Saturday, March 17, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Bobo Wormtongue Moment

A well-placed poisoner inside the castle is worth 10,000 troops outside the castle.
-- driftglass

As I'm sure you nerds know, in the Lord of the Rings, Gríma Wormtongue was the chief counsel to King Théoden of Rohan and a spy for Saruman the wizard.  The horsemen of Rohan were a direct threat to Saurman's plans to conquer Middle Earth on behalf of his boss, Lord Sauron, so Wormtongue's task was to cripple the kingdom of Rohan and by keeping its king under a spell of confusion and impotence.  Under the thrall of Wormtongue, the king sat decaying, blind and cobwebbed on his throne issuing orders which broke alliances, impoverished his people, exiled his most capable commanders and nearly destroyed his family.

Which brings us to Mr. David Brooks, who The New York Times has employed at considerable expense to whisper slight variations of the same, honeyed lie into the ears of its 500K daily readers twice a week, every week, for the last 14 years.

The same lie. 
The same goddamn lie. 
The same goddamn ludicrous lie. 
The same goddamn toxic treason-enabling lie. 
Over and over again. 
Week after week.  For decades.  With the Sulzberger family not just happily footing the bill for the all of it, but bolstering the ranks of these liars with the likes of Ross Douthat, Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens.

But to use Lamb’s victory as a club against “identity politics” or “cultural issues”—which, in this context, means people of color and other groups fighting against a kind of re-marginalization that seems somewhat popular among the economically insecure—is to end up in the intellectual junkyard in which we find our old pal David Brooks on Friday morning. Brooks is flailing so desperately to avoid the responsibility he and the rest of movement conservatism have for foisting a vulgar talking yam on the Republic that he drafts Lamb into his Church of the Poisoned Mind. 
There may be a different scaffolding from time to time --  a different Christmas on which Mr. Brooks can hang his shitty Both Siderist trinkets -- but the ornaments themselves never change.  The tenor and target of his lies never change.  They are lies calculated to convince the Good Guys to never stand up and fight back against the metastasizing monster that his Republican Party has devolved into.  To never raise our voices.

From Mr. Brooks today:
...Trump asked for the party’s soul, and he got it. That was the story of 2016 and 2017.

The question of 2018 is whether the Democrats will follow suit. The temptation will be strong. In any conflict the tendency is to become the mirror image of your opponent. And the Democrats are just as capable of tribalism as the Republicans, just as capable of dividing the world in self-righteous Manichaean binaries: us enlightened few against those racist many; us modern citizens against those backward gun-toting troglodytes. Listen to how Hillary Clinton spoke in Mumbai last weekend.
No, the question of 2018 is the same as the question or 2017 and 2015 and 2012 and 2009 and 2007 and 2004:  Why the wide world of sports are men like Mr. David Brooks paid astronomical salaries by once-respectable national media institutions to repeat these particular lies over and over again.

Lies that are so manifestly ridiculous.  Lies that are so easily debunked.  For example, the now-universally agreed upon Beltway lie about the origins of the disaster we are all living through.  The lie which proclaims that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Mr. Brooks' Republican Party.  That until two years ago, his party was just fine. and then somehow single, depraved person sprang fully-formed out of nowhere to seized control of all it. 

From Mr. Brooks today:
In the decades before Trump, the Republican Party stood for an idea: character before policy. To Mitt Romney, John McCain, the Bushes and Ronald Reagan, personal character and moral integrity were paramount. They stood for the idea that you can’t be a good leader or a good nation unless you are a good person and a good people.
They are lies to lull Mr. Brooks' colleagues and fellow influencers in the media into never calling out the fucking troglodyte Right for who and what they truly are in blunt, clear language -- 
Putting a higher love, like nation, over a lower love, like party. Going against yourself — feeling that urge to lash out with the low angry insult, and instead rising upward with the loving and understanding response.
-- as if the Obama Administration had never fucking happened.   As if we had not all just lived through an eight-year real-time beta test of what happens when the unending, unhinged seditious sabotage and slanders from the racist Birther/Death Panel Republican Party is countered with a bottomless well of nearly-superhuman patience, civility, and open-handedness.

What happened -- over the increasingly hysterical denials of Mr. David Brooks -- is that the Republican Party nominated, elected and stands firmly and giddily behind the anti-Obama.  A racist, pig-ignorant fire demon who, in every way, reflects exactly who and what Mr. Brooks' Republican Party always has been.

Ah, but that's the trick, isn't it?  The fact that no one but a few of us dirty hippie outcasts dares to remember that as recently as two years ago Mr, David Brooks of the New York Times was confidently writing shit like this: the most perfectly Brooksian denialist title  -- "Donald Trump Isn’t Real" -- that any of us had seen in a long time:
The amazing surge for Marco Rubio shows that the Republican electorate has not gone collectively insane.
But of course Trump was real.  Because Trump is the Republican Party and the Republican Party
is Donald Trump.  And no matter how loudly Mr. Brooks may thunder his Centrist sermons from the pulpit of the High and Holy Church of Both Side Do It, there no parity whatsoever for this on the Left. 

The disease that is killing this country is David Brooks' Republican Party.  Period.  Full stop.  And nothing on Earth scares the shit out of squirmy little Quislings like David Brooks more than the thought of this plain truth being spoken everywhere, out loud and unafraid.

To save the country the spell of Bobo Wormtongue must be broken. 

