Is Donald J. Trump able to read?


We're not sure. Is anyone else?
Last night, the fun got started all over again on "cable news," in earnest. The new cable year had begun!

The not wholly reliable Michael Wolff had triggered this evening of fun. At any rate, the children got to spend the night indulging such pleasures as this:
WOLFF (1/3/18): As soon as the campaign team had stepped into the White House, [deputy chief of staff Katie] Walsh saw, it had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy. And making suggestions to him was deeply complicated. Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate.
For what it's worth, Walsh seems to have disputed the comments attributed to her by Wolff. That said, hasn't it long been clear that Donald J. Trump may have a reading problem?

Could Trump perhaps be dyslexic? It is now widely asserted that Nelson Rockefeller struggled with some such condition, as described in this New Yorker piece.

Is it possible that Trump is dyslexic, was so afflicted as a boy? We'd assume that the answer is yes, but for purposes of cable news, Trump exists as a figure of tribal pleasure and fun.

Is Trump unable to read? Rather than identify this possibility long ago, the stars of cable indulge themselves in the pleasures of long-running ridicule.

In the real world, Trump is a deeply dangerous figure. On cable, he's entertainment and fun. This brings us to the part of Wolff's new book which our cable stars like best—the part where Bannon says that Donald Trump Junior engaged in "treasonous" conduct.

Bannon, of course, is a world-class nut, but we love that assessment. Cable stars spent the evening pimping that claim without regard to its crackpot source.

This returns us to a question we've pondered here before. Were people at that famous meeting with the Russkie lawyer engaging in treasonous conduct?

The topic was batted around last night. We'd answer the question like this:

First, it seems to us that it all depends on what actually occurred at that meeting. At some point, we may find out, most likely through the work of Robert Mueller.

Eventually, we may know what happened at that meeting. At this point, we pretty much don't.

Second, would it have been treasonous to accept negative information about Candidate Clinton from the Russkies? (As far as we know, there was none.) On cable, we like to say that the answer is yes, and we love the heat of that T-bomb.

That said, what's wrong with "information?" (Note to all stars of cable: in this case, that relatively innocuous term must be changed to "dirt.") It seems that Trump Junior was willing to receive same from the Russkies. But what would be wrong with that?


Suppose the Russkie lawyer released some sort of negative information in an op-ed column. Would Trump Junior be obligated to ignore what she had revealed?

Suppose the Russkie lawyer rented the National Press Club and delivered the information in a speech. Would good Americans be required to ignore what she had said?

Finally, imagine this:

Suppose someone inside the Russkie government had information on gross misconduct by Donald J. Trump—on money laundering, let's say—and wanted to reveal it. Would Candidate Clinton have been committing treason if she had received such information? Would good Americans be required to ignore the information if it was released in some other way?

We've said it for years—information plays almost no role in our national discourse. It seems to us that reactions to the Russkie lawyer have helped establish this point.

One last point about all that cable enjoyment last night:

That fun drives all other topics away. Starting next Monday, we expect to discuss "the missing 48,000."

Nobody cares about those kids! Indeed, given the way our clowning works, no one even knows who we mean!


  1. He makes believe he's a rich, and if people are sucker enough to believe him, he doesn't have to know how to read.

  2. "Is Donald J. Trump able to read?"

    Is Satan able to read? But of course he isn't. He is, after all, an omniscient, all-knowing creature. No need for reading.

    Ask him what's on page 243 of What Happened, and he'll recite it immediately - just like that! MWahahaha...

    1. "Is Satan able to read? But of course he isn't. He is, after all, an omniscient, all-knowing creature. No need for reading."

      Ha ha ha. Checkout Mao channeling his inner corporate-media schtick, where he makes believe he's never seen a grifter before. I do hope he's being paid to be stupid on the internet. It's such a waste otherwise.

    2. You're hopelessly confused, brother (which, I suppose, is only natural for an unfortunate victim of the 11/9 meltdown). Clintons are grifters, the Donald is Satan, fascist dictator.

    3. Trump's a grifter, who grifts for himself and the Establishment.
      "Clintons are grifters.."
      One of these days the Republicans are going to find some corruption in all their investigations of the Clintons. For Conservatives sakes, let's hope it's within their lifetimes.

  3. Somerby keeps saying that we liberals are enjoying the destruction of our country. He says we enjoy the part of the book where Trump Jr. is accused of treason. Most of us are heartsick about what has been happening. Most of us are upset and concerned about the future. Most of us are living with deep anxiety about both personal and more global consequences of Trump's malfeasance. This is not fun to us.

    It is again, deeply offensive when Somerby attributes these reactions to us. He has no basis for doing so, since he cannot see how we react to the news each day. He cannot see anything about our lives and how we experience Trump's ongoing destruction of things we care about.

    Somerby needs to take a step back and reconsider this year's themes. His attacks on liberals are worse than those we encounter on conservative webpages.

    I find myself wondering whether this page is worth reading any more and I would be gone if it weren't for the occasional comments by folks like mm, deadrat, imp Caesar and a few anonymous people. It is one of the few places not governed by Disquis and not full of hundreds of useless comments, so it is a place where discussion occasionally happens. But it may not be worth enduring Somerby's increasingly nauseating posts.

    1. 1:21

      Goddamn, when are you going to fucking get it that Bob isn’t talking about “we” liberals, he’s not talking about “you.” He’s certainly not talking about himself, if you’ve actually bothered to follow him over the years. Most of his critiques are in regard to “liberals” in the MSM, cable news, and the god-damned NYT, which has a well-documented record of bowing to power and money, though even they get a nod from Bob now and then.

      In case you’re not aware, “liberals” in this sense mean Democrats. Even Colbert bows to them, which nauseates me (thanks for the word). That’s what you get when supposed purveyors of information go national, and make the Big Bucks.

      As I’ve said many times, he’s tilting at windmills, and even he knows it. I enjoy rational critiques of Bob, I’ve made a few myself. But threatening to leave?

      C’mon. I’m not fooled. You can’t help yourself.


    2. Leroy,
      When are you and Bob going to get it. There are no "liberals" in the MSM, cable news, and the god-damned NYT. Those are all propaganda arms of the corporate plutocracy.
      Gee, why didn't the media point out that those who are getting the big tax break in the Tax Reform bill, are the same ones who crashed the world's economy through fraud? Do you think it might be because the media is run by those thugs?
      You (and Bob) are both fooled, if you can't figure that out by now.

    3. “When are you and Bob going to get it. There are no "liberals" in the MSM, cable news, and the god-damned NYT. Those are all propaganda arms of the corporate plutocracy.”

      Bob, and you and me, are practically yelling on this point. Bob has been yelling for a very long time now.

      Look, do Fox News viewers watch Maddow? Do Maddow viewers watch Fox News? Nah, it’s tribalism all the way down as far as cable.

      Which is the “better” purveyor of information? As Bob has been yelling for years, it’s all tribal. And there are two tribes. Democrats and Republicans. Our political duopoly has resulted in a MSM media duopoly, and they’re both utter bullshit. They don’t talk about the issues that really matter, and when they do, there’s a partisan slant.

      But that isn’t what Bob does, by and large. He doesn’t criticize Fox, what’s the point? Plenty of websites do that already. What he criticizes is what the masses consume from the “liberal” MSM, of which Maddow and the NYT are supposedly a part.

      Why isn’t Democracy Now! broadcast far and wide?

      For all of the reasons Bob has been yelling about. And sorry for being rude.


    4. There may be two tribes, but only one of them owns the media megaphones.

  4. "Would Candidate Clinton have been committing treason if she had received such information?"

    The answer is yes, Bob. While you go after the (so-called) liberal media for their "fun", the Republicans in Congress (you know, where political power actually resides) would have declared it so and begun impeachment proceedings against Hillary, had she won. Just like they went after Bill. And good ol' Fox News would be right there with them...but then, you know that, don't you Bob?

    And surely, Bob, you aren't equating a (hypothetical) op Ed or speech with ("alleged") knowing receipt of stolen data? Or collusion to hack and or release said data? Ya know, crimes?

    And, Bob, your rather unenthusiastic support of Mueller and the general search for the truth is a bit underwhelming, since his investigation may yet be shut down by the buffoon in the White House and his minions in Congress. Certainly, he, they, and Fox are furiously trying to delegitimize it. Who stands for truth here? Can we get a big ho hum from The Howler?

    Finally, the unintended irony:
    "Nobody cares about those kids! Indeed, given the way our clowning works, no one even knows who we mean!"
    "Our clowning" indeed. I am justified in reading that as "The Daily Howler's clowning." Oh, the coyness. What a sober, progressive voice!

    1. Mueller, and his “general search for the truth”? Funny, I thought it was specific. But what the hell do I know?

      It does make for great political theater, I must admit. I hope Trump goes down in flames, but watch the bouncing ball.


    2. BTW 1:52, why don't you start your own blog? It might be helpful, to all of us.

      Like, "Somerby is a Douchebag."

      Not sure how successful it would be, but you never know!


    3. Well, Bob's blog seems to be largely "Rachael Maddow is a douchebag", so there is precedent.

  5. Dave the Guitar PlayerJanuary 4, 2018 at 2:07 PM

    I get a bit tired of reading comments here from people who are offended by what Bob writes about. If you want a blog that tells you what you want to hear, this is not the place. Bob is writing "criticism", which means you are expected to like it. If you are smart, you will reflect on this criticism and decide whether it is warranted and make improvements where you think necessary. You don't have to agree with everything he says, but what makes his criticism distinctly different than those conservatives you compare him with, is that Bob is not making this stuff up. So, deal with it or stick with sources (like Rachel Maddow) who will tell you what you want to hear.

    1. "Bob is writing "criticism", which means you are expected to like it"

      Interesting Freudian slip there...

      Assuming you mean I *don't* have to like it, well...? I don't have to like it, but you'd rather I didn't express that in a comment, because you're tired of reading criticisms of Bob? Do his readers not get a voice, through the comments section, to express their views? A free interchange of ideas is important. Or do you want to shield Bob from those mean commenters? He's pretty good at dishing out criticism; seems to me he can expect a little in return.
      By the way, your condescension, that my views must be dictated by others (like Maddow, whom I do not watch) is obnoxious. And not very MLK-like. Or Lincolnesque.

    2. Criticizing Bob for not being sufficiently enthusiastic in support of Mueller? It would help if your criticisms were not so drop dead dumb.

    3. Ah...comments/criticisms are OK, as long as Greg thinks they aren't "dumb." Remind me to be as respectful towards you in the future.
      Most of the comment above wasn't criticism anyway, just the last part. Somerby asks if it would've been treasonous, and I answered: obviously, yes. The statement about Mueller was an observation: if you are hoping that truth will come out or that Mueller will be allowed to finish his investigation given the current political climate, then you may be misguided. Some of Somerby's favorite targets are the ones fighting to keep Mueller's investigation alive.
      But hey, I just may be drop dead dumb. What do I know?

    4. I'm sorry to say you know very little. Every day you post long descriptions of your idiotic misreadings of criticisms that are not that hard to understand. But don't stop if you have the time to throw away!

    5. I think you are confusing @2:59 with me. I didn't have time to post anything long today but I'll be back. In the meantime, I agree with @2:59 and I know I'm not dumb -- my mother had me tested.

  6. Without much doubt, nothing rouses the anger of a certain segment of the readership here more than the “we liberals” thing. Some oddly seem to treat Bob’s snipes against B-list journalists as deeply personal attacks on their anonymous selves. Beyond piling on just a tad about the Mueller non-sequitur, in no way is the following intended to criticize any of the posters here or especially their righteous indignation. Taken to heart, this may be useful to a few. Assuming you are not a lazy, lying, ladder-climbing, lily-livered journalist or television talking head who fudges or selectively presents facts to feed feel-good left-leaning narratives—or a citizen mindlessly slurping up and perhaps regurgitating said narratives—take a deep breath and relax, our favorite blogger is not talking about you.

    Second on some shit-lists is Bob’s unwillingness to go where they would have him go. Sometimes, this is actually a shame since Washington righties and conservative media types offer vast comedic and anthropological possibilities. Nevertheless, cue the chorus. Once more, with feeling: “That’s not what Bob does.”

    1. How exactly are you able read Somerby’s mind?

    2. Fair point. How about this:

      “take a deep breath, relax and ASSUME our favorite blogger is not talking about you. If you choose to remain butt-hurt, that’s fine too.”

    3. No reason to assume a counter factual when Somerby says explicitly that he is talking about we liberals and I am liberal. Somerby owns what he says. You cannot take him off that hook.

    4. If you want to believe that when Bob says “we liberals” he is referring to each and every person that self-defines or acts as a liberal, then believe it. It’s doubtful but, in fact, you may be correct. After all, we can’t read his mind. Reading his exhaustive excoriation of the liberal tribe, one might observe that his criticism is focused on journalists (which I assume you aren’t) and people that lap up tribal nonsense (which I generously will assume you don’t; maybe you’re the selfsame Anonymous (above) that said you don’t watch Maddow). A liberal might, for example, believe in a financial safety net for less fortunate souls. Since it is unlikely that TDH has criticized this position and most other actual progressive beliefs, and he has been (occasionally) laudatory of liberal journalists that he considers objective, it is unlikely that liberal beliefs or liberals en masse are the targets of his criticism. You have to admit that it really has to do with embracing tribalism. There is one person that is definitely included and that’s Bob since he says “we” and not “you”. Nonetheless, it must be acknowledged that occasionally it could be hard not to take the “we liberals are not so smart” stuff without a twinge of defensiveness.

    5. When someone spends 90% of their time defending Trump and the even more despicable Roy Moore, and attacking liberals and nitpicking, one is forced to conclude that said person is at best a self hating liberal and at worst a Trumptard.

    6. Dude, I wish I could write as well as you do. I'll keep trying.


    7. After the fact, noticed we wrote somewhat in the same vein (in response to the some of the same stimuli). Great minds must stew alike. Have always enjoyed your stuff. One of the few.

  7. Somerby poses a series of situations that are not what happened. We know that the dirt on Clinton consisted of embarrassing campaign emails hacked from DNC and Podesta’s computers and released vis Wikileaks. The discussion in Trump Tower wasn’t only about emails but about the quid pro quo of removal of sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act and the coordination of the timing of email release.

    Somerby ignores these details. Why? So he can pretend Trump’s people are being railroaded by an over eager press.

    Somerby is being an ass.

  8. "That said, what's wrong with "information?" (Note to all stars of cable: in this case, that relatively innocuous term must be changed to "dirt.") It seems that Trump Junior was willing to receive same from the Russkies. But what would be wrong with that? "

    Not a thing, legally speaking. These issues have been decided and it's not even a close call. For a summary, see

  9. It's interesting to see Somerby slammed by Trump's opposition here for pointing out that the exchange of information is not criminal and should not be criminalized. While the leftists are angered by his liberal position and are hoping to criminalize the exchange and reporting of true information. It says nothing about Somerby but all you need to know about his critics.

    1. You say information like it is all one thing. There is a big difference between sharing phone numbers and handing over nuclear secrets, for example. The nature of the information matters and some information cannot be shared without committing treason. Somerby should acknowledge that.


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