Saturday, May 30, 2015

How MSNBC Can Get Its Groove Back


Of course, the obvious answer is to sack hacks like Squint and the Meat Puppet...embarrassments like Al Sharpton...and excruciating Chuck Todd-wannabe Steve Kornacki...and replaced them with interesting, intelligent people.  

But that's never going to happen for reasons no one inside the family will ever discuss.

So how about this?

Today -- right now -- announce that every Republican candidate for president who does not make the cut for Roger Ailes' Cattle Auction will be invited to participate in an actual counter-programmed debate on MSNBC.  The MSNBC debate will be held the same night as the Roger Ailes' Cattle Auction (talk to your demographers about whether programming it immediately before, during or immediately after would be most effective) will be moderated by Chris Hayes, Rachael Maddow and Joy Ann Reid and will feature real-time fact checking of every assertion-of-fact every candidate makes.

You're welcome.



Friday, May 29, 2015

Kathleen Parker In The Forbidden Zone



If I were forced to categorize Kathleen Parker's writing, I would charitably describe as Peggy Noonan hand-me-downs.  Except for that one time when Ms. Parker (as I once wrote) --
...achieved brief fame outside the wingnut Thunderdome a few years ago when, after an entire career spent lobbing red meat to violently insane bitey-bitey Conservative zombies, was suddenly and hilariously shocked!shocked! to discover after a less-than-supporting column about Sarah Palin that her readers were not just violently insane bitey-bitey Conservative zombies, but violently insane bitey-bitey Conservative zombies who super-duper luuurved them some Sarah Palin...
-- reliably behind the fence-line of the wingnut-welfare paddock, saying the right idiotic things about whom or whatever the Right is demonizing this week.

So when she decided to pound on Bill Kristol, well, I'll give* her some credit for that.  Sure, she's a decade too late and, sure, by virtue of Mr. Kristol's inexplicable indestructibility bagging on him is the most risk-free form of counting coup imaginable.

Still, it's heartening to see that, once every seven years or so, someone at the wingnut welfare middle-management trough will risk muttering something ungood under their breath:
Parker: Being Bill Kristol

Kathleen Parker 6:25 p.m. EDT May 27, 2015

One can understand why The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol would try to nullify Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, but smearing all baby boomers in the process seems a stretch of veracity in the service of a blank page.

In the June 1 issue of the conservative magazine he co-founded, Kristol writes that we’ve had enough already with boomer presidents. They’re all a bunch of losers, he says in so many words, causing exactly no one to lose sleep.

I don’t usually single out other commentators, but I’m making an exception — not because I’m a woman, or a boomer, or a Hillary Clinton supporter (though Kristol makes me want to be one), but because despite being wrong about most everything, he remains an influential voice in politics.
...
This made the Jonah Goldberg over at America's White Supremacist Journal of Record cranky enough to put on his cranky pants:
Parker goes on with any number of psycho-babbly potshots and easy point-scoring. Kristol opened himself up to some of it by lapsing into the shorthand of generational stereotyping. But I am at a loss as to why anyone would get so bent out of shape about the badmouthing of their generation (Go ahead and dump all over Generation X, I won’t care one bit). One sees this all the time with young people who’ve come to invest vast amounts of their self-esteem in their age. But it’s kind of sad to see in Baby Boomers.
...

It’s not clear to me that Kristol is the one with the long-simmering issues here.
So there's that.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, right where the story should have taken off, it wandered down a side road and died by a dumpster.

You see, the story, Ms. Parker, is not to be found in the details of Mr. Kristol's latest crimes against history, factual reality, and common decency.  These days, those crimes are three-for-a-dollar:
Basically, Kristol posits that the past three presidents — all boomers — were “indulged” do-nothings and part of a generation who only “aspire to the appropriate attitude and affect, and seek the suitable sense and sensibility.”

Poor guy. Who’s he hanging with? And should we tell him he’s a baby boomer, too? Kristol, 62, snuggles his self-loathing like a blankie.
The story, Ms. Parker, is the continued existence of Bill Kristol himself.  Like a cockroach made of neutronium, it appears that nothing of this world can put a dent in his career "despite being wrong about most everything".

Doesn't that intrigue you, Ms. Parker?  Doesn't that stir some glimmer of long-dormant journalistic curiosity?  Because Bloody Bill Kristol's continued and completely unwarranted presence in the public eye can only be the result of decision being taken by very powerful people at major teevee networks and newspapers.

