Monday, August 03, 2015

The Bitter Old Bigot Caucus Still Going Strong


This week in "No One Noticed" news, Bill O'Reilly is quite correct:


He's right; in pursuit of the kind of viewer who thinks Bill O'Reilly is a genius, MSNBC executives have insulted its core audience so relentlessly and debased its currency so thoroughly, why should anyone care about them whacking their midday lineup and replacing it with Moar Shuck Todd?

You know what else no one cares about?

The fact that, while Brian Williams had to eat a humiliating public suspension and take a demotion for making shit up, the scandal of the serial lies of Bill O'Reilly has now completely vanished down the memory hole and Mr. O'Reilly's career continues to roll merrily along, unperturbed.

The fact that Nobel-prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, penned yet another devastating vivisection of the Cult of Centrism which has killed our politics, and which disappeared down the memory hole within a few hours of being published.

The fact that New York Times columnist and America's leading Conservative public intellectual and Moral Scold, David Brooks, absolutely shit the bed in print just two weeks ago. Since then, all the Very Serious People who idolize Mr. Brooks and all that he stands for have very conspicuously avoided mentioning the incident or asking him a single question about it. And so, down the memory hole it goes as well.

To understand how completely our media and our politics are being wrecked and by whom, one need only draw a map using these four "disappeared" stories as cardinal points.  

Sunday Morning Comin' Down



"The Bullet Holes in the Bombers" Edition.

Periodically I get asked the question, "Why do you waste your time on those [insert favorite epithet here] Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade?  They are either establishmentarian shit-wagons, or outright Republican troll shows, so why the fuck do you bother?"

Good question, because week-in-week-out, there is nothing whatsoever worth seeing on any of these Sunday Beltway puppet shows.  They are empty ritual performed in the temple of a fake god, presided over by people who are paid enormous sums of money to perform this fraud once a week.   As an exercise in civic responsibility, the entire enterprise is a dead-loss and an insult to any notion of journalism.

But inside our Imperial City, these rituals are taken very seriously by the powerful people and corporations which control our economic and political lives.  This whole, grotesque "Both Sides" kabuki is enacted every week for their benefit, and for millions of our fellow citizens who want their political apathy and cowardice mirrored back to them as the received wisdom of elite and respected insiders -- the political equivalent of swearing that you frequent that bondage-themed night club because they have an excellent buffet.

So make no mistake: the corporations who fund these puppet shows and the people who front for them in print and on the air are the Bad Guys --



-- but unlike out-and-out fascist propaganda slop-houses like Fox News, they have to keep up appearances.  Feign respectability.  Because nobody likes to see the hostess' wig slip when they're telling themselves they're at the titty bar because of its world-famous french toast.

So the reason to observe the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade -- at this point, the only reason -- is analogous to the reason the Allies studied bullet-hole patterns in their returning bombers during WWII:  because  when taken in the aggregate, what is missing tells the real story:
One famous story of operations research success during the war involved an analysis of Allied bombers returning from bombing missions over Europe. The military analyzed the location of shrapnel damage and bullet holes in returning bombers, to identify where to place additional armor on aircraft. Operations researchers were brought in at the last minute to do a “confirmatory” analysis, but they recommended that additional armor be placed on bombers everywhere except the places with damage or bullet holes! The operations researchers realized that analyzing damage to returning bombers involved a sampling error. It was the bombers that did not return that needed extra protection—and they needed it in the most vulnerable places (the places not damaged on the returning bombers).
By Sunday,  Donald Trump had risen high enough in the celestial order of things to rate a 3/4 Ginsberg -- by phone.  That's right, he literally phoned-it-in to ABC, NBC and CBS.

A Full Phonesburg, if you will.

And he said nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Just...trumpspeak.

In addition to Republican Donald Trump, Shuck Todd put a camera in front of the emptiest suit in American politics -- RNC Chairman Reince Priebus -- to ask him about how the RNC has let Fox News take over the party and turn the debates into a freak show of drowning candidates, climbing all over each other to try to out crazy Donald Trump.

His response was one for the ages:



Then they wheeled out Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- presumably for "balance" -- to babble in a vigorous circular motion about about unsourced, unconfirmed rumors about Joe Biden and to play pin-the-tail-on-the-Socialist.

It's a pity that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is kinda dumb, because here was a perfect chance to explain that Social Security is socialism.  Medicare is socialism.  Every foot of our public roads and bridges, every acre of our public parks and every brick and book in every public libraries are examples of socialism incarnate.  And that the Right has spent decades making this an ooga-booga word because they want to get rid of all those things.

But even though she had been asked this question before, when confronted with video of her blowing the answer to this question the first time, Debbie Wasserman Schultz blew it a second time.

So why have such a weak-ass Democrat on to defend Bernie Sanders and his place in our political firmament when there are a 1,000 stronger voices out there who could have handled that question brilliantly?

Now, that's a damn good question.

Shuck Todd also read meaningless poll numbers and fundraising totals at you, in a tone usually reserve for warning civilians about imminent Godzilla attacks.  Because meaningless poll numbers and fundraising totals matter very deeply to the powerful people and corporations which control our economic and political lives.

Then, 30 seconds on cops and body cameras and Black Lives Matter, because you can't say NBC doesn't care about black people!  And then we pivot to Republican Dr. Ben Carson.

I have inaccurately transcribed that conversation for your reading pleasure:
Shuck Todd:  I hear Cuba Gooding Junior played you in a movie once.

 Ben Carson:  That's true.

Shuck Todd:  So what was it like working with those adorable Snow Dogs?

 Ben Carson:  Wrong movie.

Shuck Todd:  And speaking of movies, Donald Trump.  I notice that you're not a politician.  Just like Donald Trump in not a politician.

Ben Carson:  Yes.  Donald Trump is awesome.

Shuck Todd:  I also noticed that you're black.  Hey, what about Black Lives Matter?

Ben Carson:   Cops are awesome.  People shouldn't advocate killing them.

Shuck Todd:   Um...ok.

Ben Carson:   If you think cops suck so bad, try living in anarchy for a week!  Because those are our only two alternatives apparently.

Shuck Todd:   This topic is making me nervous, and making you sound nuts, so let's talk about immigration?  A little snow dog tells me that you are in favor of amnesty.

Ben Carson:  I told you, that's the wrong movie. And I'm in favor of not being absurd about the logistics of deporting 12 millions people, whatever you call it.

Shuck Todd:   Amnesty, Amnesty, Amnesty!

Ben Carson:  Whatever.

Shuck Todd:   Here's a random question from Facebook because we at NBC are totally down with the kids today and their Twitters and Instagrams and such.  Random Facebook Persons asks:  "If Jebus fought Thomas Jefferson with nun-chucks, who would win!"

Ben Carson:  I'll pass.

Shuck Todd:   Thanks Dr. Ben Carson!
The so-called political panel was just as bizarre and pointless.  Everybody had a line to say, and everybody said their line:

Gerald Seib, the guy from Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal wants you to know that their polls show Trump's support goes beyond angry, stupid white men.  He's also popular among angry, stupid white women and angry, stupid young people!

Kathleen Parker, one of the Republican mouthpieces from Washington Post, urged Jeb Bush to be like Ronald Reagan and sell arms to Iran or something.

Yeah, that'll work:


Helene Cooper of The New York Times wants you to know that despite her 20-year-old obsessive hatred of the Clintons, Maureen Dowd is a fantastic reporter who can totally be trusted.

And survivor-of-the-MSNBC-purge Chris Matthews offers his advice for taking on Donald Trump.



Basically, everyone milled around in the parking lot, passing the Conventional Wisdom jug around, waiting for the title fight this Thursday.

Because it's just a game to them.

Just a game.

...
But all this noise doesn’t amount to an ongoing story by which citizens can understand what is actually going on. Not just concerning who might be our next president, but what it all means for the republic. And not just concerning the candidates, but the behind-the-scenes string-pullers whose names, really, should be almost as familiar to us as Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio, and, God forbid, Dr. Carson.

Instead, we get the same old hackneyed horse race—like, did you know that Rick Santorum is in trouble? Only one voter showed up at his June 8 event in Hamlin, Iowa. The Des Moines Register reported that. Politico made sure that tout Washington knew it. Though neither mentioned that Santorum is still doing just fine with the one voter that matters: Foster Friess, the Wyoming financier who gave his super-PAC $6.7 million in 2012, and promises something similar this year. “He has the best chance of winning,” Friess said. “I can’t imagine why anybody would not vote for him.’’ Which, considering only 2 percent of New Hampshirites and Iowans agree with him, is kind of crazy. And you’d think having people like that picking the people who govern us would all be rather newsworthy.

You’d be right.

Just don’t expect to read anything about it in Politico.

And don't expect to see or hear anything about it on the weekly Gasbag Cavalcade.

#TrueDetective: Little Latin Lupe Lu


So what does The Righteous Brothers' 1963 hit have to do with tonight's penultimate episode of True Detective?

Not a thing.  Not a damn thing.

But it got you here, didn't it?  Got you to look?

And that has apparently been the point all along: just random shit to make you look.

So here's what you missed tonight.

Two characters stare at each other for an hour and exchange grunty syllables. Then they make the beast with two backs and perhaps teach us all an important lesson about sharing and we get to see Rachel McAdams' butt cleavage.

Two characters do a call-and-response of names from the Greater Vinci Area white pages.

It's also cop family discount night at cheap motels across the Greater Vinci Area.

Jesus, again with fucking the diamonds. And also too, entirely different diamonds because things are not confusing enough.  Also a Hasidic diamond merchant we have never met (but who some other guy we have never met vouches for) is no involved because reasons.

And speaking of characters we have barely met before, suddenly the Chief of Police -- who has spent the entire series working hard to no impression whatsoever -- is at the vital center of All That Had Gone Before.

See, one of our characters walks into an Obvious Trap but that's OK because other reasons. He calls from the scene of the Obvious Trap to give another character information which renders the bait for Obvious Trap moot...but walks right into it anyway.

Our character is then walked though conveniently deserted subway hallways and tunnels where the the Chief of Police Reveals Important Scheme Details to our now-unarmed character just before dispatching him. Oh no!

Now is it possible that at some point over the last six episodes the Chief of Police has made some subtle, sinister moves to suggest why he is a Gas Giant around whom a substantial chunk of plot now suddenly orbits.


Maybe.

 But I don't remember it, and anyway, I'm watching a fucking teevee show here, not prepping for a quiz on "Ulysses".

But wait! 

Our character has just pulled some sweet John Carter/ninja moves and disarmed the Chief of Police, taken him hostage, and used that leverage to force his henchmen to disarm.

Yay!

But wait!

It seems that rather than rounding up all the now gun-free henchmen, collecting their arsenal and marching them all back out (or, at a minimum, circle-cuffing the lot of them around one of the subway pillars and then making his escape) our character instead punches out the Chief of Police and flees down the tunnels, allowing all the henchmen to re-strap themselves and give chase.

Oh no!

But wait!

After running around in the the tunnels in the dark and shooting at cops (or are they defense contractors?) who are too fucking stupid to turn off their "Please aim at my big, bright light and shoot" flashlights, all the henchmen are out of the picture.

Yay!

Our character is now free to find a ladder and then do some more running and then emerge...

...through the one and only doorway in the entire Los Angeles subways system behind which an even more nefarious henchman is waiting.

With a gun!

Oh no!

Also the missing girl upon whom several other slabs of plot have been pivoting was never missing and the Sylvia Plath bar and Grill was closed for repairs this week. 

Hope it wasn't a gas leak. 

Now look me in the eyes.  I wanna watch your lights go out.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Professional Left Podcast #295

ProfessionalLeft

"The thing is this: You got to have fun while you're fightin' for freedom, 'cause you don't always win."
-- Molly Ivins, writer


Links:







More Axes Fall At Comcast's Red-Headed Stepchild Network



As the Republican Party sheds the last tattered scraps of ersatz respectability to let its Inner Brownshirt run nekkid and free...



...and as the direct connection between the rise of Conservative Hate Media, the calculated derangement of the Conservative rank-and-file...



...and the collapse of our capacity for self-government is drawn more clearly and plainly than ever before...
Over at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, where she was a fellow this spring, longtime New York Times political reporter Jackie Calmes has released a long, fascinating discussion paper on the role of the conservative media in this state of affairs: "'They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing': Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party."
...the last freehold of opposition to this avalanching catastrophe on television is getting Another!Exciting!New!Makeover! (h/t Alert Reader Kathleen O'Neill):
MSNBC Confirms Change Is Hard, Chuck Todd In, ‘The Cycle,’ ‘Now With Alex Wagner,’ ‘The Ed Show’ Out
The Rosetta Stone you need to understand why in the name of Sweet Steamboat Jesus clowns like Squint and the Meat Puppet and their entire menagerie of Beltway hacks and buffoons are keeping their sweet, sweet jobs, but Ed Schultz is being handed his walking papers is to be found here (emphasis added):
...
Alex Wagner will stay with MSNBC and play a key role in our political coverage as we head into the 2016 election. And Ari Melber will continue in his role as Chief Legal Correspondent. But we will be parting ways with some friends – Ed Schultz, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman and Toure will be leaving MSNBC. Please join me in thanking them for their numerous contributions over the past several years, and in wishing them great success.

Beginning in a few weeks, Chuck Todd will bring his unmatched brand of political insight and analysis back to MSNBC with a daily one-hour program. That show will air weekdays at 5pm.
...
Yeah, if you still have room on your  Wall of Beltway Media Shame, you can mount that giant "Fuck You!" to whatever is left of sentient American right next to the lovely pairing of the very-nearly-pubescent Jonathan Greenberger (ABC's Washington Bureau chief, vice president and executive producer of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”) sacking a bunch of staffers at ABC just a few months ago  --
Starting today, we launch a new approach to the way we operate, unifying the Bureau into a single team serving every platform within ABC News. As part of this transformation, we will unfortunately have to redefine some jobs and say goodbye to some of our colleagues, as we’ll need fewer people in some operations, engineering and general assignment editorial posts. This decision did not come easily, but we feel it is necessary for the continued strength of our Bureau in a rapidly changing landscape.
-- with the very same Jonathan Greenberger announcing just a year earlier that he had hired Bill "Always Wrong" Kristol because Kristol is a "brilliant, original thinker"


It has never been more obvious that there are certain topics which Organized Money does not want us talking about.  Which means that even as we watch the remnants of "liberal" MSNBC being bagged up and tossed into the same grave as Air America, we are obliged to talk about those things even louder.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Everything's Coming Up Driftglass





Dr. Vox makes an ominous discovery:
How conservative media helped the far-right take over the Republican Party

Most people who follow politics are aware that something unusual is going on in the Republican party — unusual relative to major conservative parties in other developed democracies and unusual relative to American history. GOP leaders no longer appear in control of their own agenda. Instead, they are being dragged from crisis to failure to embarrassment and back to crisis by the most extreme elements of their coalition. The far right has captured the party.

Over at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, where she was a fellow this spring, longtime New York Times political reporter Jackie Calmes has released a long, fascinating discussion paper on the role of the conservative media in this state of affairs: "'They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing': Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party."
...
One of these days before I vanish from blogging entirely, I hope I can snag me one a' them there job  at one a' them there magazine.

And when that happens, my plan is to set up an algorithm to go through my archives, pick out old posts, touch them up with a few modern accessories ("I was just reading a study...on InstaGram!") and reprint them as edgy and new.

And then I will retire to a hammock in some sylvan glade with my brood, there to watch the money pour in on autopilot and laugh and laugh and laugh.  I figure if I tweak it right, I can still be making bank well after I'm dead.


That #MrRobot Song You Were Wondering About



With tonight's episode, Mr. Robot is now the natural successor of Breaking Bad.

No kidding.  It's breathtaking.

Some Velvet Morning - Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood:
Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
I'm gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight

Flowers growing on a hill, dragonflies and daffodils
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
I'm gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight

Flowers are the things we know, secrets are the things we grow
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
Flowers growing on a hill
I'm gonna open up your gate
dragonflies and daffodils
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
Learn from us very much
And how she gave me life
look at us but do not touch

And how she made it end
Well Eliot does get straight.
And does open up a gate.
And a buncha other things happen too.
Oh my, oh my, yes they do.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wingnut Demagogue Highlander



Today Trump boosted Mike Huckabee's Nazi gold.

Tomorrow it will be something else.

This political season has felt like binge watching Wingnut Demagogue Highlander -- my imaginary show on USA in which, each week,  a mob of reckless charlatans try to chop each other's heads off and steal each other's power, but however complicated the plot gets, by the end of each episode, the protagonist has always won and has always gotten a little bit stronger.

And while I am not fool enough to gamble on who the ultimate winner will be, in the game of Wingnut Demagogue Highlander, never bet against someone who had been President and CEO-for-Life of his own successful bullshit manufacturing empire for the last 30 years...



Go, Lemmings, Go!, Ctd.



I was worried there for a minute that I wasn't going to have a chance to use this graphic again for awhile.

Silly driftglass.

Summer is one of the seasons when the bone-in stupid of the GOP base reaches its peak of freshness (the other seasons are winter, fall and spring.)  And with the Kenyan Usurper actually flipping them the bird from Kenya, and no fake birth certificate or death panel idiocy to rally 'round or carefully orchestrated Fox News-sponsored/Koch-funded "grassroots" wingnut raves to attend, the hungry hungry hypocrites need something to bang their heads against.

So why not Boehner?  

Practically since the day the GOP took the House, he has been the weepy, incompetent box of Chicken-in-a-Biscuit on the back of the wingnut shelf -- a perennial snack-of-last-resort to be tossed from time to time to the rage monster on whose back the Party of Personal Responsibility now rides (Google "humiliate Boehner" for a trip down memory lane.)

And so, inevitably... (from Politico):
House conservative seeks John Boehner's ouster

Most Republicans, however, say it will be tough to round up the votes to overthrow the speaker.

By Jake Sherman and Lauren French

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows had heard from leading conservatives that trying to oust Speaker John Boehner right now was a bad idea.

Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), fierce and frequent critics of leadership, thought the move was ill-advised. Some of Meadows’ friends didn’t even see it coming. But just before 6 p.m. Tuesday — a day before the House was set to leave town for its five-week summer recess — Meadows offered a motion to vacate the chair, an extraordinarily rare procedural move that represents the most serious expression of opposition to Boehner’s speakership. If the motion were to pass — most Republicans say it will be hard to cobble together the votes — Boehner would be stripped of the speaker’s gavel, potentially plunging the House of Representatives into chaos.

GOP leaders were taken completely by surprise. Meadows, a second-term Republican, hadn’t even asked for a meeting with Boehner or other top Republicans to air his gripes.
...
Since the GOP has given up any pretext of being interested in actual governance, and since the party's vandal base rewards anyone who finds new and exciting ways to sugar democracy's gas tank, we're going to keep winding up here over and over again until these people and their media enablers are driven from power.





Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House



Now that the worst people in the media have a wide, protected beach-head on your Liberal teevee, expect things to keep getting worse until Steve "Lil' Chuck Tood" Kornacki is the most Liberal thing on MSNBC, and CNN or Fox just buys the former Olbermann network outright for pocket change.

But until that time, you can still enjoy the sight of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asking Both Siderist shit-slinger-for-hire Ron Fournier to help him figure out what in the heck is going on in the crazy modern world of politics, what with its Instagram machines and Palm Pilots.

The astute reader will note that while Mr. Fournier has no trouble piling on safe-target Donald Trump, he goes out of his way to suck up to his bread-and-butter -- the meatsticks who thinks Trump is the answer to their dreams.  See, contrary to what you snooty media elites think, they're not "dumb-dumbs" at all.   Not the degenerate end-product of a Conservatism's 30-year-long Fox News/HateRadio wingnut manufacturing process.  Oh heavens no!  They're smart, responsible, sweet-smelling, salt-of-the-Earth products of Founier's squalid little imagination citizens of TheGreatestCountryGodEverMade who have "every reason" to be as cartoonishly unhinged as they clearly are because queers and n*ggers and Mexican rapists with Obamaphones are coming for their guns! they just love this gosh darn country so gosh darn much.