STORYLINE CONQUERS KENOSHA: Kicking lessers to the curb!


Who cares about people like these?: Did Donald J. Trump believe he had Covid when he debated Joe Biden? 

(Full disclosure: At the present time, we can't answer that question.)

Did Trump think he had Covid? We opened yesterday morning's report with that very question. We had just watched a pseudo-discussion on Morning Joe in which Joe and Mika and Willie—but also Jonathan and Elise—engaged in the practice now widely described as Pathological Storyline.

(Alternate technical descriptor: Pathological Novelization.)

Remarkably, the Morning Joe staff has posted the videotape of that pseudo-discussion. We can't link you to the tape at this point, but you can find it here. It runs a bit more than eight minutes.

Last night, we watched another such pseudo-discussion—a pseudo-discussion of that same question—on CNN's Anderson Cooper show. That second pseudo-discussion was staged by Anderson and Gloria, with Lena apparently agreeing to withhold what she presumably knew.

We plan to discuss that second pseudo-discussion, in detail, in tomorrow's award-winning post. For now, you can review the transcript of that "managed discussion" simply by clicking here.

According to experts, Pathological Storyline—AKA, Pathological Novelization—has become a widely-observed psychiatric disability among this failing nation's failing and failed corporate "journalists."  

The syndrome is characterized by the pathological need to create Perfect Novelized Renditions—highly selective accounts of complex sets of facts, accounts which advance the Vastly Preferred Prior Storyline of some particular group (or "tribe").

These pseudo-discussions of Trump and Covid are prime examples of this syndrome at work. So too with much press treatment of the events in Kenosha in August 2020, and of the subsequent Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

In the past few days, we've called attention to Nellie Bowles' account of the looting and arson which occurred in Kenosha in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake.

The shooting occurred on August 23, 2020. A large amount of destruction ensued. As we've noted in the past few days, Bowles' nugget account of the matter included this:

BOWLES (11/16/20): In Kenosha, more than 35 small businesses were destroyed, and around 80 were damaged, according to the city’s business association. Almost all are locally owned and many are underinsured or struggling to manage.

“It’s a common problem, businesses being underinsured, and the consequences can be devastating,” said Peter Kochenburger, executive director of the Insurance Law LL.M. Program and a University of Connecticut law professor.

As we noted yesterday, Bowles described the losses, financial and otherwise, experienced by various people in Kenosha as their businesses, and sometimes their residences, were summarily burned to the ground.

Money was lost; pets were killed, children's winter clothing went up in flames. Apartment dwellers lost their homes—and, according to Bowles, the losses were greater among lower-income business owners, especially among those who weren't "white."

Are looting and arson valid components of "protest?" Opinions differ on that. At the very start of her lengthy report, Bowles described the attitudes which sometimes prevail on the bluer side of the nation's current tribal divide:

BOWLES: It’s a prominent refrain these days from activists in the aftermath of arson and looting—businesses have insurance. Buildings can be repaired. Broken glass is a small price to pay in a movement for justice.

One new book, “In Defense of Looting,” for example, argued that looting was an essential tactic against a racist capitalist society, and a largely victimless crime—again, because stores will be made whole through insurance. The top editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer resigned amid an outcry for publishing the headline, “Buildings Matter, Too.”

Do mere buildings matter too? At this point, are people even allowed to make such ridiculous statements?

At any rate, so began Bowles' lengthy report—a report which was, for whatever reason, buried inside the Business section of that day's New York Times. 

In print editions, her report appeared on page 5 of the newspaper's Business section. Later in the lengthy piece, Bowles returned to the question about the propriety of looting and "property destruction:"

BOWLES: Many on the left decry anyone who criticizes looting, arguing that it is a justifiable expression of rage, widely quoting (out of context) the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

At a recent antifa gathering in Portland, Ore., protesters shared literature arguing for the righteousness of property destruction with titles like “Why Break Windows.”

In a media critique earlier this year published on the website Refinery29, Britni de la Cretaz wrote: “Putting the focus on stealing objects from a store (during a pandemic, no less!) rather than on the injustice behind the looting, the horrific loss of life and racial violence that Black folks live with every day, is sending the message that property matters more than people. It just demonstrates the way that white supremacy sees more value in a TV set than in the life of a Black man.”

And Preston Mitchum, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, said in an interview: “Businesses will be OK. You can revive a business. You can’t bring back people who are killed by the cops.”

These adjunct professors today! Businesses will be OK, this particular scholar said.

As she continued, Bowles alleged that, in many instances, businesses owned by lower- or middle-income people will not be OK. 

Large corporate entities would generally be OK, Bowles said, but it works out differently for many Others. She even offered this:

BOWLES: The Rev. Jonathan Barker, who is a pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, said the riots hit Kenosha’s most vulnerable population. And he added that they tapped into an existing racial tension in the neighborhood.

Although there are many Black residents, most of the shops are owned by Middle Eastern, Asian and Latino families.

Some businesses will never bounce back, said Mr. Tagliapietra, who has been involved in citywide discussions on redevelopment.

There the Rev. Barker went, wantonly playing the race card!

According to the Rev. Barker, the looting and the arson "hit Kenosha’s most vulnerable population." As for Bowles, she let one of the malcontents make the following claims about the people who allegedly engaged in these forms of protest:

BOWLES: At the local used tire shop, the owner, Linda Tolliver, who is white, is waiting for new windows to replace those broken in the riots (her landlord’s insurance is covering it)...

The night after her shop was broken into, she stayed inside to guard it and watch what was happening. She was shocked, she said, to see so many white protesters destroying property in the name of Black lives. And they seemed to be well-off young people, with little sense of what a storefront means to a family like hers.

“It’s some blue-haired, latte-drinking hippie in Seattle coming here to raise hell while they go home to their nice beds,” said Ms. Tolliver, who is in her late 50s. “They don’t care about any of us.”

Stating the obvious, Tolliver's claims were highly anecdotal. Crazily, she seemed to be saying that highly-principled "white" protesters don't care about lesser beings such as herself.

Who burned down all those buildings in Kenosha? We can't tell you that. We can't cite the "race" or the family incomes of these people. We can't give you percentages about how many people of which demographic were involved in doing what.

That said, is arson a valid component of protest? Opinions differ on that question, often in complex ways. In the end, there is no ultimate answer on which everyone can be made to agree.

Having said that, we'll also say this—almost surely, Tolliver was right on one basic point. 

Frequently, members of the blue elite actually don't seem to care about people like her. To cite one high-profile example, the Washington Post's Robin Givhan philosophized rather broadly after the Rittenhouse verdicts. 

Along the way, the Post's senior critic-at-large dismissed the lessers in the manner shown:

GIVHAN (11/16/21): But all too often, White men with guns do not see themselves as a danger. They cannot fathom that their actions are suspect. They cannot envision themselves as anything but patriotic and godly. Their moral certitude has been so deeply embedded into the collective mind-set that what they choose to protect, whether a nondescript auto center or a vulnerable human being, is quickly presumed to be valuable and worthy of protection. 

On August 25, 2020, a group of "White men with guns" (including at least one "white" teenager) had been guarding a used car lot at which 140 cars had already been set ablaze. 

To the exquisite and lordly Givhan, the family-owned business in question was just "a nondescript auto center." Who but a bunch of vigilantes could have "presumed" such a nondescript place "to be valuable and worthy of protection?"

When we read words like those from the likes of the Princeton-credentialed Givhan, we think of Woody Guthrie. 

The Givhans have always regarded the lessers in the way she so clearly conveyed. Back in the Dust Bowl days, Guthrie's protagonist said it this way in one of his greatest songs:

I've mined in your mines and I've gathered in your corn
I've been working, Mister, since the day I was born
Now I worry all the time like I never did before
'Cause I ain't got no home in this world any more.

Now as I look around, it's mighty plain to see
This world is such a great and a funny place to be.
The gamblin' man is rich and the workin' man is poor,
And I ain't got no home in this world any more.

Guthrie's (former) working man pretty much had it right. 

Today, the gamblin' man is still rich, but so are the lordly beings who may inhabit Givhan's guild. All across the fruited plain, "from California to the New York island," The Others are able to see our tribe as we behave in these ways.

As is true with most human tribes, we're generally unable to see ourselves. More and more, and more and more, our corporate journalists may be inclined to keep us in the dark.

We'll continue this study next week. We'll continue to discuss the information presented on Fox News concerning Kenosha, as opposed to the reams of information which got disappeared Over Here.

As our tribunes disappeared those reams of information, Storyline conquered Kenosha. The Others were told about what we were doing. We ourselves remained in the dark, barefoot and largely clueless and feeding on Storyline

Next week: The things our tribe never heard

Two performances: Ain't Got No Home In This World Any More is one of Guthrie's greatest songs. For the classic Guthrie recording, you can just click here.

Back in 1988, Bruce Springsteen recorded the song for a Folkways tribute album. In our view, it was an inspired performance.


  1. "Alternate technical descriptor: Pathological Novelization."

    Meh. Garden variety dembottery.

    Or, if you prefer scientific jargon, dembotus vulgaris.

  2. "Did Donald J. Trump believe he had Covid when he debated Joe Biden?

    (Full disclosure: At the present time, we can't answer that question.)"

    Somerby falls back on his "anything is possible" therefore "no conclusion can be held" type of reasoning. It is fallacious. If it were applied in real life, it would be paralyzing to think that way.

    People reason probabilistically. What is the likelihood that, given Trump's ongoing sociopathic behavior, he deliberately suppressed the information that he had covid? A conclusion on that basis is inescapable, and it does not favor Trump.

    Mike and Joe and other human beings are not judging Trump based on "pleasing storyline" or "blue tribe narrative" but based on his own past behavior, based on the man he has shown himself to be.

    In order to maintain an open mind about Trump, Somerby also has to ignore the recent information released by Mark Meadows about events in the White House leading up to the debate and Trump's very obvious case of covid. In the context of that information, it is obvious what Trump did as well, and these cable show hosts are drawing conclusions based on that information, while Somerby is pretending it doesn't exist.

    Why work so hard to give Trump the benefit of a doubt he does not deserve? That is the main question remaining on the table. Somerby is no liberal. His crusade against his own invention of blue storyline is a cover for his attacks on the values and beliefs held by most liberals. It is better to see that for what it is, and not permit Somerby to gaslight liberals into being tentative about the things we do know. And we know that (1) Trump had covid, (2) he had a positive test, (3) he did not follow precautions to protect others around him, including Republicans and his own wife, (4) he did not disclose his possible covid infection to Biden, (5) he did not take precautions during the debate to protect others participating, (6) he clearly did not care whether Biden got covid or not.

  3. Did Donald Trump believe he had covid?

    Many of the anti-vaxxers who are hospitalized and die of covid do so without believing they have covid. That is part of the frustration that the medical community has when trying to effectively treat such people.

    What Trump believed is not the point.

  4. Givhan recounts the defense narrative:
    “In the defense attorney’s narrative, the defendant was not a nameless active shooter; he was Mr. Rittenhouse. He was Kyle. He was the civic-minded teenager who had come from his home in Antioch, Ill., to protect the bricks and mortar of a neighboring community. He wanted to preserve the businesses that give a place its economic foundation, as well as its texture, color and energy. Kyle was the kid who found himself under attack by an agitated Joseph Rosenbaum and so was forced to commit homicide in self-defense.”

    Then she adds:
    “It’s likely that Rittenhouse, now 18, is all of those things and more.” She affirms the defense narrative!

    She isn’t looking down on any business owners, not even when she describes a business as “nondescript.”

    She is making a different point that Somerby illustrates when he says “On August 25, 2020, a group of "White men with guns" (including at least one "white" teenager) had been guarding a used car lot at which 140 cars had already been set ablaze.”

    Somerby’s assumption here is that it was perfectly obvious that the white (“white”) men with guns were there “guarding a used car lot”, as if they were somehow entitled to that assumption from everyone who was there that night.

    A group of white men standing around with large guns are somehow, in Somerby’s world view, entitled to a presumption of good intentions.

    And that is Givhan’s point.

  5. I don't now if all Republicans have had COVID. I only know each and every Republican is a bigot and/ or is perfectly fine with bigotry.

  6. Neither Somerby nor Bowles nor the riot vigilantes care about Kenosha small businesses. Portraying them as some sort of victim, a la Guthrie's forgotten men, is ridiculous.

    Somerby ignores that the black people who live in such neighborhoods often resent the small businesses and their owners (Asian, Middle Eastern) because the prices are often gouging and the owners often treat neighborhood residents with suspicion of shoplifting or robbery or creating a nuisance via loitering outside. There are real neighborhood tensions which Somerby never discusses. Many poor residents of largely black neighborhoods consider that these businesses are preying upon them, especially in food deserts where there are no other stores at which to buy groceries and essentials nearby.

