Monday, October 20, 2014

Today's "View From Nowhere" Master Class Guest Lecturer: David Brooks


When you read a lede like this in the NYT --
The Quality of Fear

The reaction nationally to Ebola is rooted in weaknesses in our cultural fabric.
-- you can be 100% damn betcha sure it was pounded out on this guy's little tin drum.

And if the actual problem at-hand is demonstrably being caused by the premeditated vandalism of the gang of Conservative nihilists who now run Mr. Brooks' Republican Party, as you be equally, perfectly, 100% certain that, buried throughout Mr. Brooks' latest mush, you will find a scattering of a tiny, shiny, Both Siderist razors.

He is so pathologically predictable in the lazy, lifeless way in which he tells his One Big Lie over and over and over again, that I did not bother to read beyond the articles lede before wrote what I have written until now.  Seriously.  Because like a bad dream, I already know exactly what Mr, Brooks is going to say next.  

And so do you, 

And I know I will hear this drivel echoing and re-echoing from the hollow gourds of far too many otherwise intelligent people. 

And so do you,

And I know he will never, ever suffer a single moment of professional censure for selling his horse-piss-and-varnish patent medicine from the pages of America's newspaper of record.

And so do you.

But for the record and for the benefit of future historians who may be fascinated by the degree to which we ritually elevated obvious frauds to positions of enormous power and influence, let me bust out the Ouija board and foretell the following without looking at anything else Mr. Brooks has written beyond the lede.

While trying to circumnavigate what is obviously the clear and definable problem of Republicans sowing lies and panic for political gain, at no point will Mr. Brooks mention the words "Republican" or "Conservative".  

Unlike any legitimate reporter, Mr. Brooks will expend great effort to withhold the "Who?: in this story, conspicuously refusing to lay a bill of particulars against Fox News or Hate Radio or any specific people or corporations which are working very hard to spread the lies and panic which Republicans are sowing for political gain.

Instead he take this clear and definable problem of Republicans sowing lies and panic for political gain, aerosolize it, and spray it over every human being in America in a fine mist.  He will walk right down the imaginary middle, ritually dispersing generalized judgments against nonspecific "people" like a bishop swinging a censer.   Unnamed "institutions" and vague "trends" will be scolded and, very probably, "politicians" and "Washington D.C."  will come in for an upbraiding.

Now, lets take off the blindfold and see how I did:
There’s been a lot of tutting-tutting about the people who are overreacting to the Ebola virus...

The critics point out that these people are behaving hysterically, all out of proportion to the scientific risks, which, of course, is true. But the critics misunderstand what’s going on here. Fear isn’t only a function of risk; it’s a function of isolation. We live in a society almost perfectly suited for contagions of hysteria and overreaction.

In the first place, we’re living in a segmented society...

People are much less likely to marry across social class, or to join a club and befriend people across social class...

That means there are many more people who feel completely alienated from the leadership class of this country, whether it’s the political, cultural or scientific leadership.They don’t know people in authority. They perceive a vast status gap between themselves and people in authority. They may harbor feelings of intellectual inferiority toward people in authority.

So you get the rise of the anti-vaccine parents, who simply distrust the cloud of experts telling them that vaccines are safe for their children. ...

,,,the rise of the anti-science folks, who distrust the realm of far-off studies and prefer anecdotes from friends to data about populations.

You get more and more people who simply do not believe...

Second, you've got a large group of people who are bone-deep suspicious of globalization...

Third, you've got the culture of instant news. It’s a weird phenomenon of the media age...

Fourth, you've got our culture’s tendency to distance itself from death. Philip Roth once wrote...

In cultures where people deal with death by simply getting it out of their minds...

Given all these conditions, you wind up with an emotional spiral that develops its own momentum...

In these circumstances, skepticism about authority turns into corrosive cynicism. People seek to build walls, to pull in the circle of trust...

Ebola is a treacherous adversary. It’s found a weakness in our bodies. Worse, it exploits the weakness in the fabric our culture.
I especially liked "...the rise of the anti-science folks" as if it were just some mysterious and uncontrollable nature phenomenon like a "seiche" or the "Chicago Cubs" and not a very useful strain of virulent, anti-government ignorance which Mr. Brooks' Republican Party has very carefully and deliberately cultivated, cross-bred and empowered over the last 40 years.

So, while "Washington" did not get spanked by name, overall Mr. Brooks' absolutely cowardly record of steadfastly refusing to notice that his Conservatism has become nothing but a mob of lunatics and fascists crying "Wolf!  Big Scary Negro Wolf! from high atop mountains of Koch Brother's money remains unbroken.  

So for a final grade, I give myself about a B+ or an A-. 

I bet you scored about the same.

And isn't that just terribly sad.

For more on this perpetually breaking story, we go now to November of 2010 where a cop is still trying to get David Brooks to fill out a police report...

Officer: So you say you saw who mugged you, sir?

Brooks: Yes. It was a big guy. With a bat. Also liberals were involved.

Officer: Leaving aside the liberals for a moment, what did this "big guy" look like?

Brooks: About six foot. Maybe 200 pounds. White. But the Democrats unreasonable position on Medicare contributed...

Officer: Like I said, sir; we'll get back to the Democrats and liberals later. Now about the man who mugged you. Could you describe what kind of clothes he had on?

Brooks: Yes. He was wearing a "Bush/Cheney '04" t-shirt, a tri-corner hat and was carrying one of those "Don't Tread On Me" flags. (pauses) Officer, you seem to be deliberately ignoring the liberal involvement here.

Officer: No sir -- I'm writing all of it down. It's just important that we start with the facts.

Brooks: Well the fact is, officer, that Democrats are clearly implicated here as well as a fringe nutcase who in no way represents the main body of Conservative thinking.

Officer: Alrighty then, Mr. Brooks, you seem to be going into shock or maybe you have a slight concussion, so lets try coming at this another way. You say you were mugged, right?

Brooks: I was definitely mugged. Assaulted and mugged.

Officer: OK, then. How many people were physically holding the baseball bat? How many different people had their hands on it?

Brooks (pauses): Uh...just the one guy.

Officer: The man with the "Bush/Cheney '04" t-shirt?

Brooks (pauses): Yes.

Officer: And how many people actually said to you -- and I quote -- "Gimme your fucking wallet or I'll fucking kill you you fucking Commie"?
Said that out loud.
In your presence.
During the mugging.

Brooks: Well, technically it was that one guy, but...

Officer: And how many separate and distinct people actually hit you in the face with the bat?

Brooks: The one guy.

Officer: The one man with the "Bush/Cheney '04" t-shirt?

Brooks: Yes.

Officer: And how many people -- physical, real people -- were within, say, 30 feet of that one guy? At any time during the incident?

Brooks: Well that is very hard to say. I mean, there was a lot going on, what with the one guy screaming at me and hitting me in the face with the bat, and the Democrats causing an equal amount of...

Officer: Oh, I'm sure it was frighting, sir. Very frightening. But it would make my job a lot easier if right now you could just tell me how many other, physical, real people were within 30 feet of that one guy.

Brooks: Well, if I had to guess.

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: -- and this is just an approximation, you understand?

Officer: Of course.

Brooks: I'd have to say...around...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Generally...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Roughly...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: In the vicinity of...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Bordering on...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Verging between...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Ballpark...

Officer: I've got all day sir.

Brooks: Más o menos...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: Somewhere between, maybe, five...

Officer: Yes.

Brooks: And...none.

Officer: And closer to which of those two numbers -- five and none -- would you say would be more accurate?

Brooks: (long whistle) Well the range is potentially unlimited, isn't it? I mean, what with geometric regression and Nancy Pelosi and rounding errors and Harry Reid and fractals...

Officer: Would it help your memory if I told you we have the whole thing on tape?

Brooks: Oh.

Officer: (pointing) See those two cameras? The one on that bank over there and a traffic camera across the street?

Brooks: Uh.

Officer: Between them, they'll give us a very accurate count of how many physical, real people were involved.

Brooks: Oh.

Officer: So you were estimating something about it being between five and none?

Brooks: Uh, let's just go with "none" then. To keep it simple.

Officer: Of course sir. So there were no people other than you and the assailant within 30 feet of the incident. How about 50 feet?

Brooks: None.

Officer: 100 feet?

Brooks: None.

Officer: So it would be fair to say, then, that the entire street was deserted except for you and the big man in the Republican t-shirt, and Tea Party flag and hat who called you -- and, again, I'm quoting -- a "fucking Commie"...

Brooks: Yes.

Officer: ...clubbed you on the head...

Brooks: Yes.

Officer: ...and stole your wallet.

Brooks: Yes, yes, yes. If you want to be a pedant about it, technically that is a description with which I cannot disagree.

Officer: "Pedant" is a big part of my job description, sir.

The Transition From Host of MSNBC's "Guess That Soup!"

To Captain of NBC's slow-motion Hindenburg seems to be making Shuck Todd a trifle touchy:
Chuck Todd Takes A Beating In Facebook Chat

Chuck Todd has claimed special insight into the world of "trolling" in the past.

"Easiest way to attract trolls, write 'media' and 'bias' in a sentence," he tweeted last year.

Equipped with that knowledge, NBC's new "Meet the Press" moderator waded into a Facebook Q&A on Friday ready to swat down any such hostility that came his way.

When one user asked him why he is "always trying to win the midterm for the Republican Party," Todd was prepared.

"I think folks mistake analysis of political reality with cheerleading," he said.

But that accusation of bias was tame compared to what followed.

"Was false equivalence your dream or did it come to you over time?" another user asked.

According to Todd, that guy was on the wrong social media platform for that kind of sarcasm.

"Happy to answer any serious questions. If you want to snark, do it on Twitter," Todd said.

Todd responded similarly when he was taken to task for not investigating "GOP Voter Discrimination or the Sequester to Blocking everything Obama wants."

"Why didn't you ask me when I stopped beating my wife? Come on," Todd said. "Ask a serious question and I'll give you a serious answer. There's always more nuance to the facts that partisans, left and right, want to admit."
The first step towards recovery of any Villager is admitting that they are powerless over false equivalences and Both Siderism and that our politics have become unmanageable thereby.

Clearly Shuck Todd has a long way to go before he hits bottom and begins to get healthy and sane, so for the good of his soul and our nation's mental health I think we all owe it to him to help accelerate his plummet towards nadir any way we can.

In A World...

...of political ads so craptacularly untethered to the reality that they knock about in the pellucid ether like so many stripes and solids scattered by a Vincent Lauria thunderbolt break*...

One man...

One crazy man...

And his Special Black Friend...

Can still make the jaded denizens of America's political peanut gallery stand up as one and say...

This is the craziest fucking thing I have ever seen (h/t Wonkette):

*This scene was shot in the then-freshly renovated, wedge-shaped back room of The Gingerman on Clark, where your 'umble scrivener spent many an evening hoisting a few, staying on the good side of bouncer Bobzilla and honing my own pool playing skills to a dull but serviceable edge.

The New Republic Catches Up

To where I certain dirty hippies were five years ago.

The New Republic today
Teddy Roosevelt Was a Real Independent. Today's Versions Are Poseurs.

By Michael Kazin

In a season marked by sour voters and bitter campaigns, independent candidates hold out the promise of sweet transcendence. South Dakota independent candidate Larry Pressler pledges to break up the “lobbyist-controlled spending and taxing cycle [and] poisonous partisan fights” if elected to the Senate. In Kansas, Senate hopeful Greg Orman styles himself as a “pragmatic, effective problem solver who knows how to bring people together to find common-sense solutions.” In Maine, independent Elliot Cutler stumps for governor with a “plan” which he says “needs to be smart and to stand on the facts. It needs to protect and to create opportunities for each Maine citizen to reach his or her greatest potential.” But what all these candidates are offering is closer to the political equivalent of empty calories. This is the politics of “none-of-the-above,” an alternative that is no more than a jumble of well-meaning clichés.

There is no shortage of elite groups, like Third Way and the Peterson Foundation, that yearn to advance a “moderate” platform. Not to mention Michael Bloomberg, who is spending up to $25 million on TV ads to elect a handful of candidates from both parties whom, according to his spokesman, he deems “are open and actually inclined to work with people across the aisle.” Skillful at pleasing pundits and raising funds, these groups have no clue and little real interest in inspiring activists or voters. Unless that changes, today’s independent candidates will be able, at most, to nudge the discourse of the two parties a bit further toward some muddled middle than to become the prophets of a new era of reform.
Well and good for them for printing this.

Still, being a Liberal cursed with a long memory, it is hard for me to forget that your very own 'umble scrivener was writing stuff like this back in November of 2009, just as Fox News and Frank Luntz were in the early stages of teaching 40 million Bush-Loving Republicans how to wear tricorn hats, wave Gadsden flags and correctly pronounce the word "independent" every time someone shoved a microphone in their face.
Nobody knows what “independents” want, because “independent” as a modern political category is a textbook example of what Kurt Vonnegut defined in "Cat's Cradle" as a "granfalloon":
"...a proud and meaningless association of human beings"
Because “independent” can mean any-damn-thing, or nothing at all.

Consider that if you defined “independent” as someone who, broadly speaking, supported a Liberal agenda (not the imaginary, shadow-puppets-made-out-of-Rush-Limbaugh-stool-samples “Liberal agenda” that Conservatives have been using to scare stupid people into committing economic suicide for 30 years, but the real Liberal agenda) but was not welded to a particular candidate, or even to a particular party, then that would describe me pretty well.

But I'm also quite sure that a fair chunk of the the 5% of the voting public which -- just 24 hours before the 2004 Presidential elections -- still couldn't quite make up their minds whether to vote for Kerry/Edwards, or the lying, feeble-minded frat boy (and his homicidal regent) who had fucked up everything he had ever touched ...consider themselves "independents".

Rebel nuns who might just think that letting a rape victim have access to abortion services would not be the end of the world?


Snake-handling queer-hating Leviticans who think the GOP is too gutless because it won’t advocate rounding up Teh Gay and putting them in camps?


Bunker-dwelling survivalists?


Pimple-faced 30-something John Galt wannabees who masturbate themselves blind to “Atlas Shrugged” because that hot chick in accounting won’t give them a second look, but won’t she be sorry when Objectivists stop the engine of the world and people like her will have to stand in line to offer their vajay-jays to the alpha studs wealth producers!


Klansmen who want to smoke a little weed?


America's compulsive political middle-children who have been taught so thoroughly to compromise their way out of any conflict that they will travel a 1,000 miles just to find a fence to straddle?

The opinionless little ciphers who just want to make sure they line up with a winner?

The moral cowards wouldn’t pick a side with a gun pressed to their heads, because of the terror of then being committed to actually doing something instead of snarking their way through life declaring "Well, ya know, bote sides are juss a buncha crooks anyway!" about every situation regardless of context and circumstances?

If asked, I guarantee you all virtually of those people would tell you that they think of themselves as “independent”.

And based on simple observation, guess who appears to be the largest group of late-blooming independents?

Those fucknozzles who, after giving Dubya the longest tongue bath in modern political history while calling everyone else a traitor, started gagging on the sheer tonnage of bullshit their creepy idolatry of George W. Bush was requiring them to swallow and obediently regurgitate every fucking day, that's who.
Hell, in September of 2010, I even wrote a pretty fair Seussian parody to explain "independents" to the kiddies. As a piece of writing, I am still very pleased with it: it stands the test of time, scans perfectly and it was well-received in some of the comment sections of some of the more disreputable precincts of Lesser Leftblogistan.  However I don't have a byline at the New Republic or anyplace else, and so like my other 5,700 posts it never broke out of the Liberal blogger ghetto and into the conversational universe of the wider world. And as my 54th birthday nears and my tenth blogiversary begins to peek over the horizon and my bank account continues to give me the stink-eye, it is probably time to think about whether this game is still worth the candle.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

Having even-up-traded George Will to ABC for Bloody Bill Kristol and a waterhead human cartoon to be named later, George was once again decanted in front a teevee camera to do his little trick -- opening up his face hole up and letting mighty gusts of wingnut anti-science paranoid crazy come flittering out, thus making the inbred pod-people of Sisterfuck, Arkansas feel smarter'n em damn Libruls!

Will was nearly crushed by the eye-rolls of a couple of his fellow Fox News employees, but seriously, what does it matter?  Will's impregnable madness would be creepy-but-harmless had it not been underwritten for years by ABC News and now by Roger Ailes. But it is, so he'll be back next week, and the week after that, and the week after that, trying over and over again to get just enough of his venom into the audience's circulatory system to further weaken their already wispy grasp on reality.

So George Will predicts -- based on the anonymous mutterings of "some scientists" -- that Ebola may be airborne.

Well good for him.

I, on the other hand, predict -- based on what I heard "some older kids" saying -- that George Will may well be dead soon, under circumstances that the coroner's report will describe as "suspicious" and involve two-and-a-half liters of Great White toupee adhesive, a Jeane Kirkpatrick blow-up doll and auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Eventually, one of is going to be right, so start the clock.

On Shuck Todd's programs, the Sunday diorama cavalcade felt...exhausted.  As if the presence of a a real and ancient enemy like Plague at their little happy-talk circle-jerk was flattening everyone's champagne before it had a chance to get out of the bottle.  Dreamlike.  Just going through the motions, like a bored, depressing read-through of actual new programs.  Hell, even a usually reliable wingnut spud like Roy Blunt, Junior could only make it through a third of the list of Fake Scandals which every Republican is obliged to recite in front of every microphone before he ran out of steam:

Oh, I'd be careful about overdoing it. But I also understand that if this was one incidence where people thought the government wasn't doing what the government was supposed to do, it would be much less of a reaction than we see now, where there's this long list of the government being one step behind, whether it's the border, the IRS, the secret service...
Over on ABC, things were a little more energetic due the the presence of Smirking Death's Head Bill Kristol and Sneering Gorgon Mary Matalin, who can both always be counted on to dance a merry little jig any time the world's supply of misery and horror is increased and they get the chance to sit in front of a camera and blame it on the Kenyan Usurper.

Political discussions were the same, tired merry-go-round because they were conducted by teevee network employees who cannot bear too much reality.  And so it was the usual goblins chasing the usual echos as the clever dogs read tout sheets about the upcoming which all the clever dogs are predicting that Republicans are probably going to take the Senate...based on the fact that all the other clever dogs are saying that Republicans are probably going to take the Senate.

But through all the self-fulfilling media spit-swapping, no one can come up with a solid angle as to why this is an Important Story other than the one aspect of it none of them will report: the fact that six years and untold hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of single-minded and unprecedented slander and sabotage -- aided and abetted every step of the way by a massive campaign of fact suppression by our Mainstream Media and an equally massive campaign of voter suppression by the GOP -- has bummed everyone out to the point that just enough Bush Regime Dead Enders will probably turn up at the polls to reward the nihilists and lunatics and saboteurs with another two year contract and complete control of the legislative branch of our federal government.

Or enough of us can show up this November to stop that from happening.

And wouldn't that freak out the squares.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I Guess Ben Carson Was Unavailable

Often, Republicans who want to show their great love of diversity will hire one of the nine Black Republicans the GOP has assembled out of bumper stickers and crazy to stand next to them and say nice things. 

And these kit-built, store-bought Black Republicans work pretty well.  They walk.  They wave.  And most importantly, they tell cranky, old, white Fox News bumpkins exactly what they want to hear. Unfortunately, building actual, three-dimensional Black Republicans is costly and time-consuming, and there are never enough to go around, which means that paying full freight for the Full  Black Republican Experience can be an expensive proposition.  

Which may be why Tom Corbett decided to go cheap and get himself one of those less expensive, more two-dimensional, Black Republican supporters:

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Algorithm The New York Times Uses To Spit Out "David Brooks" Columns

has another big, foamy bowl of tepid nothing for a thousand people on Twitter to retweet as wise and sage.

See, in Mr. Brooks' post-causality world, there are no Republicans, or Democrats, really, just "politicians".  And politicians can be motivated to do good things by the power of people practicing "low idealism", which, operationally, just so happens to look exactly like the Whig Party.

Not the real, long-dead American Whig Party, mind you, but the awesome Imaginary Whig Party about which Mr. Brooks writes so much fan fiction.

And so, The Algorithm The New York Times Uses To Spew Out "David Brooks" Columns addresses its one millionth column to that frail and desperately insane cult of cowards who live in an entirely alternate universe in which no political fight is ever about facts versus lies, proof versus delusion, reality versus paranoia, right versus wrong or wreckers versus builders, but about the ineffable pleasure of gliding above our grotty real world entirely a soft pillow of straw men, vapid abstractions about how things should be, and privilege.

Which brings us inevitably back to The Algorithm The New York Times Uses To Spit Out "David Brooks" Columns' latest iteration of Whig  Fan Fiction in which...

The low idealist rejects the politics of innocence. The low idealist recoils from any movement that promises “new beginnings,”...

Low idealism begins with a sturdy and accurate view of human nature.

Low idealism continues with a realistic view of politics.

The low idealist knows that rallies with anthems and roaring are just make-believe, but has warm affection for any politician who exhibits neighborliness, courtesy and the ability to listen.

The low idealist understands that those who try to rise above the messy business of deal-making often turn into zealots and wind up sinking below it.
It goes on at length (well, 800 words) about niceties and comities which all sound super-delightful and fun and which have fuck all to do with any of the grim political realities which Mr. Brooks' GOP have inflicted on this country and through which we are currently slogging.

If  he had lived 2000 years ago, David Brooks would have been scampering through the streets of Pompeii pestering restaurant owners to post "Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning To Work" signs as Vesuvius smoked and roared all around them.

If he had lived 70 years ago, he would have been scuttling around the Battle of Midway demanding that the commanders sit down and read "Robert's Rules of Order".

But David Brooks lives today, and so he has a column in the New York Times in which advises his readers on proper salad fork usage while the GOP drives a bulldozer straight through the middle of the dinner party.

Professional Left Podcast #254

“Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like hell.”
-- Peter Brock


Da' money goes here:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Hear John McCain Is Demanding

That we arm moderate Ebola militias so they can fight against the radical Ebola factions.

Because the Price of Liberty is Eternal Virulence!

And Freedumb isn't Free!

Sowing The Wind, Bitching About The Whirlwind

The short history of modern American politics is as follows:
Conservatives poison the public well with paranoia, bigotry and plain bugfuck insanity while sabotaging the government on purpose to gain political and economic advantage.

Liberals point out that poisoning the public well and sabotaging the government are, y'know. bad things.

Centrists clutch their pearls until their palms bleed, and then blame their stigmata on both sides being equally unreasonable and mean.
All of this was on lurid display in this fascinating article in Esquire -- "Help, We're in a Living Hell and Don't Know How to Get Out" -- in which the author talks to 90 members of Congress and concludes that our the legislative branch is, well, this:

If you fastfood the article, the impression you would probably come away with is, Jebus, what a bunch of dysfunctional whinyass tittybabies.  Fuck 'em all.

In other words, the GOP long-range plan to sow ruin and despair is working flawlessly.

Oh, and apparently everyone hates Ted Cruz.   Hates him.  And yet, somehow, mysteriously, he gets elected and is cheered by adoring crowds for reasons that the anonymous Republican whose angry parable opens the piece knows perfectly well:
The man is very angry, about the way his life is going, about Washington, about some things he has found himself saying that he wishes he could take back—he got carried away, total herd mentality, just so juvenile. People in public life should take stuff back more often, apologize more, and correct course more—now that would be making a real statement, maybe even be a breath of fresh air for the public. But he would just be screwing himself, he goes on, because those guys at Heritage Action or Club for Growth or Americans for Prosperity or some other goddamn group with an Orwellian name that thrives off of division and exists to create conflict might primary him, drop $3 million on his head, and he would be dead. And the way his district is drawn, you can't ever be conservative enough. He could get up at one of his town halls and say that the president is a transvestite Muslim from Mars and get a standing ovation. He wants to do the right thing and make a public stand for greater decency and civility in public life. But he can't...
Well of course he can.  He could do it tomorrow.  He could stand up and grab the nearest microphone and announce that the reason our politics is for shit is because his fucking party made it that way on purpose.

He could name names.  Point fingers.  Declaim eloquently in whatever venue he was offered.  He could switch parties and urge others to do so.

But he will not do these things because he is a coward.  Because he would rather do a deal with the devil than stand up and be a man.

Which is why, if you don't fastfood the article but instead read it with your special driftglasses on, what jumps out at you in clear, sharp relief is the fraudulence and the stink privilege and gutlessness of Republicans as they stumble around in the radioactive rubble of their own making -- a toxic wasteland which is spawning mutants like Louis Gohmert and Ted Cruz like Dr. Moreau's own whelping box:

Take for example confirmed bachelor and snappy dresser, Republican Representative Aaron Schock from just down the way a little bit, who (like every other Republicans cited in this article) may hate the system but clearly hates the thought of taking some fucking responsibility ever so much more, which why they always keep  a bucket of Fake Both Siderism on hand to splash around like cheap perfume to mask the reek of their own disaster (emphasis added):
"Because what has happened over the decades is he who controls the mapmaking process, you know, creates hyperpartisan districts. And you get more and more members who come out here and say, 'Gee, I know that I want to accomplish something on this issue. I want to take action on this issue, but the base of my district is so far to the right or to the left it makes it difficult for us to negotiate to the center.' But whether you're the most conservative member or you're the most liberal member, if you have half a brain, you recognize you're not going to get everything, and that any successful legislation requires the art of negotiation."
Sure, give me a magic wand and I'll redistrict the hell out of this country too, but Aaron, the problem is not primarily one of geography and political boundaries.  The problem is that one of our two major political parties has lost its fucking mind, and every sane person knows it, but no one in a position of power in the GOP or in the media dares to say it.

Which is why, on the Right, we end up electing and rewarding a mob of smirking vandals like the one described here by Derek Kilmer (emphasis added):
"Our Venn diagram," says Derek Kilmer, Democrat of Washington State, "is two circles, miles apart. Just after we got here, a group of us, Democrats and Republicans, were at a burger joint talking, and after about forty-five minutes, I said, 'We have to be able to get our act together and figure some of these things out. And across the table, one of my colleagues said, 'Derek, I like you, but you have to understand that I won my seat by defeating a Republican incumbent in my primary, and I campaigned against him for not being conservative enough. The first vote I cast when I got here was against John Boehner for Speaker, and I put out a press release that I had voted against him because he was too compromising. I like you, but I have zero interest in compromising with you or anybody else. My constituents didn't send me here to work with you; they sent me here to stop you.' I left there and called my wife and said, 'Oh, my God!' "
On the one hand, it is blindingly, self-evidently clear that this is what's fucked-in-the-head about our politics.  On the other hand, for Republicans in this article -- just like our Mainstream Media or your Crazy Uncle Liberty or any junkie or alcoholic still in denial -- admitting the simply truth that they are the fucking problem is an impossibility.

And so, over and over again, Republican disaster-by-design gets chalked up as institutional failure. 

Get's blamed on...Both Sides.

Sure, everyone knows Fox News and Conservative Hate Radio are the ones whose business model is lobbing cinder-blocks into traffic, but since you're not allowed to say that, "conflict media" becomes the generic, Both Side culprit.

Sure everyone knows that bottomless wingnut welfare slop troughs like Club for Growth and Heritage Action and FreedomWorks fund Conservative seditionists and nihilist and saboteurs, but in order to keep his job, Republican Adam Kinzinger (R- Just down the road a piece) is required to pretend that Democrats have crackpot Socialist billionaires who fund our crazy, Commie schemes too!

Strangely, Republican Adam Kinzinger (R-just down the road a piece) can't seem to identify even one of our shadowy, all-powerful, base-enforcing Liberal goon squads by name, or cite a single issue on which President Barack Obama hasn't practically begged for the chance to compromise away some of my dearly-held Liberal principles (emphasis added):
"There's an entire industry in Washington that makes money on conflict," says Republican Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. "Some of these outside groups—you know, your Club for Growth types, and your Heritage Action, and your FreedomWorks—they go out and they fundraise by saying that Republicans aren't sufficiently conservative. Or they pick an issue to go to war on because they can stir the base and raise money on it and pay their big salaries. And what that does in the long run is it takes what would be a solid Republican agenda and causes chaos. And they do the same thing on the Democrat side, you know? If Democrats want to reach out and work with Republicans, you have these groups that will stir the base...
And such is the self-evident Koch-like power of "these groups" on the Left that we now live is a country with single-payer health care, a massively re-regulated financial industry, a ban on the use of fossil fuels, chronic prison overcrowding caused by the thousands of Wall Street banksters we have stacked up in there like cord-wood, and where "Tuesday" has now been officially renamed "Weekly UN Gun Seizure Day".

No, Adam Kinzinger.  No, Aaron Schock.   All of this has come from a fundamental, psychotic break right at the heart of a Conservatism which, for 30 years, has openly embraced a rule-or-ruin style of governance where political opponents are no longer the loyal opposition, but enemies to be demonized, marginalized and destroyed...a Conservatism in which lying and slander and magical thinking and loony anti-science gibberish are now the lingua franca...a Conservatism whose polices have failed spectacularly, one after another after another...and a Conservatism which categorically will not admit that any of this is actually happening.

All of which which is eagerly aided and abetted every mile along this road to Hell by a Mainstream Media which categorically refuses to ask Conservatives any basic questions about any of these things.

But could slap any one of these poor, sensitive Conservatives souls around all afternoon with incontrovertible evidence that the GOP plan all along has been calculated, lockstep sabotage and obstruction from the day Barack Obama was elected and all they would do is whine about Harry Reid You drown them in a vat of Koch Brothers filthy money and with their last breathe they would squeak out "But Liberals do it tooooo!"

Sorry Adam.  Sorry, Aaron,  But this is the monster you built.

On purpose.

And it is doing exactly what it was designed to do with all the terrifying efficiency Koch money can buy.

So while I personally cannot stop your Golem from pulling my country down around our ears, I will not be denied the small, compensatory pleasure of watching you being eaten alive by the whirlwind you so eagerly unleashed.

And so I will leave you with a repeat performance of something I wrote almost ten years ago which seems to be, once again, sadly in order:

Whatever will we tell the children? Posted by Hello

One day we will have to explain to the children what happened when Thurston Howell III lost his right mind and decided that for the sake of some tax cuts to make him incrementally more comfortable, his very bestest buddies in the whole, wide world were the Ultra Right Wing Gorgons down in Jesusland.

May I suggest the following?

The Story of Little Red State Fundy

Little Red State Fundy found a grain of hate.

"Who will help me plant the hate?" she asked.

"Not I," said the Moderate Republicans.

"Not I," said the Undecideds.

"Not I," said the Libertarians.

"Then I will," said Little Red State Fundy.

So she buried the hate in the bloody ground of the Old Confederacy. After a while it grew up paranoid and ignorant and violent.

"The hate is ripe now," said Little Red State Fundy. "Who will do the mass mailings and preach bigotry from the Pulpit?"

"Not I," said the Moderate Republicans.

"Not I," said the Undecideds.

"Not I," said the Libertarians.

"Then I will," said Little Red State Fundy.

So she licked envelopes until her bill was cracked and dry and stood up into the House of God and crowed to her flocks in their millions that God Loved Them for hating and killing creatures who were not like them.

Then she asked, "Who will help me focus this hatred politically?"

"Not I," said the Moderate Republicans.

"Not I," said the Undecideds.

"Not I," said the Libertarians.

"Then I will," said Little Red State Fundy.

So she made databases and phone banks, and walked door-to-door with petitions that talked of Gods Great Hatred of Gays, and Gods Great Hatred of Judges that did not worship the Hate God in exactly the way the Little Red State Fundy told them to.

Then she carried the hate to steps of the Congress and the White House.

"Who will make a mandate from this hate?" she asked.

"Not I," said the Moderate Republicans.

"Not I," said the Undecideds.

"Not I," said the Libertarians.

"Then I will," said Little Red State Fundy.

So she got on the phone with her very good friend Karl Rove and with his help organized carpools to the polls, and get-out-the-vote drives, anti-gay marriage amendments and smear campaigns. For Jesus.

And Little Red State Fundy delivered the margin of victory and was featured in many, many magazines: without Little Red State Fundy, the Republican Party could never, ever, ever win anything.

And now everybody knew it.

Then she said, "Now who shall help me Rule the Earth."

"We will!" said Moderate Republicans, Undecideds, and Libertarians.

"I am quite sure you would," said Little Red State Fundy, "but see, now you are all my bitches."

Then she called Randall Terry and Tom DeLay and Ann Coulter and Jerry Falwell and Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson, and they and the rest of the Shining Path Republicans used what was left of the Constitution as ass-floss.
And judges were terrorized into silence.
And those deemed ungodly were beaten in the streets.
And they invaded whoever the fuck they felt like, for whatever fucking reason they chose.
And the very idea of a Free and Fair press died.

And to people who had been very clear all along that they genuinely believed in a Theocratic Nanny State and thought that precipitating Armageddon and triggering the Second Coming should be the highest calling of any worldly government, were handed over the police, courts, government, treasury and nuclear weapons stockpiles of the United States of America.

And in the end -- just as they had been warned for the past twenty years -- there was nothing whatsoever left at all for Moderate Republicans, Undecideds, and Libertarians.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Swear They Are Trying

To kill that man...

So as some of you know, one of America's greatest living writers had a stroke a couple of days ago:
Harlan Ellison, the multi-award-winning writer of science fiction and fantasy, had a stroke last week and is recovering in a Southern California hospital. He is grumpy -- and everyone considers that a good sign.
The redoubtable Patton Oswald, reporting live from the scene, said Harlan is doing OK:

So that's some good news, I suppose.

On the other hand, given his legendary contempt for a certain "hideous neologism". when I read this headline --
Sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison recovering from stroke
-- I had to wonder if there wasn't some larger conspiracy afoot to do in Unca Harlan in by just pissing him off to death.

From one of Harlan's many, many publicly expressed opinions on the subject:
First of all, the hideous neologism "sci-fi"--which sounds like crickets fucking--is at the core of this seeming malaise.  What is called "sci-fi" is not repeat NOT, science fiction.  It is special effects movie/television produced by and for imbeciles.  Giant lizards, moronic space battles with spaceships acting as if they were Spads and Fokkers dogfighting in atmosphere, recycled fairy tales, and illiterate appeals to paranoia.  They bear as much relation to science fiction of quality (whether film or tv or books or magazines) as Dachau did to a health spa.
God speed and good friends to you, you cranky old humanist.

We Don't Call 'Em "Cash Cams" For Nothin'

I saw this in the Chicago Tribune (last week?  I think?)  and had meant to pass it along but never did, do thanks to Alert Reader "DS" for redirecting my attention back to this textbook example of my former home town's freewheeling approach to generating revenue.  From the ABA Journal:

Chicago generated 77,000 additional red-light tickets by shortening yellow-light times, report says POSTED OCT 10, 2014 11:09 AM CDT


The city of Chicago shaved a tenth of a second from a yellow light threshold this spring, generating 77,000 tickets for motorists caught on camera for running red lights, according to the city inspector general.
The unannounced change allowed red-light ticketing when yellow lights lasted a minimum of 2.9 seconds, as opposed to three seconds in the past, report the Chicago Tribune (in stories here and here), the Chicago Sun-Times and DNAinfo. The fine is $100 per ticket. The city has agreed to raise the threshold back to three seconds.
The lower yellow-light minimum was instituted as the city was switching red-light vendors amid a corruption investigation. A former city hall manger of the red-light program, John Bills, was accused of taking bribes to help the first vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., win the contract.
The report (PDF) found the city mismanaged the red-light program under Redflex. The review by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson was spurred by a Chicago Tribune report that found dramatic spikes in tickets at 12 intersections leading to 13,000 questionable tickets.
Today's Lesson is Brought to You by the Letter “C”

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Most David Brooks Thing

The algorithm which generates David Brooks "columns" has extruded in a long time:
Over the past few years, liberals and conservatives have been arguing over which growth model is best. But, of course, there’s no need to choose. Both models are more or less working.

Washington is not the cause of polarization; America is. The irony is that something good about America (economic pluralism) is contributing to something bad (segmentation and political trench warfare).

The 2014 campaign has been the most boring and uncreative campaign I can remember. Democrats cry, “My Republican opponent is an extremist loon!” Republicans cry, “My Democratic opponent once shook hands with President Obama!” There’s not even a Contract With America, nor many policy suggestions of any sort. Most campaigns just remind preconvinced voters how bad the other party is.
Because Both Sides, Bitches!

Wanna a little taste of the economic advice the Sage of the Acela Corridor was doling out 13 years ago?
The Democratic party proceeded to work itself up into a collective aneurysm. Dick Gephardt—who, when given the chance to play the demagogue, never goes halfway—said that the United States now faces "an alarming fiscal crisis." Democratic national chairman Terry McAuliffe said on Face the Nation that it had taken Bill Clinton eight years to build up the surplus, but Bush was able to "blow it in eight months." Other Democrats rose up en masse to declare that the Bush administration was going to bankrupt Social Security/the federal government/western civilization because the administration was going to have to "raid the Social Security trust fund."
At the time, Mr. Brooks never concealed his ugly, Conservative Liberal-stomping glee as he referred to any suggestion by Democrats that surpluses would ever end as "stupid", "brainless" and "self-destructive" behavior at a level "that will be unsurpassed in our lifetime."

Want a little more?   Here is Mr. Brooks again in 2001, positively wallowing in Conservatism's post-causality economic fad du jour:
Yes, There Is a New Economy

Thanks to once-in-a lifetime productivity gains, Bush's plans are easily affordable
MAR 19, 2001

This year's tax and budget debate really comes down to one essential question: Is the money going to be there? The Congressional Budget Office projects surpluses of about $ 5.6 trillion over the next 10 years. The Republicans insist that those projections are conservative, so the government can afford to return $ 1.6 trillion to the taxpayers and still have money left over for Social Security, Medicare, and an $ 800 billion contingency fund. The Democrats cry that projections are notoriously inaccurate, that the tax cuts will blow a hole in the budget, and that the Bush administration's risky scheme (which sailed through the House last week) would cast us back into the days of piling debt.

In other words, if you wade through the economic literature, it's hard not to agree with the Cleveland Fed's Jerry Jordan: We are living at a once-in-a-generation moment of economic opportunity. As productivity grows, the economy will grow. As the economy grows, revenues will grow, maybe beyond what the CBO projects. The real question about the Bush tax cuts, then, is not, Can we afford them? The real question is, Why are they so small?
In case you were looking for a link to Mr. Brooks' abashed columns recanting his many, many stupid economic prognostication, his aggressive cheer-leading of Bush's disastrous Iraq Fiasco, his endless columns mocking and sneering at those stupid, craven, hateful, insane Liberals who refused to climb on the Dubya Bandwagon and so forth...well, I don't have any such links to give you because Mr. Brooks has never recanted -- or even acknowledged -- any of the horrid things he wrote.

Why do I keep bringing him up?

Because Mr. Brooks has built an entire, ridiculously lucrative career slandering and lying about people like me.

Because Mr. Brooks remains a Conservative in the most important Conservative traits of all: compulsive dishonesty, unalloyed cowardice and a pathological refusal to ever apologize or even admit error.

Because Mr. Brooks' obsessive Both Siderism remains the Big Lie that enables all the rest of Conservatism's little lies.

And because by now it is painfully clear no one else in the entire constellation of mainstream media heavies is ever going to hold Mr. Brooks accountable for anything he says or does, no matter how absurd or appalling,

There's just me, and a few of others, piling up our leaky little sandbags against a massive, pulverizing tide of such bullshit, while Mr. Brooks goes about the business of moving forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

So Glad Someone at the New York Times


Takes the trouble to watch two-year-old reruns of "The Newsroom".

The New York Times from yesterday:
The Big Lie Behind Voter ID Laws
OCT. 12, 2014

Similar laws have been aggressively pushed in many states by Republican lawmakers who say they are preventing voter fraud, promoting electoral “integrity” and increasing voter turnout. None of that is true. There is virtually no in-person voter fraud; the purpose of these laws is to suppress voting.

In Texas, where last week a federal judge struck down what she called the most restrictive voter ID law in the country, there were two convictions for in-person voter impersonation in one 10-year period. During that time, 20 million votes were cast. Nor is there any evidence that these laws encourage more voters to come to the polls. Instead, in at least two states — Kansas and Tennessee — they appear to have reduced turnout by 2 percent to 3 percent, according to a report released last week by the Government Accountability Office.

Voter ID laws, as their supporters know, do only one thing very well: They keep otherwise eligible voters away from the polls. In most cases, this means voters who are poor, often minorities, and who don’t have the necessary documents or the money or time to get photo IDs.
All of which should come as a surprise to exactly no one who reads anything other that the Wall Street Journal, listens to anything other than Hate Radio, gets their "news" from anyplace other than Fox, or watched "The Newsroom" back in 2012 (video embedding disabled),

I will say, based on my own informal and unscientific polling that Conservatives have quietly stopped pretending that voting fraud actually exists, and now simply resort to the standard wingnut Fight (IRS!Solyndra!Benghaaaai!) or Flight (BothSides!BothSides!BothSides!) response when confronted with yet another glaring example of Conservative racism and contempt for democracy. 

Which is progress of a sort I suppose.

In fact, according to my own sporadic and unscientific visits to the wingnut radio end of the dial, Democrats could solve this whole problem if they could just convince Barack Obama to stop apologizing for Murrica and break out some of his magic Green Lantern Leadership pixie dust.

I guess Dems just want to lose!