BASIC SKILL LEVELS DOWN: A unified theory of Skill Levels Down!


Onward towards What Trump Said:
There are many ways in which our journalists seem determined to show us that basic skill levels are down.

Creative paraphrase and selective quotation are only two parts of the problem. We also think of selective use of the nation's three million academic studies. We think of bungled (and selective) use of basic statistics, sometimes including something as basic as a failure to adjust for inflation.

Skill levels have long been non-existent when it comes to basic assessments of character. According to the puzzling creatures within our pre-war establishment press. Paul Ryan was long "the most upright man now living," but Al Gore was the world's biggest liar!

Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), the trademarked yet disconsolate group which reports to us from the far side of Mister Trump's All-Too-Human War, have long told us that these "below basic" skill levels are best understood as an anthropological artifact.

"Given our so-called 'human' wiring, this was the best we could really expect!" So these chastened future scholars have said as they've sadly reviewed the decades of upper-end journalism which led to Donald J. Trump's ascension to power and to his aforementioned war.

They've told us we should always notice one basic anthropological fact. Among humans, technical failure typically tracks the desire to support and advance tribal story lines, narratives and scripts-the types of potent group "fictions" to which Professor Harari has more or less almost referred.

It all comes down to tribal novelization! We can't help thinking that this anthropological nostrum may shed some light on the question of What Mister Barr Really Said.

Is it true? Did William Barr fail to answer Senator Harris' question? As we showed you yesterday, that's what we were told by Rachel Maddow, and also by Harris herself.

Tribal stars have made this claim, but is their claim really true? Once again, here's the extended Q-and-A in question:
HARRIS (5/1/19): Attorney General Barr, has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?

BARR: I wouldn't—I wouldn't—

HARRIS: Yes or no?

BARR: Could you repeat that question?

HARRIS: I will repeat it. Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no please, sir?

BARR: The president or anybody else?

HARRIS: Seems you'd remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR: Yeah, but I'm trying to grapple with the word "suggest." I mean, there have been discussions of, of matters out there that— They have not asked me to open an investigation, but—

HARRIS: Perhaps they have suggested?

BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest—

HARRIS: Hinted?

BARR: I don't know.

HARRIS: Inferred? You don't know? Okay.
As we showed you yesterday, Harris' original question had a compound subject and a compound predicate. As we showed you yesterday, it was really four questions in one.

That said, is it true that Barr failed or refused to answer? Let's approach that key question from the standpoint of Skill Levels Down as caused by novelization.

We start with Senator Harris. Working under the childish time limits maintained in the vast bulk of congressional hearings, she interrupted Barr several times. She then rushed ahead to ask other questions before attempting to establish his answers to the four she'd already asked.

Viewed as a technical matter, this was unskilled questioning. Basic skill levels were way, way down as Harris rushed past the welter of questions lodged in her complex ask.

That's an assessment of Harris' questioning viewed as a technical matter. Viewed as a political matter, her questioning was a triumph.

Harris was widely praised for defenestrating Barr, even by the admittedly brilliant Maddow. This aligns with the Future Anthropologists' insightful nostrum:

When basic skill levels are down, this deficit will often align with the desire to fulfill tribal tasks.

Basic skill levels were way down as Harris sped through her truncated frisking of Barr. But how about the subsequent performance of a journalist like Rachel Maddow?

According to Maddow, "Attorney General William Barr never answered that question from California Senator Kamala Harris." That's what she said as soon as she played the tape of the exchange we've transcribed.

In fairness to Maddow, it wasn't entirely clear what question she meant. She might have meant the original compound question. Or she might have meant the final question thrown at Barr, in which he was asked if anyone had "inferred" that he should open an investigation.

(Presumably, Harris meant "implied.")

It wasn't entirely clear what Maddow meant when she said Barr "never answered." In that sense, it could be said that her basic skill levels were down!

That said, Maddow went on to quote a letter Harris had written:

"In response to my questions during the hearing, Attorney General Barr proved unable or unwilling to state whether he'd been directed to open investigations at the request or suggestion of the president or other White House officials," Harris had defiantly said.

Maddow seemed to approve of Harris' claim—but just how accurate was that claim? We'd say there's a skill problem here!

As you can see above, Barr pretty much seemed to say at one point that no one has asked him to open an investigation. A moment later, he seemed to be saying that no one has suggested such a thing—but Harris boldly interrupted before he could finish his statement.

With these points in mind, is it really "fair and balanced" to say that Barr failed to answer Harris' question or questions? Or did Harris fail to elucidate a full answer or set of answers to her original compound question, due to the fact that her own skill levels were perhaps several quarts down?

We also return you to Christine Emba's column in the Washington Post. The headline complained about Barr's "hairsplitting." But is it possible that Emba's skill levels were just a bit down when she penned this pungent passage?
EMBA (5/4/19): There was faux ignorance [on Barr's part]. "Could you repeat that question?" pleaded Barr to Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), who had asked whether the White House ever suggested that he open an investigation into anyone, which would be a clear abuse of power. "I'm trying to grapple with the word 'suggest,'" as though he was hearing the word for the first time.
Granted, that mocking passage in Emba's column pleased the "liberal" base. But Emba's paraphrase greatly simplified Harris' original question—and, as Maddow would later do, Emba forgot to mention the passages where it seemed that Barr had answered.

A person could call that selective quotation—and an example of skill levels down!

Viewed from the technical standpoint, basic skill levels were notably down on the part of Harris, Maddow and Emba. The same can be said of Elliott Williams, who fumbled through a discussion of this exchange for his namesake, Brian Williams, last Friday night.

Brian Williams didn't utter a peep of protest about the skill levels put on display.

Last evening, one future scholar stressed the way skill level breakdowns tend to track the basic human desire to tell the approved tribal tale. "That endless longing for gossip and fiction," this disconsolate scholar exclaimed. "It's much as Harari once said!"

A pitiable moment followed as the scholar moved from academic analysis to a brief reminiscence:

"How I wish I could be back in my sophomore-year study carrel reading Coming of Age in Samoa!" So this disconsolate future anthropologist ever so sadly said.

Once again, we marveled at the insights conveyed to us from the post-Trumpian future. We awoke to the 1 AM rerun of Lawrence O'Donnell as this disconsolate future scholar despaired of past skill levels down.

Tomorrow: Moving on to possible tribal shaping concerning What Donald Trump Said


  1. Once again Somerby predicts Trump will start a war. This blogger suggests there is no reason for Trump to do that when he is already at war with the Democrats:

  2. "Viewed as a political matter, her questioning was a triumph."

    Triumph? Puh-leeze, Bob.

    You could say that it was deliberate. But of course no one other than the liberal zombies is impressed.

  3. Here is an oddness in Somerby's post today:

    "How I wish I could be back in my sophomore-year study carrel reading Coming of Age in Samoa!" So this disconsolate future anthropologist ever so sadly said. "

    Somerby selectively uses Harari as a rhetorical gambit then refers to a book that was debunked in the 1990s as made up to support Mead's preconceptions about Tahiti, narrative in support of behaviorist beliefs by an anthropological novice who wrote what she wanted to believe instead of documenting what was real about the culture she visited. Her book became a bestseller, but it was wrong, as was proven by subsequent anthropologists. This is an odd choice for Somerby use in this manner in an essay about mistakes by today's press. It suggests Somerby himself has no idea that the book was wrong, although he probably did read it in his Sophomore class. Everyone did.

    Fondly musing about a book that is bunk, after a lengthy column that presents Harris's questioning in order to make her seem inept, gives the impression that Somerby either has no idea who is good at this stuff and who isn't, or is willing to misrepresent facts himself in order to support his chosen viewpoint -- that Harris was a bad prosecutor so she will not be a good president, but the press likes her so they are awful -- or whatever screwed up message he has today. Hard to know if he is supporting Barr or undermining Harris to keep her from challenging Bernie, or he just doesn't like uppity brown women, or what his agenda is.

    Harris did fine questioning Barr, who refused to answer her question and so she moved on to another one. Somerby's attempt to make Harris seem inept or incompetent doesn't work. He just makes himself sound like a querulous old man who is trying to make reality fit his opinions, much as Mead did in her first field study.

    1. I don’t think it’s odd that TDH should refer to Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa (which has nothing to do with Tahiti, which is about 2300 miles from Samoa). I think it has to do with TDH’s fascination with tribal behavior, which is not a reference to Samoans.

      The first division of ranks to consider is between the nature and nurture camps. Mead sought to show that the turbulence of American adolescence was a cultural artifact and not biologically determined. Thus her book documents the supposedly more peaceful and idyllic Samoan experience as compared to the troubled and turbulent American experience.

      Moreover, Mead aligned herself with the “interpretative” school of anthropologists, which stood in stark contrast to the “positivist” “sociobiologists,” who believed in a data-driven, scientific approach to anthropology with the investigator as the objective, disinterested measuring device. Anthropologists like Mead don’t believe in such an ideal and consider their job to discover how members of a culture interpret their experiences, which include interactions with the investigator herself. This is dangerously close to the “interpretation of texts” of the postmodern bullshit approach to literature.

      That Mead’s book was a popularized literary account was sure to annoy the data collectors, especially since the book became a lionized bestseller. Mead’s description of dawn over Samoa when “lovers slip home from trysts beneath the palm trees” led British anthropologist Evans-Pritchard to deride Mead as belonging the “rustling-of-the-wind-in-the-palm-trees school.” Others considered her more of a novelist than the author of a scientific treatise.

      Your claim that Mead’s book was “debunked in the 1990s” is far from accurate. The main debunker was Derek Freeman who wrote two books, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth (1983) and The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research (1993). Freeman claimed that Mead had been hoaxed by her informants, one of whom, then in her eighties, told Freeman that she and her friends were only joking about their sexual activities but that Mead took them seriously.

      In the same year that Freeman’s first book was published, the American Anthropological Association held a special session at their annual meeting to discuss the book. In a move that would likely delight TDH, they didn’t invite Freeman to the session during which he and his work were roundly panned.

      Not entirely without reason. Mead’s research material, which she gave to the Library of Congress, showed she was familiar with the joking nature of her informants. Moreover, Freeman was hardly the disinterested investigator: he lived in Samoa during the 1940s, was adopted into a Samoan family, and was given a chiefly title. Moreover, his observations were of a society changed from the time of Mead’s 1925-1926 visits by the deleterious introduction of Christianity. There are actually three camps — the pro-Freeman debunkers, the pro-Mead debunkers-debunked, and those who think that both Mead and Freeman were full of shit.

      And naturally, the whiny precious snowflakes that are the campus “conservatives” have made this a political issue casting Mead as a member of liberal ivory-tower crowd.

      I think TDH’s point is that it’s tribal anthropology all the way down, including anthropology.

      But I may be overthinking this.

    2. AnonymousMay 9, 2019 at 11:25 AM

      Somerby is not an anthropologist - or any ist, his lack of expertise is forgivable.

      deadratMay 10, 2019 at 1:37 AM

      Thanks for the arguably pointless copy and pasting from your internet research. If the weather is good where you are, can't see how taking a walk would be anything but beneficial.

      Pacific Islanders have an unusually high rate of STIs.

    3. If you find my comments pointless, then the solution is simple: stop reading them. It seems you're not interested commenting on the substance of what I wrote, so this seems the logical path to take. I'm posting to hear the sound of my own voice anyway, so I'll not mourn your absence.

      I have never read Mead's book, but I knew about it and the controversy surrounding it. So I looked it up to get my facts straight. I recommend that to you. None of what I wrote is copy-pasted, which you can check for yourself.

      The weather is good today, and a walk is on my schedule, as is exercise every day, either outside when weather permits or at a gym when it's inclement. Thanks for your concern.

    4. If you are suggesting you wrote something of substance, your claim is far from accurate. The sound of your voice is akin to the sound of a kitten caught in a tree.

      Mead’s book and it’s controversy are common knowledge. Your surface exploration into the details may or may not be literally copy-pasted, but in essence it is what you did, as you self-admit.

      Strangely you seem to think some concern was expressed about your physical health. Fly on cowboy shadow, it’s a desert because it’s a desert.

    5. Oh, it's my own personal troll. Welcome back. I knew you couldn't stay away. Please keep using my nym so I won't waste time on you. I'll keep using my Google id.

      Strangely, you seem to think you're my harshest critic, but, bitch, if you can't help replying to my comments, you're really my biggest fan.

    6. Sorry I am not whatever odd and confused reference you are attempting, I would encourage you to google id, there's potential for reform in that action.

      My criticism is mild, I am not sure why you are so triggered because I can see others here criticize you much more harshly than I; that said, it is you who is clinging to my belt loop.

  4. Speaking of Zombies, we have yet to hear a response from Mao, the idiot, or Dave in Cal about whether they would let Trump invest their money. Even though his business acumen is terrible, these two will stick by him because their irrational hatred of liberals is so strong they don't care what Trump does to the country. In other words, they don't let facts influence their opinions.

    1. Alan, I did respond. I said I would let Trump manage some of my money, but not all. He has made money in total, but there were investments of his that did terribly.

      Then I asked you whether you would let Barack Obama or Joseph Biden invest your money.

