The GOP tax plan's "working-class roots!"

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2017

Deference to propaganda at the Washington Post:
We've encountered some excellent work in the past twenty-four hours.

On last night's Hardball,
Joy Reid did an excellent job listing the particulars of Donald J. Trump's apparent authoritarianism.

(For ourselves, we know of no reason to assume that Trump won't achieve a successful putsch, given the way the nation has been tribalized, in large part on our own liberal team's watch.)

Reid didn't labor alone. In this morning's New York Times, Shanita Hubbard offers a superbly sane-and-balanced account of growing up female in (New York City's) public housing, sexual harassment-wise. We rarely see such analytical humanity and sanity.

We'd also recommend this:

In his weekly post for New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan offers a fascinating account of the role testosterone plays in our lives. We can't evaluate Sullivan's science, but he opens the door toward a fuller discussion of the stories of harassment and assault which are suddenly being told, after eons of silence.

We recommend all that work! We'd balance it against Rachel Maddow's groaning account, last Monday night, of the state of the chase after Vice President Pence; with her incompetent account of the Alabama Senate results, offered two nights later; and with the front-page report on the GOP tax plan in today's Washington Post.

We hope to discuss Maddow's presentations next week. Especially given her branding as our most brilliant progressive voice, her program's gross incompetence only becomes more and more striking.

For today, though, let's ponder that front-page report in the Washington Post, in which we're absurdly told that the current GOP tax proposal evolved from an initial proposal which featured "working-class roots."

Where do they get these people? The Post report carries the bylines of four different reporters. A fifth reporter "contributed." Presumably, an editor was involved.

With that many cooks preparing the broth, did no one recoil from the sheer absurdity of this ridiculous passage?
PAIETTA ET AL (12/16/17): Many of the changes made late in the negotiations would benefit businesses and the wealthy, but Rubio’s last-minute demands pulled the package back a bit more toward its working-class roots.
Rubio's intervention pulled the bill "back...toward its working-class roots?" Except as a nod to GOP propaganda, that is, of course, an utterly foolish remark.

Except within the realm of GOP propaganda, this proposal never had any significant "working-class roots." Earlier in their report, the scribes had suggested something different through this muddle-mouthed overview:
PAIETTA: The bill was originally pitched as a sweeping tax cut for the middle class, but it changed over the course of several months as Republicans demanded a variety of alterations.
Please note the muddle there! As they start, the scribes only say that the bill was "pitched"—that is, was peddled or pimped—"as a sweeping tax cut for the rich." But then, when they say it was "changed" from its original form, they make it sound like that "original pitch" was an accurate account of the bill before it was changed.

That was the scribes' original overview of the tax proposal. Later, they made their absurd reference to the way the bill has recently been pulled back "toward its working-class roots."

How absurd is that representation? As they continued from there, the reporters described some of the various ways the bill has been altered of late. In this, their fuller passage, note the elements which existed in the original bill:
PAIETTA ET AL (12/16/17): Many of the changes made late in the negotiations would benefit businesses and the wealthy, but Rubio’s last-minute demands pulled the package back a bit more toward its working-class roots.

Republicans had proposed to expand the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, but the benefits formula they’d planned to use would have capped it for many low- and moderate-income families at $1,100.

[...]

Many of the changes to the tax code that Republicans initially sought were dialed back or removed.

They had proposed allowing multinational companies to bring cash held overseas back to the United States at a 12 percent tax rate, but they raised the rate to 15.5 percent in the final agreement as a way to generate more revenue.

They opted against imposing taxes that would have hit graduate students, and they did not strip away tax benefits for families who adopt children.

They had proposed to eliminate the estate tax and the alternative-minimum tax for individuals,
but those changes proved too costly, and the final plan would exempt more families from these taxes but not get rid of them.
To what extent did this bill have "working-class roots?" To what extent were "the changes Republicans initially sought" aimed at us lumpen and proles?

To this extent: The GOP had initially proposed taxing graduate students! They'd also proposed "strip[ping] away tax benefits for families who adopt children."

Initially, they proposed eliminating the estate tax altogether, and also the AMT! They'd proposed a 12 percent tax rate for multinationals bringing money back into the country.

And not only that! They were so fixated on helping the working man or woman that their proposal would have expanded the child care tax credit by only $100 for many low- and moderate-income families, while wealthier families got more. Plainly, their initial bill had been a working-class dream!

Citizens, please! Whatever you think of the final proposal, the GOP never proposed "a sweeping tax cut for the middle class." The original bill's "working-class roots" were non-existent, except within the realm of disingenuous GOP sales pitches—that is to say, within the realm of propaganda.

Except within that familiar realm, this plan was always aimed at the rich—but so what? This morning, five reporters and an editor couldn't stop themselves from borrowing from that propaganda as they muddied their account of this multivariate plan.

Originally, the plan was so heavily aimed at the working class that it aimed to eliminate the estate tax altogether! This is the logic which prevails when mainstream, upper-end reporters feel the need to bow to GOP propaganda.

Their initial overview passage was skillfully muddled; their later passage was a ridiculous sham. So it goes when mainstream reporters feel the need to give power its due.

We want you to see what Rachel said about the Russia probe last Monday night. We want you to see her technical bungling in Wednesday night's report.

We think liberals need to see how bad the work tends to be on that show. That said, we thought this morning's front-page report deserved to be given preference.

In a classic knee-jerk reaction, propaganda was given wide berth in today's report. That said, budget matters have been presented this way for decades now. This helps explain why our tax code is a joke; why our health care spending is characterized by looting on a remarkable scale.

Five reporters and an editor couldn't help themselves! Anthropologists say this may be the best our limited species can do.

Where do Official Group Stories come from?

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2017

Times hails "black voter surge:"
Anthropologically speaking, where do Official Group Stories come from?

They come from the internal hard-wiring of a profoundly faulty species. That said, to watch on Official Group Story spread, consider this news report in today's New York Times.

John Eligon's report advances a current Standard Story. In hard copy, the report appears beneath his pleasing headline:
Win in Alabama Shows Muscle of Minority Voters
Is that what Doug Jones' win over Roy Moore shows? Maybe yes, maybe no; we'll offer some data below. But here's the passage where Eligon recites the Official Story—where he pleasingly says we saw a "black voter surge" this week, reciting script as he goes:
ELIGON (12/15/17): Many people have long felt that Democrats come around during election time asking for their votes, but then do not fight for the issues that matter most to them, several political operatives said. They have also expressed concern that Democratic spending on minority communities was not commensurate with the loyalty that they show to the party. An analysis three years ago found that 98 percent of the money the major Democratic committees spent on consultants went to those who were white.

The eight Democratic organizations with budgets of at least $30 million last year all had white leaders, according to Steve Phillips, an activist and fund-raiser. Mr. Phillips also found that of the first $200 million that independent Democratic groups allocated during last year’s presidential election, none of it went to mobilizing black voters.

Some say they are seeing the beginnings of a shift, after black voter surges in Virginia and Alabama.

About 30 percent of the electorate in the Alabama Senate race was black, according to CNN exit polls,
making the black share of the vote in that election higher than it was in both of Barack Obama’s presidential victories. Mr. Jones won 98 percent of the votes among black women and 93 percent among black men.
Is that accurate? Was there a "black voter surge" in Alabama this week?

Anthropologically speaking, let's note the way Eligon toys with elementary facts to tell us The Current Official Group Story:

In support of his pleasing claim, Eligon starts by saying this: "About 30 percent of the electorate in the Alabama Senate race was black, according to CNN exit polls."

Inevitably, Eligon has rounded up. CNN's actual number is 29 percent.

After turning 29 into 30, Eligon makes another pleasing claim. He says this "mak[es] the black share of the vote in {Tuesday's] election higher than it was in both of Barack Obama’s presidential victories."

