The New York Times wants to improve the debates!


Also, Gore refused to fight:
Now that the conventions are over, we're on the march toward the Trump-Biden debates.

Yesterday, the New York Times ran ten letters suggesting ways to improve this year's debate. The letters were offered in response to Michelle Cottle's essay, How to Improve the Debates, which ran in print editions on Tuesday, August 18.

Cottle in a member of the Times editorial board. In print editions, her essay ran in the place where editorials would normally appear. After reading yesterday's letters, we went back and read Cottle's essay, which we had widely skipped when it first appeared.

At this point, we'll admit it! We were drawn to the letters because of the way one letter-writer repeated one of our tribe's most treasured inaccurate claims. This is the latter in question:
To the Editor:

Standing on a debate stage in 2016, Hillary Clinton was answering a question posed by the moderator and suddenly realized that her opponent, Donald Trump, was prowling somewhere behind and near her. Why was the moderator missing in action when that intentional stalking by Mr. Trump to throw his opponent off stride was taking place?

In 2020 we can expect many diversions from Mr. Trump. There are some useful recommendations from the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Michelle Cottle’s piece. But while Annenberg recommends “cutting moderators out of the action as much as possible,” I believe that training for moderators in how to handle infractions should be required. We know what’s coming!
The letter came from a member of the Rockland County (N.Y.) Legislature. Another letter made reference to the same alleged event.

Candidate Trump stalked Candidate Clinton! It has become one of our most treasured tribal beliefs. Clinton advanced this fairy tale herself in her book about Campaign 2020.

This stalking incident is alleged to have happened during the second Trump-Clinton debate, the one with the town hall format. Our tribe is in love with this stalking claim—but no, it didn't actually happen, even though you've seen the damning photos.

You can see what actually happened starting around minute 24:45 in this videotape of the full debate. What actually happened is this:

On two successive questions, Clinton walked over in front of Trump's lectern. She did this in order to respond to questioners who were seated in that part of the room.

Trump was standing at his lectern, exactly as he should have been while Clinton spoke. But Clinton was now directly in front of his lectern. This created the camera angles which we the liberals, and Clinton herself, have now turned into a stalking incident.

We people hate to abandon pleasing beliefs even when the pleasing beliefs in question are false. Nothing will ever kill the pleasing claim, which plays into fundamental tribal verities of our majorly self-impressed tribe.

Still, if you want to see what actually happened, you can click to that videotape and watch the sequence of events as Clinton answers those two questions. Candidate Clinton did absolutely nothing wrong—but just to be honest for once, neither did Candidate Trump, though he behaved abysmally at other points that night. (For example, see his snarling, repetitive interruptions from minutes 22-25.)

Back to the crying need to pretend that the New York Times is looking for ways to "improve the debates:"

After being struck by the very few real suggestions offered in yesterday's ten (10) letters, we decided to read Cottle's original essay. Doing so brought a question to mind:

Has Michelle Cottle ever watched an actual general election debate? We'll tell you why we're asking that question in the next day or two. First, the meta-story:

Down through the years, we've often asked if members of our upper-end press corps could possibly be human. The strangeness of that Cottle essay raises the possibility, at least in our mind, that she isn't from Mississippi at all, but perhaps from Neptune or Mars.

Cottle's essay about the debates makes almost zero sense. And yet, she's a member in good standing of the Times editorial board, and the Times decided to run her puzzling essay in place of editorials.

There are obvious lessons to be learned from such a puzzling state of affairs. In a similar vein, we were struck by an array of comments from Times readers yesterday about the way the "pusillanimous" Candidate Gore "rolled over" and refused to "fight it out" in the aftermath of Election 2000.

(Gore's concession was finally delivered on Wednesday, December 13.)

Yesterday's puzzling comments came in response to one somewhat odd quoted remark in a thoroughly sensible essay about what could happen in the aftermath of this November's election.

The essay in question (Could It Be Bush v. Gore All Over Again?) was written by Linda Greenhouse. Her warnings about what could conceivably happen this fall are very much worth considering.

One quoted remark in the Greenhouse essay is slightly odd. The comments from an array of readers are basically stone-cold crazy. Regarding the commenters and their strange comments, there is again a lesson to be learned:

These are the scattered, puzzling troops with which our tribe marches to war.

As a group, we liberals have long been majorly self-impressed. We're convinced that we're the very smart ones, and that our newspaper is tops.

Anthropologists say it isn't our fault, but they say it's hard for us humans to see certain types of truths.

Over the course of the next few days, we'll show you the comments about the way Candidate Gore refused to fight. Also, we'll examine suggestions that Cottle may be phoning it in from Mars.

Has Cottle ever watched an actual general election debate? If she has, you'd never know it from the comments and criticisms she made in her essay.

She sits on the Times editorial board. But has she ever actually watched a general election debate?

STARTING TOMORROW: The misreported and the dead!


A long journalistic event:
According to the Washington Post's Fatal Force reporting project, roughly a thousand people per year are shot and killed by police officers around the United States.

What percentage of those events involved misconduct by the officer or officers in question? We know of no one who has ever tried to perform such an analysis.

The Post has tried to sort these events according to the race or ethnicity of the deceased—the dead. The newspaper's reporting project began at the start of 2015. As of this very morning, the numbers look like this:
Numbers of people shot and killed by police officers, 2015 to present
White: 2,530
Black: 1,319
Hispanic: 920
Other race or ethnicity: 218
Unknown race or ethnicity: 611
That's the way the numbers break down according to "race" or ethnicity. The numbers can also be sifted in these additional ways:
Numbers of people shot and killed by police officers, 2015 to present
Men: 5,351
Women: 246
Unknown: 1

Numbers of people shot and killed by police officers, 2015 to present
45 years of age and older: 1,465
30-44: 2,134
18-29: 1,465
Under 18: 102
Unknown age: 251
For whatever reason, the number of racial/ethnic "unknowns" has greatly increased since the start of the project.

In 2015, the Post lists only 29 racial/ethnic "unknowns" among 994 shooting deaths. For 2019, the Post lists 142 such "unknowns" among 999 shooting deaths.

(For 2018: 101 such "unknowns" among 990 deaths.)

For what it's worth, the steady rise in these "unknowns" has begun to diminish the value of the racial/ethnic component of this reporting project. We'll suggest the possibility that the Post has perhaps devoted less time and attention to this project as the years have passed.

(At present, the Post lists four such racial/ethnic "unknowns" for the state of Wisconsin—two from 2018, one from 2019 and one from 2020. Over this past weekend, it was easy to establish that three of these victims were actually white. We didn't attempt to research the fourth, for whom no name is known.)

After adjusting for population, the United States has many more police shooting deaths than comparable developed nation. The fact that the United States is "awash in guns" is almost surely partly or largely responsible for this large disparity.

That said, this country experiences a lot of shooting deaths at the hands of police officers. Some of those deaths involve misconduct. It would be interesting and valuable to know how many.

More specifically, it would be valuable to know how many such deaths involved police misconduct for each racial/ethnic group.

Starting in 2012, the upper-end press corps has taken vastly greater interest in this societal issue. (The existence of the Fatal Force reporting project is one obvious part of this journalistic phenomenon.)

This is plainly a deeply important topic, especially since almost all reporting and discussion of the topic have stressed racial themes. That said, the reporting of this important matter has often been remarkably incompetent.

At this site, we've been reporting journalistic incompetence since 1998. Starting in 2018, we began treating this journalistic incompetence as an anthropological matter—as a marker of the less than wholly impressive way our human brains are wired.

(Presumably, this less than wholly impressive wiring dates back into prehistory, and into the time before that.)

We've been reporting journalistic incompetence since 1998. We'd say that police shooting deaths is one of the most poorly reported topics we've ever covered at this site.

As such, we'd say that the mainstream press corps's work in this area has been an anthropological gold mine, but also a source of substantial misunderstanding and pain.

In part because of long-standing cultural beliefs, in part because of the ways our highly fallible brains are wired, it's hard for us to see the upper-end press corps' work for what it actually is. Tomorrow, we'll start to discuss the many ways this important societal topic has been misreported by this unimpressive corporate elite.

According to major anthropologists, we humans aren't "the rational animal," and we never were. The press corps' handling of this topic brings this anthropological fact into stark relief, as does the way our tribal groups fashion and cling to their favorite beliefs concerning such important topics.

How has this topic been misreported by the upper-end press? Tomorrow, we'll start to count the (many) ways.

No one's beliefs will change one whit, several top experts have said.

Tomorrow: Who on earth was Bijan Ghaisar? The start of a long, winding road

Herman Cain is no longer alive!


The Crazy meets The Novelized—The Dumb, The Unfeeling, The Wrong:
Back on June 20, Herman Cain attended Donald J. Trump's indoor rally in Tulsa.

In photographs from the event, Cain was wearing no mask. Neither was anyone else.

Cain was seated cheek-to-jowl with other attendees. Posing for those photographs, he leaned in even closer.

Five weeks later, Cain died of covid-19. There's no way of knowing where or when he became infected, but the most striking part of the story is this:

Thursday night, over a thousand Herman Cains packed the South Lawn of the White House, where they watched Donald J. Trump's robotic convention address.

Granted, this was an outdoor event. That said, the Washington Post described the scene as shown:
NAKAMURA (8/28/20): More than 1,500 supporters poured onto the South Lawn for his formal acceptance speech to cap the Republican National Convention, and most were not wearing masks, even though they were seated closely together in white folding chairs.
Thursday night, Trump supporters sat cheek by jowl for hours. Give them liberty and give them death, the witty Cain might have said.

