Humans believe the darnedest things!


Nebraska state solon gone wild: A small but instructive news event appeared this Monday in the Washington Post.

It involved a state senator in the state of Nebraska. Nothing will turn on this news event, and yet it's highly instructive.

Jaclyn Peiser penned the report. It almost seemed like an early April Fool's joke. It involved a statement by state senator Bruce Bostelman. Peculiar headline included, the report began as shown:

GOP legislator backtracks on claims students meow, bark, use litter boxes

During a televised debate over a Nebraska school funding bill on Monday, Republican state Sen. Bruce Bostelman brought up an issue he found particularly troubling: furries.

“Schoolchildren dress up as animals—cats or dogs—during the school day; they meow, and they bark,” he said. “And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?”

But within hours of the debate, Bostelman backtracked and admitted the accusations were inaccurate.

“It was just something I felt that if this really was happening, we needed to address it and address it quickly,” Bostelman said, according to the Associated Press. 

Say what? Yes, it seems to be true. It even happened on television!

Crikey! According to the Associated Press, Bostelman had cited "a persistent but debunked rumor alleging that schools are placing litter boxes in school bathrooms to accommodate children who self-identify as cats." 

The solon had heard the persistent rumor—and he had believed it was true:

SCHULTE (3/28/22): Bostelman initially said he was “shocked” when he heard stories that children were dressing as cats and dogs while at school, with claims that schools were accommodating them with litter boxes.

“They meow and they bark and they interact with their teachers in this fashion,” Bostelman said during legislative debate. “And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?”


[T]he baseless rumor has spread across the country, and become fuel for political candidates, amid the culture wars and legislative action involving gender identification in schools.

Hours after his remarks, Bostelman backtracked and acknowledged that the story wasn’t true. He said he checked into the claims with state Sen. Lynne Walz, a Democrat who leads the Legislature’s Education Committee, and confirmed there were no such incidents.

People believe the craziest things—and no, it isn't just Ginni Thomas, who had apparently heard that "the Biden crime family" were being sent to the barges and had apparently believed that it might be true.

According to disconsolate experts, it's important to understand the extent to which we humans are able to believe the craziest things. These despondent, hand-wringing experts also tell us this:

It's important to understand the fact that people from every political stance are inclined to believe false claims. 

It's easy to think that crazy beliefs are only held by Others, not by people like Us. As a case in point, consider Dana Milbank's column from that very same day. In part, Milbank wrote this:

MILBANK (3/28/22): Recent advances in cognitive science suggest that highly intelligent people are more susceptible to “identity-protective cognition,” an unconscious process in which they use their intellect to justify rejecting facts inconsistent with their partisan identity.

“The really upsetting finding is that the better you are at particular types of cognitive tests … the better you are at manipulating the facts to reflect your prior beliefs, the more able you are to cognitively shape the world so it fits with your values,” says David Hoffman, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who studies cultural cognition. “You are able to take whatever unambiguous facts that exist in the world and run them through your own sausage-making mill to make it fit what you want.”

We all slip into such “motivated reasoning” to some degree, but it has been a particular problem on the right in recent years, where a combination of the Fox News effect and the weaponization of disinformation by Republican leaders has left a large chunk of the population disbelieving the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines and the reality of climate change but thinking that former president Barack Obama was born in Kenya and the 2020 election was stolen.

On the one hand, we agree! Crazy belief has become a major problem on the right in recent years. That said, Milbank may have slipped into the type of "motivated reasoning" which leads us liberals to believe that it only happens Over There, where The Others can be found living in mental squalor.

In fact, the tribunes of our own failing tribe have convinced us liberals of a wide array or misleading or bogus facts over the past several decades. In the past ten years, most of these bogus or misleading beliefs have involved issues of gender or race.

Those are the only topics we're still prepared to pretend we care about. Borrowing from Professor Hoffman's presentation, our "identities" are deeply connected to these (important) topics.

Milbank's column appeared beneath this pleasing headline:

Why do smart Republicans say stupid things?

"Careful, Milbank," one analyst cried. "We still read your columns!"

TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS: And now, a word from CNN's analysts!


The scripting of one of our worlds: It was Tuesday morning, March 22, in the year 2022. As the Senate committee took its first break, five senators—out of 22 in all!—had questioned Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden's nominee to sit on the Supreme Court.

In fact, very little had happened. Three of the senators had been Democrats. Playing a now-traditional role, they'd lobbed softballs at the nominee of the president of their own party.

Meanwhile, the first of the two Republican senators had been the doddering Senator Grassley, who is currently running for re-election at the age of 88. During his allotted thirty minutes, the doddering Grassley had read a list of staff-prepared questions, showing little interest in, or awareness of, what the nominee said. 

At this point in the proceedings, only one senator had questioned the nominee in anything like a challenging manner. That was Senator Lindsey Graham, who would soon be the focus of an instructive session on CNN.

That silly session showcased the way denizens of our Two Different Worlds receive their tribal scripting—the way they "receive all that false instruction," as the poet once said. The session showcased the way such denizens are instructed in what they should think and in what they should say—in what they should believe, and in what they should feel.

After the doddering Senator Feinstein had finished her own round of questions, the Senate committee took a 15-minute break. Kate Bolduan introduced the CNN panel. 

Jeffrey Toobin was first to speak. When he did, he said this:

BOLDUAN (3/22/22): A lot to discuss. Let me bring in the panel right now. Let me get first to CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, what have you heard so far?

TOOBIN: Well, it's certainly been an interesting morning. And to just cut to the chase, I certainly have not heard anything that would jeopardize the confirmation chances of Judge Jackson. She has not been thrown off stride. She has not said anything that seems particularly controversial.

She has explained her judicial approach, which she calls a methodology as opposed to a philosophy. But just in terms of the outcome that is likely to come here with, you know a Democratic majority on the committee and in the Senate, there doesn't seem to be anything that came out this morning that would jeopardize your chances.

As usual, in these hearings, it's quite clear that the nominee, especially this nominee, knows about a hundred times more about the law than any of these senators do, and that has come out whenever they have discussed specific issues and specific cases. But it has been smooth sailing for Judge Jackson.

According to Toobin, Supreme Court nominees typically "know about a hundred times more about the law than any of these senators do." He said that had been "especially" clear in the case of Judge Jackson. 

We don't know if either part of that assessment is accurate. For ourselves, Jackson's testimony to that point hadn't seemed to set her apart from previous nominees to the Court—but then again, she'd faced little serious questioning from four of the five senators who had spoken with her to that point.

Did pundit Toobin really believe that Jackson's performance had already set her apart in this way? We have no way of knowing that. We can tell you this:

The notion that Jackson was the most qualified nominee in Supreme Court history had already been established as a standard talking point of our childish blue tribe. 

There is, of course, no serious way to demonstrate the accuracy of any such assessment. But that claim has been asserted, again and again, as tribunes of our failing tribe have instructed us, the rubes, concerning the various things we should think and say about this nomination, which we should of course describe as "historic."

Toobin may have been fully sincere in every word he said. He said that Jackson hadn't disqualified herself to that point, an utterly pointless assessment.

It had been an interesting morning, he said, without citing anything of any interest that anyone had actually said. Toobin had basically phoned it in—and now the harder messaging started:

BOLDUAN (continuing directly): CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates, with us as well. Laura, how do you think the judge has done so far?

COATES: I think she's doing phenomenally well and I will note, of course, that I am twinning in her outfit inadvertently. But let me tell you, that's really where the comparison stop because she is phenomenally talented in what she's doing.

Of course, it's her fourth time being before the Judiciary Committee, so she's well aware of the stakes and what needs to be done in order to make sure that she is conveying her intellect in a way that is persuasive, that is compelling, and really showcases what she's all about...

At this point, Judge Jackson had been "questioned" by three softball-lobbing Democrats, and by the doddering Grassley. Very, very, very little had actually happened at that point. 

The challenges to Jackson, such as they were, were yet to come.

Jackson had barely been questioned to this point, let alone challenged in any serious way. Of the five senators, only Graham had posed any challenging questions, and he and Jackson had agreed, again and again, on a long series of points.

Despite this fact, Coates was eager to let viewers know what they should be thinking about the nominee—about a nominee who hadn't yet been tested. This is the way we're now told what to think and say, believe and feel, within our Two Different Worlds.

According to Coates, the nominee had been "doing phenomenally well." Almost surely, that was because of the fact that she is "phenomenally talented." 

More specifically, the nominee had "conveyed her intellect in a way which [was] compelling!" In this way, CNN viewers were gaining instruction in what they should say, think and feel. 

At this point, Coates moved on. She offered an assessment of Graham's questioning—an assessment which strikes us as stupendously hard to defend, except within the part of the world where tribalized fairy tale dwells.

Where Jackson was "phenomenally talented"—better than the rest, Toobin had said—Graham would now be cast in the demon role. 

