Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Andrew Sullivan, Part [n]

Further to my disdain below, I can’t say anything to gloss what Andrew writes in tonight’s RNC liveblog.

MSKG - De idioot bij de vijver - Frits Van den Berghe (1926)

Truly, all you need to know about Andrew’s political and intellectual honesty is right there:

8:18 p.m. We have to answer this core question: how is it that liberal democracy in America is now flirting with strongman, ethno-nationalist authoritarianism? What happened to the democratic center?

It seems to me that the right bears the hefty majority of responsibility, moving from principled opposition to outright nullification of a presidency, trashing every important neutral institution, and now bad-mouthing the country they hope to “govern.” But the left’s abandonment of empiricism and liberalism – its rapid descent into neo-Marxist dogma, its portrayal of American history as a long unending story of white supremacy, its coarse impugning of political compromise and incrementalism, its facile equation of disagreement with bigotry – has also played a part. Liberal democracy needs liberal norms and manners to survive. Which is why it is now on life-support.

In between, moderate Christianity, once a unifying cultural fabric creating a fragile civil discourse, has evaporated into disparate spirituality on one side and fundamentalist dogma on the other, leaving us with little in the center to hold us morally together.

Annnnd, Scene!

Have at it, friends.

Image:  Frits Van den Berghe, The Idiot by the Pond1926



Even the Liberal Matt Yglesias

Here’s centrist-curious Matt Yglesias, apparently hoping to get “typical liberals” to puke up their locally-sourced, gluten-free, vegan granola into their hemp totebags:

[The argument that Trump is too dangerous to be President] is the best argument to use if Clinton wants to persuade right-of-center voters to cross the aisle and vote for her, stay home, or take a look at Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party.

But it’s not an argument that’s going to warm the hearts of liberals. Pursuing the argument that Trump is simply too risky to serve as president requires Clinton to try to denude the campaign of as much ideological content as possible. Any talk from her side about the big issues and ideas in politics necessarily reminds people that for any given set of big issues and ideas, not everyone is going to agree. By contrast, pretty much anyone can be open to the basic idea that Trump is a loose cannon who doesn’t know much about foreign policy.

Some progressives fear that this kind of campaign means Clinton won’t build a mandate for progressive policy if she wins the election.

Some progressives?  Citation needed, motherfucker.

You know what will give this progressive a whole lot of joy?  The Democratic-controlled Congress that will come from the 70-30 landslide that Yglesias imagines in that piece.  I can’t think of too many of us who would have a sad because Clinton won by pointing out the obvious truth that the “serious” Republican party nominated an unstable, petty narcissist who might be capable of starting World War III over a minor insult.

The thing that makes me wonder about the Vox boys is why they try so fucking hard to run away from what is apparently the awful truth:  despite their feeble protestations to the contrary, the rest of the world calls them liberals.  Citation provided.








An Exercise For The Reader

It’s too nice a Friday afternoon to waste time fisking another of the exercises in bathos that is a David Brooks column.  So, to offload the pleasure to the friendliest snarling pack of jackals you’ll ever meet, here’s an amuse bouche for you to masticate.

The left is nostalgic for the relative economic equality of that era. The right is nostalgic for the cultural cohesion.

The exercise:  in how many ways is this brief passage a steaming pile of horse-shit?

Richard_Waitt_-_The_Cromartie_Fool_-_Google_Art_Project

There’s much more at the link, though none of it truly worth minutes you could use usefully — say reorganizing your socks.*

So bash a way on our BeauBaux, and anything else that catches your fancy.

*I’ll say this — Brooks does make an awkward nod toward reality at the end of the column — but from a foundation of argument so desperately avoiding the actual matters at hand as to be both incomprehensible and utterly unpersuasive.  Such is life, when the entire edifice on which you’ve built a public persona as collapsed around you.

Image: Richard Waitt, The Cromartie Fool, 1731



Late Night Comedy Open Thread: President Obama’s WHCD Gig

The CNN version, via TaMara. Fresh off the WhiteHouse Youtube channel. If a version shows up that includes cutaways to the people Obama singles out and the screen jokes, I’ll switch it in, but you can pretty well guess what they were anyway. And that THERE WILL BE BUTTHURT over the next few days, yes there will.

