BREAKING: Ways to normalize The Crazy!


The Times soft-soaps Donald J. Trump:
Yesterday, Donald J. Trump did a lot of high-decibel talking about some very important topics.

In this morning's editions, the New York Times made the following statement in a front-page news report about the president's remarks:
BAKER AND SULLIVAN (6/16/18): As he often does, Mr. Trump misstated or distorted a variety of facts, large and small, over the course of the television appearance and subsequent conversation with reporters.
Trump had "misstated or distorted a variety of facts, large and small." The Times was willing to say that as a statement of fact, as part of a major front-page report.

Trump misstated or distorted a variety of facts? This included large misstatements?

At one time, that would have been regarded as a major news event. Today, though, the New York Times normalized Trump's wild misstatements in two major ways.

First act of normalization: The statement we've quoted doesn't appear at the top of the Times' report. It doesn't even appear on the Times' front page.

The statement appears inside the paper, on page A15, midway through the continuation of the front-page report. The Times quoted an array of misstatements before it bothered informing its readers that many of the president's statements had in fact been false.

In our view, the paragraph we quoted should have appeared on page one, at the very start of the news report. If the Times is prepared to say that a sitting president made a variety of misstatements, including large misstatements, the Times should report that fact early on.

Second act of normalization: In the hard-copy Times, the continuation of the front-page report consumes the top half of page A15. The bottom half of page A15 is consumed by Linda Qiu's latest strange "Fact Check" report.

What makes Qiu's report so strange? In hard copy, her report appears beneath this heading:
That said, this was a highly abnormal "fact check." Qiu's report starts like this:
QIU (6/16/18): President Trump appeared on Friday outside the White House for a wide-ranging interview on “Fox and Friends.”

The interview, which started at 8:30 a.m., morphed into an impromptu question-and-answer session with other reporters.

The following are highlights and fact checks of some of his statements.
Alas! Qiu reprints all sorts of wild statements by Trump, but many of these apparent "highlights" don't get fact-checked at all. Employing a confusing array of frameworks, Qiu and her editors reprint a wide array of statements by Trump, but fact-check only some.

Why would a major newspaper structure a "fact check" this way? We have no idea, but Qiu's report reprints many misstatements which never get fact-checked at all.

The New York is a very strong brand; it's also a very strange newspaper. Its judgments are persistently odd. Today, the paper's treatment of Trump's wild statements provides the latest example.

Modern history of The Crazy: The normalization of The Crazy started long before Trump. It was well underway in the 1990s, when upper-end newspapers like the Times normalized the headlong pursuit of pseudo-scandals involving Bill Clinton, then involving Al Gore.

The Crazy started getting normalized long ago. The process continued this morning. Our liberal world only began to complain when the normalization was extended to the crazy claims of Donald J. Trump—and in truth, we liberals only began to complain in earnest after the normalization of The Crazy helped get Trump elected.

We gamboled and played for a very long time. We knew Trump couldn't win!

We're off on a mission of national import!

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2018

That said, how did it happen:
We're off on a mission of national import. We'll have no fish today.

That said, how did it happen? Given yesterday's IG report, which finalizes judgments about Comey's actions, how did these events occur?
1) On the liberal world's favorite cable news program, Comey's July 2016 sliming of Clinton was aggressively applauded, on two consecutive nights, by the program's guest host!

2) When the corporate program's star returned from vacation the next week, she never mentioned Comey's name until late October 2016, when he struck for the record time. From early July through late October, no pushback occurred at all.
World literature is full of imagery in which the protectors are asleep at, or have abandoned, their posts. (Picture Sonny Corleone, getting shot down at the tollbooth.)

With that in mind, how did it happen? How did it happen that your interests were so completely abandoned on this wonderfully enjoyable TV show, whose mugging and clowning we so much enjoy? Not to mention its enjoyable, 18-minute stories about Herb Kalmbach, Nixon's lawyer!

For the past thirty years, we've been living in a world increasingly built on The Crazy. Donald J. Trump has become the leading example, but the culture of our own floundering pseudo-liberal world isn't real far behind.

Postscript: With establishment Washington, Comey had been anointed as the latest example of the world's most upright person. How do such errors so constantly happen? Also, does this explain why your protector had chosen to walk off her post?

BREAKING: Dahlia Lithwick is going numb!


Numb for the past thirty years:
We're sorry to pick on Dahlia Lithwick, who, we're completely sure, is a very nice person.

We've avoided citing her despairing essays in the past few months. But this sort of thing never stops, and yes, it is instructive.

In this new, featured piece at Slate, Lithwick says we're all going numb. This is the way her essay starts, despairing headlines included:
LITHWICK (6/14/18): It’s All Too Much, and We Still Have to Care/
What’s going on at the border is horrifying, but we can’t go numb and turn away.

As a purely descriptive matter, it’s surely true: We are all going numb. As Donald Trump makes war with Canada and peace with dictators and human rights abusers, the narrative is that everyone’s lost all feeling. Polls show the public believes that Trump paid off a porn star, and they don’t care. They believe that he lies habitually, and they also don’t care. A Pew poll released last week showed that nearly 7 in 10 Americans “feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days,” which is how we end up with real journalists like Chuck Todd pushing a humorous pharmaceutical solution to the problem of constant breaking news destroying our minds.
We're sure that Lithwick is a very good person. But these repeated essays help explain how we all got to this place.

According to Lithwick, "we're all going numb."

"Constant breaking news" is "destroying our minds," she says. Despite this, "we still have to care."

Earth to Lithwick:

Many of us aren't going numb. And many of us—specifically, the useless meritocratic elite of which Lithwick is a member—has been utterly useless, and thoroughly numb, for at least the past thirty years.

That sat through every assault on reason conducted by the mindless elites to whom they hoped to belong. They sat through the endless charades of the endless Whitewater pseudo-scandals. They then sat through the twenty months of their press corps' "war against Gore," the war which sent Bush to the White House.

They noticed nothing. They spoke about nothing. Now, as they start losing their grip. they tell the world that we are all going numb.

We're sorry, but that isn't true.

How numb are members of Lithwick's class? Good God! Look again at the way her mind works, even today:
LITHWICK: As a purely descriptive matter, it’s surely true: We are all going numb. As Donald Trump makes war with Canada and peace with dictators and human rights abusers, the narrative is that everyone’s lost all feeling. Polls show the public believes that Trump paid off a porn star, and they don’t care....
In fairness, she mentioned Canada and North Korea first. But what's the very next thing that bothers her?

On one occasion, in 2006, Donald J. Trump is alleged to have had sex with a money-grabbing porn star; in a world which goes crazy when someone has sex, he paid her not to say so. For unknown reasons, this is the first thing that pops into Lithwick's head, other than the news of the past few days.

Lithwick belongs to a profoundly useless "meritocratic" elite which functions a lot like a cult. They've failed the public every step of the way. She keeps failing again.

We have no doubt that Lithwick is a very good person. But the elite to which she belongs is a grasping, useless elite.

They've persistently kissed the ascots of power. How devoted are they to the people who hold it? Neither Lithwick, nor anyone else (except Clark Hoyt), ever wrote a serious profile of Maureen Dowd's repellent work. Neither Lithwick, nor anyone else, ever wrote a profile of the lunacy which Chris Matthews produced for roughly ten years, before he finally flipped in 2008.

Dearest darlings, it just isn't done! But decades of silence from this elite is what made Trumpism possible.

Dowd and Matthews, and many others, were Trumps before Trump became Trump. The Lithwicks averted their gaze and agreed not to speak. They had important careers to build—careers among this utterly preposterous, brain-dead elite!

First it was Yale, then Stanford Law. From there, we got to this:

Everybody's going numb! Why can't Emma save us?

The constant breaking news: Stating the obvious, the "constant breaking news" of which Lithwick speaks isn't news at all. It's just a bunch of corporate hacks speculating about The Chase—and doing so all day long.

Why do they speak about nothing else? Why are they happy to speculate? It's because they actually care about nothing else, and they never have! And by the way:

Watching them do this convinces the public that maybe they should vote for Trump. That, plus the C-bombs and F-bombs from our most brilliant "artists."

In the end, this is the broken-souled culture of Lithwick's meritocratic elite. Yes, they "went to the finest schools." But because they're so empty, they're useless.

GAPS AND THEIR DENIAL: Why not open more high-powered schools?


Part 4—Plus, more about "advanced classes:"
How many of New York City's kids attend their city's eight (or nine) prestigious "specialized high schools?"

Quite possibly, more than you think! In last Saturday's New York Times, Jim Dwyer said the current fight about admission procedures at those schools "affect[s] just about 2 percent of the city's students."

We're not sure what Dwyer meant. But a healthier chunk of New York's high school population seems to attend those eight (or nine) challenging, high-powered schools.

