UNDER THE BIG TOP: Was Kaplan's account of those emails correct?

SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 2022

Where does knowledge come from? This morning, we spent the 7 o'clock hour watching the heartbreaking C-Span program, Washington Journal.

This morning, viewers were asked whether they believe that current extreme weather is linked to climate change. Last Sunday, viewers were asked to say which party they trust to handle crime. 

Each day, hearts were broken by various viewer responses. Washington Journal can be highly instructive, though in a heartbreaking way.

We still haven't shown you the full text of last Sunday's first phone call, nor will we do so now. That said, the caller alleged that "a "clear double standard" exists in the way Donald J. Trump is being treated with respect to the recent search for classified material.

The caller listed many areas where major Democrats have been let off easy, with Trump instead being subjected to "Gestapo tactics." At one point, he mentioned those famous old Hillary Clinton emails, just as Trump himself had been doing in the days since the Mar-a-Lago search:

JOHN FROM NEW YORK (8/14/22): I'm not trying to make excuses for President Trump, but it seems that there's a clear double standard. A clear double standard with Hillary Clinton—30,000 emails that she had acid washed...

As part of a lengthy presentation, the caller referred to those famous old "30,000 emails," just as Trump was now doing. 

The caller seemed to think that there had been a serious problem with a very large cache of emails. Presumably, he'd heard Trump (and others) repeating that number. He now repeated it too.

In yesterday's report, we showed you what Fred Kaplan had written about those emails just two days earlier. Kaplan, a veteran journalist, had briefly reprised his earlier work on this topic in this new report for Slate:

KAPLAN (8/12/22): While we’re on the subject, what about Hillary’s email? Of the 30,000 emails that the FBI examined, eight were found to contain Top Secret information. Seven of them were about CIA drone strikes, which had been reported in the newspapers (but were still technically classified). The other one was an account of a telephone conversation with the president of Malawi. (All conversations with foreign leaders are, by definition, Top Secret.) In other words, she revealed nothing remotely about nuclear weapons, signals intelligence, or anything that might have enlightened a foreign spy.

According to Kaplan, here's the way it broke down:

Of the famous 30,000 emails, only eight (8) dealt with information classified as Top Secret. Also according to Kaplan, those eight emails dealt with material which was technically classified that way, but pretty much shouldn't have been.

Fo ahead—pick a number! The caller was concerned about 30,000 emails. Essentially, Kaplan said it boiled down to only eight—and he said that those eight emails dealt with utterly fatuous stuff.

The caller thought 30,000 emails were in question; Kaplan said it was basically eight. This is the way our broken discourse works when we're living in two different worlds—when viewers of our two warring tribes get their information from segregated news sources.

30,000 emails or eight! The lady or the tiger?

Having said this, a question arises. Should we assume that Kaplan's presentation is right? 

In his original report for Slate, Kaplan says that the vast majority of those 30,000 emails didn't involve any kind of problem. But should we assume that's correct?

As we noted yesterday, Kaplan's basic number came Straight Outta Jim Comey. In his ill-advised presentation on July 5, 2016, Comey himself said that only eight of Clinton's "email chains" concerned material classified as Top Secret.

We're going to guess that John from New York has never heard any such fact. (In fairness, neither has pretty much anyone else, given the way our discourse works.)

That said, of the famous Thirty Thousand, only eight emails (or email chains) concerned Top Secret material. There seems to be no reason to question that part of Kaplan's presentation.

But how about Kaplan's statements concerning the contents of those emails? Kaplan never provided a source that for those descriptions. Is there any reason why we should believe that his descriptions were, and still are, accurate?

We don't know why Kaplan didn't describe his source, or why Slate didn't require him to do so. His sourcing remains a mystery to this day, at least to us. 

Where did Kaplan get his account of those emails? Perhaps the sourcing has been disclosed somewhere, but it's still unknown to us.

For that reason, we don't know if Kaplan's description of those (8) emails is correct. That said, you can see the basic lay of the land through this dispute, as we Americans continue to live within our Two Different Worlds: 

John from New York, and many others, believe that there were major problems with 30,000 emails. But even by Comey's taxonomy, only eight (8) of the email chains contained material marked Top Secret.

Was it 30,000 emails, or was it only eight? This is the way our broken discourse works, now that we live in a brainless environment in which wholly segregated "news orgs" produce segregated tribal "news" on a round-the-clock basis.

