Saturday, July 22, 2017

Silly Shit Andrew Sullivan Says

This week we learned that America's most famous non-blogging gay Catholic Conservative blogger actually has been listening to us all this time.

To wit:
This was a great week for conservatism.

I know, I know. That word — as it has been reverse engineered by the modern GOP — no longer means in America what it once meant across the West, and I should probably stop pretending otherwise. I’m told repeatedly, and understandably, that my support for the long Anglo-American tradition of conservative political thought is quixotic, perverse, and largely counterproductive. Pragmatism, moderation, incrementalism, reform: These might be conservative virtues in principle, but in practice, the American right junked them years ago. I’m told I should admit that, in the current American context, I’m a de facto, Obama-loving leftist. To cheer the collapse of the brutal repeal of Obamacare has not an inkling of conservatism about it.
OK, enhance 224 to 176...
That word — as it has been reverse engineered by the modern GOP — no longer means in America what it once meant across the West, and I should probably stop pretending otherwise.
Goodness gracious, Andrew, we've been over this and over this, for years now.  Yes, we all know perfectly well that continuing to call yourself a "Conservative" decades after "Conservative" came to mean "Honorary Confederate Colonel" was a ludicrous affectation, just as well all know perfectly well why you keep that particular word front-and-center on your resume.

From me, eight long years ago:
But then again, if Mr. Sullivan simply outed himself as a Liberal, he would instantly lose his place in the food-chain, wouldn’t he? Because like that microscopic number of self-loathing black Conservatives who make their daily bread by serving the interests of the Southern Bigot Party, more than any other single factor, it was always the sheer gawking, oddballness of the brazen self-delusion inherent in being the gay champion of the Christopath Homophobe Party that put Mr. Sullivan in the spotlight.

That was what gave him his unique and lucrative cache.

After all, Liberal gay political writers are a dime a dozen, and so in a strange way we find Andrew Sullivan locked in the same kind of mortal combat over labels -- and for exactly the same reasons -- as Roy Cohn's character in "Angels In America" as he adamantly insisted -- even as he was dying of AIDS -- that he was not a "ho-mo-sex-shall".

(Not Safe For Work)

Because, Cohn reasoned, homosexuals were nobodies; losers who had zero clout and “in 15 years cannot pass a pissant anti-discrimination bill from City Council.” And since Roy Cohn could get the President of the United States (or his wife) on the phone -- could take the man he was fucking to the White House and make Ronald Reagan smile at him and shakes his hand -- it therefore followed that Roy Cohn could not possibly be a homosexual.

That unlike every other person in his position on Earth, Roy Cohn was a heterosexual man, who fucked around with guys.

Likewise, even though Mr. Sullivan now, belatedly comes to believe much of what Liberals believe and finally deigns to notice a horde of grotesque truths about his Conservative Movement about which Liberals have been sounding the alarm for 30 years, Andrew Sullivan nonetheless looks us all straight in that eye and argues that he could not possibly be some mere Liberal.

Because in Mr. Sullivan's world, "Liberal" does not refer to a political ideology, but to an impoverishing political ghetto from which no amount of "being right about everything" will permit you to achieve escape velocity. In Mr. Sullivan's world, "Liberal" is a terrible disease that afflicts losers who do not get invited to spout their views on teevee.

Mr. Sullivan regularly receives such largess, therefore he must not be a Liberal.

He instead must be the lone member be of some rare and singular new species; some miraculous form of haploid political Minotaur.

Because if he is not something spontaneously-generated and utterly sui generis, then he is just another Lefty-Come-Very-Lately, showing up at our door at 3:00 A.M., 20 years late and trailing toxic baggage behind him like a Halley Comet.

And who in the world would pay him to do his little dance then?
Mr. Sullivan then opts to cover his tracks with a quick round of Pineapple Ice Cream Conservatism -- a concept I explained back in 2012 as...
Mr. Sullivan's Conservatism is identical to Mr. [David] Brooks' Moderation in that their respective ideological systems amount to little more than what is convenient and enjoyable for each man to believe at any given moment.

If Mr. Sullivan suddenly developed a taste for pineapple ice cream, within a week he would be penning columns about how "Liking Pineapple Ice Cream" is a cardinal Conservative value because of something something Edmund Burke.  If he got sick on bad Thai food, we would suddenly see a spate of columns discussing bad Thai food and how it is something that only extreme Christianists or Left Liberal would ever put in their mouths.