    I am not saying that this is an excuse for the rioting, but I do wonder why Tolliver noted so many white faces in a largely black community, among those she said were setting the fires. This IS consistent with the feeling that the alt-right commits a lot of mayhem in their desire to start a race war or civil war, or at least to blame the chaos on BLM and other protesters. Protesters know that property damage doesn't help their cause, despite the stray radical quote Bowles dug up (and Somerby gives excessive weight to while downplaying whatever evidence is in the protesters favor). Somerby says he cannot measure the demographics of what took place in Kenosha, but he is nevertheless clearly siding with Rittenhouse, the businesses and the white vigilantes (and yes, that is the correct name for them). Tolliver is the automotive equivalent of a slumlord, but Somerby believes her over anything presented on cable news, I suspect, because she aligns with his own conservative beliefs about protests and BLM, and what he hears on Fox these days.

  7. One new book, “Britni de la Cretaz”, an adjunct professor!!, a handful of “antifa” protesters.

    Do these really represent the cream of the crop elite liberals/leftists?

    Bowles and Somerby are going to have to do a lot better to prove that there is widespread support for looting amongst liberals and Democrats, many of whom own businesses.

    1. Adjunct means you are hired on an ad hoc basis to teach classes, usually part-time. Such a person is not a member of the permanent faculty, does no research, does not have tenure, and is not expected to publish or engage in university service. It is the lowest rung, like a temp in the corporate world. Some adjuncts do not have doctorates (are perhaps grad students somewhere else), the title
      "professor" is a courtesy to prevent students from being confused about how to address them, and they may actually be classified as lecturers in terms of pay scale. People outside academia don't understand such nuances, but an adjunct is extremely junior. It isn't surprising that extreme statements are found among such people (who now make up a large proportion of the academic workforce across the US.

    2. Widespread support for looters - all you have to do is read the comments here to find that.

    3. That's bullshit. No one here has supported looting.

    4. “Widespread support” as evidenced by what, 5 commenters? Your sample size is way too small, AC. And I haven’t seen it here anyway. But hey, it’s nice to be able to assert “widespread support” from no data, just gut feelings about liberals. But don’t ever judge The Others like that.

    5. Protest-looting is dwarfed by the looting perpetrated by the Right; as Somerby notes, we spend 2-3 times what other countries spend on healthcare, this country was founded on looting indigenous people and looting Black people.

      Big businesses have been looting us since the 14th amendment.

      Our society is defined by how we are looted, on a scale that is mind boggling; fretting about the small stuff is just a way for Somerby to manufacture ignorance.

    6. OK, I think you are correct, none of the TDH bashers has stated explicitly support for looting. I admit that. I think the tenor of the bashers is to the effect that the fact that there was arson, property destruction and looting is not relevant to appraising Rittenhouse's defense, which defense prevailed with the jury.

    7. 1) Rittenhouse's verdict is an attempt to decriminalize murder for white people.

      2) Right wingers, in cahoots with Republicans and corporations, have been looting Americans forever

      If you are struggling with these notions, you are a) a right winger, and b) lacking a moral compass.

      Might never makes right, whether it is slavers or fascists or modern day Republicans - a barely watered-down version of the former two.

  8. "Today, the gamblin' man is still rich, but so are the lordly beings who may inhabit Givhan's guild."

    Romantic bullshit.

    1. Gamblers nearly always lose eventually because the percentage is with the house.
    2. Givhan's salary is not lordly but commensurate with what other journalists with her achievements make.
    3. If you want to make more money, get more education and training.
    4. Givhan, like other journalists, worked hard to qualify for her job and works hard at doing it, for pay that is appropriate given her experience and qualifications. That is how the labor force works in America's capitalist society.
    5. Blaming Givhan for the poor souls who cannot study or work to earn a living is unfair. These poor souls are our collective responsibility in a society that believes that the common good is served by giving all a living income. If you don't believe that, as conservatives do not, then Givhan has no responsibility toward such people and Somerby's attempts to heap guilt on her for succeeding in her life is not only unfair, but also sexist.

    In summary, Givhan and her ilk are not responsible for the imbalances of our capitalist system. Neither are the BLM protesters or anyone on cable news (MSNBC & CNN especially).

    Use of liberal values to attack individual liberals (assuming Givahn is a Democrat, which she may not be) is slimy and dishonest. Somerby doesn't give a fuck about anyone living in Kenosha, any more than Rittenhouse did. But what else is new?

    In what likely scenario does a 17 year old (teens are notorious known for being self-involved) casually meet a car lot manager and decide to lay down his life to defend a bunch of burned out cars? It isn't surprising that he might change his mind about making that mortal sacrifice when confronted by reality, but if he did decide to stop guarding the lot, why did he have to shoot several unarmed men?

    And why doesn't Somerby follow this reasoning to the conclusion that Rittenhouse's defense makes no sense at all, even on its own terms?

    1. It does not make sense to decriminalize murder for white people, but that is what they were doing.

  9. Somerby keeps referring to what happens on talk shows as "pseudo-discussion" but how else could a discussion happen in such an environment. The panelists on Bill Maher's show also engage in pseudo-discussion. Also, Fox. It is just the format and it isn't a bad thing when there are time constraints involved and commercial breaks needed.

    I find this to be a pseudo-musing on media to give Somerby cover as a supposed media critic when he is actually engaged in political propagandizing for the right.

  10. "Now I worry all the time like I never did before
    'Cause I ain't got no home in this world any more."

    I wouldn't call this one of his greatest songs. For one thing, it is most likely personal to Guthrie himself, especially given that he was dying of Huntington's Chorea (and knew it) during much of his ramblings as a folk singer.

    Again, it is offensive when Somerby grabs the lyrics of some famous singer and pretends that they would approve of what he is doing here. It brings to mind the scene in The Right Stuff, where Scott Glenn is told "We like your Jose Jimenez impression just fine -- we don't like what you're doing with it."

    Guthrie was a great folksinger. Somerby not so much, in any of his endeavors. Borrowing second-hand greatness the way he does, with the hope that it will strengthen his writing or rub off on himself, is just pathetic.

    Woody Gutrie matters to real liberals. Somerby is not one, so he has no more excuse to quote Guthrie than Donald Trump would.

  11. definition of nondescript: "lacking distinctive or interesting features or characteristics"

    Saying that a small business is one among many similar businesses is not a knock on it, not derogatory. It does not justify Somerby claiming that anyone is looking down on such a business. It is like calling the business typical of its kind.

    Somerby has an extremely flimsy reed to hang today's attack upon, but that is pretty typical for Somerby too.

  12. I do wonder why Rittenhouse and his gang singled out that one business to protect, presumably ignoring all the others which were looted and burned. And without pay too! Why them?

    1. Also, the cars were burned the day before Rittenhouse got there, so what exactly were they protecting the next day?


  13. Whoa, Jussie Smollett trial judge is accused of beating up adorable Jussie Smollett's lawyers, while wearing a MAGA hat.

    Beautiful. Any comments, dear Bob?

  14. Also, you can't bring black people back who are killed by other black people.

    1. True, anon 2:51, but what is really unfair is that white people who have been killed do get brought back, as a feature of their white privilege.

    2. Hmm. We've always assumed that the killed black people are brought back also, because the brought-back killed white people need someone, y'know, to oppress.

    3. Leftist=human life is sacred

      Right Winger=businesses are sacred

    4. anon, while I'm hardly a "right winger" being a long time registered democrat who has never voted for anyone other than a democrat, it's not either/or. One can believe both that murder is wrong, and that arson, property destruction, and looting are also wrong, murder being worse obviously, as recognized by the law, but the other crimes are also serious. Being so simplistic isn't particularly clever.

    5. Hmm. Isn't it, rather:
      Liberal="Pro-Choice", Others="Pro-life"?

      Isn't it 'choice' that's sacred to your liberal cult, dear 9:28 PM dembot?

    6. Murder brutally ends life; clearly the Right wants the right for Whites to be able to murder without consequence.

      Looting is obviously relative, to suggest otherwise, or make nonsense equivalences is moronic, or is being too clever by half. The Left does not support the relatively insignificant looting via rioters, nor the large scale looting of society that the Right has perpetrated on Americans, ruining millions of lives, causing millions of deaths.

      Weak and servile morons like 12:22 and 1:17 roll over for the mighty Right; these people need help, most likely because they are suffering from unresolved childhood trauma.

  15. Bob is really helpful these days if you have a firewall to the evil Times tribe.

  16. According to Arizona State University, Kyle Rittenhouse is not enrolled in any courses there, including online courses. He had testified during his trial that he was taking online courses there. This is not summer or spring break, so there is no reason he would not be enrolled still, if he were ever enrolled in ASU as stated during his trial.

    But no one seems to care what lies he told during his trial, especially not Somerby.

    1. The biggest lie was that he reasonably feared death or great bodily harm from, you know...a plastic bag.

  17. Replies
    1. Bob assails performative virtue from what he terms "liberals'; 6:51 demonstrates perfectly Bob's pet peeve. Here's the dunce hat, there's the corner, you know what to do.