Please do what you can to break it.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Professional Left Podcast #432

"I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good."
-- Martin Luther King Jr.
Don't forget to visit our new website -- -- for all of the sweet bells and whistles:  there are links to donate to our podcast work at that site, as well as links to our swingin' Zazzle merch store,  our respective blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Kittehs! and much more. Many thanks once again to @theologop for building it all for us!

  • T

The Professional Left is brought to you by our wholly imaginary "sponsors" -- 

-- and real listeners like you!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Am David Roberts

No, I am actually not David Roberts.

But in our current words-by-Kurt-Vonnegut-music-by-Philip-K-Dick universe, it is a genuinely surreal experience to crack open a real "paper" with a paid writing staff and read things for which many of us on the Left were cast out of polite society as untouchable pariahs for saying on our dirty, hippie "blogs" not so many years ago.

From Vox:

The real problem with the New York Times op-ed page: it’s not honest about US conservatism

It wants to challenge its readers, but not with the ugly truth.

By David Roberts @drvoxdavid Mar 15, 2018, 9:30am EDT

[New York Times editorial page manager James] Bennet clearly believes liberals live in a bubble. He wants to challenge them. It still hasn’t occurred to him to challenge them from the left, so he goes out looking for more conservatives.

But what kind of conservatives are on offer at NYT?

Consider, oh, David Brooks. His conservatism, of Sam’s Club affectation, fiscal conservatism, tepid social liberalism, and genial trolling of center-leftists at Davos — whom does it speak for in today’s politics, beyond Brooks?

Or Ross Douthat. He is sporadically interesting, often infuriating, but above all, pretty idiosyncratic. His socially conservative “reformicon” thing — whom does it speak for in today’s politics, beyond Douthat?

Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss are a familiar type of glib contrarian. Their opposition to Trump has given them undue credibility among Washington lefties, whom they relentlessly (and boringly) troll. But whom are they speaking for? What has the Never Trump movement amounted to?

These writers are, to a (wo)man, alienated from the animating force in US conservatism, which is Trumpism. They command no divisions. They have nothing to do with what is going on in American politics today.

They might serve the purpose of challenging liberal thinking, but they do not serve the purpose of exposing NYT readers to the people and the movement from which they are allegedly alienated.

If Bennet wants to do that, he needs to be clear-eyed about what the right is today...

So how many of these “true” conservatives did there turn out to be? Almost none! A few intellectuals and writers have jumped ship (David Frum, Bill Kristol, George Will), but the Wall Street Journal, Fox, Breitbart, and the rest have happily adapted to acting as state media. For all intents and purposes, Trump commands the support and loyalty of the GOP coalition.

The ragged band devoted to the principles of conservative governing philosophy is in exile, with no home. It was, it turns out, almost entirely epiphenomenal to the movement; its roots were an inch deep.

So what motivates this swell of right-wing support for Trump? At this point, though many people on all sides still refuse to acknowledge it, the evidence is overwhelming: It was cultural backlash, against immigrants, minorities, uppity women, liberals, and all the other forces seen as dislodging traditional white men from their centrality in American culture.

The people who support Trump have been embedded in a hermetically sealed right-wing media bubble for so long that they only know liberals as horrific caricatures and only experience politics as a war to save white Christian culture from its sworn enemies. They are exposed to endless lies and conspiracy theories designed to keep them in a frenzy, convinced that antifa is around the corner and Sharia law is imminent.

If the New York Times wanted to expose its readers to the motive force of contemporary conservatism, that’s the kind of stuff it would run.

But let’s be real, James Bennet is not going to run that stuff in the NYT...
Obviously, I agree with almost everything in the article, because it is virtually identical to what I have been writing on my own blog every day for the past 13 years. And saying out loud (often very loud) to friends for much longer than that. 

What bothers me is where the author stopped short.  He got the "who" and the "what" right.  Screwed up on the "when" somewhat, considering that this madness has been loudly metastatizing inside the Republican Party for decades.  But I was really let down in the "why" department.  Because if the facts presented here are true -- and I certainly believe them to be -- then the indictment of The New York Times op-ed page also applies to the Washington Post op-ed page, which enthusiastically participates in the same farce.  It is also an indictment of every major network Sunday morning political show.  Every PBS political discussion program.  Every public affairs program on NPR.  And the overwhelming majority of cable news network programming. 

And so the question remains, why?  What is the motive behind a conspiracy this comprehensive to deny the existence of a calamity this huge?  And remember, this conspiracy of conspicuous and malignant silence is not being carried out by dentists or farmers or long-haul truckers.  It is being carried out by journalists: members of a professional which enjoys unique protections which the founders wrote into the Constitution so that our free press would be able to tell us the truth about what the rich and powerful are getting away with behind closed doors without far or favor.

I have my own theories derived from decades of careful observations, deduction, and refinement.  And they hold up remarkably well.

But for all of that, I'm still just some guy in a cornfield in the middle of Middle America who is not David Roberts.  I have no access to primary sources.  No friends in the business who owe me a favor or will confirm or deny my informed speculations.  There is almost no one in the media who has ever replied to an email from me and none who is ever going to spill the beans to me about exactly why the corporations who own the Beltway media have made a fetish out of protecting this particular lie at all costs.  The closest I have gotten so far is when I asked Dave Weigel at Netroots Nation why in the nine billion names of God do people in his industry media still fete Newt Gingrich like a favorite uncle and put him on teevee as if he has something to offer other than unalloyed wingnut bullshit.

