The world’s dumbest person is helping Mitt Romney!

THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012

The rage of the world’s dumbest man: Will Barack Obama win re-election?

We become more doubtful by the day. But then, we watch MSNBC, which seems to be trying extra hard to help elect Mitt Romney.

Last evening, The Dumbest Person on Earth was worried about Romney’s rising approvals among women voters. He spoke with Judith Grey of the Daily Beast about what she called the “emotionally manipulative messaging strategy” some Republican ads are taking.

For Grey’s recent piece on this topic, click here. Last night, in closing her chat with O’Donnell, Grey offered this:
GREY (5/30/12): I don’t think [Romney has] closed the deal. But if you think about the negative press he’s been getting lately, that bullying story that came out just a couple weeks ago, I thought it would have had a lot—you know, the repercussions would have been a lot worse. So, I’m sort of thinking, even in light of all the negative press that’s been coming out, the numbers are rising. And I found that curious and I thought, “Maybe this is really the way to go for the Republicans.”

O’DONNELL: Yes, we have seen the favorability movement in the Washington Post poll in Mitt Romney’s direction.
Classic! Grey thought the new ads might be helping Romney in spite of all the negative press about that bullying story. It didn’t seem to have entered her head that stories like that might help Romney.

Was Romney helped by the bullying story? We have no idea. But over the past fifty years, we liberals have alternated between two basic approaches:

Sometimes, we sleep in the woods. At these times, we aren’t heard from for years.

At other times, we awake with a fury—and we start adopting approaches which help the other side. That is what we thought we saw when we watched The Dumbest Person on Earth conducting his show Tuesday night.

O’Donnell was back from a week in Tinseltown with an exciting new hook: Candidate Romney wasn’t like Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney when he was in high school! And no, we aren’t making that up.

On this particular evening, O’Donnell was angry because Romney had voiced a familiar slogan: “Education is the civil rights issue of our era.”

In response, O’Donnell launched one of his patented low-IQ furies. It’s hard to believe that anyone could be so disrespectful of our history and our martyrs—or so ginormously dumb.

This is the way he began. To watch the full segment, click here:
O’DONNELL (5/29/12): "This is the civil rights issue of our era."

Well, it could be. You could try to make that case, if you were born in, say, 1990 or after that and you’re maybe 21 years old now. Or if you were born yesterday, like Mitt Romney thinks you were.

But Mitt Romney was born in 1947. The civil rights issue of Mitt Romney’s era was civil rights.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to town when Mitt Romney was 16 years old; 125,000 people marched with Dr. King that day in Detroit. Mitt Romney wasn’t one of them. There were hundreds and hundreds of 16-year-olds marching with Dr. King in that crowd of 125,000.

Mitt Romney had a chance to march with Dr. King when he was 16 years old. He had a chance to march with history. And he didn’t do it. The last time he was running for president, he lied and said that his father did do it, did march with Martin Luther King, but his father didn’t do it either.

The civil rights issue of Mitt Romney’s era was civil rights.

Just after Romney finished his junior year of high school, the civil rights martyrs James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered trying to help people get the right to vote in Mississippi. That was when hundreds of college students just a few years older than Mitt Romney were pouring into the south during the Civil Rights Movement.

A month after James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner gave their lives for it, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law because the civil rights issue of Mitt Romney’s era was civil rights. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law two months after Mitt Romney graduated from high school.

Did Mitt Romney attend any of the civil rights demonstrations in Detroit during his high school years? No, not one.

Did other American high school kids, both rich and poor, white and black, throughout this country attend civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s, in Detroit and elsewhere? Yes, by the thousands. That’s because they knew that the civil rights issue of Mitt Romney’s era was civil rights.
Those highlighted passages are so dumb and disrespectful that they make you wonder what was in the water at O’Donnell’s own prep school, whose rival is Belmont Hill.

First, a few minor points:

There is no evidence that Romney “lied” about his father and Dr. King. As it turned out, Governor Romney didn’t take part in the march in Detroit which Dr. King attended. But he designated the occasion Freedom March Day in Michigan and he helped lead a related march six days later.

Did Mitt Romney ever attend a civil rights demonstration? We have no idea.

Now, for the ginormous dumbness:

Cheney, Goodman and Schwerner are American martyrs. It’s obscene to use their names and faces as O’Donnell did this night, to criticize someone because he didn’t get killed in Mississippi, the way they did, when he had just completed his junior year in high school.

Aside from the mammoth disrespect, this is monumentally stupid. We graduated from high school in 1965 too. Here’s a clue: Very few people went to Mississippi during the 1964 Freedom Summer—and none of them were in high school. And by the way—Lawrence O’Donnell never did that or anything dimly like it. This is vintage O’Donnell pap, in which he takes three martyrs and uses their names and faces to thrill his viewers with one of his dumb, obscene rants.

How monumentally self-involved is The World’s Dumbest Known Human? After misusing Cheney, Goodman and Schwerner this way, O’Donnell began to muse about his own glory days. Again, we aren’t making this up:
O’DONNELL (continuing directly): High school is not an excuse for not taking a position, for not participating in the great issues of your time. In my one and only run for elective office, president of my high school, my number-one issue was the Vietnam War. I wanted our school to follow the example of colleges around the country and go on strike against the war, a one-day strike, a little demonstration. I came in a close second to Joe Duffy, a legendary athlete at my high school, who was and is an all-around great guy, and needless to say ran a much more disciplined campaign.
If you saw that in The Onion, you’d assume they were making it up. In this case, no such luck! O’Donnell went on to let us know that he attended “anti-war demonstration[s] Boston and Washington when I was in high school.” Somehow, this is supposed to have relevance for something that’s happening now.

Two points:

First, note the instinctive refusal to talk about low-income kids and schools. Like a bad outtake from About Schmidt, O’Donnell raises money for kids in African schools, though only during Christmas. But he instinctively changes the subject when American kids get discussed. Corporate "liberals" are like that.

(Raising money for African kids is a good thing, of course. Except when it's used as a substitute for talk about American kids.)

Second, the troubling political point: Is anyone but O’Donnell so dumb that they can’t see the way this sort of thing might work with unaligned voters?

First, we liberals attack Romney for an incident when he was a senior in high school. Now, O’Donnell attacks him because he didn’t manage to get himself killed after his junior year.

Just a warning from the real world: Many people will watch this sort of think and they’ll start feeling sorry for Romney. They didn’t get killed in Mississippi; neither did anyone else in their family. It will start to enter their heads that some very ratty (Hollywood) people are making some very unfair attacks.

This is an obvious possibility when we push such stupid attacks. Regarding the earlier bullying story, this possibility doesn’t seem to have entered Grey’s head.

Last night, O’Donnell was troubled by Romney’s approvals. It didn’t seem to enter his head that he might be helping Mitt rise.

Like Dowd, an instinctive bigot: On April 11, O’Donnell had to make a formal apology for having trashed Romney’s religion. The big dumb nut just can’t help it.

Tomorrow, we’ll link you to his most ridiculous performance during Campaign 04. Needless to say, he was under-prepared—and highly overwrought.

Did he help Bush with that performance—a performance which got him kicked off the air? In that case too, we have no idea.

But the thought did enter our heads. If you care about political outcomes, you're supposed to think about that.

GAIL COLLINS CARES: But not very much!

THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012

Part 3—327 words: Just an impression:

For many people, it’s hard to see how dumb and uncaring our discourse really is.

Beyond that, it’s hard to see how deeply uncaring our modern elites really are. This includes our journalistic elite—and our pseudo-liberal elite.

How uncaring are these elites? For one example, consider that key paragraph in Gail Collins’ recent column about the public schools:
COLLINS (5/26/12): If there’s an education crisis, it’s one of at least 50 years duration. By the best national assessment we have available, it appears that the math skills of American fourth- and eighth-graders have been going up slowly but steadily for decades. Reading scores are also a tad better, although pretty flat. We need to do much better, and the fight over what to do next is mainly between people who think the big problem is a lack of resources and those who think it’s all about accountability and standards and tests. Romney is definitely way over in camp two.
In her overall column, Collins was pretending to discuss Mitt Romney’s education proposals. But at that start of that key paragraph, she pretended to discuss the state of the public schools over the past fifty years.

In part, Collins’ assessment was right. In last Wednesday’s speech, Candidate Romney dumbly said that President Obama has failed to solve our “education crisis.” But to all appearances, if we actually have such a crisis, we have been involved in that crisis for at least the past fifty years.

It’s somewhat like what Collins said: “By the best national assessment we have available, it appears that the math skills of American fourth- and eighth-graders have been going up slowly but steadily for decades. Reading scores are also a tad better.”

In that passage, Collins was plainly referring to the NAEP, the federally-administered testing program which is universally praised as the gold standard of educational testing. She tossed off a fleeting assessment of what the NAEP data seem to show.

She then moved on to the thing she loves most—additional snark about Romney.

But wait a minute! Piddle and bullshit and snark to the side, is it actually true? Have math skills been “going up steadily for decades?” Perhaps for fifty years? And if that’s true, isn’t it possible that skills have gone up a great deal during that period?

As we noted yesterday, a great many of Collins’ readers completely failed to ingest that passage, which Collins herself hurried past. In comments, they wrote hackneyed accounts about the way our schools have just kept getting worse. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/30/12.)

In those comments, we get to gaze at the low IQ of the emerging liberal world. But while you’re at it, do something else: Be sure to note the uncaring world of our modern press elite.

We’ve said it here for years, though we might as well talk to the man in the moon: Everyone vouches for the NAEP, but no one discusses its data! In fact, it appears that math skills have gone up a huge amount on the NAEP. It appears that reading skills have gone up a good deal too, though not as much as math.

In our view, Collins substantially understates what the NAEP data seem to show. But plainly, a boring matter like that is not her real concern. Her real mission involves jokes and snark and that poor abused dog, about whom she has been inventing facts for five years.

We’re sorry, but the truth is plain, though your lizard brain won’t let you see it: The high lady Collins cares about dogs. But not about low-income kids!

In fairness to Collins, the New York Times has never explored those NAEP scores in its reporting. Neither has the Washington Post; Darlings, such things just aren’t done! Meanwhile, have you ever a seen a “liberal journal” or a “liberal news channel” attempt to report what those test scores show?

No, you haven’t ever seen that—and it seems you never will!

Everyone vouches for the NAEP—but in the pseudo-liberal world, no one ever dirties his hands explaining its data! Have you ever seen Lawrence O’Donnell stoop to this task? Instead, O’Donnell buys the good feeling of pseudo-liberals by raising funds to buy desks for African kids. In response, we weep and praise his greatness and show what fools we be.

What fools—and how uncaring.

Plainly, Collins cares about dogs. But she doesn’t care about low-income kids. We were struck by that fact when she finally pretended to explain Romney’s proposals.

Needless to say, her “explanations” were brief. By the time she finished her Opening Apology, her jokes and her snark, we would say that she devoted 327 words, tops, to the Romney proposals. (We’re omitting the paragraph where she misleads her reader about the way Romney kept saying “bold.”) Basically, here’s what she said:
COLLINS: But about school reform. Three big ideas: First, Romney is going to make the states provide “ample school choice.” Unless we’re talking, mushily, about vouchers, this one sounded exactly like the Bush law that allows parents whose children are in failing schools to move them elsewhere. It hasn’t really worked well. It turns out the parents wanted their local school to be better, not to ship their children out of the neighborhood. The magic of the marketplace works great for iPods, but not apparently for fourth graders.

Second, Romney wants the schools to have “report cards” on student performance so parents can make good decisions about choice. The only problems with this plan are: A) The parents don’t want that kind of choice; and B) the schools already have report cards.

Finally, he vowed to encourage teacher evaluation and accountability. This is something the Obama administration has been doing through its Race to the Top initiatives, much to the dismay of some teachers’ unions.

Romney then concluded with a long attack on Obama for being in the pocket of teachers’ unions.

Happy Memorial Day.
For ourselves, we weren’t exactly blown away by Romney’s proposals. Beyond that, we think Romney is a horrible candidate—the worst we’ve ever seen nominated.

But we thought that passage was deeply uncaring—quite typically unfeeling and cruel.

Collins, of course, rushes through her remarks about the Romney proposals. Regarding the matter of “ample school choice,” did Romney’s proposal really “sound exactly like the Bush law that allows parents whose children are in failing schools to move them elsewhere?” On the op-ed page of yesterday’s New York Times, someone who actually read the proposal expressed a quite different view. He noted that the proposal would, for the first time, allow urban kids to attend schools outside their own school district—schools out in the suburbs.

(To see liberal icon Richard Kahlenberg praise this writer’s book on this general topic, go ahead—just click here.)

Urban kids could go to suburban schools! This may not seem like much to Collins. But then, she cares about dogs.

In our view, it’s easy for a person like Collins to sneer at this provision, blithely saying that parents don’t want “to ship their children out of the neighborhood.” But some urban parents would leap at that chance—and for some kids, it could be a godsend.

Transparently, Collins doesn’t care about such parents or kids. It simply doesn’t enter her head to imagine these actual children. She’s too busy weeping, and making up facts, about Mitt Romney’s dog.

We had a similar reaction to what Collins said about school report cards. No, this isn’t a huge proposal. But in all honesty, Romney didn’t say that he “wants the schools to have ‘report cards’ on student performance so parents can make good decisions about choice.” Here’s what he actually said in his speech—not that an uncaring slacker like Collin would be likely to notice the difference:
ROMNEY (5/23/12): Parental choice will hold schools responsible for results, but parents can only exercise that choice effectively if they have good information. No Child Left Behind helped our nation take a giant step forward in bridging this information gap. But the law is not without its weaknesses. As president, I will break the political logjam that has prevented successful reform of the law. I will reduce federal micromanagement while redoubling efforts to ensure that schools are held responsible for results.

For example, parents shouldn't have to navigate a cryptic evaluation system to figure out how their kids' schools are performing. States must provide a simple-to-read and widely available public report card that evaluates each school. These report cards will provide accurate and easy-to-understand information about student and school performance. States will continue to design their own standards and tests, but the report cards will provide information that parents can use to make informed choices.
For decades, Collins has pretended to do journalism in New York, a state which publishes school report cards which are extremely "cryptic." We'll guess she doesn't know this. For ourselves, we have often gnashed our teeth over those New York State report cards. Since some other states publish report cards which are quite clear, we’ve often wondered if New York’s cards were deliberately crafted to be hard for parents to follow.

Collins has never had that experience. As her past work plainly suggests, she has possibly never tried to use those report cards. She just flat-out doesn’t care.

For our money, Romney’s proposals are quite underwhelming—but Collins’ column was massively worse. We don’t know when we’ve seen a person who seemed to care so little about low-income kids, or about anything else you can name.

But people! So what?

In the comments to her column, “liberal” readers thanked her, as always, for the wonderful jokes about Mitt Romney’s dog. And they showed how little they know, or actually care, about low-income students or schools.

Tomorrow: MSNBC fakes it on class size

Is Lawrence O’Donnell the world's dumbest person?


Think hard before you respond: Donald Trump is one of this country’s absolute biggest buffoons. His continued pimping of Obama’s birth certificate is a master example of The Big Stupid which now defines our failing political culture.

That said, The Big Stupid took shape, then took hold, a long time ago. (Bill Clinton murdered a whole lot of people!) For that reason, we were struck by the spectacle on last night’s Hardball, as Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman lamented the way this nonsense infests our elections.

Sorry. Starting in 1999, Matthews and Fineman helped invent the culture of The Big Stupid. In those days, Matthews was in service to his corporate owner, Jack Welch, who went on to make this loud shameless person a multimillionaire.

Today, Trump's a star player within The Big Stupid. But in all honesty, his current pose isn’t any dumber than the pose adopted by Matthews for twenty straight months during Campaign 2000, with Fineman cast as his sidekick.

The stupidity of our political culture was largely invented during the 1990s. Matthews and Fineman were among its key architects. And, to a lesser extent, so was Lawrence O’Donnell.

Good old Lawrence! He slandered Candidate Gore right to the end—and he did this on The McLaughlin Group, a program widely viewed in Florida.

In October 2000, it was hard to be dumber and live. But last night, O'Donnell topped even himself, staging one of the stupidest segments we’ve ever seen on cable.

Can we talk? If you aren’t embarrassed by MSNBC, then you’re a large part of our problem.

We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to review O’Donnell's segment. But to watch an extremely dumb person at work, go ahead—just click here.

Mitt Romney is a horrible candidate. Is it possible Romney could win? We'll only say this: If anyone can get Romney elected, it may be Lawrence O’Donnell!

Is Lawrence O’Donnell the world's dumbest human? Think hard before you respond.

GAIL COLLINS CARES: But not about kids!


Part 2—Explaining the state of the crisis: Is the United States confronting an “education crisis?”

Crisis is in the eye of the beholder; there is no objective way to determine if a “crisis” exists. But when Gail Collins wrote Saturday’s column about Mitt Romney’s education proposals, quite a few readers seemed pretty sure that we’re in a bad downward spiral.

The column generated 389 comments. Fairly early in the chain, a man in Seattle described the way things have gone wrong since the good old days—since the time when he and his elevated type were gracing the public schools:
COMMENTER FROM SEATTLE: I often ponder the education crisis and wonder what happened. I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood and went K-12 to public schools in western NY, graduating in the 1950s. I continue to believe that I received an outstanding education. It formed the foundation that allowed me to earn four university degrees in physics and engineering including two masters from MIT. A large percentage of my high school classmates had similar or far greater success.

The two major factors that stand out in mind are that (1) we read books and (2) our parents took education seriously. I also had the personal incentive to show that I was as good as the kids that lived in palatial homes and whose parents had college degrees, and students that got good grades were respected at my school.
We were so much smarter and better! Similar comments litter the thread as Collins’ highly self-impressed readers describe their own brilliant ways.

Two examples:

A reader in Hawaii lamented the sorry decline in West Virginia’s public schools. And a gloomy Gus in the Sunshine State discussed “the dumbing-down” of the whole country, which he called “amerikuh:”
COMMENTER IN HAWAII: I had a similar experience in public schools in West Virginia in the sixties: A stellar education that enabled me to attend an Ivy and sit slack-jawed at how under-educated (and uninterested, a la W) many of the legacy admissions were. My sister, a tea partier, to this day touts the "fiscal responsibility" of West Virginia state government that has kept it in the black. Meanwhile, the state now ranks dead last in the nation in % of college graduates and 47th (behind the predictable Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi) in high school graduates. If I were living in the state (thankfully, I am not), and I had kids, I'd probably begrudgingly have to send them to private schools. And this is tragic, because the chief bonding experience across social classes and backgrounds is now gone forever.

COMMENTER FROM FLORIDA: I'm with you all the way, even on specific years of public school attendance and graduation (and only public schools, even through grad school). I went on to teach chemistry at a public university. I recall toward the end of the '70s a very real pressure (from administrators) that had the effect of lowering grading standards in the university. I then went on to teach at a couple of top-notch private secondary schools and found the trend continuing right on through to my retiring from teaching in 2007. The sources of the pressure had become more widespread, including parents, students themselves, as well as administrators. Ah, the dumbing-down of amerikuh.
Others lamented about the varied shortcomings of These Kids Today. “The problem isn't that our children are not as science or tech savvy as possible,” one reader explained, “but that they often can't read, write decently or understand complex ideas.” Also this, from New York: “Too many of today's graduates have been taught a lot of things but can't make change in their heads...or have a clue about basic civics—the kind that makes for informed voters.” Meanwhile, an informed voter from Montana recalled the 1983 report, A Nation at Risk—and a Floridian affirmed his gloomy assessment about our failure to react to its warnings:
COMMENTER IN MONTANA: The truth is that we do know what to do to provide a quality education for our children. But somehow the people who don't carry the day with their shallow, ideological-bound perspectives and unwillingness to actually fund education at a proper level. There have been at least a dozen good studies done on how to provide an excellent education for our children since A Nation at Risk but do the decision makers know anything about any of them? It seems not! Fortunately we have pretty good schools where I live but in many states it doesn't look good.

COMMENTER IN FLORIDA: Glad to see a reference to "Risk." I was teaching at the time, and thought it might make a difference. Oh, well.
“Maybe those unenlightened educators of 50 or 60 years ago were onto something,” said a commenter from Virginia, as he praised his own admittedly brilliant education “way back in the 1950s.” Meanwhile, several readers were prepared to name the political figures behind our decline:
COMMENTER FROM OHIO: The only people supporting Romney are the very wealthy and those who are just dissatisfied with the way the country is going. They don't realize that it is really the Bush legacy and the tea party stonewalling that has caused our lack of progress. I'm surprised he even attempted to come out with an education platform because he apparently doesn't have one.

COMMENTER FROM QUEENS: If we have to repeal a law why not repeal No Child Left Behind?? All this emphasis on test, test, test isn't working. Why don't we go back to what once worked—the three tier diploma system—Academic, Commercial and General diplomas.
“It's time to go back to the basics again,” the fellow in Queens brightly said.

A few of Collins’ commenters challenged the notion that the schools are in decline, but the gloomier sentiments strongly prevailed. This fact was somewhat strange—especially given these commenters’ tendency to praise their own reading skills.

What made it strange to see these readers wailing about our schools’ decline? Just this: Collins seemed to say, right in her column, that the public schools are not in decline! Even as they praised their own reading skills, Collins’ readers showed no sign of having read this admittedly brief passage, which Collins somehow managed to wedge among all the jokes and the snark:
COLLINS (5/26/12): If there’s an education crisis, it’s one of at least 50 years duration. By the best national assessment we have available, it appears that the math skills of American fourth- and eighth-graders have been going up slowly but steadily for decades. Reading scores are also a tad better, although pretty flat. We need to do much better, and the fight over what to do next is mainly between people who think the big problem is a lack of resources and those who think it’s all about accountability and standards and tests. Romney is definitely way over in camp two.
Say what? Math skills of our fourth- and eighth-graders “have been going up steadily for decades?” Mightn’t that mean that our students’ math skills have risen a good deal over that period?

One lone commenter, out of 389, noted this surprising passage, correctly saying that this seemed be “a ginormously important fact you've sprinkled into this essay.” (To read his full comment, click here.) But Collins’ readers, by and large, completely ignored this part of her column. But no other reader commented on that passage—and his comment rated only 12 recommendations from other readers.

By way of contrast, snarky comments about the way Romney sucks often churned well over 100 recommendations. “Mitt-speak is starting to sound a lot like Palin-speak” racked up 535.

In this way, we get a glimpse of the tribal cluelessness of the emerging liberal world—and we get an unfortunate glimpse of the laziness of Gail Collins. Plainly, Collins refers in that passage to the federally-run National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the universally-praised “gold standard of educational testing.” It’s also clear that Collins explicitly vouches for the NAEP as a valid educational measure. But her account of what the NAEP data show is tossed off in a “Connecticut suburbs minute”—and her account isn’t especially accurate to boot.

In fact, math skills have risen vastly in the past few decades, if we apply a rough rule of thumb which is commonly applied to scores on the NAEP. Education writers routinely apply this rule of thumb—but only to produce gloomy claims about the achievement gap.

Collins could have told her readers that the rise in math skills seems quite large on this testing program, for which she vouches. But for whatever reason, she didn’t do that, and they persisted with comments straight outta their own ill-informed, self-impressed haze.

Gaze on the liberal project! Had Collins spent a bit less time talking about Mitt Romney’s dog and misleading her readers about his word choices; had she skipped the apology for the boredom involved in discussing the schools at all; had she told a few less jokes and engaged in a bit less snark, Collins might have found time to tell her readers a few of the many things they don’t know.

But Collins is hopelessly lazy—a consummate slacker. In her columns, she provides reliable tribal blow-jobs, for which her readers persistently thank her. These same readers are often eager to tell us how stupid and uninformed the other tribe is, even as they display their own manifest cluelessness.

There is a great deal of truth to that view about modern conservative voters, of course. In the past few decades, the conservative leadership has produced mountains of disinformation—and a great many people have purchased the con. But when our own tribe finally emerged from its nap in the woods, we were pretty much as dumb as the other folks are—and people like Collins, snarking and joking, are keeping us in that sad state.

At this site, we have endlessly described the apparent meaning of the NAEP scores of the past few decades. In our view, Collins’ account of these score gains seems to understate the apparent amount of progress. Having said that, we would like to see education writers—and even our “educational experts”—explore those data further. We would like to see experts from the NAEP itself explain what the score gains mean.

But alas! You live in a world where established elites simply don’t care about low-income kids. Your elites don't care what those score gains mean; they plainly don't care about low-income kids. Their every move makes this disinterest plain. Collins makes her disinterest plain with every snarky breath.

Plainly, Collins does care about dogs. But does she care about low-income kids? Tomorrow, we’ll briefly consider those NAEP scores again—and we’ll proceed to what Collins said, in the few words she typed, about Mitt Romney’s proposals.

A slacker pretends to do Mitt

Memorial Day: Anderson Cooper gets it right!

TUESDAY, MAY 29, 2012

Children describe fallen dads: We aren’t big fans of Anderson Cooper. For one thing, he sometimes airs Tom Foreman.

But Cooper showed up for work last night—and he aired the loveliest Memorial Day segment we’ve ever seen. This was his introduction:
COOPER (5/28/12): In Washington this Memorial Day, family members of fallen service members gathered by for a seminar organized by TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. It includes a camp for kids who had a parent killed in the line duty.

Here are some of their stories.
With that, Cooper played tape of about a dozen kids remembering their fallen dads. Their ages ranged from 7 to maybe 17. This is the way it began:
MCKENZIE STODDARD, DAUGHTER OF ARMY STAFF SGT. JAMES STODDARD: My dad died when I was 13 months in 2005. It really makes me sad when I think of him. We have lots of things of him like pillows and blankets. We even have a poster of him in our room. He is always in my heart.

CALEB ELLEDGE, SON OF ARMY STAFF SGT. MICHAEL ELLEDGE: He would lead me to the biggest wave he could find and then he'd let me boogie board down that.

CASSIDY ELLEDGE (laughing): When he played the guitar, he was really bad, so we all had to run up into our rooms and had to shut the door.

MYA WILLIAMS: We would always—we would go around the zoo and I would be on his shoulders.

MEGAN STODDARD, DAUGHTER OF ARMY STAFF SGT. JAMES STODDARD: He liked to joke around. He was really funny.

JAY STODDARD: The awesomest guy I ever met.

CALEB ELLEDGE: Back in the army he held his own religious service with a lot of other soldiers where he was the pastor. He would preach to all the soldiers and tell them that they're in good hands with God.

C. L. FRY, FATHER KILLED IN IRAQ: He was a Marine, and he was really nice.
We’re very glad we saw this segment. To watch the full segment, just click here. For liberals, we would offer this framework:

In terms of their cultural orientation, these children seem to come from different types of homes. Many other children share their situation, of course.

When we teach ourselves to hate tea-baggers, we’re almost surely training ourselves to hate some of these children’s families. Is there a way to promote progressive values without training ourselves to do that?

CNN: The dumbness of the whale!

TUESDAY, MAY 29, 2012

Tom Foreman’s idea of “the facts:” If it weren’t for Digby’s post, we would have missed a remarkable document. We wouldn’t have seen Tom Foreman’s open letter to Obama.

Tom Foreman is a major, prime-time CNN correspondent—has been for years. As he penned his open letter, he showed us how simple-minded a person can be while holding such a high post:
FOREMAN (5/21/12): Dear Mr. President,

I think there is nothing that terrifies you political types so much as someone just blurting out the truth. Seriously, in this town that prizes “staying on message,” and “talking points,” it is hilarious to watch how upset everyone gets when someone unexpectedly lays out the facts.

Such is the case with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who created a gasoline fire on the D.C. barbeque this weekend just because he told the truth. To recap: He took issue with your attacks on Mitt Romney over his actions while he was at Bain Capital, and he suggested Republicans are just as wrong to go after your distant past.

“This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides...enough is enough,” the mayor said. He followed it up with some other comments along the lines of saying our elections ought to be about who can lead, who has the best ideas, etc....not about cheap character assassination.

So what precisely is wrong with that?
Ignore the peculiar rudeness of Foreman’s address, in which he dismisses Obama as one of “you political types.” Put aside your own opinion of Booker’s remarks. (We thought his remarks were astounding.)

Put aside your own opinion of Booker’s remarks. Instead, focus on this astonishing fact: Foreman, a major TV newsman, seems to think that Booker’s remarks can be described as “the facts!” When Booker said that the Obama campaign’s remarks about Bain are “nauseating to me,” he was simply “blurting out the truth!” He was “laying out the facts!”

Truly, that is astounding. Whatever you think of Booker’s remarks, he was stating his opinion. To anyone over six years of age, he wasn’t stating a “fact.”

Many major pundits fell into line; they said they agreed with Booker's remarks. But who could possibly take the line that Booker was stating “the facts?”

Ahab gaped at the whiteness of the whale; we’re often amazed by the dumbness of cable. But you have to be really dumb to write what Foreman did.

Did we mention the fact that Foreman is one of CNN’s leading correspondents? On CNN, the dumbness of the whale is frequently blinding and vast.

Our view of Booker's nauseation: We think there is a great deal to critique concerning Romney's conduct at Bain Capital. We also think it's OK to discuss Reverend Wright, depending on what you might say.

GAIL COLLINS CARES: And wastes time! And dissembles!

TUESDAY, MAY 29, 2012

Part 1—The wages of sloth: Quite plainly, Gail Collins cares about dogs. And the New York Times acres about horses! (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/28/12.)

But does Gail Collins care about low-income kids? Consider the column she wrote last weekend about Mitt Romney’s “bold proposals” for the public schools.

Last Wednesday, Romney spoke to the Latino Coalition of the Chamber of Commerce about his proposals for public schools. Did he present a bold plan for the schools? We wouldn’t say that ourselves—but then, we aren’t the parent of a low-income kid whose situation might be improved by certain of his proposals.

For our money, Romney’s proposals are underwhelming. But when Gail Collins wrote a column about Romney’s plan, her work was substantially worse.

It’s hard for liberals to see who Collins is because she’s reliably tribal. She reliably takes the stand which is designed to make liberals feel good, as she did in her low-wattage piece about the Romney proposals.

In our view, Collins is about as lazy and uncaring as it gets. Consider some of the standards ways she clowned around in this column.

First, of course, she killed some time apologizing for the boredom to follow. This time-killing snark is a regular part of her columns:
COLLINS (5/26/12): Today, we’re going to talk about Mitt Romney’s education speech.

Whoa! Calm down. Of course, it’s exciting—policy, Mitt Romney, education, speeches. That’s why I brought it up at the start of a long weekend, so there would be plenty of pondering time.

This was Romney’s first foray into education since he became the presumptive nominee, but it had a quality of mushiness seldom seen outside of a six-week-old pumpkin. At one point, in a tribute to American entrepreneurs, Romney announced that “if every one of our small businesses added just two employees, Americans could pay more mortgages and buy more groceries and fill their gas tanks.”

Or, you know, if they each added one. Or if the guys in the third row each hired 46.

But about the schools...
There! Collins killed 126 words before she even pretended to talk about schools! As always, she apologized for the boredom to follow; this is an insult to her readers which her readers never quite get. And soon, Old Faithful exploded again! She cited Mitt Romney’s abused and dead dog, the one from the mid-1980s:
COLLINS: The Tea Party folk hatehatehate No Child Left Behind as a federal intrusion on states’ rights to screw up their schools in whatever way they see fit. Romney vaguely referred to it as not being “without some weaknesses,” then promised to end “that political logjam that has prevented successful reform of that law.” Are you with me so far? I kind of like the logjam. I am seeing Mitt, in lumberjack garb, in the middle of a river full of downed trees and the occasional committee chairman. Perhaps the Romney boys are along, singing family songs. Maybe the dog is strapped to a fallen sycamore.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! That paragraph turns on two important points: 1) The fact that Romney used the term “logjam” in his speech, and 2) the fact that Romney once drove to Canada with his dog “strapped to the roof of his car.”

“In a cage,” as it turns out!

Collins cites Romney’s allegedly abused dog in roughly half her columns. In comments, readers then praise the brilliant way she worked the dog into the column. In return for this blind devotion, Collins treats her readers like fools, as she did in this passage:
COLLINS: Mitt is going for “bold policy changes.” He said “bold” almost as many times as “education crisis,” even though the Romney verbiage was un-bold in the extreme. Did he want vouchers so kids could use public money for private school tuition? The one brief mention in the prepared text of “private school where permitted” vanished in Mitt-speak.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! But did Romney really say “bold” almost as many times as “education crisis?” Did he use these tiring phrases too much? Uh-oh! The word “bold” appeared in his speech only three times, though Collins knew enough not to use numbers. The term “education crisis” appeared only twice, though Romney did cite “the crisis in education” two more times beyond that.

If someone says the word “bold” three times, is that cause for comment? Only if you’re a tribal hack—a tribal hack who is killing more time in ways designed to please readers. And by the way, is that other claim true?

Is it true? Did “the one brief mention in the prepared text of ‘private school where permitted’ vanish” when Romney gave his speech? Yes, it did—but the proposal remains in Romney’s formal education plan. Though there is no sign that Collins bothered to read through this long, boring document, the way real analysts did.

Does Gail Collins care about low-income kids? Given 800 words to discuss a topic of towering concern, she clowned and dissembled in typical ways, making us liberals feel extra good about the other side's bad breath. But omigod! On this bright shining Saturday morning, the truly unthinkable happened!

Unheard of! One of her readers, a fellow from Boston, left a comment asking why Collins seemed to have so little to say! In a world where readers praise Collins for pap, this is a rare occurrence:
COMMENTER: Missing for me from this piece are any pragmatic suggestions for reform by the author other than a vague mention of throwing more money at the problem. You justifiably dump all over the empty suit for his disingenuous [claims] but then come up just as empty.

Gail, if you're going to write on a topic as ubiquitous as education to an audience as wide as you realize as a New York Times' correspondent, you might want to consider offering some solutions of your own, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. Our nation turns it lonely eyes to you, woo, woo, woo; woo, woo, woo, or to Fish, or Dowd, or Blow, or Friedman, or Bruni, or Brooks, etc.

If the politicians have no great ideas, surely someone at the New York Times should have something credible to offer.
Good God! With his use of the phrase “throwing more money at the problem,” the commenter may have self-identified as a conservative-leaner. (Although he seemed to agree with Collins’ dismissal of Romney.) But good God! Quite correctly, this commenter noticed the lack of substance, knowledge or real concern in Collins’ waste-of-time effort.

Plainly, Collins cares about dogs. But does she care about low-income kids? For our money, this was a very lazy column—a fact we can see when Collins pretends to explain the shape of our “education crisis.” Her explanation is lazy and soft, like everything else in this waste-of-time piece. Does Collins know what she’s talking about? We find little sign that she does—or that she cares about any of this, one way or another.

For our money, that reader from Boston was basically right. Collins pretends to be disturbed by Romney’s disingenuous ways—but she is quite disingenuous too. And uh-oh:

Occasional insights to the side, Collins’ uninsightful commenters show us the wages of this sloth—a sloth which does pervade the Times, much as that reader suggested.

Tomorrow—part 2: Lady Collins (and her readers) explain the shape of the crisis

GAIL COLLINS CARES: Does she care about kids?

MONDAY, MAY 28, 2012

Prologue—The New York Times cares about horses: Who does the New York Times care about? How about Gail Collins?

By their works ye shall know them! To all appearances, the New York Times doesn’t care a whole lot about those steel workers in Kansas City—the people whose pensions got “gutted” or “looted” when Mitt Romney was at Bain Capital. To date, this is the newspaper’s full account of that unfortunate matter:
CRESWELL (5/24/12): [I]n the case of GST Steel, a manufacturer based in Kansas City, Mo., that Bain bought in 1993, the company, according to a Reuters article this year, issued new debt that was used to pay tens of millions of dollars in dividends to its buyout owners. That sent GST's debt levels and interest payments soaring, which eventually pushed it into bankruptcy.

When the bankruptcy was announced, the company also said that it was shutting down a mill, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs, and that it would not provide workers with severance pay, health insurance and other benefits. The company's underfunded pension was eventually bailed out by the federal government.
To date, that is the newspaper’s full account of this “underfunding.” According to that five-month-old Reuters report, Mitt Romney underfunded those pensions by $44 million—even as Bain was taking $20 million in profits and fees from the company. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/24/12.)

(Were more millions taken for Bain’s investors? We don’t know, and the New York Times doesn’t seem to care.)

The Times doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about the loss of those pensions. Creswell even created a large misimpression—a large misimpression which favors Mitt Romney. The federal government was forced to step in to bail Romney out—but only part of those “underfunded” pensions was restored. Because Romney underfunded the pensions while taking out many millions in profit, workers lost as much as $400 per month, Reuters long ago said.

The New York Times doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about those looted steel workers. It certainly doesn’t care enough to explain their plight. But the Times does care about other topics, as we learned on Sunday's front page.

People! The New York Times cares about horses! More specifically, it cares about Ann Romney’s horses, the ones she employs for dressage.

Creswell devoted a hundred words to the plight of those looted steel workers. But in yesterday’s Sunday paper, Trip Gabriel devoted more than 2300 words to the question of Ann Romney’s dressage.

The report began on the front page, accompanied by two small photos. Inside the paper, the sprawl was vast—and the photos were really quite large.

Just a guess: The Times didn't present that sprawling report because it favors Mitt Romney. Indeed, this piece extends several themes which are generally believed to cut against Romney.

Here’s the way the piece began. Commenters captured the drift:
GABRIEL (5/27/12): In a Romney’s Favorite Sport, Glimpses of a Rarefied World

As Ann Romney immersed herself in the elite world of riding over the last dozen years, she relied on Jan Ebeling as a trusted tutor and horse scout. In her, he found a deep-pocketed patron.

A German-born trainer and top-ranked equestrian, Mr. Ebeling was at ease with the wealthy women drawn to the sport of dressage, in which horses costing up to seven figures execute pirouettes and other dancelike moves for riders wearing tails and top hats.

A taskmaster, Mr. Ebeling pushed Mrs. Romney to excel in high-level amateur shows. He escorted her on horse-buying expeditions to Europe. She shares ownership of the Oldenburg mare he dreams of riding in the Olympic Games this summer. Mrs. Romney and her husband, Mitt, even floated a loan—$250,000 to $500,000, according to financial records—to Mr. Ebeling and his wife for the horse farm they run in California, where the Romneys use a Mediterranean-style guesthouse as a getaway.


The relationship has given the Romneys “the ability to enjoy the horses in a very safe and private haven, along with enjoying the people who provide them the service,” said Robert Dover, who knows the Romneys and Mr. Ebeling and his wife, Amy. “That friendship has stood the test of time.” It also offers a glimpse into the Romneys’ way of life, which they have generally shielded from view.

Protective of their privacy, they may also have been wary of the kind of fallout that came after Mr. Romney’s mention of the “couple of Cadillacs” his wife owned and the disclosure of plans for a car elevator in the family’s $9 million beach house in California, which prompted criticism that Mr. Romney was out of touch with average Americans.
Darlings, dressage is a bit too rich for the New York Times’ blood! Indeed, the sport suggests that the Romneys may be “out of touch with average Americans.” It shows that they live in a “rarefied world.” Meanwhile, Gabriel worked those other markers in—the car garage and the two Caddies.

The Times was eager to let us know about these troubling signs. But how about the way Mitt Romney looted those pension funds? Did that suggest that Romney was “out of touch with average Americans,” or perhaps something much worse?

The New York Times doesn’t seem to care. Photos of those looted workers have not appeared in the Times.

As this campaign proceeds, the Times is giving us a lesson in the actual values of modern elites. Yesterday, the paper wasted oodles of time as it sniffed around in the rarefied world of dressage. (In comments, liberal and conservative readers quickly showed they had gotten the message.) But modern elites don’t give a fig about the lives of steel workers.

Ann Romney’s horses got 2300 words. Mitt’s looted workers have barely been mentioned—and they won’t be mentioned again. Elites have tended to agree! Complaints about Bain are too much! (More on this tomorrow.)

The New York Times cares about dressage, perhaps not about steel workers. This brings us to Gail Collins’ new column, the one about public schools.

Question: Does Gail Collins care about children? More precisely, does she care about American public schools?

Does she care about low-income children? Does she care about their schools?

We’ll try to answer these questions all week—questions which popped into our head when we read Collins’ new column.

Collins does care a great deal about dogs, a point she drove home once again in this column. But does she care about low-income children? She hasn’t dirtied her hands with those steelworkers’ plight. But how about low-income kids?

Alas! In Saturday’s piece about public schools, we were struck by all the old signs—the clowning, the joking, the killing of time, the lazy indifference to her subject matter. She claimed to be discussing Romney’s education plan—but had she actually looked at the plan? And one of the ways she killed time, of course, involved Mitt Romney’s poor dog.

Plainly, Collins cares about dogs; her newspaper seems to care about horses. But does anyone care about looted steel workers?

Does Gail Collins care about schools?

Tomorrow—Part 1: Killing time—and playing the rubes

Wednesday: Understandably, the world’s least informed readers

Sounds of silence: Paging Kurtz!

FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012

Prediction—he won’t say a word: As of Wednesday, even Mediaite had managed to notice the smaller part of the problem.

Mediaite is a tabloidy media web site founded by the useless Dan Abrams. In this post, Noah Rothman noted last week’s silence of the lambs. We’ll include the headline:
ROTHMAN (5/23/12): MSNBC Primetime Makes Zero Mentions Of Trayvon Martin Case After Pro-Zimmerman Evidence Surfaces

In March and April, MSNBC’s primetime hosts ran with nearly wall-to-wall coverage of the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. They regularly suggested that the lack of national interest in the case was worthy of outrage. Last week, when an avalanche of new evidence favorable to George Zimmerman came to light, MSNBC’s primetime lineup didn’t just bury the story, they didn’t mention Martin or Zimmerman once...
Rothman noted one part of the problem. Last week, MSNBC completely ignored the breaking news in the Zimmerman/Martin case.

Major newspapers wrote sprawling reports about the documents, photos and tapes released by prosecutor Angela Corey. But how strange! In its major programs, from 5 PM on, MSNBC didn’t say a single word about this important story!

How weird! Trayvon's name wasn't mentioned once. George Zimmerman didn't exist.

That was pretty remarkable conduct. But Rothman ignored the larger problem in MSNBC’s silence. The new documents made it abundantly clear that MSNBC had broadcast reams of mis- and disinformation about this important case.

A serious news org would correct such egregious mistakes, informing millions of misled viewers.

MSNBC clammed.

Rothman noted part of the problem. He failed to note the larger scandal involved in MSNBC’s conduct. This raises an obvious question:

Where is Howard Kurtz?

Kurtz is our most famous media reporter. Every Sunday, he hosts an hour-long show on CNN devoted to media topics.

MSNBC has staged a major, ginormous scam. It peddled reams of disinformation—and it has refused to correct or explain its endless, egregious misstatements.

In a rational world, Howard Kurtz would speak up. But here’s our prediction for Sunday:

Kurtz won’t say a word.

MSNBC’s conduct has been egregious. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a cable news network behave more grossly than this.

The disinformation was ugly and endless. But the guild has agreed not to speak.

That said, this is precisely the way the guild works. If your “errors” tilt in certain directions, the guild will agree not to notice.

After all, they only slandered a bunch of cops and spread a bunch of bogus claims about someone who is charged with murder. Why should anyone care about that? What possible harm has been done?

For decades, the guild has worked this way. Our prediction: The guild won’t be saying a word.

Neither will the fiery “liberals” you’ve learned to love and trust. Your lizard brain will keep insisting that there must a very good reason.

The Republican brain on acid: With regard to those liberals, one small question:

According to Chris Mooney's new book, isn't this the way the Republican brain is supposed to work? Aren't we liberals supposed to adore the complexity and all the nuance?

DISDAINING THE RUBES: These are a few of our favorite things!

FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012

Epilogue—The pet dog versus the workers: What do “private equity” companies actually do?

Most people couldn’t much tell you. In yesterday’s New York Times, Julie Creswell marveled at the sheer complexity of the matter.

“The world of private equity is a nuanced, complicated business that will never be fully captured in anybody's ads,” Creswell wrote, near the start of her piece. Soon, she added to this portrait: “[M]ore than three decades after private equity burst onto the scene in the merger mania of the 1980s, the industry remains as mysterious…as ever.”

As Creswell continued, the mystery depended. “The industry has done a terrible job of explaining what it does,” a Dartmouth professor was quoted saying.

Creswell’s own explanation proceeded from there. We found it a bit murky too.

What do “private equity” companies do? Very large numbers of people can’t tell you. But as he opens this morning’s column, Paul Krugman mentions one of the things Mitt Romney’s firm apparently did:
KRUGMAN (5/25/12): In the wake of a devastating financial crisis, President Obama has enacted some modest and obviously needed regulation; he has proposed closing a few outrageous tax loopholes; and he has suggested that Mitt Romney's history of buying and selling companies, often firing workers and gutting their pensions along the way, doesn't make him the right man to run America's economy.
Say what? Mitt Romney often fired workers and “gutted their pensions along the way?”

Romney “gutted” workers’ pensions? (E. J. Dionne has used the word “looted.”) Most people couldn’t explain what that means either. But then, there’s a reason for that.

Consider the way Rachel Maddow opened her program last night. (To watch this segment, click here.)

Good lord! Maddow started her program by reviewing what she called “the strapping the dog to the roof of the car story.” Once again, we were encouraged to weep for one of the liberal world's favorite victims—Seamus, the abused Irish setter.

Just before that, Maddow recalled another favorite story about Mitt Romney’s bad character. She described this story as “the Mitt Romney gay-bullying incident from when he was in high school.”

In truth, the Washington Post presented no evidence that the victim in this case, John Lauber, was bullied because Romney and his friends thought he was gay. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/16/12.

Whatever! At least in this case, there was a real victim. He too is a liberal fave.

In our view, there is no evidence that Romney’s dog was mistreated during that car trip. By way of contrast, it seems clear that Lauber was mistreated—when Romney was in high school, of course.

Whatever! By now, Seamus and Lauber are liberal icons, a few of our favorite things. But even as we re-wept for Seamus last night, another group of Romney’s victims wasn’t permitted to bark.

Maddow wept for Romney’s dog. She wept for a high school kid who almost surely was mistreated. But what about all those working-class people whose pensions got “gutted” or “looted” by Romney?

On Maddow’s program, these victims don’t bark. And such judgments have driven American politics over the past fifty years.

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! We’re asked to cry for poor abused Seamus, even though the two adults present on that ancient trip say he enjoyed his rides on the roof of the car. (In his kennel, not “strapped to the roof” and certainly not “in a cage.”)

But how about those steel mill workers, the people whose pensions got gutted or looted? These people have names and personal histories—but Maddow’s viewers aren’t asked to know who they are.

Her viewers aren’t asked to weep for these victims. Why aren’t they a few (hundred) of our favorite things on this often-ridiculous program?

Darlings! Must you ask?

Anyone with eyes to see can see a plain fact about our politics: Modern liberals don’t give a fig about the white working-class. Its members aren’t cuddly like a pet dog; we can’t talk doggy-talk when discussing them. Lofty as we are, we can’t picture our own victimization in their story, as we can do in the case of Lauber.

Darlings! Those workers are adults, of a class we don’t especially care for. They’re yokels, yahoos, rednecks, rubes.

They’re uncomfortably close to being tea-baggers! Are their limbic brains working correctly?

But then, within elite American culture, no one cares a whole lot about such people—no one except the Republican Party, which approaches them, and wins their votes, with various social issues.

As the GOP wins their votes this way, Maddow tells dick jokes at their expense, then weeps about Romney’s pet dog.

Seamus yes, looted steel workers no! This rather obvious cultural preference has been a major part of our politics—and of our journalism—over the past fifty years.

It isn’t just a newbie like Maddow who is skipping their victimization. The looting of those pension funds is largely being ignored in the traditional upper-end press corps too.

This “gutting” is so mysterious, so nuanced, that Creswell chose to skip right past it in yesterday’s report. The pensions were “underfunded,” she said. Underfunded by whom?

No idea!

It’s more depressing to see this issue passed over by TV liberals like Maddow. But then, Maddow and her upper-end type think nothing of trashing folk like these. For much of the past two months, her colleagues slandered a bunch of cops in astonishing ways, making ugly misstatements about them (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/12).

There is no sign that Maddow’s colleagues will ever correct these misstatements—slanders they aimed at working-class cops who were white, black and Hispanic.

For Maddow, it was bad when Romney mistreated his dog. Those steel mill workers count for much less.

For fifty years, American politics has turned on the judgment displayed last night—on the bad political judgment of a corporate-paid millionaire.

Star Search: Who the Sam Hill is Luke Russert?

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012

Kid Pareene gets his man: Good lord.

If it’s amusement you sometimes enjoy, we strongly recommend Kid Pareene’s profile of Luke Russert. Just be sure to click on the links to Russert's "attempted solemnity."

An instance of looting, he almost says!

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012

Tim Noah on Mitt Romney’s conduct: We all owe thanks to Timothy Noah for his new book about income inequality.

(If only someone would read it!)

Now, Noah has described Mitt Romney’s conduct at Bain Capital. Noah was goaded into this discussion by David Brooks’ recent ridiculous column,, which made it sound like Bain was involved in a charity function with respect to that famous steel mill.

How did Romney behave with respect to that Kansas City steel mill? It was “an instance of looting,” Noah says—or rather, he almost says that:
NOAH (5/23/12): Brooks insists that Bain Capital’s purchase of the Worldwide Grinding Systems steel mill in Kansas City, Mo., which eventually went bankrupt, was not—as the Obama campaign ad portrays it—an instance of looting. It was a case of picking up a wounded sparrow fallen from its nest and trying to nurse it back to health. Mother Nature, alas, had other ideas. “The company was in terminal decline before Bain entered the picture,” Brooks writes. “Bain held onto the company for eight years, hardly the pattern of a looter.”
For himself, Noah doesn’t call this “an instance of looting.” He says that’s how the ad “portrays it.”

But does he agree with that assessment? It isn’t real easy to tell:
NOAH (continuing directly): That misstates the problem. Of course private equity firms don’t buy companies with the intent of making them fail. They aren’t like Bialystock and Bloom in Mel Brooks’s The Producers, scheming to succeed by failing. The problem, as Nocera noted, is that when private equity firms manage their acquisitions incompetently, then the pain is felt exclusively by laid-off workers. The private-equity suits don’t suffer at all. This is what economists call “moral hazard” and everybody else calls a rigged game.

According to an authoritative Jan. 6 account by Reuters’ Andy Sullivan and Greg Roumeliotis, Bain Capital’s management of Worldwide Grinding Systems—which the private equity firm acquired in 1993—was a rigged game. Brooks makes much of the fact that Romney was no longer active at Bain by the time GT Technologies, as the company was by then known, went bust in 2001. But Romney was at Bain for most of the 1990s. During that time, according to the Reuters account, Bain was hiring line managers with no experience in the steel business and failing to set aside enough cash for the pension fund. When the company went bust in 2001 the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. had to bail out the fund to the tune of $44 million. This covered much, though not all, of the shortfall; according to Reuters, pension benefits “were cut by as much as $400 a month.” Seven hundred and fifty workers lost their jobs.

Bain would have made a lot more money had the steel company succeeded. That it didn’t isn’t entirely Bain’s fault; as Kimberley Strassel pointed out in a Wall Street Journal column, the late 1990s saw a sudden inflow of cheap foreign steel and a steep rise in electricity rates. What’s appalling is that Bain managed to do pretty well even when the steel company failed. Brooks and Strassel both point out that Bain ended up pumping $100 million into GT Technologies. But neither has the bad manners to note that when GT Technologies failed Bain still ended up (according to Reuters) at least $12 million ahead on its eight-year investment. And that doesn’t even count the $900,000 the company annually extracted in management fees through 1999. Such grotesquely unequal outcomes for those at the top and those at the bottom aren’t at all unusual in the private equity business.

Did I mention that the money private equity firms make gets taxed at only 15 percent because it’s capital gains? “Everybody who’s in private equity is really mad at Mitt Romney right now,” Nocera chortled during in his Daily Show appearance. (This was when Romney’s career in private equity was under attack from his primary opponents.) “They’re furious! […] This had been an issue early in the Obama administration—should these guys be taxed like Warren Buffett’s secretary. The issue then faded, kinda went away, and now—hey!—it’s back on the front page again.”

Tax breaks, government bailouts, profit assured even when investments fail. If this is reform, I’d hate to see what corruption looks like.
Did Noah describe this as “corruption?” He didn’t quite say that either! At any rate, there’s lots of information there.

There might even be too much.

But Mitt Romney “loot” that pension fund? That’s what E. J. Dionne has now said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/12).

At some point, we ought to cut back on the nuance a bit. Did Mitt Romney loot a pension fund to the tune of $44 million?

That strikes us a rather large sum. Our questions:

Was that pension fund looted by Romney? If not, how should we describe it?

If so, should the public be told?

Contempt for cops: Would you want this job?

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012

Howard Kurtz takes a large powder: On the evening of February 26, would you have wanted Timothy Smith’s job?

Timothy Smith isn’t rich or famous. On February 26, he was the first police officer to respond to the scene where Trayvon Martin had just been killed.

Initially, Officer Smith was dispatched to the scene because of George Zimmerman’s now-tragic phone call. He arrived on the scene with remarkable speed. Tragically, he arrived on the scene just twenty seconds after Martin was shot and killed.

Did Smith do anything wrong that night? Before we address that question, let’s offer a word about the half dozen people who were on the phone making 911 calls when Smith arrived on the scene.

People who lived near the scene of the shooting were upset and frightened that night. You can listen to their 911 calls, which are instructive, at this post. In several instances, you can hear the waves of relief that goes through their voices when they see that Smith has arrived.

That is one of the civilization-permitting services performed by a competent police force. And by the way:

Would you have wanted Smith’s job that night? Would you have wanted to be the person who had to come around the side of a building, emerging on a very dark scene where someone had just been shot?

From Smith’s report, it's clear that he already knew that someone had been shot. “As I arrived on the scene, dispatch advised of a report of shots fired in the same subdivision,” he wrote. “...I was then advised, after receiving multiple calls, that there was a subject lying in the grass between the residences of 1231 Twin Trees Lane and 2831 Retreat View Circle.” (Smith's report is found early on in this cache of documents.)

Would you have wanted to be the person who rounded the corner and came on that scene, not knowing if you might be the next person shot? Officer Smith accepted the challenge. (“As I walked in between the buildings I observed a white male, wearing a red jacket and blue jeans...”)

We wouldn’t have wanted that job—and Smith did nothing wrong that night. Neither did his colleagues, though we’ll assume that some perfect police force in some perfect land probably could have done better.

We’re sorry, but the officers who responded to the scene weren’t a bunch of belly-scratching crackers straight outta 1955. They performed their basic functions that night and in the days and nights which followed.

Were they belly-scratching rednecks who didn’t care if a black kid got shot? Sorry. On March 13, rightly or wrongly, the lead investigator, Officer Chris Serino, officially recommended that Zimmerman should be charged with manslaughter.

At that time, the states’ attorney passed on this recommendation. But that’s what Serino advised.

Six nights later, a slander campaign began on MSNBC. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/12. Our archives further detail some of these themes, though so much disinformation was pushed that it would take a major effort to document it all.)

In fourteen years at this post, we don’t think we’ve ever seen a cable news channel behave more egregiously. Week after week, the hosts and “analysts” at this cable “news” channel pumped a stream of disinformation, all of it designed to make you think that Timothy Smith and his colleagues were a bunch of belly-scratching redneck crackers who didn’t care that a black kid got killed.

They pumped this disinformation into the midst of a highly inflammatory situation. They made claim after claim after claim after claim; these claims turned out to be false. For example, here was our alleged “professor,” on the fifth night of the onslaught:
HARRIS-PERRY (3/23/12): And remember, part of what goes there has to do with the presumption of what’s happening. Police officers use discernment, judgment, discretion all the time when they encounter a domestic violence situation, when they encounter street-level violence. That’s part of what police officers are trained to do.

So if you have police officers under the judgment and the leadership of a police chief who has apparently trained them that when they find an unarmed teenage dead in a gated community, not only did they let Zimmerman walk, he walked with the murder weapon, I mean—or the killing weapon, because we don’t know if it was murder.

But this is a man who is not disarmed. This is a man whose permit has not been revoked. This is a man, who, when the police officers saw what happened, that there was an armed man and unarmed child, they said, “Well, this looks like a circumstance in which we should let this person go.”
Sorry. Timothy Smith disarmed George Zimmerman, as soon as he arrived on the scene. (“Zimmerman complied with all my verbal commands and was secured in handcuffs. Located on the inside of Zimmerman’s waistband, I removed a black Kel Tek 9mm PF9 semi auto handgun and holster.”)

The professor made a mistake that night. But so what? Her colleagues continued to pimp this claim for weeks, even after the Orlando Sentinel correctly reported that it was bogus. And to this day, the professor hasn’t corrected herself. She hasn’t told this channel’s millions of viewers that this claim was wrong.

But why single out the professor? Incredibly, no one has issued any corrections at this astonishing “news channel.” Last week, when reams of documents were released, this “news channel” simply looked away from its legion of errors.

MSNBC took a powder. The professors, Rhodes Scholars and millionaires all pretended that nothing had happened.

But then, someone else hasn’t said a word about this channel’s astonishing conduct. Tomorrow, the remarkable silence of Howard Kurtz—the silence of the lambs, the swells, the silence of the guild.

Should Zimmerman have been charged that first night: No, says Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft.

To read her analysis, just click here. You can decide if you think she’s right—but her site is an invaluable resource if you’re trying to follow this case.

DISDAINING THE RUBES: Who cares about looted steel workers!

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012

Part 4—The New York Times covers for Bain: What did Romney do at Bain Capital?

There’s little chance you’ll ever find out reading the New York Times! Indeed, Julie Creswell’s report in today’s New York Times is a masterpiece of upper-class pseudo-reporting.

Creswell’s remarkable “news report” ought to be placed in a time capsule. This would allow future generations to marvel at the cultural attitudes which were widespread among the “press” in this, our new Gilded Age.

Creswell’s report should be saved for the future. But for current purposes, her news report is a masterwork of covering up for Mitt Romney and Bain. At its heart, we find a great disdain for the yokels, the losers, the yahoos, the rubes, the unappealing lesser breed:

“Darlings, please!” Creswell’s piece seems to cry. “Who cares about looted steel workers?”

Let’s start with a bit of background. Creswell is responding to a nauseating, very disappointing ad by Obama. In a press release announcing the ad, the Obama campaign said the following:

"After purchasing [GST Steel], Mitt Romney and his partners loaded it with debt, closed the Kansas City plant and walked away with a healthy profit, leaving hundreds of employees out of work with their pensions in jeopardy.”

In anything, that statement is soft. But that represents the state of play which led to Creswell’s report.

Please note: Obama’s ad doesn’t make a statement about private equity in general. Instead, Obama’s ad makes a statement about Mitt Romney’s conduct at Bain. But the modern upper-class press corps is loaded with folk who defer to powerful upper-end interests. This may explain how Creswell managed to start her report in the following way, headline included.

Obama’s ad concerns Romney’s conduct at Bain. But note the way Creswell defines her topic:
CRESWELL (5/24/12): Political Ads Don’t Tell Full Story on Private Equity

In an advertisement released this month by President Obama’s campaign, Mitt Romney and the private equity firm he co-founded, Bain Capital, are painted as vampires. They sucked the lifeblood out of GST Steel in the 1990s, which pushed it into bankruptcy, destroying jobs and eliminating pensions.

In a quick counterattack, the Romney campaign released an ad that highlighted the robust job growth at another Bain investment, the manufacturing company Steel Dynamics. The ad featured employees who said the investment had helped them achieve the American dream.

So, which version of private equity is true?
Obama’s ad attacks Romney’s conduct at Bain. Creswell responds with a lengthy news report—about "private equity" in general.

Don’t get us wrong! We’d like to see our major newspapers explain what “private equity” is. The phrase is being tossed all around—but very few voters know what it means.

These hopeless yokels have little idea what “private equity” firms really do. Pitiful yahoos that they are, they don’t know how “private equity” firms different from other entities.

Creswell would be providing a service if she explained what “private equity” is. For our money, her performance today is rather weak in this area.

But Obama’s ad doesn’t concern private equity firms in general. His ad concerns Mitt Romney’s conduct at Bain, a subject Creswell skips until paragraph 24 of a lengthy, 26-paragraph report.

If readers are still around at that time, here's what they read about Romney’s conduct. What follows is Creswell’s full discussion of the subject which occasioned her news report.

Might we note one minor miracle? Almost five months later, the New York Times has mentioned that Reuters report!
CRESWELL: As for the dueling ads, in the case of GST Steel, a manufacturer based in Kansas City, Mo., that Bain bought in 1993, the company, according to a Reuters article this year, issued new debt that was used to pay tens of millions of dollars in dividends to its buyout owners. That sent GST's debt levels and interest payments soaring, which eventually pushed it into bankruptcy.

When the bankruptcy was announced, the company also said that it was shutting down a mill, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs, and that it would not provide workers with severance pay, health insurance and other benefits. The company's underfunded pension was eventually bailed out by the federal government. But not explored in the campaign ad is that GST was a company already well in decline in an industry under pressure from cheap global product before Bain acquired it and pumped money into it. It was one of many steel manufacturers that filed for bankruptcy during the period.
If you stuck around for paragraphs 24 and 25, that’s what Creswell managed to tell you about the subject of Obama’s ad—though you’ll note that Romney’s name isn’t mentioned. We think her report should go in a capsule, so future generations can see the way our upper-class “press corps” disdained the yokels, the rednecks, the rubes.

What did Romney do at Bain? More precisely, what did he do with respect to that steel mill? Creswell is full of excuses for the fact that the plant had to close (see below). But among the various shaky practices Reuters described in its buried report, Bain’s underfunding of the pension fund was perhaps the most egregious.

What does Creswell say about that? This is all she could manage:

“The company's underfunded pension was eventually bailed out by the federal government.”

Too funny! The pension plan was “underfunded,” she says. But who underfunded that pension fund? By some miracle of pseudo-journalism, Creswell forgets to say!

“Mistakes were made,” Richard Nixon once said. This morning, Creswell steals his construction: “Underfunding was done,” she explains.

What did Romney do at Bain? Creswell had 1200 words to answer this question. Instead, she burned away the bulk of her space discussing a general question, then rushed past the conduct described in that ad and that Reuters report. In fact, according to Reuters, Mitt Romney underfunded that pension fund, by some $44 million, even as Bain was taking large profits and fees from the steel mill. And while Creswell mentions the federal bailout, she doesn’t waste your time with the bad news about those (750) workers:

Readers, can we talk? Those workers lost large chunks of their pensions even after the federal bailout occurred! That happened because Mitt Romney underfunded their pension fund, even as he was taking large sums out of their struggling company.

That’s what Reuters reported, four months ago. Creswell didn’t want you disturbed.

Why would someone create a “news report” like the one Creswell gives us today? Let us offer a speculation:

At upper-class news orgs like the Times, people don’t care about looted steel workers. Darlings, please! They’re yokels, yahoos, tea-baggers, rubes. They aren’t fine upstanding folk like the captains of equity firms.

What do they care about at the New York Times? They care about the way an Irish setter got transported on a summer vacation. They care so much that they’re willing to make up silly shit about it and repeat it for five years.

But they plainly don’t care about steel mill workers! People! Kansas City! How gauche!

The mainstream press—and the liberal world—care very little for people like these. Back in 2009, Rachel Maddow showered such people with two weeks of amusing dick jokes. Just last month, her millionaire colleagues lied and lied, in disgraceful ways, about a cadre of working-class cops.

What did Romney do at Bain? Darlings! He did the best he could! That is the subtext of Creswell’s “report”—and it’s built on upper-class contempt for the lower order.

This attitude is widely broadcast these days. More on this problem tomorrow.

Creswell bestows the last word: Here’s how an upper-class newspaper functions:

Creswell finally got around to Romney’s conduct in paragraph 24. When she did, she devoted two paragraphs to his conduct—although his name went unsaid.

She forgot to say that he underfunded those pensions. She soft-soaped the results.

She didn’t describe the human cost—if you think “those people” are human. She let it seem that the federal government made that underfunding right—the underfunding that seems to have happened all by itself.

She devoted two grafs to this snow job. But darlings! Good men have been slandered and scorned! Creswell decided to give the last word to the people who actually looted those pensions. This was the stirring paragraph which closed her pseudo-report:
CRESWELL (continuing directly): ''Mitt Romney retired from Bain Capital over 13 years ago,'' Bain said in a statement, ''but we understand that in a political campaign our exemplary 28-year record will be distorted and complex business situations will be portrayed in a simplistic way.''
Darlings! Will Bain be portrayed in a simplistic way? For sure! Julie Creswell just did!

Tomorrow: We “liberals” loathe workers and cops

Maddow watch: This liberal god must be crazy!


Her craziest cable rant yet: For quite some time, we’ve told you that you have to fact-check everything Rachel Maddow says. (This is too bad, because she reports on important topics.)

A few weeks ago, her ridiculous piece on the Silverdome pretty much pushed us over the edge. But boy howdy! On Night 2 of her "Darling Cory defense," Maddow really seemed semi-nuts.

On Monday night, Maddow insisted that Cory Booker had done nothing wrong on Meet the Press—that Republicans were just making you think that. At the start of last night’s show, this ridiculous, delusional claim was pimped all over again. And this time, the claim was more elaborate:

According to Maddow, the world is conspiring to make you think that Booker committed a horrible error—and that the GOP's John Sununu did not!

In this way, Sununu became the foil for Maddow’s latest absurd cherry-picking. As always, you really have to watch the tape to get the full effect of what follows—to appreciate Maddow’s air of total certainty as she pushes a ludicrous claim. (To watch this full segment, click here.)

This liberal god must think you’re crazy—or that you’re very dumb:
MADDOW (5/22/12): Republicans this year keep making this big, obvious, laugh-out-loud political errors, these unforced errors, picking exactly the wrong person to make whatever their political case of the day is. They keep making these errors and they keep not having to pay for them.

The Romney campaign did it again today, maybe worse than ever. Today, they hosted another conference call for reporters, this one with Romney surrogate John Sununu.

John Sununu, of course, the former New Hampshire governor, former White House chief of staff for the first President Bush. John Sununu may be Mitt Romney’s highest profile surrogate anywhere in the country.

This Republican call that Mr. Sununu was scheduled for today was designed to complain about the Obama campaign taking on Governor Romney’s time in the private sector. It was designed to get the world off of Mitt Romney’s back when it comes to Bain Capital. And on that call, John Sununu told reporters, quote, "I think the Bain record is fair game."

Seriously, he actually said that. Listen, it’s on tape:

SUNUNU (audiotape): I think the Bain record as a whole is fair game.

The whole message, the single unifying talking point in Republican presidential politics right now for the party, for the Romney campaign, the entire deal comes down to: Do not talk about Bain Capital! You hate free enterprise and all business if you talk about Bain Capital! Cued up by the Romney campaign to say that, to say, Do not talk about Bain Capital, and the Romney campaign’s highest profile surrogate instead says the opposite.

He says, sure. Go after Bain. It’s fair game! Dig in!

And he says it to the reporters summoned by the campaign for the purpose of hearing what he has to say. Just a disaster, right? An epic political gaffe. We’ll be hearing about that for three days, right? That will occlude all other developments in domestic politics.

Of course not. Of course not. The nation will not be hearing about John Sununu's journey to the pantheon of off-message surrogates.

And yet, this is exactly, this is exactly the kind of off-message misadventuring that has caused three straight days of heartburn for the Obama campaign and for Newark, New Jersey’s Democratic mayor, Cory Booker after he criticized both sides of the race for negative campaigning and he went off-message for the Democrats about Bain.

Cory Booker made the exact same kind of mistake that John Sununu made today, and he made it on the exact same subject. The only difference is that the Republican in this off-message duo is a much more prominent guy. They made the same face-plant, only John Sununu’s was bigger because John Sununu’s role in this campaign is bigger.

But if you heard about John Sununu's gaffe today at all, congratulations. That means you read very obscure blogs because it was nowhere else.
There’s a word for that “analysis.” That analysis is semi-insane.

We’re sorry, but Sununu did not commit a gaffe; he certainly didn't commit a disaster. His performance wasn’t “exactly like” what Booker did on Sunday. It wasn't surprising in any way when Sununu said that Bain was “as a whole, fair game.” It’s absurd to think that he could have said anything different.

Darling Rachel was cherry-picking again—and relentlessly playing her viewers. To read a report on Sununu’s full remarks, go ahead—just click this.

There was nothing surprising in Sununu's remarks. He committed nothing resembling a gaffe. This explains why no one said otherwise. Maddow’s diatribe last night was just this side of delusional.

We’ve warned you about Maddow for a long time. Last night, she really jumped the shark. Truly, the gods must be insane to send us a leader like this.

Just a thought: If Maddow would stop her absurd attempts to defend her appalling friend, maybe she could report on what Romney actually did at Bain! Maybe she could report the looting of those pension funds, in ways her viewers could grasp and pass on.

Or is she keeping her trap shut too? Despite what your lizard brain is saying, corporate-picked multimillionaires may not always be on your side!

People with access to fame and smack will often play you to keep it. At any rate, Maddow can report on that looting whenever she wants.

So far, she has demurred.

MSNBC: Sweet silence!


Truly astounding misconduct: Astounding but true:

George Zimmerman wasn’t mentioned on MSNBC last week. Neither was the late Trayvon Martin, not even once.

What makes that fact so astounding? Major news broke in the Martin case on two occasions last week. This led to sprawling reports in our major news orgs.

But there wasn’t a word on MSNBC, which had produced a month of dis- and misinformation regarding this tragic case. MSNBC didn’t describe the police reports which gave the lie to its endless misstatements. The channel didn’t let liberal viewers see the photos which contradicted its hosts’ bogus claims.

In essence, these horrible, terrible, no-good pseudo-journalists continued their earlier misconduct. These are very, very bad people. But then, what else is new?

For today, consider the slanders this network pimped concerning the Sanford police, who arrived on the scene just twenty seconds after Martin was shot.

This week, we looked back through MSNBC’s reporting in just the first week of this feeding frenzy (March 19-23). Consider the slanders against the Sanford police this “news channel” was already actively pimping that week:

They didn’t even take Zimmerman’s gun: Here was Sharpton, speaking with Lawrence O’Donnell, on the third night of this month-long scam:
SHARPTON (3/21/12): What’s even more appalling, not only did they not make an arrest, they let the guy go with a gun, with the murder weapon. “You can go!” And they start becoming his defense spokesmen.


O’DONNELL: A gun like that, you want to take it over. You want to take ballistic tests on it. You want to figure out exactly what the range of fire was, how far away was this from the entrance wound. None of that’s being done.
In fact, all of that was being done. But so what? MSNBC kept pimping this bogus claim for weeks. This week, the police reports show that the gun was taken as soon as police arrived on the scene. MSNBC has made no attempt to correct its endless slander. O'Donnell minced and clowned and played with his famous show business guests.

They didn’t even take Zimmerman’s clothes: MSNBC’s hosts and guests pushed this claim for weeks. In the police reports released by Angela Corey, you can read the official reports refuting this bogus claim. (On the night of the killing, Zimmerman’s wife was told to bring a new set of clothes to the police station.)

They accepted Zimmerman’s claims on face: In the reports, you can review the evidence which tended to support Zimmerman’s account of what had happened. You can also see the reports of the ongoing collection of witness statements, a process which continued over the next four days and nights.

The police made Martin’s parents wait three days to be notified about the death of their son: In the police reports, you can see what no one disputes—Office Chris Serino informed Tracy Martin of the death of his son at 9:20 the next morning. For weeks, MSNBC hosts and guests kept inflaming a tense situation with the claim that the cracker police had diddled around for three days.

The cracker police didn’t care that Zimmerman had killed a black teen-ager: In the reports, you can see that Serino, the lead investigator, filed an official report on March 13 recommending that Zimmerman be arrested and charged with manslaughter. (The states’ attorney didn’t agree with his legal judgment.) It’s clear from his official reports that Serino suspected that Zimmerman had been driven by racial motives, to the extent that he included some inaccurate facts tilting in this direction.

There’s much more where that came from, of course. One example:

In those reports, you can also see that Serino received the official medical report of Zimmerman’s broken nose on March 9. (You can also see the police reports in which several officers say his nose seemed to be broken at the scene.) For weeks, O’Donnell and his quack assistant, Charles Blow, kept insisting there was no way Zimmerman’s nose could have been broken.

As it spread its disinformation around, MSNBC’s conduct was simply astounding. Its silence last week was equally so.

Week after week, night after night, MSNBC had mis- and disinformed its viewers about a wide of range of very serious matters. Last week, the actual facts came out—and these shameless people maintained complete silence, permitting the disinformation to stand. But then, mainstream “media critics” have also maintained a code of silence, refusing to comment on this misconduct.

For decades, this is the way this guild has worked. Tomorrow: Weigel and Kurtz