BREAKING: Monumental attacks of The Dumb!


The Dumb which devoured the press:
Again and again and again and again, we think of what we've learned from Kevin Drum's work on lead exposure.

Until recent years, exposure was very high. Does that explain the amazing modern extent of The Dumb? Or does the remarkable sweep of The Dumb result from other causes?

We don't know how to answer your question, but in the last day or so, we'd say The Dumb has been everywhere. So we won't have to start with you-know-who, we'll start with a rather cruel, and weirdly unintelligent, Jonathan Chait:
CHAIT (1/16/18): It has been publicly known since last year that Trump cannot read a memo longer than a page, and any written material must be in bullet-point form. Trump himself admitted (or bragged) a year and a half ago that he does not read. “I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.” By this point it is simply taken as a matter of course that people wishing to communicate with the president must treat him as though he is suffering a severe mental impairment.

Trump is not actually suffering a severe mental impairment.
White House doctor Ronny Jackson, who has served in the post since 2013, informed reporters on Wednesday that the president is in fine physical and mental health. The report comes as the national media has discussed whether Trump’s functional near-illiteracy, minuscule attention span, and narcissistic pathos are the symptoms of dementia or some other kind of cognitive incapacitation. We should take Jackson’s diagnosis at face value. Trump is just an idiot.
Jackson didn't test Donald J. Trump for possible dyslexia. Is it possible that Trump is dyslexic, like so many others before him? Is it possible that he always has been, back to his childhood days?

It certainly seems possible to us, and being dyslexic doesn't make you "an idiot." Especially for someone who likes to spout about schools, we think this post by Chait represents a major attack of The Dumb, and of the weirdly unkind concerning a widespread condition.

With that, let's move to you know who. Last night, she opened her TV show in this peculiar manner:
MADDOW (1/17/18): And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.

It is now officially 51 hours until the federal government shuts down. The Republican Party controls the House and the Senate and the White House, so it is a little hard to believe that they, amongst themselves cannot come up with a way to keep the lights on, but not for the first time in the past year.

We are once again on the brink of the shutdown of the federal government, because, even though they mathematically don't need a single vote from a single Democrat to do it, Republicans appear to, at least at this point, they appear to not be able to agree amongst themselves on a plan to keep the government funded past Friday, again. So we are on the brink of that again.

In weirder news...
Republicans don't need a single vote from a single Democrat? Where on earth did Our Own Rhodes Scholar, along with her twenty-member staff, come up with a groaner like that?

When the press corps' Rhodes scholars function that way, The Dumb is devouring cable. Later today, we'll show you where Maddow went from there last night. We'll try to include her three (3) bizarre reports, starting last Friday night, about Dr. Jackson's misspelled first name and the possibility that his initial report about Trump's exam had been forged.

There was never any reason to think that Jackson's report had been forged. Seriously, how dumb does a person have to be to issue three such reports? And as with Trump, so too here:

Is there no one on her staff who's able to "talk her down?"

Of course, you haven't begun to encounter The Dumb until you open the Times. In a manner reminiscent of Chait, the headline on Gail Collins' new column says this:

"Donald Trump Gets His Sanity Grades"

In theory, Collins writes her own headlines. Surely, even she must know that none of the tests given to Trump were designed to test his "sanity." At this point, within this guild, does any distinction apply?

We've asked before how Linda Qiu can possibly be the official fact-checker for the nation's most famous newspaper. Qiu had a very strong premise today. We thought she butchered that very strong premise in an array of ways.

Most striking, though, was the headline atop Qiu's hard-copy report, which accused someone of "lying." After reading Qiu's report, we still weren't sure who the headline writer had in mind.

(Hard-copy headline: "Distorting Poll's Data, Then Lying About It.")

Qiu made no claim, in her report, that anyone had "lied." At one point, she referred to a "downright false" statement by Donald J. Trump. The editor who wrote the headline may have thought that such a statement has to be a "lie."

The New York Times works on that level. Do you read the daily hard-copy page A3?

There's much, much more all over the Times, but let's close with a second trip to last evening's cable. We refer to the discussion between Brian Williams and John Harris concerning the Clinton impeachment, which both men still seem to enjoy discussing.

For whatever reason, no transcripts are produced for Williams' 11 PM program. We don't intend to produce a full transcript for last night's exchange. Instead, we'll leave it at this:

Harris complained that voters disregarded "the facts" about the Lewinsky matter during the year of impeachment. He said "a clear majority of the people" had instead succumbed to this line of thought:

"Facts matter less than which side you are on."

Amazingly, it didn't seem to enter his head that the basic facts of a case don't, and can't, tell a person how to assess or judge those facts. For the record, Harris seems to have missed very few meals. This is surely part of the problem at the top of the press corps pile, where he now resides.

That said, Harris' formulation was just amazingly dumb. He seemed to think that knowing the facts about that affair determined how an honest person had to assess the situation. Is there any part of these post-humans' brains which The Dumb hasn't swallowed by now?

Western culture has been built upon the idea that we're the "rational animal." Meanwhile, our human wiring tells us to respect authority figures, like the people we see on TV.

That formulation by Harris was just amazingly dumb—but this is truly all we are. We advise you to adopt this framework as you look out at the world.

Beyond the valley of the dumb: In her column, Collins moved Beyond the Valley of the Dumb to The Land of the Deeply Gratuitous. We thought this particular zinger was truly rank:
COLLINS: “Amazing report, cognitive & otherwise,” cheered Donald Trump Jr. Have we ever before had a First Child rallying the troops around the president passing a mental test? We will refrain from saying anything mean about Junior because, after all, he was the one who grew up in a home where he broke his leg due to an inattentive babysitter and found his nanny dying in the basement.
She'll refrain from saying anything mean! Collins is endlessly clever!

