GAPS AND PLANS: Data denied is dumbness ensured!


Interlude—The New York Times does it again:
We've all heard about high school kids who are "working on third grade level."

What happens when a nation's most famous newspaper seems to function that way?

This question arose as we read the latest report by Harris and Hu about Mayor de Blasio's heroic attempt to "desegregate" New York City's eight high-powered "specialized high schools."

In print editions, this latest report consumes the whole of this morning's page A18—the first page of the Times' "New York" section.

As usual, this full-page report asks us to be shocked, shocked about what the Times is reporting. For itself, the Times seemed to be shocked to learn this less-than-shocking fact:

High achievement is taking place in the schools with the highest achievers!

Beyond that, the report continues a standard practice by the Times. Once again, we're asked to believe a subjective account from a school official even as the Times fails to present the relevant data—data which strongly tend to contradict the impression the official conveys.

In its constant failure to report basic data, the New York Times keeps choosing to work on grade school level. At best, it's pretending to cover Mayor de Blasio's peculiar new proposal.

In this morning's report, Harris and Hu are shocked to learn that lots of kids from the city's "highly selective" middle schools are gaining admission to the city's eight specialized high schools.

How silly is this stance? If we assume the scribes are sincere, we'd place their analytical skills on something like second grade level. Let's start with a basic review:

At the end of fifth grade, New York City assigns many of its highest achievers to "highly selective" middle schools, where they, quite correctly, pursue an advanced course of study.

Please understand! In any sensible public school system, these same higher-achieving kids would pursue an advanced course of study, even if they attended a large, academically diverse, "neighborhood school."

Instead, New York City sends many such kids to certain "highly selective" schools. Three years later, lot of kids in these high-powered schools gain admission to the city's eight high-powered high schools.

The New York Times, along with the mayor, seems to be shocked by this result. Why would schools which are full of high achievers turn out high achievers? The Times is bollixed by that!

You'd think a newspaper couldn't get dumber than that. Today, the Times has made its latest attempt.

At issue is the Rafael Hernandez Dual Language Magnet School in the Bronx, a school which hasn't seen a lot of its kids gain admission to the eight "specialized high schools."

In two separate passages, Harris and Hu quote the principal of this school. He seems to feel that his students are getting shortchanged by current admission procedures.

His assessment of his school and his students is completely subjective. Later, we'll show you the basic data, which seem to diverge from his view:
HU AND HARRIS (6/30/18): For the Rafael Hernandez Dual Language Magnet School in the Bronx, the change would be equally profound [under the mayor's proposed plan]. This year, 63 students at the school took the SHSAT. None scored high enough to be admitted. The year before, just three made the cut, and two the year before that. Under the new plan, the school would send six students to the specialized schools every year. “What they want to do, it’s going to open the door for a lot of my students,” said Sergio Caceres, the school’s principal.


Dr. Caceres, the Bronx principal, said that half of his eighth-grade students already take advanced math and science classes, and have the ability and work ethic to thrive in a challenging school like Bronx Science. His students do not do well on the SHSAT, he said, in part because most of their families cannot afford tutoring. When the results came back this spring, some of the students were so disappointed they cried.

“Don’t you think it’s embarrassing that Bronx Science is in the Bronx and only a handful of students are from the Bronx?” he asked. “People might think we don’t have the students, but we do have the students.”
Caceres believes that more of his students should be gaining admission to the eight high-powered high schools, including his own borough's prestigious Bronx High School of Science.

According to Caceres, half his eighth-grade students are taking "advanced math and science classes." He says they have what it takes to succeed at a high-powered school like Bronx Science.

"We have the students," he says. He says they don't get admitted to the specialized schools because their parents "can't afford tutoring." Presumably, this is a reference to SHSAT test prep.

He says it's embarrassing that his kids don't get admitted to the specialized schools. In one respect, that's certainly true. But let's take a look at the record!

For the record, Caceres could always be right in his basic assessment. That said, his basic assessment is completely subjective. For example:

Just exactly how "advanced" are those "advanced classes?" Harris and Hu don't ask. Routinely, professional skepticism heads for the door when the Times hands you moments like this.

In today's dose of bathos, Times readers are left with the subjective assessment of a middle school principal who's an interested party. Incomparably, we decided to take a look at the statistical record.

Under the mayor's peculiar proposal, admission to these eight high-powered high schools would be based on two factors—a student's grade point average, and his or her scores on New York State's annual statewide tests. (The current SHSAT admission test would cease to exist.)

Luckily, a school's performance on the statewide tests is a matter of public record. We decided to compare the performance at Hernandez to the performance at Booker T. Washington Middle School, one of the "highly selective" middle schools which gets kicked around, for the ten millionth time, in today's report.

How well do the kids at Hernandez perform as compared to the kids at Booker T. Washington? Caceres says his kids have the tools. The data seem to say something different.

Remember—scores on these New York State tests would be one of the mayor's chosen metrics. We aren't vouching for the utility of these data. Mayor de Blasio is!

Below, you see the basic data the Times withheld in favor of a subjective assessment from an interested party. We'll explain the data below:
New York State math test, Grade 8
2016-2017 school year

Booker T. Washington Middle School:

Average student proficiency rating: 3.88 (of maximum 4.5)
Percentage of students achieving proficiency: 86.2%

Rafael Hernandez Magnet School:
Average student proficiency rating: 2.61 (of maximum 4.5)
Percentage of students achieving proficiency: 30.4%
Do you want to know the difference between a "performance level" and a "proficiency rating" in the complex lexicon of the New York City schools?

We're assuming you don't! At any rate, Booker T. Washington's average proficiency rating was much higher than that achieved at Hernandez.

Meanwhile, a student is rated "proficient" in math if he or she achieves a "performance level" of 3 or 4 on the statewide test (as opposed to a 1 or a 2). At Booker T. Washington, 86% of the kids scored proficient. At Hernandez, the number was thirty percent.

This doesn't mean that Hernandez doesn't have kids who would benefit from the high-powered programs of a school like Bronx Science. Indeed, in the school year under review, three kids from Hernandez gained admission to specialized high schools through their performance on the SHSAT.

That said, how does the principal's glowing assessment seem once you've seen the data? Does it still seem weird to learn that Booker T. Washington has been sending many more kids to the specialized high schools, as opposed to the school in the Bronx?

Does that principal's subjective assessment seem to jibe with those data? Of one thing you can be certain—you will never be told about such data by the New York Times.

With great persistence, the Times provides subjective assessments from parents and principals while hiding key data away. They disappear New York City's enormous achievement gaps. Today, they slid past basic test scores as they fed you the story they like.

In its reporting on de Blasio's plan, the Times has been working on second-grade level. This is why we say that:

The first objection is obvious. The Times never identifies the obvious, bewildering question raised by the mayor's proposal.

If Gotham has as many high-achieving kids as the mayor claims, why would the city continue to run just eight high-powered high schools? Why wouldn't the mayor open four additional high-powered schools? Why not add eight more?

De Blasio's failure to address that question is the most gobsmacking part of his ugly "race war" proposal. The Times refuses, again and again, to identify this puzzling aspect of his peculiar proposal.

Beyond that, the Times keeps pretending to be surprised when middle schools which enroll the city's highest performers end up graduating large numbers of high performers.

You'd have to be extremely dumb to be puzzled or shocked by that. To drown its readers in propaganda and bathos, the Times keeps offering subjective assessments from interested parties while locking key data away.

Educationally, we're in favor of challenging every one of New York City's great kids to the maximum extent that makes sense. Journalistically, we're opposed to childish dissembling and to brain-dead propaganda.

Journalistically, do you ever get tired of being played by a newspaper like the Times? For ourselves, we tired of that in the 1990s.

In its coverage of the "desegregation plans," the New York Times has been working on second-grade level. Except in the realm of propagandistic melodrama, it'a barely performing that well.

The Rafael Hernandez Magnet School is full of superlative kids. The data suggest that it isn't full of Gotham's highest performing students—rather, that this onrushing state of affairs hasn't come to pass just yet.

Where do numbers come from: To peruse the data, just click here. After that, follow these simple steps:

Select "NYC School Survey." Enter the name of the school in question, then click "Find."

Click on "Student Achievement Outcomes." Scroll down to "State Test Metrics."

BREAKING: Are Democrats trapped in the Alamo?

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2018

Who will win the Supreme Court fight:
Our favorite blogger, Kevin Drum, made a rookie mistake. In his initial post, he said what he actually thought.

You can read that statement here. The next day, he walked it back.

Drum was assessing the upcoming Supreme Court fight. What will happen in this fight? And what should Democrats do?

We don't own a crystal ball. For that reason, we don't know how this whole thing will turn out.

But it seems to us that our team's brave statements tend to reflect the same pathetic bad judgment which, over the course of the past thirty years, has managed to get us here.

