The new Supreme Court has done it again!


New Court, new political tasks: Returning to our sprawling campus, we learned that the new Supreme Court had done it again.

We'll characterize the new Supreme Court, and how we got it, on some other occasion. For now, we'll go with this statement by Chief Justice Roberts, as quoted in the New York Times:

LIPTAK (6/30/22): The question in the case, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, turned on the scope of the language of the Clean Air Act. Under it, he wrote, Congress had not clearly given the agency sweeping authority to regulate the energy industry.  

“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’ ” he wrote, quoting an earlier decision. But, he added, “a decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.”

As with Roe, so too here. Whatever you think of the Court's decision, our blue tribe is left with a political challenge, with the need to persuade many Others.

We're left with a political challenge. It's hard to succeed at such tasks.

HOW WE GOT HERE: We've been called away from our desk!


Will post this afternoon: Rather thoroughly, Tuesday's "new arrival on the front" has replaced the overthrow of Roe v. Wade as the "topic of general conversation."

(We're quoting Chekhov on the subject.)

We plan to complete our series on the overthrow of Roe—more specifically, on the question of how we got to this place. That said, we've been called away from our desk this morning on a mission of national import.

We expect to post this afternoon on the more current topic of conversation. As you may have noticed, novelization is everywhere, along with selective presentation of fact.

As we've often noted in recent years, these are anthropology lessons. According to major disconsolate experts, the pleasures of anthropology are pretty much all we have left!

"He's not like other human beings!"


Dr. Dodes discusses Trump: Over at Salon, Chauncey DeVega had heard just about enough.

In fact, DeVega had heard more than enough! For that reason, he decided to interview Dr, Lance Dodes, a retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Very occasionally, Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed Dr. Dodes about Donald Trump's mental state over the course of the past several years. DeVega describes Dodes here:

DEVEGA (6/27/22): He was a contributor to the bestselling volume "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President." Dodes belongs to a small and courageous group of mental health professionals who consistently sounded the alarm about Trump, both before and during his presidency, arguing that he should never have been allowed to hold high public office and should have been removed at the earliest opportunity.

For the record, there's more than one psychiatrist in the world, and more than one mental health expert. The fact that Dodes has reached a certain view about Donald J. Trump doesn't mean that his view is scripture, or even that it's accurate. 

That said, DeVega's interview highlights the kind of journalism our upper-end mainstream press has refused to engage in. That extends right up to the press corps' reactions to yesterday's testimony concerning Trump's behavior on and before January 6.

Dodes is a highly experienced psychiatric / medical specialist. He has been willing to state his views concerning Donald J. Trump's mental health. 

Nothing will ever lead the mainstream press to engage in any such discussion. That said, we thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to show you the type of discussion to which you'll never be exposed.

Is Donald J. Trump severely disordered? In this, their first Q-an-A, DeVega expresses his frustration with the press, and Dr. Dodes discusses Trump:

DEVEGA: I'm angry on behalf of all the mental health professionals who argued that Trump was dangerous and were met with deflections and denials and condemnation. I consistently offered a platform to those mental health professionals who tried to warn the American people and the world, but the mainstream media and political elites largely avoided the issue. Now it's been confirmed that Trump's own Cabinet members viewed him as unstable and discussed removing him.

DODES: I have been frustrated for so many years now, really since 2016. I've said this so many times in various settings, but people don't quite get it. Donald Trump is not like other human beings, and you can't treat him as if he is. The news media refused to accept that. He is a severe sociopath, and his willingness to see others suffer and die pushes him into the realm of a psychopath. He lacks the core of normal empathy, and the ability to appreciate that other people have rights. He is a very sick man. Yet the media and others treated him like an ordinary person.

Dodes isn't the Oracle at Delphi, but he is a high-ranking medical specialist. In his view, Trump is "a severe sociopath" and "a very sick man." He isn't like other human beings, and you can't treat him like he is.

Throughout the interview, DeVega expresses his frustration, somewhat naively, with the press corps' refusal to engage in such discussions. At one point, Dodes says this:

DODES: Very few major institutions in this country spoke up. The worst was the American Psychiatric Association, which should have been leading the effort to help people understand Trump psychologically and the danger he presented. Instead, they actively tried to suppress criticism about Trump's mental health. They threatened to throw people out of their organization if they spoke up. The Goldwater rule never applied to this situation, and was touted to protect the reputation of the APA at the cost of protecting truth, democracy and mental health.

People still don't quite understand the enormous danger from Trump...

In a later exchange, DeVega cites the way our mainstream pundits keep saying they're shocked and surprised by Trump's (quite consistent) behavior. He even alleges "extreme denial" on the part of the press corps itself!

Here's part of that exchange:

DEVEGA: Reporters and commentators repeatedly proclaim that they are shocked that Trump wanted Mike Pence to be killed, and that he actually encouraged his attack force to do such a thing at the Capitol on Jan. 6. What are the psychological processes at play in such extreme denial?

DODES: ...The easiest way to understand Donald Trump is to think of him as a serial killer or a monster. The word "monster" means a creature without empathy, without caring, willing to kill or maim or hurt or destroy anything in its path for its own purposes, a sadistic creature lacking normal human capacities. There's nothing shocking about Trump's behavior when you see him for the fundamentally disordered person that he truly is.

DEVEGA: To be even more specific, when we see pundits and other public voices proclaiming that Trump's conduct was shocking or unimaginable, do they actually believe it? Are they just feigning that response because it's not acceptable to tell the whole truth about this man? Or are they just profoundly immature about reality and so privileged that they have never encountered such people?

DODES: They're ignorant, and I don't say that as an insult. They're literally ignorant of human psychology. If a tiger attacked a person, you would not be shocked. So you have to understand, that's what Trump is. You can't think of him as a regular person because he is vastly different from a normal human being. To say you are shocked by anything he does means you just don't understand how extraordinarily different Trump is from other people. "Evil" is good word to describe him, and once you stop expecting him to be like you or your neighbors or anyone else in your life, then you're not surprised anymore.

Did Trump "want Mike Pence to be killed?" We have no idea. Absent stronger evidence, we wouldn't say that ourselves.

Still, Dodes says that Trump is "fundamentally disordered." Almost everything follows from there.

We say almost everything for the following reason:

We assume that people who are fundamentally disordered didn't choose to be fundamentally disordered. We assume, for example, that sociopaths didn't choose to be disordered in that unfortunate way.

We've always recommended pity for disordered people like Trump. For that reason, we'd be reluctant to mix moral and psychiatric assessments together, as Dodes does in this last statement. 

Vastly disordered people may be dangerous and may need to be restrained, but we would recommend sorrow and pity for people are so deranged. For our money, Dr. Dodes may be a bit too "medium hot" to be right for such discussions.

In truth, the mainstream press was never going to discuss the fairly obvious questions raised by Trump's disordered conduct. Even so, we share DeVega's frustration with the way our pundits continue to be "shocked" and "surprised" by Trump's consistent behavior.

Some of them never stop being shocked! Just last evening, there was Anderson Cooper, surprised all over again:

COOPER (6/28/22): Officer Fanone, the president knew there were weapons, the chief of staff knew there were weapons, a lot of folks—seems like a lot of folks in the White House knew that there were weapons there [on January 6].


It's extraordinary. I mean it's still, even now, after all this time, just hearing the testimony say that the president of the United States would knowingly send and encourage a mob of people who that he knew were armed—I mean, maybe I don't know why I still am surprised by this, but I just find it stunning to hear it confirmed time and time again. He knew that they were armed.

Cooper is still surprised by this. For some reason which goes unexplained, he's surprised by this stuff every time!

DeVega is being a bit naive about the press corps' refusal to engage in this type of discussion. That said, the fact that some significant percentage of adult males are diagnosable as sociopaths seems to be part of the basic medical science of the past century.

After their problems have been discussed, we recommend pity for people like Trump. That said, by the rules of the game, you the people aren't even allowed to hear such discussions start.

We aren't even sure that's a bad idea. You know where such efforts would lead.

We recommend pity for Donald J. Trump. We also recommend serious outreach to those in The Other Tribe. 

We must be friends, Lincoln once said. We see no clear way around that.

HOW WE GOT HERE: She worked for Cruz, Scalise and Trump!


A chance to rethink how we got here: Yesterday afternoon, it happened again.

In truth, it seems to happen with great regularity now. Yesterday, "The appearance of a new arrival on the front...became the topic of general conversation" and rerouted the discourse again. 

(See Chekhov, Lady with Lapdog.)

Yesterday, the new arrival on the front was former Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, a remarkably composed young woman who is either 25 or 26, depending on whether you read the Washington Post or the New York Times. 

According to the Post, Hutchinson was only 23 in early December 2020 when the chain of events in question started. Here's the way Kranish et al. begin this morning's profile:

KRANISH ET AL (6/29/22):  Cassidy Hutchinson was about to turn 24, already a key official at the White House after a meteoric ascent from obscurity, when she heard a startling noise. It was early December 2020, and President Donald Trump was livid because his attorney general said the election had not been stolen.

Upon investigating the noise, Hutchinson was told by a White House valet that Trump had thrown a porcelain plate against the dining room wall, which was now dripping ketchup. Hutchinson grabbed a towel to wipe up the mess as the valet told her to steer clear of the president because “he’s really, really ticked off about this right now.”

Kranish started with the ketchup—and with the claim that Hutchinson was 23 at the time. Later, the Post's profile explicitly says that she's "now 25."

In the New York Times' corresponding profile, Maggie Haberman says that Hutchinson is "now 26." No, it doesn't matter—but Hutchinson is such a new arrival that our nation's major newspapers can't even agree on her age. 

That said, Hutchinson was remarkably calm and composed as she offered yesterday's testimony—some of which was based on her first-hand experience, some of which was not.

A startling array of major journalists have commingled the two types of testimony, failing to make the distinction explicit. That isn't Hutchinson's doing or fault. It's simply the way our journalists may tend to behave as they start composing our novels.

At this point, we'll offer a personal reaction to Hutchinson's testimony. We were greatly impressed, as we sometimes are, to see the way some people who are so young will sometimes emerge with so much capability and with so much composure.

As we watched, we thought of Kaitlin Collins, CNN's chief White House reporter. 

Collins had just turned 25 when she was hired by CNN. She had a very slender (and unimpressive) journalistic resume. 

We assumed that this might be a fairly standard type of TV hire, with telegenicity being one of the major criteria in the hiring decision.

We were surprised and impressed by what followed. For our money, Collins emerged during 2020 as one of the only White House correspondents prepared to act like an actual journalist in the face of the manifest lunacy of Donald J. Trump's daily hour-plus monologues about the Covid pandemic. 

At that time, we were grateful for the chance to see someone push back as she did. We're still impressed by Collins' self-confidence every time we see her on CNN. 

We're impressed by her confidence and grateful for her presence. We thought of Collins as we watched the preternaturally composed Hutchinson testifying before the world at probably age 25.

By this morning, Hutchinson' testimony has become the stuff of emerging press corps novels on such programs as Morning Joe. That isn't Hutchinson's doing or fault. It's the doing of more established people—the kinds of people who novelize news in much the way other folks breathe.

We know of no reason to doubt a single word Hutchinson said. Indeed, former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney quickly posted a tweet vouching for her honesty.

That doesn't mean that her every recollection is perfectly accurate. More significant, perhaps, is this:

The mental disorder of Donald J. Trump has long been quite apparent. On Morning Joe, our tribe's novelists complain about the various things people like Meadows refuse to say—but they themselves have persistently refused to say that throughout the past seven years.

(We'll return to this seminal topic in this afternoon's post.)

Did Donald J. Trump want to go to the House on January 6 and participate in shooting and killing House members from the gallery, as Michael Beschloss explicitly said on today's Morning Joe? 

We don't have the slightest idea. Needless to say, Hutchinson never said anything like that.

We don't know if Donald J. Trump had some such picture in his head when he allegedly grabbed the steering wheel of his limousine and tried to go to the Capitol. That said, it isn't impossible that he had some such crazy thought  in mind, though Beschloss was simply forging a novel when he excitingly treated this as some sort of established fact.

As Beschloss shouted out his novel, Joe and Mika just sat around; Willie also said nothing. Meanwhile, Hutchinson was being hailed as a "hero" on the show. Assuming her basic testimony holds up, we don't necessarily disagree with that.

Hutchinson is, and was, extremely impressive. But people! Right through December 2020, she was also a Trump supporter!

Hutchinson was, and possibly still is, a conservative Republican. She had interned for Scalise and Cruz before signing on at the Trump White House, then getting hired by Meadows.

According to this 2018 profile, she'd started at the Trump White House hoping to make "my small contribution to the quest to maintain American prosperity and excellence." Imaginably, this fact could help us think about one of the ways our blue tribe got saddled with last Friday's horrendous political defeat.

Hutchinson is quite impressive—and she supported Trump. The same can be said of The Justice Department 3—Rosen, Donoghue and Engel, three plainly competent, intelligent men who talked Trump out of a very bad idea in the last few days before January 6.

Rosen, Donoghue and Engel testified before the January 6 committee on June 23. All three seemed highly competent and quite straightforward—and until his post-election meltdown, all three had supported Trump.

Last Friday morning, a very different "new arrival" hijacked the national discourse. We refer to the Supreme Court decision in which, according to the New York Times, a five-member majority voted 6-3 to overturn Roe v. Wade.

That was an enormous political defeat for our own blue tribe. Two days later, the Times published a very unusual profile of the conservative political groups which had worked, for many years, to hand us that defeat.

How had we managed to get to that place? Also, how could our self-impressed blue tribe possibly improve our game?

We'll suggest that a hint might be found in Cassidy Hutchinson's brilliant performance at yesterday afternoon's hearing. Also, in that unusual profile by the Times, to which we'll turn tomorrow.

At this site, we're grateful for Kaitlan Collins' work every time she appears. For the record, her slender journalistic resume before arriving at CNN was created at The Daily Caller, the site Tucker Carlson created.

We're routinely impressed by Collins. We're eternally grateful for what we saw her do during those pandemic gong-shows, as other scribes just sat around.

Routinely, we're impressed by Collins. Is there possibly some small thing our blue tribe can learn from that?

Tomorrow: A very unusual profile

Has the mystery guest been revealed?

TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2022

Recalling Groucho Marx: Has today's mystery guest been revealed? According to both the Post and the Times, the mystery guest will be Cassidy Hutchinson.

If so, it's hard to know what the mystery will turn out to be, let alone the bombshell. That said, it's always possible that someone even more mysterious will testify this afternoon too.

Last night, Rachel and Lawrence entertained us acolytes with their ruminations on this topic. No one suggested that this sudden hearing might be a way for the January 6 committee to grab the spotlight back from the end of Roe v. Wade.

On cable, such buzzkills simply aren't done. That said, CNN seems to be adjusting its degree of segregation by viewpoint. Competently executed, this would be a good move.

Back in the day, What's My Line really knew how to bring on a mystery guest. The panelists slipped their blindfolds on. The guest took chalk and signed in.

Groucho Marx handled the role with aplomb.  He may have performed such signs-in before. To see him sign in, click here.

We don't know who's going to sign in today. Important information may emerge, or then again possibly not. We're facing a large political problem. Our world has a long way to go, with no obvious way to get there.

HOW WE GOT HERE: How did Justice Alito get on the Court?

TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2022

Perhaps through a bit of Kung Fu: "Grasshopper," the visitor said—and it must be said that he looked a great deal like the late actor Keye Luke. Or possibly even Dean Jagger!

"Grasshopper," our visitor said. "The light we see from distant stars is actually very old." 

The visitor had been introduced by spokespersons from Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, an inconsolable group of disconsolate scholars who report to us through the nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.

These despondent experts report from the future, but some of their guests may discuss events from the past. And so it was last night.

This morning, we checked to see if the ABC series, Kung Fu, was still on the air at this juncture. As it turns out, the program's third and final season seems to have ended in 1975!

That said, we sensed what our Luke look-alike was suggesting we tell you about. He was making reference to one of the ways our flailing blue tribe managed to find our way to last Friday's vast defeat.

In this case, he was directing us to the way Justice Alito got on the Supreme Court in the first place. We flashed to the first Bush-Gore debate, when Candidate Gore said this:

GORE (10/3/20): The main issue is whether or not the Roe v. Wade decision is going to be overturned. I support a woman’s right to choose. My opponent does not. It is important because the next president is going to appoint three and maybe even four justices of the Supreme Court, and Governor Bush has declared to the anti-choice groups that he will appoint justices in the mold of Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who are known for being the most vigorous opponents of a woman’s right to choose. 

Here is the difference. He trusts the government to order a woman to do what it thinks she ought to do. I trust women to make the decisions that affect their lives, their destinies and their bodies. And I think a woman’s right to choose ought to be protected and defended.

Whatever your view of these matters might be, that's what the candidate said.

As usual, Gore was lying. As it turned out, the next president didn't appoint "three and maybe even four justices of the Supreme Court." 

Nor did the next president "appoint" anyone to the Court at all! Presidents merely nominate people for the Supreme Court. The Senate then has to confirm.

As usual, the candidate was lying. The mainstream press corps—the people we blue tribe members trust—had invented and established this poisonous Storyline over the prior two years.

That said, despite his inveterate lying, the candidate made some statements at this debate which turned out to be accurate! As of last Friday morning, the light from these statements reached us from a 22-year-old star:

GORE: In my view, the Constitution ought to be interpreted as a document that grows with our country and our history. And I believe, for example, that there is a right of privacy in the Fourth Amendment. And when the phrase "a strict constructionist" is used, and when the names of Scalia and Thomas are used as the benchmarks for who would be appointed, those are code words, and nobody should mistake this, for saying the governor would appoint people who would overturn Roe v. Wade. 