How do our nation's Two Different Worlds take their shape and gain their form?  In part, through manifest bullshit like this from party-line players like Coates:

COATES (continuing directly): I will say the moments for Senator Lindsey Graham were perhaps the most shocking of the day.

The discussions of trying, on the one hand, to educate the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States, to try to attempt to educate her on double standards in America, was just too rich for me. 

So was the notion of him trying to use the time to think he squandered a great deal, squandering the time pointing out the ideas of other past nominees as opposed to focusing on this particular person.

Discussions about Judge Childs and the idea of so-called conservatives and other rounds as well, attacking and asking her about what she knew about these attacks on social media, as opposed to what she knew about the law, was a missed opportunity to elevate the conversation.

And finally, the discussion she had about the sentencing, as it relates to child pornography as well as sex offenders, I think she handled it very well to talk about, thematically about the departures from sentencing guidelines. Why they can at times be appropriate for the nuances about it. 

But her most strong line to me was when she said and was asked about Senator Josh Hawley's comments. As a mother, as a judge, nothing could be further from the truth, that she was leaning in on these offenders. It's a very powerful talking point that was used against her. I think she undermined it particularly well.

We apologize for the occasional incoherence of the CNN transcript. The channel doesn't waste its time proofreading such documents.

We watched this segment in real time. We think this transcript captures its essence, in large part because the "legal analysis" being offered went so far over the top.

Fellow citizens, had there really been anything "shocking" about Graham's questions this day? In Tuesday's report, we noted the strangeness of that claim—especially when it was specifically directed at the questions Graham had posed about those "double standards," in which Graham had dared to try "to educate...the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States."

At that moment, Coates brought in the eternal note of messaging concerning matters of race. Jackson was phenomenally talented, but Graham—who is white—had been trying to "educate" her about something. Given the fact that Jackson is black, this attempt had been "shocking."

Plainly, Coates was referring to the first ten minutes of Graham's session, in which he complained about the way Republicans nominees to the Court had allegedly been treated in the past. How dare the white guy talk to the phenomenally talented black woman about some such matter as that? 

Coates is almost always useless as a cable news analyst. But in this moment, she was instructing one of our Two Different Worlds in the things we should think, say and feel.

Tomorrow, we'll note the ridiculous way those initial questions by Graham have been viewed within our liberal tribe. First, though, we should visit the third pundit to speak this day, Nia-Malika Henderson.

In our view, Henderson is typically far superior to Coates as a cable news analyst. On this day, she completed the hat trick. Henderson said the nominee had knocked it out of the park.

Bolduan played tape of Jackson's statements—to the highly supportive Durbin—about the child pornography cases in which she had ruled as a judge. (Later in this session, Toobin referred to these cases as examples of "kiddie porn.") When Bolduan threw to Henderson, Henderson offered this:

BOLDUAN: You can feel the heat there, Nia. I mean, what did you—what did you think of that?

HENDERSON: Yes, incredibly moving to see her. I had first heard that just on the radio. I was driving in to work, but to see her there so moved, almost crying and certainly emotional in that moment, thinking about the victims of child pornography.

So this idea that you hear from Senator Hawley, saying that she's gone soft on child pornographers, she had a very, I think, compelling comeback, we'll see later on in these hearings what Senator Hawley has to say in terms of this line of attack, because I thought Dick Durbin obviously set her up for this very compelling pushback against these, you know, very, very untrue charges that somehow she is soft on crime, or generally, and specifically, soft on child porn...

Out of embarrassment for CNN, we'll turn our camera off here. We'll skip the astounding dumbness of the latter part of Henderson's presentation, in which Jackson's slender account of her "methodology" as a judge was praised to the skies.

("Given her methodology, it's clear that she likes to clear the decks, as she said, when she approaches these different issues as a judge," Henderson said. In Jackson's very slender telling, that seemed to mean that she likes to approach all cases impartially.)

By now, it wasn't just that Judge Jackson had done phenomenally well in the early questioning, due to her phenomenal talent. It had also been incredibly moving to see her very compelling pushback against the charges by Senator Hawley—against charges which were very, very untrue.

She had almost been crying! Also, she spoke as a mom!

Of course, Hawley hadn't voiced his charges yet—and Henderson did manage to say that Jackson's very compelling comeback had been offered in response to Senator Durbin, who "had obviously set her up" for her compelling rejoinder. 

But the messaging went on and on. So did the assault on our nation's rather limited political intellect.

The performance by these CNN stars was about as dumb and scripted as cable news dumbness and scripting can get. Their performance stands as "legal analysis" in much the way that "Dick and Jane" qualifies as the great American novel.

Judge Jackson had barely been questioned yet, but so what? She had made her compelling intellect show, thanks to her phenomenal talent. 

She'd offered very compelling pushback against charges which were very, very untrue. According to Toobin, she was more capable than nominees in the past, presumably those of both parties.

Also, a white guy had tried to question or challenge her! Coates instructed us that we should find his temerity "shocking," but also "rich." It's hard to have sufficient contempt for unhelpful players like this.

Days later, a column in the Washington Post made this dumbness even dumber. But as you watch these corporate stooges pretend to offer legal analysis, you're seeing a basic fact about the shaping of the Two Different Worlds within our American polity. 

Nothing that we've said today is offered as a criticism of Judge Jackson, who has had a very substantial legal and judicial career. For ourselves, we weren't blown away by her performance during these hearings. But we're speaking today about four stooges out of the CNN stable.

The stooges were instructing us about the things we should think and say. No discouraging words were heard during their pundit session. And of course, this same process—this same segregation by tribe of all information and all opinion—is conducted on an hourly basis on the Fox News Channel, and across the "conservative" world.

In these ways, the Two Different Worlds of our failing nation are told what to think and to say. On the brighter side, the cable actors are well paid, and their party-line conduct seems to be good for ratings and corporate profits. 

Dissenters have long since disappeared from the lineups of the two competing sides. This allows us the people to select the cartoon we prefer.

Meanwhile, was it true? Had Graham's attempt to "educate" Jackson about those "double standards" really been "shocking" in some way? As far as that goes, had he been trying to "educate" Jackson at all?

The future column to which we've referred came from the Washington Post's Paul Kane. Anthropologists admit to terminal dismay in the face of such human behavior, but it's clearly part of the way we're now consigned to life in our Two Different Worlds.

Tomorrow: Journalist Kane. Also, questions from Hawley

The Two Americas have split up again!


So proclaims The Atlantic: Here in our self-impressed, self-assured town, there's nothing quite like a distraction. At Slate, and at The Daily Beast, they've pretty much mastered the artform:

R. ERIC THOMAS / MARCH 30, 2022 / 6:00 AM
Help! I Faked Having COVID. Twice.

That's an example from Slate.

On Sunday night, Will Smith gifted the world with the mother of all distractions. Everyone gets to talk about it. For the next however many days, no one will be required to think about anything else.

Now for a word from the people who script us:

It's especially good when pundits can tie a high-profile distraction to a high-profile preferred tribal narrative. That's the route Jemele Hill took over at The Atlantic, where the headlines on her new essay are now telling us this:

The Two Americas Debating Will Smith and Chris Rock
Black people and white people aren’t necessarily discussing the Oscars slap in the same way.

"The Two Americas" have been debating this new distraction—or at least so the headlines say. In this case, the two Americas don't seem to be red versus blue. They seem to be black and white.

Jemele Hill is a good, decent person. We used to watch her at ESPN. We read her at The Atlantic.

We'll assure you that Hill is a good, decent person. But in this case, we want you to think about the possible ways our tribe tends to throw away votes.

"The two Americas" is a sensitive subject no matter which crayons you use. According to the headlines on Hill's essay, the two Americas aren't necessarily discussing the Oscars slap in the same way—which means that they possibly are!

In that sense, that headline is analytically soft, but it carries a bolt of frisson. Here's the way Hill's actual text nails her analysis down:

HILL (3/28/22): What has developed since that unforgettable moment at the Oscars is a classic “two Americas” conversation. By that I mean: Black people and white people aren’t necessarily talking about the incident in the same way. That much was evident in the celebrity reaction. Tiffany Haddish, a Black actor and comedian who starred with Jada Pinkett Smith in the blockbuster movie Girls Trip, told People: “When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife, that meant so much to me.” To my eyes, Black commentators were more willing to joke about the incident—perhaps because, as Will Packer, the television and film megaproducer who oversaw the Oscars broadcast, tweeted after the show, “Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it.”

In contrast, Judd Apatow, a director who is white, tweeted that Smith “could have killed” Rock. “That’s pure out of control rage and violence,” Apatow continued. “They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshman [sic] in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind.” Apatow has since deleted this tweet.

The radio shock jock Howard Stern even went so far as to compare Smith to former President Donald Trump. “This is how Trump gets away with shit,” Stern said on his show. “Will Smith and Trump are the same guy. He decided he’s going to take matters into his own hands.”

Hoo boy.

People, let's count the black and white Americans! (Needless to say, only "the celebrity reaction" will be taken into account.)  

