MAY LOOK LIKE PLUTOCRAT BIAS: CNBC really wasn't substantive!


Part 5—Our big liberal pundits won't tell:
We've now had four Republican debates. Have any of these sessions actually been "substantive?"

Strongly, we would say no. In a front-page report in today's New York Times, Haberman and Flegenheimer allude to one of the problems.

The reporters describe a familiar sequence from Tuesday evening's fourth debate. This is precisely the way "substantive" discourse dies:
HABERMAN/FLEGENHEIMER (11/13/15): The immigration issue flared briefly during the Republican debate on Tuesday night in Milwaukee, with Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio saying there was no way to conduct the types of mass deportations that Mr. Trump has called for.

Just after they addressed the issue, the Fox Business Network moderators turned to Mr. Rubio, but instead of pressing him on the issue, they turned to a new topic, sparing him difficult questions in front of a nationally televised audience.
So true! For whatever reason, attention disorder reared its very familiar head during that exchange. The moderators asked two candidates about mass deportation, thus rushed to a new/improved topic.

Was this done as a favor to Candidate Rubio? Some have offered that speculation; we have no idea. But when debates are run in this scattershot way, they become beauty pageants.

TV viewers get to see and hear how the candidates look and sound. But it's hard to conduct a substantive discussion when moderator hopscotch around in grab-bag fashion, asking unrelated questions in much the way the ping-pong balls appear in a lottery drawing.

This approach is a gift to the candidates, especially to the slackers and the dissemblers. They get to recite a few easy points. The moderators then move on.

This approach is the death of substance. Moderators who behave this way can spend two hours asking questions, all of which deal with matters of substance, without advancing anyone's grasp of any major issue.

By the end of a two-hour session, such moderators may be asking questions about fantasy football as the audience jeers. Indeed, that's exactly what happened at the third GOP debate, the October 28 debate run by CNBC.

Deeply important policy questions were quickly abandoned and ignored. Instead, the moderators rattled a long list of relatively trivial questions, including many which were loaded with snark. Many of these snark-filled questions involved no substance at all.

Consider the first round of questions for the ten candidates—the round of questions which were asked before the evening's first commercial break. Presumably by corporate design, these questions were loaded with attitude, provocation and snark.

But uh-oh! In the process of pimping their tude, the moderators abandoned any attempt to create a substantive discussion. In particular, the candidates received a very large pass concerning their ludicrous budget plans, which Candidate Kasich had correctly denounced as "crazy" just one day before.

The moderators hopscotched around, asking a grab-bag of unrelated, trivial questions. But so what? Within a matter of days, Ezra Klein and other major pundits were hailing the "substantive" work of those overpaid TV stars.

A cynic might even think that ludicrous claims had the look of careerist guild bias! That said, how "substantive" was that first round of questions, which Candidate Cruz was soon denouncing?

Let's take a look at the record:

A highly charitable person could claim that the first three questions—to Candidates Trump, Carson and Kasich—were an attempt to stage a substantive discussion of those budget plans.

For reasons we'll note below, we wouldn't be that charitable. At any rate, the exchanges with those first three candidates lasted only seven minutes, in a session which ran two hours.

At that point, guess what happened? We'll simply borrow the language shown above from today's news report:

"Just after they addressed the issue, the [CNBC] moderators turned to Mr. Rubio, but instead of pressing him on the issue, they turned to a new topic, sparing him difficult questions in front of a nationally televised audience!" That same thing happened on October 28!

Question 4 went to Candidate Rubio. But he wasn't asked about his own budget plan which, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, "would add $11.8 trillion to the national debt over a decade." In an outbreak of attention deficit, that giant topic had been abandoned. Instead, Rubio was asked an amazingly snarky question, in which it was suggested that he should quit the race, postponing his pursuit of the White House until he becomes a bit older.

("You've been a young man in a hurry ever since you won your first election in your 20s...Why not slow down, get a few more things done first or least finish what you start?" In the second round of questions, Rubio was asked if he possibly lacks the "maturity" to serve in the White House.)

Think back to late October 2007. In that year, Candidate Obama was a young first-term senator, as Rubio is today. (Obama had just turned 46; Rubio is 44.)

Back in 2007, if any moderator had posed such questions to Candidate Obama, the liberal/progressive world would have been upset. The question to Rubio was highly presumptuous, even if our own tribal bias may have kept us from seeing as much.

Be that as it may, the question to Candidate Rubio wasn't "substantive" at all. Meanwhile, the candidates' crazy budget plans had now disappeared from view.

The next question, Question 5, went to Candidate Bush. This question didn't deal with a substantive topic either. Instead, Bush was asked to discuss "how far your stock has fallen in this race, despite the big investment your donors have made."

There is no bigger waste of time than a debate question about bad poll numbers. Meanwhile, this question came with a peculiar pair of gotchas: "I want to ask you in this context. Ben Bernanke, who was appointed Fed chairman by your brother, recently wrote a book in which he said he no longer considers himself a Republican because the Republican Party has given in to know-nothingism. Is that why you're having a difficult time in this race?"

In that way, Bush was asked to discuss the possibility that Republican voters are a gang of know-nothings. Apparently, he was also expected to respond to everything that has ever been said by one of his brother's appointees.

Question 6 went to Candidate Fiorina. She was asked, for the ten millionth time, to recite her standard speech about her tenure at Hewlett Packard. Beyond that, she was asked to explain a weird statement by a former HP board member who has taken to defending her tenure. This matched the question to Candidate Bush about Bernanke's statement.

By now, the moderators had abandoned the candidates' crazy tax plans. Indeed, the moderators had moved on from substance altogether. Instead, they wasted everyone's time with a question about bad polls, the ultimate waste-of-time debate query. They littered the countryside with snark and with peculiar gotchas.

When Cruz got a somewhat snarky Question 7, he denounced the moderators. By the end of the debate, RNC chairman Reince Priebus was doing the same.

Alas! The snark which drove these early questions turned into an unpaid gift for the GOP. Meanwhile, we liberals failed to notice the way the moderators had given the candidates a pass on those ludicrous tax proposals, which Kasich had denounced as "crazy" just one day before.

Let's be fair! At first, we liberals did wail and moan about the moderators. As we noted yesterday, Josh Marshall quickly reported what everyone was saying.

"As everyone is already discussing, CNBC probably shouldn't be allowed to run a debate again," Marshall wrote. "Aside from the expertly prepared John Harwood, the moderators were bad and poorly—almost embarrassingly—prepared."

In our view, Harwood was awful too. As we'll note below, his ridiculous opening questions for Trump established the snark-infested tone of the first round of questions.

At any rate, Marshall posted again an hour later. "Let's not even get into perhaps the most comically poor debate prep we've ever seen in a national debate," he wrote. "Are these folks even journalists?"

According to Marshall, everyone was saying it. The debate had been so poorly run that CNBC should never be allowed to run one again. But heaven help our tribalism, which is eating the brains of the liberal world. As soon as the GOP began to criticize the moderators, we liberals copped a new attitude! We praised them for their substantive questions, often in ludicrous ways.

For starters, just consider what Ezra Klein said about Harwood's first question to Trump.

Harwood's first question to Trump was barely a question at all. "Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?" the expertly-prepared moderator had said.

Basically, Harwood had stated his derisive judgement in the form of a question! But alas! His snark-drenched non-question question served as a gift to Trump. So did his second insult-in-the-form-of-a-question, where he pictured Trump trying to fly off the stage by flapping his arms very hard.

As he opened the evening's questions, Harwood trafficked in insults rather than journalism. But as soon as Priebus complained, we liberals began to defend him, with Ezra Klein making one of the dumbest comments ever committed to print:

"I’m a comic book nerd, and even I don’t know what it means to ask if something is a 'comic book presidential campaign,' " Ezra actually said.

Earth to Ezra: Everybody else on the planet does know what that means!

Other pundits struggled manfully, defending the substantive nature of CNBC's early questions. William Saletan parsed it thusly at Slate:
SALETAN (10/29/15): Half an hour into Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, Sen. Ted Cruz exploded at the CNBC moderators. “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz fumed. “You look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don't you resign?’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?”


Take Cruz’s speech. It doesn’t even match the debate transcript. To begin with, nobody called Trump a villain. CNBC’s John Harwood asked Trump how he would fulfill his promises to “build a wall and make another country pay for it” (Mexico), “send 11 million people out of the country” (undocumented immigrants), and “cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit.” Second, nobody asked Carson whether he could do math. CNBC’s Becky Quick asked Carson how he would close the $1 trillion gap between current federal spending and the revenue projected from Carson’s 15 percent flat tax. Third, nobody asked Kasich to insult his colleagues. Kasich volunteered that Trump’s and Carson’s promises were impractical and incoherent. All of these questions were substantive. In fact, Cruz’s speech was a diversion from the query that had been posed to him—namely, why did he oppose this week’s agreement to raise the debt limit?
Truly, that's sad. Saletan criticized Cruz for failing to match the debate transcript, which didn't exist at the time Cruz spoke.

Saletan did have a transcript, but he chose to ignore it. He disappeared Harwood's "comic book" reference, thereby giving a false impression of what Harwood had actually said.

"All these questions were substantive," Saletan also said. In this statement, he simply ignoring the several questions which weren't.

Cruz's take on the questions to Rubio and Bush had been perfectly fair, perhaps even soft. Saletan simply ignored those non-substantive questions, along with the golden oldie to Fiorina, as he praised the moderators for their substantive work.

Once the RNC got into the hunt, presentations like this became de rigueur for many liberal pundits. If the RNC was attacking the panel, that seemed to mean that we liberals had to assert their greatness. We were too dumb, too lazy, too uncaring to note a basic fact:

In fact, the overpaid TV stars had abandoned substance early on, giving those candidates a near total pass on the craziness of their budget proposals.

Perhaps it was our "tribal bias"--our instinct to contradict whatever The Other Tribe says. Perhaps it was our "careerist guild bias"--our instinct to maintain the code of silence about way our colleagues and possible future employers actually work.

It may have been free-floating "plutocrat bias"--our inability to care at this point when massive upward redistribution is being proposed in front of our eyes.

Whatever it was, it had us saying that we don't even know what the term "comic book" means! And this Monday, it had our analysts with red swollen eyes after they read a post by their Uncle Drum.

Good lord! Drum listed a few of the ludicrous elements in those "crazy" tax proposals. But then, good grief! He said this:
DRUM (11/9/15): This is all fantasyland stuff. So why doesn't the media hammer them more on it? Why do debate moderators let them get away with such lunacy? Good question. John Harwood tried the only honest approach in the last debate, suggesting that Donald Trump was running a "comic book" campaign—and it was Harwood who got hammered. Harwood gamely tried a second time with Trump, telling him that "you have as much chance of cutting taxes that much without increasing the deficit as you would of flying away from that podium by flapping your arms." Trump brushed him off. Harwood tried yet again with Rubio, this time citing numbers from the Tax Foundation, and Rubio brushed him off. That's a couple of tries at mockery and one try at arithmetic, and they both had the same effect.
"Harwood tried the only honest approach?" What have they done with our real Uncle Drum, two or three analysts cried.

Was Harwood's approach honest at all? We have no idea. We'll guess it may have been prescribed by his corporate owners. We'll guess they may have wanted to establish a tone in the first round of questions. We'll guess they simply overshot the runway by a few thousand yards.

Those would be our guesses. But whatever else can be said about Harwood's approach, his approach wasn't journalistic.

A journalist can't establish a point by use of derisive language. He has to establish his points by reference to basic facts.

Harwood cited very few facts in his first round of questions to Trump. Later on, he used real facts with Rubio, but there was no follow-up from the rest of the panel after Rubio evaded and dissembled.

Uncle Drum seemed puzzled about what a panel can do about this. Luckily, we can explain! This is what the CNBC panel should have done in that third debate:

They should have set a block aside to discuss budget plans—nothing else. They should have announced that their first long block would be about nothing else.

In discussing those budget plans, they should have established the lunatic size of those proposed tax cuts. It isn't enough to say that Trump is proposing $10 trillion in cuts. You have to say that his $11-12 trillion in tax cuts is many times larger than Bush's tax cuts. You have to say that he would cut one-fourth of all federal receipts.