You know, this is a very important issue, because a lot of young women in this country take this right for granted and it could be lost. It is on the ballot in this election, make no mistake about it.

You can watch the whole discussion of this topic from that first Bush-Gore debate. Just click here, then move ahead to the 26-minute mark.

As it turned out, that next president, George W. Bush, hadn't won the nationwide popular vote. Through a bit of a jujitsu move—possibly through some bits of Kung Fu in the Sunshine State—he had still ended up in the White House.

Also this:

That next president didn't appoint three or four members to the Supreme Court. He did nominate Samuel Alito, the fellow who wrote the opinion which overturned Roe v. Wade.

In that sense, the story of how we reached this place starts with that ancient election. It starts with the crazy way that election was covered—the crazy way it was covered by our own alleged tribal allies in the upper-end mainstream press.

The Crazy has been quite widespread in recent years within our national discourse. In truth, a lot of The Crazy was already present during that 2000 campaign, starting in March 1999.

Early this morning, we quickly realized that last night's guest was directing us to this ancient event. A great deal of light emerges from the coverage of Campaign 2000, but little of that blinding light has reached the eyes of our tribe.

According to this news report, some of our tribe's current thought leaders want the current president to establish abortion clinics "on the edge of national parks!" 

Is it even dimly possible that, on the rarest of occasions, we in our famously self-impressed tribe may have helped facilitate the process by which we have, at long last, finally come to this place?

Tomorrow: A very unusual profile

Will our tribe ever learn how to talk?

MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2022

Kevin Drum cites Dahlia Lithwick: On balance, we tend to agree with Kevin Drum's recent posts, though we also spot a bit of irony in the nature of the agreement.

On what subject do we tend to agree? Let's take this in two awful steps:

In his most recent post, Drum cites an ongoing switch in party registrations, as reported by the Associated Press. To give you a glimpse of "The horror! The horror!", the AP's headline says this:

More than 1 million voters switch to GOP in warning for Dems 

It isn't that everyone who's switching their party registration is switching from D to R. Roughly 630,000 voters have also switched from R to D in the past year, the period under review.

Still, the AP scores this as a warning sign for Democrats. So why in the world would some Democrats be switching their registration?

If you can't think of a million possible reasons, you may not have cable TV! Setting such sour thoughts to the side, let's consider an earlier post by Drum, a post from yesterday.

Headline included, this was Drum's complete post:

 Liberals really suck at defending abortion

Just to add to my previous notes, I've read a whole lot of pieces this weekend about how terrible Sam Alito's opinion in Dobbs is; about the misogyny of conservatives; about their ignorance of history; about the Court's lack of democratic legitimacy; about all the other rights that are certain to fall now that Roe is toast; and about bodily autonomy and how it is so in the Constitution.

I'll have more to say about this tomorrow, but what's striking to me is how bad all these columns and essays and think pieces have been. I'm not sure I've read a single one that I'd call lucid or persuasive—and that's despite the fact that my personal view of abortion is about as extreme as it's possible to have.¹

We liberals really need to get our act together. How is it that after 50 years we're apparently still not able to defend abortion in any kind of simple, convincing way that appeals to anyone who's not already on our side?

In footnote 1, Drum describes his personal view on abortion and abortion rights, a view which would almost surely be impossible to sell on the political open market. (That doesn't mean that it's wrong.) 

That said, we're struck by the claim he makes about the columns he's read about Alito and Dobbs. His statement is worth repeating:

"What's striking to me is how bad all these columns and essays and think pieces have been."

We can't say we're shocked by that, though we're probably coming at this from a slightly different angle. We've been amazed, but not amazed, by how clueless the cable commentary has been—how clueless, how reliably disingenuous, how thoroughly built to fail.

Our corporate-selected tribal "thought leaders" are deeply unimpressive. Endless self-flattery to the side, they just aren't especially sharp. 

We talk to ourselves and to no one else. Our tribe is virtually defined by our high self-regard, but there simply isn't a whole lot there to justify this attitude.

We expect to discuss these points as the week unfolds. For now, we'll only note the irony in Drum's complaints about the lack of clarity in much of the work he's read. Can this be the same Kevin Drum who recently said that, in the end, it isn't really all that hard to explain what Kurt Godel said?

In part, our politics of the past many years has been defined by "the absence of the logicians." As our public discourse crashes around us, they tangle themselves in "the set of all sets not members of themselves," or in the silly imagined complexities of The Liar's Paradox.

Frege and Godel are our greatest logicians, and no one can explain what they said. In fact, no one has ever heard their names! Our greatest logicians have walked off their posts and left us with Donald J. Trump, and with a stumblebum group of corporate-picked pundits to guide us along our path.

In one respect, the failures of our highest academic elites are part of a (beautiful) human comedy. We plan to return to this topic in the next few days, writing with that 12-year-old kid in mind.

Meanwhile, our liberal "thought leaders" in the upper-end press have served us amazingly poorly over the past thirty years. People are dead all over the world because of the mayhem these nitwits have caused, and many more people are going to die as they pretend to perform their key service.

In this other recent post, Drum discussed recent remarks by Slate's Dahlia Lithwick.  It's his promised follow-up to yesterday's post. Quite correctly in our view, he complains about our floundering tribe's frequent lack of clarity.

You can judge his assessment as you will, but more than anything else on earth, our tribe probably needs to stop trusting academic / journalistic authority. 

The people in question aren't real sharp. Neither is anyone else!


MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2022

The downfall / defeat of our tribe: Last Friday morning, our blue tribe absorbed a terrible political defeat.

In response, MSNBC scheduled a special two-hour broadcast of its regular weeknight program, The 11th Hour.

The program debuted in September 2016, hosted by Brian Williams. At that time, Williams was emerging from the journalistic wilderness into which he had been consigned after he invented various claims about himself and others.

Last November, Williams announced that he was leaving NBC. In March of this year, he was formally replaced by Stephanie Ruhle, who has spent the past several months building peculiar artifacts around her work as the program's host.

Every night, Ruhle tells us that watching that evening's program is going to "make us smarter." For herself, she has spent the past month or so developing an array of peculiar poses in which she leans her chin on her hands as she listens to her guests, oddly seeming to evoke Rodin's The Thinker.

(The poses predated the slogan.)

We've been disappointed to see Ruhle behave in such peculiar ways. She has always struck us as the MSNBC host most likely to ask the occasional question, or to make the occasional remark, which breaks through the iron curtain of Mandated RightThink which now defines the terrain of the channel's thoroughly segregated political subject matter.

Occasionally, Ruhle still asks such unexpected questions or makes such unexpected remarks. (Almost no one else does.) That said, consider just one of the many inane remarks which littered Friday's two-hour show, in which we saw how this corporate channel is going to respond to what happened on Friday.

Early in Friday's program, Ruhle introduced her initial three-member pundit panel.

"Let's get smarter with the help of our lead-off panel tonight," she said, repeating a form of the branding mantra she now recites every night.

After introducing the panel, Stephanie Ruhle, a good, decent person who isn't a dope, proceeded to offer this performance:

RUHLE (6/24/22): Ladies, thank you so much for being here tonight. I feel like I need to start tonight's program sort of with a collective deep breath, there is so much [PAUSES, EXHALES DEEPLY] to get through.

We don't know what made Ruhle think she was performing a collective deep breath. Still, that's what she said.

Around the country, some young women are almost surely going to die because of the decision Ruhle's panel would be discussing. Other women, and sometimes their husbands or boyfriends, will have their lives transformed.

Despite this fact, Ruhle chose to begin with an absurdly performative deep exhalation. As she did, she assured us rubes, as she does every night, that her program would make us smarter. 

In all honesty, the inanities were many this night. Because MSNBC is slow-walking its production of transcripts—almost surely for obvious reasons—it's hard to record them all.

That said, Ruhle's inane behavior with her first panel reached its zenith at the end of their segment. Somewhere, some young women are going to die, but the multimillionaire star said this as she went to commercial break:

RUHLE: Katie Benner, Melissa Murray, Joyce Vance, it is always a privilege to have you on, but especially tonight. Thank you all for bringing your expertise, but especially for being my friend.

Somewhere, people are going to die. But the main point wasn't the alleged "expertise" of Ruhle's guests. The more important point, on this occasion of vast defeat, was the fact that her guests were (said to be) her friends.

As viewers of this channel know, Ruhle was exercising a standard bit of corporate branding as she performed this script. Over the course of the past several years, the bosses at MSNBC have instructed the program's various seven- and eight-figure hosts that they must repeatedly assure us, the channel's highly gullible viewers, that the likable gang we see on its programs are just a big circle of "friends."

This cheerful branding got its start as the title of a popular network sitcom. It then jumped over to Fox & Friends, the dumbest show in the history of "cable news." 

From there, the cheerful branding technique migrated to modern-day MSNBC. This silly, mandated condescension is reliably enacted, on a daily basis, by the channel's obedient hosts. 

Indeed, at the very start of Friday's program, Ruhle had already referred to Maura Barrett, a much younger NBC reporter who is almost never seen on MSNBC, as "my friend and colleague."

We're prepared to guess that Ruhle and Barrett aren't "friends" in any normal sense of the term. That said, blue tribe voters who watch this channel are condescended to in this dimwitted way night after night after night. If you watch Deadline: White House, you'll even be told, day after day, that you're being joined by some of Nicolle Wallace's "favorite reporters and friends!"

This is part of a branding effort in which we viewers are led to believe that we ourselves are part of a circle of friends. Best of all, we know that our friends will never say anything that doesn't comport with our preconceived viewpoints.

There is nothing this network's bosses won't do to show us how dumb they think we are.  Most of all, they do this:

Just as it's done on the Fox News Channel, they present lineups of "experts" which are completely segregated by viewpoint. 

As on Fox, so too here. The "expert" guests who appear on these shows will never stray from preapproved corporate scripts and Storylines. Complexity is never allowed to enter the picture, which brings us to the sad performances seen on today's Morning Joe.

Good God! In that program's opening hour, the guests all followed the lead of their host, denouncing The Others as "fascists." This morning, the lineup included Beschloss and Gay and Litman oh my.

They all recited the most simple-minded possible views of the Supreme Court's recent decision.

Fascists fascists fascists fascists, the gang of best friends all said. But it fell to Mika, late in the hour, to offer the dumbest performance.

Mika read from a Caitlin Flanagan piece for the Atlantic. According to Mika (and a chyron), the essay carried this headline:

The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate

As Mika read excerpts from the essay, she didn't mention the fact that Flanagan's piece appeared in December 2019. She also failed to mention a more important fact. Neither she nor the chyron mentioned the second part of the dual headline which sits atop the piece:

Why we need to face the best arguments from the other side

The new segregation is like this!

Uh-oh!  In her 2019 essay, Flanagan said that leading spokespeople from both sides of the abortion debate are offering dishonest presentations. She said that people from both political tribes should consider the best arguments concerning abortion and abortion rights made by the other side.

You can agree with that or not, but only Mika would treat it this way—selectively quoting the parts of the piece which criticized the dishonesty of The Others, of those on The Other Side.

In fairness, we'll guess that Mika may not have read Flanagan's piece. She may have simply been reading copy prepared by her program's producers.

That said, you'll rarely see a better example of the spectacular dumbness of the "intellectual leadership" provided to those On Our Side. This spectacular dumbness very much helps explain how we got to this place.

How did our highly self-impressed tribe ever reach this place? We'll examine that question all week, even as experts continue to say that there's no clear way out of this mess.

To watch the tape of Mika's monologue, you can just click here. In the two minutes in which she's plainly reading text, she drops the F-bomb six separate times. For whatever reason, producers didn't post tape of Joe's earlier presentation, in which he lustily introduced this theme for the day.

As she speaks, Mika is never thoroughly clear about who the fascists are. Is she talking about certain Republican leaders? Is she talking about some of your neighbors and friends?

At times like these, it doesn't much matter. The silly Southern boys tell Miss Scarlett that they want to get after the Yankees. Political savvy is thrown to the winds and the joy of the name-calling starts. 

According to experts, some of The Others may be fascists, but our own thought leaders are dumb. They've proven this for a long time. 

Experts say that's not a fair fight. It has finally led us to this deeply unfortunate place.

Tomorrow: Truly, where to begin?

Top major news orgs try to explain!


Counting to six can be hard: The statement is bannered across the top of this morning's New York Times.

Counting to five (or to six) can be hard! As you can see by clicking here, the Times banner headlines say this:

A 6-to-3 Ruling Ends Fifty Years of Federal Abortion Rights

We were a bit surprised—perhaps almost a bit confused—by the banner headline's reference to that "6-to-3 ruling." 

We were surprised by the baldness of that headline. In fairness to whoever wrote the headline, the Times report, by Adam Liptak, starts off exactly like this:

LIPTAK (6/25/22): The Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority in the 6-to-3 decision, one of the most momentous from the court in decades.

You can hardly blame the headline writer for citing a "6-to-3 ruling." According to the published text of the front-page report, Alito had written for the majority in a "6-to-3 decision" as the Court "overturned Roe v. Wade."

That said, we were hardly the only ones who were perhaps a bit confused by the statistics. Later in the front-page report, Liptak offers this:

LIPTAK: The decision left important questions unanswered and revealed tensions among the five justices in the majority. 

Dearest readers, it's just as we've told you. At the very top of our upper-end press corps, statistics can be very hard!

The question we ask should be obvious. If there were only "five justices in the majority," why does that banner headline refer to a "6-to-3 ruling?" Also, why does Liptak's text cite a "6-to-3 decision?"

In fairness, Liptak makes a few fuzzy attempts to explain the confusion. That said, we've looked at the Washington Post, the Associated Press and Reuters, and no one presents a more muddled picture than our tribe's greatest newspaper does.

At the Washington Post, the editorial board tells a different story in a very explicit way. Headline included, this is the way the Washington Post's editorial begins:

The Supreme Court’s radical abortion ruling begins a dangerous new era

In a reckless fit of judicial activism that will redound for generations, the Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the half-century-old precedent that declared that Americans have a constitutional right to obtain abortions. It is hard to exaggerate how wrongheaded, radical and dangerous this ruling is, and not just for anyone who could ever become pregnant. A 5-to-4 majority has thrust the country and the court itself into a perilous new era, one in which the court is no longer a defender of key personal rights.

Consolidating the work of these two newspapers, a 5-to-4 majority somehow created a 6-to-3 decision!

As noted, the Times produced the murkiest work among the four major news orgs whose presentations we've reviewed. In print editions of the Washington Post, the corresponding front-page report starts like this, double headline included:

Roe v. Wade struck down
Roberts says court went too far, doesn't join majority

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the fundamental right to abortion established nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade, a stunning reversal that could alter the nation’s political landscape and leaves states free to drastically reduce or even outlaw a procedure that abortion rights groups said is key to women’s equality and independence.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

The vote was 6 to 3 to uphold a restrictive Mississippi law. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. did not join the opinion and criticized his conservative colleagues for taking the additional step of overturning Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a subsequent case decided in the early 1990s that reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion.

According to that front-page report, Chief Justice Roberts didn't "join the opinion" which overturned Roe. Indeed, we're told that he didn't "join the majority" right in that second headline.

The Post's report may leave the typical reader wondering how these procedures work. How can a Justice vote to "uphold a law" without "joining the opinion?" Exactly how does that work?

In truth, we haven't seen a single news org which explained this matter with care. For our money, the New York Times' banner about the "6-to-3 ruling" created the most confusion.

Readers, can we talk? Here in our human world, counting to six can be hard! Also, consider this timeless bromide:

The man with one watch always knows the time. The man with two watches is never quite sure!

That's the old joke called "Goldberg's Law," a joke we learned from Paul Reiser. In the current case, the citizen with one newspaper may think he knows the size of the vote. The citizen with several newspapers may no longer be sure.

As anyone with cable knows, we humans don't always reason especially well. That's even true at the highest ends of high academic culture, a point the later Wittgenstein kept trying to establish. 

This fascinating problem surfaces when people try to explain the theory of relativity or Gödel's incompleteness theorems. Such tasks are extremely hard to achieve. In wonderfully amusing ways, we humans tend not to notice the fact that we constantly try and fail.

Earlier this week, Kevin Drum was willing to take The Gödel Challenge. For our money, he didn't succeed at this task, but so what? Neither has anyone else! 

(Your assessment of his effort may differ.)

According to the leading authority on the topic, Gödel was one of the three most significant logicians in the history of the western world. But what exactly did Gödel prove? And did his work even make sense?

Did this greatest logician's work make sense? For an array of reasons, we're prepared to believe that the answer could be no. 

Of course, the fact that no one can explain what Gödel actually did makes this question hard to resolve. In our view, it's a deeply human story.

We hope to return to the topic soon. But all of a sudden, Roe is gone, defeated by a 6-3 ruling by a five-vote majority.

How did we manage to reach this place? Our blue tribe's incompetence comes center stage when such a question is asked and answered.

We may review the history next week. It involves Al Gore's troubling three-button suits, and You-Know-Who's endless clowning.

Our tribe has gamboled and played for a very long time. Given the way our human brains are wired, it's quite hard for us to see this.

HOME IMPROVEMENT: Does our tribe need to improve its game?

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2022

Some reasons for saying yes: Yesterday's presentation by the January 6 committee focused on a remarkable meeting in the Oval Office.

The meeting occurred on January 3, 2021. For the record, the information presented yesterday wasn't exactly new.

