Part 1—Sadly, the best we can do:
The other tribe is full of very bad people. It isn’t clear that they’re human at all.

Tribal players have always known these truths, down through the annals of time. As our own political culture has become increasingly tribal, we liberals have increasingly learned to love those ancient truths too.

Last Friday, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza acted on this prehistoric knowledge. Just for the record, he’s a “CNN contributor” too.

Lizza was present when one of The Others made a heinous remark about the shootings in Oregon. The excited scribe fumbled for his device—and no wonder!

According to Lizza, this is what he saw The Beast say about the latest killings:
CANDIDATE BUSH (10/2/15): And this president—the tendency when we have these tragedies that took place yesterday, it’s just heartbreaking to see these things, but this is the broader question of rule-making I think is an important point to make. That whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system, more often in the federal level, but also at the state level, is to “do something,” right?

And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999 percent of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something.

And we’re taking people’s rights away each time we do that and we’re not necessarily focusing on the real challenge.

So if we have people that are mentally ill, to the point where they go into the vortex and they don’t come out, and they’re hateful, and they’re in isolation, and they kill people, the impulse in Washington is take personal rights away from the rest of us.

And it won’t solve the problem of this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see. Maybe we ought to be more connected in our communities. Maybe we ought to have greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country. Maybe there’s a better way to deal with this than taking people’s human, you know, personal liberty away every time we kind of require people to do something.
Say what? Can that be what the candidate said? Where’s the statement we've all loved and enjoyed in the past few days?

Don’t get us wrong! For our money, that was a very soft, somewhat store-bought response to last week’s killings, a point we’ll explain below.

But where’s the part of the statement we liberals got to enjoy inside our prehistoric souls? Where’s the part where The Very Bad Chieftain of The Others cruelly waved the killings away, heartlessly saying this:

“Stuff happens.”

In the statement posted above, The Other keeps referring to the shootings as a “tragedy” which is “heartbreaking.” Where’s the part where he showed the world how empty and evil he is?

Prehistorics, please! If you sift through the evildoer’s subsequent statement, you’ll finally come to the two-word fragment you love. Sadly but inevitably, that subsequent fragment was the only thing Lizza chose to tweet that day, after he excitedly fumbled for his device.

Sadly, Lizza can’t claim to be dumb, since he basically isn’t. But so what! Here you see his full initial tweet, the tweet which brought so much joy to us in our own tribal world:
LIZZA (10/2/15): In Greenville, South Carolina, Jeb Bush, arguing against calls for gun control after major tragedy, says, “stuff happens.”
Heinous! All that talk about “heartbreaking tragedies” was now wiped away as we were pleasured by that!

Tribals, let's be fair! If you read the full transcript of what Candidate Bush later said in response to a follow-up question, you will see the longer subsequent statement from which Lizza pulled those two words. Stuff happens!

Lizza didn’t invent any words, as his colleagues sometimes have when they wanted to help us learn to loathe certain candidates. He didn’t conjure any words; Candidate Bush actually said the two words he excitedly tweeted.

Lizza invented no words! But for our money, the CNN star embarrassed himself when he offered that tweet—except embarrassment no longer exists when tribal feeling runs high within a society or culture.

Don’t get us wrong! We think Bush’s initial statement was “political,” less than obsessively honest—perhaps a bit store-bought. With respect to our endless mass shootings, everyone knows that there is at least one thing the federal government could and should do:

As everyone knows, the federal government could, and obviously should, eliminate the ludicrous “gun show loophole!” By very large majorities, voters in both major parties have agreed with that obvious proposition in the recent past.

That wouldn’t stop most mass shootings; presumably, it wouldn’t even stop many. But when a candidate can’t even bring himself to mention that obvious possibility, we’d have to say that he perhaps isn’t being obsessively honest.

Then again, neither was Lizza! Sadly, though, we liberals may have reached the point where this is the best we can do.

Where did that longer statement by Candidate Bush come from? The longer statement in which The Beast kept describing the killings as a “heartbreaking tragedy?”

Here’s where that statement came from:

After being criticized for perhaps over-simplifying matters a tad, Lizza managed to tweet that much of Bush’s initial, larger statement about the Oregon killings. Even at that, he didn’t bother transcribing the follow-up question to which The Beast was responding when he finally gave our tribe the two words we thoroughly loved.

We still haven’t seen a complete transcript of the discussion from which two glorious words were selected for tweeting. For a longer transcript of what The Beast said, we’ll offer this link to the Washington Post. Scroll all the way to the bottom.

For today, we’ll close with a few observations:

We think Lizza should be embarrassed by his initial tweet. We think he should be embarrassed by the silly follow-up question with which he then extended this wonderfully pleasing event—the wonderfully pleasing tribal use he found for the Oregon killings.

That said, we think we liberals should perhaps be embarrassed too by our familiar reactions. For all of us in Our Own Liberal Tribe, we’d be inclined to say this:

Our Own Stuff keeps happening too! It seems to happen more and more often. Given our love of loathing The Other, it may be the best we can do.

That said, our prehistoric love of loathing isn’t likely to help us attain our legitimate goals. Do we still have any such goals? Or are we now all about loathing?

Tomorrow: We've seen this movie before. What can this movie tell us?


  1. Yes. These prehuman droogs. Can you believe someone who tweeted that about The Beast is still on TV?

  2. "Gun show loophole" is a misnomer. Dealers who sell at a gun show are treated exactly the same as if they sold guns in their shop, including mandatory background checks. The group who don't have to do background checks is individuals who are not engaged in the business of selling firearms. A private inividual can sell a gun without a background check at at gun show or anywhere else.

    Cato claims that "the overwhelming majority of guns offered for sale [at gun shows] are from federally licensed dealers. Guns sold by private individuals (such as gun collectors getting rid of a gun or two over the the weekend) are the distinct minority." http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/facts-about-gun-shows

    If Cato is right, closing the "gun show loophole" will do little good. BTW if one requires background checks for personal gun sales, I wonder if there would be a civil liberties problem. The FBI would be providing personal information about someone to some other individual.

    1. Using Cato as a source is like asking the Koch brothers to comment on conservative, and John Bircher, ideology.

    2. What I find sad is that nobody knows what to do. Bob admits that closing the "gun show loophole" wouldn't prevent most mass shootings. In fact, I don't know of any mass shootings that would have been prevented if personal gun sales required background checks.

      Mass shootings shouldn't be a liberal vs. conservative issue. This is a big problem that neither side knows how to solve.

    3. Republicans know what to do. I've listened to dozens of them explain it the past few days.

      ".....mumble.... bumble...... jumble..... Mental Health..... mutter.... stutter...... mutter..... Mental Health.....ah.....eeee.....ooooo......a...e..i..o..u... Mental Health........can we stop talking about guns now?

    4. I don't think anyone accurately knows how many guns are sold in the parking lots at gun shows.

    5. mm - I agree with you. Republicans don't have an answer to mass shootings. Neither do the Democrats. Dems do know that mass shootings can be used to demonize Republicans. Demonizing Republicans won't save any lives, but it will help Democrats get elected. And, it makes Democrats feel good about not being Republicans.

    6. I've listened to dozens of dumb, lazy liberals™ respond like mm to the statement "I don't know of any mass shootings that would have been prevented if personal gun sales requirted background checks."

      dumb, lazy liberals is a regular phrase of The Daily Howler and must be repeated incessantly for quality musing on the mainstream "press corps" (which is contained in quotation marks for the same reason this statement is in parentheses and I used the Trademark symbol...we just don't know)

    7. I think people know how many mass murders are committed in the parking lots at gun shows.

    8. I just never realized until the republicans spoke that the USA has such an extraordinarily high level of mental illness compared to the rest of the civilized world.


    9. This post isn't about guns or mental illness. Unless you consider worms eating the brains of our press corps and the subsequent collapse of our intellectual culture a mental illness instead of obedience to guild rules.

    10. Good point, @2:24. The Troll has hijacked the comments again.

    11. I don't always agree with Horace Feathers but when I do I would not call him The Troll.

    12. The idea that there are no mass shootings in other countries is wrong. They don't have much visibility in the USA when they happen elsewhere (with some exceptions) but there are such shootings in other places, including European countries with strict gun control. They may not be as frequent, but they do happen.

    13. "Demonizing Republicans won't save any lives, but it will help Democrats get elected."

      If they're replacing Republicans in government, even electing grizzly bears and lions will save lives.

    14. Perfect comment, 8:58, to illustrate Bob's point:

      That said, our prehistoric love of loathing isn’t likely to help us attain our legitimate goals. Do we still have any such goals? Or are we now all about loathing?

    15. DinC,
      It sounds like you think 8:58 is mistaken. Can you tell us why?

    16. One man's loathing is another man's truth.

  3. "Maybe there’s a better way to deal with this than taking people’s human, you know, personal liberty away every time we, you know, kind of require people to do something."

    Human, you know, personal liberty matters.

  4. Bob Somerby wrote:

    "We still haven’t seen a complete transcript of the discussion from which two glorious words were selected for tweeting."

    No, but from the partial transcript to which Bob Somerby linked, we know Bush brought up the Oregon shooting in response to a question that had nothing to do with the incident. The question was about whether the 2nd Amendment applied only to militias or to an individual's right to bear arms. Somerby elected to leave that out while criticizing
    Lizza for leaving stuff out.

    Of course we did have the earlier Howler Post indicating why use of the word "stuff" might attract attention when uttered by this year's Candidate Bush. Or did we?

    Because Bob Somerby cares about black people. And free stuff.

    1. Follow Bob on Twitter.

    2. Somerby left something out that has nothing to do with his topic, which was Lizza's unfairness to Bush.

    3. Classic @ 1:48.

    4. Man's cruelty to man has been the subject of numerous sociological and psychological studies. Plus many novels and stuff, you know.

    5. Sick burn brother. Well played!!!

  5. Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt said Lizza is "widely regarded as one of the premier political reporters of the United States working at this time".

    Why does Bob Somerby include him in "our own tribe"?

  6. People who liked this post also liked this:


    1. yeah, Breitbart and Somerby are exactly the same.

    2. Key excerpts:


      Because over the years our elite media has devolved from journalists into left-wing gotcha queens, here’s Lizza’s “reporting” on a Republican presidential candidate’s complex answer to a complex problem:.....

      Ten years ago Lizza and his media colleagues could get away with this.

      In the era of New Media, those days are over.

      To circle back: Here’s why trust in the media is at all-time low: The media’s lies are being exposed by New Media and the media’s Ryan Lizzas refuse to stop lying."

      So there is a difference. The other tribe thinks they are fighting back while our tribe's fighter, Bob Somerby is ignored and forced to write:

      "It seems to happen more and more often. Given our love of loathing The Other, it may be the best we can do."

  7. And who the hell was that "moderator?"

    Can we start selecting such people at least in part for an ability to speak in complete sentences? Please?

    Moderator: "And I remember right after Columbine. And this is a long, long time ago I was listening to the radio, and they were talking about how schools you’re not allowed to have prayer vigils. But the second – being allowed to pray, I should say, or have, you know, Christian or Jewish or whatever faith-based groups on these public education schools. But then the guy said, you know it’s funny that you send a guy there with an Uzi or a handgun to shoot a bunch of people, the first thing they do after the tragedy –"

    BUSH: "Of course."

    Moderator: "--prayer vigil, whatever the faith-based group is and always to say that you should do that on the front end, maybe you wouldn’t have these tragedies on the back end."

    But despite any lack of congruity with the actual English language, the moderator's point was clear: A wise man once said we'd have less gun violence if we prayed more.

    1. Prayer happens.

    2. Plenty of gun violence happens in the name of religion. Would prayer prevent or exacerbate that? Some of these violent mass shooters do it in the name of God.

    3. Anon 4:31 -- Religions aren't all equal. There isn't a lot of violence right now in the name of Buddhism or Mormonism or Confucianism. There is a lot of violence in the name of Islam.

    4. See Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven for a description of Mormon fundamentalist violence.

    5. Poor Bernie can't take a stand on gun control because there are too many hunters in his home state. Isn't Hillary running in the same primaries as Sanders? Is it that Sanders is worrying about being reelected after he loses the primary race? Even he knows he is unelectable.

    6. DinC,
      You're thinking about ISIS?
      ISIS is a political group looking to gain more power. They just use religion (in this case, Islam) to rile-up the true-believers to do the work to help them gain power.
      Can you explain how that is in any way different than the GOP and the religious right? Keep in mind abortion clinic bombings and shootings, when you try to make your points.
      thank you in advance.

  8. Today at HuffPo they are helping Trump solidify his gender gap while reducing Hillary's appeal to clingy working class white men.

  9. No. What Jeb? actually was saying: Just because things (stuff) happen we shouldn't overreact and do something (stupid).
    See 9/11 responses: The Patriot Act, torture, attacking Iraq, kicking over the Middle East hornets nest etc. as prime examples.

    1. In principle I agree with Jeb. We don't want to over-react or do something stupid. However, the NRA (including most Republicans and many Democrats) have done *nothing*, despite the fact that mass shootings are occurring year after year. This is not caution, this is cowardice. Other countries (look at Australia) have done something and it works. You cannot prevent all mass shootings, but you can take steps to make them less likely and less deadly. Jeb has had years to develop his plan. Where is it?

    2. It's probably with all of Congress' mental health initiatives and release of fundings for mental health (which they insist is the real issue with these shootings, not gun proliferation). In other words, there is no plan. Talking about mental health after these shootings is just a way to change the subject.

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