BREAKING: Avenatti lays down with golden calf!


Dumbnification complete:
For perhaps the past dozen years, we've been writing about the dumbnification of our own liberal world.

Understandably, some liberals don't like this. On any given day, they've read three million sound-alike posts about the dumbnification of Them. They'd like to read the three million-and-first post on the this topic, rather than a single post about the dumbnification of Us.

This is understandable, right and good. It's the way the American public discourse really ought to work.

That said, we've viewed the growing dumbnification of Us as the most interesting media event of the past dozen years. This morning, we're finally able to make the announcement:

At long last, this dumbnification—the dumbnification of Us—may at long last be complete!

We base that on a news report in today's Washington Post. In the report, Sommez and Weigel describe the appearance of Michael Avenatti among the Hawkeyes.

In the hard-copy Post, the news report begins as shown below. Hard-copy headline included:
SOMMEZ AND WEIGEL (8/11/18): Stormy Daniels’s lawyer says he can be the ‘fighter’ Democrats need in 2020

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, told Iowa Democrats on Friday that Democrats are seeking a “fighter” who will take on President Trump—and that they should look no further than him.

In his first steps toward a potential 2020 presidential bid, Avenatti toured the Iowa State Fair
, met with voters and did interview after interview to explain how serious he is.

“I’ve been very humbled by the positive reception I’ve received in Iowa,” he said in an interview.
“It’s actually surpassed my expectations. There’s been a number of conversations where people tell me I should keep doing what I’m doing, and that I should run.”
The Iowa State Fair is best known for its famous butter cow, a version of the traditional golden calf. The leading authority on such buttery idol worship reminds us of its provenance:
According to the Bible, the golden calf was an idol (a cult image) made by the Israelites during Moses' absence, when he went up to Mount Sinai...

Bull worship was common in many cultures. In Egypt, whence according to the Exodus narrative the Hebrews had recently come, the Apis Bull was a comparable object of worship, which some believe the Hebrews were reviving in the wilderness; alternatively, some believe the God of Israel was associated with or pictured as a calf/bull deity through the process of religious assimilation and syncretism. Among the Egyptians' and Hebrews' neighbors in the ancient Near East and in the Aegean, the aurochs, the wild bull, was widely worshipped, often as the Lunar Bull and as the creature of El.
Modern versions of this "bull worship" tend to make themselves manifest at this particular fair.

This is especially true when full-blown icons of dumbnification—such hood ornaments as Donald J. Trump—spring full-blown from the Iowa soil, or descend directly from the sky, the arrival ritual accomplished by Trump in August 2015.

Avenatti is a rather obvious alternate version of Trump. As we've noted in the past, his ability to sound exactly like Trump is frequently uncanny:
SOMMEZ AND WEIGEL: Avenatti told the paper that he is testing the presidential waters and that he decided to visit Iowa to listen to voters and to “do my homework” on the issues they care about most. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said he is a “strong supporter of universal Medicare for all,” but that he will be studying up on some of the other policies that are coming up on the trail, such as last year’s tax cut legislation and the president’s tariffs on foreign goods.

“Over the years, I’ve developed the ability to digest a lot of information over a short period of time,” Avenatti said. “I’m reading up on a number of issues. I’m meeting up with people who have far more experience with them than I have or will ever have. Rather than telling people what they want to hear, I’m asking them what they need.”
Donald J. Trump is quick to praise his own exceptional mental abilities. Avenatti, a manifest clown, is quick to sound like Trump.

Journalists tend to defer to such bluster-rich figures. This is the way the Post reporters describe Avenatti's rise to moral greatness this year:
SOMMEZ AND WEIGEL: Avenatti is representing Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, in her lawsuit to void a nondisclosure agreement she signed in exchange for $130,000 in 2016 that prevented her from speaking about an affair she allegedly had with Trump. Daniels argues that the deal is invalid because Trump, who denies the affair, never signed it. The legal battle has made Avenatti a celebrity on Twitter and cable news.
The reporters seem to have been cowed by the latest manifestations of this ancient bull worship. In fact, the story of Avenatti's client goes exactly like this:

Clifford says she had sex with Donald K. Trump on one occasion in 2006. She says she did so because she felt she had to. Evidence suggests that some of us liberals even believed this claim.