Mr. Weigel laughed and laughed and walked away.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Space Farce: Days of Rumsfeld Past

It shocks me not at all that President Stupid's stupid idea du jour --
Trump introduces idea of 'Space Force' Trump introduces idea of 'Space Force'  

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said his new national security strategy recognizes that space is a theater of war, and he floated the idea of creating a Space Force, a branch of the military that would operate outside of earth's atmosphere.

"Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea," Trump told a an audience of service members at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. "We may even have a Space Force, develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force."

The president described how he'd originally coined the term as a joke, while discussing U.S. government spending and private investment in space. "I said, 'maybe we need a new force, we'll call it the Space Force,' and I was not really serious. Then I said, 'what a great idea,' maybe we'll have to do that," Trump told the crowd of Marines.

"So think of that, Space Force," Trump continued, "because we are spending a lot and we have a lot of private money coming in, tremendous. You saw what happened the other day, and tremendous success. From the very beginning, many of our astronauts have been soldiers and air men, coast guard men and marines. And our service members will be vital to ensuring America continues to lead the way into the stars."
-- is virtually identical to one of Donald Rumsfeld's stupidest ideas from the darkest days of the Age of Bush.

Did I write about it way back then?

Don Rumsfeld has seen The Future -- and "Smoking Rockets, Commander!" and it looks just like this.

The citations from the NYT in this post run long. I’ve excerpted it, but I use this blog a lot for my own notes and virtual-memory-dump as well as nattering on about stuff, and there are a lot of salient details that I did not want to get lost. So as with the rest of the online universe, scroll past whatever you’d like, but for me, stories like this really trip my trigger, and the specific details are what make it come alive.

Air Force Seeks Bush's Approval for Space Weapons Programs

Published: May 18, 2005 
The Air Force, saying it must secure space to protect the nation from attack, is seeking President Bush's approval of a national-security directive that could move the United States closer to fielding offensive and defensive space weapons, according to White House and Air Force officials.
The proposed change would be a substantial shift in American policy. It would almost certainly be opposed by many American allies and potential enemies, who have said it may create an arms race in space.
Any deployment of space weapons would face financial, technological, political and diplomatic hurdles, although no treaty or law bans Washington from putting weapons in space, barring weapons of mass destruction.
A presidential directive is expected within weeks, said the senior administration official, who is involved with space policy and insisted that he not be identified because the directive is still under final review and the White House has not disclosed its details.
With little public debate, the Pentagon has already spent billions of dollars developing space weapons and preparing plans to deploy them. 
"We haven't reached the point of strafing and bombing from space," Pete Teets, who stepped down last month as the acting secretary of the Air Force, told a space warfare symposium last year. "Nonetheless, we are thinking about those possibilities." 
In January 2001, a commission led by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the newly nominated defense secretary, recommended that the military should "ensure that the president will have the option to deploy weapons in space." 
It said that "explicit national security guidance and defense policy is needed to direct development of doctrine, concepts of operations and capabilities for space, including weapons systems that operate in space."
In 2002, after weighing the report of the Rumsfeld space commission, President Bush withdrew from the 30-year-old Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which banned space-based weapons.
The Air Force believes "we must establish and maintain space superiority," Gen. Lance Lord, who leads the Air Force Space Command, told Congress recently. "Simply put, it's the American way of fighting." Air Force doctrine defines space superiority as "freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack" in space. 
The mission will require new weapons, new space satellites, new ways of doing battle and, by some estimates, hundreds of billions of dollars. It faces enormous technological obstacles. And many of the nation's allies object to the idea that space is an American frontier.
A new Air Force strategy, Global Strike, calls for a military space plane carrying precision-guided weapons armed with a half-ton of munitions. General Lord told Congress last month that Global Strike would be "an incredible capability" to destroy command centers or missile bases "anywhere in the world."
The Air Force's drive into space has been accelerated by the Pentagon's failure to build a missile defense on earth. After spending 22 years and nearly $100 billion, Pentagon officials say they cannot reliably detect and destroy a threat today.
Another Air Force space program, nicknamed Rods From God, aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.
Despite objections from members of Congress who thought "space should be sanctified and no weapons ever put in space," Mr. Teets, then the Air Force under secretary, told the space-warfare symposium last June that "that policy needs to be pushed forward."
They think that "the United States doesn't own space - nobody owns space," said Teresa Hitchens, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, a policy analysis group in Washington that tends to be critical of the Pentagon. "Space is a global commons under international treaty and international law."
No nation will "accept the U.S. developing something they see as the death star," Ms. Hitchens told a Council on Foreign Relations meeting last month.
International objections aside, Randy Correll, an Air Force veteran and military consultant, told the council, "the big problem now is it's too expensive." 
The Air Force does not put a price tag on space superiority. Published studies by leading weapons scientists, physicists and engineers say the cost of a space-based system that could defend the nation against an attack by a handful of missiles could be anywhere from $220 billion to $1 trillion.
Richard Garwin, widely regarded as a dean of American weapons science, and three colleagues wrote in the March issue of IEEE Spectrum, the professional journal of electric engineering, that "a space-based laser would cost $100 million per target, compared with $600,000 for a Tomahawk missile." 
"Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny," he told an Air Force conference in September. "Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future."
In the long history of fucking de-range-edly bad ideas, Weaponizing Space comes near the top of my list; Just after “starting a land war in Asia” (check) and “giving an electoral mandate to an anti-Science, pro-Rapture Evangelical Wingnut Party” (check) and just before canceling “Homicide”.

