Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lowest common denominator

Mark Leibovich is killing democracy, and he doesn't have a clue to his own culpability.

His multi-thousand-word extended fantasy in today's Times is everything wrong with big media political journalism. I guess he had a news hole, and the early washout of the Republican National Convention left him with nothing much to write about other than himself and his feelings.

First off, his dozens of column-inches are all about him. He's too important to recede into the background and report news as if it were a factual topic:

I began to have this goofy notion, which turned into a daydream and eventually became a recurring fantasy.
This is his lead! A couple paragraphs later:
This spring, for the first time since I started writing about politics a decade ago, I found myself completely depressed by a campaign. “How am I ever going to get through it?” is not the question you want to be asking yourself as you enter what are supposed to be the pinnacle few months of your profession.
If that's all you have, you could always, I dunno, resign and look for a job as a flack.

Of course, in the best (i.e. worst) tradition of Tom Friedman, every single goddamn ordinary person Leibovich talked to liked the idea Leibovich calls "dumb, naïve, unsophisticated and frankly out of character for me, someone with little patience for the Kabuki pleasantries of politics" when he's talking to us, his callous sophisticates.

This all springs from woe is me, it's all too nasty.
The campaigns appeared locked in a paradigm of terrified superpowers’ spending blindly on redundant warfare. How many times do they have to blow up Vladivostok?
Of course, a pox on both their houses:
As with Romney, you can picture [Obama] grabbing for the Purell as soon as he escapes the rope line.
although there's the obligatory back-of-the-hand nonsense that only suggests the Romney campaign kisses Leibovich's self-important butt with a bit more of a porn star's best fakery.
His retail-politicking chores completed, Obama disappeared behind a thick black curtain next to an empty storefront, into something called the “Good News Center” — a place I was not allowed to go.
Yet, despite all the disdain, there's incredible name-dropping. Hey, ma, look who I rub elbows with!

Why do we have to go into a campaign with the press corps we have?

After all this loathing, I'm going out on a generous limb. Leibovich is filled with loathing, all right. But he misidentifies the reason. He has just enough conscience that it's self-loathing. He must realize, deep down, that he's in the dirty, useless business of packaging politics so that Americans can feel virtuous hating and ignoring and pushing away their own government.

Leibovich's problem is not that politicians are letting down political reporters. It's that political reporters are letting down their readers. It's that their readers sponge up vacuous inside-the-campaign reportage like middle schoolers soak up puberty-fueled catty gossip. It's that reporters then give readers more and more of nothing useful.

Leibovich works for what used to be a craft and a calling and now fancies itself a profession. A profession pays enough to justify the self-esteem of highly educated glorified transcriptionists for the ruling class.

Here's a hint: Stop covering the campaign and cover the candidates. Stop bemoaning the superficialities of American politics while, at the exact same time, channelling them straight to readers. Have some aspirations to make a difference beyond false balance and telling the non-cool kids which clique is cool this year.

Never happen. It's far too easy to file bullshit than it is to separate out reality from fiction.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Itching for another shot at the Union

Neo-Confederates fantasize openly about insurgency against an impossible and bizarre scenario that ends in loss of sovereignty:

“He's going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N., and what is going to happen when that happens?” Head asked. “I'm thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we're not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we're talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy."
Judgement-free Judge Tom Head (R-lunatic fringe, Texas - sorry to be redundant) is canny enough to phrase his dark fantasy as a Lexington-Concord revolution, but you know he's really dreaming of Fort Sumter.

And these Americans have guns and want to budget more locally to train the local lunatics against the federal government.

This will not end well.

(h/t Philosoraptor)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shaking the Etch-A-Sketch

Paul RAyn (R-fudge the numbers) gives Mitt Rmoney (R-fudge everything) enough cover from teabagger wrath that he can once again claim parentage of Romneycare and bring it from exile back into the big house.

ROMNEY: Well, absolutely. I am very proud of what we did, and the fact that we helped women and men and children in our state… And then with regard to contraceptives, of course Republicans, myself in particular, recognize that women have a right to use contraceptives. There is absolutely no validity whatsoever to the Obama effort to try and bring that up.
Unbelievably cynical!

Suddenly, Rmoney will be taking all sorts of reasonable-sounding positions. Mitt is completely insincere, and the truth is unimportant to him. He says whatever he thinks he needs to say, regardless of what he's said before. He's the most consistent liar I've ever watched in politics, even worse than Richard Nixon.

Counting on overwhelming us with propaganda

The Republicans can't win without lying. They know they have to lie early and often to make their points stick with the advertising-addled late deciders.

I'm sure we're all eager for the tsunami of bullshit that's coming our way in the next few months.

Who's knocking it down?

Click image for full Mike Thompson/Detroit Free Press cartoon.

More Teapublican ignoramuses

You don't have to look far:

Take a look around key committees of the House and you’ll find a governing body stocked with crackpots whose views on major issues are as removed from reality as Missouri’s Representative Todd Akin’s take on the sperm-killing powers of a woman who’s been raped.
The GOP has embraced stupidity in order to lower taxes for the very wealthy. That's why Mitt Rmoney and Paul Ryan are perfect nominees.

Republican bullshit or your lyin' science?

Congresspeople appointed to the Science and Technology committee don't actually need to understand or rely on science:

In looking for examples of scientifically unsupportable statements by members of the House science committee, every single anecdote involved statements by Republicans.
The goal of Teapublicans is to repeal the Enlightenment.

OK Corral

Even trained police officers couldn't bring down a single shooter in a populated setting without hitting nine bystanders:

The volley of gunfire felled Johnson in just a few seconds and left nine other people bleeding on the sidewalk.
Yet the NRA's so-called solution is armed amateurs meting out hot lead wherever they feel a threat. This idea is unbelievably stupid.

I shudder to imagine a citizen's intervention by the guy next to me at the handgun range last week, belching out bullets by the clip with his .45. He couldn't hit a zombie poster with a tight group at 10 feet.

(Note to those who can't read without assuming things I haven't said: I'm not saying this was a bad shoot.)

Update: Turns out Atrios was waaay ahead of me in shooting this particular fish in a barrel.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What Republicans want

Disaster for America...

American Taliban

Todd Akin (R-vagina dentata) should have stuck his foot - or something - in his mouth. Instead:

[W]hat I said was, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” But what I meant to say was, “I am a worthless, moronic sack of shit and an utterly irredeemable human being who needs to shut up and go away forever.”
Well, the first quote is true.

Then, Akin's excuse machine said he misspoke. Ha. Misspeaking is saying "black" when you mean "blah" or something like that. Or not.

Republicans think women get what they deserve.

Teapublicans have to lie

The truth would kill their chance of election:

[I]f we add up Mr. Ryan’s specific proposals, we have $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, partially offset by around $1.7 trillion in spending cuts — with the tax cuts, surprise, disproportionately benefiting the top 1 percent, while the spending cuts would primarily come at the expense of low-income families. Over all, the effect would be to increase the deficit by around two and a half trillion dollars.

Yet Mr. Ryan claims to be a deficit hawk.
Once they've increased the deficit yet again (see the maladministration of Duhbya and Darth), they'll be back for yet another round of budget-busting tax cuts for the very, very wealthy.  And the wingnut morons who vote Republican while living in the shrinking middle class will be fooled again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Another lie

I've been too busy canvassing for Elizabeth Warren to post anything, but...

Here's a backgrounder on Warren that I had a moment to read today.

Mixon, the Houston professor, who often had lunch with Warren and became an early mentor, recalled how Warren made an impassioned speech not long after she was hired about her belief in the “middle-class values” of hard work and honesty.
The wingnuts and other fans of Scott-free Brown (R-McDreamy) will miss that paragraph. After all, it shows Warren as authentic, and they can't get that into their addle-pated thoughts.

I'm looking for them to call her a liar because she so obviously once was brunette and now is blonde.

Although that does make Native American ancestry more credible in their superficial view of the world...

Maybe they'll decide she's vain. Never mind she's up against pretty boy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A vile and disgraceful act

A man who can brutally suffocate his own daughter has an alien idea of fatherhood than I have. There is evil in every culture. In fact, the evil of treating females as chattel has only recently been extirpated from our social norms - and not entirely from our society.

There is no such thing as an honor killing. Murder of those whom you owe love is an oxymoron, evidence of sociopathy in a social norm.

Ray Flynn's second worst endorsement

Ray Flynn thinks Scott Brown (R-whatever Wall St. wants) is a "regular guy." He also thought that pederast-enabling Cardinal Bernard Law should stay in charge of the Boston Archdiocese.

So... Consider the source.

Laughing at Pakistanis

... when we should be laughing at ourselves.

A Pakistani man has "invented" a way of bullshit-olyzing water into hydrogen and oxygen. Is this a sequel to "The Saint"? (Much as I like Elisabeth Shue, even in this movie, her performance as a scientist was completely free of the slightest credibility.)

As in America, there are qualified Pakistani experts who've spoken out against anti-scientific fraud:

It shows “how far Pakistan has fallen into the pit of ignorance and self-delusion,” wrote Pervez Hoodbhoy, an outspoken physics professor, in The Express Tribune, a national English-language daily. He added: “Our leaders are lost in the dark, fumbling desperately for a miracle; our media is chasing spectacle, not truth; and our great scientists care more about being important than about evidence.”
Hoodbhoy has had about as much impact as scientists in America when they share their knowledge of evolution, global warming, health, economics, etc. - that is, very little.

Remember, we live in an age when people take literally* the metaphorical aphorism that perception is reality. When American conservatives have built an entire media apparatus intended to provide the resolutely ignorant with excuses to remain ill-informed. When one entire major political party is devoted to lying in order to cover up the plain fact that all it really cares about is the continued establishment of oligarchy.

The pit of ignorance and self-delusion. We Americans are right there with the Pakistanis. Sadly for all of us.

* So sue me for anachronism, but I'm using the literal meaning of literally, not the currently dominant debased meaning that is its exact opposite.

Truth about biblical marriage

Heterosexual monogamy? Only one of many other possibilities from the bible, all of which treated women as property.