Who is taking those decision?  Why?  What do they tell their friends when that smirking ghoul appears on camera for the umpteenth time because of the choices they made?  What hold does he have over them?  What unspoken debt are they repaying to the detriment of the commonweal they are supposed to serve?  To what club or cult or cabal do they all belong that makes them so cravenly beholden to such an obviously malignant troll?

There are millions of us out here in Real Murrica who would love the answer to that question, but who can also deduce that since propping up the credibility of monsters like Bill Kristol year after year after year must require such a vast, coordinated and well-financed confederacy of collaborators that no journalist who values their paycheck will ever go poking around in this forbidden zone.

*Thanks for the catch

Professional Left Podcast #286

ProfessionalLeft

“God is a comedian playing to an audience that is too afraid to laugh.”
-- Voltaire, writer


Links:


Moloch Is Hungry



Because they were never broken and flogged from the company of civilized humans, because they were never stripped of their right to ever again blat their martial nonsense in public without being buried under a hail of rotten vegetables -- because the entire Mainstream Media jettisoned any last pretense of being on the side of the public good in order to link arms and protect them at all costs -- American Neocons are still out there.


The Fatal Flaw in Obama’s Dealings With Iran
Taking a collaborative approach to negotiating with bad actors always turns out badly. Better to coerce them.

By DOUGLAS J. FEITH
March 10, 2015 7:06 p.m. ET
Still being solicited for their opinions:
Richard Perle Really Doesn't Care What Jeb Bush Thinks Of The Iraq War Vote Today
Posted: 05/15/2015 2:28 pm EDT Updated: 05/15/2015 5:59 pm EDT

And still demanding that other people's children be fed into the abattoir of their imperial fantasies:
The Many Wars of Fred Hiatt: Mongering for the New Millennium 
...Because of the last war for which Fred Hiatt shook his moneymaker, the influence that the United States can bring to bear on centuries-old internal conflicts in Iraq is slightly less than that wielded at the moment by the Carolina League. Our aid makes us one friend and makes for that friend a hundred enemies.
The problem is that Mr. Obama has offered only halfhearted support for his strategy. While 3,000 U.S. trainers and other support troops are now in Iraq, they are not allowed to accompany Iraqi forces to the front lines or identify targets for airstrikes—crucial tasks that proved decisive when the United States helped local forces overthrow the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
First of all, Afghanistan is not yet quite secured, even for Afghans. Second, OK, Fred, sending someone's kid to accompany Iraqi forces to the front lines is putting them at risk, and a pretty fair tripwire for a large scale intervention down the line. (See: War, Vietnam The). The only thing the Washington Post editorial board wants to kill more than a few thousand brown people is Social Security. What a weird place that must be.
If I thought it would do any good, I would remind Fred Hiatt of the words of the Imbecile He Backed To The Hilt Back in 2004 (from the first Presidential debate, September 30, 2004):
Bush: Let me first tell you that the best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job.

And that's what we're doing. We've got 100,000 trained now, 125,000 by the end of this year, 200,000 by the end of next year. That is the best way. We'll never succeed in Iraq if the Iraqi citizens do not want to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves. I believe they want to. Prime Minister Allawi believes they want to.

And so the best indication about when we can bring our troops home -- which I really want to do, but I don't want to do so for the sake of bringing them home; I want to do so because we've achieved an objective -- is to see the Iraqis perform and to see the Iraqis step up and take responsibility.

Bush:  ...a free Iraq is going to make this world a more peaceful place.

Bush: ...And I'm optimistic. See, I think you can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. I'm optimistic we'll achieve -- I know we won't achieve if we send mixed signals. I know we're not going to achieve our objective if we send mixed signals to our troops, our friends, the Iraqi citizens.

We've got a plan in place. The plan says there will be elections in January, and there will be. The plan says we'll train Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard work, and we are.

Bush: There are 100,000 troops trained, police, guard, special units, border patrol. There's going to be 125,000 trained by the end of this year. Yes, we're getting the job done. It's hard work. Everybody knows it's hard work, because there's a determined enemy that's trying to defeat us.

Bush: ...You can't change the dynamics on the ground if you've criticized the brave leader of Iraq.  One of his campaign people alleged that Prime Minister Allawi was like a puppet. That's no way to treat somebody who's courageous and brave, that is trying to lead his country forward.
I invite Fred or any other WaPo employee to revisit just a few of the President Cheney's grand promises about the glorious future of Iraq here: "Ten Years Later: The Seven Nation Army of George W. Bush"

Still, I an kinda surprised that no one at the WaPo seems to remember anything about Dubya's Operation Endless Clusterfuck.

