Friday, January 30, 2015

Professional Left Podcast #269

Introduced once again by Kevin's video because I like it.
"Exit, pursued by a bear." .
-- Bill Shakespeare, writer

Da' money goes here:

Ah You Hate To See Another Tired Man

Lay down his hand
Like he was giving up the holy game of poker.

So Andrew "I didn't choose the blog life, the blog life chose me" Sullivan

is calling it quits.

Except he's not.

He's really, really not.

I know, because I'm a blogger.  Been blogging pretty much every day for the last ten years, with no interns, no six weeks off in the summer on the beach and no profitable adoption by a media company that would allow me some down-time and some real, folding-money income.  Back when I had a full time job that had me working more than 100 hours a week, I was blogging.  When Steven Gilliard passed away and a dozen of us vowed not to let his spirit die with him, I was blogging,  When they all stopped and faded away and forgot, I was blogging.  When I found myself laid off, middle-aged, unemployable and losing everything I owned in the depths of the Great Recession, I was blogging. When I said good-bye to the Big City and Castle Driftglass forever, I was blogging.  And now that I have a family and have a very tenuous patchwork of paper routes that very nearly keep us from having to live under a bridge, I am still blogging.

Because blogging is just writing using a particular platform where the barrier to entry and guarantees of success are both very low.  Free to all comers, who -- believe me -- come and go and come and go like the women talking of Michelangelo 

I know I am a curious and experimental blogger because about five years ago -- amid much bitching and rending of garments from high atop Blogger Olympus about what a brutal, ass-numbing grind it was to have to aggregate stuff other people into one "One guy on my on my Usual Suspects link list said something and another guy on that list said something else" post after another --  I decided to give that line of work a try for a few weeks.

The Driftington Post

Turns out, basically a monkey can do it -- pound-for-pound, it is beer and skittles and a foot massage compared to my regular routine.

I know I'm a reasonably well-known blogger because (among other reasons) Mr. Sullivan and I were among the last two recipients of the once-prestigious and now utterly-forgotten "Weblog" awards -- he for "Best Blog" and I for "Best Individual Blogger".

I know I'm a Liberal blogger because even though over the intervening years as Mr. Sullivan and his elves and guest writers and "numerous bloodthirsty tyrants named Conor" have cranked out board-feet of often trivial content every day, not once were any of my hundreds of in-depth critiques of his methods and ideas ever mentioned or engaged.

I'm sure part of this is because -- damn it! -- there were just too many beards, too much pot and too much hot Alec Baldwin action to fit me in :-)  Or, as I always say, if you beat a better path, the world will build a mousetrap at your door.

So I know Andrew Sullivan is not quitting blogging (unless his health is really shot) because Andrew Sullivan is not really a blogger. Andrew Sullivan is a brand which has been aggressively and successfully managed by it's owner for nigh on 30 years. And while one of the main sources of brand reinforcement has been a blog, Brand Sullivan has grown into a million dollar enterprise because of the brand owner's cultivation of many other brand partnerships along the way.

The Sullivan brand began to take shape when Mr. Sullivan was fresh out of Harvard and in the throes of a gooey, full-throated ideological crush on Brand Reagan.  Thanks to Brand Reagan and the American Conservative Movement's brilliant program of locating and promoting the hell out of useful idiots of all shapes and sizes,  Mr. Sullivan was given the means to transpose his narrow, parochial, Anglophilic political opinions onto America -- onto people he has never understood, with a political, cultural and brutal racial heritage he never bothered to learn.

Instead...Reagan was...just like Margaret Thatcher!  Which meant that American Conservatives...were just like the Tories (yay!) and ergo propter hoc, American Liberals were obviously the kissing cousins of the Hated Labour Party (boo)!

And just like *that*, the American Conservative Movement bought itself a twofer: intellectual cover from a Harvard-educated Brit who now ran a prestigious "liberal" America journal, and a gay man willing to act as the apologist beard for a political movement which by then had become openly dependent on a Neo-Confederate popskull rocket fuel of racism, homophobia, kicking the poor, hating women, slandering Liberals, gutting unions all covered with a thick sheer of paranoia and Fake Christianity.