    2. How do you know whether he made money in total? He hasn’t released his taxes. The ones in the Times show losses. Also, even if he made money, how do you know if he made it legally?

    3. Anonymous @1:53P,

      I can’t tell you from the other Anonymi here, but in case this is your first encounter with David in Cal, let me warn you that you’re dealing with a moral and intellectual idiot, in fact, this commentariat’s Village Idiot. He in incapable of rational judgment and will swallow whole any right-wing propaganda, which he unfailingly regurgitates here. This isn’t his fault, of course. We don’t impute responsibility or independent agency to idiots.

      He would let Trump manage some, but not all of his money. And he would thereby lose some, but not all of his money. Just as Trump’s investors found out when they invested some of their money with Trump. Just as US banks figured out when they stopped lending to him. Would you invest your money with someone who went bankrupt operating a casino?

      Of course not. So why argue with someone who would?

      Would you let Obama or Biden invest your money? Of course not. They’re not in the investment business. So why argue with someone who thinks that’s a valid comparison?

    4. Obama finally paid off his student loans the year he decided to run for president.

    5. Heh heh. deadrat, you never fail to amuse, or sometimes, enlighten.


  5. Harris didn't ask four questions. She asked first if the president had asked Barr to investigate anyone, yes or no. When he didn't respond yes or no to that, she broadened it to include anyone else, not just the president. When he didn't answer that one, she asked whether anyone had suggested, then hinted, then inferred (implied?). This came in succession but was not a single compound question that may have confused Barr. Barr obviously didn't want to answer, no matter how Harris put it to him.

    Somerby wants to confuse this issue, as if there were something wrong with Harris's questioning and the praise for Harris were misplaced. He then wants to suggest that the press has its own narrative by praising Harris. You could as easily suggest that Republicans watching this exchange would hear something different because of their political viewpoints and their different assignment of heroes and villains. That may be the case, but it doesn't change what happened. Barr didn't answer the question in any form and it was a good one for Harris to ask, given the president's repeated calls for investigation of the "orange" of investigation and Hillary's Russian collusion and so on.

    Up is not down, one is not two, white is not black. There may be someone so weak minded that they can be confused by Somerby's nonsense, but that doesn't change facts. And this is not a liberal blog and Somerby is no liberal and Trump is the worst president ever and he must be impeached, soon.

    There are no future anthropologists who will hold Harari in esteem, or Somerby.

  6. We are talking about the Attorney General of the United States of America, a political appointment subject the Senate confirmation and congressional oversight.

    The context of the hearing was in the wake of his blatant abuse of his office in handling the Mueller report. No one even pauses to consider what in the fuck this hack was doing sitting in that seat when there was no legitimate reason to fire Sessions just in time to appoint a hack to intercept the report, knowing Rosenstein would be too conscientious and weak to pull the kind of shit Barr did. All part of the same coverup.

    Barr did everything but stick his middle finger at the Democratic committee members.

    And TDH is fixated on this one question.

    1. Well said, sir. But picking fleas off of the Fourth Estate's conduct is what he has always done, even though he's often pulled at the scabs on society related to our MSM.

      And I agree with Bob that the rules governing questioning seem antiquated. Wonder why they even exist?


  7. A single supposedly poorly-phrased question from a single Democratic Senator is not an isolated example of incompetence in Somerby’s view. It typifies the alleged fact that basic skill levels and leadership are down, not just within the mainstream (ie non-right-wing) media, but also within the Democratic Party/liberal/progressive tribe. Somerby broadcasts his agenda in his header: “A unified theory of Skill Levels Down”. This makes it pretty clear that his intent is to show, by cherry-picked examples that he posts about for days on end, that journalism *and liberals* are failures. He needs to change his motto to that instead of “musings on the mainstream "press corps" and the american discourse.”

  8. “Al Gore was the world's biggest liar”

    So far, Somerby has called Elizabeth Warren a “terrible politician”, Hillary Clinton a “very poor candidate”, and now attacks Harris’ “skills.”

    He provided no reason for his judgments of Warren or Hillary. He is now engaged in creating yet another narrative, this one about Harris, based on a single question in a hearing.

    He never said these kinds of things about either Bill Clinton or Al Gore. He focused solely on the way the press treated them.

    He just needs to take his thinking to its logical conclusion to understand that Bill Clinton’s “skills” were poor when he did that thing with Monica and the way he handled it after it came out, thus leading to an entirely gratuitous impeachment.

