Script and Storyline never die!


But also, e. e. cummings: We were a bit surprised, and perhaps disappointed, when Ali Velshi said it:

VELSHI (12/21/21): You'd be forgiven for assuming that what you just saw here was some kind of WrestleMania introduction. That was yesterday's carefully staged and overly elaborate introduction at an event for ultra-conservative young people for none other than Kyle Rittenhouse, the then 17-year-old who shot and killed two people and wounded a third last summer at a Black Lives Matter protest after crossing state lines with an AR-15 that was not obtained legally.

As we've been noting for several decades, script, like rust, never sleeps. Hosting Tuesday's 11th Hour, Velshi pictured Rittenhouse "crossing state lines" again! 

(For the sake of brevity, we'll ignore the other misstatements and mis-formulations found in that brief presentation.) 

The youngster had crossed state lines again—and while we're at it, good grief! Earlier that evening, on All In, Professor Cobb had offered this:

COBB (12/21/21): If you think about what ties Rittenhouse, [George] Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, and the death of Ahmaud Arbery together is that all three of these incidents involve people who were going out to protect property that was not theirs. So this is fundamentally about the idea that you can construe self-defense to mean anything. And you can proactively pursue people and still say you were defending yourself.

For today, set aside the professor's claim about the unfortunate death of Trayvon Martin. According to that strange formulation, Rittenhouse had been "proactively pursuing" Joseph Rosenbaum on that unfortunate night in Kenosha!

Rosenbaum hadn't been chasing Rittenhouse through the streets of Kenosha that night, cable viewers were now being told. Within our Storyline-driven tribe, we've somehow managed to reach the point where Rittenhouse was chasing him!

Velshi and Cobb are both good, decent people. That said, Script and Storyline never die. Neither does undisguised, unvarnished tribal invention, and that's even true Over Here.

Recommended on Christmas Eve: Cummings wrote it; we've endorsed it. We refer to the poem in which two children experience feeling for a tree, a tree which is rather small:

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?

All these years later, the poem continues from there.


  1. "As we've been noting for several decades, script, like rust, never sleeps. Hosting Tuesday's 11th Hour, Velshi pictured Rittenhouse "crossing state lines" again!"

    What is the most important part of Rittenhouse's story? Is it whether he personally crossed state lines with the gun, or whether he crossed state lines then was given the gun (illegally) by a friend who had bought it for him? Or is it perhaps that he killed two unarmed men with that gun, and wounded a third who was trying to disarm him after those two shootings?

    Somerby only focuses on the nitpicky details that change nothing substantial about Rittenhouse's actions.

    When you summarize an event, some details do get glossed over, and I doubt that Velshi deliberately changed any detail to enhance storyline. If he exaggerated how many people Rittenhouse shot, Somerby might have a point, but this is just trivial nonsense and hardly represents his notion of script or storyline at all.

    But Somerby doesn't care about or even think about what Velshi might have done wrong -- this is all just an excuse for more of the drip drip drip of accusation against the media, designed to undermine faith in the accuracy of news reported anywhere except Fox. This is what Somerby's storyline is all about, and it has become tiresome, a waste of our time, and an insult to any reader's intelligence.

    1. In any news event, the first reports often have details that are corrected in later reports. The first report is the best effort of reporters under a time deadline. Later reporters nail down those details and expand upon the first reports.

      Velshi's comment about crossing state lines with a gun arise because that is what the first reports said. Portraying this as something more sinister, such as liberal storyline, strikes me as unfair.

      If anything, the revised versions that started to appear on Fox News, portraying Rittenhouse as a choir boy just trying to do good, are much more mistaken than anything Velshi said, and pretty obviously motivated by politics.

      If you took a gun to a mental hospital and started shooting the inmates because they scared you with their disturbed behavior, would you be acquitted on self-defense? That is kind of what Rittenhouse did, in my opinion. You have to ask what Rittenhouse was doing there and why he brought a gun, and most importantly, why he fired it. Instead Somerby argues that whatever someone does when 17 years old doesn't count. On Christmas, shouldn't we instead ask what Jesus would think of Rittenhouse's behavior?

    2. Bob doesn't actually like Republicans or fox. He's intelligent enough to know their agenda. He just doesn't think liberals want to be accurate, and he's generally correct. They are full of bluster, especially on television.

      I disagree or don't find interesting with what he says a good third of the time, but let's not become clowns. There's enough of those already. Why turn everything into a cult?

    3. Journalists want to be accurate. It is a major value in their field, something they work hard to do and take pride in. Journalists are not liberals. Most consider themselves non-partisan or centrist. Somerby's motive for portraying the mainstream media as liberal needs to be considered in the light of what Digby and Perry Bacon say here:

    4. Rachel Maddow is not partisan? Give me a break.

    5. Maddow is centrist, not liberal and not progressive. She probably considers herself objective, whether you do or not. She is trained as a political scientist and not as a political activist. Look at the topics of her books. She is only liberal if you define anyone to the left of Tucker Carlson as liberal.

    6. Rachel Maddow has said repeatedly that her goal is to be a political humorist, like Jon Stewart, not a Walter Cronkite. That may be why Somerby dislikes her so much.

    7. Liberals are centrists..if they were to the left they'd be called leftists and wouldn't shout down progressive ideas every election cycle as impossible.

    8. Maddow apparently wears 3,000 dollar underpants. (according to Vogue).

    9. How is it clownish to point out that Somerby is wrong in both his criticisms and agenda, and how he misinforms daily?

      The only cult here involves the Somerby fanboys that defend his nonsense.

    10. Y'all really think a retired school teacher who follows debates on standardized tests is a secret white supremacist? He's a boring old white liberal. Don't be so addicted to being paranoid. Use it sparingly.

    11. 12:38 When you have to build strawman arguments to sell your nonsense, you're not arguing in good faith.

      Somerby is not secretive, he is openly dismissive of anti-racism.

      Somerby is attempting to manufacture ignorance through misinformation, calling him out is a worthwhile pursuit.

    12. Once they get you to believe in supply-side economics, getting you to believe the media is "liberal" is a cakewalk.

  2. "Rosenbaum hadn't been chasing Rittenhouse through the streets of Kenosha that night, cable viewers were now being told."

    Video shows that Rosenbaum was involved in pushing a dumpster that was on fire and Rittenhouse came over to him with a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the fire, which upset Rosenbaum, who then began yelling at him to stop.

    Earlier, Rittenhouse was seen by witnesses approaching and taunting Rosenbaum.

    So, yes, there is some dispute about Rittenhouse's interactions with Rosenbaum prior to Rittenhouse shooting him. Somerby keeps saying that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse down and was going to beat the shit out of him. That is inconsistent with anything Rosenbaum had done previously, according to witnesses, and with hospital records which show that no one was brought in after having been beaten up by anyone. But Somerby asserts that Rosenbaum was dangerous because he was mentally ill, something that is not a fair conclusion.

    Somerby wishes to set aside what happened between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, but the deliberate taunting and provocation by the person who later claimed self-defense, seems to be a commonality in these two situations -- where neither shooting victim was around to describe, much less defend, his own actions.

    I think the Professor's observation about the defense of other people's property is apt. It draws the line between vigilantes who go out seeking trouble and those who are genuine victims of motivated aggression. The two witnesses who support Rittenhouse's version of Rosenbaum's actions are both Trump supporters, involved in the "defense" and opposing the protesters. But Somerby thinks it is the media who is inventing things, because they report information from protesters who witnessed Rosenbaum and Rittenhgouse, that Somerby apparently doesn't know about. And why doesn't Somerby know about the facts reported on non-Fox sources? Why is he only familiar with right-wing facts and not those reported by others on the scene? He gives a stamp of approval only to the Fox version and dismisses as invention (a word that means lies) the facts held by the left (those supporting the protest, if not the rioting, those who tried to stop Rittenhouse from killing more people).

    Somerby is himself biased. He is the last person to try to tell us whose facts are correct. He doesn't model even-handed consideration of what happened, he complains that anything he doesn't agree with must be made up. And his perspective is from the right, as usual.

    1. Bob is given the killers point of view and the counter point to that. What he isn't looking at is whether this is part of the Republican party's terror campaign.

      Rittenhouse was being groomed by reactionary thugs before he did this and was applauded by them after. Nobody watches for left wing riots like the fascists do. They probably have a Google alert.

      This is a systemic problem involving official and unofficial extremist groups, multiple legal fights about who you can kill, and what gun or car you can do it with... Just the kind of story the media doesn't have a lot of practice telling. "Elon Musk gets corona" is more their speed.

      Republicans see people getting mad, wanting better lives. That's out of the question. Instead, let's discourage the act of protest itself, if you might get shot or hit by a car at a rally, or if the only image you're given of protesting is a blue state riot, suddenly Republicans feel a lot more safe from large protests going forward. And their base can stand by to act and become heroes whenever they're needed. So in other words, not only are these new recruits not protesting but theyre creating a culture where you kill those who do.

    2. Seconds before Rittenhouse murdered Rosenbaum, he can be seen chasing Rosenbaum, catching up with him and taunting him, and then running off with Rosenbaum following him until the moment when he turned quickly and killed Rosenbaum, and then excitedly galloped off. Rittenhouse is a psychopath. The right is using Rittenhouse to decriminalize murder for white people.

      Somerby's campaign of manufacturing ignorance through misinformation is sick and shows a lack of having a moral compass.

    3. Rittenhouse didn't have to be a psychopath to do what he did. Gun plus fear equals bang.

      In fact, empathy gets stronger as you mature, and as you experience hardship. We all can gain or lose empathy depending on how sheltered we are from the world and how much pain we're facing. This "empathy deficit" which is a vicious cycle in politics, is not always offensive and violent either, it can just be rudeness as well. Jeff Bezos opened a champagne bottle instead of listening to William Shatner share his thoughts on space. It wasn't evil, it was closer to just social blindness.

      All that said, the radicalism we're seeing in these kinds of groups is often intentionally aggressive.

    4. To be more clear, here's the study on empathy, suggesting it is one of the things that the power of wealth can corrupt, like any power does. The white rich and the white working/middle classes in America have a Master/Servant relationship in a way, the rich probably could care less about the culture war but it works and that is pretty psychotic, on the whole.

      So, Rittenhouse did a horrible thing, didn't need to be psychotic for this gap in our culture to influence him. He just needed to be close to a few of the GOP's foot solders and be fed an ideology of aggression, and he acted on that to the applause of one of the country's major business parties.

    5. Rittenhouse was not in fear; about the least radical thing one can say is: Rittenhouse is a psychopath. He has a history of violence. It is not normal to taunt someone and then kill them.

      Psychopathy is not an inherent entity, it has a cause.

      Studies show that right wingers have parts of the brain that are different sizes than non right wingers, trauma can be a cause of those different sizes, unresolved childhood trauma is likely a primary cause.

      Wealth, class, and race tend to be more issues of systemic and institutional natures. It almost does not matter, but a question is: does capitalism serve racism, or does racism serve capitalism? Whatever the case, these are the tools of oppression, these are the roots of societal misery, and frankly, and sadly, these will likely persist until the consequences of climate change come to fore.

    6. Studies shmudies. What's the risk of bias, sample size etc. Sounds dumb to me.

      Nazis love to be called mentally ill. It gets them lighter sentences. Rittenhouse didn't need to say that because young people are stupid psychopaths who cry anyways and that worked well enough. It also helped the judge blocked the court from discussion of Rittenhouse's politics, friendships with extremist Republicans etc.

      The judge helping him was systemic. The Republican party complimenting him was too. They've made this so normal that the judge could just call it politics and ignore it.

  3. The e.e. cummings poem continues from there, only Somerby doesn't quote any more of it. It goes on:

    "i will kiss your cool bark
    and hug you safe and tight
    just as your mother would,
    only don't be afraid"

    Not insignificant that Somerby omit the next stanza about being afraid of being kissed like your mother would. How telling!

    Continuing his aging hippie shtick, Somerby neglects that even in the 60s e.e. cummings was derided as the favorite poet of college freshman girls, with typographic affectation (akin to dotting the i's in your name with little hearts), accessible to all because of his superficiality, and nothing very profound to say about anything. Kind of like Kahlil Gibrahn, the other 60s favorite of stoned teenagers.

    E.e. cummings would nevertheless be repelled by Somerby's views. Whatever he was, he wasn't a conservative pretending to be liberal in order to criticize the left, seemingly from the left, while spreading conserative bullshit over every topic he touches.

    Somerby's right wing buddies would wonder why he talks about trees at Christmas and is afraid to talk about Jesus, like a real man (who is not afraid of his mother or the virgin Mary).

    Why am I so angry at Somerby? He defiles Christmas eve by defending Rittenhouse, a wannabee Proud Boy (flashing white supremacy signs in photos) enamored of violence and guns, who provoked a shooting then cried on the stand to make himself seem like the victim after shooting two UNARMED men in cold blood, and after defending that cretin, Somerby has the nerve to talk about Christmas! Eschewing messages of peace, love or joy, he focuses on a tree that deserved to live out its years in an actual forest and not on a window sill. And that is the Christmas spirit to Somerby. I would pity him but I believe he is causing too much sorrow to those who live on this planet along with him.

    1. "i will kiss your cool bark
      and hug you safe and tight"

      Bobby Somerby, you stop hugging that tree this instant!

      Now we know the true origin of the phrase tree-hugger.

  4. "little silent Christmas tree"

    How many noisy trees does one encounter?

    1. Far fewer in number than loud neckties or Hawaiian print shirts.

    2. What do you have against Hawaii?

    3. Nothing. Seems full of nice leis.

  5. Bob is sadly largely correct here, and he doesn't even go into the even more troubling case of St. Louis.
    But his own obsession with Rittenhouse seems steeped in his
    ignoring of the excellent and important reporting being done by
    Rachel Maddow on the outrageous goings on in Wisconsin, as
    Republicans continue to steal our Democracy. Pathetic.

    But, apparently Bob will spend serious time over the holidays
    trying to make a martyr out of poor, mentally challenged Donald
    Trump. Talk about a hell of your own making.

    Happy Christmas.

  6. Bob is proud of being liberal. In his mind, liberals are the "good guys", so he wants them to behave like good guys. In particular, he wants them to be honest and accurate. He doesn't simply want to win at all costs.

    1. That's why he didn't support Hillary or Biden, despite their being the Democratic party candidates?

    2. Didn't he vote for both of them? He surely didn't vote for Trump, who he considers to be insane.

    3. He may have written in Bernie, for all we know, or Jill Stein.


  7. "Velshi and Cobb are both good, decent people."

    Does it translate into English as 'lying dembot assholes', dear Bob?

    Of course it does.

  8. An unbiased media would admit "Let's go Brandon" is easily the smartest, most well-thought-out economic idea the Right has ever come up with.

  9. Every time Somerby mentions Rittenhouse (or any other right wing miscreant who thinks shooting people is cool), I am going to donate to the Brady campaign to end gun violence:

  10. Make Salmonella Great Again

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