Zephyr Teachout gets it right!

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2017

Recommends end to stampedes:
Zephyr Teachout gets it right in today's New York Times.

She isn't sure that Franken should quit. She recommends an end to stampedes.

More specifically, she recommends that we reconnect with a pair of old friends. She names these old friends at the start of her column:
TEACHOUT (12/12/17): I care passionately about #MeToo. Women are routinely demeaned, dismissed, discouraged and assaulted. Too many women’s careers are stymied or ended because of harassment and abuse. In politics, where I have worked much of my adult life, this behavior is rampant.

I also believe in zero tolerance. And yet, a lot of women I know—myself included—were left with a sense that something went wrong last week with the effective ouster of Al Franken from the United States Senate. He resigned after a groundswell of his own Democratic colleagues called for him to step down.

Zero tolerance should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality. As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on social media.

Due process means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond.
And proportionality means that while all forms of inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, the response should be based on the nature of the transgressions.
Teachout speaks on behalf of a pair of old friends—due process and proportionality. She even describes what those friendships entail. Essentially, she's suggesting that we stop the stampedes.

Teachout says she was troubled by "the effective ouster of Al Franken from the United States Senate" last week. We think that ouster had the feel of a stampede.

Having said that, let us also say this—it isn't clear that Franken would gain from a resort to due process. It's possible that he chose to resign because he knows that other charges would arise if he remained on the scene.

Teachout makes the same general point. "With time, and the existing ethics procedures, things are likely to emerge that will surprise us all," she writes. "New facts may put Senator Franken in a better light, or a far worse one, and we should be open to both."

Would an ethics hearing help or hurt Franken? We have no way of knowing. We do know an apparent bum's rush when we apparently see one, and we thought we apparently saw such a stampede last week.

According to future anthropologists, our struggling species was never really equipped to understand the virtues of due process and proportionality. Despite this gloomy assessment, Teachout says we should call these old friends again.

Pointless though such an effort might be, we think she got it right.

The key phrase there is "in recent weeks!"

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2017

Case studies in liberal failure:
It's amazing to see the kind of crap we liberals receive from our "intellectual leaders."

Consider Josh Marshall's web site, TPM. This morning, it offers us an inspirational news report by Nicole Lafond.

Lafond begins like this:
LAFOND (12/12/17): Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is not backing down from her efforts to hold President Trump accountable for the accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

After Trump tweeted calling the senator names and suggesting that Gillibrand was once willing to “do anything” for campaign contributions from him, Gillibrand responded with a simple message: “You cannot silence me.”

Gillibrand has become a prominent force in combating sexual harassment and assault in Washington in recent weeks.
She, along with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), introduced legislation last month that would overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints. She was the first to call on her colleague, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), to resign after weeks of mounting allegations against him. On Monday, she called on Trump to resign the same day three of his accusers came forward to shed new light on their claims of sexual misconduct against the President.
The report proceeds from there. Already, the post is inspirational, if your IQ is 10:

Gillibrand isn't backing down! Donald J. Trump can't silence her!

This is the kind of drivel we're frequently served on the partisan Net and by liberal cable. It's designed to make us feel tribally strong, to keep us returning for more.

We had a different reaction. In our view, the key phrase there would be "in recent weeks." To wit:

"Gillibrand has become a prominent force in combating sexual harassment and assault in Washington in recent weeks."

In recent weeks? Far from being inspirational, that strikes us as part of the problem!

"In recent weeks," we've all learned about the ridiculous system in place in the Congress for dealing with sexual harassment. The system, such as it is, dates to 1995. Being sensible, we've wondered why fiery leaders like Gillibrand accepted that absurd arrangement all these years.

She's boldly fought back "in recent weeks?" To us, that sounds like an indictment. At TPM, it's supposed to make us feel bold, bright and good, through typical journo-signalling.

By the way, who is Nicole Lafond? She's three years out of Olivet Nazarene University (class of 2014).

To state the obvious, there's nothing wrong with being youngish or even young. Low salaries help Marshall swell his bottom line, an obvious tribal good. But it also raises the likelihood of liberals receiving silly pap from our fiery, play-for-pay web sites.

Gillibrand has emerged "in recent weeks?" Why isn't that part of the problem?

Later today: Teachout gets it right

THE PAROCHIALS: "The best love story, ever!"

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2017

Part 4—Ages, 44 and 19:
Long ago and far away, the Washington Post established the lens through which today's Alabama Senate election would be viewed.

More precisely, it happened on November 10 (on-line, November 9). On that day, the Post reported that an Alabama woman, Leigh Corfman, was accusing Moore of molesting her in 1979, when she was 14 years old.

That was a very serious charge. Instantly, the Post injected a note of confusion into the proceedings. It did so by including reports by two other women who said that they had dated Moore during that same time period, when they were 17 and 18-19 years old.

These women said they had dated Moore with their mothers' enthusiastic consent. It seemed their mothers had been hoping that the dating might lead to marriage. Pundits disappeared this fact, which didn't support the moral stampede they would now perform.

The Post seemed to think that these reports of dating supported the charge of molestation. Our journalists tend to reason that way when their stampedes are on.

Had Moore been accused of assault, or did he stand accused of dating? We mention this point of confusion because of several subsequent phone calls to C-Span's Washington Journal.

