TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS: And now, a word from CNN's analysts!

THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 2022

The scripting of one of our worlds: It was Tuesday morning, March 22, in the year 2022. As the Senate committee took its first break, five senators—out of 22 in all!—had questioned Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden's nominee to sit on the Supreme Court.

In fact, very little had happened. Three of the senators had been Democrats. Playing a now-traditional role, they'd lobbed softballs at the nominee of the president of their own party.

Meanwhile, the first of the two Republican senators had been the doddering Senator Grassley, who is currently running for re-election at the age of 88. During his allotted thirty minutes, the doddering Grassley had read a list of staff-prepared questions, showing little interest in, or awareness of, what the nominee said. 

At this point in the proceedings, only one senator had questioned the nominee in anything like a challenging manner. That was Senator Lindsey Graham, who would soon be the focus of an instructive session on CNN.

That silly session showcased the way denizens of our Two Different Worlds receive their tribal scripting—the way they "receive all that false instruction," as the poet once said. The session showcased the way such denizens are instructed in what they should think and in what they should say—in what they should believe, and in what they should feel.

After the doddering Senator Feinstein had finished her own round of questions, the Senate committee took a 15-minute break. Kate Bolduan introduced the CNN panel. 

Jeffrey Toobin was first to speak. When he did, he said this:

BOLDUAN (3/22/22): A lot to discuss. Let me bring in the panel right now. Let me get first to CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, what have you heard so far?

TOOBIN: Well, it's certainly been an interesting morning. And to just cut to the chase, I certainly have not heard anything that would jeopardize the confirmation chances of Judge Jackson. She has not been thrown off stride. She has not said anything that seems particularly controversial.

She has explained her judicial approach, which she calls a methodology as opposed to a philosophy. But just in terms of the outcome that is likely to come here with, you know a Democratic majority on the committee and in the Senate, there doesn't seem to be anything that came out this morning that would jeopardize your chances.

As usual, in these hearings, it's quite clear that the nominee, especially this nominee, knows about a hundred times more about the law than any of these senators do, and that has come out whenever they have discussed specific issues and specific cases. But it has been smooth sailing for Judge Jackson.

According to Toobin, Supreme Court nominees typically "know about a hundred times more about the law than any of these senators do." He said that had been "especially" clear in the case of Judge Jackson. 

We don't know if either part of that assessment is accurate. For ourselves, Jackson's testimony to that point hadn't seemed to set her apart from previous nominees to the Court—but then again, she'd faced little serious questioning from four of the five senators who had spoken with her to that point.

Did pundit Toobin really believe that Jackson's performance had already set her apart in this way? We have no way of knowing that. We can tell you this:

The notion that Jackson was the most qualified nominee in Supreme Court history had already been established as a standard talking point of our childish blue tribe. 

There is, of course, no serious way to demonstrate the accuracy of any such assessment. But that claim has been asserted, again and again, as tribunes of our failing tribe have instructed us, the rubes, concerning the various things we should think and say about this nomination, which we should of course describe as "historic."

Toobin may have been fully sincere in every word he said. He said that Jackson hadn't disqualified herself to that point, an utterly pointless assessment.

It had been an interesting morning, he said, without citing anything of any interest that anyone had actually said. Toobin had basically phoned it in—and now the harder messaging started:

BOLDUAN (continuing directly): CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates, with us as well. Laura, how do you think the judge has done so far?

COATES: I think she's doing phenomenally well and I will note, of course, that I am twinning in her outfit inadvertently. But let me tell you, that's really where the comparison stop because she is phenomenally talented in what she's doing.

Of course, it's her fourth time being before the Judiciary Committee, so she's well aware of the stakes and what needs to be done in order to make sure that she is conveying her intellect in a way that is persuasive, that is compelling, and really showcases what she's all about...

At this point, Judge Jackson had been "questioned" by three softball-lobbing Democrats, and by the doddering Grassley. Very, very, very little had actually happened at that point. 

The challenges to Jackson, such as they were, were yet to come.

Jackson had barely been questioned to this point, let alone challenged in any serious way. Of the five senators, only Graham had posed any challenging questions, and he and Jackson had agreed, again and again, on a long series of points.

Despite this fact, Coates was eager to let viewers know what they should be thinking about the nominee—about a nominee who hadn't yet been tested. This is the way we're now told what to think and say, believe and feel, within our Two Different Worlds.

According to Coates, the nominee had been "doing phenomenally well." Almost surely, that was because of the fact that she is "phenomenally talented." 

More specifically, the nominee had "conveyed her intellect in a way which [was] compelling!" In this way, CNN viewers were gaining instruction in what they should say, think and feel. 

At this point, Coates moved on. She offered an assessment of Graham's questioning—an assessment which strikes us as stupendously hard to defend, except within the part of the world where tribalized fairy tale dwells.

Where Jackson was "phenomenally talented"—better than the rest, Toobin had said—Graham would now be cast in the demon role. 

How do our nation's Two Different Worlds take their shape and gain their form?  In part, through manifest bullshit like this from party-line players like Coates:

COATES (continuing directly): I will say the moments for Senator Lindsey Graham were perhaps the most shocking of the day.

The discussions of trying, on the one hand, to educate the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States, to try to attempt to educate her on double standards in America, was just too rich for me. 

So was the notion of him trying to use the time to think he squandered a great deal, squandering the time pointing out the ideas of other past nominees as opposed to focusing on this particular person.

Discussions about Judge Childs and the idea of so-called conservatives and other rounds as well, attacking and asking her about what she knew about these attacks on social media, as opposed to what she knew about the law, was a missed opportunity to elevate the conversation.

And finally, the discussion she had about the sentencing, as it relates to child pornography as well as sex offenders, I think she handled it very well to talk about, thematically about the departures from sentencing guidelines. Why they can at times be appropriate for the nuances about it. 

But her most strong line to me was when she said and was asked about Senator Josh Hawley's comments. As a mother, as a judge, nothing could be further from the truth, that she was leaning in on these offenders. It's a very powerful talking point that was used against her. I think she undermined it particularly well.

We apologize for the occasional incoherence of the CNN transcript. The channel doesn't waste its time proofreading such documents.

We watched this segment in real time. We think this transcript captures its essence, in large part because the "legal analysis" being offered went so far over the top.

Fellow citizens, had there really been anything "shocking" about Graham's questions this day? In Tuesday's report, we noted the strangeness of that claim—especially when it was specifically directed at the questions Graham had posed about those "double standards," in which Graham had dared to try "to educate...the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States."

At that moment, Coates brought in the eternal note of messaging concerning matters of race. Jackson was phenomenally talented, but Graham—who is white—had been trying to "educate" her about something. Given the fact that Jackson is black, this attempt had been "shocking."

Plainly, Coates was referring to the first ten minutes of Graham's session, in which he complained about the way Republicans nominees to the Court had allegedly been treated in the past. How dare the white guy talk to the phenomenally talented black woman about some such matter as that? 

Coates is almost always useless as a cable news analyst. But in this moment, she was instructing one of our Two Different Worlds in the things we should think, say and feel.

Tomorrow, we'll note the ridiculous way those initial questions by Graham have been viewed within our liberal tribe. First, though, we should visit the third pundit to speak this day, Nia-Malika Henderson.

In our view, Henderson is typically far superior to Coates as a cable news analyst. On this day, she completed the hat trick. Henderson said the nominee had knocked it out of the park.

Bolduan played tape of Jackson's statements—to the highly supportive Durbin—about the child pornography cases in which she had ruled as a judge. (Later in this session, Toobin referred to these cases as examples of "kiddie porn.") When Bolduan threw to Henderson, Henderson offered this:

BOLDUAN: You can feel the heat there, Nia. I mean, what did you—what did you think of that?

HENDERSON: Yes, incredibly moving to see her. I had first heard that just on the radio. I was driving in to work, but to see her there so moved, almost crying and certainly emotional in that moment, thinking about the victims of child pornography.

So this idea that you hear from Senator Hawley, saying that she's gone soft on child pornographers, she had a very, I think, compelling comeback, we'll see later on in these hearings what Senator Hawley has to say in terms of this line of attack, because I thought Dick Durbin obviously set her up for this very compelling pushback against these, you know, very, very untrue charges that somehow she is soft on crime, or generally, and specifically, soft on child porn...

Out of embarrassment for CNN, we'll turn our camera off here. We'll skip the astounding dumbness of the latter part of Henderson's presentation, in which Jackson's slender account of her "methodology" as a judge was praised to the skies.

("Given her methodology, it's clear that she likes to clear the decks, as she said, when she approaches these different issues as a judge," Henderson said. In Jackson's very slender telling, that seemed to mean that she likes to approach all cases impartially.)

By now, it wasn't just that Judge Jackson had done phenomenally well in the early questioning, due to her phenomenal talent. It had also been incredibly moving to see her very compelling pushback against the charges by Senator Hawley—against charges which were very, very untrue.

She had almost been crying! Also, she spoke as a mom!

Of course, Hawley hadn't voiced his charges yet—and Henderson did manage to say that Jackson's very compelling comeback had been offered in response to Senator Durbin, who "had obviously set her up" for her compelling rejoinder. 

But the messaging went on and on. So did the assault on our nation's rather limited political intellect.

The performance by these CNN stars was about as dumb and scripted as cable news dumbness and scripting can get. Their performance stands as "legal analysis" in much the way that "Dick and Jane" qualifies as the great American novel.

Judge Jackson had barely been questioned yet, but so what? She had made her compelling intellect show, thanks to her phenomenal talent. 

She'd offered very compelling pushback against charges which were very, very untrue. According to Toobin, she was more capable than nominees in the past, presumably those of both parties.

Also, a white guy had tried to question or challenge her! Coates instructed us that we should find his temerity "shocking," but also "rich." It's hard to have sufficient contempt for unhelpful players like this.

Days later, a column in the Washington Post made this dumbness even dumber. But as you watch these corporate stooges pretend to offer legal analysis, you're seeing a basic fact about the shaping of the Two Different Worlds within our American polity. 

Nothing that we've said today is offered as a criticism of Judge Jackson, who has had a very substantial legal and judicial career. For ourselves, we weren't blown away by her performance during these hearings. But we're speaking today about four stooges out of the CNN stable.

The stooges were instructing us about the things we should think and say. No discouraging words were heard during their pundit session. And of course, this same process—this same segregation by tribe of all information and all opinion—is conducted on an hourly basis on the Fox News Channel, and across the "conservative" world.

In these ways, the Two Different Worlds of our failing nation are told what to think and to say. On the brighter side, the cable actors are well paid, and their party-line conduct seems to be good for ratings and corporate profits. 

Dissenters have long since disappeared from the lineups of the two competing sides. This allows us the people to select the cartoon we prefer.

Meanwhile, was it true? Had Graham's attempt to "educate" Jackson about those "double standards" really been "shocking" in some way? As far as that goes, had he been trying to "educate" Jackson at all?

The future column to which we've referred came from the Washington Post's Paul Kane. Anthropologists admit to terminal dismay in the face of such human behavior, but it's clearly part of the way we're now consigned to life in our Two Different Worlds.

Tomorrow: Journalist Kane. Also, questions from Hawley


66 comments:

  1. "At this point in the proceedings, only one senator had questioned the nominee in anything like a challenging manner."


    Who cares, dear Bob. Hello? It's a game. A clown show. Circus. Theatre of the absurd.

    Everyone knows it. You too, dear, may want to grasp the concept and calm down already.

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    1. No, not theatre of the absurd. Theatre of the tribe. It is not absurdity Bob deplores, it's unthinking tribalism.

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    2. Well, if dear Bob's fellow tribesmyn don't realize it's a clown show (just as dear Bob himself seemingly does not), then it's certainly a tribe of dumbasses.

      ...but hey, who are we kidding: of course it is. We all know that.

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    3. It's the fundamental problem of our political discourse. Highlighting it is Bob's way of trying to fight it.

      And is it only the one tribe that is guilty of dumbassery?

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    4. As far as we're aware, in Bob's universe there's only one tribe - the liberal tribe - and The Others.

      And The Others, in Bob's universe, think of the characters discussed in this post as shape-shifting alien reptilians, so The Others definitely aren't dumbasses.

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    5. I get the "circus" charge, because Republicans have put clowns on the Supreme Court, but how does Republicans putting so many sexual predators on the Supreme Court make it a "circus"?

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    6. These two really get on, eh?

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  2. When you do the math, one Democrat judge replaces another Democrat judge. The court isn't changed. Pushing back on the psychosis of the Republican terror cult is educational but so far, net benefit is nil.

    And actually, maybe that's a win for conservative ideology. Don't try to change the system. Just focus on being a nice person.

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  3. One side is Republicans who allegedly attend coke orgies. The other is Republicans who allegedly don't attend coke orgies.
    They seem more the same, than different.

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  4. How come Bob doesn't get to the part where Graham, who attempted to do everything he could to help Trump remain in power no matter how much he had to lie and cheat, started ranting about Gitmo and how Judge Jackson's world view was creating a threat to all Americans, and then stormed out of the hearing BOTH frist mornings frothing at the mouth.
    And yet Bob must go on. Nothing about Trump once again asking Putin to help him damage The President. Again. Yesterday.
    You would almost think a really great, not Uncle Tom Justice on the Court who is female and black BOTHERS Bob in some way. Go figure.

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    1. Because Bob's writing has a theme: the critique of the liberal discourse.

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    2. If you want blogger who will also criticize the Right, find a blogger who is honest.

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    3. Criticism of the Right is common and there's plenty of targets to criticize.

      Criticism of the Left is far less common, at least criticism that isn't dumbed-down to the "Own the libs" level.

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    4. You sort of sound like you're disappointed on Easter morning because when you wake up there aren't any Christmas presents.

      Bob critiques the Left. It's fine if you disagree with the substance of his critiques, but what's the point of disagreeing with the premise of his blog?

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    5. Rationalist,
      You have to be an Olympic-level squinter, like Bob, to make it seem like the Left and Right are equally to blame.
      That's how Rachel Maddow, who used a statistic Bob doesn't prefer, is just as bad as those who tried to overthrow the United States Capitol.

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    6. Where has Bob ever said that Left and Right are equally to blame?

      He has said both sides are tribal, and he has set himself to the task of critiquing the Liberal discourse, so that it might be made better.

      Delete
    7. Agreed, and I come here because I agree with the premise of the blog.

      I don't understand why those that don't agree would come here and read, and comment negatively every day, but they have their reasons I guess.

      Delete
    8. Are you really asking why someone would push back on bullshit?

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    9. KK,
      How does not hurting the feelings of those on the Right make Liberal discourse better?

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    10. It doesn't. Why do you ask?

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    11. KK says, "he has set himself to the task of critiquing the Liberal discourse"

      This is what the title of this blog says. Nothing about "Liberal" discourse.

      musings on the mainstream "press corps" and the american discourse

      So you're full of shit KK.

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    12. The logic of so many of the comments here is so poor. Like the one above. Because what they want covered is not covered, the author all of a sudden has a sinister motive. Or a criticism of the coverage of a particular issue is all of a sudden an advocacy of that issue. These are basic logical errors. And the commenters rarely address the substance of what is written, a big red flag.

      It speaks to the balkanization of our information diets. These people expose themselves to a certain set of information where the party they support is never ever criticized. So when they see that happen by a person within the same party, they don't know how to react. It does not compute. Darlings, it simply is not done! :) We all must walk in lockstep, never disagree with one another and never admit our mistakes. We must only speak about what the other tribe does wrong and always disappear anything we may have done wrong.

      It's so very unhealthy. And such a gift to the ruling, avaricious elite. It’s a crying shame but that’s where we are.

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    13. I'd nominate this comment if we had that feature.

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    14. Thanks Krazy .... you really got it right this time.. "Because Bob's writing has a theme.. the critique of the liberal discourse."
      Bingo. Are you aware it has not always been such? Do you know his intention was once to write about the Press Corps and their rather consistent, transparent group think that leads to general distortion in the news? And that at one point, even as Fox became more and more the biggest and most watched outlet, he simply stopped paying any attention to them. And he stills writes about them, on RARE occasion, with a sometimes strained fairness, where he would grind Rachel Maddow's face into the dirt?
      So a true Rationalist writing about Bob would have to say, this is a guy who critiques the left press, and as such, his intention must be dubious, and in any event you are unlikely to get much that is useful big picture wise. So Bob simply because one of many stand ins for Brent Bozell, whose objectivity led him to raise a son who tried to rape our capital.

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    15. I have been reading this blog a long time, attracted to it because of the advertised critique of the mainstream "press corps". That's not happening anymore.

      The other day one of the Big 3 television networks (CBS) hired Mick Mulvaney to give his "objective" expert opinions on Biden's proposal for a wealth tax. They did it with a straight face too.

      What the hell happened to Bob?

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    16. What is an example post from when it was happening?

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    17. Greg,

      Are you saying Bob is obligated to critique both left and right? From whence comes this obligation? His obligation is to do a good job at whatever critiquing he chooses to do.

      I suspect he evolved over time from critiquing the press in general to critiquing the left because, as Mr. Rationalist pointed out, no one else does a good job of that. And because the tribal nature of our discourse is so fundamental to our current dysfunction.

      Or is the Left's discourse beyond critique?

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    18. Don't be absurd. There is no "liberal" press. That's the joke. Bob considers MSNBC to be liberal, yet it is dominated from morning till evening by Republican never-trumpers. Scarborough, House Impeachment Mangager, just got a fourth hour in the morning. Where is the "liberal" press?

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    19. The way a dialogue is supposed to work is one person says something, and the other person responds to it.

      If one person says something, and the other person says something else—then you have more of a rant-zone than a conversation.

      I guess you make your own bed.

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    20. These people are waiting for cathedrals to be built that solemnly celebrate and worship their every belief with song and ceremony where they can go every day to hear long sermons about the singular greatness of their views - and their views only - with intermittent choirs adding glorious odes to their perspicacity, wit and taste in superhero movies.

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    21. Bob doesn’t need to call Republican voters “bigots”, if he isn’t posting about Republican voters.

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    22. Krazy,
      Again, it's somewhat refreshing to note that, at least to an extent, you get it. First, if you'll allow a question, who do you go to for a critique of the Right Press?
      I would say we are not awash in quality, fact checking of media of any kind. Someone recently challenged me on the Tara Reid story, arguing her tale had simply not taken root.
      That's not really true. What surfaced was that the her hotshot Me Too lawyer dropped her when it surfaced she had misrepresented her background in Court Cases to serve as an expert witness (!).
      Chris Hayes, who days before had looked into the camera and intoned "THIS STORY IS NOT GOING AWAY">>>> let the story go away. And other who had hyped it on MSNBC made no mention of why Tara was now MIA. No one holds these people to much account on either side.
      So for a guy who started out using Socrates to set the record straight, simply deciding one side's sins (the bigger, more successful side at that) do not matter is highly suspect. And given Bob's now absurd justifications of southern racism (it's all about Northern Condescension!), I think we can fill in the blanks.