Our team is saying that a furious fight will fire the liberal base. It seems to us that a furious fight will fire the other base too.

Which base would be more likely to turn out in an off-year furious fight? We don't own a crystal ball, but we can't imagine why any sane person would assume that the fight would disproportionately fire up our side.

Our depressives say that a furious fight might take out Manchin, Heitkamp, Donnelly, Tester. No one seems to mention McCaskill in Missouri, or Brown in Ohio, or Smith in Minnesota (Franken's unelected replacement). We don't know what's going to happen, but we can see a bunch of Senate races in which the Democrat could imaginably get hurt by this furious fight.

At least since 1992, the liberal world's political motto has been, "What, Us Worry?" We're dumb as rocks and, as proof on our dumbness, we don't have the slightest idea how dumb we actually are.

It seem to us we've created a problem it will be hard to escape. Very long story short:

We let them demonize Clinton for 24 years. The Clinton murders? The war against Gore? The endless crazy attacks by Chris Matthews? The misogyny of 2007/2008? The Benghazi lunacy of 2012? The first attack by Comey the God in July 2016? Maureen Dowd through the many long years?

We barely managed a peep of protest. (On the Maddow Show, they took Comey's side in July 2016!) Come November 2016, this mass of demonology let Donald J. Trump squeak by, following George W. Bush before him.

They demonized Clinton for 24 years, sometimes in baldly misogynist ways. After that, our team decided we're very strong on all aspects of MeToo!

We've gamboled and played for at least thirty years, and we're now in a very deep hole. Barring a major Hail Mary from Mueller, there's no clear route of escape from all the bullsh*t our lazy but deeply self-impressed while pitiful team has sown.

Your lizard is telling you that we're wrong. That's how we got to this place!

How will the Supreme Court turn out? We have no way of knowing. But the situation is very bad, and our team is inept, unknowing.

BREAKING: Everybody makes mistakes!

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2018

Liberal interests, in capable hands:
Everybody makes mistakes. We know that because Donald J. Trump has made one.

The rare event happened yesterday, at his Wisconsin rally:
TRUMP (6/28/18): You know, I just realized, the other day they told me. I didn't—

When we won the state of Wisconsin, it hadn't been won by a Republican since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. Did you know that? And I won Wisconsin, and I like Wisconsin a lot. But we won Wisconsin.


And Ronald Reagan, remember? Wisconsin was the state that Ronald Reagan did not win. And that was in 1952. And I've gotten to know the people here. They're incredible.
We're not entirely sure what that second reference to 1952 meant. But this was one of those rare mistakes by Donald J. Trump. The actual history goes like this:

Eisenhower did win Wisconsin in 1952. But as everyone knows, he won it again in 1956 as part of his second straight landslide.

Among other well-known Republicans, Nixon won the state in 1960, 1968 and 1972. And Ronald Reagan did so win Wisconsin, in 1980 and again in 1984.

Trump came close, but yesterday's claim fell a bit short of being exact. It was a rare mistake by the U.S. trade war commander.

Not long after that, another major political star made a somewhat peculiar mistake. It was Kirsten Gillibrand, current Great Democratic Hope Concerning Sincerity About Women's Issues.

She spoke last night with Chris Cuomo on CNN. He made it a point to be polite, even as Gillibrand flailed with the facts last year's confirmation vote for Justice Gorsuch, who has, just to be fair, never carried Wisconsin.

Gillibrand was already ignoring an accurate statement by Cuomo—a statement which tended to undercut her principle message. Then she turned to last year's vote on Gorsuch.

With giants like this in command in D.C., how can future fights go wrong? For the full transcript, click here:
GILLIBRAND (6/28/18): President Trump said, "I'm going to pick from this list of 25. and [overturning Roe] is my goal, and any one of these justices is going to overturn Roe v. Wade." He already made it very clear who he was going to choose, and why he was going to choose it.

So to think that you're going to have a normal process under this president who hasn't done anything normally at all, I think it is not—it's not a smart bet, because the truth is, he's not going to do it—

CUOMO: But Gorsuch talked that talk [about Roe v. Wade being settled law]—

GILLIBRAND: And nobody believed him. No one believed him.

CUOMO: He still got the votes.

GILLIBRAND: He didn't get a vote from one Democrat. And I believe now that we've seen what Gorsuch has done on this course—he's already undermined women's rights, he's already undermined union rights, he's already undermined basic civil rights in this country—I don't think people are going to trust that President Trump isn't going to do what he said he was going to do.

CUOMO: But didn't, didn't he— Are you right that he didn't get one vote? Didn't he get three? Didn't he get Manchin?

GILLIBRAND: He got no Democratic votes. No.

CUOMO: He didn't get Manchin, Heitkamp?

GILLIBRAND: He did not. They, they— They stood strong, and they passed it with a Republican votes.
By now, the analysts were cheering. Given the way the Democrats held the line on the Gorsuch vote, and with this brilliant strategist in charge, Donald J. Trump would rue the day Justice Kennedy ever retired!

We almost began to cheer too! But Cuomo continued to voice his doubts. More accurately, he gave her one more chance to get it right—and then, the backslide occurred:
CUOMO (continuing directly): I thought he got three, by the way.



You might be right, Chris. But I believe this Democratic Caucus will stand together...
Either way, it's obvious that the Democrats are going to win this fight!

Supposedly, Gillibrand is focused on women's issues above all. With strategic giants like this in charge, how can the future go wrong?

Our team is prepared to match Donald J. Trump every single step of the way! Last night, Gillibrand proved this important point as a befuddled Chris Cuomo looked on.

Note on tribal information: Conservatives are laughing at this today. Our team hasn't been told.

GAPS AND PLANS: How many kids would benefit?

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2018

Part 5—New York City is full of great kids:
How many kids would benefit?

Let's be a bit more precise:

How many kids in New York City would benefit from admission to high-powered academic programs of the type that are pursued in Gotham's eight "specialized high schools?"

According to the New York Times, 5.3% of New York City's high school kids attend those eight high-powered schools. How many additional kids would benefit from such programs? What would the ideal enrollment number be? What percentage of Gotham's kids would benefit from taking that challenge?

We can't answer that question, of course. Ultimately, there's no way that anyone could give a hard-and-fast number.

That said, the good news begins with Mayor de Blasio's current assessment. The mayor says that lots of New York City kids would benefit from such high-powered programs.

Anywhere except in this veil of tears, that assessment would seem like wonderful news. Beyond that, it would lead in an obvious direction:

We would decide to open more schools with those same high-powered programs. As we did, we might look for ways to lessen the sense that only the eight pre-existing schools are "elite" and "prestigious," "the best."

At any rate, we'd look for ways to let all those (great) kids be challenged and served by those challenging programs. Anywhere but in this veil of tears, that's what real humans would do. Those same real humans would also do this:

They'd look for ways to make sure that all the other kids—the kids who weren't the highest academic achievers—could also be challenged and served in appropriate ways, though not at that high-powered level.

Duh! Everybody can't be served by instruction at the highest-powered level! Except in this pitiful veil of tears, every human knows this.

It's also true that every kid in New York City has talents and endless personal worth. By definition, every person won't be ready for "advanced" academic work.

That said, we shouldn't restrict our attention to the kids who are ready for high-powered work. We should find ways to challenge and serve all the other kids too.

(As everyone knows, the greatest kids aren't always the highest academic achievers. Also, the highest achievers won't always be the ones who go on to serve.)

These are blindingly obvious observations. Now, let's return to this veil of tears, and to the mayor's plan.

The mayor wants to keep the eight "specialized schools," but change who gets to attend them. Full and complete puzzling stop.

Most simply put, he doesn't want to serve the additional kids who would benefit from high-powered programs. He wants to kick the Asian kids out, and bring black and Hispanic kids in. (None of this is the doing or fault of any of these kids.)

It's hard to believe that a mayor would ever make such an ugly proposal, but that's what de Blasio wants. It's hard to believe that an editorial board would think this was a good idea, but we're talking about the New York Times—about its low-powered board.

On Monday, the board published a giant, full-page editorial straight outta this veil of tears. Along the way, the reliably bumbling board failed to get its magnum opus posted in the normal ways online.

Even today, the editorial doesn't appear on the "Today's Paper" page for Monday's Times. Even today, you can't find it by scrolling back through the editorials on the Times' "Editorials" page.

Who except the New York Times bumbles through life in this way? Having floated that question, we want to proceed to a more basic question today:

How many additional Gotham kids would benefit from enrollment in those high-powered programs? How many additional high-powered seat does the New York City Public Schools need?

There's no precise way to answer that question. We'll tease you with some data below, but before we do, we want you to see the way the board keeps advancing a destructive, 50-year-old pseudo-liberal storyline:

We refer to the time-honored claim that the black and Hispanic kids are just as capable, as a general matter and on this day, as the white and Asian kids who the mayor wants to banish. We refer to the idea that it's all some giant mistake when we get the idea that some groups of kids are more academically advanced, as a general matter and on this day, as some other groups are.

We liberals have been pushing this poisonous notion since at least the 1960s. Over that fifty-year period, we seem to have developed a fuller understanding of the ways those "achievement gaps" come into existence, starting in the earliest days of life.

We seem to have developed a wider base of knowledge. But this is the upper-class New York Times, and the editors cling to their dogmas.

In Monday's editorial, the editors insist on spreading a modern version of this poisonous notion. They want us to think that Asian kids score better on the city's Specialized High School Admission Test because they've paid for "test prep."

In their gruesome editorial, the editors come disgracefully close to reviving xenophobic scripts about those inscrutable, shifty Orientals. Did Donald J. Trump write parts of this piece? At certain points in the editors' ludicrous screed, a sensible person might wonder.

Those inscrutable Asians! Readers, there they go again! They will literally go without food to take Our Kids' seats away!
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (6/25/18): In recent weeks, some Asian groups have protested outside City Hall and in Brooklyn, saying that Asian students will lose seats. Asian children are about 16 percent of the district’s student body but a majority at schools like Stuyvesant. Many come from families that have scrimped on essentials like food to pay for test prep. Such objections are understandable, but they don’t change the fact that the admissions policy is flawed and unfair to other children.
How can Our Kids compete with Those People when they're prepared to do that? Two paragraphs later, the editors recall the latest statement by Chancellor Malaprop:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: In an interview, the city’s new schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, argued that relying on a single test harmed all New Yorkers, including Asian families who spend scarce resources on test prep. “I’m sorry that the system has forced you to spend your time, your treasure on preparing your kids for that test,” he said. “Help is on the way.”
Chancellor Malaprop to Those People:

Help is on the way! We're booting your kids from our high-powered schools. On the brighter side, you'll get to save money on test prep!

Does Donald J. Trump write Malaprop's stuff? Inquiring minds start to wonder!

Meanwhile, notice this about the board's editorial. At no point do the editors attempt to support their insinuation—the insinuation that the Asian kids are taking Our Seats at the "best schools" because of all the points they gain from SHSAT "test prep" classes.

Such classes do exist in New York. People pay money for their kids to take them. That said, to what extent do those SHSAT-specific classes actually affect SHSAT scores?

Indeed, do they affect those test scores at all? The editors don't seem to know!

Earth to Gotham: To the extent that your test is affected by test prep, you're using a lousy test. But if you're going to suggest that "achievement gaps" on the SHSAT result from pay-to-play "test prep," you need to make some minor effort to show that your claim is accurate.

The editors don't bother to do that! That said, did we mention the fact that this is the New York Times?

In closing, though just for today, we want to show you three bundles of data. Two bundles may be new.

Do Asian kids do well on the SHSAT because they've taken SHSAT-specific test prep classes? Everything is possible! But here are those other punishing gaps, the ones you won't see in the Times:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Those are giant achievement gaps. That said, there are no Naep-specific "test prep" classes which explain those brutal gaps.

Are the Asian kids scoring so well because of their fiendish knowledge of test-taking strategies in general? Because of generalized "test prep" savvy?

Everything is possible! But this is where the gaps stood last year among Gotham's fourth-graders:
Average scores, Grade 4 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 245.82
Black students: 220.23
Hispanic students: 220.63
Asian-American students: 246.63
At the end of just the fourth grade, the white and Asian kids were roughly 2.5 years ahead. Were those gaps the result of test prep? And when, after more than fifty years, do we pseudo-libs stop pretending?

We're not suggesting that de Blasio is wrong, full stop, about black and Hispanic kids. Almost surely, there are plenty of black and Hispanic eighth-graders in New York who would benefit from admission to those high-powered high school programs.

We say that for a reason. We've been showing you average scores, but it isn't the average student who should, in a sensible world, go into those high-powered programs.

The average kid should be challenged and pushed hard too. But, in a sensible world, it's the above average student who benefits from "advanced" academic programs.

You might say it's the kids from the "(even more) talented tenth!" With that in mind, here's what New York City's Naep scores looked like last year at the 90th percentile:
Scores at 90th percentile, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White kids: 337.79
Black kids: 299.75
Hispanic kids: 309.51
Asian-American kids: 355.63

(National average, white kids: 292.16)
Ten percent of New York City's black eighth-graders scored above 299. Within that group, there are surely some high-performing kids who would benefit from the challenge of those high-powered programs—kids who aren't being admitted under current procedures.

That said, look where the Asian-American 90th percentile score landed! Are we sure we want to boot those kids so others can take their seats? Why would we want to do that?

As we close, let's return to first principles. In a sensible, rational, human world, we'd create enough high-powered programs so that every kid who would benefit from such instruction would attend a "specialized high school." By way of contrast, with a hat tip to Goofus:

In the world of the mayor's race war, we vow to freeze the number of seats, and we kick the Asian kids out.

In the world of the mayor's race war, the New York Times editorial board signs on to this weird approach. They barely bother to ask how their city's public schools might reduce or eliminate those brutal gaps. Instead, they find the latest way to pretend that those gaps don't really exist, and they kick the Asian kids out.

It's just test prep, these people cry. Then they light out for the Hamptons.

What could New York City's schools do to wipe those gaps away? In the meantime, what should New York City do for the 94.7% percent of its high school kids who can't sit in one of the seats at those eight "best schools?"

What should Gotham do to inspire, serve and challenge the kids who aren't the highest academic achievers? We'll address those questions in the weeks ahead.

The editors don't seem to know or to care. Did we mention that this is the Times?

Tomorrow: A legacy at The Atlantic

Where do data come from: For all Naep data, just click here. From there, you're on your own.

BREAKING: Governor Bentley has done it again!


The man refuses to stop:
On Monday evening, Rachel Maddow provided a valuable service.

She played videotape which had been smuggled out of a New York City facility where young immigrant children were being held away from their mothers.

The tape was brief; it involved one child. But that trembling little girl was maybe five years old, and the deeply piteous videotape made an important point about what has been done by our federal government.

Last night, thanks to Governor Bentley, Maddow was forced to travel a lower road. As she began her eponymous TV show, she was forced to return to the Bentley sex tape again:
MADDOW (6/27/18): And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

All right. He was the tallest ever member of the United States Senate, 6'9". His nickname was Big Luther, which is not a particularly original nickname when you are 6'9" and your name is Luther.

What else are they going to call you? Tiny?

He played varsity basketball at Tulane back in his college days, back the day of short basketball shorts. He eventually ended up as attorney general of the great state of Alabama when the Republican governor of Alabama found himself involved in a particularly visceral sex scandal.

This is the governor [photograph appears]. There were tapes. There were actual publicly released audio recordings of the governor canoodling with his mistress and talking to her quite bluntly about all the different ways he would like to canoodle with her.

Alongside the almost unbelievable sex scandal part of it, there were also some serious allegations of misuse of public funds that went along with that sex scandal. But that scandal involving the Alabama governor, it ultimately led to on impeachment investigation. He was a Republican governor. It was a Republican-run legislation. But this was a serious thing and they started an impeachment investigation against him.
Later, Rachel referred to that audiotape—the tape containing all the blunt talk about Bentley's widely varied canoodling—as "his horrific sex scandal."

This isn't Rachel's fault. In her dreams, the governor keeps coming to her and talking his "blunt talk."

He makes her think about his "canoodling," which was "particularly visceral." As almost anyone else would do, she goes on the air to punish him for his "horrific sex" conduct.

This is the way our team's brightest star regards romantic attraction. Can you see why Others may tend to believe that we're all totally nuts?

BREAKING: Abramson hammers the New York Times!


"Narcissistic," she says:
Bowing to international pressure, Jill Abramson has decided play on our team.

Abramson was executive editor of the New York Times in a three-year stint which ended in 2014. As Lloyd Grove reports at The Daily Beast, she has come down hard on the Times' recent conduct—and on its "narcissism."

In a recent tweet, Abramson scalded the Times for failing to cover the recent (winning) House campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She expanded on her views in an email to Grove. In part, the email said this:
ABRAMSON: I’m feeling about the NYT now like I did when my son cheated on a test in 10th grade. I loved him to death, believed he was a thoroughly wonderful young man, but he needed a course correction. So I left my desk at The NYT, where I was DC [Bureau] Chief, met his school bus and read him the riot act. He needed a course correction.

So does the’s making horrible mistakes left and right.
Oof. According to Abramson, the Times is like a 15-year-old who has lost his way!

What "horrible mistakes" by the Times does Abramson have in mind? As the email continued, she listed three:
ABRAMSON: Not covering the "stunning" upset of Joe Crowley. It’s the NYT that was undeservedly stunned, letting down its readers.

That horrible 3,000-word exposé on Ali Watkins [the Times reporter who’s caught up in a leak investigation involving her ex-boyfriend] that aired her sex life and conflicts...


[N]ew TV show plan to focus on personal feelings and experiences of NYT journalists covering news.

More narcissism: It’s always about us. Yikes.
We'd say this Monday's editorial was much worse than these offenses. That said, here's a few reactions:

The campaign: Should the Times have been aware of the (winning) Ocasio-Cortez campaign?

Dearest darlings! Use your heads! That campaign took place in Queens!

The TV show: We haven't watched the Showtime series, The Fourth Estate, which is all about the Times. (Neither has Abramson.)

It's our impression that the Times, like several other orgs, has been trying to counter the anti-press hatred pimped by Donald J. Trump. We'd watch the show if we had Showtime, but a charge is involved, so we don't.

The romance: We've just read the Times' 3400-word front-page report about Ali Watkins' romance. In her email, Abramson said the profile “read like a steamy romance novel in parts."

No kidding! What else is new?

We find the Watkins subject matter tedious, but the New York Times, like other orgs, loves this sort of thing. We had to laugh when we read this early passage from the Times report:
GRYNBAUM, SHANE AND FLITTER (6/25/18): Strikingly, the case against [Watkins' former boyfriend] brings together several of President Trump’s preoccupations: leaks, which he has railed about since taking office; Washington’s permanent bureaucracy, which he derides as the “deep state”; the news media, Mr. Trump’s favorite target; and the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.
Does the case bring together several of Trump’s preoccupations? Look who's talking! It also involves the modern press corps' principal preoccupation:

Who the heck is zoomin' who? And how many times has it happened?

Back to the narcissism! Grove quotes one more part of Abramson's email. In it, she describes her recent work at a selective college:
ABRAMSON: From four years of teaching at Harvard, so many of my students are interested in journalism, but they mostly want to write first-person, highly personal narratives about themselves. That may reflect their age. But I think there’s too much of that in journalism. It’s not about us. It’s about the world, and covering the world.
These kids today! On the other hand:

More and more, self-involvement bordering on narcissism has become a basic part of the modern news business. This is especially true on cable news, where self-involvement and personalization rather plainly seem to be part of the ratings game.

Rather plainly, gullible viewers are encouraged to think that the cable hosts are their friends. In this recent New York Times essay, Kat Stoeffel, and some early commenters, seem to be telling us that this project is working.

One last note about Watkins and the steamy romance. Warning! Prepare to have your lizard say that you should deny basic corporate reality, especially if it involves your imaginary cable news friends:

The Times report involves a romance between a very young female reporter and a man in his mid-50s who worked in a high position in the field the reporter was covering. We'll only mention this:

Cable news sometimes seems to swim in unusually young female journalists. Some of these folk seem to be very sharp. Some of these folk do not.

We'll take two guesses:

First, cable news likes to sell the visuals of young female flesh. Also, news orgs of all stripes may have learned that Washington's old coots, most of whom are old coot men, are more likely to take and return phone calls if they come from conventionally attractive young women.

Cable news occasionally seems to be awash in unusually young women. There doesn't seem to be a similar roster of unusually young men.

That said, cable news is a branch of corporate entertainment, and our corporate orgs have many horrible flaws. When Trump voters make this claim, we'd have to say that, just this once, they may even be right!

One last thoughtful suggestion: When people say something which is actually right, they should be told that they're right.

If you extend that one small courtesy—if you behave like a human just once—those same people may listen to you when you tell them they're wrong.

GAPS AND PLANS: Who will work on behalf of all kids and all schools?


Part 4—A big burlap bag of Joe Crowleys:
Where does talent come from?

In our nation's political history, the question has most often been asked about the rise of Abraham Lincoln. How did a person of his background end up writing the Second Inaugural Address, with its radical refusal to blame The Others for the things we ourselves have done?

Where did that astonishing level of talent come from? We found ourselves asking a similar question as we watched the online campaign ad of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a political statement which is brilliantly written and brilliantly performed.

If you haven't watched the tape, you should watch it today. The two-minute ad starts like this:
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Women like me aren't supposed to run for office.

I wasn't born to a wealthy or powerful family. Mother from Puerto Rico, Dad from the South Bronx. I was born in a place where your zip code determines your destiny.

My name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I'm an educator, an organizer, a working-class New Yorker.
She's a working-class New Yorker! "We deserve a champion," she dares to say in her ad.

If you haven't watched the ad, we'll strongly suggest that you do. We're omitting the passage which is most brilliantly composed—the poetic passage where Ocasio-Cortez asks, "Who has New York been changing for?"

Instead, we're moving directly to this passage, where she refers to "our schools:"
OCASIO-CORTEZ: It's time to fight for a New York that working families can afford. That's why I'm running for Congress.

This race is about people versus money. We've got people. They've got money.

It's time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same, that a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn't live here, doesn't send his kids to our schools, doesn't drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possibly represent us.
"A New York for the many is possible," the candidate eventually says. "It's time for one of us."

It's hard to deliver a message like that without seeming tribal, divisive. Among her other talents, Ocasio-Cortez has the type of demeanor which permits her to make such statements.

In the passages we've quoted, Ocasio-Cortez is criticizing Joe Crowley, the old-school pol who has represented her district in the House for the past twenty years.

She's saying he isn't one of us, that he's a corporate pol. He doesn't drink our water or breathe our air.

His kids don't go to our schools.

As it turns out, Ocasio-Cortez didn't go to our schools either, at least not during her high school years. The leading authority on her life offers this remarkable capsule of those teenage years:
She attended Yorktown High School [in suburban Westchester County, New York] from 2003 to 2007, and, while there, won second prize in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, with a research project on microbiology. As a result, the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT named a small asteroid after her: 23238 Ocasio-Cortez.
Where does talent come from? In this case, it led to the naming of an asteroid, though admittedly just a small asteroid, not long after the end of talented party's high school years.

(For a fuller account of this matter, see this profile by Daniel Malloy. To see a formal citation of the small asteroid 23238 Ocasio-Cortez, you can just click here.)

You rarely see talent of the type displayed in that two-minute ad. Let's return to the claim that the corporate Democrat, Joe Crowley, "doesn't send his kids to our schools."

The comment made us think of the ugly, horrible editorial in Monday's New York Times. We're inclined to say that the gruesome piece was composed by a big burlap bag of Joe Crowleys—by a burlap bag full or corporate squirrels who don't send their kids to those schools.

They also don't display the slightest interest in what goes on in those schools. The editors only seem to care about New York City's "best schools." They made this announcement in their headline, and in all that followed.

Preening and posing from spots in the Hamptons, the editors pretend to be trying to "desegregate" those "best schools." What this actually means is quickly clear:

They want to kick the Asians kids out. They want to replace the Asian kids with kids who are black and Hispanic.

This isn't the doing, or the fault, of any of those kids! But Mayor de Blasio, who should be ashamed, is currently trying to start a race war. In the process, the mayor is rising to say that his name is Joe Crowley too.

"I am Spartacus," a bunch of people once filmatically said. By way of contrast, the editors have now said that they're Joe Crowley. Their years of entanglement with wealth and fame culture have apparently left them unable to see the ugliness of what they're doing.

The editors want to kick the Asian kids out of those prestigious, high-powered schools. As you watch that two-minute ad, can you picture Ocasio-Cortez adopting some such approach?

For us, that picture doesn't compute at this point. During this longer interview tape, here's the way she describes her district:
OCASIO-CORTEZ: My community is the Bronx, Queens and Rikers Island. Our district is 70 percent people of color, and we've never had a person of color represent us in American history...

We are the first person of color, I believe, to run for the seat, in a district that is so predominantly and heavily immigrant, Hispanic, Latino, Bangladeshi, and so on.

And so, I'm really proud to be in this race, and I'm really proud to be giving people in the Bronx and Queens and Rikers an option where they don't feel like they have to sell out at the ballot box.
Do you get the feeling that this smiling presence would dump the immigrant Bangladeshi kids so other kids could take their seats at our eight "best schools?" Do you get the feeling she'd want to dump the kids who aren't "kids of color?"

Watching that tape, we don't get that impression! But in Monday's ridiculous editorial, a big bag of Crowleys made it clear that that's what they want to do.

Tomorrow, we'll continue our review of Monday's editorial. We'll have to postpone our review of the District 3 "desegregation plan" until the first two days of next week.

For today, we want to contemplate the question which arises from world history. What explains the mystery of talent? We refer to intellectual talent, and to talent of demeanor and outlook.

Lincoln's life has long been used to illustrate an important point—incomprehensible talent can arise anywhere. In this instance, a young person emerged from the Bronx by way of Yorktown High.

She acquired her first asteroid soon after that, then moved to the harder stuff.

Ocasio-Cortez seems to be a person of unusual talent. That said, every kid in New York City has talent and decency too.

People who aren't named Joe Crowley should be looking for real inclusion, and not just in eight schools. They should be looking ways to give all of New York City's kids the most challenging public school experience those many different kids can manage.

People who are named Joe Crowley will adopt a different stance. They'll instinctively focus on the "best schools." It will seem natural to think that The Other Schools don't even exist.

As they focus on the "best schools," they'll want to pretend that they're performing some sort of great work. As they start an ugly race war, they claim that they're pursuing "desegregation."

Ocasio-Cortez sent Crowley packing. Who will rid us pseudo-liberals of this unwise board?

Tomorrow: Decades of ways to pretend

Where does talent come from: We can think of one other time in recent years when we've seen talent like that. We refer to Malala's astounding speech at the U.N. when she turned 16.

BREAKING: Now they've even got Justice Kennedy!


A big difference between Them and Us:
Now it looks like Donald J. Trump will also replace Justice Kennedy.

This helps us contemplate a difference between Them and Us.

After yesterday's decision on the travel ban, many people called it a win for Mitch McConnell. All through Obama's final year, he refused to allow a vote on Judge Garland. In the end, the seat went to Justice Gorsuch, creating yesterday's 5-4 vote.

For the record, there's no assurance concerning the way a Justice Garland would have voted. Having said that, consider a very basic difference between Them and Us:

When Justice Scalia died in 2016, McConnell played the very long game. He refused to permit a vote all year, all based on the chance that Donald J. Trump would win.

Over Here, in our liberal tents, we took a different approach. We spent the year assuring ourselves that Trump could never win.

When Comey launched his first attack on Clinton, the Maddow Show actually took Comey's side in the matter. On a weekly basis, our greatest sachems kept showing us polls alleged to prove that Donald J. Trump couldn't win.

It was always possible that he could win, but we were having some good solid fun. This lasted right up to the last Friday night, when Professor Wang told Lawrence that nothing but a major weather event could produce a Donald Trump win.

True story!

We gamboled and played and we had lots of fun. Steve would stand before "the big board," sleeves rolled up, telling us, perhaps a bit like a carnival barker, that things looked very good.

Over There, in the other team's tents, McConnell maintained a long fight. We began our resistance on the day after Donald Trump won.

We've been this way for at least thirty years. Also this:

As a group, we're completely unable to see how inept we are.

BREAKING: Is it possible that some kids have been "lost?"


What, Us Worry, press says:
Is it possible that the federal government has "lost" some of the kids it separated from the children's parents during the recent "zero tolerance" operation?

That is, is it possible that the government won't have any way to know to whom some children belong? Won't know how to return the children to their actual parents?

Again and agin and again and again, people are making this suggestion on "cable news" programs. Yesterday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar seems to have said it's not true.

We base this on the Washington Post's news report about Azar's appearance before the Senate Finance Committee. Below, you see some excerpts from the Post's report:
ITKOWITZ (6/27/18): [Azar] told the Senate Finance Committee that if lawmakers find a legislative fix to a court ruling that bars children from being held in detention centers for longer than 20 days, then the families could be reunited immediately. Otherwise, he said, those children will need to wait for their parents to be either granted entry to the United States or deported.

“I cannot reunite them, though, while the parents are in custody because of the court order that doesn’t allow the kids to be with their parents for more than 20 days,” he said. “We need Congress to fix that.”


Asked about the slow pace of reunification, Azar explained that it’s a laborious task doing background checks and verifying family connections to ensure the kids aren’t turned over to traffickers.

He could not say how long it would take HHS to reconcile all the kids with their families.

Azar also couldn’t answer Wyden’s question about how many parents know where their kids are. But he said the Office of Refugee Resettlement has a portal that could locate their children “within seconds.”
It sounds like Azar is saying this:

The government knows where each child has been placed. Within seconds, the government could know how to locate any of the children who have been separated—would know how to connect any child with its mother or father.

Is that actually true? Cable news is full of suggestions to the contrary. In our view, even the least ridiculous news orgs are having a hard time clarifying, and focusing on, this most basic question.

How did the New York Times describe what Azar said? Amazingly, the paper didn't report his testimony in today's print editions.

To read what the Times reported on line, you can just click here. It seems to us that Robert Pear didn't focus on this basic question at all.

Is it possible that some of these kids have been "lost?" Especially in the case of babies and toddlers, is it possible that the federal government is holding some kids it will never be able to reunite with their parents?

It seems to us that this is the most basic question which has arisen in the course of this heinous operation. It seems to us that cable news, and other news orgs, are having a fairly hard time getting clear on this fact.

Editor's note, especially on cable: For maximum emotive effect, always say that the children in question were "ripped away" from their parents.

"Torn away" will do in a pinch.

GAPS AND PLANS: Mostly-white board decries mostly-white schools!


Part 3—Wants to kick Asian kids out:
This Monday morning, the New York Times published a full-page editorial about the New York City Public Schools.

Two days later, the editorial still doesn't appear in the "Today's Paper" listings for Monday's New York Times. A person who scanned Monday's newspaper through the listings on that page had no way—still has no way—to know that the full-page editorial ever appeared.

Two days later, the full-page editorial still doesn't appear. Two days later, no one seems to have noticed this—or it may be that nobody cares. But so it tends to go at the Times, our most foppish, least competent, most insouciant upper-class pseudolib newspaper.

There's much to learn from Monday's editorial. That said, it mainly instructs us about the mental and moral horizons of the Times board itself.

Who sits on the Times editorial board? On March 1, the Times published this apparent list, naming eleven members. Since that time, it seems that Michelle Cottle has been added to the board.

Assuming no one has left the board, that would bring the number to twelve. And how odd! Despite the board's deep interest in "desegregation," those twelve (apparent) members would be socially defined as follows:
Demographics of the Times editorial board:
Nine whites; two blacks; one Asian-American
That's the (apparent) makeup of the gang that wants to get rid of the Asian kids, but only in New York City's "best schools."

You'd think it would be fairly easy to learn who sits on this board. In fact, the Times approaches this matter in a chaotic way, as is generally the case within this very odd newspaper. That said:

As best we can tell from the March 1 board member bios, none of those eleven members has a journalistic background in public school or education reporting, and neither does Cottle. Only one of the eleven members listed education as one of his points of focus, and he listed two others points of focus. Among the five who listed points of specialization, this is what they presented:
Points of focus of board members:
Business, International Economics
New York State and Local Affairs
Foreign Affairs
International Affairs
Education, Criminal Justice, Economics
People, we're just saying!

On Monday morning, the editorial by this highly moral group started as shown below. This was the editors' opening paragraph. Warning! Embarrassment follows:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (6/25/18): Across the country, local efforts are at last underway to integrate schools that remain profoundly segregated more than half a century after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Nowhere is that work more important than New York City, where the school system is not only the nation’s largest but also its most segregated.
Really? The New York City Public Schools is the nation's "most segregated school system?"

Well actually, no! Prepared for something quite typical.

The editorial provides a link, in that opening paragraph, to a well-known report by UCLA's Kucsera and Orfield. The report, which appeared in March 2014, carried this well-known title:
New York State’s Extreme School Segregation
Let's be sure to note that one key word, because the editors missed it.

Long story short. The March 2014 report explicitly says that New York State "has the most segregated schools in the country" among the fifty states. Kucsera and Orfield dropped that bomb on the schools of New York State, not of New York City.

You may be surprised to read that claim, which is made about New York State, not about New York City. Within the realm of popular journalism, the claim was treated as surprising in real time. This was the general take:

New York State has the most segregated schools, not Mississippi or Alabama!

To some extent, the claim about New York State turns on the exotic definitions of "segregation" which have come to dominate academic treatment of the subject. But the claim was made about New York State, not about New York City.

Four years later, the Times' reliable Keystone Cops came along and wrote that first paragraph. It was part of a deeply concerned, full-page editorial which they somehow failed to get posted online.

They opened their piece with an obvious error, as is the way at the Times. Then, the piece didn't get posted. Meanwhile, the board seems to be composed of twelve members, nine of them white, though it's amazingly hard to find out.

(Go ahead! Give it a try.)

So things go at the Times. With respect to the error about New York State, such errors are rather typical of New York Times public schools work. Consider this passage from Winnie Hu's recent report on the plan to "desegregate" the middle schools of District 3, one of the city school system's 32 community school districts:
HU (6/6/18): The plan that was selected will set aside 25 percent of the seats at middle schools for students who qualify for free and reduced lunches, a widely accepted measure of poverty, and who are considered low performing based on their final fourth-grade English and math course grades and their scores on state English and math tests.
We'll return to the District 3 plan in the next two days, focusing on the parts of the plan which almost make it sound like an Onion parody. But please note:

However "widely accepted" errors may be within the realm of the upper-end press corps, eligibility for the federal free and reduced price lunch program (FRPL) is not a "measure of poverty." This fact is known to the New York Times, though possibly not to Hu or her editors.

Many kids who receive free lunch are indeed living in families whose incomes place them below the federal poverty level. But eligibility for the program extends well beyond that income level.

Technically, a student is eligible if his family income is less than 185 percent of the poverty level. In practice, family incomes within the program almost surely extend above that, to double the poverty level or beyond.

Everybody knows these facts—except education reporters and editors at the New York Times. In fairness to Hu, she isn't an education specialist. Her feckless employer is too uncaring, too insouciant, to bother with the tiresome chore of hiring or developing such journalists.

Does Hu's error make any actual difference? Does it make a difference when the editors conflate a (well-known) claim about New York State with a claim about New York City?

Does it make a difference when the editors compose a fiery, full-page editorial, then somehow fail to get it posted in its normal location, where readers might actually see it? Does it matter when the editors rail about "profound segregation" in public schools while maintaining a membership which, by their own overwrought definition, qualifies for that same designation?

Do these things make any difference? Only if you think that elementary competence matters.

Plainly, it makes a difference when the board composes an editorial of the type it presented this week—a mindless, sometimes ugly piece which is mainly distinguished by its puzzling detachment from the events it claims to discuss.

What's odd about the board's "hidden editorial?" Ahead of anything else, we would point to this:

The editors seem to believe that many kids in the New York City Public Schools would benefit from the high-powered academic programs taught at the city's eight "specialized high schools."

Indeed, the editors say, early on in their piece, that admission procedures to these schools have been "leaving untold numbers of New York’s brightest children behind." The editors seem to believe that Gotham is full of kids who are just as bright at the lucky duckies who get admitted to those high-powered schools under current procedures.

If that's true, that's extremely good news. Trust us, though—none of those editors have any idea whether their statement is accurate.

How many additional kids would benefit from the high-powered programs taught in those high-powered schools? The editors seem to suggest that the number is large—but then, they career off the rails.

How weird! Rather than suggest a way to open additional high-powered programs to help serve all these capable students, the editors restrict their gaze to those eight "best schools." Instead of suggesting that New York City open additional high-powered programs and schools, they start looking for ways to replace the Asian kids in those schools with kids who are black and Hispanic.

In this benighted move, they follow Mayor de Blasio, who seems to be looking for a way to start an exciting new race war. To all intents and purposes, he wants to retain the current number of high-powered admission slots while changing the identities of the kids the city squeezes into them.

Most simply put, he wants to get rid of the Asian kids and bring in black and Hispanic kids. He wants to keep the number of high-powered while changing who gets to sit in them.

This ridiculous war of the all against all isn't the fault of New York City's students. It reflects the puzzling judgment of Gotham's mayor—and of the New York Times, high-minded editorial board.

In Monday's editorial, the editors go to heroic lengths to justify the ugly, divisive proposal de Blasio has made. Simply put, the editors are too dumb, and too detached, to point the way to the better solution:

If that many kids are really that capable, New York City needs to create more high-powered programs and schools!

How many black and Hispanic kids would do well at Stuyvesant High? We don't have the slightest idea. Neither do the editors.

That said, if a lot of such kids exist, that is excellent news! Decent people would look for ways to include and challenge such kids without denying seats at the table to the Asian-American kids.

The giants of the editorial board avoided such obvious thoughts. They want to keep those eight "best schools," and they want to squeeze certain kids out.

Trust us. The editors have no earthly idea what they're talking about. They signal their incompetence and their detatchment right in that opening paragraph.

They signaled their mindlessness in the headline they placed on their piece. They pretended that they're "integrating" schools, but that only "the best schools" need apply.

Politicians sometimes behave in these ways. So does this hapless Times board.

Tomorrow: What isn't "segregation" today? Also, that District 3 plan!

Concerning New York State: Does New York State "have the most segregated schools in the country" as compared to the other 49 states?

For our money, Kucsera and Orfield traffic in some exotic definitions of "segregation." We think this practice tends to spread a lot more heat than light.

That said, to see their claim, you can just click here. Scroll to the Executive Summary on page vi. Read the first paragraph.

In real time, journalists understood what the professors had said about New York State. Four years later, the editorial board doesn't. That's how it goes at the Times.

BREAKING: Muslim ban leaves a few billion holes!

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2018

Our liberal elites in action:
We lived our whole life without understanding how tribal, and unintelligent, our species actually is.

We actually thought we had an idea. We hadn't seen anything yet!

Watching "liberal cable" in recent weeks, the truth has been hard to miss. Today, we want to warn you that the commander's "Muslim ban" may have a few billions holes.

The corporate actors on liberal cable are talking that "Muslim ban" talk. We checked to see if Trump's newly-approved measure might have missed a Muslim or two.

Sure enough! Among many others, citizens of the countries listed below aren't affected by the ban. A few Muslims may yet sneak through. Numbers are approximate:
Number of Muslims in countries unaffected by "Muslim ban"
Indonesia: 228 million
Pakistan: 198 million
India: 189 million
Banglsdesh: 148.6 million
Nigeria: 95.3 million
Egypt: 87.3 million
Turkey: 79 mllion
Algeria: 40.2 million
Sudan: 39.0 million
Iraq: 38.8 million
Afghanistan: 34.0 million
Morocco: 33.6 million
Saudi Arabia: 31.9 million
Ethiopia: 30 million
Tanzania: 19.4 million
Malaysia: 19.2 million
Mali: 15.7 million
The list continues from there, but perhaps we've established the point. Several of those 1.3 billion Muslims (or so) could still sneak past the ban!

For the record, we're not saying the measure in question was a good idea. We're saying something different:

We're saying the disasters of the past thirty years stem in large part from the sheer haplessness of our own liberal tribe and especially of our liberal "journalistic" elites.

They're yammering all over cable today. In their corporate tribalism, they're a portrait of Trump-related death and destruction to come.

In their loud insistent fatuity, they're a portrait of How Trump Got There. They're a promise of worse things to come.

On the bright side, their ratings are good.

BREAKING: No Distraction (or Bait) Left Behind!

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2018

Yesterday's leading distraction:
We the people have lots of important matters to get clear about.

Take the Southern border. How many people could explain what the policy was, and how it worked, as of April 1 of this year?

Under the recent "Zero Tolerance" policy, how many kids got placed in those cages? How long were they in those cages, as opposed to more felicitous settings? Most important of all, have you seen any news org attempt to define and report the key question:

Is it possible that the federal government has actually "lost" some kids?

For ourselves, we haven't seen that question defined and reported in an authoritative way. Last Friday night, by way of contrast, we saw Lawrence O'Donnell spend the last half of his program clowning around with TV's Tom Arnold as that basic question went unaddressed.

(The clowning ate 21 minutes of "interview" time, commercial breaks not included.)

We're now a broken, entertainment-drenched, partisan culture in virtually every respect. The basic law of our entertainment-based journalism has become this:

No Distraction (or Bait) Left Behind!

Yesterday, the key, highly entertaining distraction involved Sarah Sanders' visit to the Red Hen. Let us tell you what we saw during two visits to the Washington Post's web site.

The first visit occurred around 3 PM. High up on the site's front page, we encountered these six headline/links. Because we care about your sanity, we aren't providing the links:
Post offerings around 3 PM Eastern:
The Fix: Maxine Waters shows why the Sanders-Red Hen story is extremely important

Trump takes aim at Waters after she calls for public harassment of his Cabinet

Analysis: Did restaurant violate Sanders’s rights when it kicked her out?

Did President Trump defame the Red Hen?

Rep. Waters on Trump administration: 'Tell them they’re not welcome'
Play Video

Virginia restaurant owner takes a stand against Sarah Sanders
Play Video
Around 3 PM, the Post was offering six different ways to explore this entertaining event. No distraction had been left behind!

We returned to the Post site around 6 PM. We found this new set of offerings, also high up on the site's front page:
Post offerings around 6 PM Eastern:
No, D.C.’s Red Hen didn’t ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave. The restaurant is still taking heat.

‘NOT THAT RED HEN’: Critics slam distant eateries with similar names and logos

The greatest threat from the Red Hen flare-up has nothing to do with civility

Think before you mob (an op-ed column about the Red Hen)
In two visits to the Post site, we were offered ten different ways to kill time and lose ourselves in the excitement of the Red Hen. This represents the basic problem with the 24-hour "news cycle."

As of today, we still couldn't answer a lot of questions about policy at the Southern border. But land o' goshen! We've been offered so many ways to entertain ourselves with the incident at the Red Hen!

Why is our culture lying in tatters? We'd list talk radio, partisan cable, partisan Internet and social media as four principal offenders. That said, we'd also list the 24-hour "news cycle."

Round-the-clock "news" leads to round-the-clock bullsh*t. No distraction, no bait left behind!

GAPS AND PLANS: The editors address "the best schools!"

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2018

Part 2—The Others can just go hang:
The New York City Public Schools is divided into 32 or 34 districts, depending on which document you're reading.

For a map of the 32 contiguous geographic districts, you can just click here. But you get the general idea.

District 3 is only one of those 32 contiguous districts. We mention this for a reason.

At present, the New York Times is very excited about a pair of "desegregation plans." One of these plans would "integrate" the middle schools of District 3, one of those 32 districts.

The other plan was lavishly praised in a full-page editorial in yesterday's print editions. This plan would "integrate" eight of New York City's high schools—eight schools, of the more than 400 high schools the giant school system runs.

The editorial ran from the top of yesterday's editorial page all the way to the bottom. Accompanied by a large photograph and two semi-bewildering graphics, it consumed the day's full editorial section.

The editorial ran 1238 words. It appeared beneath this instructive headline:
Integrate New York's Best Schools
So typical! The editors don't want to "integrate" all the schools. Only the schools which are "best!"

It's hard to fathom the moral blindness which puts a headline like that into print. Truly, the editors seem to be out of their silk (sheet)-pickin' minds.

That said, the editorial provides a useful map to the ground of contemporary upper-class pseudo-liberalism. And while we're at it, let us say that those much-maligned Trump voters have been, in this one respect, right.

The editorial helps us see the moral squalor, and the comical blindness, which infests modern elites. In our view, Trump voters are wrong in almost all other ways. But to the extent that they claim that these elites have pursued a fake culture built upon fake values, to that extent they've been right.

(Beware the "Creeping Dowdism," Katherine Boo wrote in 1992. Katherine Boo was painfully right. For excerpts, just click here.)

You can peruse the Times editorial here; for unknown reasons, it still hasn't appeared as part of Monday's "Today's Paper" listings. But before we look at what the editors said, let's return to our own thoughtful remarks about the sweep of the two "desegregation plans" this foppish newspaper currently loves.

The New York Times is deeply in love with this pair of plans. But one of the plans would only affect the middle schools in one of the school system's 32 districts—and even in that handful of schools, it would affect enrollment only to a limited extent.

The second plan which the New York Times loves would "integrate" eight of the city's high schools. When they described this highly limited plan in a June 6 news report, Harris and Hu offered this account of those schools' overall enrollment:
HARRIS AND HU (6/6/18): The specialized schools carry enormous symbolic weight in the city, and a seat in one of them is seen as a glittering prize. They are among the most distinguished schools in the city, some on par with elite and expensive private schools, and they offer a real pathway out of the working class for many families.

Nonetheless, their impact is actually quite narrow. Of the more than 300,000 high school students citywide, just 16,000 attend these schools. And there are many other schools that screen students academically, like Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Manhattan, where just 16 percent of students are black or Hispanic. Sixty-four percent of the students there are white, and just 21 percent of its students are poor.
If those numbers are accurate, the editors want to "integrate" eight high schools out of more than 400. If those numbers are accurate, the schools they want to "integrate" serve something like 5.3% of the city's high school students.

In other words, these lofty "desegregation plans" affect a tiny percentage of this giant school system's students. As they editors posture and preen, they throw the giant majority of New York City Public Schools kids under that big yellow bus—a big yellow bus which gets left in the dust as the editors speed to the Hamptons of a bright, shining June weekend.

In truth, these "desegregation plans" "desegregate" nothing at all. To the extent that they'll change enrollment patterns in a handful of schools, they'll affect very few of this school system's 1.1 million kids.

That said, the New York Times is deeply in love with these overblown plans, one of which is almost comical in certain respects. The editors are in love with those plans—and, as you may already have heard, they refuse to show you this:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
We keep showing you those scores because the New York Times won't. Later this week, we'll show you the scores for those four groups at the 90th percentile.

Those data come from the National Asssessment of Educational Progress (the Naep), the venerable, federally-run program which is universally described as the gold standard of domestic educational testing.

Judged by a standard, very rough rule of thumb, those data define gigantic achievement gaps between those groups of Gotham kids. Those gaps have punishing consequences—but the editors, fixed on "desegregation," aren't going to bore you with piddle like that.

(Also, data like those are embarrassing. For that reason, they get disappeared.)

The editors are never going to show you data like those. They want to address admission procedures to the "best," most prestigious schools. Everyone else can go hang in the yard. To the editors, nothing else matters.

In our view, yesterday's giant editorial is a conceptual mess. It's also a road map to the mental world of the noxious, upper-class elite which can tell you how to get to sleep on a warm summer's night, but refuses to address the basic needs of the many struggling kids found in their own city's schools.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at various aspects of that editorial. On Thursday, we'll look at the the District 3 "desegregation" plan. certain aspects of which are almost Onion-level perverse.

For today, we'll finish with yesterday's headline as we cite its two basic parts. In the New York Times print edition, that lofty headline said this:
Integrate New York's Best Schools
That headline constitutes a road map to the editors' minds. We'll direct you to two points:

First, these schools aren't being "integrated" or "desegregated" in any normal sense of those terms. But the central conceit of modern pseudo-liberalism is this:

It's still 1958, and we're bravely marching along next to Dr. King.

Luckily, it isn't 1958. It's June 2018. At present, we liberals are bravely doing exactly nothing at all.

Nothing is being "desegregated" in these ballyhooed plans. But when these posers arrive in the Hamptons, they very much like to pretend.

We also direct you to this. The editors don't even bother to pose about all New York City schools. They only care about the best schools—about their city's prestigious, elite public schools.

Kids in the other schools can just go hang in the yard! This is very much who and what we modern liberals are.

We've been this way for a very long time. As has always been true in the realm of the tribe, we're unable to see this about ourselves—to see this obvious fact.

Tomorrow: What the editors said, including this pitiful quote of the fortnight:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (6/25/18): Some opponents of the plan have also said the city should focus on improving education at schools already attended by black and Latino students. (Of course, the city ought to do that, too.)...
"Of course," the editors say. The city should improve education where Those Kids go to school too!

Literally, that's offered as a parenthetical remark—as a mid-paragraph aside! Who except the New York Times could be so perfectly unaware?

So it goes in the world of these amazingly foppish elites. In this one sense, we're forced to say that Trump voters may possibly, on the rare occasion, have perhaps been a tiny bit right.

BREAKING: The obvious point we missed!

MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2018

Why that column appeared:
Earlier today, we puzzled about the puzzling op-ed column in today's New York Times.

Why would a newspaper publish that column? That was the question we asked.

Soon after, the answer came to us. It appeared as if in a dream!

Duh! The Times is currently deeply invested in "desegregating" a handful of Gotham schools. The paper's invested in pretending that this is powerful medicine. (Which it pretty much isn't.)

Some middle-class parents in District 3 have questioned one of the plans. They've even done the unforgivable—they've actually raised a couple of points which make a bit of sense.

Should parents be allowed to do that? Should parents be able to disagree with the high-minded powers that be?

A guess! That column was published to help us see how bad such people are. More on the Gotham plans all week, not excluding the parents' objections.

BREAKING: Word-for-word from the New York Times!

MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2018

The end of the road for the West:
As you may have heard, it's all anthropology now.

For at least thirty years, our society has been descending into the war of the all against all. It has also been descending into the inviting realm of the utterly foppish, silly, ridiculous, dimwitted, loony and dumb.

No modern org is as silly and foppish as the New York Times. The famous newspaper proved it again, in spades, with its revealingly ludicrous "Here to Help" feature on Thursday, June 14.

"Here to Help" is a daily, hard-copy feature on the Times' "reimagined" page A3. The Times redesigned this utterly silly, jaw-dropping page more than a year ago. The entire page seems designed to let us see one of two things—

How dumb the New York Times thinks we are. Or how dumb the Times itself is.

On June 14, the Here to Help feature tackled a difficult modern problem. How can a subscriber get to sleep if his or her bedroom is too warm, even with the AC on?

You probably think we're misstating that day's "Here to Help" objective. If you have air conditioning, and you know how to turn it on, what are the odds that your bedroom will be so warm that you'll need further help?

Who could actually have that problem? Your question makes perfect sense. But, this being the New York Times, the feature started like this:
Here to Help

When the temperature rises, it doesn't matter if you have air conditioning or get a great breeze through the open windows; it's tough to get cool enough to fall and stay asleep. If you can't (or won't) buy a bunch of stuff to keep your bedroom cool, there are a lot of things you can do without spending money at all. ALAN HENRY
"It doesn't matter if you have air conditioning; it's tough to get cool enough to fall and stay asleep?"

Obviously, that sounds untrue. But that's the way the June 14 Here to Help feature started.

At that point, The Crazy took charge. Alan Henry listed four ways to get cool enough to nod off. This first technique was, by far, the least crazy of the bunch:
Build a homemade "air-conditioner." Fill a bowl with ice and place it in front of a room fan. The breeze over the slowly melting ice will send chilled water vapor into the air in front of the fan. Combined with the fast-moving air, it will give you a nice, chilly breeze.
Now you have your AC on—and you have a fan blowing air over a bowl filled with ice.

Henry wasn't certifiable yet. But as we said, this was page A3! So our second tip went like this:
Put your sheets in the freezer. This one’s low-tech, but it works surprisingly well if you’re willing to make your bed before you settle in for the night. Pop your sheets—or even just your fitted sheet or top sheet—into a resealable plastic bag and into the freezer. When it's bedtime, you'll be rewarded with a cool set of sheets you can put on the bed and enjoy—at least until the sheets warm up from your body heat, of course.
Just pop your sheets in the freezer! Now you have the AC on, and you get to snuggle in between two ice-cold sheets!

Has anyone ever done that? Everything's possible, of course. As if to prove that very point, Henry proceeded to this:
Sleep "Egyptian style." It works by ditching a blanket or comforter for a top sheet alone, and then dousing that top sheet in cold water before bed. Wring out the sheet until it’s just slightly damp, but still cool. Then curl up under it and enjoy the cool sheet against your skin while you fall asleep.
Interesting! For starters, it sounds like, if you're hot, you should ditch your blanket or comforter!

Who else would ever have thought of that? But Henry didn't stop there!

If you've followed this third instruction, you have your AC blasting away and you're on your frozen bottom sheet. Making it even easier to nod off, you've curled up under a top sheet which you've doused in cold water!

(On-line, Henry adds a note of caution: "If waking up to clammy sheets bothers you, this may not be for you.")

For some people, the top-and-bottom wet/frozen sheets, mixed with the air conditioning, still may not be enough. This was Henry's fourth tip:
Fill a water bottle with ice water and take it to bed. Grab a hot water bottle (the silicone kind that you’d normally fill with hot water) and fill it with a combination of cold water and ice. Wrap it in a towel or other absorbent cloth, and keep it near your feet while you sleep. Like the other methods on this list, as the ice melts and the water warms up, it will lose effectiveness, but it will keep you cool enough to fall asleep, and hopefully to fall asleep.
At this point, you have your AC on; you're on a frozen top sheet. You doused your top sheet with cold water—and you have an ice-cold "hot water bottle" cooling off your feet.

We haven't changed a single word from the June 14 hard-copy Times. We've reproduced its text word-for-word, from the top to the bottom.

Our assessment:

A newspaper which publishes matter like this is plainly involved with The Crazy. In some significant, puzzling way, that newspaper has perhaps unknowingly made a pact with pluperfect foppish inanity.

This Hamptons-based newspaper lost its way a very long time ago. It's very hard for liberals to see this, partly due to the newspaper's powerful brand, partly because we ourselves aren't overwhelmingly sharp.

That said, this foppish inanity runs all through this ludicrous upper-class newspaper. Katherine Boo tried to warn us, but we were too dumb to understand, and the Dowdism kept creeping on.

Source material: We've shown you every single word of the June 14 hard-copy feature.

Online, the feature is more detailed. Before the A3 editor cleaned it up, it was a very tiny bit less completely nuts.

For more on Stone-Cold Alan Henry, you can just click here. This is our modern upper-end press corps. Are you surprised Trump's in charge?

BREAKING: Affluent parents do it again!

MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2018

So does the New York Times:
The New York Times has published some strange op-ed columns in its time.

This morning, the puzzling paper has published one of its strangest yet.

The essay was written by two sociology professors and one graduate student. It appears beneath this fiery headline:
How Entitled Parents Hurt Schools
Darn those entitled parents! Near the start of their essay, the professors outline the situation—a situation which, at least as described, makes little apparent sense:
LAREAU, WEININGER AND COX (6/25/18): [E]conomic segregation, which is more pronounced among families with children, [sometimes] creates public school districts where affluent families predominate. This can lead to trouble in schools, but of a distinct kind. Motivated by a fierce desire to protect their children and themselves from difficulty, and armed with a robust sense of entitlement as well as ample economic, cultural and social resources, affluent parents can create conflict and interfere with school districts on a scale that is rarely acknowledged.

We saw this firsthand during the research for our recent study of an affluent school district in the Northeast.
We call this district Kingsley, to preserve the anonymity of the interviews we conducted with families and school officials.
Darn those affluent parents, with their "robust sense of entitlement!"

Perhaps you think you already know the shape of the upcoming story. Almost surely, you don't.

As they continue, the professors describe a situation which unfolded in an affluent school district which runs two (2) high schools. (The number is revealed here.)

The district decided to change attendance boundaries for its two (2) high schools. Here's what happened next:
LAREAU, WEININGER AND COX (continuing directly): As of the 2010 census, more than a third of households in the district had an annual income of $150,000 or more, and the median home value exceeded $450,000. More than 70 percent of adult residents had at least a bachelor’s degree, over twice the national average. Kingsley was also extremely successful academically. It was a “destination district,” with average SAT scores nearly 250 points above the state average on the 2,400-point scale.

We started visiting this understand how parents decide where to live and send their children to school. After the study had begun, Kingsley administrators began the process of redrawing boundaries for the district’s [two] high schools to balance attendance numbers. Administrators, of course, don’t want children crowded into one school while there are empty seats in classrooms in another. Since they cannot control where parents live within the district, they sometimes reassign certain neighborhoods’ students from one school to another. This provoked an outcry among many of the parents, which we documented.

At no point was there a suggestion, by parents or administrators, that the educational quality of one of the two high schools was worse. However, the reassignment would have increased some students’ travel time, by an average of about 10 minutes.

The reassignment process lasted for almost a year. Once the district began releasing proposals, there were vigorous protests, which led to revised proposals and new protests.
The irate eggheads continue from there, describing the chaos which resulted from the parents' protests. But why should anyone, including Times readers, care about this alleged string of events? What issues were at stake?

Here's why we ask those questions:

There is no sign in this report that these parental protests involved issues of race or income. There is no sign that one of these high schools was more prestigious than the other.

Why did parents oppose the new attendance lines? The professors describe no reason other than the increase in travel time to and from school each day.

From the professors' report, it's hard to see why parents would have been so upset, if indeed they were. But there is no sign that conventional matters of race or class or other invidious advantage were involved in their actions.

Why then is this the most prominent op-ed column in today's New York Times? (In hard copy, it's accompanied by a visual.) Indeed, why is this puzzling essay in the New York Times at all?

The professors seem to be deeply upset by the "opportunity hoarding" of these affluent parents. But in this particular case, what "opportunity" were the parents "hoarding?" According to the professors' account, there was no apparent difference in opportunity between the two affluent high schools at all.

Why in the world did the New York Times decide to publish this drivel? We'll suggest one possible answer:

The New York Times isn't real sharp.

With that possibility duly noted, we now ask another question. Why were the professors so upset by the protests they describe?

Good lord! To read the professors' overview of their study, you can just click this. Under the bold-faced heading "Findings/Results," the irate professors offer this warning to the world:
District administrators were subject to a torrent of “data” and “research findings” that parents used to criticize the district’s proposed plans. Parents frequently employed their professional expertise to directly challenge arguments put forth by officials in order to justify proposed policies. Furthermore, they drew on elaborate interpersonal networks in order to pool complementary forms of expertise and to mobilize large numbers of like-minded residents. Behind their challenges lay a sense of entitlement that rendered them unwilling to defer to the authority of the administration to make decisions concerning the needs of the system. While no single criticism was decisive, the ongoing challenges to proposed policies forced the district into a permanently defensive posture, resulting in a reduction of the board’s ability to use its own expert knowledge to decide which institutional policies would best serve students’ needs.
Imagine! Parents "employed their professional expertise to challenge arguments put forth by officials!" They even used data to
criticize the school district's plans!

How dare those parents do such things? How dare these parents challenge school officials' "expert knowledge?"

Conservatives routinely cite lunacy of this type to warn voters about the tyranny of the elites. In this case, a couple of pointy-headed professors are troubled because some "privileged" parents dared oppose the judgment of the administrators they employ.

According to the professors, this conduct displayed these privileged parents' "robust sense of entitlement." Only in the New York Times would such piddle make it to print.

Coming this afternoon: The Times helps us learn how to get to sleep. Warning! Extremely strange ideas!