Supplemental: Jake Tapper has your CROSSTALK right here!


Blackburn, Brazile drop the gloves:
Has the American cable “news” business ever been quite so inane?

That’s the question we found ourselves asking as we watched Donna Brazile and Marsha Blackburn drop the gloves for a hockey fight on yesterday’s State of the Union.

In recent weeks, our cable nets have been playing by two basic rules:

If Candidate Trump is speaking somewhere, the nets must break away to watch.

If Candidate Trump is sleeping or silent, teams of pundits must spend their time examining day-to-day changes in polls—day-to-day changes which, at this point, are almost totally meaningless.

Yesterday, on CNN, Jake Tapper led his panel of pundits on a forced march through the new polls. First, though, he let the ladies drop the gloves and stage that hockey fight.

People, that’s entertainment, a point which was rather transparent.

At issue was the comment in which Hillary Clinton had compared Republican candidates to terrorists. Or had she actually been drawing a contrast?

When Brazile advanced the latter claim, she and Blackburn dropped their sticks. Like a veteran ref in the NHL, Jake stood back and let them fight.

Below, you see the way the official CNN transcript captured the engagement. In essence, it was a war between INAUDIBLE and its long-time companion, CROSSTALK.

We’re simply cutting-and-pasting here. This embarrassing bullshit is live-and-direct from the official transcript:
BRAZILE (8/30/15): Look, she was making a contrast, not a comparison. The contrast of course—

BLACKBURN: No, Donna, she made a—she made a comparison.

BRAZILE: She was making a contrast because—look, she understands the difference between a Taliban and their views toward women and their policies toward women. And what she was saying is that Republicans have taken this extreme position on giving women the full range of reproductive health services. That's the point she was making.

I'm sorry if you are upset that she said the word Taliban, but the truth is, 21st century policies and leaders do not respond to give women access to birth control do not—

BLACKBURN: The 21st century women—well, most (INAUDIBLE) are in line—

BRAZILE: —access to abortion if they are victims of rape and—


BLACKBURN: More of the American people—yes, they are. Yes, they are.

BRAZILE: Giving women the exception or giving women the right to have the full range of services—


BLACKBURN: —that she made is inappropriate.

BRAZILE: It was a contrast not a comparison.

BLACKBURN: That's why Hillary is so far—it was a comparison. She was down in the polls—

BRAZILE: Let's see who wins the conversation when it comes to—


BLACKBURN: We're going to win that conversation.


BLACKBURN: The (INAUDIBLE) are going to agree with us.

BRAZILE: All across this country, Jake, Republicans are trying to restrict, trying to—

BLACKBURN: That is wrong.

BRAZILE: —defund planned parent. Planned Parenthood which provides—

BLACKBURN: Yes, we do. Planned Parenthood doesn't need the money.

BRAZILE: —mammogram services.


BLACKBURN: No, 94 percent of their business—94 percent—

BRAZILE: No, 97 percent.

BLACKBURN: Ninety-four percent is abortion services.


BRAZILE: Ninety-seven percent is for non-abortion services.


BLACKBURN: For abortion services, 1800—absolutely. (INAUDIBLE). Go to their website. Their main business—they are America's biggest abortion provider.

BRAZILE: Have you visited the Planned Parenthood site? I have. I have.


BRAZILE: And I visited (INAUDIBLE) neighborhood. I have visited—


BRAZILE: —access to (INAUDIBLE)—

“The (INAUDIBLE) are going to agree with us?” It’s almost like some modern haiku, designed to capture the essence of a deeply degraded, corporate clown-car age.

On the other hand, who knows? Whoever said whatever it was may just turn out to be right!

As you can probably see, Jake let this insulting bullshit go on for a very long time, just like in the NHL. Essentially, the two pundits were speaking at once, without even a hint of a glottal stop. This made it impossible to hear what either savant was saying.

It almost looked like Jorge Ramos had provided stage direction! Finally, Jake stepped in to stop the fight—and the ladies quickly explained that they had just been funnin’.

Or something! It was still hard to tell:
TAPPER (continuing directly): Let’s put a button on that. (INAUDIBLE) agree to disagree. We'll come back—


BRAZILE: But we’re southern women.

BLACKBURN: That’s right. That’s right.

BRAZILE: We do it on the (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKBURN: That’s right.


BLACKBURN: We’re going to have (INAUDIBLE).
According to the transcript, Blackburn and Brazile are going to have INAUDIBLE. Apparently, as Southern women, they do it on the INAUDIBLE!

At this point, there was only one way to make it stop. Using all his powers and skills, Jake turned to Old Faithful:
TAPPER (continuing directly): Dan, I want to—let's bring up the poll numbers again from Iowa about Hillary Clinton.
“Let's bring up the poll numbers again from Iowa about Hillary Clinton?” Every one of our fake corporate pundits knows how to CROSSTALK that!

BACK TO SCHOOL PREVIEW: Reporting on Big Easy schools can be hard!


Part 1—Two important issues:
The analysts presented their claim. We checked their claim, and found it was right!

Next Monday, September 7, has been declared Labor Day in this country! That means it’s time for our annual review of the mainstream press corps’ back-to-school reporting.

As we’ve noted through the years, the press corps typically does a terrible job covering public school issues. Their technical competence tends to be nil. Beyond that, they tend to be slaves to elite narratives in which American schools are in headlong decline, thanks to our ratty teachers with their infernal unions.

Meanwhile, “liberal” news orgs—think MSNBC—manifestly don’t give a fig about low-income schools or the children within them. When liberal indifference meets mainstream incompetence, we the people tend to be left with a vile journalistic brew.

That said, let’s be fair to the journalists! Routinely, their jobs are complicated by the failing work of education officials and “education experts.” Also, by the work of education professors, including some who may reside at the nation’s very best schools.

This year, we’ll focus on a pair of topics which have appeared in the press corps’ back-to-school reporting. Plainly, each topic is very important. In our view, each topic has been mangled by the press corps within the past week.

First question: To what extent has an education miracle occurred in the New Orleans schools? The anniversary of Katrina has brought this question center stage. At New York magazine, Jonathan Chait has even declared that a “revolution” has occurred in Big Easy schools.

Chait’s piece appears beneath this headline: “How New Orleans Proved Urban-Education Reform Can Work.” To state the obvious, claims like these are very important—but only if they’re true!

Chait finds it easy not to be hard about Big Easy schools. “The creation of high-achieving urban charter schools is one of the most impressive triumphs of American social policy,” he generically says at the start of his piece, before he reaches News Orleans. “In a short period of time, urban charters have yielded impressive, even astonishing, success at closing the academic achievement gap between the poorest children and more privileged ones.”

Already, those claims are deeply important—but only if they’re true! But then, Chait states a second conclusion. In Chait’s view, the New Orleans schools have succeeded in closing the achievement gap as no one else has done.

Say you want a revolution? Chait uses that very word:
CHAIT (8/24/15): Nowhere has this revolution had a more dramatic impact than in New Orleans, because nowhere has reform been carried out with such breadth. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina wiped out huge swaths of the city’s infrastructure and displaced its population, a disaster that paradoxically gave the city the chance to redesign its failing school system. Rather than re-create the neighborhood-based schools that had recapitulated generations of poverty, the city created a network of public charter schools. The charters, which have open admission and public accountability, have produced spectacular results...
Those are deeply important claims, if true. Does Chait know what he’s talking about? He made these statements one week ago. At your favorite corporate liberal precincts, his claims will go undiscussed.

What’s happening in the New Orleans schools? If you give the tiniest fig about low-income kids, that’s an important question. But then, so is a second question. It reached the press through a study by two professors at Penn, an Ivy League institution.

Although their work is hard to parse, the professors are asking some version of a pre-existing question: Why do black kids get suspended and expelled in our public schools at much higher rates than other kids?

If you care about low-income kids, that’s an important question. The new study which raises this question was released at the start of last week, leading to this news report in last Tuesday’s New York Times.

From there, the topic has jumped to other major news orgs. The new study has been reported by NPR and PBS, by the Atlantic, the National Journal and Slate. The new Penn study has been reported by the Christian Science Monitor and by an array of major regional newspapers.

The new Penn study has been reported, and substantially bungled, by Education Week. It was ever thus!

Chait is claiming success in New Orleans. The professors are claiming mistreatment of black kids all through the nation’s public schools, but especially in the public schools of the South.

In Penn’s official press release, you get the flavor of their claims, although their claims are actually hard to parse. Headline included:
Penn GSE Report Offers District-By-District Look At How Black Students Are Disciplined At Highest Rates In Southern Schools

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 25, 2015: In schools across the United States, Black students are punished more severely than their peers. But nowhere are Black students suspended or expelled more than in the South. Fifty-five percent of the 1.2 million Black students suspended in the U.S. live in just 13 Southern states.

In a new report, the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education offers a state-by-state, school district-by-district examination of school discipline for Black students in the South.

Researchers Edward Smith and Shaun Harper found Black students were consistently suspended and expelled at higher rates than their peers across the region. This held true in urban, suburban, and rural districts, for both Black boys and Black girls. The study is an analysis of every public school district in the South, over 3,000.

”The findings in our report point to the residual effects of Jim Crow, slavery, and unequal schooling,” Harper said. “They are further explained by poverty trends, structural inequities in the education workforce, and a longstanding history of racial injustice that cyclically reproduces itself, especially across these 13 Southern states.”
Those are very important claims, especially when you consider the source. After all, Penn’s press release has this to say about its Graduate School of Education (GSE):

“Penn GSE is one of the nation's premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge building as the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania.”