He is, at best, a flighty dilettante with a wealth patron and does not have the slightest fucking clue about how his adopted country works...
To be clear, while there cannot be one single, agreed-upon definition of "Conservatism" because (Wikipedia)--
There is no single set of policies that are universally regarded as conservative, because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time.
-- there is a consensus across multiple authoritative sources that, broadly speaking it kinda sorta means something like this:
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization.
Which is why, in this week's bout of Pineapple Ice Cream Conservatism, it was so hilariously predictable to see Mr. Sullivan rather drastically redefining "Conservatism" into the Reasonable Middle Ground which stands between, yes, you guessed it, The Extremes on Both Sides!

Everybody take a drink!

Between those Crazed Leftist Utopians (that would be you and me) and Reactionaries (by which Mr. Sullivan apparently means "the entire Republican Party and the American Conservative Movement except for Andrew Sullivan"):
So let me explain a little why I found this past week so encouraging. It represented, in my view, the triumph of reality over ideology. And conservatism — from Burke and Hume to Hayek and Oakeshott — has always been, at its core, a critique of ideology in favor of reality. The world is as it is, the conservative argues. Any attempt to drastically overhaul it, to impose a utopian vision onto a messy, evolving human landscape will not just fail, it will likely make things worse. To pretend that the present exists for no good reason — and can be repealed or transformed in an instant — is a formula for ruin. The leftist vision of perfect “social justice” is therefore as illusory and as pernicious as the reactionary’s dream of restoring a mythical past.
Except that this is most emphatically not what is happening in this country.  

In this country, Mr. Sullivan, the terrible sin against "reality" that we Crazed Leftist Utopians committed was trying to drag the United States into some kind of health care parity with every other civilized nation on the face of the Earth.  This was the hill that most of the Democratic party was willing to die on-- that cost many elected Democrats their seats in Congress.  Pursuing the crazed, Leftist fantasy that every American should have decent, affordable health care even if we had to get there one, agonizing half-measure at a time 

And the traditional social institutions the Republican Party went to war to restore was not some fairy tale dredged up out of the "mythical past".  It was the raw and ruinous capitalism of the private insurance markets as it existed in the real world just eight short years ago.  That world of perpetually skyrocketing premiums, routine denial of coverage over a cough or a parent with imperfect genes, people dying in the street of treatable illnesses and tens of millions of Americans living one broken leg or bad diagnosis away from financial catastrophe?  That world, to the Republican Party, is a  traditional social institutions -- one they are willing to wreck the country in order to defend.  

In other words. "Conservatism" operating exactly as advertised.  

Which by now even a fellow as professionally gullible as Andrew Sullivan should stop pretending he does not understand.  

RIP John Heard

A fine little performance that you have probably never seen.

Looks Like President Stupid Got His "Vitamin" Shot This Morning

There is a brief pause in President Stupid's stream-of-consciousness as he consults with his chief of staff.

"Priebus, I'm outta my god damn special terlet paper again. How the fuck do you keep letting this happen?  This is the last warning you get asshole. Now get your useless limp dick in here and bring your commander-in-chief his special terlet paper."

President Stupid's stream-of-consciousness resumes.

Just like your Crazy Uncle Liberty, there is nothing left staggering around in the mind of this bitter old freak but stale fragments and echos of long-debunked bullshit he saw on Fox News.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Professional Left Podcast #398

"I have impeached myself by resigning."
-- Richard Milhous Nixon


The Professional Left is "sponsored" by...

...and, of course, listeners like you!

David Brooks: The Great Project Continues

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.  Unless you're David Brooks, in which case you will go right on pretending to look for the Real Culprit long after everyone else has figured it out and gone home."   
-- Sherlock Holmes, updated.

Refreshed and ready from his dalliances with fancy class warfare sammiches and dead French radical philosophers , it is time once again for New York Time's David Brooks to buckle down and get back to his real job: using his op-ed column to poop out chapter after deplorable chapter of his Great Project: is now painfully clear that Mr. Brooks is engaged in a long-term project to completely rewrite the history of American Conservatism: to flense it of all of the Conservative social, political  economic and foreign policy debacles that make Mr. Brooks wince and repackage the whole era as a fairy tale of noble Whigs being led through treacherous hippie country by the humble David Brooks.
Today's Exciting Episode:  Up Until 10 Minutes Ago The Republican Party Was Doing Great!

In which Mr. Brooks zig-zags a fancy gavotte through a minefield of more than 25 years of Republican vandalism, sedition and catastrophe in order to pluck a couple of daisies.

