Are black and Hispanic kids losing ground?


A bogus statistical framework:
When the New York Times covers public schools, you can always expect major errors.

So it was last week, when the famous but bungle-prone paper published a front-page report about the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in the nation's most competitive colleges.

As we noted on Tuesday, blacks and Hispanics are "under-represented" in the student bodies of the 100 colleges the New York Times chose to study. More specifically:

In 2015, 22 percent of the nation's college-age population was Hispanic. But only 13 percent of freshmen at the 100 schools were Hispanic.

For black students, the degree of underrepresentation seems to have been a bit more substantial, though in truth its hard to tell from the data the Times presents. In 2015, 15 percent of the nation's college-age population was black. But only 6 percent of freshmen at the 100 schools were black.

In that sense, blacks and Hispanics were "underrepresented" at those hundred colleges. But the Times made an even gloomier claim in its high-profile, front-page report. It claimed the degree of under-representation was even worse today than it was in 1980! Headlines included, here's how the report began:
Affirmative Action Yields Little Progress on Campus For Blacks and Hispanics
After 35 Years, Racial Gaps Widen at 100 U.S. Colleges, an Analysis Shows

This article is by Jeremy Ashkenas, Haeyoun Park and Adam Pearce

Even after decades of affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, according to a New York Times analysis.
The Times' conclusion does sound very gloomy. That's always the desired state of affairs in reports of this type.

The Times' conclusion was wonderfully gloomy—but did its analysis make sense? We'd have to say it didn't. It seems to us that the New York Times, as is its wont, made several major errors, including its use of a bungled statistical framework.

What led the Times to conclude that blacks and Hispanics were more underrepresented in 2015 than they were in 1980? Let's look at the reasoning the Times employed in the case of Hispanics.

We'll use the data the Times employed. We'll assume the data are accurate. (In classic fashion, the paper failed to identify or link to the sources of its various data, and there seem to be substantial problems with some of the data employed.)

In 1980, Hispanics constituted six percent of the nation's college-age population, according to the Times. But at that time, just three percent of students at the 100 schools were Hispanic.

Subtracting three from six, the Times describes a three-point enrollment shortfall in 1980. Then, the paper moves to the data for 2015:

In 2015, Hispanics constituted 22 percent of the nation's college-age population. But at that time, just 13 percent of students at the 100 schools were Hispanic.

Subtracting 13 from 22, the Times describes a nine-point enrollment shortfall in 2015. Since nine points (2015) is larger than three points (1980), the Times concludes that the enrollment gap has grown—that Hispanic kids are even more underrepresented.

That statistical framework doesn't seem to make sense. To illustrate the nature of the problem, we'll imagine an alternate case where the logical flaw is more apparent:
(Imagined) Hispanic youth, 1980:
Share of college age population: 8 percent
Share of college enrollment: 1 percent
Enrollment gap: 7 points

(Imagined) Hispanic youth, 2015
Share of college age population: 24 percent
Share of college enrollment: 16 percent
Enrollment gap: 8 points
In that imagined situation, Hispanics would have had extremely marginal representation back in 1980. Their share of the college enrollment would have been only one-eighth their share of the college-age population.

In that imagined situation, Hispanics would have been much more strongly represented by 2015. There a substantial shortfall would have remained, their share of the college enrollment would now be two-thirds their share of the college-age population.

In this imagined situation, Hispanics would still be "underrepresented" in these colleges, as compared to their share of the college-age population. But they would have come a long way from 1980, when they were badly underrepresented as compared to their share of the population.

Still: according to the statistical framework used by the Times, Hispanics would have been more underrepresented in 2015 in this imaginary situation. In 1980, the enrollment gap was only seven points. Now it would stand at eight!

In short, the Times adopted a puzzling statistical framework as it compared the degree of representation in 1980 to that in 2015. How ridiculous is that framework? Consider this more extreme imaginary case:
(Imagined) Hispanic youth, 1980:
Share of college age population: 5 percent
Share of college enrollment: 0 percent

(Imagined) Hispanic youth, 2015
Share of college age population: 24 percent
Share of college enrollment: 18 percent
According to the Times' statistical framework, Hispanic kids would have been more underrepresented in 2015 in that imagined case!

Can we talk? The New York Times never fails to bungle in reports of this type. The newspaper's instinct for error is almost unerring all matters of the type.

In this case, the problems extend well beyond this puzzling statistical framework. The fine print at the end of the Times report suggests that the Times is comparing a type of statistical apples in 1980 to a type of statistical oranges in 2015. Meanwhile, here's another uncheckable possible problem:

The Times is using highly imprecise numbers in its report. As noted above, it reports these actual numbers for the nation's Hispanic youth:
Hispanic youth, 1980:
Share of college age population: 6 percent
Share of college enrollment: 3 percent
It looks like Hispanic representation in the top 100 colleges that year was exactly half its representation in the college-age population. But uh-oh:

In the real world, that "6 percent" could be anything from 5.51 percent up to 6.49 percent. Meanwhile, that "3 percent" could be anything from 2.51 percent up to 3.49 percent.

That lack of precision makes a difference. Scanning the data as the Times reports them, it looks like Hispanic enrollment in 1980 was exactly half its proportion of the college-age population. But it could have been substantially more or less than half. Consider this actual possibility:
(Possible) Hispanic youth, 1980:
Share of college age population: 6.49 percent
Share of college enrollment: 2.51 percent
If that's what the actual numbers were, Hispanic enrollment was actually 38.7 percent as compared to the Hispanic proportion of the college-age population. As is routinely the case at the Times in education reports of this type, the work here was a mess from top to bottom.

Don't worry—other problems seem to lurk in this high-profile front-page report. And of course, the biggest problem is this:

The important question we have to solve as a nation involves the substantial "achievement gaps" which contribute to these enrollment gaps. The Times devoted exactly one paragraph to that matter in this slipshod report. (Their work there is highly selective.)

Black and Hispanic youth are indeed "underrepresented" at these 100 colleges. How can we create a future world in which that won't be the case?

Down through the years, the Times has never shown the slightest sign of caring about that question. More significantly, it has never shown the slightest sign of possessing the intellectual skills that would let it play a role in the search for answers.

The Times produced a gloomy conclusion when it produced this report. In this age of billionaire-funded "education reform," this is always the desired outcome in reports of this type.

Absolutely nothing has worked! That is the mandated mantra.

In the process of reaching its gloomy conclusion, the Times displayed, as it constantly does, a highly peculiar state of affairs. On average, black and Hispanic kids still lag behind their white and Asian-American peers in basic academic skills. But no one lacks basic intellectual skills like the deeply puzzling people who take up space, year after year, at the hapless Times.

One final point:

You'll never see these matters addressed on your favorite "cable news" shows. They're too busy serving us liberals the porridge we very much like.

Dearest darlings, use your heads! Rating would drop like a stone if your favorite cable stars discussed the actual lives of the nation's low-income kids! That's why our darling, Rachel Maddow, has never done it in the past and won't be doing it now.

If a kid gets shot, we pretend to care and pretend to get mad. Otherwise, all is silent.

Where did we get the 3 and the 6: Where did we get the 3 percent and the 6 percent for Hispanics in 1980?

The numbers appear, though only barely, in the Times' hard-copy report. On line, where data presentation should be easier, those basic numbers don't appear. They just didn't bother to post them.

This is the way the New York Times rolls. As we've shown you down through the years, they do this every time.

DOWNWARD SPIRAL: Readers of the New York Times speak!


Interlude—Troubling shoes:
At some point, we humans need to come to terms with who and what we are.

This very morning, page A3 in the (hard-copy) New York Times gives us a chance to do that.

First, a quick bit of background. When the Times "reimagined" page A3 this summer, it launched its new format under this controversial motto:
You are the dumbest people on earth.
We at the Times want to serve you.
This morning, the Times seems to claim that it was right in its controversial assessment of us, the newspaper's readers. In its daily feature, The Conversation, the Times attacks us in the following way:
The Conversation

1. Melania Trump, Off to Texas, Finds Herself on Thin Heels
Eight of the 10 most read articles Wednesday focused on Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. The most popular, written by The Times's fashion critic Vanessa Friedman, concerned the optics of wearing stiletto heels to a disaster area—and why the first lady's sartorial choices matter in our current moment of political division. Commenters were struck as much by the ostentatious footwear as by the sheer impracticality of wearing heels in a flood zone.
Good God. That piece about Mrs. Trump's high heels was yesterday's "most read article" across the whole New York Times!

Needless to say, the nonsense doesn't stop there. The precis which we have posted was accompanied by a photograph of Melania Trump boarding Air Force One in Maryland, where it was raining a bit. Rather clearly, the photo supports the false impression that she wore her very high heels in the disaster area, in the actual flood zone.

Which, in fact, she didn't. Until you read the brainless remarks by readers of the Times—brainless remarks which are reinforced all through this morning's precis.

How about more background? Vanessa Friedman is the soul of the Times' plu-foppish upper-class culture. To its credit, though, the Times is willing to tell the truth today about its subscribers and readers:

Yesterday, this silly analysis piece by Friedman
was the most-read ("most popular") article in the paper's whole empire! As it tattles on its readers, the Times seems to say it was right all along when it reinvented pages A2 and A3 in the dumbest possible way.

Let's get clear on what the Times has told us today. Friedman's discussion of Mrs. Trump's shoes wasn't the most popular article among Those People, the dumb/stupid folk who voted for Trump, the nincompoops found Over There.

Friedman's piece was the "most popular" article among our tribe Over Here! We brilliant Times readers selected that piece over all other displays.

To its credit, the Times was willing to make that confession about its own dull-witted base. On the down side, the unnamed person who wrote that precis mistakenly implied, at two separate points, that Trump had worn those very high heels down in Texas, which in fact she did not.

The photograph pimped that false belief further. This is the way the Times rolls!

Let's be fair to the Times. The silly piece by the upper-class Friedman did not appear in the paper's hard-copy editions. By way of contrast, the Washington Post positioned Robin Givhan's equally unfortunate piece on the first page of yesterday's Style section in our hard-copy edition.

That's the section the Post mainatins to show that it can be just as foppish as the Hamptons-drenched Times. Givhan's piece was headlined thusly:
In this case, fashion sense eclipsed common sense
Melania's shoes eclipsed common sense? So did the Post's decision to rehire Givhan in 2014, after giving readers a four-year reprieve from her important work. Remember when Givhan shot her wad, in 2007, about Senator Clinton's cleavage?

More props to the Times! In today's paper, the Times runs a letter, from a Trump non-supporter, complaining about the inanity of Friedman's piece. But above all else, we note that key fact:

Of all the material in yesterday's Times, the lordly Friedman's discussion of heels was the piece we rational animals read more than any other. At such moments, we may start to get a sense of who and what we actually are.

Are we being unfair to Times readers today? Our lizard brains will always insist that we liberals are very bright, while the dumb ridiculous ones are widely found Over There.

Like script, lizards never sleep! But in this moment, we're able to see the hive mind which crawls around the glorious Times. Also on today's A3, we get this bit of help:
Here to Help
The New York Times is here to serve—and the newspaper knows who we are.

We mention this matter today for several reasons. In a more rational world, the Post and the Times would have been savaged, long ago, for the way they frisked every article of a certain candidate's clothing during Campaign 2000.

His boots, his suits, his troubling polo shirts? The number of buttons (three) on the jackets of his suits? The troubling fact that he sometimes wore earth tones?

The height at which he was hemming his pants, the better to show us his cowboy boots? The unholy signals his troubling wardrobe was sending to female voters? In the end, when the deviants finally went there, the sock he'd stuffed in his pants?

Your nation's major mainstream "journalists" spent months discussing these crucial matters. Over Here, in our liberal tents, we sub-humans sat there and took it.

We were too dumb to speak up or complain as our major mainstream "journalists" conducted this ludicrous war. Yesterday, we brilliantly flocked to Friedman's thoughts about you-know-who's ill-chosen shoes.

We mention Friedman's ratings triumph for a second reason. The popularity of her piece connects to Hillary Clinton's new novel—and to our tribe's increasingly sad desire to swallow whatever we're served.

How in the world did Donald J. Trump ever end up in the White House? The Friedmans and the Givhans are one part of that story, along with the nameless editors who shovel their prose into print.

More than anything else, though, we the liberals were the key players in that decades-long story. Yesterday, we gobbled the porridge we were served about Mrs. Trump's hideous heels.

We're also being asked this week to swallow Candidate Clinton's guff about her second debate with the ridiculous Candidate Trump. As we rush to swallow her (truly sad) novel, the dumbnification of us our tribe is more and more complete.

In case you haven't noticed yet, a modern society can't function this way. Tomorrow, what actually happened.

Tomorrow: What actually happened

Massive flooding in South Asia too!


First days of the rest of our lives:
As the domestic situation moves from Houston on toward Beaumont, the New York Times has published a companion report from the flooded lands of South Asia.

In hard copy, it's the featured news report in the Times' International section. On line, the report is accompanied by a wealth of dramatic photos.

Texas flooding dominates cable news in this country. These descriptions from South Asia sound eerily similar to the situation in Texas, which now seems to experience a hundred-year storm every six months or so:
GETTLEMAN (8/30/17): More than 1,000 people have died in floods across South Asia this summer, and as sheets of incessant rain pummeled the vast region on Tuesday, worries grew that the death toll would rise along with the floodwaters.

According to the United Nations, at least 41 million people in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have been directly affected by flooding and landslides resulting from the monsoon rains, which usually begin in June and last until September.

And while flooding in the Houston area has grabbed more attention, aid officials say a catastrophe is unfolding in South Asia.


[T]he rain keeps coming.

On Tuesday, Mumbai, the sprawling financial capital, was soaked to the bone. Nearly all day, the rain drummed down. As people scurried up the sidewalks, the wind tore umbrellas out of their hands.

The sky seemed to fall lower and lower, pressing down on the building tops, cutting visibility to a few blocks, then a few yards. By midafternoon, it was so dark it felt like nightfall.


The monsoons have battered Bangladesh as well. A low-lying and densely populated country of 165 million, Bangladesh is chronically ravaged by flooding. This year’s monsoons have left roughly a third of its terrain submerged.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent said on its website that more than eight million Bangladeshis had been affected by the flooding, the worst in 40 years. At least 140 people have died, and nearly 700,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Corinne Ambler, a Red Cross spokeswoman in Bangladesh who had just taken an aerial tour of the devastation, said she was stunned.

“All I could see was water, the whole way,” she said in a telephone interview from Dhaka, the capital. “You have tiny little clumps of houses stuck in the middle of water.”

After visiting some of the afflicted villages by boat, she said that many Bangladeshis had told her, “We’re used to flooding, but we’ve never seen anything like this in our lives.”
These descriptions and comments sound very familiar. Reporter Jeffrey Gettleman doesn't try to analyze the possible role of climate change here. We'll only suggest, once again, that these may be the first days of the rest of the entire world's lives.

A final thought:

At times like these, liberals and Democrats don't need to find ways to serve the nation our own scripted twaddle. We need to do what we've barely attempted to do in recent decades, as the music men, hustlers and con men have taken control of the discourse:

We need to find ways to inform the public about the many, many ways they, and we, are constantly conned—about climate issues, for instance.

Despite our tribal love of the practice, we need to stop insulting people. We need to start looking for ways to show The Others the various ways they've been conned—the ways they've been conned by the people they trust, as We increasingly are.

DOWNWARD SPIRAL: Script never dies!


Part 2—Clinton creates a script:
Live and direct from Little Rock, Gene Lyons wrote a column last week about those Confederate statues.

We'd say his column is well worth reading. The column starts like this:

"If your precious 'Southern heritage' includes swastikas, you may as well quit reading right here. But odds are astronomically high that it doesn't."

We'd say the column is well worth reading. For various reasons, we wondered what sorts of comments it would draw.

Did we even have to ask? It drew some familiar old script.

Amazingly but not amazingly, one dull-witted reader of Lyons' column quickly began discussing pathetic Al Gore. This reader was armed with tired old script, live and direct from the two-year war which sent George Bush to the White House.

In the main, this two-year war was waged by the mainstream press, not by the right-wing machine. It was largely staged by the East Coast Irish Catholic mafia which seemed to be marching, in large degree, to the tune of Jack Welch, at the time the benevolent CEO in charge on NBC News.

That war was waged by Matthews, by Dowd, by Williams; by (Margaret) Carlson, Russert and Kelly, though also by Connolly and Seelye—by good mainstream names like those. In fact, this idiot war was conducted almost entirely through script, including such script points as these:
Scripted claims from long ago:
Al Gore said he invented the Internet!
Al Gore grew up in a fancy hotel!
Al Gore grew up in a fancy hotel? When they wanted to flirt with open lying, they even said he grew up at the Ritz!

But through those scripts, and through many others, the destructive war against Gore was waged. It's the war which sent George W. Bush to the White House, and thus sent the U.S. to Iraq.

People are dead all over the world because those fine old names conducted that two-year war by peddling those stupid sad scripts.

Everyone from Drum on down has agreed to pretend that this never occurred, and therefore that it bore no connection to what happened in last year's campaign. But as we've told you for many years, stupid sad script never dies.

Dumb silly scripts gets lodged in ours heads, and we humans do love to recite! For that reason, the comment thread to Lyons' column quickly featured the claims we've posted—silly sad claims from long ago, about someone who hadn't even been mentioned in Lyons' column.

Simply put, script never dies, no matter how silly or bogus! And now, Hillary Clinton has decided to create another such pleasing script.

Sad! More and more and more and more, our liberal tribe has reacted to the pimping of script by denatured auteurs by deciding that we should adopt the same pleasing practice. We embellish, misstate and disappear facts in the pursuit of our partisan ends. In this way, we tell the world that we lack the skill which would let us prevail in a real public discussion.

We create our own silly scripts, which must involve matters of gender and race. That's what Hillary Clinton has done in the matter which was described in this week's Sunday Review.

Let's give credit where due! According to Nexis, the New York Times had not reported Clinton's claim in its news reporting. We'll assume this means that editors (correctly) felt that her claim, however pleasing, is rather hard to sustain.

No such silence invaded the suburbs at this week's Sunday Review. The Review turned things over to Jill Filipovic, a reliable peddler of rank tribal script. Here's her start, headline included:
FILIPOVIC (8/27/17): Donald Was a Creep. Too Bad Hillary Couldn’t Say It.

You’re walking down the street and there’s a man trailing uncomfortably close behind you. A co-worker stands a little too intimately in your personal space. There’s a stranger breathing down your neck on the subway. Each time, you do a quick mental arithmetic: Do I ignore it? Move away quickly, but without causing a scene? Say something? Yell?

“This is not O.K., I thought,” Hillary Clinton writes in her forthcoming memoir, “What Happened,” in a passage to which too many women can relate. “It was the second presidential debate, and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled.”

In excerpts from the book, which were released by “Morning Joe” on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton revealed that in that moment, she asked herself: What do you do? “Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space?” she writes. “Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly and clearly: ‘Back up, you creep, get away from me! I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’ ”
As noted, Filipovic is a reliable peddler of script. In this passage, she accurately quoted what Clinton says in the part of her book she chose to release on Morning Joe. (On Morning Joe! Sad.)

Filipovic quotes Clinton correctly. The New York Times includes a photo from that second Trump-Clinton debate, a photo which may, on the surface, seem to support Clinton's pleasing claim. But her pleasing claim is quite hard to sustain, if you're willing to take the time to rewatch that second debate.

Don't get us wrong! Candidate Trump engaged in a great deal of obnoxious behavior at that second debate, at which he included old sex accusers of Bill Clinton as his honored guests.

As is his wont, he made a long string of inaccurate statements. Some of these statements were baldly ridiculous, a point we'll review tomorrow.

He interrupted Clinton again and again, even after he'd been asked again and again to stop. In his most disordered moment, he decided to offer this pledge:
CANDIDATE TRUMP (10/9/16): I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.

When I speak, I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people that have been long-term workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this, where e-mails—and you get a subpoena, you get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 e-mails, and then you acid wash them or bleach them, as you would say, very expensive process.

So we’re going to get a special prosecutor, and we’re going to look into it, because you know what? People have been—their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Poor Trump! He hadn't planned to say it, and he hated having to say it. But he was going to have a special prosecutor examine her many crimes!

("Everything he just said is absolutely false, but I’m not surprised," Clinton quickly replied.)

Candidate Trump behaved quite badly at that second debate. He made many ridiculous claims; he interrupted freely. He even promised to create a type of third-world prosecutorial state.

Candidate Trump did many things that night, but here's something he didn't do. He didn't follow Candidate Clinton closely, staring at her, making faces, no matter where she walked on the candidates' rather small stage.

He didn't literally breathe down her neck, thereby making her skin crawl. In truth, it would be a large stretch to say that he "breathed down her neck" at all.

Candidate Trump did many things that night. We liberals are being scripted to pretend that he behaved in one of the novelized ways we most enjoy discussing.

Our script premiered on Morning Joe! That said, few parts of this picture aren't embarrassing and wrong.

Tomorrow, we'll offer the tale of the tape, reviewing what Trump really did. That said, the facts will almost surely play no role in what follows from this.

Increasingly, our dying culture runs on silly, peculiar tribal script. This constitutes a major part of our nation's downward spiral.

It's as we've told you for many years. Increasingly, our dying discourse is silly script all the way down.

Tomorrow: The tale of the tape

The tale of the tape: To watch C-Span's tape of the second debate, you can just click here.

Warning! It runs ninety minutes!

The photo in the New York Times shows Clinton answering Question 5, at roughly minute 26. As you will see if you choose to watch, Trump is standing by his table and chair. It's where he's supposed to be.

These are the first days of the rest of our lives!


An inconvenient beginning:
Looking at Houston, it's hard to avoid an unpleasant conclusion: the climate disaster unfolding there represents the first few days of the rest of everyone's lives.

We can't help recalling the way Frank Rich rolled his eyes at Al Gore's allegedly pathetic film, An Inconvenient Truth, back in 2006. What group except us modern liberals has ever chosen its "intellectual leaders" so unwisely?

Rich finally came around, and started fawning, when Gore won the Nobel Prize. But as we watch the disaster unfold, we also think of the coverage Gore's second film, An Inconvenient Sequel, received in late July.

The film was reviewed in the Times on Friday, July 28. It received a mere 494 words.

Other films were more important that day:

Atomic Blonde rated 820 words, penned by Manohla Dargis:

"For her part, Ms. Theron looks hot and color coordinated, with black-and-white outfits that suit her character's ambiguity. Lorraine smokes and drinks and likes cold baths, preferably filled with ice cubes that do wonders for bruises and nipples."

Brigsby Bear got 683 words,
once again from Dargis:

"Mostly it's a sweet and sometimes delightful melancholic story of a lonely man saved by imagination and love. That sounds like a bushel of cornball and might have devolved into pure ick if the director, Dave McCary, didn't lead from the heart and wasn't adept at navigating seemingly clashing tones."

Katherine Bigelow's Detroit rated 1483 words, from A. O. Scott, on the Arts section's front page. That may have been completely appropriate. But Sequel languished inside.

Should the Times have paid more attention to An Inconvenient Sequel, whether in its arts pages or in actual news reporting?

We can't answer that question! Rich mocked the first film long ago, in print at the Times, then with Imus; the Times blew past the sequel. According to Dargis, Brigsby Bear didn't "devolve into pure ick."

No one can say that for Houston this day. Or for the world the world's children will face for all the days of their lives.

Ice cubes make Theron's nipples show. People, that's entertainment!

Black and Hispanics at the nation's "top schools!"


How under-represented are they:
Are black and Hispanic students "under-represented" at the nation's most highly-regarded colleges and universities?

According to a front-page New York Times report
, black and Hispanic students aren't just "under-represented" at the 100 schools the newspaper chose to survey. According to the Times, blacks and Hispanics are more under-represented at those schools than they were in 1980!

That's a wonderfully gloomy-sounding claim, the type big newspapers love. But uh-oh! Given the peculiar statistical framework the Times adopted in its report, we aren't real sure that the claim is accurate.

For today, let's start at the beginning, with a basic question. To what extent are black and Hispanic youth currently "under-represented" at these schools? How under-represented are they?

Let's start with Hispanic students. According to the New York Times' data, 22 percent of the nation's college-age population was Hispanic in 2015. But only 13 percent of freshmen at the 100 schools under review were Hispanic.

The representation was somewhat more robust at the eight Ivy League schools, where 15 percent of the freshmen were Hispanic.

A similar situation obtained for black students at these schools. According to the Times, 15% of the nation's college-age population was black in 2015. But only 6% of the freshmen at the top 100 schools were black that year.

Again, the figure was higher at the eight Ivy League schools, where 9% of the freshmen were black.

In the sense defined by these numbers, blacks and Hispanics were under-represented at these academically competitive schools. That said: Given well-known achievement data from the nation's public schools, this basic fact shouldn't come as a great surprise.

At present, white and Asian-American students still outperform black and Hispanic students on most measures of academic achievement. On average, they still do so by fairly substantial margins, despite large gains by all four groups over the past few decades.

In its short front-page report, the Times gave a brief, rather selective list of reasons for these "achievement gaps." Stating the obvious, eliminating those public school achievement gaps should be a top priority.

Those achievement gaps go a long way toward explaining the "enrollment gaps" at these competitive universities. Until those achievement gaps are erased, enrollment gaps of the type we've described are likely to remain.

The Times devoted one paragraph to the reasons for those achievement gaps. In truth, the New York Times has never shown much interest in questions of this type. We've never seen any real sign that this foppish, upper-class newspaper actually cares about the interests of low-income and minority kids.

The Times spent little time last week examining the reasons for those achievement gaps. Instead, the paper rushed ahead toward its latest gloomy conclusion: blacks and Hispanics are even more under-represented at the nation's top schools than they were in 1980!

That conclusion sounded wonderfully gloomy. It sounded like nothing has worked—and in this age of "education reform," that's always the desired conclusion in reporting of this type.

Last Friday morning, the New York Times reached its latest exquisite, gloomy conclusion. Tomorrow, we'll ask a basic question:

Was that conclusion accurate? Did the Times' procedures make sense?

Visit our incomparable archives: This is our third report in this series. For last Friday's report, just click this.

For yesterday's report, click here.

DOWNWARD SPIRAL: Dissembling and victimization is Us!


Part 1—Kathy Griffin on Fox:
As of last night, Kathy Griffin was back.

Unfortunately, Griffin was back on the Fox News Channel. She was being used to tell The Others about what total asp-holes We liberals are.

In fairness, it isn't always entirely clear that this basic Fox message is false. Consider the ludicrous conduct engaged in by the aforementioned artist.

As we type, we can't yet provide the transcript of the report we saw last night on Fox. That said, it related to Griffin's recent decision that she was actually right all along when she posed, late in May, with Donald J. Trump's severed head.

When Griffin posed with Trump's severed head, she met with widespread criticism. Last night, on Fox, she was shown complaining that her fierce artistic expression had been criticized by Chelsea Clinton, and even by Debra Messing!

In the aftermath of The Sight Gag That Failed, Griffin conceded that her fierce artistic integrity had possibly led her to go a bit too far, posing with severed head-wise. As of now, though, that stance has changed.

According to an endless profile in the current New York Magazine,
Griffin has just released a promotional video "for her new Laugh Your Head Off tour of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand." The video "concludes with an image of her in the same blouse she wore in the infamous Trump photo, holding a globe in her hand instead of" that severed head.

In reaction to all the unfair treatment she has received, Griffin has announced that she's no longer friends with Anderson Cooper. And not only that! As she prepared to tour Down Under, she recently spouted like this on Sunrise, an Aussie morning show:
Kathy Griffin verbally attacks Australian TV host on air

US comedian Kathy Griffin made a fiery appearance on Sunrise this morning, declaring she no longer felt bad about her ‘headless Trump’ stunt
and telling the show’s co-host Samantha Armytage to “cut the crap” when she questioned her about it.

Griffin was on Sunrise to promote her new tour Down Under, but quickly went on the attack after being asked if she regretted staging the now-infamous photoshoot in May where she held up a fake, bloodied severed head resembling the US president.

“You’re full of crap,” she shot at Armytage. “Stop this. You know this. Stop acting like my little picture is more important than talking about the actual atrocities that the President of the United States is committing.”


“No, I don’t apologise for that photo anymore and I think the outrage is complete BS because we have real things to deal with,” she told Armytage and the show’s co-host David Koch.

“But I’m in trouble according to you, Sam, way to take my back girl.”

Armytage interjected that she was just doing her job as a journalist, but Griffin shot back: “I’m going to meet you in an alley.”

“No I got it,” she said. “I got your number. You’re like a white Trump voter in America. I got your thing.”
Where are Burdick and Lederer when you really need them? Meanwhile, damn those white Trump voters! They even pop up Down There!

In truth, Kathy Griffin's "little picture" isn't more important than the various things Donald J. Trump might do in office, like bombing North Korea. That's true until her little picture, and her subsequent conduct, become self-pouring petrol for Fox.

At any rate, Griffin's spectacular bull-roar has reached the point where she's once again useful for Fox. Last night, we watched as the channel reported this nonsense, helping its viewers understand what pitiful losers We are.

Needless to say, the liberal world can't exactly be blamed for the behavior of self-dealing multimillionaire celebrity hounds like Griffin. That said, the liberal world has constantly been harmed, down through the years, by the ridiculous conduct of the vapid, know-nothing, tone-deaf stars we can't seem to quit.

Griffin is now engaged in extending this process. It isn't a helpful look.

Despite her celebrity and her wealth—she lives next door to Kanye and Kim!—Griffin is a D-minus performer within the liberal political world. That said, Hillary Clinton is not.

As of last week, Clinton is also claiming victim status. She does so in an excerpt from her forthcoming book which she chose to release on Morning Joe.

The choice of venues should be depressing. On a simple factual basis, Clinton's claim of victimization is tribally thrilling, but rather hard to sustain.

In large part due to Donald J. Trump, our nation's political and journalistic discourse is coming under great stress. Increasingly, our discourse has been shaped by partisan orgs which dissemble, embellish and misstate, deliberately misleading their customers for partisan glory and profit.

Unfortunately, this noxious process is now being widely directed at us the liberals. It's no longer just for viewers of Fox.

Under these stresses and strains, our liberal tribe has increasingly been spiraling downward into a world of misstatement and victimization. It's amazing to see the way our political and journalistic leaders are willing to play us. It's instructive to see how eager we often are to be conned.

Griffin is posing as victim this week, but so is ex-candidate Clinton. In a wide array of areas, we liberals seem eager to believe the various things we get told.

We seem to be desperate for ardent glory, for some tribal true belief. As our downward spiral continues, we'd call this a dangerous look.

Tomorrow: Her claim premiered on Morning Joe. It's rather hard to sustain.

Black and Hispanic kids in college!


No education reporter need apply:
To what extent are black kids and Hispanic kids "under-represented" in the nation's most highly-regarded colleges?

It isn't the most important educational question. Most college students don't attend the 100 colleges on which the Times reported last week, and most young people of college age don't attend a four-year college at all.

Beyond that, the Times report turns on a somewhat slippery concept—the concept of "under-representation." Absent careful explication, that concept can end up producing much more heat than light.

That said, all such questions about American kids are important. That's why it's surprising, yet not surprising, to see the way the New York Times presented this topic last week.

Last Friday, a highly unusual report on this topic topped the front page of the hard-copy Times. According to a note on Friday's page A3, it had been the Times' most-emailed article the previous day, when it appeared on-line.

What was the central claim of the Times report? In hard copy, the report ran under the following headlines, and featured the following bylines:
Affirmative Action Yields Little Progress on Campus For Blacks and Hispanics
After 35 Years, Racial Gaps Widen at 100 U.S. Colleges, an Analysis Shows

This article is by Jeremy Ashkenas, Haeyoun Park and Adam Pearce
Those headlines sounded suitably gloomy. For today, let's focus on the bylines, which had us slightly puzzled.

Why were we puzzled by those bylines? Because we didn't recall ever having seen those names before! Indeed, when we checked them out, we found that none of three credited writers is an education reporter.

All three are listed by the Times as "graphics editors." It's a job at which all three are experienced, and at which all three may be superbly skilled.

That said, it seemed, and seems, a bit odd to us to run a sprawling front-page report of this type without employing the services of an actual education reporter. This may explain the peculiar lay-out of this report. To wit:

According to Nexis, the entire front-page report ran only 308 words. And that constitutes the full front-page report. The report is not continued inside the paper in any normal sense.

The bulk of three editors' work appeared inside the paper, covering the whole of page A15. For the most part, it took the form of a hundred graphics showing the student demographics, down through the years, at the hundred colleges on which the Times is reporting.

Let's say it again: Ashkenas, Park and Pearce may all be superb at graphics. (Having said that, let's also say this: many of the graphics are fully legible and informative on-line, but they were virtually impossible to read in the Times' hard-copy editions.)

Ashkenas, Park and Pearce may all be superb as graphics editors. That said, this report touches on a wide array of important topics about public education, and we'd say this report showed little skill, or even interest, when it came to exploring those areas.

Indeed, the basic statistical framework on which the report is based makes little sense to us. In effect, this sprawling, heavily-emailed effort might be excellent as an appendix to a real report on the matters at hand. But that real report never seemed to materialize.

Over the years, the New York Times has persistently done a woeful job with its basic education reporting. This puzzling effort seems to continue an unfortunate family tradition.

Does the basic framework here even make sense? Tomorrow, we'll take a look at this report's basic statistical framework.

For our previous report on this front-page report, you can just click here. You'll read about this nowhere else. As you know, nobody cares.

ANTHILLS DOWN: Total silence, followed by faux!


Part 4—Extremely bad feminist speaks:
Last Sunday, in The Sunday Review, the New York Times subjected its readers to a vast mountain of bullshit.

It's just about the highest platform the famous newspaper possesses. And good lord, the bullshit was vast!

Inside The Review, on the op-ed page,
readers were subjected to a Maureen Dowd column, in which, according to Dowd, Daddy Stood Up to the Klan. The alleged event allegedly happened in 1947, before Dowd was born.

As a general matter, the column was Dowd's way of showing us how much she despises Donald J. Trump, the disordered fellow she rather plainly endorsed all through last year's campaign.

Elsewhere in the section, we were exposed to some of the silly piffle typical of The Review. As the nation reeled from Charlottesville, Loudon Wainwright offered a list of his ten favorite swimming holes, world-wide. And not only that! In an "opinion" piece headlined "9 Eclipses, 4 Continents," globe-trotting Dava Sobel told us why she never misses an eclipse, no matter where it takes place.

In fairness, it wasn't the fault of Wainwright or Sobel that their pieces may have seemed a bit foppish on this particular Sunday. Sobel has written a string of well-regarded books, the most recent of which was plugged in her essay's identity line. In his essay on swimming holes, Wainwright cited a song he wrote, "Swimming Song," which appeared in 1976 on one of the greatest albums we know about, Kate & Anna McGarrigle.

(The late Kate McGarrigle was Wainwright's wife at the time. On the album, the McGarrigles answered a long-standing question: if we could hear the choir of angels, what might they sound like?)

In fairness, let's not stop there. The Sunday Review never fails to offers its readers the dumbest thinking available, generally tricked up to resemble high erudition. Last Sunday, readers got to read a piece by Pamela Paul, editor of the Book Review. Perhaps as a tribute to sacred Thoreau, she started out like this:
PAUL (8/20/17): Recently, I gave up my electric toothbrush. There was nothing wrong with it. It was, in fact, an upscale model, and when I used it, I felt certain my teeth were not only getting cleaner and whiter but also perhaps even better aligned. And yet, my old manual toothbrush, poking out of a mug on the vanity, beckoned. One night, as I wearily approached the sink, I realized the last thing I wanted to experience was the frantic whir of yet another spinning gizmo. I plucked out the old-timey toothbrush instead, and never looked back.

I deliberately downgraded.
"Dumbnify, dumbnify," Thoreau once wrote. Or at least, he wrote something like that.

The Sunday Review rarely fails to put well-disguised examples of dumbness on vivid comic display. That said, on this particular Sunday, the genuine insult to readers' intelligence came when the Times pretended to assess Donald J. Trump's reactions to Charlottesville.

The Sunday Review offered a package of essays addressing this topic. Inevitably, one was by a requisite figure—the repentant former white nationalist, the one who has seen the light.

No formulaic rumination is easier to read and digest. But the main reaction to Donald J. Trump appeared in the form of a pair of essays which ate the bulk of The Sunday Review's first page.

One of these essays was written by the utterly silly Julius Krein. The youngster launched a pro-Trump journal in February, but now confesses that he was wrong, oh so completely wrong.

The matching piece was by Roxane Gay. If we had to pick one word, we'd call it a disgrace. A con.

Krein is an utterly silly, unknown child; Gay is a major writer. Her current book, Hunger, recently spent five weeks on the Times' best-seller list. The identity line of last Sunday's essay said this:

"Roxane Gay, an associate professor at Purdue University, is the author, most recently, of 'Hunger,' and a contributing opinion writer."

More specifically, Gay is a regular "contributing opinion writer" for the New York Times. She has held that position for several years. Therein, we'd have to say, lies part of this morning's tale.

Krein confessed that he'd been wrong, oh so wrong, in his recent support for Trump. In her shorter, matching piece, Gay had a different confession to make.

Silly ridiculous Krein confessed; the better-known Gay did too. What follows should make liberals angry—furious, disgusted, resentful:
GAY (8/20/17): Throughout the 2016 election, I did not do as much as I could have done to support Mrs. Clinton’s presidential bid. I contributed money to the campaign, but I didn’t volunteer or try to get out the vote.

Of all the men and women running for president, I found her to be the most qualified, comprehensive in her understanding of domestic and foreign policy, progressive and charismatic. I wanted to write about her and engage rigorously with her ideas far more than I did. But I didn’t. In part, I did not have the energy to deal with the inevitable backlash, from corners right and left. In part, I was trying to understand the popularity of Bernie Sanders because so many people I respect supported him and his ideas. And of course, there was that overconfidence, which, in hindsight, I am ashamed of. Nothing should be taken for granted in a democracy.

I don’t think that I, as an individual, could have swayed the election in a meaningful way but I know I could have done so much more and I did not. I hold myself accountable for that. I am increasingly concerned with accountability because our country is being led by a man who believes he is accountable only to himself and enriching his coffers rather than the more than 300 million people he was so narrowly elected to lead and serve.

It pains me to think about what could have been. It is even more difficult to face the way things are.
In the dictionary, next to "faux," those bogus remarks should appear.

Poor Gay! She "wanted" to write about Candidate Clinton, she says. In truth, we're not sure the words "wanted to" mean what she thinks they mean.

She wanted to write about Candidate Clinton. But as it turned out, she didn't!

It isn't that she was taken ill. It isn't that she submitted work which editors rejected.

Speaking a bit more precisely, Gay could have written about Candidate Clinton, presumably from a high platform. Here's why she says she didn't:

"In part, I did not have the energy to deal with the inevitable backlash, from corners right and left."

An ironist might say that Gay is blaming "both sides," not unlike Donald J. Trump! But in part, Gay chose to let Clinton twist in the wind because she didn't want to deal with the pain—didn't want to get negative feedback from folk on the right and the left.

Here's the second part of the reason why Gay didn't speak—and no, this doesn't exactly make sense:

"In part, I was trying to understand the popularity of Bernie Sanders because so many people I respect supported him and his ideas."

She didn't write about Candidate Clinton—during the general election, let's say—because she was trying to understand the popularity of Bernie Sanders?

You're right! On its face, that doesn't make sense. But those are two of the reasons why Gay, who wanted to speak up for Clinton, chose to sit it out. Here's an unflattering paraphrase of what she has actually said:

As Michael Jordan might have put it, Sanders voters buy best-selling books too!

Sanders supporters buy books too! In fairness, that thought may never have entered Gay's head. That said, it's fairly obvious that she chose to keep her thoughts to herself because she didn't want the pain of being criticized by Sanders supporters, among others. We'll suggest other groups below.

Unfortunately, major liberals have been making that type of choice for the past twenty-five years, ever since the barrage of weird attacks on Clinton and Clinton began. Our cowardly lions have constantly clammed, rather than challenge The Power. And sure enough! After twenty-five years of this self-serving conduct, the cowardice of our big liberal stars has finally sent Trump to the White House.

It's hard to find sufficient words of contempt for that passage by Gay. Or for the reactions of the inevitable liberal readers who flocked to comments to praise Professor Gay for her courage and her goodness in making this bogus confession.

Question: Has there ever been a music man whose trombones we didn't buy? To whose manifest bullshit we liberals wouldn't submit? Just read the reactions to Gay's confession and marvel at the way we liberals constantly claim that The Others are hopelessly dumb!

Why did Professor Gay choose silence, even when she "wanted" to speak up for Candidate Clinton? We've suggested one unflattering possibility. Now, we'll suggest two more:

Gay is a black associate professor at a major university. During the past campaign, her fellow assistant and associate professors spent a fair amount of time telling black voters to stay away from Candidate Clinton because on one occasion, twenty years before, she used a term which was in wide use at the time. ("Super-predator," a version of "sociopath.").

Admiring Clinton as she claims she did, Professor Gay could have shown a bit of courage and challenged this unwise stance. But she might have gotten some negative feedback, so she maintained her silence.

As a result, Sheriff Joe, a more recent super-predator, just received some very good news. Ain't liberal silence grand?

There was another specific arena within which the lofty Gay might have spoken. That other arena involves the New York Times.

As Campaign 2016 unfolded, the New York Times re-engaged in the 25-year war it had waged against both Clintons and Gore. Largely because of intellectual leaders like Gay, most people in the liberal rank-and-file remain unaware, to this day, that any such war has occurred.

As Campaign 2016 unfolded, the Times did some truly incredible work with which they extended this war. We'll mention just one example:

In April 2015, the Times published an astounding, 4400-word report on the scary uranium deal through which Secretary Clinton sold out the national interest. They published their absurd report in concert with a ludicrous book by a right-wing hack who was bankrolled by Steve Bannon!

Gay could have spoken up about that ludicrous, sprawling report, which Donald J. Trump still mentions. Later, she could have spoken up about the Times' over-the-top coverage of the email matter.

She could have spoken about that dying fellow's last few nouns. She could have spoken up about a wide range of ridiculous things the ridiculous New York Times did.

Why didn't Gay speak up? Dearest darlings, use your heads! The utterly useless Roxane Gay is "a contributing opinion writer"at the New York Times! And as we've told you for how many years, people who hold such posts, or dream of holding such posts, do not talk back to the Washington Post or to the New York Times.

Dearest darlings, use your heads! Such things simply aren't done!

They don't talk back to the New York Times, from whom they derive their careers. Indeed, that can be seen as the basic story of the past twenty-five years—as the basic story of the way Donald J. Trump reached the White House.

Poor Gay! She "wanted" to speak up for Candidate Clinton, who she thought was a fabulous candidate. But she decided to bail.

She didn't want to offend Sanders supporters. She didn't want to get name-called, as she would have been, by our team's assistant professors.

She didn't want to jeopardize her sinecure at the New York Times. And last Sunday, we in the liberal rank and file rushed to praise her for her goodness and courage! Is anyone dumber than our tribe is? Does anyone purchase more cons?

We offer one last observation:

The New York Times insulted its readers when it published that silly twaddle by the ludicrous silly-boy Krein. That said, Gay's companion essay was just as silly and just as faux. Just as scripted, predictable, dumb.

Each of those pieces was silly and faux. But then, little that isn't silly and faux makes it into print at The Sunday Review. (Daddy stood up to the Klan!)

Gay's confession reeked of faux. That said, we liberals love her a lot, and don't those royalties spend!

Gene Robinson tells an amazing story!


Also, what Mister Lee said:
Every time we read Roxane Gay's confession in last Sunday's New York Times, we experience "a fit of pique."

Unlike Donald J. Trump, we can't turn to the nuclear codes when we experience such a fit. But these fits may not create the best environment for award-winning, top-notch discussion.

For these reasons, we're going to wait till Monday to discuss Gay's confession, which was paired with the absurd lament by the silly flyweight Julius Krein, founder of a silly journal no one ever read. The Times insulted its readers' intelligence when it published that high-profile nonsense by silly-boy Krein. But the piece by Gay is so appalling its makes our blood boil every time.

While we wait for our pique to pass, we'll recommend that you peruse Gene Robinson's latest column. It appeared in yesterday's Washington Post. It tells an amazing story.

The amazing story Robinson tells involves his great-grandfather. First, though, here's the way the prize-winning columnist began his transplendent piece:
ROBINSON (8/25/17): It’s not surprising that we seem to be refighting the Civil War, since it never properly ended in the first place.

It might have, had Southerners listened to Robert E. Lee. The defeated general believed that erecting monuments to the Confederacy—such as his equestrian statue in Charlottesville, now shrouded with a black tarp in mourning of Heather Heyer — would be wrong.

“I think it wiser . . . not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered,” he wrote in 1869 about proposed memorials at Gettysburg.

As soon as they got the chance, Southerners ignored Lee’s advice. After the last federal troops were withdrawn from Southern capitals in 1877, whites began the process of re-subjugating African Americans.
"Hold back, men of Ithaka, from the weariness of fighting!" So spoke Pallas Athene, posing as Mentor, at the end of The Odyssey, in remarks sacred Homer recorded.

So too spoke Lee in 1869, in the statement Robinson quotes. At least on this one occasion, we'd have to say Mister Lee got it right.

That's the way Robinson's column begins. At this point, Robinson describes the history which followed as Lee's sound advice was ignored. In the process, he discusses his great-grandfather, one of the many exemplars of moral greatness who emerged within the ranks of brilliant Americans socially defined as "black:"
ROBINSON: My great-grandfather, Maj. John Hammond Fordham, was among the many black Southerners who were able to take advantage of the brief window of opportunity known as Reconstruction. Born in Charleston, S.C., in 1854, he became a lawyer and held a series of government jobs, working at the imposing Custom House near the port. He was called “Major” because he was one of the founders of the Carolina Light Infantry, equivalent to a volunteer national guard unit and described by the Orangeburg Times and Democrat as “the first colored brigade organized in the South.” He was active enough in Republican politics to correspond with Theodore Roosevelt.

Maj. Fordham moved to Orangeburg and built the house I grew up in. He and his wife had nine children, eight of whom survived to adulthood, and he was able to give them the education and resources they needed to build on the foundation he had laid. But the children’s options, and those of the following generation, were deliberately and systematically limited by Jim Crow. The Fordhams achieved much, but only in spite of the circumstances the white power structure imposed.
As everyone knows but no one says, so-called black America has produced some of the greatest moral and ethical traditions in all of human history.

We don't refer simply to Dr. King and to those with whom he exchanged instruction. We also refer to a giant like Robinson's Major Fordham (and his wife). It's astounding to think that our sad, ridiculous "human race" has produced such high achievers.
At the end of his column, Robinson returned to the question of those Confederate statues. Also to the question of the names of various roads.

On the whole, we think Robinson showed good sense in this part of his column. We also think there's a basic point which he left unsettled:
ROBINSON: As for me, I couldn’t care less about most street names. I sometimes commute to work on Lee Highway. I’ll bet half the people driving down that road at any given time—including millennials, Salvadoran immigrants, government workers who grew up in Utah or Vermont—wouldn’t know whether it was named after Robert E. or Spike.

Roads bearing a secessionist’s full name are a bit different. The United Daughters of the Confederacy intended Jefferson Davis Highway, which begins in Arlington, to stretch through the South and beyond, all the way to the Pacific. It exists today in many disconnected segments. Alexandria has been working to rename its part of the road for some time. A plaque in a San Diego park designating the western terminus was quietly removed last week.

And the statues? As societies have done for millennia, we erect and prominently display likenesses of figures we admire. When citizens no longer admire the person being honored, they should haul the statues down. They can go to museums or onto the scrap heap of history, where the Confederacy belongs.
We note that Robinson ducked the pressing question of the renaming of Yawkey Way, a two-block road which borders part of Boston's Fenway Park.

Last Saturday, the New York Times devoted two full pages to this utterly silly question. In such ways, we liberals almost always manage to show that we'll extend any moral issue to the point of sheer absurdity, inspiring large chunks of the voting public to view us as majorly crazy. This instinct serves Donald J. Trump.

We think Robinson showed good sound sense concerning the naming of roads. We're going to guess that his great-grandfather possessed a wealth of sound judgment/good sense.

That said, we were struck by one part of Robinson's last paragraph. We refer to this sensible-sounding point:

"When citizens no longer admire the person being honored, they should haul the statues down."

As stated, that's perfectly sensible! But what about this? what if some citizens "no longer admire the person being honored," but some others still do?

The one group can always name-call the other, of course. Is there some other way to proceed?

That situation calls for the wisdom possessed by giants like Major Fordham. As Pallas Athena expressed it more fully:

"Hold back, men of Ithaka, from the weariness of fighting, so that most soon, and without blood, we can settle everything!"

Mister Lee didn't want the statues going up. On balance, Robinson seems to want them coming down.

What would Major Fordham have done? We'll recommend trying to channel the wisdom possessed by our history's giants.

BREAKING: It's that time of the year again!


Time for some back-to-school bungling:
It's that time of year again! But first, a pair of factual claims:

According to the New York Times, 15 percent of our country's "college-age population" is black.

Also according to the Times, 22 percent of our country's "college-age population" is Hispanic.

We'll assume those statements are accurate. Now we'll ask two additional questions:

What percentage of the college-age population is white? Also, what percentage of the college-age population is Asian-American?

In a gigantic, sprawling front-page report which is amazingly short on the forest while long on the trees, the New York Times doesn't say!

(Why do we say this report is gigantic? In hard copy, it's the featured report at the top of today's front page. Inside the paper, it consumes the entire page A15.)

It's an amazing tradition! At this time of the year, the Times almost always presents some sweeping back-to-school report. By tradition, the reporting will almost always be bungled, in some sort of head-scratching way.

(In 2015, the bungling involved an elementary fact the Times didn't seem to know: most black kids live in the South! The ridiculousness of that year's bungling proceeded directly from there.)

We've just wasted a lot of time trying to complete the picture of the college-age population. (Trying and failing.) It didn't seem to occur to the Times that the questions we've asked are extremely basic, given the (very important) topic they've chosen to mangle this year.

The problems with this frustrating front-page report extend beyond the absence of those two basic data points. Putting the details aside until later, let's turn to the larger question which underlies this puzzling annual mess:

How can the New York Times be so reliably incompetent? Also, how can it be that New York Times readers, and the rest of the press corps, never quite seem to notice?

We'll likely cover today's report in our own back-to-school reporting. But good lord! Every year, the nation's most famous newspaper seems to present an informationally-bungled back-to-school report.

What can it mean that they do this each year? What does this practice say about them? What does it say about us?

Inquiring minds want to know: According to The Conversation (on this morning's page A3), this frustrating back-to-school report was "The Times's most emailed article on Thursday," when it appeared on line.

It deals with a very important topic. Overall, we'd say the work is amazingly bad, though in a familiar old way.

ANTHILLS DOWN: Youngster repents in the Sunday Times!


Interlude—Who else would publish this drivel:
Today, we have the posing of questions. First among them is this:

Who the Sam Hill is the ludicrous Julius Krein?

We ask for a pitiful reason. Last Sunday, the first page of the New York Times' Sunday Review featured a lengthy confession by Krein. His piece was matched with a piece by Roxane Gay—a piece which contains its own inexcusable and appalling, but deeply revealing, confession.

Before we look at Gay's confession, let's review the confession by Krein. As we start, we ask two questions:

Who the freak is the dumb mother-frumper who graced the front page of the Sunday Review? Also, would anyone but the New York Times publish such dumb, silly work?

Who the anthill is Julius Krein? As it turns out, he's a 31-year-old graduate of—brace yourselves!—Harvard College. That means he was a fresh-faced 29 years of age when he was swept off his feet by the masterful brilliance of the candidate Donald J. Trump.

In his sprawling piece in the Sunday Review, Krein explains the basis on which he was swept away by the brilliance of Candidate Trump. According to Nexis, his piece runs exactly 1666 words, though those last three digits may be a joke played by the gods on Olympus.

The fresh-faced Krein, still just 29, found himself stirred by Candidate Trump. At the start of this year, he actually founded a journal, American Affairs, to flesh out the brilliance of President Trump.

In the Sunday Review, Krein confessed that he has been wrong, oh so wrong, about this Donald J. Trump. That said, to let you know how disordered our warren of anthills has become, the leading authority on Krein's life and times provides this capsule portrait.

Warning! Misleading quotation appears:
Julius Krein (born 1986) is an American conservative political writer and editor best known as the founder of the journal American Affairs. Krein launched the pro-Donald Trump journal in February 2017 in a bid "to give the Trump movement some intellectual heft." Six months later, however, Krein publicly withdrew his support for Trump, writing that he regretted his prior support of him as president.


[After graduating from Harvard in 2008], Krein went into a career in finance, working for Bank of America and the Blackstone Group. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, he was employed at a hedge fund based in Boston while also contributing as a writer and site administrator for a pro-Trump blog. The blog, known as the Journal for American Greatness, was created supposedly to support Trump on the basis that his beliefs were politically sound. The blog's owners eventually took it offline, claiming it had begun as an inside joke and they were not prepared for such large readership. Its popularity led to Krein deciding to leave his day job to launch an authentic publication, American Affairs, a quarterly journal intended to support Trump from an intellectual perspective.

The inaugural issue of American Affairs was released February 21, one month after Trump's inauguration.
You've read all that correctly. Most strikingly, our Harvard grad/former hedge fund droog launched his journal early this year "to give the Trump movement some intellectual heft!"

(Warning! In fairness, those aren't the words of the brilliant young Krein. That account of Krein's motive was penned by two Politico writers.)

That quote was a bit misleading! If the leading authority can be believed about everything else, Krein started his pro-Trump activity, perhaps at age 29, at a site whose owners later claimed that the site had been a big inside joke.

Undeterred by this turn of events, Krein decided to dump his day job early this year to start American Affairs. Krein's journal wasn't meant as a joke. But this Sunday, on the Sunday Review's front page, the youngster penned 1666 words to admit he'd been wrong, oh so wrong, about Trump.

Question: Would anyone but the New York Times publish such manifest drivel by such a manifest flyweight? Would anyone else even consider publishing the silly young Krein?

Would anyone else give a fellow like this such a giant platform? Would anyone else let this idiot kid extend his profile so?

Let's be clear! Thanks to the rise of talk radio, cable news and the Net, our American discourse is full of unimpressive work by citizens of all ages. This is true to an historically astounding, anthill-destroying degree.

That said, would anyone but the New York Times embrace one of these sillybills so? Would anyone else hand a fellow like Krein the keys to the family machine?

Go ahead! If you have 1666 words to waste, work your way through Krein's confession. You'll encounter a lot of ridiculous clatter about the many impressive points which drew this worker bee to Candidate Trump. You'll also encounter a lot of piffle about the route which has brought this earnest young man to his senses. His piece might be called "Up From Trump."

Do you mind if we mention what you won't see in this mountain of piffle? You won't see a word about this:

Back in 2015 and 2016, what did Krein think about Donald J. Trump's long reign as King of the Birthers? What did he think about the years of disgraceful horseshit King Trump had let loose on the land?

Later in his confession, Krein tells us how upset he was by Trump's comments about Judge Curiel. He never mentions the birther years—and his editors at the Times didn't require him to do so!

Would anyone but a New York Times editor fail to spot this rather basic omission? Fail to see how many other basic points this young fellow skips past in his piece?

In his own well-known Confessions, Augustine recalls himself saying this when he was still a youngster:

"Lord, make me chaste—but not yet!"

Luckily, the famous saint didn't publish his thoughts until he'd become more seasoned. By way of contrast, the Times has rushed Krein into print, in an apparent attempt to mock the paper's unmockable readers.

Augustine's confessions are still famous today. Krein's confession may possibly have a somewhat shorter shelf life.

That said, Krein's confession comes from the blockhead hedge-fund right. We liberals already know how to reject such work. But Krein's confession was matched with one by Roxane Gay—and Gay is one of our own!

We're quite sure that Roxane Gay is a thoroughly good, decent person. But dear God, what she said in her own Sunday piece!

Tomorrow: When will we learn to see who we are? A truly gruesome confession by Gay is praised by our liberal tribe

New York Times readers keep pouring it on!


Four of the top ten reports:
Yesterday, the New York Times' street-smart, etiquette-savvy readers just kept pouring it on.

On Tuesday, they made Maggie Haberman's report the most-read article in the entire paper. The report involved Louise Linton, whose attitude we readers dislike.

Yesterday, they kept it up. Here's what today's page A3 says:
The Conversation


2. The Right Way to Brag on Instagram
Four of the day's top ten articles concerned the firestorm started by Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, when she posted a long condescending response to a commenter objecting to Ms. Linton's choice to catalogue the approximately $16,000 in clothes and accessories she was wearing with hashtags. Lindy West's Op-Ed, written as a list of "do"s and "don't"s for the aspiring social media braggart, inspired one Facebook commenter to declare it a "#humbledrag."
Yesterday, four of the top ten (most read) articles focused on this compelling affair of state, which is extremely important because Linton is somebody's wife and she seemed condescending.

We think there's an obvious lesson here:

Do not condescend to New York Times readers! Writers and editors at the Times will handle that project themselves!

Apparently, we can't have nice things!


Lemon walks Tuesday night back:
Late Tuesday night—actually, in the midnight hour, on Wednesday morning—things spun out of control on CNN.

As we noted yesterday, Don Lemon was riding the range in the wake of Donald J. Trump's latest disordered tirade. Eventually, James Clapper put some meat on the bones of the question of Trump's "fitness." This was the exchange in question. To avoid confusion, we'll give this a Tuesday night date:
LEMON (8/22/17): You said you questioned his fitness. Is he a threat to national security, the president?

CLAPPER: Well, he certainly could be. Again, having some understanding of the levers that a president can exercise, I worry about, frankly, you know, the access to nuclear codes. In a fit of pique, he decides to do something about Kim Jong-Un, there's actually very little to stop him.

The whole system's built to insure rapid response if necessary. So there's very little in the way of controls over, you know, exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.
Oof. Explaining his concern about Trump's "fitness," Clapper pictured the president, "in a fit of pique," creating a nuclear war. Clapper said he found the matter "pretty damn scary."

Clapper's presentation followed a wild and woolly presentation by one of those CNN panels. After Trump's performance ended, Lemon turned to a typical CNN gaggle.

Including Lemon, the panel included five Trump-trashers, versus the one "Trump supporter." In the immediate wake of Trump's Tuesday night rant, the CNN stars really let it go.

As he started the discussion, Lemon said that Trump had been "unhinged." When he threw to CNN's David Chalian, the horrified analyst said that Trump had been "totally unhinged."

Rick Wilson, a never-Trump Republican, said the presentation had been "an astounding chain of lies tied together by a man who obviously is mentally unstable...a man who is not well, not qualified or mentally or morally fit."

"If people around him don't think guy is absolutely bat-crap crazy, they're mistaken," Wilson said. Then, this exchange occurred:
LEMON (8/22/17): Bakari, is it time to start discussing a 25th amendment?

SELLERS: I mean we're going to have discussions about the 25th amendment, no doubt. I think the president is unfit, unhinged, but many of us have known that for 18 months, 19 months.
The discussion displayed an unmistakable drift. Eventually, Maria Cardona got her turn:
CARDONA: Tonight I think was historic on a couple levels. Yes, I believe, after tonight, a lot of people are going to be thinking that he is not just completely unfit, that he is not just completely ill equipped to hold this office, but that he might be psychotically demented and ill of the mind in order to take this office and in order to continue on with this office. In fact, Congresswoman Jackie Spear was on CNN talking about the 25th amendment and whether it's time to invoke that.
Except for the token Trump supporter, the verdict was unanimous. Later, Clapper appeared and imagined Trump, in a fit of pique, starting a nuclear war.

This was pretty tough stuff. We've long made two points about this type of discussion. We've said 1) we need to have a conversation about the president's mental health, but 2) our pundit corps almost surely isn't up to that difficult, delicate task.

Lemon's pundits were possibly ranting a bit, and none of them had any special qualification for the discussion at hand. But as of last night, none of this matters. Last night, Lemon went on the air and rather plainly walked the excitement back. Lemon had been sent on the air to suggest that none of this happened.

The night before, his panel of pundits had gotten a snootful and said what they actually think about Trump's mental health. We're going to guess that the suits at CNN didn't like it.

Last night, Lemon was frogmarched onto the air to say it had all been a dream. After hemming and hawing for some time, he executed this fairly explicit walk-back as he spoke with Mike Murphy and James Fallows:
MURPHY: I don't believe the "crazy Trump" theory. I believe he is a narcissist. I believe he has an impulse control problem, and I believe he is the most insecure person I've ever seen in public life, which sis something that attracts a lot of insecure people. So he is a record setter.

LEMON: Yes. But you know, when—

MURPHY: But his crazy rhetoric has been worse than his actions, which have been more rational.

LEMON: But that's what—you are smart. You know that when someone says, when people say "unfit," they don't necessarily mean crazy. They just mean—

MURPHY: Right. Exactly. Yes. Look, I've said "unqualified by temperament, knowledge, or character to be president of the United States." I've said it publicly for a long time. I believe that. But that—you know, it's easy to get down the slippery slide into the "nuclear madman" stuff and everything, and I'm not sure that's accurate, but he is, he is unfit because he does not understand the role of the president is not only to be the head of government in our system but head of state, which means you have a responsibility to be kind of a reference clock for proper behavior in defending American values.

And he doesn't understand that, or doesn't care. So that's why we have this method of presidential insult comic communication, added with total disregard for the truth, that has become such a toxic stain on this presidency.

LEMON: Well, go ahead.

FALLOWS: Just to take that point one step further. Here is a specific example of what "fitness for office" means. There is a skill that you have as a live performer, which Donald Trump really has, which is knowing the pulse of a crowd, the mood of the crowd and he plays to it really well. When I saw that last night, he was working the crowd for cheers.

Fitness for being president involves being aware that every single second of your life, every single utterance you put out, every word you say or don't say, every phrase has consequences around the world and in this country. And due to his entire inability to even imagine that, I think that is a kind of fitness that he is not getting better at.

LEMON: Yes. And I think that, you know, when people criticize and say they are questioning the president's sanity and all that, they know better. They're doing it just, you know, just because—to make a political point of some sort.
This was just part of the rolling walk-back. We would offer this guess:

The bosses told Lemon to walk all that "Trump is crazy" talk back. In the high-paid world of cable news, good boys do as they're told.

In a rational world, we think this country should have a discussion of this president's mental health. In the world in which we actually live, our TV stars and print performers simply aren't up to that task.

Our pundits' skills are very few, and they're strongly inclined to comply with their bosses' demands. They're being paid for their obedience as well as for their general dumbness and their skill at reciting script. Their jobs are too good to risk.

Clapper said that Donald J. Trump seems so unwell that he could imaginably start a nuclear war in a fit of pique. In the panel discussion preceding that interview, Lemon's kids said Trump was "totally unhinged" and "bat-crap crazy," that he might be "psychotically demented."

The bosses said that should be erased. Lemon went out and did it.

It was just a bunch of talk, he said, "to make a political point of some sort." This is CNN!

ANTHILLS DOWN: Ants on acid at the Post!


Part 3—Trump describes CNN:
In Tuesday evening's trademark rant, Donald J. Trump made some familiar, crazy claims about the mainstream press corps.

For example, he returned to the old gong-show in which he pretends the TV networks are turning their cameras off because he's talking so tough. Presumably, he understands that this isn't true. But in the room, on a tribal home court, the old routine always sells.

In this morning's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof responds to Donald J. Trump. In truth, who needs people like Donald J. Trump with journos like Kristof around?
KRISTOF (8/24/17): Look, we in journalism deserve to have our feet held to the fire. We make mistakes all the time, and too often we are superficial, sensationalist, unfair, defensive or diverted by shiny objects. Critics are right that we in the national media are often out of touch with working-class America, and distressingly often, we are lap dogs instead of watchdogs.
In fairness, Kristof proceeds to say this: "Yet for all our failings, journalism remains an indispensable constraint on power." But based upon that list of horribles, it sounds like we're paying a very steep price from that (alleged) "constraint on power.

Who needs people like Donald J. Trump with journos like Kristof around? In fairness, Kristof was trying to be an honest broke. But having said that, good lord!

According to Kristof, he and his colleagues "make mistakes all the time." They're "superficial, sensationalist, unfair, defensive [and] diverted by shiny objects."

Our upper-end journalists "are often out of touch with working-class America," Kristof says. "Distressingly often," our upper-end scribes "are lap dogs," the columnist says.

With analysts like Kristof around, who needs Dona;ld J. Trump? We'll only note that Kristof failed to mention one major point—he failed to mention the 24-year war his guild conducted, which in the end doomed Candidate Clinton sent Donald J. Trump to the White House.

(Kevin Drum aimed his pop gun at this war in this recent post. For more than a dozen years, we begged liberal journalists to tackle this problem; Drum would scream in pain about our tiresome hectoring. Now he's very very upset about the endpoint of the long and winding road which led to Clinton's defeat and thus to Trump's ascension.)

Kristof paints a remarkable portrait of the upper-end press. A different, more fantastical portrait appears in today's Washington Post.

This portrait is painted by the editors in their lead editorial. In hard-copy, their headline says this:

"What we wish Mr. Trump had said"

They too are responding to Donald J. Trump's Tuesday evening rant. In this case, though, the editors apparently dropped some extremely potent acid before composing their piece.

As the kids would say long ago, there seems to be some bad acid going around! Below, you see one of the things they wish the commander had said:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (8/24/17): “No president is ever happy with his press coverage, I know that. Reporters get things wrong. They’re not always fair. But you know what? They love their country, just like you and I do. We’re lucky to live in a country where you can watch CNN and Fox News and MSNBC. I recommend you listen to a lot of different points of view and then make up your own mind.”
"We’re lucky to live in a country where you can watch CNN and Fox News and MSNBC?" Fondly do the editors wish that Donald J. Trump had said that!

"We’re lucky to live in a country where you can watch CNN?" Putting the ludicrous Fox and the deeply flawed MSNBC to the side, we ask an obvious question:

Have the editors actually watched this famous "news channel" lately? More specifically, have the editors tried to watch CNN in prime time?

We watched CNN for several hours last night. The work was embarrassing, excruciatingly bad. And that was before Don Lemon came on.

Anderson Cooper's two-hour broadcast was horrendous last night. Increasingly, Cooper's attempts to stage panel discussions look like some sort of burlesque routine from the early part of the 20th century.

Innstead of Home Come Da Judge, Cooper seems to be fronting Here Come Da Press Corps. As we watched his full two hours, we were forced to note an obvious fact. Even as he misled, misstated and crazily ranted on Tuesday night, Donald J. Trump came embarrassingly close to getting CNN right.

What did Trump say about CNN? Fairly early in his rant, he assailed the famous "news channel" as "so bad and so pathetic." It's hard to say that's wrong.

A bit later, he got more specific. As we watched Cooper and his baggy-pants gang staging their gong shows last night, we thought of the painfully accurate comments we highlight below:
TRUMP (8/22/17): Now they only choose, you know, like a half a sentence here or there, and then they just go on this long rampage, or they put on these real lightweights all around the table that nobody ever heard of and they all say what a bad guy I am.

But I mean, did you ever see anything—and then you wonder why CNN is doing relatively poorly in the ratings. Because they're putting like seven people all negative on Trump and they fired Jeffrey Lord, poor Jeffrey. Jeffrey Lord.

I guess he was getting a little bit fed up and he was probably fighting back a little too hard. They said, "We'd better get out of here. We better get him out."
"Alas, poor Yorick," Hamlet once said. Trump laments poor Lord.

Humorous elements to the side, Trump's comments were painfully accurate. On Tuesday night, the highly disordered Donald J. Trump managed to paint an accurate portrait of the ludicrous work which now prevails in prime time on this ridiculous channel.

Under the pressure of dealing with Trump, CNN has devolved into an acid-laced, parodic version of a real news channel. They do, in fact, rather frequently "choose like a half a sentence here or there," then "just go on this long rampage."

They do, in fact, "put on these real lightweights all around the table...and they all say what a bad guy" Trump is. They do "put like seven people all negative on Trump" on the air, conjoining them with a single Jeffrey Lord type.

The reliably ridiculous Lord was finally dumped this month. In the wake of his firing, CNN has been auditioning baggy-pants "Trump supporters" to serve as his successor.

Last night, Cooper was auditioning a fellow named Ed Martin. He interrupted and made absurd remarks all through the "panel segments," perhaps at the direction of the program's producers.

The ratio of pundits wasn't the hyperbolic seven-to-one Donald J. Trump described Tuesday night. But it came pretty darn close.

Counting Cooper, the ratio last night was five to one. The discussions were marked by incessant interruptions and general all-around inanity, with an unusual amount of racial and ethnic resentments thrown in.

("Back off, you creep," Ana Navarro told Martin at one point. For some trademark inanity, click here.)

The task of covering a disordered president has unmasked CNN. This challenge has taken Lemon beyond his range and his depth. In Cooper's case, it has highlighted an unfortunate fact: Cooper's one journalistic skill seems to involve speaking to someone who has just lost her home in a flood and asking her how she feels.

The four hours hosted by Cooper and Lemon were simply awful last night. Watching Cooper's panel discussions, we thought of Wilfred Owen.

In his most famous poem, Owen described the horror of marching along behind a wagon filled with the dying and dead of World War I. In the second half of the poem, he refers to one such dying man:
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Possibly, CNN wasn't that bad, but it came fairly close. In our view, the Post shouldn't speak with such high zest about the joy of watching.

According to the Washington Post, we're lucky ducks to have CNN—and MSNBC, and even the ludicrous Fox! Perhaps they meant "in principle." But speaking of the disordered Trump, we're going to tell you this:

We regard Donald J. Trump as deeply disordered. But even a broken cuckoo clock is right two times a day!

On Tuesday night, Donald J. Trump was scarily right about the goony corporate mess known as CNN. Donald J. Trump is a disordered mess, but so is CNN, where the ants are racing all about as a highly disordered commander in chief kicks their anthills down.

Still coming: That awful confession