Four of the prestigious nine are actually quite large. Others are quite small. Here are the approximate enrollments of the eight schools currently in question, the schools which base admission on one lone admission test and on nothing else:
Approximate enrollments at eight specialized high schools:
Bronx High School of Science: 3100
Brooklyn Latin School: 560
Brooklyn Technical High School: 5800
High School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering: 440
High School of American Studies: 400
Queens High School for the Sciences: 415
Staten Island Technical High School: 1560
Stuyvesant High School: 3400

Total enrollment: Roughly 15,700 (four years)
As best we can tell, total enrollment in New York City's high schools is somewhere north of 230,000. That would mean that roughly seven percent of Gotham's high school students attend one of those eight specialized high schools.

If you throw in the famous LaGuardia High School for the arts (enrollment, roughly 2700), something like eight percent of New York City high school students attend one of the city's nine "specialized" schools.

In theory, that means that a fairly large number of kids are attending high-powered, "academic" high schools. As we noted yesterday, Mayor de Blasio thinks there are a lot more kids in the city's schools who could benefit from this type of instruction.

The mayor could be right! Sadly, though, the mayor hasn't proposed the obvious step which seems to follow from such an assessment. He hasn't proposed that the city should open additional high-powered schools to serve all these talented kids.

Instead, the mayor has taken the approach our deeply strange, peculiar tribe seems to adore. He has proposed leaving the total number of seats pretty much where it is, but inaugurating a racial/ethnic war over who gets to occupy them.

On its face, this approach seems a bit cruel and obtuse. It seems so obtuse that it seems to capture our liberal tribe's love of "identity," and of the endless identity wars in which we get to pretend that our tribe is the tribe which is morally great.

Why doesn't Gotham simply open a few more high-powered schools? Below, we'll provide an additional way for you to ponder that fairly obvious question.

For today, we thought we'd help you think about the many kids who may not be prepared to benefit from high-powered high schools. Those kids tend to get left behind—essentially, abandoned—when emotional liberals like Dwyer and de Blasio adopt the standard position.

Let's return to something Dwyer said near the start of his column. Crocodile tears splashed onto the page as he cited one of the roadblocks faced by Gotham's many talented high school students:
DWYER (6/9/18): Now, in a system where the overwhelming majority of students have no access to advanced science or math classes, no matter how capable they are, the mayor and the new schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, are campaigning to change the admission process at the specialized schools, the most famous and prestigious in the city.

A single competitive test on one day decides admission. Black and Latino students, who make up about two-thirds of the public school population, are only 15 percent of those offered seats at the eight specialized schools.
As noted, we don't know where Dwyer got the figure of 15 percent. In the essay to which he refers and links, de Blasio says the actual figure is "around nine percent."

These data seems to say that the figure this year was at least 10.4 percent. Whatever the actual number may be, we're talking about massive under-representation in these high-powered schools by the city's black and Hispanic kids.

Let's skip that point for now. Instead, let's focus on Dwyer's complaint about the way "the overwhelming majority of students have no access to advanced science or math classes, no matter how capable they are."

No matter how capable they are! Keep that phrase in mind.

Later in his column, Dwyer laments this state of affairs again. As he does, the tells a sad, misleading story—a story our addled, repulsive tribe had told for at least fifty years:
DWYER: Most city students never come near a physics classroom. Although it is the keystone discipline of modern science and technology, the subject is barely taught in the public high schools, outside a select few programs such as those at the specialized schools and elsewhere.

That lack of opportunity hits with greatest force in schools where most students are black or Latino, according to Angela Kelly, a professor of science education at Stony Brook University.

''If a student wants to pursue a college major in life science, engineering, or health, physics is really a gateway course for being able to be succeed,'' said Dr. Kelly. ''Having limited opportunity to learn physics has many social and economic ramifications.''

That tells us something else. Hidden behind the proxies is another monumental injustice: The supply of excellent schools cannot meet the demands of capable students, whatever their backgrounds.
That's how Dwyer ended his column. As de Blasio had already done to a greater extent, he painted a familiar picture:

The city is full of capable high school students. These capable students are getting screwed by the lack of "advanced classes" in their crappy high schools.

We liberals have been painting this picture ever since we started pretending to care about black kids. As we do, we throw hundreds of thousands of New York City kids under a big tribal bus, after which we pretend they aren't there.

We misinform complacent Times readers about the actual state of play in New York City's schools. We disappear the city's gigantic achievement gaps. In their place, we position a pretty, false picture.

Alas! Right in his second paragraph, as he decried the lack of "advanced classes," Dwyer linked to this report from July 2015.

The report, by Hemphill, Mader and Cory, is, in fact, highly instructive. But it flies in the face of the pretty picture Dwyer and de Blasio paint for our uncaring, self-impressed tribe.

The instructive report to which Dwyer linked was published by The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. The report described the upsides and downsides of New York City's decision to replace its gigantic, traditional "neighborhood" high schools with a large number of much smaller schools—with smaller high schools in which struggling students were less likely to fall through the cracks.

On balance, the authors felt this had been a constructive move, but there had been some downsides. At one point, they described the lack of those "advanced classes" in many of these reconstituted smaller schools, though it turns out that Dwyer slightly misstated the situation:
HEMPHILL, MADER AND CORY (7/15): Another finding of the Center’s analysis shows just how daunting that challenge could be. Today, 39 percent of the city’s high schools do not offer a standard college-prep curriculum in math and science, that is, algebra 2, physics and chemistry. More than half the schools do not offer a single Advanced Placement course in math and about half do not offer a single Advanced Placement course in science. For a complete list of schools click here.

Roughly 21 percent of New York City high school students attend schools that don’t offer courses in both chemistry and physics. Many of these are the new small high schools that proliferated during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And even at Marie Curie and other small schools where both chemistry and physics are taught, too many students lack the grounding in math needed to take or pass them.
In fact, the authors were talking about the lack of "Advanced Placement" courses, not about "advanced classes." The difference will seem minor to some. It's a difference nonetheless.

The greater significance lies in the last highlighted statement. Uh-oh! Even at the smaller schools where chemistry and physics are being taught, "too many students lack the grounding in math needed to take or pass them."

This starts to challenge the pleasing picture painted by Dwyer and de Blasio. A bit later in their essay, the authors—to whom Dwyer had linked—blew that picture apart:
HEMPHILL, MADER AND CORY: [T]he new small schools also operate under severe constraints. Many of their students, for example, arrive in 9th grade two, three or even four years behind grade level. In these schools, remediation is the order of the day. In the arena of science and math, the schools’ response has been to focus resources on helping kids meet the minimum required for earning a Regents diploma: passing one Regents exam for math (usually algebra), one for science (usually living environment), as well as Regents tests in English language arts, U.S. history and world history.

Some struggling high school students, of course, are late-bloomers. They hit their stride as freshmen, bring themselves up to grade level and then are ready for more advanced coursework in their upper-class years. But while small schools may help such students catch up, with notable exceptions they’re also generally not helping them advance to higher-level coursework—or even offering such classes.


Consider the now virtually extinct large neighborhood high schools of New York City. Perhaps only 1 percent of the 3,000-plus students at one of them might have been prepared for advanced math, chemistry or physics. Those 30 or so students, however, represented a critical mass large enough to warrant offering such courses. So a late-blooming learner might well have been able to land a seat in such a classroom. In a high school of 400 kids, however, the comparable critical mass for creating advanced classes has to be much larger than just 1 percent of the students before it makes sense to commit the necessary time and effort. Sometimes, that critical mass simply doesn’t exist.
In that essay, to which Dwyer linked, you see the reality he disappeared.

According to Hemphill, Mader and Cory, it actually seems to be true! Some capable students really are missing out in New York City's other high schools—in the high schools which are neither prestigious nor "specialized."

Some students may be missing out in those schools. But the number is perhaps one percent of their students!
The other 99 percent of the students may be years behind "grade level" when they enter these high schools. It will take a major act of remediation for them to get back to mere "grade level." By no sane assessment are they prepared for "advanced classes" in physics, let alone for formal Advanced Placement courses.

In his column, Dwyer did what our liberal tribe has done for the past fifty years. He threw the 99 percent under the bus and showcased the kids who were left.

This helps us liberal readers feel upright, moral and pure. It also lets us go back to sleep in the face of the enormous gaps their favorite paper, the New York Times, makes a point to avoid:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Judged by a very rough rule of thumb, the average black kid is five years behind the average Asian kid in math—at the end of eighth grade! However accurate that very rough assessment may or may not be, that's the basic reality which was being discussed by Hemphill, Mader and Cory.

Dwyer, who linked to their report, disappeared those gaps. De Blasio did so to a greater extent in his earlier essay, to which Dwyer referred and linked.

Giant, enormous achievement gaps exist in New York City's public schools. A certain percentage of Gotham's ninth-graders are prepared to be challenged by the high-powered courses of study offered at those specialized high schools. But a very large number of Gotham's kids are living a different reality.

Our horrible tribe has always chosen to wish those kids away. We've been playing that game for at least fifty years, praising ourselves for our moral greatness as we peddle fake stories about them.

For today, we close with that one basic question. If de Blasio feels there are so many talented kids ready to enter those high-powered schools, why doesn't he open additional high-powered schools? Why doesn't he expand the number of high-powered seats available to such kids? Why does he seem to prefer to start the latest race war?

Why would anyone make such a choice? To ponder this important question, you can just click here.

Still coming: A few more thoughts about different groups of New York City's kids

BREAKING: Citizen dumps The One True Channel!


What David Von Drehle said:
In today's column, David Von Drehle says he spoke to three non-journalist friends in the past week.

We were struck by what the third friend said. The third friend told him this:
VON DREHLE (6/13/18): The third [anecdote] involves a friend who says flatly, “I hate Trump”—yet adds that his TV is no longer set to MSNBC. “They’re just so biased and slanted, it has become painful to watch.”
We agree that The One True Channel is sometimes painful to watch. A times, the work is utterly foolish. CNN can be worse.

At tribalized times, members of tribes may differ from Von Drehle's friend. They'll be able to see the lunacy Over There, perhaps not where they themselves live.

More on The One True Channel tomorrow. Kat Stoeffel's piece in the Sunday Review was painful to read but important.

BREAKING: Drum is flummoxed by what he sees!


He's seeing the soul of our species:
Yesterday, Kevin Drum said he was flummoxed by what's going on around him.

Though he cited no specific examples, he seemed to refer to press and pundit reaction to Donald J. Trump's "historic" summit, the one which has saved the world.

"I feel like I’m in some kind of parallel dimension or something," Drum wrote. He referred to "folks who are suggesting this is a 'good first step,' or we’re 'no longer on the brink of war,' or 'maybe Trump really does have a new relationship with Kim.' "

"Have I lost it completely?" Drum asked. "Where is this stuff coming from?"

We're happy to say that Kevin Drum hasn't lost it at all! But we can explain where that stuff is coming from:

The current ludicrous behavior is coming, live and direct, from the soul of Homo sapiens. We simply aren't built for times like these. It's all anthropology now.

Needless to say, Drum's aim is true; the punditry has been astounding. We'll suggest you start with David Ignatius' column in this morning's Washington Post.

In his specific assessments, it's clear that Ignatius knows that the summit was a farce engineered by a madman. But his specific assessments alternate with the repetitive praise he showers on Trump, starting in paragraph 1.

Ignatius writes like a North Korean who knows he must praise Dear Leader. He signals the fact that he knows what occurred.
But as he starts, he says this:

"Credit President Trump for seizing the diplomatic moment at the Singapore summit." And as he ends, he says this: "Let’s celebrate Trump’s success in Singapore."

Along the way, Ignatius says that Trump "is getting some deserved global applause." At one point, he even says this:

"It was a breathtaking piece of mutual audacity for Kim and Trump to push each other to the edge of the cliff and then walk back." Ignatius seems to be in thrall to a pair of dear leaders today!

Simply put, this is The Crazy. It's being expressed from within the soul of a floundering, ill-equipped species. That said, Ignatius reads like a fiery critic of Trump compared to much that appears in this morning's New York Times, whose headlines and boxed sub-headlines speak to the craziness which emerges from our profoundly non-"rational" kind.

The Times' headlines and sub-headlines are straight outta La-la-land. On our hard-copy front page, the headlines atop Mark Landler's featured news report say this:
Trump Trusts Gut in Persuading North Korea to Disarm
Did Mika write that second headline? The notion that Trump "trusted his gut" is straight outta her daily disordered talk. It's a lingering staple of Late 1990s Speak, when the boys and girls decided that "authenticity" was all.

Meanwhile, when in the world did Donald J. Trump "persuade North Korea to disarm?" Atop page 1, the New York Times seems to be explaining a major accomplishment which, of course, didn't occur!

(Inside the paper, a boxed headline on Landler's piece helps explain how Trump managed to do what he hasn't done. "Using flattery, cajolery and a slick film for persuasion," the boxed sub-headline says.)

Also on the Times front page, a NEWS ANALYSIS by David Sanger appears beneath this secondary headline:
Major Gamble Rests on 'Special Bond'
The foolishness of the "special bond" basically speaks for itself. Also on the front page, we get some palaver from Motoko Rich, who may have been the most incompetent reporter we've ever seen during her run as a Times education reporter.

Rich is covering world affairs now. The headline on her front-page report says this:
Pageantry Aside, a Summit Drama Built on Impromptu Moments
Bring on the body language experts! Also, send in the clowns!

Inside the Times, Max Fisher's "10 Takeaways" almost defy comprehension. Most incredibly, the paper's featured editorial flashes this boxed sub-headline:
The rest of the world holds its breath waiting to see if this new relationship will lead North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
In his own new column today, Nicholas Kristof wrote an excellent lede paragraph—but he used it as paragraph 14. Meanwhile, consider what we found today on the silly, upper-class newspaper's reimagined page A3.

According to the daily Spotlight section, Landler, who wrote the paper's featured news report, chatted with Mark Barbaro by phone "just hours before the historic handshake" between the two lunatic leaders. More specifically, the pair of Timesmen chatted about the way each of the summitteers "spent his pre-curtain call hours" in Singapore.

How did the the dear leaders spend their free time? According to the Spotlight section, this is part of what Landler said:
"It's a fact that Kim Jong-un is a fun-loving guy. Intelligence reports on North Korea will tell you that he likes a party. In fact, people say he's pretty much a carouser. It is a surprise that he would be so public about it in a place he's never visited. This is a guy who continues to surprise people."
With that, we return to Drum's very important questions. As we do, we remind you of certain things we've told you for many years:

All too frequently, it's very, very hard to believe that our journalists are actually human. On various occasions, we've asked you if it's possible that they're actually misfiring androids, or possibly extraterrestrials or some unknown kind.

Today, we'll tell you what they actually are—they're failing members of Homo sapiens, breaking down during an historical epoch which requires skills our species lacks.

Final point:

We said long ago that we should be discussing the possibility that Trump is "mentally ill" in some way. In January, the New York Times, apparently cribbing from Josh Marshall's work, said we mustn't do that, and the children all fell in line.

Sorry! If you don't discuss Donald J. Trump within that admittedly difficult context, you can't discuss Donald J. Trump at all.

That question is a deeply important question. It could lead a lesser person to loathe Donald Trump. It could make a kinder person pity him.

That said, that question take us well beyond the limited capacity of our species. Our species is failing quite badly right now. You can see the androids breaking down on "cable news" each night.

Correctly, Drum praises the West Coast Times: One newspaper got it right. For Drum's report, click this.

Kristof's graf 14: In hard copy, this was Kristof's fourteenth paragraph:

"It’s breathtaking to see an American president emerge as a spokesman for the dictator of North Korea."

That would have been a great place to start. He ran it as graf 14.

He opened with the softer claim that Donald J. Trump was "hoodwinked." That implies that Trump is basically sane, and that he was acting in basic good faith.

Does anyone know such things to be true? Of course! Our "press corps" does!

GAPS AND GAP AVOIDANCE: Inventing a cadre of superstar students!


Part 3—The breeze from Wobegon:
It's the con our liberal world simply never stops selling.

This con has been active for at least fifty years. Our team never quits with this con.

To which con do we refer? We refer to the con in which we pretend that our low-income, urban, minority schools are crawling with superstar students.

The beauty of this particular con is fairly obvious. It absolves our team from the task of addressing the giant achievements gaps which obtain in a city like New York. It lets us dodge an obvious fact:

In the end, we simply don't care about struggling, low-income kids; few things could be more obvious. In effect, the con to which we refer today lets us borrow Garrison Keillor's joke about Lake Wobegon, "where the children are all above average."

Full disclosure: Lake Wobegon was fictional, but New York City is not. For ourselves, we may have encountered this con for the first time in the late 1960s, when we read Herbert Kohl's 36 Children—an iconic book about Kohl's allegedly giant success teaching sixth grade in New York.

Enough with all the background noise. Let's return to the present.

We thought we encountered a hint of the "Wobegon con" when we read Jim Dwyer's column in last Saturday's New York Times. As we noted yesterday, Dwyer wrote about the imperfect process by which New York City's eighth-graders get admitted to eight of its nine high-powered "specialized high schools."

The eighth-graders take a one-day test. Admission to those high-powered schools is granted on the basis of those test results alone. Plainly, that's an imperfect system. But even as Dwyer began his piece, we almost thought we sensed a breeze blowing off Wobegon:
DWYER (6/9/18): In New York's ragged history of race, class, privilege and equity, the city's specialized high schools have long been proxies. For some, they are the ideal of meritocratic opportunity, incubators of working-class genius and talent; others see their admissions policies as the picture of ''monumental injustice,'' as Mayor Bill de Blasio described them this month in Chalkbeat.