At any rate, we have no idea what Collins is talking about in that passage, and she provides no link. That said, we thought that gratuitous passage truly took her to The Realm of the Ugly and Rank.

Does some such terrible childhood event help explain Trump Junior? If so, we feel sorry for him. That said, what explains the way Lady Collins turned out?

Later: Rachel Maddow discusses herself, then plays tape of her favorite anchor from the previous night


  1. The cognitive assessment that Trump took during his physical does not show he isn't mentally ill, only that he doesn't have advanced dementia (the assessment may not be able to show if someone is in the early stages of dementia). Getting a perfect score on the assessment is nothing to crow about. Alternatively, it is also easy to cheat on the exam, since the questions on it are widely available on the internet.

  2. I don't know if ad hominem hurts or helps or hurts but it, is certainly the order of the day here, and with more sadness than, of course, rancor, it is impossible to escape, the fact, Bob Somerby's is an idiot.

  3. "Does some such terrible childhood event help explain Trump Junior?"

    According to Trump he was an incorrigible child who was sent by his father to boarding school to straighten him out. There's no reason to think he is dyslexic. He probably lacks the ability to comfortably focus to read more than a page, believes any problem can be summarized in one page, and thinks he can rely on instincts from there. His history shows this mode works for him so he has no reason to change it or accept criticism.

    1. "His history shows this mode works for him so he has no reason to change it or accept criticism."

      White privilege?
      Never heard of it.

    2. My white privilege allowed me to be required to score 31% higher on testing for grad school than someone whose skin was a different color.

    3. Were you accepted? It's a little hard to tell.

    4. Mine allows me to use the "stand your ground" defense when i shoot a minority.

  4. Lighten up, Bob; you're not supposed to get angry at clowns.

    Liberal 'thought leaders' grimacing, squirming, and squealing can only mean one thing: they are desperate, their end is near. Hallelujah.

  5. Vladimir Vladimirovich has sent a ship to evaluate Mr Trump's defense mechanisms.

    Vladimir Vladimirovich and Mr Trump may decide to expose each other to lead, or even to plutonium. There could be collateral damage.

  6. Here is my vision of what internet blogs could be:

  7. CHAIT wrote "It has been publicly known since last year..."

    This phrase translates into "I have no evidence that..."

    1. "This phrase translates into "I have no evidence that...""

      Can you spell out Hillary's "corruption" for us?

  8. 2:04 -- Requiring proposals to be summarized into 1 page is a standard management technique. Here are links explaining it.

    Chait criticizes Trump for using an advanced management technique simply because Chait is ignorant of that technique.

    According to Scott Adams, this is typical. Adams asserts that Trump has mastered methods of effective persuasion, that his critics bemoan because they don't understand these techniques.

    1. "Trump for using an advanced management technique..."

      I understand it. I also understand his 4+ decade management technique of stiffing his contractors. Simpleton Liberals still don't get that business is corrupt at it's core.

    2. If it wasn't corrupt at it's core, the business community would have thrown Trump out on his ass years ago. Instead they have his back. What does that tell you, Liberals? Wake up.

    3. "..advanced management technique...

      That's a funny way of describing watching Fox and Friends and believing every piece of bullshit they say.

    4. Denying the reality of Trump's effectiveness looks like a form of mental disorder. The man found a way to make his assets work for him so effectively that he is a billionaire and the most powerful man in the world. Now comes the reality of his effectiveness in bringing economic results not seen in decades. The intellectuals predicted unprecedented economic doom the day after his election. Closed minds always miss the obvious.

    5. The man found a way to go bankrupt 6 different times while getting sued for failure to uphold his word over 2500 times. He is a phony and a fraud and would be unable to stand in front of the press and hold a real press conference. He was embarrassed and exposed in his little show meeting little more than a week ago.

    6. "The man found a way to make his assets work for him so effectively that he is a billionaire and the most powerful man in the world."

      Not to mention Trump setting a record with 18 straight hole-in ones on a professional golf course. LOL.

    7. "...he is a billionaire and the most powerful man in the world."

      Someone call the Guiness Book of World Records. 1;29 PM is staking his claim for "Most Gullible".

  9. What caused that Durham school to be so good? Was it an accident? Did local leaders have anything to do with it? Were those leaders progressive or liberal? Conservative? A mixture? Was it a concerted pragmatic effort? If it wasn't an accident, will a similar effort work in Detroit, or is that school system too different? We know, Bob, that liberals won't discuss this, nor do they care...except you call yourself a liberal, so how about some in depth research? Did you quiz the school officials in Durham about their success? Do their students perform well on those NAEP tests? Are there achievement gaps? Get to work, and just drop the "nobody cares about this" line. I'm having trouble caring about your presentation because of it.

  10. Trump's managerial style is nonsensical, lackadasical, and ineffectual, as such he is the least effective president in modern history, the least popular as well. Trump is a national embarrassment.

    Appeal to authority is a fallacy and indicates cognitive biases at best.

  11. Kevin Drum is busy asking the guys who comment at his site to construct a hierarchy of sexual offenses based on their ratings of the seriousness of each publicized incident.

    I suppose that if the men don't consider these things serious, that's it then. Case closed.

    He has a new survey tool that he is using like a toy and women's sexual abuse complaints seem like a good topic to play with. Why not?

    How did he get to be so clueless?

  12. Collins' column makes her look like an airhead. When the Times publishes a column this disjointed that was written by a woman, it delivers a message that women are less well equipped to deal seriously with major issues.

    Thousands of women write excellent, well-reasoned columns about important issues. I wish the Times would give space to these women.

    1. The NYT is too busy trying to find a Trump voter who isn't turned on by Trump's bigotry. Alas, more NYT failures.