Stupid Political Pundits Being Stupid

Sometimes I sitll miss the great Media Whores Online, 2000-2004, one of the early leftie political blogs that mercilessly skewered stupidly political punditry. Because heaven knows we still have a lot of stupid political punditry.

Take Chris Cillizza at CNN. Please. Today he parses something Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) said and called her out for handing a “gift to Republicans.” The gift? Rep. Bush told an interviewer that she is paying for private security because of threats to her life (among other things, she was singled out and stalked by Marjorie Taylor Greene, which put a target on her back), and she also called for defunding the police and putting the money into more social services.

Tsk tsk, says Cillizza. But let’s look closer.

Yes, Missouri is a very Red state. But Bush’s district (all of the city of St. Louis and most of northern St. Louis County, which includes Ferguson) has been a safe Democratic House district for years. In fact, Missouri’s 1st Congressional District hasn’t elected a Republican since 1946. Bush won in 2020 with 78.7 percent of the vote. She won the primary against a long-serving and generally well liked Black male incumbent (Lacy Clay, in the House from 2001 to 2021) because she associated herself with Black Lives Matter as well as “defund the police,” and he didn’t. So, first off, that district is no more going to elect some Trumpy Republican next year than it’s going to fly off to Australia.

Even if Bush’s seat is safe, Cillizza says, next year Republicans might try to use some of Bush’s words to bash other Democratic candidates. But Missouri Republicans don’t need Cori Bush for that. They can just make shit up or go through the corrupt secretary of state or attorney general to initiate phoney investigations into Democratic candidates and use that to smear them.

Rep. Cori Bush — Don’t listen to Cillizza. You be you. It’s what your constituents want. And see also With Capitol Sit-In, Cori Bush Galvanized a Progressive Revolt Over Evictions. In brief, Rep. Bush played a big role in nudging the Biden Administration to extend the eviction moratorium this week.

Also this week, progressive and Bernie Sanders associate Nina Turner lost a congressional primary in Cleveland to Shontel Brown, who’d been endorsed by Hillary Clinton. The race was labeled a “proxy war” between the progressive and establishment wings of the Democratic Party. As soon as Turner conceded all manner of pundits celebrated the comeuppance of Turner.  Nina Turner’s loss in Ohio means Biden doesn’t need to keep caving to the left, raved James Hohmann, for example.

People closer to the 11th congressional district said that the locals didn’t see it as a “proxy” war about anything.  Remarks Turner had made about Joe Biden during the general election campaign in 2020 didn’t sit well with a lot of people, probably including many who lean progressive. Bernie Sanders hmself was wholeheartedly supporting Biden at the time.

But it was one election in one congressional district. It doesn’t necessarily say anything about what candidates are viable in other congressional districts, nor does it prove that the progressive movement is over, any more than Cori Bush’s big win in Missouri proved the progressive movement is the future. Everybody needs to chill.

Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, center, celebrated President Biden’s extension of the moratorium on evictions on Tuesday. Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

15 thoughts on “Stupid Political Pundits Being Stupid

  1. The  problem is that these things have ripple effects beyond the MO borders. And every time Bush says "Defund the police!", somewhere in the country a Democratic vote dies. More than one, actually.


  2. "Defund the police", worst theme ever. We need police; we also need them relieved of all the non-crime fighting duties such as well-fair checks, homeless camp sweeps, handling lost animal calls, etc.  roughly two-thirds of Seattle police officers were present at an opioid overdose in 2012    "Oregon seems to be a center for similar health and wellness patrols: Project Respond, in Multnomah County, where Portland is located, employs unarmed, non-sworn officers trained in mental health interventions. Street Response, also in Portland and operated through the city’s fire department, responds to drug and mental health crises, providing interventions and diverting people to programs. Local homeless advocates helped design the program. (Streetroots in Portland has an excellent summary of other similar local programs). Denver runs a similar program called STAR."

    • I agree that "defund the police" is a stupid phrase. If you have to explain what a phrase means, it isn't working. But I strongly suspect that by next year the political ground will have shifted quite a bit, and it will be the Republicans on defense for a change. 

      Also, don’t forget that Cori Bush represents Furguson and other areas of St. Louis that have seen way too much police brutality.


      • "Zero out police budgets, and make them re-negotiate by line item" doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.

        • I don't think that's the way to go. There's been a lot of talk about having mental health  and/or social services being first responders on particular types of calls. What I haven't seen is any evidence for what works when. 

          Cops don't like responding to mental health calls because they can spin wildly out of control. I think most cops would admit they don't have the skills needed to address these situations. But these situations can turn dangerous and lethal quickly and without warning. So the type of reforms that are desirable have to be identified and supported with empirical evidence before we can even attempt to appropriately budget for them. 

          • (Police) budgets being put together by those who don't know what works is certainly a problem.

            We live in a capitalist society.  You get someone's attention, when you touch their money.
            Making finances/ budgets dependent on understanding what works, is the path to positive change.

  3. I have the ultimate level of respect and admiration for Congresswoman Bush (FINALLY, a Bush to respect and like!). 

    Because she didn't just talk the talk about eviction.  No, she walked that walk by sleeping outside (on the steps of the Capitol) like a newly-evicted homeless person might have to do.

  4. OY!!!!!!!!!!

    Chris Silly-lizard is DOG-AWFUL!

    He's either stupid, or doesn't care about what he's writing about. 

    Because essentially he's been writing the same "both-sides" BULLtRUMP columns for years!  And don't get me started with him as a TV personality (of which he has none)!

    He's compete!y tone-deaf about both Democratic AND RepubliKKKLAN party politics. Man, you can't even grok one side, can ya, YA STUPID TWIT?!?

    Sadly for his readers/viewers, that is ALL that fumbduck ever writes/talks about!!!

    And on TV, he's about as exciting as watching a 10k race – for snails! 

    The man can put a Kilo of coke to sleep (and when I say coke, I'm talking about the real thing, not the "Real Thing."

    Oh, the banality of twits.


  5. Whooooops! 

    I just remembered something I forgot to ask.


    Do you remember a writer named Eric Alterman on the inter-tubes from back in the early-to-mid-00's? 

    He was one of my favorite writers from back in yours truly's early inter-tube days (as were you, maha:  And you still are, here in my dotage! 🙂 ).

    And that no matter where he was writing his columns, he always had this great commenter who called him/her-self "Stupid" (And if I remember correctly, each comment started with, "Eric, it's Stupid…)?

    I thought "Stupid" was one of the smartest and most astute commenters I've ever had the pleasure of reading.  (There are a few here who aren't too far from being "Stupid!  Hey, I made a funny! 😉 ).

    Do you know who s/he was? 

    And more importantly, whatever happened to happened to him/her?  Is s/he still alive?  Still commenting?

    Anyone else?


    • Of course I remember Eric Alterman. He's still writing for The Nation, but as I don't subscribe to The Nation I hardly ever read anything in it any more. I'm sorry I missed Stupid.

  6. I believe Nina Turner lost her race in part because she nationalized it, to some extent.  Issues arising in congressional districts for the most part tend to be local, and I believe she would have overcome all the DNC/Clintonian money pouring in to help Brown, had she focused more on local issues, and embraced Biden.  Although I understand her issues with him.

    As for Cillizza, he's the absolute worst.  Cori Bush represents an area that has been brutalized by police violence, and was sent to Congress to say and do exactly what she's been saying and doing.  If democratic "moderates," blue dogs, centrists or whatever it is they call themselves, can't figure out how to appeal to the locals in their districts, speak to their issues and run an effective campaign instead of whining about Bush in another district, maybe they need to find another line of work.  The people in their districts care more about what you're going to do for them, rather than Cori Bush. 

    Brown may have won, but Dem leadership will never destroy "progressivism" as long as you have voters in districts like Bush's, dealing with the issues they deal with.

  7.  There are clowns who will write trash if it gets clicks. Because the editor is more concerned with the traffic than substance. It's more profitable for some publications to dump a good writer and go with a hack who knows how to write to get a reaction.

    So we get a continual stream (from both sides) of stories that declare the world is coming to an end. Those articles are read more often than pieces about what we can do to improve the world.

  8. Cillizza is an example of a really serious problem in political journalism in the US. When a source gives him an argument, he assumes the source is not acting in bad faith.

    This is *the* perfect time to cure that malady.

    Someday, historians will write about this time, when a deadly pandemic was sweeping around the world, and one political party proclaimed, or supported (directly or indirectly) those that proclaimed, that it was no big deal, blow it off, and it would be tragic to allow the government to protect people.

    They did this when objective truth showed that their actions would lead to more deaths. They did this when EVERY public health expert ON THE PLANET said that it was horrible and wrong.

    That is: the Republicans proclaimed that they were right, and every public health expert on the planet was wrong. Oh, and let's be honest, they're not stupid. They know they're in the  wrong (or, they really are so stupid they should not be allowed to touch the Grown Up Scissors).

    And historians will probably advance theories, like, journalists were secretly afraid of being assassinated, and that's why they didn't expose the vile lies their sources told, and implicitly excused those Republicans who didn't scream that the leader of their political party was killing people, and the rest of their politicians and pundits were enabling him (or flat out helping him) to let innocent Americans die.

    Where was I? Oh, right, Cillizza is stupid. (Dude, if you read this, and don't realize I had cause to say that, you're hopeless.)

    Republicans would like people to say Cori Bush gave a gift to the Republicans, to dampen enthusiasm for her reeelection. Therefore, they told Cillizza that, and he was dumb enough to assume it wasn't a bad faith argument, and reported it. He's a useful idiot, because he'll hear a nonsense/BS justification from several people, and assume he's "taking the pulse of the body politic" or some such nonsense, rather than "hearing precisely what they'd like him to hear, leading him by the nose to be their tool."

    (Ramble: in my day, there was an idea that went around, that a man couldn't really be hurt by anything untrue. If you're furious when someone calls you a coward, it's because you can't say you're not (or that you know you are) cowardly. A man (rather than "a physically/sexually mature male human") who was clearly innocent could not be angry or insulted by what I wrote above… any insult taken would have meant it might look true, or *be* true.

    Oh: and, another part of being “a man” meant you didn’t care about appearances. So the fear that something might look bad (when you knew it wasn’t bad) is kind of two strikes at once. Who cares about appearances, more than about doing what’s right?)

    • I was with you up until this: "And historians will probably advance theories, like, journalists were secretly afraid of being assassinated, and that's why they didn't expose the vile lies their sources told".

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