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 started with a stock joke. After that, she got down to script—to the script, and the values, of her devolving guild:
BELLANTONI: It's yuuuge.
O'DONNELL: Yes. It is huge.
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.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.
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.
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.Boys and girls, that's how it's done!
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.
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.For our real-time report, just click here.
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.
"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.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:
[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.”
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.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.
“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?”
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.We'll stand with one of Thoreau's less famous sentences. "Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts," the shallow ascetic said.
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.
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.