BREAKING: Lawrence would have called it a lie!

TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2018

Except it was Lawrence who said it:
Lawrence would have called it a lie—except it was Lawrence who said it!

We refer to something Lawrence said during last evening's Last Word. During his opening monologue, he described what the FBI's now-famous informant did:
LAWRENCE (5/21/18): Now understand, Rod Rosenstein is in a position to already know whether anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign. He already knows that that did not happen.

Rod Rosenstein certainly already knows what has been publicly reported, that someone in England had a couple of conversations with a couple of people who were affiliated with the Trump campaign and that source, in England, told the FBI about those conversations. That is not "infiltrated" or "surveilled," as Donald Trump put it.

So Rod Rosenstein already knows that no one is going to find that the FBI infiltrated or surveilled the Trump campaign for political purposes, as the Trump tweet put it. Rod Rosenstein knows that there was an investigation of Russian interference in the presidential campaign and possible Russian influence and assistance to the Trump campaign, and that that investigation was not conducted for political purposes but for national security purposes.
In that way, Lawrence described what the FBI's now-famous informant did.

He also told us what the informant didn't do. The informant didn't "infiltrate" or "surveil" the Trump campaign!

As we watched the fiery gentleman do this, an irony leaped to mind. Given his fiery hatred of disinformation, Lawrence would have called that presentation a lie if one of The Others had said it!

Why do we say that? Here's why:

Like everyone else on MSNBC, Lawrence was extremely selective last night in what he was willing to tell us.

Basically, everything he said was accurate. It's true! "Someone in England" did in fact "have a couple of conversations with a couple of people who were affiliated with the Trump campaign." And that source did "tell the FBI about those conversations."

Some of those conversations actually took place in Virginia, but we'll call that close enough for cable news work. What Lawrence said was basically true—but down below, you see the part of "what has been publicly reported" that he chose to leave out.

Lawrence was rather selective last night. Indeed, three days after the New York Times reported these slightly peculiar facts, no one on MSNBC seemed willing to mention them last night:
GOLDMAN, MAZZETTI AND ROSENBERG (5/19/18): F.B.I. agents were seeking more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails, and one month after their Russia investigation began, Mr. Papadopoulos received a curious message. The [informant] inquired about his interest in writing a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a subject of Mr. Papadopoulos’ expertise.

The informant offered a $3,000 honorarium for the paper and a paid trip to London, where the two could meet and discuss the research project.

[...]

Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the [informant] and one of his assistants, a young woman.
How weird! Three days after it was "publicly reported," Lawrence left that out.

In fact, "someone in England" didn't merely "have a couple of conversations with a couple of people." In fact, that person in England paid Papadopoulos $3000 on a phony pretext, inducing him to fly across the Atlantic Ocean so those conversations could occur.

This is the part of the story which will perhaps seem a bit strange within the context of a presidential campaign. It's the part of the story which could almost make it seem that the Trump campaign really was "infiltrated" or "surveilled" by the FBI.

Almost surely for that reason, this is the part of the story you didn't hear on MSNBC last night. Hour after hour passed, and no one told you that the informant did those things—not even on the Maddow Show, where public readings of Times reports are now a popular favorite.

In the end, of course, it doesn't principally matter what you decide to call the FBI's conduct. It doesn't necessarily matter whether you call it "infiltration" or "surveillance"—but it does matter that basic facts don't get disappeared.

On MSNBC last night, Lawrence and a cast of thousands disappeared a basic chunk of this story. You weren't allowed to know what the informant actually did. More frequently, you were told what he didn't do.

Make no mistake—everybody seemed to be playing this game on The One True Liberal Channel. We saw no one mention the $3000 and the plane ride to London, offered on a phony pretext.

Those basic facts were nowhere to be heard. But people were offering disclaimers like this, courtesy of Brian:
WILLIAMS (5/21/18): So Julia, this is a crisis independent of the known facts. There was no one with a stick-on mustache sitting in the back of the press corps covering the Trump administration as a paid federal government spy.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh boy, that was good!

Speaking in defense of "the known facts," Brian told us what didn't happen. No one wore a stick-on mustache! So true!

That said, neither Brian, nor any one of his three pundit guests, told his viewers what did happen—that a government informant paid a Trump aide $3000 on a phony pretext to lure him across the Atlantic for talks.

Should the FBI have done that? As we noted yesterday, we don't have any experience or expertise in this area. But within the context of a presidential campaign, it strikes us as a slightly odd thing to have done.

That's why you weren't told that it happened. Given his loathing of disinformation, Lawrence would have loudly called it a lie—except that it was Lawrence himself who was misleading you last night.

This is classic propaganda. It's also the way Fox works.

The horse he rode out on: For Brian, this is the flip side of the horse he rode out on. Back in the day, he made up all sorts of phony stories about heroic things he had done.

(This was after he spent months trashing Candidate Gore for his disturbing wardrobe, what with the polo shirts that didn't look right and the three-button sweaters [sic], with plenty of psychiatric discussions about what was wrong with Gore. This was in the Jack Welch era, so Brian got Brokaw's job.)

Later, it turned out that Brian had done heroic things—things which hadn't happened! He got canned from Nightly News on that basis. Last night, on the flip side of the horse he rode out on, Brian was at it again!

GAPS AND MAN AT YALE: Desegregation in Hartford's schools!

TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2018

Part 2—Tribal happy talk:
Should mainstream news orgs—news orgs like Slate—cover reports of microaggressions at Yale?

Presumably yes, they should. We'd also say that news orgs like Slate perhaps shouldn't overdo it.

As everyone knows, every time a Yale graduate student is asked to produce her ID card, the American people are just a bit less free. On our own first weekend in college, we were asked by a campus policeman to go inside our own dorm room and come out with our college ID, so we're especially aware of the severity of this type of problem.

We may flesh out that experience before the week is done. At any rate, thismuch is plainly true:

When young people go to Yale, they shouldn't feel that they're being harassed on the basis of race. Presumably, news orgs like Slate might want to report on perceptions to the contrary.

That said, we liberals! We seem much more interested in highly privileged students at Yale than in the low-income first graders living nearby in New Haven. We dote on the experiences of the one group, tend to throw the other group under the big yellow bus.

And not only that! Even when we deign to speak to the issues affecting low-income students, we may tend to remain rather firmly within our own preferred tribal frameworks. Consider the report on "desegregation" which appeared in last Friday's New York Times.

Sharon Otterman's news report dealt with a perfectly newsworthy topic—"a lawsuit [filed] against the State of New Jersey on Thursday, calling on it to desegregate its schools statewide." The suit has been brought by "the Latino Action Network, together with about a dozen other plaintiffs," Otterman wrote.

Does the state of New Jersey currently have "segregated" schools? It certainly has a lot of schools which are racially imbalanced! In the passages shown below, Otterman laid out some basic facts:
OTTERMAN (5/18/18): The lawsuit cites statistics to show that without legal action, segregation has only deepened. The number of New Jersey public school students who attend schools that are at least 99 percent nonwhite, for example, grew to 107,322 in the 2016-17 school year, from 93,614 in 2010-11.

[...]

Statewide, 46 percent of the 585,000 black and Latino public school students attend schools that are more than 90 percent nonwhite.
Of the 622,359 white students in New Jersey public schools, 43 percent attend schools that are at least 75 percent white.
Assuming the basic accuracy of those data, New Jersey's diversity seems to make it a candidate for court-facilitated attempts at greater "integration" within its public schools. When such facilitation goes well, it can, at least in theory, provide improved experiences for a state or community's public school students.

When such facilitation goes poorly, less valuable outcomes may occur.

Is there a legal basis for ordering "desegregation" of New Jersey's schools? We don't know, but we were struck by a classic upbeat reference to the magnificent desegregation which has been achieved in one of Connecticut's largest school systems.

Assaults on the dignity of Yale elites take place in New Haven. Not too many miles away, Hartford—the capital of the Nutmeg State and its largest city—operates the second or third largest school system in the state.

In most ways, Otterman's report on the New Jersey lawsuit was perfectly professional. That said, our incomparable gorge did threaten to rise when we read about the spectacular desegregation accomplished up north in Hartford:
OTTERMAN: New Jersey is rare among the states: Its courts have declared even de facto school segregation unconstitutional since the 1960s. Such segregation has persisted, and worsened, however, because “no one has done anything about it,” said Gary Stein, a former New Jersey Supreme Court justice on the court that ordered equal funding for the state's districts.

“Here in New Jersey, we have segregation that’s more intense than any state today in the South,” he said. “What we have got in New Jersey, frankly, is an embarrassment. We have segregation at a level that is just intolerable for a state like ours, and we have never addressed it.”

The lawsuit suggests several remedies, including the creation of magnet schools that draw from multiple towns and districts and tax incentives for municipalities to create more diverse schools. It points to an effort in Hartford, stemming from a 1996 desegregation lawsuit, that created clusters of magnet schools so attractive that suburban children are bused into inner-city Hartford to attend them.
Otterman was reporting the facts, just the facts—the facts about what the high-minded lawsuit alleged. That said, we'll have to admit—we were skeptical concerning the glories allegedly achieved in Hartford in the past 22 years.

When "desegregation" is capably handled, kids may tend to benefit from a better social experience in school. That said, how well do these procedures address the massive achievement gaps concerning which our Yale elites have so little to tell us, even in the useless decades following graduation?

Last Friday morning, we returned to our sprawling campus from a local Starbucks. Upon re-entry, we demanded a full review concerning the glories of Hartford.

Desegregation had been ordered in 1996. Suggestible readers of the Times were now being told that 22 years of desegregation had created schools so attractive that you couldn't keep the suburban kids away!

In response to our demand, the analysts scrambled to their research stations. Using the data from Professor Reardon's study, they hit us first with the demographics of the Hartford Public Schools:
Student population, Grades 3-8
Hartford, Conn. Public Schools

White kids: 9 percent
Black kids: 38 percent
Hispanic kids: 50 percent
Asian-American kids: 3 percent

Median family income: $27,000
"Finally!" we shouted, perhaps hysterically. "Finally! A student population which 'looks like America!' "

Timorously, another analyst asked permission to approach. Visibly shaking, he handed us the printout for the suburban West Hartford Public Schools, located just west of Hartford:
Student population, Grades 3-8
West Hartford, Conn. Public Schools

White kids: 62 percent
Black kids: 8 percent
Hispanic kids: 15 percent
Asian-American kids: 14 percent

Median family income: $100,000
All data come from Professor Reardon. For the record, the Hartford schools enroll about 21,000 students. The suburban West Hartford schools enroll roughly half that number.

Frankly, our eyes began to fill. We hadn't seen so much successful desegregation since the time of Louise Day Hicks! Needless to say, we felt fairly sure that, with all those suburban children being bused into Hartford to attend the city's attractive schools, Hartford had surely eliminated any achievement gaps too!

We barked an order at the analysts; they quickly delivered the goods. Twenty-two years later, here's the Arcadia which is found just up the road from New Haven:
Where the average student stood
Hartford Public Schools
Grades 3-8, reading and math

White kids: 0.8 years above grade level
Black kids: 1.6 years below grade level
Hispanic kids: 2.4 years below grade level
Sure enough! After 22 years of desegregation, the achievement gap barely exists in the Hartford Public Schools!

According to Reardon, the average white student in the Hartford schools is only 3.2 years ahead of the average Hispanic kid at the start of sixth grade! Given our liberal world's complete disinterest in the lives of our low-income kids, we're willing to call that even.

It's fairly clear that Hartford is a type of post-desegregation Eden. That said, fairness will make us report that the gaps get a bit larger is you factor in the West Hartford schools.

Using the graphics at the New York Times, we haven't been able to find a full demographic breakdown for the academic levels achieved in the West Hartford schools. That said, the Times graphics do tell us this:
Where the average student stood
West Hartford Public Schools
Grades 3-8, reading and math

All students: 1.5 years above grade level
Based on that overall number, we'll guess that the average white student in West Hartford is something like 2.0 years above grade level. That would create a 3.6 year achievement gap with the average black kid in Hartford—and a 4.4 year gap with the average Hispanic kid, presumably at or near the start of sixth grade!

Why do we offer these data? Let's return to the reading experience of the average New York Times reader.

Last Friday morning, that average reader received a standard plate of tribal gruel. He or she was told about the wonders of desegregation in Hartford. Continuing from the text shown above, Otterman offered this:
OTTERMAN (continuing directly): Children who attend integrated schools do better than those who remain in segregated schools, research shows. And while the benefits of desegregation are most profound for black and Latino low-income students, diversity also helps white students by exposing them to children of different socioeconomic backgrounds and broadening their perspectives.

“We think that white children who attend segregated white schools are disadvantaged,” Mr. Stein said.
None of that is necessarily untrue. Beyond that, nothing that has happened in Hartford negates the possibility that "desegregation" can help lower-achieving "minority" kids improve their academic performance in public schools.

The data from Hartford don't and can't settle outstanding questions about the possible academic value of "desegregation" plans. That said, that picture of all the suburban kids streaming into Hartford's attractive schools is a typical plate of tribal happy-talk. In these ways, we liberals are constantly fluffed about the lives of the low-income kids we plainly don't care much about.

Within our rather selective tribe, we do care about the graduate students found down the road in New Haven. Their bumps in the road are important to us.

By way of contrast, first-graders attending the state's public schools can pretty much go hang in the yard. We quit on those kids a long time ago. Few things could be more clear, though we do love our happy-talk.

We liberals! Routinely, we pleasure ourselves with feel-good descriptions about those kids and about the sources of their struggles. At present, we're easily pleased about low-income kids, bears about Eli elites.

Tomorrow: Campus policeman pulls gun!

BREAKING: Cable star bows low to the Times!

MONDAY, MAY 21, 2018

Ludicrous all the way down:
In this morning's Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan discusses the increasingly Trumpian conduct of a certain bombastic barrister who's often seen blustering on cable TV.

This barrister has always struck us as transparently unhealthy. We mentioned his resemblance to Trump last week. Others have been catching up.

(In this case, Sullivan discussed the barrister's bumptious threat to sue a bunch of news orgs. He's like Trump in a great many ways—though he doesn't play tic-tac-toe!)

Then too, there's the major cable news star who was repeatedly out to lunch last week. Consider the way she kissed the ascot of the New York Times on Wednesday night's program.

The star was discussing the newspaper's "big, long new report titled Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation." The report appeared on the front page of Thursday morning's editions.

First, the cable star offered an absurd assessment in which she claimed that the Times had apologized for an error it allegedly made late in the 2016 campaign. Concerning the alleged apology, here's what she excitedly said:
MADDOW (5/16/18): This is sort of an important moment for us as citizens who depend on journalism for an important check and window into the exercise of American power, right? This is this Titanic force in the world of journalism. For the New York Times to do this a year and a half down the road, to sort of come clean and at least explain what happened around that incredibly consequential, misleading article which may have helped sway the election, because of what turned out to be a pretty wildly inaccurate implication and headline about a presidential candidate, it's just a remarkable thing to see. This is a big moment in American journalism.
We're sorry, but that was pure nonsense.

For starters, the "apology" wasn't an apology at all. Beyond that, the remarks in question appeared in paragraphs 67 and 68 of the 77-paragraph report.

The comments in question were buried near the end of a 3900-word report. It was absurd to say that the remarks constituted an apology at all, let alone "an important moment for us as citizens...a remarkable thing to see...a big moment in American journalism."

The comments in question were no such thing, but so it goes when cable stars serve us nightly excitement. But just to show what toadyism really looks like, here's what the star said next—and no, we aren't making this up:
MADDOW (continuing directly): But because this is the New York Times, and you should never underestimate them even when they've screwed up, they also break a ton of news in this new story that also functions as an apology. We get, for example, in this new story tonight, the code word that was used inside the FBI to refer to the Trump Russia investigation. We've never had this before. Apparently, their code name for it was "Crossfire Hurricane."
Because the New York Times is great, it had broken a ton of news! The first example—and there were only two—was this:

The code word for the Trump-Russia probe was Crossfire Hurricane! We'd never had that before!

By the edicts of Hard Pundit Law, people like this major star are required to kiss the ascot of the Times. It's part of the deal—they must toady to industry and social power, even in ludicrous ways.

Two nights later, the cable star was worse. We refer to her ludicrous, 25-minute rumination on (who and what else?) Richard M. Nixon and Watergate.

Her upbeat assessment made little sense. In fact, it made no sense at all—but as a gesture of moral greatness, we've decided to let it go.

At any rate, Trump will go out just like Nixon did. "We are living history, you guys!" At the end of 25 minutes, that's what the major star said!

BREAKING: Three thousand dollars for your thoughts!

MONDAY, MAY 21, 2018

The discourse falls apart:
Should the FBI have sent [NAME WITHHELD] to lure George Papadopoulos into a conversation? Through the use of a pile of cash and an airplane ticket to London?

(To see the name of NAME WITHHELD, click to Kevin Drum. Or click to Ken Dilanian of NBC News.)

Should the FBI have told NAME WITHHELD to do that? We can't voice a useful opinion. Basically, we lack the requisite experience.

That said, the behavior does begin to strike us as strange within the context of a presidential election. Beyond that, the general topic seems to be introducing The Total Crazy into the public discourse.

Julie Hirschfeld Davis is one of the sane ones at the New York Times. That said, her front-page report on this topic today strikes us as borderline nuts.

It reads like the work of someone who's trying to trigger a civil war. Morning Joe sounded the same way on this same topic this morning.

In fact, Trump asked for an investigation of the so-called informant/spy/embed. Rod Rosenstein said that would be fine with him; the IG can do it, he said. It's hard to see what's scary, upsetting or wrong about that. What explains all the hysteria?

Meanwhile, we've been struck by an apparent general reluctance to describe what NAME WITHHELD actually did. For starters, here was Matt Miller last Thursday night, speaking with Chris Hayes:
HAYES (5/17/18): I want to talk about this quote about the government informant because that has been what the President is sort of building this on, what Trump T.V. have talked about:

"At least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said." That has become a politically contentious point of Mr. Trump's allies questioning whether the FBI was spying on the Trump Campaign or trying entrap campaign officials. What, how—what do you think?

MILLER: ...If there was an informant in the campaign who was talking to the FBI, it's because that informant presumably saw evidence of a crime and wanted to report it to law enforcement. You know, they're trying to twist that now and say that it's spying of some sort...
According to Miller, here's what happened:

If there really was an informant, it was because that person "saw evidence of a crime and wanted to report it to law enforcement."

But as the subsequent reporting has shown, that isn't what happened at all. Beneath a weirdly didactic headline, this is what the New york Times reported on Saturday morning:
GOLDMAN, MAZZETTI AND ROSENBERG (5/19/18):The informant is well known in Washington circles, having served in previous Republican administrations and as a source of information for the C.I.A. in past years, according to one person familiar with the source’s work.

F.B.I. agents were seeking more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails, and one month after their Russia investigation began, Mr. Papadopoulos received a curious message. The [informant] inquired about his interest in writing a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a subject of Mr. Papadopoulos’s expertise.

The informant offered a $3,000 honorarium for the paper and a paid trip to London, where the two could meet and discuss the research project.

[...]

Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the [informant] and one of his assistants, a young woman.
That isn't what Miller had imagined at all. In fact, the informant paid Papadopoulos $3000 to fly across the ocean to confer with him in London, pretending that he wanted him to write an academic paper.

Given the fact that a presidential campaign was involved, that strikes us as potentially shaky conduct. But however one may judge this behavior, it certainly isn't what Miller had imagined.

That said, so what? We've seen little attempt to describe this play, and some pundits on MSNBC continued to offer misleading, Miller-like accounts over the weekend. Meanwhile, Joy Reid kept telling us how dangerous it would be for anyone to name the informant, failing to say that her colleague Dilanian, and half the known world, had already done so.

(Dilanian employed some Times-like gorilla dust to seem to say that he wasn't naming the informant even as he did so. For background, see Drum)

More and more, day by day, our discourse seems to be moving toward a completely crazed two-tribe double muddle. Donald J. Trump is out of his head. Day by day, increasingly, we liberals may be too.

GAPS AND MAN AT YALE: The microaggressions of Ivy League life!

MONDAY, MAY 21, 2018

Part 1—As compared to the gaps of New Haven:
As far as we know, Andy Shallal had, and has, a perfectly decent idea.

Shallal is the founder of the Washington, D.C. restaurant-and-bookstore chain, Busboys and Poets, whose first location opened in 2005. Now there are six Busboys and Poets restaurants. Shallal has 600 employees.

Shallal's idea was to talk with his employees about race. In yesterday's Washington Post, Abha Bhattarai published a 2200-word portrait of the way the enterprise works.

From the report, it isn't entirely clear whether Shallal conducts these conversations as a way to improve the functioning of his restaurants, or just as a way to foster greater understanding. At any rate, Bhattarai sat in on several of Shallal's group discussions with new hires. One exchange went like this:
BHATTARI (5/20/18): [I]t is difficult, employees say, to chip away at intrinsic biases.

"As servers, we believe in stereotypes," a black woman in her 30s said during a recent training session. "Does that make us racist?"

Is it possible, she wondered aloud, to be a racist waiter but not a racist person?

(Shallal's answer: No.)

"How many of you have been surprised by a tip because you thought, based on a person's race, that it would not be good?" he asked. Almost every hand went up.

"We need to be more aware of what we bring to the table," Shallal said. "And what we bring is a lot of prejudice, a lot of preconceived notions and, yes, a lot of racism—whether we like it or not."
For ourselves, we almost surely would have answered that woman's questions differently. That doesn't mean that Andy Shallal doesn't have a good idea.

Is Shallal simply trying to foster understanding? Or is he also trying to reduce or eliminate the kinds of incidents in his restaurants which may be described as "microaggressions"—incidents which can turn into something much more serious, as occurred with the recent arrests of two men at a Philadelphia Starbucks?

We'll guess that he wants to do both. Regarding the desire to avoid possible microaggressions, we'll admit that we were slightly annoyed when we stumbled upon yesterday's report, which consumed the bulk of the front page of the Post's Business section.

We'll admit that we were slightly annoyed. It's because of the tedious research we'd been doing last weekend. And it's all because of Yale!

In the past few weeks, we've seen several more accounts of microaggressions committed against the poor abused students of Yale. It started when Yale police, rather politely, asked a graduate student to show them her college ID.

This led to an essay at Slate, in which a 2012 Yale graduate who now works for Google described the "unequal treatment" to which he was subjected when he was a student at Yale.

The writer described some undesirable experiences. That said, we'll have to be honest this once:

The writer had recently spent four years at Yale, gaining the highest type of credential our society provides. Given his current employment, we'll guess that he stands of the edge of admission into this country's economic elite.

We're going to be honest! Even after reading his account of life at Yale, he didn't exactly strike us as the wretched of the earth. This was especially true when we thought of the sacrifices made by those who came before him—by the people who suffered and died so that he could be one of the most privileged people in the history of life on the planet.

Such advantages don't mean that it's OK to be mistreated, or perhaps imperfectly treated, in some other way. But we'll have to admit—in the way he described his "unequal treatment" at Yale, his experience there didn't sound all that horrendous.

Meanwhile, in the face of his massive advantages, we couldn't help contrasting the microaggressions of which he complained to the situation of the black kids who are growing up in New Haven—the black kids who students at Yale may sometimes pass in the street.

Those generally low-income kids do not end up at Yale. Presumably, they deal with microaggressions too—but they're also saddled with this:
Where the average student stood
New Haven Public Schools, Grades 3-8, reading and math

White kids: 1.0 years above grade level
Hispanic kids: 1.6 years below grade level
Black kids: 1.6 years below grade level
Those data emerged from the recent nationwide study by Professor Reardon and two associates. According to Reardon's analysis, black kids in New Haven are performing 2.6 years behind their white counterparts, presumably by the start of sixth grade.

Those kids won't have to worry about going to Yale and being asked to show their ID on some lone occasion. They won't have to worry about microaggressions at Yale.

Instead, they have to worry about the major challenges facing their basic life prospects. These kids have a much tougher way to go than the poor abused students of Yale.

Once again, we need to understand what Reardon's numbers mean. Inevitably, his numbers are imprecise—but we should be clear about what the word "average" means:

In this context, it means that a substantial number of black kids in New Haven are more than 1.6 years below grade level at the start of sixth grade. (Elsewhere in Connecticut, the numbers for black kids are worse.)

They're more than 2.6 years behind the average white New Haven kid at the start of sixth grade. And in other parts of the Nutmeg State, white kids are substantially outscoring the white kids of New Haven, who comprised only twelve percent of the city's student population in Reardon's study.

When we read yesterday's report about Busboy and Poets, we thought about the endless supply of reports from our liberal and progressive world about the desire to eliminate various types of microaggressions. To the extent that Shallal can accomplish that task, he has a good idea, and he's running a good decent business.

That said, it has been two years since the New York Times reported on Reardon's nationwide study about racial achievement gaps. And right there where Busboys and Poets exists, his numbers looked like this:
Where the average student stood
D.C. Public Schools, Grades 3-8, reading and math

White kids: 2.7 years above grade level
Black kids: 2.2 years below grade level
Now that's an achievement gap—4.9 years at the start of sixth grade! That's the reality Reardon described, right there in our capital city, where we don't want restaurant-goers to encounter biased expectations concerning tips.

It's been two years since Reardon's study appeared in the New York Times. As always, the Times weirdly bungled its news report about the study. But the Times provided some fascinating interactive graphics which let us examine data from every school system in the country.

It's been two years since that report appeared in the Times. In that time, you have heard exactly nothing about what Reardon reported.

You haven't seen Reardon's report discussed on MSNBC. You have't seen it discussed at Slate.

Your favorite liberals don't discuss the burdens placed on the nation's low-income black kids. But those same favorite liberals won't stop talking about the indignities suffered by young black adults condemned to be students at Yale.

We read about every microaggression, every deeply offensive email concerning Halloween costumes. But what about the basic life prospects of the city's low-income kids?

If Andy Shallal can reduce microaggressions at Busboys and Poets, he has a good idea. That said, we progressives clearly care more about restaurant goers and Yale students than we do about struggling kids.

As the week proceeds, we'll look at the complaints which were voiced in that recent Slate piece. We'll also examine the achievement gaps which exist in our nation's liberal and progressive redoubts.

We liberals! We never hear about these gaps because we don't care about the people involved. We care about Yale and that's where it ends. Few things could be more clear.

Coming: The gaps on the streets where we live

Next week: Gaps and solutions

EXPLOSIVE: Was Carter Page a Russkie agent?

SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2018

The Times pushes the story along:
Was Carter Page some sort of Russkie agent?

We have no way of knowing. By the time the Mueller probe is done, we may all get a clearer idea concerning questions like that.

In the meantime, certain people are going to push claims and insinuations along.

When it comes to insinuations and overstatements regarding Page, one major gigantic cable news star rarely misses a chance to "hang him high." In fairness, this was already part of her TV show's culture before Page shambled along.

Then too, we were struck by something we read in Thursday's New York Times. In a lengthy retrospective report, three Times reporters said this:
APUZZO, GOLDMAN AND FANDOS (5/17/18): Crossfire Hurricane began with a focus on four campaign officials. But by mid-fall 2016, Mr. Page’s inquiry had progressed the furthest. Agents had known Mr. Page for years. Russian spies tried to recruit him in 2013, and he was dismissive when agents warned him about it, a half-dozen current and former officials said.
Back is 2013, was Page "dismissive" when he was warned about the Russkie approach?

We have no way of knowing. We're not even completely sure we know what the statement means.

That said, we decided to check the prior news report to which the three scribes linked in that passage. That report appeared in the Times in April 2017. Here's the way it began:
GOLDMAN (4/5/17): Russian intelligence operatives tried in 2013 to recruit an American businessman and eventual foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who is now part of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia’s interference into the American election, according to federal court documents and a statement issued by the businessman.

The businessman, Carter Page, met with one of three Russians who were eventually charged with being undeclared officers with Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the S.V.R. The F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Page in 2013 as part of an investigation into the spy ring, but decided that he had not known the man was a spy, and the bureau never accused Mr. Page of wrongdoing.
Interesting! Back then, we weren't told that Page had been "dismissive" when clued by the FBI. Instead, we were told this:
The FBI decided that Page hadn't known that he'd been approached by a spy!
As you can see, the Times has come a long way baby from that initial report. On Thursday, the Times reporters cited that initial report as their source. But here's how the Times has now a-changed:
April 5, 2017: The FBI interviewed Page and decided he hadn't known that he'd been approached by a spy.

May 16, 2018: The FBI interviewed Page and judged that he was "dismissive."
Questions:

Is it true? Did the FBI decide that Page didn't know that he'd been approached by a spy? If so, as a matter of fundamental fairness, should Times readers have been apprised of that fact in Thursday's retrospective?

If that's what the FBI decided, we'd say Times readers should have been told. We voice this judgment in the name of fundamental fairness (among other desirable traits).

At any rate, Thursday's report linked to the prior report as its source. We'd say it engineered a major change in tone—and a drift toward insinuation.

Was Carter Page some sort of Russkie agent? At present, we have no way of knowing. We hope some day to find out.

That said, regarding the age-old cult of insinuation and the unparalleled pleasures of hanging them high, we'd be inclined to say this:

A big cable star likes to play it that way. Should the Times follow suit?

Also this: This headline, in this morning's Times, is about as didactic as a headline on a front-page news report gets:
F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims
The news report is shaky enough. (Example: Do you see Trump quoted anywhere using the key term "spy?")

The news report is shaky enough. The headline leaps beyond the report, and is a bit Pravdaesque.

Coming Monday: Big star's absurd toadyism