revolt of the populist left is more novel. In this case, it was a rebellion against a sitting Democratic president, joined by former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, forcing the White House to conduct a last-minute scramble for votes. The main provision at issue was the swaps “push-out” rule of the Dodd-Frank financial services reform bill. But Warren used the occasion to throw a large rock into the Democratic pond. The ripples radiate.
Because this is the prime directive function of our Beltway Media: to deliberately misdirect any meaningful conversation about the disaster our politics has become into a meaningless parroting of the Both Sides lie.

This is why no Columbo's are allowed anywhere near the Beltway Media clubhouse.  Because if the good lieutenant excelled at one thing, it was quickly dispensing with the distractions and sham alibis of the real villains and moving patiently and inexorably in for the kill:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Professional Left Podcast #263

Introduced again by Kevin's splendid promo video.
"Frances is turning out to be the Cory Booker of Popes"
-- driftglass

Da' money goes here:

Today In "Both Sides Do It": People Who Live in Stephen Glass Houses

When I saw an article entitled "Liberalism, Conservatism, Skepticism" for a fleeting moment I thought perhaps it would be a confessional covering three of the things about which Andrew Sullivan knows shit-all.

But I was wrong.

Instead, this:
Liberalism, Conservatism, Skepticism

Thanks to the Washington Post, Tom Maguire and Hanna Rosin, we have a glimpse of what might have actually happened to UVA’s “Jackie”:

A group of Jackie’s close friends, who are advocates at U-Va. for sex-assault awareness, said they believe that something traumatic happened to her, but they also have come to doubt her account. A student who came to Jackie’s aid the night of the alleged attack said in an interview late Friday night that she did not appear physically injured at the time but was visibly shaken and told him and two other friends that she had been at a fraternity party and had been forced to have oral sex with a group of men. They offered to get her help and she said she just wanted to return to her dorm, said the student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

That’s a horrific story, if it pans out. The failure of the school to investigate more assiduously remains salient. The climate for young women on a campus where many readily believed the gang-rape-broken-glass-“grab it by its leg” version does not cease to be a pressing issue. The truth could be damning enough.

So why did an inflammatory, lurid, and apparently fallacious story get into print – with only one source and no corroboration – breaking most basic journalistic rules in a serious publication? Rich Bradley is surely right: it was a too-good-to-check story that echoed what many truly wanted to hear.
So far, so good.

But then comes the inevitable razor in the apple (emphasis added):
...Questioning it was like questioning whether Saddam Hussein actually did have WMDs – it seems as if you are excusing an evil figure, or being terminally na├»ve, or minimizing the danger. We believe what we want to believe – and, in our public debates, we also keep searching for the perfect anecdote or fact or story to refute our opponents for good and all.

Both sides do this. Republicans couldn’t accept the already-damning and uncontested facts about Benghazi – that the danger to the consulate was under-estimated, security was lax, and people died as a consequence. They had to make the story fit a bigger narrative – of treachery and betrayal at the highest levels, a story that could dispatch Obama and Clinton in one news cycle swoop. And so they have made an ass of themselves as much as Rolling Stone has....
This was followed by a seven-course, self-congratulatory feast of junk commentary and back door brag --

-- about something something The New Republic and how awesome it is that the World's Greatest Blogger is continuing the Noble Tradecraft he learned at the feet of the masters:
This is why liberalism matters as much as progressivism, which is on my mind a little as the demise of TNR has sunk in. For many, TNR’s legacy of airing internal dissent, its controversial questioning of progressive shibboleths, its inclusion of some conservatives in its ranks, its constant sallies against liberals as well as conservatives, and its airing of taboo subjects, make it a risibly racist/sexist/homophobic/classist institution that deserves to die. I dissent. What it long represented was the spirit of liberalism in the American tradition – a spirit of fearless inquiry, serious argument, and a concern for the truth. That TNR failed in some of these attempts does not damn it. Not to try to confront feelings with reason, or ideology with fact is a far worse inclination. ...

We try to do that every day here at the Dish – because, in part, I was trained and influenced and formed by some of the best minds in this great liberal tradition in American letters, and because I have tried to learn from my own errors. It isn’t easy and it isn’t fool-proof. But that tradition must not die; or, sooner rather than later, our democracy will.
For which Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates provided a crisp, palate cleansing anti-acid gargle here:
I have never quite been able to judge the effect of literature or journalism on policy, but I know that in my field, if you had dreams of having a career, you had to contend with TNR. My first editor at The Atlantic came from TNR, as did the editor of the entire magazine. More than any other writer, TNR alum Andrew Sullivan taught me how to think publicly. More than any other opinion writer, Hendrik Hertzberg taught me how to write with "thickness," as I once heard him say...

During the culture wars of the '80s and '90s, TNR regarded black people with an attitude ranging from removed disregard to blatant bigotry. When people discuss TNR's racism, Andrew Sullivan's publication of excerpts from Charles Murray's book The Bell Curve (and a series of dissents) gets the most attention. But this fuels the lie that one infamous issue stands apart. In fact, the Bell Curve episode is remarkable for how well it fits with the rest of TNR's history.

... The personal attitude of TNR's longtime owner, the bigoted Martin Peretz, should be mentioned here. Peretz's dossier of racist hits (mostly at the expense of blacks and Arabs) is shameful, and one does not have to look hard to find evidence of it in Peretz's writing or in the sensibility of the magazine during his ownership. In 1984, long before Sullivan was tapped to helm TNR, Charles Murray was dubbing affirmative action a form of "new racism" that targeted white people.

...And when I think of TNR's history, when I flip through Insurrections, when I examine the magazine's archives, I am not so much angry as I am sad. There really was so much fine writing in its pages. But all my life I have had to take lessons from people who, in some profound way, cannot see me. TNR billed itself as the magazine for iconoclasts. But its iconoclasm ended exactly where everyone else's does—at 110th Street. Worse, TNR encouraged incuriosity about what lay beyond the barrier. It told its readers that my world was welfare cheats, affirmative-action babies, and Jesse Jackson. And that white people—or any people—would be urged to such ignorance by their Harvard-bred intellectual leadership is deeply sad.
Let that sink in for a minute, and then lets circle back to this business of UVA being sorta kinda exactly like Benghaaazi and how is it the solemn doody of our Thought Leaders like Mr. Sullivan to pound the their Mighty Thought Leader Hammer of Skepticism on Important Things...and to be especially skeptical of those things which they want to believe more than anything else:
I think the lesson is to be more skeptical of things you want to believe than of almost anything else.

So what if what you want to believe more than anything else is the lie that Both Sides Do It?

Should you be whanging away at that shibboleth with your Mighty Thought Leader Hammer of Skepticism harder than ever?

Because, as bad as the Rolling Stone fuck-up was, and as terrible as it is that it has given a shot of adrenaline to the degenerate Right, the I was not aware that the UVA case had been the subject of ... what is it now? ... Six?  Seven?  Eight separate congressional witch hunts?  In which witnesses were put under oath?  Testimony taken?  Much of it live on teevee?

I was did not know that an entire network and an entire political party had given itself wholly over to  the UVA case and had planned on running it wall-to-wall as a political battering ram for over a year?

And perhaps someone could point out to me something on the Left that is in any way comparable to CBS's vertically integrated corporate pimping of Benghaaaazi?

The only lesson here is that homemade, Both Sides rotgut is potent stuff, but it tends to fuck up your memory.

And the hangover is pure hell.

The Killers