If Clifford had sex with Donald J. Trump, she did so in hopes of getting herself on television. When it turned out that this wasn't going to happen, she began trying to sell her story about having had sex with Trump on one occasion.

Her first attempt to sell this story occurred in 2011. In 2016, she succeeded is selling her story about having had sex on one occasion for the $130,000 to which the reporters refer.

By traditional norms, this would have been seen as a possible version of blackmail. Given our ongoing dumbnification, this has instead been widely seen as a case in which a misused feminist was "trying to tell her story," even "trying to tell her truth."

(Stating the obvious, Clifford could have "told her story" about having sex at any point in the past dozen years. The problem was, she wanted a big sack of cash. Given the ongoing dumbnification, we liberals now tend to accept tribally pleasing claims no matter how little sense they actually make.)

Earlier this year, Avenatti came up with the cable-friendly claim that Clifford had been threatened with bodily harm by a Trump associate in 2011. Evidence suggests that some liberals believed the barrister's claim.

After consulting soothsayers of various stripes, Avenatti seemed to announce that he was on the verge of identifying this "thug." No identification ensued. Due to Avenatti's entertainment value in the corporate medium called "cable news," everyone has agreed to forget all about the various things he has said.

Today, this ludicrous figure is on display in the Hawkeye State. According to the Post's reporters, he was scheduled to speak at last night's Democratic Party Wing Ding fundraiser.

This fact alone strongly suggests that the dumbnification of our once-proud tribe is, at long last, complete. As international experts have said, it's hard to imagine another way to interpret this chain of events.

Our warlike species is said to run on gossip and group fictions. We believe Abraham Lincoln said that along with Professor Harari.

What the heck is an aurochs: What the heck is an aurochs (see above), plural aurochs? The leading authority explains:
The aurochs, also known as urus or ure (Bos primigenius), is an extinct species of large wild cattle that inhabited Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is the ancestor of domestic cattle and has been suggested to be a genetic component of the modern European bison, crossbred with steppe bison. The species survived in Europe until the last recorded aurochs died in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland, in 1627.
According to several Jaktorów Forest experts, the emergence of Candidate Avenatti suggests that the aurochs may not be extinct after all.

These experts say that, within the academy, "Avenatti" is emerging as the answer to a new Hee Haw-style question, to wit:

"We crossbred Donald Trump with a steppe bison. What did we get?"


  1. Boy does Somerby hate Avenatti and Daniels (Clifford)!

    He's never written anything this heated against Trump. And talk about narrative -- he has one of his own here. Daniels wanted lots of money, so she waited 6 years, and instead of getting big bucks from the tabloids she agreed to a nondisclosure agreement. What an odd way to chase those big bucks!

    Note how Trump repeatedly welches on his deals in this situation. Daniels meets with him to convince him to put her on his Apprentice show but he demands sex. She gives it to him but he doesn't come through with his end of the implicit bargain, so she writes it off. After 10 years, she is approached by campaign staff who are worried about Trump's sex with her and they offer her $130,000 in exchange for her silence. But Trump doesn't sign the agreement. And now Trump and his guys are talking about the affair but Daniels cannot tell her side of things without being sued. Trump demanded sex for a job but then welched repeatedly and she honored the agreement but she is the grifter in Somerby's eyes. And what has Avenatti done, besides giving her vigorous representation in her lawsuit?

    Somerby thinks she is lying about being threatened. If anyone here thinks the mobbed up Trump doesn't use strong-arm tactics, ask yourself why he has a squad of personal "bodyguards" (we would call them goons) that he prefers to the secret service. Ask yourself why his head bodyguard, who quit, is still being paid hush money ($15,000/week) to keep quiet. Ask yourself what a "fixer" does exactly. Ask yourself whether there is any reason why Stormy Daniels should have to know the name, address and other identifying info of her mugger after being threatened, in order for her claim to be plausible.

    Somerby says: "If Clifford had sex with Donald J. Trump, she did so in hopes of getting herself on television. When it turned out that this wasn't going to happen, she began trying to sell her story about having had sex with Trump on one occasion.

    Her first attempt to sell this story occurred in 2011. In 2016, she succeeded is selling her story about having had sex on one occasion for the $130,000 to which the reporters refer."

    Supposedly Somerby dislikes Trump, so why is he so virulently opposed to Avenatti and Clifford (Daniels)? Part of it perhaps arises from his Catholic upbringing -- the whole virgin/whore dichotomy may prevent him from seeing Clifford as a real person. She is so spoiled, in his view, that she has no business seeking a TV job with Trump and he has every right to manipulate her into having sex with him. But why does he think Avenatti is a grifter? Does Daniels deserve no legal representation? Or is it because he has been so effective at calling out Trump and pursuing Cohen? Is Somerby attack them in defense of Trump?

    Lots of unqualified people have run for President. Some have been elected, some not. Avenatti is certainly smarter than Trump, appears more honest, is more articulate, has a better grasp on world affairs and knows more about nearly everything than Trump. Why shouldn't he run? And why does his comment that he might seek office set off Somerby? I think it is most likely, Avenatti is not serious, but why should his remarks tick off Somerby more than Joe Biden's, for example? I would vote for Avenatti before Biden, because Avenatti is not a sexist asshole. But what is Somerby's problem? He's given us a mouthful of outrage but no reasons.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. “…appears more honest, is more articulate, has a better grasp on world affairs and knows more about nearly everything than Trump. Why shouldn't he run?”


      Elba, I have several levels of outrage:

      Jesus Christ
      Jesus fucking Christ
      Jesus motherfucking Christ
      Jesus godamn motherfucking Christ

      It can go on, but that’s as far as I’ve gone so far.


    3. Was this really worth posting? First, you're going to piss Somerby off -- using the Lord's name in vain is another sin among Catholics and once a Catholic, always a Catholic, so it will rub him the wrong way.

      Trump doesn't even appear honest.

    4. Well said. Somerby doesn't like women very much it seems, and he's descending into crackpot senility. So, Avenatti floats hints or teasers of thinking of running for president in 2020, possibly as a joke, and to Somerby that means ALL LIBERALS ARE DUMB. He doesn't explain why. He hasn't shown where anyone anywhere says this is a good idea. No, one person suggested something, so all liberals are damned as stupid by Lord Bob Somerby. Does this make any sense? No. He's become a complete Fox News fan and Trump admirer, he authentically hates liberals and Democrats. I only come here for the laughs at this point.

  2. Biden is a sexist asshole? Do tell.

    1. Ask Anita Hill. Look at his behavior with Hillary. And those hands!

  3. Stephen Pinker was on Bill Maher's show last night. He talked about the many ways the lives of people around the world and in the USA have been improving, and the fact that most people don't seem to know about it. Even in the area of war, we are less warlike and fewer people are dying now than in the distant past and even in the previous several decades. He talked about world poverty decreasing to 10% and world literacy increasing to above 90%, about the increase in democracy and freedoms, increases in happiness, and even increases in civil rights for black people in the US, despite the continued need for improvement.

    This contrasts strongly with Trump's insistence that everything is going to hell and that other countries are shitholes and black people live in urban hellholes and immigrants are taking over jobs and so on. Trump's characterization of the US is decay and collapse that only he can stop.

    Who else talks like that? Somerby. Every post describes the decline of civilization, the decrease in reasoning ability, the increase in dumbness, and so on. To hear Somerby talk, things are bad and getting worse and only ... doing what, can help us? Agreeing with Somerby? Throwing rocks at Daniels? Turning off Maddow and listening to...who? Somerby really needs to read and discuss Pinker's book. He needs to know the facts about our world and stop being so depressed about progress, change, and our ability to improve things. Otherwise he sounds like a clinically depressed person who belongs in an institution to keep him from harming himself or Stormy Daniels.

    1. I didn't see the show, but I think Pinker seems out of his depth. Pinker looks at things as they were compared to how they are now, and yes, statistically there is improvement.

      I don't imagine that he talked much about the fact that we’re droning people worldwide, there’s a refugee crisis, glaciers are melting and islands are sinking, the US, “leader of the free world,” has walked away from even non-binding agreements on greenhouse gas reductions, we’re mowing down forests at breakneck speed, the Banksters are on the verge of destroying the economy and people’s lives again, we’re dedicating close to a trillion dollars to the War (sorry, Defense) Department, the US has 25% of the world’s incarcerated population (all peachy keen last I checked), slavery is alive and well in places like Libya, the Doomsday Clock is two minutes away from midnight…

      I could go on and on, of course. A lot of us know these things, but the msm – Bob’s main focus – addresses the issues in sound bites, if they address them at all. Doom is on the horizon. Why won’t they tell us?

      Pinker should take a job at a Foxconn factory, and tell us about the rising tide of increased well-being in the world.

      And maybe I should read his book, too. But I just bought Chomsky’s “Optimism over Despair.” I’m gonna give that a try first. Goddamn, I could sure use a good dose of optimism.


    2. Leroy, you should watch the show. Pinker is a Professor at Harvard (after being at MIT for years) and a heavyweight. He knows what he is talking about.

      I'm sure that despite the dire state of climate change, people are doing more to fix the planet these days than they did in the past, whether you consider the 1800s or the last 30 years.

      If you are truly interested, go get his book and see how he measures things. You can selective focus on bad stuff but that isn't a scientific approach and you really need to read how he eliminates that kind of selective attention in his method of comparison.

    3. 7:16

      “You can selective (sic) focus on bad stuff but that isn't a scientific approach and you really need to read how he eliminates that kind of selective attention in his method of comparison.”

      Thank you for your measured reply. I just watched the show (I think, since you provided no link), courtesy of the nearly miraculous internet.

      Maher asks Pinker, in all seriousness, “People used to live at a subsistence level, now they’re working in a sweatshop, and that’s actually a step up, right?” Pinker: “Yes…”

      I’ve heard this argument before, in fact it’s neoliberal doctrine. Let the market rule, and all boats will be lifted. The poor will get a few more shekels. Their lives will be better! But it’s the capitalists that really benefit, whilst the exploited poor receive… subsistence wages. I think Maher was mocking him.

      Pinker goes on to talk about “safety” and lightning strikes (!) and other sorts of facts that prove we’re better off now than we used to be. It’s true: Things are better now in this brief timespan, but most of those gains have been achieved through human solidarity.

      Science, medicine, collective bargaining, our only lever so far against capitalism, all were hard fought-for things. If only Galileo could speak today, and the workers who revolted and gave us, amongst other things, the weekend, and died for their efforts.

      The metrics by which Pinker makes his case may be scientific, but they don’t matter unless we get our collective shit together. Pinker is a humanist, and that’s good. Is he a realist? From his perch at Harvard, it seems not.



    4. You, of course, have the right to believe whatever you want. But here you illustrate that old adage, "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." This is the problem with our political discourse. People insist on their own sets of facts and disregard what they don't wish to believe. You can label this "neoliberal doctrine" or whatever puts it safely outside your consideration, but that doesn't change the facts on the ground. Pinker isn't a politician -- he is a scientist. Your beliefs about our collective shit are well and good, but choosing to believe or disbelieve whatever is consistent with your politics is part of why we have no action at the federal level on climate change, etc.

      On no page of his book does Pinker say "let the market rule" or anything remotely like it.

      If Maher was mocking Pinker, Maher was being an ass, as usual. Try reading something without filtering it through your political lens.

    5. I'm taking a more pleated approach to this one. More or less a pleat look.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. 10:19

      As I admitted, I haven’t read Pinker’s book, so by default, I shouldn’t even discuss it. But you bring up points that bear discussing. Facts are not indisputable once they are verified as facts, things upon which everyone can agree. We should shoot the flat-earthers into outer space so we can get on with things as they are, and avoid their distraction.

      I suppose that’s why I approached the topic of Pinker through my political lens.

      “…but choosing to believe or disbelieve whatever is consistent with your politics is part of why we have no action at the federal level on climate change, etc.”

      Exactly! That’s why politics, which I believe starts and exists at a one-to-one personal level, is so important. If Pinker leaves out this dimension, he’s leaving out the most important thing. We’re at a point of real existential crisis. Pinker compares the past to the present (as I understand the book I’ve not read) to ask “What are we whining about?” Am I right about the book I’ve never read?


    8. 8:50

  4. "Avenatti is a rather obvious alternate version of Trump."

    This is a rather obvious casual slander of a man who has done nothing to deserve that comparison.

  5. ""We crossbred Donald Trump with a steppe bison. What did we get?"

    Not sure how we're supposed to answer this in Somerby's mind.

    We get a liberal? We get homo sapiens? We get one of his home-grown experts?

    Is this just an elaborate ruse to show us he knows what an aurochs is (or was)?

  6. "we've been writing about the dumbnification of our own liberal world.

    Understandably, some liberals don't like this."

    "This"?...perhaps it isn't *what* you write about but *how* you write about it that irks "some liberals."

    For example, in the statement above, your word "this" is ambiguous. Are you referring to your thesis (the "dumbnification"), or your "writing", which includes tone, presentation of arguments, judgments, etc. "Some liberals" may appreciate your thesis but not the way you write about it. You seem to assume that both your thesis and your writing are above reproach.

    "Some liberals" would welcome a teacher, but too often they get a scold at your blog.

    1. ""Some liberals" may appreciate your thesis"

      All liberals (or 'lib-zombies', as I prefer to call them) can appreciate only one thesis: The Party Line. And that's exactly what the 'dumbnification' is. Consequently, your nitpicking is totally meaningless.

    2. 11:52 Tone argument. Logical fallacy.

    3. It's more than tone, dummy. That's a legitimate issue, and has nothing to do with logic. Somerby's other problems are dishonest arguments, cherry picking, nitpicking, sweeping generalizations.

  7. Since we must: "Avenatti is a rather obvious alternate version
    of Trump."

    His many times has Avenatti stiff his creditors or declared
    bankruptcy. Indeed, if he pledges to let us see his tax returns
    will he take the pledge back?

    Does he have a long history of claims of sexual assault made
    against him?

    Has he claimed the whole electoral system will be rigged against
    him unless he wins?

    Is he, lets face it, a racist?

    Has he promised a great new wonderful healthcare program
    that makes no sense and he won't follow up on, because the
    promise is bullshit?

    Obviously, one could go on all day, but you don't have to be
    dying to cast a vote for Avenatti to see that Bob is not functioning as
    as a serious analyst here, but childishly settling scores.

  8. "we've been writing about the dumbification of our own liberal world...."

    Yep, it's been about that long since Bob revealed that now that his college friend was out of the line of fire, he would be quite happy to put his thumb on the scale of the every more deranged right. When he did right about them, it was generally to note that their dementia was our fault.
    Should also note, that even on the score, Bob has not done well. He rails against the arrogance of the right, but never acknowledges his own mistakes. Scooter Libby, Mel Gibson, Katrina, etc. His attacks on the left tend to be personal and mean spirited, whereas he tended to stick to the facts in the Whitewater/Monica days.

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