A report about public school "segregation!"


The way our team writes about race:
Within the American experience, race was invented a long time ago by people with a brutal agenda.

Today, no one has embraces the concept of race quite the way We do Over Here. We liberals love the idea that different kinds of people live in this country—that everybody has a "race," and that We get to say what it is.

Over Here in the liberal world, we tend to have a very hard time reasoning about this topic. Our brutal history may make this tendency understandable. It doesn't make it helpful.

To what extent does reason flee when we write about "race?" Consider the latest application of the concept of public school "segregation" as it appears in a lengthy report in the Baltimore Sun.

Long story short:

Liz Bowie and Erica Green have been writing a series for the Sun, Bridging the Divide. Bowie is a veteran education reporter for the Sun. Green, who had been at the Sun seven years, recently decamped to the New York Times.

The first report in the series appeared on March 19. Running some 5600 words, it dealt with a recent attempt to "redraw boundary lines for 11 schools in the Catonsville (Maryland) area...to relieve overcrowding."

These eleven schools are part of the Baltimore County Public Schools. (Baltimore County is a large suburban county encircling the bulk of Baltimore City.)

According to Bowie and Green, the redistricting provided an opportunity to achieve greater racial balance in some of the affected schools. But parent groups were unable to agree on any such plan. In the end, a modest plan emerged, with modest effects on the overcrowding.

To read the whole report, you can just click here. We'd have to say the report, which is very long, is rather poorly written.

Information about the eleven schools is scant. As best we can tell, only six of the schools are even named. Enrollment data are provided for only a few of the schools.

That said, we were struck by the report's familiar application of the concept of "segregation." The term appears throughout the report, though it's never precisely defined.

It's never entirely clear what Bowie and Green mean by that highly fraught term, which trails a great deal of ugly history behind it. But in the passage shown below, we learn an important fact about Baltimore County—and we see the term "segregation" being applied in a familiar, remarkable way:
BOWIE AND GREEN (3/19/17): Changing demographics

Parents were debating school boundary lines as the county population was not only growing, but becoming more diverse. Twenty-five years ago, Baltimore County was 77 percent white. Today it's 43 percent white.

Still, segregation persists. In 1990, only one in 10 county schools had a student body that was more than half minority. The proportion has tripled to about one in three today,
according to the Maryland Equity Project analysis.

The typical white student in Baltimore County attends a school that is mostly white. The typical black student attends a school that is mostly black.

Students from low-income families are similarly segregated from students from wealthy families.
For starters, note the significant change in Baltimore County's population. In 1992, the county was 77 percent white. Today, the white population stands at 43 percent.

(This seems to be the overall population. Numbers for the county's student population might have been more relevant.)

Presumably, something like 43 percent of Baltimore County's students are white. "Still, segregation persists," the reporters murkily say, instantly firing our pseudo-liberal juices.

As they continue, they seem to suggest that a student is attending a "segregated" school if the school's student body is "more than half minority." Similar definitions of "segregation" have been floating around in liberal circles for some time, largely emerging from work at UCLA—work which Bowie and Green cite at one point.

Presumably, we all can see the oddness of this (apparent) definition. Please note:

If someone waved a magic wand and made all Baltimore County schools match the county-wide demographic, then every school in the whole school system would be "segregated" under this apparent definition.

Every school would have a student body which was 43 percent white! Every school would be "more than half minority"—and this seems to be the reporters' definition of public school "segregation."

You might note another oddness about that puzzling passage. Bowie and Green seem surprised by the fact that the number of schools which are more than half minority has increased over the years.

All things being equal, this was plainly likely to happen as the county's population becomes more heavily non-white. Their puzzlement seems to stem from their peculiar definition of "segregation."

Presumably, you're thinking this can't be right; that can't be what they meant. We'll only say that such peculiar definitions of "segregation" have been common in contemporary pseudo-liberal writing about this topic.

Fairly clearly, Bowie and Green lament the fact that the redistricting of the eleven schools didn't produce a greater degree of racial balance. We don't denigrate that sentiment in any way.

All things being equal, we like to see kids who have been told that they're black attending school with kids who have been that they're white. We'd also like to see the culture stop telling kids, at every turn, that they belong to, or "have," a "race."

Until that happens, all things being equal, we'd prefer to see student bodies that "look [as much] like America" as possible. That said, we're asking you to notice how often our reason flees the scene when we try to discuss so-called race.

This report's apparent definition of segregation produces a lot of tribal excitement among us pseudo-liberals. It also makes little sense.

Behavior like this, which is quite widespread, tends to make The Others believe that we're basically nuts Over Here. Is it clear that The Others are wrong in that belief?

It isn't clear at all.

One of the mostly white schools: As noted above, Bowie and Green provide enrollment data for only a couple of schools. In the passage below, they refer to one of the schools which was said to be "made up of predominantly white families" in this somewhat peculiar report:
BOWIE AND GREEN: On the south side of Route 40 in Catonsville were four aging, crowded schools made up of predominantly white families whose PTAs had come together for years to fight for renovations and more space.

These parents from Westchester, Hillcrest, Westowne and Catonsville elementaries had in many cases paid a premium for their houses so they could ensure that their children were in some of the best schools in the county.


The parents' worries were not baseless. The highest-performing schools are usually those with the wealthiest families. The percentage of Hillcrest fifth-graders who passed state standardized tests in 2016 in English and math was double that at Johnnycake. And the Hillcrest families were wealthier.

Parents at Westowne said in interviews that their school was a model for integration. About half of its students were black and Latino, and 46 percent qualified for a free or reduced-price meal. But when the idea of moving half of Westowne's students out was floated as an option, parents fought back.
Parents at Westowne said their school was a model for integration? This whole passage strikes us as strange.

Earlier in the report, Westowne was described as a school "made up of predominantly white families." In this (substantially) later passage, we seem to learn that "about half" the kids at the school are either black or Hispanic.

Despite this unchallenged claim, the reporters still float language suggesting that the school may not be "integrated." This sort of thing routinely occurs when we liberals try or pretend to talk about so-called race.

Overall, despite its length, this was a murky report. That said, its puzzling use of the concept of "segregation" is quite common in modern pseudo-liberal writing about the public schools.

Over here in our liberal tents, we have a very hard time with the concept of race. We tend to reason very poorly where our favorite topic is involved.

Our histrionics aren't real helpful. We'd say the opposite is true.

WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE: Those People are a lot like Us!


Part 2—Clueless oh so clueless:
This Sunday morning, Sean Hannity was speaking well of us, the American people.

Hannity spoke with Ted Koppel on the CBS show, Sunday Morning. In this, their key exchange, Hannity said that we the people are "somewhat intelligent."

Koppel may not have been sure:
HANNITY (3/26/17): We have to give some credit to the American people, that they're somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show.

KOPPEL: Yeahhh.

HANNITY: You're not—you're cynical. Look at you!

KOPPEL: I am cynical, because I, you know—

HANNITY: You think we're bad for America? You think I'm bad for America?


HANNITY: You do?

KOPPEL: In the long haul, I think you and all these opinion shows—

HANNITY: Really? That's sad, Ted. That's sad.

KOPPEL: No, you know why? Because you're very good at what you do, and because you have, you have attracted...You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.
Uh-oh! In that exchange, Koppel almost took a bit of a shot at Those People, the 63 million Trump voters! To watch that exchange, click here.

In a fairly sweeping statement, Koppel seemed to say that Hannity has attracted viewers who "are determined that ideology is more important than facts." We'd be slow to offer that assessment.

On the other hand, Koppel may have been sliming Us, the folk Over Here, as well! In that one highlighted statement, he said that Hannity is bad for America—Hannity "and all these opinion shows."

Apparently, those other opinion shows are bad for America too!

Was that a shot at liberal cable shows, and at Us, the people who watch them? We can't speak for Koppel, who we thought was a bit dismissive of Hannity's many viewers. That said:

In our view, we liberals are developing cognitive habits which begin to resemble the habits we've always mocked in Those People. In Sunday's New York Times, Masha Gessen wrote an op-ed piece which specifically warned about this developing liberal culture.

"Fraudulent news stories, which used to be largely a right-wing phenomenon, are becoming increasingly popular among those who oppose the president," Gessen, a native Russkie, opined. Gessen, a recent Maddow Show guest, then cited a type of "fraudulent story" which made us think of exciting work we've seen in recent weeks on that tribally pleasing program.

Are viewers of Sean Hannity's program "determined that ideology is more important than facts?" In our view, that judgment seems a bit harsh, but we're happy to say this:

We the people have never been major intellectual giants. In our view, even our major intellectual giants rarely turn out to be giants. But we the people very rarely qualify for that status.

When it comes to the substance of policy matter, we the people rarely know what we're talking about. Consider one recent example, involving an evergreen howler:

In January, the Kaiser Foundation released a survey examining Americans' views on foreign aid. For Kevin Drum's capsule, click here.

Puckishly, Kaiser had asked the question on which we the people always fail:

"Just your best guess, what percentage of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid?" We always get tripped up on that one!

According to Kaiser, the correct answer would have been this: "one percent or less of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid." We the people didn't come close!

Only three percent of respondents gave some version of that correct answer. Meanwhile, the average answer by us the people was a walloping 31 percent! Thirteen percent of respondents had enough sense to say that they just didn't know.

We the people had no clue about this fairly basic question. We were way off, about a topic which is frequently discussed as a way to show how clueless we American citizens are.