Final note:

John from New York believes what he's heard—and he's never heard anything different. For many of us in our blue tribal lands, we're sometimes saddled with the same problem concerning other matters.

We live in our red and blue tribal lands, and rarely the twain shall meet.

Allegedly, it's never too late: What was the source of Kaplan's account? As far as we know, he has never cited his source. 

Why not do so now? According to major credentialed experts, it's allegedly never too late!


49 comments:

  1. "Washington Journal can be highly instructive, though in a heartbreaking way."

    How can a call-in show be "instructive" when it provides no information about how common the expressed opinions may be, how representative of any other opinions they are?

    While C-Span provides opportunities for a variety of opinions to be heard, other media seem to concentrate mainly on the right when conducting its focus groups and interviews. C-Span leans right too, given that callers often lie about their political affiliation and call-in on Democrat lines, and given that Independents tend to skew right. That may give the impression that there is more right-wing support for wingnut beliefs than exists.

    The latest Rude Pundit essay is about why the media fails to interview the majority who support Biden and Democratic views, especially those at the NY Times. He points out that not only do we support prosecution of Trump for his crimes, but we needed prosecution of Bush and his accomplices back during Obama's terms. Rude Pundit argues against pardoning Trump (as centrists are now urging) and I fully agree with his points:

    https://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2022/08/what-about-those-of-use-who-want-donald.html

    But Rude Pundits larger point is why the media seems unconcerned about the views of those who are not right-wing crazies? And Somerby repeats this pattern, worrying only about the view of The Others and urging greater focus on a minority who is already disproportionately discussed in the media, including C-Span's call-in shows.

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    1. A majority of Americans disapprove of Joe Biden according to the latest polls.

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    2. A majority of American disapprove of Trump too. Yet the media keeps seeking out the ones who approve of him to interview. In contrast, they seek out the ones who disapprove of Biden to interview, not the ones who approve of him.

      It is a mistake to confuse favorability ratings with voter intentions. There have been several incumbents with favorability ratings in the 40s who have won reelection.

      Democrats consider Joe Biden too old to run again and want to see someone else run, they are frustrated by Sinema and Manchin and blame Biden for their obstructionism, but that isn't the same as disliking Biden. This might be clearer if Democrats were ever interviewed, the way Republican Trump supports are.

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    3. It's hard to find sympathy for your viewpoint.

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    4. Empathy is not a conservative strong point. Try harder.

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    5. If Democrats disapprove of Joe Biden, it may be because the mainstream press fails to present this information to them:

      "“We now have a presidency where the president has delivered the largest economic recovery plan since Roosevelt, the largest infrastructure plan since Eisenhower, the most judges confirmed since Kennedy, the second largest health care bill since Johnson, and the largest climate change bill in history. … The first time we’ve done gun control since President Clinton was here, the first time ever an African American woman has been put on the U.S. Supreme Court. … I think it’s a record to take to the American people.”

      — White House chief of staff Ron Klain, in an interview with Politico."

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  2. "The caller thought 30,000 emails were in question; Kaplan said it was basically eight. This is the way our broken discourse works when we're living in two different worlds—when viewers of our two warring tribes get their information from segregated news sources."

    As mh has patiently repeated, the number of violations of the Espionage Act, or previous rules for handling classified materials governing Clinton's campaign, does not matter. One is sufficient. Somerby's ongoing focus on how many violations occurred is a red herring. So is any reference to Clinton, but that is what the right always does -- it resurrects Hillary, even though she is not running for office and this claimed "double standard" is imaginary, concocted by Republicans to attack her when she did run for office.

    Did Hillary violate rules for handling classified info 8 times? No. Frank is repeating Republican accusations, not examining the truth. In truth, Hillary Clinton was not charged because she did not violate those rules at all. The alleged violations were (1) not marked classified, (2) did not originate with Clinton, (3) were decided to be classified after the fact of reviewing her emails, in order to find something questionable and justify the investigation, (4) as Frank notes, were so trivial as to be ludicrous. There was nothing to charge her with. That is not the case with Trump.

    But notice how both Frank and Somerby are unwilling to voice strong support for Clinton's innocence, even when she is no longer seeking office. This is what bias looks like.

