Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Today In "Both Sides Do It": Betwixt, The Sad Centrist Clown

The single most toxic falsehood in American politics today is the Big Lie of Both Siderism.  Like the Matrix, Big Lie of Both Siderism is everywhere, all around us, all the time.  It is a prison for our minds which is constantly maintained and reinforced by a phalanx of (mostly) bland, middle-aged white men who are paid enormous sums of money to ritually repeat "Both Sides Do It" in every column they write for major American media corporations newspapers and magazines and into every microphone and teevee camera in front of which major American media corporations place them every fucking day.

Today's crime against journalism is brought to you by Ron Fournier, a Beltway toady so dedicated to his craft that, rumor has it, for a price, he'll perform at your kid's birthday as Betwixt, The Sad Centrist Clown who will sing melancholy songs about how everyone is equally to blame for everything...except the birthday boy, who is awesome!

This morning Squint and the Meat Puppet were paying Ron's tab, so today he sat at their table.  And after their long daily colloquy about how sick, sick, sick Republican voters are of the leadership of the Republican Party and how Squint's informal assay of his Republican friends backs up his theory of the unstoppability of Donald Trump in the Republican primary race, Betwixt, The Centrist Clown stepped in to repeat his assertion that the Trump Behemoth is a sign of the anger of voters... Both Parties.

I encourage everyone to take every opportunity to avoid watching Morning Joe, but if you are inclined to step into your HazMat suit and wade into the sludge, the wind up starts at around the 4:00 mark (a commercial will precede the video):

Sure, Lincoln is Bad, But Jeff Davis is the Real Monster!

It has been widely repeated-as-fact that America's Neo-Know-Nothing Party never been in this much ruinous, factional disarray.

But this is not true.

From incompetent, backbiting "leadership" to the inability to compromise their depraved dogma one iota in order to get anything done, back when the political antecedents of our own "The Gummint Is The Problem and Negroes Terrify Me" meathheads called themselves the "Confederate States of America" they acted in ways which are eerily similar to their modern-day ideological great-grandchildren.

...In reality, the Confederate leadership was rife with infighting. Davis argued with the Confederate House and Senate, state governors and his own cabinet. Senators threatened one another with physical violence. Some were brutal drunks, others hopeless idealists who would not bend even when it meant the difference between victory and defeat. Commanders were often assigned not on the basis of skill but because of personal connections.

Debates over such issues as whether the Confederacy needed a Supreme Court dragged on, squandering time that would have been better spent on making sure the troops were well fed. Davis frequently interfered with generals in the field, micromanaging their campaigns and playing favorites, ignoring the chain of command and placing trust in men who were utterly incompetent.

Some states, led by their governors, wanted to set themselves up as separate nations, further undermining a unified war effort. Tensions were so extreme that the vice president of the Confederacy refused to live in the same state as Davis—and this while they were trying to win a war.

Davis knew his political existence and those of his colleagues had been built on the concept of states’ rights. To have a chance at winning the war, however, he needed sweeping administrative and military central powers. The Confederate States of America needed to act as one.

The internal war between Davis and Congress erupted quickly. On Nov-ember 8, 1861, Davis’ war clerk, John B. Jones, wrote in his diary, “No Executive had ever such cordial and unanimous support.” By the summer of 1862, however, he reported “murmurs” against the president. Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory remarked in August how Congress seemed unhappy with Davis and that a “spirit of opposition” was growing. Meanwhile, South?Carolina Senator Lawrence Keitt openly termed Davis “a failure.”

Field officers also joined in the attacks against Davis. Robert A. Toombs, a Georgia politician who had briefly served as Davis’ secretary of state, was now a brigadier general hoping to win the war by killing Yankees rather than arguing in Richmond. He frequently shared his frustrations with fellow Georgian Alexander H. Stephens, the vice president, including comments like, “As [to] the assignment of Smith’s regiment, [Secretary of State Judah P.] Benjamin wrote me that the President instructed him to suggest to me to call Genl. [Joseph E.] Johnston’s attention to it; that he was commander of both corps of the army. I replied to Benj[amin] that I had good reasons to know that fact, ‘and in common with the army, not without reasons to lament it.’ I never knew as incompetent [an] executive officer. As he has been to West Point, tho’, I suppose he necessarily knows everything about it. We are doing nothing here, and will do nothing. The army is dying….Set this down in your book, and set down opposite to it its epitaph, ‘died of West Point.’ ”

A week later, Toombs turned his ire more directly toward the president. “Davis is here,” he confided to Stephens. “His generals are fooling [him] about the strength of our force in order to shield their inactivity. [Davis] talks of activity on the Potomac but I fear he does not feel it strong enough to move this inert mass.”

Colonel Thomas W.?Thomas of the 15th?Georgia also derided Davis, writing that “Pres. Davis was up the other day and reviewed about 12,000 troops at Fairfax Court House. There was not a single cheer, even when some one in the crowd among the staff called out for three cheers there was not a single response, everything was as cold as funeral meats.”

The volatile issue of conscription soon shattered relations between Davis, Congress and the state governors. Virginia Governor John Letcher declared conscription “the most alarming stride towards consolidation that has ever occurred,” but conceeded he would not fight Davis because the alternative would be ruin. Not so Georgia Governor Joe Brown, who believed that the draft was a measure aimed at destroying the states. “If the State Regiments are broken up, and the conscripts belonging to them forced into other organizations against their consent,” Brown told Davis, “it will have a very discouraging effect….This Act, not only disorganizes the military system of all the States, but consolidates almost the entire military system of the State in the Confederate Executive, with the appointment of the officers of the militia, and enables him at his pleasure, to cripple or destroy the civil government of each State, by arresting, and carrying into the Confederate Service, the officers charged by the State Constitution.”

Davis was incensed. “I have received your letter,” he wrote Brown, “informing me of your transfer of the Georgia State troops to General [Alexander] Lawton commanding Confederate forces at Savannah suggesting that there be as little interference as possible on the part of the Confederate authorities with the present organization of those troops….Interference with the present organization of companies, squadrons, battalions, or regiments tendered by Governors of States, is specially disclaimed.” So began a bitter fight.

Davis never knew where or when the next divisive issue would pop up. Governer Henry Rector of Arkansas fueled the Confederacy’s internal problems, for example, when he wanted to pull his state away from the Confederacy in the summer of 1862. His state would not, Rector declared in a proclamation, “remain a confederate State, desolated as a wilderness.”

Rector threatened to build “a new ark and launch it on new waters, seeking a haven somewhere, of equality, safety, and rest.” Responding to Rector’s proclamation, Governor Francis Lubbock of Texas wrote the president, reassuring him as best he could that support would come from the Deep South. “This is no time for bickerings, heart-burnings, and divisions among a people struggling for existence as a free Government,” Lubbock wrote.

The issue persisted throughout that year, and Davis lectured Congress at the beginning of 1863 that “You can best devise the means for establishing that entire cooperation of the Sate and central governments which is essential to the well-being of both….”

His admonition fell on deaf ears, for on February 5, 1863, the Senate heard a proposed amendment to the Confederate constitution that would allow an aggrieved state to secede from the Confederacy. “It shall do so in peace,” read the proposal, “but shall be entitled to its pro rata share of property and be liable for its pro rata share of public debt to be determined by negotiation.” The plan was referred to the Judicial Committee. Two days later senators failed to recommend the amendment, and the idea was dropped as being too dangerous.

Sickly Vice President Alexander Stephens was another snake in the grass Davis had to deal with. Early in the war, Stephens had returned to his home in Crawfordville Ga., to conspire and orchestrate a campaign against the president. “What is wanting in Richmond is ‘brains,’ Howell Cobb, a Georgia general officer who had been president of the Confederate Provisional Congress and a likely candidate for Davis’ job, wrote to the vice president. “I did not find the temper and disposition of Congress as bad as I expected, but there is a lamentable want of brains and good sound common sense.”

Lawrence Keitt wrote his wife that he had heard “Toombs is on the stump in Geo., and is arraigning Davis in a terrible manner.” He added: “I have always feared the divisions, which I saw would spring up among us. You cannot have liason—connexion [sic]—unity—among a planting community. Too many Revolutions have shipwrecked upon internal division. This Revolution proves that canonized imbecility is but a straw before the wrath of masses—it seems to be a law of humanity that generation after generation must rescue its liberties from the insidious grasp of a foe without or within. In our case, we have to seize them from both foes—we have a worthless government, and are reduced to the humiliation of acknowledging it, because we cannot, with safety, shake it.”

My belief that most of the problems that now hag-ride my country could have been avoided if William Tecumseh Sherman had had tactical nuclear weapons remains undiminished.

The Fraudghaaaazi Air Campaign Begins

McCarthy first.

Then Goudy.

Ever since Kevin McCarthy dropped their magic Fraudghaaaazi genie down the wood-chipper, lamp and all, the Beltway press and the Conservative Brain Caste have begun ordering fainting couches in bulk, and ads like these are a good start.

But we could do so much more.

For example, some clever dog could swap out a couple of words in this scene from Goodfellas and, boom, you have the story of how the Beltway press and the Conservative Brain Caste reacted after hearing about McCarthy's epic mouthfail.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Cummings Maneuver

First, gather the Republican Hero Brigade together in one place.

Second, given them every chance in the fucking world not to conduct themselves like Jack Merridew from Lord of the Flies.

And when they default immediately to the level of the pettiest banana-republic thugs, lock them in their own fortress and drop grenades down the air ducts.

Dems on GOP’s Benghazi committee start to play hardball

10/05/15 12:46 PM—UPDATED 10/05/15 01:54 PM

By Steve Benen

It’s always interesting to see what happens when a charade ends. For quite a while, congressional Republicans tried to keep up appearances, pretending their Benghazi committee was a legitimate, non-partisan search for truth – a claim no one, anywhere, seriously believed – but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) accidental candor last week ripped off the mask.

There was brief discussion about whether Democrats would simply quit the taxpayer-funded, anti-Clinton fishing expedition in protest, a move Dems ultimately rejected, but that doesn’t mean they plan to sit idly by. The Washington Post reported this morning:

Democrats are taking the unprecedented step of releasing excerpts from a closed-session interview the House Benghazi committee conducted last month with Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, accusing the panel’s Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy (S.C.) of selectively leaking information to damage Clinton in the presidential race.

In a letter sent Monday morning, Democrats on the panel released statements made by Mills from the Sept. 3 interview that paint Clinton in a favorable light. The letter charges Gowdy with failing to provide a fair account of Mills’s interview, alleging that he orchestrated small press leaks designed to produce negative stories about the Democratic presidential front-runner.
In a letter signed by all five Democratic members of the panel, the lawmakers told Gowdy, “It has become obvious that the only way to adequately correct the public record is to release the complete transcript of the Committee’s interview with Ms. Mills…. [W]e plan to begin the process of correcting the public record by releasing the transcript of Ms. Mills’ interview. Since you have indicated your unwillingness to do this in a bipartisan manner, we plan to do so ourselves.”
And we all come out like it's Halloween.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Today In "Both Sides Do It": The American Prospect

Thanks to Alert Reader "Richard" for calling my attention to further evidence of how far into the political groundwater this poison has spread.

From The America Prospect:
The Politics of Frustration

Frustration is driving voters on both sides of the partisan divide toward radical make-believe

Republican primary voters, we are told, are furious about the failure of their party’s elected leaders to deliver on their promises. Despite controlling Congress, those leaders have done nothing about illegal immigration and have failed to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, or prevent the agreement with Iran from going through. Fed up with career politicians and fearing dire changes in American society, the party’s rank and file have instead gravitated to candidates who have never held public office—Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina. At least, that has been the story in the early going of the presidential race.

On the left, there is an analogous impatience. Just as Republicans are frustrated with the Republican Congress, so progressives are frustrated with the Obama presidency...
On and on Mr. Starr goes,
To some extent, both the conservative and progressive frustrations have the same origin—limited power in a divided government
backing up his little truck
But there is an additional parallel. Both conservatives and progressives say the parties’ agendas aren’t radical enough.
to fly dump one more load of toxic nonsense  on top of the reeking garbage heap of the Biggest Lie in American politics. 

 Until, way down in paragraph six, the author meekly blows up  his own fucking argument --
On the Democratic side, the candidates are unlikely to race to the left in a way that’s comparable to the Republican race to the right. But the idle talk about adopting single-payer health care and emulating a Scandinavian welfare state has a similar air of unreality about it.
-- and then spends the remainder of the article touting the successes of the Obama Administration and calling on Democrats to be "realistic".

If this Frankenstein dreck had been turned in to me as a writing assignment I would have asked Mr, Starr which story he wanted to write: a Both Siderist dirge or a paean to the Affordable Care Act and various other Obama Administration accomplishments.

If the latter, I would have given him a provisional "D", red penciled the first half of this paper and told him that to raise his grade he should quite trying to be David Brooks and just write the that article.  

If the former, I would have advised him to immediately drop my class and apply for a job with the New York Times, the Washington Post or (apparently, sadly) The American Prospect.  

Republican History Repeats Itself, First as Tragedy

Second as farce.