After all, it was in all the papers.

David Brooks Finally Goes Full Chauncey Gardner



The Small, Happy Lif
A few weeks ago, I asked readers to send in essays describing their purpose in life and how they found it. A few thousand submitted contributions, and many essays are online. I’ll write more about the lessons they shared in the weeks ahead, but one common theme surprised me.

I expected most contributors would follow the commencement-speech clich├ęs of our high-achieving culture: dream big; set ambitious goals; try to change the world. In fact, a surprising number of people found their purpose by going the other way, by pursuing the small, happy life.
...

Hans Pitsch wrote: “At age 85, the question of meaning in my life is urgent. The question of the purpose of my life is another matter. World War II and life in general have taught me that outcomes from our actions or inactions are often totally unpredictable and random.”

He adds, “I am thankful to be alive. I have a responsibility to myself and those around me to give meaning to my life from day to day. I enjoy my family (not all of them) and the shrinking number of old friends. You use the term ‘organizing frame’ in one’s life. I am not sure if I want to be framed by an organizing principle, but if there is one thing that keeps me focused, it’s the garden. Lots of plants died during the harsh winter, but, amazingly, the clematises and the roses are back, and lettuce, spinach and tomatoes are thriving in the new greenhouse. The weeping cherry tree in front of the house succumbed to old age. I still have to plant a new tree this year.” 
This scale of purpose is not for everyone, but there is something beautiful and concrete and well-proportioned about tending that size of a garden.
I can't wait until Mr. Brooks is called into advise President Rubio on Economic Policy
As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. 
And all will be well.
In the garden.
Also bomb the fuck out of Iraq.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Shoutycrackers Idiot Put On Teevee Again Because Reasons


The minute you put a bile-spewing gorgon like Pam Geller on teevee you loan her the credibility of your enterprise.  The fact of her presence on your air confirms her worthiness to be there,

The minute you sit down across from a human dumpster fire like Pam Geller to "debate" her you have already lost.  The fact of your presence across from her confirms that her position merits such a debate.

The cure for moral disease-vectors like Pam Geller is to shun them.  Never give them your platform.  Never grant their madness the dignity of your consideration.  Let them rave their tedious lunacy on public transit like every other unbalanced bug-eyed Conspiracerian who knows the Terrible Secret Behind It All!

But our media does not shun these people and by-and-large our public figures do not show the grace and good sense of walking out when creatures like Pam Gellar walk in.   And no one inside Media, Inc. has yet broken faith with their fellow collaborators to tell us poor rube out here in the Heartland can figure out why.

Today CNN lost.

Chris Cuomo lost.

And the forces of darkness were handed another easy lay-up.

See also, "Coulter, Ann"


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Great Project Continues, Ctd.


And like that, he's gone.

David Brooks has a new book for sale.

You can buy it everywhere.

It's a best-seller, which he is promoting on the kind of book tour almost no author on Earth gets anymore; the kind of worldwide publicity blitz which Media, Inc. would normally reserve for a new book of the Bible.

And because David Brooks is a Very Serious Person who has written an Important Book, eventually The New Yorker would have to write a book review.

I don't care about Mr. Brooks' new books and on most days I don't give The New Yorker a second thought, but here (I sez to myself) is an interesting opportunity to watch how Mr. Brooks' Great Project is progressing.  Because in order for Ms. Rebecca Mead to write anything like an honest review of Mr. Brooks' book using the following thesis --
"David Brooks’s Search for Meaning"
-- she would immediately have to confront the vast and fetid swamp of Mr. Brooks' entire public record of being horribly, hypocritically wrong about virtually everything, and his relentless flogging of the snake oil of "Both Siderism" for the last decade as a conversational abortifacient (Guaranteed  99% successful in preventing people like David Brooks from being held accountable for being horribly, hypocritically wrong about virtually everything!)

So how would Ms. Rebecca Mead navigate these tricky waters?

Like so:
Brooks, who established a reputation for sometimes glib but often insightful cultural commentary with “Bobos in Paradise,” his 2000 best-seller, has more recently specialized in applying the latest in brain science and social psychology to larger questions of morality on the Op-Ed pages of the Times.
That is all any reader of Ms. Rebecca Mead's review will learn about Mr. Brooks qualifications to speak on the subject of character and morality.

