Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27, 2017--Phone Call From Jack

"They gave me free access to your favorite website."

I hadn't spoken to Maine friend, Jack, for almost two months.

I was happy to hear from him though I was a little concerned. He had been having some health issues and wasn't much of a caller. He preferred face-to-face conversations. In the hope that all was well and to avoid hearing bad news, I said, "It looks like the winter weather up there hasn't been too bad."

Ignoring that, he said, "Aren't you going to ask me which one?"

Happy to sense he was OK, I said, "I was about to get to that. Which one?"

"For a month. The New York Times. For free. I never turn down anything that's free."

"You? The New York Times? I would have thought that . . ."

"As I said it's for free. Need I say more?"

"This is what you called to tell me?"

"But this couldn't wait until you guys get here in May."

"What's the 'this'?"

"You know I'm a Trump guy?"

"Do I ever. You're the first person I know who backed him and predicted more than a year and a half ago, while no one was taking him seriously, that he would not only win the nomination but also the general election."

I could feel him puffing up with pride at that acknowledgement.

"But back to the Times. Are you telling me you're actually reading it? I think of you as more of a New York Post and Fox News guy."

"That's me. Meat and potatoes. But I've been reading it. Not everything, but their stuff about Trump. It's so biased. For every positive story there are half a dozen negative ones."

"Did it maybe occur to you that Trump deserves this? Forget his policies--I know, elections have consequences--but all the stuff he makes up and doesn't tell the truth about. Like about how there were millions of illegal votes in November. Isn't that a legitimate story to cover?"

"Of course. And Trump is stupid to be pursuing it. It only distracts from all the good things he's doing."

Feeling feisty, I asked, "Give me a few examples of those."

"Obamacare, the wall, not allowing unvetted refugees to enter the country. These are a pretty good week's work."

I had spent the summer fighting with him about immigration and Obamacare and didn't want to relitigate any of that, so again I asked, "What's the story with you and the New York Times?"

"As I said, I hate the paper but, in spite of myself, took a look at the website. The first story that jumped out was about how the mayor of London, though he's not gay, likes to brag about participating in gay and transgender events. The article from a few days ago was titled, 'The London of London's Mayor.' I needed to know about what he does with his evenings? Some London."

"I saw that piece too and thought it was interesting and another example of how far we've come when it comes to LGBT rights."

"You and your liberal friends are so stupid." I had heard this from Jack many times, "I should let you wallow in self-involvement and identity politics. That way, Democrats will never again win the White House. Which is fine by me. But if you ever want to, you need to move on from some of these issues. Minimally, stop being so obsessed about them."

"I'm not obsessed about them but think they're important."

"Let me ask you this. With my access to the Times website I also had access to their search engine. So I entered 'transgender' and searched for articles that appeared in the Times during the past year. When I got to 50, though I was only about halfway through the year I stopped and took a look at how many stories there were just this January. Take a guess at how many? You read the paper every day so you should come close to the number."

"I don't know where you're going with this," I said, "But I'll play along."

"So, how many?"

"I'll say four."

"Wrong. As of two days ago there were already eight."

"That surprises me."

"Check it out. I don't want to be accused of using 'alternative facts.'"

We both chuckled at that.

"And now, how many transgender people are there in America to justify all this coverage?"

"I have no idea. Maybe 5.0 million."

"Wrong again. According to Google, there are maybe 1.4 million. Which represents 0.6 percent of the U.S. population." He paused to let that sink in, "More than 50 stories for half-of-one percent of Americans? You think that makes sense?" Before I could try to answer, he added, "Forget that it is to say the least tough to be transgender--and remember I'm Libertarian--but do you think paying so much attention to them is smart politics?"

"Maybe not, but it still could be a good thing to pay attention to."

"But shouldn't that paying attention be more proportionate to the numbers? How about maybe six stories during the year? Wouldn't that be enough to let readers know about transgender issues?"

"I'm still not comfortable that you feel everything, every social issues, has to be viewed through a political lens."

"Dream on, my friend," Jack said sounding exasperated. "It's paying so much attention to things of this kind that helped my boy get elected. You and your people just don't get it. You're so out of touch with what most of America cares about. You're trying to figure out why you lost. Well I can tell you--how many months did you and your friends and your New York Times spend on North Carolina refusing to allow kids in schools to use whatever bathroom they 'identified' with. If you're a girl and think about yourself, identify as a guy you can use the boys' bathroom. While you spent months obsessing about that, Donald was rolling up the votes. And thanks to you, more than me and my kind, he now sits in the Oval Office."

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