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Tony Blair is testifying to the British government about the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal. He had some very nice things to say about the man to whose daughter he serves as Godfather: “He is not actually a sort of identikit rightwing person … you know, he has bits of him that are very anti-establishment; meritocratic, I would say.” Chahhhhhhming. I suppose they hack private cell-phones in a proactive way that’s outside the box in an outrageous new paradigm and totally in your face. Well, maybe not the last one. More like totally sneaky in a matter befitting a major felony.
Well but so it wasn’t a total loss. A protestor somehow made it up to the testifying area and after a quick “Excuse me” started calling Blair a war criminal and accused him of being paid off by JP Morgan to let them fuck with the Iraqi bank.
Other protestors threw eggs at his Rolls when he left. I’m a big believer in this stuff. Part of the reason these assdicks get away with the heinous shit they do is that there’s not enough push-back against the construction of them as serious, thoughtful, considerate, decent people. The more folks that go “huh, I wonder what that was about”, and the more that see breaches of decorum like chicken embryos sliding down their 100,000 pounds sterling cars, the harder it is to portray war criminals as thoughtful statesmen.
Of course there are tactics which have evolved to fight the above. One of which is centrist media portrayals of the incidents which treat the protestors as a common and inevitable feature of the landscape that is nothing anyone has to think about.
The Guardian, for some fucked-up reason, portrayed the protestor as an example of the “placard-wielding critics” that follow Blair around “like little black rainclouds”, though noting that Blair had the kind of tan you can get “when you can source expensive sun year-round.” Blair “barely flinched”, “waited with his chin in his hand,” “another day, another call for extradition to the Hague.” Ha ha people who care about war crimes are funny and come with the territory of being a major politician who must commit war crimes as a matter of course nothing to see here.
The Guardian also, of course, said Blair attempted to “set the record straight”, quoting him as saying, “Um, can I just say, um, actually, on the record, what he said … is completely and totally untrue …” Interesting that they left out caveats Blair said, which is that “what he said about Iraq and JP Morgan is completely and totally untrue. I’ve never had a discussion with them about that.”
Hmm. I don’t think I could use that as a fulcrum for a perjury charge. But if I were detective Lenny Briscoe I would give my partner a wry look.
via Crooks and Liars.
So here are some limpdick phrases from politicians for Memorial Day. “We give thanks for those who sacrificed everything so that we could be free. And we commit ourselves to upholding the ideals for which so many patriots have fought and died.””It is their sacrifice that has kept America strong.” “No tribute to these sacrifices is more enduring than a grateful nation determined to live out the promise of liberty.” The identity or party of the speaker doesn’t matter, because all politicians say essentially the same thing about this holiday: the troops in the abstract are the best people ever, and deserve our support and respect, and we should live our lives in accordance with the ideals they fight for. If you want more you can find it at the Huffle Puff.
Well, most politicians stick to that script, anyway. Joe Biden, Rhetorical Anarchist, does not. But sometimes that produces some absolutely fascinating political rhetoric and almost sublime moments of human empathy. Go ahead and watch all twenty minutes if you have the time, it’s that good, from beginning to end.
Yeah it meanders towards the end, but damn. That’s perhaps the most powerful expression of the commonly understood purpose of Memorial Day that I can imagine.
And yet . . . read this quick paragraph about an alternate proposal for Memorial Day celebrations centering around the civilian fighters of slavery and injustice from philosopher Mark Lance at New APPS. Read this open letter written by someone from and about (ewwww) <em>Montreal</em>:
Here is what I have not seen you [the official media] publish yet: stories about joy; about togetherness; about collaboration; about solidarity. You write about our anger, and yes, we are angry. We are angry at our government, at our police and at you. But none of you are succeeding in conveying what it feels like when you walk down the streets of Montreal right now, which is, for me at least, an overwhelming sense of joy and togetherness . . . [some anecdotes about people cooperating spontaneously to fight what they’re calling injustice] . . . This is what Quebec looks like right now. Every night is teargas and riot cops, but it is also joy, laughter, kindness, togetherness, and beautiful music. Our hearts are bursting. We are so proud of each other; of the spirit of Quebec and its people; of our ability to resist, and our ability to collaborate.
Why aren’t you writing about this? Does joy not sell as well as violence? Does collaboration not sell as well as confrontation? You can have your cynicism; our revolution is sincere.
This quick scene accompanies the letter and shows the environment the author is talking about.
Imma wax magniloquent, and you need to know you’re in for that before you read any more. So, as the hermaphrodite in the komono said, you now know what to expect if you look below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »
So we’re up to speed here, yes?
Cory Booker declared criticism of the industry where his campaign donors come from off-limits, released a youtube video where he doubled down on that declaration, and hit a few softballs that were walked up to a tee for him by asshole Rachel Maddow in an interview where he refused to address what he said re: declaring his campaign donors off-limits.
But the donors were mighty titans of the financial industry, so no serious media person gave a shit, of course. It’s all “process” and “tone” and “campaign positioning” and look a baby panda who convulsively sneezes in a funny way. None involved will ever be punished for polluting the public discourse, and we all die alone.
BUT. Centrists are unique among members of the class Insecta in that they run toward wherever the media is shining light at any particular time.
SO. It is time for that cherished ritual, a children’s treasury of lolCentrists which makes fun of all the asinine and terrible things centrists say whitewashing objectively awful comments by a centrist colleague.
There are a lot of them so they are off the main page. The last one is out of left field and is the funniest. The meat, as the samurai said to the courtesan, is below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »
So this gets very deep in the weeds of a completely diaphanous article that only got written because the NYT has to fill slots in their political coverage. But I think going through it serves a purpose by demonstrating just how much centrist pap is mixed into the foundation of political reporting, even when that reporting is very far away from anything anyone can call “important”. This centrist stuff isn’t just for the movers and the shakers. Everyone’s got to do it to prove they can be trusted. It’s like prison tattoos. Onward:
I get that unusual techniques in campaign ad production can be a legitimate news story.
But the story Jeremy W. Peters, Professional Political Reporter, filed with the NYT wasn’t about those things. It breathlessly reported that a new ad created a fictional story to highlight problems with the current administration. That it used actors to do so. That it spent some money to do so.
Independent of the ways in which the piece tries to conceal just the laziest fucking hackwork: what the fucking balls was going through Jeremy W. Peters head when he wrote this article? Why did he want to write what he wrote? To what purpose? There is absolutely nothing fucking remarkable or newsworthy about the ad he’s writing about. Production values have always kept pace with the rest of television. Actors have been used since motherfucking Eisenhower. The Reagan “Morning in America” ad that the application for a centrist card requires you to present physical evidence that it moved you to tears was a montage of images of a young man’s life from riding a bike as a kid to helping around the house as a teenager to getting married to growing old. Sounds kinda similar. Plus you’d think a piece of journalism that breathlessly reports a political ad is using a fictional story would at least mention the Obama “Julia” ad released a few weeks ago which does the same thing, but then you’d remember this was a piece which gestated in the nourishing fluid of centrism, and you would put such silly thoughts aside.
And there are lots of centrist tropes in here. And they all come, like the origami fetishist, after the fold. Read the rest of this entry »
So Cory Booker did on Meet The Press what politicians do on Sunday shows: distort the media to benefit his political donors.
Then he made a youtube response to criticism where he distorted what he said to benefit his political donors.
I mean this isn’t really the discovery of the Higgs Boson. This is what the media is for. But the smug self-righteousness of preening about money in politics and superPACs in the middle of DECLARING CRITICISM OF YOUR DONORS OFF-LIMITS just pisses me off. Plus there are some people who seem not to notice what is going on.
One of those people happens to have a national cable news show who interviewed Cory Booker the day after he did all this shit. Guess who it is! And guess which bodily function the interview resembles!
Maddow’s interview is here I ain’t embedding it because both times I loaded it there were commercials for a Fuck Public Education Company and Boeing. I’m not having that on my conscience.
Suffice to say the vast majority of the interview is “You’re now a political football on both sides” and “How do you feel about your role in the Obama campaign at this point” and all that bullshit. The one question which could possibly be construed to be in the public interest comes about 3/4s of the way through the interview and is “What would you say the limits are to criticism of the private equity investment industry.” Which isn’t exactly “Did you order the Code Red” but it’s not out of place in an interview which doesn’t actively try to mislead the public.
Of course, Booker responds to that question with the same line of bullshit he slung in his youtube response: he’s tired of “negative advertising” and “the money in politics” and “the flood of SuperPAC money” and “the negative campaigning that is turning Americans away from politics”. And of course Maddow follows it up with an unrelated question about how the Obama campaign is using him at this point.
Fuck Rachel Maddow. If you want to prance about as a serious journalist who gives a shit from a progressive perspective the absolute fucking minimum requirement for that is to point the fuck out when politicians are running interference for their political donors in the name of “objectivity” and “caring about the political process”. Especially when it’s on the platform of a Sunday morning show. And especially when the politician issues a response video that slings the same obfuscatory bullshit. And especially when you’re doing the first interview after all this shit drops.
And again this isn’t the biggest thing in the world but I’m tired of being intellectually insulted. Especially by someone who promises not to do that.
Norm Ornstein has been a curious media figure. He’s been ensconced at the heart of darkness, the American Enterprise Institute, for some time, and has been a regular fixture on the TV pundit circuit for as long as there’s been a TV pundit circuit. But for all that, he is usually fairy honest and straightforward. Fer instance, he’s been very plain and outspoken in the fact that the reason he’s on TV is that he can offer a pithy eight second soundbite on the issue of the day in a way that doesn’t challenge the story the media is trying to push.
