STOPPED MAKING SENSE: Exciting behavior by the Post!


What we've been talking about: We believe we've referred, in recent weeks, to the devolving nature of the Washington Post.

We've been especially struck by the strange, developing contrast between its still-traditional print edition and its increasingly tabloidized web site. That said, a report the Post is pushing today brings this devolution center stage.

As we type, the report in question is the Post's MOST READ. Its exciting headline says this:

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem dismisses conservative website’s claims of extramarital affair with former Trump adviser

Yum! Governor Noem has been accused of conducting an extramarital affair! Dearest darlings it's so delicious!

We're embarrassed for Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey, who agreed to write this report. Lip-smacking headline included, their delicious report starts like this:

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem dismisses conservative website’s claims of extramarital affair with former Trump adviser

South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) on Wednesday dismissed a conservative media outlet’s claim that she is having an extramarital affair with Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump adviser who is also advising Noem.

“These rumors are total garbage and a disgusting lie,” Noem said in a tweet. “These old, tired attacks on conservative women are based on a falsehood that we can’t achieve anything without a man’s help. I love Bryon. I’m proud of the God-fearing family we’ve raised together. Now I’m getting back to work.”

A conservative website, American Greatness, published a piece Tuesday claiming that, according to “multiple” sources, Noem has been having an affair with Lewandowski “for months.” The website did not identify any of the sources.

Lewandowski was Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign manager. He was fired by the campaign in 2016 but remains part of the former president’s inner circle and ran the pro-Trump Make America Great Again Action super PAC.

Is Noem conducting an affair? We don't have the slightest idea. If she is, we wouldn't consider it newsworthy.

That said, consider the journalistic standard which now prevails at this sliding newspaper:

In the current instance, the Post links to, and cites, a report from a conservative website—a report which claims "multiple" sources while naming exactly none.

That means that, by traditional standards, Sonmez and Dawsey don't have any sources! They write for the paper which became famous, long ago, for requiring two credible sources before a report could appear. 

In this case, it isn't just that Sonmez and Dawsey have no sources for the claim they're advancing. Their claim has them sniffing around in the bedroom again—the place where a recent quarter century of deeply destructive gong-show journalism began.

And yes, their exciting report is the Post's MOST READ. Our failing culture runs on such fuel, and apparently always will.

In our view, the Post has been sliding in this direction, especially online. Let's make a long story simple:

In its print edition, the Washington Post remains a traditional newspaper:

Its front section covers the traditional news of the nation and the world.  It also prints a daily Metro section, covering news of the Washington area, plus a daily Sports section and the iconic daily section called Style.

From time to time, a fair amount of silliness may appear in Style. Over the years, Style has published a fair amount of nonsense, trash and twaddle.

But in print, the Post is still built around traditional "news." Online, perhaps not quite so much.

Online, the Post's site does start with links to traditional news reports, but it often moves on rather quickly. The reader is soon bombarded with a bewildering array of offerings built around human interest, lifestyle and opinion, plus a great deal of undisguised dumbness. 

All too often, the online motto seems to be No Foolishness Left Behind.

In various ways, the online Post seems to be weirdly discontinuous with the print edition, in ways which may seem contradictory. 

As best we can tell, the iconic Style section doesn't exist online. Neither does the weekly, content-heavy Outlook section, a major building block of the Sunday print edition.

Somewhat comically, the online Post doesn't even offer National news as one of its featured sections. Here's what we mean by that:

At the very top of the site, the Post offer links to "World" news and to "Local" news (to news from "D.C., Md., and Va.").  But it offers no link to National news. There's no such link at all!

Perhaps somewhat comically, there is a link to "Race & Reckoning." So the culture goes as the upper end poses, performs and pretends.

For the record:

If you scroll down far enough at the Post's site, you will hit a National section. But what does this increasingly silly newspaper think of as National news? 

This morning, at the top of the National section, the top three reports were these, listed in order of prominence of display. And no, we aren't making this up. These were the top three listings:

Army to investigate spate of suspected suicides by N.Y. base soldiers

A man awoke to a bat on his neck and declined a vaccine. Weeks later, he died of rabies.

Florida man wrangles alligator his ‘own way’—with a trash bin

Judged by traditional norms, one of those reports was news. The other two were tabloid dreck. In summary, we offer this:

According to this morning's Post, a man awoke with a bat on his neck. Also, a Florida man wrangled an alligator.

And also this, in the MOST READ slot: Governor Noem is getting it on, according to multiple unknown alleged parties!

In fairness, we ought to say this:

The Post will say that it only reported this matter because Noem denied the claim in a tweet. But how about this? How about Noem denying the claim in a tweet and letting it end right there?

At any rate, this is the way a society dies. Or so Cassandra, daughter of Hecuba, now rather constantly tells us.

Tomorrow: When Maddow quoted Kagan

For deep reflection only: Noem has been floated as a possibility as Trump's next running-mate. Our question would be this:

Have you ever wondered if Kyrsten Sinema is thinking about that slot?

We've been reading Rachel's transcript!


Please get this child off the air: MSNBC has posted its transcripts for last night's programs.

We've been scrolling through the Maddow Show transcript. We'd call it unfortunate all the way down, right from its opening topic.

This isn't because Rachel Maddow is some sort of "bad person." Unfortunately, we would say that her political / cultural judgment is very poor at this point in time, and has been all along.

Our assessment:

Maddow is extremely skilled at the practice known as "selling the car," but at heart she's a highly tribal true believer. To wit:

Last night, she opened with the suggestion that federal prosecutors are going too easy on the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6. She offered a highly selective account of one alleged example.

She moved on to snark about the latest crazy statements by Rep. Paul Gosar, who seems to be mentally ill. In so doing, she stressed the claim that she wasn't engaging in snark. 

She was too childish to use the grown-up language at which she was plainly hinting—the language of "mental illness," a set of unfortunate conditions which should be discussed in adult terms.  It's time for this eternal child to become a grown-up and say what she actually means.

(Maddow: "I should tell you—and I don't mean this with any snark—there has been some reporting in the Arizona press that it is possible that he is not well, there may be something health-wise going on with Congressman Gosar. We have no reason to believe that's true, and I should let you know that the congressman has said in response to that reporting that he's fine health-wise."  Full disclosure: We'd describe that presentation as childish, silly and sad.)

Before too long, she was quoting the latest transcripts involving past bullshit from Rudy Giuliani. 

Something's been wrong with Giuliani for years; every sane person knows this. There is no need to keep wasting everyone's time pretending to convince cable news viewers of what everyone already knows.  

The question is what we should do about the deeply disordered situation at hand. Concerning that seminal question, Our Silly Child lacks the first hint of the faintest clue.

From there, it was on to this pitiful nonsense:

MADDOW (9/28/21): This is the scene today in Chicago with former President Barack Obama when he picked the spot on which this would happen today. He was actually still president. It was July of 2016 when President Barack Obama chose this site, Jackson Park in Chicago, to be the official home for his post-presidential library.

Today, Chicago was the official groundbreaking, officially kicking off construction on the project—you see the former president the former first lady there. And a new presidential library is always a cool thing. You know, it's a research center, a museum, a monument to history for the public to engage with.

This one though is also a reminder that our immediate past president after President Obama who has been out of office the better part of a year now, he hasn't done anything to start planning his own presidential library. He hasn`t even announced where he would like it to be. Not in general terms, not in specific terms, in fact no terms at all have been announced for his library.

And you know, these things do take a long time to get off the ground. Barack Obama selected the location for his presidential center more than five years ago. They just started putting shovels into the dirt today.

Why is it that there's no Trump presidential library being cited as we speak? Well, for Donald Trump to start planning his post-presidential library, that would require him to acknowledge that he is post his presidency and apparently, we are not there yet. The animating life force in the Republican Party right now means that their last president thinks he is still the rightful president and three-quarters of the Republican Party`s voters agree with him.

Personally, we were disappointed to see the Obamas engaging in this upper-end showboating at such a perilous time. But that's right, Rachel, you silly child: 

Donald J. Trump may run again, and he may win if he does! There's no reason to beat around the bush about this painfully obvious fact, or to go around pretending that you've managed to sniff out some clues. 

For the record, if Trump does run again and wins, Rachel will be one of the multimillionaire corporate entertainers through whose hapless performance his success will have been accomplished.

After she got through with that, she turned to this manifest nonsense:

MADDOW: President Biden tonight cancelled his own planned trip to Chicago tomorrow so he can stay in Washington and keep working on negotiations to try to keep the government from shutting down, to try to avert the debt ceiling crisis, to try to pass his infrastructure bill and his budget. Again, all the Beltway press looking at this fight in Washington is thinking about two parties that have two different ideas about what the governing principles of the country ought to be and how much money we ought to be spending versus raising in terms of revenue.

Widen the aperture from the Beltway press stuff, look around. What`s going on in the Republican Party has nothing to do with governing the country. What's going on in the Republican Party more than ever has to do with overthrowing elections, overthrowing small D democracy and getting stuff done by force. Ignoring that when you`re looking at the rational negotiation—negotiating positions of the two parties in Washington is to put your head in the sand.

As usual, this failing child generalizes about what "the Beltway press" is doing without offering a single example of the alleged offense she attributes to them as a group. 

In fact, the Beltway press has widely presented the image of the GOP Maddow claims they are suppressing. Paranoia is overcoming Our Eternal Child as she makes this silly sweeping suggestion without offering a single example of the work she has in mind.

Maddow was never the right person for this job. That said, Our Own Blue Tribe has always loved her mugging and clowning, and we've long succumbed to her substantial skills at the task called "selling the car."

Starting with the early two weeks of "tea bagger" dick jokes, Maddow has been bad at this job every step of the way. In her apparent mounting frustration and paranoia, she now thinks that federal prosecutors aren't doing their job, and that the Beltway press is propping up the GOP as a group.

Meanwhile, she keeps trying to get the same old people—disordered people like Giuliani—shipped off to the same old jails. Singlehandedly, corporate-paid leaders of this type may very well end up getting Trump elected again.

Reportedly, Rachel will be leaving nightly "cable news" fairly soon, on a $30 million contract. If we hope to escape our current peril, it can't happen soon enough.

Later in the show: Later, she spent an entire segment letting us know that fewer Republicans are vaccinated, as compared to Democrats. (It stands at 58% to 90%, according to Kaiser.)

Everybody already knows that! Maddow just keeps trying to pound the loathing into her viewers' heads. Simply put, it isn't enough. We'd all be much, much better off if the ridiculous channel for which she works simply went off the air.

STOPPED MAKING SENSE: Lawrence and Rachel could hardly be dumber!


Our Corporate Clowns, all the way down: Who's the dumbest major figure in the history of "cable news?"

We're not asking who's most diabolical. We asking who's the dumbest.

For ourselves, we'd have to throw Rachel Maddow into the list of contenders. Her performance last night was steady-state Dumb from beginning to end, with a bit of her persistent Revulsion for The Others thrown in as she began.

(That revulsion is always disguised.)

Maddow would do quite well on an IQ test. As a cable news star, she's just endlessly dumb.

Her political instincts are constantly lacking. She's also a full-blown loather of Others, though she works  to disguise this fact.

Last night, her various segments were so dumb that it would take a book to chronicle them. In Ulysses, Joyce built a lengthy if largely unreadable classic out of a single day in the life. 

You could build a primer on Political / Journalistic Dumbness out of last night's single hour.

Maddow's dumbness has been visible for a long time. From the beginning, it's been joined to her truly massive egotism—her massive self-involvement. 

Over the years, she has produced one ridiculous incident or episode after another, but none of these episodes get discussed. Maddow is too popular here within Our Own Hapless and Failing Blue Tribe.

Members of the Red Tribe have been unable to see through a succession of failed public figures, up to and including the deeply disordered Donald J. Trump. Over here in our own Blue Tribe, we've been completely unable to see the shortcomings and failures of Maddow.

Maddow is one of the (many) reasons why the republic's in peril. For today, though, let's focus on a simple question:

Just how dumb can "cable news" get in matters involving Our Scholar?

Our nation finds itself in a time of great peril. Many people have noticed this fact and have said so. 

But even as the state of peril advances, the people we love on Our own Cable News can't seem to quit The Dumbness.

How dumb can it get where Maddow's involved—Maddow, Our Own Eternal Child? For starters, consider the insulting lunacy from last Thursday night, when Lawrence went there again.

The program started in a familiar way. Rachel was talking about herself, as she incessantly does:

MADDOW (9/23/21): And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Man, when it rains, it pours. We've got news to break on a few different fronts tonight. There is a lot going on.

Today started out as a normal Thursday and we had sort of a normal Thursday day planned. And as we got closer and closer to show time, it turned into leak time. It turned into like "leak Christmas." 

"Leak," not as potatoes and leeks, but like leaks, newsworthy leaks. And then it turned into "subpoena Christmas."

So we threw out in its entirety everything we planned on doing tonight and started a whole new series of stories. So I will tell you in advance, there may be a little more hurly burly than usual, because so many of these stories are breaking at the last minute and developing as we're reporting them

But let's just get into it. Forgive me any straying into the margins and veering out of the lanes a little bit. But let me tell you what we`ve been working on. First, we`re going to start with Arizona...

Quickly, a bit of background:

Increasingly, Maddow has been starting her program with complaints about the way "breaking news" has forced her to discard the program she'd planned to do that night 

For someone being paid millions of corporate dollars per year to supervise a staff of twenty, you'd think such irritations might be seen as par for the course—as "part of the business we've chosen." 

Increasingly, Maddow has complained about this point of annoyance at the start of her hour-long programs. On this occasion, though, Maddow wasn't complaining. 

Instead, she was chuckling about the "hilarious" news emerging from Arizona. Somewhat oddly, she was chuckling about some hilarious news she wasn't willing to describe.

For perhaps the ten millionth time, she described the way the ridiculous group called Cyber Ninjas had been conducting a review of Arizona election results. At that point, she told us this:

MADDOW: Well, I can tell you tonight that there has been a document circulating all day today in Arizona journalism circles. It is a document that purports to be a near final draft of the Arizona audit report, the results of the Arizona so-called audit. 

Now, in addition to this circulating in Arizona journalism circles tonight, I have to tell you that we have reviewed it. I have reviewed it.

It's three whole volumes—how best to put this—other than to tell you that its purported conclusions are objectively hilarious. 

We are not going to report on the contents of that purported draft tonight because, even though multiple sources have told us that it is legit, we tracked down many sources today who all confirmed today that that is a close to final draft of the results that are going to be released tomorrow, we frankly, despite that multiple source confirmation, we just do not trust anything, anything, anything that has come from anywhere near this clown show process in Arizona.

So even though I can report to you with confidence and with personal knowledge that there is widely circulating in Arizona a draft of the purported results, we will wait. They will release their supposed results tomorrow, 1 P.M. local time, 4 P.M. Eastern time. Trump world will lose their minds regardless of what it is they are going to report, but we will wait to see what they actually say. So, there's that.

I will tell you, once the final results, such as they are, are released, one of the things that will be interesting to see is whether or not they revised those results from what appears to be the near final draft once it starts circulating in journalist circles and gives people a chance to laugh at it.

Anyway, like I said, when it rains it pours and news has been developing over the course of the day and into tonight...

That didn't exactly make sense. She wasn't willing to vouch for the contents of the draft report. She left open the possibility that the draft report would be changed.

On the other hand, she was willing to say that, when the final report was released on Friday, it would be "objectively hilarious." People would have the chance "to laugh at it," she entertainingly said.

We'll take a guess. We'll guess that the network hadn't given permission for the contents of the draft report to be described on the air.. 

We'll also guess that Maddow felt sure that the official report would say what it actually did the next day—that Biden had indeed beaten Trump in Maricopa County. That finding is what was going to be "objectively hilarious."

On Friday night, Maddow went on and on—then on and on—about how "hilarious" that outcome actually was. On balance, she failed to have enough savvy to see that TrumpWorld would simply misstate what the Ninjas had found—or that the Ninjas would include all sorts of suggestive claims which would serve to reinforce TrumpWorld's claim that "election reform" is needed, along with many more "audits."

On Friday night, Our Eternal Child indulged herself in this latest source of hilarity. We liberals turn to Rachel for entertainment as much as for anything else.

As dumb as Friday night's performance was, that isn't the Dumbness to which we want to call your attention today. We want to call your attention to the dumbness which ensued when Rachel performed the "handover" to Lawrence at 10 P.M. Thursday night. 

The astonishing dumbness of this event began in a reasonably innocent way. After Maddow's program ended, the handover started with a promise that Friday would also be "nuts." For Lawrence's transcript, click here:

MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night, which I have a feeling is going to be just as nuts.

Now, it's time for The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

O'DONNELL: Good evening, Rachel. We have Congressman Schiff joining us on the subpoenas from the January 6 committee, fascinating, hard-hitting fast subpoena schedule. You've got two weeks to give us the documents. A week after that we're going to do your deposition, really stacking them up fast. We're eager to get to that.

As Thursday's program ended, Rachel said that Friday night would also be "nuts." Translation: 

Silly Children that we are, we'd get to have a lot of fun on Friday night's program too!

Lawrence responded by citing his upcoming interview with Rep. Schiff. But then the Monster Truck Dumbness began, started, as it's done many times in the past:

O'DONNELL (continuing directly): But, Rachel, I just want to—I have the most—

The most common question I get out there in the world about MSNBC is, "How does Rachel do it?" And I always say, "She's the hardest working person I know."

But tonight I don't know how she did it, okay? Because, because I am aware, let's say half-aware, of how hard you were working today on the Arizona story and how much—how far down that road into the Arizona story you were, and how late in the game you were on that road.

MADDOW: Uh-huh.

O'DONNELL: And then your show comes on, and somewhere you have—you've made the judgment, the news judgment that you can't use what you found. We`re going to wait 24 hours or less and—wise judgment. 

But you then pull this other show out from somewhere that fills—that's a whole hour of a TV show that as far as I know didn't exist about an half and a hour before you went on TV.

So now I officially do not know. I have no idea how Rachel does it. I just don't know.

This familiar "fawning over Rachel" exchange has become rather familiar during the last year or so. We've puzzled over why Lawrence does it. The fact is, we still don't know.

It's always possible that he means it—that he isn't slyly mocking Rachel's egotism, or simply trying to extend his own career. 

