More like Fox with each passing day!


Adventures in dumbnification: Last evening, a raft of despondent intellectual giants gifted us with their current view of the world.

(Full disclosure: They did so through a series of the nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.)

In a nutshell, these disconsolate experts said this:

Vladimir Putin spent the past month preparing to gobble Europe's second largest nation. As he did, North American leaders were trying to get a bunch of crackpots to move their trucks off a bridge.

Yesterday, David Brooks sanitized this bleak view as part of a highly insightful column. We refer to this part of his essay:

BROOKS (2/18/22): What is the key factor that has made the 21st century so dark, regressive and dangerous?

The normal thing to say is that the liberal world order is in crisis. But just saying that doesn’t explain why. Why are people [around the world] rejecting liberalism? What weakness in liberalism is its enemies exploiting? What is at the root of this dark century? Let me offer one explanation.


The 21st century has become a dark century because the seedbeds of democracy have been neglected and normal historical authoritarianism is on the march. Putin and Xi seem confident that the winds of history are at their back. Writing in The Times a few weeks ago, [Fiona] Hill said that Putin believes the United States is in the same predicament Russia was in during the 1990s—“weakened at home and in retreat abroad.” 

As we struggle to clear a bridge, does Putin think such thoughts? 

We don't know what Putin thinks. But if he doesn't think that we're "weakened at home," we'd say that he certainly ought to!

We strongly recommend Brooks' column, which was widely praised in comments. In part, we'd call your attention to these parts of the gentleman's thesis:

BROOKS: The real problem is in the seedbeds of democracy, the institutions that are supposed to mold a citizenry and make us qualified to practice democracy. To restore those seedbeds, we first have to relearn the wisdom of the founders: We are not as virtuous as we think we are. Americans are no better than anyone else. Democracy is not natural; it is an artificial accomplishment that takes enormous work.

Then we need to fortify the institutions that are supposed to teach the democratic skills: how to weigh evidence and commit to truth; how to correct for your own partisan blinders and learn to doubt your own opinions; how to respect people you disagree with; how to avoid catastrophism, conspiracy and apocalyptic thinking; how to avoid supporting demagogues; how to craft complex compromises.

We aren't as virtuous as we think, Brooks sagaciously says. He also makes these assessments:

We need to learn how to weigh evidence. We need to learn how to commit to truth. We need to learn how to correct for our own partisan blinders.

We need to learn to doubt our own opinions. We need to learn how to respect people we disagree with.

We agree with all those points! We think our own tribe's recent "adventures in paraphrase" provide a good object lesson.

Friend, do you believe it? Do you believe that the RNC issued a unanimous statement saying that the violent assaults of January 6 were examples of "legitimate political discourse?"

Friend, do you really believe that? Granted, the RNC didn't explicitly say that. 

But do you think that's a valid paraphrase of what the RNC said? Do you believe that that's a sensible account of what they actually meant?

For ourselves, we've regarded the RNC as a major clown show for more than twenty years. That said, no:

We don't think that's a sound paraphrase of what the RNC said. And we see no reason to believe that that's what the RNC meant.

The RNC has long been a clown show—but we don't believe that even they are anywhere near that crazy. (It may be that Donald Trump is.) And here's another key point:

We don't believe it's honest or decent to keep reporting that the RNC said that—to keep presenting that as an established fact—without mentioning these two points:

First, the resolution doesn't say any such thing in an explicit way. And second, major figures in the RNC have repeatedly said that they do condemn the violence which occurred on January 6.

In our view, the RNC is a long-standing clown show. Also, much of what one sees on Fox News may border on the insane.

That said:

The gruesome behavior of our own liberal stars becomes more and more like that on Fox with each passing day. Routinely now, our corporate stars assail us with script in ways which reinforce a pair of major assessments:

First, people will do and say a lot of things to retain massively high-paying corporate jobs. Also, man (sic) is really the tribal animal—the creature which runs on script.

The O'Donnells, the Dionnes, the Woodruffs, the Capeharts? The Velshis, the Melbers, the Kilgores, Chris Hayes?

One after another, the leading lights of our own failing tribe stood in line to make the remarkable claim that the RNC had described those violent assaults as "legitimate political discourse."

