"Sleepwalking to disaster," Boot says!

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2022

Our own possible plans: We're inclined to agree with the sentiments expressed in Max Boot's latest column.

We've been expressing such sentiments for a long time. We're tired of hearing ourselves do it.

Boot is offering gloomy thoughts about this nation's future. "I used to be an optimist," he says. But, he says, "Not anymore."

BOOT (7/25/22): I used to be an optimist about America’s future. Not anymore. There’s a good reason that so many people I know are acquiring foreign passports and talking about moving somewhere else: The prognosis is grim.

As political scientist Brian Klaas just wrote in the Atlantic, given that the GOP has become “authoritarian to its core,” there are two main ways to save America: Either reform the Republican Party or ensure that it never wields power again. But a MAGA-fied GOP is likely to gain control of at least one chamber of Congress in the fall and could win complete power in 2024.

We seem to be sleepwalking to disaster. If we don’t wake up in time, we could lose our democracy. Just because we’ve avoided a breakdown in the past doesn’t mean we will stave it off in the future.

"We seem to be sleepwalking to disaster," Boot gloomily says. We've been expressing that view for quite some time. Here's one major difference:

Quite correctly, Boot notes the gruesome state of the red tribe's party. He's quite correct about that—or at least, he's quite correct about that party's officials. 

We'd always draw a sharp distinction between that party's officials and its rank and file. You can't walk away from your fellow citizens. 

Quite plainly, they aren't as brilliant or as perfect as we are. But they're still right here, in our cities and towns, and yes, they do belong.

Boot is appalled by the GOP's officials; we might almost agree with him there. Beyond that, we've been concerned, for at least thirty years, about the way our own blue tribe—including the bulk of the upper-end press—has persistently chosen to perform.

That said, we're tired of hearing ourselves say it—and plainly, it's pointless to do so. 

We'll continue to say it this week. Plainly, though, it does no good, and it may be time, in some way, for us to trundle along.

We want to discuss The Liar's Paradox, which is (absurdly) said to make the minds of academics crash. We want to discuss the way Bertrand Russell devoted those 700 pages to the task of proving that 1 + 1 = 2, in the book which was so huge he had to truck it around in a wheelbarrow.

We regard it as a beautiful, wonderfully comical story. We want to scale the slopes of Olympus and laugh right along with the gods.

We want to share that laughter with you. In our view, it's a big, good-hearted tale! People in red states could laugh at this tale, along with the people in blue.

A minor quibble RE Boot:  "If we don’t wake up in time, we could lose our democracy?"

"We could lose our democracy." That's the semantic framework our tribe has chosen to employ in the current non-discussion discussion. To our ear, it doesn't sound like the way we the American people have traditionally talked.

Is that the language with which us the bulk of the regular people actually speak and think? In our view, you have to know how to talk pork to the people or the people will mosey along.

Our tribe is disinclined to care about that. In truth, we don't seem to like large swaths of the regular people. We've been signaling that fact in various ways for well over fifty years, dating back to the street-fighting 1960s.

That doesn't mean that we're bad people. It could mean that we're not perfectly super-sharp—and given the way the modern world works, we have little room for arrogance, ego or error.

Good people live in our red and blue states. Barack Obama first said that! It's a good point to keep in mind.


  1. "We're inclined to agree with the sentiments expressed in Max Boot's latest column."

    Jeez. Here's one pronouncement we hoped to never hear. What next, dear Bob, Jennifer Rubin?

    We know you're a liberal, dear Bob, but still, is there no limits, no decency left at all?

    1. Bob is in a party that hates regular joes so much that they can’t even fake concern for blue collar people who want to work at factory and skilled labor jobs they hold in esteem, not $25.00 minimum wage at McDonalds.

      People who don’t want to compete with and resource people streaming in illegally across an open border.

      His party wants to pack SCOTUS and do away with the Electoral College.

      His party had cardiac arrest over the possibility that Elon Musk might allow unfettered speech on Twitter (as opposed to threat speech that is already illegal).

      A party that wants FB and other media to strictly police political ads, speech,etc, but thinks showing ID at the polls is unreasonable.

      A party that wants to disarm everyone and have parents surveilled by Homeland Security for yelling at officials in school board meetings.

      Yet the RNC are a bunch of tyrants,

    2. How cute! A conservative troll pretending to discuss something with another conservative troll. They almost look like real comments! Almost...

      1. Bob is not a liberal. We don't know what party he belongs to. Somerby has never said anything pro-union and never talks about labor issues either.
      2. It is unclear what she means about people who don't want to compete, but the lack of restaurant workers in every city is enough to show Cecelia is wrong. No Democratic candidate has endorsed an Open border.
      3. Some progressives want to expand the Court. This is because the original number of supreme court justices was equal to the number of Federal Court Districts (then 9). The number of such districts is now 22. The original number seems like an anachronism (look that up Cecelia). Not every Dem agrees, however.
      4. No one cares about Elon Musk and Twitter.
      5. Dems want social media to police disinformation not political speech. Showing ID at polls is a proven hardship for certain groups: elderly, disabled, minorities, homemakers, rural voters, especially when Republicans close offices granting IDs in areas where more minorities live.
      6. It is not OK for parents to yell death threats at school board members. No Dem candidate has proposed removing all ownership of all weapons. Nearly all recognize reasonable gun ownership and respect the 2nd Amendment (but some contest God-given rights and want reasonable limitations, as affirmed by the Supreme Court).

      The RNC are a bunch of yahoos.

    3. You play the aggrieved partisan victim quite well, Cecelia. Now try playing the lover of Bob Somerby who takes his post-partisan message to heart: you just don’t seem to like us, the liberals. How can our nation survive with this kind of tribalism?

      Or maybe you were only ever here for the liberal bashing.

    4. Anonymouse 8:18pm, except the neocons. You don’t think they’re yahoos. Not at all.

    5. Don’t tell me what I think. I have no plans to vote for Liz Cheney or any other Republican. Cheney knows what a patriot is. You should perhaps look that up too. It doesn’t make her a viable candidate for liberals. We think it is a minimum requirement for a candidate of either party.

    6. mh, I greatly admire Bob even though I don’t always agree with him and don't harbor his lideological point of view.

      I read him because he’s got a lot of good things to say. I read Kevin Drum too. He’s no Bob, but he can teach me a thing or two. Drum doesn’t have a lot of detractors at his blog.

      I’m not spending a second of time depreciating neocon or anti-Trump conservative bloggers on their blogs.

      I don’t find that necessary. I read bloggers I like.


    7. Drum moderates his comments.

    8. Anonymouse 10:13pm, like I said, Drum is no Somerby.

    9. The lack of detractors may not be a natural phenomenon but may be related to hs particiation in his comments.

    10. Actually, I often see comments criticizing Drum.

  2. We have commenters here that explicitly disagree with this sentiment:

    "You can't walk away from your fellow citizens.

    Quite plainly, they aren't as brilliant or as perfect as we are. But they're still right here, in our cities and towns, and yes, they do belong."

    Depending on their degree of tolerance on any given day, they either want to ignore them, kick them out of the country, or have them killed. Maybe they can share where they're currently at on that spectrum...

    1. Admitting that fellow citizens who hold wrong-headed opinions do belong does not require us to agree with them or vote for them or permit them to hold office or to get away with wrongdoing while holding office. It doesn't mean we have to invite such fellow citizens over to dinner, let them watch our kids, hire them for jobs requiring good judgment, or suppress our own opinions and political actions because they are around too.

      I haven't seen anyone here in comments suggest that The Others be killed or kicked out of the country. And there is a big gap between that and ignoring them. Many of us engage those we disagree with, trying to help them think about their beliefs. Many of us have friends and relatives in that category, who we do not mistreat because of their opinions.

      But there are also trolls here who don't participate in any serious dialog. Portraying liberals as killers or exclusionists is another way they try to rile up the Dems on supposedly blue blogs. Somerby himself has been trolling liberals for years now.

      How does this trolling represent tolerance for anyone? It plainly doesn't. It is another tactic of the right, perhaps attempting to goad liberals into saying intemperate things, but more likely just trying to please their own crowd, much as when the right sells Hillary nutcrackers and Fuck Your Feelings t-shirts.

      This is a phony plea for tolerance from Somerby and there are no tolerant trolls here.

    2. Well said. And since Bob is supposedly on the political media beat, does he ever call for programming that features legitimate debate with credible fact checking? At this point such a program might be Bob’s worst nightmare.,

    3. I think Bob and other Democrats have done very well with incorporating Max Boot, Liz Chaney, George Bush and a host of neocons into their worldview.

      The better to protect the vast Chinese market and its slave labor resource.

      Our overlords are all globalists now.

  3. I'll tell you right off the tip of my tongue and I'm not just trying to stifle an argument and that is that bigots are not good people and you can't find one Republican that has never not been in love with bigotry and bigotry-related ideas.

    1. 15,years ago I knew quite a few.
      They are harder to find today.

  4. Do Bob’s blinders really keep him from seeing the anti-democratic aspect of Trump’s Republicanism? He could “almost” agree. That is about as much as he’ll say.
    Is it hard to be optimistic about a
    Country where Donald Trump (yes,
    utilizing a very anti-democratic technicality)
    is elected President? Yes, and reading
    the manipulative stupidity of writers
    like Bob is very dispiriting too. Yet
    with no real alternative, we go on.
    Those who took the time in greater
    numbers BOTH times don’t seem to
    be common people whose rights to
    not live under a fruitcake dictator
    don’t pull any weight with Bob.
    We have to be thankful for
    conservatives like Boot who refused
    to treat the US as an ugly joke.
    But just as I must bare some
    responsibility when my Party’s
    pandering to its fringes becomes
    unhealthy, Max Boot should acknowledge
    that the mainstream sins over the
    years he signed off on (ruthlessly
    exploiting 9-11 comes to mind) played
    it’s role in destroying his party.
    His like minded friends fleeing the
    US should take a deep look in
    the mirror and start to loudly and
    dispassionately speak the truth.
    Where have you gone, Laura
    Bush? Our Nation turns it’s
    lonely eyes to you.

  5. “To our ear, it doesn’t sound like the way
    The American People have traditionally
    What pompous twaddle. The
    American people have not traditionally
    chanted for the opposition candidate
    to be thrown in jail. The American
    President has traditionally not called
    the free press the enemy of the
    People. He has not claimed
    “the buck stops with everybody.”
    Time for Bob, in his ever selective
    fashion, to get over the shock
    of the new.

  6. "We want to discuss The Liar's Paradox, which is (absurdly) said to make the minds of academics crash. We want to discuss the way Bertrand Russell devoted those 700 pages to the task of proving that 1 + 1 = 2, in the book which was so huge he had to truck it around in a wheelbarrow."

    Here is Somerby, mocking academics again, because anti-intellectualism is the way Republicans feel good about themselves.

    1. Somerby was a philosophy major himself.
    2. By his own admission, he got Ds in several of his courses and had to repeat them in summer school.
    3. Somerby uses philosophy cynically to assert such nonsense as "anything is possible," things cannot be known with "absolute certainty," and similar twaddle.
    4. Somerby asserts that there is no practical application to philosophy -- something that is patently absurd since such majors go on to become lawyers, ethicists (especially in biomedical, technological and military fields) and mediators.
    5. Somerby pretends that no one can really understand what philosophers are doing, even other philosophers. This is incorrect too, given the commentary and dialog among professionals who review each other's work and publish opinions on it.
    6. Somerby seems to think that if something cannot be easily grasped by a layman, it must be untrue or not properly explained, no matter how complex the material. This is like claiming that if a baseball and bat are properly made, anyone, even someone without any practice or instruction, should be able to hit a homerun with it.
    7. Somerby's main reason for playing this game seems to be to denigrate those with higher education, something that seems to be one of the main purposes of this blog.
    8. Anti-intellectualism is stronger on the right than on the left in our country. As we become an increasingly technological country, with people living lives dependent on advances in science, education is more not less important. Few of us would give up the luxuries and benefits science has made possible, but Somerby thinks the people behind such advances should be mocked. Unless he is living like the Amish, he is a huge hypocrite, to boot.

    Somerby's rants are intended to fill up space on a blog, because there is no value to his words beyond that. He may be doing this for money or for some warped personal psychological satisfaction, but either way, HE is clearly not serving any useful purpose. He is telling lies and spreading disinformation aimed at harming academia, and no one will benefit from that except the Republican noise machine.

    It is very definitely time for Somerby to stop writing this ugly tripe. He is embarrassing himself, but most importantly, he isn't fooling anyone any more.

  7. If the choice is between the mob giving the state the power to castrate or sterilize my son, or some alternative to "our democracy" then I and millions are going with the alternative.

    1. Which state has the power to do that now? None, nor is it proposed as part of any legislation supporting transgender health issues.

      On the other hand, women were involuntarily sterilized well into the 21st century:


      Involuntary castration is primarily aimed at sex offenders:


      In some states, some men can request voluntary castration (surgical or chemical) in order to comply with laws against sexual assault or sexually abusing children.

      None of this has anything to do with health issues of transgender people or transgender children.

      These threats are being spread in order to scare ignorant people into voting Republican in the fear that their kids will be harmed in some way. It is a cheap scare tactice -- but that is what Republicans are all about these days.

      If you were to stupidly engage in anti-democratic activities such as sedition or the attempted coup on 1/6, you would find that no judge would be sympathetic to your confused explanation of your motives, based on laughable right-wing disinformation.

    2. 6:31 was using a metaphor to describe the Republican Party’s obsession with voter suppression.

  8. "We could lose our democracy." That's the semantic framework our tribe has chosen to employ in the current non-discussion discussion. To our ear, it doesn't sound like the way we the American people have traditionally talked."

    This is the way the right talks about what is at stake too. If you listen to what Trump was saying at his rallies, it was closely similar to what the left says about losing democracy. It may not be the way "the American people" have traditionally talked, but it is the way the right wing, especially Trump, has talked. I was reminded of this when the 1/6 Committee played excerpts from Trump's speech at the Ellipse. He said that if they didn't fight, they could lose their country -- he repeated that over and over.

    But Somerby says the left isn't allowed to talk about losing democracy, because people don't respond to that talk? Phooey. Somerby is plainly wrong.

  9. The Democratic Party is attracting more educated people than the Republicans are. The Republicans have seemingly doubled down on stupidity, proudly reveling in their stupidity. To the extent that Somerby eggs the left into displaying expertise, he reinforces the right wing meme that eggheads cannot be trusted, are too stupid to park their bikes straight, and so on. His focus on Godel is more of that trash talking academics. This appears to be a deliberate strategy, from Trump on down, on the right. Trump never uses a correct word when he can use a pithy short one, talking like a construction worker as often as possible. He may come by that naturally, given his own stolen academic accomplishments, but those surrounding him do not (except for Boebert, who is terminally stupid). This is a pose, and so is Somerby's unceasing attack on knowledge, mocking anthropologists in caves, calling Einstein a fraud, denigrating Maddow's scholarship (books and degrees). The only experts he is willing to consider are psychiatrists (and Mary Trump) who might provide an excuse for Trump's crimes. It should be clear by now that when Somerby used to refer to "those ratty teachers' unions," he meant it, instead of being ironic. Anyone educated is the bad guy in Somerby's world. And that's why he returns obsessively to his efforts to depict Godel as a crazed old man who contributed nothing to his field.

    Somerby has thrown his own integrity overboard. He does not value what he learned at Harvard (why should he, when he wanted to be a standup comedian) and he has cast his lot with the red tribe, because they will giggle when he attacks Maddow (and other women, those bitches).

  10. "We have commenters here that explicitly disagree with this sentiment:

    "You can't walk away from your fellow citizens.

    Quite plainly, they aren't as brilliant or as perfect as we are. But they're still right here, in our cities and towns, and yes, they do belong."

    Somerby frequently repeats that phrase, that we supposedly think the right isn't as brilliant or perfect as we are. He does this because he imagines that anyone educated must look down on those who are less educated. Conversely, we must consider ourselves elevated and the others diminished, if we possess a B.A. in Art History or a Certificate in Landscape Engineering, while The Others have only high school diplomas.

    But what about the situations where the left truly does know more about political issues, truth of current events, complexities of global warming or covid? Are we not permitted to assert our knowledge in discussions because the right might feel ignorant, when they truly are more ignorant about certain things? We aren't calling ourselves brilliant or perfect in such contexts. We are simply calling ourselves better educated, which is what the left tends to be. And when we reject fake news and propaganda in favor of grounded information, are we preening in brilliance or using our education to make better choices?

    Somerby won't call those who are stupid what they are, stupid. Someone who is provided with knowledge and the sources to establish it as true, and refuses to accept that knowledge, they are being about as stupid as it gets. And they are harming themselves and their families. Such people used to recognize their limitations (where they exist) and accept help in the form of expertise. Now they stubbornly insist on their own superiority while behaving like buffoons. And Somerby calls us wrong to noticing.

    This is why Trump is able to repeatedly dupe his followers. Because he tells them they are the smart ones. The ones with inside information (about aliens and pizza pedophiles), while mocking others for nothing worse than getting a degree. You cannot educate someone with a chip on their shoulder. Somerby displays his chip proudly, often ripping on Harvard and those who attended Ivy League schools. While Trump installs a huge chip on each follower's shoulder, immunizing them against any information that might come their way from reliable sources. And that is why they are so difficult to deprogram.

    Somerby should have empathy for the tears of those convicted after 1/6, the true believers, but like Trump, Somerby does not feel empathy, especially not for those liberals care strongly about -- the targets of right-wing abuse, misogyny, homophobia and racism. But also, he apparently feels no empathy for those he encourages to remain stupid, as he knocks the places designed to make people less stupid -- our public schools and institutions of higher learning. And this, after a career as a teacher. It seems highly likely to me that he spent his years there practicing his standup timing and learning to hate the kids who stubbornly refused to learn from his excellent instruction. There are a few assholes like that in every school.

    1. The Right has the disposition of whiney 2nd Graders.
      Instead of learning, they cry that everyone is making fun of them.
      A representative democracy doesn’t work in a two-party system, when one of the parties isn’t represented by grown ups.

  11. “We could lose our democracy." That's the semantic framework our tribe has chosen to employ in the current non-discussion discussion. To our ear, it doesn't sound like the way we the American people have traditionally talked.”

    Ahem. Somerby, May, 25, 2022:

    “Next week, we expect to return to a major question. We plan to return to that major question as our nation's attempt at a "diverse democracy" continues to die on the vine”


    1. It’s certainly a non discussion with Bob, who refuses to address ANYTHING that smacks of illegally in Trump’s behavior.

  12. You can have sympathy or feel empathy for almost anyone going to jail. Going to jail is a ghastly, horrible thing.
    That’s not the same thing as not
    believing they SHOULD go to jail. The
    January sixth rioters will almost all
    get easy sentences considering the
    awfulness of what they did. And yes,
    were it not a right wing, lilly white
    Band of traitors, they likely would
    have faced something worse than