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    23. Greg,

      it seems our fundamental disagreement concerns your belief that Somerby is obligated to criticize both Left and Right. Why do you think that? Why isn't he free to focus his commentary on the Left, so long as his criticism is legitimate (and in your answer, can you assume his criticism is legitimate so that we stick to the larger point?)

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    24. Krazy, I am going to suggest you know that is not our fundamental disagreement.
      Within the confines of what is legal, nobody is "obligated" to do anything. The question is, why would anyone actually interested in the crisis of our discourse choose only one side, again the less prevalent and successful side, to examine? After years (the 90s) of examining the right and being well aware of their corruption, why would someone suddenly decide only the sins (real and sometimes wildly imagined) of the left are worth looking at?
      This is our disagreement, and your lack of an answer is in a way an answer, for there IS no good answer. Bob is not only fairly often completely wrong, he's something of a fraud.
      So Rationalist, where do you go for a look at the right media? Or is that what you usually just watch and accept?
      Anon at 4:34 pretty much says it all. But would Bob agree with Krazy and Rationalist that he only goes after the left now and that's O.K.? I wonder.....

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  5. "they'd lobbed softballs at the nominee"

    Two days ago I posted an explanation of the purpose and mechanics of senate nomination hearings for the supreme court. Somerby doesn't seem to understand how such things work.

    The nominee spent the past several weeks meeting individually with any senator who wanted to meet with her. That provided an opportunity to ask very specific questions about her judicial philosophy and past rulings, her experience and qualifications. This public hearing is thus not an "information gathering" situation but a chance for both parties to show and tell the public why they value or oppose the nominee, before the senate votes.

    Somerby has been treating this as if it were an exercise in finding out why the nominee made certain decisions, and so on, in a level of detail inappropriate for this stage of the process. The home audience won't follow it. That's why there are more speeches than there are questions, except in the staged interactions where someone like Hawley is trying to make Jackson appear to be soft on pedophilia, or Lindsay Graham is trying to make her appear to be soft on terrorism.

    Somerby is supposedly a long-standing political buff. He has no doubt seen many judicial hearings like this one. His posturing about its purpose is disingenuous and designed to support the thinly disguised intentions of those attacking Jackson. He pretends that the hearing should elicit much more info about her judgments, but he neglects that all of the senators have had that chance before and used it to varying extents. The rest is grandstanding and political theater.

    You have to ask why Somerby is supporting the machinations of Hawley and Graham this way, when he is supposed to be either liberal, or at least an unbiased observer. The accusations of the right have been both rude and outrageous, aimed at nothing more than providing the Republican base with reasons to oppose Jackson, none of them based in fact. These are their talking points, not any kind of examination of this nominee. So why is Somerby leaving it to us to point this stuff out, not mentioning it himself, as other liberal commentators have done? It seems very obvious to me that Somerby supports the right wing these days. I don't know why he changed, but he is not liberal and he is not even fair-minded. Most days now he is biogted and offensive. And that is not how he was when I first began reading his blog when Gore ran for office.

    There are others on the internet who pretend to be liberal while behaving like conservatives. Some of them appear on Bill Maher's show. One of them is Bill Maher. Their bullshit is more dangerous than the garbage from the right because being ostensibly liberal, someone who wants a liberal point of view might be confused into thinking that anyone of the left agrees with these charlatans. Liberals hold a wide variety of views, but one thing they do not do is believe and spread conservative memes and talking points. All except Somerby, that is.

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    1. You're stupid.

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    2. Well, sorry. This post is titanically stupid. It mistakes a criticism of coverage of an issue with advocacy of that issue. You can't get any dumber.

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    3. You can't get any dumber than thinking that Somerby is here to criticize the media.

      If Somerby were in favor of Jackson's appointment, but objected to the press coverage, he would have written this essay entirely differently. For one thing, he wouldn't have repeated the numerous statements praising her, made by the panel, in sarcastic quote marks and italics, as if they were unwarranted, exaggerated, overblown.

      There is a lot of enthusiasm for Jackson's appointment in a lot of quarters. Presenting this as something the media has cooked up is disparaging of her candidacy, her qualifications and her ability.

      What do you think it means when Somerby says that her response to a question was "slender"? Do you think that is a good thing, praise of her answer?

      You can call other people stupid after you learn to read between the lines in the kind of essay Somerby likes to write. He is leading you around by the nose.

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    4. It was a criticism that the numerous statements praising her were unwarranted, exaggerated and overblown.

      I think when Somerby says her response to a question was "slender" that it is not praising her answer or any comment on the substance of the answer but a basis for criticism of overblown praise.

      Really, you're so dumb though. Have you always been a crazy dumbass?

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    5. But what is the evidence that her response was "slender"? Somerby gives none. He just calls it that. He is no legal expert of any kind. On what basis can he use adjectives like that, beyond his own bias? Similarly, he is no judge of whether the praise is overblown or warranted. It is his assumption that she cannot be as good as people consider her that leads to that idea, that the praise is overblown. These cable news panels haven't been making up the idea that she is head and shoulders above other nominees. She really is good and many people, including judges and lawyers, the ABA, and people from both political parties, have been saying she is that good. How then does Somerby get to decide that the praise isn't justified -- he knows less than the panelists he criticizes. His only evidence is his own bias. He has offered nothing else.

      Calling me a dumbass doesn't change anything. It makes you look like you have no real arguments to make.

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    6. You have to be one of the dumbest people to ever use a computer.

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    7. I, too, don't think 11:29 is being enough of a bigot to be praised by the Right.

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  6. "Meanwhile, the first of the two Republican senators had been the doddering Senator Grassley, who is currently running for re-election at the age of 88. "

    While there is a minimum age for running for the senate, there is not a maximum age. That is because it is presumed that the voters can decide whether a candidate, especially an incumbent, has done a good enough job to deserve reelection. That is what democracy is about -- letting the voters decide.

    People age at different rates. Some remain cognitively sharp into their 90s and beyond. Some are cognitively impaired in what we consider to be middle age. It depends on lifestyle choices, heredity, health, exercise and activity levels, and life experiences.

    Anthony Trollope, an English author, wrote 47 novels after the age of 65 (when he retired from his job as a postmaster). Many have been made into movies. Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence at age 70. Mandela became Prime Minister of South aFrica at age 76.

    Somerby mocks Grassley for being 88 and running for reelection. I wouldn't vote for him because he is a Republican, but even on his worst day, he is miles better than Trump. Somerby's ageism is ridiculous given improvements in medicine and the emerging concept of a biological age that differs from one's chronological age.

    But why shouldn't Somerby add ageism to his other isms (racism and sexism)? It is popular to mock our gerontocracy but generally it is young people doing it, not leading-edge boomers like Somerby. I would say that Grassley didn't embarrass himself as much as the much younger Josh Hawley.

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  7. "At this point in the proceedings, only one senator had questioned the nominee in anything like a challenging manner."

    Somerby appears to be covering the hearing as if it were a sporting event. The senators aren't supposed to be giving candidates the third degree. They are supposed to be exploring the pros and cons of the nomination so that the senate as a whole can vote on the candidate.

    What did Somerby think was being missed during the current hearing?

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  8. "There is, of course, no serious way to demonstrate the accuracy of any such assessment. "

    Here is a serious way to determine the accuracy of the statement that Judge Jackson was more qualified than previous justices nominated:

    https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/federal_judiciary/ratings/supreme-court-evaluation-process/

    Judge Jackson is the only nominee to have received unanimous ratings from all evaluators of well qualified (the highest rating). Previous nominees to the supreme court have received split votes between well qualified and qualified (Amy Coney Barrett, Kavanaugh). Some have received split votes that included "not qualified". None prior to Jackson has received a unanimous rating like this.

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  9. When cable news panels express opinions that differ from Somerby's, he calls that instructing the audience on how to react to Jackson.

    Somerby use of italics and quote marks around phrases praising Jackson is nearly as offensive as the attitude of Hawley, Graham and other Republicans. There is an objective consensus that includes Republican who voted to confirm Jackson to lower courts, that she is not only well qualified for this nomination but also has been an excellent judge in her prior positions. Somerby's use of these quotes to cast doubt of her prior work is offensive because he offers no basis for criticism of that work.

    This is what bias looks like. A man who cannot and will not accept the nearly unanimous opinions about the ability of this nominee, no matter how many times attested to by others who should know (such as sitting judges and attorneys nationwide).

    Republicans may oppose Jackson for her politics (which she has not expressed), feeling that she may not be impartial in hearing politically controversial cases. They have no basis for alledging that, but it seems likely to be the basis of their opposition.

    Only a bigot pretends that Jackson is unqualified for the job. And that is Somerby today. Toobin is himself a lawyer who has covered legal issues, written many books, and commented on numerous other hearings of this type. Somerby complains that his opinion is not genuine but is part of a media press to tell viewers what to think. That is insulting to Toobin as well.

    Somerby apparently knows better than to accuse Jackson of being an "affirmative action hire," but he doesn't come far from that with his assertion that the political fix is in. It is apparently impossible for him to conceive of a black woman who is not only capable of being fair and unbiased in her work, but also highly intelligent and universally recognized for her ability. And that is what a racial bigot looks like. The rest of what Somerby has written today is pure sophistry.

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    1. There's one and only one sentence in the post where Bob directly states what he thinks of Jackson's qualifications:

      "Nothing that we've said today is offered as a criticism of Judge Jackson, who has had a very substantial legal and judicial career."


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    2. Krazy Kat,
      She's the best. The Right only disparages her, because they are so used to putting sexual predators on the Supreme Court.

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  10. "She had almost been crying! Also, she spoke as a mom!"

    And here we see the real reason why Somerby is working so hard to convince us that Judge Jackson lacks merit as a candidate!

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    1. There's only one sentence in the post where Bob directly states what he thinks of Jackson's qualifications:

      "Nothing that we've said today is offered as a criticism of Judge Jackson, who has had a very substantial legal and judicial career."

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    2. That is how Somerby operates. He has things both ways. He will say that someone is a good decent person before ripping into them.

      Here is how Somerby discounts the positive appraisals of Jackson's ability:

      "Where Jackson was "phenomenally talented"—better than the rest, Toobin had said..."

      He repeats that "phenomenally" in quotes numerous times, enough to get the point across that he thinks the opposite of her, that such praise is overblown, ridiculous even.

      Then there is this:

      "We'll skip the astounding dumbness of the latter part of Henderson's presentation, in which Jackson's slender account of her "methodology" as a judge was praised to the skies.

      ("Given her methodology, it's clear that she likes to clear the decks, as she said, when she approaches these different issues as a judge," Henderson said. In Jackson's very slender telling, that seemed to mean that she likes to approach all cases impartially.)

      By now, it wasn't just that Judge Jackson had done phenomenally well in the early questioning, due to her phenomenal talent. It had also been incredibly moving to see her very compelling pushback against the charges by Senator Hawley—against charges which were very, very untrue."

      It is clear from the use of emphasis in this passage, the repeated word "slender" and the context that Somerby doesn't think Jackson deserves the praise of Henderson, Coates and others he criticizes today.

      So, KK, there is a great deal else that indicates what Somerby thinks of Jackson's merit as a nominee. Somerby attacks Jackson in the guise of complaining about those who praised her. If their praise is so wrong, so must Jackson's ability be downgraded.

      And yes, I do believe that Lindsay Graham was being condescending and mansplaining. She took it with good grace and did not complain, but that doesn't mean he wasn't doing it.

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    3. Why could the Judge Jackson not have a substantial legal and judicial career and be the recipient of overblown, ridiculous praise at the same time?

      Why would criticism of overblown, ridiculous praise axiomatically be a bigoted attack on the recipient of the praise?

      That doesn't make sense.

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    4. The assumption that praise of a black woman must be overblown and ridiculous is at the heart of this problem. Somerby has said that he considers there no objective way to determine whether the praise is warranted. I presented evidence (from the ABA) that this is not so. In the absence of any way of determining the merit of this nominee, Somerby has chosen to assume that praise of her is overblown, ridiculous. That is the essence of bigotry -- an assumption in the absence of evidence that someone is necessarily inferior or substandard based on gender and skin color. In Jackson's case, there is the evidence of a lifetime of solid achievement. Somerby chooses to discount this. That too is bigotry.

      The praise must be first shown to be overblown, ridiculous, not assumed to be so. It is the assumption that makes this a bigoted attack.

      You ask why Jackson could not have a substantial legal and judicial career and be the recipient of overblown ridiculous praise at the same time? The answer is that if her career is not simply substantial but is demonstrably beyond that, the praise is then not overblown or ridiculous but justified by her accomplishments.

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    5. This response is too imbecilic for words.

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    6. Dear 10:17 and Clara and Friends,

      How truly fiendish this Somerby is. How I’ve been duped. He states as straightforwardly as can be that he offers no criticism of Jackson. But then, while pretending to criticize the CNN analysts, he secretly criticizes Jackson.

      And while discounting the praise of Jackson’s performance on a single morning of the hearing, Somerby is secretly criticizing her entire career.

      Is there a secret decoder ring you can mail me so I too can see beyond Somerby’s actual words to the real truth of what they mean?

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    7. Carla -- getting people's names right is a small thing to ask and a sign of civility and respect for others.

      Nothing that Somerby does is secret. I notice that you don't address any of the specifics that people provide in response to your comments.

      As noted before, Somerby always says that a person is good, kind, decent, before ripping them to shreads. You choose to believe only those statements and ignore the ones where he immediately contradicts the positive things said about someone.

      About Jackson, Somerby says:

      "For ourselves, Jackson's testimony to that point hadn't seemed to set her apart from previous nominees to the Court..." and he didn't know whether Toobin's praise was justified.

      For many paragraphs he says nothing at all about Jackson, then he says:

      "We'll skip the astounding dumbness of the latter part of Henderson's presentation, in which Jackson's slender account of her "methodology" as a judge was praised to the skies."

      This is a clearly negative remark about Jackson's answer. "Slender" is not a compliment and Somerby is clearly objecting to the praise of it, as part of his ongoing complaint that Jackson is being overpraised.

      Then, after another repetition of his complaint that she has been overpraised, Somerby says:

      "Nothing that we've said today is offered as a criticism of Judge Jackson, who has had a very substantial legal and judicial career. For ourselves, we weren't blown away by her performance during these hearings."

      He cannot both claim that she is overpraised, doesn't deserve the things being said about her, then say that he offers no criticism of Jackson. Those statements are incompatible. It is true that Somerby himself offers no evidence in support of his claim that she does not deserve such praise, but his denial and criticism of the praise offered Jackson is itself a criticism of Jackson's background and performance and Somerby does say he finds her testimony lacking.

      What's wrong with this pudding. Nothing, it is fine, it just isn't wonderful. In what way isn't it wonderful? I'm not criticizing it, it just doesn't ring my bell. How not? crickets... This is what Somerby is doing.

      Then Somerby claims that his focus is those four stooges, but in the process he has subtlely torn down Jackson by attacking the praise of her, all without any evidence against her whatsoever.

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    8. You don't deserve any respect. No one that casually and stupidly throws around accusations of racism and bigotry does.

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    9. OK, I am done with you. You have revealed yourself. Have fun chatting with Mao.

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    10. You're complete garbage making the asinine claims you do. Lower than dirt.

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    11. Anyone who isn't a bigot, or isn't perfectly fine with bigotry, left the Republican Party more than two decades ago.

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    12. “He cannot both claim that she is overpraised, doesn't deserve the things being said about her, then say that he offers no criticism of Jackson.”

      This is precisely where you go wrong.

      If Jackson walks into the hearing room and sits down in her chair, and Laura Coates says it is the greatest accomplishment in human history, Somerby can point out that Coates is overpraising her without being critical of Jackson.


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    13. "If Jackson walks into the hearing room and sits down in her chair, and Laura Coates says it is the greatest accomplishment in human history"

      Well, it would be indeed "the greatest accomplishment in human history", if, say, she was completely paralyzed.

      Otherwise, just like with the liberal super-admiration for her alleged knowledge of the law, it smacks of condescension.

      Y'know, same as Vegetable in Chief praising Demigod Barry: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

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  11. From No More Mister Nice Blog:

    "But I guess Republicans can read a poll:
    A broad majority of Americans say they would vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court if they were senators, a new Marquette Law School poll finds....

    The poll found 66% of respondents say they would confirm Jackson if in the Senate, while 34% would oppose her.
    And in a poll from Quinnipiac that's truly abysmal for President Biden -- he's at 36% approval, 55% disapproval -- Brown has very good numbers, and Republican senators don't.
    Americans say 51 - 30 percent that the U.S. Senate should confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, while 19 percent did not offer an opinion.

    Americans disapprove 52 - 27 percent of the way Republican Senators are handling the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, while 21 percent did not offer an opinion.

    On the other hand, Americans approve 42 - 34 percent of the way Democratic Senators are handling the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, while 23 percent did not offer an opinion."

    Somerby will say that all these people are just parrotting what they were told to say by cable news but (1) not enough of them watch cable news, (2) his theory that people just repeat what they are told doesn't work on other poll topics.

    No one has more disrespect for the average person's opinion than Somerby does. That's another clue that he is a Republican in sheep's clothing.

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    1. Your comment shows how dumb you are. It doesn't show that Somerby is a Republican in sheep's clothing. Mindless rigid tribalism, and what comes from the left in that regard nowadays couldn't be more the case, is what Somerby opines about. I'm a Democrat. I am liberal. I KNOW that what the right wing, grand Wurlitzer echo chamber does is feed much propaganda (group think) to closed minded people. But the point here is THAT THAT IS WHAT THE LEFT ALSO DOES! AND IT IS SICKENING for its own sake, but it is also so helpful to Republicans! When the left is ABSURD in its RIGID, TRIBAL-like "reasoning", that helps Republicans win! Many of the comments here, some of which are astonishingly dumb, show such a lack of reading comprehension and are additional proof related to Bob's main argument on this topic. This moronic way of understanding stuff that says that nothing the opposing side's tribe says can be accurate, smart, or well-reasoned is DUMB! And that says that if one criticizes the moronic nature of how a darling of the left receives accolades (in rigid group think-style), that means that one must be a Republican in sheep's clothing to have uttered that or that one is a fan of the insurrection of Jan 6, or that one must not realize that Republican sh*t stinks is not a smart way to be smart about understanding stuff. Smart people, aka, people who can apply critical thinking skills, can hold more than one thought process in their head at the same time. TWO VIEWS, even ones that are DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED to the other, can BOTH be reasonable at the same time and both may have merit.

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