Monday, September 25, 2017

I Cannot Hear You Over The Sound Of Your Rich, White, Male Privilege

yes, we have finally reached a level of near-catatonic media delusion and denialism in which ABC New's chief political analyst can simply give up on political analysis entirely and just sits on a little stool and singing this over and over and over again...

Behold, a Tip Jar!

The New NBC Extended Sclerotic Teevee Universe: Morning Lineup

5:00 AM   Brian Williams' Hot Yoga/Hot Takes

6:00 AM   Good Morning Butner Medium Security Federal Correctional Institution with Bernie Madoff!

7:00 AM  Megyn Kelly Today
"The truth is I am kind of done with politics for now," she stated, citing the show's objective as providing the audience a place to share "a laugh with us, a smile, sometimes a tear, and maybe a little hope to start your day."
8:00 AM   The Romper Room Reboot with Leni Riefenstahl (animated)

9:00 AM  Lost Classics -- The Best of...With All Due Respect with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

Are you ready for some football!

According to his Wikipedia page, Rex Ashley Ryan (who is two month younger than my brother) is...
...a former American football coach and current ESPN analyst. Ryan was formerly the head coach of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL), and also held various coaching positions with eight other NFL and college teams.
He is, in other words, a grown-ass Trump-supporting white man living a life of privilege in the United States of America who would have you believe that he literally did not notice until yesterday that President Stupid is a racist asshole:
Boy howdy is Rex Ryan ever gonna be shocked when he finds out that the reason Donald Trump was nominated by the Republican Party last summer and elected last November was not in spite of the fact that he is an ignorant, racist asshole but precisely because he is an ignorant, racist asshole. An ignorant, racist asshole with whom the tens of millions of other ignorant, racist assholes who make up the base of the Republish Party very strongly identify.

I would also note that, according to his Wikipedia page, Mr. Ryan's suffers from dyslexia and that a lesser man might be tempted to make some crude joke at this juncture about not him not being able to see what was staring him right in the fucking face all along.  And make no mistake -- I am a lesser man. But after all,  Mr. Ryan is just an ex-jock who talks football on the teevee machine for a living, so even though he endorsed Donald Trump at one of his Thunderdome fun fairs just a year ago, perhaps Mr. Ryan can be forgiven for being too stupid to see what was staring him -- and the rest of us -- right in the face all along.

What is inexcusably more dishonorable and toxic is the behavior of so-called experts and political analysts who have been steeped in this shit for decades.  Because once again the same fucking clowns who helped dig this grave and drag of us into it are not only being allowed to skip out on the butcher bill they have racked up.  And not only being allowed to pretend that they, too, just now noticed the looming shadow of the monster they helped to create (from life-long Conservative radio goon and newly-minted Respected MSNBC Contributor, Charlie Sykes, with emphasis added): 
For a quarter of a century, I was a major part of the conservative movement. But like many on the right, in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory I had to ask some uncomfortable questions. The 2016 presidential campaign was a brutal, disillusioning slog, and there came a moment when I realized that conservatives had created an alternate reality bubble—one that I had helped shape...
But they are also being allowed to turn what should be time spent atoning for their sins, shutting the fuck up for the next 20 years and exiling themselves from the company of decent men and women into just another a marketing angle that lets them make one more buck off of the evil they have done to the rest us:
See?  One, big, happy Beltway Media family, giving itself one, big happy, cross-marketing reach-around.

Oops.  My apologies.  Ever since President Stupid took a big ol' steaming Trump on their favorite locution, the boys and girls of the mainstream media village have been forced to hawk their same-old snake oil under its new, focus-group-tested label: Tribalism.