I mean, just look at this record of sterling accomplishments.
Back when the Republican Party functioned as a governing party it embraced both styles of freedom, but gave legislative priority to freedom of capacity. Look at the Republicans’ major legislative accomplishments of the past 30 years. They used government to give people more capacities.

In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, which gave disabled people more freedom to move about society. In 1996, Republicans passed and Bill Clinton signed a welfare reform law that tied benefits to work requirements so that recipients would develop the skills they need to succeed in the labor force. In 2003, Republicans passed a law giving Americans a new prescription drug benefit, which used market mechanisms to give them more control over how to use it.

First, the distance between 1990 and 2003 is not "30 years".

Second, to unpack everything that is wrong in that second paragraph would require more time and effort and adjectives than I am interested in spending, so instead, let's have media mogul Ezra Klein do some of the lifting:

Years later, Ezra Klein reminded readers of some of the events of that strange night in November of 2003:
A 15-minute vote was scheduled, and at the end of 15 minutes, the Democrats had won. The Republican leadership froze the clock for three hours while they desperately whipped defectors. This had never been done before. The closest was a 15-minute extension in 1987 that then-congressman Dick Cheney called “the most arrogant, heavy-handed abuse of power I’ve ever seen in the 10 years that I’ve been here.”

Tom DeLay bribed Rep. Nick Smith to vote for the legislation, using the political future of Smith’s son for leverage. DeLay was later reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee.

The leadership told Rep. Jim DeMint that they would cut off funding for his Senate race in South Carolina if he didn’t vote for the bill.
There were calls to members from George W. Bush on Air Force One. And “earmarks” — appropriations targeted to individual members and their districts — were showered on conservatives willing to cross the line. It got weird, said Klein:
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a “no” vote, spent the night “hiding on the Democratic side of the floor, crouching down to avoid eye contact with the Republican search team.”

Rep. Butch Otter, who provided one of the final votes after hours of arm-twisting from the Republican leadership, said, “I thought there was a chance I would get sick on the floor.”
One of the most remarkable features of that 2003 bill was the role that pharmaceutical lobbyists — not to mention soon-to-be pharmaceutical lobbyists like key sponsor Representative Billy Tauzin — played in the saga. One current House member who can testify to that phenomenon is North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, who in 2007 said those lobbyists largely wrote the bill:
“I’ve been in politics for 22 years,” says Jones, “and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years.”...
But third and most importantly is Mr. Brooks' return to form.

Something something Jack Kemp:
This is not a party that’s going to produce a lot of modern-day versions of Jack Kemp.
Then something something regular Americans:
If you’re a regular American, the main threat to your freedom is illness, family breakdown, social decay, technological disruption and globalization. If you’re being buffeted by massive forces beyond your control, you don’t want legislation that says: Guess what? You’re on your own!
And then comes the actual objective of Mr. Brooks' column, which is the same as the objective of virtually every other David Brooks column: to assert for the umpteenth time that the GOP of today -- the Bad GOP -- was an utterly unpredictable, unforeseeable and radical break with the Good GOP.

That while Mr. Brooks was busy debating the finer points of Burkean Conservatism with his imaginary best friend at Taco Bell, the Bad GOP just precipitated out of thin air moments ago:
So now we have a health care bill that everybody hates. It has a 17 percent approval rating. It has no sponsors, no hearings, no champions and no advocates. As usual, Republican legislators have got themselves into a position where they have to vote for a bill they all despise. And if you think G.O.P. dysfunction is bad now, wait until we get to the debt ceiling wrangle, the budget fight and the tax reform crackup.

Sure, Donald Trump is a boob, but that doesn’t explain why Republicans can’t govern from Capitol Hill. The answer is that we’re living at a time when the prospects for the middle class are in sharp decline. And Republicans offer nothing but negativity, detachment, absence and an ax.
The Conservative road that brought us to this dark and terrible place was eight-lanes wide, arrow-straight, decades-long and very clearly marked.

And at every milestone along the way to this catastrophe there were the Right's eager enablers like Mr. David Brooks, making a fine living by of blandly assuring their readers, listeners and viewers that everything was fine and that whatever momentary glitches our democracy might be experiencing could be cured if only Democrats would capitulate just a little bit more.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

When You've Lost Brent Bozell...

