Monday, November 27, 2017

Weapons of mass stupefaction

By Nellie Bly
Washington Bureau

We follow adorable U Bum cheerleader and Westworld barmaid Katrina Pierson on Twitter.  Every so often she come up with something that provokes us, if only to further consideration.  This was one:

We were thinking of tweeting back that calling out sexual abuse and harassment by others is not a good look for the Groper-in-Chief's dwindling band of true believers, but it made us stop and think.  Katrina Pierson doesn't have to shoplift her talking points anymore; they are provided to her by propagandists who know what they're doing.

So what are they doing?

They're using what John Oliver calls whataboutism to inoculate the Grifter-in-Chief from facing the consequences of his actions.  Sure, he admitted violating women and barging in on underage girls disrobing in their dressing rooms, but no one can hold that thought in their heads very long in the face of barrage after barrage about supposedly similar conduct by Democrats as prominent as Russell Simmons.  The scandal of President U Bum's sexually assaulting 18 women is lost in the stench of everyone does it until the little train carrying the public careens into the next chamber of the White House of Horrors.

The Bigot-in-Chief used the same technique with great success in his campaign.  Remember Hillary Clinton's pointed and accurate attack on U Bum as Putin's stooge?  The tangerine-faced insult comic fired back with “You're the puppet!”  It made no sense then and makes none now, but it brought public consideration of the collusion between the Chancellor of Trump University and a hostile foreign power to a grinding halt, soon to be replaced by email risotto recipes that were thought to “cast a shadow” over the campaign of the nominee who was not a Kremlin puppet.

As anyone who has survived this long in Occupied Territory knows, the bullshit barrage is so unceasing that it makes rational thought impossible.  Just today, between slurring a Senator for expressing pride in her heritage during a ceremony honoring war heroes of that same ethnic background and blowing up an independent federal agency in a blatantly lawless coup, we have neither the time nor the energy to remember that the President of the United States has admitted both sex crimes and impeachable obstructions of justice.

So we take it back (and btw that's good advice for Katrina the next time she finds herself in Macy's jewelry department) – Katrina Pierson, at least until the batteries need a recharge, is a superbly effective agent of disinformation.

Friday, November 24, 2017

America's laziest columnist wakes up, unfortunately

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

Just this week, The New York Times sent us an ominous envelope that in past years it has used to inform its remaining brain-dead print subscribers (like us!) that due to increasing costs including the publisher's alimony the price of your subscription would sadly rise oh-so-slightly to a yearly total that now has a comma in it.

So imagine how surprised we were when the letter within, signed by credulous columnist Nick Kristof, thanked us for supporting The Times' journalism and the efforts of its hard-carousing [Surely, hard-working? – Ed.] reporters.

That was nice.  Unfortunately today his even lazier colleague Maureen Dowd emerged from her Georgetown crypt to remind us what else our stack of Benjamins pays for: a full column of racist talking points supposedly issued by her brother “Kevin.”  Long-time Spy readers will recall that we had taken a close look at his previous effort here, here, and here.

It shut him up for a year, but like herpes, he flared up again with an all-new column carefully analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the first 10 months of the U Bum Administration.

We're just f**king with you again.  Of course he didn't; he just recycled the racist bigoted talking points pinging around the Republican bullsh*tosphere.  We're still recovering from too much turkey so we can't spend too long on “Kevin”'s latest effort, but we thought we could put about as much effort into reviewing it as he and his sister put in composing it.

Kevin speak more good!
As you might have surmised,  “Kevin” thinks that the Grifter-in-Chief is the greatest thing since lynching bees.

He looks back with unconcealed white male glee at U Bum's colossal list of achievements, including installing Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.  This was actually thanks to Mitch McConnell's refusal to allow Merrick Garland so much as a hearing, but that was OK with “Kevin,” because Gorsuch is already proving to be such a blazing success. What's the source of this bromance? Was it Gorsuch's apparent desire to read Baker v. Carr (outlawing malapportioned districts) out of the Court's body of precedent?  Who knows? Not “Kevin.”

