BREAKING: Refresher course on Clinton's emails!


Our TV stars gamboled and played:
Jared Kushner can't seem to get a "top secret" security clearance.

According to the Washington Post, his interim security clearance "was downgraded last week from the top-secret to the secret level, which should restrict the regular access he has had to highly classified information."

Kevin Drum offered the comment shown below. It made us think of a disastrous, highly typical matter from the not-too-distant past:
DRUM (2/27/18): “Secret”? Not even “Top Secret?” Seriously? Nothing of any real consequence is classified Secret. Kushner has been put in about the same category as a sixth grader, and for good reason...
"Nothing of any real consequence is classified Secret." Last night, Anderson Cooper made a somewhat similar comment:
COOPER (2/27/18): Let me point out, a top secret security clearance is not that big a security clearance. I mean there's code word security clearances which are much higher than that. You know, just about everybody gets a top secret security clearance.


You should be able to get it. A college student in college who applies to the CIA gets a top secret security clearance when you're working a summer job there. I can guarantee you that. And it's—that, you know, that takes a couple of months.
We don't know if Cooper knows whereof he speaks. We also don't know if security clearances for individuals correspond to the levels of classification which get placed on particular pieces of information—that is, if a "secret" security level only allows you to look at information which is classified as "secret."

We aren't real expert on this, but, in part, that's the point. Drum's statement made us think of Fred Kaplan's report at Slate in July 2016, right after Comey the God delivered his first divine attack on the hideous Candidate Clinton.

Comey the God had ranted and railed about the candidate's "extremely careless" handling of classified material. The very next day, Kaplan rolled his eyes at the magnificent god's mighty pique.

The headline on Kaplan's piece said this: "The Hillary Clinton Email Scandal Was Totally Overblown." Here's what Kaplan said about the classified material in the vilified candidate's emails:
KAPLAN (7/6/16): Let’s review the numbers.

Examining the 30,000 emails that Clinton turned over, the FBI agents found 110—the back and forth of 52 email chains—that contained classified information. Of these, just eight [email chains] had material that she should have known was “top secret”; 36 of them had “secret” information; and eight more had stuff that she should have been known was “confidential.”

The agents also scrounged through the bits and pieces of 30,000 more emails that she didn’t turn over and found three—three!—that contained classified information: one secret and two confidential.
Acording to Kaplan, out of 60,000 emails, the FBI found a tiny amount of material which was actually "top secret." Even that material was pure piddle, Kaplan said, as we'll show you below.

First, though, Kaplan recalled his own experience as a young secret agent man. It was much as Cooper said:
KAPLAN: As anyone who’s ever had a security clearance will tell you, the labels secret and confidential mean next to nothing. When I worked on Capitol Hill in the late 1970s, the government gave me a secret clearance on my first day of work, pending the investigation into my worthiness to hold a top secret badge. As far as anyone knew, I might have been a Soviet spy, carting out confidential and secret documents every night and making copies for my handler. But they also knew the risk was low because there was nothing in those documents that the Soviets would have paid a dime for. The same is true of our various adversaries and stuff marked secret today.
Hey, that's what Cooper said! But what about the small amount of "top secret" material in Clinton's emails? Kaplan said this about that:
KAPLAN (continuing directly): Top secret information is another matter, but the stuff that showed up in Clinton’s private email wasn’t so special. Seven of the eight email chains dealt with CIA drone strikes, which are classified top secret/special access program—unlike Defense Department drone strikes, which are unclassified. The difference is that CIA drones hit targets in countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, where we are not officially at war; they are part of covert operations. (Defense Department drone strikes are in places where we are officially at war.) But these operations are covert mainly to provide cover for the Pakistani and Yemeni governments, so they don’t have to admit they’re cooperating with America. Everyone in the world knows about these strikes; nongovernment organizations, such as New America, tabulate them; newspapers around the world—including the New York Times, where some of the same reporters are now writing so breathlessly about Clinton’s careless handling of classified information—cover these strikes routinely.

The other top secret email chain described a conversation with the president of Malawi. Conversations with foreign leaders are inherently classified.
The president of Malawi! Carelessly, Clinton had let something slip about him!

In short, even the small amount of "top secret" material was "top secret" in form only. According to Kaplan, the whole affair was complete and total absolute bullroar—bullroar all the way down.

Why do we recall this today? To help you remember how our lazy, feckless "career liberal journalists" helped Donald J. Trump reach the White House.

Kaplan is a serious, experienced specialist. In his analysis, he said the claim that Clinton had jeopardized "top secret" material was basically total bunk.

That was an important claim. But you never saw Fred Kaplan on your favorite cable entertainment program. Rachel kept propping Steve Kornacki before "the big board," where he'd do his carnival barker act, telling us how far ahead Candidate Clinton was.

The silly children gamboled and played. The lunatic candidate won. Astoundingly, Rachel never mentioned Comey at all until quite deep in the fall. In those days, cautious insider career corporate players didn't challenge the greatness of this particular insider god.

(On the brighter side, Rachel's incessant mugging and clowning helped us adepts learn to adore her more fully.)

Don't misunderstand! If Clinton had ended up in the White House, there would be total chaos today. She'd have been impeached a thousand times. Every imaginable pseudoscandal would have been rolled out by now.

That said, the failure to pursue what Kaplan said stands out from the year of entertainment our favorite cable stars gave us. The furor about the "top secret" emails was roughly the ten millionth pseudoscandal in twenty-five years of pseudoscandals aimed at Clinton, Clinton and Gore, as two generations of "career liberal journalists" refused to challenge what was being done, often by the major news orgs which largely define their careers.

Your Darling Rachel never mentioned Comey the God all through the summer and fall of 2016 until quite late in October. Four years before, she had refused to defend Susan Rice as the Benghazi pseudoscandal was being invented and was hardening, turning to solid stone.

These terrible, horrible corporate players have helped spread death across the globe. Their predecessors savaged Candidate Gore from March 1999 right through November 2000. Four cycles later, a new generation gamboled and played from 2014 on as the Washington Post and the New York Times revived their 25-year-old jihad against both Clintons and Gore.

The same old storylines got dragged out again. They produced a second disaster.

As all this bullroar rained down, Fred Kaplan never got interviewed! A great god's name was never mentioned. Are we happy with how that turned out?

Back to the board: Eight days ago, Brian Williams revived the shtick:
WILLIAMS (2/20/18): Coming up after a break, Steve Kornacki is among our guests tonight. He's going to be at the big board with new numbers on how we all feel about guns and gun safety reforms in the wake especially of this high school shooting in Florida. The 11th Hour, back after this.
Sure enough! There was Kornacki in his standard uniform, sleeves rolled up, hunched over from the waist, talking extremely fast.

Just a good solid guess. Kornacki is dressing and performing as his bosses have told him he must. They ran it before some focus groups, and this is what the people liked.

So with Maddow's constant forced laughter, which arrived fairly late in the game. Do you really think it's real? Do you think Kornacki invented that shtick? Or was it focus grouped?

BROKEN: Can you understand what you read in the Times?


Nate Cohn strikes again:
Another day, another hours-long struggle with a Nate Cohn "Upshot" piece!

To review yesterday's struggle, click here.
Seriously, can anyone paraphrase Cohn's heavily jargonized prose?

We were able to glean one clear (and surprising) factual claim from this morning's report. Here it is, in our own words, as we understand it:
According to Cohn, 45 percent of the voters in the November 2016 election were "whites without a college degree." But the official exit poll, conducted by Edison, mistakenly reported the figure as 34 percent.
That's a very large difference. We can't say if Cohn's claim is true or false. Nor do we feel sure we could paraphrase anything else he wrote.

As was true yesterday, so too today. Cohn's piece seemed to be written in highly jargonized prose. Consider this passage, which follows his claim about the large exit poll error:
COHN (2/28/18): How could the exit poll be off by so much? In fact, most polls are represented by too many well-educated respondents; most high-quality surveys weight their samples to adequately represent less educated voters. But the exit polls aren’t weighted by education, and so they start and end with far too many well-educated voters. (The exit polls are weighted only by demographic characteristics that the exit poll interviewer can visually identify, like gender, whether someone is African-American, and a rough guess of age; they can’t guess education.)
"Most polls are represented by too many well-educated respondents?" That lingo strikes us as odd.

How can a poll be "represented by" a group of respondents? Does that highlighted statement maybe mean something like this?
In fact, most polls sample, or interview, too many well-educated respondents.

(Perhaps because "better-educated" people are more likely to respond to a poll, while less-educated people are more likely to refuse participation?)
Is that what that clumsy locution meant? That would be our assumption, but as Cohn continues, we find ourselves even more bollixed:
COHN (continuing directly): This winds up biasing the rest of the survey because the exit polls are weighted to match the actual result of a far less educated country. In general, the exit polls underestimate Republican support, probably in no small part because they overrepresent young, nonwhite and well-educated voters. But this process leaves the underlying educational bias of the sample intact, and the result is that Republican-leaning voters are given more weight to compensate for an electorate that represents Democratic-leaning voting groups.
Do you feel sure you know what's been said? The terms "biasing" and "weighted" add a bit of instant fuzz to the brew, and then we encounter this:
"In general, the exit polls underestimate Republican support, probably in no small part because they overrepresent young, nonwhite and well-educated voters."
In general, the exit polls "underestimate Republican support?" They underestimate Republican support for whom? Every time you think you know what he's saying, he throws in a puzzler like that.