In recent years, many manifestations within our discourse seem to have come, live and direct, from the realm of The Crazy.

Adherence to QAnon's crazy "theories" would be one such manifestation. Arguably, so would a great deal of conduct in which people seem to accept the notion that covid-19 is, or was, some sort of pipedream or hoax.

More and more, our nation's behavior and belief seem to hail from the realm of The Crazy. But then again, there's also such conduct as this:

Last Thursday afternoon, we sat and watched a pile of behavior which came to us, live and direct, from the realms of The Novelized, The Stupid, The Dumb and The Wrong.

The extremely talented Nicolle Wallace hosted the discussion in question. As always, she was coming to our needy liberal tribe live and direct from earlier efforts to outlaw same-sex marriage and to support continued widespread death in Iraq.

Wallace is a highly skilled salesperson. On this day, she was fronting our blue tribe's latest instant novel—an instant novel which was deeply stupid but deeply pleasing to our own failing tribe.

The instant novel to which we refer contained an array of targets. How deep was the desire to thrill and excite, to frighten and loathe? At one point, a deeply grateful Aisha Mills said this to her multimillionaire corporate host:
"You know, Nicolle, I really appreciate you in the last segment referring to him as an assassin, because that's exactly what he is."
That was just one tiny part of the novel three pundits were building this day. Also, that's the kind of stupid shit which now comes to our failing tribe from people hailed for their unbelievable smarts on websites of upper-end orgs like the Kennedy School.

At any rate, consider:

Aisha Mills appreciated the fact that Wallace had described 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse as "an assassin."

For this pair of tribal ghouls, the instant term "vigilante" was no longer enough! But within our wider American culture, this is the way best-selling novels and most-watched films now tend to be crafted:

We need our villains to be perfect, to be evil all the way down.

Wallace crafted her instant novel with the help of Mills and the Washington Post's Gene Robinson. The description of Rittenhouse as an "assassin" was just one part of the rank stupidity, and tribal ugliness, these three corporate novelists put on display this day.

QAnon adherents come to us from the realm of The Crazy. Increasingly, overpaid sachems within our own tribe come to us from the deeply degraded lands of The Novelized, The Dumb and The Wrong.

Wallace's instant novel was stupid and ugly this day. So was the pleasing tribal war she worked to extend and enhance.

On Monday, we'll start to review the complex process by which police shooting deaths have been reported since early 2012. In our view, it's one of the most intriguing and consequential journalistic events of the past thirty years.

A lot of our nation's public discourse now comes from the realm of The Crazy. On Thursday night, we saw emanations of The Crazy out on the White House lawn.

Presumably, some of those people will soon follow Cain into the land of the dead. According to leading experts on game theory, they should probably vote by mail as soon as they possibly can.

A lot of our nation's public discourse now comes from the realm of The Crazy. A lot more of our failing discourse has come to us from the realm of The Tribal Novel and, alas, from the realm of The Dumb, The Unfeeling, The Wrong.

Monday: Selective reporting, and more

THINGS FALL APART: Rayshard Brooks fell asleep in his car!


Nicolle Wallace finds her "assassin:"
Yesterday afternoon, we just had to turn it off.

We were watching Deadline White House. Nicolle Wallace and two guests were crafting an instant novel.

In this case, the instant novel concerned Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who shot and killed two people in Kenosha on Tuesday night.

Rittenhouse has been arrested. His case will proceed from there. It will of course involve his right to mount a defense for his actions. For ourselves, we wish his mother had kept him home that night.

This very young person's case will proceed from here. But Wallace and a pair of guests were crafting an instant novel.

The most horrible part of the thing is this—they almost surely believed the various things they said. But their conduct came from so close to the land of The Crazy that we just had to turn the show off.

The Crazy has been on wide display in the past few years. It's on display in the QAnon movement. It's on display in the crazy way Donald J. Trump has reacted to the ongoing pandemic.

Unfortunately, a first cousin to The Crazy was put on display when Wallace, a former Bush hack who our needy tribe has adopted, joined her guests in crafting yesterday's novel.

The story they told was very scary. It was also dumb beyond compare—deeply dumb and all-too-human.

In this morning's New York Times, David Brooks gives a pretty good description of what we saw on yesterday's program. He starts by discussing "mean world syndrome," which he describes in the manner shown:
BROOKS (8/28/20): Trump family values are mean world values. Mean world syndrome was a concept conceived in the 1970s by the communications professor George Gerbner. His idea was that people who see relentless violence on television begin to perceive the world as being more dangerous than it really is.
With that definition of mean world syndrome, Brooks described the overall state of play as our election draws near:
BROOKS: Yes, there have been disgraceful scenes of far left physical and verbal brutality, which get magnified on Twitter. The far bigger threat, however, is that we have a president too busy fighting a culture war to respond to a pandemic and an economic crisis, or even to perform basic governance. What part of 180,000 coronavirus dead does Donald Trump not understand?

The larger threat is that we’re caught in a polarization cascade. Mean world fanatics—on the left and right—are playing a mutually beneficial game.
Trumpian chaos justifies and magnifies the woke mobs on the left. Woke mobs magnify and justify Trumpian authoritarianism on the right.

The upshot of the mean world war is the obliteration of normal politics, the hollowing out of the center and the degradation of public morality. Under the cover of this souped-up, screw-or-be-screwed mentality, norms are eviscerated, truth is massacred, bigotry is justified and politics turns into a struggle to culturally obliterate the other side.
In other words, things fall apart. In our view, things have badly fallen apart even Over Here, within our own self-impressed tribe.

Let's start by answering Brooks' question: "What part of 180,000 coronavirus dead does Donald Trump not understand?"

That question is easily answered. The chances are good that Donald J. Trump understand no part of 180,000 deaths. In our view, the chances are good that Donald J. Trump is some version of a sociopath, though Brooks and Wallace and her two guests have agreed—it's a corporate arrangement—that this obvious possibility must never be discussed.

Donald Trump seems to be deeply disordered. On a psychiatric basis, it may actually be that he possesses nothing resembling a conscience, and no moral feeling at all.

It may be that Trump has no moral capacity. This brings us back to what we saw as Wallace composed her novel.

Back in the day, Wallace used her substantial skills to let Bush conduct his deadly war in Iraq. She helped him get reelected by arranging to have same-sex marriage prohibitions on various state ballots, thus driving conservative turnout.

This is the person our needy party now listens to as our own. Yesterday, she was using her demagogic skills to craft a novel our tribe would like.

Yesterday, watching that show, we saw a bit of the "polarization cascade" to which Brooks refers. We also saw prehuman tribal loathing of others, wherever such others can be found.

Our team is deeply sunk in this mess. We don't see how it ends well. Things have fallen apart Over Here. Our societal failure isn't restricted to The Crazy afflicting the other side.

What we saw yesterday was just ginormously dumb. (In certain respects, it was vile.) When we surrender to tribal war, every ounce of our story-telling must craft The Perfect Tale. The principle here is very simple:

As tribal beings, we need to tell ourselves the stories in which our tribe is perfectly good.

We're going to leave it here for today. In our view, the overview stated by Brooks does make an excellent point. What we saw on our TV machine yesterday was gruesome beyond compare.

What did Jack Brewer (and Trump) actually say?


The essence of partisan warfare:
As you may have noticed, "cable news" has become almost wholly partisan.

This brings us to an amazingly tired old question—what did Donald J. Trump actually say about what happened in Charlottesville?

Before we address that question, we'll establish a more recent point. Here's what former NFL player Jack Brewer actually said last night, at the GOP convention:
BREWER (8/26/20): Are you going to allow the media to lie to you by falsely claiming that he said there are very fine white supremacists in Charlottesville? He didn't say that. It's a lie.
We're disinclined to regulate "lies." But according to Brewer, Donald J. Trump didn't say that there were "very fine white supremacists in Charlottesville."

Thanks to our own moral greatness, you can see the actual words Brewer actually said.

We didn't paraphrase what he said. We showed you what he actually said. Sadly, people on our corporate blue team hate it when people say things like that.

On MSNBC, Rachel, Joy and Nicolle immediately swung into action, seeming to contradict what the "journeyman" player had said. (We were watching live.)

MSNBC no longer transcribes its programs, and it has cut way back on video production. For those reason, we can't show you what these corporate hirelings said, though we'll characterize their comments below.

We can show you what Yamiche Alcindor instantly said.

Alcindor works for the PBS NewsHour, allegedly one of our brightest news orgs. She was at the New York Times before that.

Brewer had made a disallowed claim. Quickly, Alcindor tweeted this attempt at a rebuttal:
ALCINDOR (8/26/20): Jack Brewer, former NFL player, just said it was a lie that President Trump said "very fine people" go to Nazi rallies.

Trump after the events in Charlottesville where Nazis gathered and one killed a protester: "But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides."
That's what Alcindor said. Staff at New York magazine thought it deserved wider airing.

As you can see, Alcindor did a very poor job recording what Brewer had said.

That sort of thing is par for the course. She then provided the standard "blue tribe" clip from Trump's remarks about Charlottesville—the one statement on the subject we're allowed to hear.

(The rules: We aren't told what he seemed to be talking about when he made that statement. We aren't allowed to hear the various other things he said at that same press event.)

Alcindor provided the one line our sachems like to repeat. She didn't repeat the following comment, made in the same press event from which her clip was taken:
TRUMP (8/15/17): I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.
Yes, that's what the commander said when he was asked to clarify his meaning that day. The commander said he wasn't talking about the neo-Nazis or the white nationalists. The commander said the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists "should be condemned totally."

