US AND THEM THE PEOPLE: "I see dead people," the little boy said!


The rest of us see something worse: The Sixth Sense was released (into theaters!) in August 1999. It was a very big hit.

It was the second highest-grossing film of 1999. It received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, along with two acting noms.

That very same month, Gennifer Flowers did a half-hour interview on Hardball. During the session, she told the world about the Clintons' many murders—more precisely, about the disturbing phenomenon she described as "the Clinton body count."

The silent secession—the retreat from sanity—was already underway. 

Chris Matthews told Flowers what a major stone-cold "knockout" she was, sliming Hillary Clinton as he did. We'd show you exactly what he said, except that would force us to let him repeat a widely-repeated claim which was almost certainly false.

Because Flowers' performance was so insane, she was quickly rewarded with a full hour on Hannity & Colmes. Curing that hour, she went substantially further in her ugly, deeply stupid commentary concerning Clinton and Clinton. 

We've never been able to find a single "journalist" who commented on any of this. This is who and what our self-impressed tribe actually was at the time, and it's who and what we've always been. For the record, this was the start of the brain-damaged road which ended up giving us Trump.

Starting that very same month, The Sixth Sense was a very big hit. It turned on a heart-breaking statement made by a terrified little boy:

"I see dead people," the little boy says in the film. The actor, who was 11 years old, received one of those acting noms.

Last week, we watched The Sixth Sense again. With Halloween approaching, it aired on the SyFy Channel and appeared on our free On Demand. 

(Apparently, basic cable isn't able to fill every hour with its endless catalogue of slasher films.) 

We watched The Sixth Sense again. It occurs to us that that little boy isn't like Us and Them the people. 

The little boy kept seeing dead people. As major experts keep telling us, we the humans are strongly inclined to see very bad people—and to see such bad people in groups.

We're wired to see Us, the very good / very smart people, and Them, the very bad, very dumb people. Within this framework, we see very bad people all the time—and they're always found in groups, Over There, where The Others and the otherized dwell.

We're almost completely unable to see how dumb our own tribe is. We can only see the dumbness when it occurs among Them, as it quite massively does.

The little boy kept seeing dead people. Every morning, when we scan our tribe's leading papers, we keep seeing dumb people.

The dumb people we keep seeing are reciting our own tribe's dogmas. Quite often, Cassandra speaks to us at such times, and she tells us there's no way out.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our own highly self-impressed tribe is just relentlessly dumb. We go out of our way to establish that fact, and then we prove it again.

Chris Matthews maintained his lunatic conduct for years back in the day. His episode with Gennifer Flowers was jaw-droppingly stupid and weird. Her love affair with Kathleen Willey was even dumber and worse.

We the blue people—we, the amazingly brilliant people—just sat there and didn't say jack. Them the people are amazingly dumb, but we can match them dumbness for dumbness. We do so every day in the week.


Can Us and Them the people survive a dumbness-driven regime in which everyone sees very bad people, and sees such people in groups? 

Top experts all say we can't. In a way, Cassandra was able to see dead people too, and she says those experts are right.

Full disclosure: We're avoiding the most interesting thing we read and researched this morning. After all these years, at long last, we no longer see a point.

(It's related to Kevin Drum's reference to VanDerWerff v. Iglesias as seen in this new post. We're not suggesting that there were any "bad people" involved in that striking matter, which of course could never be resolved in any ultimate way.)

In this, a possible week that was, we're finally reaching the point where a living person with an active awareness just pretty much has to give up. In the end, even the Bruce Willis character was forced to abandon his pose.

We humans can be amazingly dumb—and we constantly see bad people. It's the wiring, nothing more,  those despondent top experts have said.


  1. "Her love affair with Kathleen Willey was even dumber and worse."

    What, Gennifer Flowers had a love affair with Kathleen Willey? Whoa, the plot thickens, as they say.

  2. "We've never been able to find a single "journalist" who commented on any of this. This is who and what our self-impressed tribe actually was at the time, and it's who and what we've always been. "

    Why does Somerby think that the function of journalism is to comment on each other's interviews and reports?

    When did what journalists do or do not do become synonymous with any tribe except that of journalists? They are not liberals, not Democrats, many are non-voters. What tribe are they supposed to be except members of their own profession? And why is that being called a tribe? It bears no resemblance to anything defined as a tribe by anthropologists.

    Somerby's framing of his favorite issues is idiosyncratic. It appears to exist so that he can say vague negative things about liberals, not to participate in any dialog ongoing in politics today. He perhaps has some idea of what he is talking about, but no one else does, except to recognize that his intent toward liberals is both negative and unkind.

  3. "We're wired to see Us, the very good / very smart people, and Them, the very bad, very dumb people. "

    If we are wired to see no flaws in those on our side, how is it that so many Democratics are angry with the behavior of Sinema and Manchin? Democrats are upset with them because of their unwillingness to compromise with other Democrats. The fact that they are part of US has not blinded anyone to their behavior.

    I think this refutes Somerby's contention that we think we are all good and The Others all bad. Clearly, Democrats are capable of assessing other Democrats based on their actions, not just their tribal membership. The same is true when it comes to Lynn Cheney. She is a Republican but Democrats have had no trouble welcoming her to the 1/6 Commission because of her behavior, regardless of her party affiliation.

    Somerby is full of shit about this Us/Them business, especially when he takes it to extremes and tells us that we cannot see past such labels.

  4. Somerby is wise not to comment directly on the whole Chapelle fiasco and Kevin Drum's remarks on it. Drum is getting beaten up in his own comments section. But Somerby just can't stay out of it, despite recognizing he should. If Somerby can't stand Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper, how will he be able to navigate modern ideas about transphobia? He and Drum have become fogeys and there is no need for them to talk hurtfully about things they cannot grasp as society changes (for the better, in my opinion).

    There have always been tabloid print media. Now there is tabloid news on TV too. Willey and Flowers were part of that tabloid segment of cable news. No one took them seriously then except ignorant people and conservatives. That has been true for decades. Because you are never going to convince uneducated people that Hillary didn't have an alien baby.

    Somerby was once involve in educating children but he gave it up for his own standup career. He stopped fighting the good fight before he even started this blog. You don't cure people of believing stupidities by railing at journalists. You need to provide counter-information and teach people how to think, which is the main role of teachers.

    And no one's mind was ever changed via insults of the type Somerby hurls here daily. But he thinks blaming liberals for what conservatives say and do is going to help? Why would it?

    1. There have always been tabloid print media. Really?


    3. Thanks mh. I was wondering why the mentioned it in the Bible.

    4. The Bible is tabloid journalism!

      The Wikipedia entry mentions tabloid print journalism going back to the eighteenth century at least. So it has been around in one form or another since the founding of the US. We are talking about US media, aren’t we? Or does Bob discuss journalism in Biblical Palestine?

    5. The Etruscans had tablet journalism!

    6. mh - my point is "always" includes more than the last three centuries. That's all.

    7. After the invention of the printing press, when books became accessible widely because they were no longer hand-copied by priests, some of the first books were exposes of the church. These laid a foundation for the Reformation by allowing wider circulation of scandals and criticisms of the Roman church. They were banned (of course) and there was harsh punishment for having one in your home. That is tabloid press because of the salacious nature of events described in such books.

      That takes us back to the beginning of print media, so I think it is fair to say "always".

    8. I read most of the comments on Drum’s post and I didn’t find anything particularly inflammatory. Drum’s critics weren’t anything like Somerby’s.

      I did read one post from a person claiming to be a transsexual and arguing that even mild criticism of their social imperatives should be shut down lest that inspire a hater to kill them.

      It reminded me of the argument that anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers voices should be shut down in the town square (or maybe they should be kicked in the head by cops as is happening in Australia) because someone may die.

      While there’s a greater possibility of that happening with COVID-19 than is the case with admittedly vulnerable populations such as trans folks, free societies comes with a price (peaceful arrest, loss of a job, venturing or tolerating the voicing of unpopular opinions) that both sides of the equation were heretofore willing to pay.

  5. So, reasonable Kevin is also reasonable here?

  6. Or here:

  7. What dead people is Somerby talking about? Enquiring minds want to know.

  8. I see a dead blog making the same dumb obvious point daily. Human disagreement exists because no one has the whole of the truth. Bob labels all disagreement as "tribal" as if this is something disastrous. It's not, it's how all societies move on to something better, hopefully.

    1. Dear Bob doesn't label any disagreements as "tribal". He labels dogmatic propagandistic narratives and talking points as tribal.

    2. Fact Check- Re: Mao: Correct!

  9. Drum isn’t being unreasonable. What he’s saying is arguable.

    Frankly, I think he’s off-base in not recognizing that Fox News pushed liberals further to the left much faster than would have been the case had we continued to live in a country where our intelligentsia could sit back and consider liberalism to be the beneficent and inevitable course of culture.

    Of course Drum isn’t pleased with Fox News. Why would I be offended that my political contrarian disdained Fox News and calls it toxic.

    Oh, well.

    Yeah, I get that Drum may merely roll his eyes over CNN, or have never noticed the cheers accolades Keith Olbermann garnered from elite thinkers for likening Bush to Hitler or for going on national tv and naming some regular slub as being “The Worst Person In The World”. I get that Drum may have been immune to Jon Stewart’s years long take on politics as liberals mud-wrestling pigs.

    Again, I get that. That’s baked into the cake. But I’ve never seen Drum call me a Nazi. I’ve never seen Drum act like that.

    If you’re dead set on proving me wrong and changing my mind about him, I can be persuaded. I’m not utterly closed to that…

  10. Drum is a dembot. In fact, these days foxnews appears to be (in our personal opinion) the least toxic species of the establishment media.

  11. Much of the seemingly unrepairable discourse can be traced to Clinton time, some of it partisan crap to attract garbage people like Mao, some merely profit driven. I think this is what Bob means to point out here, but even he grew weary of saying it over and over. Hard to blame him too much, it’s pretty painful.

  12. I agree with you last statement, Mao. MSNBC and CNN are circuses.

    CNN had apoplectic Don Lemon on the other day doing Greek tragedy over Democratic leaders not going nuclear. If there had been a fireplace on the set he would have thrown himself into it.

    MSNBC has Joy Reid giving more infantile and angry summations than the densest anonymouse.

  13. @Cecelia

    Assuming that no humyn being with at least half of a brain could get confused about the current level of toxicity of CNN, MSNBC, NYTimes, WaPo, etc. vs FoxNews -- what does it make Mr Drum?

    We can see two possibilities: 100% brain-dead, or a professional dembot.

    In our humble opinion, the second possibility appears to be much more likely. Therefore: a dembot.

  14. I don’t know about humyns, but human partisans can and often do.

  15. Meh. Whatever cause or philosophy we might sympathize with, we always recognize when it's being advocated dishonestly, demagogically, undue emotionally, or -- god forbid -- with hate- or scare-mongering.

    Being merely "partisan" doesn't make one blind. It doesn't make one stupid. No siree Bob. Consequently, we don't believe "partisan" is an adequate description of what Mr Drum does.

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