Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The New Party Line: UPDATE

"If we can't make memories, we can't heal."

-- Leonard Shelby, Memento

As has been exhaustively documented on this blog (and almost nowhere else) for the last decade, Mr. David Brooks has devoted himself relentlessly to lying about our nation's recent past.  Lying about Liberals.  Lying about the economy.  Lying about the basic nature of the American Conservatism he helped to create, and lying about depraved nature of the Republican Party he helped to shape.

On the rare occasions Mr. Brooks does not write some iteration of his basic "Both Sides" claptrap, or name-check all the powerful and famous people he has on speed-dial, or regurgitate some version of history in which the actual Republican as we know it does not exist, Mr. Brooks writes long, gassy meditations on importance of reticence, humility, self-reflection and modesty in developing good character.

I have long since given up trying to decide whether to laugh or at this majestic, public hoax, but what is perfectly clear is that Mr. Brooks has helped engineer an entirely fraudulent and enormously profitable cartoon version of our nation's recent past.

It is, of course, an insult to the thousands of American and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died for Bill Kristol's blood-drunk fantasies to continue this farce, but soft and cowardly men like Mr. Brooks never really gave a shit about them anyway.  Nor did they care about the trillions of dollars flushed down the Iraqi rathole to fund their vision of global conquest.  Like the nation's fear and rage after 9/11, our nation's blood and treasure were never more than the means for these men to achieve their ideological ends.  They deliberately warped the war they got into the war they wanted and slandered the hell out of anyone who stood in their way.

And as I have documented on this blog almost every day for the last 10 years, when it all went tits up and it turned out that, yes, the dirty hippies were right all along -- yes, the Bush Administration really did piss away the Clinton Surplus and plunge us right back into deficits as far as the eye can see and, yes, the Bush Administration really did lie us into the wrong war and botch that war and, yes, they  really did set up torture camps around the world which were directed from inside the White House and, yes ... and yes ... and yes ... --- for a moment the whole country was suspended in midair.

As the Bush Administration's Jenga tower of lies collapsed and the Very Serious People who had grown rich penning fawning reviews of that tower began running in terrified circles at the thought of being held accountable for all the Very Public treachery and calumny and spite they had so recently been slinging...for a moment there was a vacuum.  A moment of genuine crisis when it looked as though the dirty hippies might actually crash the gates and begin insisting that the people who conspired to create the worst economic and foreign policy disasters in modern history start answering some blunt questions about the smoking ruins all around them.

And then, in the pit of their despair, America's Wingnuts and Beltway Elite both heard the clarion call of a New Party Line.  A new Big Lie which would save them all from the brutal judgement of history and let them get back the  business of running the world.

And the New Party Line was...Deny.  Deny.  Deny and anyway, Both Sides Do It.

The past never happened.  And on those embarrassing occasions when it proves to be impossible to get away with simple denial, just remember that everyone is equally to blame for their honest mistakes and partisans on Both Sides are Equally Bad, so why single out any one person or party for special spanking?

Oh if only there were some kinda Third Way!  One with No Labels!  One which the Very Reasonable People on Both Sides could get behind!

There are two major parties on the ballot, but there are three major parties in America. There is the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the McCain-Lieberman Party.

All were on display Tuesday night.

The Democratic Party was represented by its rising force — Ned Lamont on a victory platform with the net roots exulting before him and Al Sharpton smiling just behind.

The Republican Party was represented by its collapsing old guard — scandal-tainted Tom DeLay trying to get his name removed from the November ballot. And the McCain-Lieberman Party was represented by Joe Lieberman himself, giving a concession speech that explained why polarized primary voters shouldn’t be allowed to define the choices in American politics.

The McCain-Lieberman Party begins with a rejection of the Sunni-Shiite style of politics itself. It rejects those whose emotional attachment to their party is so all-consuming it becomes a form of tribalism, and who believe the only way to get American voters to respond is through aggression and stridency.

The flamers in the established parties tell themselves that their enemies are so vicious they have to be vicious too. They rationalize their behavior by insisting that circumstances have forced them to shelve their integrity for the good of the country. They imagine that once they have achieved victory through pulverizing rhetoric they will return to the moderate and nuanced sensibilities they think they still possess.

But the experience of DeLay and the net-root DeLays in the Democratic Party amply demonstrates that means determine ends. Hyper-partisans may have started with subtle beliefs, but their beliefs led them to partisanship and their partisanship led to malice and malice made them extremist, and pretty soon they were no longer the same people.

The McCain-Lieberman Party counters with constant reminders that country comes before party, that in politics a little passion energizes but unmarshaled passion corrupts, and that more people want to vote for civility than for venom.
And here is where the Very Serious People found their salvation, their battle cry and their new High Priest:  Mr. David Brooks -- once Bill Kristol's loyal creature at the Weekly Standard, now a columnist-for-life at the New York Times and the CEO of Humility Incorporated -- pounding away, week after week, column after column for year after year, in a relentless artillery barrage of raw denialism and silky Both Siderism, all sheathed in the language of faith and piety of Mr. Brooks' Church of Lyin'tology.

From it's humble origins in the fiery wreckage of the Bush Administration,  Mr. Brooks' Church of Lyin'tology has grown into a vast and profitable enterprise.  Its hymns are sung on every Sunday by every member of the Gasbag Cavalcade, and its dogma is scrupulously copied out in the editorial pages of virtually every major American newspaper.  It's why Bill O'Reilly will never be fired no matter what he says or does, and why Joe Scarborough can lie with impunity for three hours a day, every day, on your Liberal teevee.  Because every member of the conspiracy knows that once any of them starts pointing fingers, naming names and demanding accountability -- once demanding truth and consequences is permitted -- their whole, multi-billion dollar sham starts to unravel.

But no matter how huge and powerful their confederacy of denial may be, the Big Iraq Lie is still the pillar of their temple.  Defend that ground, and every other lie on which the Right and the Fake Center depends is strengthened possible.  Crack that foundation, and the magnificent machinery which has made wealthy and powerful men out of traitors, liars and lunatics starts to tear itself apart.

Errors and Lies
MAY 18, 2015
Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago.

But many influential people — not just Mr. Bush — would prefer that we not have that discussion. There’s a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite trying to draw a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on.

Well, let’s not — because that’s a false narrative, and everyone who was involved in the debate over the war knows that it’s false. The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.

And at this point we have plenty of evidence to confirm everything the war’s opponents were saying. We now know, for example, that on 9/11 itself — literally before the dust had settled — Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, was already plotting war against a regime that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. “Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] ...sweep it all up things related and not”; so read notes taken by Mr. Rumsfeld’s aide.

This was, in short, a war the White House wanted...

-- Mr. David Brooks was called upon to take a break from his "Lecturing America About Morality" book tour in order to aggressively defend the foundation lie of his cult from the Ope Ed page of the New York Times with all the bullshit at his command:
Learning From Mistakes
MAY 19, 2015

History is an infinitely complex web of causations. To erase mistakes from the past is to obliterate your world now. You can’t go back and know then what you know now. You can’t step in the same river twice.

So it’s really hard to give simple sound-bite answers about past mistakes. The question, would you go back and undo your errors is unanswerable. It’s only useful to ask, what wisdom have you learned from your misjudgments that will help you going forward?

Which brings us to Iraq. From the current vantage point, the decision to go to war was a clear misjudgment, made by President George W. Bush and supported by 72 percent of the American public who were polled at the time. I supported it, too.

What can be learned?

The first obvious lesson is that we should look at intelligence products with a more skeptical eye. There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war.

That doesn’t gibe with the facts.
The Iraq war error reminds us of the need for epistemological modesty.
And were I a betting man, based on all the reading and writing I have done on this subject over the last 10 years, I would bet every cent of the $1.97 I have in my checking account that Mr. Brooks and his co-conspirators will hunker down, close ranks and continue to get rich lying about the Iraq war and every other damned thing.

Because when have they not?


On the plus side, Brother Charles Pierce was moved to take out his silver hammer:
It seems that Brooks has noticed that people are talking again about the war for which he so enthusiastically shook his moneymaker back during the Avignon Presidency. So, naturally, it's time for a Professor of Humbleology to cover his own sad-sack ass. (Especially since Paul Krugman kicked said ass pre-emptively yesterday.) Mistakes, it seems, were made. The spectacle is ungainly and obscene.
On the minus side, even the finest life-forms inside the Corporate Media Terrarium continue to look sickly.  For example, my favorite teevee Liberal -- the kindly Dr. Maddow -- cannot well-and-truly unload on the ghouls who shame this country every day by continue their Iraq charade.  In an otherwise admirable beat-down describing the contemptible media circle jerk that props up these obscene lies, the Good Doctor showed that she cannot spit the $7M bit out of her mouth long enough to form the words necessary to name them and shame them.

Words like "Chuck Todd" and "David Gregory" and "Meet the Press".

Instead all she can manage is a bank-shot off of Jon Stewart's vivisection of Judith Miller and oblique references to the "commentariat", the "Beltway Media", the "Beltway Press" and what happens on American teevee "every Sunday".

As I have said many times before, to provoke the honest and vigorous public discussion of Iraq they believe we desperately need, literally all Dr, Maddow or Chris Hayes would need to do is the one thing which none of the rest of us can do: trot the few hundres feet between their offices and Chuck Todd's, plant a camera on his desk and start asking questions.

But that will never happen, will it?

And the vast distance between these two realities -- the obvious, physical simplicity of a Journalism 101 "show up and ask questions" approach to getting answers to their question, and the equally obvious, Business 101 "Career Killers to Avoid" impossibility that Dr. Maddow or Mr. Hayes will ever actually drop by Chuck Todd's office to ask him why he lets Iraq War mongers off the hook -- is the measure of how thoroughly corporate culture has enslaved political journalism in this county and the festering national wound which will never heal as long as frauds David Brooks are permitted to act as our attending physicians:  

Mr. Brooks is suddenly the object of much interest:
Think Progress:  The Casual Dishonesty of David Brooks

Salon: David Brooks’ sickening Iraq apologia: How the New York Times hack just rewrote history  (Spoiler:  As readers of this blog know, Mr. Brooks has actually been continually rewriting history every day for the last 10 years, but welcome to the party!)

New York Magazine: Was the Iraq War a Crime or a Mistake? Yes.

The Rectification of Names: What have I learned from my mistakes? Denial skills that will last a lifetime!


bowtiejack said...

"History is an infinitely complex web of causations. To erase mistakes from the past is to obliterate your world now. You can’t go back and know then what you know now. You can’t step in the same river twice."

This is like watching a squid exude a beautiful pattern of ink. It's all form and no substance intended, like the squid's ink, for absolutely no other purpose than to distract and enable escape.

bluicebank said...

"History is an infinitely complex web of causations. ... You can’t step in the same river twice."

Yes, and I'm just a simple country lawyer unfamiliar with these big city ways.

Fortunately Brooks readers (whom he won't read) inform him he's full of shit, citing intelligence reports, news articles, and various other recollections from that ancient time showing that we DID know the Bush administration was lying, before the invasion of Iraq. And during. And after. Unto this day.

Hell, all Brooks had to do back then was give a shout out to his op-ed colleague Nicholas Kristof and ask, "Hey, what's this I hear about the WMD claims being cooked?" And Kristof could have told him that "cooked" was putting it mildly.

Mike Lumish said...

"The Democratic Party was represented by its rising force — Ned Lamont on a victory platform with the net roots exulting before him and Al Sharpton smiling just behind."

