Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Vultures, Vultures Everywhere



As part of a nascent and irregular feature* on this blog, let us once again travel back roughly eight years and check in with President-elect Barack Obama.

Is he busy tweeting insults on Twitter, appointing dangerous lunatics to powerful positions in the federal government, lying about vote fraud or upending American foreign policy to make himself a trifle wealthier?

Nope, nope, nope and...nope.

Historical Note:  The post below mentions something called "awards" which were a thing that existed in the ancient blogging world.  In this case, the "Weblog Award" for Individual Blogger was something I won back in 2008 thanks to the energetic support of readers like you.  The same year, Andrew Sullivan won the "Best Blog" award.  In 2009 they shut the whole shebang down, which just goes to show you.  Also of minor historical note, in the original comment section a reader asked me how my job search was going.  A question which, like The Exorcist, just keeps getting funnier every time I think about it. Post also contains a reference to "Norm Coleman", who was a scary Disney character made up mostly of teeth and bullshit which Disney discontinued because it was giving kids nightmares.

Me, from January 14, 2009:

Everybody Comes to Barack’s

“Round up the usual suspects” Edition

So this happened:
Obama Pulls Up a Chair at George Will's House

By Michael D. Shear
Where does one dine a week before becoming the leader of the free world?

At the Chevy Chase, Md., house of conservative columnist George Will.

President-elect Barack Obama left his temporary home at the Hay-Adams Hotel at just after 6:15 this evening, arriving about 20 minutes later at Will's house, valued at $1.9 million.

Aides said the visit was a dinner party; eagle-eyed reporters spotted two other conservative columnists among the guests: William Kristol of the Weekly Standard and David Brooks of the New York Times.

This from the pool report, issued minutes ago: "Thanks to an enterprising photographer, a shot through a window showed op-ed stalwarts William Kristol and David Brooks are also part of this unlikely gathering of tight, right suits."
And while there is no official word on what they discussed, but running a sophisticated poly-dimensional analysis of sound vibrations picked up off the window, lip reading, and flatulence all run through the Mass Speculatometer 3000, it probably sounded a little something like this...

KRISTOL
Do you mind if I ask you a few
questions? Unofficially, of course.


OBAMA
Make it official, if you like.


KRISTOL
What is your nationality?

OBAMA
I'm an Islamofascist.

BOBO BROOKS
(scribbles madly)
Pulitzer here I come!

OBAMA
That was a joke.
I was born in Hawaii if that'll
help you any.

KRISTOL
I understand you lived overseas for awhile.

OBAMA
There seems to be no secret about
that.

KRISTOL
Are you one of those people who cannot
imagine the free market in your beloved
Socialist France?

OBAMA
It's not particularly my beloved
France.

WILL
Can you imagine us in London?

OBAMA
Now that you have fucked up the
global economyfor the next 30 years,
only

in Monty Python sketches.

BOBO
Ho, diplomatist!

KRISTOL
How about Chicago?

OBAMA
Try making a living peddling rims and tee-shirts
on Maxwell Street and then come back and
talk to me about “capitalism”.

KRISTOL
Aha. Who do you think will win the
culture war?

OBAMA
I haven't the slightest idea.

BOBO
I read in my column in the NYT that Barack is
completely neutral about everything.

KRISTOL
You weren't always so carefully
neutral. We have a complete dossier
on you.

"Barack Obama, allegedly American. Possibly
forty-seven. Used ACORN to cheat Caribou
Barbie and that old guy out of the White House ."

How you did it is a little vague. We
know you love tax increases, Mr.
Obama, and also we know that you used
to be cool with gay marriage.

Don't worry. We are not going to
broadcast it.

Barack looks up from the book.

OBAMA
Is my skin really brown?

KRISTOL
You will forgive my curiosity, Mr.
Obama. The point is, the enemies of
corporate feudalism have come to the Village
and we wanna know which side you are on.

OBAMA
My interest in whether your fucked up
Mainstream Media stays or goes is purely
a pragmatic one.

KRISTOL
In this case, you have no sympathy
for Fox News, huh?

OBAMA
Not particularly. I understand the
point of view of the Rachel Maddow, too.

KRISTOL
Anonymous bloggers publish the foulest
lies on Teh Internets every day, and even after
David Broder called them potty-mouthed
poo-heads they continued to post their
Liberal trash.

