Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Games People Play

David Brooks is writing about his divorce again:
If you are like me you know a lot of relationships in which people haven’t managed this sort of transition well. Communication that was once honest and life-enhancing has become perverted — after a transition — by resentment, neediness or narcissism.
Or maybe about his former employer, Bloody Bill Kristol, whose profound influence on his career Mr. Brooks actively avoids mentioning:
We all know men and women who stalk ex-lovers online; people who bombard a friend with emails even though that friendship has evidently cooled; mentors who resent their former protégés when their emails are no longer instantly returned; people who post faux glam pictures on Instagram so they can “win the breakup” against their ex.
Or maybe it's about Bibi Netanyahu.  Or Barack Obama no longer returning his calls.  Or some coed.  Or...whatever.
Instant communication creates a new sort of challenge. How do you gracefully change your communication patterns when one person legitimately wants to step back or is entering another life phase?

The paradox is that the person doing the leaving controls the situation, but greater heroism is demanded of the one being left behind. The person left in the vapor trail is hurt and probably craves contact. It’s amazing how much pain there is when what was once intimate conversation turns into unnaturally casual banter, emotional distance or just a void.

The person left behind also probably thinks that the leaver is making a big mistake. She probably thinks that it’s stupid to leave or change the bond; that the other person is driven by selfishness, shortsightedness or popularity.

Yet if the whole transition is going to be managed with any dignity, the person being left has to swallow the pain and accept the decision.
It's 800 words of real estate on the op-ed page of the New York Times about breaking up being hard to do what with the Twitter and the Instagrams and the Tinder and such.

Go figure.

No One Could Have Predicted...

File under: Put not your faith in Internet Princes (from HuffPo):
[Ken] Silverstein described a work environment at First Look that was "anything but functional," with a flawed editing system and “epic managerial incompetence.” Amid the slew of firings, hirings, promotions and demotions and with little guidance or support from management, Silverstein said employees felt "lost."
He writes:
What I observed was that the Omidyar-led management could not complete the simplest tasks—approving budgets or hires—without months of internal debate and apparent anguish. The Intercept didn’t even begin publishing until last February. (We weren’t supposed to call it “Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept” because a lot of other people worked there, including me for a bit, but everyone knew Glenn was the anchor of the project.) After a pause ordered by editor in chief John Cook to address its internal dysfunction, the site relaunched in July with a good, complicated story about how the NSA and the FBI had been monitoring a few Muslim-Americans in the United States. Yet I saw how difficult the story was to birth for its chief editor, John Cook, and he didn’t end up lasting long—before quitting and returning to Gawker.
Silverstein called the demise of Taibbi's Racket the "end of my journalism dream." It was like watching Omidyar’s team "kill their second baby," he writes -- the company invested substantial money and resources only to fire Racket's entire staff two days before Thanksgiving. 
"The fact that First Look hired so many talented people to create Racket, spent more than a million dollars on it, and in the end fired everyone before Racket ever published a single story must stand as one of the greatest squanderings of money and leadership ineptitude in modern journalism," he wrote.
This has all been moved miles above above my pay grade, but even a punk ass blogger like me can manage to both feel bad that so much was spent on so little, and deeply amused that Team Radical Transparency has apparently taken a vow of corporate silence regarding the Big Story of the shitstorm of egos and incompetence that is raging through their very own, very expensive back yard.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

This Sunday, NBC's Neocon Reputation Rehabilitation Theater played host to the sole, surviving member of the Connecticut for Lieberman party, thus giving me a chance to run this graphic one more time.

And this one, because what the hell.

