Supplemental: Rucker keeps pouring it on!


Also, the Times bungles Denmark: Young elite “journalist” Philip Rucker just keeps pouring it on!

This morning, he’s been bumped to page A3 of the Washington Post. But he continues to document every penny the Clintons have stolen since 2001.

“Obscene” and “grotesque,” he says today,
describing a payment for a speech which will apparently go to the Clinton Global Initiative. (Rucker fails to record that apparent fact, which was reported on CNN last night.)

Rather, Rucker quotes a pundit who dropped those bombs. He quotes no one asking why the Post has embarked on this startling jihad.

Rucker’s reporting this week has had nothing to do with any current news topic. Rather plainly, Rucker’s owners are creating a “narrative” for the next presidential campaign—for an election which is still 29 months away!

Rucker is simply doing the scutwork in support of his owners’ preferred story line.

Can we talk? If you can’t see that pattern at play in Rucker’s reporting this week, you haven’t been alive on the planet over the past twenty years. Second possibility: You’ve always relied on the “liberal pundits” who are keeping quiet about this performance, just as they’ve done in the past.

Who the heck is Philip Rucker? Sadly, his story is quite familiar in these modern times.

Mother and Father sent him to Yale, filled with pride at his brilliance. He emerged in the class of 2006 with a degree in Doing As Told.

This pattern is followed by the bulk of today’s elite young “journalists.” Everyone else averts their gaze from the work these young climbers produce.

This is a process called “buying the narrative.” All next week, we’ll offer examples.

It’s obvious that the Washington Post is creating a narrative for the next campaign. That said, much of what we think we know comes from our repeated exposure to such Standard Stories.

For one small, sadly comic example, consider what happened in last Sunday’s New York Times, right there in the Sunday Review.

For unknown reasons, the Times decided to publish a giant puddle of piddle by a writer named Judith Newman. The piece was called, “But I Want to Do Your Homework.”

Almost obscenely, Newman started like this:
NEWMAN (6/22/14): My son and I are shouting at each other, and crying. He is holding his essay between his fingertips as if it’s a dead cockroach. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I just made a few corrections...”

“How could you do this?” Henry sobs. “You didn’t follow the format! I told you you’re allowed to edit—not write! You can’t write!”


“Listen,” I hiss. “People pay me to do this. I have a master’s in literature from an Ivy League school.” I continue, pathetically. “I write for all the major magazines. I write for The New York Times, for God’s sake.” Oddly enough, this doesn’t mollify him.
Just that quickly, Newman had told us about her elite degree. If she really shouts at her son and cries about who should be doing his homework, she has also told us about her apparent mental illness.

Presumably, she was lying about that, for fuller effect. But as she continued, Newman described the way she keeps insisting on doing her son’s homework for him. Quickly, though, the joke turns out to be on Newman herself:

Even with her Ivy degree, even though she writes for the Times, when she rewrote one essay for her son, he got a 73!

Newman’s piece approaches perfect piddle, as readers noted in comments. We were struck by the familiar impression which was conveyed by this minor passage:
NEWMAN: Let’s ignore, for the moment, the question of whether homework makes kids smarter and more successful. Almost all studies on the subject say it doesn’t, and in countries with some of the highest levels of academic achievement (hello, Denmark and Finland), there is little or no homework. But in many American schools there is anywhere from one to four hours of it a night.
In the highlighted passage, we see the promulgation of a familiar narrative. For the ten millionth time, readers are exposed to the suggestion that students in other countries around the world blow our sorry students away in academic achievement.

Journalistic elites adore this theme; it’s endlessly advanced. Routinely, it’s used to denigrate our public school teachers with their fiendish unions.

This narrative is constantly advanced by Ivy League giants like Newman. If you read the Washington Post or the New York Times, you encounter such claims all the time.

Why did we notice that highlighted passage? Simple! Denmark isn’t a big high achiever on the major international tests. As a general matter, its students don’t outscore American kids, despite our demographic complexities and challenges.

In the most recent administrations of the major tests, Denmark’s students have achieved average scores very similar to those of American kids. As a general matter, its mop-headed students don’t outscore ours, however much homework they are or aren’t doing.