To resolve this irreconcilable diametric opposition between the Imaginary Conservatism in his head and the Actual Conservatism which he served, in true Conservative fashion, Mr. Sullivan simply, blissfully ignored the facts, covering up the glaring flaws in the basic molecular structure of his quaint political and cultural theories with a schmear of Burke here and a dab of Oakeshott there.  And on this leaky mess did he sail into the pantheon of Deep Conservative Thinkers, where the Sullivan brand spend many years cultivating relationships with many other notable brands such as Huffington, Matthews, Maher, Brown, Rumsfeld and Cheney.

From the NYT:
A series of publications — Time magazine, The Atlantic and The Daily Beast — hosted his blog before he again struck out on his own in early 2013, charging readers for unlimited access to his site. The move was part of a trend in journalism. In two years, Mr. Sullivan wrote, he had 30,000 subscribers and a million dollars in revenue.
And so, for whatever reason, Mr. Sullivan has chosen to extend his annual six weeks of not-blogging from Provincetown to not-blogging year-round from his home.

Well, he's had a good run.  And a very profitable one.  Because even though (as one wag once put it) "virtually all of Mr. Sullivan's hard-won epiphanies amount to little more than the well-thumbed history and plainsong lore of our Fucked Up Modern Age" it turns out that while it is apparently against the laws of God and Man for Liberals to make a nickle off of being right, Conservative Movement apostate's like Mr. Sullivan can make a handsome living  (as the same wag put it) "borrowing the entire Liberal critique of the Right, filing off the serial numbers and re-marketing it all as "Real Conservatism".

But while the professional punditing biz has been very good for Brand Sullivan, now is probably a good time for Andrew to pack it in for however long the Quitting of the Blogging lasts this time.


Because of all the natural resources mankind as been depleted to the point of ecological collapse, one of the most deplete-iest is "Stuff To Get Angry At Liberals About".

Sure, places like Fox News and Hate Radio will never run out of wholly fictional bullshit to keep the Pig People up on their hind legs and howling about the Great Liberal/Negro/Commie Conspiracy to take their guns and golfs away and gay up their kids, but that kind of direct batshit catering is not Mr. Sullivan's stock-in-trade.

Like David Brooks, Mr. Sullivan's basic product is the same, old, vinegary "Both Siderist" wine poured into the new skin of "True Conservatism" and without and ample and steady supply of "Stuff To Get Angry At Liberals About" the whole "Both Siderism" quickly starts to fall apart.

Allow me to explain.

During those long-ago, high-cotton days between the Miraculous Virgin Birth of Saint Reagan and the Fall of the House of Bush, the bashing of Liberal Fifth Columnists was a seemingly inexhaustible,  Diamond as Big as the Ritz profit center for Brand Sullivan.  Then the Bush Administration spectacularly imploded in a giant cloud of "Holy Shit!  The Liberals were right all along!"  And in the noise and confusion, fleet-footed and morally flexible professional Conservative pundits like Andrew Sullivan, David Brooks quickly sidestepped almost overnight into the Beltway's new, seemingly inexhaustible Sierra Madre profit center for pundits in need of a soft place to land: The Both Sides Are To Blame Game.

In which, very simply,  Both Sides are to blame.


For everything.

But as David Brooks demonstrates every week on radio, on teevee and in print, while Both Siderism is an extremely profitable grift for the semi-retired Liberal-basher hiding out from his own past, it is also a relentless taskmaster.  Because the whole scam operates like an internal combustion engine: to keep firing on all cylinders, Both Siderism must hit the right admixture of outrage Conservative and Liberal atrocities every single time.  And for a long time now it has been clear that Mr. Sullivan has just plain run out of "Stuff To Get Angry At Liberals About".

Sure, Mr. Sullivan squeezed some extra mileage out of running around and keening like Fox News banshee about Alec Baldwin.  But the lasting net effect his childish public tantrum was that it caused a few, disreputable losers on the Left to root around in Mr. Sullivan's archives just long enough to document for the umpteenth time what a pissy hypocrite he is:
If you are a normal person living a normal life, you would not know that a guy named Andrew Sullivan is in the middle of another of his periodic tantrums about the McCarthyism of Liberals.
The left is turning really, really ugly again.
Between you and me (because no one else reads this stuff :-) Mr. Sullivan's periodic Holier Than Thou outbursts of hysterical histrionics about the horrors of the Lefty Liberal Left are getting to be a bit of a bore, but I guess he needs something to fizz up his Pot-'n-Popes-'n-Stuff blog's otherwise mostly trivial parade of aggregated-other-people's-stuff and pop-culture filler.

Part of his problem stems from the fact that, even after +30 years spent Opining Very Loudly About America, it is glaringly obvious that Mr. Sullivan knows shit-all about some of the most basic roots and branches of this country's politics and culture. He is, for example, perpetually flummoxed by the fact that American Conservatism as it is practiced in the real word bears no relationship to the academic, dorm-room-bong-a-thon Conservatism of his imagination.  He also still cannot wrap his head round the fact that, here in these United State, bible-sanctioned white male supremacy and all of it's various, mutant offspring remain a really big deal (a rough equivalent of Mr. Sullivan's cluelessness would be me moving to Ireland 30 years ago, growing famous by punditing about Irish politics and society and yet, after 30 years, still being unable to grasp why the Irish continue to insist on making a big deal about the English.)
During his most recent, hilarious foray into Histrionically Whitesplaining Race To The Coloured Peoples of His Majesty's North American Colonies (by way of rear-guard defending his indefensible tenure at The New Republic), he got his ass carved off, whittled into aspic and handed back to him in more way that I could count.  This was the nuke that blew him to atoms.

And now, finally, speech codes.   No.  Seriously.  That last, desperate refuge of the decadent Centrist, imported from from 1988.  Fucking speech codes.  
JAN 27 2015 @ 3:24PM 
To say I stood up and cheered as I finished reading Jon Chait’s new essay on the resurgence of a toxic political correctness on the left would be an understatement.,,
An argument which has already taken such a comprehensive beat-down from so many quarters
Welcome to the Internet: Jonathan Chait and the Death of False Consensus 
There’s something deeply ironic in complaining about the Internet PC Police on the Internet, then telling PC people to shut up because their anti-free speech PC orthodoxy isn’t wanted.
that further boots to the head would be ungentlemanly:

Give all of that and more...given the sheer, pulverizing weight of his long history of so being wrong about so least one reason I can see for a Conservative blogger -- the Conservative blogger -- to give up the holy game of poker is the simple that his side won.

They got what they wanted.  They got the the Bush Administration they wanted, the war the wanted, the tax structure they wanted, and the Supreme Court they wanted.  And now the have the Congress they wanted: a nihilistic, anti-government madhouse dominated by Conservative bigots, Conservative theocrats, Conservative oligarch, Conservative uterus fetishists and a witchbag of other Conservative True Believers.  They got the statehouses they wanted and the governors they wanted.  They got their very own, private, fact-free media tree fort that carries nothing but Conservative propaganda 24/7/365.

The America Conservative Movement has gotten pretty much everything it every dreamed of back the those golden days when Young Andrew Sullivan marched proudly in the vanguard of Ronald Reagan's Anti-Government, Anti-Gay, Anti-Black, Anti-Woman, Anti-Poor, Anti-Education, Anti-Union, Anti-Accountability, Anti-Liberal jihad.  

And in getting everything they ever wanted,  Conservatives like Andrew Sullivan have very nearly destroyed the country they claim to love so very much.

And in that moment, Andrew Sullivan saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more Liberals to scapegoat.

So enjoy your retirement, Mr Sullivan.

You have done enough.

You have done more than enough.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Blogging Update

Juggling a few things for the next many days so posting is going to be light for a bit.

Also some kind of residual crud is still kicking my ass and making my joints feel like ground glass.

Also there is nothing I can wrote about Smanhattan's Sense of Snow that is not already being said by every news organization in Christendom. Because according to my teevee machine, there is no other story.

So to all our brothers and sisters on the East Coast, curl up with someone fun and don't do anything your pal driftglass wouldn't do.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Today In "Both Sides Do It", Ctd. Forever: Unsurprisingly, David Brooks

Because if he does not robotically ballyhoo the Both Side Do It, Beltway party line every single fucking time he opens his cake hole --
MARK SHIELDS: No, I understand that, but let’s be blunt about it, not to be partisan, but we have an opposition party...

DAVID BROOKS: Well, there’s the Republican partisan attack. So, we — they’re both playing this game...
-- Pinch Sulzberger will detonate the tiny bomb he implanted in Mr. Brooks' skull as a condition of employment.

Both Siderism is uniformly everywhere. It's like the Beltway's own Iridium Layer.

It's continued existence is why it is impossible to have a reasonable debate about anything ever.

It's constant maintenance is our media elite's prime directive.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Professional Left Podcast #268

Introduced once again by Kevin's  promo video, which you clearly haven't spam enough yet.
It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
-- H. L. Mencken

Da' money goes here:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Guess Humbert Humbert Ran Out Of Coeds To Creep

From the New York Times:
The Devotion Leap
JAN. 22, 2015

David Brooks

The online dating site OkCupid asks its clients to rate each other’s attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 5. When men rated the women, the median score was about 3 and the ratings followed a bell curve — a few really attractive women and an equal number of women rated as unattractive.

But when women rated men, the results were quite different. The median score was between 1 and 2. Only 1 in 6 of the guys was rated as having above average looks. Either the guys who go to places like OkCupid, Tinder and other sites are disproportionately homely, or women have unforgiving eyes

Not gonna do it.

I have covered the execrable wattlings and hypocritical whinings and bald-faced lying of Mr. Brooks for a decade now.  From every angle, and back when virtually no one else would touch the subject.  I have noted with amusement Mr. Brooks sudden interest in, say, the subject of being alone in hotels 

and, as the Great Mystery of Mr. Family Values Lecture Guy's divorce swirled to life, I believe I was the only one who bothered to, y'know, pay attention to the ring finger.

So as America's premier David Brooks expert, I have done my duty.  And then some.

But unless some solvent media outlet wants to start cutting me paychecks every two weeks, I will not be further risking my fragile mental health by spelunking into to dark and loathsome horrors at the corner of David Brooks and OkCupid.

Not yet,

Hell Yeah

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

At First I Thought, "Maybe The Laziest, Most Cossetted Potato-Bug In American Punditry...


...might want to go a little easy with the insisting that other people need to 'earning' stuff:" (h/t Heather at Crooks and Liars):

BROOKS: I frankly think [President Obama] hasn't earned that. I think you've got to earn that with your conduct and he hasn't been as bipartisan as I think he should have been. Not that the Republicans have either. They've probably been worse, but you know, you've got to earn it.
I mean, leaving aside for the moment that the entire premise of Barry-O not being bipartisan enough should have gotten Brooks slathered in hamster musk and tossed into the snake pit, does someone that ridiculously shiftless really want to start the ball rolling on holding people to standards of any kind?

 But then I remembered that this was David Brooks we're talking.

And that the entire Beltway establishment is built on giving David Brooks one, utterly unearned freebie after another while never holding him accountable for a damn thing.

So never mind.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

"If Reagan is Not Risen...

...then our preaching is in vain."
-- Paul to the Christian community of Corinth, as filtered
through the American Conservative Movement.
So Professor Doctor Krugman went Full Driftglass over the weekend.

Which was nice:
Hating Good Government
JAN. 18, 2015

It’s now official: 2014 was the warmest year on record. You might expect this to be a politically important milestone. After all, climate change deniers have long used the blip of 1998 — an unusually hot year, mainly due to an upwelling of warm water in the Pacific — to claim that the planet has stopped warming. This claim involves a complete misunderstanding of how one goes about identifying underlying trends. (Hint: Don’t cherry-pick your observations.) But now even that bogus argument has collapsed. So will the deniers now concede that climate change is real?

Of course not. Evidence doesn’t matter for the “debate” over climate policy, where I put scare quotes around “debate” because, given the obvious irrelevance of logic and evidence, it’s not really a debate in any normal sense. And this situation is by no means unique. Indeed, at this point it’s hard to think of a major policy dispute where facts actually do matter; it’s unshakable dogma, across the board. And the real question is why.

Before I get into that, let me remind you of some other news that won’t matter...
He even arrives at the same, alarming place many of us have been for years:  the realization that "debating" anything with Conservatives is simply futile:
All this is utterly at odds with dire predictions that reform would lead to declining coverage and soaring costs. So will we see any of the people claiming that Obamacare is doomed to utter failure revising their position? You know the answer.

And the list goes on. On issues that range from monetary policy to the control of infectious disease, a big chunk of America’s body politic holds views that are completely at odds with, and completely unmovable by, actual experience. And no matter the issue, it’s the same chunk. If you’ve gotten involved in any of these debates, you know that these people aren’t happy warriors; they’re red-faced angry, with special rage directed at know-it-alls who snootily point out that the facts don’t support their position.

