SATURDAY: The situation had been visible!


Will Cain gets it (somewhat) right: In you watched Thursday night's event, you saw the two worst debate performances in presidential history.

A consensus seems to have formed concerning President Biden's side of the ledger. By general agreement, his worst moment came at 9:12 p.m., when he played the central role in this three-way debacle:

TAPPER (6/29/24):  President Trump, we will get to immigration later in this block. President Biden, I want to give you an opportunity to respond to this question about the national debt.

BIDEN:  He had the largest national debt of any president four-year period, number one.

Number two, he got $2 trillion tax cut, benefited the very wealthy. What I’m going to do is fix the tax system.  For example:

We have a thousand trillionaires in America–I mean, billionaires in America. 

And what’s happening, they’re in a situation where they, in fact, pay 8.2 percent in taxes. If they just paid 24 percent, 25 percent—either one of those numbers—they’d raise 500 million dollars–billion dollars, I should say—in a ten-year period.

We’d be able to right–wipe out his debt. We’d be able to help make sure that all those things we need to do—child care, elder care, making sure that we continue to strengthen our healthcare system—making sure that we’re able to make every single solitary person eligible for what I’ve been able to do with the, uh, the Covid—excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with, uh—






We finally beat Medicare.

TAPPER:  Thank you, President Biden. President Trump?

"We finally beat Medicare?"

At the end of a halting presentation full of self-corrections, that's what the president said. In this awkward, tragic moment, we TV viewers were transported to the moors, where King Lear was wandering.

In a striking non-response, the moderator moved right along, failing to ask President Biden what he could have meant by that astonishing statement. As the debacle continued, Candidate Trump responded to the moderator's prompt with a welter of crazy claims.

Along the way, President Biden had made a peculiar set of statements:

In what way could $50 billion per year in additional revenue "wipe out President Trump's debt," even while allowing us to address a wide range of social concerns? In what universe could that happen?

Also, if President Biden is "going to fix the tax system," why hasn't he attempted to do so in the past three-plus years? 

Meanwhile, does President Biden, as a candidate, have some major tax proposal? If he does, have you ever heard anyone, including President Biden himself, say what that proposal is?

On Thursday night, Candidate Trump responded to the moderator's prompt with a welter of crazy claims. But Candidate Biden's fumbling claim—his claim that he somehow "finally beat Medicare"—took all of us out to the moors.

The debate was barely ten minutes old when the president made this presentation. The moderator plowed ahead as if nothing had happened—as if nothing needed to be clarified, questioned, explained. 

What were we the people seeing as we watched that three-way exchange? We were seeing the shape of  American discourse, to the extent that we're able to produce some such creature at this point in time. 

Barely ten minutes into the event, viewers were observing an imitation of discourse—an imitation engaged in by all three participants, Biden and Tapper and Trump.

This is the best we the people can do at this point in time! In fact, our discourse has been functioning at this level for at least the past forty years, though its failures have rarely been as easy to spot as they were this past Thursday night.

That presentation represents who and what we actually are. This morning, we saw a somewhat accurate overview of this state of affairs—a somewhat accurate partial overview—offered in a surprising venue:

We saw it offered at the very start of the Fox & Friends Weekend program!

This partial overview came from Will Cain, the most measured of this gruesome program's three weekend co-hosts. 

Cain sometimes inserts a dollop of nuance into this program's imitations of discourse. This morning, at 6:06 a.m., we saw him (somewhat correctly) make this statement about President Biden's performance:

CAIN (6/29/24): You know, this is the first time I've had an opportunity to reflect publicly on this debate—and there's just so much to say. 

You know, first of all, it wasn't a bad performance. It was par for the course. They can't get away now with telling us, "I had a bad night, and you get up and knock the dust off when you get knocked down." 

This was confirmation of something that we've known for a long time—not weeks, not months, but that we've known for years.


Most importantly, what I want to point out right now is the lies, the absolute gaslighting that needs, I think, to be at the top of the line. 

Because not only has Joe Biden compromised America. But everyone surrounding him—Karine Jean-Pierre, his cabinet, his chief of staff—and most importantly, the fourth estate, the media that has told us this is the best version of Joe, that he is great, that it's Trump that [UNINTELLIGIBLE]—they have lied to us, to the compromise of the United States.

We wouldn't agree with every word. For starters, we almost never traffic in L-bombs.

Also, we've edited out part of the statement. We do agree with these parts of what Cain said concerning President Biden's performance:

First, what became apparent on Thursday night has been apparent for some time—in our view for many months, though probably not "for years." 

Also, large elements of Blue America's media have been gaslighting the public about what was otherwise apparent to the eye.  We especially think of the Morning Joe program where we've been told, again and again, that President Biden is sharp as a tack—that Red America's claims to the contrary were in fact a welter of lies.

For the record, no one who co-hosts a program as gruesome as Fox & Fruends Weekend should get to complain, in this way, about the gaslighting performed by anyone else.

That said, Cain's aim was true with respect to those basic points. We the people of Blue America have been played, again and again, by the corporate hirelings we're told we can trust on our own nation's "cable news" programs.

Here at this site, we were surprised when the Biden campaign arranged this debate because of what we'd seen on Fox News Channel programs. The millionaire stars on MSNBC had been keeping that video hidden away, even as Joe Scarborough kept telling us, day after day, that the president is sharp as a tack.

No one who co-hosts a show like Fox & Friends Weekend should be allowed to cast himself in the straight shooter role. But we had assumed, at least since last summer, that President Bidne wouldn't be able to participate in a debate.

On Thursday night, at 9:12 p.m., the reality hit the fan.

As currently programmed, the Fox News Channel is a coarse and vulgar pseudo-journalistic disgrace. That said, the dissembling has been general over Blue America's media—and voters who vote the way we do need to understand this fact.

There will be much more to say about these matters next week. But President Biden's unfortunate state has been visible for some time—and news orgs which serve our own Blue America were refusing to deal with that fact.

On Thursday evening, President Biden said that he'd finally beaten Medicare. Jake Tapper, a good, decent person, proceeded ahead just as if nothing whatever had happened.

It happened on Thursday, at 9:12 p.m. This is the current state of the race.

Sadly, there's a great deal of truth to what Will Cain said. This is the state of the human race, as the gods on Olympus all laugh!

Biden and Trump were both awful last night!

FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2024

We note one important distinction: Let's repeat something we said in this morning's report.

If you watched last evening's event, you saw the two worst debate performances in modern political history.

That said, there was a difference between the two performances—a basic difference which cuts in favor of Candidate Trump:

Many of President Biden's presentations made little or no apparent sense. That said:

For most people, the depth of President Biden's struggles would have been apparent to the naked eye. 

By way of contrast, to grasp the depth of Candidate Trump's disorder, a viewer would have to be familiar with an array of elementary facts. Consider an early presentation by Trump—and as you do, consider also the silence of CNN's two lambs. 

Below, you see an early Q-and-A. The presentation concerns the mysterious creatures commonly known as tariffs:

TAPPER (6/27/24): You want to impose a 10 percent tariff on all goods coming into the U.S. How will you ensure that that doesn’t drive prices even higher?

TRUMP: It’s not going to drive them higher. It’s just going to cause countries that have been ripping us off for years, like China—and many others, in all fairness to China—it’s going to just force them to pay us a lot of money, reduce our deficit tremendously, and give us a lot of power for other things.

That was Trump's full response concerning the matter of tariffs. Trump continued on from there, changing the subject and making little sense in his new exploration. 

Already, though, he had apparently gone off the rails. He'd gone off the rails in a way which has been explained about three million times—but in a way which millions of viewers almost surely didn't, and don't, understand.

Regarding the nature of tariffs:

When the United States imposes a tariff on Chinese products, that doesn't mean that the Chinese government or some Chinese company pays money to the U.S.  

Instead, the cost of the Chinese product is increased by some designated amount when the product is sold in the United States. It's the American citizen buying the product who coughs up the extra amount. 

In theory, the Chinese government, or the Chinese company involved in the matter, is harmed because fewer items will be sold within the U.S. at the inflated price. 

But the extra money comes out of the pockets of American consumers who choose to buy the goods at the inflated price. In that way, the tariff serves, in effect, as a tax on American citizens. 

China may be hurt by a reduction in sales. But no Chinese entity is "forced to pay us [any] money," as Trump plainly implied.

Trump has been misconstruing tariffs this way for roughly a million years. He makes the misrepresentation on a regular basis. 

We don't know whether he understands the way tariffs actually work. But he constantly makes this mistaken representation—a representation which makes him sound like an "America First"-style hero. 

He's been fact-checked on this matter about a million times. In the case of this AP fact-check, that dates back to August 2019.

He's been fact-checked many times. Despite that fact, we would assume that most viewers of last night's event don't understand the way a tariff actually works.

By the way:

Candidate Trump wasn't fact-checked on this claim last night! CNN's two moderators—Tapper and Bash—simply let the statement go, moving to a new topic.

As you can see, Trump didn't answer Tapper's question, but Tapper let it go. What Trump did say was flatly misleading. Neither Tapper nor Bash made any attempt to clarify what had been said.

Just a guess:

Most people watching the debate don't know how tariffs work. To them, Trump's presentation may have seemed to make perfect sense—but so it goes in this least rational of all possible worlds.

Overall, Trump's presentations last night were full of groaning misstatements of fact. That said, a misstatement of fact may not be visible to the naked eye.

Trump's endless groaners may not have been visible. The president's struggle was.

IMITATIONS: Something of consequence happened last night!

FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2024

A sacred alliance must die: We tried to tell you what you'd be seeing if you watched last evening's event.

You'd be watching an "imitation of life," we said. We mentioned that problem all week.

Along the way, we may have edited our own words at times. At one point, we'd written that you'd be seeing two "god-awful candidates." 

We may have dropped that adjective. We don't exactly remember, and we aren't going to go back to check.

At any rate, this:

At 7:05 this morning, Mike Barnicle, appearing on Morning Joe, said this about Candidate Trump's performance:

"It was the worst debate performance in modern political history."

In fact, if you watched last evening's event, you saw the two worst debate performances in modern political history. Indeed, what you saw last night was so bad that they didn't even try to deceive you when they gathered the children to perform on MSNBC in the aftermath of the event.

Nicolle Wallace had been on the phone during the debate.  Presumably, she had been speaking to the gaggle she describes, every day, as "some of our favorite reporters and friends." 

She said that she'd been on the phone as the debacle took place. Moments after the session ended, this is what she told Rachel Maddow:

WALLACE (6/27/24): I was on the phone for some of it after that became clear and there is a conversation happening inside Biden circles and certainly a much more frank conversation happening inside the Democratic coalition. And I think there will be stories of a lot of concern about the performance tonight.

MADDOW: When you say "conversations happening," what do you mean?

WALLACE: I think people are talkingconversations range from whether he should be in this race tomorrow morning to what was wrong with him.


It is not our job to tell people what to see and hear, but I think what I heard from a Biden aide is, "We can't necessarily spin too much what people did see and hear."

It isn't their job to tell us what to see and hear? When did that change take place?

Below, we'll answer one of the questions Wallace cited. Instantly, Joy Reid added this:

REID: I too was on the phone throughout much of the debatewith ObamaWorld people, with Democrats, with people who are political operatives, campaign operatives. My phone never really stopped buzzing throughout. And the universal reaction was somewhere approaching panic.

The people who were texting with me were very concerned about President Biden seeming extremely feeble, seeming extremely weak...

As the evening moved toward midnight, the children began finding ways to soften these initial reactions, even if ever so slightly. But that's the way the gaggle spoke in the immediate aftermath of the event—after the most likely occurrence had in fact occurred.

As we've noted, we were surprised when the Biden campaign decided to do this debate. Based on what we'd seen in the course of the past year, we thought it was unlikely that the candidate would be able to perform in a normal way. 

By 10:45 last night, even the usual favorites and friends were acknowledging what had happened. Weirdly but obediently, these people had been pretending that nothing was amiss right up through last night.

It isn't President Biden's fault that he has long seemed to be in the grips of some possible form of dementia. In our view, it isn't even Candidate Trump's fault that he seems to be in the grip of a severe psychiatric disorder of some kind.

That said, our imitation of a mainstream press corps has agreed, every step of the way, that neither of these apparent situations should ever be discussed. When Dr. Bandy X. Lee produced this New York Times best-seller, the book was disappeared:

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President

The best-selling book was disappeared. As for Dr. Lee, she was eventually fired by Yale. 

We're not even saying the press corps was "wrong" in its avoidance of Dr. Lee's book. Given the childishness of our national discourse, it may be better that a blindingly obvious possibility has gone unexplored.

That said, the press corps has also agreed to disappear the obvious signs of President Biden's apparent affliction. They kept playing the troubling videotapes on the Fox News Channel—but the troubling pieces of videotape were disappeared everywhere else. 

Last night, the situation which is easier to see could no longer be ignored. Like Captain Renault in Casablanca, Blue America's corporate "thought leaders" were shocked to learn that an apparent form of diminishment seemed to be well underway.

Are we humans "the rational animal?" Plainly, we are not. 

We're more the reality denying animal—the animal which denies reality in packs. Along the way, we at this site have tried to describe the universe within which Blue America's insistence on denial has been operating in the course of the past year. 

In our view, Blue America's corporate gaggle became almost wholly unwatchable in recent years. Instead, we took you back to the dawn of the west, when noble Hector offered this prophecy to Andromache, his generous wife:

For in my heart and soul I also know this well:
the day will come when sacred Troy must die,
Priam must die and all his people with him,
Priam who hurls the strong ash spear...

Somehow, Hector knew that sacred Troy was destined to die. In that same exchange, he said he hoped he would die in battle so he wouldn't have to see his generous wife forced to confront her own fate:

It is less the pain of the Trojans still to come
that weighs me down...
That is nothing, nothing beside your agony
when some brazen Argive hales you off in tears,

wrenching away your day of light and freedom!
Then far off in the land of Argos you must live,
laboring at a loom, at another woman's beck and call
fetching water at some spring, Messeis or Hyperia,
resisting it all the way, the rough yoke of necessity at your neck.


No, no,
let the earth come piling over my dead body
before I hear your cries, I hear you dragged away!

During the fall of sacred Troy, noble Hector's generous wife was in fact dragged away. Indeed, she was dragged away as a slave by Agamemnon himself. 

Somehow, Hector was able to prophesy that. As to what may have been foreshadowed last night, we're willing to offer you this:

Sacred Troy must die, noble Hector said. So too, perhaps, with the western alliance—with the world order which has prevailed since 1945.

As sacred Troy was destined to die, so too, perhaps, with the global order as living Americans have known it. The long clown show which has led to this point has been underway for more than three decades, with career players like Wallace, Maddow, O'Donnell and Hayes paid to refuse to describe it.

One candidate has seemed to be in the grip of some form of dementia. The other candidate has long seemed to be severely mentally ill.

The corporate employees we're instructed to trust—"our favorite reporters and friends"—have agreed, every step of the way, that neither situation could ever be discussed. Meanwhile, on today's Morning Joe, they were keeping their childish war cry alive:

Lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie!

One after another, the children all said it. More on that war cry next week.

We'll examine last night's events in more detail at that time. This morning, though, Mika was still saying this:

"I still believe in Joe Biden."

Full disclosure:

All in all, these are not especially insightful people. More often, they're simply people people. 

In the end, there's nothing "wrong" with being people people. But if our species' history is any guide. the matter which has finally come to the fore may not turn out especially well.

Sacred Troy died in a famous poem, destroyed in a vicious assault from below. As we've been noting at this site, a similar assault is now underway each and every night.

The New York Times averts its gaze. Enjoying a higher station in life, they won't discuss that either!

How well will President Biden perform?


Gail and Bret's hopes and fears: Will something of consequence happen tonight?

We still can't answer that question. In their weekly Conversation for the New York Times, Gail Collins and Bret Stepehens discuss their hopes and their fears.

We're going to let the hopes go first. Here's what Stephens says he wants to hear tonight:

Bret: My first, second and umpteenth goal is to defeat Trump.


I guess I’ll just cross my fingers. And hope that Biden delivers three simple messages: You can’t entrust your democracy to a man who won’t accept the result of an election. You can’t entrust your freedom to a president who appoints justices who deny your right to choose. And you can’t entrust your security to someone who would happily feed Ukraine to the wolves of the Kremlin.

We don't disagree with those messages, though we're also concerned with the potentially potent messages which could come from Candidate Trump.

Meanwhile, we've edited out some of the fears these two expressed about Candidate Biden's possible performance.  Will President Biden seem like a fully capable candidate? In our view, that seems like the evening's top question. 

Collins and Stephens are wondering about that too. Here's the way their weekly colloquy starts, headline included:

So It Has Come to This

Gail Collins: Not to be obvious or anything, Bret, but do you have any predictions about the big debate tonight?

Bret Stephens: No predictions, just the wish that both candidates deliver roughly the same performances they put in four years ago: a coherent Joe Biden and an unhinged Donald Trump. My fears are that Trump will rein it in and avoid being goaded into flatly denying the results of the 2020 election—and that Biden will lose it with some obvious memory lapse, slurred sentence or troubling blank stare.

But here’s my question for you: If Biden’s performance is disastrous, will you join me in calling for Democrats to find a new nominee?

Gail: It’d have to be pretty super disastrous, Bret. Sure, if the president suddenly goes blank and stares at the screen in silence or forgets where he’s speaking and starts commending the Democratic congressional candidate from Delaware.

Bret: Or if he says some of the sorts of things he’s said in the past. Such as, “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”

Gail: But if Biden delivers boring answers that don’t put Trump in the corner he deserves, I’ll be depressed. There’s no way the Democrats are going to refuse to renominate an incumbent president who has been performing his job very well on all fronts.

At that point, Stephens continues as shown above, listing the three messages he hopes Biden delivers.

Stephens is still imagining the possibility that Biden could be replaced as the Democratic nominee. That strikes us as a walk down fantasy lane, leading to a major defeat in the fall.

Meanwhile, Collins claims that President Biden "has been performing his job very well on all fronts." That claim strikes us as strange. 

In our view, the president's silence on the day's major issues and events has come straight out of a gloomy, late 50's Bergman film about the silence—the death—of God. We don't know when we've seen a president fail to perform that basic public function to this self-defeating degree.

This has left Stephens hoping for mere coherence, with Collins fearing the depression a boring performance will bring.

How will the president perform tonight? We don't have the slightest idea, but that seems like the evening's top question.

We're prepared to be surprised! Meanwhile, on the Fox News Channel, the monkeys continue to howl, and fling their poo all about, concerning the way the whole event has been rigged by the powers that be. 

Over in that disordered realm, CNN has already given Biden the evening's questions! Or who knows? 

Maybe the president has actually written the questions, courtesy of CNN!

IMITATIONS: Will something of consequence happen tonight?


The Times sells the latest cheap fake: Will something of consequence happen tonight?

We can't answer your question! But as a matter of basic anthropology, the New York Times has already provided the day's key object lesson.

We refer to the famous newspaper's classic Debate Day Digest. It appears on page A21 of this morning's print editions.

The piece was written by a young reporter—by a youngster who's currently part of the newspaper's fellowship (intern) program. In his piece, the youngster shows that he has ingested the lore of the mainstream press corps guild.

By long tradition, our "journalists" provide similar pieces every four years at this time. Today, the digest appears beneath the dual headline shown below. 

Also, the piece is pure anthropology—anthropology all the way down:

A Look Back at Memorable Presidential Debate Moments
Almost every televised debate, since the first one in 1960, has had a singular quip, gaffe or exchange that sticks in public memory.

Sad! In fairness, pieces like this—concerning quips and glorious gaffes—appear every four years at this juncture.

In such pieces, the imitations we think of as journalists offer their guild's fictionalized accounts of great debates of the past. In today's version of the old chestnut, the intern in question recalls five (5) such "memorable moments," several of which never happened.

Briefly, let's be fair! To his credit, he didn't include the mandated chestnut in which it's said that Candidate Nixon won the polls of people who listened to the first debate with Candidate Kennedy on the radio. 

As far as we've ever been able to see, there is no evidence that any such thing ever happened. That said, so what? Our "journalists" will be repeating that treasured old chestnut until the end of time.

This morning, the youngster offers a standard account of five different "memorable moments." Sub-headline included, here is one of the five magic moments—and no, this never occurred:

A stalking vibe: Trump vs. Clinton in 2016

Donald J. Trump changed the landscape of debate etiquette in 2016, ratcheting up the use of ad hominem attacks and made-for-TV one-liners. But it was perhaps his body language during a debate with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that generated the most attention.

At one point, Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic nominee, addressed the audience, turning away from Mr. Trump, her Republican opponent. Mr. Trump walked closely behind her, giving a pained or scornful look to the camera or to Mrs. Clinton.

Many observers said it looked as though Mr. Trump were a predator looming over his prey. The point was accentuated by their respective height difference. Mrs. Clinton, the first female presidential nominee of a major party, stood at about 5-foot-4, while Mr. Trump, at 6-foot-3, towered over her.

In her memoir written after her loss, Mrs. Clinton said she should have been more aggressive during the debates.

One of the hopefuls was 6-foot-3. The other was only 5-foot-4! And not only that:

The taller hopeful "walked closely behind her," thereby creating a "stalking vibe!" Many observers said it looked as though he was a predator looming over his prey!

Many observers have said such things, including Candidate Clinton. Over here in Blue America, the imitations who pose as journalists enjoy repeating that tale. 

That said, the alleged event in question never actually happened. Nixon didn't win in some specialized survey, and we're sorry but Candidate Trump didn't stalk Clinton that night.

In our half of the United States, we love the bathos involved in that tale. But it's based on a bit of misleading videotape. You could almost say that this standard tale is based upon a "cheap fake!" 

The youngster is describing a meaningless moment from the second Trump-Clinton debate. To see the entire episode, you can click here for the tape of the full debate. After that, you should move ahead to minute 24, or to minute 29.

For the full transcript of that debate, you can just click this. Here's what you'll see if you're willing to take The Imitation of Human Life Challenge:

That second debate was conducted in standard "town hall" fashion. A group of citizens enveloped the "stage." The discussion was built around questions asked by some of those audience members.

The candidates had each been equipped with a lectern and a stool on the "stage." These resting positions weren't far apart, as you can see at any point on the videotape.

During the memorable moment in question, the candidates were responding to a question from a citizen seated to the far left of Candidate Trump's lectern and stool. (Candidate Clinton's lectern and stool were on the right side of the stage.)

As you may recall, that question came from "Kenneth Karpowitz, UNDECIDED VOTER." The question concerned the cost of health care. You can see him ask his question at minute 24 of the videotape.

Karpowitz was seated stage left, over beyond the Trump lectern. In responding to the question, Candidate Clinton walked over to speak with Citizen Karpowitz face to face. 

That was a perfectly sensible thing to do. That said, in doing so, she unavoidably placed herself directly in front of Candidate Trump's lectern.

There's no reason why she shouldn't have done that. Doing that was standard behavior at a town hall debate. 

But because Candidate Clinton was now standing directly in front of the Trump lectern, a camera angle was created in which the larger Trump loomed up behind her at minute 29, during her second response to the original question.

As you will see if you watch the tape of the whole episode, Candidate Trump actually didn't "walk closely behind her" during this memorable moment. He certainly wasn't "stalking" here, though that's the story the chimps we trust in Blue America are still eager to tell.

If you watch the entire chunk of tape, you'll see that Candidate Trump is standing by his lectern, where's he's supposed to be, during the entire sequence. 

At one point, he moves one or two steps away from Candidate Clinton, then returns to his initial spot. But no, he doesn't "walk closely behind her," and he certainly didn't stalk her. 

He also didn't disappear through a trap door in the stage. That's the only way he could have avoided creating the misleading bit of videotape in question.

We're sorry, but that was an utterly meaningless moment—except as part of our own Blue America's silly, childish lore. Over here in Blue America, it's now one of the five most memorable moments generated by sixty years of presidential debates!

Watching the relevant videotape, you may be able to see what happened—or then again, you may not. Given the wiring of our brains, we're all inclined to "see" the things we want to see—and that's even true of us in Blue America, where the voters are all above average.

That said, we invite you to watch the extremely small chunk of videotape to which the New York Times links today. Ironically, but unmistakably, it's a classic "Cheap Fake!" 

The tape is edited in such a way as to give a misleading impression. Clownishly—for any normal standard, inexcusably—it even includes a menacing "horror film" musical backdrop, silly music designed to drive home the preferred tribal misapprehension.

Anthropologically, this is who and what we actually are on this Planet of the Humans. Here on this Planet of the Journalists, this is pretty much all we have.

In the broader sense, our lore about great debates of the past is filled with such tortured narrations. As the poet once observed, "A man [sic] hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

(For the record, that statement is true until we teach ourselves to do better.)

Will something of consequence happen tonight? We can't tell you that. We can tell you this:

Tonight's event is an abomination—a bizarre manifestation of a society on the edge. 

Valdimir Putin has been betting that "our democracy" can't survive the modern world—a world in which the "democratization of media," joined to the proliferation of intermingled "identities," has made it harder and harder for a very large nation like ours to maintain our alleged way of life.

Putin has wagered that our alleged system can't survive modernity. We can't swear that Putin is wrong in the wager he's placed.

But tonight, we'll have two god-awful candidates crowded upon a debate stage as a bunch of sub-human howler monkeys keep insisting, all over our vastly expanded media landscape, that the whole thing has been rigged.

On Fox, the monkeys keep insisting on this point, and they keep flinging their poo. For us, the leading question tonight is this:

To what extent will President Biden be able to function as a normal candidate? 

We'll be voting for President Biden this year, but that's the question we ask.

We were surprised when the Biden campaign agreed to take part in this debate. How well will the president function tonight?

In our view, that's the evening's main question. And if the president performs well tonight, that leaves an attendant question unanswered:

Where has he been in the past several years, as the nation has cried out for presidential leadership?

He has said nothing about the peculiar state of affairs at the southern border. He has said nothing about the cost of living, except for an amazingly inane focus on "shrinkflation."

It may be that President Biden has been diminished in a way which would explain his remarkable silence. But all in all, the candidate for whom we'll be voting has basically ceased to exist.

What hasn't ceased is our species' need for reassuring tribal lore. In this morning's New York Times, an intern continues the antique practice, even as the cuckoos continue their hollerin' on the Fox News Channel while the monkeys keep flinging their poo.

How well will President Biden perform? In our view, that's the key question tonight. It could be as noble Nestor says in Book Nine of the Iliad, as he cleans up the latest crazy meltdown by Agamemnon lord of men.

It could be as Nestor says to the troops:

 "Tonight's the night that rips our ranks to shreds or pulls us through."

We thought of sacred Nietzsche's work...

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2024 we watched this imitation of life: We thought of sacred Nietzsche last night as we watched the Gutfeld! program.

We're not saying we should have had such thoughts. We're just reporting the fact that we did.

Last night, the termagant plowed some familiar ground at the start of his primetime program. Hillary Clinton murdered Jeffrey Epstein! Former president Barack Obama still can't find his birth certificate!

As for President Biden, he was hailed by the termagant for his "soft poos," but also for "piss down an old man's leg." Upon news that Hooters will be closing a bunch of outlets, the program started with several jokes about women's body parts.

The Fox News Channel opens this garbage can every night of the week. The can is opened each night in primetime, as upper-class legacy orgs politely avert their gaze.

We thought of sacred Nietzsche last night as we watched this program's imitation of human conduct. We thought of one part of his work during the show's second segment. 

We'll start with a bit of background:

Stating the obvious, no one required Candidate Trump to accept the terms of tomorrow night's debate. That said, once he had agreed to those terms, the revolt from below came fast.

Robotic spear-chuckers now roam the world, insisting that the format is thoroughly rigged. By the second segment of last evening's show, the assembled experts were pretending to conduct a discussion of this disturbing state of affairs.

Last night, Greg Gutfeld's panel of experts included a former professional wrestler and two B grade comedians. Completing the panel was Charly Arnolt, host of OutKick The Morning with Charly Arnolt. 

Who the heck is Charly Arnolt? The leading authority on her career starts by telling us this:

Charly Arnolt (born July 14, 1987) is an American sports broadcaster and television personality for the multimedia platform OutKick. She is the announcer of the UFC, previously known for her tenure as a sportscaster and ring announcer with WWE from 2016 to 2021.

There's nothing "wrong" with any of that. For the record, Arnolt is also an unstoppable message machine. 

Gutfeld turned to Arnolt first during his second segment. Will tomorrow's debate be conducted in a way which is fair and balanced? In her initial bite of the apple, Arnolt offered this:

ARNOLT (6/25/24): ...I have a feeling that, during the debate, we're going to see Donald Trump's mike cut off a lot more than it should be, because that's one of the, I guess the advantages that they have.  

CNN wrote the rules. They're going to be able to cut Trump's mike, and I think there are probably going to be some fact-checkers on hand. They're going to be doing their job at 100% when Trump's talking. When Biden's spewing his lies, I have a feeling they're going to be sitting back, eating their popcorn. 

And I think it's just going to be an entire clown show as to what we see on Thursday.

As you can see, Arnolt has a lot of feelings. She thinks an array of things. 

It's our impression that she may be an expert on clown shows. As Nietzsche wrote in The Birth of Tragedy:

I imagine that many persons have reassured themselves amidst the perils of dreams by calling out, "It is a dream! And I want it to go on!"

While pretending to conduct a discussion, Arnolt was actually advancing mandated corporate message. That said, we still weren't thinking of sacred Nietzsche at that point in time.

If memory serves, that happened when Gutfeld returned to Arnolt, giving her a second chance to dream her detailed dream about Thursday night's event.

He threw to her a second time. In an imitation of human behavior, the Outkick host said this:

ARNOLT: I think a lot of people are confident that CNN has already handed over the debate questions to the Biden team so that he can prep in advance. But I would love to get the opinion on whether or not the Biden team has actually passed along those questions to CNN, and it's actually the other way around!

Arnolt would love to get the opinion on that! As we mentioned, she's on the air, in large part, because she's a wholly reliable, post-human message machine. 

Plainly, Arnolt was taking part in an imitation of life. Also present was comedian Rich Vos, a good guy who we knew a tiny tad at least three decades ago.

We're sorry about what we saw Rich say. It had to do with which of two women he thought was plainly much more attractive. (The other droogs rushed to agree.)

For whatever reason, it was during Arnolt's second imitation of discourse that we thought of Nietzsche. A furious assault on establishment culture—but more to the point, on human behavior—is being waged from below. 

The storm troops paid to conduct this assault constitute a study in anthropology. The Gutfeld! program is a nightly garbage can, but it's also a nightly imitation of human life. 

Full disclosure:

In its nightly assaults on President Biden, this program isn't telling its several million viewers that President Biden is insufficiently "spry." It explicitly tells its viewers that President Biden is senile and in the grips of dementia—also, that he routinely poops in his pants and soils the White House furniture.

(When the termagant says that the president sh*ts his pants, his bosses BLEEP it out.)

The termagant is 59 years old. He does that sort of thing night after nigh. As the New York Times averts its gaze, an ugly and stupid post-human assault is being waged from below.

We aren't saying that we should have thought of sacred Nietzsche last night. We're simply saying that, as we watched these lifeforms conduct this amazingly stupid assault, for whatever reason we did.

For the record, people are paid by Fox to conduct this nightly assault. Also this:

The termagant has the highest viewership of any host in all of "cable news!"

IMITATIONS: The Fox News Channel doesn't exist...


...if you read the New York Times: Kevin Drum is more sanguine about tomorrow's debate than we are.

(Important note to the New York Times. The debate is scheduled for tomorrow night. It won't take place "next week.")

Kevin has a prediction about tomorrow's event. At this site, we don't.  We aren't saying that his prediction is wrong. 

For the record, though, here it is:

My prediction for Thursday

Oh, you'd like a prediction about Thursday's debate? Happy to oblige. I predict that it will go normally. Trump will blather and lie while Biden will answer questions coherently with occasional enunciation problems. It will not swing voting intent by more than 1% or so.

Also, the moderators will ask at least one question about whatever the Supreme Court did that morning. I'm hoping it's about Chevron so we can find out if Trump has any idea what Chevron deference even is.

That prediction was posted on Monday. It could turn out to be right.

For ourselves, we're much less clear about what's going to happen. We do know this:

Neither one of these horrible candidates ought to be on that stage. Also, there will be nothing "normal" about a debate in which these are the two major candidates. 

More on that ugly assessment tomorrow. For today, let's look at a news report in this morning's New York Times—a news report which mistakenly says that the event in question will take place "next week."

Can anyone here play this game? Last Friday, the report to which we refer appeared online at the Times. As of that time, tomorrow's debate was indeed slated for "next week."

This morning, the report has finally appeared in print editions, lacking an adjustment to that scheduling note. Everybody makes mistakes, but the New York Times has been making this type of mistake with some regularity of late.

According to the Times web site, the report appears in today's print editions, though only on page A14. In our general view, it concerns the major topic in play at tomorrow night's event.

We refer to endless, around-the-clock claims that President Biden is in the grip of "senility" or "dementia." As of this morning, the New York Times seems to be saying that such claims are false. 

Headline included, the Times report starts as shown:

How Misleading Videos Are Trailing Biden as He Battles Age Doubts

President Biden has many adversaries in this year’s election. There are his Republican opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, and the independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

And then there is the distorted, online version of himself, a product of often misleading videos that play into and reinforce voters’ longstanding concerns about his age and abilities.

In the last two weeks, conservative news outlets, the Republican National Committee and the Trump team have circulated videos of Mr. Biden that lacked important context and twisted mundane moments to paint him in an unflattering light. 

The report then cites three video clips which do, in fact, seek to "paint [President Biden] in an unflattering light." According to the Times report, the videos are "misleading." They've created a "distorted" picture of the president.

Those assessments by the Times may be accurate. Meanwhile, sad:

According to the Times report, the videos have been circulated by "conservative news outlets, the Republican National Committee and the Trump team" itself. After describing the video clips, the Times offers this comical account of what is being claimed about President Biden:

A New York Times review of these videos found that some scenes were cut short and taken out of context, while other clips were cropped in a way that omitted crucial details when compared with additional footage.

Campaigns and political groups have long disseminated damaging videos of their opponents, sometimes misleadingly edited ones.

But the flurry of clips released this month is a fresh reminder of the steep, multifront and evolving challenge that Mr. Biden, 81, faces in convincing voters that he is spry enough to serve another term. As polls show a close race, many Americans harbor doubts about his fitness—and selectively sliced snippets from his routine public appearances are fueling those worries and sending conspiracy theories spiraling across social media.

According to the Times report, President Biden faces the challenge of convincing voters "that he is spry enough" to serve another term. 

That's comical, but also sad. Citizens, can we talk?

The entities which are pushing those clips aren't claiming that President Biden isn't sufficiently "spry." But so it goes as Blue America's most famous upper-class newspaper tries to avoid the aggressive, around-the-clock challenge emerging from below.

According to the Times report, the videos have been circulated by "conservative news outlets, the Republican National Committee and the Trump team" itself.

Along the way in the Times report, the New York Post is cited by name, several times. Meanwhile, how strange:

No other "conservative news outlet" is cited by name at all.

No other "news outlet" is ever cited by name! That would include the Fox News Channel, which has been broadcasting aggressive attacks about the president's supposed senility and dementia through such gruesome broadcast vehicles as the primetime Gutfeld! program.

The channel has been pushing these claims day and night. But only the Post is named.

Long ago and not so far away, sacred Nietzsche described the so-called "slave revolt in morals." As a mere freshman in college, we were assigned to read the texts in question. 

The leading authority on the gentleman describes this matter as shown:

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) was a German philosopher. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy...

Nietzsche's work spans philosophical polemics, poetry, cultural criticism, and fiction while displaying a fondness for aphorism and irony. Prominent elements of his philosophy include his radical critique of truth in favor of perspectivism; a genealogical critique of religion and Christian morality and a related theory of master–slave morality.


Slave revolt in morals

In Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche's genealogical account of the development of modern moral systems occupies a central place. For Nietzsche, a fundamental shift took place during human history from thinking in terms of "good and bad" toward "good and evil."

The initial form of morality was set by a warrior aristocracy and other ruling castes of ancient civilizations. Aristocratic values of good and bad coincided with and reflected their relationship to lower castes such as slaves. Nietzsche presented this "master morality" as the original system of morality—perhaps best associated with Homeric Greece. To be "good" was to be happy and to have the things related to happiness: wealth, strength, health, power, etc. To be "bad" was to be like the slaves over whom the aristocracy ruled: poor, weak, sick, pathetic—objects of pity or disgust rather than hatred.

"Slave morality" developed as a reaction to master morality. ... [Nietzsche] associated slave morality with the Jewish and Christian traditions, as it is born out of the ressentiment of slaves. 

Etcetera, and so forth and so on. As we said, we were assigned those difficult texts. We're fairly sure we read them, or at least that we tried.

You can't blame us for having perused those tests. You'll have to blame Stanley Cavell.

(For the record, we prefer the "slave morality"—until it spins out of control.)

At one point, we thought of the furious "slave revolt" as we watched Gutfeld! last night. It came to mind as the horrible Charly Arnolt spoke—but then too, there was comedian Rich Vos, a good guy who we knew a tiny tad at least three decades ago.

This afternoon, we'll show you what those warriors said on last night's Gutfeld! program. For now, we'll only say this:

True to the ways of the aristocratic class, the New York Times is refusing to report the fury of the assault on its sector—the fury of the assault from below on grotesque programs like Gutfeld!

The Times is willing to name the New York Post. It seems to believe it can run and hide from the Fox News Channel.

With respect to President Biden, we will tell you this:

We regard hm as a terrible candidate—as an insult to the tradition, such as it ever was. We regard the other candidate as apparently (severely) mentally ill—but that's a matter the New York Times and other such orgs have agreed we must never discuss.

The Times won't mention the one possibility. Today, it glosses the other.

Most strikingly, it refuses to name the Fox News Channel. This is the way aristocratic elites have tended to crash and burn.

Will President Biden "answer questions coherently" during tomorrow night's debate? We aren't entirely sure that he will. We can't predict that he won't.

For whatever it may be worth, we regard that as the primary question which will be answered tomorrow night. That said, we regard this debate as an abomination—as a rank imitation of life, not unlike the Gutfeld! program.

We'll offer more on that ugly viewpoint tomorrow. For now, we'll assure you of two key facts:

First, the imitation of life in question will not take place "next week." 

Also this:

When the event in question takes place, a furious assault will ensue—a relentless assault from below.

This afternoon: Night after night after night

Termagant cites what Cuomo said!

TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2024

We can't say his statement is wrong: Last Friday evening, former governor Andrew Cuomo guested with Bill Maher. on Bill's HBO show, Real Time. 

During the program's Overtime segment, they discussed the recent New York City criminal trial of former president Donald J. Trump.

Oof. Midway through their exchange, Maher described a major downside to the recent trial:

MAHER (6/21/24): The trial in New York, the one he got convicted for, was the greatest fundraising bonanza ever. He is now—he was lagging behind Biden, and now he’s pulled quite a bit ahead. That trial was the greatest reason people had to send their checks for five, ten, 25, whatever dollars to Donald Trump. 

So I mean, look, it’s a—it’s a Hobson’s choice always with him, because he’s always guilty. Yeah. It’s not like he’s not guilty of any of these crimes, but the repercussions might be worse.

For ourselves, we wouldn't necessarily agree with the claim that Trump was guilty of some sort of crime in that matter. That said, the fund-raising repercussion pretty much speaks for itself.

Bill noted an unfortunate downside to the Gotham "hush money" trial. What Cuomo said in their exchange was much more fundamental. 

Before, then after, Bill's observation, the former governor said this:

CUOMO: The two trials in New York—New Yorkers said, 66 percent said the justice system is politicized. And there's nobody in New York who likes Trump. And still, 66 percent said the justice system is politicized.

That's why I think he's not paying the same price for these verdicts, because they believe it is political. And you want to talk about a threat to democracy—when you have this country believing you're playing politics with the justice system, and you're trying to put people in jail or convict them for political reasons, then we have a real problem.

MAHER: [Remarks on fund-raising bonanza, then this:]

...I was always with you on the one in New York, the hush money trial. I don’t think they should have brought that one. It was just always going to look like a sex case, and people were always just going to look at it that way.

CUOMO: That case, the attorney general’s case in New York, frankly, should have never been brought. And if his name was not Donald Trump, and he—if he wasn’t running for president, I’m the former AG in New York, I’m telling you, that case would have never been brought.

And that’s what is offensive to people. And it should be, because if there’s anything left, it’s belief in the justice system.

To watch the full exchange, in order, you can just click here. (Move ahead to minute 6.)

For the record, it isn't clear which case Cuomo was talking about. Was he talking about the "hush money" case—the criminal case brought by D.A. Alvin Bragg? Was he talking about the civil fraud case brought by Attorney General Letitia James?

Given the context created by Maher's remarks, it isn't clear what case Cuomo was talking about. It is clear that he was saying that at least one of those cases was brought for political reasons. 

That isn't true just because he said it. But the fact that he said it is being widely bruited on Fox.

In Blue America, we won't be told that Cuomo offered this assessment. It isn't true just because he said it, but we Blues will be shielded from the task of having to think about what he said.

A certain termagant was pimping this matter on his primetime "cable news" program last night. He was also talking about Nancy Pelosi's alleged misuse of Botox—he does that pretty much every night—and he was talking about President Biden "sh*tting his pants," another favorite fantasy topic.

On balance, the termagant strikes us as sadly (and weirdly) disordered. So is a great deal of what we get told, and shielded from hearing, over here in Blue America, over here within our own aggressively segregated land.

According to Cuomo, at least one of those trials was an inappropriate political hit. In all honesty, we can't necessarily say that his assessment is wrong.

IMITATIONS: Big star continues to imitate life!

TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2024

This is your nation on Fox: For what it's worth, we disagree with the bulk of critical opinion concerning the film in question.

The film in question is Do the Right Thing. It appeared in 1989. 

As a general matter, the film was widely praised by the critics. As the leading authority on the film explains, a weather forecast sets the scene, at the start of the film, for what is going to follow:

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama film produced, written and directed by Spike Lee....The story explores a Brooklyn neighborhood's simmering racial tension between its African-American residents and the Italian-American owners of a local pizzeria, culminating in tragedy and violence on a hot summer's day.

A critical and commercial success, the film received accolades, including Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor...In 2022, the film was ranked the 24th greatest of all time in Sight and Sound magazine's decennial poll of international critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. It has since been featured on many other lists of the greatest films of all time by numerous critics.

As the film begins, a local D.J. gives the forecast for the day—"over 100 degrees." The sweltering heat provides a bit of dramatic context for the mayhem to come.

We rented Do the Right Thing a few years ago. We found it unwatchably tedious. That said:

"At the time of the film's release, both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert ranked the film as the best of 1989," the leading authority reports. "Later, each ranked it as one of the top 10 films of the decade."

That wasn't our assessment. But in our occasionally rational world, it's well known that assessments offered in good faith will, on occasion, differ.

(Full disclosure: We guested with Siskel, long ago, on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect program.)

We thought the film in question was tedious. That said, it remained quite hot in New York City over the weekend which just passed. This set the stage for our flailing American nation's latest imitation of life.

Briefly, a bit of background:

By the end of last week, it was already hot all along the east coast. As we noted on Sunday, the biggest star of our nations most watched "cable news" channel offered this bit of reporting at the start of Friday evening's imitation of a news show:

GUTFELD (6/21/24): The heat wave continues in the East. It's so hot Nancy Pelosi had to put on her backup face.


It's so hot she had to replace the stick up her ass with an ice pop.



It's so hot Jerry Nadler sold the shade under his ass to the highest bidder.

It's so hot he filled his sports bra with Haagen-Dazs. So hot he put a Klondike bar under each testicle


It's so hot Rachel Levine called in the National Guard to fan his nuts.

So it went, at the start of this primetime "cable news" program, at 10 p.m. last Friday night.

We'd be inclined to describe those remarks as an "imitation of life." More specifically, we'd describe them as an imitation of human life—as an imitation of the kind of discourse in which we humans have long pretended to engage.

"Man [sic] is the rational animal," a famous figure is widely said to have said, long ago by the Aegean. At least here in the western world, we've pretended from that day right up to this that his claim, as understood, was in fact basically accurate.

Thanks in large part to the "democratization of media," performers like the termagant have made it possible for others to see how delusional that widespread pretense has been. For ourselves, we would offer this assessment:

Here within our flailing nation, we've been conducting an obvious imitation of discourse for at least the past forty years. As of last night, it had been still hot in New York—and the termagant set out to display the accuracy of our assessment.

It had still been hot all along the east coast! Believe it or not, here's the way the termagant started last evening's primetime news program:

GUTFELD (6/24/24): Happy Monday, everyone!

So Washington officially hot 100 degrees for the first time in almost eight years. It was so hot, President Biden is decomposing at twice the normal rate.

It was so hot, Jerry Nadler filled his pants with all 31 flavors. 

It was so hot, instead of Botox, Nancy Pelosi injected her face with soft serve.

The nightly Pelosi Botox report! So began the primetime news program—but at that point, a change-up:

GUTFELD (continuing directly): And it was so hot, Barack Obama moved back to Kenya.


What? I don't know. I don't get it!

Our provisional assessment? Nothing is too dumb or too crass for this corporate-owned imitation of life. Soon he was offering the observation shown below, concerning reported advice that President Biden needs to smile at Thursday's night imitation of a debate:

GUTFELD: There is a downside to Joe smiling...If he holds the smile for more than eight seconds, we'll all assume he [BLEEP] his pants.

As the termagant offered this observation, the camera jumped to panelist Jonathan Turley. The Fox legal analyst was plainly embarrassed, to his obvious credit. 

We'll offer one more assessment. Based on past behavior at Fox, we'll assume the missing word was BLEEPed because it wasn't "pooped."

That helps explain Turley's embarrassment. Also, it helps display the extent to which last evening's show was an insult to human capability—an imitation of human life.

So it went at the start of this latest imitation of life. In fairness, this imitation of commentary is part of the wider imitation of discourse which is being conducted on the other cable news channels, but also in our biggest newspapers, as a flailing nation pretends to ready itself for Thursday evening's imitation of a political discussion / debate.

"This whole trial is out of order," Al Pacino once thoughtfully said. We'd be inclined to say the same thing about our nation's sprawling imitation of discourse, and therefore of human life.

As a nation, we keep pretending this isn't happening. Plainly, though, it is.

For the record, we have no idea why the 59-year-old TV star in question is obsessed with Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a minor figure within our current imitation of Congress. That said, it always comes back to the private parts of the termagant's targets, and to thoughts about human waste.

So it goes, night after night, then night after night after night. At the higher-level news orgs, the people who went to the finest schools insist on averting their gaze.

Fuller disclosure!

Yesterday morning, around 6:30, we suddenly thought of Abraham Lincoln as we watched Morning Joe. We thought of the way that moral giant emerged from the obscurity of the American wilderness, boasting one year of formal schooling—had inexplicably emerged as one of the greatest writers and moral thinkers in modern history.

We thought of Lincoln as we watched a little-known 22-year-old woman speak on Morning Joe.  Out of nowhere, her presentation emerged from the unbearable tedium of that morning's previous pseudo-discussion. 

We'll show you what that young woman said before the week is done. We'll link you to tape of what she said. Also, we'll link you to tape of a report on Kentucky PBS, late last year, about this startling young person.

Once in a while, such moments emerge from the endless imitations of life. That said, we're also forced to tell you this:

As last evening's program continued, the termagant made some perfectly decent points about the moral and intellectual squalor found within our own Blue America as we Blues conduct our own highly tribal imitation of discourse.

Tomorrow, we'll look at some of those points. But make no mistake:

Yellow submarines to the side, we're all living inside an imitation, pretty much all the way down.

Tomorrow: Termagant quotes Governor Cuomo. Also, praises Snopes

Four states, three demographic groups!

MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2024

Reading scores, Grade 8: Last Saturday, Kevin Drum surprised us with a post about California's public school students. More specifically:

How well did California's eighth graders perform on the most recent NAEP reading test? Compared to their peers from other states, it seemed to us that the Cali kids had performed surprisingly well:

DRUM (6/22/24): Among the 50 states, California ranks 13th in reading for white students and 9th for Black students. (But a weaker 22nd for Hispanic students.)

As one of Kevin's graphics notes, nine states didn't have enough black kids to produce a representative sample, given Naep procedures. That means that Cali's kids came in 13th among the total 50, ninth among 41.

On balance, Cali's kids did pretty well. We got to wondering about the way Cali's scores compared to those from some other major states. We decided to look at four such states—two of them red, two blue.

A bit of nostalgia was involved. Here are some of the data we churned:

Average scores, Grade 8 reading, 2022 Naep

White kids:
U.S.: 267.11
California: 268.69
New York State: 273.14
Texas: 263.85
Florida: 264.92
Black kids: 
U.S.: 242.77
California: 245.42
New York State: 246.41
Texas: 246.71
Florida: 246.91
Hispanic kids: 
U.S.: 249.81
California: 249.32
New York State: 248.03
Texas: 248.21
Florida: 259.98

We see no particular bombshells there. For all Naep data, start here.

Quickly, a basic point:

According to a very rough rule of thumb, ten points on the Naep scale is often said to be the rough equivalent of one academic year. 

That's a very rough rule of thumb, but it gives you a general idea of what those statistical differences might (roughly) suggest. And yes, that includes the differences in average scores between those three demographic groups within those four large states.

A bit of nostalgia was involved in this effort. We thought back to the days when it was still possible to imagine that someone, somewhere, actually cared about something resembling this.

Those days are long, long gone. A large amount of pretense may have been involved in the expression of such apparent concerns. 

Still, you could still pretend.

Today, the public discourse is all about who can seem to be more senile, depending on the way you edit tiny bits of videotape from their recent public appearances. On balance, our discourse is an undisguised, rolling clown show—a gong show all the way down.

In some ways, the most interesting information we collected involved the demographic distribution of the eighth graders in those four large states. The Naep provided these data:

Student population, Grade 8, 2022 Naep
White / Black / Hispanic kids

U.S.: 45% / 15% / 29%
California: 18% / 4% / 58%
New York State: 40% / 16% / 30%
Texas: 28% / 12% / 51%
Florida: 35% / 21% / 36%

Just to be clear:

According to the data from the Naep, California's grade 8 population in 2022 was 18 percent white, 4 percent black, 58 percent Hispanic.  With respect to the other jurisdictions, you can take it from there.

(The last we looked, they were all good, decent kids. That includes the kids who may have lost their way due to mistreatment, anguish, stress, disorder, abuse, neglect.)

At one time, it was possible to imagine that someone somewhere actually cared about what occurs in our public schools. Back in the 1960s, Jonathan Kozol arrived on the scene, and this (briefly) became a major topic within the liberal world!

Not long ago, our nation's journalistic thought leaders were still pretending to conduct discussions of such matters. As everyone must surely know by now, those days are gone, long gone.

Not to forget these kids: But what about Asian ancestry kids? Citizens, thank you for asking:

Average scores, Grade 8 reading, 2022 Naep

Asian ancestry kids:
U.S.: 281.07
California: 282.97
New York State: 277.49
Texas: 286.07
Florida: 272.59

At one time, this sort of thing seemed like a matter of interest. Those days are gone, long gone.

IMITATIONS (OF LIFE): This Thursday, we stage our latest event!

MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2024

Our latest imitation: We've never known why Imitation of Life was called Imitation of Life.

On the most literal level, the well-regarded 1959 film carried that name for an obvious reason. It was a remake of a well-regarded 1934 film of the exact same name.

That film, in turn, had been an adaptation of Fannie Hurst's 1933 novel, Imitation of Life.  The evocative title—Imitation of Life—was passed on, down through the ages. 

On Thursday night, we within our failing nation will be staging, and will be consuming, our own most recent imitation of life. At present, the people who pretend to be journalists are pretending to discuss that upcoming imitation of life.

Why were the novel and the subsequent films called Imitation of Life? We still don't know, but the leading authority on the later film thumbnails it in this manner:

Imitation of Life (1959 film)

Imitation of Life (1959) is an American drama film directed by Douglas Sirk, produced by Ross Hunter and released by Universal International. It was Sirk's final Hollywood film and dealt with issues of race, class and gender.


In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected Imitation of Life (1959) for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." (The 1934 version of Imitation of Life had been added to the National Film Registry in 2005.)


Though it was not well-reviewed upon its original release and was viewed as inferior to the original 1934 film version–many critics derided the film as a "soap opera"–Imitation of Life was the sixth highest-grossing film of 1959, grossing $6.4 million...[One critic] wrote that, in contrast to the novel, this film and the previous film had received "far more critical attention." With a wider audience, the second film became "more famous" than the first.

In 1959, somewhat improbably, Imitation of Life "dealt with issues of race, class and gender." That may help explain why it received so much critical attention, some of it dismissive.

Having said all that, we're still not sure why the film, and the original novel, were called Imitation of Life. In certain ways, Hollywood may have attempted to fashion the 1959 film as a fairly standard type of imitation of discourse:

Imitation of Life (1959 film)


In the 1950s there was increased activism in the Civil Rights Movement, with milestones such as the Brown v. Board of Education US Supreme Court case, and the Montgomery bus boycott gaining national attention. In addition, more women had been working during and after World War II. At the same time, the writers acknowledged that racial discrimination and its inequities were still part of society.

They created a plot line in which [the Lana Turner character] becomes a Broadway star by her own talents, with Annie assisting by being paid to serve as a nanny for Lora's child and general household manager. Producer Ross Hunter also was cannily aware that these plot changes would enable Lana Turner to model an array of glamorous costumes and real jewels, something that would appeal to a female audience. 

Lana Turner's wardrobe for Imitation of Life cost over $1.078 million, making it one of the most expensive in cinema history to that time.

In a highly improbable addition to the plot, the Lana Turner character turns into a big Broadway star! Come see Miss Turner's stunning wardrobe and jewels, the producer may have been whispering into the public's ear.

Did that constitute an imitation of discourse—a distraction from the challenging heart of the film? Each citizen, whether Red or Blue, is going to have to decide.

But what we'll see this Thursday night will be a full-blown imitation—a well-disguised imitation of human intellectual life. The same can be said of the pseudo-discussions which are now being broadcast about Thursday night's imitation of a debate.

Thursday's event will feature two imitations of American political leadership. The current imitations of discourse are being conducted by a wide array of imitations of journalistic thought leaders, Red and Blue alike.

As we ingest this rolling imitation of a functioning democracy, we think of what Michael Moore said at the 2003 Oscars. On stage at that high-profile event, the gentleman offered this:

MOORE (3/23/03): I've invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to—they are here. They are here in solidarity with me because we like non-fiction.

We like non-fiction, and we live in fictitious times.

We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president.

We—We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons.

Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or the fictitious [sic] of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr. Bush!

Employing a lovely turn of phrase, Moore spoke that night of "fictitions." Twenty-one years later, we're inclined to say that our culture has advanced to the point where we're all living inside a full-blown imitation of life.

(Back then, it was Moore who was alleging "fictitious election results!" Today, one of our imitation candidates insists on making that unsupported claim about our last election.)

In a brilliant joke from the dead-and-gone Soviet Union, a public employee of the Soviet state was said to make this wickedly sage observation:

We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.

Today, within our own imitation of life, it may work more like this:

They pretend to discuss an election and we pretend to listen. 

On the whole, the people cast in the role of journalists are on the air, every day and then all night, pretending that nothing essential has changed. In our view, the time has come to abandon that pretense. 

The time has come to drop that pose. Also, we'd have to say this:

It's no longer clear that there's any known way "back out of all this now too much for us."

This afternoon: Out of nowhere—where you'd least expect it!—a brilliant presentation

SUNDAY: Reportedly, it was this hot in the east!

SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2024

Our nation's ongoing dysfunction: Friday evening, at 10 o'clock, the termagant started fast. 

It had been very hot in New York. For that reason, he opened his program with a bit of topical humor:

GUTFELD (6/21/24): The heat wave continues in the East. It's so hot Nancy Pelosi had to put on her backup face.


It's so hot she had to replace the stick up her ass with an ice pop.


That's how the termagant started.

For the record, how hot was it in the east? Reportedly, it was this hot:

GUTFELD: It's so hot Jerry Nadler sold the shade under his ass to the highest bidder.

It's so hot he filled his sports bra with Haagen-Dazs. So hot he put a Klondike bar under each testicle


It's so hot Rachel Levine called in the National Guard to fan his nuts.

That's the way the termagant started his primetime "cable news" program. These observations had all been delivered by 10:03 p.m. 

When it came time for his nightly comment on Joy Behar, he compared her this time to a cow.

(We're withholding the link for a reason. Click ahead to 10:07 p.m. if you choose.)

For the record, the termagant is 59 years old. He comes from a sunny land. 

His angry and disordered conduct has been normalized by the silence of everyone else, none of whom want to tangle with Fox. That said, this is American cultural carnage. It airs in primetime weekday nights.

In truth, it had been very hot in the east. The termagant, such as he is, was simply reporting the facts.

SATURDAY: Fun and games on Fox & Friends!


The death of a 12-year-old girl: If there were some such thing as very bad people, these would be very bad people.

Starting in today's 6 o'clock hour, they got busy proselytizing viewers of Fox & Friends Weekend, a gruesome propaganda vehicle on the Fox News Channel.

Viewers of this morning's show heard Barack Obama described as "our shadow president." They heard a chuckling discussion of an amusing sign in Florida—signs which direct this slogan at new arrivals from blue states:


You can't get dumber than these people are. On the other hand, you can be fairly sure that they're going to try. 

DON'T FAUCI MY FLORIDA, the alleged signs allegedly say. Insanely, it turns out that the clever slogan in question dates to merchandize produced by Florida's governor in 2021, back before his White House campaign crashed and burned.

Don't Fauci their Florida! In prime time shows this past week, Fox News colleagues like Watters and Gutfeld staged performative acts in which they seem to encourage physical violence against this killer of millions. So it goes on this insane "cable news" channel, as more elegant orgs like the New York Times reuse to comment or judge.

Back to this morning's performance:

You can't get dumber than these people are, but they're going to try. More than anything else, this morning's performers continued to pound away at an Associated Press news report which appeared late Thursday afternoon.

In the past two days, this short, initial AP report has been widely pseudo-discussed on Fox News Channel programs. So has the vicious crime the AP was starting to report, with special attention devoted to the AP's initial headline, which only referred to "men:"

2 men arrested in strangulation of 12-year-old Houston girl whose body was found in a creek

HOUSTON—Two men who were seen on surveillance footage with a 12-year-old girl before her body was found in a Houston creek earlier this week were arrested Thursday in her death, police said.

Johan Jose Rangel Martinez, 21, and Franklin Jose Pena Ramos, 26, each face a charge of capital murder in the killing of Jocelyn Nungaray, police said. The medical examiner has determined that her cause of death was strangulation.

It was unclear if the two suspects had attorneys yet to speak on their behalf. Their names were not listed in jail or court records as of Thursday afternoon.

Jocelyn’s body was found in the shallow water of a creek early Monday morning. Police have said that she sneaked out of her nearby home the night before.

Police said that surveillance footage showed the men meeting up with Jocelyn before walking to a convenience store with her.

There wasn't much more than that to that initial AP report. As of the time the report was filed, the two suspects had just been arrested. As you can see in the report, little more was known about the two men at the time.

There's no reason why this vicious crime shouldn't have been reported and discussed. It's been widely discussed on the Fox News Channel because, as it turns out, the two suspects are, in fact, "Venezuelan nationals who entered the United States illegally in March." 

Who are we quoting in that passage? We're quoting the Associated Press, which filed a second, more informative news report yesterday afternoon, more informative headline included:

Capital murder charges filed against 2 Venezuelan men in the death of a 12-year-old girl in Houston


The two men are Venezuelan nationals who entered the United States illegally in March, according to a statement Friday from the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Martinez was arrested March 14 and Pena on March 28, both by U.S. Border Patrol near El Paso, Texas, about 670 miles from Houston, the statement said. Both were then released with orders to appear in court at a later date. How they traveled to Houston has not been revealed.

According to court documents filed Friday, the suspects allegedly lured the girl under a bridge and remained with her there for more than two hours. They allegedly took off her pants, tied her up and killed her before throwing her body in the bayou, a Harris County prosecutor wrote in a court filing.

The ugliness of this crime has become more clear. Meanwhile:

As of yesterday afternoon, the legal status of the two suspects had been reported by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Accordingly, it had also been reported by the Associated Press.

Back to the other very bad people, the ones we watched on the Fox News Channel this morning:

This morning, the very bad people in question were still clucking and wailing about that original AP report. The AP is refusing to tell its readers that the two suspects were here illegally, these clucking corporate idiots continued to claim

Yesterday, a wide array of performers on this channel had engaged in this keening and wailing. By this morning, the keening and wailing were completely bogus—but so what?

The keening and wailing continued this morning at a high-decibel level. Yesterday's second news report went unmentioned as the friends continued to assail the AP for refusing to report the men's legal status.

Briefly, let's be fair:

As of this morning, it's entirely possible that the three friends in question didn't know anything about this second AP report. No serious person can seriously claim that people like these typically know what they're talking about when they go on the air and start their aggressive promulgation of pre-approved corporate script.

It's entirely possible that Rachel, Charlie and Will didn't know about yesterday's AP report. That said, they're part of a deeply destructive "journalistic" arrangement which has helped create two Americas out of what used to more closely resemble one.

At any rate, Rachel, Charlie and Will outdid themselves this morning. They did so with their keening and wailing about the way the AP refuses to reveal the suspects' legal status—long after the AP had done that very thing.

Please don't make us transcribe their clowning behavior! But to see a minor first example at 6:26, you can just click here. At 7:00, Brother Cain started the program's second hour with this gong-show effort:

CAIN (6/22/24): It's the 7 a.m. hour of Fox & Friends Weekend, starting with this:

Houston residents, holding a vigil to honor a 12-year-old girl allegedly murdered by illegal immigrants. But the Associated Press? They won't mention those details.

As Cain declaimed, up on the screen went a photo of the original AP headline—the original AP headline from that first, brief news report. 

To see where the clowning went from there, you can click this link to see the hapless Charlie Hurt screen that original headline again, as he complains about the way the AP refuses to tell you the truth.

Knowingly or otherwise, MSNBC's Joy Reid played a similar game with a similar story earlier this week. For a partial report from Mediaite, you can just click here.

 Needless to say, Reid's grossly misleading report has been widely discussed on the Fox News Channel in the past few days. Reid may not have known how bogus her presentation was at the time she aired it. Whether she knew what she was doing or not, her bogus report has been widely discussed on Fox.

Just a guess: This morning's misstatements by the channel's three friends won't be discussed there at all.

Given the basic shape of our vastly imperfect human nature, there's no way to avoid behavior like this. Rather, there's no way to avoid such behavior once you've accepted "segregation by viewpoint" as the basic organizing principle of your nation's journalism.

Once that structure has been normalized, corporate entities will pay large salaries to willing enablers, Red and Blue alike. We can always say that The Others are worse than Us. But at this time, each of our leading "cable news" entities have spun out of control.

Over there in Red America, there they were, this very morning, still pimping the headline from Thursday's initial AP report. The trio of friends gamboled and played, and played the fool, in line with their employer's basic business model.

 We'll have more on this matter next week. For today, we'll close with this point:

As of this morning, we find no sign that the vicious murder of this 12-year-old girl has ever been mentioned by the New York Times. 

Most likely, it's better to say nothing at all than to say the soul-draining things the three Fox friends have now said. That said, Red America has been pushing this broader topic very hard in the past week. 

Over here in Blue America, is the broader topic being disappeared? Also, is it a serious topic—an important topic which actually should be reported and discussed?

Is a serious topic possibly being disappeared? Inevitably, so it will go when "the new segregation" reinvents us as Two Different Worlds.

PROPHECY: Gutfeld delivers the latest threat!

FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2024

The rage of the sick angry child: The latest implied threat was delivered, just last evening, on the Gutfeld! program.

We refer to implied threats against Dr. Fauci. As we noted yesterday, a silly chimp name named Jesse Watters performed the first of these behaviors on Tuesday afternoon's edition of the gong-show "news program, "The Five.

Are we merely imagining this fellow's performance as a type of threat? By clicking here, you can see the performance yourself. 

As we noted yesterday, the silliest hireling in all of Fox News pounded his right fist into his left palm as he staged his performance. As he engaged in this braindead gesture, he suggested what should be done to the killer Fauci:

WATTERS (6/18/24): They're treating this guy like royalty. He should be really [SMACK] put the screws to.

So said a failing nation's silliest child, smacking his fist into his palm as a type of braindead suggestion.

So it went with the vacuous Watters! Last night, a certain termagant seemed to accept the Implied Threat to Fauci Challenge.

It happened in the first two minutes of his primetime "cable news" program. By way of establishing cultural context, we'll included the closing line of the termagant's previous comment:

GUTFELD (6/20/24): ...There's no better word than "feces." It's my mantra when I meditate.

In a recent interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci fears that someone could kill him. 

Here's some advice, Fauci: Just stay home.

After a delayed applause break, the termagant aimed his middle finger directly at the camera. This would help other disordered minds know that the termagant really meant what he had just said.

In fairness, this impressive middle-finger salute was pixilated by the termagant's owners. His next bit of commentary started like this:

GUTFELD (continuing directly): In Ohio, a defense attorney has been reinstated after being penalized for pooping in a Pringles can...

This is the way this idiot's tiny mind actually functions. Consider:

In the first two minutes of last night's show, he made references to President Biden's embalming fluid (and to his hearse), but also to Dr. Rachel Levine's panties and to Rep. Jerrold Nadler's balls.

His nightly joke about Nancy Pelosi's face would come at 10:05. For the record, the termagant is 59 years old (!), and he hails from a sunny land.

This is the way this overwrought fellow functions. He works under cover of darkness:

No one wants to tangle with the Fox News Channel! For that reason, this garbage can is opened each night, on a prime time "cable news" program, without a word of notice from the more civilized people who remain behind the high walls of our own Blue nation and of their own professional guild.

We'd score the termagant's presentation last night as a type of implied threat. Somewhere, some other disordered being may see what Watters and Gutfeld have done, and that person will consider the possibility of engaging in some additional act.

Over on Blue America's channel, the children pump our own tribe's propaganda, aimed directly at us. For forty years, we Blues have been too unintelligent to understand the way this game is played—the way this destructive game has actually worked.

"This whole court is out of order," Al Pacino once said.

The same is true of the "national discourse" which underlies the functioning of the realm we refer to as "our democracy." 

That whole clownish discourse has been out of order for decades, but our corporate pundits won't tell us that. 

Some of them may not understand that fact. But also, they're very well paid.

Back at the dawn of the west, a furious band had spent ten years laying siege to Troy. As our first great poem of war begins, the rage of Agamemnon, lord of men, triggers the rage of Achilles.

It was all about who owned which women. The violence proceeded from there.

The rage of the termagant was on full display on last night's "comedy program." 

(Clownishly, it was so described last night by Kat Timpf. It's always possible that she doesn't know better.) 

The rage of the termagant was on full display. Over on the other channel, the pundits crouched behind high walls, like the more civilized residents of Troy.

In Book Six, before he returns to the battle, Hector engages in a memorable scene with Andromache, his generous wife. For purposes of today's discussion, the scene begins right here:

At that, Hector spun and rushed from his house,
back by the same way down the wide, well-paved streets
throughout the city until he reached the Scaean Gates,
the last point he would pass to gain the field of battle.
There his warm, generous wife came running up to meet him,
Andromache the daughter of gallant-hearted Eetion

who had lived below Mount Placos rich with timber,
in Thebe below the peaks, and ruled Cilida's people.
His daughter had married Hector helmed in bronze.
She joined him now, and following in her steps
a servant holding the boy against her breast,

in the first flush of life, only a baby,
Hector's son, the darling of his eyes
and radiant as a star.

Hector is joined by his generous wife, but also by their darling son, "radiant as a star.". 

Hector tells Andromache why he has to return to the fighting. After that, we encounter one of the most famous scenes in all of western literature:

In the same breath, shining Hector reached down
for his son—but the boy recoiled,
cringing against his nurse's full breast,
screaming out at the sight of his own father,

terrified by the flashing bronze, the horsehair crest, 
the great ridge of the helmet nodding, bristling terror—
so it struck his eyes. And his loving father laughed,
his mother laughed as well, and glorious Hector,
quickly lifting the helmet from his head,
set it down on the ground,
fiery in the sunlight,
and raising his son he kissed him, tossed him in his arms,
lifting a prayer to Zeus and the other deathless gods:
"Zeus, all you immortals! Grant this boy, my son,
may be like me, first in glory among the Trojans,
strong and brave like me, and rule all Troy in power
and one day let them say, 'He is a better man than his father'
when he comes home from battle bearing the bloody gear
of the mortal enemy he has killed in war—
a joy to his mother's heart."
So Hector prayed
and placed his son in the arms of his loving wife.

Andromache pressed the child to her scented breast,
smiling through her tears. Her husband noticed,
and filled with pity now, Hector stroked her gently,
trying to reassure her,
repeating her name...

Civilized values, decency, exist behind Troy's famous walls. 

Hector and his generous wife are able to share a laugh as they delight in their darling child. Hector is filled with pity for his generous wife.

Civilized values exist inside Troy, but the warrior ethic prevails. When Hector prays to the deathless gods, he prays that this baby boy will become a joy to his mother by coming home with the bloody gear of the people he's killed in battle.

We still haven't shown you the most telling part of this extended scene. We refer to the passage in which Hector offers one additional prophecy:

It isn't just that "sacred Troy must die." In yet another accurate prophecy, Hector tells Andromache, in rich detail, what her personal fate will be when that disaster occurs.

The sexual politics which rules the Iliad is deeply entrenched within our nation today. The sheer stupidity of our own Blue America's recent conduct is an artefact of that politics.

We had to hear Stormy tell her story before we could know how to vote! The Achaeans wanted to get Helen back, and we had to hear about that!

We had to hear Stormy tell her story! When a population has agreed to descend to that level of stupidity, can any good outcome result?

"The day will come when sacred Troy must die," Hector said. "Priam must die and all his people with him."

When we awoke last Saturday morning, we were thinking of those sacred lines. A great deal remains to be said about the rhyming which may be lurking inside those famous lines.

Next week, though, we finally have it. Next week, it happens: