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Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick told Tucker Carlson Monday that senior citizens such as himself would cheerfully die so that America's economy can tap dance on their graves. An elected official suggesting that we move toward a Logan's Run society is a big deal, and the New York Times originally made that clear in its headline before backpedaling like a common New York Times. The Twitter account "Editing TheGrayLady" highlighted the change.


The original headline, in gray and pink, is chillingly accurate, but its replacement, in green, is bland and unoffensive, which often feels like the New York Times's journalistic credo. Texas isn't struggling between federalism and nationalism. It's not like whatever passes for our national government these days has ordered state governments to act. Donald Trump wants to throw a coronavirus party on Easter Sunday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott isn't “balancing" local control with the coronavirus crisis. He's not doing anything. He's leaving the critical decisions to the local authorities in 254 counties. Time is of the essence when it comes to flattening the curve, and Abbott is leading by confusovision.

The Times article buried the lede under three or so paragraphs of nonsense before mentioning that the lieutenant governor of Texas stated "that he and other older Americans might be willing to sacrifice themselves to the virus" like characters from a Shirley Jackson story.


This is also a milquetoast change. Texas doesn't have a statewide “stay-at-home" order because Gov. Greg Abbott refuses to declare one. His almost criminal inaction is the story here. The edit also makes Patrick look reasonable and not as ghoulish as he actually is. Why wouldn't you want the economy moving again if “many regions are untouched by the virus"? Unfortunately, the coronavirus doesn't respect local boundaries. A region won't remain untouched forever as long as there is unrestricted movement across the state. The restrictions and orders change from county to country. There is no statewide mandate because Abbott is failing Texas.

The article itself does cover, many many paragraphs later, the stunned reactions to Patrick's “kill the olds" proposal. There was bipartisan consensus that something must have cut off the oxygen to his brain. The coronavirus can't claim credit. Patrick might've been born this way.

"I got to tell you — my children and my grandchildren really like to have their Tootsie around for a while longer, and I think everybody else would, too," said the Republican mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price, who issued a stay-at-home order in her city on Tuesday. "I can't imagine where he was coming from with that."

We agree with Mayor Betsy Price — or Tootsie, as she's known around the house. Here she is talking some sense and issuing a stay-at-home order for Fort Worth, Texas.

'Y'all stay home' Fort Worth Mayor announced new COVID-19 orders

Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver issued a stay-at-home order but also wished that the governor would step up.

DEAVER: We're Americans and we're Texans and we're used to our independence and freedom, and I hate taking that away from us. But we must do this together if we're going to get through this quickly.

All of Texas's 700 (so far) coronavirus cases are in the major metropolitan areas of Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. Although Republicans claim a “one-size-fits-all" approach doesn't work for the state, Democrats have pointed out that the state has become involved in such “local" issues as the public schools in Houston and the homeless in Austin.

Abbott has banned in-service dining in restaurants and limited social gatherings, but he's still surprised that residents aren't complying at the levels necessary to effectively slow the spread. He's considering “stricter enforcement" even if it means having to turn in his cowboy hat.

[New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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