Supplemental: The elderly viewers of Fox News!


The New York Times does it again:
Journalistically, we'd say that 2015 has been The Year of the Liberal.

We don't exactly mean that as a compliment. At any rate, we plan to explore this theme next week in an award-winning set of reports.

Today, a news report in the New York Times should be of interest to liberals. Apparently using data from Nielsen, the report attempts to quantify "cable news" viewership during this past year.

The famous newspaper bungles horribly as it attempts to do this. First, though, consider a basic framework which emerges from our liberal condescension and cluelessness, the potent forces which made this past year the journalistic Year of the Liberal.

If you frequent liberal sites and comment threads, you've read it more than once. We liberals love to chuckle and roll our eyes concerning the elderly nature of the Fox News audience.

We especially like to snark about the way that audience is literally dying out. We read a piece with that hook not long ago, we would guess at the new Salon, though the topic is hard to search for.

Whatever! In this morning's report, John Koblin attempts to review cable news viewership for the past year.

Koblin starts with some basic numbers for the three cable news nets. This being the New York Times, he uses the data to create a hopelessly bungled comparison:
KOBLIN (12/31/15): For the 14th consecutive year, Fox News led in total viewers and in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic crucial to advertisers. The network's average of 1.8 million viewers in prime time placed it second among all cable channels, the highest finish for a cable news channel ever. (ESPN came in first.)

CNN had strong growth, with a total-day average of 490,000 viewers, representing its highest viewership in six years and a 23 percent bump over last year. In the crucial 25-to-54 demographic it was up 18 percent, and the network also had gains of better than 30 percent in prime time in both total viewers and in the 25-to-54 segment.

MSNBC had a 2 percent increase in average viewers, to a total-day average of 352,000, but it struggled elsewhere. Coming off a rough performance in 2014, the channel lost an additional 19 percent of its viewers in the 25-to-54 demographic in prime time and 18 percent in that demographic in total-day viewers this year.
Simply put, the New York Times can't seem to help itself. Consider what Koblin and/or his editor have done:

In that passage, Koblin presents the average number of viewers for Fox News in prime time. He then presents the averages for CNN and MSNBC across the total day.

As any sentient being would know, this creates an utterly useless apparent comparison. We keep thinking we must have read this passage wrong. But sure enough, that's what the Times did.

Is any other major newspaper really this incompetent? We aren't able to answer that question. But the New York Times rarely fails to fail, often in the most obvious possible manner.

It gets worse! In his on-line report, Koblin offers one link during that passage. Pitifully, when we clicked the link, it took us back to Koblin's own report. There is no link, at any point, to the actual source of his data.

Adding to the clownishness, Koblin's on-line report includes a correction. Pitifully, here's what it says:
Correction: December 30, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the average number of prime-time viewers for Fox News. It had an average of 1.8 million viewers in prime time, not 1.1 million.
Initially, Koblin used the wrong number in forming his utterly bogus apparent comparison. But so it tends to go at our nation's newspaper of record.

Again, Koblin provides no link to his source of data, though you could probably find it. (We'll try to do so later today.) That said, he offers this about MSNBC as he stumbles ahead:
KOBLIN (continuing directly): MSNBC had a 2 percent increase in average viewers, to a total-day average of 352,000, but it struggled elsewhere. Coming off a rough performance in 2014, the channel lost an additional 19 percent of its viewers in the 25-to-54 demographic in prime time and 18 percent in that demographic in total-day viewers this year.

But toward the end of the year, MSNBC began to shift to a strategy that had been successful for CNN and Fox News throughout the year, with a greater emphasis on breaking news. Over the summer, MSNBC scrapped its left-leaning afternoon lineup and made Brian Williams a breaking-news anchor, after his half-year suspension from NBC News.
Did the shift away from 24-hour propaganda help MSNBC's ratings? Koblin doesn't explicitly say so; we ourselves have no idea. Nor do we know of any good reason to assume that his figures are accurate!

That said, we will assume that the shift toward "breaking news" may help explain the giant dumbnification of The Rachel Maddow Show, a dumbnification which became most obvious, and became quite astounding, starting in early May. We'll review this dumbnification in next week's award-winning set of reports

Let's get back to the basics:

We'll guess that Fox News still laps the field in terms of overall viewers. But what about the claim we liberals often advance—the claim that the Fox News audience is literally dying out?

Koblin touched on that topic late in his piece. We'll highlight the relevant numbers, which are similar to numbers for these three cable nets in past years:
KOBLIN: The cable news channels, however, still tend to skew older: The median age for CNN viewers this year was 61, while it was 63 for MSNBC and 67 for Fox News.

''What they all would like to have is a somewhat younger audience,'' Mr. Heyward said. ''That remains a difficult challenge. But certainly this extraordinary confluence of news events is enormously beneficial.''

Fox News had an average of 207,000 total-day viewers in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic, compared to CNN's 149,000 and MSNBC's 89,000.
According to Koblin, Fox's elderly, creaking audience is dying out at a median age of 67. At a median age of 63, MSNBC's youthful gang "has only just begun."

Recently, for the ten millionth time, we encountered a jibe about the way the Fox News crowd is dying out. For that reason, we were struck by these data, which may even be accurate, since they're similar to past data from the cable news nets.

Journalistically, we'd have to say that 2015 has been The Year of the Liberal (and often, The Year of Liberal Indifference Concerning the Inexcusably Broken and Broken-Souled New York Times). More specifically, it has been the year when our tribe's ongoing project of dumbnification became most clear and complete.

On balance, we have a hard time believing that this project serves progressive interests. That said, it never occurs to us in our tribe that we liberals might play some role in our nation's failure to attain more progressive social arrangements—in our failure to attain universal health care, to cite one glaring example.

It can't be Us—it has to be Them! Tribal groups have always reasoned this way, all around the world.

All next week, we'll review the year in journalism as conducted by Us. At any rate, on the brighter side, They're dying out Over There!

We read it, for the ten millionth time, in just the past couple of weeks. Today, in the pitiful New York Times, we seemed to read that it ain't exactly necessarily so.

Still coming: What are Trump voters like?

For extra credit only: What are Trump voters like? For some pleasing work on this subject, we'll recommend today's pseudo-analysis piece in the Times.

The New York Times rarely fails to fail. That piece strikes us as quite weak.

Supplemental: The New York Times on the Trump budget plan!


What, them report matters of substance?
How does the New York Times cover our White House campaigns?

In the most fatuous way they can manage! Consider some recent examples.

Last Saturday, the famous newspaper published a 1200-word news report about Candidate Bush's sense of humor out on the campaign trail. Featuring a large photograph of the jocular hopeful, the report filled the top half of the paper's page A13.

This morning, the presidential campaign appears on the paper's front page. And dearest darlings, how delish! In a 1400-word news report, Amy Chozick thrashes back through the Lewinsky affair as she discusses the claim that such events will be "fair game" in next year's general election.

We'd have to put Chozick on our list of nominees for Worst Journalist of the Year. This morning, she misses few talking-points, no matter how silly or frivolous.

In fairness, she does omit Marla Maple's famous statement, teased to the surface by Diane Sawyer, that her sexual congress with Trump was "the best sex I've ever had." Chozick omits little else.

Below, you see the way the Times fatuous star begins today's news report. All this text appears on the paper's front page:
CHOZICK (12/30/15): When scandal engulfed Mr. Clinton's White House, Mr. Trump leapt to the president's defense. ''He's probably got the toughest skin I've ever seen, and I think he's a terrific guy,'' Mr. Trump told CNN.

Then there were Mr. Trump's pitches to the former president to settle in a gilded Trump building in Manhattan when he and Hillary Clinton left the White House. They moved to Westchester instead. His overtures for them to vacation at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., were also rebuffed. The Clintons preferred the Dominican Republic.

When Mr. Clinton had trouble joining a conservative Westchester golf club, Mr. Trump boasted that he welcomed the former president to a newly built Trump National Golf Club, a five-minute drive from the Clintons' Chappaqua, N.Y., home.

''He's a great gentleman, a good golfer and a wonderful guy,'' the real estate developer said of Mr. Clinton, who, in reality, is a so-so golfer known for taking mulligans.
By paragraph 4, Chozick is repeating the hoary old chestnut about Bill Clinton being "known for taking mulligans." Plus, he's only "a so-so-golfer," the fatuous scribe reports.

This is the way this pitiful newspaper covers our White House campaigns.

On Monday, we raised a question. The Times had devoted 1200 words to Candidate Bush's sense of humor. How many words had the paper devoted to Candidate Trump's formal (and ludicrous) budget plan, which the ludicrous candidate released on September 28, more than three months ago?

According to several major analyses, the ludicrous plan would massively swell the federal government's annual deficits. The Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning group, had presented one such analysis back in September. Last week, the Tax Policy Center, a liberal-leaning group, had presented a similar analysis.

According to the Tax Policy Center, the candidate's ludicrous budget proposal would increase federal deficits by $11.2 trillion over the next ten years. Plus or minus a couple of nickels and dimes, the Tax Foundation reached the same judgment back in the fall.

By way of contrast, Candidate George Bush's much-discussed tax cut proposal in Campaign 2000 was projected to cost the federal government only $1.6 trillion over its first ten years—and his proposal came at a time of large projected budget surpluses. Trump's proposal is crazily larger than Bush's earlier, widely-discussed budget plan.

Given its projected effects on federal balance sheets, Trump's proposal is ludicrous, crazy. It's the work of a con man, a numbskull, a fraud.

That said, how many words has the New York Times devoted to this matter as its collection of nitwits and hacks have rummaged through former presidents' mulligans and current candidates' senses of humor? How often have New York Times subscribers read about this ludicrous aspect of the Trump budget proposal?

They've read about Bush's sense of humor. How about Trump's "budget plan?"

Our answer: To all intents and purposes, Times subscribers have never read about this aspect of the Trump budget plan. To all intents and purposes, they've never read about the analyses conducted by the Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center.

