Friday, December 15, 2017

Professional Left Podcast #419


"I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone's imagination."
-- Hunter S. Thompson, writer
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As a Liberal, Just About the Most Transgressive Thing You Can Do...



...is remember the past accurately.

Remember the long, bloody road down which the Republican party and their media enablers have dragged this nation year after year, decade after decade.

Remember it all and, to whatever extent you are able, using whatever megaphone you may have, obdurately and relentlessly refuse to let the Right and the Media wish it all away.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Today In Republican Detachment Disorder: Charlie Sykes UPDATE


Update:  They're all in on it.  All of them.  And 18 months to two years is officially the new, Beltway Approved Absolution Lifeboat.  And all of the Republican scumbags who reaped enormous rewards for decades paving the road down which Donald Trump shambled to the White House -- who are now frantically  rebranding themselves as "independent" 30 years too late once -- are scrambling on board.  From Joey Joe Joe Junior Scarborough yesterday:
Republicans across the United States will now pay a heavy price for two years of moral indifference.
How can you help?

Well...

To help fight the scourge of Republican Detachment Disorder --
Republican Detachment Disorder is an extremely common and contagious affliction which my copy of the Fake Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines succinctly as "It's a huge shit sandwich and everybody but me is gonna have to take a bite." 
Of course, Republican Detachment Disorder has been a persistent component of Beltway Both Siderism for years, but since the Rise of Trump the condition has gone airborne and is now fully pneumonic and spreading like wildfire among Conservatives who made an entire career out enthusiastically helping the GOP shit the bed over and over again, and then, as Reality closed in, suddenly started pretending that it was all the fault of some other Republican Party waaaaay over there.
--  we at the Professional Left Podcast are thinking of launching a game show.

Working title:  "2017...or Not?"

Each week, a prominent Republican media person and Detachment Disorder carrier would be invited on the show to wager some fraction of their wildly inflated salary on whether they can guess which quotes are from the Age of Trump (when they believe their Republican party suddenly and inexplicably went to shit) and which quotes are from a time before Il Douche rode the Escalator of Doom into history (when their Republican party was doing great!)
Example:  Federal judges pose a “more serious [threat] than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings"?

Example:  "...the courts are forcing us to a constitutional crisis because of their arrogance and overreach. The courts have been trying to impose an elitist value system on a country that is inherently not elitist.”

Example:  "...we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence."
We are hoping to coax Valued MSNBC Employee and noted Republican Detachment Disorder carrier Mr. Charlie Sykes to join us as our first contestant.

Because given his utterly inexplicable and very profitable media ubiquity and his willful Strategic Forgettery of the well-documented history of his own party, we should be able to skin him for at least five figures.

And what do I mean by his willful Strategic Forgettery of the well-documented history of his own party?

Well before reading on, take a wild guess as to the date, time and location that Mr. Sykes identifies as the moment his party began sinking into madness and degeneracy, which he describes in yesterday's New York Times as "A G.O.P. Tragedy in Four Acts"?

Ready?
It may be worthwhile charting the party’s descent to this moment. 
Think of it as a drama in four acts.
And when, pray tell, does Act I begin?
In Act I, the curtain opens to reveal a gaudy golden escalator, and as Donald Trump descends to...
Boom.  Done. You need read no further.

This is the toxic lie they will go right on telling themselves and the public until they are forced to stop telling it.

And by "forced" I mean publicly confronted, publicly humiliated and rendered unemployable.

But the most hilarious predictable part?  

This is how Mr. Sykes ends his column:
Throughout this final act, the party’s leaders will desperately try to pretend that this is not a tragedy and that they were not the ones who brought this upon themselves. Some of them will know better, but I suspect that in the final scene they will be left with the question “What have we done?”
Once again the same Republican rats are building themselves another flotilla of lifeboats on which they hope to escape justice for the ruin they have brought upon us all

And this time those lifeboat must be burned to the waterline. 



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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Matthew Dowd Remains a Fundamentally Ridiculous Person



Honestly, if Mr. Matthew Dowd were just some blatherskite hipster on a Reddit thread who, at the ripe age of 20 (and a half!), was absolutely certain he had a better bead on the rich, rancid tapestry that is modern American politics (Disrupt!  End the Kr'upt Duopoly!  Both Sides!  Jill Stein Woulda Won!) than hopelessly compromised old farts like me, I wouldn't care.  Hell, I was that arrogant neckbeard myself many centuries ago so how can I not love the sinner while hating the sin?

But Mr. Matthew Dowd is not some political gamin fresh off the turnip truck.  Mr. Dowd is my age.  Mr. Dowd was the architect of George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.  Mr. Dowd is paid a substantial amount of money by ABC News to act as their chief political analyst.  And Mr. Dowd has spent the last few years supping very profitably at the toxic Both Sides Do It trough.

In other words, whether Mr. Dowd knowingly lies about politics for a living or really is a simpleton who has no fucking clue about politics, what the fuck is he doing on the teevee with the title ABC News' chief political analyst?

It is this mystery, and Mr. Dowd's aggressively outraged reaction to anyone who points out that he talks right out of his ass, which amuses and depresses the hell out of me.  Because the only answer as to why a clown like Mr. Dowd is the political face of ABC News' or why Mr. Chuck Todd continues to the host of Meet the Press or why Mr. David Brooks continues to occupy a privileged and impregnable position at the top America's Very Serious Media is that the people who own the cameras and the microphones and the printing presses want our national political conversations to be this fucking stupid and hollow.  

So today, let's do a very simple thing.  Let's compare and contrast the professional analysis of ABC News' chief political analyst from one year ago with the professional analysis of the very same ABC News' chief political analyst almost exactly one year later.

Ready?

Mr. Dowd one year ago:

Mr. Dowd today:
It has taken a full year of Oval Office racism, treason, conspiracy mongering and incessant lying...

...plus the public capitulation the Republican party to an unhinged madman...

...all while the reprogrammable Republican meatbag base cheered every bit of it

...for ABC News' chief political analyst to begin to grudgingly catch up with where we dirty, hippie Libtards were decades ago.

A year that has been just chock full of prattle like this:







And now,  because you've been very good, Snoopy vs. The Red Baron.




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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

David Brooks: Both Siderism Is a Farce that Gives Us Meaning


Last week, Mr. David Brooks performed a grand show in the pages of The New York Times of lamenting the loss of a Republican party that never was.

My how he wept.  O Trumpora!  O Moores!  Where are the heroes of the imaginary Republican party of my youth?

And so, of course, today -- right on schedule -- Mr. Brooks reverted to his default setting: a soulless, Conservative Both Siderist algorithm into which his operators simply punch which aspect of the Left they wish to fuck over this week.

The pattern is an easy one to spot if you simply take the trouble to look for it.  For example, last year during the primaries, Mr. Brooks Both Siderist sermonettes were all about "Trump and Sanders" (from February, 16 2016)?
Hillary, for you the whirlwind is Bernie Sanders. For the rest of you it’s Donald Trump...

Trump has no actual policies and Sanders has little chance of getting his passed.

And yet the supporters don’t care. Sanders and Trump...

...the Trump and Sanders phenomena.

In debates Sanders is uninhibited by the constraints of reality, so his answers are always bolder. Trump speaks from the id, not from any policy paper, so his answers are always more vivid.

Many Americans feel like they are the victims of a slow-moving natural disaster. Sanders and Trump...

I’d love to see one of you counter the Trump and Sanders emotional tones with a bold shift in psychology...

Let Trump and Sanders shout, harangue and lecture...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] deliver long, repetitive and uninterrupted lectures...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] stand angry and solitary. You run as part of a team, a band of brothers...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] assert that all our problems can be solved if other people sacrifice...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] emphasize the cold relations of business (Trump) or of the state (Sanders)...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] preach pessimism...

Sanders and Trump have adopted emotional tones that are going to offend and exhaust people over time.
And once we moved to from the primary to the general election -- surprise! -- suddenly the music was the same but the lyrics has changed to suit the needs of the Brooks Both Siderist algorithm (from September 13, 2016):
The two main candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are remarkably distrustful...

They have set the modern standards for withholding information — his not releasing tax and health records, her not holding regular news conferences or quickly disclosing her pneumonia diagnosis...

Both have a problem with spontaneous, reciprocal communication with a hint of vulnerability...

Both ultimately hew to a distrustful, stark, combative, zero-sum view of life...

Trump’s convention speech was the perfect embodiment of the politics of distrust...

Clinton’s “Basket of Deplorables” riff comes from the same spiritual place...
And now that we are nearly a year into the maladministration of President Stupid (and now that he has made his great, public show of boo-hooing) Mr. David Brooks has dried his tears and is back on the fucking job!
What’s Wrong With Radicalism

There was a striking moment in the focus group that consultant Frank Luntz recently held with a group of Roy Moore supporters in Alabama. One of the voters said that the women who are accusing Moore of harassment are being paid to do so. Luntz asked the group how many people thought the women are being paid. A bunch of hands shot up and voices called out that all of the women are being paid.
...

That attitude is evident on the pro-Trump right, but also on the left...
The "pro-Trump right" is the entire fucking Republican party, Mr. Brooks.  An entire party which is now predicated on the theory that there is no greater evil in the world than people like me.  An entire party dedicated to demonizing minorities, hating woman, starving the poor because it will make the  Libtards cry.  A depraved, sadistic, mad-dog party.

But please continue.
The woke activists, the angry Sanders socialists and social justice warriors are just as certain that the system is rigged, that rulers are corrupt and that the temple has to be torn down.
90% of Sanders voters voted for Hillary Clinton you sniveling fraud.  And it sure seems like lot of the social justice warriors who occupy such a prominent place in both Sean Hannity's nightmares and yours have legitimate, life-or-death issues.  You might not recognize their grievances as legitimate because they are not "David Brooks life-or-death issues" (example: worrying that your friends will notice you wore the same tie on Meet the Press that you wore to the Aspen Institute gala) but instead fall into the category of "Shit that David Brooks will never in a million years have to put up with".  The issues of people who would consider it a huge victory if, say, cops stopped murdering unarmed black people and LGBT citizens were extended the same civil rights as the rest of us.  

But please continue.
We’re living in an age of radicalism.

But today’s radicalism is unusual. First, we have radical anger without radical policies.

...Trumpian populism screams “blow it up” and “drain the swamp.” But Donald Trump’s actual policies are run-of-the-mill corporatist.
Wow.  Muslim bans.  Playing blind-drunk nuclear chicken with North Korea,  Stripping millions of Americans of their health insurance.  Torching the State Department, and gutting and looting every other cabinet department.  Aiding and abetting actual American Nazis.  Stealing Supreme Court seats.  The worst dog's breakfast of a tax bill in living memory.  Relentless attacks on the free press. 

According to Mr, Brooks, all of these and so much more are just "run-of-the-mill corporatist" policies.

Translation:  Mr. Brooks really, really, really wants his fucking tax cuts.

But please continue.
The left-wing radicals talk a lot against the systems of oppression and an institutionalized injustice. But they are nothing like the radicals of the 1930s or the 1960s.
Those "radicals of the 1930s or the 1960s" fought for basic labor rights and worker safety, civil rights, voting rights and all the rest.  The price for those advances in our civilization has already been paid in blood.

For the last 40 years the fight has been between Mr. Brooks' Republican party -- who have spent billions of dollars in a single-minded campaign to roll every one of those advances back -- and we moderns "left-wing radicals" who are are keen to keep and expand on the New Deal and Great Society advances that our forefathers and foremothers bled and died for.
Both the Trumpian populists and the social justice warriors are more intent on denouncing the people they hate than on addressing the concrete problems before them..
You sir are a fucking liar. 


Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote by three million.

But please continue.
The key influence here is Saul Alinsky. His 1971 book, “Rules for Radicals,” has always been popular on the left and recently it has become fashionable with the Tea Party and the alt-right...
Jesus take the wheel.  Before the Cult of Beck sprouted sobbing, hairy, deranged tentacles and hauled itself upright from the toxic waste dump on the Right and declared that “Rules for Radicals" was the grimoire of the Dirty Commie Collectivist Statist Left, virtually no one over on our side had ever heard of it, much less pored over it to glean potent commie majyks to cloud the minds of men.

But because the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It demands it, Mr. David Brooks is now as one with Alex Jones, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck in telling his feeble-minded octogenarians fans that he has Sekrit Insights into the inner workings of the Left.

And off we go...

“The ethics of means and ends is that in war the end justifies almost any means,” Alinsky writes. “Ethical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times,” he adds.

“Ethics are determined by whether one is losing or winning.” That sentence could have been uttered by Donald Trump, but it was really written by Saul Alinsky...

What’s needed is reform of our core institutions to address the bad byproducts, not fundamental dismantling.

That sort of renewal means doing the opposite of everything the left/right radicals do...
And what is Mr. Brooks' miracle cure for this terrible death-grip on the American polity being cause by a tiny fraction of a fraction of those on the Left and virtually the entire fucking Republican party?

If you guessed a pastiche of ahistorical, pseudo-rabbinical argle bargle, you guessed right.  
It means believing that life can be more like a conversation than a war if you open by starting a conversation. It means collectively focusing on problems and not divisively destroying people. It means believing that love is a genuine force in human affairs and that you can be effective by appealing to the better angels of human nature.
We have had two, consecutive Democratic administrations who both went far beyond the call of duty to try to reach common ground with Republicans by appealing to the better angels of their nature.

Both times, Democratic have been rewarded for their superhuman patience and benefit-of-the-doubting with slander, sabotage and sedition from Mr. Brooks' Republican party, which has been steadily devolving towards yahoo fascism for 40 years.

No Mr. Brooks.  Your Republican party no longer has an better angels to which decent men and woman can appeal.  It is a shitpile of bigots, imbeciles, con men and lunatics. 

A shitpile which would have collapsed of its own dead weight long ago if it weren't being constantly propped up by the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It promulgated by wormy quislings like you.  


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How Dare Anyone Act Surprised By The Depravity Of The GOP


For a very long time we on the Left have been using every means we could think of to warn of the monsters the GOP was breeding.

And for our sins we were exiled from polite society and told to sit down and shut up.

And now that the Beast's hour has come round at last and it has slouched its way into the highest office in the land, I turn on my teevee every day to see the political panels still dominated by the same people who called us "traitors" and "liars" and "fools" back in the day. 

Except now they are all wringing their hands and wondering how-oh-how did it ever come to this. 

And they all have a book to sell.

From me in July of 2006:

Evil Liberal John Dean Speaks


While America-hating radical Liberal Barry Goldwater looks on.

For all the general bebitching and bemoaning about the horrible state of public discourse in this country (now that Progressives have started to counterpunch) we Lefties are always faced with three, glaringly obvious facts:
1. The Right started this fucking firestorm. The evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible. They did it to court the extreme, rightwing theocrats and racists that now have taken over their Party, and without whom it would be impossible for them to ever win another election. They did it coldly and with deliberate calculation.

2. Efforts to laugh off or “meet them halfway” have been a failure. Efforts at appeasement of the Mussolini-hearted men who rule the GOP have yielded nothing on the Left but the failed triangulation policy that keeps DLC consultants in big cake and hairplugs…and nothing from the Right except howls of laughter. In the absolutist conservative lexicon, Compromise = Capitulation, and therefore view compromise as spineless and cowardly. So at any effort to find genuine compromise and simply they redouble their “Liberals are vacillating Frenchmen who believe in nothing” narrative. Converselym any effort at standing pat on principle and they redouble their “Liberals are obstructionist” hooligans narrative.

To the Modern Conservative, democracy is a zero-sum-game and Liberals are not the opposition, but the Enemy. To be wiped out as expeditiously as possible.

3. The Persistent Vegetative Press have long since been beaten and starved to the point of abject capitulation, so no joy there. They steadfastly and conspicuously refuse to report on one of the biggest stories of the last 40 years: that Republican Party has been taken over by Stalinists. Instead they have positively sprinted in the opposite direction: burying any story that is critical of the GOP qua GOP, and forever fishing around in the margins for ways in which they can cast the Left as somehow equally and oppositely bad as the Right.

This “Fallacy of False Bisection” is the Conservative Propaganda Firewall; the press’ protective delusion that the “Center” is the Absolute Good wherever is happens to be located today. So that all a Conservative needs to do to radically shift the debate in his direction is to keep charging deeper into the twilight Tyranny/Fascism territory. And, no matter how far he goes, because the Lapdog Press has no fixed principle except “balance”, they will dutifully pace off half the distance between Ann Coulter and the Democrat Du Jure and arbitrarily declare that THIS is where the Reasonable Middle should be.

Today.

Ignoring, of course, the fact that tomorrow the "Center" will be 100 miles to the Right, and since Theocrat Conservative starting playing this game, “the Right” has been dragged so many million parsecs to the Right, the beliefs of a New Reasonable Middle Man would make Richard Nixon look like a Socialist.
So with the Press stiff and cold and the Right gone mad, who are we talking to anymore?

In the short term, I have always believed we are talking to the actual middle.

People who many have signed up with the Conservatives because they bought Rush’s despicable lies, because it gave them someone to blame and there was no one to tell them otherwise.

People who should be Democrats, but watched the Democrats roll over and try to play nice-nice with the GOP as it was infested and seized by the scum of the Earth, instead of whipping the crap out of them.

People who have been conned into believing they are forced to choose between “strong, vicious and stupid” and “weak, cowardly and smart”. Who have been brainwashed (with the assistance of Vichy Democrats) into thinking that those are their only options. Who hate those choices and long for others, but also know, in a dangerous world, stronger is a better bet.

People respond to strength, which is why when Dems fight -- really and persistently fight -- Dems eventually win.

Because our ideas really are better (and among them, yes, we will be raising taxes. Fucking-A. We’ll be rolling back the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, Day One, 8:00, you mooching, thieving pricks.)

Our theologies are better – all of ‘em!

Our sense of humanity and compassion is not only vastly superior, but something we are actually proud of.

We love our Constitution and not just our Flag.

We don’t think the end of the world is either inevitable or desirable: We pray for peace and a million more years of sunrises, and not for fucking Armageddon.

We respect the lessons on past, but passionately believe in the future; we fight for it and not some delusional, idealized, Disneyfied, Conservative Times of Yore that never existed.

We love our Nation Ideals and not just our zip code.

Our women are sexier and smarter and stronger that you can possibly comprehend. And instead of finding that threatening and terrifying, we find it...magnificent.

Our culture is healthier.

And although we love our beer, our Liberal Chardonnay kicks ass.

That’s in the short term.

In the longer term we are all addressing the Future. The generations yet unborn who will look back at America and wonder just what in the fuck happened to make us lose our natural minds!

Well, consider what would happen if we still lived in a society where “proof” actually meant something. Where clapping your hands over your ears and whirling away dervish-like screaming “La-La-La-I-Cannot-Hear-You” when confronted with facts would get you mocked and laughed at, and not appointed to head the local Republican Party.

Consider, say, the case of Albert Einstein and general relativity (In the end how do you know you're a geek? When all your little parables seem to feature a little physics)…
… of all the thousands of eclipses studied by scientists, the most important one was the eclipse of 1919, which was able to provide the clinching evidence in favour of one of the most revolutionary ideas in the history of physics, namely Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Although general relativity was a radically new formulation of gravity, its predictions were largely consistent with Newton’s highly successful theory of gravity. However, Einstein’s theory did make one or two predictions which distinguished it from Newton’s theory, and, if true, these predictions would show that Einstein’s model was closer to reality. For example, Einstein predicted that a gravitational field should bend rays of light much more than was expected by Newton’s theory of gravity. Although the effect was too small to be observed in the laboratory, Einstein calculated that the immense gravity of the massive sun would deflect a ray of light by 1.75 seconds of arc – less that one thousandth of a degree, but twice as large as the deflection according to Newton, and significant enough to be measured.

Einstein pictured a scenario whereby the straight line of sight between a star and an observer on earth would be just blocked by the edge of the sun. Einstein believed that the star would still be visible because gravity would bend the rays of light around the sun and towards the earth. The sighting of a star that should have been blocked by the sun would prove Einstein right, but it is generally to impossible to see starlight that passes close to the sun, because it is swamped by the brilliance of the sun itself. However, during an eclipse, the sun is blacked out by the moon, and under such conditions a gravitationally distorted star should be visible.
Light bends, so general relativity is true (well, relatively.)

The Sun does not travel around the Earth, and a look through any telescope proves it.

It doesn’t matter that “germs” ain’t mentioned in the Bible: Cough on a slide, look at it under a microscope, and tell me what you see.

Now take a look at this video --



-- (originally found at Crooks and Liars) and see the evidence for our current plight just as unambiguous and quantifiable as orbital mechanics or the speed of light.

If you have the time, watch the whole thing, and to read the book, and realize that John Dean is, at heart, a lifelong and loyal old-school Conservative.

That his idol and friend was Barry Goldwater: Father of the Conservative Movement and a man who absolutely reviled the maggoty thing is had mutated into at the hands of the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

That what he is saying strongly parallels some of what founding Conservative Bill Buckley has already said.

And what Kevin Phillips (former Republican strategist and author of "The Emerging Republican Majority") said in his most recent treatise, “'American Theocracy”.

Conservatives all, each practically screaming in their own way that Conservativism is dead, gone, hollowed out and is being worn as sheep's clothing by despicable men who hate and oppose everything the Original Conservatives ever stood for.

So not only do Modern Conservative have contempt for the Founders of our country, they have moved so far into the abyss that they actually dismiss, ignore and revile the Founders of their own ideology.

Consider the numbers Dean is citing: That 23% of the American population are “pure, rightwing Authoritarian followers”. That a tiny fraction – perhaps 1% -- are Liberal, but the rest, the overwhelming majority, identify as Conservatives.

So right there you can kiss any precious pet theory of “balance” goodbye.

Then consider the shameful fact that only about half of the eligible public actually votes during Presidential elections anyway, and quite a bit less at the midterms. And given that it’s a pretty good bet that the 23% who are aggressive, dogmatic followers of a Dear Leader will be much more likely to find their way to the polls, they will be far more represented in the voting half of Americans than in the non-voting half.

So, being conservative (pun intended), lets say 40% of the actually voting public are those “pure, rightwing Authoritarian followers”

And then consider that the numerical split between Dems and Republicans is about 50/50, and the “pure, rightwing Authoritarian followers” tend to overwhelmingly be Conservatives, you end up with damned near 70-80% of Republican voters fitting this profile.

Then, just for good measure, figure out from your own experience how many voters of any Party are actually agenda-driving “activists” -- the ones who pound the pavement, evangelize and make and enforce policy and discipline -- and what kind of Leaders, Policy Makers and Disciplinarians you are likely to grow in this Brownshirt Hothouse, and you begin to see what Liberals have seen and tried to warn this nation about for decades.

That the Grand Old Party has been taken over by monsters.

That based on their perverse theology and enraged-sheep psychological makeup, they have very deliberately driven the traditional democratic model of leadership out of their Party in favor of an aggressively Authoritarian paradigm that is clear in its direction, ideology and intent.

That the GOP has a fascist soul.

Which is why we have to fight like hell. For our values. For our nation. And for that 10% in the middle.

Because appeasing people like this never works; just ask your fathers and grandfathers.

And because, specific programs, policies and timetables aside, in America when one Party openly runs on a single-planked platform of “FEAR” under the “Jebusland Uber Alles” banner, that should damned well be a good enough reason to vote for the other guys.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Sunday Morning Comin' Down



I've already said all I had to say about Mr. David Brooks' garment-rending-hand-wringing column on Friday and his appearance on the Intelligence Squared debate stage and his dizzyingly non-linear understanding of recent American political history, so I will just note that this Sunday morning was something like the 3,785th time he was invited to appear on Meet the Press to reprise portions of his most recent column for the reading-impaired.
CHUCK TODD:  David, I want to get to a point you made in your column on Friday, which is a victory by Roy Moore for the Republican Party is, I guess, the ultimate in empiric victory, isn't it?

DAVID BROOKS:  Right.
Also featured on Meet the Press was noted tosspot, torture-whisperer and Respected NBC Employee, Peggy Noonan.  Because I suppose given the state of swooning fidgets which have temporarily afflicted Mr. David Brooks this week, NBC brass thought he might need some help bearing the Both Sides banner on his own.

Peggers was more than up to the task.

After pausing briefly to kick Al Franken on his way out of the Senate --

-- she hied herself over to NBC as fast as possible without risking spillage --


-- in order to deliver her lines:
PEGGY NOONAN:  I understand. Can I say, part of this pushback you see on Fox and other stations and outlets, part of it is I very much remember “Let's kill Ken Starr”--

CHUCK TODD:  Right.

PEGGY NOONAN:  -- in the late 1990s, it was the Democratic party and Democratic media trying to kill the Republican special prosecutor. That said, it is so important, so much depends on the Mueller investigation that it's not bad, I think, if people look at it in a strict way and just say, "Make sure everything's on the up and up and fully credible and not partisan and not partisan political creepiness."
Watching the Sunday Shows really is like watched state-media broadcasts from Camazotz.  Part ahistoric blathering, part hastily thrown-together Both Siderist fairy tales, all in the service of  awkwardly and self-consciously avoiding any discussion that has anything to do with what is actually going on in this country right now, or the lived experiences and memories of the tens of millions of us who exist outside of the Beltway bubble.  

And I am oddly comforted by the fact that the perpetrators of this weekly sham are so keenly aware of how weak and ridiculous they are that they absolutely will not let anyone within a 1000 yards of the party who might show up with a little actual, inconvenient history in-hand.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

David Brooks Got a Song That Ain't Got No Melody


He's gonna sing it to his friends.
Will it go round in circles?
Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?

David Brooks pooped out a long, sad column on Friday entitled "The G.O.P. Is Rotting".  It caught many people's attention -- so much so that many people who are not America's leading Brooksologist had many things to say about it --
-- which I'm sure I will get to in greater depth sooner or later, unless this post veers into the tall grass, as happens every now and then.*

But the long and short of Mr. Brooks' particular genre of New York Times'-underwritten fiction (and as I have pointed out countless times already, it is fiction) is that, like Camleot, once there was a Republican party which, for, one brief shining moment was fucking awesome.
The Republican Party I grew up with admired excellence.
And that unbeknownst to anyone, somewhere along the way something went wrong.
A lot of good, honorable Republicans used to believe there was a safe middle ground. You didn’t have to tie yourself hip to hip with Donald Trump, but you didn’t have to go all the way to the other extreme and commit political suicide like the dissident Jeff Flake, either. You could sort of float along in the middle, and keep your head down until this whole Trump thing passed.


Now it’s clear that middle ground doesn’t exist. That’s because Donald Trump never stops asking...
Something which slipped right by men like Mr. David Brooks, whose only fucking job for the past 20 years has been to be paid exorbitant sums of American money to speak with sweeping, insider authority about what was going on inside the Conservative movement and the Republican party.  Something which men like Mr. David Brooks have confidently asserted for decades was just a figment to the fevered imagination of stupid, deranged, Bush-hating Liberals who, I'm sure, were on stilts the whole time.

This whole being-completely-fucking-wrong-about-everything-having-to-do-with-his-own-party has left Mr. David  Brooks groping for an explanation, which he delivers in a manner best appreciated if you imagine it coming out of his bland moon face in same baby-talk tone as President Merkin Muffley explaining to Soviet Premier Dimitri Kissoff that one of his base commanders has gone "a little funny in the head":


This is the moment when the enforcement of the Beltway Iron Rule of David Brooks --



-- becomes most important, because this is the moment where the time-line of Mr. Brooks' political theology -- that his Republican party was humming along great until, completely without warning, it was suddenly taken over by hobgoblins and madmen -- goes into the ditch.

For example, on Friday, December 8, 2017, Mr. Brooks would like you to believe that the downfall of his party began with the arrival of Sarah Palin and Fox News:
The reason, I guess, is that the rot that has brought us to the brink of Senator Roy Moore began long ago. Starting with Sarah Palin and the spread of Fox News, the G.O.P. traded an ethos of excellence for an ethos of hucksterism.
But immediately there's a problem.

Fox News began its reign of bullshit in 1996.  That is a definite point on a verifiable timeline.

But here is Mr. David Brooks in 1999 telling his readers that his Republican party is being rebuilt into something awesome:
ONE NATION CONSERVATISM
How George W. Bush and John McCain -- without quite realizing it -- are creating a new Republican philosophy
SEP 13, 1999

...together, Bush's Compassionate Conservatism and McCain's New Patriotic Challenge are steps toward a fresh vision for the Republican party. Indeed, if you meld the core messages of the two campaigns, you get a coherent governing philosophy for the post-Clinton age.
Here is Mr. David Brooks in 2000 telling his readers that his Republican party is on the mend!
Pabulum with a Purpose
Beneath the much-mocked superficiality of the Philadelphia convention is a serious effort to transform the GOP
AUG 14, 2000

The GOP is not intolerant...
Here is Mr. David Brooks in 2001 telling his readers that his Republican party is hale and hearty and doing just fine and it's the Libtards like me who are wacky and foolish:
Competent Conservatives, Reactionary Liberals
JAN 15, 2001

...We seem to be entering a period of competent conservatism and reactionary liberalism. George W. Bush has put together a cabinet long on management experience and practical skills. But liberal commentators and activists, their imaginations aflame, seem to be caught in a time warp, back in the days when Norman Lear still had hair. 
Here is Mr. David Brooks in 2002 telling his readers that there is no such thing as Corporate America -- that it's all a dirty, pinko Libtard myth invented to win elections:
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. They perceive no one organized entity, Corporate America, that ruthlessly exploits another, Ordinary Americans.
At this point along the time-line of Mr. Brooks' political theology we enter the period of the Great Iraqi Clusterfuck during which he unlimbers his most venomous prose to praise George W. Bush and the Republican party unstintingly and flog dirty, Libtard traitors like me unsparingly.

So yadda yadda, yadda...We Won!

Something something...Libtards are dolts and liars who will never admit they were wrong, wrong about Dubya.

And then oopsie! It all falls apart, and Mr. David Brooks (and the rest of the Beltway media) suddenly and aggressively shift away from praising George W. Bush without ceasing...

...and begin a Brand New Era of blaming every problem under the Sun on Both Sides.

Now being a clever reader you see that I have palmed a card.  OK, the "Fox News" part of David Brooks' time-line might be fucked, but what about Sarah Palin?
 Starting with Sarah Palin and the spread of Fox News, the G.O.P. traded an ethos of excellence for an ethos of hucksterism
Huh?  What about that?

Fair point.

Sarah Palin showed up on the American political scene when John McCain named her as his running mate in late September of 2008.

Here is Mr. David Brooks six years later in November of 2014, just seven months before Donald J. Trump rode his Escalator of Doom into history.
The big Republican accomplishment is that they have detoxified their brand. Four years ago they seemed scary and extreme to a lot of people. They no longer seem that way. The wins in purple states like North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado are clear indications that the party can at least gain a hearing among swing voters. And if the G.O.P. presents a reasonable candidate (and this year’s crop was very good), then Republicans can win anywhere. I think we’ve left the Sarah Palin phase and entered the Tom Cotton phase. 
You see, for University of Chicago history baccalaureate David Brooks, modern Republican political history cannot be allowed to exist as it does for little nobodies like you and me -- as a series of events and decisions which lead one to the next, to the next, until we arrive at the Administration of President Stupid.  A history in which nature and trajectory of the modern Republican party were so the fundamental and directly observable that the accelerating devolution of the Right from depravity to depravity to where we are now was clearly and easily predictable (and predicted) even by stupid Libtard traitors like me.

Because if history does exist in the way you and I perceive it -- a linear progression through time occasionally spiced up with Giant Screaming Neon Signs that tell us what will probably come next if we continue  down a particular road -- then it would appear that Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times must either be a complete idiot or a pathological liar, neither one of which looks good on the Times' masthead.

But Mr. Brooks is neither a historian nor a journalist:  he is an amateur Conservative political theologian, who plies his trade at the intersection of both folly and fraud.

For him, the past and present are one big bag of unrelated, atemporal baubles to be ransacked in order to craft little political morality fables.  Or, rather, slight variations of exactly the same, extremely profitable self-exonerating political morality fable -- Both Sides Are To Blame And Men Like David Brooks Had Nothing To Do With Any Of It -- over and over again.

With the Rise of Trump, Mr. Brooks makes it very clear that he believed his Republican Party is faced with the unique threat of an unprincipled, unrepentant thug leading a legion of craven elected officials into dark and terrible places (from The New York Times on Friday):
“What shall it profit a man,” Jesus asked, “if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” The current Republican Party seems to not understand that question. Donald Trump seems to have made gaining the world at the cost of his soul his entire life’s motto.

It’s amazing that there haven’t been more Republicans like Mitt Romney who have said: “Enough is enough! I can go no further!”
And in his Intelligence Squared debate performance on same day he wrote this column**, Mr. Brooks also makes it clear that he believes the reason so many Republican voters have thrown in with such craven and reprehensible people is that we Libtards are smug, judgmental assholes (this my rush transcript which begins at around the 15:30 mark, so all typos are my own):
And the fourth thing..biggest thing I found as far as the resolution is that you could tell somebody based on a label.  ...  The claim of this resolution is that Liberals as people are superior to Robbie and me.  And the rest of those who go by the label "conservatism".  I fundamentally believe that is a bit of a pernicious way to think.  If you think you're superior to me and you come from a moral high ground it's pretty hard for us to have a conversation.  
If you think you come from a moral high ground superior to me I can't compromise with your because to do that would be to surrender my honor.  If you think you're morally superior to Conservatives well then Conservatives will act with angry resentment and a lot of people voted for Donald Trump  because they though a bunch of tenured radicals along the coasts thought they were morally superior to them.  And so if you want the kind of politics you have today, think you're morally superior to the other side.
During this "debate" Mr. Brooks and his partner goes all-in on his despicable Both Siderist dogma by dismissing the whole idea that anyone can be morally superior to anyone else as a "pernicious concept".  In fact, as Mr. Brooks elaborated, anyone who dares to think they are morally superior to anyone else is probably a sign that they are not.

Got that?  In Mr. Brooks' universe, John Lewis is not morally superior to Roy Moore and Barack Obama is not morally superior to Donald Trump.  Like some half-drunk sophomore philosophy major trying to bullshit their way out of a DUI, Mr. Brooks wants you to believe that the people who presume to judges his actions are the ones who are truly morally suspect. 

In doing so, Mr. Brooks not only takes his French leave from any responsibility for anything his party has ever done, and not only destroys the possibility of any public conversation on this subject by insisting as a precondition for participation that no one should be allowed to draw a distinction between apple juice and rat poison, but he also removes all agency from those who want to feed us the rat poison.  According to Mr. Brooks, the base voters of his Republican party who showed up last November in their tens of millions to elect an unhinged, openly racist, serial liar and sexual predator in order to take my family's health insurance away did not do so because they are racists or Dominionists or because letting Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity take a dump in their skulls for 20 years had turned them into reprogammable meatbags.  No, according to Mr. Brooks they queued up to proudly vote for a deranged monster because "a bunch of tenured radicals along the coasts thought they were morally superior to them."

Thanks a lot, Libtards!

But just for fun and to beat this dead horse just a bit more, let's go back in time a little ways.  Before Donald Trump.  Before Sarah Palin.  Before the Fake Tea Party and Death Panels and Birthers.

Back to an era which has been cordoned off  as "Danger: Do Not Enter!" by most of the mainstream media, the entire Republican party.

Back to 2005 when Mr. Brooks' Republican party was -- surprise! -- facing the unique threat of an unprincipled, unrepentant thug leading a legion of craven elected officials into dark and terrible places.  Note Mr. Brooks' completely hilarious read on who the "American people" are (spoiler: they're conservative!) and up with what kind of mischief these Conservative voters definitely will not put:
Then there is the Tom DeLay situation. Conversations with House Republicans in the past week leave me with one clear impression: If DeLay falls, it will not be because he took questionable trips or put family members on the payroll. It will be because he is anxiety-producing and may become a political liability.

Being conservative, the American people don't want leaders who perpetually play it close to the ethical edge. They don't want leaders who, under threat, lash out wildly at beloved institutions like the judiciary. They don't want leaders whose instinct is always to go out wildly on the attack. They don't want leaders so reckless that even when they know they are living under a microscope, they continue to act in ways that invite controversy.

House Republicans like what DeLay has done, and few have any personal animus toward him, but his aggressiveness makes them -- and his own constituents -- nervous. Only 39 percent of DeLay's Texas constituents said they would stick with him if he were up for re-election today, a Houston Chronicle survey found.
Twelve years ago, Libtard nobodies like me were warning that conservative voters were plunging down a long, dark road that would swiftly lead to the election of monsters and the ruin of the nation, while highly-paid Conservative brain wizards like David Brooks asserting with absolute confidence that Conservative voters could never in a million years nominate and elect someone who sabotaged the judiciary and other "beloved institutions", attacked chimp-with-a-machine-gun-fashion in all directions, lurched from controversy to controversy, and played it "close to the ethical edge".  

And twelve years ago, who did Mr. David Brooks blame for driving to poor, noble Conservative voters into the arms of such the Party of Tom DeLay?  Well if you guessed those same "tenured radicals along the coasts" who, twelve years later, are apparently still driving those poor, noble Conservative voters (who somehow have managed to avoid learning a single fucking thing in the intervening years except to turn Fox up louder) into the arms of monsters, you are correct!
This does not mean good news for Democrats. That party is at risk of going into a death spiral. The Democrats lost white working-class voters by 23 percentage points in the last election, and now the party is being led by people who are guaranteed to alienate those voters even more: the highly educated and secular university-town elites who follow Howard Dean and believe Bush hatred and stridency are the outward signs of righteousness.
Twelve years later, history has proven that the base voters of Mr. Brooks' Republican party absolutely adore literally everything that Mr. Brooks told his readers that they loath, and yet the fairy tale which The New York Times continues to pay him a princely sum to spin about what the Republican party really is why they do what they do has remained virtually unchanged.

After the debate, Melissa Harris-Perry tweeted this, which echoed her plea during the debate that those who sat by and let the Republican party (my words, not hers) devolve into a freakshow of lunatics and bigots and imbeciles must stop pretending that this all just happened out-of-the-blue 18 months ago when Trump showed up and take some god damn responsibility for the disaster they helped to author.
But sadly, that is never going to happen.

And it is never going to happen specifically because of men like Mr. David Brooks who, as I mentioned above, is neither historian nor journalist.  Mr. Brooks is an amateur Conservative political theologian -- a cardinal in the Beltway's one true religion, the High and Holy Church of Both Siderism. A cult built on cherry-picking random facts and observations from here and there and extrapolating wildly and wrongly from them in order to generate variations of exactly the same, Beltway-comforting and self-exonerating political morality fable over and over again:
Both Sides Are To Blame And Men Like David Brooks Had Nothing To Do With Any Of It
*Look like this post veered into the tall grass after all :-)




Behold, a Tip Jar!




**The Intelligence Squared debate I referenced was stupid for a lot of reasons, but mostly it was stupid because while the topic was "Liberals Hold the Moral High Ground", neither the moderator (John Donvan) nor Team Conservative (David Brooks and Robert George) were remotely interested in letting the debate stray into any discussion about what was happening in the here-and-now with real political parties and real issues.

Mr. Donvan appeared to realize almost immediately how stupidly the proposition for this debate had been framed, but nonetheless kept aggressively cutting off Team Good Guys (Melissa Harris-Perry and Howard Dean) when they introduced facts and figures and insisted that they stick to debating whether a completely abstract and theoretical concept of "Liberal" (whatever the fuck that means) is morally superior to a completely abstract and theoretical concept of "Conservative" across all time, space and dimensions.

Which suited Team Conservative just fine, because it let them off the hook for explaining the death-spiral depravity of the Republican Party and the Conservatives Movement as they have existed during their entire adult lifetime and instead permitted them to wander the aisles of an Imaginary GOP and Idealized Conservatism, picking and choosing whatever fairy tales suited their immediate need.

Thus armored and with the floor slanted mightily in their direction, all Team Conservative had to do was play defense.

Example (slightly fictionalized):
Team Good Guys say "Roy Moore".
Team Conservative responds: Well what about Bill Clinton?  What about Woodrow Wilson?  What about Maximilien fucking Robespierre?
Example (slightly fictionalized):
Team Good Guys say "Donald Trump".
Team Conservative responds: Trump is not a Republican.  He is a reactionary outlier that showed up 18 months ago and ensorcelled the GOP using some magical power we don't understand.  Before that everything was fucking awesome!  Trump is the enemy of both Republicans and Democrats, and both Republicans and Democrats are equally responsible for his rise.


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Matthew Dowd is a Fundamentally Ridiculous Person



"We"? Who the fuck is "we"?

Seriously, what is it about these network news muppets that, at every critical juncture, they are incapable of forming their mouths to say the word "Republican".

Exhibit B:
A "Republican" congressman you pisher.

Republican. 



Behold, a Tip Jar!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Professional Left Podcast #418


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And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!"
-- Traditional English nursery rhyme
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