THE PAROCHIALS: From milk carton kids to teenage dates!


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!


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!


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?

BREAKING: Thoughts achieved during jury duty!


Cultural revolution accomplished:
Thoughts achieved during a long, leisurely day of jury duty:

RE revolutionary heroine Gillibrand and the way these "revolutions of the saints" work:

1) First, our moral leaders do and say nothing whatsoever about the mammoth moral crisis, even in the face of harassment pay-outs taking place under their noses and very much on their watch.

2) Then, they stage their heroic Cultural Revolution. All offenses must be viewed the same; all accusers must be believed. All offenders must leave the stage right now, if not a few minutes sooner.

There is no time for assessment or judgment. A great stampede is on!

Fatuous pundits cheer them on. "Watershed moment" accomplished!

That said, also this: Ruth Marcus spots the problems with this familiar behavior pattern in today's Washington Post. Along the way, she did feel the need to heap the requisite words of praise on Our Own Chairman Mao.

We humans simply aren't smart. The exercise of judgment isn't our typical tendency. Future anthropologists told us this, right there in the jury room, in something which almost resembled a dream as we briefly nodded off.

(It's all anthropology now! They keep telling us that they're living in caves in the aftermath of Mr. Trump's War. "Yes, but what about 'the resistance?'" So we've often said.)

BREAKING: Award-winning jury pool assembled!


No fish today:
We've been summoned to jury duty. We'll have no fish today.

This is what slippery language looks like!


That said, we don't know the truth:
If you've never grabbed a person's keister, it isn't real hard to say that.

If you've never cupped a woman's breast, it's easy to say that too.

We don't know what actually happened, or didn't happen, in the now-famous cases involving Al Franken. We do know slippery language when we see it—for instance, when we see this:
FRANKEN (12/7/17): Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others, I remember very differently. I said at the outset that the ethics committee was the right venue for these allegations to be heard and investigated and evaluated on their merits, that I was prepared to cooperate fully and that I was confident in the outcome.
Uh-oh! The highlighted statement leaves open a third possibility:

"Some of the allegations against me are in fact perfectly true."

Some people may have missed the fact that Franken left open that third possibility. But as he continued, so did the slippery language. To watch the full statement, click this:
FRANKEN (continuing directly): You know an important part of the conversation we've been having the last few months has been about how men abuse their power and privilege to hurt women. I am proud that during my time in the Senate I have used my power to be a champion of women. And that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside everyday. I know there's been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am.
Uh-oh! "I know who I really am" doesn't speak to the question of what you might really have done in the instances being alleged.

Finally, this:
FRANKEN (continuing directly): Serving in the United States Senate has been the great honor of my life. I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator—nothing—has brought dishonor on this institution, and I am confident that the ethics committee would agree.

Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.
He knows in his heart that nothing he has done as a senator has brought dishonor on the institution? We're prepared to assume that's true. But uh-oh! [All but two of t]he allegations concern alleged conduct when he wasn't a senator. Meanwhile, did any of the alleged incidents involve conduct "as" a senator?

We don't know what Franken did or didn't do. We're appalled by Senator Gillibrand's transparent conduct a great deal more. We think the insistence that he quickly resign was just the latest stampede among a set of elites who truly seem to know no other mode of conduct.

Having said that, let us also say this. We think the country can survive many types of misconduct more easily than it can survive the constant, unending, slippery language which is directed at regular people by our big major potent thought leaders.

We've always thought Franken was very smart. Smart people know how to evade—how to treat regular people like a ship of fools.

We don't know what actually happened in the cases under review. We actually do know how to read English. As Senator Ervin once observed, it's our mother tongue.

The craziness of the undiscussed Moore!


Anderson Cooper remembers:
Ever since the stampede began, Roy Moore has been discussed within one context only.

Pundits have staged pleasing, but often incoherent, discussions of various sexy-time matters, including the fact that he married a woman who was only 24. The craziness of Moore's public career has gone almost wholly undiscussed.

Roy Moore's Big Crazy has been forgotten. Last night, like Pepperidge Farm, Anderson Cooper remembered.

Through some miracle, Cooper was granted a long interview with Janet Porter, a Moore campaign spokeswoman. For various reasons, the interview was unsatisfying—Porter evaded every question; Cooper interrupted too much—but the format let Cooper take us back through Moore's greatest Big Crazy hits.

Because our pundit corps simply luvvvs sex, none of these questions have been discussed in the past month. The Alabama candidate's Big Crazy has gone unexplored. For the record, here are some of the questions Cooper asked:
COOPER: He violated state and federal regulations, and he was removed from the Supreme Court for that, and then four years later he misled the judges by saying he didn't order probate judges not to marry same-sex couples. They said he was essentially lying.

COOPER: He said that those judges were radical homosexuals and transgendered activists. Do you really believe that the judges on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary are radical homosexuals and transgendered people?

COOPER: Does Judge Moore still believe that homosexual conduct should be illegal and that homosexuality is still the same thing as bestiality?

COOPER: Does he still believe that 9/11 may have happened because, "We distanced ourselves from God?" That's what he said in the past. Does he still believe this?

COOPER: Does he still believe an American citizen who's a Muslim should not be able to serve in Congress?

COOPER: Does he still believe that communities in the U.S. are being ruled by Sharia Law as he did in the past?...He said there were actually communities that are being run by Sharia Law. Does he still believe that?

COOPER: Does he still believe Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States?

COOPER: Does he still believe that the U.S. has become the focus of the evil in the world because the U.S. promotes things, in his words, like same-sex marriage?
How about it? Does Roy Moore still believe that the United States is the focus of evil in the world? Because of our exciting panic, the public has been kept from hearing that Roy Moore actually said that.

Porter kept evading those questions last night. We thought these questions should be reproduced just to create a record.

Ever since November 10, our reporters and pundits have conducted a moral stampede concerning alleged behavior by Moore from the late 1970s. Granted, these topics are very exciting because they involve highly exciting sexy-time sex topics, with plenty of teenage dating thrown in!

The corporate suits who foul your world simply luvvv these exciting discussions—discussions where the actual facts are extremely hard to determine. In the process, the public has been kept from hearing about the crazy public behavior of the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama.

Also this:

The GOP tax proposal has been moving through the Congress while we hysterics focus on Moore's forty-year-old dating behavior, which is often described in blatantly distorted ways. Somewhat similarly, George W. Bush got elected while the press corps spent two years inventing crazy statements by Candidate Gore.

People are dead all over the world because the press corps conducted that earlier scam/entertainment/payback. But so what? As part of our species' extremely low intellectual and moral capabilities, this is the way our corporate press corps prefers to play the game.

Lawrence praised Jack, while battering Roy for marrying such a young wife! Upstairs, the suits who covered for Lauer and Weinstein set up a very loud cheer.

Do you think this isn't the way it works? Who's naive now, Kay?

Despite what you hear from the Washington Post, where the only thing that counts is the dating, Moore has been charged, by two women, with two acts of sexual assault in 1979. Earth to "press corps:"

It's possible to discuss that fact while also discussing the blatant craziness of Moore's ridiculous public career.