Third as genius campaign strategery!

From the New York Times:
A Conundrum for Jeb Bush: How to Use George W.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — With Jeb Bush struggling to connect with some Republican activists, his campaign has begun exploring whether to bring in the person it thinks may be best equipped to give him a boost with skeptical conservatives: his brother George W. Bush.

The 43rd president is a very popular figure among Republican voters and could deliver a needed jolt to his brother’s sluggish campaign.

Because as the Bush Family crest reads: "Cum te radices producunt atque iterum ad maiorem gente consilium optimum telum."

Or, in English, "When you shoot yourself in the foot over and over again, the best possible strategy is to reach for a larger caliber weapon."

Also, I cannot over-emphasize how awesome it is that the people who have been frantically flinging themselves through the Magical Teabagger/Bush-Off Machine over and over again for the last seven years like children running through a sprinkler on a hot day are the same people who we are being told regard Dubya as a "very popular figure".

But what bumps this from awesome to perfect is where one of the recommendations is coming from:
“I do think he’s an asset, and we need him down here — and Barbara, too,” said Sally Atwater, a Republican activist here, referring to the brothers’ mother. 

Ms. Atwater, the widow of Lee Atwater, a strategist for the first President Bush, added of the family: “Folks have a relationship with these people already. That’s important. And you need to play off of that.”
With no John McCain to slander this time around, I'm not sure what Commander Cuckoobananas can add to the mix, but you gotta respect the effort.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

"And Truth Shall Have No Dominion" Edition

Take one, well-greased Donald Trump.

Add Bush Administration sock-puppet Stephen "Yellow Cakes" Hadley --
The C.I.A. faxed a memo to Hadley and the speechwriters telling them to delete the sentence on uranium, “because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from the source. We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue. Finally, the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory.” Iraq’s supply of yellowcake dated back to the 1980s, when it had imported hundreds of tons of uranium ore from Niger and mined the rest itself. The C.I.A. felt that if Saddam was trying to revive his nuclear program he would be more likely to use his own stockpile than risk exposure in an illegal international deal.

But the White House refused to let go. Later that day, Hadley’s staff sent over another draft of the Cincinnati speech, which stated, “The regime has been caught attempting to purchase substantial amounts of uranium oxide from sources in Africa.”

This time, George Tenet himself interceded to keep the president from making false statements. According to his Senate testimony, he told Hadley that the “president should not be a fact witness on this issue,” because the “reporting was weak.” The C.I.A. even put it in writing and faxed it to the N.S.C.

-- to balm the fee-fees of Bush Regime dead-enders.

Toss in a Rich Lowrey for the high-end bigots...

An Amy Holmes (of Glenn Beck's The Blaze) to bring in the unhinged, the shut-in and the doomsday preppers...

A Ruth Marcus, because when you can't get David Brooks, David-Brooks-in-a-dress-will-do...

...and Shuck "Facts are not my Profession" Todd to read meaningless poll numbers at you and protect the Both Siderist party line with a solid barrage of "Who the fuck cares if BenghaaaazEmail is bullshit?  How will it play politically?"

Add them up and you have NBC's flagship political public interest program.  What was once the crowned jewel of the network:  now a Fox-lite chop shop trolling for viewers in the shallow end of the American gene pool.

55 years ago, in October 1960, this is what Meet the Press looked like:

In October 2015, here is the state of the art in "serious" political reporting in Murrica:

Shuck Todd explicitly announcing that the facts do not fucking matter is what makes it Meet the Press.

A clip of Jason "Imaginary Baby Parts" Chaffetz taking a break from his own filthy little wingnut kangaroo court long enough to scuttle down the hall and throw his support behind Trey Gowdy's filthy little wingnut witch-hunt --

And, boy, Republicans didn't like it. Jason Chaffetz, by the way, who just announced today he's officially going to challenge McCarthy for the speakership, he went after McCarthy hard for the comment.


To suggest that there was any sort of political motivation is absolutely-- it's not fair to Mr. Gowdy, it's not fair to myself, and most importantly, it's not fair to those four families who lost those loved ones. That's not why we're doing this.

I think he should withdraw that statement. I think he needs to express how wrong it was. And it was never the intention, it's not what we're doing. And I think the statement is totally wrong.
-- is what makes it Art.

Sure, under David Gregory, Meet the Press was an running joke and a weekly hacktacular trainwreck. But given the furious speed at which Shuck Todd is augering that wreck into the ground, it looks as if the reign of David Gregory will soon become something to be looked back on with fondness.

