Friday, October 20, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

You Can Be A Good American, Or You Can Be A Good Republican

But you can no longer be both.

I wrote that many years ago as part of my own version of the Seven Things so monstrous and obscene that you may never, ever, ever say them on teevee ("On Shouting Fuck".)

Let's check in and see how I did!
1. Joe Lieberman was and is a lying, warmongering weasel.

2. They don't hate us for our freedom.

3. Our democracy is a gutshot mess, and the GOP is holding gun.

4. The prime directive of our media is to scare us, flatter us and lobotomize us into giving our money to corporations in exchange for crap that makes us sick.

5. A disturbingly large number of our fellow citizens are jaw-droppingly stupid and/or intractably bigoted.

6. Genuine Christianity's worst enemies are Conservative Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians.

7. You can be a good American or you can be a good Republican, but you can no longer be both.

These define the circumference of the wholly-artificial Obscenity Perimeter the Media Villagers have invented to keep scary rabble from getting in front of a camera and making wee-wee in their mojitos.
Still true.

Still almost entirely verboten on the teevee machine.

And so it goes.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hey, What Ever Happened to that Glenn Greenwald Fella?

You know, that guy who I used to write about from time to time and point out that he lied kind of a lot about really big, important issues?  Bit of a thin-skinned asshole and monumental hypocrite whose automatic response to any criticism from anyone was all-out, knives-out attack?  Who divided the world neatly into "People who agree completely with Glenn Greenwald" and "Drooling, jackbooted Obot servants of tyranny?"

Yeah, last I saw him he was stooging over on Fox News with his BFF, Tucker Carlson:

But hey, at least Trumpshirts like Jim "Namaste; Put your best foot forward; Beware the Left/Dems; Hope, Faith, Love, Redemption; USN Vet #MAGA #1A #2A #BlueLivesMatter" Manchu --
-- thinks he's not so bad.

For a leftie.

So he's got that going for him.

At this point, a lesser man would probably say something like "I fucking told you so".

And when have I ever pretended to be anything other than a lesser man?

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Meet America's New Ambassador to the Vatican

Mrs. Tiffany Homewrecker nee Jizzbucket Callista Gingrich.

Meanwhile, her purveyor, Newton Leroy "Definer of civilization. Teacher of the Rules of Civilization Arouser of those who Fan Civilization Organizer" Gingrich, was apparently spending a little of the pin money he picked up for excreting a steaming log of prose called "Understanding Trump" on jug wine* and Quaaludes.

Because nothing means anything anymore.

*Thanks for the catch.

David Brooks: Rotting Down The Bones*


Seven years and several lifetimes ago, I raided the Elite Pundit's inner sanctum and vouchsafed to you, dear reader, the secrets of the temple I found therein.   Specifically. I explained in ten short rules exactly how to write a David Brooks column in a post I cleverly entitled "How To Write a David Brooks Column".   And since the final five rules were as follows --
6) Rinse and repeat. No matter what the subject, no matter how false or bizarre the equivalence, just rinse and repeat. Twice a week.

7) Every week.

8) Year.

9) After year.

10) After year.
-- I thought today would be an excellent opportunity to see how well the first five rules still hold up all these years later.

Rule 1:  Pick a subject. Any subject. From Tasseled Loafers to Torture, it literally does not matter.

Upswingers and Downswingers
The popular gloom notwithstanding, we’re actually living in an era of astounding progress...