That's what Brewer was talking about last night. In all likelihood, he was also referring to this statement, made at that same press event:
TRUMP: I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.
At that point, Trump was reminding reporters that he had already condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists in an earlier statement about the events in Charlottesville.

At that same August 15 press event, he said this about his earlier (written) statement:
TRUMP: Saturday, we condemned in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.
The commander said that too! (In fairness, he may have been talking about the killing of Heather Heyer at that point.)

At another point, he referred to "neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them," describing them as "rough, bad people." These are the things he said that day, the things you must never hear.

We aren't trying to tell you what was, or is, in Donald J. Trump's heart. Our own basic assumption is that Donald J. Trump is some version of a sociopath, though that's a point that corporate players like Alcindor have agreed they must never discuss.

We aren't telling you what was in his heart; we're simply showing you what he said at the press event from which Alcindor chose to repeat our failing, utterly hapless tribe's one favorite single sentence.

We liberals! We love that sentence with all our hearts. We love the way it makes us feel when we get to repeat it.

It helps define us as the very good people, arrayed against those who are very bad. As with tribal justice warriors dating to the dawn of time, we love the way it makes us feel when we get to define ourselves like that.

It's pathetic and sad that this manifest bullshit is still a point of dispute. The fact that it is helps us see the essence of tribalized warfare, as conducted since the dawn of time among us war-inclined "rational animals."

If we were Alcindor's employer, we'd be embarrassed today. Employers of Rachel, Joy and Nicolle have proven the fact that they're beyond any embarrassment.

(For reasons no one has explained, they stopped transcribing their programs back on July 13. In fairness, if we were producing the type of program they produce, we'd want to make it harder to critique our corporate dreckwork too.

Last night, Joy started by telling the world that Brewer had been a"journeyman" NFL player. In tribal warfare, the other guy must always be denigrated.

The ladies proceeded to recite our tribe's one favorite quote, while disappearing all the clarifications Trump offered at that same event. Might we quote the commander again?
TRUMP (8/15/17): I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.
Yes, that's what he actually said. Compare that, if you will, to Alcindor's pseudo-report.

Our pitiful corporate tribe is badly fallen. They live to pleasure themselves, and to pleasure us.

That said, all our news orgs are corrupted now. It's pathetic that this low-IQ gong-show keeps arising, but it always will.

Final repetition:

We aren't telling you what Trump really believed that day, or what he feels today. We're just telling you what he said on the day in question.

Alcindor and The Cable News Three pretended to do that very same thing. Instead of making a real attempt, they fed you the treat they knew you would like.

This is the work of a failing nation. It's a nation in which things are visibly falling apart.

THINGS FALL APART: "Goodbye, Minnesota," top experts glumly add!


The New York Times reports on the threat:
The accolades have come rolling in, hailing us for our prescience.

Modestly, we always try to brush such comments aside. But what can't be ignored is the front-page report in this morning's New York Times—and it reports what we've been telling you in the past few days.

"Good-bye, Wisconsin," top experts have said! Yesterday, we detailed their reasoning, in which they say that looting, rioting and arson may tip the crucial swing-state of Wisconsin into Trump's camp.

This morning, above the fold on page A1, the New York Times is reporting this very problem. In print editions, the report appears beneath these headlines
G.O.P. Warnings of Chaos Resound in Wisconsin
Fires and Looting Push Some in Swing State Closer to Trump
None of this is hard to imagine, but all those jerk-offs out in the streets are tipping some voters towards Trump. Online, the headlines are perhaps even starker:
How Chaos in Kenosha Is Already Swaying Some Voters in Wisconsin
As residents see fires and looting, some worry that local Democratic leaders are failing to keep control of the situation.
In our view, "arson" is a more precise term that "fires." But in their report, Tavernise and Durston speak to various voters in Kenosha who say the chaos there—and the behavior of the Democratic Party—is "currently nudging them toward" a vote for Donald J. Trump.

This front-page report does not involve any "scientific samples" of Wisconsin voters. In a nod to fairness and balance, the report notes that "the situation in Kenosha remains extremely fluid," with "many people in the city enraged about the police shooting of" Jacob Blake.

That said, the report quotes one Democrat after another voicing describing the way the chaos is tilting them over toward Trump. One voter complained about Sunday's astonishing statements by Goivernor Evers—the ridiculous statements we discussed here on Monday. Another voter cited Evers' second in command:
TAVERNISE AND DURSTON (8/27/20): Scott Haight, who was boarding up a line of businesses in a Kenosha strip mall on Tuesday, said he blamed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, for what he said was irresponsibly stirring up emotion. (On Monday, Mr. Barnes said the shooting “wasn’t an accident.”)

“It’s like ‘What, are you trying to burn our city down?’” Mr. Haight said.

Mr. Haight, 59, said he was a “lifelong Democrat” but had decided not to vote this year.

“It’s not worth it,” he said. “One’s as bad as the other.”
These are anecdotal reports. But anyone with an ounce of sense would understand that the unchecked looting, rioting and arson might tilt many voters that way.

How bad is the chaos in Kenosha? For ourselves, we can't tell you. We will report a cable TV experience we had two weeks back—and we'll link it to the most recent warning we've received from major experts.

Two weeks back, for a full week, Laura Ingraham aired her "cable news" show from Minneapolis. We rarely watch Ingraham, but on two nights that week, we flipped over to her broadcast as her program was ending.

On each occasion, Ingraham was standing before massive rubble which she said was found on that city's Lake Street.

In truth, it looked like she was broadcasting from Dresden shortly after the war. We were amazed by the amount of destruction appearing behind her.

It occurred to us that we had somehow failed to get the full picture of what had happened to that city during its recent rioting. Was it possible that our own tribe's "cable news" stars and our nation's major newspapers had perhaps tended to disappear the extent of the destruction?

To what extent has Minneapolis (and environs) been destroyed by the rioting and the arson? We'll recommend that you consider this extremely detailed report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

How much of the city was destroyed? The Star-Trib starts like this:
PENROD, SINNER AND WEBSTER (7/13/20): In the first few days after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, rioters tore through dense stretches of Minneapolis, St. Paul and other metro communities in retaliation, causing millions in property damage to more than 1,500 locations.

In their wake, vandals left a trail of smashed doors and windows, covered hundreds of boarded-up businesses with graffiti and set fire to nearly 150 buildings, with dozens burned to the ground. Pharmacies, groceries, liquor stores, tobacco shops and cell phone stores were ransacked, losing thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise. Many were looted repeatedly over consecutive nights.

The full extent of damage to Twin Cities buildings—including residences, churches, non-profits and minority-owned businesses—could take weeks or months to calculate. Already on the ropes from months of lost revenue during a global pandemic, some businesses may never reopen as others are still temporarily or indefinitely closed.

Buildings along a 5-mile stretch of Lake Street in Minneapolis and a 3.5-mile stretch of University Avenue in St. Paul's Midway area experienced some of the heaviest damage.
While this is an incomplete list, here’s a look at some of those hardest-hit areas.

For three consecutive nights starting on Wednesday, May 27, rioters pummeled blocks worth of buildings near the Minneapolis’ Third and Fifth police precincts, inflicting heavy damage.

On Thursday night, protesters torched and heavily vandalized the Third Precinct, and destroyed at least 20 nearby buildings, including several restaurants, an Auto Zone, Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits, a U.S. Post Office, a cellphone store and the building that housed Talk Town Diner, El Nuevo Rodeo and others. Midtown Corner, a multi-story affordable housing project that was still under construction, erupted into a towering inferno, burning so hot that it melted siding off a nearby house.

The following night, about three miles west of the Third Precinct, protesters blanketed the area near the Fifth Precinct, heavily damaging at least seven buildings—including a U.S. Post Office, a Wells Fargo branch, a staffing agency and a Subway in a nearby strip mall.
That's just the start of the Star-Tribune report. Apparently, the Dresden on display behind Ingraham was just a small part of the damage.

On the evenings when we flipped over to Ingraham's show, we caught brief glimpses of this massive destruction, which extends through a much wider of the Twin Cities area, according to the Star-Tribune report. We were amazed by the extent of the rubble we saw behind Ingraham on those programs.

We'll leave it to others to investigate the possibility that the Cuomos, the Lemons, the Rachels and the Brians may perhaps have failed to report the extent of this destruction.

One point does strike us as obvious—destruction like this is very likely to tip voters over toward Candidate Trump. Various voters around the country may fail to grasp the extent of the destruction in the Twin Cities. Voters in Minnesota itself are less likely to remain in the dark about what happened there, and about the possible fecklessness of Democratic Party response.

Hillary Clinton barely won Minnesota in 2016. Top major experts are now warning that continued rioting, mixed with pitiful performance by public officials like Evers and Haight, could conceivably tip Wisconsin and Minnesota into the GOP column this year.

For the past few weeks, we've been urging you to watch Tucker Carlson Tonight, though only for the videotape. Last night's program involved more such videotape.

For remarkable tape from Kenosha's Tuesday night chaos, we'll suggest that you click here, then click on these two offerings:
The Daily Caller's Richie McGinniss on chaos in Kenosha, interviewing suspected gunman

Tucker: Lawmakers win when they promise to fix chaos
Remember—you're there for the videotape, not for the interpretations. As part of last night's presentation, you'll see McGinniss attempting to provide first aid to the first person who was shot and killed that night, in the seconds after the shooting.