While he will undoubtedly still sweep Michael Reagan's "The Reagan Award For Excellence In Reaganing",  Sean Hannity has now been told to not bother showing up at Brent Bozell's shitty award show.
Sean Hannity will no longer receive Buckley Award after controversy

Fox News Channel star anchor Sean Hannity will no longer receive the conservative Media Research Center's William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence at its September 21 gala, sources familiar with the situation tell CNN.

Buckley, the founder of the National Review, who died in 2008, was hailed in his day as "arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States." Giving an award in his name to Hannity -- a pugnacious talk radio host who has shared conspiracy theories on his popular cable news show -- had caused hand wringing among some conservatives.

It also caused distress among Buckley's family -- in particular his only child, best-selling author Christopher Buckley.

A source familiar with the situation tells CNN that Christopher Buckley "expressed great dismay" at the announcement that the award would go to Hannity, who has spent a great deal of time insulting conservative intellectuals on Twitter, particularly since he became a strong supporter of Donald Trump.

Sources tell CNN that the MRC leadership discussed ways to allow Hannity to save face by acting as if a scheduling conflict would prevent him from accepting the award.

"It's my understanding there was a scheduling conflict," Ryan Moy, a spokesman for the MRC, told CNN...

On the other hand, word on the street is that Sean is also still in the running for the "Paste-Pot Pete Award For Excellence In Lame Comic Book Super Villainy"  

So he's got that going for him.

Told You This Was Coming

The day after Trump was elected, I asked the following:

From the WaPo today:
Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation...
Once the GOP elected this depraved man-baby, it was only a matter of time before he would start raiding the constitutional goody closet.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How Long Has This Been Going On?

Here is a piquant little number I bottled over a decade ago as part of a Sunday Morning Comin' Down post (yes, I have been running that feature here for a very long time.)

Other than a few name changes, see if you think it still rings true?

From March 19, 2007:

Sunday Morning Comin’ Down

[Richard] Perle and [Tom] DeLay are interesting to watch not for their arguments – which are ridiculous – or their McCarthyesque pronouncement – which are trifling lies – but rather for the anthropological experience of seeing two perfect specimens of utterly failed, utterly corrupted wastes of meat and skin go thought their paces, gibbering and smiling away, completely impervious to reason or conscience.

Two moral corpses walking among the living, still raving out the same lies they have told for years. Lies that have caused the death and suffering of untold hundreds of thousand. Lies each now told as onelongjammedtogetheronrushingsentence. Each lie now just noise; a feverish, talismanic incantations – ritually enacted these days like Stations of the Neocon Cross, rather than spoken.

As if their old power to simply shut down reason and truth by bellowing “Traitor!” at anyone who looks at ‘em cross-eyed were still a hot and lively weapon in their clammy hands.

But those days are gone, and these true Enemies Within are now seen for what they are, naked and toothless in the noonday sun.

Because now, at last, the specific gravity of the sheer dead weight of the layer upon layer upon layer of bloodsoaked lies on which this Administration stands – centrifuged by time and events and simple facts -- has at least temporarily stratified the political world into divisions as distinct as the Permian-Triassic boundary.

On one side, Good and Light…

On the other, DeLay and Perle. Two slabs of ambulatory cultural cancer that are about as wholly, unsalvageably vile as creatures get who don’t literally burst into flames in direct sunlight or need to bathe in the blood of virgins to stay perky.

As I said, at one level, a simple exchange.

It was, at another level, quite remarkable. Like watched Ebola virus squirm and breed, and then storm and destroy healthy tissue under a microscope. Perle – who radiates the aura of something fangy and hairy and partially undigested that Dick Cheney had to have chiseled out of colon with a steam hammer -- belongs in perp-orange in a glass cage at the Hague.

DeLay, who belongs in non-remunerated Federal custody, continues to serve as a valuable, Poster Child-reminder that there are still millions of our fellow citizens who, every two years, yank themselves out of their sister’s bung long enough to jump fireman-style into their overalls and shitkickers and slouch off to the polls to vote straight fascist ticket.

Perhaps “Ta piss off the naygers”. Perhaps “Ta show them fags whose country this is!” Perhaps because, if they don’t, sweet baby Jebus will fuss and cry and cross them off the Champaign Room list in Heaven.

Their specific motives are irrelevant. They are simply Bad Americans – democracy’s failed men -- and they need to be loudly reminded at every opportunity that they are -- personally and specifically -- what is wrong with this country.
Ten years ago, saying such things about the leadership and the base of the Republican Party was enough to get a fella permanently and unemployably ostracized from polite company.

Ten years later and whole lot of the clowns who made a living calling us traitors for even suggesting such things have now smoothly transitioned to making a fine living saying things about the leadership and the base of the Republican Party that are as bad or worse.

Funny old world.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Today In Republican Detachment Disorder: President Stupid

For the record, no one should be the least bit surprised that the leader of the Republican Party blames Republicans for his failure as if they were some other party in some other country on some other planet along some other timeline. Republican Detachment Disorder is an extremely common and contagious affliction which my copy of the Fake Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines succinctly as:
It's a huge shit sandwich and everybody but me is gonna have to take a bite.
Of course, Republican Detachment Disorder has been a persistent component of Beltway Both Siderism for years, but since the Rise of Trump the condition has gone airborne and is now fully pneumonic and spreading like wildfire among Conservatives who made an entire career out enthusiastically helping the GOP shit the bed over and over again, and then, as Reality closed in, suddenly started pretending that it was all the fault of some other Republican Party waaaaay over there.

This partial list of the afflicted reads like a cable news pundit on-call list.

Former Bush Administration speech writer and persistent Beltway stalactite, Michael Gerson

Former Bush Administration speech writer and persistent Beltway stalagmite, David Frum.

Kathleen Parker.

Joey Joe Joe Junior Scarborough

Bill Kristol and Joey Joe Joe Junior Scarborough

Ramesh Ponnuru

Tucker Carlson, Super Class Warrior Hero Guy

Rush Limbaugh

And of course, David Brooks,

who may well be the Patient Zero of this calamitous plague.

Won't you help us find the cure!

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cute Kids

Be a real shame if anything happened to them.

If y'know what I mean.

Yes, President Stupid.

We all know exactly what you mean.

And for any freshly-minted "independents" who want to pretend that the barbarism and hostage-taking of the GOP began with the Rise of Trump, let's remember that well before they put an unhinged racist idiot in the White House, the Republican Congress was already setting new land-speed records for sedition and moral depravity all by themselves.

From me back in 2013:

Let The Hostage-Taking Begin

Against my better judgement, here is a bit of anal leakage from the thing that The National Review has devolved into:
House to Vote on Defunding Obamacare
By Robert Costa

Leadership sources tell me the House GOP will soon vote on a continuing resolution that simultaneously funds the federal government and defunds Obamacare. Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are expected to announce the decision at Wednesday’s closed-door conference meeting.

This means the conservatives who have been urging Boehner to back a defunding effort as part of the CR have won a victory, at least in terms of getting the leadership to go along with their strategy. But getting such a CR through the Democratic Senate and signed into law will be very difficult — and many House Republican insiders say a “Plan B” may be needed.
Earlier in the day, the Most Useless Carbon Nodule on Liberal TeeVee -- 

-- told me that, in effect, Barack Obama's Entire!Presidency! hinges on winning a budget fight which was ginned up out of thin air by genuinely crazy people who are perfectly willing to nuke the global economy unless they receive Barack Obama's personal and abject apology for existing and a promise to gut his own, signature legislation.

The meatsticks have built a cult out of killing Obamacare, and their angry, stupid god demands an angry, stupid sacrifice.

Of course Mr. Halperin made no mention whatsoever of the barking-madness of the Republican half of the upcoming budget negotiations, instead opting to incant phrases like "conventional wisdom" and "Washington Insiders" to paste a figleaf over the fact that he was delivering John Boehner's ransom note (Unless you cook our meth for us, you're doomed, Barack Obama! Doooooomed!) on live teevee.  

Of course, this is not really John Boehner's fault, or Eric Cantor's or Ted Cruz's:  the fault lies with squarely with the dog-loyal dregs of the Republican base, who cannot shamble off to their unquiet graves fast enough to suit me.  

My own theory of civic engagement is that such people -- along with their charlatan leaders, tinpot demagogues, and media enablers -- need to be bum-rushed the hell out of the corridors of power and back to squatting on corner barstools raving about hippies where the belong, after which the adults can figure out how to fix what 30 years of unremitting stupid has broken.

But that's just my theory.

There is another theory that holds I have it all wrong -- that the entire shebang should be turned over to the hostage takers.  Just flip the keys to the Gohmerts' and Cruzes and Kings...after which Underpants Gnomes! 

...after which Libertarian Utopia!

At first blush this theory appears to be an even more aggressively idiotic view of the world and how it works than the season finale of "The Newsroom", but some big brains with much, much bigger megaphones than I have absolutely swear by it.

Like, for instance, this guy: