Baltimoreans keep saying the darnedest things!


Ben Carson talks of the animals: Ben Carson did it again this week. In this morning’s Washington Post, his apology is reported by the Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik:
ZURAWIK (3/30/13): Hopkins surgeon Ben Carson apologizes for ‘choice of words’ on gay marriage

Benjamin Carson, the famed Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, apologized Friday for his “choice of words” and use of examples in discussing gay marriage on Fox News earlier in the week.

During Sean Hannity’s show Tuesday, when asked about the matter before the Supreme Court, Carson said: “Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”

The comparison of gays to members of the North American Man/Boy Love Association and those who engage in bestiality set off a backlash of criticism in the media, online and on campus.
There he went again! In his use of NAMBLA and bestiality as points of comparison, Carson was repeating one of the dumbest talking-points from the whole talk radio/Fox News empire.

Carson is a famous neurosurgeon—but when it comes to political speech, he’s one of the dumbest people on earth. He doesn’t just repeat talking-points. He repeats the dumbest available!

As Carson continued speaking with Zurawik, he continued to display his overt political dumbness:
ZURAWIK: “I think people have completely taken the wrong meaning out of what I was saying,” the 61-year-old surgeon said in a telephone interview Friday. “First of all, I certainly believe gay people should have all the rights that anybody else has.”

He added, “Now, perhaps, the examples were not the best choice of words, and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone.”

Carson said: “But the point that I was making was that no group of individuals, whoever they are, whatever their belief systems, gets to change traditional definitions.”
In our view, the whole “definition of marriage” framework is pretty dumb in itself, though mainstream figures also employ it. But it seems that Carson had no idea how people would react to his choice of examples.

That makes him very dumb when it comes to American politics.

We’ll say again what we’ve said before. These episodes suggest a fascinating fact about the past role of gatekeepers:

For decades, Walter and David and other elites screened the things we the people heard in the political realm. There were crazy ideas abroad in the land, but you had to work hard to hear them.

Today, the gatekeepers are largely gone—and there are giant corporate entities devoted to spreading crazy ideas. They are spreading their crazy ideas all day long, all week.

We liberals like to criticize such entities on the right. But we are now actively developing Our Own Very Dumb Ideas.

Here’s the interesting part:

Presumably, Carson is very bright in the simple IQ sense. But even people with high IQs can’t separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to political speech.

Walter and David no longer keep Ben from hearing all those crazy ideas. And uh-oh! Left on his own, it’s fairly clear that Ben can’t see that these ideas are crazy.

For decades, we were protected from crazy ideas. Now, we’re out there on our own, and our powers of discernment seem to be quite weak.

Today's philosophical question: When women won the right to vote, did that "change the definition of voting?"

Debate and discuss, with reference to things you hear people saying on Fox.

THE ROAD TO IRAQ: Chris Matthews and The Donahue Rules!


Epilogue—Rules of the road: Was Chris Matthews a lonely voice against the war in the months before Iraq?

Well actually no, he actually wasn’t, despite the bullshit you may have heard on MSNBC.

In the past week, Matthews and David Corn got busy spreading the latest false claims about the road to Iraq. It’s amazing how often we liberals get conned when we watch The One True Liberal Channel.

What was happening at MSNBC as the war with Iraq drew near? Consider the things Jeff Cohen said in his 2006 book, Cable News Confidential.

Today, Cohen is one of them perfesser fellers, at Ithaca College. Back then, he was the founder of the media watchdog site, FAIR. He’s one of the brightest and leftiest people who ever appeared on cable news on a regular basis.

In 2002, Cohen left FAIR to work as a senior producer on MSNBC’s new Donahue program. In his 2006 book, he described the way the channel’s executives struggled to keep the program on a more rightward, more pro-war track.

Cohen’s account received almost no mainstream attention. In the wake of Matthews’ latest bogus claims, we thought it might be worth reviewing a few of the things Cohen said.

“In November 2002, management essentially seized control of Donahue in a quiet coup,” Cohen wrote in his book. He offered this example:
COHEN (page 176): In December [2002], one management dictate became near sacred. It was stated and restated to everyone on staff, and producers who did not fulfill the mandate were chewed out by management: Debates on political topics had to be imbalanced. You read that right: not balanced. If we booked one guest who was antiwar on Iraq, we needed two who were prowar. If we booked two guests on the left, we needed three on the right. At one staff meeting, a producer proposed booking Michael Moore and was told she’d need three rightwingers for balance.

I thought about proposing Noam Chomsky as a guest, but our stage couldn’t accommodate the 23 right-wingers we would have needed for balance.
The remark about Chomsky was a joke. The statement about the requirement for unbalanced panels was not. A bit later on the same page, Cohen explained the reasoning behind this edict:

“When Donahue producers asked for reasoning behind the right-tilting guest list,” Cohen wrote, network executives “half-heartedly argued that since Phil is a liberal, he should be counted as a left advocate in calculating left-right balance.”

In fairness, this reasoning isn’t completely daft, if you insist on presenting ideologically balanced panels. (We would assume that similar thinking explains the frequent tilt of George Stephanopoulos’ panels on This Week.) But as Cohen notes, there is no reason why a liberal host like Donahue shouldn’t produce a liberal-leaning program, in which various presentations might tilt toward guests on the left.

At any rate, that was Cohen's account of the rules of the road as war with Iraq approached. A bit later, he described where this management edict led:
COHEN (page 181): In December 2002, under management’s firm command, Donahue marched onward and rightward. Instead of comprehensive interviews with Barbara Ehrenreich or Michael Moore, we now featured a show-length interview with Jerry Falwell. A debate on gender equality—headlined “Are Women Getting a Free Ride?—pitted one feminist against several antifeminists.
Cohen describes an array of horrible programs with heavily unbalanced panels. We were struck by the reference to Falwell because of the Hardball program of December 6, whose heavily unbalanced guest list we described yesterday.

Falwell appeared on that Hardball program, part of a blizzard of super-right guests. We’ll take a wild and crazy guess:

Presumably, Matthews was operating under the same corporate strictures as Donahue; presumably, Hardball was playing by The Donahue Rules too. And despite all the bullshit he churned last week, Matthews was keeping his own mouth shut about any antiwar views he himself may have had.

Matthews was not a lonely voice in the run-up to the war in Iraq, except when speaking to small groups of college students or when interviewing for Salon. In the case of that interview, he pretended that he had been speaking out on the air—and he pretended that no one else had done that.

Each of those statements was plainly bogus. But so what? Joan Walsh simply typed them up! Today, she’s a cable news star!

Cohen is very smart and very forthright. We have no doubts about his honesty, and the highly unbalanced Donahue panels were there for all to see. (For one example, see below.)

In 2006, Cohen presented his account of what happened inside this channel’s corporate structure. But his revelations received virtually no mainstream coverage.

According to Nexis, Cohen’s book has never been mentioned in the Washington Post or the New York Times. The AP’s David Bauder reported Cohen's claims in October 2006. According to Nexis, virtually no other mainstream press figure ever did.

Last week, helped by this blanket of silence, Matthews told his latest set of preposterous lies. On the brighter side, David Corn was there to help him.

Presumably, Chris Hayes knew the truth, but he didn’t tattle. It’s amazing how often we liberals get conned while watching The One True Channel.

Regarding that debate on gender equality: Regarding that “debate on gender equality,” Cohen was referring to the December 18, 2002 Donahue program.

According to the official guest list presented on Nexis, by “several” he may have meant seven! On the feminist side, Gloria Allred did the full hour. Waves of guests were deployed against her:
Official guest list, Donahue program, 12/18/02
Gloria Allred, feminist attorney
Warren Farrell, author of The Myth of Male Power
Greg Gutfeld, editor-in-chief of Stuff magazine [sic]
Marc Angelucci, National Coalition of Free Men
Peter Allemando, National Coalition of Free Men
Thabiti Boone, successful single father
David Friedman, father whose wife was allowed to quit her job at the time of their divorce
Bob Rosenberg, captain of St. John’s University’s defunct football team
As noted, Allred did the full hour. It’s possible to have a decent program with a heavily unbalanced guest list. Some of the “antifeminist” complaints may have been perfectly sensible.

That said, MSNBC aired a lot of very bad programs in the run-up to war in Iraq. Many such shows were aired by Matthews, who practically begged for instant war on the day of Colin Powell’s UN presentation.

Matthews can never be believed, even when other corporate hirelings help him tell his tales. It’s amazing how often we liberals get conned during an evening of tribal joy on The One True Liberal Channel.

Nor will you ever read about this at your favorite career liberal sites. We liberals are treated as playthings, as fools, just as gullible conservatives get played by the hacks on the right.

Kevin Drum was a naughty lad!

FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2013

Gives voice to a Beltway script: Yesterday, Irvine, California’s Kevin Drum was a naughty lad.

We aren’t talking about the way he edited David Brody. We’re talking about this post, in which he said that simple-minded polling figures can’t tell you whether various gun measures are going to pass.

Naughty lad! When Drum said that, he may well have given voice to a Beltway script of the Beltway press. In the process, he may have advanced Beltway common wisdom!

In a remarkably low-IQ manner, Rachel rails about this every night—on Wednesday night, for instance.

To watch the full segment, just click here. This is horrible work:
MADDOW (3/27/13): We are more than 100 days out now from Newtown. And the Beltway script says we’re all supposed to be over Newtown now, the issue is supposed to return to the quiet stasis of the NRA getting everything it wants, even though it represents only a rump, minority extreme view in a nation that overwhelmingly wants this issue handled in a centrist way.

The Beltway in Washington is trying desperately to follow that same script, but the politics are not necessarily following along. You can say, because you expected it to happen, that the momentum is stopping. But if you actually look at the news, the day-by-day, here-there-and-everywhere, unrelenting, heterogeneous, unpredictable pressure for gun reform is off-script.

Within the last 24 hours, a conservative Democratic senator with an “A” rating from the NRA has just come out in favor of universal background checks, Senator Joe Donnelly, who’s telling local media in his home state of Indiana that he is now supportive of universal background checks. Not only are people not forgetting but things are moving.

And now, factor in a new round of action by the White House. We’re told that in the next few weeks, President Obama himself will hit the road to pressure specific senators to vote for gun reform.

And not exactly separately, you have the organization formerly known as the president’s re-election campaign, Organizing For Action, you have them announcing that tomorrow, they and Mayors Against Illegal Guns are going to hold 100 different events across the country to support efforts against gun violence.

The Beltway common wisdom on gun control is that it’s losing steam as a potent political issue. “Yeah, sure, there was once a roiling boil of urgency after the Newtown massacre. But it’s now a low simmer and the heat’s dropping every day. That’s how it always works, right?”

That’s the line from the Beltway press, but it’s not true this time. We have become a different country these last three months. Newtown changed us. You can tell from the way we’re acting and it doesn’t seem like we are unchanging any time soon.

Now it’s time for The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. Have a great night.
Who could possibly “have a great night” after listening to garbage like that?

According to Rachel, the Beltway press is desperately pushing a Beltway script concerning proposed gun measures. In the process, they're advancing their Beltway common wisdom.

Rather plainly, they’re trying to help the NRA. But alas:

As usual, Rachel didn’t name anyone in the Beltway press who is advancing this Beltway script, desperately or otherwise. She didn’t name anyone during her program. Nor did she provide any links at the relevant MaddowBlog post.

Homey plays this game night after night after night. We’re not sure which is worse—the dumbness of this presentation or its rank dishonesty.

Or its faux bravado!

Go ahead, you darling child! Stand up on your hind legs for once! Who is advancing this Beltway script? Just once, name someone's name!

In truth, Rachel enjoys inventing “Beltway scripts,” which she then attributes to “the Beltway press.” She doesn’t have the courage to name any names, perhaps because there are no names. But she gives her slower viewers the sense that she’s fighting for them hard.

We liberals get to feel persecuted by “the Beltway.” No names or examples required!

We’re sorry, but this darling child isn’t fighting hard when she hands you this nightly puddle of piddle. She isn’t even being smart. She's handing you horrible blather.

What did the liberal world ever do to get saddled with this kind of corporate leadership? This darling child won’t name a name, which leads to a fairly obvious question:

Does any such Beltway script exist? Or has Rachel just made this one up?

THE ROAD TO IRAQ: Covering for Chris Matthews' lies!

FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2013

Part 5—His willing enablers: Was Christopher Matthews a lonely voice against the move to war in Iraq?

On the air, no—he was not. Reading transcripts from the seven months preceding the war, it’s hard to find Matthews behaving in the lonely way he and his willing enablers have recently described, as they create the latest fake stories about the war in Iraq.

Matthews was not a lonely voice on the air; elsewhere, things may have been different. Speaking with Salon’s Joan Walsh, Matthews pretended that he was a lonely voice—the only such voice on TV!

Though she must have known that his claim was false, Walsh—a long-time willing enabler—put his garbage into print on February 14, 2003.

It was Valentine’s Day.

In private, it seems that Matthews may have behaved like a bold anti-war spokesman. Last Friday, Digby reprinted a third-party post from December 2002. This post described the things Matthews was apparently saying in private at that time, to certain types of groups.

The post appeared at the Bartcop site. According to Digby, it came from “a prolific commenter” named Samela, about whose work Digby raves.

In the post, Samela described a small gathering at which Matthews and his wife had spoken. We’ve seen this pair in action ourselves. On this occasion, the Walter Mitty version of Matthews seems to have appeared:
SAMELA (12/02): So, there we are in a room of 30 or 40 people, mostly students but a few others—including an old friend of [his] from their Peace Corps days in Swaziland, where he claimed a lot of "reefer" was exchanged in the middle of the night—and Mr. Matthews and his wife Kathleen (attractive woman, nightly news anchor in D.C., claims to have gotten her start listening to Al Lowenstein speak out against the war in Vietnam back at Stanford) do their shtick for 30 or 40 minutes.

Matthews tells the kids if they have a passion, go for it: "don't leave the violin in the closet" or whatever your violin is, because the only people he knows who are happy are the people who have stuck with their passions. He says watch Hillary Clinton, because this woman has passion and ambition and he has rarely seen anyone as passionate as she is…

So he goes off into this rant about neocons—how the neocons are paralyzing the country. They are "like a disease" he says. The ideological base of the neocons is "scary." He comes back to this later, when someone asks a question about Iraq. And he is bitching about the neocons again—Krauthammer, Kristol, Bennett, and all their crazy front groups, as well as the people in the White House—Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby. Who is this guy, he yells? Who wrote that shit about the axis of evil? You think George Bush thought up that list of countries? Who here, in all honesty, thinks George Bush thought that up himself? He's yelling about the RIGHT WING. He all but calls these guys chicken-hawks: He says they never fought a day in their lives, not even on the playground, and that they would never send their kids to fight. That all they do is write op-eds and think they are tough shit. And he thinks this war is UNAMERICAN, against the whole basis of the US as "reluctant warrior.”
This resembles the type of testimony Matthews gave to Walsh two months later, designed for publication in Salon. That said, Matthews wasn’t saying these things on Hardball in December 2002.

What was Matthews saying and doing on Hardball at that time? Based on a reference in Samela’s post, it seems this meeting must have occurred during the first week in December. Let consider what Matthews did on Hardball on December 6, 2002, the final day of that week.

What did Matthews do on Hardball that night? In his first segment, he discussed President Bush’s firing of Paul O’Neill and Lawrence Lindsey, his chief economic advisers. His guests were Republican senator Orrin Hatch and loudmouth CNBC talker Jim Cramer.

In his second segment, he discussed the same topic with one guest—conservative billionaire Steve Forbes.

In his third segment, he discussed the American economy, again with one guest—Jack Kemp, the Republican candidate for vice president in 1996.

In the fourth segment, he staged a debate between religious leaders about the morality of the impending war. One of the two religious leaders was, of course, Jerry Falwell. (The other was the mild-mannered Robert Edgar.)

Finally, he discussed public opinion with two pollsters: Frank Luntz, the high-ranking Republican pollster, and Pat Caddell, a former Democratic pollster who has become a crackpot conservative critic of his former party.

Hatch, Forbes, Kemp, Falwell, Luntz and Caddell—all in one hour-long program! That’s what Matthews was actually doing on Hardball as he misled that student group in the meeting Samela described.

As Samela’s post continued, she described her own exchange with Matthews at that meeting.

Uh-oh! Samela was aware of the disconnect between the various versions of Matthews. At one point, Matthews screamed and yelled and dissembled about a highly unflattering study. He then blamed his conduct at Hardball on the drive for ratings:
SAMELA: I say I want to ask about how ratings affect his approach to political discourse. I say I have noted, as have many others, that there is a certain disjuncture between the kinds of positions and tone he brings to discussion on his television show, Hardball, and the positions and tone he brings to his syndicated column or his appearances on other shows. I cite, as an example, how a study on media bias in election coverage done by the Project for Excellence in Journalism attributed a full 17% of all negative characterizations of Al Gore in the last election to Hardball. And yet, according to the same article in the Columbia Journalism Review, when he appeared on Charlie Rose in the post-election period, he had nothing but praise for Gore.

Who did that study? he yelled! Did you watch my coverage? Yes, I responded, I watched you in part. And how did you think it was? I said I thought he was throwing some red meat to a particular base. He quieted. Look, I said, what I'm saying is: you wrote a column for the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year on John Kerry that was very thoughtful, especially about his energy policy. But on Hardball, are you going to talk about that or about his haircut like everyone else has been doing today?

Well, he mumbled, "his $150 haircut," mumble mumble. And he laughed. His wife was shocked. She said, is THAT what they've been talking about today? Then she turned to him and asked if he would actually change the content of his positions to respond to a particular television audience.

Look, he said, turning to me. (And I am quoting here! I wrote it down!). "You're a very smart woman. You got me." And he went on to say, look, yeah...the audience for cable is very right-wing, they feel they've been left out and have nowhere else to go. Charlie Rose is not going to make it on cable.
For the record, Matthews’ syndicated column had ended September 1.

We can’t vouch for what happened in that meeting, of course. But in fact, Matthews savaged Candidate Gore for two solid years, presumably at the direction of his owner, GE’s conservative near-billionaire CEO, Jack Welch. The findings of that Project for Excellence study captured a bit of the ugliness and lunacy in which Matthews engaged for those two years, thus sending George Bush to the White House.

According to Samela, Matthews began to shout, challenging the obvious suggestion lodged in that study. But then, Matthews is one of the biggest liars of the modern political age.

This brings us to today’s question: If Matthews is one of our biggest liars; if he has been one of our biggest liars for almost twenty years; then why in the world have you never been told that? Why have you never seen a profile of Matthews' astonishing work?

The answer lies in a long list of names, including the names of your favorite pseudo-liberal stars.

We’ll guess that Matthews was conning Samela as he said his conduct was driven by ratings. But then, Matthews almost never tells the truth.

You’ve never seen that fact discussed because of Matthews’ power.

You can rattle off all their names—the names of the people who actively lie, the names of the people who won’t speak up. It’s stunning to think that no one has ever done an actual profile of Matthews’ astonishing conduct.

That said, no one has ever done that profile. And no one ever will.

Here at THE HOWLER, we spent quite a few years compiling the mountains of garbage he spewed about Candidate Gore. Until we did that, we didn’t know that a person could compile and distribute so much information and have it completely ignored.

The [name withheld]s, the [name withheld]s, the Ezra Kleins? They would jump off the Golden Gate Bridge before they would talk about Matthews.

Josh Marshall would hang himself in the yard before he would tell you the truth. Josh used to be a guest on Hardball! Reliably, Matthews would say he was smart!

(Joy-Ann Reid now appears in that slot. Chris always tells her she's smart.)

Let's get back to the most willing enablers:

Walsh has covered for Matthews for years. She is now a cable star—and she is visibly losing her mind.

Lying affects some people that way. But as the lying drives the Walshes crazy, the Samelas get conned and under-informed every time.

Was Matthews fawning to the right on Hardball due to ratings concerns? For various reasons, we will guess that wasn’t the principal reason. (Read the relevant chapters in Jeff Cohen's book, Cable News Confidential.)

In the last week, Matthews actively spread the latest false tales about the way we went to Iraq. Here's what happened:

David Corn cheered the great man on. Christopher Hayes enabled his bullshit. And no one will ever discuss the facts about what Christopher actually did—to Clinton and Clinton, to Candidate Gore, concerning the war in Iraq.

You live in a heavily stage-managed world. Corn and Hayes are stuffing money into their pants. In such settings, the truth will not be told.

Matthews has been a fraud for twenty years. Within the orbit of career “journalists,” it’s strictly forbidden to say so.

One final note: Darling Rachel won’t tell you either. Think of it as Downton Abbey:

At those levels, among such people, things like that simply aren’t done.

Many other Democrats sinned concerning the DOMA!


In the days when Bill Clinton was young: We’ll have to say, we’re filled with disgust for the tribal practice of hating and hunting in threes.

That said, we thought Peter Baker wrote an interesting history of the Defense of Marriage Act this week—and we don’t mean that as a compliment. Part of what made the report interesting is the material Baker chose to leave out.

Baker’s report appeared on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times. For starters, we were struck by this recollection of the congressional politics of DOMA:
BAKER (3/26/13): Mr. Clinton was the first president to openly court gay Americans...

As a presidential candidate in 1991, Mr. Clinton flew to California for a meeting arranged by the political strategist David Mixner and other gay rights supporters. “They were pretty skeptical of the governor of Arkansas, as you can imagine,” recalled Mickey Kantor, Mr. Clinton’s campaign chairman at the time. But over two and a half hours, Mr. Kantor said Mr. Clinton won them over with “his empathy, his emotional connection.”

He tripped up in the early days of his presidency by underestimating the opposition to opening the military to gays and lesbians and accepted the “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise that required they keep their sexual orientation secret. So when Republicans proposed the Defense of Marriage Act in an election year, Mr. Clinton resolved not to get burned again.

The bill passed with overwhelming margins, enough to override a veto. He hoped to avoid calling attention to it with his post-midnight signature. Mike McCurry, the press secretary, got a call at home asking if they should wait until morning to announce it. “His posture was quite frankly driven by the political realities of an election year in 1996,” Mr. McCurry recalled.
Baker is a bit stingy with his facts at this point. As he notes, the DOMA passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming, veto-proof margins. But he fails to gift us with any numbers or names.

Why embarrass anyone else? People, it just isn't done!

Let’s help. Even Paul Wellstone voted for DOMA—but then, so did a large majority of Democrats in both houses of Congress. By our count, five future Democratic presidential candidates voted in favor of DOMA. So did six Democratic House members who later went to the Senate.

These are just a few of the Democrats who voted in favor of DOMA. Again, this is just a sampling from two much larger groups (links below):
Democrats in the Senate who voted in favor of DOMA:
Biden, Bradley, Daschle, Dodd, Harkin, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Mikulski, Murray, Reid, Rockefeller, Sarbanes, Wellstone

Democrats in the House who voted in favor of DOMA:
Blumenauer, Bonior, Cardin, Clyburn, Cummings, DeLauro, Dicks, Durbin, Fazio, Flake, Frost, Gephardt, Hoyer, Johnson, Kanjorski, Kaptur, Levin, Lowey, Obey, Reed, Rush, Schumer, Torricelli, Wynn
The measure passed the Senate, 85-14. It passed the House, 342-67. Did we mention the fact that Wellstone, Biden, Bradley and Daschle all voted in favor of DOMA before it reached Clinton’s desk? Not to mention Gephardt, Mikulski, Reid and Reid, Harkin, Levin and Durbin.

Baker was a bit stingy when it came to such facts. But then, Baker has always been a bit of a Clinton-hater. As journalism, the second part of the passage which follows is just extremely strange stuff:
BAKER: In his second term, Mr. Clinton became the first president to address the Human Rights Campaign, and he nominated James Hormel as the first openly gay ambassador. “He stood up for me when he really didn’t have to,” Mr. Hormel said last week.

Mr. Clinton did not back off the marriage law. As late as 2004, when 11 states put measures against same-sex marriage on the ballot, Mr. Clinton privately advised John Kerry to endorse a constitutional ban, according to Newsweek’s history of the campaign. Matt McKenna, Mr. Clinton’s spokesman, called that account “completely false.”
Journalism schools should study that second paragraph. For starters, in what way does the first sentence in that paragraph connect to the second and third?

Does it connect at all? Except as slick insinuation?

Beyond that, did Bill Clinton “privately advise John Kerry to endorse a constitutional ban” on same sex marriage? That has always struck us as an unlikely proposition. Is there any sign that Baker has any idea if it’s true?

We were struck by one other part of Baker’s report. In the passage which follows, Baker encourages us to think that Clinton has been “opportunistic” every step of the way.

This has always been the controlling script of mainstream Clinton-haters:
BAKER: With the Supreme Court now taking up a challenge to part of the Defense of Marriage Act, [Clinton] concluded he had to finally address the law he had helped enact.

While he declined to join a friend-of-the-court brief filed by former senators, Mr. Clinton wrote by hand an op-ed article for The Washington Post. He said he signed the law to head off a worse outcome, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but realized now that “the law is itself discriminatory” and “it should be overturned.”

To supporters of the law, Mr. Clinton’s new position seemed as opportunistic as his original one did to the other side. His “shifting views on marriage are precisely why we have an independent judiciary,” said John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage. “The Constitution is not designed to shift with momentary political winds.”

To some gay supporters, the statement was inadequate. “I would like him to say that it was always wrong and, even if he felt forced into making a political calculation, he’s deeply sorry that it became the law,” said Elizabeth Birch, who headed the Human Rights Campaign in 1996.

Mr. Mixner agreed but said the change was enough. “The purpose of a movement is to change minds, not in some Stalinistic way to punish those who are not ideologically pure,” he said. “We created a safe place where he could change his mind.”
We’re sorry that Baker dragged Birch into this. In our view, Birch was the most effective political spokesperson of the past twenty years. That said, her quoted statement seems a bit silly to us. (There is, of course, no way to know the entirety of what she may have told Baker.)

Should Clinton say he’s deeply sorry that DOMA became the law? According to Baker, Mixner said that he rejects the “Stalinistic” feel of such a suggestion. Repeating our strong belief that Birch was a major hero of the 1990s, we’d be inclined to agree.

Alas! Same-sex marriage wasn’t yet ripe in 1996. For that reason, Republicans crafted a measure, and a long string of major Democrats voted for it, long before it reached Clinton’s desk.

So many Democrats voted for it that a veto would have been overwhelmed. But what a shame that Clinton didn’t veto the measure anyway! We could have had the best of both worlds: DOMA would have passed anyway, and Dole might have gone to the White House!

In the past few years, we have all been able to see how childish, lazy and dumb we liberals actually are. Part of our eternal dumbness lies in this:

The president isn’t our Daddy! We can’t always turn to Bill or Barack and insist that he use the bully pulpit to solve all our problems, the way Daddy always did.

These presidents have labored in difficult settings. In many ways, the difficulties have been created by the lazy uselessness of our imitation liberal journalists and by our non-existent career liberal institutions.

In our view, Birch was a superlative spokesperson during the 1990s, when conservative spokespersons felt less need to be polite to gay and lesbian representatives. In general, though, our pseudo-liberal tribe is easily conned, and our careerist leaders are lazy and dishonest. As a group, we refuse to fight until we can do so in packs.

Along come wormy fellows like Baker. In his rather selective piece, you can read the rest.

Allegedly opportunistic behavior by the numbers: In the House, Democrats voted in favor of the DOMA, 118-65. To read all their names, just click here.

In the Senate, Democrats also voted in favor, 32-14. For all the names, click this.

Daddy couldn’t help us back then—but no, it wasn’t just Bill Clinton. The political groundwork hadn’t been laid—but luckily, people like Birch continued to struggle and work, in ways which were very smart.

People like Baker continued to type. In accord with their deathless scripts, the term "opportunistic" will be dropped on one head only.

Today, the politics has changed; we liberals are bravely hating in threes. It’s very hard to have much respect for horrible people like us.

Salon attempts to discuss the Chicago schools!


We liberals don’t care about black kids: Yesterday, Salon attempted to discuss Chicago’s public schools. In a rational world, the bungling would be a scandal.

The piece was written by Natasha Lennard, "an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing." We were struck by one key word in the headline:
Mass protests hit Chicago over school closures

The Chicago Teachers Union is rallying support against closures that will disproportionately affect black, Latino kids
We were struck by that one key word: “disproportionately.” When we checked to see how bad the disproportion might be, we were gobsmacked by Lennard’s copy:
LENNARD (3/27/13): On Wednesday Chicago will see a mass rally, led by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), to protest the planned shuttering of 54 elementary and middle schools before the next school year. Critics of the closures have pointed out that the vast majority of schools targeted (50 are on the West and South Sides of Chicago) provide for black and Latino children. While only around 40 percent of children in Chicago are black are [sic] Latino, 90 percent of children whose schools will be shuttered are black or Latino.
Eighteen hours later, that typo stands uncorrected. That said, let’s try to understand what Lennard and Salon seem to have said.

Chicago is closing a bunch of schools, as we noted last Friday. According to Lennard, “90 percent of children whose schools will be shuttered are black or Latino.”

If true, that’s hardly surprising. According to the Chicago Public Schools, this was the composition of its student population just last year:
Chicago Public Schools, student population, 2011-2012
Black students: 41.6 percent
Hispanic students: 44.1 percent
White students: 8.8 percent
According to the official data, Chicago’s student population is 86 percent black or Hispanic. But so what?

At Salon, Lennard seemed to say that the student population was 40 percent black or Hispanic. Plainly, she was concerned because 90 percent of affected students would be black or Hispanic.

Granted, it’s hard to know what Lennard meant because of the typo which stands uncorrected. But if 90 percent of affected students are black or Hispanic, that is right in line with the overall student population.

Meanwhile, Lennard seemed to think that the student population was only 40 percent black or Hispanic. What kind of contemporary journalist could believe something like that?

Two answers:

One, a journalist who doesn’t know—or care—about children in urban schools. Two, a journalist from the New York Times!

(On March 15, Katharine Seelye authored a very similar groaner while writing about Boston’s schools. To review our report, just click here.)

If we lived in a dimly rational world, work of this type would be seen as a scandal. But we don’t live in that world.

Two points concerning Salon:

Lennard’s piece was posted yesterday afternoon, a bit before 5 PM Eastern. As of 11 this morning, it has generated eleven comments.

As we’ve often told you, we pseudo-liberals manifestly don’t care about urban schools or the kids who attend them. Try to remember this when you see Salon’s fiery readers conducting the endless flame wars in which they hunt down all the racists.

Second point: Salon has degenerated into an open joke. We’ll assume the site must be in financial trouble. But endlessly, it now pursues the dumbest possible readers with the most ridiculous possible work.

If you're concerned about farting in bed, please review Salon's recent work.

When Salon does try to cover the news, it churns out work of this type—work which makes no earthly sense. In fairness, the New York Times can match them howler for howler.

Who could have thought that Chicago’s public schools were 40 percent black or Hispanic? Answer:

Salon was able to think such a thing. Two weeks ago, the New York Times thought the same thing about Boston!

THE ROAD TO IRAQ: The liberal world just keeps getting conned!


Part 4—Richard Perle and our own liberal swine: It’s amazing how often we liberals get conned while watching The One True Channel.

Consider one of the many things Chris Matthews said on last Friday’s Hardball.

Matthews was lustily praising himself as a brave anti-war freedom fighter in the run-up to the war in Iraq. He pimped himself on last Friday’s Hardball, then again on the 10 PM discussion program concerning the documentary, Hubris.

This Monday, he was at it again, praising himself for his antiwar stand. In all these instances, he got over with a whole lot of help from his corporate on-air friends.

Let’s consider something he said last Friday on Hardball.

Matthews began by lustily praising his own brave anti-war stand. Later, with a touch of anger in his voice, he recalled one of the biggest hawks in the months before Iraq.

Liberals were handed this big pile of crap on last Friday’s Hardball. To watch the full segment, click this:
MATTHEWS (3/22/13): In the run-up to that war in Iraq, nobody was a bigger hawk than Richard Perle, a real intellectual, I must say, a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board.

He repeatedly asserted that Saddam Hussein had ties to Osama bin Laden and was feverishly working to acquire a nuclear bomb. And he promised, Richard Perle did, that the war would be over within a matter of months. And this week, in an NPR interview, he was asked a very important question.

I think it’s a good question. His non-answer is informative. Let’s listen:

RENEE MONTAGNE: Ten years later, nearly 5,000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?

PERLE: I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t, a decade later, go back and say, “Well, we shouldn’t have done that.”
(End of audiotape)

MATTHEWS: So don’t ask whether we should have gone or not, another useless— Well, anyway, another unrepentant war hawk is Paul Wolfowitz...
You can hear the edge in Matthews’ voice as he describes the pre-war conduct of Perle—and as he discusses Perle’s failure to come to terms with his past conduct. As he spoke, Matthews failed to recall a pair of key facts:

Perle was a frequent Hardball guest in the run-up to Iraq. And his claims were rarely challenged by Hardball’s warmongering host.

Case in point: Perle appeared as a Hardball guest on February 5, 2003—the fateful day when Colin Powell addressed the United Nations. On that evening’s Hardball, Perle was gifted with two full solo segments.

Here’s an example of the way Matthews opposed the rush toward war:
MATTHEWS (2/5/03): We're back with Richard Perle.

To me, the most compelling statement by the secretary of state today concerned U.S. interests, particularly the possibility that Saddam Hussein is working hand-in-glove with al Qaeda in teaching those terrorists how to use weapons of mass destruction against us. When did you first become aware of that kind of activity? Did you before today?

PERLE: Well, it's some while back. What happened—

MATTHEWS: Actual instruction in chemical weapons use by Iraqis of al Qaeda operatives, did you know about that before today?

PERLE: I did, yes.

MATTHEWS: Why didn't you tell us? Why doesn't anybody know this before today?

PERLE: This was highly classified, and nobody should be under any illusion. We paid a price today for this disclosure. We disclosed links and communications that will now be severed.

MATTHEWS: But the main source— I hate to push you so hard, but we only have a little bit of time. The main source of the testimony, he said, was a captive down in Guantanamo Bay. How is that a security risk?

PERLE: Well, that is not a security risk.

MATTHEWS: He's the one that gave the narrative of how this is being done.

PERLE: No, some of what we've gotten from detainees, they will assume we have been able to get or at least they'll think we've been able to get, but in the intelligence business, you want to disclose as little as possible about what you know, and how you know it.

MATTHEWS: Is there more coming? Is there more that you know that you can't tell?

PERLE: There is certainly more that is known—

MATTHEWS: Is there more of this connection between al Qaeda and Iraq that you know that you can't tell us?

PERLE: Probably, but nothing that would change the thrust of it. Nothing inconsistent with what Colin Powell has said.
“I hate to push you so hard,” Matthews said, as he failed to push hard.

In that exchange, Perle gives several non-affirmation affirmations, but Matthews fails to notice. He seems to accept the accuracy of Powell’s claims. He seems to accept Perle’s slippery claim that “there is certainly more that is known.”

At this point in the conversation, Matthews changed his focus, asking Perle to discuss the domestic politics of the situation. Matthews lobbed a big fat softball at Perle—and Perle hit it out of the park.

Responding to Matthews’ big slow pitch, Perle essentially challenged the patriotism of Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats. In response, Matthews thanked him, “as always:”
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Let's talk politics here at home before we quit. Everybody saw the same presentation by Colin Powell. The recalcitrance in the Security Council, the permanent members, Russia, China, and France did what they thought, we thought they'd do, which is to say more time for the inspectors.

Are you surprised that the Democrats at home are being recalcitrant about this war move, are still saying, “Let's wait for the U.N.?” And I'm counting everybody here—Pelosi, all the people who were quoted today.

PERLE: Well I am a little surprised and of course, when they say, “Let's wait for the U.N.,” what they mean is, “Let's wait for at most three countries—France, Russia and China.” And for Nancy Pelosi or any other American to say that our policy should be determined by the views of France, Russia and China seems to me to be abandoning fundamental American sovereignty.

MATTHEWS: It's great to have you on, Richard, as always. Thanks.
To Perle, Pelosi seemed to be abandoning fundamental American sovereignty. “It's great to have you on,” Matthews said in reply.

For the record, Perle also appeared as a solo Hardball guest on February 14, February 25 and March 10. But there you see Matthews’ “lonely voice” in the run-up to war with Iraq. To review his full meltdown on that evening's program, just see yesterday's post.

Can we talk? Whatever his private views may have been, Matthews was not a lonely voice against the war in the run-up to Iraq. But liberals are now being handed that story when they watch The One True Liberal Channel. They see people like David Corn directly asserting this bogus claim. They see people like Chris Hayes failing to challenge this claim.

But then, we liberals were being conned by our own back in real time too. Yesterday, we showed you the way Matthews begged for war on February 5, the evening of Powell’s presentation. But so what? Nine days later, Joan Walsh presented a long interview with Matthews in Salon, as noted in yesterday's post.

This was part of the manifest nonsense Walsh presented that day:
WALSH (2/14/03): You're one of the few mainstream American commentators or journalists who'll take on these questions directly—openly question our support for the Sharon approach, oppose the Iraq war. Why do you think that is?

MATTHEWS: Yeah, who's with me? Nobody's with me, on television anyway. I think there are several factors here. Most people agree you have to stop weapons of mass destruction—the question is how. Then there's the emotional response to 9/11, there's an emotional demand for payback, which a lot of journalists are reluctant to question. And then there's Israel—a lot of people support Israel, and it's important to Israel to take out Iraq. So it's all mixed together. It's a combination of motives.


MATTHEWS: We've got to recognize that when we march into Iraq, we're setting up the card tables in front of every university in the Arab world, the Islamic world, to recruit for al-Qaida. Why don't we just go set up the card tables ourselves, right now? Sign them up to commit suicide. And you never hear anybody talking about this. It would be helpful if there were someone telling the president, “Well, yes, there is this danger from Iraq, but there's almost a certitude of inflaming the world against us if we intervene.”

WALSH: That used to be Colin Powell's role.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, what happened to him? I really don't understand that.
On what planet was Walsh living in February 2003? As everybody understood, Phil Donahue was an actual antiwar voice on MSNBC, although the suits were weighing him down with requirements for extra pro-war guests; his nightly program aired right before Hardball each evening. But in that first exchange, Matthews pretended that Donahue didn’t exist, and that he himself was bravely opposing the war.

Walsh raised no objections to this peculiar statement.

In that second exchange, Matthews said he couldn’t understand why Powell wasn’t urging caution. Nine days earlier, he had virtually wet his pants on the air, begging for instant war in reaction to Powell’s presentation

Surely, Walsh must have reviewed that earlier program. But she said nothing about it. Instead, she said, in her description of Matthews, that “almost every night he battles bloodthirsty Iraq hawks.”

That wasn't an accurate statement. Not in February 2003, not in Octo0ber 2002.

Matthews is one of the greatest dissemblers of the modern age. Unfortunately, he has also been one of the most influential of our modern dissemblers.

Because he wasn’t working for Fox, Matthews was actually quite influential among mainstream journalists during the Clinton-Gore years. All through the twenty months of Campaign 2000, he pimped the litany of slanders aimed at Candidate Gore as no other mainstream player did.

People like Walsh refused to complain. Bush ended up in the White House.

Readers of Salon got conned when they read that interview with Matthews. Liberal viewers of The One True Channel are still getting conned today.

This is a truly remarkable process. Simply put, it makes a mockery of our pseudo-democracy.

Matthews is the leading player in this ongoing act of deception. But without the help of his TV star friends, it couldn’t have happened this way.

Tomorrow: The names of this bad person’s friends

The Times reports a remarkable life!


Rabbi Schacter at Buchenwald: We’ve been thinking all day about the front-page obituary in today’s New York Times.

Margalit Fox recalls the life of Rabbi Herschel Schacter, who died last week at 95. Rabbi Schacter led a long, distinguished, productive life.

Fox begins her report in 1945, when Schacter entered Buchenwald, the first Jewish chaplain to enter the camp on the day of its liberation:
FOX (3/27/13): In Buchenwald that April day, Rabbi Schacter said afterward, it seemed as though there was no one left alive. In the camp, he encountered a young American lieutenant who knew his way around.

“Are there any Jews alive here?” the rabbi asked him.

He was led to the Kleine Lager, or Little Camp, a smaller camp within the larger one. There, in filthy barracks, men lay on raw wooden planks stacked from floor to ceiling. They stared down at the rabbi, in his unfamiliar military uniform, with unmistakable fright.

“Shalom Aleichem, Yidden,” Rabbi Schacter cried in Yiddish, “ihr zint frei!”—“Peace be upon you, Jews, you are free!” He ran from barracks to barracks, repeating those words. He was joined by those Jews who could walk, until a stream of people swelled behind him.
“He was joined by those Jews who could walk.” We thought of Anne Frank and Margot Frank, who died in Bergen-Belsen just a few weeks before. Like so many others, they had died from typhus and starvation, unable to hang on until liberation.

The report includes a remarkable photo of a remarkable prayer service. We’ll recommend every word.

Joan Walsh goes around the bend!


The state of the big tribal dumb: Maureen Dowd saved the best for last.

Dowd’s new column concerns same-sex marriage. Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage last year.

Hillary Clinton came out in favor last week.

That said, the modern pseudo-liberal knows only one way to reason. With that in mind, Dowd saved the best for last.

In an otherwise pedestrian column (at best), she unloaded her bomb at the end:
DOWD (3/27/13): The fusty legal discussion inside [the Court] was a vivid contrast with the lusty rally outside. There were some offensive signs directed at gays, but the vibrant crowd was overwhelmingly pro same-sex marriage. One woman summed it up nicely in a placard reading “Gays have the right to be as miserable as I make my husband.”

The only emotional moment in court was when Justice Kennedy brought up the possible “legal injury” to 40,000 children in California who live with same-sex parents. “They want their parents to have full recognition and full status,” he told Cooper. “The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”

While Justice Alito can’t see into the future, most Americans can. If this court doesn’t reject bigotry, history will reject this court.
As she finished, Dowd dropped her bomb. As we have been telling you, this is the only language with which the modern pseudo-liberal can “reason.”

Is it “bigotry” when people oppose same-sex marriage? We’re inclined to avoid such freighted words, but presumably it is in some cases. That said, Dowd has flawlessly displayed the mental world of the modern pseudo-liberal.

This is a topic on which our team began to make up its mind last Tuesday. On that basis, we feel empowered to say that everyone else is a bigot.

Unless we liberals can drop our bombs, it isn’t clear that we know how to talk. That said, Dowd looks like a mental giant compared to Salon’s Joan Walsh.

Yesterday, Walsh penned an astonishing overwrought piece concerning the Obamas’ daughters. It must be one of the dumbest pieces we’ve ever seen in print.

If you can’t see how dumb it is, there’s no real way we could tell you. Having said that, the comments—especially those from the liberals—make Walsh seem like Einstein's much brighter sibling.

Truly, it’s painful to read those comments, which now consume eleven pages. By the way: When’s the last time Salon ran a piece—any piece at all—about the needs and interests of low-income minority children?

Can you recall any such work? If such a piece had ever appeared, would you have bothered to read it?

That piece by Walsh is amazingly dumb—but Walsh knows only one way to “reason,” as she basically states at one point in her piece. For decades, the conservative world has been stunningly dumb.

Our tribe is now catching up fast.

When the Bush daughters got trashed: As of this morning, Walsh has been forced to pen a new piece discussing the way she once trashed the Bush daughters.

Walsh wouldn’t write that piece today, she is quick to “admit.”

That said, her new piece is just as dumb as yesterday’s offering was. In all honesty, Walsh went around the bend some time ago. She’s a full-blown tribal hater. And she seems to be blinded by her hatred, unless she’s just crazily dumb.

Let’s look on the brighter side:

Presumably, Walsh has scored some nice pay-days by now. If our tribe had one ounce of sense, we’d tell her it’s time to go. She could spend her declining years writing pieces like this at Salon—pieces in which she helps us consider the problem of farting in bed.

Our side is deeply, tragically dumb. Your lizard brain won’t let you see it!

THE ROAD TO IRAQ: Christopher Matthews, begging for war!


Part 3—A hot yellow river ran down it: Was Chris Matthews “a lonely voice” opposing the onrushing war in Iraq?

That’s the story you’re now being sold on The One True Liberal Channel. That said, many false or bogus tales have been peddled concerning the war in Iraq.

Is this story accurate?

Let’s start with an interview Joan Walsh published on February 14, 2003—on Valentine’s Day, no less.

Walsh had interviewed Matthews that week for the long piece in Salon. She wasn’t yet a Hardball star. Years of ass-kissing lay ahead, producing that happy outcome.

That said, Walsh described a lonely voice in her introduction to the interview. She described Matthews’ years of Clinton-bashing, though she didn't mention the twenty months this great famous man had spent sliming Candidate Gore.

Walsh described a lonely voice opposed to the war in Iraq. Reading her portrait of Matthews today, we wonder what version of Hardball her cable provider was running:
WALSH (2/14/03): Chris Matthews barreled into American living rooms during the Clinton impeachment saga, when his CNBC show "Hardball" became the official cable clubhouse for Clinton haters—and must-viewing for Clinton defenders with a masochistic streak. Nobody who watched Matthews' shouting, spittle-spewing performance art night after night could question his sincerity: Here was a one-time Peace Corps volunteer from a blue-collar family—and a lifelong Democrat who had worked for House Speaker Tip O'Neill—and he clearly loathed Clinton for bringing shame to his office and his party...

"Hardball" lost some of its edge in the early days of the Bush administration. Matthews needs an enemy, or at least a cause, to keep him charged. But the show has become must-viewing again for anyone tuned into the nation's latest political drama (one that cable news poohbahs also hope will boost ratings): Who wants to bury a dictator? This time around, though, Matthews is bucking the right. He's the only mainstream cable host who's openly opposing the administration's rush to war, and almost every night he battles bloodthirsty Iraq hawks and rails against spineless Democrats who won't muster the power to stop them. Even more remarkably, considering the media establishment's reluctance to take issue with Israeli leaders, he never misses an opportunity to critique the Bush administration's pro-Ariel Sharon Middle East policy, which he insists endangers the U.S. as well as Israel by denying the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations to statehood.


In the wide-ranging conversation conducted earlier this week, on the day that ratings-challenged MSNBC announced it had added ultra-right attack dog Michael Savage to its lineup, Matthews assailed neo-conservative Iraq hawks, slapped Bush for sitting "on Sharon's lap" (but explained why he likes him anyway), laid out what's wrong and right with Fox News, and worried about whether his antiwar stand is hurting his ratings.
According to Walsh, no one who watched Matthews’ Clinton-trashing could doubt his sincerity.

Could Walsh possibly be that dumb? We’ll leave that to the historians. But to this day, we have no idea what version of Hardball Walsh had been watching in the months which preceded Iraq.