Our cable pundits haven't done that. The suits don't want them to do that.

They prefer that we stick with the sex. While we're at it, let's all pretend that we're in a "watershed moment!"

THE PAROCHIALS: Elizabeth Taylor, age 18!


Part 2—Mothers of convention:
Long ago and far away, Elizabeth Taylor delivered a speech to Spencer Tracy in a semi-iconic film.

She delivered it in the 1950 film, Father of the Bride. She was 18 years old at the time.

It was in this year that Taylor made her wildly successful transition to adult film roles. This is what she said to Tracy, who had been cast as her father:

"Now listen, Pops. I'm 20 and Buckley's 26, and we're grown people."

Again, the year was 1950. Taylor, 18 in real life, was playing 20 in the film. Her character was going to marry 26-year-old Buckley Dunstan, who she said was "a wonderful businessman."

She was going to marry at 20. She was telling her fretful father that there'd be no turning back. Along the way, she told him his concern about age was hopelessly old-fashioned:
TRACY: I didn't marry your mother till I was 25.

TAYLOR: I know, but that was millions of years ago.
To peruse the script, click here.

Did we mention the fact that the year was 1950? In that year, the average age of first marriage for American women was 20.3 years of age.

That average age is much higher today—it seems to have been 27 as of 2013—but that was the state of American culture in the postwar years. Indeed, by 1970, the average age of first marriage for a women had only risen to 20.8 years of age.

According to our analysts, that means that roughly half of American women were even younger than that when they first got married! Several may have been as young as 19!

We mention these facts for a reason. Recently, our intellectually moribund upper-end "press corps" has been mired its latest moral panic. Sadly, the parochialism of these people has long been an existential threat to people all over the world.

Our journalists rarely bring a sense of historical context to their panics, or to their resulting stampedes. It seems to us that this latest panic helps us consider the way these upper-end "thought leaders" work.

Many have gone to the finest schools. Routinely, though, their work is dumbfoundingly poor. In what follows, we attempt to assess our American press corps, not the people about whom they write, including Alabama's Roy Moore.

Concerning Moore, a moral panic is currently underway among our American pundits. The panic has routinely led to work like that shown below. It comes from a front page report in today's Washington Post.

In today's report, Elise Viebeck is reporting on the calls for Al Franken to resign from the Senate. Along the way, she discusses the accusations against Roy Moore.

Incredibly, Viebeck wrote the passage shown below, or maybe her editor did it. Whoever actually typed it out, this is the fruit of a panic:
VIEBECK (12/7/17): The drive to purge Franken, coming a day after Rep. John Con­yers Jr. (D-Mich.) resigned under pressure in the House, was a dramatic indication of the political toxicity that has grown around the issue of sexual harassment in recent months.

It also stood as a stark—and deliberate—contrast with how the Republicans are handling a parallel situation in Alabama, where Roy Moore, their candidate for U.S. Senate in next week’s special election, is accused by women of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Say what? Is Moore accused of "pursuing" women when they were teenagers? In fact, he stands accused of assaulting two teenagers, in ways which would presumably be criminal.

Roy Moore stands accused of assaulting two teenagers. That said, at the Washington Post, it seems to be the dating which has the scribes upset.

On Tuesday night, it was associate editor David Swerdlick who complained about the dating, speaking weirdly to CNN's Don Lemon. This morning, it's Viebeck who skips past the alleged assaults. According to future anthropologists in the years after Mr. Trump's War, this is what happens within our species when we go on our moral stampedes.

This is what happens when our species stages its moral panics! We can no longer see the forest for the scraggly ground cover. We lose all sense of moral perspective. We become unable to think.

Within our floundering upper-end press corps, even scribes from the finest schools fail to consider the cultural context of the conduct they condemn. In this report, and in the several reports to follow, we examine this highly parochial conduct by our upper-end press.

(Viebeck graduated from Claremont McKenna, class of 2009. Swerdlick graduated from Cal in 1992, with a later law degree from Chapel Hill. Despite their degrees, they can't seem to grasp the type of misconduct of which Moore stands accused.)

Today, we begin by considering a fact which our scribes have disappeared. This fact was spelled out, loud and clear, in the initial Washington Post report on this topic. But because it undercuts the stampede, the fact has been disappeared.

The fact in question has been disappeared. Returned from the dead, here it is:
When Moore dated several teenagers way back then, their mothers cheered him on!
Their mothers loved Roy Moore! According to that initial Post report, Gloria Thacker Deason dated Moore for several months in 1979. He was 32 years old. She turned 19 during this period.

Deason's mother urged her on. “My mom was really, really strict and my curfew was 10:30 but she would let me stay out later with Roy,” Deason told the Washington Post. "She thought he was good husband material.”

Deason's mother hoped the dating might lead to a first marriage! That said, Debbie Wesson Gibson's mother may have felt the same way.

Gibson dated Moore for several months in 1981, when she was 17 and he was 34. “I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world," she quoted her mother saying with respect to Ol' Roy's attentions.

In a recent report in the Washington Post, Gibson described the high esteem in which she held Moore for years after their dating ended—years in which she and her family exchanged Christmas cards with Moore. But according to Swerdlick, Moore stands accused of this outrageous dating, not of the alleged assaults!

These basic facts were sitting right there in that first Post report. In part for that reason, we'd say the Post displayed peculiar journalistic judgment in linking these accounts of dating to the allegation that Moore molested a 14-year-old girl during this same time period.

Did the fact that he dated someone 19 support the claim that he molested someone five years younger? The pathway to panic was already there as the Post decided to float this highly tendentious connection.

From that day forward, the fact that the mothers cheered Moore on has been completely disappeared. Indeed, in the thousands of hours of thrilling discussion we've watched on cable and broadcast TV, we've never seen a single pundit mention this basic fact.

You haven't seen anyone mention that basic either! But then, our "press corps" always invents or disappears facts when a stampede is on.

Why were those mothers in love with Roy Moore? In part, we'll guess the answer might start with Elizabeth Taylor telling her father, in that film, that he was old-fashioned to think that 20 might be too young to marry.

Moore's teenage dates were born around 1960. Their mothers would have been born even earlier than that, perhaps around 1940.

Their values and outlooks would have been formed during that cultural era. Women married very young—and Hollywood kept suggesting, in its private conduct and up on the screen, that these very young women should maybe perhaps and possibly hook up with older men.

This history is highly amusing, and it's sadly instructive. This history is also interesting, something we can't say for the panics our "journalists" frequently stage.

Before we close today, we should probably mention this:

In that very same year, 1950, Elizabeth Taylor married for the first time. She was 18 years old. Her husband, Conrad Hilton, Jr., was 24.

Two years later, she married again. This time, she was 20 years old. Her new husband, actor Michael Wilding, was already 40.

This was the prevailing culture. As we'll see in future reports, this sort of thing wasn't hugely unusual as the mothers who loved Ol' Roy were themselves coming of age.

Back to the present! Our deeply unimpressive corporate pundits have staged many panics in the past thirty years. Some of their most disgraceful panics have led to death all over the world.

The current panic is stupid and sad. The history, though, is highly amusing—also, sadly instructive.

In closing, let's restate that basic fact. Roy Moore stands accused of two criminal assaults. Except in the prehuman upper-end press corps, where he's accused of dating!

Future anthropologists weep as they see how we came to Trump's War.

Coming, though we may have jury duty tomorrow: Frank and Mia; Jack and Jackie, and Hitchcock's films; the fellow Judy married first, after Artie Shaw married Lana when she was 18; also, "the best love story, ever."

Also much, much more! Unlike the work of our upper-end press, the history here is highly instructive, and it's sadly amusing.

THE PAROCHIALS: They strongly urged their daughters to date!


Interlude—The mothers get disappeared:
When we humans stage our moral panics, our limited intellectual skills tend to fail completely.

So it has been in the Roy Moore case, where major corporate-owned journalists have had a very hard time describing the charge with which Moore stands accused.

Of what does Moore stand accused? Last evening, on CNN Tonight, the Washington Post's David Swerdlick—and no, we kid you not—described Moore as "someone who's alleged to be a serial dater of teenagers."

An assistant editor at the Washington Post actually told Don Lemon that! Moore stands accused of "dating teenagers" when Swerdlick tells the tale.

The assistant editor didn't mention the two alleged sexual assaults of which Moore stands accued. And then, good grief!
When Lemon tried to help him out, this odd exchange occurred:
LEMON (12/5/17): You're being kind with "a serial dater." Because there was one woman who said she, at the time she was 14, and he went beyond just—


SWERDLICK: Yes, just to be clear, he's accused of at least one crime in one instance.

How hard is it to keep track of the number of alleged assaults? Sadly, when corporate journalists stage a panic, they routinely have trouble keeping track of even the most basic facts.

Lemon seemed to think that we're dealing with one alleged assault. Even as he tried "to be clear," Swerdlick did little better. But then, our pundits are skilled at reciting standard group scripts. They tend to remarkably weak on their basic facts, as CNN contributor Ana Navarro demonstrated just a bit later.

Later in that 10 PM hour, Navarro, spouting her standard colorful insults, offered this peculiar account of yesterday's front-page report in the Washington Post. As she did, the analysts groaned, then covered their ears:
NAVARRO: The only thing that has changed in the last three weeks is that more women have come out. In fact, another one came out today in Florida, who had a card, when she was a teenager, that he signed to her. More and more women have come out in the last three weeks.
Navarro seemed to be referring to Debbie Wesson Gibson, who was the focus of yesterday's front-page report in the Post. That said, Gibson isn't "another woman" who has "come out in the past three weeks." She was part of the Post's original, November 10 report about Moore's past behavior.

Gibson's account of dating Moore was a basic part of the very first report about this matter. Was Navarro aware of this fact?
To appearances, she didn't know that. But then, with amazing regularity, corporate pundits betray ignorance of the most basic facts when they stage their panics. So it was in Salem Village. So it is today.

Of what does Moore stand accused? Swerdlick's account was extremely peculiar last night. One night earlier, Rachel Maddow had continued the long struggle she has maintained with this vexing question.

We'd say that Maddow did better than Swerdlick. Still, we found this weirdly unclear:
MADDOW (12/4/17): Also, the U.S. Senate race, which is going to take place one week from tomorrow in Alabama. Today the president abandoned all pretense and explicitly endorsed the Republican candidate in that race, who has been accused by multiple women of having either sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers and when now-candidate Roy Moore was a grown man in his 30s.
According to Maddow, Moore "has been accused by multiple women of having either sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers and when...Moore was a grown man."

Without any doubt, two women have said that Moore sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers. Those are very serious charges—and two can be thought of as "multiple" in and of itself.

That said, who are the women who have said that Moore "sexually harassed them" when they were teenagers? Was Maddow referring to the teenage women Moore dated at that time, the ones who have Swerdlick so upset?

More specifically, was Maddow referring to Gibson, who has described the high esteem in which she held Moore when the two were dating, and for years thereafter? Gibson is the woman concerning whom Navarro seemed confused. Is she one of the people Maddow thinks was "harassed?"

Alas! Our pundits have had a very hard time describing the accusation against Moore. As we noted yesterday, Lawrence O'Donnell extended the panic to the point where he smarmily complained, for several nights, about the fact that Moore married a woman who was 24 when he was 38.

Two nights later, Lawrence wept about President Kennedy, our dear departed Jack. But as we noted yesterday, he married a woman who was 24 when he was 36!

In fairness, Lawrence wasn't the first to advance this deeply intrusive complaint about Moore's troubling marriage, which has lasted some 32 years. Weeks earlier, Slate's Will Saletan, who isn't crazy, initiated this indictment, going beyond even Lawrence in his Dimmesdalian bill of particulars:
SALETAN (11/14/17): “I’ve been married to my wife, Kayla, for nearly 33 years.” Moore presents this as proof of his character. But do the math. Thirty-three years ago, when they met, Moore was 38, and his wife-to-be was 24. That’s a difference of 14 years, roughly the same age gap his accusers describe. Kayla Moore’s bio also mentions that she had “previously been named Miss Alabama US Teen 2nd Runner up.” Moore didn’t just date pretty women who were 14 years his junior. He married one.
Lawrence is nutty; Saletan isn't. But when our species enters a panic, even people who are sane may author accusations like this, in which Saletan would frog-march Moore away for having dared to marry someone conventionally pretty!

It's all athropology now! As we wait for Donald J. Trump to launch his nuclear war, we no longer see any reason to try to steer the nation's "journalists" toward more rational practices.

As we wait for Trump to act, we're channeling future anthropologists, most likely from other planets, who will describe the behaviors of the species which brought that war to pass.

Those anthropologists will note the way our species' extremely limited intellectual skills would tend to disappear altogether at times of moral panic. In footnotes, they might marvel at outliers like Karissa Fenwick, who writes an extremely intelligent column in today's Washington Post.

Fenwick is a graduate student in social work at USC—Southern Cal. She has brought an harassment complaint against an academic mentor.

In tdoay's column,
Fenwick does something extremely intelligent—right in her headline, she invites the world to "question my story." With extreme wisdom, she says this process might help create the type of discussion we very much need at this time.

Fenwick could never be a journalist; she's far too wise for that. At times like these, our journalists tend to do something quite different—they tend to disappear, embellish or invent facts to drive their panics along.

In the current panic, a basic fact has been disappeared. Here it is:
According to the Washington Post, two mothers of the teenagers Moore dated cheered the relationship on!
We've never seen a cable pundit mention this basic fact—and you've never seen that either. This fact has been thoroughly disappeared, enabling panicky complaints like the one Swerdlick issued last night.

Moore did date several teenagers—Gibson was 17, another young woman was 19—but were they being "harassed?" Given the mores of the place and time, should people like Swerdlick be staging stampedes about those troubling events?

Parochials like our corporate journalists will serve you the facts and the stories they like. They'll disappear the facts they don't like. Tomorrow, we'll start doing something different.

Following in the shoes of Fenwick, we'll suggest that you use better sense. As we wait for Mr. Trump's war, we'll suggest you consider the cultural context surrounding the past events of this pleasing group panic.

Two women have accused Moore of committing sexual assaults. They've made very serious charges. It isn't hard to remember that number. It isn't hard to cite these extremely serious accusations first.

The women Roy Moore dated back then have made no such claims. Tomorrow, we'll start to ponder the cultural context surrounding those relationship, which left Gibson holding Moore in the highest esteem.

This may explain the world views of those women's mothers—even of Moore himself.

None of this "matter" at this point as we wait for Trump to strike. But the story we tell will at least be interesting about the American past.

We think this cultural history is interesting and instructive. Our modern "journalists"—panicky, corporate, scripted, inane—fall far short of that.

Tomorrow: "The best love story, ever"

Sam Seder gets the axe from the suits!


What these life forms are like:
Sam Seder has been given the axe by the suits at NBC News. For Kevin Drum's account, click this. At the Washington Post, Erik Wemple gives a slightly fuller account.

Seder has been given the axe for an ironic remark in September 2009. It's obvious what his actual point of view was. Kevin Drum totes up the scorecard:
DRUM (12/5/17): Let’s tote up the scorecard here. NBC News passed on the Harvey Weinstein story. They harbored a sexual abuser for years even though “everyone knew” what Matt Lauer was up to. Ditto for Mark Halperin.

But thanks to the demands of a lunatic conservative, they cut off Sam Seder for a single lame joke made on Twitter in 2009. What the hell is in the water these days at 30 Rock?
In fact, NBC's history of broken-souled gender politics runs much, much deeper than that. What is in the water these days? In fact, it's been there for many years.

NBC's history of gender politics runs much deeper than that. So does the liberal world's history of agreeing not to notice the overt, on-the-air misogyny of big stupid "cable news" stars like Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and a legion of supporting players.

Conducted over many years, their overt misogyny surely helped defeat Hillary Clinton last year. Year after year after year after year, the career liberal world agreed not to notice, or discuss, what these stars were doing.

Dearest darlings, use your heads! That could have been bad for careers!

Olbermann's "misogyny" was in fact explicitly discussed in the (private) Journolist discussions. But the fiery liberals weren't willing to discuss his horrid conduct out in the open air.

Today, Matthews is Rachel's favorite analyst. She told us that she loves Greta too—Greta, the Birther King's leading enabler at Fox during the birther years.

As for the cable and network suits, the dumping of Seder represents the full extent of their moral and intellectual emptiness.
As we've told you for many years, these life forms are barely human in any recognizable sense. Their emptiness explains the stupid shit you've seen from their cable divisions over these many years, including all the stupid shit you're served on MSNBC.

That stupid shit is making money. Attempts at journalism or moral reasoning will pretty much end right there.

This is who and what they are. This is all they are.

We've been writing about this problem with NBC's gender politics since early 1999. We proved one thing during those years—you can't get the others to speak.

Your extra-credit questions: Lawrence worked in Hollywood for many years.

He's extremely pure today, but did he know about Harvey Weinstein? Assuming there's no chance he didn't, how did our Dimmesdale react?

One consequence of moral panic!


Extremely weak skills break down:
Katie Van Syckle is night editor at The Cut, a New York Magazine blog about "Style, Self, Culture, Power."

She graduated from Dartmouth in 2005.

Dartmouth is a major upper-end college. New York Magazine is a major upper-end publication. That said, here's the way Van Syckle began last evening's report about Roy Moore:
VAN SYCKLE (12/4/17): Eight women have accused Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct.

Moore has denied their claims, and on November 29th: “I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.”

But now, one of the women, Debbie Wesson Gibson, has shared new evidence with the Washington Post that Moore did know her, and they had a relationship. Gibson said she briefly dated and consensually kissed Moore when she was 17 and he was 34. She said she came forward after watching Moore repeatedly lie about their relationship.
Truly, we'd call that astounding. Here's what New York Magazine has now said:

According to Van Syckle, eight women "have accused [Moore] of sexual misconduct."

One of the eight is Debbie Wesson Gibson. According to Van Syckle, this is her "accusation:"

"Gibson said she briefly dated and consensually kissed Moore when she was 17 and he was 34."

Is that a description of "sexual misconduct?" We include a point from the original November 10 Post report, in which Gibson said her mother knew about the dating relationship and enthusiastically approved.

“I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world,” she quoted her mother saying, back when the "sexual misconduct" was going on.

Van Syckle was attempting to summarize today's front-page report in the Washington Post, in which Gibson describes her long-ago interactions with Moore in these ways:
MCCRUMMEN (12/5/17): As Gibson previously told The Post, she said that she and Moore dated for a couple of months. She said he kissed her by the swimming pool concession stand at a local country club, that he played his guitar and read his own poetry to her, and that things ended when she went off to college in another part of Alabama, though they still kept in touch.

She said she helped Moore when he was campaigning for circuit court judge in 1982,
and remembers tucking fliers under windshield wipers at the Kmart parking lot.

She said that when she became engaged, Moore insisted on meeting her fiance to make sure he was “good enough for me.” She said that when Moore was first appointed as a circuit court judge in 1992, she sent him a gavel engraved with his name and a congratulatory note and that her family and his exchanged Christmas cards some years.

She said that she held Moore “in high esteem,” despite political differences with him, until she began hearing stories from other women who alleged that Moore pursued them as teenagers. She said that at first she did not want to believe the women.

“It takes what I thought was a very lovely part of my past, and it colors it, and it changes it irrevocably,” she said. “It changes it permanently.”
Which part of that sounds like a description of "sexual misconduct?" We further note that, in the original November 10 Post report, Gibson said her mother knew about the dating relationship and enthusiastically approved.

“I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world,” she quoted her mother saying, back when the "sexual misconduct" was going on. Elsewhere in today's Post report, Gibson describes the high esteem in which she held Moore in real time and in the years which followed their several months of dating.

Has Gibson actually accused Moore of "sexual misconduct?" Two other women plainly have; they've said they were assaulted by Moore in ways which seem to be criminal. But unless we're in a moral panic, does it really make sense to lump Gibson's story in with theirs?

It's all anthropology now! In truth, our frequently self-impressed species just isn't especially "rational." Especially at times of moral panic, we tend to stampede in the other direction, hard and fast, spewing cant as we go.

Anthropologcally speaking, we think it's amazing that a journalist twelve years out of Dartmouth could have written last night's report for a news org like New York Magazine.

That said, we were also struck by Stephanie McCrummen's weird formulations in this morning's Post report. For one example, let's look at this passage again:
MCCRUMMEN: [Gibson] said that she held Moore “in high esteem”...until she began hearing stories from other women who alleged that Moore pursued them as teenagers. She said that at first she did not want to believe the women.

“It takes what I thought was a very lovely part of my past, and it colors it, and it changes it irrevocably,” she said. “It changes it permanently.”
Does that make a lick of sense? According to McCrummen's formulation, Gibson had always held Moore in high esteem until—presumably in recent weeks—"she began hearing stories from other women who alleged that Moore pursued them as teenagers."

The word "pursued" is doing a lot of work in that puzzling passage. Yesterday, we warned you about the ubiquitous use of that all-encompassing, menacing word in reports about Moore.

To us, that murky passage by McCrummen doesn't exactly make sense. Why would Gibson lose her sense of esteem for Moore when she heard that he had "pursued" other women? We're missing the logic there.

Does that passage really mean something different? Does it really mean that Gibson held Moore in high esteem until she began hearing stories from other women who alleged that Moore assaulted them?

That formulation would make perfect sense. Is that what Gibson actually said? We ask because McCrummen's presentation is hard to follow, here and in other places in her new report.

At times of moral panic, the meager rational skills of our species tend to break down. This breakdown has happened all over the press and pundit corps as Moore's distant past conduct is being assessed.

Two women have accused Moore of extremely serious criminal sexual assaults, but Gibson isn't one of those women. Except at times of moral panic, how hard is that to report?

Coming tomorrow: Starting tomorrow, we'll be explaining some of the cultural context within which these events took place forty years ago.

Some of our journalists are highly parochial. They may have gone to the finest schools, but their basic savvy quotients are extremely low, especially at times of tribal panic.

Two women have accused Moore of serious crimes. Would you count Gibson among them? In what type of Salem Village does that notion make sense?

“I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world.” Starting tomorrow, we'll be explaining why her mother said that.

THE PAROCHIALS: The case of Roy Moore's troubling marriage!


Part 1—Our own Dimmesdale disapproves:
On Friday evening, November 17, Lawrence O'Donnell got a snootful and began revealing himself as perhaps a bit of a Dmmesdale—and, perhaps, as one of our legion of pseudo-liberal parochials.

In a well-known book you read in high school, Dimmesdale thundered against Hester Prynne. Lawrence now thundered against the conduct of Roy Moore.

There's a great deal to criticize in the realm of Roy Moore's public conduct. Routinely, Moore's public conduct has proven too extreme even for Alabama conservative elites, as well as for substantial numbers of Alabama Republican voters.

Beyond that, several women have made very serious accusations against Moore, accusing him of serious sexual misconduct in 1979. But these matters weren't enough for our own Dimmesdale this night.

On this night, our Dimmesdale decided to voice his disapproval of Moore's 32-year marriage.

People like Lawrence will always engage in this sort of behavior. Despite their powerful moral intentions, they've stained the history of our highly sub-rational species down through the annals of time.

Our Dimmesdale got a good snootful this night. After that, he rose in the pulpit, offering this astounding complaint at the start of a segment:
O`DONNELL (11/17/17): When Roy Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, he was reportedly constantly trying to date teenage girls who were at least 14 years younger than he was, and one who was only 14 years old.

And when he was 38 years old, Roy Moore actually succeeded in marrying a woman who was 14 years younger.
As he opened his segment that night. Lawrence didn't mention the fact that Moore stood accused of assaulting two teenage girls. He seemed to be more upset by the fact that Moore had dated teenage girls—and that he'd even married someone fourteen years younger! Without first asking Lawrence!

At any rate, when Moore was 38 years old, he married someone who was 24! Our own Dimmesdale, astride the pulpit, seemed upset by this fact.

On Monday night, November 20, the Dimmesdale's attack continued. With the help of several smarmy guests, the smarmy fellow launched several attacks against Moore's troubling marriage.

As Moore tells the story, you see, he first set eyes on his wife at a junior college dance recital when she was 16 years old. Eight years later, he actually met her at a party. By now, she was a divorced, 24-year-old woman with one child.

He met her that night, and he married her; they've been married for 32 years. But on this particular Monday night, Lawrence delivered a lot of smarmy remarks about that troubling initial encounter.

As the Dimmesdales always are, Lawrence was deeply troubled. "He seems so comfortable with the idea that he met her so many years before, when she was 15 or 16 years old and in high school, at a dance recital," our own Dimmesdale complained. The smarmy remarks by Lawrence proceeded along from there.

In fairness, Lawrence had a lot of help that Monday night from several smarmy guests. That said, he seemed to be troubled by the fact that Moore is fourteen years older than his wife, to whom he's been married for 32 years.

This was smarmy enough by itself. But then, on Wednesday night, November 22, Lawrence staged a moving tribute to one of his tribe's greatest figures.

In his closing segment that night, Lawrence recalled the greatness of President Kennedy, known to his tribe as Dear Jack. He recalled the way the nuns helped himself, and the rest of the boys, deal with President Kennedy's murder in Dallas.

Do you mind if we quickly explain the way the minds of the Dimmesdales work? Let's start with Jack Kennedy's marriage.

When Jack Kennedy married Jackie, he was 36 years old. She was 24.

To a fellow like Lawrence, that 12-year difference is Camelot. The Moores' age difference—fourteen years—is a serious warning sign.

Might we mention something else? Moore stands credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl, and of violently attacking a second girl who was 16. (Warning: "Credible" doesn't mean "true.")

To Lawrence, this is, by law, extremely bad. On his program that Thanksgiving week, one guest even attacked Moore as a "bigoted child molester." Several of Lawrence's guests saw no need to say "accused!"

Moore stands credibly accused of serious misconduct. But might we mention something else? Jack Kennedy stands credibly accused of a sexual assault on a sexually inexperienced 19-year-old intern right there in the White House.

Dear Jack was 45. Mimi Alford was 19.

A few years ago, she told the story of that attack—essentially, of a repulsive procurement and rape—in a very well-written book. When Mimi Alford's book appeared, no one really seemed to doubt that her story was true. She received the inevitable sneering review in the New York Times.

(For People's report, click here.)

Lawrence is upset by what Moore is alleged to have done. Allegations against Dear Jack don't exist on his morally uplifting program.

In a somewhat similar vein, Lawrence is troubled by 14 years, perhaps enraptured by twelve.

This is the way the Dimmesdales work—the way they've always behaved. This helps explain why so many Alabamians will line up to vote for Moore next week.

Lawrence struck us as a Dimmesdale on those programs, a smarmy Dimmesdale at that. That said, we'd say that he's a parochial too. But what do we mean by that?

Tomorrow: "The best love story, ever"

FIRST ACCUSER IN: A long list of questions concerning Roy Moore!


And also, concerning ourselves:

Should Roy Moore have dated Gloria Deason in 1979, when she was 18, then 19, years old?

Should Deason's mother have thought that relationship was OK—indeed, was hugely desirable? Should she have hoped that Moore might end up marrying her daughter?

A few more questions for now:

If Alabama voters are trying to decide who to vote for next week, should they consider the fact that Moore, who has been married for 32 years, dated Deason for several months in 1979? Should that seem like a relevant fact?

And also this, a question about us:

Is it wise to build our politics around such questions as these?

In almost twenty years at this site, we've rarely asked such unusual questions. We ask them today because of the Washington Post's November 10 front-page report, in which Leigh Corfman became "first accuser in" with regard to Moore.

In that report, Corfman accused Moore of surreptitiously "dating" and then molesting her, back in 1979, when she was 14 years old.

That's a very serious charge. We now ask several more questions:

Does the apparent fact that Moore dated Deason that same year sensibly serve as "supporting evidence" with respect to that alleged very serious crime? If Moore dated someone who was 19 years old, would that tend to support the claim that he criminally assaulted someone else who was 14 years old?

Putting it a different way, should a sesnible voter consider Deason's report at all? Also, was it good journalistic practice when the Washington Post reported that Moore apparently dated some young women who were 17, 18 and 19 years old in such years as 1977 and 1979?

Roy Moore dated Deason in 1979! Once again, we present the Post's full account of the matter:
MCCRUMMEN, REINHARD AND CRITES (11/10/17): Gloria Thacker Deason says she was 18 and Moore was 32 when they met in 1979 at the Gadsden Mall, where she worked at the jewelry counter of a department store called Pizitz. She says she was attending Gadsden State Community College and still living at home.

"My mom was really, really strict and my curfew was 10:30 but she would let me stay out later with Roy," says Deason, who is now 57 and lives in North Carolina. "She just felt like I would be safe with him. . . . She thought he was good husband material."

Deason says that they dated off and on for several months and that he took her to his house at least two times. She says their physical relationship did not go further than kissing and hugging.

"He liked Eddie Rabbitt and I liked Freddie Mercury," Deason says, referring to the country singer and the British rocker.

She says that Moore would pick her up for dates at the mall or at college basketball games, where she was a cheerleader. She remembers changing out of her uniform before they went out for dinners at a pizzeria called Mater's, where she says Moore would order bottles of Mateus Rosé, or at a Chinese restaurant, where she says he would order her tropical cocktails at a time when she believes she was younger than 19, the legal drinking age.

"If Mother had known that, she would have had a hissy fit," says Deason, who says she turned 19 in May 1979, after she and Moore started dating.
Trigger warning! Given our knowledge of American culture, we don't find that report to be gigantically shocking. That said, we restate our basic question:

Almost forty years later, should a sensible voter consider that matter in deciding how to vote? Also, does the apparent fact that Moore dated Deason in 1979 actually support the claim that he criminally molested Corfman that same year? Or does that assessment perhaps represent a bit of a moral stampede?

We're inclined to ask those questions, and quite a few others, for several reasons. Let's start with this:

We can think of a million reasons why we ourselves wouldn't vote for Roy Moore. But how odd! We've rarely seen those reasons discussed in the last month.

Instead, we've seen endless discussions of matters like Moore's dates with Deason. And uh-oh! As is typically the case at such times, those discussions have often been less than fully edifying. Some basic facts have been massaged to support the interpretation our upper-end press corps prefers.

Alas! When our press corps stages stampedes, our journalists tend to disappear actual facts while also inventing bogus facts. Consider the current matter:

As if by rule of law, pundits have refused to say that Moore "dated" Eason (and other young women in their late teenage years) in 1979. Instead, reporters and pundits routinely say that say that he "pursued" these young women.

This word choice builds an air of menace around these past events. It has also produced some extremely peculiar accounts of the accusation with which Moore stands charged.

The word "dated" has been disappeared. Beyond that, we're fairly sure we've never seen a single pundit mention the fact that Deason's mother enthusiastically supported this romance, seeing it as a possible route to marriage.

Deason's mother "thought he was good husband material!" As if by rule of law, this fact has been disappeared when pundits and reporters pretend to discuss this topic.

Nor was it just Deason's mother. In the original Post report, the Post quoted a second woman saying she dated Moore at that time, when she was just 17. This second woman, Debbie Wesson Gibson, said her mother was over the moon about the fact that Moore was asking her daughter out.

“I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world,” Gibson says her mother told her.

These women didn't find it strange that Moore was dating their daughters. But as is typical when pundits stage their group stampedes, our pundits have completely disappeared this fact about the attitudes of these young women's mothers.

At times like these, our reporters and pundits virtually always behave this way. It seems to be a cultural imperative.

Our view? As a general matter, we don't think it's a great idea for women as young as 19 to get married. Beyond that, we don't think it's a great idea, as a general matter, for women who are 19 to date or marry men who are 32.

That said, the average age of first marriage for women was still 20.3 as of 1970. (It's much higher now.) Beyond that, the union of a younger woman with an older fellow was a bit of a cultural ideal in American popular culture during the decades in which the mothers of these young women formed their ideas on such matters. And as any number of insulting Hollywood films suggested, these cultural views may have been especially prevalent in the South.

We regard those as interesting anthropological facts. We also think the current stampede about Moore's dating behavior in 1979 is an interesting anthropological event, one which sheds a lot of light on the habits, behaviors and capabilities of us modern liberals.

Good God! Over the past thirty-plus years, while Moore has been married to his wife, we liberals have displayed an astonishing level of political incompetence. Among other thing, we've displayed amazingly little facility for discussing matters of substance.

Our haplessness has known no bounds. This helps explain how the Republican Congress can be on the verge of passing the tax bill they are currently moving, even as we focus on Moore's past dating behavior.

We liberals! Despite our persistent claims of intellectual and moral brilliance, we never quite got around to explaining how the Social Security trust fund works. For that reason, large percentages of Americans were declaring their belief that Social Security "wouldn't be there for them" as of the mid-1990s.

We've never bothered explaining our nation's astonishing level of health care spending. For that reason, this remarkable looting continues, victimizing red and blue voters alike.

We don't know how to discuss the progress displayed in the public schools, nor do we seem to care about such matters. Meanwhile, we're so dumb that we've never been able to build a world in which the current GOP tax proposal would have been unimaginable on its face.

Above all else, we don't know how to talk to the people who vote against liberal candidates and oppose liberal proposals. We think of the character in Jim Sheridan's beautiful film, In America, who is losing his soul in the face of his grief about the death of his young son. At one point, he makes this speech:
JOHNNY: You know, I asked [God] a favor. I asked him to take me instead of him. And he took the both of us. And look what he put in my place!

I'm a fucking ghost. I don't exist.

I can't think. I can't laugh. I can't cry.

I can't feel!
That character couldn't function at all. (Eventually, he is saved by the wisdom and persistence of his young daughter.)

That character couldn't function at all. That character was a great deal like us, except he possessed self-awareness in his despair and we modern liberals don't.

We modern liberals function extremely poorly. In our own view, this latest semi-stampede is a fascinating example of same.

Leigh Corfman accused Roy Moore of a very serious crime. Assuming her accusation is accurate, we're glad she did. We're glad she decided to push back against Moore's denials last week.

Leigh Corfman accused Moore of a serious crime. But Gloria Deason didn't.

We liberals, along with our mainstream pundits, can't seem to tell the difference. In our view, this helps explain why our large continental nation is currently coming apart.

Was Deason "second accuser in" against Moore? Was she an accuser at all?

We'd say that she was not. Tomorrow, we'll start a new award-winning series, in which we'll examine some cultural history of the land in which we all live.

As we offer this cultural history, we'll be waiting for the tax bill to pass, and perhaps for Moore to get elected. On the brighter side, the cultural history we'll be presenting will at least be interesting—an interesting distraction from our latest defeat or defeats.

We liberals are skilled at losing fights. It seems to us that this current matter helps show how we do it.

Starting tomorrow: The Parochials

BREAKING: Tragic end to heroic resistance!


Exciting trade-off revealed:
In our view, it isn't the world's greatest trade-off.

They move toward passing their stupid tax plan. We get to have big fun watching Jimmy Kimmel prank Roy Moore.

Yay yay yay yay yay! Oh God, that was sooo great!

Just a guess. The fact that Hollywood pranked Roy Moore may bring Ol' Roy more votes. Still, we get to have our fun. Yay yay yay yay yay!

(In a similar vein, see this.)

There is no end to our liberal world's inability to see the way this works. They pass their tax bill, We talk about Flynn! Yay yay yay yay yay!

Coming Monday: Part 4 of our current award-winning series

Starting Tuesday: Age in the cinema, a study in mid-century values. (It's all anthropology now!)

BREAKING: A mission of national import!


For that reason, no posts today:
We've been called away from our campus on a mission of national import.

For that reason, there will be no posts today. We expect to finish our award-winning series, First Accuser In, tomorrow. Next week: Age in the cinema!

For today, we'll redirect you to an anthropological mystery, with the hope that you can explain it.

Everyone is shocked, shocked and upset, upset that the GOP tax plan might "explode the deficit" by $1 trillion over ten years, even allowing for possible economic growth. Big news orgs and big major pundits are truly deeply upset.

That said:

When Candidate Trump released his original tax proposal in the fall of 2015, it would have expanded deficit spending, over ten years, by roughly $10 trillion! It was the craziest such proposal in all of human history.

But how odd! Even after the formal proposal was fully scored, the press corps barely reported this fact. The press corps was no longer doing policy. Where Atlas once shrugged, the press yawned.

Also this, with Selection Sunday approaching:
This is how the Power 5 conferences performed this year in games against other Power 5 teams, plus Notre Dame:
Big 10: 7-6
Big 12: 4-6
SEC: 7-9
Pac-12: 7-3
ACC: 9-14
In fairness to the ACC, they were 8-9 excluding their games with Notre Dame, with whom they share an arrangement.

The conferences don't play a huge number of games with each other. But you might keep those numbers in mind when sports pundits insist on telling you which is the mightiest, most dominant conference.

Final note:

As usual, the Big 12 has ten member schools; the Big 10 has 14. This puzzlement has nothing to do with Donald J. Trump. The situation predates his tenure.

Also, the whole conundrum disappears under dynamic scoring.

As the tall trees continue to fall!


Postcards from the decline:
With Matt Lauer's instant exit, the tall trees continues to fall. We offer four postcards from the ongoing decline:

Money and fame: We've routinely warned about the destructive power of wealth and celebrity. As we red about the appalling conduct of people like Lauer and Charlie Rose, we think of this age-old subhuman syndrome.

Our quick take: Money and fame may lead to more than appalling sexual conduct. Wealth and fame may also lead to mugging, clowning, self-adoration and constant dissembling, of a type we constantly see on one or more "cable news" shows.

Off-camera, staffers laugh at the jokes. This is a cultural problem, part of a major decline.

Our tribe's thought leaders sound off: Why was Garrison Keillor dumped by Minnesota Public Radio? At this point, there's no way to know.

MPR has offered no description of the matter or matters in question. Meanwhile, Keillor has offered an anodyne account of a minor event. There's no way to know what's true.

That said, nothing stops our tribe's most unbalanced players from making us look foolish to the rest of the world. At the Atlantic, Megan Garber melted down as soon as Keillor's dismissal was announced. She constructed a rather murky rant against the Prairie Home Companion radio program, culminating with this:
GARBER (11/29/17): [Keillor] became one of the many men who have fallen to the “Weinstein effect.” That effect is its own kind of landscape, its own kind of frontier—a version of manifest destiny in which expansion is not geographical but ideological, and in which justice, rather than justification, is the guiding ethic. The new American landscape is a cultural space that is cognizant of power differentials and mutual respect. It is one that strives for equality. And it is one that takes for granted the conviction that belittling those who are less powerful—all the women are strong—will have, finally, meaningful consequences.
That's right! Garber felt that Prairie Home Companion's description of Lake Wobegon—as a place where “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average"—was Keillor's way of belittling women for being less powerful than men. Or at least, that's what she said.

We have no idea why Keillor was dumped. That said, do you know how silly this highly familiar type of analysis will inevitably look to The Others? In such instances, can we really say that the dimwitted Others are wrong?

No one had the slightest idea: Savannah Guthrie was shocked, just shocked, when Lauer got dumped. As such, she joined the long list of high players who had absolutely zero idea about the misconduct which was occurring on or near their watch.

Oddly, these clueless people have been unknowing about conduct which is routinely reported to have been "an open secret." Again and again, nobody knew what everyone knew! Frank Rich rolls his eyes at this "playacting" in this new interview.

Why can't John Conyers be fired: It's stunning to see how many journalists can't tell the difference between 1) an employee of a private corporation and 2) an elected official.

If Matt Lauer can get fired so fast, why can't John Conyers? Waves of pundits seem utterly baffled by the logic lurking behind this deeply puzzling question.

Earth to pundits, listen up! The logic goes something like this:

Matt Lauer was hired by NBC. On that basis, it's relatively easy for NBC to fire him.

John Conyers was hired by no one. He was elected, by voters.

In particular, he wasn't hired by Nancy Pelosi, or even by James Clyburne. It would be problematic for them to assume they had an obvious right to "fire" him.

This logic also obtains for Roy Moore. If he wins the upcoming election, he will have been "hired" by the people of Alabama.

Alabama is part of the nation, just as Lake Wobegon is. If we want our continental nation to long endure, the viewpoints of people in such farflung locales have to be respected, or perhaps endured, even when the people's wisdom falls far short of Ours.

Our tribe thinks Keillor was belittling women. Their tribe thinks Moore belongs in the Senate.

It's clear that our tribe is just stunningly brilliant. But what are you going to do?

FIRST ACCUSER IN: Counting the Washington Post's accusers!


Part 3—One accuser, or four?
On Friday morning, November 10, Leigh Corfman became first accuser in.

In that day's hard-copy Washington Post, a front-page report described Corfman's accusation against Roy Moore. Back in 1979, Moore molested her, Corfman said, when she was 14 years old.

The Post's report had appeared on-line on Thursday, November 9.

We know of no reason to doubt Corfman's accusation. That said, should her claim have been believed right away, or should wiser heads perhaps have waited a day or three to see what else might occur?

We would have voted for the wisdom of delay. In part, we recalled Kathleen Willey, whose accusation against Bill Clinton had produced a stampede of heartfelt belief in March 1998.

In the ensuing months and years, other events brought Willey's credibility into rather obvious question. Too late! The lovesick boys of the mainstream "press" had long since professed true belief.

Why else would have voted for the wisdom of delay? We also remembered the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case. Beyond that, we recalled the stampede of belief in Jackie, the accuser at UVa.

We recalled the disaster of the McMartin and other preschool cases. We recalled the way accusers were rashly believed back in Salem Village.

As a general matter, it seems to us that it makes sense to wait at least a couple of days before professing belief in serious claims against people, even against people you'd like to defeat in elections you don't otherwise know how to win. But back on November 10, Corfman's accusation was received in the traditional way:

In many pseudoliberal warrens, her accusation set off a stampede of heartfelt belief. This stampede included silly name-calling directed at those who suggested delay.

Let us say it again! We know of no reason to doubt Corfman's statements. Assuming her statements are acurate, we're glad she decided to push back this week against Moore's persistent denials.

Also this:

Three days later, on November 13, Beverly Nelson Young became second accuser in. She accused Moore of a violent sexual assault, an assault she said he committed when she was just 16 years old. By normal standards of reasoning, this second claim served as "supporting evidence" in support of the first accusation—although, of course, a second claim can't typically serve as proof of the first.

We know of no reason to doubt Corfman's claim. That said, some accusers do come forward with claims which are utterly false. With that in mind, it seemed to us that it made good sense—indeed, that it still makes good sense—to acknowledge the difficulty of assessing such claims.

The part of our brains which wants to stampede despises such nuance and niceties. This brings us to a peculiar part of that initial Post report, the report which appeared on November 10.

That Post report didn't present a stand-alone claim by Corfman. To many stampeding eyes, the report included four accusers, not just one.

In effect, many stampeders believed the Post had presented three supporting witnesses. Because it's all anthropology now, it's worth exploring that perception, which launched a thousand claims.

Clearly, that initial Post report included at least one main accuser. From its headline on down, the report centered on Corfman's accusation—an accusation we know of no reason to doubt.

("Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32")

Corfman's accusation formed the centerpiece of that Post report. But the Post quoted three other women by name—women who said they had interacted with Moore during the period on question.

We know of no reason to doubt their claims, though we might disagree with some aspects of their current judgments. More significantly, it's worth considering the journalistic judgment of the Washington Post, and the judgment of the stampeding mobs who began to cite these additional women as accusers.

Corfman was accusing Moore of a statutory sexual assault. Three days later, Nelson accused Moore of a violent sexual assault.

Each woman was accusing Moore of committing a serious felony. By way of possible contrast, the other three women in that first Post report were accusing Moore of taking them out on dates, or of asking them out on a date!

Indeed, he hadn't just taken them out on dates. In the case of two of these "accusers," he'd taken them out on dates with their full consent, and with the enthusiastic permission of their mothers! And not only that:

In the course of several months of dating, Moore had kissed two of these women—had done so several times! These were the people the Post presented, apparently as additional "accusers" in support of Corfman's account.

Wild horses of the Osage will be angry with us by this point. They'll feel that we're omitting the point that does, in fact, define these additional woman as accusers.

They'll claim that Moore's misconduct becomes clear in the Post's full account of their accusations. With that in mind, here is one such account from the Post's report:
MCCRUMMEN, REINHARD AND CRITES (11/10/17): Gloria Thacker Deason says she was 18 and Moore was 32 when they met in 1979 at the Gadsden Mall, where she worked at the jewelry counter of a department store called Pizitz. She says she was attending Gadsden State Community College and still living at home.

"My mom was really, really strict and my curfew was 10:30 but she would let me stay out later with Roy,"
says Deason, who is now 57 and lives in North Carolina. "She just felt like I would be safe with him. . . . She thought he was good husband material."

Deason says that they dated off and on for several months and that he took her to his house at least two times. She says their physical relationship did not go further than kissing and hugging.

"He liked Eddie Rabbitt and I liked Freddie Mercury," Deason says, referring to the country singer and the British rocker.

She says that Moore would pick her up for dates at the mall or at college basketball games, where she was a cheerleader. She remembers changing out of her uniform before they went out for dinners at a pizzeria called Mater's, where she says Moore would order bottles of Mateus Rosé, or at a Chinese restaurant, where she says he would order her tropical cocktails at a time when she believes she was younger than 19, the legal drinking age.

"If Mother had known that, she would have had a hissy fit," says Deason, who says she turned 19 in May 1979, after she and Moore started dating.
The key point there is supposed to be Deason's age. During the several months when she dated Moore, she was 18, then 19 years old. He was 32.

Is it a good idea for someone who's 19 to date a man who's 32? Our nation's Dimmesdales have always known how to answer such questions.

Setting that question aside for another day, we'll lay out the apparent structure of the Post's initial report:
Central accusation: When I was 14, Roy Moore met me behind my mother's back and committed a statutory sexual assault on my person.

Supporting accusation: When I was 19, Roy Moore dated me for several months, kissing me several times. My mother, who was thrilled, was hoping we'd get married.
To what extent does that second accusation sound like supporting evidence? To what extent does it sound like an "accusation" at all?

Because it's all anthropology now, we'll be exploring that second question all next week. We'll do so through an exploration of American culture as of 1979—the year when the film Manhattan was widely acclaimed, one year after Pretty Baby appeared to some minor critical clatter.

For today, we'll only say this. That "supporting accusation" almost sounds like the type of witness statement a defense attorney might have presented in court had Moore been charged with a crime for his alleged treatment of Corfman.

In the "accusations" by the two women Moore dated, he snuck around behind nobody's back; he barely so much as kissed them. In what way would these accounts support the claim that he had molested a 14-year-old at some point this same year?

We know of no reason to doubt Leigh Corfman's account. We know of no compelling reason to doubt Beverly Young Nelson's account.

Each woman has accused Moore of a serious crime. But in that original report, the supporting witnesses accused Moore of taking them out on dates and of kissing them several times as their mothers cheered him on.

Because it's all anthropology now, the way we liberals stampeded in the wake of these supporting stories may tell us more about ourselves than it does about Roy Moore. With Donald J. Trump careering more and more toward his upcoming nuclear war, none of this really matters any more. But if we might borrow what Luther once said:

If we knew Donald Trump would be ending the world today, we would continue to work in our anthropological garden.

We think the Post showed some shaky journalistic judgment in the way it presented that first report. This helps explain why Donald J. Trump is now in a position from which he may soon end the world.

As for our own self-impressed liberal tribe, we started our self-impressed "resistance" after Trump was elected and sworn. According to many anthropologists, we slept soundly for several decades before we started stampeding.

Tomorrow: One quick additional question

Next week: Welcome to your nation's culture in the last mid-century