Enemy watch: Post's Glenn Kessler returns to Tuzla!

MONDAY, MAY 23, 2016

Bring back the Soviet Union:
We're on our way back to our sprawling campus, with full services to resume tomorrow.

In the meantime, maybe it's time to bring back the Soviet Union. This thought came to mind as we read Glenn Kessler's new Washington Post Fact-Checker report, "Recalling Hillary Clinton’s claim of ‘landing under sniper fire’ in Bosnia."

Kessler's report starts off like this. We'll highlight two points which "bring the eternal note of sadness in:"
KESSLER (5/23/16): One of our all-time great fact checks was The Fact Checker’s March 21, 2008, report on Hillary Clinton’s false claim that she arrived in Bosnia “under sniper fire.” The article, written by our former colleague Michael Dobbs, was quickly followed by CBS News, PolitiFact and others—and ultimately became a defining moment in the 2008 campaign for the former first lady. The incident even earns a mention in a recent attack ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Readers constantly ask us about Clinton’s Bosnia tale, and ask whether we will fact check it. As noted, The Fact Checker did so eight years ago. But the original version now appears on the web in very small type, so here it is again. We have also included new material on what happened next.
Sad. Kessler is revisiting a misstatement by Candidate Clinton from 2008. Despite the fact that the misstatement in question is eight years old, he reports that "readers constantly ask about" it.

He reprints the Post's original fact-check of this eight-year old event. Weirdly, he refers to that original piece as "one of our all-time great fact checks."

We see here the ancient human need to construct and oppose a vile, fiendish enemy figure. At one time, the Soviet Union played that role for us in this country. In the process, the Soviet Union brought us together, as Nixon was once asked to do.

Since the loss of that external enemy, various players in various camps have been busily constructing internal enemies. (We'd include the mainstream press corps as one of these camps.) In this case, one camp is constantly asking poor Kessler to remind them of how vile this particular enemy is.

This is a form of mental illness. Increasingly, it defines our political/journalistic culture.

For today, we'll recommend that you read the "Aftermath" section of Kessler's post, in which he quotes the way Ambassador Christopher Hill recalled the Tuzla event in his book from 2014. Hill's account of what happened that day adds background and context to Clinton's misstatement, which she made in 2008.

Mainly, though, we'll recommend that you weep and quake about our human need to construct The Other. The need for demons has come to define our political culture. Incomparably, therefore, we ask you again:

Is it possibly time to bring back the Soviet Union?

UPDATE: We've received a thoughtful phone call on this subject on our movie star hot line, which carries an unlisted number.

The telephonic communication came from an audibly angry Al Pacino. "This whole post-Cold War arrangement is out of order," the furious movie star said.


BREAKING: Einstein gets made even easier!

SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2016

Hawking talks down to the rubes:
We're in an undisclosed location in the New York countryside, marveling at the journalistic issues raised by Ashley Parker's front-page report in the New York Times.

Perhaps we'll discuss that on Monday. For today, we'll issue our latest "beige alert" about the latest pseudo-attempt by PBS to make Einstein easy.

We refer to the new six-episode series, Genius by Stephen Hawking. The series debuted last Wednesday night. Has anyone ever been willing to con the public to the extent that Hawking was willing to do in its ridiculous Episode 1?

(We say "its" rather than "his" because we assume the series was mainly conceived and written by people other than Hawking.)

At any rate, Einstein-made-easy is a century-old con. It has never been executed in a more ridiculous fashion.

At some point in the next few weeks, we'll probably discuss this new series in some detail. But to see the extent to which PBS is willing to treat its viewers like fools, we'll suggest that you watch minutes 15-20 in the opening episode of this series, entitled "Can We Time Travel?"

Warning! You'll be observing the ruminations of three "ordinary people" "volunteers." At times, these "volunteers" seem suspiciously like budding actors working from a fairly obvious script. Three different "volunteers" will be featured in each of this program's six episodes.

(The attractive young female volunteer in Episode 1 is Education & Outreach Coordinator at La Jolla (Calif.) Playhouse, although PBS seems to working to keep you from knowing who these various "volunteers" are. In each of the first two episodes, one of the "volunteers" is a conventionally-attractive youngish woman. Presumably, this was a total coincidence, not a standard, cynical TV marketing ploy.)

What will you see in minutes 15-20? We'll only say this: That passage is so utterly incoherent that it makes Nova's incoherent hour-long broadcast last November seem like something out of the original Encyclopedia Brittanica.

As many critics have noted, this new PBS series is a type of reality TV. It also seems to be dumb as a rock. So is that front-page report in the Times.

Alas! As Kevin Drum has relentlessly noted, we were all exposed to too much lead in the last century. As we've often noted, the material rewards have become much too big for those in the news and broadcast industries. Also for certain professors!

Possible result? Go ahead! Look at minutes 15-20 of that ridiculous opening episode! Or just read today's front-page report in the cowardly, play-it-safe Times.

UPDATE: We've received an angry telephonic communication from Al Pacino concerning the brand new PBS series.

"That whole series is out of order," the irate angry movie star said.


BREAKING: A mission of national import!

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2016

No fish today:
We're off on a mission of national import. We'll do no posting today.

We recommend that you spend twelve minutes watching that sad Morning Joe tape. See yesterday's post.

If you prefer "What, us worry?" tales, we'll recommend this instead, from Slate:

"Trump Leads Clinton in a New General Election Poll. You Still Don’t Have to Worry."

We liberals! When it comes to matters like these, we never seem to be fully alive until we're asleep in the woods.