Thursday, June 22, 2017

And I Looked, and Behold a Pale Whore...

And his name that sat on him was Derp.

And Hell followed with him.

In fulfillment of prophecy, Andy Lack has finally given America's most famous Cyborg Sent From The Future To Destroy America his own show.

Hugh Hewitt to Host Show on MSNBC

MSNBC is expanding weekend news with live programming until 9 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday nights, TVNewser has learned.

As part of the expansion, conservative radio talk show host and MSNBC contributor Hugh Hewitt is getting a half hour show, airing Saturdays at 8 a.m. ET...

Hewitt’s first show, which will air live, is this Saturday morning. Expanding news programming has long been the goal of NBC News chairman Andy Lack, who created MSNBC 21 years ago...
America's most famous Cyborg Sent From The Future To Destroy America generates a lot of byproducts.

Most of them are toxic.

None of them are "news".

Let's go to the tape!  (h/t Crooks & Liars)

Never forget that your lives and your concerns mean absolutely nothing to the corporate hobgoblins who own and operate the American media.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

This Is Pretty Perfect

Matthew Dowd And The Bro-Mide Party

The Bro-Mide Party believes in good stuff and not bad stuff.

The Bro-Mide Party believes in Country over Party.

The Bro-Mide Party believes that the Murrican People stand with them in being in favor of positive things and against negative things.

The Bro-Mide Party believes in Civility n' shit.

The Bro-Mide Party believes the K'rupt Duopoly is behind all of our problems.

The Bro-Mide Party believes in compromise, except, of course, with the K'rupt Duopoly.

The Bro-Mide Party believes that since Both Sides Are Equally Awful, the Bro-Mide Party will inevitably sweep to power and enact lots of good stuff and no bad stuff (Bromide Party math:  Your K'rupt 65 million votes plus my 10,000 votes ... will give me 65,010,000 votes!)

The Bro-Mide Party believes that once they sweep to power they can swiftly and directly translate the sentiments found on vapid motivational posters fading away on the walls of middle management offices across America into concrete economic policy, climate change policy, foreign policy, health care regulatory policy, education policy, housing policy, public lands policy, energy policy, judicial policy, etc.

And lastly, the Bro-Mide Party proves P.T. Barnum was right: there's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Don't You Dare Call It "Trumpism"

Or, as the lovely and talented Blue Gal wrote over at Crooks & Liars back in August of 2016:
Don't You Dare Call It 'Trump-ism'
I swear, imma marry that woman!

Lost in the long and ponderous shadows cast by the stupidest David Brooks column in a very long time was this little gem of stupid denialism in today's column by former George W. Bush chief speechwriter, senior Republican policy adviser and reliable Beltway Republican stalactite, Michael Gerson.
The GOP’s hard, messy options for destroying Trumpism
There is no such thing as "Trumpism", Mr. Gerson.  There is just "Republicanism" as all of us out here in the real world have experienced it for decades.
Trump has been ruled by compulsions, obsessions and vindictiveness...
Just like the base of the Republican Party.
He has demonstrated an egotism that borders on solipsism. 
Just like the base of the Republican Party.
His White House is divided, incompetent and chaotic...
Just like the minds of the base of the Republican Party.
He has told constant, childish, refuted, uncorrected lies...
Just like the base of the Republican Party.
[He has] ... demanded and habituated deception among his underlings. 
Just like the "Fair and Balanced" sewer from which the base of the Republican Party get their opinions.
He has promoted self-serving conspiracy theories
Christ on a chemtrail, Gerson, have you ever in whole your life actually met a member of the base of your Republican Party?  Or does your GOP come out of the same hokum hookah where David Brooks finds his?
He has displayed pathetic, even frightening, ignorance on policy matters foreign and domestic. 
Just like the base of the Republican Party.
He is dead to the poetry of language and to the nobility of the political enterprise, viewing politics as conquest rather than as service.
Just like the base of the Republican Party.  See also, "Any comment section of any Conservative website any time, day or night".
Trump has made consistent appeals to prejudice based on religion and ethnicity...
Just like the base of the Republican Party.
[He has] ... associated the Republican Party with bias. 
Honestly, I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this level of infantile self-deception from a grown-ass man.
He has stoked tribal hostilities. He has carelessly fractured our national unity. He has attempted to undermine respect for any institution that opposes or limits him — be it the responsible press, the courts or the intelligence community. 
You have just articulated the basic building blocks -- the Guanine and Adenine -- of the political DNA of the base of the Republican Party.
For many Republicans and conservatives, there is apparently no last straw, with offenses mounting bale by bale. 
And halfway through his column, Mr. Gerson's gives up on his own ridiculous thesis, because here is no such thing as "Trumpism".  There never has been, just as there never was a "Tea Party".  There is just raw, thuggish, nihilistic"Republicanism" as it has always existed behind the thin veneer of Beltway respectability that people like Michael Gerson were paid to applique onto the true face of the Party of Jefferson Davis.