That simply isn't true. According to the exit polls from those prior elections, the black share of the Alabama vote was 29 percent in 2008 and 28 percent in 2012. This year's number matches 2008, beats 2012 by one point.

Already, Eligon has made a flatly inaccurate statement. In the larger sense, by withholding the previous exit poll data, he produces a grossly inaccurate picture of the overall reality.

In fact, black turnout as a percentage of the overall vote was almost exactly the same in those three elections. Eligon goes on to say this:

"Mr. Jones won 98 percent of the votes among black women and 93 percent among black men."

That's true, though exit poll data are drawn from samples and are therefore subject to error. That said, Jones' share of the black vote is very similar to the percentages Obama received. Here are the numbers from each year's exit poll:
Percentage of black vote received in Alabama
Obama 2008: 98 percent
Obama 2012: 95 percent
Jones 2017: 96 percent
There's little to choose among those three numbers. Black turnout was roughly the same each year as a percentage of the state. So was the percentage of the black vote received by the Democrat.

If those facts are true, why did Jones win this year, while Obama never came close? Answer:

Mainly because of a change in the way white Alabamians voted. Here are the relevant numbers from the three elections to which Eligon referred:
Percentage of white vote received in Alabama
Obama 2008: 10 percent
Obama 2012: 15 percent
Jones 2017: 30 percent
The biggest difference in this year's election involved the way white voters voted. Jones swept the black vote, as Obama did before him. But he did substantially better among the (much larger) white vote.

Where do Official Standard Group Stories come from? In this particular case, we can't answer that question. (As a general matter, they come from our deeply flawed human desire to dream up the stories we like.)

We can answer these questions:

Was there a "huge black turnout" this year, as a Washington Post headline said? Was there a "black voter surge," as Eligon has claimed?

It's hard to know why you'd want to say such things except from a desire to push an Official Preferred Group Story. Concerning that huge voter surge, the number of black voters in these four elections looks like this:
Total black turnout, Alabama
2008: roughly 609,000
2012: roughly 581,000
2016: roughly 595,000
2017: roughly 390,000
We're not sure why you'd want to call this year's turnout "huge," given those previous turnouts.

In fact, many fewer black Alabamians voted this year, as compared to the numbers who voted in those previous elections. What makes this year's turnout "huge?"

We're also not sure why you'd want to say that this year's turnout constituted a "surge." Again, this is the percentage of the statewide vote cast by black Alabamians:
Black vote as a percentage of total vote, Alabama
2008: 29 percent
2012: 28 percent
2016: 28 percent
2017: 29 percent
Why would you say that a "surge" occurred this year?

In fact, black turnout was way down this year; white turnout was down a bit more. To the extent that there was a "surge," it occurred among the (sharply reduced) number of white voters who did turn out. They gave Jones 30 percent of the white vote, two to three times as much as Obama got.

(There were no Alabama exit polls in 2016. There is no number for Candidate Clinton's percentage of the white vote.)

Anthropologically speaking, Homo sapiens is the species which like to make stupid sh*t up. Once somebody makes some story up, tribal minions all stampede off to repeat it.

Eligon is one of those hacks. As liberals, do you ever get tired of being talked down to like this by a bunch of silly people on "cable news" and at the New York Times?

Was there anything "wrong" with black turnout this year? Well actually, yes, there maybe was, unless you think that 40 percent, give or take a few points, is a sensible turnout rate when your state is about to send a total crackpot lunatic to the United States Senate.

Overall turnout was 40 percent! Black turnout was sad; white turnout was worse.

Afterwards, somebody dreamed up a story. We're really "defining democracy down" when we brag about this year's turnout.

At any rate, we liberals all began to recite. Anthropologically speaking, we're wired to do sh*t like this.

We've behaved this way for many years. Today, we have Donald J. Trump in the White House. Are you happy with how this has worked?

Alabama exit polls: To access the exit polls, click as shown. There were no Alabama exit polls in last year's Trump-Clinton election:
2008 exit polls

2012 exit polls

2017 exit polls

ANTHROPOLOGY NOW: Where do group misstatements come from?

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2017

Part 2—Drum asks, anthropologists answer:
Kevin Drum asked a good question this week, even if in overwrought and selective form.

His question appeared in the headline which sat atop a recent post. The question he asked was this:
Do Republicans Believe Their Own Lies?
In one way, there we went again! If a person believes an inaccurate statement, then, of course, his or her misstatement isn't a "lie," if we're all still speaking English, which we frequently aren't.

That said, Drum was asking a very good question—though his question applies to Democrats, liberals and journalists as well as to Those People.

In a nutshell, Drum's question starts with this accurate observation:

We often see members of political groups repeating standard misstatements. The statement in question is factually false, but it gets repeated over and over again.

That's the background. Drum's question is this:

When people repeat a standard misstatement, do they believe the inaccurate claim they're making? Or do they actually know that the statement in question is false?

Given the times in which we live, Drum restricted his excellent question about this syndrome to Republicans. In particular, he correctly noted that Republicans commonly make a misstatements about the way Obamacare—the ACA—first passed into law.

How did Obamacare pass into law? Did it pass the Senate under "reconciliation," requiring just 50 votes? Or did it pass with a real majority as defined by Senate math, with 60 votes out of a hundred?

In fact, it passed with 60 votes. The leading authority on the matter tells the story like this:
On December 23, [2009,] the Senate voted 60–39 to end debate on the bill: a cloture vote to end the filibuster. The bill then passed, also 60–39, on December 24, 2009, with all Democrats and two independents voting for it, and all Republicans against (except Jim Bunning, who did not vote).
Despite this history, Republicans routinely claim that Obamacare slithered through with just 50 votes. Drum was wondering if Republicans really believe this inaccurate statement, or it they're simply lying when they make this claim.

We took his question to a panel of anthropologists. Thoughtfully, they explained the way the minds of our failing species work.

Not unlike the lemming, they said, members of the species known as Homo sapiens are strongly inclined—"hard-wired" even—to work in groups. Even worse, we're inclined to divide ourselves into rival groups—Us and Them, or perhaps skins and shirts or even Nike and Reebok—and to battle things out from there.

We tend to acquire our beliefs from the sachems of our tribal group. If we hear the sachems say X, Y or Z, we minions will start to repeat it.

Typically, these scientists told us, the minions will in fact routinely believe the various claims they are making, The minions will rarely fact-check the statements they hear from tribal leaders and then from other tribal minions.

As a general matter, they will assume their own tribal claims are correct, and that the tribal claims of The Others are wrong. Or at least, so these scientists said.

These scientists panted a gloomy picture of the way our species works. You can forget all that "rational animal" crap, one of them hotly said, brandishing a supersized rum toddy.

That said, their presentation turned even more gloomy when they offered some current examples of the way this hard-wired system works. They pointed to the current claim that a "huge black turnout" decided Tuesday's Senate election. Incredibly, they also pointed to some bogus statements made just this week on The Rachel Maddow Show!

Liberals hear Rachel make these claims, these scientists said, and they are strongly inclined to assume her claims are accurate. Soon, minions start to repeat her claims. As a general matter, liberals believe these false or highly misleading assertions, according to these scientists.

These anthropologists were painting a gloomy picture of the way our species works. That said, we fact-checked the claims from the Maddow Show and saw that the scientists were right.

It was much as the anthropologists said. This bullsh*t works this way Over Here as well as among The Others!

We'll take you through Maddow's recent misstatements in the next day or so. That said, we'll suggest that you consider another deeply destructive example from the recent past.

We refer to the widely bruited claim that Candidate Al Gore said he invented the Internet. Within the upper-end mainstream press corps, minions repeated this claim for twenty straight months, helping send Candidate Bush to the White House, where he launched a disastrous war.

The journalists' claim that Gore made that statement is extremely hard to sustain, these scientists told us. By normal standards, the scientists said, the journalists' ubiquitous claim should be scored as false.

Despite this fact, journalists kept repeating their claim from March 1999 through through November 2000. Some of them even put the word "invented" inside quotation marks, though Gore had never used it!

Almost surely, many of these journalists believed the assertion they were making, the anthropologists surmised, since they'd seen their sachems make it.

Many journalists did believe their guild's inaccurate claim, the scientists said—but some of them likely did not.

Drum was asking a very good question about the way our species works. Because we live in tribal times, he may have seemed to suggest that his excellent question only applies to The Others.

In fact, a wide array of major groups parade about the countryside repeating bogus claims. Bees do it; birds do; even educated D's do it. They fall in love with favored claims which may, in fact, be false.

As a biological species, we're strongly inclined to fall in love with our tribal claims and assertions. Anthropologically speaking, we aren't especially strongly inclined to ask if these statements are true.

Our documentary film, Anthropology Now, will be coming to movie palaces soon.

"I love the smell of misstatements in the morning?" Many people from many groups will implicitly make that statement in this award-winning film.

Still coming: Weaponizing moral claims. Also, the sounds of silence

Full disclosure: On July 20, 1958, we were present in Fenway Park when Bunning pitched his first no-hitter.

Only ten years old at the time, we sensed he was up to no good.

Diagnosing Omarosa!

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2017

What these nitwits are like:
Omarosa Manigault is one of our less significant persons.

That said, the children love to gossip and talk about her. In the end, this is what these corporate nitwits are actually like.

This morning, Morning Joe opened with several embarrassing minutes in which Mika snarked, smirked, gossiped, clowned and side-eyed about Omarosa. Joe wasn't in his seat yet.

Eventually, we may be able to offer a transcript of this embarrassing mess. That transcript may help you see what these nitwits are actually like, though sighs and eye-rolls aren't recorded in such documents.

Later in the program, Mika and Yamiche devoted five minutes to this utterly pointless matter. To watch them stage their parody of human behavior, you can just click here.

Last night, on CNN,
Don Lemon and (mainly) a pair of guests embarrassed themselves for roughly ten minutes as they gossiped about Omarosa. This is very much who these corporate employees actually are. Also, this is a major part of our deep national problem.

The children like to gossip and play! As a matter of anthropology, this has been, and will continue to be, a route to national and global disaster.

ANTHROPOLOGY NOW: "Fictitious times!"

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2017

Part 1—The mental styles of a species:
Long ago and far away, a certain famous fellow named Moore made his greatest statement.

"We live in fictitious times," the famous fellow said.

We aren't referring to Roy Moore, the craziest candidate yet. We aren't even referring to Roger Moore, of 007 fame.

We aren't referring to either Wes Moore. We're referring to filmmaker Michael Moore, who made his insightful statement during his unruly speech at the 2003 Oscars.

Moore's film, Bowling for Columbine, won for Best Documentary. We thought of his statement this very morning as we thumbed through the Post and the Times.

As we did, we imagined another documentary film—a film called Anthropology Now. This film would explore the mental styles of one animal species, our own, the species called Homo sapiens.

Anthropologically speaking, major elements within this famous species tend to seek out, and create, Moore's "fictitious times." Scientifically speaking, we especially think of the specimens described as upper-end journalists.

Live and direct from Alabama, Professor Wilson has helped us see that the social behavior of ants is a great deal like that of our own famous species.

Like ants, our species' professional journalists are strongly inclined to work in groups. Behaving in neatly choreographed ways, they tend to produce novelized versions of public events, thereby helping to create Moore's "fictitious times."

Is it time for a documentary called Anthropology Now? For our money, press coverage of the just-concluded Alabama Senate campaign was one of the most interesting recent press events.

Anthropologically speaking, the journalists displayed a wide array of their most basic predilections as they covered, or pretended to cover, this high-profile Senate campaign. According to scientific observers, those predilections were these:
Hard-wired predilections of the species in question:

1) An endless desire to talk about sex and various sexy-time topics;

2) A potent desire to avoid discussing "matters of substance;"

3) A powerful inclination to produce false, embellished or misleading claims to help create novelized stories about favorite topics;

4) A powerful inclination to focus on irrelevant facts, or to disappear relevant facts which undermine such stories;

5) A strong inclination to pursue and promote the individual's career self-interest at the expense of normal truth-telling or reporting behaviors.
Do we live in fictitious, novelized times? Does Moore's Dictum still hold true, even when the fictitions and the novelized stories have been designed to serve "progressive" interests andends?

Scientists tell us the answer is yes! Having received that assurance, we saw novelization and fictitous claims all over this morning's press. We thought of the need for a feature film, a film called Anthropology Now.

Our misery started with the opening minutes of Morning Joe, in which the children staged a remarkable display of hiss-spitting and gossip. Since producers have had the good sense to drop those embarrassing minutes from the videotape they've posted, we'll move ahead to some of the more striking fictitious claims and novelized presentations.

Good lord! Opening the Washington Post, we were met by this headline:
Democrats see hope for 2018 in huge black Ala. turnout
In fairness to Weigel and Scott, they never claimed, in their report, that there was a "huge black turnout" is Alabama this Tuesday. Apparently, this novelized claim was the work of a headline editor.

In fairness to this species member, he or she was trying to drive a story line designed to serve progressive interests. But as those scientists assured us, such good intentions don't necessarily mean that a pleasing claim is sensible or true.

Was there any such "huge turnout" this Tuesday in Bama? Today, we're able to look at fuller numbers concerning Tuesday's turnout.

Below, we'll show you basic turnout data from Tuesday's Senate election, along with the corresponding data from last year's presidential election.

Was there a "huge black turnout" on Tuesday? The numbers look like this:
2016 Alabama election:
Total votes cast: 2,123,372
Percentage of total votes cast by blacks: roughly 28%
Total votes cast by blacks: roughly 595,000

2017 Alabama election:
Total votes cast: 1,346,147
Percentage of total votes cast by blacks: roughly 29%
Total votes cast by blacks: roughly 390,000
Let's think about those numbers:

Last year, 595,000 black Alabamians turned out to vote. This Tuesday, 205,000 fewer black Alabamians turned out, in a high-profile election.

By the norms of many western democracies, last year's turnout rates around the nation were sparse. Are we perhaps "defining democracy down" when we describe Tuesday's turnout as "huge?" Are we possibly making a claim which is novelized and maybe misleading?

Anthropologically speaking, such questions don't arise! As you will see everywhere you look, our mainstream journalists have agreed that they will tell that heartwarming story, full and complete anthropo-freaking stop!

Given the wiring of our species, you're going to see that story told, in various misleading/inaccurate ways, again and again and again and again in the next few days. As ants are programmed to work together in building the anthills in which they will live, our journalists are programmed to work together in telling the stories they like!

Over the course of the past five weeks, the journalists agreed to view the Bama Senate race through a particular lens. Perhaps somewhat strangely, they focused on aspects of Roy Moore's sexual and/or social behavior from forty years ago.

In the course of telling the story this way, they tended to avoid discussions of Moore's crazy behavior and ludicrous statements as a public official in the past twenty-five years. On cable, they focused on this somewhat peculiar topic even as they tended to ignore the impending passage of a major "tax reform" bill.

Republican tax scams took a back seat. Roy Moore's dating in the 1970s came first!

According to major anthropologists, this group behavior no longer seems strange when we consider the hard-wired impulses of the species in question. As noted above, Homo sapiens is wired to display "an endless desire to talk about sex," along with "a potent desire to avoid discussing 'matters of substance.'" Throw in that "powerful inclination to produce false, embellished or misleading factual claims to help create novelized group stories" and you start to understand this passage from Margaret Sullivan's feel-good column in this morning's Post:
SULLIVAN (12/14/17): Enough voters—especially black voters—decided that they believed the highly credible accusations against Moore. They voted their consciences, and in some cases went against their own voting histories, putting a Democrat in office in ruby-red Alabama.

What did it mean?

“There are standards. There are limits,” was how Jake Tapper put it minutes after CNN called the race for Democrat Doug Jones.

He was talking about voters’ reactions to the harrowing stories of sexual misconduct that four women told The Washington Post in mid-November—that Moore, as a man in his 30s, had preyed on teenage girls and, in one case, molested a 14-year-old, Leigh Corfman.
Scientists will call attention to Sullivan's (and Tapper's) inclination to present a highly simplistic, "feel-good" story in which, by one percentage point, right has conquered wrong.

That said, they'll call special attention to Sullivan's account of that initial report in the Washington Post. They'll cite her account as an example of the species' tendency to embellish, misstate and mislead.

Is it true? Did the four women in that original Post report make "accusations against Moore" in which they told "harrowing stories of sexual misconduct?"

Today, that stands as Sullivan's account of her own newspaper's famous report. But how accurate is that account?

Without any question, it's reasonable to say that Leigh Corfman told such a story in that Post report. But how about Gloria Thacker Deason, another of the four women?

Deason said she dated Moore for several months when he was 32 and she was 18, then 19. (She was a college student.) She said her mother felt that Moore was "good husband material." She told the Post that "their physical relationship did not go further than kissing and hugging."

Was that "a harrowing story of sexual misconduct?" Was it an "accusation" at all?

Don't even ask! According to major anthropologists, Sullivan's species is programmed to see Deason's story as such within the extremely narrow warrens of their tribal "ant hills." So too with the story told by Debbie Wesson Gibson, who said that Moore kissed her twice during the several months when they dated, once again with her mother cheering the relationship on.

Did Gibson tell "a harrowing story of sexual misconduct?" Within the anthill, yes, she did, these anthropologists tell us. Professor Wilson failed to respond to a request for comment, though we feel entirely sure about what he would have said.

Is it possibly time for a film named Anthropology Now? We picture Michael Moore standing over the Washington Post, making some such wry observation as, "I love the smell of bullsh*t in the morning."

Would such a documentary sell? Almost certainly not, the anthropologists say. The particular species under review has always loved embellished stories, especially tales about sex.

Meanwhile, back at the press corps:

As the children fretted about past kisses, they largely ignored Roy Moore's ludicrous conduct as a public official. "Too boring," their editors reportedly said.

Especially on "cable news," they pushed coverage of that Republican tax bill way down the list of topics. Last night, they had to obsess about Omarosa before they could rush through such fare.

That said, they've behaved this way for decades now. This helps explain the ludicrous budget and health care systems under which the American people labor. Such problems may seem pretty minor to corporate "cable news" millionaires!

The scientists point to other recent phenomena. That sprawling report in yesterday's New York Times about test scores in Chicago?

It will go completely unmentioned by liberals, the scientists insist. According to these anthropologists, these liberals aren't wired to care.

That confession of twenty years of self-serving silence offered by Dahlia Lithwick at Slate? "Liberals will praise her for her 'courage,' " the scientists quickly predicted, even before such comments began appearing on-line.

Gail Collins' silly cite of the latest script,
in which Senator Heroine was in Bible class when Donald J. Trump so horribly slimed her? "They're going to eat that pap with a spoon," one wry scientist said.

In our next few reports, we'll continue to outline the structure of this major new film. We'll especially focus on the silences which surround so many current news topics—the sounds of the silent generations who have, again and again and again, chosen not to speak in service to their careers.

Is the time right for Anthropology Now? The long, dumb history of "fictition" says the answer is no.

Our species has always loved a good story, these scientists tell us. A good story, the dumber the better, garnished with plenty of sex.

Tomorrow: The silent generation