BREAKING: How did the latest discussion start?


We may disagree with Drum:
How did the latest discussion start—the discussion about Donald J. Trump's war on birthright citizenship?

For Kevin Drum's take, click here. Frustrated assessment by Drum: "It started with a reporter who thought he was being clever."

Everything is possible! That said, our own best guess might go something like this:

"It started with a reporter who asked a question Trump staffers had told him to ask."

Jonathan Swan is very bright. To us, his aspect seemed a bit unusual when he popped that question.

BREAKING: Things their mothers and grandmothers said!


The one thing our own mother told us:
As it turns out, mothers and grandmothers have said the darnedest things! We say this after encountering anecdotes from several contemporary candidates or semi-candidates.

Kamala Harris is one such person. She reports this bit of advice:

“My mother used to tell me, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things. Make sure you are not the last.’ ”

Her mother didn't say it just once. Her mother used to say that to her. She said it on a regular basis!

Our own sainted mother wasn't like that. We can think of almost nothing she ever said in the general area of wisdom or advice. One exception would be her prediction concerning PBS.

One day, in the mid-1950s, we were down at [NAME WITHHELD]'s house. He went on to be the only person to serve as president of the Harvard literary magazine, The Advocate, for two separate years.

Learned Hand never pulled it off. Neither did James Agee. Only NAME WITHHELD accomplished this feat—in his sophomore and junior years!

Almost surely, [NAME WITHHELD]'s mother deserves the credit for this.

Mrs. NAME WITHHELD was always generating ways for us neighborhood kids to improve ourselves intellectually. One day, she told us about the exciting new TV station which would soon be on the air.

She told us we'd be able to learn all sorts of things from this exciting new channel's educational programs. There wouldn't be any stupid shows of the type we were seeing elsewhere. Presumably, she was announcing the birth of WGBH, Boston's PBS station.

Mrs. NAME WITHHELD'S presentation filled us with childish ardor. We rushed home to tell our own mother about the exciting new channel.

We described the exciting educational shows the new channel would be offering. "Tuh," our sainted mother said. "Tuh! You won't like that!"

Our sainted mother was like that. In fairness, we can't say she was totally wrong on that one particular point.

TREMENDOUSLY DANGEROUS TIMES: How dangerous are these dangerous times?


Bruni delivers the mail:
How dangerous are these dangerous times? In this morning's New York Times, Frank Bruni delivers the mail.

We agree with your complaints! In 1999 and 2000, as the New York Times' Bush reporter, Bruni played an obvious role in getting us to this place. He tilted toward fawning coverage of Candidate Bush even as his counterpart, Katharine Seelye, was way over the line in her savaging of Candidate Gore.

Some editor or editors let this absurd imbalance stand. In our view, Bruni stayed within the bonds of reasonable coverage, though only barely. Seelye was a hundred miles over the line, in the opposite direction.

That absurdly unbalanced coverage helped get us where we are. That said, Bruni warns us about our present danger in his current column. His hard-copy headline says this:
The Internet Will Be the Death of Us
In truth, it isn't just the Net. But that isn't a bad place to start.

In many ways, Bruni's column traces familiar steps which many others have traced. That said, last week's horrific behaviors, by one crazed bomber and two crazed gunmen, give his column new life.

He warns about the way the Internet lets disordered people feed and fuel their disorders. It lets disordered people connect with their relatively small but deeply disordered and deeply dangerous tribes.

In this way, Bruni says the Internet has the "power to cast rogue grievances as legitimate obsessions." He says the Internet has the power to "give prejudices the shimmer of ideals."

Through this process, some people who are deeply disordered may end up deciding to act. In this passage, Bruni describes the ways of our own Frankenstein's monster:
BRUNI (10/31/18): Technology has always been a coin with two sides: potential and peril. That’s what Mary Shelley explored in “Frankenstein,” which is celebrating its 200th birthday this year, and it has been the main theme of science fiction ever since.

The internet is the technology paradox writ more monstrous than ever. It’s a nonpareil tool for learning, roving and constructive community-building. But it’s unrivaled, too, in the spread of lies, narrowing of interests and erosion of common cause. It’s a glorious buffet, but it pushes individual users toward only the red meat or just the kale. We’re ridiculously overfed and ruinously undernourished.

It creates terrorists. But well shy of that, it sows enmity by jumbling together information and misinformation to a point where there’s no discerning the real from the Russian.
Later, Bruni quotes a statement by Apple's Tim Cook—a statement Cook made before last week's disasters. How has the Internet's downside worked? Coining a useful term, Cook lamented the abuse of "user trust:"

"Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false.” So said Apple's Cook.

"User trust" is widely abused within our modern discourse. That said, this process was underway long before the Internet. Other technologies, and other processes, have long been involved.

The Internet is only one of the three newer "technologies" which have helped divide us into tribes, including small tribes of the highly disordered. As this process has unfolded, we have increasingly lost "our shared sense of what is true and what is false.”

Often, of course, our past "shared sense of what is true" may have involved substantial distortions. This process continues today as mainstream news orgs seem to pick and choose what we're told about major policy areas, in the process Chomsky describes as "manufactured consent."

Still and all, the current sifting of information involves a level of craziness which is probably new to the system. But this doesn't occur on the Net alone. The process also occurs through two relatively modern technologies—talk radio and "cable news."

Gruesome abuse of "user trust" predated the rise of the Internet. Consider the role of "user abuse" in the medium of talk radio.

We're so old that, through happenstance, we were listening to Rush Limbaugh on the day, in March 1994, when he helped invent the crackpot belief that Hillary Clinton played a role in the death of Vince Foster.

We were driving to Huntington, West Virginia; we had the radio going. Between Baltimore and Huntington back in those days, nothing but Rush was on.

Rush's behavior was heinous that day; "user trust" was badly abused. In the aftermath of his gruesome behavior, the public trust was further abused as the big mainstream press organs cleared their throats and looked away as Rush, and his swarm of imitators, pushed such ugly, ludicrous claims all around.

By the summer of 1999, an overt hustler named Gennifer Flowers had become an active proponent of tall tales concerning the many murders of Bill and Hillary Clinton. She had already scored at least $500,000 through her grossly implausible claim that she'd enjoyed a torrid, 12-year love affair with the man she called "my Bill."

Now, Flowers was selling the Clintons' many murders on a monetized website. But so what? By now, the boys and girls within Bruni's guild were actively engaged in a war against Bill Clinton, who had received ten acts of oral sex without asking their permission.

As their war dragged on, they reinvented Flowers as a proven truth-teller. And uh-oh! As this foolishness unfolded, the boys and girl of Bruni's guild were transferring their enmity from Bill Clinton to his chosen successor, Candidate Gore.

Flowers was paraded around on "cable news" and treated as a major truth-teller. User trust was badly abused as mainstream pundits gamboled, dissembled, cavorted and played in this ridiculous manner.

These ugly, deeply stupid behaviors led to the razor-thin election of George W. Bush in November 2000. Many children died in Iraq after the plain-spoken Texan started his ill-conceived war there. But so what? When Gore had delivered a major speech warning against a war in Iraq, media stars like Frank Rich told us we should ignore him.

User abuse was running wild as screwballs like Rich played this game.

These ugly, deeply stupid behaviors gave us President Bush and his war in Iraq. And good God! In October 2016, as the Trump-Clinton race neared its end, the New York Times sold us Gennifer Flowers again, in this 2800-word front-page news report which may have elected Candidate Trump all by its pitiful self.

Bruni's fawning coverage of Candidate Bush was one part of this history. (On the Bush campaign plane, his official nickname was "Pancho.")

Today, Bruni correctly describes the way disordered people can be led to violence through Internet user abuse. That said, please understand this:

In 2016, the New York Times helped send a disordered man to the White House. Today, that man is the leading source of crazy claims on the modern Net.

It's true that "user abuse" is found all over the Net. It's also true that, sacred Aristotle notwithstanding, we "rational animals" are highly susceptible to such forms of abuse.

"The American people are pretty sharp?" On balance, this has never been true to any impressive extent.

A faithful servant would endlessly warn us about our tendency to get conned by the public figures we unwisely trust. (Gullibility of this type isn't a moral flaw.) Instead, the pundit corps kept flattering us, even as they were abusing our trust. Recitation of that pleasing claim—We the people are pretty sharp!—has been a longstanding form of mainstream "user abuse."

As he closes his column today, Bruni describes the depth of the problem among disordered Internet users. In this passage, he refers to a recent New York Times news report:
BRUNI: That same Times article noted that a search for the word “Jews” on the photo-sharing site Instagram on Monday led to 11,696 posts with the hashtag “#jewsdid911,” insanely blaming them for the attacks that brought down the World Trade Center, along with similarly grotesque images and videos that demonized Jews. Anti-Semitism may be ancient, but this delivery system for it is entirely modern.

And utterly terrifying. I don’t know exactly how we square free speech and free expression—which are paramount—with a better policing of the internet, but I’m certain that we need to approach that challenge with more urgency than we have mustered so far. Democracy is at stake. So are lives.
Our democracy is at stake, Bruni says. So are human lives.

These claims are certainly true. But the same situation obtained when Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell were permitted to go their merry way pimping the Clintons' many murders; when the deeply non-credible Flowers was turned into a mainstream hero by the likes of Frank Rich and Chris Matthews; when Bruni played the soft-on-Bush role in the New York Times' war against Candidate Gore; and when the Times vouched for Flowers again, four weeks before the fateful election which sent Trump to the White House.