The resolution in question had made no such explicit statement; RNC leaders had quickly denied that that was what they meant. But our horrifically tribalized stars all crept forward to recite. This is who and what we humans are, major top experts all tell us.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. If Putin doesn't think we're in trouble here, he's dumber than anyone thinks.

We're largely dissolving into a Babel of exceptionally dumb warring tribes. As we do, very few people seem to know "how to how to weigh evidence" about tribal claims as they attempt to "commit to truth." 

There's nothing so dumb that people won't say it! (We watched C-Span this morning.) Sadly, that's increasingly true within our own tribe, from Woodruff and Dionne right on down.

Importantly, let's be fair. For the average person, it's harder "to weigh evidence" now than it ever was in the past. 

In the past, it was hard to gain access to crazy viewpoints and claims. Today, the promulgation of crazy claims is a very large, round-the-clock business.

On Fox, they're constantly selling such cars. But our favorite stars are selling such cars on our own cable channels too.

Even within our self-impressed tribe, we have very few skills with which to assess such claims. Within each tribe, we tend to believe whatever we're told. In the process, our Babel expands.

We become a dimwitted Babel composed of inane warring tribes. As this happens, the traditional strongmen of the world look on, and they see that it's good.

Putin's about to gobble Ukraine. Over here, the Woodruffs, O'Donnells and Dionnes increasingly make us dumber.

More on this to come next week. As Dylan said, it's a drag to see Us! We need to confront who we are.


  1. If you aren't calling Right-wingers "fascists", you're doing it wrong.

  2. "As we struggle to clear a bridge, does Putin think such thoughts?"

    Sure, sure, dear Bob, your brain-dead liberal cult's mind readers know.

    So, dear Bob, it seems that your concerns (from a couple of years ago) about the "Big War" are finally coming to fruition.

    Your liberal cult's "wag the dog" games may easily lead to the end of human civilization. But of course you, dear Bob, with your misanthropic state of mind, won't be too upset about it, right?

    Tsk. Oh well...

  3. "More like Fox with each passing day!"

    Now that CNN will be in the hands of a Trump supporter, this sentence may be prophetic.

  4. "They did so through a series of the nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams"

    Cecelia thinks that Somerby is a Galahad, pure of heart, then he makes a reference like this one, obviously referring to "noctural emissions" or "wet dreams" which is what they call it when a man ejaculates during sleep.

    But East Bumfuck County (which obviously refers to a place) is too delicate for Somerby's ears...because sodomy. This is another case of right-wing selective sensitivity.

  5. "Vladimir Putin spent the past month preparing to gobble Europe's second largest nation. As he did, North American leaders were trying to get a bunch of crackpots to move their trucks off a bridge."

    Here we have a paragraph presented as a quote (inset in italics) but without attribution. Who said this? Somerby refers only to "experts" but it matters a lot which one. This is lazy, loose handling of other people's words. It isn't clear whether he is playing a game with this or simply forgot to say who wrote it, but that isn't how journalism or opinion writing works.

  6. " Why are people [around the world] rejecting liberalism?"

    Actually, they are not. Liberals have won more seats and are now in charge in more countries in Europe than ever before. This is a good time to be a liberal. Temporary swings to authoritarian leaders in countries such as Italy have been reversed by recent election results. Brooks seems to be behind the times.

    1. Ah yes, Europe, the only place in the world that exists.

    2. I can be argued that Europe is more important to us than East Bumfuck Egypt.

    3. I hope the daily kos writes about the Suez crisis for your benefit one day

  7. "Then we need to fortify the institutions that are supposed to teach the democratic skills: how to weigh evidence and commit to truth; how to correct for your own partisan blinders and learn to doubt your own opinions; how to respect people you disagree with; how to avoid catastrophism, conspiracy and apocalyptic thinking; how to avoid supporting demagogues; how to craft complex compromises."

