Racial separation in Tuscaloosa’s schools!


How pernicious is it: Taken at a glance, Nikole Hannah-Jones paints an unappealing picture in her lengthy report about the Tuscaloosa City public schools.

The lengthy piece was written for ProPublica. It also appears in The Atlantic.

Hannah-Jones is largely concerned with the alleged “resegregation” of the Tuscaloosa schools. Early on, she paints a rather gloomy picture of this “resegregation:”
HANNAH-JONES (4/16/14): Tuscaloosa’s schools today are not as starkly segregated as they were in 1954, the year the Supreme Court declared an end to separate and unequal education in America. No all-white schools exist anymore—the city’s white students generally attend schools with significant numbers of black students. But while segregation as it is practiced today may be different than it was 60 years ago, it is no less pernicious: in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, it involves the removal and isolation of poor black and Latino students, in particular, from everyone else. In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

Tuscaloosa’s school resegregation—among the most extensive in the country—is a story of city financial interests, secret meetings, and angry public votes. It is a story shaped by racial politics and a consuming fear of white flight. It was facilitated, to some extent, by the city’s black elites. And it was blessed by a U.S. Department of Justice no longer committed to fighting for the civil-rights aims it had once championed.
In substantial detail, Hannah-Jones tells a fascinating story about the way the racial balance of Tuscaloosa’s schools came to be as it is. The story tales us from Brown v. Board (1954) up through the present day.

We’ll briefly review that story tomorrow. (We can’t evaluate the accuracy of Hannah-Jones’ detailed account.) But that early passage by Hannah-Jones certainly paints a gloomy picture of current arrangements.

We’re told that Tuscaloosa’s “resegregation” is “among the most extensive in the country.” Its schools are “not as starkly segregated as they were in 1954,” Hannah-Jones writes. But the “segregation as it is practiced today...is no less pernicious.”

That strikes us as a rather strong overstatement.

Gloomy pronouncements of this type can make liberal hearts feel very glad, especially when such statements are aimed at southern targets. But those statements strike us as semi-perniciously wrong. These would be the most obvious objections:

“Tuscaloosa’s schools today are not as starkly segregated as they were in 1954?” That is a very strong the understatement.

In 1954, all of Alabama’s schools were legally segregated by race! No child attended public school with any kids from other races. Schools were either all-white or all-black, as was commanded by law.

It isn’t like that today. “No all-white schools exist anymore,” Hannah-Jones writes. “The city’s white students generally attend schools with significant numbers of black students.”

That’s quite an understatement on the high school level, the level Hannah-Jones focuses on. As we showed you yesterday, this is the racial breakdown for Tuscaloosa City’s three high schools:
Tuscaloosa City high schools:
Central High:

765 students
100 percent black

Bryant High:
944 students
75 percent black, 19 percent white

Northridge High:
1226 students
61 percent black, 35 percent white
“The city’s white students generally attend schools with significant numbers of black students?” At the high school level, the city’s white students all attend schools with substantial majorities of black kids!

For various reasons, Hannah-Jones is troubled by the existence of all-black Central High. We’ll discuss her concerns tomorrow, then again next week.

But is this current arrangement really “no less pernicious” than the legal separation that existed in 1954? We’d call that a rather large stretch—and outside the city limits, elsewhere in Tuscaloosa County, black kids and white kids attend six other public high schools together, often in robust numbers, as detailed yesterday.

Did Hannah-Jones mislead her readers about the degree of racial separation in Tuscaloosa’s schools? We’d say she drew a somewhat misleading picture. (She was writing about Tuscaloosa City only.)

In fairness, racial separation is greater in Tuscaloosa City’s elementary and middle schools, where the city reverted to a form of neighborhood schools around the year 2000.

Especially given her very long article, Hannah-Jones doesn’t go into much detail about elementary and middle school enrollments. But these are the white enrollment figures for the middle schools, as best we can determine:
Tuscaloosa City middle schools:
Eastwood Middle: white students, 12 percent
Rock Quarry Middle: white students, 73 percent
Southview Middle: white students, 3 percent
University Place Middle: white students, 10 percent
Westlawn Middle: white students, 0 percent
The bulk of white kids in the city attend Rock Quarry Middle. Quite a few black kids go to schools which are all-black or almost all-black.

For ourselves, we’d like to see black kids and white kids going to school together. You can see photos of Tuscaloosa's black and white kids together at the web sites for Bryant High and Northridge High.

Out in the Tuscaloosa County schools, where there are a lot more white kids, you can see a lot of smiling students posing for pictures with their black and white classmates.

To see photos of what we mean, click here, then continue clicking. All in all, a lot of kids in Tuscaloosa County (of which Tuscaloosa City is a part) are going to school with lots of kids of both races.

Hannah-Jones raises a lot of valid concerns about the “resegregation” of Tuscaloosa City’s schools. We also think she may have her thumb on the scale a tiny tad at times.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the basic parts of the history she tells. Next week, we'll examine her thoughts about what makes a school good, bad or even “hopeless.”

That said, is the current situation “no less pernicious” than it was in 1954? That strikes us as a fairly large stretch, and we'll guess it proved a bit misleading for many of Hannah-Jones’ readers.

Why do we liberals sometimes seem to want to say things like this?

Progressives now say the darnedest things!


48 minutes a slave: We progressives! Amidst all the current excitement, William Rhoden appeared on Hardball last night to discuss his new book.

Improbably enough, the book is called “Forty Million Dollar Slaves.” Chris Matthews started like this:
MATTHEWS (4/29/14): In his book, Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete, William Rhoden, who’s right here, argued that while African-Americans may have achieved wealth from the [NBA], they haven’t necessarily gained or exercised real power within it.

And with us now is him, the author of the book, New York Times sports columnist, William Rhoden. And also, we’ve got joining us a real expert for history, the history of the civil rights movement, former U.S. congressman from Maryland Kweisi Mfume, who’s also a former president of the NAACP.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. Congressman, we’ll get to you. I want to start with William here.


MATTHEWS: Give me your basic thrust, because we all think about NBA players as being well off. If they’ve got a 10-year career, they make $5 million, $10 million a year, they may end up saving 50 million bucks, with all the endorsement opportunities. It’s not just the payroll, it’s the endorsements.


MATTHEWS: So how are they badly off, if you will?

RHODEN: Well, nobody is saying they’re badly off. I mean, they’re making money. But you got to figure out, if—if somebody could pay fifteen players $10 million each, how much is he making, you know?
No one is saying they’re badly off; the book title merely says they’re “slaves.” And after all, an NBA owner may make even more than a player!

After a few feeble comments by Matthews, Rhoden continued trying to explain why LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are slaves:
MATTHEWS: It’s always about, what is it, half the money coming in the door goes to the players or something that like that?

RHODEN: Right. But the point is, they are well off, relatively speaking, many better off than they would be if they’re not playing. But this is an issue of power.

I mean, you can be paid money. A lot of enslaved people actually made money, but they had no power. And they didn’t share in the revenue. It would be different if, like, they said, “OK, on the plantation, you could get 50 percent of the cotton sales.”
We swear we’re not making this up.

By now, we were plainly in Far La-La land. But under current network arrangements, Matthews wasn’t allowed to notice, except in the tiniest ways:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Right.

RHODEN: It still wouldn’t— The barbarism is one thing. But at least you could say, well, “OK, well, we split it 50-50.”


RHODEN: But, in this case, there is, it’s sort of like white labor—I mean, black labor, white wealth. So that’s the premise of this book.
Even now, does it seem like we’re discussing “slaves?” As Matthews puttered around, Rhoden explained that everybody’s on the plantation, even hockey players:
MATTHEWS: But didn’t it used to be, before the big development of black athletes’ ability to dominate the NBA, you had white athletes making a lot less?

RHODEN: But everybody was making less.

MATTHEWS: But they didn’t own the teams.

RHODEN: Well, but everybody was making less. And the point is, and we talked about this—the point is—that’s the point that Kurtis Blow made. All of them are on a plantation, whether you`re talking about hockey, Major League Baseball, the NBA.


RHODEN: They’re all on a plantation. And probably a lot of white guys don’t know that they’re on a plantation until something hits them.
With all those hockey players, we hope the plantation has dentists. Sadly, a white guy like Mike Trout ($144 million) may not even know where he is!

Might we state the obvious here? When Republicans or conservatives say things like this, we liberals are supposed to go crazy and announce how deeply offended we are. Last night, Matthews played nicely with others.

Question: Is there any quicker way to make progressives seem like world-class fools? When Matthews finally turned to Mfume, the unfortunate change in the cultural era was sadly apparent:
MATTHEWS: Congressman, do you accept this premise that we have got a labor force of—I don’t even call them labor—super talented professionals who make the money, who make the fans come to the games and watch on TV, and the guys who make money off of that—isn’t that the nature of capitalism, just to be blunt about it?

MFUME: It is. It is. It is. But the nature of capitalism only moves to create opportunities when there are pressures applied. I agree totally with Bill Rhoden and I agree with Oprah also. It’s a plantation mentality...
Now they've even got Mfume!

For the record, Kweisi Mfume used to be our congressman. In the old days, we even appeared on his TV program! We regard him as a very bright, very decent person. But these are very dumb times.

This is the way progressives self-immolate. Might we talk?

In effect, Mfume seemed to be talking to our own emerging equivalent of the tea party. We liberals laugh at Republican figures when they behave like this.

Politely, Matthews played along with this obvious nonsense. Like the other slaves on the plantation, he is paid millions of bucks every year to know the rules of the game.