According to Walsh, Matthews was “the only mainstream cable host who's openly opposing the administration's rush to war.” She said that even though Phil Donahue, on Matthews’ own network, was much more visibly antiwar, as everyone knew and had said. (He was canned two weeks later.)

“Almost every night [Matthews] battles bloodthirsty Iraq hawks and rails against spineless Democrats who won't muster the power to stop them,” Walsh weirdly said. What program had Walsh been watching?

As noted, Walsh’s interview appeared on Valentine’s Day. Nine days earlier, Colin Powell had delivered his famous address to the United Nations. Matthews had joined a stream of major mainstream pundits, melting down in response.

Was Matthews battling bloodthirsty hawks almost every night on Hardball? We can find no evidence that Matthews adopted that stance at any time in the seven months leading up to the war. But he certainly wasn’t adopting that stance in the two weeks before this interview ran. Consider the way he begged for war on the evening of Powell’s performance.

Matthews began his program that night with tape of Powell’s (often absurd) presentation. One hour earlier, Donahue viewers had seen antiwar analyst Phyllis Bennis note the absurdity of much that Powell said.

On Hardball, Matthews was buying every part of Powell’s presentation. This is the way the great man railed against the rush to war just nine days before Walsh's interview:
MATTHEWS (2/5/03): The big story tonight: The secretary of state, Colin Powell, presents the Bush administration's case against Iraq before the U.N. Security Council. Arguably the most dramatic piece of evidence was the link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

POWELL (videotape): Al Qaeda continues to have a deep interest in acquiring weapons of mass destruction. I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to al Qaeda.

MATTHEWS: Powell also presented an intercepted conversation between Iraqi Republican guardsmen that implied the existence of nerve agents in Iraq.

POWELL (videotape): Two officers talking to each other on the radio want to make sure that nothing is misunderstood. Remove, the expression, the expression, I got it. Nerve agents, nerve agents, wherever it comes up, got it, wherever it comes up, nerve agents. Stop talking about it. They are listening to us. Don't give any evidence that we have these horrible agents, but we know that they do, and this kind of conversation confirms it.

MATTHEWS: The only video shown demonstrated Iraq's capability to disperse biological weapons into the air.

POWELL (videotape): This video of an Iraqi test flight obtained by UNSCOM some years ago shows an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet aircraft. Note the spray coming from beneath the Mirage. That is 2,000 liters of simulated anthrax that a jet is spraying.

MATTHEWS: Before-and-after satellite photos revealed how Iraqis bulldozed and cleansed a chemical weapons site of any evidence.
Matthews seemed to be buying the package. As he continued, Matthews directed his first two questions to Republican Senator John Warner. As he did, he seemed to assume the truth of the various things Powell alleged.

In each response, Warner walked back Matthews' sense of certainty. But nothing was slowing down this lonely antiwar voice:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly) Senator John Warner is a Republican from Virginia. Senator Dianne Feinstein is a Democrat from California. Senator Warner, you have a privileged position, I know, as chairman of the Committee on Armed Services. Do you— Did you know this before, that Iraq had this hand-in-glove relationship with Saddam Hussein in training the terrorists for the use of chemical weapons?

WARNER: We knew generally about that situation. I wouldn't call it hand-in-glove because Saddam—he claims he doesn't have control over that region, but he certainly tolerates it. And Chris, that was the strong part of the speech that was directed towards Europe because now their attention is focused on how quickly that knowledge could spread out of that camp and begin to inflict harm on them or indeed, some of the material itself. Powell did a wonderful job today. His speech was as strong as the speech given by our president on September 12 to the United Nations.

MATTHEWS: Well, did you know particularly the government of Iraq offered chemical and biological weapons training to two al Qaeda associates beginning in 2000? The government offered it, not just those people up in the camps up in Kurdistan, but the actual government in Baghdad of Saddam Hussein offered weapons training in chemicals.

WARNER: Chris, I stand behind all the facts that Powell gave today to the world to see because we have in our committee and in the Intelligence Committee been discussing this information for some time...
That last answer was a fuzzy non-answer, but Matthews didn’t seem to notice. At this point, he asked one question of Senator Feinstein. After her somewhat troubling response, he seemed to beg Warner for war:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Senator Feinstein, did you know this particular fact, the missing connection here apparently made by the administration, by Secretary Powell, that al Qaeda was offered help in chemical weapons training by Saddam Hussein's government and took it?

FEINSTEIN: No. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, this has never, to my knowledge, been brought to our attention, and I think what Secretary Powell did today that was truly unique was from the very beginning, plunge into the facts, and weave a very, I thought, compelling web of circumstances. But a good deal of it, frankly, was new, and I've been pretty good about attending intelligence briefings and also asking for them, and the nexus that he drew between al Qaeda, not 9/11, but al Qaeda, who perpetrated 9/11, and Iraq, was all new.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask Senator Warner, why doesn't the United States military, why don't we just hit those targets in Kurdistan, the chemical weapons camps, the training camps? Why don't we hit them now?
Feinstein had never heard that before—and a lot of Powell’s claims were new! But so what? In response to those pregnant statements, our fearless anti-war crusader skedaddled directly back to Warner.

He asked him why we don’t just move directly to war.

Was Matthews a lonely voice this night? To borrow Walsh’s pleasing language, was he openly opposing the rush to war? Was he battling bloodthirsty hawks? Was he railing against spineless Democrats who won't muster the power to stop them?

At no point did Matthews adopt any such stance on this particular evening, or in the days and weeks which followed. After speaking with Warner and Feinstein, he brought on super-hawk Richard Perle for two bloodthirsty segments.

During these segments, Matthews agreed that France had perfidiously sought “a separate peace” with Saddam. But then, it was time for “the Hardball debate,” during which our lonely voice repeatedly seemed to beg for instant war.

Poor Matthews! He was so shocked by the things Powell said that he wondered if we shouldn’t hit Iraq right away! Here you see chunks of his lonely stance as he spoke with the recently-retired Rep. Dick Armey and with MSNBC analyst Bill Arkin:
MATTHEWS: I was impressed today. Bill, what do you make of this threat? Do you think it's an imminent threat to the United States based upon what you heard from the secretary today, that they might use chemical weapons against us, they were trained to use by Iraq?

ARKIN: I don't. I have to say Powell, the good soldier, made a very good performance today and certainly the amount of information which was released today was far more than anybody else has ever said. It's an impressive compilation, but I think in the end, we have to ask ourselves the question, what is the threat that we're talking about? Is the threat the threat of weapons of mass destruction or of terrorism? would be the most likely way in which weapons of mass destruction would be used against the United States. And so—

MATTHEWS: But, what's missing here? If you— If Colin Powell makes the point that there's training going on by Iraqi officials of al Qaeda operatives in northern Iraq, what more do you need to know that it could happen?


MATTHEWS: Why don't we just attack him now and forget this takeover and regime change and all the big talk and just blow apart those camps if we know that we've got them in our crosshairs, Congressman?

ARMEY: I don't know the answer to that. My—

MATTHEWS: Doesn't it surprise you? The secretary of state goes on the international television and says America is threatened now by chemicals weapons in the hands of Saddam Hussein's people thanks to the training of the Iraqi people, and we know the camps, here are the pictures of the camps. Why don't we do something about those camps? Blow them away?

ARMEY: Well, and that might be the solution, but I also think that there's probably a case to be made that if you take any military action, you might have to complete the job. You know, there's a lot of criticism for Desert Storm for not having done so. The other thing you have to understand is to some extent, this administration is in a chess game with Saddam Hussein.


MATTHEWS: I'm trying to get back to the main point of this debate in this segment of the show. We just saw the secretary of state point to those camps in northern Iraq where they are teaching right now as we speak—I don't know what the time zone is— Right now, they're teaching these people how to use chemical weapons against us. Are we going to stop that or are we going to talk about it? That's the question. And I don't know how we can live with ourselves if we wait for another month with the U.N. or we don't do anything in a month.


MATTHEWS: How many days are you willing to give that camp in northern Iraq to keep training those Osama bin Laden terrorists in the use of chemical weapons? How many days from now are you willing to put up with that?

ARMEY: I think that's a military decision and that—it would depend on what I believe will be more and more closely held information than I have, but obviously you can't just let them prepare with the kind of manner in which they can strike so insidiously.
Years later, a thrill would run up Matthews’ leg. On this particular evening, a hot yellow river ran down it. At least in his public stance, Matthews assumed the accuracy of everything Powell had said. Poor Armey was forced to talk Matthews down as he begged for instant war.

Here at THE HOWLER, we punished ourselves at the start of the week, reading all the Hardball transcripts in the two weeks before Walsh’s piece. We found no program where Matthews behaved in the brave way Walsh would describe. Examples:

On February 12, Matthews spent the full hour with Bernie Goldberg on the Hardball College Tour. Goldberg had just published the often-ridiculous book, Bias. Matthews of course kissed his ass:
MATTHEWS (2/12/03): I like guys who put their balls on the line like you do.

GOLDBERG: Well I appreciate that.

MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead.

GOLDBERG: I appreciate that.

The next night, he opened with General Haig. Perhaps you can discern the gist:
MATTHEWS (2/13/03): The big story tonight, the triple threat of Iraq, al Qaeda and North Korea as the U.S. inches closer to war with Iraq and Osama bin Laden encourages suicide attacks against Americans, intelligence officials now reveal that North Korea has a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon and striking the western United States.

