Friday, December 02, 2016

Muscle Memory

From Brother Charlie Pierce:
The only true resistance to whatever comes next is sadly confined to a civic and political imagination that has grown stunted and crippled, and a commitment to truth and to political involvement that long ago surrendered to distraction, flash, and meaningless intellectual junk food. The democratic muscles needed for pushback have atrophied almost to the point of uselessness, and that's alright because the institutions through which those muscles could be used are shells of themselves. Get ready for four (or eight) years of empty spectacle in the service of destructive policies that the president-elect doesn't care enough to understand.
Yeah, but here's the thing.  There are plenty of us out here in Liberal Coventry who are definitely bone-tired and nearly broke from years and years of trying to unstupid the country while at the same time doing whatever we can to keep the meatheads from starting fires.  However for our labors we have slowly developed the political equivalent of what used to be called ditch-digger muscles. 

Muscles hardened by use, day after day for years.

And we have noticed something interesting.   While most of the institutional strength needed to push back against the Marching Morons have indeed atrophied to the point of uselessness, there remains one institutional muscle group that is more toned and well-defined than ever, because it too gets a hard workout every single day,  

I'm referring, of course, to the level of diligent, deliberate effort and moral flexibility that is required by our mainstream media to keep those of us who live out here in Liberal Coventry -- those of us who have been right about the Right all along -- the hell away from virtually ever mass media outlet in the land.

Just an observation, made in passing.

And now back to the ditch for me.  

David Brooks Is Out Today And The Triumphant Return of Tom Waits Friday

Mr. Brooks is presumably skipping the heavy lifting of writing a column in order to continue rolling through America's heartland, lending an ear to the sad stories of Real American's, touching Indians and so forth.

So you're spared that.

But in light of Mr. Brooks' post-1109 advice to all us losers to humbly suck it up and listen to the folk wisdom of the rubes and bigots a completely imaginary Trump voter that Mr. Brooks made up out of whole cloth --
Fellow Trump Critics, Maybe Try a Little Listening

I’ve been thinking a lot about the best imaginable Trump voter. This is the Trump supporter who wasn’t motivated by racism or bigotry. This is the one who cringed every time Donald Trump did something cruel, vulgar or misogynistic. 

But this voter needed somebody to change the systems that are failing her... 

...It’s tempting to get so caught up in his outrage du jour that you never have to do any self-examination. But let’s be honest: It wouldn’t kill us Trump critics to take a break from our never-ending umbrage to engage in a little listening.
-- I thought it might be Fun!Fun!Fun! to step into the Wayback Machine and see what sage advice Mr. Brooks was handing out back in 2008 to the winners and losers in that election.

From yours truly, eight years ago...
King Pimp

Over in the Better Universe, pundits are required to dress in the rags of their actual profession.

November 7, 2008

Change I Can Believe In

I have dreams. I may seem like a boring pundit whose most exotic fantasies involve G.A.O. reports, but deep down, I have dreams.

The administration of my dreams understands where the country is today. Its members know that, as Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center put it on “The NewsHour,” “This was an election where the middle asserted itself.” There was “no sign” of a “movement to the left.”

Only 17 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing most or all of the time, according to an October New York Times/CBS News poll. So the members of my dream Obama administration understand that they cannot impose an ideological program the country does not accept.

They’ll invite G.O.P. leaders to the White House for real meetings and then re-invite them, even if they give hostile press conferences on the White House driveway.

They’ll do things conservatives disagree with, but they’ll also show that they’re not toadies of the liberal interest groups. They’ll insist on merit pay and preserving No Child Left Behind’s accountability standards, no matter what the teachers’ unions say. They’ll postpone contentious fights on things like card check legislation.
And so forth.

Before the NYT welded the dumpster lid closed on this reeking pile of hackslag, over 600 citizens had commented on this column. Most, bless their hearts, sounded like “Lisa, Oakland, CA”:
And you asked the Republicans to do this how many times over the last eight years? Funny how a Democratic Congress and President can suddenly make "bipartisan" look like something other than a cuss word from Republicans, who were trying for eternal one-party rule for most of the last dozen years.
In addition to being pissed, a large number of commenters seemed genuinely baffled by David Fucking Brooks' dealing out so much hypocrisy from the bottom of his stacked deck, so fast, so dizzyingly divorced from any reality-based context, and all in one, short essay.

As I mentioned last week, Bobo has two, basic columns:
1. The personal and triumphal when he finds occasion to flaunt his ridiculous, bankrupt ideology. And,

2. The moon-faced alien anthropologist, orbiting the Earth and noting the fall of American civilization from the safe distance of wealth and privilege that this relentlessly mediocre man has somehow been afforded when confronted with the cratered wasteland he and his beliefs have created.
This column is, yet again, a towering example of #2.

For people who were mystified that Our Mr. Brook's is now suddenly and loudly militating for behaviors about which he was conspicuously silent during the Republican Dark Ages, the answer is simple.


As every cop who ever walked an honest beat knows, people just aren’t that complicated.

Mr. Brooks does not get paid for being insightful or honest: he gets paid for feigning insightfulness and honesty. He gets very, very handsomely compensated for performing exactly the same function as a hooker: telling the Pig People how attractive and strong-like-bull they are regardless of what the mirror says, or how depraved their demands.

Without his Conservative hobby-horse to ride, the relentlessly mediocre David Brooks would be unemployed and unemployable, and this is not a man to risk derailing the gravy train just for the fleeting thrill of telling some ugly, unvarnished truth about his party and his politics.
So there you go.

And now, Tom Waits...

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Donald Trump's America

Since nothing is ever about race, let's just say that freaking out over a black Santa is a very strange way for America's working class to manifest their economic anxieties.

I wonder where America's Most Aggrieved Idiots ever got the idea that is was acceptable -- nay, even patriotic -- to get publicly whipped up over the skin color of a fictional character?

Oh yeah... (from Politico):
Megyn Kelly: Jesus and Santa were white

By HADAS GOLD 12/12/13 12:02 PM EST

On Wednesday night Megyn Kelly declared on her Fox News show that both Santa Claus and Jesus were white. Discussing a piece in Slate by Aisha Harris about a black versus white Santa, Kelly that "just because it makes you feel uncomfortable it doesn't mean it has to change."

"You know, I've given her her due. Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change," Kelly said. "Jesus was a white man, too. It's like we have, he's a historical figure that's a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?"...

When I'm Wrong, Boy Am I Wrong

I was going though my archives I ran across this, which I wrote this back March of 2009, when, as the Rolling Stone put it, "Obama Overturns War on Science":
...Some years ago -- during the depths of the Dubya Administration and through absolutely no fault of my own -- I was asked pretty-please to attend the BIO International Convention which, for the first time, was being held in Chicago. 

So I went, and although I have thoroughly suppressed everything I learned about bioinformatics, I still have a lovely tote to show for it.

The highlight was a keynote by Bill Clinton held in one of the McCormick Place's cavernous, sit-down-lunch-for-12,000 halls. For over an hour, Clinton banished the smirkingly anti-intellectual pall of the Dumbass Dauphin and spoke compellingly and without notes (in complete sentences yet!) about how being smarter makes us safer. How using technology to do good -- like bringing clean water to Africa -- also redounded to our geopolitical benefit. Because if people like and respect us, they're less likely to hate and kill us.

And other suchlike subversive, crazy notions.

The lowlight was undoubtedly Neal Cavuto's speech some time later, given, as I recall, the same hall. It was as vicious, petty and vengeful a verbal sniping as you could imagine. Two of the more remarkable moments that I remember vividly were his snarling out to the pharmaceutical reps gathered there that filthy Liberals wanted to "piss in their hair", and his urging them to "withhold medication" from Liberals to teach us a lesson. 

Yes, it really was that bad (everything was taped by a bank of a dozen cameras, but thus far my attempts to score a video of his unhinged tirade has been unsuccessful.) Shit, even the hardcore, capitalist VC-types were creeped out by his gratuitous, over-the-top hate-mongering in the middle of a fucking trade show. But, hey, this is what happens when you give a True Wingnut Believer a microphone and a captive audience.

The other, more low-grade source of unpleasantness was completely understandable: the widespread-if-diplomatically-expressed astonishment by scientists, engineers, educators and investors from all over the planet that America had fallen so damned fast from a proud and profitable beacon of innovation and scientific advancement to a country governed by aggressively ignorant, toe-picking meat-sticks and big-haired, Bible-thumping inbreds.

More than almost any other question, "WTF happened to you people?" was the one I heard asked most often. Asked incredulously. Pityingly. Asked in myriad different ways, in many different forums and in different guises.

As much as America's reckless, neocon wars for oil and empire have driven away our traditional foreign policy allies, America's rapid collapse into a provincial Loutocracy of braying, boastful, paranoid yahoos has driven away our traditional philosophical and cultural allies.

They watched as the public dialogue in the United States sank into a sewer of xenophobia and Conservative-media-fueled rage where the worst thing a human being could possibly be was French, gay, muslim, Liberal and/or Darwin.

They asked for American help and leadership, and instead we offered them the Chimperor and his murderous Regent...
And that holds up pretty well.  I stand by that.

But then, in the next paragraph, I made a promise which was not mine to make. I thought it was, but it turns out I was wrong.  As wrong as wring can be...
Now, at long last, we have a different answer for those friends and allies who watched in horror as the most powerful nation on Earth lost its mind; now we can tell them that it was only a temporary madness. That we will never, ever let anything like the Age of Dubya happen again...
Sorry, World.  We tried very, very hard, but the power of Four Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse -- Conservative Media, the GOP's indomitably ignorant and often bigoted base, The Right's Eager Little Helpers (both in the Beltway and in the Kremlin) and the various Protest and Purity Brigades who could not lower themselves to vote for Hillary -- was too much for us.

So keep copies of all those lovely, stirring speeches by Barack and Michele Obama somewhere safe and nearby.  Because during the terrible fever of the next four years you are going to need to many, many reminders of what it was like not to have a band of looters and lunatics led by a gibbering racist madman in charge of the most powerful country on Earth.

We Control Matter Because We Control The Mind, Ctd

"Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation -- anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those 19th century ideas about the laws of Nature.  We make the laws of Nature."

-- O'Brien, 1984
From Mr. James Fallows in the Atlantic:
‘There’s No Such Thing Anymore, Unfortunately, as Facts’

This morning, straight off the plane from Shanghai, I was on The Diane Rehm Show with Margaret Sullivan, much-missed former Public Editor of the NYT who is now with the WaPo, and Glenn Thrush of Politico. We were talking about how to deal with the unprecedented phenomenon that is Donald Trump, related to the “Trump’s Lies” item I did two days ago.

You can listen to the whole segment here, but I direct your attention to the part starting at time 14:40. That is when Scottie Nell Hughes, Trump stalwart, joins the show to assert that “this is all a matter of opinion” and “there are no such things as facts.”

You can listen again starting at around time 18:30, when I point out one of the specific, small lies of the Trump campaign—that the NFL had joined him in complaining about debate dates, which the NFL immediately denied—and Hughes says: Well, this is also just a matter of opinion...

It should come as absolutely no surprise that the sheer administrative burden of denying each of Donald Trump's hundreds of individual lies should quickly become unsustainable, especially for the bottom-feeders, halfwits and other human flotsam who have sold their soul for a place of privilege at his royal court.

And so, rather than having to spend valuable gibberish polishing each Trumpian turd one at time like some peasant, the new masters of the universe are discovering that a simple, blanket denial of reality itself -- the oldest tool of every petty tyrant in history -- is really the easiest and most efficient way of dealing with the torrent of bullshit that will be coming from Il Douche for the next four years.

As I wrote back in September. once you start to notice that a depressingly large number of our fellow citizens have become reprogrammable Orwellian meat-puppets, the rise of Trump is not hard to understand at all.

And Thus We Are Set Free

By demonstrating that the Right is every damnable thing we Liberals ever said it was, Trump absolves us from having to treat them like countrymen ever again.

It Ain't What You Don't Know That Gets You Into Trouble

It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. -- Mark Twain

You've got to give it to the meatheads who voted for Il Douche.  If they they have learned absolutely nothing else (and they haven't) they have finally learned some message discipline.  They have never to use the "F" word ("Fox") when repeating something ludicrous as gospel to someone who is not a card-carrying fellow member of the Tribe That Rubs Shit In Their Hair.

Instead, they insist they heard these things in "the media".

On CNN! (No, it wasn't on CNN.)

On FaceBook (Big fucking deal.)

You can Google it!

But the thing is, the meatheads never Google it do they?  They're never more than four or five mouse-clicks away from the facts that would put paid to their paranoid little lies, and instead -- over and over again, year after year after year -- they choose to pay people in suits to fill their empty heads with the lies that make them happy and shriek and bellow whenever anyone tried to pry them out of their toxic stupor.

For example, from MediaIte:
Fox Deceptively Edits Obama Interview to Falsely Claim He Told Illegal Immigrants to Vote

by Alex Griswold | 11:48 am, November 7th, 2016

Fox Business Network used a deceptively edited clip of President Barack Obama Monday to argue that the president encouraged illegal immigrants to vote, when in fact he had done nothing of the sort.
The doctored video is there, the doctored transcript is there, and the original transcript is there, and what is abundantly clear is that Fox News' Stuart Varney knowingly perpetrated a massive fraud on his viewers and that if he worked at a reputable news outfit and not Roger Ailes' Wingnut Whorehouse and Vomitorium he would have been shitcanned immediately.

What is also abundantly clear is that Mr. Varney's lies worked just the way they were supposed to. That Fox News knows it audience and knows that the bigots and imbeciles who make up the GOP base sop this poison up with a biscuit.

And the thing is, it no longer even matters if you catch them red-handed repeating seditious drivel or racist nonsense, because they have also all been trained in the Four Magic Words that will bail them out of any tricky situation:  Both.  Side.  Do.  It.

In my myriad encounters with wingnuts over the decades, I have found that once you back them into any tight corner, they will either claim to be an "Independent" and therefor somehow have no responsibility for the catastrophe they eagerly voted for, or they will aver that repeating flagrant lies is no great shakes because Both Sides Do It.

Which is why I have always firmly believed that, of all the perverts and lunatics clogging up our representative democracy, none are more dangerous than Beltway Both Siderists.  Because while the bigots and imbeciles and demagogues on the Right do real and lasting damage to this country, they could  never have gotten away with doing so much damage for so long -- could never have elected Donald J. Trump -- without the Beltway Both Siderists right beside them to provide them with alibis and drive their getaway cars.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Have Found My Dream Job

About Lounge Review Magazine:
At loungereview, we are frequent flyers who enjoy the journey as much as the destination. We have visited hundreds of airport lounges and know some airports like the back of our hands. We believe that airports aren’t actually dreadful places – if you know the tricks! We are compiling an exhaustive and accurate directory of worldwide lounges...
This is my destiny.

Other Than The Choice Of Hat

...this from me five years ago still seems depressingly appropiate.

How Conservatives Win

You hate Liberals, right?

Well, do you know what would make those
damn Liberals
really crazy?

Picking up that gun.

And then putting it in your mouth.

And then pulling the trigger.

Oh yes.

Liberals will hate that
more than anything ever!

Or maybe you don't really hate Liberals?

Maybe you secretly love them!

Maybe you secretly want to have
gay Muslim sex with them!!

You hate Liberals, right?

Each year in America, there is a sucker Conservative voter born every minute.

Please give generously to help us find a cure.

From the Seattle Times:
Counties in Washington that rely most on Obamacare voted for Trump
Are Coal Miners Headed for Heartbreak Under the GOP? 

For years, coal miners and their families were rebuffed by mining companies in attempting to collect compensation for disabilities associated with respiratory problems developed by inhaling coal mine dust. The biggest problem was that by law the burden of proof fell to the disabled miners, their families or survivors to demonstrate that the miners’ respiratory problems were real and directly related to years of work in company mines.

But as the health and science website STAT reported Monday, that all began to change with enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Under an obscure miscellaneous provision added by the late Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, the burden of proof was abruptly shifted from the disabled miners to the mining companies themselves.

In effect, if a miner had spent 15 years or more working underground for a company and could prove that he or she had developed a respiratory disability, then it was presumed to be black lung associated with employment at the mine. And unless the company could somehow prove otherwise, it would be responsible for providing disability benefits to the miner or his survivors.

“Often the person whose job it is to do the convincing loses,” Evan Smith, a lawyer for the nonprofit Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center who has handled many black lung cases, told STAT. In 2009, just prior to enactment of Obamacare, 19 percent of claims for black lung benefits were successful. By last year, the share had jumped to 28 percent.