The Washington Post had described this same meeting in this detailed report which appeared online ten days ago, on June 14. The lengthy report was widely discussed when it appeared. Oddly, we found no sign that the remarkable report had ever appeared in the Washington Post's print editions.

That said, yesterday's presentation was riveting. At one point, Rep. Adam Kinzinger described then-president Donald J. Trump strangely saying this:

KINZINGER (6/23/22): The Select Committee confirmed that a call was actually placed by Secretary Miller to the attache in Italy to investigate the claim that Italian satellites were switching votes from Trump to Biden. 

This is one of the best examples of the lengths to which the president—President Trump would go to stay in power, scouring the Internet to support his conspiracy theories—shown here, as he told Mr. Donoghue in that December 27th call, quote, "You guys may not be following the Internet the way I do."

Were Italian satellites somehow switching votes from Trump to Biden? Scouring the Internet (or being so directed), Donald J. Trump had landed on a crazy claim to that effect. 

According to notes from the January 3 meeting, he scolded three top Justice Department officials because they hadn't been "following the Internet" to the same extent. Trump was aware of the crazy claim, and his three underlings weren't.

This is the type of comment which provokes group hilarity on our tribe's cable channels. For us, it's the type of comment which makes us wonder if Donald J. Trump is cognitively impaired in some serious way, or if he may be in the grip of some (serious) mental health issue.

Presumably, Trump's bizarre, scolding remark seemed crazy to those in the room. It seems that the very peculiar Donald J. Trump wasn't equipped to know that. 

That said, we encountered a lot of statements which struck us as odd as we watched yesterday's hearing, along with the subsequent commentary. One such statement was this:

KINZINGER: The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you've committed a crime. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

Kinzinger's statement came late in the hearing. It has been widely echoed all over blue tribe cable and in the mainstream press.

We can't assess the motives or thinking of anyone who may have asked for a pardon. However, we can say this:

The highlighted statement strikes us as stunningly unintelligent. But then, our own blue tribe has crossed many lines in the past six to ten years.

Does our tribe need to improve its political game if it hopes to win future elections? Presumably, everyone always has room for improvement, but our tribe is significantly disadvantaged by several features of our creaking electoral systems.

In a recent post, Kevin Drum called attention to one of these disadvantages. The post in question caid this:

DRUM (6/22/22): I got aimlessly directed to the latest Fox News poll this morning, and as I was browsing through it I came across its results for the generic congressional ballot ("Would you vote for the R or D candidate in your district?")


For some reason I was under the impression that Democrats were way underwater right now, but the difference is actually only three points. FiveThirtyEight has it at two points.

Obviously that's hardly good news for Democrats, who need to be well ahead to retain their majority, but it doesn't quite sound like a disaster either. And who knows? Maybe Dems can get their act together and improve on this. It's not the craziest idea in the world.

(Close, though.)

It's true! Due to several factors, Democrats need to win the national popular vote in House elections by a fairly substantial amount in order to break even in the number of House seats won. (Due to several factors, they may need to be ahead in the polls by 6-8 points to end up winning by three.) 

Under current arrangements, even winning by three points may not get Democrats there. Here are two recent examples of the way this foofaw works:

November 2016: In the 2016 House elections, Republicans won the nationwide popular vote in House elections by just over one percentage point, but they won a large majority of House seats (241 R, 194 D).

November 2020: In 2020, Democrats won the nationwide popular vote in House elections by just over three percentage points, but they won a slender majority of House seats (222 D, 213 R).

No two elections are just alike, but under current arrangement, electoral systems work against Dems on almost all federal levels. In part for this reason, our blue tribe needs to improve its performance—but human nature being what it is, we may not be so inclined.

At present, our tribe is involved in a great civil war involving two tribes, red and blue.  Our tribe could get wiped out in the fall—or then again, maybe not!

At present, the January 6 committee is playing a large role in the discourse. With the exception of its initial, prime-time hearing, the hearings have even aired live on Fox. 

(Yesterday, Fox cut away from the hearing at 5 P.M., skipping its last 25 minutes, so it could air an especially dimwitted version of its high-rated program, The Five.)

During these televised hearings, people are seeing extensive testimony concerning the astounding behavior of Donald J. Trump during his last few months in office. Could this material possibly shift the current political balance in the country?

Yes, of course, it possibly could. But then again, it may not.

For ourselves, we've been massively struck, in the past 24 hours, by the moral and mental weakness of our tribe's established thought leaders, especially those who drive the discussion on cable. 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our established leadership is quite mediocre. Even grading on the curve, we may be excessively generous if we grant them their legacy C's.

In letters in this morning's New York Times, several members of our tribe beg for indictments of Donald J. Trump.  Should Trump be indicted for his conduct prior to January 6? 

We don't know the answer to that question. Even if Trump committed a definable crime, it strikes us as a difficult call, unless the ongoing committee hearings are changing the nation's political balance.

Meanwhile, is it possible that Donald J. Trump is disordered in a literal clinical way? We've wondered about that question for years. His reported remark about "following the Internet" made us wonder about it again—but it didn't affect the Storylines of our tribalized pundits at all.

On cable, our "journalists" are openly rooting for indictment. It would be silly to say that they aren't.

We think these stars should get over themselves—should let American journalism be journalistic again. Attempting to explain what we mean by that would take the next hundred years.

For ourselves, we almost never like the idea of sending people to jail. Many people are inclined to feel differently, especially at times of war. 

That said, our tribe is facing a difficult political problem. It isn't clear that any such problem can be solved by legal means.

"We must be friends," President Lincoln once urged. "Our human brains aren't wired that way," disconsolate experts have said.

UPDATE AFTER TYPING: And now, the end of Roe v. Wade. That may affect things too.

HOME IMPROVEMENT: Called away from our sprawling campus!


Home Improvement resumes tomorrow: We've been called away from our campus this morning. For that reason, the next installment in our Home Improvement series be postponed till tomorrow.

Later today, our afternoon explorations will continue. We'll continue with the valiant effort by Kevin Drum, our long-time favorite blogger, to explain Godel's incompleteness theorems.

Can anyone explain Godel's work in a way the general reader can understand? If the answer to that question is no, quite a few other questions may follow.

We'd call this a study of human nature. We'd call it "the beautiful game."

Most important logician of little use!


Drums along the theorems: We should have known that Kevin Drum would stab us in the back!

We'd selected Kevin to serve as judge of those who took The Gödel Challenge. Under the rules, contestants would send him their attempts to explain Gödel's incompleteness theorems. 

He would decide if anyone had been able to explain the theorems in a way which made actual sense.

Instead of playing by these rules, Kevin has gone ahead and explained Gödel's work by himself! Or at least he has tried to do so. Now, you'll have to be the judge—and that's hardly fair to you.

First question: Has Kevin explained Godel's theorems in a way you can understand? Beyond that, have you come away with any idea why anyone is supposed to care about Gödel's hugely significant work?

You'll have to answer those questions yourselves. For today, we'll note an intriguing part of what Kevin says—something we assume is completely correct.

Kevin's elucidation comes in four parts. At the start of Part 3, he alarmingly tells us this:

So far, what Gödel has done is inventive and easy to understand. What comes next is world historically insightful and more or less impossible to understand for non-mathematical laymen. But let's go ahead with a simplified version.

Kevin has made an interesting claim in that passage. He has said that Godel's work is "more or less impossible to understand for non-mathematical laymen." 

This suggests the first point we'd be inclined to make about Gödel the logician. Even if his work turns out to make sense, it's going to play zero role in the daily lives of non-specialists.

Gödel's work is "more or less impossible to understand for non-mathematical laymen!"  That doesn't mean that his work is "wrong" in some respect. Imaginably—you may have to imagine hard—his work could even be useful in some way, in some technical realm. 

That said:

Kevin says that Godel's work is "more or less impossible [for you] to understand." Given the role of logic in our nation's daily discourse, we'd call that an interesting statement—and as he continues his explanation of Godel's work in Parts 3 and 4, he keeps repeating variants of this assessment:

"In day-to-day use, Gödel's theorem plays no role," he says at one point. A bit later, he offers this:

"Working mathematicians go through life never knowing anything about Gödel, who is of interest mostly to abstract logicians."

Even if we assume that Godel's work makes sense on its own terms, it seems to be disappearing into the ether. Then, at last, the coup de grace:

Long story short, Gödel's theorem is both enormously important but also of little use in real life. This is the way of things.

Whether it makes sense or not, Gödel's theorem is of little use. Of little use in real life! 

If that is true, it isn't immediately clear why Gödel's theorems would be "enormously important," or even important at all. But this does suggest the initial point we've been aiming at in our first two presentations this week:

You'll recall the starting point for this week's exploration. We were working from this presentation by the leading authority on Gödel's ballyhooed work:

Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978) was a logician, mathematician, and philosopher. Considered along with Aristotle and Gottlob Frege to be one of the most significant logicians in history, Gödel had an immense effect upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when others such as Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, and David Hilbert were using logic and set theory to investigate the foundations of mathematics, building on earlier work by the likes of Richard Dedekind, Georg Cantor and Frege.

According to the leading authority, Gödel was one of the three most significant logicians in all of western history. That said, we've now been told, we'll assume correctly, that his work "is of little use in real life." 

Indeed, his work is of so little use that it's "of interest mostly to abstract logicians," whoever they may be. Forget about the average shlub! Even most working mathematicians are said, we assume correctly, to "go through life never knowing anything about Gödel" at all!

What does it mean when the most significant logician of the past century—one of the two most significant logicians of the past several thousand years—has produced work which is said to be of interest to almost no one? Among other things, it could mean this:

It could mean that no one pays any attention to the problems of what might be called "daily logic." This may help explain the three million logical errors which infest our failing national discourse on an hourly basis, and then on into the night.

We haven't answered the basic question—does Gödel's work even make sense? For reasons we'll eventually cite, we still wouldn't assume that it does. We wouldn't assume that it doesn't.

That said, no one has heard of the two most significant logicians of the past several thousand years! The professors withdraw while the journalists flail. Mister Trump rises to power. 

HOME IMPROVEMENT: Was the Constitution divinely inspired?


Respect for the viewpoints of Others: Rusty Bowers was the first witness at yesterday's meeting of the January 6 committee.

Bowers is the conservative leader of the Arizona House. For us, his frontier-adjacent, spare speaking style seemed to recall the late Barry Goldwater—and possibly Sandra Day O'Connor, who grew up in deep isolation on a large cattle ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border, nine miles from the nearest paved road. 

Back in 2020 and 2021, Bowers refused to go along with deranged requests from Rudy Giuliani and Donald J. Trump. He had supported and voted for Donald J. Trump—but now he refused his requests.

At one point, pausing due to emotion, Bowers made the statement shown below. We were a bit surprised:

BOWERS (6/21/22): Deny your oath, I will not do that.  And on more than one—on more than one occasion throughout all this, it has been brought up. 

And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired—of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so, for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being.

For the full transcript of yesterday's meeting, click here.

Bowers believes that the Constitution is a "divinely-inspired" document. Nor does he seem to be alone in that view.

At the end of the day's presentation, vice chair Liz Cheney made the following statement. She was addressing Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, two of the day's other witnesses:

CHENEY (6/21/22):We've been reminded by you, and by Speaker Bowers and Secretary of State Raffensperger and Mr. Sterling, that our institutions don't defend themselves. Individuals do that. And we've been reminded that it takes public servants. It takes people who've made a commitment to our system to defend our system. We also have been reminded what it means to take an oath under God to the Constitution, what it means to defend the Constitution.

And we were reminded by Speaker Bowers that our Constitution is indeed a divinely inspired document. And so it's been an honor to spend time with you and with our previous witnesses here today. 

According to the highlighted statement, Cheney believes that the Constitution was divinely inspired too.

For ourselves, we don't believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired. In fairness, we can't really say that we disbelieve that proposition. Truth to tell, we've never given the possibility a single moment of thought.

Was the Constitution divinely inspired? Though we were familiar with that point of view, we were briefly surprised to see Bowers state his belief about this matter. 

We were a bit surprised, all over again, when we saw Cheney second the motion.

For ourselves, we don't hold any religious beliefs at all. Having said that, we're aware of the fact that many millions of other people do. 

In Bowers' case, his voice broke on several occasions as he explained that he refused the deranged requests of Giuliani and Trump because his religious beliefs are so strong. We thought of President Clinton's passage about the Arkansas Pentecostals, and we thought about the wide array of human belief and experience.

Our blue tribe is occasionally somewhat less than perfect when it comes to the task of respecting the viewpoints of Others. We've often mentioned that passage by Clinton as an example of the way a successful political figure may end up being liked and respected, and also winning elections, if he or she is able to form a more ecumenical view.

Clinton wrote about his home state's Pentecostals in his 2003 memoir / autobiography, My Life. We first mentioned the passage in question way back in 2004

According to Clinton, his state's Pentecostals didn't tend to vote for him when he ran for office statewide. That said, he described his admiration and respect for this group in one of the most unusual passages you'll ever see a Democratic politician transfer onto paper.

Clinton described the way he would always attend an annual meeting of Arkansas' Pentecostals. We'll recommend that you read the whole thing, but along the way, he offered such statements as these:

CLINTON (pages 251-252): Far more important than what I saw the Pentecostals do were the friendships I made among them. I liked and admired them because they lived their faith. They are strictly anti-abortion, but unlike some others, they will make sure that any unwanted baby, regardless of race or disability, has a loving home. They disagreed with me on abortion and gay rights, but they still followed Christ’s admonition to love their neighbors.


Knowing the Pentecostals has enriched and changed my life. Whatever your religious views, or lack of them, seeing people live their faith in a spirit of love toward all people, not just your own, is beautiful to behold. If you ever get a chance to go to a Pentecostal service, don’t miss it.

That last statement was a genuine topper! Along the way, Clinton had also said this:  

“Besides being true to their faith, the Pentecostals I knew were good citizens. They thought it was a sin not to vote.”

Bill Clinton wasn't a Pentecostal. He didn't share their religious perspectives—and his state's Pentecostals tended to vote against him. 

That said, he told the world that he liked and admired them as people. Someone else might have rejected them as the latest gaggle of Others, but Clinton said that knowing these others had "enriched and enhanced [his] life."

Today, members of our flailing blue tribe are embracing certain people from the other side. Lynn Cheney is one such person. Yesterday, Bowers became another—and that's not all! 

This morning, there was George Conway, he of the Clinton-chasing "elves," sitting on the Morning Joe panel, eagerly embraced by our side. For the record, we aren't saying he shouldn't be embraced, though we also aren't saying he should be.

For ourselves, we don't hold religious views. On the other hand, we're aware of the fact that several billion other people do, all around the world. 

Members of our flailing blue tribe are occasionally rude about people who do. As our ministry continues this week, we'll offer this fleeting thought:

We might have more success, in the political tribe we call home, if we improved the way we play with regard to (several) such matters. 

Admittedly, this would be a type of long-term home improvement project. That said:

Within our personal memory, it all goes back to that one nagging incident. It took place in the autumn of 65, during our freshman year!

Tomorrow: Whatever comes next

He's one of the three most important logicians!

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2022

This is what he did: As we noted yesterday, he's one of the three most significant logicians in the history of the western world.  Or at least, that's pretty much what the leading authority on the widely-ignored topic says.

We're discussing a time span of roughly 2500 years! Let's refresh ourselves:

Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978) was a logician, mathematician, and philosopher. Considered along with Aristotle and Gottlob Frege to be one of the most significant logicians in history, Gödel had an immense effect upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when others such as Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, and David Hilbert were using logic and set theory to investigate the foundations of mathematics, building on earlier work by the likes of Richard Dedekind, Georg Cantor and Frege.

Aristotle, Frege and Gödel! Many people have heard of the first of the three. The other two, not so much!

Yesterday, we asked you what that somewhat peculiar fact might possibly mean. What does it mean when no one has heard of Frege and Gödel—when no one has heard of the two top logicians of the past (more than) two thousand years?

Today, we'll postpone an attempt at an answer. Instead, let's continue along with the leading authority as we start to learn what Gödel actually did.

According to that overview, Gödel was the most significant logician of the 20th century. Continuing along from the text shown above, this is what he did:

Gödel published his first incompleteness theorem in 1931 when he was 25 years old, one year after finishing his doctorate at the University of Vienna. The first incompleteness theorem states that for any ω-consistent recursive axiomatic system powerful enough to describe the arithmetic of the natural numbers (for example Peano arithmetic), there are true propositions about the natural numbers that can be neither proved nor disproved from the axioms. To prove this, Gödel developed a technique now known as Gödel numbering, which codes formal expressions as natural numbers. The second incompleteness theorem, which follows from the first, states that the system cannot prove its own consistency.

Gödel also showed that neither the axiom of choice nor the continuum hypothesis can be disproved from the accepted Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory, assuming that its axioms are consistent. The former result opened the door for mathematicians to assume the axiom of choice in their proofs. He also made important contributions to proof theory by clarifying the connections between classical logic, intuitionistic logic, and modal logic.

No one has ever heard of Frege, or of Gödel either. Can you start to see why that might be? Does this start to suggest some thoughts about possible flaws, or even shortcomings, in our failed intellectual culture? 

As Butch said to Sundance, "Who are these guys?" You're invited to come back tomorrow for another quick-hitting delight!

HOME IMPROVEMENT: Quite a few people voted for Trump!

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2022

"We are not enemies, but friends:" In the 2020 presidential election, quite a few people voted for Donald J. Trump.

