Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Grand Old Pogrom

Editors' Note:  Due to breaking news, we are unable to bring you today's planned feature: “I Knew It All Along” by legendary Spy Sports Columnist Shill Shamelessly.  We'll try to bring you his peerless insights soon!

By A. Cahan
Jewish Affairs Editor

Shabbat morning in America.  Jews everywhere are heading toward shul, late of course.  Perhaps it's a bar mitzvah, a bris, a yahrzeit, or they simply want to remind Bob Feldman to pay his damn pledge to the Building Fund already.

Instead, on Saturday,  October 27, 2018, in the comfortable suburb of Squirrel Hill, what they got was a pogrom.

And what all surviving American Jews got was a wake-up call.  In the wake of the massacre and the responses of Republican politicians and their apologists, running from the lame to the incredible, it has become clear that any Jew who votes Republican is putting his people at grave risk.

The leading candidate for Republican
Speaker of the House published

then deleted this Tweet
The lone gunman, a white male loser who was able without any serious difficulty to amass a 21-gun military-grade lethal arsenal, decided that he had enough of the international Jewish conspiracy to overrun America with Honduran terrorists disguised as hungry, wretched women and children.

From whence could he have gotten this crackpot idea?  After 0.05 seconds of searching, we found out: from the alternative white supremacist Republican media machine.  A representative sample appears above but we could afflict you with an infinite number of like examples.

Now Jew haters have always been with us.  But only since the Bigot-in-Chief stole the Presidency with his toxic brew of hatred, bias, stupidity, and anger, have they felt emboldened to stroll into synagogues and open fire.   As the Editor of the Forward, Jane Eisner, summed up:

But very worst of all, we are a nation with a president who stokes this anger — against immigrants, against minorities, against anyone who disagrees with him at any moment — and then, when violence and death stain the landscape, blames the victims for not protecting themselves enough, as if that were the reason for the bloodshed.
It’s time for the Jewish community in all its many facets to confront the complicity of the man in the White House, and all who support him — with money, votes, political expertise and moral cover.

Let us savor the full bitterness of the response of the U Bum Administration to this appalling disaster.  By selling their soul (not a particularly valuable commodity at this point to be sure) to gun nuts, the entire Republican Party has endorsed the idea that any hate-addled nut should be able to stroll into any gun lover convention and walk out with an unlimited amount of military-grade weaponry that can kill 30 innocents a minute and overpower any defender armed with only a handgun.

The price for that insanity has been paid by high school students, people of color, concert goers in Las Vegas, and now the Jews.  Who knows who will get the butcher's bill tomorrow?

We know it won't be the Grifter-in-Chief.  With his now-legendary response to any tragedy – half-assed off-the-cuff ignorant hateful bullshit – he blamed the Jews for not posting armed guards at every U.S. synagogue.  Leaving aside the obscenity of blaming victims at a time of crushing loss, there's no doubt, as was the case with innumerable school shootings, that a guard with a handgun is no match for a white maniac with an array of heavy semi-automatic weaponry.

And by the way, who's supposed to pay for all of this round-the-clock security?  We know it won't be President Tiny Toadstool.  Or his hidden genius son-in-law Jared.  Will it be the Jews themselves, taxed to provide their own security as in the medieval ghetto?

Here's an idea: the $25 billion that the Groper-in-Chief wants to spend on a wall to guard against a nonexistent threat at the southern border could buy plenty of security for religious institutions currently being targeted by white male extremists.  

This is how a Jewish journalist is treated
in U Bum's America
But surrender to gun maniacs, while bad for the Jews, isn't necessarily anti-Semitic.  It's the rest of the Republican party prescription that sends our co-religionists to the real estate listings in Montreal and Toronto.

Let's consider the oafish response of brain-dead extremist and ghoul in waiting Mike Pence who said that anyone who shoots up a temple or a church should pay the “ultimate price.”  Leaving aside that the death penalty is already available for terror attacks (ask the Marathon Bomber), isn't something missing from this list?  Are there any other religious institutions in America?  If not, where do America's 3,000,000 Muslims congregate?  So it's OK according to Mama's Boy Pence to leave mosques off the list because it's OK to ban, if not shoot, Muslims?  And who thinks that anti-Islam bigotry is good for the Jews?  (Actually, we'll get to that.)

As Julia Ioffe – who has been smeared with unspeakable anti-Semitic abuse for the crime of truthful reporting – said in today's Washington Post:
In the two and a half years that followed, Trump’s tune has become a deafening roar. The closing ad of his campaign reprised the kind of anti-Semitic tropes that populated “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”: “It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities,” Trump’s voice said, as pictures appeared of then-Federal Reserve Board chair Janet Yellen (a Jew), billionaire progressive donor George Soros (a Jew), and then-Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (also a Jew). The ad was called “Donald Trump’s Argument for America.”  In fact, Trump had so much to say about the Jews that his Jewish son-in-law has had to publicly defend him as “not an anti-Semite.” 

Bigotry wasn't some incidental aspect of the the Republican argument for political power.  It was the core, and anti-Semitism was right in there with racism and anti-immigrant animus.

Speaking of people whose concern for American Jews we're having trouble stomaching, according to the The New York Times:
Leaders in the United States and across the world condemned the attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said he was “heartbroken and appalled” and that the “the entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead.”
Is he now?  It's nice that Netanyahu evinces such tender concern for Conservative (that is, mainstream) Jews, having denied them the right to pray as they see fit at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to protect his frail extremist coalition.

More fundamentally, Netanyahu and the entire Likud apparatus, from Las Vegas to the meanest illegal settlement in the hills of the West Bank, have done their level best to demean and marginalize liberal Jews, especially those who have the temerity to question the wisdom of paving the West Bank with settlements to deny Palestinians any hope of a real state in the region.

For that reason, the Likud has enthusiastically backed U.S. extremists and the Tangerine-Faced Golem, all the while undermining Democrats who have dared to express support for a two-state solution.  We are told in ways subtle and otherwise that only Republicans, who support the extirpation of legitimate Palestinian aspirations (whether as part of the end of the world and the Rapture or otherwise), are good for the Jews.

Yesterday's massacre demonstrates just how ludicrous that position was.  The blood of our brothers and sisters in Squirrel Hill cries out to us from the floor of their violated sanctuary: No one who cares about their fellow Jews can even think about voting Republican.

Friday, October 26, 2018

24 Minutes in the Life of America

24 Minutes in the 

Life of America

Editors' Note: The Spy is not just your comprehensive source for hard news and trenchant opinion.  It's so much more, like a showcase for the finest in writing and photography featuring the talents of our far-flung network of stringers and freelancers.  That's why we decided, what with all the scary news about bombs being sent to critics of the Grifter-in-Chief (which bombs he places in quotation marks to demonstrate he doesn't think they're real), to step back for a minute and fill a few pages with a reflective moody impressionistic pastiche of America at this moment – not just the rich and powerful but the little people, the common clay of our land, your fellow Americans, you know – [We get the setup. – Ed.]

6:42 a.m. New York City.

Dawn is just breaking over the skyscrapers of Sixth Avenue as Alison Porchnik, 28 [Our records say 33 – Fact Checker], an assistant producer, takes a sip of her lukewarm coffee and grimaces at the bank of monitors in front of her at Fox News World Headquarters.  Her mind is filled with questions.  What did that f***in' idiot Brian just say?  Why can't he just read from the prompter in front of him?  Is this what I spent four years at New York University for?  Why can't I find a decent apartment in Williamsburg for less than $3,000 a month?  Would it really be so bad to marry Sidney Feigenbaum, DDS?  He's boring and bald and lives in Mineola, but at least his income would pay off her student loans.

Not only that, she has a segment to fill up for Cruella de Vil at 10 tonight and she has nothing.  Democratic mobs?  Last week.  Leftist intolerance on campus?  Last night.  Planned Parenthood's plot to murder millions of babies?  Alison remembers the memo from Bill that said no more pro-life stories; it's not helping in the suburban swing districts.

What then?  She scans the monitors and sees a bunch of people walking, mostly women and small children.  They're not white.  They're aliens.  They are only 1,200 miles away from the U.S. border!  Perfect – by the time Alison is finished, the tape will look like a Honduran blitzkrieg.

3:44 a.m. Las Vegas, Nevada

The old man sleeps badly.  Despite his billions, he is racked by worries.  Finally, he gives up, rings the bell for his night attendant and flips on the light.  Far below his 48th floor penthouse the lights of the Strip blaze, luring a never-ending stream of suckers and lushes into his casino, where they will be only too happy to turn over their life savings to him.

His night attendant Yossi and two women whose names he can no longer remember wrestle him into his robe and onto his scooter.  He maneuvers his way into the living room, with its bank of monitors and secure phones.  He sees one of his underlings in Tokyo and barks, “Do we have that Tokyo casino license yet?”  The stricken look on his minion's face tells him everything he needs to know.  The old man spits out, “F*** this.”

