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Following yesterday, when a posting regarding a Paul Krugman item on Obama being MIA in the NY Times  got 1818 “approve” responses, I got up this morning to find that everything I’d posted yesterday neither got the automatic email reply stating your item has been posted, nor, of course were the items posted.   A glitch in the system?  Punishment from on high?  Here’s the items that were canned:

In response to David Brooks’ item on Poetry for Everyday Life:

“then the skilled thinker will be able to recognize patterns, blend patterns, apprehend the relationships and pursue unexpected likenesses”

Yes indeed, I have noticed – though I disavow any claimed “skill” in thinking – that Mr Brooks does indeed tend to mix his metaphors in a weekly cocktail of mis- and dis- information, not so cleverly designed to hide both his Republican-conservative traits, though they usually burp out somewhere; and his gushing vacuity.  Today’s waxing is a good example of this latter tendency.   Tap dancing around the day’s more urgent matters, from budget axings to nuclear melt-downs to the more taxing matter of taxes for his class of people, Mr Brooks waves his pen airily and smites us with his, uh, emptiness.

And this guy gets paid well for this kind of stuff.

A look at the other responses shows that my view was widely shared.  That Mr Brooks is often cited as one of they shining intellectual lights of the right in America – after all he’s on the Op-Ed pages of the Times – is indicative of the paucity of real thinking over there on the “conservative” wing of the nation.

Then responding to another Op-Ed item, this one by Joe Nocera, who deals largely with economics, who did strangely a hot puff-piece on T. Boone Pickens and natural gas:

It is interesting to note that verily today’s Gray Lady pages there is an article about how “natural gas” isn’t really so clean in terms of green-house gas effects, global warming (which I doubt good old boy Boone  thinks much of), etc.  Not to mention that many of the methods of securing that gas, good old fracking, is turning out to be a lot less benign than the industry would have us believe.

Like they might say in Texas, ain’t never something for nothin’
ain’t no free lunch

Again, those responding took him to task in the same manner.

Then, responding to an Editorial on the Supreme Court, I wrote this:

The Court will continue this way. Where have most sitting members of the Court been schooled? Would you be surprised to learn it was those grooming schools of the American aristocracy, Harvard and Yale? (You know, the place Obama was groomed to pretend to be a Democrat while being a Republican.) Would you be surprised to find out that people who are surrounded by the very wealthy tend to acquire their values, whether they started out that way or not? Even more so if they didn’t – see the President for example…

The Supreme Court is there to serve wealth. Just as in these times is the Executive and the Congress. Wealth is well-served when its overwhelmingly disproportionate access to money is allowed to be used freely as “speech.” Just ask Mr Alito.

The Judicial system has always been a servant to wealth, and it’s not going to change any time soon.

Again, those responding covered much the same ground.

And then, responding to a habitual resident in the responses section, one JLT, hailing from Palo Alto, CA., usually high on the list with a shrill right-wing zinger, though in terms of  “approval” checks usually zipped quickly to the lower echelons, I wrote the below.  I forget and can’t find what the column was it was in response to, but whatever it was it let JLT claim that Ronald Reagan was solely responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union when he said, “Gorby, tear down that wall.”  And, as in the Bible, the walls came tumbling down and it was all because of Saint Ronnie.

Ah, JLT from PA, ever fast on the trigger to warp a little history sharply to the right.

Having visited in 1985 the good old USSR before it collapsed, without using the billions invested in the CIA etc., it was clear that as a system it was in terminal decline, tottering. It probably had a little to do with being suckered into an arms race, but mostly to do with its internal stresses and contradictions. Curiously now some decades later it is America which is groaning under the weight of the military-industrial complex which we could say Reagan brought upon us, and it is we who are beginning to buckle under the strains of our internal stresses and contradictions.

What goes round, comes round, no JLT? If Reagan did indeed cause, as you suggest, the collapse of the USSR, I guess we could say he’s had a hand in the collapse of the US(A).

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, arrested last week by authorities there

And last, but not least, responding to an Op-Ed series on the nature of censorship in China, prompted by the recent arrest, I wrote this:

While the West, particularly the US, likes to assert it has “freedoms” absent in such places as China, the old USSR, etc., and in some perverse way this is true, in fact our system of censorship is actually “better” and more effective.  An artist in America or Europe can almost say anything, politically or otherwise.  This is allowable for a few reasons.

One is that the overwhelming background noise of our culture, with its omnipresent media (owned and run by corporate powers) will drown out almost anything which those powers do not support.  Political dissent is firmly frowned upon and will be left uncovered, whether it is from artists or demonstrators on the streets.  We don’t call it “censorship;”  instead we say something like “the market isn’t interested/it won’t make money.”

Another is that virtually all “successful” artists will have shown they have already been co-opted, if they weren’t “inside” already.  See Jeff Koons, and a long list of other trivial, highly marketable ‘artists’ who are not only accepted, but heavily promoted – precisely because while they may seem culturally outrageous, they are politically harmless.  Or better yet, they are helpful in that they propagate the idea that some people, like CEO’s, stars (sports and entertainers) and others are deserving of payments of millions on millions.  A decade or two back (and still – see Banksy for example) “political” art was fashionable and one might go to a gallery or major museum and see stultifying academic “art” which purportedly was political, and in content one might say it was; however it was made and exhibited in a manner which utterly stripped it of any real political effect: it made the makers’ feel self-satisfied and deluded they were “doing something” (like collecting good grants), and it made the spectators feel good for glancing a few minutes and having paid their do-good dues.  This kind of stuff still goes on.

So ours is a much better system of control. We don’t need to jail artists since anyone vaguely threatening will get no attention from the “market driven” press, and so you won’t hear/see of them.  Anyone successful will be well remunerated and will mystically self-censor where necessary, or if not, perhaps find themselves curiously turned into that old USSR standby, the “nonperson”.  For a culture which can give personhood to a corporation, it is no problem taking it away from the odd truculent artist.   For more in this matter see

Andy Warhol entertaining the very richJeff Koons entertaining the very very rich

Now given the consistency of yesterday’s black-out, I’d like to think it was some screw-up in my internet connection, though otherwise I had no problems yesterday, and I posted promptly, as I often do, being lucky in Korea to slot in at a nice hour immediately when the Times goes on-line with its daily Op-Ed page.  Perhaps it was simply a glitch, and today “normalcy” will return.  Or perhaps it is “the new normalcy” wherein my last comment regarding Ai Weiwei is coming into play.  We’ll see.  If it does persist I guess I will institute a regular posting under the title Censoring Times, with a number behind it.

One Comment

  1. I’m a journalism student currently, and one of the big falsehoods being promulgated is that the internet makes for a more “open and interactive” platform due to the publishing of reader comments immediately. This makes me very thankful for these NY Times censorship columns you do so frequently.

    Internet comments are a great front for propaganda; where a group used to have to hire one person to send out misinformation and rationalizations of the ruling class, either through think tanks or other means, they can create spam bots and give the appearance of 7-8 people for every one person actually working for them. These comments also appear to represent the voice of the “average American” as opposed to an intellectual elite. Any dissenting comments can be, as you’ve proven time and time again, simply marked “spam” and forgotten about.

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