THE UPPER-CLASS COGNITION FILES: A tale of two faltering states of cognition!

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2019

Joe Biden meets 1619:
What was Joe Biden talking about when he gave that rambling, discursive answer?

You may know the answer we mean. We refer to the answer he gave, last Thursday night, to a rambling, discursive question from ABC's Linsey Davis.

The candidate's rambling answer has raised questions about the state of his cognition—questions we regard as fair. The journalist's rambling question has occasioned no such concerns.

Inside the press corps, that's the way the score has been kept for decades. At any rate, we reprint Biden's answer below, as we did in Monday's report.

What the heck was Biden talking about? Few members of our elite pundit class have seemed to know or to care:
BIDEN (9/12/19): Look, there's institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Red-lining, banks, making sure that we are in a position where—

Look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools. Triple the amount of money we spend, from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out—the $60,000 level.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home.
The problems that come from home, we need—we have one school psychologist for every 1500 kids in America today. It's crazy.

The teachers are—I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have—make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School! Not daycare. School. We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.

It's not that they don't want to help. They don't—they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the, the— Make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there. There's so much we—

DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN: No, I'm going to go like the rest of them do, twice over, OK? Because here's the deal. The deal is that we've got this a little backwards...
As some of our college graduates noticed, Biden's sentences didn't parse especially well. But what the heck was the candidate even talking about?

A few suggestions were clear. He wants to spend more money in low-income schools, possibly increasing the number of school psychologists. He wants to have all 3-year-old children attending actual schools.

It's at this point that the problems began for the elite press corps class:

Biden said something about making sure that parents have the record player on at night so children, apparently low-income children, will be able to hear more words.

Even worse, he said that we should "bring social workers in to homes" to "help [parents, apparently low-income parents] deal with how to raise their children."

As we noted at the start of the week, these hard-to-parse statements did make an obvious type of sense.

Plainly, Biden's reference to the words low-income children don't hear was a reference to the so-called "30 Million Word Gap."

The number of words involved in this alleged gap has moved about over the years, possibly down to just four million, as Biden clearly knew. But you can see the general topic discussed at Education Next in this essay from this past June.

Biden's reference to those social workers was also easy to place. He was referring to programs like the Baby Steps program founded by the Washington Post's William Raspberry in 2003, two years before his retirement and nine years before his death.

The program was based in Okolona, Mississippi, Raspberry's home town. Years later, the Post's Courtland Milloy wrote that the program "teaches mostly low-income parents of preschoolers how to prepare their children for success in school—and life."

For the record, our society identifies Milloy as black. Upon Raspberry's death in 2012, the DeSoto (Mississippi) Times-Tribune described the Baby Steps concept thusly:
SALTER (7/18/12): In 2005, after learning of the early childhood education/intervention effort he was personally funding in Okolona, I asked him to meet me there and to tell me about his vision for changing the game for disadvantaged children in a town with a poor track record in public education.

[...]

Raspberry’s solution was the program he funded and founded called Baby Steps in Okolona. The Baby Steps Program has been a partnership between columnist William Raspberry, the Okolona Area Chamber of Commerce, the University of Mississippi and the Barksdale Reading Institute. Other key community partners include a number of Okolona and Tupelo churches and local volunteers.

“The (Baby Steps’) basic idea is that all parents, no matter how unsuccessful they might have been in school, want their children to succeed academically—even if many of them don’t know how to make that happen,” Raspberry wrote in his nationally syndicated Nov. 17, 2003, column in The Washington Post.

“We propose to teach them. The text for the effort is Dorothy Rich’s “MegaSkills”—a set of 11 attitudes and competencies that she believes lead to success in school and in life . . . the idea is to train the parents themselves, as they children’s most effective teachers, to pass these MegaSkills along to their children.”
What was Raspberry talking about? To cite one example, many parents from low-literacy backgrounds may not realize the advantages a child can receive from being read to—even from being spoken to!—on a daily basis.

Middle-class kids get the advantage of being read to from their earliest years. Lower-income kids often don't get that advantage.

Programs like Baby Steps try to help low-income parents develop the understandings which may help their kids succeed in school. That's what Biden was talking about when he spoke about social workers helping parents—even when he spoke about the (unheard) millions of words.

Biden's sentences didn't parse well. Beyond that, he seemed to fumble the basic idea behind the "30 Million Word Gap," which generally refers to words which are spoken between a parent or caregiver and a child, not to words emerging from a TV set.

That said, it was obvious what Biden was talking about in his jumbled answer. Unless you work for the New York Times, where the constantly angry Charles M. Blow angrily offered this:
BLOW (9/16/19): [H]e gave a rambling, nonsensical answer that included a reference to a record player. But, the response ended in yet another racial offense in which he seemed to suggest that black people lack the natural capacity to be good parents:

We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t—they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the—the—make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.

His language reveals a particular mind-set, one of a liberal of a particular vintage. On the issue of race, it is paternalistic and it pities, it sees deficiency in much the same way that the conservative does, but it responds as savior rather than with savagery. Better the former than the latter, surely, but the sensibility underlying the two positions is shockingly similar. It underscores that liberalism does not perfectly align with racial egalitarianism, regardless of rhetoric to the contrary.
It's hard to get dumber than that. At the Times, though, such maximal dumbness is largely de rigeur, as the French would have it.

Listening to Biden that night, we heard an obvious reference to the 30 Million Word Gap and to such programs as Baby Steps. Apparently, the perpetually furious Blow didn't know what Biden was talking about, although he certainly should have.

Presumably due to his ignorance, Blow thought he'd heard something "nonsensical." Just Like Everyone Else in The Guild, he tossed off a scripted jibe about Biden's use of the term "record player." Then he got very/real mad.

Inevitably, the perpetually furious Timesman thought he'd heard a racial offense. In that pitiful passage by the perpetually furious Timesman, a candidate who may be displaying some cognitive lapses ran head-first into what we might call "1619 Cognition."

Blow, who is perpetually furious, didn't seem to know what Biden was talking about. There should be no giant surprise in that—the New York Times is at its dumbest in the manifest indifference it displays towards the interests and needs of low-income kids, like the children Raspberry tried to serve in founding Baby Steps.

Okolona's public schools are almost totally black. Raspberry, a native son, was trying to help his hometown's young black parents learn how to help their kids attain academic success.

That's what Biden was talking about when he spoke about social workers. But as if by rule of law, the perpetually furious New York Times columnist decided to take racial offense.

(Just for the record, Blow's son went to Yale.)

In this minuet, your see the problem which lurks within The 1619 Project, the self-ballyhooed major undertaking which was announced last month by our dumbest, most upper-class newspaper.

One week ago, Andrew Sullivan announced his reservations about the project, which he regards as a form of journalistic "activism." (He also offered words of praise for some of its early work.)

We think Sullivan's analysis is well worth considering.
We'd planned to offer our own thoughts about the structure of the project, and about one aspect of its inaugural essay.

Instead, let's leave things here, with this tale of two faltering states of cognition.

Biden stumbled and fumbled about, in ways we regard as a point of concern. With his brilliantly one-track mind, Blow took racial offense.

This afternoon, we'll show you a letter in today's Times in which a highly suggestible Santa Cruz reader thanks Blow for helping her spot Biden's troubling "racism." Anthropologists came to us with a troubling message:

You simply can't be this dumb and this scripted without ending up with a Trump! Such reactions are "cognitively suspect," these top major experts said.

99 comments:

  1. Well, this Blow fella is right about one thing: you liberal zombies are racists thru and thru. You are zombie-supremacists.

    Arrogantly paternalistic and humiliatingly patronizing.

    No wonder he gets angry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are all racists to some extent because we live in a racist society. It is racist because of the legacy of slavery, which is something we all need to understand, hence the NY Times 1619 project.

      A well educated, high achieving person with dark skin, such as Blow, will have encountered mistaken assumptions and be aware of the injustice more than someone who conforms to such expectations. Somerby seems to think that Blow is exempt from racism (his son went to Yale, after all). It doesn't work that way. The more you diverge from stereotypes the more you come into conflict with social expectations and the more you feel their impact.

      Gender non-conforming women bear the brunt of sexism in our society. It isn't he women who conform to stereotypes who have the problems with them. It is the women who don't.

      Blow is exactly the person who would object to Biden's beliefs about black parents and their need to have white people teach them how to raise their kids.

      Mao is the last person with standing to talk about America's racial problems, coming from a state that has devolved into a series of separate countries, safely insulating mother Russia from its minorities.

      Delete
    2. "We are all racists to some extent because we live in a racist society."

      If so, you may want to move to a different neighborhood, dear dembot.

      Delete
    3. The way to combat any form of bias is to (1) make it explicit and identify it for what it is, (2) formulate policies and rules that will prevent its operation so that this isn't left to individuals who may not realize their own biases.

      This is why musicians applying for jobs should audition behind screens, and why race is left off applications for jobs and college admission (until after the decision is made) and why businesses need to formulate a policy for dealing with customers, train employees and then treat everyone equally.

      Blow is attempting to do step (1) above, making the bias explicit so that its influence can be lessened. Biden is clueless. That is his problem and he is too influential not to recognize the need to eliminate the main source of inequality in our society, racism. It blocks opportunities even when people are fully prepared to take advantage of them.

      Delete
    4. "the main source of inequality in our society, racism"

      Some weird society you live in, dembot. Or perhaps all this 'racism, the main source of inequality' thingy lives entirely inside your zombified head?

      Delete
    5. Check your privilege Mao, if you think racism is imaginary you are clearly someone who is not on the receiving end, which means your privilege as a non-minority is blinding you to what other people experience.

      Delete
    6. Being a Conservative,Mao has probably been on the receiving end when someone wrongly called him a "bigot" for emailing a photoshopped image of Obama with a bone through his nose.

      Delete
    7. But Mayor de Blasio and his efforts are sacrosanct.

      Somerby should get another blog dedicated to his fatuous and infantile trolls.

      There, he could just type “up” so they could all wring their hands and type “down!”

      Delete
    8. Somerby should get out of the business altogether. Prager and Ben Shapiro work the Right-wing blog idiocy better than he does.

      Delete
  2. Assuming that it is disadvantaged black parents alone who do not know how to help their babies learn words is racist. Biden conflates race and poverty. Yes, they are correlated, but there are many white parents who also lack literacy skills and do not know how to help their babies learn. In California, the First Five program is aimed at everyone, not just black parents. Blow is justifiably angry at being stereotyped as an inadequate parent simply because he is black.

    Biden is out of step with the times. He doesn't know how to navigate a multicultural society. He would not be a very good president. A rambling question is designed to give him plenty of latitude to find an answer that advances his campaign's goals. Normally, candidates give the answer they want to get across, whether it is relevant to the question or not. That he couldn't speak coherently suggests he was unprepared for the debate and he is not up to the job of being president.

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    1. Assuming that it is disadvantaged black parents alone who do not know how to help their babies learn words is racist. Biden conflates race and poverty.

      It’s your assumption, but it’s Biden who’s doing the conflating? Nice trick there, Corby.

      Blow is justifiably angry at being stereotyped as an inadequate parent simply because he is black.

      I doubt Blow takes his own misunderstanding personally. He’s a NYT columnist. New York Magazine puts that salary range at $150K-$350K. He’s a well-respected author, and he’s in the $10K-$20K range for speaking fees. His son goes to Yale. He’s angry because he thinks Biden stereotypes poor black parents as being innately bad at raising children.

      But he’s not justified in so thinking. That’s the point.

      That he [Biden] couldn't speak coherently suggests he was unprepared for the debate and he is not up to the job of being president.

      Are you sure? Bar is pretty low these days.

