Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Possibly The Most Stunningly Delusional Speech

I have ever seen anyone give.

Mind you, it would make for a pleasant, forgettable sermon coming from, say, a pastor or a rabbi.  But when you slip on the Google Glass of memory and overlay his TED Talk with Mr. Brooks' long, loathsome, unpaid butcher's bill of fraud, revisionist claptrap, obsessive Fake Centrism, hippie-punching and just plain getting-every-fucking-thing-wrong, it is genuinely unnerving how radically Mr. Brooks has dissociated himself from his own past and his own words.

But the creepiest part?   Not a single member of our mainstream media ever dares to mention that he is doing this.

And that is power.

Trouble With The Curve


From Reason Magazine today:
David Brooks Vying for Ellsworth Toohey's Column Space in the Banner With a Passover Song of Praise for Compulsion 
Brian Doherty|Apr. 15, 2014 12:02 pm...
From me in a 2010 post about David Brooks:
Dear New York Times,

I know a guy, can write you da sweetest little algorithm you ever seen. Twice a week, it'll poop out identical, perfect, steaming, 800-word-long logs guaranteed indistinguishable from the run-down, played out, vanilla-infused-excreta you're slinging now -- forever -- and for about 1/10,000th the cost.

If you order in the next 24 hours and mention offer code "Ellsworth Toohey" --
"Don’t set out to raze all shrines—you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity, and the shrines are razed."
-- I can get him to throw in a subroutine that will periodically crap out a random, gushy paean to Ronald Reagan, John Thune, Scooter Libby or any of two dozen other bilaterally symmetrical Conservative Authoritarian Daddy figures of your choice, no extra charge.

Again in 2011
Tomorrow, next month, next year Ellsworth Monkton Bobo will still be there collecting princely sums for filling the world with his soft, mealy, razor-concealing road-apples of common wisdom.

And just how is that possible?

Because Bobo is a very senior member of a very special, very selective union -- Pundits Local 183.

A union whose chief innovation was boldly and irrevocably severing all "relationship between excellence and reward" years and years ago.
"Peter, you’ve heard all this. You’ve seen me practising it for ten years. You see it being practised all over the world. Why are you disgusted ? You have no right to sit there and stare at me with the virtuous superiority of being shocked. You’re in on it. You’ve taken your share and you’ve got to go along. You’re afraid to see where it’s leading. I’m not. I’ll tell you.

Judgement, Peter ! Not judgement, but public polls. An average drawn upon zeroes – since no individuality will be permitted. A world with its motor cut off and a single heart, pumped by hand. My hand – and the hands of a few, a very few other men like me. Those who know what makes you tick – you great, wonderful average, you who have not risen in fury when we called you the average, the little, the common, you who’ve liked and accepted these names. You’ll sit enthroned and enshrined, you, the little people, the absolute ruler to make all past rulers squirm with envy, the absolute, the unlimited, God and Prophet and King combined. Vox populi. The average, the common, the general.
A union whose members haven't missed a meal since.

And again in 2011
Brooks: We're sinful! And ignorant!

Noonan: And not humble enough.

And then, lacking anything else to say or do, they broke into song:

Load up on guns and
Fox Family
Bring your friends

It's fun to lose
And to pretend

She's over bored

And self assured

Oh no, I know
A dirty word

With the lights out

it's less dangerous

Here we are now
Entertain us

I feel stupid
and contagious

Here we are now

Entertain us

A mulatto

An albino

A mosquito

My Libido

Brooks: I'm for a quota system. If you talk to a Conservative, talk to a Liberal. If you read a Liberal, you should read a Conservative. If you find yourself feeling good, hit yourself in the wrist with a hammer. If you notice you're getting too smart, huff some paint until Tom Friedman starts to sound like Stephen Hawkings. Are you above average height? How about hacking off a few obtruding inches if leg bone?

And if you've gotten pretty much everything wrong for the past few decades, considered getting a permanent column in the New York Times to balance it out.

David Brooks may not be Peggy Noonan, but he sure as shit is the perfect Centrist-Mediocrity-as-Virtue love child of Diana Moon Glampers.
and Ellsworth Toohey:

Our little group has always been

And always will until the end

Hello, hello, hello, hello, how low?
Hello, hello, hello, hello, how low?
Hello, hello, hello, hello, how low? 
I spend most of my writing time at a keyboard, in front of a screen, alone, tap-tap-tapping away.  Sprinting  along, checking what I need to check to finish the next thing (or what I need to half-finish the dozen under-construction posts I always have strewn around the workshop in various states of unreadiness) hitting "publish" and moving on, never sure if I am behind a crowd, ahead of a crowd,  in the thick of a crowd, or if I've run my way down a cow path that has led to another planet altogether.