But of one thing we can be sure—Rachel is ready to go there. Last Thursday, she gave this response:

MADDOW (continuing directly): You know, you're very kind. I had no idea where this was going when you started this line of inquiry. 

I will say, for close watchers of MSNBC, if you go back to the handover between Chris Hayes and me, you will note that at the very beginning of the show, I'm going like this. And I'm off screen still typing what's going to be on the show in the A block, because everything, we did have an entire show completely unrelated to what was on the air.

And then all of that stuff broke, including the Steven Hatfill stuff that broke about the coronavirus response. Luckily we were able to get Jamie Raskin here to talk about both the breaking news from the January 6 investigation and the breaking news from the COVID investigation, because he is on both. And the Arizona stuff has been Mr. Toad`s wild ride all day today. You are absolutely correct about that.

I am—I'm going to go sleep in my car. I don't think I can even make it home. I'm just a mess.

Just for the record, "the Steven Hatfill stuff" couldn't have been more trivial, except in the part of Rachel's mind which wants to Lock Everyone Up and Talk About Nothing Else.

 Meanwhile, though, poor Rachel! She was going to have to sleep in her car, she'd worked so hard all day! Truly, Rachel was a mess. By her own account!

For the record, Rachel has played similar cards since she first went on the air. By her own admission, she frequently admits that she  couldn't get to sleep at night, she was so concerned about some major topic.

By her own admission, Rachel is always a little more caring than everyone else. On this night, if they go back to the 8 P.M. handover from Hayes, historians will note that, at the very beginning of the show, she was still offscreen typing that night's actual program!

We've wondered, for some time, if Lawrence is mocking Rachel's self-involvement when  he triggers responses like this. Whatever the answer, Rachel is always ready to talk about herself, and about her giant kampf.

The sheer stupidity of this exchange already had our analysts crying and tearing their hair. But the familiar foolishness wasn't over yet. The clowning continued from there as Lawrence continued to bait his more popular colleague:

O'DONNELL (continuing directly): If I had a whole show planned and it got kind of we made the judgment that we can't do that at the last minute, I'd be sitting here reading weather reports or something. I don`t have another show. Rachel, there is no another show. I don`t have another one in my back pocket. I don`t. You`re walking around with a couple of shows ready to go at all times?

MADDOW: No. This is—this is an occupational hazard. You make it happen. Luckily when the news proceeds this fast, you kick something to the curb and let the rest of the traffic hit you. Any way, you are very kind, my friend. Thank you very much.

Rachel took the bait again, discussing the obvious greatness of her sprawling sacrifice. Unmentioned was the staff of twenty with whom she prepares her show.

Meanwhile, full disclosure! For mandated reasons of corporate branding, we're supposed to believe that Lawrence is Rachel's "friend!" For mandated reasons of corporate branding, everyone on this corporate channel extends this appellation to everyone else. It's part of the way we rubes get conned!

At this point, you'd almost think the bullshit had to be over. Actually, no—it wasn't:

O'DONNELL (continuing directly): By the way, we're going to be joined by Senator Rebecca Rios, the Democratic leader of the Senate in Arizona to—

MADDOW: Oh, good.

O'DONNELL: —give her preview of what she is expecting tomorrow when the results of this thing that has been called a "fraudit" in Arizona is released. So we`ll see what she can tell us.

MADDOW: I can—you can tell—

Regardless of what they say, you know that the Trump world is going to light itself on proverbial fire over whatever the results are in Arizona, whether they match these purported draft documents that were circulating today that we obtained and that other news organizations obtained, whether they're something totally unrelated, whether they match all the fraud hysteria and all the conspiracy theories and wildest dreams or whether they wet blanket the whole thing. Either way, Trump World is going to be absolutely bananas tomorrow, which is why I have to figure out some way to sleep tonight, because we got to be ready for that.

O'DONNELL: Rachel "I Don't Know How She Does It" Maddow. Thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: See you tomorrow, Rachel. Thank you.

Lawrence's fawning knows no bounds. We've never been able to figure if he could actually be sincere.

At any rate, the foolishness finally stopped. By her own admission, Rachel was going to "have to figure out some way to sleep tonight," difficult though that would be.

(This is all part of the process known as "selling the car." Rachel tends to present herself as Just Like Us except A Million Times More.)

When corporate cable stars play us that way, we're being treated like fools. We still can't tell you why Lawrence does it, but on Monday night, there he went again.

At Rachel handed off at 10, he played tape from eleven years back. It had been his program's first night,  his first handover from Rachel. 

After the pair of cable stars noted how great they both still look, Lawrence started the fawning all over again, with Rachel joining in:

O'DONNELL (9/27/21): So suddenly, there was a live show at 10 P.M., and you had a little job to do at the end. And Rachel, because you say "Good evening" to me in this show every night, you have kept this show here for 11 years, because we wouldn't be here without the strongest, greatest lead-in we could possibly have.

MADDOW: That is very kind of you to say. It's also crazy talk. You have been here for these 11 years because you`re freaking fantastic. And—listen, getting to three years in cable news means that you`re a senior citizen. Getting to eleven years in cable news means, you are an institution and an icon. And you and The Last Word deserve it, and another eleven after this. And I just want you to stay exactly where you are.

According to Rachel, because he's been on the air eleven years, Lawrence is an icon.

She's been on the air thirteen years! You can probably take it from there.

We've skipped the bulk of the bullshit from Monday night. But this is a type of multimillionaire corporate bullshit which simply never stops.

None of this explains the dumbness which ran all through Maddow's program last night. Having said that, we'll add this:

Last Friday night, Maddow actually quoted at length from Robert Kagan's guest essay in the Washington Post. Quite correctly, that lengthy essay describes the massive peril this nation is in.

In fact, Kagan understates the degree of peril. For today, our statement is this:

When people persist, in the face of such peril, in the kind of stupidity we've shown you above, these people need to be taken off the air. 

In our assessment, it's too late for us to hope for a decent resolution of our current peril. 

It's entirely possible that Donald J. Trump will end up in the White House again. If that occurs, the endless mugging and clowning of Maddow—along with her horrible journalistic judgment—will be one of the ways Our Failing Blue Tribe helped bring the American experiment, such as it was, to its disastrous end.

Full disclosure! We're being consulted by Cassandra, daughter of Priam, as we make our gloomy projections. But the sheer stupidity of the "corporate cable" wing of our tribe has never been more clear.

You see it from Rachel every night. It doesn't mean that she's a "bad person." It simply means that she shouldn't be on the air.

You see it from Rachel every night, but by now, it pops up everywhere blue voters might look. Our tribe stopped making sense long ago, assuming it ever did.

Tomorrow: Conspiracy? Hotel Rwanda?

McConnell's position on government shutdown!


Unmentioned by Rachel last night: There's no better way for a liberal to become underinformed than by watching Rachel Maddow. Last evening's hapless, then embarrassing outing provides a case in point.

The embarrassment started at 10 P.M., when Rachel and Lawrence staged the latest of their embarrassing "handover" conversations—conversations in which  Lawrence kisses Rachel's keister as her program ends and his program begins.

We'll review a few of those spectacles later in the week. For now, let's forget the embarrassment, turning instead to the lack of information emanating from last night's Maddow Show.

We refer to Our Own Rhodes Scholar's failure to explain the funding deadline which approaches this week. On the front page of today's Washington Post, Tony Romm explained this matter rather clearly, drawing  a crucial distinction which Rachel blew right past all during last night's dimwitted imitation of a "cable news" program.

In fact, two different funding deadlines are approaching. Romm explained the difference between them, then described Mitch McConnell's position on the two deadlines:

ROMM (9/28/21): The most urgent deadline is midnight Thursday, at which point Congress must adopt a measure to fund the government or some federal agencies and operations will shutter starting Friday morning. And lawmakers also must act before mid-October to raise the debt ceiling, or they could risk a first-ever default, potentially destabilizing global markets.

In the hours before the Monday evening vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) staked his party’s position—that Republicans are not willing to vote for any measure that raises or suspends the debt ceiling, even if they have no intentions of shutting down the government in the process. GOP lawmakers say raising the borrowing limit, which allows the country to pay its bills, would enable Biden and his Democratic allies to pursue trillions in additional spending and other policy changes they do not support.

“We will support a clean continuing resolution that will prevent a government shutdown,” said McConnell, who has called on Democrats to use their narrow but potent majorities to address the debt ceiling on their own. “We will not provide Republican votes for raising the debt limit.”

Romm is able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Thanks to this skill, he was able to describe the two different deadlines which are approaching:

Deadline this Thursday at midnight: By midnight Thursday, Congress must adopt a measure to fund the government or some federal agencies and operations will shutter starting Friday morning. 

That's one of the approaching deadlines. The other deadline is this:

Deadline in mid-October: By mid-October, Congress must act to raise the debt ceiling, or they could risk a first-ever default, potentially destabilizing global markets.

The second deadline is more consequential. The first arrives this week. 

Regarding McConnell's position on these (two) approaching deadlines, Romm reports the distinction which Rachel blew past in the forty minutes she devoted to budget issues last night:

McConnell has said that Senate Republicans will "support a clean continuing resolution that will prevent a government shutdown" this week. He has also said that Senate Republicans won't vote to raise the debt ceiling—to address the deadline which comes due next month.