Let’s take a look at the record, something the Times and the Post rarely do when they’re advancing the narrative Newman conveyed in that passage.

When people seek to denigrate American schools, they often turn first to the PISA, an international test of 15-year-old students.

American students score less well on the PISA than they do on the TIMSS or the PIRLS. That said, these are the relevant average scores from the most recent PISA testing:
Average scores, 2012 PISA, Reading
International average: 496.45
Denmark: 496.13
United States: 497.58

Average scores, 2012 PISA, Math
International average: 494.04
Denmark: 500.03
United States: 481.38

Average scores, 2012 PISA, Science
International average: 501.14
Denmark: 498.47
United States: 497.41
Denmark did outscore the United States on the PISA math test. That said, here are the relevant scores from the most recent TIMSS (Denmark took part on the Grade 4 level only):
Average scores, 2011 TIMSS, Grade 4 math
International average: 500
Denmark: 536.96
United States: 540.65

Average scores, 2011 TIMSS, Grade 4 science
International average: 500
Denmark: 527.99
United States: 543.84
Denmark outscored the international average, though not by as much as the top-scoring nations. Our students outscored the international average a little bit more.

The PIRLS tests Grade 4 reading only. These are the most recent scores:
Average scores, 2011 PIRLS, Grade 4 reading
International average: 500
Denmark: 553.99
United States: 556.37
There are no perfect tests. But Denmark isn’t a high scorer on the PISA. Overall, it scores about the same as the U.S. on the big international tests.

Reading Newman’s fatuous drivel, New York Times readers were given a different impression. For about the ten millionth time, they were fed the official approved impression, in which other countries ace these tests while the U.S., a helpless pitiful giant, lags pitifully behind.

First question: If you were Judith Newman’s kid, would you want her doing your homework? Even in the Sunday Times, she doesn’t seem inclined to restrict herself to accurate representations.

A more serious pair of questions take us to the heart of the propagandistic processes which control a great deal of what we read:

Why did Newman throw in that claim about Denmark’s brilliant kids? Why didn’t the New York Times fact-check so basic a claim? (Data from these major tests are very easy to check.)

We can’t answer those questions. But if you read Americans newspapers, you’re constantly given false impressions about domestic and international test scores.

It happens again and again and again. Gloomy narratives prevail—the narratives loved by our corporate elites. Routinely, these narratives are driven along by bogus factual claims—claims which are easily fact-checked.

Why do our newspapers function this? We can’t tell you that. But another narrative is being crafted in the Washington Post this week. And all across our great wide land, our “liberal” pundits keep their traps shut about it.

All over cable this week, careerist pundits were finding ways to purchase this narrative. All next week, we’ll offer examples of the ways these hustlers played along.

Meanwhile, down in Savannah, Mother and Father are proud of their boy. They sent their brilliant child off to Yale.

He majored in Going Along.


  1. Really important essay, Bob.

    The New York Times column was just shamefully inane and almost certainly false for dramatic effect. The Washington Post articles are designed to ruin Hillary Clinton, simple as that.

    1. Anything factually wrong with the articles?

  2. I spent some time this morning researching the speakers' fees of some of the members of our famously free press.
    Diane Sawyer $50,000+
    Anderson Cooper $50,000+
    Chris Matthews $40,000+
    Mika Brzenzinski $30,000+
    Maureen Dowd....secret!
    ThomasFriedman $75,000
    Sean Hannity "FEE:
    We are not able to provide this information on the website.
    Call us at (615) 261-4000
    TRAVEL: Sean Hannity travels from New York, New York and requires a Private Jet"

    1. Rachel Maddow's fees are not available online either.

    2. What about Rush Limbaugh's?

    3. Or George Will's? Or Sarah Palin's? Heck, she even resigned from office because there was gold in them thar book tour and speaking fees.

      You know, I don't really denigrate anybody from grabbing the corporate cash while it's being handed out by the truckload.

      But please, don't tell me you did it because you were "dead broke."

    4. She resigned from office because the legal fees required to defend herself from the various politically motivated investigations were bankrupting her family.

      The Clintons were $10 million in debt when they left office. Also due to legal fees to defend against politically motivated investigations.

    5. Well, Palin sure covered those legal fees for trying to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from the Alaska State Patrol in a big hurry.

      In just her first year after leaving office, Palin pocketed some $13 million in speaking fees, her contract as a Fox News "contributor," and book sales.

  3. The attacks on Hillary Clinton are carefully calculated to undo her viability as a Presidential candidate before she even decides to run.

    1. Will pointing out how Clinton has earned a living since leaving the State Department undo her viability?

    2. And pointing out how the Clintons earn money in the most disingenuous and unflattering way you can think of is really just a service to the public. It smells a lot more like character assassination in the guise of facts.

  4. OMB (BOBologic at Work)

    Part 1

    "This pattern is followed by the bulk of today’s elite young “journalists.” Everyone else averts their gaze from the work these young climbers produce."

    And because you and ourselves, along with everyone else, averts our eyes from their work, it logically follows that.....

    "That said, much of what we think we know comes from our repeated exposure to such Standard Stories."

    Because, as we know, averting one's eyes is not sufficient to shield you from the exposure that creates much of what you think you know.


    1. I agree with Somerby on both counts. "Elite" young "journalists" critiqued on this site do echo the narratives of established "conventional wisdom", and, none of their major media peers ever calls them out on it. They are pleasers who just don't have it in them to ever meaningfully challenge authority.

    2. @ 4:26 If you agree with Somerby on the first count then you didn't avert your eyes.

    3. By obsessing on obvious figurative speech, isn't that avoiding the larger topic? Chomsky discussed how rising in the ranks of corporate media is primarily about internalizing the values of elites. In the here and now Somerby points out examples of these born and bred baby elites and how they operate and who they speak for.

      It's amazing how eager liberals are these days when it comes to sticking up for the swells. They're even starting to give conservatives a run for their money in that dept.

    4. It's amazing how some people don't understand apply the same standards of critcism to the critic.

    5. There should be an addendum to Godwin's Law:

      Anybody who compares Noam Chomsky to Bob Somerby is automatically an idiot.

    6. Both get results!

  5. And I see that Bob Readers would rather discuss Hillary than wade back into the forest of test scores to look at individual trees.

    1. We also see further evidence of Bob denigrating his own readers, whose comments he reportedly never reads, to those he values, i.e. New York Times readers in this case. They agree with Bob that the homwork piece was approaching perfect piddle.*

      * For a definition of "perfect piddle" look right before "proof"
      In the "Howler Dicitionary of All Things Journalistic"


    2. Speaking of test scores, Newman makes parenthetical reference to both Denmark and Finland, as countries whose kids seem to do well on international tests without being required to do the lug of homework U.S. kids must do.

      Where are those Finnish scores?

    3. Discussed here ad nauseum. No need to repeat them for those who regularly read this blog. Nor is 50% correct high accuracy. Why should a reporter just pull a country's name out of her ass (Denmark)?

    4. 8:44, there is an impression (and I have no idea if it is accurate) that Danish schools do not assign homework.

    5. Newman touches upon the subject of how much homework is too much, but really focuses in on how much parental "help" is too much -- or not enough.

      But the subject of "homework" is certainly a burning issue in educational circles. I fought that battle myself when my daughter was doing three or four hours a night in sixth grade.

      When I raised my concern with her teachers, that's when I first heard the "rule of thumb" -- 10 minutes per grade level, so one hour of homework was certainly appropriate. Then they obviously said my daughter must be dawdling, because that is all they ever assign.

      So I showed them her previous night's assignments, which were fairly typical -- 20 math problems. A short story with 10 discussion questions to answer. A history chapter, with 10 discussion questions to answer. A science chapter, with 10 discussion questions to answer. 10 vocabulary words to define, then use in a sentence.

      And all this was AFTER she spent seven and a half hours in their classrooms.

    6. Academic skills are like all other skills. They require practice. With practice comes fluency (speed and accuracy). The more she does now the easier her high school and college assignments will be for her, because those math problems won't take long to complete and those sentences won't take long to write for someone with better preparation in the early grades.

      That 7-1/2 hours is spent doing fun things and interactive activities and play, not concentrated practice. For one thing, a classroom full of many kids is a much more difficult place to focus attention and concentrate. If you want your daughter to learn to give full attention to something, turn off the TV and remove any other electronic devices, including educational laptops and tablets and let her do those assigned problems on her own, without help. If she needs help, refer her back to her teacher. The parent's job is to verify that the work got done, preferably before play or other activities.

      You can go to the school and negotiate a lighter workload but in the long run you are hurting, not helping your daughter. Especially if you teach her that anything a teacher asks her to do is optional because you will make it go away for her.

    7. Would you go to your kid's athletic coach and complain because practice lasts 2 hrs and is mandatory, or because it involved drills and laps?

    8. Yes, I would if participation in school sports was mandatory and cost him a good chunk of his childhood. And especially if he had three or four hours of mandatory homework to do after spending over seven hours in school.

    9. So you don't care how your child will make a living?

    10. No, I don't care. She's just been accepted into medical school. Thanks for asking, though.

    11. I can tell you don't have children and had a miserable childhood, 1:14.

      The middle school years are horrible years for a kid. Yes, they need to learn things, but their bodies are awkward and going through puberty. They need friends. They need play. And they need fun.

      And they need to be exposed to a variety of learning opportunities, many of which are outside school. These include such things as dance classes, drama classes, music lessons, and even Scouts.

      They don't need to be tied to a school desk for 7 hours a day, then tied to the dining table doing homework for another three to four hours.

      Good Lord, I am tired of hearing simple-minded know-it-alls who aren't bright enough to tell the difference between academic rigor and a sweatshop, which robs kids of their last remaining years of childhood as they transition into adolescence.

      I happen to think that happy kids learn pretty well. But you go ahead and think that the sooner you make their lives as miserable as you can, the better it will be for them in the long run.

    12. I think kids are more miserable when they can't do school work successfully and worry about whether they will be accepted to college and be able to get a job. Like Dent. There is fun in doing tasks you are good at. You get good at them through practice.

      It astonishes me that any parent equates this with abuse. A prospective physician without a work ethic is terrifying.

    13. Right. The chief concern of every middle schooler is getting into the right college and the right career. This is why they are willing to do three and four hours worth of homework with such glee.

      Perhaps you should read the NPR article linked to above. Then go to the dictionary and look up the difference between "quality" and "quantity."

      They aren't the same thing. And as Newman herself alludes to, there is a raft of studies out there indicating that there is some point where the sheer quantity of homework becomes counterproductive.

      Not that such things as research would change a mind that is already set in concrete.

  6. OMB (BOBologic at Work)

    Part 2

    Old, briefly paid “journalist” BOB Somerby just keeps pouring it on!

    "(Rucker) continues to document every penny the Clintons have stolen since 2001." BOB today.

    "Since leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton has followed her husband and a roster of recent presidents and secretaries of state in this profitable line of work," Rucker, accusing a roster of former presidents and secretaries of state in preceding the Clinton's in the theft craft yesterday.

    "Other former presidents also have stirred controversy with their paid speeches. Shortly after leaving office in 1989, Ronald Reagan received $2 million for addressing business executives in Tokyo at a time when the United States had an acrimonious trade dispute with Japan. George H.W. Bush made millions of dollars speaking to corporate groups around the world, as has George W. Bush, who in 2011 addressed, among others, financial firms caught up in scandal," Rucker continued, describing the other thieves once called POTUS.


    1. I have the sheepish feeling I was a dupe this past Wednesday in taking at face value the KZ byline for this comment: In considering the possibility it was written by someone else, why would the author of a response so noteworthy for its clarity and spot-on wisdom attribute it to such a crank, even for self-amusement, as it lends that crank substantially more credibility, esteem even, than he would ever otherwise merit. Alternately, perhaps KZ has a severe disturbance of mind and deserves a laser-like, deeply piercing measure of sympathy?

    2. Volt61 it is funny that such a comment questioning whether
      KZ wrote a comment to another post should come after a KZ comment which, except for the opening line which is a parody of Somerby, the rest of his comment is direct quotes from Somerby and the reporter Somerby critiques.

      You then call the motives and/or mental health of your imagined possible author of the first comment and KZ into question.

      I don't know about KZ but it is pretty obvious you don't possess great wattage in your bulb.

  7. KZ, stop replying to your own comments.

  8. OMB (BOBologic at Work)

    Part 3

    "Obscene” and “grotesque,” he says today, describing a payment for a speech which will apparently go to the Clinton Global Initiative. (Rucker fails to record that apparent fact, which was reported on CNN last night.)" BOB today.

    "The Clintons also sometimes request that sponsors pay their fee as a donation to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family’s nonprofit group that leads global philanthropic initiatives. Hillary Clinton is doing this with her $225,000 fee for a speech this fall at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, according to her office."
    Rucker yesterday

    "Clinton is being paid $225,000 to speak at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Although her office said she is directing the funds to the Clinton Foundation, her pay has drawn protests from student leaders. Jon Ralston, an influential television journalist in Nevada, called Clinton's fee "grotesque" and "obscene."

    A spokesman for Clinton did not immediately respond to a request for comment."

    Rucker Today


  9. Since newspapers today have multiple versions, nonlinear and print, have you considered that Somerby may be working from a different version than what you are quoting? He always cites his. Can you please do the same?

    1. Sorry --autocorrect changed online to nonlinear.

    2. We simply clicked on the link Mr. Somerby provided for the second quote. You know, the one with green coloring for the words "obscene" and "grotesque."


    3. Ah, that must explain why the version KZ read bears no resemblance to Bob's interpretation of the same story by the same author.

      The online and hard copy editions must be entirely opposite.

    4. That has happened. Somerby complains there was no mention the speaking fee was being donated. Then KZ quotes a paragraph saying it was. It seems possible others noted the same omission and the piece was updated. That isn't opposite.

    5. Somerby claims that no mention the speaking fee was being donated, then provides a link to the article.

      KZ follows the link and the donation IS mentioned.

      7:56 claims Somerby is still right because it is "possible" the link was updated later.

      Oh the lengths Bob's sheep will go to proclaim their buck nekkid emperor fully clothed.

    6. It is mentioned in the 4th paragraph of my print edition as KZ has quoted.

    7. How likely is it the donation was mentioned and Somerby then wrote a column around its absence? That makes no sense.

      Somerby haters assume the worst, always. Haters gonna hate.

    8. I agree with that 10:07 - the haters here gonna hate. But the charity mention is in my print edition. KZ is still a world class douche obviously - but it is in my print edition.

    9. I assume nothing.

      Somerby wrote:

      ". . . describing a payment for a speech which will apparently go to the Clinton Global Initiative. (Rucker fails to record that apparent fact, which was reported on CNN last night.)"

      Even Bob's sheep admit that Rucker did indeed "record that apparent fact" and that it appears in both the print and online versions of his story, and rather high up.

      And they still defend him. Ah, puppy love and hero worship. It is so blind!

    10. I am just suggesting that perhaps that obvious omission was added to Rucker's article after it was read and noted by Somerby. We cannot know whether this is true or not because KZ, unlike Somerby, routinely fails to cite the versions he quotes from.

    11. KZ has said he followed Somerby's link.

      But you go ahead and pretend that the "obvious omission" that appears both in print or online wasn't there when Somerby read it.

      You do realize that you don't look very intelligent all bent up in that pretzel logic, do you?

    12. Are you really unaware that the links may stay the same but the articles can change online?

      I don't know what Somerby read. I also don't know when or what KZ read. I pointed out that KZ is much less careful about telling readers what he saw than Somerby is and I suggested that if he is going to criticize on the basis of content, he should tell us, as Somerby routinely does. The rest is you.

    13. Again, the proof that Somerby is playing you for a rube is both online and in print.

      But you got your story -- Rucker's report "may" have changed and Somerby "may" have been one of the very earliest readers before it "may" have changed.

      And by golly, as stupid as that is, you're sticking to it!

    14. Troll. You repeat yourself while ignoring what I wrote. Totally troll behavior.

    15. Somerby told you what he read -- more appropriately, what he DIDN'T read.

      He provided a link. KZ followed it and discovered that what Somerby claimed wasn't there was indeed right there.

      And you want to believe so badly that "may be, just may be" it wasn't there when Somerby read it?

      Typical Bob Tribe behavior. Head so far up his ass your brain is deprived of oxygen.

    16. Troll. You repeat yourself while ignoring what I wrote. More troll behavior.

      KZ does this kind of thing all the time. He is an annoying troll, like you (if not you himself).

      At best KZ found that the link had been updated in the interim, perhaps even because of what Somerby wrote. That happens.

      KZ would never say that Somerby caused a change in the linked report. That would be saying something positive about Somerby. Instead, he makes a very unlikely claim about Somerby deliberately falsifying what was at that source.

      Who to believe? The schizophrenic troll who has been repeatedly dishonest in the past (and yes, I have checked his links)? Or a respected blogger who conscientiously cites sources and always provides links so people can check his work? What a quandary -- who to believe?

    17. I read the article in an early edition of the dead tree version of The Post and the reference to donating fees to the Ckinton Global Initiative was in the article. When Bob post an excerpt from an article, I always click the link because I found that Bob had "creatively edited" an article about Governor Ultrasound.
      Bob did some invaluable blogging in the aughts and late 90s, but his current media criticism is clouded by his hatred for some of these reporters and his steadfast refusal to acknowledge that the left consist of a wider world than the cramped universe og the late 90s. I've never considered newspaper columnists "the left." They are, like the stable of personalities on MSNBC, manufactured by corporations to serve product to the left viewing public. Why Somerby thinks they are supposed to do anything else is beyond me.
      If you want good reporting from the left, read In These Times.


    18. @ 1:37

      A blogger you like, Bob Somerby, wrote something that was false. A commenter proved it. Instead of accepting that your favored blogger can be, and in this case, was wrong, you concoct a nonsensical explanation in which not only is your blogger right, he may even have caused that which proved him wrong to be altered.

      Then you call the person who proved your blogger wrong schizophrenic and another person a troll.

      I would strongly suggest it is you who need help. And I would refrain from further commenting. It makes your obvious problem much worse.

    19. The schizophrenic and the troll are both the same person.

    20. I guess seeing my comment caused you to change your argument. It wasn't in your earlier edition.

    21. I can see nobody claiming that the donation acknowledgement wasn't in ANY version of this story, early or otherwise.

      I do see a BOBfan trying to propose that absurd idea, followed by my snarky comment that the print and online versions must be entirely opposite.

      Caught with their hero's hiney exposed, BOBfans went from the absurd to the laughable, claiming sharp-eyed Times editors monitor Somerby regularly, then quickly changed BOTH online and print versions to include the donation acknowledgement.

      I suppose that's easier for them to believe than to admit their hero is playing them for rubes.

  10. OMB (BOBologic at Work)

    Part 4

    Old, briefly paid “journalist” BOB Somerby just keeps pouring it on!

    Posting about a "jihad" that may influence the outcome of the 2016 election by making accusations that a former President and former Secretary of State have stolen millions of dollars, BOB finds time to devote 2/3 of the post to the paranthetical inclusion of the nation of Denmark as being a country with little of no homework but still among "countries with some of the highest levels of academic achievement."

    He says this is a theme "used to denigrate our public school teachers with their fiendish unions."

    BOB meticulously tabulates scores from multiple tests comparing students from Denmark to those of the United States.

    Problem is, the article denigrated parent s attempt to "help" kids with homework. It said nothing about which standard was used to asses Denmark being among "countries with some of the highest levels of academic achievement", nor did it assert Danes outscored Americans on any test whatsovever.

    We do not measure educational achievement by scores on a single test given on a single day. BOB seems to do so. We would note that on the UN Education Index Denmark is far above the United States.

    1. KZ finds a single measure designed to contradict Somerby so he assumes Somerby does the same selective cherry picking when he says Denmark isn't far ahead of the USA educationally.

      Do you believe the aging sometimes journalist who is also an expert on education stats or the burnt-out schizophrenic with too much time on his hands?

    2. "an expert on education stats"

      Why? Because he writes a blog and pulls carefully selected stats that fit his narrative?

      What else exactly is Somerby's expertise in this regard? His education? His many years of experience of either administration or research designing and interpreting test scores?

      You don't know, do you? But you still proclaim him to be "expert."

      Obviously that word means very little to you.

    3. You clearly don't know his background yourself.

    4. You clearly know his background by what he has told you about himself.

    5. If you think anything Somerby has said about himself is inaccurate, post your support. Otherwise stop hinting that there is anything fraudulent being said.

    6. I have no idea if anything Somerby has said about himself is accurate or not. I am however enough of a skeptic not to take such things at face value.

      If you want to believe he is an expert in analyzing educational statistics, go right ahead. But excuse me if I don't throw around the word "expert" so loosely.

    7. Bob Somerby is an expert by a very rough rule of thumb.

  11. "If she really shouts at her son and cries about who should be doing his homework, she has also told us about her apparent mental illness."

    Good lord, Somerby. Wow. More of those great "progressive" values of yours? Using mental illness as an insult? No wonder people who fight it are so stigmatized and don't always seek the help they need.

    You obviously have never had anyone you love beset with mental illness or you wouldn't be so insensitive as to use it as an insult against people who write newspaper articles you don't like.

    And you know what? I hope for their sake and yours, you never have a loved one with a mental illness.

    1. You can have empathy for those who are mentally ill without pretending their behavior is desirable. Somerby is just saying the woman's behavior was messed up. If you don't already hate Somerby you don't read his casual remarks in such uncharitable ways.

    2. Isn't it truly wonderful that Anonymous June 28, 2014 at 8:58 PM can represent all of humanity in how "you" read Somerby?


    3. I do not claim to "represent all of humanity" so you can shove that where the sun doesn't shine.

      I am a person who has someone I love very deeply who suffers from bipolar disorder and has attempted suicide. It's been a long, hard fight, it still is, and it will always be, but I love her enough to fight that fight with her.

      Blessed with medical insurance, including prescrpiton drug coverage, she is back. But she is no more responsible for her mental illness than a person with diabetes is responsible for their condition as well -- and perhaps even less responsible than a lung cancer victim who smokes, and a heart attack victim who doesn't exercise and watch his/her diet.

      But we don't use cancer and heart attacks as a gratuitous insult against those whose newpaper articles we disagree with, do we?

      8:58 and 10:24, you, like Somerby, apparently have no idea what mental illness is truly like.

      Nor do you understand, by your defense of Somerby's insensitive and ignorant "insult," the stigma still attached to mental illness that prevents so many people from seeking help early -- before they spiral all the way down.

      But I will be gracious and pray that none of you will ever go through what my wife has gone through, nor the utter helplessness I felt when I found her, barely in time.

      In the meantime, I will also pray that all three of your grow up and stop with the playground insults about an issue as serious as mental illness.

    4. You are wasting your time being deeply hurt every time someone uses language that offends you on the internet. No one here knows or cares about your wife. She is not being discussed here. This conversation is not about her or you.

    5. Well, 8:24, Sr. Somerby sure took offense and read a whole lot that wasn't there into a parenthetical reference to Denmark.

    6. 8:24, I have no doubt that you do not care about any one who suffers from mental illness.

      But I do note that you have appointed yourself spokesperson for everyone here. My what an ego!

    7. @11:00 -- doing some mindreading of your own, I see.

      I do not care about you, your wife, or anyone who knows you. You are not the center of the universe and articles in the NY Times, and those who comment about them, are not talking about you personally, your wife, or anyone who knows and cares about you.

      It takes a much greater ego than mine to think that any of this is about you or your family.

    8. "I don't care . . ."

      And I'm the "center of the universe."

      So full of compassion aren't you?

    9. I'm somehow required to care about anyone who demands it by barging into comments to complain about others? Get real.

    10. You are "required" to do nothing.You do however expose yourself as utterly lacking in compassion and insensitivity when you defend the use of "mental illness" as a playground insult.

      Both you and Somerby could use a little more growing up.

    11. Should read "utterly lacking in compassion and sensitivity" of course.

  12. Via a former student of mine (graduated in 80's, by a personal story ended up US Ph.D. and a Danish citizen), Denmark spends its educational life looking over its shoulder at the US. The mutual hucksterism.

  13. "Journalistic elites adore this theme; it’s endlessly advanced. Routinely, it’s used to denigrate our public school teachers with their fiendish unions."

    Yes, let's examine the ways that Newman denigrates our public school teachers:

    "But there are other reasons homework help is helping our kids bomb. For one thing, most of us aren’t teachers; knowing a subject is not the same as being able to impart that knowledge to others, as anyone who’s ever found herself screaming, “Just take my word for it!” to a mystified 7-year-old knows."

    Hmmmm, so Newman admits that teachers are professionals with skills she doesn't have. Exactly how much more such denigration can our teachers take?

  14. Yes, the attack on public education is all in Somerby's mind. Today there is an article by someone at the New America Foundation stating that not only are our K-12 schools substandard but so are our colleges and universities. Not coincidentally, Obama is trying to regulate and rank college-level education, in much the same way as has happened with K-12 schools. Before you can do that, people must recognize the need and as yet, people think we have good colleges, so that view must go.

    If @7:55 is seriously arguing that there has been no attack on the teaching profession, he or she is very wrong. Probably he or she is just wishing to attack Somerby -- again for reasons that mystify most of us who regularly read this blog. But there is something larger going on in our society and it isn't helpful to ignore that fact.

    1. "If @7:55 is seriously arguing that there has been no attack on the teaching profession, he or she is very wrong."

      Well, poor attempt at trying to build an argument that I am not making, so rest your weary mind.

      I am merely pointing out that rather than "denigrate" teachers as Somerby claims she did, Newman apparently admits that teachers have skills she lacks.

      Now I know how tough it is for Bob fans to gaze at their hero's naked fanny when he is caught with his pants around his ankles again.

      But I would hope you would have at least a grain of honesty remaining not to bend arguments beyond all recognition into something you think you can "win," -- and wind up looking as foolish as your hero in the attempt.

    2. Newman says two different things in different places in her essay. She knocks the public schools in one place, then implies that teachers have skills in a different place.

      It is not uncommon for people to hold and express contradictory beliefs. It is another possible complaint about what she has written, in my opinion.

      You seem to think that she did not denigrate teachers at all when she complained that our schools are worse than Denmark. That is incorrect.

    3. She didn't say our schools are worse than Denmark's.

      She says, and Bob quotes: "Let’s ignore, for the moment, the question of whether homework makes kids smarter and more successful. Almost all studies on the subject say it doesn’t, and in countries with some of the highest levels of academic achievement (hello, Denmark and Finland), there is little or no homework. But in many American schools there is anywhere from one to four hours of it a night."

      That's her entire reference to Denmark (and Finland), which sent Bob into a tizzy to compare scores in Denmark and the United States, which shows they line up pretty well.

    4. Anonymous @ 8:39

      "Today there is an article by someone at the New America Foundation stating...."

      Could you link that or at least give "someone" a name?

    5. Casey. It is in the NYTimes. Easy to find.

  15. Something's rotten in this analysis of Denmark. It has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton either, unless she or Bill have given a talk there recently for pay.

    1. Bob often starts on one subject then lands in Denmark. Or Finland. Or Poland.

    2. Speaking of Poland, isn't there a new round of PISA scores available since last Somerby presented test scores to disprove the Polish miracle about 9 months ago?

      "....Do Polish students “handily surpass Americans’ mediocre performance” on such tests?

      The answer to all those questions is no—unless you read the New York Times or the Washington Post. In those newspapers, a Polish miracle has now been invented by two journalists..."

      Yes, in that post Somerby posted these 2009 PISA Results




      But Now We Have 2012 PISA results




      I wonder what kind of puddle of piddle post we could have had had newman mention Poland in her parenthesis instead of Denmark?


    3. Semi selves correction. BOB did do a post on PISA 2012 results. He even mentioned Poland, but only because Fareed Zakaria did and he wanted to try and refute him. He just didn't post the comparative results. Instead he showed other test score where the US did better.

      Instead of a link we'll post the headline. It's funnier.

      "VISIONS OF PISA: The liberal world fails!
      SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2013"


    4. Obviously, Polish parents talk to their babies much more than American parents do.

    5. It is a shame Somerby doesn't report these score losses by American kids. They are doing so great.

  16. The deserving, delightful Danish kids' low test scores are a result of their nation's brutal history. Their benighted ancestors, the Vikings, raped and pillaged neighboring countries.


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