Now, in a system where the overwhelming majority of students have no access to advanced science or math classes, no matter how capable they are, the mayor and the new schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, are campaigning to change the admission process at the specialized schools, the most famous and prestigious in the city.
As we noted yesterday, that's the way Dwyer started his column. In that highlighted statement about all those capable students, we almost thought we sensed that breeze from Wobegon.

For the record, that statement about "advanced classes" is perhaps slightly misleading; we'll discuss that point tomorrow. For today, we'll show you the part of Dwyer's column where the breezes began blowing harder:
DWYER: Most city students never come near a physics classroom. Although it is the keystone discipline of modern science and technology, the subject is barely taught in the public high schools, outside a select few programs such as those at the specialized schools and elsewhere.

That lack of opportunity hits with greatest force in schools where most students are black or Latino, according to Angela Kelly, a professor of science education at Stony Brook University.

''If a student wants to pursue a college major in life science, engineering, or health, physics is really a gateway course for being able to be succeed,'' said Dr. Kelly. ''Having limited opportunity to learn physics has many social and economic ramifications.''

That tells us something else. Hidden behind the proxies is another monumental injustice: The supply of excellent schools cannot meet the demands of capable students, whatever their backgrounds.
For what it's worth, those highlighted statements all seem to be accurate, or at least technically so. Still, we thought a breeze was possibly blowing off a (fictional) lake as Dwyer seemed to describe a giant school system crawling with "capable students."

An obvious question arises at this point in Dwyer's column. If New York City has that many capable students seeking advanced classes in math and physics, why doesn't the city open additional "specialized high schools?"

Why stick with eight high-powered schools? Why not start eight more?

Also, why stage a racial/ethnic war about the seats in the schools which exist? Why not open additional high-powered schools to serve all those high-powered students?

We'll discuss that obvious question tomorrow. For today, let's move on to the essay by Mayor De Blasio—the essay Dwyer cited right at the start of his column.

Could a breeze be detected in Dwyer's piece? In de Blasio's essay, the winds began to howl.

We have no doubt that Mayor de Blasio is a good, decent person. But fifty years later, we think progressives should perhaps react with angry contempt to essays which start like this:
DE BLASIO (6/2/18): I visit schools across this city and it never fails to energize me. The talent out there is outstanding. The students overflow with promise. But many of the smart kids I meet aren’t getting in to our city’s most prestigious high schools. In fact, they’re being locked out.

The problem is clear. Eight of our most renowned high schools–including Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School–rely on a single, high-stakes exam. The Specialized High School Admissions Test isn’t just flawed–it’s a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence.

If we want this to be the fairest big city in America, we need to scrap the SHSAT and start over.

Let’s select students for our top public high schools in a manner that best reflects the talent these students have, and the reality of who lives in New York City. Let’s have top-flight public high schools that are fair and represent the highest academic standards.
De Blasio is blown away by all the smart kids he meets. He sees talent in New York's schools in something which may resemble the way Trump sees talent in Kim.

Alas! According to de Blasio, many of Gotham's brainiac kids are being "locked out" of the specialized high schools, all because of the SHSAT. (Actual acronym.) In his next paragraph, he cites the small number of black and Hispanic kids getting admitted to those "prestigious schools," and he calls the existing state of affairs a "monumental injustice."

Perhaps the mayor believe what he says! A bit later on, he instructs the gods to make the winds howl off that lake:
DE BLASIO: My administration has been working to give a wider range of excellent students a fair shot at the specialized high schools. Now we are going to go further. Starting in September 2019, we’ll expand the Discovery Program to offer 20 percent of specialized high school seats to economically disadvantaged students who just missed the test cut-off.

This will immediately bring a wider variety of high-performing students, from a wider number of middle schools, to the specialized high schools.
For example, the percentage of black and Latino students receiving offers will almost double, to around 16 percent from around 9 percent. The number of middle schools represented will go from around 310 to around 400.

This will also address a fundamental illogic baked into the high-stakes test. A great score and you might be in, but beware a point too low and you might be out. Now, a disadvantaged student who is just a point or two shy of the cut-off won’t be blocked from a great educational opportunity.
Amazing! Those schools are full of Asian-Americans kids because so many excellent, high-performing black and Hispanic students missed the cut-off by just one or two points!

We liberals have thrilled to stories like this since at least the 1960s. And how do we know that this is twaddle? For starters, just consider what the mayor just said:

Under his magical instant reform, "the percentage of black and Latino students receiving offers will almost double, to around 16 percent from around 9 percent."

Imagine! The number of admission offers will go all the way up to 16 percent, in a city where black and Hispanic kids make up roughly two-thirds of the student population! That's what happens if you adjust for income, and lower the acceptable score, in ways which aren't here defined.

For ourselves, we aren't necessarily opposed to adjusting for income, though tribal wars start as you do.

Beyond that, it may be a perfectly decent idea to lower the admission score. If you want to read his whole essay, de Blasio goes on to recommend other changes in admission procedures which would bring black and Hispanic enrollment in those schools all the way up to 45 percent.

De Blasio goes on ot swear that none of this would lower standards at these high-powered schools. "Anyone who tells you this is somehow going to lower the standard at these schools is buying into a false and damaging narrative," he dictatorially states.

It may be true that de Blasio's reforms would open these high-powered schools to lots of kids who would benefit from admission. It may be true that the specialized schools would be just as good academically as before—and that they'd be much better socially due to their greater inclusion.

What de Blasio doesn't do is answer that obvious question:

If there are so many excellent, capable students out there, why doesn't the city simply establish additional high-powered schools? More on that question tomorrow.

It might be a very good idea to admit more kids to these high-powered schools. There may even be ways to accomplish this task without igniting the inevitable race/ethnicity wars we liberals seem to enjoy. More on those wars tomorrow.

That said, we merely want to comment today on a familiar breeze off a certain lake. Specifically, we were struck by the way this appalling mayor blew right past his school system's achievement gaps as he ran a decades-old street-level con in his essay:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Those are gigantic achievement gaps, right there in that mayor's schools. They suggest the possibility that quite a few kids in this man's Wobegon may not be "above average" after all, or anywhere close to same.

Where do those achievement gaps come from? How should those gaps be addressed? When people like de Blasio hand us pleasing pabulum from Lake Wobegon, they are telling us pseudo-liberals that we should stop worrying about the hundreds of thousands of low-income kids on the very short end of those gigantic achievement gaps, the gaps we love to avoid.

They're telling us it's all a mistake, that those punishing gaps don't exist. In the process, those kids are thrown under a big yellow bus and the mayor, pleasing our uncaring tribe, drives the bus over their bodies.

We liberals have run this familiar old con since the dawn of time. We keep finding ways to avoid the gaps. This allows our disinterest in low-income kids to live on.

It's just one or two points on some test, we declare. This allows Times readers to return to their weeping about the late Kate Spade and her wonderful bags.

More on that topic tomorrow. We'll incldue this trip, by private yacht, to the Washington Post.

Tomorrow: Concerning those "advanced classes"

BREAKING: Life for some kids at one middle school!

TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2018

Good old P.S. MS-13:
On this morning's front page, the Washington Post offers a brilliant, 3000-word report on life in one middle school in the DC area.

Apparently, MS-13 is infesting the school. Congratulations to Michael Miller for a superb report.

Some kids are deeply afraid of going to school. To teach yourself to pity such children, you can just click here.

BREAKING: The Washington Post brings the experts out!

TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2018

The body language experts, that is:
What do we mean when we say it's all anthropology now?

We mean it's clear that our floundering species just isn't built for this game. We aren't bright enough, or sufficiently disciplined, to deal with a world drenched in corporate entertainment posing as news.

How foolish does the foolishness get? Consider what the Washington Post has now done in the wake of Donald J. Trump's "historic" summit.

On the Post web site, even as we type, the Post is highlighting an "Analysis" piece. The piece is prominently positioned, and it a very large headline. Sadly, though, its pair of headlines say this:
What body language experts saw when Trump and Kim Jong Un met
The two leaders began their summit in Singapore with a historic handshake.
The silly, sad "analysis" piece was written by Monica Ulmanu and Kevin Uhrmacher. Sadly, they start like this:
ULMANU AND UHRMACHER (6/12/1): In front of a backdrop of alternating American and North Korean flags, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un approached from opposite sides of a stage and shook hands in the middle.

While the leaders spoke little in their appearances Tuesday, experts in body language pointed out notable nonverbal cues that could provide insight into their demeanors during the meeting.
We're so old that we can remember when Chris Matthews, then Bill O'Reilly,would burn up time on cable news by clowning with their body language experts.

The silly approach was so inane that even Chris and Bill abandoned it. Today, there it is, getting big play from the Washington Post in the face of the latest burst of reality TV from our bizarre head of state.

According to the Post, "experts in body language pointed out notable nonverbal cues that could provide insight into t[Trump and Kim's] demeanors during the meeting."

Notable cues that could provide such such insight—or then again, that maybe could not!

What we saw last night from Singapore was reality TV. Then again, vast amounts of our journalism in the past thirty years have been reality TV as well. As a species, we rather plainly don't have the tools to see through such presentations.

(One example: "Al Gore said he invented the Internet!" That was twenty months of reality TV performed by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the major cable and broadcast networks. It was designed as punishment in the wake of the Clinton impeachment. Our liberal tribe wasn't sharp enough to see it for what it was.)

That "Analysis" piece on the Post's web site is pure entertainment-as-news. That said, entertainment product of this type is widely sold today, all across the various realms of silly sad corporate news.

On the whole, we liberals simply aren't sharp enough to see these events for what they are. More on that failure tomorrow. The Washington Post's Outlook section and the Sunday Review were deeply revealing this week. (Also, deeply depressing.)

It's all anthropology now! Simply put, we Homo sapiens simply weren't built for the game we're now asked to play.

Corporate orgs are selling entertainment packaged as news. A lot of it is aimed at us liberals. On the whole, as a tribe, we're happy to gulp it right down.

We can't see that we're getting played. We simply weren't built for that work.

Meanwhile, good God: Meanwhile, good God! There was Greta, interviewing The Donald last night, on tape for The Voice of America!

During the roughly four years of Trump's aggressive birtherism, Greta served as his leading enabler on the Fox News Channel. He came on her show again and again. Concerning his endless birtherism, she sat there and just let him talk.

Early last year, MSNBC hired Greta and put her on the air. Rachel swore that Greta is great. "My drinking buddy," she said.

Rachel's so skillful at selling the car that we didn't ask why in the world she would do something like that. Last night, there was Greta on the TV, interviewing The Donald again!

(At least it wasn't Diane Sawyer! She would have asked him if sex with Kim was the best he's ever had!)

Full disclosure! We did a few shows with Greta, years back. Nicest person on earth!

Her enabling of Trump, like Rachel's endorsement, was simply part of the corporate game. Dearest darlings, use your heads! This is the (extremely lucrative) business these highly-skilled experts have chosen!

GAPS AND THEIR AVOIDANCE: Dwyer describes a troubling state of affairs!

TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2018

Part 2—While avoiding the gaps:
In New York City, the gaps hit hard when it comes to the city's eight (or nine) "specialized high schools."

The gaps help create a remarkable story. At the start of last Saturday's column, Jim Dwyer described its basic outlines.

Warning! We don't know where Dwyer got his numbers. The real numbers seem to be worse:
DWYER (6/9/18): In New York's ragged history of race, class, privilege and equity, the city's specialized high schools have long been proxies. For some, they are the ideal of meritocratic opportunity, incubators of working-class genius and talent; others see their admissions policies as the picture of ''monumental injustice,'' as Mayor Bill de Blasio described them this month in Chalkbeat.

Now, in a system where the overwhelming majority of students have no access to advanced science or math classes, no matter how capable they are, the mayor and the new schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, are campaigning to change the admission process at the specialized schools, the most famous and prestigious in the city.

A single competitive test on one day decides admission. Black and Latino students, who make up about two-thirds of the public school population, are only 15 percent of those offered seats at the eight specialized schools.

Those admission policies, affecting just about 2 percent of the city's students, are nevertheless charged with high-voltage symbolism...
Stating the obvious, Dwyer is describing a noteworthy state of affairs.

At the eight prestigious, high-powered high schools to which he refers, he says that black and Hispanic kids received only 15 percent of admission offers, presumably in some recent year. He also notes that black and Hispanic kids constitute roughly two-thirds of the city's overall student population!

The real numbers may be even worse. In the Chalkbeat essay to which Dwyer refers, Mayor de Blasio cited figures according to which black and Hispanic kids received only 9.4 percent of the admission offers. "Around nine percent," he says.

We also don't know where those numbers came from. According to data which seem reliable, the numbers look like this for the coming ninth-grade year:
New York City, 2018
Percentage of eighth-grade students offered admission to one of eight specialized high schools:

White students: 26.2%
Black students: 4.1%
Hispanic students: 6.3%
Asian-American students: 51.7%
Multiracial students: 2.5%
Unknown race/ethnicity: 8.3%
The data become a bit complex due to the number of multiracial kids and the number of "unknowns." But any way you slice the data, black and Hispanic kids are grossly underrepresented on purely numerical grounds.

Last year's numbers are similar. To peruse those data, click here.

Readers of the New York Times my be surprised by one part of that data set. Dwyer addresses that part of the data later on in his column. (Once again, he uses one number we don't understand.):
DWYER: [In 1971]. white students made up close to 90 percent of the specialized schools; today, they are fewer than 20 percent. Most students are Asian. The number of black and Latino students has risen and fallen, but has never come close to keeping up with their presence in the city schools. At Stuyvesant, the most competitive of the schools, only 10 black students received offers this year. The specialized schools are far from bastions of privilege, dominated by immigrants or the children of immigrants.
Say what? At those eight high-powered schools, do white kids really constitute less than 20% of the student population?

Dwyer provides no link in support of this claim, and the claim seems a bit low, as compared to the apparent number of admission offers in the past two years.

That said, Times readers may be surprised to learn that Asian kids are in the majority at these prestigious, high-powered schools. We say that because the Times seems to specialize in news reports which feature white parents complaining about "desegregation" plans at highly selective schools.

They seem to be complaining for reasons which—well, we Times readers probably know how those white parents are!

Despite the familiar presence of those white parents, the largest group at these high-powered schools are Asian-American kids. They get there by achieving high scores on a one-day test—New York City's own Specialized High School Admissions Test, the awkwardly-acronymed SHSAT.

Should kids be admitted to these schools on the basis of a single test, full stop? That doesn't sound like an ideal admission system. In fairness, there are no ideal admission systems at any educational level.

Mayor de Blasio has proposed changing the current admission system; we'll review his proposals tomorrow. For today, we'll ask you to consider two noteworthy facts—the fact that black and Hispanic kids are grossly underrepresented at these schools, and the fact that Asian-American kids are heavily over-represented on a purely numerical basis.

Those Asian kids get into those schools by scoring well on a challenging test. That said, no one should be hugely surprised by their representation if we simply consider those punishing achievement gaps—the part of this story people like Dwyer are de Blasio may perhaps tend to disappear.

Why did so many Asian kids get admission offers in recent years? Again, we'll offer you a straightforward look at some very large, deeply punishing gaps, courtesy of data from our most reliable source:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
By a standard, very rough rule of thumb, the average Asian eighth-grader outscored his white counterpart by roughly 1.5 academic years in 2017. According to that very rough rule of thumb, she outscored her average black counterpart by—well, by maybe five years!

No one familiar with those data—with those mind-boggling achievement gaps—would be surprised by the demographic breakdown at those specialized high schools. We also call your attention to an important part of what Dwyer wrote, jumbled though his poorly-edited sentence is:

"The specialized schools are far from bastions of privilege, dominated by immigrants or the children of immigrants."

By that, Dwyer seems to mean that those Asian-American kids, as a group, aren't your classic "children of privilege." They're actually immigrant kids, or the children of immigrants, who are doing quite well in school.

No one familiar with those data from the Naep would be surprised by the demographic breakdown at those prestigious high schools. With that in mind, we mention something we noticed when we read Dwyer's column—and when we read the de Blasio essay to which Dwyer refers.

Especially in the mayor's piece, we noticed this:

It isn't just that Dwyer and de Blasio fail to mention Gotham's enormous achievement gaps. We'd have to say they make it sound like the gaps pretty much don't exist.

They seem to describe a public school nirvana, a super-Wobegon, where all the different student groups are way above average. In such ways, we liberals have thrown low-income kids under the bus for a great many years.

We lose elections in the process. Most of all, we turn our backs on black and Hispanic kids.

Tomorrow: Bill de Blasio's dream

Let's take a look at the record: For all Naep data, just click here.

That takes you to the Naep Data Explorer. From there, you're on your own.

Of one thing you can be fairly certain. You'll encounter no journalists there!

BREAKING: Show biz celebrity does it again!

MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2018

Is Robert De Niro a c***?
This sort of thing has been going on for years. But in the latest sweepstakes, the chronology had gone like this:

Samantha Bee dropped a C-bomb on Ivanka Trump, who Michelle Wolf had already compared to a fully loaded diaper.

Then, last night, it happened again! Turning his powerful intellect loose, Robert De Niro offered this speech, presumably working from prompter:
DE NIRO (6/10/18): I’m gonna say one thing: F*ck Trump!


It’s no longer "Down with Trump." It’s "F*ck Trump.”
We'd say that's solid, thought-provoking. And we've heard that he writes his own stuff!

All the jugglers and the clowns cheered the latest political analyst. Inside our plushly appointed Larry David/Whoopi Goldberg Celebrity Vote Loss Viewing Chamber, one of the analysts mordantly asked, "Is Robert De Niro a c***?"

(To see the jugglers and the clowns in 1998, you can just click here. Sadly, this is the team we have chosen. Or is it the team which chose us?)

For what it's worth, this is the sort of thing we mean when we say it's all anthropology now. Our struggling species, Homo sapiens, simply wasn't built for this. We need an external enemy fast. Beyond that, we badly need to get rid of talk radio, corporate "cable news" and, of course, The Net.

We simply weren't built for this new type of game. We don't know how to play it. Coming tomorrow:

Folk who say Rachel's their friend.

As predicted: Two weeks later, have you seen any media reporter ask why TBS allowed Samantha Bee to deliver her scripted C-bomb?

Of course you haven't! Also, you never will. Nor have you seen anyone ask if Bee's fiery remark was just a publicity play.

She didn't know the C-bomb was loaded? Citizens, tell the freaking truth—does anyone freaking believe that?

BREAKING: Speaking of shaming, what about Dowd?

MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2018

TonedeafGate's natural end:
Let's face it. TonedeafGate wasn't going to end until Maureen Dowd had a chance to weigh in.

Yesterday, Dowd took her turn. To her credit, she didn't say that Bill Clinton was "tone deaf" during last week's MelvinGate. She started by saying this:
DOWD (6/10/18): Book tours can be brutal.

It took 20 years for Bill Clinton to be properly publicly shamed for the ugly bargain at the heart of the Clinton operation.
Goody Dowd, please! If it's "public shaming" we seek, a large amount of public shaming was performed twenty years ago.

For starters, Judge Starr wrote everything down so everybody could read it. Along with that, the various networks were careful to let us see the "good parts" of Clinton's four-hour dunking before Judge Starr's grand jury.

If it's public shaming you want, a lot occurred back then.

We're not huge fans of public shaming ourselves. But if you are, you might ask yourself this:

When the heck does the public shaming of Maureen Dowd begin?

Long ago and far away, Katherine Boo warned us about the dangers of "Creeping Dowdism." Even now, 26 years later, you can't read Boo's 3700-word essay on line. Because of Dowd's standing within the industry, the Washington Monthly is still too afraid to put her piece on line.

That said, the Dowdism Boo tried to warn us about has engineered widespread cultural rot. Even now, a full twenty years later, people like Dowd want to talk about Clinton's affair.

In the end, they want to discuss nothing else. Dowd has been a high-profile New York Times columnist since 1995. Can you name a single substantive topic on which she has shed any light over those many long years?

Instead, Dowd wants to talk about who's zioomin' who. In truth, she wants to talk about nothing else, aside from 1) male politicians' hair and 2) male Democrats' crummy, embarrassing wives.

Beyond that, she wants to kiss the asp of power, which explains how she managed to position Uma Thurman as the "goddess" heroine of Harvey Weinstein's depredations—concerning which Thurman, a powerful Hollywood player, ran off and hid in the grass.

Maureen Dowd is like that. People are dead all over the world because the Dowdism crept, then spread. On the Sunday before George W. Bush got elected, she was writing her three millionth column mocking Candidate Gore and his deeply ludicrous bald spot.

Was Bill Clinton wrong to engage in his affair with Monica Lewinsky? On balance, yes he was—if only because people like Dowd were hiding in the bushes. People like Dowd and the all-too-human goodies and Dimmesdales she empowers.

They were hiding in the bushes, waiting to do what they could.

Near the end of yesterday's column, Dowd offers the passage shown below, proving that, as her Dowdism crept, her sense of shame scurried off into the grass:
DOWD: Monica Lewinsky has finally emerged from a long period of being frozen in amber, after the capricious behavior of Bill Clinton and the smearing of Clintonworld. And that’s a relief.
The smearing by Clintonworld? In this 2014 essay for Vanity Fair, Lewinsky recalled the devastation wreaked on her by none other than Maureen Dowd! In retaliation, Dowd unloaded nastily on Lewinsky all over again.

You can pick through that garbage can here. That was the continued "smearing by Maureenworld," a smearing which was still underway as of May 2014.

In response to Dowd's new column, several veteran commenters told it like it was. An early commenter from New York recalled a few of Dowd's many comments about Lewinsky—the comments which help explain why Bill Clinton should never have engaged with Lewinsky, whatever the nature of their personal relationship may, or may not, have been:
COMMENTER FROM NEW YORK (6/10/18): Give me a break. Dowd has piled on Monica Lewinsky more viciously and gleefully and fecklessly than practically all the other "slut-shamers" combined.


Here are a few of her memorable quotes about Monica:

"For sheer cringe-worthiness, a Monica lipstick ad, focusing on those shiny pillow lips, would probably top a Bob Dole erectile dysfunction ad.”

"It is Ms. Lewinsky who comes across as the red-blooded predator, wailing to her girl friends that the President wouldn't go all the way.”

Monica is still waiting for her personal apology, Ms. Dowd, and so, probably, are millions of other readers.
In closing, we'll make a pair of suggestions. First, we'll recommend Lewinsky's 2014 essay for Vanity Fair, the one which brought the poison pen reaction from Dowd.

Lewinsky's essay was insightful all the way through. In one especially horrific example, she quoted from an all-feminist colloquy in The Observer back when the excitement was new, in 1998. Here's what Lewinsky wrote:
LEWINSKY (6/14): Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any “abuse” came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.


A handful of representatives of the modern feminist movement did chime in, obliquely. Yet, instead of any meaningful engagement, we got this: January 30, 1998. Day Nine of the scandal. Cocktails at Le Bernardin, in Manhattan. In attendance: writers Erica Jong, Nancy Friday, Katie Roiphe, and Elizabeth Benedict; Saturday Night Live writer Patricia Marx; Marisa Bowe, the editor of Word, an online magazine; fashion designer Nicole Miller; former dominatrix Susan Shellogg; and their host, Le Bernardin co-owner Maguy Le Coze. The New York Observer brought this coven together to trade Interngate insights, to be recorded by Francine Prose...
At that point, Lewinsky quoted some of what was said by those high-minded feminists. We strongly recommend that you read Lewinsky's selection of comments—and then, that you go back and read the whole Observer piece.

Make yourself fight through it! For ourselves, we can't believe that Francine Prose took part in that appalling event. But in that Observer piece from 1998, you see where things had already gone as the Dowdism rapidly crept.

You see the appalling, ludicrous world that Maureen Dowd helped build. You see why it's important that we try to avoid letting people like Dowd define the public agenda.

Can we talk? Once you give people like Dowd permission to talk about famous people's sexual acts, that's all they'll ever want to discuss. As a nation, we end up with a creep and hustler like Stephanie Clifford parading around as she sells and re-sells "her story," even being accepted as a feminist/liberal star in the process.

Once you let Dowd's agenda creep, it's soon the only agenda we have! She pimped for Trump[ all through the last election she hated the Clintons so bad.

Go ahead—read that 1998 colloquy in the Observer. This is who and what our human race is once you let an attractive weirdo like Dowd set a nation's agenda.

Final important point: You'll never see your favorite corporate stars criticize Maureen Dowd. Dowd is too powerful in the business, and the children are all too scared.

There will be no "public shaming" of Dowd. Dearest darlings, use your heads! Our top liberal stars won't permit it!

GAPS AND THE AVOIDANCE OF GAPS: Mayor de Blasio has a plan!

MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2018

Part 1—It involves disappearing the gaps:
The New York Times is deeply invested in "desegregation."

The paper seems less interested in Gotham's giant achievement gaps, and in the hundreds of thousands of good, decent kids those gaps define and affect.

(With a few screwballs thrown in.)

When we've spoken about "desegregation" in recent weeks, we've been speaking about "desegregation" of the New York City Public Schools, the nation's largest school system. We've especially spoken about the proposed "desegregation" of the "highly selective middle schools" of the school system's District 3, which covers part of Manhattan.

This week, we'll add a related matter. We'll be discussing Mayor de Blasio's new proposed plan for the city's eight (or nine) "specialized high schools," the elite, sometimes famous schools to which admission is gained, at the end of eighth grade, by taking a one-day test.

Let's start by recalling this:

As we've noted on several occasions, there's only so much "desegregation" you can perform in a giant, sprawling school system whose student population is only 15 percent white.

On the other hand, the system's giant achievement gaps affect the bulk of the city's million students. Those gaps affect the nation itself. They affect all those students' lives.

At any given time, only two percent of New York City's students are enrolled at one of those "specialized" high schools. By way of contrast, well over half a million kids, in all grades, stand on the brutally short end of the city's giant achievement gaps.

The Times, so in love with the two percent, doesn't seem real invested in them.

Due to a mission of national import, we'll only be posting four days this week. During those four days, we'll be looking at several intriguing proposals concerning our biggest school district.

We'll continue looking at District 3's proposed plan to "desegregate" its "highly selective middle schools." We'll also look at some of the stranger aspects of such proposals citywide—proposals Winnie Hu described, without analysis or comment, in this wonderfully strange news report last week.

