PREDICTIONS AND DENIGRATIONS: Charles Blow has been compared to Hitler!

MONDAY, MAY 16, 2016

Part 1—The vermin Over There:
Charles Blow has never been the sharpest crayon in the box of 64. Not even at the box where he's housed, the glorious New York Times.

(To distract yourself with all those colors, you can just click here.)

Blow is also a "CNN contributor;" we assume that means he gets paid by CNN as well as by the Times. This may help explain why you'll never read a description of that entity's conduct in the columns he writes for the Times. Elsewhere, this would be described as a conflict of interest. At the Times, the assortment of moral and intellectual giants don't worry about such plays.

Why do we question the gentleman's sharpness? Consider the column he colors today in the hard-copy Times.

As Blow was typing, the brilliant savants of our own liberal team were explaining, and explaining away, their embarrassing failed predictions during the GOP primary race.

At the Times, Nate Cohn explained away his failed predictions one week, having explained away the Times' failed "demographic-based [predictive] models" in his previous piece. This hasn't kept our intellectual giants from making new predictions about November.

Yesterday, Kevin Drum gave Trump a semi-provisional one percent chance. As a general matter, this strikes us as dumb-tilting work.

Our own team's intellectual giants bungled persistently all through the past year. But even as our giants explain away their failures, the rest of our team is busy declaring how dumb The Others all are.

It's the oldest (pre)human story! Chait and Marcotte and O'Hehir all told this ancient story last week, though we still think Traub told the story most regressively in late March—needless to say, for the Sunday Review in Blow's glorious Times.

We'll review those efforts this week; we'll also consider our own silly tribe's great love for useless prediction. For today, let's restrict ourselves to the crayons Blow used today as he colored The Other Tribe.

For ourselves, we think of Donald J. Trump as a very bad choice for president. That said, we also think it's extremely dumb to tell ugly, prehuman tales.

Blow agrees with our first view, is unconcerned with the second. At the same time, he's convinced, as prehumans always were, that his tribe is fully human—moral, deserving, honest and smart—and that The Others don't rise to the human level.

Nothing has ever convinced the Blows that this is a very shaky belief, a belief that has led to endless wars and to many defeats for the tribe. Blow is sure, as his type always is, that all virtue rests with his tribe.

He starts in rather quickly today on the dumbness of The Others.

(Next to him on the page, another one of our sillies denounces "Mr. Trump's overwhelmingly white male fans." That's a fairly silly claim, but it supports preferred script.)

Blow knows how dumb The Others are. Early on, he shifts from denigrations of Candidate Trump to sweeping denigrations of his supporters, many of whom he hasn't actually met:
BLOW (5/16/16): [Trump] is hollow, inconsistent, dishonest and shifty—and those who support him either love him in spite of it, or even more disturbingly, because of it.
That isn't precisely the way we view Trump, but you can certainly make a case for each of Blow's descriptions. That said, Candidates Clinton and Sanders have been described in similar ways, sometimes by other columnists right there on Blow's own page.

At any rate, so what? From that point on, Blow largely stops describing Candidate Trump or attempting to support his descriptions of Trump. He largely chooses to denigrate Trump's supporters instead.

Already, Blow seems to find their behavior "disturbing." Blow notes the fact that some observers have even compared Candidate Trump to Hitler! Soon after that, Blow is saying this about those Trump supporters:
BLOW: You see, part of the problem here is that some people believe, improbably, that virtue can be cloaked in vice, that what he says and what he means are fundamentally different, that the former is acting as a Trojan horse for the latter. One of Trump’s greatest pros is that he has convinced his supporters, all evidence to the contrary, that they are not being conned.
Those stupid Trump supporters! They're able to believe X, Y or Z despite "all evidence to the contrary!"

Actually, many of those people stand convinced, not entirely without reason, that they are actually "being conned" by unbalanced players like Blow. The things Blow says about Trump in that passage they say about Candidate Clinton.

Blow makes no attempt to address these widespread impressions. Instead, his insults roll on.

