TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2015

Part 2—Chris Hedges invents a fact:
What you are about to read appears in the new Salon, this morning.

It was written by a Stanford professor—more precisely, by “the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford University.” Below, you see the opening paragraph of this gruesome professor’s gruesome attempt at analysis:
PALUMBO-LIU (7/21/15): I have been late getting to David Brooks’ column on Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White.” I was absorbed by the case of Sandra Bland, the young black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell, supposedly by her own hand. For many, this seems highly implausible, given the fact that she had just landed her dream job at her alma mater and had displayed no signs of depression or poor health, except for the arm that was likely broken or fractured during her arrest. So the thought Bland would or even could kill herself seems incredible.
According to the horrific David Palumbo-Liu, the late Sandra Bland “had displayed no signs of depression.” On that basis, “the thought Bland would or even could kill herself seems incredible,” the professor thoughtfully writes.

Professor Palumbo-Liu is a modern horror show—a type of show which now afflicts readers of pseudo-progressive sites like the new Salon. Our professor goes on to rail against Brooks’ recent column—a column which, in our view, was heavily underwhelming.

The professor is useless throughout. But good God! He started with that statement about the late Sandra Bland. In it, he explicitly says that she “had displayed no signs of depression.”

Our lizard brains will thrash and flail, seeking ways to make the professor’s statement turn out to be technically accurate. That said, this professor is a very bad person, of an increasingly familiar kind.

The Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor is a gruesome artifact of our own pseudo-progressive tribe. He represents the current movement in which our tribe invents, embellishes and disappears facts so we can present our tribally-preferred, impressively dick-grabbing stories—the stories we love to hear.

Did Sandra Bland take her own life? Like our horrific professor, we have no way of knowing. But everyone from the AP on down has reported her self-reported battle with depression and PTSD.

These reports began appearing at least five days ago. For links to the news reports in question, see yesterday afternoon’s post.

Everyone from the AP on down has reported Bland’s Facebook posts, in which she discussed her depression. Everyone but the new Salon, where our progressive brains are routinely shielded from such undesirable facts.

Beyond that, these facts don’t seem to have penetrated The Farm, where the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor tugs his member and tells us the stories he likes.

This professor has been a nightmare at the new Salon before; he’ll be a nightmare there again. But make no mistake:

In such ways, our haughty intellectual leaders been doing a strong imitation of those old demons, Rush and Sean. Again and again, the evidence is unmistakable:

Despite our endless claims to the contrary, We are truly a great deal like Them, at least within the aeries of our “intellectual leaders.”

The professor has misled progressives today. Then again, so did the apparently slippery Chris Hedges, in a recent book event broadcast on C-Span.

Question: What sort of peril do black citizens face from misconduct by police? This topic, which was ignored forever, has come front and center in the past several years.

In the event broadcast on C-Span, Hedges was discussing his new book, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt. To watch the whole session, click here.

For what it’s with, we largely agree with Hedges’ politics and world view, to the extent that we understand them. We only disagree with his ridiculous name-dropping, with his ghastly air of self-importance, and with his apparent belief that his obvious moral greatness allows him to dream up and disappear facts.

At about the fifteen-minute mark of the C-Span videotape, Hedges warns his audience about the perils of climate change, which are real, of course. Then, he proceeded to this:
HEDGES (5/6/15): These are the death throes of the planet. And corporate forces exploit until there’s nothing left.

In theological terms, in many ways they are forces of death, quite literally, when we talk about those forces vis-a-vis climate change. That’s the reality that we face. That is the political, the economic, the environmental reality that we are up against.

And the capacity of the state to control the citizen, to monitor the citizen, to use lethal force against unarmed citizens. And all of the marches by Black Lives Matter, all of the coverage, all of the videos that show us the murder, by militarized police forces, of unarmed citizens, do nothing.

The numbers of citizens keep being killed. Every 28 hours, usually, a young man or woman of color is murdered, unarmed, in this country.

And so, how do we react? How do we resist? What does it take and what will the state do? That’s what I tried to look at in the book, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt.
Few people would doubt this fiery fellow’s moral greatness. On the other hand, we were fairly sure that his fuzzy claim, the one we’ve highlighted, was wrong.

What’s “fuzzy” about that claim? According to Hedges, “every 28 hours, usually,” a young man or woman of color is murdered, unarmed, in this country. Given the context of his full statement, Hedges made it sound like these almost daily “murders” are committed by police.

Every 28 hours, usually? We’re sorry, but that construction doesn’t make sense. And Hedges, who is technically bright, is certainly able to grasp that.

That said, how accurate is Hedges’ apparent overall claim? How frequently are young people of color “murdered,” or even killed, by police? How frequently are such people unarmed?

Below, we’ll link you to the original source of Hedges’ claim. In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death last year, that original source was debunked by several major fact-checking sites.

In the statement he made at his recent book event, Hedges was actually embellishing the original claim, which had long since been debunked. But so it goes when our fiery leaders get a moral snootful.

How frequently are people of color killed by police? How frequently are they unarmed? It’s hard to form a perfect answer to such questions, but the Washington Post’s new site about police shootings may suggest a general answer to those important questions.

According to the Post’s new site, 531 people have been shot and killed by police so far this year. The Post presents these numbers about the race and ethnicity of the deceased:
People shot and killed by police this year
Whites 253
Blacks 132
Hispanics 83
Other 19
Unknown 44
That’s a lot of people. By the norms of the developed world, it’s an astonishing number. But then, as is widely noted, our society is “awash in guns.”

What is the race and ethnicity of the deceased? If we’re talking whites and blacks, roughly twice as many whites have been shot and killed by police this year. If we’re talking “people of color,” the total is at least 215 and may go up from there.

That’s a lot of people! On average, several people are shot and killed by police on a daily basis. On average, more than one person of color has been killed on a daily basis this year. The daily average is somewhat higher for whites.

That’s a lot of people being shot and killed by police! But in his obvious moral greatness, Hedges didn’t say that people were being killed by police. He said young people—young people who were unarmed—were being murdered by police.

Every 28 hours!

We hate to be a buzzkill for Hedges, whose name-dropping and self-glorification suffuse his C-Span event. But according to the Post’s research, the vast majority of the people in question were not unarmed when they were shot and killed by police.

(Nor is it clear that they were “young.” That’s a subjective assessment, of course, but the roll call of shooting victims doesn't skew enormously young.)

Our society is awash in guns. This is a fact we all understand until our pseudo-progressive stars start spewing their bogus facts to animate the stories we love and to heighten our sense of tribal greatness.

The research by the Washington Post can always be wrong. But according to the Post, the vast majority of people shot and killed by police this year were in fact bearing deadly weapons:
People shot and killed by police this year
Deadly weapon 445
Toy weapon 19
Unarmed 57
Unknown 10
According to the Post’s research, the vast majority were armed. Unless you listen to Hedges, who is still offering an embellished version of a claim which was widely debunked last year.

For many years, liberals complained about the dissembling of people like Rush and Sean. During much of that time, the liberal world was largely asleep in the woods, uttering tiny peeps while Rush and Sean marauded.

In the past decade, the liberal and progressive worlds have emerged from that long slumber. As we wiped the sleep from our eyes, it turned out that we seem to love inventing, embellishing and disappearing our tribal facts too!

Our “intellectual leaders” do this sort of thing again and again and again. In the process, they get us very upset.

We’re inclined to regard them as very bad people. Do we really believe this helps?

Tomorrow: At the new Salon, a very famous case

Hedges keep jumping the moon: What is the actual state of affairs concerning police shootings? You might think questions like that were important, until you watched Hedges at work.

On May 30, Hedges did an interview on C-Span in which he took another shot at the question. On that occasion, he said this to C-Span’s long-suffering Peter Slen:
HEDGES (5/30/15): We live in a country where almost every 28 hours an African-American man or woman is shot dead, lethal force. They’re usually unarmed. We have videos of our police actually murdering unarmed civilians and yet, despite the outcry, it continues.