Staff at Starbucks have started to worry as they watch us struggle with Cohn each morning. We'll ask the same question we asked yesterday:

Cohn is discussing significant topics. Does anyone edit his work?

Another confounding problem: We read Cohn's piece this very morning in our hard-copy Times, right there on A17.

Online, in the Today's Paper listing, Cohn's report doesn't appear!

HIDE BEHIND THE CHILDREN WELL: A second Yale graduate types the tale!


Part 3—What Loesch actually said:
As several people have said, we live in an increasingly polarized, partisan time.

With the rise of talk radio, "cable news" and the Internet, partisan polarization became a very big business. The dimwitted claims upon which it's based are shoved at us every minute.

We liberals are very skilled at spotting the dumbness Over There—and yes, it exists in abundance.

We're much less skilled at spotting the dumbness among our own. For one recent example, consider what Henry Grabar said.

Grabar is five years out of college (Yale 2012). As such, he's rather young. Like his older colleague, Dahlia Lithwick, he's educationally elite, as these things are measured.

Grabar shares the old school tie with Lithwick. Like her, he works for Slate. In that sense, he's also part of our journalistic elite.

Like Lithwick, Grabar fawned about the Parkland kids in the wake of last Wednesday's CNN town hall event. Overnight, the pleasing novel had written itself. The headlines on Grabar's piece said this:
The Teens at CNN’s Gun Town Hall Had Questions Grown-Ups Forgot How to Ask
FEB 22, 2018—2:09 AM
It certainly was the Slatest! As Lithwick would do that very same day, Grabar was saying that the kids are wiser are sharper than their elders are.

"[T]he Parkland kids don’t share the older liberal generation’s defeatism on gun control," Grabar admiringly said at one point. Four days later, this Monday morning, his upbeat piece was still being headlined on Slate's front page.

Are the Parkland kids really wiser and sharper than the older liberal generation? We're not sure, but Grabar was setting the bar quite low. Later that day, Lithwick, who's almost 50 (she's Yale 1990), explicitly said that the Parkland kids were sharper than her own failed cohort has been.

There's litlle doubt that Lithwick was right about that. But that's because her elite cohort has been such a monumental corrupted bust, not because it's decent or wise to expect a bunch of teen-aged children to lead us.

Lithwick's cohort has run and hid every step of the way from the increasingly crazy behavior of the upper-end mainstream press corps, preserving their interests and their careers in the face of every challenge. Grabar is much younger, but he was presenting the pleasing new novel too.

Those Parkland kids were just so great! Early on, Grabar described some of the genuine craziness Over There, even as he sketched the outlines of our own tribe's new novel:
GRABAR (2/22/18): Partly an intergenerational gun-policy debate, and partly a memorial service, the town hall was compelling television because simple questions kept overpowering evasive, technical answers. Over the last few days the public has been struck by the wherewithal of the Parkland students—their eloquence in the wake of tragedy, their good nature in the face of right-wing smear campaigns, their courage in confronting politicians and journalists on national television. Their efforts have been so extraordinary that some right-wing doubters assumed they were on the Soros payroll...
Some "right-wing doubters" may have believed that ludicrous claim. Presumably, some right-wing lunatics and crackpots simply chose to say it.

That craziness came from Over There. That said, our own mandated tribal dumbness in one instance looked like this:
GRABAR: Perhaps the most moving contrast of the night was seeing Emma Gonzalez—whose angry speech at a rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday captivated the nation—confront the slick NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. Her question, like the other two, was not a point of policy but of right and wrong: Do you believe it should be harder to obtain semiautomatic weapons and modifying devices like bump stocks? Loesch’s answer was the first of several disingenuous deflections and attacks she made over the course of the evening. After a while, Gonzalez interrupted to remind her what the question was.
On balance, Dana Loesch is, indeed, a "slick NRA spokesperson." In truth, it gets substantially worse than that.

The very next day, speaking at the CPAC convention, Loesch unloosed the kind of disingenuous tribal attack that is designed to fire the crazies and the rubes and keep the nation divided. "Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it," the profoundly disingenuous NRA con woman said.

Dana Loesch aggressively serves the cabal. That said, our own team is amazingly foolish too. We've proved this in the past thirty years by our inability to see through the rank corruption which has permeated the conduct of Lithwick's self-dealing class. We prove it again when we fall in line behind silly, tribally pleasing novels like the one Grabar typed.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at what Gonzalez said in the exchange which Grabar praises. Grabar was willingto tell a tale in which he saw a brilliant young warrior at work, achildwho was ready to lead us.

Over here in Reality Town, we saw a 17-year-old high school student who was fighting a battle her elders should fight and who was, as an obvious matter of fact, already way over her head, struggling just to hang on.

Tomorrow, we'll look at what that misused high school student actually did and said in her full exchange with Loesch. For today, let's consider the silly way Grabar described Loesch's answer to the question Gonzalez posed.

People, it was tribally great! According to Grabar, our brilliant child had asked a wonderfully simple question. Their harridan had produced a "disingenuous deflection" and perhaps an "attack" in reply.

It's a woderful novel, but is that what actually happened? Here is the question Gonzalez asked, and the bulk of Loesch's reply:
GONZALEZ (2/21/18): The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally. Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic and—weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic, like bump stocks?

LOESCH: [fawning praise for Gonzalez's activism]

Now I want to answer your question. And, I want to be allowed the opportunity, which is why I am here—to talk and have this discussion with you all and answer these questions. This is why I came down here.

I don't believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm, ever. I do not think that he should have gotten his hands on any kind of weapon. That's number one. This individual was nuts and I, nor the millions of people that I represent as a part of this organization, that I'm here speaking for, none of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm.

And we have been, for over 20 years, and I have been screaming about this, which is why I'm here,
because I have kids and I'm not just fighting for my kids, I'm fighting for you, I'm fighting for you, I'm fighting for all of you.

Because I don't want anyone to ever be in this position again. I want everyone to think about this for one second, this goes right into your question: Do you know that it is not federally required for states to actually report people who are prohibited possessors, crazy people, people who are murderers?

No, we've been actually talking about that for a long time. Let me answer the question. Let me answer the question. You can shout me down when I'm finished, but let me answer Emma's question.
Which part of yes doesn't Grabar understand? Between the catcalls and the shouting from the morally brilliant children who shall lead us, Loesch answered Gonzalez by saying yes—yes, she and the NRA advocate making it "harder to obtain the semi-automatic weapons."

In fact, she advocates making it impossible for people like the Parkland shooter to obtain such weapons. Fighting through the morally brilliant liberal catcalls, she tried to explain one state of affairs which makes it harder to deny such weapons to people like Nikolas Cruz.

For ourselves, we wouldn't use terms like "insame monster," "crazy people" or "nuts" to describe people like the teen-aged Parkland shooter. We'd be inclined to describe people like Nikolas Cruz as "deeply disturbed," and to suggest that such disturbed people badly need society's intervention and help, before they do something like this.

That said, we also wouldn't be inclined to describe Loesch's answer to that question as a disingenuous deflection or as an attack. We certainly wouldn't do so without quoting what she actually said, then explaining why her statement was supposed to be so horrific.

Grabar gave a nearly-precise account of Gonzalez's question. He made no attempt to quote or report what Loesch said in reply.

Instead, he told us what we long to hear—he told us the demon had struck. This is the way the liberal world gets dumbed down in this newer era.

(It follows the era in which people like Lithwick smiled and made nice while the big mainstream orgs which direct their careers made war on various Democrats, sending Bush, and then Trump, to the White House.)

The students in Parkland are suffering nightmares, we were told in Sunday's Times. Elsewhere, we get the silly novelized tale in which the children shall lead us.

Atop the front page of this morning's Times, we see a photograph of two other children, this time in Syria, who will likely suffer trauma due to their exposure to flat-out poison gas war. They seem to be perhaps six years old. The photo doesn't appear online.

They join traumatized children all over the region, children whose traumas stem from the way Lithwick's generation politely averted their gaze as the New York Times and the Washington Post conducted their appalling wars against Clinton, Clinton and Gore.

That's how Bush got to start his war. Politely, Lithwick's cohort looked away, saying nothing, as the press corps' "war against Gore" sent George W. Bush to the White House.

Many kids have been traumatized as a result of that gruesome conduct. Even today, the press corps' past conduct cannot be described or discussed, even though the same war, conducted against Hillary Clinton, put Trump where he is.

It's highly unlikely that high school students will be able to solve the deep problem which results when our elite institutions, places like Yale, churn out tribunes like Lithwick and Grabar. Stating the obvious, onkly deeply uncaring people would hand teenagers that task.

Tomorrow, we'll look at what Gonzalez said during her fuller exchange with Loesch. Romanticizing the children well, Lithwick and Grabar pleasingly said she was brilliant.

We saw something different that night. We saw a badly struggling teen, her elders hiding behind her.

Tomorrow: Ignore the floundering well

BREAKING: Tara Westover captures the press corps!