    This sounds like something a Republican might write, to encourage liberals to doubt themselves and be open to conservative ideas and propaganda. I disagree strongly with several of the recommendations:

    1. It isn't necessary to cast off partisan blinders if you have used a sound method to weigh evidence in the first place.
    2. The commitment to truth requires that one not abandon truth simply because it appears to be partisan in your direction. There is nothing wrong with being partisan if your opinions are based on sound evidence.
    3. There is nothing inherently good about doubting your own opinions, especially if you have established them based on honest inquiry and evidence. Doubting what you know can be immobilizing and prevent action based on that knowledge. This, of course, is what Republicans would like to see happen. Hobbled Democrats frozen by self-doubt.
    4. It is one thing to respect others during an honest disagreement but there is no requirement to respect demagoguery, propagandizing, political ratfucking and warfare, or craziness. These are not worthy of respect by anyone. To the extent then are "respected," they have more room to thrive.
    5. Avoiding conspiracy theories, catastrophizing, demagoguery etc is more of a problem for Republicans than Democrats. We are already doing this. It is up to the conservatives to approach this problem. It doesn't help when they label evidence-based statements as "fake news" and substitute their own preferred beliefs for reality.
    6. The intransigence of the right, part of "party discipline" prevents any kind of compromise, complex or not. Until the right stops using this tactic for political purposes, no progress can be made. Again, Democrats have shown themselves willing to compromise, but not Republicans.

    There is an inherent bothsiderism to listing these exhortations but behaving as if they apply equally to everyone, when they plainly do not. Until Brooks acknowledges that, he cannot be taken seriously as a pundit.

    I would bet that the favorable letters came from conservatives. I cannot see how any liberal could approve of this bullshit about the decline of liberalism, followed by such a distorted list. Our deep partisan divide exists for partisan reasons, not because of how people think or what they learned in school. It is time for the Republicans to do major soul-searching to see whether their current strategies are really good for our country, including themselves. Maybe when a few of them go to jail, they will rethink their anything goes approach to politics.

  8. "We think our own tribe's recent "adventures in paraphrase" provide a good object lesson."

    I think this object lesson provided by the refusal to accept nitpicky loopholes as an evasion of responsibility for supporting violence illustrates the commitment to truth instead of acceptance of politically motivated bullshit.

    I sense that Somerby doesn't see it this way. So, what happens when we cannot agree about how to apply Brooks' suggestions?

  9. "Friend, do you believe it? Do you believe that the RNC issued a unanimous statement saying that the violent assaults of January 6 were examples of "legitimate political discourse?""

    Yes, and Somerby left out the part about the investigation being persecution of ordinary citizens by the Democrats. The RNC said that too, explicitly undermining the search for truth and evidence that both Somerby and Brooks called for just a moment ago.

  10. "But do you think that's a valid paraphrase of what the RNC said?"

    We do not have to "paraphrase" what the RNC resolution said. We can quote it. It refers to the persecution of ordinary citizens by Democrats for participation in normal political discourse. Since the investigation concerns 1/6, one must assume that the RNC considers 1/6 to be what is meant by "normal political discourse". There is no other activity mentioned.

    Brooks and Somerby cannot call for the abandonment of the normal parsing of language in order to meet their partisan political needs. That is Orwellian territory and entirely incompatible with any search for evidence or defense of truth.

    As mh has pointed out, the RNC resolution was revised to remove specificity in that passage, in an obvious attempt to keep things vague. One cannot do that, and then claim to be misinterpreted when it is impossible to both support and repudiate what happened on 1/6 as convenience dictates. This is called weasel wording, and intelligent people recognize it when they see it, including liberals.

    It is shameful that Somerby would defend weasel wording and then call for a search for unbiased truth. Who does he think he is fooling (besides Cecelia)?

    1. That makes about as much sense as a fur umbrella.

    2. 12:46, now, why don’t you deal with the substance of what 12:06 said?

    3. The Republican Party's support of Antifa, while shocking to many, should be wholly supported by all.

    4. I'm fine to respectfully agree to disagree with them. And you.

  11. "There's nothing so dumb that people won't say it! (We watched C-Span this morning.) Sadly, that's increasingly true within our own tribe, from Woodruff and Dionne right on down."

    And exactly how does this statement by Somerby exemplify respect for people Somerby disagrees with?

    Perhaps that stricture is one-way and only goes towards conservatives, not from them toward those of us who disagree with Somerby's sophistry.

  12. "Within each tribe, we tend to believe whatever we're told. "

    Is this why so few of the liberals here believe what Somerby tells us? Or does this indicate that Somerby is not part of our so-called tribe?

    1. What he tells is not representative of what liberals are told. It runs contrary to what liberals are told. So the indication is that he does not believe everything he is told and your disbelief of what he tells indicates you do.

    2. 12:44 so, Somerby is not within the tribe? And I’d like to know what you think is representative of what “liberals” are told, and who is doing the telling.

    3. I think he IS believing everything he is being told by Republican (i.e., McDaniels revised version, Rittenhouse's testimony, Brooks' view of our partisan divide). He doesn't believe what liberals say, which suggests he is not a liberal, not that liberals are wrong about such things. But way to think like a pretzel!

    4. I'm sure all of us will agree that Rittenhouse, despite not having the world's most nuanced and cunning trigger finger, is one of the cutest young men any of us could ever hope to come across. And with such a great head of hair.

    5. He's no Micah X. Johnson.

  13. "As Dylan said, it's a drag to see Us! We need to confront who we are."

    Actually, Dylan said it is a drag to see YOU. His complaints had nothing to do with liberalism, so I don't think he was talking about us.

    Given the diversity and lively discussion within liberaldom, the pressure from progressives and the competing needs within our party, I don't think we are short on self-examination. I do think Somerby could benefit from it, however, especially since he thinks Dylan is speaking to him.

  14. “Vladimir Putin spent the past month preparing to gobble Europe's second largest nation. As he did, North American leaders were trying to get a bunch of crackpots to move their trucks off a bridge.”

    Which “leaders?” Aside from Trudeau, that is.

    The truck protest was preventing the flow of goods and people between the US and Canada. It was having an economic impact. It was in defiance of Canadian law.

    Canada has a right and an obligation to deal with this.

    Meanwhile, Somerby’s clowning ignores the very serious efforts from the Biden Administration to deal with the Ukrainian situation.

    Why is Somerby such an ass?

  15. You might be a conservative if...the people you quote approvingly are conservatives, such as David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan.

    1. It would be more interesting if you addressed the substance of what was written.

    2. I did, elsewhere above. But it is also important to point out that the people Somerby quotes approvingly are generally conservatives, such as Brooks today. That is odd behavior for someone who claims to be liberal.

      Somerby says: "Even within our self-impressed tribe, we have very few skills with which to assess such claims. "

      Somerby is not one of us and is not entitled to use the word "we" and refer to the rest of us as his tribe. That is entirely relevant to the conservative-serving garbage he has posted today.

    3. 12:39
      The substance of Brooks? Of Somerby?

      It makes about as much sense as a fur umbrella, to quote 12:46.

    4. "That is odd behavior for someone who claims to be liberal."

      It's not odd at all when the criticism is a lack of correcting our own partisan blinders and doubting our own opinions. It makes complete and total sense.

  16. If the RNC didn’t mean to imply that all of 1/6 was “legitimate political discourse”, then it would seem that they might support a commission to look into the violence that they so plainly abhor and condemn.

    But guess what? The House Republicans under McCarthy opposed the commission before it even began meeting. They wanted zero Republicans to serve on it, to be able to later complain how partisan it was. Cheney and Kinzinger defied their party, hence their censure. Official GOP candidates are calling it a “witch hunt” directed against Trump. And he and his minions are responsible for what happened, violence and all.

    Why does Somerby play these Republican word games?

  17. “Within each tribe, we tend to believe whatever we're told.”

    Told by whom?

    1. By, for example, Digby, No More Mr. Nice Guy Blog, the god-awful Lawyers Guns and Money, MSNBC, TPM. All of those entities are not allowed to dissent from each other. They repeat the same memes over and over in lockstep. Any dissent from the party line would be an exclusion from the club. It's so unbelievably fourth grade. It's what led you fools into believing Trump colluded with Russia. Some of you idiots still do even!. None of those entities are allowed to break down and tell you the truth about what happened there.

    2. If one of them were to break from the club of 4th grade heathers that they are, they would automatically be labelled in the same way Somerby is here. You're kicked out of the club! You are not one of us!