And just to get it out of the way, IMHO any program with a component called “Rods From God” being pimped by a Mr. Teets and General named Lance Lord, who is practically quoting Darth Vader about our “destiny” has got barely-sublimated-sexual-orientation AND obsessive-penis-compensation-issues spray-painted all over it in 40-mile-high flaming (yes, that kind of “flaming”) letters.

Don’t get me wrong: I am completely in favor of space exploration and the eventual establishment of colonies and commerce. I am unabashedly pro-NASA (well, Old School NASA, not the LEO-focused, It-can’t-cost-more-than-nine-bucks, And-lets’-skimp-on-the-safety-budget asshats who set policy these days) and will bore almost anyone into faking a seizure to get out listening to my 1,001 pragmatic reasons why space exploration should always be one of our top three priorities.

But Weaponizing Space has nothing to do with exploration: when all of your Low Earth Orbit scopes and gun-sights are pointed DOWN are whomever we’re hating and fearing this week, you cannot responsibly argue that you goal is to look UP. And anyway, Weaponizing Space has absolutely nothing to do with responsible and reasonably debate to begin with. I f you follow the bouncing ball of the Weaponizing Space arguments they play out in exactly the same ludicrous way as the Bush tax cuts.

You all remember the original rationale for those massive tax cuts for Plutocrats from back in the olden days, right?

Back when we needed a tax cut for billionaires to spend down the surplus.

And then when we had no surplus, we needed it to “stimulate the economy”…as if the wealthy, who had already made out like fat rats during the Clinton Years, aren’t positively swimming in so much lucre that they could “stimulate” the economy as briskly and effectively as a million Horse Fluffers-in-Chief jerking off a million Clydesdale’s…if they wanted to.

And then when we ended up in a protracted war and are running debts and deficits as far as the eye can see…the solution is to make tax cuts permanent because, well, uhhhh, ummm…

Because the naked truth is Tax Cuts are Holy Writ, everything else is negotiable, and so Tax Cuts becomes another shitty pile of Republican dogma eternally in search of a shiny, bogus rationale so it can be packaged and marketed to the toe-counters and the Politically A.D.D.

To those who scab up their chubby knees worshipping Mammon, NOTHING is more sacred that tax cuts. Not the security of the nation. Not freedom. Not the commonweal. Not the future. Not the education of our children or respect and care of the elderly. Any talk of simply rolling back the tax cuts to Clinton Era levels for the wealthiest human in history is apparently worse than, say, using the Constitution as kindling to set fire to Jesus.

Like energy policy, like environmental policy, like Social Security and most especially like Iraq, the Administration makes up it’s mind and plots it’s course not based on facts or history or reason but based on that now-familiar fucktard witchbag of an infantile, dry-drunk comprehension of the world, the most dangerous kind of Fundy paranoid superstitions, the whims of the GOP’s Corporate Masters and the Neocon opium dreams of American Hegemony.

And then they just make up whatever shit they feel they need to market their New and Improved Lunacy.

Sometimes half-truths, sometimes just bald-faced lies, but they act in the knowledge that the Ultras will obediently and unquestioningly bellow whatever slogans they are ordered to bellow – even if the message is changed 180-degrees mid-scream -- and the so-called-Moderates like Lincoln Chafees and Olympia Snows and John McCains of the world have long since had their political tubes tied and are now far too gelded and gutless to stand up to the thugs that stole their Party.

And so we come to Weaponizing Space: yet another Neocon “Wouldn’t it be cool if we were, y’know, like, Gods!” fantasy in search of a rationale. Shithouse Rat Crazy Don Rumsfeld has dusted off the same plan that was so roundly rejected and laughed off the stage in 2000/2001 and is making another run at it.

Jeez. Knock me over with a feather. I’m shocked.

So why is Weaponizing Space a terrible idea? Oh, let me count just a few of the ways:

1. No enemy. The whole bad idea was to build a shield capable of knocking out as massive, Soviet missile attack. Which, of course, would (and did) simply up the ante on cranking out more missiles, both live and decoy, land-based and sub-based, short and long-range. Fire enough hardware at any defense/deflection system and some will always get though. Always. But be that as it may, the Soviet Union's dead Jim! Dead and gone.

2. It was a bluff! Does anyone even remember that the whole SDI hoo-ha was more-or-less laughed off by the likes of James Bakker after the Evil Empire imploded as being the biggest single see-and-raise bluff in the history of Cold War Poker? That whether or not it would have actually worked (which it most emphatically wouldn’t have) was secondary to head-faking the Russians into spending themselves broke on countermeasures.

3. We’re broke. Hello! No money for infrastructure. No money for education. Fuck Social Security. Deficits forever. Iraq war burning through how many billions of my tax dollars every week? How much money has been pissed away through phony reconstruction schemes and out-and-out war profiteering...and bonuses for those very profiteers? How much money will it actually cost when we really will have to rebuild that country…or buy them off as we bolt for the exit. Prescription Drug benefit. More!more!more!more! tax cuts for the plutocrats who hold the Preznit’s leash. But I think we might have finally paid off that little Bush 41 Savings and Loan And Keep My Sons out of Federal Prison Bailout, so we’ve got that going for us.