Worst of all, you'll get to see what Cuomo and Lemon said on CNN in Tuesday night's midnight hour.

Carlson included brief videotape of Cuomo and Lemon. We ourselves marveled at the pair's unvarnished propaganda during last evening's midnight hour, but their performance the previous evening may have been even worse.

These two have become the Daffy and Dilly of robotized "cable news." (What has happened to Cuomo?) During Tuesday evening's midnight hour, they noted the fact that polling is turning against the Democrats when it comes to the rioting and the arson.

According to what they said, the polls are turning against the chaos and the destruction. Pitifully, Lemon said this:
LEMON (8/26/20): I think this is a blind spot for Democrats. I think Democrats are hoping this will go away, and it's not going to go away...

[Biden] has got to address it. He's got to come out and talk about it...He's got to come out and tell people that he's going to deal with the issue of police reform in this country, and that what's happening now is happening on Donald Trump's watch. And when he is the president, Kamala Harris is the vice president, then they will take care of this problem.

But guess what? The rioting has to stop. Chris. As you know and I know, it's showing up in the polling. It's showing up in focus groups. It is the only thing—it is the only thing right now that is sticking.
According to Lewmon, the wholesale destruction has to stop because it's showing up in the polling and in the focus groups.

Maybe he didn't mean it that way. But that's what this corporate clown said.

Carlson aired those comments for his viewers last night. He also aired fresh videotape from Kenosha's chaos.

On MSNBC, the idiots with whom our tribe is saddled are sometimes even worse than Cuomo and Lemon. In the meantime, red tribe voters are being told about our failing tribe's massive dysfunction, and experts say that Donald J. Trump may yet have a chance to win.

Tomorrow: Sources of anger

Best and worst from the GOP!


With lessons from the McCloskeys:
We'd planned to watch the Republican convention this week, but we quickly found it unwatchable.

For that reason, on each of the last two days, we've skimmed the previous evening's events through the magic of On Demand, getting a taste of the offerings.

At the New York Times, a large group of opinion writers have been picking the best and worst moments from each night. Below, we'll post one pundit's "best moment" from last night.

First, though, a widely-cited "worst" from Monday evening:

On Monday, Kimberly Guilfoyle’s "crazed, screaming rant" seemed to be the overall choice for the evening's worst moment. Guilfoyle has been like that forever on Fox, except a bit worse in certain ways, though with the volume turned down.

After Guilfoyle, four or five pundits picked the presentation by the McCloskeys as the evening's worst moment. Wajahat Ali offered this:
My cup runneth over. The terrifying and surreal segment featuring the McCloskey couple from St. Louis was a textbook example of white supremacy. The warning? People of color are going to invade the suburbs. They pointed their guns at peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrators and somehow think they are the victims?
Our advice: Be careful what you regard as worst, unless you don't care who wins.

In our view, press coverage of the McCloskeys has been highly instructive. We've seen exactly zero attempt to report what actually happened on the day when they bore arms outside their extremely expensive St. Louis home.

Did protesters really break through a locked gate? Were the McCloskeys actually threatened? We've seen no attempt to establish even the most basic facts. Instead, the event has been a perfect example of tribal journalism, with cable stars from the two warring tribes describing the McCloskeys' experience is diametrically opposite ways.

For ourselves, we'd have to say this:

The story the McCloskeys tell is neatly reinforced, as propaganda if in no other way, by certain ongoing events from Kenosha and beyond. We don't have the slightest idea what actually happened on the day in question. But the reason why blue team members find their story impossible to swallow is because we're being spared the videotape of people being harassed as they try to eat lunch and showered with threats and verbal abuse as they try to sleep at night in their homes.

Red team members are seeing the videotape of such events on the Fox News Channel. That videotape fits perfectly with the story the McClosekys tell. We liberals don't know this because we're being sheltered from the storm by the money-grubber "cable news" stars on our own tribe's corporate "news channels."

Were the McCloskeys insulted and threatened that day? We have no idea.

Is it possible that they were? If you think the answer is no, you're being sheltered by your favorite TV stars.

That said, what was last night's best moment? Because the proceedings strike us as impossible to watch, we have no idea.

In principle, we liked what Matt LaBash said. This was his choice for best moment from last evening's program:
Whenever in Sin City, I’m typically too liquored-up, or down at blackjack, to visit the International Church of Las Vegas. But after hearing the opening prayer by its pastor, Norma Urrabazo, I might change my itinerary. She prayed for our police officers and those they’ve been in conflict with. She extolled unity, asking for reconciliation with God and each other. She prayed for all Americans, not just Republican ones. These are notes not often sounded nowadays. Here’s hoping Trump wasn’t too busy tweeting insults at “Sleepy Joe” or “MSDNC” to listen.
According to LaBash, Urrabazo prayed for our police, and she prayed for our protesters. As LaBash notes, such impulses are somewhat rare at this point in time.

Judging by traditional norms, crazy behavior is being displayed by people from various warring tribes. That always happens at time of war, which tends to be bad for living things but good for cable news profits.

THINGS FALL APART: "Goodbye, Wisconsin," top experts now say!


Concerned by the fires this time:
Who will win Wisconsin this fall?

We have no way of knowing. Back in 2016, Wisconsin was one of the three states which swung to Candidate Trump by very small margins. This let him win the Electoral College and move on to the White House.

He did so despite losing the nationwide popular vote to Candidate Clinton by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points. Is it possible that some such disaster could occur again?

By most reckonings, Candidate Biden will need to win Wisconsin this fall. But several top experts are now saying that Biden's chances in the state may be fading this week.

"Goodbye, Wisconsin," several of these experts now warn. They refer to the recent shooting in Kenosha, and to its grim aftermath.

More specifically, they refer to the way those events are being presented to the nation's warring red and blue tribes.

For those who belong to our own blue tribe, we will, once again, make a peculiar suggestion. If you want a fuller picture of the events in question, we hope you've been watching the overwrought Fox News Channel program, Tucker Carlson Tonight.

Warning! If you watched this program the last two nights, you had to sit through Carlson's massive sense of grievance. You had to tolerate all sorts of wild, overstated claims, whether from Carlson or from some of his guests. There were some flat misstatements.

That said, there was also an upside. If you were willing to tolerate the less desirable aspects of this program, you were able to see the way events in Kenosha, and beyond, are being presented to the largest audience in cable news.

Also, there was this:

You were able to see the types of videotape, and learn the types of facts, which are generally being withheld from our tribe at the failing tribal news orgs we have long thought we could trust.

In other words, you can actually learn some things if you can just tolerate Carlson! And make no mistake:

According to several major experts, Candidate Biden may be losing Wisconsin this week. According to experts, this involves the types of events our own blue tribe are being shielded from.

What are these experts talking about? Let's start with the Sunday shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer.

The shooting of Jacob Blake:

In yesterday's report,
we reviewed a remarkable set of Sunday night tweets by Wisconsin governor Tony Evers. Even as he noted that "details" of the shooting incident were still unknown, Evers seemed to condemn the action, seeming to say that police conduct had been "merciless" and racially motivated.

Some of those details are now known, but major news orgs of our blue tribe are keeping them under wraps. One such detail was reported by the Associated Press:
ASSOCIATED PRESS (8/25/20): Online court records indicate Kenosha County prosecutors charged Blake on July 6 with sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse. An arrest warrant was issued the following day. The records contain no further details and do not list an attorney for Blake.

It was unclear whether that case had anything to do with the shooting.
Did that warrant play a role in Sunday's shooting incident? We have no way of knowing. But at least one Wisconsin news org has reported that police were attempting to arrest Blake on that warrant when the altercation which led to the shooting began.

Was Blake resisting arrest when the shooting occurred? We can't tell you that either! That said, additional video footage now shows a physical fight between police and Blake before Blake broke away from police and tried to enter his vehicle.

Presumably, this footage increases the likelihood that Blake was violently resisting arrest at the time of the shooting incident.

We don't know if police had attempted to arrest Blake, but the existence of the warrant is a reported fact. And while we're at it, the Associated Press has also reported this:
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The man who said he made the [original] cellphone video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before the gunfire erupted. He said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands.

The governor said he had seen no information to suggest Blake had a knife or other weapon, but that the case is still being investigated by the state Justice Department.
Was a knife involved in this "scuffle?" We have no idea—and sensible people try to do what Governor Evers didn't. Sensible people try to withhold judgment about serious matters like this when so few basic facts are known.

That said, the arrest warrant and the physical fight are now matters of record. Unless you read the news reports in today's New York Times and Washington Post.

These news reports fail to report the existence of the warrant or the videotape of the fight with police, even as they quote pedestrians, bystanders and various local philosophers offering their speculations about what surely must have occurred and who was right and wrong.

Of course, resisting arrest is not a capital crime. If it were, the penalty would be imposed by a court, not by police officers on the scene.

That said, red voters are being told about Blake's fight with police, and about his apparent 2015 arrest for threatening people with a gun. The blue tribe is being encouraged not to hear about such matters—and red voters are being told about this selective reporting.

Rioting, looting, arson, assault:

According to our leading experts, it's the subsequent rioting, looting and arson which are most likely to cost Biden the state of Wisconsin. If you've watched Carlson's program the past two nights, you've seen extensive video footage of this gruesome conduct.

Last night, that included ugly footage of a physical attack on a 71-year-old man attempting to protect his store from arson.
Our own "blue tribe" news orgs have been disinclined to worry our heads about such matters. Experts say that these "protests"—downplayed by liberals, reported by conservatives—have a fair-to-middlin' chance of costing Biden the state.

Other videotaped misconduct:

These experts point to another part of last night's Tucker Carlson program which could cost Biden dearly. They refer to a segment in which Carlson interviewed Matt Walsh about harassment of people in Washington restaurants as they try to eat lunch.

The harassment is conducted by anti-racism warriors, black and white together. By normal societal standards, the conduct is stupid and ugly.

You can watch the segment in question here, though it was beeped and bowdlerized and rather poorly explained. For an unvarnished example of what we're talking about, we'll suggest that you just click this. But also, just click here.

Why did a Kenosha police officer shoot Jacob Blake on Sunday? We can't tell you that.

Was the conduct justified? Did the officer think or know that Blake was armed with a knife?

Was Blake armed with a knife? Was Blake resisting or fleeing from arrest? Did the officer think that Blake was reaching into his car for a weapon?

We can't answer those blindingly obvious questions. We can tell you this:

All reporting of all such incidents is now heavily propagandized. Members of our warring tribes are told and shown vastly different things.

It seems to us that it's our tribe which is often kept in the dark about these matters. But at any rate, the warring tribes are being taken down two different roads.

In our view, intelligent liberals should swallow hard and watch Carlson's program. Remember—you're watching for the videotape, not for the overwrought guff.

Concerning all these events, we can only tell you this:

Traditional systems have fallen apart as such events have been reported in recent years. A great deal more remains to be said about this very large problem.

At any rate, as our systems continue to fail, several major qualified experts are now saying, "Goodbye, Wisconsin." As Kenosha burns to the ground, so perhaps do Candidate Biden's chances—or so these top experts have said.

The propaganda is general within our blue tribe's major "news sources." As these systems fall apart, a famous experiment fails.

Tomorrow: LeBron's (important) concern

Kevin Drum nervous about poll bounce?


The bounce which had to be killed:
We don't know if, on balance, his new post is correct. But Kevin Drum almost sounds nervous:
DRUM (8/25/20): Don’t Worry About Poll Bounces

Just a quick reminder: presidential candidates often get poll bounces after their conventions. Sometimes it’s small, sometimes it’s a little better than that. But in virtually every case, the bounces go away a couple of weeks after both conventions have been held. So don’t get either excited or worried if either Trump or Biden go either up or down by the end of this week. By September it will all be gone.
We aren't sure if post-convention poll bounces even exist any more. It's often said that, in such tribalized times as these, there are so few undecided voters that those famous old bounces no longer exist.

That said, we became nostalgic as we read the highlighted sentence. It made us think of a major post-convention poll bounce—a major bounce which wouldn't die, and therefore had to be killed.

In particular, Brian Williams played a fascinating role in the killing of that bounce. Not that anyone ever cared, but people are dead all over Iraq because the bounce which wouldn't die did, in fact, get killed.

That bounce got killed by the mainstream press. For that reason, you'll see it discussed nowhere else.

What occurs in the press corps stays in the press corps! If only for the sake of nostalgia, remind us to review the history of that major poll bounce some day.

THINGS FALL APART: Governor Evers tweets from script!


Traditional norms fall apart:
Sunday's police shooting incident produced some familiar reactions.

The shooting occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin, late in the afternoon. Wisconsin's governor, Tony Evers, tweeted an instant reaction:
EVERS (8/23/20): Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kathy and I join his family, friends, and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries.
According to Evers, Jacob Blake had been shot in the back in broad daylight, at night. Sometimes, things can go that way when we offer instant reactions.

In fairness, Governor Evers had certain facts right. Blake had, in fact, been shot in the back, as many as seven times.

As of this morning, the actual number still wasn't known. On Sunday night, Evers continued as shown:
EVERS (continuing directly): While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.
In this second tweet in his chain, Governor Evers correctly said that neither he, nor anyone else, "ha[d] all the details yet."

In fact, Evers likely had very few "details" at that point. Presumably, he'd seen the (very short) videotape which shows the actual shooting.

In that second tweet, Evers said that he did know some things for certain. It's at this point that the governor's logic begins to sound rather strange, and norms begin falling apart. Indeed, the part of his tweet shown below can sound completely improper:
"What we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country."
Evers didn't know the details, but he did know who had been grievously wrong. He described the shooting as "merciless"—and as he did, he he made this extremely peculiar remark:
"[Jacob Blake] is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country."
Almost surely, that statement is accurate. Leaving the question of mercy aside, large number of men or persons "have been shot or injured or killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country" in recent years—for example, in the years since the Washington Post began keeping track of such incidents.

At its invaluable but almost wholly ignored Fatal Force site, the Post has recorded shooting deaths at the hands of police officers since the start of 2014—and it's certanly true:

Many men or persons have been shot and killed during those five-plus years. In the state of Wisconsin, the numbers look like this:
People shot and killed by police in Wisconsin, 2014 to present
White: 57
Black: 22
Hispanic: 6
Other race or ethnicity: 6
Quite a few men or persons have been shot and killed by police officers in the state of Wisconsin. Surely, some of those people were shot and killed "me5rcilessly," though Evers only seemed concerned with such events if the victims were men or persons who he deems to be black.

For the record, an even larger number of men or persons have been shot and killed nationwide. Since Evers referred to the national scene, those numbers look like this:
People shot and killed by police in the United States, 2014 to present
White: 2,527
Black: 1,318
Hispanic: 918
Other race or ethnicity: 218
Almost surely, some of those shooting deaths truly were "merciless." But here's where the strangeness comes in:

Judging from his actual words, Evers was concerned with black victims in all fifty states, but not with white or Hispanic victims in his own state of Wisconsin! We only report his statement that way because that's what he actually said.

Nor was Evers done. By now, he was tweeting directly from mandated script. Judged by traditional norms, we'd call his behavior appalling:
EVERS (continuing directly): We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country—lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith.

And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.
Evers named some shooting victims, but he only named those who were black. He then closed this, the fourth tweet in his chain, with an astounding remark:
"We stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites."
Judging from Evers' remarkable statement, excessive use of force is OK when dealing with whites or Hispanics! We say this only because that's what the governor said.

Let's be clear. If you asked Evers the following question, his answer would likely be no:
Is it OK for a police officer to use excessive force against someone who's white or Hispanic?
We assume that he would say no. But when he sat and typed his storm, the mewling governor of the failing state of Wisconsin was typing directly from currently mandated script.

Working through those ugly tweets, one thinks of the famous remarks addressed to Wisconsin's Joseph McCarthy:
Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
We'll amend the words to suit this case:

At long last, has Evers no sense of responsibility? Or is he a pool boy to script?

There was a time, not long ago, when no one ever would have produced such a strange series of comments. In this case, Governor Evers was working from mandated script.

Evers knew what he had to type—and traditional norms crashed down, fell apart. Is there some imaginable way that conduct like this ends well?

Tomorrow: Three tries by the Washington Post

“You’re no better than anybody else!"


And yes, that includes the others:
We recommend Gene Lyons' recent column about Candidate Biden.

We've known Gene for many years now, though mostly by phone and by email. In his column, Gene says that Biden reminds him of his Irish-Catholic father, who "had been a first sergeant in the U.S. Army and played ball around North Jersey with guys of every ethnicity."

His father gained from those experiences, Lyons says. He ascribes a slogan to his father—a watchword Biden has often ascribed to his own working-class parents:
LYONS (8/20/20): Doing those things had done much to ameliorate the clannishness that’s a besetting Irish vice on both sides of the Atlantic. A man of strong opinions, my father had a personal slogan he’d often repeat. He came by it honestly, a bedrock statement of Irish American patriotism as he saw it. “You’re no better than anybody else,” he’d tell me. “And nobody’s better than you.”
Was that a standard working-class Irish Catholic watchword? We have no idea.

Lyons discusses the way this basic idea may have emerged from Irish and Irish-American history. He then quotes Biden in Pennsylvania, last year. Again, Lyons starts with his own father:
LYONS: It’s possible that Ronald Reagan seduced him late in life, but I can’t be sure. It wasn’t anything we talked about. But his fundamental outlook never changed.

And I suspect that for all Biden’s personal ambition
—no modest, unassuming person ever runs for the U.S. Senate, much less the presidency—he carries it, too. That’s what Biden means when he tells crowds, as he did last year campaigning for a Democratic congressional candidate in Pittsburgh: “I don’t know all of you personally, but I know you...I know this state. I know this region. I know what it’s made up of. I know the values that underpin all of what you believe in—family, community, again, not leaving anybody behind.”
In fact, a lot of people have been "left behind" in American history, in a wide array of ways. As Lyons explains in his column, Irish Americans were once routinely "left behind."

This leaves us with the saying of Lyons' father, and of Biden's parents. That saying begins with this clause:

"You're no better than anybody else."

You're no better than anybody else? No saying could more fully contradict the prevailing attitude within our own liberal / progressive tribe.

Are we really no better than "cops?" Are we really supposed to think that we're no better than Trump voters?

Are we no better than the people who believe all that QAnon lunacy—all those jaw-dropping claims from the realm of The Crazy? Are we really supposed to say that we're "no better than" them?

In our view, the ancient, deeply wise answer is yes. That said:

Our tribe has been extremely self-impressed for a very long time. In large part, this has always been a sneering artifact of class.

We've been this way for a very long time; it isn't a very good look. But it's very much the way we are, and it's not very likely to change.

We're no better than anyone else? In our view, yes—that does include the others, even the Trump-voter crowd.

