IN HOC SIGNO, WARFARE: Big stars pretend to find thrilling new claim!

FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2019

Being There, Mueller edition:
We're so old that we can remember when a major American tribe was marching off to war under the "R-T" sign.

The "R-T" stood for "racist tweet," a description of the latest astonishing public statements by the apparently deranged American president, Donald J. Trump. On cable, corporate hacks took numbers and stood in line, eager to display their tribal good faith by repeating the crucial term "racist."

These hacks had never shown the slightest sign of taking interest in any topic connected with racial justice. But humans have always behaved in this way. This take us back long before Constantine I's Chi-Rho sign:

According to major experts, the species has always been wired to divide itself into the tribal groups known as Us and Them. Tribal members identified themselves by their public adherence to tribal "fictions" or group beliefs. They often did so by the display of the appropriate tribal sign.

("Have we learned nothing from Professor Harari?" one disconsolate future expert glumly and recently said.)

We're so old that we can remember when our own tribe marched under the R-T sign. This takes us all the way back to last weekend, with emanations on The 11th Hour as recently as Wednesday night.

That said, that was then and this is now, and now we're hoping to march to war beneath the R-S-M sign. The letters stand for Robert S. Mueller, who appeared before Congress this week.

In the face of a truly awful performance by the "halting," routinely befuddled Mueller, cable stars were pretending, last night, that he had spoken in oracular fashion, perhaps a bit like Chance the Gardener in the 1979 film, Being There.

According to future anthropologists, human tribes always behaved in such ways when building toward war with The Others. In that admittedly high-brow sense, the performance on "cable news" last night was an anthropological event.

Corporate stars got busy persuading the legions that important new information and claims had emerged from Mueller's appearance. Nowhere was the tribal nonsense more thick than on The Last Word.

Lawrence played excerpts of Mueller's testimony in alleged response to questions from Rep. Val Demings, a well-regarded former police chief. This occurred in the Wednesday afternoon hearing. This session was widely hailed, within the tribe, as the one where Mueller really cut loose after finally getting warmed up.

Below, you see the first exchange Lawrence aired last night. (To watch the full segment, click here.) As viewers, we were expected to ignore the long, peculiar pause during which Mueller seemed to seek help from the assistant beside him:
DEMINGS (7/24/19): Director Mueller, I too want to focus on the written responses that the president did provide and the continued efforts to lie and cover up what happened during the 2016 election. Were the president's answers submitted under oath?

MUELLER: [Long, peculiar pause as Mueller seems to seek assistance]

Yes. Yes.
It was one of about three million times that Mueller seemed befuddled that day by the most elementary facts at the heart of his report.

Despite this awkwardness, so what? Experts say that humans were wired to bluster past all possible doubt when they began to march themselves off to tribal war.

Before bringing Demings on as a guest, Lawrence played a few more excerpts from her five-minute "weekend with Mueller." This was the last exchange shown:
DEMINGS: Director Mueller, isn’t it fair to say that the president’s written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete because he didn’t answer many of your questions, but where he did, his answers show that he wasn’t always being truthful?

MUELLER: There—uh— I would say—uh [pause]

"Generally!" That was one of Mueller's standard one-word answers this day. It's hard to know what this attempt at an answer meant in this particular context, and Demings made no attempt to identify specific written statements which had been judged untruthful.

Instead, Demings went on to author a speech built around the tribal word "lie." According to future scholars, we humans always behaved this way during our short term on earth:
DEMINGS (continuing directly): “Generally.”

Director Mueller, it’s one thing for the president to lie to the American people about your investigation, falsely claiming that you found no collusion and no obstruction. But it's something else altogether for him to get away with not answering your questions and lying about them. And as a former law enforcement officer of almost 30 years, I find that a disgrace to our criminal justice system.
Where had Trump lied in his written answers? In fact, had Mueller actually made that charge? There was no attempt to nail such points down. Warfare unfolds in this manner.

We know of no reason to assume that Trump's written answers were actually truthful. Trump's persistent, lunatic misstatements are a key part of the dangerous pathology the press corps has agreed not to discuss or explore.

That said, Mueller's reaction to Demings' last question was halting, unsure, imprecise. No one tried to determine what he had meant by his own-word reply, or if he'd really meant anything at all.

Having noticed these problems, so what? Lawrence brought Demings on last night, hailing her as the type of person you want for your chief of police. To be honest, she struck us as perhaps the type of self-convinced true believer you may not always want in such a post.

