This is what slippery language looks like!


That said, we don't know the truth:
If you've never grabbed a person's keister, it isn't real hard to say that.

If you've never cupped a woman's breast, it's easy to say that too.

We don't know what actually happened, or didn't happen, in the now-famous cases involving Al Franken. We do know slippery language when we see it—for instance, when we see this:
FRANKEN (12/7/17): Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others, I remember very differently. I said at the outset that the ethics committee was the right venue for these allegations to be heard and investigated and evaluated on their merits, that I was prepared to cooperate fully and that I was confident in the outcome.
Uh-oh! The highlighted statement leaves open a third possibility:

"Some of the allegations against me are in fact perfectly true."

Some people may have missed the fact that Franken left open that third possibility. But as he continued, so did the slippery language. To watch the full statement, click this:
FRANKEN (continuing directly): You know an important part of the conversation we've been having the last few months has been about how men abuse their power and privilege to hurt women. I am proud that during my time in the Senate I have used my power to be a champion of women. And that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside everyday. I know there's been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am.
Uh-oh! "I know who I really am" doesn't speak to the question of what you might really have done in the instances being alleged.

Finally, this:
FRANKEN (continuing directly): Serving in the United States Senate has been the great honor of my life. I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator—nothing—has brought dishonor on this institution, and I am confident that the ethics committee would agree.

Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.
He knows in his heart that nothing he has done as a senator has brought dishonor on the institution? We're prepared to assume that's true. But uh-oh! [All but two of t]he allegations concern alleged conduct when he wasn't a senator. Meanwhile, did any of the alleged incidents involve conduct "as" a senator?

We don't know what Franken did or didn't do. We're appalled by Senator Gillibrand's transparent conduct a great deal more. We think the insistence that he quickly resign was just the latest stampede among a set of elites who truly seem to know no other mode of conduct.

Having said that, let us also say this. We think the country can survive many types of misconduct more easily than it can survive the constant, unending, slippery language which is directed at regular people by our big major potent thought leaders.

We've always thought Franken was very smart. Smart people know how to evade—how to treat regular people like a ship of fools.

We don't know what actually happened in the cases under review. We actually do know how to read English. As Senator Ervin once observed, it's our mother tongue.


  1. Forget Franken. Franken's gone, and that's the end of Franken.

    And Franken was a bore anyway, the good one was Congressman Weiner, out favorite (notice how I'm talking like Bob now, using the royal 'we').

    What we want now is someone new to condemn.

    Who's the next sinner?


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  2. "Smart people know how to evade—how to treat regular people like a ship of fools."

    So smart people aren't regular people? Or regular people aren't smart? That's a double insult. It's also a ridiculous stereotype.

    There are people who are evasive and know how to evade, and there are people who aren't and don't. It's a question of scruples, not intelligence.

    This statement from Somerby sounds like the random brainwave of a self-impressed high school student. It's completely gratuitous and uncalled for. And not really germane to the topic.

    Maybe there's a corollary: Dumb people just lie and deny even knowing the women. See? Not slippery at all.

    Is Somerby upset that smart person Al Franken is being slippery and treating (some unspecified group of regular people) like fools? But he's (more ?) upset at the moralistic stampede, and thus urges us to not be too judgmental of poor Al? Is Al too "smart" to garner much sympathy, as opposed to Roy Moore, the big man on campus?

    Apparently Somerby didn't learn reasoning skills as a philosophy student at that smart peepul's kollij.

  3. Warning! Warning! Another liberal celebrity insults Trump, potentially angering The Others.

    "Jennifer Lawrence Would Like to Throw a Martini at President Donald Trump's Face"

    When will we liberals learn to shut up? I expect a full-throated takedown of Ms. Lawrence in the next Howler.

  4. Hmm...wonder what next week's Howler will be about?

    "Tomorrow, 9pm Eastern time: TRMS: The Dossier"

    Prediction: it will be a clowning clown clowning about trivial matters. We will be told to focus on the clown, because the whole Russia thing is just so ho-hum, pathetic liberals trying to get the others arrested cause they can't win. Yay!Yay!Yay!Yay!

  5. I've never heard such perversity as what's been going on tonight with these TV pundits and politicians who are trying to claim that removing Franken from office was a grand act of Democrats finally taking "the moral high ground."

    What kind of hollow achievement is it if the guy turns out to be innocent? Exactly what was achieved here?

    Imagine actually boasting about making Franken a sacrificial lamb as part of some convoluted effort at self-purity. Which isn't going to work anyway.

  6. From a previous post:
    "Lawrence is upset by what Moore is alleged to have done. Allegations against Dear Jack don't exist on his morally uplifting program"

    Tonight, Lawrence discussed Al Franken, Bob Packwood, and Ted Kennedy. Lawrence was quite candid about Kennedy. O'Donnell witnessed a nasty confrontation between Kennedy and Packwood, in which Kennedy told Packwood how much he [Kennedy] looked forward to voting to expel Packwood for his sexual assault problems. Packwood was apparently a thorn in Kennedy's side over some bill or other. O'Donnell opined that Packwood must have felt a fundamental unfairness in that, given Kennedy's Chappaquiddick history (which O'Donnell discussed in some detail). O'Donnell said that he loved Kennedy, but acknowledged Kennedy would not have survived an ethics inquiry, had the Senate ethics committee existed in 1969. O'Donnell's point was about the unfairness of politics. He was troubled about the situation with Franken, and was unsure about the way forward.

    I thought Lawrence's presentation was quite good. In many ways, I found it superior to Somerby's discussion of this issue.

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  10. Think you are being too harsh. Franken may be weaseling but he was not testifying - he was sending a message to his grandstanding colleagues (and the Republicans) that there really isn't all that much there and there isn't anything during his Senate term. Everyone knew he would do the right thing, because that's who he is. But hey, it ain't easy to be hung for a couple of years of seemingly borderline indiscretions in a 45-year public life by the likes of Schumer and Gillibrand, the very antitheses of moral paragons themselves, especially when you know some, or even most, of the accusers are politically motivated and/or exaggerating.

    1. How would you know what those "borderline indiscretions" felt like to the women experiencing them?

      How would you like to be unexpectedly groped whenever some creep decides he feels horny?

      There you are, standing in line at the ATM or hanging onto a strap in the subway, trying to wake up on your way to work, or planning what you'll cook for dinner, and some jerk cops a feel and leers into your startled face.

      No big deal to you, but it is to the women who are touched.

      If Franken didn't do anything, he should say so in no uncertain terms. If he did occasionally kiss or touch a woman who wasn't in a romantic relationship with him, that is a big deal and it shouldn't have happened, whether he was a senator or not.

      This matters to the people it happens to. Men don't get it because it doesn't happen to them.

    2. Franken never groped anyone because he felt borderline horny. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

      That's the whole point. And every woman I know thinks these complaints are -- at the very most -- completely overblown, and that any woman who gets seriously upset at such behavior to the degree that we're hearing (if true) has some pretty serious psychological problems. Which, negates their claims.

      Such discussion though is never allowed. Not once have any of the MSNBC scolds allowed mention of the simple possibility that perhaps some or many of these allegations have been EXAGGERATED.

    3. "There you are, standing in line at the ATM or hanging onto a strap in the subway, trying to wake up on your way to work, or planning what you'll cook for dinner, and some jerk cops a feel and leers into your startled face."

      How often does that happen? Rarely at best.

      And this is nowhere near to what Franken has been accused of.

      Get a grip, people.

    4. Not as rarely as you’d hope. Every woman has experienced this. That’s a lot of guys misbehaving. The problem isn’t just the grope but the assumption behind it, thatit is ok to do this, that touching is permitted, that the woman doesn’t mind (exptessed above), that women’s bodies belong to men, even strangers in public places. That must stop. It won’t if there are no consequences.

      I like Al Franken but he has not denied doing this and it is too easy to imagine it is true, given his responses.

  11. I think Franken was dividing the allegations against him into two categories: those that were untrue; and those that he remembered quite differently. I am not sure that he was leaving anything open, but he might not have shown full mathematical diligence by constructing a Venn diagram.
    The one or two accusations that I briefly read about did seem to fall into the two categories. Mostly, he was just clowning around. For instance, the photo of him pretend-groping a woman through her flak jacket, as he was mugging for the camera, was clearly not sexual harassment; just maybe a joke gone bad.