Jebus, we are so screwed.

So Stay Gold, Ponyboy!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Great Moments In Journihilism*: David Brooks Pulls a McCarthy

This weekend's crime against journalism is brought to you by Mr. David Brooks.

Mr. Brooks is a journalist in the employ of the New York Times who also frequently appears as an honored guest on PBS, NPR and Meet the Press. He also teaches Humility at Yale University and lectures at various think tanks around the world on the importance of humility and good character.

Friday, while on The News Hour mocking the affable, cow-dumb callowness of Kevin McCarthy, Mr. Brooks boldly pulled a rather spectacular McCarthy himself (a "McCarthy" hereafter is defined as when a Member of the Tribe That Rubs Shit In It's Hair spills some horrible secret of the Temple in front of an open microphone and is too institutionally inbred to realize that they just said something awful.)

Mr. Brooks shows his ass McCarthy-fashion at around the 5:50 mark in the video above. For those of you who have better sense that to waste a moment of you life watching this idiot, here's the transcript (emphasis added):

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about something, big news that happened a week ago today, and that was Speaker John Boehner announcing he’s stepping down.

David, it’s been assumed that the majority leader, his number two, Kevin McCarthy, had a lock on this, but then he did an interview this week where he said flat out that the investigation by Republicans into Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi incident was politically motivated, that you could measure the success of it by her dropping poll numbers.

What does it say about him as a prospective speaker?


Well, there are a couple of things we know about him. First, he’s a very social guy, a very friendly guy. I still think he has a lock on it because he’s so likable. And these races tend to be very personal.

Second, he’s not anybody’s idea of a ideological firebrand. He’s not particularly philosophical. He’s social. He’s a nice guy. He’s a good political creature. And so a lot of people are wondering, will he be ideological enough? Because he’s not particularly — that’s not in his nature.

And, third, he’s not used to being near the top job. And he said something true and stupid, which was true, that the attack, the investigation into the Democratic nominee, potential nominee, is a political act and they’re trying to bring her down. Of course. But you’re not supposed to say that.

And, third, he is an embodiment of what’s wrong with Washington with that statement, which is the gap between campaigning and governing, which used to be something that was honorably upheld, has now been erased. And so governing is the same as campaigning, or, actually, more precisely, campaigning is everything.

And so congressional investigations have become political tools.
The deliberate Beltway elisions -- that reflexive conflation of the despicable things Republicans do when they their hands on real power with "what’s wrong with Washington" -- is to be expected, That just Mr. Brooks where he is almost all of the time; on Both Siderist autopilot. 

No, the real gem is his eye-rolling dismissal of the revelation that the BenghaaaazEmail kabuki was every bit the politically motivated witch-hunt that Liberals have always said it was.

If I were Mr. Brooks' editor, I would want him in my office five minutes after the show aired and I would want him to explain to me in very small words how it was possible that he, as a paid journalist, was obviously aware of the fact that the Republican Party was using a congressional investigation as nothing more than a political bludgeon to destroy a Democratic candidate for president, but it never occurred to him to do any, y'know, actual journalism stuff with that information,  

Never asked any questions.  

Never tapped even one of that army of secret sources with whom you are so chummy for something on background.  

Never filed a single story,  

Never took all that you already knew and went on, say, The News Hour to speculate as freely about this incredibly important story as you have about every other fucking subject under the political sun,  

Never did any reporting.  

And then I realized that no editor would ever ask Mr. Brooks any such questions because Mr. Brooks doesn't have editors.

Mr. Brooks only has enablers, financiers and co-conspirators.

*Not a term I invented, but definitely one I endorse.

Even Among Fictional Bushes, Jeb Is The Dumb One

Fictional Bush, Robert Ritchie, after a fictional Secret Service agent is gunned down during a robbery:
"Crime. Boy. I don't know"
Actual Bush, John Ellis "Jeb", after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College:
"Look, stuff happens and the impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."
Compared to Jebulon, Fred Thompson was an unstoppable force of nature.

Compared to Jebulon, Dan Quayle was William Jennings Bryan.*

I can fix a comma.
Jebulon can't fix being a Bush.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Professional Left Podcast Episode #304

"It showed a crowd of freaks bending over a dying fat man on a dark and lonely road, looking at a tattoo on his back which illustrated a crowd of freaks bending over a dying fat man on a..."
-- Ray Bradbury, writer