Concerning the health of Donald J. Trump!

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017

This discussion ain't going to happen:
What is the state of Donald J. Trump's mental health?

Is it possible that he suffers from some sort of early onset dementia? Is it possible that he is "mentally ill" in some way?

Despite an array of peculiar behaviors by the aforementioned President Trump, it seems fairly clear that this discussion isn't about to happen. We say that in spite of Lawrence O'Donnell's intriguing segment last night.

Should we have some such discussion? The New York Times has made a few feints in that direction, but Sunday's column by Professor Richard Friedman struck us as maybe, possibly and perhaps typical New York Times work.

According to the Times, Friedman is "a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College." He's a "contributing opinion writer" to boot.

In his somewhat frustrating piece, Professor Friedman asserted several somewhat contradictory points. The gentleman's nuance was running amok. Let's get started with this:
FRIEDMAN (2/19/17): [I]n 1973 the A.P.A. developed the Goldwater Rule. It says that psychiatrists can discuss mental health issues with the news media, but that it is unethical for them to diagnose mental illnesses in people they have not examined and whose consent they have not received.
It sounds like it would be unethical for a psychiatrist to tackle this type of topic. Hold on though! Not so fast, Friedman says:
FRIEDMAN (continuing directly): Contrary to what many believe, this rule does not mean that professionals must remain silent about public figures. In fact, the guidelines specifically state that mental health experts should share their knowledge to educate the public.

So while it would be unethical for a psychiatrist to say that President Trump has narcissistic personality disorder, he or she could discuss common narcissistic character traits, like grandiosity and intolerance of criticism, and how they might explain Mr. Trump’s behavior. In other words, psychiatrists can talk about the psychology and symptoms of narcissism in general, and the public is free to decide whether the information could apply to the individual.

This may seem like splitting hairs, but it isn’t. Diagnosis requires a thorough examination of a patient, a detailed history and all relevant clinical data—none of which can be gathered from afar. Narcissism, for instance, isn’t the only explanation for impulsive, inattentive and grandiose behavior. Someone could be suffering instead from another clinical problem like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; the abuse of drugs, alcohol or stimulants; or a variant of bipolar disorder, to name just a few.

This is all to say that when mental health professionals label public figures with mental illnesses, it is not just unethical—it’s intellectually suspect. We don’t have the requisite clinical data to know what we are talking about.
We'd hate to see the professor start "splitting hairs" if he feels this passage doesn't qualify as an example of same. And uh-oh! As several commenters noted, he said it's unethical and intellectually suspect to label public figures with mental illnesses, but then went on to say this:
FRIEDMAN (continuing directly): Besides, even if you posit that a president has a mental disorder, that in itself may say little about his fitness to serve. After all, Lincoln had severe depression. Theodore Roosevelt was probably bipolar. Ulysses S. Grant was an alcoholic. According to a study based on biographical data, 18 of America’s first 37 presidents met criteria suggesting they suffered from a psychiatric disorder during their lifetime: 24 percent from depression, 8 percent from anxiety, 8 percent from bipolar disorder and 8 percent from alcohol abuse or dependence. And 10 of those presidents showed signs of mental illness while they were in office.
Some commenters said he ended up diagnosing everyone but Trump!

Last evening, on The Last Word, Lawrence O'Donnell hosted two guests who seemed to reach different conclusions. One of Lawrence's guests said that "a thorough examination of a patient" ha been shown to be the least effective available way of reaching a diagnosis.

We'd love to show you what these guests said, but MSNBC hasn't come up with a transcript yet. Nor has it posted the videotape of this intriguing segment.

The Channel tends to function this way. So much for thoughtful discussion! Have we mentioned the fact that Donald J. Trump has the nuclear codes?

In our view, we've been well served, in the past fifty years, by the general rule which held that psychiatric analysis should be eliminated from political discussion. In view of Trump's many peculiar behaviors, including his strange intellectual conduct, it seems to us that it may be time a change, challenging though such a discussion would be.

The Time has responded to this concern with a somewhat puzzling essay. MSNBC can't seem to get around to posting its work at all.

In theory: In theory, our dear Watsons, the transcript will show up here.

HOW WE GOT HERE, CONTINUED: Fighting some truly heinous lies!

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2017

Part 3—Praising, ignoring some others:
We're so old that we can remember one of her most heinous lies.

The speaker was the first lady, Hillary Clinton. On June 10, 1999, she heinously made the remarks shown below while appearing on one of our national treasures, NBC's Today Show:
COURIC (6/10/99): Speaking of sports, how about those Knicks?

CLINTON: How about those Knicks?

COURIC: Did you watch last night?

CLINTON: I watched some last night. I got back from Binghamton, dropped by a party, and saw most of the third quarter out of the corner of my eye. And then had to go on to something else.

COURIC: Are you a big Knicks fan? Are you rooting for them to—

CLINTON: I'm becoming a big Knicks fan.

COURIC: More and more every day, huh?

CLINTON: Well, I've always been a Patrick Ewing fan. Because, you know, he went to Georgetown, and he's somebody that we have followed in our household. And I've just always admired his just determination and his, you know, absolute commitment. And this may be the year.

COURIC: Meanwhile, I know the New York Yankees are heading to the White House today to be honored for winning the World Series. Are you a Yankees fan, too?

CLINTON: Well, now, the fact is, I've always been a Yankees fan.

COURIC: I thought you were a Cubs fan.

CLINTON: I am. I am a Cubs fan. But I needed an American League team. Because when you're from Chicago, you cannot root for both the Cubs and the Sox. I mean, that's—you know, there's a dividing line that you can't cross there. So as a young girl I became very interested and enamored of the Yankees. So I'm excited about this afternoon. We're going to have them all there at the White House.
Just for the record, no one was really "speaking of sports" when Couric turned the discussion to the Knicks and the Yankees. Couric, who is a national treasure, may have been on a bit of an expedition, of a familiar type.

That said, Katie Couric, a national treasure, soon caught a very big fish. Instantly, the first lady started lying about childhood allegiances:

She impossibly claimed that she, as a child, had loved both the Cubs and the Yanks! Because she was running for office in New York, this was quickly declared to be a ridiculous, obvious lie.

This became one of Hillary Clinton's most famous and troubling lies. In the next few days, the pundit corps landed, as a group, on the first lady's back.

To watch a few of the chimps in action, you can just click this. Eight years later, these high-status chimps were still flogging this troubling lie!

It isn't clear why the conduct you'll see doesn't confer some type of "enemy" status, "of the people"-wise, on this poo-flinging barrel of chimps. But that pitiful piece of videotape does show us the culture they'd chosen.

We say that because, despite what the poo-flinging chimps all screeched, it doesn't seem that Hillary Clinton really was lying that day. She had discussed this pointless matter years before, as had several of her childhood friends. The evidence seems to establish the fact that she actually did follow the Cubs and the Yankees! Knew all about M and M!

Back in 1999, the chimps all branded her claim a lie because it fit a powerful narrative to which they'd all committed. Seventeen years later, that narrative sent Donald J. Trump to the White House, with very few regrets expressed from the planet of the scripted.

Is Hillary Clinton a liar? By June 1999, the chimps were already deeply committed to pushing that story-line about both Clintons and about Candidate Gore. Six days after the first lady told her lie, this headline appeared above an editorial in the New York Post:

"AL GORE, LIAR"

By now, the press corps was busy inventing "lies" by Candidate Gore. To the chimps, these invented lies proved that Gore was a liar.

AL GORE, LIAR! This narrative was seamlessly transferred from President Clinton to Candidate Gore, his chosen successor, and to Clinton's wife. The New York Post was a conservative paper, but the theme was being pushed very hard by the biggest stars of the mainstream press corps.

(Gore was done in by mainstream news orgs, not by conservative noise.)

Four years after Hillary Clinton's lie, another famous Washington figure made a set of statements. The speaker was General Colin Powell. He spoke at the United Nations on February 5, 2003.

On that famous occasion, Powell unloaded a giant pile of highly amorphous crap. In a subsequent book, as famous a figure as Bob Woodward even suggested, rather strongly, that the general's underwhelming claims had been—what's the word?—made up!

That said, Powell's presentation ended any last lingering doubts that we were on our way to Iraq. Because the speaker was General Powell, the chimps all knew he was truthful.

The people who stampeded to denounce Clinton's lie rushed to affirm the plain correctness of what the general had said. "I'm persuaded," said Mary McGrory. But so did everyone else.

Consider a third example. On June 16, 2015, Donald J. Trump announced that he was running for president. By now, he'd spent four years delivering the absurd, perhaps ugly misstatements which had established him as king of the nation's birthers.

Given their manifest love of the truth, did the chimps all land on Donald Trump's back? Actually no, they didn't.

In fairness, he was actually asked about his birther claims in a handful of early interviews. He said he no longer discussed that subject, and the chimps all wandered away.

A different set of frameworks obtained with respect to Trump's groaning misstatements. Indeed, the night before the hopeful announced, star corporate liberal Rachel A. Maddow even offered these remarks:
MADDOW (6/15/15): And here, we get to the limits of my abilities as a person who has a job like this, because it is not at all that I dislike Mr. Trump and, therefore, don't see the appeal because I don't share the affection for him that his supporters have. It's nothing like that. It's not qualitative at all.
It wasn't at all that she disliked Trump. It was nothing like that, the corporate star said. It wasn't qualitative at all!

Tomorrow, we'll mention another famous possible lie which swirled around Hillary Clinton. This famous possible lie was told by one of her Democratic opponents during Campaign 2008.

This famous possible lie may help us see the role we liberals have played in the election of Donald J. Trump. It may help us consider the way we liberals—but especially our hideous gruesome elites—helped send Trump to the White House.

For today, we'll only suggest that you remember the role of the mainstream press and pundit corps in this collection of low-IQ scams, which have now led to a dangerous end. We'll suggest that you consider the role of liberals within that guild. The role played by career corporate liberals in the way we got here.

In recent weeks, it's been common to see non-aligned voters saying they voted for Candidate Trump because they hated Candidate Clinton's lies. Just last week, we posted published remarks from two such voters, each of whom now regrets the vote she cast.

This phenomenon says something bad about Us. Let's run through the logic again:

In theory, it ought to be hard to lose an election to Candidate Trump because voters thought your candidate was somehow perceived as the big honking liar.

It ought to be extremely hard to accomplish that task. But we liberals have managed to do it.

More on our brilliance to come.

Tomorrow: Decades of silence, now this

The things we liberals don't get to hear!

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Last night's Maddow Show:
Last night's Rachel Maddow Show opened with a 21-minute segment concerning all things Ukrainian.

Maddow discussed Monday's front-page report in the New York Times. According to the Times report, Donald J. Trump's personal lawyer delivered a Ukrainian pol's proposed peace plan to Michael Flynn in the days before Flynn was told to spend more time with his family.

Maddow also discussed a Ukrainian oligarchic who will, as of today, be extradited by Austria to the United States. When he gets here, he'll stand trial for bribery.

That front-page report in the New York Times produced a lot of discussion. That said, both parts of Maddow's opening segment showed the way the corporate icon picks and chooses among the things we rubes are permitted to hear.

Let's start with that Ukrainian pol's proposal for peace between Ukraine and Russia. According to the Times report, the Ukrainian gave the plan to Trump's lawyer in late January.

(The Times had interviewed Trump's lawyer, the abrasive Michael D. Cohen. They had also interviewed the Ukrainian pol, the ambitious Andrii Artemenko. The Times hasn't actually seen Artemenko's proposal. The Times based its description of the plan on what Artemenko told them.)

According to the Times report, Cohen received the plan in a sealed envelope. "Cohen said he would deliver the plan to the White House," the Times reported. "When Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in early February, he said, he left the proposal in Mr. Flynn’s office."

On its face, this behavior is slightly strange, especially since the Ukrainian pol is pro-Russian/pro-Putin. According to the Times, the proposed peace plan carried one additional hook:

If the plan ever managed to produce peace between Russia and Ukraine, this would give Donald J. Trump a way to drop sanctions against Russia for Russia's behavior there.

So far, so good! It was when Maddow began describing the terms of this proposed plan that she put a gaggle of thumbs on the scale, along with a bag of elbows.

According to the Times report, Artemenko says he has evidence of corruption which "could help oust" the current Ukrainian president, who isn't pro-Russian. Beyond that, this was the Times' description of the plan:
TWOHEY AND SHANE (2/20/17): Mr. Artemenko said he saw in Mr. Trump an opportunity to advocate a plan for peace in Ukraine—and help advance his own political career. Essentially, his plan would require the withdrawal of all Russian forces from eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian voters would decide in a referendum whether Crimea, the Ukrainian territory seized by Russia in 2014, would be leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years.
In a rather typical move, Maddow disappeared one part of that account, radically changed another. Here's the way she described the plan to us, the liberal rubes:
MADDOW (2/20/17): The plan had three parts.

Number one, they would oust the new president of the Ukraine,
the one who came in and replaced the pro-Putin kleptocratic dictator with the private zoo. So they'll get rid of the new guy who replaced the pro-Putin guy.

Number two, Russia would get to keep Crimea. Russia would get to keep the parts of Ukraine that they took when Russia invaded parts of Ukraine, just took over their territory and started calling it Russia. This new plan, part two of this new plan would legitimatize that. OK, those parts of Ukraine that you took, they are now Russia.

And then part three of the plan would be for the United States to drop our sanctions against Russia that we levied against them for invading Ukraine and taking over part of that country. So, obviously, this is a very fair deal, right? This is a great deal.

Putin gets what he wants in Ukraine. He gets to keep the parts of Ukraine that he took and we stop being mad at him about it. It's a great deal. It`s a win, win, win for Putin, Putin, Putin.
We'll start with a minor aside. Maddow never said that this proposal was being presented as a "peace plan"—as a way to resolve the ongoing state of semi-war between Russia and Ukraine.

We'll call that a minor aside. Now let's get to the meat of the mess:

Maddow never mentioned the fact that the proposed peace plan "would require the withdrawal of all Russian forces from eastern Ukraine." This part of the proposal was disappeared, airbrushed out of existence.

Beyond that, Maddow changed a proposed national referendum into a fait accompli. Comically, as Maddow made the following statement, the chyron below her was quoting what the Times had actually said!

We'd call this a glaring staff error:
WHAT MADDOW WAS SAYING: Russia would get to keep Crimea. Russia would get to keep the parts of Ukraine that they took when Russia invaded parts of Ukraine, just took over their territory and started calling it Russia. This new plan, part two of this new plan would legitimatize that. "OK, those parts of Ukraine that you took, they are now Russia."

WHAT THE CHYRON BENEATH HER SAID: "Ukrainian voters would decide in a referendum whether Crimea, the Ukrainian territory seized by Russia in 2014, would be leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years."
Those two things are not a great deal alike. The chyron was quoting what the Times really said. At the same time, Maddow was feeding us a fantasy version of same.

(You can see this comical blunder for yourselves. Click here for the full segment, then skip ahead to roughly 12:25.)

The analysts screamed when they saw that comical error. Earlier, though, they'd furrowed their brows over the extradition-from-Austria story.

Maddow framed the extradition story as a pre-attack on Attorney General Sessions. According to Maddow, the oligarch could possibly embarrass Paul Manafort in some way. For that reason, she suggested, Sessions would never agree to continue seeking his extradition.

Here's the problem:

Maddow never explained why the Austrians had been refusing to extradite the oligarch. To the analysts, this seemed like a rather basic omission. To show you what we mean, this was one of her rambling nugget presentations:
MADDOW: A federal grand jury in the United States had indicted the oligarch guy in conjunction with the giant, alleged bribery scheme involving a titanium deal in India. I don't know. They indicted him.

The FBI asked Austrian authorities to arrest him. Austrian authorities did. This guy is a big deal in Ukraine, right? Close to the Ukrainian dictator, three weeks after the dictator gets ousted, rich guy gets arrested in Austria. And then U.S. prosecutors went over to Austria basically to go and pick him up, to arrange for Austrian authorities to extradite him back to the United States so he can face charges on this giant bribery charge.

And the unexpected turn here, the wrench in the works, is that the Austrians who had him in custody, who had arrested him at our FBI's request, the Austrians said no. They would not let the extradition go ahead, at least not yet.

And so, OK, now this guy is like Paul Manafort's loose thread, still dangling out there, right? Paul Manafort lost his client dictator in Ukraine, the guy on the left, but the zillionaire oligarch, guy in the right, he's like in limbo.

It's interesting. They did arrest in Austria, but they don't have him in jail. They let him out on bond. He paid $174 million cash for his bond. Open checkbook, swivel wrist.

So, he's out on bond. He's not exactly free. I mean, Austria is not sending him back to the U.S. to face trial yet. But if he leaves Austria and goes to some other country, presumably the U.S. authorities would try to arrange to have him arrested in that other country and then put pressure on that other country to extradite him to the U.S. as well.

So he sort of can't really leave Austria. He's stuck.
Why had Austria refused to extradite Manafort's possible foil? Absent-mindedly, Maddow never said.

Maddow went on to suggest that Sessions will never pursue extradition because he's in the bag to Manafort and Trump. (The next court session was coming up today.) But she never said why the Austrians had been refusing extradition to begin with!

To the analysts, this seemed like a large omission. But as we calmly told the youngsters: Sometimes on the Maddow Show, if it weren't for all the disappeared facts, there would be no facts at all!

This morning, we fact-checked this point through the New York Times. According to this report from last April, extradition had been refused because an Austrian judge, rightly or wrongly, "sid[ed] with defense lawyers who said the American request was politically motivated."

In short, extradition had been refused because the judge, rightly or wrongly, found that the Obama administration was pursuing a political prosecution! The analysts no longer had to wonder why this part of the story had been disappeared.

When it comes to changing and disappearing facts, Maddow is about as reliable as one of Stalin's shutterbugs. By the way:

Sessions did pursue extradition today. Austria has now agreed to send the oligarch here. Sometimes, corporate cable partisan precogs just can't catch a break.

Also for your entertainment pleasure: If you watch that 21-minute tape, you'll also get to see plenty of weird grinning, along with all the fake chuckling and laughing, as the consultants ordered.

You'll also get to see Darling Rachel pretend that she doesn't recognize a photograph of a bidet. ("Is that even a toilet? I don't even know. I don't know." She loves to sell herself as the helpless naif.)

Right after that, you'll get to see her make a joke about The Art of the Deal. You'll get to hear one of her sycophants loudly laugh off-camera.

Late in the show, everybody got to see her mock flyover country. ("The town of Yakima is in a part of Washington state that might politely and honorably be described as nowhere. It's in between—it's in the middle there. It does— it sits in the shadow of Mt. Rainier.")

Truly, that was hilarious. Is Gail Collins writing her stuff?

Have wealth and fame been bad for Trump? You should try watching Maddow!

HOW WE GOT HERE, CONTINUED: Gene Lyons' words of concern!

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Part 2—And Maddow's "What, us worry?":
Way back in April 2015, Gene Lyons voiced a concern in his nationally syndicated column.

Campaign coverage had long since begun. It had started just in time to be inanely premature.

(As noted, we're talking about April 2015 [sic]. But also sick. And sad!)

On the Candidate Clinton beat, The New York Times had entered into a strange arrangement with conservative polemicist Peter Schweizer, author of the polemical new book-like object, Clinton Cash.

Thanks to its peculiar arrangement, the Times had already published one of the strangest "news reports" of the entire 2016 campaign. We refer to the famous newspaper's sprawling, 4400-word journalistic gong show about the scary uranium deal.

The Times had already published this mess. Seventeen months before anyone voted, Lyons expressed his concern right at the start of his column:
LYONS (4/29/15): As a professional matter, I've been halfway dreading Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy. The 2016 Democratic nomination appears to be hers for the asking. Democrats enjoy a strong Electoral College advantage. And yet it's hard to imagine how she can overcome the unrelenting hostility of the Washington media clique.
Lyons went on to describe the strangeness of the sprawling Times report about the scary uranium deal, and the strangeness of the paper's arrangement with Schweizer.

The Washington Post had entered a pact with Schweizer too, Lyons noted. But it was the Times which had run with that sprawling going-show report:
LYONS: Basically, we're in Ann Coulter country here. Schweizer's not a journalist, but a controversialist for right-wing "think tanks." A former consultant to Sarah Palin and a ghostwriter for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Glenn Beck, he makes his living vilifying Democrats. Media Matters has posted a long list of withdrawn or retracted stories under his byline.

Upon evaluating an earlier Schweizer book, reporters at the British Sunday Times found that "(f)acts that are checkable do not check out. Individuals credited for supplying information do not exist or cannot be tracked down. Requests to the author for help and clarification result in further confusion and contradiction."

The New York Times, in contrast, praised the fellow's "meticulous" reporting. All this in service of a front-page "blockbuster" by Jo Becker and Mike McIntire insinuating that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton sold out the national interest, helping a Russian company to buy uranium mines in Wyoming from a Canadian corporation in exchange for a few million dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation, the family's charitable enterprise.
To refresh yourself about the gonginess of the 4400-word Times report, we'll suggest you read Lyons' full column. For now, let's focus on the larger concern Lyons voiced this day.

At the time, it still seemed that Democrats possessed an Electoral College advantage in presidential politics. But uh-oh! After several decades on the Clinton beat, Lyons had voiced this concern:

"It's hard to imagine how [Candidate Clinton] can overcome the unrelenting hostility of the Washington media clique."

In the end, Candidate Clinton didn't overcome the various obstacles which lay between her and the White House. In part, she didn't overcome because she was a very poor candidate this time around—a much weaker performer than she had been in Campaign 2008.

That relatively weak performance hadn't happened yet. Lyons alleged a different obstacle—"the unrelenting hostility" of the upper-end mainstream press.

As a national journalist and an Arkansas resident, Lyons spoke from experience. During Bill Clinton's first term, he had done The Thing Which Must Never Be Done. A mainstream journalist himself, he had introduced the claim that the mainstream press corps was conducting a type of jihad against President Clinton.

He had introduced this forbidden thought in a lengthy essay in Harper's magazine, one of the nation's most respected publications. The ssay has been expanded into a book which carried a forbidden title:

"Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater"

Alas! As of 1995, rules for such conduct were clearly defined within the mainstream press corps. According to these familiar rules, conservatives were allowed to criticize, even to savage, the mainstream press corps. Indeed, this had been a basic part of conservative conduct since the Nixon years.

Mainstream and liberal journalists weren't allowed to issue equal-but-opposite claims. In accord with these widely-known rules, the Lyons book was widely ignored by mainstream news orgs, and by the toilet-trained liberal scribes who earned their livings within them.

Problems with the attacks on Bill Clinton went largely ignored within the mainstream press. Mainstreamers could barely bring themselves to critique the birther-style claims by major figures about the Clintons' many murders.

Starting in 1999, this fury was redirected at Candidate Gore, Bill Clinton's chosen successor. The code of silence still obtains. Plainly, this transferred mainstream enmity sent George W. Bush to the White House.

Your favorite money-grubbers won't tell you that to this day. But it's a blatantly obvious fact, except within their realm, which bears more than a hint of allegiance to certain types of "fake news."

Back to 2015! As Campaign 2016 started, would Candidate Clinton survive the enmity of the mainstream press corps? In April 2015, Lyons voiced his concern. The gonger about the uranium deal was reactivating the press corps' favorite old story—their story about the Clintons' character problems, which they'd also spotted in Gore.

As the New York Times pounded its tom-toms, Lyons voice his concern.

Candidate Clinton would go on to lose to Candidate Donald J. Trump. Six weeks after Lyons' column appeared, Trump announced his candidacy with that memorable speech about all the rapists and such.

Trump would go on to stage the craziest campaign in political history. Among his flaws, he displayed a capacity for groaning misstatement the likes of which American politics had never seen before.

Four years earlier, Trump had showcased this remarkable trait with the stupid, ugly campaign which made him King of the Birthers. Trump had disgraced himself in this manner for years.

Now it was time for him to announce. The night before the big day, Rachel Madow stopped her lunatic nightly pseudo-reports about upcoming Republican debates long enough to voice these immortal words:
MADDOW (6/15/15): In 2012, in the last presidential election cycle, he spent months implying he was going to run. He started giving speeches and doing interviews about his theory that President Obama was secretly foreign, that President Obama had a fake birth certificate and that actually meant that President Obama wasn't really president at all because he wasn't American.

It was a very weird way to fake-run for president, but Mr. Trump got tons of traction—months and months and months of press coverage for that in 2012. You remember when Mitt Romney and Ann Romney had to go do their Donald Trump event? You remember that, right? I mean, ultimately, Donald Trump did not run for president in 2012 either.

Then, in 2014, he said he was going to run for governor of New York. At the last minute, he decided he wouldn't run for governor of New York after all. Now, apparently, we are on the eve of him announcing whether or not he is going to run for president this time in 2016 as a Republican.

And here, we get to the limits of my abilities as a person who has a job like this, because it is not at all that I dislike Mr. Trump and, therefore, don't see the appeal because I don't share the affection for him that his supporters have. It's nothing like that. It's not qualitative at all.
It isn't that Maddow didn't know about the years of gruesome misconduct in which Trump had engaged. It's just that this didn't "at all" make her "dislike Mr. Trump" (childish language hers).

It was nothing like that, our own corporate cash cow said. "It's not qualitative at all!"

In these snapshots, we get a glimpse of where matters stood as this campaign began. The New York Times was issuing journalistic gong shows aimed at Candidate Clinton. In this way, the paper renewed a campaign about her alleged character problems—a war which which had been underway for more than twenty years.

On the other side, the craziest person who ever ran for president was about to announce, following four years of balls-out birtherism. After describing what Trump had done with two large handfuls of soft soap, Our Own Corporate-Selected Rhodes Scholar said this didn't make her dislike Mr. Trump at all!

Do you start to see a possible problem with the work of our liberal elites? Before you answer that question, let's remember this:

When the New York Times published its sprawling, gong-show report about the scary uranium seal, do you remember how it was treated by our fiery liberal elites?

On All In, Chris Hayes called it a "bombshell report." His guest, Michelle Goldberg, said the same thing. Could this possibly help explain how we managed to get here?

Could these behaviors explain how we got here? More on these problems to come.

Tomorrow: Let's get back to the "lies"

How could D.C. improve its schools?

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2017

The 9.1 percent lack of a solution:
Under the circumstances, the thing you need to know about Washington, D.C.'s schools appears on page 44, deep inside this new report by UCLA's Professor Orfield.

Under the circumstances, here's the thing you need to know:

The 2013-2014 school year is the most recent year the professor records. In that year, student enrollment in the D.C. schools, "traditional public" plus "public charter," stood at 9.1 percent white.

Only 9.1 percent of D.C. students were white. For that reason, there is no way to create a city full of "integrated" schools in D.C., at least not in any significant sense. And by the way:

If you tried to do some such thing, many of those white students would end up in private schools, especially given the high income levels of D.C.'s white student population. Almost surely, that overall 9.1 percent would soon be substantially lower.

We mention this after reading a new report at The Atlantic. The report was written by George Joseph, who graduated from college (Columbia) last June—in June 2016!

You read that right. Joseph may go on to have a superb journalistic career, but he's in his first year out of college, and it pretty much shows. Our view? When publications like The Atlantic assign people like Joseph to write major reports about low-income urban schools, they're displaying open contempt for the lives and the interests of black kids.

Joseph may well go on to be a brilliant journalist. To ponder his street-fighting background, you can just click here.

Today, he's less than one year out of college, and his Atlantic report appears beneath this headline:

"What Could Reverse D.C'.s Intense School Segregation?"

The answer to that question is "nothing," except in the narrow technical sense in which Professor Orfield, and his inexperienced Atlantic acolyte, tend to define the exciting term "segregation."

Below, you see a pointless nugget from Joseph. The researchers to whom he refers are Professor Orfield and his associate, Jongyeon Ee:
JOSEPH (2/19/17): The researchers found that D.C. charter schools, which serve over 40 percent of the city’s student population, are more segregated than D.C.’s other public schools. In 2012, over two-thirds of charter schools, Orfield and Ee note, were “apartheid schools” (defined as having less than 1 percent white enrollment), whereas only 50 percent of public schools had such completely segregated populations.
According to Orfield's definition, a school is "segregated" (in the sense referred to in that headline) if its student population is 0.8% white. It isn't "segregated" in that sense if its population is 1.2% white.

That's a distinction without any serious difference. The same is true of the distinction Joseph flogs in that passage, in which "only half" the city's traditional public schools are "apartheid schools" (exciting!), while two-thirds of the public charters can be so described.

As noted: if you waved a magic wand and created instant demographic balance, each D.C. school would be 9.1 percent white. Also as noted, that percentage would almost surely drop as some white parents sent their kids to private schools.

Also, within those demographically balanced schools, "tracking" procedures would tend to separate groups of students within each school. These are basic facts of life within American schooling today, especially in a city like D.C., where the white student population tends to come from highly affluent, highly-educated families in a small number of upper-end neighborhoods.

It's maddening to see kids straight out of college asked to play teacher with topics like this. Maddening too is the predictable work from Professor Orfield, a 75-year-old aging hippie who can't seem to quit his 60s-era conceptual framework.

Orfield is the reigning king of anti-"segregation" academic thinking. His latest report suggests, once again, that it's time for him to rethink or retire.

Forgive us for thinking, as he starts his report, that he plans to spend more time discussing himself than discussing the actual lives of black students. At any rate, his work hits rock bottom on page 37, where a bungled graphic ("Figure 3") is offered to reinforce the claims made in this passage:
ORFIELD AND EE (page 36): Right now the DC public schools have suffered greatly from misguided policy and from the departure of great numbers of students and families to charter schools of every shape and educational approach and every level of success and failure. Unfortunately, the charter schools have been even less effective in reflecting the city’s diversity than the regular public schools. They look more like the Washington of several decades in the past than the changing city of the present and future.

The racial achievement gap has been a goal of many of the reforms, but the gap remains massive. NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress, often known as the “nation’s report card”) scores show it has actually grown rather than declined as hoped (Figure 3). That could reflect the continuing loss of more successful black families to the suburbs and the affluence of many white families of DC school children. The only objective external assessment of test scores in DC is from the National Assessment of Educational Progress which shows in the following chart a significant recent increase in the scores of white students, irregular changes in the small Hispanic enrollment, and basically a flat line of achievement scores on reading for black students over an eight year period. With whites gaining and blacks stuck at a low level, the gap has actually widened. The chart shows a large racial gap that is still growing and relative stagnation of black and Latino students’ test scores.
Please note: Professor Orfield knows why the racial achievement gaps are so large in the D.C. schools. In large measure, it's because of the unusually high affluence of the district's white student population ("the affluence of many white families of DC school children").

That said, Figure 3 is bungled in so many ways that it defies comprehension. For unknown reasons, Professor Orfield has simply taken this bungled graphic from a bungled blog post by the Washington Post, a blog post which is now several years old.

Because the graphic is old, so are its data, which end in 2013. The graphic considers reading scores but skips math, presumably for the standard reason among those peddling gloom. (All over the country, score gains have been higher in math than in reading. If you want to peddle gloom, you tend to disappear math scores.)

Most strikingly, the bungled graphic compares apples to oranges in the case of D.C.'s black and Hispanic test scores. Rather, it compares apples-plus-oranges to oranges alone. (The 2005 scores represent all D.C. school kids. The 2013 scores only represent kids who have stayed in "traditional public" schools as kids who tend to be higher scoring have moved into charters.)

The graphic was bungled when the Post first presented it. It's still bungled today, when a professor who probably ought to hang them up inexplicably cut-and-pasted it for a major report.

(For what it's worth, D.C.'s black kids recorded substantial score gains in reading and math from 2005 to 2013, as long as you compare all the kids from 2005 with all the kids from 2013. Was that because of charters, or in spite of charters? We have no idea. Just for the record, why didn't "the researchers" construct their own graphics, instead of copying a graphic from an old Post blog? Go ahead—you tell us! Joseph didn't ask.)

This latest report by The Atlantic is straight outta The Karate Kid. A gee-whiz cub reporter straight out of college reports on a 75-year-old professor who ought to hang it up.

That said, this is typical of the way The Atlantic reports on low-income kids in urban schools. In doing so, the magazine seems to display contempt for the nation's black kids. Apparently, work like this is close enough for low-income public school work. After all, it makes us feel morally good!

All things being equal, we'd like to see kids going to school as part of student bodies which "look like America." A few weeks back, we journeyed to the annual school-wide spelling bee at one such neighborhood school in a North Carolina city where we know one scholar well.

It seems to us that the kids at her upbeat, (low-income) neighborhood school are getting a very good deal. That said, there is no way, in D.C., to replicate that happy school's happy student blend, which features kids who aren't speaking English yet along with professors' kids and kids from public housing.

Orfield keeps teaching liberals to use the most exciting possible language about urban schools, and to do nothing else. Given the student population of D.C., there is no way to create a bunch of schools which "look like America" or which are "integrated" in any hugely significant sense.

It's silly to pretend otherwise. It's silly, and it demonstrates contempt for actual kids.

How can D.C. improve its schools? Michelle Rhee never seem to have any ideas. Orfield doesn't seem to either.

On the brighter side, The Atlantic has a passel of kid reporters in tow. This is good for the bottom line. It's also an ongoing insult to the nation's urban black kids and their parents.

Joseph will be a great scribe some day. Today, he represents a way to save coin for the people who own him.

Final point: That graphic is astounding. Also, par for the course.

HOW WE GOT HERE, CONTINUED: Inventing a bigger liar than Trump!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2017

Part 1—The fruit of our own elites:
Will we liberals ever confront the various roles we ourselves played in sending Donald J. Trump to the White House?

Almost surely, we won't. Yesterday, in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof wrote the next chapter in our alternative undertaking, in which 1) we blame everything on The Others, and in which 2) we've finally decided to fight and fight hard, now that it's too late.

Exactly one day after Trump was sworn in, we staged our march on Washington! Yesterday, Kristof wrote the next chapter in this morally pleasing but embarrassing tale.

Pitiful headline included! Here's what our liberal elites are like:
KRISTOF (2/19/17): How Can We Get Rid of Trump?

We’re just a month into the Trump presidency, and already so many are wondering: How can we end it?

One poll from Public Policy Polling found that as many Americans—46 percent—favor impeachment of President Trump as oppose it. Ladbrokes, the betting website, offers even odds that Trump will resign or leave office through impeachment before his term ends.

Sky Bet, another site, is taking wagers on whether Trump will be out of office by July.
"How Can We Get Rid of Trump!" There's only one word for that:

Sad.

As he continued, Kristof examined the various ways Donald J. Trump could be removed from office now that our team is upset. "Let’s investigate." he thoughtfully wrote. "Is there any way out?"

At the end of his piece, Kristof reported his fearless conclusion. Our analysts tore their hair as they surveyed his fatuous work.

What word comes after "sad?" one of the youngsters asked:
KRISTOF: If I were betting, I’d say we’re stuck with Trump for four years. But as Sabato says: “Lots of things about Donald Trump’s election and early presidency have been shocking. Why should it stop now?”

And what does it say about a presidency that, just one month into it, we’re already discussing whether it can be ended early?
What does it say about Trump's presidency that we're having this discussion? In our view, we liberals should ask a more pertinent question:

What does it say about Us?

We liberals! With spectacular ineptitude, we showed up at the scene of the fire just in time to be too late to put it out. Yesterday, Kristof's column continued this embarrassing show, which just keeps rolling along.

In this morning's Washington Post, Kavin and Costa present the latest report about our new liberal activism. The scribes report from a New Jersey town hall, where angry liberals hectored a new Democratic House member over his refusal to fight hard enough in the crucial past several weeks.

As quoted, several of these fiery activists described their own absence from the scene over the past many years. To cite one example, a retired surgeon who carried "an 8-by-10-inch sign reading 'Resist' said he was politically active in the 1970s but did not feel the need to become so again until the Women’s March."

After an absence of forty years, the surgeon had arrived on the scene again. He had arrived just in time to be dangerously too late.

In fairness, it isn't the fault of the rank and file that we helped send Trump to the White House. To a massively greater extent, it's the fault of our liberal leadership groups, whose pitiful conduct we will sample during the course of the week.

Our cable hosts, our star liberal columnists? Our legions of silent and hapless professors? Our black assistant professors?

Where do we start with a gong-show like this? The choices are many, and hard.

That said, how absurd is the situation our leadership groups helped create? Once again, let's consider one of the ways Candidate Trump managed to draw an inside straight and find his way to the White House.

We turn to this news report from last Thursday's New York Times. In her report, Katie Rogers spoke with Trump voters who have tweeted regret for their votes.

Debbie Nelson is one such voter. What happened isn't Nelson's fault, but we'll highlight one key part of what she said:
ROGERS (2/17/17): Debbie Nelson, a secretary who lives in Orland Park, Ill., and works in downtown Chicago, said in an interview that she never liked Mr. Trump, but ended up voting for him because she was worried jobs like hers were being outsourced. She also didn't trust Mrs. Clinton.

Ms. Nelson reluctantly voted for Mr. Trump—''because of Hillary's lies''—but grew disillusioned with Mr. Trump's behavior, which she thought would change after the election. On Feb. 6, she added her message for the president to the fray: ''We need a mature adult as president. Can I take my vote back?'' (For Ms. Nelson, the tipping point was seeing Mr. Trump dismiss news and negative polls as fake that day.)

Mr. Trump entered the White House with a historically low approval rating, but Ms. Nelson is among the voters who approve of his overall policies, especially when it comes to immigration. ''I do want better security and I don't think there is anything wrong with that,'' she said.

But she was frustrated with the slapdash nature of Mr. Trump's executive order to restrict refugees and people from several primarily Muslim countries.
Just for the record, it is too late for Nelson to take back her vote. That said, as we did last week with another voter, we note a key part of her thinking last fall:

Debbie Nelson voted for Trump because of Clinton's lies!

At least in theory, it's very, very, very hard to lose an election this way. It's hard to lose to a constant, disordered dissembler like Trump because, in the minds of many voters, your candidate was the one who spilled with troubling lies.

That said, this is one of the obvious ways we managed to lose to Candidate Trump. We ran against the greatest dissembler in American political history—and somehow, our candidate was widely perceived as the one with the troubling lies!

It's actually hard to lose that way; not every group could have done it! But over here in our liberal tents, our leadership groups have stumbled, bumbled and clowned for decades, bringing this gong-show to pass!

Yesterday, Kristof flashed a shiny object. Tomorrow, we'll start to examine the ongoing, world-class gong-show performance of our liberal leadership groups.

Tomorrow: Where to begin?