ARISTOTLE’S ERROR: The smell of war in this morning’s Post!


Part 3—Rucker’s return: In his second inaugural address, Franklin Roosevelt described what he saw when he looked out at the nation:
ROOSEVELT (1/20/37): I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great wealth of natural resources...

But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens—a substantial part of its whole population—who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.


I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions.

I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.
Go ahead—read the whole thing!

Roosevelt had it easy, of course. He didn’t have to survey the work of the modern-day “press corps.”

What do our young analysts see when they look out at our press corps? They see a guild whose overfed members are pre-, post-, un-, ir-, non- and even counter-rational.

This makes them think of Aristotle, who thought we so-called human beings were “the rational animal.” To see the depth of the famous Greek’s error, consider Philip Rucker’s return in today’s Washington Post.

The headline atop young Rucker’s report is bannered across the top of page A4. To be honest, there isn’t much “news” in his news report, though it drives a preferred party line.

In the hard-copy Post, the headline crosses the top of the page. This is what it says:

“New York college paid $275,000 for Hillary Clinton speech”

The dissembling by Rucker and his editors starts not long after that, as we’ll note below. First, a bit of background:

As far as we know, the speaking fees of a candidate or possible candidate has never been considered a major news topic before. Example:

In 2007, Rudy Giuliani, a declared presidential candidate, supplied required financial information to the Federal Election Commission. This is the way the New York Times reported the subsequent disclosure of information by the FEC:
KIRKPATRICK (5/17/07): Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, who just six years ago told a divorce court he had only $7,000 in assets under his control, has amassed a net worth of more than $30 million, much of it from paid speeches.


Mr. Giuliani's $30 million fortune is the most unexpected information to emerge from the disclosure forms so far. During his divorce from Donna Hanover in June 2001, a lawyer for Mr. Giuliani said he had only $7,000 in personal money ''under his control.'' His salary as mayor of New York at the time was about $195,000, and his local financial disclosure forms showed less than $800,000 in deferred compensation, pension, retirement and mutual funds. He had also signed a contract to write two books for an advance of $3 million.

The latest disclosure form suggests that his biggest source of income was speeches, capitalizing on his celebrity after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. For the period covered by the form—roughly the calendar year 2006—Mr. Giuliani reported making 124 speeches for as much as $200,000 each and earning a total of about $11.4 million.
The Post reported this information too, though only in passing. The paper conducted no jihad.

At the time, Giuliani was the runaway front-runner for the GOP nomination. Eventually, Giuliani failed as a candidate, with no one having spent any time on his speaking fees.

Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate yet, and the election in question is well over two years away. That said, the Post is waging total war about her troubling fees.

This morning, Rucker’s banner-headline piece continues that low-IQ, less than obsessively honest war. His hard-copy piece was so slippery at one major point that it has already been “cleaned up” on-line.

Rucker’s largely worthless piece is full of non-information. Right away, the youngster provides an obvious bit of snark. This is the text as it appears in our hard-copy Post:
RUCKER (7/17/14): The University at Buffalo, the largest campus of the State University of New York system, paid $275,000 for Hillary Rodham Clinton to appear at an event on campus last year, according to a contract disclosed Wednesday

Clinton’s agent asked that the university provide "a presidential glass panel teleprompter and a qualified operator" for the October 2013 speech, according to the contract. The agreement also stipulated that Clinton’s office had "final approval" of who would introduce her and the moderator of any question-and-answer session, as well as "the sets, backdrops, banners, scenery, logos, settings, etc.”

The topic and length of the former secretary of state's speech would be at her "sole discretion.”

The requirements are spelled out in a nine-page contract between the University at Buffalo and Clinton's representatives at the Harry Walker Agency. The contract was obtained through the freedom of information law by the Public Accountability Initiative, a non-profit research and educational group.
For the record, the contract also required that heat and light must be provided in the lecture hall. By a mighty act of discipline, Rucker failed to mention that demand, although—as we will show you below—an even younger “journalist” decided to take the plunge at CBS News.

People, can we talk? There’s no news value—none at all—in the discovery that Clinton got to approve the selection of the person who introduced her. To anyone but the fully impaired, there is zero news value in the fact that she got to decide the topic of her speech!

The topic of her speech!

Speaking and performance contracts are littered with such stipulations, major and minor. This is done for a very good reason:

As everyone who has ever spoken or performed understands, local organizers can dream up amazingly bad ideas when they’re left to plan such events on their own.

The dangers of these potential ideas are gravely compounded in the case of a widely targeted pol. Such politicians would have to be totally out of their minds to agree to a major public appearance without insisting on final review of all sorts of potential screwball ideas.

(For extra credit only: Read through the many stipulations in the nine-page contract, most of which seem to be standard. Try to imagine what sort of disastrous past events led to the inclusion of each stipulation.)

The start of this horrible youngster’s report is filled with ersatz information. That said, he rushed this one requirement right to the top of the pile:

“Clinton’s agent asked that the university provide ‘a presidential glass panel teleprompter and a qualified operator’ for the October 2013 speech.”

As anyone with an ounce of sense knows, that tidbit was offered as snark bait. There is absolutely no other reason why that trivial point would appear where it does. (Below, we’ll show you what the even younger CBS “journalist” wrote.)

At this point, Rucker was simply filling space, pretending there was actual news in that innocuous contract. Eventually, though, he returned to the size of the financial haul, the focus of the jihad for which he has served as principal spear-chucker.

As he continued, Rucker pawed through the stipulations concerning the money. Please remember—when professional writers produce clumsy or murky prose, you’re often getting played:
RUCKER (continuing directly): The contract reveals for the first time many of the details surrounding the lucrative speaking career of Clinton, who is considering a run for president in 2016. Since stepping down from the State Department in early 2013, Clinton has addressed scores of audiences, many of them trade conventions, Wall Street banks and other industry groups.

Clinton has also given paid speeches at eight universities, four of them public institutions. In those instances, she has said, she donated her fees to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family's non-profit philanthropic organization. The Buffalo contract stipulates that the "net honorarium" go to the Clinton Foundation, but only after the "full contract fee" of $275,000 was paid to the Harry Walker Agency. The contract does not say how much of the fee would eventually flow to the foundation.

The University at Buffalo issued a statement Wednesday saying that “no state funding or student tuition revenue" was used to pay for Clinton's speech. The statement said the fee was paid for by ticket sales and other sponsorships and endowments.

About 6,500 students and community members attended Clinton's Oct. 23 speech at the university's Alumni Arena.
“The contract does not say how much of the fee would eventually flow to the foundation?” Is it just us, or does that sound rather bad?

Last Sunday, Maureen Dowd was semi-suggesting that maybe Clinton doesn’t really donate her fees from college events to the Clinton Foundation. As Rucker notes, this contract specifically states that the “net honorarium” will in fact go to the foundation. This is included in the contract for somewhat obscure reasons, apparently concerning the university’s need to engage in “personal entertainment tax withholding.”

In a rational world, a journalist would actually explain the passage in question. Instead, Rucker constructed a clumsy, highly suggestive statement—a statement which has now been removed from his report on-line.

In the hard-copy Post, Rucker’s suggestive statement gave birth to a highly suggestive photo caption:
Rucker’s suggestive statement: “The contract does not say how much of the fee would eventually flow to the foundation.”

The Post’s highly suggestive photo caption: “When Hillary Clinton is paid for a speech at a university, she has said she gives the money to the Clintons’ foundation. Her contract with the University at Buffalo did not specify the disbursement.
“Her contract with the university did not specify the disbursement?” That highly suggestive caption is also missing on-line.

This is what jihad looks like in a post-rational culture! When Giuliani actually was a major candidate, his large fees caused barely a ripple.

Clinton’s isn’t a candidate yet. But her large fees are being treated like major news. Unsupported suggestions of misconduct keep getting strangely floated.

Why does the phrase “net honorarium” appear in the contract? We don’t know, but we have an excuse—we read American newspapers.

Having confessed our ignorance, we’ll take a guess. It may be that the Walker Agency takes a standard agent’s fee before the donation occurs. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect a “journalist” to explain in a rational culture.

In our culture, the “journalists” are increasingly young. They’re also increasingly incompetent and/or callow.

To see what we mean, try this: Brace yourself, then review the work of Lindsey Boerma, a hopelessly incompetent youngster who types for CBS News.

Boerma graduated from Pepperdine in 2010. That makes her even younger than the relentlessly horrible Rucker, who is, to be fair, a competent, willing spear-chucker.

Boerma’s report on this topic is almost wholly driven by snark. For that reason, she went to that “presidential glass panel teleprompter” rather quickly, just as Rucker did

Granted, Boerma’s piece only appears at CBS News on-line. But try to believe that CBS News puts work like this in print.

Snarking sweetly, Boerma lists six things you’ll have to do if you want Clinton to speak to your group. Her second entry concerns the prompter. We'd call it an instant classic:
BOERMA (7/16/14): "A presidential glass panel teleprompter and a qualified operator": It's unclear to the layman what a "presidential" teleprompter entails, but Clinton's contract warned that she may require that "the Sponsor pay for and provide a presidential glass teleprompter and a qualified operator."
“It’s unclear to the layman” what that term means? It doesn’t seem to occur to Boerma that she herself isn’t a “layman.”

Supposedly, Boerma’s a journalist! As such, before she posts bullshit like this, she’s supposed to conduct a Google search to learn what she’s talking about.

This very morning, we did a search of the unfamiliar phrase, “presidential glass panel teleprompter.” We did it after we read Rucker’s report.

Our search took us to Boerma’s hapless effort. It also led us to this.

If you click that link, you’ll learn what that industry term entails. Even a layman could do it!

Even the layman is allowed to conduct Google searches today! But in our highly post-rational world, our journalists no longer exist to provide information.

Our news orgs exist for jihad and snark. It has been this way for quite a long time, though everyone inside the guild agrees that this can’t be discussed.

What does “journalism” look like in a post-rational culture? It may look something like this:

Giuliani’s very large fees were ignored. Clinton’s very large fees serve as occasion for total war, featuring large amounts of dissembling and tons of braindead snark.

Your favorite liberals are letting this go, just as they did with the War Against Gore. People are dead all over the world so Rucker’s parents can be proud of their slick, callow baby boy.

Tomorrow: The changing of the guard

Yes, it got this bad: In a rational world, would an organization named “CBS News” be willing to post such crap?
BOERMA: An attractive venue: Known for its rough winters along the shores of Lake Erie, it's ostensibly understandable that Clinton would expect a "well heated" location for her fall engagement. It was also imperative, the contract stated, for the venue to be "well lighted and licensed," and "in good condition."
She even went to the heat and the light! How does Aristotle like us “rational animals” now?


  1. Hillary Clinton may run for president. She may not. Right now she is a private citizen. If she does run for president, she will have to do the required financial disclosure as Giuliani did. If something wrong or unethical is found, the crazy media can demand answers and explanations then. Why isn't the media investigatimg Jeb Bush's speeches. He may run also. Maybe it's because they respect his current status as a private citizen. Or maybe it's because he's a male potential candidate. Or maybe it's because he's a Bush. I can only speculate, but this much is clear: Hillary Clinton is the only potential presidential candidate to be under investigation for doing what many others have done.

    1. We think it is the woman thing.

      But that begs a larger question.

      This kind of thing has been done to a prominent woman politican before, so why did BOB not cover that?

      Why didn't he speak up in defense of Sarah Palin in 2010 during "Bendy-straw gate"? As we recall they (the guild) attacked her speaking fees to colleges, her contract stipulations, and even the fees charged by her daughter.

      Of course in BOB's defense, he did launch an attack on Katie Couric for her interview with Sarah Palin similar to the one he used on Diane Sawyer for her recent interview with Hillary Clinton. Even mentioned Couric's big bucks salary.

      Of course he didn't call Couric olingeanous, old, or a coot. And his point of attack was not asking hard enough follow up questions.

      We shall forever be forced to ask:

      If BOB had only defended Sarah Palin during the jihad known as "Bendy-strawgate" would Hillary have to put up with this madness today?


    2. Kayzeenophobe!

      You've wasted more time again. You ain't getting that back!

      Have a good one!

    3. You're our number 1 fan. We will always be thankful.

      We hope Msgr. Placa never snuck up on you while Rudy was out giving speeches and you were high on drugs.


    4. Speaking of Rudy, did Bob rush to Rudy's defense back in '07 when the New York Times was detailed the swag he was making on the lecture circuit?

    5. Part 1.02: Giuliani Speaking Fees

      Second hit.....

      "Bill Clinton over-charged for a speech! Almost surely, Solomon’s piece will spawn that narrative. That said, we strongly recommend this May 23 report by Media Matters about a similar, earlier narrative. In that case, John Edwards charged too much for a speech—and Rudy Giuliani got a pass, although he’d charged a great deal more to a similar institution. Here at THE HOWLER, we heard a lot about Edwards’ speech—and nothing at all about Giuliani’s."

      BOB says a bit more than we have excerpted here, but it seems that while his memory about the lack of Giuliani coverage is consistent he seems to have made himself out to be either a liar or at least forgetful.

      Here is what BOB wrote today:

      "As far as we know, the speaking fees of a candidate or possible candidate has never been considered a major news topic before"

      We strongly recommend devoted Howler fans follow the link in this comment and read the whole post. You'll be surprised at how much BOB has evolved since 2007.

      Then follow his link to the Media Matters coverage of Edwards. It seems it was a major news topic.


    6. One way he has "evolved: since 2007, is back then he could only squeeze a few words at the tail end of his daily howl about this issue.

      These days, he can milk it for four days, and counting, of "supplementals."

    7. The first link is quite interesting. Yes, it "seems" that Bob was taking both the NYT and the WaPo to task for not reporting in "real time" the reason Rudy left the Iraq Study Group.

      That news was revealed some months later by Newsday. "Possible" 2008 candidate Rudy was hitting the road on the rather lucrative lecture circuit.

      Apparently, this was a fact that the people of America needed to know.

      And of course, he pointed out the double standard then how "possible candidate" John Edwards' speaking gigs at universities were in the news, but not Rudy's.

      And by 2014, he can't recall the speaking fees of any candidate or possible candidate before rude questions were asked of Hillary.

  2. I'm aware of that whether TDH is or not. So what? She's a private citizen and if she runs, you can choose not to vote for her. My point isn't that everyone does it, but of those who do, she is being treated by a very different standard. If you can enlighten me as to why this is so, I'd be grateful. She

  3. "How does Aristotle like us 'rational animals' now?"

    That question cannot be definitively answered until LeBron James weighs in with his take on the matter.

    1. I'd rather hear what Sugar K Leonard has to say. LeBron is a has been now, rusting like everything else in Northern Ohio.
      Shoot, even Dennis Kucinich is just scrap heap fodder for FOX now.

  4. It's because 1. it's "sport" 2. it's easy 3. no one will push back.

    Bush's people would push make immediately with the swiftness and precision of ninjas.

  5. You mean to say fear of those swift, precise Bushie ninja's kept TDH from including the Politico article in his jihad against Aristotle series?

    Or did I miss your point entirely other than its easy and its sport.

  6. " . . .she is being treated by a very different standard."

    Yes, a favorite Somerby tale that is always pleasing to his tribe.

  7. Bob has already demonstrated that his knowledge and understanding of both Inka culture and Aristotle are limited to what he learned in Anthropology 101 and Philosophy 101 more than 40 years ago.

    But if he is going to continue to throw around the word "jihad", he should at least learn what it really means.

    That is, if he wants to avoid looking like a boob.

  8. How would Aristotle view us now? Well I am sure, considering one of his star pupils, Alexander of Macedonia, conquered most of the Western World at an age when he was below that of Mr. Rucker, might chortle at Somerby continuing to refer to Mr. Rucker as a youngster.

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