As best we can tell, Hill has mentioned the reactions of two different black Americans, and also of two different white Americans. That creates an "N" of 4—and on the basis of that N, Hill is thrilling us with the idea that "the two Americas" may have broken up all over again.

Everyone knows that doesn't make sense—everyone except some editor who draws pay from The Atlantic. As a matter of fact, Hill also knows that it doesn't make sense! This is the way she continued:

HILL (continuing directly): I’m not saying that all Black people agree with Haddish or that all white people agree with Apatow and Stern; one poll found that, across racial lines, most Americans think Smith shouldn’t have slapped Rock. But I can’t help but notice the disproportionate outrage that many people in white America—and many in the Hollywood elite—are showing. According to The New York Post, unnamed industry insiders already are asking whether Smith’s award should be rescinded. The Academy announced that it will conduct its own investigation and “will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.” 

Hill isn't saying that all white people have reacted the same way the two named celebrity jerk-offs did. So how does she defend the claim that "the two Americas" have split up all over again?

Simple! Based on something she read in The New York Post, an unnamed number of unnamed "industry insiders" have asked whether Smith’s Oscar should be clawed back! On the basis of that additional non-evidence evidence, The Atlantic waved this analytical dreck into print.

The moral to our story is clear:

When it comes to the pimping of mandated Storyline, it's fast sledding all the way down. Our silly tribe has reached the point where we churn out analytical dreck of this type in the way all other folk breathe.

Some editor waved the dreck into print; we tribals thrill to the tale. Out there in the middle American world, some votes may drift a bit toward Trump, who we've already managed to help get elected once.

Jemele Hill is a good decent person; we can't vouch for the hapless editor who waved this dreck into print. That said, our pundit class was handed a wonderful gift this past Sunday night—the gift of an utterly pointless unusual celebrity scuffle. 

It's barely worth talking about at all. We'll discuss it all through the week.

It's even better when we can link the distraction to one of our tribe's Storylines. We will now repeat a claim we've mentioned in the past:

We're surprised that conservatives aren't more annoyed by the endless dreck of this type which proceeds from the streets of Our Town. There's nothing so dumb we won't run out and say it, just so long as it thrills us like this.

Someone faked having Covid. Twice! The Atlantic is faking division.

Separation now, separation tomorrow. Separation forever!

TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS: Our tribe's chimps, pursuing theirs!


Planet of the chimps: It happens every once in a while. By that, we mean "extremely rarely."

Every once in a while, in the 5 A.M. hour, we receive a tiny glimpse of the ultimate anthropology. It happened early this morning, as we executed our standard pre-Morning Joe rounds:

[W]e are living today in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution and the Economic Revolution, which makes the world profoundly different from any previous era. And now, having barely mastered basic science and economics, we're barreling toward the Digital Revolution with hardly a thought about how that will change the world just as profoundly. Mass unemployment will prompt revolts that make the Luddites look like monks and will likely kill off liberal democracy. With luck, we'll avoid being too stupid and greedy about this transition and both liberal democracy and market economics 1.0 will be replaced with something better and far more rewarding for future generations. But there are no guarantees. It's usually not a good idea to bet against greed and stupidity whenever the overclocked apes h. sapiens are involved.

To peruse the full post, just click here

For the record, we don't have the slightest idea what our source was talking about. We don't know if our (highly-regarded) source knows what he himself was talking about!

That said, the analysts cheered. They rarely get to see our species analyzed / critiqued on the species level. They rarely get to hear it said:

The sheer stupidity of our species is one of its prime calling cards.

(With respect to the meaning of "overclocked," you can just click this.)

The power of the stupidification has been general this week. We'd start by citing the primal need to comment, endlessly and at length, about what happened on Oscar night.

We have the war in Ukraine to discuss. We have the death of Antarctica.

We have the report about Los Angeles schools, a report we'll cite below. But what do our "journalists" really want to discuss?

Our "journalists" really want to discuss the behaviors of famous celebrities. They'll talk about it, then talk and talk. It's all we humans care about. It's all we really know.

Let's move to something you'll never see discussed, except at this site next week. We refer to this report in the Washington Post by someone we've never met but are strongly inclined to admire.

We share the old school system tie with Jay Mathews—also the old college tie. When he was at Hillsdale, we were at Aragon, three miles up The Alameda. For a couple of years, we were enrolled at the very same college at the very same time.

We love his "born in California" vibe, and he's had an impressive career. We strongly tends toward opposite instincts. The headlines atop his report in the Washington Post say this:

Big urban school districts can improve, but it’s complicated and messy
Why did Los Angeles get better? Scholars say it’s because factions cooperated, sort of.

The report appeared in Monday's print editions. Because it doesn't deal with the minor behaviors of Tinseltown stars—because it deals with the actual lives of the nation's children and teenagers—you will never hear this report, or this topic, discussed.

The topic in question is public schools—the public school of our low-income kids. The report is based upon a new book. You can get the basic gist here:

MATHEWS (3/28/22): How are the schools doing in your neighborhood?... A meaningful account of what’s going on requires many more words than most readers have time for.

Still, it’s worth doing. The best new example is a project that unleashed several scholars on our nation’s second largest city and culminated with this book: “When Schools Work: Pluralist Politics and Institutional Reform in Los Angeles.” The author is Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California at Berkeley....

I was born in the Los Angeles area. I live there now. I have done many stories about schools in that big district, including one so intriguing I decided at age 43 to spend the rest of my life as an education reporter. But I have never seen any book dive as deeply as this one has into how Los Angeles achieved, at least for a while, an elusive goal: significant improvement in student achievement even among disadvantaged children.

Like all such gains, the results in Los Angeles over the last two decades have to be qualified. The book’s most interesting conclusion is that a combination of more spending, better lessons and new kinds of schools correlated with improved learning for all groups...


Fuller summed it up this way: “The behemoth institution of L.A. Unified, written off as hapless and ineffectual, came alive with a pulse, a beating heart. Reading and math scores for Latino and white students proceeded to climb (more than one grade level) over the subsequent two decades, as gauged by a careful federal assessment of learning in L.A., finally leveling off in 2019. 

The "careful federal assessment" in question is, of course, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the Naep). See page 64!

Is it true? Has the Los Angeles Unified School District "achieved significant improvement in student achievement even among disadvantaged children?" Did a specific array of reforms really produce "improved learning for all groups" over the course of two decades?

You'll never see our media stars discuss such tedious questions. The reason is simple. Our media stars don't care about the good, decent kids who attend the Los Angeles schools.

They care about Will Smith and Chris Rock. They care about Jada Pinkett. They long to discuss minor events involving such wealthy and famous Tinseltown stars. In the end, were the truth to be told, they long to do nothing else.

We were surprised by Mathews' report, but also by Fuller's book. That said, we only attained that state after we'd fact-checked the explicit and suggested claim that the Los Angeles Unified School District has shown unusual test score gains over the past twenty years, caused by a specific web of reforms.

We'll report our specific findings next week. In the meantime, every media star you know is discussing Will and Chris and Jada and all the other angels and saints.

(Amy Schumer? She's still "triggered and traumatized," "in shock and stunned and sad." Or at least, so the modest Tinseltown star has been willing to admit. We learned these key facts at The Daily Beast, which then directed us here.)

Everywhere we looked in the 5 A.M. hour, we encountered the world of the chimps. We're going to avoid specific examples. Thanks to our powerful inner ear, we hear the way our overclocked species' voices howl whenever prime script is challenged.

Our media stars have been chattering about Will and Chris and Jada. As a general matter, they have little to say about these events, and a contractual obligation to say it. Inevitably, the New York Times assembled this ridiculous Gang of Four to beat this event half to death.

The chimps have been running through the streets, just as they did last week. This week, they're all about Will and Chris. Last week, it was the confirmation hearings.

At CNN, our chimps gathered in a group to chase their chimps around. Having watched large parts of the hearings, we thought our chimps very strongly tended to overstate the misbehavior exhibited by theirs.

Nowhere was this tendency put on display more than on CNN. Also, on The Last Word—though MSNBC has apparently pulled the plug on reporting what Lawrence has said. 

(As we type, it has been more than two weeks since the channel posted a transcript.)

Our source this morning spoke the truth—our comically self-impressed species is numbered among the apes. We humans have a hard time with "basic science." For our ranking journalists, statistics are boring and hard.

Tomorrow, we'll return to the quest of showing you what our chimps said last week.

This week, they're chattering about Will and Chris. Will and Chris are very rich and famous. Truth to tell, the high-ranking chimps of our own gong-show tribe care about no one else.

Tomorrow: First statements by our own tribe's chimps

Friday: "Help me understand"

Identity sifting all the way down!


Today, tomorrow, forever: On Sunday evening, in Tinseltown, Chris Rock was conducting a somewhat typical "middle school"-style roast. 

Amy Schumer had already told at least one very good joke. As we noted yesterday, her very good joke went like this:

This year, the academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man.

As we noted yesterday, we don't know if Tinseltown's pay scales are really anything like that. But really good jokes evade fact-checks, and that was a darn good joke!

