What is a subjective assessment?


The dogs which continue to bark: It's long been known that you can't fit a square peg in a round hole—or at least that you can't fit it snugly.

Something else is fairly obvious. You can't fit five (5) "Power Five" champions into a four-team playoff. 

As in musical chairs, someone has to get left out.

This would seem like a fairly obvious point. But as of this very morning, the cable dogs continue to bark, arguing about which of those five conference champions should have been left out this year.

After Saturday's games, it was Florida State which got left out. Alabama was selected for the final spot in this year's four-team playoff.

As you may know, Florida State's star quarterback has suffered a broken leg; he's now out for the season. Presumably, that injury was a significant part of the Playoff Committee's thinking. 

On the basis of that injury, many sports pundits have asserted that Florida State simply isn't one the four best teams at this point. Whether you agree with that assessment or not, it's perfectly sensible thinking. 

Other pundits think Florida State deserves to be included, given its unbeaten record. All day yesterday, then on this morning's programs, the various dogs continue to argue a wide array of plainly subjective points.

We're fascinated by the way we humans conduct our various debates. On Saturday, we noted a point of fascination:

Very few sports pundits seemed to realize that they were arguing subjective points as they tried to fit five champions into a four-team format.

Instead, the dogs continue to howl. They seemed to think that they could prove that their preferred assessment was somehow "right." 

On this matter, there's no way to do so. We've seen almost no one say that.

Also this morning, we saw one of the worst segments we've ever seen on Morning Joe. We thought the discussion was extremely unfair to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a progressive legislator with whose views we don't always agree.

As always, Joe was spouting and fuming, with Mika backing him up. Two reliable pundits arrived and quickly piled on. Under current arrangements, disagreement is rarely allowed on our blue tribe's "cable news" programs.

The football playoff concerns a game. The topic discussed on Morning Joe was of the deepest importance.

We'll try to lay it out for you in the next day or two. In the meantime, we'll offer this:

On Morning Joe, the conversation was full of feeling, but it struck us as very unfair. In our view, our blue tribe is often poorly served by the spouting and fuming which occurs on this high-profile "cable news" program. 

In the end, college football is played for fun. It's a form of entertainment.

On Morning Joe, the gang was discussing a topic of the highest importance. We thought their judgment was very poor. This was not a unique occurrence.

STARTING TOMORROW: Red and blue Babel!


Taking a good look around: Last Thursday, MSNBC announced that Mehdi Hasan's weekend show was getting canceled. 

We don't know why the show got canceled. Neither does Kevin Drum, as he noted in this post:

Why was Mehdi Hasan canceled?

MSNBC canceled Mehdi Hasan's weekly show today. Twitter is alive with accusations that this was done because Hasan is outspokenly progressive and pro-Palestinian. Or did it happen because of low ratings? You decide:

[Graphic concerning viewership of three cable programs]

Hard to say, isn't it? Hasan's ratings over the past half year have been fairly steady, although he's lost a good chunk of audience since August. Most of this decline came after October 7 and may have been due to his pro-Palestinian stance.

So...... was he canceled because he was too pro-Palestinian? Or because he lost his audience because he was too pro-Palestinian? And does it matter?

We'll start with one observation. Based on the graphic in question, it doesn't look like Hasan really had lost an enormous chunk of his (rather small) Sunday night audience.

That said, we don't know why his program got canceled. In this news report from The Hill, we learn that other MSNBC programs are being canceled or reconfigured as part of "a weekend shakeup."

Hasan will remain as an MSNBC commentator—but why was his program canceled? We have no way of knowing.  

That said, we were intrigued by several comments to Drum's post—comments about the current state of red and blue tribe cable news.

One of the comments came from a reader who spoke in support of MSNBC. Here's the text of that comment, along with a response:

COMMENT: I know it's all the rage to call out MSNBC as a left-wing propaganda site. Sure, its commentator shows lean left. But they are basically grounded in facts. They believe in climate change—that's a fact, they believe Jan. 6 was an insurrection—it was. They have broadcast any and all court proceedings having to do with Trump's 91 charges—how terrible.

RESPONSE: Yep, regarding MSNBC, you are right that "they are basically grounded in facts". Compared to Fox News, especially when listening to their commentators, MSNBC looks really good.

Does MSNBC "look really good" when compared to Fox News? If we tried to answer that question, we'd have to start with this:

On the whole, the commenter is judging MSNBC by an extremely weak standard.

(We'd also make this observation: It's possible to provide extremely unhelpful commentary which is wholly "grounded in facts.") 

On the whole—though not in every way—the performance is often extremely bad on the Fox News Channel. With that in mind, we were especially struck by an additional comment to Drum's post about Hasan. 

This commenter makes reference to Drum's graphic. The graphic shows that Mark Levin's Sunday night program on Fox has been swamping Hasan's program in the cable news ratings:

COMMENT: Mark Levin doing way better on ratings?! Wow, I used to listen him for a few minutes now and then on his AM talk radio show before he went to Fox, and the guy was just a angry nut. An extremist, angry nut. 

He fit well on AM talk radio with its right-wing nonsense stations. It's just insane that Fox News gave him a job. Now he gets to spread his craziness more broadly. 

Honestly, I have never listened to him even once on Fox News. Just can't take the idea of doing so. On the crazy-propaganda-spouting meter, I wonder how he compares to Sean Hannity?

The commenter has never listened Levin's weekend program. (We can't say we blame him.) That said, he seemed surprised to learn that Levin's program draws something like 1.5 million viewers on a regular basis.

We have occasionally watched Levin's weekend show. Millions of people disagree, but to our eye and ear, he does often seem like a bit of a nut. 

Mark Levin does strike us as an extremely angry nut. Reading the comment from Drum's reader, something occurred to us all over again:

Many people have little idea about what happens on Fox.

We've had that thought fairly often of late. The background goes like this:

Over the course of (let's say) the past year, we've come to find MSNBC more and more unwatchable. That reaction is largely based on the way MSNBC programs pound away at endless volumes of legal minutia, all built upon this pleasing theme:

Trump Trump Trump Trump Jail!

Stating the obvious, Donald J. Trump's legal problems are a real and ongoing American and global news event. 

That said, those legal problems aren't the only American / global news event. In our view, MSNBC's obsessive attention to those problems represents extremely bad corporate judgment, on a journalistic and a political basis.

Over the past year or so, we've found it harder and harder to watch these endless hours of legal trivia. It's hard to avoid the thought that this endless programming may represent a cynical, rating-based corporate financial decision.

As MSNBC has become more and more unwatchable for us, we've been flipping over to Fox on a more frequent basis. Often (though not always), what we've seen has been even worse than we would have expected.

So it has been with Mark Levin and his weekend program.

In our view, MSNBC's incessant focus on legal trivia represents bad political judgment. In our view, that's a large part of the current problem with blue tribe cable news.

That's part of the problem with blue cable. All week long, we'll tackle these questions:

What's actually happening in red tribe cable? Why doesn't it get discussed?

In our view, "cable news" has largely become a red and blue tribal Babel. Can a large modern nation survive this arrangement?

We'll guess that the answer is no. 

Tomorrow: It topped the front page of the New York Times. Who heard about it on cable?

The AP ranked them 1 and 2!


Then, reality bit: On this very special weekend, let's talk college football. Also, let's discuss the kinds of ways we humans tend to reason.

Who are the four best teams this year? Truthfully, only The Shadow knows—and as far as we know, he isn't a member of the Playoff Selection Committee.

We refer to the 13-member panel charged with selecting the four (4) teams who will take part in the post-season tournament which produces a national champion.

Tomorrow, the committee will name the four best teams—or at least, they'll try or pretend to do so.

In truth, there is no objective way to select the four best teams. Especially in a year like this, it's very, very, very hard to know who the four best are. 


Teams from the five major "power conferences" play very few games against each other in the course of the regular season. This makes it hard to know how the best teams from one power conference might compare to those from the other conferences in some particular year.

By the way, here are the won-loss records for three of those conferences this year. (We're counting Notre Dame as a "Power 5" team.) Can you spot the dominance by the SEC which every sports pundit affirms?

Won-loss record against teams from other Power 5 conferences:
SEC teams: 7-9
Big Ten teams: 6-8
Pac-12 teams: 7-5

The SEC got stuck with some fairly tough matchups this year. But are you able to spot that circuit's incontrovertible dominance?

Who are the four best teams this year? There's no obvious way to tell.

In the absence of head-to-head matchups, we're forced to fall back on "expert opinion" and on "the eyeball test." That said, just how solid is expert opinion? How well do expert eyeballs perform when applying that famous test?

Expert opinion is fallible! Consider this:

Back in the day, only two teams were selected to play for the national title. Let's recall the state of expert opinion back in 2006.

All the experts agreed that year. Ohio State was rated #1. Ohio State was best.

Also, Michigan was rated #2. The Wolverines were second best.

As you can see at this link, those Big Ten rivals were ranked #1 and #2 in the AP poll from Week 7 (October 15) right on through Week 12 (November 19). 

In Week 11, the two teams finally met on the field. They entered the game with identical 11-0 records. They played an exciting game, with Ohio State winning, 42-39. 

Now for the rest of the story:

Even after that (exciting) game had been played, the two teams remained #1 and #2 in the next AP poll! Major sports pundits enthusiastically said the two teams were still the best. (We're looking at you, old pal Tony and Michael!)

Pundits said the Big Ten rivals should be selected to play a rematch for the national championship. Their first game had been so great that it should be Ohio State versus Michigan all over again!

By the time all the regular season games were done, Michigan had fallen to #3 in the AP poll. Ohio State was still #1, receiving all 65 first-place votes.

As it turned out, that year's committee decided to send #1 Ohio State off to play #2 Florida in the national championship game. #3 Michigan got shunted off to the Rose Bowl, where they'd get to pummel #8 Southern Cal.

Ohio State was still #1. Applying the eyeball test, every AP voter said so—but here's what happened next:

In the game for the national title, Ohio State got blasted by Florida, 41-14. 

Out in the Rose Bowl, it was the same darn thing. Southern Cal was ahead, 32-11, with one minute left in the game. A closing touchdown left Michigan on the short end of a 32-18 final score.

From Week 7 right through Week 12, experts employing the eyeball test were sure about what they saw. Ohio State and Michigan were the two best teams that year. Even after they met on the field, pundits said they should play again for the national title.

In fairness, Ohio State and Michigan were both very good that year. That said, it was fairly obvious that the eyeball test, performed by experts, had misjudged how good they were.

The following year, expert opinion was still quite high on Michigan. As you can see at this link, they started the season ranked #5 in the AP's preseason poll. 

In a very famous upset, they lost their opening game—at home!—to Appalachian State. The next week, Oregon came into the Big House and blew their doors off all over again, 39-7.

(By Week 11, Oregon had risen to #2 in the AP poll. Magnificent Dennis Dixon may have been on his way to the Heisman Trophy. An injury that week ended his season. The Ducks ended up #23 in the final AP poll. Michigan ended up #18.)

Who are the four best teams this year? At that point, it's hard to tell. Experts were sure in 2006. As it turned out, the experts were almost surely wrong.

This past week, sports pundits argued about the four best teams until they were Michigan blue in the face. None of them seemed to understand a basic point:

There's no objective way to say who the best teams are. There's no way to "prove" your point.

They argued and argued and argued some more, citing such topics as "strength of schedule." None of them seemed to realize that strength of schedule, in the end, is another subjective measure.

Each year, we're fascinated by this special week. We get to see one of the ways we humans reason—and according to major anthropologists, we don't always reason real good.

For the record, this doesn't mean that the pundits are "bad people." It means that they're cable sports stars!

A subjective assessment: In our view, this would have been the perfect year for an eight-team playoff. (Next year, we go to a twelve-team playoff.)

At this link, you can see the top eight teams in the current AP poll. Our best guess? 

Before the injury to Florida State's star quarterback, any one of those teams could conceivably have won an eight-team playoff. In our view, the odds would have dropped sharply from there.

Is Georgia still the nation's best team? They certainly may be! Today, we start to get the chance to maybe perhaps find out.

COMING TOMORROW: How do people puzzle things out?


College football's best: We strongly agree with Kevin Drum about last night's Newsom / DeSantis "debate" on the Hannity program:

DRUM (11/30/23): I watched the first half hour of tonight's debate between California governor Gavin Newsom and Florida governor Ron DeSantis, but that was all I could take. So I have no idea who "won" or "lost."

But just to set the record straight on something I think Newsom didn't make clear enough, it really is true that taxes in California aren't generally higher than in Florida...

Kevin goes on from there to offer some basic statistics; he links to a high-level source. We can't vouch for the perfect accuracy of those statistics, but Kevin goes on to say this:

DRUM: The working poor are better off in California. The working and middle classes are about the same in both states. The upper middle class and the affluent are taxed less in Florida.

The reason for this is that California's income tax is very progressive. The poor, on average, pay negative tax, and the next two cohorts pay about 1%. It's only for the wealthy that California's income tax becomes significant...

We're assuming that's basically accurate. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, California has the most equitable tax policy among the fifty states. Florida has the third least equitable tax policy among the fifty states.

(Warning: The ITEP notes that its data are a few years out of date.)

We assume the claims we've posted above are basically accurate. We also assume that Kevin is right in what he says about Newsom's presentation on this topic last night. Our basic guess would be this:

No one watching that part of last night's debate believed Newsom's claims in this area. To see how implausible his presentation seemed, you can click right here.

Very few viewers would have believed Newsom's claims about taxes in California as opposed to taxes in Florida. When Kevin says that Newsom "wasn't clear enough," he's making a large understatement.

So it goes as we the people get familiar Storylines hammered into our heads. Meanwhile, who are college football's four best teams this year?

On ESPN and FS1, sports pundits have been debating that question all week. This coming Sunday, the committee charged with making that decision will name the four (4) lucky duckies who will compete in this year's post-season college playoff.

It's fascinating to watch the way this topic gets drop-kicked around each year. Here's the blindingly obvious dog which constantly fails to bark:

There is no "objective" way to answer that annual question.

It may just be that the pundits are told that they must never say that. But every year, it's the same thing:

The pundits argue all week long. No one ever notes the obvious fact that there is no way to settle the question, except on the field of play. 

No one seems to realize that the claims for which they're arguing are almost wholly subjective. Everyone seems to think that they're making claims which can somehow be shown to be "right."

We're sorry, Virginia, but no:

You can't go by "the eyeball test"—and you can't trust "expert opinion." All you can do is select four teams—Teams A, B, C and D—and let them battle it out. 

Even then, you can't be sure that Team E wouldn't have won the whole darn thing is they'd been allowed to compete. Also, if Team A beats Team B, everyone knows that Team B may in some cases be better.

There is no objective way to pick the four best teams! Tomorrow, we're going to take you back to the magical year when this basic logical principle became stupendously clear. 

In the year we have in mind, the experts had seemed to be very sure about who the two (2) top teams were. 

(At that time, the committee picked only two teams. Those teams then played for the title.)

The experts seemed to be very sure about the who the two best teams were. But uh-oh! One of the teams the experts liked did get sent to the championship game, where they were forced to play Florida. The other team got dispatched to the Rose Bowl, where they met Southern Cal. 

At those separate destinations, the two top teams got their clocks cleaned by those other teams. Everyone knew that those teams were best, until the fickle finger of fate defrocked them in that manner.

No one knows who the four best college teams are. Analysts argued all week long and no one ever said that!

Coming tomorrow: The Autumn of '06

INCOMPREHENSIONS: Why would they call it an open-air prison?


"Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?" All through the annals of human history, we learn about the varied fates of the planet's "disregarded peoples."

Some of these populations go on to be deeply despised. Some are then subject to genocides, as was the case with Europe's Jewish population in the middle of the past century.

As all sane people understand, that was one of human history's greatest mass crimes. As Donny Deutsch and Chuck Schumer have noted, the memory of that astonishing crime lives on in American families right up to the present day.

(Before we continue: In one of his last great songs, Woody Guthrie composed a song about a disregarded people. We'll link you to that song below. It's a song which is full of feeling, and full of instruction, about the way such disregard works.)

Europe's Jewish population was subject to one of human history's greatest crimes. There are very few comparable events in known history.

That said, is it possible that the Palestinian population of Gaza can be seen as a "disregarded people" today? We've often thought of Guthrie's song as we've watched some of the conversations about the terrible chains of events afflicting Israelis and Palestinians over the past two months.

Are the Gaza Palestinians a "disregarded people?" Consider some of what has been said about These American College Students Today—about the fact that many younger people are more inclined than their elders to hold "pro-Palestinian" viewpoints.

All the way back on November 11, the New York Times published a generally thoughtful, front-page report about the views and conceptual frameworks of those college students. Online, the dual headlines say this:

After Antisemitic Attacks, Colleges Debate What Kind of Speech Is Out of Bounds
Pro-Palestinian students say that they are speaking up for an oppressed people, but critics say that their rhetoric is deeply offensive.

At what point does "pro-Palestinian" speech become offensive, even antisemitic? On the whole, Hartocollis and Sail did a decent job exploring such questions—but we thought an unnecessary bit of incomprehension was floating around in this passage:

HARTOCOLLIS AND SAUL (11/11/23): “We stand staunchly against all forms of racism and bigotry,” said Anna Babboni, a senior at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., and one of the leaders of the local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Ms. Babboni said her group is not antisemitic, but it is anti-Zionist. “We are fighting against a root cause, which is white supremacy, and trying to build a world which is beyond Zionism, beyond racism, beyond white supremacy,” she said. 

Pro-Palestinian students like Ms. Babboni see their movement as connected to others that have stood up for an oppressed people. And they have adopted a potent vocabulary, rooted in the hothouse jargon of academia, that grafts the history of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples onto the more familiar terms of social justice movements at home.

Referencing resistance movements, the pro-Palestinian cause is “anticolonial.” Echoing the struggle against institutionalized racism in South Africa, Israel is an “apartheid regime.” Resonating with the concern for Native American land rights, the Palestinians are “Indigenous peoples.” Gaza is a form of mass incarceration, “Israel’s open-air prison.”

Each and every term is contested by pro-Israel students and activists.

According to Hartocollis and Saul, some pro-Palestinian students see the events in question through the framework of present-day "social justice movements."

As such, they may engage in "the hothouse jargon" of present-day academia. Stating the obvious, a bit of prejudgment seemed to be lurking in the writers' use of that term.

Does the framework being described provide a helpful way to view the ongoing situation? That's a matter of judgment—but for ourselves, we were struck by the way Hartocollis and Saul folded in the use of the term, "open-air prison."

The reporters almost seemed to be puzzled by the students' use of that term. In fact, that unflattering term has been widely used down through the years, for fairly obvious reasons.

The term had been used by many people long before These Students Today came along. It seems to us that this Times report should perhaps have cited that fact.

Is the term in question useful? That's a matter of judgment. But the term has been around a good long while—and it helps explain why some of These Students Today might regard the Palestinians of Gaza as "a disregarded people."

Are the Palestinian people of Gaza living in an "open-air prison?" You can judge the fairness of that unflattering claim for yourself. But here's a brief history of the use of that term—a brief history which was published all the way back in the summer of 2015:

Gaza as an Open-Air Prison

In February, the well-known British street artist Banksy went to the Gaza Strip to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians in the aftermath of the devastating Israeli assault the previous summer. With regard to the murals he painted around the Strip, he wrote: “Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open-air prison’ because no one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons—they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.” This comment, a new iteration in a long history of describing Gaza as a place of confinement, is meant to point out the continuous degradation of living conditions in this sliver of land cut off from the rest of Palestine and the world.


Observers have been regularly describing Gaza as an open-air prison at least since the late 1990s. The term has been used by activists in the Palestinians’ corner (such as Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader), by not-so-sympathetic officials (such as former World Bank head James Wolfensohn), by humanitarian and human rights organizations (such as Médecins Sans Frontières and B’Tselem), by reporters writing for a range of outlets and, perhaps most importantly, by Palestinians themselves. The twists offered by Banksy and the unnamed Israeli analyst suggest that conditions have become so dire that this language may now be inadequate to describe the state of affairs.

What does the term “open-air prison” connote? Perhaps the first referent for the term is the control over Palestinian movement that has been a central part of Israeli occupation practice. These restrictions are what Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams pointed to when he said in 2009 that “this is a total denial of the rights of the people of Palestine. This is an open-air prison…. People can’t travel out of here; they can’t travel in.” And it is not only advocates for Palestinian rights who have noted this control. In the midst of the 2014 attack, the New York Times reported that “the vast majority of Gazans cannot leave Gaza…. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain in 2010 called Gaza ‘an open-air prison,’ drawing criticism from Israel. But in reality, the vast majority of Gazans are effectively trapped.” Gazans suffer from their inability to move in and out of the Strip. Even Israeli officials might concede this point, though they would disagree about who is responsible.

Noam Chomsky had used the term. So had Ralph Nader, as had the former head of the World Bank.

Doctors Without Borders had used the term—and so had Prime Minister Cameron. The comparison isn't meant to be flattering, but the reasons for the comparison are fairly easy to state. 

Should Gaza be seen as an "open-air prison?" That is a matter of judgment. But in the summer of 2022, Human Rights Watch offered this retrospective on the conditions which were involved in the long-standing use of that term:

Gaza: Israel’s ‘Open-Air Prison’ at 15

Israel’s sweeping restrictions on leaving Gaza deprive its more than two million residents of opportunities to better their lives, Human Rights Watch said today on the fifteenth anniversary of the 2007 closure. The closure has devastated the economy in Gaza, contributed to fragmentation of the Palestinian people, and forms part of Israeli authorities’ crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against millions of Palestinians.

Israel’s closure policy blocks most Gaza residents from going to the West Bank, preventing professionals, artists, athletes, students, and others from pursuing opportunities within Palestine and from traveling abroad via Israel, restricting their rights to work and an education. Restrictive Egyptian policies at its Rafah crossing with Gaza, including unnecessary delays and mistreatment of travelers, have exacerbated the closure’s harm to human rights.

“Israel, with Egypt’s help, has turned Gaza into an open-air prison,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “As many people around the world are once again traveling two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gaza’s more than two million Palestinians remain under what amounts to a 15-year-old lockdown.”

You may, or you may not, regard that as fair and balanced. But the use of that unflattering term wasn't invented by These College Students Today. It seemed to us that the largely instructive New York Times report should have tried to avoid the suggestion that these crazy college kids had somehow come up with a puzzling, jargony term.

For the record, a very important point is lodged in the first report we've posted. That very important point goes exactly like this:

Gazans suffer from their inability to move in and out of the Strip. Even Israeli officials might concede this point, though they would disagree about who is responsible.

Should Israel be held responsible for the remarkable conditions which gave rise to that unflattering term?

That's a matter of judgment! But Gazans live under a remarkable set of restrictions, and these restrictions have helped condemn this group of people to one of the highest poverty rates in the world.

In the aftermath of October 7, we saw few references to such facts in various angry conversations on such programs as Morning Joe and Deadline: White House. High level blue tribe pundits often seemed to be thoroughly puzzled by the incomprehensible outlooks and views of These College Students Today.

Why in the world would These College Kids present themselves as "pro-Palestinian?" Why would they express sympathy for the Palestinian people?

Angry pundits seemed to have no idea. They seemed to have little interest in finding out. In our view, they seemed to be locked in a type of incomprehension regarding the various human tragedies being enacted here.

That doesn't mean that these pundits are bad people. It may simply mean that they're people people. 

It's very easy for us humans to lock ourselves into some familiar limited viewpoint about some situation. Along the way, it's very easy for us to create another disregarded people.

For the record, some of Those College Kids Today may even be antisemitic. Quite surely, many others are not.

Some of those students probably have extremely limited judgment. (Some are just 19 years old!) But so do many of our major mainstream pundits, a fact they've established, down through the years, again and again and again. 

None of us have perfect judgment, but a great deal of American discourse slides past the circumstances of the people living in Gaza. In that sense, Gaza's Palestinians strike us as a "disregarded people," along with many other populations around the world. 

(Lip service may be paid to their circumstances. But at that point, the conversation quickly moves on.)

The Guthrie song to which we've referred is called Deportee. More fully, the title of the song is Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos), or simply Plane Wreck at Los Gatos.

The leading authority on the song traces its history here. It isn't clear that Guthrie understood the actual circumstances of the event which led him to write the song, though it may be that he actually did.

The Guthrie song isn't history; the song is human feeling. It deals with the deaths of some migrant farm workers who were part of a disregarded people. Its final verse asks this:

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?

To die like the dry leaves 
That rot on my topsoil
And be known by no name except "deportee?"

We'll link you to a performance of the song below.

Back in October, Barack Obama said the situation in Gaza was "unbearable." You can see a writer from the Norwegian Refugee Council use the same term here, way back in 2018:

Gaza: The world’s largest open-air prison

More than 50 years of occupation and 10 years of blockade have made the lives of 1.9 million Palestinians living inside the Gaza Strip unbearable. That is why they now are protesting and risking their lives.

Palestinian children and youth grow up in a society characterised by fear, lack of security, hopelessness and the lack of work, medical services, food, freedom of movement and other essentials. Today many refer to the Gaza Strip as the world’s largest open-air prison...

None of us have done enough, Obama said in his statement. On behalf of Israelis and Gazans alike, we're prepared to suggest that his assessment was accurate.

In our view, pundits on our blue tribe's channel weren't doing nearly enough as they battered These College Kids Today—the inscrutable kids who were expressing those puzzling "pro-Palestinian" viewpoints.

Almost surely, some of those students have very limited judgment. At the same time, they may be aware of certain things their elders may tend to ignore, or may perhaps never have known. 

The adult pundits seemed uncomprehending concerning the views of these students. Sometimes, teaching our children and parents well can run in more than one direction.

In closing, this:

It's very easy to create "disregarded peoples." It's been done all through the course of human history. In the course of simplifying a terrible situation, do our pundits help do it today?

Meanwhile, "Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?" 

That's the question Guthrie asked in one of his last great songs. We'll ask his question a different way:

Is this the best way we can frame our discussions? In our view, the conversations were uncomprehending on MSNBC, even worse over on Fox.

Song sung blue, Rolling Thunder style: To see Guthrie's song performed in the spring of '76, you can just click here

For us, the performance is full of feeling. For the full lyrics, click this.