In discussing those budget plans, they should have established the degree of fantasy involved in the candidates' projected growth rates. Will Candidate Trump preside over an economy with 6% annual growth rates? The history of our annual growth rates is easy to cite; many experts can be quoted. It's easy to see that Trump is projecting that cows will jump over the moon.

In discussing those budget plans, they should have insisted that the candidates start naming specific budget cuts. Journalistically, garbage like this should never be allowed to occur:
CARSON (10/28/15): You also have to get rid of all the deductions and all the loopholes. You also have to do some strategic cutting in several places. Remember, we have 645 federal agencies and sub-agencies. Anybody who tells me that we need every penny and every one of those is in a fantasy world.

So, also, we can stimulate the economy. That's gonna be the real growth engine, stimulating the economy. Because it's tethered down right now with so many regulations.

QUICK: You'd have to cut— You'd have to cut government by about 40 percent to make it work with a $1.1 trillion hole.

CARSON: It's not true.

QUICK: That is true, I looked at the numbers.

CARSON: When— When we put all the facts down, you'll be able to see that it's not true, it works out very well.

QUICK: Dr. Carson, thank you.
Journalistically, that's an abomination. To her credit, Quick almost seemed to be trying. That said, here's what occurred:

Carson said we don't need every one of our 645 federal agencies. Plainly, that is true. It also has nothing to do with the amount of cutting his crazy plan would require.

Quick then made one tiny attempt to discuss some actual numbers. Carson said her statement wasn't true. Quick then thanked him for saying that and she hurried on. None of the panelists ever mentioned Carson's manifest bullshit again.

In discussing those budget plans, they have to ask the so-called "flat taxers" to name the deductions they would dump. These deductions have all been costed out. It's easy to say how much money would be saved by dumping different deductions.

Journalistically, you can't allow this gang of hustlers to drift along with endless vague statements about getting rid of loopholes. By the way, would Carson keep the standard deduction as part of his lunatic single-rate plan? In eleven hours of pseudo-debate, no one has bothered to ask.

"Harwood tried the only honest approach?" That's right up there with Ezra's claim that he doesn't know what "comic book" means. Luckily, the honest journalistic approach is easy to define.

A panel has to stick to fact-based questions about those tax proposals. And they have to engage in persistent follow-up. They can't do what the New York Times describes this very morning:

"But instead of pressing him on the issue, they turned to a new topic, sparing him difficult questions in front of a nationally televised audience."

That's exactly what these corporate panels have been doing all along. People like Ezra, Marshall and Saletan can't seem to figure this out.

(Drum has been strongly back on track in the past several days. He's been listing the ludicrous budget claims these candidates must be called on.)

For ourselves, we'll guess those panels are doing what their corporate bosses instructed. That said, why won't your favorite liberals say what those panels are doing?

Why won't they say that those panels have been hopscotching all around, refusing to stage a sustained critique of those "crazy" budget proposals? Why won't our favorite star liberals tell us the truth about that?

It may be their "careerist guild bias." They want to sit on those panels some day. Within the Potemkin American press, you never criticize your possible future employers.

(This is known as the code of silence.)

It could be their "tribal bias." If Priebus says the panelists were bad, we know they must have been good.

(This is the way we liberals get dumb and dumberer.)

Clearly, though, this conduct has to reflect a bit of "plutocrat bias." Those tax proposals are plainly crazy, just as Kasich said. Beyond that, they're an abomination of upward distribution to the vastly rich, with the strong possibility that some of the plans will increase federal tax bills to the middle class.

Ezra doesn't seem to care about that any more. Maybe he's been in This Town too long. Maybe he's gotten too rich.


  1. "Maybe he's been in This Town too long. Maybe he's gotten too rich."

    Sounds like a charge leveled at Hillary Clinton.

  2. Somerby asks, "We've now had four Republican debates. Have any of these sessions actually been "substantive?"

    The only one substantive enough to have captured Somerby's attention was the one on CNBC.

    1. And of course, long after the right-wing backlash took shape, which Somerby, in his inimitable style, is sure to regurgitate.

    2. Translation: you have nothing to say.

    3. Translation: Like a good puppy, you'll lap up whatever Bob regurgitates. And call it a steak dinner.

    4. Go easy on 3:31 PM - critical thinking ability disrupted by the the blogger's soviet hive mind.

  3. "Journalistically, you can't allow this gang of hustlers to drift along with endless vague statements..." B. Somerby 11/13

    "For today, let's consider Krugman's second claim, the claim that Carson is a "grifter."

    Also, consider the ease with which Krugman extends this insulting claim to other Republican candidates." B. Somerby 11/3

    Bob's readers will see this comment as an example of bias against Somerby. It's hard to say they're wrong.

    This comment is straight outta the Howler's mouth!

  4. Affordability of a tqx plan goes two ways:

    1. How affordable is the plan to the government?
    2. How affordable is the plan to the tax-payer?

    Bob is entirely focused on #1. The Republican tax plans wouldn't produce nearly enough revenue to run the government as it currently runs. Also, the cuts in benefits and services needed to make the Republican plans work are politically unthinkable IMHO.

    However, many voters are more concerned with #2. Many Americans find today's tax rates unaffordable to themselves. It's not just FIT. A worker pays state and federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare assessments. And, her/his medical insurance premiums are also deducted from the paycheck. The result is that many employees take home less than 70% of what they earn.

    1. Yes, David. Let's focus on the affordability of income tax cut plans to the taxpayer. In fact, we have quite the example to look at in the State of Kansas.

      You see, a few years back, Sam Brownback took a meat axe to income taxes, especially corporate but also personal as well. And this was done on the time-worn "supply side" theory that the lower the taxes, the faster businesses would rush into the state, and thus more revenue would be generated by lower taxes.

      Sure, there has been some job growth in Kansas -- lagging far behind neighboring states that didn't take such a clumsy approach to its income tax code.

      And slow job growth and dwinding revenues dried up what the state could pay for such "big government frills" as public education and infrastructure.

      So faced with huge deficits as projected revenues in reality lagged farther and farther and farther behind even "balanced" budgets passed by the legislature, the Kansas Legislature this year, with Brownback's signature, passed massive increases in sales and excise taxes, in which Sam takes back with the left hand what he gave with the right.

      And not only that, local governments faced with massive cuts in state aid, have had to make up the difference with their own tax hikes -- sales for cities, property for school districts.

      Here's the funny thing. For people like the Koch Brothers who bought and paid for Brownback, the tax cuts were very affordable. They made millions. Even after all the personal sales and property tax hikes, they'll still clear millions.

      But for people like me? Well guess where the burden of the tax hikes to make up for tax cuts falls? Yep, I pay more in local and state taxes than I ever have. Thank you, Sam. But I think you've given me all the "tax cuts" I can possibly afford.

    2. Re: David in Cal's fellow traveller's crackpot economic "beliefs", The Perfess'r's been a voice in the wilderness for years (contrary to Bob's claim Krugie is nothing more than a tribal bombthrower). Here's an excerpt from Friday's column:

      "The new Republican monetary orthodoxy has already failed the reality test with flying colors: that “debased” dollar has risen 30 percent against other major currencies since 2011, while inflation has stayed low. In fact, the failure of conservative monetary predictions has been so abject that news reports, always looking for “balance,” tend to whitewash the record by pretending that Republican Fed critics didn’t say what they said. But years of predictive failure haven’t stopped the orthodoxy from tightening its grip on the party. What’s going on?

      My main answer would be that the Friedman compromise — trash-talking government activism in general, but asserting that monetary policy is different — has proved politically unsustainable. You can’t, in the long run, keep telling your base that government bureaucrats are invariably incompetent, evil or both, then say that the Fed, which is, when all is said and done, basically a government agency run by bureaucrats, should be left free to print money as it sees fit."

      If you think the GOP clowncar will candidly attempt to answer straightforward econ questions with this warped worldview, I got a tollbridge in Jersey you might be interested in buying.

    3. And then they re-elected Brownback.

      "Thank you sir, may I have another."

    4. And the solution according to Somerby is to be nice, and don't fight back too hard.

      In other words, "Thank you sir, may I have another."

    5. I think you are mischaracterizing Somerby's theme. He has great wisdom and it would be wise to try to understand what he's saying not in such simpleton terms as you have expressed it.

