OUR RHETORIC, OURSELVES: Sick and paranoid baby-killers!

THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2022

Does this rhetoric help? Early this morning, we recalled the original red-faced ranter in NBC's "cable news" stable.

Back then, his name was Chris Matthews. He was the number-one red-faced ranter of NBC's cable arm.

For whatever reason, we recalled the ranting he unloosed in March 2000—his several nights of ranting about the so-called "Buddhist temple" incident. 

Over the course of those several nights, he spouted one factual falsehood after another. No one in the rest of the mainstream press corps had a word to say about his red-faced ranting, or about the falsehoods he produced.

That's the way the tribal game was being played back then. Starting abruptly in March 1999, this major cable star's nonstop ranting helped send George W. Bush to the White House. 

In that way, his twenty months of scripted ranting helped send the U.S. Army into Iraq. In that theater, weapons of war took the lives of many children—children our corporate red-faced ranters weren't inclined to rant about.

This morning, we watched the new ranter-in-chief, Joe Scarborough, as he extended his red-faced ranting and that of his gang of enablers. 

They name-called Others, though rarely by name, all through the 6 A.M. hour. These unspecified people were said to be "sick" and "evil," and "jackasses" too. They were "baby-killers," "sick son-of-a-bitches." They were also "freaks."

(During that entire hour, the NRA was never mentioned. The NRA was finally mentioned, though only once, at 7:05 A.M.)

So it is with this new cable ranter and his band of enablers. At present, they're spewing the rhetoric which tends to please the members of our own flailing tribe. But is there any reason to think that their ranting leads to good ends?

We know of no reason to think so. We had a similar reaction to the (well-intentioned) column by Roxanne Gay in this morning's New York Times.

Roxanne Gay is a good, decent person. She isn't a multimillionaire corporate ranter—one who continued to kiss the ascot of Candidate Trump all through 2015.

Roxanne Gay isn't Joe and Mika. That said, her reaction to the current moment is this:

She's had it with the endless calls for civility! Also, she's making little effort to say who's been making those endless calls.

Below, you see the way her column starts. Her column starts as these columns all do, with the columnist restating, for the ten millionth time, the various things her readers already know and believe:

GAY (5/26/22): There is a cultural obsession nowadays with civility, with the idea that if everyone is mannered enough, any impasse or difference of opinion can be bridged. But these are desperately uncivil times. And there is nothing more uncivilized than the political establishment’s inurement to the constancy of mass shootings in the United States: 60 deaths in Las Vegas, 49 deaths in Orlando, 26 deaths at Sandy Hook, 13 deaths in Columbine, 10 deaths in Buffalo. Adults, schoolchildren, concertgoers, nightclub revelers, grocery shoppers, teachers.

The scale of death in Uvalde, Texas, is unfathomable. At least 19 children and two teachers are dead. These staggering numbers will not change one single thing.

Time and again we are told, both implicitly and explicitly, that all we can do is endure this constancy of violence. All we can do is hope these bullets don’t hit our children or us. Or our families. Or our friends and neighbors. And if we dare to protest, if we dare to express our rage, if we dare to say enough, we are lectured about the importance of civility. We are told to stay calm and vote as an outlet for our anger.

According to Gay, the scale of death in Uvalde was extremely bad. Also according to Gay, we've been told, "time and again," that we shouldn't "express our rage," or pretty much even complain, about what happened there. 

If we dare to protest, "we are lectured about the importance of civility." Or at least, so says Gay—and with respect to what she says, we're willing to make this request:

Could someone buy Gay a TV set and get it hooked up to cable? Gay is not a corporate clown, but someone should tell her this:

A giant amount of rage is being expressed by the tribunes of our own failing tribe.

Within the borders of our tribe, we see no one coming forward to tell Joe, and all his pals, to put a lid on their rage. Within the borders of our tribe, it's ragescript all the way down.

Gay seems to be unaware of the constant ranting. She seems to feel that she and others are being stifled by a bevy of unnamed Others. 

Along the way, she finally offers a single example of who is lecturing her. She finally names one specific name, going back several weeks:

GAY: When asked for solutions, Republicans talk about arming teachers and training them to defend their classrooms. We hear about how good guys with guns will valiantly stop mass shootings, even though there have been good guys with guns at several mass shootings and they have not prevented these tragedies.

These politicians offer platitudes and prayers and Bible verses. But they do not care to do what must be done to stop the next gun massacre or the average of 321 people shot a day in the United States—including 42 murders and 65 suicides. It is critical that we state this truth clearly and repeatedly and loudly. That we don’t let them hide behind empty rhetoric. That they know we see through their lies. They must know that we know who they truly are.

They called for civility again and again, as they did during protests after Black people were shot or killed by the police in Ferguson and Kenosha and Minneapolis and Louisville. They called for civility when a draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade leaked this month. The draft decision tells people of childbearing age that they have no bodily autonomy. It is barbaric.

In the wake of the leak, there were lawful, peaceful protests outside some of the justices’ homes. Journalists and politicians proceeded to fall all over themselves to condemn these protests as incivility—as if the protests were the problem. The Washington Post editorial board wrote that justices have a right to private lives, that public protests should never breach certain boundaries.

They call for civility, but the definition of civility is malleable and ever-changing. Civility is whatever enables them to wield power without question or challenge.

Who has been lecturing Gay, "time and again," in the manner described? Get ready for a surprise!

In the end, she doesn't name any Republican pols. She doesn't even reference the recent events in Uvalde.

In the end, she names only the Washington Post! She cites an editorial in which the Post criticized a particular brand of protest which, it seems to us, was likely to be counter-productive in the political realm.

Do people like Gay want to hear their own greatness shouted out loud, or do they want to win? Roxanne Gay is a good, decent person, but it seems to us that her judgment is weirdly fallible here.

In our view, our country's systems, such as they were, have already fallen apart in a way which quite possibly can't be repaired. As we've often said, we see no obvious way out of our current mess. 

That said, we don't recommend howling into the wind—and we've often mentioned a pair of scenes from a famous film. 

The movie in question is Gone With the Wind. In an early scene, a bunch of silly Southern boys woo Miss Scarlett with boastful talk about how they can't wait to go to war with the Yankees.

Midway through this famous film, the camera pulls back to show us a scene from a devastated Atlanta. A giant, otherwise empty field is filled with the dead and the dying. 

Those silly boys had longed for war, and now they lay dead and defeated.

The recent events in Uvalde have largely served to wipe away the recent events in Buffalo. Tomorrow, we'll visit the rhetoric which emerged from our own blue tribe in the wake of that first disastrous event.

In our view, our cable stars produced the dumbest possible rhetoric in the aftermath of the Buffalo murders. That said, it's largely been that way for maybe three decades now. 

If you're a liberal—if you're a progressive—then you must promise us this:

You mustn't assume that you get good advice from our corporate-selected "thought leaders." Simply put, it isn't as simple as that.

Chris Matthews was a red-faced agent of deception and destruction. Widespread destruction followed. 

Matthews was a red-faced ranter. On balance, so are the corporate-selected tribunes who have taken his place. 

With respect to our current thought leaders, you must promise us this:

You must promise that you won't assume that these players are acting in full good faith. You must promise that you won't assume that they possess good judgment.

Personally, we would favor massive restrictions on the ability of certain types of people to buy certain type of guns. That said, the question is this:

Do Joe and Mika know how to accomplish that policy goal? Is their stupid, braindead rhetoric—is Joe's nonstop screaming and yelling—really the way we might get there?

Is their rhetoric really helpful? Or are these corporate-paid multimillionaires self-involved and self-impressed—unhelpful, feckless and dumb?

Tomorrow: Mike Barnicle / Stephanie Ruhle


  1. "At present, they're spewing the rhetoric which tends to please the members of our own flailing tribe. But is there any reason to think that their ranting leads to good ends?"

    Well, presumably it benefits your liberal tribe, dear Bob. Otherwise your liberal shamans wouldn't be singing the song and dancing the dance.

    There is, of course, a chance that your tribal wizards who script your tribal shamans' performances will fuck up and make things worse for your tribe.

    ...but then your scumbag tribe is (or appears to be) so fucked up already that your tribal chiefs will try anything. No such thing as 'too hysterical' or 'or too moronic' for them...

    So, dear Bob, either turn them off, as normal people do, or keep suffering...

    1. Yeah careful, the "kids gloves" are coming off now and the libs are going to play some "hard ball".

      It's hard not to laugh.

  2. Their side is racist. Our side is moral. It's that simple.

    1. Not sure about the "Our side is moral" part, but you nailed it with the other two statements.

    2. 12:13 IS CORRECT

      Definitionally the right wing movement is racist. They used to say "n word, n word, n word" but then they realized they could not say that anymore and started talking about their concerns more abstractly. Then Trump came along and freed them from those shackles, they are hesitatingly removing those shackles and with people like Somerby's encouragement, they will increasingly exhibit their true nature.

      "Our side" may or may not be "moral", whatever that means, but we do work to diminish oppression and increase the health of our society.

      These guys ARE our side, let me know what part of what they propose you oppose. Meanwhile let me know when right wingers propose anything similar, or frankly, anything positive at all. Let me know when right wingers do anything besides take away our rights and oppress everyone who is not male and white and preferably monied enough to own property


  3. A reasonable discussion with gun rights extremists (aka the GOP) is off the table at this point. Attempt to have such a discussion, and you are immediately branded an enemy of freedom, and a communist/terrorist sympathizer.

    The use of the term “baby-killer” has arguably been effective when used by the anti-abortion faction. Perhaps turnabout is fair play here. Calling the GOP by that name might serve to galvanize greater opposition to their extreme (and in my view insane) pro-gun position. Because large majorities of people, including many Republican voters, are horrified and sickened by these massacres and how the GOP is trying to normalize them.

    1. including many Republican voters, are horrified and sickened by these massacres

      And then they will go back and re-elect swamp creatures like Rafeal Cruz and little Marco Rubio. These people have no soul and trump has shown them there is no cost to be cynical lying corrupt bastards,

    2. Right. At the end of the day the responsibility is ours. Polls say that 69% of Americans are in favor of keeping Roe V. Wade. However, people do not vote this way, which is why reproductive freedom is out the door. The same with gun control. Most people want gun control, and then vote for people who don't want it.

    3. "Most people want gun control, and then vote for people who don't want it."

      Damn you, Civil Rights Act of 1964!

  4. I'm interested in further discussion about de-funding the police, and providing weapons to teachers.
    How hard will this be? And does the Right have the political will to make it happen?

    1. On the one hand teachers are horrible people grooming the little children to be LGBT and sneaking into the library nasty books about black history. Therefore, it only makes sense to arm the teachers and deputize them to be the first line of defense against lunatics wielding military grade assault rifles.

  5. Left, Right, or Center, we can all agree with NWA.

  6. Same old thing here from Bob, which of course is AT LEAST equally true of both sides, while Bob;s ire ( dubiously claiming he is one of us) falls about 90 percent on liberal sins (including some rather obviously imagined).
    Bob seems annoyed that Gay thinks Uvalde is some sort of big deal, which tells us a lot about Bob.
    When he goes back to his useful days now, talking about Matthews, it only confuses matters.

  7. Does Somerby ever post something that is not a faceplant?

    Somerby scoffs the notion that we might be shouted down with calls for civility were we to dare protest.


    And here is how a rising right wing star addressed the shooting:


    Somerby is uncomfortable with protest; protests are generally disastrous when right wingers do it, and effective when those on the left do it.

    We tried the "let's all get along" neoliberal route from the 80's through Obama, it was a colossal failure. We on the Left do want to progress society, that is why we reject Somerby's notions.