"Radar Secret Service" Edition.
Good writing is where you find it, and quite by accident I discovered some of the most astute descriptions of the Sunday Morning Gasbag Cavalcade circa 2017 are to be found hidden in this 1955 New York Times review of "The Big Combo" which described that noir classic as...
"...all hands pulling in opposite directions.""...a sputtering, misguided antique."
"...open-throttle monotonous serving of mayhem."
Because for longtime students of form, the transparently unnatural form and dishonest function of our national weekly Bland Guignol has jumped into incredibly stark relief in the Age of Trump. It really is nothing but a puppet show, with prescribed roles which are filled out each week with a handful of the same names that everyone has on their pundit Rolodex.
There are "guests" who are brought on to recite their scripted answers to scripted questions. For example, from "Meet the Press":
CHUCK TODD: All right, let me go to this financial feasibility issue here. Because in Fayette County, West Virginia, this is one example, Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the following: That the $4,000 tax credit that a 60-year-old making $30,000 a year that will get under the American Health Care Act is almost $8,000 less than they would get under Obamacare.
This is a county, by the way, that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump. The point is this, is you say this is going to make it more affordable, and access to coverage under this plan, in this county, in this state, less money and more expensive for these folks.SECRETARY TOM PRICE: That's looking at it in a silo. If you look at it in the way that the market will allow, then, for individuals to have choices, who knows what that 60-year-old wants? I know that the federal government doesn't know what that 60-year-old wants...
Brief driftglass aside: There are whole libraries full of actuarial data from the last couple of centuries that very accurately predict the medical needs of that 60-year-old. These sorts of "statistics" have been in use by "insurance companies" for centuries to price their policies. These sorts of "statistics" have also been used by the administrators of government health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid to forecast what medical services tens of millions 60-year-olds will need and use.
But apparently it is completely unreasonable to expect the nation's Secretary of Health and Human Services know that.
It is just so fucking embarrassing.
End brief driftglass aside.
CHUCK TODD: But I notice you ducked the aspect of whether you can guarantee that nobody will be worse off financially?SECRETARY TOM PRICE: I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through...CHUCK TODD: You believe your system's going to add an additional 20 million over the 20 million that have had expanded coverage? You really believe that?SECRETARY TOM PRICE: We believe that-- We believe, I believe and the president believes firmly that if you create a system that's accessible for everybody and you provide the financial feasibility for everybody to get coverage, that we have a great opportunity to increase coverage over where we are right now...
So if they cook up a system that is cheaper and better for everyone...
...then that system will be cheaper for everyone!
(Warning: Bullshit tautologies will not be covered under TrumpCare.)
And what happens when the non-partisan professionals who wear green eye-shades and work the abaci actually do the fucking math and tell the Party of Trump that their Super Ooper Dooper Imaginary Health Care plan is a garbage bag full of Republican ass gas?
They'll do what they always do: attack the refs and lie, lie. lie. lie. lie. lie.
From Fox News (emphasis added):
“The director of the CBO is not Moses,” Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton told ABC’s “This Week.” “He doesn't come down from the mountaintops with stone tablets. … They can make mistakes. But they do provide an important amount of information and analysis that allows senators and congressmen to make informed choices. … We need to take it seriously. We don't have to accept everything and every conclusion at face value.”...
“In the past, the CBO score has really been meaningless. They have said that many more people will be insured than are actually insured,” White House Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn told “Fox News Sunday,” in an apparent reference to ObamaCare.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the CBO estimated that more than 20 million people would have coverage 10 years after the start of ObamaCare.
"It's about half of that right now," he said. "So the CBO has been very adept in not providing appropriate coverage statistics.”
(Most reports show a maximum of 16 million people enrolled in 2017.)
As I said, an "...open-throttle monotonous serving of mayhem."
Meanwhile, back at the "respectable" puppet show, after the "guests" are excused, we find "panels" which have been assembled out of representatives samples of the demographic groups the network wants to attract. For example, on a show dominated by fallout from the rolling GOP health care dumpster fire and the giant, whopping lies Republicans are floating to try to obscure their rolling health care dumpster fire, NBC does not have any actual health cares expert on to muddy the waters. Instead (once again from "Meet the Press"):
Joining me for insight and analysis are David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times, Stephanie Cutter, former deputy campaign manager for President Obama, CNBC's Rick Santelli, and Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press
So... Shouty crapweasel Rick Santelli still exists so NBC can remind the Fake Tea Party that no matter how batshit their unhinged claptrap gets, Comcast still love them and wants them to buy dick pills and reverse mortgages from NBC's advertisers.
Helene Cooper is there to alternately agree with and roll her eyes at Rick Santelli, but with a big 'ol smile because we're all friends here people, and none of this is actually serious.
Stephanie Cutter is there to grit her teeth through her contractually-obligated smile and try to smuggle a few facts into the ear-holes of anyone who might be clicking past the puppet show on their way to "The Rifleman".
And David Brooks is there to represent the befuddled Imaginary Republican Party which has never existed anywhere outside of the imagination of pundits like David Brooks and to provide reassurance to Mr. Brooks' high-dollar, high-influence clients (Addlepated university presidents. CEOs. Political professionals. Beltway media assholes. Sclerotic, plutocrat shut-ins. And so on.) who cling to his Whig Fan Fiction for dear life.
DAVID BROOKS: Yeah. No. Well, here's what I don't get about what's going on this week. We just had 2016, an election about the working class. Election where we learned that a lot of people are out of the job market. The social fabric is fraying. And so the lesson is pay attention and help these people.
So the Republican Party could help these people with market-based mechanisms, which I support. Do they do that? No. They have huge tax cuts for the rich. This investment income tax credit only goes to people above 250. And that has been stable in all the plans that they've come up with and thrown around.
And meanwhile they're throwing 8, 10, 15 million people off the rolls. So it's declaring war on their own voters. And then there's a wing of the party that's saying, "No, that's too much. We need to totally decimate them." So the Republican Party has to figure out, "Are we going to help our voters? Or are we still the party that, you know, we're still going to be the party of the rich?"
To be clear, there is nothing objectionable about the content of what Mr. Brooks is saying here, but the context of what he is saying is ridiculous. Mr. Brooks' Republican party did not "...[declare] war on their own voters" this week. They declared war on their own voters (and the rest of us) 40 years ago, and up until about five minutes ago, Mr. Brooks was right there with them, hiding out from the Real World in his cloistered garden of Burkean delights, doggedly pimping the Right's worst ideas and diffusing and dismissing their worst atrocities.
And now that it is far too late, he has begun to dimly notice that the road he has spent his entire adult life paving had led straight to the hell the dirty hippies have been warning about for decades.
Which is why there are no dirty hippies on the panel ever.
Because right now, the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade format and content are both as stale and passé as a Leonard Barr stand-up routine. Their purpose is to provide a well-lit, well-funded circle-jerk "safe space" for all the usual Beltway suspects to say all the usual Beltway things. And since these are terrifyingly unusual times, the last thing the networks want on their hands is anyone who threatens to pull up a chair and start pointing just exactly how we got here and who exactly is to blame for it.
And so this sputtering, misguided antique rolls mindlessly along
Meanwhile, Ms. Kellyanne Conway went on teevee and blabbed all of the Radar Secret Service's secret radar stuff.
Which is why we can't have nice things!
From Politica via Snopes:
Kellyanne Conway Explains Microwave Oven Surveillance RemarksWhite House advisor Kellyanne Conway raised eyebrows when she mentioned microwave ovens as possible surveillance tools during a news interview....In response to a similar line of questioning on CNN’s “New Day,” a program Conway and other White House officials have largely avoided in recent weeks, the counselor to the president said it was not her responsibility to provide evidence for an allegation.
“I’m not Inspector Gadget. I don’t believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign,” she said. “However, I’m not in the job of having evidence. That’s what investigations are for.”
CNN host Chris Cuomo pushed Conway on the issue, asking her why she even raised the use of household gadgets for surveillance purposes if it were not her intention to imply that Obama had done just that inside Trump Tower. “The question is why were you doing that?” Cuomo said. “Because this goes to personal integrity.”
“I’m allowed to talk about things that are in the news without you questioning anybody’s personal integrity,” Conway replied. Accusations that she intentionally leveled an allegation against Obama without evidence have come from at least in part from “other people who don’t necessarily want Donald Trump to be the president,” she said.
This, in turn, prompted The Bastard President to anoint himself Emperor of All Tone Policing.
It is amazing how rude much of the media is to my very hard working representatives. Be nice, you will do much better!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2017
I, for one, have no plans to do "much better" anytime soon.