YAHOOS R US? Every [pundit] a demagogue!


Could the demagogues sometimes be Us? "Every man [sic] a king," Huey Long famously said.

It turned out to be the impossible dream. Today, our analysts see a less pleasing picture when they observe our declining world.

"Every pundit a demagogue!" these youngsters sardonically cry. This morning, we'll give you three quick examples from our failing blue tribe's failing world.

Jamelle Bouie's quote:

Within the past week or so, we made a complimentary remark about the New York Times' Jamelle Bouie. Even as we did, we secretly knew that what we were doing was wrong.

In his new column for the Times, Bouie offers a pleasing "quotation." It comes from Florida's infamous (and childishly named) Stop WOKE Act. 

Bouie provides no link to the text of the law. The "quotation" goes like this:

BOUIE (3/28/23): The official name of Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibiting “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity,” is the Parental Rights in Education Act. And the state’s Stop WOKE (short for Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act, which outlaws any school instruction that classifies individuals as “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” was framed, similarly, as a victory for the rights of parents.

Really? Does Florida's childishly-named Stop WOKE Act really "outlaw any school instruction that classifies individuals as 'inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously?” 

From those of us who are mentally active, it's a bit hard to know what such a statement could even mean. It almost sounds like the act is forbidding discussions of individuals as "racist" at all.

On its face, Bouie's alleged quotation doesn't quite seem to parse. For the record, that isn't what the relevant portion of the Florida law actually seems to say. 

We refer to what the law "seems to say" because, as we've noted in the past, there seems to be no clean version of the bill's text available online. 

Bouie doesn't identify the source of his quotation, or link to any such source. Below, you see the best version of the bill we have been able to find.  

The Washington Post recently linked to that version of the bill as the actual text. Here is the relevant portion:

From Florida's Stop WOKE Act:

The Legislature acknowledges the fundamental truth that all individuals are equal before the law and have inalienable rights. Accordingly, instruction on the topics enumerated in this section and supporting materials must be consistent with the following principles of individual freedom:

(a) No individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.

(b) No race is inherently superior to another race.

(c) No individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.

As it turns out, the actual text of subsection (a) isn't crazy or weird or fuzzy at all. It makes a simple declarative statement. Because no one could possibly disagree with that statement, it's our impression that people like Bouie have repeatedly chosen to avoid quoting or paraphrasing it accurately.

Your lizard brain will quickly insist that Bouie was surely doing the best he could. That may well be the case, but we'll note another part of his column in the third parr of this report.

In the meantime, we'll only say this:

We don't think we've ever seen a serious attempt to explain, for good or for ill, what the Stop WOKE Act actually says. What we've typically seen instead has been tribal Storyline, pretty much all the way down.

Where did Bouie get that quote? How did it survive fact-checking?

Nicolle Wallace and the naked statue:

To our eye and ear, Nicolle Wallace had always been a bit demagogue-adjacent. It was true when she was shilling to outlaw same-sex marriage. It remains true today now that she's servicing Us.

Also to our eye and ear, Wallace has been getting a bit frenzied in the past few weeks, presumably under the stress of her unrequited demagoguery. For example, she has taken to repeating totemic formulations like this, from the start of yesterday's Deadline: White House program:

Hi there everyone! It's 4 o'clock in New York as we have learned more, and more, and more, about the events of January 6th and the insurrection, and specifically the efforts of the twice-impeached, disgraced ex-president to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

"The twice-impeached, disgraced ex-president!" This has become a totemic incantation on Wallace's popular show. She repeats the formulation at least five separate times during yesterday's program alone. This matched the number of incantations from Monday's show.

We'll assume that Wallace is a good person, but she's long been demagogue-adjacent. To our eye and ear, she has also seemed to be getting angrier and more frustrated over the past few weeks. 

According to experts, there is no foolishness that a human like this won't endure in service to Storyline. That explains yesterday's clownlike presentation about the naked statue:

WALLACE (3/28/23): It gets worse. A Florida charter school principal said last week she was forced to resign for not contacting the parents of students in a sixth-grade class—wait for this, an art class—before exposing them to what one parent equated to pornographic material.

A warning to our viewers now: If you're offended by priceless, sort of boring, works of Renaissance art, avert your eyes. [Brief pause]  Michelangelo's 16th century David marble statue is now the latest target of the censorship mobs...

Are you following this? Wallace was mocking a few parents of sixth graders. The parents felt they should have been notified that the naked statue would be shown to their sixth graders. In previous years, that had been the school's policy. The policy wasn't followed this year.

First, a few basic facts:

The principal did say that she had been forced to resign because of this failure to follow policy. The chairman of the school's board said that this was merely one in a succession of incidents.

Wallace doesn't know which account is true. Inevitably, she gave viewers the account which advances Storyline. Beyond that, we've seen no one say that this incident occurred in an art class. When Storyline is in the saddle and riding humankind, such additions will occur.

Seeming to embellish several known facts, Wallace described the handful of parents who complained as part of "the censorship mobs." But dear God! 

Before she (briefly) showed the naked statue to her own adult viewers, she seemed to feel the need to provide a brief warning herself! Your lizard brain is going to tell you that she was simply being ironic.

Everything is always possible, but we'll guess that wasn't the case.

According to experts, there are few things a human like Wallace won't do as she pursues her tribal warfare. In the past, she demagogued against same sex marriage. Today, she services Us.

The Ruby Bridges film:

At the tender age of 6, Ruby Bridges became a remarkable historical figure. 

In 1960, accompanied by no other children, she integrated a New Orleans public school all by herself. Her frightening walk to school on her first day was portrayed in one of Norman Rockwell's greatest and most famous illustrations, "The Problem We All Live With."

Today, we're living with a different problem. First, a few basic facts:

Way back when, Disney and ABC created a full-length film about Ruby Bridges. It aired as part of the first season of the ABC program, The Wonderful World of Disney. 

The film was 96 minutes long. It aired on January 18, 1998. Rightly or wrongly, it received a PG-rating from the Motion Picture Association, meaning this:

MPA Movie Rating System:

G – General Audiences

All ages admitted. Nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children.

PG – Parental Guidance Suggested

Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give "parental guidance." May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.

Correctly or otherwise, the 96-minute film didn't receive a G rating. Instead, it was rated PG, meaning it "may contain some material parents might not like for their young children."

We've never seen the film. Neither, you can feel quite sure, have the various blue tribe tribunes screeching about it today.

One such tribune is Jamelle Bouie; another is Nicolle Wallace. In yesterday's column, Bouie offered this:

BOUIE: It should be said that this movement for “parents’ rights” in Florida has empowered certain parents to remove books, films, even whole classes that threaten to expose their children to material that might make them uncomfortable. In Pinellas County, for example, a single complaint about the Disney film “Ruby Bridges”—about the 6-year-old girl who integrated an all-white New Orleans school in 1960—led to its removal from an elementary school.

There was indeed "a single complaint about the Disney film." That single complaint came from one lone parent, after the film was shown to second graders as part of Black History Month. 

That said, is it true that this single complaint has "led to [the film's removal] removal from an elementary school?" That isn't what the Washington Post has reported about this utterly trivial matter. Based on what the Post reported, that statement is an embellishment—but then again, what isn't?

In his column, Bouie provides no link to any account of the incident. Meanwhile, as of 10 o'clock this morning, his own New York Times—to its credit—hasn't yet offered a news report about this transcendently trivial non-event, in which one (1) parent had the nerve to state her view to the principal of one (1) elementary school.

Quick question: Should the school be showing this film to its second graders? Is the school showing good judgment?

We don't have the slightest idea! Like you, we've never seen the film. Also, we've never worked with second graders.

(It does seem a bit odd to us to think that second graders are being shown a 96-minute film, but we could be wrong about that. Just for the record, Common Sense Media has scored the film as appropriate for kids from the age of 10 up.)

Our view? There's zero reason to assume that the school is exhibiting perfect judgment. Beyond that, there's no reason to start attacking the parent who has questioned that judgment in the way our blue tribe's hacks are now doing across the board.

Wallace also went there yesterday. You can be sure she had no idea what she was talking about. It basically pure Storyline now—Storyline all the way down.

Long ago and far away, we did show a lengthy film to a fifth-grade Baltimore class. (May 1970!)

The film was The Forbidden Village, a John Steinbeck production about the attempt to bring modern medicine to a rural Mexican village—a village where the children were dying due to a contaminated well.

You can still see the film, in entirety and for free, through this link to YouTube. As it happened, those fifth graders reacted to that film with great ardor—but we certainly wouldn't have shown it to a bunch of second graders.

(We especially remember the outraged reaction of NAME WITHHELD. Why would any group of parents simply let their children die, that good kid angrily asked.)

Fifth graders aren't kindergartners; kindergartners aren't second graders. That said, you have to be completely insane to think that this trivial incident in one Florida school should be the subject of a national discussion, especially in a world where the pseudo-discussion will be led by a pile of corporate hacks who will embellish, disappear, rearrange or ignore an array of basic facts.

"Every man [sic] a king," Long said. According to anthropologists, we live in a different world.

Increasingly, we live in a world built from preferred tribal Storyline. At this point, could it be that it isn't just Them? Could it be that the Yahoos R Us?

More and more, the game is being played that way, inconsolable scholars insist.

Still coming: Love it or leave it; McGovern's inanity; PEN America's embarrassing post


  1. We liked your post, dear Bob.

    It's good, if a bit too yawny. Where are your customary accusations of dumbness, craziness, mental illness? Nowhere to found.

    Is it because it's good-decent persons you are criticizing here? It is, isn't it? Tsk. Hypocrisy, dear Bob. Hypocrisy, we're sorry to say.

    ...anyhow, thanks, as usual, for documenting this minor tiny portion of the recent liberal atrocities...

  2. "It turned out to be the impossible dream. Today, our analysts see a less pleasing picture when they observe our declining world."

    For good reason. It would be bad for every man [sic] to be a king because our society depends on cooperation and mutual consideration, compromise and working together for the common good. Trump wants to be king and look where it has gotten us. The belief that anyone should be or can be "king" is ridiculous and not a worthy goal.

    I suspect that what Huey Long meant by his statement and how Somerby takes it are two widely different things.

    1. In many, if not most respects, our world is not declining. Poverty levels and hunger have declined majorly around the world. So have levels of violence (Ukraine and Russia excepted). Quality of life has improved especially in third world countries. We are making progress on climate change, although too slowly. That isn't decline.

      Somerby stance of gloom and doom is consistent with the Republican approach to attracting voters by making them fearful and angry. One way to do that is by talking about a world as declining when it is not, by observable measures. But Somerby never needs evidence for whatever he says. It is all simple assertion and he hopes the rubes will believe him just because he says so.

    2. If Somerby is himself declining, healthwise or cognitively, it might make him tend to see the whole world as declining too.

    3. And we see Bob’s imaginary
      friends have returned….

    4. @ 11:59 AM - No, it's just a necessary component to his preferred narrative.

  3. "Does Florida's childishly-named Stop WOKE Act really "outlaw any school instruction that classifies individuals as 'inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously?”

    From those of us who are mentally active, it's a bit hard to know what such a statement could even mean. "

    This is one of the main criticisms of the law. It is very hard for a teacher to figure out how to stay on the right side of the law should a parent or administrator bring a complaint against them. That's why teachers are fearful their employment may be terminated unexpectedly, for routine or normal teaching activities, as happened to that principal Somerby was discussing just a few days ago.

    1. "This is one of the main criticisms of the law"

      Why, yes, we suppose it is: truncating the sentence at "solely by virtue of his or her race or sex" is the main dembot "criticism".

  4. "Where did Bouie get that quote? How did it survive fact-checking?"

    If the law is difficult to interpret and no one has seriously grappled with what it requires (according to Somerby), how would a fact-checker be able to check Bouie's statement about it?

    Is Somerby being mentally active with this question? Hard to tell.

  5. "(a) No individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex."

    This excerpt is almost identical to Bouie's "quote". What is Somerby quibbling about when he pretends that Bouie has somehow deviated from what the law says? He presents Bouie as wrong, then gives us a quote from the law (which he complains was not linked to) that is virtually identical to what Bouie said was in the law (it is not a quote unless it is enclosed in quote marks or set off from text, and attributed to another source than the author).

    It is Somerby's opinion that the law is not crazy or weird (better words would be vague, difficult to apply to classroom situations). Others do not feel that way, and it is not wrong of Bouie to raise that point, as he does.

    Somerby might be drawing on his experience as a teacher, but he taught middle school math and elementary school in a far different time, one that was more welcoming to civil rights issues than today's repressive climate in FL. So, on what basis does Somerby say this is not problematic wording?

  6. "It remains true today now that she's servicing Us."

    Somerby knows that the word servicing will have a sexual connotation when talking about a woman, but he goes there anyway. He doesn't seem to be able to resist crudeness when discussing a woman he dislikes. (Rachel stuffed money down her pants.)

    And looky how Somerby includes himself among Us. By making that claim, he makes it doubly clear that Wallace is not saying anything that appeals to him (and thus is clearly not servicing him) but how can he know whether she appeals to any of the rest of Us, we liberals? He doesn't know that. He asserts it because he wants to criticize both Wallace and liberals, and that is easier to do by lumping us all together. Even though Wallace is not expressing any nonexistent blue tribal line, nor is she a tribune of liberals or an official spokesperson for blue tribe cable news (another Somerby fiction). She is just one pundit expressing her own opinion -- she doesn't speak for Us, much less any "Us" that would include Somerby.

    1. When you say blue tribe cable new is another Somerby fiction, are you denying that CNN/MSNBC content is uniformly favorable to the Democratic Party and critical of Republicans?

    2. Yes I am denying that. Examples were provided a few days ago. Go back and read them.

    3. CNN changed its programming recently and is now a lot more right wing than it was.

    4. Yes Hector, and the fact that you think to the contrary and are blind to reality is only a mark against you.

      Routinely on “new media” - mostly YouTube channels - CNN, NY Times etc is called out for pandering to Republicans, to the Right. Leftists have no use for corporate media.

      Somerby is not interested in fixing corporate media, you’re just a fanboy getting played; Somerby is a right winger, looking for a sense of dominance.

      There’s a “Hector” born every minute.

    5. I'll keep these answers in mind next time I watch an MSNBC panel speculate for the umpteenth time on Trump's legal fate.

      And it isn't Hectors that are born every minute, it's anonymice.

    6. Or the umpteenth time they cover Clinton’s blowjobs, or Gore’s lying problem, Hunter’s laptop, Hillary’s emails, etc. Or the umpteenth time they reinforce capitalism, competition, meritocracy, hierarchy, etc. which is the main of their focus. Or the umpteenth time they uncritically air Republican talking points.

      One major difference that whiffs over your head - Trump is actually corrupt, actually committing crimes and corruption, actually resulted in hundreds of thousands of death due to his incompetence and undying drive for dominance.

      The chasm between how you view your own moronic takes (you’re so proud of yourself, it’s hilarious I suppose, if it weren’t so damaging to our society), and reality is more immense than the Grand Canyon, they had to come up with a phrase, it’s called the Dunning Kruger Effect.

    7. So if I understand your argument, it's that blue cable news is pro-capitalism, pro-competition, pro-meritocracy, and pro-hierarchy. And these stances put them at odds with the Democratic Party, thus establishing their independence from said Party.

      I can see how you speak so knowledgably about the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    8. I can't imagine why MSNBC would have panels discussing trump's multiple legal woes. What do you think, hector?

    9. You didn't disappoint me. You inferred from the fact of Trump's indictment that no amount of speculation about that indictment could have been excessive.

      Well done.

    10. Hector, no, you did misunderstand, your reading comprehension is terrible. Go back and keep working at it, it’s not cryptic or subtle.

      Don’t pull the Dunning Kruger card while embodying the very concept yourself, it’s a bad look.

    11. You do disappoint me though, apparently you are unaware that should a corporate media entity decide to endlessly speculate on the consequences of corrupt members of our society, that’s their right, perfectly reasonable, beautifully proper.

      If there’s harm done at all, it’s to right wingers, you want to cry about that, fair enough, more power to you, but you’ll get no sympathy from the adults in the room.

    12. Hey Hector. I wrote that at 2:13 PM, hours before news of the indictment was reported anywhere.

      You really aren't very bright, are you?

  7. How did Somerby happen to show Forbidden Village to his 5th grade class, and to what end? Was it part of the curriculum at his school? What topic was being taught that was illustrated by that film? If he didn't anticipate the reaction of his own 5th graders, what judgment informed selecting that particular film to show them? Common Sense Media did not exist in that time period.

    If Somerby made a bad choice in his own teaching past, does that necessarily mean that a current teacher was wrong to show a Disney film about a child during Black History month? Somerby suggests some innocuous reasons why a parent might have objected, but does he know that any of those reasons actually guided the complaint? Of course not. And when you consider what might have been the most likely reason, together with whatever the parent actually said while complaining, it eliminates Somerby's alternatives.

    Everyone who has ever been a school child knows that teachers show lengthy films when they are substitutes or ill-equipped to discuss a topic themselves (so they let the film do it), or when they wish to spark ideas among kids while discussing a topic (given kids some shared facts to work from). As a film lover, I wouldn't show only part of a film to a class without letting them see how it ended. That is cruel, given that they will likely have difficulty finding the film on their own. The length of this film is average for a kid's movie. What matters more is whether it kept their attention. As a teacher I would stop a film that wasn't holding the attention of the class, or perhaps stop and then restart it after asking some questions to direct their attention to parts that were relevant to my lesson plan.

    When Somerby first mentioned showing Forbidden Village to his students awhile back, I wondered whether he even had lesson plans (especially ones approved by a supervisor) during his teaching stint in Baltimore. It seemed like far worse judgment and abuse of class time than anything this particular teacher did by showing the Ruby Bridges film during Black History Month, a time set aside to focus on BLACK HISTORY.

  8. Nicolle Wallace is inherently demagogic, but not because of her race and sex. She, as an individual, is inherently demagogic.

  9. "Instead, it was rated PG, meaning it "may contain some material parents might not like for their young children."

    Racial issues fit completely within such a warning. It is hard for white parents to tell their white kids that white adults did mean things to black people, including black children, for no good reason.

    Disney knows that. It is why they would put such a warning on such a film. There are many Disney children's films with difficult content that were released before the current rating system. Snow White's stepmother tries to have her killed. Bambi's mother is shot and dies in front of Bambi's eyes, by hunters. A wildfire nearly kills beloved forest critters. Old Yeller gets rabies and has to be put down. Cinderella is treated cruelly and bullied by her sisters, neglected and abused by modern standards.

    They hypocrisy of Somerby's delicacy over protecting parents from race-related questions from their kids, then suggesting it is for other reasons, should be obvious to all here. If you don't support civil rights, you condone the atrocities that are so embarrassing to tell your kids about. You are complicit. And that is as much true today, with things like the Unite the Right march in which a racist white supremacist killed a protester, as with any past action.

  10. The second amendment is evil.

    1. Dude, you think slaves were going to be kept in line just with whips? Cmon bro

  11. Sounds like it should be called “The Silly
    and Defensive White Person’s Act.”

    Is any overreach from the left demagogic?
    Maybe. When they are linked to holding
    a baseball bat to a DA’s head, wake
    me up. Oops, I forgot, that’s “disordered.”

  12. Mao Zedong’s granddaughter is worth eight hundred million dollars.

  13. "... and it was at this very time that a rare and peculiar butt wind was hereby produced."

    - Fanny Longfahrt, circa 1998

  14. Here is what Charles Blow says after watching the film:

    "All of this was endured by a Black first grader, but now a Florida parent worries that it’s too much for second graders to hear, see and learn about.

    Furthermore, of all the ways Ruby’s story could have been portrayed, the Disney version is the most generous, including developed story lines for Ruby’s white teacher and the white psychiatrist who treated her. And in the end, another white teacher and a white student come around to some form of acceptance.

    The movie is what you’d expect: a lamentable story about a deplorable chapter in our history, earnestly told, with some of the sharpest edges blunted, making it easier for children to absorb.

    But in Florida, the point isn’t the protection of children but the deceiving of them. It’s to fight so-called woke indoctrination with a historical whitewash."

    I agree with Blow. If black parents must have "the talk" with their kids to explain to them about white racism and how to stay out of trouble, then white parents should have a talk with their kids about injustice and prejudice and how to treat others with fairness and kindness. Those are not bad lessons for white parents to teach their kids.

    Why is Somerby (and his ilk) so resistant to that kind of teaching, whether it occurs at home or at school?