Then we are off to the races:
It would be a hard-hearted critic who dismisses another writer’s sincere attempt at midlife self-examination, or his efforts at moral and ethical improvement. (That being said, Brooks does so, snarking at Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love.” “I am the only man ever to finish this book,” he writes, thereby insulting the author and more than ten million readers in one fell swoop.) There is something affecting in the diligence with which Brooks seeks a cure for his self-diagnosed shallowness by plumbing the depths of others, each of whom—while achieving greater fame and sometimes even greater fortune than that accrued by a successful newspaper columnist—did the hard work of scouring his own soul.
And so, in broad daylight and with the eager assistance of Media, Inc., the real David Brooks is hustled into an unmarked tomb along with the entire, sickening history of Modern Conservatism, never to be visited again except by angry, unemployed bloggers who no one listens to anyway,

And like that, he's gone.

Genre Writing


It's a dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn't understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It's a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer!
Like the fantasy or science fiction genre, success in writing in the political genre does not depend on whether or not what you are writing about is even remotely possible in the Real World, but instead relies on the writer's ability to manipulate the tropes of the genre.

Time travel paradoxes must be addressed in time travel stories one way or another, because readers would revolt if t'were otherwise, and dragons dominate the culture and history of Westeros because, for chrissake man, there have to be dragons:
Phyllis Eisenstein (1946-present) is an American science fiction and fantasy author. She is a friend of George R.R. Martin's. She had a big influence on A Song of Ice and Fire when, during the earliest period of Martin writing the series, she suggested to him that he include dragons and magic when he was more inclined to leave out the fantastical elements. A Storm of Swords is dedicated to her, as Martin thanks her for making him "put the dragons in".*
This rule not only applies to what a writer who wants to sell his or her stuff within a specific market should include in their stories, but quite often there are equally inelastic rules about subject matter which is verboten.  Fred Pohl reminisces:
...Kay Tarrant had come with the job. Her official description was secretary-assistant, but as John preferred to do most of his own typing, she spent most of her time copy-editing the manuscripts he bought (and those bought by his successor, Ben Bova, as well) to prepare them for the printer.

That was not necessarily an arduous job. John did not normally go in for the kind of lavishly creative editing that characterized, say, Horace Gold’s tenure at Galaxy (and infuriated so many of his contributors), and when John took a notion to rewrite sections of a particular story to make it more like John’s image of what it should have been, he did it himself.

But Kay Tarrant, too, had impulses that went beyond the simple correction of faulty grammar, spelling or punctuation. She hated — hated! — smut. And she devoted her life to erasing every trace of it from the magazine.

This, of course, had an effect on the corps of science-fiction writers, a sadly rowdy lot. The more troublesome ones initiated a contest to see who could get something bawdy past Kay Tarrant. Many of them tried. All saw their best inspirations slain on the copy desk until George O. Smith stepped up to the plate. He won when he got past Miss Tarrant’s eagle eye his definition of a tomcat as “a ball-bearing mousetrap.”
...
Which brings us around, in a rambly kind of way, to the genre of Very Serious political writing in America.  It is a genre which is decidedly fiction and for which there are apparently no lower-limits to the writing skills demanded by the marketplace.

It also comes with a couple of simple rules which you must follow if you want to actually make a living at it and not waste your time and talent on collecting piles of rejection notices high enough to ski from.

First Rule:  Anyone even slightly the Left of the Grand Nagus is a hippie-dippie pot-head refugee from Woodstock:
The Freakification of Bernie Sanders

Shoot me.

These weren't your everyday Americans who came out to support Bernie Sanders on Tuesday. The self-described democratic socialist kicked off his long-shot run for the White House in his adopted hometown of Burlington, a lakeside city full of characters who might not have passed the pre-selection process for Hillary Clinton's tour of round tables...In the afternoon, a "people's assembly" of hundreds of Sanders supporters gathered in City Hall Park, where dreadlocked guitarists played in the morning and patrons browsed at the nearby Hempest, which advertises itself as the largest organic hemp product store in the world.
I don't know Jonathan Topaz, nor do I know much about his work. His bio is that of a smart, shining young man out of the Ivy League with a pretty cool name, but this passage should be a career-killer. What, pray tell, young Jonathan, do "everyday Americans" look like? Perhaps like the Duggars of Springdale, Arkansas? The hayshaking Bible-banging cultists whom I saw gather in Iowa earlier this spring? Sheldon Adelson? But Jonathan should not bear the punishment alone. Every editor, sub-editor, and researcher who read this and didn't say, "Holy hell, this is some cheap bullshit right here. It's beneath even our standards!" also should find their careers taking on water...
Second Rule:  Every problem and conflict in the Universe from entropy to the Anglo-Zanzibar war was caused by the aforementioned hippies.  If no hippies are readily available, blame The Extremists on Both Sides and move on.
The Tired Old “Both Sides Getting More Extreme” Meme

In my recent book and elsewhere, I’ve noted that the meta-narrative Republicans were promoting—and much of the MSM was echoing—during the 2014 midterms was that the Great Big Moderate Adults of the GOP had gotten the crazy extremist Tea People under control, and were ready to govern in a serious way that Serious People could appreciate. An important sub-narrative to the completely phony Republican Shift to the Center was that Democrats were moving to the left so fast that they’d probably start singing the Internationale at party events before long.