We aren't telling you that this is good policy on McConnell's part. We're merely telling you that these are the positions he has stated.

Yesterday's "no" votes by Senate Republicans reflected the fact that the bill under consideration addressed both approaching deadlines. McConnell has said that Republicans will support a "clean" bill to address this week's deadline. 

(In this context, a "clean" bill would be a bill which addresses this week's deadline and nothing else.)

This brings us to Maddow's latest imitation of journalism. Last night, she idiocized and propagandized her way through her program's first forty minutes, focused entirely on budget issues, including the two we've cited.

That said, she never managed to draw the distinction between these two approaching deadlines. Most specifically, she never explained that McConnell has expressed support for addressing the deadline which approaches this week.

Was Rachel being dishonest / disingenuous, or was she simply uninformed? She mugged and clowned in various ways as her latest imitation of journalism proceeded, but we can't tell you what she knew as her latest failed effort proceeded.

Rachel will soon be leaving nightly journalism. This will serve as a major gift to any honest liberal. 

Such people got underinformed by Rachel again last night. Sadly, there's absolutely nothing new about such failed performance.

At 10 P.M., the latest embarrassment with Lawrence began. At some point,  this pseudo-journalistic clown show is slated to reach its end.

Concerning the timing: When did McConnell state his position on the two impending deadlines?

We can't say with precision. That said, Romm's report was filed at 6:57 P.M., two hours before Maddow's show went on the air. 

(She opened with a standard six minutes designed to reassure viewers that The Others Are Much, Much Dumber Than We Are and that Nancy Is Just Extremely Smart. We'll guess that market research has shown that her viewers enjoy this type of twaddle.)

Meanwhile, the distinction between the impending deadlines was clearly explained on Anderson Cooper's 8 P.M. program, even as Cooper raced to finish his opening segment so he could transition to endless, pointless chatter about the death of Gabby Petito. Everyone knows about the difference between the two deadlines—everyone but the unfortunate people who watch the Maddow Show.

Maddow didn't seem to know much; Cooper wanted to talk about young woman who was a widely-discussed missing person, even though there was nothing new to say about the ongoing case. This is the pablum we viewers are served by anti-Trump corporate cable as our failing society wheezes and groans toward its appointed end.

Hat tip concerning impending demise: Cassandra, daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba and fraternal twin sister of Helenus

STOPPED MAKING SENSE: Our own tribe's discourse has stopped making sense!


Crazy, daft all the way down: An un-funny thing happened in Saturday's Washington Post.

We're referring to the famous newspaper's print editions. On page A2, a news report described the situation involving Haitian migrants near Del Rio, Texas. In paragraphs 5-7, this account was offered:

SONMEZ AND MIROFF (9/25/21): The deportations of Black Haitians seeking asylum—and the viral images and videos of White Border Patrol agents grabbing and shouting at them—drew sharp rebukes from Black Democrats, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Earlier in the day, Biden decried the migrants’ treatment. Agents were photographed and filmed by news crews cursing at the Haitians and attempting to force them back across the river to Mexico, at times charging with their horses and swinging their leather reins.

There has been no evidence that agents stuck [sic] any of the migrants or used “whips” as some claimed.

A peculiar claim can be seen lurking in that passage. Weirdly, Sonmez and Miroff reported that some Democrats were angry about the fact that border patrol agents had "shouted at" some of the migrants.

Some of the border patrol agents had shouted at some of the migrants! According to the news report, this shouting had drawn sharp rebukes from some Democratic pols.

That said, there had been "no evidence that agents struck any of the migrants," the Post was now reporting.  Also, there had been no evidence that agents had used "whips," as some people had claimed.

There was no evidence that migrants had been struck. There was no evidence that agents had used whips.

Correction! There was no evidence of such behaviors until you turned to page A19 of those same print editions. On that page, columnist Colbert King could be found saying this:

KING (9/25/21): Who would have thought, on Inauguration Day, that a mere eight months down the road President Biden would be faced with: a Haitian migrant crisis on the southern border; schisms in his party that threaten his plans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and improve health, education and safety-net programs; a rupture with the French over a new U.S.-Australia defense pact...


The United States’ relations with France will endure. However, in the handling of Haitian migrants, the administration is coming across as its own worst enemy. What kind of government would tolerate for one second mounted Border Patrol agents using horse reins like whips to control Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Tex.?

On page A2, there was no evidence that any migrants had been struck at all, let alone struck with whips. 

But so what? On page A19, mounted Border Patrol agents had been "using horse reins like whips" to control the migrants, and King was strongly suggesting that the Biden administration had somehow "tolerated" this.

So it went on Saturday morning in the Washington Post. For what it's worth, a news report in that morning's New York Times also suggested that earlier reports about the use of whips had been erroneous.

"A photographer on the scene had said publicly that agents had not been using their reins to whip migrants, as had been widely speculated," the Times reporters reported. For the record, this was a change from the original version of their report, which has now been formally corrected.

Meanwhile, the corrected New York Times report still included the fact that Vice President Harris "had likened the pictures of agents on horseback to slavery." Without explanation, a photo caption offered this nugget:

President Biden vowed to hold the agents accountable who chased Haitian migrants on horseback as they tried to cross the Rio Grande into Texas from Mexico on Saturday.

Aren't border agents supposed to "chase" migrants if they're crossing the Rio Grande into Texas without authorization? Such questions went unexplained in the Times' news report—and as the Post's report continued, President Biden was quoted saying this:

SONMEZ AND MIROFF (continuing directly from above): “It was horrible,” the president said. “To see people treated like they did? Horses running them over and people being strapped? It's outrageous and I promise you, those people will pay.”

Had migrants been run over by horses and strapped? That's what the president was quoted saying in the Post report, even as Colbert King seemed to suggest that Biden, or at least his administration, had tolerated such conduct.

Welcome to the wonderful world of a rapidly failing culture! By now, efforts have been made to sift through the thrilling tribal excitement concerning the alleged use of whips, or the alleged use or reins as whip, or the claim that people had been run over by horses, or had even been shouted at.

Yesterday, Max Boot attempted to sort these matters out in the Washington Post, though his column has only appeared online. Kevin Drum offered a substantial excerpt from Boot's column while offering this assessment:

DRUM (9/27/21): I doubt that an investigation will show that CBP officers did anything wrong in their treatment of Haitian immigrants. It made a big impact thanks to a single picture that gave a seriously mistaken impression, but video suggests there was nothing very unusual about the situation.

Did officers do anything wrong in their treatment of the migrants? Was there anything "very unusual" about the isolated events at the border which had been captured in a single viral photograph—a single photograph which our own flailing and failing anti-Trump tribe found especially thrilling?

People can judge such matters for themselves. For now, we'll briefly return to Saturday's Washington Post:

On page A2, readers were told that there was no evidence that migrants had been struck at all, let alone that any agents had been using whips. 

But on page A19, on that very same day, a leading figure at the Post was telling readers something quite different—and he angrily suggested that the Biden Admin had tolerated the whipping of migrants.

Two days later, there was Charles Blow, in Monday's New York Times. Blow was still howling about "the outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle." 

Using the private language of our failing, barely-competent tribe, Blow referred to the migrants as "Black bodies" rather than as people. According to experts, this is the way we humans behave as our societies die.

In fairness, awkward juxtapositions can occur as information emerges about some incident. Perhaps it isn't "very unusual" that Colbert King was saying one thing on Saturday morning, even as his own newspaper's news report was saying something quite different.

That said, something has been "very unusual" about this event, or at least that would be the case in a dimly rational world. We refer to the lunatic way the liberal / progressive / anti-Trump world reacted to that one photograph involving that one border patrol agent. 

Beyond that,  we refer to the slippery, disingenuous was our liberal thought leaders are still pimping their original impressions concerning this incident.

As we learn that no one was actually whipped, we're asked to be upset to think that unauthorized migrants were "chased," even "shouted at." At New York magazine, Sarah Jones—she once inspired so much hope!—offered this as our silly and failing progressive world emitted its many death rattles:

JONES (9/23/21): Some images burn themselves into the brain. In this one, a U.S. Border Patrol agent on horseback lashes a whip near the face of a Haitian migrant; Reuters reports he later grabbed a man by the shirt. The migrants on our border are fleeing poverty and political chaos; they seek the same future we all want for ourselves. They have found a violent welcome in Joe Biden’s America. Asked to comment on the use of whips by border agents, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she did not think “anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”

Jones included the photo of the (one) agent on horseback—the photo which launched a thousand breakdowns.

In fairness to Jones, it may be that she still believed, at that point, that "agents" (plural) were lashing "whips" (plural) in the incident which had generated that one photograph of that one border agent—that agents (plural) were doing this "in Joe Biden's America."

That said, we offer this to note the insanity which grips human populations as their societies come to an end—the insanity involved when Jones complains about that Reuters report, in which it was said that a border patrol agent had grabbed someone's shirt.

Reportedly, a law enforcement officer had grabbed someone's shirt! As our failing tribe slides toward the sea, that's the sort of thing our thought leaders rail against—"in Joe Biden's America," no less.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our tribe is now nearly insane. In the particular matter under review, we're commenting on our tribe's crazy reactions to an incident which might seem to involve a matter of race. 

That said, the dimwitted nuttiness of our upper-end tribal discourse is all around us now, if we're just willing to look. Our discourse stopped making sense long ago. Our behavior rapidly is spiraling downwards, if we're just willing to look.

We'll offer examples this week. We hope to move, with deliberate speed, to the increasingly nutty conversations between Rachel and Lawrence, and to the studied lunacy of Our Own Rhodes Scholar herself.

As we do, we'll also make reference to Robert Kagan's lengthy, widely-cited essay in Sunday's Washington Post. We're on the eve of destruction, Kagan said—and we'd have to say that he understated the nature and sweep of the challenge.

Our own vastly self-impressed tribe is failing very fast. The Crazy is quite widespread among the pro-Trump population, but the behaviors on display in Our Town are increasingly dim, addled, silly, near-hysterical, "very unusual," daft.

It's all right there if we're willing to see it. Anthropologists insist that we aren't.

Coming: As Kagan paints a frightening picture, Rachel and Lawrence cavort

STARTING TOMORROW: Rachel, Donald and Robert (Kagan)!


But appearing today, Charles Blow: A troubling fact has become fairly clear within, let's say, the past decade:

Enlightenment values are extremely "last millennium" within our failing culture, even within our own  blue tribe. 

This fact becomes more and more evident as the days tick by. For one more example, consider Charles Blow's new column. Also, consider what two commenters said.

What should President Biden, and the Biden Administration, have done? What should they have done  in response to the recent, rather sudden arrival of a large number of Haitian migrants at the Southwest border near Del Rio, Texas?

We can't answer that very good question. In our view, reporting of this sudden event has been remarkably fuzzy, even by prevailing norms.

We do know this:

At the start of the coverage of this incident. a photograph was widely misreported and misunderstood. This produced enormous amounts of outrage. For Kevin Drum's presentation of this matter, including the relevant videotape, you can just click here.

We also know this:

Once the misunderstanding was clarified, a wide range of liberal and progressive "thought leaders" cleaned the cupboard of slippery language as they worked, around the clock, to keep misperception and outrage alive.

Inevitably, Blow follows suit in this morning's column. His slippery, misleading, emotional language appears in this passage:

BLOW (9/27/21): Yes, there were the outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle, and there was also the administration aggressively deporting the migrants back to Haiti.

In Blow's emotionally-charged rendition, immigration officers were "herding the migrants like cattle." In such ways, tribal beings—humans like us—strain to keep outrage alive.

Full disclosure:

We weren't shocked to learn that law enforcement officials on the Southwest border sometimes work on horseback. 

Mounted police have routinely operated in northeastern cities. In our experience, this dates all the way to the street-fighting 1960s, when mounted police would be used to disperse crowds of (overwhelmingly "white") antiwar protesters.

It's hardly surprising to think that law enforcement would also work on horseback in the desert Southwest. To us, it doesn't seem like a "racial" play—but our tribe's various human beings have stripped the cupboard of emotionally-charged and deceptive language as they fight to perform their Storyline in the current circumstance.

In Blow's rendition, the mounted police were "herding the migrants like cattle." This is the sort of thing it may take to keep tribal outrage alive.

As for Blow, he's deeply upset, as he always is. 

His headline says this: "Joe Biden's mendacity." Soon, he's offering this account of his reaction to those "outrageous images:":

BLOW: Yes, there were the outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle, and there was also the administration aggressively deporting the migrants back to Haiti.

When I see those Black bodies at the border, I am unable to separate them from myself, or my family, or my friends. They are us. There is a collective consciousness in blackness, born of the white supremacist erasure of our individuality.

Your accomplishment is never your own, but a credit to the race. Your sins are never your own, but a stain on the race. In America, and throughout the diaspora, all Black people are linked together like a chain of paper dolls.

So it has been incredibly painful to witness the treatment of the Haitians, and it has been impossible not to recoil in disgust or burn with outrage. And to think, “This is happening on Joe Biden’s watch.”

When Blow sees those "outrageous images" of the "herding" of those "Black bodies" (Tribal Private Language alert!),  he reports that he is "unable to separate [the Haitian migrants] from himself or from his family and friends."

We're supposed to admire this inability. We'll report a different reaction.

In fact, those unfortunate migrants aren't the deeply "privileged" Blow, his family or his friends. They're a very different group, a group of very unfortunate people, in a very different type of situation. 

That said, Blow is "unable to" keep this distinction in mind. For this reason, he says "it has been impossible not to burn with outrage" at the images in question—images he isn't willing to describe in a reasonably straightforward way.

It isn't clear that those mounted police did anything wrong in the incident which was photographed and videotaped. If they did do something wrong, Blow doesn't explain what it was. At times like these, why bother!

One (highly selective) photograph inspired a great deal of rage. And, at times of tribal war, we burn to keep rage alive.

Even as he keeps pretending that those officers treated the migrants like cattle, Blow seems to blame Biden for their alleged offence. In the larger sense, what should the Biden administration have done with respect to this large group of migrants?

You're asking a very good question! Below, you see the outraged Blow's (lack of) response:

BLOW: It seems to me that Biden tried to simultaneously eliminate the horrible optics the migrants present, and to do so as quickly as possible, and at the same time blunt the already loud criticism from Republicans that he is mishandling immigration and has an open-borders policy. (No wonder, then, that the migrant encampment beneath the Del Rio bridge has already been cleared.)

But those Republicans cannot be appeased. No matter what direction Biden takes they will condemn it. So why not take the moral path, the righteous path, the ethical path?

According to Blow, Biden and his administration should have "take[n] the moral path, the righteous path, the ethical path." 

That said, what was the moral, righteous and ethical path? Married to his sacred outrage, Blow never bothers to say!

At times like these, the center cannot hold. The worst are full of passionate intensity, but so is almost everyone else.

The deep emotions Blow reports are one of the many poisoned fruits of this nation's brutal racial history. That said, his self-reported fact—the fact that he can't see past his emotional reactions—explains why Enlightenment values have ceased to exist for him, as for almost everyone else.

Our own blue tribe has lost its way. There's no sign that we'll be finding our way back, or that the nation's center will be able to hold.

Inevitably, one early commenter to Blow's column said this. This is The Crazy on stilts:

COMMENTER FROM NEW YORK CITY: You know you are in trouble when a liberal progressive like Charles Blow is against you.  Is Joe Biden now a friend or foe to black people?  I would guess the latter. But, of course, only a black person can answer this honestly.

The highlighted statement is crazy. It's also a tribute to our tribe's sole surviving God—to the jealous god, Identity.

A second commenter offers this. Reactions like these have lost the war within our own blue tribe:

COMMENTER FROM CALIFORNIA: Perhaps Charles Blow needs to stop focusing so much on identity. We’ve been shipping non-black migrants home in their thousands for decades. But suddenly a bunch of black migrants, and he gets up in arms. The problem with this issue is, people don’t try to come here unless they think they can get in. If you let them think they’re getting in as long as they show up, what happened last week is inevitable. There’s no shortage of migrants—most seeking the same economic opportunities my great grandparents did—who would undertake this dangerous journey, with limited understanding of the risks and the ultimate (lack of) rewards, if the barrier for entry was dropped. I’m not sure what people want on the left—political suicide by just letting people in, encouraging more to come? I just don’t know how this could be dealt with other than how it was.

The commenter says he doesn’t know "how this could be dealt with other than how it was."

Nowhere in his column, as he flips out, does Blow attempt to address that obvious question. As is often true as we humans move to war, it's outrage all the way down.

The Times should have given Blow a rest a long time ago. His emotions may be understandable, but they defeat the journalistic purpose.

That said, Our Own Blue Tribe seems unable to grasp the danger of the moment. Starting tomorrow, we'll examine that problem all week. We'll focus on Rachel Maddow, plus a Donald and a Robert

The Donald will be Donald J. Trump, a deeply disordered figure. The Robert will be the man who wrote this widely cited essay, an essay which actually understates the problem we're all facing.

Tomorrow: We'll start last Thursday night

Even as the Times gets it right...


...Rachel entertains us: In our view, Epstein and Corasaniti did an excellent job with yesterday's Arizona / Cyber Ninjas "election audit" presentation.

Their news report appears in this morning's New York Times. As they start, they note that the ridiculous group with the stupid name reported / acknowledged a basic fact:

Joe Biden really did defeat Donald J. Trump in Maricopa County!

They start their news report with that basic fact. Quickly, though, they move to the deeply troubling place where the rubber is meeting the road. This is the current problem we're all living with:

EPSTEIN AND CORASANITI (9/25/21): Significant parts of the right treated the completion of the Arizona review as a vindication—offering a fresh canard to justify an accelerated push for new voting limits and measures to give Republican state lawmakers greater control over elections. It also provided additional fuel for the older lie that is now central to Mr. Trump’s political identity: that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
“The leaked report conclusively shows there were enough fraudulent votes, mystery votes, and fake votes to change the outcome of the election 4 or 5 times over,” Mr. Trump said in a statement early Friday evening, one of seven he had issued about Arizona since late Thursday. “There is fraud and cheating in Arizona and it must be criminally investigated!”

For Mr. Trump, Republican candidates vying to appeal to voters in primary races, and conservative activists agitating for election reviews in their own states, the 91-page document served as something of a choose-your-own-adventure guide. These leaders encouraged their supporters to avert their eyes from the conclusion that Mr. Biden had indeed won legitimately, and to instead focus on fodder for a new set of conspiracy theories.

Sad but true—and also, extremely important. According to this news report, "significant parts of the right," including the aforementioned Mr. Trump, are now "treat[ing] the completion of the Arizona review as a vindication."

Trump is saying it proves his case—and vast numbers of people are going to believe him!

In such ways, The Other Tribe is engaging in a type of "epistemic secession." It's very, very hard to see how the American experiment, such as it is, will find a way to survive this ongoing mess.

The Other Tribe is deeply involved in an "epistemic secession." This bizarre behavior is largely enabled by the rise of modern technologies and modes of interaction—talk radio; cable news; the Internet; social media—but its ongoing success reflects the deepest realms of pre-rational, highly tribal human mental impulse.

That tribal imperative is now in the saddle among The Other Tribe. That said, Our Own Tribe is bowing to those same human impulses. This was evident as we watched Rachel Maddow mug and clown and reassure / entertain our own failing tribe last night

Maddow is Our Own Rhodes Scholar and Our Eternal Child. For her, the release of the Arizona report was mainly a cause for hilarity last night. 

The Times reporters quickly stressed the disturbing underside of this event. By way of contrast, Maddow opened her program with a very large dose of her standard clowning and tribal reassurance. 

Fourteen minutes into this performance, she summed it up as shown:

MADDOW (9/24/21): But we're back to where this started. Which is that it is hilarious.


And you can't take that away from me.

Maddow's performance continued from there. But no one will rob Our Eternal Child of her sense that matters like this are mainly hilarious.

No one is going to take that away from her! Jon Stewart told her to stop doing this long ago—that her job was more important than this. She told him that she wouldn't.

We expect to focus on last night's performance in our reports next week. We'll also mention the parts of Maddow's performance in which she mentioned the troubling side of the Cyber Ninjas report.

With that in mind, we'll leave it here for now. But even as The Other Tribe bows to Trump's reign of crazy misstatement, Our Own Tribe has never been able to quit this Eternal Child.

Meanwhile, we have our own sprawling performance of epistemic secession, a performance which largely concerns deeply important matters of gender and race. Again and again, our devotion to this regime leaves us saying the darnedest things. 

This helps harden the epistemic secession underway in The Other Tribe. The Others think our statements are nutty or even dishonest. All too often, it's hard to say that The Others are wrong.

More on these tribal secessions next week. These dueling secessions are very dangerous.

"Hilarious," Our Own Scholar said!

WE CALL IT READING A BOOK: In dumbness is the end of the world!


Norman O. Brown got it right: It was our former neighbor Thoreau who said it, though it's sometimes misquoted:

"In wildness is the preservation of the world."

No, he didn't say "wilderness." But that tiny misquotation is certainly close enough.

Our neighbor Thoreau made this remark in his lecture-turned-essay, Walking. As part of the essay, he also made the highlighted remark, as was his perhaps unfortunate wont:

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say, A penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them—as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon—I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago. 

Our neighbor had a tendency to extend such left-handed sympathy to those who worked for a living. In Walden, this tendency produced one of his most widely-quoted remarks:

"The mass of men [sic] lead lives of quiet desperation."

Do you ever wonder how such statements may have sounded to that "mass of men" as they led their lives of desperation? As they received a type of credit for not having taken their own lives?

We don't know how our neighbor's statements sounded to the masses of his own time. That said, we've thought of these statements in the past few days as we've reviewed the way the elites of Our Own Blue Tribe are conducting themselves in public.

"In wildness is the preservation of the world," our neighbor once said. Unfortunately, in cluelessness is its possible termination. 

Each morning this week, often as we peruse the devolving on-line version of the Washington Post, we've been stunned by the overpowering dumbness. We refer to the dumbness which currently sits in the saddle and rides the  humankind which almost seems to be working, around the clock, to ensure that Trumpism triumphs.

To our ear, the cluelessness of our current blue elite is widespread and ever-present. For those who wonder how a person like Trump could possibly have received so many votes, we'll only say that the answer may be easier to see for those who are willing to look.

To our ear, the cluelessness to which we refer is cluelessness all the way down.  Each day, it's more haughty and more potent, and we'll guess it's more counterproductive.

After perusing the on-line Post and a few of Our Town's other journals, we've been finding it hard to proceed with the project we've been planning. We'd planned to proceed with the reading of a "most important" book—a book whose author said this in his preface:

"I should have liked to produce a good book. That has not come about."

After perusing Our Town's journals, we keep finding it impossible to proceed with that task.

A number of years ago, we began quoting Norman O. Brown from the street-fighting 1960s. Brown was very hot at the time. At one point, he offered this:

BROWN (1966): I sometimes think I see that societies originate in the discovery of some secret, some mystery; and end in exhaustion when there is no longer any secret, when the mystery has been divulged, that is to say profaned...And so there comes a time—I believe we are in such a time—when civilization has to be renewed by the discovery of some new mysteries, by the undemocratic but sovereign power of the imagination, by the undemocratic power which makes poets the unacknowledged legislators of all mankind, the power which makes all things new.

We can't say that we understand what Brown was talking about in that passage. That said, he plainly was saying this:

Absent the discovery of "new mysteries," he said we might be at the point when our society is going to "end in exhaustion." Reading the efforts of Our Town's thought leaders, we keep suspecting that Brown, a classicist by training, may have had it right.

About a decade ago, this statement began showing up in our dreams, and so we began to cite it. We don't think it's ever been so clear that those new mysteries haven't been discovered, and most likely aren't going to be.

In wildness is the preservation of the world? Possibly so, but in tribal cluelessness may lie a society's termination.

We'll try to return to our project next week. Perhaps we need to stop perusing Our Blue Town's journals in the morning. To our ear, the cluelessness we keep encountering in those places is making a mockery of everything else. It's newly surprising each day.

Why aren't we posting examples today? Simple! We can hear the tribals responding! We know what the tribals will say!

As The Others show the world every day, there's no way to talk a true believer out of a tribal true belief. Also, we can hear the experts and scholars as they keep telling us this:

As humans, we're wired to produce tribal dogmas as we make our way towards our latest war. And when we blue voters produce our own (unintelligent) dogmas, we harden The Others in theirs.

In fairness, our brains are wired this way, or so the top experts have said. It's painful to read the present-day Post. To our ear, the tribal dumbness being churned within Our Town just keeps getting worse and worse.

The tribal dumbness, how it burns! Their tribal dumbness, and ours!

The 710 versus the more than four thousand!


Statistical dumbness is Us: Just as the experts have said, we simply aren't up to the task of conducting the most basic journalism.

Consider the statistical shakiness which starts to appear in this passage from this morning's New York Times news report:

ROBERTSON (9/23/21): [Gwen] Ifill, who died in 2016 after a distinguished career that included stints at The Washington Post, The Times and NBC News before she became co-anchor of “PBS NewsHour,” raised the issue of what she called “missing white woman syndrome” at a journalism conference in 2004. “If there’s a missing white woman, we are going to cover that, every day,” she noted wryly.

In the years since, national news outlets have continued to deliver frequent, detailed reports that made young, white women such as Natalee Holloway, who disappeared in 2005 while vacationing in Aruba, into household names.

To what "statistical shakiness" do we refer? We refer to this statistical shakiness:

In that passage, the Times reporter, Katie Robertson, quotes Gwen Ifill seeming to say that the mainstream media covers every case in which a there's a missing white woman. Indeed, Ifill seems to say that every such case gets a lot of coverage.

Robertson proceeds to offer an example. She cites a case which did get a lot of attention—back in 2005!

Can you think of a more recent case? The Times report seems to say that there are many such cases, but we'll admit that we can't think of examples, and it almost looks like the Times couldn't do so either..

With that in mind, can you see the shakiness which may be lurking there? We ask that question because the editors at the New York Times 1) couldn't see the shakiness, or 2) just didn't prefer to.

Now, let's consider a case of statistical illiteracy. It comes from that same New York Times report, but it also appeared in the Washington Post, and it's being widely copied as the day proceeds:

ROBERTSON: The demographic makeup of major news organizations is another factor in the emphasis on narratives of white women who go missing or are murdered, said Martin G. Reynolds, co-executive director of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.


The disappearances of people of color tend not to generate the same volume of media interest, despite their occurring at a higher rate. A report from the University of Wyoming found that 710 Indigenous people were reported missing from 2011 to 2020 in that state, which is where Ms. Petito’s remains were found.

Can you see the statistical illiteracy lurking there? The breakdown goes like this:

Robertson links to this report from the University of Wyoming. Making a long story short, the Wyoming report includes this passage:

These records  represent 4,884 unique individuals, 710 of whom were Indigenous. Law  enforcement agencies in Wyoming enter nearly 900 missing person records into NCIC annually. Each year, approximately 13% (n = 120) are records of Indigenous people.

In that passage, we learn that there were 4,884 missing persons in Wyoming during the decade in question. Performing the math, the numbers break down like this:

Missing persons in Wyoming:
Total number of missing persons: 4,884
Missing persons who were Indigenous: 710
Missing persons who weren't Indigenous: 4,174

It's true! You never heard about the 710 missing persons. But duh! You never heard about the 4,174 missing persons either.

Putting it a different way, you never heard about any of those missing persons in the way you've heard about the late Gabby Petito this week. In fact, you never heard about any of those missing persons at all.

For starters, that's because, Ifill's pleasing statement to the contrary,  the mainstream media doesn't cover the cases of "every missing white woman." In fact, the media almost never covers such cases. Almost no missing persons get covered this way, including the blonde and the blue-eyed.

The statistical dumbness of this morning's Times report rises to the level of undisguised, flat-out Stupid. That said, it's very typical of the way our high-end journalists work when confronted with any sort of statistical or pseudo-statistical statement.

In this case, the Times was eager to push Storyline, and so it ran with that absurdly irrelevant statistic. For whatever reason, its unnamed editors didn't remove that irrelevant passage from the report. For all we know, it may be the editors who stuck the passage in.

Increasingly, our journalism is Storyline all the way down. Along with that, our Storyline selection is tribal. 

In this instance, these factors led the Times to pretend that oversized coverage occurs all the time with missing white women, even as they couldn't seem to come up with a recent example—and even as they failed to note one of the obvious reasons why the disappearance of the late Gabby Petito has received so much coverage.

In part, this case has received an outsized amount of coverage because Petito was a travel blogger who had posted tons of footage of her cross-country trip. It has also received outsized coverage because the ludicrous behavior of her  fiancĂ© comes straight out of a cable-friendly, Sleeping With the Enemy-style movie.

That said, also this:

This case has received a lot of coverage because, by conventional norms, Petito was stunningly telegenic. Cable loves to run video footage of conventionally attractive young women, just as it loves to hire such women to appear on the air.

Obviously, race and color play major roles in judgments concerning who is and isn't attractive; this fact is extremely unfortunate. But, as judged by conventional norms, Petito was stunningly telegenic. 

That fact played an obvious role in this week's unusual amount of coverage. As part of its general vapidity, CNN loves to air footage like that, along with equally exciting footage of hurricanes, fires and floods.

That said, gaze upon the statistical dumbness of upper-end newspapers like the Washington Post and the Times. 

In this report, the Post subjects that statistic from Wyoming to even dumber use. This dumbness runs through the coverage of almost every matter our upper-end press corps pursues. 

That dumbness is in the saddle and it rules our journalistic humankind. And no, a modern nation can't hope to survive when its tribunes are so vapid and so incompetent, and so ruled by Storyline.

Concerning Ifill's wry remark, we'll only say this—at least she wasn't covering for her warmongering friend, Condi Rice, on that particular day.

Concerning that astoundingly silly pseudo-statistic, it's a case of the 710 versus the more than four thousand! None of those stories got covered this way—in fact, none of those stories got covered at all. That's because what Ifill said was, and is, transparently bogus.

When we saw the figure 710, we wondered about the other figure, as any competent person would. When we looked at the Wyoming report, we were able to cipher it out—4,174!

This sort of thing is beyond the reach of our upper-end mainstream journalists. Many went to the finest schools, but they rarely show the slightest sign of being able or inclined to handle such questions as this.

Our brains aren't wired for this sort of thing. They're wired to pimp tribal Storyline, or so the top experts all tell us!

The earlier missing white woman: As of 2004, the earlier missing white woman was Chandra Levy. Her case received blanket coverage in 2001 because the crackpot conservative world was using it to push the "Democrats chase after interns" line, with the mainstream press corps politely playing along.

In other words, it was part of the ongoing MSM war against Clinton, Clinton and Gore, the war which  put Bush and Trump in the White House—the inexcusable, brain-damaged war which remains undiscussed.

CNN ran with it, night after night, all through the summer of 2001. (As summertime fare, it was even better than shark attacks!) On September 11, al Qaeda hit, and this much adored, important topic was never mentioned again.

This is the way this guild has functioned over the course of the past many years. Within a year, they were savaging Gore for saying, in a major speech, we should stay out of Iraq. Frank Rich was never more angry than he was with the phony, dishonest Gore! Katie Couric went after him too!

This is who and what we are. Simply put, we're wired this way, disconsolate experts insist.

WE CALL IT READING A BOOK: The logicians probably couldn't have helped!


The transparent Dumbness, it burns: Robert Woodward's new book, co-written with Robert Costa, bears a one-word title: 


Following its 72 chapters, its epilogue ends with a two-word paragraph:

"Peril remains."

The authors refer to the peril facing our democracy in these (ongoing) days of Trump. More expansively, the epilogue ends as shown:

Could Trump work his will again? Were [sic] there any limits to what he and his supporters might do to bring him back to power?

Peril remains.

Even in fuller context, the word "were" doesn't make sense there. But as the book ends, Woodward and Costa are most specifically saying that peril remains if Donald J. Trump seeks the White House again.

Our democracy remains in peril, the authors say in their book. But according to the experts with whom we consult, we've moved past the point of peril. The die has already been cast.

Could the logicians have helped us with this? Most likely, they couldn't have. That said, the logicians—indeed, the "philosophers" and philosophy professors in general—walked off their posts so long ago that the question is hard to assess.

(Could it be they were never on their posts? Yes, that's possible too! It's a point we expect to explore.)

Tomorrow, we'll return to a discussion we introduced last week. We'll return to the preface to Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, "the most important philosophy book of the 20th century."

It was rated the most important such book, but no one has the slightest idea what its author might have said! So it goes within a culture where academic elites, as a group, have walked away from their posts—have ceased to function as a "guardian" class. 

In our view, Philosophical Investigations could have served as a highly instructive guide to what might be called "daily logic." Hard to parse though its text may be, a great deal of instruction can be teased from its bewildering numbered passages.

No such effort has ever been undertaken. That said, we'll plow ahead with an attempt to define the gains which could have been made. Tomorrow, we'll return to Wittgenstein's attempts, in his preface, to describe his intentions in writing the book, and we'll discuss his attempts to describe his book's shortcomings.

For today, one particular news report filled us with instant despair. The statistical dumbness, how it burned! We'll describe that hurtful report in today's afternoon post.

As it turns out, we the people weren't designed to run something like a democracy. Our brains were wired for Storyline, and as it turns out, we're pretty much tribal pretty much all the way down.

Regarding the preface to which we've referred, we briefly discussed it last Wednesday. To review that discussion, click here.

We'll resume that discussion tomorrow. Next week, we'll move on to the start of the most important philosophy book's unexplored text.

Could a different approach to this book have helped? Alas! Even as we continue to work in the garden, we're going to stick with a no.

Tomorrow:  "I should have liked to produce a good book. That has not come about."

Did Quayle call Pence, or did Pence call Quayle?


As performed on Morning Joe: Yesterday morning, we made a point of watching Morning Joe. Woodward and Costa were going to be there to discuss their under-sourced new book.

Seven minutes into the segment, Woodward mentioned former Vice President Pence. Was he perhaps a bit too kind in what he said about Pence? 

WOODWARD (9/21/21): [As January 6 approaches], Pence is really working hard to see if he can do something to stay on the good side of Trump. At the same time, as Bob [Costa] pointed out, amidst Dan Quayle, who calls him and reads him the Constitution and the law and says, You are not an actor is this. You simply mechanically count the votes. And Pence is under lots of pressure from Trump, and his lawyers and confidantes are just saying, You cannot do this, and in the end Pence stood up and did the constitutional right thing. At the same time, when he's there and they're voting to certify, if he'd just said, "Oh, I'm confused" and walked off, we would have had worse than a constitutional crisis, because it would have undermined the legitimacy of the presidency.

In Woodward's account, Quayle called Pence and told him that he had to do the right thing. On January 6, Woodward says that Pence did exactly that, despite lots of pressure from Trump. 

This may not have been negative enough concerning Pence. Also, did Quayle call Pence or did Pence call Quayle? Continuing directly, Willie got the overall story back on track, while performing an unannounced correction:

GEIST (continuing directly): But Bob Costa, as you report in the book, Bob, it's, you know—he was fishing around, Vice President Pence, for a reason to get this done for President Trump, calling Vice President Quayle, who shut him down pretty quickly...

That was more like it! Willie stressed the way Pence was fishing around for a way to get the election undone. 

Also, in Willie's account, it was Pence who called Quayle, not the way Woodward had it. Heroically, Quayle shut him down!

How about it? Did Pence call Quayle, or did Quayle call Pence? Assuming that any of this occurred, it wouldn't exactly matter.

That said, when Maddow read from the book last Tuesday night, it was Pence who telephoned Quayle, and that is what it says in the book. ("In late December, Pence phoned former vice president Dan Quayle.") 

Yesterday morning, Woodward had that fact turned around. Willie simply plowed ahead, blowing past Woodward's apparent misstatement and getting the overall story back on track.

Did Pence call Quayle, or did Quayle call Pence? More importantly, what happened when the two men spoke, assuming they actually did? And on what basis can Woodward and Costa report what the two fellows said? 

On what basis should we assume that their account of this alleged call is actually accurate? Who or what is the source of their account, in which they literally quote substantial parts of this conversation?

As widely presented on liberal cable, this new book launched a pleasingly unflattering story about Pence. But on what basis should anyone think that Woodward and Costa's account of this matter is accurate? (It certainly may be, of course.)

These are the obvious questions to ask. But given the clownish way our upper-end corporate discourse works, none of the millionaires of "cable news" are ever going to ask them. Our discourse is Storyline all the way down, and the big players all know this.

You'd almost think that our logicians (or our "epistemologists") might speak up at some point. As it turns out, they have better things to do:

Revisionists versus Unitarians, they're debating the (unreadable) Theaetetus!

WE CALL IT READING A BOOK: Did Pence call Quayle, or did Quayle call Pence?


We call it reading a transcript: Yesterday morning, we made a point of watching the segment in question.

The bodacious Bobcats, Woodward and Costa, were scheduled to appear on Morning Joe. Their new book was extremely hot—and as with many of Woodward's books, it may have been perhaps a bit  and somewhat shakily sourced.

An irony lurks in that possibility. Back in the day, Woodward and Bernstein became iconic journalistic figures due to their Watergate reporting for the Washington Post.

Out of that iconic episode, an iconic story emerged. They'd managed to get (almost) everything right because their editor, the iconic Ben Bradlee, had required two (2) sources for their factual claims.

That was then, but this is now. Yesterday, over at Slate, Fred Kaplan described an alleged problem with Woodward's current techniques:

KAPLAN (9/21/21): [Woodward's books] follow a pattern, so consistent, over the past few decades, that it might be dubbed “Woodwardian.” The author amasses vast quantities of scoops, some of them extraordinary. He subjects them to little, if any, analysis. Instead, he channels his anecdotes through the viewpoints of well-known characters, who tend to be either heroes (who often coincide with sources who have told him a lot) or villains (who usually haven’t).

Thar she blows! If you cooperate with Woodward, you get treated as a hero in his subsequent book. If you refuse to be interviewed, you find yourself cast as a goat. So runs one of the allegations about Woodward's allegedly shaky methods over the past many years.

We never discuss our conversations with high-ranking federal officials. But way back in the 1990s, one such high-ranking federal official voiced this very complaint to us, explaining why he had turned out to be one of the goats in Woodward's latest Clinton-era book.

(For the record, we have no way of knowing if what we were told was accurate.)

This allegation about Woodward's technique has been somewhat widely voiced in recent decades. As he continued, Kaplan expanded on his theme:

KAPLAN (continuing directly): This last trait is common among Washington journalists who rely too much on insider sources, but Woodward takes the practice to extremes. The main hero in Peril, as many have noted, is Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is portrayed as the warrior-savior who kept the world at peace during Donald Trump’s most turbulent outbursts. Milley exaggerates, and Woodward lets him...

Woodward’s credulity of his favored sources taints his own credibility on matters large and small. For instance, there’s a passage describing the events of June 1, 2020, as protests are erupting, some violent, in reaction to the police killing of George Floyd. News footage that day revealed Milley strutting through the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., in combat fatigues, as if he were inspecting the troops in wartime. He was much criticized for this and, 10 days later, apologized. But Woodward treats the general’s wardrobe as innocuous, writing, “Milley left the White House and headed downtown to visit the FBI command post monitoring the demonstrations. Expecting a late night, he changed into his uniform of camouflage fatigues to be more comfortable.”

I have no doubt this is the explanation Milley fed him. I am stunned that, after 45 years of high-level journalism, Woodward still lacks a functioning bullshit detector.

Kaplan goes on to explain why he says that Woodward has taken "bullshit" from General Milley and presented it as fact. These complaints about Woodward's methods never go away.

In this instance, Woodward has told readers what Milley was "expecting" on the day in question. He has also told readers why Milley changed into his camouflage fatigues, but he's done these things without reporting his sources—without explaining how he can know that what he has written is true.

Woodward rose to fame on the strength of requiring two sources. Today, traditional sourcing of any kind rarely exists in his books.

In Woodward's easy-reader books, we're offered highly novelized easy-reader tales. We're supposed to assume that his statements are accurate, with zero questions asked.

General Milley was the hero of the passages in this book which were released for promotional purposes. At the same time, a pleasing villain was offered—former Vice President Pence.

Last Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow pleased us rubes with the standard account of Pence's supposed behavior. Concerning Pence, this was her nugget presentation:

MADDOW (9/14/21): In this new book, one of the things that [Woodward and Costa] report is that Mike Pence, in their telling, was far more reluctant to do his job, far more reluctant to do his constitutional duty than the public narrative has suggested. Bottom line, Vice President Pence didn't ultimately accede to Trump's wishes to block the certification of the election, to overturn the election results, to leave Trump in power or to render the election results unknowable. But it was not, apparently, for a lack of him trying to find a way to do that.

Thus spake the bulk of the liberal world's Cablethustra! Tomorrow, we'll show you more of what Maddow said that night—but as always, her account was tribally pleasing in the ultimate way.


How does Maddow know that Woodward's account is accurate? Even if she's interpreting the book's presentation correctly—we're not assuming that she is—how does she know that Woodward's account isn't just the latest version of bullshit? The latest punishment of a possible source who refused to come across?

As she pleased us flunkies that night, Maddow read at length from the pleasing new book. At some points, Woodward is explicitly quoting what Quayle and Pence are said to have said to each other during the phone call in question.


How is it possible for Woodward to quote the exact words these two fellows said? Did he have a tape? Did he have a transcript? What's the source for those quoted remarks?

Maddow, of course, didn't raise any such point. As he she performed her tribal services, Our Rhodes Scholar didn't ask.

Maddow's account was the first we saw of this exciting new book. As we watched her discuss Pence and Quayle, we were struck by her gullibility, or perhaps by her lack of something resembling honesty, as she performed in precisely the way a tribal bullshitter should.

Maddow recently scored a $30 million contract as a result of such faithful service. Tomorrow, we'll continue exploring this particular topic, the one involving what Pence and Quayle allegedly said and did, and what Pence allegedly wanted.

As for the service we've rendered today, we call it "reading a transcript." We also call it "an education," much as Tara Westover did.

Woodward's latest book has put pleasing stories in play. But to what extent should we believe that the stories are actually accurate?

None of our nation's vaunted logicians have managed to offer a word on this basic matter of Daily Logic. That said, our logicians walked off their posts long ago, Wittgenstein maybe among them.

Final question:

Did Pence call Quayle, or did Quayle call Pence? To see the comical way our discourse works, come back for this afternoon's compost.

We'll be quoting from Morning Joe. We made a point of watching.

Tomorrow: Back to Wittgenstein's Preface

The standards which govern our public discourse!


Speaking quite frankly, there are none: Consider the standards which now control the making of journalistic claims.

More specifically, consider the lack of such standards. Consider a claim by the New York Times' Charles Blow. Also, consider the links supplied by Blow in alleged support of his claim.

In fairness, Blow's claim is supported by our one extant rule of journalism. According to that one rule, any claim is accepted as true if it supports a sweeping denunciation of some group of Others.

In the case of Blow's most recent column, The Others are fingered in his headline: "White Evangelicals Shun Morality for Power." After a string of  pleasing non sequiturs concerning Franklin Graham, Blow moves on to the claim which is implied by the highlighted passage:

BLOW (9/20/21): I had grown up hearing from pulpits that it was the world that changed, not God’s word. The word was like a rock. A lie was a lie, yesterday, today and tomorrow, no matter who told it.

I had hoped that there were more white evangelicals who embraced the same teachings, who would not abide by the message the Grahams of the world were advancing, who would stand on principle.

But I was wrong. A report for the Pew Research Center published last week found that, contrary to an onslaught of press coverage about evangelicals who had left the church, disgusted by its embrace of the president, “There is solid evidence that white Americans who viewed Trump favorably and did not identify as evangelicals in 2016 were much more likely than white Trump skeptics to begin identifying as born-again or evangelical Protestants by 2020.”

Our question: 

At some point along the way, was there really "an onslaught of press coverage about evangelicals who had left the church, disgusted by its embrace of the president?"

We can't recall any such onslaught, though that doesn't settle the question. Meanwhile, the Pew report to which Blow refers doesn't describe any such onslaught of coverage. 

That said, Blow offers one link in support of the claim that some such "onslaught of press coverage" actually took place at some point. He links to an April 2019 first-person report at Religion & Politics, a relatively little-known online news journal.

In that first-person report, Bradley Oinishi, an  associate professor of religious studies at Skidmore College, describes what happened when he himself left evangelical movement for political reasons—when he left the evangelical movement back in 2005.

In the course of his report, Oinishi does refer to “Deconstructing My Religion,” a 26-minute CBS documentary "centered on the stories of the figures who started and have worked to sustain" people who have left the evangelical faith. 

The CBS program aired in December 2018, generating little discussion. As best we can tell, it wasn't focused on evangelicals who abandoned their faith due to Trump.

Did that "onslaught" ever take place? Was there ever "an onslaught of press coverage about evangelicals who had left the church, disgusted by its embrace of the president?" 

We don't know if any such onslaught ever took place. We do know these two things:

First, no one at the New York Times made Blow offer support for his claim. Also, this is the way our clownish discourse works at the highest levels.

Blow's column is a pastiche of non sequiturs and unsupported claims. This is the way a certain former president plays the game. It's also the way of our greatest journalists at the top of our clownish discourse.

Meanwhile, here's Fred Kaplan at Slate, discussing Robert Woodward's standards of evidence and proof. We may touch on that topic tomorrow—but our national culture, such as it is, is clownish all the way down.

Can a modern nation function this way? As Bruce Springsteen once advised, "Son, take a good look around."