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


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

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

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

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

We'd also recommend this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where do Official Group Stories come from?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can answer these questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 exit polls

2017 exit polls

ANTHROPOLOGY NOW: Where do group misstatements come from?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diagnosing Omarosa!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANTHROPOLOGY NOW: "Fictitious times!"


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did it mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, back at the press corps:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow: The silent generation

We chose to see this as a complaint!


Parker profiles Donald J. Trump's original top enabler:
We chose to see it as a complaint when Kathleen Parker semi-profiled Mika Brzezinski in today's Washington Post.

We're so old that we call remember when Joe and Mika helped launch Candidate Trump. We became regular viewers of Morning Joe first half hour during that period, so weird did we think the program's performance was.

The lovebirds have spent a lot of time pretending they never did that. Their program grows ever more crazy, part of the growing dose of The Crazy with which our world is assailed.

We chose to think that Parker was almost saying, "Enough!" In a column headlined "Women's rage unleashed," she started describing Mika:
PARKER (12/13/17): The tweet heard 'round a world already agog about events in Alabama launched yet another cultural moment, at least along the Washington-New York corridor. On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," a female guest said the tweet made her "blood boil," while co-anchor Mika Brzezinski wagged her finger at the screen and launched a soliloquy of scold at Ivanka Trump and other White House women.

It was her own version of a special place in hell for women, even a daughter, who persist in supporting Donald Trump.

It wasn't always thus, Mr. Irony interrupts. For months during the campaign, Brzezinski and her now-fiance, Joe Scarborough, gave Trump free rein on their show. "Morning Trump," some dubbed it. In recent months, perhaps in penance for helping Trump get elected with free airtime, the couple has become his morning nightmare.

Perhaps, too, Trump's personal insults of Brzezinski have turned her into a feminist avenger. On Tuesday, she peered piercingly into the camera, singeing the cameraman with her gaze, and schooled press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
We were glad to see Parker mention the nightmare of "Morning Trump." We think this program's original obeisance should not be forgotten.

Within the guild, these things are typically done with tact. But we thought Parker might be starting to say that things have gone too far on Morning Rant when she said that Mika's "soliloquy of scold" had started to make her seem like a "feminist avenger."

In our view, the brainless histrionics of the program once called "Morning Trump" is a visible part of our deepening cultural problem. We chose to think that Parker was suggesting as much as she continued her semi-profile:
PARKER: Brzezinski's moment wasn't quite Walter Cronkite's "mired in stalemate" declaration of U.S. failure in Vietnam, but she clearly decided to part with journalistic tradition and make Trump's takedown her personal mission. As her message intensified, her male guests remained stoic while Scarborough had the look of a boy trying not to do anything that would attract Momma's attention.

If Trump, in his strange way, had hoped for such a reaction, Alabamians likely enjoyed the distraction after months under the microscope.
Was Parker mocking Mika and Joe? Fervently, one can pray.

This morning, Mika ranted and railed about the way Judge Roy Moore rides his horse. She went on, and on and on, about this essential topic.

These rants aren't lovely, dark or deep. If we might quote a recent observer, her male guests remained stoic while Scarborough had the look of a boy trying not to do anything that would attract Momma's attention.

Our press corps has long been mired in various forms of The Crazy. Once, two stars made goo-goo eyes at their best pal, Candidate Trump. Now they "part with journalistic tradition" as they rant and clown.

Willie attempts to tackle turnout!


There's only one word for this—sad:
In fairness, the children have to spend lots of time in hair and makeup.

They also have to study their scripts. As Talking Cable Star Ken has said, "Cable news is hard!"

Once in a while, the children's scripts compel them to tackle some technical matter. So it was that Willie Haskell-Geist found himself attempting to discuss voter turnout down Alabama way.

Willie tried to tackle the topic in the first segment of today's Morning Joe. Joe Scarborough played along as Willie bungled the topic.
To observe the initial bungling, click here, move four minutes in:
GEIST (12/13/17): I said something on the air yesterday about the African-American turnout. They had talked about getting Obama-level 2008 turnout. I think the term I used was "pipe dream." I couldn't see how, without Barack Obama on the ballot, that was going to happen.

They did it! They did it. African-Americans turned out in the same numbers as they did—think about that!—in 2008 with Barack Obama, an historic candidate, on the ballot. Look at that!

JOE: That's just staggering. That is the most incredible story of all coming out of—

WILLIE: Isn't that unbelievable?

JOE: Unbelievable!

WILLIE: Doug Jones rode into the Senate on the back of African American voters and some suburban Republican women voters in this state.
The feel-good scripting is easy to spot. But as Willie and Joe carried on in this way, a visual seemed to say that African-American turnout in yesterday's election had been 29 percent.

That would be an extremely low turnout rate. Why in the world would Willie and Joe think that was so great?

Inevitably, Willie had bungled this topic in every conceivable way. For starters, let's try to establish some basic facts:

For starters, No, Virginia! African-Americans didn't "turn out [yesterday] in the same numbers as they did in 2008." On the other hand, black Alabamians didn't post the miserable turnout rate of 29 percent.

As technical topics go, "turnout" and "turnout rate" just aren't real hard at all. But they proved to be way too much for Willie and Joe this morning.

A few minutes later, Willie tried to tackle the topic again. This time, his pitiful technical bungling was even more apparent. Click here, move six minutes in:
GEIST: Just to underline these numbers one more time:

2008, black turnout in Alabama was 29 percent. 2012, it was 28 percent. And again, last night, 29 percent, in an off-year election without Barack Obama on the ballot.

MIKA: Wow!

WILLIE: And by the way, the broader turnout, according to the Secretary of State, was 40 percent. Remember his prediction, 25 percent? Forty percent last night.
Question: Has anyone ever been more incompetent than Willie Haskell-Geist? Who but a major "cable news" star could possibly be this dumb?

Note what Geist said in that second bite at the apple. First, he seems to praise black Alabamians for a turnout rate of 29 percent. He then says the overall turnout rate was a much higher 40 percent!

Why would he want to praise black voters if their turnout rate was so much lower than the overall rate? This obvious puzzle went unexplained as Mika simply said "Wow."

In fact, Geist had thoroughly bungled this topic. Let's take it step by step:

Black turnout: Almost surely, black turnout was not as large yesterday as in 2008.

In 2008, there were 2.10 million votes cast in Alabama. Yesterday, only 1.34 million votes were cast.

Overall participation was much lower yesterday. Almost surely, way more black Alabamians went to the polls in 2008.

Statewide turnout rate: According to Geist, the Secretary of State has said that the overall turnout rate yesterday waas 40 percent. That's the type of low turnout rate which our democracy routinely produces, even in high-profile elections.

We'll assume that's an accurate statement. But when Geist says black turnout rate was a much lower 29 percent, he's almost certainly wrong.

In that statement, Geist is confusing "black turnout rate" with "black turnout as a percentage of total turnout." As compared to 2008, voter turnout was way down on a statewide basis. But the black percentage of the total vote matched the percentage from 2008.

There's nothing hard about these topics, until a hapless bungler like Haskell-Geist comes along. That said, the scripting here was obvious. In line with current, extremely childish feel-good nostrums, the children wanted to praise blacks and women for pushing Jones over the top.

Haskell-Geist tried to do accomplish this task. As he did, he seemed to say that yesterday's black turnout rate was 1) extremely low, and 2) much lower than the overall turnout rate.

No one challenged his obvious bungling. Mika knew she ought to say "Wow;" Joe simply played along. No one else corrected the record. On Morning Joe, the rules are clear:

The minions do not correct the stars as the stars bungle along.

None of this pitiful bungling matters, except as a portrait of corporate press corps incompetence. These people are overpaid TV stars, full and complete total stop. They know very few facts, can handle few technical topics.

They do understand their prevailing scripts. They exist for one purpose only:

To peddle prevailing corporate narratives, thus treating their viewers like marks.

THE PAROCHIALS: The topics NBC likes to cover!


Epilogue—Craziest candidate ever:
Was Roy Moore the craziest candidate ever? Or at least since Judge Roy Bean?

Possibly not! That said, he was almost surely the craziest Senate candidate in the modern era. He made, and makes, Sharron Angle seem excessively sane.

Moore had been a major public figure since 1992. He had routinely engaged in crazy behavior as a public official—behavior that was crazy even by Alabama conservative standards.

He'd made endless crazy statements, a practice he maintained this month to the very end.

Yesterday, Moore was likely the only voter in Alabama who arrived at the polls on a horse. Aside from his wife, that is, who's a much better rider than Judge Moore is—or so said Mika Brzezinski this morning, in one of her angry rants.

Judge Roy Moore may have been the craziest candidate ever! That's why we were struck by what Vaughn Hillyard said on today's Morning Joe.

Hillyard may turn out to be a great TV journalist. At present, he's the very young NBC News reporter who was dispatched to Alabama to cover the Senate race.

What do we mean by very young? Hillyard is four years out of Arizona State (class of 2013). He's inexperienced, but telegenic. This brings us to his statement today, as seen on Morning Joe.

We were struck by what Hillyard said. In our view, it helps explain a horrible headline which appears on the front page of today's Washington Post:
HILLYARD (12/13/17): You guys, I'm not a man from the Deep South here. I haven't spent much time in Alabama until this last month, when I came out here the day the Washington Post broke the story, on November 9.
Hillyard went on to make some fairly silly but on-script remarks about the things he's learned, "over these last five weeks," about Alabama.

Forget those fairly silly remarks. We were struck by Hillyard's statement, which we've heard him make before, about when he arrived in Bama.

Uh-oh! According to Hillyard, he was dispatched to Alabama on November 9. According to Hillyard, that was "the day the Washington Post broke the story."

There was no need for Hillyard to say what "the story" was. He was referring to the original Washington Post report about an alleged sexual assault by Moore, and about the famous jurist's dating habits circa 1979.

Full disclosure: According to Nexis, Hillyward was in Alabama on Tuesday, September 26, covering Election Night in the Senate primary. After that, NBC News pulled him back—until "the story" broke.

Here's the way we read that fact. We'll speculate a bit:

NBC News probably wasn't hugely concerned about the fact that Judge Roy Moore was the craziest candidate ever. Along with all the other big orgs, the network probably wouldn't have paid a lot of attention to the crazy statements and behaviors which have marked Moore's life in and around public office in the past twenty-five years.

By the standards of corporate news, that sort of thing is boring. But when the Post launched a good sex story, young Hillyard was on the next plane.

Over the next five weeks, he provided a youthful, telegenic presence in the deep red state. Early this morning, he closed his run with some fairly silly remarks.

We're commenting here about NBC News, not about Vaughn Hillyard. Sadly, we're inclined to link the network's love for "the story" to this front-page headline in today's hard-copy Washington Post:
"GOP nears deal to cut top tax rate for wealthy"
Over the past five weeks, the boys and girls of the upper-end press have been in love with "the story." Again and again, especially on cable, they seemed to focus on Moore's dating habits from forty years ago.

The children love to talk about topics like this. More substantial topics bore them. The suits consider substantial topics to be deadly. This has been the norm in corporate news for at least the past thirty years.

They love to talk about sex—and, at one time, about drugs. They hate to talk about matters of substance. As they talk about sex and drugs and the like, they love to embellish, invent and disappear facts. This proclivity has now been extended to their new love, their love for virtue-signalling stances regarding gender and "race."

