Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Both Siderism is the Disease That's Killing Us


Without an army of reliable Beltway Both Siderist goons on duty 24/7/365 for the last 30 years insuring that no matter what atrocity Republicans commit on any given day, the accountability for that atrocity is automatically dispersed harmlessly onto Both Sides/everyone, the rise of monsters like Trump or Dubya would never have been possible.

So how adorably Orwellian that this --


-- is the header image on CNN's Twitter page.




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David Sirota To Bring His Mad Ninja Skillz to the Sanders Campaign



So Jill Stein flack from The Intercept --

-- and The Intercept Wannabe guy are going to run coms for Bernie Sanders.
What makes this especially perfect is that it comes almost exactly ten years after Mr. Sirota's tearful, smarmy Letter of Resignation from The Internets.  Ironically, OpenLeft, where this was originally published, has gone the way of all flesh.  But thanks to the amazing Blue Gal and her magical ways with the Internet Wayback Machine, Mr. Sirota's kiss goodbye to political activism and writing as the work of intellectually unserious goofs who will never live up to his standards will live forever:
In Case You Think I'm Dead and Gone...
by: David Sirota
Mon May 18, 2009 at 17:12

So a brief programming note: May 31st, 2009 will be my last day as a full-time political blogger, and, really, my last day as a full-time political writer of any sort. This is (obviously) a major change for me. 

After long discussions/deliberations with various members of my trusted Kitchen Cabinet (which includes, among others, Chris Bowers), I'm making a bunch of career moves/adjustments, admittedly very quickly and very abruptly (that's how I roll, I guess). If you care what this means - whether because you are interested in my work, in OpenLeft in general, or just out of voyeuristic pleasure - read on. If you don't care, skip this post, move on, and try, if you can, to control your desire to snipe in the comments section. 

From May 31st to June 17th, I will be Mostly Off the Grid on stateside trips to conferences (the America's Future Now conference in particular) and at the Jersey Shore with family. From June 18th to July 12th, I will be Completely Off the Grid in China. When I get back, I will no longer be employed by the Campaign for America's Future and my role here at OpenLeft will be reduced to the Morning Blogger - that is, I will be posting one post a day in the morning, and that's it. Additionally, I am curtailing most of - and likely all of - my direct political activism indefinitely.
...

The reason for this change is fairly simple: I'm in need of something more creative, and I want to get back to the basics of writing. It is my passion, it is what I love - and I am interested in more than just the hard-core political world, whose media (blogospheric/magazines/TV shows/etc.) and activist outlets in the Dear Leader Era I believe are becoming less and less creative, more and more sycophantic, and ultimately, completely unstimulating.*

I say that with an asterisk, though - and that asterisk is In These Times and OpenLeft. Those are two of the few places where I think generally creative and bold-thinking writing is still being done - by journalists, front-pagers, diarists and commenters. That's why, in fact, I am going to keep writing on a limited basis for both...
So that never happened.  At all.  Instead Mr. Sirota went almost immediately into the lucrative business of slagging Barack Obama as Worse Than Boosh!

Well the years pass, and the Sanders campaign is free to hire whoever it believes gives them the best chance of winning.  So perhaps, to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and good faith, since they're apparently never gonna release ten years of Senator Sanders' taxes, the very least they could do would be something like, say, releasing the last ten years of Mr. Sirota Tweets, warts and all.

Oops.

Never mind.



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David Brooks is Wanking Into his Both Siderist Gym Sock Again


From The New York Times:
Cory Booker Finds His Moment

Do Democrats want the fist or the open hand?

...
Some people believe that fire can be fought only with fire. We’ve got to face the world as it is. If the other side is going after you with full viciousness, you’ve got to find a leader who can do the same to them. This is a knife fight. We need a brawler.

This is the argument white evangelicals made in deciding to back Donald Trump. We’re under siege. He’ll fight for us.

And this is the argument many of the Democratic campaigns are already making. Republicans are irredeemable. Racism is ubiquitous. Capitalist greed is ubiquitous. We need someone who can match Trump blow for blow...
You see, from Mr. Brooks' cloistered, privileged little perch deep inside the Beltway Bubble, he is literally incapable to seeing any difference between fascism and fighting fascist.  Between racism and fighting racism.

 Between one side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge --


-- and the other.

All Mr. Brooks ever knows about such matters is that Both Bides are making Loud Noises when they should be Hugging It Out, so obviously Both Sides are to blame for whatever it is they are fighting over.

This is why Mr. Brooks' poor ol' Both Siderist wankin' sock has to weigh at least a ten thousand pounds by now, with a crust as thick as Arctic permafrost.

There are mastodons and saber tooth tigers buried in there. The ruins of ancient civilizations are trapped in there too, like insects in amber.

You know what else is sealed away in there?  Lost and forgotten under layers and layers of desiccated Both Siderist splooge?

