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Daily Howler: Keith the Plumber helps us enter the world of the pseudo-lib tribe
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KEITH AND JANEANE’S TRIBAL VENTURE! Keith the Plumber helps us enter the world of the pseudo-lib tribe: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2009

One cheer for the Times: For at least two weeks, dispute about the stimulus package has revolved around the issue of expanded unemployment benefits. This was a central topic on last Sunday’s talk shows, for example—even though the money involved represents less than one percent of the total stimulus package.

This morning, the New York Times finally offered a news report on this seminal topic. (As far as we know, the Washington Post has attempted no such report.) But then, your mainstream press corps doesn’t do policy, as we’ve noted in the past. And when they do, they tend to do it badly. Sadly, we can muster only one cheer for this morning’s report.

What’s wrong with the Times report, penned by Michael Luo? (Headline: “Jobless Angry At Possibility Of Losing Out On Benefits”) What’s wrong is Luo’s focus. As that headline indicates, he focuses on the anger felt by unemployed people in certain states—states which may refuse some of the federal funds offered in the stimulus package. But Luo makes little attempt to explain the policy disputes which lie at the heart of this case.

Angry citizens are liberally quoted. But the governors who may reject these funds are quoted only once. Complaints about this part of the stimulus package were widely expressed on last Sunday’s shows. But this passage represents Luo’s total attempt to explain this much-bruited dispute:

LUO (2/27/09): “I remain opposed to using these funds to expand existing government programs, burdening the state with ongoing expenditures long after the funding has dried up,” [Texas governor Rick] Perry wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama last week.

The governors contend that once the federal money ran out, they would have to continue providing the new benefits, which they say would force them to raise taxes on businesses. The federal money will end in two or three years in some states, or much later in others, depending on the size of the state allocation.

Proponents say that nothing would prevent states from changing the laws back at that time.

That’s it. In the rest of Luo’s report, he focuses on the anger of workers who may not get benefits. (For the record, none of them would have been eligible for unemployment compensation in their states in the past.) That’s a legitimate story, too. But Luo makes almost no attempt to sort through the underlying policy dispute, which seems to be somewhat complex. Here, for example, is some of what was said on Sunday’s Meet the Press. David Gregory spoke with Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, the pseudo-liberal world’s new version of Dan Quayle:

GREGORY (2/22/09): Let's focus on this: Why would you turn down $100 million for federal unemployment assistance for your state?

JINDAL: Let's look at the programs we turned down. You're talking about temporary federal money that would require permanent change in state law.

GREGORY: It's a tax break.

JINDAL: Well, it's—no. The $100 million we turned down was temporary federal dollars that would require us to change our unemployment laws. That would have actually raised taxes on Louisiana businesses. We, as a state, would have been responsible for paying for those benefits after the federal money disappeared.

GREGORY: The Democratic senator from Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, says you're wrong. This is how it was reported in the Times Picayune Saturday: “Senator Landrieu disputed the governor's interpretation and said the new unemployment benefits are designed to be temporary. ‘The bill is an emergency measure designed to provide extra help during these extraordinarily tough times,’ Landrieu said. 'To characterize this provision as a tax increase on Louisiana businesses is inaccurate.'" Her point being, you could insert a sunset clause when this has to go away, but it would certainly be beneficial at a time when you're in economic stress.

JINDAL: That's great, except the federal law, if you actually read the bill—and I know it's 1,000 pages, and I know they got it, you know, at midnight, or hours before they vote on it. If you actually read the bill, there is one problem with that. The word "permanent" is in the bill. It requires the state to make a “permanent” change in our law.

Law B, our employer group, agrees with me. They say, Yes, this will result in increasing taxes on our businesses, this will result in a permanent obligation on the state of Louisiana. It would be like spending a dollar to get a dime. Why would we take temporary federal dollars if we're going to end up having a permanent program?

And here’s the problem. So many of these things that are called "temporary" programs end up being permanent government programs, but this one is crystal clear, black-and-white, letter of law—the federal stimulus bill says it has to be a permanent change in state law if you take this money. And so within three years, the federal money is gone. We've got now a permanent change in our laws. We have to pay for it.

Who’s more right about this particular matter, Jindal or Landrieu? We think you’d be nuts to put blind faith in either one. But we ourselves have no idea. You see, we read the Post and the Times.

In part, this is a policy dispute about the appropriate reach of unemployment compensation. On Fox News Sunday, dueling Republican governors adopted different stances on this matter. South Carolina’s Mark Sanford said this: “We can't pay for the benefits already in the [South Carolina unemployment] program, but to get the stimulus money, we've got to increase the program's size and scale.” Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty had a different focus: “In the unemployment area...most of the enhancements that the federal government is requiring the states to undertake on this bill we did years ago. So it doesn't impinge us or hurt us in that regard in Minnesota.” In part, this represents a cultural difference between richer and poorer states; in part, Minnesotans can more easily provide such benefits than their barefoot southern cousins. But if we read Tuesday’s New York Times editorial correctly, only 19 states are fully eligible, at the present time, for the stimulus plan’s unemployment money. The majority of states will have to have to change their existing laws to qualify for all the dough.

The guidelines in the stimulus package may represent desirable policy (to the extent that a state can afford them). But if we read that editorial correctly, most states have not adopted all these guidelines in the past. Despite such facts, the editors quickly adopted a tired old stance; they instantly turned this dispute into a jeremiad about motives and character—one in which their own motives and their own character turn out to be near-divine. Sadly, this editorial board’s work has grown more dim since Andrew Rosenthal replaced Gail Collins at its head. This instant approach is remarkably dim—but it’s also quite typical:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (2/24/09): Imagine yourself jobless and struggling to feed your family while the governor of your state threatens to reject tens of millions of dollars in federal aid earmarked for the unemployed. That is precisely what is happening in poverty-ridden states like Louisiana and Mississippi where Republican governors are threatening to turn away federal aid rather than expand access to unemployment insurance programs in ways that many other states did a long time ago.

What makes these bad decisions worse is that they are little more than political posturing by rising Republican stars, like Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. This behavior reinforces the disturbing conclusion that the Republican Party seems more interested in ideological warfare than in working on policies that get the country back on track.

Typical—and rather pathetic. Before the editors make any attempt to explain this dispute, they turn your attention directly to motive, telling you that Jindal and Sanford are engaged in “little more than political posturing!” And by the way: Would you realize, from that opening paragraph, that those “many other states” are, in reality, less than half the total? Again: If we read this editorial correctly, only 19 states are currently eligible for all the unemployment money in the stimulus package. It seems to us that you’re getting played right in that opening paragraph.

The Times is certainly free to judge that the new provisions required by the stimulus package represent positive changes. But it’s very typical—and very stupid—to start by trashing the motives of those who may not agree with that view. (And again: Most states have not adopted all those provisions, left on their own. Their brilliance can’t be self-evident.) But then, this is the upper-end mainstream press—and the mainstream press corps doesn’t do policy. The press is good at composing one-sided novels built around themes of motive and character. But, alas, it’s very weak when it comes to the boredom of policy. Typically, they will state which policy they prefer—then name-call those who differ. That’s just what the Times has done here.

One final point. Don’t underestimate the extent to which this reflects a key component of High Manhattan Pseudo-Liberalism. High Manhattan Pseudo-Liberals love looking some on those southern white crackers. It’s a very typical part of New York Times editorial writing. Did it affect the corps’ treatment of Clinton and Gore? Rubes, please! Of course it did!

In Fools for Scandal, Gene Lyons described the sneering disdain the mainstream press corps brought to Arkansas at the start of the Clinton era. But then, Fools for Scandal is the book on which the “career liberal” world took a pass.

For the past several weeks, we’ve been hoping to see a report on the unemployment dispute. Luo’s attempt is very weak. One cheer today for the great New York Times! The Post still hasn’t bothered.

Breslin and Rich knew crackers: The northern press corps, Yankee and Irish, is often driven by condescension toward those rube southern whites. Remember the astounding piece in which Jimmy Breslin dismissed Candidate Gore as a typical southern bigot? (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/2/08.) It’s hard to get much dumber than that. But We Irish try.

Then there was the king, Frank Rich, still trashing Gore—to the brilliant Don Imus—even after Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, hit theaters in 2006! (“It’s like at the high end of those ‘good-for-you’ movies that you used to have to watch in high school,” this consummate idiot said.) Needless to say, Rich could see that this insincere film was just a clever tool in Gore’s upcoming run for the White House. Looking back today, we had to laugh at this stupid remark, offered live on the air to the pisspitiful Imus:

RICH (6/1/06): It seems to me that it was in part a campaign film and I find it odd—it got all these great reviews where people just sort of ignored this part of it and just talked about what they wanted to be the main part, which is important, which is climate change and all that...

Good God. He found it odd that reviewers had focused on the climate change stuff! We won’t even attempt to capture how cosmically stupid that was. But Rich had always gone after Gore for his troubling southern ways. During Campaign 2000, he invented controversies in which Gore was said to be pimping that troublesome old-time religion. And in his Times column about Gore’s film, he wailed and moaned about the way Gore mentioned the rifle he had owned, as a child, on his family’s Tennessee farm. Rich’s analysis? In this fleeting comment, “we are reminded that Mr. Gore is not a rigid blue-state N.R.A. foe.” Once again, Rich could tell that Gore had making this fleeting remark to serve his political image.

It’s hard to get much dumber than that, but Frankly, Rich frequently tries. And yes—his tortured obsession with guns and religion did reflect High Manhattan Regional Condescension. People! Why did reviewers stress climate change when they could have railed at the fact that Gore, as a child, owned a gun?

KEITH AND JANEANE’S TRIBAL VENTURE: This may have been the dumbest two weeks we’ve seen in eleven years at this post. It’s also the week in which the pseudo-liberal world made an important announcement. Officially, we’re just as dumb as the other tribe has always been! Or, to phrase it another way: We all have bright blue scrotums now!

We’ll return to those bright blue parts at the end of this post. But first, let’s consider last evening’s unwatchable Countdown.

Could last night’s program have been any dumber? But first, to help us answer that question, let’s consider a bit of reaction to Bill Kristol’s op-ed piece.

Kristol’s piece appeared in yesterday’s Post. Predictable yelping quickly occurred because the vile fellow said this:

KRISTOL (2/26/09): [Conservatives and Republicans] should do their best not to permit Obama to rush his agenda through this year. They can't allow Obama to make of 2009 what Franklin Roosevelt made of 1933 or Johnson of 1965. Slow down the policy train. Insist on a real and lengthy debate. Conservatives can't win politically right now. But they can raise doubts, they can point out other issues that we can't ignore (especially in national security and foreign policy), they can pick other fights—and they can try in any way possible to break Obama's momentum.

When we read Kristol’s column, we thought two things. First: We wished that liberals and Democrats had taken this advice in 2001 and 2002. Second: We felt fairly sure that pseudo-liberals would howl about Kristol’s bad character. And sure enough! Jonathan Chait was soon complaining about Kristol’s “disingenuous” ways.

Before proceeding, let’s say it again: We wish Democrats had gone after Bush in this way. How about you—do you agree? Because one of Chait’s commenters did:

COMMENTER 1: Kristol's comments are predictable, and not particularly offensive.

Predictable because opposition parties, by definition, tend to oppose the agenda of the majority.

Not particularly offensive because presumably Kristol feels that doing nothing is better for the country than doing what Obama wants to do.

While I disagree with Kristol, his current strategy is quite similar to the Democrats approach to Bush's push for privatization of Social Security (i.e. push back all you can).

Duh. We agreed with every word. But another Chait reader felt deep outrage at these troubling remarks:

COMMENTER 2: nathang said: "While I disagree with Kristol, his current strategy is quite similar to the Democrats approach to Bush's push for privatization of Social Security (i.e. push back all you can)."

Really? Do you truly believe that there's no difference between a principled opposition to putting our retirements in the hands of the same bunch that blew up the economy, and the current Republican strategy, so aptly Kristollized here, as nothing more than a naked ploy to prevent the Obama plan from succeeding, to the detriment of Republican political interests?

And there you see the bright blue essence of human tribal thinking, dating back to the antique days when we first crawled out on the land. To Commenter 2, it was automatic! His tribe was driven by “principled opposition.” The other tribe was engaged in “nothing more than a naked ploy,” driven by “political interests.” By definition, our tribe is high-minded. The other tribe is not.

There you see the tribal instinct which drives the human race. A commenter tried to push back:

COMMENTER 3: I am with Nathang on his appraisal. Honestly, imagine if you were a Republican, how would you act nowadays? What, really, is the best option for the Republican party moving forward? They can't pass anything and are relegated to either rolling over, obstructionism, or working on splitting the difference. For them to roll over would be wrong on so many levels, so that leaves 2 and 3. So far they have been pretty successful at doing number 3, while looking like they are doing number 2 to the base. We all agree the stimulus package was too small, but it is big enough for the Republicans to rail against it, meanwhile they got enough Republicans (3) to load it up with exactly what they wanted.

Poor fool! He’d asked the members of his tribe to imagine belonging to the other! And in th world of tribal striving, suggestions like that must not stand! Another reader expressed the “thinking” now seen all through pseudo-lib land:

COMMENTER 4: But the Democrats pushed back on Social Security on principle. W. Kristol's advice is totally cynical and Machiavellian.

When my tribe acts, it does so on principle. Their tribe is cynical, the commenter cynically said.

To what extent is Kristol sincere in his political beliefs? Here at THE HOWLER, we have no idea. (We’ve chatted with him once or twice.) But quite miraculously, others do know—and they’ve acted on their brilliant certainty all through the past several weeks.

They said that Shelby made treasonous comments—although they weren’t sure what he’d said. (Olbermann opened with this Monday night.)

They promoted the claim that Bobby Jindal had lied—although their attempts at “analysis” were so pitifully weak that we politely averted our eyes. (Olbermann opened with this Wednesday night. At Politico, they just keep bungling this topic forward. , read the ongoing updates.)

They said that John Gibson had pimped that blue scrotum—and they covered up hard for The Huffington Post. But first, let’s look at what they did on the brainless show Countdown last night.

In his first two segments, Olbermann did what he now considers “hard news.” His first segment focused on Joe the Plumber; in his second segment, Robert Reich was allowed to pimp the brilliance of Obama’s new budget. Signing off, his host said this:

OLBERMANN (2/26/09): Robert Reich, the former Clinton labor secretary, author of Supercapitalism. As always, sir, I end up thinking I know a little something on this topic whenever we talk. Thank you for that.

REICH: Thanks, Keith. Bye.

OLBERMANN: This is Bonnie the orangutan. Bonnie has taught herself how to do something we thought only humans knew how to teach themselves to do...

Keith thanked Reich for all his insight—and then, it was on to a talented ape! But then, you’re seldom far from absolute nonsense as Countdown continues its downward spiral. And Olbermann topped even himself with the tribal follies that followed.

Try to forget his closing segment. It was spent with comedian Aisha Tyler, who had been brought on the program to ridicule Bobby Jindal. Tyler seems like a very pleasant person—but she has about as much business limning politics as we have running the space shuttle program. Soon, Olbermann was asking Tyler about Jindal and Kenneth the Page:

OLBERMANN (2/26/09): NBC pages are real people who work in this building. And many of them go on to successful careers. They work like heck. Ted Koppel was a page. Regis Philbin was a page. When you compare Governor Jindal to Kenneth, not only is that—is that not just an insult to Kenneth, but actually an insult to the pages, those hard-working pages here?

TYLER: To the fraternal order of all hard-working pages, it’s an insult to Gomer Pyle, for example. It’s an insult to Bubba Gump. He was definitely delivering that kind of—the party rebuttal is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. It was just unbelievable. I half expected him to bust out finger puppets and be like, “This is bunny tax cuts and this is evil stimulus package snake. He wants to bite bunny tax cut. Bad snake.”

You’d almost think that it would be hard to get much dumber than that. But Olbermann had already spent his entire third segment with another comedian, Janeane Garofalo. Garofalo had been asked to discuss Rush Limbaugh’s 37 percent approval rate among women. And while Garofalo’s segment was stunningly foolish, it was also so instructive that we’re going to post it in full, even though it was gruesomely long.

Basic background: Tribal thinking has driven the race since the race crawled out on the land. Our tribe’s the good tribe and their tribe is bad! Long ago, such tribal instincts were tied to survival. Today, though, such reptilian instincts are, on the whole, dead-dog dumb. But weak-minded people love to think it: We are the very good tribe; their tribe is really quite evil. We wouldn’t know how to edit this mess—but this is the pseudo-liberal brain on reptile-grade dumb. Bright blue scrotums to follow:

OLBERMANN: Joining me now to revel in the fun is comedienne, actress and activist Janeane Garofalo. It’s good to see you.

GAROFALO: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN: So then, I’m going to see if I can do this with a straight face. What must Rush Limbaugh do to attract women?

GAROFALO: I want to say a couple things first. 37 percent is a shockingly high percentage of—I’m shocked by that. Secondly, this transcends gender. He is an unappealing person. The problems with Rush Limbaugh, as we were discussing during the break, it would take a neuro-scientist and a behavioral psychologist to sort that out. But failing that, let’s you and I discuss.

He is a narcissist who also struggles with self-loathing. That’s clear. That’s his prime mover. That’s the issue. He pretends it is politics. But there is something very, very wrong with Rush Limbaugh.

OLBERMANN: Agreed.

GAROFALO: He knows this. Most other, quote/unquote, “Republicans or conservatives” don’t have self-awareness. I think he does. He really dislikes himself. And the type of people that respond to his message have a whole bunch of other problems, too.

But he’s—I think he’s trying to get women, I think he is trying to meet somebody right now. This whole charade that we are going through—and we are even giving it too much credit discussing it. But I think he would like to meet a nice lady right now.

OLBERMANN: Your 24 and formerly Larry Sanders Show colleague is no longer in the picture?

GAROFALO: Mary Lynn Rajskub. I think she actually just thought it would be funny to learn more about him. She said that he did suffer from low self-esteem. That was her impression of him.

OLBERMANN: It seems like that’s a long way to go to find that information out.

GAROFALO: I don’t think they really did go on a date or something. But you see, Mary Lynn is too nice. She’s very easy-going and very affable. I think she just wanted to be nice to him. She felt sorry for him. She is more kind than I.

OLBERMANN: We will move it away from the personal here to this question: As I said, your easy, check your own sanity at home test is, “What do people think of me?” And we all get it wrong to some degree. But if you have categorized women as basically feminazis, castrators, babes, the hot or the unattractive—those are the only groups—and you wonder perhaps why women might not be responding to you more than 37 percent approval, how could you get it that wrong? Or is he just making that whole part of it up too?

GAROFALO: Well I think he is just, you know, throwing enough you-know-what against the wall to see what sticks. Somebody is going to respond to him. But the type of female that does like Rush is the same type of women that falls in love with prisoners, like Richard Ramirez or Squeaky Fromme. Good example, Charles Manson. Eva Braun, Hitler’s girlfriend! That is exactly the type of woman that responds really well to Rush. There will be some Eva Brauns out there that will respond really well to this cattle call right now, or to this clarion call—is that the right word?—he’s putting out there.

OLBERMANN: He is trying to get a date.

GAROFALO: He is trying to get a date. And lucky for him, he is wealthy. He is wealthy enough that someone—he dated Campbell Brown, did he not? Is that wrong? Some CNN woman.

OLBERMANN: No, no, it was Daryn Kagan, the old sportscaster who worked in the morning studio.

GAROFALO: That female? She had a name like that, Campbell, Daryn—

OLBERMANN: Daryn—Daryn Kagan.

GAROFALO: She dated him. So either she suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, like Michael Steele, the black guy in the Republican party who suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, which means you try to curry favor with the oppressor.

OLBERMANN: Yes. Talk about self-loathing.

GAROFALO: Yes. Any female or person of color in the Republican party is struggling with Stockholm Syndrome. That’s a whole other issue. We don’t have time! Let’s go back to Rush Limbaugh.

OLBERMANN: And Mark Sanford. Is there some hopeful thing in here, that even in code, he is criticizing Limbaugh? He is saying that anybody who says he hopes the president fails is an idiot?

GAROFALO: Well, if Rush were open to that kind of criticism, which I think he likes—like I said, he is a narcissist, he enjoys his name being bandied about, no matter what context. Rush Limbaugh, of course, is an idiot. That has nothing to do with what he just said. He—his reason for being is sort of to air out his laundry-list of problems that make him an idiot. Does that make sense, or have I started babbling now at this point? Because I get so, I get so hepped-up over this.

OLBERMANN: I think I know what you mean by it. But why is he causing all of us to suffer along with him?

GAROFALO: He is a misanthrope, right? He is a hater of humanity and also a hater of himself. Now why we all have to get dragged into this is one of the great questions. And also he brought up Freud. Freud has been debunked about his “what women want” thing years and years ago. He really needs to get more contemporary in his references about what women want.

OLBERMANN: Although that represents a very liberal extreme of Rush’s set of references.

GAROFALO: Freud?

OLBERMANN: The idea that there is something to psychotherapy and that there might be some way you can improve the brain without just smoking cigars constantly.

GAROFALO: Like I said, Rush Limbaugh will go to his grave unfixed. Human frailty—let’s go with human frailty. It is human frailty that makes it be a conservative. You know what I mean? Whoever the person is, and this transcends gender and skin color, people that cleave unto the conservative message or to the modern-day Republican party, there is something wrong with them. That is what makes them go—

Have you ever heard the phrase, the Constitution follows the flag? Wherever the American flag flies, the manifestations of the Constitution follows. OK. Wherever the jerk is, the manifestations of conservativism follow. Does that make sense?

OLBERMANN: John Dean wrote about this. It is not conservatism anymore. It is authoritarianism.

GAROFALO: Oh, not at all! It is authoritarian message and people that follow the authoritarian message. It is the unrestrained id. It is whatever is wrong with us. It is whatever the flaws in the human being. And I’m a narcissist that suffers with self-loathing. But I prefer to channel my issues into a much more positive direction.

So I do identify with Rush on the level of narcissism and self-loathing combined. But I am a far, a far better person than he is. And I don’t say that with arrogance. I say that because it’s fact, it’s scientific fact.

OLBERMANN: Thank goodness it is. Janeane Garofalo, political activist, currently of 24. Thanks, Janeane.

GAROFALO: Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN: Thanks for being a better person.

You can watch the tape of this cosmic inanity at the Countdown site (just click here). But there you see, in a way we could never invent, the essence of tribal, reptilian thinking. We’ll only say this: Quite plainly, Garofalo wasn’t joking. It’s fairly clear that she really believes the various things she said:

Most Republicans or conservatives don’t have self-awareness.

Any female or person of color in the Republican party is struggling with Stockholm Syndrome.

It is human frailty that makes [someone] be a conservative.

Whoever the person is...people that cleave unto the conservative message or to the modern-day Republican party, there is something wrong with them.

I’m a far better person than [Limbaugh] is. I say that because it’s fact, it’s scientific fact.

It would be hard to imagine a better example of tribal thinking. Over and over, Garofalo said it, sometimes in English: “People that cleave unto the conservative message or to the modern-day Republican party, there is something wrong with them.” And of course, some readers will agree with that. To the extent that we think that way, we are Olbermann’s “target audience.” He is paid $5 million per year to attract our eyes to a screen.

But then, Olbermann is now running the rubes in truly remarkable ways. Just this week, he led Monday’s program with that report about Shelby—although he simply didn’t know what Shelby had actually said. He led Wednesday’s program with accusations that Jindal had lied—although he plainly didn’t know if that was accurate either. Last night, he asked a nutcase to ramble, at length, about the psyches of millions of fellow citizens. Then, he turned to Aisha Tylerl she proceeded to dumb you ceaselessly down, talking about Gomer Pyle.

We’ll only say this: This is what the other side did, all throughout the 1990s. They invented endless tales about the ways the deeply vile Clinton and Gore had lied. If the facts weren’t there, they invented some facts. When required to fake it, they did. Like Pogo, we’ve now met the enemy. But there are two differences now:

First, Republicans created distractions and lies about “character” because the public prefers Democratic positions on most major issues. (Has done so since the rise of Clinton.) Republicans change the subject for tactical reasons. We do it because we’re so honkingly dumb—because we enjoy the stupidity.

But the second difference is even more striking. Obama fans play these tribal games even though they contradict the essence of Obama! From that very first speech in 2004, Obama has risen by telling the world that we aren’t two different red and blue nations. Hacks like Olbermann rush on the air to challenge the gentleman’s essence.

It’s hard—very hard—to be as stupid as Olbermann and Garofalo were last night. (We’d like to think the lady was drunk, but she seemed quite lucid. Keith plays the fool every night.) By the way, note to Janeane: Following you on last night’s show, the very pleasant Tyler said this. Because it made so little sense, the question seemed to be planned:

OLBERMANN: Now, considering what I’ve seen covering the Republican party intensely for these last six years, Aisha, that [speech by Jindal] was the most clear-headed presentation that could be made on their behalf. Have you now or have you ever been a member of the Republican party? And would you consider running for president on their ticket?

TYLER: Ha ha ha! Well, I think I could bring a little bit of that hot factor that they clearly—I mean, I can rock a leather jacket like the next Alaskan governor. I have not ever been a Republican. I do have two relatives in my family that are Republican delegates, and even they jumped off of that ship, like flailing rats on a sinking vessel, at the end of this last election. I don’t know. You know, it would be nice to be a rock star. But anybody can be a rock star when the rest of the room is wearing helmets and drooling on themselves.

OLBERMANN: Finger puppets, you may have just given—if Michael Steele calls you, you know what happened.

TYLER: This is Big Government Piggy!

Huh! Tyler, who’s black, has two Republican delegates in her family. Luckily, Garofalo had already explained their psychiatric derangement. Tyler’s kin are mentally ill, “struggling with Stockholm Syndrome.”

What did Tyler think of that? Olbermann, a highly-paid gong-show host, knew that he mustn’t ask.

About that bright blue scrotum: This morning, we finally got the total dope about the “bright blue scrotum” flap. The very capable David Zurawik penned the report in the Baltimore Sun. The nonsense began right here in Baltimore, at WBAL-TV. For years, we did humorous morning news reports on the radio side.

You won’t hear much about this story on the “liberal” web.

Long story short: The Huffington Post made a rather foolish mistake, driven in part by tribal belief. (They got conned into posting an accusation against Fox’s John Gibson—an accusation which was wholly inaccurate.) But then, Kewl Kid tribalism has come to rule large parts of the pseudo-liberal world. For the most instructive part of this story, just look at this post by Steve Benen.

Benen’s main idea is clear: The error, made by The Huffington Post, was really John Gibson’s fault. This is standard tribal thinking, of course: If my tribe did something wrong to your tribe, then surely your tribe made us do it! But what’s the funniest thing in Benen’s post? Note how hard he worked to avoid saying who actually made the mistake! “There was an unfortunate incident this week,” he began—but he forgot to say that this “unfortunate incident” involved The Huffington Post! Gibson “was justifiably furious,” Benen said, “and those who'd published the story ran retractions and apologies.” But once again, he forgot to say who had published the story! Who had been forced to run that retraction? Benen forgot to say!

There’s a word for that: Piss-pitiful. But the pseudo-liberal world is now run by just this type of fellow. Arianna is very big—and these fellows want in on the action.

Fellows like this will kill your nation’s soul. Their type ran and hid in the 1990s, when power was aiming its bogus tales at Big Major Dems. Now that power is running the other way, the bold fellows want to help. Olbermann’s conduct this week was familiar. In the 90s, this kind of conduct was constantly aimed at Big Dems.

By the way, here’s part of what a lady gave us back in those bad old days:

HUFFINGTON (2/6/00): In fact, not only this campaign but Mr. Gore's entire career has been laden with untruths—all demonstrating a pattern of serial abuse of language, truth and reality.

He invented the Internet, discovered Love Canal and was the inspiration for "Love Story.” He lives on a farm, was "always pro-choice" and claimed that, "unlike Sen. Bradley," he had co-sponsored the original McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill—even though Mr. Feingold was not elected to the Senate until Mr. Gore had already left to become vice president.

In fact, Gore always was pro-choice, although Bradley and his Clinton-loathing pals worked very hard to spin different. And no, Gore hadn’t claimed that he lived on a farm. But so what? In those days, power loathed the Clintons, and power therefore turned against Gore. Arianna was aligned with power, just as she’s aligned now.

The previous fall, it had been even dumber. Everyone had been mocking Gore’s deeply disturbing three-button suits—so Arianna sewed on a fourth button! His clothing isn’t very American, this high-minded liberal star said:

HUFFINGTON (11/9/99): Frankly, what is fascinating is the way [Gore] is now dressing makes a lot of people feel disconnected from him. And there was this marvelous story in one of the New Hampshire papers saying, Nobody here in Hanover wears tan suits with blue shirts and buttons all four buttons. It's just not the way Americans dress.

Thank the lord for “marvelous stories,” of the kind Olbermann pimps.

The tribe’s inanity doesn’t change; the targets of its inanity have. And Benen seemed to understand how tribal loyalty works. The Huffington Post made a foolish mistake, as everyone does at some point in time. But Benen forgot to mention its name! Hey rubes! Have you even heard?

What will Professor Black do? This “analysis” by Duncan Black was wrong. You see, he used preliminary, day-before listings; such listings are frequently wrong/incomplete. Anyone would know to avoid this—but Professor Black seems to enjoy running rubes. Professor Black was wrong last week. What will Professor Black do?

Accurate count? Nine Reps, nine Dems. Of those 18 spots, twelve went to people who supported the stimulus plan. (Three of the 9 Rep spots went to Crist/Schwarzenegger.)