THE PROBLEM: We want to hear what we want to hear!


Brian scratches an itch:
It was Socrates who first noticed the problem:

We people want to hear what we want to hear! Beyond that, we tend to get mad when we hear something different.

Socrates noticed this tendency when he toured the countryside looking for the wisest person in Greece. We sometimes notice this same reaction when we make fairly obvious statements about the current state of our failing "national discourse."

Did Ukrainian officials "meddle in," or "interfere in," the 2016 election? Based on what we know, we wouldn't be strongly inclined to say that they did.

(Fiona Hill said that Ukrainian officials engaged in "ill-advised" conduct. Other statements by Hill have been sanctified. These comments have been disappeared.)

At any rate, if you say that Ukrainian officials did meddle, you aren't necessarily saying that they stole the DNC's emails and distributed them to the world. Unless you're watching Brian Williams, or unless you're shopping anywhere else our own tribe's dogmas are sold.

Once again, here are two possible statements:
1) Ukrainian officials meddled in the 2016 election.

2) It was Ukraine, not Russia, which actually hacked the DNC emails.
As almost anyone can see, those are two different statements. Just because someone is saying #1, that doesn't mean that he's saying #2!

You'd think that point would be easy to grasp. But we humans have long been "human, all too human!"

At any rate, liberal media types have been conflating those two statements for the past several weeks. As an offshoot of this group behavior, consider what Brian Williams did with respect to recent weird behavior by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA).

Last weekend, Kennedy went on Fox News Sunday and made a surprising statement. Here's the exchange in question:
CHRIS WALLACE (11/24/19): Who do you believe was responsible for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their emails? Was it Russia or Ukraine?

KENNEDY: I don’t know. Nor do you. Nor do any of us.

WALLACE: Let me just interrupt to say, the entire intelligence community says it was Russia.

KENNEDY: Right. But it could also be Ukraine. I’m not saying I know one way or the other.
So spoke Kennedy. It was a fairly surprising statement. Here's why:

President Trump still seems to claim that it was Ukraine, not his beloved Russia, which stole the DNC emails. This doesn't seem to make any sense, since Trump also seems to claim that Ukraine was trying to defeat him in the election, and the distribution of the stolen emails was plainly a strike against Clinton's chances.

Trump's claim doesn't seem to make sense. Then again, this is Donald J. Trump, who may be some form of "mentally ill" or may be cognitively impaired.

(Regarding possible cognitive impairment, did you see his recent bizarre performance with respect to the women's suffrage centennial? His performance made zero sense.)

In our view, Trump may be dissembling when he makes these claims about Ukraine. It's also possible that he's just crazy.

Donald J. Trump may be crazy; most U.S. senators aren't. That's why it was a bit surprising to see Kennedy go so far out on a limb regarding the stolen emails.

Having said that, sure enough! The very next night, Kennedy appeared on CNN to retract his surprising statement. Speaking with Chris Cuomo, he said that he'd been wrong, oh so wrong, when he made his surprising statement:
CUOMO (11/25/19): I want to hear it from you. Do you really believe that it wasn't Russia?

KENNEDY: I did that interview yesterday with, with Chris Wallace. Damn good reporter. I was answering one of his questions. And he interjected a statement, and asked me to react to it.

What I heard Chris say was, he made the statement that only Russia had tried to interfere in the election. And I answered the question.

That's not what he said. I went back and looked at the transcript. He said only Russia tried to hack the DNC computer.

Now, Chris is right. I was wrong. The only evidence I have, and I think it's overwhelming, is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer. I see no—

CUOMO: That's what the consensus is.

KENNEDY: Yes. I've seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.
"I was wrong," Kennedy said. He also said that he misunderstood the question Wallace asked.

Did Kennedy actually misunderstand the original question from Wallace? The claim seems a bit hard to believe, but such claims are also hard to assess.

At any rate, and for whatever reason, Kennedy went on CNN the very next night and took back what he said. He said the evidence was "overwhelming" that it was Russia, not Ukraine, who stole the DNC emails.

He said he's seen no indication—and that would mean none—that Ukraine did it. In spite of Trump's ridiculous claims, that's what the senator said.

Why did Kennedy make his original statement to Wallace? We have no way of knowing. But very few people other than Trump have been saying that Ukraine stole the emails—unless you rely on standard "liberal" pundits and reporters, who have been busily confusing such matters, and creating conflations, for the past several weeks.

On Tuesday night, Brian Williams went to heroic lengths to confuse this matter. It feels so good when the other team's conduct it made to seem even worse than it is! And that's the service Brian provided with respect to Kennedy's statements.

Given its standard slacker approach, MSNBC still hasn't produced a transcript of Williams' Tuesday night program. If a transcript finally appears, you'll be able to peruse it here.

For today, transcript missing, we'll only tell you this:

Williams played the videotape of Kennedy's statement to Wallace, then suggested that Kennedy had deliberately been spreading Russian disinformation.

He never played the videotape of Kennedy's statement to Cuomo. But he proceeded to characterize it like this:
WILLIAMS (11/26/19): He made his first comments on Fox News with Chris Wallace, attempted the cleanup last night on CNN with Chris Cuomo—a cleanup which still left the strong whiff of, "It was probably Ukraine."
For the tape of Brian saying that, you can just click here.

At any rate, really? Kennedy's statement to Cuomo "left the strong whiff of, 'It was probably Ukraine?' "

For ourselves, we'd call that rank propaganda. But Williams has played the game this way for a very long time, dating all the way back to the time when he was pool boy to GE's Jack Welch, his original corporate owner.

Why did Kennedy do what he did? We can't tell you that.

We can tell you what he actually said, and Williams could have played the actual videotape of his statement! But Brian didn't do that.

Instead, he offered a very strange account of what Kennedy said to Cuomo. Brian has played the game this way for a very long time now.

At present, Brian is paid a lot of money to bring such pleasure to liberal viewers. Back in the day, under different ownership, he worked to send George W. Bush to the White House, staging nightly nervous breakdowns about Candidate Gore's deeply troubling wardrobe and his weird psychiatric state.

This is the way these "boy toys" play. Despite all the pleasure which gets dispensed, we don't think that conduct of this type serves progressive interests.

Socrates said there'd be programs like this. It was one of the things he got right!

We feel we shouldn't repost this today!


On the other hand, here it is:
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, we've decided to go ahead and post another example of what we'd call "New York Times culture." It comes from Dargis and Scott's listing of the past decade's ten most influential films.

In fairness, these aren't their choices for the decade's best films. Nor are these their ten favorite films.

They selected the most influential films. Still, the pair penned this:
‘Bridesmaids’ (2011)

The shocking image of Maya Rudolph’s bride soiling her wedding dress made it clear that the director Paul Feig’s comedy—written by its star, Kristen Wiig, and Annie Mumolo—wasn’t just another smiley and sickly sweet wedding picture. The intestinal distress heard ’round the world helped demolish the sexist cliché that women can’t be funny...
Women can be funny too! They can soil a wedding dress! Sexists worldwide, take that!

We'll repeat what we said this morning. The incompetence (and strangeness) of our liberal and mainstream elites has been one of the most important stories of the past thirty-plus years. And nowhere is upper-class "liberal" strangeness given more room to roam than in the Hamptons-based Times, though it's branded as our brightest newspaper.

The Times is committed to fighting sexism. But is the paper peopled by humans? We can't say we're totally sure.

And now for a bit of comic relief: For a bit of comic relief, we'll include today's first "noteworthy fact" from the daily Of Interest feature.

As always, the feature appears at the top of page A3 (print editions only). The daily listing of noteworthy facts started today like this:
Of Interest

Some experts say the bagel is a relative of the pretzel.
Citizens, we soil you not! That's what it says in this morning's Times. That was today's first "noteworthy fact," out of a total of six.

By the way, what do the other experts say? We'll admit we have no real idea!

THE PROBLEM: Wicker said Ukraine hacked the DNC emails!


Except that's not what he said:
Question! Did Ukraine meddle (or perhaps "interfere") in our 2016 election?

As a general matter, we'd be inclined to say no. But rather plainly, it all depends on what the meaning of "meddle in" is! It even depends on what we mean by "Ukraine."

(Are we talking about the Ukrainian government? Are we talking about a certain number of Ukrainian officials? For people who seek clarity, these are easy distinctions to make. For people who want to promulgate tribal narratives, such niceties will disappear.)

At any rate, how about it? Did Ukraine meddle in our election? Tribal minds have been debating the point over the past week or so, producing such triumphalist headlines as this one at New York magazine:
Trump Ally John Kennedy Walks Back Conspiracy That Ukraine Meddled in 2016 Election
In fact, Kennedy didn't walk back the claim that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. He walked back a different claim—the claim that it was Ukraine who hacked the DNC emails.

For people with two IQ points to bang together, those are two different claims. But at times of tribal warfare, we humans seek the pleasing stories that our high tribal priests will provide.

