UNDER THE BIG TOP: When Biden's gun thugs conducted a search...


...C-Span viewers responded: We were called away from our campus this morning. For that reason, we're a bit disoriented, and we'll therefore be forced to be brief.

That said:

Last Sunday morning, C-Span's Washington Journal began accepting phone calls from viewers. For better or worse, the very first call to the heartbreaking show went like this (in part):

JOHN FROM NEW YORK (8/15/22): ...I think the American people have to wake up and they have to see gradually, maybe incrementally, that this government is moving in a direction where it is starting to use force, kind of like Gestapo tactics, something like Stasi of an East German nature, to intimidate and coerce the average American so that they won't, you know, object to their methods.

As that caller pondered the search of Mar-a-Lago, he thought of the Gestapo, the Stasi. In a somewhat similar vein, the third caller of the day offered this assessment: 

BRAD FROM KENTUCKY: I want to talk about the unprecedented nature of what Biden has done here...He has sent us down a path that could spin out of control very quickly. Using federal troops on a former president is a pretty bad move. I mean, this is something that has gone--it's an attack on the peaceful transfer of power.  Biden sending gun thugs on a former president is the insurrection that people find January 6 was...

This caller seemed to believe that President Biden had ordered the search. In this caller's assessment, Biden had turned a bunch of "gun thugs" loose on his predecessor.

A short while later, a woman calling from Wyoming had a different type of complaint. She wasn't the only caller this day who mentioned Melania's things:

JUNE FROM WYOMING: ...They all go down there. They were nine hours—nine hours!—in that place. They go through her negligees, her closet, they take everything...

They get in there and they go through her closet. They go there for nine hours.

We've now cited a few of the calls from just the first half hour. For the record, these people are fully sincere in the things they say and believe.

Donald J. Trump had been floating talk about the disrespect shown to Melania's things. Meanwhile, a wide array of Republican pols had been floating imagery about gun thugs—in the IRS, let's say:

GRASSLEY (8/11/22): Are they going to have a strike force that goes in with AK-15s [sic] already loaded, all ready to shoot some small-business person in Iowa with these? Because I think they’re going after middle-class and small-business people.

That was Senator Grassley (R-Iowa), last Thursday morning on Fox & Friends. He was behaving in a remarkable way concerning those new IRS employees.

Modern-day anthropology lessons can be painful and hard. They can also be instructive—and all three of those C-Span callers seemed to be completely sincere in the things they believed and said.

We now live in a complex media world. People hear all kinds of things said by all kinds of people. 

The anthropology lessons are everywhere. These lessons can be painful and hard.

People like Grassley egg feelings on. Lessons which would have been hard to believe at one time are offered to us in this way.

In closing, we'll mention another reference made by that very first caller. He complained about "Hillary's 30,000 emails." It's one of the greatest hits of this failing political era.

Trump had been citing the emails too. We'll revisit that topic tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Formulations from two different worlds


  1. Well, dear Bob, we can understand why John from NY would say the words he said.

    ...and, presumably, you do too, dear Bob, doncha?

    1. Because laws are only for the blacks and poor?

  2. "C-Span's Washington Journal began accepting phone calls from viewers. "

    On C-Span, they have a Democratic call-in line, a Republican call-in line and an Independent call-in line. Why doesn't Somerby identify that these calls are all from Republicans, as they obviously are? We already know that they believe the things told them on Fox News and then spew that stuff back at us whenever they get the chance. Their repetition of Republican disinformation does not mean that any substantial portion of the thinking public feels this way about the DOJ's enforcement of a search warrant on Trump. But Somerby wants to pretend the nation is rising up in horror over this invasion of Melania's privacy, so he withholds the information needed to evaluate the source of these opinions. That is putting a major thumb on his scales, but that is what Somerby does these days.

  3. "For the record, these people are fully sincere in the things they say and believe."

    How can Somerby say or know that this is true about their sincerity? They could be Republican operatives for all anyone knows, paid Trump campaign staff. There is no way to assess their sincerity.

    1. If it's not about bigotry and/ or white supremacy, Republicans couldn't care less.

  4. What is the point of today's Howler essay? People believe crazy things they are told. So what? They always have and always will. Is there a point to Somerby's repetition of Relpublican talking points, besides giving that stuff more airtime? He doesn't even point out the wrongness in their call-in remarks. When we encounter disinformation, liberals tend to try to correct it, where possible. Not Somerby, apparently.

  5. Right Wing Crazytown, USA, is currently running around the country waving Liz Cheney's head on a pike. The candidate who destroyed Liz Cheney in the primary accused President Biden of human trafficking.

    In an appearance on Steve Bannon’s show last week, Hageman said, “Joe Biden is the largest or the most destructive human trafficker in our history.”

    What is TDH going on about today?

  6. Correct, Bob.
    Republicans really are gullible morons who believe anything lying assholes tell them.
    Of course, this has been true for at least 40 years.

  7. Today, there are reports about Trump authorizing Kash Patel and John Solomon to access archival materials in order to write a report on Russiagate and the FBI's surveillance activities. Trump wrote a letter authorizing them to see non-public records. There is speculation that Patel or Solomon may have appeared on the video surveillance tapes in areas where classified material was being stored, and that this may have caused the DOJ to retrieve the documents using the FBI raid.

    It think this suggests that Trump had at least some plans for documents in the archives (he had previously appointed Patel, a former DOD appointee, and Solomon, a journalist, to his DOJ document negotiation team) at the same time as two attorneys previously on that team resigned. Among the documents retrieved are highly classified materials on the covid pandemic too.

    This situation makes it seem less likely that he simply grabbed random documents and mixed them in boxes with dinner menus, but more likely that he knew what he was retaining and has plans for using the material at some point, either to benefit conservative causes or to defend himself against accusations or even legal jeopardy, or to support conservative causes or replay favors (his pardon of Roger Stone). Use of any documents for instrumental purposes (to achieve Trump goals) makes this all seem a great deal less accidental and more motivated, which demands that we think about what his motives might be, as it seems the DOJ has been doing.

    Trump has said and clearly thinks that government documents are his to do with what he pleases. That belief is at the heart of this conflict. He has already been told that there are laws governing document handling, but he has disregarded that. That's why this conflict also boils down to impressing upon Trump that he cannot do whatever he wants with public resources, and that he is not above the law.

    Somerby seems to have dropped this subject, just as we are getting more information about what has been going on. Wonder why?

    1. The point today is that there are some really dumb right wingers and they are egged on by empty people like Grassley. It's not exactly earth shaking news. But given that Bob is now mostly loath to even look at the Right, it's kind of novel.

  8. I think the term "gun thugs" should be reserved for people who think a gun gives them special rights to push other people around and intimidate them. If that includes some cops, they need to rethink what it means to serve and protect. If that includes 2nd Ammend freaks and militia members and bad neighbors like Lauren Boebert, then shouldn't have their hands on guns of any sort until they learn how to unthug themselves.

    But I doubt this is what the caller meant and Somerby doesn't care enough to discuss it, when it has a huge impact on many of our lives, those of us who don't live in elite neighborhoods with Dr. Oz.

  9. I'll bet Biden doesn't even own a gun. I'll bet Trump does though.

  10. This is why Latinos are not leaving the Democratic Party:

    "Finally, another poll released this week showed that Latino voters in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania considered abortion to be a top-5 issue for the first time ever. In that poll, conducted by two Latino civil rights organizations, 70 percent of respondents said abortion should be legal and Democrats held a 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in the generic ballot."

  11. From Political Wire:

    "“When FBI agents found top secret documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the former president and his staff claimed the docs were actually declassified by a mysterious “standing” declassification rule. Now, the feds are investigating Trump’s alibi to see if anyone besides Trump heard about it,” Rolling Stone reports.

    “Two people familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone that the FBI has begun asking former Trump administration officials whether they’ve heard of the so-called ‘standing order’ Trump claims to have given.”

    Key takeaway: “It’s unclear why a sitting president, who as commander-in-chief was privy to any classified information, would need to declassify work brought to the White House private residence.”

  12. Somerby claims that racism is over and black people are making a big fuss about small things, but here is an example from Somerby's own hometown (Erik Loomis via Lawyers Guns & Money blog):

    "Last summer, Nathan Connolly and his wife, Shani Mott, welcomed an appraiser into their house in Baltimore, hoping to take advantage of historically low interest rates and refinance their mortgage.

    They believed that their house — improved with a new $5,000 tankless water heater and $35,000 in other renovations — was worth much more than the $450,000 that they paid for it in 2017. Home prices have been on the rise nationwide since the pandemic; in Baltimore, they have gone up 42 percent in the past five years, according to Zillow.com.

    But 20/20 Valuations, a Maryland appraisal company, put the home’s value at $472,000, and in turn, loanDepot, a mortgage lender, denied the couple a refinance loan.

    Dr. Connolly said he knew why: He, his wife and three children, aged 15, 12 and 9, are Black. A professor of history at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Connolly is an expert on redlining and the legacy of white supremacy in American cities, and much of his research focuses on the role of race in the housing market.

    Months after that first appraisal, the couple applied for another refinance loan, removed family photos and had a white male colleague — another Johns Hopkins professor — stand in for them. The second appraiser valued the house at $750,000.This week, Dr. Connolly and Dr. Mott sued loanDepot, which is based in Foothill Ranch, Calif., as well as 20/20 Valuations and Shane Lanham, the owner of 20/20 Valuations. Mr. Lanham is the appraiser who conducted the first appraisal.

    “We were clearly aware of appraisal discrimination,” said Dr. Connolly, 44. “But to be told in so many words that our presence and the life we’ve built in our home brings the property value down? It’s an absolute gut punch.”


  13. The fact that it took 9 hours for a team to search the property implies that even if they had a mole telling them where to look, the FBI was thorough in its search. That means they would also search Melania's closets, without necessarily having any prurient interest in her underwear or nightgowns.

  14. Virtually everyone grew up talking to these sorts of nice, very dim right wing people whose entire grasp of history was "those Democrats are just like Hitler."
    Over these years these Mao like clowns fully took over the party. As they took over the Right Media starting in the Clinton years, the situation got more dire, and by around 2000 Bob simply couldn't watch Fox anymore. So all he watched were the liberal outlets. When you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.... and overtime he became pretty useless.
    So, today Bob discovers there are really mean and stupid
    right wing people. They are likely to be shut ins and phone into shows like Bob references here, as they always have and always will. Yes, it is a bit shocking to hear old lying bastards like Grassley to reveal himself a complete scumbag when he is generally presented as an old school conservative mean guy. But most of the party sold it's soul, cheap, while Bob has been blathering about Rachel Maddow.

    1. Somerby has been watching Fox. He says nice things about Tucker Carlson, such as that he makes sense and has better facts than MSNBC. He says Fox viewers have heard facts we liberals don’t know, so I think there is a slight hole in your theory, Greg. Somerby has been watching C-Span and telling us about it for years.

    2. Bob has talked about how he rarely checks out Fox. Isn’t it fair to say that although they are generally the most watched, he post on Fox no more than five percent of the time?

    3. Why would a supposed liberal say nice things about Carlson?

    4. He was much more measured about Carlson, an obvious shit heal, then those he despises at MSNBC.