What a lovely rhetorical flourish: my literal Crazy Uncle Liberty hates Al Sharpton with the burning heat of a thousand desert suns, 'cause he and Obama are personally responsible for everything wrong with America. What better way to slander Ned Lamont and draw the poison from the DFH revolt than to tie him to that smirking ogre like an anvil to a canary.

It's amazing what dog whistles you don't recognize until nine years later.

Unknown said...

"While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
- Rebuilding America's Defenses, Project for a New American Century (Neoconservative Thinktank / Bush Officials)

"[Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."
- Colin Powell, February 2001

"We are able to keep [Hussein's] arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."
- Condoleeza Rice, July 2001

"Further, the process of [US military] transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor."
- Rebuilding America's Defenses, Project for a New American Century (Neoconservative Thinktank / Bush Officials)

"Best info fast. Judge whether good enough to hit Saddam Hussein at same time. Not only UBL. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."
- Donald Rumsfeld, speaking to military generals, according to notes taken by aide, 2pm, 9/11/01

"The facts are being fixed around the policy."
- Head of British Intelligence Service, in private letter to Prime Minister Blair, reporting on Iraq invasion plans being developed by Bush administration

"The main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn’t."
- GW Bush, 2006

bonus: Bush jokes about lack of WMD in Iraq: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKX6luiMINQ

double bonus: “A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”

- Barack Obama, 2002

Unknown said...

"There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war.

That doesn’t gibe with the facts."

AS Bill Clinton might say, it takes some brass to stick so faithfully to this pathetic lie even at this late date.

Kathleen O'Neill said...

"The first obvious lesson is that we should look at intelligence products with a more skeptical eye. There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war.

That doesn’t gibe with the facts."

Um, David, the "facts" were that intelligence analysts disagreed with the administration's claims about WMD but Cheney put pressure on them to "cherry pick" data to build a case for the invasion.

You pompous, pasty pontificate of prevarication.

Unknown said...

Jon "political correctness is for losers" Chait is back on the beat, trying to absolve himself of his horrendous judgment and warning that dirty hippie Krugman not to be too rude to the war supporters by calling their rationales false, because you know, there's shades of gray and stuff.

I wish Chait would stick to making fun of the nonsense billowing forth from idiots like Paul Ryan, but he just can't help himself sometimes. He needs to indulge himself with the occasional hippie punch.

Geese Howard said...


Pertains to the discussion, though not aimed directly at Brooks.

Red Hand said...

DFB was particularly nauseating in this one.

When he resorts to highfalutin horseshit like, "The Iraq war error reminds us of the need for epistemological modesty," you know you're hip deep in denial of his responsibility for the blood and gore in the streets, and the shattered lives that point directly back to his own war-of-choice cheer-leading:

Many of us thought that, by taking down Saddam Hussein, we could end another evil empire, and gradually open up human development in Iraq and the Arab world.

The truth is that the miserable bastard merely wishes he were right. ""In 2004, I would have said yes. In 2006, I would have said no. In 2015, I say yes and no, but mostly no."

And he remains a sullen, unrepentant asshole who has learned nothing from the Iraq debacle. In fact, his ending is really a form of self-praise for how nuanced he is about getting it all, horribly wrong:

"It teaches us to honor those who respect the unfathomable complexity of history and who are humble in the face of consequences to their actions that they cannot fully predict or understand."

No, you POS, you do not deserve to be "honored" for false wisdom in retrospect, when it was obvious at the time that the war was a hideous, criminal con job. DFB, the DFH were right, and you have blood on your hands for being wrong.

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Maddow is a team player, and I get the fact she is not free to criticize her peers even if she were inclined to do so, which I also doubt. One must tread carefully in the corporate litter box.

While I appreciate her intelligence and her ability to break down complex issues in a lucid manner, I'm not a fan of her or MSNBC in general.

crweaver said...

To DFB'S utter shock at the mere suggestion that the Bush administration would stoop to, like, making stuff up, one is compelled to scream, possibly in vain:
Even back then, when all this was coming to light, it was known that the emperor had no clothes.