IN SEARCH OF CERTAIN SKILLS: Give us this day our Daily Logic!


Do Collins and Milbank lack skills?: Yesterday afternoon, Joseph R. Biden, a veteran pol, made a rookie mistake.

He let a bunch of American journalists ask him several questions. When American pols make that rookie mistake, it frequently doesn't turn out well.

After a bit of clarification, the initial question posed to Biden was perfectly sensible. The question involved the ten-year tenure of New York governor Andrew Cuomo. 

In the exchange we're discussing, Biden tried to clarify what he was being asked. With his prods toward clarification included, that question went like this:

REPORTER (8/10/21): Mr. President, if I may? Ironically, one of the Democrats, through the years, that you spoke with about infrastructure the most was Andrew Cuomo, who announced he's resigning today. You had traveled New York with him when you were vice president to the launch of the reconstruction of LaGuardia. 

He was someone who supported your campaign early on, though you called on him to resign, though you condemned the alleged behavior. But you're someone who spends a lot of time with mayors and governors. How would you assess his 10 and a half years as governor of the state?

BIDEN: In terms of his personal behavior or what he's done as a governor?

REPORTER: What he's done as a governor.

Biden sought a bit of clarification—and he got it! He was asked to evaluate what Cuomo "has done as a governor." He wasn't asked to evaluate the "personal behavior" on the basis of which Cuomo will be stepping down.

It was clear what the veteran pol had been asked. After receiving the clarification, he offered his assessment:

BIDEN (continuing directly): Well, he's done a hell of a job, he's done a hell of a job. And I mean both on everything from access to voting, to infrastructure, to a whole range of things. That's why it's so sad. 

Last question, right here.

Concerning "what he's done as a governor," the veteran pol said that Cuomo "has done a hell of a job." He said that's why Cuomo's resignation, due to that personal behavior, was so sad.

Inappropriate behavior to the side, has Cuomo been a good governor? We have no well-developed idea, but we'd be inclined to assume that he's been mediocre at best.

That said, the question to Biden was quite specific. Also, it's easy to understand what he actually said.

It's easy to understand what Biden said—unless the American press is involved! Moments later, this challenge was posed:

COLLINS: Can I quickly follow up on your comment on Governor Cuomo? Can you really say that he has done, quote, "a hell of a job" if he's accused of sexually harassing women on the job?

The question came from CNN's Kaitlan Collins. We've fulsomely praised her work at certain times in the past. Concerning that particular question and what followed, we can only say this:


Instantly, Biden must have realized that he'd made the classic rookie mistake. He'd appeared in public, with cameras rolling, and he'd allowed our mainstream journalists to ask him several questions.

Concerning these high-profile journalists, let it be said that they've often "gone to the finest schools," much as Dylan once said. That said, it often seems that they fall a bit short in the realm we're inclined to describe as the realm of  Daily Logic.

Instantly, Biden realized that he'd made the classic mistake. Now he tried to save himself—but this latest auto-da-fe unfolded exactly like this:

BIDEN (continuing directly): You asked me two questions. You asked the substantive—

Should he remain as governor is one question. And women should be believed when they make accusations that are able to, on the face of them, make sense, and investigate it, they're investigated. And the judgment was made that what they said was correct. 

That's one thing. The question is, did he do a good job on infrastructure? That was the question. He did.

COLLINS: Well, the question was, How did he do as a governor?

BIDEN: No, the question was, correct me if I'm wrong—

ORIGINAL REPORTER: About how was he as a governor generally. Outside of his personal behavior.

BIDEN: Outside of his personal behavior. Okay.

COLLINS: Can you separate the two? Since—


BIDEN: No, I wouldn't. I was asked a specific question. I'm trying to answer specifically. What do you want to ask me specifically?

COLLINS: Well, I'd like to ask you about infrastructure as well...

Again, we regard that performance by Collins as sad. That said, there's no ultimate way to render such assessments.

There's no ultimate way to assess such conduct—and at some point, the rest of the press corps may feel inclined to wade in. This very morning, we became aware of this exchange because it was featured by MSNBC early in the 5 A.M. hour, right at the start of the channel's live broadcast day.

The excerpt the channel chose to air seemed to show a veteran pol floundering in the face of some aggressive questioning. We had to turn to the transcript at Rev to get the fuller picture of what had actually occurred. 

When we did, we saw a striking lack of Daily Logic, perhaps inflected with a dollop of "gotcha." What we saw struck us as sad, but also as sadly typical.

These upper-end journalists today! They've frequently gone to the finest schools, Quite often, you wouldn't know it. 

That's especially true when they're advancing some favorite issue or policy position, or when they're pursuing some official press target. At such times, their access to basic Daily Logic may seem quite fragile indeed.

We see this unhelpful characteristic in various news reports and opinion columns in this morning's Washington Post. In some cases, certain relevant facts aren't presented. Elsewhere, bogus facts have been included, helping drive home preferred frameworks.

Always, the lack of Daily Logic! For a particularly sad example, consider Dana Milbank's new column.

Milbank went to one of the finest schools. He was even Skull and Bones! 

Today, Milbank writes about the presentation made by Cuomo when he announced that he'd be resigning. More specifically, he writes about the presentation made by Rita Glavin, Cuomo's lawyer. 

After reading Milbank's column, we compared what he had written to the full transcript of Glavin's remarks. We were struck by the lack of moral and intellectual sophistication the journalist had put on display.

In today's column, Milbank is all in on Good versus Evil. This very much tends to be the way our journalists play. 

That said, we were struck by the childishness of Milbank's presentation, We were struck by how much of Glavin's presentation he simply brushed aside—by how many possibilities he simply chose to ignore. 

For our money, Glavin's remarks were far more interesting that Milbank's column. But that column's lack of sophistication lies at the heart of the way our journalists tend to play.

What did Andrew Cuomo actually do in the various cases under review? At this site, we aren't really able to tell you. 

It's possible that Cuomo has engaged in conduct which is worse than the conduct described in Attorney General Letitia James' formal report. It's also possible that attorney Glavin made some sensible points.

Milbank tells the simplest story—the story involving one villain. We're sorry to complicate your world, but the following possibilities could all be true. Many of these possibilities could be true at the same time:

1) It's possible that some of Cuomo's specific denials are accurate. It's also possible that none of them are.

2) It's possible that some accusations against Cuomo are inaccurate. It's possible that none of them are.

3) It's possible that one or more of Cuomo's accusers has been acting in bad faith. It's also possible that the accusers have all been completely sincere. 

4) It's possible that Cuomo wasn't acting with the motives imputed to him. It's also possible that he was.  

5) It's possible that political motivations of various kinds may have tilted the way the investigation was conducted. It's also possible that the investigation was conducted in perfect good faith. 

It's possible that Cuomo has been acting in total bad faith as he responds to these claims. It's possible that James has been acting in some degree of bad faith too. 

They could each be acting in some degree of bad faith at the same time! Also, each could be sincere.

It may be that James has behaved in total good faith. Also, it's possible that attorney Glavin believes every claim she has made, and believes in the value of every objection she has raised.

Many possibilities exist in such a complex case—unless you live in the childish realm in which we humans sometimes prefer to dwell, even after spending four years at one of the finest schools.

It's possible that there were some thumbs on the scale as the probe was conducted. Consider this post by David Freedlander, which says that James is now positioned to be the front-runner in a 2022 or 2026 gubernatorial run. 

(Freedlander suggests no misconduct by James.)  

After that, consider this post by Irin Carmon! Imaginably, many motives could be floating around the state of New York in this multifaceted case.

Is it possible that some thumbs were on the scales during this probe? Is it possible that some accounts by some accusers may be significantly inaccurate?

Of course those things are possible! Except in the childish realm which produced Milbank's stirring headline:

Cuomo could have departed with dignity. Instead, he sicced his lawyer on his accusers.

He sicced his lawyer on his accusers! Our question—if a politician knows that some accusation is false, is his lawyer permitted to say so?

Has Cuomo misbehaved in the ways described? We can't personally tell you.

It could be that his conduct has been even worse! Of course, that's also true of Milbank himself, and of everyone else. 

We've watched this press corps for 23 years as it has struggled with bone-simple matters of Daily Logic. Within this remarkably unimpressive guild, the basic elements of Daily Logic tend to be honored in the breach. 

What does any of this have to do with books which try to make Einstein easy? You're asking a very good question!

We'll continue with that question tomorrow. For today, we'll leave it at this:

Biden made a rookie mistake, and Collins entered the breach. She's been superb at times in the past. We'd call yesterday's questioning sad.

Ditto for someone at MSNBC—for whoever chose to rush (one part of) yesterday's videotape on the air.  The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we humans need help with our logic, and our logicians, such as they are, seem to have walked off their posts.

Tomorrow: Philosophy profs choose top book


  1. "Inappropriate behavior to the side, has Cuomo been a good governor? We have no well-developed idea, but we'd be inclined to assume that he's been mediocre at best."

    Why would Somerby, a supposed liberal, in the absence of detailed knowledge, and in the face of Biden's praise, consider Cuomo to have done a mediocre job at best?

    And why does Somerby consider Biden's willingness to answer press questions, his accessibility to the press and his transparency to his constituents, a "rookie mistake"?

    Logic aside, Somerby does not think like a liberal. These are conservative tribal reactions, not the way any Democrat would react to this situation. But Somerby keeps calling himself a liberal. He is supposedly politically astute, so that cannot be a mistake and must be a blatant lie intended to mislead his readers here.

    To me, that dishonesty is worse than anything Somerby calls out in this blog.

    1. There is a Q-Anon style conspiracy theory involving Cuomo and nursing home deaths and Trump. Perhaps Somerby's immersion in right-wing media has resulted in some of that rubbing off on him and contributed to a negative impression of Cuomo.

      Reason would suggest that Somerby should withhold his opinion if he has no basis for assessing Cuomo's performance as governor (separate from his sexual misbehavior).

    2. Anonymouse 1:45pm, my guess is that Somerby thinks it was a rookie mistake because it put Jen Psaki in the position of having to directly contradict what Biden said after a reporter asked him to distinguish Cuomo’s behavior toward women from his governance.

      The things that Somerby says about Cuomo’s tenure in office and about Biden’s “rookie mistake” of taking the tag-team press corp at face-value, are designed to make it a kerfuffle about the bad faith media, rather than Biden’s remarks.

      We all understand it’s the Anonymouse calculated default position we’re seeing in the daily gang-bang of “Bob’s not a liberal”, but still…the way your political militancy has made you argue like an outraged college freshman is always a bore.

    3. No statement is immune from willful misunderstanding.

      Treating every clearly limited remark as if it were a gaffe is a Republican tactic. This is what they did with Al Gore, when they pretended he said he created the internet and other nonsense. But back in the day, Somerby defended Al Gore. Now he joins with conservatives to pretend Biden said something wrong, when he didn't. That is why Somerby is not a liberal, if he ever was one (and not just a faithful ex-roomie to Gore).

    4. When did Somerby say that Biden said something wrong?

      Where did I say that?

      Biden was asked a question. Biden then clarified what he was being asked. He then answered the question.

      Collins then asked Biden how he could suggest that Cuomo was ever any sort of good governor if he hit on women.

      So now Biden is in the quandary of having it said that he doesn’t think a propensity to hit on women negates every success under the sun.

      That’s sacrilege.

      Somerby responds on Biden’s behalf by ironically pointing at the media and saying that Biden’s rookiesque mistake was in thinking that they could offer up an honest question.

      Anonymices being anonymices quickly accuse Somerby of dissing…Biden…because Anonymices are more double dealing than three press corps.

    5. Somerby calls Biden's answer to the question "a rookie mistake". A mistake is generally considered to be a bad thing.

      No, Biden did not say that Cuomo's accomplishments negated his wrongdoing. You are saying that.

      Collins twisted Biden's words and the onus is on Collins, not Biden. But Somerby (and you apparently) want to put it on Biden. Biden limited the question in order to answer it. That is far from rookie behavior. Collins ignored the limitation. That is her problem.

      Even when you know that the press is not asking good faith questions, a president cannot evade answering them without ignoring his responsibility to the public. Biden is conscientious and that is a good trait in a president, something Trump lacked completely.

      Somerby did diss Biden. When Somerby promotes conservative memes and sides with those attempting to embarrass the president, he reveals himself to be other than liberal. When you, a conservative, defend Somerby, that strengthens the argument that Somerby is batting for the other side.

  2. "The question came from CNN's Kaitlan Collins. We've fulsomely praised her work at certain times in the past. Concerning that particular question and what followed, we can only say this:


    Instantly, Biden must have realized that he'd made the classic rookie mistake. "

    Collins, who Somerby has praised in the past, screws up, but Biden is to blame? In what universe? Only in conservative-world, where everything is the Democrats' fault.

    1. Collins reinvigorated the conversation on Cuomo’s leadership “brilliance” vs his fickle fingers and that stirs up some of his non-fans in Albany and some feminists.

      If you had an ounce of sense you’d understand that’s not a good thing

    2. Who said it was a good thing? Not me.

  3. "That said, there's no ultimate way to render such assessments."

    Somerby opines that one cannot separate Cuomo's work as governor generally from his sexual behavior and express an opinion about one separate from the other. That no doubt colors his reaction to Biden's response, which clearly does so.

    I consider Cuomo's failure to interact with staff and others appropriately on the job to be a failure to do the work of governor, but even I can make an assessment of some limited aspect of his job. If asked, how was his writing, aside from his sexual behavior. I could answer that. If asked, how was his budgeting and financial control, I could answer that.

    If Somerby cannot, he is a moron. But he is, of course, being disingenuous in order to malign Biden. And what kind of liberal Maligns the leader of his party? Not even Sanders or AOC maligns Biden the way Somerby does. That's because Somerby is no liberal. I doubt he is even a Democrat, and it seems likely he voted for Trump instead of Biden, based on the way he loses no opportunity to trash the current president.

  4. Pathetic comments as usual. Shouldn't have bothered reading them.

  5. "Has Cuomo misbehaved in the ways described? We can't personally tell you."

    There has been an investigation of the allegations of Cuomo's accusers and a report drew a conclusion, but Somerby cannot tell us whether Cuomo misbehaved? I'll bet that Somerby never says the sun is shining because he has not personally been to the sun and verified its activity, at least not every day.

    This kind of splitting hairs and unwillingness to rely on strong evidence suggests ulterior motives. With Somerby, we know what those are. He NEVER believes women who make accusations, because bitches be lying. He always defends the accused men, no matter what the proof. When a man does that, it makes me wonder what his own personal experience has been that he cannot empathize with women or believe that men engage in sexual wrongdoing. Somerby won't even condemn Roy Moore, but looks for nitpicks and loopholes to rescue him from evidence and multiple accusations, just as he is doing today with Cuomo. It would be an understatement to suggest that Somerby may have problems with women.

  6. "Of course, that's also true of Milbank himself, and of everyone else. "

    No, it isn't. We have not left the universe in which evidence is needed to make an accusation against a public figure. An non-credible accusation was made against Biden, investigated, and dismissed because of the lack of evidence coupled with the inconsistent behavior of the accuser. So, no, this cannot happen to any man. And note that despite the considerable evidence against Trump, he was never brought to justice over his crimes against women, and Somerby has never mentioned that behavior in his diatribes against Stormy Daniels (who he labeled a con and a grifter despite considerable evidence of the truth of her claims).

    Somerby is on very shaky ground today. And what a coincidence that this occurs just as one of our trolls suggests that Somerby has never defended the various miscreants on the right who were the subjects of essays much like this one, attempting to shift blame to Biden and away from Cuomo, a mediocre governor but not necessarily guilty of his sexual misbehavior despite that.

    But intellectual consistency has never been Somerby's strength, no matter how much he pretends to love logic.

  7. "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we humans need help with our logic, and our logicians, such as they are, seem to have walked off their posts."

    A reporter screws up but Somerby bemoans the failures of logicians? What do the two have to do with each other? Nothing, that I can see. And what is the post of a logician? Somerby wants them to be doing things that they clearly do not consider part of their job (and neither does anyone else). This is part of his ongoing idiocy.

  8. New Yorkers seem to disagree with Somerby's assessment of Cuomo as "mediocre at best". Here are the results of a post-James report poll asking who likely primary voters would vote for in the next election for governor:

    Cuomo: 26
    James: 9
    AOC: 8
    Gillibrand: 6
    Kathryn Garcia: 6

    If Cuomo were doing a bad job as governor, I doubt so many voters would be so willing to overlook his sexual misbehavior.

  9. "It's possible that political motivations of various kinds may have tilted the way the investigation was conducted. It's also possible that the investigation was conducted in perfect good faith. "

    The investigation was conducted by a Democrat, Letitia James, in a largely Democratic state. If it had been conducted by Republicans, Somerby might have a point about bias. But it makes no more sense that Democrats were out to get Cuomo, than it did when Al Franken was accused and resigned. Most Democrats are sad about this, not happy to see Cuomo gone.

    Somerby may be confused by the many calls for resignation from top Democrats. That is because, unlike Republicans, Democrats expect their elected officials to adhere to law and believe they should not continue to hold their positions as lawbreakers. Further, Democrats consider a misbehaving elected official to be a blight on the rest of the party and a liability at the polls. Republicans don't seem to feel the same way. They are the ones who close ranks and defend a wrongdoer in their own party.

    In contrast to Cuomo, no one called for Biden to step down when he was accused. That's because Democrats also look at evidence and consider the likely guilt or innocence of an accused person. They do not automatically dismiss accusations as Republicans do, nor do they automatically defend an accused person, in the absence of likelihood of innocence (based on evidence).

    Somerby again today asserts that anything is possible, even after an investigation. That is not only untrue, but it ignores the probabilities involved. Certainty is not the only standard for making a judgment. Likelihood is useful when certainty cannot be known. People reason using probabilities. It seems highly unlikely that Somerby doesn't know this, so his insistence on absolute certainty for miscreants such as Roy Moore and Matt Gaetz amounts to a dodge and a defense of their wrongdoing, a Republican-style closing of ranks around one of their own, regardless of his actions.

    Again, it should be clear that Somerby is no liberal.

    1. “ Somerby may be confused by the many calls for resignation from top Democrats. That is because, unlike Republicans, Democrats expect their elected officials to adhere to law and believe they should not continue to hold their positions as lawbreakers. Further, Democrats consider a misbehaving elected official to be a blight on the rest of the party and a liability at the polls. Republicans don't seem to feel the same way. They are the ones who close ranks and defend a wrongdoer in their own party.”

      How does an adult of any party or political persuasion write something this juvenile. Even when it’s just Anonymouse motivated blogboard theater.

      New York State is looking into the nursing home scandal. That result could impact the governors in three other Democratic states. Cuomo’s resignation takes the heat out of this.

      If not for Justice Kavanaugh,, Al Franken would rightly still be in office. If not for the grace of God’s timing… Gov. Northrop would be out of office over his high school yearbook hijinks.

      Quit being a putz, cuz Somerby…

    2. If you read Al Franken's book, "Giant of the Senate," he has a chapter devoted to his election problems with women. That is just the stuff he says about himself, and it explains why he resigned (written long before he was accused). It had nothing to do with Kavanaugh.

    3. If not for Epstein killing himself, he'd have been put on the Supreme Court by Republicans.

    4. Anonymouse 9:41am, I meant Roy Moore, not Kavanaugh. Franken resigning had everything to do with those optics.

    5. No, it had to do with previous accusations against him and his own past behavior, which would all become public if he stayed in office. That would be damaging to both Franken and Democrats.

      This isn't about optics. It is about actual harm done to women by men in power. In Franken's case, he should have known better and many of us were disappointed in him.

  10. "They could each be acting in some degree of bad faith at the same time!"

    Yes, of course, dear Bob, and of course the moon could be in some degree made of cheese.

    Anyhow, who cares about this shit.

    What about Mario's son ordering infected old people into nursing homes? Ordering paramedics not to resuscitate anyone? That's the scandal, not pussy-grabbing. And of course your dembot journos and your Big Guy from Biden Inc will never talk about that...

    1. You want to charge Cuomo over a hoax?
      What next, pretending that COVID is real because it shows Republican's "small government", anti-collectivism is a losing ideology?

  11. Hey Bob and Democrats. Just take the loss.


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