BROKEN: What did Vladimir Putin propose?

SATURDAY, JULY 21, 2018

Your lizard brain gets a good workout:
According to the future elders—they come to us quite late at night—the "Embellishment Industrial Complex" flourished during the so-called Final Human Era, an era defined by the rise of corporate "cable news."

These future elders still laugh about the way Arianna sewed that fourth button onto Candidate Gore's suits in the fall of 1999. Then they remember the way this conduct led to Down Home Bush's Transitional War, with its untold thousands of innocent dead, and they burn with a fury at players like Brian, who spent so many nights, back then, obsessing about Gore's wardrobe.

(At the time, Brian was lobbying to succeed Tom Brokaw as anchor of NBC Nightly News. Because Jack Welch was his corporate owner, this led to lunatic embellishments and theoretics about the various elements of the candidate's troubling wardrobe.

(The liberal world accepted every one of Brian's endless jibes. As Brian played us again and again, we were laughing about the ignorant hillbillies we'd spotted at Walmart.

(Later, when Brian embellished about his own courage in Iraq and New Orleans, he surrendered the anchorman post. Today, he provides each evening's "Last Word" for us, the liberal masses. Through his florid language and his courtly behavior, we can tell that he's On Our Side.)

The Embellishment Industrial Complex ruled the roost at cable news during that final era. For one example, compare what Vladimir Putin proposed to what you've been offered on cable.

The proposal was first made in Helsinki, during the initial summit of Presidents Sundance and Butch. No one knows what Putin said during his private session with President Mitty, but when the two fellows spoke in public, everyone was able to see his statement.

Below, you see Putin's remarks as they were translated in real time. You'll note that what he actually said in the public session doesn't match what you've been hearing on Corporate Embellishment Cable.

Warning! More than ten words:
PUTIN, AS TRANSLATED (7/16/18): Now let's get back to the issue of these twelve alleged intelligence officers of, of Russia.

I don't know the full extent of the situation, but President Trump mentioned this issue and I will look into it. So far, I can say the following things off the top of my head.

We have enacting (sic) an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty that dates back to 1999. The Mutual Assistance on Criminal Cases. This treaty is in full effect. It works quite efficiently.

On average, we initiate about 100, 150 criminal cases upon request from foreign states. For instance, the last year there was one extradition case upon the request sent by the United States.

So this treaty has specific legal procedures we can offer the appropriate commission headed by Special Attorney Mueller. He can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal—an official request to us so that we would interrogate—we want to hold a questioning of these individuals, who he believes are privy to some crimes. And our law enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States.

Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step.

We can actually permit official representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can let them into the country and they will be present at this questioning. But in this case, there is a—there's another condition.

This kind of effort should be a mutual one. Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate, and that they would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence service of the United States, whom we believe are—who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia, and we have to—to request the presence of our law enforcement.

For instance, we can bring up the Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States, and yet the money escaped the country. They were transferred to the United States. They sent huge amount of money, $400 million as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Well, that's the personal case. It might have been legal, the contribution itself, but the way the money was earned was illegal.
You'll note the following points:

1) Vladimir doesn't suggest that anyone should be extradited, whether from Russia to the U.S. or from the U.S. to Russia. More specifically, there is no suggestion that any Americans will be forced to travel to Russia.

2) He doesn't say that Mueller or his associates would be allowed to question the twelve indicted Russkies. He seems to say that they would be permitted to watch as Russkies questioned these twelve Russkies, on their own sacred soil.

3) He doesn't seem to say that Russkies would be permitted to question any Americans. He seems to say that they would be allowed to be present as American officials questioned certain Americans on our "American soil," which is once again precious to liberals.

4) He doesn't mention Ambassador McFaul. He mentions only Bill Browder by name.

That's what President Soccer Ball proposed in the public session. That's the proposal which President Rain Man briefly described in this way, briefly abandoning his desire to discuss his many electoral votes:
TRUMP (7/16/18): I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the [Mueller] case come and work with their investigators with respect to the twelve people. I think that's an incredible offer. OK?

Thank you.
That's what President Murky said about his best friend's proposal. More precisely, Murky only described a plan in which American officials would "come" (presumably to Russia) to "work with their investigators with respect to the twelve people" Mueller has indicted.

He didn't mention, let alone endorse, any other part of any proposal. It should be noted that he didn't say that he was accepting this offer.

