Thursday, June 01, 2023

Professional Left Podcast Episode #721

“Without memory, there is no healing”--   Desmond Tutu


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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Tom Dunsel*, The New York Times' Fifth Emergency Backup "Both Sides Do It" Guy.

Because the Times never wants to risk running out of Both Sides Do It guys.

Here's the headline.

Breaking:  New York Times Columnist Tom Edsall Dunsel thinks Both Sides are pretty bad. 

The Politics of Delusion Have Taken Hold

By Thomas B. Edsall

There are very real — and substantial — policy differences separating the Democratic and Republican Parties. At the same time, what scholars variously describe as misperception and even delusion is driving up the intensity of contemporary partisan hostility...

It goes on like that.

For  +3,000 words.  

And nowhere in that vast quagmire of Sulzberger-family underwritten idiocy and Beltway-Bell Jar myopia is there a single mention of Fox News or Newsmax.   

And no mention of Hate Radio.  

No mention that 11 million more bigots and imbeciles came slouching out of the sewers to vote for Trump after they lived through four years of Trump depravity, lies and treason.  

No mention of January 6th. 

No mention that the Obama administration has already provided the world with a nearly-perfect experiment in what would happen if Democrats nominated and elected the a calm, rational, open-handed Centrist candidate who might as well have been built in David Brooks' basement Both Siderist lab using plans passed down by David Broder.

No mention of the eight year racist primal scream that was the reaction from the Republican base to the existence of the Obama administration.

No mention of the eight years of obstruction, sabotage, sedition, Birtherism and [checks notes] the theft of a Supreme Court seat that was the reaction from the leaders of the Republican party to the existence of the Obama administration.

No mention that the nomination and election of Donald Trump was nothing less than the Republicans hysterical, racist backlash against eight years of a black man in the White House.

And, with the exception of two brief mentions of Donald Trump, Dunsel shows virtually no awareness that Donald Trump was ever president, or what that event should tell any sentient human [except for certain doddering mopes who write ridiculous, mildewed op-ed columns for major American newspapers]  about the true state of the GOP.

Instead, in the very last paragraph of this slab of elite media Cheez Whiz embalming fluid, we get:

The embodiment of delusional politics is, of course, Donald Trump, with his false, indeed fraudulent, claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The continuing willingness of a majority of Republican voters to tolerate this delusion reflects the difficulty facing the nation as it struggles to restore sanity to American politics — if it’s not too late.

Step one in restoring sanity to American politics?  Purge the media of useless gleeps like Tom Dunsel.


I Am The Liberal Media

No Fair Remembering Stuff: Representative Glenn Grothman

Meet Glenn Grothman, the Republican representative from Wisconsin's 6th district.  Here 

"They left low income housing untouched. I think as far as discouraging work and marriage, I think low income housing is a more dangerous program than food stamps." 

So how did this slab of putrid Wisconsin cheddar ever get elected to the House of Representatives?

He had powerful friends in Wisconsin media who loved his brand of "kick the poor" Conservatism.

Friends like "Wisconsin's Rush Limbaugh" Charlie Sykes.

Here is Sykes caping for Grothman in 2014, just months before the 29-year Wisconsin conservative radio veteran suddenly discovered that the Republican party was full of bigots, imbeciles and vicious, weirdo yahoos like [checks notes] Glenn Grothman.

" a frontline conservative there's no contest in terms of Grossman, and people around here in southeastern Wisconsin know that." -- Charlie Sykes, 2014

Sykes is the giant Armillaria ostoyae fungus of depraved Wisconsin politics. Dig one inch below the surface of any of Wisconsin's worst Republican scumbags and you'll find their roots all trace back to Sykes.

I Am The Liberal Media

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Elite Conservative Dorm Room Foodfight

Since you are a normal human being with normal human being interests and concerns, the ongoing virtue-signaling food fight between recently-former Republicans called "Never Trumpers" and another group led by the likes of the National Review (America's Oldest and Most Venerated Journal of White Supremacy) who are referred to as "Never, Never Trumpers".

The latest round of this pissing match was kicked of by a now throroughly red-pilled Nat Silver 

This one Tweet, and the attendant "Yeah, brother" shouts from the wingnut peanut gallery set various Never Trumper's blood to boiling, but none more comically than Tom Nichols and Mona Charen and her crew on Charen's Bulwark media podcast.

