Euro watch: Football first, Sunderland second!


Portrait of a world:
International football remains a peculiar cultural expression.

As we just saw with Portugal/Poland, they start with two hours of a format where it's virtually impossible to score a goal. Then, they switch to a tie-breaking format where it's virtually impossible not to.

Countries live and die on this apparently irrational arrangement. They're almost as crazy as we are.

Tomorrow, we'll start with this portrait of the British working class. It appeared in Tuesday's New York Times, written by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura.

(Be sure to note how many kids the Times got into its photo. Those People breed like rabbits. It has ever been thus.)

Should we loathe Sunderland's working class because their city voted for Leave to the tune of 61 percent? We're going to say that the answer is no, as was suggested this morning.

Amazingly, we'll give the same answer about our own country's white working class, even in this face of this peculiar expression of loathing from a very smart writer.

All that contempt and loathing tomorrow! Then, the Fourth of July!

LOATHING THE OTHERS WELL: Welshmen yes, Englishmen no!


Part 3—O'Hehir votes for contempt:
It's one of the oldest pre-human impulses.

It used to be a survival skill; now it's highly counterproductive. Despite that fact, it's been a basic part of "progressive" culture for the last fifty years. It helps explain why Donald J. Trump may end up in the White House.

We refer to the practice of inventing The Other, then showering Them with contempt. We pseudo-progressives have loved this game at least since the mid-1960s. For an example of how the game is played, consider this piece by Andrew O'Hehir at the new Salon.

First, an elementary fact. In last Thursday's Brexit vote, the constituent parts of the U.K. voted like this:
Percentages voting for Leave
England: 53.4% for Leave
Wales: 52.5% for Leave
Northern Ireland: 44.2% for Leave
Scotland: 38.0% for Leave
England and Wales look almost alike. But hold on! Not so fast!

O'Hehir's piece at the new Salon appears beneath the headlines shown below. Warning! Quite frequently, headlines at the new Salon misrepresent the article they top:
Brexit vs. Braveheart: Will the Celtic nations seek revenge on England for its historic blunder?
Scotland plots a course toward independence and Ireland ponders unity, while Wales voted "Leave" from the left
According to the headline, Wales "voted Leave from the left!" Does this mean we should admire Wales, while continuing to believe that "Hell is Other Britons?"

O'Hehir doesn't really seem to say that Wales "voted Leave from the left." But you can see why the headline writer may have struggled to capture his meaning.

In the passage shown below, O'Hehir begins expressing his contempt for the people who didn't vote the way he thinks they should have voted. Throughout this passage, O'Hehir is quoting Fearghal McGarry, "a historian at Queen’s University in Belfast."

O'Hehir seems to quote McGarry approvingly—but uh-oh! According to McGarry, progressives shouldn't feel contempt for people who voted for Leave:
O'HEHIR (6/29/16): Then there is the peculiar case of Wales, a beautiful country with a long tradition of working-class activism and a rich cultural and linguistic heritage, which once again finds itself Britain’s odd man out. If you look at the numbers, it appears that the Welsh voted to leave in virtually the same proportions as the rest of Britain did. But behind the raw vote totals lies a complicated tale of a small, struggling nation undergoing an identity crisis, well explained in this essay by Ellie Mae O’Hagan for the Independent. In brief, rural regions of the north and west, the home of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language, voted to remain in Europe, while depressed industrial regions of South Wales, which are largely English-speaking and dominated by English culture, voted to leave.

“Across England and Wales,” says McGarry, “you can see a strong pattern of economically depressed areas with relatively little immigration voting to leave.” Wales has long been a stronghold of the Labor Party, which was clearly unable to get its supporters to vote Remain in large enough numbers. So while the voting patterns appear irrational, you can’t assume that racism and xenophobia were the only important factors. “A lot of people were voting for things that are not directly connected to Europe,” McGarry continues. “They’re voting out of their sense of political disconnection, they’re voting because they feel that they’ve lost out through globalization. I don’t think the political elite anticipated that all these things would converge around this referendum.”

People on the left, McGarry says, should resist the temptation to express “contempt toward these people who are responding to the economic predicament of being left behind, feeling not represented, feeling that they don’t have much of a future. When you look at the spatial map of how people voted, there’s nothing irrational about people in areas that have been left behind for decades now rejecting the current economic and political status quo.”
In our view, McGarry is giving good sound advice, though it's hard to know exactly what he may have said to O'Hehir.

According to O'Hehir's account, McGarry says that "people on the left" should "resist the temptation to express contempt" toward working-class people who voted for Leave. If we ignore O'Hehir's asides, McGarry seems to be talking about working-class people "across England and Wales."

Note to McGarry! On the American pseudo-left, people will always rush to express their contempt for such working-class people. It's part of our pseudo-left DNA. It's our own greatest tribal tradition.

O'Hehir seems to help that process along in this typically jumbled passage. Magnanimously, he tells us that we "can’t assume that racism and xenophobia were the only important factors" in the voting patterns under review. But he seems to be talking about Wales alone, with its "rich cultural and linguistic heritage."

O'Hehir also seems to be saying that Welshmen in Wales voted for Remain while Englishmen in Wales voted for Leave, though he doesn't provide any data to let us assess the strength of this claim.

At any rate:

As O'Hehir continues, he quickly starts expressing contempt for the stupid people in England who voted in favor of Leave. American pseudo-progressives always behave this way. This helps explain why Donald J. Trump may yet end up in the White House:
O'HEHIR (continuing directly): In the spirit of Celtic solidarity and to placate the ghost of my dad—who spoke both Irish and Welsh, and could probably fake Scots Gaelic and a little Breton as well—I would like to insist that we can’t overlook the true abandoned stepchildren of the Celtic world, the Cornish and the Manx. Except that there isn’t much to say about them. Cornwall, on the extreme southwestern toe of England, voted 56 percent “Leave,” significantly higher than the nation as a whole, even though it’s one of the U.K.’s poorest regions and receives about $82 million a year in direct E.U. subsidies for infrastructure, education and economic development. Which sums up the shortsightedness and stupidity of the whole Brexit phenomenon in one sentence.
There's little to say for Those People in Cornwall! Fifty-six percent voted to Leave. It just shows how "stupid" They are!

O'Hehir has just finished quoting McGarry saying we shouldn't express contempt for working-class people who voted for Leave. But so what! As a card-carrying pseudo-progressive, O'Hehir just couldn't seem to resist.

The concept lies at the heart of our pseudo-lib culture; Those People are so freaking "stupid." And while we're at it, let's be clear. This is O'Hehir's reaction to the following facts:
Percentages voting for Leave
Cornwall: 56% for Leave
Wales: 52.5% for Leave
In Cornwall, that 56% vote shows how stupid They are. As for Wales, it's a beautiful country with a rich cultural and linguistic heritage!

This represents the extent to which we liberals will go as we insist on inventing The Others, the group we proceed to loathe.

The O'Hehirs among us love to hate; it's bred in the pre-human bone. They'll always find a way to invent and loathe The Others. It's where their "identity" comes from.

On a political basis, it's a deeply destructive impulse. Judged on the merits, it's just profoundly stupid.

This afternoon, we'll link you to a news report about some of the working-class people McGarry said we shouldn't loathe. Warning!

The people in question live in England! In the spirit of Celtic solidarity, some among us would spill with contempt.

Tomorrow: Striving to hate the working-class Over Here

Foolishness watch: Could hell really be apricot cocktails?


And other provocative thoughts:
"Hell is other people?" Is there any chance that's true?

The provocative phrase is drawn from Huis Clos (No Exit), Sartre's provocative 1944 play. Last week, a provocative young philosophy lecturer adapted Sartre's provocative phrase, using it as a way to discuss the Brexit vote.

"Hell is Other Britons," he provocatively wrote. Needless to say, the New York Times scrambled to put his people-hating essay into print.

Tom Whyman seemed to say he'd like England better if it contained no people! His provocative stylings sent us back to our most recent book about Sartre. We refer to Sarah Bakewell's provocative tome, which carries this eye-catching title:

"At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails"

Sadly, you read that right. As she starts, Bakewell says that the provocative philosophy known as existentialism got its start in 1933 over some apricot cocktails. At the mandatory web site, Penguin Random House explains the whole darn thing:
About "At the Existentialist Cafe"

From the best-selling author of How to Live, a spirited account of one of the twentieth century’s major intellectual movements and the revolutionary thinkers who came to shape it.

Paris, 1933: three contemporaries meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are the young Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and longtime friend Raymond Aron, a fellow philosopher who raves to them about a new conceptual framework from Berlin called Phenomenology. “You see,” he says, “if you are a phenomenologist you can talk about this cocktail and make philosophy out of it!”

It was this simple phrase that would ignite a movement...
Warning: Bakewell holds a philosophy degree from Essex University. That's where Whyman lectures!

So far, none of this lets us know if hell really is other people. For ourselves, we sometimes felt that unintentional comedy is Bakewell's book, which has been reviewed, and taken seriously, by all the usual suspects.

According to Bakewell, what happened when Sartre and the others decided they could make philosophy out of their cocktails? Early on, she helps us see how exciting the new philosophy had become by the early 1940s.

During the French Occupation, an ex-student of Sartre's came to him with a problem—or at least, so Sartre later said. Bakewell relates the story in the first chapter of her book.

The ex-student wanted to cross the border into Spain; he would then move on to England to join the Free French forces in exile and fight the Nazis. But the ex-student was his mother's only means of support. Also, if he disappeared, the occupying German forces might take it out on his mother.

In The Iliad, it was Nestor, the seasoned charioteer, who "always gave the best advice." Bakewell tells us what happened in this instance:
BAKEWELL (page 9): As a last resort, the young man turned to his former teacher Sartre, knowing that from him at least he would not get a conventional answer.

Sure enough. Sartre listened to his problem and said simply, "You are free, therefore choose—that is to say, invent." No signs are vouchsafed in this world, he said. None of the old authorities can relieve you of the burden of freedom. You can weigh up moral or practical considerations as carefully as you like, but ultimately you must take the plunge and do something, and it's up to you what that something is.

Sartre doesn't tell us whether the student felt this was helpful, nor what he decided to do in the end. We don't know whether he existed, or was an amalgam of several young friends or even a complete invention...
There's more, but you get the idea.

"Sartre doesn't tell us whether the student felt this was helpful?" Turnabout being fair play, Bakewell doesn't tell us how the student could have thought it helpful!

("Go back to Bulgaria!" That's what Rick said, when asked for advice, at a key point in Casablanca.)

Presumably, Sartre returned to his apricot cocktails; they form the narrative framework for Bakewell's opening chapter. They made us think of something we were told, long ago, by someone with first-hand experience, who said the great phenomenologist Heidegger had a heart-shaped swimming pool!

Bakewell's book came out in March; we cognoscenti rushed to devour it. Whyman sampled Sartre last week. It was sloshed into print by the Times.

Bullroar like this is all we have in place of a western world discourse. What can anyone do about this? If we understand his thinking correctly, Sartre would say we should choose!

Noble Nestor sighting: You're right! Just last week, PBS mentioned Nestor in Part 1 of its new series, The Greeks.

LOATHING THE OTHERS WELL: Prepared to define The Others as "trash!"


Part 2—The soul of the pseudo-progressive:
Would anyone but the New York Times ever have published such nonsense?

We refer to the anguished, eliminationist-favored essay by 27-year-old Tom Whyman, a young philosophy lecturer who took last week's Brexit vote rather hard.

Poor Whyman! In Hampshire County, where he summers with his mum, 55 percent of his fellow Brits had voted for Leave. Whyman himself would have voted Remain, had he actually managed to vote.

Displaying familiar contempt for The Others, the narrow win by Leave led Whyman to vilify all his neighbors and all his fellow citizens. He specifically cited the 80-somethings who look at him "with blank stares."

Are we sure he wasn't thinking of the unfortunate teenagers in his philosophy classes?

So upset was Whyman by the vote, in which he didn't himself take part, he imagined a better world, in which all his neighbors were dead, or at least no longer existed. An anguished headline topped his piece:

"Hell is Other Britons," the headline dramatically said.

There's no sign that his New York Times editors knew it, but Whyman was channeling Sartre, the deep-thinking existentialist deep thinker. More specifically, he was channeling an anguished line from Sartre's anguished 1944 dramaturgical work, Huis Clos (No Exit).

Here! We'll let the world's leading authority limn it:
No Exit (French: Huis Clos) is a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The original title is the French equivalent of the legal term in camera, referring to a private discussion behind closed doors...

The play is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. It is the source of Sartre's especially famous and often misinterpreted quotation "L'enfer, c'est les autres" or "Hell is other people," a reference to Sartre's ideas about the look and the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object in the world of another consciousness.
Hell is other people—presumably, all other people! That's the way poor Whyman felt in the wake of the narrow election in which, in best slackistentialist fashion, he himself failed to take part.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, did Whyman find himself caught in the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object in the world of another consciousness? In a sense, but not as such!

At any rate, the New York Times rushed to publish the ridiculous, human-hating madness which had started life as a blog post. And the Times must have loved Whyman's post a great deal. They made the youngster's ludicrous piece the featured essay on the front page of last weekend's hard-copy Sunday Review. Presumably, they dumped some other piece at the last minute, they loved Whyman's essay so much.

(Full disclosure: We were forced to read Huis Clos as a high school senior, part of our French 5 class. At least one local wag rewrote Sartre's famous line at that time. "Hell is being required to read Huis Clos," this local wag thoughtfully said.)

Would anyone but the New York Times have published such an appalling piece? We will guess that the answer is no—but in comments, many Times readers seemed to understand the point of the piece within the New York Times context.

These commenters happily told the world how great the young philosopher's essay was. More specifically, they said the essay reminded them of the hell of the other people in the American towns where they had been forced to grow up.

Progressives, can we talk? In the context of the New York Times, Whyman's essay was an attack on Those People, The Others, the sluggard white working class.

Holding contempt for such people has long been a prominent part of pseudo-progressive culture. Such open contempt lies at the soul of the foppish Times and its low-IQ, self-impressed readers.

There's a long history here. In the 1950s, Hollywood films of William Inge scripts helped the world understand that everyone in the Midwest was crazy. See, for example, Splendor in the Grass and Picnic.

(We especially recommend Rosalind Russell's especially crazy breakdown in Picnic.)

At the same time, Hollywood films of Tennessee Williams and Erskine Caldwell scripts helped us see that everyone in the white South was crazy. (We especially recommend Baby Doll and God's Little Acre.) The mentality behind such works produced a famous moment in December 1972, when Times film critic Pauline Kael expressed surprise that Nixon had won the White House again.

“I live in a rather special world," Kael was quoted saying, by her own New York Times. "I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

She didn't say that she could smell them. But an extremist would say that she was tilting that way.

Existentialists, please! Disdain for the white working class is a long-standing staple of pseudoliberal culture. We'll guess that the New York Times saw its spirit in Whyman's human-hating piece, in which he announced that his home town is "my own personal hell;" that "you will find the demons crawling" if you examine life in that town; and, most gloriously, that "Hell is Other Britons."

Among the right-thinking philosopher class, contempt for The Others can run very strong where The Others are the white working-class. Consider a book review in last Wednesday's New York Times.

The review was written by Dwight Garner, a perfectly reasonable New York Times book reviewer. The new book bears a daring, provocative title:

"White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America"

The new book is by Professor Isenberg of LSU. We often marvel at her political pieces in the new improved Salon. We soon found ourselves puzzled by aspects of her new book.

As he started his review, Garner indicated that Isenberg's sentiments lay with the lower-income whites whose history she was writing. More specifically, it seemed that Isenberg was writing in protest of the way this group has been reviled down through American history.

That said, we were soon puzzled by some quotations from Isenberg's book—by this one, for example:
GARNER (6/22/16): America did not develop a House of Lords, yet we imported the rigging of the British class system, Ms. Isenberg argues. This was hardly a land of equal opportunity. Brutal labor awaited most migrants. There was little social mobility.

“Puritan religious faith did not displace class hierarchy, either; the early generations of New Englanders did nothing to diminish, let alone condemn, the routine reliance on servants or slaves,” she observes. “Land was the principal source of wealth, and those without any had little chance to escape servitude. It was the stigma of landlessness that would leave its mark on white trash from this day forward.”
It would leave its mark on white trash, full stop? White trash, with no scare quotes around the pejorative term?

That seemed like a strange thing to write. But as we continued along, Garner dropped a few similar quotes:
GARNER: From this beginning, Ms. Isenberg moves confidently forward, through, for example, the class issues that undergirded the Civil War and the popular eugenics movement, favored by Theodore Roosevelt, that marked many as targets for sterilization. Slavery and racism are hardly discounted in this book, but she maintains her focus on poor whites.

She singles out North Carolina as “what we might call the first white trash colony.” It was swampy and, thanks to its shoal-filled shoreline, lacked a major port. It had no real planter class. Its citizens were viewed as sluggards, “cowardly Blockheads” in the words of one early writer. Another referred to the state as the lawless “sinke of America.”


Trailer parks, redolent of “liberty’s dark side,” come under her appraisal, as do movies like “Deliverance.” (She finds its redneck caricatures to be loathsome.) The careers of Dolly Parton, Jimmy Carter, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Bill Clinton are analyzed. Mr. Clinton’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky resulted in a spectacle that the author likens to a “white trash outing on the grand national stage.”
Really? We might call North Carolina the white trash colony, full stop? Bill Clinton's affair could be likened to a “white trash outing on the grand national stage?"

We were puzzled by the use of this pejorative in a book by an august professor. And alas! When we got a chance to examine Professor Isenberg's actual book, it seemed to us that she was strangely cavalier in her use of this ugly pejorative.

Her carelessness seemed to have infected her publisher. This text is taken live and direct from the book's dust jacket:

The wretched and landless poor have always been a part of American culture from the time of the earliest British colonial settlements. In her ground-breaking history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg explodes our comforting myths about equality in the land of opportunity, uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present poor white trash.

"The ever-present poor white trash?" That strikes us as unusual language—but at the Penguin Random House web site, the formulation is even stranger.

The lofty publisher refers to, and yes we're quoting, "the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash." That formulation strikes us as deeply strange, and yet as highly familiar.

Darn those poor white trash! They're always embarrassing, if occasionally entertaining! So of course are the pseudo-progressives who produce the weekly Sunday Review, perhaps the most foppish Sunday section American journalism has ever produced.

"Hell is Other [People]," a rather peculiar young Brit declared. The New York Times rushed his craziness into print.

Reading comments, it seemed to us that readers had discerned the message. The finer folk always seem to know what people like Whyman have meant.

Tomorrow: Hell is the white working class

Later today: Deep-thinking Sartre's apricot cocktails

LOATHING THE OTHERS WELL: Philosopher loathes The Others well!

TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2016

Part 1—The soul of the New York Times:
Tom Whyman, age 27, had a rough go of it Thursday.

Whyman summers in Alresford, by which he seems to mean this small town and civil parish in the City of Winchester district of Hampshire, England, as opposed to Alresford, Essex.

Whyman summers there with his parents; this seems to trigger his loathing of everyone else on the face of the Earth. We say this based upon Whyman's account of what happened to him last week.

Still being perhaps a bit of a slacker, Whyman had failed to make arrangements to cast his Brexit vote in Alresford, the beautiful town where he summers. For this reason, his time was wasted on trains last Thursday, and he never quite managed to vote.

That said, Whyman hadn't shown much interest in Brexit until Jo Cox was killed. Did we mention the fact that Whyman may possibly still be a bit of a slacker?

In the ridiculous piece which headed the New York Times' Sunday Review this weekend, Whyman described his ennui-flavored lack of engagement in best existentialist fashion. Only the New York Times, no one else, would publish such manifest crap:
WHYMAN (6/26/16): Since my late teens, every effort I have ever exerted has been with the intention of escaping Alresford. And yet, I am an early-career academic and so I am forced to move back, every summer, to live with my parents because I cannot afford to pay rent elsewhere after my temporary teaching contract ends. Then, sometimes, I think: What if I’m actually secretly comfortable here? What if I have chosen the security of death in Alresford over the risks of life elsewhere? What if I am in fact fully in the clutches of Alresfordism?

It was for psychological reasons, as much as anything else, that I didn’t register to vote in Alresford. Registering to vote here would have felt like actually moving here. I registered in Essex, where I live during the academic year, for the recent local elections, so I just thought I’d retain that registration for the Brexit referendum. I also don’t like filling in forms, which is why I didn’t register to vote by mail or look into how I’d amend my registration.

I admit that I was very complacent about all this. I didn’t think one vote would make a difference. And besides, I wasn’t particularly motivated to use my vote anyway. Brexit, supported by some very bad people, would definitely have some bad consequences, but on the other hand, who knows what positive effects it might have? I wasn’t willing to endorse it, but, hey, I certainly bought the argument that it might be a worthwhile shake-up to the system.

My complacency lasted until June 16, when Jo Cox, a Labour member of Parliament and a vocal defender of immigration, was killed;
the man charged in her death, Thomas Mair, had ties to far-right groups and introduced himself in court by the name “death to traitors.” That shocked me into a realization that this referendum wasn’t really a referendum about whether or not we should remain in the European Union. It was a referendum on immigration and on race—on whether to have our borders open or closed.
Do we detect the hint of a tonal borrowing from Camus? Whyman, you see, isn't just any "early-career academic." According to the New York Times, he's a "lecturer in philosophy at the University of Essex."

By his own more specific description, he's "a philosopher who works at the University of Essex. In my day-to-day life, I do research about (and teach) critical theory, German Idealism, and ethical naturalism. This blog is a place where I publish what I guess I would call ‘cultural criticism’. Philosophy is the most serious thing of all, but in order to meet the immense stupidity of reality today, it cannot confine itself to pretensions of academic seriousness."

Do we detect the hint of a borrowing from Camus? In part, we ask because the title of Whyman's revealing piece—"Hell is Other Britons"—is a reference to immortal Sartre, as we'll note below.

At any rate, you can detect the hint of the slacker in Whyman's account of his emergence as a despairing anti-Brexit hard-liner. Two weeks ago, he didn't much care one way or the other! By Sunday, he was condemning the whole human race, over the result of a vote in which he didn't take part.

You may think we're exaggerating about his alleged condemnation of the whole human race. Surely, you will think, this young philosopher issued no such blanket denunciation—and if he did, the New York Times certainly wouldn't have published such a manifesto.

In fact, that is precisely where Whyman was led by his existential despair concerning a topic he didn't care about until June 16 or later. Inevitably, the outcome of the Brexit vote has filled him with loathing for The Others, pretty much for the whole human race.

He seems to want them all to die, or at least to disappear. Here's part of what he wrote this Sunday. It stems from his vast existential despair about the place where he grew up and summers:
WHYMAN: My parents’ house stands in the middle of a 1980s housing development of suburban ugliness, all detached red-brick blocks and generously proportioned driveways. There is not supposed to be nature in the suburbs, but in Alresford (pronounced AWLS-fud) nature is still powerful—every year the grass at the top of the road will suddenly grow tall, and fill with wildflowers, hedgehogs, little birds of delirious and unusual colors. Every morning the birds wake you up at 4 with a chorus of hoots and trills.

But no sooner has nature started to assert itself than the grass gets cut back and the mornings return to being silent and still. Alresford becomes human again. Human in a normal, provincial English way, in a place where people own homes, save for pensions and vote to leave the European Union—as 55 percent of the population of Hampshire county did on Thursday.

Sometimes, in the summer, I walk up the hill and I look out over it, the housing development on one side and the Georgian town center at the bottom of the other, and I have this fantasy image of how it once was, before Alresford was founded in the Middle Ages, when all of this was untouched: just the wild, untamed nature that it keeps wanting to turn itself back into. And sometimes, I think: I wish that would happen. Because all that humans have ever done here is ruin things.

Alresford is my personal hell.
Whyman doesn't seem to like the fact that Alresford is "human." More specifically, fifty-five percent of the people in Hampshire County disagreed with the judgment he only recently reached about Brexit, and he seems to be taking it hard.

The town in which mummy and daddy live "is my personal hell," Whyman explained in his anguished essay. As he continued, he sketched his loathing of The Others in crazier, ugly detail:
WHYMAN (continuing directly): We are not used to thinking that a place like this—a pleasant town with a pretty center—might actually be hell. There is almost no poverty and only the occasional act of violence. There are good schools, a range of shops, a heritage railway. In fact, it’s somewhere that a lot of people, apparently, actively want to live: Houses in the center easily sell for upward of a million pounds. (What they will cost once the vote to leave the European Union makes the economy crater remains to be seen.)

But dig below the surface, and you will find the demons crawling. You can see them in the looks that residents give you when they pass; sneering snobs glaring down their noses with entitlement; small-minded townies, bullying you with eyes that you recognize from the primary school lunchroom; the old people, 80 and above, wearing blank stares. You can hear it in their bothered tutting at the bus stop (especially if they ever hear a visitor mispronouncing the name of the town), the shots that constantly ring out from across the countryside as they set about murdering as many of the local pheasants as they can.
Whyman can see "the demons crawling" everywhere in the personal hell he's too lazy to abandon. More specifically, Whyman can see "the demons crawling" when he looks at The Others.

Forty-five percent of the people in his county voted the same way he would have voted, had he managed to vote. But Whyman seems to loathe everyone in his town. An instinctive democrat, he loathes them all the same.

He even loathes the 80-somethings, who he imagines snubbing him through their imagined "blank stares." Newtown may have started like this, a sensible person might think.

By the end of his piece, the philosopher is explicitly wishing that everyone in Alresford would cease to exist. Everyone in all of England, in fact!

"I want a demented, throbbing, fecund nature to overrun this whole country," the disappointed philosopher-king writes at the end of his piece. He wants that demented nature "to overturn the wretched consequences of the laws that we have, in our stupidity, set for ourselves."

As noted, the headline on Whyman's essay says this: "Hell is Other Britons." It's a reference to Sartre's demon-infested Huis Clos (No Exit), in which one of the characters makes the eternal declaration:

"Hell is other people."

More on immortal Sartre tomorrow. For today, let's note what makes Whyman's piece so revealing.

Whyman's cry for the death of all humans started as a blog post. Incredibly but inevitably, the New York Times became aware of the post—and sure enough!

Instead of suggesting that Whyman seek help, the Times decided to publish his piece! ("Sorry for selling out," the philosopher declares.)

Indeed, the Times didn't just publish this slacker's lament; they made it the featured piece on the front page of last weekend's Sunday Review. We'd call that decision revealing.

Whyman is still quite young; we'd be inclined to say he seems depressive, and quite foolish at this point. That said, his loathing and contempt for his neighbors captures a cultural style of the pseudo-left over the past many years.

That cultural style is ugly and self-defeating. On the merits, it's breathtakingly stupid, but it's very much ours.

Sensible people of the left can learn a great deal from the loathing expressed in Whyman's piece. Americans can learn a great deal from the fact that the New York Times published his troubling blog post.

We'll assume that young Whyman is well-intentioned—but on its face, his essay is a paean to loathing and the desire for death. It's also an instructional manual in the loathing of the underclass, The Others, the subhumans who create Whyman's personal Hell.

His piece is all about loathing The Others, us humans. Inevitably, the New York Times rushed to publish the piece on the highest platform it holds.

Tomorrow: Immortal Sartre's apricot cocktails. Also, lessons in loathing "white trash"

Court watch: Ultrasound walks, at least for now!

MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2016

The Court scolds Rachel Maddow:
We were happy to see the Supreme Court strike down the Texas abortion law, which seemed like a fraud on its face.

We were also glad to see the Court let Governor Ultrasound walk, at least for now.

The Court's decision on Ultrasound was unanimous. Let's just say it: The Court delivered a telling blow to the Creeping Maddowism our tribe has been getting sold.

What's involved in the set of beliefs the experts now describe as "Maddowism?" In its essence, Maddowism involves the belief that an accusation is the equivalent of a conviction.

It involves the desire to see everyone sent to jail, especially if they're from the other tribe and you're too self-involved and self-adoring to be able to figure out how to beat them at the ballot box. It involves the desire to see their children humiliated in the process, where possible.

Maddow has been selling this philosophy for years. It's a small, crabbed, unintelligent approach which, in Maddow's case, borders on a type of fanaticism.

Rachel Maddow has never heard of prosecutorial overreach, even as a theoretical possibility. Today, in a unanimous decision, the Court said Maddow was over her skis during the endless segments in which she taught us to hate Ultrasound over a bunch of trivial matters, up to and including the body wash he uses.

Why was Ultrasound allowed to walk? In this passage, the Washington Post's Robert Barnes offers part of the explanation:
BARNES (6/27/16): The McDonnell case stems from more than $175,000 in loans and gifts—a Rolex watch, vacations, partial payments of a daughter’s wedding reception, among them—that the governor and his family received from Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. Williams, the chief executive of Star Scientific, wanted state universities to perform important clinical tests on a dietary supplement the company had developed.

The gifts were not barred by Virginia law, and the tests were not conducted. But federal prosecutors said Williams’s generosity was part of an illegal quid pro quo arrangement. McDonnell’s part of the deal, they said, came in the form of meetings arranged to connect Williams with state officials, a luncheon Williams was allowed to throw at the governor’s mansion to help launch the product, and a guest list Williams was allowed to shape at a mansion reception meant for health-care leaders.
The gifts were not barred by Virginia law! The tests were not conducted! In our view, it's probably a bad idea that Virginia permits such gifts and loans. But Virginia does permit such gifts and loans, and the "payoffs" to Williams were always absurdly trivial.

For that matter, so were the gifts and loans. Some of that $175,000 comes from value imputed to letting McDonnell use Williams' less-than-spectacular vacation home in southwest Virginia for occasional vacations.

Warning! Democratic presidents have been accepting free use of fancier vacation homes since 1993. A lot of pols will end up in jail if we follow the road of unfettered Maddowism, in which a crackpot corporate media star fills our heads with unintelligent, small-minded junk.

Concerning that corporate media star, you might consider this:

Maddow is reportedly paid $7 million per year by her own corporate bag men. When Maddow kept hunting Ultrasound about the price of his body wash, a person who accepts such massive largesse was trying to get a political enemy thrown into jail for pennies on the dollar.

Maddow isn't a public official, of course; she's simply a corporate hack who pretends to do "the news." But make no mistake—there's almost nothing she won't do to please the bosses who bribe her and affect her conduct with that $7 million per year. She's been feeding us liberals ridiculous bullroar for the past several years in exchange for that corporate swag, dumbing us down in the process.

Maddow's money-grubbing corruption dwarfs that of the man she loathes. We were glad to see McDonnell walk, at least for now.

He got to drive a Ferrari one time. On a certain cable news channel, his Javert pockets the moon.


MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2016

Conclusion—The provost can't be disturbed:
Was the sentence given to Brock Turner too lenient? Was it much too lenient?

We can't answer your questions. For starters, we aren't fans of punishment culture. We're not sure we've ever been happy to hear that someone is going to jail.

More specifically, we don't know much about sentencing decisions in cases of this general type. Check that! In fact, we don't know anything about sentencing decisions in cases of this general type. Of course, neither do the million fiery pseudo-progressives who signed Professor Dauber's petition to get the local judge fired.

We don't really know what we're talking about. This rarely stops us modern pseudos when we stage one of our hunts.

Alas! We modern pseudo-progressives are highly skilled with our various species of dogma. In this case, our dogma tells us that we mustn't discuss the culture of campus drinking in connection with a case like this, in which a jury found that Turner was guilty of sexual assault.

The intersection between campus drinking and these endless cases is painfully clear. But our dogma tells us we mustn't go there, and we modern pseudo-progressives are happy childish slaves to our various dogmas.

In the current case, our love of dogma and moral dudgeon led us to stage two of our hunts. First, we chased down the college freshman who was convicted of assault.

People can judge that as they wish. After that, more remarkably, we chased down the local judge.

Our perspective on these matters is somewhat different. If we wanted to get a lynch mob running, we'd chase the provost and president first, then inquire about the availability of Stanford's highly august professors.

In modern pseudo-liberal culture, Homey don't play it that way. We tend to go after the little guy while letting august figures slide.

Our love of dogma intersects with our other known skill, our skill at inventing scripted stories replete with heroes and demons. If we have to disappear or invent facts to make our stories less ambiguous, we're typically willing to do it.

If we have to stress irrelevant facts, we're willing to do that too. See this morning's postscript.

Our mainstream press corps has worked in these ways for several decades now. We pseudo-progressives have come to feel that we like this culture too.

As we've read about the current case, we've been struck by the elements which add a bit of ambiguity to the wonderfully admirable outrage we've derived from the application of our various dogmas. Mainstream journalists have tended to skip past these elements as they push for maximum outrage about the outrageous behavior of the local judge.

For ourselves, we'll speak today on behalf of ambiguity. Understanding that others won't follow us there, we'll at least mention these points:

The case of the prior arrest: According to the Los Angeles Times, Turner "was arrested before the sexual assault in an unrelated incident." The on-line version of the report fails to explain that statement. But Rocha and Mejia do at least say this:
ROCHA AND MEJIA (6/10/16): According to prosecutors, Turner and members of his swim team were stopped by a deputy after they were spotting drinking beer on campus and then tried to run away. He was wearing a bright orange tuxedo and smelled of alcohol. Turner wasn’t 21 years old and had a fake driver’s license, according to prosecutors.
This incident occurred in November 2014, two months before the events in which Turner committed the assault. In this prior incident, Turner and others were chased through the Stanford campus because they were drinking beer.

We'll only note that Turner still "wasn't 21 years old" in January 2015, when the fraternity party in question occurred. (In fact, he was still 19.) But so what? At that party, he was served alcohol until his blood alcohol content reached 0.17, more than twice the legal limit for driving a car.

Turner was 19; presumably, serving him that alcohol was illegal. But where a campus policeman once chased him around, now the fraternity proceeded to get him shit-faced drunk, in apparent violation of state law. This is why we'd start by chasing the provost, president and professors around, long before we'd try to launch our death threats at the local judge.

Turner's victim was over 21, but she was served so much alcohol at that party that she was black-out drunk by the time she left (0.25, three times the legal limit). A bar and bar-tender would face legal sanctions for serving her that much booze, then letting her walk out the door. This is why we'd be inclined to chase the provost around in this latest case, along with Stanford's august professors, before we'd to get the tribe sending threats to the judge, who had to sort out the tragic results of this deliberate, enabled mess.

The recommendation of the heroic professor: When we get our lynch mobs running, we quickly create our heroes and demons. This keeps our story on second-grade level, where we prefer to live.

In this case, we invented the heroic professor, Professor Dauber, who was also a long-time family friend of the victim. We'll only note this:

In a letter to the local judge,
Professor Dauber seemed to recommend a sentence of 2-3 years. Beyond that, she seemed to anticipate that Turner, who was 20 years old at sentencing, would serve only a portion of that time.

"If the court adheres to the statutory minimums, Turner will be out of prison by the time he is 22," the heroic professor wrote. "He will have plenty of opportunity to finish his education, put this behind him, and have a second chance at his life."

This heroic professor specializes in the very important matter of sexual assault. She may have done lots of good work in this general area.

We only note that her recommendation was rarely cited by journalists when they helped us gather our rope to chase the local judge. At the Los Angeles Times, Rocha and Mejia framed his unfeeling behavior in this more typical way:
ROCHA AND MEJIA: Turner was convicted in March of three felony counts: assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.

He was facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, while prosecutors asked Persky to sentence him to six years in prison.

Instead, Persky sentenced Turner to six months in county jail
and three years of probation. Turner is likely to serve only half of that sentence due to California’s felony sentencing realignment.
Good work! Readers weren't told that the probation officer had recommended a sentence of 4-6 months. Nor were they told that the heroic professor only seemed to recommend 2-3 years, with less time actually served.

Readers were given a more exciting framework, helping them stoke their glorious anger. The judge could have given him 14 years! Prosecutors asked for six!

This selective presentation helped stoke our fury at the local judge. The death threats began rolling in.

Concerning those letters: The local judge had to assess a selection of letters and statements about the case. Readers were told about the foolishness and the apparent dissembling in two or three of the pro-Turner letters. We weren't told about the possible shortcomings in statements supporting the victim.

If we might borrow from Mr. T, we pity the judge when we see the statements he had to consider. In our view, parts of the letter from the heroic professor were completely foolish, given the circumstance which surrounded the case. In her own statement to the court, the victim discussed her history of drinking in a way which may have been as disingenuous as Turner's discussion of his own prior drinking.

The victim wasn't charged with a crime, of course. Still, we felt sorry for the judge when we saw some of the nonsense he was forced to sift. Because of the dogmas which keep us from discussing the intersection between alcohol abuse and sexual assault, the public never had to hear about any of this.

The protest by the heroic juror: After the local judge announced the disgraceful sentence, a juror stepped forward to protest. He was quickly cast in the role of the heroic juror.

There was no sign that this heroic juror knew his aspic from his elbow when it came to sentencing practices in such cases, but when we get our lynch mobs running, nobody cares about that. Beyond that, might we ask a question?

How did the jury find Turner guilty of "assault with intent to rape?" Even the heroic professor only said this in her letter to the unfeeling judge:

"Had Good Samaritans not intervened, [the victim] likely would have been raped in public."

We're not sure how the professor can feel she knows even that. But "likely" isn't "proven beyond a reasonable doubt." Somehow, though, the jury felt it knew enough to convict Turner on that charge. Is it possible that the jury may gotten a bit out over its skis? You will never see such a question discussed in the wake of such a case.

A few ancillary questions: What did you think about the 19-year sentence the teenager got in this recent case? What did you think about last week's long-delayed resolution of this police homicide case?

Oh, that's right! Those cases don't fit the standard templates through which we're fed our childish tribal gruel. You'll never see those cases discussed. Simple put, we pseudos don't care about the people involved in those cases.

"Hell is other Britons," a brave fellow has now declared. Needless to say, the New York Times thought his statement was great.

Tomorrow, we'll build a new line of inquiry out of that stirring declaration. For ourselves, we'll only say his: increasingly, hell is the childish conduct of other pseudo-liberals.

Ambiguity isn't our friend. We prefer our heroes and demons straight.

We like the chase the local judges around. Within the realm of our childish minds, the provost can't be disturbed.

A bar tender faces legal trouble if he behaves as that Stanford fraternity did. That said, the frats just keep on pouring, with the same results again and again and again.

Young people are hurt again and again as this crackpot culture proceeds. In the realm of our simple and childish minds, the provost, president and professors know nothing about this problem.

Cast in the role of the Skittles: We enjoy inventing fake facts. We enjoy disappearing facts which introduce complexity into our games.

We also like to stress irrelevant facts which set the tone for our morality tales. In this case, the dumpster was the irrelevant player. It was widely cited for its bathetic effect. It was cast in the role of the Skittles.

This is the way our childish minds actually work. As the great existentialist declared in Huis Clos, "Hell is other people!"

Astonishment watch: Yglesias joins "Buzzards" reading group!


Slowest kid in the class:
We just read a new post by Matt Yglesias via a link from Kevin Drum. It appears at the brainy site, Vox.

Yglesias' post concerns test scores from major urban school systems. We take it as proof of the following points:

Yglesias is the slowest kid in the whole school system. In the entire system, not just in the whole school.

Drum was right all along. Until fairly recently, lead in the air fried the brains of everyone in the whole country.

Almost surely, Donald Trump is going to win. Our team is simply too incompetent to succeed at any task.

Yglesias' post is stunning, amazing. How did our vaunted liberal team turn out to be like this?

Hopelessness watch: Trump calls Clinton world-class liar!


Big scribes don't know how to respond:
Yesterday, in a major address, Candidate Trump said that Candidate Clinton is "a world-class liar."

The irony there should have been apparent. Even as Candidate Trump lodged this charge, his own endless assortment of misstatements continued unabated.

Some of Candidate Trump's misstatements concerned Candidate Clinton. Some concerned Candidate Trump himself.

At one point, for example, Trump said this. Like rust, this claim never sleeps:
TRUMP (6/22/16): It all started with her bad judgment in supporting the war in Iraq in the first place. Though I was not in government service, I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war. And yes, even before the war ever started.
Candidate Trump actually wasn't "among the earliest to criticize the rush to war" in Iraq. And no, he actually didn't do that "even before the war ever started."

Those claims are untrue, but so what? Trump has been uttering forms of that howler ever since last summer. And from that day to this, our big "news orgs," including our biggest Potemkin newspapers, have made no real attempt to report and challenge his misstatements about Iraq.

More generally, those big news orgs have made no attempt to report and challenge Trump's general dissembling, which has extended through a number of topics worthy of front-page review.

There were quite a few Grade A groaners in Trump's latest speech. We'll mention a few of those groaners tomorrow, but the more remarkable part of yesterday's speech is the way a set of major journalists have responded to it.

Michelle Goldberg is a partisan liberal who supported Clinton over Sanders. In this high-profile piece at Slate, she shows that she has no idea how to respond to Trump's groaners.

Maggie Haberman is marketed as an impartial political reporter for the New York Times. If we assume good faith on Haberman's part, her news report about Trump's speech is a study in incompetence in the face of misstatement.

We'll complete today's rule of three with Jonathan Chait, a long-time top-shelf liberal. In this post for New York magazine, he thinks he's putting one of Trump's strangest misstatements to rest.

More specifically, he claims that the New York Times has done so. His standards for such journalistic performance are just remarkably soft.

We can't bring ourselves to review these reports today. They betray an almost total lack of basic journalistic skill in the face of misstatement.

Our discourse has been driven by howlers since long before we started this site in 1998. Even now, all these years later, our major scribes lack even the most basic skills when faced with major dissembling and in-your-face, groaning misstatements.

Tomorrow, we'll start with Goldberg's piece. Goldberg is a Clinton supporter, but good God! What puzzling work!

PROVOST/PROFESSORS/TEENAGERS/DOGMA: Concerning that probation report!


Part 4—Lassettre disappeared:
How much of Brock Turner's story is actually true?

We can't really answer that question. Turner, who was quite drunk at the time, says he was given consent by Jane Doe, who was even drunker.

(The victim in this case has been variously referred to as Jane Doe and as Emily Doe. We'll use "Jane Doe" today.)

A jury convicted Turner of assault; presumably, they didn't accept his story. It's also true, on a legal basis, that a person who is black-out drunk pretty much can't give consent, not even to a college freshman who's almost equally drunk.

Turner's actions that night produced three criminal convictions. Having said that, we'll also say this:

When we read the endless news reports about events of this type, our thoughts often turn to the august provosts and presidents who preside over the drunken culture in which such assaults take place. We're struck by their role in this crackpot culture—this illegal crackpot culture, which has proven destructive and dangerous, in so many ways, to so many young people.

Frequently, we also think about the journalists who report and opine about these frequent, appalling events. For one example out of many, let's return to Leonard Pitts, who wrote a journalistically instructive column about the Stanford assault.

As we noted yesterday, Pitts is accomplished, intelligent, decent. That said, we think he showed bad judgment in the degree of fury he chose to direct at the local judge who had to deal with the latest outcome of the Stanford provost's illegal, crackpot culture.

We thought Pitts was over his skis in the degree of fury he aimed at that local judge. Journalistically, we think his judgment was especially poor when we consider the role of a second local official—a person Pitts disappeared from his account of the judge's decision.

We refer to Monica Lassettre, the local probation officer who provided sentencing recommendations to Aaron Persky, the widely reviled local judge.

Lassettre has sometimes been mentioned in news reports about this case. The New York Times did so just once, midway through this lengthy report by Thomas Fuller.

What is the role of the "probation officer" in a case like this? very few journalists have tried to explain this very basic point.

Fuller's text represents the only time that a New York Times reader learned that a female probation officer, whatever that is, recommended a slightly more lenient sentence than the one the widely-reviled local judge delivered. According to Nexis, this is the only time Lassettre's name has appeared in the glorious Times:
FULLER (6/13/16): The degree to which the inebriation of both Mr. Turner and the woman should have been a factor in sentencing was a central point of contention.

Monica Lassettre, the probation officer who wrote sentencing recommendations, advised the judge to be lenient partly on the grounds that Mr. Turner was drunk. ''This case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant's level of intoxication.''

She recommended four to six months in a county jail, even though Mr. Turner faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison. She also based her recommendation on what she said was his ''sincere remorse and empathy for the victim,'' and his lack of a prior criminal record.

Alaleh Kianerci, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, saw the woman's intoxication as a reason for a harsher sentence, and she urged the judge to impose six years. The fact that the victim was so intoxicated was an ''aggravating factor warranting a prison sentence,'' Ms. Kianerci wrote.
The prosecutor wanted a six-year sentence. The probation officer recommended four to six months in the county jail.

Persky's sentence landed on the high end of Lassettre's recommendation. For whatever reason, her name has appeared in the New York Times on just that one occasion. The very fact of her recommendation has been widely disappeared.

Who is Monica Lassettre and why is she doing these things? On a more elementary level, what's the role of the local "probation officer" in matters of this type?

Very few papers, the Times included, have bothered with that second question. Most papers have focused on disappearing Lassettre, thereby depriving readers of a basic fact:

There's someone else who could be receiving their furious threats! How fair is it when our nation's mob of know-it-alls threaten the judge alone?

In our view, Pitts authored a particularly inflammatory treatment of the local judge. We think he showed extremely poor judgment when he engaged in this conduct without mentioning this fact:

A second official who reviewed the case recommended a slightly more lenient sentence!

Why did Lassettre make that recommendation? To what extent might her recommendation, and Persky's decision, have been in line with previous sentences in similar cases, to the extent that such cases may be said to exist?

We don't know the answer to such questions, in part for an obvious reason. We've read the New York Times' accounts of this case. We've also read the inflammatory column by Pitts.

In accord with modern outrage culture, Pitts wanted his outraged readers to hang the disgraceful (male) judge. He skipped right past the (female) probation officer, whose recommendation the judge had adopted.

Why complicate the tale?

Across the press corps, across the nation, the usual gang of loudmouths and hacks began explaining Persky's motives in highly unflattering ways. According to Pitts, the judge had "compassion for the rapist" but lacked same "for the victim."

To our ear, that was a dangerous thing to say. Later, the godlike columnist said we "ought to do whatever you can to fix a culture that makes possible a Brock Turner—and an Aaron Persky."

To our ear, those were dangerous things to say. That said, Pitts helped his readers bathe in the glow of their glorious rage by disappearing the second official who saw the case the same way Persky did, for reasons Pitts simply skipped past.

Why did the female probation officer reach the same judgment as the male judge who was just a hack from Stanford who feels compassion for rapists? (Under terms of California law, Turner wasn't charged with rape.)

As a consumer of American "news," you don't have to ask! Our "journalists" will make the matter much, much simpler for you. All across our crackpot land, the very fact of her recommendation will be usefully disappeared.

This is the way the successors to our upper-end "press corps" now typically play the game. In accord with the values of modern culture, they help us bathe ourselves in our glorious outrage and in our glorious dogma.

As a general matter, this now-familiar standard practice hasn't worked especially well. Tomorrow, we'll touch upon a widely-cited, completely irrelevant fact.

Tomorrow: Days of dogma! Letters to the judge

Tribe watch: Jonathan Chait sees an absolute difference!


Tribal delusions and war:
We've often said that our own liberal tribe has started to ape the very bad practices of players like Rush and Sean.

Jonathan Chait disagrees. In a new post, he reviews a discussion by Jonathan Rauch of our failing political culture.

To Chait, conservatives are Goofus and we liberals are still Gallant. For starters, consider this passage:
CHAIT (6/22/16): The more closely we look at the composition of the two parties, the more obvious it is that only one of them truly exhibits the tendencies [Rauch] describes. Over the last decade, writers like me, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, and Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have written about the growing asymmetry between the two parties. The GOP, but not the Democratic Party, is fully identified with an ideological movement. The almost-all-white Republican Party is far more ethnically monolithic than the polyglot Democratic Party, and more ideologically monolithic, too—more than two-thirds of Republicans identify themselves as conservative, while fewer than half of Democrats call themselves “liberal.” (Self-identified moderates and conservatives comprise a majority of the party’s supporters, albeit a shrinking one.) Democratic voters rely on news sources that, whatever their unconscious bias, strive to follow principles of objectivity and nonpartisanship. Republican voters mostly trust Fox News and other party organs that merely amplify the party’s message.
That's straight outta Goofus and Gallant! Goofus mostly trusts Fox News and other party organs. By way of contrast, Gallant relies on news sources which sometimes display unconscious bias despite their good intentions.

Liberals, please! Our direct counterpart to Fox News is MSNBC. It's silly to think that MSNBC displays only an "unconscious bias," nothing more, despite its good intentions.

Already, Chait is displaying a severe myopia. In the passage we highlight below, the pundit goes over the edge.

Except as an example of Hard Dogmatic Tribal Vision, the highlighted claims makes zero sense. That is especially true when you click Chait's link:
CHAIT (continuing directly): The political scientists Matt Grossmann and Dave Hopkins have found that Democrats tend to conceive of their policies in concrete terms, while Republicans present theirs in ideologically abstract terms. The pragmatic deal-making Rauch venerates is simply far more compatible with the style of the modern Democrats than the Republicans...

A series of polls have all found that Democratic-leaning voters want their leaders to compromise, while Republican-leaning voters do not. Many Democrats feel frustrated with the system, but they want to make it work. Republicans do not feel this way at all.
According to Chait, "Democratic-leaning voters want their leaders to compromise, while Republican-leaning voters do not." In case that flattering tribal contrast wasn't stark enough, he proceeds to make his claim absolute:

"Republicans do not feel this way at all."

Republicans don't feel this way at all? To anyone but a hard-core believer, the claim sounds absurd on its face. It turns into a species of lunacy when you click Chait's link to review his supporting data.

Holy tribal belief! Chait links to this survey by Pew from October 2015. The relevant passage says this:
PEW (10/12/15): Partisan compromise is viewed less positively by Republican primary voters than by Democratic ones. Just 41% of possible GOP primary voters say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who will compromise with Democrats.
Beneath that passage is a chart which tabulates the responses from Democratic-leaning voters. In the corresponding figure, 62% of Democrat-leaners say they'd be more likely to vote for a candidate who will compromise with Republicans.

It's true! In Pew's survey, Democratic voters were more likely to favor compromise. But as anyone can see, respondents from the two parties were much more alike than different.

This wasn't a case where 100% of one group said yes to some proposition while 100% of the other group said no. This wasn't anywhere close to that. But this is the only survey to which Chait links—and in this survey, responses from the two groups were much more alike than different.

(More alike than different? The large majority of Democratic voters could be matched with a Republican voter who answered the relevant question in the same way.)

Chait makes a very basic type of interpretive error here. He sees a pair of statistics in which one group favors A (on balance) while the other group favors B (on balance).

He then takes this (somewhat minor) difference in degree and describes it as a difference in kind. Quite explicitly, he turns it into an absolute difference.

"Republicans do not feel this way at all," he says, making a claim which is flatly false. As he does, he ignores an additional fact—a lot of Democrats didn't respond to the relevant question in the way he favors.

Chait took a relatively minor difference in degree and turned it into an absolute difference in kind. In recent years, we've seen an endless array of liberals making this type of error.

In fairness, it's a very old type of error. People have always thought this way as they happily marched toward the war their tribal loathing helped start.

PROVOST/PROFESSORS/TEENAGERS/DOGMA: Pitts decides to hang the judge!


Part 3—A basic fact disappears:
What actually happened on the Stanford campus on the evening of January 18, 2015?

We can't exactly tell you. This March, a jury ruled that Brock Turner, then a 19-year-old Stanford freshman who says he wasn't black-out drunk, committed three felonies that night.

That suggests that the jury may not have believed Turner's account of the evening's events. That said, his account of the evening's events does in fact exist.

His account may be true, or it may be false. The world's leading authority on the case describes his story thusly:
After his arrest, Turner told police that he and the victim "drank beer together," "danced and kissed" at the party and both mutually agreed to go back to his room. Turner stated that the victim slipped on a slope behind a wooden shed, and Turner got down to the ground and they started kissing each other. Turner said he then asked her if she wanted him to "finger" her, to which she said yes. He stated that he "fingered" her for a minute as they were kissing, then they started "dry humping." Turner then said he got nauseous and told her he needed to vomit.
How much of that account is true? We have no way of knowing. In part, that's because the woman, described by police as Emily Doe, gave no account of these events. She was black-out drunk that night, in accord with the dangerous, illegal campus culture permitted by the upstanding, august men who serve as president and provost of the famous university with the frightening "scary path."

(The victim's sister, who was initially present, couldn't give an account of these events. She was helping another drunken student get back to his or her room.)

What actually happened that night? Like you, we can't quite say. Turner had every reason to lie to police. Doe was too drunk to say.

That said, this scenario has become amazingly familiar in the past few years, as the liberal world and the mainstream press have discussed, or pretended to discuss, the problem of sexual assault on American college campuses.

In an amazing array of high-profile cases, the victims and alleged victims of campus assaults have been blackout drunk at the time of the assault, and have therefore been unable to speak to what occurred. As part of our childish, crackpot "liberal" culture, liberals and mainstream journalists persistently agree to behave as if this is an unremarkable state of affairs.

(Like Turner, many of these victims and alleged victims have been underage. As such, their drinking wasn't just excessive and dangerous, it was also illegal and enabled.)

Within our enlightened liberal culture, we pursue the 19-year-old freshman whose blood alcohol was 0.17 at the time of his crime. We look away from the highly august provosts and presidents who have relentlessly accepted and enabled the dangerous, illegal campus culture which is deeply entangled with this series of appalling cases, in which many young people get hurt.

In the current case, we also take the rope in our hands and pursue the local judge who was forced to deal with the predictable results of this illegal cultural mess. Power relations have always been thus. For starters, this brings us to Leonard Pitts' column.

For starters, let's say this. By all normal measures, Leonard Pitts, age 58, is a sensible, decent person.

He's even a former Pacific-10 great! The world's leading authority offers this capsule description:
Leonard Garvey Pitts, Jr. (born October 11, 1957) is an American commentator, journalist and novelist. He is a nationally syndicated columnist and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. He was originally hired by the Miami Herald to critique music, but within a few years he received his own column in which he dealt extensively with race, politics, and culture.

Raised in Los Angeles and educated at the University of Southern California, Pitts currently lives in Bowie, Maryland. He has won awards for his writing from the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and the National Association of Black Journalists, and he was first nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, eventually claiming the honor in 2004.
By an array of normal measures, Pitts is a serious, decent, intelligent person. For that reason, it's worth reviewing the way he chased after the local judge, while deferring to the august behavior of the president and the provost.

The local judge who handled this case is named Aaron Persky. It falls to people like him to adjudicate the messes which emerge from the illegal lunatic culture created by higher-ranking, more august men and women who run our finest schools.

Following the pack, Pitts went after Persky. Just for the record, he used the current ages of Turner and Doe, rather than their ages on the night in question.

(Our journalists have occasionally massaged age in this way ever since the thrilling case of "the 21-year-old intern" who was neither 21 nor an intern at the time in question.)

Whatever! Pitts had the local judge in his sights. His account of Persky's decision started like this:
PITTS (6/12/16): Turner was facing up to 14 years in prison. Judge Aaron Persky gave him the aforementioned six. Months.

A harsher sentence “would have a severe impact on him,” explained the judge.

Persky’s compassion for the rapist—and lack thereof for the victim—has detonated social media like a bomb. People are furious. They are weeping. They are calling Turner a “monster.” At this writing, a petition at demanding Persky’s recall stands north of 900,000 signatures.
The local judge had compassion for the "rapist," Pitts said, but none for the victim. (Under California law, Turner wasn't convicted of rape.)

Already, we thought that assessment was pretty tough. Later, though, Pitts wrote what you see below. He was speaking about the six-month sentence Turner was given, which he thought was too lenient:
PITTS: It’s not a big number. You were counting past it in kindergarten.

For an American woman, it’s a measure of the danger she faces from predatory men who consider her body to be their right. It is the difference between self-confidence and fear.

For Turner’s victim, it is a measure of the value the justice system placed on her trauma—and on her. It is the difference between the free woman she was and the frightened one she has become.

For Turner, it is the fraction of his life he’s been ordered to pay for the arrogant violation of another person’s self. It is the difference between spring and fall.


If you are a woman, or a man who cares about women, you ought to seethe, and then you ought to do whatever you can to fix a culture that makes possible a Brock Turner—and an Aaron Persky.
Just this once, we'll be honest. In a culture in which crazy people increasingly turn to the use of their guns, we thought that final reference to Persky stepped way over the line.

That reference struck us as possibly dangerous. Not as dangerous as the culture enabled by the provost and president, but perhaps a tiny bit dangerous nonetheless.

Different people had different reactions to that six-month sentence. Pitts seemed to think the sentence was heinous, although, in fairness, he showed little of sign of knowing much about such sentencing matters.

In this increasingly dangerous culture, we thought Pitts was possibly over his skis when he offered the fiery thoughts which, admittedly, helped his readers admire his own manifest moral greatness. More strikingly, though, we couldn't help noticing a more basic point.

We couldn't help noting the basic fact which Pitts omitted from his column. Increasingly, the omission of basic facts is a basic part of the "journalism" to which our failing nation has been condemned.

In his country's finest tradition, Pitts was ready to hang the local judge thisday. In service to that ancient desire, he disappeared someone else!

We don't refer to the provost and the president, though they got disappeared too. Tomorrow, we'll discuss the official who got disappeared in what has become a standard part of our "journalism."

The pundit was chasing the local judge. Did you see who he disappeared?

Tomorrow: Disappeared and irrelevant facts. But then, what else is new?

PROVOST/PROFESSORS/TEENAGERS/DOGMA: The Brothers Grimm arrive at The Farm!

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016

Part 2—The College of Hansel and Gretel:
In the set of events which landed in court, what happened on the Stanford campus—it's long been known as"The Farm"—on the evening of January 18, 2015?

For various reasons, we can't exactly tell you. This March, a jury found that Brock Turner, then 19 and a Stanford freshman, had committed three felonies that night: assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

Just so you'll know, the foreign object in question was Turner's finger or fingers.

The jury reached its verdict in March; Turner was sentenced this month. The perceived leniency of his sentence has produced a storm of protest.

It has also produced a wave of journalism in which our journalists put their modern culture of display.

This modern journalistic culture is built around ostentatious, selective moral outrage. The outrage is served by the three types of facts in which the modern journalist traffics—the invented fact; the disappeared fact; and the irrelevant fact which gets heavily stressed to create the tone the scribe prefers.

Tomorrow, we'll start to look at the way these types of "facts" have surfaced in our journalism in the weeks since Turner, now 20, was sentenced to six months in county jail.

For today, it might be wise to start with a peculiar tale which has emerged in the wake of the sentencing. To our ear, it's an acid-flavored Grimm Brothers tale which captures the immaturity, dumbness and dishonesty of our modern, deeply childish, pseudo-liberal culture.

For us, this modern Grimm Brothers dreamscape starts with the massive, apparently illegal drinking which is deeply entwined with this unfortunate event, which has been judged to be criminal.

At the time of these events, the legal drinking age in California was 21.

As of last fall, signatures were apparently being gathered for a ballot proposal which would lower the state's drinking age to 18. But on the evening when this assault occurred, the drinking age was 21. In our view, this basic fact plays a rather obvious role in this deeply unfortunate story.

That was the legal drinking age. How about the actual drinking in our Grimm Brothers tale?

As noted, the person convicted of those crimes was 19 years old that night. That would seem to have made his drinking illegal—but at any rate, it has been widely reported that his blood alcohol content was 0.17 at the time of the assault. That's more than two times the reading which would have made it legal to drive a car.

That said, Turner seem to have been the piker this night. The victim of the assault was 22 years old at the time; this made her a legal drinker. That said, her blood alcohol content has been reported at 0.25, three times the legal driving limit.

At what point can a visitor to a party at Stanford actually die from excessive drinking? Apparently, you have to get a fair amount higher than that.

That said, the victim, who was 22, can't remember what happened that night; she was unconscious for at least three hours that night because of her excessive drinking at that undergraduate party, and she can't remember events which occurred before that.

That said, she had gone to the fraternity party in question with her younger sister, who was apparently 20 years old at the time. How did the victim get separated from her sister this evening? Of course!

The younger sister had left the party to help a drunken friend get to her room. The age and blood alcohol content of the drunken friend has never been revealed. Who knows? She might have been even drunker than the older sister was!

At this point, we've barely reached the dreamscape phase of this tale, which came to a deeply unfortunate end. That said, we can't help noting the fact that this drunken, apparently illegal culture has been presided over, for years, by this famous university's highly august president and provost.

These figures are highly august, and they aren't teenagers. For that reason, our journalists will give them a pass for the appalling behavior which puts so many people, included teen-aged undergraduates, at so many types of risk.

The provost and president are highly august. Our journalists defer to men of such rank. That said, how crazy is the campus culture over which these august figures preside? Just consider the Grimm-flavored tale of "the scary path."

The encounter which got Brock Turner convicted of three felonies took place not fifteen feet from the scary path. Last fall, Arielle Rodriquez reported the ongoing fight to deal with this frightening trail, which wends its way through the woods, frightening all the children.

Rodriguez reported for the Stanford Daily. In truth, his report, which was perfectly competent, sounded a bit like a dreamscape report from the College of Hansel and Gretel:
RODRIGUEZ (10/14/15): Sexual assault is a hot topic among college campuses, and Stanford is no exception. One aspect of the sexual assault discussion here on campus is what students have nicknamed the “scary path.”

The 528-foot-long “scary path” is a dark dirt path that extends from the paved road between the Kappa Alpha Fraternity and the Enchanted Broccoli Forest
to the back of 680 Lomita. The shortcut has become notorious among students as a place where the threat of sexual assault looms more strongly than ever.

Efforts are currently being made to light and pave the path to make it safer for passersby. At the head of the project is Alexis Kallen ’18. A former executive fellow for the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU), Kallen said the “scary path” was first brought to her attention when the organization received “hundreds of emails about the path” from students who have felt unsafe using it. Kallen turned the issue of the “scary path” into her final project for her Sophomore College class, titled “One in Five: the Law, Policy, and Politics of Campus Sexual Assault.”

Although no reports of specific incidents of sexual assault on the path itself are currently available, former Stanford athlete Brock Turner was found sexually assaulting an unconscious woman last January in the surrounding woods, roughly 15 feet from the path, according to Kallen.
According to this report, "the scary path" originates near the fraternity where Turner and his victim and the drunken friend who needed help to get to her room all got drunk that night.

Apparently, this is near the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a name we didn't invent.

The children are scared of the scary path, even though no one has to use the path and it has been the scene of no assaults. Before the news report is done, Professor Dauber is quoted telling us this:

“[The path] is not only scary for women, but dangerous for all that can trip and fall in the dark."

Someone could trip and fall on the scary path! Indeed, that's what happened to Scout, when she and Jem took the local scary path that Halloween evening in Maycomb!

Can you see the dreamscape starting to form? If you read the rest of that news report, you'll read about the endangered salamander which, in accord with the law of the dream, was always going to be part of this strange and childish story.

By inference, you'll also read about the slacker conduct of the august people who run this famous university. Could these highly respected figures organize the apocryphal two-care parade?

Apparently, they've been struggling as they try to find a way to light a 500-foot path through the woods. Why would anyone think that such slackers could address the larger cultural issues involved in this latest report?

Everybody got drunk on the night in question. The victim was extremely drunk. Given the ages of the people involved, much of the drinking would seem to have been illegal.

Even as they wring their hands about the dangers of assault, the provost and the president permit this crackpot culture to exist. But they are highly august figures, so the nation's journalists will naturally give them a pass, won't even notice the oddness of this ongoing culture.

Instead, they'll set upon the drunken freshman—and upon the local judge. When they do, they'll engage in their favorite games:

They'll disappear a significant fact. They'll stress a highly irrelevant fact which sets the mood for the story they want to tell.

When a Harvard kid dreams up a bogus fact, they print it in the Sunday Washington Post. In fairness to the editors, the young person they ill-served in this way comes from a highly-placed Washington home.

This is the culture with which we all live. Our modern liberal world is too dumb and too full of self-regard to see that this culture exists, or to see all the harm it has done.

We liberals love our outrage culture. We'll go to great lengths to obtain it.

Tomorrow: Journalists hang a judge

PROVOST/PROFESSORS/TEENAGERS/DOGMA: Dragged behind a dumpster at Stanford!

MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2016

Part 1—The culture of misstatement:
Molly Roberts graduated from Harvard last month.

Today, Roberts is "an intern for the [Washington] Post's editorial page." We're not sure what that positon entails, but in yesterday's Washington Post, Roberts wrote an essay about "the debate over whether the standard for determining what constitutes sexual assault and rape should shift from 'no means no' to 'yes means yes.' "

Not that there's anything wrong with it! By normal standards, the Sunday, hard-copy Washington Post would seem to be a high platform for the work of someone so young. In this case, though, Roberts was writing from the younger person's perspective about a topic which is being widely debated on the nation's many malfunctioning campuses.

Needless to say, that includes Stanford. Roberts started like this:
ROBERTS (6/19/16): Brock Turner has done one good thing for the country: The former Stanford University swimmer’s case has brought the conversation about sexual assault and campus culture back onto the national stage, and with it the debate over whether the standard for determining what constitutes sexual assault and rape should shift from “no means no” to “yes means yes.”
Roberts (and her editor) seemed to assume that readers would know who Brock Turner is and what his case entails. For now, we'll make the same assumption.

Eventually, Roberts would argue against a switch to a "yes means yes" standard. She did so early in her piece, in the following passage:
ROBERTS: In a country where a varsity athlete at an elite school drags a woman so drunk she cannot move behind a dumpster and then blames the attack on a culture of alcohol abuse and “promiscuity,” it’s hard to argue against the need for change.

Changing the definition of rape, though? That’s trickier. Because while affirmative consent might be a nice idea, it’s just not how kids have sex.
Each reader can assess Roberts' view on the appropriate definition of rape. We were struck by the highlighted statement, her attempt at describing the events of the Turner case.

Turner was a freshman swimmer at Stanford at the time of the events in question. In March of this year, he was convicted of two charges of sexual assault and one charge of assault with intent to rape.

Two weeks ago, Turner was sentenced to six months in a county jail. This has produced a massive reaction from people who feel that the sentence is too lenient.

Each reader can assess that claim. We were struck by Roberts' description of Turner's conduct on the night in question.

According to Roberts, Turner "drag[ged] a woman so drunk she [could] not move behind a dumpster," where the assault occurred. This account is colorful and moving but, as far as we know, no one has ever said that this is what occurred.

Roberts' description appeared in the fourth paragraph of an essay in the Sunday Washington Post. In theory, her copy passed through the hands of an experienced editor at one of the nation's most elite newspapers.

In itself, Robert's description of what occurred on the Stanford campus that night is a mere blip on the screen. Little or nothing will turn on her claim, which is thrilling but rather vague, and doesn't seem to be journalistically accurate.

That said, her claim is part of a fascinating journalistic culture in which facts are embellished, invented and disappeared in service to high moral certainties. The Turner case has provided the latest examples of this familiar culture, which has suffused the journalism of the past twenty-five years.

A recent college graduate apparently embellished the known facts. When she did, an older editor let it go--or who knows? Maybe the editor amended a more careful statement by Roberts!

What actually happened at Stanford that night? Journalists have been omitting and semi-inventing facts in service to the moral greatness of the story they want to tell. We'll explore this familiar culture all week, looking at the work of major journalists and high-ranking professors.

Tomorrow, though, we'll start with the Stanford provost. We'll start by asking a basic question:

If we're so upset about this, why isn't he in jail?

Tomorrow: The provost and campus culture

MUHAMMAD ALI AND WHO GETS TO BE US: The elevated and the depressing!

FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2016

Conclusion—"I want to see the loser:"
We loved last Friday's memorial service for Muhammad Ali.

We saw some of the most elevated speeches we've seen in a very long time—speeches about the desire to let everyone be us.

We also saw some humorous speeches which advanced similar ideals. One was delivered by Billy Crystal, a comedian who breaks the rules of his guild 1) by routinely being funny and 2) by being appropriate.

Crystal was funny this day, as he typically is. He also described the ideals which were brilliantly articulated by Attalah Shabazz, by Natasha Mundkur and by Lonnie Ali.

Complete with impressions of Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali, Crystal told a story about the way he first met Ali, way back in 1974, when only one of the men was famous. Crystal went on to explain where their friendship led:
CRYSTAL (6/10/16): He came to anything I asked him to do. Most memorable: He was an honorary chairman for a dinner at a very important event where I was being honored by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He did all of this promotion for it. He came to the dinner. He sat with my family the entire evening. He took photographs with everybody; the most famous Muslim man in the world honoring his Jewish friend.

Because he was there, we raised a great deal of money, and I was able to use it to endow the university in Jerusalem with something that I told him about. It was something he loved the theory of, and it thrives to this day. It’s called Peace Through the Performing Arts. It’s a theater group where Israeli, Arab and Palestinian actors, writers and directors all work together in peace, creating original works of art. And that doesn’t happen without him.
We hope that Jerusalem theater group works with young people like the 19-year-old Mundkur, who made such a dramatic speech last Friday. We're grateful that we got to see her inspiring, five-minute presentation. She joined Shabazz and Lonnie Ali in making the most uplifting public statements we've seen in a very long time.

Shabazz, Mundkur and Ali spoke about the desire to see everyone get to be us. The thrill we derived from their speeches has been balanced this week by ESPN's depressing, five-part "Made in America" film, which drenches us in the depressing culture of narrative, tribe and division.

(Yes, we just finished watching the deeply depressing Part 5 of the ESPN production. For some reason, the five installments became available through our free On Demand service before they aired on ESPN.)

ESPN examined aspects of our current American culture, which is deeply invested in tribe and tribal script. In our view, our own liberal tribe is deeply invested in tribal identity and script.

This exclusionary culture doesn't just obtain Over There, among Those People, The Others! Increasingly, we liberals are drenched in that culture too.

Last Friday, some brilliant speakers spoke about the desire to break down tribal separations. That said, one of the simplest lessons from the service came from a second speech which was largely humorous in tone.

This speech was delivered by John Ramsey, a Louisville sports radio host and a friend of Muhammad Ali's.

Billy Crystal is nationally famous; John Ramsey isn't. But he gave a superbly humorous speech, just as Crystal did.

For ourselves, we like our moral lessons extremely simple. Ramsey delivered one such lesson as he told a story about a surprising request.

"You know, Muhammad was blessed with many gifts," Ramsey said, "and he was a wise and faithful steward of those gifts." Having offered that as his framework, he launched a story about a trip to the Sydney Olympics:
RAMSEY (6/10/16): I remember, back in 2000, I made a trip to the Summer Olympics with Muhammad, and one day he decided we were going to go see a boxing match.

And I remember, we're ringside, the American wins, 15,000 people are chanting, "USA! USA!" And I thought, "This is my Olympic moment."

You know, I was filled with patriotic pride?
After the American won, Ramsey was filled with patriotic pride. According to Ramsey, Ali posed with the winning fighter, then made a surprising request:
RAMSEY (continuing directly): The boxer came down from the ring, he took the obligatory picture with Muhammad, the fist-to-chin shot.

Hundreds of photographers from around the world were taking pictures. You know, thousands of people, cheering for Muhammad and this victorious fighter.

And then Muhammad leaned down to me, whispered in my ear, said:

"I want to see the loser."

I said, "Excuse me?"

"I want to see the loser."
Ali had taken the standard photographs with the victorious fighter. Those photographs can still be seen on line.

But Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest," also wanted to see the loser! In the last part of the story which we'll post, Ramsey begins to explain what happened next:
RAMSEY (continuing directly): So I motioned over to an Olympic official and I said, "You know, Muhammad wants to see the loser. Can we go to the losing locker room?"

And we get to the losing locker room and there's not tens of thousands of people, there's not any photographers, there's just a kid in the corner on a stool, he's got a towel around his neck, he's got a bloody mouse under his eye. This has got to be the lowest point of his athletic career...

And the vibe in that room was literally the lowest of low.
As he continued, Ramsey described what happened that day in the loser's locker room. He ended with a humorous story about something Ali said later on in the car.

Here at THE HOWLER, we like the kind of people who want to see the loser. We're going to guess that Natasha Mundkur knows what it is to feel for the loser. From that point, it's a fairly short step to letting more people be us.

If you want to see John Ramsey's speech, just click here; he starts at 2:16:00. He followed the transcendent Mundkur and did a superlative job.

(He too does a top-notch Ali impression.)

For the record, the victorious American fighter with whom Ali posed seems to have been Clarence Vinson. He went on to win the bronze medal in the bantamweight division at the Sydney Olympics.

The fight took place on September 16, 2000. For the AP report, click here.

"The loser" that day was Rachid Bouaita, a French fighter who was eliminated by Vinson in this, the competition's first round.

Last Friday, Ramsey explained what happened when Ali went to see Bouaita in a deserted room. We can't verify his story, but it involves an extremely simple moral lesson.

In our view, such simple lessons are the best. Next week, we'll continue to ask a simple question:

What might our own liberal tribe learn from stories like this?

Tomorrow: Where does "identity" come from?