Invasion of the mental capability snatchers!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2019

Science fiction, and the Inka, again:
It's been quite a while since observations of cable news made us think of the science fiction film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The leading authority on the famous film describes the film as follows:
The film's storyline concerns an extraterrestrial invasion that begins in the fictional California town of Santa Mira. Alien plant spores have fallen from space and grown into large seed pods, each one capable of reproducing a duplicate replacement copy of each human. As each pod reaches full development, it assimilates the physical characteristics, memories, and personalities of each sleeping person placed near it; these duplicates, however, are devoid of all human emotion...

The slang expression "pod people" that arose in late 20th century American culture references the emotionless duplicates seen in the film.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers was selected in 1994 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
The pod people look like actual people, but they actually aren't. They're quasi-duplicates, "devoid of all human emotion."

In the last few days, we've thought of those famous pod people as we've watched our own liberal team performing on cable TV. In this case, the participants seem to be quasi-duplicates devoid of all capacity for human intelligence. Their inability to function in a rational way is revealed as they create conflations and confusions concerning questions of who may have meddled, intervened or interfered in the 2016 election.

These duplicates seem incapable of exercising the simplest kinds of human rationality. In particular, they seem to be incapable of grasping such basic facts as these:
Elementary facts which can no longer be grasped:
More than one country could meddle, intervene or interfere in some particular election.

One country could meddle, intervene or interfere in an election to a highly significant degree while another country meddled, intervened of interfered in a less extensive way.

Hacking emails could be one way to intervene in an election. But there could imaginably be other ways to meddle, interfere, intervene.

The question of what constitutes "meddling" is a subjective matter on which people might disagree.
It's especially jarring to see the duplicates playing tape in which people explicitly say that the Russians hacked the DNC emails even as the duplicates seem to think that something different is being said. At any rate, it's impossible to stage a sane discussion if people, or their duplicates, have lost the ability to display the simplest forms of reason or observe the simplest distinctions.

Regarding some possible duplicates:

Yesterday afternoon, was that Nicolle Wallace on our TV machine, or was that a duplicate incapable of basic rationality? This morning, was that Joe Scarborough or a replacement? How about Brian Williams, as seen on TV last night? As always, "his hair was perfect!"

They've made us think of the body snatchers, but also of the Inka.

Let's return to Charles Mann's description of the way the Inka empire fell to a small Spanish force led by Juan Pizarro in the 16th century. We're quoting from Mann's widely acclaimed 2005 book, 1491: New Revelations of The Americas Before Columbus.

This empire fell to a small Spanish force? How did that happen, and why? As with other "first contact" disasters, Mann describes the powerful role of epidemic disease in the fall of the Inka empire.

Smallpox enabled the Spanish conquest. Along the way, though, Mann sets the scene as he describes the empire's massive extent:
MANN (page 71): In 1491 the Inka ruled the greatest empire on earth. Bigger than Ming Dynasty China, bigger than Ivan the Great’s expanding Russia, bigger than Songhay in the Sahel or powerful Great Zimbabwe in the West Africa tablelands, bigger than the cresting Ottoman Empire, bigger than the Triple Alliance (as the Aztec empire is more precisely known), bigger by far than any European state, the Inka dominion extended over a staggering thirty-two degrees of latitude—as if a single power held sway from St. Petersburg to Cairo. The empire encompassed every imaginable type of terrain, from the rainforest of upper Amazonia to the deserts of the Peruvian coast and the twenty-thousand-foot peaks of the Andes in between.
This spectacularly competent empire was "bigger by far than any European state."

That said, it wasn't all sweetness and light in the empire's administrative behavior. In this passage, Mann describes types of behavior with obvious echoes today:
MANN (page 71): The Inka goal was to knit the scores of different groups in western South America—some as rich as the Inka themselves, some poor and disorganized, all speaking different languages—into a single bureaucratic framework under the direct rule of the emperor. The unity was not merely political: the Inka wanted to meld together the area's religions, economics and arts. Their methods were audacious, brutal, and efficient; they removed entire populations from their homelands; shuttled them around the biggest road system on the planet, a mesh of stone-paved thoroughfares totaling 25,000 miles, and forced them to work with other hroups, using only Runa Sumi, the Inka language, on massive, faraway state farms and construction projects...So successful were the Inka at remolding their domain, according to the late John H. Rowe, an eminent archaeologist at the University of California at Berkeley, that Andean history "begins, not with the Wars of [South American] Independence or with the Spanish Conquest, but with the organizing genius of [empire founder] Pachakuti in the 15th century.
Forced removal of ethnic groups, with forced elimination of native languages? Similar practices occurred in the development of this very country. Similar practices are occurring in the world today.

This helps remind us of an important point—especially as judged by present-day standards, human behavior has been heartless and cruel all over the world, down through the annals of time. This isn't a terrible thing to remember when childish professors and hapless journalists are scolding the nation's second graders, and their parents, about the beliefs and behaviors of English settlers in New England in 1621.

Especially as judged by present-day norms, people have been heartless and cruel down through the annals of time. People have also exhibited crazy ideation. This brings us back to the question of how this powerful empire fell.

Mann stresses the role of one of the epidemics which arrived in the Americas with microbes brought by the first Europeans (and their pigs), devastating indigenous populations who lacked resistance to these European diseases.

Among the Inka, the epidemic helped create a war for power as the empire's elites took ill and died in great numbers. In describing the way this civil war unfolded, Mann describes the role of royal mummies in the empire's culture:
MANN (page 98): The ferocity of the civil war was exacerbated by the epidemic's impact on a peculiarly Andean institution: royal mummies. People in Andean societies viewed themselves as belonging to family lineages...Royal lineages, called panaqa, were special. Each new emperor was born in one panaqa but created a new one when he [ascended to power]. To the new panaqa belonged the Inka [the emperor] and his wives and children, along with his retainers and advisers. When the Inka died his panaqa mummified his body. Because the Inka was believed to be an immortal deity, his mummy was treated, logically enough, as if it were still living. Soon after arriving in Qosqo, Pizarro's companion Miguel de Estete saw a parade of defunct emperors. They were brought out on litters, "seated on their thrones and surrounded by pages and women with flywhisks in their hands, who ministered to them with as much respect as if they had been alive."
Crazy ideation has flourished wherever we humans have ventured. In a way which struck us as extremely ahistorical, Professor Silverman, an actual history professor, rolled his eyes at some of the religious ideation of English settlers in what is now New England in 1621. The childishness of these observations made his Thanksgiving Day column a natural for the New York Times.

The Europe of 1621 was possessed of crazy ideation (and barbaric conventional practices) as was the world of the Inka. As noted, crazy ideation has flourished wherever we humans have been.

Back to Mann! In this passage, he continues to describe this peculiar aspect of Inka ideation and conduct:
MANN (continuing directly): Because the royal mummies were not considered dead, their successors obviously could not inherit their wealth. Each Inka’s panaqa retained all of his possessions forever, including his palaces, residences and shrines, all of his remaining clothes, eating utensils, fingernail parings, and hair clippings, and the tribute from the land he had conquered. In consequence, as Pedro Pizarro realized, "the greater part of the people, treasure, expenses, and vices [in the empire] were under the control of the dead." The mummies spoke through female mediums who represented the panaqa’s surviving courtiers or their descendants. With almost a dozen immortal emperors jostling for position, high-level Inka society was characterized by ramose political intrigue of a scale which would have delighted the Medici...
"The mummies spoke through female mediums who represented the panaqa’s surviving courtiers or their descendants." So it went as smallpox devastated the Inka ruling class, precipitating a debilitating civil war which helped bring down the world's largest empire.

The mummies spoke through female mediums! We first compared this crackpot human culture to that of the mainstream pundit corps in 2006. The comparison has come to mind again in recent days we we've watched the established oracles of our own liberal tribe unsuccessfully attempting to function in the face of the massive disorder into which our own society has been thrown.

Their earlier conduct helped give us our Trump. In the past dew days, they've seemed a great deal like duplicates. This is where the corporate mouthpieces of our floundering tribe seem to stand today.

Sadly, it's all anthropology now. According to leading future experts who speak to us through nocturnal submissions the haters like to deride as mere dreams, this was pretty much the best our limited species could do.

We've checked with Cassandra; she's embarrassed for our tribe. In an obvious brush with greatness, the oracle of Delphi was there. Distraught, she refused to opine.

58 comments:

  1. Hmm. I suppose I could go with "pod people", but I still feel 'zombies' fits better. And it's shorter.

    It's certainly true that your lib-zombie comrades are "devoid of all human emotion", but they're sure capable of imitating infinite self-righteous outrage.

    So, perhaps this could alleviate your grief somewhat, dear Bob...

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    1. "devoid of all emotion"
      Nice. So the whole "Democrats only care about feelings" claim is just another bullshit Right-wing meme. Who knew?

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  2. Somerby doesn't read a book in order to find out what it says, he reads it in order to snatch parts that fit his own preconceived narrative.

    The Inka didn't exist for Somerby's use and abuse. I find it offensive that he co-opts their experience for his own purposes, and doubly offensive that he does so in order to malign today's people living under difficult circumstances.

    Somerby is a huge asshole. If he doesn't know how to read a book on its own terms, he shouldn't have a library card.

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    1. What about art books?

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    2. The equivalent of Somerby's approach, applied to an art book, would be to find a picture that looks vaguely like Rachel Maddow and talk about how awful the artist is because the woman looks like an Inka pod person. Extra points if the artist was also an elitist. Perhaps some mockery of the elitist text surrounding the pictures.

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    3. And I find it offensive that you’ve decided to be offended on behalf of citizens of the Incan Empire. No, not offensive. What’s that other word?

      Oh, yeah. Hilarious

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    4. So you think that somebody you disagree with shouldn't have privileges at a public library. Is it even possible to be a huger asshole than that?

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    5. I am not offended on behalf of Incans. I am offended on behalf of liberals, who Somerby repeatedly has tried to describe in dehumanizing and eliminationist terms. Here Somerby uses the techniques that have been used in the past to target and harm defined groups.

      The Trump campaign has made a point of targeting the media, to the point of inciting violence against them at his rallies. Media have required secret service protection, been placed in cages to shield them from his supporters, while he incites violence from the stage.

      Somerby daily rants against the media here, undermining the only people who are speaking out against Trump's malfeasance in office. I don't just disagree with Somerby, I believe he is doing harm to our nation, has joined the dark side and is giving aid and comfort to Trump's regime every time he calls journalists pod people (and similar dehumanizing terms). And today, he does this using language familiar from the persecution of Hispanics by equating them with Aztecs who practiced blood sacrifice (usually of virgins or children). History isn't meant to be weaponized by conservatives to attack their preferred targets.

      I don't find what Somerby does funny. But you yuk it up and enjoy yourself.

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    6. I am not offended on behalf of Incans.

      Oh, sorry, How did I ever get confused?

      I am offended on behalf of liberals….

      Then please stop that. I’m a liberal and I’ll take my own offense where I find it. I don’t need a numpty like you to take offense for me.

      who Somerby repeatedly has tried to describe in dehumanizing and eliminationist terms.

      I’m offended that you used the nominative who instead of the proper objective whom. Which makes about as much sense as your statement. Nowhere does TDH use “eliminationist” language. As I recall, in both versions of Body Snatchers, the pod people, far from being eliminated, have the upper hand. TDH doesn’t mark the Incans as especially worthy of elimination. He even says they belong to the standard sorry story of human history. Their destruction came about from lack of immunity, hastened by a paralysis of their governance due to their ”crazy ideation.”

      Somerby daily rants against the media here, undermining the only people who are speaking out against Trump's malfeasance in office.

      TDH thinks they’re doing it badly. And journalists aren’t the only people speaking out against Trump. You think journalists introduced articles of impeachment in the House?

      And today, he does this using language familiar from the persecution of Hispanics by equating them with Aztecs….

      Sorry to be skeptical, but could I have some examples of Aztec-related slurs against Hispanics?

      I don't find what Somerby does funny.

      I don’t either, but I’ve never seen his stand-up act. I’m not laughing at or with Somerby; I’m laughing at you.

      But you yuk it up and enjoy yourself.

      Hey, you already claim the right to be offended on my behalf. Why not tell me what I can and can’t laugh at?

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  3. Somerby has never expressed disappointment that Hillary Clinton was not elected president.

    He thinks this issue of interference in the election is a matter of semantics, definitions of meddling. The point of any discussion of interference is that the rightful winner of the 2016 Presidential election didn't get to serve but was replaced by a usurper, put into the White House by Russia (first and foremost) in collusion with Trump. Mueller didn't come out and say it, but the facts all point to that conclusion and it is what happened.

    Atrocities commited by the Inkas are no different than those committed by the Egyptians in the course of building their pyramids or any of the other primitive empires. The Greeks owned slaves who made Aristotle's cushy life possible. The Roman Empire was barbaric too, as were the Middle Ages and even factory life in the 1700s. Men were impressed to serve on British ships fighting Napoleon. The Civil War was brutal and so was WWI but Hitler outdid them in cruelty (aided and abetted by those who carried out orders). Russia under Stalin was hideous. And the march goes on...

    But that doesn't give Somerby the right to call people stupid and brutal and so on, collectively assigning the weight of human blunder to modern day liberals as he mocks those trying to live good lives, help others and do the right things.

    We are capable of both good and evil and those traits are not doled out with any balance across time or people. If Somerby is unable to assess individuals on the basis of what they have themselves done, he shouldn't be writing a blog and he has no business interacting with human beings. It is time for him to close up shop and go away.

    This has to be his ugliest post to date, and that includes the ones trying to justify Roy Moore's behavior.

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    1. Roy Moore's legal and welcomed behavior is none of your damned business, no matter how it offends your oh-so-blue nose. Roy Moore's illegal or predatory behavior is different, and TDH wanted to know why journalists were so interested in the former and not the latter. Now that is ugly behavior.

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    2. "...TDH wanted to know why journalists were so interested in the former and not the latter."

      As one of the world's foremost authorities on mind-reading, I, too, read Somerby's mind to find out what he thinks, and deadrat is 100% correct.

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  4. The everlasting dominions of mummies. The endless human sacrifices,and the endless usurping to obtain the sacrifices. Their endless expansion. It makes me wonder if the Incas viewed the faces of their pale, severe, and pitiless conquistadores with a dreadful sort of relief.

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  5. "The mummies spoke through female mediums! We first compared this crackpot human culture to that of the mainstream pundit corps in 2006. The comparison has come to mind again in recent days we we've watched the established oracles of our own liberal tribe unsuccessfully attempting to function in the face of the massive disorder into which our own society has been thrown."

    For those of you wondering how I can know that Somerby has problems with women, notice the first sentence of this quote. He has singled this out for special note and related it back to the media, which consists of both men and women, but somehow it is the women that distress Somerby the most, presumably dear Rachel.

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    1. Read on down about Cassandra and the oracle of Delphi, Einstein.

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    2. Not sure what your point is. Cassandra was not the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle of Delphi could be either male or female (a high priestess). Somerby is complaining that no one listens to him. He doesn't think of himself or Cassandra or the Oracle as the same as the female mediums he equates with media pundits. He considers himself an oracle (speaking of grandiose).

      An oracle, who sees and predicts the future, is not the same as a medium, who hears and repeats the words of others.

      I'm beginning to think that Somerby is schizophrenic because his use of imagery and analogies have become inconsistent and don't make any sense. Kind of random. Today's reference to Inka, juxtaposed with pod people, is close to word salad. The connection is too loose to be poetry or reasoning and comes across as an incoherent justification for name-calling against liberals, as always, except that today he accuses us of all of the brutalities of prehistory. Nothing any of us have done merits that.

      But you think you understand today's post? That makes you as ridiculous as the rest of your conservative troll buddies. This is perhaps how you can listen to a Trump speech and think it makes sense too.

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    3. "Not sure what your point is."

      I'm utterly sure that you can't read.

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    4. Why do you think that sentence is any kind of criticism. It only expresses disagreement. I'm sure you disagree with me and support Somerby, but unless you are specific, you aren't really saying anything at all.

      If you understand what Somerby is saying today, explain it. Otherwise, you're just throwing poo.

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    5. TDH’s refrain is that “it’s all anthropology now,” that we’re no more advanced than the peculiar tribes we think we can study objectively. He knows this because he’s been told by “future experts,” who would have the advantage of knowing our present as their past.

      But how can he know experts from the future? From his dreams (“nocturnal submissions” — read into this wordplay what you will), of course. And he mentions two prophetesses from ancient Greek history who have apparently haunted his dreams.

      The first is Cassandra, a princess of Troy, daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, and sister-in-law of Helen, the launcher of a myriad of ships and all-round trouble maker. Cassandra is the first member of the #ΜεΟμως movement, having been promised the gift of prophesy by Apollo in return for sexual favors. There’s a bit of god-said/she said here. Some say Cassandra agreed to have sex with Apollo and then reneged; others say the divine gift was an enticement given without the explicit quid pro quo. In either case, the power imbalance between human and immortal would get Apollo in trouble with HR today. No matter who agreed or didn’t agree to what, Apollo was miffed and unable to take away his divine gift, cursed the object of his attentions with the proviso that while she would always see the future clearly, no one would believe her.

      The Trojans ignored Cassandra’s warning about the giant wooden horse the Greeks had left at the walls of the city. The horse hid a contingent of Greek warriors, who once inside the walls, sacked the city. Why the Trojans needed Cassandra at all is a mystery to me: when they moved the horse, they could hear the clang of the armor of the Greek’s inside.

      Cassandra met a dreary end. She was raped after Troy fell, nobody would punish her rapist, and she ended up as a sex slave to King Agamemnon. Agamemnon’s wife Clytemnestra eventually murdered them both.

      But I digress. TDH says that Cassandra, knowing what she knows, is embarrassed for us. Which is odd, since she’s long dead. Perhaps the gift of prophesy survives into the afterlife. If so, why does TDH believe her? Perhaps Apollo’s curse doesn’t survive.

      The second dream figure is the Oracle at Delphi. Sorry, @5:40P, Apollo’s shrine at Delphi had officiants of both sexes, but the hierarch was always a priestess.

      I think you’re right, 5:40P, that TDH considers himself somewhat of an unheeded oracle, or at least a jeremiah. But if you take that seriously, then you also have to believe that TDH thinks he’s working from a large campus staffed with a team of analysts.

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    6. Today's reference to Inka, juxtaposed with pod people, is close to word salad.

      Word salad is a psychiatric term of art meaning speech so disconnected and tangential that it presents no discernible thread of coherent thought. This is a language disorder symptomatic in some schizophrenics, and it’s probably best not to compare it to arguments that you find inapt.

      [T[oday he [TDH] accuses us of all of the brutalities of prehistory.

      First of all, TDH’s words are

      Crazy ideation has flourished wherever we humans have ventured.

      I think it’s telling that you’re immediately up in arms at what seems an obvious truth and not a personal accusation. Are we living in a society with widespread crazy ideation? What percentage of Americans have their heads planted firmly between their Left Behind and their right buttock and believe that they will soon be raptured into heaven just before Jesus returns? What percentage of Americans believe that the Bible is a literal history book and that the Baby Jesus once accompanied children to Sunday School on the backs of dinosaurs?

      Nothing any of us have done merits that.

      Nothing? None of us? One of the brutalities of modern human history is the concentration camp for “the Other.” On our southern border, we have witnessed as the implementation of a xenophobic policy, concentration camps for immigrant children deliberately separated from their parents as part of that policy. Everyone who voted for Trump “merits” a part in that; everyone who still supports Trump “merits” an inexcusable part in that.

      But you think you understand today's post?

      It’s not that hard to understand. Understanding doesn’t require agreement.

      All this blog entry is divided into two parts. The first is that news personalities remind the blogger of the replicants in the movie The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They kinda look human, but they don’t have the full complement of human characteristics. The movie replicants are devoid of human emotion; the TV replicants are devoid of rational thought.

      I don’t find this trope particularly apt because the movie replicants are capable of rationality. In the 1978 version, Leonard Nemoy is chilling as the replicant Dr David Kibner, presenting himself as a calm, rational therapist. But I can’t help but forgive someone who makes a Warren Zevon reference.

      The second part of the blog is dedicated to the Inka Empire, a not unusually “heartless and cruel” entity, that faced an existential crisis in the form of the variola virus from the Old World. The virus devastated the elites that ran the empire, and as they tried to cope, they were hampered by a culture based on the crazy ideation of competing royal lineages based on mummies deemed to be immortal. That’s the kind of irrationality we can see clearly, but how about our own dedication to the irrationality as found on TV? Could that hamper our own responses to existential crises?

      I don’t find this argument convincing. Argument by analogy is usually weak, and I think we’re seeing the bog-standard mix of celebrity and incompetence rather than lack of rational thought. But that doesn’t mean I can’t follow TDH’s train of thought.

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    7. Here you attribute a train of thought to Somerby that he has not himself made clear. That is a form of mind reading too, something you profess to deplore.

      Most of us here could clean up Somerby's work to force it to make more sense. But Somerby has never said anything to deplore the camps Trump has set up. It is too generous of you to suggest that may be what he means by current brutality.

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    8. To be fair, you (or some other Anonymous Ignoramus just like you) said that TDH accuses “us” of “all” prehistoric brutality. You then claim that none of “us” merits that. It was my choice to interpret “us” as members of US society and to choose only one form of brutality. In that, I may have been misguided by my failed interpretation, but this was a counter to the commenter, not to TDH.

      Do you see why I say you can’t read for comprehension?

      Here you attribute a train of thought to Somerby that he has not himself made clear. That is a form of mind reading too, something you profess to deplore.

      It would be and I do. So if I’ve attributed a train of thought to TDH, then I’ll stand corrected. My discussion of TDH’s position is limited to his analogy of the pod people and his lessons from the Incan Empire. Please tell me where I’ve gone wrong on those explications.

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  6. People do brutal things to other people when they don't consider those others to be people, the same as themselves.

    When Somerby refers to liberals or humanity as pods, invaders, mummies, without emotion, he dehumanizes them and makes it possible to treat those others defined as less human with brutality and cruelty. Mao is no better when he calls liberals zombies.

    This is what Trump does when he refers to immigrants as vermin, encourages supporters to rough up protesters, objectifies women, and tweets calling those he dislikes dogs. He is dehumanizing groups in order to treat them badly.

    When Somerby behaves in the same manner as Trump, he is the one who enables Trump and put him in office, not those of us who despise this attitude and find Trump repellent for exactly this kind of behavior. Somerby gave us Trump. As with all conservatives, every accusation is a projection and a confession.

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    1. The pods aren't "liberals or humanity"; they're TV personalties masquerading as journalists.

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    2. In that case, what does the extensive quote about Inkas and the rant about degradation of humanity have to do with anything?

      Notice that these are not all TV personalities masquerading as journalists who are being called out. It is just the ones who are not on Fox or CNN. The ones who are ostensibly liberal (and I assume, human).

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    3. In that case, what does the extensive quote about Inkas and the rant about degradation of humanity have to do with anything?

      The claim is that we’re not so different from the Incas. Our elites are facing existential threats and they can’t operate effectively with their own “crazy ideation.”

      Notice that these are not all TV personalities masquerading as journalists who are being called out. It is just the ones who are not on Fox or CNN. The ones who are ostensibly liberal (and I assume, human).

      CNN comes in for its share of TDH’s ire. It’s true TDH doesn’t bother with particulars on Faux News. He does say, though that liberals notice the failures on Fox while we ignore the failures on networks they like.

      Aren’t the ones who are ostensibly liberal the ones he compares to pod people?

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  7. "When Somerby behaves in the same manner as Trump, he is the one who enables Trump and put him in office, not those of us who despise this attitude and find Trump repellent for exactly this kind of behavior. Somerby gave us Trump. As with all conservatives, every accusation is a projection and a confession."

    You could play this theme for hours and the irony will never penetrate.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=73tGe3JE5IU

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    1. Bob Somerby is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

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    2. Back at you.

      Why are you even here? The presence of so many conservatives in this blog does more to substantiate the idea that Somerby is himself conservative than anything I might say.

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    3. The presence of so many conservatives in this blog does more to substantiate the idea that Somerby is himself conservative than anything I might say.

      Anything you might say? How low a bar is that? Of course, I may be confusing you with other Anonymous Ignoramuses, but whose fault it that?

      Do these work for you:

      The presence of Mao, our Village Troll, does more to substantiate the idea that Somerby is himself a troll.

      The presence of David in Cal, our Village Idiot, does more to substantiate the idea that Somerby is himself an idiot.


      They don’t work for me. TDH may be a troll, an idiot, or the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being. But whatever the case, it can’t be made from the ramblings from his commentariat.

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    4. Are you seriously arguing that liberal blogs don't attract liberal commenters and conservative blogs don't attract conservative commenters? I think that will be a difficult empirical case for your to make. I agree that such a case isn't built on logic -- it is a matter of observation.

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    5. "TDH may be a troll"

      And water may be wet.

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  8. I enjoyed this essay. I don’t often run across essays mentioning the Inka, quoting from experts in the field. Thanks, Bob, for transcribing excerpts from what must be a fascinating book.

    Two quibbles. Have to admit, I’m not keeping track of the “Russian hacking of the DNC server” thing. I’m too busy working to get Bernie elected. Last I heard, the emails were posted by Wikileaks, and Assange denied getting the info from Russia. VIPS agreed, walked it back a bit, then reaffirmed their assessment, which was that it could not have been hacked, but rather accessed internally. Yes, I’ve read disputations that it could be done. Whatever, it showed that Bernie was being actively blacked out, just like today. I’ll be glad to look at any new developments if they exist. Can I assume the feckless Dems will provide the smoking gun? Suuure…

    Secondly, the conflation of the Inka with the MSM was fairly apropos. Rather than bludgeoning the local populace with corporate political messaging, it was actually done with bludgeons. More convincing than the present day, I suppose, but it does show a bit of progress in human affairs. Which is rapidly devolving, in no small part because of the corporate MSM.

    Leroy

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    1. Any stick will do to beat your favorite horse, eh Leroy?

      Are you talking about when Bernie hacked Hillary's donor files on the DNC's machines and they were punished by being denied access to their own files?

      Have you read the Mueller report, which details the Russian hacking efforts? It sounds like you haven't. Why would the Dems need to provide anything when the FBI did a thorough investigation and the results are available via Mueller?

      If you are implying that the DNC gave Wikileaks the data, then you are promoting one of those Russian conspiracy theories that the conservatives love, and I doubt you have anything to do with Bernie or his campaign (unless they too are colluding with Russia).

      If you are working to get Bernie elected, you are working to get Trump elected. Bernie has no chance in hell of being nominated. All he can do is be a spoiler like he was in 2016. Russia understands how to manipulate 3rd parties to divide the liberal vote and undermine whoever is nominated by the Dems. Fool you once, maybe, but twice is deliberate.

      I don't believe I've ever heard you express a liberal idea here. That makes me think you are no more liberal than David in Cal.

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    2. Leroy, How is the MSM like the Inca? That makes no sense. Because they spoke through female mediums? What about Brian Williams, Chris Matthews, et al? The media is dominated and has always been dominated by men...

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    3. I’d like to see more, anon, about “Bernie” hacking anything. The party responsible was summarily fired. What happened after that? Was Bernie’s campaign indicted in any way, besides anyone but the corrupt DNC? Seems not, but if you want to shed more light on that dead subject, feel free.

      I haven’t read the Mueller report, I admit, so if it details Russian hacking efforts, perhaps you could share them with me. Do they involve the DNC server, currently residing in Ukraine (sarc)?

      I don’t know who gave the leaked information to Wikileaks. Do you? And if you think Bernie has no chance in hell, who does? Warren? I like her – a lot – but she’s not going to win either, by your metrics.

      Relax, 6:24, I was just writing that I enjoyed the essay, and criticizing Bob at the same time. My ignorance was an open invitation. Make this a conversation, not an attack, if that might be part of your constitution.

      Leroy

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    4. 1. You say you want to see more about Bernie hacking Hillary's donor data base, then you say the person on his staff who did that was fired. So you admit that his campaign person did that. Bernie's campaign was punished by denying him access to his own donor files, but a court ruled the DNC could not do that because it would hinder his participation in the election. Why was the person fired if he didn't do it?

      2. Bernie and his followers dislike the DNC because Bernie doesn't want to be a Democrat but thinks he is entitled to resources and help from the DNC anyway. He thinks the rules, which are clear to all candidates, shouldn't be applied to him and considers elections rigged against him when he doesn't follow procedures and is hurt by his campaign's incompetence. Yet, he doesn't mind working caucuses and taking Russian help and ignoring FEC rules too, if it gets him what he wants.

      3. You should read the Mueller report before you go around spreading conservative conspiracy theories. It details Russian hacking efforts in detail.

      4. This belief that you cannot know who gave the leaked info to Wikileaks is wrong. These were crimes that can and have been investigated.

      5. My "metrics" do not exclude Warren. She isn't an old fart waving his arms around who cannot figure out how to appeal to women and minorities. She hasn't called herself a Democratic Socialist and alienated the Democratic Party by refusing to be a team player.

      You call on me to make my comments less of an attack, yet you attack me every time you visit this blog.

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  9. It isn't lack of mental capability that causes brutality, cruelty and atrocities. It is lack of empathy. That is a form of lack of emotion -- specifically unwillingness or inability to feel the emotions that imagining oneself in another's place might evoke.

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    1. Lack of empathy occurs most during wartime, when the true believers swallow whole the propaganda of their leaders. Rape of Nanking, Vietnam, take your pick. I doubt the Inka were any different.

      Kind of like the corporate millionaire MSM, though their tactics are different.

      Leroy

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    2. Corporate millionaire MSM is at war? With whom?

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    3. They are at war with you. They are at war with me. They are at war with progressivism. Workers. Any change that effects the elite ruling class, is the enemy in their war.

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    4. And what brutality or cruelty have they committed?

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    5. @12:17
      If you go by Somerby, they have committed the brutality of not giving any credence to the notion that Ukraine meddled in our election.

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    6. They help further engineer this brutal greed.

      The bottom half of all U.S. households have 32% less wealth than in 2003. The top 1% have more than twice as much as they did then. https://on.wsj.com/32hOx3c

      They also help perpetrate endless war by advancing the agenda of the elite ruling class.

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  10. This must be the passage from Silverman’s essay that got Somerby going:
    “The Native American past and present tend to make white people uncomfortable because they turn patriotic histories and heroes inside out and loosen claims on morality, authority and justice. “

    Somerby must think that this fits with what he perceives is a present-day liberal hatred of the “white working class”.

    It’s really that simple.

    The post doesn’t have to make any real sense (and it doesn’t) as long as one understands Somerby’s ultimate motivation.

    That is why he points out the barbaric practices of the Inca: to show how the Native Americans weren’t any better than the white man, that they exhibited “crazy” ideas too, so why make fun of the English Pilgrims and antagonize “those” voters who like their myths Pilgrimified?

    It is useless to point out that Professor Silverman isn’t really making fun of or deriding the Pilgrims; he just calls for a different focus for the story.

    As to the part about election meddling, interference, intervention, or what other words Somerby wants to throw around, the connection to the Incas and conquistadors seems nonexistent, and he continues to talk as though email hacking was all that Russia has been charged with and that the Republicans (outside of Trump) are carefully distinguishing between “hacking of emails” and “some other form of interference.” Trump sees no distinction, and his sycophants, like Sens Kennedy and Cruz, are deliberately muddying the waters in service to him. It would be nice if Somerby recognized and acknowledged that. It is also worth noting that Russia is accused of doing a lot more than just hack emails; they had trolls on Facebook and hacked into election systems around the country, among other things (Paul Manafort, anyone?) And it strains credulity to say that what Ukraine did amounted to meddling/... etc.

    At any rate, is he saying we Americans are split into two tribes, just like the Incas and the conquistadors, and that both tribes are crazy? Who knows? But that kind of thinking will almost inevitably lead to a Trump.

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  11. “The mummies spoke through female mediums! We first compared this crackpot human culture to that of the mainstream pundit corps in 2006. “

    Is he calling the Inca a “crackpot human culture?” It isn’t at all clear what he means. 2006? Any links to shed some light here? Mighty judgmental of him, isn’t it?

    But wait, let’s see. The MSM are like the Inca because...the Inca used female mediums. Er, no, the MSM is dominated by men.

    The MSM are like the Inca because...the Inca engaged in ethnic cleansing, while the media engages in metaphorical ethnic cleansing...? Er, no...

    But wait: the Inca were conquered and subjugated by the Spanish conquistadors, who in Somerby’s analogy represent...uh, the conservatives, the Russians, Fox News, eh...I got nothin’.

    Wait: the Inca represent the liberals, engaging in metaphorical ethnic cleansing (of the white working class) and who speak through female mediums (Maddow), and are being subjugated by God’s chosen people, the conservatives, represented by the conquistadors...

    Yes? No?

    Or is it just batshit insane free association from Somerby?

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    1. He is teaching us by example about mental incapacity.

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    2. "I got nothin’."

      Well said!

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    3. Drive by troll engages in cheap shot.

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  12. Somerby is perhaps not aware of this, but Mexican Americans in Southern California have long been stereotyped as a blood thirsty people inclined to get in knife fights, based on their Aztec and Inka blood. Somerby's quotes of Mann sound like more of the very ugly racial attacks that people used to produce to malign Hispanic men. The proud assumption of Aztec imagery with the Chicano movement was an attempt to turn such images into positive symbols.

    Somerby is dangerously close to hate speech when he broadens a historical description into an ascription of properties to groups of people, even though it is unclear who he is talking about. It makes my skin crawl to hear him do this today. I had thought those days were behind us, but hearing a revival of that stuff in a charged atmosphere where Trump is redefining anti-Semitism and immigrants are being maligned as an invasion, makes me very nervous.

    Somerby is a buffoon, but this misuse of history is not innocent.

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    1. You're an ass. Aztecs were from what is currently Mexico, a long way from the Peru, Bolivia etc. of today where the Inka flourished.

      And if you equate Bob's loathing of MSM media with hate speech, then you're just about hopeless.

      Leroy

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    2. I used the Aztecs as an example of how such lurid stories about Precolumbian cultures have been used to malign and stereotype Hispanics today. I did not confuse them with the Inkas or Mayans or Toltecs. I said that attributing the worst traits of past cultures to today's descendants was not only wrong but has an ugly history of misuse in order to stereotype and incarcerate Hispanics in So Calif, that continues with Trump's vendetta against Hispanic immigrants, some of whom are from Bolivia among many other places. What do you think Trump means when he says there are some really bad guys among them? Gangs are bad enough without being beefed up with images of blood sacrifice and brutality drawn from books like the one Somerby is quoting, specifically to illustrate how bad humanity has been.

      And, yes, I do equate Somerby's misuse of history with hate speech. It is wrong to do this. In fact, it is indefensible, yet you are defending him on the grounds that I cannot tell Mexico from Peru?

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    3. No, I'm saying that Bob's posts aren't hate-speech, per se. Nobody is going to decide to murder Rachel Maddow if they read Bob's posts, or even think of it. Either they agree with Bob that she's incompetent (how could she not be, she works for corporate media), or they don't.

      I can't stand Maddow, and I agree with Bob about her (though my 75 yo mother adores her). Does that mean I want to kill Maddow? She awful.

      Don't be such an eggshell.

      Leroy

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  14. "our own liberal tribe"

    Yeah, right.

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  15. Taegan Goddard quotes Graff:

    "Garrett Graff: “The idea that Fox News represents a literal threat to our national security, on par with Russia’s Internet Research Agency or China’s Ministry of State Security, may seem like a dramatic overstatement of its own—and I, a paid contributor to its competitor CNN, may appear a biased voice anyway—but this week has made clear that, as we get deeper into the impeachment process and as the 2020 election approaches, Fox News is prepared to destroy America’s democratic traditions if it will help its most important and most dedicated daily viewer.”

    “The threat posed to our democracy by Fox News is multifaceted: First and most simply, it’s clearly advancing and giving voice to narratives and smears backed and imagined by our foreign adversaries. Second, its overheated and bombastic rhetoric is undermining America’s foundational ideals and the sense of fair play in politics. Third, its unique combination of lies and half-truths has built a virtual reality so complete that it leaves its viewers too misinformed to fulfill their most basic responsibilities as citizens to make informed choices about the direction of the country.”

    ---------------

    Today we hear that Russia funded Lev Parnas and Rudy Guiliani's efforts to smear Joe Biden via a Ukraine investigation instigated by Trump. These conspiracy theories involving the Ukraine are also part of Russian disinformation intended to re-elect Trump.

    It is time to hold Fox accountable for their participation in this conspiracy to place a Russian puppet in the presidency. This is an invasion of our country as surely as any military attack and we need to defend ourselves from it.

    Somerby is attacking the wrong journalists. It is the right who is complicit in this foreign attack on our democracy. By attacking the remaining legitimate news sources, Somerby gives aid to this foreign attack.

    This is serious and it is time we all took it seriously.

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