And an excuse to remind the .000000001% of this country that still reads the obsolete medium of "weblogs" how David Brooks -- America's leading Conservative intellectual -- used to described Mr. Lieberman back when he was barnstorming the country actively promoting a "McCain/Lieberman" Party as the solution to all that ails us:
There are plenty of team players in government who do whatever the leader says. There are too few difficult members, who have complicated minds, unusual perspectives, the toughness to withstand the party-line barrages and a practical interest in producing results.
Other than trolling Liberals and obeisance to AIPAC, there is no earthly reason to put Holy Joe on the teevee machine ever again.  Which, presumably, were reason enough for Chuck Todd to recharge the former Senator from Gilead's Joementum batteries, once more to tread the boards on the teevee machine.   Once more to say mean things about Democrats and polish Netanyahu's knob in public (h/t Amato at Crooks and Liars):

The Sunday shows are nothing but a wasteland of predictable puppetry and selective outrage, and I see no sign that any of that will change any time soon, however tint and tone of the landscape does change slightly with the season.  For example, all weekend long there was CPAC fallout everywhere, right, left and Both Siderist, on teevee, in print and on the radio (I heard bottomless well of wingnut hackery, Charles C. Johnson, interviewed as if he were not a straight-up fascist killbot on POTUS radio as I ran out to hunt and gather for the family last night.)

Later this year, you might want to remember the kind of wall-to-wall saturation coverage CPAC always gets from everyone in American media, including MSNBC's "Meet the Press Junior" (video preceded by terrible ad):

as Netroots Nation once again dies of loneliness, this time in the middle of the desert in the middle of the summer.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Meanwhile, Over In The Better Universe...

...Spock and Kirk infiltrate CPAC 2015 and destroy the Twitter Machine along with the Right's capacity to troll comment sections anywhere in known space.

Faced with the horror of having to fight for their stupid ideas for real, Kirk offers them a solution.

The best offer they will ever get.  Put an end to it.  Make peace.

Hannity: There can be no peace. Don't you see? We've admitted it to ourselves. We're a hateful assholes.  It's instinctive.

Kirk: All right. It's instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million hateful asshole years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're hateful assholes, but we're not going to be hateful assholes today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't be hateful assholes...today.

And For One, Golden Moment...

...calm logic overtook hysterical irrationality on the Internet.

Professional Left Podcast #273

Introduced once again by Kevin's video-for-the-ages
"Not only do I lie, I take real pleasure in lying, in the transmission of magic effects."
-- Ricky Jay, magician


From the Ministry of Stupid

This utterly predictable report:
Welcome to the Obamanet
The FCC snatches political control over more of the economy.

The Federal Communications Commission’s decision Thursday to regulate the Internet as a public utility is a depressing moment for American innovation and economic liberty. The FCC is grabbing political control over a vibrant market that until now has been driven by inventors and consumers. Welcome to the Obamanet.

President Obama demanded this result in a November speech, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel have now dutifully voted to apply last century’s monopoly telephone rules to Internet service providers. They have in the process made a mockery of the agency’s supposed independence.
Congress likely won’t be able to stop the FCC, so the best near-term response will have to come in the courts. In the best case, the lawsuits will delay the new rules until after the 2016 election. Then a new President less set on political control can appoint a new FCC and rewrite this effort to subject this great engine of American innovation to the untender clutches of the same folks who brought you ObamaCare.
The comments are the usual frantic, end-times nut-logs with which all the usual patriots fill their Ronald Reagan Underoos every time someone shakes a stick at them and says "Obama Boo!"
We're still in 1984. Obama and his useful idiots will grind the US into the totalitarian muck if it's the last thing he does.

they talk about freedom all the time, feed us their line of B.S. about human rights, and then Obama's government grabs control over the internet just like we do.

Congress should immediately defund the FCC and extinguish the agency in its entirety.

Silicon Valley meets Code Pink.

Nothing but a breathtaking power grab of another major part of the American economy. Tom Wheeler, and his two FCC brethren, are left-wing tools of his high holiness, Barack Obama...
But hands down this one takes the "Keep Your Gummint Hands Off My Medicare" cup going away...
Elections have consequences. Sooner or later, the government ruins everything it touches. Under this Marxist dictator of a president, it was bound to be sooner. In this case, the internet, before now the most beautiful example of human accomplishment ever seen...
Because only in the hermetically sealed terrarium of the  Fox News cult could the concept of making sure the internet remains what it has been all along -- a roughly level playing field for everyone -- be considered both a pillar of the International Commie Conspiracy and the Sixth Seal of the Apocalypse.

