Frighteningly, we aren’t making this up!


It came from the Washington Post:
This evening, monsters will rise from the deep.

Right on cue, a bit of prose arose this morning from the front page of the Washington Post. This passage comes from a profile of Ben Carson’s early years:
TANKERSLEY (10/31/15): Only 1 in 20 children born into deep poverty in Detroit will climb into the top quintile of income earners when she or he grows up, according to research by economists at Harvard, Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley. Barely 1 in 100 will rise, as Carson did, all the way to the top 1 percent.

By almost every conceivable metric, young Benjamin Carson defied the odds...
Barely 1 in 100 will rise to the top one percent! On this most frightening of all days, that monster came from the Post.

We’ve asked you this many times in the past:

Are these life forms human?

Albert Einstein at Halloween!


No particle is an island:
Leave it to Obama!

Only Obama would have us set our clocks back on Halloween night, giving the kids an extra hour to collect free candy.

The rest of us are handed sweet-sounding nostrums promising an “extra hour of daylight.” Our view? There’s no way these schemes are going to work. Big government never does!

We don't know which is worse in these schemes, the tooth or the moral decay. Meanwhile, we promised a special Halloween post. For reasons beyond our control, we’re forced to postpone.

As an intermediate treat, we’ll link you to the news report which will form the basis of our eventual post. Here it is, live and direct from the October 22 New York Times:

"Sorry, Einstein. Quantum Study Suggests 'Spooky Action' Is Real."

At the new Salon, the possible errors discussed in this report are now mockingly described as “Einsteinsplaining.” As always, we were struck by the types of journalism which are used to report such matters.

No particle is an island! We believe John Donne said that first.

Yesterday, it became clear that we modern Americans refuse to apply this lofty approach to political figures in the Clinton/Gore/Clinton orbit. We refer to attempts by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent and Glenn Kessler to challenge Marco Rubio’s recent attacks on Candidate Clinton as a “liar.”

Alas! Sargent threw Susan Rice back under the bus as he “debunked” the charge against Clinton. Meanwhile, in his Fact Checker post, Kessler awarded only two Pinocchios to Rubio for his heartfelt attack on the world's new biggest liar. That struck us as a pitiful tap on the wrist, given the material Kessler presented and given the fact that the Salem witch trial Rubio extended has now distorted our national discourse for roughly 23 years.

Do we moderns have the decency, and the smarts, to confront such long-running witch trials? In our view, the posts by Kessler and Sargent ran riot with conceptual confusion. Beyond that, we moderns plainly lack the courage to confront such panics when powerful interests promote them.

What actually happened at Benghazi? What is the current state of the intelligence? In the wake of last week’s congressional inquisition, such questions should have been explored on the Washington Post’s front Page, not in a pair of obscure blog posts.

That said, when we see the weakness of those posts, perhaps it’s better that the Post leaves this matter under-reported.

The liberal world has tolerated this rolling witch trial for the past 23 years. You don’t have to be an Einstein to ask these questions about our own unimpressive tribe:

Are we smart enough, and decent enough, to keep Rubio out of the White House? Based on 23 years of conduct, the answer would seem to be no. For our money, Robert Frost put it best:

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living...

Frost recited those lines at Dear Jack's inauguration. Times were different then. Ranking players didn't spend the next three years pretending that Jack was the world's biggest liar. At that time, our witch trials remained in the shadows.

We’ll explore that pair of posts next week. This weekend gives you an extra hour to gaze on those works and despair.

We're off on a mission of national import!


Halloween post on the morrow:
We're off on a mission of national import, engineered by Amtrak and the Great Pumpkin.

Our very special, award-winning Halloween post will appear tomorrow.

In the meantime, Wednesday's GOP debate has produced an intriguing moment. The basic question is this:

Which pundits are blind to a basic fact? Which pundits can't see, or can't bring themselves to say, that the CNBC moderators performed rather poorly?

Last night. Rachel Maddow couldn't see this obvious fact, joining many pundits at the new Salon. In certain circles, the thinking may go like this:

If the GOP complained about the moderators, then the moderators must have been good! This is primitive tribal thinking, the kind that leads to defeat.

In the next week, we hope to go into more detail about the way that debate was run. For ourselves, we think Candidate Cruz was basically right in his attack on the first round of questions.

Those silly, childish opening questions produced exactly zero public knowledge and were a gift to the GOP. Of course, people who want the discourse to be silly/childish possibly won't see that.

More on that topic to come. Tomorrow, our award-winning Halloween post! Action at a distance!

Taking a slightly different tack: In this morning's Washington Post, Catherine Rampell takes a slightly different approach to the questions which have arisen from the CNBC debate.

Rather plainly, the fiery pundit needs to wash her mouth out with soap. Regarding her substantive claims, we'd say she's right in her overall claims, wrong in some ways about what occurred in this week's debate.

Supplemental: Rubio drops the bomb in debate!


And other signs of the times:
The functioning of our upper-end press corps is just amazingly low.

Given their incomes and social cachet, it's amazing how unimpressive they tend to be. Last night's Republican debate provided a gruesome case in point.

Repeatedly, the questions were both snarky/negative and unchallenging at the same time. Intellectual rigor never quite entered the building.

Opportunistically, the candidates kept noting the snark and the negativity. This let them extend a familiar old charge concerning alleged liberal bias.

Becky Quick provided the evening's comic relief with her question to Candidate Trump about a statement on his official web site. Uh-oh! As became apparent, Quick didn't seem to have any idea where the statement in question had come from. When Trump denied that he's made the statement, Quick was left to say this:
QUICK (10/28/15): Where did I read this and come up with this? That you were—

TRUMP: Probably— I don’t know. You people write the stuff. I don’t know where you—



TRUMP: [Rolls eyes in frustration]
After the audience laughed at Quick, Trump continued to speak. Moments later, this exchange occurred on the same topic:
QUICK: If I may say, Mr. Trump. You’ve been, you have been— You had talked a little bit about Marco Rubio. I think you called him Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator because he was in favor of the H1B [visas].

TRUMP: I never said that. I never said that.

QUICK: So this was an erroneous article the whole way around?
Presumably, Quick had been provided the information in question by staff. For herself, she seemed to have no idea where the info came from.

Later in the evening, Quick returned to the subject, informing Trump that she had been quoting material from his own web site. Trump and Quick made quite a pair this evening.

Everyone can make a mistake. Quick's cluelessness concerning her own material may reveal the haphazard way our big TV stars gather their information and their understandings. That said, the American discourse is conducted at a very low intellectual level. This has been true for a very long time.

Here's an horrific example:

Last night, the public was exposed to a famous old script which we thought was withering on the vine. Candidate Christie uncorked the old chestnut, a gruesome tale the liberal world has never known how to address:
CHRISTIE: Let me be honest with the people who are watching at home. The government has lied to you and they have stolen from you. They told you that your Social Security money is in a trust fund. All that’s in that trust fund is a pile of IOUs for money they spent on something else a long time ago.

And they’ve stolen from you because now they know they cannot pay these benefits and Social Security is going to be insolvent in seven to eight years.


This is for the guy, you know, who owns a landscaping business out there. If somebody’s already stolen money from you, are you going to give them more?...We need to get realistic about this. We’re not— The American people, forget about anything else, they’ve already been lied to and stolen from...
"Let me be honest with the people at home," Christie sub-honestly said.

Why are Republican voters angry? In large part, because they've been hearing stories like that for the past thirty-plus years.

In that hoary old story, they've been lied to and stolen from by the federal government. All the money they've submitted in payroll taxes is now a pile of worthless IOUs. Social Security will soon be going broke.

The liberal world has never devised a clear response to that hoary old tale. Nor has the liberal world ever tried to create outreach to the tens of millions of people who get deceived by this hoary old story. The laziness of the liberal world is a large part of our ongoing story, in which our society continues to spiral downward in the face of tales of that type.

How useless are our liberal leaders? We've saved the worst for last. As Halloween approaches, this particular horror story came from Candidate Rubio:
RUBIO: OK. I know the Democrats have the ultimate SuperPac. It’s called the mainstream media, who every single day—


—and I’ll tell you why.

Last week, Hillary Clinton went before a committee. She admitted she had sent e-mails to her family saying, “Hey, this attack at Benghazi was caused by Al Qaida-like elements.” She spent over a week telling the families of those victims and the American people that it was because of a video. And yet the mainstream media is going around saying it was the greatest week in Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

It was the week she got exposed as a liar. It was the week that she got exposed as a liar—


But she has her super PAC helping her out, the American mainstream media.

QUICK: Senator Rubio, thank you very much.
Candidate Clinton was exposed as a liar last week! Here's how Rubio knows that:

Clinton sent an e-mail to her daughter saying the attack at Benghazi was caused by an al Qaeda-like group. But she told the American people that the attack was because of a video!

Did Secretray Clinton ever attribute the attack to the video? We aren't entirely sure.

But as any sane person can see, there's no contradiction there. Despite what Rubio was selling last night, there's no obvious reason why an al Qaeda-like group couldn't stage an attack because of an insulting video.

Is that what actually happened? In the wake of last week's hearing, we haven't seen a single news org try to report the facts about this situation.

