TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2021
This is Our Town on Stupid: This past Sunday, just two days ago, Michael Osterholm appeared on Meet the Press, a well-known TV news program.
Dr. Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. On this day, he shared some bad news about the way the new strain of the virus might affect the desire to reopen our public schools.
Osterholm spoke about the B117 variant, the so-called U.K. strain of the virus. He seemed to say that he's changed his mind about opening schools. This is what he said:
OSTERHOLM (4/4/21): Please understand, this B117 variant is a brand new ballgame. In fact, right here in Minnesota, we're now seeing the other aspect of this B117 variant that hasn't been talked much about, and that is the fact that it infects kids very readily.
Unlike the previous strains of the virus, we didn't see children under eighth grade get infected often, or they were not frequently very ill. They didn't transmit to the rest of the community. That's why I was one of those people very strongly supporting reopening in-class learning.
B117 turns that on its head. These kids now are really major challenges in terms of how they transmit. The fact that I can sit here and talk about 749 schools in Minnesota in the last two weeks now having B117 activity, so I the message is we have to get through this surge—
TODD: So you would, right now—you would close schools?
OSTERHOLM: And this means we're going to have to reconsider what we're doing...
Has Osterholm changed his mind about reopening schools at this point? With a commercial break looming, Todd didn't push through and get a clear-cut statement.
That said, Osterholm seemed to be saying that he's changed his mind about opening schools because of the new B117 strain. That's what he seemed to say two days ago, on an extremely well-known program produced by NBC News.
Jump ahead to the last two mornings. Each morning, we've watched Joe Scarborough rant and rave about the need to reopen schools.
As is the norm on this "cable news" channel, Scarborough's various guests stood in line to agree with what he was saying. In two straight mornings, neither Scarborough nor any of his guests showed any sign of being aware of what Osterholm had said.
Osterholm could be wrong, of course—but does Scarborough even know what Osterholm has said? There's no particular reason to assume that he does:
You see, Scarborough was in Boston over the weekend, taking in the first three Red Sox games. There's a very good chance that he didn't watch Meet the Press or catch up on what he missed.
There's a very good chance he doesn't know what Osterholm has said. And as for his compliant guests, contradicting the host just isn't done on the tribally pleasing "cable news" shows broadcast here in Our Town.
These performances in the past two days have been examples of the phenomenon known as "Our Town on Stupid." That said, you haven't seen the most aggressive strain of this intellectual virus until you find a way to watch the first 25 uninterrupted minutes of last night's Maddow Show.
It doesn't get dumber than what Maddow did last night. Her performance was the Platonic form of Our Town on Stupid.
Maddow was clowning hard last night—clowning hard, but also instructing us in the proper ways to fully love and adore her. If you want to see Our Town on Stupid, that is the place to go.
What was Maddow discussing last night? She was pretending to discuss the new ruling of the Senate parliamentarian concerning the possibility of passing bills through the Senate, this year and next, with fewer than 60 votes.
The parliamentarian has apparently issued a new ruling about this highly consequential matter. To see Kevin Drum explain the matter in roughly a hundred words, you can just click here.
Maddow devoted 25 minutes to this topic, but mainly she mugged and clowned. The humblebragging was general throughout. She seemed to contradict herself at an array of points.
By the time her performance was done, we had no earthly idea what she had actually said. Neither, of course, did this endlessly devolving cable news clown.
For today, we're going to add Maddow's clownish performance to Charles Blow's recent column in praise of Living in the Deeply Painful Past and Nowhere Else.
We'd be inclined to call Blow's column Our Town on Traumatization. Maddow's clowning was Our Town on Dumbest in Show.
It's stunning to see the kind of behavior we tolerate here in Our Town. Tomorrow, we'll try to summarize Maddow's clowning as she pretended to talk about the parliamentarian's ruling. Before the week is done, we'll return to Blow's column, which drew its inspiration from the Chauvin trial.
But of one thing you can be sure—any time you activate your TV, there's a very good chance you'll encounter Our Town on Stupid.
It might be Scarborough, back from Fenway with his soapbox and his compliant guests. It might be Our Own Rhodes Scholar, telling us she's a policy geek and a nerd and a dork and that dummies like us just aren't.
Over at the New York Times, Blow will be writhing in agony as he rehearses what happened in 1811. He has absolutely nothing to say about the needs of the children who are busy being born today. Instead, he wants to focus on the gruesome flaying of flesh which rules his own traumatized brain.
The children being born today? They can take care of themselves!
In our view, Maddow should be humanely led away, never to be heard from again. As for the rest of us here in Our Town, we're the ones who insist on letting this nonsense continue.
We love love love our favorite star's "performance of the Rachel figure." According to major anthropologists, this is the way it's always been, and there's no reason to think it will change.
Tomorrow: Let's count the times this fool referred to "nerds," "dorks," "geeks" and "boring." ("Boring" means that there's no sex and no one's going to jail.)