Something got into his Special K because for the last year he’s been doing something different.
Last July he wrote in article in Foreign Policy called “Worst. Congress. Ever.” continuing the work he had published since 2006 documenting the institutional failures of the legislative branch. But in that article he named names. Unprecedented use of the filibuster, unfaithful negotiation, “Our first priority is defeating Barack Obama”, all that shit. The Republicans were to blame.
A month or two ago he and his writing/research partner, Thomas Mann, released a book about the institutional failures of Congress as they had twice in the past six years. Except this time it contained passages like “The Republican party is . . . an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition”.
Of course, whereas their earlier work got them toasted across the spectrum on Sundays, now they’ve gone on one NPR show and one PBS show to promote their book.
And now, via Balloon Juice, comes this article (in of all things, the Washington Post) in which various solutions to Republican intransigence are discarded and some advocated. Everything they say makes sense, and is intellectually honest, and what the fuck is it doing in Fred Hiatt’s house of lies is my question.
But. Norm Ornstein. You are trying to wipe off the shit you had been rolling around in for the majority of your career, and the stench and the stain of it will likely take the rest of your life to undo. Because I can not recommend this Doghouse Riley post enough.
When Reagan was fucking shit up beyond all recognition, the fuck were you? When you were a nationally-recognized pundit in the fucking Carter Administration, where was your documentation about the worming of the Nixonian dark arts into the length and breadth of the Republican party? When the President of the United States was attacked with the most powerful legal mechanism possible for the most bullshit reasons possible, why weren’t you writing about how extreme and dismissive the Republican party was?
It’s great that you’ve had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity, that you’re giving up the life of a say-nothing suit occupying a studio chair, and that in all likelihood you will now have to walk the earth like Kung Fu because the media-corporate complex isn’t going to be forthcoming with the pundit teat.
But you’ve got sins to atone for. And I wish you luck.
So Cory Booker released a follow-up video to his execreble Meet The Press appearance in which he refused to even acknowledge that Romney’s business practices involved taking over companies, liquidating labor and assets, finding buyers or declaring bankruptcy, and pocketing modest eight-figure consulting fees in the process. Said it made him “very uncomfortable” to talk about.
He released a follow-up video “after getting social media feedback” and . . . ugh just watch.
You can’t even use this to play Centrist Cliche bingo, because everyone would win.
“My political superiors have done a fantastic job”
“This negative campaigning hurts the process”
“I don’t like the SuperPACs that I am currently pandering to”
“My biggest concern is for the voices that are not being heard and voices not being shared”
“Let’s not bicker over small things, let us not denigrate each other or paint with a small brush, let us unite around ideas”
Some of that is typical politico pablum but is kinda jarring to hear IN A VIDEO APOLOGIZING FOR ACTING TOO MUCH LIKE A POLITICIAN.
But my favorite absolute best part is when he actually gets around to his Romney remarks 3/4s of the way into the video. “Romney’s not being completely honest about his business record, and I encourage examination and discussion of that record.”
So. He’s on a show where Romney’s record is being discussed. When Romney’s record is being discussed accurately and fairly he says “private equity in general is a bedrock financial institution and my wallet is on a centrist diet and gets queasy when we start criticizing this stuff.” Then he makes an apology video 5/6s of which is claiming to rise above partisan muck and saying “I encourage examination of Romney’s record.” None of which, I hope it is unnecessary to point out, contradicts or qualifies his earlier “open for business” statement to private equity firms he’s apologizing for.
Fuck Cory Booker.
We all know what Evan Bayh is. He was a preening centrist cock in the Senate and cashed out to suckle at the scummy teat of corporatism when he left. He also became a Fox News contributor, because if you’re already going to Hell, why not. Typical use of the Curb Your Enthusiasm Double-Transgression theory.
But Christ on a cracker he just does not give a vapor of a fuck. In the span of a few minutes on Fox News Sunday this morning he said the following:
“The stimulus shows there are no shovel-ready projects.”
“The stimulus worked because of the tax cuts, but there should have been more. We need more now.”
“That’s what Europe needs too, sure. Greece, Spain; tax cuts would stimulate the economic growth necessary to fix the problem they’re in.”
There’s a term for this, but it’s pretty nasty so it’s below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »
Via LGM and Steve Kornacki comes this sordid little episode from Meet The Press this morning. Cory Booker, an Obama campaign surrogate, refused to criticize Romney’s business record when given amble opportunity to do so.