A lot of people who don’t completely buy the GOP Shift to the Center are happy to promote the false equivalency classic of Everybody’s Polarizing at Exactly the Same Pace. But there’s one species of observers who are deeply invested in the Democratic Lurch to the Left meme: Republican “moderates” who spend a fair amount of time criticizing their zany brethren and need an excuse to reassume the Party Yoke when elections come around.

Peter Wehner is one such person, and so he pens the classic so’s-your-old-man-and-actually-maybe-your-old-man’s-worse op-ed for the New York Times. Ignoring the fact that most actual lefty Democrats think Barack Obama is too much like Bill Clinton, Wehner’s case almost entirely depends on contrasting the noble centrist Big Dog (who, of course, conservatives denounced as a godless socialist when he was actually in office) with the left-bent Obama.
...
In the last 100 years, (unless you count Scientology) fantasy and science fictions stories have done no harm to anyone and have been a source of wonder, entertainment and occasional wisdom to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

In the last 30 years, the Both Siderist genre has become the foundation stone on which our Elite Media has been built, has made a few people enormously wealthy, has provided undeserved employment to thousands of hacks, con men and professional rat-fuckers and has done incalculable damage to our democracy.

And while the present condition is dire and getting worse, I take some comfort in believing that, 100 years from now, people will still be reading and loving "The Lord of the Rings" and "A Canticle for Leibowitz" while the entire corpus of Both Siderist claptrap will either be dead and forgotten, or studied with incredulity by future historians:
In Search of Historic Bobo 


If you want to start a brawl in the media scholar faculty lounge at any major university, stick your head in the door and ask them to settle the question of the historical authenticity of "David Brooks" once and for all.  Then duck, because this is the subject which has most loudly and aggressively divided students of the so-called "Fucking Crazy Years"* of American political media for the last century.

Of course as every high-school student knows, almost all of the original digital and analog records of the Guild of Pundits during that period were destroyed during the Great Discontinuity -- the early 21st century's Elite media's last ditch effort to evade accountability for their crimes.  And what few fragments we do have from that time come down to us filtered through the fun-house mirrors of surviving backups of the "fuckingblogs".  

And yet such is the enduring fascination with the fallout from those terrible, lunatic "Fucking Crazy Years" that despite the paucity of first-hand evidence (or perhaps because of it) thousands of master's theses, doctoral dissertations, best-selling "histories", graphic novels, stage plays and dirty limericks have been written about the era.  

(Artist's rendering of "David Brooks" offering a ritual "Social Security" sacrifice 
at the Temple of St. Reagan)

And as the original events have been sifted and re-sifted by popular culture, fan fiction and hermeneutics, the academic world has more-or-less evenly divided itself into two, irreconcilable orthodoxies -- the Historical Brooks versus the Fictional Brooks -- each of which finds strong support for its own theory in the literature itself.

Based on the radically divergent accounts of writings attributed to him during a single decade, roughly half of all professional media historians -- The Historicals -- subscribe to theory that "David Brooks" in an amalgamation of several real but wildly different people. The other half -- The Fictionals -- maintain that since so much of what he was alleged to have written was so obviously false and absurd, "David Brooks" had to be a literary contrivance: something analogous to Poe's nameless recounter of "The Telltale Heart" or Greta Van Sustern -- a fictional narrator whose own pathological unreliability is integral to the story...


*  Full disclosure:  Phyllis is a pal of mine.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Flash Back: 10 Years Ago



Remember how Republicans celebrated the Memorial Day weekend a decade ago by lining up behind George W. Bush's attempt to use the "political capital" he had collected in the 2004 election as kindling to set fire to the Social Security system?

From the late Steven Gilliard:

The Social Security doom train


Backers of Bush Plan Cite Public Awareness of System's Woes

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 30, 2005; Page A04

President Bush's congressional allies on Social Security are limping into the week-long Memorial Day recess, battered by public opinion polls yet hopeful that a rising awareness of Social Security's long-run financing problems will propel a legislative solution.
But with just 49 legislative days left before Congress's planned adjournment, the odds are still against Bush securing the centerpiece of his domestic agenda, Republican lawmakers concede.

