Can you believe the things you read?


What Greg Sargent said: We still hope to get to what many have said about the Vice President Pence. Here it is, in a recent iteration by Ed Kilgore:

KILGORE (2/20/22): But perhaps the most jarring example of selective memory about Trump’s election coup comes from the man he has singularly and relentlessly blamed for spoiling it all: former vice-president Mike Pence. To be clear, the evidence suggests that Trump’s trusty and sycophantic veep vacillated until the very last moment before he “betrayed” the boss by refusing to abuse his position as the presiding officer of the January 6 joint session of Congress by denying confirmation of Biden’s Electoral College victory. According to the latest insider account, he was shown a tweet by conservative legal luminary Michael Luttig denying any vice-presidential power to change the results before completely making up his mind the very morning of the planned heist.

Somewhat sadly, Kilgore starts with the words "to be clear," then issues a mandated howler. That said, we'll skip this comforting groaner today in favor of what Sargent said.

We've seen people say it a million times. Here it is again, in the latest report about "the latest GOP restrictions on race teaching:"

SARGENT (2/23/22): Tennessee parents objected to the teaching of a book that portrayed the Jim Crow era in blunt and graphic terms, insisting it would make kids “hate their country.” Tennessee law prohibits teaching “concepts” that might make someone feel “discomfort” due to their race.

Oddly, Sargent provides no link to the Tennessee law in question. Last September, a pair of scribes at CNN offered this account of a Tennessee law they were willing to link to and name:

MCMORRIS-SANTORO AND EDWARDS (9/29/21): In May, Gov. Bill Lee signed HB 580, a law aimed at banning so-called critical race theory from schools. Educators argue that critical race theory is not taught or included in the K-12 curriculum and is usually an elective class in college or law school.

Section 51, part 6 of the Tennessee law makes lesson plans illegal if students "feel discomfort, guilt, or anguish."

You can assess the overall law as you like. But is that what the law actually says? Does Section 51(a), part 6 really say that you can't teach something if it makes students feel discomfort? Or does that section of the law really say something different?

You can judge that matter for yourselves simply by clicking here. But as a general matter, it's impossible to have a serious discussion of any topic or any claim under current tribal arrangements, in which it's script all the way down. 

Meanwhile, how about Pence? In the run-up to January 6, did he "vacillate until the very last moment before he 'betrayed' the boss?" 

By now, that pleasing claim is sacred writ within our embarrassing tribe.  But is that what "the latest insider account" really says?

Kilgore links to this Politico report by Ryan Lizza—but that simply isn't what Lizza's report really says. Also, that isn't what Woodward and Costa said in their ballyhooed book, Peril—and it was selective treatment of that book's contents which started this Storyline.

Remember, it's all anthropology now. We'll offer this overview:

The pandemic has seemed to lead to many adverse effects. Homicide is up; reckless driving is up; so are crackpot airline incidents.

Some are now saying that the stress of the pandemic has perhaps driven Putin half-nuts! To appearances, the stress of seeing our nation fail is also having adverse effects on the tribunes of our own tribe.

To appearances, leading members of our tribe no longer know how to make accurate statements. Nuance and accuracy are almost completely gone. Round the decay of our tribal wreck, only recitation of script remains.

Anthropologically, we no longer seem to know how to make accurate statements. On the other hand, a question arises:

Did we humans ever possess that skill? A wide array of scholars and experts say the answer is possibly no!

Tomorrow: Luttig and Pence and Woodward and Costa and precision and nuance oh my!


  1. "Can you believe the things you read?"

    Why, dear Bob, of course you can (and should) believe that brain-dead dembots only produce meaningless dembottery. That's clear.

    And now for something completely different:
    Here's what we read:

    Joe Rogan asserted this week that anyone who now cannot see that Joe Biden is cognitively “basically a shell” is “out of their fucking mind.”

    ...we remember a couple of years ago you were greatly upset -- practically devastated! -- that Big Media Pundits shy away from discussing president's cognitive condition.

    Do you remember, dear Bob: you couldn't stop complaining about it! Do you remember?

    But for some completely mysterious reason you never mention it these days... What happened to you, dear Bob? What happened?..

    1. Day after day, this degenerate insults common decency, Bob never posts without an almost without an instant reply. Is it this joker's job to keep an eye on Bob, is he perhaps the one who now bankrolls him?
      Yes, pure speculation on this part, but clearly access to the comments is now being blocked, but someone (Bob?) finds this acceptable.

  2. I just want my kids back.

  3. Section 51 says that it is prohibited to teach that:

    "(6) An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex; "

    The penalty is that funds will be withheld from the school where this is taught.

    Sargent said: "Tennessee law prohibits teaching “concepts” that might make someone feel “discomfort” due to their race."

    McMorris-Santoro and Edwards said: "Section 51, part 6 of the Tennessee law makes lesson plans illegal if students "feel discomfort, guilt, or anguish."

    Somerby then says: "Does Section 51(a), part 6 really say that you can't teach something if it makes students feel discomfort? Or does that section of the law really say something different?"

    If you parse this law closely, it says that teachers are prohibited from telling students they (or anyone else) should feel guilty because of their race. Those quotes transformed this into saying that it is against the law for students to actually feel guilt or distress because of what is taught.

    These are two different things, but they mainly differ in that the law prohibits teaching that may be the means of causing distress, not the resulting feelings of children. The law prohibits presentations that might tend to make students feel distress or guilt. The things that might lead to such feelings are enumerated and specifically prohibited. The standard given in that Section is not whether kids feel bad, but whether the lesson plan focuses on the list of specific topics enumerated in Section 51. The list includes things that no liberal would want to see taught to students.

    Sargent's characterization is correct, if you allow the phrase "“concepts” that might make someone feel “discomfort” due to their race" to refer to the things enumerated in subsections 1-14, such as telling children they should feel guilty about what was done. I think Sargent's version is correct, if not specific.

    McMorris-Santoro and Edwards' interpretation is wrong because nothing in that Section refers to how the children feel. But that makes the TN parents incorrect too, since their argument against the book was that it would make their kids feel a particular way. The content of that book about Jim Crow is specifically allowed by the law. Only if the book instructs kids to feel bad does it fit subsection 6.

    If Sargent had made this long argument, along Somerby's line of reasoning, would readers have understood it? I don't think so. Since Sargent's brief summary was basically correct and the parents were incorrect, I don't think Somerby has as big a beef as he thinks he has.

    Should anyone have to parse things this narrowly in order to understand a news report? I don't think so. Somerby insistence of nit-picky accuracy that ignores larger intentions and meaning is unhelpful too, especially since he always couples it with blanket statements about how awful the press and liberals are. These are provided without evidence and a tone of pique and grievance that echoes the right-wing's grievance machine. And the drip-drip-drip of nit-picky criticism of the press tends to undermine public trust in an institution that is essential to maintaining our democracy. Somerby is doing something that is way worse than whatever McMorris-Santoro and Edwards did -- exaggerating the failures of the press.

  4. "To appearances, the stress of seeing our nation fail is also having adverse effects on the tribunes of our own tribe."

    Our nation is not failing. By many measures, it is doing better than ever before. Trump was a failure, but he is gone.

    Who gains when Somerby convinces liberal readers that the nation has failed? Conservatives, those who don't want to see Biden reelected, Putin and his ilk, those seeking to turn our country into an autocracy for their own benefit.

    1. Are our schools failing? What do NAEP scores say?
    2. Is inflation out of control? What does Kevin Drum say? What does The Fed say -- they aren't raising interest rates the way they would if inflation were a serious problem.
    3. Is our economy failing? Is the stock market up or down? What is the failure rate of businesses? Are people unemployed? Not much.
    4. Has Biden been unable to pass legislation due to a gridlocked Congress? On some matters but not others. Biden passed a badly needed stimulus bill and an infrastructure bill, and now the govt is being funded through bipartisan action.
    5. What is the rate of child poverty? Up or down? Hint: way down.
    6. What is happening with Covid? Biden was able to weather the last Omicron variant and now that is receding, while people are increasingly being vaccinated despite Republican obstruction.
    7. Are people optimistic or pessimistic? What is consumer spending like?

    Most of our nation's problems arise from Republican malfeasance, but saying that our nation has failed is ridiculous and only benefits conservatives. Why would Somerby say such an untrue thing? What are his motives?

    1. Speaking of questions, notice how Somerby doesn't come right out and make definitive statements about anything, but instead asks a question that has the implied answer inherent in its phrasing? That's because he never takes responsibility for his opinions. He always attributes his statements to "experts" or "the analysts" who are weeping, and so on. He let Tafoya do the heavy lifting today. Whatta guy! What does the word craven mean? Inquiring minds want to know.

    2. Bob used to be a teacher. He gets flashbacks to classroom disorder when adults are dumb. It would be nice, he says, if we actually attempted to be mature.

      One of the central beliefs in liberal politics is fairness. If we have a good reputation from being thoughtful, we'll win. Cable news talk shows and the major papers pretend to offer this thoughtfulness and this vexes him, and he wants to express his pious suffering.

      Liberals today think being against capitalism is base and pedestrian, so it's not bad to be a millionaire, but it's a problem to them that the millionaires on TV keep proving themselves to be stupid.

    3. 'Fairness' is the central belief in all kinds of politics, including the German Nazi party politics of the 1930s and 40s.

      In other words, saying that you believe in 'fairness' is vacuous drivel. Completely meaningless. ...well, to those with functioning brains, obviously.

    4. Actually the Nazi party didn't have any principles except power. They pretended to participate in democracy until it was possible to take power by coup.

      Today we can see one of the major American parties following this playbook as well. Suddenly they care about monopolies and don't trust the elites. But they don't trust mass protests or unions. A Republican terrorist just shot a half dozen women in Portland for their politics.

    5. Actually, the Nazi party did have principles.

      Precisely the same principles that your "tribe" has: that some 'races'/'ethnicities' are more deserving than others, and some 'races'/'ethnicities' are inherently evil.

      We see no difference at all between their principles and yours.

    6. Republican voters don't love Trump because of his long history of using financial leverage to stiff his contractors. They love Trump because he's a white supremacist.
      They also love Putin, because Putin never points out that all they care about is bigotry.

    7. American liberals might be snobby about being less racist than thou but that's a far cry from race science.

      There's simply no comparison anymore. The Republican party has a fascist faction standing by.

  5. No, Bob, the pandemic did NOT lead to an increase in homicides. Homicides are DOWN in other western nations. It was the anti-police movement, especially promoted by Black Lives Matter, that led to the increase in homicides. It isn't rocket science to know that more policing leads to less crime and vice versa.

    The increased number of murder victims in especially severe in cities with large black populations. Is it a bug or a feature that the BLM movement led to an increased loss of black lives?

    1. You don't know that to a certainty.

    2. "Homicides are DOWN in other western nations"

      Other western nations don't have as many guns as we do in our country. Fewer guns means fewer homicides. Guns have increased dramatically during covid.

    3. Most states saw their murder rates go up between 2019 and 2020. At least eight states saw their murder rates rise by 40% or more last year, with the largest percentage increases in Montana (+84%), South Dakota (+81%), Delaware (+62%) and Kentucky (+61%), according to the CDC.

      They have a big BLM movement in Montana, do they David? You're such a horse's ass.

    4. @6:47 your logic doesn't work. I was changes over time within nation.

    5. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own set of facts. There is consensus that the rise in homicides is related to the dramatic increase in gun ownership with covid.

    6. Besides the gun discussion, which can't be dismissed, the best book on the political causes of the homicide rate is "American Homicide," by Randolph Roth. He showed that when government cares about people, we kill each other less.

      BLM and other voices for the people are part of this reassurance and doesn't increase crime, they often reduced it before the pandemic hit. Occupy Wall Street produced similar results.

      During the pandemic, we were gruffly told to get back to our McDonald's post and stop slacking off. Benefits were chopped apart and cancelled, evictions encouraged, the society isn't stable. It's more tempting to be a criminal if nobody cares and the legal alternative pays less. Also, poor people are easier to rob than rich people, and yet we keep making a lot of them.

      Major media outlets comjured fear of Red China to sell us to the advertisers. The fear of BLM is also feeding the terrorists in the Republican Party, such as Andy Ngo's fan club. Hate crimes are up across the board.

      The fear and alienation, paired with our gun culture, is the answer most consistent with the research why homicides are up. It's likely why places like Canada can have guns without topping the charts in homicides, although they aren't at the bottom of the pack either.

    7. It sucks that one of our two political parties is against the government helping the citizens, because some of those citizens are black.

    8. While tempting to believe David's theory, cops usually don't stop crime. They're just there to shield the rich neighborhoods from crime and push it to where it belongs, somewhere else.

  6. Minnow's blues: Bob's work has taken a distinct turn to the autobiographical, focusing on news events of his boyhood and early Dylan albums that must have affected him deeply. Generally, they have zip to do with any subject he is paying lip service to. The young people today are sometimes criticized for not getting that some things happened before they were born. Bob seems a variation on this, only his early lessons mattered, when people were telling him what a bright young man he was. The world must not be permitted to change.
    Yet he would never write about the coverage of the Aubery killing, not because he has no problem with the coverage, but because the case itself runs counter to the bill of goods he's been selling himself all his life. (At times, I bought some of those bills too).
    It's a sad fall, some of Bob's bullshit detecting skills brought him admiration from readers one suspects have long departed.
    "And they just TAKE it!" Bob used to write of liberals who didn't stand up to nonsense from the corporate press. Now he insists they take it from HIM...
    As to this story, it's hyperbole (it's clearly an opinion piece) seems about the minimal one should expect from these times... but Bob is coward, too silly now to stand up to the Trump disaster in any way.