Lustily, the analysts cheered!


At Slate, Peters gets it right:
Lusty cheering by the analysts woke us early this morning.

The youngsters had read the start of this piece by Justin Peters at Slate. Soon, we were lustily cheering too. Peters had introduced an important framework, one which is rarely employed:

"These are remarkably stupid times."

These are remarkably stupid times! Peters was working from an important framework, one which is rarely employed.

Are these remarkably stupid times? Let's take a look at the trigger for Peters' accurate statement:
PETERS (10/16/17): These are remarkably stupid times. For a glimpse of why, consider the daily patter of Fox & Friends—or, rather, consider that I am even asking you to consider Fox & Friends. The show is by now known for being terrible television, something that is neither entertaining nor informative...
Long ago and quite far away, we described Fox & Friends as the dumbest show in the history of TV "news." We're going all the way back to the day when E. D. Hill was the blonde woman on the couch between the two dull-witted boys.

The program is still that stupid today—stupid, and influential.

It's true! We do live in remarkably stupid times, and Fox & Friends is dumbfoundingly stupid. But it's also true that The Stupid is found all over the modern press. For ourselves, we're struck by The Stupid every day when we read the New York Times.

The sheer stupidity of this era is its most striking feature. That said, when we liberals spot and discuss The Stupid at all, we tend to spot and discuss it Over There, among Those People, and pretty much nowhere else.

In the last two mornings, we've spotted The Stupid all over our own tribe's pitiful work, but especially in the New York Times, where The Stupid starts on the reimagined page A3 and then spreads out from there. Our culture is dying from The Stupid, and it isn't all located Over There, within the other tribe's tents.

Sorry. That's not even close.

Our tribe is soaked in The Stupid too. In the next few days, we'll offer examples.

That said, a modern nation can't run on The Stupid. At what point will we liberals be willing to scope our dying culture and admit that this statement is true?

Justin Peters got it right. These are remarkably stupid times. Our tribe's a big part of the problem.


  1. "As of Sept. 26, the show—already top rated among cable news morning shows"

    Fox News has won the popular vote so everyone should have to watch it. What, democracy doesn't work that way you say, sometimes most of the people are wrong.

    Apparently George Lucas was prescient, there is a crying need for protocol droids to tell people the right thing to say and do. Then we only have to worry about our droids getting hacked.

  2. "These are remarkably stupid times. Our tribe's a big part of the problem. "
    No more than 50% of the problem; maybe less than that. It would be interesting to see a comprehensive study of the entire media and political landscape and 'how we got here'. Fox and Friends looms larger than one would think. Disturbingly so.

  3. I don't disagree with Bob's conclusions - that we're living in stupid times, and that it's difficult to run a democratic nation in that manner. My only question is why he thinks that things were ever any better/different. The Viet Nam War was escalated by LBJ, who knew that it was an awful idea that couldn't turn out well but felt compelled to escalate because of the political fallout for doing otherwise. The Spanish-American War was ginned-up by Hearst. And those are just off the top of my head.

    The point isn't that people can't govern themselves. Rather, maybe we muddle through despite our stupidity.

    1. "Our tribe is soaked in The Stupid too. In the next few days, we'll offer examples."

      Thanks for the heads up.

  4. Somerby says: "That said, a modern nation can't run on The Stupid."

    By definition, most people have average intelligence. What Somerby calls "The Stupid" is where the majority of people live. There are better shows but people don't watch them because they are not geared toward their level of understanding (not dumbed down enough, not entertaining, not interesting, not relevant to their lives).

    The right and left have the same amounts of Stupid. The right gears its political shows to the average level of understanding. Apparently the left does not, but Somerby thinks we should be aiming our shows at less Stupid, not more Stupid. He thinks that if the shows are smarter, people will magically become smarter too. I think that is demonstrably wrong -- people will ignore the smarter shows because they won't find them engrossing.

    We are not a Stupid people and we are not a Stupid nation. We are mostly average with some in the tails, bell-curve smart. We should be letting the people in the tails run the country while the rest of us watch reality TV. Instead we are letting reality TV run the country while the people in the tails carp from the fringes. I haven't decided yet whether that is a feature or a bug of democracy.

    But Somerby isn't going to make anyone smarter by calling our side Stupid. Calling people names doesn't change anything. Presenting us with examples of our own foolishness doesn't change anything either.

    If he really wants to help, he write a few non-Stupid columns each week and help educate those willing to read them. Instead he just makes everyone feel bad and works as hard as possible to keep Trump on top. That strikes me as self-defeating, but we don't really know what his goals are, do we? Perhaps he thinks that if he helps tear down our country, Bernie will step in and fix everything. Susan Sarandon thinks that, so why not Somerby? He is, after all, no smarter than anyone else on the left and he has told us repeatedly how dumb we all are.

    1. Anon 1:10pm: I very much agree with you. Somerby frequently veers from a (mostly) reasoned critique of the media to endless ad hominem rants about liberals. The readers of this blog (well the liberal ones anyway) aren't mindless bots tuning in every day to 'dearest Rachel', but they are treated that way by Somerby. I'm also unclear about his goals: media criticism? Well, mostly criticism of the liberal media (at least what Somerby perceives to be liberal);
      Criticism of liberals, of liberalism? He does that too. But if he wants to improve liberals or liberalism, saying "we need better media people" is fine, but then ending nearly every post with "liberals are stupid/failures" does indeed make people feel bad, and more importantly, it doesn't further the goal of improvement. It's quite possibly destructive of that goal.
      I always wanted to use this analogy: A football coach (coach Somerby) loves his team and wants them to win. His pep talk is: "you are all failures; you are stupid; now get out there and win the game. "

    2. So you're saying Rachel just needs a good pep talk? To many she's the face of liberalism in the media. To use a sports analogy, I'd say fire her, just like you'd fire an unsuccessful coach after too many lost games (elections).

    3. "So you're saying Rachel just needs a good pep talk?"
      How in the world can you misread so badly? If Somerby wants to roast her on a spit, fine. But he doesn't leave it at that. He constantly criticizes ALL liberals; that's clear from his blog entries. He calls all of us stupid. If he cares about liberals or liberal causes, that's not a valid approach. Apparently, you think Maddow is terrible, and so does Bob. How in the world does that translate to "all liberals are stupid?" And by the way, you turned my comment into a comment about Rachel Maddow. I used her name only as an illustration, and could have been any name. Apparently, you and Bob have an unhealthy obsession with her.

    4. Ok, so here's that pep talk you and the Rachel character supposedly need. I say we need better representatives in the media presenting a liberal perspective.

    5. I didn't say I "needed a pep talk", idiot. And, let me say this a second time, since you apparently have problems with reasoning skills or your reading comprehension, my comment had NOTHING to do with Maddow.
      I'm not going to engage with such monumental idiocy. Your willful mischaracterization of what I am saying is such a transparent tactic. Why come here just to engage in a dishonest exchange? And don't bother posting links. Fuck off.

    6. You say Susan Sarandon thinks that if she "helps tear down our country, Bernie will step in and fix everything."

      Whatever your opinions of Sarandon, "Bernie" or Somerby, you quite clearly do not know what any of them think. This particular characterization of Sarandon's opinion reveals nothing about her, but quite a bit about you.

      At first seeming to be just another entry in the Somerby-should-stop-doing-what-he's-doing-and-do-what-I-say-instead genre of idiot commentary, this is a actually a true classic in that tired mode, wherein the should-do is remarkably ill-defined ("write a few good columns each week") and indistinguishable from what Somerby actually does. Bravo!

    7. From The Atlantic, March 2016:

      Chris Hayes interviews Susan Sarandon:

      “Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately,” she replied.

      Hayes accused her of adopting “the Leninist model of ‘heighten the contradictions,’” and she happily agreed. Isn’t that dangerous, he wondered?

      “If you think it’s pragmatic to shore up the status quo right now, then you’re not in touch with the status quo,” she said.

    8. Nona Nym, thank you so much for your insightful and articulate post above. The sheer accumulation of commenters here who claim to hate what Bob does (and so often unwittingly prove his points, like the insufferable human being that, like a dysfunctional child, can't seem to prevent herself from calling him an ass, over and over again) and perpetually threaten to go away, yet somehow never quite do that, can be bewildering and depressing in the extreme, so your wonderful and articulate post was a real and quite pleasant surprise.

  5. I think the problem is the failure of our elites. As AnonymousOctober 17, 2017 at 1:10 PM says, most people are average. But, we expect the good-looking, well-spoken people we see on Fox & Friends to be smarter. We expect "briny" Rachel Maddow to be much smarter. We certainly expect the New York Times to be much smarter. But, the problem is that these elite sources let us down.

    1. David, here's a smartness test.

      What was the Confederate cause?
      A. Treason in support of slavery.
      B. Legitimate defense of state's rights.
      C. Other (please specify).

    2. David said: "But, the problem is that these elite sources let us down."
      Well, it's easy to blame the "elites" or the "liberals" or "conservatives" or "immigrants"....anyone but ourselves. It makes a person feel better about themselves to think they aren't at fault. But it's such a facile criticism. It reminds me of the time I was standing in line to vote. The lady standing in front of me said "These stupid politicians -they're all so corrupt, right?" And I said "well you're going to vote for one; why not become one yourself and see if you can do better?" I got no answer.

    3. "I think the problem is the failure of our elites."

      You are probably referring to these elites, who seem to be cleaning up instead of failing even without the help Trump & GOP Congress:

      "As President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress intensify their push for massive corporate tax cuts that critics have said would encourage businesses to offshore profits and jobs, a new report published Tuesday by U.S. PIRG and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that 73 percent of companies on the Fortune 500 list are already taking advantage of overseas tax havens—costing the United States $752 billion in federal tax revenue last year alone.

      The new study discovered that, in total, America's most profitable corporations in 2016 had $2.6 trillion stashed overseas in over 9,000 subsidiaries in various locations, including notorious tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

      Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, cautioned in a statement on Tuesday that the Trump-GOP tax proposals would, if passed, make this bad situation even worse.

      'Lawmakers shouldn't be discussing how to sweeten the pot and give corporations a huge tax break that amounts to a huge financial reward for engaging in bad corporate behavior.'
      —Richard Phillips, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy".

      Your Gordon-Gekko elites just can't help themselves. Conservatism is simply moral justification for greed.

    4. Aaron Hamilton -- you have made the case for reducing the US corporate income tax. The overseas tax is huge because so much of the work is done overseas where the corporate tax rate is lower. If the US reduces its tax rate, a lot of that work will be done here. That will produce higher prosperity, lower unemployment, and higher US wage levels.

    5. David in Cal,
      Not a bad idea, but let's get something in return. How about the "Corporate Death Penalty"? It's to a bad trade-off with the corporate tax giveaway you suggest.
      No more "paying the largest fine in the history of the SEC" bull crap. When a corporation breaks the law, the government shuts them down, sells off their assets, and prioritizes making their corporate debtors whole.
      These deals where the government gives the elites what they want for nothing in return need to stop.

    6. Taxes are accessed on profits not labor. Much of the overseas profits of these multinational America-based corporations are the result of transfer pricing between subsidiaries. Changing the corporate tax rate will change the transfer pricing and thus which countries report higher profits, but not where the labor gets performed.

    7. AnonymousOctober 17, 2017 at 9:19 PM - You say much of the overseas profit of American multinationals reflects work actually done in the US. Do you know how much, as a percentage? I suspect it's only a relatively small portion.

      BTW there are also companies that ought to be here in the US, but which are located abroad. I consulted for one in Bermuda, Renaissance Re. It was founded by an American. Most of top executives are American. But, it's based in Bermuda because their corporate income tax rate is zero, ours is 35%.

    8. IBM makes international profits via the fluctuating exchange rates for the US dollar, not by making things cheaply in other countries.

    9. But, it's based in Bermuda because their corporate income tax rate is zero, ours is 35%.

      Well, ain't that some shit.

      So, what incentive would they have to move to their own fucking country if the rate were reduced to 20%? Explain that, dumbfuck.

      The only reason Bermuda can have a corporate tax rate of 0% is because they are completely backed by the UK.

      The island relies on the UK for protection but has been judged the world's worst tax haven

      So next time there's a hurricane in Bermuda and your American traitor in Bermuda needs some help from the US, tell him to eat his fucking money.

    10. David in Cal simply providing more justification for greed. Color me not surprised.

    11. Great. Those corporations can ask Bermuda and Singapore to use their military might to protect their corporate assets and profits.
      Can't wait to see how that works out for them.
      Also, the money we save not going to war for their protection will more than outweigh any taxes they hide from our coffers.

  6. Replies
    1. How can you reconcile B with A? For B, what was the grievance that justified resort to arms? For C, please specify.

    2. Caesar -- My answer was meant to be a bit of a joke. I can reconcile A and B by looking at different POVs. From Lincoln's POV, A is right. B is the South's answer. From the Confederate POV, B is the answer. I might re-word B to say that the South rejected the idea that the USA was like a roach motel ("Roaches check in, but they don't check out.")

      Caesar, I presume your question asks me to say which of these two POV's is correct. I am not a Civil War scholar. I can't answer which is correct in some absolute sense. In a practical sense, Lincoln's view proved to be correct, because the North won the War.

    3. Treason is clearly defined in the Constitution. The South committed treason by that definition. I would also say that, had the South won, that wouldn't have made slavery a good thing.

    4. When can a party leave an organization to which it belongs? The EU has specific written terms by which a country can exit. I understand that the Spanish Constitution prohibits Catalonia from unilaterally seceding. Evidently UNESCO permits member countries to leave, since the USA just did so.

      However, AFAIK the US Constitution doesn't specify whether a state can choose to leave the USA after it chooses to join. However, the South's secession wasn't settled based on legalities.

      BTW a book I read about the South's attack on Fort Sumter made an interesting point. Several months elapsed after the South seceded and the North did nothing. Warfare only began when the South fired on Fort Sumter. I wonder what would have happened if the South had not done that. The longer the Confederacy existed as a separate country, the more permanent they might have seemed to all involved.

    5. A nation isn't an organization to which a state belongs. Did you never take a history or a civics course?

      The North didn't do nothing after the South seceded. It worked back channel to try to get the South to return and it tried very hard not to provoke any conflict that might make the secession irrevocable. The South forced the North's hand by firing on Ft. Sumter. Even then, the North entered into hostilities reluctantly. The South would not have remained a separate country because it was not financially viable. Also, the North worked diplomatically to prevent other nations from acknowledging and establishing independent trade with the South. The Northern blockade would have starved the South into return because the South could not support itself. That is the reason why some of the colonies joined the Union to begin with (esp Texas).

    6. Battle Cry of Freedom
      James M. McPherson

      Chapter 8 The Counterrevolution of 1861

      p. 271 ...Lincoln would notify Governor Pickens in advance of the government's peaceful intention to send in provisions only. If Confederates opened fire on the unarmed boats carrying "food for hungry men," the South would stand convicted of an aggressive act. On its shoulders would rest the blame for starting a war. This would unite the North and, perhaps, keep the South divided. If southerners allowed the supplies to go through, peace and the status quo at Sumter could be preserved and the Union government would have won an important symbolic victory. Lincoln's new conception of the resupply undertaking was a stroke of genius. In effect he was telling Jefferson Davis, "Heads I win, Tails you lose." It was the first sign of the mastery that would mark Lincoln's presidency.^78

      fn. 78. Contemporaries and historians have long debated Lincoln's motives and purposes in this Sumter resupply plan. Three main positions emerged in the debate: 1) Lincoln knew that he could save his administration and party only by war, so he deliberately manipulated the Confederacy into firing the first shot so that he could have his war at maximum political advantage. The two principal historians who advanced this interpretation, both of them southerners, were Charles Ramsdell... and J. S. Tilly. 2) Lincoln wanted to preserve the status quo to give the policy of voluntary reconstruction a new lease on life, but he feared that giving up Sumter would discredit the government and bolster the Confederacy in the eyes of the world. Hoping to preserve peace but willing to risk war, he devised the resupply scheme in such a way as to give Confederates the choice of peace or war. This interpretation has been advanced mainly by James G. Randall... and David M. Potter... 3) Lincoln would have been happy to preserve the peace but probably expected the Confederates to open fire; either way he won. Numerous historians have offered this interpretation; it is most prominently identified with Kenneth M. Stampp.... The differences between interpretations 2 and 3 are subtle, and hinge on efforts to read Lincoln's mind to guess what he wanted or expected the Confederates to do. Although he never said explicitly what he expected them to do, Lincoln had become rather disillusioned with the prospects for voluntary reconstruction and he had plenty of reason to believe that the Confederates would open fire on a peaceful resupply effort. Therefore interpretation 3 seems most plausible.

    7. That's very interesting, CMike. Do you have a comparable discussion of the Confederacy's motives in attacking Fort Sumter? I'm afraid my knowledge comes from reading and watching the movie of GWTW. According to that source, the South really believed they could win a war, and win it pretty easily.

    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    9. I’ve read that South Carolina militia attacked Ft Sumter to push wavering border states into joining the confederacy

    10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    11. Having adopted the absurd states rights argument,* Jefferson Davis was bound by an inexorable legal logic. In his apologia, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881), Davis made the case that the federal government had no right to a military installation in a seceded state.

      Lincoln was elected in November of 1860, South Carolina seceded in December and with the next six states to secede formed the Confederate States of America in February, 1861 installing Davis as their president, Lincoln is inaugurated in March, Sumter is fired upon in April.

      Davis had sent commissioners to Washington to negotiate Sumter's surrender and had received mixed signals from people in the Buchanan and Lincoln administration but not from Lincoln, himself. Meanwhile the Confederate States' president had orders in place in Charleston that no resupply of Sumter would be allowed. Here's Davis in his 1881 history:

      [QUOTE] Mr. Buchanan, the last President of the old school, would as soon have thought of aiding in the establishment of a monarchy among us as of accepting the doctrine of coercing the States into submission to the will of a majority, in mass, of the people of the United States.

      When discussing the question of withdrawing the troops from the port of Charleston, he yielded a ready assent to the proposition that the cession of a site for a fort, for purposes of public defense, lapses, whenever that fort should be employed by the grantee against the State by which the cession was made, on the familiar principle that any grant for a specific purpose expires when it ceases to be used for that purpose.

      Whether on this or any other ground, if the garrison of Fort Sumter had been withdrawn in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution of the United States, from which the power to apply coercion to a State was deliberately and designedly excluded, and if this had been distinctly assigned as a reason for its withdrawal, the honor of the United States Government would have been maintained intact, and nothing could have operated more powerfully to quiet the apprehensions and allay the resentment of the people of South Carolina.
      [END QUOTE]

      * There was no right for a state to leave the Union after ratifying the Constitution, or joining the Union later. If there were such a right it would have been explicit in the Constitution and the greatest selling point for the original states to ratify it. The argument would have been, ratify the Constitution, try life in the Union, if you don't like it leave. There's no such argument in the Federalist Papers or in any of the other literature advocating for ratification.

  7. Dumb like a, like a... I forget. Anyway here's one of those >>FOX<< hosts from that dumbest of shows, the blonde who ended up with an estimated extra $20 million on her way out of the door LINK.

  8. Off topic. A few days ago, some commenter said that the person who prepared the strange Trump dossier had a good reputation for accuracy. According to the linked report, based on testimony from several people, some under oath, the Trump dossier firm, Fusion GPS, had no integrity at all. They used grossly false smear tactics.

    The self-described “strategic intelligence” firm Fusion GPS that was behind the controversial anti-Trump dossier has a track record of intimidation and smear tactics, according to congressional testimony and the firsthand account of a London-based Venezuelan journalist who said he was labeled a “pedophile,” “extortionist” and “drug trafficker” after criticizing one of Fusion’s clients.

    “I believe that Fusion GPS’s business is to do basically whatever the paymasters tell them to do,” Alek Boyd, the Venezuelan journalist, told Fox News in his first American TV interview. “They are particularly good at spreading misinformation, disinformation and smears.”

    Boyd says he was targeted after his 2012 reporting on Derwick Associates, a power company with close ties to the Venezuelan government. The company allegedly skimmed nearly a billion dollars from rigged contracts with the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

    “It is my understanding that [Fusion GPS] were hired basically to smear Derwick opponents and to dispel any possible doubts that regular media may have had at the time,” he said.

    1. Fox News, the propaganda arm of the GOP.

      Fuck off, asshole.

  9. "Because of death!! Because all you
    of earth are idiots!!" -Eros the Alien

    Well, you don't want to be on the opposite side of this
    proposition in debate club. MSNBC beating to death the
    fact that the SOS became rattled enough by President
    Idiot that he blurted out the truth. Well, O.K., isn't that
    pretty much understandable? Can we move on?

    The problem is that Bob, unlike President Idiot, can't even
    bring himself to WATCH Fox News anymore, he can only
    fixiate on his problems with the others side. He has no
    examples on THEM, even as they exert this horrible influence.

    And that makes his work as an analyst highly limited.

  10. I’m truly shocked (not) that stupidity dominates the programming of billionaire run mass-media cartels who wish to promote plutocratic rule over an ignorant sheep-like citizenry. Let’s throw in the promotion and encouragement of attitudes of greed, fear, violence, militarism, misathophy, callousness, nihilism, passivity, and infantilization. These are the things that clear the path for plutocracy. We can expect nothing else from billionaire owned media and entertainment. Democracy is doomed if we refuse to realize this and know that plutocracy must be destroyed before it destroys us.

  11. "These are remarkably stupid times. Our tribe's a big part of the problem."

    Sure, Bob. Liberal elites are intellectually bankrupt and unbelievably corrupt. Ordinary liberals are mindless zombies.

    But we already established all that. It's nothing new, you keep repeating yourself. Give me something new to comment on, Bob.

    1. Telling that the word "stupid" attracts you enough to compel you to comment even though you have nothing to say.

  12. Today, Kevin Drum, with his ongoing dimness about women's issues, tries to put some psychological distance between himself and the problem of sexual harassment by saying that it is mainly happening in politics, the media and finance. It is a problem over there, not here where I live, he speculates.

    Men need to take responsibility for this in ALL areas of life, not just in certain highly visible workplaces. As others have noted, priests have attacked women. This isn't just about Weinstein and those guys over there. It is about what all men think and believe and do every day in their interactions with women.

    Kevin wants to let himself off the hook. He works out of his house in Irvine, but he can stop making clueless statements about women's issues in his daily columns. Today he gives cover to the many guys who want to say "I'm not a Hollywood mogul so this doesn't concern me."

    1. Are you saying all men are guilty?

    2. Priests also molest girls. Girls molest girls.

  13. Many media outlets are treating this Weinstein scandal as if it were only about sex. It is also about power and job opportunities. It is about female participation in life.

    Here is an excellent discussion of the kind of change that needs to happen:

    When women are reduced to sex objects, they are less likely to be taken seriously as contributors in whatever field they are working. THAT is the point of sexual harassment, not sex.

    1. It's pretty obvious by now that this is about business. Getting people out of the way.