Every liberal writer/talker/grouser I know of has his or her own toolkit of facts and quotes into which they can usually dip to produce just the right sledgehammer-and-nipple-clamp combination needed to blow almost any Modern Conservative argument to atoms.
And that’s the problem.
Take, for example, this little slice of neocon crazy from which Tommy Friedman has again built an entire column in which the primary theme (around which he will be Maypole dancing for at least a month) is in Capital Letters, just in case you missed how Very, Very Serious a thinker the Moustache of Understanding really is:
Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics. In the process, we did some stupid and bad things. But for every Abu Ghraib, our soldiers and diplomats perpetrated a million acts of kindness aimed at giving Arabs and Muslims a better chance to succeed with modernity and to elect their own leaders.
The Narrative was concocted by jihadists to obscure that.
Whether or not any particular paragraph in Friedman's wildly veering bibbledy happens to accidentally bang into any slow-moving reality as its plunges over the guardrail of credibility as it hurtles into the abyss of hack writing is overwhelmed by the sheer brain-freezing hilarity of Thomas "Suck. On. This." Friedman
trying for the umpteenth time to re-write recent American history by drawing on his usual arsenal: three crayons, hyperventilation and the fact that he has a permanent column in the New York Times.
After which, the next thing happens: people like the estimable Glenn Greenwald take Friedman apart, such as he does here by, in part, dipping into his toolkit and breaking out five-year-old articles like this:
UPDATE III: As Jonathan Schwarz documented back in 2004,
Because it is not merely that Friedman is wrong; it’s that he’s old-wrong. Tired-wrong. Washed-up-drudge wrong. And so Glenn has no need to do any original spadework on Friedman; he needs only re-re-re-re-link posts from 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. And, one presumes, he will go right on re-linking then in 2010…2012…2015.
Second, consider this extended exercise in magical thinking by Fred Barnes of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal (emphasis added):
...Only in the sumptuously appointed opium den of Murdoch-land could anyone refer to a center-right moderate like Barack Obama as the leader of a “liberal revolution” without falling down laughing.
Why has the president's publicly expressed vision of a kinder, gentler Washington failed to materialize? I think Mr. Obama — while hardly the only person at fault — is chiefly responsible.
He might have spawned a different Washington, a less divided town with Democrats firmly in charge but Republicans actively involved. The bonus for Mr. Obama and Democrats would be higher popularity and better prospects in 2010 midterm elections. Instead, the president made three strategic mistakes—or, really, misreadings of the political landscape—and they've come back to haunt him and his party.
First, Mr. Obama misread the meaning of the 2008 election. It wasn't a mandate for a liberal revolution.
Only in a madhouse could anyone dare to advance the argument that Obama “is chiefly responsible” for the mean-drunk, hog-slaughter behavior in D.C. even as the Party of God openly and proudly deploys every weapon it has from drooling mobs in public square, to slithering hypocrites in the pulpit, to roaring bigots on Hate Radio, to legislative button men on the floor of the United States Senate --
End the GOP's filibuster folly
A year ago, Barack Obama was elected to bring change to America. But his efforts to transform Washington are being stymied by one of the capital’s oldest of political traditions: the Senate filibuster. Ten months into Obama’s presidency, Democrats have passed just one major piece of legislation, February’s stimulus package.
But from judicial and executive branch nominations to health care, labor and financial reform, the very threat of the filibuster and other obstructionist techniques by Senate Republicans has stopped President Obama’s ambitious political agenda in its tracks.
Reforming the way Washington operates is hardly the sexiest of topics, but from a policy and even a political perspective, there are few more important issues on which Democrats should be focusing their energy. Quite simply, the filibuster has become the single tool that is undercutting everything Obama and the Democrats were elected to achieve.
Both parties have historically used the filibuster, but its overuse by modern Republicans stands at outrageous proportions. Not only has the number of filibusters increased dramatically — from never more than seven a year in the 1960s to a record 137 in the last Congress — so, too, has their banality.
-- in an explicit attempt to strangle the Obama Administration in its cradle by any means necessary.
Neither Tom Friedman nor Fred Barnes nor 100 others like them of various gauges and calibers have any business whatsoever participating in a national dialogue. About anything.
And yet they do, because this is no longer a "debate" in any sense of the word. It has become a ritual.
A ritual in which, no matter how many different ways Friedman and Barnes and all the rest find to slip and fall face-first into their own shit in print every week…they will rise again the week after, poop a few lines on nonsense on a sheet of white paper, see their words reprinted everywhere, collect a paycheck, and go home.
After which 1,000 writers -- myself included -- will once again go to their B-roll to prove, yet again, that they are wrong.
A sad, nightmare-tinged ritual which changes nothing.
But it is all we have.
Watching this exchange on “Face the Nation” --
HARRY SMITH: This new report from your committee that basically confirms Osama bin Laden was within the grasp of U.S. military at Tora Bora in December of the year of 9/11. Had he been killed or captured at that time, do you think we would still have U.S. forces in Afghanistan?
SENATOR CARL LEVIN: Maybe not. I would say there'd be a good chance we would not have forces or need to have forces there. But this has been kind of well known for some time that we took our eye off the ball. Instead of moving in on him at Tora Bora the previous administration decided to move its forces to Iraq. It was a mistake then and I think this report of the Foreign Relations Committee just sort of reinforces that.
-- I could only marvel that it took eight years for a formal, gummint body to come out and begin to tell the god damned truth about how spectacularly the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld oil cartel lied about and fucked up Afghanistan -- that Republican “token gesture” of a war at which Conservatives casually threw American blood and treasure like Mardi Gras beads on the way to the war they wanted, two countries away in oil-rich Iraq.
And with this comment from Levin:
--with the Afghan forces is not a shortage of American troops, it's a shortage of Afghan troops. The ratio in Helmand province, where we were, were five Americans for each Afghan soldier. It should be reversed.
I felt rage. Absolute rage.
Six years ago, Conservatives told us all in definitive, defiant, declarative sentences that the reason we could leave a placeholder force in Afghanistan and skip on over to big, juicy Iraq was because the war was over.
We'd Won! Period.
Even as Liberals like me were waving around dirty Commie foreign press coverage of incredibly ominous development like major Taliban Spring offensives, we were called disloyal.
Told that we hated America for even thinking such things or reading such trash
Told to sit down and shut the fuck up,
because George W. Bush's codpiece was an Invincible Christian Peace Shield that would keep us all safe from the scary brown foreigners forever.
We were right. About everything.
They were wrong -- tragically, catastrophically, completely wrong. About everything.
And yet they still are on the Inside. Sleek and prosperous.
While we still fight for scraps on the Outside.
On “Meet the Press”
A rich guy and his wife talked about giving.
And Reverend Rick Warren said “I’ve spoken at Davos many times…”
And then I turned the channel.
On “This Week” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) used his one appearance on national teevee to cock-punch Senator Lindsey Graham (R-John McCain’s underwear drawer) during his 355th such appearance.
Sanders: We’ve dumped the trillions these botched Republican wars have already cost on our kids and grand-kids. How about we start paying for them?
Graham: Cool. Let’s cut the budget somewhere to pay for bouncing the rubble around in Afghanistan for another ten years.
Sanders: So what do you wanna cut? Hospitals? Schools? Food for poor people? What?
Word of advice, Bernie; you’ll never get on the Mouse Circus speed-dial if you keep slapping around
their favorite pool boys.
The Roundtable consisted of one liberal -- Paul Krugman -- and four members-in-good-standing of the Conservative/Beltway Insider Axis; Matthew Dowd, George Will, Cokie Roberts and Dan Senor, who, if you didn’t know (because they didn’t mention it) was, among other things, Deputy to Bush White House Spokesliar Scott McClellan
More about Senor:
While in Kuwait and Iraq, Senor was an adviser to both the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance and later the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), for which he was Chief Spokesman and Senior Advisor.
In September 2004, the White House controversially employed Senor to coach and ghostwrite the speeches of Iraq's interim prime minister Iyad Allawi during his visit to the US, in an effort to enhance the Bush reelection campaign. At the same time, Senor appeared on cable news programs claiming that Allawi's positive remarks (vetted by Senor) supported the Bush Administration's rosy view of the Iraq occupation.
He currently draws a paycheck playing pundit for...wait for it...Fox News, and completed the Beltway Insider circle of life by marrying CNN on-air personality Campbell Brown in 2006.
Yesterday he was brought on camera to share his infinite wisdom on the subject of foreign policy, because who on Earth could possibly be more credible and qualified? Except maybe Dick Cheney's daughter?
On the proposal for a surtax to pay for the final acts of Dubya’s Mideast Follies:
Senor: Imagine if every time we had a foreign policy priority, we said we had to raise taxes?
Krugman: There’s a big difference between a war and a “foreign policy priority”. Wars are expensive. Iraq was supposed to be cheap, remember?
On climate change:
Will: The financial incentives for lying about climate change is so high that… (Leaves the dangling implication that the only people who believe in climate change do so because their mortgages depend on it.)
Krugman: For every 20 people in the scientific community who are credible climate change expert, there is one flake “skeptic” for hire by the oils companies, and yet they are given the same amount of time on teevee. It is much more comfortable to be an oil company whore than it is to tell the truth.
Will: No. The US Energy Department is bribing people to lie about carbon and stuff. Also jobs and, uh, the economy. Also my Victrola snapped a belt and the sassy kid from the Geek Squad says he can’t fix it. Damn you global warming liars!
Krugman: Shut up old man, or you’ll never make it out of this studio alive.
On the White House Party Crashers:
Dowd: This whole thing about becoming famous without doing anything. About gaining celebrity without inventing a vaccine. Or running the mile in under four minutes.
What about becoming famous for giving Republicans soothing political reacharounds?
Or for pimping racist, xenophobic trash to the desperately ignorant?
“Fox News Sunday” was what it always is: a platform for smirking, sociopath freaks like Bill Kristol to get away with saying things like
“Democrats cannot bring themselves to win a war.”
without anyone around to challenge him.
But Fox surpassed even its own standards for surrealism at the very end during this exchange in which all the Clowns at the Fox Circus share a giant hanky about the White House Party Crashers and awful awfulness of our celebrity-sick culture.
Chris Wallace: How could anyone do this? How could they?
Dana Perino: Why anyone would want to do this!?!
Nina Easton: Because it pays. She spent seven hours getting ready for this party. And they need the money.
Wallace: Do you think someone will actually PAY them for this?!?
Kristol (Perma-smirking): There are a lot of scam artists and con men out there.
Yes, that’s right: the degenerate sons of Mike Wallace and Irvin Kristol…
…sitting on the set of their fake news show…
…lavishly adorned with blonde Fox news bimbos…
…and collecting the paychecks for telling lies to stupid people...
Are pretending to be stunned that American culture has grown so sick that some fortune-seeking, second-generation, spoiled rich twat of a con artist…
…would use his contacts and blond arm-candy…
…to break the last, sacred seal -- the rules of Beltway party-going…
…to get his own teevee show.