We don't normally do this but...

MONDAY, AUGUST 10, 2020

...we're doing this today:
We've just skimmed George Packer's piece from the June Atlantic. It appeared beneath these headlines:
We Are Living in a Failed State
The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.
The essay ends with these paragraphs. They may not be worth reading:
PACKER (6/20): The fight to overcome the pandemic must also be a fight to recover the health of our country, and build it anew, or the hardship and grief we’re now enduring will never be redeemed. Under our current leadership, nothing will change. If 9/11 and 2008 wore out trust in the old political establishment, 2020 should kill off the idea that anti-politics is our salvation. But putting an end to this regime, so necessary and deserved, is only the beginning.

We’re faced with a choice that the crisis makes inescapably clear. We can stay hunkered down in self-isolation, fearing and shunning one another, letting our common bond wear away to nothing. Or we can use this pause in our normal lives to pay attention to the hospital workers holding up cellphones so their patients can say goodbye to loved ones; the planeload of medical workers flying from Atlanta to help in New York; the aerospace workers in Massachusetts demanding that their factory be converted to ventilator production; the Floridians standing in long lines because they couldn’t get through by phone to the skeletal unemployment office; the residents of Milwaukee braving endless waits, hail, and contagion to vote in an election forced on them by partisan justices. We can learn from these dreadful days that stupidity and injustice are lethal; that, in a democracy, being a citizen is essential work; that the alternative to solidarity is death. After we’ve come out of hiding and taken off our masks, we should not forget what it was like to be alone.
That's the way the essay ends. Our take?

We can't recover the health of our country because we no longer live in a country.

In a similar vein, we can't emerge from our self-isolation to pay attention to hospital workers, aerospace workers and Floridians standing in long lines (and the like) because there are no hospital workers, aerospace workers or Floridians standing in long lines (and the like) to pay attention to.

We can't pay attention to such people because there no such people exist. In fact, there are no people at all at this point. There are only members of various tiny self-impressed tribes, with the number of (self-isolated) tribes constantly being increased by the logic of us self-impressed dimwits Over Here in our tents on the left.

There's a constantly growing number of tribes, each proudly separate from each. You simply can't run a continental nation this way. When you're committed to the ultimate beauty of ten million tiny small self-impressed tribes, you've ceased to believe in the possibility of having a nation at all.

This article in Sunday's Washington Post strikes us as jaw-droppingly stupid. On the other hand, in a world built of nothing but the propaganda of small groups, it's a portrait of an age.

That age is perfect for those who want to end the very idea of having a nation. We associate that desire with Ron Paul, and we'd say that he's getting his way.

Protest propaganda (and fashion looks) from out Portland way! So it went at the Washington Post. At Slate, meanwhile, Daniel Politi says we should be excited because Biden is up by 6 points in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Under the devolving circumstances, those margins strike us as amazingly slender. Slate treats those margins like they're good news. Can't anyone here play this game?

Fashion looks for the days of rage! It's Clueless for a new generation and for a remarkable age.

29 comments:

  1. "In fact, there are no people at all at this point."

    Speak for yourself, dear Bob, please. For your 'tribe', your zombie cult, the victims of 11/9/2016 mass head explosion, followed by four years of non-stop hysterical goebbelsian propaganda.

    Thank you very much for your concern, dear Bob, but other humyns feel just fine, and go about their business, as usual. No mega-drama, no hysteria outside your zombie cult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ma0 ma0 * ,!, ,!,

      Delete
    2. He's very stupid this Mao fellow. Slow and repetitive, like a robot or a zombie.

      Delete
    3. no no no.
      OK apparently, coz I just got a call from my son, Mao mao is not a robot zombie something. He's a patriotic young man fighting the one world government. Mao is serious. Please act accordingly.
      My account will now go dark...



      Until later.

      Delete
    4. mao puts the "ho" in hoax.

      See you soon Sweetie!

      Delete
  2. But what about "the others" in the white working class, Bob?
    Are you suggesting they are nothing but a tribe who can go piss up a rope, too?

    ReplyDelete
  3. The progressive movement is on the rise, protests are effective, so naturally Somerby is very depressed.

    Sorry dude, enjoy your pasture.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "We can't pay attention to such people because there no such people exist. In fact, there are no people at all at this point. There are only members of various tiny self-impressed tribes..."

    No, Bob....for the love of God, no! This country is full of decent, brave, honorable people: the selfless medical workers who risked their lives for those who needed them so desperately, the meek, deemed "essential", who showed up to work at significant personal risk even though they will surely not inherit, even the woke, so horrified by the killing of George Floyd that they came into the streets night after night to demand a better country, and even the evangelicals and Republicans who might have a different take on what needs fixing.

    You have said it yourself so often...they are not bad people "over there"...but they have been manipulated and misled by those who benefit from strife.

    Keep the faith!

    ReplyDelete
  5. "In fact, there are no people at all at this point. There are only members of various tiny self-impressed tribes, with the number of (self-isolated) tribes constantly being increased by the logic of us self-impressed dimwits Over Here in our tents on the left."

    Somerby's answer to George Packer is "hell, no!" and he has made himself part of the problem, not the solution. He apparently feels no solidarity with liberals, the people he blames for the lack of unity he feels with the rest of the nation.

    I am tempted to feel sorry for Somerby, but my daughter is a health care worker -- a pulmonologist working in the ICU with covid patients. She uses her spare time to donate food to her community's food banks and to engage in other neighborhood activities to keep kids busy while school is shutdown, giving their working parents a break. She isn't worried about tribes. My dentist came into the office solely to fix my broken crown. He didn't have to do that, but he cares about his clients. My friends have all reached out to me, and keep doing so, after the death of my own loved one back in March. Because of the shutdown, I value the few and varied interactions with people even more for the alone time. And I feel a new connection with TV folks like Conan (whose hair is no longer professionally groomed) and Colbert and the many others who are giving us peeks into their real lives, and revealing the kinds of people they are unscripted.

    But Somerby rejects all of this in favor of his own mean-spirited conceit that liberals are wreaking everything by embracing diversity, not homogeneity. He seems to feel that valuing everyone along with their multicultural uniqueness means we cannot feel any connection with each other. Those who feel such a connection every day are no doubt shaking their heads in confusion, just as I am, over the idea that only people who are the same can connect. Difference brings people together when they value each other's different qualities. That idea doesn't seem to register in Somerby's world, where difference only divides people.

    I think Somerby is off the deep end and I would feel sadness if he weren't so busy firing off missiles in all directions, blaming liberals (he is not one) for today's problems and rejecting the idea that it is Trump's incompetence that has brought us to this state.

    It must suck to be Somerby, seeing only ugliness everywhere he looks. You can't spend all of your time attacking others over trivia, without feeling empty and sour inside. Is this what Wittgenstein leads to? There are more uplifting philosophers on the bookshelf. But the surest way to restore one's sense of connection with others is to do something nice for someone who doesn't expect it, to help someone just because they need help and not tell a soul about it. It is what liberals do, when they feel despair, soul-rot like Somerby's.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Existential depression is a luxury in a world where people have lost their paychecks, suffer from an ugly virus, are imminently going to lose their homes, can't see their friends or engage in social activities that are the reward for hard work in essential jobs, can't travel, visit the park or beach, graduated from school but can't start a career, and are losing family or friends to death with no end in sight.

    It is shitty of Somerby to say that these people don't care about each other, and that no one can possibly care for anyone as long as liberals are saying things he disagrees with. The only who feels such a profound disconnection with real life is Trump, and he has narcissism/sociopathy as his excuse. What is Somerby's excuse?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Somerby links to an article about Portland from 2018. He had to go that far back to find something to make himself feel bad?

    Somerby says "This article in Sunday's Washington Post", but the link goes here:

    https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/12/06/rip-george-bush-heres-how-portland-protested-him-in-the-1990s-and-earned-the-name-little-beirut/

    Note that the byline is Dec 6, 2018!

    Is this a cognitive test of some kind? Does he want to see how many people actually click on his links? Or is he the one who is failing the test?

    ReplyDelete
  8. https://apnews.com/f2131b4a06035087afb
    177db809d7143
    non-existent Atlanta health care workers flying to New York

    ReplyDelete
  9. https://apnews.com/f2131b4a06035087afb177db809d7143
    non-existent long lines for unemployment

    ReplyDelete
  10. From David Neiwert at DKos:

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/8/11/1968248/-Pipe-bombs-targeting-Portland-protesters-appear-to-be-the-latest-twist-in-far-right-tactics

    "Not only are white supremacists involved in the violence and property damage at the protests, but it’s clear that they are working multiple strategies to leverage the chaos into what they hope will be a democracy-destroying race and civil war. The tactics so far include:

    Dressing up in clothing typically worn by antifascist demonstrators, mainly the all-black clothing and masks worn by so-called “black bloc” activists. This has been observed both in Portland and in Seattle, where well-known far-right “Proud Boy” street brawlers have been spotted and reported on social media. In both Minneapolis and in Richmond, Virginia, these faux protesters were observed inflicting property damage that was initially blamed on Black Lives Matter.
    Turning up at protest demonstrations fully armed with body armor, often wearing the Hawaiian shirts that signify participation in the “Boogaloo” civil-war movement, and claiming to be sympathetic to the anti-police protesters (many “Boogaloo” enthusiasts are indeed violently disposed toward law-enforcement officers). This has occurred in a variety of places, including in North Minneapolis, in Salisbury, North Carolina, in Bentonville, Arkansas, as well as in Seattle and Los Angeles. The most notorious case occurred in Denver, Colorado, where a “Boogaloo Boi” was arrested by police at a protest with a large arsenal in the trunk of his car.
    Pretending to be antifascists or anarchists on the Internet, primarily with the purpose of duping the public into believing that antifascists were on the verge of attacking communities. One fake flier, spread around Olympia, Washington, offered people $200 to act as “paid protesters,” all of it ostensibly paid for by George Soros and the Open Society Foundation. The most glaring hoax was when a Twitter account calling itself “ANTIFA US” began posting wildly incendiary exhortations: “Tonight’s the night, Comrades. Tonight we say 'F--- The City' and we move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours …” The account was taken down after Twitter ascertained it was associated with activists involved in the white-nationalist Identity Evropa organization. Despite being a fairly obvious hoax, it nonetheless duped Donald Trump Jr. into repeating the post on Instagram with a message supporting his father’s attempts to blame antifascists for the violence.
    Similar hoaxes have also inspired hordes of men to parade around the streets of various small towns around the country where absurd rumors of the impending arrival of hordes of “antifa buses” paid for by George Soros circulated on Facebook, spread by local police and other civic leaders, whipping local residents into a hysterical state in which they have threatened peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters and unsuspecting visitors from out of town."

    ReplyDelete
  11. From the same article:

    "We’ve seen mounting evidence that right-wing extremists have been working hard to undermine nationwide anti-police-brutality protests, mainly finding ways to amplify the violence at them in ways that they can blame on “the violent left.” This past weekend, it appears they have added another stratagem: directly attacking the protesters themselves with anonymous explosives.

    Several pipe bombs were thrown at protesters in Portland’s Laurelhurst Park on Saturday, both detonating harmlessly; a bomb that failed to ignite was found nearby. Afterwards, protesters attempted to follow the men who appeared to have tossed the homemade explosives and took video of a man—later tentatively identified as a former Navy SEAL who provides training materials to police—who threatened them before driving away."

    ReplyDelete
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