BREAKING: A time of turmoil and chaos!


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!


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!


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!


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.


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!


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!


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!


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:

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.


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!


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!


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.

WEAKER APART: These (white) millennials today!


Part 2—Carol Leifer's joke:
In the past few days, we've found ourselves thinking about Carol Leifer's joke.

In our view, it wasn't one of her better jokes, but it did score with audiences. We're going back to the 1980s, when Carol—according to the leading authority on her life—was well on her way to her total of 25 Letterman spots.

Carol was a very nice person and a very successful comedian. We refer to her joke about throwing the ball for the dog—rather, about pretending to do so.

The protagonist of Carol's joke would pretend to throw the ball, then skillfully hide it. He or she would howl with laughter when the dog raced off, in complete confusion. We've been thinking about the punchline, which went something like this:

How far down the evolutionary scale do we have to go to find someone we can feel superior to?

We'll guess that Carol's wording was tighter. But we've been thinking of that joke—and of Tim Russert's interview.

The interview to which we refer took place in 1999. Four years later, writing for Slate, Jack Shafer said Russert got beaten:
SHAFER (7/2/03): One-time grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and permanent white-supremacist nut job David Duke beat Russert badly in March 1999, when he appeared on Meet the Press during his Louisiana campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives. Unable to stick it to Duke with his time-proven techniques, Russert sputtered, steamed, and almost boiled over.
In real time, other pundits didn't think that Russert had been beaten that day. In his selection of a guest, he'd gone all the way down the scale to Duke, who he proceeded to savage, pound, assail and slam for his abhorrent views.

When we think of that interview, we think of Leifer's joke. If we recall correctly, Russert was widely praised by other pundits for the way he'd defeated Duke. But then, Russert was always widely praised, no matter what he did.

(Not necessarily his fault! Based on our own few interactions with Russert, he too was a very nice person.)

It isn't hard to pretend to throw a ball and get your dog confused. Similarly, it isn't hard to find the shortcomings in the worldview of someone like Duke, former top dog of the Klan.

Within the American context, it's amazingly easy to spot the flaws in his histories of 1) the Ku Klux Klan and 2) the German Third Reich. It's so easy to spot these flaws that even our pundits can do it.

This has led to several days of active "virtue signalling" on the part of this hardy band. As they take turns assuring us that they disapprove of Klansmen and Nazis, they also take turns assailing Donald J. Trump for the fact that he maybe, possibly, pretty much just perhaps doesn't feel the same way.

Our many pundits have stood in line to engage in this "virtue signalling." We aren't real impressed by their noble displays.
Here's why:

How far down the scale do you have to go to get to Donald J. Trump? It isn't hard to find the tiny small imperceptible flaws within the conduct of his life. But then, something else isn't hard to find:

It isn't hard to find the disgrace in the way our reporters and pundits, and their corporate owners, agreed to go easy on Trump, and make money off Trump, pretty much every step of the way.

The people who signal their virtue today rolled over and died in real time. There was lots of money to make from interviewing Candidate Trump—and from failing to make him angry, guaranteeing that he would come back for many future guest spots.

For these reasons, the reporters, pundits and TV stars largely rolled over and died. Why had this peculiar fellow made himself king of the birthers starting in 2011? Despite their signals of virtue today, these hustlers agreed not to ask.

In this and a hundred other ways, they helped smooth Trump's way to the Oval.

(Other ways? When Comey launched his first attack in July 2016, he was praised for two nights on the Maddow Show, then never mentioned again. When Trump's main birther enabler, Greta Van Susteren, got hired at MSNBC, a certain major cable star told her fans that they should watch Greta's new show because of her journalist greatness. She even said that she and Greta were regular drinking pals! Meanwhile, Susan Rice is still under the bus from 2012, when Benghazi scripts were being created, in part thanks to the total silence from These Corporate Liberals Today. The people who played the game this way are signalling virtue today.)

Today, these people are signalling virtue. They've found a message so simple and pleasing that even they can repeat it.

That said, we think you should be very unhappy with all this easy group virtue. You don't have to be very high on the scale to see that Nazis and Klansmen are perhaps a bit less than ideal. When our "thought leaders" signal their virtue this way, we're all very low on the scale.

In this, our main report for the week, we'd planned to engage in a largely technical venture. Tomorrow, we'll start to follow through with some of what we'd planned, but events in Charlottesville have taken a bit of precedence.

That said, the virtue signaling has been general in our press corps this week. And uh-oh! Aside from the Nazis and the Klansmen, no one is taking it on the chin quite like these (white) millennials today.

These millennials today! Last week, an analysis piece for the Washington Post appeared beneath this eye-catching headline:
Think millennials are woke? A new poll suggests some are still sleeping on racism.
Just this once, we'll be honest. As we reviewed the results of the survey in question, we didn't see any way to determine whether some, many, all or even a few millennials are still sleeping on racism, whatever that might turn out to mean.

