Man, Fuck Capitalism, and Bob Woodward, too

You’re here, so you don’t live under a rock, and you’ve probably at least heard about Bob Woodward’s new book, and the eighteen on-tape interviews he did with Donald Trump for it, in which Trump, among many other admissions, admits that he knew the Coronavirus was more serious than he was saying in public, and that he basically kept downplaying it in the hopes it would go away, because the whole thing made him look bad.

If you have or had a functioning cognitive capacity in the last few years, this will surprise you not at all. Lying comes easier than breathing to Donald Trump. Or, rather, he simply creates the reality he prefers in his mind, then insists everyone else play along. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but that’s a whole other book-length blog post.

No, what pisses me off is that Bob Woodward — who has enough money and reputation to satisfy any sane human being — sat on the tapes, and the reporting, while the bodies piled up and basic health precautions became cause for a fucking civil war. And why did he do that? To sell more books. It’s the same as John Bolton, and that NYT reporter two weeks ago, and who knows how many other people.

And why? Because capitalism as presently practiced has so skewed our incentives and priorities such that all the lives unnecessarily lost, all the economic woe, the lost jobs and businesses and careers, all the culture war bullshit that only drags the whole thing out longer: all that put together doesn’t outweigh the individual interest in pursuing personal and private profit.

It’s a fucked up way to run a society. I wish more people realized that.

This Is the World Conservatives Want

When he was first running for President in 2008, the closest Barack Obama came to a gaffe — defined in political reporting as a politician inadvertantly speaking the truth — was when he said that when things got bad, it made people turn bitter and ‘cling to their guns and their faith.’ Conservatives excoriated him and the mainstream press went along, having been trained over years and decades to a kind of pro-conservative bias out of fear of being perceived as liberal. And in a sense conservatives were right to. Not because it’s insulting to their voters, but because it’s basically their game plan and philosophy of governance. Because people really do become more conservative — by which I mean driven by fear and concerned only with their own, be it family, race, or, in the worst cases, themselves alone — when things get tight. Which is why when they’re elected conservatives do their best to undo not only our social safety net, but the very idea that we can solve the problems facing us by coming together and cooperating. They do their best to shrink the government til you can drown it in a bathtub, and tell everyone that not only are they on their own, that it’s both righteous and good that they should be.

They’ve been on a real tear since 2016. Hell, since 2009, when Mitch McConnell and the rest decided their response to overwhelming electoral defeat would amount to ni shagu nazad. Since it’s always easier to say no than say yes, to tear down than to build, to demand good faith from the other side while acting from grievance yourself, they’ve been more successful than I think even they imagined they would be.

So let’s see where we are now, shall we? Near two hundred thousand dead in a pandemic, the numbers surely worse than we know thanks to a willful neglect and sabotage of testing and data-gathering. Police officers still executing citizens of color on camera despite huge, ongoing, and in some cases effective protest movements, to the point where one suspects a kind of willfulness to their assertion of their right to kill whenver they ‘feel threatened.’ They meet those protests like an occupying army, one that may or may not be coordinating with armed paramilitaries. Like the seventeen year old asshole who crossed state lines from Illinois to Wisconsin with an Armalite long gun to protect Kenosha’s businesses by murdering its citizens in the streets and failing to be arrested by police despite trying very hard to surrender himself. A person can’t help be reminded of the re-open protests — Liberate Michigan! — early on during the pandemic, when those same cosplay paramilitaries got up and spat in officer’s unhelmeted faces, and note the stark disparity.

This is the world conservatives want. This is the world they have built. This is the natural result of their practice of governance and whatever tatters of philosophy remain to justify it when they look themselves in the mirror before they go to bed at night.

Why do they want it? Who the fuck knows? Most of them are still the people Obama got dinged for too accurately describing: victims of the same pandemic, the same economic collapse, the same erosion of the social safety net. They may have voted for all of it, but they surely didn’t think it would work out this way, I’ve got to think. But I’ve also got to think the millennarian strain in evangelical Christianity — you know, the reason they support Israel so devoutly: not because they’re pro-Jewish, but because the Book of Revelation needs the Jews back in Israel to get on with the whole Rapture and Armageddon thing — has something to do with it. As do the oligarchs who fund the whole thing. You’ll notice the stock market’s doing fine even though the world’s going to hell and people are dying in droves and unemployment is as high as it was during the Great Depression. After all, if you’re rich enough, a recession is just an opportunity to buy assets at fire sale prices. The boom and bust of the ‘business cycle’? It’s a feature, not a bug, and screw you, jack, I got mine.

But, at the end of the day, this is the world conservatives want because it’s the only one in which they can continue to govern and hold onto their power. They need the post office hobbled so they can buy stock in FedEx and UPS and so mail-in ballots won’t be reliable. Then people will have to risk catching Covid to vote in person. It dampens turnout, which works out in their favor. They want Russia and whoever putting a thumb on the scale and will bury the story so long as it works in their favor. They want vigilante ’militias’ in the streets armed with military-style weapons, and cops in body armor and no visible identification to match. They want millions of gig workers with no benefits and no minimum wage and no safety net, who will work for scraps and crumbs and live paycheck to paycheck and be grateful for what trickles down.

All along, conservatives have described the world they wanted, this world they have brought about. We didn’t listen, I guess. Didn’t take them seriously. I’m not even sure they all took themselves seriously. I think plenty who profited bringing this about are surprised how far we’ve fallen how fast. That’s the thing about playing with fire. It gets away from you quick.

I’ll you one thing, though. It’s gonna take a hell of a lot of work to rebuild what’s been burned down. I hope enough of us can come together to build something better in its place. If it gets any worse, we won’t be able to.

Why is QAnon?

Now, I’m just some dumb asshole with a computer, just like you, and I hope it would be obvious that each believer will have their own special snowflake configuration of reasons and circumstance. But based on my experience and observation, it mostly seems to come down to three things:

  1. Conspiracy theories are attractive because they make sense out of a world far too complex for most, possibly all, humans to fully or even usefully comprehend. There are too many actors, too many agendas, too many forces at work at every level of action and perception. By positing a force both nebulous and powerful enough to steer the course of world events, the believer obtains a frame through which everything can be made to make sense.
  2. Once they’ve bought in, it’s extremely difficult, even impossible, for most people to admit they made a mistake. Especially, in my experience, people who see the world through a hierarchical lens, with themselves at or near the top of said hierarchy. Their privilege, in this view, stems from their virtue. Admitting error tarnishes that virtue, endangering the privilege and making the hierarchy wobble. Nobody likes when their worldview starts showing cracks in the facade, much less the foundation.
  3. Last — and in this case, I fear, most compelling — by projecting such evil debasement onto their adversaries, believers in QAnon and other similar conspiracies not only validate the visceral hate they have cultivated and been encouraged to cultivate by their leaders for those adversaries, they liberate themselves to act on that hate, without quarter, hesitation, or mercy, even making it, in their eyes, a positive moral duty to give in to the violent and/or oppressive impulses that so often follow such visceral hatred.

That’s my two cents. Your mileage may vary.

DKE-19 Outbreak Threatens COVID-19 Response

“DKE-19 is in the same family of misinformation viruses as the one that caused the b00m3R-FB outbreak in 2016. It is transmitted person-to-person through a variety of means, including listening to/repeating bullshit while on the toilet (“feco-aural transmission”), and sharing dirty tweedles.

Transmission most often occurs through casual digital contact from asymptomatic individuals. This strain tends to be hidden in well-intended partial truths, making population detection more difficult. DKE-19 can hide in viral reservoirs throughout the internet. Once infection takes hold, DKE-19 is exceedingly difficult to treat. Several cases of second-hand craniofacial injury have been reported, related to collisions between desks and actual experts’ heads.”

https://medium.com/@noahhaber/flatten-the-curve-of-armchair-epidemiology-9aa8cf92d652

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

Petr Knava on the Opportunity the Coronavirus Shutdown Offers

“COVID-19 could be a truly paradigm-shattering thing. People are waking up to the rotten underpinnings of our broken society. Class consciousness is stirring like it hasn’t in a long time. If married effectively to an ecological mindset, it has the potential to build a better world for everyone. If we seize the reins effectively and decide en masse to do away with the exploitative capitalist model that has led us to this point, and we have the courage to face up against the elites who will do everything in their power to fight back against us, then we have a once in a lifetime chance to turn this ship around, and to make the human experiment into something wonderful, instead of down a tragic dead end.”

https://www.pajiba.com/web_culture/twitter-reacts-to-the-canals-of-venice-getting-clean-because-of-coronavirus.php