They’re effective in this sense. They expose the myth, or the lying, the state uses to explain itself to the public.
This time, it was “almost every 28 hours.” Again, Hedges suggested, but didn’t say, that these killings were done by police.

On this occasion, the people shot dead were usually unarmed. They weren’t necessarily young.

A few days later, Hedges stated his fact a third way. On this occasion, he was being interviewed by the new Salon:
SALON (6/4/15): Is there a revolutionary consciousness building in America?

HEDGES: Well, it is definitely building. But until there is an ideological framework that large numbers of people embrace to challenge the old ideological framework, nothing is going to happen. Some things can happen; you can have sporadic uprisings as you had in Ferguson or you had in Baltimore. But until they are infused with that kind of political vision, they are reactive, in essence.

So you have, every 28 hours, a person of color, usually a poor person of color, being killed with lethal force—and, of course, in most of these cases they are unarmed. So people march in the streets and people protest, and yet the killings don’t stop, even when they are captured on video. I mean we have videos of people being murdered by the police and the police walk away. This is symptomatic of a state that is ossified and can no longer respond rationally to what is happening to the citizenry, because it exclusively serves the interest of corporate power.
How often are people of color killed by the police? How often are such people unarmed?

By now, Hedges had stated his fact two or three different ways. But he always cited a time frame of 28 hours.

Alas! Hedges seemed to be working from a study which was widely debunked last year. Last December, Michelle Ye Hee Lee examined the study’s central claim for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog. In the course of her piece, she linked to a previous fact-check by the Politifact site.

Politifact had done its work in August 2014, in response to a mistaken claim by CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill. To his credit, Hill acknowledged that he had overstated the facts after Politifact’s fact-check.

We liberals hated this sort of thing when it was done by Rush and Sean. We seem to love it when it’s done by our own professors.

Bland had displayed no signs of depression! An unarmed young person of color is murdered by the police every 28 hours!

Our “leaders” can keep this up all day. Do we think this helps?


  1. My lizard brain tells me this was reported by the Associated Press several days ago.

    "Bland's sister, Shante Needham, said Bland had called her from jail Saturday afternoon, telling her that she'd been arrested, but didn't know why. She also said an officer had placed his knee in her back and she thought her arm had been broken.

    "She was very aggravated. She seemed to be in pain. She really felt that her arm had been fractured," Needham said, holding back tears. "I told her I would work on getting her out."

    That didn't stop Bob Somerby from omitting this when he wrote his post yesterday accusing the Charles Blow of thinking himself "noble and strong" for omitting a fact Somerby, the selective omitter, thought more important.

    So what term should be applied to Bob Somerby? Proud strong hustler or dick grabbing professor? Which would Malala choose? Pre-human droogs want to know!

    1. There are a lot of facts Somerby omitted. You have to ask, were these omitted facts relevant to any point being made? You never seem to ask that, for some reason.

    2. I don't have to ask. If you do that is a shame.

  2. I was never high on Christ Hedges. His preacherly tone (now he is officially one) always turned me off, as well as his general inflated sense of self-importance. I was surprised that Somerby did not reference his long history of plagiarism as well.


    1. "Christ" Hedges is a perfectly appropriate typo, though...

  3. Chris Hedges has been one of my favorites "journallectuals" for some time, but I do tire of his apocalyptic jeremiads. If only he would stick to the cogent analyses he's capable of and skip the calls for revolt or "the end is near" eschatologies (i.e., the end of capitalism, the end of democracy, the end of life on earth, yada, yada, yada), he'd be one of the most readable essayists in the business. (Sorry, Truthdig socialists, news is a business.)
    That's what a degree in divinity will do to your journalism. Every time very time I read too much Hedges in a sitting, the resulting despondency makes me want to pull a Sandra Bland. (Hey, that wasn't funny!)

  4. Blowme Wang-YankerJuly 21, 2015 at 12:55 PM

    Bob Somerby, armed with his undergraduate major in philosophy wrestles a dick grabbing professor of Comparative Literature to the ground.

    Thank God for Somerby. I, like most progressives, am easily led astray by the many professors of comparative literature I follow as leaders.

    I am just glad the Composition Police were not around to charge him with abruptly changing topics from Hedges to the horrific Professor without a signal.

    1. What is your undergraduate degree in, Blowme?

    2. It is quite a long story @ 1:59. I'm not sure Somerby can waste the bandwidth needed for me to tell it.

    3. Say, wasn't that professor Bob was praising the other day also a professor of comparative literature? You know, the one who did to the New York Times whatever it is Bob has been asking professors to do for all these years?

      I remember he was going to follow up on it but may have forgotten. I'll go to the archives and see if I can find it.
      I hope I don't find him playing with himself.

    4. John William Sterling Professor Bromwich.
      Pedigree: Yale. Yale. Yale.
      Professor of English at Yale.

      Did not play with himself but criticized the NY Times for bringing up young Bernie Sanders tendency to write about male rape fantasy. And female rape fantasy. Nobody fantasizes about grabbing their own unit, do they? Because they don't have to. They just do.

  5. The numbers 77 cents and 28 hrs have been cemented in place as unquestionable fact right along with 6 million. Easy to remember, and to even dare question it is blasphemy among a solid majority of people in the world. If that isn't effective propaganda I don't know what is.

    1. Well, I know what the 77 cents means, and I understand the reference to 28 hours in the context of this post by TDH. But tell me, what do you reference by the "6 million"? Just curious.

    2. That's a shootout from one of Bob's Stormfront friends.

    3. The 77 cents is an accurate number -- the disagreement is about what it is measuring. The 28 hours doesn't seem to be accurate except as a measure of the passage of time.

    4. Houston, we have a problem here.

    5. Not the least of which is that everyone in Houston was Riffed or retired. And nobody covered the damn Pluto flyby.

    6. Isn't 6.5 million the number JEB! now claims to need to work longer hours? (We still don't know if he wants them to work 70 minute hours or 28 hour days.)

  6. How can someone as formerly intelligent as Chris Hedges think characterizing someone as "unarmed" means they cannot justifiably be killed or injured by someone who is armed, and that it is VERY easy to conceive of numerous circumstances in every encounter under which this can be true?

    1. There is a similar mistaken belief that someone with a gun cannot be threatened by someone with a knife or baseball bat or similar weapon.

  7. Did Hedges "invent" a fact?

    We don't know. We never heard of Chris Hedges before this post. Bob Somerby says he invented a fact. "Part 2—Chris Hedges invents a fact:" is, in fact, the subtitle of his post.

    At first we were not sure which fact Somerby says Hedges had invented. He immediately began writing about some other person we never heard of, Professor Louise Hewlett Nixon Palumbo-Liu.

    Apparently this Professor is a guy, despite the confusing name, and his dick grabbing caught Somerby's attention. At first we thought another campus rape story was in store for us what with the references to thrashing lizards, tugging members and such. But we knew this couldn't be "the fact" which got invented since men have been tugging their members ever since they found out they were not as agile as their dogs.

    In such ways our blogger warms up to deliver up demons like Rush and Hannity to compare to people he sort of claims to like. That is where Hedges, the inventor, enters the picture. Hedges, like many member tuggers, likes things slippery.

    Fairly quickly we are told this otherwise morally great guy Hedges has made a "fuzzy claim." We are told this claim, though fuzzy, "sounds like" it involves police murdering unarmed people. This is "apparent." Sometimes you have to add "sounds like" to fuzzy things to make them "apparent" which should not be misconstrued as embellishment because we go on to learn that embellishment is also something Hedges did in the course of inventing a fact, which is wrong.

    Bob goes on to show Hedges embellishing this fuzzy claim on two other occasions. He goes into meticulous detail to demonstrate, using the Washington Post and perhaps even geometric logic why the claim, if it is what it sounds like it apparently is, cannot be factually accurate.

    Three times in May and June of 2015 Hedges has given slightly different, even embellished versions of this fuzzy claim which you can apparently, though the aid of context, the addition of things apparent, plus what things sound like come up with the fact that Hedges invented. We're still not sure what the fact is. Nor when it went from the caterpillar state of a fuzzy claim to the full winged version of invented fact.

    However, Somerby does tell us this, stuck inconspicuously in the midst of this ascot numbing story: "Below, we’ll link you to the original source of Hedges’ claim."

    Does Bob spoil our fun by telling us the original source? No, he just links to it. Then he tell us that the claim he says Hedges makes in a fuzzy version in 2015 was made by a person on CNN in 2014. The link is to the Washington Post. The Post shows the earlier CNN version was closer to the cleared up version Somerby concocted in 2015 from the fuzzy embellished claims Hedges altered over three appearances. And it did not originate with the guy on CNN. It came from a study done by the Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement in 2013.

    Our conclusion: Al Gore did not invent nor did he claim to invent the Internet. Chris Hedges did not invent a fact. He botched and embellished debunked claims invented earlier which were based on a report which may or may not have been based on fact. The report was widely circulated over the Internet. Al Gore took the initiative in creating the Internet.

    Tomorrow: Bob Somerby invents a fact.

    1. You know, if you have a point, I wish you'd just make it, instead of going on and on mocking Somerby for your own amusement.

    2. Well, lets see. We took 582 words. Bob used a mere 2,148.

      Tell us the fact Hedges invented.

    3. The invented fact is that unarmed black people are being murdered with impunity by cops nearly every day.

    4. Now all you have to do is prove that someone else didn't invent it two years before Hedges. And sadly, for the slower of Bob's readers, like Some Guy @ 11:40, Somerby proved that somebody else did. It just took him 2250 or so words and a link elsewhere to do so.

      But don't worry. Al Gore didn't invent the internet either. Some prevaricators just invented that he claimed he did.

    5. Today: Bob Somerby Invents a Fact

      As promised, tomorrow has arrived so it is time for Part 2.

      Somerby claimed in this very long post that Chris Hedges invented a fact that in reality was a claim made by others two years before it came out of Hedges's mouth.

      In his post, in between professorial pecker put downs, Bob Somerby inveted a fact himself. He wrote:

      "Everyone from the AP on down has reported Bland’s Facebook posts, in which she discussed her depression. Everyone but the new Salon, where our progressive brains are routinely shielded from such undesirable facts. "

      From Salon:

      FRIDAY, JUL 17, 2015 12:02 PM CDT


      "Who was Sandra Bland?

      Bland — known among her four sisters as “Sandy B” — was a 28-year-old woman from the Chicago suburb of Naperville. She graduated from Prairie View A&M where she planned to return on Wednesday, after accepting a job with the university. In the past, Bland had spoken publicly about her struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.


      We do not know if "everyone" had reported Bland's admission of depression as Somerby grandiosely proclaims. We do know he invented the fact that Salon had not.

      We hope this was short enough for Some Guy.

    6. Did he invent the fact that Hedges did not?

    7. No. He disappeared it.

      But he cleverly covered his tracks by hiding what he disappeared behind a link to Ye Hee Lee, knowing his careful conditioning of his readership would keep them from following into the den of what sounds like an Asian Tiger.

      It is all clearly apparent in the context of everything bad he has said about Politifact, the Post's Fact Checker Blog, and those pesky high Asian test scores over the years.

    8. Why waste all this time splitting hairs when there are real issues to talk about?

    9. Maddow is off banging her toy somewhere else. That is why.

      What would you have us discuss more important than dick grabbing comparative lit profs? Rape culture?

  8. Of course we don't think this helps. Mr. Somerby. That isn’t the fault of young people. It isn’t fair, it doesn’t make sense, to expect young people to fill the void.

  9. Bland claimed her arm was broken. Was that verified by autopsy?

    Why didn't her sister get her out on bail? Why wasn't she arraigned if she was there 3 days? Did no public defender meet with her to tell her what the charges were? Why wouldn't she know that her lack of cooperation was the likely reason she was arrested? Did she have to ask -- and if she did, what does that suggest about her knowledge of how to interact with cops and other authorities -- remember, she is being described as an activist. How did whatever caused her PTSD interact with the specifics of this situation to produce her inappropriate reaction?

  10. I just watched the video of Bland's arrest. Her agitation is such that the cop might have wondered whether she was on something. He might have asked her to get out of the car in order to assess whether she was driving under the influence.

    1. "He might have wondered He might have wondered. I did. Because I watched a dash cam on TV."

      Of course if a police car was following you for some distance and you were doing nothing wrong. then you pulled to the right lane to let him pass and he pulled you over to tell you he was stopping you for changing lanes without signalling you might be agitated as well.

    2. If a police car were behind me, I would signal my lane change. Why didn't she?

    3. If you were a First Lieutenant in Vietnam you also would have checked under you bedroll each night for your own men's grenades.

    4. Someone deserves fragging for following driving laws? Don't be stupid. If a cop is following you, you stick to the speed limit and use your turn signals. If she didn't, perhaps she was in an altered state. It is beyond stupid to do otherwise. She looks like she was deliberately trying to provoke the cop. What is the payoff for that?

    5. "Someone deserves fragging for following traffic laws?"

      Nobody said anyone deserved fragging.

    6. What do you think this means:

      "If you were a First Lieutenant in Vietnam you also would have checked under you bedroll each night for your own men's grenades."

    7. With reading comprehension like yours it is little wonder the Poles are surpassing the USA on PISA tests.

    8. A non-answer.

    9. Sorry this is so difficult for you. It means if you were a First Lieutenant in Vietnam you also would have checked under you bedroll each night for your own men's grenades.

    10. Why would I have done that when most fragging took place out on patrols?

    11. I have no idea. I answered when you asked what it meant.

  11. In the comments about this event on various webpages, people keep saying that it was the officer's job to deescalate the situation. I think that is a mistake. It is the officer's job to enforce the law. At the point where he asked Bland to put out her cigarette, he already intended to ask her to get out of the car, because that is a routine precaution to prevent someone from using the cigarette to try to burn them. He most likely wanted her out of the car in order to assess whether she was driving under the influence. One way to do that is to see whether she can stand without swaying. It would provide him with a better observation of her state, including coordination. He no doubt did that because her argumentativeness and irritability suggested she was not behaving normally. He is doing his job when he tries to take someone who is under the influence off the roads -- they might at some point hit a pedestrian or child because they are impaired, so he needed to figure out why she was behaving as she was. Her failure to cooperate is what escalated that situation. Commenters see it as punitive and ask why he couldn't just give her the warning and leave her alone. If she is behaving oddly because she is on something, it is his job to deal with that so she isn't a danger on the road. That is most likely why he continued to interact with her and didn't just hand her the ticket and go.

    1. Please take your comment to the various web pages to which you refer.

    2. "It is the officer's job to enforce the law."

      he didn't have to physically drag her out of her vehicle to do that. It was a minor traffic citation, for Christ's sake. On a virtually empty road.

      "He most likely wanted her out of the car in order to assess whether she was driving under the influence."

      Do you have any actual evidence to support that speculation, or is this strictly from out of your ass?
      All this shit about whether she was "under the influence" is just total bullshit. Look at the video again. There were no signs of any of that. She was pissed, yes, but pretty damn coherent.

      Was a roadside sobriety test given? What about results of any blood tests after her arrest?

      "At the point where he asked Bland to put out her cigarette, he already intended to ask her to get out of the car,.."

      That's bullshit. I saw the video and he got pissed when she argued with him about putting her cigarette out, that's when he ordered her to get out of the vehicle. I'm sure if she tried to immolate the cop with her lit cigarette, he would have justifiably shot her in the head. After all, she did change lanes without using a blinker.

      She cooperated. She pulled over to get her ticket.

      I am really amazed at many of my fellow Americans. When did we become this police state where cops can harass you at will and we are all supposed to be submissive obedient servants? I watched that video and the cop was a complete jerk, allowing a simple lane change violation to escalate to the point where the woman spent 3 days in jail. People seem to be mighty generous with "other peoples" rights. The same people who rushed to Clive Bundy's defense where people were aiming rifles at federal law enforcement, are now so demanding of unquestioning obsequious obedience to a fucking traffic cop. go figure.