How dumb are Those People, the Trump supporters? At this point, Blow's insults really start picking up steam:
BLOW: Some folks want to be told that we could feasibly and logistically deport millions of people and ban more than a billion, build more walls and drop more bombs, have ever-falling tax rates and ever-surging prosperity. They want to be told that the only thing standing between where we are and where we are told we could be is a facility at crafting deals and a penchant for cracking down.

This streamlined message appeals to that bit of the population that is frustrated by the problems we face and quickly tires of higher-level cerebral function. For this group of folks, Trump needn’t be detailed, just different. He doesn’t need established principles, as long as he attacks the establishment.

This part of America isn’t being artfully deceived, it is being willfully blind.
Poor Blow! He is so incredibly bright—but he's opposed by a gang which "quickly tires of higher-level cerebral function," of the type he likes to provide!

In fairness to Blow, it isn't just that Those People, the ones Over There, are higher-level cerebrally challenged. They're also being "willfully blind," Blow tells us at this point.

He fails to note that Sanders supporters have also been accused of swallowing claims that can't "feasibly and logistically" come to fruition. Would it be reasonable to aim these sweeping insults at them? Blow doesn't try to explain.

As he ends his column, Blow completes his portrait of Those People, The Others. Below, you see him complete the oldest known human story. This story's been told since prehuman times and in the century recently past:
BLOW: Supporting Trump is a Hail Mary pass of a hail-the-demagogue assemblage. Trump’s triumph as the presumptive Republican Party nominee is not necessarily a sign of his strategic genius as much as it’s a sign of some people’s mental, psychological and spiritual deficiencies.

It’s hard to use the truth as an instrument of enlightenment on people who prefer to luxuriate in a lie.
Support for Trump is "a sign of some people’s mental, psychological and spiritual deficiencies!" Hitler, the fellow Blow cited, once told that very same tale!

Blow comes very close today to saying Those People are vermin. That said, the most gullible people have always believed that old tale.

Through telling this tale, they announce their own (pre)human deficiencies. We all have such deficiencies, of course, to greater or lesser degree. But all through the course of human history, creatures like Blow have only been able to spot such deficiencies Over There, within the vermin-filled tents of Those People, The Other Tribe.

Chait, Marcotte, O'Hehir, Blow, with Traub denouncing "the rabble?" In truth, our own tremendously self-impressed tribe is remarkably unimpressive.

Predictions of victory to the side, tribes like ours commonly find ways to lose. We've done it before, and we'll do it again.

Ruminations on this point all this week.

Tomorrow: The one percent prediction


  1. This is a very serious issue, and one that poses great difficulties for a democracy. Blow's criticisms of Trump are certainly true, and it's not unfair to feel critical of his supporters on that basis. But, as Bob suggests, the problem isn't unique to Trump; rather, it extends to humanity as a whole - we simply don't often use reason as much as we think we do, and instead rely on emotion and tribalism more often than we'd like to admit.
    That's a big problem, because in a democracy we need a populace that's informed and able to process issues in a productive way. I think that's Bob's point in this blog - the media simply don't do a good job keeping us informed. In fact, the media frequently act as a conduit for messages that appeal to our emotions rather than our reason, making it that much harder to govern ourselves effectively.
    I don't know how to counteract this, because to do so means counteracting human nature.

    1. "he's convinced, as prehumans always were, that his tribe is fully human—moral, deserving, honest and smart—and that The Others don't rise to the human level."

      What do you think Bob suggests in this description of someone?

    2. Some ways to change it:

      1. Hire more experienced, better trained journalists, supervised by competent editors.
      2. Reconceptualize the role of media as informative instead of entertainment.
      3. Reinvest in investigative journalism.
      4. Stop focusing on the horse race aspect of elections and refocus on the proposals of the candidates, their background and experience.
      5. Stop reporting bloopers, gaffes and colorful sound bites.
      6. Redraw the boundary between what is personal and private in a candidate or official's life and what the public needs to know.
      7. Go back to standards of journalism such as two sources for every story, not sourcing content to yourself or to gossip or unsubstantiated attack. Stop accepting leaks that further ulterior motives, where the leaker won't go on the record. Etc.
      8. Make journalists accountable for their jobs to the public editor.

      I think these changes would be a good start.

    3. I meant this comment to refer to skeptonomist @11:53 and Johnny but it wound up here. Sorry.

  2. I look forward to ruminations. We had enough sifting in the series last week to last a whole month's worth of slender posts featuring overworked vocabulary.

  3. These predictions by the savants of Team Liberal are terrible unless "you think it would be OK to have a President Walker". The persistent bungling of our intellectual giants coupled with their agreement not to tell forbidden stories may be why "we now have a very good chance of electing a President Rubio next year."

  4. Somerby makes some valid points, but I have yet to see him make any constructive suggestions about how to counter what is obviously racist and generally tribal and irrational behavior on the part of Republican voters. Somerby seems to think that liberal media should be impeccably fair and rational, but if there is one thing that the Trump campaign has demonstrated (again) it is that rationality frequently doesn't work and that facts are often ignored.

    1. "I'm not prejudiced, I'm right!"

    2. skeptonomist - I also find Bob's Socratic style of pointing out flaws instead of suggesting solutions to be frustrating at times. What I take away, however, is that the media need to find a way to do their job better, to communicate the relevant facts more effectively to the populace. As it is now, there's a large array of issues that aren't ever covered in any real sense, and when issues are covered the press fails to do so accurately. Again, I don't know how to change that, and contrary to Bob I don't think that there was any time in history where "gatekeepers" did an effective job of managing our discourse.

    3. Exposing the flaws is the solution. The public should understand the ideological bent of the liars who claim to report facts, and should believe very little of what they view and read from that dishonest, discredited industry.

      This end is best accomplished by exposing the flaws.

  5. Poor Blow. Blow and his rag are irrelevant. The Times was exposed by Trump's ex girlfriend for lying in every word of their front page story about "women." Trump will win the election because these words have no meaning or credibility but it's all the dumb prog sheep have in the way of thought.

    Safe space
    Wrong side of history

    1. So the Times was lying when it said there was a Trump employee named Barbara Res?

      Well, since Trump himself made up a couple of employees named Miller and Barron, who can blame the Times for following in our dear der Donald's footsteps?

      I'm hoping Somerby weighs in on all of this soon.

      These are major stories from major media and all Bob has ever made up were Analysts who talk to actors in character.

  6. There is no better critic of crayons in the fifth grade box we call home than our Mr. Bob!

    1. With our gatekeepers gone, Somerby can do and think whatever he likes.

      Also, he may like to color! Or so one analyst said.

  7. Shorter Bob: Blow does.

  8. So Charles Blow has been compared to Hitler by Bob Somerby? That's nothing. Donald Trump has been compared to P.T. Barnum, who Bob Somerby's grandpappy Rufus Somerby loyally served.

    In fact, I think Charles Blow is the one who compared Trump to Grandad Somerby's mentor, Barnum. In the same sentence he compared him to Hitler.

    Wonder if that is what got Somerby so hot his Crayola's melted in his trousers?

    1. "So Charles Blow has been compared to Hitler by Bob Somerby?" Methinks you have a deficiency in your reading comprehension.

    2. PREDICTIONS AND DENIGRATIONS: Charles Blow has been compared to Hitler!

      Support for Trump is "a sign of some people’s mental, psychological and spiritual deficiencies!" Hitler, the fellow Blow cited, once told that very same tale!

      Blow comes very close today to saying Those People are vermin.

  9. As a Trump supporter, I wholeheartedly support the NY Times publishing as many Charles Blow columns as possible. The man is a hilarious sendup of a typical self righteous but cluelsss center-left pundit, right down to his smug visage.

    1. Blow might have the lowest IQ of all Times liars, and that's saying something.

  10. "Charles Blow has never been the sharpest crayon in the box of 64."

    So we have old conservative white guy Bob, who couldn't get a job as a janitor at the New York Times, denigrating an African American. Nice. Bob's really exposing himself as the racist that his is.

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