Since I don't report to anyone and have no standards but the ones I set for myself, I don't really give it a lot of though, but every now and then I stop and look around catch sight of others who do report to other people and are catching up with where I was a long time ago.

And I smile for a second.

And then I get back on the road.

The Dread Pirate Draper

Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. He took me to his cabin and he told me his secret. 'I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts' he said. 'My name is Ryan; I inherited the ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from is not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia.'
-- The Princess Bride

Whoever wears the uniform is the man.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why It Is Impossible To Communicate With Conservatives, Ctd

Exhibit #187,656:  Ron Christie --
Cynical Race-Baiting Will Fail to Save the Democrats

...the Democrats marked the 50th anniversary of passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 not by hailing the progress we have made as a nation but by resorting to the despicable act of accusing their political opponents of racism to preserve their hold on power in Washington, D.C. Late last week in these pages, I discussed how lack of political civility is destroying the ability of the political process to function in our nation’s Capitol.

Less than a week has passed since that post and it appears clear, now more than ever, that the men and women who call themselves leaders of the Democrat Party will stop at nothing to consolidate their perks and power while they tear the social fabric of our country apart in the process by smearing Republicans as being racist.

This November I predict the American voters will render judgment on Democrat attempts to divide the country on racial lines in a cynical attempt to cling to power. We were promised by Democrats years ago that they would heal old wounds and bring us closer together. By seeking to exploit our ugly past with racial bigotry for political advantage, Democrats should be prepared to have their proverbial chickens come home to roost—the American people are tired of craven political leaders who seek to divide us...
Long ago Conservatism degenerated into little more than a mob of gibbering, always-wrong-but-never-in-doubt lunatics running in circles with their fingers in their ears shrieking "I know you are but what am I!  I know you are but what am I!" at exactly the same time our media decided that it wasn't its job to report this fact.  Under any circumstances.  Ever.

But speaking for all Liberals everywhere, we don't care how many more times MSNBC props this muppet up in front of a camera and lets him run his mouth, we have given up pretending that there is any way for us to usefully interact with people as corrupt, self-deluded and mercenary as this.  Instead our limited time and energy could be more usefully spent making the professional lives of those who give trolls like Christie a platform in the first place unbearably unpleasant.

Also, it's the "Democratic Party" party you fucking child.

Congratulations to The Guardian and The Washington Post

On their Public Service Pulitzer prizes.

They broke a large and consequential story and it would have been nuts for the Pulitzer committee to overlook them.

Moochers of the Purple Sage

Now that Real Americans (tm)  have a new wingnut woobie to lather over, Brother Charles Pierce worries that one of these days the professional hysteria mongers of Right Wing Nut Job, Incorporated are gonna get somebody killed:
Over the weekend, Hannity, and a lot of someones just like him, were at it again.
This time, it concerned a Minutemannish crank in Nevada named Cliven Bundy, who had been grazing his cattle on federal land, and who had declined to pay the grazing fees for more than 20 years. A year ago, a federal judge told Bundy to stop grazing his cattle on the federal land. He ignored the judge as thoroughly as he had ignored the grazing fees. So the Bureau of Land Management started seizing his cattle. Which is about when everybody went crazy. In the interest of balance, here's the case for the other side; Ms. Loesch has been promoting the Bundy cause with conspicuous enthusiasm. Here's a less temperate view, in which Cliven Bundy is Crazy Horse.
As the invaluable Dave Neiwert points out, Bundy apparently has marinated himself in the various "Patriot" and Posse Comitatus ideologies -- the appeal to the local sheriff is the giveaway on the latter --  that have been blowing through the west since the Sagebrush Rebellion days of the late 1970's and early 1980's. (Basically, the philosophy is that these people can do pretty much anything they want on land that we all own in common. Life, or at least the rest of us, owe them a living.)
As we watch all the usual moon-faced anti-government lunatics twitchdance around the bonfire to the usual round of Wingnut Freakout Top 40 Hits brought to you by all the usual Conservative sedition-slingers, it is useful to remember that, 19 years ago, another moon-faced anti-government lunatic murdered 168 American citizens in the name of the Tree of Liberty! and Tyranny! and Freedumb! and all the rest of the usual Evil Government sewage you can once again hear roaring from the Hate Media Machine 24/7/365.