5:46 a.m. Memphis, Tennessee

Inside the battered RV, the lights are already on.  Nathan Forrest, 72, finishes his first Winston as he helps his wife change her oxygen tank.  He has to hurry because his 12-hour warehouse shift begins at 7 a.m. and he must walk four miles to get there.  There's no retirement for Nathan: he needs the $7.25 an hour to make ends meet.  He took lower Social Security payments beginning at 62 because his former employer had gone broke and stopped paying his pension.  Some days his back hurts so much from lugging 45 pound boxes that he wonders if he'll survive until his shift ends.  He bids his wife farewell, and leaves his trailer, proudly wearing his Make America Great Again hat.

6:48 a.m. Rockville, Maryland

The sun hits the driver right in the eyes as he turns off the Beltway.  Back in Iran, he was a doctor, but here he drives a Toyota Camry for ride hailing apps.   As he hoped, it's a lucrative downtown run.  For an hour battling traffic on Connecticut Avenue he'll gross $15 after gas and lease payments.  If he can get a decent fare downtown, so much the better, although the $3.25 he gets for the run from Farragut to Capital Hill won't pay too many overdue hospital bills.  He stops in front of a raised rambler with a dying lawn.  The house looks familiar.  He sees his passenger flying out of the house, trying vainly to get into his jacket while cradling his cell phone.  Not this asshole again.  This guy is a reporter for some newspaper or something and will spend the entire ride whining into his phone.  What he won't ever do is tip.

Sure enough, the passenger climbs into the back seat with nary a word of greeting.  Into his phone he whines, “He said what?  An invasion?  ISIS terrorists? . . . Yes, I'll see if I can get any clarification from the Press Office.”

5:52 a.m. Liberal, Kansas

Maria Fernandez, 23, has been at work for almost an hour, making sure that the chickens hanging upside down from the chain are dead and pulling off their heads as they speed by, 50 a minute.  Her gloves and smock are already covered with blood and feathers  but at $10 an hour it's the best she can do with the Social Security Number she bought from Manuel behind the grocery store.  Her supervisor tells her than she is taking too many bathroom breaks and that if she can't manage the work while pregnant she should quit.  Her supervisor also told her that she should have kept her legs together and welcomed Jesus into her life instead.  As he walks away, he tells her to take pride in her work, because one of her chickens could end up eaten by the President of the United States.  She spits at a chicken, hoping she's gotten the right one.

6:59 a.m.  Greenwich, Connecticut

The CEO of the hedge fund that owns the warehouse in Memphis and the slaughterhouse in Liberal cycles away on his Peloton, watching a financial news channel.  The quarterly numbers look good.  The cut in the corporate tax rate has increased his after-tax profits by 40%.  Therefore the stock price is up 40%.  Therefore his net worth increased from $2 to $2.8 billion since January 1.  Finally, he thinks, he can afford to dump his second wife and maybe trade up to a hot youngish actress, like Steve-o.  Life is good, he thinks.

7:01 a.m.  Malone, New York

Inside a vast cold warehouse sit thousands of computer servers and storage units, handling billions of  bytes of data each second for Twitter.  Although the facility sprawls over 10 acres and receives a $24,000,000 of subsidized electricity each year, it employs only 30 people.  In Aisle 255, six servers blink on.   A Tweet from the President of the United States warning of an imminent invasion by Honduran and Iranian terrorists has been sent to 65,000,000 accounts and retweeted by 4.3 million bots.

7:06 p.m. U.S. Embassy, Tokyo

The NIACT alarm goes off in the Embassy's com center.  A cable authorized by the President is to be delivered at once to the Ambassador.  But the Ambassador is taking his weekly visit to the baths and so the message goes to the DCM.  It reads simply: WHERE THE FUCK IS THE CASINO LICENSE?

5:22 p.m., Old Sludgebury, Mass.

The Spy's Special Projects Editor looks at the assembled pointless drivel his team has put in front of him for a big feature about 24 Minutes in the Life of America, which is supposed to cover 8 pages on Sunday.  “This is all you got?” he rails. “You're all fired!”

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Never give a Republican an even break?

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-content Generator

There's no doubt that journalists and other scriveners are feeling more beset than ever.  No, we're not talking about a Washington Post columnist and U.S. legal permanent resident dismembered alive by a Saudi hit squad, whose death is being systematically covered up by the corrupt bigot in the White House bought and paid for by the Saudis, among others.

No, we're talking about something really important: the hurt feelings of white male gasbags who are not getting the respect they deserve merely because they have been wrong about everything over the last 40 years.  Today's poster child: former Iraq Warmonger and Bush apologist Max Boot.

These days Boot, like his fellow turncoats Billy Kristol, Davey Frum, Nicolle “Stop the Recount” Wallace and so many others, is enjoying his readmission to the human race because he, like any sentient being but unlike 99% of Republicans, is appalled by the antics of President Tiny Toadstool.

Looks like Max Boot won't need his slogan back
This idyll of hard-won respectability is marred only by a pertinacious few who point out that, prior to 2017, Boot was a hard-core shill for the George W. Bush program of lying us into war, committing torture, and cutting huge chunks out of the Constitution in order to arrest and detain in America U.S. citizens on suspicions, but not legally adequate charges, of terrorism.

Now that Boot has seen the light and the possible moolah he could rake in from selling his new book to people who think, i.e. not Republicans, he's done some good work confessing past sins.  According to Mother Jones, he's come closer to apologizing than the rest of the Iraq War Hot Air Force and other Bush coatholders:

[David Corn, Mother Jones:]You were a golden boy of conservative punditry. You joined the Wall Street Journal editorial page in 1994 at 24. You were the op-ed editor four years later. You became a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and a blogger for Commentary. You were in neocon heaven—a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, an adviser to John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. You were one of the major voices in favor of the Iraq War. And in your forthcoming book, you write with great introspection and humility, “I can finally acknowledge the obvious: It was all a big mistake. Saddam Hussein was heinous, but Iraq was better off under his tyrannical rule than the chaos that followed. I regret advocating the invasion and feel guilty about all the lives lost.” I mean, Max, this is almost, maybe it is, an apology. What brought you to that point?
Max Boot: Well, it’s basically that I could not deny reality indefinitely.  
Good thinking, Max.  Do go on:
I was in my conservative bunker, and I thought this was a gross libel against the Republican Party to claim that we were catering to racism, or that it was a libel on America to claim that America was a pervasively racist society. And then Trump came along and I realized, “Wait a second. There is a much larger constituency for racism and xenophobia than I had realized.” And it made me think, “Oh, my goodness. This is why a lot of people were voting Republican.” It wasn’t because they loved supply-side economics. It wasn’t because they supported NATO. It was because they were looking for a candidate who would champion the interests of white people. And Donald Trump did that more unabashedly and more unapologetically than previous Republican candidates had done. That was a wake-up call. And then of course I saw other examples of racism coming to the fore in ways that were undeniable, like all these videotapes of police officers killing and abusing African Americans. The evidence is right there, on the tape. You can’t deny it. 
No you can't, as indeed people of color and Democrats have been saying for at least 60 years to the derision of folks like you.   For some reason, those folks who were fighting for the truth and justice all that time aren't always as impressed as they should be by Max's newfound wisdom, according to Max:
Well, a general danger of punditry is that there’s very little incentive to change your position or admit error. If you reverse your position, the people who backed you before will be unhappy, but a lot of the people who now agree with you will still pillory you. I’ve gotten that on Twitter; I’m called a war criminal and told that I’m being opportunistic in renouncing the Iraq War. And so these people on the left are basically saying, “Too late. You can’t renounce your beliefs.” There’s very little incentive, from a political economy standpoint, for people to reverse field. And a lot of disincentives.
That must be why Billy and Davey and Steve and all the others haven't even bothered with any sort of recognition of, much less atonement for, their past idiocies: the pain of not being loved.  It's not as bad as having your legs sawed off or being publicly mocked and humiliated by the most powerful Republicans in the world for sharing your terrifying story of sexual assault at the hands of a Supreme Court Justice, but it's still pretty bad.

Perhaps it's not just sheer perversity that animates those who have correctly seen that the obvious truth that the Republican Party was and is nothing more than a collection of white racists, plutocrats and warmongers.  Perhaps it's the fear that, unlike those few who have made some effort to recognize their past misdeeds, the much greater number of Republicans who have not (what are your Contra buddies up to these days, Ana?) are peddling a new dog's breakfast of whoppers.

As far as we can tell, Max is alone among the Republican Never U Bummers in seeing the line that connects 60 years of racist Republican politics to its current master practitioner, President Tiny Toadstool.  The remainder don't, or won't.

That make us fear that what the Billys and Daveys and Steves and Joeys are angling for is a place at the political trough once we are rid of the Tangerine-Faced Grifter, assuming we live that long.  We fear that they will return to claim what they see as their rightful place in national politics based on the falsehood that Trumpanismo was an aberration from, rather than the culmination of, Republican policies.

They'll be back, trying out new lies to embroil us in new wars, like David “Axis of Evil” Frum, protect plutocracy and screw the poor, like Joe “I Ended Welfare!” Scarborough, avoid tackling climate change in the name of “deregulation,” and deny women access to safe abortions, like Nicolle Wallace, who once accused John Kerry of being insufficiently devoted to “fetal life.”

This is not an idle concern.  Here's one Republican who now fancies himself a moral authority but contributed greatly to the current catastrophe by telling us two years ago that he couldn't bring himself to vote for the one person who would save us from the U Bum Presidency:

The usual both sides bullsh**t.

Where exactly are far-left radicals ascendant?  In the Democratic Party of Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer?  Bollocks.

We can't let Republicans insinuate their shabby discredited policies back into the mainstream under the guise of some non-existent “third way.”  If they want a center-right party, we already have one: the Democrats.

As for Max Boot, we hope he sells a lot of books.  But before we sign our future over to him and his old buddies, you might want to take today's quiz: who liked Evan McMullin's preposterous Tweet?

Hint:  His name rhymes with “Lacks Toot.”  If you guessed right, you win a Coalition Provisional Authority T-shirt.  We've got a million of 'em!  When claiming your prize, please specify whether you want the one with the map of Iraq or Iran.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Civility and Its Discontents

By Isaiah Thomas
For the Editorial Board of The Massachusetts Spy

In the wake of the recent unpleasantness about shoehorning a drunken perjuring sex criminal onto the Supreme Court, those who committed the bag job are desperately trying to change the subject from their own misdeeds.  Their chosen vehicle is lamenting the supposed lack of “civility” on the part of those, including many survivors of sexual assault, who dared to oppose the evil deed in a way that hurt the feelings of, well, drunken perjuring sex criminals and their enablers.

The category-four hurricane of fake outrage has whirled around the usual sources of wind and hot air, but let's take former George W. Bush coatholder and mouthpiece Michael Gerson's latest effort as a fair example of the genre.

After first graciously demonstrating his scrupulous regard for fairness by admitting that the Bigot-in-Chief's torrent of lies and abuse is perhaps less than Socratic in its respect for the power of ideas and argument, he then proceeds to ape his old buddy David “Complete National Disgrace” Brooks's fair and balanced denunciation of both sides.

As examples of Democratic assaults on civility, he cites Senators walking out of rigged Committee hearings, demonstrators banging on the locked bronze doors of a building that in fact belongs to them, and what really chills the gonads of every entitled white conservative, people, especially female people, daring to confront their elected representatives and demanding to be listened to.  I mean, who do these gals think they are, anyway?

According to Gerson, these alleged delicts constitute “surrender[ing] to the irrational, to practic[ing] harassment and humiliation, and . . . turn[ing] to verbal and physical violence.”

Do they though?  When a candidate for President invites his mob to physically assault protesters, that sounds like surrendering to the irrational.  When women who are appalled that the credible testimony of a sexual assault victim is being ignored or mocked by reactionary white men in pursuit of a partisan political agenda, is it really irrational to confront those men and demand that they take your concerns seriously?  To the Republican “civility” police, such demands are no different from running over protesters on the streets of Charlottesville.

And wtf is verbal violence anyway?  That's one of those oxymorons that the fake outrage squad tries to slip by us.  Is it telling Orrin Hatch something he doesn't want to hear?  Is it calling a United States Senator “Pocahontas” because her mother told her she was part Cherokee?  Is it a boozy mob moll shlurring out “lock her up” on her pisspoor TV show?

There are two distinct objections to Democrats forcefully confronting their political adversaries, neither of which upon cursory inspection holds water.

First is the argument that somehow it is immoral for Democrats to respond to Republican invective in kind, on the theory that, unlike torture, lynching, and screaming at women trying to get reproductive health care, it degrades civil discourse.  Anyone who has observed the flaming clown car of the U Bum campaign and Presidency has to doubt how that is even possible.  How could civil discourse go lower than mocking a reporter's physical disability or the parents of a young man who gave his life for his country?

