SATURDAY: Many cultures, many views!


Our blue tribe's fellow citizens:  How did Samuel Alito get on the Supreme Court in the first place?

We mean that as a basic historical question, not as a denigration of Alito. In one major respect, the answer to that question is perfectly clear.

Samuel Alito got on the Court after he was nominated by President George W. Bush. In January 2006, the nomination was confirmed by the Senate in a 58-42 vote, with four Democrats voting for confirmation.

(The four Democrats were Robert Byrd, West Virginia; Ben Nelson, Nebraska; Kent Conrad, North Dakota; Tim Johnson, South Dakota. By now, it's virtually impossible for Democrats to win Senat seats in those states, Joe Manchin notwithstanding.)

In short, Alito got on the Court because George W. Bush reached the White House. In the end, the behaviors which put Bush in the White House are the behaviors which explain why Alito is on the  Court.

In that sense, Lawrence O'Donnell's twenty-month silence—his twenty-month lack of rage—put Alito where he is. We especially recall his Hardball appearance of May 5, 2000, when he described the way the mainstream press—but especially the New York Times—had adjusted its behavior in the course of waging its war against Candidate Gore.

This past Thursday night, O'Donnell said he was "enraged" by Alito's draft opinion. Back in May 2000, he showed no sign of being enraged as he told Chris Matthews about the way the mainstream press, and the Times in particular, had begun to adjust its coverage of Candidate Gore.

The things he said to Matthews that night were unusually accurate and unusually revealing. But he showed no sign of being "enraged" by the journalistic conduct he was describing. He showed no sign of being disturbed by such absurd press behavior at all.

Alas! For twenty months during Campaign 2000, what happened in the mainstream press corps stayed in the mainstream press corps! One mainstream journalist after another professed bewilderment at the hostile coverage being directed at Gore, but no one seemed to be able to explain it.

In the instance under review, Gore was challenging Candidate Bush's new proposal to privatize part of Social Security. Astonishingly, Gore was instantly assailed, by cable pundits and by the New York Times itself, for daring to adopt such a nasty "scare tactic."

The criticisms of Gore made exactly zero sense. But they came hard and fast from the mainstream press, not from the right-wing machine.

Along came O'Donnell, a man of many subsequent enragements. As he spoke with Matthews that night, he showed no sign of being deeply concerned by the press corps' behavior at all.

It's hard to recreate the context of this remarkable press corps episode. For one account of O'Donnell's Hardball appearance, you can click here. For a real-time citation of O'Donnell's appearance, you can just click this.

(For a fuller account of the Times' reporting and the ancillary punditry, click here. O'Donnell described the start of this strange behavior, but he was moved to none of his trademark rage, not by that and not by all the rest of the ludicrous coverage of that fateful campaign.)

The mainstream press—and especially the New York Times—was waging a war against Gore. To this day, people like O'Donnell have never discussed this relentless press corps behavior, but Lawrence is eager to show his rage at the draft opinion from the Justice whose elevation to the Court he himself helped to create.

In that beginning was this end! It's easy to scream about Alito in the current context. But as we're directed to scream about the Alitos, the years of behavior by the O'Donnells remain undescribed and undiscussed, right to this very day—and their behavior during Campaign 2000 explains Alito's presence on the Court.

Time and energy willing, we may discuss this matter in more detail next week. Simply put, Alito sits on the Court today because of the raft of "liberal" pundits who refused to bark about the way Campaign 2000 was reported by the upper-end mainstream press corps.

In that beginning was this end. This does explain how we've reached this place—and your favorite TV stars are never going to tell you.

Many cultures, many views: We're a very large, continental nation—one which encompasses many different cultures and many different cultural views.

In this morning's New York Times, three reporters describe the views of Hispanic voters in Texas, and especially in South Texas, concerning abortion rights. We recommend the entire report, but we direct your attention to this passage:

DOBBINS ET AL (5/7/22): ...2018 data from the Public Religion Research Institute found that Hispanics in Texas are less likely than other Americans to say they believe abortion should be legal in all cases, with 53 percent saying it should be illegal in most or all cases. Gallup’s Values and Beliefs poll last year found that low-income voters are also more likely to identify themselves as “pro life,” a trend that has held steady for several years and could be a factor in Mr. Cuellar’s largely working-class district. But in a poll from the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin released last June, 54 percent of Hispanics said they were opposed to a ban on abortion if Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Uh-oh! In that poll from the Texas Politics Project, 34 percent of Hispanic respondents said they would favor a ban on abortion if Roe was overturned! Simply put, not everyone who adopts this view is the snarling, "angry white male" our tribe's pundits love to focus their own anger on.

Those "pro life" Hispanic voters are our fellow citizens too. Their cultural views may differ from yours on the question of abortion rights. 

Under present arrangements, we're encouraged to loathe such people. Is there a way to approach the world without indulging such ancient instincts?

(For extra credit only: Whatever happened to such soothing rhetoric as "safe, legal and rare?" Compare and contrast. Discuss. What is a winning strategy?)


  1. Speaking of the mainstream press corps behavior: we remember you, dear Bob, being enraged, a coupla years ago, of their miserable failure to address sitting president's mental condition.

    Are you still enraged, dear Bob? You seem -- inexplicably! -- not enraged any more. What gives?

    Here's Howie Carr for you, describing the abovementioned mental state:

    1. Anyone who isn't a bigot, or isn't perfectly fine with bigotry, left the Republican Party more than two decades ago.

  2. If my roomie just barely failed to be elected President, I'd be wound up, too. However, IMO the media didn't favor Bush. They were more balanced. They weren't as biased in favor of Gore as they usually are for Democrats.

    Bob rightly points out issues where the media were unfair to Gore. But, on the huge issue of intelligence and competence, the media continually propounded the idea that Bush was stupid, even though Bush's academic record was considerably superior to Gore's. IMO Bush's accomplishments were also superior to Gore's although this is a subjective matter.

    1. The media pretends Republican voters care about something other than bigotry and white supremacy. I'd say that favors Republicans more than Democrats.

    2. "as they usually are for Democrats."

      Meh. They aren't usually go in for the Ds. They play for the team chosen by the establishment; team's name is not important.

      It just that nowadays Ds are the most reliable minions of the globalist establishment.

    3. Good luck trying to picture Mao being at all upset that Trump gave the Establishment a HUGE tax break, when they were sitting on mountains of cash.

    4. He didn't "amble into history" without sycophancy from mainstream media power centers.

    5. "They weren't as biased in favor of Gore as they usually are for Democrats."

      David write sentences like this as if he is unaware that there are methods for counting articles and evaluating media bias during election periods. There is no evidence that the mainstream media favors Democrats, that it is liberal itself, or that it usually is pro-Democrat. This is an unsupported lie that conservatives love to push.

  3. Hispanics are leaving the Democratic Party. Must be party because their values vary from the current, scary, sulfuric incarnation of the party that acts like a gang of high school bullies.

  4. Alito's presence on the Court is the result of a lot of
    pathetic political performance on the part of Democrats.
    W, smarting from his Iraqi disaster, had nominated a
    completely unqualified woman who was laughed out of
    the process. The hard right had been the most
    critical of him for it, and demanded a reactionary.
    The Dems could have organized against him, and
    said, "Mr. President, you got your hard conservative,
    go back and find and a talented moderate judge."
    It was worth the effort even if it didn't work.
    Many such errors led on the Dems part damned
    us to the current sad situation. Bob is just mad at
    Lawrence O"Donnell so he makes that the issue.
    Again, he demands respect and good will for people
    who never extend it. It is funny that he goes back to
    Clinton time and complains about people remaining
    silent. But in the last four years everything that went
    on with Ciinton/Gore has been rewritten (yes, the
    Dems have been goaded into silence that is
    nonetheless disgraceful) and Bob has remained
    utterly silent himself, too busy twisting himself into
    knots trying to present Trump in the best possible


  5. Ketanji Brown Jackson, we're back, baby.

  6. 2/3 of the supreme court justices are Catholics. That's because a Catholic activist got the ear of Trump (who appointed 3 justices). Of course they want Roe v Wade overturned -- the Catholic church has been opposed to abortion consistently. But when Catholics are only 20% of our nation's population, should they be determining policy based on religious views, for a non-Catholic nation?

    Somerby says it was Gore's loss that started things off, but that is not true. It was Trump's win that is responsible for this brief. And that happened because of Russian interference, Comey's malfeasance, and the mainstream media's attacks on Hillary. It also happened because of Bernie and his failure to close ranks and support Hillary during her campaign. And Somerby himself called her a failed candidate, predicted Trump would win, blamed Hillary for her loss (when it was demonstrably due to other factors) and himself did not support her candidacy. But he has the nerve to focus on Gore's suit buttons! Somerby has never acknowledged the many ways that Gore torpedoed his own campaign. Meanwhile, Somerby helped the right pull down Hillary, helped Russia put Trump into office, helped Trump nominate incompetent justices such as Kavanaugh and supported Kavanaugh during his hearing, making specious arguments against finding the truth of the accusations against him.

    I blame Somerby, along with the right wing, for the loss of abortion rights. I hope the public rises up and corrects this injustice and I will be working to help that happen. Somerby is not on our side when he talks about Gore -- his bff roomate from Harvard who cares so much about our nation that he abandoned it after his election loss. Gore didn't deserve to win.

  7. The same forces put Scalia and Thomas on the court.

  8. "Whatever happened to such soothing rhetoric as "safe, legal and rare?"

    You didn't vote for Hillary -- that's what happened.

  9. “Lawrence O'Donnell's twenty-month silence—his twenty-month lack of rage—put Alito where he is.”

    This is a narrative that Somerby has created to blame the current potential overturning of Roe v Wade on Lawrence O’Donnell, of all people, rather than acknowledging the many forces that were and are actually present in our society. Millions of Republicans were happy with Bush and his choice, Alito, but it’s Lawrence O’Donnell’s “fault”! Or maybe it’s liberals’ fault for “sleeping in the woods.”

    Alito was confirmed in Bush’s second term, after the election that Kerry lost. It’s unclear that O’Connor would have retired had Gore won in 2000, and it’s unclear that Gore would have won in 2004 had he won in 2000.

    So, it’s a nice, convenient, over-simplified narrative that Somerby has constructed here.

  10. The press did behave badly towards Gore; Somerby was always right about that.

    But does anyone think that Gore lost his own home state of Tennessee because of “Lawrence O’Donnell?” Isn’t it more likely that Tennesseans had moved to the right of Gore? He would have won the presidency had he won Tennessee.

  11. “Whatever happened to such soothing rhetoric as "safe, legal and rare?"

    That has always been and continues to be the goal. But that never satisfied hard-core pro-life voters, and thus the GOP has adopted the most hard-core position on this. Support for abortion used to be higher amongst Republicans than Democrats!

    But it’s hard for liberals to discuss “safe legal and rare” abortion if it is potentially no longer going to be legal!

    If abortion is outlawed in many states, that represents a crisis, and a time of crisis is hardly the time to worry about soothing words and convincing the unconvinced “middle.”

  12. Here is an important formulation of what is at stake in this attack on Roe v Wade:

    1. You may never had the need for an abortion, but there are many other freedoms at stake under the heading of privacy rights -- these are all jeopardized by this brief, no matter how carefully Republicans try to limit their wording. Republicans will not defend these privacy rights because they are on board with authoritarianism and government intrusion into private lives. If you doubt this, go reread (or rewatch) The Handmaid's Tale. Science fiction writers have many chilling depictions of what our society would be like without the right to privacy, which means the freedom to be left alone.

      You don't have to be libertarian to value your freedom, which means protecting the freedom of women to control their own bodies and make medical decisions without the intervention of the state or religious busy bodies.

    2. I am strongly pro choice, but fallacious arguments offend me. The idea that overturning Roe will lead to overturning other important SCOTUS is specifically addressed in Alito's decision. He explains that decisions involving birth control, gay sex, gay marriage, etc. do not involve the life of another entity. Also, these other decisions are popular. They're not controversial as Roe is.

      The argument about a woman controlling "her own body" is a logical fallacy called "begging the question", That is, ignoring a question under the assumption it has already been answered." The primary question about abortion is when and if and to what degree the fetus becomes a separate entity and a human being. Simply assuming that the fetus a part of a woman's body isn't logically sufficient .
      This point needs to be argued.

    3. A foetus is not a separate entity as long as it is in a woman’s body. It is not a human being until it is born.

    4. No assumption is necessary--only observation--to conclude a fetus is a part of a woman's body.

    5. It's obviously a human being. But I understand the need to have to rationalize killing it. It is connected to its mother's body and its mother does have the right to kill it.

    6. Meh. Surely from the evolutionary point of view the aged creature with urethra is merely ancillary part of the new being's body, until it's shed off.

    7. David,
      Abortion wasn’t controversial until the Republican Party made it a wedge issue to make bigots reliable Republican voters.

    8. People turn to euphemisms for the mother's murder of her child. But she could have been raped by her uncle or whatever so the killing of her child could be justified.

    9. By coining and using the term 'fetus', society thereby acknowledged a significant difference between a fetus and a child.

    10. ???? 1002 are you just making things up as you go along? A fetus is a child. It's a woman's right to scrape her fetus child right out of her uterus anytime she wants. But we shouldn't pretend like it's not child murder.

    11. Actually, 10:09, abortion being considered “murder” is completely unhistorical. It is not recognized as “murder” anywhere in the Bible, at least until “quickening”. Jews recognize abortion. Even the medieval witch hunter that Alito quoted recognized conditions under which abortion is allowable. Get a grip.

    12. I agree it is allowable. Do you want to find a word other than murder to describe the premeditated killing of the unborn child? That's fine with me. What do ya want to go with to describe sucking the live baby out of the uterus and throwing it in the trash? I'll go with whatever word you want bro.

    13. It is not a child. Calling it one doesn't make it one. You don't baptize a fetus. You don't give it a birth certificate. It holds no place in society as a child until it is born. A dividing clump of cells isn't anything like a live baby.

      Are you also going to charge God with murder when He aborts babies via miscarriage, without any participation by the mother? He sucks more babies out of wombs than anyone else on this earth. How can you be so damned sure that it is God's will that all clumps of cells survive to be born?

      Using special words for political purposes is called propaganda.

    14. Oh, it's not baptized. Therefore it's not a child. Who could argue with that logic?

    15. What's your euphemism for allowing baby murderers in democratic states to get away with murder? The logical moral imperative is to stop these murders in any way possible including blowing up the clinics and assassinating the doctors.

    16. To 10:48. We don't have to "find" a word other than murder. We already have one. Abortion.

    17. 10:48,
      My euphemism is "healthcare".
      Why are you so against the healthcare of women?

    18. Call it "That thing Republicans didn't have a problem with, until they realized they could use it to recruit bigots to be reliable Republican voters with".

    19. Call the child killings whatever you need to.

    20. They've finally released the list of children who's lives were harmed by abortion.
      Here it is in regular font:

      And here it is in italics:

    21. What was aborted?

  13. BTW, in those days, a piece of paper would have a hard time being lodged between the Mainstream Press and the Right Wing Noise Machine. Unless his memory is going, Bob knows this well. This contributed to everybody eventually going off into their own corners.

  14. I don't loathe people who oppose abortion, for moral reasons but they're not correct, fetuses don't have "hearts."

    There are probably people above them though in power who weaponize this confusion and use it to take over the presidency and supreme court, and I do loathe people who cynically know what they're doing is just about power.