These presidential historians today!


First part of a year-end report:
If we were inclined to restart today, we might restart with this New York Times editorial, which is actually an "editorial substitute."

In hard copy, the presentation looks like the day's lone editorial. In fact, it's a signed "Editorial Observer" piece by Bill Saporito, who's identified (though only on line) as "a contributor to the editorial board."

Is a contributor to the editorial board the same thing as a member of the editorial board? As best we can tell, the answer is no.

That said, Saporito's piece has the look, and the positioning, of this morning's lone editorial. Readers of today's print editions will likely think that's what they're reading when they peruse his piece.

For what it's worth, we thought we were reading the day's lone editorial when we read our hard-copy Times! At any rate, along the way, Saporito offers this:
SAPORITO (12/27/18): Mr. Trump is King Minus. Everything he touches turns to lead. And everyone else is at fault but him. He can’t understand it. Didn’t he give Mexico and Canada a great deal in replacing Nafta with Naft2? He thinks so, even though the Canadians fought furiously until they got an agreement they could live with; the Mexicans are still on the fence, if you’ll pardon the pun.

And didn’t he win the trade war with China? The president brays that jobs will be moving here from there, which will make the trade deficit diminish. The reality is that the trade deficit continues to climb, mostly because it helps our economy. What is diminishing instead are sales of soybeans to China, once the largest customer for American farmers. In November, China bought exactly zero soybeans from us. Merry Christmas, Iowa. Does this feel like winning?

In Mr. Trump’s snow-globe reality, our days are merry and bright as long as he’s in charge. It’s only when those other fools interfere—the courts, the Fed, Congress, whoever is chief of staff—that things go wrong. Thus the government shutdown that he bragged he would own he now says belongs to the Democrats. No one is buying that one, not even in his own party. And no one is buying his $5 billion Mexico wall, either. And that includes the Mexicans. Nor should they. The number of people entering the United States from Mexico has been declining for a decade, but Mr. Trump has now wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars placing American troops in Texas to protect us from an immigration threat that doesn’t exist.
Snore! If you're alive on the planet, you're encountered that array of prepackaged editorial observations a million times by now.

As we read Saporito's piece, we thought of the December 24 Deadline: White House broadcast. The Christmas Eve effort was a pre-taped affair. For that reason, it was even more repetitive and scripted than the almost insanely repetitive program's standard daily fare.

Within the tents of our generally useless tribe, everyone knows what to say about Donald J. Trump. Pundits take numbers and stand in line awaiting their chance to recite, just as they did in 1999 and 2000, when their insanely repetitive claims were designed to defeat the very bad person who was Bill Clinton's chosen successor.

This is the way the minds of us the humans tend to work! For ourselves, we think of what Nestor, the seasoned charioteer, told the headstrong Diomedes at the moment of truth on the plains outside Troy:
Few can match your power in battle, Diomedes,
and in council you excel all men your age
But you don't press on and reach a useful end...
In council, the youthful Diomedes exceeded everyone else his age. But, at least in this instance, the vastly more experienced Nestor—"he always gave the best advice"—told Diomedes that he had failed to "reach a useful end."

For our money, it's the greatest fictional scene we know—the scene which has been reenacted the most times in the millennia since it passed into tribal song.

Everyone knows how to repeat the complaints Saporito repeats this morning. You can see them stated, almost insanely, for an hour each weekday afternoon on Deadline: White House.

Our tribe knows how to repeat these complaints. But we're struck by the way our corporate tribal leaders fail to move beyond the obvious to reach a useful end.

In large part, we blame the New York Times itself. Back in January, the newspaper warned us not to say the sorts of things Carl Bernstein said, not for the first time, on last Sunday's Reliable Sources.

Bernstein questioned the president's psychological state. Speaking with CNN's Brian Stelter, he moved beyond rote recitation toward a potentially useful end:
STELTER (12/23/18): Carl, help us connect this fight [about the exit from Syria] to Trump's precarious position overall. To me, James Mattis issued a warning to America with his resignation letter, and that's the other big story this weekend, loss of support for the president. How do you connect these fights?

BERNSTEIN: Well, you just said it right, it's all one big story and that story is about the fitness or unfitness of Donald Trump to be president of the United States. What the Mattis letter has done in a monumental way is to push Republicans into making some real judgments, they're talking to each other, there is coming to be a much greater consensus that he is unfit to be the president of the United States, if you talk to Republicans, that he is unfit on psychological grounds, that he is unfit perhaps because of his contempt for the law and particularly unfit in his conduct of foreign policy in such a way as to be a danger himself.

And this is what Mattis has said, Tillerson has said, McMaster has said. They view the president of the United States as a danger to the national security of the United States...


I think as journalists that we need to be going to all Republican members of the House and Senate and having serious discussions with them, questions on background, what do they think about the fitness of Donald Trump to be president of the United States. And let's start running detailed stories about what they really think.


This is not just a question of whether he is going to be impeached, convicted, not convicted. This is about whether or not a consensus is developing that the president of the United States is not fit to serve in a situation such as we have never had in the history of this country.

Read what individuals are saying in the Congress, being quoted as saying he's off the rails. Republicans saying that, not Democrats. "He's off the rails psychologically. He's not stable enough to be president."

These are questions that as journalists we have to look at, not pejoratively, not saying whether we think he's psychologically unfit, but what people of the country think. We also ought to be talking to people in the country about all these things, but also about Republicans particularly and what they say about these questions...
All through the past year, Bernstein has said that journalists should conduct a public discussion concerning Donald J. Trump's psychological state—concerning his mental health.

In Bernstein's view, Trump's lack of stability makes him a danger to the nation, presumably to the world. But alas! In January of this year, the New York Times editorial board said we shouldn't have that discussion, and the rest of the mainstream press corps quickly fell into line.

This undercut the effort by Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee to initiate such a discussion. Her efforts were thrown under the bus as the Times, predictably enough, said we should ignore the questions she was attempting to raise.

This leaves our pundits repeating their useless daily claims concerning whatever ridiculous thing Trump said or did ten minutes ago. They refuse to reach a (potentially) useful end as they conduct this insanely repetitive pseudo-discussion.

In this morning's New York Times, Saporito repeats the basic points for perhaps the ten millionth time. He repeats the claims they all can repeat, the claims they repeat every day.

Repetition is easy and fun, but does it reach a useful end? As they repeat and repeat and repeat, Donald Trump still holds the nuclear codes, and the generals who were supposed to prevent their use are increasingly absent.

The latest pleasing daily complaint concerns Trump's alleged bone spurs during the Vietnam War. Inevitably, the corps is now claiming to be shocked, shocked by the latest relatively trivial thing they may or may not have learned.

Last night, Don Lemon was shocked by this latest report. This leads us to our mini-topic for this, the last full week of the year:

These presidential historians today! Tomorrow, we'll start a lazy year-end semi-report by showing you what Michael Beschloss recently oddly said.

Tomorrow: Pleasing but blatantly false

The charioteer's fuller tale: He always gave the best advice! In this instance, his advice went exactly like this:
Few can match your power in battle, Diomedes,
and in council you excel all men your age
But you don't press on and reach a useful end.
How young you are—why, you could be my son,
my youngest-born at that, though you urge our kings
with cool clear sense: what you've said is right.

But it's my turn now, Diomedes.
I think I can claim to have some years on you.
So I must speak up and drive the matter home.
And no one will heap contempt on what I say,
not even mighty Agamemnon. Lost to the clan,
lost to the hearth, lost to the old ways, that one
who lusts for the horror of war with his own people.
The charioteer continued from there, chastising even Agamemnon. For ourselves, we think we see a lot of lusting for war with our own people within our own current discussions.


  1. I suggest a more systemic approach.

    - traditionalists, (conservatives) try to preserve "the standards". They strongly prefer "rule-based" behavior.

    - liberals, they are mostly utilitarian, consequentialists. Their idea is that one must do whatever has to be done to advance their (bullshit) liberal agenda.

    That's all I'm saying. (Except conservative politicians who are free to commit war crimes and lies as that is part of the job.)

  2. Few can match your power in argumentation, Bob. In blogging, you excel all men your age
    But you don't press on and reach a useful end...
    ...with cool clear sense: what you've said is right.

    But it's my turn now, Bob.
    I think I can claim to have some years on you.
    So I must speak up and drive the matter home.
    Although many commenters here will heap contempt on what I say,
    especially mighty deadrat and mighty Aga-mm-non
    and mighty Anonymous.
    Lost to the clan...that one who lusts for the horror of war with his own people.

    Also, Bob, your repetitive posts are boring.

  3. "Mr. Trump is King Minus. Everything he touches turns to lead. And everyone else is at fault but him."

    Ah, tes. As Donald The Best Fucking American President In Fucking History is bringing the troops home from Syria and Afghanistan - war-mongering lib-zombie death-cult is panicking like never before.

    Perfect. Keep squirming, liberal zombies and dembots. Fun to observe, pleasure to watch...

    1. Is America is great again?

    2. Thank you for your question. Judging by the spectacle of dembots' foaming at the mouth, it's getting greater every day.

    3. But not yet great again?

    4. Mao,
      Now pull Trump's other finger.

  4. Being “not fit to serve” doesn’t necessarily imply having mental health issues. Nor is being “off the rails” the same thing as being off the rails *psychologically*. Etc, etc.
    It isn’t clear that any Republican has actually questioned Trump’s sanity, Bernstein’s assertions notwithstanding. Note that Bernstein says that Mattis, Tillerson and McMaster say “that he is unfit perhaps because of his contempt for the law and particularly unfit in his conduct of foreign policy in such a way as to be a danger himself.” These people, who would be in a position to know, are NOT claiming that Trump is mentally ill, and having “contempt for the law” does not imply or show mental health issues or psychological problems.

    Somerby disapproves when pundits call Trump a liar. He says we don’t have access to Trump’s mental state, so we can’t judge his intentions. And yet, he wishes pundits would speculate about Trump’s mental state by wondering or asserting that Trump has “mental health” issues. Pundits do not have access to Trump’s mental state. Thus, they should no more speculate about his mental health than they should accuse him of lying.

    At any rate, what evidence exists for Trump having psychological problems? The evidence has to consist of Trump’s public words and actions, something that all of us have access to, not just pundits. Insights into Trump’s private behavior would have to come from the news media, and would likely stem from anonymous sources, another pet peeve of Somerby’s.

    Could Trump’s actions be strategic? That is at least a possibility. In many ways, he is the same now as he has always been. Perhaps he, like Hamlet, is feigning madness.
    Simple incompetence is another plausible explanation that doesn’t involve claims of mental illness. Grift, subservience to foreign interests, are other explanations. But Congress would have to investigate those things.

  5. "Donald Trump still holds the nuclear codes, and the generals who were supposed to prevent their use are increasingly absent."

    You sound insane, Bob. Totally like a TDS-infected loon, in the last stage of lib-zombieism.

    Just in case there's still a half-functioning brain cell in there - ever heard of the concept of civilian control of the military?

    You poor zombie; that's exactly how how the misuse of nuclear codes is prevented: by keeping them as far from generals - and the liberal psychos, obviously - as possible...

    1. Anybody have a Gibberish to English translator handy?

    2. Forget it, dembot, your gibberish is not translatable anyhow.

  6. The Times editorial asserts that President Trump has accomplished almost nothing. Bob asserts that Trump is not sane. The editorial is weakly reasoned. It lists things President Trump didn't accomplish but omits all the things he did accomplish. Bob's assertion is even weaker. He offers no evidence at all that Trump is not sane.

    1. Committed treason FTW!

    2. Treason against the banksters, eh, dembot?

      God bless The Donald, and fuck the dembots...

    3. what in your estimation has he accomplished?

    4. Tsk. Well, speaking only for myself: turning the sanctimonious liberal scum into mindless helpless zombies or hate-spewing dembots is the most impressive accomplishment.

      And which of his accomplishments impressed you most, my dear?

    5. ok, other than "turning the sanctimonious liberal scum into mindless helpless zombies or hate-spewing dembots" what has he accomplished...

    6. Oh dear. Please check yourself, I'm sure the accomplishments are listed on the official WH website somewhere.

      But if (god forbid) you're mentally challenged or something, please let me know and I'll find the link for you...

    7. what in your estimation has [President Trump] accomplished?
      Here are a few accomplishments:
      -- Lowest unemployment rate in history for blacks
      -- Lowest unemployment rate in history for Hispanics
      -- Much higher economic growth rate than during the Obama Administration
      -- Wage increases larger than inflation for the first time in a decade.
      -- Fulfilled his promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
      -- Got North Korea to stop its threatening, warlike behavior.
      -- Reduced Federal Income Tax for most American taxpayers
      --Reduced Corporate Income Rates, which were the highest in the world. Even many Democrats acknowledged that this needed to be done.
      -- Eliminated a great many burdensome regulations
      -- Reformed two horrendous Dept of Education policies.

    8. P.S. Here's an article from 2012

      Obama proposes lowering corporate tax rate to 28 percent

    9. Nah. Here's what it is: the Donald has delivered a blow, hopefully a death blow, to both the liberal globalist cabal and the liberal imperialist cabal.

      Compare to this outgoing European dead-ender:
      "“Nation states must today be prepared to give up their sovereignty”, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told an audience in Berlin that sovereign nation states must not listen to the will of their citizens when it comes to questions of immigration, borders, or even sovereignty."

  7. And yet, here you are again, along with Mao. To “spice” and “enliven” the conversation, no doubt, but really, only to troll – always to troll.

    What a couple of sad sacks.

    1. They think if they play "stupid", we'll forget that they are awful human beings.
      It's not working.

    2. I'm sorry you're pissed off at the human beings, dembot.

      Obviously, the simple copy-paste machine like yourself is incapable of 'playing stupid', or of anything else for that matter, other than copy-pasting the same word-salad over and over.

      Please rest assured that we do appreciate your frustration...

    3. Conservatives never do whatever needs to be done to advance their agenda.

      (Except for conservative politicians like Presidents and stuff, they get a pass.)

      Right? Tell us more about the noble conservative traditionalists!

      (Except the politicians who are free to commit war crimes and lie as it's part of the job)

      Maybe one day all the dirty liberal consequentialists can emulate the exaulted conservative traditionalists whose mastery over the rules would lead the way to unending American glory. (Except for the conservative politicians of course who can decieve all they want.) Right moron fuck?

  8. "And those ladies, they rolled their eyes"

    This comment forum has devolved into nothing more than trolls baiting the uninitiated into stroking their inane and low-integrity egos.

    "And other peoples, they have to work, Just watch me now!"

    Meanwhile, Dems trounced Repubs in the latest election and are poised to takeover in 2020, Trump's poll numbers keep dipping as he betrays our military, and Obama's economy starts to lose steam without proper guidance.

    "And that villains always blink their eyes, woo!"

    The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane

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