SEX IN THE CINEMA: Who was the late Rose Marie?


Part 3—Hapless child brides, threatened sex assaults:
We'd always semi-wondered about the late Rose Marie.

From 1961 to 1966, she starred on The Dick Van Dyke Show, playing Sally Rogers, a TV comedy writer. But who the heck was Rose Marie? And why did she seem to be a "first name only" performer?

When she died this week, at age 94, we finally got our answer. Her long. amazing show business career started when she was three years old. By the time she was 5, she had her own national radio show, a weekly program for NBC.

Back then, she performed as "Baby Rose Marie." Thirty-three years later, she was cast for the Van Dyke Show—and according to today's Washington Post, she had one complaint:
ELBER (12/30/17): “The Dick Van Dyke Show” not only was an ideal vehicle for Ms. Marie’s comic gifts, but it was a showcase for her singing...

Ms. Marie was especially proud of playing a woman defined by her work, a rare sitcom character at the time who wasn’t “a wife, mother, or housekeeper,” she tweeted in 2017.

The actress did have conflicts with [series creator Carl] Reiner, resenting that Moore was given more prominence than she on the show.
For a longer obituary, see this fascinating report in the New York Times.

At any rate, is that clain in the Post really true? Did Rose Marie seek equal prominence with Mary Tyler Moore, who played Van Dyke's wife on the popular TV show?

We can't answer that question. But Moore was spectacularly telegenic and a perfectly decent comic performer. She was also very young, in keeping with Hollywood paradigms and traditions.

Just how old was Laura Petrie, the character played by Moore? In real life, Van Dyke was 35 years old when his eponymous program debuted in 1961. In real life, Moore was 24. (Rose Marie was 38.)

That said, the Laura character was written as a bit of a helpless child wife, a bit of an industry stereotype. We were struck by this backstory from the leading authority on the popular program:
Laura Petrie (née Meeker/Meehan; played by Mary Tyler Moore)—Rob's wife. As a 17-year-old dancer in the United Service Organizations, she met and married Rob. Then, she became a stay-at-home mom. In early Season One episodes, Rob calls her "Laurie" numerous times, as opposed to "Laura", which became his usual name for her.
If that backstory is correct, the fictional Laura Petrie was scripted as having been just 17 when she married her older husband. But so the malecentric imagining went, all through the Hollywood of that time.

(Not too much later, several mothers in Alabama were thrilled when their teenage daughters were asked out by Roy Moore. The liberal world recently staged a moral panic about this less-than-remarkable state of affairs, in which those mothers were enacting a cultural ideal which Hollywood pushed for many years.)

Laura Petrie, a 17-year-old dancer turned 18-year-old homemaker, was written as a bit of a hapless child bride. Frequently, Rob would come home from the office to straighten her worries out.

In fairness, TV's previous decade had been dominated by the helpless Lucy Ricardo, who couldn't brush her teeth without creating a mess requiring Ricky's intervention. This is the way malecentric Hollywood thought and believed at this time.

Lucy Ricardo was a thoroughly helpless child. In real life and on that program, Rose Marie was an outlier, a striking exception to this unfortunate cultural norm.

By the end of the 1960s, Hollywood was moving away from the era in which 17-year-olds swooned for aging male stars, dragging them into the bedroom. The industry was moving into the era in which sexual assault, and threatened assault, were routinely used to drive tired plot lines along.

These horrible values were long the Hollywood norm. Within the past year, people have finally started discussing the appalling behavior which was occurring behind the scenes within this malecentric realm.

Rose Marie didn't abandon her career as a performer when she turned 17. But if she wanted equal billing with the spectacularly telegenic and rather childlike Laura Petrie, she was dreaming the impossible dream.

At what point did the culture of the helpless child bride make way for the culture of the thrilling sex assault? A few nights back, we watched the gruesome 1968 film, Firecreek, in which Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart pushed this gruesome new culture along, without dropping the silly left-over trope in which much younger women would instantly fall in love with much older men.

From its opening scene, Firecreek is driven along by the thrilling threat of assault. By the mid-1970s, this thrilling threat was driving the tired old scripts of Quinn Martin detective shows and their like—popular TV programs like Cannon, Mannix, Barnaby Jones and The Streets of San Francisco.

When their stories began to get dull, Hollywood writers of this era would menace attractive young women. This was the meat on which this version of Tinseltown fed, but we got there through the "geezer chic" of the 1950s.

As sisterhood would later become, geezer chic was powerful! In 1953, Grace Kelly—age 24 in real life—was forced to fall in love with Clark Gable (age 52 and looking no younger) in the stinker Mogambo. That said, these were some of the romantic pairings in Gable's last four films:
Teacher's Pet 1958: Gable 57, Mamie Van Doren 27
But Not For Me 1959: Gable 58, Carroll Baker 28
It Started in Naples 1960: Gable 59, Sophia Loren 26
The Misfits 1961: Gable 60, Marilyn Monroe 35 (playing 30)
Even Loren! That said, the hapless men of Hollywood scripted a decade of fantasy films in this ridiculous manner.

Too funny! The leading authority on It Started in Naples offers this as part of its plot summary:

"Despite the age difference, romance soon blossoms between Michael and Lucia, and he decides to stay in Italy."

Despite the age difference? That was part of the basic script which fueled an entire era! Meanwhile, the leading authority on The Misfits offers this pitiful coda:
Gable suffered a heart attack two days after filming ended and died ten days later...Monroe later said that she hated the film and her performance in it. Within a year and a half, she was dead of an apparent drug overdose. The Misfits was the last completed film for both Monroe and Gable, her childhood screen idol. As a child, Monroe had often claimed that Gable was her father.
In The Misfits, Marilyn fell for dear old (imagined) Dad. Days later, he dropped dead.

Hepburn, Kelly, Loren, Novak? In a practice Tinseltown was slow to abandon, they were reserved for the industry's aging alpha male stars. When this nonsense could be sold no longer, Hollywood turned to the era of the "naughty boy sex romp," and to the era of the thrilling threatened assault.

There's a great deal more to this pitiful story, which played out over many years with very few peeps of protest (or insight) from our enlightened tribe. But around the country, many mothers bought into the ideal of the teenager falling for, and marrying, the older established man.

In the past few months, our endlessly clueless liberal tribe staged a moral panic over this less-than-startling fact. We treated the dates just like the alleged assaults! Ain't life in the liberal tribe grand?

Still coming: Question of the year!

As opposed to Lucy Ricardo: Let's thank God for Alice Kramden, who would put her hands on her hips and give back at least as good as she got.

Also, all praise to Jackie Gleason! "Baby, you're the greatest!" So the duly chastened Ralph would tell Alice in the end.

In the end, Ralph could see who Alice was. In this way, the Gleason scripts stood out from the pack.

BREAKING: Excitement, anticipation grow!


"Question of the year" unveiling delayed until tomorrow:
In this morning's New York Times, this letter proposes a "word of the year" for 2017.

For us, that word would be "anthropology." Explanation below!

Meanwhile, excitement grows concerning our unveiling of the "question of the year" for the annum just past. That unveiling has been pushed back until tomorrow.

For now, what "words of the year" would we recommend dropping from the journalistic lexicon? Several come to mind:

For starters, journalists should stop describing comedians as "artists" who are producing "art." Just a guess:

If people hadn't told Louis C. K. that he was an artist producing art, he might have kept his head about him, destructive behavior-wise.

(As an example of the misuse of these terms, we cite this excessively thoughtful thought piece from Tuesday's page A2.)

Also, could we drop the word "story?" In theory, journalists produce "news reports," "analysis pieces" and even "opinion columns." When they keep describing their work as "stories," can mischief be far behind?

Below, we'll recommend another word we might disappear. But first:

In our view, the journalistic event of the year may have been the "reimagining" of the New York Times' page A3, found in hard copy only.

Our view? The low-IQ childishness of this reimagined page may reflect a Peter Pan dream at the soul of upper-end press corps culture!

Do our upper-end journalists long to stay children forever—children producing silly stories and zeroing in on trivia?

We can't answer your thoughtful question. But on this morning's page A3, these were—we kid you not!—the first three "Noteworthy Facts:"
Of Interest

"Vapor Wake" dogs are Labrador retrievers that can pick up whiffs of explosive particles in the warm air that trails behind people as they walk.

The Sherwin Williams paint color Spalding Gray, a shade of gray with subtle undertones of chocolate, is named after a dog (of the Weimaraners breed) that is named after the actor.

Roller derby, which started in the United States in the 1930s, has surged in popularity in the past 15 years or so. In the Middle East, teams have sprung up in Cairo, Beirut, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
To the extent that those passages even make sense, do they involve "Noteworthy Facts?" We're not sure they do! But so it goes on this preternaturally childish page, on a daily basis.

(In today's "Here to Help" section, we're told what "experts" say about the way to discard a Christmas tree. "Expert" is the other word we'd recommend discarding.)

Back to today's announcement. Why have we chosen "anthropology" as the word of the year?

Simple! We're suggesting that we change the framework, or paradigm, through which we view the behavior of our badly floundering species.

We're suggesting that we move away from the "rational animal" paradigm, a framework which has obscured our vision for millennia now. In its place, we should move toward a framework in which we cease to expect rational conduct from any of our various tribes, understanding that we're basically a life form whose conduct is biologically determined, perhaps a bit like zebras or manatees, even butterflies.

Let's drop the artists-and-experts bunk and see ourselves as we actually are! Tomorrow, though, we unveil it:

With a nod to Krugman's latest column, the question of the year!

Other key points from the Times: According to today's A3, "Jennifer Finley Boyle's elegy for a dog, a beloved dog whose death marked the closing of a chapter in Ms. Boylan's life, was a sensation on social media" yesterday.

Not that there's anything wrong with it! People, we're just saying!

Also this:

What did Meghan Markle's top suggest? Yesterday, in Thursday Styles, Vanessa Friedman examined Markle's "sly statement."

Friedman, of course, is viewed as an expert. We're suggesting that it may instead be manatees all the way down!

It's brand new paradigm. Go ahead! Give it a try!

BREAKING: End of the year is said to approach!


"Question of the year" to follow:
Late last night, we returned to our sprawling campus after five days of Big Boggle (five or more letters only), Memory and even Chutes and Ladders and Go Fish, accompanied by an almost total news blackout.

Great nieces were involved.

When we popped "cable news" on, the same completely pointless discussions were transpiring. These discussions constitute tribal entertainment product (TM), a spin-off of corporate wishful thinking palaver (TM).

Our analysts informed us that the end of the year is approaching, not to say the end of days. With that heads-up safely in hand, we expect to post this year's "Question of the year" tomorrow.

But first:

We direct you to this recent post by Kevin Drum, our long-time favorite blogger. But first, a quick review:

Drum was placed on probation within the past year. This was our response to his radicalization by the November 2016 election.

The post to which we've linked you is illustrative of the basic problem with the world. Drum examines the puzzling claim that Alabama's recent Senate election involved a "huge," or even an "historic," turnout by black voters.

Drum notes the oddness of this claim, understating as he goes. His headline goes something like this:
Why Does the “Extraordinary Black Turnout” Meme in Alabama Stay Alive?
Please note:

According to Drum's calculations, the black turnout rate in December's election was 38.7 percent. This strikes us as a rather low turnout rate, given the two candidates:
Democratic candidate: Latter-day hero of the Southern civil rights movement

Republican candidate: Craziest person in human history
Given that choice, and given the basic data, we find it hard to understand why that black turnout would be praised by liberals or progressives, let alone described as "huge," "extraordinary" (in the good sense) or "historic."

(Drum notes, as we have done, that the black turnout rate was much higher in 2008. But then, as we have noted, so was the total black turnout in 2008 and 2012, and even in 2016.)

Why does our long-time favorite blogger remain on probation? Here's one tough-talking, straight-shooting reason:

Drum affects puzzlement about the "extraordinary turnout" script, which he insists on describing as a "meme." Why does this script stay alive? So he rather weirdly wonders.

We say his puzzlement is weird for an obvious reason:

We explained this highly familiar phenomenon a very long time ago. In the years which have passed since that time, we've observed this standard phenomenon about a million additional times. We've persistently offered the obvious correct explanation:
Obvious correct explanation:
Your press corps, and other tribal groups and guilds, tell you the stories they like. Our discourse is narrative all the way down. Information and actual facts play little role in the process.
Candidate Gore has a problem with the truth? That was narrative all the way down, maintained by one and all for years. (Career liberals still aren't allowed to discuss this history-changing behavior.)

Black turnout in Alabama was extraordinary, huge, historic? That too is narrative all the way down, a partisan entertainment product from and for our extremely childish tribe.

To us, that turnout rate in Alabama defines a political problem—though also, an opportunity. Acting on the opportunity would, of course, require political action.

With that in mind, we give you the future:

Our tribal culture is built around talk, not action. For that reason, this latest "meme" will be childishly pimped to the end of time. No attendant political action will ever occur.

Soon, another silly script will appear. All the corporate players on "cable news" will mouth it.

(Some players may know the meme is silly. Most likely, most players will not.)

Because these people have high Q ratings, it will be hard for the rank and file to understand what's occurring. People on probation will agree to be puzzled when this next silly meme sweeps the land.

This is cultural anthropology—anthropology all the way down! These behavior patterns sent Trump to the White House. Question for discussion:

How do you think these behavior patterns have been working out?

Tomorrow: With a nod to Krugman's latest column, the question of the year!

BREAKING: The big board which ate Chicago!


Kornacki predicts next year:
Let's take one last look at the data, gruesome though they may be.

These numbers are for the nation as a whole. These numbers are not for Chicago:
Average scores, American public schools
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

White students: 291.06
Black students: 259.85
Hispanic students: 269.47
Asian-American students: 305.37
Those are punishing achievement gaps on this, our most reliable test. But as we've noted during the week, you never see the underlying realities discussed on corporate liberal cable.

Those are punishing achievement gaps. That said, it's obvious that nobody actually cares.

The interests of low-income kids are never discussed by our highest-paid liberal stars. Last night, we saw something else instead. We saw Chris Hayes offer this pair of teases:
HAYES (12/21/17): Still ahead, for the first time this cycle, I will speak the words, "if the election were held today." New polling shows Democrats in strong shape for the 2018 election. Steve Kornacki is here with the big board in tow.


HAYES: Coming up, the really early polling shows dramatic swings in favor of the Democratic Party. Steve Kornacki is here for a really early 2018 breakdown, right after this break.
Say what? The elections in question will take place in November of next year. As Hayes noted, he was bringing Kornacki out for a really early assessment.

Might we offer an obvious point? Through no particular fault of his own, Kornacki wasn't able to predict last year's outcome in the last few days before the election. Why would you ask him to predict next year's elections, almost eleven months out?

The answer is obvious—tribal entertainment and pleasure. The numbers look good for Democrats now. So Kornacki was propped before "the big board," where he did his barker routine.

Almost surely, that barker routine isn't Kornacki's idea. We'll bet every dollar your grandmother owns that he has been instructed to perform the hunch-shouldered, fast-talking routine (always with his sleeves rolled up!) by his corporate owners.

Steve Kornacki is thoroughly competent. He wouldn't behave that way on his own. Still, that's what he does.

Kornacki proceeded to supply us with entertainment product. Especially with Donald J. Trump in charge, no one has the slightest idea what will happen next November, or if next November will even exist.

Still, the current numbers are pleasing. For that reason, they're tribally good.

We liberals receive entertainment product every night of the week; it's presented as if it were news. By way of contrast, the interests of low-income kids never get discussed.

Why do you think that is? What does that possibly say about us? What does it say about our team's profit-based corporate owners?

One last question. Why aren't you told how much these people are paid?

Al Franken describes the "war on truth!"


A dangerous war which we're losing:
In his final Senate speech, Al Franken described a "war on truth."

We're forced to agree with Franken's gloomy assessment. We'd have to say that this war on truth is a war our country is losing.

That said, the war is being fought on a good many fronts. It's being fought on the Fox News Channel, but within our own organs too.

Personally, we thought Franken seemed to be fighting a war on truth in his less than obsessively intelligent attacks on Jeff Sessions in the past year. Don't even ask about Senator Leahy, who flipped on the need for Franken to leave once Roy Moore was defeated.

Does our own flawless liberal team conduct wars on truth? We'd have to say it does. There's a lot of money in wars on truth. We see these wars on corporate cable every night of the week—and not just Over There.

Rachel cuts so many corners it's surprising the word still exists. And how about our own team's wars on logic and sense? Yesterday, Bret Stephens started his New York Times column like this:
STEPHENS (12/21/17): Matt Damon gave an interview to ABC News last week in which he offered the following observation: “There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”

Crazy, right?

Minnie Driver, Damon’s co-star in “Good Will Hunting,” thought so.
“There is no hierarchy of abuse—that if a woman is raped [it] is much worse than if a woman has a penis exposed to her that she didn’t want or ask for,” she told The Guardian. “You cannot tell those women that one is supposed to feel worse than the other.”
Does Driver's assessment make sense? We'd be inclined to say no.

That said, Driver is an actress. There's no reason to expect her, or any other actor, to be a flawless analyst.

Indeed, there are no flawless analysts within any cadre at all. But might we expect better performance than this from our Big Major Liberal Stars?
STEPHENS (continuing directly): Kirsten Gillibrand agrees [with Driver]: “I think when we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, you are having the wrong conversation,” the Democratic senator from New York said at a news conference when asked about calling on Senator Al Franken to resign. “You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable.”

Of course none of it is O.K. The supposedly petty sexual harassment that so many women have to endure, from Hollywood studios to the factory floor at Ford, is a national outrage that needs to end. Period.

But what about the idea that we should not even discuss the difference between verbal harassment, physical groping and rape? Here’s a guess: A vast majority of Americans, men and women, would agree with Damon’s comment in its entirety.
For ourselves, we don't know what a vast majority of Americans think. But we think it's pretty sad when our major liberal leaders are offering analyses which don't exactly seem to make sense, except at times of moral panic following decades of silence.

Is a "war on truth" underway? We thought so in the 1990s! That's why we started this site.

We often think such thoughts when we watch Maddow stage her tribal diatribes, with lots of fun thrown in. At present, the work is astonishing Over There. But our own team wins no prizes, except perhaps for mugging, clowning, serving porridge to the rubes, and manifest self-adoration.

Is the "war on truth" being lost? We think it is when we read columns like today's column from Painter and Eisen.

They imagine the Republican Congress rising to smite Donald J. Trump if he moves to take out Mueller. On what planet have these egghead thought leaders been living? And by the way, how did George W. Bush's ethics czar ever become a star on liberal cable?

Back in the 1990s, we became a fan of Franken when he explained the Gingrich Medicare proposal in his book, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. He even described a major PBS journalist's cluelessness regarding the matter.

Journalists hadn't been able to explain the proposal. Franken, a comedian, did.

We thought Franken had lost a few steps as he went after Sessions in the past year. That said, our tribe laps up partisan overstatement, much as theirs does Over There.

Has the war on truth already been lost? We'd say there's a very good chance! Two different realities now exist in the nation. Our team seems to have no earthly idea of the ways we've helped create this dangerous state of affairs.
Our stars have mugged and clowned and called Others names as this state of affairs came into being. Our stars have also maintained a wide array of silences down through a great many years.

In our view, the war on truth has been underway for at least thirty years now. Our liberal leaders have gamboled and played—plus, they just aren't super sharp, except when it comes to the best ways to maintain their own careers.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our leaders tend to be slightly fake, and they just aren't excessively sharp. The other team's leaders are out of control, but a solid knot of people have learned, long ago, never to listen to us.

Truthfully, we can see why they don't. Our team spills with standard insults, and it just isn't real sharp.

SEX IN THE CINEMA: Cooper's bride!


Interlude—Cary's concern:
As the union continues to fall apart, we're almost sorry we started this award-winning reverie regarding this off-point topic.

We'd long been struck the peculiar sexual politics of 1950s Hollywood films. We decided to research the topic in response to the recent moral panic about Roy Moore's mother-approved dating from the 1970s, as opposed to his alleged sexual assaults.

We thought what we found was funny, but also sadly instructive. Let's start today with Gary Cooper's bride.

He took his bride as part of the iconic 1952 film, High Noon. The bride was played by Grace Kelly, in her first major role.

By conventional norms, the bride was visually stunning—was perfect in her appearance. Though she was 23 in real life, she didn't look a day over 22 in the film itself.

Cooper was 51 in real life. A peculiar norm was being established.

Such pairings weren't unique to films of the 1950s. In The Fountainhead (1949), "Coop" had been paired with Patricia Neal.

Coop was 48 in real life. Neal was 23.

Such pairings had existed before. But in the films of the 1950s, Hollywood's male moguls began indulging their fantasies, in a major way, right up there on the screen, not just on the couch.

"Codger chic" became the norm. In Kelly's next film, Mogambo (1953), she dumped her same-age husband for a rapidly aging Clark Gable.

In real life, Gable was a somewhat moldy 52. Kelly was 24. And so it would go through the era, until these visually, conceptually improbable pairings couldn't be sold any more.

Audrey Hepburn, Leslie Caron? Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak? They were rarely allowed to kiss anyone their own age during this ridiculous era. In best fairy tale fashion (more on that in Part 3), they spent this decade kissing the frog.

Some say these aging, established male stars were "robbing the cradle" during this peculiar era. Increasingly, conservative propagandists, always eager to blame the women, have started accusing these female stars of "invading the nursing home."

However one chooses to view these transactions, we think the overall story is funny, but also sadly instructive. We'll continue our award-winning report after Santa, who isn't getting any younger himself, has finally come and gone, squeezing his way up the chimney and making a mess of his suit.

We want to talk about those fairy tale formats. We want to talk about Hitchcock's musings. We'll plan to discuss some better gender/romance role models from Hollywood, of which a few were to come.

We'll start next time with Cary Grant's concern, as described by the leading authority on the matter. He was too old to be paired with Hepburn! So, to his credit, he apparently thought as of 1962.

In Hollywood, some male mogul knew what to do. A change in the script was ordered. Instead of Grant pursuing Hepburn, the much younger woman would now pursue the much older man!

By the rules of the game, that made perfect sense. This was the comical way of a blinkered, unfortunate era.

In fairness, Eisenhower was president then. On the other hand, full disclosure:

He wasn't married to Jackie!

Historical upshots: Not too many years later, at least two mothers in Alabama were thrilled by the fact that their teenage daughters were dating Roy Moore, who seemed like "good husband material."

Forty years after that, a moral stampede occurred. When we researched the Hollywood history, we thought the facts were wonderfully comical, but also instructive and sad.

One last set of Chicago numbers!


Perhaps a substantial surprise:
Chicago's black and Hispanic students have shown large score gains on the Naep in the past dozen years.

That's true in Grade 4 as well as in Grade 8. Beyond that, those two sets of students scored quite well in 2015 as compared to their demographic peers from around the nation.

In the new year, we expect to link you back to some of those numbers as we consider this recent New York Times report about Chicago's schools. For today, we want to record one last set of numbers, this time involving Chicago's white students.

Unlike some major city school districts, Chicago has a fairly substantial white student population. This was the system's demographic breakdown at the start of this year:
Chicago Public Schools, student population:
White students: 10.2%
Black students: 37.0%
Hispanic students: 46.8%
Asian-American students: 4.1%
Average scores by Chicago's black and Hispanic studnets have risen in the past dozen years. We were surprised when we saw where Chicago's white students currently stand.

Below, you see some data from the 2015 Naep. We're looking at average scores in Grade 8 math. Chicago's average scpore is extremely high:
Average scores, white students, public schools
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

All U.S. public schools: 291.06
Chicago: 317.35
Say what? Again, these are average scores for white kids only. But judging by a very rough rule of thumb commonly used in interpreting Naep scores, Chicago's white kids outscored the nation's white kids by the rough equivalent of two academic years!

We were surprised by that. But a pattern like that is hardly unknown. Let's add in the average acores for the Washington, D.C. schools, traditional public plus charters:
Average scores, white students, public schools
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

All U.S. public schools: 291.06
Chicago: 317.35
Washington, D.C.: 315.72
White kids in the D.C. schools produce high average scores too.

In the case of the D.C. schools, we're aware of an obvious likely explanation for that high average score. Washington doesn't have a huge white student population, but it's heavily tilted toward double graduate degree, "think tank" employee families. The educational background of the families is very high on average.

Is that the case in Chicago? We have no idea. That said, we were struck by the nuber of urban systems whose white students produced unusually high average acores:
Average scores, white students, public schools
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

All U.S. public schools: 291.06
Atlanta: 318.43
Austin: 312.53
Boston: 311.45
Charlotte: 311.56
Chicago: 317.35
Houston: 313.22
Los Angeles: 285.35
New York: 293.74
Philadelphia: 281.98
San Diego: 301.69
Washington. D.C.: 315.72
Average scores for white students were very high in quite a few major cities.

We'll offer one last data set. These are the average scores for Chicago's three largest demographic groups. The Naep didn't produce an average score for Chicago's smaller group of Asian-American students:
Average scores, Chicago Public Schools
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

White students: 317.35
Black students: 262.09
Hispanic students: 275.31
Those are the punishing "achievement gaps" we haven't come close to conquering. That said, the overall gaps are exaggerated here by dint of Chicago's very high score for white students.

The press corps' endless silence about such topics makes one point quite clear. From the New York Times through MSNBC, nobody actually cares.

When kids get shot, we pretend to care. We invent some facts, and disappear others, to show how much we care.

Otherwise, it's basically silence. Few real discussions ever take place. This is the truth about us.

To access all Naep data: You start by clicking here. From there, you're on your own.

Endless data are available. You have to learn how to find them.

SEX IN THE CINEMA: Next survivor, Leslie Caron!


Part 2—Orphan falls hard for Astaire:
In the decade of the 1950s, the history of sex in the Hollywood cinema is largely a story of age in the cinema.

More specifically, it's a story of much younger female stars falling in love, on camera at least, with a series of much older men. It wasn't just Susan Slept Here, the unwatchable 1954 comedy which ends with the 17-year-old Susan (played by Debbie Reynolds) dragging her geriatric husband, Dick Powell (actual age, 50) into a nearby bedroom to consummate their marriage.

One year later, it was Daddy Long Legs! But first, a quick speculation.

In Hollywood film, the 1950s were the era of "codger chic." Presumably, part of the reason went something like this:

As Hollywood emerged into the postwar years, it retained a large set of well-known, bankable, somewhat older male stars. Presumably, these male stars wanted to continue serving as leading men. Presumably, Hollywood wanted to exploit their bankability.

For whatever reason, those older male stars continued to serve as leading men all through the 1950s. But for whatever reason, they were persistently paired with a new generation of much younger, smokin' hot, emerging female stars.

We're speaking of such men as these: Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Bogart, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire. Even John Wayne and Bing Crosby, not to exclude Sinatra.

We're speaking of such emerging female stars as these: Audrey Hepburn, Leslie Caron, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, even Sophia Loren, with Debbie Reynolds repeatedly cast as the underage sprite hooking up with the older fellow.

Again and again, these younger, emerging female stars were forced to smooch and cavort, and fall in love, with a much older group of male stars. Compliant audiences spent the decade pretending that these "odd couple" pairings made visual and conceptual sense.

This is part of the history of sex—and sexual abuse—in Hollywood, a story which is suddenly being told today. It's also the story of dating patterns in Alabama, and elsewhere, during the next several decades, a story about which we liberals wailed and shrieked for the past several months as a fellow named Donald J. Trump was arranging to loot the treasury.

For now, let's put those contemporary considerations aside. Today, let's skip from 1954, when the Powell character was dragged to the bedroom by the 17-year-old he'd "impulsively" married, to 1955, when Caron was forced to fall in love with an aging Fred Astaire.

Due to their very youthful appearance, Caron and Hepburn were forced to spend this entire decade falling for much older men. In the ultimate indignity, Caron—playing 18—ended up marrying Maurice Chevalier—actual age, 73—in the Oscar nominated 1961 film, Fanny.

That indignity lay in the future. By 1955, Caron was an established semi-star. But as with Hepburn, her looks suited her to playing the gamine.

This led to her casting in the unwatchable Daddy Long Legs, an attempt at a major film which didn't take off. The leading authority on the unwatchable film describes its plot as shown below.

Good lord! Here we go again!
Wealthy American Jervis Pendleton III (Fred Astaire) has a chance encounter at a French orphanage with a cheerful 18-year-old resident, Julie Andre (Leslie Caron). He anonymously pays for her education at a New England college. She writes letters to her mysterious benefactor regularly, but he never writes back. Her nickname for him, "Daddy Long Legs", is taken from the description of him given to Andre by some of her fellow orphans who see his shadow as he leaves their building.

Several years later, he visits her at school, still concealing his identity. Despite their large age difference, they fall in love.
"Despite their large age difference, they fall in love?" Under the rules of Hollywood film in the 1950s, nothing else could have happened! Inevitably, the cheerful 18-year-old orphan ended up with the "old coot!"

Granted, Caron's character is no longer 18 when she falls for Astaire. She may be as old at 20.

That said, in real life, Astaire was now 56 years old. Beyond that, it's fair to say that he was no one's idea of a dreamboat.

By all accounts, Astaire was one of the greatest dancers (and athletes) in Hollywood history, and in vaudeville before that. But aside from his world-class dancing ability, it's hard to imagine that he ever would have been cast as a leading man.

He didn't look like a leading man, Nor did he look like a dreamboat—and by now, he was 56.

By way of contrast, Caron was 24 in real life, playing 18 at the start of the film. By the rules of the game, she fell for the wraith-like Astaire. She fell for Fred, and fell hard.

In reality, Astaire was just one in a long line of older male stars with whom Caron was paired during this malecentric era. That leading authority on the film reports a comical sidelight:
The film was one of Astaire's personal favorites, largely due to the script, which, for once, directly addresses the complications inherent in a love affair between a young woman and a man thirty years her senior.
A man thirty years her senior? Even for men, math is hard!

At any rate, one prays that Astaire wasn't so blind as to believe what's described in that passage. In fact, this unwatchable film "directly addresses" nothing at all, and its persistent attempts at humor are unbearable.

That said, the term "for once" is revealing. Hollywood had drenched the culture with codger chic. Finally, Astaire may have thought, this issue was being addressed!

Caron was forced to endure this treatment throughout the decade, in which she created a major career. She starred in two Best Picture Oscar winners (An American in Paris, 1951; Gigi, 1957), and in a third Best Picture nominee (Fanny, 1961). She received a nomination as Best Actress in yet another film (Lili, 1954).

Still and all, Caron rarely escaped her pairing with the old or older goats. In An American in Paris, she was forced to fall in love with Gene Kelly. His actual age was 39. She was 20, and things spiraled downward from there.

In Gigi, Caron's character is so young as the picture begins that she's literally playing tag with her schoolgirl friends when she first appears on the screen. As this happens, Maurice Chevalier is ogling a bunch of 6-year-olds, singing about how hot they'll be when they get a bit older.

(Chevalier, actual age 70: "Each time I see a little girl of five or six or seven. I can't resist a joyous urge to smile and say, Thank heaven...")

As the film proceeds, the Caron character, who is perhaps 16, becomes romantically paired with Louis Jourdain (actual age, 37), who is bored to tears with his upper-class life as a foppish womanizer.

His boredom can only be relieved by the exuberance of the teen-aged Gigi. The leading authority on the film offers this summary of the Jourdain character's thinking as the film nears its climax:
As he walks, he starts to reflect about Gigi. He stops and suddenly realizes that she has become a woman whose charms, wit, and personality have sent his head spinning. He soon comes to the conclusion that he has developed a romantic desire for Gigi.

Although he has doubts due to their enormous age difference, he also realizes that he loves her even more than he thought
(unheard of between a man and a mistress) and he wants to be with her. He proposes an arrangement to Madame Alvarez and Aunt Alicia for Gigi to become his mistress.
Gigi refuses to play it like that. They end up getting married.

Granted, Gigi is a period piece; it's superb in many ways. But by the logic of 1950s Hollywood, what eventually happens in the film simply had to happen:

Susan gets Powell to consummate when she's still 17. How old is Gigi supposed to be when she marries Gaston?

In fairness, Caron caught a break in Gigi. She wasn't required to marry Chevalier; that would come three years later, in Fanny. But Caron was hit on, harassed or married by much older men all through the 1950s. This was the logic of the era. As such, i's a significant part of the sexual history of American popular culture.

Caron's career is one small part of this era's devotion to "codger chic." Presumably, this wave of films reflected Hollywood's desire to continue to keep using bankable established male stars as leading men.

Presumably, sexual politics dictated that these older, bankable men had to be paired with younger female stars. They couldn't age gracefully with the established female stars of the previous decade.

Presumably, the peculiar scenarios of this era also reflected the vanity and the fantasies of those aging male stars, and of a generation of male producers, directors and writers. Behind the foolishness of these on-screen pairings lies the fractured sexual politics which is only now being revealed and explored in its later manifestations.

In Alabama and elsewhere, cultural notions about dating, romance and marriage flowed in part from this peculiar Hollywood era. Decades later, we liberals would stage a moral panic about this fact, a moral panic which helped Donald J. Trump loot the treasury this week.

Go ahead! You can watch the ending of Daddy Long Legs, where Caron is forced to smooch with the aging Astaire as his old coot employees look on. (To watch the trailer, click here.)

Part of the history of sex in the cinema involves the way a major female star like Caron was denied the chance to portray love and romance on the screen with male stars of roughly her own age. That said, she was hardly alone.

Three years later, in 1958, Kim Novak was forced to fall in love with twice-her-age Jimmy Stewart in two different major films (Bell Book and Candle; Vertigo). Hepburn, constantly cast, like Caron, as some version of the gamine, was paired with every geriatric in town, not excluding Cooper, Astaire and Bogart.

(Later, in 1961, even with Buddy Ebsen!)

This was sexual politics at its weirdest, its most malecentric and juvenile. As our series continues, we'll suggest a few places where Hollywood has offered more instructive romantic role models for sensible humans to steer by.

That said, how much same-age love has Hollywood ever shown you? In the 1950s, the examples were comically, but also destructively, few and far between.

Coming: Hitchcock is part of this tale; also, some excellent models

Large gains in Chicago's Grade 4 too!


Despite what the New York Times said:
Dating back, let's say, to 2005, Chicago's public school students seem to have shown substantial progress in Grade 8 math.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress—the Naep—is routinely described as "the gold standard" of domestic educational testing. As we noted on Monday, the average scores recorded by Chicago's black kids have grown, a lot, in Grade 8 math, in the past dozen years:
Average scores, black students, Chicago
Grade 8 math, Naep

2005: 244.83
2007: 248.22
2009: 252.48
2011: 260.03
2013: 259.12
2015: 262.09
By a very roughly rule of thumb, 10-11 points on the Naep scale is often said to correspond to one academic year. On that basis, those average scores seem to represent a lot of progress.

Chicago's Hispanic kids have shown large score gains too—and they were starting from a higher point:
Average scores, Hispanic students, Chicago
Grade 8 math, Naep

2005: 262.55
2007: 264.52
2009: 268.46
2011: 271.48
2013: 270.18
2015: 275.31
Those score gains are impressive too.

(Again, we offer a chastening larger perspective. Across the nation, white kids averaged 291.06 on this test. Asian-American kids averaged 305.37.)

Chicago's average scores exceed those of most other big-city systems. The same is true of the city's score gains since 2005.

Now we offer a significant point. Chicago has recorded large scores gains at the Grade 4 level too.

The Naep tests reading and math in Grades 4 and Grade 8. In Grade 4 math, average scores by Chicago's black kids have looked like this:
Average scores, black students, Chicago
Grade 4 math, Naep

2005: 207.71
2007: 212.80
2009: 211.78
2011: 216.67
2013: 220.81
2015: 221.17
Here again, we're looking at substantial score gains. And for the city's Hispanic fourth graders, average score in Grade 4 math have gone from 217.05 in 2005 to 229.69 in 2015.

In short, Chicago has recorded large score gains at the Grade 4 level too. In light of this recent report by the New York Times, there's an interesting aspect to this.

The Times report seems to attribute a surprising theory to Stanford's Sean Reardon. According to this theory, city kids tend to be substantially behind national norms at the end of third grade mainly because of factors in the home and the community. Positive effects of a skillful school system start to kick in after that.

Stated in its baldest form, this theory seems counterintuitive. Needless to say, that doesn't mean that it's wrong.

That said, these data from Chicago seem to fly in the face of this theory. Why do we say that? Here's why:

The Naep produces no Grade 3 scores. Its earliest testing occurs in Grade 4.

But in Chicago, Grade 4 scores have tended to rise in conjunction with Grade 8 scores. Presumably, social surroundings in Chicago didn't improve a lot from 2005 to 2015—a period in which that city's rising homicide numbers drew lots of national attention, with activists loudly complaining about the closing of neighborhood schools.

That said, scores by the city's fourth graders rose by substantial amounts during this period, hand in hand with the large score gains recorded by Chicago's eighth graders. If the school district's influence only starts kicking in after third grade, that influence seems to have kicked in heavily in Chicago during just that one fourth grade year.

We found a great deal to wonder about in that New York Times report. Early in the new year, we expect to examine several aspects of the report.

As usual, we came away from that report with a few basic reactions. In our view, the New York Times makes little investment in its education reporting.

In our view, Times reporting about urban schools has a largely Potemkin feel. Truth to tell, the Times doesn't seem to care a whole lot about the delightful, deserving, striving kids in Chicago's public schools.

Meanwhile, have you seen that full-page New York Times report discussed on your favorite "cable news" channel? Has Rachel Maddow discussed that report? How about Chris, Chris and Lawrence, or does he just care about desks?

Has that major report been discussed? Has Professor Reardon been interviewed?

We're going to say that the answer is no. So why do you think that is?

Tomorrow: Perhaps a major surprise

More sexy excitement from Morning Joe!


Mika comes clean RE the Clintons:
Yesterday morning, Mika returned to her weirdest claim in Morning Joe's opening segment. Trump grabbed Billy Bush by the crotch! For our report, click here.

Joe went silent and hung his head. This morning, she had the day off.

Yesterday, we noted this weird incident as the latest sign of the ubiquity of The Crazy within our upper-end press corps. That said, Mika made a more significant statement on yesterday morning's program.

We aren't sure if her statement was true. But it deserves recording.

During the program's first half hour, Mika was discussing her concerns about the latest moral stampede. She made sensible statements about the lack of due process afforded Al Franken. She also said that many male executives have told her that they will no longer hire or promote women if the current "guilty if charged" framework continues to flourish.

We can't evaluate the claims about future hiring, but as a general matter, Mika's comments weren't ridiculous. Along the way, though, she made some intriguing remarks about Kirsten Gillibrand, and about her own past views concerning Bill and Hillary Clinton.

We aren't sure if these statements are accurate. We think they deserve recording:
MIKA (12/19/17): And as far as Kirsten Gillibrand is concerned, I think that she's an incredible talent. I think that there's a chance she'll run for president some day, and I think I might support her.

But she has to deal with her Clinton issue. She has to address the cameras and answer the question as to what had—what was the motivation behind her change of opinion about the Clintons.

Because for me, for the ten years that I've been on this show, I have been extremely critical and concerned about the Clintons because of their abuse of women. I don't know how your position could change on this, and I'd like to know about that process. And I'm sure there is a fair process.

JOE: When did it change, and what else was out there that changed other than Hillary Clinton losing, and the Clintons, for the irst time in 25 years, being out of power?

MIKA [seeming to address Gillibrand]: And I love what you said about the Clintons. I just want to understand how you got there.
To watch this discussion, click here.

According to Mika, Gillibrand has to explain her recent, apparent change of perspective regarding President Clinton. We were more struck by Mika's statement about her own past views on the Clintons.

"For the ten years that I've been on this show, I have been extremely critical and concerned about the Clintons because of their abuse of women," Mika heroically said. "I don't know how your position could change on this."

That struck us as a significant statement. We also aren't sure it was true.

Even as she semi-challenged Gillibrand's recent flip on Bill Clinton, Mika seemed to say that she herself has been a forthright critic of "the Clintons" over the past ten years.

Is that statement accurate? We don't think we've ever seen Mika make such a sirect statement about the Clintons. Nor could we find evidence of any such statement onMorning Joe in a cursory search this morning.

The Morning Joe program does produce some transcripts through Nexis. This morning, we searched such transcripts as exist using this search term:
"Brzezinski AND Morning Joe AND Lewinsky OR Juanita OR Paula Jones"
We found no record of Mika having discussed these topics. Again, most discussions on Morning Joe are not recorded through Nexis.

Has Mika been a long-time, forthright critic of "the Clintons" because of "their abuse of women?" We can't say that we know.

We can't recall ever seeing her make such direct statements. We read her three "female empowerment" books this summer, and she definitely made no such statements there.

(The books were published by Weinstein Books. Mika had no idea!)

We don't know if Mika has ever made such direct statements about "the Clintons." That said, we were struck, all through the 2016 campaign, by her half-hearted, grudging pseudo-endorsement of Candidate Clinton.

From June 2015 through early 2016, Mika and Joe seemed to campaigning on behalf of their former social friend, Candidate Trump. In early 2016, they dramatically flipped, but Mika—the alleged Democrat in the pair—always seemed to be offering "hostage videos" when she'd make her weekly, grudging statement that she'd be voting for Clinton.

We assumed the truth was something like what she said yesterday. Yesterday, Mika may have invented her alleged past forthrightness. But at long last, it seemed to us that her view became clear.

That said, is it true that "the Clintons" have engaged in "abuse of women?" The way our slippery pundit corps works, you rarely know what's being alleged in matters like this, let alone whether it's accurate.

Which women does Mika think they abused? Who has Hillary Clinton "abused?" What was Mika talking about?

There's little reason to ask. She delivered her shot, then moved on.

Who have "the Clintons" "abused?" Yesterday, Mika didn't say. This morning, she was resting comfortably at an undisclosed location.

It seemed to us that Mika's snark and eye-rolling were always apparent concerning Candidate Clinton. Did she ever really have the courage to make a forthright statement?

We don't know the answer to that. But as a general matter, our pundit corps doesn't work that way. Our pundits work through insinuation, and Mika is one of the worst.

Also, Trump grabbed Billy Bush by the crotch! For undisclosed reasons, Mika Brzezinski is totally sure that this actually happened.

We live in a nation of 330 million people. Despite that very large number, the unfortunate river known as The Crazy seems to run all through our press/pundit corps, especially at the top.

Wealth and fame tend to have that effect. The rewards are too damn high!

SEX IN THE CINEMA: Susan slept there!


Part 1—So did the liberal world:
Yesterday, we made ourselves do it.

Blessed by the magic of ten-minute fast-forward skip, we forced ourselves to watch various chunks of the unwatchable 1954 film, Susan Slept Here.

(The film is in regular rotation on TCM. At present, it's available to us, for free, through our cable On Demand.)

Susan Slept Here starred Debbie Reynolds, age 22 in real life but playing 17 in the film. She was paired with Dick Powell, in his last film role. He was age 50 in real life but looked and seemed 100.

The Powell character's fiancee was played by Anne Francis. She was age 24 in real life. People, go figure!

The ridiculous plot of Susan Slept here is summarized by the leading authority on the film as shown below. This film, and several million others like it, helped establish a type of social ideal in the United States of the 1950s.

In a bit of a cultural sidelight, the film also may help explain why the Trump tax bill is about to pass into law! At any rate, in a summary by the leading authority, here's how its story begins:
Mark Christopher (Powell) is a successful thirty-five-year-old Hollywood screenwriter who has suffered from partial writer's block since winning an Academy Award and has been unable to produce a decent script. One Christmas Eve, he receives an unexpected and very unwanted surprise present.

Vice Squad Sergeant Sam Hanlon brings seventeen-year-old Susan Landis (Reynolds) to Mark's luxurious apartment.
Susan had been abandoned by her mother and was arrested for vagrancy and hitting a sailor over the head with a beer bottle. Not wanting to keep her in jail over the holidays and aware that Mark was interested in writing a script about juvenile delinquency, the kindhearted cop decides to bend the rules (much to the disapproval of his partner). Hanlon suggests that Susan stay with Mark until her arraignment the day after Christmas.

Mark is naturally appalled, but is eventually persuaded to take the girl in.
This doesn't go over too well with his long-time fiancée, Isabella Alexander (Francis), the demanding daughter of a U.S. Senator. Isabella's jealousy grows when Susan develops a crush on Mark. Mark's secretary Maude Snodgrass, his best friend Virgil, and his lawyer Harvey Butterworth do their best to keep the situation under control.

When Harvey lets slip that Susan will likely stay in a juvenile detention facility till she is 18, Mark impulsively takes her to Las Vegas and marries her. The marriage, he explains to his friends, will last for just long enough to convince the judge that Susan has made good. To avoid consummating the marriage, he takes Susan out dancing till she collapses with fatigue, and brings her back to Hollywood.
Powell's associates do their best "to keep the situation under control." Heh heh heh heh heh!

At any rate, if you're familiar with Hollywood culture of this ridiculous, malecentric era, you know where this manifest bullshit pretty much had to be going.

Citizens, you read that summary correctly! Viewers of this ridiculous film were asked to believe that Powell—50 years old in real life, looking and seeming a million years older—was playing a fellow of 35.

Reynolds, age 22 in real life, was playing 17. Francis, age 24 is real life, was playing a standard role in films of this era—the shrewish, much younger fiancee, who gets bounced in the end for someone even younger.

You read other things right! As the film proceeds, Powell—50 years old but seeming older—"impulsively marries" the Reynolds character, who's explicitly 17. And heh heh heh heh heh! If you understand Hollywood culture of this era, you know what happens next:

Much of the rest of the film involves Reynolds' attempt to get Powell to "consummate" matters! Decades before Viagra!

Heh heh heh heh heh! Susan wants the Powell character to marry her the old-fashioned way. The 17-year-old Reynolds character wants to get the old codger in bed!

This was very much Tinseltown in the 1950s. Susan Slept Here helps define a rather standard cultural ideal:

He was a creaking 50 years old. She was 22, playing 17. Needless to say, she falls hard for the tired old coot. And sure enough! In the summary by the leading authority, the story ends like this:
(Continuing directly from above:) Mark then slips away to a cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains to work on his script with Maude. The marriage is reported in the newspapers. Enraged Isabella confronts Susan, but is hauled away by Hanlon and his partner.

Some weeks later, Isabella finds Mark in the cabin. She has calmed down, but Mark says he thinks they are not really suited to each other. Susan also arrives, determined to win Mark to a real marriage. She is encouraged and supported by Maude, who still regrets leaving her childhood love behind for an attempted acting career in Hollywood. Susan refuses to sign the annulment papers, while Mark still will not consummate the marriage.

When Susan is seen eating strawberries and pickles, Mark's friends assume the worst: that she is pregnant. Susan eventually confesses to Mark that she just likes that combination. Mark has his own confession: he is in love with Susan but is worried by their age difference. Susan tells him all the reasons that they should stay married and pulls him into the bedroom.
Heh heh heh heh heh! As the film ends, Powell's bride—she's still explicitly 17—is pulling her creaking old husband into his bedroom, where they can get it on.

This ridiculous movie is full of standard jokes of the era—jokes involving milk as a cure for a gentleman's ulcers, jokes involving the meaning of a woman's desire to eat pickles.

At any rate, by the end of the film, the tired old Powell comes to see that he fallen in love with his underage bride. In that final scene, we get to see the happy ending which defines one crackpot ideal of the era.

This transparently ridiculous story involves a basic mental framework of this malecentric Hollywood era. All through the 1950s, a generation of aging male stars were romantically paired with a generation of much younger, emerging female stars.

Audiences were asked to believe that smokin' hot 20-year-old women dreamed of getting it on with extremely tired old men in the pre-Viagra era! Once again, here's the relevant lineup from this particular film:
Powell, the male protagonist: Age 50 in real life, perhaps maybe seeming older
Francis, his fiancee: Age 24 in real life
Reynolds, his bride: Age 22 in real life, playing 17 throughout
If we might borrow from Luca Brasi, this film seems to represent the cultural dream of a series of aging "masculine children" all through the 1950s.

Fantasy-ridden male producers invented these cockeyed films. Aging male stars then rushed to grace them with their improbable presence.

In fairness, Susan Slept Here was supposed to be a comedy. All through the film, the assortment of baboons surrounding Powell warn him about the fact that it would be illegal for him to get it on with his 17-year-old charge.

Heh heh heh heh heh! Given the culture of the era, you knew how things had to end!

For Hollywood, the 1950s was the decade of the aging established male star. One year after the unwatchable Susan Slept Here, Leslie Caron was forced to fall for Fred Astaire, and fall quite hard, in the unwatchable Daddy Long Legs.

Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh! We'll share that plot line tomorrow!

During this ridiculous era, Hollywood produced a ton of films which established the genre of "codger love." These films help define the evolution of our nation's endlessly juvenile sexual culture.

These ridiculous films help define the Hollywood of this era. Given the ways of our own liberal tribe, they may also help explain why a certain unfortunate tax bill is about to pass into law, signed by one Donald J. Trump.

Susan slept in Powell's apartment. Have we been sound asleep too?

Tomorrow: Fred Astaire spots a schoolgirl—inevitably, over in France

More numbers from the Chicago schools!


Again with the Grade 8 math:
How well are kids in Chicago's public schools doing on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, AKA the Naep?

(For yesterday's report, click here.)

The most recent data come from the 2015 Naep. Once again, let's see how Chicago's students compared to their counterparts around the nation in Grade 8 math.

Today, we'll consider black kids and Hispanic kids. We'll look at Chicago's white kids—at present, they're 10.2% of the city's student population—before the week is done.

Today, we're discussing Grade 8 math. On the 2015 Naep, here's how Chicago's black and Hispanic students stacked up against their demographic counterparts in the nation as a whole:
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep:

Average scores, black students

Chicago: 262.09
American public schools: 259.85

Average scores, Hispanic students
Chicago: 275.31
American public schools: 269.47
There's good news there, and bad news too. Let's start with the good news:

On the 2015 Naep, Chicago's black and Hispanic kids outscored their demographic peers from around the nation in Grade 8 math.

(How significant are those differences? Again, for a very rough rule of thumb, 10-11 points on the Naep scale is often said to be the rough equivalent of one academic year.)

Chicago's black and Hispanic kids outscored their peers from all across the nation! This means that Chicago scored extremely well as compared to other big city school systems, which typically deal with higher levels of poverty.

Yesterday, we showed you Grade 8 scores for some other big city districts, black students only. Here they are again:
Average scores, black students
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

Atlanta: 257.79
Baltimore: 251.45
Boston: 269.20
Chicago: 262.09
Cleveland: 249.46
Dallas: 260.51
Detroit: 242.03
Houston: 265.27
Los Angeles: 254.66
New York City: 260.66
Philadelphia: 257.05
San Diego: 260.97
Washington, DC: 256.66
Among that group of urban districts, Chicago was outscored only by Boston and Houston. On the even brighter side, Chicago's Hispanic kids outscored their peers in all those urban districts:
Average scores, Hispanic students
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

Atlanta: 270.85
Baltimore: 260.85
Boston: 270.90
Chicago: 275.31
Cleveland: 256.71
Dallas: 272.14
Detroit: 252.62
Houston: 273.10
Los Angeles: 258.71
New York City: 267.37
Philadelphia: 258.85
San Diego: 265.76
Washington, DC: 265.32
On this recent measure, Chicago's scores looked quite good compared to other urban districts. As will typically be the case at this time, Detroit lagged far behind.

That's the way the Chicago story goes if we look on the bright side. On the gloomier side, these were the average scores on that test for the nation's largest demographic groups, including white and Asian-American students:
Average scores, American public schools
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

White students: 291.06
Black students: 259.85
Hispanic students: 269.47
Asian-American students: 305.37
Once again, we're looking at those daunting "achievement gaps." Those average scores from across the country place Chicago's black and Hispanic scores in a gloomier context.

Chicago's black and Hispanic kids outscored their demographic counterparts from across the nation. On the gloomier side, their average scores didn't come close to matching the average scores of the nation's white and Asian-American kids. This is the basic reality we choose to ignore every day as we gambol and play on our tribal "cable news" entertainment and propaganda networks.

(If a black kid gets shot, we feign concern, depending of course on who shot him. Otherwise, it's silent night! Nothing could be more clear than the fact that nobody actually cares.)

There are a million public school data sets in the nation's cities. In the new year, we'll be reviewing this recent New York Times news report, which focused on rates of learning in Chicago's schools.

There's a lot to say, and a lot to ask, about that sometimes puzzling report. For the next few days, we'll present some basic background data.

Tomorrow: Improved Chicago scores in Grade 4

Thursday: Perhaps a type of surprise

Mika returns to the boys on the bus!


Donald groped Billy, she says:
Is MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski "all right?"

This morning, at 6:08 Eastern, she returned to her favorite weird assertion. This time, the extremely peculiar "cable news" star said it right out, nice and plain:
MIKA (12/19/17): Where is Billy Bush?

JOE: We'll get back to Billy Bush.

MIKA: He should get pardoned.

JOE: Billy Bush, a full and complete pardon. Uh, so—

MIKA: Totally! Well no. He just laughed while the president grabbed him in the crotch.

SAM STEIN: Billy is making a comeback.


[Awkward pause]

That happened! Just listen to the tape!

[Joe drops his head and goes silent. Nervous laughter from Morning Joe panel.]
Is Mika Brzezinski all right? Granted, she's a terrible analyst, and her books, which we read this summer, are routinely weird.

But is she "all right?"

We heard today's remarks in real time, at 6:08 this morning. Knowing the way Morning Joe works, we quickly jotted them down as best we could.

We were right! These weird remarks have been disappeared from the videotape posted at the Morning Joe site. Luckily, someone else has posted them on Youtube. To watch this 32 seconds of strangeness, you can just click here.

Watch her face as she speaks. Is Mika Brzezinski all right?

Originally, Mika raised this peculiar, unsupported idea on November 27. For our report at that time, click here.

On that occasion, she only suggested that Trump groped Bush. Today, she just flat out said it, as Joe hung his head.

In part because of corporate partisan "news," our society is in the grip of large amounts of The Crazy. Donald J. Trump may be mentally ill, or perhaps in the grip of early onset dementia. A certain recent Senate candidate seems to be thoroughly nuts.

Mika often seems that way too. In a nation of 330 million people, it's stunning to see how much of The Crazy seems to reside at the top of the heap among the "elites" who define the parameters of the national discourse.

Is Mika Brzezinski all right? How long will this go on?

ANTHROPOLOGY NOW: Tell us a story, our species insists!


Part 4—Preferably a cartoon:
On January 17, 2016, Daniel Shaver had an extremely bad day. He was shot and killed by a Maricopa County policeman as she crawled on his belly, submissive, in the hallway of a Mesa motel.

On December 8 of this year, prolonged videotape of the deadly incident was released to the public. In an online report for the New York Times, Vivian Wang described what she saw on the tape. Almost five minutes of videotape accompany Wang's report:
WANG (12/9/17): Newly released body camera footage shows a police officer shooting an unarmed man in an Arizona hotel after the man sobbed and pleaded with officers not to shoot him.

The graphic video, which was released after a jury on Thursday acquitted the officer of murder and manslaughter charges, stoked outrage on social media and renewed calls for reforms in law enforcement.

“This, to me, is the most horrific shooting I’ve ever seen,” Mark Geragos, a lawyer for the widow and the 5- and 8-year-old daughters of the man, Daniel Shaver, 26, said in an interview on Saturday. Mr. Geragos, who said he had seen thousands of body camera videos, said the footage was evidence of “the criminal justice system at its worst.”
Was this really the most horrific such videotape yet? Arguably, yes.

The previous worst videotape showed Walter Scott being shot in the back in North Charleston, S.C., as he ran from a pursuing police officer. Arguably, the new tape was even worse than that, in that 1) it showed the entire incident, from start to finish, and 2) it included the extended crazy instructions given to Shaver and a female friend by the officer who was later acquitted.

Should the officer have been acquitted? We aren't examining that question today. Today, we're discussing what anthropologists have told us about the way the tape of Shaver's death has been treated within the American press and pundit corps—by the way the videotape has disappeared from view.

According to Wang, Geragos said the tape was the worst he's ever seen. She also said the release of the tape had "stoked outrage on social media and renewed calls for reforms in law enforcement."

If so, how odd! Despite the focus on police shootings in recent years, the incident was never reported in the hard-copy Times.

Wang's report appeared online only. According to Nexis, readers of the hard-copy Times have never heard of the incident, or of Shaver at all.

Then too, there's this. Despite the focus on police shootings in recent years, this incident has provoked zero pundit reaction. According to Nexis, the incident has never been mentioned on MSNBC's evening programs, or on any CNN program except for overnight time-kill programs.

(MSNBC doesn't prepare transcripts for its daytime programs.)

The incident has never been mentioned by Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper or Don Lemon. It has been mentioned by no columnist at either the New York Times or the Washington Post.

Despite the recent focus on police shootings. that remarkable videotape has come and gone with barely a word of comment. Plainly, everyone knows why that is. But major anthropologists have tried to help us place this incident in a larger context for our award-winning documentary, Anthropology Now, which is scheduled to be filmed in some future year.

The shooting of Shaver has disappeared. According to these major figures, the lack of press and pundit interest can be explained as follows:

Our floundering species, Homo sapiens, is a species whose mental functioning is heavily focused on the contemplation of illustrative stories. Our species isn't instinctively focused on facts.

"Jesus employed no charts or graphs," one witty scientist told us.

How strong is our desire for parables? "Even today, our brainiest journalists routinely describe their news reports as 'stories!' " So this scientist sadly said, shaking his or her head.

According to these anthropologists, the problem with our instinctive functioning runs even deeper than that. Our species isn't content to seek out stories, these scientists say. We're wired to seek the most simplified tales we can find.

"The truth is, we're strongly wired to seek cartoons," one of these scholars said. He or she proceeded to explain what he or she meant, offering specific examples:

"Starting with the death of Trayvon Martin," this anthropologist told us, "members of the American liberal tribe have been constructing cartoonized stories about matters of gender and race."

According to this scientist, facts have routinely been invented or disappeared to cartoonize these stories. In other cases, wholly irrelevant facts have been stressed in the telling of these cartoonized tales.

"As a species, we love the smell of cartoons in the morning," one anthropologist said. Also this:

Sometimes, entire incidents must disappear to drive the overall story! This explains the non-reaction to the shooting of Shaver, these major academics have said.

These major figures are painting a rather gloomy picture of our species' instinctive functioning. As a matter of fact, they've repeatedly said, we humans aren't strongly wired to behave in classically "rational" ways, or to pursue "Enlightenment values."

Especially at times of social stress and tribal division, we're strongly wired to seek cartoons—and the more dumbed-down the better! Or at least, so these well-known figures have said.

Let's make one point perfectly clear. At first, we assumed these scientists were describing the internal wiring and external tendencies of "those people," The Others, the ones who are found Over There. When we made a comment betraying this thought, these scholars brought us up short.

They stressed the claim that this is also the way we liberals are inclined to behave! This seems like a highly irrational claim, but these major anthropologists have stressed it again and again.

Again and again in recent years, we liberals have disappeared facts to create cartoonized tales! In the case of the shooting of Shaver, we've disappeared the incident altogether, despite that remarkable tape!

These anthropologists say these facts about human wiring help explain our liberal tribe's recent moral panics and stampedes. They say these basic facts help explain Kirsten Gillibrand's shaky behavior, even Patrick Leahy's recent flip concerning Senator Franken!

They further say that these facts help explain the way we liberals ignore the public schools. We don't actually care about the kids in those schools, these major figures allege. We only care about our cartoons, which we cling to as a drowning man or woman might cling to twigs from a raft.

Alas! It was with these crazy thoughts in mind that we recently read Cat Person, the New Yorker short story which recently became a sensation among us liberal types. In our view, the story is fascinating and instructive right up to the end, when it becomes a cartoon.

The New Yorker has long been famous for its cartoons. Back in the day, did the famously brainy magazine present its cartoons in disguise?

Final point about Shaver: In the Washington Post, Wes Lowery offered a news report about Shaver's killing. Online, the headline says this:

"Graphic video shows Daniel Shaver sobbing and begging officer for his life before 2016 shooting"

The report appeared in the hard-copy Post on Saturday, December 9. According to Nexis, there has been no subsequent mention of Shaver in the Post, whether hard-copy or online. According to Nexis, Shaver has never been mentioned in the hard-copy New York Times at all.

Earlier this year, Lowery published a best-selling book, "They Can't Kill Us All." It was recently picked by the New York Times as one of the hundred best books of the year.

We aren't judging the quality of the book, which we own but haven't read. The book itself may be superb. We have no way to judge.

That said, "Is that title perhaps a cartoon in itself?" That's what one of our anthropologists somewhat Socratically said!

Full disclosure: Back in the 1990s, we appeared, for the second time, on CNBC's Equal Time. During the course of a hurtful discussion, we were compared to Margaret Mead by Mary Matalin and Tony Kornheiser, our excessively puckish co-hosts.

We were appearing as a comedian! In the new year, we'll try to post the tape.

Numbers from the Chicago schools!


Some basic information:
What the heck has been going on in Chicago's schools?

You're asking an excellent question! Last Wednesday morning, the New York Times ran a lengthy report featuring the apparent improvement in that beleaguered city's schools.

At least, the Times did so in its hard-copy editions, where the lengthy report by Emily Badger consumed an entire page, the first page of the National section.

On line, Badger's report may be harder to spot. At the Times' "Today's Paper" site, Badger's report isn't listed in the National section at all. Efforts like this rarely get a lot of play from the Times.

We plan to study Badger's report at the start of the new year. For today, let's take a look at some recent test scores from Chicago.

Badger is reporting on a new study by Stanford professor Sean Reardon. In hard copy, her report ran under this upbeat headline:

"New Measure Shows Where Students Learn the Most"

Not without reason, Chicago's schools are the stars of Badger's report. It might be worth reviewing some recent data about the performance of kids in that city's schools.

Judging from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the Naep), the performance of Chicago's kids has been on the rise. Here are some average scores in eighth grade math from the past decade. Scores from this year's Naep testing aren't available yet:
Average scores, black students, Chicago Public Schools
Grade 8 math, Naep

2005: 244.83
2007: 248.22
2009: 252.48
2011: 260.03
2013: 259.12
2015: 262.09
From 2005 to 2015, that average score rose by more than 17 points. By normal reckoning, that's a very healthy improvement. According to a (very) rough rule of thumb, 10-11 points on the Naep is said to represent roughly one academic year.

Assuming those test scores mean what they seem to mean, black kids in Chicago are doing much better in math. That doesn't mean that Chicago couldn't do better. Here are the average scores, nationwide, for some groups of American kids:
Average scores, American public schools
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

White students: 291.06
Black students: 259.85
Hispanic students: 269.47
Asian-American students: 305.37
Black kids in Chicago averaged 262.09. That put them a few points above the national average for other black kids, but it left them far behind the average score for white and Asian-American students. We need to keep such facts in mind when we start talking about schools and school systems "where students learn the most."

Chicago's improvement since 2005 exceeds that of most other city school districts by a substantial amount. That said, there are a few other urban systems whose black kids scored higher than their peers in Chicago on this most recent test.

Here are the average scores for some of the several dozen cities which take part in the Naep on a basis which permits the publication of citywide average scores:
Average scores, black students
Grade 8 math, 2015 Naep

Atlanta: 257.79
Baltimore: 251.45
Boston: 269.20
Chicago: 262.09
Cleveland: 249.46
Dallas: 260.51
Detroit: 242.03
Houston: 265.27
Los Angeles: 254.66
New York City: 260.66
Philadelphia: 257.05
Washington, DC: 256.66
Chicago's black kids outscored their peers in most of those city school districts. That said, if our goal is a world where black kids perform well on a national and international basis, all those systems have a long way to go—as do we all.

There are a million educational facts in our nation's various cities. For today, we've looked at Chicago's black kids only, and only in Grade 8 math.

Chicago's scores have gone way up in Grade 8 math during the period under review. Tomorrow, we'll offer a few more sets of data. At the start of the year, we'll review Badger's report, which advances some theories by Professor Reardon which strike us as somewhat peculiar.

You'll see few discussions of this matter. The truth is, nobody cares about any of this. Few things are quite so clear.

To access Naep data: To access Naep data, just click here. From there, you're on your own.

The NCES produces a ton of data. It's just that nobody actually cares about such matters as this.

ANTHROPOLOGY NOW: The next generation of cablegogue!


Part 3—The weaponization of virtue:
The next generation of "cablegogue" has been in the news of late.

"Cablegogue?" It's a term major anthropologists use to describe the role of "cable news" in the current functioning of our floundering species. It's a shorthand reference to the widespread presence of demagoguery at our partisan "cable news" networks.

We've been consulting with major anthropologists as we prepare our award-winning documentary film, Anthropology Now. "I love the smell of demagoguery in the evening," moguls will be quoted saying in this award-winning doc.

Over at Fox, the cablegogues have been especially active of late. In a recent assessment of the Mueller probe, Jesse Waters has declared that "we may have a coup on our hands in America." For a New York Mag profile, click here.

Watters is the next generation of cablegogue. He's an irony-swilling version of his more bombastic mentor, Bill O'Reilly. He's a fellow who never knows what he's talking about, but is always fully prepared to advance each talking point.

The slippery, insinuative Watters is the next generation of cablegogue. The past generation of cablegogue has also been active of late in the person of Judge Jeannine Pirro.

Where Watters traffics in irony, Pirro simply screeches and rails. “There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and Department of Justice," the former judge has recently shouted. “It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired, but who need to be taken out in handcuffs.”

Pirro has been ridiculous forever. Lately, she's been worse. For a TPM profile, click here.

If Watters represents Cablegogue Future, Pirro represents the realities of Cablegogue Present and Past. And uh-oh:

According to our scientific consultants, members of Homo sapiens are routinely unable to see that they're being played by such people.

("Think back to the music man, with all those trombones," one anthropologist said.)

At times of tribal war, we "humans" are wired to align with a tribe and believe what we're told by its sachems. This wiring even exists within our own liberal tribe, these scientists hotly insist.

Simply put, it's who and what we humans are. Or so these savants tell us.

Are we liberals really inclined to play these tribal games? When our analysts push back at these scientists, the scholars respond by lecturing them about the "weaponization of virtue."

What in the world can that crazy term mean? Over the weekend, the scientists answered that question with a question of their own.

"What did you think about the recent reports on Flint?" the anthropologists asked our high-spirited analysts.

Angrily, the analysts said that they'd see no such recent reports. "Exactly!" the scientists said. Nor will they see any liberal discussion of the New York Times' recent, highly peculiar report about rising test scores in Chicago, these anthropologists smugly predicted.

"The fact is, liberals don't care about people in Flint, or about kids in Chicago," these all-knowing nabobs averred. Past caterwauling about Flint was partisan posturing, they insist. There was never any real attempt to develop information, they say, and the topic has now disappeared!

Regarding kids in Chicago, these scientists made their most outrageous statements yet. In the formulation detailed below, they comparing our liberal instincts to those of The Others.

"Liberals often say that The Others only care about children before they're born," these scientists have puckishly told us. "But Over Here, inside liberal tents, we don't care about black kids in Chicago unless they've been shot and killed!"

The analysts screamed at this crazy assessment. Later, we're going to take them aside and ever-so-gently help them see how right the scientists are.

Full disclosure:

At the start of the year, we plan to do a series of reports about the peculiar assessments described in that Times report about Chicago's schools. But trust us—except for Kevin Drum, you'll see no one in Liberal Land discuss this topic. Not even Professor Miles!

You definitely won't see this topic discussed on "cable news." Manifestly, the grinning stars of "cable news" flat-out do not care.

Manifestly, we liberals don't care—and Drum completely bought the peculiar hypotheses reported by the Times. In our liberal/progressive world, black kids don't matter until they get shot. Then, we start inventing and disappearing facts as we weaponize our alleged virtue.

"Among Homo sapiens, this is simply the way it works," these gloomy scientists have told us. "This is the way our species is wired. In the end, this is largely who and what we are."

Our analysts thought these claims were nuts. Then, they read the hot new story, Cat Person.

Unlike Jesus, they didn't weep. But we'll admit they came close.

Tomorrow: Cat Person speaks

The GOP tax plan's "working-class roots!"


Deference to propaganda at the Washington Post:
We've encountered some excellent work in the past twenty-four hours.

On last night's Hardball,
Joy Reid did an excellent job listing the particulars of Donald J. Trump's apparent authoritarianism.

(For ourselves, we know of no reason to assume that Trump won't achieve a successful putsch, given the way the nation has been tribalized, in large part on our own liberal team's watch.)

Reid didn't labor alone. In this morning's New York Times, Shanita Hubbard offers a superbly sane-and-balanced account of growing up female in (New York City's) public housing, sexual harassment-wise. We rarely see such analytical humanity and sanity.

We'd also recommend this:

In his weekly post for New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan offers a fascinating account of the role testosterone plays in our lives. We can't evaluate Sullivan's science, but he opens the door toward a fuller discussion of the stories of harassment and assault which are suddenly being told, after eons of silence.

We recommend all that work! We'd balance it against Rachel Maddow's groaning account, last Monday night, of the state of the chase after Vice President Pence; with her incompetent account of the Alabama Senate results, offered two nights later; and with the front-page report on the GOP tax plan in today's Washington Post.

We hope to discuss Maddow's presentations next week. Especially given her branding as our most brilliant progressive voice, her program's gross incompetence only becomes more and more striking.

For today, though, let's ponder that front-page report in the Washington Post, in which we're absurdly told that the current GOP tax proposal evolved from an initial proposal which featured "working-class roots."

Where do they get these people? The Post report carries the bylines of four different reporters. A fifth reporter "contributed." Presumably, an editor was involved.

With that many cooks preparing the broth, did no one recoil from the sheer absurdity of this ridiculous passage?
PAIETTA ET AL (12/16/17): Many of the changes made late in the negotiations would benefit businesses and the wealthy, but Rubio’s last-minute demands pulled the package back a bit more toward its working-class roots.
Rubio's intervention pulled the bill "back...toward its working-class roots?" Except as a nod to GOP propaganda, that is, of course, an utterly foolish remark.

Except within the realm of GOP propaganda, this proposal never had any significant "working-class roots." Earlier in their report, the scribes had suggested something different through this muddle-mouthed overview:
PAIETTA: The bill was originally pitched as a sweeping tax cut for the middle class, but it changed over the course of several months as Republicans demanded a variety of alterations.
Please note the muddle there! As they start, the scribes only say that the bill was "pitched"—that is, was peddled or pimped—"as a sweeping tax cut for the rich." But then, when they say it was "changed" from its original form, they make it sound like that "original pitch" was an accurate account of the bill before it was changed.

That was the scribes' original overview of the tax proposal. Later, they made their absurd reference to the way the bill has recently been pulled back "toward its working-class roots."

How absurd is that representation? As they continued from there, the reporters described some of the various ways the bill has been altered of late. In this, their fuller passage, note the elements which existed in the original bill:
PAIETTA ET AL (12/16/17): Many of the changes made late in the negotiations would benefit businesses and the wealthy, but Rubio’s last-minute demands pulled the package back a bit more toward its working-class roots.

Republicans had proposed to expand the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, but the benefits formula they’d planned to use would have capped it for many low- and moderate-income families at $1,100.


Many of the changes to the tax code that Republicans initially sought were dialed back or removed.

They had proposed allowing multinational companies to bring cash held overseas back to the United States at a 12 percent tax rate, but they raised the rate to 15.5 percent in the final agreement as a way to generate more revenue.

They opted against imposing taxes that would have hit graduate students, and they did not strip away tax benefits for families who adopt children.

They had proposed to eliminate the estate tax and the alternative-minimum tax for individuals,
but those changes proved too costly, and the final plan would exempt more families from these taxes but not get rid of them.
To what extent did this bill have "working-class roots?" To what extent were "the changes Republicans initially sought" aimed at us lumpen and proles?

To this extent: The GOP had initially proposed taxing graduate students! They'd also proposed "strip[ping] away tax benefits for families who adopt children."

Initially, they proposed eliminating the estate tax altogether, and also the AMT! They'd proposed a 12 percent tax rate for multinationals bringing money back into the country.

And not only that! They were so fixated on helping the working man or woman that their proposal would have expanded the child care tax credit by only $100 for many low- and moderate-income families, while wealthier families got more. Plainly, their initial bill had been a working-class dream!

Citizens, please! Whatever you think of the final proposal, the GOP never proposed "a sweeping tax cut for the middle class." The original bill's "working-class roots" were non-existent, except within the realm of disingenuous GOP sales pitches—that is to say, within the realm of propaganda.

Except within that familiar realm, this plan was always aimed at the rich—but so what? This morning, five reporters and an editor couldn't stop themselves from borrowing from that propaganda as they muddied their account of this multivariate plan.

Originally, the plan was so heavily aimed at the working class that it aimed to eliminate the estate tax altogether! This is the logic which prevails when mainstream, upper-end reporters feel the need to bow to GOP propaganda.

Their initial overview passage was skillfully muddled; their later passage was a ridiculous sham. So it goes when mainstream reporters feel the need to give power its due.

We want you to see what Rachel said about the Russia probe last Monday night. We want you to see her technical bungling in Wednesday night's report.

We think liberals need to see how bad the work tends to be on that show. That said, we thought this morning's front-page report deserved to be given preference.

In a classic knee-jerk reaction, propaganda was given wide berth in today's report. That said, budget matters have been presented this way for decades now. This helps explain why our tax code is a joke; why our health care spending is characterized by looting on a remarkable scale.

Five reporters and an editor couldn't help themselves! Anthropologists say this may be the best our limited species can do.