THE UPPER-CLASS COGNITION FILES: A tale of two faltering states of cognition!

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2019

Joe Biden meets 1619:
What was Joe Biden talking about when he gave that rambling, discursive answer?

You may know the answer we mean. We refer to the answer he gave, last Thursday night, to a rambling, discursive question from ABC's Linsey Davis.

The candidate's rambling answer has raised questions about the state of his cognition—questions we regard as fair. The journalist's rambling question has occasioned no such concerns.

Inside the press corps, that's the way the score has been kept for decades. At any rate, we reprint Biden's answer below, as we did in Monday's report.

What the heck was Biden talking about? Few members of our elite pundit class have seemed to know or to care:
BIDEN (9/12/19): Look, there's institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Red-lining, banks, making sure that we are in a position where—

Look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools. Triple the amount of money we spend, from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out—the $60,000 level.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home.
The problems that come from home, we need—we have one school psychologist for every 1500 kids in America today. It's crazy.

The teachers are—I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have—make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School! Not daycare. School. We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.

It's not that they don't want to help. They don't—they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the, the— Make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there. There's so much we—

DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN: No, I'm going to go like the rest of them do, twice over, OK? Because here's the deal. The deal is that we've got this a little backwards...
As some of our college graduates noticed, Biden's sentences didn't parse especially well. But what the heck was the candidate even talking about?

A few suggestions were clear. He wants to spend more money in low-income schools, possibly increasing the number of school psychologists. He wants to have all 3-year-old children attending actual schools.

It's at this point that the problems began for the elite press corps class:

Biden said something about making sure that parents have the record player on at night so children, apparently low-income children, will be able to hear more words.

Even worse, he said that we should "bring social workers in to homes" to "help [parents, apparently low-income parents] deal with how to raise their children."

As we noted at the start of the week, these hard-to-parse statements did make an obvious type of sense.

Plainly, Biden's reference to the words low-income children don't hear was a reference to the so-called "30 Million Word Gap."

The number of words involved in this alleged gap has moved about over the years, possibly down to just four million, as Biden clearly knew. But you can see the general topic discussed at Education Next in this essay from this past June.

Biden's reference to those social workers was also easy to place. He was referring to programs like the Baby Steps program founded by the Washington Post's William Raspberry in 2003, two years before his retirement and nine years before his death.

The program was based in Okolona, Mississippi, Raspberry's home town. Years later, the Post's Courtland Milloy wrote that the program "teaches mostly low-income parents of preschoolers how to prepare their children for success in school—and life."

For the record, our society identifies Milloy as black. Upon Raspberry's death in 2012, the DeSoto (Mississippi) Times-Tribune described the Baby Steps concept thusly:
SALTER (7/18/12): In 2005, after learning of the early childhood education/intervention effort he was personally funding in Okolona, I asked him to meet me there and to tell me about his vision for changing the game for disadvantaged children in a town with a poor track record in public education.

[...]

Raspberry’s solution was the program he funded and founded called Baby Steps in Okolona. The Baby Steps Program has been a partnership between columnist William Raspberry, the Okolona Area Chamber of Commerce, the University of Mississippi and the Barksdale Reading Institute. Other key community partners include a number of Okolona and Tupelo churches and local volunteers.

“The (Baby Steps’) basic idea is that all parents, no matter how unsuccessful they might have been in school, want their children to succeed academically—even if many of them don’t know how to make that happen,” Raspberry wrote in his nationally syndicated Nov. 17, 2003, column in The Washington Post.

“We propose to teach them. The text for the effort is Dorothy Rich’s “MegaSkills”—a set of 11 attitudes and competencies that she believes lead to success in school and in life . . . the idea is to train the parents themselves, as they children’s most effective teachers, to pass these MegaSkills along to their children.”
What was Raspberry talking about? To cite one example, many parents from low-literacy backgrounds may not realize the advantages a child can receive from being read to—even from being spoken to!—on a daily basis.

Middle-class kids get the advantage of being read to from their earliest years. Lower-income kids often don't get that advantage.

Programs like Baby Steps try to help low-income parents develop the understandings which may help their kids succeed in school. That's what Biden was talking about when he spoke about social workers helping parents—even when he spoke about the (unheard) millions of words.

Biden's sentences didn't parse well. Beyond that, he seemed to fumble the basic idea behind the "30 Million Word Gap," which generally refers to words which are spoken between a parent or caregiver and a child, not to words emerging from a TV set.

That said, it was obvious what Biden was talking about in his jumbled answer. Unless you work for the New York Times, where the constantly angry Charles M. Blow angrily offered this:
BLOW (9/16/19): [H]e gave a rambling, nonsensical answer that included a reference to a record player. But, the response ended in yet another racial offense in which he seemed to suggest that black people lack the natural capacity to be good parents:

We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t—they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the—the—make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.

His language reveals a particular mind-set, one of a liberal of a particular vintage. On the issue of race, it is paternalistic and it pities, it sees deficiency in much the same way that the conservative does, but it responds as savior rather than with savagery. Better the former than the latter, surely, but the sensibility underlying the two positions is shockingly similar. It underscores that liberalism does not perfectly align with racial egalitarianism, regardless of rhetoric to the contrary.
It's hard to get dumber than that. At the Times, though, such maximal dumbness is largely de rigeur, as the French would have it.

Listening to Biden that night, we heard an obvious reference to the 30 Million Word Gap and to such programs as Baby Steps. Apparently, the perpetually furious Blow didn't know what Biden was talking about, although he certainly should have.

Presumably due to his ignorance, Blow thought he'd heard something "nonsensical." Just Like Everyone Else in The Guild, he tossed off a scripted jibe about Biden's use of the term "record player." Then he got very/real mad.

Inevitably, the perpetually furious Timesman thought he'd heard a racial offense. In that pitiful passage by the perpetually furious Timesman, a candidate who may be displaying some cognitive lapses ran head-first into what we might call "1619 Cognition."

Blow, who is perpetually furious, didn't seem to know what Biden was talking about. There should be no giant surprise in that—the New York Times is at its dumbest in the manifest indifference it displays towards the interests and needs of low-income kids, like the children Raspberry tried to serve in founding Baby Steps.

Okolona's public schools are almost totally black. Raspberry, a native son, was trying to help his hometown's young black parents learn how to help their kids attain academic success.

That's what Biden was talking about when he spoke about social workers. But as if by rule of law, the perpetually furious New York Times columnist decided to take racial offense.

(Just for the record, Blow's son went to Yale.)

In this minuet, your see the problem which lurks within The 1619 Project, the self-ballyhooed major undertaking which was announced last month by our dumbest, most upper-class newspaper.

One week ago, Andrew Sullivan announced his reservations about the project, which he regards as a form of journalistic "activism." (He also offered words of praise for some of its early work.)

We think Sullivan's analysis is well worth considering.
We'd planned to offer our own thoughts about the structure of the project, and about one aspect of its inaugural essay.

Instead, let's leave things here, with this tale of two faltering states of cognition.

Biden stumbled and fumbled about, in ways we regard as a point of concern. With his brilliantly one-track mind, Blow took racial offense.

This afternoon, we'll show you a letter in today's Times in which a highly suggestible Santa Cruz reader thanks Blow for helping her spot Biden's troubling "racism." Anthropologists came to us with a troubling message:

You simply can't be this dumb and this scripted without ending up with a Trump! Such reactions are "cognitively suspect," these top major experts said.

Could Candidate Warren beat Donald J. Trump?

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2019

Kilgore, Chait puzzle it out:
Could Elizabeth Warren beat Donald J. Trump next November?

Sadly, we have no idea. But in this post for New York magazine, Ed Kilgore makes an excellent, semi-ironic point as he tries to puzzle it out.

Given the fact that Warren such a thoroughly regular everyday person from Oklahoma, she should be able to show voters that she understands their fear of a major change in the American health care system. Or so Kilgore says:

"A populist like her should show some empathy for those who fear big government and politicians as much as they fear insurance and drug companies."

We think Kilgore makes an excellent point, even if it sounds semi-ironic, though possibly only to us. We had a somewhat different reaction to a somewhat similar rumination by Jonathan Chait.

Chait does a good job discussing possible vulnerabilities in Warren's issue palette. But we think he misfires, instructively so, concerning the elephant in the room—the presumably inevitable return of Trump's "Pocahontas" jibes.

If Warren is the nominee, will Trump return to Pocahontas? If he does, will the approach take a toll?

We have no way of knowing. That said, we think Chait misconstrues the situation in two ways which have become standard within our liberal tribe. Here are the relevant passages:
CHAIT (9/18/19): Despite an exhaustive Boston Globe report that her self-identification as Native American had never benefited her career, early media coverage fixated on the issue, and she drew scorn from left and right alike. To Democratic voters, she looked like another victim of Donald Trump’s bullying.

[...]

Trump has also stopped, for the moment, injecting his “Pocahontas” slur into the political news cycle, but that will return if she clinches the nomination.
Would Warren be hurt next year if Trump starts it up again? We don't know, but we think we do know these things:

No benefit to her career: Did Warren ever gain career advantage from her self-identification as Native American? We have no idea, and the Boston Globe's assessment, right or wrong, completely misses the point.

They key point is this—it's very hard to avoid the impression that Warren was seeking career advantage by making this very strange claim. It's the alleged motive that's central here, not the question of an actual benefit.

With our characteristic cluelessness, we liberals have been hiding behind that Globe assessment for a long time. It totally misses the point.

All the president's slurs: Question—when did the term "Pocahontas" become a racial "slur?"

We liberals keep dismissing Trump's taunt as "racist," as a "slur." But what makes "Pocahontas" a "slur?" What makes the mocking term "racist?"

Clearly, Trump's nickname is a term or derision in this context—but the derision is aimed at Warren for allegedly making a fraudulent claim.

She isn't being insulted or ridiculed for actually being Native American. She's being ridiculed for allegedly making a (decades-long) false claim to that effect.

News flash: If Trump returns to that attack, it won't sound like a "racist" "slur" to all kinds of in-between voters. They'll understand what's being alleged. Our complaint will sound like what it is—a dodge, which misses the point.

Why did Warren make that weirdly implausible claim for all those years? We have no way of knowing, but on its face, it's hard to imagine how she ever thought that she was actually AMERICAN INDIAN, as she once listed herself on an official form.

Whatever the truth may be, the impression that she was seeking advantage is very hard to avoid. Question:

Do we liberals plan to win next year, or do we just mainly enjoy calling Trump a racist? If we actually hope to win, we ought to consider the way this derisive attack might actually come across out there in the real world.

We have no idea if this type of attack would be successful next year. We do know how we liberals sound to many unaligned voters:

It sounds like all our sentences have a noun and a verb and a word ending in "—ism." It's the way we currently like to play. We'll guess that this approach could be a loser in this odd circumstance.

A final point: Liberals should start to plan for this attack today. Just consider the history.

Back in Campaign 1988, the Willie Horton attack was always going to come. When it came, we were caught by surprise.

So too, amazingly enough, with Candidate Kerry and the Swift boat attacks in Campaign 2004. The attack was always going to come. When it came, it did great damage.

Pocahontas will likely be back. Are we going to plan ahead, in realistic ways, or will we just gambol and play?

THE LIMITED COGNITION FILES: Dating despair at the Sunday Review!

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2019

The New York Times' sexual politics:
It's the rare morning when we don't do it—when we don't wonder about the degree of cognition put on display within the upper-end press corps.

We had several such moments this morning, just scanning the New York Times Some questions:

Should "E for Effort" in a banner headline really be taken as a compliment? Should 40 percent of a population be described as "most?"

In fairness, the Times does tell us today that Donald J. Trump's Scottish resort is 25 miles away from that much-maligned Scottish airport. On September 6, Rachel and Brian each rattled off a different figure—they each said the distance was 50 miles, a figure they took, live and direct, from a report which Politico had apparently bungled.

This morning, we checked the 2018 study from which an opinion column in today's Times had taken that figure of 40 percent. Alas!

That study came from NPR and Harvard, but the cogitations within that study were enough to break human hearts. We'll cite just one example:
HARVARD/NPR (October 2018): Most rural Americans say that minority groups do not face discrimination in their local community, with the exception of three key groups: gays and lesbians, transgender people, and recent immigrants to the United States. Three in ten rural adults (30%) say that generally speaking, they think transgender people are discriminated against in their local community, while 29% of rural adults say they generally think recent immigrants to the U.S. are discriminated against. More than one-quarter (27%) of rural adults say that generally speaking, they think gays and lesbians are discriminated against in their local community.
In that passage, journalistic and academic elites say that 27% is "most!" At such moments, we tend to think of Kevin Drum's reporting about the massive exposure to lead which was almost universal during the years when most current elites were children.

On line, that op-ed column in today's Times makes much more sense than it did in our print edition, where it seems to have suffered from ham-handed, slapdash editing. That said, hapless editing is standard at the Times, as we all learned this weekend in the case of the grotesquely bungled editing of the new Kavanaugh semi-accusation, in which an important disclaimer was removed during the editing process.

Make no mistake! We live in a world where 25 miles is actually 50 and 30% is most! We live in a world where some editor at the Times doesn't understand that "E for Effort" will sound like an insult to many people, not like an accolade.

More specifically, we enter that world when we peruse the puzzling work product of many people within our mainstream press. Our first such journey this morning occurred as we scanned the new contents at Slate. This entry appeared on that list:
CHRISTINA CAUTERUCCI / SEPT 18, 2019 / 8:18 PM
"Go Home and Just Rest and Do Something Else”: Senior Citizens on Biden's Age
Skillfully, we clicked. The report to which we were transported was headlined exactly like this:
POLITICS
“It’s Time for the Baby Boomers to Get Off the Stage”
People over 60 respond to concerns about Joe Biden’s age.

By CHRISTINA CAUTERUCCI
We were surprised to see that older voters were telling Biden to quit. As everyone knows, older voters have been Biden's strongest age cohort in primary polling to date.

Personally, we think Biden is a terrible candidate within a field of terrible candidates. But if it's terrible you want, terrible is routinely present in the cogitations of those in our upper-end press.

In this case, the Slate report was a virtual parody of anything resembling serious journalistic practice. The analysts screamed and tore at their hair when they encountered this discourse on method:
CAUTERUCCI (9/18/19): With Biden, Trump, and Bernie Sanders all pushing back the outer limits of candidate age, and Elizabeth Warren not far behind them, I set out to ask people who have personally experienced the aging process what they thought about Biden, aging, and the presidency. I found some through Twitter and some hanging around tourist hotspots in D.C. All in all, I talked to more than a dozen Americans over 60, some of whom preferred to omit their last names while speaking frankly about politics.
We didn't make that up! Indefatigably, Slate's scribe had spoken to more than a dozen people as she tried to learn what older people think about Biden's acuity. That struck us as a rather small (and rather imprecise) N.

Cauterucci had spoken to a comically small number of people. Some were concerned about Biden's age, others were not—but so what? Some editor selected the most negative quotes and placed them in Slate's two headlines. No one cared about the sheer absurdity of Cauterucci's basic method, a method we've persistently found in the New York Times during past elections.

So it goes when our journalistic elites attempt to create information.

Within this puzzling cognitive realm, an important new project has been announced. We refer to The 1619 Project, in which the same newspaper which massively bungled last Sunday's Kavanaugh report is going to reinvent the whole of American history.

We'll discuss the advisability of that undertaking tomorrow. For today, we'll only say this:

People who think that 40 percent is most; people who are inclined to tweet that “having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun;"

People who let their best-known columnist write about Obambi's finicky eating habits all through Campaign 2008; people who go out and hire the fatuous Wall Street Journal writer who wrote an endless analysis piece questioning whether Candidate Obama was too skinny to be president:

People whose rather shaky cognition tends to lead them in such directions should perhaps be less self-assured as they undertake to intervene in so sweeping a way concerning so crucial a topic. On balance, the Times is not an impressive group. People who think Maureen Dowd is a genius might even do the world the favor of leaving such projects alone.

We'll assess that history project tomorrow. For today, we only want to call your attention to another mission on which this very strange upper-class newspaper seems to have embarked.

To us, this other project seems to be present each Sunday morning now. We find it in the Sunday Review, generally with a pair of essays which open like this trio of essays, all of which appeared on Sunday July 21:
The Ridiculous Fantasy of a ‘No Drama’ Relationship
Online, that’s what men say they want from women. Do they know nothing about life?

By Laura Hilgers
Ms. Hilgers writes about addiction, love and other topics.

I was recently on the dating app Bumble when I came across the profile of an attractive middle-aged man, a few years younger than I am. He was born on the East Coast and had a big dog, which I liked. But then I read that he was “100 percent drama-free” and demanded that any dates be the same way. I thought, “Here’s somebody who probably won’t listen if I’m having a bad day” and swiped left to indicate my lack of interest...

FaceApp and the Savage Shock of Aging
In the mirror is someone we never thought we’d become.

By Nicci Gerrard
Ms. Gerrard is the author of the forthcoming book “The Last Ocean: A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting.”

Several years ago I was in a department store, frazzled and running late, looking for things I couldn’t find. As I was hastening along an aisle, a woman came toward me. She was quite a bit older than I was, and in a state of substantial disarray. As I drew closer I saw her shirt was wrongly buttoned. I put up a hand to prevent her bumping into me, and she put up a hand as well. I stopped. She stopped. We stared at each other with a kind of pity. And with a sudden rush of mortification, I understood that I was looking at myself in a mirror. Was I that tired and shambolic? Was I that old?...
"Opinion columns" of this type have become a staple at the Sunday Review. With apologies, they make us think of the throwback sexual politics the New York Times has persistently put on display during the era of Dowd.

Is there anything "wrong" with first-person, "human interest" submissions of this type, submissions which, in the Sunday Review, exclusively come from women? We'll agree that there's nothing evil about such submissions, but as American society slides toward the sea, we can't help wondering about a guild which continues with musings like this in its highest profile weekly ideas and analysis section:
In Praise of Online Dating
Yes, it can be demoralizing. It can also enlarge your world.

By Katharine Smyth
Ms. Smyth is a writer.

When I was in my early 30s, my husband of four years, partner of nine, left abruptly in the middle of the night. In the surreal weeks and months that followed, I grew increasingly apprehensive about the idea of online dating. I hadn’t been single in nearly a decade; I didn’t even have Facebook, let alone a stockpile of profile pictures or an irrepressible texting game...
That return to the problems of online dating appeared on August 11. One Sunday later, on August 18, these ruminations appeared:
Finding Myself in My Mother’s Calendars
We tend to think they are about keeping track of time. They are about much more.

By Carol J. Adams
Ms. Adams is an activist and author.

Among my mother’s legacies are four decades of yearly calendars. At the beginning of this year—a decade after her death—I resolved to read all 40. Could these appointment calendars, which she kept from 1965 through 2003, offer a window through which to glimpse my mother in the midst of living her life? Curious, I hoped that something as ordinary as her datebook might surprise me...

I’m 57. Am I Grown Up?
I’m childless, still trekking the path to self-realization, and always the first one on the dance floor.

By Erin Aubry Kaplan
Contributing Opinion Writer

Am I grown up? I have been asking myself this question for 40 years, since I was 17. At that very young age the question was mostly rhetorical—of course I was grown up: I had graduated from high school and was headed to a big university; I had a driver’s license and could navigate Los Angeles freeways; I wore makeup and high heels with regularity and reasonable sophistication; I had finally ditched the wash-and-set hairstyle preferred by my mother and let my hair curl at will. I was doing me by degrees, and every degree was thrilling, all I imagined grown up would be...
"I’m 57. Am I Grown Up?" Again and again, then again and again, this is the way this throwback newspaper has pictured the capability and agency of the people they think of as women.

To us, these musings seem to come straight from the old "women's pages" of newspapers from the past mid-century, or perhaps from the pages of the Redbook of some era. There's nothing "evil" about these musings, but no similar musings are published by men, and the musings seem to create a somewhat peculiar picture of the capabilities of women.

By August 25, we'd actually proceeded to "Dating While Dying/I found myself terminally ill and unexpectedly single at 40." Last Sunday, we were asked to muse about this:
How My Boyfriend Made Me Fall in Love With Gaming
It became a form of bonding for us, not a source of strain.

By Eve Peyser
Ms. Peyser writes about culture and politics.

When my boyfriend moved into my shoe-box one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, he brought along three uninvited friends: his Xbox 360, his PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Wii. Within a week, he insisted on buying a second television in order to game at his leisure, and avoid badgering from me. In fairness, I was the stereotypical video game-phobic girlfriend.

Growing up in an all-female household, I never owned a gaming console and never yearned for one. Whenever I did play a console game, always at the house of a male friend, I would quickly grow frustrated because I didn’t know how to use the controller...
Is the modern subscriber permitted to ask if these regular Sunday submissions might not constitute a new form of Standardized New York Times All-Around Dumbness? Just so you'll know, the Times appended this pathetic "human interest" request to the end of last Sunday's column:
Did a loved one help you appreciate video games? Do you think being a gamer is worthwhile or problematic? Let us know in the comments.
How far is it from that silly request to yesterday's "Here to Help" feature, in which a very young woman told us that, in recent months, she has queued up a routine with a few simple, inexpensive ways to nurture herself in as little as 15 minutes a day, so that she can feel steady even during life’s droughts and downpours?

Alas! Among the ways this young woman said she now nurtures herself, she didn't fail to list this:
Effortless toothbrushing

I sometimes yearn to skip this step in my nightly routine so I can just get to bed already. Since getting an electric toothbrush, though, I’ve found that persuading myself to brush is easier.
She has also started going to therapy, because although she finds these self-nurturing tools helpful, they can’t replace professional medical help.

Needless to say, that young woman deserves all the help she can get; we'd suggest a one-way ticket away from the Times. That said, who will save us from the throwback culture so persistent at that peculiar newspaper?

Dating from the ascension of Dowd and the full-blown investment in "Creeping Dowdism," the Times has persistently projected a very strange picture of the capabilities of women. Without attempting to denigrate the young women who wrote it, yesterday's Here to Help feature—and those now routine, two-per-week Sunday "human interest" submissions—seem to have taken us back to the time when people socially defined as women need the constant assistance of stronger people just to get through the day, then to jump into bed at night with teeth successfully brushed.

Can this still be the way anyone pictures the world of women? Apparently, yes it can, at the persistently fatuous Times.

Like other upper-class institutions, the New York Times is almost impossibly daft on a regular basis. It's stunning to think that a flyweight gang like this has decided that they should be the ones who "finally" craft The One Absolute Truth about American history.

WE'll start tomorrow with Biden's cognition, move on to that of the Times. But we often think of Kevin Drum when we peruse the upper-end press, and major expert anthropologists just won't stop telling us this:

You simply can't be this stupid this long without ending up with a Trump.

Tomorrow: What was Biden talking about? The Times meets American history

Blasey Ford's high school friend take a hike!

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2019

The things we liberals aren't told:
Yesterday, Kevin Drum wrote about the widely-discussed new book about Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. His post appeared beneath this headline:
New Kavanaugh Book Is a Gift for Conservatives
Unfortunately, that headline may well be right. We say that because the book includes new information—new information which we liberals pretty much aren't being told.

Conservatives are being given the new information, on Fox and at conservative sites. But we aren't being told Over Here, and we haven't been told to date by the New York Times.

In short, we're being propagandized. Here's the part of Drum's post which we principally have in mind:
DRUM (9/17/19): Back during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, Chistine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of pinning her on a bed and covering her mouth—before eventually letting her go—at a small house party when he was 17. In the book, we learn that Leland Keyser, a friend of Ford’s who was at the party, now says that she doesn’t remember the event and that “it just didn’t make sense.” And: “It would be impossible for me to be the only girl at a get-together with three guys, have her leave, and then not figure out how she’s getting home. I just really didn’t have confidence in the story.” Keyser says that her original equivocal testimony had been delivered under duress.
That's right! According to Blasey Ford, Leland Keyser, a high school friend, was the only other girl at the gathering where the alleged attack occurred. But here's what Keyser told the two Times reporters concerning Blasey Ford's account:

“I don’t have any confidence in the story.” (We're taking our quote from the work of the Times reporters in this Atlantic essay.)

There's an uglier part of what Keyser told the Times reporters. As Drum notes, she told them that she was pressured by supporters of Blasey Ford to get in line with Blasey Ford's story.

More accurately, Keyser seems to have said that she was threatened by Blasey Ford's supporters. “I was told behind the scenes that certain things could be spread about me if I didn’t comply,” she told the Times reporters.

The fact that Keyser has said these things doesn't mean that they're true. The fact that liberals haven't been told these things is part of the way our liberal orgs subject us to propaganda—keep us barefoot and clueless.

The fact that Keyser has said these things doesn't mean that Blasey Ford's account is false. The fact that you haven't heard these things means that you're being played. Propaganda isn't just for The Others any more!

The New York Times didn't include this information in the multiply-bungled excerpt of the new book which it published on Sunday. It did feature a grossly misleading account of another claimed assault, but only after editors removed the part of the piece which explained that the woman who was allegedly mistreated has refused to make any such claim and has apparently told friends that she recalls no such incident.

(Long after Sunday's report was published, the Times reinserted that basic information in its published account.)

If you were watching Fox last night, you were told about these facts and about these major journalistic bungles. You were told, not unreasonably, that this information helps you see how fake the New York Times is.

If you get your news from liberal sources, you probably haven't heard these things. If you want to read a bit more, we'll link you to two sources:

At this link, you'll see a report about these matters by the Washington Post's Aaron Blake. The report appeared on-line at 9:30 yesterday morning. It didn't appear in today's hard-copy Post.

At this second link, you'll find a report by Mollie Hemingway, who published a book in July about these same events. Hemingway apparently reports the same things in her book, but she seems to say that Keyser spoke with her off the record. She's quite sardonic in her appraisal of the Times reporters, possibly with reason.

Did Kavanaugh assault Blasey Ford? We have no way of knowing.

Is information being kept from us liberals? Dearest darlings, use your heads! Did you have to ask?

THE FALTERING COGNITION FILES: Could this be part of Redbook Redux?

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2019

The New York Times' second mission:
Over at Mother Jones, Sarah Jones has tweeted that she was "truly mystified by how badly the NYT botched this book excerpt.”

She refers to the the way, or perhaps to the several ways, the New York Times has bungled its roll-out of the new book about the Kavanaugh hearings.

For ourselves, we haven't yet had the heart to tell you how many ways the Times has managed to bungle that roll-out. More on that later today, with a link to Drum.

For now, we'll only say that we're surprised to see that Jones is surprised by what has occurred. Of all people, we would have hoped that this youngish scribe would have been more savvy.

Jones is a youngish, progressive writer with working-class roots in southwest Virginia coal country. By way of contrast, the Times is a largely vacuous upper-class news org whose cultural roots grow out of the manicured soil in the better parts of the Hamptons.

The Times has been a cancer on American journalism at least since the time, in 1992, when Katherine Boo tried to warn the world about the phenomenon she memorably called "Creeping Dowdism." The fact that Jones is mystified by the Times' latest bungles—well, it just shows us how powerful the newspaper's branding has been.

How fatuous is the inner guild at the New York Times? So fatuous that the paper has decided to reinvent the whole of American history through its self-ballyhooed 1619 Project, a project Andrew Sullivan discussed last Friday in this widely-read essay.

Sullivan praised some of the early work from the project, but warned against the Times' decision to move from "[journalistic] liberalism to [journalistic] activism." For ourselves, we're inclined to think that the paper is indulging itself in massive hubris concerning a deeply important part of American as it launches itself on the mission it announced last month.

The 1619 Project involves a type of journalistic "activism" concerning our nation's brutal racial history. We'll discuss Sullivan's essay on Friday.

Today, let's start to discuss the second major "activist" mission this newspaper seems to be fashioning. We're inclined, perhaps unfairly, to call it Redbook Redux.

How dumb is the essentially upper-class culture inside the New York Times? Let's start today with the "Here to Help" feature found on today's page A3.

As with all upper-class cultures, the upper-class culture of the Times is deep into self-involvement. How else to explain the fatuous nature of a feature which starts off as shown below?

No, we aren't making this up. On today's A3, we found this:
Here to Help
5 (CHEAPISH) THINGS FOR SELF-CARE IN 15 MINUTES A DAY

In recent months, I’ve queued up a routine with a few simple, inexpensive ways to nurture myself in as little as 15 minutes a day, so that I can feel steady even during life’s droughts and downpours. (I also started going to therapy, because although I find these tools helpful, they can’t replace professional medical help.)

In collaboration with picks from Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products, here are five cheap(ish) things I use to take care of myself in 15 minutes or less.
As the wider American project continues to slide toward the sea, this is the sort of journalism which seems to make sense at the Times.

The writer here is looking for ways to nurture herself on a daily basis, thereby letting herself feel steady even during life’s droughts and downpours. As almost anyone would, we wondered how old a person would have to be to have mastered so complete a regime of self-involvement.

We'll admit that we were surprised to see that the writer is only five years out of college (Reed, class of 2014). Even at that tender age, she's devoted to nurturing herself while keeping her therapy on the side.

Why knows? Perhaps it's the very craziness of the world the New York Times has helped create which explains this type of anxious self-involvement at such an early age.

We're sure that the writer of this piece is a good, decent person; we're disappointed that she'd get involved with a fatuous outfit like the Times. At any rate, she describes her role at the paper like this:
I'm a New York based writer who knows that good writing takes more than carefully chosen words. Currently, I work at Wirecutter, the product review site owned by the New York Times, with a focus on kitchen gear and apparel. This involves exhaustive research and testing, and a fine eye for details. In my day to day, I research, report, edit, and fact-check pieces; work with editors and stakeholders to align our goals; communicate with web and photo teams to realize the big picture; and use data and analytics to reach the right audience. Beyond crafting narratives, I make sure every project reaches its full potential.
Did you know that, as our society slides toward the sea, the New York Times owns a "product review site"—a site which maintains "a focus on kitchen gear and apparel?"

We'll admit that we didn't know that! That said, we're struck by the "exhaustive research" and endless journalistic care which seems to go into the work of the site, especially in contrast to the kinds of disaster which routinely occur when the Times attempts to discuss matters like allegations of sexual assault within the highest realms of national politics.

The self-involvement on display in this morning's piece comes to us from the wheelhouse of the modern Times. As the paper's young writer continues, she lists and describes five different ways she nurtures herself each day, even as her society and the global structure are melting down around her.

At the modern-day New York Times, these priorities seem to make sense. Below, you see one of the ways the Wirecutter says we might self-nurture.

No, we haven't made this up. This appears on page A3 of today's hard-copy Times:
Effortless toothbrushing

I sometimes yearn to skip this step in my nightly routine so I can just get to bed already. Since getting an electric toothbrush, though, I’ve found that persuading myself to brush is easier. Wirecutter’s pick, the Oral-B Pro 1000, does most of the work for me. The Oral-B is a cinch to use, and it makes my teeth feel scrubbed clean (I just turn it on and attempt to follow the American Dental Association’s guidelines for two solid minutes). Every time I go to Costco, I treat myself to replacement heads alongside a giant bag of snap pea crisps. Balance!
Effortless toothbrushing! And no, we haven't made that up. That copy appears on page A3 of today's New York Times.

(To peruse the full on-line essay from which the print feature is derived, you can just click here. Don't miss the "bright water bottle you won’t be able to ignore" or the "soothing meditation app." They're all part of The Hamptons Experience!)

Truly, this fatuous upper-class newspaper leaves no stone unturned! Even as it assigns itself the task of creating The One True Version of American History, it's happy to advertise the type of self-nurturing which can result from effortless nightly toothbrushing.

Let's offer a bit of background:

The Times "reimagined" its page A3 a few years ago. Like many others, we were surprised by the slogan the paper announced for its new, helpful page:
You are the dumbest people on earth.
We at the Times want to serve you.
That was admirably frank! But doggone it:

Even in the face of that messaging; even in the face of the newspaper's relentless classic bungles, stretching from the invention of the Whitewater pseudo-scandal on through the destruction Candidate Gore on through the relentless deconstruction of the diffident debutante Obambi on through a tweet which has now announced this:

“Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun.”

Even after decades of similar conduct, a journalistic hope for the future is mystified by the Times' latest series of pitiful Trump-aiding bungles.

At this routinely silly, upper-class newspaper, having a penis thrust in your face may seem like harmless fun! On the other hand, effortless toothbrushing can help a subscriber "just get to bed already" on a nightly basis.

On Friday, we plan to discuss The 1619 Project, a sweeping attempt to reinvent the journalistic treatment of our nation's brutal racial history. We plan to discuss Sullivan's view of the project while tossing in our own.

What, though, is the second "mission" on which the Times seems to be launching itself? It seems to us that today's "Here to Help" may help point us in that direction.

We'll describe that second mission tomorrow. We've been thinking of it as Redbook Redux, though that may be unfair.

Tomorrow: A throwback gender world

Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands!

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

For entertainment purposes only:
In this morning's print editions, the New York Times, our brainiest newspaper, offers the correction shown below.

No, we aren't making this up. Exactly as reproduced, the correction appears on page A27 of this morning's Washington Edition:
CORRECTIONS

An Op-Ed article on Saturday about performance-enhancing drugs and technology referred incorrectly to the classification of ostriches. They are birds, not mammals.
Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands! The second of today's two op-ed corrections is almost as entertaining.

To read the column referred to above, you can just click here. A version of the correction appears at the end of the column.

An ostrich is a bird, not a mammal! Insert joke about "heads in the sand" concerning the work of this very strange newspaper over the past thirty years.

Obambi was much like Scarlett O'Hara! Please send them a Pulitzer prize!

Pending full recovery, possibly coming tomorrow: Only in the New York Times:
How My Boyfriend Made Me Fall in Love With Gaming
It became a form of bonding for us, not a source of strain.
As if you couldn't have guessed, it came from the Sunday Review.

THE QUESTIONABLE COGNITION FILES: The New York Times does it again!

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

And again and again and again:
“Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun.”

As you may know, we're quoting from the New York Times—from an official Opinion section tweet, a tweet which sought to direct attention to the newspaper's latest large bungle.

As things turned out, the ham-handed tweet replaced that high-profile Sunday report as the newspaper's latest large bungle. It also recalled the peculiar, throwback "sexual politics" the famous newspaper has often put on peculiar display over the past many years.

The facts behind these successive large bungles have been widely discussed in the past two days. As far as we know, the author of that ham-handed tweet remains unnamed, and we hope it remains that way.

The tweet was directing attention to the featured essay in last weekend's Sunday Review. For the background on that bungled essay, we'll direct you to Margaret Sullivan, wringing her hands and tearing her hair in today's Washington Post.

We'd only wonder why Sullivan still seems surprised by nonsense like this at the famous Times.

Over the weekend, the bungles were flying thick and fast from the New York Times. At the start of the weekend, Andrew Sullivan had suggested that it might not be the greatest idea for this pathetically flawed, high-profile org to assign itself the task of rewriting the whole of American history, the latest major "journalistic" project the Times has undertaken.

Sullivan's essay was widely read and was, in our view, quite worthwhile. We'll discuss its assessments, and add to its claims, by the end of the week.

For today, we thought it might be best to turn to The Questionable Cognition Files—to review the problematic cognitive state which is frequently on display at the New York Times.

Is the state of Candidate Biden's cognition a reasonable topic at this time? In our view, yes, it is—and we don't regard that as "ageism," the pitiful moniker dumped on this question just yesterday by former senator Boxer.

Boxer was working within the cognitive bubble favored by our floundering tribe, in which every sentence has a noun and a verb and a word ending with "—ism."

In fact, as we all know, many people do experience cognitive decline as they reach a certain age. Given the office Biden seeks, it would be strange to ignore this well-known fact, especially in the face of the candidate's various stumbles.

In our view, the state of Candidate Biden's cognition should be up for review. But how about the cognitive state of the glorious Times? In our view, the general state of its staff's cognition should be questioned too.

Basic background: there has been little question, in recent decades, about the cognitive state of the Democratic Party's presidential nominees.

In 1992, Candidate Clinton was a former Rhodes scholar. No one questioned how such a thing come have come to pass.

In 2008, Candidate Obama was a former editor of the Harvard Law Review. He was also the author of a 1995 memoir which was quite favorably reviewed in real time, before he became a public figure.

In Campaign 2000, the party's nominee had been Vice President Gore. In 1992, he'd written a major book about climate change—a book which was very favorably reviewed in real time, by both the Washington Post and the New York Times.

For excerpts from those real-time reviews, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/23/07. In 2007, Gore was awarded a Nobel prize for his long-time work in this area.

The cognitive traits of these nominees seemed beyond reproach. That brings us to the peculiar cognitive traits of an amazing number of major players at the New York Times.

As a quick starter, consider Gore's widely-praised 1992 book.

By the end of 1999, Candidate Gore was under attack all over the mainstream press, and certainly so at the New York Times.
The paper specialized in inventing weird "quotations" by Gore and, of course, in questioning his masculinity.

For these reasons, his widely-praised book was reviewed again, along with books by the other major candidates. On the paper's front page, the paper's long-standing book reviewer now offered this:
KAKUTANI (11/22/99): Vice President Al Gore emerges from ''Earth in the Balance'' (Plume), his 1992 book about the environment, as the quintessential A-student who has belatedly discovered New Age psychobabble. Like his speeches, his book veers between detailed policy assessments (predictably illustrated with lots of charts and graphs) and high-decibel outbursts of passion, between energetically researched historical disquisitions and loony asides about ''inner ecology'' and ''spiritual triangulation''—asides that may help explain his curious affinity with his feminist consultant, Naomi Wolf.
Gore's book was now psychobabble and loony asides, with repeated citations of Naomi Wolf, who had played exactly zero role in its composition.

Kakutani devoted 800 words to Gore's book. She kept suggesting that Gore was some species of "loony," and she weirdly mentioned Wolf three separate times.

Kakutani's front-page review stands as one of the strangest pieces of journalism of the modern era. For a detailed review of its manifest weirdness, see that same DAILY HOWLER, 2/23/07, with links to a four-part report in real time.

Kakutani's bizarre review came to the public live and direct from The Puzzling Cognition Files. For another sample from those files, consider a column which appeared in this weekend's Sunday Review. And yes, we refer to the same high-profile section which was fronted, this past weekend, by the Times' latest large bungle!

With apologies, the column in question was written by Maureen Dowd. No one has done more to define the strangeness of New York Times journalism and cognitive states over the past thirty years.

As a general matter, we'd say that Dowd's column this Sunday actually made good sense. She warned that the current crop of Democratic candidates are actually making it possible to imagine Donald J. Trump's re-election.

That said, the pundit offered the manifest nonsense shown below at one point. We'd have to say that this astonishing passage qualifies as vintage "crackpot Times," live and direct from The Damaged Cognition Files:
DOWD (9/15/19): Tactics [at the Democratic debate] superseded passion and vision. Everyone seemed one tick off. Unlike with Barack Obama in 2008, none made you feel like you wanted to pump your fist in the air and march into the future behind them.

“Being a good politician doesn’t matter anymore,” lamented one freaked-out congressional Democrat afterward. “It’s like being a great used car salesman. We need a Holden Caulfield to call out all the phonies.”
Say what? Editors were letting Dowd pretend that, back in 2008, Candidate Obama had made her feel "like [she] wanted to pump [her] fist in the air and march into the future behind [him]."

For those who retain some modest degree of normal cognition, this characterization will perhaps seem insulting and daft.

How did Dowd portray Barack Obama in 2007 and 2008? We've often recalled the insulting, gender-crazy way she wrote about the "diffident debutante." To avoid quoting ourselves, we'll quote Zachary Roth, in real time, at the Columbia Journalism Review.

"Another day, another shockingly dumb column by Maureen Dowd," Roth wrote in July 2008. Here's a taste of the way Obama was being portrayed by the Times' highest-profile columnist back then, in real time:
ROTH (7/16/08): ...Dowd has another concern about Obama. He’s “in danger of seeming too prissy about food.”

In reality, it would be more accurate to say that he already seems this way—to Maureen Dowd. During the primaries, Dowd began to sense that Obama might not be a big fan of junk food. Since then, she has elevated this observation to the status of a brilliant character-revealing aper├žu. She has mined every available piece of evidence in a dogged campaign to turn Obama’s eating habits into a proxy for his alleged inability to relate to those white working-class Americans for whom, from her Georgetown townhouse, she claims to speak.

In last week’s column, titled “No Ice Cream, Senator?”, she criticized his “finicky, abstemious tastes,”
and highlighted the fact that his daughter had revealed he doesn’t like sweets or ice cream.

In April, she noted that, after Obama “force-fed” himself waffles, pancakes, sausage, and a Philly cheese steak, he was “clearly a man who can’t wait to get back to his organic scrambled egg whites.”

The previous week, she had described him as “resisting as the natives tried to fatten him up like a foie-gras goose.”

And two weeks before that, she had revealed to readers that, at a Pennsylvania chocolate shop, Obama “spent most of his time skittering away from chocolate goodies, as though he were a starlet obsessing on a svelte waistline,” and that he declined a chocolate cake with frosting, saying “that’s too decadent for me.”

Is it just me, or is there something a bit sad about using your New York Times column to pay this level of attention to a candidate’s eating habits?
The sheer inanity of Dowd's work was on display all through that campaign. There was no sign that the candidate in question made her feel like she wanted to pump her fist in the air and march into the future behind him.

Nor was Roth the only person who managed to notice the relentless stupidity with which Dowd kept attacking Obama, as with others before him. At this link from the press criticism site FAIR, you'll find a compilation of complaints about Dowd's endlessly ridiculous work. We'll post a few examples:
In her January 18 New York Times column, Maureen Dowd decided that the best way to criticize the Democratic Party was to feminize it. Calling Al Gore and John Kerry “girlie men” and equating the Democrats with “Desperate Housewives,” she argued that the Democrats do not have enough fight in them and their attacks will never yield success “as long as they’re perceived as the party in skirts.”

—Lauren Pruneski, Campus Progress (1/24/06)

If the point of the stories about Edwards’ wealth is to delegitimize his arguments on behalf of the poor, the haircut obsession is designed to feminize the candidate and thereby undermine his credentials as macho-man for president—which are, by the way, those deemed to be the most important by the media. . . . Maureen Dowd use[s] the term “Breck Girl.” . . . Dowd also accuses Obama of preening like a “46-year-old virgin,” demonstrating “loose” body language and being “hung up on being seen as thoughtful,” while secretly fearing “being seen as ‘a dumb blond.'” Still, it’s a kind of progress over her Gore coverage.

—Eric Alterman, the Nation (9/13/07)

In March 2004, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd highlighted the “Breck Girl” label as an example of the “nasty Republican habit of portraying opponents as less than fully masculine.” Still, it’s a habit she can’t kick: She has used the phrase “Breck Girl” four times in three columns since then—not to mention countless other occasions when she has compared Barack Obama to Scarlett O’Hara or called him “Obambi” or otherwise indulged her own “nasty habit.”

—Media Matters (3/9/07)

Back in March, Dowd’s Obama was “effete.” Today, she goes for something more vivid, likening him to a “diffident debutante.”

Not yet up to Al Gore is “practically lactating” snuff. But give her time.

—Liz Cox Barrett, Columbia Journalism Review (5/14/08)
Candidate Gore had been "practically lactating," and Candidate Edwards was the Breck Girl. Candidate Obama was "effete," "the diffident debutante," one who secretly feared "being seen as a dumb blond." Not to mention the food!

On Sunday, the New York Times let this perpetual crackpot pretend that she had swooned over Obama. As we wonder about the state of Candidate Biden's cognition, what would keep us from asking similar questions about the deeply peculiar, Hamptons-based gang inside the New York Times?

"Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun!" So someone within this crackpot fraternal/sororal order officially tweeted this weekend.

We don't want to know who it was! But that tweet was offered to promote the featured piece in the Sunday Review—a featured piece which turned out to contain the newspaper's latest large bungle. This pitiful bullshit never stops at this deeply ridiculous newspaper, a paper which has long branded itself as brightest in all the land.

In that same Sunday Review, Dowd was pretending that she swooned for Candidate "Obambi" in 2008. Surely, Dowd's editors knew how bogus that passage was—but the Times has long run on such fuel, and nothing is likely to change.

The New York Times has seemed to be impaired for decades now. The paper routinely displays the broken soul, and the limited intellect, of a fatuous upper-class Antoinette-styled elite.

Now, the flyweights inside this Animal House have assigned themselves the task of rewriting the whole of American history in The One True Accurate Manner. Sullivan thinks that's a lousy idea. We may think it's even dumber than that.

We'll discuss those points by the end of the week. Tomorrow, though, we'll move on to another mission the Times seems to be on—and the Times is a very dumb newspaper.

Is Biden's cognition open to question? In our view, yes, it is—but what about that of the Times?

Tomorrow: The newspaper's second mission

Fahrenthold plays Hardball concerning Scotland!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2019

Refuses to dumb liberals down:
During Campaign 2016, the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold broke every rule in the book.

He spent his time developing actual information about Candidate Donald J. Trump. More specifically, he developed detailed information about Trump's charitable giving—or rather, about his lack of same.

Modern press culture more typically involves a flight from detailed information. In April 2017, the Pulitzer committee described Fahrenthold's conduct as they awarded the scribe their National Reporting prize:
The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner in National Reporting

David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post

For persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities.
Truth to tell, few voters seemed to care about the voluminous information Fahrenthold developed. Still, it was quite a throwback to see an upper-end reporter developing detailed information at all.

Fahrenthold has developed a reputation for dealing in information and facts. That helps explain the awkwardness which seemed to prevail when he played some Hardball last Friday evening.

We wanted to show you what he told Chris Matthews about those Air Force stopovers in Scotland. But MSNBC being what it is, the channel hasn't managed to transcribe last Friday's program yet.

None of this matters all that such, except as a cautionary tale. On September 6, then again on September 9, MSNBC's viewers were handed a tremendous amount of bull about this matter, principally on the programs hosted by Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow.

For our previous report, click here.


By last Friday, it was clear that Brian and Rachel had transmitted major volumes of bull about that pitiful little airport and about th stop-overs there. You'd almost think that Brian and Rachel would have wanted to correct the record.

Who's being naive now, Kay? Homey doesn't play it that way, not even on "liberal" cable!

On the brighter side, those wildly misleading/erroneous reports constitute a good object lesson for liberals. Until you've managed to check them yourself, you really can't believe the things you hear on The One True Channel. It's a corporate "cable news" channel, one which is devoted to entertainment, tribal excess and good solid prime-time fun.

At any rate, why have Air Force crews been stopping over at the rinky little pathetic airport Rachel kept misdescribing? In last Friday's Washington Post, Fahrenthold joined Colby Itkowitz in filing a new report.

Why were Air Force crews stopping at the Scottish airport? And why had some of those crews stayed overnight at Trump's Scottish resort?

As recounted in our previous post, the Times presented a fuller report. The Times was almost funny, so thoroughly did it contradict the various things Brian and Rachel had said.

The Times report went all the way back to stopovers by Elvis and Ike at that supposedly rinky little unauthorized Scottish airport, the one with the extra-long runway. But here's part of what the Post reporters wrote:
ITKOWITZ AND FAHRENTHOLD (9/13/19): The stays result from two separate agreements that both predate Trump’s presidency. Before Trump ran for president, the airport agreed to send visiting crews to Trump’s course. And while President Barack Obama was still in office, the Air Force agreed to send refueling aircraft to the airport.

Now that Trump is president, those two arrangements mean that the Air Force has paid the commander in chief to rent rooms. The Oversight Committee is investigating, but so far no evidence has emerged showing that Trump has done anything to alter the existing arrangements.
As Fahrenthold demonstrated in 2016, Donald J. Trump is an inveterate grifter. That said, Rachel and Brian have been known to con the public too.

We wanted to show you how Fahrenthold explained those awkward facts about the Scottish stop-overs to Matthews. As you can see, the facts seem to be nothing like the manifest bullshit Brian and Rachel had so pleasingly served.

At some point, last Friday's Hardball transcript will likely be posted here. If you're interested, you can look to see what Matthews was told.

To our eye and ear, Fahrenthold may have felt a tiny bit sheepish as he explained the facts to Chris. Our reading?

He knew what his cable host wanted to hear. He wasn't willing to say it.

THE PROBLEMATIC COGNITION FILES: Candidate Biden on a roll!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2019

The New York Times on a mission:
In our view, Candidate Castro's surprising mean streak has been one of the stories of the Democratic debates.

He did it again at last Thursday's debate. Surprisingly, Castro seems to have revealed a side of himself which is unattractive.

Castro's behavior was widely discussed after last Thursday's debate. But the largest takeaway from the debate involves that monologue by Candidate Biden.

We'll start with the multi-part question posed to Biden. That question was nothing to boast about, but as he responded, the current Democratic front-runner went on a meandering roll:
DAVIS (9/12/19): Mr. Vice President, I want to come to you and talk to you about inequality in schools and race.

In a conversation about how to deal with segregation in schools back in 1975, you told a reporter, "I don't feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I'll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago."

You said that some forty years ago. But as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?

BIDEN: Well, they have to deal with the— Look, there's institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Red-lining, banks, making sure that we are in a position where—

Look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools. Triple the amount of money we spend, from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out—the $60,000 level.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we need—we have one school psychologist for every 1500 kids in America today. It's crazy.

The teachers are—I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have—make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School! Not daycare. School. We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.

It's not that they don't want to help. They don't—they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the, the— Make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there. There's so much we—

DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN: No, I'm going to go like the rest of them do, twice over, OK? Because here's the deal. The deal is that we've got this a little backwards...
At that point, Biden began discussing Venezuela. But it seems to us that the exchange presented above raises a very basic question—a question which comes from our culture's problematic Elite Cognition Files.

Bowing to the rules of her guild, ABC's Linsey Davis started by quoting something Biden said forty-four years ago, in 1975.

(To watch this exchange, click here, move ahead to 2:06.)

Alas! A type of selective "gotcha journalism" has been a plague on the system for decades, sometimes with the candidates' troubling "quotations" dreamed up—indeed, invented—by the press corps itself.

In the last two presidential cycles, the selectivity has taken on a dismaying chronological dimension. In 2016, pundits journeyed back twenty years in time to attack Candidate Clinton for a term she'd used on one occasion in 1996.

Last Thursday, Davis reached all the way back to a time before she herself had been born!

Davis' vaguely-formed question was built around an extremely old bit of gotcha. But in his answer, Biden wandered the countryside, once again raising questions about the possibly declining state of his cognition.

His sentences didn't seem to parse. He jumped from one topic to another, scattershot fashion.

As Biden's comments meandered, he did, in fact, make a series of glancing references to a range of rarely-discussed educational topics—to the levels of funding for low-income schools; to the so-called "20 million word gap" (or 30 million, or four million); to the role of parents in the education of kids who come from low-literacy backgrounds.

But Biden took this journey in a semi-coherent way—and inevitably, the cognitively-challenged upper-end press corps ended up clucking about his use of the term "record player."

(Charles Blow, in this morning's Times: "[H]e gave a rambling, nonsensical answer that included a reference to a record player." However rambling it may have been, the answer wasn't nonsensical—unless you're ignorant of the issues to which the answer referred.)

As a group, upper-end pundits chuckled in unison about Biden's meandering answer. In their latest standard repeatable group assessment, they announced that the "record player" reference was funny, a source of amusement.

They love it when they all get to say the same things and tell the same wonderful jokes. They've been this way for decades now. For such reasons, we've questioned the state of their cognition since 1998.

At any rate, that was a stumbling, disjointed statement from the Democratic front-runner—from the oldest major party front-runner in the history of American politics.

Biden's statement reinforced questions which have been coming, not without reason, from The Elite Cognition Files. But so did the typically silly way the upper-end "press corps" reacted.

Our question is this:

Can a major modern nation survive when its upper-end elites are functioning on such low cognitive levels? As we raise this obvious question, we note an important change in the weather at the New York Times, a newspaper branded as the liberal world's brightest and smartest and best.

On Sunday, August 18,
the New York Times announced a major new approach to journalism, The 1619 Project. Last Friday, in this widely-read essay, Andrew Sullivan praised the quality of much of the project's initial work, but he also said that this new approach is "as much activism as journalism."

"The New York Times Has Abandoned Liberalism for Activism." So reads the headline which sits atop Sullivan's widely-read, worthwhile piece.

It seems to us that the New York Times has chosen to pursue several types of "activism" in the past year or so. Here's a question we'll ponder this week, even as we analyze Biden's meandering answer and the way the mainstream pundit corps responded to it:

Our question comes live and direct from The Upper-End Cognition Files. Do you feel that the Times is smart enough to undertake missions like these?

Tomorrow: Problematic cognition levels at the New York Times

We thought the Times was bad at this!

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2019

Today, the Post gives it a try:
We've seen the analysts cry before. We've never seen them crying this hard.

This morning, as the weekend honor guard broke us our regular Saturday breakfast—two frozen waffles, a bit under-toasted—tears were streaming down their cheeks.

"We've never seen a conceptual muddle this vast," one of them glumly exclaimed.

They referred to this morning's front-page report in the Washington Post, an endless attempt to analyze something resembling "public school integration." And dear God, how right those analysts were:

We thought the Times was bad with this topic. Today, the Post gives it a try.

Warning! So far, we've only been able to fight our way through the first 33 paragraphs of the endless 99-paragraph hard-copy report. (Yesterday afternoon, we tried to read it on-line, but we quickly decided to stop, putting our sanity first.)

This morning, we gave it a try in a coffee shop, struggling for the better part of an hour. We came away with a major anthropological finding:

We humans aren't built for conceptual work. It just isn't the way we were made.

Quickly, a word of warning. On balance, the Post seems to be saying that "public school integration" (or something like it) has been advancing since 1995, a finding which flies in the face of Preferred Current Tribal Woke Content.

Within our increasingly woke liberal tribe, everyone knows what we're supposed to say. We're supposed to say that public school "segregation" has never been as bad as it is today!

The Post report seems to challenge that view, though the report is such a conceptual muddle that, at least at this point, we're not entirely sure what the Post mainly claims.

The Post report follows Joe Biden's occasionally coherent attempt to explain what we should do "about inequality in schools and race."

(We're quoting from the semi-coherent question posed to Biden during Thursday night's "debate.")

Also in this morning's Post, Margaret Sullivan offers a barely coherent critique of Biden's occasionally coherent remarks, including a few quotations from woke but seemingly underschooled tribal members on twitter.

Moral posturing to the side, our tribe has never shown much interest in the lives of kids in low-income schools. For example, you won't see any such topic discussed on MSNBC, and we do mean not ever.

The lives and interests of low-income "minority" kids are neither entertaining nor fun. Presumably for these reasons, Rachel never discusses any such topic, and neither does anyone else.

This morning, though, in its featured front-page report, the Washington Post discusses public school "segregation," or something very much like it.

As noted above, the Post's front-page report is extremely long—99 paragraphs in all. In print editions, the lengthy report consumes a large chunk of the Post's front page, then consumes the entirety of pages A12 and A13 inside the paper.

As we read the print report, we were struck almost instantly by the conceptual confusion. The writers talk about "deeply segregated school districts" and "highly integrated public schools," along with "schools that were not integrated in 2017," without making any early attempt to define these terms.

On line, the problem deepens. On line, the full-length report from the print edition includes a link to a second lengthy report, one which contains a whole new set of somewhat puzzling terms. Also, beware of puzzling interactive graphics!

At any rate, we're told in this second report that the nation's public school districts come in three flavors. They are defined as follows:
Types of public school districts:
Diverse: No one race constitutes more than 75 percent of the district’s student enrollment.

Undiverse: Some race constitutes 75-90% of the district's student enrollment.

Extremely undiverse: Some race constitutes more than 90% of the district's student enrollment.
Warning! Under this conceptual framework, a "diverse school district" can also be "deeply segregated."

With a little cogitation, that fact isn't hard to grasp. But this would apparently be a diverse school district under this conceptual scheme:
Student enrollment, School District A
Black kids: 50 percent
Hispanic kids: 50 percent
Under the Post's conceptual framework, that school district would be categorized as "diverse."

Meanwhile, if that district's black and Hispanic kids are evenly distributed in its various schools, those schools would presumably be assessed as "integrated," according to another part of the Post's conceptual scheme. No "segregation" to look at!

But uh-oh! According to the UCLA framework which controls modern woke liberal thought, every school in that district would be "segregated." Indeed, they'd all be "apartheid schools." There would be no white kids in those schools at all.

We may discuss this absurdly lengthy report next week. Then again, we may give up in despair. (We have no idea why a newspaper would present so much material, on such an important topic, all in one big dose.)

We may give up in despair! Today, though, we have two takeaways. Our first such thought is this:

If we insist on using the term "segregation," questions of diversity and racial isolation in public schools are quite hard to discuss.

That would be our first takeaway—if we want a clear discussion, we should stop insisting on the use of fraught historical terms which no longer have clear meaning.

Our second takeaway fills us with gloom, but it comes to us from top anthropologists:

We humans aren't built for conceptual work. It just isn't the way we were made!

To what extent are we able to function?

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2019

Bernie and Joe, plus Drum:
This is a terrible field.

By any traditional standard, two of the top five candidates are way too old for the job. Another member of the top five is way too young.

Of the remaining two top contenders, one spent several decades saying on official forms that she was an AMERICAN INDIAN. It's hard to believe that she ever could have believed that. It's impossible to avoid the possibility that she did this in hopes of career gain. We'll all be hearing more about this if she's the nominee.

That leaves Candidate Harris. We're somewhat surprised that she hasn't caught on, though she strikes us as tilting toward faux and mirage.

This terrible field is confronting the madness of the ongoing Trump era. The era calls for abnormal insight from national leaders, a bit like that required from Lincoln (see below). We don't see that level of insight anywhere in this field.

How poorly do we function as a people at this point in time? On the most simplistic level, consider this early exchange last night between two of the top three contenders:
STEPHANOPOULOS (9/12/19): Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Let us be clear, Joe, in the United States of America, we are spending twice as much per capita on health care as the Canadians or any other major country on earth.

BIDEN: This is America.

SANDERS: Yes, but Americans don't want to pay twice as much as other countries, and they guarantee health care to all people. Under my Medicare-for-all proposal, when you don't pay out-of-pocket and you don't pay premiums, maybe you've run into people who love their premiums. I haven't.
Sad. We say that for several reasons.

First, Sanders never remembers to say that we spend two to three times as much per person as compared to other countries whose health care outcomes are as good or better than ours.

He did remember to say that these other countries provide universal coverage. But he never says that those countries' outcomes are at least as good as ours.

This omission probably helps explain Biden's peculiar response. "This is America," the Democratic front-runner said, apparently suggesting that we're spending more because we do it bigger and better than anyone else in the world.

That's an amazingly clueless (apparent) response from the party's front-runner. But this peculiar response is made possible because Sanders always fails to say that other countries get outcomes as good as ours.

Does any of this actually matter? Almost certainly, no. That's because you can't leave a discussion this big to the vagaries of a ten-person "debate" during a White House campaign.

The nation's political, academic and journalistic "elites" have spent decades failing to discuss the remarkable fact which Sanders partially stated.

Why do we spend so much per person as compared to everyone else? Where does all that extra money go? Are we all, red and blue together, being systematically looted in the general area of health care?

Very few people have ever heard a discussion of any such questions. Most people have no idea that we're all being systematically looted in the provision of health care—and you can't expect people to clamor for change on the basis of a few shards of alleged information tossed out in the midst of a ten-person "debate" marked by a thousand-dollar cash give-away plan and a comically awful attack upon Biden's alleged failure of memory.

That exchange between Sanders and Biden ought to be a national embarrassment, but no one is going to view it as such. Reason:

We just aren't especially sharp—and we aren't sharp enough to notice!

Drum is right and wrong: We recommend Kevin Drum's post, "Things Are Pretty Good in America These Days."

We recommend the post because Drum is very right, but also because he's remarkably wrong.

Drum goes through a list of indicators which suggest that American life has been getting much better. "Just about every social indicator you can think of has been moving in a good direction for the past couple of decades," he says.

Drum does note a few exceptions. Along the way, he also explains why we the people tend to think things are getting worse when they're actually getting better.

So far, so basically good. But then we get to the very large problem with the post. This is the way he ends:
DRUM (9/12/19): Nickel summary: Things are generally pretty good in America! Not everything, but most things. We sure don’t act like it, though.

Am I missing anything important here?
Is he missing something important? In our view, yes, he is.

Donald J. Trump is in the White House! This is the leading indicator of a terrible, ongoing dislocation which, absent some type of leadership, won't be going away.

As he departed Springfield, President-elect Lincoln said this:

"I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington."

Mind-boggling death and destruction followed, a fact which Lincoln assessed in the deepest possible way in his Second Inaugural Address.

Our current situation won't likely be going away, and our human skills are extremely limited. This strikes us as a terrible problem, and it may not be going away.

FATUOUS, INFANTILE, FAUX: Eisenhower stopped in Scotland!

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2019

Elvis stopped there too:
How dumb is our nation's public discourse? How phony, how fake are its sachems?

How pitiful are the Fauntleroys who hand us our novelized news? Once again, let's recall what we rubes were told by Brian last Friday night.

Brian's guest was Rick Wilson, a somewhat smutty, sometimes misogynist Republican strategist.

During this age of Trump, our liberal tribe is so desperate for reassurance that we're even willing to be handed our facts by him! Last Friday night, he joined Brian in telling us how crazy it is to think that the U.S. military would be using that airport in Scotland as an overnight stop-over site.

The little lords went on and on about the obvious corruption involved in those crazy stop-overs at the Glasgow Prestwick Airport, and also in those overnight stays at Commander Trump's Scottish resort.

The sunshine patriotism was blinding. In fairness, Brian's hair was perfect:
WILSON (9/6/19): Look, it's been a minute since I was in the DOD, but I can tell you, it's part of regulations in the DOD that air crews are not to stay overnight at civilian facilities unless it is mission-essential.

They're supposed to go from military to military facilities,
and I'm pretty much sure that staying at a Trump golf resort is never mission-essential for a U.S. Air Force or Navy crew heading over to the Middle East to the active theater of combat in the Middle East.

This is some other element of the Trump grift. It is some element of the Trump scam. These are people who have obviously managed to corrupt folks down the chain and sent the signal that at the minimum to send a signal, that if you stay at Trump resorts maybe he'll like you more.

And I think it's an extraordinary moment where, you know, we're seeing it in real time, that they're forcing these airmen to land their C-17s off military airfields somewhere close to a Trump resort in order to stay there. It is an unbelievable level of corruption.

WILLIAMS: And Rick, you do remind me, we have a network of air bases with names like Aviano

WILSON: We do indeed.

WILLIAMS: —the air bases we have maintained, along with the Brits, and the French, and the Germans, for exactly this type of thing.

WILSON: Indeed. And I think—I don't know the exact number right now. I think it's five in Britain that would handle the C-17 right off the top of my head. So somehow I'm thinking that landing at a Trump golf resort is not like landing at Hertfordshire, for instance, or Bentwaters, or wherever we got still bases operating in the U.K. It's very much a symbol of a corrupt and corrupting administration.

WILLIAMS: I'll see your hurt for (INAUDIBLE) and raise you in Mildenhall, which I think is still up and running.

WILSON: You will indeed.
The boys were upset, even hurt. It was crazy to think that airmen were being forced to land at that Scottish airfield just so they could stay overnight at the Trump resort.

Airmen were supposed to land at U.S. bases—"the air bases we have maintained for exactly this type of thing!" And not only that:

"It's part of regulations in the DOD that air crews are not to stay overnight at civilian facilities unless it is mission-essential!"

The Fauntleroys went on and on, reciting the latest novel. Two hours earlier, Rachel had devoted a large amount of Friday night's show to this same new tale.

Rachel continued reciting this tale on her Monday night program although, it must be said, she seemed to make a major effort to keep her statements "technically accurate" this night. Two hours later, Brian almost started to back away from the various misstatements he'd made, though he apparently chose to play it dumb, as we noted in this award-winning post the next day.

At any rate, Rachel and Brian had let us know that U.S. airmen are supposed to stop for refueling at "the air bases we have maintained for exactly this type of thing!"

They had also let us know how crazy it is that airmen would be lodged overnight in a private hotel, not on a U.S. base.

Rachel kept using the word "now," letting us know that the Scottish stopovers were very new, part of the latest Trump scam. Unfortunately, a front-page report in today's New York Times says these assertions were faux.

How faux was the story the children were telling? Go ahead—you're allowed to laugh, though only in mordant fashion:
KIRKPATRICK AND LIPTON (9/13/19): Mr. Trump’s defenders note that American military jets have been stopping in the region since long before Mr. Trump’s election. A decision by the Pentagon to have its flights stop more frequently at the local airport was made under the Obama administration.

[...]

The United States military has been using Prestwick as a stopover since at least World War II, in part because of the extremely long runway the airport offers, and its reputation for being largely free of fog.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower sometimes landed there, and after the war Scotland gave him permanent use of an apartment in a medieval castle not far from Turnberry that he frequently visited. In March 1960, Elvis Presley, then wrapping up his military service, stopped at the airport for a few hours and was mobbed by his fans.
Are the stop-overs at that silly airport a new arrangement designed to funnel money to Commander Trump? It seems that they are not!

According to today's report, even Elvis stopped there once—before he'd married Priscilla! Eisenhower sometimes landed there too, and that was before he was president!

We invite you to search for any sign that Brian and his smutty guest had even the slightest idea what they were talking about on last Friday's program. As for Rachel's two nights of narrative enhancement, surely no one expects better from her at this point.

None of this means that Commander Trump isn't a consummate con man. It simply means that Brian's a con man too. He has been for a good long time, going back to the days when he comically swooned over Candidate Bush while trashing Candidate Gore's three-button suits which, he weirdly kept insisting, the hopeful was wearing in a slick attempt to attract female voters.

Brian has been semi-goofy for a good long while. That said, his hair back then was even more perfect and, a bit like Private Presley, he seems to know how to follow orders.

A great deal of history moves through this morning's report. The lead reporter, David Kirkpatrick, is the fellow who explained what actually happened at Benghazi in this lengthy, widely-ignored New York Times report.

By that time, Rachel had spent the entire fall of 2012 refusing to defend Susan Rice and letting the Benghazi narratives grow.

Four years later, she took a dive on Comey too. That November, the Benghazi and Comey narratives helped put Trump where he is.

A lot of silly excitement was peddled last Friday night. In the case of Our Own Rhodes Scholar, she continued to peddle the silly excitement on her show Monday night.

On Tuesday morning, a front-page report in the New York Times seemed to say that Friday night's claims had been faux. Neither Brian nor Rachel has told you that, nor will they do so tonight.

How infantile, how fake and faux is our national discourse? This episode is so comically faux that it could even provide a "teachable moment."

No such thing will occur, of course. Top anthropologists sadly report that our species ain't wired for that.

Last night's debate was another example of how broken our discourse is. It provided another example of how over-matched Democratic sachems are by the madness of the Trump era.

Future anthropologists, huddled in caves, despondently claim that there's no way out of this mess. That said, this latest example is just so comical that yes, you're permitted to laugh.

A bit more apparent information: Last Sunday, the New York Times published a column by "a philosopher." Next week, we'll fold that depressing episode into a week of reports.

For today, a bit more apparent information about last Friday's faux news:
KIRKPATRICK AND LIPTON: The military says the vast majority of American military personnel who have passed through since 2016 have stayed at other area hotels, not Mr. Trump’s. On Thursday, the Air Force said in a statement that it had found 659 instances when its flight crews stayed overnight in the area in the past four years. Of those stays, the Air Force estimated that 6 percent, or about 40—far more than had previously been identified publicly—went to Mr. Trump’s property. Trump Turnberry was closed for renovations from 2015 until mid-2016.

Those who did stay there paid a discounted rate of as little as $130 a night, compared to a typical price of about $380 a night.

[...]

Michael Matheson, the Scottish transport minister, told the Scottish Parliament this week that the Turnberry is one of 13 hotels the airport uses and that “Turnberry is generally booked only if other hotels are unavailable or if customers specifically request it.”
We can't tell you how many of those claims are accurate. That said, the reference to "the past four years" underscores the fact that these stop-overs at the Scottish airport don't seem to be new.

General Eisenhower sometimes stopped there; Elvis stopped there too. Compare those apparent facts to the smutty guest's tale! And yes, you're permitted to laugh!

On Friday and Monday, we rubes were handed a pleasing new story. The idea that these Scottish stop-overs are a new, outrageous scam is already a basic part of cable news tribal lore.

Our tribe was flown to Bogusville on some of our favorite programs. Of one thing you can feel certain:

Brian and Rachel won't go on the air to help us get clear on our facts.