From "Box Turtle" Ben Domenech, who now gets column inches in The New York Time because reasons -- 
It is now impossible to consume media without the constant encroachment of political divisiveness and partisan tribalism,  Breaking down the walls between us is easier to do when our culture is not so politicized—when we can feel free to watch, laugh and cheer alongside our fellow Americans without catching ourselves wondering how they voted. That is the healthier way to live, particularly in the era of Donald Trump.
-- to Andrew Sullivan -- 
I mean two tribes whose mutual incomprehension and loathing can drown out their love of country, each of whom scans current events almost entirely to see if they advance not so much their country’s interests but their own. I mean two tribes where one contains most racial minorities and the other is disproportionately white; where one tribe lives on the coasts and in the cities and the other is scattered across a rural and exurban expanse; where one tribe holds on to traditional faith and the other is increasingly contemptuous of religion altogether; where one is viscerally nationalist and the other’s outlook is increasingly global; where each dominates a major political party; and, most dangerously, where both are growing in intensity as they move further apart...
-- it's all the rage, kids, so look for it coming to a local paper and Thanksgiving dinner you! 

Meanwhile, down on Maxwell Street, between the bags of tube socks and the rims-of-dubious-origins the Professional Left has some merch of its own, bearing much-less Beltway Media family friendly messages:

Let me leave you with this from Vox because of the last sentence (with emphasis added):
How have they found themselves here again, after their previous repeal bills failed in July? The underlying truth, the beating heart of Obamacare repeal that refuses to let it die, is: Republicans just want to pass a bill, any bill, to say they repealed Obamacare. Whatever standards they’ve set for their health care plan, whatever promises they made before, don’t matter.
It is time for all good  Liberals to once and for all get over the idea that any of this is surprising or shocking or jaw-dropping.  Or that the reaction to the ongoing, escalating sadism and depravity of the American Fascist Party from men and women with a financial or psychological stake in defending the Both Sides narrative will ever amount to anything other than, "Yeah, but the Liberals..."

Anything other than, "Yeah, but Tribalism...".

Because by now we should all be well past the antediluvian conceit that there exists on the Right anything like a Reasonable Republican or a Conscientiousness Conservative faction.  By now it should be perfectly clear that on the Right there are only the various tentacles of an American Fascist Party, which is the enemy, and which absolutely will not stop trying to wreck this country until they are forced to stop.  An American Fascist Party...and their could-not-survive-one-fucking-day-in-the-Real-World enablers from the Beltway media hothouse whose common reaction to plain, clear Republican depravity is to reflexive conjure up some imaginary Liberal misconduct to justify their ludicrous fence-straddling.

Some of us have been living the outlaw life beyond of the comforting conformist confines of these lobotomizing but intoxicating media fairy tales for a very long time now.  Which is why the places from which we write and speak and think are sometimes a little frightening and thoroughly unwelcome at the big, happy Beltway Media circle-jerk.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

In an Alternate Universe in 1938...

...the whiniest gay Catholic stoner Tory in America is floating above the English Channel on a cloud of the finest indica herb, blithely lecturing the world that while rise of German fascism was certainly a a very bad thing (from Andrew Sullivan in NYMag) ...
And so, among tribal conservatives, the Iraq War remained a taboo topic when it wasn’t still regarded as a smashing success, tax cuts were still the solution to every economic woe, free trade was all benefit and no cost, and so on. Health care was perhaps the most obvious example of this intellectual closure. Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act was immediate and total. Even though the essential contours of the policy had been honed at the Heritage Foundation, even though a Republican governor had pioneered it in Massachusetts, and even though that governor became the Republican nominee in 2012, the anathematization of it defined the GOP for seven years. 
...we all should also admit that the blunt and resolute language employed by Sir Winston Churchill to describe and oppose the threat posed by the rise of German fascism --

-- is equally fractious and unhelpful:
But we should not delude ourselves that this is all a Trump problem. What Obama could not overcome would have buried Hillary Clinton, who, almost uniquely in public life, carries the scars of our tribal era. Her campaign made no effort to persuade “deplorables,” just to condemn them, and her core strategy was not to engage those on the fence but to maximize the turnout of her demographic tribe...
Yes, Mr. Sullivan is a man in a Very High Castle indeed.  For you see, according to Mr. Sullivan -- a man so steeped in elite privilege that he literally cannot see the water in which he swims; a man who speaks with sweeping, peevish authority on the subject of a nation about which he clearly knows absolutely nothing -- the real problem is not that the Right completely lost its mind, capitulated to its darkest impulses, has made it its mission to destroy the Left at any cost and will not accept and compromise with or governance by us Leftist devils as legitimate.

No, the real problem is Tribalism, which is what inbred Beltway teacup poodles have been reduced to calling "Both Siderism" ever since President Stupid fucked up their favorite locution.
I mean two tribes whose mutual incomprehension and loathing can drown out their love of country, each of whom scans current events almost entirely to see if they advance not so much their country’s interests but their own. I mean two tribes where one contains most racial minorities and the other is disproportionately white; where one tribe lives on the coasts and in the cities and the other is scattered across a rural and exurban expanse; where one tribe holds on to traditional faith and the other is increasingly contemptuous of religion altogether; where one is viscerally nationalist and the other’s outlook is increasingly global; where each dominates a major political party; and, most dangerously, where both are growing in intensity as they move further apart...
Of course holding to this fiction forces Mr. Sullivan to lie.
As for indifference to reality, today’s Republicans cannot accept that human-produced carbon is destroying the planet, and today’s Democrats must believe that different outcomes for men and women in society are entirely a function of sexism. 
(I guess my subscription to "Today's Democrats" ran out before that issue.)

 Lie a lot.
During the Bush years, liberals inveighed ceaselessly against executive overreach; under Obama, they cheered when he used his executive authority to alter immigration laws and impose new environmental regulations by fiat.
(President Obama used executive authority because he had a country to govern and a Republican party run by reckless, seditious, racist thugs who believed that since he was a terrorist-loving Kenyan Communist Usurper, they were entirely within their rights to do everything in their power to prevent him from governing it.)

But gliding high above the Earth and reporting from a place where the depravity and predation of the American Fascist Party will never touch him, Mr. Sullivan is liberated from the cruel binary prison of truth and falsehood.   He is free to whine and blither and dither and opine on someone else's dime, retelling the Beltway its favorite bedtime story for the millionth time, so far above it all that it is no longer possible for him to distinguish between Conservative arsonists and Liberal firefighters scurrying about so tribally far below. 

Sure, there used to be a few decent Liberals, way back in the Olden Days.  Liberals who Mr. Sullivan deemed worthy because they went along with Mr. Sullivan's hokum.
This atmosphere can affect even the finest minds. I think of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the essayist and memoirist. Not long ago, he was a subtle, complicated, and beautiful writer. He could push back against his own tribe...
But they fell from Mr. Sullivan's grave by falling prey to the scourge of Tribalism.  A scourge so terrible that made them shove back hard so hard at the roots of Mr. Sullivan's favorite fairy tale --
He remains a vital voice, but in more recent years, a somewhat different one. His mood has become much gloomier. He calls the Obama presidency a “tragedy,” and describes many Trump supporters as “not so different from those same Americans who grin back at us in lynching photos.” He’s written about how watching cops and firefighters enter the smoldering World Trade Center instantly reminded him of cops mistreating blacks: They “were not human to me.” In his latest essay in the Atlantic, analyzing why Donald Trump won the last election, he dismisses any notion that economic distress might have played a role as “empty” and ignores other factors, such as Hillary Clinton’s terrible candidacy, the populist revolt against immigration that had become a potent force across the West, and the possibility that the pace of social change might have triggered a backlash among traditionalists. No, there was one meaningful explanation only: white supremacism. And those who accept, as I do, that racism was indeed a big part of the equation but also saw other factors at work were simply luxuriating in our own white privilege because we are never under “racism’s boot.
-- that it very nearly knocked his bong out of his hand.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

Professional Left Podcast #407

"Welcome my son, welcome to the machine."
-- Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here
I'm going to go right on directing everyone 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 a links to our swingin' Zazzle merch store,  our respective blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Kittehs! and much more. Many thanks once again to @theologop for building us such a lovely home.


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

-- and real listeners like you!

Bonus Floyd!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Here Comes Mr. Wolf. Again.

As readers of this little blog are already aware, the Beltway media's most indispensable function in our fatally polluted political ecosystem is to make sure that the Republican Party is never, ever held responsible for the havoc they wreak on this country.

Everything else is yadda, yadda, yadda.  Weather, sports and water-skiing squirrels.

It doesn't matter how many different ways the Republicans fucked things up last time, or in how many different disguises they show up at the Fuck Everything Up Parade next time. When the last HUD house is shuttered and the last public school is sold off to golf course developers, our Beltway media will still be there, making sure the Republican Atrocity Memory Hole is open 24/7/365.  Making sure that the same gorgons and hobgoblins and cyborgs who helped midwife the previous Republican catastrophe are quietly shriven, re-upholstered and given another well-remunerated seat at Very Serious Media table in time to grease the skids of the next Republican catastrophe

Over and over again.  Around and around.  Wreck a government.  Build a lifeboat.  Sail in a circle. Come back to the scene of your old crime dressed in new threads.  Wreck the government again. Build another lifeboat.  

Mr. Wolf is always on the job. *

Which brings us to Ms. Kathleen Parker, who, for awhile seemed to have been so stunned with poison from the collective wingnut venom sac back she dared to suggest that the Scintilla from Wasilla was maybe not up to the job of vice president of the United States that it seems just barely possible Ms. Parker might stop being a reliable Republican-enabling Beltway Both Siderist stooge.

But mortgages must be paid, and wet bars must be restocked.  And actually breaking with the doctrine of the High and Holy Church of Both Sides Do It to ride off and tilt at wingnut windmills is still professional suicide.  And so, inevitably, Mr. Parker has shaken off her encounter with the nekkid Id of the GOP and gone back to what she does best:  being a reliable Beltway Both Siderist stooge.

And while her Friday headline was a good example of pissy Villager trolling (h/t Alert Reader WA for sending it my way) -- 
How Democrats won the presidency
-- and the article atop which it perches is as fine a slice of Republican Detachment Disorder as I have seen, it is her follow-on article from yesterday that is the real winner:
Can centrism be a movement?
It's so thick and rich with Both Siderist awful that it goes down...and then comes right back up an ipecac milkshake.

Here are a few of the gooier nuggets:
While Manhattan’s already snarled streets filled beyond capacity with limos toting dignitaries, a quieter, less-theatrical group of thinkers and leaders was meeting to discuss strategies for a rising new political center...

The Sunday event was the inaugural “Ideas Summit” of the New Center, the policy arm of No Labels, an organization dedicated to restoring bipartisanship and a centrist governing philosophy in Washington...”

And about 100 politicians, financial backers and others convened to hear former British prime minister Tony Blair in a conversation with Joe Lieberman,a former U.S. senator from Connecticut and a No Labels co-chair..

Contrary to early criticism of No Labels as a front for right-leaning 1-percenters, and its predicted failure, the group’s composition and much of what it proposes are very much in the middle of the muddle. Successful by most measures, the organization has about 15 staffers and, importantly, a group of committed financiers who can underwrite political campaigns in the absence of party support...
Because there will always, always, always be money in the banana shack for anyone who will boldly blame Both Sides for Republican perfidy and treason.

And, finally...
But, I asked, can centrism really become a movement? Does it need a party?

Said Lieberman: “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says we have to have a two-party system. We can do whatever we want.”

Indeed, we can.

In other words...

Behold, a Tip Jar!

* Fixed.  Thanks for the catch.

Wildly-Overpaid Teevee Opinion Man Does Not Understand How Free Speech Works

For a man who is paid (at last report) $77K a week, every week, to spout inane Conservative bullshit on MSNBC three hours a day, every day, Joey Joe Joe Junior Scarborough clearly has no fucking idea how this "free speech" thing works.
Well, as leader of all liberal activities in Casablanca, I am an influential and respected man.  So allow me to explain.


So even Joey can understand.

First, "free speech" is indeed a cardinal American value.   A pillar of our democracy, so important that we enshrined it in the very first amendment to our Constitution.  So important we even tolerate it being abused to the point where clowns like Joe Scarborough are paid vast sums of money to spout inane Conservative bullshit on MSNBC three hours a day, every day.  Because that's how we roll here in the U S of A.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But the thing is, Congress has made no law abridging the freedom of speech of skinheads or Nazis or even basic meatheads like Joe so no ones actual free speech rights are being trampled on in any way that the Constitution would recognize as unconstitutional.

Second, protest is speech you fucking idiot.

Remember these assholes, Joe?  Bulldozing their way through town halls?  Shouting down anyone who didn't agree that Barack Obama was a dirty, dirty Kenyan commie who was going to take away your tiny penis compensators and  kill your sainted white granny with Death Panels?

Packing public parks, shrieking about the blood of tyrants...

...threatening "Second Amendment solutions"* if their unhinged paranoid claptrap wasn't taken seriously?

Funny, but I can't seem to find a single column by Joe Scarborough during the rise of the Fake Tea Party in which he gets up on his hind legs about their shoutycracker tactics.  

Instead I found this:
The truth about the tea party

By JOE SCARBOROUGH 10/21/2012 12:57 PM EDT

...let’s not get bogged down by history. Instead, we can blow apart this fanciful meme by reviewing the tea party’s short history. Let’s simply review how terrible the tea party has been for the GOP.

— They energized a conservative movement battered by eight years of bloated Republicanism,

— they shocked the political world by taking Ted Kennedy’s seat,

— they put Obama Democrats in a constant defensive crouch,

— they led the resistance against “Obamacare,”

— they helped bring about the largest legislative landslide in U.S. history in 2010,

— they grabbed six seats in the U.S. Senate that year,

— they helped elect six governors,

— they helped win 700 seats in state legislatures, and

— they helped elect a Republican majority that included the largest number of Republicans elected since 1946.

With a track record like that, the Republican Party had better watch their backs. If this trend keeps up, they might just win the White House and the Senate.

Regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, the general theme that the tea party has been bad for the GOP is pure malarkey.
Finally, and burying the Ridiculousness Needle in the red, considering that the Right has their own teevee network (Fox), and another teevee network  (Sinclair), and their own religion with its own megachurches and media platforms, and half of MSNBC and half of CNN, more than half of the seats on every god damn panel on every god damn Sunday show (which are then padded out with Conservative enablers known in the business as "Cillizzae"), half the op-ed pages in major American newspapers, their own book publishing houses, their own magazines,  god-knows how many think-tanks, foundations, white-paper generators, advocacy groups and myriad wingnut welfare funded websites...

...and their own stable of crackpot plutocrat billionaires footing the bill for any little thing their fascist movement might need...

...and they control the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court...

...and you can't turn on terrestrial radio anywhere in America without Rush or Sean or Laura or Mark or The Lesser Reagan puking out toxic Conservative hatespeech 24/7/365...

... tell me Joe, how exactly is Conservative speech under dire threat by a few universities that choose not to give platforms to a few fucking Nazis, or by protesters raising their voices loud enough to momentarily drown out the tidal wave of poisonous Conservative bile in which we are drowning? 

Behold, a Tip Jar!

*Thank you for the catch.  I wrote this at ramming speed and with no rear-view mirror :-)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Podcasts? How Do They Work?

When I saw this headline in The Week, I was confused --
How a new generation of left-wing podcasters are dethroning Rush Limbaugh and right-wing talk radio
-- because I don't remember anyone from The Week dropping by our hobbit hole to interview the cast and crew of The Professional Left Podcast.  Or even calling us on the "telephone" machine now that we have regular, party-line service here in the middle of Middle America,

At any rate, at first I was excited, because apparently "we" are 'sploding!  And who doesn't like to be 'sploding!
...Starting with Rush Limbaugh in the late 1980s, influential personalities have projected their grievances and biases onto millions of listeners, who have rewarded these hosts with wealth and incredible influence in Republican politics. Efforts to deliberately build an alternative network of left-wing radio shows have all ended in the same way: with failure, none more spectacular than the 2010 implosion of Air America.

Suddenly, though, Limbaugh has company.

Since the election, subscribership to a series of left-leaning podcasts has exploded...
Then I read a little further and became a little less excited:
The most prominent is Pod Save America, the brainchild of former Obama administration speechwriters Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett, as well as former Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. Episodes draw anywhere from 800,000 to 1.4 million listeners. Those numbers rival major cable programs, and in some cases eclipse household name shows like Morning Joe and Anderson Cooper 360.

The Pod Save empire also includes programs like Pod Save the World and Pod Save the People, all of which have strong numbers. Vox's podcasts, including The Weeds and The Ezra Klein Show, are also extremely popular...
The left's new stars are actual experts in public policy — people like former Obama strategist David Axelrod (of The Axe Files) — more than people who are famous for being famous.
It appears that as long as you're a former Obama speechwriter ... or you can get Jeff Bezos to finance your new media platform ... or you're a former Obama speechwriter ... or you're a former Obama spokesperson ... or a former Obama political chieftain ... or a former Obama speechwriter ... this new "podcast" thingie may open a door into a whole new future.

Because it is indeed undeniably true that the Left needs a reliable way to reach a broad and diverse audience as inexpensively and effectively as the Right used talk radio:
Conservative dominance of the airwaves allowed the right to do one of the most important things in public life: "agenda-setting." By communicating to conservative listeners what is important and what they should care about, Limbaugh and his fellow movement conservatives were able to direct which issues their listeners would feel most passionately about. Not only that, but they also engaged in "framing," which means they were not just setting the agenda but also offering a set of preferred options about how to achieve it.

In a 2000 study, David Barker and Kathleen Knight found that Limbaugh was able to move the needle on the issues he was most hopping mad about at any given time, and that his listeners showed "hostility toward those items beyond what can be accounted for by ideology, party identification, exposure to other conservative messages, affect for Limbaugh, or a host of other factors." Limbaugh's withering attacks on "the beautiful people," as well as "feminazis" (a disgusting term he helped popularize on the right), for example, were so effective that this year the scholar Robert Brown deemed him the "president of talk radio."

That is incredible influence for someone who possesses no meaningful advanced background in politics or policy....
And with the ubiquity of smartphones, this new "podcast" doohicky may  finally begin to do for the Left what talk radio did for the Right: defeat the limits of geography and allow us to reach people wherever they are, from wherever we are.
Right-wing radio's success was partly geographic. Republicans, who, very broadly speaking, tend to live outside of major cities and prefer the car-centric lifestyle of ranch houses, strip malls, and sprawl, spend more time driving to work than the average Democrat, making them available in huge numbers for over-the-air or satellite radio programs piped directly into their cars. By contrast, many urban-dwelling liberals walk, bike, or take public transit to work, and in many major cities, radio signals as well as the internet are unavailable on trains. Podcasts resolve this issue by downloading automatically onto smartphones for all subscribers, who can listen to the show even when they are being shunted to work 50 feet underground.
Provided "wherever we are" is Los Angeles.
Or New York.
Or Washington D.C. :-)

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Morning Comin' Down: So Say We All Edition

What is there to add but...

If you need a little more, head on over to Jay Rosen's house for a brief, intense course is how journalism's own code has created a closed loop that has become a noose:
Normalizing Trump: An incredibly brief explainer 
A conflict in the journalist's code was created by a president wholly unfit for the job.

Behold, a Tip Jar!