I understand why many people will find this exchange harmless and innocuous.  Especially Liberals whose business model demands that they stay on the good side of Never Trumpers much higher up the media food chain than they are.  If you're angling to stay friendly with Nichols because you'd like him to bring his audience to your podcast, or if you need to stay on good terms with Charen so that she'll stay in the regular rotation of Bulwark employees which now takes up 65% of your cable station's air time...I get why you might flinch at making mock of your "allies".

However, as a longtime dirty, disreputable Liberal blogger and podcaster out here in the middle of Middle America, I am relatively free of these sorts of commercial considerations.  For the unforgivable sins of reminding our Never Trump "allies" that history did not begin in 2015, and that they themselves played critical and profitable roles in turning the GOP into the monster factory it is today, and that allowing Never Trumpers to colonize what little is left of the Liberal media while actual Liberal voices were being shoved further and further into exile was a terrible idea, and most damningly, for reminding Never Trumpers over and over and over again that the Left was right about the Right all along...most of them blocked me years ago.

With all that said, consider the following with two thoughts in mind.

First, how identical-to-nine-significant digits Tom Nichol's whole "We warned you, but did you listen?  Noooo!" disquisition about Never Never Trumpers is to exactly the same observations that certain dirty, disreputable Liberal blogger and podcasters have (repeatedly) made about the Never Trumpers. Y'know, the whole "History began long before 2016 and if you don't believe me, here are my archives" thing.   

And recall how roundly those dirty, disreputable Liberal blogger and podcaster were scolded by their Liberal supervisors for daring to make Never Trumper uncomfortable by, y'know, remembering things.  Really, really important things.

Second. note how the very worst insult that can be flung about in the Never and Never Never precincts is the charge of being a (shudder) Democrat.  How Never Trumpers continue to take great pains to point out how "independent" and "non-partisan" they are.  How proud the are that they shit on Both Sides!


Mona Charen:  One of the irritating things that we have seen, even from Nate Silver. 

Tom Nichols:  Ugh.

Charen: But you see it all the time from the Anti-Anti-Trump brigades, which is, if you were really sincere about disliking Trump you'd get behind Ron DeSantis. And the fact that you're not doing so shows that you really want Trump again and so forth. I find this infuriating.  It's so illogical.  The fact is the reason that I hung back first of all, like, y'know there's a lot to dislike about Ron DeSantis but beyond that I was never convinced that he could take out Donald Trump because of his evident weaknesses.  
And I thought there's no way in which, y'know the people at The Bulwark or the people at The Dispatcher or Tom Nichols rallying around DeSantis is going to make a dime's worth of difference if the guy doesn't have what it takes...

driftglass:  Fun Fact:  When I was being reprimanded by my Liberal supervisors for alienating our new Never Trump "allies" by remembering stuff from the Before Time, I pointed out (repeatedly) that I was just a nobody blogger and podcaster out here in the cornfield.  I have never been invited to opine on cable teevee, or to pen my opinions in any print publications, or to join any Liberal podcast network, or to share my spicy opinions on syndicated Liberal radio (except for the BradCast, which is awesome), or to debate the merits of my opinions with any Never Trumper anywhere.  Plus, like a lot of Liberals, I have a long history of being right about a lot of things  and watching helplessly as nobody listened...and then the Bad Thing happens.

In other words, all available evidence suggests that my opinions about Life, the Universe and Everything could not possibly matter less.  And yet the reprimands from my Liberal supervisors continued.  Because, after all, the Fate of The Republic is at stake!

