The Times says goodbye to internal combustion!


What the Times said way back when: Several questions come to mind about our current state of rolling disintegration.

On the one hand, how can so many people believe in Pizzagate, in QAnon? How could so many people have believed in birtherism? In the long list of Clinton murders?

Those questions refer to the rise of the The Crazy which has occurred Over There. Concerning the sheer stupidity which has long been on display in Our Town, you have to consider the instant journalism which emerged about Whatever It Is That Donald McNeil May Actually Have Said.

We expect to look at that question early next week. For today, it's worth considering the stunning incompetence, mixed with devotion to Storyline, that has emerged at places like The Daily Beast.

Our team just isn't real sharp. If the nation plans to survive, we in Our Town badly need to come to terms with that fact.

We'll discuss McNeilGate next week. For today, we thought we'd venture back about twenty years, showing you where the lunacy was coming from at that time.

Our thoughts were trigged by a front-page report in today's New York Times. As far as we know, there's nothing wrong with today's report—but oh, the memories it triggered!

 Hard-copy headline included, this morning's front-page report starts like this:


The days of the internal combustion engine are numbered.

General Motors said Thursday that it would phase out petroleum-powered cars and trucks and sell only vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, a seismic shift by one of the world’s largest automakers...

"The days of the internal combustion engine are numbered!" As we read that opening sentence, memories lit the corners of our mind.

Were they misty watercolor memories of the way we were? Not exactly, no—they weren't. But in fairness, they came fairly close.

They were memories of one of the three hundred ways the New York Times, and other news orgs like it, conducted their punishment war against President Clinton in 1999 and 2000.

During the bulk of those two years, this punishment war was directed at Clinton's chosen successor, Candidate Al Gore. That's where our memories of the end of internal combustion come in.

The story goes something like this:

In 1992, Gore had published Earth in the Balance, a detailed book about climate change. As we've documented in some detail, the book was very favorably reviewed at the time. (Links are offered below.)

Now, though, it was 1999—and Gore was running for president as Bill Clinton's chosen successor. 

As you may recall, Clinton had engaged in ten acts of oral sex without getting the press corps' permission. This wanton behavior on Clinton's part had triggered a mighty war. 

By now, with impeachment over and done, the war was being waged against Gore, the only target still available.

Back in 1992, Earth in the Balance had been very favorably reviewed. Now, though, a war was on—and a Great Revision took place.

We'll start with Michiko Kakutani, Maureen Dowd's good friend and the New York Times' principal book reviewer at that time. 

In November 1999, Kakutani published a front-page report about several books which had been written by that year's presidential candidates. She devoted about 800 words to Earth in the Balance. 

Astoundingly, inexcusably, her treatment started like this:

KAKUTANI (11/22/99): Vice President Al Gore emerges from "Earth in the Balance" (Plume), his 1992 book about the environment, as the quintessential A-student who has belatedly discovered New Age psychobabble. Like his speeches, his book veers between detailed policy assessments (predictably illustrated with lots of charts and graphs) and high-decibel outbursts of passion, between energetically researched historical disquisitions and loony asides about "inner ecology" and "spiritual triangulation"—asides that may help explain his curious affinity with his feminist consultant, Naomi Wolf.

Upon its release, Gore's book had been praised for its erudition. Now it was marked by psychobabble, high-decibel outbursts and loony asides—loony asides which might help explain the "curious affinity" he seemed to maintain for "his feminist consultant."

Just so you'll know, this month of November had become the mainstream press corps' lunatic "month of Wolf." From October 31 on, it was the month in which our punditry savaged Gore for his deeply troubling wardrobe, but especially for that one tan or olive suit—an earth toned-suit which the lunatics said had been selected by Wolf. 

Wolf, of course, had played no role in the writing of Earth in the Balance. Beyond that, no one ever presented any evidence that she had told Gore to wear a suit which wasn't blue. No one ever explained why anyone was supposed to care if she, or anyone else, actually had offered any such advice.

For whatever it may be worth, Wolf had written three books of her own by that time. Two of her books had been selected as New York Times Books of the Year.

All such things were forgotten now because she was inexcusably serving as an adviser to Gore. In the ugliest, stupidest possible ways, Wolf was also being portrayed as a loon—and Kakutani was now saying that Gore's loony asides may help explain the curious affinity he seemed to feel for her.

Gore was being widely savaged for taking advice from the silly girl author—and yes, that type of language was widely used. (Only Bill Kristol complained.) More specifically, it was being widely recited that the ridiculous "man-woman" Gore had "hired a woman to teach him how to be a man." 

Working from this noxious, moronic framework, Kakutani managed to work three separate references to Wolf into the 800 words she wrote about Gore's once-lauded book. As we've described elsewhere in much more detail, her overall treatment of Earth in the Balance came to us straight from the loony bin. But the lunatics were now in charge, especially at the New York Times, and every good liberal either raced to play along or knew to avert their gaze.

At any rate, the gist of Kakutani's review was right there in that paragraph. With its loony asides and its psychobabble, Earth in the Balance was so strange that it could best be taken as a road map to Gore's curious affinity with a feminist fool.

Kakutani's review was a scam, but it came straight from the playbook. In conducting their punishment war against Gore, the children frequently suggested that he was possibly battling some sort of mental health issues.

Five months later, the Times returned to Earth in the Balance on the occasion of Earth Day. Disgracefully, this is the way Robin Toner decided to thumbnail the book:

TONER (4/14/00): "Earth in the Balance" has a strikingly reflective tone and is widely considered to be Mr. Gore's midlife crisis book, written when Mr. Gore was trying to recover from his disastrous 1988 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, while coping with the serious injuries of his son, who had been hit by a car.

Once, the book had been impressive. Now, it was widely considered to be Gore's “midlife crisis book!” This assessment was designed to make Gore loonier still!

For what it's worth, Toner was merely borrowing language from Kakutani. After discussing Gore's "loony asides," Kakutani was the one who first said that Gore had discussed some sort of "midlife crisis" in his very strange earlier book. 

That too was inexcusable amateur shrink-wrap. But the Times had put it in print, and Toner was now piling on.

Why did we think of this today? Because Gore had said, in Earth in the Balance, that might be possible to eliminate the internal combustion engine within the next twenty-five years. 

In 1999 and 2000, this suggestion was widely hailed as a further side of just how loony Gore was. In truth, there was nothing these idiots wouldn't say, nothing they wouldn't throw out there.

In Earth in the Balance, Gore had looked ahead to the coming end of internal combustion. Seven years later, the boys and girls were using this to portray him as a loon and a fool.

We've written about this particular matter at various points along the way. Links will be offered below.

What Kakutani wrote in the Times that day came straight from the land of the loons. Over the past few years, the throne in our nation's Crazy Town was seized by Donald J. Trump. But at that time, it was the boys and the girls of our elite mainstream press who sat on that chair all day long.

In the end, Kakutani got Bush elected. People are dead all over Iraq because of what she and the others did.

Frank Rich actually kept it up right to the day when Gore was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. At that point, he did a 180.

That is who, and that is what, these idiots actually are. 

Has Donald J. Trump been even nuttier? We don't feel real sure about that. We'll offer you some links below. You can consider a bit more detail about what these earlier maniacs did.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we all belong to a very strange species. In this particular instance, the guild maintained this disgraceful punishment war for years.

No one ever said a word. Dearest darlings, use your heads! It was careers in the balance!

Further reading: For more on Kakutani's front-page piece, you can just click here. You'll see excerpts from the reviews Earth in the Balance received in real time, before the war was on.

Here at The Howler, we discussed Kakutani's piece in real time. That was a total waste of time. Click here, and then click here.

For background on the end ofinternal combustion, just consider this:

Way back in January 1998, Rebecca Blumenstein had reported for the Wall Street Journal from the Detroit Auto Show. On page one, her opening sentence said this:

"Time is starting to run out for the internal combustion engine."

In her front-page report, Blumenstein quoted the chairman of GM. She said he "predicts a 'slow phase-off' of the internal-combustion engine in 20 to 30 years." 

Even then, the industry knew that Gore's prediction had basically been right.  Still, the bullshit rained on Gore's head. This was largely done here in Our Town, not among the various crazies who live Over There.

We recalled the Blumenstein piece today when we read the New York Times. For our utterly useless real-time report, you can just click here.

Our report appeared in April 1999. Their bullshit continued from there. The Times issued a correction concerning Wolf—in July 2007!

That's how it works in Our Town.


  1. Yes there is a clear equivalency between: (1) believing that the Clinton's had people murdered while running a child pornography ring out of a pizza parlor basement (which had no basement) while being lizard people disguised as politicians and celebrities, and (2) believing that minorities should have equal rights with the majority or that income inequality is bad and wealth should be redistributed?

    Somerby presents these as if they were equally crazy propositions. Do you agree with that?

    Personally, I think Somerby is promulgating more craziness here. He is fostering conservative hatred toward Democrats (and liberals) by portraying liberals as bad, just as crazy as the right, Somerby claims. We don't need more of that.

    If Somerby is worried about division in our country, he should be interviewing liberals to find out what we actually think and trying to address the myths on the right about Democrats being a bunch of socialists who had religion and want to propagandize children. But I haven't heard him address a single word to combat the craziness on the right. He just chastises the left for being liberal.

  2. The Daily Beast isn't "Our Town" or "over here" or part of any liberal press. It doesn't speak for liberals.

  3. Your Demigod Gore is not loony, dear Bob.

    He's a businessman, very much like tv evangelists. He makes money by predicting apocalypse, serving global finance (see Michael Moore's Planet of The Humyns), and terrifying poor retarded liberals.

  4. "and loony asides about "inner ecology" and "spiritual triangulation""

    Those terms are psychobabble, especially if you don't explain what they mean, which wouldn't be possible in an "aside."

  5. "In truth, there was nothing these idiots wouldn't say, nothing they wouldn't throw out there."

    Somerby seems to think that Gore should have been greeted by unanimous praise, with no political opposition whatsoever. He seems loathe to allow anyone to have a negative opinion about anything Gore said or did. That just isn't realistic. Again, these are very trivial complaints. It isn't like he was being accused of having a mistress or love child, or having embezzled money or colluded with Russia.

  6. "In conducting their punishment war against Gore, the children frequently suggested that he was possibly battling some sort of mental health issues."

    And this is exactly why you don't call a politician crazy when he is actually doing and saying evil things. You stick to criticizing his or her behavior or political statements and skip the name-calling.

  7. I would think that Gore's predictions about climate change, not the ones about the internal combustion engine, would be the biggest vindication of his attempts to draw attention to the effects of carbon emissions.

  8. "In the end, Kakutani got Bush elected."

    This is ridiculous. For one thing, she is too obscure to have had any measurable effect on the election. Gore lost the election because Bush's brother counted the votes in FL. It is as simple as that.

  9. Gore's election devolved into a popularity contest because Bush ran as a frat boy.

    In a popularity contest insults like girly-man and loony feminist make sense because the issues apparently don't matter, just how cool someone is. Gore apparently didn't manage to make any issues, policies or programs salient. That may be because he chose to disassociate himself from Clinton's administration and wouldn't run on a Democratic record, but failed to establish himself and what he stood for. Remember that this was before his movie An Inconvenient Truth came out.

  10. "This was largely done here in Our Town, not among the various crazies who live Over There."

    Somerby recognizes only two towns: (1) over there -- Republicans, as if they were monolithic, and (2) our town -- Democrats, as if we were monolithic.

    This leaves out the large mass of people who don't vote, all of the Independents (some leaning conservative, some leaning liberal), all the third parties. It also fails to recognize the Republicans are split, as are Democrats. Further, he ignores that professional journalism reflects the spectrum of political belief and that corporate interests do not necessarily impose a single political perspective on a publication. For example, Kevin Drum is at best a moderate Democrat but he wrote for a leftist publication (Mother Jones). Maureen Dowd may nominally call herself a Democrat but she is both sexist and opposed to Democratic candidates, especially the Clintons, Edwards and Gore. Or maybe she just attacks whoever is prominent in service of her own catty style, egged on by her editors. The NY Times has some liberal voices but many others who are conservative, and yet others who call themselves liberal while shilling for the Republicans.

    Somerby only sees two camps but there is a bustling diversity of opinions and voices in the media. None of them were elected to represent Democrats or liberals, and none of them speaks for anyone except themselves, or sometimes their editors and publication. These are not the intellectual leaders of "our town". Somerby's attempt to foist them off on us is propaganda. It is easy to mischaracterize in order to condemn. Somerby does that every day.

  11. This struck me from one of Somerby’s old posts that he linked here, from 1999:

    “We have no idea of Kakutani's politics; we do not suggest, in any way, that politics drives this review. But the writing she does here—hunting for isolated passages from a lengthy book that can be made to sound silly when torn out of context—is exactly what the two parties do when they engage in "opposition research." It harms our discourse when the parties do it, but here it's done by a major reviewer, in service, not to a political agenda, but to the new god, Conventional Wisdom.”

    Here, he was still keeping the press separate from politics.

    Fast forward to today, and he is not only quick to bring politics into his media criticism by labeling reporters liberal and assuming they operate from a liberal motivation, but he also puts the mainstream press squarely in “Our Town” and claims their failures as “ours.”

    That’s one of the reasons I preferred his writing back then.

    1. Judging from your post, I imagine you would enjoy this.



  12. GM is stating a goal, not an accomplishment. It is a little early to celebrate Gore's prediction.

  13. Bob demonstrated ably the horrible behavior of the press against Gore. Gore read the tea leaves, in many more ways than one on climate, but was openly scorned by some like Matthews, who said Gore would “lick the bathroom floor” to become President. Jesus. I like Gore, still do, and voted for him of course back in the time. Shit, the MSM said Chimpy McDumbfuck won a debate against Gore back then. Jesus.

    Quite aside from that, the ICE will never go away, nor will petroleum. They’re too valuable to our societies, such as they are, until we’ve all reached a point in civilization that it’s simply not possible to build or maintain them (and that time is coming soon).

    So how does the ICE get ‘phased out?’ Why, you have to mine for the materials you need to build an electric car, stamp the steel, produce the rubber (from petroleum), use all kinds of plastics (from petroleum), build micro-chips (somehow) etc. just as we do now, except the focus has shifted to battery power plants. So, we power all of current society with fuckin batteries?

    What do you do with all of the jobs that will be lost? Battery powered cars don’t need maintenance. ICE-powered cars need an endless array products for the power plant itself, iron, aluminum or magnesium ore, steel, spark plugs, spark plug wires, all which must be sourced, the sourcing of which creates an almost endless array of jobs in the supply chain, and for the finished product afterwards, car dealers and shops.

    Batteries can’t stop with cars. We will need to power our homes with batteries. Because last I checked, tail-pipe emissions only account for about 25% of industrial totals, with energy-producing plants producing a far greater volume of CO2.

    Hm. All in order to keep us maintaining the same lifestyle we now enjoy. With windmills and solar? No… I don’t think it’s possible.

    In order to really get the climate back to “normal” – over a massive time-span – we would almost have to revert to a much simpler, non-industrial agrarian culture.

    Ain’t gonna happen. I think. But you never know. We humans can be quite resourceful.


  14. global extermination by 2025 - And I've sent this & messaged DOD & military base's in new mexico re: Dulce's military base as well; It's gonna be a literal, human incomprehensible global bloodbath massacre & not even the word nightmare nor Crime's against humanity can scratch the surface. Including those fool's (devil court jester's) - The 'Utah Data Center', code-named "Bumblehive". And the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

    ALL $ bought & sold out your humanity & NON-SELF owned Soul (as solely God owns ALL), but re: Even with & like THOSE upon indian reservation (no respect for THE LAND) = New Mexico's 7 mile's down Dulce military base (& their just ONE amidst USA, despite global elsewhere), but press - on your computer keyboard key's Ctrl & 'F' & search / find keyword - type in: Level 6 & see thereof text wordage around thereof:

    Globalist's, misc aren't really doing what they plan on, their really just passing the time, evil - senselessly, & their talk of reducing 7 billion plus down to 500 million, huh, OH don't think it'll stop there, oh no, just so Satan who solely started this Holy War against God, can eventually 'spite' God with exhibited all human eventually narrowed down & killed, like Satan's timeless laughing off it's ass at us (having put on a clueless humor show for that beast) & deeming to God, "LOOK AT THEM ALL, YOUR SO-CALLED PRIDE & JOY, THEIR SUPPOSE TO REPRESENT YOU?!"

    Huh, LISTEN . . . to our fellow human Brother, just another Son of Adam & Eve, Steven Frederic Seagal's word's very carefully & TAKE IT TO HEART!

    Los Angeles County (California, USA), 88 cities & 20 + year's = vast dead & killed fellow homeless human's;

    Author: Paul L. Williams book, Killing the Planet (Earth).

    Huh, TRY THIS on for size per / via you're brain = global extermination by 2025, & whom TOP Power deem that 9/11/01 was JUST a TEST to see just how the global masses would react & respond.

    Deborah Tavares, (she lives in Sonoma County - Northern California), & is a activist with a research team – Email:, Her website:, & check THIS podcast she did: YOU local – global humanity NEED to SERIOUS listen to, because ceasing of humanity is Coming, please & SHARE it! Or you can hear it here -

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