What did Vlad propose in private? To this day, no one knows! But that's what he proposed in public, until the denizens of cable news began their embellishment games.

One caveat should be offered. After Monday's "Bro Summit" was done, Russkie officials seem to have described some variant of Putin's proposal to some Russkie news sites.

Because of the nature of American "journalism," we don't know what this variant may have been. We say that because, starting with the New York Times, we know of no major newspaper which bothered describing these variants, or bothered explaining how these variants may have differed from what President Alpha Male had said in his public presentation.

Beyond that, and stating the obvious, we saw no stars of "cable news" developing this information. In the age of the Embellishment Storyline Industrial Complex, the practice of developing "information" had largely disappeared from the American neo-press.

We've seen what Presidents Spin and Marty said in their public session. As such, we've seen the proposal which President Goofus did, in fact, describe as "an incredible offer." (It should be noted that he never said that he was accepting the offer.)

Vladimir proposed no extraditions. He didn't even seem to propose that Russkies should be allowed to question Americans.

But so what? After that, embellishment culture stepped to the fore. Here's what Lawrence told the liberal masses on Thursday night:
O'DONNELL (7/19/18): The Senate showed how quickly it can actually do something today when the Senate really wants to. It took the Senate's Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer exactly three minutes and eight seconds to convince the Senate to vote on a resolution, quote, expressing the sense of Congress "against the making available of current and former diplomats officials and members of the armed forces of the United States for questioning by the government of Vladimir Putin."

The Senate vote was 98-0 in favor of that resolution after Donald Trump on Monday publicly said that it was a good idea to hand over, among others, Obama administration ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul, who Vladimir Putin specifically mentioned on Monday as he stood beside Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin accused Ambassador McFaul of being a criminal and said he would trade the extradition of the Russian military officers who have been indicted by Robert Mueller for Ambassador McFaul and other Americans...
Where did Embellishment Culture step in? Let us count the ways:
Embellishments by Lawrence:
1) On Monday, Putin didn't "specifically mention" McFaul as he stood beside Donald Trump. McFaul was never specifically mentioned at all.

2) As such, Donald Trump didn't "publicly say that it was a good idea to hand over McFaul." (By now, the notion that people would be "handed over" was a key element of Standard Scripted Thoroughly Pleasing Tribal Embellishment Speak.)

3) Putin didn't accuse McFaul of being a criminal. McFaul wasn't mentioned by Putin.

4) Putin didn't say that he would "trade the extradition of the Russian military officers who have been indicted by Robert Mueller for Ambassador McFaul and other Americans." He never mentioned extradition at all. He never seemed to suggest that anyone would be forced to leave his own country.
Needless to say, this was Typical Everyday Lawrence. It was also a type of behavior which typified the work of "cable news" during the Entertainment / Embellishment Era.

Nor was Lawrence done! Before he was finished on Thursday night, he falsely said that, as of Wednesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said that the administration was "still considering whether to hand over Ambassador McFaul and other Americans to Vladimir Putin."

Sanders hadn't said that. Moments later, Lawrence embellished further, in this question for a cable news potted plant:
O'DONNELL: Ambassador Burns, I just want to go to you first on what Donald Trump called "an incredible offer," this cooperating with Vladimir Putin and how Vladimir Putin wants to investigate, among others, Ambassador McFaul, possibly have him arrested, extradited to Moscow for trial.
By now, Lawrence seemed to have Trump agreeing that McFaul should be arrested and sent to Moscow for trial. Possibly, that is! (Possibly with a bare-chested Putin whipping him! From horseback, right there in court!)

We'll only note that Donald Trump was referring to no such offer when he made his statement on Monday. But this is the bullshit we humans had chosen during Embellishment Days.

Candidate Gore wore four-button suits—and President Trump publicly said that it would be a good idea to hand McFaul over to Putin for extradition! That was the bullshit we'd chosen.

Needless to say, Lawrence wasn't alone.

The leading player on the channel had already embellished beautifully by the time Lawrence came on. Here she was, describing that Senate vote:
MADDOW (7/19/18): That is the Senate voting unanimously that the president maybe shouldn't send former American diplomats and other U.S. officials and U.S. citizens over to Russia to be interrogated by the Russian government just because Vladimir Putin told Trump that's what he wanted.

I mean, it is still almost impossible to believe that the White House did really spend a few days thinking over that request from Vladimir Putin at the summit earlier this week. I mean, the White House acknowledged that yes, that's what Putin asked; yes, there was some conversation about that. The White House acknowledged that the president was meeting with his team and talking over that request from Russia.

I mean, incredibly, they do appear to have mulled over the possibility of doing this, handing the Americans over to the Russians.
In fairness, she did say "incredibly!" Even so, we're forced to tell you that that was embellishment all the way down. That said, there was more excitement to follow:
MADDOW: The White House this afternoon put out a short, very complimentary statement about Vladimir Putin's sincerity in making this request to get his fangs into former U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul and other U.S. officials who he wanted Trump to hand over on a platter. But despite the sincerity of Putin's request to have those Americans handed over, the White House announced that they have finally concluded at least this time, that we won't be sending anybody to them.
Maddow is a more skillful dissembler than Lawrence. But what you're seeing there is tribal excitement, and tribal embellishment, taking the place of information and fact, elements of the old order.

Was Matthews possibly the craziest player this night? Over the course of many years, no one did more to drive the demonology which would eventually let Trump slip past Hillary Clinton.

(Or to build the demonizations which let Bush slip by Gore. Matthews has the blood of thousands on his money-soaked hands. On the bright side, this made him quite rich.)

Matthews was a powerful player during that earlier period. For that reason, the children all knew they mustn't complain as he demonized both Clintons and Gore with years of lunatic statements.

But now, his craziness (and his trademark lack of preparation) had been redirected. They were invested in dumbing the liberal world down in the following ways:
MATTHEWS (7/19/18): What would [Trump officials] have done if Barack Obama had kowtowed to a Soviet or Russian leader, like this guy has, who suggested this subjecting American officials like our former ambassador McFaul to be dragged over to Moscow for interrogation?

MATTHEWS: The attacks, the suggestion that they want McFaul, former ambassador, to come back there and be investigated by the KGB like his crowd, that is how [Trump types] are.

MATTHEWS: Coming up, President Trump described it as an incredible offer, handing over U.S. citizens, including former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, to Vladimir Putin and the KGB for questioning in exchange for interviews with Russians.

MATTHEWS: Nobody's going to take us from anywhere outside the United States to justice. No American is going to be brought before some tribunal. And here's Trump letting this out that we might actually let our people, including our top State Department officials, be facing Russian justice under a KGB colonel.
People are dead all over the world because this disordered jackass played these games, for many years, against both Clintons and Gore. Now his disorder has been redirected, and we liberals say he's the best.

Your lizard brain is telling you that we have this totally wrong. That's the nature of lizard brains, and of our badly failed public culture in these, the last few years before The Dispositive War.

You can see what Presidents Nutcase and Insaner said in their public session. Then, you can see what a bunch of millionaire corporate wh*res told you the fellows had said.

Mercifully, Mister Trump's Fully Dispositive War brought all this to an end. We're told that future historians grudgingly cite this as his one achievement.

For today, we thought your lizard might need a good workout. For that reason, we showed you these quotes.

BREAKING: What we didn't do on our summer vacation!

FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018

Sullivan gets it right:
We took five books on our summer vacation, which lasted all of four days.

We didn't get around to rereading Nietzche's The Birth of Tragedy and The Genealogy of Morals, the subjects of a widely recycled freshman-year term paper we wrote a few years ago.

That said, Andrew Sullivan's portrait of the values of Donald J. Trump reminds us why we took it along. We offer the following excerpt, with one key passage highlighted:
SULLIVAN (7/20/18): Everything Trump did in Europe—every horrifying, sick-making, embarrassing expostulation—is, in some way, consistent, and predictable, when you consider how he sees the world. It’s not a plan or a strategy as such. Trump is bereft of the attention span to sustain any of those. It is rather the reflection of a set of core beliefs and instincts that have governed him for much of his life. The lies come and go. But his deeper convictions really are in plain sight.

And they are, at root, the same as those of the strongmen he associates with and most admires. The post-1945 attempt to organize the world around collective security, free trade, open societies, non-zero-sum diplomacy, and multicultural democracies is therefore close to unintelligible to him. Why on earth, in his mind, would a victorious power after a world war be generous to its defeated foes? When you win, you don’t hold out a hand in enlightened self-interest. You gloat and stomp. In Trump’s zero-sum brain—“we should have kept the oil!”—it makes no sense. It has to be a con. And so today’s international order strikes Trump, and always has, as a massive, historic error on the part of the United States.

There’s nothing in it for him to like. It has empowered global elites over national leaders; it has eroded national sovereignty in favor commerce and peace; it has empowered our rivals; it has spread liberal values contrary to the gut instincts of many ordinary people (including himself); it has led the U.S. to spend trillions on collective security, when we could have used that wealth for our own population or to impose our will by force on others; it has created a legion of free riders; it has enriched the global poor at the expense, as he sees it, of the American middle class; and it has unleashed unprecedented migration of peoples and the creation of the first truly multicultural, heterogeneous national cultures.
Nietzche thought "morals" were an extremely skillful trick through which the weak had gained control over the strong. This resembles the inner world Sullivan describes in his piece.

Concerning the one brief passage we highlighted:

We live in an extremely complex society. Its checks-and-balances are endlessly complex, bewilderingly ornate. Decades ago, changes in immigration laws served to create a much more complex "racial" mosaic.

We liberals are comfortable with this, if not more so. We aggressively hate those others who manage to linger a few steps behind our own incomparable greatness.

We love to talk about their alleged hate. Our own tribe's corresponding instincts go almost completely unnoticed—though only, of course, Over Here.

Concerning those ordinary people: It's one of the most revealing quotes of all time. It comes from Gene Brabender, quoted in Jim Bouton's classic book, Ball Four:

"Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that we start to hit."

That was the end of complex discussion out in the Pilots' bullpen. (Brabender was very large.)

Brabender would have been frustrated by the intricacies of our contemporary culture. His brain may have been wired a bit differently from yours. He might have been inclined to respect the rights and advantages of the strong. On that basis, our modern tribe would have known that we should rush to hate him.

He simply wasn't as good as we are. He wasn't as brilliant or worthy or fine. In such ways of reacting, our highly unimpressive tribe resembles one Donald J. Trump.

BREAKING: What we did on our noontime vacation!

FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018

John King racks up the votes:
We just spent the noontime hour watching John King and a panel of four discuss the new Trump sexy-time tape. It was 12:52 PM Eastern before anything else got discussed.

Putin was gone. Russia was gone. Those separated families were gone, as has been true for two weeks. Our team got to assemble an all-female panel to chat with King for the hour about who someone's girl friend was back in 2006.

With lots of photographs!

It was heaven! Why did we think we might be hearing the "ching-ching-ching" of Donald J. Trump racking up votes?

Over Here, we love this stuff! The segment—more accurately, the transcendently pointless group gossip session—looks like a gift from the gods.

But how does the segment look Over There? How does it look to The Others?

Over There, it looks like what it is. It looks like a bunch of pseudo-journalists seeking some point of utter trivia with which to bring someone down.

It almost looks like a budding witch hunt, conducted outside Salem Village. Did we actually hear the "ching-ching-ching" of their target racking up votes?

TRIBAL SNAPSHOTS: Antoinettes before the fall!

FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018

Part 4—A snapshot of Hamptons-based values:
After the past several "weeks that were," it's surely time to add to our storehouse of basic questions concerning Donald J. Trump.

Some cable pundits—not all—have begun to feel free with one obvious question:
Is Donald J. Trump being blackmailed or bribed by his best friend, Vladimir Putin?
Surely, though, it's time to add two other questions to our store. We've long recommended these questions:
Is it possible that Donald J. Trump is some version of "mentally ill?"

Is it possible that Donald J. Trump is intellectually impaired?
Surely it's time to consider those possibilities, despite what the New York Times says!

That said, Donald J. Trump isn't our only misfiring animal. The mental disorder of Donald J. Trump has long had its analogs within the mainstream press.

Mainstream pundits have been misfiring, out in the open, for a very long time now. Despite our self-proclaimed tribal brilliance, we liberals have often failed to see this. That doesn't mean that the highly visible malfunctioning hasn't occurred.

Even today, our most honored pundits may balk at raising the possibilities we've listed above. Why does Trump behave as he does? Consider what Charlie Sykes told Chris on Wednesday night:
MATTHEWS (7/18/18): Charlie, why is the president to keep doing this? I mean, he is an instinctive default thing. He goes back to the Russians are the good guys...His instinct is to say the Russians are the good guys. We are the bad guys.

This is a nationalistic president who says our nation is at fault. And the guys on the other side of the road, and the other side of what we always thought was the good guy-bad guy relationship, are the good guys. He always does it now—the Russians are right. Charlie, why?

SYKES: Well, you know, in part, I think because he is constitutionally incapable of acknowledging the severity of this attack. Because if he acknowledges that it is ongoing, if he acknowledges that, as Dan Coats says, this is a 9/11 type attack, then he has to acknowledge that what happened in 2016 was a big deal, and every instinct in his body is to dismiss it, is to you know, push it away, to say the investigation is a witch-hunt. And look, the Donald Trump you saw in Helsinki is the real Donald Trump. That's what he really believes.
"That's what Donald Trump really believes?" That's certainly possible, of course. But how do we know that he isn't simply being blackmailed by his new best friend?

Sykes still wasn't willing to go there, nor did Matthews challenge his answer. Even more strikingly, Jeffrey Toobin said this that same night:
COOPER (7/18/18): Well, it's also incredible, Jeff, that this is Day Three since—I mean, there was Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That summit was on Monday. We've now had three days for the White House, for the president to just very clearly, you know, stand with the intelligence agencies, stand with what he claims he believes, or the White House claims he believes. And every single time, he's either ad-libbing something, he is hedging it, he's flat-out saying no.

TOOBIN: He is giving us what he believes. I mean, you know, how obvious does it have to be that he doesn't believe that Putin is a liar, he doesn't believe that the intelligence community is right, that the Russians alone meddled in the election.

I mean, every opportunity he has, as you point out, to say straightforwardly, "This was a Russian effort to help me get elected," he doesn't say it. And the only explanation for why he doesn't say it is he doesn't believe it.
What did Trump hedge that day concerning Russian interference in 2016? Tobbin insisted it's what he believes, full stop.

That's the only possible explanation? At this point, after all this time, why would anyone say that?

How hopelessly do our pundits misfire? How limited are their skills? At the end of that same hour, Cooper interviewed Tony Schwartz, ghost writer of The Art of the Deal. Within a matter of minutes, Schwartz seemed to say that Trump believes every word he says, and that he's constantly lying.
SCHWARTZ (7/18/18): Here's the thing. You have to understand that Donald Trump, more so now than at any time during the presidency, but it's always been true, creates his own reality inside the bubble of his brain. And it is—has nothing to do with what's going on in the real world. It's whatever he says it is to himself at any given time.

So no, he doesn't say, "Lying is one of my strengths." He says quite the opposite. "Reality is one of my strengths, and the rest is fake news."

[...]

SCHWARTZ: What's so interesting about Trump in the way he deals with the truth is that, when he is in his most impulsive, reactive, angry moments that's when he tends to tell the truth. That's when he tends to actually say what he means, as he did at that news conference. When he is thinking about it, much less reading something, he is then almost always lying...

I believe that what reporters now need to start doing is saying in response to his outright and undeniable lies, "That's not true," and move on. Not debate the question of how could he see it that way or, for example, when he took back, you know, what he said at the press conference.

COOPER: Right.

SCHWARTZ: It was clearly a boldfaced lie. Why have hours and hours of discussion about it? You know what the proper response to it is? Trump lied again. Now let's move on.
He truly believes what he says; also, he's lying when he says it. Even after all these years, they strongly tend to function this way. As we'll let Professor Harari explain next week, it's all they were really built for.

(In fairness, you can possibly reconcile those statements. Given the speed of cable pseudo-discussion, no such effort was made.)

Yeats was "fastened to a dying animal;" the American public is too. The nightly performance of these forms is a study in the foolishness of the ancient claim that we are the "rational animals."

The analytical skills are very slight; the courage is frequently lacking. Then too, there's the monumental foppishness. Let's consider a snapshot or two from last weekend's New York Times.

The Times is our most foppish major newspaper by far. It's mental horizons are made in the Hamptons. Even as perdition rushes towards us, they simply can't stop publishing piddle like this, concerning Melania's wardrobe Over There:
FRIEDMAN (7/18/18): Most of the outfits effectively faded into the background. The exception was a minor stir about the pale yellow J. Mendel gown Mrs. Trump wore to the state dinner at Blenheim Palace, with its long flowing sleeves and pleated bodice, which briefly spurred comparisons to Belle from ''Beauty and the Beast'' (the Disney version) and gave rise to a few lackluster suggestions that perhaps Mrs. Trump was using her clothes to send a veiled message to her husband (after all, if she is Beauty ...).

Mostly, though, her outfits' overriding impact was polite and appropriate. They were tailored, but not too much. Buttoned up, but also feminine. Below the knee. Even the colors—pale pink, pale yellow, white, navy and beige (beige!)—were low-key. The clothes were elegant, but bland. They were notable largely for what they were not.

There were no statement hats, for example—not even in Britain, where, presumably, a hat might have made sense. Also no scrawled messages. No attempt at mixing in the accessibly priced item or two.

[...]

She did arrive in England in Roland Mouret, a French designer working in London who is a favorite of the new Duchess of Sussex, and she chose a striped Victoria Beckham dress for an appearance the following day.
The outfits faded into the background? If only FriedmanThink would! Meanwhile, beige! Also, there were no "statements hats," though she did please the Duchess of Sussex.

Friedman noted the mandatory inane musings concerning Beauty and the Beast. This is the way these life forms flail, even as Mister Trump's Fully Dispositive Global War approaches. The piece appeared on the front page of Thursday Styles, right next to the piece about tick bites—in the Hamptons, of course.

It isn't just that our floundering species donnt reely reezun reel gud; we're also born to fawn. At the upper ends of our social order, we're born to bow low to all that's foppish and faux.

Consider last Sunday's editions. Online, the Book Review was pimping this rather extensive list of "Summer Reading" selections. Even as perdition threatened, the categories offered were these:
Thrillers
Cooking
True Crime
Movies & TV
Romance
Travel
Music
The Great Outdoors
Sports
"The Great Outdoors?" one analyst scoffed. "By the time Mister Trump gets through, we'll have a lot more of that!"

More sensibly, we marvelled at the Book Review's list. Granted, "summer reading," almost by definition, is supposed to be easy and stupid. At a newspaper like the Times, summer's the season when the guild is told they can be even dumber than usual.

That said, we ourselves were struggling with Professor Harari, with comic relief from Professor Rovelli—and the end of the world was rushing forward. Might it have occurred to these types to include even one section like "Current Issues" or "Public Affairs" or even "Not Totally Mindless?"

Dearest darlings, this is the Times! In the face of the end of the world, Luther said he'd still work in his garden. At the Times, they continue to drag out Vanessa Friedman to talk about "statement hats."

We were struck by those reading selections, but then came the Sunday Review. The foppishness was general there. Some of the headlines were these:
I’ll Be Out in the Garden, De-stressing

Get Yourself a Giant Dog

Forget a Fast Car. Creativity Is the New Midlife Crisis Cure.

Taking Away the Phones Won’t Solve Our Teenagers’ Problems

I Didn’t Want Co-Sleeping to End

What Adults Can Learn From Dutch Children’s Books
Another hard-hitter started like this, headline included:
The World Cup Final Is Upon Us. What Have We Learned?

Here we are. The final match of the 2018 World Cup has almost arrived, and it has been as thrilling a tournament as I can remember. As Maximus, Russell Crowe’s character in “Gladiator,” famously yelled, “Are you not entertained?”
It didn't go on to offer a point. Meanwhile, on The Review's front page, in one of the paper's most high-profile venues, we got a long piece about "the New York Yankees and their fans." Along with which, Michiko Kakutani got the chance to type in her sleep about the wrongs of the Japanese Exclusion Act, which took effect in 1942.

Kakutani was all over last Sunday's Times. In the Book Review, she got to pen the standard self-praise about the way, when she was a child, "reading was a refuge and a magical form of transport to other worlds." She also got to hand us this piddle about her worthless new book:
KAKUTANI (7/15/18): In “The Death of Truth,” I wanted to look at how we got to where we are today—with reason, science and the rule of law under assault from a president who lies shamelessly and reflexively, and at least a third of the country willing to dwell in a world of “alternative facts.” In examining the fallout that dishonesty and the denial of objective truth are having on our democracy, I went back to the writings of thinkers like Hannah Arendt (“The Origins of Totalitarianism”) and George Orwell (“1984,” “A Collection of Essays”) who chronicled how cynicism and weariness and fear can make people susceptible to propaganda, and the lies and false promises of leaders bent on unconditional power.
So scripted, so tribally pleasing! Meanwhile, poor Kakutani! She "want[s] to look at how we got to where we are today—with reason, science and the rule of law under assault."

Our view? If you want to ponder that question, we'll recommend Kakutani's astounding 1999 review of Candidate Gore's 1992 book, Earth in the Balance. It may have been the craziest review of a book we've ever read, and it appearewd on the Times' front page. In each case, that's because it constituted a crazy campaign in the ongoing war which was being conducted, all over the Times, against the hated Candidate Gore, Bill Clinton's chosen successor.

Kakutani's sneering attack on reason and science helped send Bush to the White House. We're so old that we can remember when we liberals used to pretend that we cared about the war Kakutani helped give us through that astonishing front-page pseudo-review.

Today, the Times calls upon hacks like Kakutani to recite about Trump and Trump voters. Back then, the assault upon reason and science was being conducted by the Times, in part through a crazy pseudo-review.

The Sunday Review was instructive. One scribe didn't want co-sleeping to end. Another scribe recommends big dogs. A third will be out in the garden.

The war will begin while she's pulling those weeds. You see, Kakutani and her fiend, Maureen Dowd, helped send Donald J. Trump to the White House. The rest of the creatures are still crawling all over cable, pretending to sift the key facts.

Next week, we'll examine the species as shown by Harari. For today, we'll end with this "noteworthy fact" from today's page A3:
Of Interest
NOTEWORTHY FACTS FROM TODAY'S PAPER
Magic's version of the Oscars is called the Merlin Awards.
At the modern-day New York Times, that's called a "noteworthy fact."

Donald J. Trump may be stark raving mad. At the Times, that isn't a noteworthy fact. Early this year, the editorial board told the world that it can't be discussed at all!

Next week: Professor Harari explains Homo sapiens. Also, comic relief

TRIBAL SNAPSHOTS: Behaviors of a second band!

THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2018

Interlude—A snapshot of the press corps:
"How did it get so far?"

The question was first asked by Don Corleone, a business associate of Donald J. Trump's businessman father.

Today, the question is being asked again. There are several answers.

Last week's questioning of Agent Strzok highlighted a type of behavior our own tribe can't see. We refer to the decades of disdain our own tribe has showered on the ignorant hillbillies found Over There, the irredeemables spotted at Walmart.

According to communications from future anthropologists, that behavior was one of the strains which led the world to Mister Trump's Dispositive War. That foolish behavior is on us, the liberals.

That said, these future experts also point to the behavior of another roving band of this era. They talk about the sad behavior of the so-called mainstream press.

So sad! Even as we liberals laughed at the hillbilly ignorance found Over There, we ourselves were too dumb to see the role being played by those we trusted within that second band. To cite one awful example:

As of July 2018, we sat and watched, on our own cable channel, Lawrence, Brian and even Chris Matthews of a weeknight evening.
All three had played active, embarrassing roles in the earlier wars against Clinton, Clinton and Gore—the 25-year series of wars which finally allowed Mister Trump to squeeze past Hillary Clinton and find his way to the White House.

(Matthews had called her every misogynist name in the book. We were too stupid to notice, too hopelessly dumb to complain.)

Those journalists! Even as they aggressively worked to execute the demonization of Hillary Clinton, they dumbed the discourse way, way down, smoothing the way for the likes of Trump. This was especially true of Matthews, who was made rich by his owner, Jack Welch, as he launched a decade of attacks on the public's IQ.

We liberals didn't notice! We didn't notice the demonization; we didn't notice the dumbnification. We were too busy saying how dumb the hillbillies were Over There!

In this way, the demonology of the one roving band was enabled by the spectacular dumbness of the other. That said, the mainstream press corps was spectacularly incompetent too, during the age which was destined to end in Mister Trump's Score-Settling War of Extreme Resolution.

How persistently dumb was the mainstream press? Consider the uproar on cable last night—and consider today's New York Times.

Let's start with this morning's Times. Atop its front page, Landler and Sullivan write about Mister Trump's "swirl of confusion" over the past three days. But uh-oh!

Midway through their news report, they add today to their own band's swirl from the night before:
LANDLER AND SULLIVAN (7/19/18): Mr. Trump also came under sharp criticism for discussing an agreement with Mr. Putin under which Russian authorities would be allowed to question several American citizens it claims were involved in illegal dealings with a London-based financier and longtime critic of Mr. Putin, William F. Browder.

On Monday, Mr. Trump said Mr. Putin had made an “incredible” offer: to allow the special counsel in the Russia inquiry, Robert S. Mueller III, to interview 12 Russian military intelligence officers indicted last week on a charge of hacking the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 Clinton campaign, in return for access to these Americans.

Among the names on the list, a Russian official told the Interfax news agency, is that of Michael A. McFaul, who served as American ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama. Mr. McFaul was sharply critical of the Russian government during his posting in Moscow, and has continued to speak and write regularly about Mr. Putin.
That account is larded with confusion about what happened Monday in Helsinki.

It doesn't reflect what Putin says (in translation) in the transcript of Monday's press conference. For that reason, it doesn't reflect the nature of the "agreement" to which Trump didn't agree, though he dumbly called it an "incredible offer."

It doesn't explain who "the Interfax news agency" is. It doesn't explain that the recent statement to that news agency goes beyond what Putin said in the Helsinki presser, to which Trump responded with a typically brief and incoherent remark.

We've decided it would take a month to sort through all the confusion built into those three paragraphs from this morning's Times. But giving credit where credit is due, Landler and Sullivan finally managed to note the following, in paragraph 28:
LANDLER AND SULLIVAN: As a legal matter, Mr. Trump has no authority to force Mr. McFaul or any other American to face Russian questioning. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, and under a mutual legal assistance treaty between the countries, the Justice Department can reject any request relating to a case it deems politically motivated—a status it has long given to Russia’s case against Mr. Browder.
Duh! That is an obvious point. Did you see anyone make that obvious point on "cable news" last night?

Duh! There's no obvious way that Donald J. Trump could force McFaul, or anyone else, to submit to Russian questioning. There's certainly no obvious way he could force McFaul, or anyone else, to be hauled off to Mother Russia itself, to be questioned on that famous foreign soil.

All last evening, we waited for the children of cable to state this obvious point. Instead, the children voted for high excitement and for fever pitch.

The silliest framework may have been offered—where else?—on the Maddow Show, whose very peculiar cable news host framed the matter like this:
MADDOW (7/18/18): That went off like a rocket today. Here's a taste from Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell, saying online today:

Take this to the bank, Donald Trump. You turn over former ambassador McFaul to Putin, you can count on me and millions of others to swiftly make you an ex-president.

So we know how at least one member of Congress feels about this.
Swalwell was wonderfully brave. But how could Trump "turn over" McFaul to the Russian potentate? Rachel Maddow, Our Own Rhodes Scholar, was too dumb to raise this obvious point as the excitement went off like a cable news rocket.

The children of cable have played it this way for decades. Our favorite pseudoliberal stars demonized Clinton, Clinton and Gore for decades. Eventually, the weight of all these demonizations allowed the Trumpster to slip by Matthews' "Evita Peron" and make his way into the White House.

Over that twenty-five years of demonization, we brilliant liberals were too dumb to notice or to complain. We were too busy laughing about how stupid the hillbillies are!

We waited and waited and waited last night, wondering if anyone would state the obvious point. On what basis could Donald J. Trump "allow" the Russkies to interview McFaul? To hand him over to Vlad?

None of the children raised that point. It isn't what these idiots do. In the decades since since "cable news" began, it's not what they've ever done.

Last night offered one brief snapshot of the "mainstream press." Tomorrow, an embarrassing look at that prehuman band, drawn from its highest platform.

Tomorrow: A snapshot of last Sunday's Times

Only for people who read: We like to laugh about Donald J. Trump's lack of reading. For those who enjoy a good reading assignment, go ahead:

Peruse what Putin said in Helsinki. To what extent did his rather lengthy statement match the proposal Landler and Sullivan describe in this morning's Times?

Do you see McFaul mentioned at all? Do you see anything about Russkies questioning Americans?

Do you see anything about Mueller being "allowed to interview 12 Russian military intelligence officers?" Do you see anything about our people somehow being hauled Over There?

Meanwhile, on what basis would Trump be able to make any of this occur? In what way would he be able to "turn over" McFaul?

It's the world's most obvious question. But in the midst of all the excitement, did you see a single cable denizen ask that question last night?

Truly, it's all excitement now. Until you get to graf 28, it's thrills and chills all the way down.