BOBO
Of course, one must admit, some of them are
pretty fucking funny.

KRISTOL

I admit they can be clever.
From l'affaire Jeff Gannon to the US Attorney
unpleasantness they have vexed us.

With our beloved Mooselini


they continue their slander,
We intend not to let it happen again.

Obama gets up.

OBAMA
You'll excuse me, gentlemen. Your
business is bitching about trivia and pimping
your failed ideology. Mine is running
the world.


Later, to escape the sounds of Angry Neocon Love coming out of George Will’s sex dungeon wine cellar, Brooks slipped out on the porch with the President-Elect. Then, after a long, uncomfortable pause punctuated only by the sounds of traffic, the muffled, far-away shrieks of Billy Kristol in the transports of welt-raising deregulatory ecstasy, and the eye-rolling of the President-elect…

BOBO
What in heaven's name brought
you to the Center?

OBAMA
My political health. I came to Center for the waters.

BOBO
The waters? What waters?
The Center is a fucking desert!

OBAMA
I was misinformed.

In the months and years to come will see waves of dispossessed Conservatives -- Ideologically Displaced Persons -- washing up on our shores and looking for a home. And once they've wiped their filthy little feet on the Rug of Contrition and gone through decontam they will be surprised at what a relatively hospitable joint we run here over here on the Left side of the Earth.

Because the Liberal phantasms that have kept them angrily mesmerized their entire lives have been products of their own viciously partisan propaganda.

Over here in the Real World, we value hard work. Self-sustaining communities. Good schools.

Healthy, well-informed citizens.

Choice, for everybody.

Marriage, for everybody.

A government based on transparency and rigorous, well-considered performance standards.

Taxes that balance the need to pay for the infrastructure and the maintenance of the commons without need to promote creativity and the entrepreneurial drive that makes the wheels go ‘round.

And whatever their history, people who share these values and are willing to work on the means of realizing them are our allies and should be greeted as such.

So in that light, I understand Obama’s gesture. I don't agree with it, but I get the idea that, as Lincoln said, we destroy our enemies when we make friends of them.

But while that idea might contain some truth, this is also undoubtedly true:

BOBO
My dear Barack, you overestimate the influence
of the Wingtards. I don't interfere with them and
they don't interfere with me. I am a Reasonable
Conservative and master of my fate! I am...

LEE ATWATER'S GHOST
Ronald Reagan’s zombified corpse is here, sir!

OBAMA
You were saying?

BOBO
Excuse me.

That as long as the livelihoods of men like Brooks, Kristol and Will depend on defending an obscene doctrine and ripping the guts out of anyone who opposes their loathsome agenda -- no matter deeply they bury the blade under layers of silk batting -- they remain democracy’s enemies.

And until a Conservative of any age, race, gender or class can cheerfully make a bonfire out of their dog-eared copies of --
“Atlas Shrugged”
“Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America”
“The World According to Ann Coulter”
“Hollywood Nation: Left Coast Lies, Old Media Spin, and the New Media Revolution”
“Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild”
“The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values”
“The O'Reilly Factor for Kids”
“Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism
“Setting the Woods on Fire”,
“Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down”
“Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and their Assault on America”
“The Case Against Barack Obama”
“Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning...

-- and a thousand others and pee on the ashes and walk away feeling the better for it, they simply cannot be trusted inside our perimeter.

ps. Thanks to the astonishing labors of many, kind peers, friends and complete strangers, I have apparently won the 2008 Weblog Award for Best Individual Blogger. Which stuns me. However until the Secretary of State completes the correct paperwork or Norm Coleman concedes, nothing is certified or official, so I’ll wait for The Word before posting a proper “Thank You”.

Until then, many, many thanks.

* Ironically, "nascent and irregular" is also my shirt size.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Today In Both Sides Do It: Van Jones


From Mediaite:
Elitism Makes Democrats ‘Disrespectful’: Van Jones Talks Post-Election Unity

...
“A lot of liberals think that all of Trump voters are part of the alt-right, neo-Nazi camp, which is not true,” Jones said. He explained that while many Trump voters were “not delighted” by some of Trump’s rhetoric, they had “other hurts” that compelled them to vote for the mogul over the former Secretary of State.

Jones moved on to say that both major political parties have blind spots. Democrats, he said, can be elitist and ignore middle-American “red state voters.” He stated that many liberals think conservatives are dumb, which “makes that party disrespectful.”

The Republicans’ blind spot is racial, said Jones. He explained that the party ignores the issues of people of color by promoting the idea of “color-blind meritocracy.”
...
The Beltway appeasement dollar remains the most reliable Beltway dollar of all.

Sunday Morning Comin' Down



"Those Magnificent Men in their Lying Machines" Edition

Until I woke up in a puddle of my own sick in the alley behind Wonkette's Discount Opium Emporium with this article stapled to my chest, I did not realize that the under-card of the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics and Herpetology event at which Kellyanne Conway went berserk and (it is rumored) garroted several undergrads...featured none other than CNN's own dancing souless teevee executive caricature --


-- Jeff Zucker.

Mr. Zucker is one of many the network executives who regularly sow dragon's teeth (h/t Stephen King) and then act baffled when dragons start popping up to eat us all up.  Of course you almost you never see these greasy little fiends who are strip-mining our democracy for cash and prizes on camera because they and their cronies own the cameras and their HR department are papered with the resumes of the very people a healthy democracy would ordinarily rely on to afflict these weasels.

So it takes an event like this --
The event, a toney dinner of 200 or so campaign operatives, journalists and academics at the Charles Hotel, featured Zucker in conversation with Washington Post editor Marty Baron, AP editor Kathleen Carol and Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications and public policy at Facebook...
-- to draw a critter like Jeff Zucker out into the open.

And out he came!
"I have to respectfully push back on the campaign managers who spoke here today, because frankly, respectfully, I think that’s bullshit. Donald Trump was on CNN a lot,” Zucker said, refusing to back down. “That’s because we asked him to do interviews and he agreed to do them. We continuously asked the other candidates to come on and do interviews."
 But almost immediately he saw his shadow --
The room grew increasingly restless and the strategists started piping up, interrupting Zucker and Issenberg.

“I don’t remember getting invited to call in, though,” Sarah Isgur Flores, Carly Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager said, kicking off a parade of comments.

More irritated voices across the room quickly chimed in: “We didn’t get that call.” “We’d be invited for eight seconds.” “At 2 o’clock in the afternoon we’d be invited on,” another said sarcastically.
-- and scuttled right back into his burrow, guaranteeing four more years of shitty "news" coverage:
"It’s not the interviews,” Rubio senior advisor Todd Harris said as another audience member shouted, "You showed empty podiums!"

"You showed hours upon hours of unfiltered unscripted coverage of Trump, this was not about interviews,” he added.

Some members of the audience applauded, and the tension in the room built up as salads were left untouched and more wine was poured.

The table featuring top members of Hillary Clinton's campaign, meanwhile, remained stone-faced and quiet near the back of the room.
...

Zucker was also blasted by journalists when he tried to defend CNN's decision to hire Lewandowski while he was still receiving severance from the campaign.

Lewandowski seized the microphone from the questioner, who broached the topic, in a bid to defend himself, allowing the student to finish asking it, but insisting he was adding value to the CNN airwaves.

Zucker said Lewandowski was a “good investment and decision,” as Lewandowski clapped and the rest of the room remained silent.
Meanwhile, the poison fruits which rodents like Zucker helped to sow and fertilize were dropping from the trees like sacks of wet cement in which the last few shred of honest journalism had been entombed.

Over on CBS, Reince Shortbus was gettin' the job done for his new owner:
While the Gingrich Rules remain in full effect:
“I’m very comfortable if given the amount of time he’s put into this, if President-elect (Trump) says I want Romney, I’m for Romney,” Gingrich said in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If he concludes that Romney could do the job best, then I’m for Romney.”

A trusted adviser on the Trump transition team, Gingrich has been a vocal critic of Romney since his name was floated for the nation’s top diplomatic slot. Just last week, the former House speaker mocked Romney for trying to “suck up” to Mr. Trump, who the one-time Republican presidential nominee had slammed during the 2016 campaign cycle.