RIP Leonard Nimoy

For three generations of smart, Aspy nerds living among humans we would never quite figure out, Spock was our hero.

Farewell, Mr. Nimoy.  You have been, and always shall be, our friend.

The Great Project Continues, Ctd,

David Brooks -- pillar of the modern American Conservative movement for decades -- continues on his epic and highly successful quest to pretend that 99.9999% of the actual history modern American Conservatism never happened.

This week watch how Mr. Brooks makes all of the crucial details of George Bush's Iraqi Debacle (and his own deep complicity in it) completely disappear in two, short paragraphs.
Over the past centuries, Western diplomats have continually projected pragmatism onto their ideological opponents. They have often assumed that our enemies are driven by the same sort of national interest calculations that motivate most regimes. They have assumed that economic interests would trump ideology and religion — that prudent calculation and statecraft would trump megalomania.

They assumed that the world leaders before 1914 would not be stupid enough to allow nationalist passion to plunge them into a World War; that Hitler would not be crazy enough to start a second one; that Islamic radicals could not really want to send their region back into the 12th century; that Sunnis and Shiites would never let their sectarian feud turn into a cataclysmic confrontation in places like Iraq.
As with all magic tricks, the key gere is misdirection.  I this case, Mr. Brooks' little carnival act depends on keeping the rubes focused on big, sweeping, historically distant phrases like "centuries"  and "Western diplomats" and "1914" and "Hitler"...

...rather than on the actual words of actual, still-gainfully-employed Neocon war pimps like Mr. Brooks' former employer, Bloody Bill Kristol, some of whose imperishable wisdom has been helpfully compiled by Eric Alterman here:
• 18 September 2002, Kristol promised: a war in Iraq "could have terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East".

• 21 November 2002: "We can remove Saddam because that could start a chain reaction in the Arab world that would be very healthy."

• 20 February 2003: "Look, if we free the people of Iraq we will be respected in the Arab world. … France and Germany don't have the courage to face up to the situation. That's too bad. Most of Europe is with us. And I think we will be respected around the world for helping the people of Iraq to be liberated."

• 1 March 2003: "We talk here about Shiites and Sunnis as if they've never lived together. Most Arab countries have Shiites and Sunnis, and a lot of them live perfectly well together." Also: "Very few wars in American history were prepared better or more thoroughly than this one by this president."

• 5 March 2003: "I think we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq."

• 1 April 2003: "And on this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there's been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."
And of course there are also the immortal words of David Brooks himself, still available to anyone with a mouse and a computer who want to bother to take the trouble to look and see what Mr. Brooks actually said on the public record just a few years ago:
The Collapse of the Dream Palaces
Mass destruction of mistaken ideas.
APR 28, 2003

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

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

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

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

In other words, there will be no magic "Aha!" moment that brings the dream palaces down. Even if Saddam's remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, "We were wrong. Bush was right." They will just extend their forebodings into a more distant future. Nevertheless, the frame of the debate will shift. The war's opponents will lose self-confidence and vitality. And they will backtrack. They will claim that they always accepted certain realities, which, in fact, they rejected only months ago.
Because it is so much easier and infinitely more profitable to just to wish it all away, at no point in the last 12 years has Mr. Brooks ever taken back a single word he wrote during the Age of Bush. At no point has America's High Priest of Telling Other Journalists to Atone and Repent ever atoned or repented of his own loathsome actions.  At no point has America's Professor of Humility even acknowledged that his own words exist.  

Instead, Mr. Brooks has contended himself with cashing the checks, taking the promotions, keeping right on with the hippie punching and just pretending that the truly despicable means by which he clawed his way to fame and fortune never happened.

Of course to pull of this an act of press-tidigitation this huge, Mr. Brooks would need pretty much the entire Beltway punditocracy to be in on the conspiracy.

Fortunately for him, they are.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bandwagon? Count Me In!

Here's a link for me for a month from now by which time I will have completely forgotten balloon boy the Takin' It On The Llama gang  even existed.