In this case, respondents were so massively misinformed that we can assume a basic point. It wasn't just Them who had no clue. Also lacking the first freaking clue clue were the brainiacs known as Us!

We cite this survey to illustrate a very important point. When it comes to basic policy questions, we the people rarely have the slightest idea what we're talking about.

Over Here in our liberal tents, observing this fact is a key part of our culture—but we're only allowed to observe this fact when discussing Those People, the putative dimwits Over There.

Within our self-impressed liberal culture, we like to pretend that we're very bright, unlike the rubes in the other camp. We're sorry, but that just isn't the case. Our liberal culture today brims with misstatements, gong-shows and groaners. We just aren't super-bright Over here.

Our groaners are often different from Theirs. But they're groaners all the same.

Our modern liberal culture swims in silly misstatements. Our favorite silly misstatements tend to involve matters of gender and race—but they're silly misstatements all the same, and we have about a million of them.

Everyone knows this but Us.

We the people, Us and Them, are not a race of giants. We rarely know what we're talking about, but good lord, how we do love to talk!

When Hannity spoke with Koppel this weekend, he went straight to the pundit corps' favorite play, in which multimillionaire music men (and politicians) tell us how sharp we are.

Simply put, we the people aren't especially sharp. We've always fallen for music men, all through our American history.

Hannity made a familiar old play. We thought Koppel was a bit cynical in what he said in reply. As we liberals tend to do, he seemed to make a sweeping statement about Those People, the Hannity viewers—and we thought his sweeping statement was a bit unkind.

Has Hannity attracted viewers "who are determined that ideology is more important than facts?" We wouldn't be inclined to say that. We would say this:

His viewers may often fail to see that they're getting conned on the facts. But we'd say the same is true Over Here, within our self-impressed liberal tribe. That said, we liberals have long tended to believe that We are smarter and better than Them.

We think that's a dangerous, self-defeating belief. Almost surely, it helps explain why so many of Those People ended up casting votes against our advice for his highness, Donald J. Trump, and his "terrific" plans.

Tomorrow: Our familiar contempt for Them

Preibus tells Wallace the answer is no!

MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017

Plainly, gorilla dust works:
Yesterday morning, on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Reince Priebus a question. Wallace seemed surprised by the initial answer:
WALLACE (3/26/17): Quick questions, quick answers. I promise, these are going to be very easy.


WALLACE: Does the president accept the conclusion, from all sides, that President Obama did not wiretap Trump Tower during the campaign, and is he ready to apologize?

PRIEBUS: OK. Well, first of all—well, the answer is no.
Wallace seemed surprised. "No, and I don't accept it," Priebus quickly added.

Wallace seemed surprised. At this point, Priebus began to wander the countryside, offering the various redefinitions which are familiar to anyone who has watched Anderson Cooper pretend to debate Jeffrey Lord about this three-week-old, gong-show affair.

According to Priebus, when Trump said that "Obama" wiretapped Trump's phones, he really meant "the Obama administration." And when he said that Obama wiretapped Trump's phones, he really meant that someone had subjected someone to some sort of surveillance or something.

Eventually, the discussion ended up as shown below. By now, Wallace has completely rolled over and died in the face of the standard obfuscation:
PRIEBUS: The fact is, reports have come out, for many, many months now, that people on the Trump campaign transition team were surveillanced by potentially some intelligence group, whether they were inadvertently swept up, whether the names were unmasked. Chris, you don't know the full answer to that question, and I don't either.

WALLACE: That's a fine answer, but—

PRIEBUS: But if, but if the people in the Trump transition were unknowingly surveillanced and illegally unmasked on documents, which is what is being alleged out there, I think it's a big problem, and I think ultimately President Trump is going to be proven correct, that this wasn't—

WALLACE: OK, let me—

PRIEBUS: —this wasn't right.

WALLACE: Now, my second question...
To watch this entire Potemkin exchange, you can just click here.

In his first question, Wallace asked if Trump accepts the conclusion that Obama didn't wiretap Trump Tower during the campaign. Priebus said Trump doesn't accept that conclusion, because it is "being alleged out there" that people in the Trump transition were unknowingly surveillanced, perhaps inadvertently, and illegally unmasked on documents.

In short, Trump doesn't accept that Statement A was wrong because a different statement, Statement B, could possibly turn out to be right. Or not! We don't even know yet!

This was pure gorilla dust. Wallace just sputtered and watched.

"Is truth dead?" Time magazine asked. Wallace, a college classmate of ours, gave the world a partial answer as he rolled over and died.

STILL BREAKING: In search of The USA 9400!

MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017

Bernie schools Anderson Cooper:
Now that Ivankacare has crashed and burned, we thought we'd revisit a question we posed two week ago:

What explains the disappearance of the group known as The USA 9400? You saw health care discussed many times in the past few weeks. Did you see this important group mentioned even once?

For ourselves, we never saw the group explicitly cited. The closest we came involved Bernie Sanders' appearance with Anderson Cooper last Friday night.

Who are The USA 9400? They're the amazingly large number of dollars spent in this country, per person, on health care every year. Rather, in the recent year 2015, when the OECD's very strange, disappeared numbers looked, in part, like this:
Per capita spending, health care, 2015
United States: $9451
Canada: $4608
France: $4407
United Kingdom: $4003
In his new column today, Paul Krugman discusses the problem caused by the "high deductibles" sometimes found in Obamacare insurance policies. Obviously, the background to all such problems with our American health care is lodged in that remarkable spending figure for the United States.

For unknown reasons, it costs $9451 to provide health care to the average American. This is massively more than what it costs in comparable nations.

This explains why premiums and deductibles are so high—why it's so hard to provide universal coverage and care in this, our exceptional country. And yet, The USA 9400 are essentially never mentioned, even when the problems of health care and coverage are holding center stage.

Did you see The USA 9400 mentioned at all last week? Frank Richly, we did not! The closest we came involved that chat between Sanders and Cooper.

You can read the whole interview here. In answers to three of Cooper's six questions, Sanders cited the need to lower the bloated prices we pay for prescription drugs in this country. In response to Cooper's second question, he even offered this:
SANDERS (3/24/17): Anderson, I am talking to you tonight 50 miles away from the Canadian border. We can get there in an hour. They manage to provide health care for every man, woman, and child in their country at half the cost per person than we do.

The cost of prescription drugs in Canada significantly lower than it is in the United States. So the question is why are we not moving forward with a "Medicare for all," single-payer program guaranteeing health care to all people which will be much more cost effective than what we presently have?
On its own, a "Medicare for all," single-payer program wouldn't lower our health care spending to the level of Canada. But Sanders made an accurate statement about this remarkable state of affairs:

Canada provides health care for every man, woman, and child in their country at (slightly less than) half the cost per person than we do.

Sanders said it; Cooper heard it. The transmission ended right there. Here's our guarantee to you, the misused American citizen:

You will never see Anderson Cooper do an actual "news report" in which he dumps his cast-of-thousands panel and simply informs his viewers about the apparently crazy level of American health care spending.

You will never see Cooper present the numbers we have presented above. You'll never see him ask actual experts—not Jeffrey Lord!—to explain the craziness of those numbers, the craziness of that U.S. figure as compared to all the others in the developed world.

You'll never see Cooper do that! You will see him pretend to debate Lord night after night. But you'll never see Cooper tell Lord to scram so he can discuss those remarkable numbers.

You'll never see Cooper do that! And not only that:

You will never see Rachel Maddow present those remarkable data. You'll see her mug and clown and embellish and entertain, night after night after night.

But you'll never see her present those astonishing figures! The USA 9400 are among the missing, the disappeared, on her entertaining, corporate-fueled TV show.

Why don't you ever see those data on these cable "news" shows? We can't answer that question, but we can tell you this:

You haven't seen The USA 9400 in the New York Times either!

Two Sundays ago, you did see Anu Partanen, a Finnish journalist, write a long essay about the wonders of Finnish health care. (Plainly, the Finns are among the world's leaders in relentless self-affirmation.) Along the way, in paragraph 16, you even saw her write this:
PARTANEN (3/19/17): Overall, Americans spend far more of their hard-earned money on health care than citizens of any other country, by a very wide margin. This means that it is in fact Americans who are getting a raw deal. Americans pay much more than people in other countries but do not get significantly better results.
If you read all the way to graf 16, you got to read that sentence. Even then, you see the actual numbers, which would have looked like this:
Per capita spending, health care, 2015
United States: $9451
Finland: $3984
Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! Subtracting, that's almost 5500 missing dollars per person per year! No wonder insurance is dear!

In those numbers, you see the basic mystery of American health care. But, for reasons we can't explain, you will never see such numbers in the New York Times—and certainly not on the paper's front page, where those remarkable numbers belong.

Why won't Rachel tell you these things? We can't answer that.

That said, she's being paid maybe $10 million per year. (You aren't encouraged to know that.) Evidence suggest that corporate groups maybe don't, for whatever reason, want you to worry your little heads about The USA 9400, an important disappeared group.

No one can solve our health care problem! Also, no one is permitted to tell you about that important group!

Final point: Chomsky had a term for this. It was called "manufactured consent."

For that reason, he was disappeared! Do you ever hear him mentioned by your favorite entertainers?


MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017

Part 1—The road to a recent disaster:
A funny thing happened to liberal greatness on the way to November's election.

Sixty-three million American citizens decided to vote for Donald F. Trump. As a result, the hopeful pulled an inside straight and ended up in the White House.