We can’t link you to the tape: Perhaps for obvious reasons, it seems the tape wasn’t posted.

EYES OFF THE PRIZE: Punish them all!


Part 2—Roxane Gay and the soul of Salon:
This site exists to critique our press corps, not our NBA owners.

That said, we’ll have to admit that we’re glad to see Donald Sterling getting the boot.

How absurd a figure is Sterling? This 2009 profile from ESPN makes him sound like he’s next in line to rule North Korea, so weird does his long-time conduct and thinking seem to have been.

(Are you sure there are no organic brain problems? We wouldn’t feel real sure of that.)

For ourselves, we always favor “pitying the poor immigrant.” Would you want to be the country’s craziest person? Would you want to live your life inside Sterling’s skin?

We aren’t big punishment people here. Even so, that doesn’t mean we want our craziest people in positions of esteem and prominence. For that reason, we’re glad to see Sterling go.

On balance, we’re glad to see Sterling getting the boot. That said, the conduct of America’s press corps has perhaps been less than impressive this week. That’s especially true of the pseudo-liberal/progressive press corps now springing up in our midst.

We pseudo-liberals! As we chase this slumlord from our midst, our mainstream press corps keeps presenting NBA spokespersons who have themselves been accused as slumlords; who have themselves been accused of misconduct with underage girls; who have been successfully sued for $11.5 million worth of sexual harassment.

The irony of this juxtaposition seems to escape us liberals, in part because our fiery leaders agree not to mention such facts—just as they aren’t going to ask why the Los Angeles NAACP was honoring a crackpot like Sterling.

Some things simnply aren’t done!

The foolishness and the faux behavior don’t end there, of course. Last night, Chris Matthews engaged in a ridiculous discussion with New York Times columnist William Rhoden, with Rhoden attempting to explain why the current NBA really is like a plantation.

The conversation was baldly absurd; to our ear, it was clear that Matthews understood this. But Rhoden is black, and Matthews now works for a new pseudo-journalistic regime.

Perhaps for that reason, Matthews seemed to know that he mustn’t challenge or question Rhoden. See our next post.

Of course, Matthews himself has long behaved like a journalistic slumlord. This week, the upstanding young people at his cable channel complain about the way the NBA tolerated the slumlord in its midst.

As they do so, they themselves keep tolerating Matthews, whose disgraceful conduct down through the years has been far more destructive than anything Sterling has done.

Whatever! Sterling seems ready to rule North Korea. But on occasion, our tribal leaders may not be enormously better. That thought in mind, we direct your attention to Roxane Gay’s new piece for Salon.

Early this morning, it was the site’s featured piece. We think the piece is illustrative of a new progressive impulse which will prove quite unhelpful going forward.

Professor Gay has a problem with racism, as well she should. That said, we think she reveals an instinctive approach to our nation’s racial culture which typifies the attitude at the new Salon.

This attitude is very unwise on the merits. Beyond that, it isn’t likely to be helpful on a political basis.

Briefly put, Gay seems to want to punish them all, just as others in history have done. In this passage, Gay begins her plea for the type of punishment which will cleanse our world:
GAY (4/29/14): This week’s racist is Donald Sterling, the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. As of this writing, he has now been publicly shunned. He has been permanently banned from the NBA and fined $2.5 million, the maximum penalty allowed. The NBA has conducted a “thorough investigation” in recent days. In a letter posted on the NBA website, commissioner Adam Silver writes, “This has been a painful episode for all members of the NBA family,” demonstrating a lack of understanding of the word “painful.”

We can pretend this rebuke is, somehow, an appropriate punishment, but it isn’t. The fine, given Sterling’s net worth, is laughable. Banning Sterling from attending NBA games or participating in team management is laughable. Sterling will continue being a wealthy, racist man. Racial inequality in the United States will persist because racism, history has shown us, is not a problem that can be solved through such small-scale punishment. As of now, Sterling still owns the Clippers and will only be forced to sell if a majority of NBA team owners vote as such.
Sterling has been separated from the league. Gay, though, wants to see him punished. Indeed, she seems to want to see him punished on a large scale.

To Gay, separating Sterling from the NBA is not “an appropriate punishment.” It’s inappropriate because Sterling “will continue being a wealthy, racist man.”

(For ourselves, we oppose the death penalty in all imaginable circumstances. Does it possibly sound like Gay might like to employ it here?)

As she continues, Gay criticizes the NBA for tolerating Sterling after he settled housing discrimination suits in 2003 and 2009. That’s certainly a fair criticism, although we’ll guess that, for various reasons, you could argue it flat or round.

For ourselves, we’re much more stuck by Gay’s desire to locate and punish the racists. We’re also struck by her apparent sense of their virulence and their number.

As she closes her short essay, Gay again suggests that people like Sterling and Cliven Bundy aren’t being punished nearly enough—for their beliefs, no less. Most strikingly, she seems to think that their peculiar and/or crazy beliefs constitute the American norm:
GAY: There has been and there will continue to be vigorous discussions about race in America. I worry that little will come of these discussions because we aren’t addressing what must be done to change the current racial climate. Donald Sterling’s lack of interest in having black people at Clippers’ games is on par with rancher Cliven Bundy’s nostalgia for slavery as a means of giving black folk something to do. These men’s racial attitudes are troubling and indicative of the racist beliefs far too many people hold. More important, these men and their ilk are propped up by a system for which the consequences for extolling such beliefs are painfully inadequate. They are propped up by a system that enables voter suppression, segregation, the retrenchment of affirmative action supported by even the Supreme Court, a glass ceiling in far too many industries, and the list goes on.

What truly worries me, though, is that far too many people seem surprised when racists like Sterling or Bundy are revealed, as if these men are closer to the exception than the rule. What worries me is that I am not at all surprised when these men are revealed for who they truly are. What worries me is that “post-racial” America is not that different from the Americas that have preceded us, and it might not ever be.
In that passage, Gay considers what we must do “to change the current racial climate.” In her view, we won’t be able to change that climate given our current approaches.

The professor says that Bundy and Sterling aren’t being punished nearly enough for their beliefs. (“These men are propped up by a system for which the consequences for extolling such beliefs are painfully inadequate.”)

More strikingly, Gay seems to think that a ridiculous figure like Bundy represents the current American norm. As she closes her piece, she seems to reject the idea that Bundy’s absurd beliefs place him “closer to the exception than the rule.”

The desire to locate and punish all the bad people is a familiar impulse. That said, history remembers the Kings and the Mandelas. It tends to revile the Maos and the Stalins.

Unfortunately, Gay’s analysis captures the culture at the new Salon. Following the lead of repurposed leaders like Joan Walsh, the children at the fiery site want to find and punish the racists.

They often seem extremely sure of their own moral greatness, which seems elusive to us.

They want to punish Bundy and Sterling, then move on to the rest. This impulse is everywhere in human history. On a political and journalistic basis, it will be massively rejected in this country.

The politics of this impulse are dire. If people like Walsh and Gay didn’t exist, the plutocrats would rush to create them.

That said, we have some very good news to share. At present, most Americans are not like Bundy (details below). The fact that Gay doesn’t understand that is a truly remarkable fact.

Our guess? On balance, Americans would love to be inspired at this juncture. But to the extent that the liberal world gives itself over to punishment dreams, Americans will be prepared to elect Republicans, even into the White House.

We’d say that Gay’s eye is not on the prize. We think progressives should reject the dream of being the punishment people.

Tomorrow: More of the same

Bundy and the norm: Does Bundy represent the norm?

The American norm isn’t perfect, of course. But we would guess that you can’t even see the norm from there.

Does Bundy represent the norm? Consider this passage from Gene Lyons’ recent column at The National Memo:
LYONS (4/23/14): [M]any of my Perry County [Arkansas] friends and neighbors are cattle ranchers for real. It's damned hard making money on cows, but nobody around here imagines they can graze cattle in the Ouachita National Forest for nothing. Every single one pays for his own land, pays property taxes, pays the water bill and pays for any pasture he rents—all things Cliven Bundy takes for free from the U.S. government while styling himself a rugged individualist.

Nationally, some 18,000 ranchers lawfully graze 157 million acres of federally owned property supervised by the Bureau of Land Management, at subsidized rates. No wonder the Nevada Cattleman's Association—not exactly a left-wing organization—has stated that while its membership has perennial issues with the BLM, it encourages obeying the law and "does not feel it is our place to interfere in the process of adjudication in this matter."
18,000 ranchers pay their fees—and then, there’s Cliven Bundy! As she dreams of inflicting lots of pain, Gay pictures him as the norm.

Sterling seems to hold tragically loony beliefs. Then too, there’s the new Salon.

Welcome to Tuscaloosa’s schools!


Nobody cares about this: Last week, we recommended the lengthy report in The Atlantic about the Tuscaloosa City schools—more specifically, about the “return of segregation” to those schools over the past fifteen years.

The lengthy report, “Segregation Now...,”
was written by Nikole Hannah-Jones of ProPublica. In our view, the report is fascinating in various ways, though we don’t always mean that as a compliment.

As noted, Hannah-Jones’ report is quite lengthy. In our view, it seems to cover some parts of this story well.

We’d say it covers other parts of this story very poorly. On the brighter side, it does so in ways which help us see the shortcomings in the way public schools tend to get covered, even or perhaps especially by liberals and progressives.