As noted, Trump's proposal was released on September 28. The next day, on September 29, the Times presented a news report which noted that the proposal "would grow budget deficits by trillions of dollars over a decade"—full stop.

In that initial news report, Josh Barro made no attempt to say how many trillions were involved. To read Barro's perfectly competent next-day report, just click here.

(Warning! According to an appended notation on Nexis, you'll be reading "a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.")

In that September 29 report, Barro said that Trump's proposal "would grow budget deficits by trillions of dollars over a decade"—full stop. At that point, this important topic ceased to exist in New York Times news reporting.

On Friday, October 2, Paul Krugman wrote an op-ed column saying that Trump's proposal would "lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit."

"For what it's worth, it looks as if Trump's plan would make an even bigger hole in the budget than Jeb's," Krugman added, offering no further information about the size of budget holes in question.

Krugman is a columnist, not a news reporter. And alas! The Times has offered no further reporting about the Trump proposal.

No news report has ever explained how many trillions in deficit spending are involved in Trump's ludicrous budget proposal. No news report has ever attempted to put the numbers into some sort of useful context—by comparing it to the size of previous budget plans; by explaining what annual deficits would look like with and without Trump's proposal.

According to the Nexis archives, the projected size of Candidate Trump's new deficit spending has been mentioned just once in the hard-copy Times. It happened on Sunday, October 4, in Barro's "Economic Scene" column, which appeared on page 3 of the paper's "Sunday Business" section.

Below, you see the relevant text. According to the Nexis archives, this is the only time the New York Times has published the relevant figure, whether from the Tax Foundation or the Tax Policy Center:
BARRO (10/4/15): In the 1998 film ''There's Something About Mary,'' there is a scene where Ben Stiller's character picks up a hitchhiking drifter. The drifter explains that he's really a businessman, and he has an idea that will someday make him a fortune: Seven-Minute Abs, a home exercise video that will produce the same great results as Eight-Minute Abs, but in one minute less.

Mr. Stiller's character responds that it sounds like a great idea, unless someone comes out with Six-Minute Abs. The drifter, played by Harland Williams, gets angry. ''Nobody's coming up with six! Who works out in six minutes? You won't even get your heart going!''

With my apologies in advance for comparing him to an unhinged drifter, this is roughly what happened to Jeb Bush in September.

He came out with the tax policy version of Seven-Minute Abs: a plan to cut taxes by $3 trillion to $4 trillion over a decade, with no need to worry about the budget because he'll produce 4 percent economic growth. Just like Seven-Minute Abs, it's so easy, you might not even believe it's possible!

Then Donald Trump responded with essentially the same plan, but bigger: $11 trillion in tax cuts; economic growth as high as 6 percent; the biggest, classiest, most luxurious plan you've ever seen. Six. Minute. Abs.
According to the Nexis archives, that represents the only time the New York Times has quantified the deficit spending which would result from Candidate Trump's crazy budget proposal. Presumably, Barro was working from the Tax Foundation analysis, although he didn't specifically say.

According to the Nexis archives, that represents the only occasion on which a Times subscriber has been exposed to that astonishing number. And good God:

To be exposed to that number in so fleeting a fashion, subscribers had to read an analysis column on page 3 of that Sunday Business section. No front-page reporting allowed! Darlings, what a consummate buzzkill!

This morning, on the Times front page, we get to hear the delicious old clunker about Bill Clinton's mulligans. Meanwhile, to all intents and purposes, the famous newspaper has never stooped to the task of reporting the basic facts about Candidate Trump's ludicrous budget proposal.

Dearest darlings, the New York Times avoids such topics as Dracula shrank from the cross. This morning, the paper is back to its cherished Lewinsky tales. Those tales appear on the paper's front page, where the craziest budget proposal in history has never been allowed to intrude.

Last week, the Tax Policy Center seconded the earlier analysis by the Tax Foundation. Trump's proposal will cost the federal government $11.2 trillion over ten years, the TPC said. It would produce more than a trillion dollars in new deficit spending every single year!

It's been more than a week since that analysis appeared. Like the Tax Foundation analysis before it, it hasn't been mentioned in the hard-copy Times.

Instead, we got a full news report about Bush's sense of humor. And dearest darlings! Miss Lewinsky is back!

Branding and marketing to the side, the New York Times is our nation's dumbest newspaper. Our liberal world has been happy with this state of affairs for several decades now.

Blog post only: The analysis by the Tax Policy Center did get mentioned last week, but only in a Times blog post by Alan Rappeport.

The post ran 573 words. Rappeport offered this somewhat strange formulation:

"According to analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the cuts would mean nearly $25 trillion in lost government revenue over the next 20 years, and swell the ratio of debt to gross domestic product from about 74 percent to 180 percent."

Everything said there is accurate. That said, it's strange to report the twenty-year outlook while omitting the more conventional (and more reliable) ten-year analysis. And by the way:

The Tax Policy Center actually said that Trump's proposal would increase deficit spending by $34.1 trillion over those twenty years. Rappeport reported the smaller number (revenue lost), rather than the more significant number (added deficit spending), which includes added interest costs.

Candidate Bush's sense of humor got 1200 words in the hard-copy Times, accompanied by a large photograph of the funnin' hopeful. The craziest budget proposal in history got less than half as many words—and only on-line, of course.

This is the way the New York Times plays. Only a failed and failing people would tolerate such a long-running disgrace.

Supplemental: Fatal shootings involving toy guns!


One wasn’t the loneliest number:
The first thing we read this morning was Leon Neyfakh’s report at Slate. It concerned the decision not to prosecute the officers involved in the shooting death of Tamir Rice.

Neyfakh started as shown below. We were struck by the highlighted passage:
NEYFAKH (12/29/15): The two police officers involved in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland will not be charged with a crime, officials announced Monday. Timothy Loehmann, a rookie officer, shot Rice on Nov. 22 after he and his partner, Frank Garmback, confronted the boy at a park in response to a 911 call about a man with a gun.

It turned out that the gun Rice was carrying was not real—a fact that has made the tragedy of his death stand out from the many other cases of police-involved shootings in recent months.
We were surprised, and not surprised, by the highlighted passage. It can perhaps be described as “technically accurate,” depending on how kind you are.

As Neyfakh correctly notes, “the gun Rice was carrying was not real.” But according to the Washington Post, that situation obtained in 32 fatal shootings by police in the course of the past year. Videotape of at least one of those shootings can be found on YouTube.

You can perhaps defend Neyfakh’s presentation as technically accurate. A person could also respond by asking a question:

The Washington Post has performed a major service by compiling its data base on fatal shootings by police. Why don’t the nation’s journalists use that data base?

Different people might answer that question in different ways. For ourselves, we’re shoveling in the cold frozen north in the hope of making our way to the Amtrak station at an undisclosed location.

Tomorrow, we’ll return to the question of the New York Times’ coverage of Candidate Trump’s budget proposal. Meanwhile, if you want more information about those 32 fatal shootings, you can find it here.

(The Post includes a short description of each of the fatal shootings, plus a statistical breakdown. Click on the words “Toy weapon.”)

The Post has performed a valuable service by compiling that data base this year. They make it hard to find at their site. If you click that link, you’ll be there.

Our own incomparable ruling: For ourselves, we wouldn’t be inclined to describe Slate’s presentation as “technically accurate.”

Our expectations are higher than that! We’d be inclined to rate it “highly misleading” and therefore “essentially wrong.”

Also perhaps as “the same old same old,” given the shape of the times and the shape of the stories we’re preferentially told.

Supplemental: The latest important report from the Times!


Jeb Bush’s sense of humor:
Given our broken press corps culture, how do our biggest, smartest newspapers cover our White House campaigns?

Consider the latest important report which appeared in the New York Times.

The important report appeared in Saturday’s hard-copy editions. It was written by Matt Flegenheimer, who’s four years out of college (Penn).

Flegenheimer’s important report appeared beneath this hard-copy headline: “Bush Camp Suggests (Very) Secret Weapon: Its Candidate Is Funny.” The report was accompanied by a large photograph of Candidate Bush striking a comical pose.

(On line, a caption says that the photograph shows Bush “performing a faux striptease.” Good solid enjoyable fun!)

Flegenheimer’s important report ran almost 1200 words. It started off like this:
FLEGENHEIMER (12/26/15): The hints of irreverence can be traced to a private meeting in Coral Gables, Fla., with the soon-to-be presidential candidate and his rapper acquaintance.

Jeb Bush had grown fond of Pitbull, the Miami performer gone global, who seemed to share his zeal for education policy. But Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, had a question: Why the stage name? The artist replied that a friend had suggested it years ago while they were en route to a pit-bull fight.

“Well,” Mr. Bush replied at their meeting early this year, “good thing you weren’t on the way to a cockfight.”

As his campaign has struggled to rejuvenate a languishing bid, some close to him have suggested the existence of a (very) secret weapon: It is at least possible that Jeb Bush is funny.
Flegenheimer’s important report concerned Candidate Bush’s sense of humor on the campaign trail. Our young analysts screamed and wailed as we forced them to read the important report. Several of the youngsters writhed as they read this puzzling passage:
FLEGENHEIMER: As Mr. Bush’s poll numbers have lagged, the bids for laughs have proliferated.

He has tried physical comedy: “Are you doing a photo bomb there?” he asked in Raymond, N.H., striking a hammy pose when someone pointed at a camera. “You’re welcome.”

He has been whimsical with animals: “It’s a girl,” he said on Tuesday in Littleton, N.H., surprised to hear that a voter’s large dog was named Amy. “It looks like a boy for some reason.”
“It looks like a boy for some reason?” Why did Flegenheimer treat that remark as a “bid for laughs” at all?

Inquiring minds wanted to know. We didn’t know what to tell them.

In fairness, this utterly pointless important report can’t be blamed on the young scribe who wrote it. Presumably, some editor directed Flegenheimer to examine this utterly pointless topic. In its focus on silly human interest, this latest report captures the way our most famous newspaper covers our White House campaigns.

The reigning culture of the Times was on display in that piece. As we read it, a question popped into our heads.

Last week, the Tax Policy Center presented its analysis of Candidate Trump’s formal budget proposal. We couldn’t help wondering:

Has our nation’s most famous newspaper covered that topic at all?

Trump released his crazy budget proposal on September 28. At that time, did the Times report the analysis of the plan which came from the Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning org? Has the Times reported last week’s analysis from the Tax Policy Center, a liberal-leaning entity?

All too often, we liberals have a hard time seeing how fatuous Times culture actually is. In various ways, the famous newspaper brands itself as the nation’s smartest newspaper. We consumers may tend to buy the branding. In the process, we tend to accept the implied compliment directed at us, the brilliant, discerning Times readers.

Last Saturday, Times readers suffered through 1200 words about Candidate Bush’s sense of humor. That said, Bush is practically out of the race at this point. Candidate Trump seems to be heading toward nomination.

Our question: How many words has the New York Times spent on Trump’s crazy budget proposal? Tomorrow, we’ll start to answer that question.

On Wednesday, we’ll be back on our sprawling campus, where we intend to finish last week’s award-winning report:

What are Trump voters actually like? Are they a bunch of dumb bigots?

Visit our incomparable archives: Last Wednesday, Christina Bellantoni suggested it’s basically silly to cover the Trump budget plan.

He probably won’t win, she told Lawrence O’Donnell. And if he wins, Congress probably won’t pass his budget plan. So really, why bother?

(Also, Governor Brown is in love with big taxes! For some reason, she threw that claim in.)

To see the way our “mainstream journalists” increasingly reason about such matters, see last Thursday’s post. In our view, Bellantoni’s presentation was surpassingly strange—strange and, alas, revealing.

Supplemental: Ghosts of several Christmases past!


Bellantoni and Trump and a child:
Not that many years ago, Christina Bellantoni was herself a ten-year-old child.

She wasn't yet the presentable, skilled, acceptable person who appeared on last evening's Last Word, where she talked The Crazy away.

To his credit, Lawrence O'Donnell almost noted the craziness of Candidate Trump's tax proposal. He didn't say that Trump's proposal is crazy, but he almost came close.

(To watch the whole segment, click here.)

Then Lawrence threw to Bellantoni. In line with current press corps culture, she began talking The Crazy away:
O'DONNELL (12/23/15): Christina, this is one of those things where the only economic plan he has is his tax plan and the only thing he does is explode the deficit and the debt.

BELLANTONI: It's yuuuge.

O'DONNELL: Yes. It is huge.

Bellantoni started with a stock joke. After that, she got down to script—to the script, and the values, of her devolving guild:
BELLANTONI (continuing directly): In some ways, it's important for campaigns to put out policy statements like this, and to put, you know, things behind the statements that they make. But Congress deals with tax policy. And if Donald Trump somehow became president and the Congress that exists today is the Congress that would be there in 2017, they're not going to pass a tax plan like this.

And so, you know, it is good to look at an analysis of this. I think that it is important information to say, you know, that that debt would be there until 2036, you know, according to this estimate. But it actually won't become reality. And he probably also is not becoming president.
Bellantoni wasn't done yet. We already thought her presentation was remarkable, though you really have to watch the tape to see how smoothly this all goes down.

As we noted yesterday, Candidate Trump has presented a "budget plan" which is manifestly Crazy. Even as he complains about the federal debt, his proposed tax cuts go beyond any previous large proposed cuts, by several orders of magnitude.

Even as Trump complains about the national debt, his proposal would add more than a trillion dollars to the annual deficit in each of the next ten years. In our view, Bellantoni's reaction to this craziness was striking.

"What, us discuss this?" she basically said. She said it isn't much worth discussing Trump's plan because, she says, Congress wouldn't pass such a proposal.

Also, Trump won't likely get elected! So why should we journalists waste our time discussing his crazed budget plan?

You really have to watch the tape to see the smooth and measured way Bellantoni disappears The Crazy. In a skilled, presentable way, she talked away The Crazy away. She and Lawrence talked away the idea that Trump's crazy "tax plan" matters—that it even deserves to be discussed.

He probably isn't going to win! So why discuss his plan?

Bellantoni went on to make things worse, letting us know, in her smooth, dulcet tones, that Democrats and Republicans have very different approaches to taxation. What follows is cosmically awful, heinous:
BELLANTONI (continuing directly): But you know, it's important to point out that Democrats and Republicans have fundamental differences when it comes to how you tax and how you spend.

Right here in California, Governor Jerry Brown has been very clear, we're going to tax people a lot.
And we're going to do a lot for the state and try to plug some of our holes. And whether or not that is working, that's a debate for another day. But Republicans and Democrats are clearly different on this issue.
Boys and girls, that's how it's done!

Just like that, Bellantoni moved away from a crazy proposal by Trump to a standard statement of moral equivalence between the two major parties. She moved from Trump to Jerry Brown, a person who isn't running for president.

She declared that Governor Brown is "going to tax people a lot." Her main point? It's important to know that Democrats and Republicans have fundamental differences when it comes to how you tax and spend!

Trust us—whatever Brown has proposed, it isn't fundamentally crazy, the way Trump's proposal is. But just like that, Bellantoni slid away from the presidential front-runner with the utterly crazy proposal.

"Republicans and Democrats are clearly different on this issue," she now said. This hid the fact that Trump's proposal is "clearly different," to the point of The Crazy, from past GOP proposals.

Just like that, Lawrence joined in. This too was strikingly awful:

"And Howard Dean, there wouldn't be a—Donald Trump wouldn't lose a single voter over any report indicating that his tax plan might not work," Lawrence now said, chuckling as he did.

"I agree," Howard Dean weirdly said. It's a way of denigrating Trump voters, our tribe's most sacred value.

Donald Trump's tax plan might not work? He wouldn't lose a single voter? We have no idea why an actual journalist would say such a thing. Truth to tell, this corporate guild is just endlessly daft.

At any rate, in her cultured, presentable way, Bellantoni had talked The Crazy away. To all intents and purposes, she and Lawrence talked away the idea that Trump's crazy "tax plan" even deserves to be discussed.

As of this, the current Christmas Eve, the "press corps" has devolved to this new level—to the point where statements like Bellantoni's are the established guild norm. Our "press corps" has reached the point where the most explicit of a candidate's major proposals aren't even worthy of being discussed.

After all, Congress won't pass it! Inferentially, Governor Brown seems to be just as bad!

The fact that the proposal in question is Crazy didn't seem to enter Bellantoni's spotless head. In truth, her guild no longer discusses such matters. She smoothly gave voice to the culture of the guild into which she has worked her way.

Why bother discussing Trump's crazy plan? Bellantoni's reassuring speech is a Ghost of Christmas Present. This is the way our "press corps" currently works.

In its current state of devolution, our "press corps" labors over each new poll, most of which say the same thing as the previous poll they labored over. Crazed proposals are beneath their concern. The Bellantonis know this.

It wasn't this way in the not too distant past. This is the latest form of their ongoing devolution.

By and large, the mainstream "press corps" is upset with Candidate Trump. Weirdly, though, they aren't upset with his crazy budget proposal.

They're upset with the fact that he said the word "schlonged." They're upset with the fact that he says crazy things about Candidate Clinton and bathrooms (if that's what he actually meant).

They aren't upset with a tax proposal which is manifestly crazy. The guild no longer stoops to discuss craziness of that type.

What's the probable reason for their concern about "schlonged?" This form of The Crazy doesn't come from their own guild playbook! On Christmas Eves past, the press corps has been perfectly happy to emit the ugly and crazy themselves. But such emanations must accord with their own sacred scripts.

On Christmas Eve 1999, a major figure at the Washington Post emitted a bit of The Ugly and Crazy. The item below was ugly and stupid, but it came directly from the guild's preferred narratives:
KAMEN (12/24/99): One of the more heartwarming traditions of Christmas is opening dozens and dozens of inspiring cards from people and institutions you don't know.

So when colleagues here received their Christmas cards from Vice President Gore, each one individually machine signed, they were delighted. But there was something odd about the picture on the front. Gore and family seemed to have been pasted on to the pasture background. Something like those presidential cardboard cutouts for tourist snapshots on Pennsylvania Avenue.

A phony Christmas card? From the candidate who's trying so hard to be real? The newsroom was stunned. So we checked with Post photo chief Joe Elbert. "It looks totally fake," he assured us after studying it closely, "but it's quite real." There was something about how outdoor lighting can create that effect.

The shot was taken by a private photographer at the farm in Carthage, Tenn., in the fall.

Alas. Even when he's real, he looks phony. Must be a campaign metaphor in there somewhere.
For our real-time report, just click here.

"Must be a campaign metaphor in there?" Indeed! By the rules which then obtained within this horrible, crazy guild, Candidate Gore was fake and phony in every conceivable way. By rule of law, everything had to display that fact, even his family's Christmas card.

Even on Christmas Eve!

That was an ugly, stupid column in the Washington Post. Candidate Trump has also been ugly and stupid this week. But the "press corps" rebels against forms of The Stupid which don't comport with their scripts.

By now, the press corps has abandoned any pretense of caring about silly things like budget proposals. When Trump emits The Crazy within that realm, a cultured guild member appears to say it doesn't matter.

Bellantoni's a Ghost of Christmas Present, Kamen of Christmas Past. People are dead all over the world because he and his colleagues kept pimping that "fake and phony" script for the next eleven months, having already dumped nine months of that script on the world.

These are the ghosts of a subhuman guild—but a guild to which liberal stars defer. Your top liberal stars will never tell you about the horrible things this guild and its members have done.

Bellantoni grew up San Jose; she graduated from Berkeley in 2001. Perhaps on Christmas Eve 1990, she was a ten-year-old girl, not yet a cultured careerist.

On Tuesday, the New York Times brought us the ghost of a ten-year-old child from Christmas Eve 1907. The report appeared on the paper's front page, written by Corey Kilgannon.