And he used several tried-and-true centrist methods to do so. When talking about specific deals Romney made which resulted in lost jobs, failed companies and yet millions of dollars of Bain profit, Booker lays a jujitsu move and tries to make it appear like even discussing this stuff is an attack on the entire concept of private equity investment. He then fails to even take a position on whether private equity investment as it’s generally practiced can be criticized, saying that “they create a lot of jobs” and that when people start making these criticisms “I’m very uncomfortable.” Weasel words which no one pays attention to and cannot possibly come back to bite him should Savior Lord Jesus come down from the heavens and it becomes politically popular to reign in the financial system and private equity investment.
The people who are paying attention are noticing his refusal to attack Romney’s business record. Steve Kornacki thinks that he’s cultivating them as a funding stream for his potential 2014 Senate run. This blog wishes Booker godspeed on his quest to man the USS Centrist, and hopes he succeeds in his goal right before the ship crashes and drowns all hands.
Yet again, everything in the picture is in the article.
When reviewing Jonah Goldberg’s most recent effluvia (because of course Jonah fucking Myparentscoattailsaremadeofgoldberg needs to be reviewed in the Times) Joe Klein makes arguments that are not only more stupid than the ones he quotes Goldberg as making, but ones that are more socially pernicious. He uses cultural tropes that are more damaging than the ones he quotes his reviewed author making (again, this is Jonah Goldberg).
via Dean Baker
And as usual, everything in the picture is in Miller’s column. The last part is in there too, it’s just implied where the others are explicit.
If the fall of Americans Elect was the Centrist 9/11, these fucking pundits are the Military-Industrial Complex using it as an excuse to gain more money for themselves.
Imma list the institutions Ian Bremmer is a part of. He is founder and president of the Eurasia Group, a risk management and consulting firm with New York, DC and London offices as well as consulting and research contracts on every continent. Their role is to asses the risk of instability due to capital flows, domestic and international governmental policies, energy markets, etc. and provide a strategy for firms hoping to operate and thrive in an unstable environment.
He created an index to judge that type of risk as part of a joint venture w/ Citigroup in 2001.
Bremmer serves on the Board the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, was named as a ‘Young Global Leader’ of the World Economic Forum, and in 2010 was appointed Chair of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Geopolitical Risk. He fills similar roles in think tanks that work with private firms and public departments to identify market opportunities, and are called the EastWest Institute, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the World Policy Institute. Oh he’s also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, because of course he is.
Bremmer is listed as an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs on multiple bios at Amazon and his various firms and organizations, but he isn’t listed as a faculty member anywhere at Columbia itself, because he doesn’t teach classes or conduct research. But that’s more like a little tidbit complementing the main course above.
Now. If you were to create the absolute best economic environment for the personal economic and professional career interests of Ian Bremmer, I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school when I say it would be covered by dozens if not hundreds of overlapping bilateral trade agreements, feature large and unstable coalitions of public, private, and quasi-public institutions operating from regional to global levels, and operate within complex resource constraints whose legal titles are not only unsettled but are easily able to be unsettled if resolved.
Now. Bremmer has written a slew of books under the aegis of academic objectivity while brandishing his Stanford PhD. Just sober conclusions following from the established facts. What’s his new book about? Read the rest of this entry »
So actual big-deal news happened late-ish yesterday. An Obama-appointed district federal judge issued an injunction blocking at least some and maybe all of a specific provision of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. (The year is important because there are several different bills which were passed called the NDAA.)
The specific provision this stone-cold pimp judge blocked is about the rules surrounding detention: civilians, access to courts, indefinite length, all that shit. The injunction stops implementation of the provision because, the judge ruled, the practices violate aspects of the first and fifth amendment. So this stone-cold pimp judge just busted a nut on one of the lynchpins of the legal apparatus of the War on Terror, and one that is most likely to be extended and abused in the future. Who knows how it’ll turn out (nb this means it’ll turn out poorly) but it’s encouraging at least that district judges appointed by Obama are willing to do this.
I’m not even going to try to summarize the legal ins and outs this soon after the story broke (it’s not even on CNN yet, not even on the ticker-or-whatever-fuck thing, keep fucking that chicken CNN) but I’ve got a couple of links that should give a good base for understanding analysis in the near future.
Glenn Greenwald doesn’t preen as much as usual, which is nice aesthetically
Lawfare Blog has a few posts up and with more to come exploring the overall issues and the specific legal mechanisms the Judge invoked which make thinking through both the implications and the actual ruling itself a bit of a titch.
A good resource in general for quick-but-reasoned legal analysis is to search the Law Professor Blogs for what you’re interested in. The blog aggregator doesn’t have stuff on this yet, but it will.
If you want to check out a conservative legal take on the issue which won’t be just eye-meltingly stupid, the Volokh Conspiracy will probably have a couple posts which meet at least one of those criteria soon.
But, of course, what I really wanted to talk about was what the Centrist Response is likely to be.