    Perhaps he is blinded by personal bias towards his old pal and roommate, but he needs to see that Al Gore was a poor candidate. Surely a stronger candidate wouldn’t have succumbed to puerile complaints from TV bozos about three-buttoned suits, cowboy boots, or sighing. Nor would a stronger candidate have lost to a bozo like W.

    Trump was subjected to massive negative coverage, and yet he won. Against a very poor candidate at that.

    1. “So far, Somerby has called Elizabeth Warren a 'terrible politician, Hillary Clinton a very poor candidate, and now attacks Harris’ skills.'"
      If Somerby said that about Warren, it was I believe in the context of the whole Pocahontas thing. When someone like her doubles down on the fact that she’s qualified to be Native American, that shows a true lack of political judgment. I love Warren, btw.

      As far as Clinton, calling Trump’s base a “basket of deplorables” was indeed politically inapropos, even idiotic from a political perspective. I voted for Clinton because I had no other choice (which is of course arguable).

      “He provided no reason for his judgments of Warren or Hillary. He is now engaged in creating yet another narrative, this one about Harris, based on a single question in a hearing.”

      In fact, this is what he wrote:

      “Viewed as a technical matter, this was unskilled questioning. Basic skill levels were way, way down as Harris rushed past the welter of questions lodged in her complex ask.”

      That's an assessment of Harris' questioning viewed as a technical matter. Viewed as a political matter, her questioning was a triumph, according to the liberal media. Parse more carefully.

      He did go on to say that Harris’s skill levels were way down, which is disappointing since he acknowledged the limitations she had to deal with. But that disappointing assessment was a means to segue into his main mission: Taking down the idiot Maddow.

      Yawn. But from Barr’s testimony, it’s pretty obvious that the idea of “investigating someone” was in the air. But answered the question, in fact: “They have not asked me to open an investigation.” After that, the line of questioning faltered. And for good reason, Harris “didn’t have time to follow up”, which may be construed as “This is going nowhere.”

      So it goes.


      P.S. Don’t recall if Somerby ever criticized Clinton over his behavior. He was then, like many others, obsessed over the malfeasance of the MSM’s hunt for Clinton’s cock. Clinton was a really shitty President, and did a lot of damage, but to hang him for that was, well, politics.

  9. Barr’s answer to Harris’ question should have been a simple “no”, but instead he turned it into a convoluted pile of excrement, clearly showing he has something to hide.

  10. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that John Kerry "should be prosecuted" for allegedly violating the Logan Act through his conversations with Iran

    It seems to me that this comment constitutes a "suggestion" that the Justice Dept investigate Kerry.

    1. Which likely shows Barr was lying.

      By the way, when is all of that “negotiation by unauthorized persons with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States” that the Trump campaign did going to get prosecuted?

    2. It sure as fuck does, comrade. Yes, we all are painfully aware that the ignorant son of a bitch demented megalomaniacal lunatic makes wildly improper rantings every fucking day. Ho hum.

      But the question Harris asked the AG "Coverup" Billybarr was specifically whether Donald j Chickenshit had asked HIM to investigate anyone. You know, the chief law enforcement officer in the country. Kind of an important question to ask the fucking AG of the United States of America! Jackass.

      By the way, do you think it would be proper for Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, to suggest the AG investigate his political opponent as he already did when Sessions was serving King Kingshit? You ok with that? Is that the new standard we all will live by?

    3. mm -- this was a point I didn't make clearly the other day. If the President believes someone has violated federal law, is it improper to suggest that he be investigated? Is the answer different if the supposed lawbreaker is a member of the opposite political party?

    4. 7:03,
      Both you, and the corporate-owned media, should stop reporting what politicians believe, and just report what they say they believe.
      Are all Republicans economic morons, who can't perform basic arithmetic? Maybe, but until we know for sure, the media should just report what politicians say they believe, because they have no idea what politicians truly believe.

    5. OK, @8:40. So, if Trump says he believes Kerry has violated federal law, thus implicitly suggesting a Justice Dept investigation, has Trump done something wrong?

  11. Haven't even watched this yet, but I like Hedges and Taibbi.



  12. Alas, TDH has wandered off deeply into the weeds.

    As we showed you yesterday, Harris' original question had a compound subject and a compound predicate. As we showed you yesterday, it was really four questions in one.

    This is true, as a matter of English grammar, but the hearing wasn’t about English syntax. The proper consideration is semantics, and understanding the meaning of the exchange goes beyond spotting compound sentence constructs. Fluent speakers understand what they hear in a language by considering the context of what is said (and what is omitted) as well as the tone and presentation of what they hear and see.

    The context here is one lawyer questioning another. In fact, the exchange was between two Attorneys General. Harris had to know that Barr was a partisan hack and had been since the administration of Bush the Elder. If that wasn’t enough for Harris to know that Barr would act as Trump’s personal lawyer and not as the head of the Department of Justice, then Barr’s lying presentation of the Mueller report was in evidence. Both Barr and Harris know that perjury requires knowingly making a strictly-false statement under oath about a material matter. The rules are indeed strict: the merely misleading doesn’t count.

    TDH claims that Harris was in a rush and failed to get a clear answer to her query. He also claims that Barr did answer the question of whether anyone asked or suggested or hinted that he open an improper investigation. Here’s Barr’s reply:

    I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t — Could you repeat the question? … I’m trying to grapple with the word suggest. I mean, there have been discussion of matters out there that … They have not asked me to open an investigation, but…. I wouldn’t say suggest …. I don’t know.

    He wouldn’t do or say something because he didn’t understand the question. He doesn’t understand the meaning of the word suggest. He was not asked but. But what? Something, but not something he’d call a suggestion. And finally, he just doesn’t know what people said to him.

    Grammatical analysis won’t help here, and, as Harris surely knew, neither will more questioning. But any fluent speaker of English needs neither and will infer that Barr participated in serious discussions with Trump or with Trump’s approval about investigating Hillary. Barr thinks he can defend the position that he was given no direct orders (“not asked”), but there was in ordinary parlance, more than a suggestion to him.

    The web of words that Harris used to entangle Barr is part of the dialect of English (and American) law in which a string of synonyms is employed to try to make a directive as free as possible of exploitable loopholes. Your will likely says “give, devise, and bequeath.” (Please no quibbles about the difference between real and personal property.) 18USC242 prohibits government agents from using their authority to deprive people of civil rights. The section’s title uses the phrase “under the color law,” but the section itself says “under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom.”

    Harris was asking whether Barr knew about an impeachable abuse of power by Trump in directing, commanding, asking, suggesting, or implying that an improper investigation be launched against a target of Trump’s ire. If such never occurred, all Barr had to say was “never happened.” Instead he gave the reply in italics above in all its elliptical glory.

    TDH has to indulge in literal-mindedness to call Harris’ questioning “unskilled” “when viewed as a technical matter,” but even he can see that as a “political matter,” it was a “triumph,” of exposing a liar in abject service to a grifter.

    1. deadrat, I tip my hat to you.

    2. I'm a trial lawyer. The word 'suggest' is somewhat open ended. If you are questioning a witness, and you wanted to pin him/her down, you can ask if someone suggested something - but to really do it you need to ask, and get an answer, to what the person presumably making the suggestion actually said. Whether what someone says is a 'suggestion' isn't always clear - to be clear on it, you need to know the words that were said, or at least the substance of the words.

    3. mm, Thanks. Vivo ut serviam.

    4. Alas, Barr was not on trial. At the hearing, he could run out the clock, and there was no judge to chide him for being unresponsive. I doubt Harris figured she’d be able to corner Barr into admitting an untoward exchange with Trump or one of Trump’s lackeys acting under Trump’s direction. Which pretty much eliminates getting to know the words.

      At times, English seems infinitely flexible, which makes it hard to pin down liars. Suppose we have evidence that Trump said, “I want Hillary investigated and indicted.”

      When the boss says want in this context, it’s idiomatic for an imperative. Want expressing a requirement surfaces in the colloquial “This wants doing,” and If the boss says, “I want that report on my desk first thing Monday morning,” subordinates will understand that working the weekend is mandatory.

      But want can also express a wish: “I don’t want to work on that report this weekend. I want to be lying on a beach and soaking up some rays.” So Barr could claim in this hypothetical that Trump didn’t issue an order to investigate Hillary; he merely expressed a wish. If nobody actually took steps to initiate an investigation, then it’s hard to say Barr’s claim would be perjury.

    5. This point has been made over and over again in comments, generally more succinctly, and in the media, yet TDH persists in bungling this issue, blind to context.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. I stand chastised, nice post deadrat.


    8. Leroy,

      Thanks, but I intended no chastisement.

    9. I doubt Harris wanted to pin him down, so the word suggest was deliberate. I think Harris wanted to squeeze Barr and see if he would reveal his corrupt nature.

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