      Delete
  3. Biden has been accused of similarly holding benign sexist views toward women. He is paternalistic toward them too and wants to help them, but doesn't consider them equal to men or deserving of equal treatment.

    He supposedly puts his hands all over women in order to "help" them, to calm and comfort them, since women are fragile, over-emotional and need help controlling themselves in situations where they are in the public spotlight (such as on a stage or podium with him or at a public meeting). No doubt he fondles children for the same reason. This belief that women need his special help is objectionable in the same way as Blow's criticism of him. He doesn't treat men that way.

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  4. I don't see any connection between Biden's assumptions about black parents, Blow's umbrage, and the 1619 project. I understand that Somerby thinks it is a big mistake, but how is it relevant to Biden and Blow?

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    1. Biden didn’t make an “assumptions” about black parents. He was talking about studies that show that the verbal lives of poor children are barren compared to those of children not born to parents in the middle class and above. This goes by the name the “X Million Word Gap,” where 2<X<30, depending on whom you talk to. This isn’t the easiest thing to discern through all of Biden’s bloviation, but he wasn’t talking about black children only.

      Charles Blow took offense claiming that Biden had suggested that “black people lack the capacity to be good parents.” Biden wasn’t talking about poor parents, not black parents, and he said nothing about lacking capacity, just about lacking teachable skills.

      TDH says that Blow immediately charged Biden with racial offense because he saw Biden’s words through the over-riding filter of race, just like the 1619 Project is said to have done.

      Delete
    2. Just like the question the moderator asked him, which was about race, not poverty. It was about racial inequality in schools.

      Delete
    3. Sorry, @10:13A, I'm confused. "Just like the 1619 Project" means using race as the sole and overriding lens for viewing the US." How does that apply to the question the moderator asked Biden?

      Delete
  5. Biden says:

    “I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools. Triple the amount of money we spend, from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out—the $60,000 level.”

    Somerby, January 2019:
    “That said, might those data perhaps suggest that funding isn't a determining factor in public school performance? You'll never see such questions explored by uncaring rags like the Times!”

    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2019/01/completing-our-california-public.html

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    Replies
    1. Here is one of many articles showing that school funding is important to educational outcomes:

      http://neatoday.org/2018/08/01/money-matters-in-education/

      Delete
  6. "You simply can't be this dumb and this scripted without ending up with a Trump! Such reactions are "cognitively suspect," these top major experts said."

    No top major expert has said anything remotely like this jumbled mess of a sentence. Use of the word "cognition" doesn't give any credibility to Somerby's claim that liberals gave us Trump by being liberal and doing what liberals do.

    As a top expert in cognitive science myself, I am choosing to find offense in Somerby's repeated use of the word cognition to beef up his complaints. Words have meanings that need to be respected if we are to communicate effectively. Somerby needs to lay off and stop evading responsibility for his opinions by cloaking them in misused terms.

    We have Trump because of Comey, Republican collusion with Russian interference in our election process, and because people like Somerby voted for him. I don't believe for a minute that Somerby voted for Clinton.

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    1. Marie, Queen of RomaniaSeptember 20, 2019 at 11:58 AM

      "As a top expert in cognitive science myself, I am choosing to find offense...."

      Thanks for the laugh, top expert in taking offense.

      If you think TDH actually consulted "top major experts," then you probably think he's got a staff of assistants at his sprawling campus.

      Delete
    2. Somerby always says what he means, except when he doesn’t. Only his acolytes know the difference.

      Delete
    3. Marie, this is exactly my point. Somerby tries to give credibility to his garbage by attributing it to more than himself, whether experts in cognition or anthropologists or MLK or Aristotle or his analysts. It is tiresome nonsense.

      In a civil society, people avoid giving offense to others. In a social relationship, people do not want to give offense because they recognize that it hurts others they may care about. On the internet no one cares about anyone else. But civil discourse depends on respecting the needs and concerns of other people. Those who don't are called trolls. When civility stops, so does any meaningful conversation.

      When Somerby objects that Blow takes too much offense, he is breaking rules of civility and saying that he doesn't care about Blow. It is Somerby's choice to declare that he doesn't care about the feelings of Blow or people like him, who consider racism hurtful, but note what that means for Somerby's supposed liberalism. It makes him a not-nice person, in my opinion, but it also rules him out as someone who cares about social injustice -- and that is something liberals do care strongly about.

      Next, Somerby will be calling Blow a grifter and trying to tell us that Blow is manufacturing his sense of outrage, which is another way of telling us that black people have no right to complain about how they are treated. Liberals don't do that.

      Delete
    4. Marie, this is exactly my point.

      I have a confession to make: I posted as Marie to make fun of your claim of expertise. It’s kind of an old reference, so I can’t blame you if you missed it. Queen Marie was a popular celebrity in the ‘20s and ‘30s, and it was said that the delusional would often claim to be her. Dorothy Parker wrote a famous poem:

      Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
      a medley of extemporanea,
      And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
      and I am Marie of Romania.


      It was once common for people to reply to a grandiose claim by repeating the last line.

      Somerby tries to give credibility to his garbage by attributing it to more than himself, whether experts in cognition or anthropologists or MLK or Aristotle or his analysts. It is tiresome nonsense.

      The trope, especially Aristotle, is extremely tiresome, but do you really think that TDH is claiming to talk to real “future anthropologists”? If so, do you think he often leaves his “sprawling campus” on “missions of national import” to “undisclosed locations”?

      In a civil society, people avoid giving offense to others.

      They do? Uh,oh.

      But civil discourse depends on respecting the needs and concerns of other people. Those who don't are called trolls.

      No, trolls may be rude, but the defining characteristic of trolls is their need to elicit an angry response. Mao is a troll, in fact, our Village Troll. He delights in having people angrily respond to “dembot zombie psycho witch.”

      When civility stops, so does any meaningful conversation.

      I think you’ve confused civility with meaning.

      When Somerby objects that Blow takes too much offense, he is breaking rules of civility and saying that he doesn't care about Blow.

      Why wouldn’t he be saying that he doesn’t care for Blow’s argument?

      It is Somerby's choice to declare that he doesn't care about the feelings of Blow or people like him,….

      But that’s not TDH’s declaration about Blow; it’s yours about TDH.

      …who consider racism hurtful, but note what that means for Somerby's supposed liberalism. It makes him a not-nice person, in my opinion, but it also rules him out as someone who cares about social injustice -- and that is something liberals do care strongly about.

      Speaking for not-nice persons everywhere, aren’t you more concerned with whether we’re right and not whether we’re nice?

      Next, Somerby will be calling Blow a grifter and trying to tell us that Blow is manufacturing his sense of outrage, which is another way of telling us that black people have no right to complain about how they are treated.

      Next?

      Liberals don't do that.

      Of course not, but that’s not what TDH is doing, and you seem to agree.

      Delete
    5. deadrat fooled me by posting as Maria.
      I never even thought it might be deadrat, because "Maria" didn't pretend Somerby doesn't repeat nonsensical Right-wing memes on his blog.

      Delete
  7. If I were going to pick out two "faltering states of cognition," I would pick Andrew Sullivan and Bob Somerby.

    It is anybody's guess who Somerby is actually referring to, since he is all over the map and criticizes so many people.

    I guess Sanders is up to the mark cognitively speaking. He never gets mentioned in these rambling, incoherent essays.

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    1. Sparky @11:47 writes

      It is anybody's guess who Somerby is actually referring to

      No, the only people who have to guess whom TDH is “actually referring to” are people like you who can’t or won’t read for comprehension.

      Here’s TDH, obviously pounding away in his usual obsessive way:

      “Instead, let's leave things here, with this tale of two faltering states of cognition.

      Biden stumbled and fumbled about, in ways we regard as a point of concern. With his brilliantly one-track mind, Blow took racial offense.”

      (Emphasis mine.)

      The two “faltering states of cognition” are 1) Biden’s, based on his rambling reply to a question and 2) Blow’s for jumping to racial offense at the reply, which contained nothing offensive.

      Now TDH’s conclusions about Biden and Blow are as may be, but there’s no mystery whom he’s talking about.

      Except, of course, to you.

      Delete
    2. So, the NY Times doesn't have faltering cognition over its 1619 piece. It was mentioned too. And what about Linsey Davis who gave Biden such a rambling question? Blow is described as angry and dumb but not muddled. And then there is that Suggestible Santa Cruz reader. What about her cognition?

      You keep telling us not to read Somerby's mind, but there you go, doing it yourself.

      Delete
    3. Go back and read the lines I quoted. Sound out the big words if it will help.

      It doesn’t take mind reading to figure out who the two targets are. TDH flat out tells you: Biden (who stumbled) and Blow (who took offense).

      What about Linsey Davis? TDH simply says that her rambling occasioned no comment.

      Does TDH think the NYT has “faltering cognition” over the 1619 Project? I don’t know. He hasn’t said. Given his reference to Sullivan, my guess is that he’ll fault the 1619 Project for elevating ideology over history, which will lead to a great deal of misunderstanding. He uses Project to cudgel Blow.

      Blow is described as angry and dumb but not muddled.

      In TDH’s view, Blow is angry and dumb because he didn’t do his homework and failed to understand what Biden was talking about. Do you think that being wrong isn’t a failure of cognition if you’re clear about being wrong?

      And then there is that Suggestible Santa Cruz reader. What about her cognition?

      We don’t know yet, do we? It’s called a teaser for the next episode. Did that really distract you from the Biden/Blow thing? You must have trouble watching TV series.

      Honestly, what’s wrong with you?

      Delete
    4. Honestly, what's wrong with YOU? You get to pick and choose the two cognitions because Somerby won't accept responsibility for stating who he is talking about, then you assume that your choices are so self-evident that no one else could make a different choice and then you ask what's wrong with me?

      Watch out -- you are attributing various anonymous views to the wrong people. Better not to assume that one anonymous commenter is someone else above. Deal with what was said, not who said it.

      Delete
    5. Honestly, what's wrong with YOU?

      How much time ya got?

      You get to pick and choose the two cognitions

      I’m not picking and choosing. I’m reading and quoting.

      [Y]ou assume that your choices are so self-evident that no one else could make a different choice….

      TDH writes those choices out for you in plain, simple English. What do you want him to do, use a larger font? Other people can and do make different choices, evidently because they can’t read for comprehension.

      Watch out -- you are attributing various anonymous views to the wrong people.

      Too. Fucking. Bad.

      Better not to assume that one anonymous commenter is someone else above. Deal with what was said, not who said it.

      And even better not to waste my time trying to figure out which clueless Anonymous is writing. Someone who doesn’t have the courtesy to distinguish his or her writing doesn’t get to have his or her whining taken seriously when people can’t figure out who’s commenting.

      Deal with what was said, not who said it.

      No response I’ve written depends on whom I’m responding to.

      Deal with that.

      Delete
  8. It might have been nice, and shown signs of cognitive ability, if Biden had specifically mentioned the Baby Steps program and its founder (if that’s what he had in mind), or if perhaps he had mentioned “Too Small To Fail” in the context of “Make sure that kids hear words.” This was an initiative of the ... wait for it ... Clinton Foundation.

    http://toosmall.org/mission

    (It might also be nice if Somerby himself had done some follow up on the Baby Steps program...he’s mentioned it only 4 times since 2012).

    Biden’s answer is just a jumbled laundry list that comes off sounding like bs. If this were important to him, he would have given a better answer.

    But you won’t hear Somerby call Biden a terrible candidate. No sir. At least he never called himself an AMERICAN INDIAN.

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    1. Sparky @11:50A opines

      But you won’t hear Somerby call Biden a terrible candidate.

      Unless, of course, if you’re not paying attention to what you’re reading or unable to read for comprehension in the first place

      Here’s TDH yesterday (9/19/19):

      Personally, we think Biden is a terrible candidate within a field of terrible candidates.

      (Emphasis mine.)

      TDH doesn’t just think Biden is a terrible candidate in general; TDH think’s he’s terrible amongst terribles.

      Delete
    2. I don't think that calling Biden terrible at the same time as calling all the other candidates terrible too is really singling him out as terrible.

      Somerby has now spent a lot of time here trying to rehabilitate Biden. Personally, I think he is trying to fend off Warren and Harris (anyone but the female candidates) and preserve Biden so that Bernie can finish him off.

      Delete
    3. Well, bully for him. I miss one post and there you are.

      It doesn’t change the fact that he has now done several posts devoted to Warren’s terrible sin, and she has the honor of being the first candidate called terrible by Somerby.

      If you contrast what he said about Biden with what he said about Warren, you will see a significant difference.

      Example: Warren has discussed her ideas about education. Where is Somerby’s analysis of that? Even though he now claims Biden is terrible, here he is today giving him credit for some decent ideas on education.

      And if Somerby is going to denounce all the candidates as terrible, perhaps he ought to list his specific reasons why.

      Why exactly is Biden terrible?

      Delete
    4. Somerby doesn't denounce Trump as terrible most of the time because Somerby is an ardent Trumptard.

      Delete
    5. Personally, I think he is trying to fend off Warren and Harris….

      Personally, I’m not taking seriously the thinking of someone who can read the claim “Biden is a terrible candidate” and conclude that the claimant isn’t really calling Biden a terrible candidate.

      Delete
    6. I know you are asking Somerby to explain his reasons, but I think Biden is terrible because (1) he puts his hands all over women and children and refuses to stop when called out on it, (2) he didn't let Anita Hill's corroborating witnesses testify leaving her to be mischaracterized by the right and letting Clarence Thomas on the court, (3) he wrote a bad crime bill, (4) he pushed through a bill changing bankruptcy laws in favor of credit card companies in his district that is one reason why so many college grads are drowning in debt, (5) he tried to knock Hillary out of the race in 2008 and considered it in 2016, (6) he is too moderate in his current thinking (assuming he is the one doing the thinking for his campaign these days).

      Delete
    7. Forgot (7) he refuses to apologize for anything in the past or admit to mistakes and that means he cannot change his mind and lacks flexibility.

      Delete
    8. 1. Except that he has.
      2. Agree
      3. The crime bill that passed the Senate 94-5 with the endorsement of the Black Caucus?
      4. Yeah, Delaware (his state, not his district). But college grads are drowning in debt because student loans aren’t dischargeable in bankruptcy. Nothing to do with credit cards.
      5. Politics ain’t beanbag.
      6. OK
      7. He apologized to Anita Hill. She just rejected it as not good enough.

      You forgot 8. He thinks he can work with Mitch McConnell.

      Delete
    9. Well, bully for him. I miss one post and there you are.

      Yup, make one flat-out egregious error, and there I am. It’s like speaking the devil’s name only to find that he's appeared behind you.

      This isn’t exactly the response I’d hoped for, although now that I think about it, it’s the response I should have expected.

      It doesn’t change the fact.

      Is that metalic screeching I hear the sound of goal posts being moved?

      … that he has now done several posts devoted to Warren’s terrible sin, and she has the honor of being the first candidate called terrible by Somerby.

      Why, yes it is.

      Example: Warren has discussed her ideas about education. Where is Somerby’s analysis of that?

      Has the press taken up Warren’s plans and botched their coverage? You still don’t get what TDH writes about, do you?

      Even though he now claims Biden is terrible, here he is today giving him credit for some decent ideas on education.

      Except, of course, he never gives Biden “credit” or praises the programs he refers to. He says that Biden’s rambling was about the X Million Word Gap and William Raspberry’s Baby Steps program, two things that Charles Blow should have figured out before he started yelling, “Racist!”

      And if Somerby is going to denounce all the candidates as terrible, perhaps he ought to list his specific reasons why.

      He’s said that Biden is too old, Harris knowingly shades the truth about the wage gap, and that Warren is hobbled by Pocahontas.

      Why exactly is Biden terrible?

      Didja read his answer above?

      Look, I’m not saying that there isn’t a case to be made that TDH has his thumb on the scales in favor of Biden and against Warren.

      I’m saying you’re not very good at making it.

      Delete
    10. "You still don’t get what TDH writes about, do you?"

      Repeating Right-wing nonsense memes, and
      "both-spidering" Right-wing malfeasance.

      Somerby acts like the media, not a media critic.

      Delete
  9. Charles Blow assumed that comments he didn't understand were "nonsense" and "racist". Bigotry flourishes when people assume that anything they don't understand is bad or wrong.

    "Those people dress differently than I do, so they're bad!" "Those people speak with a different accent, so they're bad!" "Those people have a different skin color or different religion so they're bad!" "I don't understand this person's policies, so he's bad."

    A dose of humility would be useful...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please point to the part where Blow says he didn’t understand Biden’s comments.

      Delete
    2. @12:19 That's what I understood Bob's post to be about. According to Bob, Blow didn't realize that Biden was referring to certain specific programs and approaches. Biden deserves criticism for not mentioning what he was talking about. Biden may have been incomprehensible, but he wasn't nonsensical or racist.

      Delete
    3. Blow thinks Biden was being saying racist things. Blow is not criticizing Biden for being incoherent.

      Delete
  10. When one compares the meager (vanishingly small) number of Somerby posts about Too Small To Fail or Baby Steps to the interminable number of posts talking about Roy Moore’s dating habits, the mind reels.

    It also shows where the true interests of the blogger lie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The google says that “Roy Moore” was mentioned at this site about 85 times. Using the search term “NAEP” as a stand-in for educational issues, the google finds about 700 references.

      (I didn’t spend time looking for duplicates or false drops, so don’t write in, OK?)

      Where do your “true interests” lie? Lie being the operative word.

      Delete
    2. This is ridiculous. @12:15 mentions Baby Steps, not NAEP. NAEP is a stick used to beat liberals. It shows that Somerby has no interest whatsoever in educational solutions. Baby Steps is a solution. NAEP is a test.

      Somerby does lie -- thank you for acknowledging that.

      Delete
    3. @deadrat
      Yes. One would think that the Naep score is all there is to education if you only read Somerby.

      And *85* (!) Roy Moore posts. That’s 85 posts that didn’t discuss Too Small To Fail, or Baby Steps, or deBlasio’s universal pre-k in NYC, or Warren’s universal child care proposals etc etc. You know, all those liberal ideas that show how they don’t care.

      No. TDH readers definitely needed those 85 Moore posts.

      Delete
    4. By my lights, Moore has awful views. He would be a terrible Senator. However, even people with wrong-headed views deserve intelligent, fair media coverage. The media were very unfair to Moore. Bob had a lot of posts on Moore, because there was a lot of ignorant, unfair media coverage of him.

      Delete
    5. Yes, there was practically nothing else being covered during that time. It was vitally important for liberal Somerby to expend so much time and energy correcting the record about an awful man, a conservstive politician, and a pedophile. Great use of the TDH platform.

      Delete
    6. We don't do "fair" anymore, David, you treasonous bastard. Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, is the boss now, and you better fucking fly straight or you might find a horse's severed head in your bed. Just go fuck off, David, you have forfeited for all eternity your right to question anybody about anything. Go crawl under your rock you treasonous bastard, nobody wants to hear your bullshit here.

      Delete
    7. David, you stupid fuck. You were taking the media literally or seriously.

      Delete
    8. Speaking of "emotion work", whatever that is, you definitely need it, mm.

      Delete
    9. @12:15 mentions Baby Steps, not NAEP. NAEP is a stick used to beat liberals.

      NAEP is stand-in for educational issues. And it is a stick used to beat the liberal press at least. They deserve it.

      It shows that Somerby has no interest whatsoever in educational solutions.

      Or not enough expertise to comment. Do you really come here to find solutions to the problems of education? I thought it was just to whine.

      Baby Steps is a solution.

      Yeah? How’d that work out?

      Somerby does lie -- thank you for acknowledging that.

      Nice try, Sparky, but I was talking about you.

      Delete
    10. Cec, thank you for your concern. I assure you I am fine. I am making a point whether you choose to recognize it or not. It might be better if you tried to address it. Check out Bill Maher's New Rule from last night. I find DinC comical with his hypocrisy.

      Delete
    11. "Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President"

      Have some respect for the office he holds. Call him failed businessman, Donald J. Trump, or don't use his name at all.

      mm,
      I don't mean to single you out. Everyone should refer to Trump as a failed businessman.

      Delete
    12. 11:20,

      I criticize the man, not the office. I will show respect for the office he holds when he shows respect for our government. He wipes his corrupt fat lying ass with our Constitution every day.

      "Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President"

      That describes him perfectly. He's a bully and a consummate coward. An overgrown spoiled entitled child. And he is totally ignorant of our system of government which he is dismantling step by step.

      "An Acting Government For The Trump Administration"
      https://www.npr.org/2019/04/09/711094554/an-acting-government-for-the-trump-administration

      Delete
  11. Somerby doesn't know the difference between analyzing WHAT someone thinks (their beliefs) and HOW someone thinks (their cognition).

    ReplyDelete
  12. So Somerby has now called Biden terrible, apparently.

    Why is Biden terrible, in his view? Is it because he’s too old, he makes gaffes, and he tends to ramble when answering questions? One has to assume that these are Somerby’s reasons.

    (We do know that, according to Somerby, Biden’s stance on busing and his shepherding of the 1994 Crime Bill and his pride in having worked with segregationists do *not* make him a terrible candidate. On the contrary, it is the critics of Biden who are terrible when they call him out in this stuff).

    Ok. Whatever.

    Now: a candidate who rambles incoherently in his debate performances, makes repeated gaffes, seems wearied with age, promises his megadonors that nothing will change for them and thinks he can sit down with the GOP and hammer out compromises just like the good old days: terrible? An argument can be made.

    On the other hand, Warren is fantastic at her campaign appearances, gives coherent answers at debates, recognizes the true state of play with today’s GOP and Trump, has great policy ideas and is able to articulate them. Wow!

    But there’s that pesky Indian “misstep.” (Has Somerby ever mentioned anything else about her?)

    Yep. Terrible candidate.

    *Just* like Biden.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Judging by the panic in zombie media, Creepy Joe's little adventure of removing Ukraine's attorney general to protect his son's business is likely to finish him.

    So, forget Creepy Joe, dear Bob, it's Pocahontas.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It’s instructive to note that MSNBC, at least, is *not* talking about Warren’s Indian stuff. They are refusing to play that same game as before. They are discussing her policies. A media critic might mention this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Her 'policies' are simple: to promise everyone in the country (legal or illegal) 10 trillion dollars.

      It's 10 trillion, because Mr Sanders only promises 5 trillion dollars.

      In other words: the usual.

      Delete
    2. If the media is treating Warren with that sort of hazmat protection, she truly is the designated one by our “intelligentsia”.

      I don’t think the late Robert Byrd would stand a chance today. Charles Blow would have him utterly ostracized.

      It ain’t about “change” or fixing things, unless by that you mean shutting people down rather than persuading them.

      Nowadays, viewing 1619 ( let alone 1978 and Biden) in the light of current sensibilities is the same as marching with King.

      You don’t go along with all sorts of “globalism” and you’re one of those working class racists or paternalistic bullies.

      Delete
    3. Mao's bosses (the Establishment) are afraid if Warren gets elected, there won't be enough in the Treasury to give to them.

      Delete
    4. "I don’t think the late Robert Byrd would stand a chance today."

      Do you mean Robert Byrd the economically anxious former Congressman?

      Delete
  15. 'You simply can't be this dumb and this scripted without ending up with a Trump! '

    The reason we end up with a Trump is that people like TDH are willing to serve as 'useful idiots' for him. TDH lacks the audience to be useful to Trump, so he serves as a 'useless idiot'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are the troll here, deadrat. Many of us agree with this statement.

      Delete
    2. Then you don't know what a troll is. And neither does any of the claque who agrees with you.

      Delete
    3. Somerby is a concern troll, pretending to be concerned about liberals, while attacking them. And defending Moore and Trump.

      Hence, Somerby is a troll, as is his amanuensis deadrat. Somerby wants Trump to win.

      Delete
    4. Ooh! I've been promoted to amanuensis! After 5 years, Somerby gives me a brush.

      (Oh, @5:31, it's considered bad form to cheer your comment with another comment.)

      Delete
    5. deadrat, 6:30 was not me. Calm down, and get back to carrying water for TDH, just as TDH does for Trump.

      Delete
    6. So you say, 5:31P=6:30P=8:08P, so you say.

      And you think I need to calm down? It is to laugh.

      Get back to trolling. You need the practice.

      Delete
  16. Somerby says:
    “Presumably due to his ignorance, Blow thought he'd heard something "nonsensical."”

    And:
    “Inevitably, the perpetually furious Timesman thought he'd heard a racial offense. “

    The question to Biden concluded like this:
    “what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?”

    Then Somerby says:
    “the New York Times is at its dumbest in the manifest indifference it displays towards the interests and needs of low-income kids”

    Notice how Somerby morphs the question, which was about race, into the way Biden understood it: about *low-income* kids. Those are not the same thing. That is how Biden chose to side-step the racial aspect, and Somerby is right there helping Biden out by conflating the two.

    Given this, it is clear that Blow is talking about Biden’s avoidance of the original question and his conflation of poverty with race when he calls Biden’s answer nonsense. Somerby makes an unfounded charge against Blow by accusing him of not knowing about things like Baby Steps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Notice how Somerby morphs the question, which was about race, into the way Biden understood it: about *low-income* kids.

      Nope. What you might want to notice is how Biden morphed the question away from race. TDH has got nothin’ to do with that.

      That is how Biden chose to side-step the racial aspect,….

      Fair cop.

      Somerby is right there helping Biden out by conflating the two.

      Nope. Somerby is commenting on what Biden actually said and how Blow responded to it.

      Given this, it is clear that Blow is talking about Biden’s avoidance of the original question and his conflation of poverty with race when he calls Biden’s answer nonsense.

      Nope. Unless, of course, you can’t read for comprehension. Here’s Blow:

      But, the response ended in yet another racial offense in which he seemed to suggest that black people lack the natural capacity to be good parents:

      Nothing Biden actually said suggested any such thing. Blow goes on to call Biden paternalistic and inegalitarian.

      Somerby makes an unfounded charge against Blow by accusing him of not knowing about things like Baby Steps.

      Unfounded? You don’t think that Blow would have tempered his rhetoric if he’d known that the program Biden was talking about was one founded by an African-American for his Mississippi hometown that’s largely African-American?

      OK.

      Delete
  17. Where was Charles Blow when HRC and the Clinton Foundation was pushing programs that address the word gap issue?

    So now public policy to fund programs that directly address cultural disparities are paternalism?

    However, a chattering class societal foray designed to screen every aspect of American history and life thru the prism of white racism, as the root of inequality, is not patronizing victimization?

    Well, congrats Democrats for finally turning the phenomenon of racism wholly into a political campaign cudgel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blow describes Biden’s *mind-set* as paternalistic, not the policies he espouses.

      For example, the question was about the legacy of slavery, but Biden turned it into the education of low-income kids (and by low income he means black). He claims that “they [black parents] don’t know quite what to do.”

      How would you respond if somebody said :”those white parents just don’t know how to be good parents?”

      Delete
    2. He claims that “they [black parents] don’t know quite what to do.”

      No, no, Sparky. You don’t get to insert a bracketed antecedent unless it’s a quote from the original. Biden is borderline incoherent, but what he actually starts talking about is “poor schools” not black schools.

      For example, the question was about the legacy of slavery, but Biden turned it into the education of low-income kids

      That’s a fair cop, and pointing out the dodge is fair game.

      (and by low income he means black).

      No, no, Sparky. You don’t get to read minds and present it as fact. You may say, “and by low income I think he means black.” But that’s it.

      How would you respond if somebody said :”those white parents just don’t know how to be good parents?”

      I’d say, “Damned straight” as free-range kids run up and down grocery aisles and scream incessantly at the library. Well, I don’t hear “white parents,” since where I live they’re invariably white.

      Delete
    3. This is Biden’s quote:
      “We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t — they don’t know quite what to do.”

      The “they” is referring to parents, not schools.

      Sparky.

      Delete
    4. 7:15 PM writes:

      ...the question was about the legacy of slavery, but Biden turned it into the education of low-income kids (and by low income he means black).

      Did Biden "turn a question about the legacy of slavery," into one about "the education of low-income kids"? He may have, but not entirely on his own. Here's the question he was asked (my emphasis):


      LINSEY DAVIS: Thank you, Senator.

      Mr. Vice president, I want to come to you and talk to you about inequality in schools and race. In a conversation about how to deal with segregation in schools back in 1975, you told a reporter, "I don't feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather, I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I'll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago."

      You said that some 40 years ago. But as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?

      Delete
    5. Biden's ramblings are borderline incoherent. He starts out talking about children in "poor schools." Presumably, these are underfunded schools in poor communities. He then segues into bringing social workers into the homes to help parents. Presumably, these are the parents of the children in the poor schools, parents who are poor. It's a rhetorical mess, but nowhere does he direct his comments at black parents.

      Delete
    6. We get it that you don't do implication. If the question asks about race relations and the speaker is answering that question, as is assumed given the pragmatics of conversation or debate, then the answer must be taken in the context of the question. What follows is "about" race. Biden can change the subject, but he would need a sentence, such as "One cannot talk about the legacy of race without also mentioning poverty." or some such.

      Too literal, as usual. If you actually functioned the way you comment, you would have misunderstandings with nearly everyone you spoke with, all day long. That's why I think this is a deliberate trolling ploy.

      Delete
    7. We get it that you don't do implication.

      But I do. Every time I use a nickname to reply to Anonymi whose comments I find ignorant, I’m implying my contempt for their position as well as their lack of courtesy in not using a nym. And I think those commenters have no trouble spotting the implication.

      Every time TDH talks about his conversations with “future anthropologists,” I know that he’s not referring to actual anthropologists. I understand that it’s an implication that liberal discourse is tribal in its adherence to favored narratives.

      But what I am loath to do is to read a transcript and rely on my judgments of what’s implied, in other words on my inferences. Especially in the absence of other evidence, and most especially when my inferences match my biases. This is a stance I recommend to everyone.

      If the question asks about race relations,… then the answer must be taken in the context of the question. What follows is "about" race.

      I’m on board with that. Our disagreement will be over what “about race” means. My judgment is that Biden was deflecting, i.e., he chose to answer the question he wanted to hear instead of the one he was asked. We all do this with uncomfortable questions, politicians are generally masters of this technique, and there’s no more uncomfortable issue in the US than race. This stance allows all sorts of reasonable — and mostly unflattering — inferences about Joe Biden but requires the understanding that he was talking about what he was talking about, however disingenuously.

      If I understand you correctly, “about race” means that we must interpret the words of Biden’s actual answer (which don’t match those of the question) as code that allows us to align answer with question. In other words, when Biden says “poor people” he actually means “black people” by implication. But this means that Biden must be saying, if not believing, that the X-Million Word Gap and low-literacy parenting are problems restricted to black households.

      I’m suspicious of mind reading when it leads to such nonsensical conclusions and particularly when I’m not disposed to the person who’s mind I’m considering. On the issue of race, I think Biden was a profile in political cowardice back in the day.

      Too literal, as usual. If you actually functioned the way you comment, you would have misunderstandings with nearly everyone you spoke with, all day long.

      Not to mention routinely getting punched in the nose. But of course I don’t have such misunderstandings with most people I speak to for the very reason that I don’t speak to people the way I comment here. And I don’t need to. I have many nonverbal cues from my interlocutors, and in many instances history with them. And, of course, if I find myself unsure of what others really mean, I can ask them what they really mean.

      None of this applies to this blog or its commentariat, so I infer with caution (or try to), and I urge others to do the same.

      That's why I think this is a deliberate trolling ploy.

      It’s certainly deliberate, as it takes considerable practice to lay aside one’s treasured judgments. And perhaps we have different definitions of what a troll is and does. Some here call someone a troll if he’s taken an adamant opposing position, and especially if he’s impolite. For me, a troll is someone who provides nothing more than contrariness simply to provoke. Like Mao, our Village Troll. Do you honestly find me the equivalent of Mao?

      Delete
  18. I’d say that the stats are on Biden’s side concerning the demographics of both race and/or income.

    Then I’d question him on the utility of his policy suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  20. From Politicus this morning. I've never seen Somerby mention this in his role as media critic:

    "There is a great enabling happening in the United States, and it has been going on for years. Many of the nation's largest media outlets are cleaning up Trump's words to make him sound less incoherent and stupid."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump's press conference

      But watching a full presidential Trump press conference while visiting the US this week I realised how much the reporting of Trump necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect.



      I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.


      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/20/as-a-foreign-reporter-visiting-the-us-i-was-stunned-by-trumps-press-conference

      The political press in this country have been allowing Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, to bluff his way through his entire presidency, and have been aiding and abetting him every day in normalizing his foul foul insanity.

      Delete
  21. I don’t have anything meaningful to add to this conversation. But I will say, I enjoyed Bob’s essay. Would that mainstream opinion writers, like Blow, had his discernment. I learned a bit of history concerning the efforts to which some have aspired, in the attempt to make a difference in the task of educating our citizens, that I’d not been aware of.

    Sure am glad that there are commenters like deadrat, (The Queen of Romania, ha ha!) Cmike (local historian) and others who’re able to enhance the historical narratives. mm as well adds some spice, and often has insightful posts on current events. There are others as well, Dr. T comes to mind, sometimes even anons, I just wish they’d give themselves a handle.

    In short, between Bob’s posts and the replies of the intelligent commentariat, I sure get my money’s worth in the reading.

    Leroy



    ReplyDelete
  22. Here is another example of the kind of thing an actual media critic would focus upon, this time from Lawyers, Guns & Money blog:

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2019/09/this-is-excellent-news-for-donald-trump

    Notice the ongoing difference in focus between candidates the NY Times likes and ones they don't like. Then you have to ask, where does the decision about how to cover a candidate come from? Is this a corporate decision or did the various and sundry writers and editors at the NY Times just decide they loved Trump and hated Hillary?

    Sort of like trying to figure out who Somerby likes and why, when he won't talk about any of the male candidates the way he talks about lovely old Joe Biden or lovable Bernie and his lovable arm waving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. typo: male candidates should be "female candidates", obviously

      Delete
    2. You could draw this same graph with Warren and DNA/Indian stories (scandal) versus Biden and coverage of his programs and plans (issue) -- oh, wait, he doesn't have any.

      Delete
    3. 'Sort of like trying to figure out who Somerby likes and why'

      Somerby likes Trump and Moore, because he spends all his time defending them gallantly.

      Delete
  23. 11:34

    Typo: Your entire comment.

    Leroy

    ReplyDelete
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