Progress is real, but of course it doesn’t happen in a straight line. Often it happens in what Ruth DeFries calls the ratchet, hatchet, pivot, ratchet manner.
Rule 2:  Quote extensively from one person or group on the subject. It's OK to just more-or-less copy and paste in big hunks of what whatever-you-happen-to-be-reading-at-the-moment to flesh out your 800-word column. Here at the Times we call that "research"! (Note:  Mr. Brooks has slacked off the "quoting people" quite a lot stuff in recent years, often preferring to just make things up out of thin air based on his need for those things to exist to flesh out his Both Siderist column du jour):
During the mid-20th century the West developed a group-oriented culture to deal with the Great Depression and the World Wars. Its motto could have been “We’re in this together.
Rule 3:  Quote from some other person or group on the same subject who appears to hold a different opinion. If no actual opposition exists, just put on your Magic Green Jacket and invent an opposing opinion.
That became too conformist and stultifying. A new individualistic culture emerged (pivot) whose motto could have been “I’m free to be myself.” That was great for a time, but excessive individualism has left society too fragmented, isolated and divided (hatchet). Something new is needed.
Rule 4:   ...try to impute these fictional distinctions to the different hemispheres of the political Universe. So no matter how bigoted, reckless or just bugfuck crazy the Right behaves, you just go right ahead and blandly assert with no supporting evidence whatsoever that the Left is equally and oppositely bad in exactly the same qualities and quantities. Here at the Times we call that "seriousness"!  (Note: emphasis added)
Politics during the hatchet phase gets nasty. It tends to devolve into a fight between upswingers and downswingers. (I’m adapting the words from a deceased Iranian-American futurist who called himself FM-2030.) Upswingers believe in progress and feel that society is still fitfully moving upward. Downswingers have lost faith in progress and feel everything is broken.

Both right and left are dividing into upswinger and downswinger camps...

Among Republicans the upswingers embrace capitalist dynamism, global engagement and the open movement of people and ideas. The downswingers embrace ethnic and national cohesion and closed borders.

On the left it’s between those who believe the only realistic path is to reform existing structures and those who think they are so broken we need to start over.

The downswinger mind-set is similar across left and right. Because of the loss of faith in progress downswingers have a baseline mood of pessimism, protest and anger. They are marked by a deep social distrust and a bent toward conspiracy thinking. They disrespect codes of etiquette that traditionally regulate public life and crack down on opposing speech.

Politics gets nasty in these “hatchet” periods because downswingers have a tropism toward ethnic and identity politics...

Politics also gets nasty in these periods because personal grievance gets intermingled with social grievance...
Rule 5:  Discover in your final paragraph or two that -- amazingly! -- the precise midpoint between those two completely artificial positions on an imaginary spectrum just happens to be exactly the Right and Reasonable answer!
There are moments when society goes into decline. But there are many, many more transitional moments when some people just think society is in decline, when it’s really in a bumpy pivot. This is such a moment. It gets better.
In case you don't remember what was going on way back when I stole the Secret Formula to David Brooks' Success and shared it with the world, seven years and several lifetimes ago...

...the GOP was in full-tilt hysteria mode over the birth certificate of Barack Obama -- a "movement" which would become the racist rocket fuel powering the political rise of a crackpot New York real estate con man named Donald J. Trump...

...despite mountains of fact-checking, "Obama Death Panels Are Gonna Kill Your Sainted White Grandma" was still a thing because Republican voters are reprogrammable meatbags...

...New York Times' bold, new wingnut affirmative action hire and Emergency Backup David Brooks, Cardinal Ross Douthat, was boldly predicted a Return to Normalcy
A Return to Normalcy
The Republican midterm sweep delivered the coup de grâce to the liberal fantasy by dramatically foreshortening what many pundits expected to be an enduring Democratic majority. But it also dropped a lid, at least temporarily, on the conservative freakout. (It’s hard to fret that much about the supposed Kenyan-Marxist radical in the White House when anything he accomplishes has to be co-signed by John Boehner
This return to normalcy is good news for fans of bipartisan comity and centrism for centrism’s sake. And it might be good news for the country. In the end, some sort of bipartisanship will be required to pull America back from the fiscal precipice, and the productivity of this lame-duck December shows that cooperation between the two parties isn’t as impossible as it seemed just a few months ago...

...the unhinged racist ravings of Glenn Beck were a big thing...

...and mainstream media hacks and Republican collaborators were still giddily, knee-walking drunk on the delusion that the "Tea Party" was some brand new, grass-roots movement of previously-politically uninvolved Real Murricans, instead of the Koch-funded Republican rebranding scam that everyone on the Left knew it to be.

And seven years and several lifetimes ago I also wrote this ("The Persistence of Mediocrity"):

If he were just another local oaf, I wouldn't much care what he was up to, but by no virtue other than where he sits, Mr. Brooks falls into a very small category of multimedia bullshit force-multipliers, and so instead of just fouling his own nest, his words directly influence what a billion Chinese think of our country.

DFB casts a long and terrible shadow which deserves rebuttal.
And I have a strong, sad feeling that seven years from now, if I'm still behind this keyboard, I will be able to write exactly the same god damn thing.

* A reference to Natalie Goldberg's most excellent "Writing Down the Bones"

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Worst Man

In an open, public process that lasted over two years, the Republican Party consciously and deliberately nominated and then elected a perfect specimen of their tribe.  And since the day he was elected the the highest office in the land. President Stupid has returned the favor by acting as the perfect avatar of his Republican base.

Just like Trump, the base does not respond to reason or facts.  Just like Trump, they lie constantly, maliciously, shamelessly and incompetently.

Just like Trump, they have no memory of anything before breakfast.  Just like Trump, they are consistently unable to comprehend basic human morality.  And just like Trump, since they are completely convinced of their invincible infallibility on all matters,  they gleefully mock the idea of compassion and believe that compromise with anyone outside of their seditious little circle is tantamount to treason.  

Through their Dear Leader, they are working hard to finish the project at which they have labored for decades -- rolling back the Enlightenment and wrecking this country beyond repair.

And unless they and their allies and collaborators are aggressively named and shamed and driven back into the political sewers from which they came, thanks to this disaster of a president, they will succeed. 

* Graphic and quote are both from "The Best Man", 1964.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Q: Where the fuck have these people been for the last few decades?

A: Running Republican political campaigns and hiring themselves out to major American teevee networks as political analysts.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Today on Goooood Morning Oceania!

Without constant firmware updates like these the reprogrammable meatbags of the Right would never be sure who they were supposed to be hating on any given day.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

Since the Sunday Shows were the same fawning, repetitive puppet theater of trite, played-out nonsense they have consistently been year after year after year --

-- I going to jump back in time.

To Friday.

For this absolutely textbook example of how completely the biggest and most corrosive lie of all -- the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It -- has polluted out nation's political groundwater.

(And, as I confirm anecdotally every single day out here in the middle of Middle America, when talking to any Republican or Conservative about anything remotely related to the subject of "political accountability" the interval between the first words out of your mouth and a mindless, fully-automated riposte of "Yeah, but really, it's Both Sides.  Yadda yadda what mainstream Murricans really want... Yadda yadda Coastal Elites..." can be measured in nanoseconds.)

Behold how utterly the Beltway Republican Alibi Machine has destroyed our ability to have an honest, grownup political conversation about anything with anyone on the Right...

Rush transcript thanks to the lovely and brilliant Blue Gal, with highlights added to attract your eye:

​CHRIS HAYES:  Tom Reed is a Republican from New York who voted for the House bill to replace Obamacare. How does stopping the payments make anyone's lives better when we know it will make people's lives worse?

REP TOM REED:  Well, first of all, these are illegal payments. It has been ruled by the courts they are illegal. They are not in the law, they are unauthorized by the executive branch and what the president has done is put the pressure on Congress to deal with this problem and I'm part of 46 members on both sides of the aisle that put together a proposal that will address this issue of the destabilizing of the marketplace.

HAYES:  So just to go back for a second. A federal judge had ruled that the -- the payments were not appropriated by Congress. But he stayed that pending appeal. So just to acknowledge, this is an affirmative decision by the president he is under no obligation to do this and he is choosing to do this and explicitly, he is taking people's health care ransom.

REED:  And these payments are not authorized and we have to go through congressional process to get it paid and the president is following the law and we're elected to fix this problem.

HAYES:  This is the thing that drives people crazy. It is 266 days -- there is nothing in a has passed --

REED:  Because we have been playing shirts and skins, us versus them.  Enough -- enough of -- that's why I'm in the Problem Solvers Saucus...

HAYES:  I know from your the Problem Solvers Caucus but people in Oregon that said their premium is going up and across the country --

REED: And I've been seeing those notices for years and the lack of choice across the country.  This is a problem.

HAYES:  I know that. But this is gone up more over and above, it is not just the same thing. Yesterday the premiums were one thing and today they are 15 or 20% higher. So you have a complaint from those people getting the bills in the mail where you guys, Republicans, in Congress-- which controls all three branches of government-- can't solve the problem without making them pay more money out of -- pocket.

REED:  This is not about Republicans, this is about Congress. Democrats and Republicans solving this problem. For the people we represent. --

HAYES:  Congressman, you control --

REED:  --appreciate the people in the Problem Solvers leading on this issue.

HAYES:  But you are not leading!

REED:  Yes, we are.

HAYES:  But I hate to tell you

REED:  -- it is 80% victory on both sides of the aisle to come forward to solve the health care problem...

HAYES:  If you were leading and "solving the problems" was happening we wouldn't be in a position where people are getting notices from insurance companies saying your premiums are going up.

REED:  And that is why the extremes on both sides and right and left putting us in this gridlock positions have to be broken. We are part of the effort to do this.

HAYES:  Congressman, the President of the United States took this action today. I feel like we're -- we're not acknowledging that. The president took an action today. It was an action he had not taken before and an action that he didn't have to take as evidenced by the fact that it took him 266 days to take it. So why is it the case that people should have worse health care or pay more money for it, because Congress, and the Republican Party in particular, which controls Congress, cannot fix their health care?

REED:  I think you nailed it right there. Congress needs to act to fix this problem. And that is where it rests and I fully take that -- that path in order to solve this -- it will take legislation working together to get things done.

HAYES:  So here is a proposal, a lot of people in your party do not like long legislation, one of the knocks on the ACA. You could find a three or four lines appropriation bill to appropriate the bill to the floor tomorrow. Can do you that?

REED:  That will not fix the whole problem. We could start with the marketplace --

HAYES:  But it is a problem!

REED:  Repeal the employer mandate up to 500 employees and pay for it in reimbursement that will drive health care costs down and you have a solution to build off of and find a foundation to grow.

HAYES:  I hope you have success in Congress forestalling the disaster and we have you back on the program. But..

REED:  -- I'm working for it.

HAYES:  But forgive me for sharing the skepticism of a lot of Americans.

REED:  I appreciate that. There are many that want to get this done for the American people.

HAYES:  We'll see. ...
It's as if they made a word cloud of every single shitty column David Brooks has written since 2005.

Creamed off the top five percent.

Liquefied it.

Added the extract of Matthew Dowd's pineal gland. Ron Founier's toe-jam and the ashes of David Broder.

And then passed it around the Beltway like a bottle of Boone's Farm at a drive-in movie.

And lest you think this is some recent Republican Trump-deflecting innovation, allow me to direct your attention to this amazing performance by Little Marco Rubio back in 2012 when he got locked into a recursive dumbass coding loop and literally could not stop replying to every fucking question with the same stupid answer (despite a million angry emails, the embed code Comedy Central uses still auto-starts all videos, which I hate, so here is a link to the video if you want to see it, and here is some of what I wrote about it back in 2012):
In case you missed Jon Stewart's award-verging "interview" with Marco Rubio, here is your rush transcript of Senator Rubio's answer to Jon Stewart every single time Mr. Stewart tried very respectfully to point out that Senator Rubio was, um, lying, and that the relentless, pathological obstructiveness of the Republican Party was unmatched by anything Democrats have done in modern history.
"Both sides..."

"Well, you know, both sides..."

"Both Democrats and Republicans..."

"That's just politics..."

"The Democrats left us no choice..."

"Both sides..."

"Democrats and Republicans..."

"Both sides..."

"Both Democrats and Republicans..."
And so forth, to the point of being comical...

To repeat the same point I have made thousands of times already, Both Siderism is the crutch that holds up the Right.

Knock it down, and the Right begins to collapse.  Let it stand and nothing will ever change except for the worse.

It's that simple.


Behold, a Tip Jar!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

David Brooks Says Trump's "Sabotage and Fuck You" EO Might Turn Out Great For Everybody

Every now and then a nondescript little man from Wingnut Central Command shows up at Mr. David Brooks' door to remind him that it is time once again to renew his Conservative credentials.  It is a brief but critical ritual upon which Mr. Brooks' entire professional life literally depends.  After all,  it isn't the word "American" or "author" or "political and cultural commentator" in his CV that The New York Times shells out crazy money to slap on it's op-ed page every week:
David Brooks is a conservative American author as well as political and cultural commentator who writes for The New York Times.
It's the word "conservative" they're renting.  It is the word "conservative" which has given Mr. Brooks entree to the  corridors of power, gigs on NPR, PBS and NBC, book contracts and a job-for-life at the NYT which pays for Mr. Brooks' various hearths and homes and travels and book tours.

So every now and then he needs to get his "conservative" card punched again.  And of course, given the nature of Conservatism, this means he needs to say something horrible and blatantly untrue in some public forum somewhere.  This time around, the forum was The News Hour, and the horrible and blatantly untrue thing was this:
On health care, they are dismantling it. There will be a period of disruption. But what was interesting to me about the CBO analysis of what they’re doing, after this period of disruption, there will be more people insured, not less. So it won’t look like Obamacare, but as the markets respond, there is a possibility that more people will be insured.

And so it’s not a simple, oh, we’re just tearing everything apart
Mr. Brooks lives on another planet and no one on his world wants for necessities of life.  No one in his social circle will ever be affected personally by anything Donald Trump does (except for those yummy yummy tax cuts for the wealthy) and so there is no need for Mr. Brooks to trouble himself by learn anything about how, say, insurance works.  For those of you with longer memories, you might recall how remarkably similar this sounds to Mr. Brooks' equally blase approach to the policies of the last Ambulatory  Fuckup Generator that his party installed in the White House.

Behold the inerrant economic wisdom of Mr. David Fucking Brooks!

David Brooks from March 2001
Yes, There Is a New Economy

In other words, if you wade through the economic literature, it's hard not to agree with the Cleveland Fed's Jerry Jordan: We are living at a once-in-a-generation moment of economic opportunity. As productivity grows, the economy will grow. As the economy grows, revenues will grow, maybe beyond what the CBO projects. The real question about the Bush tax cuts, then, is not, Can we afford them? The real question is, Why are they so small?
David Brooks, September 2001
The New Stupid Party

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

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

The Democratic party proceeded to work itself up into a collective aneurysm. Dick Gephardt—who, when given the chance to play the demagogue, never goes halfway—said that the United States now faces "an alarming fiscal crisis." Democratic national chairman Terry McAuliffe said on Face the Nation that it had taken Bill Clinton eight years to build up the surplus, but Bush was able to "blow it in eight months." Other Democrats rose up en masse to declare that the Bush administration was going to bankrupt Social Security/the federal government/western civilization because the administration was going to have to "raid the Social Security trust fund...
I could go on at much greater length,  but since I already have, I see no reason to repeat the exercise.  It is sufficient to say that even the most cursory glance at Mr. Brooks actual record as a Conservative Public Intellectual shows three things.

First,  judging by any objective standard, Mr. Brooks is a colossal failure at Having Opinions about Things.

Second, given his long record of failure at Having Opinions about Things, by any objective standards, it is insane that he continues to reap lavish financial rewards and peer-group respect that are clearly unrelated in any way to his actual job performance.

Third, no one talks about it. Seriously.  Other than a few asshole Libtard bloggers in flyover country, no one talks about this.  And the conspicuous uniformity with which no one talks about this is what makes it so damn eerie [See "The Adventure of Silver Blaze"
Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."]

And the reason for this is, I think, really very simple.

The corporations who run our media don't give a shit about any of this stuff.  Truth?  Falsity? Depravity?  The casual, sadistic infliction of harm on millions of Americans?  It does not affect them at all.  Just grist for the media mill.  What they do care about, deeply, is controlling the narrative.  Specifically, the narrative that Both Sides are to blame for every problem.  And so, to keep selling that corrosive and patently ridiculous narrative, they need Reasonable Conservatives they can plug into any medium.  They need reliable deacons of the  High and Holy Church of Both Siderism who can hit their marks and deliver the doxology of their toxic faith on any platform.

In other words, the need people exactly like Mr. David Brooks.

And to be of value to them, they need for him to keep that magical, golden word in his CV -- "conservative" -- active and up-to-date. 

And to do that, every now and then Mr. Brooks has to sally forth into the world and assert something that blatantly awful and wrong and astonishingly ignorant. 

And this he has now done.

Mission Accomplished, Mr. Brooks.

Behold, a Tip Jar!