"I don't know if we can get it done this year," said Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Fla.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee. "I don't think you could get a third of the Congress to vote for any one plan at this point."

"They've made slight progress," said Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.), a moderate, "maybe 'slight' being the key word."

Social Security was supposed to be the focal point of the Bush domestic agenda this year, but passage of a plan to secure its long-term financing and add private investment accounts has grown more complicated in recent weeks as Republicans appear increasingly willing to challenge the White House on issues including expanded stem cell research and the reimportation of prescription drugs.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Washington is exactly where Bush strategists thought it would be right now on Social Security, with a rising awareness of the system's problems and Congress entering a summertime legislative push.
Duffy pointed to poll numbers showing an increasing percentage of the population identifying Social Security's finances as a growing problem. But those same polls show the public strongly against Bush's proposals and highly critical of his handling of the issue. If anything, public opposition appears to be hardening. The senior lobby AARP has gained nearly 400,000 members -- 20 percent more than it expected -- since the beginning of the year, when it launched its campaign to sink the Bush plan, said AARP spokeswoman Christine M. Donohoo.

When Congress returns next Monday, the fate of Social Security restructuring will be in the hands of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, not the White House. Moderate Republicans are convinced that Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) will stitch together a large package of savings incentives, private pension changes and tax breaks for long-term health care that will be popular enough to win majority support for more controversial benefit cuts that will secure Social Security's financial future. If necessary, they say, Thomas will jettison the central plank of Bush's plan, private investment accounts financed out of the existing payroll tax.

Thomas's package could put intolerable pressure on Democrats to break with their leadership and come to the negotiating table, said Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), another committee member. Already, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa has suggested that organized labor should not stand in the way of dialogue on Social Security changes, and two Democrats -- Reps. Robert Wexler (Fla.) and James P. Moran Jr. (Va.) -- unveiled their own Social Security plan last month. "I just want to issue a clarion call to Democrats: Get ready, because Bill Thomas will ultimately deliver a product that most mainstreamers in the U.S.A. will find compelling," Foley said.
Why? There is no deal Bush can accept which will past muster with the Dems. Notice the contradiction: public opposition is hardening, while the Dems will face "intolerable" pressure to break with their leadership.

Really? Where is this pressure going to come from? I mean, I wouldn't take Mark Foley all that seriously. He still denies having a boyfriend.

They are planning to cut benefits.This is going to scare old people shitless. Why would the Dems feel the need to go along with a benefits cut? Moran and Wexler got their wrists slapped and ignored. The GOP has no good way to sell benefit cuts.

Here's the deal: Bill Thomas is going to propose cutting social security benefits. Once that becomes the issue, the GOP should plan on losing the House. Because once you dump private investment, you just have benefit cuts. Who the hell is going to support benefit cuts? You can gussie it up any way you choose, but it's a benefits cut.

The best thing in the world is to be able to ride this issue into the 2006 election cycle. Because even in red diistricts, you will be able to elect people to save social security. Instead of realizing this is a failed plan, they want to ride it to defeat. I say spur them on.
And why exactly did we hafta get rid of Social Security immediately?

Because after just four years in the hands of the Bush Crime Family, the budget surpluses which Bill Clinton had left behind had been magically transformed into deficits as far as the eye could see.

Which is weird, because as those of us who still cling to the increasingly fugitive notion that the past is something to be engaged as grouchy mentor (and not poisoned and buried in an unmarked grave) remember,  just four years before President George W. Bush tried to justify bulldozing Social Security because of those terrible deficits...

...America's Godfather of Humility had written very clearly and vividly that Social Security going to be just fine, that deficits would never return, and that people who said otherwise were brainless, self-destructive idiots and demagogues.

From David Brooks in 2001 -- before he jettisoned the "Liberals are to Blame" Big Lie for the "Both Sides are to Blame" Big Lie -- on those Stupid Liberals, who cooked up some crazy "brainless, self-destructive" fantasy that Bush Administration policies were about to wipe out the Clinton surplus, run up a gargantuan deficit and put Social Security under the gun (emphasis added):
The New Stupid Party

LONG AGO, the Republican party was nicknamed the Stupid Party, and at times Republicans have done their best to live up to the label. But after the past week, it is perhaps time to acknowledge that when it comes to brainless, self-destructive behavior, the Democratic party has achieved a level of excellence that will be unsurpassed in our lifetime.