As they've entertained themselves in these ways, they've enabled a deadly war which changed the course of world history. They've enabled the massive looting which still characterizes our nation's health care "system."

And uh-oh! In their childish horseplay, they've also enabled the GOP tax proposal which may pass in the next week or so. Doug Jones won't be sworn in yet. He won't have a vote.

As that ludicrous tax proposal has been making its way through the Congress, the children have been talking about Judge Moore's long-ago dating habits, not excluding the scandalous fact that his wife was only 24 when the pair got married. But then, the children have been behaving this way for at least the past thirty years. At the upper end of the guild, they're quite well paid for their service.

As you know, it's all anthropology now! Through miracles of telepathy, future anthropologists keep sending us statements from the years which follow the nuclear conflagration they refer to as Mister Trump's War.

Our species simply wasn't up to the task, these gloomy savants keep saying. As we listened today to NBC's fresh-faced reporter, we couldn't say that these gloomy sprites necessarily have it wrong.

More to come: Clown college! Pathetically, Willie Geist-Haskell tries to discuss turnout rates.

Also, Kathleen Parker has heard enough from someone on Morning Joe.

Zephyr Teachout gets it right!


Recommends end to stampedes:
Zephyr Teachout gets it right in today's New York Times.

She isn't sure that Franken should quit. She recommends an end to stampedes.

More specifically, she recommends that we reconnect with a pair of old friends. She names these old friends at the start of her column:
TEACHOUT (12/12/17): I care passionately about #MeToo. Women are routinely demeaned, dismissed, discouraged and assaulted. Too many women’s careers are stymied or ended because of harassment and abuse. In politics, where I have worked much of my adult life, this behavior is rampant.

I also believe in zero tolerance. And yet, a lot of women I know—myself included—were left with a sense that something went wrong last week with the effective ouster of Al Franken from the United States Senate. He resigned after a groundswell of his own Democratic colleagues called for him to step down.

Zero tolerance should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality. As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on social media.

Due process means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond.
And proportionality means that while all forms of inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, the response should be based on the nature of the transgressions.
Teachout speaks on behalf of a pair of old friends—due process and proportionality. She even describes what those friendships entail. Essentially, she's suggesting that we stop the stampedes.

Teachout says she was troubled by "the effective ouster of Al Franken from the United States Senate" last week. We think that ouster had the feel of a stampede.

Having said that, let us also say this—it isn't clear that Franken would gain from a resort to due process. It's possible that he chose to resign because he knows that other charges would arise if he remained on the scene.

Teachout makes the same general point. "With time, and the existing ethics procedures, things are likely to emerge that will surprise us all," she writes. "New facts may put Senator Franken in a better light, or a far worse one, and we should be open to both."

Would an ethics hearing help or hurt Franken? We have no way of knowing. We do know an apparent bum's rush when we apparently see one, and we thought we apparently saw such a stampede last week.

According to future anthropologists, our struggling species was never really equipped to understand the virtues of due process and proportionality. Despite this gloomy assessment, Teachout says we should call these old friends again.

Pointless though such an effort might be, we think she got it right.

The key phrase there is "in recent weeks!"


Case studies in liberal failure:
It's amazing to see the kind of crap we liberals receive from our "intellectual leaders."

Consider Josh Marshall's web site, TPM. This morning, it offers us an inspirational news report by Nicole Lafond.

Lafond begins like this:
LAFOND (12/12/17): Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is not backing down from her efforts to hold President Trump accountable for the accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

After Trump tweeted calling the senator names and suggesting that Gillibrand was once willing to “do anything” for campaign contributions from him, Gillibrand responded with a simple message: “You cannot silence me.”

Gillibrand has become a prominent force in combating sexual harassment and assault in Washington in recent weeks.
She, along with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), introduced legislation last month that would overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints. She was the first to call on her colleague, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), to resign after weeks of mounting allegations against him. On Monday, she called on Trump to resign the same day three of his accusers came forward to shed new light on their claims of sexual misconduct against the President.
The report proceeds from there. Already, the post is inspirational, if your IQ is 10:

Gillibrand isn't backing down! Donald J. Trump can't silence her!

This is the kind of drivel we're frequently served on the partisan Net and by liberal cable. It's designed to make us feel tribally strong, to keep us returning for more.

We had a different reaction. In our view, the key phrase there would be "in recent weeks." To wit:

"Gillibrand has become a prominent force in combating sexual harassment and assault in Washington in recent weeks."

In recent weeks? Far from being inspirational, that strikes us as part of the problem!

"In recent weeks," we've all learned about the ridiculous system in place in the Congress for dealing with sexual harassment. The system, such as it is, dates to 1995. Being sensible, we've wondered why fiery leaders like Gillibrand accepted that absurd arrangement all these years.

She's boldly fought back "in recent weeks?" To us, that sounds like an indictment. At TPM, it's supposed to make us feel bold, bright and good, through typical journo-signalling.

By the way, who is Nicole Lafond? She's three years out of Olivet Nazarene University (class of 2014).

To state the obvious, there's nothing wrong with being youngish or even young. Low salaries help Marshall swell his bottom line, an obvious tribal good. But it also raises the likelihood of liberals receiving silly pap from our fiery, play-for-pay web sites.

Gillibrand has emerged "in recent weeks?" Why isn't that part of the problem?

Later today: Teachout gets it right

THE PAROCHIALS: "The best love story, ever!"


Part 4—Ages, 44 and 19:
Long ago and far away, the Washington Post established the lens through which today's Alabama Senate election would be viewed.

More precisely, it happened on November 10 (on-line, November 9). On that day, the Post reported that an Alabama woman, Leigh Corfman, was accusing Moore of molesting her in 1979, when she was 14 years old.

That was a very serious charge. Instantly, the Post injected a note of confusion into the proceedings. It did so by including reports by two other women who said that they had dated Moore during that same time period, when they were 17 and 18-19 years old.