Whatever the truth about that may be, the legions are now being told to believe that some new, important claim emerged from Demings' session with Mueller. "Humans always behaved this way," top experts advised us last night, speaking to us from the future and also in the past tense.

Our tribe is marching off to war under various signs. We especially love the "racist" sign, but we may love the "liar" sign even more.

As we prepare for a brief stay in Maine, we thought you might like to see the fuller transcript of Mueller's bold "statement" to Demings. Here as elsewhere, the witness actually said very little in the course of the five-minute exchange.

This part of the exchange could almost serve as a parody of meaningful human discourse. For the full transcript, click here:
DEMINGS: Let’s go through some of [Trump's written] answers to take a closer look at his credibility, because it seems to me, Director Mueller, that his answers were not credible at all.

Did some of President Trump’s incomplete answers relate to Trump Tower Moscow?


DEMINGS: For example, did you ask the president whether he had had at any time, directed or suggested that, that discussions about Trump Moscow project should cease?

MUELLER: Should what?


MUELLER: Do you have a citation?

DEMINGS: Yes. We’re still in Appendix C, Section 1, 7.

MUELLER: The first page?

DEMINGS: Yes. Because the president did not answer whether he had at any time directed or suggested that discussions about the Trump Moscow project should cease, but he has since made public comments about this topic.

MUELLER: OK. And the question was?

DEMINGS: Did the president— Well, let me go on to the next.

Did the president fully answer that question in his written statement to you about the Trump Moscow project ceasing? Again, in Appendix C.

MUELLER: No. And can you direct me to the particular paragraph you're referring to?

DEMINGS: It would be Appendix C-C1, but let me move forward.

Nine days after he submitted his written answers, didn’t the president say publicly that he, quote, “decided not to do the project,“ unquote. And that is in your report.

MUELLER: I am not— I’d ask you— I’d ask you if you would to point out the particular paragraph that you’re focused on.

DEMINGS: OK, we can move on.
Fighting to beat the five-minute rule, delayed by Mueller's general incomprehension, Demings had to keep "movin' on."

Soon she had to finish up. This is the way that rolled:
DEMINGS: Director Mueller, for example, the president is written as, or stated he did not recall having advanced knowledge of WikiLeaks releases, is that correct?

MUELLER: I think that’s what he said.

DEMINGS: But didn’t your investigation uncover evidence that the president did in fact have advanced knowledge of WikiLeaks public releases of e-mails damaging to his opponent?

MUELLER: And I can’t get in to that area.

DEMINGS: Did your investigation determine after very careful vetting or Rick Gates and Michael Cohen’s that you found them to be credible?

MUELLER: That we found the president to be credible?

DEMINGS: That you found Gates and Cohen to be credible in their statements about WikiLeaks—

MUELLER: Those are areas I’m not going to discuss.

DEMINGS: OK. Could you say Director Mueller that the president was credible?

MUELLER: I can’t answer that question.
With that, Demings posed her final question, the first question we posted above. She asked if Trump was always being truthful in the written answers he submitted.

To our eye, Mueller seemed confused and unsure on the way to "Generally." Can anyone really say they feel sure about what Mueller meant?

In our view, it's clear that something is badly wrong with the sitting president. That said, it's also clear that Director Mueller was struggling hard all through Wednesday's sessions.

Still and all, the tribe is currently eager for war, not unlike the Southern boys at the start of Gone With the Wind. On cable news, the endless promise that war is coming has proved to be very good business.

You hear about that and about little else! In the way which has always been standard among Homo sapiens, the stars were cutting corners last night, trying to rally the legions.

It seems to us that Donald Trump is in the grip of some version of "mental illness." Inevitably, our press corps decided, early last year, that this dangerous possibility must never be discussed.

Instead, we're being sold a product. The progression on cable news is easy to define:

After the Mueller probe began, we were told that the bravest, wisest person on earth was going to frog-march everyone out of the White House. This kept us liberals coming back to cable news for more.

When the Mueller report appeared and Mueller had done no such thing, we were told that Mueller would rock the world when he appeared before Congress. This kept hope alive.

When Mueller appeared before Congress this week, he was remarkably other than advertised. Result?

Last night, the cable stars were instructing us that we shouldn't believe our own lyin' eyes concerning what happened this week. They urged us to think that important new claims had emerged from Wednesday's events.

How much are they paid to tell you these things? Despite their vast love for transparency, you aren't allowed to know that! They just keep us keepin' on. No other topic matters.

According to leading future experts, our species repeatedly marched to war under various tribal signs. These wars routinely came at great cost, these scholars despondently tell us.

Night after night, they remind us of the realm from which they deliver the nocturnal transmissions the haters deride as mere dreams. They speak to us from the years which follow the global conflagration they refer to as Mister Trump's War.

The run-up to war was fun while it lasted, these top future experts have said. And with that, it's onward to next week's "debates!" Just think how much fun we'll all have!


  1. Facebook friends of mine are enthusiastically endorsing a post from MoveOn saying that Trump should be prosecuted for his crimes after he leaves office. They believe that Trump committed obvious crimes for which he can be convicted.

    1. How are you going to get a jury with no Trump supporters on it?

    2. David, why don't you tell everyone here about your theory of why you voted for Donald J. Chickenshit.

      Tell everyone how you decided he would use his lifelong talent for doing evil for himself and his family of liars beggars and thieves, for the country.

      I am sure there are some new readers here who haven't seen that insane garbage rationalization bullshit. The absolute dumbest motherfucking thing you've written here, and that's saying something. Go ahead, you treasonous bastard, it's Friday, we all need a good laugh.

    3. "They believe that Trump committed obvious crimes for which he can be convicted."

      But of course they do: The Bombshell, The Tipping Point, The Walls Are Closing In, The Beginning Of The End.

      We know, heard it before, a million times. From dembots and other hate-mongering zombie cult clowns.

    4. Hello and Greetings mm!

      Your comment lends itself to a very natural consideration that can be aptly summarized by recalling the Socratic method by which a question can be answered with another question:

      Upon realizing a sharply foul odor in a crowded elevator, do you:

      a) ignore it, saying nothing while suffering through the obnoxious smell

      b) deny any and all involvement in its production

      c) blame it on the person to your left

      d) claim complete responsibility for its production, even if you didn't produce it

      If you chose option d, then you should definitely check out my favorite site,! You will be most pleased and find my complete response to your comment.

      Thank you,


  2. The Congresspeople had spent hours with their staffs cooking up rather complex and highly leading questions. Mueller is not a politician and it is not really his job to snap back answers to this stuff in real time. So the idea that he was befuddled is overdrawn, but of course he did not show himself to be that superman that some Democratic partisans were expecting.

    1. We ought to be careful and draw a distinction between the media hype surrounding Mueller (which did exist) and what Democrats actually said about him. There are zero references to him as any kind of “superman” coming from Schiff, Nadler, Pelosi, or any of them really. They always thought the report was important, but that’s a far cry from any “Superman” narrative. Once again, we fall for a media narrative.

    2. Yeah, yeah, yeah...typical of media deflection line "there's no evidence of that." Are you joking? Left clearly believed and cheered on Mueller and were giddy thinking how report would destroy DJT. I suppose there was no evidence of biased media on election night 2016 too (and the TDS everyday since).

    3. There was plenty of biased media on election night 2016.
      I clearly remember the media pretending to care that Conservatives were pretending to care that Hillary Clinton used a private server for official government business.
      You don't see the media pretending to care that Ivanka and Jared are using them now, do you?

      The corporate media has always been biased to the Right-wing of the USA.

  3. "...that he had spoken in oracular fashion, perhaps a bit like Chance the Gardener in the 1979 film, Being There."

    Heh. Well said, dear Bob, good catch, exactly right.

    However, let's be fair: judging by the exchanges quoted in your post, your liberal zombie clowns didn't need or want his answers.

    All they wanted was to parrot their zombie script. And they did that, even if poor Mr Mueller, their designated sidekick, didn't help much.

    1. We don't call him Donald J. Chickenshit for nothing, dittohead. Refused for more than a year to be interviewed by Mueller's team. Even after repeatedly boasting to the country how eager he was to do so. Then is given an open book take home exam which he did not respond to honestly or completely. Then he simply ignored Mueller's follow up questions. Donald J. Chickenshit, Acting President. good job, Dittohead, I see you managed to pull your head out of limpdick's anal cyst infected ass for a brief moment.

    2. Sorry for your pain bro. The only process "crimes" occurred DURING the investigation...I called this B4 Mueller probe started that there would be some BS perjury charges that would eventually be dropped ...It was obvious The lies about the extent of Russian success was over-hyped by Barry, who rigged the conspiracy theory and a failed sting operation set up by his weaponized Intel agencies and dutifully reported by propagandist press, suddenly uninterested in POTUS outrageous abuse of power to take down political opponent. Dems must keep lying about Mueller and Russian BS to deflect from Barry's culpability, who BTW, was in charge (but never held accountable) when the supposed Russian hacking occurred.

    3. Newt Gingrich helped Obama set up the sting against Republicans, and then Brett Kavanaugh amplified it in the press.
      Don't expect the biased media to tell you that truth.

  4. Narrative:

    ‘a truly awful performance by the "halting," routinely befuddled Mueller’

    (Somerby is loath to read states of mind that would imply “lying” by the president, but he will quite casually determine that Mueller was “befuddled.” He acts like a subpar Chuck Todd-level media pundit by judging Mueller on his “performance”, an inherently subjective exercise, rather than on the more substantive aspects, the public revealing of facts as found in the Mueller report. Why, I’m so old I can remember when media pundits ignored the substance of what Al Gore said and discussed sighs and suit jackets, and when Somerby cared about revealing that press behavior.)

    MUELLER: [Long, peculiar pause as Mueller seems to seek assistance]

    (Nice stage directions, Bob. Aiming to be a playwright? The actual transcript contains no such subjective descriptions, but Somerby chooses to put his own impressions in bold type, to emphasize them to his gullible claques. How long was the “pause?” A second, perhaps. How peculiar was it? Only Somerby, the writer of this novel, knows. )

    “Corporate stars got busy persuading the legions that important new information and claims had emerged from Mueller's appearance.”

    (No mention was made of “new” claims in that O’Donnell segment , just important factual information being brought out. Also, many corporate media giants are saying that Mueller’s performance was awful, a view that Somerby endorses (See yesterday’s post for his approvingly quoting a Times story that supports his view.)

    “Trump's persistent, lunatic misstatements are a key part of the dangerous pathology the press corps has agreed not to discuss or explore.”

    (Trump shouldn’t be called a liar, but he should, on the other hand, be called a lunatic. Ok. Also, as has been noted before, O’Donnell had Bandy Lee on his show to discuss her book about Trump’s supposed mental illness, but let’s not let facts get in the way of Somerby’s beautiful novelized edifice. We will file this in the “untruthful” drawer along with his bizarre claims in 2018 that MSNBC had not discussed the refugee crisis at the border, when there was, in fact, nonstop coverage. Also, Congresswoman Demings focused precisely on *Trump’s untruthful answers and misstatements to Mueller.* Mueller affirmed they were untruthful. Whether you think they are lies or merely “untruthful”, or evidence of lunacy, they pinpoint precisely a key part of Trump’s “dangerous pathology”. Indeed, the entire Mueller report is a documentation of this)

    Somerby’s whole exercise is pointless. He has for years scoffed at the Mueller investigation and the charges coming out of it, so his mind was already made up long before the hearings. It wouldn’t have mattered if Mueller had “performed” differently.

    1. Somerby and Chuck Todd (and the rest of the media) repeat Right-wing memes.

  5. I believe that Mueller was being careful in his answers. Conferring with an advisor/attorney is one way to do that. He doesn't want a casual misstatement to change how anything in the actual report is understood. He doesn't care whether he does this smoothly or glibly or cleverly because his career is over and he is retired and he does not have any public image to worry about. Further, he was not a public person before he retired and was brought back to supervise the investigation either.

    So this is clearly a smear job. It should be beneath Somerby to participate like this, but he demonstrates that he has not active ethics. That seems somehow worse for a past philosophy major who presumably studied ethics and morality.

    This is why I think Somerby is an ass.

  6. Hello and Greetings Amelia!

    I too am excited for you. This leads me to pose this important question for you to answer:

    If you find yourself in a crowded elevator and you suddenly realize a sharp foul odor, do you

    a) ignore the noxious smell the best you can

    b) deny any and all involvement in its production

    c) blame it on the person to your left

    d) claim complete responsibility for the smell, even if you didn't produce it!

    If you chose the last option, then you should definitely check out my favorite website, You will be most pleased.

    Thank you,


  7. At risk of simplification: To be fair, Trump typically OVERstates things while media intentionally MISStates. Everyone knows DJT's message rings true. Like Howard Stern, he says what people think (in a sensational way)but are afraid to say. Instead of being the public's watchdog, the media has morphed into the moral police, biased propagandists caring NOTHING about truth.

    1. "Trump typically OVERstates things."

      You mean he doesn't "tell it like it is?" Why did all those Trump voters, who are upset about the rigged economy*, and are definitely not bigots**, keep repeating that refrain?

      *except the part where Trump hands the economy to his Wall Street buddies

      ** LOL

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