That headline grabbed eyeballs, but it didn't seem smart. Then this morning, Bam! Here, readers—have another:
White millennials are just as racist as their grandparents
That headline appears above a new column by Catherine Rampell in that same Washington Post. These millennials today! They got hammered again!

We can't say that today's headline captures the overall gist of Rampell's column. That said, she does cite a survey, late in her piece, which is alleged to say something like that. Tomorrow, we'll examine what "survey says."

For today, we'll only say this: someone at the Washington Post seems to like eye-catching headlines. Those headlines excite our tired blood, and they may seem to signal virtue.

Those headlines may suggest moral greatness. But again and again in the past few days, we've had the feeling that we are observing a great deal more signal than virtue.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the survey Rampell cites. Thursday, we'll plan to return to the starting point we defined in yesterday's award-winning post.

Tomorrow: The professors posed a question. Did their question make sense?

North Korea hasn't ceased to exist!


Mike Mullen, asked and answered:
Events in Charlottesville have largely pushed North Korea off the center of the cable and broadcast news maps.

That said, North Korea hasn't ceased to exist. With that in mind, we call your attention to Mike Mullen's assesment on yesterday's Meet the Press.

From 2007 through 2011, Mullen was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Yesterday, he voiced concern about the rhetoric used by Donald J. Trump in the past week or so.

This led to a question about rationality. Presumably, Todd was discussing the rationality of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, though he didn't explicitly say who he was asking about.

Our own supreme leader has been engaging in "fire and brimstone" rhetoric which "looks like brinksmanship," Mullen said. Here's what he went on to say about their supreme leader:
TODD (8/13/17): Jim Clapper, former director of national intelligence, he says essentially the notion of North Koreans denuclearizing is just—I think he called it a non-starter. And he essentially says it's time to accept the notion that they're going to be a nuclear regime, and we kind of have to move on from that. Do you accept that?

MULLEN: I don't accept that yet. I recognize that as an option or an outcome, and certainly there is a, there is a—one option is to accept that, and then contain him.

Obviously, the concern you would have with that is somehow, he has this weapon. And he is still somewhat of an unknown to us, and unpredictable, and someone that we can't in any way, shape or form predict.

TODD: Do you think he is rational? Do you think he's a rational actor?

MULLEN: No, I don't think he is rational.

TODD: You don't think he's rational.

MULLEN: No, he's got a— I don't think he's a rational actor. He's got a rich history in his family, the legacy to uphold. He is on a race to gain this capability. Much different from his father or his grandfather in terms of developing capability. He is on a flat-out sprint to develop this capability and then see what happens.
We're assuming that the highlighted exchange was about Kim Jong-un.

We don't know if Mullen is right in his assessment of Kim. But in Mullen's apparent view, our supreme leader has been engaged in "almost a fire and brimstone" type of "brinksmanship" in the rhetorical realm, while their supreme leader "may not be a rational actor."

This topic moved off center-stage this weekend. Perhaps our leader will get distracted. But the basic situation is still very much there.

Charlottesville: "Hate only engenders more hate!"


The mother and the thought leader:
Susan Bro's daughter was killed this weekend.

Her daughter's name was Heather Heyer. At the age of 32, she was killed in Charlottesville, apparently due to a lunatic act by James Fields, age 20.

In this morning's Washington Post, two reporters describe an interview with Bro about her daughter's killing. At one point, Bro joins the forces of moral greatness when she discusses Fields:
SILVERMAN AND LARIS (8/14/17): Every time Bro closed her eyes Saturday night, the tears would come. When she couldn't sleep, she tried busying herself doing laundry. "Who does laundry when their child's died? That's all I could do," she said.

Despite her pain, Bro said she doesn't want people to hate Fields. It isn't what her daughter would have wanted, she said.

"Our daughter did not live a life of hate, and hating this young man is not going to solve anything. . . . It's not that I think he should go unpunished for his crime. But hate only engenders more hate, and there's no purpose in hate," Bro said. "Heather's life was about—passionately about—fairness and equality and caring, and that's what we want people to take away from this."
"Heather's life was passionately about caring. That was the mother's reaction. It recalls the reactions of some of the Charleston families in the wake of the murders in 2015 by Dylann Roof, who had just turned 21.

The astounding reactions of those families produced amazement and admiration all over the world. In yesterday's interview, Heather Heyer's mother joined their number.

A major journalist reacted in a quite different way this weekend. He recommended this unwise twitter thread, in which a group of youngish people seemed to be applauding the possibility of violent revenge.

Before we link you to that thread, let's think about Fields for a minute. This front-page profile in today's Post describes his own family background.

His father was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1997, five months before he was born. On his mother's side of the family, his grandfather murdered his grandmother, than committed suicide, in 1984. This murder-suicide occurred when Field's mother was 16 years old.

An uncle offers more information, and speculates a bit:
SHAPIRO (8/14/17): Fields, he said, grew up mostly in Northern Kentucky, where he had been raised by a single mother, Samantha Bloom, who is a paraplegic. The uncle, who saw Fields mostly at family gatherings, described his nephew as “not really friendly, more subdued.”

Fields joined the Army in late in the summer of 2015 but was on active duty for less than four months, according to online records from the Defense Department. It was unclear why he served so briefly.

“The what-ifs,” the uncle said. “What could’ve been—you can’t answer questions like that. There’s no way of knowing if his life would have been different if his father had been around.”
When we read about such matters, we tend to think of a song which was popular in certain circles when we ourselves were 20.

The song is There but for Fortune. It was written by Phil Ochs, most famously sung by Joan Baez.

When we read about stories like that, we often think of the fact that our grandparents didn't die in a murder/suicide when our mother was 16. Our father wasn't killed by a hit and run driver before we were born.

We don't know what might have made Fields commit the act of which he's accused. But we tend toward the old ways in such matters, toward the worldview called "bleeding-heart liberalism."

Heyer's mother tends toward the world of moral greatness. To borrow a phrase from Eugene Genovese, it's largely, within the American context, an artifact of "the world the [enslaved people] made."

Globally, it's largely an artifact of Mandela and Dr. King, by way of Ghandi—and by way of what the young Dr. King repeatedly referred to as "the love ethic of Jesus."

That love ethic was revolutionary because we humans don't instinctively function in the ways it recommended. This fact is being played out in various ways at this time.

Yesterday, we clicked a link in this post by Josh Marshall and perused that twitter thread. The twitter thread concerned a different 20-year-old who was present in Charlottesville this weekend.

We thought Josh showed very poor judgment in recommending its tweets, which he seemed to find heroic, fitting and just.

When we read that twitter thread, we thought of The Mortal Storm, the fascinating 1940 (fictional) film about the rise of Hitler youth. We thought about what happened to China when a large cadre of its younger, unwise people helped stage The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

We thought about Lord of the Flies. We thought about the most remarkable passages in Dr. King's first book, Stride Toward Freedom.

We also thought about one of our favorite speeches from film—the speech in On the Waterfront in which the character played by Eva Marie Saint speaks to the Marlon Brando character on behalf of the basic tenets of bleeding-heart liberalism.

We'll review that speech, and that twitter thread, in the next few days. We thought the instincts on display in that thread were thoroughly "human, all too human" and also deeply unwise.

For today, we'll recommend Susan Bro to the world. We think Marshall gave his readers some amazingly poor advice. So it goes as the world continues to turn and we work, inevitably, to become more like the people we like to say we despise.

WEAKER APART: Seeing the glass a tiny bit empty!


Part 1—These alleged millennials today:
"Stronger together," Candidate Clinton repeatedly said.

In our view, it was a pretty good slogan. In some ways, it was a version of her husband's earlier campaign watchword:

"We don't have a person to waste."

One candidate won, one candidate lost. Each time, we agreed with the outlook.

That said, to what extent are we the people "together" at this juncture? More specifically, to what extent do we tend to share views on the most sensitive "social issues," on matters of gender and race?

Asking the question a gloomier way, to what extent have we been torn asunder on such issues? More specifically, to what extent do Those People hold retrograde views Over There, as opposed to the principled outlooks found in our own liberal tents?

In recent years, we liberals have tended to develop a gloomy, and perhaps misleading, reflexive approach in these areas. We're strongly inclined to see the glass a few percentage points empty, even when the glass in question seems to be largely full.

Did Clinton say we're "stronger together?" Again and again, it seems we liberals may be inclined to prefer "weaker apart." We seem inclined to stress relatively small amounts of difference, as opposed to larger degrees of agreement. We especially tend to adopt this stance when it lets us denigrate The Others, the lesser folk found Over There.

Alas! Even when The Others largely agree with our own spectacular views, we're inclined to focus on much smaller degrees of difference. In our view, this impulse was played out last week in a pair of intriguing pieces, one at the New York Times, one at the Washington Post.

To what analysis pieces do we refer? One was written by Nicole Lewis, a member of the Washington Post's Intern Class of 2017. The other was written by Professor Vavreck, a contributor at the New York Times' brainiac Upshot blog.

In our view, a familiar type of alarmism seemed to guide each effort. We think our tribe could improve its game by reviewing the preconceptions which seemed to be in play at each piece.

For today, let's start at the Washington Post, where Nicole Lewis, the intern in question, discussed These Millennials Today. We thought our tribe's instinct toward gloom was on display right in the eye-catching headline, which Lewis orobably didn't write:
Think millennials are woke? A new poll suggests some are still sleeping on racism.
Are some millennials "still sleeping on racism?" Depending on how you make your assessment, "some" almost certainly are! Presumably, some always will be!