That Sunday, two amateur anthropologists telephoned the venerable program to offer a bit of cultural context. One caller seemed partisan; the other didn't. At roughly 7:25 AM, the first caller offered this:
CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA (11/12/17): This whole controversy about Roy Moore is really ridiculous. The age of consent in the South has always been younger than urban areas...

I'm from Missouri originally, and my grandfather married my grandmother, he was 28 and she was 15, that's just how it was done. They had ten children, there were married for sixty-plus years. It was not uncommon....
"My grandparents were Christian," the caller said. "It was honorable. They were married in a church. You guys just are making a mountain out of a molehill...to mess up Alabama's choice of who they want for senator."

That caller sounded partisan. Five minutes later, another such caller pretty much didn't:
CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA (11/12/17): I wanted to say that I know, today's standards, this kind of thing is definitely not acceptable, but many years ago, particularly in the South and Midwest, there was a culture that adult men married young teenagers. My grandmother was 15 and my grandfather was in his 20's when they got married. They stayed married for 70-something years. I know it's not, today it's not acceptable, but there was a time...

It's not right today. Things have changed. We don't do those sort of things today.
This second caller may have been a bit sanguine about what we do today. Just this summer, the state of New York "raised the age of marriage to 17 in an effort to prevent child marriage."

We're quoting the Associated Press report on this legislative breakthrough. "The change took effect Thursday, a month after lawmakers voted to rewrite a state law that had allowed children as young as 14 to legally wed," the AP further reported.

"Fourteen was just ridiculous,” a thoughtful Democratic assemblywoman told the PBS NewsHour at that time.

In that same report, the NewsHour noted that New Jersey governor Chris Christie had just "vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the first state to outlaw marriage for anyone under 18." In New Hersey, it remains legal for people under 16 to wed, but they do need a judge's permission.

In fact, we do still do it today! According to that AP report, "more than 3,800 minors were married in New York between 2000 and 2010."

None of this has anything to do with the charge that Moore molested Corfman when she was 14 years old. Those C-Span callers were discussing dating and marriages conventions, not the question of (statutory) assault.

The callers were tumbling through the confusion which had been introduced by the Washington Post. That said, they offered a bit of cultural context concerning the "accusation" that Moore had dated someone who was 19 when he was 30 years old.

They also offered a bit of context concerning the fact that the mothers in question cheered Ol' Roy on when he dated their teenage daughters. Since much of the press corps has seemed to be more concerned with the dating than with the alleged assaults, those callers help us see the congenital parochialism which has afflicted our upper-end press corps on its many stampedes over the past many years.

When our press corps stages a moral panic, they tend to ignore all cultural context. Examples:

In 1987, they began calling around to see if various presidential candidates may have smoked marijuana—AKA, Mary Jane—when they were teenagers.

You had to be stupendously dumb to care about nonsense as that, but the press corps was up to the challenge. When they called us about one of the candidates, we were struck by their cultural myopia.

Other drugs of that era were much scarier than marijuana. But when the journalists asked about "Mary Jane," they never inquired about them!

Five years later, the moral panic involved Candidate (Bill) Clinton's attempt to avoid being shipped to Vietnam in 1968. Again, we were stuck by the depth of the reporters' parochialism.

Reading their accounts of this matter, a person might have thought that everyone except Bill Clinton had been eager to serve. In fact, the vast majority of male university students were seeking ways to avoid Vietnam as of 1968. Clinton's behavior had been completely routine—unless you were reading a major newspaper, where intrepid reporters seemed to have no awareness of this fact.

(We're still amazed, and disappointed, when we see fiery corporate liberals talk about Donald J. Trump's "five deferments." We keep searching for Joy-Ann Reid's record of military service before or after her four years at Harvard, but no such record exists. Sad!)

Alas! Our parochial press corps began a stampede about Roy Moore's dating practices. Again and again, they've seemed to be more concerned with his dating than with the two alleged assaults.

Instantly, they disappeared the fact that those mothers had enthusiastically seen this dating as a possible route to marriage. This fact would undermine their panic. It had to be destroyed.

Future anthropologists, speaking from caves, have identified this incessant parochialism as one of the factors which led to the conflagration they refer to as "Mister Trump's War." Today, let's explore the cultural context surrounding Roy Moore's dating in the 1970s, the ridiculous topic on which our press corps has incessantly chosen to focus.

Why did those mothers hope that Moore might end up marrying their daughters? Why did they jump with joy when he started dating their daughters? What was the cultural context surrounding those unrequited dreams?

To answer your questions, we'll start with a headline which appeared just three years ago, in August 2014. Though it appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, the sentiments this headline expressed were seconded everywhere mainstream press bullshit is sold.

Gushingly, the headline referred to "the best love story, ever." The full headline said this:
This Is Why Bogie and Bacall Had the Best Love Story, Ever
Lauren Bacall had just died; she was 89 years old. According to that childish headline, her love affair with Humphrey Bogart had been "the best love story, ever."

Was it really the best such story ever? We doubt there's any such critter. At any rate, this "best love story" included a wedding when Bogart was 45 years old.

His blushing bride had been 20! When this "best story" began on the set of a film, she was just 19 years old.

The mothers of the women Moore dated had come of age on such "best love stories, ever." Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall tied the knot in 1945, creating a long-bruited tale.

That same year, Charlie Chaplin married Oona O'Neill, daughter of the famous playwright. The blushing bride was 18 years old; Charlie was 56. The pair remained married until Charlie's death, raising eight children together.

People, we're just saying! This is part of the cultural context which led to those mothers' attitudes about datng and marriage—and also, perhaps, to Ol' Roy's!

As those C-Span callers suggested, there was a time when women tended to marry very young—and not uncommonly to older gentleman callers. In the case of Lauren Bacall, it wasn't just The Hollywood Reporter which gushed about her best love story ever.

It was also the Washington Post, the very newspaper which set off this year's moral panic about the past dating game. This is the way the Washington Post gushed about the "giddy" way this "teenage girl" fell in love with way-cool Bogie.

Exciting Post headline included:
MCDONALD (8/13/14): The magnetic mystique of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

He was 25 years her senior.


She wielded side-eye the way medieval knights wielded maces.

Together, they were “the most gossiped-about couple of the Forties.”

[...]

Bacall was his fourth wife, and yet Bogart was so undeniably smitten, Bacall was probably the only woman who had the power to render even Marilyn Monroe about as appealing as a bowl of chopped liver.

In February 1987, Orange Coast magazine ran a quote Bogart gave about stardom decades earlier: “It ruins so many people—particularly actresses,” Bogie said. “Ninety percent of them are the dullest broads in town. They have no appeal for me whatsoever, and that goes for Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and Gina Lollobrigida. In fact, the only actress in town with any true allure is Lauren Bacall.” Theirs wasn’t any old kind of love affair—it was aspirational.

Bacall was 19 when she and Bogart began work
on “To Have and to Have Not,” their first of four movies together. When they fell in love, she fell with the giddy, unencumbered ease of a teenage girl, because she was one. At the time, Bacall was so new to adulthood that she was still keeping her relationship with Bogie a secret from her mother. When he called one night, she flew out of bed to meet him on Rodeo Drive, where he’d been drinking with Jackie Gleason. Her mother, Natalie, who moved in with Bacall, ordered her back into bed. The love-struck Bacall rushed out of the house, a story she related in her memoir “Lauren Bacall By Myself”...:
Read on for the good parts! Meanwhile, what was happening on the set? Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh! The Post explained it thusly:
MCDONALD: “They really were smitten with each other,” said dancer Joy Barlowe in “Bogart.” “You could tell by the looks. He always had his hand on her shoulder. And he called her Baby. ... They were always disappearing."
He called her "Baby"—and they kept disappearing! Heh heh heh heh heh!

The Washington Post thought it was "aspirational" when Humphrey Bogart, age 44, began pursuing a giddy teenage girl behind her mother's back. Three years later, the same newspaper set off a moral panic:

Ol' Roy Moore, ages 30 and 34, had dated two teenagers! He'd done so with their mothers' enthusiastic consent!

At age 44, Bogart was cool. At age 30, Moore was so old that he set off a panic!

Remember—this has nothing to do with the claim that Moore molested Leigh Corfman and violently attacked Gloria Young Nelson. We're speaking here about the Post's report that he had dated two young women who were 17 and 19 years old.

For our money, it wouldn't generally be a good idea for people to date or marry across that age divide. But it also isn't a good idea when our morally bankrupt corporate journalists touch off their moral panics—in this case, a panic they supported in the standard way, by disappearing a whole lot of relevant facts.

Why did those mothers hope that Ol' Roy might end up marrying their teenage daughters? Let us count several ways:

As everyone except journalists knows, women tended to marry quite young in the middle part of the last century. According to the Census Bureau, the average age of first marriage for women was 20.3 in 1950 and 1960. By 1970, that average age had climbed to 20.8 years of age.

That average age is much higher today. As a general matter, we think that makes better sense.

But in the era in question, many women married quite young. And in the years when those mothers came of age, youthful marriage to an older man was almost a cultural ideal, especially if you were reading movie magazines.

Those mothers were likely born around 1940. They would have been forming their cultural notions in the 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1950, Elizabeth Taylor starred in the semi-iconic film, Father of the Bride. According to the script, her character was 20 years old when she semi-iconically married.

In real life, Taylor got married that very same year—but in real life, she was just 18. Two years later, in 1952, she married for the second time.

By this time, she was 20 years old. Her second husband, actor Michael Wilding, was a well-seasoned fellow of 40.

This pattern wasn't unusual. During this golden age of teen marriage, movie magazines spilled with love affairs between very young women and older established men. (Such stories clogged film scripts of the 1950s. We'll save that story for another day.)

Hollywood's female stars married young, in some cases before they were stars. They often married older men.

Howe old were they when they first married? Judy Garland was 19. She married an established band leader, David Rose, who was 31.

(At age 17, she'd been thrown over by band leader Artie Shaw, age 29. After dumping Judy, he married Lana Turner, who was age 18.)

At age 23, Judy married again. This time, she married director Vincent Minelli, who was 42. (In the iconic film they'd been making together, Meet Me in St. Louis, the Garland character gets engaged when she's 17 or 18.)

That was Liz, Lana and Judy, but mid-century movie magazines spilled with stories of teenaged brides. Let's run through some ages:

Taylor married at 18, then again at 20. Janet Leigh married at 15, then again at 18.

Ava Gardner married at age 19. Her second marriage, at age 23, was to that man again, Artie Shaw, who was now 35.

Natalie Wood married at 19. (Robert Wagner, age 27.) This followed her earlier affair with director Nicholas Ray, 27 years her senior.

Marilyn Monroe first married at 15. When Rita Hayworth was 18, she married Edward Judson, an oilman turned promoter who was more than twice her age. Ingrid Bergman married at 21. Dr. Lindstrom was 30.

These stories helped set the cultural context as those mothers of the non-movement were coming of age. Then too, there were the examples from the world of popular music, especially Southern music.

When Elvis started dating Priscilla, she was just 14! (He was 24.) Loretta Lynn married at age 15—and please don't ask about Jerry Lee, who managed to take things too far!

When Jerry Lee Lewis married Myra Gale Brown, he was 23 years old. It was Jerry Lee's third marriage, though it was Myra Gale's first.

Uh-oh! As it turned out, His blushing bride was his first cousin once removed, whatever that means. But also, she was 13 years old! Apparently, she hadn't been removed from Jerry Lee's presence enough!

Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Gale Brown stayed married for 13 years, raising two children together. That said, Jerry Lee had apparently gone a bit too far in his choice of a 13-year-old bride. The marriage produced a great deal of pushback, damaging his career.

That said, teenage marriage was hardly unknown when Moore began dating the teenage daughters of those Moore-lover mothers. It was still entirely common for women to marry in their teenage years. Marriage to an older, successful man remained a type of cultural ideal.

"Old coot" marriage would remain a Hollywood staple. In 1965, Cary Grant married Dyan Cannon. He was 61, she was 28.

One year later, Sinatra may have topped him. At age 51, he married Mia Farrow. She was 21.

Should Ol' Roy Moore have dated those teens? Should their mothers, dreaming of marriage, have cheered the old goat on?

We can't answer those questions. We can tell you this:

The Washington Post touched off a panic about his dates with those teenagers. Waves of pundits formed a stampede. They did so in the stupid way they always behave at such junctures.

Many journalists seemed more concerned with Moore's dating than with the two criminal assaults with which he stands accused. Many journalists seemed to be unable to distinguish between these types of behavior.

As the journalists staged this panic, they may have convinced a few more people that they can't be sensible or fair, whether on a regional or on a political basis. The people who called C-Span that day already seemed to be impressed by the parochialism these unimpressive, upper-middle class strivers routinely display.

In the past month, the press has staged a moral panic about the way Roy Moore once "pursued" teenagers. They engaged in their usual group behaviors to pimp their story along.

Most strikingly, they disappeared the fact that the mothers of those two teenagers had been cheering Moore on. You weren't allowed to hear that fact. It undermined the panic.

What else did these idiots do as they staged their latest stampede? They tended to disappear the facts about those alleged assaults! When's the last time you heard someone describe the violent physical assault alleged by Beverly Young Nelson—a violent attack she says occurred when she was 16 years old?

The children have disappeared that. But also, they've almost completely disappeared the crazy views Moore has expressed, in the past twenty years, as a fully grown public figure. His lunatic views are boring. His dating behavior is not.

Moore qualifies as a genuine nut, but this fact has largely been ignored. The children were too intent on their latest moral panic, a moral panic which seemed to revolve around forty-year-old dating behavior.

Their moral panic was built around sex. Truth to tell, these deeply immature boys and girls want to discuss nothing else.

They are the fruit of a failing culture. Every night, future anthropologists, as if in a series of dreams, have been ever-so-sadly talking to us about this.

Bacall had married Humphrey Bogart! Why should their daughters be different?

Again, concerning the Washington Post: These are the views of the Washington Post concerning old men dating teenagers:

As of August 2014, it was the coolest thing ever! But just last month, in November 2017, it was such a hideous practice that it set off a panic.

You see, the Post didn't like Roy Moore! And when our "press corps" agrees on a target, this is the way they perform.

They didn't discuss his lunatic views; they wanted to talk about sex, nothing else. According to future anthropologists, it was the only thing that fired their jets in the years before Mister Trump's War.

How to tell you're being played!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2017

The wages of "cable news" stardom:
At the risk of seeming negative, we're going to comment on last Thursday night's Rachel Maddow Show.

The program started, as it sometimes does, with the program's host, Rachel Maddow, talking down to her viewers. Soon, she offered a brief report which deserves memorializing.

This brief report concerned Donald J. Trump's strange, slurred speech patterns during a public statement the previous day. Trump's odd performance had created concerns that he might have experienced some sort of health problem, such as perhaps a stroke.

Almost surely, that wasn't the case. But on the subject of weird speech patterns, just consider the way Maddow spoke during this brief report.

She started off by saying this. To watch the full tape, click here:
MADDOW (12/7/17): So all that stuff has just happened tonight. A lot of unexpected there's a lot of weird news.

And on the subject of weird news, this is something that I did not talk about last night because I felt a little oogy about it. And honestly I still hesitate to bring it up now, but I'm going to because it has an important news consequence today. Despite my ooginess I'm just going to go there.
Yes, you're reading that right. According to Maddow, she hadn't discuss this event the night before because she "felt oogy about it." In case you were hoping you'd heard her wrong, she quickly said that she was going to discuss the topic that night, "despite my ooginess."

(Maddow pronounced "oogy" to rhyme with "boogie.")

At this point, we offer some advice. When someone talks to you that way on TV, you are being conned. You're being played by a corporate clown—in this case, by someone who 1) spends a lot of time discussing herself and 2) spends a lot of time making you think she's a little more special and unique than you and your circle are.

The previous night, Maddow had felt "oogy" about discussing the topic! As the corporate clown continued, she showcased her greatest talent—her skill at getting us to listen her as she talks about herself:
MADDOW (continuing directly): All right. Yesterday at the White House, when the president announced this very controversial decision that the U.S. will eventually move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, that announcement rattled nerves around the world because of its potentially explosive consequences in the Middle East and elsewhere. But at a more pedestrian level, the president's announcement yesterday also rattled some nerves at home because of the way he was speaking at the end of his announcement.

And I, I do not like making a bigger deal out of these things than ought to be made of them. I do not take any pleasure in showing you this, I do not find that this to be hilarious, as I know many people do. I also say this in full cognizance of the fact that I am a person who talks weird and flaps my hands around a lot, and I make weird faces sometimes. like I don't generally think people should be made fun of, or scrutinized especially, because they're funny-looking or talk weird or have a strange look on their face when they're saying something. That said:

When the president was making his announcement about Jerusalem, depending on how you look at it, he appeared to maybe have his teeth come loose? Or to have just started slurring his words, or maybe he bit his tongue hard or something. Something strange happened at the end of his speech.
At this point, the cable star played the videotape of Trump's strange speaking performance.

Again, to watch the full tape, click here.
Don't fail to notice the transparent phoniness of the way the cable star delivers her own strange speech.

All in all, we'd guess that Donald J. Trump experienced some sort of dental problem last Wednesday, causing his strange, slurred speech. But what accounts for Maddow's strange speech pattern the following night, in which she gonged us with the word "oogy," then made us listen as she discussed herself, establishing these key points:
Key points established by Maddow:

1) Rachel Maddow doesn't like making a bigger deal out of these things than ought to be made of them.

2) She didn't find Trump's slurring to be hilarious, as she knew many people did.

3) Rachel Maddow understands that she's a person who talks weird and flaps her hands around a lot.

4) She also knows that she makes weird faces sometimes.

5) Rachel Maddow doesn't generally think people should be made fun of, or scrutinized especially, because they're funny-looking or talk weird or have a strange look on their face when they're saying something.
These were all key points. Also, Maddow was willing to ignore her ooginess in order to discuss Donald J. Trump's strange speech.

We offer two assessments:

Most likely, Donald J. Trump engaged in strange slurred speech last Wednesday because he had a sudden dental problem.

Almost surely, Rachel Maddow engaged in her own weird speech the following night because she's a substantial egomaniac, not unlike Donald J. Trump.

Maddow has a hundred hooks to make you think that she's more special than you. This is part of what Janet Malcolm recently described as "her performance of the Rachel figure."

Beyond that, Maddow loves to talk about herself. Playing old videotape of herself is even better.

Maddow loves to speak this way! As we near the start of Mister Trump's Inevitable War, we gullible liberals have spent eight years encouraging her to do it.

THE PAROCHIALS: From milk carton kids to teenage dates!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2017

Part 3—Whatever turns journalists on:
Of what does Roy Moore stand accused as tomorrow's election approaches?

Ever since November 10, the press corps has focused on charges about his alleged behavior from the late 1970s. His crazy public behavior is ignored as scribes thrill to this earlier era.

That said, of what does Moore stand accused?

Many journalists have had a very hard time answering that question. Last Friday, though, the analysts cheered! In her column for the New York Times, Michelle Goldberg got it almost exactly right:
GOLDBERG (12/8/17): While Franken is on his way out of the Senate, Roy Moore, Republican of Alabama, may be on his way in. Moore stands credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old whom he picked up outside her mother's custody hearing and of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old after offering her a ride home from her waitressing job.
We agree with every word, although we'd add the word "violently" to the latter description.

Leigh Corfman has accused Moore of molesting her in 1979, when she was 14. Gloria Young Nelson has accused Moore of committing a violent sexual assault on her person in 1977, when she was 16.

Moore stands accused of molesting one teen and of sexually assaulting another. How hard is it to say that?

For many major journalists, it has been amazingly hard. Major scribes have stumbled about, attempting to describe the accusations.

Goldberg made the task look easy. But here's the way Kathleen Parker described the charges in yesterday's Washington Post:
PARKER (12/10/17): Moore, far from being a comedian, is known for his affection for the Ten Commandments. Clearly, there should have been an amendment to the commandment that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife: or his little girl, either. The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is alleged to have fondled or otherwise behaved in sexual ways with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Say what? Parker has heard of Corfman's accusation. It isn't entirely clear that she has heard about Nelson's. Where Goldberg describes these charges with specificyty, Parker ends up offering this murky description:

Moore stands accused of "having behaved in sexual ways with teenage girls." Will readers have any clear idea what that means? From what post-Victorian usage manual has Parker cobbled this murky description?

The Washington Post launched this topic with a November 10 front-page report which was built around Corfman's accusation. From that day to this, we've been fascinated by the peculiar ways in which journalists have described the charges against Ol' Roy.

In part, we suspect the problem stems from the parochialism of our upper-end journalists. We'll guess it stems from their parochialism, but also from their self-involvement. That said, the problem tracks to that original November 10 report, in which the Post displayed a rather peculiar bit of editorial judgment.

We'll admit it! We're fascinated by the way the press corps has handled this matter. As we wait for the inevitable start of Mister Trump's War, we think this episode sheds a lot of light, anthropologially speaking, on the mental and moral habits and skills of our upper-end press.

What was journalistically strange about that initial Post report? As noted, the Post featured Corfman's accusation—her claim that Moore molested her when she was 14 years old.

So far, so good, although we thought there were a few points where the Post's journalism was spotty. But as a second part of its report, the Post featured statements by three other women. They claimed that Moore had dated them, or asked them out, during that same time period, when they too were teenagers.

In this way, it seemed that Moore stood "accused" of two "crimes." He stood accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl, which would seem to be a criminal act. He also stood "accused" of having dated two older teenagers—and of having dated them with their mothers cheering him on!

What was the logic of the implied connection between these two types of conduct? Did the fact that Moore dated Gloria Thacker Deason when she was 18, then 19 serve as supporting evidence for the claim that he molested Corfman when she was 14?

The Post made no attempt to explain the logic of this implied connection. From that day to this, people like Parker have stumbled and flailed as they try to describe the very serious crimes with which Moore does in fact stand accused.

Dating Deason wasn't a crime; if Moore violently assaulted Nelson, that rather plainly was. Still and all, people like Parker fumble about, seeming to understate the degree of offense with which Moore stands charged.

Can we talk? In their typical parochial way, our journalists sometimes seem to be more concerned about the dating than about the violent assault!

Behind that concern stands a list of domestic panics. First, we had the public concern about the missing "milk carton kids."

The practice of putting the faces of missing children on milk cartons started in the 1980s. It's credited with helping authorities locate some missing children in the years before better organized tracking systems existed.

On the downside, this campaign also led to wildly exaggerated claims about the number of missing children in the United States. Before the practice faded away, "psychologists, social service workers and other child advocates, including celebrated pediatricians T. Berry Brazelton and Benjamin Spock, [argued] that the onslaught of photos and publicity ha[d] evolved into a sort of hysteria, producing a new anxiety in young children." Or so reported the Post.

Was that a bit of a moral panic? We'll guess it possibly was—and not long after, something similar happened.

Before long, comedians were soon mocking the widespread placement of "Baby on board" signs in the rear windows of cars. These signs suggested that it was OK to rear-end a car if no baby was present.

Was that episode a moral panic? As a courtesy, we'll vote no, but a genuine panic was coming on fast, with disastrous consequences.

We refer to the wave of cases in the late 1980s and 1990s in which day care workers were falsely accused of abusing children. The leading authority on the phenomenon describes it as "Day-care sex-abuse hysteria." Innocent people went to prison as a full-blown, genuine moral panic swept across the land.

We rarely hear about these remarkable cases any more. Our guess would be that it's a point of journalistic and national embarrassment. For that reason, the episode is best ignored, in spite of the lessons the episode can teach.

In the May 1990 Harper's, Dorothy Rabinowitz produced a brilliant piece of journalism in which she confronted this deeply consequential moral panic. (We believe this is the full original text.) She wrote about the Wee Care Nursery School case in Maplewood, New Jersey, a Salem Village-level travesty in which a young woman, Kelly Michaels, was initially sentenced to 47 years in prison.

(After Michaels had served five years, her conviction was overturned. Among other things, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that "the interviews of the children were highly improper and utilized coercive and unduly suggestive methods." These travesties occurred in other cases as this panic occurred.)

Rabinowitz's piece appeared beneath this headline in Harper's: "From the Mouths of Babes to a Jail Cell." She described the lunacy which had sent Michaels to prison. Along the way, she said this:
RABINOWITZ (5/90): We are a society that, every fifty years or so, is afflicted by some paroxysm of virtue—an orgy of self-cleansing through which evil of one kind or another is cast out. From the witch-hunts of Salem to the communist hunts of the McCarthy era to the current shrill fixation on child abuse, there runs a common thread of moral hysteria. After the McCarthy era, people would ask: But how could it have happened? How could the presumption of innocence have been abandoned wholesale? How did large and powerful institutions acquiesce as congressional investigators ran roughshod over civil liberties—all in the name of a war on communists? How was it possible to believe that subversives lurked behind every library door, in every radio station, that every two-bit actor who had belonged to the wrong political organization posed a threat to the nation's security?

Years from now people doubtless will ask the same questions about our present era—a time when the most improbable charges of abuse find believers; when it is enough only to be accused by anonymous sources to be hauled off by investigators; a time when the hunt for child abusers has become a national pathology.
A similar atmosphere exists in one or two of our current stampedes. Sadly, our upper-end journalists rarely display the requisite intellectual skills and moral perspectives which can help undermine such panics.

Concerning Roy Moore, we'll only say this. Based upon the ways they describe the accusations about Moore, many of our journalists seem more concerned about the dating than about the alleged assaults. We'll guess that this is related to a common human failing—to the interest in what might happen to one's own children or grandchildren, as opposed to what may have actually happened to somebody else.

The Post enabled this stampede with a rather peculiar initial report. From that day to this, journalists have often seemed to be more concerned with the idea that Moore dated teenagers than with the charge that he committed two criminal assaults. Somehow, Goldberg described both alleged assaults. Few other journalists, Parker included, have.

As with Patty Duke's famous hot dog, so too here—the thought that Ol' Roy dated teens has made them lose control! Inevitably, as part of their standard practice, our journalists took immediate steps to heighten the sense of outrage:

First, they barred use of the term "dated," substituting "pursued." The latter term sounds more menacing. It helps move the charge (and excitement) along.

Second, they adopted the use of term "pedophile." Have we learned nothing from Chuck Todd? By standard definitions, the term is inappropriate here, but it sounds extremely scary, so it's been widely used.

Their third move was most striking. Our journalists completely disappeared the mothers who had cheered Moore on. They didn't want the public to know that the mothers of the two teens in that first Post report hoped the dating might lead to marriage.

Just a guess! That isn't what they want for their own kids today, so they had to block the ugly thought. They had to take arms to defeat it.

Given the norms of the time and the place, the mothers of Gloria Thacker Deason and Debbie Wesson Gibson were thrilled that Moore was dating their teenage daughters, or so the women told the Washington Post.

It was right there in the Post's initial report. But from that day right through to this, we've never seen a single journalist mention that fact. As always happens in cases like this, this basic fact has been disappeared. Our "journalists" have all agreed that you must never hear it.

Why were those two Alabama mothers cheering Ol' Roy on? Tomorrow, we'll offer an information dump about dating and marriage practices during the era in question. For today, we'll only say these things:

Candidate Moore stands accused of two very serious crimes. Dating isn't one of those crimes. Just as a matter of fact, it wasn't a crime at all.

Goldberg had no trouble describing those alleged crimes. Two days later, Parker joined the long list of troubled practitioners who have had a very hard time explaining what Moore is accused of.

As scribes like Parker play this way, a basic fact remains—the mothers of those teenage girls were cheering Ol' Roy on as he dated their daughters way back when down there. Also this:

Elvis started dating Priscilla when she was 14 years old! Could that be some small part of this cultural tale, which took place long ago?

Tomorrow: Information dump! "The best love story, ever"

BREAKING: As usual, CNN does it again!

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2017

The Washington Post tries to cover:
Does CNN ever stop making these costly errors?

At New York Magazine,
Benjamin Hart seems to be mad at Donald J. Trump for cashing in on this latest blunder. He doesn't seem to be annoyed with CNN for its latest own-goal.

We first heard about this blunder in this transplendently murky news report in today's Washington Post. As we tried to puzzle out what had happened, we were struck by the way Rosalind Helderman was covering for CNN.

What happens within the mainstream press corps stays within the mainstream press corps! Having said that, does CNN ever stop delivering these gifts to Donald J. Trump?

THE PAROCHIALS: Even as young as 22!

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2017

Interlude—The parochial Post rolls on:
Will Roy Moore make it across the finish line in Alabama next Tuesday?

We can't tell you that! In all honesty, it would be fascinating to see him forced to defend his claims about Leigh Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson, who have accused him of assaulting them when they were 14 and 16 years old, in 1979 and 1977, when he was 32 and 30.

We would be very surprised if these accusations were false. Beyond that, Moore's current attempt to attack Nelson's credibility is especially ludicrous, though the Washington Post helping him out today with its inability to compose a sensible front-page headline.

(Front-page headline in today's Post: "Roy Moore accuser alters her account of inscription." While technically accurate, we'd say that headline displays extremely poor journalistic judgment.)

It would be fascinating to watch Ol' Roy attempt to address those accusations and defend his recent conduct. That said, we focus on press corps behavior here. How have they been behaving?

In our view, the Washington Post continues to display amazingly parochial behavior. We refer to part of Michael Scherer's front-page report today, the report which bears that unfortunate headline.

Corfman and Nelson have accused Moore of extremely serious, apparently criminal assaults. But at the parochial Washington Post, other "accusers" abound.

Let's try to stop judging Moore for an Alabama minute. Instead, let's consider the sophistication, or lack of same, of the highly parochial folk who keeping churning copy like this:
SCHERER (12/9/17): Six women have told The Post that Moore pursued them in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Five were teenagers at the time, and one was 22; Moore was in his early 30s. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said she was 14 and Moore was 32 when he took her to his house, gave her alcohol and touched her sexually.

Nelson's account has not been independently verified by The Post. But The Post did interview another accuser, Debbie Wesson Gibson, who shared a scrapbook from her senior year in high school containing a similar inscription and signature from Moore. His campaign has not specifically contested Gibson's account.
Say what? Did we miss this earlier? Has the Post ever reported the "accusation" that Moore "pursued" someone who was 22 when he himself was 30 years old, or perhaps somewhat older?

We were puzzled by that statement—but as it turns out, we didn't exactly miss it. Presumably, Scherer is referring to a woman named Becky Gray, who says Moore asked her out on several occasions in 1977, when he was 30 and she was 22.

We were able to revisit Gray's claim after firing up the Nexis. In this November 16 report, Gray was quoted telling the Post that Moore asked her out so many times that he made her uncomfortable. Forty years later, this is offered as conduct which should help a voter decide how to vote next week.

Does that journalistic judgment make sense? Should people vote against a 70-year-old candidate because someone who supports his opponent says he made her uncomfortable in 1977, when he was 30 years old and she was 22?

Does Gray's account help establish a pattern of conduct by the 30-year-old Moore? Does it make sense to toss this off in a major newspaper in the way Scherer does?

These are all matters of judgment. For our money, we think the journalism is strange when readers are told, without any surrounding context, that a male candidate once "pursued" a woman who was 22, full and complete freaking stop.

Especially before we turned to Nexis, that struck us as very strange writing. That said, at times of moral panic, everything seems to make sense.

Everything will seem to make sense at times of moral panic! That includes Scherer's additional claim, the claim that Debbie Wesson Gibson is one of Moore's "accusers"—that she is "accusing" him of some sort of misconduct during that distant era.

Is Gibson accusing Moore of past misconduct? We'd have to say she is not! But that is where the charge of parochialism comes in.

Corfman and Nelson are accusing Moore of criminal assaults. Gibson is "accusing" Moore of dating her in an open fashion, with her mother's enthusiastic approval, in a way which left her feeling that Moore was "one of the nicest people I know."

Does that sound like an "accusation?" It pretty much doesn't to us!

As part of Gibson's "accusation," she recently told the Post that she'd held Moore "in high esteem" for forty years, until recent weeks. She told the Post that she'd always considered her brief dating relationship with Moore to have been "a very lovely part of my past."

Does that sound like an "accusation?" At a time of moral panic, pretty much everything does! To parochial people on a stampede, Gibson's account of "a very lovely part of my past" starts sounding like Corfman's and Nelson's descriptions of criminal assaults!

When journalists stampede in such ways, they help us see their vast limitations. These limitations have helped create the current era, in which sentient beings are counting the days until the start of the conflagration which will be known, by future survivors, as "Mister Trump's War."

On Monday, we'll finish our recent award-winning series about dating and marriage patterns from the period in question. Almost surely, those patterns help explain why Debbie Gibson, and her mother, welcomed Moore's "pursuit" in an era the Post's parochial, unimpressive children may not understand.

The children are staging their latest stampede. They do this amazingly often.

Future anthropologists, living in caves, continue to tell us, in dreamlike visits, that this was the best our species was able to do. This is all our species was, these anthropologists keep telling us, reporting from the desolate years after Mister Trump's War.

On Monday, we'll execute a data dump concerning marriage patterns from the era in question. We'll postpone a fascinating discussion of age-and-sex in the cinema during the 1950s and early 1960s, the highly comical Hollywood era in which, to cite one abomination, poor Leslie Caron had to marry Maurice Chevalier in the Oscar-nominated film, Fanny.

(Caron was 30, playing 18. Chevalier was 73! But this was the way of this ridiculous Tinseltown era, in which young and young-seeming female stars—Caron, Reynolds, Novak, Loren, Audrey Hepburn and others—were repeatedly forced to hook up in major films with a crusty battalion of aging "old coot" male stars.)

Hollywood's male moguls were dreaming big dreams during that ridiculous era, the era in which the mothers who later cheered Moore on were forming their cultural notions! We'll tell that ridiculous, instructive story at some not-too-distant date, hopefully next Saturday.

On Monday, we'll talk about actual marriage patterns from the era in question. Was it strange when Ol' Roy Moore, age 30 or so, dated younger women? Truth to tell, stampedes to the side, it seems to us that it probably wasn't real strange at all. This may explain why at least two mothers were cheering him on, the fact which can't say its name.

Corfman and Nelson have made real accusations. By way of contrast, Gibson has said that she held Moore in high esteem! But at the Post, it all sounds the same. This is the way of panics.

When our journalists start lumping everyone in, people on The Other Team find ways to allege fake news. As our journalists stampede ahead, can anybody actually say that The Others are totally wrong?

At present, Moore seems to be lying through his teeth. At the same time, we'd say the Post is on its latest stampede.

The Post directs us, often stupidly, to focus on decades-old conduct where the facts will be extremely hard to resolve. In the process, it steers us away from Moore's ludicrous behavior as a public official, conduct the Post may find less exciting because the one thing to which its scribes can relate isn't directly involved.

The children want to stampede about sex. According to major anthropologists, this is the way of our kind.

The dance of the major male moguls: The horrifically bad major film, Daddy Long Legs, helped capture this ludicrous Hollywood era.

The film appeared in 1955. Fred Astaire was 56. Leslie Caron was 24, playing 18 in the film.

Everyone knows what had to occur! The leading authority on the unwatchable film describes its plot line as follows:
Wealthy American Jervis Pendleton III (Fred Astaire) has a chance encounter at a French orphanage with a cheerful 18-year-old resident, Julie Andre (Leslie Caron). He anonymously pays for her education at a New England college. She writes letters to her mysterious benefactor regularly, but he never writes back. Her nickname for him, "Daddy Long Legs", is taken from the description of him given to Andre by some of her fellow orphans who see his shadow as he leaves their building.

Several years later, he visits her at school, still concealing his identity. Despite their large age difference, they fall in love.
Of course! What else could happen? And trust us—it's even worse on the screen! Adding to the lunacy is this account from the leading authority:

"The film was one of Astaire's personal favorites, largely due to the script, which, for once, directly addresses the complications inherent in a love affair between a young woman and a man thirty years her senior."

Thirty years her senior? On the screen, it looks like a hundred!

Hollywood's ludicrous alpha males continued this delusional nonsense for a great many years. As they did, Americans were possibly forming their notions about sensible ages for dating and marriage.

At least two mothers cheered Ol' Roy on! Why the Boot Hill did they do that?