Warning! Our lizards don't want us to know this. And our lizards are running the world.

Democracy is at stake today. Are we sharp enough to keep it? Bruni uses the word "insane" to describe the beliefs which are getting pimped on the modern Internet. But mental health is =n obvious question in the case of the person who squeezed past Candidate Hillary Clinton, and the Times editorial board told us, early this year, that we shouldn't discuss that.

"User abuse" was Limbaugh's tool long before the Net took shape. It has also been a favorite food of the mainstream guild within which Bruni works.

We liberals have been abused by that guild for many years, including by the "liberal pundits" who played along with the endless gong shows involving Gore and Hillary Clinton. That includes Lawrence and Brian and Chris, each of whom is now sold to us on corporate cable each night.

The Times kept vouching for Gennifer Flowers, right through October 2016. As they did, they trashed Hillary Clinton. Conduct like that sent Candidate Trump to the White House.

Today, Bruni complains about user abuse! Everything he says is true. But how much his column leaves out!

Tomorrow: User trust and that fourth accuser

TREMENDOUSLY DANGEROUS TIMES: Leprosy asserted, believed!


Also, that fourth accuser:
Incomparably, we were watching when the exchange occurred, near the end of yesterday's press event.

In typical scattershot, imprecise ways, journalists had been asking Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the tone of Donald J. Trump's ongoing remarks. Now the topic was raised again.

We'll show you the full exchange as recorded by CQ Transcriptions. We'll highlight a truly remarkable statement. We've eliminated one CROSSTALK:
QUESTION (10/29/18): He and you have also acknowledged that, in the next breath, after he calls for unity, he does talk about division in what you described as "drawing contrasts."

Is he incapable of, in the words of some, "toning it down" and toning down the rhetoric?

SANDERS: Again, I think the president has had a number of moments of bringing the country together. Once again, I'll remind you that the very first thing the president did was condemn the attacker. And the very first thing—


The second thing he did was—


—the media did was blame the president. You guys have a huge responsibility to play in the divisive nature of this country. When 90 percent of the coverage of everything this president does is negative, despite the fact that the country is doing extremely well, despite the fact that the president is delivering on exactly what he said he was going to do if elected.

And he got elected by an overwhelming majority of 63 million Americans, who came out and supported him and wanted to see his policies enacted. He's delivered on that. He's delivered on the promises he's made.

And if anything, I think it is sad and divisive, the way that every single thing that comes out of the media—90 percent of what comes out of the media's mouth—is negative about this president.
The answer went on a bit, after which Sanders departed. That said, we've highlighted the part of Sanders' statement which helps define an age.

Imagine! According to the White House press secretary, Donald J. Trump "got elected by an overwhelming majority of 63 million Americans."

Closely parsed, that statement doesn't exactly make technical sense. That said, a naive observer would surely assume that those 63 millions voters had given Trump an "overwhelming majority" of the popular vote.

By any normal measure, that's what Sanders seemed to assert. But a simple look at the record shows us these vote totals:
Popular vote, 2016 presidential election
Donald J. Trump: 62,984,828
Hillary Clinton: 65,853,514
As it turns out, Trump was elected by an overwhelming majority of minus 2.9 million votes! As everyone knows (or possibly not), Trump did get 63 million votes—but Clinton got three million more.

That very peculiar statement by Sanders helps define an age. It's true that people can make mistakes in extemporaneous speech. But that statement was so absurd that it helps define an age—an age in which many public figures seem to believe that any statement, no matter how crazy/absurd, will be believed by The Tribe and, in that sense, will stand.

This wasn't Sanders' only remarkable statement. Consider this earlier question concerning "the tone question"—concerning the president's tone:
QUESTION: I want to go back to the tone question. The President said he was planning to tone down his rhetoric this week, but in his rallies since the suspicious packages began being mailed, the President has called out Maxine Waters by name at his rallies, he's stood there as his supporters chant "Lock her up" in reference to Hillary Clinton, whom he continues to call Crooked Hillary Clinton.

Will the President stop using that kind of language in light of the fact that these individuals were targeted by [INAUDIBLE]?

SANDERS: The President's going to continue to draw contrasts. Let's not forget that these same Democrats have repeatedly attacked the President, whether it was Eric Holder saying kick them when they're down, whether it was Hillary Clinton saying you can't be civil until Democrats have control of Congress, or whether it was Maxine Waters who, who encouraged her supporters to get up not just in the President's face, but all administration officials faces.

Those actions are from those Democrats, the President's going to continue to fight back when these individuals not only attack him but attack members of his administration and supporters of his administration. John?
Playing by the scattershot rules of the corps, John asked about something completely different. But note what Sanders seems to have said:

When the president participates in cries of "Lock her up," he's engaged in "drawing contrasts!" That's what Sanders seems to have said—and there will be no follow-up from any major news org.

Would follow-up make any difference? Or have expectations for American discourse fallen completely apart?

Granting the fact that people make mistakes in extemporaneous speech, Sanders seemed to think that members of The Tribe will accept her ludicrous apparent claim about Trump's "overwhelming majority" of votes. She seemed to believe that her characterization of those cries would be permitted to stand.

Almost surely, such thoughts would be right. Meanwhile, in another location, one guy seemed to think that members of The Tribe were going to swallow this remark about the caravan:
WARD (10/29/18): We have these individuals coming in from all over the world that have some of the most extreme medical care [sic] in the world. And they're coming in with diseases such as smallpox and leprosy and TB that are going to infect our people in the United States.
That was David Ward, a seemingly haunted former ICE agent, speaking to Charles Payne on Fox during the 4 PM Eastern hour.

Liberals have tended to mock the smallpox warning; that disease was declared extinct in 1980. For our money, the leprosy warning felt more inane, since it seemed to come live and direct from the feature film Ben Hur.

But, within the current context, the assumption seemed to be that these claims will be believed, at least within The Tribe. Also, Ward may believe these claims. There's no proof that he doesn't.

"The American people are pretty sharp!" For decades, this has been a standard talking point of major American pundits. Joe Scarborough finished this morning's Morning Joe with a version of this scripted blather. This has long been a standard way in which pundits flatter and curry favor with viewers.

In truth, we the people were never especially sharp—but we were always protected by major media gatekeepers. Gatekeepers restricted the claims we would be allowed to hear. In this way, we were protected from our credulous natures.

That system has broken down. Today, Ludicrous Tribal Presentation has become a major big business. This business operates through talk radio, "cable news" and the Net, but it even operates on a daily basis through major legacy media.

Sanders made a ludicrous statement about Trump's overwhelming win. That said, under current arrangements, her ludicrous statement was close enough for tribal herd management work.

Sanders made a ludicrous statement. By this morning, it had us thinking about the recent night when we liberals were pleasured with the pimping of our fourth accuser. Then too, have you read today's columns by Goldberg and Krugman? Is there any obvious way to escape these extremely dangerous times?

"May you live in interesting times!" According to an old urban legend, it's an old Chinese curse.

In fact, it seems to track to RFK. Of course, given the way we rational animals work, that could be bullsh*t too.

Tomorrow: The tale of the fourth accuser

TREMENDOUSLY DANGEROUS TIMES: May you live in tremendously dangerous times!


But how did we get to this place?
Is Trump responsible, in some way, for recent appalling events?

Is he responsible, in some way, for the bombs which were sent in the mail to the people he constantly targets? Is he responsible for Saturday's synagogue murders?

Is he responsible for the two people who were shot and killed in Kentucky last week? Is Trump responsible, in some way, for these appalling events? For the other events which are sure to come?

In this morning's Washington Post, Hugh Hewitt performs his usual slippery evasions built upon technical accuracies. Below, you see the way his slippery column starts.

Nothing Hewitt says in this passage is obviously "false." Some of this is accurate:
HEWITT (10/29/18): After the arrest of a Florida man for sending homemade bombs to former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders, many on the left—and not a few allegedly neutral reporters and pundits—predictably attempted to assign blame for his deranged and dangerous acts to President Trump. They pointed to “lock her up” chants at Trump’s noisy rallies, to the “fake news” charges and to a long list of Trump lines that left-wing activists and some mainstream media voices have categorized as beneath the dignity of the president.

The truth is the spectrum of violent behavior runs from the far-left extreme of the Bernie Sanders-supporting shooter at an Alexandria baseball field to last week’s mailing of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats to Saturday’s stomach-turning massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue by a Trump-hating neo-Nazi, which made an already awful week even worse. That is the whole range of criminality at the fringes of American politics, a left-right full spectrum of angry, hate-filled obsessives. The threatening envelopes sent to both Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Vanessa Trump like those received by members of the media and no doubt by elected officials on the left, means crazy figures on the fringes of the far left and far right are a permanent part of the political terrain.
Some of that is accurate.

It's true that violent political behavior is perpetrated by disordered people on both the "left" and the "right." Presumably, it's also true that "[disordered] figures on the fringes of the far left and far right" are almost surely "a permanent part of the political terrain."

Something else is true. This sort of behavior, and its near cousins, long predates President Trump.

The gruesome mass shooting at Columbine occurred in April 1999, during the Bush-Gore campaign. It wasn't inspired by Trump.

Inevitably, the Columbine killings produced a ludicrous column in which Maureen Dowd criticized Candidate Gore for allegedly "telling everyone that he and Tipper just loved 'The Matrix.' " (Inevitably, Dowd included a jibe about Gore as "the Father of the Internet.") Inevitably, the liberal world just sat and accepted this Hewitt-esque drivel, as the liberal world would do right through the November 2000 election.