Tonight, we'll examine the three threats with former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and former CIA Director Robert Gates. But first, General Alexander Haig, he served as secretary of state during the Reagan administration.

Mr. Secretary, when you look at all these three threats, which is the worst?


MATTHEWS: OK, General Haig, thank you very much for joining us. We'll be coming back to talk about the Clinton administration, what they could have done, but didn't perhaps, to counter these threats from Iraq, North Korea, and al Qaeda. Specifically we're going to talk about the North Korea question. I'm going to ask former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger.

And later, the Hardball debate: Should former President Bill Clinton be injecting himself into today's foreign policy debate or is he undermining the president during a time of war?
No one could doubt his sincerity! The next day, Salon’s poor misused liberal readers were told that Matthews had been bravely attacking the hawks, “almost every night.”

Over the weekend, we read through many Hardball transcripts in the seven months before the war. We found no place where Matthews behaved in the brave way Walsh would describe.

During his interview with Walsh, Matthews did talk like a bit of an anti-war man. But very little of that approach had been displayed on the air.

For our money, Matthews may be the greatest and most influential dissembler of the past twenty years. At this point, we’d have to say the illustrious Walsh isn’t real far behind.

On the brighter side, she has become a cable star. Presumbaly, the money is good. Her celebrity is much greater.

But good lord, the stories we liberals get told! Of course, as long as we’re told these tales by our tribe, we swallow them down every time.

Tomorrow: Christopher's willing enablers

There’s some bad advice going around!


Be careful what you wish for: Here at THE HOWLER, we used to complain about the silence of the philosophy professors.

Every faculty has “logicians,” we noted—and our so-called public discourse is riddled with elementary logical tangles! Why don’t the philosophy professors get involved, we incomparably asked.

Be careful what you wish for!

Yesterday, Sarah Conly penned an op-ed column in the New York Times. According to the Times, Conly is an assistant professor of philosophy at Bowdoin!

We definitely don't have a problem with that! At first, in fact, we thought our advice had been taken. Soon, though, Conly was sharing a perspective on large sugary soda drinks—a perspective she had gleaned from the work of John Stuart Mill.

More to the point, Conly had gleaned her perspective from Mill’s little-known and so-called “harm principle.” As you know, Mill once said things like this:
CONLY (3/25/13): John Stuart Mill wrote in 1859 that the only justifiable reason for interfering in someone’s freedom of action was to prevent harm to others. According to Mill’s “harm principle,” we should almost never stop people from behavior that affects only themselves, because people know best what they themselves want.

That “almost,” though, is important. It’s fair to stop us, Mill argued, when we are acting out of ignorance and doing something we’ll pretty definitely regret. You can stop someone from crossing a bridge that is broken, he said, because you can be sure no one wants to plummet into the river. Mill just didn’t think this would happen very often.

Mill was wrong about that, though. A lot of times we have a good idea of where we want to go, but a really terrible idea of how to get there...
Question: Did we really need John Stuart Mill to help us get clear on these points? We’re always surprised when we turn to the giants to clarify matters like this.

Frankly, we tend to be surprised when we turn to the giants at all. This brings us back to some shaky advice Chris Hayes, the liberal intellectual, dispensed to Ta-Nehisi Coates in January of this year.

Among the people we read on line, Coates has at least one massive advantage; he’s an original thinker. He came up in a non-standard way. He takes his own approach.

Until he encounters Hayes, that is! On January 28, Coates appeared on Up. The following day, he described some bad advice he received there:
COATES (1/29/13): After the show on Saturday, Chris Hayes was nice enough to set with me and talk social contract, a bit. We joked about how people so often throw the term "social contract" but often don't really know the ends and outs of it. And then Chris suggested the classics—Hobbes, Locke and Rosseau, with a little Scanlon sprinkled in.

So that's it...Dissertations have been written on this subject so I doubt I'll get the full extent of it. I'm going to basically start with Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. I might make it to Rawls, I'm not sure. But I'm opening the journey up. I can't go alone.
There's no question Chris was especially nice that day. Having said that, we’ll be totally honest:

We’ve never heard anyone joke about how people throw the term "social contract" around without really knowing the ins and outs of it! That said, we’re pretty sure the answer is not to waste your time reading Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and possibly even Rawls.

Too late! Inexplicably, Coates took Hayes’ advice—and now he’s reading Hobbes on-line! It’s painful to see an original thinker wasting his time this way.

What would Locke say about sugary drinks? Please don’t let this one be next!

Philosophically speaking: We strongly recommend Coates’ ongoing daily dispatches about his ongoing trip to France. Just click here, start reading!

Rachel Maddow keeps keeping it up!


And we gullibles get propagandized: What does propaganda look like? As opposed to news or reporting?

Rachel Maddow showed the world again at the end of last evening’s program. Once again, she fed us the facts—rather, she fed us the limited set of facts she felt we needed to know.

To watch the segment, click this:
MADDOW (3/25/13): Over the last couple weeks, we have been covering on the show the protesters in the city of Detroit who’ve been taking to the highways in and around the city and driving really ostentatiously slowly. They’re causing huge traffic jams on purpose, being civilly disobedient of the minimum speed laws in order to bring transportation to a halt. They are protesting the citizens of Detroit having their voting rights taken away.

Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, overruled local voting rights thus far in Flint, Michigan, in the Detroit suburb of Allen Park. He did it in school districts of Muskegon Heights and Highland Park. He did it in Benton Harbor, too, taking away the power of local elected officials there.

Rick Snyder relieved those towns of their democracy because he said they were too broken to be trusted to use it anymore. Instead of being allowed to choose their own locally elected officials, Rick Snyder instead installed a single state-appointed emergency manager who has basically unilateral, unelected power.

Then, two weeks ago, Governor Rick Snyder decided the state would take over Detroit, too, take over the state’s largest city. Democracy had to go in Detroit, just as it had in all of the other smaller places.
Rachel is certainly right on one point. She has told us this story many, many times. As she does, she uses her vast intellect to hand us rubes the most obvious fact in the world.

Darling Rachel got sold to us rubes as Our Own Rhodes Scholar. That said, a seventh-grade drop-out could understand that the normal flow of democracy has been stanched when emergency managers get appointed.

Anyone on earth can see that. But that is about as far as Rachel’s “reporting” goes.

Last night, Rachel repeated her normal claims, the claims we’re permitted to hear. Emergency managers haven’t worked anywhere else in the state, she again alleged. (Except in that one little teensy weensy town.)

As viewers, we are asked to believe this statement because our darling Rachel keeps saying it. She has never presented an outside authority to assess her glorious claim.

Every time Rachel “reports” this story, she feeds us the same set of claims, presented as if they were facts. She also buries the same set of facts. She always forgets to tell us that Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm was appointing emergency managers in Michigan before her successor started to do so. She has never tried to explain why Granholm and Snyder might do this.

From watching Maddow, you might get the impression that this practice occurs in Michigan only. That isn’t true, of course. But why should this horrible TV performer spoil a simple tale?

Is there some sort of possible reason for appointing emergency managers? You’ll never find out from watching Maddow! We were struck again by today’s New York Times, where the Detroit situation sounded somewhat different:

Bill Vlasic did the news report. This is the way he started:
VLASIC (3/26/13): The city’s new emergency manager spent his first day on the job trying to build bridges with elected officials while at the same time preparing to impose financial controls that could include pay cuts for the mayor and City Council.

The emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, a Washington bankruptcy lawyer, officially took office on Monday amid a flurry of protests from residents opposed to his appointment by Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan. But Mr. Orr seemed undaunted by the controversy surrounding the state’s takeover of Detroit, and he began his tenure by extending a “sincere olive branch” to city leaders.

With Mayor Dave Bing at his side, Mr. Orr pledged to consult with elected officials on plans to improve services and bring fiscal discipline to the state’s largest city.

“We’re going to work together as best we can to do what we can for the city,” Mr. Orr said.
Mayor Bing doesn’t make Rachel’s capably Xeroxed “reports.” He isn’t cooperating with her desire to hand us cable rubes the world’s number-one dumbest story.

Later in his news report, Vlasic reported that Mayor Bing “said he respected Mr. Orr’s authority to make changes.” He also gave us some small idea of why governors like Granholm and Snyder might impose such regimes:
VLASIC: Mr. Orr arrived for his first day in office at 7 a.m. and moved into vacant office space on the same floor as the mayor in the municipal building.

He brought along his only outside hire so far, William Nowling, a former campaign aide to Mr. Snyder who will be Mr. Orr’s communications director.

Mr. Nowling said he expected Mr. Orr to “be transparent” in his decisions on changes in city government, particularly on issues like restoring streetlights in darkened neighborhoods.

“He definitely is not going to let any dust gather,” Mr. Nowling said. “Every decision he will make will come in the form of an official order.”
Do the streetlights work on the street where Rachel lives? We see very little sense that this cable multimillionaire cares if they work in Detroit. Or if the city’s emergency vehicles work:
VLASIC: The donation is a timely boost for a city struggling to meet public-safety needs with many ambulances and police cars in disrepair. It also shows a growing sensitivity among hometown corporations, like General Motors and Chrysler, to Detroit’s financial troubles.

“This is a perfect example of how the business community can work with the city,” said Roger Penske, the motor-racing entrepreneur.

But the new police cars highlight the reality that the city cannot afford to hire more uniformed officers to staff them.

“With the financial straits the city is in, it’s going to be difficult to bring in additional people,” the mayor said.
What is the state of play in Detroit? You’ll never learn that from watching Maddow, a genuine pure-bred hack.

Night after night, week after week, she feeds us the same simple-minded story, a story everyone pre-understands. We hear about the protests, as of course we should. But we don’t hear about the problems, or about the people who think the move may make some sort of sense.

We never hear from national or local reporters or editors. We hear from Rachel herself—and she always gifts us with the same simple-minded story.

They told us she was Our Own Rhodes Scholar. She’s something much dumber, much worse.

THE ROAD TO IRAQ: Matthews keeps it up!


Part 2—Getting by with the help of his friends: Was Chris Matthews “a lonely voice” in the run-up to the war in Iraq?

Well actually no, he was not. But last Friday night, in the 10 PM hour, that’s the way David Corn said he remembered it.

(For background, see part 1 of this award-winning series. To watch the full program from last Friday night, just click here.)

Corn and Matthews were part of an all-star panel discussing Hubris, an MSNBC documentary. Corn vouched for Matthews as the great broadcaster rewrote the history of his own work in the run-up to war with Iraq.

Earlier that evening, on Hardball, Matthews had lionized his alleged opposition to the war. During the later discussion program, he extended the fantasy version of his own past conduct.

In fairness, it isn't easy to deal with Matthews at The One True Liberal Channel. At one point in Friday's discussion program, moderator Chris Hayes tried to insert a small bit of historical truth.

Hayes had already watered his comment down. But Matthews jumped in quickly:
HAYES (3/221/3): Let’s be honest, right? Cable news did not cover itself in glory during that period either, the medium we’re in. Phil Donahue had a show on this network that was rating very well and he was an anti-Iraq voice and he did not have that show very long and there are calculations about what is acceptable... The acceptable boundary that got asserted was that seriousness was getting inside the details of the case and how strong it was and when he was going to get a weapon and not just saying, “This is crazy.”

CORN: I mean, Chris will— Chris—

MATTHEWS: I was against the war from Day One—

CORN: Yeah, you were—

MATTHEWS: —long before even they started selling the damn thing. Well, here’s the problem with so-called objective media, and it isn’t cable. Cable’s fabulous! No, it is. Objective journalism is basically scribe reporting. Write down what the military is telling you to do in their bulletins, “5 o’clock follies,” used to call it in the Vietnam War. Put it out! How about critical journalism? That’s what we need, and cable’s better at it, I think. This embedding was great, we knew what was going on. But was anybody challenging?

HAYES: Right.

MATTHEWS: Challenging.
Poor Corn! Before he could jump in to vouch for Matthews, Matthews jumped in and vouched for himself! Once again, viewers were given the bogus impression that Matthews fought all that “scribe reporting” in the run-up to war in Iraq.

In the process, Hayes stepped away from his thoughtless initial remark, in which he recalled the fact that there really was an anti-war voice on MSNBC in those days—but it was Donahue, not Matthews. And good God:

Last night, Matthews continued the reinvention of his professional history. During the final segment of Hardball, he continued to create the latest set of false tales about the run-up to war in Iraq. Helped along by a pair of trusties, he thundered about the horrible journalism done by the hacks before the war started.

Joan and David agreed not to note the type of work Matthews himself had done. As he closed the segment, Matthews vowed that he would pursue this topic further.

Was Matthews a “lonely voice” in opposition to war with Iraq? Actually, no, he was not, despite what David says he remembers. Tomorrow, for example, we’ll look at the nervous breadown Matthews staged on the day Colin Powell addressed the U.N.

Matthews screeched for war with such fervor that night that Richard Perle had to talk him down! Moments like those are now being disappeared with the help of Chris' well-paid friends.

After Powell spoke, the very loud Matthews begged for war. For today, let’s examine the time Chris Matthews clearly said that he opposed the war with Iraq.

It came on Sunday, September 1, 2002, in the final newspaper column Matthews wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle. The column appeared over Labor Day weekend.

The column began with a very great man nostalgically looking back:
MATTHEWS (9/1/02): Hail and farewell

For 15 years, I have been among the grand and lucky few to write a newspaper column. It's something I had wanted for a long time, something I owe to one bloke: Larry Kramer.

In June 1987, I lingered with him over lunch and several carafes of house white in a South of Market restaurant. My sister-in-law Ann was about to get married at the Metropolitan Club, and I was just checking in with an old friend. Larry had been metro editor of the Washington Post and was now executive editor of the Examiner. (He's now chairman and CEO of

He asked if I wanted to write a column. I said, as if kneeling at the altar of my life, "I do," and it has made all the difference.

I can't remember not wanting to be a columnist. When I was in college, my hero was Joe McGinnis. Just 25, he was already writing three times a week in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

At Chapel Hill in grad school, I'd pore over the page of the Raleigh News & Observer across from the editorials, what I'd later learn to call the "op-ed page." That's where I came across that crusty Dixiecrat, James J. Kilpatrick, and began my lifelong homage to him and other great newspaper columnists.
Not failing to honor the great Dixiecrats, Matthews shared his fabulous story. His entire column this day used only 625 words. As the column ended, he wrote this one short note RE Iraq:
MATTHEWS: But this is my last column. The wisdom of middle age has taught me I can't have—or do—it all.

I remember Sen. Ed Muskie the night he won his last election back in 1976. He'd had some vodka, which I sensed he'd drunk fast—like a Russian against the winter. He said:

"The only reason to be in politics is to be out there all alone and then be proven right."

That goes for good columnists, too.

So I'll say it: I hate this war that's coming in Iraq. I don't think we'll be proud of it. Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father. What about the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a fight we start next spring in Baghdad?

Well, that's it for now. You know where I stand.
You know where I stand, Matthews said that day, with much of America off at the beach. He said he hated the upcoming war. He virtually never said such things in the months which followed.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you where Matthews stood five months later, when Powell made his address to the U.N. But even today, make no mistake:

Matthews is one the greatest dissemblers ever to hit the American scene. With the help of well-paid friends, he whored your interests out to the right all during the Clinton/Gore years.

No one pimped more phony tales about Candidate Gore during the twenty months of Campaign 2000. Fiery people like Joan and David let his disgraceful conduct go, and they still won't discuss it today.

George Bush ended up in the White House, with Matthews eagerly telling the world how much he personally liked him.

At present, Chris is inventing fake stories again; the trusties are there to help him do it. His entire career had been built in this way.

The career liberal world gulps it whole. So do our semi-careerists.

Sally Kohn, addled like them!

MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2013

At Salon, support simply isn’t enough: On Saturday morning, March 16, the New York Times reshaped space and time.

That morning, the paper reported, on page A11, that Ohio senator Rob Portman had come out in favor of gay marriage. And good lord!

That very same morning, on page A20, the Times already had a letter saying that Portman was a hypocrite for having done so!

The letter appeared in the hard-copy Times on the same day as the news report! How in the world does the liberal world do it?

Here’s how:

The letter-writer was reacting to an on-line post which had appeared the day before. Still, the Times had established a new world record in the drive to refuse to take yes for an answer. On the same day the paper reported Portman’s shift, it was already printing a letter rejecting the shift as hypocrisy!

We thought of that letter when we read this new blog post by Paul Krugman. To see what we’re talking about, you’ll have to get past the part about Matthew Yglesias’ fancy, expensive new crib

In our view, that blog post was The Bad Krugman talking, the Krugman who has become a true believer on all matters primally tribal. But nothing could compare to Sally Kohn’s report in today’s Salon.

How blindly tribal has our tribe become? This is Kohn, rejecting conservatives’ support of gay marriage unless they let her write the speech in which they explain their support:
KOHN (3/16/13): While I’m genuinely thrilled that more and more Republicans are coming out to support marriage equality, it’s important to consider why that is—because the ends may not justify the means. To the extent Republican support for gay marriage is based on imposing restrictive and regressive conservative social norms, it ultimately hurts gays—and all of us—more than it helps.

Sure, Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced his support for same-sex marriage because he wants equality for his own gay son, but Portman also rationalized his views within a conservative values framework. In an Op-Ed announcing his change of heart, Portman wrote that he supports allowing gay couples to marry because he is a conservative, not in spite of it...
Horrors! In explaining his support for gay marriage, Portman didn’t renounce his overall philosophy, such as it is. To Kohn, this means that our tribe may be better off renouncing his support.

She's genuinely thrilled by the growing conservative support for gay marriage. But we might be better without it! To see Kohn thrash around for sources of tribal outrage, just fight your way through her full piece.

(Careful! Your lizard brain will tell you she's right.)

Kohn has often been like this. Meanwhile, Salon has been working very hard to become a dumber version of Fox. But the impulse displayed by Kohn takes us to the next level of tribal nihilism.

Portman has come out in support of gay marriage—but Kohn doesn’t like the way he did it! Beyond that, Portman’s a hypocrite, as we all know—unlike the Pure of Heart Obama, who came out in support of gay marriage less than one year ago.

Unlike pure of heart Hillary Clinton, who came out last week.

The ultimate sign of tribal death is put on display by Kohn. It occurs when you go all the way around the bend—when you assume that your guy does the things he does for the finest of reasons, while their guy’s support can’t be accepted under any circumstance short of tribal surrender.

We liberals have played versions of this dumb, ugly game concerning gay marriage before. Remember when Olbermann was trashing the young (conservative) beauty queen because she stated the same position Obama was stating concerning gay marriage?

Olbermann was very ugly about it, in the most familiar old ways; a group of those “liberal intellectuals” saw how misogynist he was being. But they were only willing to say this if they could do so in private! To refresh yourself, just click this.

This is way our sorry tribe rolls once it stops its nap in the woods. We’re inclined to have deeply tribal minds—minds that are much like theirs.