THE RATIONAL ANIMAL WALK: The one thing the animals care about!


Galloping Cottleism:
Early yesterday morning, to the tune of The Baby Elephant Walk, we read Michelle Cottle's Editorial Observer piece in our hard-copy New York Times.

Cottle joined the Times editorial board on June 1 of this year. The appointment was her reward for a quarter century of saying nothing of interest or importance from the highest platforms offered by contemporary pseudo-liberal pseudo-journalism.

The editors, signing with first names only, explained the appointment as shown below. We'll highlight a few key points:
THE EDITORS (5/22/18): We’re delighted to announce that Michelle Cottle will join the editorial board June 1 as our lead opinion writer on national politics.

Michelle has been covering Washington and national politics with passion, nuance and wit since the Clinton administration, and we look forward very much to the sense of history and proportion, along with the gimlet eye, that she will bring to bear on the Trump era. (punctuation as shown)

She arrives from The Atlantic, where she’s been covering the culture and politics of the nation’s capital as a contributing editor. Before that, she was a senior writer at National Journal, specializing in in-depth profiles. From 2010 to 2014, she served as a Washington correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. She’s also been a longtime senior editor at The New Republic and an editor of The Washington Monthly, as well as a frequent television and radio commentator.

Among many other gems, her recent work has included (politely) nudging Hillary Clinton toward the exit, dissecting the #MeToo era in state government and sticking up for unpaid interns—all the while, digging into today’s dating scene as a Date Lab columnist for The Washington Post.

Michelle grew up in Alabama and Tennessee, with stints in Georgia and Mississippi—in other words, she was, as she puts it, reared “red state to the core.” She now lives in Maryland with her husband, children and dogs.

Michelle will be based in the Washington bureau. Please join us in welcoming her.

—James, Katie and Jim
There's only one word for that: Sad.

Among other accomplishments, Cottle had recently been "digging into today’s dating scene as a Date Lab columnist for The Washington Post." This is the sort of performance which signals to lifeforms like James and Katie, and even to Jim, that the gimlet-eyed writer in question needs to be on the board.

To the tune of The Baby Elephant Walk, we thought of the famous paraphrased claim which is now being called "Aristotle's error" within the international expert community. That paraphrased claim would be this:
Man [sic] is the rational animal.
We humans are the rational animal! Could anyone survey Cottle's career and draw any such conclusion? Just consider her Editorial Observer piece, along with other such detritus from yesterday's Times.

Sad! At lest for us pseudo-liberals, the New York Times is branded as our smartest national newspaper. The paper pleasures us with incessant suggestions that we subscribers are cognizant, super-sharp, morally good, even smart.

Yesterday, in hard copy, Cottle's Editorial Observer piece sat in the real estate normally occupied by the Times' unsigned editorials. Meanwhile. on the paper's "reimagined" page A3 (hard copy only), readers were shown a collection of seven "Noteworthy Facts" from that day's edition.

Three such facts looked like this—and sadly, we kid you not:
Of Interest

Big Bird, the "Sesame Street" character, is 8 feet, 2 inches tall.

Adult acne overwhelmingly occurs in women.

Sample questions from the Certification of Astrological Proficiency exam include: What is the harmonic of a quintile aspect, and how many degrees is it? How how often are Mercury and Venus trine?
The other facts which some editor listed weren't a lot more noteworthy. Meanwhile, this:

In the Spotlight section, on the same page (ADDITIONAL REPORTAGE AND REPARTEE FROM OUR JOURNALISTS), the Times presented four photos taken by Viggo Mortensen, "one of the six cover subjects of [T Magazine's] annual Greats issue."

(T Magazine is the Times' reliably vacuous, eleven times yearly "style magazine." Mortensen isn't a New York Times journalist, but his photos had been taken by a Hollywood celebrity. On this basis, inclusion of these pointless photos was, in the traditional phrase, "close enough for New York Times work.")

On the same page A3, yesterday's Quote of the Day concerned the way Canadians can now "smoke pot without worrying police are going to arrest us." Below that, in the Here to Help section, the Times was helping readers out in the following way:
Here to Help
"I don't know why anyone would make a pie instead of a crisp." So Bittman helpfully said as he helpfully started out.

So it increasingly goes as the Times no longer attempts to hide its orange-shoed downward spiral. Meanwhile, on page A22, Cottle's lengthy Editorial Observer piece sat in the place where the newspaper's editorials normally reside.

Recently, Cottle was "digging into today’s dating scene as a Date Lab columnist." Apparently, this convinced James, Katie and Jim that the time had come to add her asp to the editorial board.

It was that, plus "the gimlet eye that she will bring to bear on the Trump era!" For the record, "gimlet eye" is a gendered term which is only applied, within the realm of pseudo-liberalism, to female pseudo-journalists whose fatuous work is designed to maintain the culture which Katherine Boo prophetically denounced, long ago, as Creeping Dowdism.

Cottle has said and done nothing of interest over the past thirty years. Because she had proven herself in that way, the Times had finally come to see that she belonged on the board.

Warning! "Among many other gems, [Cottle's] recent work has included (politely) nudging Hillary Clinton toward the exit." While dropping any need for politeness, it was to this favorite subject that Cottle turned her "gimlet eye" in yesterday's Observer piece.

For the record, we agree with Cottle's first point—with the idea that Clinton's recent interviews are likely to be unhelpful to Democrats in next month's elections. But after five paragraphs of that, Cottle produced a longer discussion of her real interest—of the only topic on which boys and girls like Cottle have been able to focus in the past 26 years.

We read Cottle's piece to the tune of The Baby Elephant Walk. We'll turn to the content of what she wrote as our award-winning series continues.

To the tune of The Baby Elephant Walk, we thought about the way people like Cottle have curried favor at the Times over the past many years. We also thought of the many people, all over the world, who lie dead in the shadow of this destructive behavior.

Inevitably, we also thought of the consensus view of the international expert community. We humans are the rational animal? That assessment should be seen as "Aristotle's error," these seers have now widely said.

Our view? You can't understand our failing culture till you grasp what these experts have told us.

Tomorrow: Pre-rational all the way down

Still to come: You-Know-Who's fourth accuser


  1. Why must Democrats attack each other instead of focusing on their opponents?

  2. To the extent that reporters are assigned to cover what their editors wish them to, how is Cottle responsible for the topics she has written about in the past? Presumably, a well-trained reporter should be able to write competently about whatever they are assigned to cover. Is she a bad writer in some way? Has she messed up in covering the dating scene?

    Somerby shows his hypocrisy here, since he was nudging Clinton toward the exit himself before the 2016 election was even held. Clinton has earned the right to say anything she damned well pleases about the political scene, without people on the NY Times or here in this blog suggesting she "isn't helping" Democrats.

  3. "which signals to lifeforms like James and Katie, and even to Jim"

    Hmm. I dunno, I wouldn't call zombie a 'lifeform'...

    1. Please provide proof that you are a lifeform.

    2. Fill out and mail the 'freedom of information' request form with $500 check enclosed, dembot.

    3. Clearly an automated response, especially use of the term dembot as a form of address, thus not proof of life.

  4. Essentially, Somerby is once again upset because the NY Times definition of news isn't confined to political news but includes a variety of other topics. He has never liked it that newspapers include style sections and women's pages. Somehow, he doesn't mind that sports and music and the arts are covered -- just the topics that appeal to women and less elite tastes, apparently. Social items, such as Viggo Mortensen's interest in photography. Why should these other aspects of American life be excluded from mention in a "news"paper?

    I'm also dismayed that Somerby considers interest in everyday to be symptomatic of the decline of our culture. Are people not supposed to share information about how to improve their lives? Does it hurt anything when they do?

    What an ass Somerby has become. If I were an Aristotle fan, I would be outraged every day at the way he borrows Aristotle's reputation in order to castigate things Aristotle might have found fascinating, important, even evidence of humanity's progress. Somerby doesn't know what Aristotle might approve of in modern times. I doubt if he has glanced at Aristotle's work since his college days. Aristotle wrote about how songbirds predict the appearance of visitors and the function of bees. Trivia if I ever saw it.

  5. "For the record, "gimlet eye" is a gendered term which is only applied, within the realm of pseudo-liberalism, to female pseudo-journalists"

    Where did this "fact" come from? Somerby's ass? There is no evidence to support this. The term "gimlet" here refers to a tool that is used to bore a hole, and "gimlet-eyed" has been in use since the 1700's. It means "penetrating, sharp, piercing glance", and thus "capable of penetrating insight."

    1. The gendered part of today's post is that Somerby appears ignorant of the fact that women are more likely to be assigned to do articles on dating and household tips than male newbie journalists are, by editors who stereotype them. The things Somerby is criticizing Cottle for may arise from her gender and the way women have to pay their dues, as compared to men.

    2. Women do more dating and household tips because women think about dating more than men do and do more household work than men because men don't care much about either one. The level of interest is different, and it's biological.

  6. "For the record, we agree with Cottle's first point—with the idea that Clinton's recent interviews are likely to be unhelpful to Democrats in next month's elections."

    And here we have the statement that renders the rest of Somerby's post inane. He tries to hide his approval of Cottle's overall point with his standard spiel about "pseudo" this and "pseudo" that, and the billionth exercise in pretend outrage at "noteworthy facts" and "here to help" (as if newspapers haven't always done this). Somerby's ire is only raised when Cottle gets around to the Lewinsky stuff. But that is part of the reason Cottle says Hillary ought to shut up. So which is it, Bob? Should Hillary shut up only for Reason #1, but not Reason #2?

    By the way, "for the record", how is Hillary's interview "unhelpful", Bob? And if you think she should shut up, then you are no better than Cottle, and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference whether you fully agree with all of her reasons.

    You sound like Maureen Dowd, whereby every utterance by Hillary was treated as a grand faux-pas.

    F**k that.

  7. "For the record, we agree with Cottle's first point"

    Cottle isn't making multiple points. She has one point: Hillary should stop talking, at least until after the midterms. There is no "first point" to agree with. There is only the one.

  8. All Cottle does in this latest brainless work is tell Hillary Clinton to get off the stage. Who does she thinks she is to tell anyone to go away. How come she hasn't said this about Trump. She is another in a long line of female sexists employed by the times like, Dowd, Collins and Chozick.

  9. Hillary could say "the sky is blue", and Republicans would accuse her of speaking half-truths, since the sky isn't blue at night. Then the mainstream media would say that Hillary's inaccurate statements about the sky color fuel Republican hatred and damage Democratic prospects. And then Somerby would be there to say "Clinton's recent interviews where she talks about the sky color are likely to be unhelpful to Democrats in next month's elections."

    And the idiocy continues.

  10. Biden is every bit as much of a has-been as Hillary, but no one is telling him to shut up. Republicans haven't targeted him because they understand that he is not a threat. Hillary is, because she is still enormously influential with her millions of fans (can't call them supporters since she is not running for anything). Certain people on the left have never understood that when the right criticizes someone, it means someone is doing something right.

  11. Someone needs to do a blog that examines the reasons why the media constantly engage in hand-wringing exercises and nit-picking excursions where every utterance by a Democrat is analyzed in agonizing detail, only to conclude that said Democrat is "tone-deaf" or "self-righteous." and "unhelpful to Democrats."

  12. Why did Cottle get so prominent an introduction? Maybe she gives great blow jobs.

    1. In D administrations, those with good oral skills are usually transferred to Pentagon. As assistants to the chief Pentagon spokesperson.

    2. Mitch McConnell is the leader of the Senate.

    3. Damn. I should have used "head" of the Senate instead.

    4. Ha ha ha ha! David. You and Somerby should go on the road. I mean, like literally, just go away together.

    5. David in Cal's wife never rose to prominence apparently due to the fact that she gives horrible blow jobs.

    6. 4:52,
      And she's an imaginary liberal. If she isn't imaginary.

    7. Imaginary liberals are always staying married to inveterate racists. It's how they, imaginarily, roll.

    8. Give Mao and David a break. They need to find their thrills some way, and it's been weeks since their party put a sexual predator on the Supreme Court.

  13. I have it on the best authority that there is an ENTIRE SECTION that appears EVERYDAY in the newspaper entirely devoted to...wait for it...SPORTS! People, can we talk? How unserious must our foppish papers be to devote this much time and energy to people throwing, kicking, or hitting various spheroidal objects?

    Oh, Bob Somerby is a sports fan, you say? Well, then it's ok in my book!

  14. It's going to be a rough time for the Democrats in the upcoming midterms and the foreseeable future.

  15. Democrats are a lethal combination of smug and stupid.

    1. Let's hope they never get so complacent, they stop reminding the citizenry that Republicans put a sexual predator on the Supreme Court. That would be unfortunate.

    2. Two. You're forgetting Uncle Thomas.

    3. "Sexual predator" is great, but the fact that dembots haven't called the new super-judge man 'racist' and 'homophobe' worries me.

    4. What are you babbling about, 11:55. Everyone calls him a "Republican".

    5. The Nazi's killed 6 million Jews.
      Never Again!
      Unless it pisses off liberals, of course.

  16. This blog's value would be less than zero without music. Let's try something modern:

  17. Bob Somerby: After devoting an entire online book (How He Got There) to the election-swaying consequences of news media persistently attributing false quotations to Al Gore, at long last you yourself have descended to basing a series of Daily Howler posts on the same degenerate practice, against, of all people, Aristotle, in your “philosophic” turn. How sadly ironic.

    > Man [sic] is the rational animal.

    You refer to this as “Aristotle’s error.”

    The problem is that Aristotle never said it.

    First, to dispose of that supposedly gender-specific “Man [sic]”: Aristotle used the word anthropos [ἄνθρωπος], the Greek word for “human”, as in anthropology, the study of humanity, or misanthrope, one who dislikes humanity. Aristotle was not being gender-specific. The “[sic]” was thus misplaced, not truthfully stating ‘this is indeed what the author wrote, not a misprint’; you should not use it when you mistranslate.

    Second, Aristotle never used the phrase “rational animal”; he used zōon logon echon [ζῷον λόγον ἔχων], “animal [or living being] possessing language”; and zōon politikon [ζῷον πολιτικόν], "political animal".

    This leaves, of your argument, approximately nothing.

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