Friday, August 29, 2014

Because Every Day Is Anti-Labor Day



If you were looking for a refreshing holiday beverage that combines all the worst impulses of the Koch Brothers' fanatical neo-feudalism with all the hysterical Libruls!Are!Comin!!To!Kill!You! paranoia of the Koch Brothers, you couldn't do much better than this whiny manifesto on the horrors workers who stand up for their rights from Mark Mix, president of the Corporate Droit du Seigneur Legal Defense Foundation National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
It’s Labor Day, not Union Day

Most Americans realize Labor Day is about celebrating workers and their contribution to our free society, but that won’t stop union bosses from stealing the spotlight to push their own agenda...
Yes, unions want to fuck up poor Mr. Mix's Labor Day by dragging labor into it!

Doesn't waste much time getting right to the Airing of The Grievances, does he?

But not to worry; America's bright oligarchic future has not been completely destroyed by Union Thugs.  There are still things to celebrate.

Like, say, a certain "twice-elected goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin" successfully implementing his paymaster's genius "Ha Ha!  Your fired for no damn reason or maybe I just don't like your uppity backsass." plan:
In Wisconsin, the state supreme court upheld in entirety Gov. Scott Walker’s public-sector unionism reforms, commonly known as “Act 10,” which grants Right to Work protections to most Wisconsin government employees.
(Wisconsin...
State motto, 1848-2014:  "Forward!".
State motto, 2015-????:  "Go ahead and yell.  Ain't nobody can hear ya.")
Mr. Mix also has plenty to say about how run amok with power the peasants have gotten and how they are Very Rudely attempting to crash the corrupt political monopoly Mr. Mix's employers are buying for themselves --
For union officials, political activism takes precedence over protecting worker rights.

And why not? Big Labor’s $1.7 billion forced-dues funded political machine enables Big Labor to wield an immense amount of clout in Washington, D.C., and state capitals.
Which should come as no great surprise when you come to find the kind of company Mr. Mix keeps (from the Center For Media and Democracy):
National Right to Work's Deep Connections to the Koch Brothers and the John Birch Society


The NRTWC has deep connections within the national right-wing network led by the Koch brothers. Reed Larson, who led the NRTW groups for over three decades, hails from Wichita, Kansas, the hometown of Charles and David Koch. Larson became an early leader of the radical right-wing John Birch Society in Kansas, which Fred Koch (the father of Charles and David) helped found. Several other founders and early leaders of the NRTWC were members and leaders of the John Birch Society, specifically the Wichita chapter of which Fred Koch was an active member.


The groups remain tied to the Kochs. In 2012, the Kochs' Freedom Partners group funneled $1 million to the National Right to Work Committee, while the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation gave a $15,000 grant to the NRTWLDF, which has also received significant funding from the Koch-connected DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. Today, at least three former Koch associates work as attorneys for the NRTWLDF.

In June 2010, Mark Mix, the current head of the NRTW groups, attended the Kochs' exclusive Aspen strategy meeting to give a presentation on how to mobilize conservatives for the 2010 election, along with representatives from Koch-backed groups such as the Center to Protect Patient Rights (now called American Encore) and Americans for Prosperity.
...
What people like Mr. Mix have going for them is a tiny cabal of single-minded patrons willing to spend a mountain of money to remake the world in their image.

And so far, it's working.


3...2...1...

Arise Ye Prisoners of Regulations
Arise ye Wealthy of the Earth
For Justice has been Bought by Corporations
So come and get your money's worth!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What is L.A.C.I.R.?



What is L.A.C.I.R.?

It is my own, dues-collecting cause for which -- if I can swing it -- you will be getting dunned by Jim Dean or Howard Dean or Adam Green.

Liberals.
Against.
Confronting.
Imaginary.
Republicans.

Here is an example of what we at L.A.C.I.R. are trying to stamp out.



Dear Chris,

I know it feels good to pretend that you are somhow unburdening yourself to conservatives who will listen to you and take what you say seriously, but this "Open Letter To..." suffers from the obvious flaw that a) the "conservatives" you are trying to reach to do not watch your program and, b) the "conservatives" you are trying to reach are as imaginary as Ammit the Devourer.

So cut it out.

Unless you're don't listen to people me.

Which would be ironic, no?

Yours in Christ,

driftglass



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's More of a Shelbyville Idea...



Today in local perfidyLyle Lanley Jeff Parsons
Judge Threatens Jeff Parsons With Criminal Contempt

A federal judge has threatened to hold former THR and Associates boss Jeff Parsons in criminal contempt of court if he doesn’t provide the documents needed to proceed with his case.

Parsons last appeared in court July 10th when he was ordered to produce documents related to THR and his current buy/sell/trade ventures. He owes former employees and vendors more than $12 million and declared bankruptcy in 2012.

Parsons, again, didn’t provide everything needed. He solicited an attorney and accountant to go through receipts and compile financial reports, but he didn’t provide transaction reports or invoices for any good, silver or other goods he bought at shows and then and sold to Steve Mileham, the man who owns Goldlink on MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield.

Parsons told attorney Doug Quivey, representing Parson’s former employees and vendors, that Mileham buys materials purchased at road shows and offers what’s called “advances” in exchange. Quivey, poring over documents, says Mileham has “advanced” Parsons nearly $2 million since he filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Parsons didn’t provide transaction reports detailing how much, if any, of that money went into his business accounts...
And what was THR?