In the article bearing that headline, New York's Matt Stieb actually gets something right. In his actual text (as opposed to that headline), Stieb correctly reports that Kennedy, this past Monday night, rejected his previous claim "that Ukraine hacked DNC emails."

Stieb got that point right! But at times of heavy tribal war, fictional narrative never sleeps. Instantly, Stieb proceeded to a bungled presentation:
STIEB (11/26/19): Speaking with Chris Cuomo on Monday, Kennedy admitted that he “was wrong” about the conspiracy that Ukraine hacked DNC emails and pinned the job on Russia.

Though Kennedy stepped away from the claim, it’s unlikely that Republicans will fully abandon the idea just because it isn’t true. On Meet the Press on Sunday, Senator Roger Wicker told Chuck Todd that “Ukrainians themselves tried to interfere.”
Is the one tiny word "fully" supposed to bail that turkey out?

From that presentation, a reader would naturally think that Wicker had asserted that it actually was Ukraine which hacked the DNC emails.

In fact, Wicker said no such thing on Meet the Press. But within our own hapless, floundering tribe, "fictional narrative" is leading many of our tribal sachems to pleasure liberal readers and viewers with pleasing fictional claims.

Brian Williams was especially fictitious last night—remarkably so, in our view. But this is the way tribal fiction works, given the unhelpful wiring of our flawed human brains.

Did Ukraine meddle in our 2016 election? In a related but different question, did Roger Wicker actually say that Ukraine hacked (stole) the DNC emails?

Plainly, the answer to the second question is no. But at times of tribal warfare, the highly limited human mind will start creating and spreading tribal fictions.

These tribal fictions are now being spread wherever the "liberal"/Democratic viewpoint is sold. In our view, this is the latest manifestation of a decades-old phenomenon, in which spectacular liberal and mainstream incompetence helped bring George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump to power.

Did Wicker say that Ukraine hacked the DNC emails? Anyone who watches the tape should be able to see that he didn't. But at tribalized times like these, our sad human minds start to fail.

(To watch the Meet the Press tape, just click here. Stieb links to that slippery Vox report to support his own bungled claim.)

Does it matter if people like Stieb peddle such tribalized fictions? Actually, yes, it does.

Journalists aren't playing with dolls when they sit before their screens and pimp their pleasing claims. And when members of warring tribes are handed competing false and/or misleading stories, the problem we're all living with moves us in the direction of civil war.

It's fairly easy to state the various facts which are involved in this matter. One such list would look like this:
According to the U.S. intelligence community: According to the U.S. intelligence community, the Russian government stole emails from the DNC and turned them loose on the world. Fiona's Hill statement to this effect has made her a liberal hero.

According to Fiona Hill: According to the widely-quoted Hill, various Ukrainian officials behaved in "ill-advised" ways during the 2016 election. They did this because they "bet on Hillary Clinton winning the election. And so they were trying to curry favor with the Clinton campaign."
Within our liberal and mainstream hive, Hill's remarks about the Russians are being reverentially quoted. In ancient tribal fashion, her remarks about the Ukrainian officials were instantly disappeared.

Personally, we're not all that concerned about what the Ukrainian officials did. That said, Hill said that Trump had every reason to be upset by their ill-advised conduct. ("I can’t blame him for feeling aggrieved...I would also personally take offense at some of the things that were said if I were the president.")

Thus spake Fiona Hill, though you'll only hear this here.

At any rate, those who regard the Ukrainian conduct as "meddling" aren't saying that the Ukrainians hacked the DNC emails! This is a stunningly simple distinction, except when hapless tribal sachems start sanding facts and engineering silly conflations to tell us things we'll enjoy.

On Friday, we'll show you what Williams did last night. His presentation was fairly amazing—but then, he worked very hard, in 1999 and 2000, to send George W. Bush to power. (At the time, his oligarch was GE's Jack Welch, then the bossman of NBC Hews.)

Later, Williams invented so many weird stories about himself that he lost his network job. He's been exiled to the realm of cable, where he tells us the things we'll enjoy.

When it comes to journalists like Stieb, they and their predecessors have been failing you for decades. The haplessness of our liberal and mainstream elites is one of the biggest stories of the past thirty-plus years. You're seeing its latest manifestations as you're pleasured by claims that people like Wicker said things they didn't say.

It feels good to be treated this way. We turn to cable each night to be pleasured.

It's also the problem we're all living with. Can you really see a good way out of this ongoing, low-IQ mess?

Coming Friday: Brian feeds the herd

Snapshots of the Hamptons-based mind!


The culture which got us here:
Long ago and far away, star journalist Diane Sawyer was hoping to get the answer to an important question.

Sawyer interviewed Marla Maples on ABC's Prime Time Live. With apologies for several aspects of his framing, Howard Kurtz reported the interview for the Washington Post:
KURTZ (4/20/90): After two months of silence amid the deafening roar of Trump-o-mania, Marla Maples took to the airwaves tonight to declare that she still loves Donald Trump but that "I'm not the reason for that marriage having problems."

In a blonde-on-blonde interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC's "PrimeTime Live," Maples, 26, speaking in a soft, breathy voice punctuated by nervous laughter, skirted most questions about her internationally rumored affair with The Donald, citing "pending litigation" from his wife, Ivana.

But the actress from Dalton, Ga., left little doubt about the once-intimate nature of their relationship, which Trump is said to have ended a few weeks ago, although Maples said she was in Guatemala at the time. When Sawyer popped the $5 billion question—You still love him?—Maples said, "You know, I, I can't lie about it. Oh, I do." She answered the same way when Sawyer asked if it had been a romance, saying, "I do love him."

There were no torrid, BEST-SEX-I-EVER-HAD revelations—in fact, Maples refused to answer Sawyer's BEST-SEX question, but called the quote attributed to her by a friend "an absolute, total lie."
Maples refused to answer Sawyer's BEST-SEX-YOU-EVER-HAD question! In these ways, stars like Sawyer helped create the braindead culture within which Donald J. Trump ended up in the White House.

This Sunday, the Sawyer types were at it again. The New York Times ran a lengthy profile of the way Maples spends her Sundays. Including plenty of photos!

This is what these Hamptons-based idiots actually wonder about—or it may just be what they think their readers wonder about. Yesterday morning, on page A3 (print editions only), the daily "Conversation" feature said this:
The Conversation


3. How Marla Maples Spends Her Sundays
Readers were fascinated by the Sunday routine of Ms. Maples, President Trump's ex-wife, who recently has had a recurring role as a Christian fast-food proprietor in "The Righteous Gemstones" on HBO. Ms. Maples' Sundays are filled with fitness and spiritual pursuits.
"Readers were fascinated by" the profile. Or so some unnamed New York Times editor said.

(Item #4 involved Will Ferrell's appearance on Saturday Night Live. These were two of the four "widely-read posts" the New York Times chose to feature.)

The spectacular dumbness of New York Times culture has been with us for a long time. This helps explain the gruesome devolution which has ended with Trump where he is.

Diane Sawyer got there first. In such ways, our nation's most brilliant journalists become major huge giant stars.

The rewards are simply too damn high. This problem continues on cable.

Did Fiona Hill perhaps overstate?


Being liberal means never having to ask:
Did Fiona Hill perhaps overstate one basic point during last week's impeachment hearings?

We'd be inclined to say that she possibly/probably did. That said, it's amazingly easy to state the basic facts about the disrupted issue.

More to the point, being liberal means never having to ask! While the others are being propagandized over on Fox, we liberals get things tribally "simplified" in all our own tribal outlets.

On what did Hill perhaps overstate? At issue is the now-sacred part of her opening statement in which Hill said this:
HILL (11/21/19): Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps, somehow for some reason, Ukraine did.

This is a fictional narrative
that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies confirmed in bipartisan congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified.
Within the liberal and mainstream worlds, that is now sacred text. According to Hill, some Republicans on the committee "appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country" during Campaign 2016, and that Ukraine maybe did.

That's a "fictional narrative," Hill said. According to Hill, it's a bogus tale which was invented, and is being peddled, by the Russians themselves.

So spoke Hill, murkily basing her statement on "questions and statements I have heard." She was challenged about this matter by several Republican committee members. In our view, she surrendered a fair amount of ground as she responded to their complaints.

Last Saturday, we posted some of the things Hill said in response to these challenges. In our view, Hill was so far out over her skis that she did something that's nearly impossible—she created a situation in which Devin Nunes was able to make a perfectly accurate statement:
"Needless to say, it is entirely possible for two separate nations to engage in election meddling at the same time."
In response to Hill's assessment, Nunes made that accurate statement. He claimed that, while the Russians "meddled," some Ukrainian officials meddled too.

In the face of Nunes' pushback, we'd have to say that Hill backpedaled to a fair extent. To review the sorts of things we mean, see Saturday's report.

Luckily, it's easy to report the basic state of the facts in this matter. Almost everyone seems to agree that it was the Russians who hacked (stole) the DNC emails and arranged for them to be published. Over on the Senate side, Senator Kennedy even agreed with that assessment, speaking to Chris Cuomo last night.

Nunes seemed to say that Republican committee members don't disagree with that assessment. Beyond that, though, he said that some Ukrainian officials "meddled" in other ways.

Hill didn't exactly disagree with Nunes' complaint about the Ukrainian officials. Importantly, she stressed the idea that the "top-down" Russian interference was much more extensive than anything any Ukrainian did.

These basic facts are easy to state—unless you're living at a time of tribal war. In that unfortunate circumstance, the warring tribes will pick and choose from last Thursday's discussion in ways designed to simplify the story in tribally pleasing ways.

Tomorrow, we'll show you how last Thursday's interactions are being sifted for liberal audiences. Conservatives get propagandized on Fox—but our own tribe's most important sachems are routinely embarrassing too.

This is basic "human" nature, top anthropologists repeatedly tell us, speaking to us from the future. Our species runs on tribal true belief, these credentialed experts say, and on the sanding of basic facts to create pleasing tribal narratives.

We're living in "fictitious times," these despondent scholars glumly say. Michael Moore used the formulation first, though he, as humans will generally do, was mainly discussing the "fictional narratives" pimped by those he opposes.

At times of tribal war, warring tribes create dumbly simplified warring tales. According to experts, this ancient human impulse lies at the heart of the problem we're all living with right now, today.

This problem isn't easy to solve. Dissembling makes it worse and tends to serve those in power.

THE PROBLEM: "No respect at all," Parker says!


Fails to see that's the whole point:
What does unintelligent politics look like?

It has a thousand faces! For our money, Rep. Schiff provided one example as he spoke to Fiona Hill during last Thursday's impeachment hearing.

Hill was born in England, emigrated to the U.S. Two other impeachment witnesses were immigrants too, though each had come to this country as toddlers with their immigrant parents.

Many observers found Hill to be a remarkable witness; we had that reaction ourselves. That said, we groaned when we saw Schiff make the statement shown below. We thought someone as sharp at Hill should have challenged Schiff's assessment:
SCHIFF (11/21/19): First of all, thank you both for being here. Thank you for testifying.

Dr. Hill, your story reminds me a great deal of what we heard from Alexander Vindman. The few immigrant stories that we’ve heard just in the course of these hearings are among the most powerful I think I’ve ever heard. You and Colonel Vindman and others are the best of this country, and you came here by choice, and we are so blessed that you did. So, welcome.
Hill came to the U.S. as a graduate student. Vindman arrived as a toddler.

That said, set aside whatever you may think about the testimony they provided. Ask yourself if you agree with Schiff's unfortunate statement.

Is it true? Are Hill and Vindman and other immigrants really "the best of this country?" Because that's what Schiff oddly said.

For ourselves, we thought Hill was a stunningly articulate witness. For that reason, we were disappointed when she let this assessment stand.

It's very, very, very bad politics to make a statement like Schiff's. It's very, very, very bad politics to make such invidious statements.

It's also very hard to defend the accuracy of Schiff's assessment. Are immigrants really "the best of this country?" Are they better, for example, than the people Bernie Sanders praised when he made the statement shown below at a town hall meeting, held with Chris Hayes, in West Virginia coal country?
SANDERS (3/3/17): Well, let me be honest and say two things.

I think—and disagree with me if you think I'm wrong on this. But coal in this area has been in decline, I think, since the '70s and the '80s. It's not anything that's new. And I think—

And second of all—and I know not everybody, you know, will be happy with me saying this. But I happen to believe, unlike the president, that climate change is real and it is a threat to all. But having said that, I don't hold this gentleman and the coal miners responsible for climate change. In fact, in fact, these guys are heroes.

I remember, I grew up in a rent control apartment house in Brooklyn, New York, and I will never forget the piles of coal. I don't know if it came from here or wherever it came. You kept my house warm. Thank you.

So you're not—you are not my enemy.
Sanders was describing people who aren't immigrants. Beyond that, they don't hold advanced degrees, but Sanders said they were his heroes for the bone-crushing, underpaid service and work they've performed.

Are the people addressed by Sanders also "the best of America?" Schiff's statement kicked them to the curb, and of one thing you can be sure:

Across wide swaths of red-voting America, that's what people heard.

Our highly self-impressed "liberal" team is amazingly good as such counterproductive politics. Using our many "identity" markers—"race," gender, citizenship status—we now create invidious distinctions in much the way other folk breathe.

Brilliant as Hill so plainly is, we were disappointed, and also surprised, when she let Schiff's assessment stand. That assessment is part of the problem we all [currently] live with, and that problem is very hard to solve.

Our brilliantly self-impressed liberal tribe is often amazingly tone deaf. We don't seem to grasp the way we sound to less highly valued people, nor do we seem to care.

This produces a cluelessness which enables The Problem. With that in mind, we were struck by something Kathleen Parker said in her latest column.

Parker's column appeared in Sunday's Washington Post, for whom she has written for years. She praised the merits of the impeachment witnesses, citing Hill in particular.

As she started, Parker said that "Americans should be gratified by the quality of the people who testified and who actually do the nation’s work abroad." We don't necessarily disagree with that, but we were struck by the part of her column in which she discussed Jim Jordan:
PARKER (11/24/19): One after another, the men and women who testified, subjecting themselves to the sometimes scurrilous scrutiny of political profilers, maintained their focus and their cool. It was grating to hear the screech of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), whose raised voice surely signaled a stretch-and-restroom break for many viewers. While we’re on the subject, can’t the man put on a blazer? Jordan appeared without one, putting in mind a teenager who refuses to play by his parents’ rules.

May I remind him and others that dress codes are intended to show respect for the occasion and for others in attendance? Surely, our congressional leaders owe their constituents—and, in this case, the process—the small personal sacrifice of dressing appropriately. To do otherwise is to telegraph to the world that you think you’re more important than everyone else. Jordan also proved that age and maturity can be mutually exclusive.

There, I got that off my chest. (Parents may clip for personal use.)
Quite routinely, Jordan strikes us as deeply unfortunate too. That said, we were struck by an unfortunate fact as we sat and watched those hearings:

Our own team is so far out over its skis in certain respects that Jordan actually got to make several points which weren't completely ridiculous. In several of his colloquies, he didn't even seem to feel the need to yell!

That said, consider what Parker said. Does Parker fail to understand that Jordan's refusal to wear a jacket, along with his patented hectoring tone, is intended to show that he lacks respect for the occasion and for (many) others in attendance?

Does Parker fail to know that that's the whole point of Jordan's demeanor and appearance? Also, that these persistent signals of disrespect are an important part of The Problem—of a problem which is very, very, very hard to address or solve?

We were surprised to see Parker scolding Jordan for his lack of respect. The lack of respect to which she refers is the whole point of his performance.

People who felt disrespected by Schiff's remark—and by three million others like it—feel respected by Jordan's lack of respect. Our team is very, very dumb when it can't come to grips with this obvious fact, and when it can't see the various ways our own team furthers The Problem.

As Parker continued, she praised Hill for certain specific things she said. In our view, Hill was perhaps a tiny bit over her skis when she made the remarks in question, a point we'll examine tomorrow. Conservative voters have heard about that. Liberals voters are persistently shielded from such possible points of concern.

The red-voting public gets propagandized over on Fox. They're hearing all about the ways Hill may have overstated.

Over here, within our own tents, we have our own propaganda too, though we have a very hard time understanding this deeply human fact.

Tomorrow: And now for the rest of the story...

Marla Maples, Ralph Waldo Emerson!


The mind of the upper-class Times:
We make no bones about it.

We regard the New York Times' page A3 (print editions only) as the most instructive page in all of American journalism. It's where you go to marvel at the (upper-class) mind of the (upper-class) Times, and perhaps at the newspaper's readers.

Today's A3 was especially rich. We'll plan to tell you why tomorrow. For homework, you should read this profile of Marla Maples from yesterday's paper. It was written by Hilary Howard and of course includes plenty of photos.

This isn't a criticism of Maples. It's a criticism of the mind of the Times. On this morning's page A3, that perhaps slightly vapid upper-class mind continued on from there.

What Hill said about Christopher Steele!


Things you won't hear on cable:
In last Saturday's report, we showed you some of the things Fiona Hill actually said.

More specifically, we posted some of the things you won't see on "liberal cable," despite the status to which Hill rose as a result of her appearance.

For obvious reasons, Hill was quickly accepted as a brilliant, near-oracular figure. But uh-oh! Some of the things she said!

Among other things, she said "the Ukrainian on Hillary Clinton winning the [2016] election."

She said "they were trying to curry favor with the Clinton campaign, it’s quite evident here."

She listed Ukrainian officials, including Ambassador Chaly (at the time, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S.), among the people who "made some pretty unpleasant statements or ill-advised op-eds" during the campaign.

She seemed to say that officials from many governments, including Ukraine's, had made disparaging comments about Candidate Trump. She said she couldn't blame President Trump for feeling aggrieved about these statements.