      The question is why is it so easy to get these people to vote against their own interests. I refuse to believe it is because the repubs are so smart and clever.

    6. I think Somerby's theme is that liberals are the good guys, so they shouldn't behave like bad guys.

    7. "I think Somerby's theme is that liberals are the good guys. so they shouldn't behave like bad guys."

      Grain of salt, meet the consummate conservative drone.

    8. "I refuse to believe that it is because the repubs are so smart and clever."

      So the reason they vote against their own interests is that liberals are dumber and obtuse?

      Ahh, the sweet hay!

    9. I didn't say that, but I do believe Somerby is onto something. One thing I do know is I don't have all the answers.

    10. Alas. you did indeed seem to say that. Earth to mm. Everyone in the comment box know what you meant.

  5. This is the fifteenth post Somerby has written on the CNBC debate.

    Finally he has suggested how the moderators should have done their job.

    Of course this was the third debate. Somerby has watched the previous two. He was aware, I hope, using his own words that "Good God! On the stage" will stand "a collection of candidates who have offered the craziest set of budget proposals in the nation's long history. Indeed, one of the candidates, Candidate Kasich, had made that very point, exactly one day earlier" at least in Somerby's mind.

    Did it occur to Bob that this kind of focused debate should have been conducted by FOX or CNN previously? Did he criticize them for not doing it? Did it occur to Bob to suggest this format it in writing before any of the three debates, in hopes his influential readership may have improved public discourse? Did it occur to Bob while ranting repeatedly about CNBC the last two weeks that he should suggest such a format to FOX/WSJ for the fourth debate? Do any Bob readers think FOX/WSJ conducted their debate the way Bob suggests now that CNBC should have conducted theirs?

    Having watched the two most recent debates, whose format do you thinke God would have liked better?

    1. How many times did Somerby claim Kasich said either the tax or budget plans of his fellow candidates were "crazy"? How many times did Kasich actually say that?

    2. How many times did Kasich have to say it?

    3. Somerby has great wisdom and it would be wise to try to understand that he's adding things people never said and repeating them endlessly in simpleton terms because this worked against Gore.

    4. Sure, Somerby is just making shit up. I suppose this never happened.

      KASICH (10/27/15): Do you know how crazy this election is?

      Let me tell you something, I've about had it with these people. And let me tell you why.

      We got one candidate that says that we ought to abolish Medicaid and Medicare. You ever heard of anything so crazy as that? Telling our people in this country who are seniors, or about to be seniors, that we're going to abolish Medicaid and Medicare?

      We've got one person saying we ought to have a 10 percent flat tax that will drive up the deficit in this country by trillions of dollars that my daughters will spend the rest of their lives having to pay off.

      You know, what I say to them is, Why don't we have no taxes? Just get rid of them all, and then a chicken in every pot on top of it?


      That is just crazy. We got people proposing health care reform that's going to leave, I believe, millions of people without adequate health insurance.

    5. That did happen. In fact there was more to the statement you chose to leave out in "[...]"

      What did you disappear with "[...]" that you then immediately followed with the quote "That is just crazy."?

      I will wait for you to enlighten others. And when you don't, I will use another of your quotes above to demonstrate that you, like Somerby, are a dishonest hypocrite. You are just like the folks that had fun with silly Al Gore's unfortunately phrased tooting of his own internet horn in 1999.

    6. You know, as my old friend used to say,
      "I can't buy and sell at the same time"

      Somerby made the rather unremarkable observation that Kasich called out his republican opponent for proposing CRAZY stuff.

      I don't know what the fuck you're saying. Really, try using plain old King's English. Speak straight, like you're from Jersey.

      Here's another example.

      We got one candidate that says we ought to abolish Medicaid and Medicare. You ever heard of anything so crazy as that, telling our, our people in this country who are seniors or about to be seniors that we’re gonna abolish Medicaid and Medicare

    7. You are one devious dishonest person prone to calling others names when the vile one is you.

      Your second example is a repeat of something quoted in your first comment. You think, like Somerby, that repeating the lie makes it more believable?

      [...] This is what you and Somerby both used to disappear this:

      KASICH "We got one guy that says we ought to take 10 or 11 million peopleand pick them up - I don't know where were gonna go - in their homes, their apartments and wre going to picke em up and take em to the border and scream at em to get out of our country? That is - that's crazy."

      Sorry mm. Kasich called the election crazy. He called proposing abolition of Medicare and Medicaid crazy. He called Trump's deportation proposal crazy.

      In between he criticized the 10% flat tax proposal of one, repeat, one candidate.

      He never called any budget proposal crazy. He never mentioned any budget proposal at all. The term crazy, which he used three times, was not used when he described the one tax proposal, he mentioned.

      If you and Somerby have the license to expand and modify what Kasich did say to fit what you and Somerby would like him to have said, then everyone who wanted Al Gore to have claimed he invented the internet has the same license.

    8. You trolls don't do implication -- you fall back on literalness to make legalistic complaints, ignoring the way language is used in real life. Crazy starts and ends Kasich's comments, with examples of the craziness strewn throughout. The term "crazy" thus applies to all of his listed examples, including the ones about taxes.

      You play these little games the way a four-year old argues about bedtime. "You said my bedtime was at 8 but you didn't say 8 pm and it is not 8 in the morning, therefore I don't have to go to bed until tomorrow morning." What a waste of time you are. mm is a saint for humoring you on this one.

    9. mm and Somerby also ignore the fact that Harwood's first question to Trump was almost point for point taken from Kasich's rant. And Harwood's second question, which was to Kasich, was an invitation for him to repeat what he said the night before.

      Bob thinks it is the job of the moderators to take all the time they need to establish a candidate's position or rebut them when they take the alloted time to shovel horseshit. The latter is a time honored debate/interview tradition. The former is not. When you have 10 candidates and two hours, that isn't ever going to work.

      Hell it took Bob Somerby almost two weeks to get around to telling his readers how the moderators should have done their job.

    10. Lets look at how language is used in real life.

      Corby calls everyone who disagrees with Somerby a troll, and says all trolls waste space and stifle conversation, yet almost all of of Corby's comments are in response to or about those whom he calls names. He also claims to be a psychology professor yet calls others four year olds.

    11. Oh, so that is your idiotic point!

      He never called any budget proposal crazy.

      So I suppose when Kasich said the following:

      "We’ve got one person saying we ought to have a 10% flat tax that’ll drive up the deficit in this country by trillion of dollars that my daughters will spend the rest of their lives having to pay off. You know what I say to them is ‘Why don’t we have no taxes, just get rid of them all and then put a chicken in every pot on top of it.’

      he meant only that he had a reasonable disagreement with a reasonable proposal. got it. Christ, what a waste of space you are.

    12. You can "suppose" Kasich meant anything you want mm.

      You and your main man Somerby suppose, novelize, invent, and take the initiative in creating all sorts of things people did not say through the literacy license you jackasses laughably call "implication." Then you "seem" to whine like "lazy dislikeable liberals" when someone does it to someone you like.

      Christ, what a leap from criticizing one candidate's tax plan as a deficit driver to calling all his opponents "budget" proposals crazy.

      Corby claims "trolls" don't do "implication."

      Well, thank heavens Somerby, Corby and mm make up for that flaw by doubling and tripling down on "invention."

    13. But Somerby never wrote the thing that seems to have your panties in a bunch. He never claimed that Kasich called all his opponents "budget" proposals crazy. Nor did I.

      To be fair to Kasich, he didn't have a lot of time to go through the various permutations of "crazy" standing on the stage next to him.

    14. "A panel has to stick to fact-based questions about those tax proposals," a blogger once wrote.

      A blogger and his commenters don't think they have to. That's why in the same series the blogger could write:

      "Good God! On the stage stood a collection of candidates who have offered the craziest set of budget proposals in the nation's long history. Indeed, one of the candidates, Candidate Kasich, had made that very point, exactly one day earlier." 11/6/15

      And then the blooger printed the exact quote with the exact same deletion you copied and pasted from him here in this comment box, designed to make it seem if the criticism of one candidate's tadc proposals contained the declaration that it was the tax plan to which he applied the "crazy" adjective, not the deportation plan of another candidate.

      You are both dishonest and hypocritical. In fairness, you may just have been a dupe the first time. There was no excuse this time.

    15. MM: "But Somerby never wrote the thing that seems to have your panties in a bunch. He never claimed that Kasich called all his opponents "budget" proposals crazy."

      SOMERBY: "In particular, the candidates received a very large pass concerning their ludicrous budget plans, which Candidate Kasich had correctly denounced as "crazy" just one day before."

    16. Part 5: Our Big Howler Fans Won't Tell:

      Anon. @ 8:57 and irishguy have provided the beginning and ending bookends of the "crazy budget proposal" novelizations Bob Somerby put into the mouth of Character Kasich.

      Here are some more:

      "For now, let's consider those tax cut proposals, which Kasich described as "crazy." 11/6/15

      "Those budget proposals pander to the one percent in ways which seem utterly crazy. Indeed, Candidate Kasich had used that term one day before, assailing the "crazy" budget plans of Candidates Carson and Trump." 11/7/15

      "The candidates who stood on that stage have brought forth the craziest set of budget proposals in the nation's long history. One day before the October 28 debate, one of the candidates, Candidate Kasich, said exactly that, in a highly unusual, impassioned press event."

      "Monsters and giants stood on the stage, confronting three to six moderators. We refer to the GOP budget proposals, which Candidate Kasich had assailed as "crazy" just one day before." 11/10/15

      "Those budget proposals were "crazy," Candidate Kasich had said. He referred to the tax cuts, which were giant; to the spending cuts, which were invisible; to the projected growth rates, which were clownish; and to the loopholes the candidates said they would dump, which kept disappearing under questioning in a type of voodoo. 11/10/15

      "The proposals are "crazy," the Ohio governor and presidential contender had said." 11/10/15

      "Ten candidates stood on the stage that night. They had presented the craziest budget plans in the history of the republic—and they were facing a star-studded panel from a major news org with a business/economics focus!

      How ludicrous were those budget proposals? One day before, Candidate Kasich had called the front-runners' budget plans "crazy!" 11/11/15

      "Their proposals were straight outta fantasyland; Kasich had said they were "crazy." Indeed, Kasich's colorful attack had made the moderators' job that much easier. They could surf behind his colorful language, thus defining the size of the problem without having to use insulting language of their own." 11/11/15

      "Good God! The candidates who stood on that stage had presented the craziest budget proposals in the nation's history. Candidate Kasich has said as much, just one day before." 11/11/15

      "How crazy are the crazy tax plans John Kasich assailed as "crazy?" 11/12/15

      As several have noted, the only tax proposal Kasich mentioned, without using the "crazy" adjective he deliberately applied several times to other things was that of Ben Carson. Here is how Bob Somerby finished his tour de force inventions on this issue:

      "That said, will Candidate Carson ever present a plan?"

      Gack! Alas! Good God! According to Somerby's Character Kasich, he "correctly" called plans "crazy." In the end, the novelist had to admit the one plan mentioned by the real Candidate Kasich was not even a real plan.

  6. OT: absolutely awful carnage in Paris tonight. On Friday the 13th, no less!

  7. Bob Somerby, Chris Matthews and Donald Trump are all old white guys whose memories of past actions make themselves seem more glorious that the actual record indicates.

  8. Notice Bob lies about Kasich, lies about Quick and neglects to mention any of the posts on Bethlehem Monday.

  9. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely take up space without contributing to discussion and/or attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such comments are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

  10. Warning to m*r*ns like me who have nothing to contribute to the comments section of this blog: I have occupied this nonsensical and juvenile field where I pretend that I am above any and all commenters who may disagree with or even criticize Bob Somerby while under the delusion that I am acting for the greater good when in fact I am not. I know I should get help, but this feels better and is much easier.

    1. glad to know the disclaimer still irritates the trolls

    2. Cool snark, Corby. Snark filled. Keep pimping your tude, dude.

  11. I guess the Plutocrat bias displayed in the Democratic debates doesn't matter.

    1. The debate was last evening and Somerby is supposed to rush to the keyboard early Sunday morning or he forfeits all credibility? Maybe that seems reasonable to a troll with no life.

    2. Last night was the third Democratic forum. Maybe your comment reveals that the person you call a troll knows more than you. Maybe your defense of Somerby explains why.

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