Thursday, January 20, 2022

Professional Left Podcast #634

"It's supposed to be automatic, but actually you have to push this button."
-- John Brunner, writer    
 
Don't forget to visit our website -- http://www.proleftpod.com -- for all those sweet bells and whistles:  there are links to donate to our podcast work at that site, as well as links to our swingin' Zazzle merch store,  our respective blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Kittehs! and much more. Many thanks once again to @theologop for building it all for us!

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Will Saletan's "I Am Centrism!" Pays Off Bigly


About a year ago I wrote a thing about Will Saletan in which I said that, to me, Will Saletan...

...is the op-ed columnist version of the Kitty Kuspidor.  I know he is  human person that I've been subliminally aware of, off and on, for some period of time.  I know he writes opinion pieces for Slate because Wikipedia tells me so.  And I know he occasional brings the fact that he works at Slate to a wider audience than the editors at Slate by writing something goofy or "controversial" that draw some attention from he outside world.

Such as this codswallop -- 

The Enemy Isn’t Republicans. It’s Liars.
The case for a broad, fact-based alliance against fabrications.

-- which immediately set off alarms by violating one of my most reliably battle-tested rules: when someone tells you it's not about Left or Right, tuck your money in your sock and run the other way.

I also took the time to gently remind Mr. Saletan that...

We already have a broad, fact-based alliance against fabrications.  It's called the Democratic Party and (frequently to my chagrin) anybody can join!  So thanks but no thanks, we don't need a new clubhouse with people like you working the door. 

 After Mr. Saletan took his readers on a journey though his salad days -- 

Over the years, I’ve bounced around the political spectrum. I was liberal in Texas, more conservative in college, and now I’m somewhere in the middle.

-- I wrote that maybe, during all that bouncing, Mr. Saletan had bonked his head and slept through [checks notes] the entire Bush Administration and the primal-scream racist freakout over the Kenyan Usurper because:

What Trump has brought to the United States is ruthless, relentless, denialist propaganda at a scale we used to see only in dictatorships. 

And when Mr. Saletan continued chumming the waters with big, gloppy dollops of Both Sides Do It  -- 

Progressives and conservatives have always quarreled about what’s true. But to make those debates productive, and to correct our country’s mistakes—failed projects, naïve policies, bad wars—we need a common standard for judging truth. That standard can’t be the Bible or identity politics. 

-- I wondered loudly what great sea creature he was hoping to attract, especially when his marching orders for us mouthy Libtards was...

...supporting Sen. Mitt Romney, Rep. Liz Cheney, and other Republicans when they speak the truth. It means seriously engaging with fact-based journalism at the Dispatch, the BulwarkNational Review, and other publications in the center and on the right. It means distinguishing the sins of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush from the pathologies of Trump and Newt Gingrich.

The Bulwark?  Really?  Where'd that come from?

And then it all became clear to me when Mr. Saletan was suddenly a featured guest on The Bulwark podcast, 01/27//2021:

Episode 522:  "Will Saletan: We Need a Coalition for Truth"

So I reminded Mr. Saletan one more time that maybe, just maybe, what the tiny fraction of Republicans who are not completely fucked-in-the-head needed to do was join the broad, fact-based alliance against fabrications which already exists called the Democratic Party.  Then I congratulated Mr. Saletan for winning a guest appearance on The Bulwark by flattering The Bulwark and writing a very Bulwark column.  

Because that's how it's done, kids!

But little did I realize that this was not a one-and-done.   That wedging himself onto the already-overcrowded Centrist/Both Siderist pundit lifeboat would pay off for Mr. Saletan long-term.

From yesterday:

Sykes: Uh you... you... you are the national correspondent for Slate, but as they say on the social media, you have some personal news.

Saletan: Yes, I am coming to The Bulwark. I am coming to join The Bulwark, uh, Charlie Sykes, Sarah Longwell, Jonathan Last and the entire crew of, uh, folks who are trying to save democracy.  

Sykes:  So tell me about that. You have been with Slate for several years now.  Um you're very, very well-known national political reporter.  And you are joining the staff of The Bulwark this month. So why, other than the fact that we really, really, really wanted you and we... and we... and we have been pitching you and seducing you and cajoling you for months...

Saletan:  Okay so I wrote an article in Slate almost exactly a year ago about how that we need a coalition that crosses party lines, that crosses ideological lines...


Remember kids, always dress for the job you want, not the job you have.  

 

No Half Measures


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Today's Never Trump Moment of Zen



They are extremely miffed that you and I dominate the political infosphere while they are barely represented at our Cool Kids Table.

From this Bulwark exchange between Matt Yglesias and Charlie Sykes in which they extol the glories of the Imaginary Center: (BTW,  if you've never hear Yglesias speak, he sounds exactly like actor and recent arrestee Ed Deezen, shown here worrying about giving away back door secrets in WarGames):

Yglesias: Because so many people experience politics not by, y'know, counting up votes in congress but by looking at what's happening in the media, right? And, y'know, our experience of politics is very mediated by what's on cable, by what's on Twitter, by what's in the New York Times op-ed page. And it's quite, um, extreme, right? It is a lot of very left-wing Democrats counter-balanced by a lot of very crazy Republicans.  And, y'know, you've got a podcast.  And, y'know, I've got my SubStack.  And Josh Barrow now will have a SubStack and a podcast. Like, there certainly are more moderate people who exist in the media but we don't dominate the stage in...in the same way.

Sykes: I think that's something of an understatement.

Yglesias: Yeah, but... but that's, like, the... that's the vibe of politics y'know?


What Yglesias and Sykes fail to mention is that the Sunday Shows have long been nothing but endless fire swamps of the kind of Both Siderist drivel they both crave.  Fire swamps in which indestructible Centrist Pundits of Unusual Size are the apex predators.

They also somehow failed to mention that MSNBC gives three hours of prime time every morning to a failed Republican congressman and his side piece -- a perch from which Squint Scarborough has been vigorously punching down at us dirty hippies for decades.

And that MSNBC is now basically a co-production with The Bulwark website marketing department.

And that...well, you get my point.  Neither Yglesias nor Sykes let the fact that Yglesias is talking entirely out of his ass interrupt the self-pitying folie à deux they were sharing.  Instead, Yglesias  raced on to do some top-notch speculating about a better, brighter timeline that could have been if only President Biden had punched some hippies, loudly and publicly.

Specifically, Yglesias joins Josh Barrow in the belief that the aggressive Republican voter suppression efforts taking place in every GOP-controlled state in the union are no biggie.  And that comparing Republican scumbags who are engaging in widespread voter suppression campaigns today with the scumbags who engaged in widespread voter suppression campaigns during the Jim Crow era is being really unfair to today's scumbags and -- no kidding -- deeply insulting to black people who lived through the Jim Crow era.  

Yglesias went on to speculate that since today's Republican voter suppression efforts are a big nuthin', Biden should've sat down with, say, Rob Portman, and told him that Democratic party voting right activists are stupid, whiny babies to get all upset over widespread Republican voter suppression efforts.

And Portman woulda said, "Yay!  I love hippie punching!"

Then Biden would spring into action, saying that since widespread Republican voter suppression efforts don't amount to anything, what'd be the harm in passing a few, face-saving voting protection thingies?

And then, over in Yglesias' alternate timeline, because Biden had called Democratic activists stupid, whiny babies and given Portman a fig-leaf, Portman would've skipped happily back across the aisle and rounded up a bunch of Republican senators to pass some minor, meaningless stuff.

Which, to anyone who isn't hopelessly, knee-walking drunk on Beltway Both Siderist popskull, is all patently ridiculous.  But would, according to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, accomplish two important Centrist goals: 

  1. Deal the base of the Democratic party a good, hard, demoralizing shot to the yam-sack in advance of the 2022 midterms and,
  2. Allow Republican scumbags to look like a statemen while giving up nothing and accomplishing nothing. 
Which, to goofs like Yglesias and Sykes, is what Bipartisanship should look like.

For a brief moment, Sykes seemed to be able to hold in his mind the one, glaring reason why no such accord could ever be reached with a party so deeply invested in the Big Lie.

Sykes: But unfortunately you have Republicans who have a vested interest in, y'know spreading the... the, y'know... spreading the disinformation, the distrust...

But then, inevitably...

Sykes: ...and then of course you have you know the hyper partisan, y'know, folks... uh... uh on the Democrat side as well that... that want to engage in litigation even when you have bipartisan compromises...

Which is why, boys and girls, we here all know that we should never, ever trust a Never Trumper.



Burn The Lifeboats

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Tone Cop! -- Special White House Episode

Rather that writing my 700th or so (no kidding) Sunday Morning Comin' Down column detailing the weekly crimes committed against journalism and democracy by the Sunday Shows, today let us speak for a minute or two about why you and I and everyone we know already knew what this weekend's Sunday offerings would be and why.  Because the Sunday Shows are nothing but  a flatboat that sails down the wide, polluted river of American political punditry every week, always bearing its load of hackneyed opinions with the current and never against it.

So, if during the preceding week you had been monitoring the strength and direction of that wide, toxic sludgeflow, you would have known that the American political punditocracy was not troubled by the now-out-and-proud racism of the GOP or the fanatical obstructionism of the GOP or the fact that the GOP has turned their base into Freedumb's own plague rats in order to extend the pandemic and kneecap the Biden administration or the GOP's ongoing, coordinated, nationwide campaign to finally rid themselves American democracy once and for all.

None of that fazed them, because they don't live in the same country that you and I do.  They are Plato's Stepchildren -- powerful beings whose power comes from the lovely walled garden in which they all live and where they speak only to one another:

And thanks to the power that walled garden grants and the protection it provides they can safely revert to the full-on "Why is Obama being so divisive?" and "Why won't Obama lead?" mode on which they coasted for eight, lazy years.  

But of course, now it's Biden who is failing because he refuses to use the magic Green Lantern powers which all Democratic president secretly possess but refuse to use 

And right down the line, the same old goof sang the same old song.

Peggy Noonan:

Biden’s Georgia Speech Is a Break Point

He thought he was merely appealing to his base. He might have united the rest of the country against him.  

David Brooks approving of Pegger's tirade:

Then Brooks advances the Beltway pundit party line using one of the many, many platforms where he is a revered Elder Pundit:

Then there was Mona Charen's podcast:

A.B. Stoddard and Ben Parker join the group to discuss Biden's kamikaze voting rights push and Putin's threats to Ukraine.

And Charlie Sykes and David French:

Here we find noted Twitter Quitter and NYT bridge troll Bret Stephens opining in the The New York Times' long-overdue-for-the-scrap-heap "Conversations" column.  In this weekly feature, Times' senior Beltway Conservative hack tosses out Beltway Conservative talking points, and Gail Collins waves her hand coquettishly and titters "Oh, g'wan you".

Bret: It’s another depressing sign of Team Biden’s political incompetence. How did they think it was a good idea for the president to go to Georgia to give his blistering speech on voting rights without first checking with Kyrsten Sinema that she’d be willing to modify the filibuster in order to have a chance of passing the bill? And then there was the speech itself, which struck me as … misjudged. Your thoughts?
...

Bret: I meant Biden’s suggestion that anyone who disagreed with him was on the side of Jefferson Davis, George Wallace and Bull Connor. The increasingly casual habit of calling people racist when they disagree with a policy position is the stuff I’ve come to expect from Twitter, not a president who bills himself as a unifier. And again, it’s political malpractice, at least if the aim is to do more than just sound off to impress the progressive base.
...

Gail: Well we are in total agreement about the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Back to Kyrsten Sinema for a minute — nothing is going to induce her to do anything that would threaten the filibuster, also known as the Rule That Makes Senator Sinema Marginally Relevant.

Bret: You won’t be surprised to learn that I like the newest Arizona maverick more and more...