On this unfortunate occasion, Rock's joke pretty much wasn't. (His joke about Rihanna in 2016 was much more invasive, tasteless and worse.) Elsewhere, he's done superlative work.

Rock delivered his roast-style joke; Will Smith didn't like it. The next day, Kevin Drum tried to parse the whole thing out. At the start of a short, somewhat whimsical post, it looks like he got it wrong:

DRUM (3/28/22): It seems like the whole Will Smith-Chris Rock thing needs some added juice to keep it going. But what? They're both Black, so there's no racial angle. They're both cis men, so there's no gender or sexual orientation angle...

Boomer, please! Drum was already wrong on at least two points:

Within our low-IQ national culture, incidents of this type never need added juice. Concerning the search for a racial angle, within our failing liberal / progressive tribe, there's always a batch of identity angles waiting to be put on display when such incidents occur. 

Enter Karen Attiah. In this morning's Washington Post, she was granted a large display for an identity-soaked column about this basically stupid incident.

The various statements in Attiah's column can't be said to be "wrong."  But her perceptions are identity-fueled pretty much all the way down.

Her column is fully identity-soaked. She even works a shot at "ableism" into her endless critique.

That doesn't mean that her various statements are "wrong." Her column does help us see why our liberal / progressive tribe is able to lose so many elections at this point in time.

We may critique Attiah's column line by line on some bright sunny day. Today, it would be too depressing.

Instead, we'll close with a second pretty good joke. This one is drawn from the comments to Attiah's column:

A black guy hits another black guy, and white people get blamed.

Who could have seen that coming……

As with Schumer's joke, so too here. "White people get blamed?" We're not even sure that happens in Attiah's column (though almost everything does).

That said, the commenter plainly comes close enough for political comedy work. In truth, Attiah's column is obsessive, unintelligent, just not very smart. Also, it's plainly designed to lose votes.

"Who could have seen that coming?" To his vast credit, not Drum!

TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS: CNN's pundits arrived on the scene!


Delivering script to one world: Last night, we watched the thirty minutes all over again. We even jotted down notes.

We were watching for maybe the third or fourth time. In truth, we saw nothing which struck us as shocking. We saw nothing which even came close.

We refer to Lindsey Graham's thirty-minute exchange with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Tuesday morning, March 22. You can watch the whole thing yourselves, through the underutilized miracle of this C-Span videotape.

(Click on "Sen. Graham Questions.")

On that occasion, Graham became the fourth senator (out of 22!) to interview Jackson during last week's confirmation hearings. To our eye, the thirty minutes proceeded roughly like this:

For something like the first ten minutes, Graham voiced a series of complaints about the way other nominees to federal courts had been treated in the past. He never suggested that any of this had been Judge Jackson's doing or fault. 

As we suggested yesterday, the comity was general during this part of the session. Now, Graham turned to a new line of questioning, and this exchange occurred:

GRAHAM (3/22/22): So now let's talk about Gitmo. Being a public defender, did you consider that rewarding?

JACKSON: Senator, yes, I did, because public service is very important to me. It is an important family value. It is something that now I dedicated my career to.

GRAHAM: Yes. And do you think it's important to the system that everybody be represented?

JACKSON: Absolutely. It's a core constitutional value.

GRAHAM: You'll get no complaint from me. That was my job in the Air Force. I was an Air Defense Counsel. I represented anybody that came in the door, whether I liked them or not. I did my best. Is that what you did?

JACKSON: Yes, sir.

GRAHAM: Okay, good. Now, so the American people deserve a system where everybody's represented, whether you like them or not, and anybody who takes up that cause, no problem with me. You're just doing your job and I think you make our country stronger.

The pair were still playing together quite nicely at this point. 

At this point, Graham finally began to voice an objection to an amicus brief Jackson had filed while representing a Gitmo detainee. 

As we'll show you below, it eventually became clear that Graham thought the amicus brief had been very poorly advised. But even this part of the interview started off in this cheerful way:

GRAHAM (continuing directly): But there's the other side of the story that never gets mentioned when I talk about Gitmo. The American people deserve a system that can keep terrorists off the battlefield. They deserve a system that understands the difference between being at war and in crime. 

Do you consider 9/11—you said "a terrible tragic event." Would you consider it an act of war?

JACKSON: Yes, Senator.

GRAHAM: Okay. I would too. I think it was an act of war byAl Qaeda and associated groups against the people of the United States.

So, as you are rightfully proud of your services as a public defender and you represented Gitmo detainees, which is part of our system, I want you to understand, and the nation to understand, what's been happening at Gitmo. 

What's the recidivism rate at Gitmo?

JACKSON: Senator, I'm not aware.

GRAHAM: It's 31 percent. How does that strike you? Is that high, low, about right?

JACKSON: I don't know how it strikes me overall.

GRAHAM: You know how it strikes me? It strikes me as terrible.

JACKSON: Yes, that's what I was going to say.

GRAHAM: Okay, good. We found common ground.

Even as the new discussion began, the pair still held common ground. 

Lacking a background in the law, we can't say that we really understand the discussion which followed. Nor have we seen any major pundits attempt to clarify what was said for the benefit of us non-experts. 

But Graham seemed to say that Jackson's brief had been an exercise in poor judgment. We can't evaluate that claim, but as the clock struck 11:05 A.M. that day, here's what he eventually said:

GRAHAM: I'm not holding the clients' views against you. Like the people you represented at Gitmo, they deserve representation. 

But this is a amicus brief, where you and other people try to persuade the court to change policy.

The policy I described is a periodic review. If the court had taken the position argued in the brief that you signed upon, it would have to release these people [from Gitmo] or try them. 

In some of them, the evidence we can't disclose, because it's classified. You're putting America in an untenable position. This is not the way you fight a war. If you try to do this in World War II, they'd run you out of town. 

We hold enemy combatants as a threat. There's no magic passage of time that you've got to let go. 

So my question is very simple. Do you support the idea, did you support then the idea then, that indefinite detention of an enemy combatant is unlawful?

JACKSON: Respectfully, Senator, when you are an attorney and you have clients who come to you, whether they pay or not, you represent their positions before the court.

GRAHAM: I'm sure everybody at Gitmo wants out. I got that. 

This is an amicus brief. And I just don't understand what you're saying, quite frankly. 

I'm not holding it against you because you represented a legal position I disagree with. I mean, that happens all the time. I'm just trying to understand what made you join this cause, and you say somebody hired you.

But did you feel OK in adopting that cause? I mean, when you signed on to the brief, were you not advocating that position to the court?

JACKSON: Senator, as a judge now, in order to determine the lawfulness or unlawfulness of any particular issue, I need to receive briefs and information, making positions on all sides.

GRAHAM: I got what a judge is all about. Listen, I'm not asking you to decide the case in front of me right here. 

I'm asking you to explain a position you took as a lawyer regarding the law of war. And I am beyond confused. 

I know what you said in your brief. Whether I agree with it or not is not the point. I just want you to understand that it's important for all of us to know where you were coming from. 

If that brief had been accepted by the court, it would be impossible for us to fight this war because there's some people who are going to die in jail in Gitmo and never go to trial for a lot of good reasons, because the evidence against them is so sensitive, we can't disclose it to the public. 

We're not charging them with a crime. What we're doing is saying that you engaged in hostile activities against the United States, that you are an enemy combatant under our law and you'll never be released as long as you're a danger until the war is over or you're no longer a danger. That's the difference between fighting a crime and a war.

It seemed to us that Jackson was uncomfortable during the bulk of this lengthy discussion. In the portion we've just posted, we couldn't tell whether Graham's overall position about Jackson's past conduct actually made good sense. At times, it seemed to us that Jackson was looking for ways to avoid Graham's questions, but we can't exactly be sure.

At any rate, it never seemed to us that Graham was asking some sort of inappropriate question, or that Jackson wasn't being given every chance to answer and explain. And we're sorry, but no:

It never seemed to us that Graham was conducting himself, during this thirty-minute session, in a way which was hostile, rude or otherwise inappropriate. We couldn't evaluate some of his claims, but his deportment struck us as normal.

A few additional lines of question followed before his thirty minutes were done. (And yes, he ended on time.) Those questions were pursued in a somewhat cursory fashion—but on at least one occasion, overt comity prevailed again.

Having said that, we'll also say this about Graham's initial thirty minutes:

We lack the background which would let us evaluate the discussion about that amicus brief.  Near the end of the session, a few of Graham's concerns struck us perhaps as a bit petty. 

That said, most of his concerns didn't strike us that way. Beyond that, we're forced to say it:

We saw nothing that was inappropriate, insulting or rude in the course of Graham's discussion this day. He often complimented Judge Jackson. They agreed on quite a few points.

For us, that's the way the session seemed—until the gigantic Senate committee took its first fifteen-minute break. At that point, CNN's pundit panel came center stage, and we got a chance to see part of the process by which we in this country have come to be living in (at least) two different worlds.

