WEDNESDAY: What Collins said, so long ago!


Our "anthropology moment:" As we've noted many times, this has been our "anthropology moment."

This has been an anthropology moment for our nation; for our tribe; for each of us as individuals. That said, it can only be our anthropology moment if we're willing and able to see it as such.

When did this "anthropology moment" actually get its start? Decades ago, we'd allege. That said, Lawrence O'Donnell featured a recent anthropology moment on last evening's Last Word.

This anthropology moment was drawn from the May 2 Georgia gubernatorial debate. Last night, O'Donnell played videotape of the moment in question. 

The moment was provided by Kandiss Taylor, one of the GOP candidates. In a recent column, Charles Blow described the moment in the manner shown:

BLOW (5/6/22): As a white woman, and mother of three, Taylor is in the demographic that Republicans are trying to attract. But she is also a near-perfect encapsulation of the party’s fringe.

During the debate, she chastised Kemp for not contesting the 2020 results in Georgia, saying: “Donald Trump won. He won. We have a fraudulent pedophile in the White House because Governor Kemp failed.”

Last evening, O'Donnell excoriated Kemp for failing to challenge Taylor's statement in real time, during the debate. But we'd have to say that, in our estimation, it was Taylor who provided us with our latest anthropology moment.

In truth, we've been having an extended "anthropology moment" over the past many years. During this extended moment, we have learned, again and again and again and again, about the actual mental and intellectual functioning of our famously self-impressed species.

Are we really "the rational animal," as we've endlessly claimed? Candidate Taylor's remarkable moment helps us see what we've seen again and again:

On the whole, no! In truth, we actually aren't!

What have we learned in recent years, during our extended moment? For those of us who are willing to see, we've been allowed to see this:

At times of heightened tribal division, there is no claim, however absurd, extreme, or unfounded, that we human beings may not be inclined to accept. This principle was on display again in the course of Taylor's comments.

Last evening, O'Donnell played a slightly longer version of Taylor's claim from the May 2 debate. In the videotape O'Donnell played, Taylor was shown saying this:

TAYLOR (5/2/22): Yes, 2020? Totally, one hundred percent! Donald Trump won. He won. We have a fraudulent pedophile in the White House because Governor Kemp failed.

So spoke Candidate Taylor, creating our latest moment.

Citizens, can we talk? As of May 2, almost eighteen months had passed since the November 2020 election.

During that time, Donald Trump had made no attempt to present anything resembling actual evidence in support of the claim that he actually won the 2020 election—in support of the claim that he had been deprived of victory due to fraudulent conduct.

Donald J. Trump has had plenty of time to lay out his case, but he has never attempted to do so. Nor is there any evidence that President Biden is a pedophile, whatever this gubernatorial candidate may have meant by that remarkable claim.

Are we humans "the rational animal," as we have long proclaimed? In recent years, we have seen, again and again, the weakness of that historic self-definition.

Starting perhaps with the claim that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya, we've seen vast numbers of voters express belief in the most improbable claims. Those are voters from the red tribe—but then again, we've often behaved in similar ways over here in the blue.

In yesterday's post, we referred to the most recent weekly "conversation" at the New York Times between Gail Collins and Bret Stephens. (Stephens speaks from the center right, Collins from the center left.)

It's easy for us in the blue tribe to see the remarkable intellectual failures of those who reside in the red. But our own tribe's remarkable failures date back at least into the early 1990s—and we'd have to say that Collins played a role in our tribe's striking breakdowns from that earlier era, if only through her silence.

We've been at this site for more than 24 years. Way back in 2005, we became a Columbia Journalism Review cover boy. We even appeared on Crossfire at one point!

In the end, we have one major discovery to share. That discovery goes like this—and yes, it's anthropological:

Simply put, we humans are not "the rational animal" in any essential way. Instead, we humans are the tribal animal—or so major experts have said.

According to these disconsolate anthropologists, we humans are the animals which divides into tribes, then start creating tribal narratives. At such times, our rational or intellectual capacities are strongly inclined to breakdown.

We accept tribal lore with very few questions asked. It's Storyline all the way down.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our blue tribe behaves this way too. This is the remarkable lesson we have to offer after 24 years at this task.

Candidate Taylor provided an anthropology moment—but so did columnist Collins, long ago. 

We expect to be more in control of our time in the weeks ahead. As we return to fuller services, we plan to remind you of the remarkable "anthropology moments" our own blue tribe has relentlessly provided.

Our tribe has provided a long string of these moments too! In the end, this is the major finding we have to present. 

This finding runs all the way to the academy and to Gödel's theorems too. And dearest readers, make no mistake:

It's an anthropological finding. The finding we're left with is anthropological. It's anthro all the way down.

Tomorrow: Gail and Bret—and Lawrence

Fuller disclosure: No transcript is available from last evening's Last Word. The network continues to slow-walk its transcript production, for reasons at which we must guess.


  1. "Donald J. Trump has had plenty of time to lay out his case, but he has never attempted to do so. Nor is there any evidence that President Biden is a pedophile, whatever this gubernatorial candidate may have meant by that remarkable claim."

    Meh. You sound uninformed, dear Bob.

    Cases were made, most of them dismissed by courts on procedural grounds (like "lack of standing").

    And for the allegation that the Veg belongs to the oppressed minority of pedos, have you really not heard his creepy story about kids touching his hairy legs? Plus the hair sniffing, plus creepy touching?

    Surely it counts for some evidence, nicht wahr?

    1. Emperor Tiberius is said to have little boys trained as "minnows" to chase him when he went swimming in the imperial pool, nibbling between his legs. Well, according to Suetonius anyway.

      On the subject of the election fraud, it's time for you to admit that there was no strong evidence presented. In fact, most of it was embarrassing and presented in an amateur fashion, to anyone tht has dug into it anyway.

    2. "nicht wahr?"

      Appreciate the call out to the American bund.

    3. "Surely it counts for some evidence"

      Since when has gossip, much less made up nasty stories about other people, ever constituted evidence of anything being said?

      Trump called Rosie O'Donnell a dog. Does that make her a member of the canine species?

      I heard a rumor that Mao has no hair at all on his legs. That must be true, because someone said it. Right?

    4. "On the subject of the election fraud, it's time for you to admit that there was no strong evidence presented."

      Meh. The evidence is obvious and undeniable.

      Censoring the revelations found in the laptop of Greatest Abstract Painter of All Times -- including the letter signed by over 50 former intelligence officials -- would be our exhibit A. No doubts here, no ambiguity whatsoever.

      As for the actual physical ballot-counting fraud, it was clear to us that it'll be the ultimate liberal solution weeks before the election, when PA supreme court banned signature verification. What could be a possible innocent reason for doing it -- in October 2020? Unlike dembots, normal ordinary humyn beings aren't idiots, y'know.

    5. I hope it is cozy and warm inside your rabbit hole, Mao.

    6. @1:17 PM. "Since when has gossip, much less made up nasty stories..."

      Here, educate yourself, my dear:

    7. Come on Mao, admit the election fraud was a transparent attempt to fundraise and create voter turnout in upcoming elections. You will feel cleansed!

    8. Too bad, Mao. Donald J Chickenshit, whose criminality is only exceeded by his stupidity, the dumbest motherfucker to ever stain the Oval Office, had the election stolen from him right under his orange spray tanned nose. Too fucking funny. And the cherry on top is that it was by good old feeble minded Uncle Joe and his a secret gang of blacks. I much prefer presidents who are not too dumb to have their pockets picked by a doddering old pedo, how 'bout you?

    9. 100% agree with Mao thatTrump is a loser and moron, but no more a loser and moron than any other Republican.

    10. Mao 1:31,

      your Exhibit A leads at most to unfairness, but no illegality is involved when Twitter censors. They are a private concern.

      As for Pa. signature requirements, Pennsylvania election law as of October 2020 did not allow signature match as a criterion for ballot invalidation. At least that's what a Trump-appointed Federal judge ruled prior to a concurring ruling from the Pa. Supreme Court later in the month.

    11. @7:29 PM
      Unfair election is a fraudulent election, dear dembot. 'nuff said.

      As for the PA thing, we asked to convincingly suggest the reason - innocent reason! - for banning signature verification, and doing it specifically in October 2020. If you did, it's written in invisible ink.

    12. Dearest Mao,

      You seem to be confusing the judicial with the legislative branch.

      The Pa. Supreme Court doesn't engage in unilateral law making, as a legislature does. It made its ruling in October 2020 because that's when the case was brought before it.

    13. What's your point, dear dembot?

    14. "What's your point, dear dembot?"
      Republicans are bigots. Ho hum.

    15. Both your prior posts emphasized that the ruling was made in October 2020. Why is that significant?

    16. Oh dear. If we have to explain why banning signature verification a month before the election with unlimited mail-in voting is indicative of planning ballot-counting fraud, then, we reckon, we're not talking to a humyn being here.

    17. "indicative"
      Does that mean "proven" in QAnon speak?

    18. Asking for a friend who isn't a sucker.

    19. Ah. So the Pa. Supreme Court justices were in on the plot, eh? Such a vast conspiracy with so little evidence for it other than a court decision "indicative of planning ballot-counting fraud."

      The lack of evidence is indicative of a nothing burger.

  2. Somerby has assigned a personal meaning to "anthropology" and "tribes" and now he has coined the term "anthropology moment." None of these words is being used with its usual meaning. But that is how propaganda works, assuming he is not the neighborhood schizophrenic.

    I he were to refer to this as a moment in history, he would be on solid ground, but that doesn't convey the pejorative meaning that talking about our decline as a species does, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that humanity is devolving.

    Somerby himself is devolving. We all do as we get old. But humanity is not.

  3. "Are we really "the rational animal," as we've endlessly claimed?"

    Are we all Aristotle now?

    He thought bees were divine too. Is there some reason why we are still using Aristotle's beliefs to talk about biology, or human reasoning? Our knowledge has progressed beyond the Greeks.

  4. "At times of heightened tribal division, there is no claim, however absurd, extreme, or unfounded, that we human beings may not be inclined to accept. This principle was on display again in the course of Taylor's comments."

    I have not found this to be true of Democratic Party candidates running for Governor.

    1. Why is Somerby defending Taylor for saying such ridiculous stuff, by claiming that this "time of heightened tribal division" excuses her behavior? Not only is she wrong for calling the president a pedophile, but so is Kemp, for not focusing on that statement.

      Kemp no doubt wants to avoid alienating his own supporters, who may also believe that Biden is a pedophile, because that is what the right keeps saying about him. If this were Taylor's eccentric view, he would have jumped on it in order to discredit her. But too much of the right has been saying this about Biden, as part of right-wing dogma, so Kemp cannot attack Taylor on that basis.

      Somerby pretends this is a bothsides phenomenon, but it is not. The left is not bat-shit crazy, like the right. When Somerby pretends an equivalency, he maligns the left without evidence. That makes Somerby a partisan right-wing apologist, since the left does not deserve to be accused of things it does not do, and the right does not deserve to be defended when it does things like call Biden a pedophile.

  5. Somerby gets results! Those Sidewalk Chalk Terrorists that brutally attacked Sen Susan Collins used the word "please" in their terrifying protest message.

    The tide has turned, Dems are now finally showing Republicans proper respect.

    1. She still called the cops.

      Shows how wrong Somerby is.

  6. "Starting perhaps with the claim that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya, we've seen vast numbers of voters express belief in the most improbable claims."

    No, this was not the start. Kerry was called a traitor and coward after winning the Silver Star in Vietnam for bravery. He was also called French for parasailing. Before that, both Clintons were accused of murdering people (Vince Foster and others). Hillary was accused of being a giant lesbo who hung dildos on the family Christmas tree. Bill was accused of fathering a black love child.

    This didn't start with Trump. It started with the Republicans, as a deliberate campaign tactic. The lies became increasingly ridiculous as they saw that (1) they worked, and (2) no one was going to do anything about them. No top Republican disavows Republican lies any more. The same is not true on the left.

    1. Right wing accusations are really just confessions, remember it was Strom Thurmond that had a black love child.

  7. "We accept tribal lore with very few questions asked. It's Storyline all the way down."

    No, we do not do this. Somerby asserts this repeatedly, without presenting any evidence whatsoever to support his slurs.

    1. If this uncritical acceptance were true, there wouldn't be liberals here pushing back against Somerby's nonsense, given that Somerby keeps claiming to be a member of the liberal tribe.

    2. You've taken a narrow concept, namely uncritical acceptance by liberals of tribal lore that supports their preferred storyline, and expanded it to include uncritical acceptance of Somerby's writings (which are not tribal lore that supports preferred storyline).

    3. But, but, but, Somerby says he is a liberal! That means he himself is dispensing tribal lore. Did you miss the part where Somerby keeps saying he is one of us liberals?

    4. Dear Bob is a liberal who commits occasional thoughtcrimes. Still learning to love Big Brother, the poor thing.

    5. "Somerby says he is a liberal! That means he himself is dispensing tribal lore."

      So here you're making the mistake of thinking that someone who believes in something (liberalism) would sacrifice their integrity to spread that belief to others.

    6. Correction: ...someone who believes in something (liberalism) must sacrifice...

    7. Everyone who belongs to the liberal tribe must keep parroting, non-stop, their tribal shamans' talking points. And hate everyone who doesn't.

    8. These back and forth comments here make little sense, but to add some clarity, a key feature of right wingers is that their main goal is dominance and they have no qualms throwing out integrity to achieve their precious goal.

    9. So, just everything that was just said about sacrificing integrity to spread liberal tribal lore, and just add on the end: "But the Others!"

      Got it. Round and round we go.

    10. Meh.
      Actually, most of the Others follow deontology: 'do what you ought, come what may'. That's integrity.

      Liberal tribesmen, on the other hand, tend to subscribe to utilitarianism: 'the ends justify the means'. Zero integrity there.

    11. Unfortunately, you've got somewhat of a point there.

    12. 1:10 you provide no evidence for your assertion, thus you have acquired the status of troll.

  8. "This finding runs all the way to the academy and to Gödel's theorems too."

    Somerby's entire argument concerning Godel and Einstein and even Wittgenstein has been that if he says he cannot understand them, then others cannot either. That is ridiculous. Somerby thinks that academcs don't understand complex subjects because they cannot explain them to him, when he has no background and is willing to expend no effort to understand. That is far from evidence that others in academia do not understand their own fields and also the work of others within areas of expertise.

    If Somerby's complaint were true, the manifest achievements of science and technology would not function because one must understand how stuff works in order to create the technology we take for granted, from microwave ovens to cell phones to the internet to EVs and vaccines. The speed with which the covid vaccine was developed puts the lie to Somerby's claim that even academics don't understand the things they say they do.

    This repeated obtuseness of Somerby's constitutes an attack on expertise and academia. It is anti-intellectualism, which is a deliberate strategy and hallmark of the right wing. No liberal maintains such a continual and obvious attack on knowledge. This only benefits the right by making its voters more ignorant and thus more receptive to the big lies they tell to them. I think it should be a crime to undermine the ability of other people to have a better life through education. It astonishes me that a former educator would himself contribute to this campaign by the right to keep people stupid and believing gross lies. It is no wonder Somerby's mood is always sour, when he has sold out whatever integrity he might have had in order to promote an asshole like Trump and the evil that comes from the right wing these days.

    1. All good, just clarifying: Trump constantly claims Operation Warp Speed, yet he had nothing to do with it; it was conceived and implemented by the FDA, and funded by Congress.

  9. A raving lunatic like Taylor couldn’t be elected dog catcher. But she could be elected to be the most powerful U.S. Senator from a red state.

  10. Anyone who wants to see evidence of election fraud can watch the movie "2000 mules". It's available free at

    To say that the movie presents evidence is not to say that the evidence is conclusive. Watch the movie and make up your own mind.


      There is no real evidence presents in the film. This article explains why.

    2. The movie is free because it is conservative propaganda whose purpose is to persuade viewers.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. @2:27 That movie may or may not be convincing, but the link you provided isn't the answer. It doesn't accurately reflect the specific points in the movie. E.g., the movie points to some number of ballot stuffers who were wearing latex gloves and who threw the gloves into the garbage right after stuffing the ballots into the box. You can see one of them on a video taken at the drop box. Your link says they were probably cold or feared covid. Obviously they would not handle gloves this way if they were cold. The covid theory is conceivable, but not likely IMO

      I would love to see an unbiased, expert opinion of the method used in the movie. I would also love to see a follow up investigation of some of the people people with suspicious cell phone usage.

    5. The link I provided does discuss these specific points, including the people wearing gloves, but the film does not provide any evidence that any of the people you call "ballot stuffers" were actually anywhere near the boxes or doing anything with ballots. The problem, as noted in the link, is that cell phone data cannot pinpoint locations of ballot boxes with sufficient accuracy to prove that identifiable people were delivering ballots to ballot boxes. Nor is it right to call someone who does such an analysis "biased" because you disagree with his analysis.

      The cell phone data theory is plausible only if you don't know that cell phone data cannot pinpoint locations with the accuracy claimed in the film. It is all edited video presented with surmise about who is doing what. That is not evidence.

      By the way, the link does not say they were cold or that they were worried about covid. It says those are possible alternative explanations for wearing gloves. We don't know why those people were wearing gloves and it is unlikely their reason was to avoid fingerprints if they were doing nothing with ballots and nothing wrong. Some people protect their hands during work because of paper cuts, dirt, better traction, any number of reasons. Again, it is all surmise and guesses assembled to form a narrative are still just guesses and NOT evidence.

    6. Digby today talks about this:

      "Sarah Posner wrote this on twitter and I think it’s something to which we haven’t paid as much attention as we should." [begin Posner quote]

      "This story, via @washingtonpost, about far-right GOP donor Steven Hotze being prosecuted for a scheme in which he allegedly dispatched a former cop to surveil an HVAC contractor, claiming he was delivering fraudulent ballots in the 2020 election, is something else. Thread:

      I’ve written about Hotze, and his lawyer, Jared Woodfill before. Read the story. I have a few thoughts.

      There are a lot of twists and turns here, but the gist is that Hotze, who has been criminally charged, allegedly bankrolled the ex-cop, through his nonprofit Liberty Center for God and Country, to find “voter fraud,” and he settled on some random HVAC repairman. The ex-cop allegedly rammed this poor guy’s van and tried to make a “citizens’ arrest...

      "...Read the whole thing for all the twists, conspiracies, mishaps, and denials, including that there is a taped telephone conversation between Hotze and Ryan Patrick, a federal prosecutor in Texas under Trump, and the son of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (Hotze’s friend).

      Basically it looks like Hotze was trying to urge the younger Patrick to bring a federal case. (The HVAC repairman is suing Hotze, et. al.) Hotze is being represented by his friend, the lawyer and activist Jared Woodfill, whose campaign against trans people in Texas I wrote about in 2018.

      Hotze has been around in the religious right for a long, long time. For a long time he was considered fringe; now he’s basically regular. For decades he has called for a Christian takeover of government."


      Needless to say, this is not evidence either.

    7. 3:14 Are you ok?

      I am sorry, you want to see an unbiased opinion on why workers having to touch thousands of items carrying who knows what germs, wearing gloves as is typical in those situations, why would they then throw the gloves away after using them? Cue the Perry Mason theme music.

      This is what you want to know?

      Suspicious cell phone usage? How dare locals travel back and forth between common areas. "You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy", cries the right wingers! Fascism is just their natural state, although obviously borne from trauma; our capitalistic society bears the real responsibility.

      I would love to see an unbiased expert opinion on your mental stability. You do understand how nutty you sound, right? I mean no disrespect, per Somerby, I am worried though, you do not sound well. If you need help, and I think you do, although I am no Mary Trump or Bandy Lee, I hope you can get publicly funded help. Where I grew up in the South, they cut funding for mental health, but funnily enough did provide free sterilization for the poor (also known as Black people). As it turned out, only White people were using the sterilization program so they quickly defunded it. Foiled again, but never fear, as God as my witness, the South will never let the Civil War end.

    8. Tribal members will always seek validation and reinforcement of their beliefs, and shun those who dare challenge them.

    9. 4:35 what? That's just laughably false. Where'd you get your degree? Trump U, no doubt.

    10. Regarding 2000 Mules,

      there's an even more fundamental problem with the film's premise other than the inexactness of cell phone location data.

      It's that there can be no sort of baseline established, meaning: what would the expected patterns of cell phone pings have been in the absence of any election fraud?

      Without such a baseline it's impossible to evaluate whether a given cell phone pattern is suspiciously high or suspiciously low or just what would we expect.

    11. There's an even more fundamental problem with that video. It's a Dinesh D'Souza production. LOL
      D'Souza, a felon later pardoned by Donald J Chickenshit, for - get this - violations of campaign finance law.

      It's like we always say, every conservative accusation is a confession.

  11. Sorry Bob. Reagan fed the Republicans, not the Democrats, the tainted monkey brains.

  12. I don't think this is just human irrationality. We have a political system where the most organized and the richest get their way, and we don't have a huge labor movement anymore, so that means the church and business lobbies run the country. There's no system of fair and equal conversation when only one side can afford the country's media megaphone. The discussion we're seeing every day reflects the power we don't have to address problems in our society in the media.