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    1. Thank you. This is what is so frustrating about the media constantly bringing up Hillary Clinton's emails 6 years later and still not making clear to their audience what the hell it was all about. In truth, there never was any pretext to even launch the FBI investigation into Hillary's emails. Whether she used her own personal email or the state.gov email account, neither one was ever supposed to be used for transmitting classified documents or information. After she gave them all her emails, none of which were classified or contained the requisite classified markings, they took them all and sent them to be reviewed by all agencies with classification authority to fly speck them searching for any excuse to say they should have been classified. It was a ratfuck from start to finish. Talk about your deep state. Jesus.

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    2. Correction: Frank should be Kaplan

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    3. One thing that bugged me about the story was, when the basis for outrage was running thin, we were told “ she was repeatedly warned!”, this always seemed to be from an anonymous source never backed up by events.

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    4. It’s the best gotcha Bob’s got.

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  3. "Of the 30,000 emails that the FBI examined..."

    Hmm. This sounds confusing, dear Bob. In fact, it sounds like it's being deliberately obfuscated.

    The Psycho-Witch email scandal was about emails that Psycho-Witch "acid washed" (as John from NY calls it), and therefore the FBI had examined none of them. They simply disappeared. Okay, dear Bob? So, whatever your dembot journo wrote there, it doesn't answer John's point.

    Okay, so presumably this is about Psycho-Witch's official emails on her private server and on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the great liberal luminary.

    We have no idea about the number of "top secret" emails there, but -- outta curiosity -- how do explain your dembot journos switching from mere "classified" to, suddenly, "top secret" without missing a beat? What is it, dear Bob?

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    1. Mao has no idea what the email scandal was about. He is a Russian in a troll farm. What he says here is hopelessly confused, but perhaps reflective of the ignorant beliefs of right-wingers who themselves didn't follow this closely at the time.

      The material Trump was holding included Top Secret -- Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI), a designation that requires more than a Top Secret clearance and must be viewed in a special facility meeting requirements for keeping the material secure. That is way beyond anything Clinton was accused of sending in her emails.

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    2. Psycho-Witch? How is your Mother relevant to this discussion?

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    3. No Mao, in America the correct phrase is yo mama!

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    4. No, 11:09, Mao is not a Russian troll, he's just a piece of shit.

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    5. Mao is no more a piece of shit than any other standard-issue Reagan Republican.

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  5. "John from New York believes what he's heard—and he's never heard anything different."

    This statement by Somerby is absurd. Right wingers do not believe what they do because they've never heard contradictory information. They hear conflicting info from friends and relatives and mainstream news. They seek out information that confirms their biases and they reject the conflicting facts as "fake news" or propaganda. They choose to believe what they do -- it isn't a matter of never hearing the truth (and 8 emails is much closer to truth than 30k).

    Why are conservatives motivated to believe obviously false things? I agree with whoever it is that keeps referring to racism and bigotry as a primary Republican motivation. Trump gave his supporters permission to engage in the bigoted thinking they have longed to express freely ever since rules of civility outlawed bigoted speech in the workplace and started labeling that stuff racist and sexist and homophobic. Before the civil rights movement made such behavior unacceptable, it openly permeated society -- Trump is the backlash. Pretending otherwise, by giving credence to complaints about Hillary's emails (again!), is an acceptance of the self-justification and deflection of the right.

    Somerby himself doesn't believe racism is a thing any more and has said so repeatedly. He thinks black people have been focusing on trivialities and making up examples of discrimination. He has expressed his own misogynistic views too, such as that a woman who is sexually assaulted is at fault because she drank too much, or that Roy Moore was OK to date young girls because their mamas approved, or that Kamala Harris has been reciting false stats when she repeats the DOL's own statistics about the gender pay gap. This focus on Clinton's emails is just a cover that permits Somerby to ignore the real reason why right-wingers believe what they do -- they are sick of restrictions on their base bigotry and want permission to do whatever they want, say what they want, violate society's limits and pursue their own self-interest unfettered, and Trump says go ahead and do it, while he does it himself and "owns the libs". But has there ever been a group of people so obsessed with a single politician, as the right has been with Hillary? To the point where the vendetta continues, even though she has been out of public view since 2016? Talk about your big lies! And Somerby has now written two posts about her emails, and counting... and he has never acknowledged the bigotry and hate and violence on the right, instead blaming the left for looking down on The Others and making them feel stupid, but then he says they have never heard anything else, which is pretty darned condescending itself when you think about it.

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  6. Here is another Somerby absurdity:

    "We live in our red and blue tribal lands, and rarely the twain shall meet."

    Whenever people on the right talk about secession, formation of a red nation by breaking off the blue parts of our country, a glance at a political map shows the difficulties. While some states are mostly red, the majority of states are a mix of red rural areas and blue urban areas within the same state. There are no obvious ways to excise the cities while retaining a contiguous geographical area that can secede. And that is setting aside the question of how those red states would support themselves if they lose the largely blue non-agricultural and industrial areas needed for a sound economy.

    The reality is that red and blue areas don't split into separate countries along convenient lines, but intermix and interact, whether in workplaces or families or neighborhoods. The division that Somerby sees is maintained by people who draw social boundaries among their friends and relatives. Some of us stay close by refusing to talk politics. Others shun those they disagree with. Right wingers engage in trolling and harassment of those with different views. Left wingers go about their activities and work toward their goals without regard for those on the right, a frustrating and difficult task. And there is no doubt an apathetic, non-political core of some size that buffers the rest, consisting of those who do not vote and who don't think much about Trump or Biden but try to go on with their lives focusing closely on their own interests. Somerby never talks about that non-voting group, but they are about 34% of the population (roughly equal to the number who are Trump supporters). Somerby is immersed in the world of political junkies and may not know what it is like outside that space.

    My point is that we live our lives in non-tribal lands and we meet red voters all the time, interact with them, love them as family members and friends, respect them as bosses or coworkers. We try to wait for them to come to their senses. And we also live among people who belong to neither tribe, or to some other tribe off Somerby's radar.


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  7. "What was the source of Kaplan's account? As far as we know, he has never cited his source.

    Why not do so now? "

    Because Clinton is not on trial. Because she is no longer running for any office. Because the whole email "scandal" was a manufactured excuse to attack her during a campaign in which she was the hugely more qualified and competent candidate. Because she was investigated and found to have committed nothing chargeable, suggesting that it was a non-issue at the time and certainly is a non-issue now. Because the main interest is who persecuted Clinton by raising this so-called scandal, not what Clinton did, when she manifestly did nothing that jeopardized national security or even constituted wrongdoing.

    Why would Somerby suggest that Frank needs to divulge sources in a tangential reference to Clinton? Why is this worth writing 2 posts about? Only the right wing considers this relevant to Trump's case, yet Somerby is pushing this, implying that Frank's failure to cite a source in a non-scholarly article indicates some murky gray area that requires clarification. (Somerby can look up where that breakdown came from, using a simple google search.)

    Why is Somerby suggesting that we should be chasing red herrings instead of focusing on Trump's wrongdoing? Who does that? Not liberals.

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    1. Correction: Frank should be Kaplan

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  8. "That said, the caller alleged that "a "clear double standard" exists in the way Donald J. Trump is being treated with respect to the recent search for classified material."

    It is true that there is a double standard in our legal system between the way people who have committed crimes are treated compared to those who have not.

    Having a double standard is not the problem. Generally double standards are a problem when people are treated differently despite having done the same things, having the same characteristics, being equal. That is far from true when comparing Hillary and Donald.

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  9. "UNDER THE BIG TOP: Was Kaplan's account of those emails correct?"

    Does an account become incorrect simply because the author omits a source in a non-scholarly article? I don't think so. It is simply more difficult to verify.

    But did Kaplan really omit the source of that breakdown of Clinton's emails? In his Slate article, Kaplan refers back to a previous article, also written for Slate, in which he originally discussed the breakdown of Clinton's emails and the accusations against her. There, he clearly sources the breakdown to James Comey:

    "Look at Tuesday’s statement by FBI Director James Comey. Ignore his self-righteous, scolding tone. Read the facts he’s uncovered, place them in context, and the conclusion is inescapable: As Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, California, there’s no there there."

    Then he continues DIRECTLY with the detailed explanation of why there was no crime involved in her handling of those emails, no there there.

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  10. 8 / 30000 = 1 / 3750

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    1. None of Hillary's emails were classified. Not 8, not any. Go back and read the Kaplan Slate article referenced by Somerby.

      0 / 30000 = undefined
      0 / 3750 = undefined

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    2. 0 / 30000 = 0 / 3750 = 0, perfectly well defined.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. Yes, sorry for the error, got confused with division by 0

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  11. Somerby asks: "Where does knowledge come from?"

    Then he says that each day, hearts were broken. Not his, necessarily, and his passive tense says nothing about what or who broke those unidentified hearts. Talk about vague!

    Then he spends the rest of his column trying to tell us, wrongly, that Kaplan didn't identify his source (which is clearly identified in the original Slate article as Comey). Thus Somerby demonstrates his own lack of knowledge and breaks some more hearts, perhaps. So we have to conclude that at least part of knowledge comes from paying attention when you read.

    But Somerby writes his own essay so confidently that he must believe he has some knowledge to rely on, when he clearly doesn't. So one must ask, where does lack of knowledge come from, and how does one know when one lacks knowledge? Somerby seems not to have known he was wrong, despite expending a lot of words saying the wrong thing. Perhaps humility is part of knowledge acquisition. Just sayin'

    Somerby might gain knowledge via correction, if only he read the comments on his blog. If there is a knowledge-related error, someone usually finds it. Is this decision to skip feedback the result of hubris -- does he assume he is always right and thus needs no feedback? Or does he not care about knowledge?

    I find the odd sentence construction of his essays, the overuse of passive voice and the unwillingness to state his own views directly, to be a way of avoiding knowledge, of obfuscating and misdirecting the reader, especially about his own intentions and beliefs. This isn't the way someone who respects knowledge writes. It is the way someone who is trying deceive and mislead writes.

    Because we are left with the impression that those callers made Somerby's heart break with their lack of knowledge, when in fact it seems more likely that Somerby doesn't give a fig for knowledge and has thrown in with the true believers himself, like John in New York, who thinks the system is rigged in favor of Hillary.

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  12. “The caller thought 30,000 emails were in question; Kaplan said it was basically eight. This is the way our broken discourse works when we're living in two different worlds—when viewers of our two warring tribes get their information from segregated news sources.”

    It might be noted that one of these two “warring tribes” (the one reading Kaplan) has the correct information, the other does not.

    The blue tribe is also able to differentiate between the case of Hillary’s emails and what Trump is accused of. Trump was holding onto documents that the government had requested months ago. False assurances were given to the government that Trump no longer had classified docs.

    It’s also worth pointing out that the docs were recovered under three statutes, not just the one dealing with classified docs:

    18 U.S. Code § 793 - Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information

    18 U.S. Code § 2071 - Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally

    18 U.S. Code § 1519 - Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy

    It is fatuous to try to compare the number of supposed classified docs between Hillary and Trump. In fact, it plays into the stupid both sides game that Republicans love to play.

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  13. Terrible work from Bob today, well massacred here by his readers. He should be flattered some still care enough to do it.

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  14. This is an interesting article. Its implications are that Somerby may have the wrong target when he blames the mainstream media for polarization, while ignoring the professional dividers on social media. Haidt is himself a Republican, which may be partly why he doesn't locate the problem on the right, as Graham (the article's author and a sociologist at the University of Virginia) does.

    https://www.rawstory.com/professional-dividers-on-social-media-are-shattering-democracy-for-profit/

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    1. "Haidt is himself a Republican." No he's not. What is your source for this?

      Here is what Wikipedia says about his political views: "Haidt describes how he began to study political psychology in order to help the Democratic Party win more elections, and argues that each of the major political groups—conservatives, progressives, and libertarians—have valuable insights and that truth and good policy emerge from the contest of ideas. Since 2012, Haidt has referred to himself as a political centrist."

      And a recent article about Haidt says the following:
      "Haidt is Jewish-American and grew up in Scarsdale, New York state, an affluent town that’s about 23 miles north of Manhattan. He has spent his career in academia, first at the University of Virginia, before moving to NYU in 2011. As a self-described Democrat-voting centrist, Haidt has drawn criticism for giving equal weight to what he views as the sins of the left (a fixation on identity politics) with those of the right (the Republicans, he told me, are encouraging “right-wing militias that are likely to bring us violence”)."

      And a since-deleted tweet by Haidt stated the following, "huh? I have never been right of center. I have never voted for a republican, nor given a dollar to a conservative candidate or cause. I am a centrist, a JS Mill liberal, who is now politically homeless."

      I suspect you're the same person who claims Somerby isn't really a liberal, because he (now) mostly criticizes liberals. Just because someone criticizes a group doesn't mean the person can't belong to that group. Do you ever criticize Americans?

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    2. My source is that I knew him as part of a postdoc program back in the 1990s. I've also read his work. He may call himself a centrist, but I wouldn't have called him a liberal back then or now either. How he voted is his business -- since I wasn't there, I accept claims about past voting with a grain of salt. I think Haidt pretty much has to claim to be centrist in order to be taken seriously in political psychology. You can't be all things to all people and still be yourself, assuming he wants to be considered a Democrat. Anyone can fill out a voter registration card, but it takes more to walk the walk, in my opinion.

      I claim that Somerby isn't a liberal because he advances conservative talking points so regularly here. Will it make you feel better if I call him a confused, Trump-excusing, misogynist who doesn't support civil rights and can't get behind any Democratic candidate who nevertheless tells us he is liberal, while saying that Tucker Carlson has the best facts and thought it would betray the voters if Trump were impeached? I tend to judge people by their actions, not their self-labeling.

      There are quite a few people these days claiming to be Democrats or centrists but who are aligning themselves with conservative views. Glen Greenwald, Bari Weiss, Matt Taibi come to mind. I agree that the left has no party discipline when it comes to public criticism, and I think that hurts us. For example, I find it dismaying the way Biden has been abandoned by Democrats when he has so much he has accomplished. So, if you are saying that Haidt is that kind of Democrat, it doesn't change my opinion of his politics much. Would you call Sinema and Manchin Democrats too?

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    3. There are no more Republican centrists, due to their party discipline, so if you want to be a centrist you pretty much have to be a Democrat. Are such people really Democrats in any important sense of the term? Were the Southern Democrats really Democrats?

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    4. It remains that Haidt does not locate the problem on the right, as Graham explicitly did. If Haidt is a Democrat, why wouldn't he criticize the right for our current polarization, given that the right is both more extreme and less reticent about attacking the left than the left is of the right? Haidt displays a careful bothsiderist balance that drives many liberals nuts (see Driftwood or Rectification of Names blogs) because it fails to admit that the right has gone batshit crazy and has been demonizing the left for decades. Haidt may be trying to stay above the fray, but he cannot claim to be a Democrat while ignoring what the right has become.

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    5. What a jumbled mess of misstatements and illogic.
      "He may call himself a centrist, but I wouldn't have called him a liberal back then or now either."  What??  HE calls himself a CENTRIST.  But YOU wouldn't call him a LIBERAL??  How do those two statements relate to each other logically?  And who said anything about him being a liberal?  He calls himself a centrist, not a liberal.  And I didn't call him a liberal either (or a Democrat). You claimed categorically that HE IS A REPUBLICAN.  That is the claim I questioned.  And so far, you've presented exactly zero evidence to support your claim.

      "...assuming he wants to be considered a Democrat. Anyone can fill out a voter registration card, but it takes more to walk the walk."  He never indicated he wants to be considered a Democrat.  He's a centrist who votes for Democrats because of how extreme the Republican Party has become.  So whatever "walk" you think he needs to walk to be a "true Democrat" is irrelevant.  No one claimed that he's a Democrat.  

      "I claim that Somerby isn't a liberal because he advances conservative talking points so regularly here.  Will it make you feel better if I call him a confused, Trump-excusing, misogynist..."   You're the one who's confused.  I've read Somerby's posts for the last 18 years.  I've seen no indication that he's a conservative or a misogynist.  He doesn't hold conservative positions on major issues such as abortion, social spending, gay rights, war, education, environmental issues, etc.  What you call "advancing conservative talking points" and "Trump-excusing" and "misogyny" is simply Bob doing his best to critically evaluate claims and arguments made by liberals, whatever their gender.  He listens to both sides, and when he thinks conservatives have a valid point, he says so.  What would make me feel better is if you stopped trying to label everyone. Just stick to evaluating ideas, claims, positions, instead of setting yourself up as judge of who is and isn't a "true liberal."  

      "Would you call Sinema and Manchin Democrats too?"  Sinema and Manchin have voted with the Democrats far more than they've voted against them.  This isn't remotely true of any (officially) Republican members of Congress.  But once again, who the fuck cares about trying to label a person as a "true" this or that?  How does that advance anything or enlighten anyone?  That's what small-minded religious people do.  My version of Christianity is the true version.  I'm a true Christian.  And this person is a true Christian.  But this person isn't.  These people over here are true Christians.  But not those over there. How childish.

      "It remains that Haidt does not locate the problem on the right, as Graham explicitly did. If Haidt is a Democrat, ...."  Again, he doesn't claim to be a Democrat.  
      "...why wouldn't he criticize the right for our current polarization, given that the right is both more extreme and less reticent about attacking the left than the left is of the right?"  Oh ok, so THAT'S the true test of who is and who isn't a Democrat.  Thanks for letting everyone know.  Also, yes he DOES criticize the right.  But he criticizes the left too, and you can't tolerate that apparently.
      "... fails to admit that the right has gone batshit crazy and has been demonizing the left for decades. Haidt may be trying to stay above the fray, but he cannot claim to be a Democrat while ignoring what the right has become."  Once again, he doesn't claim to be a Democrat, and I never claimed he was either.  And once again, he has plenty of criticism for the right.  "Haidt blames Republicans for the coarsening of public discourse; the party is 'broken' and 'stupid', he said. 'All of these trends were happening before Donald Trump [but] he accelerated them greatly. He accelerated our complete hatred of the other side, our sense of chaos and confusion, the decline of trust in institutions.'"  https://www.newstatesman.com/encounter/2022/06/jonathan-haidt-interview-america-ghost-liberal-democracies-future

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    6. So, you want to play word games, like Somerby does, by claiming that you never said Haidt was a Democrat, while quoting from Wikipedia and another article that both say he is a Democrat. If you disagreed with the material you quoted, you should have said so, not disavow it later after quoting it yourself, after getting on my case for claiming he is not a Democrat. Games.

      I dislike specious criticism of Democrats coming from so-called centrists who are aiding and abetting Trump by repeating conservative memes and politically motivated attacks on the left, whether they come from Somerby or anyone else. I think that should have been clear from what I said.

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    7. you're either a liar or you can't read.
      "while quoting from Wikipedia and another article that both say he is a Democrat." neither source said he's a Democrat. they said he's a centrist who VOTES for Democrats. you can support Democrats without BEING a Democrat. the "never Trump" Republicans are a clear example of this, as is Bernie Sanders.

      "after getting on my case for claiming he is not a Democrat." you didn't just claim he's not a Democrat. you specifically claimed he was a Republican. there's a difference. as i suspected, it was just baseless bullshit meant to be provocative and to out-group someone you don't like.

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    8. The things Haidt has been saying refer to a Republican party that doesn’t exist any more.

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  15. If enough voters rightly or wrongly thought enough emails were classified and voted against her because of it, the nation will forever owe Comey a debt of gratitude.

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    1. Does that include the people who died at the beginning of covid because Trump mishandled the pandemic? Does it include the children in cages at the border? Should they be feeling grateful now? I can understand that the Republicans and Trump supporters are grateful for Comey's misdeeds, but what about those who think things didn't go well under Trump? Nation does not equal Republicans -- there are others to consider too, such as the women who have lost their rights due to Trump's appointment of 3 Catholic extremist judges who overturned established case law to make abortion illegal. Are they grateful?

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    2. The ones who see their babies because they were obstructed from killing them will be grateful unless they're morally deranged.

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    3. Killing babies is against the law, and now Republicans want abortions to be against the law too.
      BTW, f we call treason against the United States "baby-killing" do you think Republicans would support a law against that too?

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  16. Actual media critic, Margaret Sullivan (Wash. Post) said today:

    "The media has come a long, long way in figuring out how to cover the democracy-threatening ways of Donald Trump and his allies, including his stalwart helpers in right-wing media. It is now common to see headlines and stories that plainly refer to some politicians as “election deniers,” and journalists are far less hesitant to use the blunt and clarifyingword “lie” to describe Trump’s false statements. That includes, of course, the former president’s near-constant campaign to claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged to prevent him from keeping the White House."

    I agree with Sullivan that this is progress by the media, but will Somerby agree? He still thinks that one cannot use the word lie, even to describe Trump's cons, as long as the actual internal state of someone's belief cannot be directly known. So Somerby excuses Trump from all lies, because we cannot rule out that he believes what he is saying. Fortunately, the rest of the media is not so coy. Those who support Trump say that the election was stolen, and those who support Biden say that Trump is lying, along with those who love truth, can understand statistics, and who won't deny reality for political expedience. But not Somerby, who insists that we cannot call Trump Big Lie a lie until we can read minds and know what he believes. And that is why Somerby is no liberal, no matter what his voter registration, and why his essays come across as apologizing for our would-be tyrant, instead of defending democracy. But YMMV.

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    1. I can read Bob’s mind. He knows all Republicans are pieces of shit, no matter what he says.

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    2. Bob is right.

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