Yesterday, we showed you some of what was said on CNN during that first break. Tomorrow, we'll show you more.

As Americans, we live in at least two different worlds, with many micro-worlds forming. In our view, each of those worlds is badly served by the various "jugglers and clowns" who script our childish narrative dreams, who rush to tell us what we should think and also what we should say.

Tomorrow: "Shocking" and beyond

There was at least one really good joke last night!

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2022

Transcript on demand: There was at least one great joke at the Oscars last night. It came early in the opening monologue, when we were still watching:

Amy Schumer: This year, the academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man.

By any measure, that was a good, solid, unimpeachable, straight-ahead top-shelf zinger. (For the record, we don't know what actual male/female salary gaps in Tinseltown may actually be like at this time.)

Concerning the evening's later joke that roared, so taste levels in the comedy world have gone. But so too with almost everything else in the realm of popular entertainment and popular pseudo-journalism. (The History Channel now earns its keep with shows about ancient aliens.)

From the journalistic realm, we offer this observation:

It's often hard to find transcripts of important public events. Also, MSNBC may have decided to suspend the practice all over again. (As we type, it has now been 13 days since the channel posted new transcripts.)

That said, you don't have to wonder what was said in last night's opening monologue. Perhaps a bit laughably, the New York Times has provided a transcript of this historic event!

In fairness, that one joke was a stone-cold zinger. Thanks to the possibly childish cultural standards of the Times, the entire opening monologue belongs to the ages now.

STARTING TOMORROW: Two different worlds!

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2022

Graham's shocking attack: Last Tuesday, the actual questioning began just after 10:40 A.M. 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson had been nominated to serve on the United States Supreme Court. A sprawling, 22-member Senate committee was now pretending to engage in the process of trying to decide whether to give its consent.

The actual questioning began with Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Leahy (D-VT) had already lobbed supportive softballs at the nominee. Senator Grassley (R-IA) had methodically read a list of questions his staff had prepared, showing no sign of knowing or caring whether the questions had been answered.

In that sense, the actual questioning started with Graham. Within less than an hour, his first line of questioning would be described as "shocking." For the record, that line of questioning started exactly like this:

GRAHAM (3/22/22): Thank you, Judge. Again, congratulations.

I want to talk to you a little bit about family and faith, because in your opening statement, and the people who introduced you to the committee, there was very glowing praise of you as a person, a good friend. 

You have a wonderful family. You should be proud. And your faith matters to you.

Many of Judge Jackson's family members were indeed present that day. Also, Jackson had referred to her faith in God at two separate points in the opening statement she had delivered the day before.

Her lifelong friend, Professor Lisa Fairfax, had also cited Jackson's religious faith as she formally introduced Judge Jackson to the giant, generally unimpressive Senate committee. There's no reason why Fairfax shouldn't have done that, and Graham made no such suggestion.

"You have a wonderful family. You should be proud." So Graham dared to say, right at the start of his shocking line of inquiry. 

This initial line of questioning extended for slightly more than three minutes. During that period, Graham added these additional shocking remarks:

He said, at two separate points, that he felt sure that Judge Jackson  could set aside her own religious beliefs to judge others fairly. 

(Graham: "I couldn't agree with you more, and I believe you can.")

He agreed with Jackson that there is, and should be, no religious test for federal office. 

("There will be none with me," Graham said.)

As Graham's shocking conduct continued, so did these shocking accusations. Indeed, a bit later in those first three minutes, he launched such shocking attacks as these:

GRAHAM: I have no doubt that your faith is important to you. And I have zero doubt that you can adjudicate people's cases fairly if they're an atheist. 

If I had any doubt, I would say so.


GRAHAM: So Judge, you should be proud of your faith. I am convinced that, whatever faith you have, and how often you go to church, it will not affect your ability to be fair. 

In such ways, Graham repeatedly gave voice to his shocking attacks. Along the way, he also revealed the rationale behind his shocking conduct.

The rationale was perfectly clear. Whatever you thought of his rationale, there was nothing shocking about it.  

It had nothing to do with anything Judge Jackson had ever done. Quite plainly, Graham wasn't criticizing Ketanji Brown Jackson during this exchange.

He hadn't criticized Jackson at all during this first presentation. But shortly after 11:30 P.M., the Senate committee took its first break of the day, and we in our failing, unimpressive blue tribe received our first bit of messaging. 

By now, Graham's questioning was done. So was the questioning of Senator Feinstein (D-CA).

By now, five senators had questioned Judge Jackson. On CNN, Kate Bolduan threw to legal analyst Laura Coates, and Coates quickly offered this:

BOLDUAN (3/22/22): CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates, with us as well. Laura, how do you think the judge has done so far?

COATES: I think she's doing phenomenally well. And I will note, of course, that I am twinning in her outfit inadvertently. But let me tell you, that's really where the comparisons stop because she is phenomenally talented in what she's doing.

Of course, it's her fourth time being before the Judiciary Committee, so she's well aware of the stakes and what needs to be done in order to make sure that she is conveying her intellect in a way that is persuasive, that is compelling, and really showcases what she's all about. 

Trust us! Pundit Coates was "twinning" Judge Jackson in more than the outfit she wore. 

According to Coates, Jackson had been "phenomenally talented" in what she had offered so far. Among other things, Judge Jackson had been conveying her intellect in a way that was compelling and that really showcased what she's all about. 

It would be hard to be more complimentary to the nominee, who is of course highly accomplished. But concerning the fiendish Senator Graham, Coates now offered this:

COATES (continuing directly): I will say the moments for Senator Lindsey Graham were perhaps the most shocking of the day.

The discussions of trying, on the one hand, to educate the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States, to try to attempt to educate her on double standards in America, was just too rich for me. 

So was the notion of him trying to use the time to think he squandered a great deal, squandering the time pointing out the ideas of other past nominees as opposed to focusing on this particular person.

Discussions about Judge Childs and the idea of so-called conservatives and other rounds as well attacking and asking her about what she knew about these attacks on social media, as opposed to what she knew about the law, was a missed opportunity to elevate the conversation. 

According to Coates, Graham had authored "a missed opportunity to elevate the conversation." Whatever you thought of Graham's performance, an ironist might have imagined that legal analyst Coates, outfitted so chicly, was doing that same thing herself!

With apologies, we're using the CNN transcript today. We have no way to proofread the transcript against videotape of what was said. 

That said, this transcript has Coates declaring Graham's "moments" as not just shocking, but as "the most shocking [moments] of the day." In truth, nothing especially shocking had actually happened to that point in time, but Coates (and her CNN colleagues) were now starting to lay down our highly unimpressive blue tribe's official narrative line.

It's clear that Coates was referring, in large part, to the three-minute exchange from which we've already drawn excerpts. To appearances, Coates had been offended by the focus of Graham's first set of questions, during which he repeatedly complimented and agreed with the nominee.

To appearances, Coates had been offended by the idea that Graham would have tried to "educate [the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States] on double standards in America"—in this case, on alleged double standards concerning the way judicial nominees get treated at Senate hearings. 

This had been shocking conduct, the haughty pundit declared. Now, a bit of disclosure:

Here on our sprawling campus, we had watched Graham's round of questioning in real time. Truth to tell, his various lines of questioning hadn't struck us as "shocking" at all.

We didn't necessarily agree with every word he said, but his conduct hadn't seemed shocking. But in this first burst of CNN punditry, we saw the emergence of two different worlds—the world of red tribe political perception as opposed to the childish and silly "Eek a mouse!" world of blue tribe corporate punditry.

In our view, the existence of those two different worlds puts liberal / progressive values and interests in significant peril. In our view, the dumbness of current blue tribe punditry is one of the greatest threats to those liberal / progressive interests.

On the one hand, our nation has a clamoring red tribe which has already elected Donald Trump once, and could do so again. On the other hand, we have a gang of overpaid corporate TV flunkies who perform in the way Coates quite frequently does.

In fairness, Coates was hardly alone this day on CNN's pundit panels. Indeed, all across the liberal world, reaction to last week's hearings revealed the limited quality of the team which scripts the tribal battle cries with which we head off to war.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but a modern nation can't expect to survive or prosper as a yammering Babel inhabited by "one, two, many" landlocked tribes. More to the point, some such nation can't expect to keep Donald J. Trump, or a Trump substitute, out of the White House again.

On the one hand, you have the True Crazy of people like Ginni Thomas, along with the incessant shrieking of "lost boy" Tucker Carlson. On our side, we respond with a hopeless band of "well educated" flunkies who should be thrown overboard.

As we hope you've been able to note, none of this has had a thing to do with the merits of Judge Jackson. All week long, we'll be speaking of Coates and the rest, who help define the mental horizons of one of our two different worlds.

I believe in you, the senator said. It was part of the shocking attack which our tribe quickly spotted!

Tomorrow: Incredibly moving, very compelling—and very, very untrue

Why was he sentenced to (only) three months?


A potent instructional moment: Why was Wesley Hawkins, 19 years of age at the time, sentenced to (only) three months in prison back in 2013?

This became a leading question in this week's confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Judge Jackson has been nominated to, and will soon sit on, the United States Supreme Court.

Back in 2013, why did Judge Jackson sentence Hawkins to (only) three months in prison, instead of to the 24 months requested by the prosecution? Instead of to the 18 months recommended by the probation department?

All in all, at the end of the day, it's a perfectly reasonable question. It's also a thoroughly straightforward question. On its face, you wouldn't think the question would be hard to answer.

That said, did the question ever get answered this week? As far as we know, it did not. 

As far as we know, Judge Jackson never answered that question during this week's hearings. (We're continuing to search the transcripts, trying to see if she actually did.)

Here at this site, we suspect we know why Hawkins didn't receive a longer prison sentence. We could be wrong in our assessment, but we'd be willing to take a guess.

Beyond that, we aren't sure that Hawkins, 19 years old at the time, should have been sentenced to prison at all!  We aren't saying that Judge Jackson was wrong to impose a (short) prison sentence. We are saying this:

In our view, it isn't obvious, in any way, that the sentence should have been longer.

We suspect we know why Judge Jackson imposed that shorter sentence. We also suspect we know why she never really explained her decision this week.

These questions all arose in the course of the latest set of highly contentious confirmation hearings. Then too, along came the highly scripted tribal reactions of our floundering national press corps.

What explains that three-month sentence? What do we mean when we say that Judge Jackson never answered that question?

Also, was it wrong when Senator Hawley (R-Mo.) brought that question center stage? If Hawley was wrong in what he did, what was his specific error?

We'll explore these questions next week, sifting through the broken discourse which emerged from this week's events. For today, we'll only say it again:

From our perspective, it isn't clear that Wesley Hawkins, age 19, should have been sentenced to prison at all. Others would have favored a much longer sentence. As best we can tell, they're entitled to that view, and we don't regard it as crazy.

In theory, we're all entitled to our views—but do we know how to respect the views of Others? Also, are we able to notice the occasional, extremely minor imperfections which may emerge, on the rarest occasions, from those on our own side of the aisle?

Are we able to traffic in minor complexity now? Or is it all tribalized Storyline—Storyline all the way down?

Fuller disclosures: The Washington Post has interviewed Hawkins, who's now 27. To read that report, click here.

CARLSON SHRIEKS: "Not really part of my life at all!"

FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2022

Lost Child, invested with power: We start today with text messages sent by Ginni Thomas in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Ginni Thomas is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. There seems to be no doubt about the authenticity of the text messages, which are being widely discussed.

This morning, a front-page report in the New York Times quotes some of the texts. The front-page report begins as shown. We highlight one key point:

HAKIM ET AL (3/25/22): In the weeks between the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sent a barrage of text messages imploring President Donald J. Trump’s chief of staff to take steps to overturn the vote, according to a person with knowledge of the texts.

In one message sent in the days after the election, she urged the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to “release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down,” invoking a slogan popular on the right that refers to a web of conspiracy theories that Trump supporters believed would overturn the election.

In another, she wrote: “I can’t see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin consequences.” She added: “We just cave to people wanting Biden to be anointed? Many of us can’t continue the GOP charade.”

Question: Did Ginni Thomas really believe that Candidate Biden's apparent victory in the 2020 election was actually the result of an "obvious fraud?"

(Also this: If she really did believe that, is it accurate to say that she was urging Meadows to "overturn the vote?")

Ignore that second journalistic point. Let's focus instead on the question of belief. 

Did Ginni Thomas really believe that the 2020 election had been built upon fraud? In all honesty, it isn't clear that there was anything Thomas wasn't prepared to believe. Later, Hakim and two other reporters quote another text message:

HAKIM ET AL: In one text exchange right after the election, she tells Mr. Meadow that he needs to listen to Steve Pieczenik, a onetime State Department consultant who has appeared on Alex Jones’s Infowars to claim, among other things, that the Sandy Hook school massacre was a false-flag operation.

She also quoted language circulating on pro-Trump sites that said, “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.” She added: “I hope this is true.”

If we can believe the Times' reporting, Thomas vouched for someone who was crazy enough to have claimed that Sandy Hook was a false-flag operation. 

Astonishingly, she also thought it might be true that members of "the Biden crime family" were being arrested even as she texted Meadows. Also, that they might be transferred to "barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.” 

Did Ginni Thomas really believe that? If so, what wasn't this highly-placed person able to believe? 

The revelation of such text messages creates a rare and spectacular "teachable moment" in the annals of anthropology. We're given a chance to take a long, deeply instructive look at The Things We Human Beings Are Able to Believe.

Anthropological insight can also be served by watching Tucker Carlson—by watching Tucker Carlson himself, but also by watching the predictable way our failing liberal / progressive tribe reacts to the various things he says, to the bait he lays out.

Is it true that our liberal world is a failing world? Briefly, we'll cite a frightening passage from a recent guest essay in the New York Times, frightening headline included:

While Democrats Debate ‘Latinx,’ Latinos Head to the G.O.P.

...From Hispanics’ 71 percent support for President Barack Obama in 2012 to 66 percent for Hillary Clinton and 59 percent for Joe Biden in 2020, Democrats find themselves slowly but measurably losing hold of Latinos, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate. As Latino voters grow in number in key battleground states, they are increasingly rejecting the minority construct promulgated by the media, academia and Democratic politicians and consultants.

The party that is able to express the values of a multiethnic working class will be the majority party for the next generation. As we continue to watch the country’s culture war increasingly divided by education levels, it is quite likely that Latino voters will continue to trend, even if marginally, into the ranks of Republican voters. The country stands on the precipice of a significant political shift. 

The essay was written by Mike Madrid, "an expert in Latino voting trends" and a member of "the board of directors of the League of Minority Voters." 

Correctly or otherwise, Madrid paints a frightening picture of where presidential politics may be heading as Carlson engages in his nightly hysterics. Also, as we liberals continue to infuse this pitiable "Lost Boy of La Jolla" with tons of political power.

We'll guess that Carlson was never crazy enough to believe that the Biden crime family was, perhaps, about to be sent to the barges. That said, it's blindingly obvious that he is, in psychiatric and anthropological terms, a deeply failed "lost boy."

Yes, that's a technical term, and the use of such terms can create journalistic complication. But Carlson is completely unable, on a nightly basis, to hide the extent of his inner damage, to disguise his obvious profile.

Consider a relatively minor example—an example he offered last night.

We didn't watch Carlson's program last night, but we've read the carefully proofread transcript of his opening monologue

(By way of contrast, MSNBC's most recent error-strewn transcripts are those from the TV shows the channel aired on Tuesday, March 15 [sic].)

Carlson went on, at considerable length, expressing the view that Senator Cory Booker is one of the world's biggest phonies. He portrayed Booker as "a faker" and "a fraud"—as another "Jussie Smollett."

Over the years, observers have taught that story flat and round. By Carlson's remarkable standards, his denunciation of Booker comes in fairly low on the scale. 

His deep sense of grievance does briefly appear when he throws Greta Thunberg into the mix—when he can't even stop himself from mocking an astonishing teenage girl.  

That said, this lost child's endless sense of grievance cuts all the way to the bone. Viewed on a nightly basis, it isn't normal in any way—and inevitably, his sense of grievance leads him, on a nightly basis, to make such statements as this:

CARLSON (3/24/22): It's just so funny. If you were to take a survey of the people most likely to give you a moral lecture about your own moral shortcomings, they would be the people whose personal lives could withstand the lightest scrutiny, if you know what we mean. That is a very consistent standard. 

Anyway, no one has used language like that to describe opponents of Ketanji Jackson, even though she let, to restate, industrial scale pedophiles out of jail with three-month jail sentences. Nor has anyone subjected her to questions about her high school drinking habits. Remember that? 

For the record, we're prepared to guess that Judge Jackson had very few, if any, "high school drinking habits." You'll have to peruse the Carlson transcript to see where that comment led.

More relevant is this lost boy's perpetual complaint about being given moral lectures. He's extremely sensitive about such matters, and it leads him to mock high-achieving ("white") teenage girls who know their subject much better than he does.

Also, to make the kinds of inaccurate factual claims we've chosen to highlight above.

We're sorry, Virginia and Greta, but no! As a judge, Ketanji Jackson didn't "let industrial scale pedophiles out of jail with three-month jail sentences."

There was one (1) defendant to whom she gave a three-month sentence. He was a high school student at the time he committed the crime to which he pled guilty. That said, he wasn't an "industrial scale" offender, and it isn't clear that he was a pedophile at all.

If anything, we'd argue that Judge Jackson's sentence in that one case may have been too harsh. But we'll discuss that matter tomorrow, when we'll focus on the remarkable way Judge Jackson kept refusing to explain why she gave that one (1) three-month sentence to that one (1) teenaged boy.

Carlson was once a teenaged boy himself. During that period, he attended Collège du Léman, a Swiss boarding school, but managed to get kicked out. 

