UPDATE: The lead-poisoned children of Allentown!


Cable's top clown doesn't care:
When last we looked in on the children of Flint, we had at least two basic questions:

First question: What kinds of health effects are the children of Flint likely to experience because of their exposure to lead in Flint's drinking water?

Second question: If Flint is AN AMERICAN DISASTER (as advertised on the Maddow Show), what are we supposed to say about Allentown, Pa., where children's exposure to lead seems to be many times worse?

Several weeks later, those questions remain, even after the "TRMS Special Report" which opened the Rachel Maddow Show on Thursday, February 11.

To watch that TRMS Special Report, you can just click here.

That TRMS Special Report struck us as rather odd. For starters, its total running time was 15 minutes and 25 seconds. That made it one of the shortest opening segments in recent Maddow Show history.

We're not sure why one of Maddow's shortest opening segments would be billed as a "Special Report." And by the way—only part of that Special Report was devoted to the many questions which still surround events in Flint.

In fact, that evening's TRMS Special Report started with three minutes and 35 seconds about an injury suffered by Gina Gogean, a Romanian gymnast, in 1996. This meant that Maddow's Special Report only devoted 11 minutes and 50 seconds to events specific to Flint.

Why did Maddow burn that time discussing a Romanian gymnast? Simple! Gogean's injury was treated by an unconventional laparoscopic technique. After spending 3:35 describing Gogean's medical treatment, Maddow began discussing the plumbing technique which may be used to replace lead pipes in Flint—a technique which might also be described as "laparoscopic."

Maddow went a very long way to set the stage for her discussion of that plumbing technique. After burning away 3:35 on the Romanian gymnast, she spent only eleven minutes and 50 seconds discussing events specific to Flint.

Maddow answered few questions that night in her TRMS Special Report. She did jack up the language she uses to describe the AMERICAN DISASTER in Flint.

On this evening, Maddow described events in Flint as "a humanitarian crisis of international proportions." Once again, this made us wonder how we're supposed to regard events on the ground in Allentown, whose children seem to display elevated blood lead levels at roughly six times the rate displayed in Flint.

If Flint is a "humanitarian crisis of international proportions," then what the heck is Allentown, Pennsylvania? Briefly, let's refresh ourselves on some basic facts:

Way back on February 3, Sarah Frostenson reported at Vox that "eighteen cities in Pennsylvania report higher levels of lead exposure than Flint." As Frostenson noted, quite a few of those cities show much higher rates of exposure.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 23.1 percent of Allentown's children had elevated levels in 2014. In Altoona, the figure was 20.4 percent; in Scranton, the figure was 19.4 percent.

By way of contrast, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha's original report on Flint showed the rate of elevated lead in the blood rising from 2.1 percent before the switch in the city's water supply to 4.0 percent after the switch. According to Maddow, that rate of exposure—4.0 percent of Flint's children—helped identify Flint as AN AMERICAN DISASTER and as "a humanitarian crisis of international proportions."

If that is how we should think about Flint, then what should we say about Allentown, Scranton, Altoona, Johnstown, Reading, Easton? Maddow viewers will never have to worry their heads about that! This alternate reality has never been mentioned on Maddow's increasingly ludicrous show, where a very strange corporate host is feeding us liberals a partisan morality tale in which no children seem to matter or exist except the children of Flint.

Just this Wednesday, Sarah Kliff presented another detailed report for Vox about the rates of elevated lead exposure among the nation's children, in those Pennsylvania cities and elsewhere in the country.

If you read Vox, you're able to learn about this. You've never heard a word about this on the horrible Maddow Show, which stopped devolving long ago and has long since crashed and burned.

In that ridiculous "TRMS Special Report," we learned about an injury to a Romanian gymnast in 1996. We also got an exciting new tag—"humanitarian crisis of international proportions!"—and a new set of "geniuses" to join the pre-existing geniuses and heroes with which Maddow has peopled her tale.

(Who are the new "geniuses" of our tale? Simple! Click here, then search!)

We weren't given a Special Report about the likely health effects faced by the children of Flint. We weren't given a Special Report concerning the extent to which Flint's water may or may not be usable now.

We weren't treated to an interview with Professor Marc Edwards. (Maddow still hasn't done an interview segment with Edwards, nor has she explained why he hasn't appeared.) Most remarkably, we weren't told that exposure rates are much higher in many cities than they are in the city of Flint, the magical kingdom where our silliest corporate child is staging her current story.

We weren't told something else. We weren't told why Maddow devoted less than 12 minutes to Flint in the segment she dubbed a "TRMS Special Report." She spends more time than that reading polls, mugging and clowning virtually every night of the week.

Allentown has never been mentioned on the Maddow Show. As far as that program's star is concerned, that city's kids can go hang.

In her self-serving treatment of Flint, Maddow is giving us heroes and geniuses and one perfect villain, the villainous Governor Snyder. She's also giving us an "indefatigable mayor," Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, as part of the childish story she tells as she sends us to bed.

(That description of Weaver was offered during the TRMS Special Report. Maddow also lionized Weaver that night as "the tireless and aggressive Flint mayor.")

Mayor Weaver is an attractive public figure. That said, we don't know how to assess her current plans for Flint, in large part because Maddow spends so little time examining such questions.

Maddow spends enormous amounts of time mugging, clowning and discussing herself. She spends gigantic amounts of time reading worthless polls and offering inane remarks about various Republican candidates, not excluding the animal sounds she thinks she hears them making.

She spends extremely little time on Flint. Consider what happened this Wednesday.

Omigod! On Wednesday night, Maddow announced, at the top of the show, that "we've got news from the nerves-of-steel mayor in the America's number-one lead poisoned city," by which she seemed to mean Flint.

Later, Maddow reported that the mayor in question "has shown a remarkable ability to get things done for her city through sheer force of will since she took power in the middle of this crisis."

Late in the program, Maddow featured the nerves-of-steel mayor in an "interview" which lasted roughly three minutes. The interview involved only two questions. To watch the full segment, click here.

The actual interview lasted roughly three minutes. Earlier in the week, Maddow had spent roughly that much time on Candidate Bush's animal sounds, which mainly exist in her head.

Now, Maddow decided to grant equal time to the mayor who is trying to solve "a humanitarian crisis of international proportions." She doled three minutes to Mayor Weaver. Question: Did anyone learn anything at all from this very brief session?

Believe it or not, what's shown below was the second Q-and-A in this three-minute, two-question drive-by.

To watch the entire segment, click here. See if you have any idea what Weaver was talking about or what she actually said:
MADDOW (2/17/16): You know, you said today that you're planning to get this pipe replacement plan that you've come up with, you're planning to get it started next week. Do you actually have the money to start?

WEAVER: Well, you know what? We thought we had some money to start. In fact, I was surprised by the press release that you talked about earlier, that came out yesterday, because that's what we were going to do.

We thought $500,000, five—half a billion dollars, let me say that. We thought that was going to be coming. And it didn't come to us.

Instead, the governor has decided to put his own plan in place.
And I thought we would be working together. What we talked about was using the money that he had to get started and that's where we were going to do those homes that had been identified that we talked about.

And instead, he's put his plan in place to go ahead and get started and then do this testing. Well, what we wanted to do was to get started, and while that was going on, we know we would be working with Lansing Board of Water and Light, we were going to be working with our own people, we were going to be training people, and we wanted to have a vetting process for the engineering company that was going to come in and put all of the teams together.

So now, what we are going to do is we're going to continue to get started. I've talked with the Board of Water and Light down in Lansing and they said they are still willing to help. We're going to start the test run and if they have to come and just, you know, do two houses a day, we're going to do one child at a time, one house at a time, but that home that was tested that you referred to earlier, we need to guarantee that the child that lives in that home has clean water they can drink, and we need to get started there.

One of the other things that we need to do is I hope that by the end of this week or the first of next week, I'm getting a phone call, because right now we need some things pushed through. We cannot continue to have the state saying, "We're going to wait," the federal government saying, "We're waiting for the state," and in the meantime our kids, our families in the city of Flint are still dealing with toxic water. This is unacceptable.

MADDOW: Mayor of Flint, Michigan, Karen Weaver, you have brought this to a head through your own sheer insistence that it can be done quickly. We have been documenting the way everybody else has been dragging their feet. You are not, ma'am. Thank you for helping us understand it. We will stay with this.

Thank you.

WEAVER: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
That ate the bulk of the three minutes Maddow surrendered to this interview. Frankly, it sounded like a double-talk demonstration—and Maddow did nothing, nada, zero, zilch to make this short exchange turn out to be clear and informative.

We can't really judge her perspective or her assessments. That said, we think Mayor Weaver is an attractive public figure.

By way of contrast, we think Maddow has degenerated into a total clown.

Starting with Judy and then with Elvis, wealth and fame have eaten many people alive in our modern show business history. Wealth and fame seem to have turned Maddow into an untrustworthy clown.

On Maddow's show, there are no children in Allentown. In fact, no children exist in this country at all, except the children in Flint. She's telling us a pleasing story peopled with heroes and geniuses and a nerves-of-steel mayor—and of course with that perfect villain, to help us sleep soundly at night.

Maddow's story is a classic bedtime tale. It has little to do with journalism or information, or with this nation's actual problems, or with this nation's actual children, most of whom don't live in Flint.

It has nothing to do with the children of Allentown, who seem to be "poisoned" by lead at rough six times the rate of the children in Flint. The children of Allentown can go hang. Our own tribe's victim of corporate wealth just doesn't seem to care.

If you only watch one tape this weekend, we think you ought to watch this. Instantly, you'll see our own Rhodes scholar mugging and clowning and acting out and drumming away on her desk.

In a culture which hadn't collapsed, that person would, long ago, have been removed from the air. When we watch this persistent behavior, we often wonder if the person in question may not perhaps need some help.

Maddow is massively rich and famous; Frostenson and Kliff are not. If you want to learn about your nation, you should click on the work they've done, not on That Crap Over There.


  1. If a child has lead poisoning and there is no Republican to blame, does that child exist?

  2. Great promo. AND Rachel Maddow even gets to wear her jeans no less! Yippee

    Rache's child-like schtick is creepy. It's not that we're supposed to care about animal sounds and the like, we're supposed to be charmed by her child-like wonder. When it comes to politics and current events I prefer grownups.

    1. She is very manic and hard to watch now.

    2. What she does and what they do on Cable news is like a fun house mirror of reality.

    3. I'm not one to defend Rachel Maddow (can't stand her), but Bob is missing an important distinction between Allentown and Flint.

      Allentown’s lead problems have been traced to lead paint. Flint’s problems were caused by that city’s “emergency manager” intentionally switching water supplies of the city to the Flint River, in order to save money – money which was needed to pay for the huge tax breaks given to corporate entities.

      There’s a big difference.

      C’mon, Bob!

    4. Shhhh! No one is supposed to notice.

  3. Bob. You lack any experience in reporting. You lack any experience in broadcasting. You have never explained if your brief involvement writing op-ed pieces in Baltimore was for pay or as a volunteer.

    Yet you seem to think you have the credibility to
    suggest what should be covered, who should be interviewed, and for how long.

    In 18 years, you demonstrated no ability to attract an audience of any size or have an impact on anything you cover.

    You can't even finish an online book based on an event you have repetitively written about for nearly two decades.

    Our culture has not collapsed. Your frustration with your own failure has bubbled over.

    1. In defense of Bob he did one of the funniest comic bits I ever saw in my life on different sizes of laundry detergent. A man that can make you laugh until you cry talking about a tiny box of laundry detergent IS A GENIUS.And btw visiting this blog is voluntary soo if you hate it and Bob that much find some other website to visit and comment on.

    2. You're right. Somerby is an absolute expert on laundry detergent.

      This is why his blog is so widely read.

    3. I saw the laundry detergent routine as well.
      It explained why he went into blogging. And he is no better in his late life choice than his mid life choice.

      I wonder what happened to the children poisoned by the bad teaching of unqualified draft avoiders.

    4. Endless Parade of Douchebag TrollsFebruary 21, 2016 at 11:16 AM

      Yup, no problems with our intellectual culture.

      It's this awful little blogger that's The Bigger Problem.

    5. I always imagined Bob as tall. I guess some people associate old age with small size.

    6. I enjoy watching that space, TRMS weeknights from 9-10 standard.

  4. Bob, you spend way too much time and effort on Maddow. How big is her audience even? How big an impact does her show have on the political discourse compared to others? I don't know what Maddow's average audience size is, but her interview with Clinton garnered 1.5 million viewers, and presumably this was higher than usual. For perspective, Rush Limbaugh's audience is routinely a little over 13 million. Why not go after the most influential pundits out there? If your goal is to critique your own tribe, then instead of berating us over Maddow and Salon, you might want to focus your energies on the sources where most liberals actually get their news -- for example, CNN and NPR. NPR has at least 13 million listeners: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-listened-to_radio_programs

    But honestly, are liberal voters a bigger problem to the country and world than conservative ones? Just look at who liberals are going to vote for for president in 2016: Sanders or Clinton. Now look at who conservatives are going to vote for: Trump, Cruz, or Rubio. The difference between night and day. So again, are misinformed liberal voters really more worthy targets of your analytical gifts than misinformed conservative voters?

  5. by the way, you might want to peruse this list for some idea of what the biggest online news sources are (keeping in mind that news aggregator sites like Yahoo! and social media are where a lot of people get their news): http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/US

  6. Kevin Drum thinks he has to understand general relativity too. I think this is a guy thing. More penis measuring.

    1. A penis at rest or in motion is the same length
      in the mind's eye of its own holder.

  7. Let us briefly examine just how banal, stupid, and repetitive Bob Somerby can be.

    "Starting with Judy and then with Elvis, wealth and fame have eaten many people alive in our modern show business history. Wealth and fame seem to have turned Maddow into an untrustworthy clown."

    So, was Judy Garland the first person eaten alive by wealth and fame in modern show biz history? Was it wealth and fame or drugs and alcohol? Could it have been underlying psychological issues?

    Do I know, or you know, which Judy Bob is talking about? Could that be because we read this blog so much we know he has made the idiotic Elvis/Judy comparison to Maddow at least five times before?

    Want to see the real work of a clown? Compare this
    post to one in which Bob made the same allegations about Maddow and used the same idiotic Judy Garland/Elvis Presley repeatedly to drive home a point which proved only how wrong he can be when pursuing a target.

    "It’s time for someone to take Rachel Maddow...!

    TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2014"


    1. "Let us briefly examine just how banal, stupid, and repetitive Bob Somerby can be."

      Why? What's the point of that? What a waste of time!

    2. Why? Well, if it is worth noting over and over that someone fits the profile of Elvis/Judy wouldn't we want to examine whether to keep guns away from an old white male loner with a disappointing career hisotry and a penchant for harboring grudges?

    3. You are just demonstrating, over and over, what a jerk you are.

    4. @ 11:09 you are funnier than the odd sized box of Tide.

    5. I think Marilyn Monroe should be Bob's example.

    6. Ah, those heady days in late 2013 and early 2014, when Maddow Derangement Syndrome led to Bob's double faceplant on Govs. Christie and Ultrasound, despite the mountain of evidence before him that grew bigger with each passing day.

      No, Bob. It never was a "legitimate traffic study." We knew that pretty early on when the guys in charge of doing "legitimate traffic studies" told is it wasn't.

      And no Bob. Gov. Ultrasound's crimes were pretty serious.

      As for his repeated pop culture/literary references, by golly, Bob thinks they are smart and clever, and he ain't giving them up, no matter how germane they are to the point he is struggling to make.

    7. "Pop" culture references with "Judy and Elvis" are references made by someone oldish enough to be everybody's Grand-Pop. Or Great-Grand-Pop.

  8. From today's NY Times:

    "In jobs that followed, managers would remark that they wanted “more women” and proceed to reject qualified candidates. (Similar dynamics took place with minority candidates.) There were always reasons — not the right cultural fit, not the right experience, a phenomenon of unintentional sexism now well documented in controlled studies. I watched as men with little or irrelevant experience were hired and promoted, because they had such great ideas, or they fit in better. “We want a woman,” the conclusion seemed to be, “just not this woman.”

    Watching a primary election in which an eminently qualified woman long assumed to be a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination faces a serious challenge from an older white guy with exciting ideas, many women my age and older hear something familiar, and personal, in the now-common refrain about Hillary Clinton: “I want a woman president, just not this woman president.”


    1. Jeb Bush seems like more of a sad sack to me. Shouldn't we all be voting for him?

    2. Voting for Sanders will do absolutely nothing to advance the status of women in the USA.

    3. "Watching a primary election in which an eminently qualified woman long assumed to be a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination faces a serious challenge from an older white guy with exciting ideas....."

      creates a sense of deja vu which makes one wonder if the problem wasn't with "the assumption" that she was a shoo-in was wrong, and the problem was with her "eminent" qualifications.

    4. Well, considering that every election is a choice among the candidates before us, I would say "eminently qualified" is an understatement as it applies to Hillary.

      And come to think of it, only Al Gore seems to match her among the non-incumbents running for President on the "eminently qualified" and even prepared basis.

    5. The only official qualifications are natural born citizen residing in the US for 14 years and 35 years of age or more.

      As much as some fools fail to accept the fact, the chief qualification for President is an ability to garner enough support to win a major party nomination and then win a general election contest in enough states to get chosen by the electoral college. All the experience in the world means nothing if people don't like you enough to choose you over an opponent.

  9. "We weren't treated to an interview with Professor Marc Edwards. (Maddow still hasn't done an interview segment with Edwards, nor has she explained why he hasn't appeared.)"

    We weren't told by Bob that Maddow's show contacted Edwards and he supports the mayor's pipe replacement plan.

    We weren't told by Bob that he once demanded Maddow answer a question. We weren't told if he ever tried to contact her to ask the question directly and if not, why not? We were simply told he would treat her with contempt thereafter.

    1. Worms Still Eating Brains of Douchewater Blogger FansFebruary 22, 2016 at 9:42 AM

      "We weren't treated to an interview with Professor Marc Edwards."

      We haven't been treated to Howler coverage of the 2015 NAEP test results, have we?

  10. There's a lot of psychological projection going on with Democrats projecting all that is good and right on Obama and all that is wrong and dark on Republican candidates people who support them. And and of course the vice versa is true and has been much stronger for a much longer time. Psychologically, we the people are massively sick and massively damaged.

    1. Assuming the 6:09 comment is snark free, yet another false equivalence derp.

    2. Equivalent, perhaps. False, perhaps not.

    3. Anything's possible, perhaps.

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