Wednesday, August 28, 2019

30 to 50 Feral Begbugs at the New York Times

This is here because it is totally not worth anyone's time. The actual topic is Bret Stephens (who is not, in fact, a bedbug -- rettore take notice).

Bedbugs are in the news.

Partly they are related to the 2019 G-7 in Biarritz and the US constitution. The connection is that Donald Trump suggested that the 2020 G-7 might be held at his Doral resort. This was a gross violation of Us constitution article I section 9 paragraph 8 "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State." I think it is clear that Trump's statement is an impeachable offense. But, on topic, bedbugs are involved, because bedbugs have bitten people at Doral (allegedly in Today's Washington Post ). The final word is "The Trump Organization denied the allegation, without going into detail. It settled the case in 2017, shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Neal Hirschfeld, a Florida attorney who represented Linder in the bedbug lawsuit, said he could not comment Tuesday because the settlement included a confidentiality clause." Frankly, I actually think a Congressional investigation would be nice (officially on emoluments but also looking into the beds, because a President lying to the American People is a matter of public interest).

Also it is reported that there are bedbugs in the New York Times news room. That's the topic. David Karpf, A professor at George Washington University (GWU) tweeted that Bret Stephens is bedbug.

Stephens found the tweet (8 likes 0 retweets) and e-mailed a complaint CCing the Provost of GWU. I consider myself involved, because that's where I come from (I was delivered at GWU medical center some time ago). From this we learn a few things.

1) Bret Stephens is a rotten person. He tried to get someone in trouble over a silly joke.

2) Bret Stephens is an idiot. He has gotten himself in significant trouble and become a figure of extremely widespread mockery (my tweet is that he stepped in some Santorum there). He will not live this down. So far his Wikipedia article has been edited to identify him as a bedbug (no link probably edited back) also let me google.

3) Bret Stephens is an absurd hypocrite. He has a record of arguing that free speech means freedom to offend or it means nothing.

4) Stephens appeared on MSNBC and claimed that Bret Stephens was asked about the Bedbug controversy on MSNBC by @ChrisJansing

Bret says he wasn’t trying to get @davekarpf in any professional trouble when he copied his provost on the email he sent him.

This shows that Bret Stephens is an absolutely shameless liar. Obviously the only reason to cc someone's boss is to try to get him in professional trouble (note Karpf isn't the one in professional trouble now)

5) Bret Stephens is an idiot. He could have said he lost his temper and made a mistake. Instead he lied in a manner which insults not only the intelligence of NY Times readers, but also National Enquirer readers not to mention "Hop on Pop" readers who haven't moved up to the more advanced Dr Seuss books yet (npt subtitle "The Simplest Seuss for youngest use").

I think there is only one reasonable response to the recent events. I think 'Stephens should be fired. ccing a provost over a tweet is quite bad for someone who claims to defend free speech. The blatant lie means his claims of fact are not reliable enough to publish him on the Op-ed pagesm where people can exoress their own opinions but not their own facts.

But why the hell was he ever hired in the first place ?

I think I know the answer. New opinion editor James Bennet decided that the pages needed more balance and that 2 token conservatives aren't enough. So he decided to hire two more. He wasn't willing to publish someone who makes absurd arguments, such as claiming that Trump is qualified to be President. So he had to find 2 anti Trump conservatives who can write in complete paragraphs. Since no more than 5% of the population is anti Trump and conservative, this is a bit of a challenge (actually not really says Rick Wilson). Now the idea that balanced representation of the range of opinions means that 5% of the population are under represented by only 2 columnists at the New York Times is idiotic, but I still haven't explained why Stephens was hired, given the substantial set of never Trump conservatives who can write complete paragraphs and aren't lying idiots.

Stephens was hired from the Wall Street Journal opinion pages. Now that's it. IT makes sense for the Times to poach from the Journal (and the Washington Post). One might be irritated at the importance of an elite club of journalists at top papers, but that is part of a general pattern of elites in all fields in all places at all times. The problem is that, by association with the news pages,the Wall Street Journal opinion section is respectable and even elite.

They are also a gang of extremist lunatics. It ranks somewhere on the range from National Review to Quillette. People are hired because they are absolutely reliable ideologues (who can write in complete paragraphs). Gwyneth Paltrow is also elite, but no one trusts her equally respectable thoughts on Medicine as much as the absurd nonsense written about economics on the Journal's opinion pages.

Seeking Stephens views on free speech is as sensible as seeking Dinesh D'Sousa's views on US history and academic historiography. Only an idiot would do that.

OK back to the broader topic. Must opinion editors hire conservatives. It is absolutely 100% clear that they think they should in order to achieve balance. They do not claim to hire the best columnist available. Nor do they claim to hire only excellent columnists which will add a new perspective (it's 4 rather than 2 never Trump conservatives not 1 rather than zero). There is some idea that the opinions should reflect some distribution of opinions.

To show that I can't write in complete paragraphs, I explain. One hypothetical criterion might be choosing based on originality, judgment, reliability and thought provocation. That's not the stated policy. Another might be to seek a variety of views so that, even if not everyone can be satisfied, at least everyone can be dissatisfied. That isn't the policy either. Astrologers aren't welcome. Nor are anti-vaxxers. Global warming deniers are welcome. Creation scientists aren't. The body of evidence is similar in all four cases. It isn't enough that a view be different from the others. It can't be completely crazy.

But the criterion isn't also correspondence to public opinion revealed by polls. The opinion pages are dominated by people who support "entitlement reform" who belong to a tiny minority of the population.

I am ruling things out. It isn't we need more conservatives, because our readers have never been exposed to conservative thought (4 not 1). It's not we need a broad variety of opinions (Leninists and Islamic fundamentalists are not welcome). It isn't the distribution of views on this page should be similar to the distribution in the population (US world, New York whatever).

I think the aim is balance not variety and not simply excellence. I think the definition of balance is corresponding roughly to votes in Congress. Both sides means both major parties. I think on many issues this means balancing on the one hand the evidence and public opinion and, on the other, the preferences of a few extremely rich men. On many big issues, the Democratic party is on the right wing of public opinion and the Republican party is off the scale. On many scientific issues, the Republican position is a fringe view among the experts.

I think the decision is to speak power to truth. The GOP is powerful, so GOP arguments must be presented and taken seriously even if they fly in the face of massive evidence and are generally rejected by ordinary people.


  1. Remember when "even the liberal NY Times" was a thing? I think it's time to start saying "even the conservative NY Times" when they get something right.

    In other new, Coco Gauff and Osaka are whaling the heck out of the ball at the US Open. I'd say it is "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" except it is more like wham, bam, wham, bam, ...



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  2. dibert dogbert4:02 PM

    Re: Bretbug
    I was searching for jokes that are the male equivalent of the awful Jewish American Princess Jokes that can be found wide spread in the internets. Google failed to find any. This deficit should be a fat target for jokesters to run with.

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