Nobody does it quite like Penn! If they do say so themselves!

For the actual study, click here.

Is a revolution occurring in New Orleans? Are black kids being unfairly disciplined, especially across the South? Except at a place like MSNBC, these are very important questions. If we care about low-income kids at all, questions like these greatly matter.

Starting next Tuesday, we’ll review the way our big news orgs have handled these questions in this year's back-to-school reporting. In the next few days, we’ll offer some background information, helping you get ready for the start of school topics next week.

Tomorrow, we’ll provide a bit of background about test scores in New Orleans. On Wednesday, we’ll provide some basic background to that study from Penn.

What’s going on in New Orleans schools? We’re not sure we can answer that question. Are black kids being mistreated in public schools, especially across the South? Those questions are challenging too, especially when academic studies are larded with misdirection.

That said, John White is Louisiana’s state superintendent of education. It’s fairly easy to be hard on his recent pimping of New Orleans schools.

As for those professors at Penn, their work is truly awful. Does anyone care about low-income kids? The gruesome work of our elites suggests an answer:

Not really. Pretty much no!

Tomorrow: The superintendent’s data

Coming Wednesday: Where do black kids live?

HAPPILY ANCHORED: To unexplained loathing!


Part 4—TNR fails to explain:
Kevin Drum had read a piece at the New Republic.

Frankly, he was puzzled. He didn’t think the TNR piece lived up to its headline:
DRUM (8/21/15): I'm curious about something. Last night I read a longish piece at TNR by Gwyneth Kelly titled “Why ‘Anchor Baby’ Is Offensive.” I was actually sort of curious about that, so I read through it. But all the article did was provide a bit of history about the term and quote a bunch of people saying it was disgusting and dehumanizing. There was no explanation of why it’s offensive.
Saying he would likely regret it, Drum decided to issue his now-famous “‘Anchor baby’ challenge.” He asked his readers to explain why the term should be viewed as offensive.

“It's not obvious from first principles what the problem is here,” Drum offensively said.

On balance, we agree with Drum’s apparent skepticism. In our view, it isn’t obvious why the term in question should be viewed as offensive, or as “super offensive,” or as “an offensive, derogatory slur,” to use Kelly’s language.

At long last, let’s drop that question. But just for the record, Drum was plainly right about the TNR piece. Despite the headline on the piece, Gwyneth Kelly didn’t even try to explain why the term in question should be deemed offensive. She simply asserted that that the term is offensive, then offered a brief critique of Donald Trump’s claims in this area.

Drum was right to notice the fact that the piece doesn’t live up to the headline. That said, we strongly recommend Kelly’s piece, which helps us see the way our liberal tribe currently tends to reason.

What can we learn from Kelly’s piece? Let’s take a look at the record:

For starters, let’s note a basic fact. The headline which sits atop her piece makes two claims, not just one. This is the current full headline:

“Why ‘Anchor Baby’ Is Offensive—and a Distortion of Truth”

Kelly makes two basic claims in her piece. As she starts, she claims that the term “anchor baby” is offensive—“an offensive, derogatory slur.”

She then moves on to a second claim. She says the term “distorts the truth.”

This strikes us as the more significant claim, but Kelly gives it short shrift. This is her full discussion of this second, substantive claim, before she shifts back to her principal claim, her claim that the term is offensive:
KELLY (8/20/15): The term also distorts the truth. As Politifact noted in 2010, foreigners do come to the use to give birth to a U.S. citizen, but it's not the kind of foreigner Trump imagines:

“While that does appear to be happening with affluent ‘birth tourists,’ it's important to understand that those affluent ‘birth tourists’ are not the ones illegally crossing the Rio Grande or the Sonoran desert. They are coming here with the proper legal papers and giving birth. Thus, whatever public policy challenges arise from ‘birth tourism’ are separate and distinct from the public policy challenges of illegal immigration.”

Moreover, while the Fourteenth Amendment does guarantee citizenship for babies born in the United States (with some exceptions: the children of diplomats, occupying forces or anyone born on foreign public ships), that citizenship does not automatically extend to the child’s parents. An American child of undocumented parents must wait until they are 21 to petition for their parents’ citizenship. In the meantime, parents can be deported; sometimes their children leave with them, other times the children are placed in foster care.

Nonetheless, Trump would like to see the law changed to address this phantom menace. He told Fox News that, according to “some very, very good lawyers,” the longstanding legal consensus that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees birthright citizenship “is not going to hold up in court.” This insurgent constitutional interpretation is certainly up for debate. The offensiveness of “anchor baby” should not be.
The offensiveness of “anchor baby” shouldn't be up for debate! So says Kelly, without bothering to explain why the term is offensive at all!

At any rate, that is Kelly’s full account of what she calls “this phantom menace.” In our view, it’s a lazy, faux attempt to discuss the full set of facts on the ground, as we’ll note below.

After making this facile attempt, Kelly returns to the claim we tribally love—the claim that Candidate Trump’s language is offensive. This is very much the principal way our tribe now likes to “reason.”

At present, our tribe is anchored to the act of eagerly taking offense! We love to accuse The Others of slurs. We’re less inclined to immerse ourselves in the substance of policy questions.

We fluff ourselves with our sense of moral superiority. We leave ourselves without the tools to win real debates, to change people's understandings.

Make no mistake! Trump’s immigration proposals strike us as utterly ludicrous. His kick-off speech, in which he characterized unauthorized Mexican immigrants in the most unpleasant ways possible, struck us as utterly heinous, a point we made at the time.

(Darling Rachel said nothing about Trump’s appalling statement that night. She barely mentioned his statement on the next evening’s program. Instead, she continued to cavort and play about a set of silly side points, wondering if Trump had hired actors to attend his kick-off speech. Today, Maddow claims to be “super-offended” by the term “anchor baby.” We’re all free to believe her, of course.)

Trump’s immigration proposals strike us as utterly ludicrous. But Kelly’s piece strikes us as lazy and perhaps a bit less than obsessively honest. In fairness, she gives us our tribal fix—we get to condemn another “slur!” But she tells us very little about the facts on the ground.

What’s missing in Kelly’s brief attempt to deal with the substance of Trump’s proposals? Let’s go back to the very beginning, to the first appearances of the term she frames as a slur.

Judging from the Nexis archive, the term “anchor baby” first appeared in American newspapers in 2001. At that time, activists who used that term tended to make a specific claim. You see the outline of the claim in a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in which Colin Campbell described the mail he’d been getting:
CAMPBELL (2/27/01): Some people hate the flood of foreign immigrants into metro Atlanta. I know this because of the mail I'm getting about a column I did a couple of Sundays ago in which I confessed to taking pleasure in the city's newly cosmopolitan feel. (I also admitted some obvious problems.) Of course there are readers who share my delight. But others have nothing good to say about immigration. To them it's a threat...

Several readers sent me material on the campaign to change the Constitution so that U.S. birth won't automatically confer citizenship. (Critics note that “anchor babies” are allowing whole clans to move here).
That was the original claim. If a non-citizen gave birth in this country, her child would be an American citizen—and this would allow the whole family to move to the States!

In 2002, columnist John McCaslin advanced the same general notion in the Washington Times. So did Dennis Byrne in the Chicago Tribune:
MCCASLIN (7/11/02): There was considerable reaction from around the country to our item this week on birthright citizenship and its related phenomenon that has been dubbed “anchor babies.”

The United States, we reported, grants automatic citizenship to babies born in this country to illegal aliens, temporary workers, even tourists. The babies can eventually “anchor” their extended families in the United States, thus precipitating an unlimited number of “chain immigrants” with the right to immigrate.

BYRNE (7/29/02): Consider the movement for “birthright citizenship” and “anchor babies.” It is based on the fact that the United States automatically grants citizenship to babies born in the country—including to babies whose mothers are here temporarily, as tourists or even illegally. Of course, once the baby is defined as a citizen, his family gets preferential immigration treatment. An entire industry has developed around getting pregnant women into this country just for that purpose.
As early as 2002, the Los Angeles Times was noting a problem with this presentation, even as it noted the rise of what is now called “birth tourism.” In a long report which focused on South Koreans coming to Los Angeles to give birth, Barbara Demick noted a wrinkle in U.S. immigration law—the very wrinkle Kelly cited thirteen years later:
DEMICK (5/25/02): “Even though it is not illegal immigration per se, it is exploiting a loophole,” said Jack Martin, a project director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based group that advocates restrictions on immigration.

The federation is especially critical of what it calls anchor babies, whom mothers arrange to have in the United States with the hope that the child will later help the entire family immigrate. Under the law, a U.S. citizen cannot sponsor anyone for immigration purposes until the age of 21, but according to Martin, the long wait is not a deterrent.

“It is hard to conceptualize a strategy that is so long-term with regard to U.S. citizenship, but that's what they are doing—establishing a foothold,” he said.

The federation says 165,000 babies are born in the United States each year to illegal immigrants, most of them from Mexico.
Were that many babies born to illegal immigrants that year? We don’t know, but Demick cited the same part of immigration law Kelly cited in TNR.

Uh-oh! Under immigration law, a family can’t automatically stay in the States just because its child is born a citizen. That baby can’t sponsor his parents for citizenship until he turns 21!

This complicates the initial, simple-minded claim in which entire families were able to come to the U.S., “anchored” by one birthright citizen baby. As it turned out, that initial claim was misleading, facile, massively simplified.

Kelly cited that aspect of U.S. law in her TNR piece. Every liberal knows to cite it, after which we get to return to the practice we love—taking offense at the “slurs” The Other Tribe is employing.

We modern liberals love the act of taking offense in this manner. As the responses to Drum helped show, we’re even happy to take offense when we can’t seem to explain what makes the term in question offensive! The answers Drum received to his challenge ought to embarrass any progressive. They show us for what we often are—juvenile, unpleasant, dumb.

Ditto-headed in every way. Driven by the ancient joy of thoroughly loathing The Other.

Kelly never bothered explaining why that term is offensive. But then, she failed to do something else in her piece:

She failed to note what Trump has actually said when he’s used the term “anchor baby.”

So far, Candidate Trump hasn’t evoked the original, simple-minded claim in which “anchor babies” let whole families gain American citizenship. Below, you see what he said in New Hampshire when he touched off the current dispute, in which cable stars try to top each other about who is most offended.
TRUMP (8/19/15): There’s a very big question as to the anchor babies. They’ve been talking about it for years. There is a very big question as to whether or not the 14th Amendment actually covers this. We’re going to find out whether or not it does.

Changing the 14th Amendment would take years and years. It's a long, drawn-out process. A lot of people think that it is absolutely, in terms of anchor babies, that it is not covered. So we're going to find out.

But look, here’s the story. Here’s what happens. Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait!

Here’s what's happening.

A woman is going to have a baby. They wait on the border. Just before the baby, they come over to the border. They have the baby in the United States. We now take care of that baby: Social Security, Medicare, education. Give me a break. It doesn't work that way. The parents have to come in legally.

Now, we’re going to have to find out what's going to happen from a court standpoint. But many people, many of the great scholars say that anchor babies are not covered. We're going to find out.
In that statement, Trump wasn’t complaining about whole families gaining citizenship through the birth of a child. He was advancing a different type of complaint. He was saying that children born to undocumented / illegal / unauthorized residents will be eligible for all sorts of benefits over the eighty years of their lives.

In some ways, this claim is plainly accurate—and a lot of beautiful kids are born to illegal / unauthorized / undocumented residents of this country each year. In a study in 2010, Pew estimated that 340,000 babies were born in 2008 to parents who were unauthorized / undocumented / illegal residents of the U.S.

That was roughly eight percent of all babies born in the U.S. that year! To cite one possible challenge of the type to which Trump referred, those beautiful kids and their undocumented / illegal / unauthorized siblings and cousins can present a challenge to American public schools.

Personally, we aren’t troubled by that, at least as matters currently stand. But no one’s required to think that this is a good way of doing things.

Can we talk? Candidate Trump is a remarkably classic demagogue. Like a certain figure from the last century, he extends his lower lip and insists that he can make the trains run on time.

In times of confusion and dysfunction, this stance can be quite appealing—always has been, all over the world.

Is Trump a well-intentioned figure? We can’t measure that. But in the face of claims which seem appealing, it isn’t enough to drop R-bombs and complain that The Others are being offensive, especially when we can’t even explain why we’re making that claim.

Are unauthorized / undocumented / illegal residents taking jobs from American citizens? Through birthright citizenship, are the beautiful children of these residents creating various types of challenges, financial and otherwise, within the overall society?

These questions aren’t crazy questions. Indeed, all over the world, developed nations have been rolling back their own birthright citizenship laws in response to such considerations.

It isn’t enough for liberals to respond to such considerations by littering the countryside with our favorite weapon, our R-bombs. That said, the dropping of bombs is plainly the thing we liberals most enjoy at this time.

Can we be honest for once? We’re unpleasant and tribal and full of the loathing we love to attribute to Others! Just exactly as Drum observed, Kelly never explained why the term in question should be considered offensive or a slur. But then, she also didn’t speak to the actual concerns Trump actually raised in his statement about those darn “anchor babies.”

Kelly didn’t even explain why that term is offensive! But down through history, tribal haters like us have never stopped to explain.

The term “anchor baby” migrated, years back, from its original narrow use. It’s now often used in a more general sense, as a reference to all children born to illegal / unauthorized / undocumented residents who become U.S. citizens due to birthright citizenship.

To many people, the practice of birthright citizenship won’t make obvious sense. The claim that taxpayers are getting ripped off will make sense to these people.

On their face, such concerns aren’t crazy. Are we willing to learn to speak to those people's concerns? Or are we anchored to unexplained tribal loathing, the oldest scourge on the planet?

Anchors are brown, Drum’s commenters said. In our view, those comments should serve as a wake-up call to our whole self-impressed tribe.

Are we willing to love our neighbor? or do we love dropping bombs?

Supplemental: The nature of State Department email!


As Baldwin pretends with some polls:
Briefly watching mid-afternoon CNN, we just saw Brooke Baldwin hyping a “bombshell report.” In a brand-new Quinnipiac poll, Biden performs a few points better than Clinton against the leading Republicans!

In August of the year before, with Biden not even in the race, that’s a bombshell in much the same way that Baldwin is Pliny the Elder reborn. Also, with people like Baldwin, press corps-wide, working hard to fluff Uncle Joe while knocking Vile Clinton around.

Our “journalists” routinely say it—they say they have a professional bias in favor of creating a lively race. Perhaps that explains why the corps is fluffing Biden. Perhaps it’s Clinton hatred.

Whatever it is, it isn’t journalistic. This brings us back to the press corps’ ongoing obsession with the Clinton email non-probe.

We say non-probe for a reason. By now, any news org—in theory, that includes CNN—could have catalogued the issues involved in the email matter. As far as we know, there are two major claims:

First claim: Clinton put national security at risk by using a non-secure email account. Also, Clinton stymied FOIA requests by maintaining her own server.

By now, CNN, or anyone else, could have created a coherent account of the various charges, crazy and otherwise, being made against Clinton. No one has done so because our imitation, Potemkin “news orgs” simply don’t function that way.

That isn’t what our “news orgs” do. Instead, they spend two years obsessing over meaningless polls while gossiping about a wide assortment of silly distractions.

What would it look like if major news orgs tried to clarify the email debate?

We’ll direct you to this post by Kevin Drum, in which Drum links to an AP report.

The AP report starts to sift the ball of confusion surrounding the security aspects of Clinton’s email practices. Below, you see the start of Ken Dilanian’s report:
DILANIAN (8/26/15): The transmission of now-classified information across Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email is consistent with a State Department culture in which diplomats routinely sent secret material on unsecured email during the past two administrations, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Clinton's use of a home server makes her case unique and has become an issue in her front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. But it's not clear whether the security breach would have been any less had she used department email.
Say what? “It’s not clear whether the security breach would have been any less had she used department email?”

Later in his report, Dilanian mentions similar practices from the Bush years. He seems to say that Clinton’s email system wasn’t any less secure than the State Department’s corresponding system:
DILANIAN: In five emails that date to Condoleezza Rice's tenure as secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration, large chunks are censored on the grounds that they contain classified national security or foreign government information.


Such slippage of classified information into regular email is "very common, actually," said Leslie McAdoo, a lawyer who frequently represents government officials and contractors in disputes over security clearances and classified information.

What makes Clinton's case different is that she exclusively sent and received emails through a home server in lieu of the State Department's unclassified email system. Neither would have been secure from hackers or foreign intelligence agencies, so it would be equally problematic whether classified information was carried over the government system or a private server, experts say.

In fact, the State Department's unclassified email system has been penetrated by hackers believed linked to Russian intelligence.
“It would be equally problematic whether classified information was carried over the government system or a private server?” According to Dilanian, that’s what experts say.

This past weekend, on Fox News Sunday, Ellen Tauscher discussed the nature of the State Department’s “unsecure” email system. She also tried to explain the distinction between the State Department’s separate-and-distinct classified and unclassified email systems.

Dilanian seems to be plowing the same fields here. He seems to be saying that the State Department’s regular unclassified system would have been no more secure than the private system Clinton used.

If our “news orgs” were really news orgs, they would have tried to clarify these matters by now. That said, our “news orgs” quite plainly are not news orgs—haven’t been any such thing for a very long time.

Our TV news orgs are corporate arrangements whereby attractive, youngish men and women can sit around discussing worthless polls all day. After that, they spend some time discussing who interrupted whom, and how loudly, at which event last night.

At night, the propagandists come out. Did you watch the horrific Maddow sifting your info, and clowning around, on her program last night? Has any news figure ever been so devoured by the twin monsters, wealth and fame?

You’re living inside an “I, Claudius” bubble. Live and direct from Atlanta, Baldwin was pretending nicely as we clicked off CNN.

HAPPILY ANCHORED: In the one play we know!


Part 3—That bag of hammers is us:
In her 2003 memoir, Living History, Hillary Clinton aimed an ugly slur at lawyer David Kendall.

Nothing was subtle in Clinton’s attack. Peter Baker recalled the episode in a front-page profile of Kendall in Monday’s New York Times:
BAKER (8/24/15): [T]he Clintons leaned on Mr. Kendall heavily. “He became an anchor in our lives,” Mrs. Clinton later wrote in a memoir.
It’s just like the Clintons to do this!

Before this past weekend, we might have missed the import of Clinton’s remark, in which she suggested that Kendall is Hispanic (anchors are brown) and compared him to an inanimate object, thereby implying that he's dumb as a bag of hammers.

Before this past weekend, we might have missed that! Luckily, we read the comments to Kevin Drum’s recent post about the disturbing term “anchor baby.” As a result, we understood what Clinton actually meant by her ugly remark.

At this point, can we talk? Almost surely, Clinton wasn’t insulting Kendall when she described him as “an anchor in our lives.” Almost surely, she wasn’t saying that he is brown, or even inanimate.

When the Carter Family sang “Anchored in Love,” they weren’t deriding the love they felt they received from God. When Walter Cronkite was called an anchor, he wasn’t being compared to a bag of hammers.

None of those associations are obvious when we use the word “anchor.” But alas! Last Friday, Kevin Drum issued what has come to be known as “the ‘anchor baby’ challenge.”

Drum asked his readers to explain why the term “anchor baby” should be seen as “offensive.” Because taking offense is the only play we modern liberals seem to know, his readers leaped to comply.

Alas! We the modern pseudo-liberals live for such assignments! We’re extremely skilled at taking offense—at finding the slur in all manner of speech by The Others.

We’re deeply clueless—hapless; inept—at all other plays in the playbook.

We’ve been trained to take offense, and we’re eager to do it. Consider a pair of responses to Drum’s iconic challenge.

Bless our hearts! We rushed to explain why that term is offensive—even super-offensive, as the increasingly ludicrous Rachel Maddow super-phonily said. One reader explained it this way:
COMMENT TO DRUM: It’s kinda insulting to insinuate you’re so rapacious as to purposefully get pregnant and have a kid just so you can stay in the U.S. It suggests you see the child as a legal boon, not someone to love. In a more family-oriented culture that’s very hurtful.
The reader said it would be “kinda insulting” to make a certain insinuation. That may or may not be true, but Drum had asked a different question.

Drum had asked what made a specific term offensive. It isn't entirely clear that he commenter spoke to that point.

Having said that, let’s note the general background to that reader’s comment. Over the past fifteen years, people who have discussed “anchor babies” have generally been criticizing the conduct of the parents of the babies in question.

As a general matter, they haven’t said that the parents in question “purposefully get pregnant” just so they can stay in the States—and the term “rapacious” has never been used, according to Nexis. More often, these people have simply claimed that some parents come to the States when it’s time to give birth so that the baby will be an American citizen, possibly letting the parent and other family members reside in the U.S.

(That’s the way the claim began. The nature of the claim has changed through the years, a point we’ll note tomorrow.)

The people who speak about “anchor babies” disapprove of this alleged practice. That doesn’t mean that the term they’re using is a racial slur. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the term is “super offensive.”

It doesn’t mean that they meant for us to think that anchors are brown. It doesn’t mean that they were comparing people to bags of hammers.

Was the term meant or intended as a “slur?” The commenter didn’t explain why we should view it that way. Meanwhile, just for the record, it’s perfectly plain that some people do come to the U.S. for the purpose of giving birth to a baby who's an American citizen. Whatever a person may think of that practice, it’s plain that the practice exists.

When a reader responded to the comment we’ve posted, he or she took note of this fact. In our view, this responder helps us see how anchored we are to the tribal practice of eagerly taking offense:
COMMENT TO DRUM: It’s kinda insulting to insinuate you’re so rapacious as to purposefully get pregnant and have a kid just so you can stay in the U.S. It suggests you see the child as a legal boon, not someone to love. In a more family-oriented culture that’s very hurtful.

RESPONSE TO COMMENT: I agree. It’s the notion that an undocumented person is having a kid to “anchor” them in the United States, and hence, beat the system.

It's possible that it could be viewed neutrally—as describing a functional reality—and hence not offensive. But look at the word “homosexual.” That strikes me as a neutral description, but some in the gay community don't like it at all. Why? Probably because it's mostly used by people hostile to them. Which is a description of the majority who use the term “anchor babies.”

In the picture accompanying Kevin's post someone is holding up a sign "NO BIRTH TOURISM!" A couple of years ago there was a big story about a place east of Los Angeles that had pregnant Chinese visiting for about two to four weeks, timed so that they would give birth in the U.S. That seems to me to merit the description “birth tourism.” I’m not sure what the consensus is about the offensiveness of that expression.
In our view, that response is a bit sad, but instructive. Let’s note what this first responder said.

Needless to say, the responder agreed with the original comment. He seems to feel that the term in question is offensive because it’s “kinda insulting.”

At the same time, the responder was vaguely aware of the fact that quite a few people do come to the U.S. for the express purpose of giving birth to babies who are American citizens. That said, his information on the matter is a bit out of date.

In this May 1 news report, the Los Angeles Times reported ongoing federal prosecutions connected to the practice, which is indeed called “birth tourism” or “maternity tourism.” These prosecutions have been reported in the Times on an ongoing basis.

Rightly or wrongly, those prosecutions were being conducted by Eric Holder’s Justice Department. That said, let’s look at the extent to which this responder is anchored to the practice of eagerly taking offense.

First, note the way this responder seems to decide if a term is offensive. It almost seems that he holds this view:

If a term is used by people who object to a certain group in some way, then by definition the term in question can be deemed “offensive.”

In his view, some gays object to the term “homosexual” because it’s used by The Other Tribe. We don’t know if any gay person has ever actually felt that way. But as a general matter, this comes quite close to describing the way our low-IQ tribe now functions.

Increasingly, how do we function? Increasingly, like this:

Has a statement been made by The Other Team? Then, almost by definition, we judge that it must be offensive! It’s left to us to invent some rationale, however absurd, with which we can sell this claim to the wider world. But the assessment is automatic.

That’s what happened when Drum’s readers took his iconic challenge. By definition, everyone knew that the term in question had to be offensive—super-offensive, a slur. And then, we invented our rationale:

The Other Tribe was comparing babies to bags of hammers! Also, anchors are brown!

In that middle paragraph, the responder describes a basic part of our current tribal game. If it’s said by The Other Tribe, it’s by definition offensive.

In his third paragraph, the responder displays another part of the way we currently function. When he mentions the term “birth tourism,” he offers this sad glimpse of the pseudo-liberal mind:

“I’m not sure what the consensus is about the offensiveness of that expression.”

Is the term “birth tourism” offensive? Is it super-offensive, a slur? On his own, it seems that this reader can’t tell! Apparently, he’ll have to wait until he receives “the consensus.”

Lucky for us, multimillionaire tribal leaders now appear on TV each night to feed us our tribal consensus. We used to laugh at The Dittoheads for this. Now, it’s the way we play!

Kevin Drum’s readers were eager to say that the term in question was offensive. They invented some deeply inane rationales. But they all agreed to agree.

Drum’s readers just knew the term was offensive. At the same time, we couldn’t help noticing this:

They didn’t seem to know very much about the actual facts on the ground with respect to The Other Tribe’s complaints. We’re skilled at eagerly tasking offense, but we’re weak at discussing the possible merits of complaints The Others have made.

To what extent has The Other Tribe been making valid complaints in this area? To what extent might The Other Tribe’s complaints make some sort of sense?

We pseudo-liberals are highly skilled in finding their language deeply offensive. We’re useful as a bag of hammers when it comes to the rest.

Tomorrow: Concerning the other tribe’s claims

Supplemental: Back inside the “I, Claudius” scam!


While haplessly letting it happen:
By now, it’s fairly obvious. We’re back inside an “I Claudius” bubble.

Here’s what we mean by that:

In 1976, the Robert Graves novel became a massively popular PBS series. In each format, Graves’ entity created a fascinating picture of the way politics can work—more particularly, of the way the public can be deceived about the way their republic is functioning.

On the PBS series and in the novel, we were taken behind the scenes of the Roman republic. We saw what was actually happening inside the halls of power—and we saw the way the public was misled about the nature of the deliberations which controlled their alleged republic.

We’re back inside that world today as we get handed a very familiar old story. Candidate Clinton is being portrayed as the world’s biggest liar. We’ve been handed this tale every step of the way during the Clinton/Gore years.

The liberal world has always accepted this treatment. We’re accepting it once again.

Quite correctly, Joan Walsh is complaining today at Salon. More specifically, she's noting the contradictions of the industry-wide, melodrama-driven, good-old-Joe Biden build-up.

Unfortunately, Walsh accepted the familiar “biggest liar” charade when it was worked against Candidate Gore. Her mentor, Chris Matthews, was one of the most important authors of that disastrous deception—a twenty-month onslaught which sent George Bush to the White House.

Walsh has never told the truth about that version of this play. She’s complaining about the revival now.

The mainstream press corps is up to its ears in this familiar revival. They led the charge against Candidate Gore. Their complicity is only slightly less this time around.


Does anyone have the slightest idea what is actually being alleged in the latest revival of the long-running hit, “The press corps against the Clintons?” Does anyone understand the ball of confusion contained in Ruth Marcus’ Sunday column? And how about the various things Ellen Tauscher just said?

Tauscher, D-CA, is a former six-term member of Congress. From 2009 through 2012, she served in two different major posts at the State Department.

This Sunday, Tauscher appeared on Fox News Sunday, where she pushed back against the current ball of confusion, which our major news orgs are making exactly zero effort to clarify, explain, unpack, delineate, explore or resolve.

To her credit, guest host Shannon Bream let Tauscher speak at some length about the current ball of confusion concerning State Department operations. As Gene Lyons notes in his current column, her most striking remark concerned the claim that federal judge Emmet Sullivan recently said that Clinton violated policy in some way:
TAUSCHER (8/23/15): If we're going to cherry-pick, let’s stay with the cherry tree. You talked about what Judge Sullivan said. Judge Sullivan’s extraneous remark was about something completely different and it was about something going on with somebody else, an employee. And so, it has really nothing to do with what is going on right now.
For the full transcript, click here.

Judge Sullivan’s widely-quoted statement wasn’t about Clinton? Is there any chance that Tauscher’s statement could possibly be accurate?

We don’t know, and it’s unlikely we ever will. At present, the press corps is running a familiar old scam, of a type it knows quite well. No one is trying to clarify matters as the excitement, drama and gossip build. In fairness, there’s no reason to think our “journalists” would have the chops to do so even if they tried.

(It has been a very long time since they used any such skills.)

In I, Claudius, we saw the world through the eyes of “the street”—and we saw what was occurring behind the scenes, where “the street” wasn’t allowed. As of now, we the people are back in the scam zone again. If you think this can’t send a Republican to the White House again, we own screen rights to a very good novel we would be happy to sell you.

The liberal world has tolerated this long-running scam every step of the way. Has there ever been a less vigilant tribe than the one we belong to?

Obvious question, widely ignored: Didn’t everyone in the White House know that Secretary Clinton was using a private email address? Absent some technical explanation, how could they not have known? Did she never send an email to anyone in that realm?

It seems like the world’s most obvious question. We hear it asked every now and then.

As far as we know, no one ever tries to answer it! But then, that’s what the world looks like inside an “I, Claudius” bubble—in a world where the national “press corps” mainly just clowns and pretends.

HAPPILY ANCHORED: In the mouthing of dogmas!


Part 2—Reciting what leaders have said:
As it turned out, Kevin Drum made a valid point.

He’d read a piece at the New Republic denouncing the use of the term “anchor baby.”

The term is offensive, the piece had said. But according to Drum, the piece in question never explained why the term is offensive:
DRUM (8/21/15): I'm curious about something. Last night I read a longish piece at TNR by Gwyneth Kelly titled “Why ‘Anchor Baby’ Is Offensive.” I was actually sort of curious about that, so I read through it. But all the article did was provide a bit of history about the term and quote a bunch of people saying it was disgusting and dehumanizing. There was no explanation of why it's offensive.
Drum went on to ask his readers to explain why the term is offensive. “I’m probably going to regret asking this,” he prophetically said. “But I am curious. It's not obvious from first principles what the problem is here.”

Uh-oh! To our ear, it sounded like Drum wasn’t sure that the term really is offensive. Tribal heresy to the side, he was certainly right about the TNR piece he had read.

Right in its headline, the New Republic said its piece would explain why the term is offensive. But despite that headline, Gwyneth Kelly never gave that explanation. She simply presented blurbs from pundits asserting that it is.

(For the record: On line, the full TNR headline says this: “Why ‘Anchor Baby’ Is Offensive—and a Distortion of Truth.”)

Kelly is just two years out of Northwestern, but she knows who we liberals should ape. This is the way she started:
KELLY (8/20/15): Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to lead not only in the polls, but with his crude rhetoric. In a Tuesday interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, Trump questioned whether “anchor babies,” a pejorative term for babies born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants, are legal American citizens. “What happens is [the parents] are in Mexico, they're going to have a baby, they move over here for a couple of days, they have the baby," he said. A day later, Jeb Bush called for “[b]etter enforcement so that you don't have these, you know, 'anchor babies,' as they're described, coming into the country.” And on Thursday, Bobby Jindal said he’s “happy to use” the term “anchor babies.”

Nevermind that “anchor babies” are largely a myth. The term is also an offensive, derogatory slur.
At this point, Kelly presented a tweet from Chris Hayes saying this: “The term ‘anchor baby’ is disgusting and dehumanizing. I can't believe anyone in ‘mainstream’ American politics uses it.”

She followed with this response from Jamelle Bouie: “I can’t say it any better. ‘Anchor baby’ doesn't belong in our discourse any more than a racial slur.”

Blurbing completed, Kelly went on to say that the American Heritage Dictionary lists the term as “offensive” and “disparaging,” a change from its original neutral listing in 2011. A person may agree with this view, of course, but Drum was right in his observation—at no point did Kelly explain why the term should be so regarded.

Should the term “anchor baby” be viewed as offensive? Is that term really as offensive as a racial slur? Should it be viewed as “disgusting?”

To our ear, Drum didn’t seem real sure in his initial post. But tribal leaders were plainly instructing us in this view when Kelly’s piece appeared.

Her piece appeared last Thursday. On MSNBC that evening, Hayes described the term as “a deeply loaded phrase that’s offensive to many.”

In making that statement, Hayes backslid from his earlier designation, perhaps in a racist manner. But one hour later, Rachel Maddow topped Hayes. The term is actually “super offensive,” the perpetually clowning cable anchor said.

Is the term super offensive? In his initial post, Drum seemed unsure—and so, he asked his readers to take the “anchor baby” challenge. Saying he would likely regret it, he asked his readers to explain why the term is offensive.

In our view, the results were highly instructive. In our view, Drum’s commenters helped us see the way we modern liberals are strongly inclined to reason. In our view, they displayed a deeply scripted tribal approach which strikes us as possibly quite ineffective.

What was striking about the comments Drum received? For one thing, people had a very hard time explaining why the term in question should be seen as offensive.

Don’t get us wrong! Almost everyone agreed that the term is offensive. But as Drum would note in a later post, almost no one could explain why.

The comments were largely a big pile of crap, the mild-mannered blogger would later observe. We’d have to say that Drum was right—and we think his point is important.

Why is the term “anchor baby” offensive? It would take a month of Sundays to catalog the bad explanations Drum received in that thread.

Several commenters said the term reminded them of the offensive term “welfare queen.” But they didn’t explain why the term should strike people that way.

Many commenters noted that the term is typically used by people who are criticizing the parents of the babies in question. That’s certainly true—but it doesn’t tell us why the term should be viewed as equivalent to a racial slur, or as offensive at all.

Other commenters found unique ways to make little sense. This is one of the first explanations Drum’s question occasioned:
COMMENTER: It’s demeaning, denies the humanity of the child, and makes the parents out to be inhuman monsters.

Other than that, you know, it’s fine.
Snark was present, but this comment offered little else. How does the term in question “make the parents out to be inhuman monsters?” The commenter didn’t attempt to say. This commenter spilled with certainty, but so does Candidate Trump.

Inevitably, more than a few comments took us off the deep end of the tribal pier, with the anchor of our tribal certainty dragging us toward the bottom. Over-“educated” savants explored the meaning of the terms which constitute the hateful expression. Cover the eyes of the children as we show you this:
COMMENTER: “Anchor” = brown

Edit to add that for those with ears to hear, "anchor" sounds a bit like the more blatantly racist “wetback,” no?
Does “anchor” sound like “wetback” to you? It does if you have ears to hear! Meanwhile, do you typically think of anchors as brown? Is that what people meant all those years when they called Walter Cronkite an anchor?

Tribal belief is powerful; it has been down through the murderous ages. It lets us hear what we want to hear, as in the second part of this analysis:
COMMENTER: The term riles up xenophobia over something which happens rarely. But it is also offensive in itself. It is a metaphor which compares a human being to a dumb inanimate object.

“You are an anchor baby” has a bit of similarity with “you are dumb as a box of hammers.”
The term is offensive in itself! It’s like saying the babies in question are dumb as a box of hammers!

Others possessed those same ears—or in this case, those same eyes:
COMMENTER: [The term] impl[ies] an abusive relationship where a child was purposefully born into an unstable legal position solely for the mother’s benefit. And I might add, it does so through some awful imagery (am I the only one who pictures a baby literally being used as an anchor?)
How horrible is the imagery occasioned by that hateful term? This commenter pictures the baby literally being used as an anchor! But this is the way we end up thinking when we surrender to true belief—to the pure and literal ultimate truth possessed by the one true tribe.

Should the term “anchor baby” be viewed as “super offensive?” Different people will judge that question in different ways.

We’ll only note that Drum was right in what he said about Kelly’s TNR piece. Two years out of Northwestern, Kelly was certain, right from the start, that the term in question was “an offensive, derogatory slur.” But despite the headline on her piece, she never even tried to say why other people should think such a thing. She simply quoted tribal leaders voicing the same idea.

Is the term in question “offensive in itself?” We’d be inclined to say “not hugely,” unless we’re mainly looking for ways to make ourselves feel tribally pure and good.

That doesn’t mean that Candidate Trump is making sensible presentations and proposals concerning immigration. It means that our current tribal approach, based upon eagerly taking offense, may not be the most effective way to address his crackpot proposals, claims and behaviors.

In this follow-up post,
the normally mild-mannered Drum rejected the bulk of the explanations he received in response to his question.

We’d say that Drum made several good points as he reviewed the explanations he had received. Mainly, though, we were struck by the way he threw his readers under the bus in his exasperated comments.

Normally, Drum is fair-minded, perhaps to a fault. In this instance, he suggested his readers tend to be “tribal hacks” whose comments are almost totally worthless. (For background, see yesterday’s award-winning post.)

If we might borrow from Candidate Trump, we have a bigger heart than that! But we can see why the frustrated Drum made those despairing remarks.

We’re standing with Drum, not with Trump! We too had been struck by the rhymes-with-daiquiri which larded the comments to his post. And we were struck by something else. We were struck by how poorly many of Drum’s commenters seemed to understand the issues involved in this latest exciting dispute, which the corporate cable nets love.

We liberals! Increasingly, we tend to spill with tribal certainty—certainty which is now being sold, for profit and fun, at various corporate sites. Even worse, we tend to be low on the types of actual knowledge which might enable us to change people’s minds about the various unlikely proposals offered by Candidate Trump.

We’re scripted and certain and lack the first clue. Other than that, we rule!

Tomorrow: A problem with Trump’s basic portrait

Supplemental: Chuck Todd refuses to do his job!


Once again, a witch hunt is on:
At the present time, you’re seeing a full-blown assault, all across the press, against Candidate Clinton.

Once again, a witch hunt is on.

Each morning, the opening segment of Morning Joe is an incoherent disgrace. Mika and Joe lead the charge, as aggressively and imprecisely as is humanly possible. Willie Haskell-Geist and a gang of sycophants refuse to note the obvious problems with the co-hosts' work.

That said, the hunt is on in a widespread way. Consider the way Chuck Todd refused to do his job on Sunday’s Meet the Press.

Todd spoke with Candidate Fiorina. After a few initial pleasantries, an L-bomb was deployed:
TODD (8/23/15): Do you still have great admiration and respect for Hillary Clinton?

FIORINA: In many ways I do. She's a hardworking woman. She's an intelligent woman. She has dedicated herself to public service. It is also true, however, that she is not trustworthy, that she has lied about some key things: Benghazi, her emails, her server—

TODD: Lying is a big charge. Do you know—why do you know she's lying on Benghazi?

FIORINA: Well, for heaven’s sake! The night of the Benghazi attacks, we now know that the State Department and the White House knew this was a purposeful, preplanned terrorist attack. Nevertheless, the next morning she went into the State Department and she addressed the American people and talked about a video that did not represent the values of this nation.

Several days later, she said the same thing over the bodies of the fallen. What she should have said was this was a purposeful terrorist attack and we will seek retribution.

TODD: You believe she purposely lied?

FIORINA: Absolutely, I do.
“Lying is a big charge,” Todd said. He then proceeded to show the world that he was only pretending.

Fiorina said that Clinton has lied about Benghazi. Pretending to act like a journalist, Todd asked Fiorina how she knows that Clinton has lied.

Well for heaven’s sake! Fiorina responded with this:

“The night of the Benghazi attacks, we now know that the State Department and the White House knew this was a purposeful, preplanned terrorist attack. Nevertheless, the next morning she went into the State Department and she addressed the American people and talked about a video that did not represent the values of this nation.

“Several days later, she said the same thing over the bodies of the fallen. What she should have said was this was a purposeful terrorist attack...”

According to Fiorina, Clinton knew, on the night of the attack, that the attack had been “preplanned,” presumably to coincide with 9/11. She implied that Clinton knew the attack wasn’t connected to the YouTube videotape which was, at that very time, roiling the Muslim world.

Did Clinton know or believe any such thing at that time? Does she know or believe any such thing even now?

As far as we know, the intelligence community has never reached those judgments. But so what?In an imitation of journalism, Todd failed to ask Fiorina how she knows that Clinton believed those things.

“Lying is a big charge,” Todd said. Assuming even minimum competence, he was faking nicely.

A sharp third-grader would have known what to say: How do you know that Clinton believed those things?

Politely, Todd forgot to ask. Did you know that a witch hunt is on?

HAPPILY ANCHORED: In taking offense!


Part 1—Finally, Drum sounds off:
How dumb—how monumentally dumb—is our emerging pseudo-liberal world?

You can get the answer each day at the new Salon. This morning, the pitifully reinvented site published a pitiful, three-day-old screed under this package of headlines:
TUESDAY, AUG 25, 2015 04:00 AM EDT
Donald Trump keeps lying about his crowd numbers—and the media keeps letting him
On Saturday, The Donald spoke to 12,000 supporters in Mobile. The press would have you believe there were "30-40K"
Alternet had run the piece on Saturday, when it was at least current.

At Salon, they ran the piece three days later. We were struck by the claims we saw in Salon's package of headlines.

For the record, Candidate Trump spoke in Mobile last Friday night, not on Saturday. But that’s a tiny type of mistake, derived from an original bungle by Alternet itself.

The statement which caught our eye concerned the size of the Mobile crowd. Had Candidate Trump really spoken to just 12,000 supporters? Not to the roughly 20,000 news orgs claimed in real time?

We decided to check the Salon report. Inevitably, we found ourselves looking at this:
JILANI (8/25/15): As it turned out, the rally ended up featuring around 20,000 people—around half the capacity of the 40,000-person stadium. A decent rally, sure, for a billionaire with very high name identification in a conservative part of the country. But it was nowhere near what was touted by Trump’s own campaign, which was parroted by the media.
In his report, Jilani specifically said that the Trump crowd was roughly 20,000. In its headline, the new Salon dumbed the crowd size down, reducing it to 12,000.

As you can see if you read his piece, Jilani’s report was D-minus work from the start. Three days later, a headline writer at Salon made things that much dumber.

It has long been clear—the new Salon is one of the places where liberal brain cells go to expire. As commenters at the site frequently note, its headlines routinely misstate the actual contents of its reports. That said, this reinvention was especially dumb, even for Salon.

The pitiful, reinvented Salon is just one site, of course. That said, the dumbing down of the liberal world has been quite striking in recent years. Unfortunately, so is the love many liberals feel for this tribal dumbness.

At one time, we liberals enjoyed the fun of calling conservatives dumb. We’d hear the ditto-heads call in to Rush. We gained a false impression.

Alas! We gained the impression that their tribe was dumb while our tribe was “nuanced” and smart. In recent years, the new Salon has helped destroy that picture.

So have comment threads.

This weekend, it finally happened! Saturday afternoon, even the mild-mannered Kevin Drum threw his commenters under the bus.

Annoyed with their low IQs and their arrogance, he referred to them as “tribal hacks.” Quantifying his remarks, he said that 95 percent of their comments were basically worthless.

Normally, Drum is mild-mannered, perhaps to a tiny bit of a fault. At long last, though, he’d plainly had enough:
DRUM (8/22/15): Finally, I get why some lefties find this whole conversation amusing. Privileged middle-class white guy just doesn't get it, and has to write a thousand words of argle-bargle to understand something that’s obvious to anyone with a clue. Sure. But look: you have to interrogate this stuff or you just end up as a tribal hack. And since this is a blog, and I'm an analytical kind of person, what you get is a brain dump translated into English and organized to try to make sense. It can seem naive to see it put down in words like this, but the truth is that we all think this way to some degree or another.

POSTSCRIPT: On Twitter, Frank Koughan good-naturedly suggests that it should be a rule of blogging that if you ask readers a question, you post an update so that everyone doesn't have to wade through 300 comments. Fair enough. But this post is an example of why I don't always do this: it can turn into a lot of work! Sometimes there's a simple answer in comments, but that's rare. Usually about 95 percent of the comments are off topic and the other 5 percent all disagree with each other. So it's not as easy as it sounds.
Uh-oh! Finally, Drum had had enough. Here’s the background:

As we noted on Saturday,
Drum had asked his readers to explain a point he didn’t seem to understand. He’d asked his readers to explain why the term “anchor babies” is offensive.

Should that term be seen as offensive? If so, how offensive is it? In our reading, Drum didn’t seem sure about these points. So he invited his readers to explain—and ended up saying that 95 percent of their comments were just useless crap.

Needless to say, Drum also ended up deciding that the term “anchor babies” really is offensive. For ourselves, we don’t have a giant opinion concerning that question—and no, we don’t sign on to some proposition just because our corporate-paid, millionaire tribal leaders tell us that we should.

For our money, we thought Drum’s logic was a bit soft as he drew his conclusion. That said, we think his three posts on this topic are extremely instructive.

We think his posts help us see the way our liberal world now reasons. Increasingly, we’re happily anchored in taking offense—and display few other skills.

At one time, we liberals got to imagine that the other tribe was dumb.

We were the brilliant, nuanced tribe. The new Salon, and other orgs, have blown that picture to shreds.

Tomorrow, we’ll consider the hundreds of comments which provoked the wrath of Drum. We think they display the general lack of sophistication and skill which make our tribe so ineffective as we try to advance our ideas.

We’re dumb and unpleasant and nobody likes us. Other than that, we rule!

Tomorrow: Drum’s readers “explain

Not unlike the great Candidate Trump!


We’re performing a citizen’s duty:
Following the lead of Candidate Trump, we’re off on jury duty.

We’ve left a dramatic post below. We expect to resume tomorrow.

Supplemental: Predicting the future can be hard!


Cable star proves it again:
We could see that the analysts were swallowing every word.

We let them watch Rachel Maddow last Friday night. At one point, she did a full tease for an important upcoming report.

A major Republican candidate was about to drop out of the race! “I think it is about to happen,” Maddow dramatically said in this, the tease for her report:
MADDOW (8/22/15): So heads up! I think something dramatic might be about to happen in the presidential race.

It has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Everyone has been thinking that former Texas Governor Rick Perry is going to be the first candidate to drop out of the race after Fox News wouldn’t allow him to be in the first primetime debate and he did badly at the non-primetime, consolation prize, kiddie table debate.

After that, apparently, Rick Perry’s fund-raising dried up or something, because he has stopped paying his staffers. The Rick Perry for president campaign is now a voluntary operation, which is not good.

Also, Rick Perry is under indictment, which is also not good.

So everyone has been thinking—in the giant field of Republican candidates, everyone has been thinking if the big field is about to start to shrink, the first evidence of shrinkage will be when Rick Perry’s candidacy comes to an end. He’s the campaign who everyone thinks is on death watch.

I’m not so sure tonight. I mean, I think Rick Perry’s campaign is on death watch, but I think he might not be the first to quit the race. I think a much bigger name than his might quit before Rick Perry does. I think actually that one major Republican candidate for the presidency might quit, potentially this weekend.

It’s a dramatic story. It’s not getting a lot of national press, but I think it is about to happen and that’s next.

Stay with us.
“It’s a dramatic story,” Maddow said. She said she thought a major candidate was about to quit the Republican race. And no, it wasn’t Rick Perry!

We could see our young analysts were swallowing every word.

Maddow followed with two complete segments on this dramatic story, totaling roughly sixteen minutes of air time. As it turned out, it was Rand Paul who was about to quit the race, or so Maddow thought.

It was a dramatic story, and a rather long one. Needless to say, Maddow’s dramatic semi-prediction turned out to be wrong.

Yesterday morning, the caterwauling started soon after we reached the coffee joint. The analysts had reached page A2 of the Washington Post, where they’d encountered this headline:

“Ky. GOP clears way for Paul to pursue two offices”

The dramatic story had fallen apart. Candidate Paul had squeaked by in a dramatic party vote, by a dramatic 111-36 margin.

Whatever! If you want the background to this false alarm, you can read David Weigel’s short news report in the Post. Or you can watch the two segments from Maddow’s Friday show, which burned up almost sixteen minutes in addition to the original full-length tease.

(To watch the first segment, just click here. For the second full segment, click this.)

For the record, Maddow interviewed no one during her two full segments. At MaddowBlog, links were provided to only two relevant sources—an opinion column from December 2, 2014, and a statewide Kentucky poll from three months earlier.

As far as a viewer could tell, the prediction sprang full-blown from Maddow’s head. It burned a large hole in her program.

Predicting the future is hard; that’s why sensible people try to avoid the practice. On the other hand, blowhards and pundits love exciting, dramatic predictions. Predicting the future is easy and fun, especially if you don’t care if your predictions keep turning out wrong.

Maddow’s Friday night prediction helped illustrate two points about the way her program has been devolving:

First, the Maddow show is now pretty much all-candidates all-the-time. It has been this way at least since early May. Conceivably, the program could continue in this vein right through next November.

The emphasis is on personality—and the emphasis is on trivia. Last Thursday night, Maddow played Candidate Bush’s comical bird calls several times—but she deliberately kept you from knowing that he flatly supports birthright citizenship.

In these ways, we liberals get dumbed down, treated like fools. And as Maddow wastes our time in these ratings-fueled ways, she is not discussing a wide range of important matters which need explanation and clarification.

The second point is even worse. Somewhere along the way, Maddow seems to have gotten it into her head that she is some sort of political expert.

Rather plainly, she isn’t. Her predictions have been persistently bad, but she just keeps making them. On Sunday morning, her latest failed attempt left the analysts in tears.

On Friday evening’s show, Maddow spent almost twenty minutes (tease included) telling a dramatic story. “It’s not getting a lot of national press,” she said, “but I think it is about to happen.”

She could have been reporting, explaining and clarifying something that actually matters—the deeply dangerous email brouhaha; various parts of immigration policy; the nature of mass incarceration; the problems of modern policing; the proposals of Candidate Sanders.

Increasingly, she seems to have decided that this simply isn’t her way.

Candidate Paul is still in the race. The New York Times devoted 200 words to the tedious topic in this brief blog post, with no hard-copy report at all. On Friday, Maddow devoted almost twenty minutes to the topic, giving us the benefit of her latest dramatic insight.

Predicting the future is hard. That said, we’ll guess that this silly personality-piddle may define this program’s agenda right through next November’s election.

In the process, we liberals are being made dumber each night. Presumably, though, the bird calls, snark and disinformation work well for the bottom line.

Supplemental: Anchored in eagerly taking offense!


A fascinating Kevin Drum post:
Like you, we thought of the old Carter Family hit, Anchored in Love:

The tempest is over, I'm safe evermore
What gladness, what rapture is mine
The danger is past, I'm anchored at last
I'm anchored in love divine.

For the hit recording, with complete lyrics, click here.

We thought of that famous old hit when we read a fascinating post by Kevin Drum. Also, when read the fascinating comments his post occasioned.

For our money, Drum began with a slightly peculiar question. Basically, he wanted to know why the term “anchor baby” is offensive:
DRUM (8/21/15): I'm curious about something. Last night I read a longish piece at TNR by Gwyneth Kelly titled “Why ‘Anchor Baby’ Is Offensive.” I was actually sort of curious about that, so I read through it. But all the article did was provide a bit of history about the term and quote a bunch of people saying it was disgusting and dehumanizing. There was no explanation of why it’s offensive.

Don't everyone pile on me at once. If you don't ask, you can't learn, right? So I guess my question is this. Is “anchor baby” offensive because:

*It riles up xenophobia over something that doesn't actually happen very much.
*There's something about the term itself that's obnoxious.

I'm probably going to regret asking this. But I am curious. It's not obvious from first principles what the problem is here.
Why did we think that presentation was a bit peculiar? Here’s why:

For himself, Drum didn’t seem to know why the term in question is offensive. But when he posed his question to readers, he offered them only two options.

They could judge the term offensive for Reason A. Or they could judge the term offensive for Reason B. He didn’t offer them a third option:

Maybe the term isn’t offensive at all, or isn’t all that offensive.

Do you see the possible oddness there? As we read his post, it didn’t seem obvious to Drum, coming in, that the term in question actually is offensive.

He read the piece at TNR. But he found no attempt at explanation, just irate statements that the term is offensive.

He then asked his readers to explain what makes the term offensive, saying this: “It’s not obvious from first principles what the problem is here.”

Are we reading that post correctly? In our reading, Drum doesn’t know why the term is offensive, but he simply accepts the claim that it is. To our ear, that’s the way a great deal of our modern “liberal” discourse works.

Here’s the problem as we see it. We’re not sure that familiar approach is especially smart or constructive. We’re not sure it produces results.

We were fascinated by Drum’s post, and by the explanations it occasioned. In our view, a great deal of modern “liberal” politics is captured in that one short post.

Anchored in love for the whole human race, we’ll consider it further next week.

Supplemental: Rachel and Chris edit Candidate Bush!


The statements we liberals can’t hear:
Your Daily Howler just keeps banging out those results!

Last night, the PBS NewsHour skipped the pork chops and served a bit of chopped beef. We refer to its middling discussion of “birthright citizenship,” termination of which is one part of Candidate Trump’s immigration plan.

In our view, the discussion wasn’t entirely great. We were somewhat puzzled by this Q-and-A:
IFILL (8/20/15): Professor Sherry, is this a uniquely American idea, that if you’re born here, you’re a citizen here?

SHERRY: It’s almost uniquely American. The only other developed country that has birthright citizenship is Canada.

There are a number of South American countries that have it as well. It’s—but no place in Western Europe, no place in Asia, not Australia. A number of European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, had birthright citizenship, and they repealed it. I don’t believe it was constitutional in those cases. But they repealed birthright citizenship over the last 20 or 30 years.
It’s almost uniquely American (presumably meaning ours)? That may be true among “developed countries.” But according to the world’s leading authority, unconditional birthright citizenship is the norm all through the Americas.

[Note: We’ve corrected two errors in the PBS transcript. Sherry’s statement now makes basic sense.]

We also note that Ifill didn’t ask why a bunch of developed nations have been “repealing birthright citizenship over the last 20 or 30 years.” Perhaps the answer would have been upsetting to PBS viewers!

Because of its constitutional grounding, there seems to be little chance that birthright citizenship will be repealed in the U.S. Needless to say, Ifill spent some time teaching us viewers which words and phrases we mustn’t use in discussing this general topic. She discussed the term “anchor babies” and even took a swipe at “self-deportation.”

In such ways, Candidate Trump keeps gaining votes! Let’s note several points:

Late in her segment, Ifill discussed the alleged problem with birthright citizenship. She spoke with USA Today’s Steve Gomez, who described several different types of situation:
IFILL: And on this idea of anchor babies, is it—is there any evidence to support the notion that this is a widespread idea that women come here to have babies and gain citizenship for them? Is there any number—are there any numbers to back that up?

GOMEZ: I mean, it’s always hard to quantify intentions. But, yes, I can tell you, just in the reporting that I and some of my colleagues have done over the years on this issue, that there is absolutely an industry of people who come here or send people to this country for the purpose of giving birth.

In China, for example, travel agencies advertise that you can come over here.
They teach you and coach you on how to speak to the customs and border agent as you’re coming in so that you can get in, have your baby, get the citizenship and head on back.

And unquestionably, there are some undocumented immigrants from Central and South America who have done the same thing when they cross over. But in terms of the numbers, the last time I saw anybody even try to take a look at that was the Pew Research Center a few years ago. And they found that well over 90 percent of the people who gave—of the undocumented immigrants who gave birth in the United States had arrived in the United States at least two years prior.

So in other words, they had come here and they were not pregnant while they were doing so.
Depending on your point of view, Gomez may have described a problem.

In our view, upper-income “birth tourism” is an obvious abuse of a system which was designed for other reasons. In our view, the situation is different in the case of lower-income people who come to this country to work, especially since their presence here has been encouraged by ruling elites for decades.

That said, sensible people will react to this situation in different ways. Here are some basic numbers from a Pew report:
PASSEL AND TAYLOR (8/11/10): An estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the offspring of unauthorized immigrants, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

Unauthorized immigrants comprise slightly more than 4% of the adult population of the U.S., but because they are relatively young and have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (8%) and the child population (7% of those younger than age 18) in this country.
Those aren’t the so-called “anchor babies” about whom Ifill inquired. But large numbers are recorded there. Those numbers don’t seem like a problem to us, but sensible people could differ.

Can sensible liberals tolerate such reactions? As our news orgs become more propagandistic, we liberals are increasingly being trained to offer tribal reactions. With that in mind, we were struck by how much of this week’s discussion concerned the correct language to use when discussing this general topic.

Aside from the actual facts of the case, is “anchor babies” an offensive term? In some settings, it may be hard to avoid. Last night, Ifill used the term in the question above, even after she had been told that it can be seen as a slur! On MSNBC, Candidate Bush was getting slimed, rather dishonestly, for having done something similar.

Below, you see an earlier Q-and-A from the NewsHour. Note: In the course of asking her question, we’d have to say that Ifill basically misstated Bush’s position:
IFILL: Alan, we know, of course, that not all of the Republican candidates are in favor of revoking birthright citizenship. In fact, we heard Jeb Bush today talk about it and say he didn’t necessarily think it was a great idea.

But he also used that term “anchor babies.” Tell me about the political genesis of that term and why it seems to stir up such dust.

GOMEZ: I mean, it’s perceived as such a slur to a lot undocumented immigrants, a lot of Hispanics, a lot of immigrants generally who are at least within that first or second wave of immigration.

This goes back for quite some time. I remember Steve King from Iowa, one of the biggest immigration hard-liners we have seen in a long time, and, much like Trump, a bit bombastic in the way he approaches things, using that term quite a bit just a few years ago. And that is when it kind of gained steam, as best as I can remember.

And so it really sort of kind of speaks to this idea. They had Jeb Bush talking about needing to improve the tone with the Hispanic community in this country, calling on his other Republican candidates to improve the tone, yet he would not back away from using the term “anchor babies.”

And it’s—I think it’s also important to understand that, while Bush was saying that he didn’t believe that we need to change birthright citizenship, he wants to enforce it to try to prevent pregnant parents, pregnant mothers from coming into the country specifically for the purpose of giving birth.

Marco Rubio, a Florida senator, has also endorsed that approach. So even though everybody is not on board with birthright citizenship, we’re seeing a lot of folks who are trying to get at it in different ways.
There’s a lot of strangeness in both parts of that Q-and-A, strangeness which reflects our growing tribalization.

Did Candidate Bush fail to “back away from using the term ‘anchor babies?’” So did Broadcaster Ifill! Even after this Q-and-A, she went on to use the term in a later question, the question we’ve posted above.

Meanwhile, we liberals were propagandized hard by Maddow and Hayes last night. They complained about Bush’s use of the “deeply offensive” term, but kept us from learning his stance on the issue—full birthright citizenship all the way.

Rachel and Chris disappeared that part of Bush’s taped remarks, much as Jaime Fuller had disappeared Candidate Clinton’s avowal of innocence in the email matter. When Lawrence played the tape at 10, he left Bush’s statement in.

(Bush: “You want to get to the policy for a second? I think that people born in this country ought to be American citizens. OK, now we got that over with.” Lawrence left those statements in when he played the tape of Bush’s remarks. Maddow and Hayes edited those statements out. Increasingly, we’re being propagandized in such ways.)

In our view, Maddow has become especially heinous. But our culture is crawling with horrid corporate “journalists” of various tribal stripes.

We expect to discuss this growing breakdown next week. But in our view, Maddow now seems to have been almost wholly destroyed by all the wealth and fame.

Increasingly, we liberal viewers now serve as her toys. But as you know, wealth and fame can be extremely destructive.

PRETENDERS: No journalism need apply!


Part 5—Today on Morning Joe:
Regarding the press corps’ many pretenders, let’s give credit where due.

At this point, on Morning Joe, they don’t even bother pretending! This morning, the embarrassing program’s first ten minutes provided a case in point.

Perhaps for strategic reasons, the videotape the program has posted starts in midstream, in mid-sentence. Mika is discussing an “it” for which no antecedent exists.

Still and all, you can get a sense of the oddness from the first chunk of the truncated tape. As usual, Mika has (1) made up her mind and (2) doesn’t understand.

This is how the tape begins. To watch the whole tape, click here:
MIKA (8/21/15): [tape joins conversation in progress] …Hillary Clinton’s staff says it was permissible under department policy. Is that true? Why do they keep saying that?

JOE: No, that is not true.

MIKA: Why do they keep saying something that is not true?

JOE: A 2009 regulation required that you had to keep your emails contained and preserved, especially for FOIA, purposes of FOIA, at the agency.

MIKA OK, so—

GENE: I believe she says that it was permissible essentially at the moment she set up the server. However, those 2009 regulations did come out. It’s clearly what the White House—

MIKA: What do you mean by that? I have no idea what you mean by that.
“I have no idea what you mean by that?”

You could call that the height of the press corps’ pretending. Or you could regard it as the ultimate lack of pretense.

Mika Brzezinski had no idea what Gene meant by that! And yet, she and the rest of the Morning Joe gang have sat around, day after day, scattering L-bombs across the land concerning this latest scandal.

Clarification has rarely been present as these chimps have conducted their flinging of poo. Accusation and judgment were never far off.

Indeed, by the 6:50 mark on this morning’s tape—the 6:50 mark on the truncated tape—a carpet-bombing occurs. L-bombs litter the countryside. These are the principal comments:
JOE: “...these lies that Clinton’s people keep spinning every single day”

DONNY: “The point is that the Clinton lies are for twenty years and it doesn’t affect them”

MIKA (to Jeremy): “Isn’t the story now, that they continue to lie? To you?”
Those bombs all fell within thirty seconds. Mika didn’t know what Gene was talking about, but she does know a lie when she hears one!

This morning’s truncated tape runs 8 minutes and 29 seconds. We watched the whole segment in real time, including the opening which has been clipped. As we did, we were struck by the following thought:

These people don’t even pretend to pretend at this point! They don’t even pretend that they are engaged in journalism.

After months of aggressive group judgment, they aren’t embarrassed to go on the air and say they don’t know what Gene’s talking about. As in Planet of the Apes, earlier cultural practices seem to have disappeared.

The big stars of this morning show no longer seem to understand the basic process of gathering facts. Soon, Mika was explaining the facts of the case, in the way that chimps of this type understand that discarded process:
MIKA: OK, so wait! I just—we have here two lines, the beginning and the end of the story. And you guys tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

A federal judge said she did not follow government email policy in using her personal server for State Department business.

And at this hearing for the FII—FOI [sic] suit, the judge said we wouldn’t even be here if the employee had followed government policy.

Then we have her campaign staff saying that her use of a personal email account was consistent with her predecessors and permissible under department policy.

Is it, or is it not, permissible? I just want the answer.

I don’t want like lots of sentences around it. I just want the answer!

Mika is paid very large sums to serve as a national journalist. At one point, she even wrote a book discussing the way she'd been underpaid.

Let’s consider the ways she pursues her corporate assignment:

She tells us she has “two lines, the beginning and the end of the story.” But she doesn’t cite the source from which she seems to be quoting. She doesn’t explain, in some general way, what particular “story” she’s talking about.

(She may have been quoting, somewhat loosely, from this New York Times report. That's just a guess, of course.)

As she proceeds, here’s what she does. She sets up an opposition between two statements: a somewhat imprecise claim which she attributes to a federal judge, and a second imprecise claim from the Clinton campaign.

It doesn’t occur to her that the parties may not have been talking about the same thing when these statements were made. Nor does she raise an obvious question:

In what way did Clinton violate policy, according to the federal judge?

These questions don’t occur to Mika. She then defines the attitude she brings to all such matters, and yes, she actually said this:

“Is it, or is it not, permissible? I don’t want lots of sentences around it. I just want the answer!”

She doesn’t want a lot of sentences! She just wants the answer!

Less than two minutes later, we get Mika's answer as the L-bombs drop.

For the record, we are not assuming perfect correctness on Secretary Clinton’s part. That said, we discuss the work of journalists here, not the work of candidates.

Right from its wonderfully truncated start, that videotape from Morning Joe displays the culture and customs of modern post-journalism. There’s barely a hint of journalistic behavior in the whole rambling mess.

In fairness, Jeremy refuses to leap to conclusions, even when taunted and pushed. Gene supplies a few possible facts, but no one wants to examine his claims in the way a normal journalist would, and Gene is rarely inclined to rise to the task of challenging the clan.

Donny betrays his ADD at several points on the tape. As others seem to discuss the alleged facts of the case, he keeps flipping over to his view of the politics. In fairness, this is a form of attention disorder which runs all through the guild.

We are now left with Mika and Joe. Whose behavior is worse?

Is it Mika’s simpering passive aggression, the dingbat role she has always played as part of this peculiar program’s throwback sexual politics?

Or is it the overt aggression of Overcaff Joe, who reveals today that he can’t imagine a federal judge being wrong, overwrought, misparaphrased or in some way misunderstood? Can’t imagine such a thing as long as the paraphrased words of the judge can be used to let him drop his bombs?

We do not assume perfectly correct conduct on the part of Secretary Clinton. We also don’t assume incorrect conduct, or even conduct worth talking about.

That said, we talk about journalists here. And in that tape from Morning Joe, you see a succession of perfect examples of modern post-journalism.

The conduct results in a type of group judgment which has long been aimed at the Clintons (and at Candidate Gore). For a blast from the past—from 1994!—read Gene Lyons’ latest column at The National Memo.

Lyons seems to assume that Candidate Clinton has done nothing “wrong” in this instance. We don’t share that assumption, but we also don’t assume anything else.

Here’s what we do assert:

The Morning Joe gang has almost passed the point of pretending. This morning’s tape, which starts in mid-sentence, is a gong-show in all respects.

Who is worse, Mika or Joe? Or is it their chortling guests?