Embarrassing! Four nights before Election Day, Professor Wang had told Lawrence O'Donnell that it couldn't possibly happen. Only a "giant weather event" could send Donald J. Trump to the White House, the hapless Princeton professor said.

No such weather event took place, but Trump end up in the White House. Ever since Election Day, liberal and mainstream elites have pretended to examine why Those People, the 63 million, decided to vote for Trump.

Except to people as clueless as Us, November's outcome really shouldn't have been all that startling. Because we're almost completely clueless, We were shocked by Trump's win, basically out of our socks.

Ever since that startling day, we've been trying to explain the behavior of those Trump voters. Being perhaps a bit tribally scripted, we've tended to explain their behavior in the way the editorial board of the Washington Post has now done.

On the whole, yesterday's editorial was informative and sensible; the piece is well worth reading. That said, the editors apparently felt obliged to start their effort like this:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (3/25/17): It is a political cliche that President Trump owes his electoral victory to the extraordinary support he received from white voters without a college degree, two-thirds of whom voted for the Republican. Much less settled is the question of why these largely low-income voters, once reliable Democrats, cast their lot with a brash billionaire from New York.

The precise source of the discontent that produced this outburst of reactionary populism is hotly debated; some of Mr. Trump’s support reflects motives, such as xenophobia or racism, that can be neither comprehended nor respected...
We invite you to note two basic points. Let's start with this:

Last November, Candidate Trump received support from tens of millions of "white voters without a college degree." Despite this fact, the editors seem to be seeking "the precise source of the discontent" that produced these tens of millions of votes.

The precise source—singular. That seems to suggest that there is some single explanation for those tens of millions of votes.

Expressed in a less flattering way, that seems to suggest that the editors think what tribal elites have always thought. That almost seems to suggest that the editors think Those People are all alike.

Presumably, that isn't what the editors would say they think. For whatever reason, it is what the editors said.

Second point:

After setting out in search of the source of all those votes, the editors end up discussing various possible sources of those votes. (Various sources—plural). But uh-oh:

As the editors start their search, they feel obliged to say this:

"Some of Mr. Trump’s support reflects motives, such as xenophobia or racism, that can be neither comprehended nor respected."

Among the various high-minded groups who constitute Us, the group Over Here, it's almost required by Hard Tribal Law. If you plan to discuss Trump voters, you're required to start with a murky statement about their bigotry, xenophobia, racism and all-around horrible motives.

People as fine as Us, the group Over Here, can't even comprehend such motives, we may feel inclined to say.

Please note: the editors make no attempt to say how many of those millions of voters are racists. In a similar way, Candidate Trump made no attempt, in his formal announcement speech, to say how many unauthorized Mexican immigrants are actually rapists.

A certain type of personality tends to slime large groups of people in such slithery ways. Donald J. Trump is one such person. Yesterday, so were the editors.

People as fine as Us can't even comprehend Trump voters' horrible motives! From that point on, the Post's editorial is informative and intelligent, indeed quite sympathetic.

That said: when you see Us, the good people Over Here, explaining those 63 million votes, you'll persistently see the two script points we've described.

You'll likely see a peculiar tic in which we evoke the peculiar idea that there is some single explanation for those millions of votes. Soon after, you'll see a punishing throw-away line about the racism, bigotry and xenophobia on display among Those People, the lesser breed Over There.

When you read that throw-away line, you're seeing tens of millions of people getting slimed by their betters. You're seeing them slimed in a suggestive rhetorical manner, a play straight outta Trump's remark about those Mexican rapists.

We make these observations for a particular reason. They lead us toward a brutal irony from last year's campaign:

From the liberal perspective, Donald J. Trump was the most god-awful candidate ever nominated for president. In a wide array of ways, his performance as a candidate was in fact utterly clownish.

In the realm of health care alone, the statements of Candidate Trump were the statements of a clown. (He was going to give us "something terrific.") Over Here in our liberal tribe, we had a wide array of well-informed people who knew how to explain that.

And yet, destructive and sad! Over here in our liberal tribe, We can no longer get Those People to listen to anything much We say! Candidate Trump was a world-class clown, but the people Over There refused to listen to Us.

Who was the better candidate, Candidate Clinton or Candidate Trump? In the end, needless to say, that's always a matter of judgment.

That said, to most observers in our tents, Candidate Trump was the most god-awful candidate ever let loose on the land. This should possibly maybe perhaps leave us asking this question:

Why was it so hard for Us to convince The Others of that?

Why couldn't We, the liberal giants, convince a few more of the folk Over There? What produced the horrible breakdown which led to Trump's narrow win?

Intellectual giants that we are, why couldn't We persuade The Others? We'll explore that puzzle all week. This puzzle leads us to ask two questions:

Who are Those People, the ones Over There? At the same time, Who are We?

What are we like, Over Here?

Tomorrow: A sad fact about Them and Us

As we wait for You-Know-Who's war...


In our tribe, it's mirth all around:
Michael Gerson asked an excellent question in yesterday's Washington Post.

He also wrote an interesting column. His question came at the start of the column, which carried this headline:

"Tribal truths and the lies that bind."

In the heart of his column, Gerson explored the way two warring tribes—one of the right, one of the left—sift all factual claims through rigid tribal filters. He's harder on the tribe of the right than he is on the tribe of the left.

Gerson's whole column is well worth reading. But as he started, he asked a good question about Donald J. Trump's latest ridiculous bundle of claims:
GERSON (3/24/17): It must be confusing to President Trump that the political system, the media and a majority of voters have suddenly called him on a deception, on a lie. It has seldom, if ever, happened before.

It did not seem to matter when he claimed to have evidence that President Barack Obama was born abroad; or when he insisted that crowds of American Muslims celebrated 9/11 in the streets; or when he said that the murder rate was the highest in half a century; or when he claimed the largest electoral-vote victory since President Ronald Reagan; or when he asserted that massive voter fraud cost him a popular-vote win; or when his press secretary claimed the largest inaugural crowd in history.

What about this particular accusation—that Obama ordered the bugging of Trump Tower—was finally too difficult for the body politic to swallow? How was this different from the maggoty meals that preceded it?
Gerson referred to "deceptions" and "lies." For ourselves, we'd be inclined to stick with "ridiculous falsehoods" (or "claims").

That said, Gerson was asking an excellent question:

At least since this time in 2011, Donald J. Trump has emitted a long string of "maggoty" claims. Why was this latest claim "finally too difficult for the body politic to swallow?"

Why were all those earlier groaners tolerated in the way they were? Why did this latest absurdity "finally" produce this degree of rebuttal?

That was an excellent question! In exploring the answer, Gerson considers American history dating back eight years. For ourselves, we'd extend that pitiful history back a great deal farther, at least to 1992.

We liberals! We've been tolerating manifest bullshit for at least the past twenty-five years. Last November, an astonishing price was "finally" paid for our many long naps in the woods.

In the wake of last November's election, our hapless, pitiful, slumbering tribe finally began its heroic "resistance." That's the term we now apply to ourselves in settings like the Maddow Show, where we're applauded each night for our heroic push-back.

KA-CHING! Tribal pandering of that type tends to produce strong ratings.

In the meantime, sad! We're being lionized by a self-adoring corporate stooge who mugged her way through the last election, avoiding every difficult topic, failing to challenge our journalistic elites, failing to spread a loud alarm about what might be happening.

Maddow mugged and clowned and played and self-adored and avoided. Members of our current "resistance" continued to nap in the woods.

Truly, our pitiful tribe has been remarkably hapless over a long stretch of time. We've tolerated decades of bullshit, dating back to the tales about the Clintons' many murders and Candidate Gore's endless lies.

In 2012, we tolerated all that shit about what Susan Rice supposedly said, thereby producing Benghazi. "Finally," we've begun to fight back, now that it may be too late.

Has our "resistance" started too late? This morning, the snark is general over the liberal world about yesterday's health care failure.

At one site, we've found a major blogger enjoying some LOLOLOLOL. Elsewhere, we found a compilation of the snarky tweets which were issued yesterday by some of our dumber members of Congress.

Why do we get to snark today? Because Donald J. Trump's "health plan" went down. Also, of course, for a second reason:

Because our president, Donald J. Trump, hasn't yet started his war.

For today, we'll leave it at that. But Gerson asked a very good question, even if his historical range was slight.

We liberals! We've tolerated "flights of fancy" for the past twenty-give years. No accusation has been so poisonous or so dumb that our self-impressed liberal tribe was willing to rise and fight back.

As Gerson notes, Donald J. Trump's latest flight—his ridiculous blizzard of wiretap claims—has occasioned extended push-back. Why has this flight been different from all other flights? Gerson asked a very good question, even if his historical range was limited.

Next week, we'll examine the way our hapless tribe helped pave the way for Donald J. Trump's upcoming war, the one he hasn't yet started.

Today, we liberals are happily laughing it up. We're laughing it up because, in the wake of our ultimate meltdown last year, Donald J. Trump, our American president, hasn't yet started his war.

It's LOL all over our world. As in so many earlier days, we're perhaps failing to look ahead to where this highly dangerous gong show may in fact be going.

Liberals, let's laugh it up and enjoy this day. This has been our tribal custom for the past twenty-five years!

Coming next week: Who the Sam Hill are Those People? Also, Who are We?

TIME FOR A CHANGE: Columnist Krugman, meet essayist Rich!

FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017

Part 4—Our own music men, Over Here:
Last Friday night, Carl Bernstein said it was time for a change in the way cable news covers Trump.

It's hard to argue with that! Could it also be time for a change Over Here, in our own liberal world?

We actually think it is! In our view, the liberal world hit rock bottom last year when Donald J. Trump pulled an inside straight and ended up in the White House. When you lose to a ludicrous candidate like that, it's almost surely time for a change in your own tribe's pitiful practices.

In what way should our liberal world change? For one suggestion, let's return to Paul Krugman's column this Monday.

Krugman's column ended as shown below, with a question about Trump voters. For background, see Part 2 in this award-winning series.

Krugman ended as shown below. To us, this passage seemed illustrative, and it seemed somewhat peculiar:
KRUGMAN (3/20/17): [W]hy did so many Americans vote for Mr. Trump, whose character flaws should have been obvious long before the election?

Catastrophic media failure and F.B.I. malfeasance played crucial roles. But my sense is that there’s also something going on in our society: Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like, mistaking bombast and belligerence for real toughness.

Why? Is it celebrity culture? Is it working-class despair, channeled into a desire for people who spout easy slogans?

The truth is that I don’t know. But we can at least hope that watching Mr. Trump in action will be a learning experience—not for him, because he never learns anything, but for the body politic...
Krugman has long been the journalistic MVP of our liberal world. We were saddened by that passage.

In part, we were saddened because Krugman almost seemed to be searching for "the reason" which would explain 63 million different votes, cast by 63 million different people.

That would be an extremely dumb thing to do. Technically, Krugman doesn't do it in that passage. But he almost seemed to drifting in that deeply tribal direction.

Krugman did something else in that passage. He said that "many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like." He seemed to offer that as a major explanation for all those votes for Trump.

As he cast this aspersion, Krugman seemed to say that the "many Americans" to whom he referred can all be found Over There.
The dumbbells were all Over There, in the tents of Those People, The Others.

He said he doesn't know how they got so dumb, but the dumb ones are all Over There.

We would very strongly dispute each of Krugman's points. We don't think it's gigantically hard to understand why people would vote for Trump. More significantly, the specific dumbness Krugman describes has also been on wide display Over Here, within our liberal tribe.

In our view, it's true! In our view, many conservative-leaning voters have, in fact, unwisely trusted a succession of con men over the past thirty years.

They've trusted Rush Limbaugh; they've trusted Trump. In our view, these assessments were unwise.

That said, we the people have always been inclined to fall for the blandishments of con men. And uh-oh:

Over the course of the past thirty years, we liberals have repeatedly been conned by such types Over Here. In the process, we've tolerated the rise of a world which inexorably led us to Trump.

We failed to see through our own music men, and own music men have been many. We in the liberal rank-and-file have tolerated horrendous leadership.

These leaders have routinely sold our interests away. Just as it has ever been, we haven't been able to see this.

What types of music men have we accepted? Let's start with the behavior of mainstream and liberal journalism during the Clinton-Gore years.

During that period, the crazy claims which constituted "Trump-before-Trump" sometimes came from the right. Jerry Falwell paraded around selling a film about the Clintons' many murders.

The mainstream press corps gave Falwell a pass. As this sick arrangement developed, we in the liberal rank-and-file peacefully napped in the woods.

Jerry Falwell was selling his ludicrous film in the mid-1990s. By that time, the more consequential wars against the Clintons and Gore had taken shape within the upper-end mainstream press.

We've recited this history a million times. Nothing will ever make career liberal con men discuss it.

Whatever! For reasons which are rarely discussed, the most consequential wars against both Clintons and Gore largely came from the elite mainstream press, not from the hard right. These wars were driven and enabled by figures admired by Us.

"Many Americans" couldn't see through Trump? We liberals couldn't see through the figures to whom we refer!

The great turning-point in modern political history came when Candidate Bush nosed past Candidate Gore. People are dead all over the world, though it has become blindingly obvious that we liberals don't actually care.

The war which permitted Bush to squeak past Gore was conducted by mainstream and liberal figures. Unfortunately, "many Americans" in our own liberal tends were unable to see what was being done by the high-profile figures to whom we refer, including those who were being made rich by the near-billionaire Jack Welch, conservative CEO of NBC News and its cable arms.

Even when told, we liberals weren't able to see what was happening. To make a fascinating story short, consider two astonishing facts:

To this very day, no one has ever written a profile of Chris Matthews' astonishing conduct during Campaign 2000, in which he waged war against Candidate Gore and against Candidate Clinton, and in the years which followed, during which time he continued his misogynistic attacks on Candidate Clinton.

Equally astonishing:

To this very day, no one has ever written a serious profile of Maureen Dowd's astonishing journalism—no one except Clark Hoyt, her own newspaper's public editor, whose blistering profile of Dowd's treatment of Candidate Clinton was widely ignored back in 2008.

Simple story: Within the guild, Matthews and Dowd were each too powerful to be discussed by their unprincipled colleagues. In these ways, we liberals were sold down the river by a full battalion of mainstream journalists, many of whom we foolishly regard as our liberal leaders.

"Many Americans" couldn't see through Candidate Trump? As a general matter, we would be inclined to agree with that judgment.

But "many Americans" Over Here have been unable to see through the vast assortment of gong-show artists who have been loosed upon us by various corporate suits. We can't even see through the clowning of Maddow! Why should The Others see through the nonsense of Candidate Trump?

Krugman's lament about Those People's blindness came at a propitious time. In this very same week, one of our dumbest music men would peddle his latest trombone.

We refer to head buffoon Frank Rich, who is known as "the great Frank Rich" when he's dragged out for musical purposes on the Maddow Show. Consider this blowhard's track record:

Start with the headlong chase after Bill Clinton's ten blow jobs. During that period, Rich authored the definitive dumbest remark in support of the greatness of Gennifer Flowers, a disordered person whose credibility ought to rated at zero.

Jump ahead to Campaign 2000. Once the primaries were over, Rich spent the whole of 2000 insisting that Bush and Gore were two peas in a pod. From a very high platform, he kept telling the liberal world that there was no difference between them.

Let's move to September 2002. As war with Iraq was being sold, Al Gore delivered a major speech warning against this move. (Almost no one else did.)

Rather than hail the most prominent liberal to make such a speech, Rich savaged Gore's for his unsightly motives, which Rich had somehow divined.

As for Rich himself, he never made a clear declaration concerning the proposed war; he then went on sabbatical as decision day drew nearer. A few years later, after the war had gone bad, Rich ran around to the front of the line. He wrote a best-selling book about the war which made him a larger lib hero.

In 2006, Gore starred in the film about climate change which went on to win an Oscar. Speaking to his brilliant friend Don Imus, Rich trashed Gore's motives all over again. He compared the Oscar-winning documentary to a high school instructional film.

Even the film's commercial success, and the eventual Oscar, didn't alter Rich's perspective. Finally, when Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Rich executed an instant 180. Overnight, he went from unrelenting ridicule to silly ridiculous fawning, as is the way of his ridiculous kind.

Frankly, "many Americans" in our own liberal tents haven't been able to see through ridiculous figures like Rich. Perhaps we ought to consider such facts before we puzzle over the failure of Those People, Over There, to see through a figure like Trump.

This week, of course, our biggest buffoon continued to give us liberals his trademark bad advice.

In a pitiful essay for New York magazine, Rich implored the liberal world to continue loathing and trashing Those People. This is terrible, ugly, stupid advice, advice which comes to us live and direct from the man who started out as the famous "Butcher of Broadway."

Rich went to Harvard, of course. Given that opportunity, he seems to have learned little except the best ways to kick down. Our Harvard man's pitiful headline is this:

"No Sympathy for the Hillbilly"

Sad! Over Here in our liberal tents, we haven't been able to see him for the false prophet he is.

Alas! We live in a time when a vast array of corporate entities teach us to loathe The Others. In case you haven't noticed, this is a very good way to make money on line, or in cable.

Rush Limbaugh has long been one such major corporate entity. Over Here, we're now creating our own.

It's true! Regular good and decent people will frequently be influenced, in harmful ways, by persuasive music men with prehistoric tribal pleadings.

That said, our tents are full of such music men Over Here. Krugman's column notwithstanding, this phenomenon isn't restricted to the judgments reached Over There, by Those People, The Others, hillbillies.

Krugman's new column moves in a much wiser direction today. He correctly describes the flow of this destructive game, noting the way "the media" have misled the wider world about the works of Paul Ryan.

Regular people, decent and good, have always believed music men. This morning, Krugman's aim is true. On Monday, he was kicking down—and forgetting to kick Over There.

Christopher Matthews was Trump before Trump. He got very rich in the process. He was working for Jack Welch at that time. This couldn't be mentioned because the rest of our liberal heroes wanted those Welch paydays too.

No one has ever told the liberal rank-and-file about that noxious history. On the leadership level, our own moral squalor is rank, epidemic—our own squalor, that of our own music men, the ones who got rich Over Here.

Next week: Who are Those People?

Savaging Donald J. Trump for his claims!


The Journal uses its words:
The Wall Street Journal hit Trump so hard the New York Times took notice.

In this morning's editions, Sydney Ember reported what the Journal said. We were struck by the way the Journal used its words:
EMBER (3/23/17): The editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is known for its conservative tone, but an editorial the newspaper published online Tuesday night would stand out even in the pages of its left-leaning peers.

The editorial was an extraordinarily harsh rebuke of President Trump, calling him “his own worst political enemy” and asserting that he was damaging his presidency “with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.”

In particular, the editorial board pointed to Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that former President Barack Obama had tapped his phones. “The President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle,” the editorial said...
For ourselves, we would have added one word to the Journal's list of crimes. Below, you see what the Journal said, and you can see our one-word addition:
THE JOURNAL: Trump is damaging his presidency “with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.”

THE JOURNAL EDITED: Trump is damaging his presidency “with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other ridiculous falsehoods.”
We would have stuck "ridiculous" in. That said, did you notice the word the Journal eschewed?

The Journal didn't say "lies!"

You can hammer Donald J. Trump without alleging "lies." The Journal, using its many words, did so rather capably.

Why shouldn't the Journal have used the word "lies?" Unless you're seven years old, there are various reasons.

In certain contexts, the word is perfectly sensible. In many others, it creates a pointless distraction—and an instant secondary debate the accuser is likely to lose.

Second-graders can't understand that. Is that the source of our problem?

Time magazine rolls over and dies!


Sympathy for the birther:
Yesterday morning, the New York Times published a report on the subject of false belief.

Many, many people have said that Brendan Nyhan learned everything he knows from us. Modestly, we don't make an opinion on that.

That said, Nyhan teamed with Amanda Taub for a news analysis piece which bore this headline:

"Why People Continue to Believe Objectively False Things"

Given the lunacy of our discourse, this topic would seem important. At one point, the reporters discussed the granddaddy of them all—the objectively false belief that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States.

The writers described the way false beliefs tend to regain their strength in the months and years after they've been refuted. Mainly, we were struck by the overall numbers in this passage:
TAUB AND NYHAN (3/22/17): Mr. Trump disavowed the “birther” myth in September 2016, conceding that Mr. Obama was in fact born in Hawaii. There was an increase afterward in the number of voters who said they believed Mr. Obama was born in the United States, but polling by Morning Consult suggests that part of that effect has already faded. In September, it found that 62 percent of registered voters said they believed Mr. Obama had been born in the United States, but in a follow-up poll early this month, that number had dropped to 57 percent.

This decline cannot be attributed simply to partisan bias; it occurred among both Democrats (who went to 77 percent from 82 percent) and Republicans (down to 36 percent from 44 percent).
In the survey taken this month, 57 percent of respondents said Obama was born in the United States.

In that same survey, 26 percent of respondents said he wasn't born in the U.S. An additional 17 percent said they didn't know.

(Is this an artefact of slobbering racism? Eighteen percent of black respondents said Obama wasn't born in the U.S.; 13 percent said they didn't know.)

Objectively, the fact that Obama was born in Hawaii has been settled. As such, this looks like the granddaddy of them all when it comes to contemporary false beliefs.

That makes Time magazine's interview with Donald J. Trump the latest remarkable bit of avoidance concerning the gentleman's history as king of the birthers.

Time's interview focuses on Trump's assortment of bogus claims. The magazine bills its lengthy report on Trump as "a cover story about the way he has handled truth and falsehood in his career."

The way he has handled truth and falsehood in his career? Strikingly, Michael Scherer never asked about Trump's birther claims during his interview. Trump's birtherism was only fleetingly mentioned in Scherer's cover report.

During the interview, Scherer never asked about the investigators Trump said he sent to Hawaii. He never asked about the mind-boggling, undisclosed facts Trump said his gumshoes had found.

He never asked if there had been such gumshoes, or if it had all been a lie.

Politely, Scherer ducked this topic in his interview, as many before him had done. Once again, it's stunning to see the way our upper-end "press corps" actually handles such tasks.

Before this, the biggest act of "birther avoidance" may have belonged to the New York Times. Last July, the paper did a lengthy, front-page Sunday report about Trump's birtherism. But they never asked Trump or his associates if he had simply been lying when he said he sent those investigators to Hawaii.

In the summer of 2015, the entire press corps took a dive. After Trump announced his presidential campaign, he told a few interviewers that he was no longer willing to discuss birtherism.

The entire press corps crawled away and took a nap in the woods. Basically, Trump was never asked about this topic again until the campaign was almost done.

Our upper-end, mainstream "press corps" is Potemkin all the way down. This is a fascinating, remarkable fact about our highly Potemkin culture.

Our press corps is phony/faux all the way down. Will someone alert Kevin Drum?

Also this: Has any journalistic or academic org ever interviewed survey respondents about this topic? What would all those people say about where they think Obama was born?

This is the grand-daddy of them all in the realm of modern bogus belief. Our big news orgs and our academics have chosen to take it in stride.

Nothing to look at, boys and girls! Children! Please keep moving!

TIME FOR A CHANGE: The fog of (24-hour) war!


Part 3—At CNN and the Times:
Was Carl Bernstein right, last Friday night, when he spoke with Anderson Cooper? Is it time for a change in the way CNN reports on Donald J. Trump?

Inevitably, there's always room for improvement! For one example, consider CNN's latest fuzzy report.

The fog was general over the famous cable channel last night. We'll cite the chunk of CNN's written report which was posted by Kevin Drum.

Last evening, CNN's Pamela Brown—her mother was a Miss America!—delivered this report to Cooper himself. According to Cooper, Brown was one of the reporters who "broke this story."

Presumably, he'd meant to say that she had broken this "news report:"
BROWN (/3/22/17): The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN....The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings.

....One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial.
According to a recent confession, Drum was born again on Election Day. Perhaps for that reason, we'd say he may have gotten a tiny tad over his skis in the comments he offered about this fuzzy report.

What's so "fuzzy" about that report? Let's consider the fuzzy term "suspected Russian operatives" as we try to discern what Brown actually broke.

According to Brown, this is what CNN has "learned:"

CNN has learned that information "indicates" that Trumpsters communicated with "suspected" Russian operatives to "possibly" coordinate the release of information. According to U.S. officials!

To us, that's a rather fuzzy claim. Consider the term, "suspected Russian operatives:"

According to CNN, does the FBI claim to know or believe that Trumpsters communicated with actual Russian operatives? Actually, the alleged communications were with suspected operatives, whatever exactly that means.

These questions come to mind:

Who suspects that the people in question may have been Russian operatives?

Presumably, the FBI currently holds this suspicion. That said, did the Trumpsters suspect that these people were Russian operatives, back then in real time?

Also, on what basis are these people suspected to have been Russian operatives? Were these people so suspected back then? Or are they just so suspected now?

We ask these questions for a reason. To wit:

Is it possible that the "suspected Russian operatives" in question are the good people of Wikileaks? At present, would Wikileaks people qualify for the somewhat fuzzy label of "suspected Russian operatives?"

If so, would Trumpsters have known about this suspected connection in real time? If we're talking about Wikileaks people, would the Trumpsters have had reason to suspect that they were in league with the Russkies?

We don't know the answers to any of these questions. Last night, CNN viewers were lost in the fog of war of a 24-hour kind.

In fairness, CNN's report was exciting. It was also remarkably fuzzy. The channel served a cocktail mixed from "possibly" and "suspected." Chasers of "suggests" and "premature" were also served.

At times like these, excitement is driven by such fuzzy reports—reports which will, in standard second-grade fashion, be referred to as "stories." That said, news orgs like CNN are loathe to spot the fuzziness in such exciting reports.

Consider the nonsense on CNN last Friday night, one hour before Bernstein piped up.

Last Friday night, Bernstein said it was time for a change. One hour earlier, Cooper and a panel of thousands had battled the fuzzy, indeterminate claims advanced by Jeffrey Lord.

Lord is the hardest-working, most frustrating man in show business today. Last Friday night, he showcased his ability to bring CNN's story-telling to a screeching halt.

Last Friday, Cooper and a panel of thousands were imagining what James B. Comey was going to say on Monday morning to the House Intel committee. The panelists agreed that Comey the God was going to clean Trump's clock.

The cast of thousands all agreed—Comey was going to say that Trump had been wrong with all that wiretap blather. But then, Cooper was forced to throw to Lord.

Here's what "the great frustrater" said for maybe the ten millionth time:
LORD (3/17/17): Anderson, I guess I'm going to be the lone voice here. I just respectfully disagree with all of my friends here.
Groans were heard across the land. There he went again!

After Lord discussed a transient point, Cooper took him where the rubber meets the road. For perhaps the ten millionth time, Lord lodged these observations about Donald J. Trump's prescient wiretap claim:
COOPER: Again, we'll know more Monday [when Comey testifies]. But according to the latest reporting, the Department of Justice report does not confirm the president's claims. Jeffrey, does the president need to admit he was wrong?

LORD: No! What the president needs to do—and frankly, I am totally dumbfounded at these Republicans on the Hill. What they need to do is take all the news accounts from Maggie's paper and put them out there and investigate those. Notice that Fox News has—

Notice that Fox News has retracted its report. The New York Times has not done so with these stories.
There he went again! For perhaps the ten millionth time, Lord was saying that "stories" in Maggie Haberman's New York Times support Trump's wiretap claim!

How many times had Cooper's panels been through this? Haberman responded with two speeches which were beside the point, then finally offered this:
HABERMAN: For the record, those stories do not say what Sean Spicer said—claimed that they had said. Sean Spicer cited these to suggest they backed up the president's claim that he was wiretapped by the previous president.

LORD: He was surveilled.

HABERMAN: No, that is not what those stories said.

LORD: It is, Maggie. I just read them today.

HABERMAN: No, it is not. No, it is not. What those stories—

LORD: It says people in the Obama administration were responsible for surveillance, and then that surveillance was leaked to the New York Times.

HABERMAN: First of all, that's not what they said.
All the panelists knew what Lord was talking about. They'd all seen this pointless discussion about a thousand times.

At the bare minimum, Lord was talking about this news report from the January 20 New York Times, a rather fuzzy news report with fuzzy claims about "wiretapping." Now it fell to Cooper to play his role in this well-rehearsed, time-killing game:
COOPER: Jeffrey, we've had the reporter that you have cited multiple times. You've cited his reporting claims. We've had the reporter on twice saying you are wrong. "My article did not say what Sean Spicer and the White House and you are claiming it says."

[Silly misstatement provokes good-natured group laughter]

LORD: What I am saying to you is that it is abundantly clear in those stories that people working for the Obama administration—and let's remember, again, as I've said before, when some bureaucrat in the Agriculture Department said ketchup was a vegetable, Ronald Reagan was personally held responsible. That's what we do with presidents. Hence, Harry Truman's "the buck stops here."

This happened on Barack Obama's watch with people in his administration. He was responsible.
As he's said before? Truer words were never spoken! Endless story short:

Cooper referred to Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg. He had appeared on his program several times, saying his January 20 news report doesn't support Trump's wiretap claim.

Now, Lord was saying that he had just reread the report that very day! He said that, properly understood, it did in fact support Trump's insightful wiretap claim.

This silly Groundhog Day discussion had occurred many times. At no point did Cooper ever ask Lord to cite the words of the Times report which supposedly supports Trump's claim.

At no point had Cooper ever cited the language in the report which refutes Trump's claim (or Lord's). And by the way:

If Cooper's panel had ever gotten into the New York Times report, they would have found some fuzzy language and claims, including remarks about "wiretapping." Certain parts of the somewhat fuzzy report could conceivably be taken various ways in these excited times.

One hour later, Bernstein was saying that it's time for a change in the way CNN reports on Donald J. Trump. Concerning that, we'll say this:

Back in the day, TV news ate thirty minutes each night. Today, cable news stars are paid large sums to eat a full twenty-four hours.

The excitement of the fuzzy claim keeps the whole show going. The failure to resolve any point plays a key role in this game.

When you have to fill large chunks of time, the inability to resolve any point is perhaps your best friend. Perhaps for that reason, the stars who are paid to extend this game tend to display analytical skills straight outta second grade.

Again and again, the Coopers seem to be working on second grade level. They seem weirdly unable to settle any point. As a result, like Freddy Krueger, Lord just keeps coming back.

Along the way, fuzzy claims keep things exciting and fun. Lord provides nightly conflict.

On CNN, a cast of thousands battles with Lord on a regular basis. Constantly, the valiant pundit is forced to "guess that he's going to be the lone voice here." He's forced to "just respectfully disagree with all his friends on CNN."

Five nights later, his CNN friends may report that the FBI has information that "indicates" certain things about what Trumpsters "possibly" did with "suspected" Russian operatives.

They push their fuzziness all night long. Excitement spreads; another long day is done.

Tomorrow: In our view, the answer to Krugman's question is, in part, Frank Rich

One of our tribe's most glorious seers!


Frankly, it keeps getting Richer:
Let's recall the latest glorious statement by "the great Frank Rich:"
Frank Rich, March 19, 2017: In Portsmouth, Ohio, the epicenter of opiate-pill mills and of Quinones’s book, Trump won by a landslide. As he did in Ohio’s Butler County, where Vance grew up and which now ranks eighth among all American counties in the increase in the rate of drug-related deaths between 2004 (when opioid fatalities first spiked) and 2014.

As polls uniformly indicate, nothing that has happened since November 8 has shaken that support.

Quinnipiac University/Poll, March 22, 2017: President Donald Trump is losing support among Republicans, white voters and men, leaving him with a negative 37-56 percent job approval rating from American voters, his worst score ever, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
Frankly, we're just saying.

Rich has been like this forever. But our tribe hangs on his every word, as their tribe is inclined to do with an assortment of seers.

Despite all this, we call Them dumb, insist that We are quite brilliant. This is the age-old logic of tribe, a logic in which our own tribe is deeply invested.

Our own tribe hit rock bottom last year. In line with the age-old logic of tribe, our tribe is unable to grasp this.

(Mandated tribal reaction: Why in the world would anyone engage in such odd disparagement?)

Unheated public school, temperatures near zero!


Oddly disparaging remarks about Jimmy Breslin:
Has this fellow Bob Somerby "been oddly disparaging about people who say that Donald Trump is a liar?"

Frankly, we're not sure. Yesterday, our favorite blogger, Kevin Drum, leveled that harsh accusation, but he offered no examples of this ongoing odd disparagement.

He quoted a recent post which may have oddly disparaged three high-profile press figures, including Mika Brzezinski. For today, we'll move on to oddly disparaging comments about the late Jimmy Breslin, with the hope that this may start to convey the apparently mystifying idea we've offered for nineteen years.

Jimmy Breslin died this past weekend at 88 years of age. We have no overall view of his long, high-profile career.

We have been struck by some of the ways in which modern journalists have lionized his work. In a lengthy, page A1 news report of Breslin's death, the New York Times' Dan Barry employed at least one fighting word:
BARRY (3/20/17): Mr. Breslin found early escape in newspapers. As a boy, he would spread the broadsheet pages across the floor and imagine himself on a Pullman car, filing stories from baseball ports of call...

After getting a job as a sportswriter for The New York Journal-American, Mr. Breslin wrote a freshly funny book about the first season of the hapless Mets, ''Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?'' It persuaded John Hay Whitney, the publisher of The New York Herald Tribune, to hire him as a news columnist in 1963.

Soon Mr. Breslin was counted among the writers credited with inventing ''New Journalism,'' in which novelistic techniques are used to inject immediacy and narrative tension into the news. (Mr. Breslin, an admirer of sportswriters like Jimmy Cannon and Frank Graham, scoffed at this supposed contribution, saying that he and others had merely introduced Dickens-like storytelling to a new generation.)

Unleashed, Mr. Breslin issued regular dispatches that changed the craft of column writing, said the journalist and author Pete Hamill, a former colleague. ''It seemed so new and original,'' Mr. Hamill said. ''It was a very, very important moment in New York journalism, and in national journalism.''
Uh-oh! Breslin introduced "novelistic techniques" (and "storytelling") into American journalism.

And not only that! Before long, Breslin has been "unleashed." Freed from the chains of the past, he "changed the craft of column writing."

Just for today, let's be oddly disparaging about these alleged facts. Let's review Jim Dwyer's column in this morning's Times, the latest column about Jimmy Breslin.

In our general view, Dwyer tends to write good columns. As a general matter, he doesn't seem to engage in novelization to the extent that many others do.

That said, we thought we might be reading a novel at several points in Dwyer's new column. To read that column, click here.

Dwyer's headline praises Breslin for delivering "Fresh Truths, Bluntly Told." But uh-oh! When we read the passage shown below, we suspected we might be reading a novelized truth, inaccurately told:
DWYER (3/22/17): Mr. Breslin died Sunday at 88, and had been mostly out of the public eye for more than a decade...From the long arc of his public work and life, what remains are deep truths that he told bluntly, and that he saw because he stepped away from the crowd.

Before Mark Davidson and Ruben Blancovich were born, Mr. Breslin had written about the funeral of John F. Kennedy as seen by the man who dug the grave. Along the route of a voting rights march in 1965 led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Breslin found an unheated schoolhouse for black children in “a wooden building that was a church when people in Lowndes County wore Confederate uniforms,” he wrote, noting a teacher’s remark that while it did get cold sometimes, “we hardly ever get near zero.”
Uh-oh! Let's note that, in his actual copy, Dwyer praises Breslin for telling deep truths. We'd be inclined to regard that choice of words as another warning sign, novelized storytelling v. journalism-wise.

What "deep truth" did Dwyer recall in his very next paragrapg? He said that Breslin, back in the day, had visited an unheated school for black kids in Lowndes County, state unknown.

He said Breslin had quoted a teacher making a deep remark. While it did get cold in that school, Dwyer quotes the teacher saying, "We hardly ever get near zero."

In an oddly disparaging way, warning lights flashed around here.

Why would a teacher have said that, we skillfully wondered. In how many southern states does the temperature ever get near zero?

We journeyed home from the coffee joint, determined to check this moving deep tale. Our verdict?

In this case, it seems to be Dwyer who handed us a novel in place of the actual facts.

As it turns out, the Lowndes County in question is Lowndes County, Alabama. It's not too far from Montgomery, where the average low in the coldest month is 35.7 degrees.

Set that to the side! For the essay by Breslin to which Dwyer seems to refer, you can just click here.

The teacher is question was named Josephine Jackson. In Breslin's piece, she said the school dis get cold in the winter.

That said, she tells Breslin that the schoolroom is heated, sometimes by coal and sometimes by wood. In her fuller quote, she says that the local temperature rarely goes below 25.

We're reading about a school for black kids in Alabama in 1965. If we can believe what Breslin wrote, it sounds like conditions in that school were extremely bad.

That said, something is extremely bad today in Dwyer's actual column! Perhaps in the drive to tell a "deep truth," he seems to misstate one basic fact and he selectively edits a quote.

Based on appearances, Dwyer was writing a bit of a novel. To make the truth of his novel deeper, he threw journalism away.

This made his novel more pleasing for his target audience. That said, people are dead all over the world because our journalists have long since been "unleashed" and permitted to con us this way.

It's oddly disparaging to note this fact, unless you think there's a problem with the fact that people are dead all over the world because people like Dwyer do deep things like this. That said, most of the dead aren't people like Us. So why should anyone care?

Does it "matter" that Dwyer slipped his leash and penned a short novel today? Not exactly, no. That said:

Truth to tell, we thought we might have spied a second novel floating around in his column. Tell the truth. Do you believe the following passage, with which today's column ends?
DWYER: The New York of the 1970s and 1980s was slumping into decay; Mr. Breslin, his friend Pete Hamill, and the Times columnist Francis X. Clines were among the leading voices to insist that the people of the city should not be mistaken for its wreckage.

“He went under a desk in his bedroom and brought out some of the books he has been reading,” Mr. Breslin wrote of Ruben Blancovich, then a sixth grader in Public School 206 who started in the third grade able to read some words only in Spanish and a few in English. “A paperback collection of major American poets, ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens, the novel ‘April Morning’ by Howard Fast, and a coffee-table book, ‘Colonial Craftsmen,’ with drawings and text by Edwin Tunis.”

Mr. Blancovich, who now lives in Albany, went on to Yale and a career in banking and entrepreneurship. He was grateful for the attention Mr. Breslin gave to a school that worked well. He “was looking at things that the rest of the news wasn’t focusing on,” Mr. Blancovich said.

He still has his copy of “The Red Badge of Courage,” he said, and the clipping of Mr. Breslin’s column.
Do you believe that story? Do you believe that Ruben Blancovich, then a sixth grader in Public School 206 who started in the third grade able to read some words only in Spanish and a few in English," had actually been reading those books when Breslin came along?

Everything is possible! That said, the use of such selective examples, real or imagined, has played a deeply destructive role in our discourse about low-income schools at least since the 1960s. On the brighter side, the constant resort to stories like that has made us liberals feel good.

We liberals have always loved to be told that low-income and minority kids are secretly a bunch of geniuses who are being kept from splitting the atom only by the heinous conduct of their public schools.

Because our own IQs are low, this novel makes us feel good.

We're too dumb to understand that this famous old novel is a fantasy novel. We're too uncaring to see the way this fantasy stands in the way of serious discussion of the practices of our urban schools.

We're too lazy to see the way this construct enables the slanderous claim that low-income kids do relatively poorly at school because of their ratty teachers with their fiendish unions.

We're too dumb, too lazy, too uncaring. We like our "stories," our daily soaps. In the wake of their unleashing, people like Breslin began to supply them, replacing complexity and accuracy with a series of deep alleged truths.

"Unleashed" in the manner Barry described, our journalists began writing those "novels." More accurately, they began constructing low-IQ penny novels, novels which were built around pleasing sets of characters.

Where did this unleashing lead? In March 2000, the Washington Post's E. R. Shipp wrote a short but brilliant column about the novelization of the 2000 presidential campaign. By then, one of the candidates was being novelized by one and all as human history's weirdest, most puzzling liar.

His name was Candidate Gore. Predecessors to Drum kept sucking their thumbs as this standard mainstream novel sent Candidate Bush to the White House. To this day, the career liberal world has agreed that this can't be discussed.

People are dead all over the world. Put another way, it's oddly disparaging to note the way the life forms who pretend to be journalists continue to play this amazingly childish game.

(Most of the dead are the dead of Iraq. Can we tell the truth just once? Despite the stories we tell about ourselves, we liberals don't care about people like them. No fact could be more plain.)

Final note:

In the fall of 1999, Breslin wrote one of the stupidest columns about the vile Candidate Gore. Breslin was no longer influential at this time, but he gave amazingly sharp voice to the various loathings floating around in the columns of those who were.

Many of those columnists came from Breslin's East Coast Irish Catholic tribe. By now, Breslin was no longer in the loop. Mary McGrory, Maureen Dowd, Michael Kelly very much were.

We were raised within that same tribe, at least until 1960, when our family lit out for the territories on the west coast. Within the journalistic realm, this tribe's behavior was especially heinous during Campaign 2000, which started in March 1999 and ran a full twenty months.

Breslin had freed Chris Matthews and the rest to write their favorite "novels." Brian Williams trembled nightly about Gore's troubling clothes, which us about his flawed character.

Angry at Clinton, they novelized Gore. People are dead all over the world because of the astonishing way these silly, money-grubbing children played their destructive games.

Today, Mika plays a second grader every day of the week; others are in the same ballpark. To defenders of the faith, to the people who favored the war in Iraq, it is considered oddly disparaging to continue to notice such facts.

A tremendously stupid (regional) novel: Breslin's novel about Candidate Gore was tremendously stupid. It turned on the idea that Gore, being Southern and white, was a slobbering racist, what with "his quaint Tobacco Road customs" and all.

To read Breslin's column, click here. It appeared in October 1999.

Breslin used the old Gore-invented-Willie Horton con as his basic text. Earlier in 1999, only people like Rush Limbaugh had been playing this stupid old card, which came from the RNC.

By November of that year, mainstream journalists were standing in line to recite this novel. We're not sure if anyone else linked the tale to Tobacco Road, but everyone could see the deep truth was bigger than mere facts.

(Some of these novelists tortured the language, thus keeping their statements "technically accurate." Others couldn't even be bothered with that.)

All the silly second graders typed the pleasing novel. Thanks to the greatness of Breslin, they'd long since been unleashed.

People are dead all over the world. How odd to recall such a fact!

Heroic grandmother to good, decent person!


The Post columnist's tale:
Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, The Color of Money, which appears in The Washington Post.

Needless to say, it's an "award-winning column."

This Sunday, Singletary wrote a column which ought to be widely read. It concerns the way she and her four siblings were raised by their heroic grandmother in West Baltimore, thanks in no small part to the availability of Medicaid.

The column starts like this. It's truly must-read work:
SINGLETARY (3/19/17): When my siblings and I went to live with my grandmother, we were a sickly bunch.

There were five of us. My older sister was 8. I was 4. The sister under me was 3, and my twin brothers were 1.

We were all undernourished.
We think you should take it from there.

We taught fifth grade in West Baltimore for nine years. West Baltimore is full of world-class people like Singletary's grandmother.

The world is full of people like that. Her granddaughter's column deserves to be pondered.

Were journos exposed to too much lead?


The evidence mounts:
On Saturday morning, March 4, Donald J. Trump issued the tweets heard round the world.

Was he lying when he issued his tweets? Is it possible that he really believed the things he tweeted that day?

We don't know how to answer that question. Luckily, Mika Brzezinski does. We quote her from today's Morning Joe:
BRZEZINSKI (3/21/17): Who actually prompted this, Michael Steele? Where did this start? Did it start with those tweets on a Saturday morning that were, apparently, lies?

I think we can now actually equivocally [sic] say the president was lying on a Saturday morning when he—I don't know, was it four or five tweets?—accusing a former president of a felony.
To watch this statement, click here, skip ahead to roughly 6:50.

For the record, it was four tweets that day. From context, we'll guess Mika meant we can "un-equivocally" say that Trump was lying, though we've recorded what she actually said.

Was Donald J. Trump lying that Saturday morning? We have no idea. We find the question intriguing for two different reasons.

First, we're struck by what this topic tells us about the intellectual skills of the mainstream press corps. Let's kick that around a bit.

We don't know why Mika seems to think that we now know Trump was lying. To us, it seems entirely possible that he believed the claims he thundered that morning.

We don't mean that as a compliment. But if he believed the things he tweeted that day, that would, by normal construction, mean he wasn't "lying."

That said, the skill level of our mainstream press corps is often remarkably low. Consider David Leonhardt's blustery column on this topic in today's New York Times.

When Leonhardt appeared on the scene, he was sold to us the rubes as one of the press corps' smart guys. Today, his column reads like a parody of competent thought. This is the way he begins:
LEONHARDT (3/21/17): The ninth week of Donald Trump’s presidency began with the F.B.I. director calling him a liar.

The director, the very complicated James Comey, didn’t use the L-word
in his congressional testimony Monday. Comey serves at the pleasure of the president, after all. But his meaning was clear as could be. Trump has repeatedly accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones, and Comey explained there is “no information that supports” the claim.

I’ve previously argued that not every untruth deserves to be branded with the L-word, because it implies intent and somebody can state an untruth without doing so knowingly. George W. Bush didn’t lie when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and Obama didn’t lie when he said people who liked their current health insurance could keep it. They made careless statements that proved false (and they deserved much of the criticism they got).

But the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before...
As he starts, Leonhardt says that Comey called Trump a liar without "using the L-word."

Could it be that Comey eschewed the L-word because he wasn't calling Trump a liar? Please please please don't ask.

The much more ridiculous part of that passage comes in paragraph 3, where Leonhardt says he has "previously argued that not every untruth deserves to be branded with the L-word."

It's hard to believe how dumb that statement is. You can't "argue" that some untruths aren't lies; the statement is true by definition. You might as well "argue" that some human beings aren't fifty years old, or that some married persons aren't men.

That pompous declaration by Leonhardt is eye-poppingly dumb. Meanwhile, Bush and Obama didn't lie? How does Leonhardt know that?

Whatever! As we said, the intellectual skill level of the corps is often remarkably low. In his work on lead exposure, Kevin Drum has often noted the fact that everyone over a certain age was heavily exposed in youth. When we read work like Leonhardt's column, we tend to recall what Drum has said.

Was Trump lying that Saturday morning? We have no idea.

As a general matter, is he a liar? We still aren't even real sure about that.

Is Donald J. Trump a liar? Or could an accurate diagnosis perhaps be more troubling than that? To puzzle over this second set of questions, consider this recent post by Josh Marshall.

Marshall calls Trump a liar too. As he does, he abandons an earlier possible diagnosis without explaining why he does so. This strikes us as weak, lazy, hurried work:
MARSHALL: Now we've gone to the ridiculous lengths of having actual congressional investigations. And the representatives of the President's party in Congress have said there is no evidence that this happened. They are of course hanging on this 'no evidence' locution to avoid the discomfort of calling their party's leader a liar. The press shouldn't share that loyalty.

In any other context, when we have a claim that it wildly improbable verging on impossible on its face, when no evidence is provided and when outside investigations say there is definitively no evidence whatsoever, we call those claims lies. Or the rantings of an unhinged person if we want to grant some accommodation for mental incapacity. If someone says aliens landed in their backyard and has a similar lack of any evidence whatsoever, we call that person a liar or a crazy person. We say it's not true. Full stop.

As we know, by definition, you cannot prove a negative. You can only show there is no evidence whatsoever to support the claim. But this isn't a seminar on philosophy and empiricism. We call these lies.
Marshall jumps around in this presentation. He starts by saying that we should call Trump a liar. In the second paragraph we've posted, he seems to offer two possible choices—Donald J. Trump may be a liar, or he may be "crazy"/"unhinged."

One paragraph later, that second possibility seems to be gone (again), with no explanation given. We get the joy of dropping an L-bomb. In the process, though, we may be getting the wrong or less significant diagnosis.

Marshall moves away from the possibility that Trump is simply "crazy" or "unhinged." For ourselves, we feel disinclined to do that.

Is it possible that Donald J. Trump truly is some version of unhinged/crazy? Sadly, we're afraid it is. Since he holds the nuclear codes, this is a much more serious possibility than the one on which Marshall seems to settle.

When Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott told Richard Nixon he had to resign, Nixon succumbed to reality. What would Trump do in a situation like that?

A mere "liar" would know it was time to go. Do you feel sure that Donald J. Trump would react like that?

We don't feel sure of that at all. What has Professor Wang said?

Regarding the reasoning there: "If someone says aliens landed in their backyard and has a similar lack of any evidence whatsoever," is it true that "we call that person a liar or a crazy person?"

Is it true that "we call these lies?"

Those statements strike us as perfect nonsense. In truth, we don't "call" such people anything at all, since there are no such people.

Just a guess: No one reading Marshall's column has ever been told, by a neighbor or friend, that aliens landed in their back yard but they can offer no evidence.

People never make such claims. For that reason, "we" don't "call them" anything.

It seems to us that Marshall basically found a way to state a preferred diagnosis. It seems to us that the ultimate truth may be much more troubling, vastly more dangerous.

TIME FOR A CHANGE: Krugman asserts that something has changed!


Part 2—Tell it to Harold Hill:
Early in last evening's 8 PM hour, Anderson Cooper introduced his pundit panel.

Rather, he began to introduce his panel. The CNN anchor said this:
COOPER (3/20/17): With that, joining us now is CNN national security analyst Steve Hall. He's a former CIA senior officer and a veteran of Russian operations.

New Yorker Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza is joining us. So are CNN political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger.
It seemed like Cooper would referee a discussion with four pundit panelists.

But then, dear God! Suddenly, the camera showed four more souls, and Cooper just kept going:
COOPER (continuing directly): As is Trump supporter and American Spectator senior contributor Jeffrey Lord, former Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Daily Beast senior columnist Matt Lewis.
Cooper proceeded to stage a discussion involving himself and eight other contributors. Inevitably, one of the pundits was Jeffrey Lord, the hardest-working, most maddening person in show business today.

We agree with what Carl Bernstein said on Cooper's Friday night broadcast. It's time for a change in the way the press corps, especially cable, reports on Donald J. Trump.

One change would reform the ridiculous way Cooper discusses Trump. Night after night, again and again, his program devolves into a battle in which hundreds of pundits attempt to deal with the various assertions of Lord, the most insistent and most frustrating of CNN's Trump whisperers.

Again and again, a familiar pattern plays out on Cooper's program. Lord reinvents the various things Donald J. Trump has said. As he does, he paraphrases past reports in the New York Times, maybe perhaps inaccurately or implausibly.

In response, Cooper's cast of thousands try to talk Lord out of his various claims. With respect to those New York Times reports, Cooper never makes the slightest attempt to define what the newspaper actually said.

Before the week is out, we'll review a recent example of this cast-of-thousands nonsense, which routinely recurs, Groundhog Day-fashion, on Cooper's CNN show. This format provides a wonderful way to pretend to discuss the news about Trump, without establishing any facts about the claims which consume another hour.

Bernstein was right! It's time for a change in the way Cooper presents the news. But then, it's also time for a change in the way we liberals operate Over Here.

In our view, our own liberal world pretty much hit rock bottom last year. We were confronted with the craziest candidate ever nominated for the White House.

Confronted with this craziest candidate, we somehow managed to lose!

Ever since that shocking day—Professor Wang had said it couldn't happen!—we liberals have insisted on blaming that outcome on Those People, the ones found Over There. It hasn't seemed to enter our heads that November's pitiful outcome might in some way be a reflection on Us.

In line with prehistoric thinking, it can only be a reflection on Them. For an example of what we mean, just check Paul Krugman's new column.

Let's start by stating the obvious. Within the journalistic realm, Krugman has been the liberal world's MVP for a very long time.

Plainly, he's one of the liberal world's smartest, best informed players. This makes his new column even more striking.

In our view, much of what Krugman says in his column is true. We'd say it's true that Donald J. Trump seems to have a "pathological inability to accept responsibility" for his own flaming misstatements.

As far as we know, it's true that this is an outsized version of a pre-existing tendency among major figures in the conservative world.

(One example from Krugman's column: "In the aftermath of the [2008] financial crisis, a similar inability to admit error was on display among many economic commentators.")

We assume all that is true. That said, we were struck by what happened when Krugman asked our liberal team's favorite question near the end of his column.

It's something we liberals love to do! Krugman tried to understand how Those People could have voted for Trump.

We liberals love to ask that question. Here's how the column ended:
KRUGMAN (3/20/17): [W]hy did so many Americans vote for Mr. Trump, whose character flaws should have been obvious long before the election?

Catastrophic media failure and F.B.I. malfeasance played crucial roles. But my sense is that there’s also something going on in our society: Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like, mistaking bombast and belligerence for real toughness.

Why? Is it celebrity culture? Is it working-class despair, channeled into a desire for people who spout easy slogans?

The truth is that I don’t know. But we can at least hope that watching Mr. Trump in action will be a learning experience—not for him, because he never learns anything, but for the body politic...
We liberals always take this approach! We take it as a reflection on Them that they chose to vote for Trump, "whose character flaws should have been obvious."

We don't see it as a reflection on Us when we say, for the ten millionth time, that we don't understand why Those People chose to do that. In this case, we were especially struck by one part of Krugman's lament.

We agree with Krugman on one basic point. In our view, Donald J. Trump's "character flaws" were, in fact, completely obvious long before last November.

That said, many voters believed that Hillary Clinton's character flaws were totally obvious too. Krugman's brief reference to "media failure" may in part speak to this point.

That said, we were most struck by Krugman's claim that something has changed in the U.S.A. when people can't see through a person like Donald J. Trump.

"Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like," Krugman writes. By "many Americans," he plainly seems to mean the many Americans found Over There.

In our view, many voters have shown poor judgment concerning the blandishments of Donald J. Trump. (We're willing to identify our view as a matter of opinion.)

That said, uh-oh! Tomorrow, we'll discuss a few of the various hustlers and con men we liberals have failed to see through in the past twenty-five years.

Any such list would be long, of course. It speaks to Krugman's growing tribalism that he can only see this failure of judgment occurring among Those People, the stupenagels found Over There.

We liberals have failed to see through a long list of hustlers and con men too! Beyond that, we point to Krugman's puzzling suggestion that the inability to see through figures like Trump is new on the American scene.

Citizens, please! We the people have always been susceptible to swindlers and con men. Our literature is rich with such stories—stories which revolve around a natural-born human trait, a trait of good decent people.

Last night, we shot pool at Washington's Cosmos Club beneath a photo of Mark Twain, who apparently shot pool in the very same room. When he wasn't thus occupied, Twain gave us the story of the Duke and the King, the "otherwise unnamed con artists" who manage to swindle an Arkansas river town in a famous part of Huckleberry Finn.

Way back in 1962, Meredith Willson gave us another such tale. His swindler, Professor Harold Hill, was a lovable non-professor professor who was selling magical trombones.

The good, decent people of River City fell for his skilled blandishments. In the end, Marian the Librarian, who fell for his soul, was able to turn him around.

We humans have always been inclined to get taken by the hucksters! This explains why we have an FDA and three hundred similar agencies.

Those agencies were invented to protect us against our human selves. Today, though, we liberals insist that the tendency to fall for music men is something new in American life—and that this human tendency can only be found Over There.

Krugam ended yesterday's column in a tribal way. Tomorrow, we'll mention a few of the music men whose trombones we liberals have purchased.

Having said that, let us also say this:

It may be time for a change in the way Cooper sifts Trump. That said, it's also time for a change in the way we liberals imagine the world.

Why won't Those People listen to Us when we tell them who they should vote for? In part, it's because they know us for who and what we are: folk who believe that human failing only exists Over There.

"Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like?"

This very basic human flaw has always been part of American life. And this very human imperfection is very much found Over Here.

Tomorrow: Our previous Donald J. Trumps