Does so in Guardian interview:
Tara Westover's widely-praised memoir is called Educated. For her recent interview on After Words, you can just click here.

In an earlier interview with The Guardian,
Westover captured the essence of the modern career liberal elite/mainstream press corps:

"In families like mine there is no crime worse than telling the truth."

BREAKING: An announcement concerning Morning Joe!


Somebody said calm down:
On this, the seventh broadcast day, we feel we could make the announcement.

Someone rather plainly made a decision about Morning Joe. Someone decided the crazy co-hosts had to calm the #$%^&# down.

We noticed the change last Monday morning, and every subsequent day last week. The change has continued this week. Today, they had Willie back!

The ranting and raving have plainly stopped, and dear God, it was long overdue. We don't know whose decision this was, but a change in the weather has plainly occurred, and not a crazed meltdown too soon.

BREAKING: Do you understand what Nate Cohn said?


A culture of incoherence:
We're frequently puzzled by the caliber of the work we find in the New York Times.

This morning, we thought Nate Cohn's analysis piece about gerrymandering was virtually incoherent. Linda Qiu, move it on over!

Cohn's report concerns the current battle about House districts in Pennsylvania. The state's Supreme Court found that the Republican legislature had created districts which were impermisibly gerrymandered. As a result, the court devised a new congressional map, in theory for this fall's elections.

In this morning's report, Cohn was discussing those two districting plans—the original plan, created by the Republican legislature, and the current plan, created by the state Supreme Court. His report before the Upshot brand, meaning it came from the Times' most brainiac region.

Cohn starts by explaining the basis on which the original map was dumped. How do we know that the districts were impermissibly gerrymandered? In his first two grafs, he explains:
COHN (2/27/18): In the view of the majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, “perhaps the most compelling evidence” that Republicans sacrificed traditional redistricting criteria for partisan gain was a political scientist’s simulation of 500 possible congressional maps.

The Republican-drawn map was an extreme outlier compared with the simulations made by Jowei Chen of the University of Michigan, who has provided expert testimony in many redistricting cases. None of the simulations favored Republicans by anywhere near as much as the congressional map enacted in 2011, which gave the Republicans a 13-to-5 advantage. And partly on that basis, the court ruled that the map violated the state’s constitution.
Good grief! Professor Chen created 500 possible districting schemes. None of them favored the GOP as much as the map the Republican legislature adopted!

On that basis, the state Supreme Court threw out the Republican districting scheme. But uh-oh! The new map drawn by the state Supreme Court seems to be almost as bad, or so Cohn seems to say:
COHN (continuing directly): But what about the remedial map recently adopted by the court? It is not an outlier to the same extent as the Republican-drawn map. But if you look at what 2016 statewide results would have been with the new map, the overall Democratic performance arguably would have been better than in all 500 of Mr. Chen’s simulations, according to an Upshot analysis.
Say what? Already, we're somewhat confused. Cohn almost seems to have made a pair of contradictory statements.

First, he says the map adopted by the court is not an outlier to the same extent as the old Republican plan. But then, he almost seems to contradict himself—he says Democrats would arguably do better, with this new map, than they would have done with all of Professor's Chen's 500 possible maps.

It sounds like the new map favor Democrats almost as much as the previous map favored Republicans. We don't know why he says the new map isn't as big an outlier.

Already, we were puzzled. But now, as Cohn continued, it seemed to us that his work became completely incoherent:
COHN (continuing directly): One common measure of a congressional map is to look at the result of the median congressional district in the average statewide election (here, the five contests in 2016). The larger the gap between the median and the average statewide popular vote, the harder it is to win a majority of seats despite winning the popular vote. By that measure, the new map was better for the Democrats than all 500 of Mr. Chen’s simulations.
By now, we had no real idea what Cohn was talking about, and we were only four paragraphs in.

You tell us—do you have any idea how to paraphrase that highlighted statement? Do you have any idea what Cohn is talking about?

We'll admit that we do not. Indeed, we find that highlighted passage to be so opaque that it's difficult even to explain why we're puzzled. Let's start with this:

Cohn says we have to look at "the result of the median congressional district in the average statewide election." Presumably, that means we take a bunch of statewide elections in Pennsylvania and determine which district, on average, ends up in the middle of the partisan pack—midway between pro-Republican and pro-Democratic districts.

So far, pretty much so good. But then, he refers to "the five contests in 2016." They seem to be the "statewide elections" from which we're supposed to determine the median district. But what five statewide elections is he referring to?

What five statewide elections took place in Pennsylvania in 2016? Off the top of our heads, we would have thought there was only one statewide election in Pennsylvania that year—the famous election which took place in November 2016.

To what other statewide elections could Cohn be referring? Is he referring to statewide primary elections? Perhaps to statewide special elections? It's amazing that a writer would introduce so much confusion into a piece where it seems to be so unnecessary. But at this point, four paragraphs in, we were already massively puzzled.

Despite the confusion, we do come away from that paragraph with one basic impression. It sounds like the court's new map massively favors Democrats! By the common measure Cohn has tried to describe, "the new map was better for the Democrats than all 500 of Mr. Chen’s simulations." Once again, it sounds to us like the court's new map favors Democrats to the same extreme degree that the legislature's original map had favored Republicans.

If that's the way this new map works, it sounds like something is rotten in the state's Supreme Court! But Cohn doesn't seem to see how extreme his description sounds, and before too long, we're again reading this:
COHN: The Upshot analysis also helps address a more arcane matter in the debate about the new court-ordered map: why many nonpartisan analysts thought it favored Democrats, even though it seemed to score well—it wasn’t an outlier—by the measure of Mr. Chen’s analysis. The reason is simple: Most nonpartisan analysts have judged the map by today’s electoral landscape, while Mr. Chen’s analysis used elections from 2008 and 2010.
The court-ordered map "wasn't an outlier by the measure of Mr. Chen's analysis?" Haven't we read, several times, that it favored Democrats more than any of Chen's 500 possible maps?

From there, Cohn apparently goes on to try to explain himself, but by now we'd stopped reading. They only let you sit in Starbucks for at most maybe three or four hours. Instead of wrestling with Cohn any ,ore, we spent some time puzzling over the relentless weirdness of the New York Times.

Does Cohn know what he'stalking about? We will assume that he might. Having said that, we will also say this:

As journalism, his piece today is god-awful; his work defies comprehension. Are there any editors at the New York Times at all? Did such people actually think that this work could be parsed by a typical reader?

Last week, in this award-winning post, we marveled at the incompetent work which routinely comes from the pen of the Times' fact-checker, Linda Qiu, who is three years out of college. Today, Cohn's analysis piece is a masterwork of primal scream incoherence.

Meanwhile, on today's "reimagined" page A3, the Times insults its readers' intelligence, as it does every day of the week. Believe it or croak, this appears first on the list of today's "Noteworthy Facts," right at the top of the page (hard-copy editions only):
Of Interest
There are about 400 dog breeds compared with 40 cat breeds.
We sh*t you not! That was this very day's top-listed "Noteworthy Fact!"

The New York Times is the product of a very peculiar subgroup. Anthropologists say their like has rarely been seen on this earth.

Career liberal players won't tell you these things. Dearest darlings, stop and think! It simply isn't done.

HIDE BEHIND THE CHILDREN WELL: Hans Christian Andersen comes to Parkland!


Part 2—Sheriff hides behind Emma well:
In our view, Paul Krugman—our longtime policy MVP—is often quite weak on the politics.

In our view, that's how his new column starts. Without naming names or providing links, Krugman complains again about post-election journalism:

"There have been hundreds if not thousands of stories about grizzled Trump supporters sitting in diners, purportedly showing the out-of-touchness of our cultural elite."

Krugman offers no links to these "stories," which have supposedly misserved us all.

For what it's worth, those Trump supporters are the people whose votes put Trump in the White House. In even a slightly rational world, it wouldn't be a bad idea to understand why they voted the way they did—to understand how they view the world.

That said, we don't live in a rational world. We live in a world run by humans, a species which loves fairy tales.

As he continues, Krugman evokes one very famous fairy tale, though his overall point could be right. We may be entering a time of major political change, Krugman says.

That could be right, and it could be wrong. Here's the way Krugman explains it:
KRUGMAN (2/27/18): Political scientists have a term and a theory for what we’re seeing on #MeToo, guns and perhaps more: “regime change cascades.”

Here’s how it works:
When people see the status quo as immovable, they tend to be passive even if they are themselves dissatisfied. Indeed, they may be unwilling to reveal their discontent, or to fully admit it to themselves. But once they see others visibly taking a stand, they both gain more confidence in their dissent and become more willing to act on it—and by their actions they may induce the same response in others, causing a kind of chain reaction.

Such cascades explain how huge political upheavals can quickly emerge, seemingly out of nowhere.
Is such a "cascade" under way? In perhaps a bit of a buzzkill, Krugman goes all the way back to 1848 to offer three examples of such cascades—and he notes that the cascade of 1848 is commonly said to have failed.

That said, it's possible that the current moment will lead to a "regime change cascade" in which an old order falls. As we read his presentation, we thought about the most famous example of same, from the realm of fairy tale.

Good lord! No cascade took effect more quickly than the one described by Hans Christian Andersen in his famous tale, The Emperor's New Clothes:

No one could see what a fool the emperor was—but then, out of nowhere, a single child shouted it out! In that moment, a perceptual dam gave way. Everyone linked arms with the child. Sanity came to the land.

"And a child shall lead them!" It's a staple of fairy tale, but in real life, this conceptual framework can be childish, dishonest and cruel.

Consider the way a certain sheriff hid behind Emma Gonzalez, age 17, during last week's CNN town hall event, a maelstrom our pseudoliberal journalistic elites all rushed off to praise.

Emma Gonzalez is 17 years old; she's a high school student. However "precocious" she may be, there's no reason why someone so young should be asked to lead a regime change cascade.

There's no reason to think that someone so young could know how to do that. There's no reason to think that someone so young wouldn't be harmed by the imposition of such a burden.

Gonzalez, who is 17, shot to viral national stardom in the first few days after the Parkland mass shooting. That first weekend, she gave a defiant speech in which she said she "was calling BS" on a number of politicians and on their political stands.

In a land which lacks uncompromised adults, the child may seem like a giant. A few days later, Scott Israel, sheriff of Broward County, was on national TV, hiding behind this very young person's (lack of) skirts.

CNN staged its town hall on Wednesday, February 21. Israel was already under fire for the performance of his office, and he almost surely knew that there was more to come.

Had Israel's office failed to perform? If so, was it his fault? We can't answer those questions at this point. Beyond that, we'd advise against seeking out scapegoats.

We do know hiding when we see it. His deputies are said to have hid behind cars. Speaking with NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, he hid behind Emma Gonzalez:
ISRAEL (2/21/18): There's three things we need to do in America to keep America safe. Number one, we have to use, through crime prevention, through environmental design, build schools differently so they're harder to penetrate. Number two, we need to be empowering police officers and deputy sheriffs throughout the nation, to be able to take people who are an immediate threat to themselves or, or an immediate threat to someone else—


ISRAEL: —to be examined. And we need to take guns away from them forever. They should never get them back. They should have to go through a psychological evaluation.

And if we—or have a doctor or a clinician have to sign their John Hancock and say, "That person should be given back their Second Amendment right." We're not going to see doctors do that.

But lastly, we do need to have some gun control reform. Eighteen-year-olds should never have a rifle. An 18-year-old kid should not have a rifle. Eighteen-year-old kid, they're not adults yet. They're in high school. These kids should not have a rifle.

Bump stocks should be illegal. They should be outlawed forever. Automatic rifles should be outlawed forever. And anybody who says different, I don't know about other people, but Emma and I, we're calling BS on that. So—

We'll note that the sheriff has little regard for people "who say different." At any rate, the key word there is (APPLAUSE). But also, "Emma and I."

We don't know if Sheriff Israel failed to perform, in some way, in the run-up to this latest mass shooting. We do know that this big grown man was hiding behind a high school student in that highlighted, crowd-pleasing comment.

His deputies had crouched behind cars. He chose to hide behind a teen-aged high school student.

Almost surely, Emma Gonzalez, age 17, was poorly served by that. Tomorrow, we'll look at other examples of pandering conduct aimed at this student, this time from our liberal journalistic elites.

In the wake of that town hall event, Dahlia Lithwick rushed to say that the Parkland students are sharper than her own elite cohort. In fairness, there's little doubt that Lithwick was right about that.

Still and all, a range of failed adult elites are hiding behind those young people. Those high school students are suffering nightmares, and they are, in fact, very young. Balancing that, our adult elites are compromised, shameless, incompetent, and have been for many long years.

In the Andersen fairy tale, the clarity of a single child touches off a revolution—a major regime change cascade. Our lazy, compromised adult elites seem to hoping this pattern might emerge right here, in the actual world.

Tomorrow: A portrait of the struggling child as a beard for compromised adults

BREAKING: Collins examines the latest sex stories!


Latest dispatch from the realm:
Gail Collins stopped trying years ago. But she still writes her regular column.

This Saturday, her regular column concerned the latest sex stories. She started with "the Pennsylvania district where Republican Tim Murphy, a strong anti-abortion conservative, had to resign after he got caught urging his lover to have an abortion if she got pregnant."

From there, she moved to "the district next door, where the former lover has announced she’s running against a Democratic incumbent."

Next came last week's "special election for the Kentucky State House of Representatives in a rural district." What was the hook about that election, what with its 15 percent turnout rate? The election occurred because the incumbent, "who was also the bishop of an evangelical church, killed himself in December after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old parishioner."

From there, it was on to Missouri, where the incumbent governor "tied his naked lover to a piece of exercise equipment and took her picture."

It was delicious stuff. "See, you’re already getting interested and I haven’t gotten anywhere near the connection to the November Senate races," Collins wonderfully wrote at one point. If only the Times would let her link to the audio of the Bentley sex tape!

In theory, it's possible to write a column about such matters in order to state some actual point. It's hard to see how anyone could think that Collins was trying to do that.

Increasingly, Collins is sending these dispatches from the realm of deep upper-class indifference. Are children being shot in school? Collins would rather do this.

At one point, Colins offered this pensee about the Missouri matter:
This story leaves those of us who do not live in Missouri with several questions. One of which, of course, is, “What kind of person is this?”
What kind of person is this! We often ask that very question when we encounter these columns by Collins. Also, what kind of person would publish a nation's most famous newspaper and put dreck like this in print?

No, really. What kind of person does that?

In Florida, 15-year-old high school students say they can't sleep at night. By way of contrast, Lady Collins' sweet dreams come to us in this manner.

What kinds of publishers publish such dreck? As our failing nation slides toward the sea, we'll ponder such questions all week.

On the bright side: No mention of Seamus!

HIDE BEHIND THE CHILDREN WELL: Mainstream elites prove useless again!


Part 1—Precocious little 15:
On the front page of yesterday's New York Times, Jack Healy profiled the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

He focused on the problems with which they're dealing in the wake of the recent mass shooting at their large public school. Online, the headines above his report suggest what those problems may be:
Outspoken and Precocious, Florida Students Struggle With Loss When the Cameras Turn Off

Even as they raise millions of dollars and plan nationwide rallies to stop gun violence, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School struggle with nightmares.
As if by rule of law, the headlines say the kids are precocious. But at the start of his report, Healy went straight to the problems they face:
HEALY (2/26/18): After a gunman turned their high school into a sprawling crime scene last week, three freshman friends leapt into the student movement for tougher gun laws. They rode a bus to the State Capitol and chased down lawmakers. They vowed to march on Washington. They shouted and waved signs saying “Protect Kids” and “Stop Killing the Future.”

But at night, in the blackness that recalls the dark classroom where she hid as a gunman murdered her classmates, Samara Barrack, 15, cannot stop thinking about that afternoon, when she fled through a blood-covered hallway. Samantha Deitsch, also 15, grieves a friend from journalism class. Aria Siccone, 14, who walked past the bodies of students from her last-period study hall, feels nothing sometimes. Just numbness.

“I keep having flashbacks,” Samara said. “There’s times I want to cry and can’t. There’s times I want to have fun and am hysterical.”

This is the reality that confronts students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the cameras turn off and the day’s rallies are over. They have won praise for their strength and eloquence on the world’s stage. But even as they raise millions of dollars and plan nationwide rallies, parse the details of assault-weapons laws and spar with politicians and conservative critics, the young survivors of the massacre are struggling with the loss of their friends and educators, and the nightmares that flood back in moments of stillness.
In his report, Healy attempts to chronicle the problems facing these three students and their three thousand schoolmates.

How accurate is Healy's portrait? We can't answer that question. But the three students with whom Healy starts are 15, 15 and 14 years old. Under the circumstances, it's almost obscene to be going around blabbing that they're "precocious."

Can we talk? The biggest problem these students confront is the relentless failure of elite adult authorities in their failing society. These failures include the noxious idea that these students, being "outspoken and precocious," strong and eloquent, are somehow supposed to solve the problem which came to their school that day.

Did we mention the fact that the three freshmen Healy cites are 14 or 15 years old? In what universe does it make sense to imagine that they will possess the "strength and eloquence" with which to address the sprawling societal problems which lay behind this latest disastrous event?

High school freshmen, aged 14, shouldn't be asked to be so "strong and eloquent." And yet, there was Dahlia Lithwick, one week later, writing that horribly accurate essay in Slate.

In her horribly accurate essay, Lithwick said that these teenagers are more capable then her own highly privileged adult cohort—an elite cohort which has failed us mightily for the past how many years.

Lithwick was certainly right about the astounding uselessness of the endlessly compromised, endlessly useless, self-dealing cohort around her. But it has been obscene to see people from that cohort pander and fawn to a bunch of kids, burdening them with the task of fixing the Lithwick cohort's failures and "mistakes."

Who the heck is Dahlia Lithwick? For starters, we'll assume that she is one of the world's nicest people. We'd be very be surprised if she isn't.

That said, she's also utterly useless, especially when you consider her pedigree and her access to lofty platforms. In saying this, we don't mean to single her out. This uselessness characterizes decades of self-dealing from various lofty cohorts and elite guilds.

It's time for them all to go. But then, that's been true for decades.

By way of illustration, who is Dahlia Lithwick? She hails from our neighbor to the north. In the ways these things are measured, she's vastly succeeded down here. The leading authority on her life tells us these things about her:
Dahlia Lithwick is a writer and journalist. Lithwick is currently a contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate. She primarily writes about law and politics in the United States. She writes "Supreme Court Dispatches" and "Jurisprudence" and has covered the Microsoft trial and other legal issues for Slate.


Lithwick was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and is a Canadian citizen. She moved to the U.S. to study at Yale University, where she received a B.A. in English in 1990. As a student at Yale, she debated on the American Parliamentary Debate Association circuit as a member of the Yale Debate Association. In 1990, she and her debate partner at the time, Austan Goolsbee, were runners up for the national Team of the Year.

She went on to study law at Stanford University, where she received her J.D. in 1996. She then clerked for Judge Procter Hug
on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
It's our impression that Lithwick's no longer at Newsweek. Still, in the way these things are measured, that's lofty stuff!

Goolsbee, her debate partner, went on to become "the youngest member of the cabinet of President Barack Obama." (In recent years, he's been a frequent, perfectly sensible guest on the Hannity program, on Fox.)

Judged by grasping, upper-end norms, Lithwick's history was lofty, at least through the Stanford years. Sadly, it's been downhill from there.

"She was a regular guest on The Al Franken Show," the leading authority goes on to say, "and has been a guest columnist for The New York Times Op-Ed page."

Franken was apparently grabbing women's asses at the time in question. The failures of the New York Times are legion, although, by law, these deeply destructive, serial failures can't be discussed by people of Lithwick's pedigree and place.

Lithwick is maybe 48. The people Healy describes in his report are 14, 15 and 15.

It's obscene to think that people so young are supposed to solve our society's problems, one of the largest of which is the presence of people from Lithwick's class on endless upper-end platforms. But Lithwick came close to handing them that assignment in her all-time silly Slate essay, which was sillily headlined like this:
The Student Teachers
The teenagers from Stoneman Douglas are fearlessly reimagining how to effect change in the Trump era.
The student teachers! In this latest silly, romanticized novel, the kids were behaving fearlessly! Yesterday, Healy said, "Hold on! Not so fast!"

Let's give credit where due. In her silly piece for Slate, Lithwick acknowledged the failure of her well-bred leadership crowd over the past many years. "These kids aren’t naïve," she naïvely wrote. "They are just better at this than we are." Here's the unhelpful, buck-passing way she chose to end her column:
LITHWICK (2/22/18): The kids of Stoneman Douglas really don’t much care what this president thinks, or what the NRA thinks, or even what we in the media think. The central mistake we have made this past week is trying to understand how this vast army of eloquent, purposeful, and clear-eyed students has been all-but-invisible to us until now. The better lesson we can take from them is that, thankfully, we have been almost entirely invisible to them. They are unconstrained by our norms and unmoved by our plight, and not really all that interested in our corny media tropes about childhood, suffering, and power. Good for them. It’s about time.
This was the latest romanticized tale. Over the past ten days or so, many useless adult elites have been insipidly mouthing it.

We don't have the slightest doubt that Dahlia Lithwick, perhaps 48, is one of the world's nicest people. She's also part of a self-dealing "liberal"/mainstream elite which has persistently failed those kids, their parents and everyone else over the past thirty years. They've relentlessly failed to cut to the chase, to go where the rubber meets theroad.

On the day of this latest mass shooting, several deputy sheriffs crouched behind cars in the parking lot, apparently as the shooting continued. Useless elites have been hiding behind those precocious kids from that latest gruesome day forward.

Tomorrow: Hiding behind Emma Gonzalez, who's only 17

BREAKING: King blames Russkies and Trump for "Woke Blacks!"


Fails to mention woke blacks:
In this morningt's Washington Post, Colbert King writes two-thirds of an important column.

Working from recent Mueller indictments, he describes part of the process which sent Donald J. Trump to the White House. Specifically citing the Russians' "Woke Blacks" site, he blames Trump and the Russkies for what occurred.

But alas! He forgets to blame the New York Times—and he forgets to blame woke blacks!

At the start of his two-thirds of a column, King describes "the efforts of the Trump campaign and the Russians to suppress the votes of groups likely to support Hillary Clinton" back in 2016.

He notes the way the Russkies "deceitfully created theme-oriented groups with names suggesting a connection to the Black Lives Matter movement...on social media sites." "Blacktivist" was the name of one such Russian-run group, King correctly notes.

By 2016 "the many Russian-controlled groups had attracted hundreds of thousands of online followers," King correctly notes, citing the Mueller indictments. At this point, he goes where the rubber meets the road, citing two-thirds of the problem:
KING (2/24/18): But just as the Russians attempted, according to the indictment, “to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate,” a similar operation was underway in the United States, as skillfully reported by Bloomberg’s Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg.

The Trump campaign’s digital nerve center in San Antonio set in gear its own strategy: Don’t expand the electorate; shrink it. Turn off likely Clinton voters found among blacks and moderate-to-liberal white women.

Russia and the Trump campaign were calling plays out of the same playbook.
Doggone it! The Russians were trying to suppress turnout among women and blacks—and the Trump campaign was playing the same game! As he continues, King mentions a particular play by the Russkies—and he blows past one-third of the problem:
KING (contiuning directly): Clinton, like most Democratic presidential candidates, needed the overwhelming support of black voters. So the Trump campaign went after a 20-year-old Clinton suggestion, made at the time of President Bill Clinton’s tough-on-crime criminal-justice overhaul, that some young black males are “super predators.” The Trump operatives figured that would chill the interest of black voters in going to the polls, especially in a key state such as Florida.

On Oct. 24, 2016, Bloomberg reported, Trump’s team began placing spots about the “super predator” line on select African American radio stations and through nonpublic Facebook posts controlled by the Trump campaign. It was laser-focused so that, as a Trump campaign operative put it, “only the people we want to see it, see it.”...

Around the same time, the Russian operation launched its fake “Woke Blacks” account to post the following message, as stated in Mueller’s indictment: “Particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”
Doggone it! The Trump campaign was trying to discourage blacks from voting. So were the Russians, King says, through their "Blacktivist" and "Woke Blacks" sites.

They did so, King seems to say, through use of that stupid "super-predators" crap. Was this enough to let Trump win? King doesn't state a view on that point.

King is angry at Trump and Putin for all this "Woke Blacks"/"super-predator" crap. That said, he forgets to mention the parallel efforts in 2016 by any number of leading woke blacks, perhaps including the very group he named, Black Lives Matter!

Consider Patrisse Khan-Cullors' new best-seller, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. We've been recommending the book all week, and we'll continue to do so. But Khan-Cullors plays the "super-predators" card at various points in the book, including in this early passage, in which she describes the war on crime in the low-income Los Angeles of her childhood and youth:
KHAN-CULLORS (page 57): Kids were being sent away simply for being alive in a place where war had been declared against us. And the propaganda, the rationalizing of how much we needed to be destroyed, we the generation called super-predators, was promoted by people who were Republicans and Democrats, and, save for a few, Black as well as white.
On a recent C-Span After Words program, Toure challenged Khan-Cullors about the way Black Lives Matter, in effect, sat out the Trump-Clinton election. (Click here, move to roughly 44:00.) For better or worse—it's a matter of judgment—Khan-Cullors offered these thoughts as part of her response:
KHAN-CULLORS (2/10/18): Let me say this. The tactic of taking on the Democratic Party I think was very useful in that moment, and still is, because the Democratic Party has really milked the black voters, and has historically really not been on our side, and in fact have been some of the biggest proponents of mass criminalization of black communities. So it was very important to intervene on this idea that we were going to have our lives saved by Hillary Clinton...

But I think for folks across the country, including the Democratic Party, we didn't believe he was going to win. And that actually is the factor here. We didn't believe he was going to win, and so the time that people spent, the time that the Democratic Party spent—because I don't want to blame our movement for the reason why Trump got in office; I know you're not doing that, but some people might see it as such—they could have done a much better job at who they decided to run for president.
In the end, does that analysis make sense? In the end, that's a matter of judgment. Khan-Cullors knows much more about "mass criminalization" than most people do. It's a topic which won't be discussed on our "corporate liberal" cable news channel. On MSNBC, that part of the world simply doesn't exist.

Each person will have to decide whether Khan-Cullors' overall statement makes sense. For ourselves, the suggestion that Khan-Cullors might have taken a different approach had she realized that Trump could win tends to undercut the analysis. It tends to throw Khan-Cullors in with decades of feckless liberal/progressive elites, including the clueless thought leaders who kept insisting, right to the end, that Trump couldn't win that election.

King rails today about the way Putin and Trump were urging blacks not to vote. That said, a substantial array of "woke black" leaders took the same approach all through the Trump-Clinton election.

On one occasion, in 1996, Candidate Clinton had uttered the word "super-predators." She had uttered the word at a time when it was in fairly widespread use with reference to acts of hideous criminality which were occurring within various communities, at a time when overall crime rates were much higher than they are today.

It would be absurd to say, as Khan-Cullors might seem to have said in her book, that Clinton was branding a whole "generation" on the one occasion when she uttered that word. Nor was Clinton necessarily referring to young black males and to no one else, as King suggests in his column.

On the one occasion when she uttered the word, Clinton made no such declaration. In our view, Clinton was a weak candidate this time around, but many things which have been said about her have been very weak and extremely unhelpful—and those unhelpful declarations dated back almost twenty-five years by November 2016.

Khan-Cullors has every right to her overall view. It may or may not make sense in the end, especially if we agree to ignore the "we didn't think Trump could win" part of her overall statement.

Regarding King's column, we'll lodge a basic complaint. He's happy to hammer Trump and Putin for urging black voters not to vote—but he fails to note that many "woke black" thought leaders were advancing the same idea in 2016. That's where Putin got it!

At one point in his column, King also scolds Trump and Putin for "[seeking] to turn off young women by rolling out the women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual improprieties." Inevitably, he fails to mention the egregious way the New York Times played that card in September 2016. That conduct by the New York Times was part of a 24-year war which sent George W. Bush, then Donald J. Trump, to the White House. To this day, people like King and Chait and all the rest refuse to discuss that history-changing fact.

(Kevin Drum keeps citing one New York Times front page and pretending it's granted him sainthood. His work on lead abatement has been sensational. In our view, he still has a long way to go regarding the upper-end press corps.)

The Russians created the "Woke Blacks" site, then played the "super-predator" card. For better or worse, leading woke blacks had done the same thing for two years.

As always, such things can't be acknowledged or discussed. We happily blame The Others, breeze right past ourselves.

The "career liberal" world still won't discuss the long war the Post and the Times both waged. To this day, rank and file liberals cannot be told about the conduct in which they engaged. Has any group ever been more committed to the code of silence?

Final note: Rachel would jump off the Golden Gate Bridge before she'd discuss those decades of misconduct by the Post and the Times.

Dearest darlings, use your heads! When you're a major corporate star, it just wouldn't be prudent!

BREAKING: Beware of interesting times!


Enlightenment values down:
"Beware of interesting times," the sages have famously said.

We live in that kind of time. Consider two things Eric Levitz has recently said.

Yesterday, at New York magazine, Levitz offered a sensible warning about the dangers of overstating the extent of the dangers faced by public school students.

"Schools in the United States are safer today than at any time in recent memory," he said, linking to published statistics. "Criminal victimization in America’s education facilities has declined in tandem with the nation’s collapsing crime rate."

Levitz made a sensible argument. On balance, you may or may not agree with his point of view. Along the way, though, he made a peculiar comment.
LEVITZ (2/22/18): In the wake of the Parkland shooting, progressive activists and commentators (including this one) repeatedly claimed that there had been 18 school shootings since the start of this year. When the Washington Post looked into that statistic—and found that it included a suicide in the parking lot of a long-closed elementary school, and that there had only been five incidents that resemble the popular understanding of a “school shooting”—some progressives mocked the paper for its callous pedantry.

This sort of response struck me as defensible
—until the victims at CNN’s town hall began using the supposed ubiquity of school shootings as a justification for policies other than gun control.
Say what? According to Levitz, many people were saying that there had been 18 school shootings this year. In fact, said Levitz, there had been, at the most, only five such incidents.

Should people say 18 if the actual number is five? Was it "callous pedantry" when the Post noted this rather large difference?

There was a time when everyone would have known the answer to those questions—but that time isn't now. "This sort of response struck me as defensible," Levitz weirdly said.

Perhaps Levitz was simply throwing a bone to the rampaging herd. But what a remarkable statement!

Let's call them "Enlightenment values." According to one such basic value, you really shouldn't go around making wildly inaccurate statements. Even if you, and your cause, are both wondrously good!

Perhaps you can't see what difference your wild misstatement makes in the particular instance. Traditionally, that doesn't matter. Unless you're a medieval yahoo or a nut, it's something you just shouldn't do. There was a time when everyone knew this.

Levitz saw the gang abandon this value—and he said it seemed to make sense. Then, today, he wrote a piece about Trump's speech at CPAC.

For the record, Levitz is one of them college graduate fellers (Johns Hopkins 2010). He's also a ranking professional journalist, but this is preliterate work:
LEVITZ (2/23/18): Referencing congressional Democrats’ opposition to his administration’s proposed changes to legal immigration, Trump told the crowd of right-wing activists, “They’re willing to give us the wall. But they don’t want to give us any of the laws to keep these people out.”

Here, “these people” are, by definition, a group of U.S. residents and citizens who have entered the country legally,
through the existing immigration system (ostensibly, including his own father- and mother-in-law).
In that passage, Levitz tells us who Trump meant when he referred to "these people"—but he doesn't provide the surrounding text which lets us assess his claim. Trump is full of clumsy locutions and lousy ideas—but this is the fuller text:
TRUMP (2/23/18): To secure our country, we are calling on Congress to build a great border wall to stop dangerous drugs and criminals from pouring into our country. And now they’re willing to give us the wall. But they don’t want to give us any of the laws to keep these people out. So we’re going to get the wall. But they don’t want to give us all of the other, chain migration, lottery, think of a lottery. You have a country, they put names in, you think they’re giving us their good people? Not too many of you people are going to be lottery. So we pick out people. Then they turn out to be horrendous. And we don’t understand why. They’re not giving us their best people, folks. They’re not giving us—use your heads.
As with almost everything Trump says, that passage doesn't exactly parse or make clear sense. Still, the most obvious antecedent for "these people" is the unpleasant word "criminals." In a jumbled way, Trump seems to be saying that some people coming in through "chain migration" or the "lottery" have "turn[ed] out to be horrendous."

They may have entered the country legally, but they've turned out to be criminals! Almost surely, that has actually been the case in any number of instances—and no, it really isn't a reference to his own in-laws. (Are we now required to make the dumbest possible connection every time?)

Trump's policies may or may not make sense, but Levitz's prose style plainly doesn't. In what universe does a ranking national journalist quote and interpret a statement in that fashion?

Levitz thought it was OK to say 18 when the number was five. He thinks it's OK to quote and then interpret a speech in the manner displayed.

It's fairly plain that Donald J. Trump is slowly driving some journalists nuts. Basic values are being abandoned. These values track back many years.

"Callous pedantry!" That's what the armies of outrage say in response to such obvious observations. It's the way real dumbness has always begun, especially before the Enlightenment, back in the days of the trials.

BREAKING: Williams and Bash can speculate too!


The reason for Manafort's defiance:
As we hypothesized barely an hour ago, it looks like Rick Gates is going to plead guilty today and become a cooperating witness.

Last night, we were told, by Julia Ainsley, that the word on the street said he couldn't do that—said he didn't have enough to offer Mueller. That latest expert speculation has apparently turned out to be wrong.

Serious journalists don't spend oodles of time speculating—about future election results, about future plea decisions. That said, Brian Williams can speculate too.

Lsast night, Jeremy Bash and Brian Williams offered a tangy speculation about Manafort's refusal to come in from the cold. Is Manafort holding out in hopes of getting a pardon from Trump?
WILLIAMS (2/22/18): Jeremy, I'm duty bound to ask you about pardons, only because I'm just picking up interstitial bits of conversations on both sides of the political isles about pardon.

Is the President's power limitless? He said that someday maybe we`ll talk about at a later date of the Flynn matter, but here come more names and more charges. And I think it`s going to force more of the conversation.

BASH: ...I think Manafort and others are signaling the president tonight that, "Hey, we don't really have a lot to say negative about the president. We're digging in, we're fighting the prosecutor. We're not waving jurisdiction. We're going to force him to litigate this and potentially two occasions."

I think that's a signal to the White House that, "Hey, we're open for business if you guys want to talk pardon."

WILLIAMS: Jeremy, this calls for an opinion, you know, on your part. Do you think it's among the possible? [sic]

BASH: Yes, very much so. I think the president is weighing whether to extinguish all of these criminal charges and basically put Bob Mueller out of business using his power of the pardon.

That was speculation too, a major speculation by Bash. Manafort is hoping for a pardon. Trump is considering giving it. (When Bash said "Manafort and others," he may have meant that Gates was signaling Trump too.)

Bash could be right about Manafort and Trump, and he could be wrong. In that sense, speculation can provide hours of fun.

On balance, it makes better sense to wait to see what actually happens. Eventually, we'll all know whether Trump handed out pardons or not.

Some among us don't like waiting. They prefer to burn their hours speculating, especially in ways which will please the tribe.

As they burn the hours away, they help the tribe get dumber. They also make the rest of the world go away.

MAKE THE WORLD GO AWAY: People and topics disappeared!


Part 5—Making those kids go away:
Yesterday, a certain special counsel issued 32 new indictments.

The indictments were aimed at former Trumpkins Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. On The Rachel Maddow Show, this action by special counsel Mueller made the rest of the world go away.

Make no mistake—Mueller's action constituted a genuine news event. In the New York Times and the Washington Post, news reports about the indictments appear above the fold on today's front pages, though they're on the left hand side of the page.

By normal reckoning, these news reports are positioned as the second most important reports of the day. That said, Michael Schmidt's report in the Times runs 1119 words. A huge array of other topics are reported within the paper.

That isn't the way this event was played on The Rachel Maddow Show. On The Maddow Show, the new indictments ate roughly three-fourths of the cable star's minutes last night.

The cable star discussed the indictments long into the night, offering her usual array of unreliable speculations. As she talked and talked and talked, the rest of the world went away.

How much time did Maddow devote to these tribally thrilling indictments? Answer:

Her opening monologue ran 25 minutes. After her first commercial break, she devoted seven additional minutes to a pair of largely pointless interviews about the indictments.

As such, Maddow spent roughly 32 minutes on the new indictments. By our count, she appeared for roughly 45 minutes in all, excluding commercial breaks.

(It was "a very, very, very busy news night," Maddow said at one point, as she typically does. "Stay with us." The way she clung to that one topic conveyed a different impression.)

Maddow devoted the bulk of last night's program to the new indictments. Along the way, she offered her latest shaky speculation, this time concerning the reason why Manafort took his job as head of the Trump campaign without receiving pay.

Admittedly, Maddow's speculation was pleasing and fun, though it didn't exactly seem to make chronological sense. It made us think of the failed speculation on which she'd wasted everyone's time in the week before last night's program.

So cool! Last Thursday, CNN was reporting some BREAKING NEWS. At this point, it looks like the thrilling report was false, but it was way cool at the time.

CNN's alleged BREAKING NEWS concerned Rick Gates. Because it involved the thrill of The Chase. a certain major cable star wanted to tell you about it:
MADDOW (2/15/18): I mentioned at the top here that there was some important breaking news on the Mueller investigation, that actually relates to Rick Gates, who was the deputy chairman of the Trump inauguration, the very unusual Trump inaugural committee, as well as being the deputy campaign chairman of the Trump campaign.

Rick Gates was arrested in October and charged with multiple felonies alongside Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. They`ve been rumblings for a while that there might be something going on.

In Gates' criminal case, he had dumped the first lawyer who was representing him. For a couple of weeks now, there have been some intriguing and mostly secret court proceedings that made it seem like maybe he was either dropping or getting dropped by his second legal team as well.
Are you able to follow that so far? According to this manifest idiot, the rumblings had made it seem like maybe Gates was dropping his legal team. Or that maybe he was possibly getting dropped by them!

That's what the rumblings had made it "seem like maybe!" At this point, the major star cut to the thrilling new chase:
MADDOW (continuing directly) CNN's Katelyn Polantz was first to report that a third legal team led by veteran Washington scandal lawyer Tom Green might be taking over Rick Gates' representation and potentially negotiating a whole new relationship between Rick Gates and the prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Well, tonight, Polantz at CNN is first to report, based on multiple sources, that Rick Gates, the president's deputy campaign manager, is in fact about to flip and become a cooperating witness for Robert Mueller.

Mueller has already obtained a guilty plea and a cooperation agreement from Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and from Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn. If he also gets Trump's deputy campaign chair, who was on the campaign longer than Paul Manafort was, he was still there after Manafort got fired, he was an integral part of the presidential transition, he was number two in charge of the Trump inauguration, he was a frequent presence in the White House for the first months of this administration—if he flips, this would be the biggest development that we could see, publicly at least, in the Mueller investigation since Flynn and Papadopoulos announced that they would become cooperating witnesses.

Again, NBC News has not confirmed this reporting. This is CNN's story at this point, but they're citing multiple sources and they've got one super-intriguing, super-specific detail about what has happened legally already between Robert Mueller and Rick Gates. It's a detail that we're definitely going to need an expert to explain.

That part of the story and the expert are next.
So cool! CNN even had one super-intriguing detail! Please don't touch that dial!

After her commercial break, Maddow proceeded to an excited interview with her "expert," Barbara McQuade—her interview about the "important breaking news" from CNN.

Maddow juiced things up with lots of fun
about the super-intriguing detail, which turned out to be CNN's use of the term "Queen for a Day interview." She then introduced McQuade, "who is very plain-spoken on these and other matters."

Maddow and McQuade conducted a speculative interview about CNN's "important breaking news." This past Tuesday night, Maddow brought McQuade out for another worthless segment concerning this rank speculation.

Out in Cable TV Land, all us Maddowsketeers got to enjoy the thrill of these discussions. As of today, though, it has turned out that CNN's "important breaking news" about Gates seems to have been wrong.

Gates hasn't flipped, or pled guilty, or agreed to cooperate with Mueller. Last night, NBC's Julia Ainsley broke the news to Rachel:
AINSLEY (2/22/18): So a week ago, we were hearing [Gates] had this third lawyer, he was going to cooperate and perhaps plead guilty and flip on Manafort and change his whole thing.

Today, this really changes the narrative and what we see is a man who is perhaps kind of stuck in a really tough place. What I'm hearing, he might not have enough to offer Robert Mueller to be able to get this kind of cooperation, leniency, that he wants.
Oof! That's speculation too, of course. In theory, Gates could become a cooperating witness today. Maybe he does know enough to cut a deal with Mueller!

That said, all that prior bullshit with McQuade was just so much speculation. Maddow burned all sorts of time on something that hasn't happened.

Granted, Maddow's blather those two night was tribally enjoyable. But it had this significant downside:

As Maddow speculated, blathered and clowned about the breaking news which wasn't, she was making the rest of the world go away. This brings us back to Patrisse Khan-Cullors, whose new "Black Live Matter Memoir" has been a New York Times best-seller.

Will Khan-Cullors ever appear on Maddow's show? Or is Khan-Cullors the kind of person the cable star makes go away?

We'd place the latter bet. Unless she's dropping dick jokes on their heads, Maddow spends almost no time on the lives and interests of the lower classes—the lesser breed. Then too, there would be journalistic challenges involved in interviewing Khan-Cullors.

We strongly recommend Khan-Cullors' book. Despite its many peculiar aspects, we think its author's voice is extremely unusual and unusually potent.

That said, its peculiar aspects can't exactly be ignored. Consider Khan-Cullors' account of what happened when her older brother, struggling with mental illness, was released from prison after four years. Did this really happen?
KHAN-CULLORS (page 53): In 2003, two years after I graduate high school, Monte is released from prison...The prison loaded him onto a bus on one side of the state and now, finally, here he is disembarking on our side. I am excited beyond the telling and then I see him, for the first time, since he was taken in 1999. But when I see him, I am left breathless.

My brother is hunched over. He is swollen from all the medication he's on. He descends the bus steps in the clothes the prison gave him to return to us in: a thin muscle shirt and a pair of boxer shorts. They gave him underwear, but no pants, their final fuck you, you ain't human to this man whom I have loved for all my life. If we had not been there to pick him up, I'm sure Monte would have been picked up and sent back to some jail.
Did that actually happen? Did the California prison system really treat her brother that way?

Because Khan-Cullors is an significant public figure, the answer is important in more ways than one. Based on the swollen state in which her celebrity has left her, we'll guess that Maddow wouldn't want to involve herself in such real world matters as this.

Khan-Cullors is a major figure with a best-selling book. That said, she has been interviewed on Weekend All Thing Considered and on no other commercial program.

With respect to MSNBC, she joins a long list of major figures you don't see inside that corporate clown car:

You didn't see Elisabeth Rosenthal when she had a best-selling book about the looting which characterizes our health care system.

You didn't see Diane Ravitch when she became a major figure on the left in the rolling public school debates of the Bush years and beyond.

You haven't seen Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, a major book about mass incarceration. You haven't seen Khan-Cullors, and she's co-founder of Black Lives Matter, an organization our corporate stars will all pretend to admire.

Khan-Cullors' memoir paints a remarkable picture of the way one very bright, highly spiritual child grew up in low-income Los Angeles. A few years back, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a best-selling book which described the way a very bright child grew up, not poor but black, in Baltimore.

Here's the problem:

As is made endlessly clear, a corporate channel like MSNBC doesn't care about children like those. Their lives and interests play no role in the channel's topic selection. Few things could be more clear.

This channel also doesn't tackle topics like corporate looting, for example in the realm of health care. They'll promote Democratic Party perspectives on some particular proposal, but they won't push an inch beyond that.

Low-income schools don't exist in this channel, nor do the kids who attend them.

In the main, the channel exists for enjoyable tribal hijinks. Maddow is the ridiculous former Rhodes scholar who throws out the kickball each night.

She weirdly grins and produces forced laughter, presumably in the way the consultants prescribed based on their focus groups. We liberals get dumbed way down in the process, and the bulk of the world goes away.

One final point:

Each night in the past week you've been exposed to news about the shootings, indeed the deaths, in high-income Parkland. This is completely appropriate, exactly as it should be.

That said, how often does anyone on our liberal channel tell us about the kids who get shot in D.C., or Chicago or Baltimore? Who ever speaks to their parents?

Those children are frightened too. But they live in the part of the world our Rhodes scholar makes go away.

For all the puzzlements it may seem to contain, Khan-Cullors has written a fsscinating book. We'll leave today with one basic question:

Why haven't liberals been told about that? Who's making her go away?

BREAKING: It's time for Lithwick's crowd to go!


Decades of self-dealing:
We will assume that Dahlia Lithweick is a perfectly decent person in her private life. In our view, most people are.

That said, we're forced to agree with the assessment she launched this morning at Slate: According to Lithwick, a bunch of teenaged high school kids are better advocates than she and her useless, privileged crowd of establishment pundits have been.

Lithwick's generation of liberal pundits has been a careful, ear-to-the-ground gang of careerist losers. Luckily, kids who are 17 years old aren't yet as compromised at the Lithwicks have been.

How worthless are the Dahlia Lithwicks? Consider this passage near the end of her accurate group confession:
LITHWICK (2/22/18): Conservatives prefer their victims silent and passive. When they start to actually evince anger, they are denounced as either lying fabricators (like Rob Porter’s former wives) or “crisis actors” (like the students at Stoneman Douglas High). Unless you are calling for more cops, more guns, more walls, more prisons, and more punishment, you are a nuisance to be derided and denied. And that’s the beauty of the Parkland kids. They don’t care. We scoff that theirs is a generation raised on reality shows, Instagram, and YouTube, but they are more aware of what is real and what is fake than the adults around them. Far from acting, or ritualized performance, these students have veered so far from any received post-tragedy script that, one week after the shooting, they are still dominating the news cycle. This is what being awake and alive and human and compassionate actually looks like. Pitting all that against Dana Loesch’s hard, shiny little NRA talking points reveals the made-for-cable fakery we’ve bought into en masse.
A lot of that is hard to follow. But there's no doubt that the Parkland students, imperfect as they inevitably will be, are "better than the adults around them," if by that we mean the utterly useless adult liberals of Lithwick's generation.

Note the pathetic way Lithwick chooses to argue her points even in that confessional passage. In a standard bit of passive-aggression, she refers to "Dana Loesch’s hard, shiny little NRA talking points" while providing a link to this video.

She doesn't attempt to say what's wrong with the statements Loesch makes in that piece of videotape. Right to the point where she hands the reins over to the high school kids, she remains too useless to stand on her two hind legs and speak.

Lithwick links to a piece of tape in which Loesch is making a claim which deserves to be analyzed and evaluated. Along the way, the student with whom Loesch is speaking makes some deeply unhelpful remarks, starting with the vastly condescending remark right at the start of the tape.

To Lithwick, this extremely young, inexperienced person is better than she herself is, and there's little doubt that that judgment is right. Example:

"For twenty years," Lithwick wouldn't blow the whistle on this federal judge because it might have hurt her career. But then, she and her gang of super-establishment liberal pundits have played the game this way every single step of the way for the past twenty-six years:

Play it safe! Play it safe! Whatever you do, don't ever tell the truth if it will put your career and social standing in jeopardy. Their relentless self-dealing gave us Bush. Later, it gave us Trump.

Lithwick needs to get a job. Teen-aged students aren't going to save us, but it's long past time for her horrible crowd to go.

MAKE THE WORLD GO AWAY: A topic which doesn't exist on TV!


Part 4—The children whose lives don't count:
Not long ago, an amazing event occurred. A person could read, in the Washington Post, about improved test scores in the nation's public schools!

Granted, the discussion occurred in an op-ed column by a guest columnist, not in a news report. That said, the analysts were almost excited by the discussion—until they saw the metric the guest columnist used:
WHITE (2/9/18): [I]t's inaccurate to claim that there's been little progress since the Reagan administration's seminal report "A Nation at Risk."...[T]his line of thinking threatens the bipartisan push for change in America's schools, including the principles of verifying what progress students are making and holding school systems accountable for that progress.

Let's take the claim of failure first. The most widely trusted yardstick of American students' learning is the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Over the past quarter-century, the share of American fourth-graders fully proficient in math on the NAEP increased by 27 percentage points. The share of proficient fourth-grade readers increased by seven percentage points. Over that time, proficiency among African American fourth-graders increased by 18 percentage points in math and 10 percentage points in reading, and Latino fourth-graders' proficiency gained 21 points in math and nine points in reading...

This is no claim of "mission accomplished." Other nations have strengthened their schools faster and more profoundly than we have. Reading and math skills in middle and high schools, as well as knowledge of civics and science, are deplorably low. Learning gaps by race and income level remain tragically wide. But this country has made important improvements over a generation, with real implications for the lives of families and the economic health of our states and communities.
John White is the Louisiana state superintendent of education. In saying that public school performance has improved, he bucks the standard preferred party line, in which the public has long been told that nothing has worked in our public schools thanks to our ratty public school teachers with their fiendish unions.

That gloomy line has long been standard within the mainstream press. In his recent column, White said the familiar claims which drive this gloomy picture are untrue.

That said, White bowed to the gloom-and-doom lobby with his claim that reading and math skills in middle schools are "deplorably low," and with his gloomy assessment of the international picture. Beyond that, he chose to measure progress on the NAEP in a way which made us gnash our teeth—by recording "the share of American [students] fully proficient in math and reading."

In fairness, that's one statistic a person can use to measure improvement on the NAEP over time. But for various barely technical reasons, we wouldn't say it's the best single statistic to use, and it results in a rather underwhelming set of claims:

The share of proficient fourth-grade readers has increased by seven percentage points since the 1980s? That has the unmistakable sound of a massively underwhelming claim.

Still, given the way this topic is normally discussed, this underwhelming presentation is about as good as you'll ever see in a newspaper like the Post. It's very, very, very rate to hear claims about progress at all.

That said, where does a modern liberal turn for information on a topic like this? More specifically, to whom can liberals or progressives turn for information about the progress recorded by black or Hispanic kids?

Alas! That liberal can't turn to Rachel Maddow, or to Chris Hayes, or even to the morally swaggering Lawrence, or to any of the seven- or eight-figure "corporate liberals" hired to perform on MSNBC. The lives and interests of black children simply don't exist on that channel until such time as someone gets shot, though only by a policeman or a "vigilante."

At least in her seven- to eight-figure professional capacity as a cable news entertainer, Rachel Maddow doesn't give a flying fig about the lives and interests of black kids. Their lives and their interests don't exist on her high-rated TV show.

At present, her TV show is devoted to The Chase—to the entertaining, pleasure-providing hunt after Donald J. Trump. Viewers are immersed in the minutia of that chase to a degree that borders on the pointless and the insane.

Black kids can go play in the yard. So can Patrisse Khan-Cullors and her intriguing new book.

What's the true state of the nation's schools? Of the nation's low-income schools? Of the service those schools are providing to the nation's black kids?

You won't hear a word from Maddow about that or any similar topic. Those children don't exist on her show. Neither does Khan-Cullors, or a group of people like her.

Who the Joe Hill is Patrisse Khan-Cullors? She's one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, a semi-organization our corporate liberal TV stars happily pretend to support.

Khan-Cullors' new book is called When They Call You A Terorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. The book appeared on the New York Times best-seller list on two recent Sundays, but its author hasn't appeared on MSNBC and most likely never will.

(So far, Khan-Cullors has done the full hour on C-Span's After Words, and she's been interviewed on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. According to Nexis, that's it. Full and complete total stop.)

In her book, Khan-Cullors describes her life as a child who grew up poor in the Los Angeles of the wars on drugs and crime. Among the intriguing stories it seems to tell is the story of Khan-Cullots' education in the Los Angeles public schools.

Although she lived in Van Nuys, Khan-Cullors went to Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks, a school she improbably describes as being "all-white." She then went to Cleveland High, where it sounds like she received a fascinating, challenging education. The leading authority on Cleveland High describes the school as follows:
Grover Cleveland Charter High School is a public school serving grades 9-12. Cleveland Humanities Magnet is part of Cleveland Charter High School. The school is located in Reseda, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California.

Cleveland, a part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, was named after President Grover Cleveland. Cleveland Charter High School is LAUSD's only comprehensive high school that holds the title of being a California Distinguished School.

Cleveland High School was honored as a 2005 California Distinguished School
and as of 2010 was ranked the 703rd best high school in the nation by Newsweek, up from 854th the year before. It has a student population of about 3800. The school is divided into small learning communities.
So the school is described. Khan-Cullors would have graduated around 2002. According to the leading authority on her life, she holds a degree in religion and philosophy from UCLA and was a Fulbright scholar.

As with much of her memoir, Khan-Cullors' description of her education is fleeting and somewhat impressionistic. Her description of other aspects of her childhood is more detailed and more pointed. This includes her accounts of the interactions of her brothers and her father with the Los Angeles police and the California prison system.

Khan-Cullors has been involved in prison reform for a good long time. That topic doesn't exist on "liberal cable" either. For this reason, people like Khan-Cullors aren't invited to appear on the channel. That channel is deeply invested in The Chase, and in increased corporate revenue.

When Maddow mugs and clowns and discusses herself and exclusively hands you The Chase, she makes us liberals feel moral and pure inside. We may not realize how many topics are being kept from view.

When Maddow wallows in The Chase, she makes the rest of the world go away. Tomorrow, we'll finish our discussion of the many topics you won't encounter on that cable channel—about the many people you won't see there.

Cable keeps making the world go away. On the brighter side, it helps us make it through the night knowing that We are the good ones.

Tomorrow: Which terrorized children don't count and other disappeared topics