MADNESS: Levin went off the rails again!


"I'm Crazy," Patsy Cline said: A hint of the crazy was floating around during the late Ross Perot's 1992 White House campaign.

Some people thought Perot was a little bit nuts to launch such a run in the first place. But one month before the July 1992 Democratic Convention, Candidate Perot was running substantially ahead of Candidate Bush and Candidate Clinton in at least two major national polls:

Reuters on the Gallup poll: Perot led a Gallup Poll five months before the election with 39 percent, compared to 31 percent for incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush and 25 percent for Democrat Bill Clinton..

E.J. Dionne on the Washington Post / ABC News poll: In a three-way race, Perot...was the choice of 36 percent of registered voters to 30 percent for Bush and 26 percent for Clinton, who has clinched the Democratic nomination. Among likely voters, Perot rises to 38 percent, while the percentages for Bush and Clinton stay the same. 

Perot seemed to have taken a lead! Then, on the eve of the Dem Convention, small hints of madness-adjacent behavior may perhaps have arrived on the scene.

The leading authority remembers—and yes, this actually happened:

On July 15, [co-campaign manager] Ed Rollins resigned after Perot fired advertisement specialist Hal Riney, who had worked with Rollins on the Reagan campaign. Rollins would later claim that a member of the campaign accused him of being a Bush plant with ties to the Central Intelligence Agency. Amid the chaos, Perot's support fell to 20%. 

The next day, Perot announced on Larry King Live that he would not seek the presidency. He explained that he did not want the House of Representatives to decide the election if the result caused the electoral college to be split. Perot eventually stated the reason was that he received threats that digitally altered photographs would be released by the Bush campaign to sabotage his daughter's wedding. 

Yes, he actually said that! The Bush campaign was going to sabotage his daughter's wedding, so he had to get out of the race.

If memory serves, there was another, even odder claim made at this time. But at this point, front-runner Perot stepped aside.

Eventually, Perot got back into the race. He ended up receiving a remarkable 19% of the national vote.

Still and all, right at the end, the official reference to crazy appeared. On the eve of Election Day, he seemed to adopt something resembling a campaign theme song.

Headline included, straight from the Washington Post


DALLAS, NOV. 2—Only a few days ago, Ross Perot had predicted a last-minute surprise, and today he delivered. "I found the theme song for our campaign," Perot told supporters here halfway into his standard stump speech. "And here it comes."

With that cue, a Dixieland band hired to warm up the crowd suddenly started playing. "We're crazy," crooned the band leader, improvising on the famous Patsy Cline song "Crazy." Perot signaled to his youngest daughter, Katherine, and, as his supporters roared with laughter and applause, led her dancing about the stage.

It was, in short, not your usual election-eve political rally. The crowd was disappointingly small, only about 4,000 people in Dallas's 19,000-capacity Reunion Arena. But after spending $60 million of his own money on an often strange and unconventional quest for the presidency, Perot today was clearly determined to have a good time.

After finishing his 45-minute speech and predicting he would "landslide this thing" to victory, Perot danced again. He sang, belting out the words to "America the Beautiful." He shouted requests to the band. Embracing with relish attacks leveled by the White House, Perot shouted: "We're all crazy again now! . . . Don't worry folks. We got buses lined up outside to take you back to the insane asylum after all this is over!"

Ross Perot was a giant high achiever in his long, eventful life. For the record, he had started his 1992 campaign by comparing the national debt to "the crazy aunt you keep down in the basement."

That reference to the national debt as a "crazy aunt" garnered a fair amount of attention and served as comedy gold. That said, time doesn't permit a rumination today on that.

(At the time, the national debt stood at a relatively meager "$4 trillion and rising." In the wake of President Clinton's first term, the annual budget came into balance and the nation actually ran surpluses for four straight fiscal years.)

Having established this bit of background, let's return to the theme song the candidate ironically semi-adopted:

Man [sic] is the rational animal, we've long been told, at least here in the West. 

Sometimes, the ancient claim, as understood, is almost pretty much true. We humans are capable of building extremely tall buildings and inventing reliable technologies. But we aren't always especially good at pretty much anything else. 

The claim that we're the rational animal is commonly tracked to Aristotle. Centuries earlier, a mighty leader of the Achaeans (the Argives; the Greeks) had copped to a form of madness.

We refer to Agamemnon, lord of men, commander of the Achaean forces in the endless, largely mythical, long, deranged siege of Troy. 

Alas! After almost ten years of combat, the tide of war had turned against the lord of men and his forces. We've posted this part of what the lord of men now said, during a tear-drenched night-time council, quite a few times of late:

Lord marshal Agamemnon rose up in their midst,
streaming tears like a dark spring running down
some desolate rock face, its shaded currents flowing.
So, with a deep groan, the king addressed his armies:
"Friends, lords of the Argives, all my captains!
Cronus' son has entangled me in madness,
blinding ruin.
But now, I see, he only plotted brutal treachery..."

Needless to say, Cronus' son was Zeus himself! Modern experts largely agree that no such god even existed.

That said, Agamemnon believed that Zeus was in control of the world. He also believed that he himself—the king of the Argives—had been deliberately "entangled in madness" by that greatest god's earlier conduct.

According to sources, tears were streaming down his face as the lord of men confessed to nine years of madness. As he continued, he made a suggestion which must have seemed like an additional type of madness within the context of the time:

"But now, I see, he only plotted brutal treachery;
now he commands me back to Argos in disgrace,
whole regiments of my men destroyed in battle.
So it must please his overweening heart, who knows?
Father Zeus has lopped the crowns of a thousand cities,
true, and Zeus will lop still more-his power is too great.
So come, follow my orders. Obey me, all you Argives.
Cut and run!
Sail home to the fatherland we love!
We'll never take the broad streets of Troy."

Was it madness when Agamemnon decided to stage a siege of Troy, or was this an act of madness? The lord of men was telling his troops their siege of Troy would never succeed—that they should cut and run.

As it turned out, this prediction was mistaken. At any rate, this passage comes from Book Nine of The Iliad, within which brilliant story-telling follows.  

Eventually, Nestor the noble charioteer challenges the recommendation of his putative king. Odysseus is sent to reason with Achilles, whose own bout of madness has created the Argives' predicament. 

Agamemnon has stolen the woman Achilles had taken as his sexual slave. In response to this insult to honor, Achilles has retreated to his tents in a rage, saying he would fight no more forever.

Odysseus is sent to reason with this greatest warrior. Achilles would be given enormous gifts in the hope that would beat back his rage and return to the fight.

The Fagles translation describes the start of the embassy:

"Ajax and Odysseus made their way at once where the battle lines of breakers crash and drag, praying hard to the god who moves and shakes the earth that they might bring the proud heart of Achilles round with speed and ease." 

To us, they sound like modern men. When they arrive at Achilles' tents, they find this familiar ridiculous scene:

Reaching the Myrmidon shelters and their ships,
they found him there. delighting his heart now,
plucking strong and clear on the fine lyre
beautifully carved, its silver bridge set firm—
he won from the spoils when he razed Eetion's city.
Achilles was lifting his spirits with it now,
singing the famous deeds of fighting heroes.

Across from him Patroclus sat alone, in silence,
waiting for Aeacus' son to finish with his song.

As he sits sulking in his tents, Achilles is delighting himself, lifting his spirits by singing the famous songs of fighting men. Offered a giant set of gifts if he would only  return to the war, he's overtaken again by his rage.

Once again, Achilles refuses to return to the battle. The Achaeans' deadly military problem thereby lingers on.

A lot of madness is on display in this ancient poem of war. Is man [sic] really the rational animal? If so, that may not have happened yet.

This week, we're going to start to explore a basic question:

To what extent might well-disguised forms of madness be driving our various American populations, even now, at this time of political war? 

Last night, on Fox, it happened again! On his weekly Sunday night broadcast, Mark Levin started off as shown below, right at 8 p.m. Eastern:

LEVIN (4/7/24): Hello America, I'm  Mark Levin, and this is Life, Liberty and Levin Sunday. 

We have two great guests tonight—we have Pete Hegseth and Brent Bozell—but before we get to our friends, I want to pick up where I left off last night and really dig deeply with you. 

I hope you're sitting down. This is a tale of two democracies, the United States and Israel, and one man who is seeking to destroy both of them. 

I know he has a praetorian guard media to protect him and attack anybody who challenges him.  But Joe Biden is a very diabolical, evil politician who is trying to imprison Donald Trump and clear the political playing field for his re-election...

Joe Biden is at war with two democracies, our country and Israel, and I'm going to prove it.

As we noted yesterday, Levin had spent the first seventeen minutes of Saturday's program declaring that President Biden and those around him aren't just wrong but are "evil."

Last night, he spent the first seventeen minutes on the same theme, adding the term "diabolical" and childishly thinking that there is some possible way a person can "prove": some such assessment.

Again, Levin declaimed for seventeen minutes. When he introduced his first guest at 8:21, he restated his basic theme:

LEVIN: So Pete [Hegseth], you heard my monologue as I understand it. And my intention—

My position is, Joe Biden is an evil man. He's always been an evil man.

He started out supporting the Confederates of the Old South and segregation and racism and opposed public school integration. He will ride any wave to retain power so he's trying to put Donald Trump in prison...

He keeps threatening that Donald Trump is a threat to democracy. No, it is Joe Biden who is destroying our republic and destroying Israel's democracy. 

It's a twofer for him. So what do you think of that?

Finally permitted to speak, Hegseth rose to the challenge. "I agree completely, Mark," he instantly said. "A phenomenal set-up."

In this temple to true belief, the basic theme was abundantly clear. It was No Scintilla of Possible Nuance or Doubt Left Behind! 

As we noted yesterday, this sort of analytical work once led an observer to opine that Levin is in the grip of "a penchant for hysteria." 

Others might see this type of presentation as a form of something resembling madness—might see this as an ancient, atavistic construct, in the grip of which no large modern nation can possibly hope to achieve serious goals or move forward in some constructive way.

Has Mark Levin, like that ancient lord of men, been caught in the grip of a madness? More generally, is it possible that various forms of "madness" still dog our allegedly "rational" species—that we humans are occasionally still perhaps a bit crazy, even after all these years?

To what extent do aspects of the crazy perhaps appear within our modern-day national discourse—perhaps as Hegseth and his Fox & Friends Weekend co-hosts denounce those with whom they disagree as Communists, Marxists and pagans?

As they do so without ever interviewing any of the people in question? Without interviewing anyone who shares such views?  

Without ever giving any such people a chance to explain the source of their views? Without ever breaking out of the box created by the practice of "segregation by viewpoint," in which fallible people speak to the like-minded and the equally crazy and to nobody else?

Can a large modern nation really function this way? Or is it possible that this is a lingering form of a basic human madness? A madness hard-wired by human evolution, though perhaps not induced by Zeus himself?

Agamemnon lord of men said he'd been gripped by a madness. Decades later, Ross Perot, tongue in cheek, adopted Crazy as a type of theme song.

Is it something like crazy when people like Levin are turned loose on the Fox News Channel? Having posed that question today, we'll explore a few other question s this week. We'll even bring the eternal note of sadness in, questioning our own blue tribe:

Is it something like a type of madness when people like Levin behave this way and the highest news orgs in Blue America avert their gaze—when this sort of conduct occurs without any mention or notice?

Also this:

Is it possible that our own blue tribe is occasionally caught in the grip of some affirmative types of "madness?" Are there players within our blue orb whose impulses lead off the path of constructive discourse within a democracy, even such as our actually is?

Is it possible that forms of madness infest our own blue tribe too, in something like the way they may infest the red? Is it possible that Levin has actually touched on some such actual problems within our blue world, even as he has ranted and railed the past two nights, in the manner which got his crowned as the lord of those with a penchant for hysteria?

Do elements of madness still exist within us blue denizens too? We'll start to explore such questions this week. Remember, this is all anthropology now—anthropology all the way down. 

Agamemnon confessed to a madness. Are we sometimes and occasionally perhaps dogged by madnesses too?

Tomorrow: Did the gang on Fox & Friends Weekend get something partially right?


  1. Albert Heath has died.

    1. Anne Innis Dagg and John Sinclair have died.

    2. Somerby’s integrity has died.

    3. Happy trails, Al.

  2. The word crazy is being overused by Somerby (and others). In actual media criticism, Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog argues:

    "Also, I don't understand why Pfeiffer calls this calculated attack "insane." Trump is trying something that, in his estimation, worked before for him. This might be a misreading of the 2024 electorate, but it's not crazy. (I know that many liberals want to play "I know you are, but what am I?" in response to right-wing misinformation about President Biden's mental state, but most of the preposterous things Trump says can be explained as products of either his ignorance or his assessment that the rubes will respond to preposterous rhetoric.)

    And if Trump is insane for saying that Biden might be taking cocaine, then so are many, many right-wing commentators, as Media Matters noted in a compilation of tweets published while the State of the Union address was taking place:"

    "If we have a problem, it's that the mainstream press and the Democratic Party didn't adequately raise an alarm about the use of disinformation by the GOP and its media allies decades ago. These people got away with claiming that Michael Dukakis's wife burned an American flag in 1988. In the 1990s, they got away with accusing Bill Clinton of drug-running and multiple murders. They got away with accusing John Kerry of winning three Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War under false pretenses, and claiming that Barack Obama lied about his birthplace, his religion, his college career, the identity of his father, and so on.

    In retrospect, it's clear that the routine weaponization of anti-Democratic disinformation by the GOP and its media allies has done terrible damage to American democracy. We should have begun describing this as a serious problem decades ago. Instead, we've treated the GOP as a responsible governing partner, and treated Fox News as a responsible media outlet that deserves its prominent place on the cable dial and in the White House briefing room.

    It might be too late to raise suspicions about Republicans or Fox now. We normalized their dangerous behavior a long time ago."

    And the same for Somerby.


  3. "Has Mark Levin, like that ancient lord of men, been caught in the grip of a madness? "

    That's one explanation. But about this alternative explanation: a whole bunch of people are sick and tired of the corrupt political class?

    You know, like in that movie (remember?): "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna to take this anymore!"

    1. 12:10 your alternative does not follow logically, as the Republican Party has been captured by some of the most corrupt people in the world.

      Levin is a grifter, monetizing his ability to motivate right wing voters.

    2. If they are, they are not the president, are they? Their faces aren't on tv every day, trying to read nauseating alien-reptilian crap off a teleprompter.

    3. I support Trump because I oppose misogyny.

    4. a whole bunch of people are sick and tired of the corrupt political class?


      Levin's entire career has been to serve one particularly and distinctly corrupt political party.

      Beginning in 1981, Levin worked in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Levin began at ACTION, the federal agency that oversaw VISTA and other volunteer agencies, before serving as deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the U.S. Department of Education and deputy solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior. He ultimately became chief of staff to Attorney General Edwin Meese.[17]

      After leaving the Reagan administration, Levin practiced law in the private sector. In 1991, Levin joined public interest law firm Landmark Legal Foundation.[18][19][20][21] At Landmark, Levin served as director of legal policy and the foundation's Washington-based Center for Civil Rights before becoming president in 1997.[22][23][24] Under Levin's presidency, Landmark Legal filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission in 2000 alleging that the National Education Association, the largest teachers' union in the U.S., did not disclose spending on political activity in Internal Revenue Service documentation.[25] Landmark Legal also filed similar complaints with the United States Department of Labor in 2002 regarding NEA and political activity; by 2006, the NEA and smaller American Federation of Teachers had filed new documents with the Labor Department revealing over $100 million combined in political action spending.[26]

      Following Freedom of Information Act requests in August 2012 of documents that would show if Environmental Protection Agency officials sought to delay regulations until after the 2012 presidential election, federal judge Royce Lamberth ruled in 2015 that although Landmark Legal did not establish that the EPA acted in bad faith, the EPA either carelessly or intentionally neglected Landmark's FOIA request.[27] Lamberth previously ruled in 2013 that the EPA might have attempted to evade Landmark's FOIA request.[28]

      In 2001, the American Conservative Union awarded Levin its Ronald Reagan Award for his work with Landmark Legal.[29][30] Politico reported in 2014 that Levin received a salary of more than $300,000 per year as president of the non-profit Landmark Legal Foundation, whose donors include the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and ExxonMobil.[31] In 2018, Levin stepped down as president of Landmark Legal but remained on its board of directors.[32]

    5. It's the message, not the messenger. Mr. Levin can be a devil with horns and hooves, but if the message resonates, it's fine.

    6. Weirdo Mao rails incessantly against so-called state media, oligarchs, "corporatist" this and that, and the corrupt political class. Meanwhile he supports Trump, an utterly corrupt billionaire conman and reality TV personality, who is the very embodiment of everything Mao rails against. Trump wants ACTUAL state media - a media that will only say positive things about him. He wants to use the government of the people to enrich him, his family, and his cronies. Etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum.

    7. Donald Trump broadcasts the same message. The message resonates with the masses.

      DNC bots are attacking the messengers. Fine. We'll see how this plays out.

    8. Dear dim-bot: if the messengers are the very embodiment of the corruption and dishonesty referred to in the message, and that message "resonates" with you, then if you're going to be consistent you should oppose the messengers. Instead you're supporting them and want to hand them power.

      Additionally, regarding that "message," it's just as corrupt and dishonest as the messengers. One example out of literally dozens: Some of Trump's rallies begin with the massive lie about the 2020 election being stolen and how the people convicted of crimes for attacking the capitol and the capitol are "hostages." And this is coming from someone who actually tried multiple ways to steal the election, as documented in this Frontline documentary:

    9. I understand Levin's message very well. He wants the rubes to buy his next book telling us how Democrats are evil commie heathens.

    10. Typo correction: "...convicted of crimes for attacking the capitol and the capitol POLICE"

  4. Reminder that Christians voting for a rapist to be the President of the United States is completely on-brand.

  5. Levin implied that the Confederacy was evil.

  6. More chicanery from Trump:

  7. Kevin Drum endorses Donald Trump:

  8. Today Somerby gropes around in the dark, looking for something to cling to that might help reinforce his muddled and inaccurate notions about electoral politics and human nature.

    It’s just embarrassing at this point.

  9. One thing is clear, our modern nation won’t survive well without identifying terrible people engaging in destructive behavior, figuring out their root cause, and how to limit the damage they do. (Story-telling is often used as a tool to normalize, endorse, or distract from this destructive behavior; that’s clever, maybe, but not brilliant.)

    Good on Somerby for identifying Levin as a terrible person…were it genuine; unfortunately, Somerby is rather obvious in using Levin as a way to scold the blue tribe.

    Somerby, as he presents himself, is not rational; he’s an emotional wreck.

  10. It's interesting Brent Bozell turns up on Levin's show.
    Brent's Son, in his late thirties, was busted as one of the
    Jan 6 rioters, a very serious one who led the way. He was
    supposed to be sentenced in January but I haven't heard
    a thing about it since he was found guilty.
    Perot was central to long held crackpot nonsense that
    American POW's were being held in Vietnam years after the
    end of the war. The press treated this garbage with much respect, it was critical in the Rambo era. It was McCain who finally had to put a start to it, and the loony fringe (then not the whole Republican Party) never forgave him for it.

  11. This morning I asked a tennis crony about his politics, which he had never revealed. He said if Trump won there would never be another election. Trump would become a dictator. I said that was an opinion. He said No, it was a fact

    My point is that crazy is widespread

    1. sure, let's roll the dice, Dickhead in Cal. Let's see if he could pull it off this time. go fuck yourself, cretin

    2. How do you know Trump won’t shut elections down?

    3. It certainly is not a fact. A fact, as an example, is that Trump did try to subvert legitimate election results and install himself for an unelected term. Does this sound like a fact?

  12. Comments illustrate Howler's points.

  13. Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr has died.