"The Bullet Holes in the Bombers" Edition.
Periodically I get asked the question, "Why do you waste your time on those [insert favorite epithet here] Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade? They are either establishmentarian shit-wagons, or outright Republican troll shows, so why the fuck do you bother?"
Good question, because week-in-week-out, there is nothing whatsoever worth seeing on any of these Sunday Beltway puppet shows. They are empty ritual performed in the temple of a fake god, presided over by people who are paid enormous sums of money to perform this fraud once a week. As an exercise in civic responsibility, the entire enterprise is a dead-loss and an insult to any notion of journalism.
But inside our Imperial City, these rituals are taken very seriously by the powerful people and corporations which control our economic and political lives. This whole, grotesque "Both Sides" kabuki is enacted every week for their benefit, and for millions of our fellow citizens who want their political apathy and cowardice mirrored back to them as the received wisdom of elite and respected insiders -- the political equivalent of swearing that you frequent that bondage-themed night club because they have an excellent buffet.
So make no mistake: the corporations who fund these puppet shows and the people who front for them in print and on the air are the Bad Guys --
-- but unlike out-and-out fascist propaganda slop-houses like Fox News, they have to keep up appearances. Feign respectability. Because nobody likes to see the hostess' wig slip when they're telling themselves they're at the titty bar because of its world-famous french toast.
So the reason to observe the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade -- at this point, the only reason -- is analogous to the reason the Allies studied bullet-hole patterns in their returning bombers during WWII: because when taken in the aggregate, what is missing tells the real story:
One famous story of operations research success during the war involved an analysis of Allied bombers returning from bombing missions over Europe. The military analyzed the location of shrapnel damage and bullet holes in returning bombers, to identify where to place additional armor on aircraft. Operations researchers were brought in at the last minute to do a “confirmatory” analysis, but they recommended that additional armor be placed on bombers everywhere except the places with damage or bullet holes! The operations researchers realized that analyzing damage to returning bombers involved a sampling error. It was the bombers that did not return that needed extra protection—and they needed it in the most vulnerable places (the places not damaged on the returning bombers).
By Sunday, Donald Trump had risen high enough in the celestial order of things to rate a 3/4 Ginsberg -- by phone. That's right, he literally phoned-it-in to ABC, NBC and CBS.
A Full Phonesburg, if you will.
And he said nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just...trumpspeak.
In addition to Republican Donald Trump, Shuck Todd put a camera in front of the emptiest suit in American politics -- RNC Chairman Reince Priebus -- to ask him about how the RNC has let Fox News take over the party and turn the debates into a freak show of drowning candidates, climbing all over each other to try to out crazy Donald Trump.
His response was one for the ages:
Then they wheeled out Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- presumably for "balance" -- to babble in a vigorous circular motion about about unsourced, unconfirmed rumors about Joe Biden and to play pin-the-tail-on-the-Socialist.
It's a pity that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is kinda dumb, because here was a perfect chance to explain that Social Security is socialism. Medicare is socialism. Every foot of our public roads and bridges, every acre of our public parks and every brick and book in every public libraries are examples of socialism incarnate. And that the Right has spent decades making this an ooga-booga word because they want to get rid of all those things.
But even though she had been asked this question before, when confronted with video of her blowing the answer to this question the first time, Debbie Wasserman Schultz blew it a second time.
So why have such a weak-ass Democrat on to defend Bernie Sanders and his place in our political firmament when there are a 1,000 stronger voices out there who could have handled that question brilliantly?
Now, that's a damn good question.
Shuck Todd also read meaningless poll numbers and fundraising totals at you, in a tone usually reserve for warning civilians about imminent Godzilla attacks. Because meaningless poll numbers and fundraising totals matter very deeply to the powerful people and corporations which control our economic and political lives.
Then, 30 seconds on cops and body cameras and Black Lives Matter, because you can't say NBC doesn't care about black people! And then we pivot to Republican Dr. Ben Carson.
I have inaccurately transcribed that conversation for your reading pleasure:
Shuck Todd: I hear Cuba Gooding Junior played you in a movie once.Ben Carson: That's true.Shuck Todd: So what was it like working with those adorable Snow Dogs?Ben Carson: Wrong movie.Shuck Todd: And speaking of movies, Donald Trump. I notice that you're not a politician. Just like Donald Trump in not a politician.Ben Carson: Yes. Donald Trump is awesome.Shuck Todd: I also noticed that you're black. Hey, what about Black Lives Matter?Ben Carson: Cops are awesome. People shouldn't advocate killing them.Shuck Todd: Um...ok.Ben Carson: If you think cops suck so bad, try living in anarchy for a week! Because those are our only two alternatives apparently.Shuck Todd: This topic is making me nervous, and making you sound nuts, so let's talk about immigration? A little snow dog tells me that you are in favor of amnesty.Ben Carson: I told you, that's the wrong movie. And I'm in favor of not being absurd about the logistics of deporting 12 millions people, whatever you call it.Shuck Todd: Amnesty, Amnesty, Amnesty!Ben Carson: Whatever.Shuck Todd: Here's a random question from Facebook because we at NBC are totally down with the kids today and their Twitters and Instagrams and such. Random Facebook Persons asks: "If Jebus fought Thomas Jefferson with nun-chucks, who would win!"Ben Carson: I'll pass.Shuck Todd: Thanks Dr. Ben Carson!
The so-called political panel was just as bizarre and pointless. Everybody had a line to say, and everybody said their line:
Gerald Seib, the guy from Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal wants you to know that their polls show Trump's support goes beyond angry, stupid white men. He's also popular among angry, stupid white women and angry, stupid young people!
Kathleen Parker, one of the Republican mouthpieces from Washington Post, urged Jeb Bush to be like Ronald Reagan and sell arms to Iran or something.
Yeah, that'll work:
Yeah, that'll work:
I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2015
Helene Cooper of The New York Times wants you to know that despite her 20-year-old obsessive hatred of the Clintons, Maureen Dowd is a fantastic reporter who can totally be trusted.
And survivor-of-the-MSNBC-purge Chris Matthews offers his advice for taking on Donald Trump.
Basically, everyone milled around in the parking lot, passing the Conventional Wisdom jug around, waiting for the title fight this Thursday.
Because it's just a game to them.
Just a game.
...But all this noise doesn’t amount to an ongoing story by which citizens can understand what is actually going on. Not just concerning who might be our next president, but what it all means for the republic. And not just concerning the candidates, but the behind-the-scenes string-pullers whose names, really, should be almost as familiar to us as Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio, and, God forbid, Dr. Carson.Instead, we get the same old hackneyed horse race—like, did you know that Rick Santorum is in trouble? Only one voter showed up at his June 8 event in Hamlin, Iowa. The Des Moines Register reported that. Politico made sure that tout Washington knew it. Though neither mentioned that Santorum is still doing just fine with the one voter that matters: Foster Friess, the Wyoming financier who gave his super-PAC $6.7 million in 2012, and promises something similar this year. “He has the best chance of winning,” Friess said. “I can’t imagine why anybody would not vote for him.’’ Which, considering only 2 percent of New Hampshirites and Iowans agree with him, is kind of crazy. And you’d think having people like that picking the people who govern us would all be rather newsworthy.You’d be right.Just don’t expect to read anything about it in Politico.
And don't expect to see or hear anything about it on the weekly Gasbag Cavalcade.