4. Further alienating the rest of the planet, if that’s even possible. I know the President Fredo and the rest of the Gang that Couldn’t Talk Straight have nothing but contempt for the rest of the human race, but at some point we’re actually going to have to cooperate and work other countries, like, say, Russia, who already went ballistic (pun intended) when Bush decided to unilaterally feed the AMB treaty through the shredder.

If you think that was exciting, imagine how much more irredeemably furious the rest of the planet is going to be when we announce that we’re going to start mounting laser and gamma-ray cannon in orbit, pointing right down the throats of any nation that, say, doesn’t want to sell us their oil at our price…or let our Evangelicals come on in and and preach the Revealed Word of George Walker Boosh?

5. Force protection. First you dream up a completely fictional enemy to justify putting weapons in space. Then, since you’re clearly smoking some CIA-grade weed, you start imagining that you’ll need to defend your cool, new “He-Man, Woman Hater’s” Clubhouse in Space from the imaginary enemy who might want to knock it down. Which means “Space Marines” or somesuch. And remember, we’re a country that has already given up our Apollo infrastructure after we tagged the Moon first at told the rest of the world “We Win!” and haven’t been able to mount a shuttle launch in over two years.

And if you think I’m exaggerating, just go look up the rhetoric from this argument from a mere five short years ago. You remember, back when most of the country sorta though having a Shithouse Rat Crazy Secretary of Defense was a bad thing.

6. Hit this. The most devastating attacks against us in modern history came from commercial airliners being flow into buildings. Around the world, war is waged with car-bombs, IEDs, and back-packs left on passenger trains. The guidance system of the average “smart bomb” used to target Americans is a teenage Muslim boy. This is the world we live in, and these are means by which death will be delivered to our doors…and none of them will ever be able to be hit from orbit by the USS Deathstar, I don’t care how many trillions we pour down the SDI rat hole.

It’s a bright, shiny distraction that the GOP can dazzle you with in the hopes that you’ll forget that they have failed so utterly on the meat-an-potatoes issues that warfighting is really all about.

7. Barges, bitches. A thousand nuclear warheads is an arsenal. Anyone who has developed such an arsenal has done so as part of an overall strategic plan to win a war by destroying his or her opponent’s ability to wage war and retaliate. To take out air forces and missile silos. To kill cities. But a single nuke is a terror weapon. The goal with a single nuke or a dirty bomb or a chemical weapon in a subway has nothing to do with taking out your enemy’s capacity to retaliate. It has everything to do with scaring the hell out of them to accomplish a political end. A nuke floated in on a barge or flown in on a Cessna is every bit as effective as a terror weapon as a missile…and one helluva lot cheaper.

8. How to fuck up an orbital defense platform. Take one ballistic missile rented from Russia or China or the European Space Agency. Pack it with a few bags of aluminum nails, gravel, potsherds and broken glass. Shrapnel: a few hundred pounds would probably do. Once in space, dump your load of scrap into an orbit that runs counter to the American platform(s). Then wait and watch the fun as, day by day, orbit by orbit, your six-hundred-dollars worth of shop-floor debris gradually shreds United State’s new trillion-dollar-toy.

There is every good reason in the world for taking a sane, rational, globally-cooperative approach to the scourge of terrorists, but there is no rationale whatsoever for Weaponizing Space. It would, in fact, have the opposite effect: make creating a true global coalition just that much harder, and make the United States appear to be just that much more of a mad, Empire-drunk pariah.

Weaponizing Space is nothing more than little dick-ed men trying to win a global Giant Cock Contest. It comes down to pasty little creeps like, oh, say, Paul Wolfowitz wanting to feel like Zeus. Wanting to tell their wives that won’t fuck them anymore, or their mistresses who mock them, or their pet Eight Inch Cut Manwhores, “I can summon lightening from the Heavens to smite mine enemies. I can level cities and set the waters of the Earth ablaze. I am a GOD…so quit laughing at my tiny penis!!”

Two things.

First, the only things Republicans recycle are shitty, shitty ideas.

Second, when I dig through my archives from Long Ago I am always a little braced when I see how accurately we on the Left were naming and shaming the treachery and madness at the heart of the GOP in explicit detail long before Donald Trump glided down the Escalator of Doom and into their hearts.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

David Brooks: The Triumphant Return of "Team B"

Team B made an assumption that the Soviets had developed systems that were so sophisticated they were undetectable. For example, they could find no evidence that the Soviet submarine fleet had an acoustic defense system. What this meant, Team B said, was that the Soviets had actually invented a new non-acoustic system, which was impossible to detect. And this meant that the whole of the American submarine fleet was at risk from an invisible threat that was there, even though there was no evidence for it.

-- Adam Curtis, The Power of Nightmares

Our Elite Beltway Commentariate and their dogma of Both Siderism have survived intact and nearly unchanged for decades despite being completely wrong about nearly everything.  They stand for nothing tangible or specific.  They propose nothing rational but laughable bromides and bumper stickers.  They perceptively analyze nothing.  And yet in defiance of any concept of meritocracy and market-correction which should have ended them long ago, they roll on and on like the mighty Mississippi.

And exactly why this continues to be true has been a subject of intense interest to me since long before the day I started blogging 13 years ago.

And after closely following their utterly predictable movements for decades now, I can say with perfect confidence that our Elite Beltway Commentariate exists for one purpose and one purpose only: to perpetuate themselves by telling their wealthy patrons the fairy tale they want to hear.  And the fairy tale they want to hear is that they are the reasonable, equipoised and indispensable center during a time of social upheaval in which Both Sides are equally wrong.

Under Clinton, during the rise of Gingrich and Hate Radio, this lie was dangerous and recklessly irresponsible.

Continuing this lie under Dubya was a catastrophe.

Under Obama this lie metastasized and went from a tacitly racist cancer to an openly racist cancer.

And with Trump, the madness of Both Siderism has abetted the rise of a genuinely an extinction-level threat to our democracy.

The sides are not mirrored opposites of each other.

The Conservative side -- the Republican Party side -- is doing its damnedest to kill this country.  It is their mission and it has been their mission for decades.  The Liberal side -- the Democratic Party side -- is, however imperfectly, trying to stop the Republican Party from putting the final hammer our flawed, glorious experiment in self-government.  Someday, God willing, this will not be so, but here and now those are the stakes, and they have very clearly been the stakes for a long time.  Here and now the stark reality is that we are at war with each other: a war in which the Left is largely right on the issues and entirely right about the Right; a war in which the Right has gone violently insane and is smashing and looting the place.

This is the truth of things now.  But it is a truth that the Elite Beltway Commentariate cannot live with. This truth is a dagger -- a direct and immediate psychological and financial threat to their very existence.  As Martin Longman put it in the Washinton Examiner:
How [David] Brooks can look at our culture in the era of Donald Trump and blame liberal college students for the growth of tribalism and force is perhaps explained by something in his upbringing. But I think it’s better explained by the fact that he simply can’t come to terms with what all his work for conservatives has come to. Spending your life in the service of a movement you should abhor is taxing on the soul
Our Elite Beltway Commentariate has helped the Right birth a monster and, although the paternity of that monster is as plain as day right there in its DNA, they have the patronage and the media muscle to deny-deny-deny that they had anything to do with it.

But using their power and influence to lie their way out of taking responsibility for paving the way for the rise of Trump is not sufficient.  To continue to wield power and influence, the need their Both Siderist ecosystem to remain intact.  Which, in turn, means they must "Team B" an imaginary Villain of the Left into existence out of thin air.  An imaginary Villain of the Left which counterposes the Republican Party's actual threat to our democracy in both stature and menace.  An imaginary Villain of the Left onto which they can shift half of the blame for a cataclysm created wholly by the unholy alliance of the Right and their Both Siderist enablers.  Nothing less than manufacturing an imaginary Villain of the Left big enough and scary enough to balance out the actual Villain of the Right will let them continue to anesthetize their consciences, collect their paychecks, and sate their wealthy patrons' appetite for fairy tales about the Extremes on Both Sides against which their Sensible Center must eternally inveigh.

In 2004, The New York Times hire The Weekly Standard's Republican hit-piece writer and managing editor, David Brooks, to do one job: crank out slight variations of the same hollow, preening Both Siderist claptrap week and after week after week.

I ought to know:  I've been on this beat for 13 years now.  Since back in the day when Tom DeLay was the sui generis Republican villain who was certainly not representative of Mr. Brooks' Republican Party, but still should be taken seriously.  And also, Democrats suck too!

David Brooks from the 04.09.05 NYT in which BoBo looks incrementally past his grotty navel and notices he has a couple of stinky little feet at the end of his legs. The article has been trimmed a bit, and helpful translations have been added for You The Customer.
The Republican Party is running into a problem: the conservatism of the American people. Over the past decade, the Republicans have set themselves up as the transformational party... 
[But the American people] have a taste for order and a distrust of those who want too much change on too many fronts too quickly...
Translation: They are scared shitless that the Crazier’n a Shithouse Rat Theocrats that the Evil Liberals have always warned them about might actually exist and have the keys to the car. Oh and all the Mapquest Route Planners they left behind as clues have a place called “Armageddonville” circled in big, red Crayon.
It's become increasingly clear that the Republicans are bumping into some limits...
Translation: limits like...gravity, evolution, arithmetic, international law, economics. Why does reality hate Republicans?
Being conservative, most Americans believe that decisions should be made at the local level, where people understand the texture of the case. Even many evangelicals, who otherwise embrace the culture of life, grow queasy when politicians in Washington start imposing solutions from afar, based on abstract principles rather than concrete particulars.
Translation: Even in the middle of my faux critique of my own Overlords ...must...regurgitate...” culture of life” meme...every...six...minutes. Hope no one notices what a trained seal I have become.
Then there is Social Security reform. Republicans set forth with a plan to give people some control over their own retirement accounts. Here, too, Republicans have been surprised by the tepid public support. Americans understand that there is a big problem, but right now most oppose personal accounts invested in the markets. According to a Wall Street Journal poll this week, a third of Republicans currently oppose them...
Translation: We were all shocked when the public didn’t think letting Thurston Howell’s idiot son bulldoze Mom’s retirement money onto the craps table was a spiffy notion. We were stunned when our Soviet Style “spontaneous” crowds of carefully screened zombies came across like a Pravda Puppet Show.

And when a something vaguely resembling the seventh-generation photocopy of an actual “question” made it past the filters, and Bush opens his mouth, the public is once again reminded that they narrowly re-elected a man who is quite possibly the stupidest human being to ever hold elected office in the United States. When he stands next to a filing cabinet he makes the furniture look positively clever and raconteurish.

We are equally stunned that when seniors didn’t respond to our idiotic plan to economically bugger them, that calling them Troop Hating Fags did not win them over.
Then there is the Tom DeLay situation. Conversations with House Republicans in the past week leave me with one clear impression: If DeLay falls, it will not be because he took questionable trips or put family members on the payroll. It will be because he is anxiety-producing and may become a political liability...
Translation: DeLay has been a foaming-at-the mouth, rabid Evangelical freak show for about 15 years now. For naked political advantage, he has been sloppily knobbing the militia movement, cross-burners, clinic bombers, queer-bashers and basically anything he can fish out of the absolute dregs of the DNA barrel around who’s fetid cock he could fit his mouth. Now that you’ve noticed him in all his Gorgon Awfulness and we in the Neutered and Rightwing Media can’t keep pimping the story that he’s a “colorful kook." Now we have to pretend to be Shocked! Shocked! at his bestial excesses.
House Republicans like what DeLay has done, and few have any personal animus toward him, but his aggressiveness makes them - and his own constituents - nervous. Only 39 percent of DeLay's Texas constituents said they would stick with him if he were up for re-election today, a Houston Chronicle survey found.
Translation: DeLay has their nuts in his medicine bag and they don’t fucking dare say a word against him. DeLay makes a viper like Gingrich look like a charming Southern Gentleman, that’s how de-ranged he is. Don’t fuck with The Hammer, dude. My cousin said she had a friend who saw him beat a homeless guy to death with a congressional staffer. Then he ate him, whole, like an Anaconda eating a rabbit. He’s Kaiser Fucking Sose, man. Prince of Darkness. On the plus side, two-out-of-every-five ambulatory humans in Sugardland, TX would still support him even now that he has been outted as the Satan’s Wingman. Gotta love Texas: It’s like a whole other kinda Dumb-as-Fuck Purgatory.
This does not mean good news for Democrats. That party is at risk of going into a death spiral. The Democrats lost white working-class voters by 23 percentage points in the last election, and now the party is being led by people who are guaranteed to alienate those voters even more: the highly educated and secular university-town elites who follow Howard Dean and believe Bush hatred and stridency are the outward signs of righteousness.
Translation: America has had a chance to test drive Irresponsible Cowardly Stupid for a few years now and they luvs it! Even though they will climb over corpses to send their kids to college, Americans hate “elites.” Jeez, just saying that word creeps me out. ElitesElitesElites!

Stop it dude: you’re scaring the Fundies. Nothing more frightening than a citizen with a book. And positively terror-ific if they went to college...except Bob Jones...who Rock! Go Fighting Antimiscegenists!
...Nor does it mean that Republicans should abandon their ideas, but it may be time to think about methods.
Translation: Shit, they’re on to us! Quick, change clothes.
Public opinion is not always right, but it is always worth respecting...
Translation: Ain’t no justice like Sweet Mob Justice. Ah BoBo. Go to bed, little man, and don’t be afraid. I’m sure the Shining Path Evangelicals you stooge for won’t kill you ‘til last.
So why unload all of this ancient history on you poor souls today?

Precisely because it is ancient history.

Because through the Great Iraq Clusterfuck and the Great Bush Recession ... through three different presidential administrations ... through the Judith Miller scandal and mass layoffs of journalists (including at the NYT) the one constant at The New York Times has been the singular importance it attaches to paying Mr. David Brooks a small fortune decade after decade to recycle the same toxic, ludicrous Both Siderist claptrap over and over and over again.

The same toxic, Both Siderist claptrap against which I have been contending in my own, small way for the past 13 years.

And how has The New York Times responded to the Republican Party's precipitous, public dive into overt white supremacy, conspiracy-peddling, paranoia-mongering, rage-drunk depravity?  You know, basically, manifesting every single go damn fascist pathology that we on the Left have been warning about for decades?

Well, first The New York Times hired (and subsequently fired) Bill Kristol to write his own slight variations of this same Both Siderist bullshit.

Then The New York Times recruited Ross Douthat to write Catholic-guilt-sex-panic-riddled variations of this same Both Siderist bullshit.

Then The New York Times hired Bret Stephens to write slightly Wall Street Journal-flavored variations of this same Both Siderist bullshit.

And most recently The New York Times hired Bari Weiss to write slight female-inflected variations of this same bullshit.

Because with Republican vandals in control of all three branches of the federal government and whelping jaw-dropping acts of treason and criminal dereliction faster that alley cats whelp kittens and with nary a President Clinton available to demonize or a President Obama around to fault for not "leading" enough, the casual observer would be forgiven for believing that our Elite Beltway Commentariate is finally fucked. Because there are simply no raw materials left for them to work with anymore --  not even enough stubble in the fields of American politics for them to glean to slap together a passable straw man to punch and scream at and heap their sins upon.

But of course, the casual reader would be wrong.  A new Villain of the Lef has been found, because a new Villain of the Left must always be found.

From Slate yesterday:
Sweet Jesus, Will the NYT’s Conservatives Ever Write About Anything but the “Intolerant Left” Ever Again?

David Brooks published a column in the New York Times on Friday complaining about the manner in which “[s]tudents across the country,” having become obsessed with “group identity,” are engaged in “tribalism” and the oppression of dissenting viewpoints on campus.

Here’s selection of other recent work from the corner of the Times op-ed page occupied by Brooks and the other conservative writers who have either been hired for or jumped enthusiastically on board with (relatively) new op-ed editor James Bennet’s mission to challenge the presumed orthodoxy of the Times’ readership:

“We’re All Fascists Now,” Bari Weiss, March 7—a complaint that “leftists,” particularly “on campuses,” are attacking the ideals of “free speech.”

“Free Speech and the Necessity of Discomfort,” Bret Stephens, Feb. 22—a complaint, delivered originally as a speech at the University of Michigan, about intolerant behavior by the “progressive left.”

“On Venezuela, Where Are Liberals?”, Bret Stephens, Feb. 15*—a complaint that “campus activists” on “the left” are too forgiving of political repression abroad.

“The Rise of the Amphibians,” David Brooks, Feb. 15—a complaint, in part, about society’s tendency toward conceptions of “tribal identity” that cultivate “mistrust, division and emotional frozenness.”

“The Retreat to Tribalism,” David Brooks, Jan. 1—a complaint that “identity politics” fomented on campus are “tear[ing] a diverse nation apart.”

“What’s Wrong With Radicalism,” David Brooks, Dec. 11—a complaint, in part, about “woke activists” on “the left” who are fixated on “identity.”

“Mugabe and Other Leftist Heroes,” Bret Stephens, Nov. 17—a complaint that academics and others on “the left” are too forgiving of political repression abroad.

“The Siege Mentality Problem,” David Brooks, Nov. 13—a complaint about the politics of “collective victimhood” espoused by, among others, “campus social justice warriors.”

“America’s Best University President,” Bret Stephens, Oct. 20—a complaint that “the left” is assaulting “free speech” and creating an atmosphere of “Orwellian double-think” on too many campuses.

“When Progressives Embrace Hate,” Bari Weiss, Aug. 1—a complaint that the organizers of the January 2017 Women’s March are too forgiving of, among other things, political repression abroad...
Yes, as a few of us have been pointing out for several years now --
-- our Elite Beltway Commentariate has made a unified decision to lock shields and advance phalanx-style on the idea that a handful of college students are the new Big Bad on the Left who are just as dangerous to democracy as the collective might of entire Republican Party.  Debt-laden young men and women who are fed up with living in the rubble of the serial disasters the Republican Party have unleashed on this country.  Who are fed up with jeering Conservative scumbags and sadists and racists -- whose whole schtick is little more than mocking and slandering the weak and the powerless -- being treated as serious thinkers whose opinion should be meekly respected.

To keep their place of privilege and power, our Elite Beltway Commentariate would turn our kids into the monsters of a toxic fairy tale their wealthy patrons pay them to repeat over and over and over again. 

Anyone who is shocked by this has not been paying attention.

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're goin' through

Light posting.  On the road this weekend.  At the moment I'm back in Chicago, in the Loop, preparing to take my stepdaughters on a whirlwind tour.  Just learned they closed Uncle Fun :-(  Damn them!  Damn them all to Hell!

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Friday, March 09, 2018

Professional Left Podcast #431

"People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives."
-- Theodore Roosevelt
Don't forget to visit our new website -- -- for all of the sweet bells and whistles:  there are links to donate to our podcast work at that site, as well as links to our swingin' Zazzle merch store,  our respective blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Kittehs! and much more. Many thanks once again to @theologop for building it all for us!


The Professional Left is brought to you by our wholly imaginary "sponsors" -- 

-- and real listeners like you!

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Cause He's a Liar

Cause I'm a liar
Yeah I'm a liar
I'll tear your mind out
I'll burn your soul
I'll turn you into me
I'll turn you into me
Cause I'm a liar
A liar,
A liar,
A liar...

From Brother Charlie Pierce:

Mueller Is Teaching This Country a Lesson on the Nature of Corruption
Everything Donald Trump touches turns to, well...

Once more, it’s clear that the working assumption of the Mueller investigation is that the entire Trump presidency*, and the Trump campaign that preceded it, is a vast corrupt empire, and that the roots of that empire are to be found in the Trump Organization, which was a slightly less vast, but no less corrupt, empire built on deceit and incompetence, bailed out by its lawyers.

To understand the corruption of the administration*, Mueller is teaching the nation, you have to understand the corruption of the businesses. And to understand the corruption of the businesses, you have to understand the ability of the man to corrupt everything and everyone he touches.

I lie
I like it
I feel good
I'll lie again
And again
I'll lie again and again
And I'll keep lying.
I promise.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Important Safety Tip

According to the National Sleep Foundation, noises that interrupt your sleep can adversely affect your overall health.

They have a few suggestions:
White noise may be used to mask jarring noises that could wake you up. It can be created by a white noise machine, a fan or air conditioner, for example.

If you live near a flight zone or a busy street, use white noise to minimize your chances of waking during the night.

Always turn the TV off when you go to bed. A television creates sounds that vary in tone and volume, which could interrupt sleep.
They don't mention it specifically, but if you have the financial wherewithal you also might want to consider the therapeutic value of buying your way into President Stupid's cabinet.

Because some of those guys can sleep like the dead.  From NY Mag:
Report: Trump Has Soured on Wilbur Ross, Who Can’t Stay Awake at Meetings

Ross reportedly has trouble staying awake during meetings, too, with a former administration official telling Axios that the 80-year-old is only “good until about 11 a.m.” That hasn’t gone over well, since showing signs of age would never be acceptable in this administration.