By now, gruesome mass murder by gunfire has become a familiar part of American culture. In a more explicitly political act, Lee Harvey Oswald committed an astonishing act of political murder all the way back in November 1963. Rather plainly, Donald J. Trump didn't inspire that act.

Parts of Hewitt's column are accurate. More striking is the way he skips past some of the events he describes. Let's return to that opening paragraph:
HEWITT: [F]ormer secretary of state Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders, many on the left—and not a few allegedly neutral reporters and pundits—predictably attempted to assign blame for his deranged and dangerous acts to President Trump. They pointed to “lock her up” chants at Trump’s noisy rallies, to the “fake news” charges and to a long list of Trump lines that left-wing activists and some mainstream media voices have categorized as beneath the dignity of the president.
Hewitt blows past the amazing fact of those "Lock her up" chants at Trump's rallies. The rallies in question are "noisy," he says, inserting a word meant to undercut the remarkable nature of the behavior he describes—behavior Trump has cheered on for several years.

We've shown you Hewitt's opening paragraphs. From there, he moves to an amazingly technical discussion of what constitutes "incitement" under criminal law.

Soon, Hewitt is saying that President Clinton is the one who started this moral/intellectual mess. Clinton blamed Rush for Oklahoma City, the slick Post employee declares:
HEWITT: An early effort to link political violence to a political figure unrelated to it was President Bill Clinton’s assigning blame for the Oklahoma City bombing to Rush Limbaugh and talk radio. “We hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other,” Clinton claimed. “They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable.” This speech set off endless rounds of seeking-to-assign-blame for violence and threats of violence to disfavored political speech. It was a low stunt by Clinton, a smear of people with whom he disagreed, but the tactic has lived on.
As usual in this disordered world, it turns out to be Bill Clinton's fault!

That said, how strange! In the news report to which Hewitt links, Clinton doesn't cite Limbaugh or anyone else by name. In fact, the news report specifically notes that Clinton named no individuals as he complained about those "loud and angry voices."

There were no rallies in which Bill Clinton prodded foolish supporters to call for Limbaugh's arrest. A slippery fellow named Hugh Hewitt was slithering down a familiar path even as he quoted Clinton making blindingly accurate statements.

Along the way, Hewitt makes other accurate statements. As he parses the technical meaning of "incitement," he accurately describes recent behavior by some people who aren't Donald Trump:
HEWITT: We are now arguing over what is properly considered “incitement” to violent action of all segments of that fringe. Consider the moron who accosted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao in a Louisville restaurant, or the mobs that chased Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and his wife or Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen or Stephen Miller from their eateries: Who is responsible for inciting that behavior? For the physical attacks on two GOP candidates in Minnesota? For the Portland Antifa gang harassing motorists and a woman in a wheelchair? The reasonable apprehension of physical violence is assault, not free speech. Who is responsible for the assaults and the far worse violence of the bombs and the shootings?

Is it Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who explicitly called for confronting Trump officials in public places? Former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., who urged that when Republicans “go low, we kick them”? Hillary Clinton, who questioned the very idea of civility towards the GOP? Sanders and his “fight back” campaign and the rhetoric of class warfare that is a fixture of his rallies?
It's true! Waters, Holder and Hillary Clinton recently made those statements, which strike us as unwise.

(You'll note that Hewitt couldn't come up with an actual statement by Sanders to criticize. Given long-standing, current rules of the road, the slick evader seemed to feel that he had to throw Sanders in.)

In this morning's slithery column, Hewitt displays who he is. He never attempts to parse the difference between training people to chant "Lock her up" and instructing supporters to "fight back" in the political realm.

"Enemies of the people?" The term doesn't appear in Hewitt's column. Presumably, this remarkable rhetoric belongs to the "long list of Trump lines that left-wing activists and some mainstream media voices have categorized as beneath the dignity of the president." So it goes when pundits like this are evasive all the way down.

Hewitt's slick evasions are part of the culture of modern American discourse. If it's accurate statements we want, this gruesome culture was firmly in place long before Trump swapped his brain-dead TV clowning for a role in the political world.

This slippery culture was firmly in place by March 1999, when coverage of the Bush-Gore campaign began. It had locked into place during the pursuit of the Whitewater pseudo-scandals—and in the way this slippery culture was directed at both Clintons and then at Candidate Gore, it was an artifact of the mainstream press at least as much as of the "right-wing noise machine."

During the twenty months of Campaign 2000, Maureen Dowd was a major part of that culture. If possible, TV talker Chris Matthews was worse.

In a demonstration of our greatest skill, we liberals just sat there and took it. As this culture spread and took hold, things got so bad that a fellow like Trump was able to slip-slide into the White House, with multimillionaire corporate liberals playing it safe every step of the way.

(Good God. In July 2016, Comey's attack on Candidate Clinton was strongly endorsed, for two straight nights, on Rachel Maddow's show! But dearest darlings, use your heads! Comey was a long-standing establishment god. It was careers in the balance!)

"May you live in interesting times!" It's often said that this is an ancient Chinese curse.

Apparently, that story is wrong. That said, we're all living today in deeply dangerous times. Given the role of our new tribal technologies, it isn't clear to us that we'll ever be able to find our way out of this dangerous place.

How did we get to this dangerous place? We'll ponder that question all week. Tomorrow, we'll start with Jim Rutenberg, the New York Times' media analyst, as he quotes Stephen Pinker in today's lengthy piece.

Did the press corps get played again this past week? That's what Pinker has said.

Tomorrow: As seen through the lens of the Times

BREAKING: Concerning health care, who needs facts?


The OECD rides again:
We want to start by apologizing for the tone of yesterday's report.

"Too hot," we thoughtfully told the analysts when they quit work at 10 PM. We'd felt bad about the tone of our report all day long.

The tone of that report was too hot. That said:

"If in some smothering dreams,
you too could pace/Behind the wagon that we flung [so many of Baltimore's children] in," you might understand how appalling it is to read such a report.

This is not a commentary on Eliza Shapiro, the highly-regarded young to youngish journalist who wrote that front-page report in yesterday's New York Times.

In our view, Shapiro could have been a bit less respectful concerning the gruesome malfeasance she was describing. But we're commenting here on Mayor de Blasio, and on our self-impressed liberal world, not on Shapiro's report.

As for Shapiro, we very much hope she is going to cure the Times' badly broken, baldly uncaring public school reporting. The Times has long been an inexcusable mess in this area. It's all up to Shapiro now!

For today, we thought you might enjoy seeing the OECD's latest data! Our curiosity was piqued by another front-page report in the New York Times.

That report, by Rosenthal and Luthra, was the featured front-page report in last weekend's Sunday Review. It ran beneath an Onion-worthy headline:
‘Don’t Get Too Excited’ About Medicare for All
Seriously though, Times subscribers. That's what the headline said!

Rosenthal was the author of the 2017 book, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back. In this report, she and Luthra cautioned readers about confusions surrounding the hot new term, "Medicare for all."

Fair enough! But along the way, the pair began discussing the financial implications of an American "single payer" system. That discussion started with this:
ROSENTHAL AND LUTHRA (10/21/18): Other countries achieve universal health care (or nearly so), but without single-payer. France and Germany have kept an insurance system intact but heavily regulate health care, including by setting the prices for medical procedures and drugs, and requiring all citizens to purchase coverage.

These more incremental options have not captured the American imagination to the same extent as Medicare for all. But adopting such a system [i.e., Medicare for all] would require the biggest shift, with significant implications for taxes, patient choice, doctors' salaries and hospital revenue.

Enthusiastic politicians sometimes gloss over those consequences. For example, Liz Watson, a Democrat running in Indiana's Ninth Congressional District, suggested the impact on doctors' income was not much of a concern, because they would see a ''huge recovery'' on expenses since they would no longer need to navigate the bureaucracy of insurance paperwork. But analysts across the board agree single-payer would cut revenue for doctors—many say by about 12 percent on average.
Adoption of Medicare for all (single payer) "would require the biggest shift" from our current arrangements. Such a move would have "significant implications for taxes," the Times scribes quickly warn. Without a lot of explanation, we're told that doctors' salaries might drop by something like 12 percent!

As a starter, fair enough! Soon, though, we also got this:
ROSENTHAL AND LUTHRA: There's also the thorny issue of how Medicare for all would affect the thousands of jobs at private insurers. ''We have an insurance industry in Omaha, and people say, 'I worry about those jobs,''' said Kara Eastman, a Democrat running on Medicare for all in Nebraska's Second District. She suggested people could be retrained, saying there would have to be ''repurposing of positions.''

Critics of Medicare for all, on the other hand, tend to exaggerate the costs of single-payer: ''Denmark's top tax bracket is nearly 60 percent!'' (True, although that's largely not because of health care.) ''Doctors' incomes will drop 40 percent!'' (True, specialists in private practice would probably see pay cuts, but primary care doctors could well see an increase.)

Canadians generally pay higher taxes than Americans do—specifically a goods and services tax, and higher taxes on the wealthy. In Germany, working people pay 7.5 percent of income as a contribution toward comprehensive insurance.

But many Americans pay far more than that when you count premiums, deductibles, co-payments and out-of-network charges. Estimates of the tax increases required to support a Medicare-for-all or single-payer system are all over the map, depending on how the plan is structured, the prices paid to providers and drug makers, and the generosity of benefits.

As a politician famously noted, ''Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.''
Grumble, grumble, toil and trouble. We're warned about exaggerations by those who oppose single-payer. But according to Rosenthal and Luthra, doctors will see their incomes drop, and we the people will apparently have to pay higher taxes. Nowhere, though, are we the people encouraged to understand the remarkable sea in which this pseudo-discussion swims.

As usual, as if by Hard Pundit Law, these remarkable data never appeared in last Sunday's discussion. They represent the latest figures from the OECD:
Health care spending per capita, 2017
United States $10,209 (sic)
Germany $5728
France $4902
Canada $4826
Japan $4717
Australia $4543
United Kingdom $4264
Italy $3542
Spain $3371
South Korea $2897
There you see the astonishing data which lie at the heart of this maelstrom. It seems to be against the law to publish such fundamental data in the New York Times or the Washington Post, or to discuss these remarkable data on MSNBC or in liberal journals.

Do Canadians "generally pay higher taxes than Americans do?" Presumably, yes. But they also spend less than half as much on health care, per person, than we spend Down Here!

Where's all that missing money going? A cynic would say that the New York Times doesn't want you to wonder or ask.

In Germany, do working people "pay 7.5 percent of income as a contribution toward comprehensive insurance?" Presumably, they do. But Germans spend only 57 percent as much on health care as we Americans do—and Germany is the only comparable large nation which spends even half as much as we do Over Here. Somehow, the U.K. limps along spending 42 percent!

The Times scribes warn us about the possible costs of that onrushing "single-payer" caravan. As usual, they fail to present the most remarkable data set of which we are aware.

Simple story! Enormous bundles of money are disappearing into the maws of our health care "system." About a dozen years ago, Paul Krugman described this remarkable state of affairs in a series of columns—and from that day to this, this remarkable state of affairs has disappeared from the Times.

This helps demonstrate a basic point we ourselves have often demonstrated here:

It's impossible to insert information into our "public discourse!" You can say it and say it and say it again. Unless it fits preferred elite narratives, your data, facts or information will simply disappear.

In Sunday's featured front-page report, Times readers were warned about possible tax increases. They weren't permitted to wonder about where those oodles of missing money are going under current arrangements.

Where's all that money going? Who is conducting that looting? Also:

Given the current amount of spending, why would any change in our health care "system" require higher spending? We spend twice as much as everyone else. Why would we have to spend more?

Those are the world's most obvious questions. They'll never be asked in the New York Times, nor will you ever see the data which might bring such questions to mind.

Aristotle is widely said to have said that we are the "rational animal." In fairness to Aristotle, he'd never read the New York Times. This includes its coverage of health care and public schools.

Rosenthal is highly informed, but she never offers this basic background information in her work for the Times. In closing, let us say this:

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace/Behind the wagon that we flung [so many looted citizens] in," you too might wonder about the way our intellectual horizons are curtailed in front-page reports like this.

Chomsky calls this process "manufactured consent." That said, Chomsky himself isn't discussed in the New York Times—or by our tribe's top cable star, who mugs and clowns and grins and chuckles and spoons us the porridge we like. (And talks about herself.)

Blue and red voters get looted this way. How hard would it be to create a world with blue and red together?

What the spendthrift socialists spend: God knows, we wouldn't want to be more like socialist spendthrift Sweden! Keeping that word of caution in mind, here you see the runaway spending of the smaller socialist boutique nations:
Health care spending per capita, 2017
United States $10,209 (sic)
Norway $6351
Sweden $5511
Denmark $5183
Finland $4176
Where's all that missing money going? If you stick to "cable news" and the New York Times, you'll never wonder or ask!

TRUST AND THE RATIONAL ANIMAL: Rational animal's magical plan!


Moral, intellectual limits:
"Bigotry," the columnist said, right in his opening sentence.

He never explained who the bigots were! That said, everyone knows who the bigots are:

The bigots are The Others, of course.

This very morning, atop the fold on page A1, that columnist's newspaper offered a startling news report—a report about a magical plan which has failed.

The craziness of the magical plan is occasionally matched by the oddness of the reporting. In light of this newspaper's endless bomb-throwing, the report betrays the moral and intellectual squalor of a "human" tribe which has failed.

The report concerns a magical plan concocted by Mayor de Blasio. It was one of his several magical plans concerning New York's public schools.

Within the past year, we've discussed the absurdity of the mayor's various "desegregation" plans. Like "bigotry" and its many first cousins, "desegregation" is a talismanic term the tribe which reads the New York Times very much likes to toss around.

The magical plan in today's news report wasn't a "desegregation" plan. In hard copy, these headlines sit atop Eliza Shapiro's front-page report:
New York Kept Children in Schools Likely to Fail
A $773 Million Rescue Program That Has Achieved Little
The top line in that headline makes no particular sense. People at this self-impressed newspaper care so little about low-income kids that, even after all these years, they remain unaware of such facts.

Judged by normal national standards, almost all of New York's public schools are in fact "likely to fail." That said, Mayor de Blasio conjured a plan, and Shapiro's report starts like this:
SHAPIRO (10/26/18): Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to “shake the foundations of New York City education” in 2014 with a new program called Renewal, a signature effort to improve the city’s 94 poorest-performing schools by showering them with millions of dollars in social services and teacher training.

A year later, aides raised a confidential alarm: About a third of those schools were likely to fail. The schools were not meeting goals that the city set for higher test scores, increased graduation rates and other academic measures—and probably never would, staff members in the Department of Education warned in an internal memo prepared for the mayor.

“In order for these schools to reach their targets for 2017, the interventions would need to produce truly exceptional improvements,” read the December 2015 memo, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “Historically, it has been quite rare for schools to improve that much in two years.”

Mr. de Blasio kept most of the schools open. Now, after sending thousands of children into classrooms that staff members suspected were doomed from the start, the administration appears ready to give up on Renewal. Its cost: $773 million by the end of this school year.
We're sorry to be the ones to tell you. but so it typically goes with the "education plans" of our self-impressed, name-calling tribe.

No, really—good God! As of 2014, after five decades of such under-cooked efforts, who could possibly have thought that this alleged "plan" would "succeed" in the manner predicted? Who could have thought that New York City's "poorest-performing schools" would magically produce high test scores if you simply "shower[ed] them with millions of dollars in social services and teacher training?"

Who in the world could have thought that? Should we possibly drop our R- and B-bombs on de Blasio, who had apparently paid so little attention to the lives of low-income kids that he could have dreamed such a thing?

Should Kristof call him a bigot too? Should we call Kristof a bigot?

Full disclosure:

We were alerted to Shapiro's report by future anthropologists huddled in caves—the caves to which they were forced to repair in the aftermath of Mister Trump's War. (We've described this situation before.)

They came to us, as they sometimes do, in one of the startling nocturnal visits which may resemble traditional dreams or invasions by intensely skilled trick-or-treaters. They said today's ludicrous news report betrayed the moral and intellectual failure of the vastly self-impressed "liberal" tribe, the tribe which had always been so sure of its racial greatness in the years during which they helped elect and sustain Mister Trump.

"Be sure you're seated when you read this report," one mournful scholar advised us. And indeed, who could possibly be so daft as to devise a plan of this type, predicting it would “shake the foundations of New York City education?”

Who could be as dumb as that? Who could be so uncaring? Who could be so completely clueless about the actual lives and interests of low-income black and Hispanic kids in our nation's public schools?

Mayor de Blasio is one such critter! Shapiro continues like this:
SHAPIRO (continuing directly): Cheryl Watson-Harris, the top deputy to the schools chancellor, revealed at a meeting with principals last month that the city is poised to end Renewal, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The Times. Eric F. Phillips, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, said a final decision had not been made.

It would be a disappointing end to a program that Mr. de Blasio had hoped would be a national model for fixing broken schools and a political rebuke to former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who closed more than 100 schools, sometimes with punitive rhetoric that angered the city’s teachers’ union and parents.
A national model for fixing schools! Who could possibly be that clueless, that uncaring? With a rebuke to Bloomberg to boot!

We won't reproduce this whole report, remarkable though it is. We do want to address one obvious question:

Even if this plan was clueless, why do we call it uncaring? Isn't it fair to assume that de Blasio acted in good faith? Isn't it fair to assume that he had good intentions?

On balance, we're forced to say no. This takes us back to that "bigotry."

Plans of this type have been tried, and have failed, since the mid-1960s. At this late date, a man this clueless must be seen as a man who doesn't much care—a man who hasn't cared enough to have the first freaking clue about the needs and interests of low-income children.

We've urged you to view Gotham's "desegregation" plans in much the same light. These plans makes no apparent sense, except to the extent that they let our tribe deploy our favorite bombs.

Last evening, the future scholars implored us to understand human limitations.

We simply aren't the "rational animals" we enjoy pretending to be, these scholars thoughtfully told us. When we describe ourselves that way, we may be "seeing ourselves from afar," they said. But that doesn't make us evil.

In the end, we strongly agree. But you must understand the way our conduct makes us look to Others.

The Others see us as perpetually posturing moral frauds. We'd say they have a strong point.

We like to call The Others names. We like to pretend that We're engaged in high moral activities in the area of race, such as the "desegregation" of a sprawling school system which is 15% percent white.

This posturing is silly and stupid and morally empty. That said, the New York Times has been throwing black kids under the bus for a large number of years.

(They do so from parties in the Hamptons. This is one way our tribe works.)

Eliza Shapiro is very young and very new to the Times. She seems to be six years out of college (Columbia 2012). We very much hope that she will improve the Times.

Much of the history which prefigured this nonsense happened before Shapiro was born. Over the summer, she joined a newspaper which likes to posture about matters of race, while producing god-awful education reporting every step of the way.

Today, Shapiro writes respectfully about a remarkable gong show. This gong show helps us liberals see who and what we actually are.

For ourselves, we first encountered magical planning like this in the early 1970s. We were told about the failure of a magical plan by two Baltimore public school teachers who were older and more experienced than we were.

These teachers worked in an elementary school which was part of the federal "Model Cities" program. As part of this well-intentioned experimental program, their school had unusually small class sizes; teaching assistants in every class; and a wealth of classroom supplies. (There may have been other federal infusions.)

Apparently, these infusions weren't working well enough. A representative from the federal program came to the school for a faculty meeting. At this meeting, he told the teachers what they had to do to get their test scores up.

Otherwise, federal funding would be stopped. Or so we were told he said.

These teacher described the comical cheating which followed the bureaucrat's visit. This comical cheating produced comically impossible test scores, whose comical impossibility we eventually described in the Baltimore Sun.

Roughly forty years later, the "mainstream press corps" finally noticed the existence of widespread cheating on standardized testing programs. Needless to say, it wasn't the Times which figured this out. It was USA Today and the Atlanta newspaper.

That early program was well-intentioned, then resorted to fraud. More than forty years later, a gong-show like this could still occur:
SHAPIRO: Mr. de Blasio announced the Renewal plan at an East Harlem school less than a year after he took office. Its goals were ambitious and its methods, by the mayor’s own admission, untested.

“We’re going to do something that, bluntly, has rarely been tried,” the mayor said. He explained how the city would consider closing schools only “as a last resort.”

New York City has never found a universal solution to transform its most troubled schools, but Mr. Bloomberg’s plan to replace large failing high schools with small schools was showing results when it was halted in favor of Renewal...

In interviews, about a dozen researchers who study failing schools—some of whom have publicly criticized Renewal in the past—said the theory behind the program was not based on evidence...
For some reason, we always flash on Wilfred Owen when we read such gruesome accounts. ("Bent double, like old beggars under sacks/Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge...")

Meanwhile, "New York City has never found a universal solution to transform its most troubled schools!" It's hard to say that's wrong!

The Others are bigots, the columnist said. But how odd! All through the columnist's newspaper, the people who posture and preen about race routinely turn out to be Us!

The Others frequently see Us this way. As our society starts to expire, can we say that they're wrong?

Next week: Many loose ends remain, including Rachel's fourth accuser and the New York Times' latest attack on Candidate Hillary Clinton

Tomorrow: The data you never get shown

BREAKING: Horizons of our smartest newspaper!


Rational animals wallow:
In a moment of pique, we said that we were going to do this. With our vast moral greatness, we will.

Warning! What follows is coming to you, live and direct, from the "reimagined" Page A3 in today's New York Times. (Hard copy editions only.)

What are the cultural horizons of our tribe's smartest newspaper? Yesterday brought some troubling news. But on Page A3 of this morning's Times, this was the Quote of the Day:
Quote of the Day
“I don’t mind someone having a snack. A full-on subway meal or a roast chicken, leaving the bones all over the place, isn’t acceptable.”

ANDY BYFORD, president of the New York City Transit Authority, on the limits of eating on the go.
That was yesterday's top quote! For full background, click here.

That was Page A3's key quote. At the top of the page, in the Of Interest feature, the editors listed seven "noteworthy facts."

Below, you see the first three entries. Not a word has been changed:
Of Interest

A headless ghost of a worker decapitated during the Brooklyn Bridge’s construction is also said to haunt the area. (No word on sightings of the five gray aliens that a woman said abducted her nearby in 1989.)

As we age, muscles and other supportive tissues around the eye relax. That, paired with waning elasticity in the skin, causes fat that was once at deeper levels to migrate to the surface, causing eyelid bags.

The messaging app WhatsApp says that there are six people in the average group.
You're right! However those facts might be described, they don't seem highly "noteworthy." Nor did it get much better from there. This was the seventh such fact:
Of Interest


In a report this summer, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that “there is no evidence that large fences have been effective for the containment of wild suids,” using a word for the pig animal family.
As presented, that might qualify as a slightly mystifying fact.

(For the record, today's Of Interest feature contains a cartoon. We don't know which of the seven facts it's intended to illustrate.)

We'll close you out with today's Spotlight feature. This is what it says:

Tiny Love Stories, a new Modern Love project, asks contributors to share their epic love stories in 100 words or less. This week's batch of micro-nonfiction includes five tales of separate vacations, public-transit aficionados and other romantic gains and losses. Read one here:
There follows a photograph and a Tiny Love Story. (The writer's last name is "Bliss.") It comes to us as part of a new Modern Love project!

In this, our liberal tribe's greatest newspaper, the wars against the Clintons and Gore began in early 1992 in a series of bungled, front-page Whitewater "news reports."

Those wars have never ended. Michelle Cottle continued the war against Hillary Clinton in her recent Sunday Review recitation. (More on that still to come.)

As of now, these endless journalistic wars have served to elect George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald J. Trump in 2016, with perhaps one more term to follow.

Children are dead all over Iraq just from this paper's ugly, monstrously stupid behavior in 1999 and 2000. When you find yourself discussing how dumb The Others so amazingly are, try to remember that our own admittedly brilliant tribe has endlessly swallowed this mountain of cant from these high-ranking rational animals for the past 26 years.

"Creeping Dowdism," Katherine Boo said. We self-impressed, highly rational animals chose to just keep on truckin'.

TRUST AND THE RATIONAL ANIMAL: Nicholas Kristof drops a bomb!


Their various shapes and sizes:
Why don't more of The Others trust Us? Why aren't they willing to think and act in the ways we liberals prescribe?

We're willing to tell them how to think and what to believe. Why won't They just fall in line?

You're asking some very good questions! In our view, today's op-ed column by Nicholas Kristof helps us supply an answer.

There's a great deal to ponder in Kristof's piece. But the gentleman starts like this:
KRISTOF (10/25/18): It’s not about immigration. It’s about bigotry.
There! Just like that, in his opening paragraph, Kristof takes steps to ensure that The Others won't listen to a single word he says. He doe this by dropping our team;s favorite bomb. from which he then runs away.

Bombs come in various shapes and sizes. In the past few days, real bombs from the material world have arrived at selected addresses.

Idiotic reactions have been churned Over There. Then too, we have Our Own Tribe.

Our world also contains the metaphorical "bombs" we've often discussed at this site. Kristof opens with one of those rather destructive bombs, then never explains why he did.

"It’s not about immigration," he says. "It’s about bigotry." He says that right at the very start of his piece. But he never explains who the "bigots" are. This means that the bigots are Them.

Over Here, in our liberal tents, we thrill to cold opens like that. We're reminded that we're the decent, good people—which, fairly often, we aren't, depending on grading standards.

Kristof opened with a bomb, then made no attempt to explain it. He never explained why the bomb had appeared. But don't worry—every liberal knows.

So do all The Others.

In the rest of his column, Kristof presents some interesting facts about problems facing America. Early on, though, he also makes it a point to mock Donald Trump's spelling.

That's another type of tribal bomb. (As we've noted in the past, it's a Brian Williams favorite.) We've been dropping these bombs for decades. The Others all understand them.

Kristof offers important observations about the use of fear in demagogic, unhelpful campaigns. This use of fear is quite unhelpful.

So is the dropping of bombs.

At the end of his unhelpful column, Kristof describes an actual state of affairs. We think he's right in most of what he says in this final passage:
KRISTOF: I fear that we in the media have become Trump’s puppets, letting him manipulate us to project issues like the caravan onto the agenda.

Trump is right that, although there’s no evidence of it, “there could very well be” Middle Easterners hiding in the caravan. It’s equally true that the Easter Bunny “could very well be” in the caravan. Speaking of Easter, Jesus Christ “could very well be” in the caravan.

So let’s stop freaking out about what “could very well be” and focus on facts. Here are two: First, the Caravan won’t make a bit of difference to America. Second, we have other problems to focus on, from drugs to homelessness to health care, that genuinely constitute a “National Emergy.”
That's the end of his column.

Kristof wants his fellow citizens "to stop freaking out about" nonsensical, demagogic claims. Instead, he wants us to "focus on facts."

In principle, this is a very good idea. But the state of play is this:

We liberals can focus on various facts as much as we like. If we can't get Others to listen to Us as we offer these facts, our facts will fall on deaf ears.

As he closes, Kristof identifies three states of affairs which he regards as major problems. But as he finishes his plea, he turns again to Trump's spelling problem.

(Earth to Kristof: Donald J. Trump is likely "dyslexic." Stating the obvious, this is the least of his deeply dangerous problems.)

(For the record, Williams, who loves to play the bad spelling card, got himself fired from Nightly News for making us Songs of Himself. That was after he spent two years trashing the craziness of Candidate Gore's deeply troubling wardrobe selection. This sent George W. Bush to the White House and Iraqi children to death.)

Kristof closes with Trump's bad spelling. Everybody Over There knows what such jibes suggest. According to major anthropologists, we liberals have always played this game, and we always will.

"Who Do You Trust?" Johnny Carson once asked. The unexplained bomb with which Kristof begins helps explain why They don't trust Us.

Your lizard is saying that this is all wrong. We should all throw our lizards away.

Opposite Kristof today: Opposite Kristof's column, Gail Collins is complaining, in her usual rollicking way, about the stupid things Trump says. Funny that! We still remember the stupid things she used to say, in 1999 and 2000.

Children died because of Collins, who's been phoning it in for years. That said, this is the way of the New York Times, brightest known light of our own self-assured liberal tribe.

Gore, who was impossibly boring with all his proposals, reminded her of "the underside of a swan." Those were truly the good old days, except for the children we've mentioned.

Still coming later today: This morning's astonishing "Noteworthy Facts" from the brightest light of Our Tribe.

TRUST AND THE RATIONAL ANIMAL: Professor Hochschild discusses The Others!


Why don't The Others trust Us?:
It's a major question in American politics:

Why won't The Others trust Us?

We liberals keep telling The Others how they should speak, think and vote. Granted, we frequently start by telling Them what horrible terrible people they are. Still, we're willing to share our advice. Why won't The Others listen?

This became a large problem in 2016 when enough of The Others cast their votes for Donald J. Trump instead of for Hillary Clinton. (Starting in 1992, we'd sat around twiddling our thumbs while people like Chris Matthews conducted the wars on her person which continue to this very day.)

Despite losing the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, Trump ended up in the White House. Why hadn't The Others been willing to trust us when we told them how they should vote?

This is a major political question. Last night, we received a bit of an answer as we watched the first fifteen minutes of Tucker Carlson's Fox News show.

Overstating but also telling the truth, Carlson played tape of our various cable news stars and explained why The Other should hate them. We caught this segment at midnight Eastern. Minutes before, we'd watched Don Lemon lead a typically arrogant, unintelligent discussion in which The Others had been instructed in how they should think, speak and be.

Luckily, most people don't watch Lemon's show. This means that Dems may still have a chance to win the House next month.

Why don't The Others trust Us? If you've watched us in action and you aren't too far gone, you may have have some idea. If not, you might consider a book review from Sunday's Washington Post, in which Arlie Russell Hochschild discusses Ben Bradlee Jr.'s new book, The Forgotten: How the People of One Pennsylvania County Elected Donald Trump and Changed America.

Oof! Professor Hochschild made a substantial mistake right in her opening paragraph. We'll go ahead and produce the paragraph as it appeared in the hard copy Post:
HOCHSCHILD (10/21/18): A month after the 2016 election, Ben Bradlee Jr. began interviewing voters in Luzerne County, Pa. , where Donald Trump won 77 percent of the vote. The county, a working-class Democratic stronghold, hadn’t voted for a Republican president since 1988. Pennsylvania was one of three historically Democratic Rust Belt states that unexpectedly swung the election to Trump. By July 2018, Bradlee, a longtime reporter and editor for the Boston Globe, had talked to nearly 100 voters, most of whom felt that government and the Democratic Party had forgotten them. They had.
Say what? Luzerne County, a working-class Democratic stronghold, hadn't voted Republican since 1988, but Trump won 77 percent of the vote? This did sound like an amazing political story.

For better or worse, the story was false. As we learn in a formal correction, Trump won 77 percent of Luzerne County's vote in the 2016 Republican primary. That represents a very big win, but Clinton wasn't directly involved.

That said, Trump did win 58 percent of the vote in the general election. Hochschild went on to describe Bradlee's basic take on this state of affairs.

Why did Luzerne County flip? According to Bradlee, Luzerne's flip might help Democrats and liberals contemplate the reason for many lost votes:
HOCHSCHILD (continuing directly): Among the flood of books explaining how we got Trump, “The Forgotten” serves as an unintended companion volume to Thomas Frank’s “Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?” Bradlee focuses on the impact of the growing income gap. If we ignore the taxes the government collects and benefits it distributes, from the middle of the Great Depression through 1980, the top 10 percent of Americans received 30 percent of the nation’s income growth, and the other 90 percent took in 70 percent of it. But from 1997 to the present, the top 10 percent took in all of the U.S. income growth, and the bottom 90 percent got none. This shift occurred partly under the watch of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and Trump surged into the void claiming leadership of what he called “the forgotten people,” Bradlee writes. “Trump connected strongly to his aggrieved constituency,” and nowhere more than in Luzerne County. Trump won the general vote in part because he captured Pennsylvania, with strong support in its northeastern corner. And within that region, Luzerne County led the way.

“It is not a stretch to say,” Bradlee writes, “that this single county won Trump Pennsylvania—and perhaps the presidency.”
It would of course be an absolute stretch—in the most literal sense, a falsehood—to say that Luzerne County "won Trump Pennsylvania, and perhaps the presidency." (Trump would still have won the electoral vote had Clinton won Pennsylvania.)

Beyond that, we're not sure why you'd want to "ignore the taxes the government collects and benefits it distributes" in making the type of income assessment Hochschild describes in that passage.

For our money, that's a lot of mistakes and peculiarities for the first three grafs of a book review. Still, Hochschild goes on to describe Bradlee doing The Thing Which Must Never Be Done:

She describes Bradlee trying to learn what The Others think about contemporary politics and government! In some circles, this has now been declared a subversive act.

Also, in what way have The Others in question possibly been "forgotten?" According to Hochschild, Bradlee tries to explore such important political and human questions in his book.

What did The Others think in Luzerne? Why did they cast so many votes for Trump, despite the advice we were willing to give them?

On cable, our corporate stars pleasure us with our standard answer to that question. But uh-oh! After describing a working-class county in headlong decline, Hochschild offers this assessment, presumably drawn from Bradlee's book:
HOCHSCHILD: During the 2016 campaign Hillary Clinton seemed deaf to the hardships of Hazleton. Residents wanted realistic hope, but what they got from the Democratic Party was suggested by its choice of a campaign theme song—the cheery Pharrell Williams tune “Happy” from the soundtrack of the animated film “Despicable Me 2.”

Clinton lost women like hairdresser Donna Kowalczyk, a crime-fighting activist whose mother worked in cigar and sewing factories. Her father was a disabled alcoholic, and her husband maintained the grounds of a local university. “I used to be the most liberal person you could imagine, fighting for everyone else’s rights,” she told Bradlee. Her neighborhood fell under the blight of drug dealers, car thieves and prostitutes. This lifelong Democrat was now very unhappy. She “switched parties to vote for Donald Trump,” Bradlee writes.
According to this assessment, Kowalczyk once "fought for everyone else’s rights.” Now, in deciding to vote for Trump, she apparently felt she was fighting for her own.

That, of course, was only one vote. Clinjton, who won the popular vote, lost the three states which cost her the race by some 78,000 votes. No author can account for all those decisions, even though cable stars can.

In a fairly brief review, Hochschild offers several other portraits of Luzerne County votes lost to Trump. She ends by offering this assessment, again drawn from Bradlee's book:
HOCHSCHILD: “The Forgotten” reveals the political impact not so much of poverty as of decline—and not simply decline in wages but in well-being and self-respect, especially among white blue-collar men. Research shows that these men have also become more socially isolated, less likely to go to church and to marry. They experience what Princeton professors Angus Deaton and Anne Case identify as “deaths of despair” from suicide, drugs and alcohol at a greater level than blacks and Hispanics of the same age. Along with their loss of self-respect has come a loss of faith that government run by either mainstream party could help them recover it. This is not a big-thesis book, nor a deep dive into new facts or ideas. But whatever the Russians did or the Koch brothers funded, this searing portrait shines a light on the disheartened voters the Democratic Party forgot.
In that passage, Hochschild explains why many white blue-collar men refused to take Our advice. Rribal leaders told them how to vote, but it looks like they just didn't trust us.

Are the "deaths of despair" of these blue-collar Others worth our tribe's attention? Bradlee seems to suggest that they are, and that the Democratic Party has brushed these "deaths" aside.

Have liberals and Democrats brushed them aside? If you watched Tucker Carlson last night, you saw that argument being made in real time, before your eyes. We'll suggest that you also saw that rejection being enacted if you watched the latest of Lemon's discussion, with the arrogance and condescension being quite hard to miss.

The Others are constantly told not to trust Us, especially over on Fox. On Monday night, without naming her name, Laura Ingraham explained why they can't trust you-know-who, a giant star Over Here.

Tomorrow: Our Rhodes scholar sells a fourth charge



Who do we liberals trust:
Starting in the late 1950s, Who Do You Trust? was a popular afternoon game show.

Johnny Carson was the host. He went on to larger things. But that basic question—who do you trust?—now lies at the heart of our politics.

The Others seem to trust Donald J. Trump, even as he makes endless wild misstatements.That said, there's also the question of who we liberals trust, along with the question of who we liberals have trusted in the past.

On Sunday, in the New York Times, Frank Bruni made it hurt. In the main, he lamented the way The Others tend to trust Donald J. Trump. Along the way, in glancing fashion, he mournfully thought about some people we liberals trusted in the past:
BRUNI (10/21/18): Trump enjoys a kind and degree of immunity that few if any politicians in my lifetime have been given. His own exhaustively established indecency inoculates him. As a result, all manner of ugliness slips by—unnoticed, barely noticed or noticed and accepted as Trump being Trump.

His interview last week with The Associated Press was a doozy that didn’t get its due. His bragging was off the charts: He said that no president had ever exerted the kind of positive effect on his party’s midterm prospects that he was exerting. He called the current economy the best in the country’s entire history.

And we once got worked up about Al Gore’s exaggerations?

In that A.P. interview, Trump also cast himself as an expert on climate change by noting that an uncle of his was an M.I.T. professor. So, he explained, “I have a natural instinct for science.”
We included the part about climate change as a tragic irony, given Bruni's fleeting reference to Candidate Gore.

In one large way, Bruni's column didn't make much sense. Right from the start, he seems to imply that "journalists" and "the media" don't criticize Donald J. Trump for his endless howlers. This is the way he started:
BRUNI: Elizabeth Warren screwed up. That’s clear. Her big confirmation of Native American blood offended some Native Americans, did nothing to muffle or muzzle Donald Trump and left many journalists—me included—questioning her tactical smarts.

But the media focus on her misjudgment, her character and whether she had the right stuff for the White House underscores the absurdity of our current politics, in terms of the advantage it confers on the president. We expect much of anyone stepping forward to challenge him. We expect absolutely nothing of him.
That's how Bruni started. He seems to imply that "the media" focus exclusively on misstatements and misjudgments by everyone else, while giving Trump a free pass.

That notion is plainly absurd. Donald J. Trump is called a liar all day long, then on into the night. But many of The Others don't seem to trust the big stars of the mainstream press, the folk giving voice to this judgment.

The issue here turns on the question of who The Others trust. Then too, there's the question of who we liberals trust. Also, there's the question of who we were foolish enough to trust in the not-too-distant past—in the years when people like Bruni pretended that Gore was the world's biggest liar, like his boss, Bill Clinton.

Back then, mainstream figures spent twenty months inventing Gore as the person Donald Trump actually is. We liberals trusted those mainstream figures when they staged that destructive war. If we were better people, we might recall how foolish we were when we see Others putting their trust in the crazy things stated by Trump.

We liberals believed the stupid things we heard from people like Bruni. We swallowed the things we heard from Maureen Dowd. In the most astonishing case, we even swallowed the crazy things we kept hearing from Chris Matthews—the crazy things he kept saying about Gore, the ugly things he said, for ten years, about Hillary Clinton.

The Rebecca Traisters swallowed it down when Olbermann was putting his misogyny on display on a regular basis. As it turned out, the Traisters were discussing this is private, but they refused to speak up.

Today, we liberals rush to trust the true belief of Traister. We find her very hard to watch due to this horrible past.

We want you to note one point about what Bruni said. Ironically, he makes a key point about Trump v. Gore, while keeping an old tale alive:
BRUNI: [Trump's] interview last week with The Associated Press was a doozy that didn’t get its due. His bragging was off the charts: He said that no president had ever exerted the kind of positive effect on his party’s midterm prospects that he was exerting. He called the current economy the best in the country’s entire history.

And we once got worked up about Al Gore’s exaggerations?
Implicitly, Bruni is saying that Gore's exaggerations don't hold a candle to the crazy misstatements of Trump. Implicitly, he's saying that "we journalists" were perhaps a little bit daft to get so worked up about them.

He's certainly right about the way his guild failed the world from March 1999 through November 2000. But even now, he isn't going to tell the full truth—that the "exaggerations" to which he refers were basically inventions of a runaway mainstream press corps.

Even today, people like Bruni won't discuss that fact. People are dead all over the world because of what Bruni and the rest of them did, but they'll never take a step back to review the past and offer a full confession.

As for us liberals, we were dumb enough to trust Bruni and Matthews and Seelye and Connolly and Williams and Rich and Dowd. We were dumb enough to trust them back then. We remain dumb enough to trust such people now.

Today, those corporate players are attacking Trump for his endless howlers. But many of The Others are inclined to put their trust in Trump rather than in them.

In our view, The Others have misplaced their trust. But it isn't like this isn't something We Ourselves, in all our imagined brilliance and greatness, have also foolishly done, with disastrous and deadly results.

We liberals! Like all tribal groups, we're strongly disinclined to see how dumb we are. We're strongly convinced that The Others are dumb, especially in the question of who they choose to trust.

(They're also racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, deplorable and irredeemable. So the tale has always been told within the world's tribal tents.)

Why don't The Others trust the people We trust? We'll examine this important question all week.

Tomorrow, we'll start with a very slimy thing Laura Ingraham did last night. Ingraham did make a slimy play, aimed at Cory Booker. But quite correctly, she took down one of our own Most Trusted Figures as she mucked around.

We hope to tie up some loose threads this week. Along the way, we hope to help you better imagine how We may look to The Others.

It's a very important question. Why won't The Others trust Us?

Tomorrow: Overt misconduct, by ours

Bruni makes it hurt: When he refers to "Gore's exaggerations," Bruni links to an analysis piece from the Los Angeles Times.

The analysis piece appeared on September 22, 2000, just as the mainstream press was inventing two new lies by Candidate Gore. (We refer to the "lies" about the union lullaby and the doggy arthritis pills.)

Excitement over Gore's new "lies" wiped away a ten-point lead he'd amassed over Bush in the polls. The piece began like this:
GERSTENZANG (9/22/00): Which of these statements did Al Gore make?

A) I invented the Internet.

B) I discovered Love Canal.

He said neither. But in popular mythology, he said both. Therein lies a problem for the vice president...
That's the way the piece began. But at this point, Gerstenzang turned on a dime. He blamed "the mythology" on Candidate Gore, then quoted Leon Panetta seeming to say that Gore needed to see a psychiatrist.

Gerstenzang went on to offer novelized, misleading accounts of Gore's various "lies." This was required by law in that day.

So it went as the people we trusted struggled, fought, maneuvered and schemed to spread death around the planet. The Brunis will never discuss this history. We make one final point:

In Gerstenzang's piece, he discusses the efforts of a web site, The Daily Howler, "to counter some of the stories circulating about" Gore. Included on line is a formal "correction" by the Times (we'd be inclined to call it an amplification) concerning Gerstenzang's description of that particular site.

We lost that twenty-month fight; many people died as a result, and global politics changed. The war continued against Hillary Clinton. In November 2016, it sent Donald J. Trump to the White House.

That war was a war of the mainstream press. It was conducted by people we liberals trusted and continue to trust to this day.

We're very dumb about who we trust! It isn't simply the clueless Others, the deplorable folk Over There.

Connectivity gods relent!


Connectivity restored:
Yesterday morning, the gods of connectivity struck, obliterating services to our sprawling campus.

Late last night, as the neighborhood slept, connectivity was restored. Depending on the whims of the gods, we'll be posting later this morning.

BREAKING: What we read on our autumn vacation!


The latest academic hoax v. the western canon:
What did we read on our autumn vacation? At long last, thank you for asking!

Good lord! We dug out of a musty old box our copy—actual, our two copies—of Norman Malcolm's slender yet once definitive volume, Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir With a Biographical Sketch by Georg Hendrik Von Wright.

(This slender volume is still on sale through the Oxford University Press.)

Memories came flooding back, especially memories of NAME WITHHELD. Did Proust ever scarf down a whole sack of madeleines? If so, that's what it was like.

Malcolm met Wittgenstein in 1938, across the pond, at Cambridge. Malcolm was a graduate student on loan from god-like Harvard. Wittgenstein was developing the puzzling, admittedly muddled work which would eventually define "the later Wittgenstein" in his 1953 book, Philosophical Investigations.

Malcolm's memoir was first published in 1958. In Von Wright's biographical sketch of Wittgenstein, we encountered a peculiar passage concerning the definitive work of the early Wittgenstein, the catchily titled Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921).

Quickly, a bit of background:

Wittgenstein wrote the Tractatus when he was still in his twenties. As Von Wright explains. "The author of the Tractatus thought he had solved all philosophical problems. It was consistent with this view that he should give up philosophy."

Had the early Wittgenstein really solved all philosophical problems? In accord with that somewhat peculiar idea, Wittgenstein quit philosophy after writing the Tractatus. Later, though, he returned to the field, throwing the work of "the early Wittgenstein" pretty much under the bus.

He was involved in this re-evaluation when he met Malcolm.

Whatever! As we read Von Wright's biographical sketch, we were struck by an almost comical passage rather early on. In this passage, Von Wright describes the way the early Wittgenstein hit upon one of his most seminal ideas while serving in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I:
VON WRIGHT (page 7): The oldest parts of the Tractatus are those dealing with logic. Wittgenstein had formed his principal thoughts on these matters before the outbreak of the war in 1914, and thus before his twenty-sixth year. Later he became engrossed in a new problem. It was the question of the nature of the significant proposition. Wittgenstein told me how the idea of language as a picture of reality occurred to him. It was in the autumn of 1914, on the East front. Wittgenstein was reading a magazine in which there was a schematic picture depicting the possible sequence of events in an automobile accident. The picture there served as a proposition; that is, as a description of a possible state of affairs. It had this function owing to a correspondence between the parts of the picture and things in reality. It now occurred to Wittgenstein that one might reverse the analogy and say that a proposition serves as a picture, by virtue of a similar correspondence between its parts and the world. The way in which the parts of the proposition are combined—the structure of the proposition—depicts a possible combination of elements in reality, a possible state of affairs.

Wittgenstein's Tractatus may be called a synthesis of the theory of truth-functions and the idea that language is a picture of reality. Out of this synthesis arises a third main ingredient of the book, its doctrine of that which cannot be said, only shown.
In that passage, Von Wright describes "how the idea of language as a picture of reality occurred to [Wittgenstein]." We're told that this idea—the idea that language is a picture of reality—formed a basic part of the book which made its author a famous part of the philosophical establishment of the day.

Here's why that passage strikes us as almost comical, in an all-too-familiar, perhaps instructive way:

First, Von Wright pictures Wittgenstein making an observation any 6-year-old could have made. While serving on the Eastern front, Wittgenstein suddenly realizes that the various parts of a schematic picture of an automobile accident "serve as a proposition; that is, as a description of a possible state of affairs."

This observation or insight is so obvious that any child could make it. The pictures of two cars in an accident serve as a description of the accident itself!

This observation, thought or idea seems to be blindingly obvious. From there, we move directly to a claim which is so vaguely described that it has no particular meaning at all, at least as Von Wright presents it:

"It now occurred to Wittgenstein that one might...say that a proposition serves as a picture, by virtue of a similar correspondence between its parts and the world. The way in which the parts of the proposition are combined—the structure of the proposition—depicts a possible combination of elements in reality, a possible state of affairs."

Might a proposition "depict a possible state of affairs?" Since something like that happens all day long every single day of the year, this seems fairly obvious too, if perhaps a bit hazily defined.

Let's move on! Might "the way in which the parts of [a] proposition are combined—the structure of the proposition—depict a possible combination of elements in reality, a possible state of affairs?"

Presumably, yes, that could happen! But from this extremely hazy account, do you have any idea why this isn't the most fatuous idea in all of human history? Do you have any idea how this idea—"the idea that language is a picture of reality"—could possibly lay at the heart of a celebrated book, one whose author thought he had solved all philosophical problems?

Youngsters who study "philosophy" are expected to swallow this type of guff on a regular basis. Many are willing to do so. Others will occasionally note that the work of upper-end practitioners in the field may often seem to make no earthly sense.

Many metaphorical madeleines died as we reread Von Wright's biographical sketch and Malcolm's memoir. Upon our return to our sprawling campus, we reviewed our musty copy of Professor Kenny's 1973 book, Wittgenstein, in which the professor explains, or attempts or pretends to explain, "the famous picture theory of meaning," which he describes as "the central doctrine" of the Tractatus.

(Needless to say, the dust jacket says this: "Dr. Kenny's book will be of value not only to students of philosophy but also to general readers with no special knowledge of the subject." According to the publisher, Kenny made Wittgenstein easy!)

Alas! Kenny's explanation of "the famous picture theory of meaning" reads like something The Onion discarded as too absurdly fatuous to serve as winning satire. That said, this is the sort of thing the philosophy student is asked to dunk in tea and swallow whole, preferably without any chewing, pretty much all the time.

So it goes with the highest level work of the otherwise absent logicians of us, Aristotle's rational animal. We expect to return to such ruminations in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, ponder this:

Just before our autumn vacation, we read Professor Egginton's New York Times column about the recent academic hoax. Lustily, the analysts cheered as Egginton lamented the way "overly specialized and exchange ideas in hermetic academic bubbles, in very much the same way that the public has increasingly tended to read and exchange ideas in hermetic news bubbles."

The analysts cheered Egginton on. "Hang on, though, professor," one of the youngsters thoughtfully cried. "Is it possible that the history of western philosophy is a long, perhaps slightly dumb example of this very phenomenon?"

That youngster spoke out of turn, and was suitably punished. Still, our logicians have completely, totally failed us over the course of the past thirty years.

People are dead all over the world because of the silence of these highly specialized lambs. Did this youngster perhaps come close to explaining how we all got to our current degraded and dangerous place?

We recommend Egginton's column! On Monday, though, we'll be forced to continue our current rumination, to the all-too-familiar tune of The Baby Elephant Walk.

Michelle Cottle was working on dating issues, then moved to the Times editorial board! Last week, she sounded off on the only topic these hopelessly cosseted, hermetically sealed life-forms care about.

People are read all over the world because the children have endlessly played it this way. If we might borrow from sacred Hawthorne:

"Rappaccini! Rappaccini! And is this the upshot of your experiment?"

THE RATIONAL ANIMAL WALK: The one thing the animals care about!


Galloping Cottleism:
Early yesterday morning, to the tune of The Baby Elephant Walk, we read Michelle Cottle's Editorial Observer piece in our hard-copy New York Times.

Cottle joined the Times editorial board on June 1 of this year. The appointment was her reward for a quarter century of saying nothing of interest or importance from the highest platforms offered by contemporary pseudo-liberal pseudo-journalism.

The editors, signing with first names only, explained the appointment as shown below. We'll highlight a few key points:
THE EDITORS (5/22/18): We’re delighted to announce that Michelle Cottle will join the editorial board June 1 as our lead opinion writer on national politics.

Michelle has been covering Washington and national politics with passion, nuance and wit since the Clinton administration, and we look forward very much to the sense of history and proportion, along with the gimlet eye, that she will bring to bear on the Trump era. (punctuation as shown)

She arrives from The Atlantic, where she’s been covering the culture and politics of the nation’s capital as a contributing editor. Before that, she was a senior writer at National Journal, specializing in in-depth profiles. From 2010 to 2014, she served as a Washington correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. She’s also been a longtime senior editor at The New Republic and an editor of The Washington Monthly, as well as a frequent television and radio commentator.

Among many other gems, her recent work has included (politely) nudging Hillary Clinton toward the exit, dissecting the #MeToo era in state government and sticking up for unpaid interns—all the while, digging into today’s dating scene as a Date Lab columnist for The Washington Post.

Michelle grew up in Alabama and Tennessee, with stints in Georgia and Mississippi—in other words, she was, as she puts it, reared “red state to the core.” She now lives in Maryland with her husband, children and dogs.

Michelle will be based in the Washington bureau. Please join us in welcoming her.

—James, Katie and Jim
There's only one word for that: Sad.

Among other accomplishments, Cottle had recently been "digging into today’s dating scene as a Date Lab columnist for The Washington Post." This is the sort of performance which signals to lifeforms like James and Katie, and even to Jim, that the gimlet-eyed writer in question needs to be on the board.

To the tune of The Baby Elephant Walk, we thought of the famous paraphrased claim which is now being called "Aristotle's error" within the international expert community. That paraphrased claim would be this:
Man [sic] is the rational animal.
We humans are the rational animal! Could anyone survey Cottle's career and draw any such conclusion? Just consider her Editorial Observer piece, along with other such detritus from yesterday's Times.

Sad! At lest for us pseudo-liberals, the New York Times is branded as our smartest national newspaper. The paper pleasures us with incessant suggestions that we subscribers are cognizant, super-sharp, morally good, even smart.

Yesterday, in hard copy, Cottle's Editorial Observer piece sat in the real estate normally occupied by the Times' unsigned editorials. Meanwhile. on the paper's "reimagined" page A3 (hard copy only), readers were shown a collection of seven "Noteworthy Facts" from that day's edition.

Three such facts looked like this—and sadly, we kid you not:
Of Interest

Big Bird, the "Sesame Street" character, is 8 feet, 2 inches tall.

Adult acne overwhelmingly occurs in women.

Sample questions from the Certification of Astrological Proficiency exam include: What is the harmonic of a quintile aspect, and how many degrees is it? How how often are Mercury and Venus trine?
The other facts which some editor listed weren't a lot more noteworthy. Meanwhile, this:

In the Spotlight section, on the same page (ADDITIONAL REPORTAGE AND REPARTEE FROM OUR JOURNALISTS), the Times presented four photos taken by Viggo Mortensen, "one of the six cover subjects of [T Magazine's] annual Greats issue."

(T Magazine is the Times' reliably vacuous, eleven times yearly "style magazine." Mortensen isn't a New York Times journalist, but his photos had been taken by a Hollywood celebrity. On this basis, inclusion of these pointless photos was, in the traditional phrase, "close enough for New York Times work.")

On the same page A3, yesterday's Quote of the Day concerned the way Canadians can now "smoke pot without worrying police are going to arrest us." Below that, in the Here to Help section, the Times was helping readers out in the following way:
Here to Help
"I don't know why anyone would make a pie instead of a crisp." So Bittman helpfully said as he helpfully started out.

So it increasingly goes as the Times no longer attempts to hide its orange-shoed downward spiral. Meanwhile, on page A22, Cottle's lengthy Editorial Observer piece sat in the place where the newspaper's editorials normally reside.

Recently, Cottle was "digging into today’s dating scene as a Date Lab columnist." Apparently, this convinced James, Katie and Jim that the time had come to add her asp to the editorial board.

It was that, plus "the gimlet eye that she will bring to bear on the Trump era!" For the record, "gimlet eye" is a gendered term which is only applied, within the realm of pseudo-liberalism, to female pseudo-journalists whose fatuous work is designed to maintain the culture which Katherine Boo prophetically denounced, long ago, as Creeping Dowdism.

Cottle has said and done nothing of interest over the past thirty years. Because she had proven herself in that way, the Times had finally come to see that she belonged on the board.

Warning! "Among many other gems, [Cottle's] recent work has included (politely) nudging Hillary Clinton toward the exit." While dropping any need for politeness, it was to this favorite subject that Cottle turned her "gimlet eye" in yesterday's Observer piece.

For the record, we agree with Cottle's first point—with the idea that Clinton's recent interviews are likely to be unhelpful to Democrats in next month's elections. But after five paragraphs of that, Cottle produced a longer discussion of her real interest—of the only topic on which boys and girls like Cottle have been able to focus in the past 26 years.

We read Cottle's piece to the tune of The Baby Elephant Walk. We'll turn to the content of what she wrote as our award-winning series continues.

To the tune of The Baby Elephant Walk, we thought about the way people like Cottle have curried favor at the Times over the past many years. We also thought of the many people, all over the world, who lie dead in the shadow of this destructive behavior.

Inevitably, we also thought of the consensus view of the international expert community. We humans are the rational animal? That assessment should be seen as "Aristotle's error," these seers have now widely said.

Our view? You can't understand our failing culture till you grasp what these experts have told us.

Tomorrow: Pre-rational all the way down

Still to come: You-Know-Who's fourth accuser