Major professor crashes and burns!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2017

Gitlin emulates Trump:
Almost surely, Donald J. Trump is our least articulate modern president—and you can start the "modern" era pretty much wherever you please.

Briefly, let's be fair. In part, the problem stems from the fact that Donald J. Trump rarely knows what he's talking about. During the campaign, he promised "something terrific" in health care, full stop.

Almost surely, Donald J. Trump was holding back no details. Donald J. Trump rarely seems to know what he's talking about.

For whatever reason, Donald J. Trump is highly inarticulate. At Bill Moyers and Company, and then again at Salon, Professor Gitlin has now pretended to discuss this state of affairs.

We say "pretended" for a reason. Professor Gitlin's critique of Trump is almost as weirdly incompetent as a typical Trump remark. When it comes to incompetence and disingenuinity, Professor Gitlin seems to be emulating President Trump.

We've often said that the liberal world has been failed by our professors. Professor Gitlin, a major professor, has now established us as a major seer.

Professor Gitlin starts his critique is a sensible way. The bulk of what's said here is accurate:
GITLIN (3/27/17): Once upon a time, there were presidents for whom English seemed their native language. Barack Obama most recently. He deliberated. At a press conference or in an interview—just about whenever he wasn’t speaking from a text—his pauses were as common as other people’s “uh’s.” He was not pausing because his vocabulary was impoverished. He was pausing to put words into sequence. He was putting phrases together with care, word by word, trying out words before uttering them, checking to feel out what they would sound like once uttered. It was important to him because he did not want to be misunderstood. President Obama valued precision, in no small part because he knew he lived in a world where every last presidential word was a speech act, a declaration with consequence, so that the very statement that the sky was blue, say, would be scoured for evidence that the president was declaring a policy on the nature of nature.

That was then. Now we have a president who, when he speaks, spatters the air with unfinished chunks, many of which do not qualify as sentences, and which do not follow from previous chunks. He does not release words into a stream of consciousness but into a heap. He heaps words on top of words, to overwhelm meaning with vague gestures. He does not think, he lurches.
The fawning about Obama's speech acts is overdone, but it's followed by an accurate assessment of the verbal lurches of Donald J. Trump. That said:

From this point on, Gitlin offers one of the most incompetent essays we've ever seen from a major professor. This guild has failed us persistently, but never in a more embarrassing manner than this.

From this point on, the professor undertakes to offer examples from Donald J. Trump's recent interview with Time magazine's Michael Scherer. These examples are meant to show how incoherent our president is.

Here's how Gitlin limns it:
GITLIN (continuing directly): Here are some examples from Time’s transcript of their cover story made out of their phone interview with the president of the United States. I have italicized the non sequiturs, incomplete propositions, indefinite pronouns and other obscurities that amount to verbal mud.
The professor says he has italicized the various parts of Trump's remarks which amount to verbal mud. Unfortunately, Gitlin's analytical effort is more incompetent than the bulk of what Trump is said to have said during his interview.

Why do we say "said to have said?" Let's mention some facts our ranking professor doesn't seem to know:

You can't automatically trust a news org's transcript! The contemporary journalistic transcript is frequently riddled with errors. Anyone who has ever tried to be fair about public figures' spoken remarks will, of course, already understand this.

In what ways can a transcript fail? Let us count the ways, reaching the number two:

First, news org transcripts frequently misstate the actual words which were said. The only way to guard against this possibility is to check the transcript against a videotape of the spoken remarks.

We routinely engage in that basic type of fact-checking at this site. It's time-consuming and annoying, but it's also important. News orgs frequently misrecord the words which were actually said.

In this instance, Time has provided no videotape of the interview. There is no way to know that the words which appear in Time's transcript are the words Trump actually said.

It may well be that Time transcribed Trump's words with special care, but there's no way to be sure about that. Such conduct isn't the norm.

In this instance, a second problem is transparently clear. Quite plainly, Time has made little attempt to punctuate the various things Trump said.

In this omission, Time flirts with journalistic malpractice. Especially with a herky-jerky speaker like Trump, you have to try to be fair in punctuating the stops and starts which are common in extemporaneous speech.

Plainly, Time made virtually no attempt to do that. For that reason, the muddiness of Time's transcript falls on Time itself, as well as on Donald J. Trump. And again:

There is no way to feel sure that you're reading the words Donald J. Trump really said.

Professor Gitlin shows no sign of knowing any of this. He proceeds to author his own remarkable howlers—howlers he generates by pulling bits of Trump's (reported) remarks completely out of context.

(This resembles the slippery practice, familiar to cable viewers, known as "the Maddow edit.")

In a rational world, Gitlin's work would earn any college undergraduate a failing grade. (Just for the record: He doesn't just italicize chunks of Trump's remarks. He publishes two separate words in bold type without ever explaining why.)

In puzzling fashion, Gitlin offers slivers of the transcript, including two slivers by Scherer. He doesn't show where he has made omissions in the transcript, a transcript for whose accuracy he can't vouch in the first place.

Having engaged in these schoolboy errors, our laziest, least competent major professor then proceeds to tell the world that he has let us see the incoherence of Trump!

Trump is often barely coherent. In this embarrassing essay, Professor Gitlin is worse.

We'll limit ourselves to one example. Below, you see Gitlin's first example of Trump's alleged incoherence. Italicization by Gitlin:
SCHERER: So you don’t feel like Comey’s testimony in any way takes away from the credibility of the tweets you put out, even with the quotes?

TRUMP: No, I have, look. I have articles saying it happened. But you have to take a look at what they, they just went out at a news conference.
There you see the professor's full example. And sure enough! From that sliver of text, it's hard to tell what Donald J. Trump was talking about in the italicized passage.

Below, you see the fuller chunk from Time magazine's transcript (bold emphases by us; bracketed insertion by Time). Just like that, Trump's allegedly murky meaning becomes remarkably clear:
TRUMP: And today, [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Devin Nunes just had a news conference. Now probably got obliterated by what’s happened in London. But just had a news conference, and here it is one of those things. The other one, election, I said we are going to win, we won. And many other things. And I think this is going to be very interesting.

SCHERER: So you don’t feel like Comey’s testimony in any way takes away from the credibility of the tweets you put out, even with the quotes?

TRUMP: No, I have, look. I have articles saying it happened. But you have to take a look at what they, they just went out at a news conference. Devin Nunes had a news conference. I mean I don’t know, I was unable to see it, because I am at meetings, but they just had a news conference talking about surveillance.
We've asked our analysts, and several agree. It's possible that even Maddow herself wouldn't doctor a statement that badly!

(For the record, Time's printed text would probably be more clear with a stronger attempt at punctuation.)

Amazing, isn't it? The meaning of Trump's reference was made perfectly clear, right before and immediately after the sliver of text Gitlin offered. To help us gape at Trump's incoherence, Gitlin simply omitted the words which made his reference clear.

As presented, Trump's remarks are still choppy and grammatically imperfect. But that's routinely true of the extemporaneous speech of politicians and journalists—and there's no way to know how that transcript would look if it could be edited against the actual videotape.

The liberal world tends to run on fuel presented by major professors. For years, we've tried to tell you that you've been failed by these major professors.

Few professors have misbehaved as badly as Gitlin now has. That first example was an outright con. Similar nonsense followed.

Our culture suffers under the regime of these overpraised, overpaid professors. Our culture is being destroyed by the Trumps, but by the Gitlins as well.

The professor's typos: Many of Gitlin's examples gain by this type of editing. If an undergraduate performed such work, it would merit a failing grade.

Then too, we have the professor's typos. After his doctored examples are done, he launches into the passage shown below. We have inserted two [sic]s:
GITLIN: So it goes.

Now, TIME’s cover headline for this mishmash is pointed as well as clever: “Is Truth Dead?”—clever, at any rate, in the eyes of readers old enough to remember the 1966 prototype: “Is God Dead?” A still more pointed treatment is that of Ellie Shechet at Jezebel—a redaction, or what be [sic] called reporting by subtraction. In the words of headline [sic], “We Redacted Everything That’s Not a Verifiably True Statement From Trump’s Time Interview About Truth.” Unsurprisingly, Jezebel ended up having to edit the transcript so that the passages blacked out were lengthier than the words left in.
Everyone makes typos, of course. That said, Professor Gitlin's typos remain in print, at the Bill Moyers site and at the new Salon.

