FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2021
...only Jon Tester demurred: A thissite, we're never happier than on a morning like this.
On such mornings, the front page of the New York Times helps us see the way we're inclined to reason here in the streets of Our Town.
This morning, the New York Times is at it again! In print editions, the front-page headline says this:
A Program Inspires Ivy League Dreams in Disadvantaged Teens
There they go again! It's something we've noted many times, always at the direction of experts:
This is the only way the New York Times thinks about the lives and the interests of the millions of good, decent kids who attend our low-income schools.
The New York Times is able to care about one narrow slice of those kids. It's able to care about the highest achievers, the ones who may end up at Stuyvesant High, possibly even at Yale.
The New York Times dreams those "Ivy League Dreams;" it thinks about nothing else. This orientation surfaced again in this January 30 news report, which we haven't yet discussed in any detail.
Posturing drove the Times headlines that day. On-line, the headlines say this:
New York Schools Are Segregated. Will the Next Mayor Change That?
By deferring decisions on desegregating schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio has pushed those choices onto his successor—and into the race to replace him.
Are Gotham's public schools "segregated?" In a performative sense, you can always say they are—and how the Times loves to say it!
The Times rarely gets around to explaining how you can "desegregate" a massive school system in which only 14 percent of the students are white. (Presumably, that percentage will drop by several points if certain "desegregation" plans are adopted.)
Instead, the Times sets off on its standard quest. It dreams of extending those Ivy League Dreams by eliminating admission requirements for the city's selective middle schools and for its nine "specialized" high schools.
The Times explains that Ivy League Dreams will be served in this manner. The paper never gets around to explaining how the city should confront the giant achievement gaps which exist (on average) between the city's different demographic groups.
It never explains how the city's schools might better serve its hundreds of thousands of academically average or below-average kids—kids who will never be going to Stuyvesant High, and not even to Yale.
Indeed, the paper never even reports the existence of those giant gaps. Doing so would be embarrassing. It would also raise the world's most obvious questions—but most importantly, reporting the very large size of the gaps would undermine the highly performative pose.
At present, we know of no aspect of upper-end journalism which is more noxious or more heinous than the way the New York Times peddles these Ivy League Dreams.
We know of no journalism which is so dumb. Beyond that, it's appalling to see the way the Times slimes high-achieving Asian-American kids and, of course, their parents.
For those citizen of Our Town who don't understand why Others may hate us, we'd recommend that you focus on this particular topic. You can then proceed to the other million ways we invite The Others to loathe us.
On Saturday last, we observed one saddening aspect of Our Town's failing culture. We observed it shortly after we watched Mitch McConnell's speech.
Lawrence O'Donnell has said he was "absolutely stunned" by McConnell's speech. We can't say that we were stunned, but we certainly did sit up and take a great deal of notice.
As you may know, McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican in the whole federal government. In his speech to the Senate, this highest-ranking Republican official savaged a certain former commander, the one named Donald J. Trump.
McConnell agreed with every factual claim Our Town had made in our attempt to "convict" the former commander in last week's Senate "trial." The commander was fully responsible for the January 6 riot, the silver-tongued orator said!
The former commander had peddled a series of "increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen," the leading Republican said. The commander had emitted a "growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole" about that election, McConnell remarkably said.
The federal government's leading Republican didn't stop there. He even offered these remarkable statements:
MCCONNELL (2/13/21): Impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice. Never meant to be the final forum for American justice. Impeachment conviction and removal are a specific intra-governmental safety valve. It is not the criminal justice system, where individual accountability is the paramount goal...
Put another way, in the language of today, President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen. Unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office.
He didn’t get away with anything—yet. Yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.
Good lord! The federal government's leading Republican was saying that the former commander should perhaps be charged with crimes!
That's what the federal government's highest-ranking Republican stood in the Senate and said. O'Donnell said he was "absolutely stunned" by McConnell's remarks.
On this campus, we weren't far behind. Our point of view would be this:
When the other side agrees with your claims, you have achieved a large win. If you actually want to persuade The Others—if you want to bring people over to your side—you have been handed a very large gift when leaders in the other party agree with all your claims.
That said, do the citizens of Our Town want to persuade The Others? Is that any part of the culture which now obtains in Our Town?
Do we want to persuade the others? It isn't clear that we do! Here in Our Town, we tend to scream and complain any time American newspapers even interview The Others! This has become a standard reaction here.
We don't even want to speak to Those People! And so, out tramped The Seven Furies after McConnell spoke.
The less-than-magnificent seven appeared on MSNBC right after McConnell's address. They were led by Brian and Nicolle—and so uniform was the GroupSpeak this day, even McCaskill joined in.
As always, Everyone Said the Exact Same Thing; this is now a mandated part of Our Town's diminished culture. That's especially so on The One True Channel, whose corporate earnings are very high thanks to this dimwitted practice.
The Furies took numbers and stood in line, awaiting their chance to perform. Each one savaged McConnell for offering us a glass half empty. You see, he hadn't voted for "conviction," the vote we preferred in Our Town.
MSNBC no longer does transcripts, and it provides little videotape. For these reasons, we can't quote the statements of the furies, although we can set your hearts at ease—they all Said the Exact Same Things.
No one focused on the way McConnell had agreed with Our Town's position on the essential facts of the case. On this day, the seven furies ignored this gift. Instead, they took turns saying how phony McConnell is—how phony, how vile and dishonest.
Eventually, Ari Melber was introduced; he quickly became the eighth fury. After that, Brian and Nicolle brought Jon Tester on.
Tester is the reason why Our Town holds a 50-seat "majority" in the United States Senate. He's managed to win three Senate races in the deep-red state of Montana.
A winning approach in Montana might not be the best approach everywhere else. But when the Furies tried to get Tester to join their group denunciation, the smiling and genial elected official failed to go along.
"I'm not going to judge people on the way they voted" (regarding conviction), the solon outrageously said. At long last, one lonely voice had refused to recite the script.
Two nights later, Lawrence stressed the various things McConnell said in his speech. He said he'd been "absolutely stunned" by the things the solon said.
Lawrence played tape of McConnell's attacks on the former commander. At least twice, he mentioned that McConnell had voted against conviction, but he didn't stage a performative nervous breakdown about that fact.
Here in Our Town, do we even want to peel voters away from the pro-Trump coalition? Do we want to peel two percent of the public away, then maybe two percent more?
Do we possibly want to peel eight percent of the public away from this disordered pied piper? Do we want to venture among the unwashed and bring people to our side?
It didn't seem that way as we watched the Seven Furies. Later that evening, several despondent major top experts explained what we had seen.
Our species' brains were always wired this way, these experts sadly said.
Dating from prehistory's war of the all against all, our brains are wired to make us loathe The Others. Fear and loathing is all. Or at least, that's what these scholars said.
Our brains aren't wired for persuasion, these experts once again told us. The brains of our deeply war-inclined species have always been wired for combat.
The experts said that this explains what we saw that afternoon. With that, they retreated into their caves, from which loud moaning emerged.
We offer one last illustration of their anthropological point. It concerns what Heilemann said to Lawrence on Monday evening's program.
Lawrence said that McConnell's speech would ease the way for Merrick Garland's confirmation as attorney general. Note the scripting which emerged before Heilemann felt he could say that Lawrence was right:
HEILEMANN (2/15/21): It's horrible about what Mitch McConnell did, and it's hypocritical and craven and disgusting and Machiavellian and manipulative. But there are a variety of ways in which he threw some lifelines out to Joe Biden, or gave Joe Biden a hand, and that's one of them.
McConnell had thrown several lifelines to Biden! But before the cable star could say that, he seemed to feel that he had to rattle six different points of script.
Which part of "yes" don't we understand? Why didn't the Furies seize upon McConnell's speech as a tool of persuasion?
Anthropologically, attacking The Others will always come first! This is the way our brains are wired, or so major experts have said.
Tomorrow: A few final points, including what Schumer said