Nichols:  It became the accepted wisdom that DeSantis -- this placeholder -- was the Trump killer.  And the problem with that is that you actually have to hear the man speak and the minute he steps out there and he does all that kind of weird stuff imitating Trump and that nails on a blackboard voice and the weird otherworldly affect -- and this comes back to your point now Mona -- a lot of us look and said yeah this probably isn't the guy.  
But y'know, the response from the Anti-Anti Trumpers is such bad faith.  Because you say, look Ron DeSantis isn't a very good candidate and their answer to you is, "Well not with that attitude little mister!"  Y'know, it's like "You can't beat him as long as you're not going to be on board" but what they really mean is that they want to be able to make the charge and there are two really just, y'know, childishly bad faith charges.  
One is that you and I and Charlie and every other Never Trumper... we want Trump. Like, he's *good* for us.  Like, if Donald Trump gets re-elected, like I have no real interest in the future of my country.  If Donald Trump gets re-elected I'll get, like, a bonus at The Atlantic or Oxford will up my royalties on my last book or something.  And this is just stupid.  These are people just don't understand how any of this works and always forget that if any of us were really interested in the money, as Matt Schlapp proved, the smart thing is to jump on the Trump train, not jump in front of it.  
So...and the other thing they want to be able to do is to say because you don't support DeSantis or because you're not plumping for him as the only alternative to Donald Trump you're not really a Conservative.

Charen: Absolutely!

Nichols: You're just another Democrat criticizing Republicans.

driftglass:  Because in the Never Trumper's head, there is almost nothing worse than being accused of being Democrat.  Maybe because The Atlantic doesn't hire (shudder) Democrats who have been right about the Right all along to write exactly what Nichols writes for them now.  Maybe because Oxford doesn't commission books from (shudder) Liberals who have been right about the Right all along to write exactly what Nichols writes for them now.  Maybe because MSNBC doesn't hand out contributor contracts to anyone but recently-former Republic Bulwark employees -- especially anyone who might be tempted to blurt out some pre-2016 wisdom -- to go on camera and talk about the Republican Party in exactly the same language that Liberals have been using all along.

Nichols: And it's... I'm sorry but especially given through the whole Democratic primary where I took a lot of bats for things I said about Kamala Harris and Castro and Bill de Blasio.  People who write about politics write about politics we're not on your team.  We're not your cheerleaders.

driftglass:  See!  See!   You can trust us because we're bashing Both Sides.  

Nichols: And I think the Anti-Anti Trumpers -- and I know we've all talked about this before -- they know that they sold out.  They know that they chickened out by saying,  "Well I don't support Trump, but...", right?  Dot dot dot.  I don't support Trump but I'm not going to vote against him.  I'm gonna vote third party.  I'm gonna not vote. I'm gonna still be part of the Republican faithful even as the party kind of spirals into this cult of personality.  And they really want to believe that everybody is as morally ungrounded as they are.  And so that's a big part of that accusation. So when you're not supporting DeSantis because you don't really have any principles and you're just in it for the money, and you just sit there and listen to this and say, "This sounds an awful lot like projection." 

Charen:  Yeah if you don't mind I'm just going to climb up on the soapbox just for another minute and just say that all of the establishment conservative organs who made their peace with Trump and eventually, as you say, "plump" for Trump, they poisoned the atmosphere to the extent that they taught the electorate to accept everything from Trump To make excuses for everything from Trump.  To doubt any news source or any outlet that wasn't pro-Trump.  To the point where they now say, "Gee, why is it so hard to get rid of this guy?" y'know.   And they fantasize that they can do it with Ron DeSantis but the fact is they created the environment that has made Trump so hard to dislodge.

driftglass:  This is why Never Trumpers and their mainstream media collaborators and employers avoid Liberals with functional memories like the the devil avoids Holy Water enemas.  Because they are equally guilty of all of these same "you taught the base all these terrible habits and now we're fucked" charges that they want to lay at the feet of Never Never Trumpers.

It took billions of dollars by right wing billionaires and decades of work by goofs like Charen and Nichols and the rest of these recently-former Republicans to build a base that was primed and ready  for a demagogue like Trump.  

Nichols: And how come you won't support us in supporting a guy who's *almost* as bad as Trump.  

Charen:  That's right!

Nichols: You hate vanilla. Well how about French vanilla?  How about vanilla bean?   No I I don't like vanilla.  But, y'know, as you said and as I wrote just yesterday look the country would be better -- I say this not as a partisan not as a member of any party -- 

driftglass:  Just think of me as David Brooks with a mustache...

Nichols: ... it would be better for the United States of America if Donald Trump were never on a political ticket anywhere in this country.  His record of supporting violent sedition should have rendered him completely ineligible for any kind of federal office.  And so I would be more than happy to see anybody on that ticket but Donald Trump.  But that doesn't mean that, after years of the rationalizations that places like National Review and the attacks on people like you and me over the years, that now it's, like, "Okay, it's time for you to get on the team."  Like that scene in Full Metal Jacket, "Son come in for the big win."  No that's not how it works.  
We didn't create this indestructibility of Donald Trump.  We warned you about it.  We told you not to do this.  And to somehow accuse us of acting in bad faith I think really is just a guilty conscience externalized onto the Never Trumpers at this point.

Charen: Thank you for that.  

These people built the transcontinental conservative railroad that brought the country 95% of the way to where we are now. 

But now all they want you to focus on is Trump, when all Trump did was lay the last mile of track on a ballast bed they had already leveled and graded, and then drive in the golden spike.  

And since (over my futile objections) they have successfully colonized what little was left of the Liberal media, I'm pretty sure they'll get away with it.

I Am The Liberal Media

He's Not Confessing. He's Bragging.

 It's a line from The Big Short, but boy howdy, does it apply here.

In the Democratic People's Republic of Texas, and on Steve Bannon's treason-cast, saying out lout that you stole an election isn't admitting to crime.  It's virtue signalling to the bigots and imbeciles that make up the Republican base.

I Am The Liberal Media

Monday, May 29, 2023

Science Fiction University Episode 15 -- When Genres Collide!

All episodes available at our Science Fiction University website here.

No Labels: It Was MAGAtha All Long

Oh noes!  A handful of credulous centrist Democrats are starting to notice that No Labels was the poisonous, Republican-enabling grift that --


-- some of us said it was all along.

From Politico:

A group of House Democrats with ties to No Labels is turning on the centrist group after it attacked one of their founding members.

On Tuesday, No Labels texted people who live in the district of Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), criticizing the congressman for scoffing at their idea for a unity presidential ticket and claiming it could result in Donald Trump’s return to the presidency.

In its message, No Labels said it was “alarmed to learn that your U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider recently attacked the notion that you should have more choices in the 2024 presidential election.” They called Schneider “out of step” with his voters.

The missive did not go over well with Schneider, who is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus that No Labels helped start on the Hill.

“No Labels’ attacks are the kind of division the country needs less of right now, and it’s a betrayal of every moderate and every problem solver in Congress,” Schneider said in a statement to POLITICO. “I helped form the Problem Solvers Caucus six years ago to reach across the aisle and find common ground, not to abandon my principles. I am as committed today as I’ve always been to the principles that reflect the values and priorities of my district, and to reaching across the aisle for the good of our country.”

Schneider was quickly joined by other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus in chastising No Labels for attacking one of their own and pushing a unity ticket.

“No Labels is wasting time, energy, and money on a bizarre effort that confuses and divides voters, and has one obvious outcome — reelecting Donald Trump as President,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in a statement. “Now, the organization has decided to go one step further and attack a decent, well-respected, and hardworking member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus for the apparent sin of calling them out on their bogus plan.”..

If you have a minute, we did a whole No Fair Remembering Stuff episode on thehistory of No Labels here:

I Am The Liberal Media

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Saving Face 101

I used to work here as a computer programmer.  

Well, not here, here.  

At first they stuck my team in a former (recently abandoned?) dentist's office, adjacent to the building...then in offices across the skybridge in the 625 Davis Street building (which was, at the time, alleged to be the tallest building between Chicago and Milwaukee) then I got the hell out of that fucked-up department (which is where we're going today) and into another department which I thought was better run (which it was, until the VP in charge retired and then, hoo boy) which was housed in an former (recently abandoned?) jewelry store (still had the mirrored display cases) which was also adjacent to the building and also smelled of  ancient, unstoppable decay, and then, finally, back to a different floor of the 625 Davis Street building where I had a lovely corner office with a great view of downtown Evanston.

Which lasted until a mob of Evangelical, Conservative Christian loot-and-scoot consultants from Texas got their hooks into the owners of the company and proceeded to gut it and destroy many careers along the way including mine.

Dark times for our hero.

Anyway, based on my experiences there and at other deeply dysfunctional companies, I have always maintained that, if one could hold one's lunch down and keep one's eyes open, while working at just about any level of management in any fucked up company, one could obtain a graduate-level education in how companies implode.

Which brings us to CNN.  

The one common factor across all the fucked up organizations for which I have ever worked, was the paralyzing fear of the man or woman in charge of losing face.  Of admitting that had blown it.  In a healthy organization, if you're basically competent, you can screw up and survive, as long as you learn from it and own up to it.

Here, for example, is The Great One showing you how it's done:

But if you're a mope, and you've clawed and scratched and finally been Peter Principled to the upper echelons, the only thing that will keep you there is the relentless, swaggering projection of your infallibility.  Which is accompanied by the constant nagging dread that you will be made to look ridiculous because, to quote Jack Woltz, a person in your position can't afford to be made to look ridiculous.

On the other hand, you now also have actual power over the lives and fortunes of everyone below you..  Their mortgages and college funds and 401Ks depend on your good will.  With a word you can put them on the unemployment line, and with a few phone calls you can make them damn near  unemployable.  And it's the easiest thing in the world to build yourself a thick, ablative shield of toadies and yes-men and attack dog to amplify the  swaggering projection of your infallibility, defend you regardless of the facts, and run to ground anyone who says a discouraging word about your management abilities.

And it never stops until the organization bleeds enough money to either collapse, or trigger some outside force to intervene and decapitate the management.

Or at least put the head of a decapitated horse in the top guy's bed to encourage him to rethink the situation.

Which, this time, really does bring us to CNN.  

Objectively hiring of Chris Licht by David Zaslav to run CNN has been a rolling, public disaster, and the CNN Trump Town Hall was, objectively and predictably, a very public debacle.

From The New Republic:

CNN Is Tanking After Its Unforgivable Trump Town Hall 
Chris Licht’s master plan has already run aground—as have the news channel’s ratings. 

CNN’s brass defended its disastrous early-May town hall with Donald Trump on journalistic grounds, arguing that while he may present unique challenges as an interview subject—serial lying, general incoherence, a literal attempted coup—it was ultimately better to hear from the front-runner for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination than to ignore him. “We obviously can’t control what Donald Trump says—that’s up to him,” the network’s news director, David Chalian, told Vanity Fair a week before the event. “What we can do is prod, ask questions, follow up, and try to get as revealing answers as possible.”

This scenario, we know with the gift of hindsight (and, to be fair, the gift of foresight as well, as this was all eminently predictable), was not what transpired during the chaotic town hall. Moderator Kaitlan Collins made a game effort to rein Donald Trump in, but as usual, he simply steamrolled over her while an audience packed to the gills with supporters hooted and hollered in support...

Boston University grads booed the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO amid the writers strike

Students at Boston University chanted "pay your writers" as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav gave the commencement address at the institution's graduation Sunday, amid a writers strike that has been impacting the television and film industry...

But, of course. a mogul in David Zaslav's position can't afford to be made to look ridiculous, so...

David Zaslav Backs CNN CEO After Trump Town Hall Uproar: Chris Licht Is ‘Rebuilding the Network’ 
“That’s what we’re going for,” Zaslav said. “Our view is, there’s advocacy networks on either side, that we have the best journalists in the world. We need to show both sides of every issue. If you went there after Roe v. Wade, you would turn to CNN and there’d be someone to the left, where this was the best day for them in 40 years, but when the moderator turned to the right, it was the worst day in 40 years. But we had both, all the time.”

And so...

WBD CEO David Zaslav Defends Chris Licht, Is Pleased That More Republicans are Appearing on CNN

And so...

‘Paid By MSNBC’: CNN Exec Torches ‘Shameful’ Jen Rubin Op-Ed Calling For Amanpour to Replace Licht

After Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Jennifer Rubin called for the ouster of CNN chief Chris Licht over the network’s town hall with Donald Trump, one of the network’s communications executives hit back in a scathing statement.

Matt Dornic, the head of strategic communications for CNN Worldwide, blasted Rubin in a statement posted to Twitter, blasting the suggestion Licht be replaced and her calling CNN a laughingstock “shameful.”

I don't know anything more about the specific interior politics of the CNN's C-suite than is publicly available, but I do understand how dysfunctional organizations behave, and especially how they react to criticism.  

I Am The Liberal Media