Given his doctored claims about Trump's vast incoherence, the professor's uncorrected bungles may carry a special weight.

Long ago and far away: In November 1999, Cal Thomas "quoted" Naomi Wolf in a similar way. In his nationally syndicated column, he removed all punctuation from one of her spoken remarks, inviting readers in hundreds of newspapers to marvel at her incoherence.

Wolf was being viciously, misogynistically slimed at the time, all across the American "press corps." We can't name a single professor who ever returned from the south of France to issue a word of complaint.

The sliming of Wolf sent Bush you-know-where. The sliming itself was an oozing disgrace. Did any professor complain?

A report about public school "segregation!"

TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2017

The way our team writes about race:
Within the American experience, race was invented a long time ago by people with a brutal agenda.

Today, no one has embraces the concept of race quite the way We do Over Here. We liberals love the idea that different kinds of people live in this country—that everybody has a "race," and that We get to say what it is.

Over Here in the liberal world, we tend to have a very hard time reasoning about this topic. Our brutal history may make this tendency understandable. It doesn't make it helpful.

To what extent does reason flee when we write about "race?" Consider the latest application of the concept of public school "segregation" as it appears in a lengthy report in the Baltimore Sun.

Long story short:

Liz Bowie and Erica Green have been writing a series for the Sun, Bridging the Divide. Bowie is a veteran education reporter for the Sun. Green, who had been at the Sun seven years, recently decamped to the New York Times.

The first report in the series appeared on March 19. Running some 5600 words, it dealt with a recent attempt to "redraw boundary lines for 11 schools in the Catonsville (Maryland) area...to relieve overcrowding."

These eleven schools are part of the Baltimore County Public Schools. (Baltimore County is a large suburban county encircling the bulk of Baltimore City.)

According to Bowie and Green, the redistricting provided an opportunity to achieve greater racial balance in some of the affected schools. But parent groups were unable to agree on any such plan. In the end, a modest plan emerged, with modest effects on the overcrowding.

To read the whole report, you can just click here. We'd have to say the report, which is very long, is rather poorly written.

Information about the eleven schools is scant. As best we can tell, only six of the schools are even named. Enrollment data are provided for only a few of the schools.

That said, we were struck by the report's familiar application of the concept of "segregation." The term appears throughout the report, though it's never precisely defined.

It's never entirely clear what Bowie and Green mean by that highly fraught term, which trails a great deal of ugly history behind it. But in the passage shown below, we learn an important fact about Baltimore County—and we see the term "segregation" being applied in a familiar, remarkable way:
BOWIE AND GREEN (3/19/17): Changing demographics

Parents were debating school boundary lines as the county population was not only growing, but becoming more diverse. Twenty-five years ago, Baltimore County was 77 percent white. Today it's 43 percent white.

Still, segregation persists. In 1990, only one in 10 county schools had a student body that was more than half minority. The proportion has tripled to about one in three today,
according to the Maryland Equity Project analysis.

The typical white student in Baltimore County attends a school that is mostly white. The typical black student attends a school that is mostly black.

Students from low-income families are similarly segregated from students from wealthy families.
For starters, note the significant change in Baltimore County's population. In 1992, the county was 77 percent white. Today, the white population stands at 43 percent.

(This seems to be the overall population. Numbers for the county's student population might have been more relevant.)

Presumably, something like 43 percent of Baltimore County's students are white. "Still, segregation persists," the reporters murkily say, instantly firing our pseudo-liberal juices.

As they continue, they seem to suggest that a student is attending a "segregated" school if the school's student body is "more than half minority." Similar definitions of "segregation" have been floating around in liberal circles for some time, largely emerging from work at UCLA—work which Bowie and Green cite at one point.

Presumably, we all can see the oddness of this (apparent) definition. Please note:

If someone waved a magic wand and made all Baltimore County schools match the county-wide demographic, then every school in the whole school system would be "segregated" under this apparent definition.

Every school would have a student body which was 43 percent white! Every school would be "more than half minority"—and this seems to be the reporters' definition of public school "segregation."

You might note another oddness about that puzzling passage. Bowie and Green seem surprised by the fact that the number of schools which are more than half minority has increased over the years.

All things being equal, this was plainly likely to happen as the county's population becomes more heavily non-white. Their puzzlement seems to stem from their peculiar definition of "segregation."

Presumably, you're thinking this can't be right; that can't be what they meant. We'll only say that such peculiar definitions of "segregation" have been common in contemporary pseudo-liberal writing about this topic.

Fairly clearly, Bowie and Green lament the fact that the redistricting of the eleven schools didn't produce a greater degree of racial balance. We don't denigrate that sentiment in any way.

All things being equal, we like to see kids who have been told that they're black attending school with kids who have been that they're white. We'd also like to see the culture stop telling kids, at every turn, that they belong to, or "have," a "race."

Until that happens, all things being equal, we'd prefer to see student bodies that "look [as much] like America" as possible. That said, we're asking you to notice how often our reason flees the scene when we try to discuss so-called race.

This report's apparent definition of segregation produces a lot of tribal excitement among us pseudo-liberals. It also makes little sense.

Behavior like this, which is quite widespread, tends to make The Others believe that we're basically nuts Over Here. Is it clear that The Others are wrong in that belief?

It isn't clear at all.

One of the mostly white schools: As noted above, Bowie and Green provide enrollment data for only a couple of schools. In the passage below, they refer to one of the schools which was said to be "made up of predominantly white families" in this somewhat peculiar report:
BOWIE AND GREEN: On the south side of Route 40 in Catonsville were four aging, crowded schools made up of predominantly white families whose PTAs had come together for years to fight for renovations and more space.

These parents from Westchester, Hillcrest, Westowne and Catonsville elementaries had in many cases paid a premium for their houses so they could ensure that their children were in some of the best schools in the county.

[...]

The parents' worries were not baseless. The highest-performing schools are usually those with the wealthiest families. The percentage of Hillcrest fifth-graders who passed state standardized tests in 2016 in English and math was double that at Johnnycake. And the Hillcrest families were wealthier.

Parents at Westowne said in interviews that their school was a model for integration. About half of its students were black and Latino, and 46 percent qualified for a free or reduced-price meal. But when the idea of moving half of Westowne's students out was floated as an option, parents fought back.
Parents at Westowne said their school was a model for integration? This whole passage strikes us as strange.

Earlier in the report, Westowne was described as a school "made up of predominantly white families." In this (substantially) later passage, we seem to learn that "about half" the kids at the school are either black or Hispanic.

Despite this unchallenged claim, the reporters still float language suggesting that the school may not be "integrated." This sort of thing routinely occurs when we liberals try or pretend to talk about so-called race.

Overall, despite its length, this was a murky report. That said, its puzzling use of the concept of "segregation" is quite common in modern pseudo-liberal writing about the public schools.

Over here in our liberal tents, we have a very hard time with the concept of race. We tend to reason very poorly where our favorite topic is involved.

Our histrionics aren't real helpful. We'd say the opposite is true.

WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE: Those People are a lot like Us!

TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2017

Part 2—Clueless oh so clueless:
This Sunday morning, Sean Hannity was speaking well of us, the American people.

Hannity spoke with Ted Koppel on the CBS show, Sunday Morning. In this, their key exchange, Hannity said that we the people are "somewhat intelligent."

Koppel may not have been sure:
HANNITY (3/26/17): We have to give some credit to the American people, that they're somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show.

KOPPEL: Yeahhh.

HANNITY: You're not—you're cynical. Look at you!

KOPPEL: I am cynical, because I, you know—

HANNITY: You think we're bad for America? You think I'm bad for America?

KOPPEL: Yeah.

HANNITY: You do?

KOPPEL: In the long haul, I think you and all these opinion shows—

HANNITY: Really? That's sad, Ted. That's sad.

KOPPEL: No, you know why? Because you're very good at what you do, and because you have, you have attracted...You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.
Uh-oh! In that exchange, Koppel almost took a bit of a shot at Those People, the 63 million Trump voters! To watch that exchange, click here.

In a fairly sweeping statement, Koppel seemed to say that Hannity has attracted viewers who "are determined that ideology is more important than facts." We'd be slow to offer that assessment.

On the other hand, Koppel may have been sliming Us, the folk Over Here, as well! In that one highlighted statement, he said that Hannity is bad for America—Hannity "and all these opinion shows."

Apparently, those other opinion shows are bad for America too!

Was that a shot at liberal cable shows, and at Us, the people who watch them? We can't speak for Koppel, who we thought was a bit dismissive of Hannity's many viewers. That said:

In our view, we liberals are developing cognitive habits which begin to resemble the habits we've always mocked in Those People. In Sunday's New York Times, Masha Gessen wrote an op-ed piece which specifically warned about this developing liberal culture.

"Fraudulent news stories, which used to be largely a right-wing phenomenon, are becoming increasingly popular among those who oppose the president," Gessen, a native Russkie, opined. Gessen, a recent Maddow Show guest, then cited a type of "fraudulent story" which made us think of exciting work we've seen in recent weeks on that tribally pleasing program.

Are viewers of Sean Hannity's program "determined that ideology is more important than facts?" In our view, that judgment seems a bit harsh, but we're happy to say this:

We the people have never been major intellectual giants. In our view, even our major intellectual giants rarely turn out to be giants. But we the people very rarely qualify for that status.

When it comes to the substance of policy matter, we the people rarely know what we're talking about. Consider one recent example, involving an evergreen howler:

In January, the Kaiser Foundation released a survey examining Americans' views on foreign aid. For Kevin Drum's capsule, click here.

Puckishly, Kaiser had asked the question on which we the people always fail:

"Just your best guess, what percentage of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid?" We always get tripped up on that one!

According to Kaiser, the correct answer would have been this: "one percent or less of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid." We the people didn't come close!

Only three percent of respondents gave some version of that correct answer. Meanwhile, the average answer by us the people was a walloping 31 percent! Thirteen percent of respondents had enough sense to say that they just didn't know.

We the people had no clue about this fairly basic question. We were way off, about a topic which is frequently discussed as a way to show how clueless we American citizens are.

In this case, respondents were so massively misinformed that we can assume a basic point. It wasn't just Them who had no clue. Also lacking the first freaking clue clue were the brainiacs known as Us!

We cite this survey to illustrate a very important point. When it comes to basic policy questions, we the people rarely have the slightest idea what we're talking about.

Over Here in our liberal tents, observing this fact is a key part of our culture—but we're only allowed to observe this fact when discussing Those People, the putative dimwits Over There.

Within our self-impressed liberal culture, we like to pretend that we're very bright, unlike the rubes in the other camp. We're sorry, but that just isn't the case. Our liberal culture today brims with misstatements, gong-shows and groaners. We just aren't super-bright Over here.

Our groaners are often different from Theirs. But they're groaners all the same.

Our modern liberal culture swims in silly misstatements. Our favorite silly misstatements tend to involve matters of gender and race—but they're silly misstatements all the same, and we have about a million of them.

Everyone knows this but Us.

We the people, Us and Them, are not a race of giants. We rarely know what we're talking about, but good lord, how we do love to talk!

When Hannity spoke with Koppel this weekend, he went straight to the pundit corps' favorite play, in which multimillionaire music men (and politicians) tell us how sharp we are.

Simply put, we the people aren't especially sharp. We've always fallen for music men, all through our American history.

Hannity made a familiar old play. We thought Koppel was a bit cynical in what he said in reply. As we liberals tend to do, he seemed to make a sweeping statement about Those People, the Hannity viewers—and we thought his sweeping statement was a bit unkind.

Has Hannity attracted viewers "who are determined that ideology is more important than facts?" We wouldn't be inclined to say that. We would say this:

His viewers may often fail to see that they're getting conned on the facts. But we'd say the same is true Over Here, within our self-impressed liberal tribe. That said, we liberals have long tended to believe that We are smarter and better than Them.

We think that's a dangerous, self-defeating belief. Almost surely, it helps explain why so many of Those People ended up casting votes against our advice for his highness, Donald J. Trump, and his "terrific" plans.

Tomorrow: Our familiar contempt for Them

Preibus tells Wallace the answer is no!

MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017

Plainly, gorilla dust works:
Yesterday morning, on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Reince Priebus a question. Wallace seemed surprised by the initial answer:
WALLACE (3/26/17): Quick questions, quick answers. I promise, these are going to be very easy.

PRIEBUS: Sure.

WALLACE: Does the president accept the conclusion, from all sides, that President Obama did not wiretap Trump Tower during the campaign, and is he ready to apologize?

PRIEBUS: OK. Well, first of all—well, the answer is no.
Wallace seemed surprised. "No, and I don't accept it," Priebus quickly added.

Wallace seemed surprised. At this point, Priebus began to wander the countryside, offering the various redefinitions which are familiar to anyone who has watched Anderson Cooper pretend to debate Jeffrey Lord about this three-week-old, gong-show affair.

According to Priebus, when Trump said that "Obama" wiretapped Trump's phones, he really meant "the Obama administration." And when he said that Obama wiretapped Trump's phones, he really meant that someone had subjected someone to some sort of surveillance or something.

Eventually, the discussion ended up as shown below. By now, Wallace has completely rolled over and died in the face of the standard obfuscation:
PRIEBUS: The fact is, reports have come out, for many, many months now, that people on the Trump campaign transition team were surveillanced by potentially some intelligence group, whether they were inadvertently swept up, whether the names were unmasked. Chris, you don't know the full answer to that question, and I don't either.

WALLACE: That's a fine answer, but—

PRIEBUS: But if, but if the people in the Trump transition were unknowingly surveillanced and illegally unmasked on documents, which is what is being alleged out there, I think it's a big problem, and I think ultimately President Trump is going to be proven correct, that this wasn't—

WALLACE: OK, let me—

PRIEBUS: —this wasn't right.

WALLACE: Now, my second question...
To watch this entire Potemkin exchange, you can just click here.

In his first question, Wallace asked if Trump accepts the conclusion that Obama didn't wiretap Trump Tower during the campaign. Priebus said Trump doesn't accept that conclusion, because it is "being alleged out there" that people in the Trump transition were unknowingly surveillanced, perhaps inadvertently, and illegally unmasked on documents.

In short, Trump doesn't accept that Statement A was wrong because a different statement, Statement B, could possibly turn out to be right. Or not! We don't even know yet!

This was pure gorilla dust. Wallace just sputtered and watched.

"Is truth dead?" Time magazine asked. Wallace, a college classmate of ours, gave the world a partial answer as he rolled over and died.

STILL BREAKING: In search of The USA 9400!

MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017

Bernie schools Anderson Cooper:
Now that Ivankacare has crashed and burned, we thought we'd revisit a question we posed two week ago:

What explains the disappearance of the group known as The USA 9400? You saw health care discussed many times in the past few weeks. Did you see this important group mentioned even once?

For ourselves, we never saw the group explicitly cited. The closest we came involved Bernie Sanders' appearance with Anderson Cooper last Friday night.

Who are The USA 9400? They're the amazingly large number of dollars spent in this country, per person, on health care every year. Rather, in the recent year 2015, when the OECD's very strange, disappeared numbers looked, in part, like this:
Per capita spending, health care, 2015
United States: $9451
Canada: $4608
France: $4407
United Kingdom: $4003
In his new column today, Paul Krugman discusses the problem caused by the "high deductibles" sometimes found in Obamacare insurance policies. Obviously, the background to all such problems with our American health care is lodged in that remarkable spending figure for the United States.

For unknown reasons, it costs $9451 to provide health care to the average American. This is massively more than what it costs in comparable nations.

This explains why premiums and deductibles are so high—why it's so hard to provide universal coverage and care in this, our exceptional country. And yet, The USA 9400 are essentially never mentioned, even when the problems of health care and coverage are holding center stage.

Did you see The USA 9400 mentioned at all last week? Frank Richly, we did not! The closest we came involved that chat between Sanders and Cooper.

You can read the whole interview here. In answers to three of Cooper's six questions, Sanders cited the need to lower the bloated prices we pay for prescription drugs in this country. In response to Cooper's second question, he even offered this:
SANDERS (3/24/17): Anderson, I am talking to you tonight 50 miles away from the Canadian border. We can get there in an hour. They manage to provide health care for every man, woman, and child in their country at half the cost per person than we do.

The cost of prescription drugs in Canada significantly lower than it is in the United States. So the question is why are we not moving forward with a "Medicare for all," single-payer program guaranteeing health care to all people which will be much more cost effective than what we presently have?
On its own, a "Medicare for all," single-payer program wouldn't lower our health care spending to the level of Canada. But Sanders made an accurate statement about this remarkable state of affairs:

Canada provides health care for every man, woman, and child in their country at (slightly less than) half the cost per person than we do.

Sanders said it; Cooper heard it. The transmission ended right there. Here's our guarantee to you, the misused American citizen:

You will never see Anderson Cooper do an actual "news report" in which he dumps his cast-of-thousands panel and simply informs his viewers about the apparently crazy level of American health care spending.

You will never see Cooper present the numbers we have presented above. You'll never see him ask actual experts—not Jeffrey Lord!—to explain the craziness of those numbers, the craziness of that U.S. figure as compared to all the others in the developed world.

You'll never see Cooper do that! You will see him pretend to debate Lord night after night. But you'll never see Cooper tell Lord to scram so he can discuss those remarkable numbers.

You'll never see Cooper do that! And not only that:

You will never see Rachel Maddow present those remarkable data. You'll see her mug and clown and embellish and entertain, night after night after night.

But you'll never see her present those astonishing figures! The USA 9400 are among the missing, the disappeared, on her entertaining, corporate-fueled TV show.

Why don't you ever see those data on these cable "news" shows? We can't answer that question, but we can tell you this:

You haven't seen The USA 9400 in the New York Times either!

Two Sundays ago, you did see Anu Partanen, a Finnish journalist, write a long essay about the wonders of Finnish health care. (Plainly, the Finns are among the world's leaders in relentless self-affirmation.) Along the way, in paragraph 16, you even saw her write this:
PARTANEN (3/19/17): Overall, Americans spend far more of their hard-earned money on health care than citizens of any other country, by a very wide margin. This means that it is in fact Americans who are getting a raw deal. Americans pay much more than people in other countries but do not get significantly better results.
If you read all the way to graf 16, you got to read that sentence. Even then, you see the actual numbers, which would have looked like this:
Per capita spending, health care, 2015
United States: $9451
Finland: $3984
Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! Subtracting, that's almost 5500 missing dollars per person per year! No wonder insurance is dear!

In those numbers, you see the basic mystery of American health care. But, for reasons we can't explain, you will never see such numbers in the New York Times—and certainly not on the paper's front page, where those remarkable numbers belong.

Why won't Rachel tell you these things? We can't answer that.

That said, she's being paid maybe $10 million per year. (You aren't encouraged to know that.) Evidence suggest that corporate groups maybe don't, for whatever reason, want you to worry your little heads about The USA 9400, an important disappeared group.

No one can solve our health care problem! Also, no one is permitted to tell you about that important group!

Final point: Chomsky had a term for this. It was called "manufactured consent."

For that reason, he was disappeared! Do you ever hear him mentioned by your favorite entertainers?

WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE: And who are We?

MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017

Part 1—The road to a recent disaster:
A funny thing happened to liberal greatness on the way to November's election.

Sixty-three million American citizens decided to vote for Donald F. Trump. As a result, the hopeful pulled an inside straight and ended up in the White House.

Embarrassing! Four nights before Election Day, Professor Wang had told Lawrence O'Donnell that it couldn't possibly happen. Only a "giant weather event" could send Donald J. Trump to the White House, the hapless Princeton professor said.

No such weather event took place, but Trump end up in the White House. Ever since Election Day, liberal and mainstream elites have pretended to examine why Those People, the 63 million, decided to vote for Trump.

Except to people as clueless as Us, November's outcome really shouldn't have been all that startling. Because we're almost completely clueless, We were shocked by Trump's win, basically out of our socks.

Ever since that startling day, we've been trying to explain the behavior of those Trump voters. Being perhaps a bit tribally scripted, we've tended to explain their behavior in the way the editorial board of the Washington Post has now done.

On the whole, yesterday's editorial was informative and sensible; the piece is well worth reading. That said, the editors apparently felt obliged to start their effort like this:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (3/25/17): It is a political cliche that President Trump owes his electoral victory to the extraordinary support he received from white voters without a college degree, two-thirds of whom voted for the Republican. Much less settled is the question of why these largely low-income voters, once reliable Democrats, cast their lot with a brash billionaire from New York.

The precise source of the discontent that produced this outburst of reactionary populism is hotly debated; some of Mr. Trump’s support reflects motives, such as xenophobia or racism, that can be neither comprehended nor respected...
We invite you to note two basic points. Let's start with this:

Last November, Candidate Trump received support from tens of millions of "white voters without a college degree." Despite this fact, the editors seem to be seeking "the precise source of the discontent" that produced these tens of millions of votes.

The precise source—singular. That seems to suggest that there is some single explanation for those tens of millions of votes.

Expressed in a less flattering way, that seems to suggest that the editors think what tribal elites have always thought. That almost seems to suggest that the editors think Those People are all alike.

Presumably, that isn't what the editors would say they think. For whatever reason, it is what the editors said.

Second point:

After setting out in search of the source of all those votes, the editors end up discussing various possible sources of those votes. (Various sources—plural). But uh-oh:

As the editors start their search, they feel obliged to say this:

"Some of Mr. Trump’s support reflects motives, such as xenophobia or racism, that can be neither comprehended nor respected."

Among the various high-minded groups who constitute Us, the group Over Here, it's almost required by Hard Tribal Law. If you plan to discuss Trump voters, you're required to start with a murky statement about their bigotry, xenophobia, racism and all-around horrible motives.

People as fine as Us, the group Over Here, can't even comprehend such motives, we may feel inclined to say.

Please note: the editors make no attempt to say how many of those millions of voters are racists. In a similar way, Candidate Trump made no attempt, in his formal announcement speech, to say how many unauthorized Mexican immigrants are actually rapists.

A certain type of personality tends to slime large groups of people in such slithery ways. Donald J. Trump is one such person. Yesterday, so were the editors.

People as fine as Us can't even comprehend Trump voters' horrible motives! From that point on, the Post's editorial is informative and intelligent, indeed quite sympathetic.

That said: when you see Us, the good people Over Here, explaining those 63 million votes, you'll persistently see the two script points we've described.

You'll likely see a peculiar tic in which we evoke the peculiar idea that there is some single explanation for those millions of votes. Soon after, you'll see a punishing throw-away line about the racism, bigotry and xenophobia on display among Those People, the lesser breed Over There.

When you read that throw-away line, you're seeing tens of millions of people getting slimed by their betters. You're seeing them slimed in a suggestive rhetorical manner, a play straight outta Trump's remark about those Mexican rapists.

We make these observations for a particular reason. They lead us toward a brutal irony from last year's campaign:

From the liberal perspective, Donald J. Trump was the most god-awful candidate ever nominated for president. In a wide array of ways, his performance as a candidate was in fact utterly clownish.

In the realm of health care alone, the statements of Candidate Trump were the statements of a clown. (He was going to give us "something terrific.") Over Here in our liberal tribe, we had a wide array of well-informed people who knew how to explain that.

And yet, destructive and sad! Over here in our liberal tribe, We can no longer get Those People to listen to anything much We say! Candidate Trump was a world-class clown, but the people Over There refused to listen to Us.

Who was the better candidate, Candidate Clinton or Candidate Trump? In the end, needless to say, that's always a matter of judgment.

That said, to most observers in our tents, Candidate Trump was the most god-awful candidate ever let loose on the land. This should possibly maybe perhaps leave us asking this question:

Why was it so hard for Us to convince The Others of that?

Why couldn't We, the liberal giants, convince a few more of the folk Over There? What produced the horrible breakdown which led to Trump's narrow win?

Intellectual giants that we are, why couldn't We persuade The Others? We'll explore that puzzle all week. This puzzle leads us to ask two questions:

Who are Those People, the ones Over There? At the same time, Who are We?

What are we like, Over Here?

Tomorrow: A sad fact about Them and Us