What is the current state of intel concerning the cause of the attack? We've seen no one ask or say.

Once again, the L-bombs began to fly after last Thursday's hearing. The mainstream press and the liberal world both sat around sucking their thumbs, as is the reliable norm.

We're stuck inside our own Salem Village, feeding urine cakes to dogs. Our national discourse operates at roughly mental age 10. Little Betty Parris was 9 when she touched off the irrational frenzy inside historical Salem.

We're hapless and lazy and nobody likes us. We lost the White House this way in 2000. We could easily do it again.

EMANATIONS FROM SALEM VILLAGE: We'll always have (Betty) Parris!


Part 4—No journalism need apply:
Life was challenging in Salem Village, not least for the village's dogs.

In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue! In Monday's New York Times, Alexandra Alter reported what happened two hundred years later:

"It started with a prickling sensation on their skin. Then Abigail Williams, 11, and her cousin Betty Parris, 9, complained of feeling pinches and bites. They howled, writhed, went rigid and spoke gibberish. Friends and neighbors gathered in their house to pray and sing psalms.

"Weeks later, a well-meaning neighbor hit on a solution. She ordered a household servant to make a witch cake, mixing the girls’ urine into rye flour that was baked in embers, then fed to a dog, in an attempt to reveal who had bewitched them. Within days, Abigail and Betty named three local women as their tormentors."

How fair was that? A couple of kids had a few bad weeks. So the Villagers took it out on the dogs, feeding them some urine cakes as part of a fact-finding mission!

After eating their "cakes," the dogs conveyed a trio of names to the howling girls. Alter doesn't explain how the dogs could have done this.

Whatever! The girls repeated the names. A famous panic was on!

Alter was profiling Stacy Schiff, who has written a book about this famous breakdown. According to Alter, Schiff doesn't "try to explain the outbreak by attributing it to mundane outside forces." Instead, Schiff told Alter that "she felt she had to take the Puritans’ belief in witchcraft, and their deep fears and constant anxiety, seriously."

Fair enough! That said, we moderns are full of anxiety too, as a person can see from our own modern panics. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was the panic about preschools, in which 4-year-olds said they saw their teachers riding on brooms.

The 4-year-olds were believed. Instead of feeding urine to dogs, we moderns put photographs on milk cartons. Then too, there was the panic which started in 1992, a panic which largely persists.

This panic involved a highly suspicious pair of outliers from Arkansas. When the first high-profile accuser appeared, Jonathan Alter shot her down with a report in Newsweek, a report which detailed the embarrassing factual howlers in the public report for which the accuser had been richly rewarded.

The accuser had made a lot of claims. As Alter quickly showed, some of her basic claims were embarrassingly impossible.

No one fed cakes to dogs. Instead, Alter—he's Alexandra Alter's father—performed some journalism, a vanishing instinct and practice.

At first, this "journalism cure" seemed to take effect. But as the 1990s continued, this modern "replacement behavior" began to be abandoned.

The accusers kept coming forward. Sometimes, they seemed to behave in Salem-flavored ways.

A high-profile Republican congressman shot a watermelon in his back yard, hoping to prove that the witches had murdered a long-time friend. A ballyhooed accuser fell apart before a Senate pseudo-scandal committee. Gene Lyons handled the play-by-play in his 1995 book, Fools for Scandal:

"No sooner had [Senator Paul] Sarbanes begun to question Lewis about a negative Justice Department appraisal of her work when an amazing things happened. Lewis shook visibly, tears welled in her eyes, and she collapsed at the witness table. Although she managed to leave the Senate chamber on her feet, Lewis had to be hospitalized overnight and treated for high blood pressure."

"She never returned," Lyons writes, "Her Whitewater adventure was over, and not a moment too soon. By any rational standard, her appearance had been an absolute disaster."

On that same page, Lyons describes an earlier incident involving part of that same day's Senate hearing:
LYONS (page 122): Senator Barbara Boxer produced a November 1993 letter from Lewis to an attorney in which Lewis had floated a proposal to market "Presidential BITCH" T-shirts and coffee mugs mocking Hillary Clinton. She had listed the RTC office as her business phone. "Being a woman of basically the same ilk and same type," Lewis countered, "I mean that not as disrespect...I have tremendous admiration for the fact that she is a strong woman." She added that she personally had absolutely no objection to being called a bitch.
Later that day, Lewis broke down and had to be helped from the room. Needless to say, none of this stopped the era's Whitewater panic.

For moderns who are willing to see, events like these may seem to be drawn from our modern inner Salems, as was the preschool panic. That said, we moderns are inclined to think that Salem is a thing of the past. For this reasons, we take three different approaches to different panics.

It's easy to discuss the Salem panic. It happened long ago. Its participants don't seem like us.

The preschool panic is harder to dismiss and hard to explain. For that reason, we've largely disappeared the embarrassing episode, which went on for years.

The Clinton panic is still in effect. For this reason, it can't be seen as a panic at all. Our modern Village elites still are feeding urine cakes to the dogs, although they've done a bit of shape-shifting in this current panic.

In the current panic, no one literally says that the Presidential BITCH has been observed turning herself into a cat. That claim would be treated as strange by the liberal press.

As the current panic developed, the ancient claim that a witch had been spotted began to take a modern shape. The Clintons, along with their warlock Gore, became known for their "problem with the truth." This week, this has produced the revitalized claim that Candidate Clinton lied in September 2012 about the Benghazi attack.

Due to our stifling political correctness, we no longer dunk the accused into local ponds. But That said, here's something else we don't do—we don't make the slightest attempt at fashioning the "journalism cure."

It doesn't even occur to our "journalists" to examine the accuracy of these claims. Consider just the past week:

Starting last Thursday, Candidate Clinton was being widely accused, again, of lying about Benghazi, even to the families of those who died. She is said to have lied about who staged the killing attack. She is said to have lied about their motives, and about the amount of "preplanning" which went into the attack.


In the past week, have you seen a single news org present a report about that attack? A report which would describe the current state of intelligence about that killing attack?

Fellow villagers! Who did stage that killing attack? Have you seen a single news org report on that question this week? Have you seen any attempt to describe the current state of our actual knowledge?

More specifically:

Was that insulting YouTube videotape some part of the motive for the attack? Was it the sole motivation? What is the current state of intelligence? Have you seen even one news org ask?

There's one other question about the attack which has disappeared into the realm of indistinct but frightening accusation. That involves the amount of "preplanning" which went into the attack.

In real time, Republicans quickly said and suggested that months of preplanning had occurred. According to this theory, the attack had been planned to coincide with the anniversary of September 11. The appearance of the YouTube video had played no role at all.

In the past week—in the past year!—have you seen any news org attempt to report the state of the intelligence concerning these claims? For ourselves, we have not.

As we've long told you, basic facts play almost no role in our discourse as it now exists. Our discourse is basically accusation. Cake is then fed to us dogs.

Let's note one important exception:

In December 2013, the New York Times broke from the pack. Committing an act of journalism, it published an exhaustive, 7300-word report on the Benghazi attack.

This report seemed to say that the YouTube video was part of the motivation for the attack. But so what? In a time of mass paranoia, such claims must be shoved to the side.

Everyone else will understand a basic fact about panic culture. They will know that this impulse—the impulse to perform journalism—must be denied at this time.

In nineteen hundred and ninety-two, Jonathan Alter performed journalism concerning Gennifer Flowers. In his Newsweek report, he wrote about the embarrassing errors which littered her exciting report about her torrid, twelve-year affair with Bill Clinton—a torrid affair which didn't seem to have actually taken place.

Flowers was paid very large sums for her exciting reports. Performing journalism, Alter noted that Flowers had made impossible factual claims, not unlike the 4-year-olds in the preschool panic.

He also noted that Flowers had made some crazy claims about her own past. In the short run, Alter's act of journalism helped stall the new political panic.

Six years later, Flowers was back, being hailed as the world's most truthful human. In 1999, she went on Hardball, then on Hannity, to tell us about the Clintons' various murders.

No one said boo about her disgraceful, ludicrous claims. On Hannity, where she got the full hour, she used the time to tell the world that Hillary Clinton is the world's most gigantic lesbo.

By now, our village had gone Full Salem. We emailed Alter, a very nice person, asking him why Flowers was now being hailed for her truthfulness, given his own reporting about her past, crazy claims.

Her sent us a rather fuzzy email explaining, or seeming to explain, why the corps had evolved in this way. The actual truth is fairly simple:

A panic had taken hold. It now controlled the Village.

Alter's daughter wrote an interesting report about Salem Village for the New York Times this week. It's easy to see a panic for what it is when the panic occurred in 1692.

It's harder to spot the kinds of panic which have controlled our modern discourse. Awkwardly, those panics deeply involve institutions like the New York Times. Journalist families have a large stake in failing to notice such facts.

Given the way our human minds work, we'll always have Betty Parris! She was just a 9-year-old kid who believed what she had heard from a dog. The problem began when Village elders began to believe what she said.

In Salem, the panic lasted just nine months. Our panic has lasted for 23 years, and it continues apace.

Such panics spread in mysterious ways. The accusations can worm their way inside everyone's heads.