Beyond that, we'll be looking at Mayor de Blasio's plan for the specialized high schools. You've actually heard of some of these schools. Some of these schools are famous:
New York City's "specialized high schools:"
The Bronx High School of Science
The Brooklyn Latin School
Brooklyn Technical High School
High School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York
High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
Staten Island Technical High School
Stuyvesant High School
LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts
To gain admission to one of those schools, a student has to take a a single, one-day, high-stakes exam—Gotham's own Specialized High School Admissions Test. (To attend LaGuardia, the student must also perform an audition.)

Some of those schools are famous; they teach advanced courses of study. For generations, New York's leaders have emerged from those elite schools—but dating at least to the 1960s, those schools have exhibited a type of problem.

Jim Dwyer described this problem in his column in Saturday's Times, perhaps disappearing the gaps a tad along the way. As he started, he linked to a recent essay by the mayor at the education web site, Chalkbeat.

Over at Chalkbeat, de Blasio's essay appears beneath this headline:
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Our specialized schools have a diversity problem. Let’s fix it.
At least he didn't say "desegregation," the way the Times always does.

The mayor wants to fix the diversity problem at those high-powered high schools. That sounds like a good idea to us—but along the way, he almost seemed to disappear, perhaps even misstate, the problem of the gaps.

If you keep choosing to disappear a problem, when will you ever try to address it? We tend to regard such essays with contempt. Tomorrow, we'll start to say why.

Tomorrow: Is the mayor perhaps engaged in a small tiny bit of deception?

BREAKING: More things a person can see on Fox!


Carlson scores mammoth huge win:
As the fury of TonedeafGate subsides, we think Glenn Kessler's participation deserves being noted.

Long ago and far away, we declared that Kessler might possibly be "The Man." On this basis of this appraisal, he was named the Washington Post's FactChecker—but it seems to us that he may have succumbed to the mainstream press corps illness, Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

When TonedeafGate took shape this week, Kessler swung into action. His appraisal appears beneath this screeching headline:
Fact-Checking Bill Clinton’s meltdown on NBC’s ‘Today Show’
Did Clinton stage a "meltdown" on Today? Especially in a "fact check" report—especially given the sliced-and-diced nature of Today's editing of its interview—that strikes us as a giant overstatement.

The fact check itself was worse. Kessler went to remarkable lengths to fact-check, or pretend to fact-check, a tremendously tangential claim.

At enormous length, he fact-checked, or pretended to fact-check, the tangential matter now known as "the $16 million question." We'd have to say that he may have succumbed to the disease called CDS.

Has Kessler also succumbed to Trump Derangement Syndrome? Yes, there actually is such a disease. You can see corporate stars in its grip on "cable news" every night.

We'd say that Kessler was exhibiting symptoms in his recent treatment of the Spygate matter. This is the way his report began:
KESSLER (5/25/18): President Trump, in a continuing effort to discredit the criminal investigation into his campaign’s possible links with Russia entities, has now seized on “spygate.” This refers to the news that the FBI obtained information from an informant—Stefan Halper, an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge—who met with at least three members of Trump’s campaign staff suspected of having links to Russia.

As an informant, Halper openly asked questions; a spy uses tradecraft to obtain information. So far, there has been nothing to indicate that there was a “spy” mandate as part of Halper’s assistance for the FBI, which apparently started after the agency opened a counterintelligence probe. But that has not stopped Trump from trying to fan the flames with often inaccurate information.
Truly, that's just awful. A tiny hint of derangement may be in the air

For starters, we'll note the way Kessler massaged the facts in this "FactChecker" post. According to Kessler, Halper "met with at least three members of Trump’s campaign staff" and "openly asked [them] questions."

The use of the word "openly" there strikes us as baldly deceptive. Beyond that, Kessler's attempt to describe the semantics of "informant v. spy" is straight outta third grade.

Kessler's own Washington Post keeps reporting a full set of facts about what Halper did. Even in a "fact check" report, Kessler seemed to massage them, with semantic silliness serving as the frosting on the cake.

Alas! Lunatic as Donald Trump is, his opponents can be deranged too. You see this pattern on "cable news" all night every night, where the various corporate stars operate under the self-defeating rubric, No Bait Left Behind.

Whatever bait has been offered that day, the corporate stars rush to consume it. This leads us to Tucker Carlson's program this past Thursday night, as does Kessler's treatment of Spygate.

Alas! During the midnight hour on Thursday night, we felt we couldn't watch another minute of Rachel's latest harangue, and so we flipped over to Fox. Upon arrival, we watched Carlson stage three successive segments in which he mocked the recent behavior of the No Bait Left Behind gang.

Politically, we thought he went 3-for-3, scoring political wins every time.

In the second of these three segments, Carlson massacred the animatronic Richard Painter concerning the facts versus the semantics of SpyvInformantate. Painter was utterly, totally hapless. But in his third segment, Carlson's political triumph was even greater.

Good God! Rudy Giuliani had made rude remarks about Stephanie Clifford that day. Given the mandates of No Bait Left Behind, this led our "liberal" corporate stars to author all sorts of heartfelt remarks about Clifford's moral greatness.

Carlson opened with tape of Giuliani, then played tape of four of these thousand remarks. He then ridiculed the authors of those comments.

Warning to all Democratic voters—the worst was yet to come:
CARLSON (6/7/18): That was Rudy Giuliani, saying what's been obvious to pretty much every living person for a couple of thousand years, that someone is more deserving of respect if they don't have sex with strangers on camera for money.

But this is 2018. We don't live in a normal America, but in a liberal carnival version of it instead. A version in which pornography isn't degrading, it's dignifying and empowering to women, just like Haiti is a beautiful country with functioning sanitation and MS-13 gang members are great people.

Well, today, the press scrambled to praise Stormy Daniels' illustrious career.


STEPHANIE RUHLE: You just heard Rudy Giuliani's reaction, which in essence is "Porn stars aren't people too."

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: We've always had women who worked and worked on the street. A lot of them have put their kids to college.

SAM STEIN: She is one of the most successful porn stars in recent history. A lot of people have "just looked at her." Honestly. You can question her career choices, but I think she's made a successful career for herself.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI [stricken, as alwayss]: She's a mother and she's a woman with a voice. And she's going to use it.


CARLSON: These people are beyond—they're literally beyond parody.
Our view? On the politics of this matter, Carlson was already ahead on points. But then he introduced Mark Steyn and the rout was on.

Below, you see the start of their colloquy. Forgive us, but we'd have to say that Steyn produced one the greatest comedic frameworks we've ever seen on TV:
CARLSON (continuing directly): Author and columnist Mark Steyn joins us.

Mark, I should just say that I actually, by temperament, am pretty non-judgmental. I'm not mad at Stormy Daniels or anything. But I notice—I can't help but notice—the impulse on the left is always to elevate and celebrate anything that is repulsive, degrading, bad for you. Anything that is low and ugly, they deify. What is that about?

STEYN: Yes. I think there's an element of—I would say—I thought originally it was confusion, but I think it's actually intentional because— On the one hand, you have Miss America saying we're not going to have a swimsuit round anymore, because that's demeaning to women.


STEYN: So you can't have a swimsuit round. But if you take off your swimsuit and you have sex with 37 different guys on screen in one motion picture, then people will hail you.

CARLSON: I want to make sure I get the correct quote here. "One of the most successful porn stars ever." That's a really great thing to be!
Good God! Steyn had authored one of the most successful comedic frameworks we've ever seen. Given the rules of our "no bait" approach, we hate the swimsuit competition, but we take numbers and stand in line to praise Clifford's greatness.

We apologize for saying this, but that's a one-punch knockout. Trust us! You simply can't hope to defeat a political joke that good.

The political pummeling only got worse Carlson and Steyn continued. Just to be clear, we're speaking here about the politics, not about the ultimate wisdom, which of course, by definition, always resides with Us.

If we're speaking about the politics, we'd better hope that very few Undecideds were watching Carlson that night. In our view, he defeated our No Bait crowd in three consecutive segments—and he left us unconscious, on the carpet, as he spoke with Steyn.

Final point—we don't have an ultimate problem with Clifford's career choice either, especially since it's legal. We did have a problem with the way the cable nets, and the liberals journals, kept flashing her photos around during StormyGate in ways which were blatantly exploitive.

Eye candy over here! Come take a look at Stormy's parts! That's what the barkers at our "liberal" news orgs kept saying again and again.

We also had, and have, a major problem with what Clifford did in 2016. Not unlike Vladimir Putin, not unlike Gennifer Flowers, she tried to interfere in a presidential campaign, in her case by trying to sell her thrilling story about alleged sex, on one occasion, with Donald J. Trump.

She tried to interfere in pursuit of sacks of cash. At some point, we the people will have to decide that we have to stop rewarding that.

At any rate, Mark Steyn scored a one-punch knockout with that comedic framing. We liberals hate the swimsuit stuff, but we rush to praise the porn star!

Given time, your lizard brain will find a way to say that this all makes perfect sense. But out in the world of American voters, our lizard brains had choked on bait.

Our lizards were left for dead.

Final point: Your lizard will tell you not to believe this. Your lizard keeps trying to lose!

Meanwhile, new rankings of greatest uses of humor ever:
Greatest uses of humor ever:
1) The final use of "round up the usual suspects" in Casablanca

2) Mark Steyn's one-punch knockout on Fox this past Thursday night
In truth, we made it easier for Steyn through our tribal adoption of No Bait Left Behind.

BREAKING: The things a person can see on Fox!

FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2018

Gennifer Flowers returns:
On Tuesday night, Gennifer Flowers resurfaced on Fox in response to TonedeafGate.

"I think Bill is afraid," the fearless truth-teller fearlessly told Laura Ingraham. "I am advocating that Bill be prosecuted for his sex crimes just like Harvey Weinstein has been arrested and Bill Cosby is about to be sentenced."

Back in August 1999, the fearless truth-teller fearlessly told Chris Matthews about the many murders the Clintons had staged. Chris was surprised, or at least he pretended. But in the course of his half-hour interview, he didn't miss the chance to tell her how smokin' hot she was.

On Tuesday night, Flowers broke some news. She now regards her alleged relationship with Bill Clinton as a case of sexual harassment. "Back in 1977 when I met Bill, we didn't have the laws to protect us," she bravely said.

This represents a large switch. Back in 1992, when she got rich interrupting a presidential election, Flowers told the world that she and her Bill had enjoyed a torrid, twelve-year love affair. She told the same story in her 1995 book, Passion and Bertayal, in which she thoughtfully recalled the first time she laid eyes on Hillary Clinton:
FLOWERS: I was shocked. She looked like a big fat frump with her hair hanging down kind of curly and wavy. She had big, thick glasses; an ugly dress; and a big, fat butt.
Also, Hillary was just screamingly gay, as Flowers fearlessly confessed on Hannity & Colmes. This is who Flowers is.

At any rate, on Tuesday night, she unveiled her newest story. Forget that torrid twelve-year love affair with "my Bill." As it turns out, Flowers was the victim of sexual harassment. And she wants to lock him up!

Many people actually are the victims of sexual harassment. On the other hand, sometimes we the people are the victims of disordered people who make sh*t up.

The presence of Flowers on the scene helps define an interesting problem. Most people can't imagine going on national TV and simply making sh*t up. This make it hard for us to believe that other people do that.

By instinct, we tend to assume that people aren't lying when they tell the sorts of tales that Flowers told in 1992, making tons of cash (at least $500,000) in the process.

On Tuesday night, Flowers was back with her latest story. Instinctively, most of us are inclined to believe other people when they share "their truth."

On Tuesday night, we watched Flowers sharing her latest truth. Ingraham didn't challenge her none. That's how the game is played.

It's hard for most of us people to believe that other people sometimes invent giant falsehoods. Given the way our modern media work, this is a big giant problem.

The New York Times fluffed Flowers good in October 2016. They even resurrected Connie Hamzy!

Are you sure that front-page report didn't tilt the election all by itself? What makes us so sure about that?

At any rate, it wasn't a torrid, 12-year love affair after all. At some point, we the people will have to decide that we really can't tolerate this.

No more hiding in the bushes. No more "$haring their truth."

Still coming: The things a person can see on Tucker Carlson's program

GAPS AND LAVIZZO: The Times returns to District 3!

FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2018

Part 5—Please disregard the gaps:
For the past two weeks, we've been discussing a New York Times news report about the Chicago Public Schools.

We thought the report was deeply flawed. That said, neither reporter was an education specialist; the New York Times doesn't develop or hire such people. Beyond that, the flawed report was flawed in traditional happy-talk ways. It featured the approach our big newspapers have long brought to the lives of the nation's black kids.

Our first reaction to the report went something like this:

First, we pondered its basic claim, which said the average eighth-grader in Chicago has gained six years of academic learning over the previous five years.

Then, we looked at Naep results, according to which the average black eighth grader in Chicago was at least three years behind the nation's white kids in math at the end of last year. After gaining six academic years, they were still three years behind.

After gaining six years of math, they were still three years behind? All told, these claims would imply that the average black kid in Chicago was something like four years behind in math at the end of third grade! These are the ways arcane formulations crawl into the bushes to die.

The Times report suffered from a very basic flaw. It didn't present our most straightforward data about Chicago's kids, the data from the biannual Naep testing.

Alas! Within the upper-end press, a basic tenet of Hard Pundit Law obtains. Everybody praises the Nsep, but no one reports its data!

Those basic data can be embarrassing and depressing, and so newspapers like the Times and the Washington Post tend to "walk on by." For the last and final time, we're going to post the data which didn't appear in the New York Times during its happy talk about Chicago:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
Naep, 2017

Black students in Chicago: 259.45
White students in Chicago: 305.81
White students nationwide: 292.16
Asian-American students nationwide: 309.52
Oof! Data like those don't make upscale readers feel good, and so they rarely appear. Instead, we see photographs of adorable little girls smiling big smiles in the face of the problem the New York Times tends to evade.

Those Times reporters weren't specialists. We'll guess it never occurred to them to look at the most recent Naep scores to get a basic idea of where matters currently stand in Chicago's improving schools.

That said, it's long been true. The lives of black kids get major short shrift in the upper-end mainstream press and in the liberal world. Education reporting is often a joke, as is liberal activism. Consider the news report which appeared in yesterday's New York Times.

Once again, for perhaps the ten millionth time, the Times was reporting on a "desegregation" plan for the middle schools of New York City's District 3, a section of the public school system located in parts of Manhattan.

Is this proposed plan a good idea? That's a matter of judgment. For the record, there's only so much "desegregation" you can achieve in a system whose student population is only 15% white.

But "desegregation" and "diversity" are major gods at the New York Times. They're also gods for liberal happy-talk do-gooders, for people who rarely seem to grasp the size of the problem we all quite happily live with.

The New York Times' Winnie Hu isn't an education specialist. Obviously, that isn't her fault, and she was reporting on a plan which, whatever its merits may be, is drowning in gimmickry and euphemism.

None of that is Hu's fault. That said, her report appeared benath a somehwat comical headline, and she put her thumb on the scale right in her opening sentence.

Hu's report began this way, puzzling headline included:
HU (6/7/18): Low Scores Would Earn Admission to Select Middle Schools in Desegregation Plan

Students with low test scores are usually shut out of New York City’s best public schools.

But next year, such students could be offered a quarter of the sixth-grade seats at even the most selective middle schools in Manhattan’s District 3 as part of a desegregation plan being debated in the district, which stretches from the Upper West Side to Harlem.
Say what? According to that headline, low test scores would "earn admission" to Gotham's select middle schools? Granting admission on the basis of low test scores is part of "desegregation?"

That headline walked a hall of mirrors—and Hu instantly put her thumb on the scales. District 3's "most selective middle schools" are among the city's "best" schools, she instantly said, making a familiar conflation which can impose a world of hurt.

Just for once, let's be clear. Those admission-based schools are among the city's highest-scoring schools, but that's because their high-scoring students were high-scoring coming in.

Teachers at those selective schools don't possess some sort of magic which can make all other kids high-scoring too. There's no guarantee that they'll know how to help the city's lowest-achieving kids. Indeed, there's no guarantee that they won't resent the presence of the new low-scoring kids, won't view them with annoyance and contempt.

Within Hu's report, you'll quickly encounter the type of liberal do-gooders who perhaps rarely know what they're talking about. They assume that going to the "best" schools will help the city's lowest-achieving kids.

We know of no reason to make that assumption. And of course, the gaps are extremely wide:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Those data didn't appear in Hu's report. Because those data didn't appear, there was no need to explain, with rough rules of thumb, how wide those gaps really are.

If New York's lowest-achieving kids are admitted to its "most selective schools," will the teachers at those schools respect those low-achievers? If they do respect those struggling kids, will they magically know what to do to help them across those enormous gaps?

The Times doesn't ask its upscale readers to wonder about such things. Instead, the Times sends its mandated signals about racist white parents and acts like all will be well.

It's hard to have sufficient contempt for the way this journalistic/activist system works. We think of the contempt expressed by Willa Cather's protagonist in My Antonia, Book II, Chapter IX—his contempt for the weak-spirited Anglo boys who refuse to act on their attraction to the vibrant beauty of the immigrant girls.

We also think of Wilfred Owen, trudging behind the dying and the dead during the Great War:
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
In truth, a lot of "old lies" exist in the world, told by those ardent for desperate glory, perhaps of the pseudolib kind.

It's hard to have sufficient contempt for those self-assured do-gooders who are able to love their gods so much because the Hamptons-based newspaper they consume refuses to show them the truth.

The Times doesn't bother with public school specialists, or with gruesome test score data. Dearest darlings! Use your heads!

Use your heads! Who cares?