After Hannah-Jones’ piece appeared, Ta-Nehisi Coates offered a fairly short post about it. This is Coates’ nugget summary of the lengthy piece:
COATES (4/18/14): Hannah-Jones profiles the schools in Tuscaloosa where business leaders are alarmed to see their school system becoming more and more black, as white parents choose to send their kids to private (nearly) all-white academies or heavily white schools outside the city. It's worth noting that the school at the center of Hannah-Jones' reporting—Central High School—was not a bad school. On the contrary, it was renowned for its football team as well its debate team.

But this did very little to slow the flight of white parents out of the district. (This is beyond the scope of Hannah-Jones's story, but I'd be very interested to hear more about the history of housing policy in the town.) Faced with the prospect of losing all, or most of their white families, Tuscaloosa effectively resegregated its schools.
Is that true? Did Tuscaloosa “effectively resegregate its schools?”

We think Coates is offering a reasonable summary of the feel of Hannah-Jones’ piece, though he overstates what she literally says. On balance, though, we’d have to reject that account of what has happened.

Did Tuscaloosa “effectively resegregate its schools?” In the next week or so, we’ll attempt to answer that question, and we’ll offer information about the schools in question. For today, we’ll offer one chunk of information—the student enrollment by race in Tuscaloosa City’s three high schools.

Hannah-Jones focuses on high schools in her piece. The Tuscaloosa City school system has three.

Here they are, with student enrollment by race, according to greatschools.org. Overall, Tuscaloosa City’s student population was 22 percent white as of 2007, according to Hannah-Jones:
Tuscaloosa City high schools:
Central High:
765 students
100 percent black

Bryant High:
944 students
75 percent black, 19 percent white

Northridge High:
1226 students
61 percent black, 35 percent white
Have those schools been “resegregated” by the Tuscaloosa board? Everybody gets to decide how to use that word! For now, let’s add some new information:

Tuscaloosa City is part of Tuscaloosa County, but it has its own school system. Outside the city limits, the Tuscaloosa County School System runs six additional high schools.

Here they are with their demographics. Again, we’re relying on great schools.org for our data, largely because the state of Alabama provides rather poor reporting:
Tuscaloosa County high schools:
Brookwood High: 91 percent white, 8 percent black
Hillcrest High: 57 percent white, 41 percent black
Holt High: 44 percent white, 51 percent black
Northside High: 96 percent white, 4 percent black
Sipsey Valley High: 73 percent white, 25 percent black
Tuscaloosa County High: 60 percent white, 36 percent black
Those nine high schools serve the students of Tuscaloosa County, which includes Tuscaloosa City. As noted, three of the schools are run by the Tuscaloosa City schools; six are run by the Tuscaloosa County school system.

Question: Have those schools been “effectively resegregated,” even the three in Tuscaloosa City? We’d call that statement a stretch.

When Tuscaloosa’s schools were legally segregated, no one went to school with kids from the other so-called race. Overall, it’s no longer anything like that.

We think it’s time for the liberal world to ask ourselves why we keep overstating such matters in ways which seem to please us so much. We’ll do more posts on Tuscaloosa in the coming days, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses in Hannah-Jones’ reporting.

We strongly recommend Hannah-Jones’ report, though only if you care about black kids, which very few liberals seem to have the time to do. Perhaps we’re too busy chasing NBA owners around, while boo-hoo-hooing about how hard the millionaire players have had it.

Boo-hoo-hoo for the poor millionaires! But does anybody care about schools, or about the poor children within them?

The way our greatest newspaper “reasons!”


In the end, this can lead to no good: In this morning’s New York Times, the editors beat on Donald Sterling.

That isn’t especially hard to do, especially if you’re willing to reason like this:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/29/14): It has been widely noted that Mr. Sterling has a history of bigotry. In 2009, Elgin Baylor, the all-star and former Clippers’ general manager, accused Mr. Sterling of racial discrimination in an unsuccessful lawsuit. That same year, Mr. Sterling, who made much of his fortune in real estate, paid $2.725 million to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit brought by the Justice Department. Another federal lawsuit filed in 2003 accused Mr. Sterling of stating that he preferred not to rent to Latinos because “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building.” Incidents of this sort are what led the Nets guard Shaun Livingston to say of the TMZ tape: “I think it kind of tells the same story as what’s been told, if you pull up the record.”
If a person is “accused” of something, does that mean he has a “history?” At the New York Times, it seems that it does!

You’d think that self-respecting journalists would avoid such clownish constructions. But on a journalistic basis, the New York Times editorial board has been an embarrassing mess for years.

Sterling has an embarrassing history, but so do quite a few others. In this morning’s sports section, Times columnist Julie Macur amplifies the story concerning Baylor:
MACUR (4/29/14): Now the Sterling problem has exploded in everyone's face, and it's time for the league and the team owners to act. None of them can feign ignorance. For years, they had their chance to stand up and be counted, to point out that Sterling was a dangerous liability for the league, and to press for his departure from their ranks.

Instead, they stepped aside while others complained about him, to no avail.

In 1988, he supposedly told Danny Manning's agent, ''I'm offering a lot of money for a poor black kid.'' That quote came from a discrimination lawsuit filed by Baylor, the Hall of Fame forward, in 2009.

That suit also accused Sterling of running his franchise with the mentality of a Southern plantation owner,
as a man who preferred a team of ''poor black boys from the South'' who were ''playing for a white coach.''

Baylor lost the lawsuit, but among the most shocking parts of it—just like the most shocking aspect of the most recent accusations against Sterling—was how long Baylor put up with ''the Southern plantation'' mentality before standing up for himself.

It took him 23 years.

Even then, Baylor—one of the best players in league history—made his charges only after he had been fired.
Even Macur almost seems to assume the accuracy of Baylor’s various charges.

Is it possible that Baylor may have embellished a tad in some of his more thrilling statements? If not, why did he hang around on that plantation for those 23 years?

At present, we’re chasing a scapegoat through the streets. When we do that, all claims are assumed to be accurate. Everyone enjoys the old-fashioned thrill of a good, cleansing chase.

Journalists are supposed to temper the mob at such moments. That said, we’ve had very few journalists in our press corps in recent decades.

We’re in a frenzy, and frenzies are fun. In the process, our eyes are kept off the prize—and make no mistake:

The “press corps” which stages this frenzy today will turn around on a moment’s notice. They will stage another frenzy, one aimed at you and yours.

This syndrome has played out for decades. Liberal and progressive goals have been massacred in the process.

EYES OFF THE PRIZE: Willie Geist knows script!


Part 1—Bungling Magic Johnson: It would be hard to find a more obvious pseudo-discussion than the current pseudo-discussion, the enthralling pseudo-discussion about the weird, incoherent and pitiful things Donald Sterling apparently said.

All the pundits know what to say as they stage this pseudo-discussion. For starters, all our national pundits admit to being brighter and more upstanding than Sterling is!

To appearances, it isn’t hard to be brighter and more upstanding than Sterling in the arena of race. Sterling seems to be almost as clueless as Cliven Bundy, the pundit corps’ previous feel-good scapegoat.

It isn’t hard to be brighter than Sterling! For that reason, Sterling’s recent apparent comments have touched off the type of discussion our millionaire pundit corps loves.

Alas! These low-calorie pseudo-discussions substitute for real discussions about the real issues dogging our plutocrat-infested society. Your pundits will carefully avoid those issues, even the fearless millionaire pundits who tell you they’re “on the left.”

The laziness of these millionaire pundits ought to be a legend by now. For one example, consider what Willie Geist said.

In the first segment of today’s Morning Joe, the pundits were all reciting their lines about the Sterling affair. To watch the whole segment, click here.

In fairness, Mika made the first misstatement about the Magic Johnson connection (text below). But soon, Scarborough threw to Geist.

Years before, the vapid, obedient legacy hire joined Tucker Carlson in mocking the notion of climate change. This morning, the vapid fellow began reciting the current script about Sterling.

Can your spot the mistaken impression conveyed in Geist’s presentation today? Much more importantly, can you see what this suggests about Geist himself?
GEIST (4/29/14): There’s so much to say about this, but it’s amazing, when you start at the very beginning. It shows how deep, if this tape is in fact Donald Sterling, how deep his racism is, that he was upset that this woman brought Magic Johnson to a Clippers game.

SCARBOROUGH: I was going to say—

GEIST: —arguably the most beloved athlete in the United States of America.


It’s terrible on its face, but then when you go deeper into it— It was Magic, he was upset that Magic Johnson was at his game! He’s lucky Magic Johnson was at his game. There’s so much here.
Ignore the unintended comedy of Geist’s disclaimer. Have you spotted the bogus impression conveyed in that presentation?

More importantly, have you seen what this tells us about Geist?

Here’s the misimpression:

Listening to Geist, a person would get the impression that Sterling was angry because his girl friend, the apparently pitiful V. Stiviano, “brought Magic Johnson to a Clippers game.”

If Geist had listened to the original, nine-minute TMZ tape, he would know that isn’t what the lovebirds were arguing about. He’d know there is no indication that Viviano ever took Johnson anywhere, let alone to a Clippers game.

The logic is often hard to follow on the nine-minute tape. But the reason for Sterling’s anger is clear. Plainly, Sterling is angry because Stiviano posted a photo of herself with Johnson on Instagram.

At one point, Stiviano says she doesn’t know Johnson personally; she simply took a photo with him, a man she admires, at a public event. There is no indication that she ever brought Johnson to a Clippers game, and that clearly isn’t what she and Sterling are fighting about.

None of this matters, of course, if we’re trying to judge Sterling. But if we’re trying to understand the work of our national pundit corps, we see that Geist is so lazy and so unprofessional that he apparently hasn’t bothered listening to the actual TMZ tape.

That original TMZ tape is only nine minutes long! To appearances, Geist has been too lazy to review it. He knows the general shape of the script—and that is all that ever matters to the vapid people who shape our pseudo-discussions.

Years ago, Geist was kissing the ascot of Tucker Carlson as he ascended the ladder at NBC. At the time, Carlson had a daily show on MSNBC. Geist served as one of his sidekicks.

This is part of the script Geist recited on one pathetic occasion:
GEIST (12/12/06): Tucker, I have got some real news for you. Al Gore seems intent upon not losing another close election, so he is everywhere these days, campaigning for an Oscar for his global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

The former vice president has been on Oprah, the Tonight Show, the Today Show and every show in between, plugging the film’s DVD release. On Saturday, he’ll host a nationwide network of 1,600 house parties to watch and discuss that movie. The Oscar nominations are due out late next month…

CARLSON: Have you seen the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth]?

GEIST: No, I have not seen it.

CARLSON: I suspect it’s a shade, what’s the word? Pedantic.

GEIST: Yes, I didn’t see it because I had paint to watch dry that weekend, so I couldn’t get to it. But Hollywood would like nothing more than to help propel him to the White House. So, don’t be surprised if gets it [an Oscar].

CARLSON: Good point!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

In that instance, Geist was mocking an important film, a film he was too lazy and unprofessional to watch. He was also pimping the script about fake/phony stupid old Hollywood.

This morning, he was reciting the script about an audiotape he has apparently been too lazy to review. As people like Geist perform these roles, real discussion is avoided. Plutocrat power grows.

In fairness to Geist, this is what all these people are like. Earlier this morning, Mika had introduced this topic of Sterling’s comments in this manner:
BRZEZINSKI: The recordings in question allegedly capture Sterling for allegedly scolding his mistress at the time for—unnnhh—for bringing African-American men to Clippers games and posting photos of them on her Instagram account.
That isn’t what Sterling is scolding her for. To all appearances, Mika hasn’t listened to the tape either.

After Willie took his turn, Scarborough briefly jumped in with a question about Johnson, an iconic Los Angeles Laker. Why would Johnson attend a Clippers game?

Briefly, Willie was flummoxed:
GEIST: It was Magic—he was upset that Magic Johnson was at his game! He’s lucky Magic Johnson was at his game. There’s so much here.

SCARBOROUGH: Which raises a question—why was Magic Johnson at a Clippers game?

GEIST: I think the picture actually was at—they had Dodgers gear on.

SCARBOROUGH: Actually, I’m joking.
Phew! Willie escaped! But the whole Morning Joe segment conveyed a bogus impression about the nature of the argument. There was no sign that anyone on this pundit crew had devoted even nine minutes to playing the original TMZ tape.

This latest shallow script is an easy script for pundits. But as they condemn the latest scapegoat for his troubling racism, they keep us away from real discussions about society’s actual structures, including those involving race.

Everyone gets to kill the pig! No one gets challenged or enlightened about anything that actually matters.

As pundits recite these easy scripts, they work to keep our eyes off the prize. The work on cable last night was abysmal. Tonight, you’ll see more of the same.

Tomorrow: Leifer’s joke

Willie nails Hillary Clinton: Back in 2007, Willie was helping Tucker push his script about Hillary Clinton.

At the time, MSNBC was the market leader in undisguised misogyny. Liberals were happily refusing to say that, of course:
GEIST (7/16/07): Well, I think the metaphor in this next story, Tucker, is pretty clear. So I will just report the straight fact. The newest collectors’ item on the presidential campaign trail is a Hillary Clinton nutcracker. They’re going like hot cakes in Rochester, Minnesota, where the idea for the nutcracker was hatched.

It’s a Hillary doll with serrated stainless steel thighs that, well, crack nuts. If you can’t make to it Minnesota to pick one up, you can go to HillaryNutcracker.com and that could be yours for the low, low price of $19.95. They`ll also throw in a bag of Hillary nuts for five bucks.

I don’t know what they’re getting at here, Tucker. What do you think they`re saying about Hillary?

CARLSON: I don’t know, but that is so perfect. I have often said, when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.

GEIST: I know you do.

CARLSON: I’m getting one, by the way.

GEIST: Go to the website. It sounded like a little country store in Rochester, Minnesota. This guy just had the idea. Now they’re literally flying off the shelves, so he had to start a website. And people can’t get enough of these things.

You have covered a lot of campaigns. You always get these sorts of keepsakes that come with the campaign. I think this will be one of the best.
These are the ways people like Geist worm their way to the top. This week, he’s wasting our time with denunciations of the world’s craziest man. So is everyone else.

If you swallow crap like this, you'll never get anything else. So far, the liberal world has swallowed this crap from players like Geist every step of the way.

Donald Sterling, even better than Bundy!

MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2014

Full services start up tomorrow: We’re headed home on Amtrak. Full services resume here tomorrow.

That said:

In our view, the weekend’s most appalling news report appeared in yesterday’s New York Times. It concerns the way average people get conned by propaganda and disinformation.

Reporting from West Virginia, Jackie Calmes explained why some low-income people failed to enroll for subsidized health insurance or perhaps for Medicaid. They believed various crazy claims about Obamacare:
CALMES (4/27/14): “Literally, people thought there would be chips embedded in their bodies if they signed up for Obamacare,” Mr. Bryant said.

Far to the east, at a branch of the Shenandoah Valley Medical System in Martinsburg, Sara R. Koontz, a social worker, said she had heard people express fears about chip implants as well as “death panels” as she sought to enroll uninsured residents. Some told her that they would rather pay a penalty than sign up for insurance, she said, and even people who did enroll paused in their excitement to ask, “Wait—this isn’t that Obamacare, is it?”

Stoking such sentiments in order to rouse conservatives to vote is central to Republicans’ hopes of not only keeping their House majority but perhaps recapturing the Senate.
These people believed the bogus claims which were spread far and wide. For that reason, they refused to sign up for affordable health care.

Of course, cons and deceptions of this type have driven our discourse for decades. For the past two decades, Sean Hannity has played a leading role in spreading bogus claims about Social Security, federal taxes, and whatever else was current.

Now, we liberals are in a fury because of Hannity’s pimping of the ridiculous Cliven Bundy. Meanwhile, Bundy got pushed from the headlines this weekend by the pitiful apparent statements of 81-year-old Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner.

We liberals are aflame, sometimes happily so, about the pitiful statements by Bundy and Sterling. How inane were Sterling’s statements?

So inane that the Los Angeles NAACP has dropped plans to present him with a lifetime achievement award next month! For more information, click here.

We’ll be honest. We think the focus on Bundy and Sterling is in some ways unimpressive. We’re wondering why it takes such ridiculous statements by such ridiculous figures to rouse our liberal world.

Sterling has been considered a ridiculous figure for years. We’re wondering why he was slated to receive that lifetime achievement award, though we can imagine several answers.

Beyond that, we’re thinking about the liberal world’s failure to confront Hannity, and other purveyors of disinformation, down through these many years.

(Just for the record, Sterling’s ridiculous statements were made in private, to his ridiculous girlfriend. Hannity’s endless bogus statements have been made in the open air, to millions of people.)

We liberals! We’re very good at ridiculing the dumbest people in the world. But what has kept us, down through the years, from creating a winning politics?

The liberal world is up and roaring today. As all those people go uninsured, we’re a bit less than impressed.

Meanwhile, this just in: Yesterday, she made it official. As it turns out, Maureen Dowd is prepared to announce that she’s brighter than Bundy too.

Again, we think of the punch line to Carole Leifer’s joke. How far down the evolutionary scale do we have to venture?

Major pundits are brighter than Bundy!


Or at least, so they claim: By now, the point has been clearly established. Many major American pundits are brighter than Cliven Bundy.

In this morning’s New York Times, Gail Collins and Charles Blow establish the fact that they are brighter than Bundy. In her column, Collins lists the things we’ve learned “from the Crazy Rancher Guy saga.” In his own piece, Blow is able to recognize “the Mount Kilimanjaro-size amounts of ignorance packed into” two recent statements by the rancher guy.

In truth, it isn’t hard to be brighter than Bundy, who hails from the far perimeter of the outer reaches of the edge of the fringe. Still, pundits are staging a familiar type of festival in reaction to his recent racial pronouncements.

Here’s how this round-up works:

In this familiar old manifestation, observers find the most clueless person in a very large nation. They then spend the next several weeks (1) announcing that they are sharper than this person and (2) engaging in shaky acts of generalization, in which they say or suggest that everyone who isn’t Just Like Them is very much like the despised.

How many Americans are actually like Cliven Bundy? Like the nation’s pundits, we have no real idea. For ourselves, though, we will say this:

Bundy is one of our most clueless citizens—but he’s just an isolated rancher from somewhere past the boondocks. By way of contrast, Blow and Collins are major journalists based in New York, a large, influential city.

For that reason, we hold Collins and Blow to a different standard. And, in light of their advantages—because of their “privilege”—we aren’t sure that Collins and Blow are a whole lot brighter than Bundy.

For ourselves, we’ve been most struck by the Bundy-busting of (1) Chris Hayes and (2) Joan Walsh. We thought Hayes engaged in open play-acting on Friday night’s program. And we’d say that Friday’s post by Walsh helps answer an important question: How does it look when liberals get propagandized?

We’ll start to discuss these topics on Monday. In our view, it’s troubling to see players like Hayes and Walsh performing in the way they’ve done in the past few days.

Granted, Bundy is deeply clueless. But in this age of corporate media, how much more discerning are we, over here in our sad liberal tribe?

We’re off on a mission of national import!

FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2014

Won’t post until tomorrow: We’re off on a mission of national import involving a limited tour of the nation’s Medicaid-funded facilities.

We won’t be posting until tomorrow. Today, we’re recalling the classic, decade-long Fox News hysteria concerning The New Black Panther Party.

The liberal world finally noticed this nonsense in 2010. By that time, Hannity & Colmes had been using the Panthers to stoke tribal fears on a regular basis for years.

The New Black Panthers were a thoroughly insignificant group. But they were repeatedly hosted by Hannity and Colmes as a way to stoke fear and excitement, and of course to build tribal identity.

Watching MSNBC last night, we thought of the many years of thrills provided by the New Black Panthers.

To recall one example from 2003, just click here. To what extent is the pitiful Cliven Bundy our equal-but-opposite tribal thrill-and-fear child?

We’re not sure what we think about that. But the question occurred to us last night, perhaps at the time when the Chris Hayes guest, an assistant professor at Fordham, offered these deathless thoughts:

“Many right-wingers, especially Tea Partiers, refuse to recognize that they are the original welfare kings, right? They’re the ones who went to public schools. They’re the ones who have the GI Bill. They’re the ones who lived off of the fat-cat government for so long...”

Did you realize you’re a welfare king if you went to public school? Festivals of the current type can turn human brains to mush.

In the post to which we link above, you can see Hannity and Colmes, in 2003, turning conservative brains into mush. Warning! As we lord it over the pitiful Bundy, the same thing can happen to us.

It’s easy to find the world’s biggest kook and create a sense of peril, excitement and justification. It’s good for ratings and tribal fervor.

It may not be all that great for the human brain or the soul.

The way we liberal rubes get played!


Intimations of what Rand Paul said: We know, we know—we already wrote about Joan Walsh today.

Still, we thought her piece about Cliven Bundy and Rand Paul was an instant, appalling classic.

Yesterday, Bundy offered some rather under-baked thoughts concerning forty million of his fellow citizens. This morning, Joan moved in.

We were struck by the things she said about Rand Paul. Every liberal gets to decide if he or she wants to be treated this way.

Joan was snorting and yelling again, as she constantly does in her new incarnation. Forget her remarks about Bundy himself, the easiest target in the west. Consider the things she says, or doesn’t quite say, about the vile Senator Paul:
WALSH (4/24/14): Surprise! Sean Hannity’s hero, whose cause has been embraced by Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada and Rand Paul of Kentucky along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, turns out to be an old-time Republican racist, the kind that even Jonathan Chait recognizes, and Fox News and the GOP have a problem.

Until now I’ve ignored Bundy because he’s an extremist and a freak, and even Glenn Beck has denounced him. I was reluctant to use him against the GOP. But as he’s gotten support from the likes of Paul and Perry, two respected 2016 candidates, plus regular backing from Hannity and Nevada Sen. Heller, he’s become a huge problem for the right.


Asked about Bundy’s virulently racist remarks by the Times, Rand Paul was “not available for immediate comment.” What courage. At least Dean Heller’s office immediately condemned the “appalling and racist statements.” Here’s a tip for Rand Paul: You’re a libertarian. Give your staff the liberty to tell the media you abhor racist comments, even if you’re not around. (Update: Paul released a statement condemning Bundy’s remarks Thursday morning.)

It was only yesterday—literally—that National Journal was telling us that Paul was now the leading Republican tackling issues of poverty and race, after Paul Ryan stumbled, having pretended to care about the poor while his budget slashed programs that help them to give tax cuts to the rich. Unfortunately, as “Rand Paul’s Compassionate Conservatism” was being published, Paul was talking to Fox’s Megyn Kelly and blaming Chicago’s recent spate of violence on “thuggishness” and the inability of Chicago’s thugs to distinguish between “right and wrong.”

Let’s face it: Paul’s been a better ally to Cliven Bundy than to the inner-city poor. I’m not saying he would endorse Bundy’s remarks about “Negroes”; he knows better than that. At least I think he does. But culturally and politically, he’s quicker to empathize with the lawbreaker in Nevada than those thugs in Chicago.


Here’s hoping that Rand Paul denounces Bundy’s remarks early Thursday. It won’t change the sad fact that way too many people who think like Paul politically think like Bundy racially.
According to those passages, Bundy has “gotten support from” Rand Paul. Even worse, Paul has “embraced Bundy’s cause.”

Do you notice Joan offering any quotations to that effect by Paul? As we said, every liberal can decide if he or she wants to get played in these ways.

As she continues, Walsh snarks at Paul for “condemning Bundy’s remarks Thursday morning.” Her piece condemning Bundy’s remarks also appeared Thursday morning.

In that next paragraph, Walsh brilliantly cherry-picks Paul’s varied remarks to Megyn Kelly this Tuesday night. She does manage to quote four words, one of which is “and.”

(For the record, we don’t think we've ever referred to people as “thugs.” But the “thugs” to whom Paul briefly referred had shot and killed people in Chicago that weekend.)

In the penultimate quoted paragraph, we’re told that Paul has been “an ally to” Bundy. Joan says she thinks that Paul knows better than to endorse Bundy’s pitiful racial remarks.

In the last quoted paragraph, Joan’s Wisconsin background really came shining through. We get the famous, and very familiar, guilt by association.

We’re sorry, but this is the very familiar work of a very familiar type of figure. It’s truly puzzling to us that Walsh has descended this far.

That said, if you read the comments to Walsh’s post, including the long string of Mormon-hating remarks, you will see that Salon is creating an impressive tribe of low-IQ, pseudo-liberal cretins.

Walsh slimes Paul every step of the way, never quite managing to quote any of his actual statements. Why didn’t she offer the actual quotes in which Paul “embraces Bundy’s cause?”

The answer should be completely obvious, even to tribals like us.

Joan is just conning the rubes once again. Here is an anthropological fact, a fact about our human race:

Our ditto-heads, like their ditto-heads, seem to adore getting conned.

In search of Eduardo Porter!


Also in search of the very high cost of our American health care: Eduardo Porter is one of the nation’s most interesting journalists.

His “Economic Scene” analysis column appears in the New York Times every Wednesday. The column appears on the front page of the Business Day section.

Porter’s columns are rather lengthy and they’re always intelligent or intelligent-seeming. Perhaps for those reasons, we don’t think we’ve ever seen his name mentioned in the national discourse.

Consider yesterday’s piece, which ran 1255 words. As he started, Porter cited a troubling prediction about health care costs.

That said, there’s something else we want you to notice about that column.

The column bore an unhappy headline:
“Acceleration Is Forecast for Spending on Health.” As he started, Porter recalled an upbeat prediction about health care spending—an upbeat prediction from 1993 which turned out to be wrong:
PORTER (4/23/14): Standing before a roomful of economists, policy makers and health care experts earlier this month, Amitabh Chandra, director of Health Policy Research at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, closed a presentation about the slowdown in health care spending over the last decade by citing an article in The New York Times.

''Changes in the way doctors and hospitals are paid—how much and by whom—have begun to curb the steady rise of health care costs in the New York region,'' the article declared. ''Costs are still going up faster than overall inflation, but the annual rate of increase is the lowest in 21 years.''

Then came the punch line. The article, written by my now-retired colleague Milt Freudenheim, was published in December 1993, when the so-called managed care revolution promised for a few hopeful years to...curb the breakneck rise in health care costs for good.

It is a sobering reminder that the recent improvements could wither away just as they did two decades ago.
Alas! That upbeat prediction from 1993 turned out to be wrong. At the time, it looked like health care costs were being reined in. Then they took off again.

In yesterday’s column, Porter discussed some of the reasons why that ancient prediction failed. He also discussed the possibility that our current lull in health care spending might soon go away too:
PORTER (continuing directly): And that experience undergirds, in part, a fairly ominous forecast by Mr. Chandra, Jonathan Skinner of Dartmouth College and Jonathan Holmes of Harvard that spending on health care, which already consumes nearly 18 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, will continue to grow 1.2 percentage points faster than the economy over the next 20 years.

''It's very scary,'' Professor Chandra told me.

At the very least, it suggests that health care reform is by no means over. The Affordable Care Act may well be on track to meeting its primary goal of providing coverage for most uninsured Americans and protecting everyone against the risk of losing their insurance. But for all its innovative proposals to flush waste out of the system, reining in health care spending still appears well beyond the grasp of Obamacare.
For ourselves, we can’t judge these predictions and assessments. That said, no one else is going to judge them either. For whatever reason, Porter’s semi-egghead columns never seem to produce any external discussion.

Does Porter know what he’s talking about? In the case of this topic, we don’t know. But he’s in a somewhat gloomy mood as he considers the possibility that recent slowing in the growth of health costs may not continue long.

We think it’s interesting that Porter’s work is never discussed. We thought yesterday’s piece was intriguing for a second reason—because of that famous old hound, the dog that didn’t bark.

Porter wrote his usual lengthy, erudite piece. He talked about the terrible difficulties this country seems to have in controlling the costs of health care.

Here’s what Porter didn’t do—he never mentioned the baseline from which our growth in health care spending starts.

Per person, we already spend two to three times as much on health care as other developed nations. Starting from a baseline like that, you’d almost think it would be easy to find ways to reduce our health care spending, let alone rein in the growth.

But in an erudite seeming piece, Porter never mentioned the crazy baseline from which our growth in spending starts. Readers weren't asked to process the fact that we already spend twice as much per person (or more) as everyone else in the developed world.