Clear vision can be hard to attain when a panic makes its way through a frightened, irrational village. We even thought we heard ripples of this panic on you-know-who's cable program last week.

Tomorrow: Cable host remembers Bill Clinton

Supplemental: Watching Ben Carson try to explain!


He's almost as bad as the Times:
"It’s hard to imagine some version of this is not true."

The statement was made by Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times. Baquet was delivering his assessment of a front-page news report in the Times on Sunday, August 2.

It’s hard to imagine that some version of the report wasn't true? In theory, it's Baquet's job to ensure that front-page reports in the New York Times are actually known to be true!

As such, his comment—made to the Washington Post's Eric Wemple—may end up in the Revealing Quotations Hall of Fame. The statement is being widely discussed as readers comment on Margaret Sullivan's new public editor column.

To read that column, click here. It concerns one of the most jumbled, revealing episodes in the Times' modern history.

This episode involves Maureen Dowd, the paper's Pulitzer winning columnist and apostle of Clinton hatred. It involves Amy Chozick, the paper's Clinton reporter. It involves the editor who handled Chozick's August 2 front-page report.

By now, the episode also involves Sullivan and Baquet. It also seems to involve Joe Biden. Let's throw in Norah O'Donnell, she of CBS News.

This latest episode at the Times is bizarre and complex. It's also extremely revealing. It involves a very basic concept—the concept of accurate statement.

Does anyone at the modern Times have any basic understanding of that basic concept? More and more, it looks like the answer is no.

This episode has quite a few parts; we want to do them justice. For that reason, we may not present a treatment of this episode until next week.

For today, we'll recommend Gene Lyons' new column, in which he sifts this subject. We also recommend the many comments to Sullivan's post, in which Times readers thrash the paper's performance in its latest dispiriting gong-show.

Tonight, the nation will be watching the third GOP debate. Donald Trump's vaunted ratings machine will be forced to go head to head with Game 2 of the World Series.

What will we be watching tonight? We'll be watching Candidate Carson to see if he's able to explain his all new and improved proposal for medical savings accounts.

This explains the source of our focus:

On last weekend's Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace made a valiant effort to extract an explanation pf the high-flying hopeful's various and ever-changing health care proposals. We don't know if we've ever seen a policy discussion which was so confused.

In the main, the problem wasn't with Wallace. The Fox host made a decent effort, but Carson's incoherence was cosmic.

If you want to watch the wrestling match, the videotape can be found here. The questions about Carson's health care plans start at the 4:30 mark. The transcript is also there.

Has there ever been a major party front-runner who was so incoherent? We're not sure, but the intellectual chaos at the Times has been brought into stark relief by the Dowd/Biden/Chozick episode.

In the realm of policy and politics, our nation's intellectual capital is astoundingly low. The chaos will be on display tonight.

It arrived at the New York Times first.

"It’s hard to imagine that some version of this proposal doesn't make some sort of sense!" Ben Carson could possibly shout that out tonight, if his attempts at explanation show signs of going south.

The way we were: During the [run-up to the] 2004 World Series, Doris Kearns Goodman had friends over to watch the Red Sox [play the Yankees] during the third Bush-Kerry debate. The next morning, she went on Imus anyhoo, to repeat GOP talking points.

We know; you think we're making this up! Go ahead—just click this.

EMANATIONS FROM SALEM VILLAGE: The Salem panic lasted nine months!


Part 3—We're in our twenty-third year:
In Monday's profile of Stacy Schiff, the New York Times listed some possible reasons for a famous outbreak.

Alexandra Alter was the reporter. In one brief passage, she listed possible explanations for the famous breakdown in the rational process:

"More than 320 years after the panic subsided, scholars and historians have continued to dig into the archives in hopes of discovering what caused the mass paranoia," Alter wrote. "Common theories include everything from political tensions, economic pressures, misogyny and the psychological strain of constant attacks from Native American tribes to physiological factors like 'conversion disorder' and poisoning from a fungus."

Alter was listing academic theories about the breakdown which produced to the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692. According to Alter, Schiff takes a more modern approach in her new book on the subject.

According to Alter, Schiff "delivers an almost novelistic, thrillerlike narrative of those manic nine months." And sure enough! As Maureen Dowd and others keep proving, we moderns love novels. And thrills!

In that brief passage, Alter listed possible reasons for the mass paranoia which started in 1692. What explains the similar episode which started exactly three hundred years later?

Similar reasons have sometimes been suggested by those who are willing to note that this mass outbreak occurred and continues. (Being journalists, Alter's family isn't inclined to do that.) This includes the apparent misogyny which seemed to lurk in much of the Clinton-hatred which persisted on MSNBC right through 2008—in the Clinton-hatred of Chris Matthews, and in that of Keith Olbermann.

Alas! Even if we're willing to acknowledge that this latest panic has occurred, it isn't easy to nail down its causes. That said, it's easy to note a basic fact about the way our novelistic, thrill-based journalism has tended to deal with the outbreak.

As Alter notes in her piece about Schiff, the panic in Salem largely subsided after just nine months. Our current political panic has extended for twenty-three years, with no clear sign of abatement.

This lengthy panic has extended through other mass paranoias-—the McMartin preschool panic, for instance. That unfortunate panic has come and gone. Our political panic continues.

The current panic plainly resembles that of 1692. In the current panic, ranking members of our political class have been repeatedly observed "taking shape as cats, wolves, boars and, frequently, yellow birds," to borrow Alter's words about the earlier Salem panic.

(According to several experts, people who are nicknamed "Tweety" may be especially likely to make this type of observation.)

Let's note an obvious point. Due to our stifling political correctness, people are no longer believed when they report such events! For that reason, our current accusers have shifted the shape of their own reporting a tad:

Repeatedly, they assert that they have observed our modern witches telling lies. They have sometimes even observed these deviants being "Clintonesque!"

According to our modern accusers, President Bill Clinton kept performing these actions. Starting in March 1999, Candidate Gore was repeatedly observed extending the frightening process.

(When Candidate Gore kept failing to lie, our journalists invented lies for him. This is always a part of the process.)

Today, the accusers report that it's Hillary Clinton who keeps turning herself into a cat or a boar, behavior which is euphemistically described as "telling a lie." Last Sunday morning, Marco Rubio made the direct accusation when he appeared on CNN. Many others, including Chuck Todd, were offering toned-down versions of the familiar claim.

In the past few days, the accusation has been widely voiced on the Fox News Channel, contributing to loathing and panic. What's interesting is the way we respond, or fail to respond, to these ongoing claims.

Reason prevailed in Salem Village after only nine months. But how strange! After 23 years of the current panic, we still refuse to evaluate these frightening claims in a modern, "rational" fashion.


In September 2012, did Hillary Clinton lie about the attack in Benghazi? Did the hideous, shape-shifting Susan Rice go on four Sunday shows and give voice to these shape-shifting lies?

(Rice wasn't asked about Benghazi on Fox's Special Report.)

Let's get more specific with our questions:

In that frightening month, did Clinton lie about the persons or groups who staged the Benghazi attack? Did she lie about the motives behind the attack?

Did she lie about the amount of "preplanning" involved in the attack? Did she lie about a videotape? Did she lie to the victims' families?

These accusations have persisted for more than three years. Three years ago, they were used to savage Rice. In the wake of last week's hapless congressional hearing, they were turned against Clinton again.

How have our journalists dealt with these accusations over the past three years? How have they dealt with these accusations in the past week?

Tomorrow, we'll help you see what our journalists haven't done. There's a reason why Salem's panic lasted nine months while ours persists year after year.

Tomorrow: We'll always have (Betty) Parris

Supplemental: Amazing days at the New York Times!


Terrible, horrible work:
We did a dumb thing a week ago. We accepted an offer to upgrade to the free new exciting Windows 10, or whatever it is.

As part of the package, we're having problems creating and posting documents. For that reason, let's keep this post brief.

It's very, very hard to grasp how bad the work of the New York Times routinely is. We're thinking of two offerings from today's Times.

First, we refer to the public editor's assessment of the Dowd/Biden/Chozick/Baquet/Sullivan rolling embarrassment tour. Also, we refer to a news report which may be the dumbest report we have ever read.

The public editor's piece would be an embarrassment to the Times if the paper and its staff possessed that capability. The news report may be worse. We expect to examine each piece in some detail at some point. But for today, we'll just give you the links, assuming we'll be able.

For Margaret Sullivan's assessment of the Dowd/Biden mess, you can just click here. We've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of much of this public editor's work. This lazy assessment of Dowd's column demonstrates a terrible factin the end, Maureen Dowd embarrasses everyone with whom she is associated.

Everyone pretends not to notice this state of affairs. But the degradation does take place, whether acknowledged or not.

For the news report to which we refer, just click this. It reports a stunningly obvious non-surprise "surprise" about the public schools.

In this news report, the Times' David Leonhardt comes very close to saying this:

A new study has shown that the sky is blue.

A serious paper would be ashamed by the inanity of that news report, and especially by what it suggests about the Times' previous education reporting. That said, the Times just isn't a serious paper. It's very hard to grasp that fact, but it's clearly true.

Please note: Leonhardt's news report is accurate. It would also be accurate to report that the sky is blue or that airplanes can travel much faster than horses.

Leonhardt seems to think he's reporting news in his putative news report about that new study. In truth, the Times shouldn't be embarrassed by Leonhardt's report. The Times should just be ashamed.

We'll discuss each topic some other day. For today, just take our advice:

Turn down your all-free new and improved Windows 10 or whatever it is! Without even knowing it, you'll be glad you did!

EMANATIONS FROM SALEM VILLAGE: Marco Rubio spots the lie!


Part 2--As CNN looks on: Did Hillary Clinton tell any lies in the days after Benghazi?

We've never seen evidence of that, though we've seen endless accusations. It's a bit like the 9-year-old children in Salem Village who saw neighbors turn into cats.

Back in September 2012, it was John McCain who first cast himself in the role of the 9-year-old children. Appearing on Face the Nation, he misstated what Ambassador Susan Rice had just said about the attack on Benghazi.

Bob Schieffer also seemed to be roughly nine. He quickly accepted Schoolchild McCain's version of the facts.

These episodes start in this manner. This past Sunday morning, on CNN's State of the Union, someone else said that he had spotted the former secretary of state turning into a cat.

In this case, the badly frightened child was Senator Marco Rubio. He was shown on videotape, being interviewed by CNN's Jamie Gangel:
GANGEL (10/25/15): Hillary Clinton has had a pretty good two weeks. She had Saturday Night Live, she did well in the debates, she went through 11 hours of the hearings. If it is a face off, Marco Rubio/Hillary Clinton, how formidable is she?

RUBIO: Well, she'll be the Democratic nominee. Someone who comes from a political dynasty and that, in itself, is going to bring fund-raising capabilities and so forth. People may think she had a good week. I think this is the week it was proven that she lied about Benghazi.
"This is the week it was proven that Clinton lied about Benghazi?" Rubio had made a very serious charge. But here's how Gangel reacted:
GANGEL (continuing directly): So here's the good news for Marco Rubio. You are on the rise. The betting folks say you are now the most likely person to win the Republican nominee over Jeb Bush. Democrats say you are formidable, that they are scared of you. So why is it taking you so long to get traction?
We think Gangel's reaction was striking. Here's why:

Until recently, it was extremely rare to see a politician or major journalist use the L-bomb in the way Rubio did.

For sensible reasons, use of the L-bomb was virtually forbidden. The L-bomb was rarely deployed.

By now, that traditional stricture has largely been abandoned. Here's how the history works:

Roughly 23 years ago, politicians and major journalists began seeing famous people turn themselves into cats, boars and wolves, and sometimes into yellow birds.

First, they saw Bill Clinton do it. Then, they saw the sickening trick performed again and again by the devilish Candidate Gore.

In the present day, it's Candidate Clinton who they're constantly able to spot performing this work. Back in September 2012, Susan Rice turned into a cat on four Sunday shows, thus frightening Schoolchild McCain.

Please understand! In the modern context, frightened accusers don't actually say that they saw someone turn into a cat. They understand that the liberal press corps would roll its eyes at this claim.

The accusation takes a different shape now. In this case, the witches are said to be liars. And just as the claim of shape-shifting once spread all through a frightened village, so too this updated claim has become so common that Gangel didn't bat an eye when the frightened Rubio made it.

"This is the week it was proven that Clinton lied about Benghazi!" To Gangel, it was almost like Rubio had said that it was a beautiful day.

She didn't ask Rubio what he meant. She didn't ask him to justify his charge. As in Salem, so too on CNN's State of the Union:

So many people have seen this candidate turn into a cat that the claim now seems mundane.

What would Rubio have said if Gangel had challenged his statement? On Face the Nation, John Dickerson actually seemed to have watched the hearing at which Clinton worked her shape-shifting. On the CBS Sunday show, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pushed the standard shape-shifting lines.

Nunes noted that Clinton had volunteered to testify in public. "So clearly, she had it in her mind to make this a political grandstanding occasion, which she did very well."

Fiendishly, Clinton had testified in public! Now, Nunes went on to describe what Clinton had actually said.

"It was the first time that I had learned that there were e-mails that existed, or transcripts of recordings, about, that she knew immediately that this was an al Qaeda attack," the troubled congressman said.

"Now remember," he continued, "us on the Intelligence Committee, we knew the next morning, not necessarily that it was al Qaeda, but we knew it was a terrorist preplanned attack. And so it ends up that she knew that...she knew it was a terrorist attack hours after the attack. And I think that is a real problem as to why the people sat at the State Department and never left."

Schoolboy Nunes was frightened by many things, including Clinton's clever trick of testifying in public. Eventually, he managed to state the standard line, in a jumbled and confusing form, about her misrepresentations.

Incredibly, Dickerson responded like this:
DICKERSON: Her testimony, and then also the CIA's best information to the rest of the administration, was, at first Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit for it and then they withdrew it and that that's what led to this confusion. So at first she believed those reports. Then they were withdrawn and that`s what made her change her position.
Incredibly, Dickerson responded by noting some of what Clinton had actually said in the hearing! After more than three years of frightened reports, Dickerson's conduct was hardly enough to clarify these extremely jumbled matters. But no one person can be asked to nullify three more than three year of non-performance by the rest of the press.

Did Secretary Clinton turn herself into a yellow bird in September 2012? In modern parlance, did she lie about Benghazi in the days after the attack?

This claim has been made for more than three years. Back in 2012, the relentless, ugly charge turned Susan Rice into a gnome, as liberals ran for cover.

On Sunday, a frightened schoolboy made the claim on Jake Tapper's Sunday show. He made his frightened claim loud and clear.

Jamie Gangel didn't say boo or bat an eye. Gangel simply moved on.

Tomorrow, let's look at the way our modern village has responded to these repetitive claims. In Salem Village, the scare was over fairly quickly. In our village, the current scare has persisted for 23 years.

Tomorrow: The questions which go unasked

Supplemental: Ugly episode gets a lot worse!


Nothing like that ever happened, Biden finally says:
Last night, on 60 Minutes, Norah O’Donnell interviewed Vice President Biden about his decision not to run for president.

At this point, there’s little apparent reason to believe the things Biden says. But at one point, a remarkable exchange occurred.

O’Donnell asked about the melodramatic “deathbed” story which got its start in an unsourced, highly novelistic column by Maureen Dowd.

In the story, Biden’s dying son, with his last few nouns, begs Biden to try to keep the Clintons out of the White House. The Clinton-hating melodrama was ugly and over the top even by the standards established by Dowd down through these many long years.

Last night, O’Donnell asked Biden about this widely-repeated story. “Nothing like that ever, ever happened,” Biden said.

Below, you see the entire exchange. In our view, O’Donnell left several questions unasked:
O’DONNELL (10/25/15): There was a lot you had to weigh in this run for president. I know you talked to your son, Beau, about running for president. What did he want you to do?

BIDEN: Well, first thing I'd like to do, and you're being very polite the way you're asking me the question. Because some people have written that, you know, Beau on his deathbed said, “Dad, you've got to run,” and there was this sort of Hollywood moment that, you know, nothing like that ever, ever happened.

Beau from the time he was in his 30s, or actually his late 20s, was my—he and Hunter were one of my two most reliable advisers. And Beau all along thought that I should run and I could win.

But there was not what was sort of made out as kind of this Hollywood-esque thing, that at the last minute Beau grabbed my hand and said, “Dad, you’ve got to run, like, win one for the Gipper.” It wasn’t anything like that.
Nothing like that ever, ever happened? It wasn’t anything like that? This extends and complicates an episode which is truly disgraceful, even by the garbage can journalistic standards of Dowd and the New York Times.

Let’s start with a basic point. We can’t assume that Biden’s statement to O’Donnell is accurate. He is now contradicting a story he left uncorrected for almost three months. No one can say, with perfect certainty, what the ultimate truth is.

Still, Biden is contradicting a highly dramatic claim by the Times’ most famous columnist. In a standard bit of professional courtesy, O’Donnell failed to mention Dowd’s name on the program last night.

Howe bizarre is the New York Times? Matters quickly got worse at Dowd’s horrible newspaper when her column appeared. On that same day—in that same Sunday edition—the Times ran a front-page news report by the always ludicrous Amy Chozick.

Chozick took Dowd’s unsourced claims and used them as the source for the account shown below. In this strange way, Dowd’s unsourced claims were instantly put to use in a front-page news report:
CHOZICK (8/2/15): On Saturday, the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported that Mr. Biden had been holding meetings at his residence, “talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in” to challenge Mrs. Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states.

One longtime Biden supporter said the vice president had been deeply moved by his son’s desire for him to run.

“He was so close to Beau and it was so heartbreaking that, frankly, I thought initially he wouldn't have the heart,” the supporter, Michael Thornton, a Boston lawyer, said in an interview. “But I've had indications that maybe he does want to—and ‘that’s what Beau would have wanted me to do.’ ”


Ms. Dowd reported that as Beau Biden lay dying from brain cancer, he ''tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” Mr. Biden's other son, Hunter, also encouraged him to run, she wrote.
“That’s what Beau would have wanted me to do?” Was that supposed to be a quote by Vice President Biden?