She affirmed this January 2017 report by the New York Times' Kenneth Vogel, then of Politico. In the last few weeks, Vogel has been taking a lot of rather peculiar guff for his apparently accurate report, in which he listed Ukrainian criticisms of Candidate Trump during Campaign 2016.

Importantly, Hill also said there "was little evidence of a top-down effort by Ukraine" to monkey with the U.S. election. She stressed the fact that Ukrainian conduct can't be compared to the top-down effort which came from the Russian government.

We reproduced the statements in question because we were appalled by the absurdly selective presentation we'd seen the night before on the Maddow TV program. As usual, Maddow engaged in substantial picking and choosing about what her viewers would be allowed to hear, with grossly misleading embellishments added to the mix.

(That, plus all the mugging and clowning! It's so much fun to watch!)

The other tribe gets propagandized on Fox, but our tribe gets propagandized in various places too. Today and tomorrow, we're going to show you a few more things Hill said during her widely-lauded appearance—more specifically, things which will get repeated on Fox but not in more righteous forums.

Trigger warning! The remarks we show you today were made during questioning by Jim Jordan. They involve Hill's assessment of Christopher Steele and the Steele dossier. The Q-and-A went like this:
REP. SCHIFF (11/21/19): Mr. Jordan.

REP. JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Hill, during your deposition, I asked you, “Was Christopher Steele’s dossier a rabbit hole?” Do you remember the answer you gave to that question?

HILL: Yes, I thought it was a rabbit hole.

REP. JORDAN: Yeah, and you also said, a couple of pages later in the deposition or in the transcript that I have here of your deposition, that you thought he got played. Is that fair?

HILL: That is fair, yes.
From there, Jordan orated at length, specifically claiming that Steele got played by Russian intelligence services, etc. and so forth and so on.

As you can see from the transcript, Jordan's oration ate the rest of his time, and Hill wasn't asked to respond. We don't know what she would have said if she;d been asked to assess Jordan's statements.

We also don't know exactly what Hill meant when she said that Steele "got played." We don't know exactly what she meant when she said the Steele dossier had been "a rabbit hole."

We also don't know if Hill is right in her assessments of Steele and the dossier. We're showing you this chunk of transcript because people will hear about it on Fox, and people on our channels won't.

People get shown and told certain things on Fox. We're often shown and told different things on liberal cable, and we often get misled by Rachel.

In our view, this is the problem we're all currently living with. With time off got a holiday, we'll be discussing this problem all week.

Also, this exchange: Earlier, Devin Nunes had asked Hill various questions about the dossier.

You can find the full exchange within the transcript. This Q-and-A occurred:
REP. NUNES: You mentioned in your deposition also that you thought that it was a, let’s get the exact quote, that “the dossier was a rabbit hole.”

Is that still your testimony?

HILL: That’s correct.
We don't know exactly what that statement means. We don't know if Hill's assessment of the dossier is correct. We do know this:

They'll be told about these statements on Fox. Our own multimillionaire corporate-paid minders will keep such knowledge from us.

This is the problem we're all living with. It's an ancient tribal problem, and a difficult problem to solve.

THE PROBLEM: It can be seen wherever you look!


The Problem never sleeps:
The current "Problem We All Live With" is pretty much all around us.

That doesn't necessarily mean that we will be able to spot it. We'll be attempting to sketch its outline during this Thanksgiving week.

This morning, we'll cite one alleged manifestation of The Problem. It appeared in a peculiar news report in Sunday's Washington Post.

The news report was penned by Helderman and Itkowitz. As the pair began their report, we could see that they were discussing a troubling state of affairs.

Someone had tried to obtain information! Hard-copy headline included:
HELDERMAN AND ITKOWITZ (11/24/19): Ethics probe of Nunes 'quite likely,' senior Democrat says

A high-ranking House Democrat said Saturday it’s “quite likely” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will face an ethics investigation over allegations that he met with an ex-Ukrainian official to obtain information about former vice president Joe Biden and his son.

Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, appeared on MSNBC where he was asked whether Nunes could face a House inquiry. “Quite likely, without question,” Smith said.

The allegation that Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, met with a former Ukrainian prosecutor last year to discuss the Bidens came from the attorney for Lev Parnas, one of two Soviet-born associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani who were indicted on charges they broke campaign finance law.

Parnas’s attorney, Joseph Bondy, told The Washington Post that Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, informed Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in December 2018.
Troubling! According to this news report, a serious accusation had been lodged.

According to the accusation, the perpetually put-upon Devin Nunes met with a former Ukrainian official last year. He did so in hopes of "obtaining information."

According to the news report, it was quite likely that Nunes would face an ethics investigation over this allegation. That said, an extremely basic question went unanswered in this full-length news report:

What exactly would be wrong with holding such a meeting? What would be wrong with trying to "obtain information" about Joe Biden and his son?

This full-length Washington Post report ran more than a thousand words. Along from the troubling accusation, it included several additional points:

It included an angry statement by Nunes, in which the perpetually misused solon insisted that no such meeting had occurred.

It included an assessment of the possible need to give Parnas some form of immunity in order to secure his testimony about this troubling matter.

It even included a statement by Rudy Giuliani, with the man the guild once loved so well quoted saying this:
“Devin Nunes says he didn’t meet with Shokin. I have no reason to believe that he did. If he did, there would’ve been nothing wrong with it.”
Thus spake Giuliani! There would have been nothing wrong with such a meeting, "America's mayor" had said.

On and on the news report went, but one key point was never explained:

What would be wrong with such a meeting? What would have been wrong with this alleged attempt to obtain information?

Here at THE HOWLER, we'll bite! What would have been wrong with such a meeting? Why would it trigger an ethics probe?

For ourselves, we wouldn't know how to answer those questions. But we're living in such tribalized times that two Post reporters, and/or their editor, felt no need to address this blindingly obvious question.

At this point, we'll make a confession. Here at THE HOWLER, we're always amused when people explicitly take offense at attempts to obtain information.

This narrative structure initially surfaced when Candidate Trump's routinely objectionable son convened a meeting at Trump Tower in response to an offer of information about Candidate Clinton.

The meeting in question involved Donald Trump Jr.; a Russian lawyer; and roughly half the population of New York City. Our team spent the next several years claiming that the meeting wasn't just unethical, but was even illegal.

In his eponymous report, Robert J. Mueller—formerly, cable's Mueller the God—took a pass on making such an assessment. Now, our team is claiming that it was unethical when Nunes sought information about Biden's under-ethical son—and no one seems to feel the need to explain this latest assessment.

We're always amused when journalists rail against people who seek "information." The conduct seems to confirm our own long-standing observation:
Basic facts and information play almost no role in our discourse.
Why would it be unethical for Nunes to seek "information?" At the Washington Post, no one felt the need to explain!

This made us feel that we were observing one manifestation of The Problem—of the ancient, fundamental problem we're all living with at this point.

Tomorrow: There's no way to "win" such fights

Did Ukraine "interfere in our election?"


Why we can't have nice things:
Trigger warning! We start today with a statement so vile that it may rock your world.

The statement in question goes like this:

Even a tribalized player like Devin Nunes will make the occasional accurate statement.

Rep. Nunes will, on occasion, make an accurate statement! He did so Thursday morning, near the start of that day's hearing, when he offered these remarks about something Fiona Hill had apparently said or suggested:
NUNES (11/21/19): I’d also like to take a quick moment on an assertion Ms. Hill made in the statement that she submitted to this committee, in which she claimed that some committee members deny that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

As I noted in my opening statement on Wednesday, but in March, 2018, Intelligence Committee Republicans published the results of a year-long investigation into Russian meddling. The 240 page report analyzed 2016 Russian meddling campaign, the US government reaction to it, Russian campaigns in other countries and provided specific recommendations to improve American election security. I would asked my staff to hand these reports to our two witnesses today just so I can have a recollection of their memory. As America may or may not know, Democrats refused to sign on to the Republican report. Instead, they decided to adopt minority views, filled with collusion conspiracy theories. Needless to say, it is entirely possible for two separate nations to engage in election meddling at the same time, and Republicans believe we should take meddling seriously by all foreign countries regardless of which campaign is the target. I’d like to submit for the record, a copy of our report titled Report on Russian Active Measures. I yield back.
With an allowance for imprecise language, the accurate statement is this:
"It is entirely possible for two separate nations to engage in election meddling at the same time."
"Meddling" is an imprecise term, as is "interference." But once we've allowed for this imprecision, it's obvious that the gentleman's statement is accurate:

In theory, two different nations could monkey around in the same U.S. election!

That said, did Ukraine "meddle" or "interfere" with the 2016 election? Within our current tribal wars, this question has been bouncing around in the past two weeks, almost always being discussed in a muddled, incoherent manner.

Last night, Rachel Maddow confused the issue in record-setting fashion. She did so by taking this poorly-composed front-page report from today's New York Times and making it even more cloudy.