From me back in 2005:

First they came for the File Clerks

Then they came for the Family Planning Clinics. Posted by Hello

Then they came for the “activist” judges.

Happy Anniversary, Moderate Republicans!

It’s been 10 years to the day that Ultra Right Wing Hero First Class Timothy McVeigh murdered 168 Americans in your name.

After a decade of a booming, non-stop torrent of “Government Is Evil and Must Be Annihilated!” rhetoric vomiting out of the mouths of Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Jerry Falwell, Bob Doren...McVeigh decided to take them at their word...

...and you fucktards threw up your hands in horror at the blank, White, zombie, unremarkable face of tax-hatin’, Clinton-hatin’, government hatin’ Tim McVeigh and shouted, “Not Us!”

Shame, shame. To get your tax cuts you eagerly hiked your skirt up and let the Right Wing fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you...and then, when your Love Child showed up at your door, wrapped it bloody arms around you and said, “I wuuuv you Mommy!” you gave the poor thing the back of your hand?

Where’s all that sassy talk of “Personal Responsibility” now?

Sure it’s grotesque. Hell, we’ve been telling you that it’s downright terrifying for 15-20 years now. What do you expect? It takes after its Father...but it sure as shit has your eyes.

Now a decade is a long time. A VERY long time. Hell, whole governments come and go in intervals shorter than that, so one must assume that to be taken seriously, you've must have used the last decade to aggressively purge your party of the radical lunatics that found such a big, expensive Welcome Wagon basket waiting for them at GOP Central Command. That bigotry and aggressively ignorant Fundamentalism is no longer synonymous with “Republican”. So as a proffer of your good faith – that you really aren’t the$2 Blowjob Whore of the Right Wing – tell me...

...has Tom DeLay been banished yet?
Falwell shunned?
Has Limbaugh lost so many dittoheads that he has to sell used RVs to support his hillbilly heroin monkey?
Dobson’s gone?
Is Creationism buried under Homophobia on the ash-heap of history? And those that spout that hateful nonsense, laughingstocks?
Robertson and Wildmont, kicked to the curb?
Randall Terry has been disavowed?
And no one would ever, ever think to threaten, say, judges, if you disagree with them on a ruling here or there?

On April 20, 1995 it became unambiguously clear where the demagogues and swine were leading your party, and the terribly price tag came with it. You've had a decade to excise the cancer that you and only you allowed to grow inside your party, and you didn't do it. Instead you chose to water it. Feed it. Cultivate it. Harvest it.

You encouraged the carcenoma to blossom and metastasize and because you voluntarily chose to do this, you have accepted Tim McVeigh as your child.

And Eric Rudolph as your child.
And Randall Terry as your child.
And Fred Phelps as your child.
And Ann Coulter as your child.
And so many more. So many, many more.

You are obviously very proud of what your children have accomplished: if not, you would have acted otherwise.

So embrace them.

Your Mad Man / Game Of Thrones Crossover Post

(Original photo by Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

With an overall h/t to Heather, John, David and Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars for always getting the clips and up first and best!

This week on "David Gregory is an Awful, Awful Person"

On the subject of the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Gregory brought together two third-tier Republican  fingerpuppets who hung onto the "Obamacare is a failure!  Obamacare is the Death of the Republic!  Ermahgerd!" meme like grime death, one Democrat who wanted to talk facts and figures, and one Lady Tom Friedman who wanted to bypass all this jibber jabber because Smart Phones!

Mr. Gregory turned the same brain trust loose on the subject of the Republican's massive national campaign to suppress voter turnout, and guess what!   Those same two Republicans insisted that it was all pish and tosh and "identity politics" (translation: "Uppity black people don't know their damn place!"), the same Democrat wanted to talk about the factual reality, and Lady Tom Friedman wanted to skip over all this jibber jabber because in ten years everybody'll be voting on their Smart Phones!

Meanwhile, over on basic cable, Actual Tom Friedman was kinda glad about Putin and Ukraine.

Kinda hoped Putin starts blowing more shit up, 'cause maybe then  people will start talking about renewable energy and stuff!

No. Really. He said that, and no one brought him down with a tranquilizer gun and ran him back the quiet-room-with-no-doorknob and the five-point restraints from which he obviously escaped:
Friedman: Fareed, I'm going to ask you something. Would you think I'm a bad guy if I were hoping that Vladimir Putin turned off the gas to Europe? Because that's my secret hope, because I believe if Putin turns off the oil and gas to Europe right now, it would be the equivalent of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which is what launched the solar wind and efficiency industry.

We only got the first auto mileage standards after that. I think we are poised to take off. I hope you bought solar stocks last year, because if you did, they're all exploding. And I don't have to tell you about Tesla stock. We just need a little push. We just need Vladimir to do the right thing and turn the gas off. I'm happy to pay all the energy bills for the Ukraine because the impact it would have on the whole clean tech industry, which is poised to take off now, would be just like 1973. You go, Vlad. Give it to us.
Because face it, from within the clammy confines of Tommy's gargantuan ego

we're all just ants anyway.

And within the borders of our Beltway Media, no Neocon with money and connections is ever so categorically and catastrophically wrong

that he wont be given an infinite number of do-overs.

Elsewhere on basic cable, Huckadoodle name-checked every single asinine wingnut conspiracy theory extant because Jebus and Freedumb!

Republican Marsha Blackburn gave Plutarch's copyboy, Bob Schieffer, a thrilling report on the life of ladies in Opposite Land.

George Will continued to earn his keep as member of Roger Ailes' stable.

Professional Irrelevant Centrist Afterthought, Marc McKinnon (the one with the weird little ascot-like affectation)  explained how much love there is out there for the Bush Family among Republicans and other poor souls who have lost the ability to remember anything that happened after 1981.

So if you slept in, or went out, or watched a Rocky and Bullwinkle marathon, or read Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, or otherwise wisely avoided the Mouse Circus altogether, you missed nothing of consequence at all.

Also I have been reminded that I have let my ninth blogiversary slip right past me.

Apparently I have been crazy busy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

And Now The News For Greenwalds* -- UPDATE

No Greenwalds were arrested, "disappeared", tossed incommunicado into a lightless SuperMax hellhole for decades or in any way inconvenienced during a routine landing and debarkation at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport yesterday:
Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras return to U.S. for first time after breaking Snowden story
By Reuters
Friday, April 11, 2014 18:35 EDT 
“I really didn’t expect anything to happen, which is why we finally came,” Greenwald told reporters after embracing his partner, David Miranda, who had earlier said he was nervous as he waited for Greenwald to pass through airport security.
A spokesman for Greenwalds said he was glad no Greenwalds were detained, but declined to comment on whether or not Mr. Greenwald enjoyed his cab ride, liked the weather we're having, thought the Mets had a chance this year or had decided which of New York's many yummy restaurants to go to for lunch.

Yum.  Yum.

And now the news for Gellmans.

No Gellmans were arrested, "disappeared", tossed incommunicado into a lightless SuperMax hellholes for decades or otherwise in any way inconvenienced...

*h/t Monty Python


An Alert Reader noted that some people may not realize that one reason this development is of interest is that it so directly contradicts the story of Involuntary Exile due to Very Great Peril from Shadowy Government Forces which Mr. Greenwald was peddling just a couple of months ago.

Peddling so successfully that the great Wallace Shawn generously took his play to Brazil to stage it for Mr. Greenwald because he was given to understand:
...[Mr. Greenwald] was not able to return to the United States because of having received the NSA papers.
I'm glad Mr. Greenwald is once again among his family and friends.

I am also deeply confused about this Phantom Zone which some very prominent writers occupy in which it is considered unforgivably bad form to point out that some things they are saying today are 180 degrees in opposition to things they were saying just a little while ago.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Professional Left Podcast #227

"“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”

– Groucho Marx


Da' money goes here:

I Have Got To Figure Out A Way

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

To cash-in on the ersatz indignation of clueless halfwits before they devolve into gerbils and haz no moar munnies:

From Time Magazine:
Anti-Racism Activists on Colbert: We Will Protest This Until It Ends
Suey Park @suey_park Eunsong Kim @clepsydras April 10, 2014
The marginalization of other voices is now complete.

The cross-promotion of more white male celebrities prove it: The entertainment industry has perfected the development of white, cis, straight, male characters. The marginalization of “other voices” — except when those “others” are brought in only to aid in the cheap punch line of a joke — is complete. This is aggression that we do not have to accept. We will protest this until it ends.

Many dismissed the protest we undertook last month with #CancelColbert, a hashtag we set up in response to a blatantly racist Tweet about Asians from the Colbert show’s account...
There are those say the American manufacturing sector dead.

To those people I say, nonsense!  Our manufactured wingnut outrage factories are already running flat out, day and night, and the demand for this fine, Made-Up-In-America product just keeps growing!

Hail Hydra!

Lonely Conservative Space Robot Becomes Increasingly Dissociative -- UPDATE

Ever since he left Earth behind and began writing about the human condition from the near vacuum of interplanetary space, Mr. Brooks' communiques have gotten increasingly weird and despondent.

Also I assume there has been some really severe damage to his memory core, because it is impossible to reconcile the musing of the David Brooks who gleefully hopped on board the Iraq War bandwagon, the tax-cut bandwagon, the "Stimulus is a failure bandwagon", the "Bush is a Fucking Genius" bandwagon, the "Barack Obama isn't compromising enough" bandwagon, the "Hippies ruined everything" bandwagon and on and on and on...

...with the David Brooks who just wrote an entire column on "The Moral Power of Curiosity".

From out around the orbit of Jupiter, Mr. Brooks pings that a moral person should be curious about stuff and not just go along with the prevailing wisdom for the sake of money and prestige:
These people are content to possess information, but they don’t seek knowledge. Information is what you need to make money short term. Knowledge is the deeper understanding of how things work. It’s obtained only by long and inefficient study. It’s gained by those who set aside the profit motive and instead possess an intrinsic desire just to know.
Actually, I have heard tell that there once existed an entire tribe of people who "set aside the profit motive and instead possess an intrinsic desire just to know". I believe they were called journalists. But of course this was before my time so I cannot swear to it.

Mr. Brooks also wants us earthbound hominids to know that we should not not punish the people who nuked the global economy for money, but instead try to love-bomb them back into the drum circle of gated-suburban respectability that is Mr. Brooks' measure of all good things:
You can’t tame the desire for money with sermons. You can only counteract greed with some superior love, like the love of knowledge.

Third, if market-rigging is defeated, it won’t be by government regulators. It will be through a market innovation.
So there you have it. According to Brooks, if people are stealing on Wall Street we shouldn't look to try to have regulations and punishment, we should go after them with love. It will be interesting to see if Brooks shows the same attitude towards people's whose greed leads them to steal cars or burglarize houses.
 In space, no one can hear you scam.

UPDATE:  Mr. Brooks' plodding, relentless ridiculousness and complete immunity from accountability has driven Moral Hazard to resign.

It should also be noted that, in fact, the Evil Federal Government proved quite capable of policing with worst excesses of the market and preventing the global economy even without a sophisticated armory of love weapons at it's command.

Then, one day, some Very Serious People who Mr. Brooks admires greatly thought it would be a real keen idea to do away with all of those pesky "regulations" which had kept the economy from going tits-up at the hands of marauders since the Great Depression.

The rest, as they say, is history.

History about which history-major David Brooks is scrupulously oblivious.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Welch Watch

Jack Welch exists to answer the question: "What would Louie Gohmert be like with $750M dollars of walking around money?"

Hello, Dollar! *

"Atlas Shrugged: A Thousand Pages of Bad Science Fiction About Sock-Puppets Stabbing Strawmen with Tax Cuts."

-- driftglass
Oh lord:
Ayn Rand-Inspired Sci-Fi Musical The Anthem Sets World Premiere

Jason Gotay, Remy Zaken, and Randy Jones will lead the cast of the political piece.
By Hayley Levitt • Apr 8, 2014 • New York City

The Anthem, a sci-fi musical inspired by Ayn Rand's novella Anthem, will make its off-Broadway world premiere at Culture Project's Lynn Redgrave Theatre this May. Performances will begin May 20 in advance of an official May 29 opening...
On the one hand, Anthem is very bad, short science fiction (as opposed Atlas Shrugged, which is very bad, looong science-fiction).  So if very bad science fiction is like unto, say, shooting yourself in the foot, then turning very bad science fiction into a musical on purpose is like taking another, bigger bullet and sloooowly pounding it through your through your other foot with a ball peen hammer.

On the other hand, I want to write the lyrics for at least one of the tunes so much it hurts.

*Judges would have also accepted The Lyin' King and The Wealth Producers. What other musical parody names can you think of?  The ones that crack me up will be posted with attribution on the front page of this blog.

Song Of The Vagabonds

One version with vocals.

And an instrumental version by Art Tatum.