Of course every day the Groper-in-Chief digs the hole deeper, whether by mocking and smearing a survivor of sexual assault or inviting a raging schizo to rant in the Oval Office in an extra-special episode of “The Grifter's Apprentice.”  There's nothing that Democrats could say that could ever approach the daily descent of Republican political discourse into new depths.

The second objection is that if Democrats speak up, it will work against them, either because it degrades civil discourse (see above) or will somehow turn off those who might be inclined to support Democrats.  If anyone can find these mythical beings who were thinking about voting Democratic until they heard women demanding that Jeff Flake listen to them or saw them demonstrating on the Supreme Court plaza, which last we looked was public property, please have them call our dedicated tip line, 1-800-BULLSHIT.

Oddly enough, those who tell the Democrats that such speech will work against them don't provide that advice to Republican white reactionaries, who have been pounding out verbal outrages since the New Deal.  They've won elections they had no business winning advocating policies directly contrary to the interests of any Republican voter making less than $250K per year. When you ask these marks why, the answer you get is that they like what they hear.

If you're a Democrat and you want to motivate your base to turn out, why not tell them what they want to hear: that you understand their anger over the hijacking of their country and their uteruses and you will take action in response?

A related practical argument is that forceful Democratic responses only fuel the fire of reactionary screamers.  Keep your voices down, we are told, and starve the right-wing fake outrage machine.

Does anybody believe this?  Fox News has to feed its three prime-time geek shows and its four-hour AM Three Stooges revival every day.  They'll always find or create something.  They spent months raving about some guy standing in front of a polling station in Philadelphia for an hour and by the time they were done their loyal viewers thought we were in the midst of the worst slave revolt since Nat Turner.

Let's face it, Cruella de Vil and Fox's two boy sopranos will find something to rave about every night no matter how well behaved the Democrats are.  We might as well inspire our own.

Remember the good old days of civility in American politics?
But the most serious objection to all the hot air about civility is that it's really not a debate about civility at all.  It's really a debate about whether we are going to normalize and tolerate hate speech and hateful acts.  The answer to white Republican reactionaries trouncing every civilized norm by putting a sex criminal on the Supreme Court isn't a disquisition about the legitimacy of the Court; it's to remind each and every yes vote each and every day how vile their conduct was.  If that means that Jeff Flake and Susan Collins have their feelings hurt, we'll worry about that as soon as Justice Creepy McBrewski steps down.

Likewise the answer to Republican enabling of the most corrupt and disloyal President in our history isn't reaching out and caring or whatever horsesh*t Complete National Disgrace Brooks is peddling; it's getting citizens angry enough to mobilize and vote.  Forcefully calling out the disgraceful Republican Congress also makes clear to even the meanest intelligence that covering up subversion and corruption is outside the bounds of democratic politics.

The more faux-intellectual of the Republican apologists, like Gerson and Complete National Disgrace, also feign sadness over the loss of some Platonic ideal of discourse that supposedly once ruled our politics, presumably some time before or after the attempted murder of Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate.

We all wish that political debate sounded like disquisitions among Socrates and his followers under olive trees of ancient Athens.  But it doesn't, and Democrats who risk demoralizing their base and legitimizing the Republican subversion of our Republic might want to remember how all that dialogue turned out for Socrates.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Successful Rebranding of David Brooks

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-content Generator

Everyone starting out in the salt mines of modern journalism has taken to heart one piece of advice: build your own brand.  You're not the former editor of The Daily Brewer in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. or whatever; you're an edgy millennial with a discriminating taste for viral videos and Brooklyn's best tofu burgers or some such.

Even the elders are getting hip to this trick, as demonstrated by the Times's venerable Op-Ed hack, David “Both Sides” Brooks, who has chosen to rebrand himself thusly:

Bold stuff, but as his column today demonstrates, he's right on brand.

Today, Complete National Disgrace Brooks surveys the sorry spectacle of a perjuring bitterly partisan sex offender within a keg's breadth of getting a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court and draws the only conclusion possible (for him at least):  Both Sides.

Dispensing with trivia such as the dramatic, painful, and thus far unrebutted first hand testimony of Dr. Ford, he goes right to what he sees as the heart of the matter:  “What we saw in these hearings was the unvarnished tribalization of national life.”

By that he means that reaction to Dr. Ford's testimony was not based on its inherent credibility, but on the partisan inclinations of those who heard her:  Republicans regard her a crazy drunken slut; Democrats think she endured horrific sexual abuse.

Now you might think that central to any determination about which Side got it right would be an evaluation of whether she was in fact telling the truth.  If she was, then Republican support for Judge Creepy McBrewski must be based on a partisan lust to place a reliable reactionary on the Supreme Court notwithstanding sexual assault and perjury; Democratic opposition might be based on a fair evaluation of the available evidence, including Judge Creepy's alcohol-laden rant and equivocal denials about lifting weights with his fellow preppy assholes.

Wrong, says C.N.D. Brooks.  Because Democrats had mostly already opposed this raving political hack for other good and sufficient reasons, including his perjurious testimony, they have somehow forfeited their right to be persuaded by Dr. Ford's testimony.

Why is that?  Here's the short answer: it isn't.

Your prior opposition to McBrewski doesn't call into question your good-faith evaluation of credible charges and your contempt for the fraudulent “investigation” that ensued.  If her testimony was not credible, or falsified by other evidence, then your continued belief in her story (but not your opposition to C. McB.) might be suspect.

The core of the current debacle is not the partisan divide ante Dr. Ford's testimony; it's the partisan divide that followed, between Democrats who evaluated the evidence and believed her and the old white Republican men snarling at sexual assault survivors by telling them to “grow up.”

But as with most of CND Brooks's work product, there's so much more, at least in the way of intellectual dishonesty.  Desperate to focus on anything else besides the testimony of Dr. Ford, and the unheard testimony of Deborah Ramirez and Julie Sweetnick, he treats the charges as some airy exercise of epistemology (a word he learned at the fancy college he attended):
These hearings were also a devastating blow to intellectual humility. At the heart of this case is a mystery: What happened at that party 36 years ago? There is no corroborating evidence either way. So the crucial questions are: How do we sit with this uncertainty? How do we weigh the two contradictory testimonies? How do we measure these testimonies when all of cognitive science tells us that human beings are really bad at spotting falsehood? Should a person’s adult life be defined by something he did in high school?
We can take the last question first: the prisons are full of young men, disproportionately poor and minority, doing hard time for something they did in high school.  In fact, the Grifter-in-Chief achieved brief notoriety by advocating the lynching of five high school students for a crime they didn't commit.  In any event, if Judge McBrewski perjured himself before the Senate, that didn't happened 36 years ago, it happened last week.

No one is more humble that your meta-content generator, but even he knows from watching NCIS: Cleveland and Dateline that the response to a credible criminal accusation is a complete investigation.  That way, the mystery is dispelled and the average person (like the ones seated everyday on criminal juries) can make a judgement about what likely happened.  When the accused and his apologists do everything they can to frustrate that complete investigation, us humble folk may infer that further inquiry would not assist the defense.

Tired: the ol' Perfesser.
Wired: Complete National Disgrace

But enough about the facts of the case – CND wants to plunge in to the warm, soothing waters of Both Sides.  You saw Judge Creepy rant and rave about how he was going to take his revenge on the Democrats who plotted against him (including presumably Dr. Ford's therapist, who joined the plot in 2012).  No less a critic than retired Justice John Paul Stevens thought that performance disqualifying, but CND wants you to consider the Other Side.

What Other Side?  Apparently, he didn't like the way that Senator Cory Booker addressed McBrewski.  CND thought it was so political, as indeed might be expected from an elected representative in a political branch. They want to be re-elected, or even elected to a higher office and therefore will consider the likely public reaction to their remarks.  That is called “democracy. ”

That is exactly what a Supreme Court Justice is not: he (and it's all he all the time for President U Bum's nominees) is not elected.  He is not supposed to be political.  You can't equate the remarks of a Senator and a nominee to the Supreme Court.  That would like comparing CND Brooks to a serious thinker.

Indeed, none of C.N. Disgrace's column qualifies as serious thought, or thought it all.  It's poorly-executed observation, like looking out at the horizon and concluding that the Earth is flat.

Just to round out the essential lack of seriousness in CND Brooks's argument, let's look at his prescription.  Hint: it's not to stop nominating sex offenders for high office.  It's reaching out to rapists and perjurers and those who flack for them:
It’s also clear we have to set up more forums for personal encounters between different kinds of people. You detoxify disputes when you personalize them. People who don’t have regular contact with people they disagree with become intellectually dishonest quickly.
We accept CND's expertise in the field of intellectual dishonesty, but we don't recall how the Civil Rights Movement was advanced by having regular contact with Jim Clark and George Wallace.  We don't recall how the New Deal was achieved by regular contact with Herbert Hoover and J.P. Morgan.  And was victory won in World War II  by regular contact with Hitler and Hirohito?  History conclusively disproves Brooks's Kumbaya thesis.

So to his final question – What are we going to do about it? – the answer is as clear as the hatred and contempt on Judge Creepy's loutish face:  we are going to fight harder to make sure that every single person who sought to advance a perjuring sex criminal to the highest court in the land is banished from public life.

As for their flacks and apologists, let's just say that we're going to bestow on them the epithet they deserve.  And we couldn't do a better job of that than ol' Complete National Disgrace himself.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The greatest political pundit ever covers the midterms

Editors' Note:  While the Pride of Yale continues to battle heroically on behalf of all drunken sex offenders everywhere, the most distinguished political pundit still on his feet, the Spy's David Bloviator,  has had his finger on the Scotch bottle [Surely, pulse of the nation? – Ed.] as he covers his 23rd election exclusively for the Spy.

TMS: It's an honor to be with you tonight here in Whitehaven, Mississippi, where you are on the road covering the 2018 midterm elections.

DB:  I can well imagine,  Speaking of honors, would you do them and fetch me another Chivas-rocks like a good lad?  Make it a double.

TMS: Here you are.  Tell us, what was your reaction to the President's rally last night?

DB: It showed me that he retains his base of support in America's great heartland among those who feel unjustly attacked.

TMS: You mean like white rapists?

DB:  The President has a superb feel for the concerns and anxieties of average Americans.

TMS:  What about the concerns and anxieties of women who have suffered or fear sexual assault or abuse and those who care about them?
The great man himself, David Bloviator

DB:  Goddam it, man, you're not listening!  This current fooferraw over the Kavanaugh nomination just shows how tragically tribal our politics has become.

TMS:  It doesn't show a level of concern over the idea of putting a sex offender and perjurer on the Supreme Court?

DB:  That's just what one of the tribes would say.

TMS:  Also the victims and witnesses.

DB:  But, as you can see, away from the coastal elites, the President is rallying the Republicans behind his platform.

TMS:  Which is what exactly?

DB:  It's to make America great again.

TMS:  I understand the slogan, but is America really great when it gives broken-down blackout drunks a position of responsibility?

DB:  Now just wait a dang minute there friend.  One more crack like that and you'll get a faceful of ice.  If you don't want that, you better cover these cubes with another double.

TMS:  I wasn't referring to distinguished commentators like yourself, sir.

DB:  Of course not.  Now where was I?  I seem to have forgotten what I was saying.

TMS:  You were explaining how appointing loutish blackout lushes to the Supreme Court makes America great.

DB:  Indeed I was.

TMS:  Let's try something else.  It appears that the Democrats are benefiting from an outpouring of enthusiasm and financial support from their base.  Is that what you're seeing?

DB:  You do see some pouring out by Democrats in red states like Texas. You could describe their base as energized.

TMS:  How about motivated as never before?

DB:  That is also acceptable.  But the Democrats should not simply become the anti-President party.

TMS:  Why not?  Most voters can't stand him.

DB:  The Democrats must offer a positive alternative.   Otherwise they risk becoming the party of anger.  They must reach out.

TMS:  Reach out to whom?

DB:  Reach out to voters who supported the President.

TMS: How do you propose that Democrats reach out to those who voted for a man who launched his campaign with bigoted slurs against Mexicans and now cheer him on when he mocks a victim of sexual assault?

DB: They must move to the middle.  They should embrace centrist candidates like Michael Bloomberg.  As I said last weekend at a weekend conference paid for by Bloomberg in Palm Beach, we need an open bar.

TMS:  Don't you mean an open nominating process?

DB:  That too.

TMS: Why don't the Republicans have to move to the middle by for example not borrowing from our children to provide tax cuts for the rich or not gutting health insurance?

DB:  Dammit, man, you're missing the point.  Democrats must move to the middle.  Republicans don't have to move an inch.  Don't you know anything about politics?

TMS:  Aren't Democrats succeeding in many areas by embracing a progressive platform?

DB:  That may work in isolated coastal areas like Boston,  New York, or Los Angeles.  But here in Mississippi or in other states like North Dakota or Utah, voters are turned off by loud, shrill women.

TMS:  Have you ever wondered what turns off women, who represent more than half of all voters?

DB:  Why do you ask?

TMS:  Thank you Mr. Bloviator.