The question, as I said at the beginning, is why. Why the dogmatism? Why the rage? And why do these issues go together, with the set of people insisting that climate change is a hoax pretty much the same as the set of people insisting that any attempt at providing universal health insurance must lead to disaster and tyranny?
But because he is a better person than I am,  like many Liberals, Dr. Krugman shies away from following his own chain of comprehensively incriminating proofs all the way to their logical conclusion. Leading to to an explanation -- that Conservative are reactionary --
And why this hatred of government in the public interest? Well, the political scientist Corey Robin argues that most self-proclaimed conservatives are actually reactionaries. That is, they’re defenders of traditional hierarchy — the kind of hierarchy that is threatened by any expansion of government, even (or perhaps especially) when that expansion makes the lives of ordinary citizens better and more secure. I’m partial to that story, partly because it helps explain why climate science and health economics inspire so much rage.
-- which is necessary but sadly insufficient.

Because no tactical analysis of Conservatism will ever be be sufficient, and no strategy to dismantle its electoral and media machinery will ever work, until we all get it through our heads that Conservatism is not merely reactionary, but a full blown religious cult.

A cult with with a totalizing vision of reality that rejects science, causality, history, Christianity and democracy  in favor of the pronouncements of its Leadership Caste.

A cult which believes with raging, messianic fervor that since all of America's problems were caused by the Original Sin of Big Gummint, the only way to restore their White Christian Nation to it's Righteous and pre-Fallen state (which they have only glimpsed every now and then in certain John Wayne movies) is to destroy the federal government and drive all of Jesusland's scheming, God-hating Liberals and parasitic minorities into the sea.

A cult of giddy fascism....wrapped in the American flag, carrying the bible, with a Toby Keith soundtrack.

A cult in harness to the loathsome agenda of evil men.

A cult which will stab itself in its collective belly over and over again on the orders of its Leadership Caste...just so it can spend another glorious day bitching about how Big Gummint Liberals are making their tummy hurt.

Back in 2009, I chose Paul's (the bible one, not the Nobel in Economics one) admonition to the Corinthians because it really is magnificent in its simplicity. He reduces the entire Christian doctrine as he understood it to a single syllogism, and shows why it is nearly impossible for many people to unleap certain leaps of faith:
  1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen. 
  2. And if Christ has not risen, then everything we believe is nonsense.
Like any good Jesuit will tell you, the Bible is actually full of textual errors, mistranslated words, parables which were never meant to be taken at face value, texts in the "revelatory" style because that was the way dangerous writing about the tyrants of the day were encrypted, stories in which the characters leap all over the place geographically because rearranging things that way drove the polit better, and so forth.  None of these things bother me or disturb my faith, but they will unhinge a fundamentalist who has traded inquiry for idolatry and must believe that every word in that book is the literal and inerrant word of God,

Which, quicker than you can say "Australopithecus africanus", will find you in a Creationist "Science" class, being taught that the unimpeachable evidence of 17 different branches of science are all "lies straight from the Pit of Hell".

So too is this the case in American Conservatism, which is not merely a fundamentalist cult that worships terrible ideas, but a fundamentalist cult with immensely wealthy patrons that worships terrible ideas.

And like any other cult in which the members have gone all-in and done horrendous, unforgivable things in the name of the True Faith, it has become impossible for Conservatism to save itself, because like any successful cult, it has given its adherents no way out.  It is, by now, almost literally unthinkable for a Conservative to acknowledge any error other than being insufficiently pure in their raging Conservatism.  And to admit that, just maybe, the Dirty Hippies would be...catastrophic. Identity-annihilating.  

There is no greater sin against Saint Reagan in the hierarchy of Conservatives heresies than to entertain the concept -- even as a theoretically -- that Conservatism itself is the problem.  Doubters are instantly cast out as squishy RINOS, and reformed are declared abominations and cast out.  

As must needs be, because what dirty "realists" like Dr. Krugman can never quite wrap their heads around is that Conservatives are not citizens fighting policy battles for a specific, marginal tax rate, or against a particular regulation; they are holy warriors locked in a Ragnarok/End Times struggle against the Forces of Evil.  

They believe fervently that, if they win, America will finally be restored to the freedom-jizzing, gun-loving, Christian paradise on Earth as it was in the Days of Old.  And they believe just as fervently that, should they lose, and nothing shall remain of Her but a Hieronymus Bosch hellscape of runamok petty IRS bureaucrats, uppity pitchfork-wielding minority devils, union thugs, feminazis, free goodies like "health care" and "clean water" being handed out to every moocher in the land, and nothing but mandatory Commie kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone else.

Their holy war does not acknowledge factual reality and does permit compromise or reform, because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding: