NARRATIVE GRIEVANCE AND ITS DISCONTENTS: Rough-hewn Buckeye would re-elect Trump!

SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2019

It's time for Siri to go:
Examples of bad sexual politics are pretty much all around us. We thought of this over Christmas break, when we watched the 2000 Tom Hanks film, Cast Away, for the very first time.

Hanks plays a work-obsessed FedEx manager who jets all over the globe, yelling at groups of employees, hoping to make them work faster.

Helen Hunt plays his long-suffering girl friend. She's subjected to old-fashioned jokes at Christmas dinner about her unmarried status. Beyond that, in the opening chunk of the movie, Hunt is forced to perform the old-fashioned scene in which Tommy finally gives her an engagement ring disguised as a Christmas present.

Hunt gasps in joy and surprise. "How lucky I am," we see her thinking. "I get to be married to Tommy the rest of my life!"

Tommy rushes away for his latest jet flight, then goes down in a plane crash. He lives on a deserted island for years, and is assumed to be dead.

When Tommy returns to civilization, Helen Hunt has married her dentist—the man who isn't "the love of her life." At this point, the film's sexual politics really crashes and burns.

Tommy goes to Helen's house, where she tells him, with genuine ardor, that he is the love of her life. Roughly sixty seconds later, she's being sent back into her house, where she'll spend the rest of her life with the dentist who isn't.

Tommy proceeds to flatly misstate what we've seen her tell him. In the film's final scene, he goes off to Texas, where he encounters a smokin' hot cowgirl who practically flashes him as she drives back to her secluded house in her truck.

The moral of the story is clear. Good old Tommy! He's going to end up with someone younger and hotter! On this uplifting note, the popular movie ends.

It surprised us to think that someone like Hanks would see this film as uplifting. Especially in the first chunk of the film, he engages in condescending conduct toward Hunt, but it seems clear that the film-makers—and Hanks was involved in crafting the script—think the behavior in question makes his character more sympathetic, not less.

That said, the film's finale is fairly straightforward. In our view, the sexual politics was comically awful, but it was being sold by one of Hollywood's most-trusted "good values" male stars.

So it has always tended to go on this planet! This brings us to the liberal world's version of Bill Maher's "new toy," the one "you don't want to break."

We refer to a puzzling joke Bill used to tell back in the 1980s. Discussing his adolescent years, he would say something like this:

"All of a sudden, you have a new toy—one you very much don't want to break!"

If memory serves, younger comedians—most likely, Blaine and Patton—told us, years later, what Bill apparently meant. He was referring to his sexual apparatus, which he apparently discovered when he was in junior high.

The boys were surprised that we hadn't understood. Similarly, they'd always been shocked by the fact we couldn't name the characters from The Brady Bunch, a leading marker of cultural literacy in the comedy clubs of that era.

"We were busy stopping a war" was all we were willing to tell them. How their eyes shined when we did!

At any rate, all of a sudden Bill had a new toy—and at this point, so do we liberals! Our new toy is our dull-witted use of "race" and gender, in which we constantly engage in dull-witted attempts to shame, blame and vilify untold millions of Others.

In these ways, we conspire to re-elect Mister Trump. Just consider the rough-hewn Ohio voter the New York Times quoted this week.

This rough-hewn fellow comes to us straight out of a novel by Hardy. On Tuesday morning, Trip Gabriel quoted him in a report which appeared beneath this headline:
There’s No Boom in Youngstown, but Blue-Collar Workers Are Sticking With Trump
As the article proceeded, it became fairly clear that Gabriel was actually discussing white blue-collar workers. Many former Democrats in this demographic had flipped over to Candidate Trump in 2016, Gabriel reported.

According to Gabriel's reporting, they were likely to vote for Trump again next year, keeping the Buckeye State red.

These people shower after work, one local official said. And sure enough! The first such voter Gabriel quoted had offered this rough remark:
GABRIEL (5/21/19): Whatever benefits decades of globalization brought to some parts of the country, there was no effort to reinvest in regions like northeast Ohio, where steel mills once lined 22 miles of the Mahoning River, and which has bled tens of thousands of jobs.

“The communities were cut loose and ignored and then they voted for Trump
because at least he’s punching somebody in the face, and no one else is,” [Congressman Tim] Ryan said.

One of those voters is Darrell Franks, a retired tool and die maker, who was once a Democrat but now votes Republican.

“What I want from a president is the rest of the world to look at him and go, ‘Don’t mess with that guy, he will get even,’” Mr. Franks said one morning in the Yankee Kitchen in Vienna Township, Ohio. “I don’t want kinder, gentler. I don’t want some female that wants her agenda.”
This rough-hewn voter doesn’t want some female that wants her agenda! Presumably, we all know why this comment was quoted, what it's intended to show.

Darrell Franks doesn't want some female who wants her agenda! Two days earlier, Jay Newton-Small had peered into the souls of the millions of white women with whom such rough men consort, attacking them for their "sexism" in the Outlook section of the Washington Post.

Newton-Small's multiply-bungled essay didn't make journalistic sense. On the brighter side, it did let us liberals play with our new favorite toy.

We liberals! We love to direct sweeping attacks at the Others, assailing them for their racism and their sexism.

These indiscriminate, sweeping attacks make us liberals feel morally good. But to the future anthropologists with whom we've consulted in recent months, these sweeping claims have a different feel:

To the disconsolate future scholsrs who report from the years after Mister Trump's War, these sweeping attacks are "typical of the way this war-inclined species always tended to act."

We humans always tended to otherize Others in sweeping ways, these morbid experts insist. At present, this is our liberal tribe's favorite new toy, one future scholar has told us.

Two days after Gabriel's piece, this scholar directed our attention to this slightly peculiar, lengthy report in the New York Times. The report described a slightly peculiar new study issued by Unesco. Megan Specia's lengthy report appeared beneath this headline:
Siri and Alexa Reinforce Gender Bias, U.N. Finds
It's time for Alexa and Siri to go, Unesco's experts have found!

We thought of that Ohio voter when we read this slightly peculiar report. Early on, Specia described a "particularly worrying" phenomenon, one which lent its name to the Unesco report:
SPECIA (5/23/19): ''Obedient and obliging machines that pretend to be women are entering our homes, cars and offices,'' Saniye Gulser Corat, Unesco's director for gender equality, said in a statement. ''The world needs to pay much closer attention to how, when and whether A.I. technologies are gendered and, crucially, who is gendering them.''

One particularly worrying reflection of this is the ''deflecting, lackluster or apologetic responses'' that these assistants give to insults.

The report borrows its title—''I'd Blush if I Could''—from a standard response from Siri,
the Apple voice assistant, when a user hurled a gendered expletive at it. When a user tells Alexa, ''You're hot,'' her typical response has been a cheery, ''That's nice of you to say!''

Siri's response was recently altered to a more flattened ''I don't know how to respond to that,'' but the report suggests that the technology remains gender biased, arguing that the problem starts with engineering teams that are staffed overwhelmingly by men.
How does Siri respond to insults? At Unesco, that question seemed "particularly worrying," and it seems like a source of substantial concern at the Times.

Is there value to that Unesco report? We're prepared to assume that there is. As noted, bad gender politics is everywhere, even in vehicles designed to showcase the excellent values of Hollywood's most trusted male star.

That said, we thought of that rough-hewn Ohio voter when we saw the persistently dull-witted Times lavishing so much attention on the idea that it's time for Siri to go—that we need to "lock her up."

That day's print edition was crammed with reports which fetishized our dopey tribe's devotion to our new toy. Inside that day's National section, for example, the Times had bannered this utterly pointless report across the top of page A17.

In truth, that report was basically daft. But it was treated as more important than this report, which ran beneath it, about the way Democrats' tax plans might lift the whole middle class.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Truth to tell, our liberal tribe, like other tribes, just isn't enormously smart.

That said, we have a new toy and we love to use it. We often use it in fairly dumb ways—and the Others are able to see this.

When we take our toy out for a spin, we tend to launch indiscriminate, sweeping attacks on the Others. We insult these very bad people tens of millions at a time.

"The species was always inclined to behave that way," disconsolate scholars now tell us.

Huddled in caves, those scholars report to us from the years after Mister Trump's Apocalyptic War. This war followed a re-election brought on by our indiscriminate use of our toy, which we insisted on linking to our instinctive loathing of Others.

"The 'human' race was always wired that way," future anthropologists now say.

Regarding that rough-hewn Ohio voter, we will only say this:

In his instructive report from Ohio, Gabriel quoted David Betras, who recently stepped down as Democratic chairman of Mahoning County.

Betras has made a nuisance of himself this week. Cassandra-like, he's been warning that Democrats may be on their way to losing those "Rust Belt" states again.

On Thursday, he appeared with Chuck Todd on MTP Daily. We thought his closing point was very important:
BETRAS (5/23/19): By the way, Chuck, while I'm talking about "blue color workers," I reject the notion of white blue collar workers.

TODD: That's right.

BETRAS: Blue collar workers come in all persons of color, transgender and gay. They are the ones that are the backbone of this country, that are not paying attention to what's going on in Washington, get up every day, play by the rules. They just want Washington to just give them a fair shot and that's all they want.

TODD: David Betras, it was a pleasure to have you on.
Polls tend to support Betras when he claims that our corporate "cable news" elites are focused on Mister Trump in ways the public is not. Our elites are also love to use our tribe's new toy, often in ways which are transparently dumb.

Betras says that liberals can walk and chew gum. He says you can be for the white working-class and the black working-class at the very same time. You can even support transgender people and gays. It actually doesn't have to be the war of the All against All!

Meanwhile, bad sexual politics exists everywhere you look. We'd like to see boys and young men offered better models. We'd like to see boys encouraged to understand that they should learn to love and respect the girls and women to whom they'll find themselves drawn.

That said, our tribe's elites are self-absorbed, feckless and dumb. They have a new toy which they very much like, and they love insulting Others.

The species was always wired that way, future anthropologists mournfully say, speaking in the past tense.

NARRATIVE GRIEVANCE AND ITS DISCONTENTS: Fetishization and mystification!

FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2019

Recalling Bill Maher's new toy:
We'll acknowledge it as a pet peeve of ours.

We refer to the fetishization of the word "segregation" as applied to enrollment patterns in the public schools. In defense of our reaction to this fetishization, please consider this:

According to future anthropologists, the fetishization of this term was part of the culture of narrative grievance in the years immediately preceding Mister Trump's Unstable War.

Alas! Based upon our nocturnal reporting, future anthropologists now refer to the present era as an age of "grievance-based moral performance art" within our own liberal tribe.

According to these disconsolate scholars, the fetishization of "segregation" was just one part of that widespread tribal artistry. So was the mystification of school "segregation," a mystification performed by Dana Goldstein—she went to Brown—in today's New York Times:
GOLDSTEIN (5/24/19): School segregation is caused by a complex web of factors, including housing policy, how school boundary lines are drawn and the ability of white and wealthy parents to opt out of sending their children to schools alongside low-income students of color.
Goldstein never quite explains what she means by "school segregation." According to future anthropologists, our human wiring led us to accept the gravamen of such phraseology without our feeling the need to get clear as to what was being said.

Fair enough! But note the mystification created in that passage concerning the causes of "school segregation." Goldstein ticks off three alleged causes, part of "a complex web of factors," without mentioning a straightforward cause such as this:
Student demographics, Laredo ISD
White kids: 0 percent
Black kids: 0 percent
Hispanic kids: 99 percent
Asian-American kids: 1 percent

Student demographics, Detroit Public Schools
White kids: 3 percent
Black kids: 87 percent
Hispanic kids: 7 percent
Asian-American kids: 1 percent

Student demographics, Los Angeles USD
White kids: 9 percent
Black kids: 10 percent
Hispanic kids: 74 percent
Asian-American kids: 7 percent
For whatever reason, Goldstein seems to prefer mystification to a rather straightforward statement of fact. To wit:

Many public schools are "segregated" in the way Goldstein seems to mean because very few white kids are enrolled in our big urban school systems.

It isn't hard to state this seminal fact, but Goldstein seems to prefer a more complex presentation involving "housing policy" and "how school boundary lines are drawn." Drawing upon their knowledge of the hard-wired traits of Homo sapiens, our future scholars have suggested one possible reason for this apparent preference:

Dating back to prehistory, we humans were strongly inclined—were hard-wired—to engage in the loathing of Others, these experts have thoughtfully told us. Given that wiring, tribal players preferred a complex web of explanations which suggested bad behaviors by Such People, as opposed to a simpler, more straightforward assertion of blindingly obvious fact.

Why do we have so many "segregated" schools, in the sense intended by Goldstein? In large part, it's because there are so few white kids enrolled in our biggest school districts!

That said, why are there so few white kids enrolled in those big urban systems? In large part, that does relate to "the ability of white and wealthy parents to opt out of sending their children to schools alongside low-income students of color," the third factor Goldstein cites.

Of course, current demographic patterns in our public schools also widely reflect "the ability of [middle-class and wealthy black] parents to opt out of sending their children to schools alongside low-income students of color." And by the way, very few of these villain parents "opt out of sending their children to schools alongside students of color" if the "students of color" are Asian-American kids, our highest-achieving public school cohort.

Here's what we mean by that:

In a recent post which tore back the curtain from certain realities, Kevin Drum identified Irvine, California as the community Where the Racists Are.

According to Drum's analysis,
"hot-blooded racist" families fled to that Orange County location when the giant Los Angeles Unified School District "became too black and too Hispanic."

That said, those same racists don't seem to fear the presence of Asian-American kids. According to recent figures from Professor Reardon, the demographics of the (high-achieving) Irvine Unified School District recently looked like this:
Student demographics, Irvine USD
White kids: 35 percent
Black kids: 2 percent
Hispanic kids: 9 percent
Asian-American kids: 54 percent
Except for the possibility that their kids may develop inferiority complexes, white parents may not mind sending their kids to school with Asian-American kids. But in the fetishized world of liberal "segregation" display, those Asian-American kids are "non-white," full stop. Nothing else needs to be said.

In the fetishized world partly created by UCLA's Professor Orfield, it doesn't count as "integration" if black kids in New York City go to school with high-achieving Asian-American peers.

According to Goldstein's report, "A large body of scholarship shows that nonwhite and poor children perform better academically at integrated schools." But according to fetishized "segregation" thinking, black kids can only be helped by attending school with white kids.

If the kids aren't white, the kids ain't right! Nothing else matters or counts.

According to future scholars, tribal liberals of this era were deeply invested in highly performative "grievance chases." These so-called "grievance performances" were designed to address such concerns as these:
Where the Sexists Are
Where the Racists Are
"Grievance performance" of the era was built around such themes, with sweeping, indiscriminate moral attacks aimed at large groups of disfavored people. And according to the analyses of these regretful future experts, "tout était permis" in the mainstream journalism of the era, just so long as the impression was given that various groups of such bad people were being hunted down.

("So it was with that remarkable effort by Jay Newton-Small," one future expert recently said. "She dropped her S-bomb in paragraph 1. After that, she just scrambled around.")

This highly performative grievance behavior drove enough voters to Donald J. Trump to let the self-described "stable genius" get hold of the nuclear codes. And in the end, it finally happened, disconsolate scholars despairingly tell us during the frequent nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.

Still, the quest for knowledge never ceases in the future caves where these scholars huddle as they feed on the few tiny scraps they've somehow managed to gather. With respect to the way "grievance performance" drove some voters over to Trump, one gloomy expert referred us to this recent report in the New York Times.

"Just look what that one uncouth voter said," this anthropologist told us. Meanwhile, what about Bill Maher's toy?

We may get to Bill tomorrow.

Tomorrow: At the Times, it's time for Siri to go! The rough-hewn voter's tale

NBC-TV in L.A. counteracts fake news!

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2019

New York Times gives Harris a pass:
A funny thing happened when Candidate Harris offered her gender pay gap proposal. For background, see Tuesday's report.

NBC4 in Los Angeles offered some very limited push-back against the candidate's statistical claims. The station's slightly uncertain push-back went exactly like this:
NBC4, via CITY NEWS SERVICE (5/19/19): The gender pay gap is the ratio of female-to-male median or average yearly earnings. Liberals customarily attribute it to discrimination. Conservatives have cited such factors as men being more likely to work more hours and marriage and motherhood resulting in lower earnings for women.

"Once we start controlling individually for the many relevant factors that affect earnings, e.g. hours worked, age, marital status and having children, most of the raw earnings differential disappears," Mark J. Perry, a scholar at Washington-based think tank the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan-Flint wrote on AEI's economics blog, Carpe Diem.
The following night, Harris appeared on MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber and made a series of familiar yet bogus statistical claims (for transcript, see Tuesday's report). Via City News Service, NBC4 had offered some limited push-back the night before.

In truth, the push-back was very limited. That text suggests that it's only conservatives who dispute the statistical claims Harris offered.

In fact, specialists of all persuasions agree with the claims attributed to Perry. Specialists of all persuasions agree that "once we start controlling for the many relevant factors that affect earnings [including] hours worked...most of the raw earnings differential disappears."

Including "hours worked?" Can that really be what he said?

It was interesting to see NBC4 offer this limited bit of push-back because very few others have done so. Note the way the New York Times kept its readers from understanding what they were being told:
HERNDON (5/21/19): The most recent studies on the gender pay gap, which are not based on analogous work, show that women who work full time make 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, adding up to more than $400,000 in missed wages over the course of a woman’s career. The numbers are even worse for women who are also racial minorities—about $1 million in missed wages over a career for Latinas, Native American women and black women, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.
We've highlighted the slippery term the Times used to disguise what was being said. The term was employed by a slippery young reporter, Astead Herndon. Or who knows? Maybe Herndon's unnamed editor reshaped the reporter's work!

"Not based on analogous work!" That's the murky term the New York Times used to keep its readers from understanding what they were being told. We used to be embarrassed to see our liberal team playing this way. By now, we've come to see that this is simply the way our human race functions, especially at end-times like these.

"Not based on analogous work!" In the next day or two, we'll note the types of considerations that wonderfully murky term hides. Keep "hours worked" in mind!

Sometimes, though, a certain highly disordered man has a bit of truth on his side when he thoughtfully rails about the demon he calls "fake news."

NARRATIVE GRIEVANCE AND ITS DISCONTENTS: The answer seems to be Irvine, CA!

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2019

Where the Racists Are:
Maurice Sendak wanted to know "where the wild things are."

In 1963, he wrote a book which bore that title. According to the leading authority on the subject, the book "was voted the number one picture book in a 2012 survey of School Library Journal readers, not for the first time."

According to Sendak's book, the "wild things" largely seemed to exist in a young boy's mind. An array of credentialed anthropologists say this finding had salience for the state of "liberal" discourse in the disordered years preceding Mister Trump's War.

These disconsolate scholars report to us from the future through a type of nocturnal submission which the haters regard as mere "dreams." They have a lot of time on their hands—and deep regrets about the way they may have contributed to the pre-war academic culture they have mournfully come to describe as Professoriate Down.

With respect to Where the Wild Things Were, these future experts now say this:

They say the "human" mind had always been wired to imagine, and to stress, the widespread existence of "wild things" and monsters.

This was once a survival skill, they now glumly explain. In prehistory, this impulse produced an instinctive avoidance of rival tribes who might be inclined to violence.

But alas! By the century preceding the war, this hard-wired human instinct had become a liability, our future sources now tell us.

Within the pre-war "liberal" world, this instinct had devolved into a frequently untethered search for racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes and viewers of Fox News—in effect, for monsters of every known type. By this time, the instinctive flight from the Other had produced a largely unhelpful quest to say Where the Racists Are.

To judge from one recent blog post, we can now say with some confidence where the racists are. According to this recent blog post, they're in Irvine, California.

The blog post was written by Kevin Drum, who has long been our favorite blogger. In our view, Drum's work on lead exposure and lead abatement has been one of the major jewels of the Internet's pitiful history.

Inadvertently, his work on this topic has also helped establish one of the leading discoveries of this era. His work has helped establish the fact that it was impossible to introduce information into the American discourse during the largely disordered years preceding Mister Trump's War.

According to recent work by Drum, "where the racists are" is Irvine, California. We say that based on data from the last four U.S. census reports:
Black population of Irvine, CA
1980: 1.5 percent
1990: 1.8 percent
2000: 1.5 percent
2010: 1.8 percent
Our analysts connected these data to Drum's recent exposé, in which he discusses What The Racists Did.

According to Drum, the racists—indeed, the hot-blooded racists—all moved out of Los Angeles. This explains why there are so few white kids left in L.A.'s public schools:
DRUM (5/18/19): I don’t mean to pick on anyone here. I just want to make it clear that what happened wasn’t really due to cold-blooded forces of either demographics or housing policy. Rather, it was due to the very deliberate, very conscious choice of whites to abandon big city school districts when they became too black and too Hispanic. The middle class did it mostly by moving away, while the affluent did it by moving their kids into private schools.

A lot of things in American life are driven by institutional racism, but this isn’t one of them. This was driven by racism that’s as hot-blooded and as individual as you can get. Over the course of 30 years, millions of whites all over the country made a personal decision that they didn’t want their kids in the same schools as blacks and Hispanics. That’s why big city school districts today are more segregated than they were half a century ago.
When Drum says he doesn't want to pick on anyone, he seems to mean both us and Jonathan Chait. In his post, he cites our own recent report about racial imbalance in public schools—a report which has won many prestigious awards in the future, or at least so we've been told.

For ourselves, we would have thought it was obvious that big urban systems like the three we cited have a paucity of white kids because 1) white families have moved away; 2) white families have stopped moving in; and 3) white families have sent their kids to private and parochial schools.

Drum advanced the analysis by letting us know that the parents who made these decisions are racists—indeed, are "hot-blooded" racists. When we stumbled upon the data for Irvine, we suddenly thought we had an answer to the topic which swamps the liberal mind: Where the Racists Are!

We thought we finally had the answer! "But hold on," future anthropologists have said. "It may not be quite so simple!"

These future scholars note the fact that many middle-class black families have moved away from these urban school districts too.

This happened here in Baltimore, with many black families moving to suburban Baltimore County, whose large school system—the nation's 25th largest—is now 39.4% black, 37.4% white.

As Nikole Hannah-Jones described in a widely-praised report for The Atlantic, it also happened in Tuscaloosa, with black families moving to suburban Tuscaloosa County.

Based upon our own observations, there are reasons to stay in big urban systems, but there are also possible reasons to leave. In a lengthy report in the New York Times magazine, Hannah-Jones described the different ways she and her husband were inclined to assess this matter when it came time to decide where their own daughter would be going to school:
HANNAH-JONES (6/9/16): When the New York City Public Schools catalog arrived in the mail one day that spring, with information about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new universal prekindergarten program, I told Faraji that I wanted to enroll Najya in a segregated, low-income school. Faraji’s eyes widened as I explained that if we removed Najya, whose name we chose because it means “liberated” and “free” in Swahili, from the experience of most black and Latino children, we would be part of the problem...I was determined not to do what I’d seen so many others do when their values about integration collided with the reality of where to send their own children to school.

[...]

As I told Faraji my plan, he slowly shook his head no. He wanted to look into parochial schools, or one of the “good” public schools, or even private schools. So we argued, pleading our cases from the living room, up the steps to our office lined with books on slavery and civil rights, and back down, before we came to an impasse and retreated to our respective corners. There is nothing harder than navigating our nation’s racial legacy in this country, and the problem was that we each knew the other was right and wrong at the same time. Faraji couldn’t believe that I was asking him to expose our child to the type of education that the two of us had managed to avoid. He worried that we would be hurting Najya if we put her in a high-poverty, all-black school. “Are we experimenting with our child based on our idealism about public schools?” he asked. “Are we putting her at a disadvantage?”
According to Hannah-Jones, "the problem was that we each knew the other was right and wrong at the same time." Even in a New York City home which contained an "office lined with books on slavery and civil rights," the answer to this question didn't seem totally obvious.

Two good people had different reactions to a question debated by many families. Was one of them a racist? Meanwhile, Ta-Nehisi Coates and his wife sent their son to the Manhattan County School (28 percent black). Must they be racists too?

We were struck by Drum's somewhat cold-blooded approach to the topic of hot-blooded racism. We asked our anthropological experts to help us understand why we liberals are now so strongly inclined to reason and speak in the way Drum did.

"The impulse to invent The Other is deeply bred in the bone," these disconsolate future scholars glumly and gloomily told us. They then called our attention to Jay Newton-Small's recent ardent attempt to explain Where the Sexists Are!

We humans! We were always wired this way, these future experts have said. From prehistory forward, our war-inclined species was always wired to see one of the Others under every bed.

This was once a survival skill; in the end, it helped bring on Trump's War. Or at least, so we've been told, in a series of strangely moving nocturnal submissions.

We liberals! Our impulse to say Where the Others Are helped create the pre-war world in which conversation has ceased to exist between two rival, war-inclined tribal groups. The moral certainty crept, but then it spread, eventually taking wide hold.

According to Drum, we now knew Where the Racists Were. They had bought homes in Irvine, CA, seeking relief from the populations Drum himself warmly embraced.

"The instinct seized control," two of our future experts said. They then returned to the hunting, but mostly the gathering, which now consumes their post-conflagration lives.

Tomorrow: Narrative grievance wherever you look! It's time for Siri to go!

Recording the (possible) way they were!

WEDNESDAY, MAY 22, 2019

The way the Others voted:
Candidate Biden had a good line during Campaign 2008.

It dealt with Rudy Giuliani. "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence," Biden would say. "A noun, a verb and 9/11."

According to Biden, that was pretty much all Giuliani knew how to say. We modern liberals are like that. In our case, there are only two things we need in an essay—the name of a group we want to loathe, and any one word from the following list:

"Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it."

That's basically all we know how to say! You saw that formula play out in Jay Newton-Small's piece in Sunday's Washington Post. She called white working-class women "sexist," then wandered about the countryside, making little sense.

Very few things she said made sense at any point. But she had the S-bomb right up front, dropped on a group of people we finer people don't like.

How little sense did her essay make on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis? Consider the passage shown below.

In this passage, Newton-Small seems to be supporting her earlier claim that non-college-educated white women were "the only demographic that moved back and forth dramatically" during the campaign. We don't think the effort goes well:
NEWTON-SMALL (5/19/19): By the first general-election debate, Trump was just 2.3 points behind Clinton in the RealClearPolitics average. Then came the “Access Hollywood” recording on Oct. 7, and by their second debate on Oct. 9, Clinton was ahead by 4.6 points. An Atlantic/PRRI poll found that among non-college-educated white women, Clinton and Trump were even at 40-40. If Clinton had held steady among this group, she probably would have won.

Non-college-educated white women picked George W. Bush by 18 points in 2004. They chose John McCain by 17 points and Mitt Romney by 20. The idea that they’d swing 20 points from 2012 to 2016 was wild. And then FBI Director James Comey reopened the investigation into Clinton’s email in the final weeks of the campaign. Non-college-educated white women ended up voting for Trump by a historic margin of 27 percentage points.

At the heart of it was the perception that Clinton considered herself above it all...
How poorly reasoned is that passage? Let us count the ways:

Newton-Small starts by citing a single poll which had the race tied at 40-40 among non-college-educated white women at one particular point. She says Candidate Clinton probably would have won the election if this group had split down the middle this way.

In her next breath, she notes that this same demographic had supported Candidate Romney by 20 points back in 2012. She says "the idea that they’d swing 20 points from 2012 to 2016 was wild."

We're then told that the group ended up supporting Trump by 27 points. After that, Newton-Small mind-reads "the heart of" the reason why these millions of people cast their millions of votes as they did.

In this passage, Newton-Small seems to be supporting her earlier claim, in which she said the allegiance of this group jumped all around during Campaign 2016. It doesn't seem to occur to her that the one 40/40 poll she cites may simply have been an outlier—a statistical misrepresentation of the actual state of play.

She presents no other evidence in support of her claim that the allegiance of this demographic was jumping all around during the campaign. Nor does the following question seem to have entered her head:

If the members of this group are sexist, why would they have considered voting for Clinton in the first place? Why wouldn't they have been strongly opposed to Clinton all the way through the campaign?

Simply put, Newton-Small's essay is basically a novel outfitted with the word "sexist." Basically, this is the way our deeply unimpressive liberal tribe now plays the game.

We bring almost nothing else to the table. We're skilled at naming some group of Others, then making a sweeping statement about their very bad motives. This helps explain why we're now a nation of two tribes waiting for Mister Trump's War.

In case you're interested, this is the way non-college-educated white women have voted since Campaign 2000, according to Newton-Small:
Campaign 2000: For Bush, by 7 points
Campaign 2004: For Bush, by 18 points
Campaign 2008: For McCain, by 17 points
Campaign 2012: For Romney, by 20 points
Campaign 2016: For Trump, by 27 points
Warning! As best we can tell, those numbers come from the nation's exit polls, which are far from exact. We aren't real sure where the numbers come from because Newton-Small doesn't specifically say, and the link she provides in the paragraph we've posted above leads to her own 2016 Time magazine piece, in which she call Candidate Clinton a "hectoring housewife" but doesn't present those data.

Newton-Small's links are persistently useless in this ridiculous way. Under current arrangements, this sort of thing is apparently "close enough for Washington Post Outlook section work." We spent a long time on Sunday with Newton-Small's essay, but we never found a link to any data set which presented those data.

For Molly Ball's discussion of the problem with the exit polls (also in Time), you can just click here. Her headline:

"Donald Trump Didn't Really Win 52% of White Women in 2016"

According to Pew's more exacting analysis of Campaign 2016, non-college-educated white women actually favored Trump by a substantially smaller margin than Newton-Small reports. Using the exit polls, Newton-Small has this group favoring Trump, 61-34. According to Ball, Pew's more exacting analysis found that only 56% of this demographic actually voted for Trump. On the bright side, that's a whole lot fewer sexists!

Newton-Small's essay was journalistically awful. Basically, you learn one thing—we liberals are supposed to deride a large group of Others as sexist.

According to future anthropologists, this is the way our war-inclined species was functioning in the years before Mister Trump's Sudden War. According to those same despondent scholars, this ugly, unintelligent behavior by our vastly self-impressed tribe helped produce the miseries of that profoundly dispositive war.

NARRATIVE GRIEVANCE AND ITS DISCONTENTS: No basic skill levels need apply!

WEDNESDAY, MAY 22, 2019

Killing the pig du jour:
According to several future experts, "narrative grievance" is currently a seminal concept in future anthropology.

According to these experts, the concept is being widely applied to the liberal "grievance politics" of the present age—the political era which preceded Mister Trump's Dispositive War.

In recent weeks, we've been trying to apply this anthropological concept to the rise of liberal "grievance expression" concerning female political candidates. Within this trending grievance expression, liberals complain that female candidates face unusually difficult odds concerning their "likability."

The claim is highly nebulous and extremely hard to prove. But according to Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), a disconsolate group of future scholars who report to us in nocturnal submissions from the years which follow Mister Trump's War, a second hard-wired human tendency helped vitiate this problem for the pre-war pseudo-liberal:

In the realm of human grievance expression of the late pre-war era, no basic skill levels needed to apply! So these mournful future scholars have now quite forcefully said.

"During that era, the journalist could write whatever he or she pleased, just so long as it furthered some pre-approved expression of tribal grievance," one such scholar sadly told us during a memorable recent visit. More specifically, the liberal could write any damn fool thing just so long as he or she was dropping bombs on the Others!

So the future scholar said. She cited the recent essay by Jay Newton-Small as an example of what she meant.

Newton-Small's essay appeared this past Sunday in the Washington Post's Outlook section. It started with the peculiar logic which has been sweeping the grievance movement concerning female candidates:

According to this fractured logic, the 2016 White House election, in which the female candidate decisively outpolled her male opponent, somehow showed that "Americans" (sometimes spelled with a "k") weren't ready to elect a female president in the era before Mister Trump's War!

As we showed you yesterday, Newton-Small's relentlessly bungled essay began with that peculiar claim. According to one overwrought future source, "Once a writer was permitted to start an essay with something like that, it was pretty much anything went!"

At any rate, given the way our tribal species was wired, no basic skill levels were required in the expression of tribal grievance! The pleasure of killing the latest pig overrode the slender desire to perform like "the rational animal."

In the case of Newton-Small's piece, the pigs du jour were "non-college-educated white women." The alleged sexism of this group was singled out for attack.

Sweeping denunciations of working-class whites typified the "liberal" thinking of this era, we've been convincingly told. As we showed you yesterday, Newton-Small dropped her bomb on the Others as shown below, right in her opening paragraph:
NEWTON-SMALL (5/19/19): There are already six women running for president in 2020, an unprecedented number, and two of them—Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.)—routinely poll in the top five among the nearly two dozen Democratic hopefuls. But it’s still not clear that America is ready to elect its first female president. For that to happen, the overachieving women in the race will have to surmount the sexism of other women—specifically, non-college-educated white women.
In this way, the S-bomb was dropped on a very large group of women's heads. According to future experts, devotion to this type of grievance expression typified pseudo-liberal behavior in the years before Mister Trump's War.

"This was typical Homo sapiens stuff," our future anthropologist said. She then took us through the Newton-Small piece, noting the various ways the author had been allowed to proceed.

She started with a savage take-down of one bit of sleight-of-hand. Newton-Small accuses the Others of "sexism," our scholar correctly noted. But she spends her entire essay discussing "relatability."

If a certain voter "couldn't relate to" Candidate Clinton, how exactly did that show that the voter in question was exist? Newton-Small never quite gets around to explaining that point, our future expert said.

More on that basic point below. For now, consider Newton-Small's persistently failing small-bore logic. To cite one sad example:

In paragraph 6 of her report, Newton-Small is trying to finger non-college-educated white women as the demons of the piece. And it's true that this demographic group substantially favored Candidate Trump over Candidate Clinton.

Using exit polls, Newton-Small says that Trump won 61% of this group. A later, more reliable study by Pew—a study Newton-Small ignores—places the number at 56%. For Molly Ball's report, click this.

Whatever! For now, let's examine the quality of logic the Washington Post was willing to wave into print.

In paragraph 6, Newton-Small seems to be trying to support a rather innocuous claim about non-college-educated white women. But note the way she proceeds:
NEWTON-SMALL: In the 2016 election, most demographic groups were predictably committed: White men and older voters favored Trump. Minorities and college-educated voters went for Clinton. The only demographic that moved back and forth dramatically during the campaign was non-college-educated white women. After the uproar over Trump’s disparagement of Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan during the Democratic National Convention, Trump dropped from a statistical tie the day of Khan’s convention speech to around an eight-point deficit a little more than a week later, according to RealClearPolitics’ average of national polls. The most pronounced change was among women: A CNN/ORC poll taken right before Khan’s speech showed Clinton only four points ahead among women; the same poll taken immediately after the speech showed Clinton stretching her lead to 23 points.
Note what happens there. We're told that non-college-educated white women "moved back and forth dramatically during the campaign." It isn't clear how any such fact could demonstrate anyone's sexism, but that's the basic claim which is made in that graf.

But sad! In support of that claim about non-college-educated white women, Newton-Small tells us: 1) that Trump's support dropped at one point among the electorate as a whole; and 2) that the most pronounced change at that point was among women as a whole.

Neither point supports the claim about dramatic shifts in support among non-college-educated white women. But when a liberal writer of the pre-war era was in the grip of some narrative grievance, even the simplest logic was rarely required, our future experts now say.

Frequently, no basic skills were required at all, these mournful experts tell us. Consider what happened when we spent a couple of hours this past Sunday clicking Newton-Small's persistently useless links.

Throughout her report, Newton-Small makes claims about the way various groups have voted in past elections. Generally, she includes links in support of her claims.

But alas! Again and again and again and again, the links she supplies are useless. They take the reader to source material which simply doesn't report or support the statistical claim in question.

We wasted hours this Sunday clicking Newton-Small's links, then clicking the links which were provided within the sources to which we'd been linked. The persistence of the bungling was remarkable—and maddening as well.

We found ourselves wondering if the Washington Post requires any competence from the writers it publishes in its high-profile Outlook section. We wondered if Adam Kushner checks any of the material he publishes there each week.

On one occasion, a Newton-Small link did open our eyes. At one point, she links to a column she herself wrote for Time magazine after the 2016 election.

As with so many other links, the column doesn't support the bulk of the factual claims at issue. But good God! The analysts screamed when they saw that the Newton-Small of November 2016 had actually written this:
NEWTON-SMALL (11/10/16): Clinton chose to focus her campaign on women...But in focusing so heavily on women, Clinton all but ceded much of the male vote, especially the white male vote, to Trump. And she failed to close her case with key groups of women: Millennials, Latinas and non-college-educated white women.

Clinton herself talked about how she wasn’t a natural politician like her husband and President Obama. She’s never had the moving oratory skills they both possess. This isn’t uncommon amongst female leaders. Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meier, Angela Merkel—all are pragmatists known more for getting things done than for soaring inspiration. Clinton, though, ended up playing the hectoring housewife at times to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, lecturing them on their pie-in-the-sky ideas. As one young woman before the New Hampshire primary put it to me: Going to a Hillary rally was like going on a date with an actuary. You knew what she was saying was important, but it was really boring.
Ugh. Today, Newton-Small complains about the alleged sexism of the working-class white women who serve as our tribe's latest Others. In real time, she said that Candidate Clinton had repeatedly come across as a "hectoring housewife."

"That was typical stuff before The War," one future anthropologist said. "This is the way the mainstream 'career liberal' played it during that era—and working-class white people noticed!"

Newton-Small made little attempt to support her sweeping claim of "sexism"—to justify the bomb she dropped on the heads of millions of Others. Her links were routinely useless, her logic routinely flawed.

Indeed, her own past behavior seemed to include the type of conduct she piously now abhors. Then too, there was the groaner. Near the end, obeying a rule, she managed to author this:
NEWTON-SMALL: Clearly, men also face a relatability test—it’s why John Kerry was mocked as elitist in 2003 for putting Swiss cheese on his Philly cheesesteak. Relatability, or the lack thereof, also hurt President George H.W. Bush’s reelection chances when he seemingly couldn’t come up with the typical price of milk during a debate. But for non-college white women, that relatability test is far more personal. It’s more about seeing themselves, or not seeing themselves, in the woman in front of them.
Again, "relatability" is being discussed, with no attempt to link it to sexism, the aggressive bomb she dropped on the lower-class Others. But in this passage, as noted above, we see Newton-Small observing a rule of contemporary grievance expression:

Eventually, the female candidate grievance shouter must, in passing, note the fact that "likability" and "relatability" have routinely been used as weapons against male candidates too.

Newton-Small observed a rule in that paragraph, but she also authored a groaner. We're sorry, but at no point in the 1992 debates was President Bush asked about the price of milk.

Simply put, the incident described didn't happen. Anyone who follows modern presidential politics would likely suspect or know this.

Let's be fair! In this instance, Newton-Small did supply an apparently useful link. She linked to this report by the BBC—a report which made that mistaken claim about President Bush.

That said, the BBC report provided no link in support of its erroneous claim, and Newton-Small apparently looked no further. Along came Outlook editor Kushner, who waved this crap into print.

The essay by Newton-Small is full of bungled logic and useless links, along with the occasional groaner. That said, it expressed a viral tribal grievance, and it started by dropping a powerful bomb on the heads of the Others.

For those reasons, it was waved into print. This is the way the game was played in the decades before Mister Trump's War.

We'll make one last point about "relatability." Newton-Small's Others "couldn't relate to" Candidate Clinton, Newton-Small said. "At the heart of it was the perception that Clinton considered herself above it all."

Without ever quite explaining, Newton-Small attributed this reaction to the sexism of the working-class women who didn't prep where she did. That was good enough for the Post.

But is it possible that some of these working-class women couldn't relate to Candidate Clinton for perfectly sensible reasons? Did some of their votes move away from Clinton when she unwisely said this?
CLINTON (9/9/16): You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.
To just be grossly generalistic! According to mournful future anthropologists, we humans were always hard-wired to think and behave in this way.

According to future anthropologists, everyone knew what liberals meant when liberals made sweeping statements like that. Borrowing from Hemingway, this is the way the game was played in the run-up to Mister Trump's War.

Tomorrow: Spotting the racists of Irvine!

Candidate Harris cons us rubes!

TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2019

Melber lets her do it:
Last evening, Kamala Harris appeared on The Beat with Ari Melber.

What happened was several steps beyond disappointing. As Harrison Ford is told at the end of Witness, "You be careful, John Book, out among them English."

At the start of the interview, Melber asked Harris about her plan to address the gender pay gap.

You can see Harris' initial answer below. Already, things are very shaky. To watch the full segment, click here:
MELBER (5/20/19): Let's start with this. What does your plan do to combat the gender pay gap?

HARRIS: Well, first of all, it is just a fact, right? So the reality of this is that we don't have to debate the point, which is that, on average, women make 80 cents on the dollar to men. If you're talking about African-American women, that's 61 cents. If it's Latinas, it's 53 cents.

So there is an obvious issue that we have around, not only disparities but fairness, and equal pay for equal work. So let's get beyond that because it's not a debatable point.

The question becomes, what are we going to do about it? And I think the goal, we would all agree, should be that people should be paid equally for equal work.

[...]

HARRIS: There should be a consequence, Ari. There should be a consequence to the corporation if they're not paying people equally for equal work. Women deserve to be paid as much as men, and they are not. And this has not changed over decades.
Already, we were in serious trouble. Harris seemed to be saying that, "on average," black women get paid 61 cents on the dollar "for equal work" as compared to men.

As far as we know, no one actually believes that. No conservative specialist believes such a thing. No liberal or progressive specialist does.

As a statement about what's true "on average" across the work force, this familiar old claim seems absurd on its face. But so far, it was possible to think that Harris was merely speaking carelessly, in a way which could be corrected.

Later in the interview, that was no longer possible. Melber noted the stiff financial penalties built into Harris' proposal. Did she really plan to follow through? Harris answered thusly:
MELBER: So that [financial penalty] is a lot. I mean, are you hearing about that from your donors from Wall Street? Are you—is that for real, I guess is what I'm asking?

HARRIS: It is for real because look, Ari, it's for real that that woman is getting paid 80 cents on the dollar. It's for real that that other woman is getting paid 61 cents on the dollar.

It's for real that that other woman is getting paid 53 cents on the dollar. And she's sitting at her kitchen table in the middle of the night trying to figure out how she can pay her bills.

When she wakes up at the same time the next morning as the guy who was working in the cubicle next to her, she performs the same work, but she's not getting paid the same amount. That's for real too.

MELBER: Very, very strongly put and very interesting. I want to get you on some of the other breaking news.

HARRIS: OK.
To Melber, this was very interesting. By now, we were being asked to picture a woman "in a cubicle," working right next to a man who was doing "the same work."

We were told that the woman who was doing the same work was getting paid 53 or 61 cents on the dollar, as compared to the man working right alongside her.

As far as we know, no one thinks that anything like that is actually true "on average." Surely, Senator Harris knows that. Presumably, Melber does too.

As the week proceeds, we'll discuss the way this topic is being discussed out there among them English. That said, it's easy to spot this sort of thing when it's being done Over There, by people in the other tribe, AKA The Very Bad People.

It's a whole other thing to see it done by people like Harris and Melber. In this lunatic age of Donald J. Trump and corporate looting, can this possibly be the best the liberal world can do?

NARRATIVE GRIEVANCE AND ITS DISCONTENTS: The (allegedly sexist) lives of Others!

TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2019

The ways we humans were wired:
Michelle Goldberg's new column in the New York Times starts with a fascinating example of human "narrative grievance."

According to experts with whom we've consulted, "narrative grievance" is a future anthropological term. The current example, attributed to a voter, is highlighted below:
GOLDBERG (5/21/19): On Saturday afternoon, at Joe Biden’s official campaign kickoff rally in Philadelphia, I asked every attendee I met why they were supporting, or at least considering supporting, the former vice president. Often, they mentioned other people whom they thought Biden might appeal to. Again and again, they said they cared about beating Donald Trump above all else.

“On my list of 10 things, 1 to 10 is beat Donald,” said Shyvette Brown, 63. “Health care is 11. And everything else comes after that.” Brown said that she likes Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, but 2016 made her think that Americans aren’t ready to elect a woman. “I don’t like it,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair.” But given the stakes, she wants the surest possible bet. “We can’t play. This is all or nothing. This is the end game right here.”
According to Goldberg, the voter in question would be inclined to vote for Candidate Harris or Candidate Warren. "But 2016 made her think that Americans aren’t ready to elect a woman," so she's thinking that she may vote for Candidate Biden instead.

The voter doesn't think that's fair. But that's the hand she's been dealt, this voter is said to believe.

Goldberg spends the rest of her column urging against such thinking. A cynic's translation might go like this:

Goldberg won't be voting for Biden in the primaries—and she doesn't want you to vote for Biden either.

Whatever! At this site, we're most intrigued by the somewhat peculiar judgment attributed to that voter. Our reason goes something like this:

According to Goldberg, the last election has that voter thinking that "Americans" aren't ready to elect a woman.

Such thinking is now being widely bruited. We find that fact intriguing, because the vote total from the last election went exactly like this
U.S. presidential election, 2016
The female candidate: 65.9 million votes
The male candidate: 63.0 million votes
All the voters were Americans. Despite that fact, the female candidate received 2.9 million more votes than the male candidate did. On a percentage basis, she beat him by 2.1 points.

The female candidate out-polled the male by almost 3 million votes! Despite this widely-bruited fact, a somewhat peculiar judgment has somehow widely emerged:

In the face of those vote totals, voters and pundits have been saying that this very election indicates, shows, proves or suggests that "Americans" (sometimes spelled with a "k") aren't ready to elect a female president! According to this line of thinking, more Americans voted for the person they didn't want!

How do such peculiar judgments emerge? Future anthropologists say this judgment reflects the strong inclination of humans to generate feelings of "narrative grievance."

What exactly was narrative grievance? According to these future experts, the story went something like this:

According to these future scholars, the human race was strongly inclined to separate itself into rival tribes. Once these tribal groups had formed, each group would fashion potent group "fictions"—compelling stories built around a sense of tribal grievance.

According to these disconsolate scholars, individual humans were "hard-wired" to adopt the prevailing narratives of their particular tribe. So strong was this "devotion to grievance" that—to return to the current example—an election in which Americans favored the female candidate could leave people thinking that those very same Americans would never elect such a type!

According to these future experts, humans were especially inclined to adopt such a "grievance narrative" when they saw their tribal leaders expound it. This brings us to a remarkable, multiply-bungled essay which appeared in the high-profile Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post.

The essay was written by Jay Newton-Small, Washington correspondent for Time magazine. It was waved into print by Adam B. Kushner (no apparent relation), current editor of the Post's high-profile Outlook section.

Each attended the finest schools, with Newton-Small prepping at Deerfield. According to future anthropologists, this added to their air of authority within prevailing American culture.

That said, sure enough! Hard-copy headline included, Newton-Small's high-profile essay started exactly like this:
NEWTON-SMALL (5/19/19): Why some women won't vote for a woman for president

There are already six women running for president in 2020, an unprecedented number, and two of them—Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.)—routinely poll in the top five among the nearly two dozen Democratic hopefuls. But But it’s still not clear that America is ready to elect its first female president. overachieving women in the race will have to surmount the sexism of other women—specifically, non-college-educated white women.
Two days before Goldberg's column appeared, Newton-Small had been talking about Harris and Warren too! And she had voiced that same slightly odd thought:

Despite the recent election in which the female candidate got way more votes, she said it’s "still not clear" that "America" is ready to elect its first female president!

Newton-Small handed that copy to Kushner; Kushner put it in print. In several of the nocturnal submissions the haters like to deride as dreams, future scholars have explained this manifestation to us on a purely anthropological basis.

We humans! We were always "the narrative-churning animal," these despondent scholars have said. Meanwhile, these same experts have said that another basic trait of our war-inclined species emerges in that opening paragraph.

They've called our attention to the end of Newton-Small's opening graf, in which she defines, then slimes, a group of Others. "This was an extremely common human impulse," these future scholars have said.

In this case, the Others are non-college-educated women—rather, "non-college-educated white women. By the early 21st century, grievances of the "liberal" American tribe were constantly tied to claims concerning gender and race, these future experts have said. Familiar slights at the "non-educated" were often thrown in, especially by "Ivy League" types.

The sin with which Newton-Small's group of Others stands charged is their alleged sexism. According to Newton-Small, this trait explains why Amerika may not be ready to elect a female president.

Due to the sexism of these Others, we finer Americans may not be able to elect a woman president! The tendencies which emerge in that claim were very common among human beings, these glum future scholars have said.

For what it's worth, Kushner also published this peculiar piece by Donna Zuckerberg (close relation) this Sunday. In her essay, the 31-year-old cyber classicist seriously considered the pros and cons of a nationwide female "sex strike" to protest and counteract state-level abortion laws.

As almost anyone can see, Zuckerberg's piece made zero sense. But according to our scholars, it emerged from the same general stream of "narrative grievance" as the essay by Newton-Small.

Within the context of narrative grievance, that was typically "close enough for human work," one future wag glumly said.

Apparently for that reason, Zuckerberg's piece was placed in print. It supported the feel of narrative grievance, our mordant future scholars have told us. Among the humans, it was pretty much "anything went" once that box had been checked!

Tomorrow: It was "no incompetence left behind" in Newton-Small's plu-bungled piece

Full disclosure: Through a set of technical oddities derived from random nuclear blasts, our anthropologists speak to us from the years which follow Mister Trump's War.

As far as possible, we try to honor their discouraging use of tenses.

Donny Deutsch delivers the mail!

MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019

We'll go one step farther:
On Friday night's Eleventh Hour, Donny Deutsch delivered the mail.

Deutsch has known Donald J. Trump for decades. He remains friendly with Michael Cohen.

As someone from outside the guild, he tends to be willing to ignore guild rules. For that reason, he spoke to Brian Williams in the manner highlighted below about the commander-in-chief:
WILLIAMS (5/17/19): Donny, I don't want to "end dark," but I'm going to have to. And that is to say that, when you are on Deadline: White House with Nicole Wallace at 4 in the afternoon, you are often one of the voices that reminds the table, and reminds the viewers beyond, exactly how bad things are in your view, and exactly how dark we've gotten.

But like the frog boiling experiment, it hasn't felt like that. It would feel like that if we took a vacation on the moon and came back. So the question, how dark are things right now to you?

DEUTSCH: Very, very dark. And I want to say this with no exaggeration. If you look throughout history and [if] you become a student of history and the worst of what humans have done throughout history, Trump is using that play book in every way you possibly can.

You start with creating an "Other." You get enough rich people to look the other way and that's how you get power.

And then what you do is obviously destroy the credibility of a press. You get a judicial system that is no longer independent. You start to blur separation of powers.

And we should be very frightened. It's not just saying, you know, "Oh, authoritarian tendencies." I believe this man is capable of horrific, horrific deeds. And I'm not saying specifically what that is, but let your imagination go.

And also, do not kid yourself. If he gets voted out of office, he will say it was fake. He will say the polls were rigged. He will tell his people to take to the streets.

People have to understand this is not a man who is playing with any boundaries on what a normal civilization and normal democracy has. And I use the word "sociopath," and I know you're not supposed to use psychological terms, but—and Michael Cohen who, you know, stood by his side for ten years, the last thing he said when he spoke to Congress was, "He will not go softly." So the Democrats better get this one right.

WILLIAMS: It is no longer darkness on the edge of town. It's come downtown and all around.

Donny Deutsch, the host of Saturday Night Politics, tomorrow evening, 8 PM Eastern time on this very network. Donny, thanks very much for coming on our broadcast.
Brian closed with a plug for an upcoming show. Donny called Trump a "sociopath" and seemed to say that he wouldn't go peacefully.

Is Donald J. Trump a sociopath? We aren't equipped to make that judgment. Neither, we'll guess, is Deutsch.

Beyond that, Trump hasn't engaged in "the worst of what humans have done throughout history," at least not at this point.

That said, Deutsch has known Trump for decades. In his assessment, Trump is capable of "horrific, horrific deeds."

We don't know the extent to which that assessment is true. That said, we see one flaw in Deutsch's logic:

As he finished, Deutsch seemed to suggest that there's some way the Democrats can somehow "get this one right." We're not sure why he would say that.

If Trump won't go peacefully after an election defeat, he also wouldn't go peacefully after an impeachment and removal. Imaginably, he could start a war to help his re-election chances. Could he imaginably start a war in an attempt to declare some type of martial law after an election defeat, or after removal from office?

We don't have the slightest idea. "Common sense" says that he wouldn't do something like that.

That said, we have no prior experience with a chief executive who seems to be this disordered—with a man our cable team would like to lock up as soon as he leaves office.

In a more rational world, a full discussion of this matter would be under way. But as Deutsch told Williams, our journalists have agreed to play by a rule in which "you're not supposed to use psychological terms," even if the man with the nuclear codes seems to possibly be psychologically or cognitively unwell.

Back in the 1990s, Brian Williams was involved in The Rise of Leadership Down. It was the era when NBC News and its cable arms were directed by General Electric CEO Jack Welch, an aggressive conservative who seemed to assemble a somewhat peculiar Nantucket-based news team.

The war against the woman Trump (barely managed to) "beat" started during that journalistically disordered era. There was a whole lot of "darkness" back then too, but the liberal world stared into air. Eventually, the craziness of people like Chris Matthews helped lead us down the road to our current state of affairs.

(If he hadn't called her "Nurse Ratched" and "Evita" so often, might she have beaten Trump in the electoral college, not just in the popular voter?)

Elsewhere, skillful analysts whose work we admire still want to know why we "obsessed so much" back in the day. That is to say, in real time, not a full twenty years later!

"Basic skill levels still seem to be down," we thoughtfully say to the analysts.

FROM THE "RISE OF LEADERSHIP DOWN" FILE: Digest of reports!

MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019

Starting tomorrow, Basic Skill Levels Still Down:
For readers of the Washington Post, it was a very tough weekend.

For example:

Yesterday afternoon, we wasted hours clicking the links in the Sunday Outlook essay authored by Jay Newton-Small.

After that, we tried to convince ourselves that Outlook had actually published this essay by 31-year-old on-line classicist Donna Zuckerberg. The essay, though perhaps not the person, was a truly strange piece of work.

In the case of Newton-Small, we were maddened by the number of links which led to sources which made no reference to the points, or to the statistical claims, supposedly being established.

Do editors at the high-profile Outlook section make any attempt to check such things? By the end of the day, we assembled the analysts and made a hard statement:

Despite our reports from two weeks ago, basic skill levels still seem to be way, way down!

Full disclosure! Beyond the narrower question of basic skills, several mournful future anthropologists called our attention to several basic aspects of Newton-Small's report for the Post.

"[In her essay, y]ou see the need to make all observations conform to pre-existing tribal narrative," these disconsolate future scholars almost despairingly said. "Beyond that, you see the ancient, hard-wired need to create a group of Others, then to aim a sweeping moral denunciation at this disfavored group."

After hearing from the anthropologists, we were able to see the way these basic "human" impulses surfaced in Newton-Small's essay. Indeed, we almost thought we saw the same pattern in this latest sneak attack on our own award-winning work by our favorite blogger, Irvine's Kevin Drum!

Newton-Small attacked the Others for their sexism. Writing from Irvine, Drum had spotted the "red-blooded racism" the Others had displayed by moving to the very same city he did!

While Drum checked in from Orange County, Zuckerberg wrote from the far side of Neptune. All in all, we'd have to say that basic skill levels remain way down, even within our own tribe!

(Then too, there was Candidate Harris' statement yesterday about the gender pay gap. Under current tribal rules, when Others make statements this misleading—so misleading that they're essentially wrong—we liberals feel obliged to describe such statements as "lies." This seems to fit the pattern described by the future anthropologists, who claim that decades of such behavior greased the skids towards Mister Trump's Eventual Lunatic War.)

Starting tomorrow, we'll postpone our study of Professoriate Down to focus on these new developments. Last week, we explored the dispiriting history of this decades-old leadership fail—The Rise of Leadership Down.

We studied The Rise of Leadership Down! Our reports went exactly like this:
Tuesday, May 14: Alex Jones didn't start Leadership Down. Neither did Donald J. Trump!

Wednesday, May 15: In a clear case of Trump-before-Trump, disordered behavior by stars of the press was already taking us down!

Thursday, May 16:
Diane Sawyer popped the question to Maples. This too was Leadership Down!

Friday, May 17: Drinking beer with Candidate Bush—plus Candidate Muskie's lost tears!
In the view of many future scholars, Trump is merely the craziest yet. Starting tomorrow, a troubling anthropological series:

Basic Skill Levels Still Down!

Rehema and Brian bungle Brown!

SATURDAY, MAY 18, 2019

Lester bungles Brown too:
We saw the report near the end of last night's 11th Hour.

Brian Williams was killing one segment by re-airing a taped report from NBC Nightly News. Hour earlier, Lester Holt had aired the report for a much larger audience.

The report was filed by Rehema Ellis. It concerned the historic Brown decision, whose 65th anniversary has recently occurred.

It could have been a decent report had it been given more time. Also, had it been prepared by actual people who actually know about public schools and who might actually care.

Instead, the report was filed by the kinds of people who draw their massive salaries for our network "news" behemoths. (You aren't allowed to know how large those salaries are.)

And so it came to pass! After flying past some fascinating elements of American history, Ellis attempted to state a fact—a fact which was offered in support of a Preferred Tribal Claim.

First, she spoke to some high schools kids in Topeka, from whence the Brown decision sprang. After that, she inevitably bungled a fact:
ELLIS (5/17/19): Today, Topeka High School is very different than it was [in 1954]:

CRISTINA DE LA ISLA, TOPEKA HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: I learn many different things from other types of people, like sexual orientation, race, just—gender, everything.

CONNOR HARRIS, TOPEKA HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: Together we form a better, like, a better group, rather than separated.

ELLIS: But it's not all better. Recently, segregation for black students has expanded in most of the country. The number of mostly black schools more than tripled between 1988 and 2016.

On-screen:

1988: 5.7%
2016: 18.2%
To watch the report, click here.

Those statistics only appeared on the screen. Taken together with Ellis' statement, they seemed to say that 18.2% of the nation's public schools are now "mostly black."

That claim struck as highly unlikely. Hence, today's report!

For ourselves, we would have liked to hear more from those Topeka high school kids. (Cristina appeared to be Hispanic. Connor was plainly "white.")

But Ellis hurried on to a mandated tribal claim. Public school "segregation" is getting worse—perhaps much worse, she said.

This mandated claim enters the bloodstream through UCLA's "Civil Rights Project," a leading example of the realm which future scholars now sadly describe as Professoriate Down. More on that syndrome in the next few weeks.

On screen, the Civil Rights Project was cited as the source of those improbable statistics, according to which we were told that 18.2% of the nation's public schools are now "mostly black."

That presentation struck us as unlikely, and so we decided to check. When we did, the usual answer came up—Ellis had bungled her one attempt at stating a basic fact.

The numbers she cited do in fact come from UCLA's recent report about the legacy of Brown. We refer to the gloomily titled report, Harming Our Common Future: America’s Segregated Schools 65 Years after Brown.

For the record, Brown outlawed legal (de jure) segregation. American schools aren't "segregated" in that sense today.

(A basic frame of reference: UCLA tends to use the fraught term "segregation" in a way which resembles William Barr's use of the fraught term "spying.")

That said, Preferred Tribal Scripting must sometimes start with a small sleight of hand. And sure enough! When we found the source of Ellis' claim, we found that she had misstated UCLA's data.

For the record, this is what's done on network news by vastly overpaid people who have never spent a day in their lives trying to understand the actual state of our actual public schools. Instead, they tend to work from script—from familiar tribal narratives which run on mandated claims.

As you can see below, Ellis misstated the basic data. Beyond that, no one on network news, or on MSNBC, will ever attempt to report and explain the actual state of affairs.

Here's the passage Ellis bungled. More on this passage below:
UCLA REPORT (page 21): TRENDS IN SEGREGATION

Having seen the tremendous changes that continue to take place among the public school enrollment, we now turn to understanding how those students are sorted among public schools. One way to measure segregation is through the concentration of non-white students in schools. Figure 3 shows the percentage of intensely segregated schools, that is schools that enroll 90-100% non-white students or 90-100% white students. Since the peak of desegregation for black students in 1988, the share of intensely segregated minority schools, that is, schools that enroll 90-100% non-white students, has more than tripled from 5.7% in 1988 to 18.2% in 2016. During the same time period, the share of intensely segregated white schools, that is, schools that enroll 90-100% white students, has declined from 38.9% in 1988 to 16% in 2016...
Plainly, this is the passage Ellis bungled. But this passage doesn't say that 18.2% of the nation's schools are "mostly black." It says something a bit more complex, something which may seem even worse:

That passage—the passage Ellis instantly bungled—says that 18.2% of the nation's public schools have student enrollments which are 90-100% non-white. In the lexicon of the Civil Rights Project, these schools are "intensely segregated."

Many of those schools are not "mostly black"—but all those schools are very heavily "non-white." Stating the obvious, those are quite different states of affairs.

Might we start with an obvious point? It's typical of people like Ellis, Williams and Holt that the one statistical claim they choose to make in a fleeting report of this type will be flatly bungled—will just plain be wrong.

The reason for this is obvious. None of these people have spent ten seconds wondering or learning about the actual racial and ethnic demographics of our actual public schools. Homey simply don't play it that way within orgs like NBC News.

They don't care about piffle like that! Last night's report wasn't put on the air to inform the public about actual facts. It was put on the air for purposes of "virtue signalling" and narrative endorsement—to let viewers know that very good people like Lester and Brian are opposed to "segregation," just like the viewers are.

Lester and Brian are opposed to segregation! They're also devoted to cashing their checks and filling the airwaves with fluff.

Along comes Ellis! She's asked to pretend that she knows, and cares about, whatever it is she's discussing.

Did Ellis know that her statement was false—that it seemed implausible on its face? We have no idea.

Did her claim sound unlikely to Lester or Brian? Readers, please! Lester and Brian don't know squat about any of this!

This brings us to an important question. Assuming that UCLA's data are accurate, why has the reported change occurred? Why is it that 18.2 percent of our public schools are are now so heavily non-white? Why is it up from 5.7 percent? And why should the public care?

Why are so many more schools now so heavily non-white? There are several parts to the answer, but the answer must start with this:
UCLA REPORT (page 4): White students are now a minority across the country’s public school enrollment, and they have been for a while, particularly in the public schools of the nation’s two largest regions, the West and the South. Since 1968 the nation’s enrollment of white students has declined by 11 million students while the enrollment of Latinos has increased by 11 million. There are now nearly three million Asian students and two million students who identify as multiracial...Latino students were 5% of U.S. enrollment in 1970 and 26% by 2016.
Duh. Using the dates Ellis cited, white kids were 68.8% of the student population in 1988. That number had dropped to 48.4% by 2016. (See the graphic on UCLA's page 16.)

According to that same graphic, Latino and Asian-American kids were 14.8% of the student population in 1988. That number had risen to 31.8% in 2016.

In short, there were many more "non-white" kids in American public schools as of 2016! This is one part of a real explanation of the rise in heavily "non-white" schools.

The changes we've cited don't fully explain the large number of schools which are more than 90% non-white. To add more meat to the bones of a partial explanation, consider the recent demographics of the Detroit Public Schools, according to Stanford's Sean Reardon:
Student demographics, Detroit Public Schools
White kids: 3 percent
Black kids: 87 percent
Hispanic kids: 7 percent
Asian-American kids: 1 percent
By the nature of this district's enrollment, it's possible that every school in the system would be "intensely segregated"—would be almost wholly non-white.

There are very few white kids in Detroit's public schools! Down in Laredo, there are even fewer:
Student demographics, Laredo ISD
White kids: 0 percent
Black kids: 0 percent
Hispanic kids: 99 percent
Asian-American kids: 1 percent
None of this district's schools are "mostly black." All are completely "non-white."

The point we're making is simple. Racial imbalance within our schools is often the result of enrollment patterns in our large urban school systems. This is even true in New York City, where only 14% of the students are white and the New York Times is baffled by the amount of "segregation."

Lester didn't tell you any of that last evening. Instead, he sent Ellis out to report on "segregation" in public schools—and the one statistical claim she attempted she got flatly wrong.

That happened for an obvious reason—these massively overpaid people don't care about public schools.

They care about virtue signalling and adherence to narrative. They care about makeup and hair. They care about Q ratings.

They care about their very large checks. They care about sticking to easy story-lines on the extremely rare occasions when they talk about public schools.

Brian aired the segment last night because it made his job easier. It also let him signal his virtue. Brian opposes segregation, just the way you do!

Last night, we heard about NBC's report from several anthropologists. Somewhat surprisingly, they told us how the pseudo-liberal world would react to our own report.

"The pseudo-liberal always loved reports of the type Ellis aired," one despondent future scholar despairingly told us. "They liked the way reports of that type made them feel.

"They won't begin to see the point of what you're trying to say," we were told. "This is what we humans were like the years before Mister Trump's War."

Ellis in the past: We feel sure that Rehema Ellis is a very good person. That said, the last time we saw her report on schools, she authored one of the most egregious groaners ever. To recall what she said, just click here.

As always, she was advancing the corporate message. In those days, the message was this:

Our public school teachers are no damn good with their ratty teachers unions.

NBC was very big on that message back then. This is the way we humans behaved as we tumbled towards Mister Trump's War.

THE RISE OF LEADERSHIP DOWN: Drinking beer with Candidate Bush!

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2019

Candidate Muskie's lost tears:
Yesterday morning, the New York Times published a page A3 exposé concerning the intellectual hygiene of its many readers.

It reminded some of Diane Sawyer's 1990 interview with Marla Maples. For details, see yesterday's report.

All across the future world, anthropologists hailed the relevance of the newspaper's exposé. Today, though, the shoe, slipper, sandal or mukluk is on the other foot.

We refer to the Times' daily "Of Interest" section (print editions only). Sitting atop today's A3, the presentation starts like this:
Of Interest
NOTEWORTHY FACTS FROM TODAY'S PAPER

Bob Hawke, Australia's hugely popular prime minister from 1983 to 1991, once bragged of downing two and a half Imperial pints of beer in 12 seconds.
In the listing compiled by some Times employee, that was today's first "Noteworthy Fact."

In what world does a fact like that strike a journalist as "noteworthy?" Sadly, it recalls the days when the nation's upper-end mainstream journalists evaluated White House candidates on the basis of who the voters "would like to have a beer with."

Who would you like to have a beer with? According to several future analysts, the press corps' persistent focus on such manifest trivia spoke to the intellectual limitations which eventually led to the devastation of Mister Trump's Unintelligent War.

"In the end, this was really all we humans had in the general area of smarts," one disconsolate scholar has said. Beyond that, the press corps' persistent attempts at the assessment of character was a major part of the syndrome which is now widely known in the future as The Rise of Leadership Down.

According to these future scholars, there were many Basic Skill Levels Down during the era in question:

Journalists routinely engaged in fanciful paraphrase. They were persistently overmatched by such basic activities as "adjusting for inflation" and "reporting the actual facts."

Just as Professor Harari has said,
they were heavily drawn to gossip and to the promulgation of potent group "fictions." Their minds would wander to such questions as the one Sawyer raised with Maples:

Was sex with The Donald the best she'd ever had?

Such questions ruled the world of the upper-end press corps during The Rise of Leadership Down.

Journalists of the era had many notable flaws. But above all else, future experts now say, these tribal creatures distinguished themselves by their insistence on forming Group Assessments of Character—group assessments which were routinely comically wrong.

"They kept insisting that Paul Ryan was honest," one future scholar remarked. "What else has to be said?"

Future Historians High in Trees have tried to explain the tendency to produce these assessments of character. Their overview goes something like this:

In the wake of Richard Nixon's downfall, journalists got it into their heads that they should devote more time to the assessment of character. They failed to see that their mental hygiene poorly equipped them for this challenging task.

How faulty could their judgments be? In 1992, Richard Ben Cramer published a three million-page history of the 1988 presidential election.

The book was called What It Takes: The Way to the White House. Though the book was unreadably long and unbearable on a page-by-page basis, it was hailed as a masterwork by other political journalists—a group which was strongly inclined to the familiar human practice of "seeing themselves from afar."

Many reviewers actually claimed that they had read the four million-page book! They would then proceed to hail Ben Cramer's brilliance. The leading authority on this phenomenon cites two examples, then succumbs to despair:
Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Quite possibly the finest book on presidential politics ever written, combining meticulous reporting and compelling, at times soaringly lyrical, prose."

San Francisco Chronicle: "The ultimate insider's book on presidential politics...an unparalleled source book on the 1988 candidates."
Ben Cramer's book codified an emerging type of journalism—a type of journalism in which inane assessments of character were based on trivial bits of behavior, with troubling examples of bad conduct sometimes completely invented.

Inane assessments were devised; journalists would stampede off to repeat them as a group. By the fall of 1999, major players were even basing assessments of character on the number of buttons they'd spotted on one major candidate's suit coat.

The third button of the candidate's coat was taken to be a sexual signal aimed at female voters. Everyone else was prepared to pretend that this crackpot assessment made sense.

So went The Rise of Leadership Down in the years leading up to The War. Future scholars suggest that this rampant group behavior may have worked special havoc on Democratic White House candidates, with only one major exception. (In 1996, Lamar Alexander was taken down in New Hampshire on the basis of the hoary old "price of milk and bread" trick.)

Democrats were routinely hit hard. Consider the 1988 campaign, the subject of Ben Cramer's ten-ton book:

In 1987, journalists hid in the bushes outside the home of Democratic front-runner Gary Hart, hoping to prove that he had a girl friend who wasn't his actual wife. When it appeared that he possibly did, Hart had to leave the campaign.

The journalists then eliminated Candidate Biden on a series of minor character raps. Based upon our own knowledge, they also tried to take out Candidate Gore, making endless phone calls designed to see if he had ever smoked marijuana—AKA "Mary Jane"—when he was maybe 19.

That was just in the primaries! In that campaign's general election, Candidate Dukakis went down the drain when he failed to punch Bernie Shaw in the nose after Shaw asked him a repugnant question which imagined the rape and murder of Dukakis' wife.

Plus, he didn't look right in that tank! So it went as roving bands of journalists performed group assessments of character.

In Tuesday's report, we touched upon the state of this crackpot culture by the time of Campaign 2000. But the syndrome went on and on. It sent Bush to the White House in 2001, Trump in 2017.

Who would you like to drink a beer with? Whose suit coats have the right number of buttons? Whose pants are allegedly hemmed too high, making us look at his boots?

Liberal thought leaders stared into air as these questions were pimped on the public. Borrowing from Hemingway, this is the way the press corps was when devotion to Group Assessments of Character began taking hold of their lives.

In all these bizarre assessments of character, one may stand out most. It came quite early in the era. This particular group assessment involved Candidate Muskie's Lost Tears.

The event in question took place in February 1972. Forty years later, the New York Times seemed to be telling the truth somewhat slowly:
PETERS (1/9/12): People have feared and loathed The [Manchester, H.H.] Union Leader ever since the days of the curmudgeonly William Loeb III, who bought the paper in the 1940s and bullied a generation of politicians with vitriolic front-page editorials. Mr. Loeb headlined an article about Henry A. Kissinger’s appointment as secretary of state with an anti-Semitic slur. Edmund S. Muskie became “Moscow Muskie” and a flip-flopper. Mr. Muskie destroyed his candidacy by breaking down and appearing to cry while denouncing Mr. Loeb at a news conference outside the paper’s offices.
For background, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/18/11.

Interesting, isn't it? Candidate Muskies had been the Democratic front-runner—the guy who supposedly had the best shot at unseating President Nixon.

Somehow, though, he "destroyed his candidacy" by appearing to cry! This puzzle involves his lost tears.

This must be one of the strangest stories in modern press corps history. It involves a front-page report by the Washington Post's David Broder—a front-page report Broder seemed to renounce fifteen years later.

In that initial front-page report, Broder described Muskie in front of the Union-Leader Building, "tears streaming down his face." In an age when no girlie-man need apply, a giant hubbub ensued.

As Jeremy Peters implied in the Times, this hubbub took Muskie out. Nixon cruised to re-election.

In real time, that front-page report took Muskie down and out. But fifteen years later, it seemed that the the report's basic claim was no longer operative! Writing in the Washington Monthly, a penitent Broder said this:
BRODER (2/87): Within 24 hours, Muskie's weeping became the focus of political talk, not just in New Hampshire, but everywhere the pattern of the developing presidential race was discussed. His tears were generally described as one of the contributing causes of his disappointing showing in the March 7 primary. Muskie beat McGovern by a margin of 46 to 37 percent, but his managers had publicized their goal of winning at least 50 percent of the New Hampshire Democratic vote. Underdog McGovern claimed that the results showed Muskie's weakness and his own growing strength. Muskie never recovered from that Saturday in the snow.

In retrospect, though, there were a few problems with the Muskie story. First, it is unclear whether Muskie did cry.
Say what? Back in 1972, tears were streaming down Muskie's face. As of 1987, it was "unclear whether Muskie did cry."

This minor revision was described as "a problem with the story!"

Making this lunacy even more lunatic was a report by Lou Cannon, another major Post correspondent (and one of our favorite biographers). In August 2011, Paul Waldman seemed to tell part of the rest of the story, again in the Washington Post:
WALDMAN (8/14/11): The less well-known part of this story is that some influential journalists had decided long before that there was something slightly off about Muskie. In his 1977 book "Reporting: An Inside View," legendary journalist Lou Cannon wrote that, after playing poker with Muskie, he concluded that the senator was too temperamental to be president. "What does a political reporter do with this kind of insight?" Cannon asked. "As in this instance, it is rarely written as a hard news story the first time the thought arises…What we reporters tend to do is to store away in our minds such incidents and then use them to interpret—to set a context—for major incidents when they occur.”
Future Anthropologists sadly say this was very "human" behavior. To wit:

To all appearances, a judgment was formed while major scribes played poker with Candidate Muskie. Later, basic facts were perhaps rearranged to help us adopt the assessment of character journalists had formed.

In 1999 and 2000, so it went as Gore's words were persistently scrambled to reinvent him as the world's biggest liar. In this manner, the press corps found a way to punish Bill Clinton, and to give us the war in Iraq.

Is that what happened in 1972, when the tears which later didn't exist were streaming down Muskie's face? You'll never see that question assessed. When it comes to our upper-end press, Homey don't play that game!

Al Gore's suit coat had too many buttons. Muskie didn't play poker right.

Dukakis should have punched Shaw in the nose. Hillary Clinton (AKA "Nurse Ratched") didn't ski on the bunny slopes right. Plus, she'd murdered all those people! Meanwhile, you'd like to drink a beer with George W. Bush.

Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM) tell us that, anthropologically speaking, this is all we human beings ever really had.

"Man [sic] is the rational animal?" That was always a fantasy, these despondent future experts have said. "In fact, we liked to gossip and promulgate fictions, just as Harari once said!"

At any rate, so it went during the embarrassing yet unremarked Rise of Leadership Down. This went on and on and on, and then it went on some more. Until a crazy person got elected, nobody noticed or cared.

Was it the best sex she ever had? Mercifully, Maples wasn't willing to answer Sawyer's thoughtful question.

She managed to keep that news to herself. Still, the inanity led to The War. "What I wouldn't give for a glass of beer now," one future scholar has said.

Next week: Professoriate Down!