In fact, he racked up more than 74 million votes. Nationwide, the final tally is officially said to have looked like this:

2020 presidential election:
Trump: 74.2 million votes (46.9%)
Biden: 81.3 million votes (51.3%)

According to this official account, Donald J. Trump received 74.2 million votes. 

That said, Joseph R. Biden received even more votes than that. According to that official account, Biden received 81.2 million votes, a difference of roughly 4.4 percentage points.

Biden won the nationwide popular vote, but Trump got a boatload of votes. From that day to this, many members of our blue tribe have wondered how that could be—have wondered what those 74.2 million voters could possibly have been thinking.

At least in principle, it's a perfectly decent question, but our tribe has sometimes rejected attempts to seek out answers. When news orgs have ventured into the wilds, asking Trump voters to explain their thinking, members of our embattled tribe have often criticized them for doing so.

In effect, the policy known as "Don't ask, don't [let them] tell" was quite visibly back.

Why did so many people vote for Trump after four years of his governance? At least in theory, it's a perfectly decent question!

That said, it wouldn't be the worst idea to let some of those 74 million people offer their explanations. That said, there are other ways to review the 2020 vote totals, ways from which our own blue tribe might draw a bit of instruction.

For example, consider what the vote totals were like in "The Other 49." 

Biden won the state of California by a walloping 5.1 million votes. Vote totals in the other 49 states were therefore remarkably close:

2020 presidential election, The Other 49:
Trump: 68.2 million votes
Biden: 70.1 million votes

Biden won The Other 49, but by less than two million votes! For the record, Trump won 25 of those other states. Biden won just 24.

That walloping win in California represents a bit of a problem for the Democratic Party. Under current arrangements, the state's votes are overwhelmingly Democratic—but in common parlance, that involves a lot of "wasted votes." 

In presidential elections, the Democratic candidate receives California's electoral votes whether he or she wins the state of a lot or a little. Regarding the slightly misleading nature of those giant Golden State wins, consider the state of affairs which obtained in the 2016 election:

Candidate Clinton won the nationwide popular vote by some 2.9 million votes, but she won California by 4.3 million votes! By a fairly narrow margin, she actually lost the popular vote across The Other 49.

California is still part of the United States. In 2020, its roughly 17 million presidential votes were, of course, properly seen as part of the nation total.

That said, we don't elect our presidents on the basis of the nationwide popular votes, as we Democrats keep proving. And our overall thoroughly basic key point would be this:

A lot of people—a whole lot of people—voted for Donald J. Trump! Those people are Americans citizens too. In theory, they're the neighbors and the friends of those in our own blue tribe.

Why did those people vote as they did? In part because there were so many of them, we can't quite tell you that. 

We can tell you this. Even after four years of President Trump, the nationwide vote in our 2020 House elections was even closer than the vote between Candidates Biden and Trump.

Even after four years of President Trump, nationwide voting for the House was fairly close. Democratic candidates emerged with more votes, but the vote totals looked like this:

2020 House elections, total nationwide votes:
Republican candidates: 72.8 million votes (47.7%)
Democratic candidates: 77.5 million votes (50.8%)

The margin there was just a bit over three points. 

On a percentage basis, Candidate Trump ran behind his nationwide slate of congressional hopefuls. But even after four years of Trump, a very large number of neighbors and friends voted for his party. 

In The Other 49, Republican candidates for the House actually won more votes, if only by a narrow margin, than their Democratic counterparts did! For many in our own blue tribe, it's hard to fathom how Donald J. Trump, and his congressional party, could have gained so many votes. 

According to many political experts, the numbers are likely to be much worse for Democratic candidates in this fall's House elections. Even after two years of Donald J. Trump's post-election lunacy, millions of our neighbors and friends will be voting to put his party back in charge.

Our deeply self-impressed political tribe finds such matters hard to fathom. In hopes of winning future elections, how might we perform some self-improvement here in the tribe we call home?

Tomorrow: We continue from here

Just for the record: Just for the record, here are the additional data from the 2020 House elections:

2020 House elections, The Other 49:
Republican candidates: 67.2 million votes
Democratic candidates: 66.4 million votes

"We must not be enemies," President Lincoln once said.

We're prepared to admit that we succumbed!

MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2022

Afternoon delights: We're prepared to admit that we succumbed—that we did so over the weekend.

We had that 12-year-old kid in mind. We decided to take another shot at Our Most Intriguing Question:

Who the heck was Kurt Gödel? Also, did he actually prove or show anything? Did his work really make sense?

Who the heck was Gödel? We perused Professor Goldstein's book about his theorems again, but we also wandered afield. We checked to see what the leading authority said. 

Here's the start of what we found:

Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978) was a logician, mathematician, and philosopher. Considered along with Aristotle and Gottlob Frege to be one of the most significant logicians in history, Gödel had an immense effect upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when others such as Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, and David Hilbert were using logic and set theory to investigate the foundations of mathematics, building on earlier work by the likes of Richard Dedekind, Georg Cantor and Frege.

That's the start of the leading authority's presentation on Gödel. The point we were struck by is this:

According to the leading authority, Gödel is considered to be one of the three "most significant logicians in history." 

That said, you've heard of only one of the three. The other two? Not so much!

Very few people have ever heard of Frege. As far as that goes, very few people—though possibly a tiny few more—have heard of Gödel himself.

Many people have heard of Aristotle, but no one has heard of these other two. Our question would therefore be this:

What do you think that means? What does it mean when no one has heard of two of the three "most significant logicians" in the history of the western world? When no one has heard of the two "most significant logicians" of the past several thousand years!

What the heck do you think that means? Tomorrow afternoon, we'll continue along from there. 

The gods have told us that we need to start posting the work which will eventually be found by that unnamed 12-year-old kid. According to The Voices, he or she will eventually find our work and will go on to save civilization, much as the Irish once did.

For that reason, these afternoon postings will continue. And yes, we still want to be convinced that Gödel's theorems—he was one of the top three of all time—actually do make sense!

Do Gödel's theorems really make sense? Yes, we're actually asking.

We don't think it's clear what the answer will be. As we noted some time back, the gods have selected Kevin Drum to be the ultimate judge.

No fair asking around in Paris! The gods are quite firm about that.

Somewhat fuller disclosure: According to The Sources, this 12-year-old kid will have the skills which equip him to save the world.

STARTING TOMORROW: Self improvement!

MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2022

Political tribe, consider improving thyself: "The appearance on the front of a new arrival...became the topic of general conversation."

In those days, the new arrival was "a lady with a lapdog"—or at least, so Chekhov reported. This morning, the new arrival on the front was an ABC-Ipsos poll.

According to ABC News, the poll "was conducted using Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® June 17-18, 2022, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 545 adults."

That isn't a giant sample. But here's what the new arrival said, according to Meredith DeLiso, ABC headline included:

DELISO (6/19/22): 6 in 10 Americans say Trump should be charged for Jan. 6 riot

With the first full week of hearings for the House select committee's investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol now complete, nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe former President Donald Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the incident, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.

Six in 10 Americans also believe the committee is conducting a fair and impartial investigation, according to the poll.

As it turns out, that headline includes a slight overstatement. In this particular survey, 58% of respondents—that's slightly less than 6 in 10—said that Trump should be charged with a crime.

Concerning what that crime would be, respondents weren't asked to respond. Just for the record, the numbers haven't necessarily changed a huge amount from where they previously stood:

DELISO (continuing directly): In the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel, 58% of Americans think Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the riot. That's up slightly from late April, before the hearings began, when an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 52% of Americans thought the former president should be charged.

In April, before the current hearings began, 52% of respondents had said that Trump should be charged with a crime. Last week, after the first three hearings, that number stood at 58%, give or take margin of error.

That might be the start of a trend. Or it might be statistical noise.

Has Donald J. Trump committed a crime? We can't say we know. We do regard him as profoundly disordered, in a dangerous way, though tens of millions of our fellow citizens have a vastly different view.

At any rate, many Americans think that Trump should be charged with a crime. Then too, there's this morning's report from the state convention of the Texas Republican Party, as seen in the New York Times.

Once again, headline included:

Texas Republicans Approve Far-Right Platform Declaring Biden’s Election Illegitimate

The Republican Party in Texas made a series of far-right declarations as part of its official party platform over the weekend, claiming that President Biden was not legitimately elected, issuing a “rebuke” to Senator John Cornyn for his work on bipartisan gun legislation and referring to homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.”

The platform was voted on in Houston at the state party’s convention, which concluded on Saturday.


The state party’s resolution embracing the baseless 2020 stolen-election claims stated that “substantial election fraud in key metropolitan areas significantly affected the results in five key states in favor of” Mr. Biden. The state party, the resolution continued, rejected “the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States.”

Within our nation's formal party politics, the Texas GOP's annual platform is almost always the farthest right of all "far-right" declarations. For ourselves, we note the apparent absence of any evidence regarding the claim of "substantial election fraud in key metropolitan areas." 

We also note this fact:

Nineteen months after the "stolen election" in question, Donald J. Trump has never produced a white paper offering evidence in support of his endless claim that the election was stolen. He simply continues making the claim, and many of his supporters continue to believe it. 

In our tribe, we sometimes tend to content ourselves with calling his claim a "lie." In our view, that probably isn't the greatest idea. More on that to follow.

On today's Morning Joe, that new ABC-Ipsos poll was the "new arrival on the front." Such encouraging news is always bruited by the tribunes within our blue tribe, dating back to the several years when we were told, night after night, that The Talented Mr. Mueller was surely on his way to bringing Trump all the way down.

Did Donald J. Trump commit a crime in connection with the January 6 riot? If so, should he be indicted?

At this point, we don't know how to answer either question. We have thought, again and again, about some of the ways our own blue tribe has possibly helped Trump stay afloat.

How can our blue tribe heal itself—or at least improve its performance? We might start with a bit of improvement in self-awareness, dating back many years.

How can it be that a disordered fellow like Donald J. Trump got 74 million votes in the 2020 election?Also, who lost Uvalde County, Texas—and Aroostook County, Maine?

In the past, we've sometimes tended to shy away from full discussion of such questions. Starting tomorrow, we'll try to go into more detail about some of the possible ways our own blue tribe—it's disadvantaged by our nation's prevailing electoral systems—might be able to improve its game, to win a few more elections.

Superman Mueller never showed up; the Steele dossier came and went. This morning, some Morning Joe pundits seemed to have high hopes for the ongoing work of the January 6 committee. Others voiced words of warning.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to say that he won by a landslide in 2020. He has never made the slightest attempt to present the tiniest bit of evidence in support of this poisonous claim.

Nineteen months have drifted by since that fateful election. The former president has never attempted to offer evidence in support of his claim.  In our tribe, we seem to be satisfied with the ubiquitous claim that the fellow is lying. 

Could our blue tribe improve its game? Also, why do so many voters seem to loathe us?

Tomorrow, we'll start to ponder such questions. We still can see no easy way out of our nation's very large mess.

Tomorrow: Let's take a look at some numbers 

Did Loudermilk stage a "reconnaissance tour?"


Sherrill pours it on: President Abraham Lincoln had a peculiar idea. 

Peculiar though his notion was, its premise lies at the heart of a very large nation's ability to function. He stated his idea at the very end of his first inaugural address:

LINCOLN (3/4/61): I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. 

The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Thus spake the newly inaugurated president. This leads us to an ongoing current question:

Did Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) lead a reconnaissance tour of "the Capitol" on January 5, 2021? 

Stated a slightly different way, did Loudermilk, knowingly or unwittingly, help insurrectionists stage their subsequent attack on the Capitol building?

For the record, we don't know the answer to those questions. We'd guess that he didn't knowingly lead such a tour, but we have no way to be certain.

That said, the poisonous relations prevailing in Congress spill out with respect to this matter. In Congress, we're very much enemies at this time. We've long since ceased to be friends.

We can understand why members of Congress might have unusually strong feelings about the January 6 attack. That said, we'll admit that we recoil from the recent press release by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.):

SHERRILL (6/15/22): I have served our country as a federal prosecutor, and I know how important it is to investigate and collect evidence and to let that process run its course. The video evidence released today by the bipartisan January 6th committee, combined with the constantly shifting narrative and misdirection from Representatives Barry Loudermilk and Rodney Davis, calls into question their dedication to our common oath as Members of Congress.  

I remain committed to supporting this investigation into January 6th, so we ensure it never happens again.

Rep. Sherrill never tires of praising her own past service. Normally, she cites her military service as well as her experience as a federal prosecutor, seeming to say that these experiences provide her a special ability to spot evildoers. 

We were struck by the following aspect of this relatively muted recent statement:

Rep. Sherrill starts by noting the importance of investigating and collecting evidence—the importance of letting that process run its course. From there, she proceeds directly to a poisonous insinuation concerning two of The Others—a poisonous insinuation she didn't bother spelling out.

Did Loudermilk conduct a reconnaissance tour? Back in January 2021, Sherrill and others seemed to say that a very large number of such tours had been conducted on January 5. In part, these self-impressed members said this:

“Many of the Members who signed this letter, including those of us who have served in the military and are trained to recognize suspicious activity, as well as various members of our staff, witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex on Tuesday, January 5. This is unusual for several reasons, including the fact that access to the Capitol Complex has been restricted since public tours ended in March of last year due to the pandemic."

That was a strikingly sweeping allegation. An amazing seventeen months later, it seems that no one has conducted a serious investigation of that remarkable original charge.

Regarding the statements by Loudermilk and Davis, a fair amount of confusion seems to have infested the limited discussion of this topic, such as it has been. 

In fact, the tour conducted by Loudermilk never entered the Capitol Building itself. Concerning the claim you'll constantly hear on "cable news"—the claim that any such tours were forbidden at that time—a brief search concerning these questions quickly turned up this report:

TULLY-MCMANUS (1/13/21): Visitors, official tour groups and almost anyone without a congressional ID have been barred from the Capitol since mid-March, when the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic led congressional leaders to partially close the usually public building.

But members of Congress have been disregarding those strictures to bring in families and friends for small private tours for months, and Capitol Police stationed at entrances typically don’t challenge lawmakers to enforce rules.

That report appeared in Roll Call, one of the two semi-official newspapers of Capitol Hill. You'll note that the reporter seems to think the charge at issue concerned tours of the Capitol Building itself, not of "the Capitol complex," a later substitute.

It has been an amazing seventeen months since Sherrill, later joined by others, launched her remarkable charge. That remarkable charge may even be true—but seventeen months later, we see no sign that anyone, in any journalistic or governmental agency, has actually tried to investigate the initial sweeping charge.

That said, Sherrill stepped forward last week with a new dose of partisan poison. We'll admit that, when we see former prosecutors behaving this way, we sometimes wonder if this helps explain why our prisons and jails seem to be full of innocent people.

Did members of Congress conduct reconnaissance tours of the Capitol building, or perhaps of "the Capitol complex," on January 5? It's certainly possible, but we'll admit that we're tired of hearing Sherrill pretend that her professional experience provides her with a magical ability to assess such remarkable charges.

"We must not be enemies," President Lincoln alleged. In recent years, some Republican members of the House have made it hard to adopt such a stance, thanks to their crazy behavior.

Has the effort been abandoned? Earlier this year, when this same matter briefly boiled up again, Rep. Pelosi's office responded this way to an apparently inaccurate suggestion by Rep. Davis

BEITSCH (2/121): The Capitol Police Board, comprised of the sergeants-at-arms for both chambers and the Architect of the Capitol, oversees the Capitol Police. 

[Rep. Davis'] letter, however, is not addressed to the Capitol Police Board, which retains such footage, but to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who Republicans have increasingly sought to cast as having primary control over Capitol security.

“We’re sorry that Rep. Davis thinks he needs to act like a lunatic in order to win his Republican primary but as he knows the Speaker’s Office does not house the security footage from the U.S. Capitol,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement to The Hill. 

"We are friends, not enemies," Lincoln once strangely said.

For ourselves, we've found Sherrill's sense of certainty off-putting ever since this matter surfaced. (That doesn't necessarily mean that her claim was wrong.) Mainly, though, we're astonished that the original, sweeping accusation seems to have gone unexamined, even at this late date. 

Relying on her self-admitted exceptional judgment, Sherrill seemed to claim that there was a large number of such tours on January 5. Seventeen months later, she's throwing poison at Loudermilk, but no one seems to have attempted to examine the initial sweeping claim.

Meanwhile, out in the country, can we regular folk find ways to view each other as friends? This morning, on C-Span's Washington Journal, the very first "viewer call" started off like this:

ED FROM GEORGIA (6/18/22): I guess what bothers me the most about today's question is—

Every year, the Democrats like to bring up Watergate. But they never bring us the fact that when the Democrats, during World War II, invented the atomic bomb, they set it off in the United States. 

I mean, that's where they set off the bomb, in the United States. And everybody got cancer.

That was Ed's initial reaction to this morning's question. That question concerned "the Watergate legacy and trust in government."

Can you imagine seeing Ed as a friend? Before his comments were done, we found that we agreed to a certain extent with one of his basic points. That said, a giant nation can't survive if its citizens are constantly looking for ways to see each other as enemies, not as friends.

Did Loudermilk lead a reconnaissance tour? We have no way of knowing, one way or the other. (Absent overpowering evidence, we would be extremely loath to launch such a claim or suggestion.)

Seventeen months later, has anyone asked Rep. Sherrill to detail her sweeping initial claims? We get the impression that no one has. Not even on cable! 

As President Lincoln might have known, sweeping claims about The Others can be a great deal more fun. But can a giant nation survive a descent into such widespread loathing?

Lincoln endorsed the better angels. Four years later, he was killed.