We have two questions about the report!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2020

They take shape in its opening paragraphs: We have two questions about the New York Times' bombshell report.

The questions take shape in its opening paragraphs. Our first questions goes like this:

Question 1: If Trump was losing tons of money, why would he pay income tax?

This question takes shape in the first four paragraphs. The Times report starts like this:

BUETTNER (9/28/20): Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years—largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

[...]

The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.

That's what the Times report says. It says that Trump was "losing much more money than he made," apparently on a regular basis. It seems to say that he was "rack[ing] up chronic losses" year after year after year.

Our question, and yes, it's bone simple: If a businessperson loses more money than he takes in, what would be pay income taxes on? 

If he loses more money than he takes in, in what sense does he have any income at all? Why would he pay income taxes?

That's our first bone-simple question. Our second one goes like this:

Question 2: Did the New York Times really acquire Donald Trump's tax returns?

Did the Times acquire Trump's tax returns? The report doesn't quite seem to say that. This is paragraph 5, continuing from above:

BUETTNER ET AL (continuing directly): The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks.

In that passage, the reporters clearly say that they didn't obtain the commander-in-chief's "personal returns for 2018 or 2019." 

Our question: Did they obtain his "personal returns" for any other year? It doesn't seem clear that they make this claim in that passage, or anywhere else in their lengthy report, although they always may have.

In that passage, the reporters only say that they have obtained the commander's "tax-return data." In the next paragraph, it almost sounds like they're saying that they obtained the gent's "returns." But we'd have to say that they don't flatly make that statement.

If "the tax data examined by the Times" (paragraph 10) are accurate, this would presumably qualify as a distinction without a difference. But did they actually obtain the commander's "personal returns?" 

This seems like a basic question. Has the question been answered?

For extra credit: If a businessman loses a boatload of money, does he owe income tax?

We'll guess the answer is buried within our convoluted tax system.  We'll guess that, for all practical purposes, the complexity of the system may make questions like that impossible to answer.

We'll guess that, for all practical purposes, our tax system is too complex to explain. This would make it another one of our many failing systems. 

We have a boatload of failing systems. Is our first bone-simple question today perhaps too hard to explain?


THE ERA WHICH WAS: This has been An Era Which Was!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2020

A remarkable learning experience: Last evening, we thought of The Plague (La Peste)—of the way Camus' denizens of Oran struggle to comprehend the change taking place around them.

That part of Camus' novel is a discerning, though affectionate, portrait of human discernment. 

We also been thinking of the old TV show, That Was The Week That Was. 

We recall it as a breakthrough show during our late high school years. Oddly, we can't say that we specifically recall ever having watched it, although we assume we did.

What was That Was The Week That Was? The leading authority on the program begins its account as shown:

That Was the Week That Was, informally TWTWTW or TW3, was a satirical television comedy program on BBC Television in 1962 and 1963. It was devised, produced, and directed by Ned Sherrin and presented by David Frost.

The program is considered a significant element of the satire boom in the UK in the early 1960s, as it broke ground in comedy by lampooning political figures...An American version under the same title aired on NBC from 1964 to 1965, also featuring Frost.

That Was The Week That Was displayed a new attitude.  

For a certain demographic, the most significant TV event of the era was the Dr. Kildare two-part drama, Tyger, Tyger, which gave the world Yvette Mimieux plus an important new message.

In college, we learned that everyone remembered a particular Superman episode from grade school years. It was the episode which ended with Superman explaining how he knew which of two identical clowns to save from certain death.

("I knew the real Chuckles the Clown would never let a man fall to his death," Superman explains to Lois Lane at the end of the program. We still regard it as one of the most succinct moral lessons ever published or aired.)

Those were transformative TV events. But That Was The Week That Was introduced a new attitude, as a few other major figures were doing at that time. The leading authority fleshes out its portrait of the  show:

An American version was on NBC from 10 November 1963 to May 1965. The pilot featured Henry Fonda and Henry Morgan, with Mike Nichols and Elaine May as guests, and supporting performers including Gene Hackman. The recurring cast included Frost, Morgan, Buck Henry, and Alan Alda...; regular contributors included Gloria Steinem, William F. Brown, Tom Lehrer, and Calvin Trillin...

The American version is largely a lost program, although the pilot survives and was donated to the Library of Congress by a collector. Amateur audio recordings of most episodes also survive.

We graduated from high school in June 1965. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, audio recordings survive. 

"In any man [sic] who dies there dies with him his first snow and kiss and fight, " Yevtushenko wrote in his human being-affirming poem, People.

"There are left books and bridges and painted canvas and machinery," he wrote. "Whose fate is to survive."

Thus spake Yevtushenko. "But what has gone is also not nothing: by the rule of the game something has gone," the poet opines as he continues 

"Not people die but worlds die in them. Whom we knew as faulty, the earth’s creatures."

Audio recordings of the old TV program survive. So has the sound of that program's title as we contemplate our current era, which very much qualifies as An Era Which Was.

The era of which we speak didn't begin with Trump. It was already underway with the relentless work of Ceci Connolly, and with the forbearance of her editors at the Washington Post. 

It was underway with the transparent lunacy, and the deranged name-calling, of TV's Chris Matthews. That started in 1999, then continued, as mainstream and liberal reporters and pundits agreed to avert their gaze. 

The era had been underway long before that—for example, in the story Joe Klein told about the way  New York Times honchos first spotted the brilliance of Maureen Dowd. (In 1984, Walter Mondale didn't know which woman he should hug first!)

The era was well underway when Jerry Falwell peddled his Clinton Chronicles videotape about the Clintons' many murders, once again with the mainstream and elite almost wholly looking away. 

The era has always been with us! From way back in our college years, we remember this episode as it occurred in real time:

BIEHLER (2017): In the summer of 1967, President Lyndon Johnson asked Congress for $40 million to support rat control in communities engaged with his Model Cities program. Model Cities and the Rat Extermination Act were part of Johnson’s agenda to invest in black neighborhoods long deprived of resources for housing, infrastructure and economic development by segregationist policies.

Black leaders like Whitney Young and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. urged a multi-billion dollar program of urban redevelopment, but Congress even refused many of Johnson’s more modest requests. The Rat Extermination Act was one small example of this: When it came up for debate, Congressmen from rural districts laughed it off the floor. Rep. James Broyhill of North Carolina drawled, “the rat smart thing to do is to vote down this civil rats bill, rat now.”

We recall that congressman's witty use of regional humor, though we wouldn't have remembered his name. If memory serves, and we think it does, we saw his witty performance  on the day it occurred, right there on our TV machine. 

That was The Summer of 67. In this country, That Was The Week That Was had stopped airing two years before.

Nichols and May were a superb, intelligent comedy team. William F. Brown went on to write The Wiz (1974), but also the semi-prophetic How To Steal An Election (1968). 

Today, his authorship of The Wiz would be seen for the manifestation of systemic racism and white male privilege it now dogmatically is. Brown also wrote episodes of Love American Style, suggesting the possibility that things were already in headlong decline shortly after The Week That Was disappeared from the air.

Last night, we thought about Camus' portrait of the citizens of Oran as they try to comprehend (to see) what is happening around them. That (affectionate) part of Camus' novel is a study of human discernment, an entity which has always been in limited supply.

Over the weekend, we were struck by the New York Times' decision to publish a catalogue of all the times anyone ever used blackface, or currently seems to have done so, on American TV during the "21st century," which is now twenty years old.  

As we always do at such moments, we thought about this:

We've never seen the New York Times attempt to speak in a serious way about the experiences of black kids in our low-income public schools. Instead, they obsess about who can get into Stuyvesant High, then possibly get into Yale. 

Also, they scold Jimmy Kimmel for what he did when he performed an impression of Karl Malone, a major NBA star. It's human discernment in action!

We also spent some time this weekend reviewing the news reports about the death last month of Cannon Hinnant. He was (deliberately) shot and killed, at the age of 5, as he rode his bike in front of his home accompanied by his sisters, ages 7 and 8.

The event turned into a brief second-order hubbub. One part of this report in Forbes qualifies as "journalistically dumb beyond all belief."  This defensive report in the Washington Post was almost as transparently faux. 

(Our advice: See paragraph 13 in the Post report, but then perform some checking. When Forbes lists the news orgs which did in fact report the shooting, click the various links it provides. Prepare to marvel at the limits to human discernment or honesty, even at high journalistic levels.)

We're living in the dangerous days of This Era Which Was. In the backwash of the rise of 1) talk radio, 2) "cable news," 3) the Internet and 4) social media, the era has given us an unusual chance to observe the remarkable limits of human discernment.

We humans! Our discernment is very limited—although, as Camus gently suggests, that doesn't make us bad people.  It does suggest this possibility:

Nothing even a tiny bit gold can be expected to stay.

We've decided to cast ourselves in the role of Don Corleone in the garden. In a certain well-known film, the gentleman retires there to drink a bit more wine, to offer advice to his son when asked, and to play an affectionate game with a 3-year-old child in the moments before he dies. 

Relieved of the burden of control of the family, he's free to ruminate more widely. As viewers, we're left to ponder the mystery of the film in question:

We're left to wonder how a person who viciously murders other people all through the course of a film can be a sympathetic figure all through and in the end. The answer, of course, is supplied early on, when we see Corleone say this:

"I refused to be a fool."

We humans! We rarely take so clear a stand on that particular issue! Instead, as Cummings notes, we "unflinchingly applaud all songs containing the words country home and mother when sung at the old howard," or whatever words are currently found in the songs our tribe is singing.

The godfather refused to be a fool. We humans may be inclined to respect such defiance, though he almost surely could have found a better way to do it.

This has very strongly been An Era Which Was! Thanks to the rise of those new technologies, it's been an amazing time for people-watching, for seeing the way members of our species—"faulty, the earth's creatures"—are actually inclined to reason, to puzzle things out. 

At this site, we've receive consultation from highly-credentialed, major top figures from the world of anthropology. We'll continue to offer random observations from our spot in the garden we've chosen, though generally while continuing to channel these unnamed top major experts.

As it turns out, our human discernment is very limited. This era is giving us  a chance to see this surprising state of affairs as it's acted out in real time, and no, this trademark lack of discernment isn't all found Over There.

Tomorrow: Whatever comes to mind! 


Explaining how Donald J. Trump reached the White House!

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2020

Simply put, not up to the task: Last year, in 2019, we began to ask an award-winning question:

What makes you think that we'll even have a White House election this year?

In truth, we didn't quite understand our own question. We were in receipt of imprecise tips from major  experts who report to us from the future—from the years which follow the global conflagration they refer to as Mister Trump's War.

These despondent scholars were glumly suggesting that no real election would happen this year. With Barton Gellman's new report in The Atlantic, we may be starting to see what these despondent major experts may have meant by their vague remarks.

Might this yea's election results be nullified by lawsuits and state-level machinations involving the electoral college? Might that turn out to be the story behind the award-winning question we started asking last year?

Will this year's election results be nullified? We can't answer that question! But the fact that the question is being asked shows how far down a dangerous road we've traveled since Trump descended that escalator after four year serving as king of the birthers.

The nation's headlong descent began with Trump's razor-thin election win. So how did he ever get to the White House? How in the world did he get there?

We can answer that question! In large part, the answer involves the feckless behavior of our own self-impressed liberal tribe.

We were having a ton of fun in 2016 at this time! Our tribunes kept filing reports about how Candidate Clinton couldn't possibly lose, even though it was always clear that she actually could.

Astonishingly, the Maddow Show explicitly took James Comey's side when he trashed Candidate Clinton in July 2016. Maddow rolled over and died about Comey that year, just as she'd done all through the autumn of 2012 as Susan Rice was burned at the stake and the Benghazi narratives took form. 

Comey's behavior, and the Benghazi narratives, each played a major part in sending Trump to the White House. Maddow (and others) took major dives as each of these storms took shape.

Those events were bad enough, but the problem was much more extensive. In April 2015, the New York Times published its crazy Uranium One report. The 4400-word front-page report was based on Peter Schweizer's crazy Clinton Cash book, and it was full of logical howlers.

It was a totally crazy report. When the New York Times published it, major tribunes of the tribe failed to say boo about it.

On the brighter side, Michelle Goldberg ended up with a spot as a regular New York Times columnist. She and Chris Hayes rolled over and died on the night in 2015 when the crazy report—4400 words long!—appeared in the glorious Times. 

Goldberg's ascension testifies to the personal gain which can result from a dangerous silence—from a refusal to tell the truth, from a refusal to fight. We recall that silence every time we read one of her columns.

Our lunatic president reached the White House by beating Candidate Clinton. This followed 24 years of war against Candidate Clinton—a war our compliant tribal tribunes endlessly failed to identify or oppose.

How clueless is our tribe, even today, about this long-running war? Consider a piece which appeared in last Sunday's New York Times Book Review. It ran under this extremely salient headline:

Why Is Hillary Clinton So Hated?

Why is Clinton so hated? To the extent that you can answer that question, you can explain how the grossly disordered Donald J. Trump ever reached the Oval Office, from which venue he now attempts to terminate Roe v. Wade, The Affordable Care Act and the American experiment. 

As such, that question is very important. Needless to say, the answer was missing in action in the book review which ran beneath that headline in Sunday's New York Times.

The review was written by Noreen Malone, who is almost surely a thoroughly good, decent person. Unfortunately, something else is true about Malone, if we assume that her piece for the Times was written in good faith:

If we assume that she wrote her piece in good faith, Malone knows virtually nothing about the reasons why Candidate Clinton was "so hated." In that sense, she knows nothing about the way our disordered and dangerous commander in chief managed to get where he is.

Who the heck is Noreen Malone? According to the Times' identity line, she's "a writer and editor [and] the host of an upcoming season of Slate’s Slow Burn podcast." 

She graduated from Columbia in the class of 2007. According to her LinkedIn page, she still serves as "editorial director" at New York magazine. 

Malone works for New York magazine and for Slate. This suggests that she, like so many others, would never explain why Clinton was so hated, even if she actually knows.

Liberal careerists have avoided such questions for the past 28 years. This largely explains the massive know-nothing political cluelessness which infests our failing tribe.

Why was Hillary Clinton so hated during Campaign 2016? As Malone addresses that question, she points the finger at "right-wing attacks" and at misogyny, and of course at Clinton herself.

She fails to mention the decades of enmity against Hillary Clinton which emerged from the upper-end mainstream press, very much including the famous newspaper for which she penned this review. 

She fails to mention the fact that the Whitewater pseudo-scandals began on the front page of the New York Times. She fails to mention the subsequent, related War Against Gore, which raged in the Times and the Washington Post and all over NBC cable.

She fails to mention the continuing enmity which drove so much New York Times coverage during Campaign 2016. That includes, but is hardly limited to, the crazy Uranium One report the Times cut-and-pasted live and direct from the crackpot anti-Clinton right. 

For the record, Malone was reviewing a new book by Michael D'Antonio, The Hunting of Hillary: The Forty-Year Campaign to Destroy Hillary Clinton.

Malone makes the book sound like major hackwork. That could be a fair assessment.

That said, why was Hillary Clinton so hated—so hated that a nutcase like Trump actually reached the Oval? Staying within major zones of safety, Malone offers this at one point:

MALONE (9/20/20): D’Antonio does a certain amount of feminist-inflected analysis in his text, particularly in the early biographical chapters...It’s impossible to argue with the substance of this—misogyny is hypermagnetized toward Clinton, not to mention virtually every woman in politics or the public eye—but it’s a comment that’s certainly been made before. And in places, D’Antonio seems a little blinkered from noticing sexism that doesn’t target Clinton herself. He isn’t particularly generous or thoughtful in his assessment of the way the media treated women like Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky, or Juanita Broaddrick, who made a credible accusation of rape against Bill Clinton that has, in recent years, become the subject of much feminist reconsideration.

Malone inhabits safe harbors. 

It pleases the tribe to be told that misogyny "is hypermagnetized toward Clinton, not to mention virtually every woman in politics." On the down side, it's hard to show that this is true, or even to say what it means.

(Was misogyny "hypermaginitized toward" Senator Klobuchar during the primary campaign? This is the kind of vast overstatement which vastly pleases the tribe.)

That said, Hillary Clinton certainly was assailed by sexist and misogynistic slimings all through her national tenure. This was routinely done at the New York Times, as public editor Clark Hoyt pointed out in a remarkable essay in June 2016.

Hoyt's essay produced exactly zero discussion from major liberal pundits. This has long been exactly the way our tribe's career players have played. 

For decades, Clinton was slimed all over NBC cable, which isn't a part of the right. On NBC cable, she was Evita Peron and Nurse Ratched, but also Cruella da Ville. 

Career liberals knew they mustn't notice or complain. They knew how to play the game.

Today, it pleases the tribe to hear that Clinton was slimed in misogynistic ways, but no career liberal will ever say that the sliming was done by the upper-end mainstream press. Dearest darlings, it just isn't done! Future jobs hang in the balance!

From her sanitized claims about misogyny, Malone moves on to criticize Bill Clinton, who isn't Hillary Clinton. We then reach Malone's most ridiculous passage.

Why was Hillary Clinton so hated? As she continues, Malone offers this:

MALONE (continuing directly): Hillary Clinton’s notorious remark that she “could have stayed at home and baked cookies” offended plenty of women who weren’t on the right, but it is similarly glossed over. The fact of Bill Clinton’s unfaithfulness is mostly used as a launching point for discussing the right’s exploitation of it. D’Antonio can rarely bring himself to admit the couple have legitimate baggage. [Malone's italics]

Hillary Clinton's "notorious remark" was made in March 1992, during her husband's primary campaign. It was a snarky comment. Along with her earlier  remark about Tammy Wynette, it showed the world that Hillary Clinton has a certain tendency toward making politically unwise remarks, as most people do.

That said, does that remark constitute "legitimate baggage" of the type which explains why she was so hated in 2016, and is so hated today? Only in the childish world in which liberal careerists have always remained, in which they agree to disappear the long, puzzling war of the mainstream press against both Clintons and Gore.

Reading Malone, you're told that Clinton was attacked by the right. You're told that she had "legitimate baggage." 

There's a great deal you aren't told. You're also asked to read this:

MALONE: [T]he book is most successful as a work within the terms of its chosen genre: Clinton defense. Just as the Clinton prosecution—in the manner of Edward Klein and Peter  Schweizer—is a recognizable literary category (one to which D’Antonio rightly draws critical attention), so is Clinton defense. (The defense is less given to magical realism; D’Antonio writes factually and journalistically.) For instance, the book’s dramatic title seems to be a riff on Joe Conason and Gene Lyons’s 2000 book, “The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton,” which sought to catalog the “vast right-wing conspiracy” Hillary Clinton so famously blamed for trying to bring her and her husband down.

Did Conason and Lyons seek "to catalog the 'vast right-wing conspiracy' Hillary Clinton so famously blamed?" Yes, they did, but—Shhhh!—they also discussed the assaults on the Clintons by the upper-end mainstream press.

That book followed Lyons' 1995 book, Fools For Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater. In the main, the "media" to which Lyons referred were the New York Times and the Washington Post. 

For that reason, Lyons' book—it started as an essay in Harper's—was never discussed by the career liberal press. Malone seems to lump it in with the hackwork of someone like Schweizer, whose Clinton Cash book was cut and pasted for the Times' Uranium One gong-show.

Donald J. Trump squeezed into the White House on the strength of twenty-four years of this journalistic chaos. His opponent wasn't a great politician. But why was she "so hated?"

Liberal careerists have always agreed to disappear a large part of the answer. As they pursued their sacred careers, they greased the path to Gore's amazingly narrow defeat, and then to Hillary Clinton's.

On the whole, we liberals have never complained about this, largely because our tribal sachems haven kept us from hearing about it.  On our own, we  simply haven't been up to the task of seeing how this worked.

We're pleased when our favorites show up in the Times. It's their silence which put them there, and it also put Trump where he is.


Performative speech triggers bad-faith probe!

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

The Trump bunch tackles Princeton: In last Saturday's print editions, the Washington Post ran a fascinating report about the twin problems now facing Princeton. 

Our jaundiced reading of the Post's report went exactly like this:

On the one hand, you had the transparent bad faith of the Trump administration, which had launched a heartfelt probe into Princeton's "systemic racism."

On the other hand, you had the public confessions of the university itself. Specifically, you had recent statements by Princeton's president, Christopher Eisgruber, who was apologizing for such ingrained behavior on the part of his university. 

Where did the Trump Bunch get the idea that Princeton is steeped in systemic racism? They'd heard it from Princeton itself!

Is Princeton sunk in systemic racism? We were struck by the "cultural revolution" feel of Eisgruber's scripted remarks, and by the very limited scope of his proposed solutions.  In our view, such performative conduct will rarely be instructive or helpful, but it seems especially out of place on a major college campus.

At any rate, once Eisgruber issued his scripted confession, the Trump Bunch launched their bad-faith federal probe. Or at least, that's how the whole thing sounded to us as we read the Post's report.

Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf has offered a fascinating appraisal of this contretemps. We don't necessarily agree with every word Friedersdorf has written, but we'll let his well-researched essay substitute for anything we could have presented.

We especially recommend Randall Kennedy's assessment of the alleged systemic racism at Princeton along with the alleged "strategic hyperbole" with which it's being described. In part, that section reads like this:

FRIEDERSDORF (9/25/20): An allegation of systemic racism “is a serious charge,” Kennedy insisted. “If the allegation is substantiated, it ought to occasion protest and rectification commensurate with the wrong,” but if flimsy or baseless, that should be stated too. Kennedy warned that “minority students who take such indictments at face value—unaware of strategic hyperbole—become overwhelmed by unrealistic fears of encountering racist assessments that will unfairly limit their possibilities.”

Kennedy aimed that criticism at Princeton in particular. He graduated from the institution in 1973, and noted in his article that “the exploitation and exclusion of African Americans is, indeed, deeply embedded in Princeton’s history.” As for its present, however, he dissented from this summer’s faculty letter, with its claims such as “anti-Black racism has a visible bearing upon Princeton’s campus makeup and its hiring practices.” If Princeton’s racism “was as conspicuous as alleged, one would expect the ultimatum’s authors to be able to dash off some vivid, revealing examples,” Kennedy argued. He went on to call the claim of anti-Black racial exclusion implausible given various facts: prominent Black intellectuals who have made Princeton their academic home, scores of Black scholars who hold or recently held positions of academic leadership, and an African American dean of admissions. What’s more, he added, Princeton has a number of distinguished Black trustees. “These people, all Princeton alumni, are alert and capable and in demand,” he argued. “They are by no means needy. They could associate themselves with any number of prestigious enterprises. They would surely decline to contribute to or be involved with the sort of institution that the ultimatum depicts.”

To what extent could Princeton improve its performance in this area? We have no first-hand knowledge or idea.

That said, after more than 22 years at this post, we think we've developed a bit of an ear for mandated speech, if and when such performative foofaw may appear. It seems to us that mandated speech will rarely be helpful in any real way, and that people should be especially disappointed when high academics bow to tribal demands for overwrought, frog-marched confession.

We groaned when we read the Post's report. To our ear, a transparently scripted confession seemed to have triggered a transparently disingenuous probe.

Mad magazine used to publish Spy vs. Spy. This had the feel of Faux vs. Faux. Is Princeton sunk in the culture its leader described? 

We recommend Friedersdorf's musings.


SIMPLY PUT, NOT UP TO THE TASK: Paul Butler is making zero sense!

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

So too with everyone else: Should the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor have been charged with a crime?

This morning, on the web site of the Washington Post, Paul Butler glumly says yes. (Butler's column doesn't appear in today's hard-copy Post.)

According to the Post's identity line, Butler is the Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University. He's a graduate of Harvard Law School, and even of Yale before that.

Inevitably, the Post further identifies Butler as "a former federal prosecutor." As people with cable access know, he's one of the roughly three million such former officials who swarmed over MSNBC in recent years, assuring us that Robert Mueller was going to take Trump down and that the Southern District of New York is stocked with the greatest crime-fighters in the history of the whole world.

If so, why hadn't Trump ever been charged with a crime? The question was never asked.

Almost surely, Butler is a good, decent person. On TV, he always seems like the saddest person in the room.

He's a  graduate of Yale and of Harvard Law. This morning, he's making zero sense, courtesy of the Post.

In his opening paragraph, Butler seems to vastly understate the reasons why Louisville police staged the (inherently dangerous) raid in which Taylor was shot and killed. More accurately, we'd be inclined to say that Butler misstates the reason for that inherently dangerous and ultimately fatal police action.

We'll leave those complaints to the ages. For today, let's say this:

Late-night raids strike us as remarkably dangerous on their face. That said, they've long been a standard part of police behavior, and three police officers (with backup) were sent to conduct such a raid that night.

Butler says they should be charged with manslaughter. As liberals, let's agree to be truthful just this once. Does this make any sense?

BUTLER (9/25/20): I’m a former prosecutor, and I would have charged all three officers with manslaughter. I think murder would be overcharging, because the officers did not have the intent to kill Taylor. Still, if three gang members burst into an apartment, were met with gunfire by somebody in the home, and in response shot up the apartment complex and killed an innocent person, they would almost certainly be charged with homicide.

It’s no less of a crime when three cops do the same thing. Self-defense is an issue, but one that a jury should decide. 

No, really. That's what the passage actually says, and the Post chose to publish it.

Does that passage make any sense? Speaking directly just this once, that passage strikes us as insane.

In fairness, it's certainly true! If three gang members break into someone's apartment (after midnight) and end up killing an innocent person, they will almost surely be charged with an array of crimes.

We'll assume that these hypothetical gang members would be charged with homicide. But according to Butler, "it's no less of a crime" when three police officers do the same thing! 

Does that make any sense? On its face, that strikes us as insane. For starters, let's try this:

The officers had been directed to raid Taylor's apartment as part of a narcotics investigation.  They had a search warrant authorizing them to conduct a no-knock raid—a search warrant which had been approved by a  (female) judge who had reviewed the rationale behind this dangerous action.

According to the New York Times, the rationale involved a long list of behaviors by and involving Taylor. According to the Times' lengthy front-page report, those behaviors went well beyond what Butler describes in his opening paragraph.  

A (female) judge had reviewed the evidence of such behaviors. Rightly or wrongly, she had authorized the dangerous late-night raid.

(Rukmini Callimachi, in the Times: Judge Mary Shaw "said she had 'asked needed questions of the officer, reviewed the affidavits prepared for each warrant and subsequently made the probable-cause determination required of me by law.' ”)

Reviewing, the officers had been sent to Taylor's apartment by their superiors. They went there armed with a search warrant which authorized them to break into the apartment in the middle of the night.

That strikes us as a very dangerous type of law enforcement. That said, we'll guess that gang members breaking into apartments won't generally be so equipped. 

Does it make any sense when Butler performs his weird conflation? Rather plainly, it seems to us that it doesn't. Along the way,  other questions arise:

Should Judge Shaw be charged with homicide for approving the raid? Should the three officers' superiors also be charged with this crime?

Butler doesn't bother readers with such obvious points. For several decades, our failing liberal/mainstream tribe has been conducting its business this way as our floundering nation has slid toward the sea.

We'll admit it! We wonder why the Washington Post would put such work in print. We wonder why a person like Butler would compose such peculiar musings.

We're puzzled until we look around and notice an obvious fact. As has long been the norm on cable TV, no one else is making sense within our failing tribe:

The first essay we read this morning was a piece by Somil Trivedi at Slate. 

According to Slate, Trivedi "is a senior staff attorney at the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project."  Inevitably, he's also described  as "a former federal prosecutor." Isn't everyone these days? 

Moving beyond the timid Butler, Trivedi seems to think that the officer should be charged with murder.  As his essay begins, his rationale runs like this:

TRIVEDI (9/24/20): Americans have just completed another round of one of our grimmest national rituals: shaking our heads while cops who killed an unarmed Black person get away with murder. This time the victim is Breonna Taylor, whose name has galvanized nationwide protests for racial justice, but whose family will receive no justice themselves. Yesterday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a single charge from the grand jury against only one of the three officers involved in her shooting, and even that was for shooting a wall, not Breonna Taylor. The other two will walk. And a community that has already waited six months for closure will just keep waiting.

Many are rightly pointing out that these cops should not avoid charges based on self-defense when they created the danger in the first place. Accordingly, whether the grand jury result makes sense under the criminal law will be hotly debated in the coming days...

Interesting! According to Trivedi, the officers shouldn't avoid being charged, presumably for murder, because  "they created the danger in the first place." Trivedi says that "many" people are "rightly pointing [this] out."

We wanted to see how those arguments go, and so we foolishly clicked the link Trivedi and Slate provided. It took to a perfectly sensible essay by Jane Coaston, a "senior politics reporter" at Vox.

Coaston has no apparent legal background. More to the point, her essay appeared in August 2019. 

For that reason, Coaston's essay makes zero reference to the Taylor case, which arose in March of this year. Further stating the obvious, Coaston doesn't  "point out that these cops should not avoid charges based on self-defense when they created the danger in the first place." 

Indeed, it's a stretch to claim that Coaston engages in any such general claim at all. Her essay isn't anything like the way it's advertised.

In other words, Trivedi and Slate have provided a classic "link to nowhere." This is the kind of insulting behavior which now prevails at disintegrating sites like Slate.

Trivedi's piece was the first thing we read this morning. After that, we read this piece by Brooke Leigh Howard at The Daily Beast.

Inevitably, we found Howard making a standard bollixed claim:

HOWARD (9/23/20): The unjust death of Breonna Taylor was already exhausting. Louisville police officers entered her apartment on a “no-knock” warrant, without announcing themselves according to the accounts of many ear witnesses. Taylor’s boyfriend defended the home by shooting at the intruders, the cops shot back, and Taylor was fatally shot while lying in her own bed defenseless. On top of it all, the person the police were seeking didn’t even live in the apartment and had actually already been arrested on the other side of town. It took six months, waves of protests, celebrity outrage, and a national outcry before a grand jury was even convened.

Sad, but thoroughly typical. As everyone knows, the police weren't seeking some other person when they raided Taylor's apartment that night—some person who had "already been arrested on the other side of town."

More specifically, they weren't seeking Jamarcus Glover, Taylor's long-time (apparently) former boyfriend, with whom she'd engaged, or had at least seemed to engage, in a fair amount of suspicion-arousing behavior over the course of several years.

Callimachi ran through the list of such behaviors in her lengthy front-page report in the August 31 New York Times. As liberals, we aren't hearing about those behaviors because the twin processes of sanitization and cartoonization are  currently underway in discussions of this matter.

At any rate, the Louisville police didn't enter Taylor's apartment "seeking" Glover that night. And the fact that Glover had already been arrested in a companion raid doesn't help us assess the wisdom of the raid on Taylor's apartment.

A bit like Tucker Carlson before her, Howard seems to have little sense of the basic facts of this case. That said, knowledge of facts is rarely required where Tribal Script serves as god.

After being amazed by Butler, we read this column by Melanye Price in this morning's New York Times. Professor Price, "a political scientist," also thinks the officers should have been indicted, apparently on a charge of "killing."

In other words, Price doesn't bother naming the specific crime with which the officers should be charged. She doesn't offer any rationale for the claim that they committed a crime at all. 

Her column was published anyway, in print editions of the Times. This is the way our tribe works.

Are we humans up to the task of self-government? Within our self-impressed liberal tribe, are we up to the task of creating anything resembling a rational discourse?

These questions are especially salient now. They're especially salient as Donald's Trump's craziness threatens the national interest in deeply disturbing ways.  

Are we liberals up to the task in any way at all? Top anthropologists constantly tell us that the answer is no. Weeping is heard inside their caves as they deliver this verdict, and as they say that our limbic brains will lead us to think that their assessment is wrong.

Kafka was able to see himself—to see his very body parts—as being non-"human." Anthropologists despondently tell us that Kafka had  a very good strong solid basic point.

At any rate, Butler is making zero sense at the Washington Post today. In fairness, the same is true of everyone else as we slide down a dangerous path.

We still hope to mention, perhaps tomorrow: Zero awareness of  How Trump Got There. 

Also, the commissar spoke.