Now, however, many in coal country may have reason to worry. Trump and House and Senate GOP leaders have vowed to make the repeal of Obamacare one of their first acts in January. If the Republicans carry through, Byrd’s black lung provision would likely be washed away along with the provisions for subsidized health insurance plans and expanded Medicaid for low-income Americans...
Saddened, Angry, Sickened, Defeated
I can't explain why people voted to take away their own healthcare.
It is true that saying "we told you so" is an unseemly thing at a funeral, especially when the one in the casket put himself there out of sheer spite, bigotry and invincible ignorance. But it is also true that the red states burned a big ol' cross on our collective lawn on election day, and I have no doubt in my mind what comes next.

So I will leave it to the late Reverend Vernon Johns to perform the service --

This boy lived a trifling and worthless life. He went around Montgomery daring someone to cut his throat. Saturday night somebody obliged him. He lived like a dog; he died like a dog. Undertaker, claim the body. Choir, sing. 
-- while I stand out in the parking lot yelling my opinions into the sky where they will offend no one.  

Also, for you young 'uns who have never heard it, and for you old 'uns who have not heard it in awhile. here is James Earl Jones' rendering of Vernon Johns' last sermon:

Vernon Johns (April 22, 1892 – June 11, 1965) was an American minister at several black churches in the South. He is best known as the pastor 1947–52 of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama. He was succeeded by Martin Luther King Jr. Johns was widely known in the black community across the South for his profound scholarship in the classics, his highly controversial sermons, his insulting manner toward his audiences, his extreme eccentricities, and his repeatedly being fired from prestigious positions.

Next Up on MTP Daily...

...Chuck Todd convenes a loya jirga of NBC/MSNBC regulars -- Hugh Hewitt, David Brooks, Bill Kristol, Mark Halperin, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Ba'al, Harold Ford, Jr., Mike Barnicle, Tom Friedman, Avik Roy, Ben Domenech, Ann Coulter, Mary Matalin, Newt Gingrich, Rich Lowery, Beelzebub, Michael Gerson, Michael Steele, an animatronic thingie that kinda resembles Tom Brokaw, Mrs. Alan Greenspan, and a special guest appearance by David Gregory -- to plumb the mystery of why the public does not trust the media.

But first, have a seat, put down your beverage and bask in this amazing video (h/t Crooks & Liars) in which Mr. Todd looks straight into the camera and swears that he has no fucking idea how things got this bad, but that he will never, ever compromise MSNBC's own high standards by playing the false equivalence game.

Transcript (with emphasis added):

CHUCK TODD:  I'm way more obsessed than usual. In fact, there's an issue that is literally keeping me up at night.  I don't like navel gazing about the press.  I don't feel sorry for us, ever.  But we are facing a challenge unlike any before. It used to be we believed  Presidents they talked or we believed they had facts to back up their statements. Lying got them in trouble and impeached. It forced another to resign. So what do you do when the President-elect is willing to spread outright falsehoods like 'voter fraud got him the popular vote and the media is covering this up'? What do you do when he tells top national reporters that half of them are blatantly dishonest at the job they do and says it to them in their face. And what do you do  when millions choose to believe fake news stories simply because they like what nay hear... and the candidate they like retweets the stories?  When one half of the country believes a set of facts and the other half of the country believes another set of something.  In short, what do you do when millions don't want to believe the media anymore, and have a candidate or a President that will encourage them not to?   We will keep working at what we do. We will try to distinguish real from fake, fact from fiction, and news from propaganda.  We will be fair. We have always been fair.  Here's what we won't do, is somehow "balance" facts. 
Having writting hundred of posts pointing out Both Siderism is literally the Beltway media's business model, I find myself paralyzed by the sheer tonnage of examples showing that Shuck Todd is completely full of shit and damn well knows it.  So let's keep it simple.

Here is a short post from July in which I noted the obvious fact that the Democratic Party held a brilliantly coordinated, four-day political convention while the Republican Party held a four-day, wingnut Ghost Dance intended to resurrect the Confederacy.

This is how Mr. Chuck Todd "reported" on those two events:
You know, Doris, if there was one thing, I thought Donald Trump's speech felt darker than I feel like America is, and sometimes there were times that Hillary Clinton's speech felt more optimistic than where we are in America. I mean, it did feel as if they both exaggerated points.