Last week the Congressional Budget Office came out with a budget forecast. The report immediately got submerged in a chatterstorm about whether Congress or the White House would dip into something called the Social Security trust fund, but the essential facts are these: The CBO economists estimated that the federal government will run a surplus of about $150 billion in 2001. That’s a lower surplus than the CBO estimated a few months ago, before the economic slowdown, the Bush tax cut, and the recent congressional spending splurge. But even in these adverse circumstances, the surplus is still projected to grow to about $200 billion a year in 2004 and close to $300 billion a year by 2006.

The Democratic party proceeded to work itself up into a collective aneurysm. Dick Gephardt—who, when given the chance to play the demagogue, never goes halfway—said that the United States now faces "an alarming fiscal crisis." Democratic national chairman Terry McAuliffe said on Face the Nation that it had taken Bill Clinton eight years to build up the surplus, but Bush was able to "blow it in eight months." Other Democrats rose up en masse to declare that the Bush administration was going to bankrupt Social Security/the federal government/western civilization because the administration was going to have to "raid the Social Security trust fund."
And here is Mr. Brooks showing off his brilliant command of post-causality economics (March 2001):
Yes, There Is a New Economy

Thanks to once-in-a lifetime productivity gains, Bush's plans are easily affordable
MAR 19, 2001

...
This year's tax and budget debate really comes down to one essential question: Is the money going to be there? The Congressional Budget Office projects surpluses of about $ 5.6 trillion over the next 10 years. The Republicans insist that those projections are conservative, so the government can afford to return $ 1.6 trillion to the taxpayers and still have money left over for Social Security, Medicare, and an $ 800 billion contingency fund. The Democrats cry that projections are notoriously inaccurate, that the tax cuts will blow a hole in the budget, and that the Bush administration's risky scheme (which sailed through the House last week) would cast us back into the days of piling debt.
...
...even if today's productivity improvements are only on the scale of, say, the improvements our economy saw after World War II, we may be in for a long and sunny ride. There is a rough historical pattern here. A new technology is invented. It takes a long time before people figure out how to use it. The electric motor was invented in the 1880s, but it didn't transform factories until the 1920s, economist Paul David has noted. Once the technology is fully deployed, however, there are decades of positive results. Daniel Sichel of the Federal Reserve points to previous technology-driven surges that lasted 10 and 25 years. That suggests we may still be near the beginning of this particular period of bounty.

If we are, an occasional period of slower growth or even a recession may occur, but the U.S. economy is fundamentally strong, and both laymen and legislators have good reasons to believe it will remain strong for many years. Industrial productivity is surging. Americans are not only the hardest working people on earth (the average American works about 10 weeks a year more than the average European) but also the most productive workers -- by far. If you measure value added per hour worked, Americans do about 20 percent better than Germans and the French, and 40 percent better than the Japanese.

In other words, if you wade through the economic literature, it's hard not to agree with the Cleveland Fed's Jerry Jordan: We are living at a once-in-a-generation moment of economic opportunity. As productivity grows, the economy will grow. As the economy grows, revenues will grow, maybe beyond what the CBO projects. The real question about the Bush tax cuts, then, is not, Can we afford them? The real question is, Why are they so small?

Sunday Morning Comin' Down


The Yeomen.

I've been running this "Sunday Morning" feature, off and on, for over 10 years now.  I have no insider contacts feeding me tidbits from teevee's executive country, and no disgruntled former print media employees tell me tales out of school.   I see what anyone else can see when it's broadcast, and read what anyone else can read when it's published, which every Sunday comes pouring out of the maw of the Villager Noise Machine like a breach in a Washington D.C.-sized waste water settling tank.

And while I watch and listen to the limits of my time and temper, anyone working this trade is forever indebted to the indispensable Heather, Karoli, Nicole Belle and the rest of the happy warriors at Crooks and Liars.  And since this weekend was mostly John McCain reruns ("CBS Helps John McCain Celebrate Memorial Day With Call For Ground Troops In Iraq") and lighter than average on the heavy crazy (thanks, Monaco Grand Prix!), here is a reminder that some things never change.

But first, this pair of from John McCain vs. John McCain tweets:

And now, from me in 2008:
Holy Joe and Saint John Wish Us All



A “Happy Surgeversary”. (Holy Joe shown above explaining to a Dirty Skeptical Hippy exactly How To Surge, and why it is working just awesomely!)  [Update: Original video was zapped by YouTube]

From today’s Wall Street Journal, America’s Antique Mavewick and his War Bride
The Surge Worked
By JOHN MCCAIN and JOE LIEBERMAN
January 10, 2008; Page A15

It was exactly one year ago tonight, in a televised address to the nation, that President George W. Bush announced his fateful decision to change course in Iraq, and to send five additional U.S. combat brigades there as part of a new counterinsurgency strategy and under the command of a new general, David Petraeus.