Kilgannon's report concerns a letter Mary McGann, then aged ten, wrote to Santa Claus. Apparently, children left their letters to Santa Claus on the mantle in those days.

Mary McGann's letter to Santa turned up many years later. According to Kilgannon, letters from Mary McGann and her younger brother, Alfred McGann, got sealed inside their apartment's chimney when it was sealed with brick. They were discovered in 1999 or 2000, when the current owner of the building did a renovation.

According to Kilgannon's report, Mary McGann's letter was addressed to Santa in "Reindeerland." She had drawn a reindeer stamp to serve as postage.

Mary McGann was still a child; she wasn't a cultured upper-class press corps hack. Kilgannon's report appeared on the Times' front page because of the ten-year-old's values:
KILGANNON (12/22/15): The family lived at 447 West 50th Street, where Mr. Mattaliano now lives in a fourth-floor apartment filled with books on acting and mementos from his days as a fast-pitch knuckleballer.

[The children's father] died in 1904, so by the time the children wrote the letters left in the chimney, they were being raised by Ms. McGann, a dressmaker.

Mary’s letter is as poignant as Alfred’s is endearing.

“Dear Santa Claus: I am very glad that you are coming around tonight,” it reads, the paper partly charred. “My little brother would like you to bring him a wagon which I know you cannot afford. I will ask you to bring him whatever you think best. Please bring me something nice what you think best.”

She signed it Mary McGann and added, “P.S. Please do not forget the poor.”
Apparently, someone had told this child that Santa Claus couldn't afford the wagon to which she referred. As Kilgannon continued, he let the current owner of the letter evaluate its contents:
KILGANNON (continuing directly): Mr. Mattaliano, who has read the letter countless times, still shakes his head at the implied poverty, the stoicism and the selflessness of the last line, all from a girl who requests a wagon for her brother first and nothing specific for herself.

“This is a family that couldn’t afford a wagon, and she’s writing, ‘Don’t forget the poor,’” he said. “That just shot an arrow through me. What did she think poor was?”
What is poverty? We'll suggest it's defined by the words we saw Bellantoni speak last night. Because she's cultured, practiced, cheerful, refined, we'll guess her slippery words slid down for Lawrence's cable viewers.

In that same day's New York Times, David Brooks aligned himself with the Grinch who stole Thoreau this year. He listed the year's best long-form essays, rruelly including this:
BROOKS (12/22/15): For centuries Americans have been reading the hyper-individualistic purity of Henry David Thoreau’s life on Walden Pond—the way he cut himself off from crass commercialism and lived on a pure spiritual plane. Writing in The New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz points out in “Pond Scum” that Thoreau was a misanthropic, arrogant, self-righteous prig. He was coldhearted in the face of others’ suffering. Highly ascetic, he sustained the shallow American tendency to equate eating habits with moral health.

He tried philanthropic enterprises but found they did “not agree with my constitution.” Schulz accurately notes that Thoreau’s most famous sentence, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” is at once insufferable and absurd.
We'll stand with one of Thoreau's less famous sentences. "Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts," the shallow ascetic said.

Sell you clothes—and keep your thoughts? Within the guild, all thoughts come from the mind of the guild. If you recite those mandated thoughts, you'll soon be found on the TV machine wearing a fine suit of clothes.

Last night, Bellantoni stuck to the script. Christmas was only two days away. We'd say her hair was perfect.

Supplemental: The verifiable shape of The Crazy!


Candidate Trump's "budget plan:"
Over at TPM, Josh Marshall continues his etymological pursuit of Candidate Trump's new number-one favorite word.

Not that there's anything wrong with it! Meanwhile, in the Washington Post, we get to peruse the verifiable shape of The Crazy.

At long last, the Tax Policy Center has released its analysis of Candidate Trump's lunatic "budget plan." Kelsey Snell's news report is buried deep inside this morning's paper.

The numbers are crazily large:
SNELL (12/23/15): Donald Trump says he wants to cut taxes for every income level, but that plan could cost the federal government $9.5 trillion over 10 years and send the national debt through the roof.

A new analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that Trump’s plan to cut tax rates for all individuals could create big incentives to save and invest, but it also would add lots of red ink to the government’s books by 2026, violating Trump’s pledge to cut rates without adding to the debt or deficit.


His plan would cut the top rate for individuals from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, set a top business tax rate of 15 percent and eliminate the estate tax. Trump has said he would offset the cost of the tax cuts by eliminating most deductions for individuals and businesses and imposing a one-time tax on corporate assets held abroad. But the center included these changes in its calculations and still found Trump’s proposal would cost $9.5 trillion.

Analysts at the Tax Policy Center, a partnership between the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, agreed that lower rates would encourage savings and investment but they found that cutting federal revenue by $9.5 trillion would force the government to borrow trillions of dollars to operate. When you include the cost of servicing that debt, the center said Trump’s plan would cost $11 trillion over 10 years.
Let's get clear on what those numbers mean:

According to the Tax Policy Center, the Trump proposal would reduce revenue to the federal government by $9.5 trillion in its first ten years of operation.

This would requite massive new borrowing, which adds to "the cost of servicing" the national debt. When those new borrowing costs are added in, the plan would swell the national debt by $11 trillion over ten years.

How crazy is this crazy proposal? As a basic frame of reference, let's compare those numbers to the numbers associated with Candidate Bush's tax cut plan during Campaign 2000. How does Trump's "budget plan" compare to Candidate Bush's proposal, around which so much of Campaign 2000 was fought?

According to the standard projections, the Bush proposal was expected to reduce federal revenue by $1.3 trillion over its first ten years. With the cost of new borrowing added it, it was projected to cost the federal government $1.6 trillion in all.

The overall cost of the Trump "plan" is almost seven times as large. That $1.6 trillion overall cost has swollen to $11 trillion.

Even if we adjust for the growth in the size of the economy, this "budget plan" would seem to qualify as insane. Also insane: the fact that a plan like this has been proposed with barely a word of comment from our slumbering national "press corps," mainstream and pseudo-liberal.

One last point. Back in 1999, Candidate Bush's budget plan was proposed at a time of large projected federal budget surpluses. Despite that fact, the size of his proposed tax cuts produced a great deal of discussion and debate.

Trump has proposed his ginormous cuts at a time of projected deficits. But in the death spiral of our national discourse, his crazy plan has come and gone with barely a word of comment.

Our "news" is all entertainment now. People, let's talk about "schlonged!"

For musical accompaniment only: "So long, it's been good to know yuh." We believe Woody Guthrie said that.

THE CASE OF POTENTIAL PRESIDENT TRUMP: We scan the brains of The Other Tribe!


Part 3—As always, The Others are dumb:
Should the Trump voter, not Angela Merkel, perhaps have been selected by Time as "person of the year?"

We begin to think so! By tradition, Time's selection isn't intended as an endorsement. And without any doubt, the Trump voter has turned American politics on its ear this year.

This has led to many attempts to define the Trump voter, attempts whose methods often seem to derive from Salem village. Sweeping claims about these voters are becoming more and more common, including on "cable news," where we rarely see the baffled, corporate-paid hosts attempting to interview the voters they find so baffling.

Within our own liberal tribe, there are two basic parts to our sweeping portrait of the Trump voter. We seem to know that these voters are bigoted. Inevitably, we also know that they're dumb.

The latter claim has been emerging even from the new Salon, an institution conceived in dumbness and dedicated to the proposition that we the liberals and progressives are utterly undiscerning. But the claim of dumbness has started to travel with respect to Trump voters. We were surprised to see this passage in today's hard-copy Washington Post, where it formed part of a news report by David Weigel:
WEIGEL (12/23/15): If Donald Trump’s rise has been aided by low-information voters, Cruz is gaining with certain-information voters. They consume different media and admire different heroes than the press that writes gaffe-of-the-day stories or lists of winners and losers. And they are seen as more likely to vote in the defining early contests, especially in the Bible Belt-centered March 1 primaries.
When was it established that Trump's rise "has been aided by low-information voters" in some way which deserves special mention? We don't know how to answer that question, but Weigel's statement appears in the Post one day after the famous newspaper took down a cartoon by Ann Telnaes—a cartoon depicting the children of Ted Cruz as a pair of monkeys.

Telnaes' cartoon comes from somewhere near Salem village. Its appearance will fuel claims about the attitudes of "the liberal media" for years to come.

But if Telnaes portrayed the children as monkeys, Weigel portrayed the voters as dumb. So far, that hasn't been taken down. But this claim—the claim that The Others are dumb—is a basic part of our pseudo-liberal creed as we resolutely spill forth from our Salem meetinghouses.

We love to say that The Others are dumb—and the dumber we are, the more we enjoy it! Consider several recent manifestations at the new Salon, on balance one of the dumbest publications we have ever encountered.

We the liberals have long been convinced that They, not We, are dumb. Last Saturday, Sarah Burris employed this tribal trope to explain why Stephen Colbert is lagging in late-night ratings.

Why is Colbert falling behind? He's fading because of "dumb Americans," Burris explained, seeming to name a demographic.

Headline included, this is the way Burris began. In a bit of unintentional humor, she misspelled the name of her Salon colleague:
BURRIS (12/19/15): This is Colbert’s real problem: Conservatives aren’t the issue, it’s mainstream America

Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” keeps slipping in the ratings. In November, it even fell behind Seth Meyers who comes on an hour later than him.

My Salon colleague Sophia McClennnan [sic] suggested when Colbert slipped to third that it might have something to do with a Republican audience having problems with complex satire. While it’s true that Colbert does get a little more advanced than the silly games you see on other shows, I would also propose that hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel are giving dumb Americans exactly what they want: pre-digested content that says nothing and doesn’t make anyone mad.
Darn those "dumb Americans," otherwise known, at the new Salon, as "mainstream America!" According to Burris, Colbert has slipped in the ratings because Fallon and Kimmel keep giving "dumb Americans" what they want!

Burris is ten years out of the University of Kansas. That makes her a greybeard by new Salon standards. To us, it means she's quite young.

We're sure that Burris is a very nice person. Unfortunately, she seems to have absorbed the pseudo-progressive tic in which we dumbly denounce the "dumb Americans" who we otherwise ID as "mainstream America," not forgetting to suggest that "a Republican audience" will probably "hav[e] problems with complex satire."

Within our tribe, this has long been of our basic messages. As a matter of politics, we'd call this message amazingly dumb. But how strong is our tribal claim on the actual merits? For that, we'll turn to Professor McClennen (actual spelling), whose pieces at the new Salon have often struck us as somewhat dumbfounding.

McClennen graduated from Harvard in 1987 (philosophy department); she got her doctorate at Duke. She's now a full professor at Penn State (Comparative Literature and International Affairs). She's associate director of Penn State's School of International Affairs.

On the surface, McClennen is one of our smart ones. Despite this appearance, she spends an inordinate amount of time writing about TV shows at the new Salon, not always extra-insightfully.

Burris linked to a piece from last month in which McClennen pondered Colbert's ratings. And sure enough! Before too long, the professor was offering this, an apparent easy reader passage for us at the new Salon:
MCCLENNEN (11/23/15): The key difference is that Colbert still offers satirical comedy—not just entertaining comedy. Satire is completely different from the sort of jokes that make others seem silly or stupid. Instead it uses irony, sarcasm, and parody to encourage critical thinking...

It is smart humor and it is a sort of humor one never sees on Fallon or Kimmel. Even more importantly it is the sort of humor that is much less likely to appeal to Republican viewers because it depends on questioning beliefs and criticizing the status quo.

Recent studies have suggested that there is a significant intelligence gap between Democrats and Republicans. This is not just tied to data that shows that “blue states” have higher graduation rates; it is connected to what researchers call “the Republican brain.” There have been studies, for instance, that link racism, low I.Q. and Republican views. As Psychology Today reports “for those who lack a cognitive ability to grasp complexities of our world, strict-right wing ideologies may be more appealing.”
According to Professor McClennen, "recent studies have suggested that there is a significant intelligence gap between Democrats and Republicans." Our tribe adores this claim, even when it's supported by "evidence" like this:

"Blue states have higher graduation rates"

Careful, professor! You're wandering onto extremely dumb terrain!

Still and all, how accurate is that claim? Beyond that, how "smart" and nuanced does our tribe tend to be in advancing this treasured claim?

How smart and nuanced are we liberals in advancing the claim that we've been proven smarter? Geniuses, this is the new Salon! When we clicked the professor's link, it took us to an article which bore this embarrassing headline:

"5 Scientific Studies That Prove Republicans Are Plain Stupid"

The article closes with this embarrassing claim:

"Conservatives are’s a scientific fact."

It should be embarrassing to see a professor linking to work of that type. That said, we're often surprised by the caliber of the work McClennen produces at Salon.

Just how dumb are The Others, presumably including Trump voters? As McClennen proceeds with her thoughts about Colbert's ratings, she offers us this:
MCCLENNEN: It is the socially conservative, less educated, Tea Party version of the GOP that is least likely to want to watch smart comedy like Colbert’s. This is the portion of the population that thinks climate science is a liberal plot, Obama is not a citizen, and the separation of church and state is a myth. As Chris Mooney explains, “liberals tend to be more open, flexible, curious and nuanced—and conservatives tend to be more closed, fixed and certain in their views.” It’s not surprising that those differences would also yield different tastes in comedy.

This means that it is not just a question of who Colbert targets in his joke; it is also a question of how he makes the joke itself. Nuance, irony, and layered thinking may be more of the problem than Trump jokes. He has virtually abandoned jokes about Fox News but clearly that isn’t enough to attract GOP viewers.
Are Tea Party members "less educated?" Briefly clicking, we kept hitting surveys which said that isn't the case. At any rate, in the world of Salon professors, you can read about our love for nuance and layered thinking under headlines which read, "5 Scientific Studies That Prove Republicans Are Plain Stupid." It really isn't a gigantic argument for our tribe's massive smarts!

In truth, those studies do exist, such as they are; we liberals love to cherry-pick from them. This will often mean taking narrow differences in degree and presenting them as definitive differences in kind. For an example of what we mean, consider the way the brilliantly nuanced gang at Salon got conned by PPP.

Or at least, so it seems. Here's the background:

PPP is a Dem-leaning polling firm. It has been raising its profile in recent years through the use of eye-catching, unusual questions—the kinds of questions which produce buzz in our buzz-heavy world.

Last week, PPP released the results from one such puckish question. Puckishly, the firm had asked voters this:

"Would you support or oppose bombing Agrabah?"

For the record, Agrabah is the fictional sultanate in Disney's 1992 film, Aladdin. Because the sultanate doesn't exist, foreign policy experts agree that it can't be bombed.

The puckish gang at PPP asked the public that question. For whatever reason, 30 percent of Republicans said they would bomb Agrabah. So did 19 percent of Democrats.

That's a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. That said, we liberals love to assert a difference in kind when it comes to our massive smarts.

This is where the apparent con came into the game:

As best we can tell, PPP played one of its puckish pranks when it released the data from this survey question. Based on time stamps on its tweets, it seems that PPP released the figure for Republican voters one hour before it released the figure for Dems.

At the new Salon (and elsewhere), this produced a rush to glory. Tribal members rushed to declare that The Others are just so freaking dumb—or, in the words of one Salon headline, that the "GOP is nuts."

Over at the new Salon, Sophia Tesfaye got there first. Her report about the thrilling new numbers appeared at 11:36 AM last Friday, beneath this headline:
SALON HEADLINE (12/18/15): Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters support bombing any Arab sounding nation—even the fictional land of Aladdin
Tesfaye began her report with the Republican polling result. In the body of her report, she didn't mention the Democratic figure. Inevitably, her report quickly produced such nuanced comments as these:
COMMENTER: In another poll, 82% of conservatives approve of abolishing US passports. Rufus McDummy from south of the Mason-Dixon Line was overheard saying "dem passports promote evil by exposing god fearing muricans to foreigners."

COMMENTER: I'll bet 30% of RepubliKlan primary voters believe the moon landings were fake and there are FEMA camps under abandoned WalMarts. These aren't low information voters. They are less than zero information voters. Everything they know is wrong.
That's the kind of layered thinking McClennen was talking about!

At some point, Tesfaye appended the PPP tweet announcing the Democratic survey result. She may have done this at the time her report appeared, or she may have done so later. (The tweet had been sent at 11:23 AM, an hour later than the tweet announcing the GOP figure.)

In the nuanced world of the new Salon, a fairly minor difference in kind was now producing nuanced comments about Rufus McDummy from south of the Mason-Dixon line! Three hours later, Amanda Marcotte jumped on the story, with a report which ran beneath these headlines:
SALON HEADLINES (12/18/15):I posed question that proved GOP is nuts: 30 percent of Republicans say they’d bomb country from “Aladdin”

New polling data shows that 30 percent of Republicans support bombing the fictional country from "Aladdin"
According to the headline writer, that statistic proved the "GOP is nuts." Marcotte didn't mention the corresponding figure for us genius Dems.

By 4:00 PM, Salon's Ben Norton had finally had enough. He posted Salon's third report about the poll, stressing the fact that 19 percent of Democrats had given the silly answer too.

By now, though, it seems that a wave of excitement had swept the web about the ginormous stupidity of those Republican voters. Even Kevin Drum may have gotten tooken!

"In my Twitter feed, everyone is getting a big kick out of the question on the right from a recent PPP national poll of Republicans," Drum wrote that afternoon. "Agrabah, it turns out, is the fictional city where Aladdin lives."

Drum posted the Republican response to the question, but didn't mention the response by Dems. We'll assume he wasn't aware of the Dem response.

In such ways, we the nuanced, very smart people tend to stampede off to declare our tribal brilliance. In this case, we did so on the basis of a fairly minor difference in responses to a puckish question.

In the process, it seems we got conned by PPP, which released the Republican result one hour before the Democratic result. But then, our liberal tribe has been proving increasingly easy to con.

If we might borrow from our Dylan, Gallup polling know what we need, but PPP knows what we want. PPP may also know how easy we are to con.

The new Salon is one of the dumbest sites on the Web. How does the new Salon prove its dumbness? In part, by its endless insistence that We are the extremely smart tribe while They are just massively dumb.

This morning, the Washington Post is saying, in a news report, that Candidate Trump's success has been driven by "low-information voters." As the paper makes this statement, it's explaining why it ran a cartoon portraying Cruz's kids as monkeys.

Has Candidate Trump's success been driven by "low-information voters?" We liberals love that general claim, with all that the claim implies. We love that story in large part because we're also so dumb.

A few weeks back, Rachel ran tape of interviews with two Trump voters. There they were, our political persons of the year.

What were those Trump voters like?

Coming: Two of their'n, two of our'n! What were the Trump voters like?

Supplemental: Is Donald Trump mentally ill?


The question is hard to avoid:
Is Donald Trump mentally ill, in a destructive way?

It's hard to avoid the question. It also hard to know how the "press corps" could handle a question like that, or how that question can fit inside a White House campaign.

Various pundits are taking different positions on what was most egregious about Trump's behavior last night. (Others are taking a standard approach, pretending not to notice what happened.) We see a competition building between two nominees:

1) Trump's use of the new verb, "schlonged," with reference to Hillary Clinton, and 2) his apparent statement that he finds it "disgusting" that Candidate Clinton had to take a bathroom break during last weekend's debate.

Personally, we don't think either one of those choices represents Trump's most egregious behavior.

What was worst about Trump's behavior last night? We'd start with his extensive public musing about whether he would ever kill some journalists, as Vladimir Putin has allegedly done. During his speech in Grand Rapids, he mused about the possibility at substantial length:
TRUMP (12/21/15): You know, it's Russia, after all. Somebody said, "Are you at all offended that [Putin] said nice things about you?"

I said no, no. And they They said, "Oh, Trump should have been much nastier, that's terrible." And then they said, "You know, he's killed reporters."

And I don't like that. I'm totally against that.

By the way, I hate some of these people [pointing to reporters]. But I'd never kill them.

I hate them. No, I think—


No, these people— Honestly. I'll be honest. I'll be honest.

I would never kill them. I would never do that.

Aaaaah. Let's see [seeming to reconsider]. Waaaaaa— [can't make up his mind]

No, I wouldn't. I would never kill them. But I do hate them.

And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.


It's true. It's true. It's true.

But I would never kill them and anybody that does, I think it would be despicable.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Trump seemed to give a lot of thought to the question of whether he'd actually kill some reporters.

In the end, he decided he wouldn't, even though they're disgusting people. From there, Trump continued to speculate about whether Putin really did kill some reporters.

To watch Trump's musings, click here.

Trump's behavior here was astounding. It only takes one crazy person to act on the signal he would have seemed to be sending. One wonders if Trump tears the wings off bugs as soon as his speeches are through.

For our money, Trump's rumination on the possibility of killing reporters was his most appalling behavior last night. After that, we turn to his comments on Clinton's "disgusting" behavior, and on a possible interpretation of his remarks which was suggested by Ben Schreckinger at Politico.

With apologies, it goes like this:
SCHRECKINGER (12/21/15): Donald Trump is taking his criticism of Hillary Clinton into new territory.

The Republican front-runner mocked his Democratic counterpart for a “disgusting” bathroom trip she made during Saturday night’s debate, and said Barack Obama “schlonged” her in the 2008 primaries at a raucous rally here on Monday night.

For Trump—who comments often on Clinton’s penchant for pantsuits, has insinuated she is in a lesbian relationship with close aide Huma Abedin and insists she doesn’t have “the strength or the stamina” to be president—Monday’s remarks take his focus on her personal life to a new level of intimacy.
Trump "has insinuated she is in a lesbian relationship with [a] close aide?" Assuming the statement is true about Trump, we weren't aware that Trump has done that. Could that explain his weird remarks last night about Clinton's "disgusting" behavior?

Trump went on and on about how "disgusting" Clinton's conduct had been—so disgusting that he didn't want to discuss it. His coy remarks made no apparent sense if he was simply discussing a bathroom break.

Was Trump trying to put a different thought into people's heads? We have no idea. That said, it's worth remembering that this general claim—the claim that Hillary Clinton is the world's most gigantic lesbo—was quite active during the 1990s, with bottom feeders like Gennifer Flowers pimping the claim all around.

Rather than denounce Flowers as the consummate low life she was, liberal stars like Frank Rich ended up hailing her for her manifest moral greatness. By the late 1990s, everyone agreed to pretend that Flowers was telling the truth about the horrific Bill Clinton, even though her claims about their "torrid affair" were riddled with embarrassing factual errors.

(On August 1999, Chris Matthews gave Flowers a full half hour on Hardball to discuss the Clintons' many murders. Later that month, she got a full hour on Hannity & Colmes, which she used to discuss Hillary Clinton's giant lesboism along with all the murders. The entire mainstream "press corps" pretended not to notice.)

This is part of the actual story of our recent political history, a story people like Paul Krugman are never going to tell you. By the rules of the game, people like Rich and Matthews and all the others simply must be protected. The code of silence is endless and strong within this dimwitted, Mammon-thick guild.

It may be that the low life Trump was trying to bring that old tale back to life. At any rate, it's important to remember that this craziness didn't begin with Trump.

For years, Matthews played the Donald Trump role when he was working for his zillionaire boss, Jack Welch. The entire liberal world has always agreed to pretend that none of this ever occurred. Among other problems, your favorite stars have always wanted to go on Matthews' show! (He's Rachel's "beloved friend.")

Is Donald Trump mentally ill? More and more, it's hard to feel confident that he isn't. That said, the crazy conduct he is producing was destroying our culture long ago. Some of our favorite stars were cast in the role of Donald Trump before Trump assumed the role.

Your big stars are telling you that you should hate Trump's voters. They will never tell you the story behind the nadir we've reached.

THE CASE OF POTENTIAL PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let's remember to use our words!


Part 2—Our tribe doesn't seem to have many:
Candidate Trump engaged in some appalling behavior last night. We'll discuss that behavior in this afternoon's post.

It's hard for us to avoid the thought that Trump has been displaying some of the less attractive forms of what we call mental illness. In reports which appear this morning, the Washington Post and Politico are struggling with the appropriate way to report last night's behavior.

Again and again, Trump behaves in ways which strike us as "disturbed." But this morning, we aren't attempting to evaluate Candidate Trump himself. We'll try to evaluate the way our tribe tends to characterize his many supporters.

We tend to use our favorite words when we describe Trump voters. But uh-oh! When it comes to using our words, our tribe doesn't seem to have many.

For us, this shortage came into stark relief in the days which followed the proposal, semi-proposal or pseudo-proposal in which Trump said he was "calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

By the second day, Trump had rolled his proposal back, saying his proposed ban might last as little as a few weeks. As usual, though, Trump's murky proposal created a storm of reaction—a storm of reaction which included many sweeping statements about Trump's many supporters.

In the Washington Post, Gene Robinson engaged in a type of conduct we were warned against when we were 13 years old. In this passage, Robinson was describing the audience at a Trump rally, a rally he'd watched on TV:
ROBINSON (12/11/15): Trump's audience in Mount Pleasant appeared to be overwhelmingly white. If it mirrored his support base in the polls, it was also older and less educated than the Republican electorate as a whole. A vastly wealthy tycoon who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and lives in a Manhattan penthouse has somehow become the unlikely spokesman for a segment of voters who feel most threatened by what the nation has become.

Demographic change means that whites will no longer be the majority by the middle of the century.
When you call the electric company to pay a bill, you're asked to push as a button "para continuar en espanol." Incomes are stagnant except for those at the very top; manufacturing jobs are gone; and if you don't have a college degree, you're trapped on the wrong side of the wall between middle-class comfort and lower-class misery.

To add insult to injury, serving his second term as president is a black man who was educated at Ivy League schools and whose father was a Muslim. For Trump's supporters, it is hard to imagine a more perfect target for fear and loathing.
"For Trump's supporters, it is hard to imagine a more perfect target for fear and loathing" than the nation's black president? We aren't sure who was doing the imagining here, but it seems to be columnist Robinson.

Robinson typed his sweeping generalization from the heights of Olympus. His sweeping generalization was also a sweeping denunciation:

Trump's supporters are driven by fear and loathing based on the fact that Obama is black and his father was a Muslim. Or so Robinson said, watching at home on TV.

When we were freshmen in high school, we were explicitly taught not to do this sort of thing. More specifically, we were warned against the use of "glittering generalizations."

In those days, we were largely being admonished against making sweeping (negative) generalizations concerning the members of minority groups. On this particular day, Robinson seemed to feel little compunction concerning such sweeping descriptions of Trump voters.

Later in his column, Robinson littered the countryside with our tribe's favorite bombs—with a few of our favorite things:
ROBINSON: Trump gives unfiltered voice to the anger and frustration some Americans feel. When he says he refuses to be "politically correct," what he means is that he rejects the traditional constraints of public discourse. He doesn't chastise his supporters for racism, nativism or religious bigotry; instead, he validates such views, bringing them out of the closet where they had been hiding.
Racists, nativists, religious bigots! Within our tribe, these are a few of the words we now seem to adore. We love to offer these sweeping denunciations of millions of Others. But then, this is how life forms like us have behaved since we crawled out of the swamp.

Do you have to be a racist, a nativist or a bigot to be a Trump supporter? Increasingly, we the liberals can't seem to discuss or describe the world without employing these words. "Use your words," we constantly tell the little children. Increasingly, when we the liberals use our words, we seem to have few words but these.

Robinson wasn't the only tribal leader dropping these bombs last week. On that same day, Paul Krugman denounced the "ugliness" of Trump's many voters.

We thought we saw a pile of ugliness emerging from Krugman himself—from a man who refuses to tell you the truth about his colleague and his corporate employer. Headline included:
KRUGMAN (12/11/15): Empowering the Ugliness

We live in an era of political news that is, all too often, shocking but not surprising. The rise of Donald Trump definitely falls into that category. And so does the electoral earthquake that struck France in Sunday’s regional elections, with the right-wing National Front winning more votes than either of the major mainstream parties.

What do these events have in common? Both involved political figures tapping into the resentments of a bloc of xenophobic and/or racist voters who have been there all along. The good news is that such voters are a minority; the bad news is that it’s a pretty big minority, on both sides of the Atlantic...

But why are these voters making themselves heard so loudly now? Have they become much more numerous? Maybe, but it’s not clear.
Even after all these years, Krugman refuses to tell the truth about his colleagues and his employer. He simply refuses to do so. What he will do is drop his X- and R-bombs on the world in a form of carpet bombing.

Amazingly, Krugman can't imagine why Trump voters might be "making themselves heard so loudly now." Unable to imagine any other motive for their electoral choices, he reaches into his bag of words and rains a few ugly words down.

This god who refuses to tell you the truth gives you the dope about millions of voters. They're xenophobic and/or racist. They have been all along!

Our gods were taking turns last week trying to top one another. Within a few days, another columnist in the Times found an uglier word:
EGAN (12/12/15): Goose-Steppers in the G.O.P.

Nazis—I hate these guys. Oh, but they’re a tiny minority of pink-faced malcontents living in basements with the windows taped up. Everybody hates them. Add to that supporters of the Ku Klux Klan, who’ve thrown in with Trump as well. David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Klan, liked everything he heard from Trump this week, embracing him for standing up for white nationalism.

And sure, all the little Hitlers probably don’t amount to a hill of beans. But what about the 35 percent of Republican voters, in the New York Times/CBS News poll, who say they’re all in with the man sieg heiled by aspiring brownshirts and men in white sheets?

It’s a very ugly political moment,
but there it is...
Trump's voters are goose-steppers, our own creepy goose-stepper said. "The lunatic fringe is huge," Timothy Egan went on to say. We were being told to be afraid, to be very afraid—the very thing we say we hate when it's done by the tribals on Fox.

By last weekend, our tribal leaders were spotting a racist, bigot, nativist or goose-stepper under every bed. In a column in the Washington Post, Harvard's Alexandra Petri was using her own favorite word:
PETRI (12/12/15): I used to think that Donald Trump was trying to take us back only 150 years, to the days of the Know-Nothing party, a famously xenophobic group that insisted on the election of native-born Protestants to all offices, inveighed against "papism" and generally panicked at the thought of immigrants.

But the Know-Nothings wanted only to delay the period of naturalization of the immigrants whose religion filled them with dread and terror. They did not seek to ban their coming. Trump wants to bar Muslims from immigrating altogether. Actually. He said so in a statement.

When a party called the Know-Nothings that Abraham Lincoln made fun of before the Civil War was less xenophobic than you are on Dec. 7, 2015, something is wrong.

I miss those good old days when, if you wanted to say something horribly xenophobic or Islamophobic or otherwise phobic, you had to use a dog whistle.
Trump's voters are xenophobic! Just in case you missed her point, Petri used her favorite word in paragraphs 1, 3 and 4.

As she continued, Petri offered a ludicrous, airbrushed account of our American history. But she also dropped an R-bomb and an I-bomb into her portrait of Trump's many voters, while assuring us that the premise of his proposed temporary ban on visas was "hateful, wrong and flawed in every way."

Hateful? Wrong? Deeply flawed? We thought we saw the same characteristics in the silly, overwrought work of our hapless Harvard child.

(Petri told us that Candidate Trump has been "using words that present no difficulty to midlevel readers." "Look who's talking," our analysts quickly said.)

Increasingly, our tribal leaders seem to use very few words. They can't imagine why a person would support Candidate Trump unless that person was bigoted, racist, xenophobic, nativist and/or a hateful goose-stepper.

We can imagine many reasons why people might turn toward Trump; we'll discuss them in our Christmas Eve prince-of-peace post. Our view? When people can only imagine vile motives for the conduct of The Others, this tends to say more about the observer than about the observed.

As the nation splits into tribes, our own tribe's fervor grows. By yesterday, it had gotten so bad that Greg Sargent even presented this nonsense on line at the Washington Post:
SARGENT (12/21/15): Everyone agrees that Trump is engaged in full-blown demagoguery and bigotry against Muslims and immigrants. But are GOP voters responding because Trump is speaking to their economic insecurities and fears of terrorism with a proportional emotional bluntness and urgency that GOP leaders have failed to muster? Or are they responding to Trump precisely because of the bigotry and xenophobia at the core of his message?...
In our view, Sargent's reasoning was a bit hard to follow, but look where it began! "Everyone agrees that Trump is engaged in full-blown bigotry?" Obviously, that statement isn't even dimly accurate. Millions of people don't agree that Trump is doing that.

Millions of people don't agree with Sargent's basic statement. But when a tribal panic spreads, The Others cease to exist in the minds of the most overwrought tribal players.

The Others are reduced to non-persons; we can only imagine the vilest motives for their hateful behavior and choices. Our human minds have worked this way since we crawled out of the mud.

In our view, Candidate Trump seems disturbed; he seems more so all the time. But that's the way he seems to us. We can imagine how other people might still view him differently.

Our tribal gods can't imagine such things. Increasingly, they rely on a tiny handful of words to describe what is occurring.

Columnist Krugman is one of those gods. Consider an irony here:

Krugman has been quoted in several places saying that he didn't understand until 1999 that there was a fundamental difference in truthfulness between the Democratic and Republican parties. Here's the way Benjamin Wallace-Wells told the story in New York magazine:
WALLACE-WELLS (4/24/11): Krugman is gleeful about being right, joyous in the revelation of his correctness, and many of his most visible early fights were with free-trade skeptics on the left. Of Robert Reich, for instance, Krugman wrote: “talented writer, too bad he never gets anything right.” He was a liberal and a Democrat, but even in 1999, when he was hired by Howell Raines to write his Times column, “I still saw equivalent craziness on both sides.”

This evenhandedness began to disappear almost immediately.
Four months after his first column, Krugman began studying the economic proposals of the Bush campaign and found, somewhat to his astonishment, that they were deeply disingenuous. “That was a radicalizing experience. Not just that the presidential candidate of one of America’s major political parties could say something that was demonstrably false, but that nobody was willing to say so,” Krugman says. “That was pretty awesome.”
How clueless did Krugman have to be to reach that point in his life without seeing things more clearly? He had to be fairly clueless! But that was OK, because that was him! Today, Krugman can't imagine a reason why other people might not see the world exactly as he does.

Gods have always reasoned that way. Often, they end up resembling haters.

They end up using their handful of words, raining their bombs on the ground.

Tomorrow: Our tribe's other favorite—the D-word

Thursday: Trump voters speak

Supplemental: Chuck Todd pretends to interview Trump!


Those precious bodily fluids:
Try not to be shocked, but Candidate Trump was Chuck Todd's first guest on yesterday's Meet the Press.

Candidate Trump appeared by phone, the highly unusual format the candidate seems to prefer. In the past, candidates haven't been afforded this luxury, which makes it easier for volk like Trump to filibuster folk like Todd.

Why was Candidate Trump invited onto the program? Presumably, to boost the ratings for Meet the Press. We say that because it was abundantly clear that Todd had little or nothing to ask his famous guest.

Todd began by asking about a claim Candidate Clinton had made—the claim that ISIS is "going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."

This at least was current. "It's just another Hillary lie," Trump trumpastically said. "She lies like crazy about everything, whether it's strips where she was being gunned down in a helicopter or an airplane. She's a liar and everybody knows that."

If there was an irony involved in Trump calling someone else a liar, Todd didn't choose to note it. Trump was soon off to another complaint, with his meek host attempting to object:
TODD (12/20/15): Let me ask you this. If you knew your words were being used in recruitment videos, because I've had plenty of intelligence officials worry about this. You're right, there is no evidence yet.

But if you knew your words were being used, would you change your language?

TRUMP: No, because I think that my words represent toughness and strength. Hillary is not strong. Hillary is weak, frankly. She's got nothing.

TODD: Wait, let me stop you there—

TRUMP: She doesn't have—she couldn't even get back—George, she couldn't even get back on the stage. Nobody knows what happened to her. It's like she went home and went to sleep.

TODD: Why do you keep going on this?

TRUMP: She couldn't even get back on the stage last night.

TODD: Why?

TRUMP: I'll tell you why.

TODD: Why?

TRUMP: Because we need a president with great strength and great stamina. And Hillary doesn't have that.
Trump was complaining that Clinton took too long to widdle at Saturday night's debate. Just like that, within roughly a minute, Todd had been reduced to asking Trump why he keeps complaining about Clinton's bathroom breaks.

The answer was obvious. "We need a president with great stamina," the high-minded candidate said. He seemed on the verge of analyzing those precious bodily fluids.

Within two minutes, Todd had been reduced to clucking about Trump's obsession with the lady candidate's bathroom breaks. But don't cry for Argentina! As the pointless "interview" wound on, it became abundantly clear that Todd had nothing to ask this candidate about on this particular day. He scattershot his way along, basically feeding lines to Trump which triggered Trump's greatest hits:
TODD: Let me ask you to respond to your friend Jeb Bush and what he had to say about you yesterday. Take a listen to the full quote and I'll get you on the other side.

BUSH: Just one other thing. I've got to get this off my chest. Donald Trump is a jerk.


BUSH: I feel better now. I just, I just— I gave myself therapy there. Thank you for allowing me to do it.

TODD: Well, this has escalated between you and Mr. Bush.

TRUMP: Look, his people gave him that quote. You could see he was just saying, "OK, I'm ready now. I'm ready now to say it." Jeb is a weak and ineffective person. He's also a low-energy person, which I've said before, but he's a weak and ineffective person. Jeb, if he were president, it would just be more of the same. It would be just— He's got money from all of the lobbyists and all of the special interests that run him like a puppet.

TODD: Yes. I mean—

TRUMP: He's got 2 percent in the polls. I have 41 percent in the latest poll. He has 2 percent. He's going to be off the stage soon.


TRUMP: He's an embarrassment to the Bush family. And, in fact, he doesn't even want to use the Bush name, which is interesting. Jeb is an embarrassment to himself and to his family.

TODD: Why—

TRUMP: And the Republican Party—

TODD: Yes.

TRUMP: Has, has essentially—they're not even listening to Jeb.

TODD: Why—

TRUMP: Jeb is saying that. By the way, Jeb—

TODD: Yes.

TRUMP: Jeb is only saying that to try and get a little mojo going.


TRUMP: But in the meantime, I went up 11 points in the new Fox poll.

TODD: Right.

TRUMP: I went up 11 points After the debate and he went down two.

TODD: Yes.
Really? "Jeb is a low-energy person?" Has Trump really said that before? Meanwhile, why, yes, right and OK. Those were Todd's four basic lines!

Sadly, that's how it looks when a Meet the Press host agrees to perform as a caddy. Presumably, the program got its ratings bump, so everything turned out OK.

In this morning's New York Times, Paul Krugman pretended to explain how our political and journalistic culture reached its current ludicrous state. He seemed to attribute the whole devolution to the GOP.

Krugman described a silly Republican policy discussion, then ended the column like this:
KRUGMAN (12/21/15): In case you’re wondering, nothing like this process has happened on the Democratic side. When Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debate, say, financial regulation, it’s a real discussion, with both candidates evidently well informed about the issues. American political discourse as a whole hasn’t been dumbed down, just its conservative wing.

Going back to Republicans, does this mean that Mr. Trump will actually be the nominee? I have no idea. But it’s important to realize that he isn’t someone who suddenly intruded into Republican politics from an alternative universe. He, or someone like him, is where the party has been headed for a long time.
In truth, the dumbing-down of American discourse can't be attributed to the GOP alone. Dating at least to the Bush-Gore campaign where Krugman began his history lesson, an aggressive role in this devolution has been played by the massively overpaid corporate hirelings who make up the so-called mainstream press corps.

Todd fed Trump his favorite lines. By now, it has become abundantly clear that Krugman will never tell.

THE CASE OF POTENTIAL PRESIDENT TRUMP: Krugman refuses to tell us the truth!


Part 1—Our own role in this debacle:
Could Candidate Donald J. Trump get elected next November?

Actually, yes, he could.

We're not saying he will get elected. We're not even saying that the general election will be close.

But yes—Candidate Trump actually could reach the White House. We'd say it's a clear possibility. We'd also say that we, the liberals and the progressives, have played a leading role in creating this debacle.

In this morning's New York Times, Paul Krugman reviews the history which has led to this state of affairs. Krugman concedes only that Candidate Trump could win the GOP nomination. He tries to explain how we've reached the point where that is a possibility.

In our view, his first three paragraphs basically stick to the truth:
KRUGMAN (12/21/15): Almost six months have passed since Donald Trump overtook Jeb Bush in polls of Republican voters. At the time, most pundits dismissed the Trump phenomenon as a blip, predicting that voters would soon return to more conventional candidates. Instead, however, his lead just kept widening. Even more striking, the triumvirate of trash-talk—Mr. Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz—now commands the support of roughly 60 percent of the primary electorate.

But how can this be happening? After all, the antiestablishment candidates now dominating the field, aside from being deeply ignorant about policy, have a habit of making false claims, then refusing to acknowledge error. Why don’t Republican voters seem to care?

Well, part of the answer has to be that the party taught them not to care.
Bluster and belligerence as substitutes for analysis, disdain for any kind of measured response, dismissal of inconvenient facts reported by the “liberal media” didn’t suddenly arrive on the Republican scene last summer. On the contrary, they have long been key elements of the party brand. So how are voters supposed to know where to draw the line?
We'd regard that account as basically accurate. From our perspective, Candidate Trump does "have a habit of making false claims, then refusing to acknowledge error." He also seems to be "deeply ignorant about policy," though that starts to be a somewhat harder call. (Does he think his budget plan makes sense, or is he just pretending?)

"Why don’t Republican voters seem to care" about these matters? Many Republican voters apparently do. Many Republican voters express a negative view of Trump. Meanwhile, Candidate Cruz doesn't seem to be "deeply ignorant about policy" in the way Trump and the fading Carson may and do seem.

Still, a large percentage of GOP voters favor Trump for the nomination, and he runs fairly close to Candidate Clinton in general election polls. Krugman is asking a thoroughly sensible question: Why don't Trump's voters seem to care about his false claims and his apparent ignorance? (Unmentioned are the policy proposals which have often been denounced for an array of reasons.)

Candidate Trump has largely broken a mold; it's reasonable to ask why he has attracted so much support. That said, we agree with part of Krugman's explanation.

It's true! In our view, the GOP—and perhaps more importantly, the surrounding world of conservative talk—have made a long-standing fetish of false and improbable claims, accompanied by disdain for "the liberal media." In many ways, Trump is merely a jacked-up version of a preexisting political culture.

In our view, Krugman basically stick to the truth in those first three paragraphs. From that point on, we'd say his piece is fundamentally misleading.

We'd say he largely disappears the role of his colleagues in the mainstream press, and of his employer, in the rise of Trump and Trumpism. Beyond that, we'd say he disappears the role of people like us.

When does Krugman's account become selective? As he proceeds, he traces the rise of this Trumpist culture in the events of Campaign 2000.

This culture was being invented long before that, of course. But in our view, Krugman's account of that campaign is less than obsessively accurate:
KRUGMAN (continuing directly): Let’s talk first about the legacy of He Who Must Not Be Named.

I don’t know how many readers remember the 2000 election, but during the campaign Republicans tried—largely successfully—to make the election about likability, not policy. George W. Bush was supposed to get your vote because he was someone you’d enjoy having a beer with, unlike that stiff, boring guy Al Gore with all his facts and figures.

And when Mr. Gore tried to talk about policy differences, Mr. Bush responded not on the substance but by mocking his opponent’s “fuzzy math”—a phrase gleefully picked up by his supporters. The press corps played right along with this deliberate dumbing-down: Mr. Gore was deemed to have lost debates, not because he was wrong, but because he was, reporters declared, snooty and superior, unlike the affably dishonest W.
Everything Krugman says in that passage is true. But good lord! The problem lies with the much larger factors he chooses to omit.

What actually happened in Campaign 2000? It's true that "Republicans tried, largely successfully, to make the election about likability, not policy." But the larger role was played by Krugman's colleagues and employer and the like, not by the GOP. And please! The much larger factor in that campaign involved attacks on Gore's character, not on his likability.

In that passage, a reader is given the impression that the press corps and reporters played along with GOP claims, and that they did so rather late in the campaign, at the time of the debates. That impression is grossly misleading. Perhaps on the brighter side, it does allow the columnist to avoid telling the truth about the role played by his colleagues and his employer from March 1999 forward.

Krugman's account of that campaign is deeply bowdlerized. His account is so deeply selective that it's essentially false.

Things don't get enormously better when Krugman proceeds to the war in Iraq:
KRUGMAN (continuing directly): Then came 9/11, and the affable guy was repackaged as a war leader. But the repackaging was never framed in terms of substantive arguments over foreign policy. Instead, Mr. Bush and his handlers sold swagger. He was the man you could trust to keep us safe because he talked tough and dressed up as a fighter pilot. He proudly declared that he was the “decider”—and that he made his decisions based on his “gut.”

The subtext was that real leaders don’t waste time on hard thinking, that listening to experts is a sign of weakness, that attitude is all you need. And while Mr. Bush’s debacles in Iraq and New Orleans eventually ended America’s faith in his personal gut, the elevation of attitude over analysis only tightened its grip on his party, an evolution highlighted when John McCain, who once upon a time had a reputation for policy independence, chose the eminently unqualified Sarah Palin as his running mate.

So Donald Trump as a political phenomenon is very much in a line of succession that runs from W. through Mrs. Palin, and in many ways he’s entirely representative of the Republican mainstream.
In truth, it's silly to say that Bush's reaction to 9/11 "was never framed in terms of substantive arguments over foreign policy." That said, Krugman's statements are once again basically accurate. And yet, by God! Multitudes have been dropped from his account.

Krugman tells a pretty story in which the rise of our puzzling new culture was caused by the GOP, full stop. At the end of his piece, he explicitly says that this troubling culture "is where the party has been headed for a long time."

We would say that that statement is accurate. But Krugman's colleagues, and Krugman's employer, have played a tremendously active role in shaping this new culture too. It's disgusting that, after all these years, this high-ranking columnist is still refusing to say this.

Whose conduct disappears as Krugman tells this bowdlerized story? Among so many others, he disappears the crazed Maureen Dowd and the ludicrous Frank Rich.

Dowd's crazed conduct is fairly well known. As for Rich, he insisted, all through Campaign 2000, that Gore and Bush were two peas in a pod. In the run-up to the war in Iraq, he ridiculed Gore as a fake and a phony when he made his September 2002 speech warning against that war.

Rich kept this up for years after that. He even derided Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, as a fake and phony attempt to run for president again in 2008.

Rich maintained this lunacy for years, building upon his previous years of hunting down the Clintons. He only relented when Gore won the Nobel peace prize. At that time, Rich executed an instant 180. He began fawning to Gore.

What's the oddness here? To this day, Rich remains a big-mouthed liberal hero, in part because people like Krugman agree to pretend that his ludicrous conduct never occurred. It was all the GOP, our loyal employee declares.

Who else has disappeared in Krugman's account? Does the name Chris Matthews ring a bell? Today, Matthews is a star of corporate liberal cable. Back then, he savaged Candidate Gore for two years, then continued to savage him in the years which followed.

Meanwhile, did Bush and his handlers sell us swagger, pimping him as the man we could trust "because he talked tough and dressed up as a fighter pilot?" Yes, they did, with the ridiculous help of ridiculous people like Matthews.

Matthews fawned, for roughly a week, over the president's manifest manliness in that "dress up" performance. On May 1, the day of the flight, Lawrence O'Donnell appeared on Hardball to help Matthews fawn, and to note that President Clinton "probably had a little too much beef on his bones to fit in one of those cockpits."

Matthews kept praising Bush for his "display of masculine leadership qualities" right through the famous May 8 gong-show, when he and the crackpot Gordon Liddy discussed the way the president's flight suit and parachute harness "makes the best of his manly characteristic," to recall Liddy's words.

Today, Lawrence and Matthews are cast on TV as heroes of corporate liberal labor. Back then, they spent years inventing and promulgating crazy, false attacks on Clinton and Clinton and especially on Candidate Gore.

In Campaign 2000, the false attacks on Candidate Gore came from Matthews and a large cast of mainstream journalists to a much larger extent than they came from Republican operatives. We liberals and progressives still aren't allowed to hear such facts, a situation which seems to suit us just fine.

Krugman still won't tell you these things, although of course he knows them. But that part of our crackpot history was a product of his colleagues and his employer more than of the GOP.

Krugman still won't tell you! The fact that we keep swallowing what he's selling tells us something very important about us. It tells us something about the role we liberals have played in this spreading debacle.

Simply put, we liberals aren't enormously sharp. We buy the shit our heroes sell, in a way which strongly resembles the process we love to mock and denounce in The Others.

As Krugman correctly notes, our political and journalistic cultures are falling to ruin. Krugman's column describes some of the symptoms.

Here's the part Krugman still won't discuss—we liberals have played a major role in this debacle. In this shortened week, let's discuss that widely-disappeared but rather obvious fact.

We love to mock the dumbness of Them. In this shortened sacred or holiday week, let's discuss the dumbness and loathing which keep emerging from Us.

Candidate Trump could get elected. We liberals have helped build the world in which that possibility exists.

We continue to nudge that process along. Is this our present to Trump?

This afternoon: Chuck Todd pretends to interview Candidate Trump again