      It's the equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and shouting "WAAAIII".

      You people are children. No question about it.

    3. 1:52,
      Democrats refuse to see that they are losing elections because they are in the pocket of corporations, who they do their bidding for.

      Also, the fact they are Marxists and Socialists, who want to cripple our economy through big government over-regulation of business is losing them elections.
      Don't you agree?

    4. It's what leads people to mock the idea that Trump voters are economically anxious. That is something the aforementioned outlets told you and tell you. And not only that they showed you how to be snarky about it and use it as a conversation killer. It's the behavior of narcissists. They behave like fourth grade narcissists. And people who buy into it and believe it follow suit.

      You see a lot of that here in these comments. Repeating of conversation killing scripts that were taught. They are all learned and taught. People believed what they were told. Partly probably because it made them feel like they were part of a club. Maybe that’s something they never had before.

    5. I don't agree with that.

    6. "It's what leads people to mock the idea that Trump voters are economically anxious."

      That, and their glee in voting for a guy who has a well known history of using financial leverage to stiff his contractors.

    7. Sure. Who could forget the Right-wing insurrection when Trump gave the establishment elites, who were sitting on piles of cash, a HUGE tax break?

    8. Those websites are mostly not written by a single person, but by multiple contributors. They offer a variety of opinions and do not necessarily agree with each other. Each has a distinct focus and specialization. They get roasted in comments by other liberals, who frequently engage in a dialog that is more interesting than the original post.

      I have never seen any of them TELL someone else what to think. The remarks about 4th grade girls are just hurtful. Have you given up on respecting those you disagree with already?

    9. Here is an excerpt from an article posted yesterday by Digby:

      "Following up on tristero’s post below, I thought I would offer what appears to be a reasonable and well-documented corrective to some of the left’s arguments concerning the Ukraine situation. As I have written many times, I’m against imperialistic incursions into sovereign countries no matter who’s doing it and I oppose authoritarian regimes at home and abroad."

      Does this sound like liberal blogs are all agreeing with each other? The word "corrective" implies disagreement and she is disagreeing with ideas coming from the left. I think this kind of thing is the norm, not an exception, on liberal blogs.

    10. "Following up on tristero’s post below, I thought I would offer what appears to be a reasonable and well-documented corrective to some of the left’s arguments concerning the Ukraine situation ... But in this situation as bad as we are, and as bad as we have been and may be becoming, we are not in the same league. Pretending otherwise is delusional."

      Dear Queen of all Misreadings,

      This is liberal blogs are all agreeing with each other. She thought she "would" "disagree with ideas coming from the left" - but she goes on not to!! She goes on to completely agree with her cohort of Heathers. Dissent is not simply not allowed.

      Another misreading - you do this on purpose you lil faker!!!! Got me again.

    11. What little we know about Trump and Russia (it was barely investigated by a bought Republican) does show he colluded with Russia, going back decades. 1:52 you can whine and redefine terms however you like, but what Trump did was corrupt, and it is unhealthy for society to have a corrupt leader like Trump as we saw how badly he handled Covid, causing hundreds of thousand of unnecessary deaths and economic destruction. We saw how inequality increased under his leadership, oppression increased.

      Burying your head in the sand about Trump's corrupt nature makes you complicit, you are a lost soul, with no moral compass. This is hard to face, you will never face it, but we all see it, which is why you never get anywhere, you'll only find fellow right wingers to agree with your nonsense. As you wallow in your miserable immorality, the rest of us non right wingers continue to fight for progress.

    12. Not burying one's head in the sand about the false accusations of collusion etc that that have been attributed to Trump by the liberal media ecosystem that allows no dissent among itself and acts like a churlish mob of evil, spoiled schoolchildren is not the same as burying one's head in the sand about Trump's corrupt nature.

    13. What point are you describing?

    14. 1017 made a really really really stupid post. 1017 you didn't even read that before making your post? How do you explain the complete ignorance of what you wrote there? And where the hell is Greg? I need to talk to him about some similar asininity.

    15. You can't call ALL Republican voters "bigots", because it hurts 2:21's feelings.

  18. "Friend, do you believe it? Do you believe that the RNC issued a unanimous statement saying that the violent assaults of January 6 were examples of "legitimate political discourse?"

    Most know the words came from one dunce, BUT many know her words were fully accepted by the usual suspects of the GOP. Not a peep of real protest.

    The woods ARE dark and deep indeed.

  19. "As he did, North American leaders were trying to get a bunch of crackpots to move their trucks off a bridge."

    The experts in Bob's head are doing a subtle shift here, from complaining about US leaders to North American leaders. Bob has always complained about US leaders; is he going to start critiquing and complaining about Canadian leaders, since the protests there happened on the Canadian side? Maybe Bob thinks the US should have sent police or US armed forces into Canada, without being invited to do so?

    It is also perplexing to me that Bob has not considered that this resolution was adopted by the RNC with its confusing language since Trump has been saying previous to it that he may pardon the January 6th rioters. Has Bob considered that the RNC might be trying to have its cake and eat it, too, issuing a confusing statement that allows them to appear to both defend the January 6th rioters and those it alleges did nothing wrong by being involved with the (fake? forged? bogus?) electoral college certificates?

    It is weird that Bob (or the experts in his head) haven't condemned the RNC for using the irrelevant and dumb talking point that those allegedly being persecuted were "not even in DC on January 6th." It seems to me to be as irrelevant as the "can of tea and bad of skittles" or "carrying a fire arm across state lines" or many other inane and irrelevant talking points our side has come up with over the years.

    Also, will Bob comment on Gene Lyons recent column which kind of cribbed from one of his blog posts and calls him a conspiracy theorist?

  20. They're warning a million children in Afghanistan are going to starve. But I don't believe in catastrophic thinking.

    A million children in Afghanistan will permanently overcome obesity.

    1. How many children are already starving in other countries? Funny you never mention them.

    2. Can we assume that you are onboard with efforts to deal with climate change? It will cause greater starvation, all over the world, than the Taliban did when it overthrew the legitimate government in Afghanistan.

      Have you sent your contributions to Unicef? They supply food and medical supplies to areas in crisis, like Afghanistan. They don't hold children responsible for the actions of adults, nor do they hold them hostage to political decision-making as 6:48 keeps doing.

    3. Donating to UNICEF to stop starvation is like recycling your diet soda cans to stop global warming. It's actually a systemic problem, according to the United Nations.

      If you're having trouble getting upset about it enough to bother a politician or two, just pretend that they're from one of the countries that matters to you.

  21. “Vladimir Putin spent the past month preparing to gobble Europe's second largest nation. As he did, North American leaders were trying to get a bunch of crackpots to move their trucks off a bridge.”

    Somerby is seriously twisted. As I said earlier, Trudeau is dealing with this, because it is an internal Canadian issue, involving a blockade of the flow of goods and people and a refusal to follow the vaccine mandate.

    It is the right wing, particularly Fox, that have been giving the truck protest wall-to-wall coverage, turning the protesters into heroes. How much coverage have they given to Ukraine?

    Meanwhile, Biden, the only other North American leader, has made serious diplomatic efforts and preparations for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. This has been fully covered on msnbc and other mainstream outlets, contradicting Somerby’s idiotic statement the other day that it’s all Trump all the time.

    Meanwhile, Carlson at Fox suggests Putin is justified, and Bartiromo suggests that Biden’s focus on Ukraine is a way of distracting from the latest Durham vomit.


  22. Bob really got so into this blog he forgot that Republicans use dog whistles and they've been getting good at it for a while now.

    In other news, the South Side of Chicago just blocked a polluting metal shredder from moving into a "sacrifice zone," a neighborhood that's polluted because regular people are easier to push around. Even their own alderman was calling the protesters whiners and liars two years ago.

    The cable news won't tell you, January 6 was fake activism. The anti mask, anti vaccine movements are fake activism. They're just there to waste your time so that you don't do anything that benefits yourself. Just like watching cable news.

    They want a nation of angry babies to justify being in control of us and TV is how they make us into that image.

    1. I don't think these things are fake activism to the people involved in them.

  23. Somerby should read the book: Reason and Less: Pursuing Food, Sex and Politics, by Vinod Goel. It explains why reason alone will not change attitudes and beliefs, especially about other people (Somerby's The Others).

    The author suggests that reason alone doesn't dictate behavior but works together with other systems, including association, instinct and autonomic response.

    This article, drawn from the book, suggests that when people "do their own research" they are primarily just deciding who to believe, not making an independent decison based on facts. This occurs because they do not have the background knowledge and training to analyze the many competing facts. Those who do have such knowledge are called experts. The description of what people do when they attempt their own research might change Somerby's mind about the value of expertise.

    Somerby has very little understanding of psychology or neuroscience and it results in some outrageously incorrect statements in his blog. This book might be a good start at remedying that problem, since it directly addresses Somerby's main focus here.

  24. Tom Sullivan at Digby's Blog says:

    "American exceptionalism means no one is above the law except the rich and powerful. It is an open secret. Gerald Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon for Watergate enabled Ronald Reagan’s, George W. Bush’s, and Donald “The world is laughing at us” Trump’s criminality.* How many times will our justice system shy from defending the precept that no one is above the law before hanging up its scales for good? Trump has exploited America’s system of unequal justice his entire life. As evidence of his criminality mounts, lawmen, lawmakers, and jurists must decide whether to codify de facto inequality or silence the laughter."

  25. Here is Driftglass's take on this situation. He sees bothsidesism, represented by people such as David Brooks, Matt Bai and Axios, as the problem because it encourages complacency about the behavior of the right:

    "Yesterday we talked about how defunding the police and Hillary Clinton eating babies and Barack Obama being a covert Kenyan Communist and the Affordable Care Act's secret provisions for murdering our sainted grannies and COVID being a hoax and Bill Clinton being a drug dealer who had Vince Foster assassinated and Fred Hampton shooting first and the wrong side winning The War of Northern Aggression are not actual problems for Democrats.

    They are symptoms of the problem.

    The actual problem is that the Fox News/ Rush Limbaugh Conservative media has spent decades building a pipeline into the homes of +70 million Americans through which they have been pumping their poison 24/7.

    The actual problem is that the racist meatheads on the receiving end of this pipeline are so addicted to that poison that they will actively fight against anyone trying to tell them anything different, even at the cost of their own lives and the lives of their families. Because that's how junkies do.

    The actual problem is that the mainstream press is equally committed to peddling its own lies about the polity. Lies to comfort the cosseted cowards and smug elites who are just as addicted to their Both Siderist mythology as the wingnuts are to their Vince Foster/Baby Eating/Secret Kenyan crack.

    And so every time the Right lurches another hundred yards into outright fascism, the mainstream press feels compelled to dredge up another reliable Beltway hack to tell the cosseted cowards and smug elites not to worry because it's really Both Sides! "

    Somerby takes this stance too, with even greater criticism of the left and none for the right. But we on the left did not cause Fox News, did not cause the extremist take-over of the Republican party and are not responsible for the hatred of the left fostered by the right, especially in rural areas. This is a Republican problem.

  26. Somerby traffics in defeatism. It is all he talks about. Why? I have speculated that he may be depressed, but Bill Palmer has a better explanation, in my opinion:

    "This swarm of devastating rulings against Donald Trump has finally convinced a lot of you that his future really does consist of bankruptcy and prison, not some kind of mythical comeback. It’s good to see some of the defeatist fretting finally subside, and give way to positive momentum. When defeatism rules the day, it’s difficult to organize and put in the work and win any upcoming battles. But when your side has momentum and is able to see what a win looks like, it becomes a whole lot easier to organize and win tough battles such as, say, the 2022 midterms."

    A demoralized left only benefits the right wing. When you understand that, it becomes very obvious what Somerby's goals are and what he is working toward.

    1. Please share with me whatever you're huffing if you think any Republican would pine this much over the Clinton era

  27. It would have been nice if Brooks hadn’t spent so many years cheerleading for Republicans and condemning Democrats from his prominent position at the (checks notes) “liberal” New York Times, thereby helping to produce the current polarization.

    But whatever.

    He seems to be saying (at least judging by the excerpts Somerby has provided) that liberalism is in retreat around the world, that the US is part of that trend, and that that is at least partly because liberal parties are no longer devoted to facts and evidence, and that we all must re-dedicate ourselves to that.

    It seems incoherent to me, because, for one thing, he seems to be implying that it is a bad thing that liberalism is in retreat, despite being himself a conservative and having spent the bulk of his career denouncing liberalism. Also, his platitudes about re-dedicating ourselves to facts and evidence ignore how far gone the Republican Party now is, a party that he now finds distasteful (should have seen that coming, David), and a party that is impervious to change.

    Who is Brooks’ audience from his perch at the NYT? He needs to be making his case on Fox News and in the Wall Street Journal, because liberals can’t by themselves fix the shit he helped break.

  28. Brooks's recommendations ought to be just routine. Any institution is imperfect and should be striving to improve. Yet, in today's tribal world, his column comes across as radical and anti-liberal.

    1. Why don’t you implore your GOP to take Brooks to heart? Then contemplate how laughable Brooks’ column and your comment are.

    2. If you want to understand David Brooks, you must read driftglass who has been documenting this bullshitter for decades.

      From his most recent:

      Since the 2000s --- when he made a living writing liberals-are-stupid-and-crazy hit pieces as the managing editor of The Weekly Standard -- until today Mr. Brooks is almost congenitally incapable of speaking truthfully about what has happened to his Conservative movement and his Republican Party during the several decades long period when he was one of the Right's most active and ubiquitous evangelists.

      There is barely a mention about the influence of Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh to be found anywhere in his writing. There is no Lee Atwater, no Southern Strategy, no Powell Memo. One of the only columns where Brooks bared his fangs -- when he lost it and went on a fulminating rampage -- was occasioned by the suggestion that St. Ronald Reagan had campaigned in the South by repeatedly playing on the racism of Southern whites. Also the Tea Party was just a bunch of heartland patriots who love Murrica and not racist in any way. Also the GOP has purged itself of that tiny handful of crazies and is doing just great now!....

      Also, everybody calm down because It's Gonna Be Rubio!

      And then along came Donald Trump and did to the fairy tales of Brave Republicans and Noble Conservatism that Mr. Brooks has been peddling his entire adult like exactly what Donald Trump did to official documents which the Presidential Records Act requires that every president preserve: .....

      In Mr. Brooks' new revisionist history...

      ...Conservatism's glorious past is still glorious,

      ...but with no warning whatsoever, the Right went completely and inexplicably insane.

      ...This all transpired suddenly 5-6 years ago...

      ...and no one saw it coming.

      ...Many friendships were lost because, suddenly, Good Conservatives no longer recognized...

      ...these suddenly newly Bad Conservatives.

      ...Have I mentioned how sudden this all was?

      ...That there were no alarm bells whatsoever. No Big Red Lights blinking. That all of this caught all of us professional political havers-of-opinions and Good Conservatives completely by surprise.

      ...But take heart, because as bad as things may look now, a bright, new Future Conservatism is just around the corner!

    3. Yes, mh, the GOP has many flaws, also.

    4. AnonymousFebruary 20, 2022 at 2:20 PM

      Excellent summation of the lifelong evilness of David Brooks.

    5. David,
      How does not teaching the history of slavery in the United States help the nation strive to improve?

    6. Berto - I'm not in the classroom, so my opinion is based only on what I read. My impression is that slavery is included in every history syllabus, and it always has been included.. What's being resisted is false statements, such as the US being founded on slavery.

      Another problem is that, from what I read, students are being taught to blame today's white children for past misdeeds by different white people. This simply racism. It's like blaming today's Asians because or terrible things done by some other Asians, namely the Japanese in the 1930's and 1940's.

    7. David,
      Got it. You're reading typical Right-wing bullshit, and because you aren't very smart, you believe it.
      Thanks for the honest reply.

    8. CRT teaches it's the system that is racist, not individual white people.
      How could so many 'economically anxious" Republican voters, who can't even spell "white grievance", never mind have it be the only thing they care about at all, believe it blames white children for being racists?

  29. Here is an example of actual media criticism, as opposed to what Somerby pretends to do here: