Clapper turns to the nuclear codes!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2017

With a bang, not with a whimper:
Early this morning, on CNN, James Clapper finally went there.

He said it during the midnight hour. He spoke with Don Lemon in a special broadcast following Donald J. Trump's latest trademark rant.

Clapper is a former director of National Intelligence. He held that post through January of this year.

For better or worse—we're inclined to assume for worse—Clapper has recently become a "CNN contributor." But when he appeared with Lemon last night, he questioned the president's "fitness" in this, their first exchange:
LEMON (8/23/17): I want to bring in now CNN national security analyst James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence. Mr. Clapper, thank you so much for joining us. What did you think of tonight's performance by President Trump?

CLAPPER: Well, Don, it's hard to know where to start. It is just so objectionable on so many levels. You know, I toiled in one capacity or another for every president since and including John F. Kennedy through President Obama. And I don't know when I've listened and watched something like this from a president that I found more disturbing.

Having some understanding of the levers of power that are available to a president if he chooses to exercise them, I found this downright scary and disturbing....

It is interesting to contrast last night's teleprompter Trump performance versus tonight which is, of course, the real Trump, just as it was in the unglued impromptu press conference at Trump Tower. So I just find this extremely disturbing.

LEMON: Are you questioning his fitness?

CLAPPER: Yes, I do. I really question his ability to—his fitness to be in this office. And I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it. Maybe he is looking for a way out.
Lemon tiptoed around a bit, using the fuzzy term "fitness." Clapper said he did question Trump's fitness, although the term remained undefined.

He said he found Trump "downright scary" and "extremely disturbing." More on that below. To watch the full discussion, click here.

Clapper made a reference to the "levers of power" open to Trump. Before we show him expanding on that, let's consider his throw-away remark about the possibility that Donald J. Trump might be "looking for a way out."

We find it hard to believe that Trump is planning to quit. As long as he remains in office, he theoretically has the power to impede Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation.

It's hard to believe he'd surrender that power. Everything's possible, of course.

Regarding the more potent matter here, what did Director Clapper mean when he mentioned those "levers of power?" Later, as Lemon poked and prodded, he finally spelled it out:
LEMON: You said you questioned his fitness. Is he a threat to national security, the president?

CLAPPER: Well, he certainly could be. Again, having some understanding of the levers that a president can exercise, I worry about, frankly, you know, the access to nuclear codes. In a fit of pique, he decides to do something about Kim Jong-Un, there's actually very little to stop him.

The whole system's built to insure rapid response if necessary. So there's very little in the way of controls over, you know, exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.
Director Clapper is afraid that Donald J. Trump, in a fit of pique, might employ those nuclear codes. He basically said there's no fail-safe. Lemon's response was priceless:

"Do you see this as a crisis, Mr. Clapper?"

We've been mentioning this point of concern for quite some time. Now that Clapper had said it, CNN's ship of fools was freed up to stage a discussion. Lemon turned to David Chalian to discuss what Clapper had said:
LEMON: The former director of national intelligence James Clapper, we just had on, dire words, saying he is concerned about his fitness for office. He does not believe he's fit for office. Concerned that such a person, who exhibits that behavior has access to the nuclear codes and is, you know, possibly going to have some sort of retaliation against Kim Jong-Un.

CHALIAN: It's one thing when we hear politicians you know—Democrats obviously have a lot of knee-jerk opposition to the President. We've seen more and more Republicans coming out politically and making arguments of and comments of concern against the President.

If that doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand up when the former Director of National Intelligence is saying that his assessment of the President of the United States is one of concern because of his access to the nuclear codes and how his behavior matched with that responsibility, raises concern in him, I sort of stood back listening, and I know—

LEMON: I looked at you.

CHALIAN: —that Director Clapper has, you know, been making comments in opposition to the President or concern. But when in the totality he took what we witnessed tonight as part of the pattern of behavior we've seen from the President and put it into the context that really Clapper understands better than anyone about what that power is, the nuclear codes, what that means and how quickly a president can move on that, that's an alarm bell that is going to be heard by many people in Washington. That is not just going to be dismissed as some punditry on cable news which can be easily dismissed.
Lemon and Chalian looked at each other as Clapper spoke. This wasn't some knee-jerk thing from the Democrats. This wasn't going to be dismissed as mere cable punditry!

Trump's apparent mental/emotional disorder has seemed highly dangerous to us for a good long time. Cable stars have had to be dragged to such obvious points of concern.

Having said that, let's close with this:

We find it hard to believe that Donald J. Trump might "be looking for a way out" by way of resignation. Sometimes, though, highly disordered, disturbed people commit acts of murder/suicide.

How disordered is Donald J. Trump? Could he ever imagine the most devastating "way out" of all?

Meanwhile, how about Yawkey Way? Should its name be changed?

ANTHILLS DOWN: Front-page headline mocks Those People!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2017

Part 2—The New York Times does it again:
Last night, American president Donald J. Trump staged one of his trademark rants.

On the front page of today's late editions, news reports describe the rant in the Washington Post and the New York Times. It's amazing to see how poorly reporters were able to describe the problems with the president's rant. Basic skills are remarkably few at these famous newspapers.

That said:

When wayward boys kick anthills down, ants tend to descend into turmoil. In the wake of Charlottesville, we're seeing that kind of turmoil among us, the rational animals.

Our journalists' lack of basic skill only makes matters worse. Consider what happened on the front page of Sunday morning's New York Times, the week's most important edition.

Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! Above the fold on the front page of Sunday morning's hard-copy Times, a mocking headline rolled its eyes at Those People, the ridiculous, dumbkopf Trump voters.

Below, you see what that front-page headline said. Also, we list the headlines which appeared on page A17, where the lengthy news report was continued:
Front-page headline:
"Trump's Tumultuous Week? To Supporters, It Went Well"

Headline on page A17:

"A Bad Week for Trump? To His Core Supporters, Things Went Just Fine"

Boxed sub-headline on A17:
"In tribal America, hardening views of a president's actions"
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Times subscribers got to enjoy the mockery aimed at Those People:

Trump had had a very tough week, but the dumbkopfs thought it went well! "Things went just fine," the dumbkopfs said, speaking dumbly from their posts inside "tribal America."

Anyone with an ounce of sense could see the mockery in those New York Times headlines. Unfortunately, the headlines butchered the contents of the front-page report they pretended to describe.

Those headlines sat atop an analysis piece by Sabrina Tavernise, an experienced Times reporter who isn't crazy, dumb, stupid, inane or even twenty years old.

Born in 1971, Tavernise graduated from Barnard in 1993. She had written a sensible, if imperfect, analysis piece, in which she quoted six "core supporters" of Trump, one of whom didn't seem to be a supporter of Trump at all.

None of the six said that things had "gone well," or had been "just fine," during the tumultuous week after Charlottesville. No one said anything dimly like that, until some editor at the Times composed those bullshit headlines.

(Please note: On line, the headlines have been cleaned up. We're discussing the headlines which appeared in Sunday's hard-copy Times.)

Alas! When Trump supporters see work like this, they may understand what they're seeing. In this case, they had two possible choices:

Those headlines may have been written by an editor who wanted to mock Those People, the dumbkopfs who voted for Trump.

It's also possible that those headlines were written by an editor who doesn't know how to paraphrase—whose basic skills are so weak that he or she believed those headlines actually captured what the dumbkopfs had said.

In fact, those mocking headlines didn't capture what the Trump supporters had said. Assuming good faith on the part of the Times, the dumbkopf here would have to be the editor him- or herself.

What did the Trump supporters say? For starters, let's call the roll of the people to whom Tavernise spoke.

Tavernise quoted six Trump supporters or semi-supporters. We list the personae here:
Dramatis personae! Dumbkopfs Tavernise quoted:

Parson Hicks, 35, "a health care finance executive [in Boston] who supports President Trump"

Larry Laughlin, "a retired businessman from a Minneapolis suburb"

Gregory Kline, 46, "a lawyer in Severna Park, Md.," who "said he did not vote for Mr. Trump"

Michael Dye, "a 52-year-old engineer who is the treasurer for the Republican Party in Annapolis, Md....who said he voted reluctantly for Mr. Trump"

John McIntosh, 76, "who lives in New Bern, N.C., and voted for Mr. Trump"

Debra Skoog, "a retired executive in Minneapolis and a lifelong Democrat who voted for Mr. Trump"
Those are the people Tavernise quoted. None of them said anything like what those headlines reported.

None of them said that things "went well" during Trump's tumultuous week. None of them said that "things went just fine" during that bad week for Trump.

You can read the Tavernise report to see what these six people actually said. But it's time to make an unpleasant, if obvious, statement:

If you can't tell that these people didn't say what the headlines reported, you're part of our national problem. If you can't see that those headlines are bogus, our very real problem with "tribal America" does rest, in part, on your head.

What did those six people actually say? To the extent that they were quoted, the six people said different things. Hicks, the 35-year-old black businesswoman, was quoted at the greatest length and her photograph appeared. Here's the bulk of what she was quoted saying:
TAVERNISE (8/20/17): Moral outrage at Mr. Trump’s response to Charlottesville continues to glow white hot, but it has a largely partisan tinge.

From Ms. Hicks’s perspective, the president simply pointed out a fact: Leftists bore some responsibility for the violence, too. Of course, Nazis and white supremacists are bad, she said. But she does not believe Mr. Trump has any affinity for them. He said so himself. But she is exasperated that a significant part of the country seems to think otherwise. The week’s frenzied headlines read to her like bulletins from another planet.

“I feel like I am in a bizarro universe where no one but me is thinking logically,” she said. “We have gone so off the rails of what this conversation is about.”

Ms. Hicks, who is black and grew up in Charlotte, N.C., welcomes the public soul-searching on the meaning of Confederate monuments. She believes that the statues were erected to intimidate black people and that they should be taken down. But instead of focusing on that, she sees opponents of Mr. Trump focusing on Mr. Trump.

“This is not about me as a black person, and my history,” she said. “This is about this president and wanting to take him down because you don’t like him.”

Mr. Bannon’s departure was more noise that didn’t mean much, she said. “The show is going to go on.”
It's always dangerous to think that no one is "thinking logically" except you. Aside from that, there's nothing crazy, or crazily "tribal," about that assessment by Hicks.

Indeed, that paraphrased reference to "frenzied headlines" seems especially apt when we see the headlines some editor dropped upon this above-the-fold front-page report.

According to Tavernise, Hicks "does not believe Mr. Trump has any affinity for" Nazis and white supremacists. If we were asked for our own assessment, we would express less certainty.

That said, it's true that the embattled Trump "said so himself"—explicitly said that he has no affinity for such ridiculous people. And it's true that the nation's headlines may sometimes "read like bulletins from another planet." The headlines atop the Tavernise piece provide a good example.

What did the other dumbkopfs say? Here's what Kline was quoted saying:
TAVERNISE: Gregory Kline, 46, a lawyer in Severna Park, Md., who is a Republican, said he did not vote for Mr. Trump but understands that part of the president’s support comes from fury at the left, particularly the media. When there is an attack by Muslim terrorists, for example, the media reaches for pundits who say most Muslims are good. But when it is a white supremacist, “every conservative is lumped in with him,” he said.

“It’s not that people are deaf and dumb and don’t see it,” he said of Mr. Trump’s sometimes erratic behavior. “It’s that they don’t care. I’ve heard rational people I really respect make the craziest apologies for this president because they are sick of getting beat on and they are happy he’s fighting back.”
Kline says he didn't vote for Trump. That said, his comments about the media aren't crazy. We'd call them perfectly fair.

Conservatives do see themselves stereotyped and ridiculed in the upper-end, low-IQ press corps. Quite sensibly, many will see themselves treated that way in the headlines which topped this front-page Sunday report.

Tavernise cannot be blamed for the headlines atop her report. The blame for those mocking headlines rests with some unnamed editor who may simple lack the skills which produce sensible paraphrase.

(For twenty months, the coverage of Campaign 2000 was built on heinous paraphrase. Our upper-end, elite reporters have long shown little ability with this basic skill. We dumbkopfs in the liberal rank-and-file have always accepted this conduct.)

Tavernise can't be blamed for those headlines. That said, we don't think her report is perfect. When she refers to "an increasingly tribal America," she may perhaps seem to suggest that the tribalism is all found Over There, on the Trump supporters' side. And when she finally quotes a professor, here's what the brainiac says:
TAVERNISE: Yascha Mounk, a political scientist at Harvard University who writes about democracy, said partisanship in the United States today is dangerously deep.

“It’s now at a stage where a lot of Americans have such a loyalty to their political tribe that they are willing to go along with deeply undemocratic behavior,” he said.
“If their guy says, ‘I think we should push back the election for a few years because of a possible terrorist attack,’ I fear that a significant part of the population would go along with it.”
It's perfectly clear that Professor Mounck is warning us about the tribal partisanship Over There. It's the rare day when the New York Times quotes a professor citing the tribal behavior widely found within our own self-impressed tents.

When wanton youth kick anthills down, the ants are gripped by turmoil. As in the stories of Homer of old, Chaos reigns. In time, the ants rebuild.

The disordered tirades of Donald J. Trump have helped create a great deal of turmoil within our national discourse, which was already pathetic. In the wake of Charlottesville, chaos invaded the suburbs of our reliably inept and tribal discussions.

Different people had different thoughts about Donald J. Trump's various remarks in the wake of those events. And sure enough:

On the front page of Sunday's New York Times, a nameless editor—yay yay yay!—helped Us mock Them Over There.

No one quoted by Tavernise said what those headlines alleged. On the brighter side, the headlines let Us enjoy some good solid fun as we made our contribution to the tribal chaos.

In the wake of Charlottesville, we ants are running all about. Our own glorious liberal tents are full of these unhelpful creatures.

Tomorrow: A noxious confession leads to—what else?—ridiculous liberal cheers

What we read on our summer vacation!

TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

Mika Brzezinski's three books:
We've now read, and reread, Mika Brzezinski's first three memoirs:
All Things At Once (2009)

Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth (2011)

Obsessed: America's Food Addiction—and My Own (2013)
These are fascinating books, and we don't necessarily mean that as a compliment. They raise many, many questions about the nature of our upper-end, mainstream celebrity press corps.

We expect to discuss them at length. If we might borrow from Don Corleone, "How did it get this far?"

David Brooks makes some decent points!

TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

On the same page, Meacham wanders:
In our view, David Brooks makes some good points this morning.

He listed eight ideas which "moderates tend to embrace." In our view, the first such idea may well be the best, especially in a giant, continental nation with an array of cultures and regional outlooks:
BROOKS (8/22/17): The truth is plural. There is no one and correct answer to the big political questions. Instead, politics is usually a tension between two or more views, each of which possesses a piece of the truth. ... Politics is a dynamic unfolding, not a debate that can ever be settled once and for all.
As a general matter, we agree with that. We'll return to this idea below.

We may not really agree with at least one of Brooks' ideas. Is this idea actually true?

"In politics, the lows are lower than the highs are high."

According to Brooks, government can blunder horribly, for example by creating wars and depressions. That's true, of course, but government can also create a program like Social Security. How much suffering has that program wiped away over the years?

Here's another of Brooks' ideas with which we would tend to agree. Below, though, we'll offer a comment:
BROOKS: Truth before justice. All political movements must face inconvenient facts—thoughts and data that seem to aid their foes. If you try to suppress those facts, by banning a speaker or firing an employee, then you are putting the goals of your cause, no matter how noble, above the search for truth. This is the path to fanaticism, and it always backfires in the end.
This idea is fairly close to the first idea we praised. If you agree that "the truth is plural," you're likely to be attracted to the idea that facts shouldn't be disappeared in service to partisan ends.

That said, we'll offer a comment. When Brooks imagines suppression of facts, he thinks about such conduct as "banning a speaker or firing an employee."

We think of such conduct as maintaining an industry-wide code of silence, the way Brooks and his press corps colleagues have done for these many long years. No one suppresses facts any more than the mainstream press does!

One more suggestion. In listing the world's best ideas, Brooks probably shouldn't use words no one understands, as he does in one example. "Creativity is syncretistic?" Nobody knows what that means!

We're going to close with a thought about a second column from today's New York Times. It was written by Jon Meacham. It's the immediate neighbor of Brooks' column to the left, or the west.

Meacham is trying to tell us what we should think about those Confederate statues. More specifically, he's trying to explain why it's a good idea to dump those statues of Robert E. Lee while leaving George Washington up. In this way, he's contradicting some of the things Donald J. Trump has said.

Should we dump Lee but leave Washington up? That seems to be Meacham's (highly conventional) view. That said, does everyone have to agree with that view? At several points, we wondered if the sage of Tennessee knows that truth is plural:
MEACHAM (8/22/17): To me, the answer to Mr. Trump’s question begins with a straightforward test: Was the person to whom a monument is erected on public property devoted to the American experiment in liberty and self-government? Washington and Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were. Each owned slaves; each was largely a creature of his time and place on matters of race. Yet each also believed in the transcendent significance of the nation, and each was committed to the journey toward “a more perfect Union.”

By definition, the Confederate hierarchy fails that test.
Those who took up arms against the Union were explicitly attempting to stop the American odyssey...
Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! The argument works out the way we liberals like, with General Lee crashing down and Donald J. Trump badly wrong.

To us, the problem with that passage lurks in the word "straightforward." The word was selected to make it sound like Meacham's position is hard to assail.

Is it, though? For example, is it really so obvious that Washington and Jefferson were "devoted to the American experiment in liberty and self-government?"

Is it obvious that this is true in a way that's so "straightforward" that everyone has to agree? So obvious that no one could sensibly think that they too should come crashing down?

We're going to say it isn't! We're also going to challenge Meacham's softened charge of treason against Lee. (Lee was "explicitly attempting to stop the American odyssey.")

Ever since Donald J. Trump shot off his mouth last week, we liberals have been reveling in the charge of treason against Lee and them. We think that's childish, silly, unwise. Try a thought experiment:

Suppose the northern states had housed the slave empire, and the southern states had not. Suppose that the southern states had declared secession as a matter of protest against this obvious evil.

That isn't what happened, of course. But try to imagine what our noble tribe would think if it had.

Would we liberals be condemning those southerners as traitors? Or would be be praising them for their attempt to separate themselves from an evil institution?

Our point is simple. The problem with the southern states is the fact that they sought to defend an indefensible system. (That isn't the fault of anyone living today.) In another situation, we might praise the greatness of a group of states which sought to withdraw from an evil union.

That isn't what happened, of course. But aren't we defining secession as treason mainly because we dislike what secession was for?

Ever since Donald J. Trump mouthed off last week, it seems to us that the liberal world has been reshaping arguments to ensure that his statements will all turn out to have been crazily wrong. Of a sudden, we're all riled up about Lee's "treason." Meanwhile, Washington remains a great man devoted to our ideals, despite the horrible way he hunted down his runaway enslaved persons.

All the analysts love Meacham's sense of humor. But as we read his column today, it seemed to us that he was violating some of Brook's more sensible ideas.

He didn't seem to be working real hard to remind himself that "truth is plural." It seemed to us that he may have been violating another of Brooks ideas, the one about partisan fury:
BROOKS: Partisanship is necessary but blinding. Partisan debate sharpens opinion, but partisans tend to justify their own sins by pointing to the other side’s sins. Moderates are problematic members of their party. They tend to be hard on their peers and sympathetic to their foes.
"Partisanship is blinding?" Surely, we all understand that concept by now.

In recent weeks, have we liberals been spinning Washington up so we can spin Donald Trump down? Suddenly, Washington is morally great. Are we saying that because Donald J. Trump said something we want to knock down?

One final point: At one point, Meacham praises Lee. It almost sounds like Robert E. Lee would have chosen to tear himself down:
MEACHAM: While we should judge each individual on the totality of their lives (defenders of Lee, for instance, point to his attempts to be a figure of reconciliation after the war), the forces of hate and of exclusion long ago made Confederate imagery their own. Monuments in public places of veneration to those who believed it their duty to fight the Union have no place in the Union of the 21st century—a view with which Lee himself might have agreed. “I think it wiser,” he wrote in 1866, “not to keep open the sores of war.”
“I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war?" We often think that we fiery liberals might sensibly ponder such words now and then. As is true with us "humans" all over the earth, we tend to like to loathe.

ANTHILLS DOWN: Creatures like us!

TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

Part 1—"How America lost its mind":
Over the weekend, we marveled at many things we read in the New York Times.

More precisely, we marveled at the way we rational animals were reacting to Charlottesville. Why not start with a pair of reports from page D1, the first page of the stand-alone, hard-copy section called Saturday Sports?

Not to pull rank, but, if memory serves, we were present in Fenway Park when Pumpsie Green hit his triple in July 1959.

We say "if memory serves" because history records that the game in question was the first in a Tuesday twi-night doubleheader.

We don't know why, at age 11, we would have been in the yard that night. But we've always thought that we could recall what happened when Green made his first Fenway appearance:

We still think we can see the towering fly ball he hit off the left field wall. If memory serves it barely scarped the Green Monster as it descended to earth, 340 feet from home plate—a can-of-corn, fly ball to left in any other major league park.

In Fenway, the pop fly scraped the left field wall; it had been hit so high that Green ended up with a triple. It was Green's first game in Fenway Park as the Red Sox finally fielded their first "black" player. (Earl Wilson came up one week later.)

The triple we think we can recall is recorded in the official box score. On Saturday morning, the New York Times recalled that game in two lengthy pieces, a sprawling "news report" reaction to what happened in Charlottesville.

Question: Should the city of Boston change the name of Yawkey Way, the two-block-long street "which borders Fenway Park along the third-base side and gives the place its mailing address?" On Saturday morning, the Times devoted two lengthy pieces to this general question in a sprawling display which ate the top two-thirds of page D1 and all of page D2.

Green was mentioned in both pieces; his triple went unremembered. And yes, in fairness, there was an actual "news hook" for this absurd display.

That said, the notion that this is a major question, even within the realm of sports reporting, helps show how we creatures tend to react when anthills get kicked down:

We ants begin racing in all directions. Intellectual chaos will reign. No distraction, no matter how inane, will be left behind.

If you care about racial justice—if you care about the black kids being born today—should you care about the name of Yawkey Way? If your IQ is 11, then yes, you should! And we were present that day, and thrilled, when Pumpsie Green hit his triple!

When our anthills get kicked down, we ants start to scurry about. Eventually, ants rebuild their homes. At first, though, it's nothing but turmoil and chaos.

That's how it's been in the New York Times as we, the rational animals, have reacted to Charlottesville. During the rest of the week, we'll explore some of the work in the Times. For today, though, let's start with the silly Kurt Andersen.

Yesterday, we enjoyed the partial eclipse from an exclusive southbound train proceeding along the Hudson. As we rumbled along in air-conditioned splendor, we fell upon the cover report in this month's Atlantic. It was written by Kurt Andersen, who has always fascinated us as one of New York cafe society's totally empty suits.

The headline on the Atlantic's hard-copy cover wasn't encouraging: "How America Went Haywire," it shouted.

Quick guess! When a flyweight like Andersen says that "America" has gone haywire, he means that others have done so, not him.

Apparently, Andersen has an entire bookful of this dreck about to appear. That said, the analysts were already screaming after they read the first two paragraphs in his endless essay in the Atlantic, a major American journal.

Why does our discourse lie in ruins, as it so plainly does? Among other explanations, try to believe that a Gotham "thought leader" actually wrote what's shown below, then got it published in The Atlantic. Headline included:
ANDERSEN (9/17): How America Lost Its Mind

When did America become untethered from reality?

I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community.
People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality...That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness....

Whoa, yes, I thought: exactly.
How monstrous a flyweight is Andersen? Let's get clear about what he says in that sad opening passage.

Sad! According to Andersen, America has become "untethered from reality." In fairness, he doesn't spell the nation's name with a "k" at any point in his endless report. On the other hand, he lets us know when he, a Manhattan-certified thought leader, first noticed this problem, which of course is quite real.

Good God! According to Andersen, he first noticed the problem in 2004, as did every liberal with cable TV or an Internet hookup. His first encounter with this problem came with that statement by Karl Rove, a statement bruited far and wide at that point in time.

After that, he may have noticed the problem even more because of Stephen Colbert. What a thing to admit!

How dumb does a person have to be to put this into print? How dumb does he have to think Atlantic subscribers are?

The person has to be very dumb. In explaining why we say that, let's discuss some events which occurred before the year 2004.

Way back in October 1994, Gene Lyons published a piece in Harper's, a famous New York-based journal.

Andersen has almost surely heard of Harper's. Lyons' piece appeared beneath this title:
Fool for Scandal: How the Times got Whitewater wrong
You can read the Lyons essay here. The next year, the essay was converted into a book by "Gene Lyons and the editors of Harpers." That book, which was published by Harper's, carried this title:
Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater
If Andersen is a sentient being and not a cyborg, he must have had some passing contact with these publishing events. Lyons' book described the way a giant pseudo-scandal—a pseudo-scandal which gave its name to an era—had been "invented" by the media, by which he meant the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Ten years later, Andersen, ear to the ground, began getting the sense that something was going wrong. He began to get the sense that "America" was involved in a "lurch toward fantasy."

The Lyons book appeared in 1995. For reasons we'll mention below, hacks like Andersen knew they mustn't discuss what it said.

In large part thanks to their silence, a second major event occurred. We refer to the twenty months, starting in March 1999, in which the Washington Post and the New York Times staged a lunatic "War Against Gore," a war which sent Bush to the White House.

Feelers to the ground, Andersen still sensed nothing wrong. As the mainstream press corps kept inventing crazy misstatements by Candidate Gore, Andersen was able to spot no possible "lurch toward fantasy" in the air.

His antennae only perked up in 2004, when everyone with cable TV or the Internet heard about that comment by Rove. In short, Andersen "first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy" at the exact same time that everyone else did. Rather, at the time when it became Completely Standard and Acceptable to notice this alleged lurch.

A nation whose thought leaders are this dumb, or perhaps this dishonest, is headed toward disaster. Andersen's endless Atlantic piece is basically unreadable. But in that opening passage, he tells us that he catches on to troubling trends At The Exact Same Time Everyone Else Does.

With intellectual leaders like that, we have no hope of escaping the downward spiral being caused by the rise of major news orgs devoted to dissembling and misinformation. Andersen prefers to splash around in the sex-drenched 1960s seeking the source of our current problem.

Andersen's opening passage is sad. It also speaks to an industry-wide code of silence.

How does that code of silence work? Consider this later passage, in which Andersen dumbly cops to something he probably shouldn't have mentioned:
ANDERSEN: When [Trump] entered political show business, after threatening to do so for most of his adult life, the character he created was unprecedented—presidential candidate as insult comic with an artificial tan and ridiculous hair, shamelessly unreal and whipped into shape as if by a p√Ętissier. He used the new and remade pieces of the fantasy-industrial complex as nobody had before. He hired actors to play enthusiastic supporters at his campaign kickoff. Twitter became his unmediated personal channel for entertaining outrage and untruth. And he was a star, so news shows wanted him on the air as much as possible—people at TV outlets told me during the campaign that they were expected to be careful not to make the candidate so unhappy that he might not return.
Say what? During the 2016 campaign, "people at TV outlets" told this cosmic buffoon "that they were expected to be careful not to make [Candidate Trump] so unhappy that he might not return" to their programs?

Question! Which people, at which TV outlets, told this thought leader that? In what context was this said?

We ask for an obvious reason. What Andersen seems to be reporting here would seem to constitute major news! During the campaign in question, many people speculated that this transaction was in play as the candidate, Donald J. Trump, received repeated kid-glove treatment from major interviewers.

If Andersen was specifically told that this practice was in effect, he should have reported it instantly. That's especially true if he was told this in his role as an occasional cable news guest—on Morning Joe, for example.

Was Andersen told this as a way to encourage him to tone his comments down? There's no way of knowing, but it's typical of the code of silence that Andersen drops this bombshell much later, after the practice he describes has had it pernicious effect.

In that throw-way passage, you see the code of silence in action. You see the probable explanation for Andersen's silence about Fools for Scandal, and then about the War Against Gore.

According to the code of silence, one guild member doesn't blow the whistle on the others. Let's review the chronology here:

Andersen kept his trap shut all during the fantasy-based wars against both Clintons and Gore. In all likelihood, he kept his trap shut because those wars were being staged by the mainstream press corps, by his own miserable guild.

In 2004, he became aware of a lurch toward fantasy At The Same Time That Everyone Else Did. He's allowed to focus on that lurch because that lurch is being pinned on the right wing, not on the mainstream press corps.

The code of silence is deep and everlasting. Consider some nonsense which Kevin Drum, our one-time favorite blogger, posted just yesterday.

Good God! Maggie Haberman had offered a typically flyweight defense of the mainstream press corps' treatment of Candidate Clinton's emails. Drum noted how silly her statement was, then chose to play dumb himself:
DRUM (8/21/17): I wish reporters would honestly engage with this question. I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that the emails and the FBI investigation weren’t a story. Of course they were. The question is, were they this big a story?
Drum then presented some examples of massive over-coverage of the Clinton emails. He had already made the world's dumbest statement. But he continued like this:
DRUM: This question isn’t important because it’s worthwhile to relitigate 2016 forever, but because it matters for the future. The press got badly played on the Clinton Foundation story, which was almost completely baseless, and they got played only slightly less on the email story, which was kept alive by a calculated campaign to drip information to the press every week—mostly from sources that should have set alarm bells ringing instead.

Pointing out the failures of Hillary Clinton’s campaign is fine but nonresponsive. The question isn’t whether there were lots of things that decided the 2016 race—there were—or whether Clinton’s emails should have been covered at all—of course they should have been. The question is about editorial judgment in an era of widespread media manipulation. If we don’t want 2020 to be like 2016, political reporters should be willing to ask some hard questions about how and why Hillary Clinton’s emails got such massively outsized attention.
We've polled every one of the analysts. No one believes, not for a second, that Drum is really that dumb.

No one believes that Kevin Drum thinks the press "got badly played on the Clinton Foundation story [or] on the email story." Despite his silly wish, no one thinks that Drum believes that Haberman, or anyone else in the mainstream press, will ever "honestly engage with" the questions he raises.

How many times does it have to be said? For whatever reason, the mainstream press corps started a war against the Clintons in 1992.

Lyons described the start of that war in Fools for Scandal. In March 1999, the mainstream press extended that war to Clinton's chosen successor.

They revived and extended that long stupid war during Campaign 2016. And they are never going to "honestly engage" with the various things they have done in the course pf conducting that war.

Drum will jump off the Disneyland monorail before he'll state that obvious fact. The code of silence requires him to play dumb on these basic points, as he does in that post. More on that tomorrow.

Dumber than dumb is the ludicrous Andersen, New York's idea of an intellectual. Our tribe is hopeless, dumb, unseeing when it remains in such hands. Twenty-four years later, this monster dumbness within our own tribe has given us President Trump.

Back to Pumpsie Green! If memory serves, he tripled off the left field wall 58 Augusts ago. Last Saturday, the New York Times went all in on changing the name of that road.

Our team is very dumb. Our tribal leaders are even dumber, and they aren't obsessively honest. We'll run through such points all week.

When anthills are ruined, the startled ants run all about. They enter a state of turmoil.

In the wake of Charlottesville, that's what our various leaders are doing. Ants are creatures just like us, though we may be too dumb to survive.

Tomorrow: Live and direct from the Sunday Times, somebody's noxious confession

BREAKING: A time of turmoil and chaos!

MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2017

No distraction left behind:
In his latest display of 16-dimensional chess, Steve Bannon is claiming that he actually resigned from the White House last week.

Privately, Bannon is telling friends that he simply decided he wanted to spend less time around Donald Trump's family. Many others may feel the same longing in this time of turmoil and chaos.

With help from folk on many sides, Donald J. Trump has created an amazing amount of turmoil in the twenty-six months since he announced his run for the White House. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, this turmoil has basically come to define what's left of the national discourse.

At times of turmoil, we the people tend to start racing in many directions. Relatively unhelpful ideas are bruited across the land.

Our lack of competent leadership becomes painfully obvious. No distraction is left behind!

Today, we'll be returning to our sprawling campus from our current location in the impossibly chic Hudson Valley. Tomorrow, we'll start exploring this era of turmoil and chaos. Again and again, a voice instructs us to frame it as "Anthills Down."

Easy to be hard: In this morning's New York Times, Charles Blow offers these thoughts about Donald J. Trump. Headline included:
BLOW (8/21/17): Failing All Tests of the Presidency

We are leaderless. America doesn’t have a president. America has a man in the White House holding the spot, and wreaking havoc
as he waits for the day when a real president arrives to replace him.

Donald Trump is many things—most of them despicable—but the leader of a nation he is not. He is not a great man. Hell, he isn’t even a good man.

Donald Trump is a man of flawed character and a moral cavity. He cannot offer moral guidance because he has no moral compass. He is too small to see over his inflated ego.

Trump has personalized the presidency in unprecedented ways—making every battle and every war about his personal feelings. Did the person across the street or around the world say good or bad things about him? Does the media treat him fairly? Is someone in his coterie of corruption outshining him or casting negative light on him?

His interests center on the self; country be damned.
Personally, we don't think it's a great idea to try to determine which public figures are morally "despicable."

But alas! Setting Blow's moral declarations aside, it's amazingly easy to write that same passage about our American press corps, even about our professors. It might go something like this:
BLOW, REVISED: Failing All Tests of Intellectual Leadership

We are journalistically and intellectually leaderless. America doesn’t have a functioning press corps,
or even a helpful academy. America has people in newsrooms holding those spots, and wreaking havoc as they wait for the day when real journalists arrive to replace them...
That would be harsh, but it wouldn't exactly be wrong. Have you read all of Mika's books? The problems with our broken discourse extend well beyond Donald J. Trump.

We've entered a time of general turmoil and chaos. Tomorrow, we'll start exploring the era the savants now refer to as "Anthills Down."

Mika and Joe provide comic relief!

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2017

As we summer again:
We're off on a mission of national import, summering for the next few days at an impossibly chic, undisclosed location in the Hudson Valley.

But first, a bit of comic relief, live and direct from yesterday morning's Morning Joe.

(To watch what follows on videotape, you can just click here.)

At 6:13 Eastern, in the program's first segment, Mika read a report from prompter about Steve Bannon's latest escapade. The background:

Bannon had made a phone call to liberal icon Robert Kuttner. This followed Kuttner's piece for The American Prospect concerning North Korea.

Kuttner had battered Donald J. Trump pretty good. At the end of his piece, he wrote this:
KUTTNER (8/15/17): For all of his nuclear bluster, Trump may find that the price of avoiding a catastrophic war with North Korea is that the United States becomes even more of a client state of China. In the meantime, the risk of two arrogant fools blundering into a nuclear exchange is more serious than at any time since October 1962.
Oof. For whatever 16-dimensional reason, Bannon called Kuttner with words of praise, possibly failing to realize that his deathless remarks were on the record and were indeed being recorded.

Now it was Thursday morning. Joe and Mika were trying to explain what Bannon had done.

Their sidekick, Willie Haskell-Geist Jr., was even present this day. At 6:13, Mika began reading from prompter. This is what she said:
MIKA (8/17/17): Robert Kuttner described being surprised to get the phone call from Bannon. The White House chief strategist apparently called to praise him for a recent piece in which Kuttner had written about North Korea.

(Signalling heightened interest)

Here we go! He said, quote, "In Kim, Trump has met his match. The risk of two arrogant fools blundering into a nuclear exchange is more serious than at any time since October 1962."
Uh-oh! Mika was quoting what Kuttner had said. But, as would soon become clear, she apparently thought she was quoting Bannon.

As it turned out, that's what Joe thought too! When Mika stopped reading from prompter, this is what he and Mika wonderfully said:
JOE: So Willie, really, I don't know where to begin with this. But let's just start with the part where he calls the president of the United States, his boss, a blundering fool.

MIKA: That's a problem.

JOE: Blundering fool. And then undercuts his military strategy...He's just going—

WILLIE: Right to the top.

JOE: —straight for attacks on the commander in chief, calling him a blustering fool and saying he's lying to the world.

MIKA: "Blundering."
Willie continued from there. Wonderfully, Mika had corrected Joe's wording of the quotation, failing to realize that it was being attributed, if we might borrow from Hitch, to "the wrong man."

At 6:18, Axios' Jonathan Swan was introduced into the discussion. He quickly corrected the gang's mistake. Nobody batted an eye.

As we've noted in the past, everyone makes mistakes. This one was amusing, but also perhaps instructive.

In the humorous realm, we get to see Mika's work on this program in a nutshell. In saying "That's a problem," she offered one of her trademark, three-word affirmations of Whatever It Is That Joe Said.

In this case, she did so without understanding that the remark in question was being attributed to the wrong person. Her later correction of Joe's wording was icing on the cake.

That was the humorous side. More strikingly, none of the program's three principals—Joe, Mika and Haskell-Geist—seemed to have familiarized themselves with the material being discussed on their program.

Producers had planned for this topic to be reviewed in the program's opening segment. When the topic arose, it was left to Swan to come on the air and straighten the whole thing out.

Things like that can happen. In this case, the error provided some late-summer comic relief.

We expect to post tomorrow even as we summer. For one thing, Jason Zinoman's profile of David Letterman's relationship with Donald J. Trump strikes us as horribly, deeply revealing concerning The Way The TV World Works.

We plan to read Mika's third book, Obsessed, over the weekend. We recently read her second book, Knowing Your Value (2011), in which she extensively drew on the wisdom of a fellow you may know—a fellow named Donald J. Trump.

Charlottesville: Instant desire to kill the pig!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2017

Also, what Edie Doyle said:
Peter Cvjetanovic, who's 20 years old, took part in last weekend's ridiculous, pitiful and ridiculous Charlottesville march. Apparently, he's a college student at Nevada-Reno.

As Cvetanovic marched around chanting his ridiculous chants, he was photographed; later, he was identified. As he achieved local notoriety, he explained his thinking to a Nevada TV station:
CVETANOVIC: I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was. I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.

[...]

I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture. It is not perfect; there are flaws to it, of course. However I do believe that the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.
We got these quotes from this post by Josh Marshall.

Those comments by Cvetanovic strike us as rather dumb. Then again, did we mention the fact that he's only 20?

Beyond that, we can't speak for what this young person actually does and doesn't believe. That said:

On Monday, in that same post, Marshall recommended a twitter thread in which a bunch of our brightest liberals were aggressively egging each other on, seeking ways to kill this particular pig. We're surprised that Marshall would recommend this approach.

When we read that twitter thread,
we thought of The Mortal Storm, a fascinating 1940 fictional film about the rise of Nazi Youth. We thought of the many deaths which occurred during China's "cultural revolution."

We thought of Lord of the Flies, and of course of killing the pig. We also thought of Edie Doyle.

Edie Doyle is the main female character is the great, somewhat testosterone-laden film, On the Waterfront. The part was played by Eva Marie Saint in Saint's first film role.

Edie Doyle's working-class parents have saved their nickles and dimes to send her off to be taught by the nuns, far away from the corruption of the waterfront. On Christmas vacation, her brother is killed. She insists on learning how he died before she returns to the nuns.

With this, a note about this unusual film:

On the Waterfront's major theme involves the exciting world of street-fighting real men. The more significant undercard involves the values of Edie Doyle, and the discovery of same by Terry Molloy, the Marlon Brando character.

Early in the film, Saint and Brando walk through a park, recalling the fact that they attended parochial school together. Brando recalls the way the nuns abused him. In reply, Saint expresses the time-honored views of the bleeding-heart liberal:
TERRY: You know, I've seen you a lot of times before. Do you remember parochial school out on Puluski Street? Seven, eight years ago?

[...]

You don't remember me, do you?

EDIE: I remembered you the first moment I saw you.

TERRY: By the nose, huh? Some people just got faces that stick in your mind.

EDIE: I remember you were in trouble all the time.

TERRY: Now you got me. The way those sisters used to whack me, I don't know what. They thought they was going to beat an education into me, but I foxed them.

EDIE: Maybe they just didn't know how to handle you.

TERRY: How would you have done it?

EDIE: With a little more patience and kindness. That's what makes people mean and difficult. People don't care enough about them.

TERRY: Are you kidding me? I'd better get you home. There’s too many guys around here with only one thing on their mind.

Am I gonna see you again?
Cinematically, you have to be there. Saint's performance is angelic. Beyond that, she's plainly lit to glow.

At any rate, how would Edie have "handled" Terry? "With a little more patience and kindness," she says.

For our money, the greatness of this film begins in that scene. Rather plainly, Terry sees that Edie is a better person than he is. An unusual desire is also signaled: as he absent-mindedly slips the glove she has dropped onto his own hand, we can see that he wants to be more like her, more like this better person.

In very, very few major films do you see the major male character observe and accept the moral superiority of the major female character. But that's the (secondary) theme which plays out all through the rest of this film, as the Brando character turns his back on the values of the waterfront where he's been raised.

In this famous film, the Brando character has played an unknowing role in the killing of Edie's brother. Last weekend, in Charlottesville, a lost soul named James Field killed an admirable young woman named Heidi Heyer. A few hundred other people paraded around on Friday and Saturday, exhibiting tremendously unfortunate behavior and saying ridiculous stupid things.

As it turned out, Field was already badly disturbed by the time he was 13 years old. "There but for fortune"—or so we liberals used to say in the face of such a miserable, profoundly unfortunate story.

Edie would have handled him with a little more patience and kindness. Josh encouraged our liberal teammates to go out and start killing the pig.

Why was Cvjetanovic at that pitiful rally? We can't tell you that. But we're going to guess that the best results don't come from aping the hatred.

Susan Bro was Heidi Heyer's mother. She says that hate will breed more hate. That's what Dr. King also said! As a general matter, we the humans aren't wired to see things that way.

Susan Bro said she felt sorry for the lost soul who killed her daughter. "Jesus Christ is here on the waterfront." That's what the local priest, played by Karl Malden, says in Elia Kazan's great film.

We thought that twitter thread was deeply unwise. In fairness, we humans have always been wired that way. People are dead all over the world because of this inbred reaction.

A few more words of advice: Should we call the marchers dumb? Or should we call them evil?

When we call people evil, we tend to invest them with substantial power. When we say they're pitiful, lost and remarkably dumb, we create them a different way.

When we call a lost soul a terrorist, we encourage the next lost soul to achieve notoriety that same way. What makes us build these people up? It seems to us that Edie Doyle, like Susan Bro, would have looked for a better way.

Once again, the discussion not traveled!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2017

Bernstein goes there again:
Maybe once a month or so, Carl Bernstein is permitted to say it.

He makes yet another attempt to start the relevant discussion—the discussion about Donald J. Trump's mental health. Last night, speaking with Anderson Cooper, his effort began like this:
BERNSTEIN (8/16/17): I think there's considerable evidence that there's a consensus developing in the military, at the highest levels, in the intelligence community, among Republicans in Congress, including the leaders in the business community, that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is unfit to be the president of the United States.

And that's the undercurrent. I've talked to you about it for weeks, that I've been hearing in Washington. There is increasing talk about his emotional and mental stability, as David Gergen referred to earlier.
More on Gergen below. Once again, Bernstein was saying that major players in Washington think Donald J. Trump is unwell.

Our big news orgs have been ducking this obvious question for months, perhaps for years. Just this morning, Joe Scarborough suggested that his bosses have told him not to go there.

Bermstein goes there once a month. Here's the way he continued:
BERNSTEIN (continuing directly): This is extraordinary. It's a dangerous moment in our history. Trump is under siege. Also from a special prosecutor, his family is under siege from a special prosecutor.

But more than anything else, I think there's a sense among military, congressional, business leaders that he's in a kind of freefall, and he made not have many parachutes left, except for his base, to land safely. And that's an awful thin cushion.

We've never seen anything like this. We don't know where it's going.
Below, we'll offer some thoughts on the key words there: "It's a dangerous moment in our history."

More on that comment below. Later in his segment with Cooper, Bernstein restated his basic points:
BERNSTEIN: This is unprecedented. That's exactly right. Donald Trump knows the peril of where he's in because he is cognizant of what he is facing. That he now knows that things are closing in on him, that he has lost the constituencies, the business leaders that he had to fire, as it were or dismissed from an advisory council before...

We are in territory we've never been in, but again what we're hearing—and I think all reporters need to be checking their sources and finding out what people on the Hill, in the military, the intelligence communities are saying, because of this element that David Gergen said today, somebody who served in many White Houses, about the stability and mental condition of the president of the United States.

COOPER: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: This is something we haven't dealt with before.
During the 7 PM hour, Gergen had spoken with Erin Burnett. During the 9 PM hour, he spoke with Cooper, saying this:
GERGEN: Anderson, I think we're going to go through a rough period now on race relations. We're going to have to work our way through it...

The scarier part right now is the state of the presidency and the man who's in it. I just—

It echoes some of what you've been saying. Leadership starts from within, from within a person. That's just sort of what's the— Are you anchored? You know, are you sound? Are you of good mind? And I think there are increasing questions tonight about whether this president, about his temperament, about his emotional and mental stability. These issues are now rising among psychiatrists in the country. How do we come to grips with the anger that's in this man, the narcissism, the impulsivity?

You know, there's a "Goldwater rule," as they call it, that says psychiatrists can't comment really or can't offer diagnosis of public figure without having a personal evaluation. That rule is under challenge tonight by a lot of psychiatrists who think they need to speak out. They need to put this on the record. And we have never experienced this before and I think it's why the military has spoken up today.

[...]

I think there's a reason the military rallied today, because they have genuine fears about the emotional and mental stability of the man in the Oval Office.
We don't know if Gergen is right what military leaders think. Let's note a few points about Bernstein and Gergen's remarks:

First, the networks and major news orgs are avoiding this discussion. This reluctance may be understandable. But in a modestly rational world, this discussion would be seen as the one we need.

(In fairness, no serious person thinks our press corps, especially our cable news corps, is capable of conducting such a discussion.)

This isn't a question of whether Donald J. Trump should be described as a liar. That's the least of our problems. It's a question of whether Donald J. Trump is unwell. Concerning that, consider this:

We see people exulting about the new pressures being brought upon Trump. We think this is silly, shortsighted.

If Donald J. Trump isn't "anchored;" if Donald J. Trump in truly unwell; the feeling "that things are closing in on him" could be extremely dangerous. Donald J. Trump holds the nuclear codes. If he is truly unwell, additional pressure may be the last thing we need.

Last night, we watched Cooper as he mocked Christopher Cantwell, a visibly unhinged leader of last weekend's Charlottesville march. Cooper is very brave about mocking these people now. But as he did so last night, we couldn't help remembering the way he played Candidate Trump's pool boy/caddie during last year's election.

Cooper is very bold today. Last year, he was a highly-paid pool boy. He rolled over and died.

Again and again and again and again, people like Cooper rolled over and died for Candidate Donald J. Trump. Their bosses wanted the ratings and the income. The millionaire caddies of cable news did as they were told.

WEAKER APART: We pause our previously planned report!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2017

Pause—With a few simple starter questions:
As announced yesterday, we've decided to pause the report we'd planned to pursue this week. Charlottesville has overtaken it, in several ways.

That said, we thought we'd leave you with a few simple starter questions. Imagine that someone—a person you knew, or perhaps an academician—approached you with questions like these:
Question 1: Do unauthorized immigrants commit fewer crimes, on average, than native-born Americans? Than native-born white Americans? Than native-born black Americans?

Question 2: Would it be racist to say that they do?
If someone asked us those questions, our own award-winning answers would be these:
Answer 1: As far as we know, they do commit fewer crimes, on average.

Answer 2: Please. Could we possibly start to grow up?
Those would be our answers, based on things we've read.

Moving right along, let's consider two more questions. Suppose a researcher jumped you with these questions:
Question 1: Do Asian-American kids work harder in school, on average, than American kids of other ethnicities?

Question 2: Is it racist to say that they do?
Incomparably, our answers might go something like this:
Answer 1: We have no way of knowing. It's certainly possible.

Answer 2: Same as Answer 2 above.
Why do we imagine such questions? Here's why:

As we've noted in the past few days, the Washington Post has produced a mini-orgy of eye-catching headlines about the "racism" of These Millennials Today, or perhaps about the racism of These White Millennials Today.

One such headline appeared earlier this week. The op-ed column it topped linked to an earlier analysis piece—a piece which appeared in June 2015, under this eye-catching headline:
"Millennials are just about as racist as their parents"
That's an unpleasant-sounding headline. It seems to reflect on tens of millions of people—on These Millennials Today.

We think that's an unwise headline. In fairness, the headline basically captured the judgment expressed in that earlier analysis piece—a piece which was written by the Post's polling director.

In part, the polling director was basing his judgment on a set of survey questions—questions which aren't gigantically different from the ones we've imagined above. Let's consider one of those sets of questions:

In fairness to These White Millennials Today, 70 percent of These White Millennials answered the questions in a way which freed them from the claim of being "racist."

That said, thirty percent of These White Millennials answered the questions wrongly, in way which were judged in-correct. On this basis, the polling director judged them to have displayed "racial prejudice," which was instantly turned into "racism" by the gods of These Headlines Today.

In this and a thousand other presentations, These Professors and Journalists Today have tossed their favorite bombs around in rather dull-witted ways. Within our liberal tribe, this can create real problems:

For many liberals, it's hard to consider the possibility that our ranking academics may not be especially sharp, especially when their deathless research results in the types of judgment which fire our tribal narratives.

For ourselves, we've long found that our academics aren't always especially sharp. Back in the day, Albert Einstein drew the exact same conclusion!

We have decided that Einstein was right. These Academics Today aren't always especially sharp. And once they mate with These Journalists Today, we can be in for a rather dumb ride.

Work of this type, with R-bombs attached, tends to fire us liberals. It also tends to leave us weaker apart.

More than anything else, such work just isn't especially bright. As we've often said to imaginary inquisitors:

Academics and researchers, please! Could we possibly start to grow up?

What Athene said: We think Athene, daughter of Zeus of the aegis, had it just about right when Odysseus returned from the fighting around Troy. Her deathless words of wisdom were recorded by sacred Homer, right at the end of The Odyssey:
And now they would have killed them all, and given none of them homecoming, had not Athene, daughter of Zeus of the aegis, cried out in a great voice and held back all the company: "Hold back, men of Ithaka, from the wearisome fighting, so that most soon, and without blood, you can settle everything."
We think Athene had it right. In fairness, we're just saying.

Charlottesville: Superb report by the Washington Post!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2017

With pitiful conduct by Us:
The Washington Post has repeatedly done superb reporting in the aftermath of the Charlottesville events.

Today, we recommend a brilliant profile by Jessica Contrera. She spoke with the father of 30-year-old Peter Tefft, who took part in the Charlottesville march.

The father in question, Pierce Tefft, lives in North Dakota, apparently in or near Fargo. He wrote a letter to the Fargo newspaper denouncing his son's beliefs and conduct.

Contrera described the elder Tefft's attempts to dissuade his son of his “pro-white activist” views, which he apparently began to develop a few years ago. When the son was identified from photographs taken in Charlottesville, the geniuses in our own liberal tribe apparently swung into action, in the familiar old ways.

They got busy killing the pig. We humans are wired to do this:
CONTRERA (8/16/17): Internet sleuths were sifting through photos of other protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally, determined to identify their names, ages, home towns and employers. With each name uncovered came the possibility that somewhere, another parent was finding out for the first time that their child was an avowed racist.

[...]

Tefft's family members, especially Peter’s mother, have been inundated with social-media messages and phone calls from people who assume they share or condone his opinions. The backlash began when Peter started discussing his beliefs locally, but it snowballed this past weekend, when the Twitter account @Yes­YoureRacist posted a photo of Peter at the Charlottesville rally with the caption, “This charming Nazi is Pete Tefft of Fargo, ND.”

Peter Tefft, who identifies as a “pro-white activist” online, did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

His father said the messages the family received because of “guilt by association” were so vile, he wouldn’t repeat them. He canceled his landline phone service.
This is the sort of familiar conduct Josh Marshall encouraged in Monday's unwise post.

Tomorrow, we'll return to that unwise post. We'll praise the values of bleeding heart liberalism.

We'll end up walking with Marlon Brando through that cinematic park, the famous cinematic park that overlooks life on the waterfront. A brilliant young woman will speak.

CNN is nothing but talk!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2017

HBO does the reporting:
Yesterday afternoon, Donald J. Trump delivered one of his most furious performances yet.

Along the way, he may even have made a couple of accurate statements. That said, you'll never find out from CNN, which also gave one of its weirdest performances yesterday, in reaction to Trump.

We're referring to CNN's 5 P.M. Eastern hour. The hour was devoted to bloviation and blather. It was strikingly devoid of reporting and fact.

We saw most of CNN's hour. We hadn't yet seen Trump's disordered performance. Midway through that 5 PM hour, we were surprised by some videotape Wolf Blitzer aired.

It was videotape from last Friday night's march in Charlottesville. Luckily, CNN's "sister network," HBO, isn't like CNN.

This was horrible, but highly informative, videotape. Needless to say, it didn't come from the fully ridiculous CNN. It came from HBO instead:
BLITZER (8/15/17): Let me play a little bit—this is some video of what actually happened in Charlottesville.

This is video from VICE, from our sister network, HBO, just a little clip to remind our viewers
and remind you, Congressman, of what was going on. Watch this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will not replace us. You will not replace us. You will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will not replace us. You will not replace us. You will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will not replace us. You will not replace us. You will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood and soil, blood and soil, blood and soil. Blood and soil, blood and soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood and soil, blood and soil, blood and soil. Blood and soil, blood and soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood and soil, blood and soil, blood and soil. Blood and soil, blood and soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? Our streets.

[...]
(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. So there you saw the white supremacists. They were shouting, "You will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Blood and soil, blood and soil. Whose streets? Our streets."

Those were really disgusting words we heard there. And it should have been so simple to simply say, "I condemn this. I don't want their support. These are very bad people."
Truly, the tape was horrific. So was Blitzer's work.

According to Blitzer, it should have been easy for Donald J. Trump to say he condemned that behavior. Blitzer also said that the videotape was "reminding" CNN viewers of what had transpired last Friday night.

We were puzzled by that statement. We'd watched lots of bloviathan on CNN since the events of last Friday night, and we didn't think we'd seen anything like that remarkable videotape.

The tape had come from HBO. Had CNN ever shown any comparable videotape of this ugly behavior? Had CNN even reported the fact that this ugly behavior occurred?

We fired up our Nexis and tried to check it out. First, we searched on the specific chant, "Jews will not replace us." Then, we employed a broader search term: "Jews AND replace us."

Our finding? CNN viewers, people like us, were being "reminded" of nothing. We found no sign that CNN had ever shown videotape of those remarkable chants. According to the gods of Nexis, CNN had barely reported the fact that such chanting had taken place.

Where the heck was CNN at the time of the march? Wherever they were, they had gathered no videotape of those remarkable chants.

In terms of simply reporting those chants, the record seems to be this:

In last Saturday afternoon's 1 PM hour, CNN anchor Boris Sanchez reported the fact, on one lone occasion, that the marchers had been chanting "Jews will not replace us." According to Nexis, that was it for Saturday.

The next day brought some eyewitness testimony. In Sunday's 11 AM hour, Brian Stelter interviewed UVa's Larry Sabato during CNN's Reliable Sources program. Rather dramatically, Sabato made the highlighted report:
STELTER (8/13/17): I want to go first to Charlottesville and Larry Sabato. He's the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

And, Larry, I know this is personal for you. You were on campus Friday night. Those scenes of those mostly men, mostly young men carrying torches, trying to express their views, their largely racist, anti-Semitic views. What was your experience Friday night at UVA?

SABATO: Well, Brian, I live on Jefferson's Lawn, in a pavilion that he designed and it's right next to the rotunda. And I watched this group of young people, mainly young people, as you said, in their upper teens, 20s, 30s march with their torches lit, and I was shocked, first at how many of them there were. There were hundreds. I hate to put an exact number on it, but it went on and on. It was longer than our graduation lines.

And then I—then they got closer and I heard what they were chanting. And they were chanting, "You will not replace us," and that was alternated with, "Jews will not replace us." Then they got to the front of the rotunda, and it didn't take them but a few minutes to this do what they really come to do, get a lot of media attention by attacking the relative handful of counter-protesters who were there.

This was all unplanned, by the way. We didn't know they were going to do it until late in the day Friday when some rumors started coming—

STELTER: Interesting. So, Saturday was planned, Saturday's rally, but not Friday night.

SABATO: Not Friday night. It came as a surprise to everybody. And I just can't—

As somebody who has been associated with the University of Virginia for 47 year, Brian, this was the most disturbing, nauseating thing I have ever witnessed there. And right there on the lawn, which the center of our university. I don't know long it's going the take us to get over this.
This was a rather dramatic report from a very well-known observer. According to Nexis, CNN never played tape of Sabato's eyewitness account. His dramatic testimony came to an end right there.

This chanting was mentioned one more time, on one lone occasion by Blitzer himself during Sunday's 5 PM hour. According to CNN's transcript, he misstated what had been said:
BLITZER (8/13/17): We also got a statement just in from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Washington which says in part that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum mourns the loss of life in Charlottesville, Virginia, strongly condemns the violence and neo-Nazi racists and anti-Semitic symbols and language used by some of the participants, including reported chants of quote "the Jews will not overtake us," close quote.
On Monday, that chanting was never mentioned on CNN at all. Nor was it mentioned on Tuesday, until Blitzer "reminded" us of what had occurred, thanks to HBO.

Briefly, let's be fair. The killing of Heather Heyer quickly became the centerpiece of cable's repetitive conduct. Beyond that, it may well be that CNN had no one on the scene last Friday night, since the main march was scheduled for Saturday.

That said, we were struck by the ugliness of that videotape—and by CNN's failure to perform. As we watched yesterday's % PM hour, that failure took two forms.

During yesterday's 5 PM hour, the pundits behaved like the legendary beheaded chickens. The stars took turns insulting Trump, not always in accurate ways. Basically, they kept repeating the words "neo-Nazi"and "Ku Klux Klan" as often as they could.

It was highly repetitive bloviation—and it wasn't always especially accurate. They did no reporting, offered little analysis. In the main, they simply kept excitedly reinforcing one another.

Beyond that, we were perhaps even more struck by how little reporting about that march we'd been exposed to. In the days since it had occurred, we'd heard endless bloviating by the talking heads of CNN and the other cables. But as we watched the videotape Blitzer had cadged from HBO, we were amazed by how poorly the cables had described and reported the basic ugliness of what occurred.

Bliter's 5 PM hour last night was a journalistic mess. We were struck by the way CNN has thrown reporting under the bus in favor of repeated screeching and hollering by its remarkably useless gaggle of talking heads.

Today, the first half hour of Morning Joe was a similar mess. Everyone was staggered by what Donald J. Trump had said. Few were able to describe what he said for more than ten seconds without making some obvious gongy misstatement.

Yesterday afternoon, Donald J. Trump was borderline deranged. Then too, that's what pretty much cable tends to be like. They were like this long before Trump. Trump, who may be mentally ill, has largely just built on their conduct.

Let's all thank God for HBO, which managed to do the journalism in Charlottesville last Friday night.

WEAKER APART: Professors and journalists, weaker together!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2017

Part 3—The Washington Post relents:
Inevitably, your DAILY HOWLER keeps cranking out those results.

We refer to the Washington Post's decision to change the headline we cited in yesterday's report. Below, you see the way the headline was, as compared to the way it is now:
The way it was:

White millennials are just as racist as their grandparents

The way it is today:

Trump’s lasting legacy is to embolden an entirely new generation of racists
Will that be Donald J. Trump's lasting legacy? As opposed, let us say, to the role he may yet play in producing the end of the world?

We don't know how to answer your question! But that eye-catching, original headline was ushered to the memory hole just as soon as your DAILY HOWLER noted how gongy it was.

Briefly, let's be fair. From the standpoint of the catching of eyes, that headline had it all!

It not only dropped an R-bomb, which is sure to get juices flowing. It also tossed a generational claim around!

A fiery R-bomb, linked to a G-bomb! Presumably, nothing grabs eyeballs so well!

Don't misunderstand! Imaginably, there would imaginably be a way to determine if, on average, tens of millions of people in one generation might be "just as racist" as the tens of millions of people who are, on average, their grandparents.

Imaginably, our professors and journalists could imaginably make such a finding. But that didn't happen in the column written by Catherine Rampell.

Sad! For starters, that exciting, eye-catching headline was an embellishment of what Rampell had actualy said in the column so bannered.

In our view, Rampell's actual claim was unwise and dumb on its own. But that headline ratcheted what she said, presumably yielding more clicks.

Here's what Rampell actually said. This came near the end of her column:
RAMPELL (8/15/17): More significantly, the presumption that millennials are uniformly more progressive than earlier generations is false.

Millennials overall are more racially tolerant than earlier generations—but that’s because young people today are less likely to be white. White millennials exhibit about as much racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias, as white Gen Xers and boomers.
These white millennials today! Rampell nuancedly said that they "exhibit about as much racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias, as white Gen Xers and boomers." The reader was left to imagine what "racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias," might actually mean or be.

As written, Rampell's claim was rather murky. That said, the headline writer dropped all the qualifiers—and he or she turned "racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias," into "racis[m]," the bomb that has launched a million clicks.

Yesterday, someone at the Washington Post decided to change that headline. For ourselves, we spent some time examining the data to which Rampell had semi-referred.

When we did, sad! Rampell's link took us tothis April 2015 report by the Post's Scott Clement. Just seven years out of Vanderbilt at the time, he was identified as "the polling manager at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy."

Appendix aside, Clement's actual piece had been fairly short. Especially in its appendix ("General Social Survey methodology and question wording"), it was at various times strikingly incoherent.

That said, Clement's piece from April 2015 still bears an eye-catching headline. Here's what that headline says:
Millennials are just about as racist as their parents
Seven years out of Vanderbilt, the Washington Post's polling director, not unlike Santa of old, knew who was naughty and who was nice in at least two generations.

"Surely not all millennials are racist," Clement magnanimously said near the start of his piece. He went on to offer evidence in support of the implied claim which was fairly accurately captured in the headline atop his report.

As has been clear for a good long time, R-bombs are very good for our liberal world's tribal soul. Presumably, they're also good for clicks at newspapers like the Post.

That said, alas! Again and again, R-bombs turn out to be good for something else. They're often help us see how weak one modern alliance is.

We refer to the often unholy alliance between These College Professors Today and These High-End Journalists. We might all be better off if these two groups were kept apart!

Due to events in Charlottesvile, we may terminate the report we planned for this week—at least, we may terminate it for now.

Those events from Virginia are much more pressing this week. That said, the Washington Post's bomb-laden headlines almost surely play a part in that larger story.

What made the Washington Post feel it could offer the eye-catching headline which topped that 2015 report? The eye-catching headline in which, like a god, some editor brandished a favorite bomb, spread across two generations?

In large part, the Post's polling director had been working from a particular question on "the General Social Survey conducted by NORC's 2010, 2012 and 2014 waves." He didn't bother explaining what that acronym meant, so we won't bother either.

For today, we'll only say this:

We think the use to which that question was put helps display the remarkable lack of skill which is often put on display by our professors and journalists, who often seem to be weaker together. Therein lies a ancillary tale:

We liberals! We tend to find it hard to believe that our professors are perhaps a bit weak in the head, especially when their deathless surveys lead to headlines which tickle our tribal scripts. Sadly, our willingness to bow to authority in this way makes us resemble, in ever so tiny a way. the long-derided ditto-headedness long declared Over There.

We've long ridiculed that trait when displayed by Those People. Over There, they've swallowed all manner of cant from Rush. We tend to get ours from our professors, especially as their work is channeled through columnists and "polling directors."

Had that youngish polling director really found a way to measure the "racism" of two generations? Yesterday, in an easy link, Rampell seemed to say that he had.

An exciting headline followed. Later, it was withdrawn.

We liberals have been highly skilled for many years at seeing how dumb The Others are. In truth, the pronouncements of Rush and Sean have routinely, though not always, been tremendously dumb.

But good God and holy smokes! The major pathetic unhelpful Big Dumb can also be found Over Here!

Today, the headline which sat atop Rampell's column is gone. Incomparably, your DAILY HOWLER keeps pounding out those results.

Elsewhere in today's Washington Post,
superb reporting describes the complaints of some of the nation's least discerning young men—young men who are found Over There.

We'll stick to that work for the rest of the week. But the dumbness is also quite thick Over Here, and the stories are not unrelated.

Charlottesville: There but for fortune, continued!

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

Two ways of seeing a life:
In this morning's Washington Post, the portrait of a life continues.

The life is that of James Fields, the 20-year-old man who seems to have committed a lunatic murder this weekend.

He seems to have done a crazy thing. According to the Post's front-page report, it didn't come out of the blue:
HERNANDEZ (8/15/17): Years before a 20-year-old Ohio man allegedly rammed his car into a panicked crowd of activists in Charlottesville, it was his disabled mother who was terrified.

James Alex Fields Jr. was barely a teenager in 2010 when his mother—who uses a wheelchair—locked herself in a bathroom, called 911 and said her son had struck her head and put his hands over her mouth when she told him to stop playing a video game, according to police records. On another occasion, records show, he brandished a 12-inch knife. Once, he spit in her face.

“Mom is scared he is going to become violent here,” a dispatcher wrote in a log of the November 2011 call
in which Fields’s mother, Samantha Bloom, requested police help in getting her son to a hospital for assessment.

The portrait of a violent teen emerged as Fields was denied bail Monday during his first court appearance in connection with the Charlottesville attack that killed one and injured 19 others...
In 2010, Fields was 13. It sounds like something was already terribly, horribly wrong:
HERNANDEZ: The 911 records indicating Fields’s teenage outbursts, first reported by the website TMZ, cover police calls made while Fields and his mother lived in Florence, Ky., about 20 minutes southwest of Cincinnati. In the past year, they moved near Toledo. The records seem to indicate that he was arrested and held in juvenile detention after the November 2011 call.

In the 2010 call, Bloom reported that her son had struck her in the head and threatened to beat her after she told him to stop playing video games. Bloom said her son was taking medication to control his temper and told authorities that she was locked in the bathroom.

In October of the following year, Bloom called 911 to say that her son was “being very threatening toward her” and that she didn’t feel “in control of the situation,”
according to a dispatcher’s notes.

And in November 2011, police were asked to come to the house because Bloom was said to want her son to be assessed at a hospital, according to the records. He had spat in her face, said the caller, whose connection to the family is not clear in the records.

The previous night, Fields had stood behind his mother with a 12-inch knife, the caller reported.

“Scared mom to death not knowing if he was going to do something,” the dispatcher’s report continued.
In 2011, Field was 14. It sounds like something was terribly wrong at that point.

There seem to be at least two ways you can respond to reporting like this. Over here, we tend to start by saying, "There but for fortune." (For background, see yesterday's post.) Whatever explains such disturbed behavior at such a young age, we ourselves were never so afflicted.

Perhaps we got better help at home. Perhaps this young person had organic medical problems of a type we never had.

If a young person if your own family started behaving this way, you'd probably want to try to get him help. In the case of this young person, such efforts—it sounds like he was on medication—don't seem to have worked in the end.

We'll be honest! When we read about young people like this, we tend to take the "bleeding-heart liberal" approach. We feel sorry for his lost life. We tend to say, "There but for fortune."

We'll make Josh the bad guy again. Yesterday afternoon, in this post, he linked to a report about this early disturbed behavior.

To our ear, his headline—"Fits The Pattern"—seems to signal or suggest our own tribe's tribal greatness. The "pattern" would seem to be that of Those People. We don't sense the presence of a heart mourning a second lost life.

When we saw that post by Josh, we thought of the speech from On the Waterfront, the speech by the Eva Marie Saint character. As she speaks with the Brando character, she affirms the values of bleeding heart liberals. In our view, the reaction of the Brando character forms the heart of the film.

Before the week is done, we'll post the text of that brief speech. Sixty-three years later, we'll recommend the worldview it espouses.

One final point. Last night, speaking with Anderson Cooper, Susan Bro continued to express her moral greatness.

Her 32-year-old daughter, Heather Heyer, was the person who was killed. But she said she had two feeling about the young man who killed her:
BRO (8/14/17): I have two feelings about this young man.

One is, he was extremely young, in my opinion. He's not a child. He's an adult. He made his decisions, and I believe that he thought hate was going to be the answer, and that hate is going to fix things.

But he was wrong, and he will some day come to see that, I hope. And I'm sorry for the pain he will go through when he sees that. I'm sorry for the pain he's putting his mother through right now.

I'm also extremely sorry that he chose to kill my child and to injure a bunch of other people. He didn't have the right to do that. And if you watch the tapes, you can tell he had that exactly in mind.
In our view, Bro just keeps expressing remarkable moral greatness. In our view, we could use a bit more of that within our liberal and corporate liberal tents, where the unwise, self-impressed virtue signalling is running quite high this week.