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an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"[I]f the garden variety American liberal as represented by New York Times readers is almost universally against this, who is pushing it and why do they have so much power?"

Someone writes in a Reddit discussion of the NYT article "More Trans Teens Are Choosing ‘Top Surgery,'" which I blogged yesterday, here.

I've read a lot of the NYT comments myself, and I agree with the Redditor that "It's amazing how many of the reader comments on this article are basically horrified by all this...."

Other Redditors try to answer the question "why do they have so much power?"

One says: "Because the Garden Variety American Liberal As Represented By New York Times Readers will fold like a cheap suitcase when publicly called a bigot or even told that they are kinda sorta maybe sounding like a conservative, even if holding private misgivings."

Another says: "Political dynamics in the US is that the GOP is a moderate party beholden to extremist voters and the Dems are an extremist party beholden to moderate voters. It's a very odd dynamic."

Another question about these people with "so much power" is whether they will lose power if the NYT publishes articles like "More Trans Teens Are Choosing" that collect comments from "its garden variety American liberal" readers that clearly point in a different direction. 

ADDED: Is it "fold like a cheap suitcase"? I thought it was "fold like a cheap suit" — though I can't think why a cheap suit would fold any more readily than an expensive one. Fortunately I found a Grammarphobia post on the topic: What is the "X" in the phrase "fold like a cheap X"?
Suit would not have been my first choice as a filler for X, suits (even cheap ones) not being notable for ease of folding,” [the linguist Arnold Zwicky] writes. “But maybe the cliché ‘all over someone like a cheap suit’ promoted suit for X.” 
Zwicky mentions several other choices as a filler for X, including “shirt,” “umbrella,” “cocktail umbrella,” “lawn chair,” “deck chair,” “card table,” “pocket-knife,” “wallet,” “blanket,” and “accordion.” 
The earliest example in writing that we could find for any of these “fold like a cheap X” expressions is from White Rat: A Life in Baseball, a 1987 memoir by Whitey Herzog: “The Phils, I think, were secretly rooting for the Cardinals to win the second half because they knew they could throw Steve Carlton at us in the mini-playoffs and we’d fold like a cheap tent.” 
The earliest written example we’ve found for the “suitcase” version is from All Out, a 1988 novel by Judith Alguire: “She folded like a cheap suitcase.” And the first written example we’ve found for the “suit” formula is from Another 48 Hours, Deborah Chiel’s 1990 novelization of the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte film: “Wilson folded like a cheap suit to the ringing applause of everyone present.” 
And now we’ll fold like a cheap laptop and call it a day.

Ha ha. Hope you enjoyed that foray into metaphor — that metaphoray. Now, back to the horrible topic in the main post. 


Are you watching the Queen's funeral?

It's live. I'm sure you can find it. I'm seeing video embedded at the top of the front page of the NYT. 

Is it topping other news that should be more significant, such as whatever our President may have said in his "60 Minutes" interview last night?

I'm going to say no — subject to your laughter — as I see that the top story on the right side of the front page of the NYT is "Life Is Hazardous for City Raptors. These Women Offer Hope. Injured birds of prey have a fighting chance to recover, thanks to the volunteers at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds, Md."

"Boyds" — that's how you say "birds" in New York.

I'm distracted by sudden cheering and raucous applause. It's the Queen's funeral video. The throng alongside the road is jubilant as the hearse drives off. I'm going to assume that means they loved the Queen and not that it's any sort of ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead response. But when did cheering a hearse become appropriate? 

It's hard to say a racist incident never happened, but why was it so easy to say that it did?

"Brigham Young University said Friday that it had completed its investigation into accusations of racial heckling and slurs at a volleyball match against Duke University last month and found no evidence to confirm that the behavior took place."

Note the careful language — "no evidence to confirm." They don't and can't say that nothing at all happened. The language in the BYU statement is: "we have not found any evidence to corroborate" ("From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event").
The Duke player’s father, Marvin Richardson, told The New York Times after the game that a slur was repeatedly yelled from the stands as his daughter, Rachel Richardson, was serving and that she feared the “raucous” crowd. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment on B.Y.U.’s findings on Friday. 

That link goes to the NYT story from August 27th, which begins:

A Duke University women’s volleyball player who is Black was called a racial slur during a game Friday night in Utah....

Boldface mine. The Times stated it as a fact. Now, the NYT is very precise and says "no evidence to confirm," but when the allegation was made, it wasn't equivalently precise. Was it careless of precision, or did it consciously choose to leave out the "allegedly" before "called"? Why stir up discord, when so often these allegations turn out to be false?

I see the name "Jussie Smollett" is trending on Twitter. It's the easiest snark in response to the BYU story.

Why hasn't the NYT learned — at the very least — to leave itself an out? Is it carelessness? Is it blinded by the perverse hope that racism — which must be simmering everywhere — will burst forth in a vivid incident? Boosting these stories so eagerly, the media is cultivating doubt.

Stop luring young people into tainting their reputation by concocting another one of these poisonous morsels you're so eager to serve to America!

"The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers."

Wrote the Editorial Board of the NYT in "Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law," which went up last Friday. I didn't read it at the time because the headline is so banal, but I looked back at it because someone told me that the NYT editors were calling for the indictment of Trump.

That's not the case. They're only saying that "If Attorney General Merrick Garland and his staff conclude that there is sufficient evidence to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt on a serious charge in a court of law, then they must seek an indictment too." That is, the editors reject the idea that there's room for discretion, for consideration of when and whether to prosecute a former President. 

But I ran into that quote I put in the post title — it's in the first paragraph — and I've been thinking about the contradiction inherent in claiming to be protecting "democracy" and acting to deprive the people of the opportunity to vote for a particular political candidate. 

The urgency to stop Trump feels like a mistrust of the people. The deplorable subsection of America shouldn't have elected him the first time — so goes the elite opinion — and we can't let those people have another chance to give this man power. That's anti-democratic, and yet isn't it why the oligarchy presents itself as serving democracy?

That's my question. Is it one of the NYT editors' "profound questions about American democracy"? I doubt it, but I will finally read this thing and let you know if — by off chance — the elite editors of the NYT notice the contradiction:

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation....

Trump is framed as the attacker of democracy, rather than as a candidate in a forthcoming democratic election. He's going to wreck elections, not participate in them. 

[D]oing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?... 

Trump pursued available remedies and didn't get very far, then participated in a big demonstration, but do you want to criminalize seeking court remedies and delivering momentous speeches? That doesn't approach "by any means necessary." And it's odd to include on that list "us[ing] the power of the office to... punish one’s enemies," because that sounds like what is being done to Trump.

A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so....

Now, that would get into "by any means necessary" territory, stretching the legal text in an effort to prevent Trump from running for office again. Why can't you let the people vote for whomever we want? In the name of democracy, you mistrust democracy.

[T]he threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Again, Trump is portrayed as the enemy of democracy. 

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf....

Part of democracy is critiquing democracy. Both sides do it, and both sides lie. The "Russia collusion" hoax dogged Trump throughout his presidency. We need to be able to debate about defects in the voting and vote counting process, even as we also need to be able to declare a winner within a practical timeframe. Would the NYT denounce things like "Not My President Day" or all the people who think Al Gore won in 2000?

No, there won't be any principled demand to suppress lies — and spin and exaggeration and strained legal arguments — about elections, and if there were, it would be a despicable attack on freedom of speech. The remedy for what they see as lies about the election is simply more speech. I understand their frustration: Why do people keep believing what the NYT believes it knows to be lies? But that's always the problem with freedom of speech. People tell and believe a lot of lies. If you want democracy, you can't let that flip you out into hysteria. Concentrate on the next election and defeat your opponent at the polls.

If your response is, no, because my opponent might win and we can't take that risk, then you don't believe in democracy.

Fissures emerge!

Here's the article at The New York Times: "Some Republicans Make a More Restrained Case for Defending Trump/When some G.O.P. members of Congress attacked the nation’s top law enforcement agencies immediately after the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, it underscored deep fissures within the party."

Here's the front-page teaser that had us laughing: "As Republicans Move to Defend Trump, Deep Fissures Emerge in the Party."

Why was that so funny?

1. "Fissures" is an unusual enough word that it gets your attention. It's a metaphor, but what do you picture? Something going wrong with a fleshly body? A landscape? It's a new image, anyway, not something overused — like the "walls" that are forever "closing in."

2. The teaser version has the fissures showing up for the first time — emerging. But the Republicans have been fissure-ridden over Trump for years. The headline at the article page is more accurate: There were already "deep fissures," but the deep fissures became even more pronounced — they were "underscored" when some Republicans strongly defended Trump and other Republicans preferred to speak in a more "restrained" way.

3. In the text of the article, it says "deep fissures were visible," which doesn't sound as though the pre-existing fissures were changing at all. It was just another occasion for us onlookers to see the fissures. 

4. Why is this even a subject for an article? When I started this post, it was the top left headline on the front page, the most important news story. But it's just a story about how different Republicans express themselves with different degrees of intensity or subtlety over the Mar-a-Lago raid. We're told that the first Republicans to speak "reacted with fury" — saying things like “gestapo” and “tyrants.” But later, "more moderate voices in the party chastised their colleagues for the broadsides against law enforcement, making a more restrained case for defending Mr. Trump while also carrying out oversight of the Justice Department." It's a story because it's a chance to reframe Republicans attacking the FBI and the Justice Department as Republican attacking each other.

5. Yeah, I'm done laughing at "fissures emerge." 

"Written as though theft were something to be winked at. Bless this newspaper, which even in its decorating articles can't call a spade a spade."

"One has already despaired of real news being anything but understanding of perpetrators, even violent perpetrators. Except maybe the louse Donald Trump, or Ghislaine Maxwell."

Writes a commenter at the New York Times article, "The Lamp That’s Taking Over New York/A sleek newcomer, the Pina Pro, is appearing on droves of outdoor tables in the city — and sometimes disappearing, as diners fall for its mellow glow" ("At Altro Paradiso, a few lamps have mysteriously disappeared, Ms. Miller said. When the restaurant didn’t yet have one for every table, 'people would fight over them,' she added.")

And in case you're distracted by the question "Is It Racist To 'Call A Spade A Spade'?," someone answered the question on NPR back in 2013
"Rather than taking the chance of unintentionally offending someone or of being misunderstood, it is best to relinquish the old innocuous proverbial expression all together." 
That is, it's not racist. The spade in question — in the original 1542 writing by Erasmus — was the garden tool. That it is a garden tool — and not a playing card or a person of color — is clearly demonstrated by this witticism in Oscar Wilde 1895 play "The Importance of Being Earnest":
CECILY: "Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade."

GWENDOLEN: [Satirically.] "I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different."

The New York Times gives you your choice of rabbit hole.

The New York Times gives you your choice of rabbit hole.

It's quite the choice. Who are you?

You must fall down one rabbit hole or the other. You pick: free polls

ADDED: From the Merrick Garland article, a quote from Garland:
"There is a lot of speculation about what the Justice Department is doing, what’s it not doing, what our theories are and what our theories aren’t, and there will continue to be that speculation. That’s because a central tenet of the way in which the Justice Department investigates and a central tenet of the rule of law is that we do not do our investigations in public."
That is, implicitly, a criticism of the January 6th Committee. They're doing their "investigation" in public — straining to make it as public as possible and presenting it to the nation as an ongoing TV show — and pontificating about the rule of law. Garland discreetly prods us to notice his disapproval.

As for the conversation pit article, I marveled over the details of the article, then puzzled over the first sentence:
Betcha Dela Cruz-Atabug didn’t want a normal living room.
Are they betting me that someone named Dela didn't want a normal living room, or is her first name Betcha? I don't know, but...
Rock Herzog, an interior designer in Los Angeles... said that the conversation pit is the perfect metaphor for the milieu of the times. 
“Not only are we physically separated from one another, we are culturally, socially and politically separated from each other, and the end to that separateness is not in sight... So the conversation pit is this fantasy of ‘what would it be like if we were together again and having a good time?’”

You know what?

Here's a list of headlines beginning with "What" that are currently displayed on the New York Times homepage.
  1. "What a relief that Janeane Garofalo never sold out, our critic writes"
  2. "What Will Happen if Doctors Defy the Law to Provide Abortions?"
  3. "What to Know About BA.5"
  4. "What Joe Manchin Cost Us"
  5. "What It Means to See America in Person"
  6. "What Turns a Person Into a Mass Shooter?"
  7. "What I Learned When My Sister Got Sick"
  8. "What It Would Take for Your Team to Land Juan Soto"

The name "Biden" does not appear on the home page of the NYT right now.

And there must be a hundred headlines collected here. I did a search-the-page for "Biden," because I wanted to find the article about his trip to Buffalo, which I disapprove of. I hate to see mass murderers elevated to extreme importance. I don't want other potential murderers to see that path out of obscurity and dusky doom.

These presidential journeys to console the community — when do they work? How can a President obliterate the perception that it's a political stunt? Obama could do it:

The name  

That's from 2016. And there you see in that picture: Biden walked alongside him.

But here's how the Buffalo massacre looks on the front page of the NYT this morning:


The name  

That directs  us to other politicians: New York's governor, Kathy Hochul and a Democratic senator whose  name you can learn if you click through. 2 of those 4 headlines channel us into the gun control issue.

But let's take a closer look at the other 2 stories: 

First, there's "For Hochul, Shooting in Buffalo Is a Hometown Tragedy/The governor grew up in the Buffalo suburbs and lives in the city now. The shooting has taken on political overtones in the 2022 race for governor of New York." 

Biden's name comes up twice: "On Tuesday, she appeared with President Biden as he visited Buffalo... And on Monday, Ms. Hochul took the stage with Mr. Biden at a community center, seeking to draw parallels between Buffalo and the president’s hometown, Scranton, Pa." 

What does the headline mean when it says, "The shooting has taken on political overtones in the 2022 race for governor of New York." Is Hochul taking responsibility for the conditions leading to the crime? Her party has dominated the government in Buffalo for more than half a century. I think the main point is that her Democratic challenger in the primary is vowing "to make fighting crime a priority." 

The other article is "Before Massacre Began, Suspect Invited Others to Review His Plan." This suggests the question I want to see addressed: Why wasn't this 18-year-old stopped? But this article is entirely about the suspect's engagement of other private citizens on the social media platform Discord. There's nothing about law enforcement's monitoring of the conversation or opportunity to intervene.

Will Biden take responsibility for failure to prevent this attack? 

I look for the NYT coverage of Biden's trip to Buffalo, and I find: "In Buffalo, Biden Denounces "Domestic Terrorism.'" That's not currently linked on the NYT home page, but it's dated today. It went up at 1:13 a.m. Why did it sink like a stone?!

President Biden went to the largely Black community in Buffalo where a massacre at a supermarket left 10 people dead and made a terse declaration. “What happened here is simple and straightforward: Terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism,” he said.

All right then! It's terrorism. Terrorism. Terrorism. Terrorism. Then why didn't your administration monitor it effectively and intervene?

The article quickly moves to the news that Biden recited the names of the victims and addressed Americans in general, telling us "to 'reject the lie' of racial replacement that is said to have prompted" the attack. We're supposed to "take on haters and those who don’t even care." And "It’s just about profit and politics."

The article proceeds to educate us about the meaning of the "replacement theory":

The so-called replacement theory holds that elites want to disempower and “replace” white Americans with immigrants from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. It has been a theme of Tucker Carlson’s nightly program on Fox News, although Biden did not mention Carlson by name. He described replacement as “a hate that, through the media and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated and lost individuals.”

Biden went to the site of a fresh massacre to harangue American's about the depredations of Fox News? No wonder this story is off the front page. 

Nor did Biden single out Carlson later when reporters asked if Carlson or some Republicans deserved blame for promoting replacement. “I believe anyone who echoes the replacement is to blame,” he said.

Is he saying that anyone who openly worries about illegal immigration is to blame for what he also calls domestic terrorism? This is so political and so extreme it's embarrassing. Sweep that off the front page.

Beyond calling for a revival of an assault-weapons ban, the president made no policy announcements in a speech delivered not far from the supermarket the gunman attacked on Saturday....

How about better detection of visible terrorist plots and taking action before people die?

The New York Times gives you your choice of rabbit hole.The name "Biden" does not appear on the home page of the NYT right now.

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