Gingrich said he “got no blowback from anybody” for his inflammatory comments, and “until that decision is made, it’s a fair conversation” to have...
On ABC, Mike Pence had little trouble defeating the clever traps George Stephanopoulis laid out for him, because all of those traps depend on Mike Pence spontaneously growing a conscience, which is about as likely as a crop of winter wheat suddenly sprouting on the surface of Phobos.
...
Vice President-elect Mike Pence defended President-elect Donald Trump's recent tweet claiming without evidence that "millions" of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 election.

"It's his right to express his opinion as President-elect of the United States," Pence told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" on Sunday morning. "He’s going to say what he believes to be true, and I know he is always going to speak in that way as president."

When pressed about whether he believes the claim is accurate, Pence said, "I think one of the things that’s refreshing about our president-elect and one of the reasons why I think he had an incredible connection with people all across this country is because he tells you what's on his mind."

"But why is it refreshing to make false statements?" Stephanopoulos said.

"Look, I don't know that that is a false statement," Pence replied.

The vice president-elect also repeatedly cited a Pew Charitable Trusts study on voter registration records. "I think the President-elect wants to call to attention to the fact there has been evidence over many years," he said.

The 2012 Pew study in question focused on the need to update voter registration records...
Meanwhile, for some reason a slice of pure Republicans plutocracy named John Catsimatidis who has bought himself onto the radio felt it was vitally important to solicit the opinion of Holy Joe Lieberman, who one obscure internet crank has called the "lowest god bothering Elmer Gantry with the moral compass of a bus station pickpocket".  And then, also for no explicable reason, The Hill decided you should hear about it.  Would you care to take a wild guess what Holy Joe had to say about there here modern politics?
"To me, both parties better watch out not to go back to the extremes — left and right — and not working with each other..."
No fair!  You peeked.

Early morning update:

Dr. Ben "I'm not qualified to work in gummint" Carson has indeed been tapped to lead the effort to divert as much HUD money as possible away from public housing and into the important work of building mighty pyramids in which we can store our nation's precious grain:




From the New York Times:
Trump Chooses Ben Carson to Lead HUD

So, there you go.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Today In Fairy Tales The Beltway Tells Itself: Matthew Dowd


Mr. Dowd makes a whole buncha sweeping assertions in this brief article such as...
Certain people in the media think leaders need to be more like Trump in attitude, tone, and language.
Which people?  What are their names and, given your long record of making shit up and being wrong about almost everything, why should anyone believe you know what they think anyway?
I believe the vast majority of Americans still want humble servant leaders who respect others and who are dignified in manner. Given the choice voters had this year, they reluctantly chose between two awful choices.
At the rick of repeating myself, given your long record of making shit up and being wrong about almost everything, who cares what you believe?
2018 will be the beginning of the revenge of independent candidates on our broken party system...
The return of Son of the Friedman Unit.
The truth doesn't matter in politics anymore is another unfortunate myth arising after Election Day. Because Trump won and was the least truthful candidate to run for national office in the last century, pundits think this means facts don't matter anymore. In fact, representatives of the Trump campaign have been saying just that. There has arisen a problematic situation in politics and news where there doesn't seem to be a common set of facts, and this will make it hard to come together in consensus on the common good...
The truth is, Matthew Dowd is a terrible, terrible "journalist".  Hey you're right!  The truth does matter!

But far and away my favorite is --
Let's not fall into the trap of thinking anecdotes are a good path to the truth. Anecdotes can reveal certain things, but they can't tell us what a large body of voters are doing.
-- because at no point does Mr. Dowd ever back up a single word he says with, y'know, facts. No links.  No charts.  No studies.  No polls, not even Rasmussen which is basically one step up from a six-year-old doodling on the back of an Arby's place-mat.  Hell, he doesn't even bother to salt his Fool's Gold mine with a few of those charming anecdotes that we're not supposed to pay attention to. Instead all Mr. Dowd's readers get is what they always get from him:  a steady stream of Beltway bromides issuing straight from his ass.

But Mr. Dowd's wild, Beltway-friendly speculations does make Mr. Ron Fournier big in the pants.

And really, isn't that the most important thing?



What Donald Trump Understands About His Supporters

Time To Move This Back To The Top Of The Queue




Friday, December 02, 2016

Professional Left Podcast #365


"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
-- Mark Twain, writer


Links:



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
By DAVID BROOKS

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.

Money.

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?"...