Should’ve known the Guardian would do a liveblog

… You can’t say that Larry Wilmore killed: his humor – as it normally is – was a bit more of the wait-did-he-really-say-that variety, which is definitely not in keeping with the typical WHCD crowd … which tends to think that he perhaps ought not to have said it. And, Wilmore’s jibes at CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Don Lemon, MSNBC’s morning show juggernaut Morning Joe and the death of print journalism (all topics well-covered at the event in past years, but normally by the president) were pretty unpopular with the likely inebriated crowd, earning him a couple of loud boos from folks who probably ought to have known better.

Laughing at himself is a skill the president managed to perfect at these things over the years; it’s one that not all the journalists in attendance seem to have mastered (though Don Lemon pasted a smile on and waved at the crowd). At least his reception wasn’t so poor that, like the year after Colbert made fun of George W Bush, the association will be tempted to find the most banal, grandparent-friendly comedian possible.

And next year will bring a new president: the question now is whether that president will be able to laugh at him or herself, and how much material with which she or he will give the host to work…

They were not too proud to include red carpet pics, either — including Kerry Washington going full fangirl over Madeline Albright. And the Guardian‘s guests, Carries Fisher, Tom Hiddleston, and Carrie’s French bulldog Gary. Donald Trump did not attend, but he sent his grown sons Uday and Qusay, presumably to take notes on who laughed at the Trump jokes, for when the purges start.

Also in attendance, Senator Sanders: Read more



Three ways in the House

Reading the Huffington Post, I saw this political bodice ripper and I still can’t figure out how to make the mechanics of the piece actually work in our shared reality:

Suddenly they realize, “holy shit, what if we could stop Donald Trump and keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?”

So they run a moderate establishment Republican as a third-party candidate — 100 percent as a spoiler candidate. Worst case scenario oh, they prevent Donald Trump from winning the White House. Best case scenario they pull enough votes away from Hillary Clinton to prevent her from securing the necessary majority of 270 electoral votes.

Then the election goes to a House of Representatives ballot presided over Speaker Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s former running mate in 2012.

If neither candidate gets 270 electoral college votes, Congress picks the president. And he will be called President Mitt, the one who is laying the groundwork for this doomsday electoral scenario.

The basic theory is that a third party candidate who is Generic Republican Establishment (no not Pawlenty) would be able to do three things at the same time:

  • Insure that Trump does not get 270 electoral votes
  • win at least one electoral vote
  • Insure that Hillary Clinton does not get 270 electoral votes

In an alternative universe, that could work, but in this universe, I am having a hard time seeing how to actually make it work with a generic Republican running as a non-Trump alternative.

I think the first part is achievable.  However, the third party Republican spoiler is not needed.  Continual video playback of Trump’s speeches to non-Trump fans will isnure that.  If the Republican establishment decided it needed at least one electoral vote, it’s sock pocket could probably win Utah or a Congressional district in Nebraska.  Worse comes to worse, an elector could be a faithless elector.  I’ll concede the mechanics on this one.

The problem with this pre-emptive pants shitting is the third part.

Read more



I’ll Take Journalism I Disdain For $1,000, Alex

This, in today’s Grey Lady, got my goat:

While Mr. Sanders’s direct rhetoric is an enduring source of his success, Mrs. Clinton has a way of meandering legalistically through thickets of caution and temporization.

Asked whether she would fire the head of the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to remedy water problems in Flint, Mrs. Clinton gave a nearly 200-word response emphasizing the need for a full investigation to “determine who knew what, when.” Mr. Sanders’ 16-word response drew enormous applause: “President Sanders would fire anybody who knew about what was happening and did not act appropriately.”

On the one hand, fine:  as a performance critique, that’s a perfectly understandable distinction to draw (though in this case even the stated critique is patent BS, about which more in a moment).  But there’s more to political journalism than amateur theater criticism.

William_Hogarth_028

Some interest, even a glimmer of curiosity in the quality of the content of the answer would be welcome.

So, let’s take a look.  When asked if she would fire people at the EPA over the Flint crisis, here’s what Clinton actually said:

CLINTON: Well, I think that the people here in the region, who knew about this and failed to follow what you just said, rightly, the law required, have been eliminated from the EPA.

COOPER: So far, one person has resigned.

CLINTON: I don’t — well, I don’t know how high it goes. I would certainly be launching an investigation. I think there is one. I was told that — you know, some of the higher-ups were pushing to get changes that were not happening.

So I would have a full investigation, determine who knew what, when. And yes, people should be fired. How far up it went, I don’t know. But as far as it goes, they should be relieved, because they failed this city.

But let me just add this, Anderson. This is not the only place where this kind of action is needed. We have a lot of communities right now in our country where the level of toxins in the water, including lead, are way above what anybody should tolerate.

(APPLAUSE)

We have a higher rate of tested lead in people in Cleveland than in Flint. So I’m not satisfied with just doing everything we must do for Flint. I want to tackle this problem across the board. And if people know about it and they’re not acting, and they’re in the government at any level, they should be forced to resign.

So — yes, she’d fire people when and as they were found to be culpable, but such actions, she argues, are not enough.  I’d go further, and say that they’re cosmetic, unless the same duty of care that Flint deserves is applied across the board.

And I don’t know about you, but to me, the demand to take the lessons of Flint on the road is hardly a legalistic detour into “thickets of caution and temporization.”  The gap between that characterization and what was actually said (and not quoted in the offending thumb-sucker) is, shall we say, interesting.  Given the Times‘ history with Hillary, I’d even say, suggestive.

I know it’s a lot to ask (it isn’t, actually. It’s merely impossible for current practitioners to answer — ed.) but I’d like to see even a hint of acknowledgement that what Clinton said may have been less dramatic than Sander’s reply, but, just maybe, contained something worth thinking about.  Even more, some recognition that two hundred words is not too much to spend on the problem of failed infrastructure, the abandonment of governmental responsibility, and poisoned kids.

Just for perspective — the average speaker takes roughly 80 to 90 seconds, maybe a skosh more, to utter two hundred words.  I’d have thought a hero of the English language like a New York Times reporter might have the stamina to stick it out that long.

Color me grumpy.

Image:  William Hogarth, An Election Entertainment from the Humours of an Election series, c. 1755



LOSE THE MORNING

The Politico team will be no more after the 2016 Hunger Games as founders Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen are evacuating the smoking remains of the Village by helicopter.

In what can be described only as a cataclysm in Beltway media, CEO Jim VandeHei is leaving Politico, the eight-year-old politics website that shook up Washington journalism, according to sources and reports by Huffington Postand CNNMoney.

And in what can be described only as a mega-cataclysm, Politico Chief White House correspondent Mike Allen is joining VandeHei in rushing toward the exits of Politico’s Rosslyn headquarters. Allen writes the daily franchise newsletter “Politico Playbook.” A bearer of occasional scoops, Allen is the driver of very frequent revenue. Weekly sponsorships for “Playbook” run in the $50,000 to $60,000 range this year, depending on the news cycle. And that’s not even rolling in the big money that comes from “Politico Playbook” conferences/interviews anchored by Allen. His work alone — complete with ethical issues — subsidized a platoon of Politico reporters.

It doesn’t end there: Kim Kingsley, the Chief Operating Officer is leaving as well. Kingsley has provided the glue that bridged Politico’s newsroom and its business side as the site sprinted to revenues approaching $20 million just years after launching. She headed the colonization of radio and cable-news airwaves that helped establish Politico as a preferred Washington source both for readers and advertisers. The company’s successful events business was also an obsession of Kingsley’s. Other departures are Danielle Jones and Chief Revenue Officer Roy Schwartz.

VandeHei, Allen and Schwartz will stay through the 2016 election; the others will leave on earlier timetables. Editor-in-Chief John Harris will say on board and take on the additional title of publisher.

Politico as we’ve come to know it is no longer.

The disintegration appears to be over money issues, as most business problems seem to be, and surely most of these folks will land on their feet.  But Politico’s particularly toxic brand of Beltway both-siderism has surely taken a beating in the era of LOL PMURT NOTHING MATTERS ANYMORE, and I’m thinking since the rules of Beltway “journalism” have been thoroughly napalmed over the last six months, Jim and Mike are getting off the playground where they’ve realized that they’re no longer the guys in charge of giving out all the kickballs.

I can think of a couple hundred Villagers who need to follow those two out the door, too.