Morning Joe discusses misogyny!


Better (way) late than never: This morning, we sat and watched Morning Joe all the way through to 7:30 a.m.

We did so because the group was having a lengthy discussion about the role of misogyny—alleged, apparent or fully performed—in modern-day politics, with a focus on the recent pitiful nonsense directed at Taylor Swift. 

Eventually, Scarborough even played videotape of Colin Cowherd's discussion of this topic from yesterday's FS1 show (Fox Sports 1). 

It's very rare for Cowherd to deal with topics which aren't directly sports-based. Yesterday, he did so. To watch the surprising four-minute monologue, you can just click here.

Yesterday, we saw Cowherd's discussion in real time, as it occurred. This morning, Scarborough played the tape at substantial length. This was all part of a very lengthy discussion this morning of a very important topic.

This morning's discussion was largely aimed at red tribe "MAGA" figures. For the record, smutty, misogyny-adjacent "just joking" ugliness is all over every Fox News "cable news" program which features the silly frat boy Jesse Watters or the angry and glowering Greg Gutfeld.

Below, we'll link you to Amanda Marcotte's treatment of Gutfeld's work. Before we do, we'll add this:

This has been going on forever. Starting in the 1990s, this weird gender-based pseudo-politics was all over the mainstream press corps, principally aimed at Hillary Clinton—with a weird offshoot aimed at male Democratic pols, Candidate Gore in particular.

Back then, it wasn't a couple of hacks like Watters and Gutfeld who kept playing those cards. For starters, it was Chris Matthews, very powerful then as the host of a daily cable news show when there weren't that many such programs around.

Going on Hardball built careers. Presumably for that reason, Matthews received little pushback. A very young Norah O'Donnell pushed back several times, and Chris would simply hammer her for it. Eventually Norah gave up, but we still admire her for the fact that she tried.

Chris' denigrations of Hillary Clinton were often batslurp crazy. So too with his lunatic denunciations of Candidate Gore, who he slimed as "today's man woman" because he was wearing three-buttons suits, allegedly as some sort of sexual signal to female voters.

It's hard to describe the degree of the crazy emerging from Chris at that time. It's all over the archives to this site, but all the blue tribe careerists knew that they mustn't notice his lunatic conduct and that they mustn't speak up.

Some of those people are still on our tribe's favorite shows. (Gene Robinson didn't say boo, but neither did anyone else.) Amazingly, Chris was maybe ten years into his jihad before any actual women's groups actually stood up and complained. At that time, Mathews threw David Schuster under the bus, then kissed and made up with Hillary Clinton, motoring forward from there.

(Stating the obvious, all that pounding, over all those years, helped send Trump to the White House.)

Maureen Dowd's gender politics were routinely very strange during that era. In Dowd's formulations, very Democratic male was a girly man, while every Democratic woman was a secret man. 

The people our gullible tribe respects all sat around saying nothing. We posted and posted and posted and posted but, as the famous song says:

I woke from my dream,
My idol was clay...

Our advice to you would be this—do not trust the people you see on your "cable news" channels. Do not trust the people who write for our biggest newspapers.

At most, you should "trust but verify," because they and their predecessors have failed you again and again and again. Among other things, people are dead all over the world because of the way they and their predecessors have frequently chosen to play.

As for the pitiful Gutfeld and Watters, three cheers for Amanda Marcotte! Yesterday, we stumbled upon the essay she recently wrote for Salon about an episode of the rancid show Gutfeld! 

We ourselves alluded to that episode, though only briefly, within the past week or so.

On that occasion, AOC was the termagant's target—and simply put, he needs to become a better person. As of today, he specializes in a sudden glowering anger which is routinely directed at women.

As a general matter, he quickly moves to hide anger through a well-designed getaway in which he presents himself as just a very naughty boy and also a hopeless scamp.

When we cited the Gutfeld! show in question, we mentioned the way Gutfeld had played on the idea that it must be hard for AOC because her balls are so much bigger than those which belong to her boyfriend. Gutfeld and Watters play variants of that naughty-boy routine over and over and over again, as a much wiser person named Dana Perino just sits there and enables it.

As in the 1990s, so too today—these people are willing to do whatever they're told to rake in the big TV bucks. As with the other tribe, our own tribe has been played by the people we're taught to trust again and again and again.

Last week, Marcotte did a lengthy essay which dealt in part with that same Gutfeld! show. Headline included, we offer this excerpt. We'll suggest that you read the whole thing

Greg Gutfeld's sexual obsession with AOC accidentally reveals the insecurities of the MAGA man


Earlier this week, Gutfeld tried to argue that Ocasio-Cortez is just projecting "her own insecurities about her boyfriend’s masculinity." And then he engaged in a gross, racist sexual fantasy about her: "This is why she is so pro-illegal immigration: she is projecting her secret desires for young, virile men who are coming here in droves."

Certainly, someone thinks a lot about the "virility" of immigrant men, but it's not the congresswoman from New York. Perhaps it is unfair to characterize Gutfeld as completely talentless: He certainly has a knack for provoking the sexual insecurities of his audience. Likely it's because he shares their entirely correct fear that others can see through their chest-thumping to, in Gutfeld's words, the "soft and buttery" condition of a typical Ford F-Series pick-up truck driver. The next day, Gutfeld doubled down on his unhinged attacks on Ocasio-Cortez, reassuring viewers that it's "OK" to use the word "retarded" to describe her.

This was a two-fer of cheap political incorrectness, punching down at people with mental disabilities, while also being a sexist slight against a woman's intelligence. Does anyone, even in the credulous Fox News audience, actually buy Gutfeld's attempt to insinuate that someone as pretty, charming and talented as Ocasio-Cortez is hard up for male attention? No, but obviously there is value for his viewers in the fantasy of it. The toxic masculinity that is the beating heart of the MAGA movement is fundamentally a psychological defense mechanism of men who, often for very good reason, secretly believe themselves to fall short of masculine ideals like courage and vitality. 

For ourselves, we'll only remind you that non-MAGA men (and women) have played these same cards. Today, blue tribe TV stars may tend to perform in the opposite direction, in part because that's what they're bosses are telling them to do.

For ourselves, we'd prefer to stay away from the sweeping diagnoses offered by Marcotte and even by Cowherd. That said, Watters are Gutfeld are a daily clown show. They behave this way night after night and no one says a word.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Our corporate-paid tribal leaders aren't always what you imagine.

Also, the campaign is on, and Candidate Biden is behind in seven of seven swing states. It's time to get extremely serious. It's time to stop playing around, to drop the dumb entertainment.

San Mateo's own Greg Gutfeld needs to get much better. The lords and ladies at our finest newspapers need to stop ducking away from Fox.

CAMPAIGN: The commander in chief has decided to act!


On MS, entertainment and error: In yesterday morning's Washington Post, David Ignatius defined the new lay of the land.

President Biden would soon be acting in his role as commander in chief. Ignatius, a deeply experienced foreign policy writer began his column as shown:

Biden calibrates his response as a slow-motion crisis arrives

“Target Tehran” after this past weekend’s drone strike on a U.S. base in northeastern Jordan, thundered Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sneered that President Biden would be “a coward unworthy of being commander in chief” unless he attacked Iranian forces and their proxies, inside and outside the country.

Calling for irresponsible actions without bearing responsibility for the outcome is a senatorial “perk,” I guess. Fortunately, Biden is thinking carefully about how to respond to the attack by an Iranian proxy that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded some 40 others—without, in the process, getting the United States into another open-ended Middle East war.

As the Biden White House weighs options, what thoughts are going through policymakers’ minds? Based on conversations with current and former officials, we can make some guesses about the president’s decision-making. He’s likely to take decisive action, but think hard about the consequences of the option he chooses.

So wrote David Ignatius at a deeply serious time. On the front page of the Post's print edition, above the fold, these sobering headlines appeared:

Biden faces treacherous choices in responding
White House fears wider conflict as Republicans call for decisive action

On Morning Joe, yesterday's program opened with an extended bit of clowning—but after that, an intensely serious discussion broke out. 

The program routinely turns to a trio of highly experienced guests—Ignatius, James Stavridis and Richard Haass—when it discusses serious foreign policy topics. In this case, the discussion featured Haass, long-standing former president of the Council on Foreign Relation.

A serious discussion broke out. On the whole, Scarborough said he was ready for war with Iran, Haass served as a voice of caution. 

By last night, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had made it clear that President Biden had made his assessments as to how the U.S. military was going to respond. On the merits and on the politics, it was a very serious time—but blue tribe cable news programs tended to open with lighter fare.

On Alex Wagner Tonight, Wagner discussed the impending military situation shortly after 8:30 p.m. She had opened with the day's most entertaining topic, and with a representation which was entertaining but inaccurate in at least one way.

She opened her program with Taylor and Travis—with the new excitement about Taylor Swift's romance. You can see her opening framework just by clicking here:

WAGNER (1/30/24): Bear with me here. A segment of right-wing media is convinced that the Kansas City Chiefs qualifying for the Super Bowl this year, it's actually a vast left-wing conspiracy. 

This plot all centers around the relationship between Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce and superstar musician Taylor Swift. a relationship the right wing now believes is actually a Deep State conspiracy to elect Joe Biden.

I am not kidding!


Men [sic] labor under a mistake, Thoreau once famously said. At various times, so do hosts of cable news shows, even those who serve our own tribe and vote the same way we do.

Under the rubric of that framework, Wagner proceeded to play videotape from several cable shows. 

The first clip came from the January 9 broadcast of Jesse Watters Primetime. The second clip was drawn from yesterday morning's broadcast of Fox & Friends.

Jesse Watters Primetime may be the stupidest show ever presented as an example of "cable news." The segment in question was truly astounding. Equally astounding is this fact:

This utterly D-minus, silly boy-child hosts a nightly "cable news" program—and his ludicrous conduct goes unmentioned all over the upper-end press. 

By now, such clowning has been normalized, in a process dating back roughly twenty-five years. This normalization began with the toleration of bizarre behavior on cable news programs run by NBC News in the late 1990s.

Below, we'll link you to tape of the Watters segment from January 9. According to the chyron above which he performed, Watters spoke with "STUART KAPLAN, FORMER FBI AGENT." 

What the two said was so utterly stupid that we won't summarize it here. We will say that Kaplan suggested that Swift may be operating as a Deep State "psy-op," perhaps unknowingly, as part of her current romance.

The Watters program actually gets that stupid! That said, the conversation on yesterday morning's Fox & Friends had nothing to do with any claim that the romance in question is part of a left-wing or Deep State conspiracy.

Nothing like that was said. All too often, to entertain and reassure viewers, corporate-paid cable news hosts labor under mistakes of this ratings-friendly type.

Instantly, let's be clear! The trio on Fox & Friends did discuss Taylor Swift during yesterday's program. But at no time were they saying anything about any kind of conspiracy involving her new romance. 

Instead, they simply discussed a front-page report from yesterday morning's New York Times. Headline included, then starting in paragraph 5, the New York Times was now reporting this:

Inside Biden’s Anti-Trump Battle Plan (and Where Taylor Swift Fits In)


Biden aides are drafting wish lists of potential surrogates, including elected officials, social media influencers and the endorsement of their wildest dreams: the global superstar Taylor Swift.

“It’s game on, the beginning of the general election,” said Representative Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire, the chair of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 97 centrist House Democrats. “We’ve got to win this.”


The biggest and most influential endorsement target is Ms. Swift, 34, the pop sensation and N.F.L. enthusiast, who can move millions of supporters with an Instagram post or a mid-concert aside. She endorsed Mr. Biden in 2020 and, last year, a single Instagram post of hers led to 35,000 new voter registrations. Fund-raising appeals from Ms. Swift could be worth millions of dollars for Mr. Biden.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a top Biden surrogate, all but begged Ms. Swift to become more involved in Mr. Biden’s campaign when he spoke to reporters after a Republican primary debate in September.

“Taylor Swift stands tall and unique,” he said. “What she was able to accomplish just in getting young people activated to consider that they have a voice and that they should have a choice in the next election, I think, is profoundly powerful.”

The chatter around Ms. Swift and the potential of reaching her 279 million Instagram followers reached such intensity that the Biden team urged applicants in a job posting for a social media position not to describe their Taylor Swift strategy—the campaign had enough suggestions already. 

So it went in the New York Times. For the record, the reported desire to acquire Swift as a surrogate does in fact make perfect sense now that the campaign has reached the point of "game on."

Yesterday morning, two of the friends on Fox & Friends discussed these very points. They accurately quoted the New York Times report. Nothing they said fit under the rubric of the crazy right-wing media discussing a Deep State conspiracy. 

They displayed the headlines from the Times report, then conducted a perfectly sensible discussion of the way some such endorsement could help the Biden campaign. You can see their discussion by clicking here, though we'll offer one word of warning:

They discussed the matter with Jimmy Failla, one of the Fox News Channel's current roster of ten thousand comedians. It's Failla's new book that the channel is aggressively selling to its millions of viewers this week.

Inclusion of the Fox & Friends gang was a minor error by Wagner. There was nothing crazy about what they said. They pimped no conspiracy theory. 

That said, for those of us within our blue tribe, claims like those are entertaining and fun. We wonder if the time has come, with the campaign now underway, to stop entertaining us blue tribe viewers and instead to take ourselves where the rubber will meet the road.

Watters played the fool on January 9, as he persistently does. 

We link you here to that gong-show pseudo-discussion. Almost surely, American "news" programming has never been this stupid at any time in the past.

Concerning the other clips that Wagner aired, let us say this about that. Vivek Ramaswamy did play the fool in the way her framework advertised. So too, or so it seems, did a ridiculous on-air host at the gong-show channel, OAN.

Jesse Watters had played the fool all the way back on January 9. Yesterday, though, the trio of friends on Fox & Friends didn't follow suit.

Instead, they discussed the contents of the report in the New York Times. So did the Morning Joe gang on this morning's program.

Each conversation made decent sense. The Fox stars made no ridiculous claims, although they frequently do.

On the merits and on the politics, our blue tribe now finds itself in a very serious time. President Biden will soon be acting as commander in chief. What happens will be very important. 

The political campaign has already started. Will we ever stop entertaining ourselves? Will we ever see our multimillionaire corporate stars put their feet right square on the ground in a long drive of our own—a long drive toward November?

According to a new Bloomberg survey, Biden's behind in all the swing states. When if ever do we blue denizens plan to stop playing around?

This afternoon: A brilliant discussion on Morning Joe concerning modern misogyny. 

Also, dim-bulb misogyny from Watters and Gutfeld. Hat tip Andrea Marcotte, though this story goes back many years.

Economy (and Krugman), don't fail us now!


Paul Krugman, Steve Rattner and Fox: People say the darnedest things about the U.S. economy. In today's column for the New York Times, Paul Krugman flags one familiar example:

KRUGMAN (1/30/24): [T]he world—especially MAGAworld—isn’t rational. And it’s a longstanding observation that Americans tend to say that national crime is rising even when it’s falling and even when they concede that it’s falling where they live.

Again, these misperceptions are strongly associated with partisanship, with a startling willingness of Republicans to believe things that aren’t true.

Falsely believing that Europe is a continent on the brink of ruin is one thing (although millions of Americans visit Europe and so get the chance to see for themselves each year). It’s much harder to excuse the belief that New York—one of the safest big cities in America—is some kind of urban wasteland...

The trashing of New York raises the question of the extent to which MAGA supporters are willing to disregard the evidence of their own eyes. People buy gas all the time; when Trump says “gasoline prices are now $5, $6, $7 and even $8 a gallon,” around twice the price plainly displayed on big signs all around the country, do his followers believe him?

For the record, it isn't just Trump who motors around wildly misstating the price of gas. The hacks on Fox do that all the time. So do callers to C-Span.

In our view, our own blue tribe is frequently conned by our thought leaders too. In our view, our tribe has paid a giant price for this (unacknowledged) phenomenon down through the past thirty years.

We'll continue to explore this theme as we track the campaign in the weeks ahead. For today, let's focus on Krugman's overall point about the U.S. economy.

Krugman's point is very familiar on the blue side of the bayou. In Krugman's assessment—and we're not exactly saying he's wrong—our economy is doing quite well:

KRUGMAN: [F]antasies are now the common currency of politics on the American right. ...America is still a nation riddled with inequality, insecurity and injustice. But the anxiety driving MAGA isn’t driven by reality. It is, instead, driven by dystopian visions unrelated to real experience.

That is, at this point, Republican political strategy depends largely on frightening voters who are personally doing relatively well not just according to official statistics but also by their own accounts, by telling them that terrible things are happening to other people.

This is most obvious when it comes to the U.S. economy, which had a very good—indeed, almost miraculously good—2023. Economic growth not only defied widespread predictions of an imminent recession but also hugely exceeded expectations; inflation has plunged and is more or less where the Federal Reserve wants it to be. And people are feeling it in their lives: 63 percent of surveyed Americans said that their financial situation is good or very good.

Yet out on the stump a few days ago, Nikki Haley declared that “we’ve got an economy in shambles and inflation that’s out of control.” And it’s likely that the Republicans who heard her believed her. According to a YouGov poll, almost 72 percent of Republicans said that our 3-2 economy—roughly 3 percent growth and 2 percent inflation—is getting worse, while only a little over 6 percent said that it’s getting better.

In Krugman's assessment, the U.S. economy had a year which was "almost miraculously good." That's a very common formulation within our own blue tribe—among a wide array of commentators who red tribe voters don't listen to, credit or trust.

Did red tribe voters believe what Nikki Haley said? Almost surely, we'll guess that many do. If you watch the baboons on the Fox News Channel—the professional wrestler; the low-grade comedians; the angry termagant; Bill O'Reilly's former silly boy on the street; the higher IQ types who are willing to play along—if you watch those people in recent days, you are constantly being told about this new financial analysis, pimped here by CBS News:

Americans need an extra $11,400 today just to afford the basics, Republican analysis finds

The typical American household must spend an additional $11,434 annually just to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed in January of 2021, right before inflation soared to 40-year highs, according to a recent analysis of government data.

Such figures underscore the financial squeeze many families continue to face even as the the rate of U.S. inflation recedes and the economy by many measures remains strong, with the jobless rate at a two-decade low. The analysis, from Republican members of the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee, taps government data such as the Consumer Price Index and Consumer Expenditure Survey to examine the impact of inflation state by state.

Even so, many Americans say they aren't feeling those gains, and this fall more people reported struggling financially than they did prior to the pandemic, according to CBS News polling. Inflation is the main reason Americans express pessimism about economy despite its bright points, which also include stronger wage gains in recent years.

The Biden administration called the analysis "flawed." Citing federal labor data, a White House spokesman noted that per capita disposable income has risen 16% since December 2020, just prior to President Joe Biden's inauguration.

The jugglers and clowns are all citing that $11,400 annual outage on Fox News Channel programs. The jugglers cite it as if it's an established fact, and very few people watching them will really be in any position to conduct an independent analysis.

Our biggest stars are inclined to write columns rolling their eyes at red tribe voters for this. 

As we constantly noted in the past, Krugman was our team's most valuable player for many years. That said, he himself has never told the truth about the dissembling which has been aimed at our own blue team by the newspaper for which he works, starting with the Whitewater pseudo-scandal and cascading forward from there.

There's no sign that Krugman is ever going to do any such thing, even though he surely knows the truth about such matters.

The "news report" to which we've linked comes from CBS News. Its author makes no attempt to conduct a serious frisking of that "Republican analysis."

Our nation has split into two separate teams. The red team has long since stopped listening to anything the blue team says. In turn, our blue team gets pleasured by the overpaid corporate stars on MSNBC, who feed us the storylines we most like to hear.

How accurate is Krugman's basic analysis today? We've seen similar rosy scenario posts from major blue figures we're inclined to trust, but when we've clicked the links to their sources, we've found ourselves reading reports which mention areas of deep economic hurt—sources of pain which went unmentioned by the upbeat blue tribe analyst.

(Often, that disappeared source of pain is increased housing costs.)

We have the highest regard for Krugman, but we think he's wandered too far into a blue bayou when it comes to the ways of red voters. That said, we watched Steve Rattner present some charts on today's Morning Joe, and it seemed to us that he had shot down the basic thesis of that "Republican analysis"—the analysis which is being pimped around the clock on Fox to a bunch of low-grade hired hands who don't have the slightest idea what they're talking about.

It seemed to us that Rattner did that. That said, we don't really know if he did, and neither do tens of millions of regular people who voted for Donald J. Trump.

(We expect to present a full listing of current Fox News dramatis personae in the days ahead.)

How do we enter the lives of others? How do we get other people to listen to us? Our big cable stars rarely ask such questions. They pleasure us blues with the frameworks we like, and because that keeps ratings and profits high, giant amounts of corporate money go into their bank accounts.

They've failed us again and again and again, but our blue tribe, like the other tribe, is too tribal to notice. The goons on Fox recite the key claims, and our blue stars direct condescension at the regular people who swallow their low-IQ guff.

The New York Times just lets it go. We've been discussing this problem for at least the past twenty years, dating back to the stupid claims about basic tax topics Sean Hannity wouldn't stop making.

This is a good way to lose campaigns. Like tribal beings everywhere, we're masters of this impulse.

CAMPAIGN: Over the weekend, we checked on the polls!


Also, we listened to voters: Over the weekend, a thought came to mind:

It had been a bit of a while since we'd looked in on the polls.

We were thinking, of course, of the Biden-Trump polls—the polls of November's presumptive election. We went to and we checked

What we saw didn't make us happy. Ipsos/Reuters had been in the field. One additional click of the mouse sped us to this report:

Most Americans are dissatisfied with their choices for president

Washington DC, January 25, 2024—New Reuters/Ipsos polling finds that Americans are dissatisfied with their choices for president. Most feel that Donald Trump (56%) and Joe Biden (70%) should not run for president again in 2024. 


When asked who they would vote for if the presidential election were held today, two in five Americans (40%) choose Trump, while about one in three (34%) pick Biden. The rest either say some other candidate (7%), they wouldn’t vote (11%), or they don’t know (8%).

In theory, there's a very long way to go—and, in various ways, this is going to be an election year without any serious precedent. But as we scrolled through the list of surveys at 538, it was true:

Candidate Donald J. Trump was ahead pretty much every time. 

You hear them saying that on Fox. When they say that, their statements are accurate.

We did something else this weekend; we heard America singing! We sat and watched C-Span's Washington Journal as neighbors and friends phoned in.

Sandburg knew the American people. So did Abraham Lincoln. On Sunday morning, callers were asked to comment on the role the economy was likely to play as they decided their vote. 

At 7:17 a.m., C-Span's moderator threw to Matthew in Somerset, Ohio. He was calling on the Independent line. This is what he said:

MATTHEW IN OHIO (1/28/24): I think my vote is probably going to be affected by the economy because I'm a small businessperson, I work for myself, and I kind of rely on new work coming in, and I don't see a lot of it. And the price of expenses to get stuff done, it's been tough. And let alone just going to the grocery store.

But I am probably going to vote for whoever will be the Republican. I'm just not impressed with Joe Biden. I voted for him before, but I think I am changing my mind.

MODERATOR: I know you said you're probably going to vote for whoever is the Republican nominee. Right now, the two main Republican candidates are former president Trump and former ambassador Nikki Haley. Do you have a preference between the two of them who you would like to see become the nominee?

MATTHEW IN OHIO: Who I would like to see, I would really like to see Nikki Haley. I really would like to vote for a female for president, you know just to say I was part of it. Besides, I think I like and respect her. I think she is pretty steady and smart on her feet. She is not too abrasive, and that is important.

MODERATOR: All right, Matthew. Appreciate your call this morning.

Sometimes the callers do sound like the stereotypes. But sometimes, the callers just don't.

Around 7:30 a.m., Wanda from Indiana made a similar call, once again on the Independent line. She praised certain actions by Biden, trashed Trump very hard. When asked for her choice, she said this:

WANDA FROM INDIANA: I love Nikki Haley. I would give anything for them to give her a chance...I would support her over Biden, yes.

We'll be voting for Biden ourselves. But so it goes when neighbors and friends report their various outlooks. 

(Full disclosure: Ohio and Indiana aren't likely to be "in play" this year.)

Can President Biden stage a campaign which will start rolling back current numbers? We have no way of knowing.

That said, we the blue voters will play a role in the way the blue nominee is perceived. We've been playing that role for the past sixty years, and our input hasn't always been helpful.

Meanwhile, alas! Under recent arrangements, the electoral college system has tended to favor the GOP. That explains why Candidates Gore (2000) and Hillary Clinton (2016) won the nationwide popular vote, but their opponents ended up in the White House.

It also explains why Candidate Biden (2020) won the popular vote by 7.1 million votes—by 4.5 percentage points—but could have seen victory slip away if a relative handful of voters, in a few select states, had voted the other way.

At the New York Times, Nate Cohn thinks this advantage to the GOP is being eroded by certain demographic changes. We have no idea if that will turn out to be right.

But as we looked at that Ipsos survey, the president was behind by five points—and he might need to win nationwide by as much as four points in order to get re-elected.

It's time for our tribe to stop clowning around and try to discover the way to win this upcoming election. On the front page of today's New York Times, Reid Epstein and three other reporters outline their understanding of the current plan:

Inside Biden’s Anti-Trump Battle Plan (and Where Taylor Swift Fits In)

As former President Donald J. Trump speeds toward the Republican nomination, President Biden is moving quickly to pump energy into his re-election bid, kicking off what is likely to be an ugly, dispiriting and historically long slog to November between two unpopular nominees.

After months of languid buildup in which he held only a single public campaign event, Mr. Biden has thrown a series of rallies across battleground states, warning that democracy itself is at stake in 2024.

He sent two of his most trusted White House operatives to take the helm of his re-election campaign in Wilmington, Del., after Mr. Trump seized control of the Republican primary race more rapidly than Mr. Biden’s advisers had initially expected.

And other Biden aides are drafting wish lists of potential surrogates, including elected officials, social media influencers and the endorsement of their wildest dreams: the global superstar Taylor Swift.


“It’s game on, the beginning of the general election,” said Representative Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire, the chair of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 97 centrist House Democrats. “We’ve got to win this.”

We’ve got to win this, Rep. Kuster said. Indeed, President Biden has been warning that democracy itself is at stake.

We've been saying such things for the past several years. At this point, are we prepared to stop the cable news clowning? Are we prepared to rise up on our haunches and fight? 

After all these years of self-indulgence, are we sure we know how to do that?

It may be too late to win this year. Then again, that gloomy prognosis may turn out to be totally wrong.

But many members of the blue team have sleepwalking into this difficult time, and tens of millions of voters around the country may not automatically be inclined to see every issue our way.

On Fox, the growing collection of jugglers and clowns—the wrestlers, comedians and very slow boys— are broadcasting powerful messages—and there's nothing so stupid that they won't be eager to say it. Once again, here are the idiots Watters and Gutfeld, endlessly pimping the possibility that Biden will be replaced as the Democratic nominee:

WATTERS (1/26/24): It's got to be Newsome. He's not a surrogate, he's the back-up quarterback...

GUTFELD: How about Michelle [Obama]? Have you seen her arm? 

WATTERS: Arms! [PRETENDING TO FLEX] She's been working out!

[Naughty boys laugh together] 

On Fox, it's an evergreen. When you run out of things to say, you bring up the scary theory that Michelle Obama will be the Democratic nominee. 

In this case, the dullest little boys in the nation enjoyed their misogyny-adjacent dull-witted humor, laughing about the way the former first lady's arms are simply too strong and too big.

This is who and what these corporate tool boys are. Also, this is the new message delivery system being instituted at Fox—and let it be said that the people at Fox have some very strong cars they are aggressively playing.

The southern border is very strong, and they never stop talking about the way President Biden is inclined to poop in his pants. As these twin idiots clown in this way, our more regal mainstream news organizations politely avert their gaze.

This degradation of the public discourse has been underway forever. In substantial measure, it motored ahead in the 1990s, within the blue tribe upper-end press.

On Fox, people like Dana Perino sit by and watch while these underdeveloped lost boys clown and joke and play, thus proving the fact that people of higher mental caliber and greater experience will often do what it takes to retain those high-paying jobs.

This is the actual lay of the land as this fateful campaign gets its start. We'll have much more to show you about this devolving, braindead culture at Fox—and you can be sure that you'll hear nothing about it from your friends at the New York Times. It's been normalized, baked into the system.

Two callers to C-Span weren't thrilled about Trump. They weren't thrilled about Joe Biden either.

Their respective states won't be in play. Such as we were or such as we would become, we thought we heard America singing that day.

This afternoon: The economy, if you can keep it

How do we plan to conduct our campagn?


Relevant language from Frost: The poem was written about the decision to seek independence from England. 

In January 1961, Robert Frost recited the poem from memory at President Kennedy's inauguration. The poem began, and begins, as shown:

The Gift Outright

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.

In retrospect, Frost was working with a tragically limited version of "we" and "ours."

That said, the people in question were in fact living here in this land, but they were still England's—colonials. As our new White House campaign begins, the relevant lines might be these:

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding
from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)


There's a tiny bit more to the poem. Those deeds of war were fought against England. But in the formulation of President Lincoln, other wars would come.

As we start this year's campaign, is it possible that there's something we ourselves are withholding? Is there possibly something we're withholding—independent judgment, let's say—which may be making us weak?

Are we listening to the wrong people? Are we adopting the wrong campaign themes? 

Are we doing things which may hurt our own alleged interests and values? Have we given ourselves outright to the hope for a suitable outcome? Could it be that we're the colonials, that we're owned by our corporate "thought leaders?"

We'll be exploring these questions as the days roll by. We think our blue tribe pundits have frequently disserved us over the past many years. Your view of this matter may differ.

This nation still has a long way to go. But we say that our democracy itself, such as it is, is on the line this year.

We keep saying it's all at stake. So how do we plan to campaign?

(Kennedy was sworn in by Chief Justice Warren, he of the Brown decision.)

CAMPAIGN: Our tribe has started its drive toward November!


Something we may be withholding: "It is finished," Jesus is said to have said.

That's what Jesus is said to have said. In our country, it's just getting started!

We refer to this year's campaign for the White House. Rather plainly, the general election campaign has begun. Here's our question, as borrowed from Frost:

Over here, within our blue tribe, could it be that we're "withholding something" as we conduct our campaign? Could it be we're withholding something that is "making us weak?"

Fuller text from Frost will follow! Frost recited the poem in question at President Kennedy's bitterly cold, snow-covered inauguration ceremony, way back in 1961. We watched, on a black and white TV set, in a small stucco home in San Mateo, California.

Last Saturday night, in South Carolina, President Biden delivered a fully vigorous speech. He included several strong campaign points—about the Affordable Care Act and about Roe v. Wade, to cite two examples.

Candidate Trump wants to repeal the ACA. He doesn't want to establish Roe v. Wade as a matter of law. 

Presumably, those will be potent campaign points. But the southern border is lingering there, and other problems exist.

There is no scientific way to fashion a perfect campaign. That said, our basic question returns:

Are we withholding, or possibly doing things which may be making us weak?  Are we doing so in our role as private citizens? How about the people we see on our "cable news" TV programs?

As of this very morning, the campaign was clearly underway. MSNBC's new broadcast day began at 5 a.m.

Morning Joe sidekick Jonathan Lemire went on the air with his broadcast of Way Too Early. We sat there watching, just as you did. At 5 a.m. sharp, he began with a tease of these topics:

A major escalation in the Middle East is putting new pressure on President Biden. Three U.S. service members were killed, and more than thirty others injured yesterday, by a drone strike in Jordan near the border of Syria. We'll go through the details of the attack and show you how the president is responding.

Plus, Donald Trump is now on the hook for a massive payout to E. Jean Carroll after a jury awarded the writer $83 million in defamation damages. We'll get expert legal analysis on that as well as the looming case that could further impact Trump's bank account.

And a stunning second-half comeback sends the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl setting up a rematch of the 2020 big game with the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Good morning, and welcome to Way Too Early...

To watch that intro, you can start by clicking here. Three full days after that jury rendered its verdict, that $83 million assessment was still included by Lemire among only two featured news topics.

It's possible that this selection made sense; it's possible that it didn't. The impeachment attempt concerning the border was finally discussed at 5:15—but at 5:10, in a sign of a deeply disordered time, Lemire told viewers this:

Meanwhile, Trump at the campaign trail in Nevada over the weekend. In Las Vegas on Saturday, Trump bragged at length about his ability to pass a cognitive test, but at the same time he struggled to get basic words out and made a number of highly questionable statements.

Lemore then played brief video clips from Trump's speech in Vegas. We saw no sign that Trump had "struggled to get any basic words out." We saw no sign of that reported problem at all.

To watch that video, just click here. For the record, this:

Donald J. Trump has been making "highly questionable statements" since he came down the escalator in June 2015. For four years preceding that date, he had been making "highly questionable statements" about the place of President Barack Obama's birth.

In doing so over the course of four years, he had stablished himself, on the Fox News Channel, as the mother of all birthers.

For the record, Trump's caddy during those four years was Greta Van Susteren. As we extensively documented in the past, it was on her nightly Fox News show that Trump would appear to make his moronic claims.

(We've met Greta several times. Nicest person on earth.)

Trump was pushing his ludicrous claims. Greta was being paid millions of dollars to sit there and let him do it. Years later, MSNBC hired Van Susteren to host a nightly news show and Rachel Maddow vouched for her journalistic greatness.  

Amazingly, Maddow even said that Geta and her husband had been two of her best drinking buddies during those previous years—during the ugly, stupid, destructive years when Greta was hosting the birther.

We have no idea why a person like Maddow would have behaved in such ways—would have tolerated such appalling misconduct from Van Susteren or would then have vouched for her journalism. 

On the night before Trump came down the stars, Maddow said she had no problem with Mr. Trump. After four years of his appalling misconduct, we have no idea why a blue tribe corporate star would have said such a strange thing.

Alas! From our perspective, our tribe has had an unfortunate lack of success in encouraging millions of American voters to be disturbed by Trump's "highly questionable statements"—by his endless display of ludicrous claims and ugly, disordered behaviors. 

In the face of that failure, we've now been turning to Storyline. We've begun to pretend that Trump's "mental acuity" is being called into question by occasional slips of the tongue, some of which never occurred.

Did Al Gore ever say he invented the Internet? No, he never did! But we humans love to make things up. Journalism is easier, and much more fun, when we grant ourselves such rights.

Did Trump really struggle to get basic words out during his speech in Las Vegas? To our eye and ear, there is no sign of any such problem in the tape Lemire played. 

For the record, this is the sort of thing they do routinely on Fox. They make a claim about a piece of tape and assume their word will be believed, even when they play the tape and the claim is not supported.

At Fox, they do that sort of thing all the time. Now, our massively overpaid corporate hirelings are punking us that way too.

At 6 a.m., Joe and Mika came on the air with a cold open video clip from Saturday Night Live. In the clip, an actor shows Trump using the word "debank" in a recent speech. 

The actor then says that he doesn't know what the word "debank" means. The implication is obvious.

Other people do know what "debank" means. In our view, this is the sorry state into which our corporate multimillionaire tribal thought leaders are now increasingly falling.

"Something we were withholding made us weak?" Frost's poem became famous on January 20, 1961, when blinding light off the snow from an overnight blizzard made it impossible for him to read the text of a new poem he had written for the occasion.

As we close, we return to our initial question. Is there something our anxious team is withholding on this very day and in this dangerous hour?

As of today, our understandably anxious blue team has launched our current campaign for the White House. Is there something we're withholding? Borrowing from Casey Stengel, "Can anyone here play this game?" 

 Can anyone here play this game? Because at the present time, a great deal is at stake.

The future conduct of life on earth may perhaps hang in the balance. And the woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our human minds are inclined to be soft.

There's no perfect way to run a campaign. Campaigning is not a hard science. But of one fact you can be sure:

Like every human tribe on earth, our own blue tribe is highly fallible. The bullshit, dissembling and limited judgment aren't all found Over There.

Are you willing to keep an open mind about the way our blue team is functioning? Or will you prefer to insist that our tribal thought leaders—the people who vote the same way we do—simply have to be noble and right?

Lemire opened with a three-day old story—a three-day old news event which makes blue viewers feel good. A few minutes later, he made an increasingly scripted claim for which he had no evidence.

In our view, there was no sign that Donald J. Trump was struggling to get some basic words out. But when the cable star said that, we were supposed to believe him.

Our view?  We think it's time for us to do better, to demand a bit more from our "dear, dear friends." (Official corporate branding.)

We're going to offer many ideas about the way our team is campaigning. That said, there is no science to this task, and you will be free to reject them.

At any rate, they do it all the time on Fox! This morning, the slithery practice had once again slithered its way over here.

Coming: Endlessly, much, much more

The Gift Outright: Frost's poem concerned the decision to break away from colonial rule by the mothership in England. 

We'll reproduce the relevant lines in a separate post.

Concerning the Fox News "comedy" train!


Tired old has-beens find work: In recent weeks, we've been writing about the new messaging regime which is being implemented at Fox. 

Under this new approach, the red tribe channel's propaganda claims are trafficked through the dull-witted offerings of an array of second- and third-rate comedians, joined by a former professional wrestler along with people dragged in from Outnumbered.

We'll guess that research is driving this mess—research into the successful delivery of propaganda and phony claims through the use of low-IQ snark and snide, as opposed to old-fashioned bombast. 

We've seen no one mention this change in approach—certainly, no one at more responsible major news organs, That said, dear God!

Yesterday, searching around, we ran into this press release from late December. It ran beneath three headlines:


Comedic Six-Part Docuseries “A History of the World in Six Glasses” with Host Dan Aykroyd to Debut January 8th

Jimmy Failla and Tyrus to Helm Their Own Signature Stand-Up Specials on January 3rd

NEW YORK — FOX Nation will present its first comedy month on the streaming platform in January 2024, with humorous programming dropping throughout the month. The platform will debut the highly anticipated series A History of the World in Six Glasses, starring Dan Aykroyd and fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Jim Belushi, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon and Cheers star George Wendt on Monday, January 8th. Additionally, FOX Nation will release stand-up specials helmed by FOX News Radio’s Jimmy Failla and Gutfeld! co-host and New York Times best-selling author Tyrus on Wednesday, January 3rd, along with additional programming. Details are below:

For the record, Fox Nation is a pay-to-watch streaming adjunct to the Fox News Channel itself. 

The triple headline press release continues along from there. We know of one word for the last entry in this clump. That one word is this:


Wednesday, January 3rd—Jimmy Failla will present They’re Just Jokes, a standup comedy special filmed at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, New York. The special will tackle his life growing up on Long Island and his early career as a New York City taxicab driver. Failla is the host of FOX News Radio’s FOX Across America and author of FOX News Books’ upcoming title “Cancel Culture Dictionary”.

Wednesday, January 3rd—FOX  News contributor, former professional wrestler and New York Times bestselling author Tyrus  takes center stage in Crowley, Louisiana for his own stand-up special titled Tyrus: Here and Now. The one-hour set features his signature unfiltered comedic take on family, race, politics and everyday life.


Monday, January 8th—Alongside Aykroyd, A History of the World in Six Glasses will feature Saturday Night Live stars Jim Belushi, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon and Cheers star George Wendt. The six-part docuseries will chronicle the history of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, soda and their respective impact on the world. Developed by Play House Studios, the series was written and directed by Rob Long, a former executive producer of the longtime NBC series Cheers.

That History of the World in Six Glasses efforts features five people who had successful comedy careers. Some of them might even be said to have had high-quality comedy careers.

Now they're just hangin' on with Fox. Given the garbage emanating from that channel, we have exactly one word for that:


At any rate, this seems to be part of a whole new delivery system at Fox. At this site, we'll continue to cover the nightly inanity being produced on programs like Jesse Watters Primetime and Gutfeld!, with The Five thrown in for good measure. 

Major American mainstream news orgs will likely continue averting their gaze. They'll agree not to mention the low-grade "comedy" stylings and the brain-dead disinformation itself.

Fight with Fox? Report what Fox is doing in primetime under the guise of "news?"

Dearest darlings, use your heads! Among a finer class of people, such things simply aren't done!

Full disclosure: We expect to discuss Bill Maher's recent brilliant work at some point this week. 

We've known Bill since 1982. No, we aren't best friends, but we're an immense admirer. 

We don't always agree with Bill's views. That said, we'll guess that very few people understand how amazingly hard it is to do the things he has consistently done.

And no, he's never run to Fox. Oh please, please put me on the air! Please let me talk about beer!

NEW MORNING: A very important, auspicious new post!


Kevin Drum goes to the border: Given recent circumstances, we'd like to give his site a brief rest.

That said, we were thrilled by Kevin Drum's most recent post. Very much just for starters, we were thrilled when, headline included, the new post started like this:

How do we get control of the border?

Immigration, man. I don't know.

We don't know either—and we'll guess that that is true of the vast majority of blue tribe observers. 

Over the course of the past few years, our tribe's pundits have studiously avoided this topic as its salience has grown and grown. 

They've talked and talked—then talked and talked—about the endless legal minutia involved in sending Donald J. Trump to jail. As they've devoted endless time to that sprawling (but pleasing) topic, they've let the border go. 

As a result, we (and many others) "don't know"—don't know about desired solutions or even about elementary facts.

In the main, Kevin is saying that he "doesn't know" about solutions. He provides some very valuable information about some basic facts, even providing some links.

 More specifically, he provides this explanation of the current very high number of (take your choice) "encounters," "apprehensions" or "arrests" now taking place at the border. At this point, we don't even have a common language we can employ in discussing this crucial matter. 

For now, here is the part of Kevin's post where he starts to supply some basic distinctions concerning some basic facts. The italics are his:

DRUM (1/17/24): [T]he problem is that immigration is a really complicated subject, which makes it genuinely hard to know what kind of effect a large bill might have. The new thing among Republicans is griping about Joe Biden's increased use of parole, which is understandable in a way since it lets hundreds of thousands of immigrants enter the country legally with just some paperwork. On the other hand, it also cuts down on border chaos since those hundreds of thousands aren't trying to brave the razor wire in Texas and sneak in.

But the really big difference between now and the past is asylum. Instead of merely trying to evade detection and capture, lots of migrants are now giving themselves up and applying for asylum. That creates a legal thicket, since if you ask for asylum the law says you have to be given a hearing. This is called affirmative asylum. Likewise, if you're in a deportation hearing and declare that you're seeking asylum, a judge has to hear your claim. This is called defensive asylum. Both have skyrocketed in recent years:

A graphic follows at that point. It shows the giant increase in asylum requests over the past fifteen years, but especially since President Biden took office.

We'll direct you to Kevin's full (preliminary) post, in which our tribe is permitted to get a start on basic explanation. First, though, consider today's front-page report from the print edition Washington Post, which appeared online yesterday morning.

The report, by Miroff and Olorunnipa, begins in gloomy fashion. But as far as we know, none of that unflattering assessment is inaccurate, bogus, untrue. Headline included, the lengthy piece starts like this:

Biden pledge to shut down border points to policy shortfalls

President Biden’s surprise declaration Friday that he would “shut down” the southern border when illegal crossings surge to overwhelming levels illustrates how his many other efforts to address immigration have fallen short of their goals.

Biden signed more executive orders related to immigration than any other topic on his first day in office. He’s taken more than 500 executive actions since then, already surpassing former president Donald Trump’s four-year total, according to a recent tally by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

But one of Biden’s most active areas of policymaking has become one of his biggest vulnerabilities to reelection. The president’s management of the southern border and immigration is his worst-rated issue in polls, and record numbers of illegal crossings have galvanized Republicans, undermined the president’s push for Ukraine aid and played to the perceived strengths of Trump, the GOP front-runner.

Several of the Biden administration’s signature initiatives intended to make the immigration system fairer and more orderly have stalled out or remained too limited to significantly curb illegal entries and reduce chaos at the border, according to analysts, and current and former administration officials.

Oof! That is not a flattering portrait of border management under President Biden. Again, though, as far as we know, none of that unflattering assessment is inaccurate, bogus, untrue.

To that point in the Post report, we weren't surprised by what we had read. But when the following passage appeared in the Post, we realized that we may have misunderstood one basic part of border procedure when we wrote yesterday's post:

Last month 249,785 illegal crossings were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border, the highest monthly total ever, and Biden officials acknowledge the majority of the migrants were released into the United States with pending claims for protection. The latest influx has worsened strains on New York, Chicago, Denver and other cities whose Democratic mayors are pleading for more federal aid to shelter and assist the newcomers, including the thousands of migrants sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). 

Those 249,785 "illegal crossings" were the crossings which resulted in what the Border Patrol describes as "encounters" and ABC News describes as "arrests." (In its new report, the Post goes on to use the term "apprehensions.") Last month, there were an additional 50,000 people who voluntarily submitted themselves to border authorities to make an asylum request.

Based on what the Post is reporting, the majority of the 249,785 "illegal cross[er]s"—the people who didn't present for asylum—were released into the United States, as are asylum seekers. In the course of yesterday's research, we came away with a different impression. Let it be said that these possibly unattractive matters are not explained in the Border Patrol document to which Kevin's earlier report was linked.

We'll guess that very few members of our red or blue tribes can explain the complexity of these procedures, which are generally disappeared on blue tribe cable and used as fodder on red. That said, this is a very important topic for blue tribe members who want to see Joe Biden get re-elected, and the time has come to declare a new morning and waddle out into the fight.

In our view, our blue tribe has been very badly disserved by the silence of the cable news lambs—by the way our cable news leaders have avoided this topic. 

They talk and talk and talk and talk about sending Trump to jail, or about draining his coffers. They do so in ways which may be perfectly accurate, but which extend into such unusable legal minutia as to suggest that the discussions are being staged to keep blue tribe viewers feeling upbeat, happy, good.

Those trials are major news topics too, though the downside have often been avoided on our blue tribe cable. But the border could easily send Trump to the White House again, and MSNBC corporate owners have disserved the public, very badly, in the way it has pleasured blue tribe viewers while ignoring this dangerous topic.

"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray" that Kevin will continue to try to illuminate the basic facts of this matter. That said, we saw two (2!) anti-Biden discussions of the topic on Fox & Friends this morning which struck us as basically fair. Translation: 

Our blue tribe's performance has been so lazy, so useless, so ratings-devoted that the Weekend Friends don't even have to embellish the facts to paint a very unflattering picture of what the Biden Administration has done.

Last evening, Biden gave a robust speech in South Carolina. We were encouraged by his energy level. The problems tend to arise when he goes off prompter—and yes, they do sometimes arise.

That said, he gave a robust speech last night, making a lot of strong points. But the border is hanging around his neck, and the cable stars we're inclined to trust and love have badly misserved us down through the years.

They've done so going back before Trump, and back before the border. At some point, we plan to discuss that further. 

Our own partisans sometimes get upset when someone makes accurate points of this type. In such moments, we're behaving like the unhelpfully gullible red tribe voters who can't see when they're getting conned by the assortment of full-blown clowns who are now cavorting on Fox.

It's well past time to declare a new morning! November's election could easily be lost. It's time to step back from the profit-seeking schadenfreude and get up on our haunches and fight.

We hope that Kevin continues to explain. Our blue tribe cable stars do, of course, enjoy a much wider reach. 

They need to get off their ascots for once. They need to stop pleasuring us all day long. They need to "rise from their warm beds" and fight.

Meanwhile, this:

What exactly does take place in the aftermath of all those encounters, apprehensions or arrests? We still can't tell you with certainty. Neither can anyone else.

Kevin can become a national treasure. You need to be one too.

We live in phantasmagoric, fictitious times!


When Lindsey still [HEARTed] Joe Biden: We live in somewhat peculiar times—and we don't mean that as a compliment.

Consider the long-forgotten piece of videotape in which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) waxed about Joe Biden. 

The videotape was recorded during a 2015 interview with The Huffington Post. Riding in the back seat of a sedan, Graham is shown saying this:

GRAHAM (2015): The bottom line is, if you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, then it's probably you’ve got a problem. [Chuckles] You need to do some self-evaluation, because what’s not to like?

Here's what I can tell you. That life can change just like that [snapping his fingers]. Don't take it for granted. Don't take relationships for granted.

I called him after Beau died, and he basically said, "Well, Beau was my soul." We talked for a long time. He came to my ceremony and said some of the most incredibly heartfelt things that anybody could ever say to me. And he's the nicest person I think I’ve ever met in politics.

INTERVIEWER: Is that right?

GRAHAM (briefly choking up): He is as good a man as God ever created, and we don't agree on much, but I think he's been dealt a really gut blow. I think he focuses on what he's got to do, not on what he's lost... 

He started talking about his grandkids, more worried about them than anything. We just talked about the future.

You can watch the entire tape here. We haven't tried to determine where HuffPo edits may have occurred, but the general gist of the senator's statement was rather hand to miss.

This interview was widely noted at the time. It has almost wholly disappeared over the years. With the recent news of Graham's interview with the grand jury in Georgia, we found ourselves thinking about the interview once again.

This is what Graham was saying about Joe Biden before Donald J. Trump came along with his nicknames, his threats and his condemnations. If you want a friend in Washington, then say you should probably buy a dog—or you should shell out the major big bucks for some "cable news" halfwits like Watters.

We're surprised that that tape has disappeared. It's sitting right there on YouTube.

On Graceland, Paul Simon said the same thing: "Life can change just like that?" In Crazy Love, Vol. II, Paul Simon said the same thing:
Somebody could walk into this room
And say, "Your life is on fire!
"It's all over the evening news.
"All about the fire in your life on the evening news."
Based on appearances, the senator's life may have changed like that when Trump walked into the room. It might not be the worst idea to play that tape once in a while. 

The rise of the stupid from the children at Fox!


Also, the rise in border encounters: Without any question, it was a major news story. 

Under the following headline, the news report appears on the front page of this morning's New York Times:

Jury Orders Trump to Pay Carroll $83.3 Million After Years of Insults

It was a major news event—but why was the former president required to pay so much? 

Last evening, on Jesse Watters Primetime, the silliest and dullest boy ever given a primetime "news" show discussed the matter with Alexis McAdams, a "Fox News correspondent."

She isn't even a "legal analyst." But let's set that aside.

Why was the former president required to pay so much? As you can see by clicking this link, the dullest child ever seen on a "cable news" summed it up in the manner shown:

MCADAMS (1/26/24): I think $83 million was surprising to people you know, at home, we're watching, because we heard about 10 million, 12 million, and then you hear 83 was kind of a shock.

WATTERS: Well Alexis, so he said, "She's not my type," and that's $83 million?

MCADAMS: They want him to just not talk about this case...

Briefly, McAdams continued from there, failing to note how thoroughly stupid that highlighted comment was.

This is the degree of the stupid which is now ascendant on the rapidly evolving Fox. It stands apart from the earlier regime of partisan bombast associated with earlier primetime hosts, one or two of whom remain as primetime hosts.

The new regime is devoted to low-grade "comedy" and to the type of sheer stupidity put on display in that highlighted comment. Last evening, so it went as millions of viewers saw the large jury verdict explained.

The meltdown in American discourse has been underway for decades. In our view, the meltdown started within the mainstream press corps more than within the realm of Fox.

Rush Limbaugh was a major player at the time in question. That said, and once again in our view, the meltdown was fully underway before Fox even went on the air.

In our view, the meltdown is adopting a new form as Fox becomes more and more a low-grade comedy channel, with the preferred propaganda packaged under the guise of low-grade humor by an array of dull-witted boys.

More on that devolution to come. For today, we'll offer a pair of challenges:

Yesterday, the Border Patrol released its December figures. Headline included, Kevin Drum reports the findings here:

Illegal immigration skyrockets in December

It is January 26 and the Border Patrol finally released its official apprehension figures for December. This is the latest it's ever been. Is it a traditional Friday night news dump for bad news?

Maybe! Because it was definitely bad news. As expected, CBP reported a whopping total of 302,000 encounters on the southern border:


As usual, about 50,000 of these were asylum seekers who made appointments via the mobile phone app, while the rest were apprehended trying to cross the border illegally.

Possible clarification! In its own report on this topic, ABC News uses the term "arrests" in place of the Border Patrol's preferred term, "encounters." 

For the record, those 50,000 asylum seekers are operating legally. The other 252,000 were arrested while trying to enter the country illegally—that is to say, without authorization.

We invite you to look at the graphic Kevin includes in his report. As you will see, the numbers of encounters / arrests has, in fact, skyrocketed since early 2020. As far as we know, the numbers reflect the numbers of people who were apprehended, not the number who may have gotten away.

This topic is bombarded around the clock on the Fox News Channel. In our view, there's no obvious reason why it shouldn't be.

That said, the topic has largely been ignored on our own infallible blue tribe channel. Yesterday, that channel discussed the Trump verdict on and on into the night, with little attention paid to events involving the southern border.

Today, we issue that pair of challenges:

Yesterday afternoon, the five-member panel on The Five discussed the border first. To see how dumb and how stupid such discussions can get, we advise you to start by clicking here.

(You'll be accessing the Internet Archive's video of the pseudo-discussion.) 

Yesterday, Harold Ford sat in the "liberal" seat on the panel, the one Democrat out of five. As he finally attempts to discuss the possible pending border deal, the angry interruptions start, along with the endlessly fractured logic.

No one has actually seen the terms of the possible border deal. Such niceties rarely stop the conduct of Fox pseudo-star "Judge Jeanine" Pirro, who interrupted Ford persistently.

As you can see, Ford was taking a line which was very friendly to the standard red tribe assessment of this matter. (We're not saying he was wrong to do so.)

That said, nothing is good enough on Fox except the level of sheer stupidity which was brought to the discussion you'll watch—brought there by Watters once again, and of course by his angrier sidekick, Serra High's Greg Gutfeld.

(Watters and Gutfeld are regulars on The Five. They tend to dominate the program's discussions through the silly interjections which emerge from their naughty-boy, dull-witted bromance.)

This is what millions of people are now offered as the state of reliable broadcast journalism. In our view, the steady meltdown which has led to this situation started at least three decades ago. But if you choose to click that link, you'll be looking at the new generation of the stupid as it's currently being performed on Fox.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, our own tribe's stars went on and on about how much money Trump was assessed. It was a major news event. That said:

Until very recently, our blue team has rarely made any attempt to tackle the rather potent border issue—an issue which could send Donald J. Trump back to the White House next year.

Now for your final challenge:

If you want to click around a bit, you'll be able to see a short clip of President Biden speaking at a Wisconsin brewery on Thursday of this week.

In that very short clip, the president lapsed into a bit of speech described as "his best gibberish yet." We know of no reason to think that the video clip has been doctored.

The clip went viral in Red America. In Blue America, this apparently peculiar moment simply didn't occur.

Viewers of Fox see such clips all the time. On blue tribe channels, we don't. You can read the Fox News report, and see the ten-second clip in question, simply by clicking this link. We don't know what the odd moment might mean, or if it means anything at all.

We don't know if President Biden is having problems which could affect his ability to campaign on behalf of his accomplishments. We very much hope that isn't the case, but we have real concerns.

We don't have the slightest idea who will win November's election. For all we know, former president Trump could sign a federal plea deal tomorrow in which, as part of the deal, he agrees not to run for office ever again.

We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know where the outcome will lead, whatever that outcome might be.

We do know this:

The sheer stupidity being peddled on Fox is a cancer on the nation. In our view, the New York Times has played a significant role in this overall rolling devolution, dating back at least three decades. 

As a possible matter of professional courtesy, the New York Times doesn't discuss the big stupid being dispensed every evening on Fox.  Can a large modern nation expect to function in the face of such cultural arrangements? We don't think the answer is obvious.

It's much too late to stop the flow. At this site, we expect to have a great deal more throughout the year about the rise of red tribe dumb and about our current blue avoidance.

In fairness, the silly children at Fox are just extremely dumb. They're silly and childish and very low-grade, and they're being well paid.

So it goes with the silly children at Fox. What's our tribe's excuse for our failure to serve, for our ongoing refusal to engage?

We agree with Kevin about two things!


Though possibly not a third: We agree with Kevin Drum about quite a few things.

For example, we agree with him about the utter foolishness of the annual "Who got snubbed by the Oscars?" folderol.

We haven't seen Barbie, and he did, so we have no personal opinion about the film. That said, here's the start of Kyle Buchanan's report in the New York Times about this week's "snub" of Greta Gerwig, who didn't get a nomination for Best Director this year:

Why Was Greta Gerwig Snubbed for a Best Director Nomination?

In her own world, Barbie can accomplish just about anything. But in the real world, “Barbie” was dealt a significant setback Tuesday morning: Though Greta Gerwig’s colorful comedy skewering the patriarchy was the biggest blockbuster of last year and set a record for the highest-grossing movie ever directed by a woman, Gerwig failed to receive an Oscar nomination for best director.

The snub had many in Hollywood scratching their heads, since the 40-year-old filmmaker had earned best director nominations from the Golden Globes and Directors Guild of America for “Barbie” and had picked up an Oscar nod for her solo debut, “Lady Bird,” just six years ago.

The promulgation of the "snub snub snub snub" Storyline just seems to grow every year. Buchanan employs the sacred term all through his rather short piece, and in other Oscar reports. 

That said:

As Kevin notes in his post, ten films can get nominated for Best Picture, but there are only five nominations for Best Director. At least five of the Best Picture directors can't get nominated in a typical year. That's how the math works out!

Concerning Gerwig, also this, as Buchanan notes:

Six years ago, Gerwig did receive a nomination for Best Director. If the academy was willing to do that then, why would anyone rush to assume that they're just "snubbing" her now?

You'd think that the childishness of this mandated annual foofaw would be fairly apparent. And this is coming from the very top of our upper-end elite press corps, from a guild whose members qualify within our culture as "highly educated" thought leaders.

We also agree with Kevin about the usefulness, or lack of same, involved in some endless debates. In the current battle of the bands, Kevin is sticking with his preferred generalization and, on balance, we're going to stick with ours:

We have become a nation which is incapable of solving even the smallest problem. 

The United States is one of the world’s great problem solvers.

Leaving aside the original source of those formulation, we'll stick with the first at this time. Though of course, as we said yesterday, Kevin could always turn out to be right in his general assessment.

Here's the title of Kevin's new post on this topic:

Just how bad are things, really?

Regarding that, we have no real idea! For example, we don't know how poorly things will turn out if Donald J. Trump returns to the White House. We can't even say we're sure that things would turn out poorly at all.

That said, we note again:

Every blue pundit on the face of the earth has been sounding the alarm about the possible loss of our democracy if Trump gets elected again. That strikes us as possibly overstated, like so many other claims, but it also seems possible that there could be a large problem lurking there. 

Also this:

When that same Donald Trump recently said that we as a nation can't solve any problems, it seemed to us that very few people would have recoiled from that claim. We've offered a few examples of problems we can neither address nor solve, but here's one we haven't mentioned:

We can't even solve the apparent problem involved in the so-called "gun show loophole!" Thanks to that loophole, a felon or a victim of mental illness who can't buy a gun at a certain gun store can walk directly across the street and buy one at a gun show over there.

Gun store no, gun show yes! Every Dem on the face of the earth has noted the sheer absurdity of our nation's inability to address that problem. That doesn't mean that the world is about to come to an end, but it never would have occurred to us that Donald J. Trump's statement—the statement our blue tribe rushed to mistranscribe and distort—would seem to be inaccurate to red tribe voters or to their blue counterparts.

In short, it amazes us that that statement by Trump would strike anyone as odd. Nor do we see a way out of this mess, as long as we maintain our current system of "news management"—a system built upon the total segregation of viewpoint for purposes of tribal pleasure, corporate profit, entertainment, reassurance and fun.

Can you run a large modern nation that way? It seems to us that you can't, and the inability to address any problem—let alone the ability to solve some problem!—feeds upon that brine. Indeed, it's the creation of those segregated Americas which feeds the whole sprawling machine.

Personally, I think our own blue team has long been a part of this problem. We've long admired Kevin's work, but we'll still cast ourselves as a Cassandra at this point in time.

We began to work with low-income kids in the fall of 1969. We don't know if we've ever seen an intelligent discussion of what goes on in the lives of such kids—and if we have, that conversation never went anywhere much.

It's our impression that things have improved in that realm, but good God—the unhappiness and the waste! Nobody actually cares about this, but we're quite good at pretending.

As a nation, we aren't even capable of solving the problem of how to hold a discussion. It's all about braindead amusement now, including that mandated annual foolishness about all the thrilling snubs.

Gun store no, gun show yes! Along the way, everyone has cited that as an example of our nation's inability to get anything done.

We aren't "a pitiful helpless giant," President Nixon once famously said. Maybe it all depends on what the meaning of "helpless giant" is!

Will the current situation get worse? We can't give you the answer to that—and Kevin's preferred bumper sticker / generalization may turn out to seem basically right!

Final point, and pass it on:

If you aren't said to be among the five best, that doesn't mean you've been snubbed!

GHOST DANCES? "Orange man bad" may not be enough!


So said a trio of sages: Greetings from Yugoslavia! In slightly overstated fashion, Peter Baker describes the two-nation world we ourselves have been writing about.

From today's New York Times:

BAKER (1/26/24): [T]he general election matchup that seems likely after this week’s New Hampshire primary represents more than the first-in-a-century contest between two men who have both lived in the White House. It represents the clash of two presidents of profoundly different countries, the president of Blue America versus the president of Red America.


“Today, when we think about America, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of red and blue people,” Michael Podhorzer, a former political director of the AFL-CIO, wrote in an essay last month. “But America has never been one nation. We are a federated republic of two nations: Red Nation and Blue Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.”

Pordhorzer's portrait is overstated; in reality, his statement is a metaphor. As for Baker's longer portrait, it articulates the well understood reality of our floundering nation's growing tribal division. 

This year's election will be fought within that semi-federation. In the past few weeks, three (or five?) anti-Trumpers have offered advice to our own blue tribe about the best ways to proceed at this point. 

Presumably, no perfect advice is available from this triumverate. In some ways, the three major anti-Trumpers agree with one another. In some ways, their portraits of the economic lay of the land may perhaps seem to differ.

Some of the sages' advice concerns the short run—the attempt to defeat Trump this year. Some of their advice would serve blue tribe and American interests on a much longer time frame, moving forward into an age when the current candidates no longer define the terrain.

Of the three (or five) sages we have in mind, we'd direct you first to Anand Giridharadas, an MSNBC political analyst who we'd describe as a progressive. In his most recent appearance on Morning Joe, he advocated for the creation of "a pro-democracy movement" on the part of the Democratic Party and the left—a multi-faceted movement which would be built around the working class more than around the current unproductive academy.

In Giridharadas' view, the western world's center-left parties have increasingly become "academia-adjacent parties." As important as some of the prevailing debates and viewpoints are, he says that, as a result of that alignment, we're having "the wrong conversation."

In one major way, his view aligns with that of the third sage we'll cite. We strongly suggest that you watch Giridharadas on the January 18 Morning Joe—but for now, let's just hurry along.

Our second sage would be Roger Lowenstein, "a journalist and the author of Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War." In a recent guest essay for the New York Times, he described his view of Candidate Trump—but he also challenged some of the ways our blue tribe has been performing:

LOWENSTEIN (1/20/24): ...I hope [voters] take noneconomic factors into account, including Mr. Trump’s continued refusal to acknowledge his defeat in 2020, which has poisoned the public square and eroded the civic fabric supporting the country’s democracy. In a phrase, Mr. Trump is unfit for office.

In a pair of phrases, Candidate Trump "has poisoned the public square" and he's "unfit for office." Still and all, having said that, Lowenstein went on to say this:

LOWENSTEIN (continuing directly): That does not mean we should shrink from honestly assessing performance, including economic performance, under Mr. Trump as well as under Mr. Biden. Mr. Trump is so off-putting, many find it hard to evaluate him rationally, as we would anyone else. But it is right to do so, and we learn from having our eyes wide, not shut. And—something Democrats should have learned by now—condescending to Trump voters will not win many of them over.

Say what? Democrats should have learned by now that condescending to Trump voters won't win such fellow citizens over to our own side? 

We're strongly inclined to agree with that bit of advice. Accurately or otherwise, here's how Lowenstein set the economic scene at the start of his essay, headline included:

What Trump Voters Understand About the Economy

Why is Donald Trump continuing to poll so strongly with voters?

As unpalatable as a second Trump term would be, many pundits who tackle this question have ignored a striking fact: The typical household’s living standard improved during the three Trump years before the pandemic. Under President Biden, Americans have (at best) struggled to keep even with inflation.

Mr. Trump’s huge personal negatives—his meanspirited personality, his toadying to dictators and shunning of American allies and his unpardonable effort to steal an election—should more than offset his economic record. The old saw that Mussolini got the trains to run on time should not be understood as an endorsement.

But it is one thing to loathe Mr. Trump and hope for his defeat. It is another to wish away his successes or, as has become common, to ascribe his popularity to voter prejudices or weaknesses of character. The leitmotif in such arguments is that blue voters are rational political actors voting on merit while Trump is appealing primarily, if not exclusively, to irrational semi-citizens devoid of even self-interested calculation.

That might be. But it can’t be ignored that they might also have experienced the pointed rise, after adjusting for inflation, in the median household income—how the typical family lives—before the pandemic...

We can't assess the accuracy of Lowenstein's more detailed economic analysis. Just last weekend, we saw David Stockman, the old Reagan hand, savage Trump's economic performance during an hour on C-Span.

That said, is it possible? Is it possible that some of the people tilting toward Trump are something other than racists and xenophobes? Is it possible that some are responding to something aside from the pathologies we like to diagnose in our tribe's frequent deployment of vast sweeping assessments?

Is it possible that some of those voters really aren't bigots? Is it possible that most of these voters aren't?

Within our tribe, the answer is frequently no. In our view, that's a fairly obvious error—an error which has helped define the fortunes of our sliding blue tribe over the course of the past sixty years, dating back to the Vietnam era.

With this, we return to the center-right sage we've cited in the past two days. We refer to the New York Times' Bret Stephens, a classic pre-Trump conservative but also a down-the-line NeverTrumper.

As we've noted, Stephens sees Trump as a moral disgrace. That said, at one point in this week's Conversation with Gail Collins, he offered this bit of advice:

If we’re going to defeat Trump in November, we’ll have to do a lot better than to just keep repeating, “Orange man bad.” 

Memorable, if acerbic. Stephens has a more negative view of the blue tribe ethos than we do, but this is the way he started last week's stand-alone column in the Times, headline included:

The Case for Trump … by Someone Who Wants Him to Lose

Barring a political miracle or an act of God, it is overwhelmingly likely that Donald Trump will again be the Republican Party’s nominee for president. Assuming the Democratic nominee in the fall is Joe Biden, polls show Trump with a better-than-even chance of returning to the White House next year.

Lord help us. What should those of us who have consistently opposed him do?

You can’t defeat an opponent if you refuse to understand what makes him formidable. Too many people, especially progressives, fail to think deeply about the enduring sources of his appeal—and to do so without calling him names, or disparaging his supporters, or attributing his resurgence to nefarious foreign actors or the unfairness of the Electoral College. Since I will spend the coming year strenuously opposing his candidacy, let me here make the best case for Trump that I can.

Begin with fundamentals. Trump got three big things right—or at least more right than wrong.

Stephens claims that Trump got three things semi-right! We'll cite only one. His column continues as shown:

Arguably the single most important geopolitical fact of the century is the mass migration of people from south to north and east to west, causing tectonic demographic, cultural, economic, and ultimately political shifts. Trump understood this from the start of his presidential candidacy in 2015, the same year Europe was overwhelmed by a largely uncontrolled migration from the Middle East and Africa. As he said: “A nation without borders is not a nation at all. We must have a wall. The rule of law matters!”

Many of Trump’s opponents refuse to see virtually unchecked migration as a problem for the West at all. Some of them see it as an opportunity to demonstrate their humanitarianism. Others look at it as an inexhaustible source of cheap labor. They also have the habit of denouncing those who disagree with them as racists. But enforcing control at the border—whether through a wall, a fence, or some other mechanism—isn’t racism. It’s a basic requirement of statehood and peoplehood, which any nation has an obligation to protect and cherish.

Only now, as the consequences of Biden’s lackadaisical approach to mass migration have become depressingly obvious on the sidewalks and in the shelters and public schools of liberal cities like New York and Chicago, are Trump’s opponents on this issue beginning to see the point...

The red tribe has been pushing border issues extremely hard. Until very recently, our own blue tribe was refusing to discuss the transparent craziness of much that seems to be occurring.

When Democratic mayors and governors (and constituencies) finally began to complain, our pundit tribe finally began to respond. But we've long had our heads in the sand, and we've been dancing a bit of a ghost dance.

We're inclined to disagree with certain parts of Stephens' original column. Within the context of Trump's behavior, his comments about Democratic "election denialism" strike us as borderline nuts.

That said, there is one other point Stephens makes—and here, the conservative Stephens aligns with the view of the progressive Giridharadas. In his column, he criticizes our blue tribe's increasing alignmnet with the worldviews which have emerged from our "elite universities and media:"

Trump’s detractors, including me, often argued that his demagoguery and mendacity did a lot to needlessly diminish trust in these vital institutions. But we should be more honest with ourselves and admit that those institutions did their own work in squandering, through partisanship or incompetence, the esteem in which they had once been widely held.

How so? Much of the elite media, mostly liberal, became openly partisan in the 2016 election—and, in doing so, not only failed to understand why Trump won but also probably unwittingly contributed to his victory. Academia, also mostly liberal, became increasingly illiberal—inhospitable not just to conservatives but to anyone pushing back even modestly against progressive orthodoxy. 

Especially regarding those elite universities, Giridharadas was making the same suggestion. Let us say this about that:

Yesterday, we discussed the exceptionally stupid hour which was staged, on Wednesday night, by the dim-bulb Fox "News" program, Gutfeld!

The hour-long program was childish, ugly, offensively stupid. Yesterday, though, we didn't tell you this:

In the mist of all that Dumb and Stupid, the host built one segment around a recent podcast appearance by AOC—by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. 

At one time, her performance on that podcast would have been called "politically correct." Today, it would more likely be described as "woke."

In a silly and childish ghost dance, we frequently hide behind the claim that no one can define that term—but everyone, barring only us, knows it when they see it. (You can't offer precise definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" either, but those terms are perfectly useful.).

We were deeply disappointed by the various things we saw AOC say. Even during Wednesday's spectacularly stupid program, Gutfeld and his dim-bulb droogs were basically right—on the merits and on the politics—in pretty much everything they said during that segment.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Our tribe, like all large human tribes, is inherently prone to separation, then to self-admiration and error.

There are voters out there who can be won over. Back in December, we saw how well those university presidents performed, and so did everyone else.

Their performance was astoundingly bad. Many Trump voters observed that debacle. Is it time for our flailing blue tribe to form alliances with sharper and smarter allies?

"Orange man bad" may not be enough! Once in a while, it might not hurt to set aside our moral self-admiration and perhaps try a little tenderness. 

We're not in Yugoslavia yet. But we sometimes seem eager to get there.