The entire fucking Obama administration.

Yep.  Damn thing never happened. Which is why Mr. Brooks can write this with a straight face:
But I’d say that [Corey] Booker has a fuller and more realistic view of our situation. Fanaticism is not the normal human state. Fanaticism is a disease that grows out of existential anxiety. It grows when people fear that they are being delegitimized. It grows when people are isolated and insulated from one another. It grows when you have leaders, like our president, who reduce everything to us/them stereotypes and so poison the public mind. 
The disease is in our context and not in our souls. And that context can be changed with better leadership...
Golly, if only Democrats would elect a president who is calm and humane.  Formidably intelligent and fundamentally decent.  A president who would reach out to Republicans to a fault, no matter how ruthlessly they slander him, how scurrilously they attack his family and no matter how relentlessly they sabotage anything he tries to accomplish, even if it means filibustering their own bills.

But of course Democrats did try that, didn't we?

I remember it like it was yesterday.  I'm sure you do too, as do billions of human beings around the world.  How very, very strange it is, therefor, that quite possibly the only adult human on the planet who doesn't remember a single thing about the Obama administration is the senior Conservative political/cultural columnist for The New York Times.

So since I know Mr. Brooks (or his minions) read this blog, let us take them by the hand and travel up the road a few blocks to the offices of  New York Magazine where Jonathan Chait is testing Mr. Brooks' idiotic theory that Republicans aren't really aggressively ignorant racist zombies who would rather see the country burn that let a Democrat govern it -- it's just that they need "better leadership" to change their "context" -- against what actually happened when Democrats elected a good and decent president:
The Most Unrealistic Promise Democrats Are Making Is to Restore Bipartisanship
...The Obama presidency was an eight-year experiment in the possibility of obtaining Republican support for major initiatives. It is impossible to imagine a more conclusive result. Despite having jacked up the deficit during the entirety of the presidencies both before and after Obama’s, Republicans spent the entire time insisting on massive fiscal austerity despite facing objectively the most favorable conditions for stimulus spending since World War II. Obama’s offer to support John McCain’s cap-and-trade plan and Mitt Romney’s health-care plan drew almost zero Democratic and zero Republican votes, respectively. Republicans wouldn’t even accept a deal to trim Medicare spending in return for tax reform. 
McConnell publicly stated his logic at the time: putting the bipartisan imprimatur on Obama’s policies would make the policies popular. More than mere strategy was at work. By waging partisan war against any of Obama’s initiatives, Republicans helped persuade their voters that his ideas — even those with a solid moderate Republican pedigree — were dangerous socialism. And the more fearful Republican voters became, the harder it was for Republicans to negotiate anything with Obama.”...
So given that we have already tried the "Perfect Brooksian Candidate" experiment ... and given that it not only failed spectacularly to change the attitude or trajectory of the Republican base in any appreciable way, but actually amped up their preexisting racism and paranoia so high that they nominated and elected the King of the Birthers ... and given that Donald Trump now enjoys the solid and enthusiastic support of 90% of Republican voters ... you might be asking yourself from the bottom of what pop-skull whiskey bottle is David Brooks divining that the Republican base really are just good folks who have been cruelly misrepresented and are in need of nothing more than hug and a handkerchief from a black, Ivy League-educated Democratic senator.

Well like any big-league journalist, cracking a major story like this, he sussed it out by by having a lunch with some "locals" --
I write this to you from Nebraska City, Neb., just over the Iowa line. I just had lunch with 15 locals...
-- at which none of the piercing insights into Trump or Republicans or human nature with which Mr. Brooks has festooned his column were in any way discussed:
...many probably Trump supporters and some probably not. But it didn’t come up. 
You see, the special value Mr. Brooks bring to The New York Times -- the special skill set for which  the House of Sulzberger pays him such a princely sum -- is that he has transcended mere journalism and no longer requires "facts" or "quotes" to confirm his opinions.   All Mr. Brooks needs to do is observe how these hardy Nebraska natives wrangled their fajitas over lunch while talking football and cattle prices to know that all of them were the very best of people.  That, in fact, all people are the very best people,  That evil is an illusion and that anyone who thinks otherwise is deranged:
The idea that any of these good people are “downright evil” because of some political affiliation is ridiculous and a sign of how deranged our discourse has become.
Like most of his Beltway media fellow travelers, Mr. Brooks is desperate for his readers to believe all kinds of contradictory claptrap all at once, and not ask him any questions about any of it.

For instance, he wants his readers to believe that the monster that is Donald Trump is somehow completely unrelated to the Republican monster factory that spawned him and nourishes him.