Before that, he was a 6-year-old child. And when he was just six years old, an unusual event occurred:

Carlson was born Tucker McNear Carlson in the Mission District of San Francisco, California, on May 16, 1969...

In 1976, Carlson's parents divorced after the nine-year marriage reportedly "turned sour." Carlson's father was granted custody of Tucker and his brother. Carlson's mother left the family when he was six, wanting to pursue a "bohemian" lifestyle.

When Carlson was in first grade, his father moved Tucker and his brother to the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, and raised them there. Carlson attended La Jolla Country Day School and grew up in a home overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.

According to the leading authority on the subject, Carlson's mother left the family when Carlson was 6 years old. A childhood of material affluence followed—but, according to a profile in the New Yorker, he never saw his mother again:

SANNEH (4/3/17): His father, Richard Carlson, couldn’t afford college, so he enlisted in the Marines, and then forged an eventful career in journalism, working in California as a reporter and as a television anchor. (In a 1976 local-news report, he outed the tennis player Renée Richards, who had recently transitioned from male to female.) Tucker Carlson grew up with his brother in La Jolla, nurturing a rebellious streak that he never turned against his father, perhaps because his father shared it, and perhaps because he had no one else. His mother, a bohemian, left the family when he was six and ultimately settled in France; the boys never saw her again. “Totally bizarre situation—which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all,” Carlson says. 

If we can trust the New Yorker's reporting, Carlson never saw his mother again. Beyond that, you can read the remarkable quote, in which Carlson says that this passing event "was actually not really part of my life at all." 

It was never really part of his life. That's why he doesn't discuss it!

Richard Carlson, the gonzo reporter, "outed" Renée Richards. This might suggest that Carlson, like Donald J. Trump, had the misfortune of being raised by a father with unfortunate social attitudes.

That said, we rarely watch the shrieking, screeching Carlson these days without thinking of the 6-year-old boy whose mother ran away. 

Night after night, his performance is journalistically clownlike, as it was back on March 9. But as he screeches. shrieks, declaims and yells, we think we may be seeing the 6-year-old boy whose mother went to France.

Given Carlson's notoriety and influence, it's amazing how little attention has been paid to his remarkable two-generation family story. 

The father went from an orphanage to the head of PBS, with a stint as a "gonzo reporter" along the way.  

The son descended from La Jolla Country Day to the pathetic place in which he now sits, a place in which he tortures elementary facts every night and ridicules brilliant teenaged girls who have inspired the world and who never got kicked out of anything on their road to this brilliance.

Carlson sprinkled in quite a few valid points last night. It isn't especially hard to do. Our failing tribe is almost as pathetic and hopeless as Carlson's failing tribe is.

(For the record, Carlson's valid points are almost always undermined by his subsequent shrieking and screeching.)

Over There, on the extreme, Ginni Thomas apparently thought that the Bidens might be on their way to the barges. Over Here, we keep performing in the ways which—if Mike Madrid knows what he's talking about—may be paving the way toward an electoral future full of winners like Trump.

We already got him elected once. If Madrid knows what he's talking about, we may get there again.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our tribe just isn't real sharp. When we attack Carlson as a liar and as a racist, we're only building him up.

It seems to us that he's a Lost Boy; all major experts agree. He shrieks and screeches, night after night, in a type of primal wail.

Is it possible that this flailing figure is Richard Carlson's abandoned boy? Our own tribe—unforgiving, heartless, roboticized, dumb—just keeps taking the bait, and reciting the scripts, as we head down the road to perdition.

Tomorrow: Why wouldn't Judge Jackson explain?

Aleksandr Dugin is suddenly hot!


"Not clinical," experts say: We're fascinated by the way the Jackson hearings have been discussed. We expect to touch on that topic in the next few days.

For today, we'll return to Ukraine. We can't tell you why this is, but all of a sudden, Aleksandr Dugin—AKA, "Putin's brain"—seems to be very hot.

Yesterday afternoon, we recommended David Von Drehle's essay in the Washington Post. According to Von Drehle, the "mystical megalomania" expressed in Dugin's 1997 book lies at the heart of Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

This morning, up jumped the New York Times. In a guest essay bearing this headline—The Grand Theory Driving Putin to War—Professor Burbank seems to say the same thing:

BURBANK (3/24/22): ...Eurasianism was injected directly into the bloodstream of Russian power in a variant developed by the self-styled philosopher Aleksandr Dugin. After unsuccessful interventions in post-Soviet party politics, Mr. Dugin focused on developing his influence where it counted—with the military and policymakers. With the publication in 1997 of his 600-page textbook, loftily titled “The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia,” Eurasianism moved to the center of strategists’ political imagination.


Mr. Dugin made things more direct in his 1997 text: Ukrainian sovereignty presented a “huge danger to all of Eurasia.” Total military and political control of the whole north coast of the Black Sea was an “absolute imperative” of Russian geopolitics. Ukraine had to become “a purely administrative sector of the Russian centralized state.”

Mr. Putin has taken that message to heart...

Same self-styled philosopher, same sweeping theory. Same 1997 book—and the same buy-in from Putin.

Returning to the Washington Post, we encounter a similar column by David Ignatius in today's print editions. Quoting Professor Snyder, Ignatius describes the same "mystical Russian ideal" while naming a different guru:

IGNATIUS (3/24/22): In place of communism, Putin proposed what Yale professor Timothy Snyder has described as “Russian fascism.” Its ideological guru was the philosopher Ivan Ilyan, who fled Russia in 1922, after the Bolshevik Revolution, and visited Italy before settling in Germany. Ilyan admired the Italian dictator Mussolini, and praised the Fascists for capturing the popular “Spirit,” or Dukh. Ilyan saw Russia as a perpetual victim of the West that needed a “manly” leader who would become “the living organ of Russia,” according to Snyder.

Putin embraced this mystical Russian ideal. “Beginning in 2005, Putin began to rehabilitate Ilyan as a Kremlin court philosopher,” Snyder writes. He brought Ilyan’s remains back to Russia, placed flowers at his grave and cited him in articles, such as a 2012 essay that explained Ilyan’s vision that “Russia as a spiritual organism served not only all of the Orthodox nations … but all the nations of the world.”

All three columns move past narrow concerns about NATO membership for Ukraine; they look instead to a larger mystical vision on Putin's part. Von Drehle and Burbank point to Dugin as the key mystical dreamer; Ignatius fingers Ilyan.

As we noted yesterday, we can't evaluate this new perspective, but it seems to be traveling fast. For what it's worth, Professor Young floated the portrait of Dugin as "Putin's Rasputin" in a March 6 essay for Foreign Affairs, as essay which carried these headlines:

Putin Has a Grimly Absolute Vision of the ‘Russian World’

The Ukraine war is fueled by a delusion of civilizational necessity.

Dugin can be seen as "Putin's Rasputin," Professor Young said. The invasion of Ukraine is built upon a sweeping "delusion."

What has led to Putrin's decision to invade Ukraine? A person could imagine the novel several different ways. That said, and holy cow, Ignatius sets the scene in the following way:

"Experts say Putin isn’t irrational in the usual clinical sense. But he has entered a realm where his decisions are driven by a grandiose sense of his place in Russian history. In his own mind, his mission is transcendent."

Experts say he isn't irrational, at least not in the clinical sense! We can only hope that, in this one case, the experts are suddenly right.

CARLSON SHRIEKS: He started with an observation!


The shrieking proceeded from there: Last evening, for a few brief shining moments, Tucker Carlson got to be pretty much right.

At least on a purely political basis, Carlson got to be pretty much right with respect to transgender swimmer Lia Thomas—and we'll just leave it at that.

For a few brief shining moments, Carlson got to be right about a political / culture war controversy in which, at least in the short term, liberals and progressives can't possibly hope to prevail.

Bringing the eternal note of dumbness is, Carlson was even able to link these moments to a certain Supreme Court nominee's sensible but unsettling refusal to offer an answer, during yesterday's Senate hearing, to the apparently straightforward question, "What is a woman?" 

In real time, it was obvious that this question, from Senator Blackburn, linked to the issue of transgender athletics and transgender policy in general. Last night, for a few, brief shining moments, the Fox News Channels "excitable boy" was able to bring it all home.

For the record, but also in fairness, Carlson isn't always wrong in everything he says on his nightly "cable news" program. Sometimes, he even makes statements which are pretty much right on the merits, not just on the temporary politics.

That said, such moments rarely last. 

Last evening, Carlson was briefly right, at least on the politics, with respect to Thomas' recent wins in NCAA swim meets. But then, the inevitable!

After complaining that the Biden administration won't force Ukraine to stop fighting the Russkies, The Lost Child of La Jolla et L'Ecole Suisse shocked the planet with this:

CARLSON (3/23/22): Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of the only members of Congress who's willing to think this through in public. She represents the state of Georgia. We're honored to have her on our show tonight.

Just like that, there was Greene, filling us in on Ukraine. Richard Carlson's hopeless lost child was honored to have her on.

Tomorrow, as we end our week, we'll return to the striking bit of family history we've cited in recent days. We rarely watch Carlson at this point without thinking of the human story lurking inside those paragraphs.

For today, we thought we'd return to the start of this week's reports. We thought we'd show you the way this wounded child behaves on the air, even when he's working from a reasonable point of departure.

We return you to the Tucker Carlson of Wednesday evening, March 9. On his "cable news" program that evening, he played the videotape of an exchange from the day before:

RUBIO (3/8/22): I only have a minute left. Let me ask you, does Ukraine have chemical or biological weapons?  

NULAND: Ukraine has biological research facilities, which, in fact, we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to gain control of. So we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach. 

Might we give credit where credit is due? Someone on Carlson's staff had actually noticed something!

The exchange in question had taken place during a Senate committee hearing. Senator Rudio had posed a very specific question to Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs in the Biden administration.

Rubio had asked a highly specific, perfectly straightforward question. But uh-oh! In her response, Nuland didn't give a specific answer to the highly specific question she'd specifically been asked.

Intelligent observers will sometimes describe that type of reply as a "non-response response." Politicians frequently give such "responses." Sometimes, though not always, it means that there is something the politician doesn't want to admit.

On its face, Nuland had plainly authored a "non-response response." She'd been asked if Ukraine had chemical weapons. In her reply, she hadn't said yes—but she also hadn't said no.

A journalist might want to check to see if there was a reason for this. But in the hands of this lost, helpless child, something quite different occurred.

On his March 9 program, Carlson played the videotape of the Rubio-Nuland exchange. Immediately after he played the tape, this braindead shrieking occurred:

CARLSON (3/9/22): "Does Ukraine have biological weapons?" Ugh, 

"Ukraine has biological research facilities." What? You mean secret bio labs like the secret bio labs that Ukraine definitely doesn't have? 

Ukraine has those? Yes, it does! And not only does Ukraine have secret bio labs, Toria Nuland said, whatever they're doing in those labs is so dangerous and so scary that she is "quite concerned" that the so-called research material inside those bio labs might fall into the hands of Russian forces. 

Try not to use profanity on the air to describe our reaction. Our jaws dropped, let's leave it there. 

Under oath, in an open committee hearing, Toria Nuland just confirmed that the Russian disinformation they've been telling us for days is a lie and a conspiracy theory and crazy and immoral to believe is, in fact, totally and completely true.  

Whoa! You don't hear things like that every day in Washington. Talk about a showstopper and a dozen questions instantly jump to mind. 

What exactly are they doing in these secret Ukrainian bio labs? Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe. It's hardly a hotbed of biomedical research. We're assuming these weren't pharmaceutical labs. Probably not developing new leukemia drugs. 

From your answer, Toria Nuland, we would assume, because you all but said it, that there's a military application to this research, that they were working on bioweapons. Again, your answer suggests that.  

So it went as this pitiful child staged his latest breakdown. On our side, our flailing team constantly props this child up.

What did Carlson say in that passage? More to the point, what didn't he say as he wandered the countryside?

For the record, he didn't say that he or his staff had actually researched this question. Nor did he actually say that Ukraine does have bioweapons.

Instead, he wandered the countryside, offering excitable insinuations and making excitable claims. By the time that passage was done, he was saying that Nuland's answer "suggests" that Ukraine has bioweapons—that he would "assume" that it does. 

On that basis, the person who writes the headlines at Fox reported that Carlson said this:

Tucker Carlson: Someone needs to explain why there are dangerous biological weapons in Ukraine

The Pentagon is lying about thiswhy?

Those are the headlines which sit above the transcript of the excitable boy's remarks. The person who wrote those headlines seemed to think that Carlson had said that Ukraine does have biological weapons, and that the Pentagon had been lying about that fact. 

Did Carlson explicitly make those claims? You can score it as you like—but we'll cut some slack for the functionary who put those headlines atop that transcript. We can assure you that, if you watched the entire meltdown, that's the way this latest mess sounded.

Carlson isn't always wrong in the things he says, not even on the merits. That said, he rarely makes a claim, or espouses a viewpoint, without staging an immediate journalistic breakdown.

He displays a contempt for liberal women—but also for normal rules of analysis and decorum. At age 51, La Jolla's Lost Boy is trailing a story behind him. 

In our view, we need to stop propping him up by taking his endless offers of bait. We need to see him as a lost child—as the lost boy he plainly is.

Last night, the child was honored to host Taylor Greene. Such bait is cast out every night.

Tomorrow: "It was actually not really part of my life..."

Von Drehle profiles "Putin's brain!"


In search of Putin's dream: Based on current tabulations, it's currently the fourth MOST READ piece in the whole of the Washington Post.

We recommend it strongly. It's David Von Drehle's profile of Aleksandr Dugin, the man who is apparently known as "Putin's brain."

First, we state a disclaimer. We've never heard of Aleksandr Dugin. We didn't know he was Putin's brain. On that basis, we can't tell you that Von Drehle's profile is perfectly accurate, or even basically right.

That said, Von Drehle works from the saner, brighter end of the mainstream press corps—and early on, he says this:

VON DREHLE (3/23/22): Dugin’s intellectual influence over the Russian leader is well known to close students of the post-Soviet period, among whom Dugin, 60, is sometimes referred to as “Putin’s brain.” His work is also familiar to Europe’s “new right,” of which Dugin has been a leading figure for nearly three decades, and to America’s “alt-right.” Indeed, the Russian-born former wife of the white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, Nina Kouprianova, has translated some of Dugin’s work into English.

It sounds to us like David Von Drehle may know what he's talking about. 

"As the world watches with horror and disgust the indiscriminate bombing of Ukraine, a broader understanding is needed of Dugin’s deadly ideas," Von Drehle says. "Russia has been running his playbook for the past 20 years, and it has brought us here, to the brink of another world war."

Is Dugin really Putin's brain? We can't vouch for Von Drehle's claim, but this is Von Drehle's account of Dugin's worldview:

VON DREHLE: A product of late-period Soviet decline, Dugin belongs to the long, dismal line of political theorists who invent a strong and glorious past—infused with mysticism and obedient to authority—to explain a failed present. The future lies in reclaiming this past from the liberal, commercial, cosmopolitan present (often represented by the Jewish people). Such thinkers had a heyday a century ago, in the European wreckage of World War I...

Dugin tells essentially the same story from a Russian point of view. Before modernity ruined everything, a spiritually motivated Russian people promised to unite Europe and Asia into one great empire, appropriately ruled by ethnic Russians. Alas, a competing sea-based empire of corrupt, money-grubbing individualists, led by the United States and Britain, thwarted Russia’s destiny and brought “Eurasia”—his term for the future Russian empire—low.

In his magnum opus, “The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia,” published in 1997, Dugin mapped out the game plan in detail. Russian agents should foment racial, religious and sectional divisions within the United States while promoting the United States’ isolationist factions. (Sound familiar?) In Great Britain, the psy-ops effort should focus on exacerbating historic rifts with Continental Europe and separatist movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Western Europe, meanwhile, should be drawn in Russia’s direction by the lure of natural resources: oil, gas and food. NATO would collapse from within.

Putin has followed that counsel to the letter, and he must have felt things were going well when he saw window-smashing rioters in the corridors of the U.S. Congress, Britain’s Brexit from the European Union and Germany’s growing dependence on Russian natural gas. With the undermining of the West going so well, Putin has turned to the pages of Dugin’s text in which he declared: “Ukraine as an independent state with certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia” and “without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics.”

Von Drehle continues from there. We'd be inclined to add one possible element to Von Drehle's list of the factors which may have pleased Putin of late as he looked out at the world, but we'll wait for another day to name that possible factor.

At any rate, was Putin pleased when he saw rioters in the Capitol building? Did he think he was seeing an internal American conflict—a division which would hobble American response in the wider world?

We can't answer your question! But as Von Drehle continues, he offers this picture of what may be Putin's dream:

VON DREHLE (continuing directly): So what comes next, should Putin manage to “resolve” Russia’s “problem” in Ukraine? Dugin envisions a gradual dividing of Europe into zones of German and Russian influence, with Russia very much in charge thanks to its eventual stranglehold over Germany’s resource needs. As Great Britain crumbles and Russia picks up the pieces, the empire of Eurasia will ultimately stretch, in Dugin’s words, “from Dublin to Vladisvostok.”

In Von Drehle's view, it's important "for Western decision-makers to take Dugin’s mystical megalomania seriously." Dugin may be delusional, Von Drehle says. "But delusions become important when embraced by tyrants."

Has Von Drehle described Putin's dream? We'd like to hear more on this topic, but first, this final point:

Von Drehle's profile of Putin's brain is currently the fourth MOST READ piece in the whole of the Washington Post.

What's the number-one MOST READ piece at the Post? Dearest darlings, use your heads!

We long to get The Others locked up! Did you even have to ask?