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One-man human centipede Grover Norquist, author of the anti-tax pledge that Republicans all have to sign in order to eat at Congressional cafeterias, said a very funny thing on a CBS morning show yesterday.
Tsk tsk, how improper. Thank you for disapproving of that uncivil comment, CBS lady.
(Quick tangent: is it me or is Charlie Rose starting to look more and more like some kind of Death of News Anchors from the Discworld?)
And on some level, she should, because it’s silly. She could have done the equivalent of a 360 dunk by pointing out Fox News has been screaming about Obama promising socialism and to take all of the money from the rich, a campaign platform that is a bit more expansive than “I’m not Mitt Romney”, but we live in a fallen world.
On another level, though, it doesn’t matter. What Norquist is doing is just an extension of what Romney’s campaign was premised on: just lie your fucking head off all the time. And guess what? It works. The Romney campaign lied its fucking animatronic zombie-eyed heads off and the media slurrrrrrped it up. Of course they’re saying now that Romney was pushed too far to the right by a rabid Republican party, which not only contradicts the “Romney has successfully re-branded himself” smegma they were slinging a couple weeks ago but happens to not be true; Romney’s share of the popular vote was very close to what the basic measures of the economy predicted he would get.
It’s clear what the basic strategy is: say what’s most opportune at the moment, and rely on media coverage to fart out enough of a smokescreen (like the stinky and sad “fact check” saga that played out) so that in the end it doesn’t matter. Norquist’s “poopy head” is just extending this past the election; say Obama ran a dirty and hollow campaign enough times and in enough ways and the question of just who really ran a good or bad campaign will become a dense banal cloud that no one can see through.
There’s something else going on here too, though, and it’s just utterly devastating to the typical centrist view of how media and political discussions more generally operate. A view like Jon Stewart’s Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1: The Set-Up
– One consequence of inhaling the fetid gases arising out of the DC centrist swamp is the uncontrollable urge to express support for the “Grand Bargain”, a wide-ranging budget deal that would fiddle with tax rates and cut social spending programs in order to lower the long-term deficit. Here’s the mad cow pen at Kaplan Test Prep lowing at it’s necessity. A failure to come to a “Grand Bargain” was in part what led to the stalled negotiations to raise the debt ceiling in 2011.
– A result of the debt ceiling fever-dream was that spending cuts to programs awkward to cut (ie, the military and social spending whose rescission is most likely to cause blood to flow in the street) are to be enacted at the start of 2013. Ben Bernanke (hereafter: The Lorax) warned last February that the combination of those cuts and the expiration of the Frank Booth* Tax Cuts would create a “fiscal cliff”. His point in invoking the metaphor was to emphasize that we shouldn’t be enacting these austerity policies, because they would kill the economy. He said this forcefully. When the Treasury Secretary says something like “I think you also have to protect the recovery in the near term,” it’s measured policy speak for “you fucking twats, don’t cause another recession by cutting spending.”
* ‘cuz he fucked everything that moves, get it?
Part 2: The Sting
Everybody say it with me: THAT DON’T MAKE NO FUCKING SENSE.
The economy will be destroyed if we don’t avoid spending cuts and tax increases, but we need to enact spending cuts and tax increases right away in order to save the economy.
You can’t possibly believe that statement, and worse, you can’t manipulate it somehow to get it to make sense without running into another moat of centrist bullshit. It doesn’t make sense to consider both dismantling the “fiscal cliff” and reaching a “Grand Bargain” together, but ok, first we avoid catastrophe and then we phase in long-term deficit reduction over time, right? WRONG says Erskine Bowles in his best McLaughlin voice, doing so would “show markets we can’t put our house in order”, both have to be done nownownow. Why the prescription for saving the economy is the same as what we have to stop in order to avoid tanking it, or why interest rates in 2020 will give a shit whether a deal was hammered out in January or October of 2012, are left as exercises to the reader.
Well ok but at least then there will be deficit reduction, right, that’s the whole point of this exercise? WRONG says Peter Orszag, in his virile high-pitched voice, “the most promising approach may be to compromise on Social Security — even though it is not a significant driver of our long-term deficits.” The “fiscal cliff” needs to be used as an opportunity for a “Grand Bargain” of deficit reduction, even if there’s no deficit reduction.
Part 3: The Highest Form of Patriotism is to Punch Veterans in the Mouth
“Austerity will harm the economy, so we need to avoid it, but in the process of avoiding it we need to do it in order save the economy. And even if it won’t save the economy, we have to do it.” How much clearer could it possibly be that the centrist braying for dealing with the “fiscal cliff” and in the process instituting a “Grand Bargain” does not come from sober or reasoned economic analysis, and that looking for a through-line of logic from centrists in their incessant neighing for austerity is like trying to follow a single trail of slime in a slug orgy.
The purpose is not deficit reduction, or economic stability. It’s what it always is: the transfer of wealth and security from the public to the private, from the masses to the few, from the base to the top.
How these broken-down jackasses are able to whine so incessantly for their plutocratic nightmare while holding up as paragons of virtue and civic responsibility the very people that will be destroyed by their policies is beyond me. Two things are certain, this Veterans Day: David Gregory will blither staggeringly through his list of talking points to obscure the above analysis as much as possible, and he will praise veterans as the highest form of humanity yet attained, and I will vomit. Three things.
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 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.
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.
Ryan Lizza has an eye for detail. His massive reporting pieces on political figures in the New Yorker usually tell stories no-one else has. But the spry young pup can sling centrist bullshit further and longer than all but the most seasoned veterans. I don’t know why you’d want recent proof, but here you go:
The post, as the Scotsman said to the comely lass, grows below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »