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600 million years ago. In a fetid swamp of decay – the opaque water a slurry of rotten vegetation, air bulging with the upper bands of UV radiation, brown brown everything brown – a lungfish heaves itself up onto densely-packed shitmud. It can’t tell. Its senses cannot distinguish water from air, or light from dark.
Immediately the poison blanket of radiation falling from the sun starts to break its DNA. Enough slams into its cells that, in the few seconds before it collapses back to the stinking darkness of its sludge, the seeds of bulbous tumors are planted in every organ.
Everything bulges. Everything hurts. Suddenly it bumps into something in the blind muck. Maybe the diaphanous remains of a corpse. It robotically fucks whatever the thing is. The mindless twisting is weak and languid but still tears its cancer-ridden body down the length of its spine. The now inert, ragged, floating mass of carcinoma does not bob to the surface. The water is too thick for that.
The pre-fatal intercourse happened to have been with another (living) lungfish. And by a billion-to-one odds, the tangle of broken DNA in its malignant come twisted into place to produce offspring with the first photosensitive cells in vertebrates.
We are able to see because a tumorous shitfish blindly fucked itself to death in fowl brown filth.
There’s a silver lining to every situation, no matter how objectively disgusting.
Which brings us to Trump, and the media, and centrism. What are the silver linings, what are we able to see, now that it’s obvious to all what Republicans are as a party?
(skip down to The Prestige to get the summary answer)
They didn’t come from nowhere, these Trump supporters. They are Republicans. They were Republicans. Ten years ago, Republicans were people who, ten years later, would vote for Trump. (And let’s not forget the majority of the rest wanted Ted Cruz, who is more horrifying than Trump but, thankfully, butt-ugly as a shitfish.)
Here’s how the NY Times characterized the largest blocks of Republicans in 2005:
TRADITIONAL VALUES BLOC Primarily interested in the general decline of morals in society and the breakup of the family rather than abortion and gay marriage. Education is their top issue. VOTERS: Working and middle classes, suburban and exurban
ANTI-WASHINGTON BLOC The largest group. Dislikes regulation, government waste and pork-barrel politics; would move power to the states. VOTERS: Red-state voters who hate blue-state voters
BIBLICAL BLOC Religion drives politics. Allegiance is to causes, not to party unity. For this group, President Bush did not do enough to save Terri Schiavo. VOTERS: Conservative Christians
This was after 20 years of Rush Limbaugh, who was months away from “Barack the Magic Negro”. This was after the second-most-popular Republican reason for voting in 2004 was to “keep the faggots from gettin’ marital tax breaks and visitation privileges, as Jesus intended”. After torture became a plank of the Republican platform, after Katrina and the “shoot the
niggers looters yeahhh shoot ’em all good ‘n dead” rhetoric.
This was shortly before Bill O’Reilly busted a vein over immigration like he lost his favorite loofah, with Geraldo Rivera (one not widely known for being able to pick up subtle nuances of sociological trends) warning “You want your viewers to go door to door, ‘You’re an Illegal, I’m going to take you outside and do something to you.’ ”
To say nothing of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Jim DeMint, and the rest of the unending parade of lazy authoritarians in the Web 2.0 era.
I wouldn’t use “disliking pork barrel politics” as a descriptor for these people, myself.
So, Trump’s Silver Lining Lesson Number 1: Pay attention to what’s happening, because the media won’t do it for you. Clear as day, and in real time, it was obvious that the Republican party was becoming the incompetent clowning fascism Trump and Cruz are championing.
Why wasn’t this a prominent theme in the media?
And why didn’t you realize it?
Clara Jeffery is Editor-in-Chief of Mother Jones. Broadly pro-union, anti-incarceral state, anti-middle class wealth stagnation, and all the other things you’d expect out of a publication that does actual journalism. And yet, the above.
Meanwhile, Krugman can’t figure out why the media are “objectively pro-Trump”:
It’s not even false equivalence: compare the amount of attention given to the Clinton Foundation despite absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, and attention given to Trump Foundation, which engaged in more or less open bribery — but barely made a dent in news coverage.
[…] Brian Beutler argues that it’s about protecting the media’s own concerns, namely access. But I don’t think that works. It doesn’t explain why the Clinton emails were a never-ending story but the disappearance of millions of George W. Bush emails wasn’t […] [or] the revelation that Colin Powell did, indeed, offer HRC advice on how to have private email the way he did […]
And I don’t see how the huffing and puffing about the foundation — which “raised questions”, but where the media were completely unwilling to accept the answers they found — fits into this at all.
No, it’s something special about Clinton Rules. I don’t really understand it. But it has the feeling of a high school clique bullying a nerdy classmate because it’s the cool thing to do.
These are related.
Think of your workplace (you know, the place you’re sitting right now). The industry it’s in. There are all sorts of weird idiosyncratic ways of doing things, of seeing the business, that are essentially irrational, right? That were created out of an organic process which no single person or entity is directing? Maybe sales have to be conducted in a certain way. Or a concept has to be explained like this and not like that in order to avoid looking like a rube.
The equivalents in journalism:
- Boomers are right and the kids today are wrong
- Republicans are serious
- Anything bipartisan is good
These are all ubiquitous enough to be cliches. The editor-in-chief of a lefty magazine can be confidently illiterate when bashing the young’uns; Erik Erikson can go on CNN for years; I can offer $100 for a pejorative use of “bipartisan” confident that it can’t be claimed. (Unless, of course, it’s pork-barrel spending, which is an example of why “Republicans are serious” for “opposing” it.)
For other examples, see Charlie Pierce, now and always.
The media’s treatment of Trump isn’t anything more than “Republicans are serious”. Trump is a Republican. He’s serious.
Like other Republicans before him, he’s serious when he says he has a “secret plan” to end the war; when he says tax cut incontinence will create a bazillion jobs; when he advocates immigration policy from 1933 Weimar Germany.
Hell, even Trump’s obvious and clumsy grifts have a rich history within his party.
Trump’s Silver Lining Lesson Number 2: Political journalism has its own dynamics that have nothing to do with the truth.
It’s clear as day now that the media doesn’t cover Trump objectively, but slots him into their typical political coverage: that is to say, it will treat any objectively insane policy proposal of his in a sober and serious manner.
But . . . why?
And why didn’t you notice it before?
The Centrist Ideology
“I’m not an ideologue.” “Both sides go too far.” “I don’t slavishly follow a party, I make up my own mind.” “I’m a moderate.” “I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.” “I just care about what works.”
These are the siren calls of centrism, the ideology that marinates political coverage. The truth lies somewhere in the middle of the extremes of left and right, and partisan cheerleading for unbendable ideas blinds people from seeing what needs to be done. What could be more reasonable, more obvious, than that?
What’s missing is that the “extremes of left and right” do not exist out there in the world. They have to be built rhetorically. Picking a middle from the extremes involves picking extremes. What is the opposite of $4 trillion of tax cuts: infrastructure spending, or preventing the Federal Reserve from crushing wage increases?
Besides extending a spatial metaphor into uselessness, picking a middle from the extremes requires two extremes. If one set of ideas is generally plausible and sane, and the other set the equivalent of slapping a hornets nest with your hand to kill all the stingy things inside, there’s no need to bother with the second set, is there.
Finally, locating a political philosophy “in the middle” requires a large set of assumptions. A small sample:
- that political institutions are taken for granted the way they are
- that the norms of political behavior are taken for granted
- that the political economy framework within which policy is enacted is taken for granted
- that the goals of the policies “in the middle” have already been determined
Centrism is thus inherently an ideology of the status quo; it is inherently Establishment.
That the media should adopt centrism as their implicit frame for political coverage could be due to a lot of reasons: not wishing to upset access with their sources; subconsciously defaulting to the ideas that benefit the class and social strata most journalists come from; adapting to the political framework set out by their corporate owners.
But whatever the reason, notice that the centrist framing of political coverage drives the three trends discussed above.
- Boomers are the Establishment, run the institutions, and are tremendously invested in the status quo
- Republicans need to be Serious so that there can be “two sides” to be “in the middle” of
- Bipartisanship is “meeting in the middle”; in other words, of the status-quo institutions continuing to run as they have been run
Trump’s Silver Lining Lesson Number 3: The media’s coverage of Trump is not due to Trump, but due to the way they cover political events. The centrist ideology which frames political coverage necessitates covering Trump in a certain way. It necessitates covering Republicans a certain way. It necessitates covering issues a certain way.
And that’s why it took Trump waving his tiny hands around for you to notice how the media covers politics with a centrist frame: it took someone so obviously unfit and hateful, so cartoonish, so small-handed to demonstrate the framework the media uses to cover politics.
Here, then, in three sentences, is the point:
The media’s centrist framing of political coverage over the past thirty years helped create the conditions for Donald Jay Trump. Pay attention to that centrist framing. It’s insane and brings evil into the world.
That’s the reason for this blog.
This Vox article about SoulCycle smells really fishy. It smells an awful awful lot like sponsored content.
For those interested in the prosecution’s case, it’s below.
The money shot first: it’s tough out there for writers and new-age media companies, and who really gives a shit about paid content if it’s clearly labeled.
This isn’t labeled.
Does Vox do this regularly? That’s part of the problem, that you have to know. Bah.
Some background before Jack McCoy starts his presentation: SoulCycle (in case you’ve never heard of a Bugaboo stroller) is a stationary bike exercise class that has a schmear of new-age sentimentality over it that apparently justifies its $30 / session price (for the lowest tier).
Take it away, Jack.
Exhibit A: Personal testimonial frame and rhetoric that is right out of “How to Write a 3am Infomercial for Dummies”
– My name is Alex, and I’m addicted to SoulCycle.
– I don’t have all the answers as to why some people are obsessed with SoulCycle [. . .] But perhaps I can shed some light on why the company is as successful as it is
– By the end of every class, I’ve left a small puddle of glistening sweat beneath my bike and my shirt is soaked through.
– It was awkward, and one-on-one training is something I have never tried again.
– It leaves me sweatier and more accomplished than any cardio I would normally do on my own.
– Anyone who tells you that vanity and the desire to look fit are not part of the reason they do SoulCycle is lying. And from a purely vain standpoint, I’m really happy with my results. But I’ve also noticed other positive effects. My endurance has increased, my resting heart rate is down, I sleep better, and when I go to the “regular” gym, I’m stronger when it comes to exercises like squats and leg presses.
I’m running out of pixels, but there’s a lot more. All of it positive, all of it reading like an F-list movie reviewer trying to get on a poster of Adam Sandler’s new movie. “I laughed, i cried, I cashed the check the producers sent me.”
Exhibit B: Really really slanted rhetorical methods
The first two links are to NYMag articles; the third is to a SoulCycle ad. A child can see that’s wrong, right?
One of the worst fitness experiences I’ve ever had is taking a “free” training session from a personal instructor at my gym.
Does the context justify the quotes around the “free”? Reader, it does not. The only reason to put them there is to denigrate the entire silly notion of taking personalized exercise instruction that isn’t from SoulCycle.
It likely won’t be long before you find an instructor whom you mesh with — whether it’s due to their teaching style, the way they push their students, their inspirational attitude, or their feelings on Rihanna’s music.
What the fahk dude Jesus you’re not even trying to hide it.
But the head shot might be the consistent denigration of the competition. Besides the above about the “training” “session” “at” “the” “gym”:
– At other places, like SoulCycle competitor Flywheel, there isn’t as much of a relationship between the music and your actions. You’re often just told to pedal fast or slow.
– And while many fitness studios and boutique gyms are forging deals with services like ClassPass (a sort of fitness class broker) to fill their empty slots, SoulCycle’s classes are as popular as ever.
No wait this is the head shot:
When people make fun of SoulCycle (I’ve made fun of it in the past), their derision is never about the actual workout.
Exhibit C: SoulCycle is so great. You exercise, on a bike!
– There are “hills” — intervals where you crank up the resistance and pedal against it — where it feels like you’re moving your legs through thick mud. There are fast sprints that will make you gulp oxygen and feel like your lungs are leaking.
– “Maybe tomorrow I can put on more resistance,” I’ve thought to myself. This is, of course, a lot easier said than done.
– Though all participants reserve a bike (signups open every Monday at noon) and choose where they sit, the rows tend to sort themselves. The newbies are usually in the back and off to the left and right. The overachievers tend to gravitate closer to the center and the front.
– Sessions are divided into sprints, hills, jogs (a medium-paced interval), and “jumps” (where you hold yourself up out of the saddle for two, four, or even eight beats at a time) — intervals that require different paces, changing beats, and varying levels of effort (sprints require bursts of energy, whereas hills require more endurance). The music acts as a skeleton plan for riders, keeping them together.
Why do this “golly there are varying resistances to this velocipede machine” routine if you’re not trying to sell the experience?
Exhibit D: There’s a big press push from SoulCycle now as they’re expanding
Someone from Style lost their SoulCycle virginity recently. AdWeek likes SoulCycle’s offices. CNBC had on SoulCycle’s CEO to talk some squawk. Something called Bustle posted a listicle. Months after her show with a SoulCycle plot point ends, Ellie Kemper’s SoulCycle love is in Shape Magazine.
And Alex Abad-Santos just chooses now to effuse about his SoulCycle love?
SoulCycle totally paid for this.
Oh, General John Allen’s emails to Jill Kelley were “flirtatious“, were they? That doesn’t do anything for me. For fuck’s sake, The Wall Street Journal is talking about the shirtless photos an FBI agent sent Kelley. The old stuff that used to grab me just isn’t provoking the same response. I’m becoming desensitized to the news.
Wait, the Allen/Kelley emails “were like phone sex“? Mmm, that’s more like it.
Since the more things change the more things stay the same
I can feel pretty confident predicting at least one of these stories will be published at some point:
NSA intercepts capture “passionate moaning” during Bolton, Power phone calls
NYTimes, 5/14/14 – Two more high-powered Washington foreign specialists have been caught up in the NSA surveillance scandal. Phone calls captured by the agency between UN Ambassador Samantha Power and John Bolton, who held Power’s position in the second Bush administration, depict the two having multiple sessions of phone sex, some lasting for hours. A highly-placed official in the NSA described the calls’ runtime as consisting mostly of “passionate moaning”. When the energy seemed to be lagging, Powers would hurl militaristic insults at Bolton, such as,”You blood-soaked walrus, you don’t care who you hurt, do you”; Bolton would often respond in kind, declaring, “You want to call it “responsibility to protect” but deep down you know you love indiscriminate killing as much as I do you crazy-eyed bitch.” At which point, the official said, the moaning would resume at greater pitch and volume.
President Rubio nearly breaks bed giving it to First Lady first night in White House
POLITICO, 1/21/16 – President Rubio and First Lady Jeanette Rubio were boning so hard last night after the Inaugural Ball that the king bed in the Presidential Bedroom had to be structurally re-enforced, someone close to the incident said. No word on what positions were used that damaged the frame. The Drudge Report has confirmed that the new nickname for Jeanette Rubio among the President’s staff is “The Fist Lady”. A spokesman for the administration declined to comment.
Paul Ryan’s Prodigious Ejaculation Ability Spells Doom for Democrats
Matt Stoller, Washington Daily TimeWeek Beast Post AOL Slim Jim, 9/16/36 – Americans value a man’s man, someone who can get things done outdoors, in the office, around the house . . . and especially in bed. Cory Booker, years ago, used to have that kind of can-do gung-ho spirit, but running a lackluster Presidential campaign has seemed to sap his strength. The sex tape he unveiled during the Democratic convention did nothing to dispel the impression of him that is solidifying among the electorate: his stroke was all over the place, he featured barely any use of the tongue, and the money shot consisted of a few pennies. He looked like he didn’t want to be there. In a race that is a referendum on the future of the refugee problem, a solution to which will require Americans rallying behind the virility of their leader, Booker’s anemic performance is a huge liability.
This couldn’t be in greater contrast to the one Paul Ryan premiered last week. It wasn’t just the three percent body fat and authoritative, almost manipulative commands – it was the masterful way he teased his partner, lying to her every time he seemed to promise a release into orgasm. For a voting population that is increasingly frightened and looking for someone to believe in, Ryan gave them the type of strong and inspiring sex tape that many will respond to.
George Bush V and Rodham Clinton engagement orgy goes awry
McLean Mimeograph, 4/17/95 – The engagement orgy of George Bush V and Rodham Clinton last night in Shielded Dome 7 featured plenty of thrills, chills and come – at least until it was broken up by security. Tevye Emanuel’s Community Response Team ushered orgy-goers into security sleds when a breach in the Southwestern gate resulted in a flood of contaminants entering the city. They were soon beaten back beyond the perimeter, and the janitorial staff have already nearly cleaned up the scraps of leathery sunscarred flesh that had fallen off during the incident. While they were being evacuated, some of the guests who had been interrupted at the height of their activities availed themselves of the CRT’s truncheons and whips.
While there were no casualties or injuries, a minor scandal looks to be brewing. One contaminant managed to board a security sled in the confusion and Laurie Craig, whose pussy was screaming from an erotic asphyxiation session that had been interrupted, allowed the contaminant to choke her to orgasm while others aboard her sled looked on in shock. As soon as a member of the CRT was notified of the situation, the contaminant was exercised immediately. Craig’s fate is much more uncertain, and though no-one expects her to resign from the cotillion committee, her tenure there is certain to be much rockier than it was yesterday.
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.
I won’t be able to top Jon Schwarz: “I guess when you spend all day at work blowing up weddings, it’s hard to know when to stop.” Obviously. But I can try.
Petraeus must have been incredibly conflicted. The CIA is “the tip of the spear”, but he’s the architect of the Surge.
Conservatives are outraged, and trying to create a scandal by framing this as an excuse to avoid testifying about the Libyan consulate attack. The name of the scandal? Bang-ghazi.
Drone surveillance or it didn’t happen.
O christ what is this, fucking Andrea Mitchell. No, Petraeus didn’t do that, too, he’s not an objectivist so he doesn’t hate himself enough to stoop that low. But, in the more general sense: fucking Andrea Mitchell.
Call it power-worship, call it the emotional response of an authoritarian when her hierarchy wobbles a bit, call it the pain of one Villager seeing another get cut down (which just is not supposed to happen), call it knowing Petraeus socially on a personal level, but that kind of simpering response is exactly the problem with the centrist media. Petraeus is part of the club so when he fails, even if its entirely his own doing, it’s a “tragedy”. Christ on a crutch. It’s not just that only bad things involving the people Mitchell represents with stuffed animals at her imaginary tea parties with the pink pot and cups generate an emotional response. It’s the militaristic deep-throating. All the people he’s killed devising and enacting military strategies that increase the destruction of entire societies to make wars more politically palatable, well, a “life of valor” is measured by such deaths, and they certainly do not cause tears to spring to the eyes, and words to catch in the throat, of Andrea Mitchell. That’s why she’s there. That and because she lets Alan Greenspan do the same things to her with a clarinet that he did to Ayn Rand. With the same clarinet, too. And you can’t wash those things, not really.
And with that, more jokes:
Proposed names of the Petraeus biography rejected in favor of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus
Humping It: The Rise of General David Petraeus, In and Out of the Military
The Hard Thrust: How General David Petraeus Bucks Convention
A Commitment to Honor: General David Petraeus and Restoring Honesty to Military Strategy
David Does Dawlatābād
Petraeus is extremely competitive and his career aspirations know no bounds. How fucking attracted must he have been to Broadwell to put all that at risk? There must have been some *very* dark psycho-sexual stuff going on between them, like Broadwell putting on brown body paint and Petraeus fucking her using a robotic dildo he controls from three thousand miles away.