In fact, our team has looked down on "people like that" dating a long way back. We think the attitude is dumb and self-defeating. We'd call it an unhealthy look.

Tomorrow: Perhaps, an ancient example

THINGS FALL APART: The census is struggling and votes won't count!


Also, the governor's tweets:
Our American systems have been failing—falling apart—for a long time now.

Our postal service is perhaps being dismantled—and under the stresses of the pandemic, the operations of other systems just keep getting worse. Consider a pair of front-page reports from this morning's newspapers.

On the front page of the New York Times, we read about the problems which are now afflicting the census. In print editions, the report appeared beneath this headline'
Census Facing Severe Doubts Over Accuracy
The report on the census is gloomy. Political motives are surely involving, and the fact of the pandemic makes matters that much worse.

On the front page of the Washington Post, we read about another challenged system. In print editions, this triple headline appeared:
Rejection rate for mail ballots could make big impact
Voter rights, accurate results may be on the line this fall
The report concerns the complications arising from the move to expanded vote-by-mail—and changes in the postal system aren't the only problem.

According to the Post report, many voters have trouble following required procedures for casting votes by mail. Then too, there's the apparent absurdity of thinking that election officials can determine if a signature on a mailed ballot matches the signature on file for that voter.

Ballots can be invalidated in various ways. How many votes could end up going uncounted?

According to the Post, the answer could be "a lot." In our view, this was the most significant part of the Post's detailed report:
VIEBECK (8/24/20): Democratic lawyers and election officials in more than three dozen states are now pushing to limit the reasons a ballot can be rejected, which studies have found tend to disproportionately invalidate ballots from younger voters and voters of color. Recent mail backlogs at the U.S. Postal Service have put additional weight.
Younger voters and voters of color are most likely to have votes by mail invalidated—and those groups primarily vote Democratic. When we hear that Biden's ahead by six points in several key states, we wonder how many Democrats will forget to sign their ballot, or will break regulations in some other way, or will fail to request a ballot in time, or may not be living at the address to which a ballot is mailed.

Previously, our election system was falling apart because of eight-hour lines at polling places on election day. Now, under the stress of the pandemic, our election system is finding news ways to fall apart.

In some jurisdictions, of course, those long lines were a reflection of intentional attempts at voter suppression. Intentional monkey-wrench politics may also be involved as the census falls apart and as a large increase in vote-by-mail produces a new set of breakdowns.

We can't deliver the mail on time. We can't get an accurate census count. This November, a million votes, or more, may end up going uncounted.

Meanwhile, our journalistic system fell apart long ago, succumbing to various stresses and forced which largely go unreported and undiscussed. And of course, as all these things fall apart, we have our nation's rise in tribe.

World history largely turns on the rise and fall of tribe. We recall the great historical leaders who were able to "unite the tribes." Our endless wars have endlessly come as the tribes have split back apart.

In our failing nation, the rise in tribe has been extreme. Indeed, the rise in tribe is a major big business now. It's hard to see where the downward spiral into tribe will end.

On the one hand, the rise in tribe has given us a large bloc of confirmed Trump voters, many of whom are apparently able to believe The Crazy. More broadly, the rise in tribe has encouraged members of various tribes to beuild their understanding around devotion to beliefs and claims which can merely be called The Wrong.

Within the lats day, the rise in tribe has given us a peculiar set of tweets from Tony Evers, the governor of Wisconsin. We'd say his tweets were written from script. Angry members of other tribes are saying his tweets were just Wrong.

We'll look at Evers' tweets tomorrow. The rise in tribe and things falling apart proceed apace, hand in hand.

Tomorrow: Those tweets struck us as peculiar

The Washington Post describes QAnon...


..and The Crazy disappears:
We'd planned to discuss a few moments from this past week's convention.

As it turns out, we really can't have nice things! But we'll leave two moments in.

First, regarding Joe Biden's convention speech:

We don't think we've ever seen a political speech where it seemed so clear that the speaker actually meant and believed what he was saying.

You can, of course, give a lousy speech in which you mean and believe every word. That wasn't our view of Biden's speech. More on that below.

Second, regarding the Night 4 appearance by Stephen and Alyesha Curry and their daughters, Riley Curry, just turned 8, and Ryan Curry, just turned 5:

Found poetry should be recorded. That's how we'd describe this exchange:
STEPHEN CURRY (8/20/20): Do you know where the president lives?

RYAN CURRY, age 5: In the White House?

RILEY CURRY, age 8: Washington, D.C.

STEPHEN CURRY: Do you know what the president’s job is?

RYAN CURRY: To tell what happened to the world?

STEPHEN CURRY: That’s good. That’s a good one.
To tell what happened to the world! Below, we'll speculate about the reason why the Currys were there.

Biden seemed to believe every word he said; the Currys produced found poetry. This morning, though, the Washington Post began to play a bit of catch-up concerning the QAnon movement.

The New York Times published front-page reports about QAon in its Thursday and Friday print editions. Today, the Post countered with a full-length report. It appeared atop page A8, beneath this banner headline:
Trump welcomes fringe views into political mainstream
A sub-headline referred to the "baseless QAnon theory." That's where the problem comes in.

The banner headline reported that Trump has opened the door to fringe views. But what exactly are those fringe views? Incredibly, this was all the Washington Post was wiling to tell its readers:
OLORUNNIPA AND STANLEY-BECKER (8/22/20): Just as investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia were heating up in the fall of 2017, QAnon took root on Internet message boards with posts from a self-proclaimed government insider identified as “Q.” The pseudonymous figure posted cryptic clues about Trump’s impending conquest over the “deep state,” spawning an elaborate far-right worldview that came to absorb many other debunked ideas.

Experts said Trump’s embrace of QAnon supporters, whose core principle is their fealty to him, is the logical conclusion of a political movement powered from the beginning by conspiracy theories.
That was it! According to this morning's report, QAnon adherents believe in "Trump’s impending conquest over the 'deep state,' " pretty much full stop.

Readers were told that this movement's "baseless" and "unfounded" beliefs have developed into "an elaborate far-right worldview that came to absorb many other debunked ideas." But at no point are readers told what those "debunked ideas" actually are.

The Satanic pedophiles didn't appear. Neither did the cannibalism, or the drinking of blood by people like Tom Hanks—and of course, by people like Hillary Clinton.

In today's report, we're told that the movement's "baseless" ideas have been "debunked." We aren't told that the movement's beliefs are stone-cold crazy, or that, by normal reckoning, QAnon adherents seem to be out of their minds.

In opinion and analysis formats, the Post does seem willing to let readers know what QAnon involves. But this is the Post's second attempt to describe the movement in a full-scale news report, and the Post has sanitized the movement's beliefs in this same way each time.

It's as we told you earlier this week. The fact that so many voters drink from the well of The Crazy is powerfully counterintuitive. For various reasons, our journalists will be inclined to shy away from this startling fact.

The very foundations of democratic theory are called into question by the crazy beliefs of the many QAnon adherents. In our view, journalists badly need to explore this matter—but, for various reasons, journalists will be inclined to duck this task.

Back to Candidate Biden's speech—but first, let's return to the Currys.

Why were the Currys featured on Thursday night's program? Why was a charming discussion between parents and daughters part of the final-night program?

For viewers of the Thursday program, that was largely left as a mystery. Indeed, the Curry weren't even introduced in any way. We spoke with a woman friend who had no idea who the Currys are, let alone why they were included late in Thursday's program.

We assume the answer to that question is related to something Candidate Biden said in the speech he very much seemed to believe. At one point, the candidate said this:
BIDEN (8/20/20): Here and now, I give you my word. If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness. It’s time for us, for we the people, to come together. And make no mistake:

United, we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America. We’ll choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.

I’m a proud Democrat and I’ll be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. So with great honor and humility, I accept this nomination for President of the United States of America.

But while I’ll be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I’ll work hard for those who didn’t support me, as hard for them as I did for those who did vote for me. That’s the job of a president, to represent all of us, not just our base or our party.

This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.
Someone with the calls for hope and light and love, hope for our future, light to see our way forward and love for one another.
Biden said he will be an American president. In a time of massive tribal loathing, we think that's a very important statement. You simply can't run a continental nation—you can't continue to have a nation—if citizens divide into identity groups determined to loathe each other.

It's our best guess that this is why the Currys were featured on Thursday's program—and quite late in the program at that. (They appeared right after the Biden granddaughters.) To wit:

Stephen Curry is an extremely popular NBA superstar, but he and wife and are also Christians. (She's a celebrity chef.) They met in a church group when they were high school students in Charlotte.

(Stephen Curry was attending the Charlotte Christian School. Before that, he had attended the Christian Montessori School of Lake Norman, which his mother founded and runs.)

The wonderful segment with the Currys was chyroned thusly: "Keeping the Faith w/ The Currys." We'll guess that this was originally envisioned as an example of the Democratic Party's big cultural tent, but that somebody lost their nerve or their focus at some point along the way.

We say that because, as the segment was presented, there was little attempt to explain the reason for its inclusion. The Currys weren't introduced, nor was the purpose of the segment explained.

For ourselves, we don't have any religious or cosmological views, but we're perfectly glad that others do. We've made our peace with the fact that no one else will ever be quite as perfect as we are.

We're especially glad when we see religious belief issue in the kinds of behavior put on display during Thursday night's segment with the Currys. During that segment, the world saw children interacting with their parents in a very constructive way. This produced a bit of poetry from a young, developing mind.

Our own progressive world is increasingly intolerant of the others. In a sprawling continental nation, that can be an excellent way to lose elections, as we've proven in the past.

By normal reckoning, QAnon's many adherents seem to be out of their minds. That said, our own team isn't always much to write home about. In our view, it's generally a good idea to keep that fact in mind.

We had one other point to make, a point about something you didn't see during the convention. You didn't see or hear a lot about the problems confronting kids from less advantaged backgrounds.

As we've told you in the past, no one cares about any such kids, and no one wants to discuss them. Before we start to loathe the others, we should try to keep our own tribe's massive indifference in mind.

THE CRAZY AND THE WRONG: "The American people are pretty sharp!"


What happens if we aren't?:
"The American people are pretty sharp!"

It's long been a standard line for pundits and pols alike. It's an obvious, low-cost way of flattering us, the people.

That notion also lies at the heart of the whole democratic idea:

Yeoman fathers—and auto mechanics—will employ their good, sound common sense in the course of making the nation's decisions. Some such notion lies at the heart of democratic theory.

That said, what if we actually aren't pretty sharp? What if we the people are strongly inclined to fall in line with, to truly believe, The Crazy and The Wrong?

Are we really all that sharp? Consider a recent news report in the New York Times.

The piece appeared in print editions on Saturday, August 15. It was written by Davey Alba, "a technology reporter covering disinformation."

Four days earlier, Candidate Biden had announced that Kamala Harris would be his running-mate. "Since then, false and misleading information about Ms. Harris has spiked online and on TV," Alba wrote—and she offered three major examples.

Sometimes, false claims are simply wrong. They could have been true, but they aren't.

Sometimes, though, false information comes from the land of The Crazy. The fact that millions of people may believe such lunatic claims is the problem we're discussing today.

Below, you see one of the crackpot claims about Harris on which Alba reported:
ALBA (8/15/20): The ‘PizzaGate’ Conspiracy Theory

On Wednesday, a day after Mr. Biden announced his selection, the falsehood that Ms. Harris is connected to a child-trafficking conspiracy known as PizzaGate was published on the conspiracy-mongering website Infowars, which set off a round of sharing on social media.

PizzaGate hinges on the baseless notion that Hillary Clinton and Democratic elites ran a child sex-trafficking ring through a Washington pizza restaurant. According to the rumors about Ms. Harris, she is tied to the conspiracy because her sister was invited by John Podesta, Ms. Clinton’s presidential campaign manager, to a “Hillary pizza party” in 2016.


On Facebook, users in dozens of QAnon groups and pages posted about the rumor. The falsehood reached up to 624,000 people, according to The Times’s analysis. On Instagram, which Facebook owns, 77 more posts tried to spread the lie further.

And on YouTube, a QAnon channel with over 100,000 followers pushed the conspiracy, too. “Remember, we know what pizza was code language for,” Daniel Lee, a YouTube personality popular in conspiracy circles, told his audience. The video was viewed 30,000 times.
For the record, what was "pizza" said to be code language for? You may not want to ask.

("References in the emails to 'pizza' and 'pasta' were interpreted as code words for 'girls' and 'little boys.' ”)

In our view, Alba's journalistic constructions could be criticized. In essence, she referred to the lunatic PizzaGate allegations as a "baseless" "falsehood." It seems to us that language like that fails to capture the actual nature of the actual problem.

At any rate, Alba didn't pretend to know how many people believed these crazy new claims about Harris. That said, recent reporting about QAnon keeps suggesting that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people believe the crazy claims which lie at the heart of the "theory."

Nor was this the only crazy claim floating around about Harris. To her credit, Alba tried to nip this in the bud too:
ALBA: Jussie Smollett

One of the most convoluted lies that has spread on social media involves the actor Jussie Smollett and the baseless allegation that Ms. Harris is his aunt
and knew in advance that Mr. Smollett was planning to stage an assault against himself early last year.

According to the unsubstantiated narrative, when the Chicago Police Department and the F.B.I. investigated the alleged assault, Ms. Harris appeared in Mr. Smollett’s phone records, so she must have been in on the hoax.

The right-wing website True Pundit published an article pushing this argument in November. The article gained new prominence on social media this week, shared nearly 2,000 times on Twitter and reaching 180,000 people, according to CrowdTangle, a tool to analyze interactions across social networks.

A February 2019 article on concluded that there was no relation between Ms. Harris and Mr. Smollett, and that evidence of her role in the hoax was nonexistent.
In fairness, Harris could have been Smollett's aunt. In that sense, this second claim may come from the land of The Astoundingly Stupid, not from the land of The Crazy.

Harris could have been Smollett's aunt. Could she have "been in on the hoax?" At this point, we're once again inching our way toward the realm of The Crazy.

Here too, it seems to us that Alba, and the New York Times, haven't quite established their point of view toward such ludicrous stories. Alba refers to this idiocy as a "lie," but also as "unsubstantiated." As we noted yesterday, our journalists are struggling to call a spade a spade when they deal with lunacy of this remarkably widespread type.

Today, the Times does somewhat better. The paper presents another front-page report about QAnon, its third such report in as many days. Today's report starts like this:
ROSENBERG AND HABERMAN (8/21/20): Late last month, as the Texas Republican Party was shifting into campaign mode, it unveiled a new slogan, lifting a rallying cry straight from a once-unthinkable source: the internet-driven conspiracy theory known as QAnon.

The new catchphrase, “We Are the Storm,” is an unsubtle cue to a group that the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorist threat. It is instantly recognizable among QAnon adherents, signaling what they claim is a coming conflagration between President Trump and what they allege, falsely, is a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile Democrats who seek to dominate America and the world.
Is President Trump poised to confront "a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile Democrats who seek to dominate America and the world?"

That isn't the question we're asking. The question we're asking is this:

Does it make sense to describe something that crazy as "false?"

As they continue, today's writers do a bit better. They quote a Texas Republican official referring to such claims as "crazy."

"The lunatics are truly running the asylum," this Republican official says. A bit later, the writers themselves describe QAnon's various crazy beliefs as "untethered from reality." Their locution is perhaps a bit clumsy, but it does convey an idea.

Our journalists still seem reluctant to call a spade a spade in this crackpot area. As a group, they have refused to discuss the possibility that Donald J. Trump may be mentally ill in some way. They don't seem eager to speak directly about us the people either.

Our journalists need to be braver. That said, the larger problem lies in the fact that so many people are crazy enough to believe these crazy claims at all.

The foundations of democratic theory are called into question here. Ideally, our journalists would confront this fact more directly. In reality, they never will.

You see, even as millions work from The Crazy, the rest of us tend to work from The Wrong. We'll discuss that state of affairs in much greater detail next week. But in closing today, let's discuss the role of The Crazy in our politics over the past many years.

Back in the day, the Clintons were accused of multiple murders. The extremely pious Reverend Falwell pushed this claim extremely hard. We were listening to Rush Limbaugh on the day when he fingered first lady Hillary Clinton in the death of Vince Foster.

(Yes, the fact that this went on helps explain how Donald J. Trump reached The Oval.)

Many people were dumb or crazy enough to believe those murder claims. In the face of those poisonous claims, our journalists cowered and hid.

Later, mainstream journalists took the lead in inventing two years worth of crazy tales about the many lies of Candidate Gore. People are dead all over Iraq because they invented that tale.

Later, remarkable percentages of voters told an array of pollsters that they didn't believe that Barack Obama had been born in the United States For four years, our current president played a lead role in spreading that crackpot claim around. When his leading enabler moved from Fox to MSNBC, Rachel Maddow praised her work to the skies and revealed that she had been Rachel's drinking buddy during those birther-rich years.

Over There, in pro-Trump tents, many beliefs seem to be coming from the realm of The Crazy. Democratic theory lies in ruins if so many citizen-voters are able to believe so many crazy things.

That said, our press corps has played a large role in the rise of Crazy Belief over these many long years. And while we liberals like to bash the others for their love affair with The Crazy, our own tribal beliefs have routinely been born in the land of The Wrong.

Large chunks of their tribe are sunk in The Crazy, but we're deeply sunk in The Wrong. What can we possibly mean by that?
Next week, we'll start to explain.

The American people are pretty sharp? For decades, it''s been a rallying cry from pundits and pols alike.

The American people are pretty sharp! But what happens to our politics, and to our culture, if it turns out that we aren't?

Members of our team, in thrall to The Wrong!


Anthropology lessons abound:
Conor Friedersdorf is one of the most constructive writers available on the web.

His most recent essay at The Atlantic is a fount of anthropology lessons. Experts have told us these things:

The essay, and the accompanying videotape, illustrate some basic facts about the way our species' brains are wired. In particular, these scholars say, the essay—and the videotape—help us understand these facts:
Expert-sanctioned facts:
We humans were never "the rational animal." In reality, we've always been the war-inclined, tribal animal, or so these experts insist.

Given the way our brains are wired, we're strongly inclined to divide into tribal groups. We're strongly inclined to invent "others"—to see certain others as morally vile, and to loathe and revile them.
So these highly credentialed experts have said. To their views, we'll add one more:

Members of the other tribe are currently swooning for QAnon. To see members of our own tribe strongly flirting with The Crazy, be sure to click the link at the start of the Friedersdorf piece.

(For those who lack access to The Atlantic, we'll offer the link below.)

At present, the other tribe is increasingly invested in concepts of satanic pedophilia and cannibalism. Members of our own remarkably under-skilled tribe are taking the fall in thrall to some different concepts and ideas. Increasingly, these are the only concepts and ideas we bring to our view of the world.

One last point was offered by the experts with whom we consult:

We humans have always behaved in the ways you'll see on that videotape. The traditional solution has always been war, or so these despondent experts have told us.

Your link to the videotape: Friedersdorf links to the videotape of a community education council meeting in a public school district in Manhattan.

In theory, the council is trying to decide (what else?) whether the district should have some middle schools which require admission tests. Friedersdorf's article starts like this:
FRIEDERSDORF (8/20/20): The viral youtube video was cued to begin at 42:23, the moment most likely to elicit incredulity. A webcam was tight on the face of Robin Broshi, a middle-aged white woman. She was upset. The edge in her voice sought to explain, to emphasize, to insist, that a wrong had been done.

“It hurts people,” she said, “when they see a white man bouncing a brown baby on their lap and they don’t know the context!”

Wait. What?

“That is harmful!” she continued. “That makes people cry! It makes people log out of our meetings.” The video’s description mentions the “NYC Community Education Council for Manhattan District 2,” which serves more than 60,000 students spread across 121 schools.
How well are those 60,000 studnets being served? We hope you're able to read the whole article. But to see the conduct described in that passage, you can just click this.

We hope you're able to read the whole thing. But our own amazingly self-impressed tribe is also increasingly sunk in The Crazy, or possibly just in The Wrong.

We (suddenly) care about several things. We seem to care about, and understand, exactly nothing else.

Our identity comes from how deeply we care. Traditionally, top experts say, such impulses led to war.

THE CRAZY AND THE WRONG: Trump is questioned about The Crazy!


"Lack of evidence" decried by the Times:
Once in a while, you just have to laugh.

So it went this very morning when we read the New York Times' front-page report about Donald J. Trump's new remarks.

The unflappable commander-in-chief started yesterday's press event with the usual lunatic claims about how well the United States has done combating the spread of the virus.

The commander repeated recent claims about the massive outbreaks which have occurred in New Zealand and South Korea. For one limited look at the data, you might consider this:
Deaths from covid-19 in past seven days,
as of August 20:

United States: 7,150
South Korea: 2
New Zealand: 0
We haven't adjusted for population. Do you feel we need to?

(For the record, South Korea's population is about one-sixth as large as ours. When judged by the standards of carnage in TrumpLand, that nation's recent small rise in confirmed cases is very much under control.)

So goes the commander's daily flight from sanity's bounds. Yesterday, the amusement began when he fielded the day's first question:
REPORTER (8/19/20): During the pandemic, the QAnon movement appears to be gaining a lot of followers. Can you talk about what you think about that and what you have to say to people who are following this movement right now?
That was a flaccid, unfocused question, perfect for filibuster. Donald Trump started to speak:

"Well, I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate," the commander said. "But I don’t know much about the movement," the commander said again.

He went on to say that the QAnon crowd is upset by the violence in Seattle and Portland, and by the fact that "the Democrats can't run a city." Or at least, he said that's what he has heard about the movement's members.

The commander said he didn't know much about the movement. But then, dear God—a follow-up question! This exchange occurred:
REPORTER: The crux of the theory is this belief that you are secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Does that sound like something you are behind or—

TRUMP: Well, I haven’t heard that. But is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? I mean, if I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there...
Would it really be a bad thing if the commander secretly saved the world from a satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals? Trump filibustered on from there, then called on a different reporter.

No reporter returned to this topic as the questions continued. Our press corps is dedicated to one proposition:

They wouldn't follow through on a question if their grandmothers' lives were at stake.

At any rate, the commander had gone on the record with his second statement. He's willing to save the world from a "satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals" if he can possibly do it.

More generally, the commander is willing to "save the world from problems." If some such satanic cult is one of the "problems" in question, he'll be happy to do what he can.

Alas! No one asked the commander in chief if he thinks that actually is one of the world's many "problems." In this morning's New York Times, Katie Rogers describes the QAnon movement's beliefs in a bit more detail, while possibly seeming to misstate what Trump was actually told at yesterday's press event:
ROGERS (8/20/20): When told by a reporter about the central premise of the QAnon theory—a belief that Mr. Trump is saving the world from a satanic cult made up of pedophiles and cannibals connected to Democratic Party figures, so-called deep-state actors and Hollywood celebrities—Mr. Trump did not question the validity of the movement or the truth of those claims.
In fact, the reporter at yesterday's press event didn't mention the part of the "theory" in which the pedophiles and cannibals "are connected to Democratic Party figures" and even to Hollywood stars.

No one asked Donald J. Trump if he thinks that part of the theory makes sense. After the commander filibustered and finessed yesterday's first two questions, no one else returned to the topic at all.

What does the commander in chief think about QAnon? Thanks to yesterday's scattershot "questioning," no information emerged.

Meanwhile, the Times seems to be ramping up its coverage of this deeply strange and revealing movement. But we had to chuckle at some of the ways the topic was handled this morning.

Again, let's get clear on what this movement's adherents seem to believe. According to a wealth of reporting, adherents believe that Donald J. Trump was secretly selected to defeat a worldwide cabal of pedophiles and cannibals.

This worldwide satanic cabal includes some well-known figures. This morning, Rogers says this:
ROGERS: QAnon is a larger and many-tentacled version of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex-trafficking ring out of the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. In December 2016, a man who said he was on the hunt for proof of child abuse was arrested after firing a rifle inside the restaurant.

QAnon supporters often flood social media pages with memes and YouTube videos that target well-known figures—like Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and the actor Tom Hanks—with unfounded claims about their links to child abuse. Lately, activists have used anti-child-trafficking hashtags as a recruitment tool.
Both Clintons seem to be part of the satanic cabal—and also, even Tom Hanks! Like others before her, Rogers links QAnon to the earlier Pizzagate lunacy, in which crazy people believed that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex-trafficking ring out of the basement of a Washington pizza joint.

By normal reckoning, you had to be crazy to believe something like that. By normal reckoning, you have to be even crazier to believe the much wider current "theory," which holds that the commander was secretly recruited by shadowy figures to bring a much larger worldwide conspiracy to a halt.

By normal reckoning, you have to be something resembling insane to believe such crazy claims. And as we told you yesterday, the press corps has had, and will continue to have, a very hard time coming to terms with that deeply strange fact.

We almost had to laugh at times as we read Rogers' report. There's little journalistic precedent for reporting the fact that large numbers of citizens seem to be stone-cold crazy. For that reason, Rogers had to introduce a strange word, "falsely," into the passage we've just just posted.

Did people "falsely" claim that Hillary Clinton was trafficking children out of that pizza joint? We laughed at that word so we wouldn't cry. As we continued, we came upon this:
ROGERS (continuing directly): “It’s not just a conspiracy theory, this is a domestic extremist movement,” said Travis View, a host of “QAnon Anonymous,” a podcast that seeks to explain the movement. Mr. View said that Twitter and Facebook pages exploded with comments from gleeful followers after Mr. Trump’s comments.

Mr. View pointed out that the president answered the question by supporting the central premise of the QAnon theory—that he is battling a cabal of left-wing pedophiles—rather than addressing the lack of evidence behind the movement.
We don't know why View would say that the commander "supported the central premise of the theory" in what he said yesterday. There too, we'd say that Rogers may have been embellishing what actually was said.

That said, we had to chuckle at Rogers' formulation, in which View called attention to "the lack of evidence" in support of the theory:

Really? There's "a lack of evidence" behind the claim that Trump is battling a worldwide satanic cabal of pedophiles and cannibals which includes Tom Hanks? You almost have to chuckle when you see such formulations—or when you read something like this:
ROGERS: “I’m not surprised at all by [the commander's] reaction, and I don’t think QAnon conspirators are surprised either. It’s terrifying,” Vanessa Bouché, an associate professor of political science at Texas Christian University, said in an interview. “In a democratic society, we make decisions based on information. And "if people are believing these lies, then we’re in a very dangerous position.”
We agree on one basic point--it ought to be deeply disturbing to learn that millions of people seem to believe the crackpot tenets of this lunatic "movement."

But was it really a "lie" when people said that Hilary Clinton was running that sex ring out of that pizza joint? It's true that people believe lies all the time. But is that what that lunacy was?

The mainstream press has uniformly refused to discuss the commander's possible mental illness. The mainstream press is also poorly equipped for the task of discussing a matter like this.

When so many people can believe such lunatic claims, the very foundations of democratic theory are instantly called into question. That said, our highly unimpressive press corps doesn't have the skills, or the nerve, to discuss a moment like this.

Rogers did make one instant move designed to make this matter more edible. In paragraph 9, she quotes a think tank research director linking QAnon to classic anti-Semitism. When HRC was running that sex ring out of that pizza joint, was that anti-Semitism too?

At present, our mainstream culture uses two basic tools in explaining the world—racism and sexism. Anti-Semitism is a part of this limited tool kit.

For all we know, there may be elements of classic anti-Semitism mixed in QAnon's crazy brew. That said, anti-Semitism has long been a global manifestation of something resembling mental illness.

Embarrassingly and disturbingly, the QAnon movement simply reeks of The Crazy. But as crazy ideas become widely held, the Times will be inclined to view these crazy ideas as "falsehoods" or "lies," even as claims which "lack evidence."

Is Tom Hanks part of a worldwide cabal of pedophiles and cannibals who drink the blood of their victims?

There's a "lack of evidence" in support of that "theory," the New York Times now explains.

Tomorrow: Lunatic claims about Harris, plus pathways to The Wrong