And so Mr. Gerson asks the only question that is left for the Right to ask:
So what is the proper objective for Republicans and conservatives? It is the defeat of Trumpism, preferably without the destruction of the GOP itself. And how does that happen?
And his answer?  He has none.  He only has terrible alternatives, one of which is
Creating a conservative third party — as some have proposed — would have the effect of delivering national victories to a uniformly liberal and unreformed Democratic Party. A bad idea.
Fuck you and your fucking Both Siderism you knee-biter.  But in the spirit of unity, let us end on a note of agreement.
Whatever option is chosen, it will not be easy or pretty. And any comfort for Republicans will be cold because they brought this fate on themselves and the country.
They didn't bring this fate on themselves and the country. Mr, Gerson.

You did.  

You brought this fate on yourself and our country.

And we will never let you forget it.

David Brooks Breaks The Beltway Iron Rule Of David Brooks: Updated

It is mandatory to quote what David Brooks wrote this week.
It is forbidden to quote what David Brooks wrote last week.
--  Blue Gal

For reasons that he will never be compelled to reveal under oath, Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times has suddenly become so anxious to downplay the Trump/Russia investigation as a big 'ol nothingburger ("Let’s Not Get Carried Away") that everyone should ignore-- an investigation which is barely a month old and has not yet fully staffed up -- that he is willing to violate one of the Beltway's most sacred codes of conduct.

Willing to venture into the Forbidden Zone of his own past and break The Beltway Iron Rule Of David Brooks (emphasis added):
I was the op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal at the peak of the Whitewater scandal. We ran a series of investigative pieces “raising serious questions” (as we say in the scandal business) about the nefarious things the Clintons were thought to have done back in Arkansas.

Now I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays. They were six jungles deep in the weeds. But I do remember the intense atmosphere that the scandal created...

For you newer readers, here is an important bit of history.  Mr. Brooks never acknowledges his own previous writings, and his reaction when people bring his own words up to him in ways that are less than, say, a Meet the Press paean to his inerrant wisdom is distinctly vinegary --

David Brooks: Boo-Boos in Paradise

Wayne-bred David Brooks is the public intellectual of the moment. But our writer found out he doesn’t check his facts.

I called Brooks to see if I was misreading his work. I told him about my trip to Franklin County, and the ease with which I was able to spend $20 on a meal. He laughed. “I didn’t see it when I was there, but it’s true, you can get a nice meal at the Mercersburg Inn,” he said. I said it was just as easy at Red Lobster. “That was partially to make a point that if Red Lobster is your upper end … ” he replied, his voice trailing away. “That was partially tongue-in-cheek, but I did have several mini-dinners there, and I never topped $20.”

I went through some of the other instances where he made declarations that appeared insupportable. He accused me of being “too pedantic,” of “taking all of this too literally,” of “taking a joke and distorting it.” “That’s totally unethical,” he said.

I asked him about Blue America as a bastion of illegal immigrants. “This is dishonest research. You’re not approaching the piece in the spirit of an honest reporter,” he said. “Is this how you’re going to start your career? I mean, really, doing this sort of piece? I used to do ’em, I know ’em, how one starts, but it’s just something you’ll mature beyond.”...
Mr. Brooks also studiously avoids any venue where a stray member of the public might sneak in an dquote his own bullshit back to him because, well, this...

So, now that this rare celestial event has occurred and Mr. Brooks has opened the door (as we say in the prosecution business) to hauling his past into the present, let's see where that leads us.

First, because he really, really needs you to believe that the Trump/Russia investigation is a big 'ol nothingburger that everyone should ignore. David Brooks does the most David Brooks thing of all: brutally amputate huge, inconvenient swaths of the past so that it can be reverse-engineered into his topic sentence.  Thus the entire history of investigations into abuses of power by the executive branch is reduced to two and only two events:  Whitewater and Trump/Russia.
In retrospect Whitewater seems overblown. And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.
And all political scandals "at least since Watergate" are reduced to nothing but partisan witch-hunts which Both Sides deploy for no higher purpose than scoring political points.
In the politics of scandal, at least since Watergate, you don’t have to engage in persuasion or even talk about issues. Political victories are won when you destroy your political opponents by catching them in some wrongdoing. You get seduced by the delightful possibility that your opponent will be eliminated. Politics is simply about moral superiority and personal destruction.
So buh-by Iran/Contra!

So long, 9/11 Commission!

See ya later, Nancy "Impeachment is off the table" Pelosi.

And with actual history either maimed beyond recognition or wiped completely away, Mr. Brooks can now safely ignore the Trump/Russia investigation as  a big 'ol nothingburger because all such investigations conducted by either party will always invariably breach the levees of civility and become a swamp of star chambers and political vendetta in which unspecified groups of "people" profit electorally and commercially from the mongering of made-up scandals.
The politics of scandal is delightful for cable news...

The politics is great for those forces responsible for the lawyerization of American life...

The politics of scandal drives a wedge through society. Political elites get swept up in the scandals. Most voters don’t really care...