No surprise that Chuck Todd lined right up to speak the holy words (via Brother Charlie Pierce):

Confronted by the monster’s indulging in its rage, which it builds within itself by repeatedly declaring itself unloved, much of the elite political press hides behind politesse for which the monster has no respect anyway. Chuck Todd tweeted out a lament that the president hasn’t been able to cobble together a coalition with Republicans to pass voting-rights legislation, instead of noting that voting rights have no constituency within the Republican Party anymore. The monster has devoured it.

One of the punditocracy's more unflushable turds of nepotistic smarm -- Matthew Continetti -- was apparently been paroled from Trump-supporter jail long enough to bob to the surface of Chuck Todd's Meet the Press Panel and smirk some advice about how Joe Biden needs to get much more Centristy hurryupquick, while Andre Mitchell cried bitter tears over Joe Biden using impolite language to describe the behavior of Republican monsters. 

And speaking of Meet the Press ... 

... just last night I happened to catch David Gregory's Ghost of Meet the Press Past act  on CNN where he demonstrated that he can still shake his huge, simian noggin and tsk-tsk Democrats for their "divisive" tone just as well as he could back in his glory days (h/t Crooks & Liars):

ERIN BURNETT:  So let me ask you one other point because you know the majority whip James Clyburn today said there are more than two Democratic senators who would oppose changing the filibuster. The others oppose it but haven't been -- had to take the heat for it.  And then, but the two that oppose it, it's Manchin and Sinema and the one who takes the heat for it and the anger and the ire and the personal diatribes is Sinema. Why do you think that is?

DAVID GREGORY: I don't know. I mean, you know, misogyny, for one. She is a woman. Sexism. But I think there is -- I mean, I think any Democrat who is getting in the way of this is -- is focusing -- men and women -- are getting the ire of progressive Democrats. I don't think that they were -- were prepared for the fact, um, that, you know, they just didn't have the momentum behind this to bring this forward. Look. I think the -- first of all, I thought the president overdid this speech. It was way overcooked. Basically, saying you are either for this or you are a racist, which I don't think was a bridge-building effort. I think the President and the White House made a decision. They knew they didn't have the votes, they were going to go for the argument, whip up the base and I think that's what they felt they could do at this point but the reality is Democrats are taking a hard look at this. There is not enough support to do it.

Because this isn't a bridge-building exercise you log.

Because as I wrote in September of 2016, right now we're marching towards the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

And since you cannot, cannot, cannot be on both sides of that conflict, this was a demand that each member of the senate look history and their constituents in the eye and declare which side of that bridge they are on:




Burn The Lifeboats

In Which I Learn All Kinds of Amazing Stuff Listening to Charlie Sykes Interviewing Josh Barro

I learned that, after it was called to Mr. Barro's attention in 2016 that the Republican party was full of Republicans, he bailed on the GOP and registered as a Democrat in 2016.  And it seems pretty clear that he was at least partly motivated to do it so he could use the swipe card Dems give new members to get into our locker room and take an individual dump in everyone's locker.

I learned that Barro believes he has superhuman insight into what "normal" people want.  From the podcast blurb:

For the Democrats to win, they need to focus on what normal people think about — which is NOT Jan. 6 and the potential end of democracy. They want Covid shut down and the economy opened. 

I learned that Barro also believes he has deep insight into what black Democrats want.  You will be shocked to learn that black Democrats don't really care all that much about voting rights.  Also that all the stuff Republicans are trying to pull all over the country is fairly trivial.  Nothing at all to worry about.  Democrats might want to take a shot at reforming the Electoral Count Act, but even that is kinda meh.

I learned that you and I have been duped into believing voting rights is under attack and that black Democrats care about it only because [and these quotes are all direct from the podcast] our "national conversation" about voting rights is dominated by certain "prestige national outlets The New York Times and NPR" as well "web-first outlets,,,like Vox" which are all controlled by "people who voted for Elizabeth Warren".

That the reason Democrats are putting on a show about fighting a fight they know they'll lose is probably to mollify "a constituency of political donors...and activists".

I learned that Barro knows all this because although he is "not normal", he is "more normal" than you and me.

Heh. (h/t E Buzz Miller)


And then they were off to the races:

SykesBut y'know, as you point out, that y'know having this national conversation you know by and for people who, y'know supported Elizabeth Warren does  explain where we're at here.  Because it really does badly mislead you about where normal people -- the average voter -- what they think about,  they believe, what they care about.  What motivates them...

Reminder that this is coming from a guy who lost his entire political party because he swears that for decades he really had no fucking clue about what the average Republican voter really believed, or wanted, or cared about.

Eventually I turned it off and began to wonder who I have to see about revoking certain people's Democratic party swipe card.


Burn The Lifeboats

Monday, January 17, 2022

Now That Michael Steele Has Moved on to Other Things...

 ...the GOP's new designated Break-Glass-In-Case-We-Get-Caught-Doing-Racism black person is senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.  

And there could not have been a more dizzyingly perfect pairing of the GOP's open suppurating racism and the GOP's frantic fig-leafing that open suppurating racism than Tim Scott getting his Ronald Reagan Underoos in a bunch over Joe Biden speaking truth to Scott's party...

Scott creates MLK Day videos, hopes to rebut Biden speech 

...For Scott, the speech was an overly impassioned stretch, or worse.

“To compare or conflate people who oppose his positions as being racists and traitors to the country is not only insulting and infuriating, it’s dead wrong,” Scott told the AP last week. “All you have to do is know the facts, and you realize that the president wasn’t misleading us only, he was actually fibbing to us, in order to amass political power — basically lying to us.”

...while at practically the same time, the leader of Tim Scott's party was at one of his signature Moronburg rallies whipping up a mob of some of the most loyal members of Tim Scott's party with lurid tales of election theft and unvarnished racism:

From Newsweek

Trump Claims White People 'at the Back of the Line' for COVID Vaccines, Treatments

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday claimed that white people are being discriminated against and sent to the "back of the line" when it comes to receiving COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.

Speaking during a rally in Florence, Arizona, Trump alleged that coronavirus vaccines and treatments are being unfairly "rationed" and withheld from white Americans in some states.

"The left is now rationing life-saving therapeutics based on race, discriminating against and denigrating, just denigrating white people to determine who lives and who dies," Trump said during his speech. "You get it based on race. In fact, in New York state, if you're white, you have to go to the back of the line to get medical help. If you're white, you go right to the back of the line."...

And then there was Trump's decision to celebrate MLK day by: 

Trump's Racist Tirade Against Black MSNBC Host On MLK Day

These are your people, senator Scott.

This is your fucking party.  



Burn The Lifeboats

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Professional Left Podcast #633

"My characters hope for better lives."
-- Octavia Butler, writer    
 
Don't forget to visit our website -- http://www.proleftpod.com -- for all those sweet bells and whistles:  there are links to donate to our podcast work at that site, as well as links to our swingin' Zazzle merch store,  our respective blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Kittehs! and much more. Many thanks once again to @theologop for building it all for us!

Links:  

The Professional Left is brought to you by our wholly imaginary "sponsors" and real listeners like you!







The Chaos Queen of Arizona Regrets To Inform You...

...that democracy will be cancelled for the foreseeable future.  

Via The New York Times:

Sinema Says She Will Not Support Changing Filibuster

President Biden’s drive to push new voting rights protections through Congress hit a major obstacle on Thursday when Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, declared that she would not support undermining the Senate filibuster to enact new laws under any circumstances.

Pre-empting a presidential visit to the Capitol to meet privately with Democrats, Ms. Sinema took to the floor to say that while she backed two new voting rights measures and was alarmed about new voting restrictions in some states, she believed that a unilateral Democratic move to weaken the filibuster would only foster growing political division.

“These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself,” Ms. Sinema said. “And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.”... 
 
No senator.

You are the disease.
 

Burn The Lifeboats

Professional Left Podcast #634

" It's supposed to be automatic, but actually you have to push this button." -- John Brunner,  writer       Don&...