At the time of its announcement, the so-called surge was met with deep skepticism by many Americans -- and understandably so.

After years of mismanagement of the war, many people had grave doubts about whether success in Iraq was possible. In Congress, opposition to the surge from antiwar members was swift and severe. They insisted that Iraq was already "lost," and that there was nothing left to do but accept our defeat and retreat.

In fact, they could not have been more wrong. And had we heeded their calls for retreat, Iraq today would be a country in chaos: a failed state in the heart of the Middle East, overrun by al Qaeda and Iran.

Instead, conditions in that country have been utterly transformed from those of a year ago, as a consequence of the surge.
Except “Surges” don't have anniversaries, do they?

But occupations and escalations do.

The endless, agonizing, corrupting, bankrupting occupation of an oil reserve nation we should not be in in the first place is all these clowns have to offer you. Because you can look the entire paean to tactical, military success up one side and down the other and find the phrase “political progress” only once.

And we learn that it “has been slow”.

Really? How about virtually non-existent?

And how about this “political progress” that merits only one, brief aside is the Entire God Damned Point of executing a Surge in the first place?

How about your fucking Surge is breaking the piggy bank to buy us a new suit of Sunday Go To Meetin’ clothes for a trip to a church that will never be built.

It is pissing away the rent money on a new car to drive us to a town that does not exist.

It is trading our last, few health-care/infrastructure/new school pfennigs for tickets to a play that will never be written, at a theater that will never be created, with actors that will never show up.

Because stripped of the purdy words, Conservative analysis of their President’s Iraqi Debacle is simply this:
  1. Surge make violence go down.
  2. Down good.
  3. Yay!
That’s it.

They never finish a fucking thought; they get two turns around the mental block, shut down completely and shout down anyone who dares to ask “OK, now what?” Zero cognitive function beyond that point because the abyss that awaits them around the next corner is so utterly terrifying.

That the Surge was our very last handful of Magic Beans; trading more American lives and blood to water a Miraculous Beanstalk that Iraq would climb up, up, up to the sky, past the clouds and into to a pluralistic, tolerant, stable, peaceful American client-state where the streets are paved with Golden Eggs, and lined with grateful supplicants.

Which was never going to happen, and which nothing about the elemental political dynamics in and around Iraq in the last year has changed.

Shit, if you charged enough American troops and armor into the Fourth Circle of Hell, I am absolutely certain they could drive Plutus and his minions underground and force the damned to stop crushing each other with moneybags.

No doubt about it.

And I am equally certain that once those troops left, Plutus would pop right back up again and the tormenting of the damned would resume.

Why?

Because it’s Hell, and a 20,000 or 200,000 or a million American boots are never going alter its fundamental character unless they stay there for Eternity.

Which certainly seems to be the Republican plan.

And so today brings us around to the first anniversary of the Surge; an anniversary that tradition dictates be remembered with Paper.

So to Holy Joe and Saint John I give the gift of Paper:
Paper …for the paper tiger we have become everywhere else in the world thanks to the Dubya Administration locking up virtually all of our military assets in their Iraq quagmire.

Paper …for the material which is of greater value than the words we print on it thanks to our Dear Leader’ decision to spend seven years pissing away out international reputation.

Paper …as in the ocean of rapidly collapsing fiat money our entire economy now floats atop.

Paper …as is bad paper. As in the checks we have kited all over the world to some very, very bad people to keep paying for our filthy habits and obscene wars.

Paper….as in a certain Downing Street Memo; that still-tragically-relevant smoking-gun evidence of impeachable High Crimes, quietly hammered down the Memory Hole by our lackey press. No hearings. No testimony. An act of outright treason caught on paper, now rendered as quaint and forgotten as phrenology.

Because impeachment is only on the table when Democrats are in the White House.

Paper …as in funky Olde Timey Paper. Like our Bill of Rights. Our Constitution. Writs of habeas corpus. International treaties. All now debased, devalued and used daily and publicly as ass paper by an Administration that sincerely believes the rule of law should be drugged, gagged, tossed in the basement and replaced by the Rule By Neocon Whimsy.

And finally Paper as is “on paper”. Which is the only place on Earth the Fictional Iraqi Government actually exists.