However he also wants his readers to believe that reversing and repairing the damage done by the decades of Limbaugh and Gingrich and rage and racism rotting out his Republican Party is somehow entirely the responsibility of the next Democratic president, while at the same time believing that the only acceptable way for any Democratic president to fix everything that is wrong with our politics is to rerun the Obama Experiment exactly as before while also simultaneously pretending that the Obama Experiment never happened.

But in the end, what Mr. Brooks needs above all else it to convince his readers to refuse to recognize evil when they see it.  To train them look for evil only when it comes stomping up to their doors with cloven hooves, wearing a name tag...

...but never recognize it when it takes the form of a banal little mediocrity who dispenses toxic little lies cloaked in the language of piety for The New York Times.


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Monday, March 18, 2019

Take The Driftglass Challenge!


What is "The Driftglass Challenge"?

Easy.

Go back to 2013 and try to warn your friends and allies about the future that's coming down the pike.

This future.  The one where  Ben Carson, Ben Shapiro, Ken Starr, and Glenn Greenwald are on Fox News yucking it up with Laura Ingraham.

Then watch as they mock you as a drooling, jackbooted O-Bot lunatic.

Ah, but of course that's impossible isn't it?

There is no going back. 

The only available direction is forward, and so we go forward, hoping to navigate the shoals and storms of the future by learning the lessons it has to teach us so that we might avoid making the same mistakes over and over and over again. 

Which is why anyone who lies to you about the past and demands that you go along with the lie -- anyone who insists that it's just too risky to go poking around there looking for explanations and accountability -- cannot be trusted.


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Now That Fox News Has Reduced Juan Williams to a Perpetual Punch-Line...


...and Susan Estrich is basically a Halloween mask floating in a puddle of Roger Ailes' leftover chardonnay, I wonder if would even be possible to find another Clinton-era "liberal" they can convince to trash what remains of their reputations in exchange for a large pile of money.

After all, now that the mission and business model of Trump Teevee is no longer a mystery to anyone -- now that they have dropped any pretense of being anything other than a fascist lie PEZ-dispenser and sexual-predator petting zoo -- it's got to be a very, very tricky...

Oh.

Wait.

Never mind.



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Update: The Average Size of the Illinois State Capitol's Daily Paper...


...is now smaller than the copies of GRIT kids used to hawk door-to-door back in the day.


The paper itself is a shell (from the Illinois Times):
SJ-R cuts sports editor
Adams laid off last week
By Bruce Rushton

State Journal-Register sports editor Todd Adams was laid off last Friday in what one source says was an economic move.

Adams’ departure came two days after SJ-R newsroom employees, plus editorial employees at the Peoria Journal Register and Rockford Register Star, were offered buyouts. Workers have until today to sign up for buyouts...
The offices, a ghost-town.
Don't let the door hit you
SJ-R employees offered buyouts
By Bruce Rushton

Newsroom employees at the State Journal-Register are being offered buyouts, with the prospect of layoffs on the horizon.

The buyout offer from GateHouse Media, the paper’s corporate owner, was made Wednesday, with employees told they have until Monday to volunteer to be let go. Under a newsroom collective bargaining agreement, employees who accept a buyout would be paid one week of pay for every year of service, to a maximum of 15 weeks...

There aren’t many reporters left to cut. City hall reporter Crystal Thomas is leaving the paper on Friday to cover the Missouri legislature for the Kansas City Star. Her departure will leave the SJ-R with five news reporters, including Doug Finke, Dean Olsen, Brendan Moore, Bernard Schoenberg and Steven Spearie. Fifteen writers, editors and photographers have left the paper in the last six years without being replaced...
As the stalwart Big Box advertisers of the days of yore evaporated and Facebook and Amazon gobbled up the rest, the paper has become more and more dependent on exactly the same source of revenue as every scrappy little blogger and independent podcaster: listener or reader support.   In the case of the newspaper, this means paid subscriptions.

And as keeping paid subscribers down here in Trump-country happy has become more and more directly tied to keeping the doors open and the lights on at the State Journal-Register, it will come as no surprise that on the op-ed page, the Michael Gersons and the Jennifer Rubins have been gradually phased out in favor of explicitly red-meat lunatics like Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter and Marc Thiessen.

You see, out here in the real world. it's no big secret what sort of toxic drivel Trump-loving Republican really want to read when they crack open their paper in the morning.

And however objectively corrosive it might be to our democracy, to keep from going under, the Illinois state capitol's daily paper is gonna keep feeding it to them until they board the place up and auction off the artwork and office equipment. 

Update:  Just in case you thought I was exaggerating or playing tricksie Photoshop games with you, here is this morning's State Journal-Register.  It is, by my rough, estimating-the-weight-of-a-bag-of-weed-while-in-a-very-big-hurry judgement to be even lighter and smaller than the twig of a paper that landed on my steps yesterday.








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From Sarlacc Pits...



...to Sicilian Messages... 



...our humble home is a wonderland of movie and literary references if you look at things the right way.


