GONNA STUDY WAR LOTS MORE: Con men to the right of us!


Part 3—Students of war to the left: Is the GOP in the grip of a “nihilistic base?”

That may be what Thomas L. Friedman says in today’s New York Times. In his second strong column about the shutdown, he offers this sweeping claim:
FRIEDMAN (10/9/13): The reason so many mainstream Republican lawmakers want Obama to give something to Cruz & Co. is that they want to get out of this mess, but they’re all afraid to stand up to the far-right fringe themselves—with its bullying network of barking talk-show hosts and moneymen. But Obama shouldn’t take them off the hook. Only Republicans can delegitimize the nihilistic madness at the base of their party. (I wouldn’t exaggerate this, but I think Boehner underestimates how many mainstream Republicans feel their party is being stolen from them by radicals—and hunger for a leader who will take them on.)
Does that highlighted statement refer to the GOP’s base voters? Are they the ones who are in the grip of “nihilistic madness?”

That’s the way the passage sounds, and the claim feels good. Such phrases denigrate millions of people all in one feel-good dose.

Back when we were in the ninth grade, we were instructed not to do that. (By the late Peter Drobac, a young teacher at Aragon High in San Mateo, California.) But then, we come from an upwardly mobile educational environment, as we admitted yesterday.

Is the base of the GOP nihilistic? That’s a sweeping claim. Here’s a second sweeping claim, one we’ll endorse: such voters have been conned for decades by that “network of barking talk-show hosts.”

They’ve been conned about taxes; they’ve been conned about debt. They’ve been conned about Social Security; they’ve been conned about the Affordable Care Act.

During all this time, the Joan Walshes of our sad, slow-witted tribe were mainly off diddling themselves in the deep, dark woods. Our intellectual leaders didn’t try to develop ways to talk to “those people.” Our intellectual leaders slumbered, snored and burbled their way through life. They learned to offer sweeping insults and to stick money into their pants.

Last night, the GOP base got conned again. For perhaps the ten millionth time, Sean Hannity pulled a standard con concerned deficits and debt.

In this presentation, Hannity helped the base see through Barack Obama’s latest bold-faced lie:
HANNITY (10/8/13): We turn our attention back to the president's hyper-partisan press conference from earlier today. While he spent most of his time demonizing Republicans, something that he always does, he also worked in a few bold-faced lies about his own economic record. Watch this:

OBAMA (videotape): If you're concerned about long-term debt, that's a good thing to be concerned about. But don't pretend as if America's going bankrupt at a time when the deficits have been cut in half.

HANNITY: Cut in half? $16.7 trillion in debt? He wants to lecture us on the economy? It's just reckless comments like those that have caused my next guest to become one of the most vocal and effective critics of the president and his left-wing agenda.
Did Obama tell a bold-faced lie in that short video clip? Well actually no, he didn’t. But so what? Effortlessly, Hannity conflated two terms to give his viewers the impression that they had been lied to.

(At that point, he introduced Donald Trump, the “best-selling author, world-renowned businessman, TV personality,” “one of the most vocal and effective critics of the president and his left-wing agenda.”)

Are Hannity’s viewers nihilistic? Or have they been conned down through the years, the years in which people like Walsh has been kissing the keisters of wealth, fame, position and power?

Following the lead of the late Dr. King, we’re inclined to avoid the most negative possible characterization of millions of people we can’t even name. Beyond that, liberal voters are now being conned each day at the slimy Salon.

Conservative voters are relentlessly conned about budget topics. When we liberals got conned by our own “network of barking hosts,” we tend to get conned about race.

Race is the game our barkers play. Consider the latest hate-fueled philander from Salon crackpot Andrew O’Hehir.

In theory, O’Hehir is Salon’s film critic. That said, he enjoys letting his freak flag fly in his reactions to films.

Over the weekend, O’Hehir really went to it! We were still recovering from Walsh’s hate-filled mind-reading during the week, in which she told us that millions of people she doesn’t know can’t even look at Obama without thinking of miscegenation.

(And yes, that actually is what she said. By now, Walsh is blatantly out of her mind. As Dr. King understood and explained, that’s where the haters end.)

We were still recovering from that deluge of mind-reading. Then we read O’Hehir’s piece, in which the critic describes his reaction to a film about the disastrous bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia in 1985.

Needless to say, this fatal, 28-year-old bombing reminded O’Hehir of what the GOP base is thinking today, during the moments when they can get their minds off miscegenation. These are the headlines some overwrought “editor” propped atop his piece:
White America says “Let the Fire Burn”
What the Philadelphia firebombing of 1985 can tell us about the culture of white rage that led to the shutdown
Predictably, we’re told that the Philadelphia firebombing of 1985 can tell us about “the culture of white rage” which led to the current shutdown. Indeed:

In the headline, which O’Hehir presumably didn’t write, “white America” is said to be saying, “Let the fire burn.” That phrase was uttered in 1985 by Wilson Goode, Philadelphia’s mayor.

Mayor Goode was black. Inside the brains of O’Hehir and/or his editor, “white America” is now shouting that unfortunate phrase.

Alas! In the modern context, liberals get conned by people like O’Hehir, just as conservatives get conned by Hannity. As a general matter, they get conned by overwrought and inaccurate statements about deficit and debt. We get conned by overwrought and inaccurate statements about race.

As is often the case in modern “liberal” race writing, O’Hehir’s statements are so overwrought that they are often hard to paraphrase and critique. That said, the analysts were already wailing by the time they hit this fiery passage:
O’HEHIR (10/5/13): Statistics and recent electoral history paint a deceptive picture of an increasingly diverse society that mostly appears harmonious, despite worsening economic inequality: White births are now a minority, the white majority population continues to shrink toward 50 percent, and a moderate biracial Democrat has been comfortably elected president twice, winning several previously conservative states. But a great many white people, more than anyone really wants to admit, find these facts profoundly troubling. They have been pandered to for generations by conservative politicians who assured them that their mythological vision of a white-picket-fence, exurban America was more authentic than anyone else’s. I remember covering George H.W. Bush on the campaign trail in 1992–the son of a senator and Wall Street banker, raised in Greenwich, Conn., and educated at Phillips Andover and Yale–when his stump speech included lines about “rural America, real America.”
That passage could provide the motto for the new Salon: Our diverse society may appear harmonious. Liberals, don’t be fooled!

As Candidate Reagan once famously said, there [they] go again! Mind-reading beautifully, O’Hehir is able to tell us that “a great many white people, more than anyone really wants to admit,” find it “profoundly troubling” that white births are now a minority.

Presumably, these white people have this reaction after they stop obsessing on miscegenation, the involuntary reaction they suffer each time they see Obama’s face. At any rate, a large number of these white people seem to have this reaction, based on O’Hehir’s statement.

But what exactly is this number? O’Hehir doesn’t say, for an obvious reason. In point of fact, he doesn’t have the first f*cking idea what he’s talking about when he makes that sweeping, ominous claim. He’s simply talking hate.

In the words of the old Negro spiritual, he is teaching Salon’s misused readers to “study war.”

Can we talk? It isn’t that nobody wants to admit how many “white people” feel that way! In fact, nobody has the slightest idea what that number might be! Nobody except the haters, who always think they know such things about the groups they despise.

That claim is part of O’Hehir’s unintentional comedy, which runs all through his piece. But we summoned our research team from their stalls when we saw that quotation from Bush.

There is no doubt that Candidate Bush did some semi-slimy campaigning in 1992. (In 1988, he was worse.) If memory serves, and it sometimes doesn’t, this was especially true down the stretch, as polling began to suggest that Clinton was going to win.

(That’s when Candidate Gore became “Ozone Man.” That’s when the stories began to spread about the time Candidate Clinton, then a Rhodes Scholar in England, had gone to the Soviet Union.)

That said, we couldn’t help wondering: did Candidate Bush’s standard stump speech include lines about “rural America, real America?” If memory serves, voters were pandered to by Bush that year. But is it true that they were pandered to in that particular way?

O’Hehir put quotation marks around his four-word phrase. Except when haters get their hate on, that means the person in question actually said the actual words inside the actual marks.

In this case, O’Hehir was a bit fuzzy in his claim, as such people often are. We were told that Bush had lines about that quoted phrase in his stump speech. Did Bush’s stump speech have any such lines? We summoned our research cadre.

In fairness to the overwrought O’Hehir, who suggests that he may be working from memory, it’s impossible to prove that a candidate didn’t say something. That is especially true if we’re going back 21 years.

That said, let’s get literal, and let’s do the best we can. The Nexis archive includes no record of Candidate Bush ever using the phrase O’Hehir gave the impression of quoting: “rural America, real America.” That certainly looks like a quotation. But the Nexis archive records no instance in which the quotation was quoted.

That doesn’t mean it never was said, although we’ll guess it wasn’t. Searching further, we split that apparent quotation into its two parts.

Bush was sometimes quoted referring to “rural America,” as candidates always do. But uh-oh! In the Washington Post, the AP and the New York Times, we could find only one instance where Bush was quoted referring to the “real America.”

Beyond that, only one such statement by Bush turns up in the Nexis archive of news broadcasts from that year. In September, with the race slipping away, CNN recorded the candidate saying this:
ANCHOR DAVID FRENCH (9/26/92): Questions about the past continue to dog both presidential candidates. For President Bush, it's the Iran-Contra affair and how much he knew about it. CNN's Mary Tillotson reports the issue keeps seeping into the campaign.

TILLOTSON: President Bush is traveling in a time warp, by train this weekend, borrowing a page from Harry Truman's historic comeback campaign of 1948, hoping for the same happy ending too.

BUSH (videotape): And now we're off to Marysville and Arlington and Bowling Green and then on into Michigan, the heart of America, the real America, and with this spirit we see here today, we are going to win this election. Thank you all very much.

TILLOTSON (videotape): If there's one issue that concerns you about this election, it is?

OHIO CITIZEN (videotape): The economy and how it affects me when I raise my kids.

OHIO CITIZEN (videotape): I think jobs. Jobs are the most important thing right now. I have a lot of friends who are out of work.

TILLOTSON: Here in Ohio, unemployment is 7.6 percent, the national average. Ohio's a bellwether state that went for George Bush in 1988 but polls this year are showing Ohio may be Clinton country. Next door in Michigan where Mr. Bush campaigned Sunday, unemployment is even higher and so are Clinton's chances of winning. The President's mission as he rides the rails this weekend—persuade voters Clinton would be a change for the worse, not the better.

BUSH (videotape): And he's not going to stop at just taxing the rich, he's going to raise taxes on the middle and I'm not going to let him do it.

TILLOTSON: While Mr. Bush is telling voters not to trust Clinton, a new CNN-Time poll says a lot of voters do not trust Mr. Bush's contention that he was 'out of the loop' on the Iran-Contra scandal...
According to Bush, Ohio and Michigan were “the heart of America, the real America.” For ourselves, we regard that rather familiar type of statement as an obvious form of pandering.

But here’s something else we regard as pandering: relying on your sacred memory to embellish a statement like that. Then using the embellished quote to tell gullible liberals that it helps us see that “a great many white people”—all in the other tribe, of course—find it “profoundly troubling” that white births are now a minority.

O’Hehir has no f*cking idea who does or doesn’t think that. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He is simply pimping hate speech, the way Dr. King never did.

In all honesty, O’Hehir’s entire piece reads like something composed on some compromised acid. The following passage precedes the paragraph we’ve already quoted. O’Hehir, a genuine flyweight, records the way the film about MOVE hit him:
O’HEHIR: Welcome to America, people, where the past, as Faulkner famously observed, is not even past. That wrenching story of hope and hatred from 28 years ago hit me especially hard in this year of white rage and white derangement, the year of George Zimmerman and Paula Deen and a government shutdown engineered entirely by a small group of congressmen who represent a lily-white, neo-Confederate nation within a nation. Half a century of evil and insidious racial politicking has brought us to this point of right-wing wish-fulfillment apocalypse, along with the profoundly racist congressional gerrymander of 2010 and the creeping fear among many white Americans that the country they thought they understood—thought they owned—has been yanked out from under their feet.
Was this “the year of Paula Deen?” You really have to be obsessed to write something as silly as that—obsessed, or a pandering clown.

O’Hehir is such a person! Quickly, he moves to the claim that the people our tribe hates are “a lily-white, neo-Confederate nation within a nation.” We’re not sure what “lily-white” means at this point, but the so-called Tea Party plainly isn’t all white. And when we start throwing “Confederate” around, aren’t we dropping the domestic equivalent of “Nazi,” the ultimate N-bomb?

By the way: How would liberals react to the claim that some branch of the Democratic Party is “jet black?” And by the way: what makes the 2010 redistricting profoundly racist? Eventually, the R-bomb isn’t enough for desperate haters like these. They have to find ways to jack up their claims, sending more rush through their veins.

Hannity is an obvious hustler. O’Hehir is a rather obvious nut. This is the way he follows his claim that Candidate Bush went around talking about “rural America, real America:”
O’HEHIR: Of course “real America” hasn’t been rural since the 19th century, and white panic about the changing nature of American society goes clear back to “No Irish Need Apply,” the “gentleman’s agreement” that barred Jews from elite universities and the housing covenants that prevented black families from moving to the suburbs even in states where there was never legal segregation. (F. Scott Fitzgerald specifically mocks this racial paranoia in the character of Tom Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby,” published in 1925.) Every time we suppress that stuff in American life, it comes boiling back up in a different form, and the government shutdown strikes me as a long-delayed sequel to Pickett’s Charge, a self-appointed and doomed crusade on behalf of White America, flipping the multicultural usurpers the double-handed bird as it burns down the house. It would almost be noble, if it weren’t evil and pathetic and damaging.
It’s certainly true that racial and religious bigotry play key roles in American history. But is there really a “white panic” going on about the changing nature of American society? O’Hehir uses episodes from our brutal history to let him advance his hate-filled claims, which the rubes will gratefully purchase. And eventually, for people like this, it’s all about the way a bunch of things “strike you.”

Good lord! Inside O’Hehir’s very weak brain, the current government shutdown “strikes him” as a version of a battle from—what else?—the Civil War! But then, everything that happens on earth “strikes” this overwrought fellow that way! That’s what it means to be obsessed, to be driven by the love of hate.

(Quick note to the flyweight O’Hehir: being “struck” a certain way isn't a form of evidence!)

If you really want to punish yourself, read O’Hehir’s entire piece, including the part where he aligns himself with Walsh’s mind-reading from last week. You might even click the link to his recent piece about New Orleans and Detroit, where his ability to construct pleasing racial narratives is shown to its fullest advantage.

Anyone can “prove” any thesis if they’re allowed to trip in these ways. If they’re allowed to mind-read the thoughts of millions of people they can’t even name, people they love to hate.

Does race play a role in American life? Yes, it certainly does! By light years, race has been the most destructive force in our brutal American history.

Here’s something else that has played a key role in our history—hatred, especially hatred of groups. Gullible liberals learn that kind of hate at the brain-dead new Salon.

Dr. King didn’t play it this way. Tomorrow, we’ll recall some of the things that famous man actually said. For today, let’s peruse a few of the barkers’ favorite things.

Last night, Hannity played the rubes for the ten millionth time about the deficit and the debt. We don’t know if his viewers are “nihilistic.” But they’re certainly disinformed!

Hannity constantly cons the rubes. So do the ridiculous haters at the new Salon.

Tomorrow: Things Dr. King once said

In RE the statements of Candidate Bush: Back in 1992, what did Bush say in his stump speech?

We’d be happy to find out. Do you think O’Hehir checked?

For extra credit, here's Anthony Lewis, trashing Bush for the way he campaigned as the campaign ended.


  1. Perhaps, Bob, you should read the Friedman's sentence immediately following the one you highlighted. Namely: "(I wouldn’t exaggerate this, but I think Boehner underestimates how many mainstream Republicans feel their party is being stolen from them by radicals—and hunger for a leader who will take them on.)"

  2. If you're concerned about long-term debt, that's a good thing to be concerned about. But don't pretend as if America's going bankrupt at a time when the deficits have been cut in half.

    Mr. Obama didn't lie, but he was misleading. Here's why:
    1. The national debt is enormous
    2. The unfunded liability is stupendous
    3. Even though the deficit is half of what it was at some point in time, it's still very large by historical standards.
    4. The drop in the deficit is not expected to continue. The government's long-term projections show the deficit going up.

    See http://pjmedia.com/blog/debt-limit-huh-unfunded-liabilities-dwarf-16-7-trillion-ceiling/

    1. "enormous" "stupendous" "still very large" "going up" "pj media"

      It's impossible to take you seriously.

    2. 1. The national debt is not enormous. During the 1970's it was below 40% of GDP, rising to between 60% and 70% during the boom years of the 1990's. It stands at 73% now.

      2. Your link for stupendous unfunded liability takes us eventually to Red State, a rightard blog. Don't be offended if I disregard a site noted for bullshit.

      3. The deficit is not very large by historical standards. For the first three quarters of 2013 it's 4.5% of GDP. The average annual deficit 1980-2010 is 3.5%. During the pre-crash years of the budgets of the WPE, it ranged from 1.8% to 5.2%.

      4. Deficits will definitely go up if the Republicans force a default and increase our borrowing costs, which are about zero now.

      DAinCA, don't you ever tire of being duped by the people who pick your pocket?

    3. "It stands at 73% now."

      Nearly doubled under Obama. But I think people overestimate the effect on the economy of whoever the president is at the time.

      "Deficits will definitely go up if the Republicans ..."

      The CBO expects the deficit to begin to go up again in 2016 and beyond, based on current policies.

    4. Nope. This isn't true of the debt or the deficit. The last budget of the WPE was in effect in 2010. Because of the way the US runs its fiscal year, a new President's first year is governed by the previous President's last budget. In 2010, the debt was $1.3T or 93% of GDP. It's just north of $1.6T now or 73% of GDP.

      The deficit hit a high of 10% of GDP in 2009. The deficit as a percentage of GDP has dropped under Obama's budgets.

    5. "In 2010, the debt was $1.3T or 93% of GDP. It's just north of $1.6T now or 73% of GDP."

      You must have meant "deficit" here, not "debt". Last time the debt was below $2T was around 1986 or so.

      By any measure, the debt is up steeply under Obama.

      As to the deficit, are you saying the CBO did not say what was claimed?

    6. deadrat -- Wikipedia says, "The United States' nominal GDP was estimated to be $16.62 trillion in 2012,"

      So, the national debt of $17 trillion is around 100% of GNP. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_United_States

    7. Anonymous @ 4:44P. Yes, my error. Debt for deficit there.

      But again, the debt is up under Obama -- no surprise since we're still recovering from a depression. But not steeply. Obama's responsibility starts in 2010. His first year in office, like all recent Presidents, is spent under the budget and economic policies of his predecessor.

    8. "Obama's responsibility starts in 2010."

      Sure, some policy and economy wonks might say so, but this blog is about journalists and punditry, they don't apply this "rule" evenly by any means, and it's not at all settled that this way of looking at it is correct in all respects.

      "His first year in office, like all recent Presidents, is spent under the budget and economic policies of his predecessor."

      See above about wonks vs. journalists and punditry thinking this way. And I would add markets, whose immediate reactions to policies in his first year or so result in immediate effects on GDP, tax receipts, etc.

      Are you yourself going to stick to technicalities like this as politics ebb and flow? The journalists and punditry certainly don't.

    9. Anonymous @6:50A,

      Yeah, I'm gonna stick to the "technicality" of being right. This blog isn't about journalism and punditry. It's about journalists and pundits being too lazy or incompetent to get things right.

      You've been bitten in the ass by irony. Feel it?

    10. "Yeah, I'm gonna stick to the "technicality" of being right."

      OK, Put up or shut up: On what exact date did the debt and deficit switch from belonging to Bush to belonging to Obama? And who is it who says it is so? And explain why we **all** are bound to agree to that date just because your reference says so? Thanks in advance!

    11. "Because of the way the US runs its fiscal year, a new President's first year is governed by the previous President's last budget."

      And this is total BS from the beginning, a President has wide lattitude in making executive orders and altering how all of the various departments enforce or don't enforce the legal code on they very day he is inaugurated, thus changing the debt and deficit numbers.

    12. "OK, Put up or shut up:"


  3. Are O'Hehir and Friedman representative of "liberal" journalism? Friedman is disdained by most liberals I know of as a journalistic hack in thrall to the plutocracy. I never heard of O'Hehir till reading Bob's posts. And I rather doubt that even the two combined have anything like the influence on their readers that Hannity has on his viewers and listeners.
    Talk about over-generalizing about whole groups of people, "liberals" and "liberal journalists".

    1. No "liberal" writer has the audience of the conservative pundits. Are you suggesting that Salon is not positioning itself as a liberal website?

    2. I am sure Salon positions itself as a liberal website. I just don't think that many liberal readers actually take most of its contributors very seriously. To generalize from enthusiastic readers of O'Hehir and Friedman to liberal readers generally -- well, as someone who is shrewd about statistical samples when it comes to educational testing, Mr. Somerby should be more careful about the sweeping conclusions he draws from his small sample.

    3. Friedman is a neocon elite while O'Hehir is a film critic. It is intellectually dishonest to position them as liberal voices.

    4. icommentthereforeiamOctober 9, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      mch good

  4. "the Joan Walshes of our sad, slow-witted tribe"

    "Salon crackpot Andrew O’Hehir."

    "he enjoys letting his freak flag fly"

    "Walsh’s hate-filled mind-reading"

    "Walsh is blatantly out of her mind"

    "he doesn’t have the first f*cking idea what he’s talking about"

    "gullible liberals" (Gee, Bob. What is the EXACT number of "gullible liberals" O'Hehir is telling this to?)

    "He is simply pimping hate speech,"

    "O’Hehir, a genuine flyweight,"

    "You really have to be obsessed to write something as silly as that—obsessed, or a pandering clown."

    "O’Hehir is a rather obvious nut."

    "O’Hehir’s very weak brain,"

    "That’s what it means to be obsessed, to be driven by the love of hate."

    "Gullible liberals learn that kind of hate at the brain-dead new Salon."

    And of course, all neatly wrapped up with: "Dr. King didn't play it this way."

    Well, here's a clue for you Bob. I'm sure your piece will play well with what's left of your "tribe." But Dr. King didn't exactly play it YOUR way, either.

    1. "That’s what it means to be obsessed, to be driven by the love of hate."
      Indeed, Bob. Indeed. #glasshouse #potkettle

    2. When did Somerby ever claim to be MLK, leading a crusade for civil rights against a large and hostile opposition?

      Somerby is attempting to get his readers to use critical thinking. He wants them to recognize the ploys and self-defeating approaches of political writers. He is not and has never claimed to be MLK. He is not even Rachel Maddow -- he is not attempting to mobilize the left to address social problems. He is a media critic and observer of the political press on the left. He is talking about the tactics that would best serve those trying to achieve social change -- not trying to lead such a movement himself. He doesn't have to be MLK in order to suggest that those wanting to walk in MLK's footsteps should adopt his approach.

      I see this repeated criticism that Bob is insufficiently MLK-like in his own writing, as another attack by those who dislike his criticism, an attempt to silence him (because who is ever sufficiently MLK-like to ever open his mouth). It is tiresome and off-topic because the point is whether our left-journalism is doing its job informing the public, not whether Bob is enough like MLK to ever voice a criticism of that media.

      It is encouraging that Somerby has attained enough visibility to attract dedicated critics. I wish they weren't all schizophrenic. But this noise-machine in the comments is tiresome and interferes with real discussion here.

    3. Yet another Kreskin. Why aren't you at the track making some real money?

    4. Oh, good grief, Lindy.

      How many days has Somerby been using MLK as the model for how "liberals" should behave?

      Unfortunately, that model apparently only applies to others, not to himself.

      What is the word for that? Oh yeah. "Hypocrisy."

    5. ATTENTION BOBfans and Critical Thinkers:

      For a schizophrenic-free real discussion thread, allow a link to the lyrical literary sytling of Lionel and Lindy:


      KZ (Just back from a glimpse of the fiords!)

    6. "Somerby is attempting to get his readers to use critical thinking."

      Reminds me of the line from Rush Limbaugh when a caller asked for help after a friend accused him of parroting Limbaugh and losing his critical thinking skills:

      RUSH: "The next time anyone says you can't think for yourself, tell them this . . ."

    7. I don't know how someone can be critical of the argument that Somerby is supposed to treat media members and the intelligentsia as though they are the local yokels of the world.

      I don't know how they could cast doubt on the implication that his telling his fellow liberals that they are being dumbed-downed and demagogued as conservatives have long been, constitutes a nastiness as mendacious as labeling half the country as white supremacists.

      How, oh how, could anyone snicker at these irrational theatrics?...

    8. Of course you can't Cecelia.

      Just like you can't see the irony of someone who call those he disagrees with every name in the book because the people he disagrees with supposedly call others every name in the book.

      Why, that's not how Dr. King did it!

    9. Anonymous @ 2:20 and Cecelia @2:09

      I think I spotted sparks of humanity in both your comments. Was I right to do that?

      Zarkon (Dazed by fatigue, yet brimming with zealous optimism)

    10. Anonymous 2:20, irony in hyperbole like yours?


    11. Cecelia @ 3:17

      Those sparks I spotted are turning into hunka hunka hunks of burning love.


    12. You've said the same of your poo, KZ.

    13. icommentthereforeiamOctober 9, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      irishguy good

  5. I remember Mary Tillotson of CNN. She asked Bush the Elder about whether he'd ever had "sexual trysts" (such a memorable way to put it) and her question was based on a book that quoted a dead man. This was after Hillary Clinton had egged on the press that they should be asking Bush about "his Jennifer" to a Vanity Fair reporter. (after the revelations of taped conversations between Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers)

  6. I don't know whether the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare is a good thing or not and neither does anyone. Bob is just wrong about whether "hustlers" like Hannity or whoever are abusing their listeners about it. We do not know what the impact of this law will be on the quality or availability of healthcare in the US. If you have a family member with a serious illness/serious medical history, it makes you nervous.

    Watching the spitefulness of closing down open air monuments in this shutdown does not give me any confidence that government should be more involved in healthcare else they'll hold it hostage to demanding more taxes to spend on whatever they want.

    1. "We do not know what the impact of this law will be on the quality or availability of healthcare in the US. If you have a family member with a serious illness/serious medical history, it makes you nervous."

      We do not know, but somehow, Hannity knows? How does he know? And that family member with a serious illness/medical history? I'd say they have probably been nervous for years, under they existing system.

    2. Hannity doesn't know either. There.

      The point is that it is not any kind of hatefulness for anyone to worry that the ACA will hurt them or a loved one. At this point, no one knows. I heard the other day that the prices being quoted are not firm quotes.

  7. Something happened in the run up to the Iraq War that was very instructive as to how the mainstream press operates to manipulate the official public discourse, i.e., talking to themselves:

    Judith Miller was meeting up with Scooter Libby and he gave her stories and she put them in the NY Times and then Dick Cheney went on Meet the Press and claimed the stories must be true because they were in the NY Times.

    So it is with crap like the "liberal" obsession with opponents being obsessed about "miscegenation." In relation to Obama its that "birther" issue. Who put that Russian dentist lady Orly Taitz all over TV for a year or so talking about Obama's birth certificate? The liberal media, that's who. Why put a Russian dentist on TV? Who was she that the whole country had to know her? They created and hyped Obama birtherism as a national issue and then attacked people who thought there must be something there if the media is spending so much time on it.

    Seymour Hersh is coming out with a book that includes criticism of the Osama bin Laden death story as a "big lie," "nothing about it is true." How many times will he get on Anderson Cooper? I've a hunch he won't get nearly as much airtime as Orly Taitz.

    In his autobiography, Obama includes a story about his white grandmother that implies racism on her part and his rendition of the story is not truthful. (She wasn't afraid of some guy hanging around her bus stop because he was black; she was afraid of a black guy who was a threatening, creepy character.) Are people wrong to think it says something quite unpleasant about Obama to have attacked his grandmother like that?

  8. The ACA is about health insurance, not health care. If you have family members with "serious" medical histories that brand them with a pre-existing condition, you should be panicked under the current system, not nervous about the new system that takes effect next year.

    How about the "spitefulness" of closing down the NIH and the NTSB?

  9. I'm pretty sure I've read that the House passed a bill funding the NIH and the Senate has not taken it up. That was when Harry Reid told the CNN reporter that he wouldn't save one child with cancer because he has 1300 people shut down at Nellis AFB and they "have their own problems."

    deadrat, I don't know how much experience you have with insurance and healthcare. My experience is that your insurance very much impacts your healthcare, the more so if you have serious illness.

    1. I'm pretty sure that they way things are supposed to work is that funding is decided by majority rule in both houses of Congress, not by one house threatening to wreck the economy and credit of the United States.

      If you have insurance now, you may keep it. So I don't see how the ACA "impacts" your healthcare if you have insurance. If you can't get insurance now, then you should be able to afford some. So your "impact" should be positive if you can't afford insurance.

    2. Healthcare is very complex when you have serious illness/medical history. Of course, there will be unintended consequences of this law.

    3. I just didn't expect one of those consequences to be the shutdown of the government and the default of the US on its debts.

  10. I'm sure the feds have plenty of receipts to service the debt without raising the debt ceiling. Let's try this as an illustration.

    Let's pretend a full moon came out and we all turned into doctinaire libertarians and decided to cut the budget down to what doc libs consider legitimate government functions; say, courts and military. No tax cuts for them moment, but let's say we spend the rest of the dough on servicing the outstanding debt and paying it down. No need to raise debt ceilings, naturally. The treasury, for the time being, is out of the business of selling T-bonds and is restricted to buying back thems what's already out there.

    What would happen to the economy as the national debt declines toward pre-Reagan levels? (Please, no scenes of libertarian paradises or 2012 Mayan apocalypses. What would realistically happen?)

    1. Hard to say but here is some economic history from Prof. Randall Wray:

      ...2. With one brief exception, the federal government has been in debt every year since 1776. In January 1835, for the first and only time in U.S. history, the public debt was retired, and a budget surplus was maintained for the next two years in order to accumulate what Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury called "a fund to meet future deficits." In 1837 the economy collapsed into a deep depression that drove the budget into deficit, and the federal government has been in debt ever since. Since 1776 there have been exactly seven periods of substantial budget surpluses and significant reduction of the debt. From 1817 to 1821 the national debt fell by 29 percent; from 1823 to 1836 it was eliminated (Jackson's efforts); from 1852 to 1857 it fell by 59 percent, from 1867 to 1873 by 27 percent, from 1880 to 1893 by more than 50 percent, and from 1920 to 1930 by about a third. Of course, the last time we ran a budget surplus was during the Clinton years....

      3. The United States has also experienced six periods of depression. The depressions began in 1819, 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893, and 1929. (Do you see any pattern? Take a look at the dates listed above.) With the exception of the Clinton surpluses, every significant reduction of the outstanding debt has been followed by a depression, and every depression has been preceded by significant debt reduction. The Clinton surplus was followed by the Bush recession, a speculative euphoria, and then the collapse in which we now find ourselves. The jury is still out on whether we might manage to work this up to yet another great depression. While we cannot rule out coincidences, seven surpluses followed by six and a half depressions (with some possibility for making it the perfect seven) should raise some eyebrows. And, by the way, our less serious downturns have almost always been preceded by reductions of federal budget deficits....


    2. What would happen? I wouldn't want to fly or eat a hamburger.

    3. icommentthereforeiamOctober 9, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      jeeves stump, severe decline in aggregate demand causing a depression.

  11. Aren't there some nice conservative web sites where you can discuss these questions?

  12. deadrat, I know you are a thoughtful, knowledgeable commenter, but I was disappointed when you wrote: "Your link for stupendous unfunded liability takes us eventually to Red State, a rightard blog. Don't be offended if I disregard a site noted for bullshit."

    I see your comment as an excuse to ignore a serious problem. If you had another source that you preferred with a different figure for unfunded federal liability, that would be one thing. But, because the sources you trust tend not to focus on this figure, you're using that as an excuse to ignore it entirely.

    That's unfortunate. I assume you believe the federal government should continue to support education, welfare, food stamps, medical research, college loans, etc., etc., and all the other things it currently does. If not dealt with, this enormous and rapidly growing unfunded liability means that over a period of years, our government will have less and less money to provide these types of services.

    1. DAinCA, I know that you're a thoughtless and ignorant commenter. Mostly because I read your comments. You made three claims and a prediction. I ignored the prediction, 'cause no one knows the "long term" future. Two of your three claims are absurdly wrong, easily refuted by a look at reliable sources. You didn't even bother to check them. If you want to argue that there are "stupendous" underfunded liabilities, you're gonna have to argue from facts. The same way I do. Links to rightard blogs don't cut it. And as experience shows, you'll believe anything that agrees with your prejudices.

      So have at it. Do it right; be sure to normalize; show your work.


    2. Tom Maguire has written two pieces on the NYT piece that Somerby has referenced.

      Here's the second one.


    3. Cecelia, can't get the link to work.

    4. mch, Try taking off the final period before html.

    5. mch, Oops! the final period after html.

    6. The first tinyurl link I posted was just a joke.

      If you mean the Maguire link, here:


  13. It should be allowed for The Daily Howler to celebrate the standards of Dr King and fail to meet them himself; the problem is it's hard to feel like he's really much trying.
    Friedman is applying the word Nihilism in a casual fashion that we may forgive him for as it is done rather often. No, the Tea Party don't SEE themselves as nihilists, few people outside "The Big Lebowski" do. Friedman suggests that there beliefs are applied so lazily, with such disregard for consistency of any kind that they might as well believe in nothing. Listen to Michelle Bachman, whom supposedly rational people sent to hold public office, and it's fairly easy to understand. Or, one might speculate, can we really accept The Daily Howler believes in the lessons of Dr. King, when he makes no real effort to follow them.

  14. Coming back late to check out the comments here, this old lady is remembering her, my, mother (b. 1918 -- in rural Virginia, btw, because her own mother was from there -- long story, involving my NYC grandfather and WWI, the influenza epidemic, the habit then of women going "home to mother" to give birth). My mother was a liberal Republican in the 1950's and much of the '60's, who became a Democrat by the late 1960's and who, in her final years (she died in 2003), was a very liberal Democrat by the standards of 2003. Not that the substratum of her political views had actually changed all that much over the years. Rather, the world around her changed, and hence her position in it.

    Maybe because she was blessed with growing up in NYC and was a New Yorker through and through, even as a Republican in the 1940's my mother was very friendly with the American Communist Party folks who lived in her building. (She was a warm and friendly person, as no doubt were many of those communists.) In fact, the Party (or some sub-group?) had a headquarters there, which gives the setting for my story.

    My (older) sister, when 3 or 4, surprised an extended family-friend gathering one night by singing long snatches of the Internationale, which she'd apparently learned through the walls.

    My mother, let me stress (though this should be obvious) was far from a fan of the American Communist Party, quite apart from her completely different ideological take on the world -- for instance, she disdained their switch from isolationism to interventionism as soon as Germany and the Soviet Union became enemies.

    So, my mother's response to my sister's learning the Internationale through the walls? She thought it was a real hoot, as did all the adults present.

    Time was (times were) when the center of discourse was so to the left of what it is today.

    I could go back in time or proceed forward in it to, say, the New Left v. Old Left battles of the 1960's, but hey, that would involve trying to lure Bob and Bob's readers into some actual American history beyond Martin Luther King, Jr. and Al Gore. Beyond the tortured usage of terms like "liberal" and "conservative" in use today.

  15. deadrat, here's another way to look at the current economic concerns.
    In the last 2 years, national debt rose twice as much as GNP.


    1. DAinCA,

      Yeah. Fox News. Didja even read what I said about Red State?

      Get back to me when you can think and argue for yourself. As an exercise 1) actually check for yourself about the numbers. Remember to normalize and 2) answer the question why debt rises more than output during a depression and its aftermath