How could D.C. improve its schools?


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!


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:


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?

Still dumbest show after all these years!


Abby on Fox & Friends:
We did something today we hadn't done in some time. We watched maybe forty minutes of the cable news show, Fox & Friends Weekend.

Near the start of the century, we described Fox & Friends as the dumbest show in TV news history. Today, with Abby Huntsman cast as the conventionally good-looking youngish woman positioned between the pair of male chimps, the show presented a truly impressive array of propaganda and dumbness.

Was that [Name Withheld] to Huntsman's right? Good God, he was egregious! That said, Huntsman's willingness to play the fool seemed especially striking.

Abby Huntsman arrived on the planet blessed with every advantage. Her family is extremely wealthy. Her father, the former governor Jon Huntsman, is neither crazy nor stupid.

Despite these advantages, Huntsman is willing to stoop and grovel. There are lessons to learn from that.

During an earlier regime, Huntsman was cast in the role of the outnumbered conservative co-host on MSNBC's copy-cat show, The Cycle. On that gruesome 3 PM program, Huntsman was cast as the lone conservative overwhelmed by three liberal co-hosts.

The show was a fairly obvious knock-off of Fox's 5 PM gonger, The Five, on which one liberal co-host is "balanced" by four conservatives.

The Cycle aired during the period when MSNBC was trying to score through a blend of fatuous youth, conventional types of "diversity" and high telegenicity. As a business proposition, the approach didn't work, and most of the stars from the era are gone.

Toure is gone, as is Ronan Farrow. Krystal Ball, Alex Wagner and Huntsman herself are all gone.

(Big Ed, the working-stiff outlier during that era, now works for the Russkies. What type of "diversity" did Farrow bring? Gullibles, please! Son of big movie stars!)

When she appeared on The Cycle, Huntsman was cast the role of a not-crazy conservative. Most of the time, the other co-hosts even pretended to like her.

This morning, there was no level of The Dumb to which Huntsman didn't descend. Granted, the chimps were somewhat worse. But what is Huntsman's excuse?

Watching Huntsman degrade herself while conning her viewers, we were struck by a basic old concept. People are willing to do and say anything to acquire the cash and fame which come with cable success.

Meanwhile, the rise of partisan cable and Internet have illustrated a troubling problem:

As it turns out, we the people will believe whatever we're told, so long as 1) it reinforces our prejudices and 2) it's fed to us with a big smile, or perhaps with constant weird grinning and consultant-directed laughter.

It's hard to know how our political system can survive diets of agitprop nonsense like we saw this morning. Decades into this brave new arrangement, with our own hacks mugging and clowning, a certain conclusion suggests itself:

How can our system survive such nonsense? Increasingly, it seems that it can't!

Donald J. Trump speaks out: At Thursday's presser, Chief TV Critic Donald J. Trump issued his own correct-for-all-time review of this particular cable news program.

He spoke with CNN's Jim Acosta, who's no walk in the park himself. He began by critiquing CNN, then discussed the obvious greatness of his favorite show, Fox & Friends:
TRUMP (2/16/17): Here's the thing. The public isn't—you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don't know if it's true or false because they're not involved.

I'm involved. I've been involved with this stuff all my life. But I'm involved. So I know when you're telling the truth or when you're not. I just see many, many untruthful things [on CNN].

And I'll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word "tone." The tone is such hatred. I'm really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such—I do get good ratings, you have to admit that—the tone is such hatred.

I watched this morning a couple of the networks. And I have to say, Fox & Friends in the morning, they're very honorable people. They're very—not because they're good, because they hit me also when I do something wrong. But they have the most honest morning show. That's all I can say. It's the most honest.
Based on that review, we'll guess that Trump caught the show on a day when the friends were unusually good.

Trump was certainly right on one score. As a general matter, we the people really don't "know if it's true or false" when we see claims made on TV.

That's why Fox & Friends is dangerous. As is the mugging and clowning provided each night Over Here.

New rule emerges on Lemon's show!


Please don't touch Charles Blow:
We're going to call it must-see TV. We refer to the new cable rule from Charles Blow:

You must not touch Charles Blow!

Kayleigh McEnany got out of line. To see Blow tell her how it works, you can just click here.

(The whole tape runs 2:42. You can skip the first minute.)

Final note: When CNN books Betsy McCaughey, the channel's approaching rock bottom.

As it turns out, Jerry Vale had it right!


Two moments from yesterday's presser:
Having watched the whole of yesterday's presser, we'd say that Donald J. Trump wasn't quite as unhinged, on the whole, as some on our own side have said.

That said, we run an amateur bookie business on the side, just as a bit of a hobby. We've received a lot of play from these thoughtful remarks:
TRUMP (2/16/17): If we could get along with Russia, that's a positive thing.

We have a very talented man, Rex Tillerson, who's going to be meeting with them shortly, and I told him. I said, "I know politically it's probably not good for me."

The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles offshore right out of the water. Everyone in this country's going to say, "Oh, it's so great."

That's not great.
That's not great. I would love to be able to get along with Russia.
Masterfully, Trump explained that starting World War III wouldn't be great. Despite what everyone else would say!

As part of our amateur betting service, we've been offering a May 1 over/under on when Donald J. Trump will use his first nuke. A lot of money moved yesterday after that comment by Trump.

Beyond that, let's consider the way we now live in two different worlds. The story starts with Trump assailing the guy who asked him about anti-Semitism.

The reporter in question was Jake Turx, an Orthodox Jew from Ami magazine. After explicitly saying that no one in his community is accusing Trump of anti-Semitism, Turx tried to ask what Trump plans to do about an alleged "uptick" in anti-Semitic incidents.

Trump interrupted Turx, insulted him in several ways and mischaracterized what he had said. Along the way, he answered a question he hadn't been asked:
TRUMP: See, he said he was gonna ask a very simple, easy question. And it's not, it's not, not—not a simple question, not a fair question.

OK sit down, I understand the rest of your question. So here's the story, folks.

Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican—

Quiet, quiet. Quiet!

See, he lied about—he was gonna get up and ask a very straight, simple question. So you know, welcome to the world of the media.

But let me just tell you something.

I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question, because people that know me—and you heard the prime minister, you heard Bibi Netanyahu yesterday, did you hear him, Bibi? He said, I've known Donald Trump for a long time. And then he said, "Forget it."

So you should take that, instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.

See, it just shows you about the press, but that's the way the press is.
At our own sites, we liberals have seen this reaction by Trump criticized. We thought you should see what conservatives saw on Fox.

Last night, conservatives saw Turx interviewed on Tucker Carlson Tonight. Ed Henry served as guest host. This is what conservatives saw Turx say:
TURX (2/16/17): I've worked with the president, his people throughout the campaign, throughout the transition.

So many times I've seen some of our colleagues in the media describe certain events as—in the way it relates to the Jewish community in a certain light that no one in our community saw it that way.

There were certain acts that were described as anti-Semitic, or certain people described as anti-Semitic. And the people in our community who know these people personally said, "That's not true." Why are people who aren't Jewish deciding what is considered anti-Semitism?

The president's relationship with the Jewish community—I've only seen it first time for the last two years, but he has done an unprecedented amount of outreach with the orthodox Jewish community. And so, we understand why this is so hurtful for him, to see himself being called anti-Semitic when this—

HENRY: You don't believe it.

TURX: Not just I don't believe it, I've seen him firsthand. I mean, there is—

HENRY: My point is, you feel it is unfair?

TURX: It is very unfair what's been done to him and I understand why he is so defensive. And I'm with him when it comes to being outraged about him being charged with this anti-Semitism.
At the presser, Trump insulted Turx in various ways and failed to address his question. We liberals have heard about that.

On Fox, Turx was bashing the media too! He praised Trump all up and down and said he understands his reaction. That's what conservative viewers saw.

As it turns out, Jerry Vale had it right.

"Two different worlds," the crooner sang. "We live in two different worlds..."

(To listen to Vale, just click here.)

Jerry Vale had a giant hit with his controversial claim. All these years later, the American people can finally see that Jerry Vale had it right.

Our newest betting line: We're now offering a May 1 over/under on Donald J. Trump's possible use of a nuclear weapon against journalist Jake Turx.

HOW WE GOT HERE: Home alone!


Part 5—The need for liberal leadership:
Have you watched yesterday's press event? If not, have you seen it described?

We'll go ahead and quote David Brooks. This is what David Brooks saw:

"I still have trouble seeing how the Trump administration survives a full term. Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued."

Trump is moving past unhinged and unglued! That's what David Brooks saw!

In our view, Brooks falls short of a straightforward statement. He still doesn't say, in a straightforward way, that we need to discuss the possibility that President Trump is unfit for office, or handicapped in his performance, by issues involving his mental health.

That said, Brooks describes a dangerous situation—the same dangerous situation Paul Krugman describes in his own new column. Concerning that, we'll only say this:

We think Brooks understands the situation better than Krugman does. That may seem like a shocking statement, but it returns us to the topic of this week's reports.

According to Brooks, the person who gave yesterday's presser seems unhinged, unmoored, unglued, or perhaps something worse than that. We liberals thrill to such declarations, without considering this corollary:

We liberals just managed to lose an election to this unhinged man!

Granted, Trump lost the popular vote—though it should be said that he won the overall popular vote in the 49 states which aren't California. Our question, which our team will tend to skip past:

What does this say about us? What does it say about us that we managed to lose an election to an unhinged, unglued, unmoored man?

Does it say anything about Us? Or was November's election result just a reflection on Them?

We all know the standard reply which will emerge from our liberal tents. Unfortunately, that standard reply is in error.

Alas! The fact that we lost to a person like Trump stands as a massive indictment of us. In the main, it stands as an indictment of 25 years of self-dealing and lethargy on the part of our liberal leaders and the mainstream press.

That said, it also speaks to the shortcomings of our liberal rank and file, which is frequently quite self-impressed. We love to note the dumbness of Them. As tribal groups have always done, we blow past the dumbness of Us.

Next week, we'll look at some of the leadership groups who have so massively failed us. We'll look at the nation's professors, and at the emerging, younger group of black assistant professors.

We'll look at the lefty cohort, which can be too cool for school. We'll look at the Hollywood types, who seem to be happy only when costing Democrats votes. (Last week, were you able to spot the way Meryl Streep did it again?)

We'll look at our corporate cable stars, including our corporate liberal stars, some of whom sat out the last election, some of whom, in earlier corporate lives, created the stupid and noxious themes which sent Clinton down to defeat.

We'll look at the liberal voices within the mainstream press—the Riches, the Drums, the Chaits, the Dionnes, the Robinsons, Kristofs and even the (MVP) Krugmans.

We'll look at the mainstream press corps itself—at the jihads it invented in the 1990s. We'll look at the 20-somethings who now swarm all over that mainstream press, helping keep labor costs down while trailing their youthful cluelessness behind them.

(Where on earth did Slate ever go to find its newest, most fatuous star? What does it say about Us that there must be a cohort which wants this?)

As we roll our eyes at The Others, we tend to look past the conduct of our own leadership groups. We do so because we liberals are dumb, like all tribal groups before us.

How dumb can we the liberals get? Last November, we were shocked when Donald J. Trump drew an inside straight and won.

We were shocked because our professors and pundits told us it couldn't possibly happen—and because, left on our own, we were dumb enough to believe them. In last Sunday's Washington Post, Dana Milbank described the "collective trauma" we now experience, in which "millions of people feel powerless and out of control, which leads to anxiety, anger and despair."

Depending on how you want to score it, Milbank is one of the liberal voices within the upper-end mainstream press. How should we now respond to Trump?

Boldly, Milbank laid out of his ideas. Here's the way he began:
MILBANK (2/12/17): Until now, the response to Trump has been ad hoc: demonstrations arranged on social media or flooding the Capitol switchboard. That does some good, and the rallies are a balm for people feeling isolated. But the activities are wasted if those involved don’t join a larger movement.

“We need to shift from a reactive to a strategic response,” [Marshall] Ganz says. His solution: Join something. “To the extent it brings you into a relationship with others, it’s worth doing. Unless it has that further dividend, it gets old.”

So what to join? My friend Eric Liu, author of the forthcoming book “You’re More Powerful Than You Think,” says even a book club will do. That’s true, in the long run: The idea is to rebuild structures of civil society, the breakdown of which allowed the demagogic Trump to take root.
Has the man with the nuclear codes moved past unhinged and unglued? Friend, Dana Milbank knows what to do:

You should join a book club!

In fairness, Milbank moved on from there. He went on to offer suggestions which are slightly less unglued—though as he ended, he also suggested that you might consider the Elks Club.

To the extent that he makes any good suggestions, Milbank's ideas have arrived just in time to be completely too late. At his worst, his suggestions make him seem about as moored, hinged and glued as Trump currently is.

Join a book club! Milbank's suggestion appeared in an especially comical Sunday edition of the Washington Post.

Possibly for the first time, the Outlook section offered an informative "Five Myths" feature in which none of the myths the authors "corrected" could sensibly be described as myths. Meanwhile, Outlook's featured front-page report appeared beneath this eye-catching hard-copy headline:

"Why do we still let 12-year-olds get married?"

It was an eye-catching headline. Unfortunately, the example with which the report began involved someone who got married at age 16—in 1986! In the course of the lengthy report's 1900 words, we were never told how many 12-year-olds have been married in recent decades.

The topic may well be very important. The journalism was bad.

Bad journalism has been par for the course in the decades of cultural / intellectual slide which led to the triumph of Trump. The strangest piece in the Outlook section concerned the liberalish world's heroic reaction to his shocking triumph.

Two nights before, a multimillionaire cable star who mugged and clowned through the last election praised us proles for the brilliant way, "all of a sudden," we are "now" learning to fight. As she did, she stuffed another bag of corporate money into her big corporate pants.

Two days later, the Washington Post went the star somewhat better. They published this ludicrous Outlook piece by a woman in Richmond, Virginia—a previously non-political woman who has now learned to fight.

We're going to call her "Name Withheld;" her piece was just that awful. It isn't her fault that the Washington Post chose to publish her ludicrous piece, in the Outlook section no less. But the utter foolishness of the piece shows us how bad the marriage can be when the rank-and-file, lacking competent leadership, interacts with the strange cluelessness of the upper-end mainstream press.

How old is Name Withheld? We have no idea. In its identity line, the Post only tells us this:

"[Name Withheld] currently resides in Richmond, Va., and works in the insurance field."

We'll assume that Name Withheld is a good, decent person. In our experience, most people are.

We'll assume she does good work in the insurance field. That said, as she starts, she identifies herself as the modern liberal nightmare, especially in a purple state like Virginia:
NAME WITHHELD (2/12/17): Like a lot of Americans, I’ve never been particularly political. I’ve never voted in a midterm election. I’ve never voted in a local race, never voted for mayor. I don’t recall voting ever, except in presidential elections. I’d read political articles and keep up with the news, but I didn’t do much research before heading to the polls every four years. My Facebook feed was mostly cat photos.

But then President Trump was elected, and he nominated Betsy DeVos
to be secretary of education.

Before DeVos, I hadn’t followed a single Cabinet nomination, which is probably true of most people. (Surveys regularly show that we aren’t particularly informed about our government.) At happy hour with my five girlfriends, we probably could have named two members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, and the secretary of education was not one of them. I feel bad saying it, but it’s the truth: I simply didn’t think I needed to know. Why? Because I always had a sense that things would be okay, regardless of who was in charge; if Mitt Romney had won instead of Obama, things would have been fine.

This was the first time I felt like things could not be okay. And I have found a political voice I didn’t know that I had—or that I even wanted to have.
There's nothing "wrong" with posting cat photos on Facebook. There's nothing "wrong" with discussing this or that at happy hour with friends.

There was something wrong—something badly wrong—with the Washington Post's decision to publish this ridiculous piece.

According to this lengthy piece, Name Withheld had always been apolitical. But then, along came DeVos!

More broadly, along came Trump! As a result, Name Withheld "has found a political voice I didn’t know that I had."

Name Withheld is telling a story from a dime novel, a story of personal triumph. "All of a sudden," Name Withheld is woke! For some reason, the Washington Post decided to publish this mess.

Why do we call this piece a mess? Because even in the case of DeVos, Name Withheld still seems utterly clueless. She seems to know virtually nothing about DeVos, but the Washington Post is helping Name Withheld, and us, think she's heroically woke.

Name Withheld is still uninformed. She knows that DeVos went to private schools, seems to know nothing else.

Franklin Roosevelt attended only private schools; so did John F. Kennedy. As far as we know, the same is true of Barack Obama, during the years in which he lived in the United States.

The fact that DeVos went to private schools just isn't hugely important. But it seems to be all that Name Withheld knows. This has led her to think that she's now politically active in a way that's likely to help.

Name Withheld, a good decent person, is in need of political and intellectual leadership—as are we all, of course. Will such leadership come from within our own liberal tribe?

As you ponder that question, consider this next ridiculous piece. For unknown reasons, it turned up in The Atlantic, three days ago.

The piece was written by Elizabeth Limbach, "editor in chief of the bimonthly surf lifestyle magazine Santa Cruz Waves." In her own ridiculous piece, Limbach catches the most recent wave of push-back against Tyrant Trump:

All of a sudden, liberals and progressives are agreeing that we shouldn't say his name! And no, we really aren't kidding about that. Limbach has even consulted an ethical theorist and assistant professor of philosophy concerning this emerging act of resistance:
LIMBACH (2/14/17): Like the Obamas, many of Trump’s critics have become rather skilled at speaking about him without ever saying his name. In his January State of the State address, California Governor Jerry Brown didn’t utter “Trump” once, even though the politician had been vocal and explicit about his opposition in the past. Nor was the name said by Representative John Lewis when the civil-rights leader responded to attacks Trump lobbed at him via Twitter. Meryl Streep’s viral Golden Globes speech took aim at the new president while never acknowledging him by name, and “a coarse blowhard who has boasted about assaulting women” was the closest the humorist Calvin Trillin came to naming the man in a recent piece in The New Yorker. Last week, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Bernice King shared a widely circulated list to her Facebook page offering tips for resisting Trump. The top suggestion: “Use his name sparingly so as not to detract from the issues.”

In all of these instances, it’s what’s missing that is loudest. “Absences can be significant,” James Sias, an ethical theorist and assistant professor of philosophy at Dickinson College, told me. “What stood out to most people about Michelle Obama’s speech is what she didn’t say.”

For some, the refusal to name Trump amounts to denial or dissociation. But for many of the tactic’s adoptees, it’s a signal of resistance...
It's sad that such nonsense exists. It should be astounding that The Atlantic would decide to publish such crap.

"Join a book club," Milbank says. Don't say his name," adds Limbach. Name Withheld has learned one fact.

Let's set aside the peculiar fact that the Post and The Atlantic have chosen to publish such manifest crap. Will we liberals ever be willing to see what this pitiful state of affairs says about self-impressed Us?

Next week: Our own unfaithful servants