Basically it was the Springfield monorail...
The Roadshow is over
THR heads for bankruptcy
By Bruce Rushton

...
Help wanted billboards erected in Springfield promised six-figure salaries to folks who went to work for THR & Associates, a company formed in 2008 that almost overnight became a multimillion-dollar firm. With Parsons as its president, CEO and sole shareholder, THR set up buying events in hotels throughout the nation, luring customers through newspaper ads, then convincing them to sell coins, jewelry, watches, antiques and anything else of value, especially if it contained gold or silver.

The goal was to buy low, sell high, and THR did a lot of it. In 2010, the company had revenue of $125 million and Parsons reaped nearly $9 million in profits. Revenue last year was $211 million, with a net profit of almost $11 million, according to testimony in the pending divorce case of Parsons vs. Parsons, which has laid bare the inner workings of THR and the largesse of Jeffrey Parsons, who had finally hit it big. But not for long.

THR is headed for bankruptcy, and its bank accounts have been frozen by the Internal Revenue Service, according to recent testimony in the divorce case. The Illinois attorney general’s office has launched an investigation, and a federal criminal probe could be in the offing.

Between delinquent payroll taxes and unpaid personal income taxes, the state and federal governments are owed about $13 million by THR and Parsons, who resigned as the company’s chief executive officer on July 13, a Friday. He deposited his final paycheck in the account of his live-in girlfriend and mother of his infant child so that the IRS would not seize the money. He testified last week that his own bank account has a balance of $360.
...
No word on whether Mr. Parsons is using his "advances" to start up similar enterprises in Brockway, Ogdenville or North Haverbrook.

The Spleenwald Social Experiment Is Now Ended



While I will continue to drop a post about Mr. Greenwald whenever is suits me, the social experiment portion of our show is now over.

My thesis has always been that the Spleenwald Horde are mostly just reflex-driven meat, squatting on digital rocks ignoring every other issue on Earth and responding only when anyone throws the tiniest sliver of shade in the direction of Mr. Greenwald's moral perfection or in any way questions Mr. Greenwald's inerrant wisdom.

Then and only then do the Spleenwald Horde twitch into shoutycrackers action, dutifully ignoring the substance of any critique and instead rattling on like the last, tiny, crazy marble in a very large oil drum.

Having splendidly demonstrated the accuracy of my thesis to nine significant digits, they are once again disinvited from this blog.

But thanks for all the laughs!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You Want Edgy?


Lose the waxworks and let a little truth shine in.

From the New York Times:
...
As for “Meet the Press,” Ms. Turness said she worked with Mr. Gregory to try to make changes, but “we weren’t able to build a new vision together in the end.”

Her new vision for “Meet the Press” includes adding a regular panel of journalists who will question guests, something of a return to the venerable show’s original format. “The show needs more edge,” she said. “It needs to be consequential. I think the show had become a talking shop that raked over the cold embers of what had gone on the previous week. The one-on-one conversation belongs to a decade ago. We need more of a coffeehouse conversation.”
...
You want edgy?

Put Liberals on teevee.  Real Liberals.

It's just that simple.

Sure, everyone has their own version of Ed Kilgore's list of people who should never, ever be allowed access to a microphone and camera every again.  And banning that herd of establishmentarian testicles cozies would be a very fine thing.

But a much finer thing would be a frank and open and even, yes, even edgy conversation about why those establishmentarian testicles cozies were allowed to come into being in the first place.  Why they have been invested with such enormous power to warp our national agenda.  And why, why, why the simple act of stating blindingly obvious truths about our politics has been effectively banned from these precincts by the very people whose job it is supposed to be to talk about hard truths.

You want edgy?

Put Digby on your panel.

Put Hal Sparks on your panel and let him rip.

Hell, put me on there.

And watch us go go go.

Also Too, There. Is. Still. No. Tea. Party.



“...they turned to prayer, beseeching
that the sin which had been committed
might be wholly blotted out.”
-- 2 Maccabees. 12:42
Ripped from the annals of "No One Could Have Predicted...", this from this Andrew Sullivan's Pot-'n-Popes-'n-Stuff blog (which has temporarily become his Pot-'n-Popes-'n-Libertarians-'n-Stuff blog since he turned it over to an entire floor of his dorm while he takes a month off to contemplate the meaning of man's existence in an indifferent universe. Or something.)

Anyway, even though this really (and hilariously) speaks for itself, I will probably risking gilding that lily and add my two bitcoin's worth at the end....
Libertarians In Name Only
AUG 26 2014 @ 1:17PM
by Dish Staff 
Tim Fernholz highlights new Pew data on libertarianism in America, which shows that only 11 percent self-describe as libertarian and understand what the term means:

The survey showed a fairly even split among Americans considering whether the regulation of businesses does more harm than good, or if aid for the poor helps or hinders, though a majority does think that corporations make too much profit. Libertarians, meanwhile, leaned strongly against any interference in business or help to the poor, though not as strongly as you might think: 41% of libertarians saw government regulation of business as necessary, and 38% supported aid to the poor.



Indeed, perhaps the most interesting finding is that self-described libertarians favor US involvement in world affairs more than the average citizen, despite their reputation for an isolationist lean. And, even more weirdly, 16% of libertarians said US citizens need to be willing to give up some privacy in exchange for greater security.
Kilgore thinks that “Pew has at the very least cast some massive doubt on all that ‘libertarian moment’ polling from Reason“:
These findings of the non-particularity of “libertarian” views, mind you, is after Pew has melted the category down from 17% of the public to 11%, since a lot of “libertarians” could not accurately distinguish “libertarian” from “communist” or—get this—“Unitarian.”
Allahpundit’s analysis:
What you’re seeing in the poll results, I think, is a bunch of doctrinaire libertarians having their brand diluted by a bunch of conservatives/ Republicans who are disgusted with those labels right now, for whatever reason, and are thus hoping to claim “libertarianism” for themselves. Do you support aggressive policing, a muscular foreign policy, and a social safety net but are disgusted with how big and intrusive the federal government’s gotten and how complacent the GOP has gotten about it? Congrats, you might be a “libertarian.” In fact, this reminds me of what David Frum said recently about the “libertarian moment”...
So, as usual, linky-love and compliments for all the usual suspects like the Washington Times, Hot Air, David Frum.

But heaven help you if, years ago, you starting writing post after post pointing that the sudden surge in self-identified "independents" and "Tea Partiers" and "libertarians" were obviously millions of Republican cowards fleeing the scene of their many, many, many crimes:
...
Most newly minted “independents” seem to be little more than Republicans who are fleeing the scene of their crime, but at the same time still desperately want believe in the inerrant wisdom of Rush Limbaugh. They are completely incapable of facing the horrifying reality that they have gotten every single major political opinion and decision of their adult lives completely wrong, so instead they double-down on their hatred of women and/or gays and/or brown people and/or Liberals, and blame them for the miserable fuckpit their leaders and their policies have made of their live and futures.

Like German soldiers after the fall of Berlin, they have stopped running away from the catastrophe they created only long enough to burn their uniforms.
Heaven help you if you were writing back in 2009 that one of the most important lessons of 9/11 which every single person in the Mainstream Media was conspicuously ignoring was that Conservatives were now completely dependent to getting cost-free rebranding do-overs from the media every time they committed another atrocity:
...
So, for example, when you hear the same people who fanatically supported President George W. Bush when he famously told Iraq war critics to fuck off --
"Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election."
"...scrap the current grandiose plans and to start over."
or when you see the mobs on the Right being whipped by talk of secession or revolution or spilling the "blood of tyrants" into a nearly-pornographic frenzy, understand that what you are witnessing are the echoes of political decisions made in the wake of September 11, 2001.

Political decisions that trained the Right to believe, on a visceral level, that a sufficiently bloody and horrifying disruption to the life of the country can -- if properly exploited -- wash away their eight otherwise-unforgivable years of sin and restore "their country" to its proper, wingnut default setting.

That if the right sacrifices are made to the right Gods in just the right way, then they can be virgins again.
Heaven help you if, years ago, you chose to stand apart from the credulous Media Lemmings and point out that the only fucking reason this brazen scheme to escape brutal judgement for their multiple, bloody, Bush-era treacheries, hypocrisies and lies was not being laughed out of existence was that Conservatives had turned the media into their eager co-conspirators:
...
The thing is, I don't especially begrudge these Four Heist Men of the Teapocalypse their ludicrous little charade; Hell, if I'd spent the last decade happily sucking the dicks of the people who destroyed my country, I'd guess I'd be dressing up in pantyhose and jaunty little hats and pretending I'd been asleep since the Ford Administration too.

Phil Ponce, on the other hand, is a different story. Letting these clowns use the the public airwaves to put across their underhanded, one-sided scam is unforgivable, and letting himself be used as their sweat rag in the process is beyond embarrassing.

If Royko were alive, he'd be dangling Ponce by his ankle from a fifth story window right about now, making him conjugate the verb "muckrake".

In Latin.

Backwards.

Else how's that boy ever gonna learn!
There. Are. Four. Lights.



And. There. Is. Still.  No.  Tea. Party. 

And while nobody in Mr. Sullivan's circle is ever going to acknowledge that, once again, Liberals like me were right all along...and while the day will never come when I can afford to take a month off to think about whether the Universe is itself conscious ab ovo or if conscious is just one of the Universe's emergent properties (and if time is actually non-linear does that distinction even matter) at least I can sleep at night.




Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down



Busy as this last week has been, I have not had the time to flop down in front of the Glass Teat and take the full and glorious measure of how the insular denizens of the swampy berg of Washington D.C. are smugly autofellating themselves during this Summer Break weekend.

But this one thing caught my eye...

On thing which is is so gloriously representative of the denialist "Both Sides" flapdoodle that has become the lingua franca of our political media that it is the beyond my poor power to parody simply because it comes out of the box already so full-on self-parodying that all you have to do is push the button and watch (after the ad):



One day your grandkids will have to stand in line at a holomuseum to hear authentic, frontier Centrist gibberish, like that my friends,

so enjoy it in its natural state while you can.

Of course, this is all the result of the gutlessness of those "Moderate Republicans, Undecideds, and Libertarians" about whom I wrote this little parable way back on the Year of Our Lord Aught Five, when I thought one day it might become necessary to explain the monstrous rise and toxic collapse of the Modern Republican Cult to very small children.

We will never be rid of Centrist con men because the underlying causes of them will continue multiplying like cholera bacteria until the GOP as we know it is banished to the Phantom Zone.  And that will never happen until Moderate Republican Steve is forced to admit that not only has Crazy Uncle Liberty been out of his fucking mind for years, but that Liberal Cousin Jennifer has been right about Crazy Uncle Liberty being out of his fucking mind all along.

And Moderate Republican Steve is nowhere near emotionally or intellectually strong enough to face the fact that he has been horribly wrong since forever.  And from the little acorn of his cowardice and intractable unwillingness to take any responsibility for the hellbeast he helped create, the mighty oak of reflexive Both Siderism.  Individually, Moderate Republican Steve may appear weak and stupid, but multiply him by millions and you create a massive marketplace for an entire weasel-word vocabulary of denialism, and (like opportunistic diseases picnicking on a ruined immune system) a farrago of vanity-funded Centrist pyramid schemes each trying to cash in on Steve's frantic desire to continue to pretend that what this country really needs is to get rid of  Crazy Uncle Liberty and Liberal Cousin Jennifer because of the horrible, horrible "extremes on both sides".

Vanity-funded Centrist pyramid schemes like this one!

...
Meanwhile, the dysfunction in Washington just kept getting worse.  I wrote The Centrist Manifesto when the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction process collapsed, as the two parties kowtowed to their most active and vocal members.
...
And Testimonials:
“The two extremes are tearing this nation apart with their stubborn rhetoric and lack of action. I refuse to just sit back and watch. Our country is worth fighting for!”

Phillip Slater, MD
And a Logo:

And everything!  (And you know it's not just some boiler-room, fly-by-night outfit when the graphic is named "logoplaceholder".)

You know, if I had been raised just a little more skeevy and glib, I could have gone into the Both Sider Long Con years ago and have enough squirreled away by now to retire in style.

Stupid Liberal.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Public and The Private



Glenn Greenwald makes an argument:
...
This week, the announcement by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo that the company would prohibit the posting of the James Foley beheading video and photos from it (and suspend the accounts of anyone who links to the video) met with overwhelming approval. What made that so significant, as The Guardian‘s James Ball noted today, was that “Twitter has promoted its free speech credentials aggressively since the network’s inception.” By contrast, Facebook has long actively regulated what its users are permitted to say and read; at the end of 2013, the company reversed its prior ruling and decided that posting of beheading videos would be allowed, but only if the user did not express support for the act.

Given the savagery of the Foley video, it’s easy in isolation to cheer for its banning on Twitter. But that’s always how censorship functions: it invariably starts with the suppression of viewpoints which are so widely hated that the emotional response they produce drowns out any consideration of the principle being endorsed.

It’s tempting to support criminalization of, say, racist views as long as one focuses on one’s contempt for those views and ignores the serious dangers of vesting the state with the general power to create lists of prohibited ideas...
Sure.

Except as any averagely bright eight-year-old knows, Twitter is not The State.

And so the question is moot (Using the Jesse Jackson Jr. and OED alternate definitions: "2. N. Amer. (orig. Law). Of a case, issue, etc.: having no practical significance or relevance; abstract, academic. Now the usual sense in North America."):


A fact about which, attorney Glenn Greenwald is obviously aware...
It’s certainly true, as defenders of Twitter have already pointed out, that as a legal matter, private actors – as opposed to governments – always possess and frequently exercise the right to decide which opinions can be aired using their property. Generally speaking, the public/private dichotomy is central to any discussions of the legality or constitutionality of “censorship.”
..but for some reason he really wants to pick this fight anyway, so off he goes:
But as a prudential matter, the private/public dichotomy is not as clean when it comes to tech giants that now control previously unthinkable amounts of global communications. There are now close to 300 million active Twitter users in the world – roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. population – and those numbers continue to grow rapidly and dramatically. At the end of 2013, Facebook boasted of 1.23 billion active users: or 1 out of every 7 human beings on the planet. YouTube, owned by Google, recently said that “the number of unique users visiting the video-sharing website every month has reached 1 billion” and “nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.”

These are far more than just ordinary private companies from whose services you can easily abstain if you dislike their policies. Their sheer vastness makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to avoid them, particularly for certain work...
Sure.

Except no matter how many different ways you cut it, Twitter is still not The State.

Neither is FaceBook.

Neither is YouTube.

Once upon a time I had a boss who required me to carry BlackBerry.  I didn't want to, but there you go  On that same job I worked every day behind a cast iron firewall which made it virtually impossible to access anything cool or interesting on the internet.  Which was a drag, but I found if I hustled I could grab lunch at a local hippie joint with wifi and still post to my blog if anything newsworthy was breaking in the middle of the day.

Before that I worked at a college where we rigged it so only the software we chose -- in the configuration we designated -- existed on all +300 computers in our department.  Yes, students paid tuition, but (as we would have to explain three times a day -- peaking at 17 times a day around midterms and finals -- to some person complaining about their "rights" being violated) they didn't own the fucking infrastructure of the school.  They shared it with several thousand other humans from two dozen countries who all had very different priorities and who were also all theoretically trying to get an education and a degree.  The same institution had rules about drinking and smoking on campus which, frankly, were written to accommodate the predilections of one senior administrator who like to smoke in his office and drink with pretty grad students.

Before that I worked at a place that considered having any game on your company-assigned laptop to be a firing offense. Until the boss got hooked on Tetris, at which point that rule loosened up considerably.

These days, I occasionally have to swing by the HyVee to buy muffins for a community meeting, but I clearly understand that should I decide to do my muffin shopping pants-free one day, they're sure as shit going to "ban my content" by asking me to leave.  This arbitrary policy (obviously created by the powerful Big Trousers lobby) makes it difficult if not impossible to do my work sans culottes, so the pants stay on.  

Currently I also "work" at this blog, and by the extremely broad "a pulse, a blog and a POV" definition of the term Mr. Greenwald favors, I am a "journalist".  And and every so often when I have occasion to dig through my archives I find that about 1/3 of all the YouTube videos I have ever posted to supplement your consumer experience have been sent to the digital cornfield to copyright violations or account cancellation or whatever.  And until today I have never considered that the imprint of the jackbooted foot of The Virtual State stomping on my throat.  

By the way, you know what of those previous jobs, that college, this blog, HyVee, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all have in common?

None of them are The State.

None of them can declare war, or arrest me or in any other way compel me to do anything that I don't consent to do.

And as inconvenient or arbitrary or stupid as I may have found some of thier policies to be I understand that just as I am free not to use YouTube or FaceBook or Twitter or Instagram or Skype or NetScape or Mosaic or Archie or Gopher or Veronica or Jughead or any of the other amazing internet geegaws that have ever been, the private companies which created these toys and tools are free to do with them what they will.  They are amenities being provided virtually for free by private companies, who keep them at my fingertips because it is currently in their best corporate interest to do so, but who could just as easily zap them out of existence because they own these amenities and I don't.

Since this is so patently and obviously true, it leads me to wonder if perhaps Mr. Greenwald isn't doing this for some other reason entirely?  If perhaps, like David Sirota and Ferguson, Mr. Greenwald isn't particularly interested in ISIS...or James Foley...or Twitter per se, but is instead laying out this elaborate, ridiculous argument (and hinging much of the rational for advancing it on the comments of a 24-year-old with a failing basic cable teevee show "If you want these companies to suppress calls for violence, as Ronan Farrow advocated...") because of a deep-seated obsession with finding a way to hang his narrow agenda like a Christmas tree ornament onto every single fucking tragedy that makes it into the headlines?

Of course, I can't read Mr. Greenwald's mind.  Yet.

But I can read his words (and even add emphasis to them):
If you want these companies to suppress calls for violence, as Ronan Farrow advocated, does that apply to all calls for violence, or only certain kinds? Should MSNBC personalities be allowed to use Twitter to advocate U.S. drone-bombing in Yemen and Somalia and justify the killing of innocent teenagers, or use Facebook to call on their government to initiate wars of aggression? How about Israelis who use Facebook to demand “vengeance” for the killing of 3 Israeli teenagers, spewing anti-Arab bigotry as they do it: should that be suppressed under this “no calls for violence” standard?

A Fox News host this week opined that all Muslims are like ISIS and can only be dealt with through “a bullet to the head”: should she, or anyone linking to her endorsement of violence (arguably genocide), be banned from Twitter and Facebook? How about Bob Beckel’s call on Fox that Julian Assange be “assassinated”: would that be allowed under Ronan Farrow’s no-calls-for-violence standard?
Finally I would be remiss if I did not point out that Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Glenn Greenwald all have at least one thing in common: nothing I say or do will affect any of them in the slightest.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Professional Left Podcast #246

ProfessionalLeft
“If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?”
-- Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time



Links:
Da' money goes here:




Thursday, August 21, 2014

Your Weekend Reading


I'll bet you haven't visited Batocchio over at the Vagabond Scholar nearly as often as you'd like, and now maybe your feeling a little guilt, maybe worrying that the crossing-guard or ushers there might recognize you ask you a buncha embarrassing questions about where ya been, and why haven't you been around and so forth.

But nothing could be further from the truth.  Batocchio has always been one of nature's noblemen and kind to all, even the lapsed and the wayward.

And lemme tell you, now would be a very good time to head over there, grab a corner booth and settle in for a nice, seven-course meal of well-researched reading.

The appetizer is free --

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


You're Intolerant of My Intolerance!

Discussions about gay marriage and other LGBT rights, as well as the recent Hobby Lobby decision with its issues of religious belief, have occasionally featured an argument that amounts to 'you're intolerant of intolerance.' Sometimes that argument appears verbatim, or almost so. For instance:
"I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach 'tolerance' that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I'm in the public square."– Kirk Cameron in 2012

"But you're saying we need to tolerate the intolerant!" — I see that objection every time I write something critical of liberaldogmatism and bigotry.To which my stock response is: Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying — because that's what liberalism is, or should be, all about. Toleration is perfectly compatible with — indeed, it presupposes — disagreement. That's why it's called tolerance and not endorsement or affirmation.
– Damon Linker in 2014
Although such arguments are often sincere, I'd contend they don't survive close scrutiny. John Holbo recently wrote a good post responding to Linker, and pieces earlier in the year from Henry Farrelldjw and Scott Lemieux (one and two) also cover the subject nicely. (The Cameron link above goes to a solid rebuttal by John Aravosis.) Here's another crack at the issue myself (cribbing from some older pieces), on the off-chance a different framework helps. Basically, I'm suggesting that the 'you're intolerant of intolerance' argument stems from a semantic disconnect, ignoring power dynamics and failing to distinguish between beliefs about personal conduct and beliefs about how the overall system should work. There's also confusion about a tolerant system (legal rights) versus public manners (social and cultural norms).
...
For the rest of this well-laid table of delights, go here.

Right now.


McArdle's Golden Elixir


How can Yakov cheat those poor people like that?
Why? What's the matter?
Well this is the furniture polish he sold yesterday.
As I wrote the other daythere are a lot of aspiring David Brookses out there trying to scale Mount Media by selling their version of Brooks' Golden Elixer; an admix of hippie slandering, lazy Villager Centrist sermonettes on what other people should be doing and massive historical revisionism

The latest used-furniture-polish-salesperson-of-the-week to carve up recent American history and serve it on a Conservative platter sushi-style is Meghan McArdle.

And as with David Brooks, there is already a thriving cottage industry of disreputable outsiders who take apart Ms. McArdle's Conservative/Libertarian Tinkertoy arguments as fast as she can build them, and I am not going to pitch my tent in their already-thriving marketplace.  However an Alert Reader sent this little gem along to me and, frankly, I could not resist it's shiny-shiny awfulness.

If you were blazing down one of our nation's highways and glanced fleetingly this headline
When Obama Beat Hillary, We All Lost
you might guess that the thrust of Ms. McArdle's latest contribution to American Journalism had something to do with former Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama.

But you would be wrong.

Sure that's what the label on the Ms. McArdle's Golden Elixir says, and Ms. McArdle makes a few, weak gestures in the direction of what she calls "counterfactuals" (because that sounds nice and economisty) --
One of my favorite members of this genre is the counterfactual: Would Hitler have won World War II if he had left Russia alone? Would Medicare exist if JFK had lived?...
and which every other literate would refer to as the Alternate History subgenre of science fiction:

Would WWII have ended differently if FDR had been assassinated?

Possibly.

Would the Confederacy have won the Civil War if they have been armed with modern weapons?

Possibly.

And a fan-favorite, would Megan McArdle have a job that involved being paid to put her terrible opinions down on paper if the Koch Brothers were just a couple of loud-mouth shoe salesmen from Wichita?

Probably not (from The Daily Exile):

S.H.A.M.E. just published a brand new shill profile. Its latest subject: Megan McArdle, who was just hired on this September as Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s “special correspondent on economics, business and public policy.” In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s her in the image above, beaming with joy as Charles Koch’s party clown-for-hire at the 50th anniversary bash of Koch’s flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies. But more on that later. . .
McArdle should be very familiar to eXiled readers. Many of you probably first learned of McArdle’s existence more than three years ago, when she led a smear campaign from her perch at the Atlantic to discredit the first media investigative piece exposing the Tea Party as an Astroturf campaign funded by the Kochs and FreedomWorks, written by eXiled editors Mark Ames and Yasha Levine and published in Playboy in February, 2009. 
...
Which is why, whatever hamfisted tale tale of alternate history Ms. McArdle might be trying to spin in the second half of this abomination --
...
Of course, in my counterfactual, Hillary also probably wouldn’t have proposed ambitious health-care reform; she’d have done something more modest, like a Medicaid expansion. Progressives might well say that they’d rather have the first two years of the Obama administration, followed by gridlock, than steadier but more modest achievements by a Hillary Clinton administration. And that doesn’t even get us into foreign policy, where the differences were deeper and more passionate.

To my mind, however, that would have been a much better outcome for everyone. So there’s my counterfactual for the summer: If Hillary Clinton had won, Obamacare wouldn’t have happened, and Democrats -- and the country -- would be better off.
-- like David Brooks, her real agenda -- rewriting history to remove any mention of the lunatic and often racist Republican base and the Brain Caste of the Conservative Movement who spent 40 years and billions of dollars breeding and launching them -- clearly evident in the first half of this abomination:
... I think liberals really do not understand emotionally the extent to which the Tea Party was created by the Affordable Care Act and the feeling that its government was simply steamrolling it. From the Tea Party's perspective, you had an unpopular program that should have died in the same way, and for the same reasons, that Social Security privatization did...
 Except, of course, there is no fucking "Tea Party".  The "Tea Party" has never been anything other than a fabulous, tea-baggulous "Bush-Off Machine funded by the Koch Brothers and relentlessly pimped by Fox News. As I wrote back in 2009 and as has been born out over and over again in every poll ever taken of the "Tea Party"
...
Most newly minted “independents” seem to be little more than Republicans who are fleeing the scene of their crime, but at the same time still desperately want believe in the inerrant wisdom of Rush Limbaugh. They are completely incapable of facing the horrifying reality that they have gotten every single major political opinion and decision of their adult lives completely wrong, so instead they double-down on their hatred of women and/or gays and/or brown people and/or Liberals, and blame them for the miserable fuckpit their leaders and their policies have made of their live and futures.

Like German soldiers after the fall of Berlin, they have stopped running away from the catastrophe they created only long enough to burn their uniforms.

But they fool no one.

Except, apparently, David Fucking Brooks.
And, obviously, Megan McArdle, who continues her Brooksian exercise in revisionism as follows
The [Tea Party] rage was similar to what progressives felt as they watched George W. Bush push the country into a war in Iraq...
See!  

See!  

Neener-neener Both Sides! 

Never mind the transparent idiocy of the argument.  Never mind that Bush lied us into that war.  Never mind that Liberals never sabotage the country or shut down the government out of pique.  Never mind that Liberals never unleashed a tide of bogus Congressional witchhunts to try to destroy Bush.  Never mind that Liberal rage was based on actual reality, and Tea Party rage is based on crackpot conspiracies hauled out from under Crazy Uncle Liberty's bed and repeated as fact 24/7/365 on Hate Radio and Fox News coast to coast at 150 decibels.

Never mind any of that because the Teabaggers iz mad, and the Libruls wuz mad, ergo Both Sides, because statistics!

And yes, Ms. McArdle actually got paid to write that.

And speaking of Ms. McArdle, here she is heroically defending her Sugar Daddies without invoking their names:
Liberals tend to write off this anger as racism, as irrational hatred of Barack Obama, or as perverse joy in denying health care to the poor, but at its root, it’s the simpler feeling that your country is making a mistake and you can’t stop it because the people in charge are ignoring the obvious. Yes, a lot of money and energy was poured into the Tea Party by rich backers, but rich backers cannot create a grassroots campaign unless the underlying passion is there in the voters (paging Karl Rove and Crossroads). The Obama administration created that passion with Obamacare.
A statement one might accept as true if one were born in, say, 1948.
And then taught to read but kept in complete isolation until the age of eight or nine.
And then put into stasis until, say, a month ago.
Then decanted and given nothing to read but the National Review, the collected work of Ann Coulter and this column by Megan McArdle.

At which point, yes, you could be excused for not laughing this excrement right off the page.

But for for the rest of us, this is just plain hilarious.  Or would be hilarious if it were coming via email in 144 point Railroad Font from Crazy Uncle Liberty.  Or even from his wife, Batty Aunt Freedumb.   But for anyone with even the dimmest memory of the Clinton Administration, McArdle's infantile attempt to flick away the mountain of evidence of the GOP's pre-existing predilection for berserk, paranoid, crackpot-billionaire-funded campaigns to delegitimize and destroy Democratic Presidents --
That’s not to say that Republicans would have somehow been all kissy-kissy with Clinton -- they weren’t very nice to her husband, after all.
-- is nothing short of contemptible.

An even if her active political memory does not extend all the way back to the Age of Clinton, there is absolutely no excuse other than rank Brooksian fraud for Ms. McArdle to so deliberately mutilate the early days of the Obama Administration to fit her narrow, ideological agenda, especially when Jon Stewart is still around on The Internets to helpfully remind us of just how completely fucking unhinged the Right was right from the start:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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If Ms. McArdle has learned one thing from the Koch Brothers, it is never to tell a little lie when a Great Big Lie will do.  So congratulations Megan!  I'm sure you have a bright future waiting for you at the New York Times once David Brooks has an attack of conscience and decides to give up his column so he can just walk the Earth having adventures.

Like Caine from Kung Fu (Not Safe For Work):

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

David Brooks 101



There are a lot of aspiring David Brookses out there trying to scale Mount Media following the recipe (an admix of hippie slandering, lazy Villager Centrist sermonettes on what other people should be doing and massive historical revisionism) which Mr. Brooks has helped to perfect. But as any student of Brooksianism can tell you, it takes years of diligent study and practice to master the art of sharting all over observable public reality while keeping a very large stick up your ass, and nearly as long to learn to humbly preach the virtues of bravery, civic responsibility and integrity while cowering behind a mile-high wall of privilege, money and clout.

It is a long and crowded road to the top of Mount Media, and any trick one can glean from the maestro is always appreciated, which is why every time Mr. Brooks releases an update to his "Villager Knob Gobbling For Dummies" curriculum, y'all need to sit up and take notice.

Such as Friday.

On Friday Mr. Brooks delivered a twofer:  a Lesson in Laziness and a mini-master class on his One Weird Trick to Writing Successful Whig Fan Fiction.

First the epic, lazy bit, which was ably covered by Heather at Crooks and Liars:
DAVID BROOKS: I hope there is somebody in my paper investigating why the militarization happened. Were there contracts involved, somebody was getting — making a lot of money selling this equipment to police forces?
Wow.

You may not know it. but David Brooks started off his career as a beat reporter -- a crime reporter -- in Chicago.  So he knows how to ask questions and take notes.  Now, 30 years later, (as I wrote last week) ."David Brooks can never never be fired, can write about anything he pleases as often as he pleases, job out the task of reading his hate mail to interns, lecture at colleges, Aspen or TED whenever he chooses, speak to large audiences every week on PBS and NPR, drop in on Meet the Press as the mood takes him and has the bottomless pockets of the New York Times at his disposal. In other words, he enjoys all the power the Beltway media world has to offer, and needs to worry about none of the consequences of using it."


And once again, David Brooks uses yet another gaping hole in our ship of state to demonstrated to the rest of the class the beauty of being David Brooks:

...
Of course the beauty of being David Brooks is that once you, David Brooks, have identified a problem -- especially a very large problem which your own Conservatism had a very big hand in creating --  you, David Brooks, need never be shy about stepping right up and insisting that someone other than David Brooks really needs to get in there and fix it. 

Whether it's fighting and dying in Mr. Brooks' Great Patriotic Wars or triaging the various follow-on catastrophes which his Great Patriotic Wars created or bearing the brunt of his crackpot economic schemes or being the guinea pig for one of his little social engineering experiments in character building -- you can always count on David Brooks to demand someone else get in there and do the hard, heavy lifting, because cleaning up another one of Conservatism's messes is a crappy job for other people.

His job, as David Brooks, is to sit on his ass sipping an indifferent chardonnay and spouting helpful suggestions about Humility and Character and National Greatness.
...



So that's the Lesson in Laziness, which for most instructors would be enough.  But not David Brooks.  This time he goes that extra mile to show his acolytes how to make decades of unsightly modern history magically disappear!

Watch closely...
DAVID BROOKS: ... As for the larger political thing, it’s almost unanimous. You look across left, right and center, people think it’s overreacting what happened in the nights subsequently. And that’s, a libertarian suspicion of really forceful and violent government. Liberals tend to I guess be suspicious of police power, especially against minority communities.

But for conservatives and especially traditional conservatives, there’s a community thing going on here. The traditional conservatives, led by a thinker named James Q. Wilson, many years ago, was to believe in community policing, getting cops out of cop cars and actually interacting with the locals.

And so that’s the traditional conservative position, that you don’t want to erect walls...
Did you catch that?

By skipping completely over actual Conservatives as they exist here and now in their tens of millions and instead shifting automatically into Whig Fan Fiction mode to opine fartily about an exotic and virtually extinct species called "traditional conservatives", Mr. Brooks once again simply snipped out a big festering hunk of modern history that makes him look like a lying hack so that he could run a variation on his usual "Both Sides" scam and pretend that, on the subject of Ferguson, MO, there was virtual unanimity "across left, right and center."

To her credit, Ruth Marcus very gingerly pointed out that, no, there was actually a very clear split on the Right between between Rand Paul and pretty much everyone else in the GOP:
RUTH MARCUS:  And so I think that to the extent there is this blurring of kind of liberal-libertarian lines, it’s a piece of a very interesting strain within the party. And I think you are a little bit underselling it, David, because there is this tough-on-crime aspect to your party.
And because she had the bad taste to remind the audience that the Republican Party is, in fact, David Brooks' Party, thing got very uncomfortable there for a minute:
DAVID BROOKS: My party?

([Incredibly uncomfortable] LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS (The PBS transcript does not have this but the video clearly shows this is what Mr. Brooks' says next)::   Who are you calling "we" Kemosabe?

(LAUGHTER)

RUTH MARCUS: I’m sorry. I’ll take that back.

RUTH MARCUS: You know, when we’re done, we can hug it out.

(LAUGHTER)

HARI SREENIVASAN: We will get to that in a minute. All right.

RUTH MARCUS: But in any event, Rand Paul’s views on things like marijuana legalization, on same-sex marriage, on other issues that might attract, bring — not to David’s party, but to the Republican Party, to attract some younger voters, I think is a very interesting thing that my colleague Dan Balz did point out in The Washington Post this morning.

DAVID BROOKS: I would just say, Mr. Republican, I have my mace and my shield and my armored vehicle afterwards.

(LAUGHTER)
...
Any malfunctioning institution which devotes this amount of energy and effort making sure that nobody ever speaks openly about the painfully obvious source of its dysfunction is broken beyond repair.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Senegoid

baron

Diogenes of Sinope, as I'm sure you clever dogs know, is most famous for walking around with a lamp in broad daylight. And while, personally, such naked, public, prop-driven straight-line begging has always seemed to me more Susquehanna Hat Company than Soren Kierkegaard, Diogenes is nonetheless remembered 2400 years later as explaining that he was "looking for an honest man".

So, nice story.

But what to do about Diogenes' opposite?  What to do about the Senegoid's among us? Those who devote enormous resources seeking far and wide, looking for amoral teevee-friendly monsters for the expressed purpose of giving them the largest platform possible to tell the most despicable lies imaginable?

Media Matters reminds us that the reason Roger Ailes put lying scumbag Sean Hannity in front of a teevee camera in the first place is precisely because Hannity had already built an impressive lying scumbag resume on local college radio:
...
In his new book The Loudest Voice in the Room, New York magazine journalist Gabriel Sherman describes the start of Sean Hannity's career as a conservative radio personality, beginning with an hour-long morning call-in show at KCSB, the UC Santa Barbara college station. The short-lived show was canceled in 1989 after Hannity made a number of extreme anti-gay remarks during a segment featuring Gene Antonio, author of the book The AIDS Cover-up? The Real and Alarming Facts About AIDS. According to Sherman:
In April 1989, Hannity invited the virulent anti-gay activist Gene Antonio on the air to promote his already widely discredited book, The AIDS Cover-up? The Real and Alarming Facts About AIDS. A Lutheran minister without scientific training, Antonio peddled paranoid fictions about the epidemic. He wrote that the virus could be transmitted by sneezes and mosquito bites and that the Centers for Disease Control and the American Medical Association conspired to cover up the "truth." At the opening of his hour-long interview, Hannity said: "I'm sick and tired of the media and the homosexual community preventing us from getting the true, accurate information about AIDS in this day." He went on to describe The AIDS Cover-up? as an "excellent book" that was "so full of facts" and added, "if you want the real truth about this deadly, deadly disease, he's not afraid to say what the homosexuals don't want you to hear." He gave his audience Antonio's mailing address, where they could order "autographed copies" and write to find out about "places where homosexuals can go for help if they want to change." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 239]
Decades ago Roger Ailes made it his mission in life to aim the biggest gun he could lay his hands on right at the heart of American democracy and fire and fire and fire until it was dead.

Happy (Almost) 40th Anniversary to Chico and the Man



Thank goodness all of the racial problems that beset us during the 1970s are far behind us now.

And a sad reminder that, no matter your station in life or your degree of material success, when depression comes it can hit like a sniper.