Supplemental: The way our liberal professors talk!

TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 2015

Gorilla dust and the gender wage gap:
Over the next several days, we’ll consider the way our liberal professors sometimes talk when they become engaged in policy debates.

For today, we thought we’d revisit a fascinating cable news event. We refer to the evening when Rachel Maddow discussed, or perhaps pretended to discuss, the size and nature of the gender wage gap.

On Sunday, April 29, 2012, Maddow had appeared on Meet the Press. She had repeatedly made the standard presentation, saying that women are paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for doing “the exact same work.”

Maddow was challenged by Alex Castellanos, who said her claim was wrong. On her MSNBC show the next evening, Maddow said she had spent hours that day trying to determine what Castellanos possibly could have meant.

She still had no earthly idea, Maddow said, quite improbably, during a long and angry opening segment.

Finally, it was time to call in the expert! Maddow introduced Professor Hartmann of George Washington University, the “founder and president of the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research.”

Below, you see the first Q-and-A between Maddow and Hartmann.
In this exchange, Hartmann says that Maddow was wrong in her claim the previous day. But she says this in such a way that viewers almost surely couldn’t tell.

Alas! Maddow posed a murky question. The professor responded in kind:
MADDOW (4/30/12): I know that you at the women’s—Institute for Women’s Policy Research, you have done some of the most important and most highly publicized work on this issue. Is there any way that the idea of a gender-based disparity is something that depends on how you look at it? Is this something other than a blunt truth about the American economy?

PROFESSOR HARTMANN: Well, I mean, you obviously have by far the better part of the argument. You’ve got the Census Bureau and I might mention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics agreeing with you. Oh, also, I could mention the U.S. General Accountability Office.

I think what the issue is for the Republicans is that they believe that that’s not—no matter how big the wage gap is, almost none of it is due to discrimination. And of course, these numbers from BLS and Census Bureau are not really talking about discrimination. But the GAO study that I just mentioned did. They said that even when you put everything you can possibly think of in the regression equations, the statistical analyses to try to make that gap go away, you can’t explain at least 20 percent of it.

Now most other studies place the part you can’t explain as a quarter to a half. So a large part of the gap probably is due to discrimination. But that seems to be what the debate is.
There was a time when we thought we probably knew what Professor Hartmann was saying there. By now, her statement seems even harder to parse than we once understood.

That said, Professor Hartmann quickly said this: “Of course, these numbers from BLS and Census Bureau are not really talking about discrimination.” She proceeded to discuss how much of the 23 percent gap is actually due to discrimination, and how much of the gap can be “explained” in some other way.

“A large part of the gap probably is due to discrimination,” the professor said. She seemed to say that one quarter to one half of the gap stems from that cause.

Here’s the problem: on Meet the Press, Maddow had insisted that the full 23 percent gap was caused by discrimination. She seemed to think that the 23 percent statistic was intended as a measure of same.

Professor Hartmann’s second statement was even harder to follow. But as she roamed the countryside, she eventually offered this:
PROFESSOR HARTMANN: I mean, these regression analysis, they include occupation. They include your education, number of years of experience, maybe sometimes marital status, number of children—just about anything you can think of. And you cannot make the whole gap go away. So there is discrimination.
“You cannot make the whole gap go away,” the professor said. “So there is discrimination.”

Some experts dispute even that; they say the remaining gap may turn out to be due to some non-discriminatory cause which hasn’t yet been discovered. But Maddow had said, the day before, that the entire 23 percent gap was due to discrimination.

Hartmann kept rejecting that view, even as she threw clouds of gorilla dust which almost surely kept cable viewers confused.

Professor Hartmann was almost completely incoherent this night. Maddow’s murky, imprecise questions only deepened the confusion.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to answer this question:

Was Hartmann acting in good faith during this murky conversation? Or, as a good progressive, was she throwing gorilla dust to 1) avoid embarrassing Maddow and 2) to keep a pleasing tribal claim alive?

We liberals may be inclined to think that our professors don’t do things like that. The sentiment is understandable. But we can assure you they do!

For many years, it was “experts” on the right who created and enabled the bogus claims which drove our hopeless public discussions. Today, a great deal of this skilled dissembling occurs over here on the left.

How much of the “gender wage gap” does result from discrimination? It’s hard to say, in large part because of the bogus claims and gorilla dust thrown up by journalists, professors and “experts” over here in our camp.

(Some experts says the part of the gap which is caused by discrimination is something like five cents on the dollar. We have no real idea, in part because our own tribe works to keep the question from being discussed.)

We tribals love our bogus old claim about the size of the gap! It thrills the tribe when we state it, so our journos and experts keep churning it out. Getting back to last week’s Oscars flap, it may be that Patricia Arquette has heard the familiar old claim and believes it.

Or not. Needless to say, no one asked.

Rush and Sean have always played the game this way. Increasingly, our team also plays it this way. We’ll offer more nightmares from liberal professors as the week proceeds. We find it hard to believe that this kind of academic/journalistic dissembling serves progressive interests.

Do the plutocrats cheer when we play it this way? We’d be inclined to think yes. Our bogus claims drive wedges deeper. They keep us divided and conquered.


THE CALIBER OF OUR OWN DISCOURSE: Our struggle to see what Arquette must have meant!

TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 2015

Part 2—Geniuses, experts, confusion:
Do women get paid 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for the exact same work?

As far as we know, no expert of the right or the left actually makes that claim. Despite this fact, the claim is often bruited around by our fiery new leaders on the pseudo-left.

Alas! Just as the analysts had foreseen, Katie McDonough advanced this claim in the wake of Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance address.

That didn’t make the claim any more accurate. For background, see yesterday’s report.

Women get paid 77 cents on the dollar for the exact same work! This is just one of the bogus claims we liberals frequently push these days as we emulate decades of clowning by those on the pseudo-right.

We liberals! We love to hear this inaccurate claim about the gender wage gap. At the present time, we’re also pushing some shaky statistics about the prevalence of rape on college campuses—statistics no one else really believes at this point.

Shakiness of our statistics be danged; we love our embellished facts! Within the past year, we even seem to be working on a thoroughly ludicrous claim—the claim that a majority of public school students are living below the poverty line.

That last assertion is crazily wrong. But it seems to be building up steam.

We seem to be building a tribal stockpile of phony statistics and facts! And as we push our bogus claims, we disappear many real statistics which have real implications for important progressive interests—the rise in test scores of American kids being a prime example.

We liberals! As it turns out, we aren’t especially smart and we aren’t especially honest. Almost surely, this helps explain why nobody likes us.

Beyond that, it helps explain why right-wing narratives continue to drive the national discourse in a wide range of policy areas. We tag along behind the McDonoughs, even when they’re peddling piddle which everyone secretly knows to be false. This brings us back to the various things Patricia Arquette said.

As far as we know, Patricia Arquette is a good, decent person. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she helped found GiveLove.org, a public interest organization. To visit its web site, click here.

That said, Arquette has been a movie and TV star since 1987. She’s been breathing highly rarified air for a very long time.

Being a star isn’t always good for children and other living things. We may have detected a hint of this syndrome in the televised speech in which Arquette accepted her Oscar as the year’s best supporting actress.

To read her full statement, click here.

Let’s just put it this way—Arquette betrayed few hints of false modesty in her acceptance statement. She said her children are “the deepest people” she knows. The painter with whom she’s living is “a genius,” she said.

Her various friends “all work so hard to make this world a better place.” In our favorite formulation, she praised the volunteers and experts “who have helped me bring ecological sanitation to the developing world.”

Maybe she didn’t mean it that way! And one might say that these are the things a person says at such moments. At any rate, this brings us to the policy statement which concluded Arquette’s speech, a statement for which she was roundly criticized in the days which followed:
“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
According to Arquette, “we women” have “fought for everybody else’s equal rights.” On that basis, she said “it’s our time” to have “wage equality once and for all.”

As people around the world could see, these declarations brought Meryl Streep right up out of her chair! Still and all, Arquette’s statements on this topic were strikingly murky.

What exactly did Arquette mean when she advocated “wage equality?” There was no real way to know from her statement. Later, her remarks at a backstage press conference made things no more clear.

What exactly did Arquette mean when she called for “wage equality?” At Salon, McDonough dragged out the 77 cents on the dollar claim. It’s a very familiar claim, which is also bogus.

Alas! As we pseudo-liberals have begun building our brave new discourse, we've increasingly trafficked in such claims, in much the way Rush and Sean have always done. Even Arquette, with access to experts and geniuses, didn’t seem especially skilled at explaining what she meant.

Did she mean that she supports equal pay for the exact same work? Very few people oppose that principle—and our liberal leaders spend lots of time creating factual confusion around the topic.

Was Arquette perhaps referring to a different situation—to the large income gap which obtains between men and women? In a society with many households headed by single women, this constitutes a genuine point of concern.

Is that what Arquette was referring to? We have no real idea, and no one is going to ask.

Was Arquette perhaps referring to a third situation? Was she referring to the income gap which obtains between male and female movie stars?

A bungled discussion of this topic briefly occurred in the wake of the Sony email thefts. Forgive us if we briefly wondered if that was the type of “wage equality” which brought Streep out of her chair!

Based on Arquette's backstage remarks, that doesn’t seem to be the type of inequality she had in mind. What was she talking about? Backstage, she offered these comments:
ARQUETTE (2/22/15): It is time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is, the older women get, the less money they make. The more children—the highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households.

It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t—one of those superior court justices said, two years ago, in a law speech at a university, we don’t have equal rights for women in America, and we don’t because when they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women.

So the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface there are huge issues that are at play that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women, and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for, to fight for us now.
Patricia Arquette is an actress. No one should expect her to be an expert on this subject, or on any policy matter.

That said, Arquette continued to speak, in murky ways, about the topic she had chosen to discuss. We were left with these questions:

Outside Hollywood, is it true that women earn less money as they get older, in some way which distinguishes them from men? We have no idea, and in our experience, this point is rarely discussed.

Is it true that “the highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households?” We would assume that this is true (although it too is rarely discussed). This speaks to the income gap between women and men which we already mentioned.

What does Arquette think we should do about that income gap? We pseudo-liberals rarely discuss this topic. Instead, we waste everyone’s time, and burn everyone’s brains, with pleasing claims in which women are paid 23 percent less for doing the same work as men.

Once we’ve made this bogus claim, our work for the day is done.

Alas! Thanks to our own unimpressive work, public discussion of this issue rarely advances beyond that bogus claim. Conservatives know our claim is wrong. In this way, wedges widen.

Patricia Arquette didn’t seem prepared to lead this discussion this night. Gack! The “superior court justice” to whom she referred seemed to be Antonin Scalia, who actually sits on the Supreme Court.

(The distinction is without a real difference. Unless you’ve noticed that our public discussions are often driven by people who seem to have little idea what they are talking about.)

For many years, our public discussions were driven by Rush and Sean. They promulgated bogus claims. Everyone else tagged along.

Increasingly, our own “liberal” public discourse is conducted the same darn way. We thrill the troops with bogus claims, as McDonough did the morning after. As we push these claims, we brush past important facts and important topics which affect the material well-being of those on the left and the right.

We thrill ourselves with our own bogus claims. As we do, wedges harden.

Just a guess! The plutocrats are thrilled to the bone when they see our leaders perform in these ways. Tomorrow, we’ll look at what progressive professors and journalists said about Arquette’s remarks.

In our view, Arquette wasn’t massively sharp this night. But oh, what kind of discussion is this, which goes from bad to worse?

Tomorrow: Instant division within the tribe, with complaints which were sometimes quite accurate!

Supplemental: What Patricia Arquette said!

MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2015

The fuller text of her statements:
Patricia Arquette spoke two times on Oscar night.

Below, you see the full statement she made as she accepted her Oscar. To watch the speech, click here:
ARQUETTE (2/22/15): Okay, Jesus. Thank you to the Academy, to my beautiful, powerful nominees.

To IFC, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, Cathleen Sutherland, Molly Madden, David DeCamillo, our whole cast and our crew. My Boyhood family, who I love and admire. Our brilliant director, Richard Linklater. The impeccable Ethan Hawke. My lovelies, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater.

Thomas and Paul, thank you for giving me my beautiful children. Enzo and Harlow, you’re the deepest people that I know.

My friends, who all work so hard to make this world a better place. To my parents, Rosanna, Richmond, Alexis and David.

To my favorite painter in the world, Eric White, for the inspiration of living with a genius. To my heroes, volunteers and experts who have helped me bring ecological sanitation to the developing world with GiveLove.org.

To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.
GiveLove.org is Arquette’s public interest org. To visit its web site, click this.

That last paragraph in Arquette’s speech launched a thousand ships. This part of her backstage press conference launched about ten thousand more:
ARQUETTE: It is time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is, the older women get, the less money they make. The more children—the highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households.

It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t—one of those superior court justices said, two years ago, in a law speech at a university, we don’t have equal rights for women in America, and we don’t because when they wrote Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women.

So the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface there are huge issues that are at play that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women, and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for, to fight for us now.
To watch that statement, click here.

How should progressives have responded to that? There is no single answer, of course.

More on this topic tomorrow.

THE CALIBER OF OUR OWN DISCOURSE: It happened one night!

MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2015

Part 1—Patricia Arquette speaks:
Our young analysts were crying even before she was done.

We had let them stay up late to watch the Oscars broadcast. Midway through the glamour-strewn evening, Patricia Arquette was honored as Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Arquette was being honored for her performance in Boyhood, a very unusual film. Along with everyone else in the “Boyhood family,” she had worked on the project over the course of twelve years.

You’d think a person in that position might want to say something about her “art.” Like other Oscar winners this night, Arquette didn’t go there.

Instead, she offered a jumbled statement about an undefined aspect of an actual social concern—a social concern which may or may not exist, depending on what Arquette was talking about.

Arquette closed by saying this. Already, the youngsters were crying:
ARQUETTE (2/22/15): To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.
Meryl Streep shot out of her chair as Arquette spoke these inspiring words. Meanwhile, we support wage equality too! So why were the analysts crying?

Sagaciously, they understood that Arquette’s speech would inspire bollixed presentations like the one shown below. The very next morning, Katie McDonough was talking the talk for the new Salon:
MCDONOUGH (2/23/15): According to a breakdown of median weekly salaries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gender pay gap is consistent across fields. Disparities between men and women’s earnings exist in all but seven of the Bureau’s 600 listed occupations. Men who drive buses, prepare meals in cafeterias, run companies and watch your kids, on average, make more money than women who do the exact same work.

A quantitative analysis from the Government Accountability Office also found that the pay gap persisted between men and women even after factoring in part-time work and women working fewer hours or taking time off after they have children or when a family member falls ill. So Arquette is right about the pay gap being very, very real and badly in need of correcting.

But take a closer look at the gap and you’ll find that the numbers often used as shorthand—women earning 77 cents on the dollar—isn’t reflective of the much starker wage gap faced by women of color. Black women who work full-time year round, on average, earn 64 cents on the dollar, and Latina women earn just 54 cents.
From reading that, a person would think that women earn 77 cents on the dollar, as compared to men, for “doing the exact same work.”

As far we know, no expert in this field, including the “liberals,” actually makes that claim. But this has become a standard claim in our liberal tribe. This explains why the analysts cried.

We live in a very surprising time. Recent flaps concerning the Oscars help illustrate this point.

We live in a time when we in the liberal world have begun inventing fake facts and phony statistics, in much the way the “conservative” world has done for these many long years.

Our journalists may push these fake facts; so may our ranking professors. Hollywood actors will often enlist for the drive to advance our tribe’s bollixed story lines.

And alas! As we liberals push our fake facts, we often direct our gaze away from various actual facts—actual facts which might help us advance important progressive interests. These swirling trends were on display before, during and after last Sunday’s Oscar broadcast.

All week long, we’ll look at some of the bogus facts our tribe now seems to enjoy. We’ll also consider important real facts we tend to disappear and ignore.

We’ll review the work of some of our leading professors. We’ll look at the work of our tribe’s journalists. We’ll consider the caliber of our own discourse, the discourse which is emerging from within our own liberal tribe.

After Arquette spoke on stage, she went backstage and spoke about wage equality some more. She took big hits from observers on the left for some of the things she said in that second statement.

Many of those complaints had merit; some were perhaps overstated. All our work on the left isn’t flawed—but we’re easily divided and conquered!

For many years, Rush and Sean were the biggest clowns in show. It isn’t clear that that is the case any more.

Over here within our own liberal tribe, we’re doing some horrible work of our own. We find it hard to believe that this widespread conduct serves progressive interests.

Tomorrow: There are at least three different types of “wage inequality,” of “wage or income gap.”

Which of the three did Arquette have in mind? What brought Streep out of her chair?

Supplemental: Who in the world is Emma Brown?

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2015

Concerning the ongoing promulgation of our many fake facts:
Emma Brown is an education reporter for the Washington Post.

It’s hard to believe how bad an education reporter she is. And what about her unnamed editors? What role do they play in this mess?

We refer to Brown’s latest bungled news report. It stretches across the top of page B1 in today’s hard-copy Post—the first page in the paper’s Metro section.

This report helps answer an important question: Where do bogus facts come from? Headline included, this is the way Brown starts:
BROWN (2/28/15): Suburbs’ increasing poverty a challenge for schools

The District and dozens of other city centers across the country are becoming younger, more affluent and better educated while poverty rates in inner suburbs are rising, according to a study from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The study is based on an analysis of demographic changes in 66 cities between 1990 and 2012. It follows research that has shown a rise in suburban poverty, including a recent Brookings Institution study that found that more Americans are living in poverty in the suburbs than in rural or urban areas.

This sweeping demographic shift has clear implications for public schools in the Washington area and nationwide. Student populations are changing in traditionally high-performing suburban school systems, and superintendents and school board members are wrestling with how to adequately serve the rising number of poor children who come to class with far more needs than their affluent peers.

“This is the new reality in America,” said Joshua P. Starr, the newly departed superintendent of the Montgomery County school system, which, despite its reputation as a tony suburb of the nation’s capital, has more low-income students than the District of Columbia. The amount eligible for free and reduced-price meals, a rough proxy for poverty, has risen from 29 percent to 35 percent just since 2009.
That passage strings together a bunch of claims, many of which may be accurate, at least on a technical basis.

Example: Does “the Montgomery County school system” actually have “more low-income students than the District of Columbia?”

Maybe! The Montgomery County Public Schools is one of the nation’s largest school systems. That said, the DC Public Schools reports that 76 percent of its students received free or reduced-price lunch last year.

According to the passage above, the corresponding number in Montgomery County is 35 percent. And according to our statistical bureau, that would be a whole lot “less” than 76 percent!

Whatever! We were mainly struck today by Brown’s continued insistence on a claim that is basically false—the claim that eligibility for free and reduced-price meals is “a rough proxy for poverty.”

At best, that claim is wildly misleading. More sensibly, it should be described as false.

That said, education reporters at the Post seem to adore this bogus claim. For reasons only they can explain, they just keep advancing this claim, along with a group of attendant false facts.

Let's take a look at the record:

Is eligibility for the federal lunch program “a rough proxy for poverty?” Yes it is, in much the way a solid C average is “a rough proxy” for being a straight-A student.

In fact, eligibility for the lunch program extends to families whose incomes are roughly twice the federal poverty rate. And by the way, participation in the program isn’t the same thing as eligibility:

The FBI isn’t called in to monitor this program! There are plenty of kids receiving free or reduced-price lunch who don’t actually qualify for the program, based on their actual family income.

No, Virginia, and Montgomery County! Students don’t have to be living below the poverty line to qualify for the federal lunch program.

Eligibility for the lunch program isn’t a measure of poverty; it isn't anything close. If 35 percent of Montgomery County students are receiving free or reduced-price lunch, then the poverty rate among those students is much lower than that.

There’s nothing confusing about these facts. Surely, everyone at the Washington Post secretly understands them.

But so what? A wide array of pseudo-journalists, mostly on the pseudo-left, are now pretending that participation in the lunch program is a measure of poverty. For unknown reasons, the Washington Post has been leading the way in the promulgation of this latest bogus fact.

For unknown reasons, the Post just won’t stop with this stupid shit. Brown’s incompetence is especially striking, given her academic background.

Brown graduated from Stanford in the year 2000. Two years later, she got an MAT in teaching from the University of Alaska.

In 2009, she got a master’s degree in journalism from Cal Berkeley. She’s been a reporter at the Post more than five years.

By the norms of the society, Brown has received an elite education. But so what? Today, Brown tells readers of the Post that eligibility for the federal lunch program is “a rough proxy for journalism.”

She never tells them just how rough this “proxy” actually is!

As the Post keeps pushing this formulation, it keeps spewing streams of ludicrous fake facts. This includes last month’s ludicrous claim that more than half the nation’s public school students are currently living in poverty.

That claim appeared on the Post’s front page.
Needless to say, it’s balls-out false. For our real-time report, click here.

Editors at the Washington Post keep waving this crap into print. It’s another example of the way fake facts become widely believed.

Can we talk? College students don’t describe their female professors as “bossy.” Also, participation in the federal lunch program isn’t a measure of poverty, “rough” or otherwise.

If memory serves, Tina Turner always “liked it rough.” So do scribes at the Washington Post when it comes to measures of poverty. In the past, bogus factual claims of this type typically came from the pseudo-right. Increasingly, they now come from the pseudo-left, a point we’ll discuss all next week.

Who the heck is Emma Brown? Why is she typing this manifest bullshit?

What role do her editors play in this mess? Does the Post still employ such workers?