Because Maddow routinely plays this way, she shouldn't be on the air. In an attempt to offer some minor clarity, here are the claims in question:
Russian "interference"
Almost everyone agrees that the Russian government participated in the 2016 election in several illegal ways. Most dramatically, the Russian government "hacked" (stole) large quantities of DNC emails, then loosed them upon the world.
As far as we know, very few public officials dispute this fact. One who does is Donald J. Trump, who may be crazy enough to believe it was really the Ukrainian government which engaged in these acts.
Ukrainian "interference"
Many Republicans claim that certain Ukrainian officials "interfered in the election" is less egregious ways, with specific examples being cited.
The distinction between these two states of affairs is quite easy to make. That said, liberal pundits and mainstream journalists have spent a lot of energy in recent weeks seeming to obscure this distinction, thereby strengthening tribal narrative.

Inevitably, this morning's front-page report in the Times does a very poor job nailing down this distinction. Last night, Maddow set a new world record for selective presentation as she muddied the issue even further. But then again, what else is new?

Maddow strikes us as a thoroughly hapless tribalized true believer. As such, and due to her limitless self-adoration, she just shouldn't be on the air.

We've posted that statement by Nunes because it's plainly accurate. Plainly, two different nations could engage in "election meddling" at the same time and in the same election.

In a rational world, journalists would try to explain the types of charges being lodged against the two countries in question. Having explicated the claims, journalists would almost surely note that the "interference" engaged in by Russia went well beyond the level of "interference" with which Ukraine is being charged.

That's what would happen in a rational world. In a world in which Maddow is the highest-rated "corporate liberal," massive efforts will be made to keep us rubes barefoot and clueless—to create massive confusion about what's being said.

On Thursday, Fiona Hill stood accused of getting out over her skis with respect to these issues. According to Nunes, she had seemed to say that Republican members of the committee dispute the claim that Russia meddled or interfered.

Nunes and one or two others challenged this claim or suggestion. For today, we're going to show you what Hill said in reply.

Hill is being lionized for her evident brilliance. For ourselves, we don't think we've ever seen anyone so stunningly coherent in a major public forum, excluding Noam Chomsky of course.

That said, part of Hill's brilliance consists in her ability to keep more than one thought in her head at one time. This rare capacity is put on display in the remarks below.

During Thursday's hearing, Rep. Himes asked her if certain actions by Ukrainian officials struck her as "election interference." Plainly, Himes wanted her to say no. We thought it might be worth presenting what Hill said instead.

As Hill's remarks begin, she's speaking about a 2016 op-ed column by the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. "Mr. Castor" is Steve Castor, the committee's Republican counsel. We're working from this transcript:
HIMES (11/21/19): Does that sound like election interference to you?

HILL Well, I would say that it’s probably not the most advisable thing to do for an ambassador because you never know who’s going to win. And I think that the second piece that was presented to me at great length, and I want to thank Mr. Castor for making me go back and read it again because when you asked me the questions about it, I did remember the piece.

Kenneth Vogel is a very well-known and, as you’ve pointed out, extremely good journalist, and I’d remembered reading this back in the day in January of 2017 but it’d been a long time between then and October. And you gave me a copy and I went back and read it again. Because I think it actually is extraordinarily important, it gets to this issue here.

Mr. Vogel points out that the Ukrainian government—again, they wouldn’t have done very well at the [INAUDIBLE], I’m picking up the issue I pointed out at the beginning of today—they bet on the wrong horse.

They bet on Hillary Clinton winning the election. And so they were trying to curry favor with the Clinton campaign, it’s quite evident here.
And he relates to some extent, individuals and some Ukrainian officials like Mr. Avakov, the Interior Minister and a number of other people that he names here and that have been named at various points. And talks about how they were trying to collect information as ranking member Nunes said on Mr. Manafort and on other people as well.

However, I do want to point out that the crux of the article here by Mr. Vogel, as he said, there was little evidence of a top-down effort by Ukraine. And he makes a distinction between the Russian effort that was personally directed by Russian President Putin and involve the country’s military—personally directed by Russian President Putin and involve the country’s military and foreign intelligence services.

Now, I don’t think that those two things are exactly the same. I also mentioned in my deposition of October 14th that in fact many officials for many countries, including Ukraine, bet on the wrong horse. They believed that Secretary Clinton, former Senator Clinton, former First Lady Clinton was going to win. Many said some pretty disparaging and hurtful things about President Trump, and I can’t blame him for feeling aggrieved about them. And when we were setting up head of state visits—and remember, I have a portfolio of 50-plus countries plus NATO and the European Union—we thought it prudent to collect as much as possible about comments that people might’ve said about the president during the campaign, when he was either one of the candidates to be the nominee for the Republican party or when he was actually the candidate running against Hillary Clinton.

I’m sorry to say that an awful lot, and perhaps I shouldn’t name them here because it will have consequences, an awful lot of senior officials in many governments, including our allied governments, said some pretty hurtful things about the president. I would also personally take offense at some of the things that were said if I were the president. Now, the difference here, however, is that that hasn’t had any major impact on his feelings towards those countries. Not that I have seen. But I’ve also heard the president say—and he said it in public, so I’m not revealing any kind of executive privilege here—that Ukraine tried to take me down.

What I have seen [INAUDIBLE] ill-advised Ukrainian officials—Ambassador Chaly’s been removed as being the ambassador from here—made some pretty, you know, unpleasant statements or ill-advised op-eds. But I could list a whole host of ambassadors from allied countries who tweeted out, who had public comments about the president as well, and it did not affect security assistance, having meetings with them. If it would, there’d been a lot of people he wouldn’t have met with.

HIMES: Thank you, Dr. Hill. Mr. Chairman, I seek unanimous consent to add to the record a political article of December 1st, 2016, entitled, "Russia accuses Ukraine of sabotaging Trump." It outlines Russian senior officials making allegations that there was Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
For ourselves, we would be less diplomatic in our assessment of the crazy claims repeatedly made by President Trump, in which he seems to claim that it was Ukraine which conducted the hacking of the DNC emails.

That said, the press corps, in a typical maneuver, has agreed that we mustn't discuss the possibility that Trump is cognitively impaired. This makes it difficult to stage a serious discussion of his endless crazy statements, which he may even believe.

Donald J. Trump keeps making crazy statements about CrowdStrike and Ukraine. That said, and as far as we know, no Republican members of the committee have been making such claims.

Himes suggested that committee members have been creating confusion through their claims about the "Russia hoax." That too calls out for clarification, and has done so for a very long time. But on a show like the Maddow Show, you'll get nothing but selective information, and in a paper like the Times, the performance won't be much better.

(The standard pundits on MSNBC have failed to offer this type of clarification. Mainly, they sit around repeating whatever Nicolle just said. Nicolle was last seen helping George W. Bush waterboard people while placing anti-gay marriage propositions on various state ballots. Today, she's a rather unreliable star on our own tribal side.)

Hill said that various Ukrainian officials engaged in "ill-advised" conduct during the 2016 campaign. We don't know if we agree with that assessment, but that's what she said. She also said she understands why Trump resents this past conduct.

You will never see such clips when you watch Maddow mug and clown and cavort while seeking to make you love her more fully. Instead, you'll see segments like last night's closing segment, an insult to the public intelligence which ought to get its disordered author taken off the air.

Are we humans capable of dispassionate analysis? Are we capable of holding more than one tiny thought, or one sole narrative, in our tiny heads at the same time?

Fiona Hill plainly is. The fruits of that ability will be disappeared on corporate liberal cable. They'll be aggressively pimped on Fox.

Are we humans capable of competent analysis? Especially at times of tribal war, the answer has always been no. For ourselves, we don't see a good way out of the current mess, but we'd recommend a lot more Russia Expert Hill and a lot less Circus Clown Maddow.

This was Maddow's cloaing segment last night. If you aren't insulted by this of stone-cold clowning and self-adoration, one more obvious statement can be made:

You yourself are part of The Problem! Is there any way out of this mess?

Starting Monday: The nature of The Problem

Full disclosure: We'd hoped to be able to discuss this New York Times book review on this weekend morning. As is the norm at this very strange newspaper, it's completely and totally incoherent, on the highest "academic" levels.

Unfortunately, Maddow's clowning superseded. On the brighter side, her clowning helps answer an age-old question:

Why can't we have nice things?

Days of anthropology!


In search of the capacity for even the simplest logic:
To what extent are we the humans gifted with the capacity for even the most basic logic?

To answer your question, let's consider a lengthy report from yesterday's New York Times.

The report in question dominated the front page of yesterday's Thursday Styles section. It appeared beneath these headlines:
The Business of Unconscious Bias
Want to avoid racism, sexism and misgendering? Consultants are standing by.
The lengthy report concerns companies which work within the growing "diversity, equity and inclusion industry (D.E.I.)." That said, we aren't concerned with the quality of any particular company's work. We're concerned with the peculiar logic, or lack of same, at the start of the front-page report.

The report received a very high profile in yesterday's Times. That said, for whatever reason, it started out like this:
ZELEVANSKY (11/21/19): Recently, a story circulated within the diversity, equity and inclusion industry (D.E.I.), one that somehow didn’t go viral on social media: At an unnamed company, co-workers were taking their seats before a sensitivity training workshop began, when some white male employees entered as a group with targets pinned to their shirts—a sartorial statement about their anticipated persecution.

Apocryphal or not, “the story is powerful for two reasons,” said Laura Bowser, the board chair and former C.E.O. of TMI Consulting Inc., a D.E.I. strategy company in Richmond, Va., named for its two founders, but also the abbreviation meaning “too much information.” “One, it shows that there is still an utter lack of empathy and understanding about privilege and power dynamics. Second, it demonstrates how many diversity and inclusion trainings in the past have failed.”
Does that make any sense at all? No, really—does that make sense?

As you can see, the report began with one of those "perfect stories." In this case, the story didn't exactly have a perfect hero or villain.

Instead, it featured what might be called a group of "perfect oafs." The moral of the story might be, There go those white males again!

As we've noted again and again, large chunks of modern "liberal" discourse are built around such perfect stories. In this case, though, we seem to learn, in the second paragraph, that the writer of the Times report doesn't know if the story is true.

The writer doesn't seem to know if the events in question actually happened. It isn't clear whether Laura Bowser knows either.

That said, so what? The writer seems to quote Bowser saying that the story "is powerful," and "shows" us several things, whether it's true or not. But how could the story "show" or "demonstrate" various things if it never happened?

As noted, this was the opening passage of a lengthy New York Times report. We're told that a story which has been making the rounds can show and demonstrate several things, but we seem to be told that no one knows if the story actually happened.

Our question:

What kind of editor thinks it makes sense to start a long report this way? And on what basis did such a person get hired at the Times?

As a matter of basic logic, this passage doesn't seem to make any sense. But such material appears in the Times on a daily basis. In this case, the material forms the start of a lengthy report which sits atop one section's front page.

To what extent are we the humans gifted with the capacity for even the simplest logic? We ask that question every day as we peruse the Times.

And now for the rest of the logic: For advanced logicians only, how much could this story demonstrate or show if we knew the events in question really didhappen?

Such a story would be an "anecdote." It would concern a single event which happened in just one place involving a handful of men.

What can we learn from such an event? Discuss. Compare and contrast!

Tomorrow: Good God! Also in yesterday's Times, this instructive book review...

DAYS OF IMPEACHMENT: These stupidifications are Trumpism too!


The problem we now live with:
Our view? In a pair of complementary columns today, Krugman and Brooks have gone a long way toward describing The Problem We Now Live With.

Having canceled Thanksgiving plans, we plan to explore that problem next week. That said, one part of the problem involves the spectacular dumbness which has long characterized the analytical work which emerged from Our Own Tribal Side.

That spectacular dumbness is Trumpism too; it was dominant long before Trump. Much of it comes from the upper-end press, much from academia.

One example of the genre appears today in the New York Times, where Vanessa Friedman has been unloosed again.

What you see here is Trumpism too. No intelligent animal species would ever put nonsense like this into print:
FRIEDMAN (11/22/19): Not that Colonel Vindman and Mr. Jordan were the only participants dressing for a fight. They were simply the most obvious.

While Mr. Kent’s bow tie got most of the viewing attention during his appearance, his three-piece suit was equally notable. All five buttons of the vest were tightly buttoned,
even though men’s wear rules tend to dictate that the bottom button be left undone, as it is in a suit jacket.

The vest formed a kind of extra protective layer for the witness, just as the silk scarf guarding the neck of Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, demanded a closer look. Reportedly a traditional design from Hermès known as the Grand Uniforme, created in 1955, it featured a pattern of gold helmets and what looked surprisingly like swords.

Elaborate, almost Napoleonic hilts, with tassels and ropes and other elements of martial pageantry. As if there were any doubt that a woman who started her testimony paying homage to her fellow diplomats in “hardship” positions, a woman of calm, carefully considered answers, did not anticipate what weapons may be deployed.

There was more...
In sacred Homer's two great poems, we humans occasionally form our judgments based on the flight of birds. Almost three thousand years later, our leading newspaper isn't embarrassed to put this lunacy into print—lunacy in which the newspapers' fashion director and chief fashion critic seems to suggest that George Kent wore a three=piece suit last week because the vest would "form a kind of extra protective layer" in the fight for which he'd supposedly dressed.

This is undisguised lunacy. So is Friedman's return to the apparent meaning of Ambassador Yovanovich's scarf, still reportedly "a traditional design from Hermès known as the Grand Uniforme, created in 1955."

Meanwhile, Friedman is counting buttons again, a return to the astounding practice so widespread from November 1999 at least through February 2000, when the number of buttons (three) on Candidate Gore's disturbing suit jackets were a sign of his smarmy, sailor-like attempts to entice female voters.

Chris Matthews fashioned the craziest commentary on this troubling matter; Brian Williams kept the lunacy going into the spring of 2000. At one point, Arianna Huffington even sewed an additional button on the candidate's disturbing suit jackets. Here she was, om Geraldo's nightly MSNBC show, speaking to Al Franken:
HUFFINGTON (11/9/99): When you are talking about a consultant that you bring on to give opinions on how to dress and whether you're an alpha male and how do you become a beta male— Frankly, you know, what is fascinating is that the way he's now dressing makes a lot of people feel disconnected from him. And there was this marvelous story in one of the New Hampshire papers saying, “Nobody here—nobody here in Hanover, New Hampshire, wears tan suits with blue shirts.” You know, it's just—and buttons—all four buttons! You know, it's not just—it's just not the way most American males dress.
For a fuller treatment, click here.

For the record, Candidate Gore wore no four-button suits. But Arianna was hitting all the themes prevalent at that time, including the slimiest theme of them all—the claim that the candidate wasn't quite like "mot American males," hint hint hint hint hint.

(The candidate had "hired a woman to teach him how to be a man." So pundits declared, again and again,. "Feminists" and "liberals" were too dumb, too somnolent, too uncaring to voice a word of complaint. Feminism wasn't hip as yet.)

That was insanity then; Friedman is crazy today. Additionally, that was unvarnished Trumpism.

Trumpism was in the saddle and ruling humankind long before Trump himself came on the political scene. The inanity of these ruling elites—inanity which was driving the discourse decades ago—is one major part of The Problem We All Currently Live with.

Are we humans really "the rational animal," the noble though laughable story line our tribunes have long advanced? Truthfully, no, we've never been anything like that! Here's more nonsense from Friedman today, in our most brainiac newspaper:
FRIEDMAN: There is a reason that both the bow tie of George P. Kent, the State Department official and witness, and the jacket of Representative Jim Jordan, ended up with their own Twitter accounts. (The bow tie actually has two.)

There is a reason that everyone became fixated on the seeming twinkle in Ambassador Gordon D. Sondland’s eye, the smile that seemed to play around his lips. They undermined the card-carrying-member-of-the-establishment messaging of his dark suit and subtly patterned Republican red tie, just as his testimony undermined the no-quid-pro-quo White House story line.
Crazily, Friedman seems to believe that "everyone" became fixated on Sondland's seeming twinkle. The impulse to move to such ridiculous sweeping statements is a marker of The Widespread Mental Incompetence We All Currently Live With.

Friedman's work is Trumpism too, as is much of the work which appears in the Times. (Additional posts to follow.) And it's a shame that so much folderol gets churned by our most brainiac newspaper, because these Days of Impeachment called for our most careful analytical work.

Did you receive such work on cable TV? Let's consider the way Rachel Maddow introduced these days of impeachment.

Last Tuesday night, November 12, the excitement was building. The hearings would begin the next day—and at the start of her nightly TV show, the multimillionaire "cable news" star started setting the scene:
MADDOW (11/12/19): And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.

Here at MSNBC, we work closely with, we work alongside, physically alongside our NBC News colleagues. But that does not always mean we have any inside information about what exactly they're doing on the network side and what they're working on, and vice versa.

You know, whatever we're working on and whatever we're developing, they might not have, you know, total transparency.

As such, when NBC News broadcasts its special report tomorrow morning on the impeachment proceedings against President Trump, the first public impeachment hearings in the impeachment proceedings against President Donald J. Trump, and when that NBC News special report tomorrow morning is anchored by Lester Holt from Nightly News and NBC`s chief legal correspondent, Today Show host Savannah Guthrie, and Chuck Todd from Meet the Press–

I mean, yes, we all work in the same together. Yes, we are all part of the same big happy family, but I can't tell you exactly what that NBC News special coverage is going to look like.
To watch this bullshit, click here.

Interesting! As always, Maddow was talking about herself, at significant length. Nor had she failed to cross-promote all the network's stars.

That said, she clearly seemed to be headed toward a major important reveal. And then, her actual topic emerged! Let me entertain you, she basically said, as she played some music for us:
MADDOW (continuing directly): That said, I can pretty much guarantee you it will not have a theme song as cool, or as oddly ponderous and artistic, as the way NBC News played its special theme song and lead-in to the impeachment proceedings in 1973 for then-President Richard Nixon, because that was all covered with NBC News special reports, too.

But have you seen this? This was–they like developed a whole theme song! This was like the opening credits to the Watergate hearings.

ANNOUNCER (5/17/73): NBC News Special Report.


ANNOUNCER: Watergate Senate Hearings. Here from Washington is NBC News correspondent Garrick Utley.

UTLEY: Good morning. This is the Senate caucus room in Washington, D.C., and it`s jammed this morning, jammed with spectators, newsman, senators and their aides. And the scene adds to the sense of drama as the Senate opens with what is likely to become the most serious investigation it has ever made, an investigation of the American political system and the presidency itself.

The name of the investigation is Watergate because that is the name of the building where the Democratic Party offices were located, offices that were broken into last year. But the investigation that begins today will go far beyond that incident. The senators will also be asking questions about other acts of political sabotage in last year`s presidential campaign. And they`ll be asking about the money, secret cash that finance the sabotage, where it came from and how it was used. That is the Senate committee, seven members headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina.

MADDOW: That's NBC News correspondent Garrick Utley, off-camera but doing like live color, live play-by-play of the NBC News special report on the first day of the Watergate hearings, May 17th, 1973. Having to kind of vamp there a little bit as everybody is getting seated.

"No more pictures, no more pictures!" OK, they're convening the hearing.

And tomorrow morning, every network will do their own version of this special report, right? As I just mentioned, NBC News is going to have their whole senior crew doing their special report. Again, 46 years and a half on from the way it looked on Watergate.

Here in MSNBC, Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace, they're going to be co-anchoring MSNBC's special coverage starting at 9:00 a.m. All of the networks are going to be doing something like this.

But as you can see from this vintage testimony from '73, the fact we have done this so few times in American history means it's hard to see any of this as normal, right? It's hard to extrapolate what we've already been through to know exactly what it ought to be like when these hearings kick off tomorrow. There's nothing you can look at from '73 or from any other impeachments that can tell you how it's likely to go this time.

For example, I can tell you I don't think they're going to run that theme music in the opening again. I will say, it's cool enough I want to take it for this show. What we need on this show is more timpani. I've always thought so. Watergate.
So entertaining and cool! Wasting our time while making us like her, our own Rhodes scholar played "like the opening credits to the Watergate hearings" from NBC News in June 1973.

As it turned out, NBC had "like developed a whole theme song" for those ancient Senate hearings! Time passed while Maddow pointlessly played the pointless comments of the late Garrick Utley. But then, inevitably, she was talking about herself again!

That old theme music was so cool that she wanted it for her own TV program! "What we need on this show is more timpani," she said, advancing her branding as she persistently does.

As she continued, Maddow wasted everyone's time with endless, utterly pointless remarks about the testimony of Robert Odle, the little-remembered first witness in the 1973 hearings. And so cool! As Maddow played the tape of Odle walking to the witness stand, she didn't fail to describe the lack of staging, or to mention his clothes:
MADDOW: See, they didn't choreograph this for maximum drama. This is the first witness. They didn't have the first witness sitting anywhere near the witness table or the front of the room. He's got to make his way through the whole crowd. Obviously, he's also wearing his father's suit.
So cool! Later, she returned to the entertaining claim that Odle had been wearing a "Dad suit." In these well-disguised Trumpist realms, nothing stops the flow of the bullshit, or the obsession with self:
MADDOW: And so, we shall see how all that goes. I can't wait, like I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight, in part because this is such an historic thing.

There aren't very many Americans since the history–since the origins of our country. Just hasn't happened very many times in our history as a country.

To be here for it, let alone to have the privilege to cover it as a news story, is a humbling and exciting thing.
Maddow like didn't know how she'd be able to sleep that night! Two nights later, she clowned and vogued with Joy Reid about the insomnia the two stars share. It's almost like the two cable stars are two of your like friends.

Maddow said the whole thing was "humbling" for her. That seemed like a misstatement.

Do you mind if we tell you something about the endless bullshit you're served on the Maddow program? While the cable star is wasting your time with her endless pointless flashbacks to Days of Nixon and Agnew, she isn't telling you about homeless students in New York City, or about how many there are.

She isn't telling you about the astonishing costs pf American health care. She isn't discussing the climate crisis, which is on track to kill so many children around the world.

She isn't discussing low-income public schools, a topic to which she would never stoop. She's telling you about herself and treating you like a fool as she does, as she stuffs millions of corporate dollars into the back of her pants.

Later on last Tuesday night, the silly Trumpism returned. Inevitably, this silly corporate-fed harlequin child went there all over again:

MADDOW: This is my favorite kind of breaking news!

At the very top of the show tonight, I was caviling about how NBC covered the first day of the Watergate hearings in 1973, specifically this title sequence that was the lead-in to the live NBC News special report for the first day of the Watergate hearings in '73. And I caviled about this for obvious reasons.

ANNOUNCER: NBC News Special Report.


ANNOUNCER: Watergate: Senate hearings.

MADDOW: I was like, "We are definitely taking that special report theme song from 1973! The Rachel Maddow Show needs more timpani!"

Well, because you are all the best viewers in the world, I am now informed and absolutely convinced that is a Berlioz symphony, that is from Symphonie Fantastique composed in 1830.

And here's the amazing thing, because you are the best viewers in the world, I almost can't believe NBC was this on the nose with its music choice that day. But it wasn't just Symphonie Fantastique, the music NBC used as the lead-in to the impeachment hearings in May 1973 was specifically from the fourth movement of that symphony which had a title.

The title was “March to the Scaffold!”

Thank you to Racgel Maddow Show viewers for knowing your French composers.
Children are dying all over the world as the silly corporate child entertains and panders to you in these silly childish ways.

Last Tuesday night, she was once again "like, We are definitely taking that special report theme song from 1973!" She returned to this pointlessness near the end of her program

She played the theme music once again, even explaining its origin. She'd been caviling about the music earlier on, through she had caviled for obvious reasons. Also, she needed more timpani on her TV show.

The circus clown said that her viewers were the very best in the world. This is stupidified Trumpism too, wrapped in a smiling face, sitting atop a pair of large orange shoes.

This is one major part of the problem we're all living with. That said, Chris and Brian and Arianna had all been engaged in Creeping Trumpism too.

That was twenty years ago, long before Donald J. Trump waddled onto the scene, with his path to the White House greased by the likes of Maddow.

Our own tribe's stars are Trumpists too! They have been for a very long time, and they're massively paid to behave in these ways by our own nation's oligarchs.

You aren't allowed to know how much they're paid. Fellow tribals, show some sense! Just sit there and eat what you're served!

Next week: The nature of The Problem

DAYS OF IMPEACHMENT: Long day's journey into...


...the problem we all live with:
We're afraid that we've spent the bulk of the day watching the bulk of the hearings. Along the way, we even had a computer meltdown!

For today, we're glad that Fiona Hill spoke up on behalf of Kenneth Vogel's reporting. We were intrigued by her statement that Christopher Steele got played, though we still don't know to what extent that assessment may be accurate.

More than anything else, we thought we saw the current version of the problem we all live with. Since there will be no hearings tomorrow, we'll try to explain what we mean.

We'll probably start with the mugging and clowning we get on our own cable channel. Mugging and clowning is Trumpism too. Trumpism didn't begin with Trump, and the Trumpism could get worse before it ever gets better.

What is the problem we all live with? Of one thing we can be sure—your excellent question is anthropological, pretty much all the way down!

Tomorrow: Days of impeachment end

Refuse to count the children well!


The Lincoln Bedroom returns:
By the time of the days of impeachment, upper-end American journalists had agreed on one basic idea.

Statistics were boring and hard, they said. Except when statistics could be embellished to drive home some preferred point.

By common agreement, journalists refused to cite data at all unless the data had been "enhanced." As one example, consider the photo report in today's (hard-copy) New York Times about that city's very large number of homeless school-age kids.

In print editions, the report fills the first four pages of the "New York" section. For reasons only the Times can explain, it doesn't even appear in the "Today's Paper" listing on line.

You can peruse the photo report here.
In print, the report appears beneath this large, bold banner headline:
114,000 Students in New York City Are Homeless.
That's a gigantic number of homeless kids—and no child should be homeless.

That said, are there really 114,000 homeless students in New York City? Eliza Shapiro was the reporter, so we were already checking our wallets.

We were on full red alert. As she started, Shapiro said this:
SHAPIRO (11/20/19): Darnell, 8, lives in a homeless shelter and commutes 15 miles a day to school.

Sandivel shares a bedroom with her mother and four brothers. She is 10 and has moved seven times in the past five years.

The number of school-age children in New York City who live in shelters or “doubled up” in apartments with family or friends has swelled by 70 percent over the past decade—a crisis without precedent in the city’s history.
Wait a minute! Just like that, it almost seemed like some of New York City's homeless kids may not exactly be homeless!

Some of these kids are living in homeless shelters. But some of these kids are living in apartments shared with family or friends!

For an upper-class legacy kid like Shapiro, living in a crowded apartment is apparently the same thing as being homeless. Before too long, a new number emerged in her photo report:
SHAPIRO: Sandy is one of over 73,000 homeless students who lived “doubled up” last year.
According to Shapiro, 73,000 of Gotham's homeless students actually live "doubled up." In other words:

Of Gotham's 114,000 homeless students, 41,000 are homeless!

Presumably, it isn't ideal to be "doubled up" in the manner described. That said, being "doubled up" doesn't exactly make you homeless.

In this particular case, Sandivel's mother pays $700 rent per month for the apartment her family shares. They aren't living on the street, nor are they in a homeless shelter. They're living in an apartment for which they pay monthly rent.

We're not sure why people like Shapiro like to toy with numbers. In our world, 41,000 homeless kids is an extremely large number of kids. We can't imagine why "journalists" seem to feel the need to goose such numbers up.

That said: As we saw these numbers float by, we thought all the way back to the Lincoln Bedroom pseudo-scandal of 1997.

We recalled the ugly, unconscionable way the Washington Post and the New York Times goosed the number of overnight guests the Clintons had housed, back in the days when the liberal world was sleeping soundly as a succession of journalistic scams just kept rolling on.

Long story short:

To make the number of overnight guests as large as inhumanly possible, the two newspapers added in the 72 teenage girls who had attended a set of White House slumber parties as guests of Chelsea Clinton. They also added in 35 overnight stays by assorted family members.

To goose the number as high as possible, these 107 overnight stays were added to the total. This was done to create the impression that Bill and Hillary Clinton were selling access to the Lincoln Bedroom, and on a massive scale.

We reported this unbelievably stupid and ugly story in real time. We revisited it in 2005, when it turned out that, on a per year basis, President Bush was hosting overnight guests at a rate which basically matched the number once deemed so heinous.

You probably know what happened. Under Clinton, this had been a giant pseudo-scandal. Under Bush, the same (utterly pointless) phenomenon came and went in barely a day.

You can review the whole story here, but yes, it's actually true. In order to hype a phony scandal well, the Post and the Times added Chelsea's slumber party guests to the allegedly scandalous number of Clinton "overnight guests."

There's a special hook involving the way the Post goosed the number up. The story goes like this:

At first, the Post had used the accurate number of non-family adult overnight guests. But when the Post saw everyone else using the phony larger number, they decided to go ahead and use the embellished number too!

This is the way the upper-end press was functioning 22 years before these current days of impeachment. By the time of these days of impeachment, kids who lived in crowded apartments were being listed as "homeless."

By this time, a general agreement had emerged. By general agreement, upper-end journalists refuse to cite any statistic unless the number in question has been embellished. We'll guess that they do this because of their exposure to lead in the years long before Flint, another situation they massively embellished.


Your lizard brain is going to tell you that you should get mad about what we've written. Depending on your rate of exposure to "cable news" and social media, your lizard may be telling you things like that every day of the week.

Please tell your lizard well:

In New York City, it seems that 41,000 school-age kids are living in homeless shelters. That's a very large number of homeless kids. That very large number doesn't need to be goosed.

It's important to get homeless kids into homes. On the other hand, it's also important to stop all the upper-class dissembling and novelizing.

That said, alas! Due to the sickness of the times, the modern journalist won't publish a number unless the number is wrong!

Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves contributed to this report through the auspices of their award-winning future news service, FAHIC News.

DAYS OF IMPEACHMENT: A funny thing happened to American discourse!


All silly, wherever you looked:
A funny thing happened to the American experiment on its way through the first few decades of the 21st century.

In November 2016, in part due to the nation's peculiar electoral system, Donald J. Trump was elected president. He had highly unusual views concerning America's role in the world and, on an alternate track, he often engaged in peculiar conduct and made extremely peculiar statements.

Roughly one year into his term,
it was decreed that the national press should not discuss the possibility that his behavior was caused by some form of mental illness, psychological disorder or cognitive impairment. Instead, the nation's influencers agreed to be "shock, shocked" on a daily basis by whatever peculiar thing the disordered president had most recently said.

The president's intellectual disorder tracked that which had prevailed in the upper-end press corps for decades. By the time of the days of impeachment, assessments of this type were commonly being made:
GIVHAN (11/20/19): The uniform did what uniforms are designed to do.

When Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, his striking presence in his serviceable eyeglasses and his military uniform exuded authority, ferocity and patriotism. As one of the Democratic committee members noted admiringly, Vindman was wearing a Purple Heart on his uniform. He also had a Combat Infantry Badge pinned on the left side of his chest, indicating he’d been involved in active ground combat. For civilian viewers, it was helpful to understand the meanings of some of the insignia on his jacket. But even without the details, anyone looking at the vast collage of medals spread across his chest could understand the story they told: that Vindman is one of the many dedicated individuals who choose to stand guard so that others might sleep easily.
In the case of this particular witness, it wasn't just his military uniform which let the nation's influencers assess his character. His "serviceable eyeglasses" let hapless citizens "understand the story" too.

Normal intellectual standards had almost completely disappeared. On the highest-rated "corporate liberal" cable TV program, viewers put up with self-referential nonsense like this as the days of impeachment started:
MADDOW (11/14/19): Tomorrow will be a big day. Not only is tomorrow a Friday in the year 2019, tomorrow's going to be day two of the impeachment hearings.

Marie Yovanovitch, ousted as Ukraine ambassador, her testimony and that second impeachment hearing will start at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Also tomorrow, a closed door deposition from somebody named David Holmes. He's the first of potentially two staffers from Kiev who heard President Trump on a phone call to Ambassador Gordon Sondland in a restaurant in Ukraine asking Sondland about the investigations into the Bidens that he wanted Ukraine to do.

I should also tell you that tomorrow, we will be awaiting a jury verdict in the Roger Stone trial. The jury is already out deliberating in that case.

It's going to be a big day tomorrow. We'll see you then. That does it for us tonight. Now, it's time for The Last Word, where Joy Reid is in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Joy.

REID: Good evening, Rachel. So, I can tell you that as of tomorrow, you can officially class me as a shut-in. I will not leave my home. No one is to call me. Do not text me. I will not answer.

I am so ready for this. I'm so fascinated by it. I don't know if you've responded to it the same way. I cannot stop watching it.

MADDOW: I have to tell you I'm already nervous now about how fast I need to sleep so I can be awake and do all my business, like have breakfast and have a shower and have a shower and walk the dog and do all the things I need to do so that I'm seated and paying attention by 9:00 because 9:00 a.m. is not my key time of day.

REID: I'm with you.

MADDOW: We're stressed about it.

REID: It's hard because I have insomnia, really bad insomnia.

MADDOW: I know you do.

REID: So I've been trying to trick myself to fall asleep at 11:00, so I can be up at 8:00. So, I'm like trying tricks. I've got like the calm app going because I'm like–my poor husband, I'm like I've got to be asleep. I need to sleep in like ten minutes. I've got to get up at 8:00.

You know, it's really bad. At least with me, it`s really not been easy this week.


MADDOW: Also I love how you and I have the same approach to sleeping. Like, "Must sleep now, focus, sleep fast."

REID: Turn on Matthew McConaughey app where he reads me a story now. Like it`s really bad.

MADDOW: Yes, and then you scream at it and it's weird, it doesn't relax you but you just sleep. I know. We're terrible people. But at least you and I are in the same boat. Thank you, my friend.

REID: There are at least two of us. There are two of us. So, I don't feel alone.

MADDOW: I think there's more. You and I will both be awake all night and sleep on Saturday. Fair?

REID: There you go. Sounds good.

MADDOW: Fair, thanks, my friend. All right.

REID: All right, have a good night. Bye.
Just for the record, we'd have insomnia too, if we were willing to behave that way night after night, on national TV, for very large corporate pay checks.

You aren't allowed to know how large. But in such ways, the multimillionaire "chattering class" had long since agreed to chatter.

Nothing was clear as impeachment proceeded, except that Candidate Warren had flipped on Medicare for all. She had instead decided to propose a public option, even as she agreed to pretend that she still had a plan to pursue the original proposal in Year 3 of her term.

The gods on Olympus had long since stopped laughing at what was transpiring. It was embarrassing all the way down, as even these great gods acknowledged.

Tomorrow: Maria Butina's boyfriend to jail! Plus, NBC's Watergate theme song!

Long day's journey into toothache!


Could someone buy Castor an ice cream?:
We're afraid that we've spent the bulk of the day watching the bulk of the hearings.

Our principal finding:

Watching Steve Castor interview anyone is a deeply painful experience. That may well be part of the plan.

Several days of this punishment lie ahead. We may be forced to rethink our approach.