Presumably, there will never be a time when someone fails to be completely "woke" in such complex and difficult areas. An analysis of such matters becomes helpful only when it tells us how many such people we're talking about, and when it tells us to what degree such people remain un-woke.

No doubt, that headline was meant to grab the eyeballs of Post readers. We're assuming the headline was written by a Post editor, not by the intern who wrote the actual piece.

That headline was meant to startle us with a suggestion about These Racist Millennials Today! It did so in the reflexively gloomy way our tribe prefers in these areas.

That said, to what extent are different groups of millennials fully "woke" on race? As we'll note tomorrow, we thought Lewis betrayed a strong instinct to see the glass a tiny bit empty, rather than largely full.

Specifically, she seemed to say that different groups of millennials differed substantially on matters of race. As she engaged in this familiar reflex, we thought she skipped past the most intriguing data in the survey she reviewed.

Meanwhile, we saw no evidence that any group was less than substantially "woke." We saw nothing which would explain that eye-catching, pleasing headline.

Over at the New York Times, Professor Vavreck was exploring a slightly different question. In these highly partisan times, she wanted to know if we the people even agree on what it means to be an American!

"[T]he 2016 election made clear that there isn’t universal agreement on what it means to be an American," she somewhat vaguely, and rather gloomily, said. (Her piece appeared in Saturday's hard-copy Times.) She went on to frisk the views expressed by members of various groups concerning the importance of immigration status, knowledge of English, ancestry and religion.

In our view, the professor's analysis seemed a bit gloomy—and she seemed inclined to place her thumbs on familiar scales. Almost as if by rule of law, she found that Those People, the ones who voted for Donald J. Trump, hold "exclusionary conceptions of American identity" on the basis of their answers to a set of survey questions.

She focused on the (relatively minor) degree to which responses by Trump voters differed from responses by other groups. She referred to the "stark differences" between Trump voters and these various groups, downplaying the fact that their answers agreed with those of the other groups in much larger measure.

Lewis is a Washington Post intern; Vavreck is a professor at UCLA. Despite their differences, we were struck by the degree to which each seemed inclined to overlook substantial points of agreement between different groups among us, the people.

The instinctive creation of Us and Them! It has always been one of our strongest human inclinations. Again and again, we liberals tend to picture the world in this gloomy manner.

We liberals! Are we disinclined, at this point in time, to take yes for an answer? Are we inclined to shun stronger together in favor of weaker apart?

Tomorrow: The data on these sleeping and woke millennials today!

ENDLESS SUMMER: Inconvenient history lesson!


Kakutani at war:
Even as we summered in chic southern Maine last week, we continued to behave like award-winning citizens.

In that role, we watched the bulk of CNN's hour-long "Town Hall on Climate Change," which aired last Tuesday night.

Anderson Cooper's guest for the hour was Al Gore. We were impressed by what we saw, and also somewhat saddened.

We were very much impressed by the continuing depth of Gore's knowledge. It seemed to equip him to discuss every topic which arose.

Within our impoverished pseudo-discourse, you rarely see a politician, or anyone else, display so much knowledge of any subject. We were very much impressed by the way the much-maligned Gore has kept up.

We were saddened when we compared the remarkable state of Gore's knowledge to the array of ludicrous claims which have steadily emerged from the current occupant of the Oval Office, a fellow named Donald J. Trump.

Gore didn't get there, but Donald Trump did! How in the world did that happen?

Long ago and far away, Candidate Gore didn't get there. Last Tuesday night, he displayed an endless array of knowledge about the onrushing endless summer he first discussed in detail in his widely-praised 1992 book, Earth in the Balance.

As someone who knew Gore when he was a teen, we were impressed by the depth of his knowledge. But alas! As we start measuring icebergs in terms of which state they most resemble, we also felt fairly certain that this knowledge will be of little use, that it's too late to avoid the summer which will drown significant parts of the world.

Upon our return to our sprawling campus this week, we've tried to clean our desk of certain topics we hadn't quite gotten around to discussing.

Today, that takes us to this recent piece in Slate, in which one of the youngsters cheekily explored the possibility that Michiko Kakutani, the long-time New York Times book critic, is “the stupidest person in New York City.”

For background, see Thursday's report.

News flash: rather plainly, Kakutani isn't that "stupidist" person, or anything dimly like it. The youngster at Slate was just having some fun with the silliness and snark which now helps define the silly worldview of the new, younger end of the guild.

In the course of enjoying her snark, the youngster listed six reviews for which Kakutani has been name-called down through the years. We were struck by the dog of war which didn't bark—by the absence of the worst review Kakutani ever wrote, a review the snarky youngster at Slate has almost surely never heard of.

Kakutani has been a Times book critic for 34 years. What was her worst review?

It's a piece she wrote at a time of war. It's this lengthy front-page piece from November 1999, in which Kakutani reviewed the books of five White House hopefuls. That included the aforementioned book by the aforementioned Gore.

Briefly, let's be specific. In the strictest sense, this wasn't exactly a review of Earth in the Balance, which had received a rave review in the New York Times when it actually appeared, seven years earlier.

Kakutani's front-page piece was a retrospective on several candidates' books. In the course of the lengthy piece, she devoted about 800 words to Gore's now-ludicrous tome.

Why was Gore's widely-praised book now so silly and stupid? Because, dearest darlings, a war was now on! We refer to the war against Candidate Gore which that well-intentioned youngster at Slate has quite likely never heard mentioned.

In the main, this war was being conducted by the upper-end mainstream press—by the Washington Post and the New York Times—not by the "right-wing noise machine." It was, for example, being conducted by the hiss-spitting columns of Maureen Dowd, who had just been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her work on Miss Lewinsky.

Kakutani has been described as "one of Dowd’s circle of extremely close female friends at the New York Times." There's nothing wrong with that, of course—until you read the 800 words in question.

When Gore's book appeared in 1992, it had been hailed as a masterful, highly knowledgable work. We'll offer you links below.

That was then—but this was now. Now, it was 1999, and Candidate Gore was being chased all around by the mainstream press corps. Rather plainly, this was happening because he was seen as the press corps' last shot at the reviled Bill Clinton, who had escaped impeachment in February of that very year.

The following month, Gore had announced that he was running for president; a poisonous war had started up within days. By late November, the war would be expressed in the first paragraph Kakutani composed about Gore's now-ludicrous book.

It had been a critically-praised best-seller. Now it was peddled like this:
KAKUTANI (11/22/99): Vice President Al Gore emerges from ''Earth in the Balance'' (Plume), his 1992 book about the environment, as the quintessential A-student who has belatedly discovered New Age psychobabble. Like his speeches, his book veers between detailed policy assessments (predictably illustrated with lots of charts and graphs) and high-decibel outbursts of passion, between energetically researched historical disquisitions and loony asides about ''inner ecology'' and ''spiritual triangulation''—asides that may help explain his curious affinity with his feminist consultant, Naomi Wolf.
Gore's book was now marked by its "loony asides," loony asides which may help explain "his curious affinity" with his feminist consultant, who was being trashed all over the press corps that month in a savage, misogynistic orgy which every good liberal chose to permit and many good liberals helped author.

Gore's book was now marked by its loony asides—and, of course, by its "psychobabble," along with its "high-decibel outbursts of passion." You may as well know that, at this point, the upper-end press corps was building themes which questioned the mental health of Gore, so strange were the many misstatements they were pretending he had made, so suspicious were they of his "affinity" for that good-looking feminist consultant.

In 1992, Earth in the Balance had been described as a work of erudition. Now, it was a compendium of looniness and outbursts of passion, some of which may have involved his curious affinity for "that woman, Ms. Wolf."

Astonishingly, Brian Williams was asking, night after night, why Gore was wearing those polo shorts, which seemed to be some sort of troubling sexual signal to female voters. The lunatic Matthews was asking lunatic questions about Gore's extremely troubling three-button suits, and about his troubling status as "today's man-woman."

Meanwhile, Wolf was being slimed within an inch of her life. How could you tell the conservative press from the mainstream press at this point? In the conservative press, you were allowed to say that Gore might be having an affair. In the mainstream press, you were only allowed to suggest it, as Kakutani kinda sorta maybe possibly did.

Ten days after Kakutani's worst review graced the Times' front page. the newspaper's Gore reporter, Katharine "Kit" Seelye, joined forces with the Post's Ceci Connolly to invent the latest troubling misstatement by Gore—a savagely ballyhooed alleged misstatement which was, in point of fact, a flat-out misquotation of what Gore had actually said.

Some high school students proved that fact. Our star reporters quickly got busy, finding a way to ignore them.

This is the war which was underway when Kakutani's worst review appeared. The slightly snarky youngster at Slate has likely never heard this.

Why has that youngster never heard? Because of the code of silence! Because of the agreement by the Dionnes, the Alters, the Chaits and the Marshalls that the history-changing events of this war must never be discussed.

This war was staged by the upper-end press, not by the right-wing machine. People like the ones we've named earn their glorious lucre within that guild, whose conduct must not be discussed.

We discussed Kakutani's worst review in real time (links below). In 2007, we discussed it in more detail. For today, we'll only say this:

In the course of her 800 words, Kakutani managed to mention Naomi Wolf on three (3) separate occasions! Wolf had nothing to do with Gore's book, and she wasn't an environmental adviser. But Wolf was the focus of the War Against Gore during that astonishing month. Kakutani, on page one, chose to take part in that death-dealing war, which was breathtakingly stupid.

People are dead all over the world because the Dowds, the Riches, the Kakutanis behaved in this prehuman fashion. Between their work and the code of silence, the dumbing-down of the American discourse picked up a great deal of steam.

This was Trumpism long before Trump. It was Matthews who was name-calling Hillary Clinton at this juncture, not the talented builder. This early Trumpism played a vital role in creating the world we now inhabit—a world in which Gore was too "loony" to go to the White House, but Candidate Trump was thoroughly enabled, by your favorite corporate liberal stars, until it was much too late.

That kid at Slate has never heard this. The generation preceding her has kept her barefoot and clueless.

The endless summer Gore discussed is now bearing down upon us. On the brighter side, Trump is about to start a war as a way of changing a hundred such subjects.

Last night, a certain major cable news was busily selling the car. She told us to pop some popcorn so we could watch "the great Joy Reid" filling in for Lawrence, followed by "the great Brian Williams."

We're quoting what she actually said. And yes, it's the very same Brian Williams, the one who obsessed about Gore's deeply troubling shirts. Meanwhile, on The McLaughlin Group, Lawrence was still pimping Gore as a liar in October 2000! People are dead all over the world because these idiots did this.

We thought Gore was impressively knowledgeable last Tuesday night. But hustlers like that unnamed star don't notice such things, and that well-intentioned youngster at Slate has never been told how we got here.

Kakutani's worst review appeared on page one of the Times. People are dead all over the world, with millions more to follow.

Their deaths will come in Donald Trump's war, which may help him rid himself of that meddlesome special counsel. After that, their deaths will come in the endless summer your cable stars largely ignore. It's not entertaining enough!

Make no mistake. In large part, this is an artifact of our corporate liberal world. As part of the cultural dumbing-down which let Donald J. Trump ascend to office, that youngster at Slate has never been told these things.

Because of her elders' code of silence, she likely hasn't heard the first word. Because she's a good person who's still rather young, she's likely to see endless summer.

Visit our incomparable archives: In real time, we discussed Kakutani's worst review in a four-part series.

To state the obvious, we were talking to the hand! At any rate, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/1/99. After that, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/2/99.

Early in 2007, Gore's documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, was about to win an Oscar. We revisited Kakutani's review, offering examples of the way Gore's book had been reviewed when it appeared in 1992.

We were talking to the hand! At any rate, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/23/07. Scroll down to "Special report: Global dumbing!"

That kid at Slate has never heard this. What happened in the msm has stayed in that guild's gruesome heads.

The basic skills of our upper-end press!


Do such skills exist:
We feel completely sure that Nicole Lewis is a good decent person.

She's also part of the "Intern Class of 2017" at the Washington Post. On that basis, we wouldn't necessarily expect as much of her as we would of an experienced upper-end journalist.

Lewis written an interesting analysis piece for the Post. It appears beneath this provocative headline:

"Think millennials are woke? A new poll suggests some are still sleeping on racism."

We think the piece is larded with interesting analytical shortcomings. That said, we'd say the shortcomings land on the head of Lewis' editor more than on Lewis herself.

We expect to review that piece next week. That said, how weak are the analytical skills of our upper-end journalists?

Those skills often seem remarkably weak. Consider today's Here to Help feature, on the reimagined page A3 of the New York Times.

We found the piece quite puzzling. It appears beneath this headline:
Here to Help
Reducing your carbon footprint when flying? That sounds like a good thing to do! That said, for better or worse, here's how the text begins:
Here to Help

Take one round-trip flight between New York and California, and you've generated about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases that your car emits over an entire year.
If you're flying, you're adding a significant amount of planet-warming gases to the atmosphere—there's no way around it. But there are some way as to make your airplane travel a bit greener:
Does that opening passage make sense? The problems seem to start rather quickly. Let's commence with this:

If you take a commercial flight from New York to California today, will you be adding a lot of planet-warming gases to the atmosphere? Assuming the plane was going to go whether you were on it or not, it seems to us that you aren't exactly adding any gases to the atmosphere at all.

Eventually, the feature seems to come to terms with this apparent fact, at least in a tiny way. In terms of carbon emissions, "it's certainly better to fly cross-country than to drive solo," the feature helpfully says.

Before long, though, we'll have to admit, Here to Help had us baffled. We found ourselves puzzled by this:
Fly coach
According to a study from the World Bank, the emissions associated with flying in business class are about three times as great as flying in coach, and a first-class seat could have a carbon footprint up to nine times as big as [sic] economy one.
Say what? "A first-class seat could have a carbon footprint up to nine times as big as [an] economy one?"

We have no idea what they're talking about. Nor did they bother explaining.

Of course, we could always fire the Google machine and peruse that World Bank study, which seems to be located here. But it seems to us that isn't the way a Here to Help feature should work.

That piece by Lewis is fascinating, in large part for what it doesn't notice about the data it reviews. More on that piece next week. But unless it's familiar script you seek, we're going to say that Lewis' editor did a very poor job.

For the record, Here to Help features exist in the hard-copy Times alone. This morning's carbon footprint confusion recommends no specific link in the on-line paper if you feel you need extra help.

We felt we needed a lot more help. But as with the prophets of old in the desert, no one was there to help us out, to hear our pitiful cries!

SUMMER ASSIGNMENT: The basic logic of information!


Part 5—Trump Junior's famous meeting:
What role does information play in our national discourse? Consider the chatter on cable news, just last night.

Again and again and again and again, we saw Donald J. Trump pounded for his allegedly stupid remark about the way Putin helped the federal government by barring 755 employees from American embassies in Russia.

Allegedly, Trump had made a stupid remark. Perhaps sardonically, he'd said the firings will help the federal government save some money on payroll.

Everyone saw how stupid that was, since the employees who came home would stay on the federal payroll.

It's a minor point, but the jibe against Donald J. Trump was repeated all over MSNBC and CNN. Since transcripts haven't yet appeared from last night, we'll offer an early version of the critique from yesterday afternoon's MTP Daily.

Chuck Todd spoke with Daniella Gibbs Leger of American Progress:
TODD (8/10/17): Here's the president's response to the decision by Russia to expel U.S. diplomats. Here's the president.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have any response to the Russian president expelling 755 workers from our embassy?

TRUMP: No, I want to thank him because we're trying to cut down on payroll. And as far as I'm concerned, I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll.

TODD: Well, that was obviously a little tongue in cheek statement, because last time I checked, I don't think these diplomats are actually, were going to stop getting paid. But Daniella—

GIBBS LEGER: Was it "tongue in cheek?"

TODD: I don't know. OK, you`re right! Literally or seriously!

GIBBS LEGER: Yes, I mean, who knows? Maybe he actually thinks that once Putin expelled these people, who apparently worked for Putin, in the way that he phrased that, they don't get paid anymore. You just don't know with this president.
Last night, all over cable, Trump was trashed for stupidly thinking that the people Putin expelled would no longer be getting paid. It made a wonderful talking point on MSNBC and CNN.

That said, does information matter? In this morning's New York Times, Peter Baker, an experienced Russia hand, reported this set of facts:
BAKER (8/11/17): As of 2013, the latest year that numbers are publicly available, 1,279 people worked at the United States Embassy in Moscow and at American consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. The vast majority of those who will lose their jobs are Russian nationals, not American diplomats, who will be brought home. Assuming the current force is about the same, Mr. Putin’s order will require a nearly 60 percent reduction.
"The vast majority of those who will lose their jobs are Russian nationals?"

Presumably, that means the U. S. government actually will be saving payroll, just as our perspicacious president said. Apparently, most of the expelled employees aren't actual "diplomats," or so Baker seems to have said.

This is a minor point. Within the current "fire and fury" context, it's completely trivial. That said, this topic was discussed all over cable last night, with Trump being trashed for his remarkable dumbness.

We have no idea if Trump understood the basic facts of the case. We certainly wouldn't assume that he did. But if Baker's apparent statements are accurate, it's fairly clear that our legion of cable pundits didn't understand the basic facts here either, almost two weeks after the expulsion order occurred.

What's the role of facts and information in our national discourse? For many years, we've told you that information plays a remarkably limited role—that our national discourse is, increasingly, narrative all the way down.

Routinely, our pundits tell us pre-approved stories in which the facts have been massaged. Given the spread of partisan news orgs, they tend to embellish, invent and disappear facts to tell us the stories we like.

Is that the role of information in our national discourse? As a summer logic assignment before the start of classes this fall, let's return to the recent discussion of that now-famous meeting at Trump Tower, the meeting Trump Junior agreed to hold with the now-famous Russian lawyer.

Let's use that event to think about the logic of information.

Civilized people have all agreed—Trump Junior shouldn't have agreed to hold that now-famous meeting. Yesterday, we cited a column by Ruth Marcus in which she expressed this view quite strongly, partly because Marcus herself is perfectly sane and bright.

Should Trump Junior have held that meeting? As she opened her column, Marcus offered an unqualified answer: No!

For our summer logic assignment, we want you to ponder Marcus' reason for reaching tht judgment. Assertive hard-copy headline included, this is the way she began:
MARCUS (7/16/17): The. Meeting. Was. Not. Okay.

Every week—nearly every day—brings fresh, stomach-churning evidence of President Trump's unfitness for office. The latest may be the most revolting.

Confronted with incontrovertible proof that his son leapt at the prospect of meeting with a "Russian government attorney" offering to dish dirt on Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support" for his candidacy, the president took the position that this was political business as usual.

His first public reaction, in an interview with Reuters, was that "many people would have held that meeting." The next day, Trump ratcheted up that astonishing assertion, from "many" to "most," asserting, "I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. . . . Politics isn't the nicest business in the world, but it's very standard."

No. It. Isn't.
Marcus employed a wealth of periods to assert that the famous meeting just. wasn't. okay. For your summer logic assignment, we want you to ponder the theoretical role of information, then tell us if Marcus was right.

Please note! Marcus quickly put her thumb on the scale as she tried to stampede her readers. She said that Trump Junior was promised "dirt" if he held the meeting in question.

In fact, the email, from a music publicist, had promised him "information." Therein lies the logical rub.

Donald Trump Junior was told, by a publicist, that he could receive "information" from a "Russian government lawyer." As it turned out, the lawyer may not, strictly speaking, have been a government lawyer. Beyond that, we have no way of knowing if Trump Junior assumed she actually was.

But for the sake of our rumination, let's assume the worst! Let's assume that a Russian government lawyer told Trump Junior, through an intermediary, that she had information to share.

We're told that Junior should have said no to the information. For ourselves, we're not sure why.

Please note! Marcus made little attempt to justify or explain her judgment, which she seemed to hold quite strongly. How strongly did she hold this view? Soon, she was saying this:
MARCUS: [T]his meeting was unacceptable. It was not even in the exurbs of appropriate. Hard to believe this really requires spelling out, but apparently it does, so here goes: A candidate for president of the United States and his campaign have no business, none, trucking with an emissary of a foreign government peddling incriminating information about their opponent.

That this meeting was explicitly described as an element of a Russian plot to influence the U.S. election is icing on an already repulsive cake. That the target of this feeler—the candidate's son—embraced such meddling rather than recoiling from it only adds to the sordidness of the episode.

And that the intended beneficiary, now the sitting president of the United States, is unable and unwilling to accept that fact should be chilling to every patriotic American.
According to Marcus, the meeting was unacceptable, astonishing, not even dimly appropriate. It was sordid, chilling, repulsive and revolting.

Needless to say, it's possible that Marcus could be shown to be right. But as she "spells it out" in this passage, the only thing she really does is heighten her invective.

That said, she did use the word "information." Therein lies the rub!

If this Russian lawyer actually had some information, what exactly would have been wrong with receiving it? Why should Trump Junior, or anyone else, refuse to receive this product?

Should Junior have refused the chance to receive alleged information? As part of our summer rumination, let's imagine scenarios which may have played out had Junior failed to read his email that day from that music publicist:
Other scenarios involving information:
The Russian lawyer comes to D.C. and rents the National Press Club. She makes a speech revealing the information in question. C-Span tapes the whole thing!

The Russian lawyer writes a column in The Hill revealing the information.

The Russian lawyer appears on Morning Joe, where she shares the information with Willie.

Vladimir Putin gives a bare-chested U.N. speech. He reveals the information.
In those four ways, the information, if it existed, could have been made public. Let's assume that one of those scenarios had occurred:

Should the Trump campaign, and American newspapers, have ignored the information because it came from a Russkie? Because that certainly isn't the way our big newspapers actually act!

Last summer, Marcus' own Washington Post bathed itself in stolen information (stolen emails), even when the stolen emails contained no worthwhile information at all.

(That wasn't Marcus' fault. For the most egregious example, click here. Don't let your children watch.)

If that's the way the Post itself acts, why should Trump Junior have refused possible information from the Russian lawyer? Why should he, or anyone else, refuse information at all?

In her column, Marcus made little attempt to answer this question. Others have imagined undesirable scenarios which might imaginably have followed the meeting in question, but we're asking a simple theoretical question:

Assuming we know what information is, why should anyone ever refuse to receive it? If the same information had been offered by a Canadian lawyer, would it have been okay to accept it then?

(Obviously, any such alleged "information" could turn out to be trivial or bogus. Our question is: why should someone refuse the chance to find out? Why should they refuse to use information if it turns out to be accurate and relevant?)

Please understand: for ourselves, we've long complained about the way our politics is increasingly driven by "incriminating information." We'd much prefer that the national discourse focus on policy questions, not on assessments of character. (In our view, the mainstream press has shown little skill at making such assessments.)

That said, our upper-end press corps, and our politicians, largely traffic in such approaches. If a campaign is offered some such information, why should they refuse to accept it, when newspapers love it so much?

Last night, our cable corps trafficked in a story line in which they seem to have bungled their facts. No one is going to care about that, one way or the other. Why should Trump Junior, or anyone else, refuse the possibility of acquiring actual facts?

We've often said that facts and information play little role in our national discourse, or in the world of our mainstream press. In this instance, they screeched and howled about the very idea of seeking information.

If that Russkie lawyer actually had some real information, what would have been wrong with Trump Junior receiving it? We sometimes wonder if our major journos, who may be bots, understand the very concept of "information."

Our summer logic assignment involves that rather basic concept. Before returning to school in the fall, we'd like you to ponder this, in small groups:

Someone offers you information. Before you know what it may be, why would you want to refuse it?

When is information forbidden? When are you supposed to take a hike on receiving facts?

Tomorrow: Endless summer/Kakutani's review

More about those expelled employees: In the past two weeks, we'd been wondering why our Russians embassies have so many employees in the first place.

We never saw anyone explain it on cable. Baker explains today.