As usual, there was no way to tell from Chozick’s slippery journalistic technique, which typifies the way the Times covers domestic politics.

At any rate:

“Nothing like that ever happened,” Biden said last night. But how strange! In the August 2 New York Times, it happened twice, in two separate places—in Dowd’s column in the Sunday Review and in Chozick’s news report on the paper’s front page.

“Nothing like that ever, ever happened?” The problems continue from there. Let’s count the authors of these problems, starting with O’Donnell:

First, O’Donnell failed to ask Biden if he had been the source for Dowd’s column. Presumably, he would have said no—but Politico made that claim on October 6, citing “multiple sources.”

O’Donnell failed to ask a second question. If nothing like that ever happened, why did Biden leave the story unchallenged over the past three months?

Why did Biden let the widely-repeated story go uncorrected? At this point, let’s note the specific part of Dowd’s story which made it so appalling.

Weeks before Dowd’s column appeared, the Wall Street Journal had reported that Biden’s son had urged him to run for president. There was nothing newsworthy about that report. It produced zero buzz.

Dowd massively amped the story by injecting it with classic Clinton-hatred. When she banged the drum slowly in the manner shown here, the low-interest story took off:
DOWD (8/2/15): When Beau realized he was not going to make it, he asked his father if he had a minute to sit down and talk.

“Of course, honey,” the vice president replied.

At the table, Beau told his dad he was worried about him.

My kid’s dying, an anguished Joe Biden thought to himself, and he’s making sure I’m O.K.

“Dad, I know you don’t give a damn about money,” Beau told him, dismissing the idea that his father would take some sort of cushy job after the vice presidency to cash in.

Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.

Hunter also pushed his father, telling him, “Dad, it’s who you are.”
With his last few nouns, the dying man rose from his bed to trash the Clintons one last time! By now, he could barely speak, but he was still valiantly trying to keep them out of the White House!

After Dowd injected the story with this trademark venom, the moribund story took off. “Nothing like that ever happened,” Biden has now finally said, revealing a rather large hole in his own basic character.

Let’s state the obvious! It was the dying man's attack on the Clintons which made this story take off. But in two otherwise useful blog posts about Biden’s denial, the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple seems to be playing a bit dumb today about that obvious fact.

Far worse, so is Dean Baquet, the New York Times’ executive editor. Is Baquet even minimally competent? If so, he was being baldly dishonest in this presentation to Wemple, who sought comment from the Times about what Biden said:
WEMPLE (10/26/15): Columnist Maureen Dowd wasn’t alone in her now-disputed reporting on Vice President Biden’s considerations regarding a 2016 presidential run, New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet told the Erik Wemple Blog today. “I know that the vice president is now saying this wasn’t true, but if you look at coverage, every news organization in America had sources close to him describing this,” said Baquet.
Simply put, Baquet is being dishonest. No one but the New York Times reported this story the way Dowd did. Once Dowd injected the story with venom, other journalists stood in line to repeat the lurid tale.

No one had sources close to Biden describing what Dowd described. They all stampeded off to use the grisly Dowd as their source. Surely, the great Baquet must know that. He’s just dissembling again.

People like O’Donnell and Wemple will be inclined to tiptoe around this matter in various ways. Other figures will try to avoid this event altogether.

Dowd is powerful, as is the Times. Among journalists who play for pay, a code of silence has surrounded such conduct for the past twenty-five years. The liberal world has accepted this conduct, and this code, every step of the way.

That said, several obvious questions have arisen again:

On what basis did the Times allow Dowd to publish her unsourced, lurid story? On what basis did the Times allow Chozick to use Dowd’s unsourced column as the source for a front-page news report?

Biden has now said that it never, ever happened! Now more than ever, real journalists would insist that the Times explain what occurred.

We have few real journalists. What we have instead is a gang of hustlers, grabbers and clowns, including quite a few who get sold to us as “liberals.”

We also have a possible hint about the source for Dowd’s tale, if we assume she had a source at all:

During last night’s interview, O’Donnell waited until Jill Biden had “stepped out” of the room to ask Joe Biden about this matter. After Jill Biden left the room, this was her very next question.

Did Dowd actually have a source? If she did, our money’s still on Hunter Biden. But watching last night’s sequence, we dreamed up another contender.

Who will insist that the Times explain? Don’t bet on Jonathan Alter!

EMANATIONS FROM SALEM VILLAGE: Chuck Todd keeps accusation alive!


Part 1—The alleged contradiction which isn't:
In this morning’s New York Times, Stacy Schiff is interviewed about her new book, The Witches: Salem, 1692.

(Partial disclosure: Needless to say, Cousin Elizabeth was on the scene. Fuller disclosure below.)

“More than 320 years after the panic subsided, scholars and historians have continued to dig into the archives in hopes of discovering what caused the mass paranoia,” Alexandra Alter writes in her Times report.

(Partial disclosure: Alter’s father, Jonathan Alter, has played a largely passive role in our own era’s witchcraft trials.)

Whatever! According to Alter, “the actual details” of the Salem events “were raw and unnerving” for Schiff. “She was stunned to learn how many men were charged with witchcraft, and how many of the accusations were leveled by one relative against another.”

In the following passage, Alter describes the way evidence worked at that time. That said, she's also describing the way evidence tends to work in our own world, today:
ALTER (10/26/15): Confronted with charges of supernatural activity, the accused struggled to refute spectral evidence against them. Villagers reported seeing witches taking shape as cats, wolves, boars and, frequently, yellow birds. Any alibi could be easily dismissed, as it was known that witches could be in two places at once.

Women might be suspected if they moved noiselessly over creaky floorboards, had an uncommonly good sense of smell or survived a fall down stairs. Any blemish on the skin, something as small as a flea bite, could count as “the Devil’s mark.”
Or an email to the daughter of the accused! That could count as evidence too!

Sorry—we skipped three centuries there! That said, human nature and human capability don’t necessarily change a whole lot over such short chunks of time.

The nation saw that fact played out on yesterday’s Meet the Press. Hours later, they saw it played out, even more vividly, on 60 Minutes.

This morning, let’s start with Meet the Press. We were struck, but not surprised, by the question shown below, a question posed by Chuck Todd.

The question concerned Candidate Clinton’s recent appearance before a Salem-flavored tribunal. In the spirit of “no easy dismissal,” Todd asked a rather fuzzy question—a fuzzy question which kept a three-year-old framework alive:
TODD (10/25/15): Well, there was one new fact, I think, that a lot of people came away with and that was the characterization of the attack itself. And there’s always been this controversy that the White House was conflating the video issues that took place versus what happened in Benghazi that night.

One of the emails that was turned up was an email Secretary Clinton sent—I’m going to put it up here—to her daughter Chelsea Clinton...On September 11, that night, Secretary Clinton classified it as a terrorist attack by an al Qaeda-like group.

Three days later, Secretary Clinton said this:

CLINTON (videotape): We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We've seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing do with.

TODD: Did that trouble you, that there were two stories here? And does that deserve an extra line of inquiry?
Todd seemed to believe he had spotted “two stories.” He also seemed to believe that this alleged fact should be troubling.

In this way, he kept script alive, along with accusation. In fairness, to Todd, similar recitation of script occurred on other Sunday programs. This is what we warned you about in Friday's afternoon's post.

Which “two stories” had Todd supposedly spotted? In fact, his presentation makes little sense, unless you already understand the nature of the three-year old accusation against the vile Candidate Clinton and her hideous tool, Susan Rice.

What follows is the shifting of shapes Todd seemed to think he had spotted:

First, let’s get clear on the email the accused had sent to her daughter. In his presentation, Todd had lightly embellished its text. As shown on the screen, here’s what the email specifically said:

“Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group.”

Somehow, that is supposed to contradict what Clinton said three days later, on September 14. As presented by Todd, here’s the text of that statement:

“We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing do with.”

In Salem Village, villagers swore that they saw neighbors turn into cats. Three hundred years later, Todd thought he'd spotted another shape-shifting in that pair of statements.

Please note what Clinton actually said in those two statements. On September 11, she said one thing. She said Benghazi had been attacked “by an al Qaeda-like group.”

On September 14, she said two things. She said that people died in Benghazi as the result of “a heavy assault.” She also said that rage and violence had been directed at American embassies “over an awful Internet video.”

From that, we’re supposed to draw this conclusion:

We’re supposed to conclude that Clinton was saying, on September 14, that Benghazi was attacked because of that awful Internet video. She didn’t specifically say that, of course. We're supposed to connect a few dots.

We’re also supposed to think that this claim doesn’t make sense. More specifically, we’re supposed to think that no “al Qaeda-like group” would ever stage a heavy assault, or a killing attack, because of an Internet video.

No “al Qaeda-like group” would stage an attack because of an Internet video? On its face, that doesn’t seem to make sense. But so what? Over the past three years, this peculiar piece of illogic has lay at the heart of an accusation against several substitute witches.

As in Salem, so too today! “Any alibi” (or explanation or point of logic) can be “easily dismissed.” But uh-oh! In our press corps, as in Salem Village, certain types of charges can’t be dismissed, by the rules of the game.

Might an “al Qaeda-like group” stage an attack because of an insulting video? On its face, it’s hard to see why that couldn’t occur.

And not only that! As Clinton testified last Thursday, a member of that al Qaeda-like group claimed credit for the killing attack on September 11, citing the video as the motive! The very next day, on September 12, the group withdrew that claim.

According to Clinton, that original claim had formed the basis for her email to her daughter. Todd didn’t mention such facts as he strained to keep accusation alive.

Beyond that, we have no idea why we’re supposed to reject the idea that an al Qaeda-like group might stage an attack over that insulting video—although, as noted, Clinton didn’t make that specific claim in that September 14 statement.

In Salem, people were seen turning into cats, even into boars. Given the way our human mind works, “any alibi could be easily dismissed.”

The human mind works the same way today! Ranking liberals—like Alter’s father—have permitted these dunkings to proceed for the past twenty-three years.

We’ll discuss these modern emanations from Salem Village all week. The liberal world has accepted this destructive gong-show every step of the way.

Tomorrow: The question you haven’t seen asked

Fuller disclosure: The Reverend John Hale was right in the middle of the witchcraft trials, famously at that.

According to the leading authority on his life, “he was one of the most prominent and influential ministers associated with the witch trials, being noted as having initially supported the trials and then changing his mind and publishing a critique of them.”

As a child, Hale “witnessed the execution of Margaret Jones, the first of 15 people to be executed for witchcraft in New England,” the leading authority states. In this passage, we learn why he flipped, decades later, concerning the accusations:
WIKIPEDIA: On November 14, 1692, 17-year-old Mary Herrick accused his second wife, Sarah Noyes Hale, and the ghost of executed Mary Eastey of afflicting her, but his wife was never formally charged or arrested. A later commentator on the trials, Charles Upham, suggests that this accusation was one that helped turn public opinion to end the prosecutions, and spurred Hale’s willingness to reconsider his support of the trials.
When the Reverend Hale’s own wife was accused, this may have led him to flip. Many years later, Hale achieved fame as a principal character in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

Miller was suggesting that the human mind hadn’t changed all that much despite the passage of years. Our leaders tend to ignore such warnings when new accusations get started.

According to David Estey, the Reverend Hale “was one of the earliest cogent critics of the trials...He deserves full recognition for speaking out as he did, regardless of his motivations.”

And sure enough! When Sarah Noyes Hale died in 1695, the Reverend Hale married Cusin Elizabeth! For the full story, just click here! Or here, on page 107.

Some families just seem to get on the right side of things! Others remain in The Village.



Epilogue—What tribal loathing looks like:
Friend, did you happen to sit through Thursday’s long day’s journey into loathing?

The conduct of the Republican inquisitors helped the world see what tribal loathing looks like. As one example, it can leave you asking questions like the ones shown below of the person you loathe.

Rep. Martha Roby (R—Alabama) is asking the loathed party about events on the night of September 11, 2012. In fairness, Roby only adopted this tone as the evening drew on:
ROBY (10/22/15): Who was at your office when you left? Was Cheryl Mills, your chief of staff, still at the office when you left?

CLINTON: I don't remember. I know that a lot of my staff were there.

ROBY: I'm going to go through and name them. We'll see if you remember. Jake Sullivan, was he still there?

CLINTON: When— Yes, they were all there when I left. They were all there.

ROBY: OK. Victoria Nuland was there when you left?

CLINTON: When I— When I left, everyone was there.

ROBY: Philippe Reines was there?

CLINTON: I can— All I—I can give you a blanket answer. When I left—

ROBY: No, I'm going to ask specifics.
The inquisitor was going to ask specifics. She went on to grill the suspect, one by one, about a list of staff members.

She asked if Jake Sullivan had been there. She asked about Reines again.

She asked the suspect about Stephen Mull.

“Bill Burns and Thomas Nides?” This was her next question.

In this way, the inquisitor visibly grilled the suspect. Presumably, she was trying to show us that the uncaring suspect went home for the night, leaving staff members to deal with the plight of the brave Americans she, the inquisitor, cares about, unlike the suspect, who is perhaps a roach.

From there, Roby proceeded to another series of questions which seemed designed to show the world that the suspect was uncaring. She only spoke to the president once that night! She couldn’t remember what time!

We were sorry to see Roby descend to this level. During the bulk of the day, she had remained relatively sane as her fellow panelists barked and yipped about various problems, including problems involving one of the suspect’s highly suspect friends.

Commissar Jordan seemed to be on speed during the bulk of the day—perhaps on some bad speed at that.

Roby had comported herself in a saner fashion. Which, to be honest, may have made her just a bit suspect herself.

The congresswoman’s biography is suspiciously squishy.

According to the leading authority on her life, she was suitably born, right there in Montgomery. But after graduating from high school, she “attended New York University, where she received a bachelor of music degree.”

What kind of cockroach does something like that? When she served on Montgomery’s City Council, she even “opposed privatizing the disposal of household garbage!”

Perhaps for these reasons, Roby was forced to prove her revolutionary mettle by grilling the suspect as evening drew on, “asking specifics” designed to show us how little the suspect cared.

We were sorry to see her do that. For us, attack dog Jordan’s tugs on his chain had done a suitable job of showing the face of tribal loathing. Then too, we had other commissars’ apparent sense of shock at the idea that someone might receive emails from a long-time friend—that a long-time friend might even know his friend’s home address, or visit a suspect’s home!

That afternoon, the aptly named Commissar Pompeo had tried to unravel this puzzle. He too was serially specific as he probed this puzzling citcumstance:
POMPEO (10/22/15): I want to go back to a couple things I talked to you about a bit before, Madam Secretary. So Ambassador Stevens didn’t have your e-mail. Is that correct? Your personal e-mail?

CLINTON: I'm sorry, what did you ask me?

POMPEO: Ambassador Stevens did not have your personal e-mail address, we've established that.

CLINTON: Yes, that's right.

POMPEO: Did he have your cell phone number?

CLINTON: No, but he had the 24-hour number of the State Operations in the State Department that can reach me 24/7.

POMPEO: Yes, ma'am. Did he have the fax number?

CLINTON: He had the fax number of the State Department.

POMPEO: Did he have you home address?

CLINTON: No, I don't think any ambassador has ever asked me for that.

POMPEO: Did he ever stop by your house?

CLINTON: No, he did not, Congressman.

POMPEO: Mr. Blumenthal had each of those and did each of those things. This man upon who provided you so much information on Libya had access to you in ways that were very different than the access that a very senior diplomat had to your—to you and your person.
A long-time friend had stopped by her house, revealing access to her and her person!Ambassador Stevens had not!

A possibility entered our heads. Was it possible that Pompeo has never had any friends, and may not understand the concept?

We’ll guess that Roby, a sane-seeming person, has had plenty of friends. That’s why we were disappointed when she went down this familiar old road, which is linked to death and destruction all across the world.

If we might borrow from our Kafka, the commissars had their cockroach! This is the way we humans end up when we surrender to tribal loathing.

Whatever one thinks of Candidate Clinton, twenty-three years of aggressive otherization have helped create the tribal loathing put on display this week. One example from 1994:

We were in our car, with the radio on, when Rush Limbaugh floated the idea that Vince Foster had been killed in an apartment which belonged to the cockroach in question. Out in the country, many people didn’t realize that they were being played as Rush spread his ugly suggestion.

Another example, from August 1999:

We were at home, with our TV set on, when Chris Matthews spent a half hour kissing the aspic of Gennifer Flowers, who had been brought on his “cable news” program to tell us how many people the Clintons had managed to murder.

For our money, one of the low points is shown below. Moments before, Matthews had said that Hillary Clinton had been “offering herself as Nurse Ratched to the cuckoo’s nest here:”
MATTHEWS (8/2/99): Well, you know, I gotta pay a little tribute here. You're a very beautiful woman, and I—and I have to tell you, he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that; Hillary Clinton knows that. How can a woman put up with a relationship between her husband and somebody, anybody, but especially somebody like you that’s a knockout? I don't quite get this relationship.

FLOWERS: Gosh, you make me blush here. I’m telling you—I'll tell you, this—

MATTHEWS: Well, it’s an objective statement, Gennifer. I'm not flirting. So let’s go on.

FLOWERS: How can she do this?


FLOWERS: Because she is willing to sacrifice her personal integrity for their political motivation.

MATTHEWS: Has she told you that?

FLOWERS: Has she personally told me that?

MATTHEWS: No, has he told you that his wife is just a pol on the make?

FLOWERS: More or less, yes.

MATTHEWS: More or less?

FLOWERS: More. I would say in our conversations, he never put it that directly. But it was clearly a situation where they were, they were political partners.
Just for the record, there's no reason to think that Gennifer Flowers ever had a “relationship” with Bill Clinton. Beyond that, there's no reason to think that any of these alleged “conversations” ever took place.

Despite these fairly obvious facts, Matthews was very excited. “Hey, we’re coming back with Gennifer Flowers in Las Vegas,” he excitedly said at this point. “More coming back on Hardball!”

When Matthews came back, he asked his guest if she wanted to retract her accusations about “murders.” Out in the country, many people didn’t know that they were being played.

(Flowers’ performance on Hardball was so crazy that she was quickly invited on Hannity & Colmes, where she did the full hour. She used the extra time to tell the world that Hillary Clinton is the world’s most gigantic lesbo. Three months later, Matthews reported that Candidate Gore was wearing three-button suits in a smarmy, sexualized attempt to attract female voters. Out in the country, many people didn’t know they were being played. No journalist was willing to tell them.)

On Thursday, you saw the result of twenty-three years of this sort of misconduct. More specifically, you saw hours of tribal loathing displayed by the commissars.

Presumably, some of the loathing was real. Presumably, some of it was feigned, designed to please the people back home who haven’t realized, down through the years, that they were being played by horrible, grasping people like Limbaugh, Hannity, Matthews.

(In fairness, Matthews is playing for our team now. Tribally, we love him!)

Many people were able to see how silly the commissars looked. Even some journalists were able to see it—though for our money, Amy Chozick dragged her heels just a bit at the Times.

This isn’t about what you think of Candidate Clinton as a possible president. This is about something which precedes what you think. It’s about the way a deeply destructive force gets introduced into the world.

The moronic face of tribal loathing was on display this week. People like Limbaugh, Hannity, Matthews have worked quite hard, for twenty-three years, to create this inchoate loathing, in which the public is told to be suspicious because a suspect’s long-term friend has actually stopped by her house.

We’re going to leave you with a suggestion:

Think about the way the inquisitors looked to you on Thursday. That’s the way We look to Them when they see our own creepy, grasping tribal leaders dissembling and lying their ascots off about those office closings in Alabama, where Rep. Roby lives.

Roby understands the full set of facts about the office closings. Beyond that, she understands what our tribal darling Rachel has done.

By the way, Maddow thinks the Clintons have some “sort of creepy seeming” friends too! She said so to Andrea Mitchell last night, after expressing some peculiar ideas about Bill Clinton’s White House years.

(“Where in the world do these find these people?” the analysts sadly asked.)

Tribal loathing creeps and spreads. It devours the social fabric. It worms its way inside everyone’s heads. It makes each tribe despise the other.

Tribal loathing destroys clear vision. But dear lord, it feels so good!

Supplemental: Do we the liberals know how to resist?


The return of Benghazi parsing:
We liberals went to bed last night hearing that nothing had happened.

We had been misinformed. A couple of Secretary Clinton’s emails have produced the return of Benghazi parsing. This will revive an earlier question:

Do we the people know how to read? Do we know how to reason at all?

If you want to parse Benghazi, you have to keep a few basic points in mind. These three are quite basic:

Don’t buy that false contradiction: Let’s state a fairly obvious fact. There’s no reason why a “terrorist group” might not stage a “terrorist attack” in response to a perceived religious insult.

Right from the start, Republicans have tried to create the impression that a contradiction lurks there—that no self-respecting terrorist group would ever stage such an attack.

That claim doesn’t seem to make sense. But so what? Given the way our “press corps” works, Republicans have been very successful selling this false contradiction.

They’re out there selling it again. Our “journalists” will be strongly inclined to buy it.

Don’t purchase that bad paraphrase: What did Susan Rice actually say on those Sunday programs?

Right from the start, Republicans have been very successful selling a false paraphrase. They’re out there selling this turkey again.

So far, we the liberals haven’t come close to having sufficient skill to reject this false representation. Truthfully, we just aren’t very sharp. We prove this again and again.

What did Susan Rice actually say? She didn’t say that the killing attack was staged by a bunch of protestors. Nor did she say that the “extremists with heavy weapons” who waged the killing attack did so because of the videotape.

Here’s what she said on Face the Nation. Will we liberals ever be smart enough to insist on accurate paraphrase?
RICE (9/16/12): Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with [Libyan president Magariaf], there is an investigation that the United States government will launch, led by the FBI that has begun...

So we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.
But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what—

It began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video.

But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.

SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with [Magariaf] that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?

RICE: We do not—we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with him that al Qaeda had some part in this?

RICE: Well, we’ll have to find that out. I mean, I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself, I think is one of the things we'll have to determine.
Rice stressed the fact that she wasn’t offering a definitive conclusion as to what had occurred. But she didn’t even speculate about the motivation of the “extremist elements...with heavy weapons” who launched the killing attack.

She didn’t deny that they might be terrorists. They might even be “al Qaeda itself,” she specifically told Bob Schieffer. She didn't even seem to brook the idea that they might have been mere protestors.

Right from the start, dissembling pols like John McCain began pretending that Rice had said that a bunch of protestors had somehow staged the killing attack. He mocked the idea that protestors staged a demonstration armed with heavy weapons.

That simply isn’t what she said. But “journalists” bought that paraphrase whole, and they'll be buying it now.

Don’t buy that version of what Clinton said: What did Secretary Clinton actually say in her public statement on September 12?

For the full text, click here. This chunk was being winnowed down at yesterday’s eleven-hour terrier attack, in which it seemed that someone had put a bit of speed in the Alpo:
CLINTON (9/12/12): The friendship between our countries, born out of shared struggle, will not be another casualty of this attack. A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interest and security, and we will not turn our back on that, nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice. We are working closely with the Libyan authorities to move swiftly and surely. We are also working with partners around the world to safeguard other American embassies, consulates, and citizens.

There will be more time later to reflect, but today, we have work to do. There is no higher priority than protecting our men and women wherever they serve.

We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear—there is no justification for this, none. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.
Clinton said she didn’t know the precise motivations of the attackers. When she said that “some have sought to justify this vicious behavior…as a response to inflammatory material on the Internet,” she was making an accurate statement. She was also speaking of Libya and Cairo together.

A certain terrier kept simplifying this statement at yesterday’s dog show. One Democratic congressman, Smith or Schiff, was actually skillful enough to note that “some have sought” is not the same thing as “I believe.”

Most journalists won’t be that sharp.

Why did Clinton tell the Egyptian president that the attack wasn’t a response to the video? We can’t answer that. Nor do we know if that was as accurate statement.

But information was changing fast in the first days post-attack. As far as we know, neither Clinton nor Rice made any sort of definitive public statement about the motivation.

The liberal world let Susan Rice get eaten alive in 2012. This was especially true on MSNBC, where the cable stars kept their traps shut for months—except for Hayes’ initial reaction, in which he bought the GOP’s line.

The usual suspects will be dissembling this weekend. Our “journalists” will be strongly inclined to buy their familiar lines.

Will liberals be skillful enough to resist? We’ve never been that sharp in the past. Why should it be different now?

WHAT BAD POLITICS LOOKS LIKE: Gap-toothed Maddow rubes declaim!


Part 5—Divided we (liberals) fall:
We were intrigued by a letter in Sunday’s Washington Post.

The writer’s values are beyond reproach. We’d call his politics hopeless.

One of the analysts had gone a bit further—unwisely, we suspected. Angrily, he called the writer one of the Dreamers, one of the people who have been brought up to believe that they’re liberals.

“Stop plagiarizing Coates!” we cried. After that, we read the letter, which concerned guns:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (10/18/15) According to his Oct. 5 op-ed column, “On guns, aim higher,” Fred Hiatt thinks the United States should strive to be a gun-free society, like Australia. But Australia is not entirely gun-free; its 1996 law banned automatic and some semiautomatic weapons, not all guns. There was a massive weapons buyback, but it did not capture all outstanding firearms.

The Aussies, led by conservative then-Prime Minister John Howard, were so outraged by a massacre in the community of Port Arthur that they agreed as a nation to do something.

They then did the something in a matter of weeks; no handwringing, moral turpitude, feckless excuse-making, gun lobby obfuscation, etc. They got the job done.

The United States needs comprehensive, national, strict gun regulatory reform, and we should use Australia as the template. We should do it quickly.

Remember: Each day that passes without us doing what needs to be done means more lives lost. Public safety is Job One for government. What are we waiting for?

TS, Bethesda
After scolding the analyst, we read the letter. We knew then that we had failed.

Now we were borrowing from Coates!

On the surface, the writer’s values are beyond reproach. His politics, though, are strangely uncomprehending.

In fairness, he notes that Australia is not completely gun-free. Still, he says we should institute a “massive weapons buyback,” “using Australia as the template.”

“What are we waiting for?” he asks. Borrowing from our MacArthur genius, we knew then that we had failed.

“What are we waiting for?” The writer may as well suggest that we should become an island nation, modeling ourselves on the Aussies.

According to the letter writer, we should perform this massive weapons buyback in the immediate future. The writer’s values are beyond reproach, but he seems to know nothing about our politics—or about the 330 million people with whom he shares theoretical ownership of the United States.

Film critic Pauline Kael was once famously quoted, by her own New York Times, saying she didn’t know anyone who voted for Candidate Nixon. This brings us to the very bad politics happily performed by us liberals when we dissemble about the evil put on display by The Others.

Alas! The writer wants the federal government to stage a massive action. He shows no sign of understanding why this can’t currently happen.

Alas! Our constitutional system is built around roadblocks to such action. If we the liberals seek federal action, we must overcome such obstacles as these:

The need for sixty votes in the Senate. The tilt in current Senate math which favors conservatives (at present, our smaller, rural states tend to be red). The tilt in population patterns which tends to favor conservative control of the House (liberal voters tend to be heavily concentrated in a relatively small number of urban and urban ring districts). The veto power of presidents, who are sometimes Republicans.

In short, it’s hard to produce “massive” action by the federal government. To achieve some such action, we liberals have to persuade many people from outside our tribe that our position is right.

Indeed, we have to find a way to foil those modern conservatives who, as a general matter, don’t want the federal government to act at all. To do so, we have to undermine the culture of hard-core tribal division, which strongly favors the interests of people who hold such views.

If we the liberals want to see substantial government action, we have to undermine the culture of tribal division! At present, those of us who were raised to believe that we’re liberals have settled on a rather strange way of accomplishing that task.

We keep telling The Others they’re racist! Then, we shake our heads and wonder why they won’t accede to our policy stands, which we of course know to be brilliant.

Those of us raised to believe that we’re liberal seem to love this practice. We love attacking The Others as racist so much that we’re willing to cheer as our multimillionaire corporate leaders clown, cavort, dissemble and lie to give us the porridge we crave:
MADDOW (10/2/15): Out of all God`s great green evolving earth, Alabama Republicans really did manage to pick this one spot, this center of African-American life in their state in the Black Belt as the place where they could really save some money by cutting all those offices where you get what you need to vote.
That statement was baldly false. But to us, that statement felt good!

Maddow has performed four additional segments on this topic without correcting that groaning misstatement. Essentially, she has cherry-picked everything she has said to give us liberals a pleasing impression, in which The Others are evil and vile and We Liberals are moral and good.

Basically, Maddow has been lying. But dear lord, it has felt so good!

That letter writer seems to be living inside a Dream. One day earlier, in that same newspaper, we saw what happens when corporate hustlers like the weirdly grinning Maddow stuff disinformation into our heads, and big sacks of corporate dough into her self-impressed pants.

It happened on Saturday, October 17. At the Washington Post’s web site, reporter Vanessa Williams did a blog post about Alabama.

Williams didn’t present a full set of facts about the driver’s license closings. (By now, Maddow had misled her viewers about the closings on three separate programs, grinning weirdly at us the rubes as she did.)

Williams didn’t present a full set of facts about the office closings. But, in a rare departure, she mentioned the availability of free voter ID in every county in Alabama.

Even worse, she quoted Alabama’s governor denying a racial motive in the office closings.

Mercifully, Williams’ blog post didn’t produce a lot of comments. It did let us see the type of gap-toothed yokels we liberals become when we let corporate hustlers like Maddow feed us the porridge we love.

Williams’ blog post produced just 18 comments. Among them, the people raised to believe they’re liberal managed to offer the comments shown below.

We’ve done light editing for clarity. Pay special attention to OLDPRPOGESSIVE. Also to Samoset, who exhibits all the signs of a Maddow victim and rube:
OLDPROGRESSIVEFROMWISCONSIN: So I guess the fact that most of the proposed closing would be in predominantly Black Counties was just a coincidence? These guys need to get better at lying.

Chris Smith: Alabama one of the poorest, fattest, least educated, most backward states in the union. In other words, a red state.

Ham Biscuit: The volk here in Alabama’s capital, Pretoria, don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Samoset: The governor is a bold-faced liar. Just look at a map. Color in the counties that make up “the black belt.”

Originally named because of the rich black soil that was best for growing cotton—now a predominately black resident region.

Those counties were the only ones where the DMVs were closed. Only Ones.
Someone had led the Old Progressive to think that “most of the proposed closing would be in predominantly black counties.”

That’s pleasing. But it just isn’t true.

Samoset took the gap-toothed commentary even further. After repeating the history lesson with which Maddow killed time in her first report, he said offices had been closed in Black Belt counties and nowhere else.

That claim is just pitifully false. But that’s what the weirdly grinning Maddow has persistently said and implied.

By the way, each fellow insisted that Bentley was lying. They didn’t know that the information shortfall had perhaps struck a bit closer to home.

You’re looking at comments by a pair of gap-toothed “progressives”—a pair of Dreamers who somehow managed to become grossly misinformed. We almost thought we heard banjos playing as Samoset rattled his Maddow scripts in the face of facts like these, facts Maddow has disappeared:
The eight largest counties which lost an office:
Lauderdale County: 92,709 (86.4% white)
Lawrence County: 34,339 (77.6% white)
Chambers County: 34,064 (58.8% white)
Franklin County: 31,704 (83.0% white)
Geneva County: 26,790 (86.3% white)
Cherokee County: 26,021 (92.7% white)
Winston County: 24,484 (97.3% white)
Bibb County: 22,597 (75.8% white)
To Samoset, none of those counties exist. Lauderdale County is Brigadoon. Also, Bentley’s a liar!

Trust us. This really isn’t a very good way for liberals to execute outreach. The situation only gets worse when folk like Ken Black show up.

Ken Black is a trouble-maker. For unknown reasons, he had decided to research the facts about the office closings.

In the comments to Williams' blog post, he kept trying to offer information to us liberals. This was his response to the brilliance of OLDPROGRESSIVE:
OLDPROGRESSIVEFROMWISCONSIN: So I guess the fact that most of the proposed closing would be in predominantly Black Counties was just a coincidence? These guys need to get better at lying.

KEN BLACK: They weren't. Keep paying attention to the liberal media instead of thinking for yourself.

I actually took the time to go to the US Census Bureau’s quick facts site and got the populations for the affected counties.
It also lists the % of the populations in each county. Here is a list of counties with DMV closures that have a majority of whites over 80%. For comparison purposes I also included all of the counties that are majority black populations (9 of them)...
Reams of information followed. In an earlier comment, he had listed population figures for every county which lost an office, resulting in this overview:
KEN BLACK: Here is a list of counties who are closing the DMVs. The closures affect 67.8% whites and 28.8% blacks in those counties. That is comparable to the overall percentage rates of the total population in Alabama, which is 69.7% white and 26.7% black...
Black made at least one error in his compilation. He thought majority-black Dallas County lost its office, which it actually didn’t.

(To review Drum's numbers, click here.)

That said, Black kept trying to introduce information into the discussion! We the rubes simply persisted with our pleasing story.

From the liberal perspective, in what way do people like Black make the situation worse? We’ll now tell you something which we people who think we’re liberals generally don’t understand:

Increasingly, people in the red-state orbit are being exposed to an unpleasant fact. They’re being told that we liberals aren’t obsessively truthful. Increasingly, this familiar old claim is now being supported with actual accurate facts!

Most of our liberal tribal dissembling and lying involves matters of race and gender. Trust us: People all over the red-state world will end up learning what Maddow has done in this latest episode.

We the liberals will never find out. The loud noise from our dueling banjos drowns this info out.

This only hardens the tribal lines which currently define American politics. Unfortunately, tribal division serves the ends of conservatives—of those who oppose federal action.

People who long for “massive” federal action need to break that division down. We need to conduct winning outreach to Those People—to people like those described in Tuesday’s New York Times.

David Herszenhorn reported from Monticello, Georgia, in that state’s 10th congressional district. This is “what we are waiting for” with respect to that massive gun buyback:
HERSZENSHORN (10/20/15): A lot of people in this small town, an hour’s drive from Atlanta, get their news from talk radio.

“We all listen to WSB,” said Marion Pearson, the owner of a photo studio,
who was at a “Coffee and Conversation” recently with Representative Jody Hice at the local Chamber of Commerce.

“In the morning we have Herman Cain out of Atlanta,” Ms. Pearson said. “Then we have Rush from noon to 3, and then Hannity from 3 to 5, and then—oh, what’s that guy’s name?—the RedState guy, Erick Erickson, from 5 to 7.”

Georgia’s 10th District got Mr. Hice, 55, from talk radio, too. Before seeking office in 2014, Mr. Hice, a Southern Baptist minister, had his own show, syndicated on 400 stations, on which listeners heard him weigh in against Islam and homosexuality and for gun rights and traditional Christian values.

Constituents say they do not agree with Mr. Hice on everything but trust him to represent them.

“He represents my values,” said Bruce Henry, a Jasper County commissioner. “We’re a rural community. He’s a Bible-believing man. He believes in the Second Amendment. He’s honest.”
Those people own the country too. Given the obstacles built into our constitution, we liberals have to perform outreach to our co-owners if we want to succeed in politics.

We have to imagine the possibility that they may know something we don’t. We have to accept the fact that our values aren’t the only values possible.

Meanwhile, is Jody Hice honest? We don’t know, but Hannity pretty much isn’t. If liberals hope to succeed in politics, we have to find ways to help other people see that.

Proving that point isn’t real easy when Maddow keep lying her ascot off and we keep cheering her on. (People in Monticello are going to hear about this.) When people listen to Cain each day and we keep insisting they’re racists.

In the most recent Iowa poll, three of the top four Republican hopefuls are either black or Hispanic. Because we only think we’re liberals, that’s when we turn to our own Hannity and ask her to help us feel good.

It's almost the only story we know. As our banjos get picked and our TV stars grin, we love our tribal story.

This dates to prehistory: Your lizard brain will reject all this. As has been true through the (war-ravaged) annals of time, your lizard brain is wrong.