These women said they had dated Moore with their mothers' enthusiastic consent. It seemed their mothers had been hoping that the dating might lead to marriage. Pundits disappeared this fact, which didn't support the moral stampede they would now perform.

The Post seemed to think that these reports of dating supported the charge of molestation. Our journalists tend to reason that way when their stampedes are on.

Had Moore been accused of assault, or did he stand accused of dating? We mention this point of confusion because of several subsequent phone calls to C-Span's Washington Journal.

That Sunday, two amateur anthropologists telephoned the venerable program to offer a bit of cultural context. One caller seemed partisan; the other didn't. At roughly 7:25 AM, the first caller offered this:
CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA (11/12/17): This whole controversy about Roy Moore is really ridiculous. The age of consent in the South has always been younger than urban areas...

I'm from Missouri originally, and my grandfather married my grandmother, he was 28 and she was 15, that's just how it was done. They had ten children, there were married for sixty-plus years. It was not uncommon....
"My grandparents were Christian," the caller said. "It was honorable. They were married in a church. You guys just are making a mountain out of a mess up Alabama's choice of who they want for senator."

That caller sounded partisan. Five minutes later, another such caller pretty much didn't:
CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA (11/12/17): I wanted to say that I know, today's standards, this kind of thing is definitely not acceptable, but many years ago, particularly in the South and Midwest, there was a culture that adult men married young teenagers. My grandmother was 15 and my grandfather was in his 20's when they got married. They stayed married for 70-something years. I know it's not, today it's not acceptable, but there was a time...

It's not right today. Things have changed. We don't do those sort of things today.
This second caller may have been a bit sanguine about what we do today. Just this summer, the state of New York "raised the age of marriage to 17 in an effort to prevent child marriage."

We're quoting the Associated Press report on this legislative breakthrough. "The change took effect Thursday, a month after lawmakers voted to rewrite a state law that had allowed children as young as 14 to legally wed," the AP further reported.

"Fourteen was just ridiculous,” a thoughtful Democratic assemblywoman told the PBS NewsHour at that time.

In that same report, the NewsHour noted that New Jersey governor Chris Christie had just "vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the first state to outlaw marriage for anyone under 18." In New Hersey, it remains legal for people under 16 to wed, but they do need a judge's permission.

In fact, we do still do it today! According to that AP report, "more than 3,800 minors were married in New York between 2000 and 2010."

None of this has anything to do with the charge that Moore molested Corfman when she was 14 years old. Those C-Span callers were discussing dating and marriages conventions, not the question of (statutory) assault.

The callers were tumbling through the confusion which had been introduced by the Washington Post. That said, they offered a bit of cultural context concerning the "accusation" that Moore had dated someone who was 19 when he was 30 years old.

They also offered a bit of context concerning the fact that the mothers in question cheered Ol' Roy on when he dated their teenage daughters. Since much of the press corps has seemed to be more concerned with the dating than with the alleged assaults, those callers help us see the congenital parochialism which has afflicted our upper-end press corps on its many stampedes over the past many years.

When our press corps stages a moral panic, they tend to ignore all cultural context. Examples:

In 1987, they began calling around to see if various presidential candidates may have smoked marijuana—AKA, Mary Jane—when they were teenagers.

You had to be stupendously dumb to care about nonsense as that, but the press corps was up to the challenge. When they called us about one of the candidates, we were struck by their cultural myopia.

Other drugs of that era were much scarier than marijuana. But when the journalists asked about "Mary Jane," they never inquired about them!

Five years later, the moral panic involved Candidate (Bill) Clinton's attempt to avoid being shipped to Vietnam in 1968. Again, we were stuck by the depth of the reporters' parochialism.

Reading their accounts of this matter, a person might have thought that everyone except Bill Clinton had been eager to serve. In fact, the vast majority of male university students were seeking ways to avoid Vietnam as of 1968. Clinton's behavior had been completely routine—unless you were reading a major newspaper, where intrepid reporters seemed to have no awareness of this fact.

(We're still amazed, and disappointed, when we see fiery corporate liberals talk about Donald J. Trump's "five deferments." We keep searching for Joy-Ann Reid's record of military service before or after her four years at Harvard, but no such record exists. Sad!)

Alas! Our parochial press corps began a stampede about Roy Moore's dating practices. Again and again, they've seemed to be more concerned with his dating than with the two alleged assaults.

Instantly, they disappeared the fact that those mothers had enthusiastically seen this dating as a possible route to marriage. This fact would undermine their panic. It had to be destroyed.

Future anthropologists, speaking from caves, have identified this incessant parochialism as one of the factors which led to the conflagration they refer to as "Mister Trump's War." Today, let's explore the cultural context surrounding Roy Moore's dating in the 1970s, the ridiculous topic on which our press corps has incessantly chosen to focus.

Why did those mothers hope that Moore might end up marrying their daughters? Why did they jump with joy when he started dating their daughters? What was the cultural context surrounding those unrequited dreams?

To answer your questions, we'll start with a headline which appeared just three years ago, in August 2014. Though it appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, the sentiments this headline expressed were seconded everywhere mainstream press bullshit is sold.

Gushingly, the headline referred to "the best love story, ever." The full headline said this:
This Is Why Bogie and Bacall Had the Best Love Story, Ever
Lauren Bacall had just died; she was 89 years old. According to that childish headline, her love affair with Humphrey Bogart had been "the best love story, ever."

Was it really the best such story ever? We doubt there's any such critter. At any rate, this "best love story" included a wedding when Bogart was 45 years old.

His blushing bride had been 20! When this "best story" began on the set of a film, she was just 19 years old.

The mothers of the women Moore dated had come of age on such "best love stories, ever." Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall tied the knot in 1945, creating a long-bruited tale.