As Humphrey Bogart once said: Our of all the health care systems in the world, we had to get born into ours!

Since we already spend so much, why should our health care spending continue to rise? We have told you many time—the data we post below seem to be carefully kept from American eyes.

A conspiracy theorist would say this: American citizens aren’t allowed to know about our nation’s rising test scores. And we also aren’t allowed to know about our crazy health care spending.

These are the craziest data we know about.
In big newspapers like the Times, these data are verboten:
Health care spending, per person, 2011:
United States: $8508
Canada: $4522
Germany: $4495
France: $4118
Australia: $3800
United Kingdom: $3405
Japan: $3213
Spain: $3072
Italy: $3012
All that extra money disappears from American pay checks. And remember, that figure’s per person.

Who knows? Maybe Eduardo Porter is nuts and that’s why no one discusses his work.

His columns never strike us that way. But even Porter doesn’t mention our highly exceptional level of American health care spending.

You’re allowed to discuss the way it goes up, pretty much not where it starts.

WAYS TO DIVIDE: Greatest method of all!


Part 4—Division through race: We liberals have a great many ways to divide the 99 percent.

When the 99 percent divide, the one percent tend to conquer. For that reason, it isn’t wise to split into tribes unless we really need to.

Alas! In emerging pseudo-liberal culture, we love to divide ourselves into tribes! Consider some recent reactions to something David Brooks said.

Last Sunday, Brooks appeared on Meet the Press. At one point, he engaged in this exchange with Chuck Todd concerning the challenge facing Obama due to Russian conduct in Ukraine:
TODD (4/20/14): There is this fear, as you know. [Obama] doesn't want this to become the rest of his presidency, you know. But in many ways, he is being tested here in some way on how he handles Ukraine.

So for instance, I'm about to hop on a plane in two days. We're going on this Asia trip. And oh, by the way, Japan has an issue with islands with China; Korea has some territorial issues. There are a lot of countries in Asia that have territorial issues with China. How is the United States, where are they going to sit when this decides to raise its head and become an issue there? So that's why this does matter globally, sort of how the White House responds to this. And they have no interest right now in doing sectoral things.

BROOKS: I mean, basically, since Yalta we’ve had an assumption that borders are basically going to be borders. And once that comes into question, if in Ukraine or in Crimea or anywhere else, then all over the world—

TODD: All bets are off.

BROOKS: All bets are off. And let's face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a—I'll say it crudely—but a manhood problem in the Middle East: Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad, somebody like Putin?

I think a lot of the rap is unfair. But certainly in the Middle East, there's an assumption he's not tough enough.
In the highlighted passage, Brooks spoke sixty words about a problem, “a rap,” Obama was said to be facing.

At two or three different junctures, Brooks made a key point. He said he didn’t necessarily agree with “the rap,” the “assumption he’s not tough enough.”

Brooks said Obama’s problem may not be deserved. He said he thinks a lot of the rap is unfair.

Meanwhile, as he described the rap against Obama, Brooks said he would put it crudely. He said Obama has “a manhood problem in the Middle East.” He said there’s an assumption on somebody’s part that Obama isn’t “tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad [or] Putin.”

Who is making that assumption about Obama? David Gregory didn’t ask, and Brooks didn’t say.

Is anyone making that assumption? For ourselves, we have no idea—but rather plainly, Brooks was describing someone else’s assumption.

Alas! Everyone knew how We the Liberals would react to Brooks’ statement. At Salon, an R-bomb was dropped. These exciting headlines sat atop a furious piece by Paul Rosenberg:
David Brooks’ twisted “manhood”: Questioning Obama’s masculinity isn’t just racist, it’s wrong
Obama foreign policy's rooted in successful realist tradition. Questioning his manhood is rooted in white supremacy
At Salon, headlines rarely correspond to the contents of the article. Keeping that basic point in mind, this is the way Rosenberg started his analysis, which we’d have to call unfortunate:
ROSENBERG (4/22/14): This just in: New York Times columnist David Brooks and NBC’s Chuck Todd want you to know that President Obama has “a manhood problem”—or at least the appearance of one. That’s the conclusion the two white men reached on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, following comments by another white man, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker warned, “I think we’re going to lose eastern Ukraine,” which would be “a geopolitical disaster,” resulting from “an era of permissiveness the U.S. has created around the world.”

But that perception doesn’t only belong to Republicans. No, it was international, Brooks claimed.
At this point, Rosenberg quoted the passage from Brooks which we highlighted above. After quoting Todd’s reply to Brooks, Rosenberg continued his analysis:

“There’s so much BS involved here, one hardly knows where to start. Because it can cloud out everything else, it’s best to hold back the black masculinity aspect, and start with foreign policy facts.”

Rosenberg saved “the black masculinity aspect” for later.

As Rosenberg started his analysis, he struggled to observe a distinction which was obvious in Brooks’ statement—Brooks was describing someone else’s view of Obama, not his own. Rosenberg even linked to Steve Benen, who had had the same problem.

But, more than anything else, Rosenberg ended up tossing his R-bombs around, just as the headline writer had done.

In Rosenberg’s view, three “white men”—Corker, Brooks and Todd—had been wallowing in an analysis which involved a “black masculinity aspect.” Before he was done, Rosenberg went through a long exegesis of the problem with what the three white men said, which seemed to be driven by “white male anxiety about black manhood.”

Or something. No sane person could hope to follow these latest ramblings at Salon.

Rosenberg’s racial approach to this exchange is typical of the new Salon. The approach is common elsewhere in the emerging pseudo-liberal world.

In our opinion, Rosenberg’s piece is amazingly dumb, in at least several ways. But it’s guaranteed to divide the 99 percent into those who can swallow this scripted approach to the three white men versus those others who can’t.

Rosenberg’s instant racial approach is common at the new Salon. It made us think of a recent post by Joan Walsh.

Bill O’Reilly had interviewed John Calipari, the University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach. In our view, O’Reilly seemed to be wildly out of touch with the world of contemporary college basketball. He painted an unflattering view of the culture of the sport, in a way which might easily reinforce a range of racial stereotypes.

In O’Reilly’s defense, his entire discussion proceeded from one of his basic frameworks, a framework which isn’t completely wrong. He kept assuming that “the coarsening of the culture” was affecting college athletes in extremely negative ways.

To us, O’Reilly’s interview was largely dumb and rather unfortunate. He seemed to think that college basketball players are being bestialized by the culture.

For what it’s worth, our own assessment of college basketball culture is quite different. It seems to us that college players have never been so disciplined and so amazingly hard-working, especially on defense.

We’re sorry, but college players bust their keisters in ways seldom seen in the past. Across the board, college players have rarely been such superb role models.

We thought O’Reilly’s interview was unfortunate. We thought Salon’s instant misquotation of Calipari was a sign of the times—times in which our college athletes are much more disciplined than our pseudo-journalists.

A day or so later, Walsh jumped into the fray, eager to call O’Reilly names and settle various scores. By now, Salon had corrected its misquotation, so she was spared the indignity of pushing that error in her own account of O’Reilly’s interview.

In our view, Walsh still overstated the extent of Calipari’s differences with O’Reilly. In our view, she mainly seemed interested in settling a pair of scores:
WALSH (4/16/14): It took me a day to catch Bill O’Reilly’s dreadful interview with University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, which mainly consists of O’Reilly hectoring Calipari to tell him what it’s like to coach those people—you know, the ones raised on “hip-hop stuff.” Can we finally conclude, together, that O’Reilly no longer deserves the “presumption of innocence” when it comes to race? Can we all acknowledge that the essence of his show is racial fear-mongering? It’s been clear to me for a long time, but not to others. It ought to be now.

Poor Calipari was on the show to promote his book, “Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out,” which O’Reilly clearly didn’t read, since he set out to stigmatize the very players Calipari puts first.
Has Walsh read Calipari’s book? Of course she hasn’t! But she was settling scores with O’Reilly, who no longer deserves the “presumption of innocence when it comes to race,” and with Jonathan Chait, who had dared to criticize Walsh, saying that O’Reilly did deserve that presumption with respect to a different statement.

We don’t think much of Walsh’s current approach to such matters. We don’t think much of her heroic yelling, which follows a decade of silent ass-kissing aimed at the authority figures running the mainstream media.

We don’t know why Walsh has reinvented herself in this loud heroic manner—why she has gone from useful keister-kisser to loud racial archangel. That said, each approach has helped her advance, though we can’t say that’s why she adopted these poses.

We will say this:

Among the three million ways to split into tribes, race provides the easiest route. Walsh, who was such a quisling not long ago, is a very loud loudmouth now.

Can we tell you why we don’t think much of Walsh’s approach? It’s because she lives to trash O’Reilly, not to praise black kids.

Last weekend, by happenstance, we had the chance to sit around with some college athletes! They were in Baltimore for a two-day, dozen-school track meet at Morgan State. One of their coaches is married to our niece!

We were very impressed by those athletes. They’ll never make money from track and field. They aren’t competing in pursuit of a score.

One of them is a favorite of our 7-year-old great niece, who was along for the ride. After sitting around with that young woman and one of her teammates, it was pretty obvious why.

At one point, Calipari told O’Reilly that his athletes come from good homes. At the start of that exchange, O’Reilly is acting on his assumption that these kids today have been coarsened beyond belief:
O'REILLY (4/14/14): But do they act differently toward you [than in the past]? I mean, do they use four-letter words towards you?

CALIPARI: No, no, no, not—

O'REILLY: None of that. So you impose strict discipline on them?

CALIPARI: Oh, yes, yes. But here's what I would tell you. These kids come from good homes. You know, people will say, “Well, he doesn't have a father.” Some of the best kids I coached were raised by a grandmother who was so firm that they understood.

O'REILLY: So, you evaluate their character before you give them the scholarships.

CALIPARI: If I walk in a home and a young man disrespects his mother or grandfather, grandmother in front of me, I'm out. Because if that's the case, he respects no one. He's not going to respect me.
In our view, O’Reilly was unfortunate throughout. But we’ll promise you this:

The high jumper our great niece likes doesn’t come from an economically upper-end home. (This year, several of Calipari’s star players did.) But she does come from a very good home. Sitting and talking to her and her teammate, it would have been hard to draw some different conclusion.

The city of Baltimore is full of impressive black kids. We see them every day, in various locations and settings.

And not only that—black kids’ test scores are way up. In reading and in math, black kids all over the country are scoring much better than their parents and grandparents did.

Other data all point in good directions. But people like Walsh never stoop to the task of conveying good news to the public.

They live to call O’Reilly names. They refuse to tell the public about those rising test scores.

Joan Walsh doesn’t seem to like black kids. After years of astonishing silence, few things could be more clear.

In our view, people like Rosenberg are the bane of progressives’ existence. It feels so good to drop those bombs. It makes us liberals feel so much better than all the rest.

Walsh, who may be worse than O’Reilly, “earns” her living dogging him down. But have you ever seen Salon inform the country about the rising test scores of black kids?

We don’t mean to sound condescending here. In the end, each college athlete, each third-grader, is just him- or herself.

But citizens are constantly being told that nothing works in our public schools, especially in the cities. Walsh, who has a very high platform, refuses to challenge this.

She refuses to tell the world the good news. She’s too busy trashing O’Reilly, thus affirming her own moral greatness.

Many people would be happy and impressed if someone bothered to tell them about our black kids’ greatness. Long ago, Langston Hughes imagined such a day in a very short, famous poem.

Hughes’ poem bounced around in our heads after we talked to those college athletes. But the new Salon seems to live to divide the world, thus helping the one percent conquer.

Coming next week: Tuscaloosa

Update: We’re sure that Walsh means well, or something like that. Then too, on many occasions, we’ve seen O'Reilly get things right.

Might a little tenderness, a little praise, perhaps a bit of understanding, move us into the future?

Watching Us become more like Them!


The new Salon, misquoting Sean: In the last two nights, Sean Hannity responded to criticism of his coverage of the Cliven Bundy matter.

Last night, he repeatedly stated his position. He repeatedly said that the BLM showed a “lack of proportionality” in the way they approached the situation two weeks back.

We can’t necessarily say that’s untrue.

On Monday night, at the end of his show, Hannity did a shorter segment in which he pushed back against criticism from Big Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton. Below, you see part of what he said.

For the record, we’ve watched the tape and proofread the transcript, including the part we’ve highlighted.

This is what Hannity actually said. If you want to double-check what was said, you can watch the tape too:
HANNITY (4/21/14): Welcome back to Hannity. I’ve had enough with NBC News. Over the past couple of weeks, they’ve spent countless segments attacking little old me. Here is just one example of leftwing loudmouth—kind of a buffoon—Ed Schultz criticizing this show’s coverage, of which I’m proud of, of the Bundy ranch standoff with the feds. Take a look:

SCHULTZ (videotape): Fox News and Sean Hannity should be ashamed of their coverage of this lawbreaker and this law-breaking Nevada rancher and his family. I think Sean Hannity is cheerleading for armed conflict with the federal government. Hannity and Fox News are playing with fire.

HANNITY: No, the federal government, their lack of proportionality and sense over a bill—are they going to send 200 armed agents to everybody’s house? Snipers to everybody’s house? Really?

Well, we’re not ashamed of our coverage. We’re actually proud of our coverage.

Now, there’s not one thing that Ed Schultz said was true. But guess what? If I was a network exec over at NBC News, I might be ashamed of having this man work for me.
At that point, Hannity played tape of some of Big Ed’s greatest hits of the past few years, including his famous denunciation of Laura Ingraham as “this right-wing slut,” “a talk slut.” Fuller transcript below.

We’ve highlighted the significant part of what Hannity said—and yes, we’ve proofread our transcript against the tape. We cite this matter because of what Salon readers have now been told about Hannity’s statement.

At Salon, Richard Eskow has posted this piece about Hannity’s coverage.

You can’t blame Eskow for Salon’s excited front-page headlines, which are now part of the way the site functions. (“BLOOD ON SEAN HANNITY'S HANDS/Cliven Bundy’s ‘range war’ is only getting more tense—and Fox News seems determined to touch off the tinderbox.”) In our view, Salon’s excited, premature talk about blood is hard to distinguish from the charges being made against Hannity.

You can’t blame Eskow for Salon’s headlines. But this is the way Eskow reports what Hannity said Monday night:
ESKOW (4/23/14): Now Hannity has responded to criticisms of his Bundy coverage by MSNBC’s Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton Jr. by attacking them personally. He also made a cryptic comment in response to Schultz’s claim that “I think Sean Hannity is cheerleading for armed conflict with the federal government.”

Hannity responded: “Now, the No. 1 thing that Ed Schultz said was true, but guess what? If I was a network exec at NBC News I might be ashamed of having this man work for me.”

However you interpret those words, it’s clear that Hannity will not be held accountable to a reasonable ethical standard. But what about his corporate bosses either at Fox, or the Koch brothers? Who’ll hold them accountable?
According to Eskow, Hannity made “a cryptic comment” in which he agreed with Schultz’s claim that he is cheerleading for armed conflict. As you can see from our transcript, or from watching that tape, that simply isn’t true.

Where did Eskow get the idea that Hannity said that? He may have worked from the Nexis transcript, which misreports what Hannity said.

Newsflash: Official TV transcripts are often inaccurate! If you want to be right in what you present, you actually have to watch the tapes in order to proofread the work.

We’ve spent years of our life double-checking official transcripts. But this is the second time in a week in which we’ve found a writer at Salon misreporting what somebody said at Fox, apparently because they didn’t bother double-checking a transcript.

(In the first instance, Elias Isquith misreported something John Calipari said to Bill O’Reilly. Needless to say, his error created a negative inference about how vile O’Reilly is. To his credit, Isquith filed a correction after we noted his error. Our comment appears early in Isquith’s comment thread.)

Everybody makes mistakes. Some people may not realize that you have to double-check transcripts.

But the new Salon is busy creating a deeply unreliable journalistic culture. Fox News has treated its viewers this way for years. The culture is spreading to us.

We don’t think you can build a progressive culture by aping the conduct of Fox. The suits are going to try it though.

Where does each reader stand?

The sayings of Big Eddie: This is the fuller transcript from the Hannity presentation:
HANNITY: Well, we're not ashamed of our coverage. We're actually proud of our coverage.

Now, there’s not one thing that Ed Schultz said was true. But guess what? If I was a network exec over at NBC News, I might be ashamed of having this man work for me:

SCHULTZ: The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They’d rather make money off your dead corpse!

You’re damn right Dick Cheney’s heart is a political football! We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him!

Do you know what they're talking about? Like this right-wing slut, what is her name, Laura Ingraham? Yes, she’s a talk slut.

Well you’re a freaking [bleep], how about that? Get the [bleep] out of here. How about that? I mean, gimme a—I'm sure they hit the seven-second delay on that one.

HANNITY: Well, that tape speaks for itself.
Tapes don’t really speak for themselves. They also don’t transcribe themselves.

We don’t know why Big Ed called Ingraham a slut. It’s not a word we’d expect him to use.

We do know that the new Salon needs to start fact-checking transcripts. Or is Salon is run by the same types of suits who run the very old Fox?

The way Standard Misinformation spreads!


At the Times, everyone pitches in: It’s fascinating to watch the way Standard Misinformation spreads.

At our big newspapers, Standard Misinformation may spread through the letters column. Consider the letters in today’s New York Times about the so-called Common Core.

Five letters appear on this subject. Each of the first three letters spreads a atandard piece of apparent misinformation.

The second letter comes from a doctoral student studying educational policy. At one point, the future professor says this:
SECOND LETTER (4/23/14): The era of accountability and choice is fading as curriculum and instruction come into greater focus. Through a strengthening of curriculum, standards and teacher practice, we may finally improve student performance. While hardly a panacea, the Common Core may help us examine more closely what we teach and how we teach it.
Say what? We may finally improve student performance?

Our most reliable testing data have been strongly improving for decades. That said, it’s plainly against the law to report this fact in the Times.

Letters to the New York Times will often convey the opposite impression, which is Standard Lore among our press corps “elite.”

Our basic test scores are massively better—but readers of the Times can’t be told! Indeed, today’s third letter conveys the same sad-sack impression:
THIRD LETTER: Speaking of a “circus,” how about addressing the elephant in the room, which is that the Common Core standards have never been tested. No one disputes the fact that our educational system is broken. But what I find disturbing is that the same people who are trying to raise the rigor of our nation’s academics based on metrics have developed a program without that same standard.
Say what? “No one disputes the fact that our educational system is broken?”

In reality, many people dispute that fact, starting with Diane Ravitch, to cite one well-known example.

That said, the notion that the system is broken is Standard Elite Press Corps Cant. For that reason, this notion is widely asserted in letters, despite the large score gains Ravitch describes in her current book.

Thanks to our ratty teachers and their unions, our public schools are an unholy mess! This is Standard Elite Press Corps Cant. It was most directly stated in today’s first letter, which came from an associate professor and two of her graduate students:
FIRST LETTER: The emphasis is on the politics of the Common Core standards in “As G.O.P. Wedge, the Common Core Cuts Both Ways” (front page, April 20) and David Brooks’s column “When the Circus Descends” (April 18). Let’s focus instead on the policy’s substantive problems.

First, decades of standards-based reforms have not improved high school achievement, according to trend data from the National Assessment of Education Progress. Therefore, the Common Core’s pledge to graduate all students “college and career ready” rests on wordplay, not reality.
Say what? High school achievement hasn’t improved, according to data from the National Assessment of Education Progress?

The professor is perhaps being a bit selective. She refers to scores by 17-year-olds on the NAEP’s Long Term Trend Assessment.

Even there, scores are up in the past few decades, once you disaggregate to adjust for changing student demographics. But due to changing drop-out rates, those NAEP scores are the hardest to assess.

Among 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds, the score gains have been very large in recent decades. Example: Among the nation’s 9-year-old black kids, average scores rose by 34 points in math from 1982 through 2012.

(Click here, scroll to page 38.)

By normal rules of thumb on the NAEP, those are gigantic score gains. Note the minor statistical adjustment in 2004.

“Through a strengthening of curriculum, standards and teacher practice, we may finally improve student performance!”

That’s what you read in today’s New York Times, where Standard Misinformation is spread through all available forums.

Important procedural point: Career liberals don’t give a rat’s asp about our public schools or their ratty teachers or students. That’s why you see so little pushback or clarification concerning these endless claims.

WAYS TO DIVIDE: On the basis of region!


Part 3—The infernal South: We humans!

We love to divide ourselves up into tribes. Quite often, we imagine our own imagined tribe as the one which is morally good.

The other tribes? Not so much!

There are a million ways to divide ourselves. At present, we live in a time of high tribal impulse—and alas:

As we divide ourselves up in these ways, the one percent continues to conquer! For evidence of this ongoing process, see the report in today’s New York Times about the decline of American middle-income groups.

(Headline: The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest)

People in those declining income groups come from red states as well as blue. Those people vote for both parties. As we picture ourselves in warring tribes, we’re all getting heavily screwed.

On Monday, we mentioned the new Salon’s fascination with dividing us by generations. Yesterday, we briefly considered the tendency to divide ourselves by our zealotry—by the way we welcome the hate of those Others.

Today, let’s consider division on the basis of region. In particular, we’ll recommend the fascinating piece in the current Atlantic about the “resegregation” of the Tuscaloosa public schools.

The piece was written by ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Warning! When we say the piece is “fascinating,” we don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment. Since we plan to discuss that piece all next week, we won’t discuss it much now.

That said, Hannah-Jones is discussing a process of white and black flight which has happened all over the nation. At one point in her very long piece, Hannah-Jones basically states this obvious fact, though in a fleeting fashion:
HANNAH-JONES (4/6/14): Schools in the South, once the most segregated in the country, had by the 1970s become the most integrated, typically as a result of federal court orders. But since 2000, judges have released hundreds of school districts, from Mississippi to Virginia, from court-enforced integration, and many of these districts have followed the same path as Tuscaloosa’s—back toward segregation. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades. Nationally, the achievement gap between black and white students, which greatly narrowed during the era in which schools grew more integrated, widened as they became less so.

In recent years, a new term, apartheid schools— meaning schools whose white population is 1 percent or less, schools like Central [High in Tuscaloosa]— has entered the scholarly lexicon. While most of these schools are in the Northeast and Midwest, some 12 percent of black students in the South now attend such schools—a figure likely to rise as court oversight continues to wane. In 1972, due to strong federal enforcement, only about 25 percent of black students in the South attended schools in which at least nine out of 10 students were racial minorities. In districts released from desegregation orders between 1990 and 2011, 53 percent of black students now attend such schools, according to an analysis by ProPublica.
The term “apartheid school” is of course designed to excite. That said, Hannah-Jones notes, in a fleeting aside, that most of the nation’s “apartheid schools” are in the Northeast and Midwest.

We’ll guess that many readers of her piece didn’t completely ingest that fact. Various aspects of her piece may give us the feeling that we are considering an artifact of the South.

The portion of the piece we’ve quoted was also quoted by Ta-Nehisi Coates, in this blog post about the piece. Coates’ post appears beneath the headline, “Segregation Forever.”

That headline’s meaning is fleshed out by a photo of George Wallace, who famously stands in the schoolhouse door.

“[F]or right now, the struggle for integration is largely over,” Coates says at the end of his post, which we’ll discuss next week. The first commenter said this:
COMMENTER: It might be over, for now, in the south. It MUST continue in other places. I live in Pittsburgh PA. It's pretty awfully segregated now. I can only hope—and apply work toward—the idea that it is crucial for all colors of people (which mostly means convincing fellow whites) that integration, voluntary integration, is critical for our success.
Is the struggle for “integration” largely over? Is it largely over in the South?

Is the struggle more over in the South than in our own more enlightened regions? Is it possible that there is more of a struggle going on in the South?

Every time we divide ourselves into tribes, we help the plutocrats conquer. Sometimes, such division or opposition is necessary, of course.

When it isn’t, we the superior beings are committing a type of “own goal.” Our conduct makes us feel good about ourselves—and it helps the plutocrats conquer.

In the current political environment, we liberals and progressives are strongly inclined to divide. Our multimillionaire TV stars strongly recommend this process. In part, it may be their way of puffing us up, thus keeping ratings alive.

When we divide without good cause, we help the plutocrats win. And we’re strongly inclined to tribal division on the basis of region. Just consider that news report in the New York Times.

At the University of Mississippi, a couple of undergraduates had done a pitifully stupid thing. They defaced a statue of James Meredith, who bravely integrated the school when a different governor stood in a schoolhouse door.

The New York Times doesn’t care for the South. The great newspaper swung into action, helping us learn to divide.

The report was written by Alan Blinder (headline included). Sometimes, God perhaps may send us messages through real people’s real names:
BLINDER (2/21/14): Racist Incidents Continue to Stir Ole Miss Campus


By many measures, the university, which hosted a presidential debate in 2008, is an entirely different place from the one Mr. Meredith entered, one that combines contemporary ambition with seductive charm. Nearly 41 percent of its undergraduates are from outside Mississippi, up from 33 percent a decade ago. Minorities make up nearly a quarter of the student body, and the university's average ACT score is at its highest level ever.

But reminders of the university's Jim Crow past continue to permeate its idyllic campus, set among oaks and magnolias and fabled for the Grove, perhaps the most hallowed football tailgating spot in a region full of imitators.

An epithet-saturated demonstration in the aftermath of President Obama's 2012 re-election resulted in the arrests of two students.

More recently, a September production of ''The Laramie Project,'' a play about the 1998 murder of a gay college student in Wyoming, gained notoriety after an outbreak of homophobic heckling by audience members.

University officials readily acknowledge the residual intolerance that has so often called attention back to a place where the federal authorities had to force Mr. Meredith's enrollment. And even as administrators note their successes, they concede that they are confronting a challenge with deep and difficult roots.

''There are some people who see this institution through the eyes of the '60s and forever will,'' said Donald R. Cole, the university's assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs.
Was Cole talking about those pitiful teens? Or was he thinking of Blinder?

We’re just asking! Let’s return to the heart of this news report:

Is Blinder’s basic premise true? Do reminders of this school’s Jim Crow past continue to permeate its campus?

To appearances, Blinder had so few “racist incidents” to cite that he had to turn to a homophobic incident as the second example of this campus’ fallen nature.

(In its original reporting on that incident, the Times said the heckling had come from varsity football players who had been told to attend the play. This at least suggests the possibility that the unfortunate heckling—which could have happened on many campuses—may at least have been a case of “black and white together.”)

In its rather obvious hatred of the South, we think the Times often acts as a regressive force. By the way: Did you ever imagine that the weird Clinton/Gore hatred which emerged from the Times was, in part, perhaps inspired by this regional bias?

It almost surely was, of course—and it had demonic effects. Did it cross your mind that the regional bias of our favorite journalists could end up producing deaths all over the world?

Can we talk? In our view, Blinder didn’t seem to have many “racist incidents” to trumpet. But, as is the norm at the Times, the thrilling phrase found its way into a pleasing headline.

We saw a lot of unwise regionalism in that fascinating piece at the Atlantic. We’ll discuss that piece next week, along with Coates’ (admittedly brief) assessment.

But lord, how we humans love to think that our tribe is morally better than theirs! Very often, that isn’t the case—and the mistaken belief just helps the plutocrats win!

Tomorrow: Attempting some tenderness

Classic Times reporting: Note the classic New York Times reporting:
BLINDER: By many measures, the university, which hosted a presidential debate in 2008, is an entirely different place from the one Mr. Meredith entered, one that combines contemporary ambition with seductive charm. Nearly 41 percent of its undergraduates are from outside Mississippi, up from 33 percent a decade ago. Minorities make up nearly a quarter of the student body, and the university's average ACT score is at its highest level ever.
By many measures? Blinder’s first (apparent) example is not a measure of the way the university differs from the one Meredith entered.

The second example is a measure of the difference. Today, the student body is 25 percent “minorities.” Back then, the corresponding percentage was of course zero percent.

Has someone been trying to do the right things even here, in the state we most love to hate? Is it possible that a little tenderness would let us find allies in Mississippi, even perhaps in locations we didn’t perhaps suspect?