Petraeus’ pet names for his and Broadwell’s genitalia are “the military-industrial complex” and “America”, respectively.
It’s hard to know how many times Broadwell came, because Petraeus counted every time she moaned as an orgasm. Amnesty International is attempting to compile a complete list of Petraeus’ ejactulations, although there are obstacles to collecting data.
Those aren’t as funny though as these actual lines Broadwell wrote in the biography:
I took full advantage of [Petraeus’] open-door policy
Petraeus progressively increased the pace until the talk turned to heavy breathing
But it just starts to get weird with this NYTimes Ethicist column from July in which Chuck Klosterman gives advice to someone whose letter begins “My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.)” Probably a coincidence, but still . . . I agree with this Slate guy (damn you, Petraeus, how many lives must you ruin) that in any event Klosterman says some insightful stuff about the letter-writer probably having ulterior motives and wants some specific people to read about the scenario and deduce what’s going on. He better hope it’s just a coincidence, otherwise he’ll be getting a one-way flight to Diego Garcia where someone will enact a clear, hold and build strategy on his rectum.
And my stars, this Daily Show interview of Broadwell from January. She talks about her husband, and . . . it is too obscene, knowing what we know now, I cannot embed or discuss it, there are limits.
In all seriousness the announcement of the affair and the resignation (on a Friday, no less) are intended to encourage jokes like this and a tittering focus on naughty bits that obscure the enormous institutional faults that took place, and the extremely messy issues that crop up when the federal domestic criminal investigation branch is snooping on the foreign intelligence service. Try to focus on the important stuff. And keep Holly Petraeus in mind, David’s wife, not only for the personal cost she’s paying for someone else’s mistake but because she’s has been doing yeoman’s work at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It might turn out that she’s the vector for the largest damage to American political institutions that this incident causes, and there’s no strategy David should be able to implement that can win back our hearts and minds after that kind of collateral damage.
Matt Bai is living proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. His parents figured out how to bone and unleashed dangerous centrist spawn on the world nine months later.
In truth, though, Mr. Clinton and Ms. Warren speak to different audiences and reflect inescapably divergent perspectives on how to confront the epic challenges of globalization and inequality.
Mr. Clinton is the president who made the sustained case to Democrats that they had to be pro-growth and pro-Wall Street, not just to get elected, but also to build a more modern economy. He was the one, as spokesman for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, who told Democrats again and again that they couldn’t succeed as a party that loved jobs but disdained the businesses that create them. Mr. Clinton transformed welfare, balanced the budget and declared an end to the liberal era of government, which is why a lot of conservative-leaning independent voters would re-elect him if they could.
As a Harvard law professor during the Bush years, Ms. Warren, who is now a candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, came to represent a rebuke of such Clintonian expedience. Her indictment against the excesses of Wall Street and the abdication of centrist Democrats became popular among a new generation of old-style economic populists (most notably John Edwards and then Mr. Obama), who often cited Ms. Warren’s arguments in making the case that the party had to reverse course from the Clinton years and rein in a business community that was prospering at the expense of the middle class.
HOLY BALLS ARE THESE NOT CONTRADICTORY. Bill Clinton is not for a fucking financial collapse. Elizabeth Warren is not for incontinent irresponsible spending. Clinton is not in favor of letting credit card companies fuck over their customers. Warren is not for cutting off business from financing and capital.
THESE APPROACHES ARE, IN FACT, COMPLEMENTARY. Without strong oversight and strict rules, the financial system just doesn’t fucking work, does it. And if the ability of the financial system to provide capital to businesses is shunted, the economy doesn’t fucking work, does it. But I’m sure Clinton wants the former outcome and Warren wants the latter.
THESE APPROACHES ARE COMPLEMENTARY BECAUSE THEY ARE RESPONDING TO DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS, LIKE ADULTS. Would Warren have opposed balancing the budget and paying down debt in the late nineties? Is Clinton opposed to expanding food stamps and unemployment insurance right now? Is there anything contradictory in any of this?
THERE’S A GHOST OF A POINT HERE, BUT BAI FUCKS IT UP BY TRYING TO BE DAVID BROOKS AND INFANTILIZING IT. And it’s not one he spends a full clause on. “Mr. Clinton is the president who made the sustained case to Democrats that they had to be pro-growth and pro-Wall Street, not just to get elected,” end quote. Hmm that’s an interesting point maybe the Democrats have to take finance cash in order to win what are the causes of this situation what are the consequences Mr. Bai? Mr. Bai? Why are you putting that brightly colored plastic block in your mouth? Why won’t you tell me about the powerful structural factors that determine the political phenomenon you’re talking about? Why are you talking this bullshit about “competing worldviews” that you know is so abstract it isn’t even a gross oversimplification?
BAI’S INFANTILIZATION RESTS ON A CENTRIST POLITICAL AGENDA THAT IS NEVER EXPLORED IN THE PIECE ITSELF.
A. Making up a fight among Clinton and Warren makes it seem like “don’t fix the financial sector” is a viable political position within the Democratic Party, which puffs it up as a mainstream opinion instead of its actual existence as a whispy ghost on the fringes of acceptability.
B. By making up a huge fissure in the Democratic Party, it allows an implicit comparison to the Republicans, whose central story since Palin has been its war between moderates and looney tunes. Both Sides Do It! Partisan politics is tumultuous and eventful and exciting! The fact that Bai can’t find actual disagreements to make his point, the fact that he has to make shit up to make the point that politics is working out large disagreements with huge stakes, means that he’s a . . . big poopy head.
C. The mask slips at the very end and Bai starts to reveal his political preferences. In the guise of objective analysis, of course. “Is Mr. Obama, at bottom, the Clintonian candidate who tried to hammer out a “grand bargain” on the budget with Republicans, or is he the more traditional Democrat who skewers Wall Street bankers as “fat cats” and pretends he can fix inequality with gimmicks like “the Buffett rule?” ” The use of pejorative terms for one side of that “objective” question indicates where Bai stands, of course, but it goes even deeper. By ridiculing the perfectly-sensible-on-both-policy-and-moral-grounds Buffett rule for not single-handedly fixing income inequality, he denigrates the very idea of both the sensible rule and treating income inequality as a complex problem which will need a toolkit to take apart instead of a hammer. In other words, he’s denigrating the idea of being an adult about solving important problems.
How Bai has avoided SIDS this long I have no idea.
Of all the cheap little tropes these centrists use to obscure their moral and intellectual vapidity the absolute fucking worst (well maybe a tie with the self-absorbed circle-jerk that is the concern about “tone” and “civility”) is humor. Not quite humor, I think we can all agree; maybe parody. Hell it’s not even that. It’s just mean-spirited empty sarcasm. Tina Fey Mean Girls style. Always.
And lo how the examples stack up when reality presents them with a situation that no amount of quibbling and hair-splitting can keep them from claiming that “both sides do it” and to plead for “civility”.
Like now. For instance, dafuq is Brooks doing in this column? It’s a series of exaggerations of Romney’s biography, hitting the main points of Romney’s narrative: his childhood, teenage boarding school years, the dog on the car, the Olympics, the governorship. Bain is given short shrift, comparatively. The details are so outlandish (Mitt converted to being Amish but left after he found out about the ban on hair cream, nyuk nyuk nyuk) that such venerable writers as Susan and Doug mistook it at first as satire about Romney, or didn’t understand the fuck it was trying to do. Letters to the editor also share that interpretation.
You need eyes attuned to the absolute black pitch of centrist thought to be able to parse what’s going on here.
Because Brooks thinks he’s making fun of the rest of the media and Democrats.
He’s saying, “Oh my goodness gosh, the insane things people are saying about Romney. Look at how insane they are. This insane!” But take two seconds to think about it. What is the actual content of the critique he is satirizing? “Romney doesn’t care about people who have little or no wealth. He doesn’t know how they live, he doesn’t care, and he doesn’t care if they get hurt. His immense family wealth bought him the ability to lead a different life than most anyone else, and to not care about what happens to most anyone else.”
Is there any doubt this is the case? At all? How many different senses do you need to lose before you start doubting those propositions? His preferred policies are an economic holocaust for people without stocks, capital or car garages. In every single instance they favor increasing the wealth of the wealthy instead of the economic, health, environmental, or any other concerns of any other group.
Brooks could be using his column to be shedding light on under-reported issues, or to rally support to address specific issues of injustice, or to brag about his shitty kids. Anything would be better than this too-confused-to-even-call-it “satire” whose targets are complaints that a nominee for president wants to dick over everyone without money.
So you see the basic format: there is a proposition or a practice that is as clearly against the sensibilities of the centrist pundit as it is true, which puts the centrist pundit in a quandary. What to do, what to do. Incoherent sarcasm is the answer. Especially when it’s being applied in defense of other centrist pundits.
Glenn Kessler, as discussed, is a gaping scumbag asshole who needs to be fired for incompetence at discussing politics in a national forum. Clive Crook disagrees with that statement, but cannot provide any reasons for disagreement, so he lapses into ohp you guessed it:
Of course I could criticize Kessler without calling him the filthy liar that he is. You know, exercise a little “restraint”. On the one hand, on the other hand, all that crap. But leading scholars have taught us that in politics things aren’t complicated, and when somebody builds a career on a lie, we need to say so . . .
Some of you may find that distinction hard to grasp. It’s Two Spocks difficult. Paul Krugman helped me see that people are divided into three groups: the ones who know I’m right (I call these “excellent”), fools and knaves. Possibly, you’re a fool, so let me spell it out for you. When a fact is wrong, it’s not some number of Pinocchios, it’s just wrong . . .
Angry? You bet I’m angry. I’m crying tears of rage right now. We don’t tolerate people who torture small children and we shouldn’t tolerate atrocities like this. I can’t think of a penalty too severe . . . And I know calling him a brazen liar and wishing him to be set upon by ravening dogs isn’t going to open any channels of communication between us. Good. That’s just how I want it. You can be “civil” and have your nice debates, and that’s all fine and dandy if you want to be a filthy traitor in the war of ideas. But when you engage with liars, you validate their lies–lies, lies, lies–and you’re no better than they are.
I guess there are “reasons” in there, that certain ages of child might accept. I don’t really see how claiming “politics is difficult” is a defense of Kessler’s refusal to condemn what he admits are lies. I don’t see the value in a type of nuance that says “this consistent series of political stances based on an incoherent budget plan may enrich every millionaire at the expense of every non-millionaire, but really, every politician fudges things a little.” And I don’t see why getting angry at people who refuse to acknowledge that the consistent actions and stated intent of a segment of elites are to enrich themselves as much as possible by making life as desperate for as many other people as possible is a vice.
The “channels of communication” thing is the biggest crock of shit. “Yeah, these guys want to take away your pension and medical support and basically force everyone to live paycheck to paycheck shackled to debt their entire lives, and are lying about it, but it’s not that important.”
“Hey, fuck you too, buddy, it is important.”
“HOW DARE YOU CLOSE THE CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION. I don’t see how I can discuss, IN THIS HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT, how fucking you and your kids and your parents over isn’t important.”
So fuck you, Clive Crook, with a rusty spoon, right in the eye. You’re defending someone who’s saying, “I acknowledge these politicians are lying about fucking people over for decades. It isn’t a big deal.” And your only defense is childish sarcasm and meaningless buzzwords. Who’s fucking blocking the lines of communication, here, dickwad?
Oh plus Clive Crook defends Mickey “I am literally the worst thinker Slate has ever published” Kaus. ‘Nuff said.
These are golden times for media centrists. Sinecures as far as the eye can see in multiple mediums, and the only thing you’re accountable to is how well you vomit the conventional wisdom. Easy peesy lemon squeezy.
Seeing this stuff for what it is and calling it out with inappropriate cussing and sexual imagery, on the other hand, is difficult difficult lemon difficult. You have to show how language choice and emphasis and tone and all these weird amorphous concepts conspire to advance a specific political effect or vision. Tough stuff.
But lo, like a Lady in the Lake clad in shimmering samite, fate has thrown a gift from her inscrutable depths: Republicans which are just balls-out crazy and no longer give a fuck about hiding their sociopathy. And when this unstoppable force meets the moist quivering sponge of centrist journalism, the latter can’t help but get swept away, exposing itself in the process.
Case in point, Time’s Michael Crowley, whose schtick is so obvious in response to Paul Ryan lying on every substantive point in his convention speech I can just quote individual words and phrases. From the first few paragraphs:
most famous cutting prosecutor
master cultural beacon for the middle class
[WHO GREW UP IN A 6,000 SQ. FT. MANSION – sorry]
grand ideas attention-grabbing address
drew rhetorical blood vivid fillip [JEEEEEEE-SUHS]
These meaningless fluff words from the first few paragraphs do not belong in a story recounting the most mendacious American political speech given in at least the past five years, and they were written from a place of cowardice.
The fact that a few more paragraphs down the actual lies were recounted with “fudged facts” language, in a manner that makes it seem like typical political practice, becomes much easier to discern and almost beside the point.
The centrist pundit cannot stop, of course, it’s a compulsion, a dark passenger borne of insecurity and ego, so last night after Romney’s speech Crowley went on Greta’s House of Pain. After a speech which featured snide jokes with literal lip-curls and birther shout-outs and a fucking call-and-response section where a stadium full of assdicks chanted “no” in unison, Crowley had this to say about Romney accepting the nomination:
It was more sorrow than anger . . . not an angry message, we’ve talked so much in that last few years about the anger out there, in the tea party and the primaries, yknow, all of us were at primary events were voters were just furious and they wanted to just stand up and yell and give speeches.
But the tone tonight was sorrow, not anger, “let’s do something that we don’t feel great about doing but the time has come, we gave the guy a chance . . . but it’s over”
Fuck you, Michael Crowley. Crichton might have given you a small dick in one of his books for petty reasons, but you deserve a far worse fictional fate:
Talk about a fucking beat that would sap anyone’s strength . . .
Had you caught Paul Ryan’s speech to the Republican convention last night (and if you missed it figuring you were all full up on egocentric monsters luxuriating in their own righteousness, more sympathetic I could not be), had you braved the speech you could not fail to notice Paul Ryan flatout lying on every substantive point he brought up.
Not errors of omission, either, like how a half hour earlier Cloud of mushroom with a side of Rice had just kinda not mentioned Iraq or how Osama Bin Laden has not been livin’ for the past year. No. Ryan told straight-up fuckin’ lies. A sample:
– The “Obama took $715 billion from Medicare” chestnut that Michelle Bachmann got called crazy for peddling in 2010, and which cuts in any case Ryan put into his own Granny-starving plan.
– A GM plant in Ryan’s hometown was closed, AFTER Obama said that “if government helps [this situation] out, this factory will stay open for another hundred years.” GOODNESS. But uh the plant closed in 2008 so uh yeah.
– Trashing Obama for failing to follow the Simpson-Bowles commission, a commission which did not actually issue a final recommendation because it was blown up by a certain zombie-eyed House member from Wisconsin.
– Trashing Obama for getting US debt downgraded by a few agencies. Oh if only the agencies issued reports specifying in detail why they downgraded that debt why they might have specified that their decision was because of the Republicans’ willingness to treat the debt ceiling like the Lindbergh Baby which would eliminate any excuse for a barely sentient person to avoid calling this stinky bullshitty lie what it is.
Prudence demands drawing the curtain on the freak show at this point, but rest assured there are plenty more where those came from. Those links are all compendiums of lies, by the way, and they don’t overlap very much.
(Update – Can’t believe I forgot this: aside from the fucking lies, Ryan just flat-out contradicts himself within a few sentences.
Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now. And I hope you understand this too, if you’re feeling left out or passed by: You have not failed, your leaders have failed you . . .
When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself. That’s what we do in this country. That’s the American Dream. That’s freedom, and I’ll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners.
In other words, “it’s Obama’s fault that you’re such a fucking moocher.”)
At this point the only sane, rational, honest response to Ryan taking out his cheddar cheese dick and slapping every American in the face with it is the one of Timothy Bryce, the only interesting person I know:
This, of course, is a character from the cinema movie film American Psycho, expressing similar sentiments toward Mr. Ryan that he expressed toward a speech in which Ronald Reagan was lying in said movie film.
Does the reaction of centrist media types meet the lofty standards of a character from American Psycho? Read the rest of this entry »
The best development in the field of punditry in the past, oh, three or fours years at least is the application by Charles P. Pierce of his considerable powers to political analysis.
He is much less susceptible to the institutional careerism which is the Original Sin responsible for centrist bullshit, and he could give a fuck about civility or the social mores which act as regulating mechanisms if a centrist should slip here or there. A bright spot in a bleak landscape.
But what I’ve come to realize is that, from the first moment the first protester stepped onto the lawn of the capitol in Madison 16 months ago until the polls close tonight, the Great Wisconsin Recall has been an extended argument against narcotic centrism and anesthetic civility […] What we have here is a fight, out in the open, without nuance or euphemism, between two ideas of what self-government should look like, who it should serve, and how, and how wide the parameters of participation will be. That is serious business. It ought to be contested fiercely and to the last and without cosmetic conciliation. Scott Walker made a firm stand against public-employee unions, and did so in a way that ran contrary to a proud tradition of progressive politics in a state that takes those politics very, very seriously
As opposed to, say, this fucker: Read the rest of this entry »
via lots of folks but the precipitating factor was Atrios.
The deal here is that an ABC news correspondent gave three minutes to Honeywell CEO and member of Obama’s debt commission David Cote: asked him a few questions, got a few answers, put it on the air. Of course Cote said within thirty seconds of each other “The reason there’s so little hiring is because of uncertainty about the debt” and “The reason Honeywell is not hiring is because of slow orders”, ie lack of demand. So the reporter, Devin Dwyer, or asshead Devin Dwyer to use his professional title, could have asked a quick follow-up to explain that contradiction. Or he could have asked Cote about whether there is a lot of debt reduction to be had by performing an audit on the 15% of its revenues Honeywell gets from government coffers in the form of aerospace contracts, one of the ugliest wings of the military industrial complex in which no-bid offers and unnecessary procurement have the run of the place. Of course the next question he asked was “What advice would you give to President Obama?” And the little cherry on the sundae was Cote’s answer, “I’m not going to tell you that,” and Dwyer’s response, “Fair enough.”
Cote also let himself indulge in a bit of centrist rhetoric to just make this latest boning of the public discourse extra special. “Republicans and Democrats need to come together and, I think, quit saying that the hole is on the other guy’s side of the boat. We’re all in the same boat.” Yeah, but some of us are in the filet mignon dining area and some of us are in the rape chambers. Why they put rape chambers on the boat, I don’t know, but there are a lot of them, filled to capacity.
And look this is another instance of getting all sweary and invoking the metaphor of testicle consumption over insignificant media production which is just designed to fill up space, a three minute clip of an interview that maybe tens of thousands of people actually saw, and about twenty-seven actually paid attention to.
But that’s the thing again, isn’t it. If the centrist equation holds for even this; if reporters value access and not-giving-a-fuck-ness to this extent; if public figures are not called to task even when they flat out contradict themselves or have the grossest conflicts of interest in even a quick little story; then of course the stuff that matters will be so thoroughly integrated within the centrist framework that it will be more centrist spin than fact, its viewpoint twisted and evil.
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 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 »