The people who hype the politics of scandal don’t make American government purer. They deserve some of the blame for an administration and government too distracted to do its job, for a political culture that is both shallower and nastier, and for fostering a process that looks like an elite game of entrapment...
Mr. Brooks will not elaborate on which specific"scandals" (Benghaaazi, Emails, IRS "targeting" the Tea Party, Benghaaazi, Benghaaazi, Benghaaazi) or what "people" (the entire leadership of his Republican party) he could possibly be talking about, because;
  1. It is a violation of every dogma of his High and Holy Church of Both Siderism to ever specifically blame Republicans for crimes against democracy committed by Republican, and, 
  2. Mr. Brooks damn well know that if he ever labeled his asinine assertions clearly and correctly (journalism!) he would never make again make it to the Acela Corridor Quiet Car without children pointing and laughing at him in the street.
And so we get just one more nauseating example of Mr. Brooks concocting another wildly false equivalence in order to crank out another steaming log of fainting-couch piety denouncing the Culture of Washington.

But since Mr. Brooks' began his sweeping assertion that the Trump/Russia investigation is a big 'ol nothingburger that everyone should ignore by opening the paddock and taking his own past out for a walk, it would be irresponsible of me in the extreme if I did not remind you of some of the many, many times in The Past when Mr. Brooks has made other sweeping assertions about the salience or non-salience of some issue.  And to be 100% fair, I will be taking for my text today only those sweeping assertions which Mr. Brooks made years after his Wall Street Journal days when he allegedly learned his lesson about making sweeping assertions.

Back when...
...Those Pelosi Democrats were about to become "the stupid party" for believing that massive, unpaid-for tax cuts might somehow lead back to deficits. (November 2002)

...Mr. Brooks' used his brilliant command of post-causality economics (March 2001) to explain to stupid, parochial, panic-peddling Liberals that Yes, There Is a New Economy which makes Bush's massive tax cuts easily affordable!  "The real question about the Bush tax cuts, then, is not, Can we afford them? The real question is, Why are they so small?"

...the enlightened reforms of Great Men were on the verge of transforming the Republican Party into the Awesome Party!  (September 1999)

...this time the enlightened reforms of Great Men really were on the verge of transforming the Republican Party into the Awesome Party!  (August 2000)

... OK, jumped the gun a little, but seriously, very soon the enlightened reforms of Great Men will definitely transform the Republican Party into the Awesome Party!  (September 2001)

...You know what?  George W. Bush is not merely a Great Man (November 2002)  but a Great Man who is on his way to almost single-handedly purifying an Elite Institution so that it can get on with the business of restoring our National Greatness (February 2002)

...You know what sucks?  Both Sides suck!  Which is why I confidently predict we'll be seeing the rise of an Awesome Third Party -- a McCain/Lieberman Party -- real soon!  (August 2006)

...Let's all agree to forget about the many, many times over the last decade and a half that I've made this same, sweeping assertion, because this time it is definitely true that, thanks to the enlightened reforms of Great Men, the Republican Party is definitely on the verge of becoming into the Awesome Party!  (November 2014)

...and of course (April 2003) let us never forget about all the Hell those poor, stupid, Saddam-loving Liberal dupes and long-hair peaceniks are gonna pay "Now that the war in Iraq is over" and the unequivocal genius of George W. Bush is an established historical fact,
As you can see, Mr. Brooks has a long and storied history of being spectacularly wrong about everything except understanding exactly what kind of fairy tales his powerful and cosseted peer group wants to hear on any given day,  

And has been true since the beginning of time, flattering the powerful is the best dollar around.


We now go to Ace Crimes-Against-Journalism reporter, Brother Charlies Pierce, who is live at the scene of Mr. Brooks' massive, multiple-bullshit pileup
David Brooks Didn't Do the Reading. Look What Happened.

From The New York Times:

I was the op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal at the peak of the Whitewater scandal. We ran a series of investigative pieces "raising serious questions" (as we say in the scandal business) about the nefarious things the Clintons were thought to have done back in Arkansas. Now I confess I couldn't follow all the actual allegations made in those essays. They were six jungles deep in the weeds. But I do remember the intense atmosphere that the scandal created. A series of bombshell revelations came out in the media, which seemed monumental at the time. A special prosecutor was appointed and indictments were expected. Speculation became the national sport. In retrospect Whitewater seems overblown. And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.
This may be the most shameless passage of political journalism I have ever read. It contains more of the elements of passive-aggression, self-absolution, historical amnesia, and outright falsehood in the same place than any other single location this side of the author's own frontal lobes.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Note the shabby, silly alibi that leads us off.
Now I confess I couldn't follow all the actual allegations made in those essays.
You were the editor, fool. It was your job to follow the actual allegations, because a lot of them were crazy tales from Arkansas con-men who looked at the national press and saw a battalion of easy marks.
They were six jungles deep in the weeds.
And hip-deep in pure bullshit, but do go on.
A series of bombshell revelations came out in the media, which seemed monumental at the time.
Some of those were contained in a series of "investigative essays" that helped drive Vince Foster to kill himself. We know this because the WSJ was specifically mentioned in his suicide note. I'm surprised a copy of it isn't hanging in the editorial department...
Go read it all here.

And here, the redoubtable Yastreblyansky lands one hay-maker after another.
There never was anything. The folks at the Wall Street Journal editorial page and their compatriots at the Times and the other rags devoted to the destruction of the Clinton presidency, "six jungles deep in the weeds", as Brooks says (don't ask me what that means), churned themselves into a frenzy over nothing, as should have been clear from that first incoherent Jeff Gerth article in the Times, March 8 1992. Gerth himself, Eric Boehlert notes,  
actually points his finger at Times editors who have steadfastly defended his work in the past and blames them for nearly ruining his Whitewater exposé. Gerth claims that editors, without his knowledge, rewrote his first and best-known Whitewater article and saddled it with factual errors. The unsettling revelation, buried in a Her Way endnote, raises even more questions about Gerth, the Times, and their Whitewater misadventure.

As they say, if it was a fight, somebody woulda stopped it.

And if it were "journalism",  somebody woulda stopped it 20 years ago.

Mr. Pierce subtitles his piece as follows:
And now he's rewriting the Whitewater history to absolve himself.
Which should come as a surprise to no one since virtually every single column David Brooks has ever squeezed out into the pages of The New York Times has been a wanton act of denial, deflection and radical historic revisionism all in the service of absolving David Brooks.

As your humble scrivener wrote long ago... is now painfully clear that Mr. Brooks is engaged in a long-term project to completely rewrite the history of American Conservatism: to flense it of all of the Conservative social, political  economic and foreign policy debacles that make Mr. Brooks wince and repackage the whole era as a fairy tale of noble Whigs being led through treacherous hippie country by the humble David Brooks. 
And odds are he'll get away with it too.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Guardians of the Fallacy

About one hot minute ago a man named Charlie Sykes went from being Wisconsin's own, home-grown Limbaugh clone...

..,to a Respected MSNBC Constributor, a guest on "Meet the Press" and ubiquitous regular on every show in MSNBC's lineup except Lock Up.

This happened because, in the twilight of his career as a Limbaugh-clone, the prevailing winds suddenly shifted. And like many of America's Conservative human wind-socks, overnight Charlie Sykes went from a man who made a living slandering Liberals to a man who makes a living by expropriating the opinions of those he once slandered without ever acknowledging that the Left was right about the Right all along.

Ripping off the disquisition of those you spent your life shitting on has become a very good Beltway dollar, and in Mr. Sykes case it has snagged him a semi-regular gig at The New York Times.
The Danger of Ignoring Alex Jones
Indeed, when Mr. Jones was merely a marginal figure on the paranoid right, the case could plausibly be made that he was better left in obscurity. But now that, at least according to Mr. Jones, the president of the United States has praised him and thanked him for the role he played in his election victory, it’s too late to make that argument. We can’t keep ignoring the fringe. We have to expose it.
"Expose" is a big, magic word with people who wipe their asses in The New York Times and call it a good day's work.  Here, for example, is the Mustache of Understanding explaining to Barack Obama back in  that the best way to "expose" the madness of the GOP would be to enact Tom Friedman's favorite Crackpot Idea:
I’ve argued that the only way for Obama to expose just how radical the G.O.P. has become would be for the president to put out in detail his version of a credible “Grand Bargain” and then go sell it to the country...
And five years later, my response to Mr. Sykes's brilliant plan to "expose" the lunacy of the Right he worked tirelessly to create is the same as my response to Mr. Friedman back in the Good Old Days:
Which leaves only this question: "Expose" to whom, you fucking shmegegge?

At the ass-end of 30 years of escalating Republican psychosis, who is there left to convince? Who remains unaware of what the GOP is up to? Who is there in the whole wide world of sports who has not noticed that the Right is hell-fucking-bent on smashing this country to bits, selling the scrap the China and selling its people into indentured servitude?

Offhand, I can think of only five distinct groups who possess that kind of fortified, adamantine cluelessness -- the dead, the long-term comatose, the criminally insane, very small children and Tom Friedman.

(Well, those five and the +50% of the American electorate who have no idea where they are or who is running their country, so fuck 'em.)

So why does this awful, awful hack have a job at the New York Times?

Because he is rich.

Because he is connected.

And because his fatuous Centrist naughtytalk -- 
My fear is that both parties have just started their 2012 campaigns. In which case, the rest of us will just sit here, hostages to fortune, orphans of a political system gone mad, hunkering down for a bad century.
-- gives people like fellow billionaire Mike Bloomberg and the "No Labels" grifters big happy boners.
For the record, while Mr. Sykes is now a fully ordained deacon of the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism and completely on-board with it's Big Lie -- 
Mr. Jones, of course, didn’t create that culture, which has lain dormant on the political fringes of both the left and the right for years, but he has given it greater power.
-- he grudgingly admits that he cannot quite go full Both Siderist with Alex Jones (yet!), but does think that the Left is worthy of suspicion and needs to be monitored:
While Alex Jones has no exact analogue on the left, we have to watch him, and also watch out to make sure that something similar is not emerging on the left.
One might ask, "Who the fuck is 'we'?" if one had not already moved on to note how this little bit of "If only we had know!" counterfeit hand-wringing is what truly makes it art.  
For years, we imagined that we could simply ignore the crackpots because they were postcards from the fringe. But I’m haunted by this question: Had we done more to expose the viciously dishonest hoaxes, might things have turned out differently?
I know that  that Conservative hustlebucks like Charlie Sykes are not particularly brave or smart, and it would have clearly been too much to ask that they actually join us dirty hippies on the ramparts as we labored every day for decades to do everything we could to stop the Right from going completely mad.  

But what these professional Conservative moralizers could have done at any time over the last 25 years is decide that it was simply immoral to make a living by siding with Conservative madmen and vandals and against those who were trying to prevent or at least contain the damage.

But they didn't.  And here we are.  And there are not enough Meet the Press guest appearances and New York Times column inches in the world to wipe away that permanent stain on their mingy, little souls.  

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

"The Menace from Someplace Else" Edition

If the Vatican had had a teevee show in 1519 during the reign of Bad Pope Leo X that both cynically smirked about Vatican corruption while celebrating all things Vatican, it would look exactly like The Sunday Shows, which is why you should never, ever watch them.

On the one hand, on Meet the Press, you had a panel of Beltway swells bemoaning the bitterness and bile of our national political dialogue as if it were The Mist or The Blob.  Some alien horror that just suddenly fell from the sky or rolled in from who-knows-where and is gobbling up or tearing apart everything in its path.

It's indestructible!  It's unstoppable!

But most importantly, it's existence is not the fault of any particular group of individuals or organizations, and certainly not the fault any of the pundits who gather around tables to talk on teevee about this Menace from Someplace Else!

CHUCK TODD:  Back now with endgame. David, after this shooting, it's eight members of Congress have been shot I think in the history of Congress, two in the last six years. After both Gabby Giffords and Steve Scalise, one Democrat, one Republican, the immediate reaction by nonpartisans was, "Has our politics gotten too vitriolic?" I think we all believe that that's a yes. Will it change? 
DAVID BROOKS:  I don't think so. The poll result that bugged me the most is in 1970, they asked people, "Would you mind if your son or daughter married somebody in the opposing party?" And it was, like, 5%. Now it's, like, 35%, 40%. It's like politics has become our religion, like, an indicator of your soul, of how you are as a friend, how you are as a person. Politics is an argument about tax rates and how we structure a healthcare bill. It's important, but it's not about your soul --  And so if you turn it into a religion, then you get lunatics like this guy who starts shooting people over some sort of religious war.
For the record, this is exactly the same twaddle Mr. Brooks was peddling during his Friday appearance on The New Hour, because Mr. Brooks only has one Deep Thought per week, and the hosts of the shows on which he appears tailor their questions to that Deep Thought.

This time, however, there was no Mark Sheilds on-hand to drop a time monkey-wrench into the machinery, or a Judy Woodruff there to ask Mr. Brooks the one question one is never, ever supposed to ask Mr,. Brooks.

AMY WALTER:  Right. We don't disagree anymore on issues. That's not the issue, that over the last 30 years, we've pulled apart ideologically or on the policy.
What a remarkably stupid and facile thing to say.  I predict Ms. Walter has a bright future at this goat rodeo.
CHUCK TODD: Where we've pulled apart is our feelings about each other, that we dislike each other more, not that disagree on the issues more. And that the president said that what brings people to Washington is their love of country, and I think that's fair. But we may love our country but we don't love each other. And that's the bigger problem.

CHUCK TODD:  You brought up the president. I want to bring up something here, because I wonder if he's done enough. Here's Ted Nugent pledging to change his tone. Take a listen to this.


TED NUGENT:  I cannot and I will not and I encourage even my friends-slash-enemy on the left, in the Democrat and liberal world, that we have got to be civil to each other.


CHUCK TODD: The reason I point this out is that Ted Nugent said it. And we can say, "Look, this guy's in the hall of fame of incendiary rhetoric." President Trump never said, "You know what, I'm going to tone things down this week."


CHUCK TODD: I just think, it would have helped.

EUGENE ROBINSON:  Yeah, I guess it would have helped. I mean, I think the underlying forces are more important here, frankly.

CHUCK TODD:  Totally agree.

Oh goodie!  The Underlying Forces!

And those would be...?
EUGENE ROBINSON:    We have self-sorted by political views, geographically, we tend to live around people who think the way we do, and we can't imagine living where people don’t think the way do and as that continues, I just think we become more tribal. And that's where we are...

DANIELLE PLETKA:   And a good comment this week. And [Trump] deserves credit for that. The bigger problem is that there are larger fissures growing in our society. It's not just left and right Republicans and Democrats. It's racial, it's class, it's very much income and education levels. And that, amplified by social media and the feeling that people have, that they're in the game against others, is really what makes this so toxic.

AMY WALTER:  Well, and think about all the ads that are run by the very people who are denouncing all of the incivility in Washington, only 20% of all ads run are positive ads. The grand majority are attack ads.

CHUCK TODD:  Yeah, Paul Ryan's super PAC is the Kathy Griffin thing. And it's like, look, if you're outraged by it, it was disgusting, don't put it in a paid ad.
Self-sorting.  Demographics.  Social media.  Giant bugs and tentacled beasts.

Once again, the only acceptable Beltway narrative is that the Menace from Someplace Else is to blame for it all.  Which is why, to be invited on the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade, one must first solemnly swear not to bring up certain uncomfortable facts that the Beltway media absolutely does not want to discuss because it fucks up the Menace from Someplace Else campfire boogie-man story so badly.

Which brings up back to Friday evening, Mark Shields, Judy Woodruff, The News Hour, That Which Much Not Be Spoken --

MARK SHIELDS:   ... And there was a time, I will be very blunt, when I came to Washington, when the legitimacy of your opponent was never questioned. You questioned their judgment. You questioned their opinions or their arguments, but you never their legitimacy.

And that changed. And it changed. And one of the reasons it changed is that a man was elected from the state of Georgia who ran on the book, and the book was, you use these words. You use sick. You refer pathetic, traitor, liar, corrupt, shame, enemy of normal Americans.

This was Newt Gingrich’s bible. It wasn’t an idea of a policy. It wasn’t a program. He used it and he became successful. He became speaker of the House.

Donald Trump is a clone of Newt Gingrich. Donald Trump used, Donald Trump, lying Ted, and lightweight Bobby Jindal, and Mitt Romney choked like a dog, and used that language...
-- and the First Question, the oldest question in the Beltway, that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight --

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 45 seconds.  Is one side more responsible than another? And are we going to see any of this coming together last, or is it…
So why the Hell can't these wildly over-paid Havers Of Opinions ever add to their bill of particulars the fact that one side, one party, and the premeditated schemes of one group of evil men are responsible for the lion's share of bile and ruin we see everywhere?  Go ahead and bag on Instagram and demographics to your heart's content, bit why in the name of Odin Glad-of-War can't they just speak openly about the simple and painfully obvious truth that is hiding in plain sight?

Well it turns out, the answer to this question was only two clicks away, on This Week...
[MARTHA] RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much, Pierre.  And I'm joined now by Trump ally and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of Understanding Trump. Good morning, Mr. Speaker.

[NEWT] GINGRICH: Good morning.
I guess Alex Jones was too busy.

Yep.  After a quarter of a century of profiteering from his relentless campaign of lies, hatred and paranoia, Newt Gingrich-- the Typhoid Mary of the wingnut  rage virus -- remains a Respected Beltway Insider and honored guest at the Gasbag Cavalcade.  

And Martha Raddatz, who used to be a journalist, is now just another callow, corporate employee reduced to playing Judy to Newt's Punch, the Lord of Misrule in this ghastly, endless freak show.  
RADDATZ: I want to start with the Russia investigation. Of course, we saw "The Washington Post" headline and attorney general Rod Rosenstein's cautioning people on reports from anonymous officials. But then, as the president tweeted, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt.” We know people close to the president's legal team say he wasn't confirming any sort of investigation. And you just heard what Pierre said that President Trump was just commenting on The Washington Post headlines.

You're the man who wrote "Understanding Trump." How do you understand that tweet?

GINGRICH: Trump has a compulsion to counterattack. And is very pugnacious. I don't think it serves him well. I don't think that tweet helped him. But it's almost like it's who he has been his whole life. I mean, he's been a fighter his whole life. He is infuriated, and legitimately, in my judgment, by this whole Russian baloney. And notice how it's evolving.

I mean, you started over here with Russia. Well, they don't have anything on Russia, but maybe, maybe there was obstruction. We may not get anything on obstruction, but maybe there is going to be perjury. And maybe there will be -- I mean, you go down the list, and we have been here before. We watched Comey appoint Patrick Fitzgerald, who was the godfather to Comey's children, and Fitzgerald knew there was no crime.

RADDATZ: But let's go back to what you just said, this Russian baloney. If people are involved in collusion with Russia, don't you want to know about that?

GINGRICH: There's no evidence. I mean, first of all, if you want to investigate Russia, fine. How about Bill Clinton's $500,000 speech. How about Podesta's brother who is a registered agent for a Russia bank. How about the Iranian deal...
Yes, it turns out. the answer to the question which must never be answered is very simple and very sad.

Our mainstream political media is a machine designed to lie to the American public in order to insure two outcomes.

First, that Quisling Conservatives like David Brooks are perpetually protected from the host of inconvenient realities that lurk in their own past:

Second, that genuine Conservative hellbeasts like Newt Gingrich who have been admitted into the Beltway's exclusive club never suffer any permanent damage to their careers or their standing in the Beltway community

The Gingrich Rules.

Once upon a time in sport of professional basketball, there existed a thing called "The Jordan Rules".  It was a special strategy developed by Chuck Daly of the Detroit Pistons to cope with one person -- Michael Jordan.  To smother him, double-team him every time he touched the ball and play him as "physical" as possible (short of actually decking him) every minute he was on the floor.

In the game of professional punditry there also clearly exists a special set of rules designed with one person on mind.  Or, rather, one sort of person: Conservatism's parade of bomb-throwing, hate-mongering, race-baiting bottom feeders.  That breed which makes their daily bread from grifting the Pig People by generating an endless flood of books, magazine articles, broadcasts, speeches and videos all telling the GOP base over and over again that them their bigotries are noble and their paranoia is patriotic.

Of course, part of the downside of wallowing in the wingnut sewer and trafficking in slander and lies is that, sooner or later, you become a toxic mess.  Your stink becomes unacceptable to the general public, which s where the Sunday morning talk shows -- the Mouse Circus -- comes in.   Because despite having long ago devolved into a sinkhole of Beltway centrist twaddle, it is still viewed by altogether too many people as a bastion of Very Serious people -- it's the strip-mall of political opinion where casual shoppers go to feel smart and validated.

And so a bargain is struck; the bottom feeders deliver a temporary hike in the only thing these show's owners really care about -- audience share -- and, in exchange for being teevee friendly and keeping the worst of their batshit crazy on a leash for a few minutes, their Mouse Circus deburrs the bottom feeders' public image, replates and burnishes their credibility and temporarily transfuses them with Seriousness, which can then be redeemed at ten times its face value back among the Pig People.

And in the key to that bargain we find "The Gingrich Rules"...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Today In Both Sides Do It: David Brooks and the Denialist Sidestep

Most of the time, being a ecclesiastical officer of the Beltway's most profitable denomination -- The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism -- is, dollar-for-dollar, the easiest and most profitable job in the world.  First, Very Large Media Corporations hand you a large and influential media platform from which to speak to a huge audience, and from that platform literally all you have to do is automatically and indiscriminately blame "Both Sides" for every Republican atrocity.

Then, every two weeks or so, the Very Large Media Corporation that provides your influential media platform will give you a Very Large Bag of Money.

This very simple, very big lie is the central pillar that props up the entire mainstream media.  And every member of the the Church's hierarchy who participates in the promulgation of this Big Lie -- from Pope Bias the First himself, Bishop of the Acela Corridor, aka, Vicar of Both Sides, Successor of the Prince of the Kristols, Supreme Pontiff of the Washington Beltway, Primate of Fake Centrism, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Humility, Sovereign of True Conservatism's City State and Servant of the servants of the Church of Lyin'tology ... the lowliest parish priest damn well knows it's a lie, which is why the regular distribution of those Very Large Bags of Money is so important to the life and health of the Church.

The Church remains respectable and profitable because it appeals directly to the mingy souls of America's tens of millions of political cowards and frauds.  A vast and timorous herd of The Uncommitted who live in perpetual terror of having to stand up and take sides on any issue find peace-of-mind in the Church's cynical message, while an equally vast and bilious mob of Republicans cosplaying as "Independents" find a safe, nonjudgmental place to hide out from the consequences of a life spent listening to Rush, watching Hannity, hating the Kenyan Usurper and voting for monsters.

But without tight message control -- without every single member of the hierarchy singing from the same page of the same The Extremes on Both Sides are to Blame fer Every Bad Thing hymnal -- the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism would go the way of any other creed whose adherent lose faith and wander off to hook up with one of the newer, hipper, ascendant gods...

Within a year, the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism would go the way of the Atenism and the cult of Mithras, and then no more Very Large Bags of Money.

So everybody sings.

Except every now and then, one of them doesn't.  One of them chokes on the sacred, incantatory words because in that moment the Big Lie is too much to bear.  And while those moments never last very long, I find them fascinating because they are a brief flicker of light that show us a glimpse of the ugly, squirmy that live dark, cool corners of the Church.

On Friday, Mark Shields had one such moment on The News Hour.

David Brooks was performing the usual sacrament of blaming everyone and no one...
DAVID BROOKS: ...And the thing that’s symptomatic of me — for me is, I used to think polarization was a Washington phenomenon, that the people on Capitol Hill were polarized, but the country was sort of still a moderate nation.

But I think there is little evidence to support that now. This is a polarized country. And most of the politicians I know, members of Congress, hate the system they’re in. They’re stuck in a much more polarized world than they wish they were in.

And it’s out of the country. And that doesn’t say the shooter is any way symptomatic. If anything, he’s an atypical nutcase. But it is a sign on the fringes.

We have seen a ratcheting up of violence. We saw it, I thought, at the conventions on both sides. We saw it at the Trump rallies on both sides...
..and Shields was going along with the program, performing his part in the ritual call-and-response --
MARK SHIELDS: You hope, Judy, but to David’s point, both parties — according to Pew Research, in both parties, what drives the most activist wing is not support and energy and advocacy of their own side. It’s loathing of the other side.
-- when this happened, which commits every heresy in the book.  He named names.  He talked about The Past and how it relates directly to The Present.  And he laid responsibility for the origins of the disaster we see all around us on one person in one political party,
And there was a time, I will be very blunt, when I came to Washington, when the legitimacy of your opponent was never questioned. You questioned their judgment. You questioned their opinions or their arguments, but you never their legitimacy.

And that changed. And it changed. And one of the reasons it changed is that a man was elected from the state of Georgia who ran on the book, and the book was, you use these words. You use sick. You refer pathetic, traitor, liar, corrupt, shame, enemy of normal Americans.

This was Newt Gingrich’s bible. It wasn’t an idea of a policy. It wasn’t a program. He used it and he became successful. He became speaker of the House.

Donald Trump is a clone of Newt Gingrich. Donald Trump used, Donald Trump, lying Ted, and lightweight Bobby Jindal, and Mitt Romney choked like a dog, and used that language...
Which put Judy Woodruff in the hilariously uncomfortable position of asking David Brooks the one question which one is never, ever supposed to ask David Brooks (emphasis added):
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 45 seconds.  Is one side more responsible than another? And are we going to see any of this coming together last, or is it…
And Mr. Brook did what Mr. Brooks always does whenever someone unexpectedly kicks the gilded cathedral doors of the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism open at an inconvenient moment and impales him on a sharp and shiny beam of raw reality.

He avoid the question altogether and breaks into The Denialist Sidestep: gibbering nonsense until he runs out the clock:
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, to me, in 1970, people were asked, would you mind it if your son or daughter married someone of the opposing party? And 5 percent would mind.

Now 40 percent mind, because people think your political affiliation is a sign of your worth, your values, your philosophy, your culture, your lifestyle. It’s everything. All of a sudden, we have been reduced to politics and we have made politics into the ultimate source of our souls.

And that’s — it’s just — that’s not what it should be about. It’s just about arguments about tax rates. It’s not everything.

"All of a sudden" this just happened says David Brooks in June of 2017.

Here is David Brooks -- the Pope of the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism -- in July of 2002 delegitimizing Democrats as simpleton Commie stooges:

Why Republicans Should Be Afraid
A lot can go wrong for them this fall.
JUL 29, 2002

...the Democrats seem to think that there is this organized entity called Corporate America, made up of senior executives, Republicans, white country clubbers, and people who were cheerleaders and prom kings in high school. If they can get the rest of the country to hate these people as much as they do, then they will win elections. Because they have this category in their heads, Democrats see the corporate scandals as tainting the whole Republican party.

But Americans who have not been suckled on the "Marx-Engels Reader" do not carry these categories around in their heads...

Here is David Brooks, in April of 2003
The Collapse of the Dream Palaces
Mass destruction of mistaken ideas.
APR 28, 2003

... Now that the war in Iraq is over, we'll find out how many people around the world are capable of facing unpleasant facts. For the events of recent months confirm that millions of human beings are living in dream palaces, to use Fouad Ajami's phrase. They are living with versions of reality that simply do not comport with the way things are. They circulate and recirculate conspiracy theories, myths, and allegations with little regard for whether or not these fantasies are true. And the events of the past month have exposed them as the falsehoods they are.

Finally, there is the dream palace of the American Bush haters. In this dream palace, there is so much contempt for Bush that none is left over for Saddam or for tyranny. Whatever the question, the answer is that Bush and his cronies are evil. What to do about Iraq? Bush is evil. What to do about the economy? Bush is venal. What to do about North Korea? Bush is a hypocrite.

In this dream palace, Bush, Cheney, and a junta of corporate oligarchs stole the presidential election, then declared war on Iraq to seize its oil and hand out the spoils to Halliburton and Bechtel. In this dream palace, the warmongering Likudniks in the administration sit around dreaming of conquests in Syria, Iran, and beyond. In this dream palace, the boy genius Karl Rove hatches schemes to use the Confederate flag issue to win more elections, John Ashcroft wages holy war on American liberties, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and his cabal of neoconservatives long for global empire. In this dream palace, every story of Republican villainy is believed, and all the windows are shuttered with hate.

My third guess is that the Bush haters will grow more vociferous as their numbers shrink. Even progress in Iraq will not dampen their anger, because as many people have noted, hatred of Bush and his corporate cronies is all that is left of their leftism. And this hatred is tribal, not ideological. And so they will still have their rallies, their alternative weeklies, and their Gore Vidal polemics. They will still have a huge influence over the Democratic party, perhaps even determining its next presidential nominee. But they will seem increasingly unattractive to most moderate and even many normally Democratic voters who never really adopted outrage as their dominant public emotion.

In other words, there will be no magic "Aha!" moment that brings the dream palaces down. Even if Saddam's remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, "We were wrong. Bush was right." They will just extend their forebodings into a more distant future. Nevertheless, the frame of the debate will shift. The war's opponents will lose self-confidence and vitality. And they will backtrack. They will claim that they always accepted certain realities, which, in fact, they rejected only months ago...

Here is David Brooks, again in April of 2003
Optimism Rediscovered
From the April 4, 2003 London Times:
Suddenly, things don't look so grim.
10:25 AM, APR 6, 2003

Second, one hears of a growing distaste for the peace marchers, again from people who don't necessarily support the President. Their objections are not so much substantive as tonal. These peace marchers seem driven by bile and self-righteousness, and are fundamentally out of step with a country that wants, now that the war is on, to back the troops.

In short, the mood feels a bit as it it did after September 11. Americans are pulling together. There is a yearning to perform some act of public service. There is greater revulsion at those who are trying to divide the country. There is no tolerance for alienated poses...
This is why, in the eyes of the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism, bringing up The Past, naming names and honestly and objectively allocating blame for the mess we are in are the three worst sins one can commit.

And it is why David "Very Big Bags of Money" Brooks is America's staunchest defender of that faith.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Professional Left Podcast #393

"President Bartlet: Toby, If we start pulling strings like this don't you think every homeless veteran will come out of the woodwork?

Toby Ziegler: I can only hope so, sir.."
-- The West Wing, In Excelsis Deo

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