We need to learn to see ourselves!


To see our own conduct more clearly: You're right! We continue to lead with an unconventional theme, based on this improbable bromide:

Everything We Ever Needed to Know We Could Have Learned from Reading The Iliad

As we explained last week, this bromide is patterned on Robert Fulghum's big best-seller from 1988, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. 

That gentleman learned from kindergarten. We'll go with an ancient poem of war. Our basic view is this:

We Americans—we citizens of Blue America as well as Red—badly need to step outside our current political context to see ourselves (and our behaviors) as we and they actually are. The madnesses of our present state can all be found in that ancient text—and Book Nine, The Embassy to Achilles, is one of the poem's most compelling.

At one point, Agamemnon, lord of men, confesses that he has been gripped by a type of madness for the previous nine years. At present, we see madnesses wherever we look on the American political and journalistic stage—and no, these madnesses are not confined to the obvious nutcases and flyweights who are floating around in some of the major leadership cadres of our current Red America.

As a minor aside, some episodes in The Iliad seem to be torn right from our own modern history. When Odysseus and Ajax beg Achilles to return to the field of battle in the endless siege against Troy, this is what the rage-filled warrior tells them. He's speaking of the blow to his honor occasioned by Agamemnon at the start of the poem:

And the swift runner Achilles answered warmly,
"Ajax. royal son of Telarnon. captain of armies,
all well said, after my own heart. or mostly so.
But my heart still heaves with rage
whenever I call to mind that arrogance of his
how he mortified me, right in front of the Argives

that son of Atreus treating me like some vagabond,
like some outcast stripped of all my rights."

One thinks of the way President Obama famously mocked Donald J. Trump at the 2011 Correspondents Dinner. 

In a series of inexcusable appearances on the Fox News Channel, Trump had begun establishing himself as king of the birthers. Obama humiliated him from the stage that night. For Frontline's treatment of the incident, you can just click here.

(CNN Business asked this question: "Was this the night Trump decided to run?")

Trump decided to run for the White House that night, or so some readers of the flight of birds have suggested or maintained. We don't know if that really happened. If so, the incident in question didn't turn out real well from the perspective of Blue America.

That isn't the sort of event from which we can draw the greatest improvement in self-awareness. But Trump was mortified "right in front of all the Argives," like the rage-filled, sulking Achilles thousands of years before him.

Our tribe's many smaller behaviors have had many other effects. Can we blues ever learn to see ourselves more clearly? 

In many ways, Red America's leadership cadres often behave as if they're out of their minds. How well have Blue America's cadres been functioning over here? 

Do we sometimes create a world where the even the most furious Reds—even the ranting Mark Levins—can't help being somewhat, even basically, right? We'll be exploring such questions this very week.

We need to see ourselves more clearly. Are some of our madnesses on dim display right there in that ancient war poem?


  1. If I sacked Cecelia’s hometown, I’d put her in charge of my household staff, but her daughter would become my personal servant.

    1. I would trade Cecelia for a tripod.

    2. Anonymouse 3:05pm, we’d kill you with a song in our hearts. The only thing they might find is your scandals.

  2. New York City will defend Mayor Adams against a sexual harassment lawsuit.


  3. Talk about crazy, this entry of Bob's is pretty f'ing crazy. So now Obama is at fault for our ongoing MAGA nightmare. And he (and we) needs to self-correct (we need to "see ourselves") because he pushed back on a monstrous lie using jokes during an event where such jokes are exactly what EVERYone does. Roasting public figure has become the main feature of the event. Even if we assume that this is when Trump made the decision to run, how about we blame Trump for not being able to take a fucking joke at what essentially has become a venue for roasting public figures? How about we blame Trump and his supporters for our ongoing national nightmare, for the damage he has done and is promising to do? Obama did nothing more than roast a public figure at an event that is all about roasting public figures. Importantly, he did so after Trump had gone around spreading a monstrous lie about Obama. And of course, no one, NO ONE ever could have foreseen that a cartoonishly ignorant conman like Trump would win the Republican nomination, let alone get help from Russia and Comey to squeak out an electoral college win (while losing the popular vote by nearly 3 mil). To suggest that we and Obama need to do some introspection and self-correct because of this is just downright silly. Here's a guess: Bob got out over his skis when he decided to compare current events to the Iliad. And in an attempt to defend the decision, it has led him to this ridiculous place.

    1. Not to mention the fact that the main parallel Bob has been drawing with the Iliad is one tribe at war with another tribe. But the public humiliation he's trying to draw a parallel to happens between members of the same tribe. So it doesn't exactly synch up with the situation involving Obama and Trump.

      I still love you, Bob. Even if you occasionally jump a shark. :)

    2. Bob always jumps the shark these days.

    3. help from Russia and Comey - huh. Little from Hillary too, maybe that's part of the point.

    4. 7:09,
      The media pretending they cared that Republicans were pretending they cared about Hillary's email protocols also played a part.


  4. "Trump decided to run for the White House that night, or so some readers of the flight of birds have suggested or maintained."

    Perhaps you've been reading so much Homer that your mentality metamorphized into some pre-Enlightenment state, where history is explained by heroic and villainous pursuits of Heroes and Villains. Or perhaps this is a normal liberal state of mind?

    There've been some developments, you know, in the course of the last few hundred years. Materialistic, systemic analyses. Political economy, relations of production, geopolitics, class interests. You may want to familiarize yourself with these modern theories, Bob.

    1. From accounts I've heard, Trump went through a decision process concerning running against Obama. That makes it unlikely that he decided to run for president because of Obama's remarks well into his second term. Current accounts that consider Trump's grooming by the Russians suggest he began pursuing public exposure in service of a campaign shortly after marrying Ivana and being assigned to Russian handlers. His candidacy makes no sense without the Russian element.

  5. In many cases, lowered standards for one President or election has led to a permanent lowering of standards.
    -- Reagan taught us that it's OK to be divorced, after Rockefeller was defeated because of his divorce. Reagan's divorse set the stage for Trump.
    -- Richard Nixon taught us that a crook could be President, setting the stage for Clinton, Trump and Biden
    -- Reagan ( late in his second term) taught us that a President could suffer from dementia, setting the stage for 2 current candidates, either of whom has a good chance of dementia while in office
    -- Clinton taught us that a President could be liar, setting the stage for Trump and Biden
    -- Clinton taught us that a President could unfaithful, setting stage for Trump
    -- Obama taught us that a President doesn't need experience, setting stage for Trump.

    So, today, it's within the bounds of acceptability to elect a President who's crooked, a liar, divorced, unfaithful to his/her spouse, inexperienced, and demented. :(

    1. It is short-sighted to attribute changes of standards to public opinion or standards when it is the willingness of party organizations, donors, machines and endorsers who also matter in who is selected as a party's standard-bearer.

      For example, Clinton did not set the stage for Trump because (1) his Lewinsky scandal happened after he had already been elected to his second term, so it wasn't about public opinion at all, and (2) there is no evidence that Trump's behavior is acceptable to voters, in fact, women have abandoned him almost entirely in favor of Biden, because of his mistreatment of women in general and his scandals, and (3) the Stormy Daniels trial has not yet begun and we do not know what impact it will have on Trump's poll numbers, and (4) Nikki Haley's ability to pull votes from Trump despite not being on the ballot any more shows that her appeal to decency concerning treatment of women is having an effect that can be measured.

      David's contention that Obama had no experience is ridiculous (he was a multi-term state legislator, US senator, community activist and constitutional professor of law with two published books before running for the presidency).

      David doesn't appear able to consider history objectively without coloring it with his right wing propaganda and his own lies.

    2. Tell us, Dickhead in Cal, which President taught us that it's OK to be a treasonous lying sack of shit miserable coward insurrectionist?

    3. In David's defense, its Trump's bigotry, not the fact that Trump is a rapist, that turns David on.

  6. The movement toward making Americans unequal.

    Of course, our country never had perfect equality, but that used to be our ideal goal. Yet, our government and our culture is more and more pushing people to be different and unequal. Examples:
    -- Government definition of 5 ethnic groups
    -- Disabled people (based on however the government defines "disabled") who therefore receive certain benefits.
    -- Selected college loan debtors who get their debt forgiven
    -- Here in CA selected businesses that have to pay a $20 minimum wage
    -- Affirmative action and DEI, giving special benefits to whatever ethnic groups are chosen by the government.
    -- A disturbing one to me -- Jewish religion matters more as antisemitism is increasing.
    -- Illegal immigrant status. For some bizarre reason, illegal immigrants get a number of benefits not given to legal immigrants or legal residents.
    -- the push for Slavery Reparations

    1. What are we to make of the increased output of troll posts by David in Cal recently? Is all this stuff now coming from the same guy or have a couple of support trolls been added to use his name here? Are they all in the same style as before or is there a new approach on display? I think yes to the latter.

      Lately, he has been the main right wing presence but he isn't that prolific a guy over the years. So, clearly whoever runs these guys has ramped up their pre-election trolling effort.

    2. Yeah, ain't it annoying? He imbibes a bunch of garbage talking points from right-wing sources, and then comes on here and repeats them. Potentially misleading readers. Push back. Often and emphatically.

    3. OTOH, Trump's contempt for clowns, like David in Cal, is the only thing Presidential about him.

  7. Kevin Drum writes:

    "Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, says:

    'Axios has a story up, headlined, “Trump, GOP plot 2025 criminal probe of Bidens.” I generally favor leaving former presidents alone, but, as I’ve noted before, it’s hard to see how one side can violate this norm and not expect the precedent to be turned against it.'


    I mean, put aside all the other cases and just consider the classified documents case. It's open and shut. It's not that Trump took some documents when he left office, it's the fact that he repeatedly and persistently refused to give them back even after being ordered to. There's a "norm" that ex-presidents don't do that. What possible choice did Jack Smith have except to charge Trump?

    The E. Jean Carroll case had nothing to do with Democrats and was decided unanimously by a jury of 12. The business fraud case was likewise a state trial that had nothing to do with Democrats and will ultimately be decided on appeal. And the Georgia case—well, we'll see what happens with that. But the probability of criminal conduct on Trump's part is pretty strong. In the end, a jury will decide.

    As for the January 6 case, it's based on the "norm" that presidents not incite riots at the Capitol in order to prevent Congress from certifying election results they don't like. Here's what Lowry had to say about it at the time:

    The rioters themselves bear ultimate responsibility for their acts, but Trump egged them on. He fed them poisonous lies about the election.... He encouraged them to come to Washington and said they wouldn’t stand for his “landslide” victory getting taken away.... He whipped them up on Wednesday...and urged them to march on the Capitol... When the mob overwhelmed security and made its way on the Senate and House floors, sending Vice President Pence and lawmakers fleeing, Trump tweeted about how he’d been wronged by Pence’s entirely correct view that he lacks the power as vice president to unilaterally declare him the victor.

    This is what Trump is on trial for.

    Needless to say, the difference with the Bidens is that Hunter is already being tried and Joe hasn't done anything wrong. I realize that's a technicality in Republican-land, but for the rest of us it's a pretty big difference." https://jabberwocking.com/national-review-editor-biden-should-fully-expect-to-be-criminally-tried-if-trump-wins/

    Not to mention that Biden isn't directing any of this. Biden isn't just getting revenge on political opponents, like Trump is promising to do. And Trump's four indictments have come from separate, independent grand juries in four different states. "Grand Jury: A grand jury is a group of citizens who are legally empowered to investigate potential criminal activity and decide whether to bring criminal charges. Grand juries can subpoena evidence or people to testify. They are made up of 16–23 people who usually serve up to 18 months, but can serve up to 24 months with a judge's extension. Grand juries focus on preliminary criminal matters and assess evidence from the prosecutor to determine if there is probable cause to believe an individual committed a crime and should be tried. If the grand jury finds enough evidence, they issue an indictment against the individual."

    1. Mike L. wrote: "I mean, put aside all the other cases and just consider the classified documents case [against Trump}. It's open and shut."

      I agree. It's also open and shut against Biden, although Trump did it worse and more flagrantly.

    2. Biden didn't do the same things as Trump. Even the investigator said so.

    3. Biden had classified material in his home. That's a crime. To his credit he returned it as soon as the problem was pointed out.

    4. President Biden was the one who pointed it out, you fucking magat treasonous bastared lying sack of shit dickhead in cal. I guess you didn't listen to the republican special counsel when he testified in congress and listed the numerous differences between what orange chickenshit did and what President Biden did, right dickhead. Just trolling today, dickhead?

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. did 6:34 PM read the post

    8. Biden immediately returned the documents and cooperated with the investigation. Every time I start to respect David he tells another lie.

    9. There is no real comparison between what Trump did and what Biden did. As soon as Biden became aware that there were some classified documents at his home, he immediately let it be known and returned them. Compare this to Trump: on his way OUT OF OFFICE, as he was returning to civilian life, he gathered up many, many boxes of government documents, some containing our most sensitive national security information, and took them with him. When government officials became aware of the situation, they asked him to return the documents. And Trump jerked them around for months, lying, hiding the documents, turning some over and saying that was all of them but then moving the remaining boxes in an attempt to hide them. Night and day difference between the two situations. And all during his trials, Trump has verbally attacked everyone involved, which as he knows puts them and their families at risk of harassment, threats, and attacks from his most rabid supporters (which is part of the reason he does it.) When issued a gag order, he violates it. Biden had nothing to do with the various lawsuits brought against Trump. It was simply the wheels of justice turning (much too slowly). Whereas Trump is explicitly saying out loud that he is going to corrupt the justice department and turn it into a weapon to get revenge on his political opponents.

    10. Mike - I agree that there is no real comparison between what Trump did and what Biden did. Nevertheless, Biden did have classified documents in his home, and that was breaking the law.

    11. I'm not sure about that. Apparently you have to "willfully" retain such documents for it to be a crime: "Special counsel Robert Hur concluded in his report that the evidence investigators uncovered falls short of 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt' that Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials." https://www.npr.org/2024/02/09/1230333392/biden-classified-documents-highlights

    12. Robert Hur was hired as Special counsel to find the proof of Biden's crimes. The wanking motion Hur gave is as close as he got.

    13. ...there is no real comparison between what Trump did and what Biden did.

      So why bring it up in the first place, dickhead?

  8. If Obama's mocking was the catalyst for Trump's run, we can say that Obama caused the long-overdue overturning of Roe v Wade.