“Kevin” is equally enthusiastic about the Grifter-in-Chief's demolition of real President Obama's “burdensome regulations.”  Which ones particularly chapped his sagging white butt?  Was it the one that prevented those with serious mental illnesses from obtaining lethal weapons? Or the one that protected us from dumping of lethal mine waste?  Or the one that requires employers to disclose their illegal mistreatment of employees?  Or the one that allowed killing bear cubs?  Don't ask “Kevin” – he heard Brian Kilmeade say this yesterday and that's good enough for him.

But what of course really floats “Kevin” out of his recliner are not the exiguous achievements of U Bum; it's the chance to rubbish Democrats.  Did you know that Democrats don't always treat women respectfully?  Now you do:
The dam has broken on sexual harassment and worse. It has already claimed Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Charlie Rose and threatens to make a ghost town of Hollywood and the Capitol. It has also brought back Bill Clinton for an unwanted encore of his colorful past.
Is there any other figure in public life that might have a problem with his treatment of women?  Hello?  Maybe he could ask his sister, who has had any number of chummy interviews with the Groper-in-Chief.

There's more, or rather there isn't much more.  Among the topics that “Kevin” doesn't believe are worthy of discussion are proposed tax cuts for the idle rich and their mouth-breathing spawn, U Bum's ill-fated effort to steal health insurance from 23 million, the record of Russian collusion and Putin-scrotum-kissing that has made the United States the laughingstock of the world, the obstruction of justice that occurred when Comey was fired, the undermining of all efforts to save the planet from the devastation of global warming, and U Bum's endless hate-filled appeals to racists, Nazis, and bigots.

Actually, come to think of it, “Kevin” did have time to note approvingly any number of those rants.  Who isn't glad to know that the Grifter-in-Chief and his band of brownshirts were so successful in lighting “Kevin”'s tiki torch?

We just have one thought for the good folks who continue to pay Maureen Dowd to recycle third-hand disinformation: don't put “Kevin”'s musings in next year's thank-you letter to subscribers.  They might wonder if their $1000+ might be put to better use elsewhere.

Update Nov. 27: We don't know how we missed this steaming nugget although in our defense it was quite a pile, but “Kevin” pans for comedy gold by making fun of the ages of Democratic leaders: “The Democrats have their own issues. Their leaders are all on Medicare . . .”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is 77.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is 67.

“Kevin”'s choice for effective, energetic leadership, the Grifter-in-Chief, is 71.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Fall Review of Unreadable Books: Living in Fantasyland

Editors' Note: Every so often our Literary Editors, none of whom recall being forcibly kissed, groped, fondled or ridiculed by Leon Wieseltier, share with you, the innocent reader, their discovery of a book so dreadful, so empty, so clich├ęd that it cannot possibly be read.  We call these books “Unreadable” to warn the literate public (Alabamans can skip to the next item) not to go near them with a 95% off coupon.  Here's their latest find.

by Kurt Andersen '76
Random House [How appropriate – Literary Ed.]
$30, already marked down to $20.28

Who among us fails to remember with fondness those long dinners in Dunster or Lowell with you and your brilliant friends and their brilliant friends and some graduate student in need of a shower and hairbrush sharing their brilliant take on the history of the world, the fate of humanity, or the inevitability of their brilliant career?  It was brilliant, right?

Whatever happened to those guys?  Some have faded into obscurity, by which we mean law or medicine or academia.  Some lied us into a lethal war of choice in Iraq.  Others used their legal talents and propensity for brown-nosing to reach the pinnacle of the American justice system, where they toil indefatigably to transform the U.S. Constitution into a vehicle for the exclusive protection of rich white reactionaries like themselves.

Others achieve literary fame and fortune, like the author of the instant unreadable book, an effort to explain why the United States finds itself enmeshed in a web of lies that have left democracy and the rule of law trapped and devoured by those in power.  Our author, Kurt Andersen '76, relies on his 30-year career as an intellectual and social historian conducting painstaking research and inquiry into the dark and treacherous waters of the American past.

Nah, we're just bullsh*tting you.  Our author has been f**king around New York City since graduation: editing a humor magazine, trying his hand at the occasional novel, and serving as the host of the well-known public radio program The Kurt Andersen Tower of Power Hour.  [Louise, get the name of his f**king show – Literary Ed.]

So it's no surprise that he pads out his almost 500-page compendium of trivia by starting with the first European settlers, who according to Our Historian embarked on their journey guided by their wild fantasies of what they would find.  This presumably distinguished them from the deeply rational, thoughtful churls they left behind in early 17th Century England.

A random walk through American bs
From there, it's a whirlwind journey through American bullsh*t, up to and including President U Bum, at the end of which Kurt concludes that there are a lot of idiots out there who didn't go to an Ivy League college so what after all can we expect?  And can you believe how much the co-op board is assessing us for a new boiler?  Jesus H. Christ!

Had he actually mastered American history in all of its tawdry sanguinary glory he might have noticed, as so many others have, that American insanity tends to run in entirely predictable and well-worn channels.  He might have have drawn a line connecting centuries of lies about those African folks brought to America in chains, a line as thick and unmistakable as the coffles of chained slaves sold down the river by the good fathers of Georgetown University for the profit of those white men who endowed the great Ivy League universities whose tables were graced by Kurt and his buddies.

He might have observed the uncanny similarity between the lies told in the 17th Century to justify enslaving said individuals to the lies told in the 19th Century by those who would betray their country to protect their interest in slavery to the lies told in the 21st Century by the immiserated yahoos of Johnstown Pa., who claim not to understand why black athletes protest before games but love to tell you that NFL really stands for N***** for Life.

Kurt might even have cast a glance back at his very own Alma Mater, which peddled eugenic nonsense and myths of racial superiority from the mid-nineteenth to the late 20th centuries.

Or he could have taken a look at the not just American tradition of treating women as property until the middle of the 19th Century, or in the case of Republican Senate candidates, repulsive movie moguls, and loathsome comedians, until deadline today.

Then having done so he might have noticed striking consistencies among the lies Americans, especially the white ones, have told themselves for centuries, but of course that would require research, rigor, and a willingness to face some unpalatable truths.  But if his classmate John Roberts doesn't think that racism remains a problem today, how could Kurt be expected to grasp truths obvious to those whose skin color or chromosomes differ from his?

What would it take for Kurt and classmates to understand?  Easy: they would have to be willing to shut up and listen.  Sadly that's the one skill they didn't teach these boys in college.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

From the Archives, 2008: Normalizing the Unthinkable

Editors' Note: There's a lot of pixels being excited these days by the shocking outrages of the U Bum Administration and the danger of normalizing the criminality, brutality, and subversion of his gang, including his mouth-breathing offspring.  Some of the commentary comes from those who have loyally questioned the morality of prior Republican armies of destruction, but a surprising amount emanates from those whose sensibilities were once less easily offended.  Let's climb into the Waybac and see how some of these worthies normalized the apparently petty peccadilloes of George W. Bush and his co-conspirators.

By Robert Jackson
Contributing Editor, International Law

The increasing tempo of revelations about the grotesque and indefensible tortures employed by the Bush Administration has been met by an unyielding and relentless effort by Republican apologists and neocons to justify them as perfectly reasonable responses to an apparently endless and boundary-less “War on Terrorism.”

Kristol: 'Perfectly normal'
The Republican chattering class seems to have no difficulty accepting as normal and appropriate 183 acts of waterboarding against a terror suspect designed to elicit a false statement about the nonexistent ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, the torture and degradation perpetrated against random detainees at abu Ghraib prison, or the brutality, up to and including anal rape, practiced by the CIA against detainees at Baghram in Afghanistan.

The entire campaign of illegal torture and brutality, summed up brilliantly in Jane Mayer's new book, The Dark Side, has been regarded by all civilized Americans as abhorrent.  Here's one typical example, from History Professor Alan Brinkley (from his review of Mayer's book): “it would be difficult to find any precedent in American history for the scale, brutality and illegality of the torture and degradation inflicted on detainees over the last six years; and that it would be even harder to imagine a set of policies more likely to increase the dangers facing the United States and the world.”

But Republicans don't seem to have a problem with any of it.  For example, Republican spin doctor and concoctor of lies intended to justify the disastrous War in Iraq Billy Kristol, far from condemning the extra-legal torture practiced by the CIA and others, has called upon W. to pardon the torturers, apparently concluding that behavior that sufficed to justify the execution of Japanese generals as war criminals is now just another normal part of war, at least when the torturers are American.

Frum: 'Nothing to see here people'
He specifically urged the President to normalize waterboarding: “The CIA agents who waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, . .  should not have to worry about legal bills or public defamation. In fact, Bush might want to give some of these public servants the Medal of Freedom at the same time he bestows the honor on Generals Petraeus and Odierno. They deserve it.”

Former Bush Administration coatholder David Frum similarly regards torture and brutality as nothing to get upset about.  In his world famous blog, the Frum Forum, he normalized the efforts of fellow mouthpiece John Yoo to define away torture by disregarding the definitions built into American and international law for at least two generations.  Frum said that Yoo's frivolous arguments were part of a good-faith dispute and demonized those who corrected Yoo's perversion of law as having “the incidental effect of recategorizing some of the most brutal enemies the United States has ever faced as pitiful victims.”  In other words, Frum thought that the degradation and torture defended by Yoo were a perfectly normal part of American government and jurisprudence.

Likud Party spokesgal Jennifer Rubin similarly sees nothing abnormal about throwing away the rules governing civilized warfare that predate the Nuremberg Trials.  Referring to torture by Bush's preferred euphemism, “enhanced interrogation,” she normalizes it by repeating the false claim that it helped in the fight against bin Laden.

Rubin: 'OK by me'
As for former impeachment hellhound and faithful family man Joe Scarborough, he has never used his morning gabfest to express outrage over the protracted torture campaign and its attempted cover-up.  Instead, he has consistently sought to normalize such vile conduct by claiming falsely that it is an effective and long-standing part of intelligence-gathering.

Further, his supposedly heavyweight panelists seem unable or unwilling to point out the truth.  For example, on Tuesday's show, Washington gasbag and Ladies' Man Mark Halperin joked that he'd be willing to be locked up and chained to the production intern with the “great yabbos.”  He was followed by creative writer Mike Barnicle, who told a story about how Whitey Bulger was caught because a Boston cop named Jimmy Burke beat the crap out of somebody in 1946.

Scarborough: 'As American as apple pie'
The danger of course is that conduct such as freezing detainees to death, stripping them and forcing them into a pigpile, and even raping detainees with enemas containing food becomes normal if those who should know better fail to speak out.  If we cannot even condemn obvious outrages like torture, what further attacks on our democracy and the rule of law can we expect?  Collusion with Russian efforts to subvert our elections?  Presidents subject to blackmail due to their escapades and financial dealings with Kremlin-backed gangsters?  An entire government devoted to protecting the personal wealth of a demented President?

Laugh if you like at these admittedly ludicrous examples, but if we let our government get away with torture, what else will we end up normalizing?

Also on Scarborough's malarkey festival with Halperin and Barnicle was busto casino operator Donald J. Trump, who was willing to disagree with the prevailing sentiments on at least one issue:  “Which one, Mark?  The one in the control room?  Hell, my daughter has a better rack than that.”