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Sunday Morning Comin' Down: Reruns, Because It's Always Reruns




From Crooks & Liars:
Chuck Todd Suggests America's Toxic Politics Is Obama's Fault: He Didn't 'Bring This Country Together'

NBC News' weakest link continues to normalize the GOP's destruction of democratic norms and institutions by blaming President Barack Obama for the Republican Party's obstructionism.


From the Meet the Press transcript:
CHUCK TODD:   You're not the first candidate to say, "I'm going to bring this country together." The most recent Democratic president a lot of people put their hope in and thought he was the answer that was going to do that. Why do you think that didn't happen in Obama's eight years? 
Longtime readers might remember that back in the long ago time when Tim Russert hosted Meet the Press and The Chris Matthews Show was a thing--



-- each Sunday I would rise early at Castle Driftglass, gird my loins, and dutifully and energetically "document the atrocities" of various Sunday Shows.

Over the years I changed the name of this feature a few times, spiced it up as YouTube video and embeddable Tweets became available (yes, I have been at this that long) and gradually stopped paying any attention to Fox News at all because frankly why bother?  Fox Sunday programming has always been a shitshow of lies, Liberal slandering and Republican propaganda.  That was the purpose for which Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch created it, and there was never any chance that it was ever going to do anything but slouch its away to the lower and lower the dankest, most overtly-fascist circles of media Hell.

Instead, over the years, I shifted my focus the the "respectable" shows.  "Meet the Press". "Face the Nation". "This Week With...Whoever is Subbing for Snuffleupagus This Week".  My admittedly vain hope was that since these sorts of corporate programs had to at least pretending to care about facts and journalism, that as the GOP slid further and further into unhinged, public lunacy, it might be possible to occasionally shame these programs into paying some kind of tribute to the truth.

As I said, this was a vain hope.  Our corporate political media is institutionally incapable of reforming itself.  Because although I wrote this specifically about Tom Friedman 14 years ago, it was and is broadly applicable to the entire Beltway media all the time.   Remember as you read this that it was written by me during the darkest days of the Dubya administration.  This was the year Barack Obama was sworn in as the junior senator from Illinois, and Donald Trump wasn't even a twinkle in David Duke's eye.
[According to Tom Friedman] the Universe is carefully divided into Conservatives – who are wrong – and Liberals – who are somehow, mysteriously and equally wrong all the time and in equal numbers on every issue. And only Captain Obvious, frolicking across the few lonely yards of sand on his Isle of Reasonableness, can see the truth.

It does not matter how many millions of miles the Shining Path Republicans drag the “middle ground” to the Right.

It doesn’t matter that the Party of Lincoln is now infested crotch-to-crown with maggoty Segregationists.

It doesn’t matter that Nixon looks like a fucking Socialist compared to the positions now being advocated by the GOP today.

However far into the Armageddonist Abyss the wingnuts charge, Captain Obvious will dutifully pace off half that distance back towards where the Left (the band formerly know as “Rockefeller Republicans”) happened to be that day, drive his little stake into that shifting ground and declare that THIS is where the treasure of Comity and Reasonableness is buried. And that everyone on either side of his little islet is equally and oppositely wrong.

And then stamp his chubby little feet and whine that No One Is Listening to Him!



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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Today In Both Sides Do It: The Nice Polite Republicans Strike Again



At some point after the corporate media sent journalism to the cornfield, the Nice Polite Republicans (NPR) of the Tote Bag Media figured out that the safest place for them spiritually and financially was far above in all, on a cloud of pure, transcendent Both Siderism -- floating so high above everything that it would no longer be possible to make out the basic facts of anything.  They have cultivated an attitude of aloof, reflexive aversion to even the appearance of taking sides that is now so deeply rooted in the NPR culture that if you flip over any rock anywhere in that world you're like as not going to find a story that has been brutally amputated in some crucial way to fit within NPR's Procrustean "Both Sides Do It" Bed

So, for example, (h/t Alter Tweeter Irrevent Duo) today we find the NPR-distributed program, 1A, espousing what has what is indeed the Worst Take Ever On HR 1 Voting Rights (via Crooks & Liars(:


"Democrats in the House are trying to introduce HR1, which would expand and protect voting rights, however Republicans claim it would increase voter fraud, and we just saw a huge voter fraud scandal in North Carolina."
Pause.

Think happy thoughts.

Inhale.

Pause.

Exhale.

That huge voter fraud scandal in North Carolina?

It was committed by Republicans.

And yet this absolutely central fact is casually lopped off so a story about voter fraud will fit into the Both Siderist coffin which the reporter had already built.

  

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Professional Left Podcast #485


“The sovereign is called a tyrant who knows no laws but his caprice.”
-- Voltaire, writer

Don't forget to visit our new website -- http://www.proleftpod.com -- 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!



Links:



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