That same year, Charlie Chaplin married Oona O'Neill, daughter of the famous playwright. The blushing bride was 18 years old; Charlie was 56. The pair remained married until Charlie's death, raising eight children together.

People, we're just saying! This is part of the cultural context which led to those mothers' attitudes about datng and marriage—and also, perhaps, to Ol' Roy's!

As those C-Span callers suggested, there was a time when women tended to marry very young—and not uncommonly to older gentleman callers. In the case of Lauren Bacall, it wasn't just The Hollywood Reporter which gushed about her best love story ever.

It was also the Washington Post, the very newspaper which set off this year's moral panic about the past dating game. This is the way the Washington Post gushed about the "giddy" way this "teenage girl" fell in love with way-cool Bogie.

Exciting Post headline included:
MCDONALD (8/13/14): The magnetic mystique of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

He was 25 years her senior.

She wielded side-eye the way medieval knights wielded maces.

Together, they were “the most gossiped-about couple of the Forties.”


Bacall was his fourth wife, and yet Bogart was so undeniably smitten, Bacall was probably the only woman who had the power to render even Marilyn Monroe about as appealing as a bowl of chopped liver.

In February 1987, Orange Coast magazine ran a quote Bogart gave about stardom decades earlier: “It ruins so many people—particularly actresses,” Bogie said. “Ninety percent of them are the dullest broads in town. They have no appeal for me whatsoever, and that goes for Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and Gina Lollobrigida. In fact, the only actress in town with any true allure is Lauren Bacall.” Theirs wasn’t any old kind of love affair—it was aspirational.

Bacall was 19 when she and Bogart began work
on “To Have and to Have Not,” their first of four movies together. When they fell in love, she fell with the giddy, unencumbered ease of a teenage girl, because she was one. At the time, Bacall was so new to adulthood that she was still keeping her relationship with Bogie a secret from her mother. When he called one night, she flew out of bed to meet him on Rodeo Drive, where he’d been drinking with Jackie Gleason. Her mother, Natalie, who moved in with Bacall, ordered her back into bed. The love-struck Bacall rushed out of the house, a story she related in her memoir “Lauren Bacall By Myself”...:
Read on for the good parts! Meanwhile, what was happening on the set? Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh! The Post explained it thusly:
MCDONALD: “They really were smitten with each other,” said dancer Joy Barlowe in “Bogart.” “You could tell by the looks. He always had his hand on her shoulder. And he called her Baby. ... They were always disappearing."
He called her "Baby"—and they kept disappearing! Heh heh heh heh heh!

The Washington Post thought it was "aspirational" when Humphrey Bogart, age 44, began pursuing a giddy teenage girl behind her mother's back. Three years later, the same newspaper set off a moral panic:

Ol' Roy Moore, ages 30 and 34, had dated two teenagers! He'd done so with their mothers' enthusiastic consent!

At age 44, Bogart was cool. At age 30, Moore was so old that he set off a panic!

Remember—this has nothing to do with the claim that Moore molested Leigh Corfman and violently attacked Gloria Young Nelson. We're speaking here about the Post's report that he had dated two young women who were 17 and 19 years old.

For our money, it wouldn't generally be a good idea for people to date or marry across that age divide. But it also isn't a good idea when our morally bankrupt corporate journalists touch off their moral panics—in this case, a panic they supported in the standard way, by disappearing a whole lot of relevant facts.

Why did those mothers hope that Ol' Roy might end up marrying their teenage daughters? Let us count several ways:

As everyone except journalists knows, women tended to marry quite young in the middle part of the last century. According to the Census Bureau, the average age of first marriage for women was 20.3 in 1950 and 1960. By 1970, that average age had climbed to 20.8 years of age.

That average age is much higher today. As a general matter, we think that makes better sense.

But in the era in question, many women married quite young. And in the years when those mothers came of age, youthful marriage to an older man was almost a cultural ideal, especially if you were reading movie magazines.

Those mothers were likely born around 1940. They would have been forming their cultural notions in the 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1950, Elizabeth Taylor starred in the semi-iconic film, Father of the Bride. According to the script, her character was 20 years old when she semi-iconically married.

In real life, Taylor got married that very same year—but in real life, she was just 18. Two years later, in 1952, she married for the second time.

By this time, she was 20 years old. Her second husband, actor Michael Wilding, was a well-seasoned fellow of 40.

This pattern wasn't unusual. During this golden age of teen marriage, movie magazines spilled with love affairs between very young women and older established men. (Such stories clogged film scripts of the 1950s. We'll save that story for another day.)

Hollywood's female stars married young, in some cases before they were stars. They often married older men.

Howe old were they when they first married? Judy Garland was 19. She married an established band leader, David Rose, who was 31.

(At age 17, she'd been thrown over by band leader Artie Shaw, age 29. After dumping Judy, he married Lana Turner, who was age 18.)

At age 23, Judy married again. This time, she married director Vincent Minelli, who was 42. (In the iconic film they'd been making together, Meet Me in St. Louis, the Garland character gets engaged when she's 17 or 18.)

That was Liz, Lana and Judy, but mid-century movie magazines spilled with stories of teenaged brides. Let's run through some ages:

Taylor married at 18, then again at 20. Janet Leigh married at 15, then again at 18.

Ava Gardner married at age 19. Her second marriage, at age 23, was to that man again, Artie Shaw, who was now 35.

Natalie Wood married at 19. (Robert Wagner, age 27.) This followed her earlier affair with director Nicholas Ray, 27 years her senior.

Marilyn Monroe first married at 15. When Rita Hayworth was 18, she married Edward Judson, an oilman turned promoter who was more than twice her age. Ingrid Bergman married at 21. Dr. Lindstrom was 30.

These stories helped set the cultural context as those mothers of the non-movement were coming of age. Then too, there were the examples from the world of popular music, especially Southern music.

When Elvis started dating Priscilla, she was just 14! (He was 24.) Loretta Lynn married at age 15—and please don't ask about Jerry Lee, who managed to take things too far!

When Jerry Lee Lewis married Myra Gale Brown, he was 23 years old. It was Jerry Lee's third marriage, though it was Myra Gale's first.

Uh-oh! As it turned out, His blushing bride was his first cousin once removed, whatever that means. But also, she was 13 years old! Apparently, she hadn't been removed from Jerry Lee's presence enough!

Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Gale Brown stayed married for 13 years, raising two children together. That said, Jerry Lee had apparently gone a bit too far in his choice of a 13-year-old bride. The marriage produced a great deal of pushback, damaging his career.

That said, teenage marriage was hardly unknown when Moore began dating the teenage daughters of those Moore-lover mothers. It was still entirely common for women to marry in their teenage years. Marriage to an older, successful man remained a type of cultural ideal.

"Old coot" marriage would remain a Hollywood staple. In 1965, Cary Grant married Dyan Cannon. He was 61, she was 28.

One year later, Sinatra may have topped him. At age 51, he married Mia Farrow. She was 21.

Should Ol' Roy Moore have dated those teens? Should their mothers, dreaming of marriage, have cheered the old goat on?

We can't answer those questions. We can tell you this:

The Washington Post touched off a panic about his dates with those teenagers. Waves of pundits formed a stampede. They did so in the stupid way they always behave at such junctures.

Many journalists seemed more concerned with Moore's dating than with the two criminal assaults with which he stands accused. Many journalists seemed to be unable to distinguish between these types of behavior.

As the journalists staged this panic, they may have convinced a few more people that they can't be sensible or fair, whether on a regional or on a political basis. The people who called C-Span that day already seemed to be impressed by the parochialism these unimpressive, upper-middle class strivers routinely display.

In the past month, the press has staged a moral panic about the way Roy Moore once "pursued" teenagers. They engaged in their usual group behaviors to pimp their story along.

Most strikingly, they disappeared the fact that the mothers of those two teenagers had been cheering Moore on. You weren't allowed to hear that fact. It undermined the panic.

What else did these idiots do as they staged their latest stampede? They tended to disappear the facts about those alleged assaults! When's the last time you heard someone describe the violent physical assault alleged by Beverly Young Nelson—a violent attack she says occurred when she was 16 years old?

The children have disappeared that. But also, they've almost completely disappeared the crazy views Moore has expressed, in the past twenty years, as a fully grown public figure. His lunatic views are boring. His dating behavior is not.

Moore qualifies as a genuine nut, but this fact has largely been ignored. The children were too intent on their latest moral panic, a moral panic which seemed to revolve around forty-year-old dating behavior.

Their moral panic was built around sex. Truth to tell, these deeply immature boys and girls want to discuss nothing else.

They are the fruit of a failing culture. Every night, future anthropologists, as if in a series of dreams, have been ever-so-sadly talking to us about this.

Bacall had married Humphrey Bogart! Why should their daughters be different?

Again, concerning the Washington Post: These are the views of the Washington Post concerning old men dating teenagers:

As of August 2014, it was the coolest thing ever! But just last month, in November 2017, it was such a hideous practice that it set off a panic.

You see, the Post didn't like Roy Moore! And when our "press corps" agrees on a target, this is the way they perform.

They didn't discuss his lunatic views; they wanted to talk about sex, nothing else. According to future anthropologists, it was the only thing that fired their jets in the years before Mister Trump's War.

How to tell you're being played!


The wages of "cable news" stardom:
At the risk of seeming negative, we're going to comment on last Thursday night's Rachel Maddow Show.

The program started, as it sometimes does, with the program's host, Rachel Maddow, talking down to her viewers. Soon, she offered a brief report which deserves memorializing.

This brief report concerned Donald J. Trump's strange, slurred speech patterns during a public statement the previous day. Trump's odd performance had created concerns that he might have experienced some sort of health problem, such as perhaps a stroke.

Almost surely, that wasn't the case. But on the subject of weird speech patterns, just consider the way Maddow spoke during this brief report.

She started off by saying this. To watch the full tape, click here:
MADDOW (12/7/17): So all that stuff has just happened tonight. A lot of unexpected there's a lot of weird news.

And on the subject of weird news, this is something that I did not talk about last night because I felt a little oogy about it. And honestly I still hesitate to bring it up now, but I'm going to because it has an important news consequence today. Despite my ooginess I'm just going to go there.
Yes, you're reading that right. According to Maddow, she hadn't discuss this event the night before because she "felt oogy about it." In case you were hoping you'd heard her wrong, she quickly said that she was going to discuss the topic that night, "despite my ooginess."

(Maddow pronounced "oogy" to rhyme with "boogie.")

At this point, we offer some advice. When someone talks to you that way on TV, you are being conned. You're being played by a corporate clown—in this case, by someone who 1) spends a lot of time discussing herself and 2) spends a lot of time making you think she's a little more special and unique than you and your circle are.

The previous night, Maddow had felt "oogy" about discussing the topic! As the corporate clown continued, she showcased her greatest talent—her skill at getting us to listen her as she talks about herself:
MADDOW (continuing directly): All right. Yesterday at the White House, when the president announced this very controversial decision that the U.S. will eventually move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, that announcement rattled nerves around the world because of its potentially explosive consequences in the Middle East and elsewhere. But at a more pedestrian level, the president's announcement yesterday also rattled some nerves at home because of the way he was speaking at the end of his announcement.

And I, I do not like making a bigger deal out of these things than ought to be made of them. I do not take any pleasure in showing you this, I do not find that this to be hilarious, as I know many people do. I also say this in full cognizance of the fact that I am a person who talks weird and flaps my hands around a lot, and I make weird faces sometimes. like I don't generally think people should be made fun of, or scrutinized especially, because they're funny-looking or talk weird or have a strange look on their face when they're saying something. That said:

When the president was making his announcement about Jerusalem, depending on how you look at it, he appeared to maybe have his teeth come loose? Or to have just started slurring his words, or maybe he bit his tongue hard or something. Something strange happened at the end of his speech.
At this point, the cable star played the videotape of Trump's strange speaking performance.

Again, to watch the full tape, click here.
Don't fail to notice the transparent phoniness of the way the cable star delivers her own strange speech.

All in all, we'd guess that Donald J. Trump experienced some sort of dental problem last Wednesday, causing his strange, slurred speech. But what accounts for Maddow's strange speech pattern the following night, in which she gonged us with the word "oogy," then made us listen as she discussed herself, establishing these key points:
Key points established by Maddow:

1) Rachel Maddow doesn't like making a bigger deal out of these things than ought to be made of them.

2) She didn't find Trump's slurring to be hilarious, as she knew many people did.

3) Rachel Maddow understands that she's a person who talks weird and flaps her hands around a lot.

4) She also knows that she makes weird faces sometimes.

5) Rachel Maddow doesn't generally think people should be made fun of, or scrutinized especially, because they're funny-looking or talk weird or have a strange look on their face when they're saying something.
These were all key points. Also, Maddow was willing to ignore her ooginess in order to discuss Donald J. Trump's strange speech.

We offer two assessments:

Most likely, Donald J. Trump engaged in strange slurred speech last Wednesday because he had a sudden dental problem.

Almost surely, Rachel Maddow engaged in her own weird speech the following night because she's a substantial egomaniac, not unlike Donald J. Trump.

Maddow has a hundred hooks to make you think that she's more special than you. This is part of what Janet Malcolm recently described as "her performance of the Rachel figure."

Beyond that, Maddow loves to talk about herself. Playing old videotape of herself is even better.

Maddow loves to speak this way! As we near the start of Mister Trump's Inevitable War, we gullible liberals have spent eight years encouraging her to do it.

THE PAROCHIALS: From milk carton kids to teenage dates!


Part 3—Whatever turns journalists on:
Of what does Roy Moore stand accused as tomorrow's election approaches?

Ever since November 10, the press corps has focused on charges about his alleged behavior from the late 1970s. His crazy public behavior is ignored as scribes thrill to this earlier era.

That said, of what does Moore stand accused?

Many journalists have had a very hard time answering that question. Last Friday, though, the analysts cheered! In her column for the New York Times, Michelle Goldberg got it almost exactly right:
GOLDBERG (12/8/17): While Franken is on his way out of the Senate, Roy Moore, Republican of Alabama, may be on his way in. Moore stands credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old whom he picked up outside her mother's custody hearing and of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old after offering her a ride home from her waitressing job.
We agree with every word, although we'd add the word "violently" to the latter description.

Leigh Corfman has accused Moore of molesting her in 1979, when she was 14. Gloria Young Nelson has accused Moore of committing a violent sexual assault on her person in 1977, when she was 16.

Moore stands accused of molesting one teen and of sexually assaulting another. How hard is it to say that?

For many major journalists, it has been amazingly hard. Major scribes have stumbled about, attempting to describe the accusations.

Goldberg made the task look easy. But here's the way Kathleen Parker described the charges in yesterday's Washington Post:
PARKER (12/10/17): Moore, far from being a comedian, is known for his affection for the Ten Commandments. Clearly, there should have been an amendment to the commandment that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife: or his little girl, either. The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is alleged to have fondled or otherwise behaved in sexual ways with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Say what? Parker has heard of Corfman's accusation. It isn't entirely clear that she has heard about Nelson's. Where Goldberg describes these charges with specificyty, Parker ends up offering this murky description:

Moore stands accused of "having behaved in sexual ways with teenage girls." Will readers have any clear idea what that means? From what post-Victorian usage manual has Parker cobbled this murky description?

The Washington Post launched this topic with a November 10 front-page report which was built around Corfman's accusation. From that day to this, we've been fascinated by the peculiar ways in which journalists have described the charges against Ol' Roy.

In part, we suspect the problem stems from the parochialism of our upper-end journalists. We'll guess it stems from their parochialism, but also from their self-involvement. That said, the problem tracks to that original November 10 report, in which the Post displayed a rather peculiar bit of editorial judgment.

We'll admit it! We're fascinated by the way the press corps has handled this matter. As we wait for the inevitable start of Mister Trump's War, we think this episode sheds a lot of light, anthropologially speaking, on the mental and moral habits and skills of our upper-end press.

What was journalistically strange about that initial Post report? As noted, the Post featured Corfman's accusation—her claim that Moore molested her when she was 14 years old.

So far, so good, although we thought there were a few points where the Post's journalism was spotty. But as a second part of its report, the Post featured statements by three other women. They claimed that Moore had dated them, or asked them out, during that same time period, when they too were teenagers.

In this way, it seemed that Moore stood "accused" of two "crimes." He stood accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl, which would seem to be a criminal act. He also stood "accused" of having dated two older teenagers—and of having dated them with their mothers cheering him on!

What was the logic of the implied connection between these two types of conduct? Did the fact that Moore dated Gloria Thacker Deason when she was 18, then 19 serve as supporting evidence for the claim that he molested Corfman when she was 14?

The Post made no attempt to explain the logic of this implied connection. From that day to this, people like Parker have stumbled and flailed as they try to describe the very serious crimes with which Moore does in fact stand accused.

Dating Deason wasn't a crime; if Moore violently assaulted Nelson, that rather plainly was. Still and all, people like Parker fumble about, seeming to understate the degree of offense with which Moore stands charged.

Can we talk? In their typical parochial way, our journalists sometimes seem to be more concerned about the dating than about the violent assault!

Behind that concern stands a list of domestic panics. First, we had the public concern about the missing "milk carton kids."

The practice of putting the faces of missing children on milk cartons started in the 1980s. It's credited with helping authorities locate some missing children in the years before better organized tracking systems existed.

On the downside, this campaign also led to wildly exaggerated claims about the number of missing children in the United States. Before the practice faded away, "psychologists, social service workers and other child advocates, including celebrated pediatricians T. Berry Brazelton and Benjamin Spock, [argued] that the onslaught of photos and publicity ha[d] evolved into a sort of hysteria, producing a new anxiety in young children." Or so reported the Post.

Was that a bit of a moral panic? We'll guess it possibly was—and not long after, something similar happened.

Before long, comedians were soon mocking the widespread placement of "Baby on board" signs in the rear windows of cars. These signs suggested that it was OK to rear-end a car if no baby was present.

Was that episode a moral panic? As a courtesy, we'll vote no, but a genuine panic was coming on fast, with disastrous consequences.

We refer to the wave of cases in the late 1980s and 1990s in which day care workers were falsely accused of abusing children. The leading authority on the phenomenon describes it as "Day-care sex-abuse hysteria." Innocent people went to prison as a full-blown, genuine moral panic swept across the land.

We rarely hear about these remarkable cases any more. Our guess would be that it's a point of journalistic and national embarrassment. For that reason, the episode is best ignored, in spite of the lessons the episode can teach.

In the May 1990 Harper's, Dorothy Rabinowitz produced a brilliant piece of journalism in which she confronted this deeply consequential moral panic. (We believe this is the full original text.) She wrote about the Wee Care Nursery School case in Maplewood, New Jersey, a Salem Village-level travesty in which a young woman, Kelly Michaels, was initially sentenced to 47 years in prison.

(After Michaels had served five years, her conviction was overturned. Among other things, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that "the interviews of the children were highly improper and utilized coercive and unduly suggestive methods." These travesties occurred in other cases as this panic occurred.)

Rabinowitz's piece appeared beneath this headline in Harper's: "From the Mouths of Babes to a Jail Cell." She described the lunacy which had sent Michaels to prison. Along the way, she said this:
RABINOWITZ (5/90): We are a society that, every fifty years or so, is afflicted by some paroxysm of virtue—an orgy of self-cleansing through which evil of one kind or another is cast out. From the witch-hunts of Salem to the communist hunts of the McCarthy era to the current shrill fixation on child abuse, there runs a common thread of moral hysteria. After the McCarthy era, people would ask: But how could it have happened? How could the presumption of innocence have been abandoned wholesale? How did large and powerful institutions acquiesce as congressional investigators ran roughshod over civil liberties—all in the name of a war on communists? How was it possible to believe that subversives lurked behind every library door, in every radio station, that every two-bit actor who had belonged to the wrong political organization posed a threat to the nation's security?

Years from now people doubtless will ask the same questions about our present era—a time when the most improbable charges of abuse find believers; when it is enough only to be accused by anonymous sources to be hauled off by investigators; a time when the hunt for child abusers has become a national pathology.
A similar atmosphere exists in one or two of our current stampedes. Sadly, our upper-end journalists rarely display the requisite intellectual skills and moral perspectives which can help undermine such panics.

Concerning Roy Moore, we'll only say this. Based upon the ways they describe the accusations about Moore, many of our journalists seem more concerned about the dating than about the alleged assaults. We'll guess that this is related to a common human failing—to the interest in what might happen to one's own children or grandchildren, as opposed to what may have actually happened to somebody else.

The Post enabled this stampede with a rather peculiar initial report. From that day to this, journalists have often seemed to be more concerned with the idea that Moore dated teenagers than with the charge that he committed two criminal assaults. Somehow, Goldberg described both alleged assaults. Few other journalists, Parker included, have.

As with Patty Duke's famous hot dog, so too here—the thought that Ol' Roy dated teens has made them lose control! Inevitably, as part of their standard practice, our journalists took immediate steps to heighten the sense of outrage:

First, they barred use of the term "dated," substituting "pursued." The latter term sounds more menacing. It helps move the charge (and excitement) along.

Second, they adopted the use of term "pedophile." Have we learned nothing from Chuck Todd? By standard definitions, the term is inappropriate here, but it sounds extremely scary, so it's been widely used.

Their third move was most striking. Our journalists completely disappeared the mothers who had cheered Moore on. They didn't want the public to know that the mothers of the two teens in that first Post report hoped the dating might lead to marriage.

Just a guess! That isn't what they want for their own kids today, so they had to block the ugly thought. They had to take arms to defeat it.

Given the norms of the time and the place, the mothers of Gloria Thacker Deason and Debbie Wesson Gibson were thrilled that Moore was dating their teenage daughters, or so the women told the Washington Post.

It was right there in the Post's initial report. But from that day right through to this, we've never seen a single journalist mention that fact. As always happens in cases like this, this basic fact has been disappeared. Our "journalists" have all agreed that you must never hear it.

Why were those two Alabama mothers cheering Ol' Roy on? Tomorrow, we'll offer an information dump about dating and marriage practices during the era in question. For today, we'll only say these things:

Candidate Moore stands accused of two very serious crimes. Dating isn't one of those crimes. Just as a matter of fact, it wasn't a crime at all.

Goldberg had no trouble describing those alleged crimes. Two days later, Parker joined the long list of troubled practitioners who have had a very hard time explaining what Moore is accused of.

As scribes like Parker play this way, a basic fact remains—the mothers of those teenage girls were cheering Ol' Roy on as he dated their daughters way back when down there. Also this:

Elvis started dating Priscilla when she was 14 years old! Could that be some small part of this cultural tale, which took place long ago?

Tomorrow: Information dump! "The best love story, ever"