SAD TO SAY, OUR TOWN: Our werewolves explain why we aren't well liked!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2020

And they're just the start of our problem: Pliny the Elder was one of the first to report the problem of werewolves. 

His reporting preceded Warren Zevon's by at least several years. According to the leading authority on the subject, his findings unfolded as shown:

Pausanias also relates the story of an Arcadian man called Damarchus of Parrhasia, who was turned into a wolf after tasting the entrails of a human child sacrificed to Zeus Lycaeus. He was restored to human form 10 years later and went on to become an Olympic champion. This tale is also recounted by Pliny the Elder, who calls the man Demaenetus, quoting Agriopas. According to Pausanias, this was not a one-off event...

Pliny the Elder likewise recounts another tale of lycanthropy. Quoting Euanthes,  he mentions that in Arcadia, once a year a man was chosen by lot from the Anthus' clan. The chosen man was escorted to a marsh in the area, where he hung his clothes into an oak tree, swam across the marsh and transformed into a wolf, joining a pack for nine years. If during these nine years he refrained from tasting human flesh, he returned to the same marsh, swam back and recovered his previous human form, with nine years added to his appearance.

[...]

Early Christian authors also mentioned werewolves. In The City of God, Augustine of Hippo gives an account similar to that found in Pliny the Elder. Augustine explains that "It is very generally believed that by certain witches spells men may be turned into wolves..."

Augustine, of course, is most famous for the prayer he extended to God. "Make me human again, but not yet," he's famously said to have said.

At present, the werewolves running through Our Town are notable for their youth. This very year, The Daily Beast ran a snark-soaked review of Melania's Christmas decs by a "style writer" who's only three years out of college (NYU, class of 2017). 

Earlier, she prepped at Miss Porter's. For reasons of age, we'll be withholding the name of the afflicted young scribe. Headline included:

Melania Trump’s Last White House Christmas Looks Pretty—and Empty

Never one to mask her emotions, Melania looked on at this year’s display of tinsel and twinkling trees with the type of disdain one might save for glaring at a raccoon rummaging through discarded sugar cookies sitting in the trash outside on December 26.

[...]

It was a void, detached statement coming from someone who has spent her husband’s first and only term mostly staring off into space blankly, uselessly, manifesting a future where she can go back to New York and do whatever it is that makes her happy. (Pilates? Adding Dior blazers to her Net-a-Porter shopping cart?)

Her outfit for the occasion—or at least, the official photos she posed in—was just as cold. The look was also very impractical for the task, though Melania let it be known on Twitter that the real heavy-lifting is done by plebeian “volunteers,” not her French manicured hands.

She wore four-inch Louboutin heels, a longtime shoe of choice for miserable rich women, a high-waist pencil skirt, and silver, crinkly button-up blouse. She looked polished and put-together, and so unlike any of us right now. It was another Marie Antoinette moment from Melania, while we’re all just shuffling around our homes swaddled in sweatpants and fear. Let them wear a Givenchy hoodie, this outfit snarls.

Melania presents herself as formal, dressed-up, and going to work, all while teetering through the home she supposedly lives in. Many Americans have spent much of this year growing familiar with every corner and crack in the drywall as a byproduct of staying home; our first lady still gapes around hers with the aloofness of a stranger.

Unlike past years’ spooky, shadow-casting, and probably haunted trees, or The Shining-colored evergreens erected in 2018, Melania’s last decorations are, well, OK.

Some might even consider the scene lovely, perfect in that every piece has its place. However, for all its conventional sparkle, there is a lingering emptiness to the whole thing. What a very appropriate final Christmas decoration for the Trump White House.

You simply can't get dumber than that. According to an array of experts with whom we've consulted, it simply can't be done.

This particular style writer had prepped at Miss Porter's, but how much good did it do? Before landing at her current spot, she "covered beauty at Popsugar," according to her Daily Beast bio.

Trust us—it gets much worse. Owing to this afflicted person's youth, we're being kind today.

The remarkable youth of the Werewolves of Yuletide only adds to the sense of alarm among major experts who are watching the growth of this plague. 

In Camus' famous book of that very title, he noted how hard it was for the citizens of Oran to recognize the pestilence which was beginning to move through the streets of  their town. So it is in Our Town today, as werewolves of various ages screech and holler and howl.

Many of us in Our Town suffer from an affliction. We're unable to see how blindingly stupid the work of this cohort is.

Elsewhere, others can see our problem for what it actually is. Last week, after unloosing its Four Hounds from Hell, the Washington Post was willing to publish one letter on this general topic from a different town. 

That letter concerned an earlier column by one of the wolves. It went exactly like this:

Robin Givhan’s Nov. 25 news column, “Christmas tree, turkey pardon: The Trumps obliged,” was disgraceful. She used the Thanksgiving turkey ceremony and the arrival of the White House Christmas tree as an excuse to spew gratuitous insults at the president and first lady.

This is where our country is. Even holidays are just occasions for venomous partisan attacks.

[NAME WITHHELD], Falls Church

"This is where our country is," the writer diplomatically mused. Others will be more frank:

This is how it is in Your Town, many other observers will say. After that, they'll talk to their neighbors and friends.

A certain irony obtains in the way the many wolves of our floundering town have attacked the first lady's decs. In the mid-1990s, a different first lady was under attack for her decs—and the self-assured dimwits who live in our town were too dumb to push back.

In October 2016, Amanda Marcotte, to her credit, recalled the astonishing episode at Salon. On the downside, like many of our town's somnolent citizens, Marcotte assumed that Candidate Trump couldn't possibly win in November. 

What follows is pathetic, sad. We include the principal headline, and yes, that's what it said:

The Clinton BS files: Hillary didn't decorate the White House Christmas tree with condoms and syringes

[...]

[I]t's never been enough for Clinton detractors to bag on her for being ambitious, smart and feminist—all qualities they barely conceal their loathing for, especially in a woman. No, in the fever dreams of the right-wing imagination, Clinton is frequently portrayed as downright nasty, a gross person who likes gross things, the grosser the better.

And a critical piece of evidence that the conspiracy-theory right has for this theory is the claim that, in 1994, First Lady Hillary Clinton decorated the White House Christmas tree with condoms, cock rings and syringes.

Yes, it's actually true. The lunacy didn't start with Trump. In this case, the lunacy was fed to the public  in a major best-selling book:

While most urban legends about the Clintons start somewhat small and then grow in the telling, this one appears to have sprung fully formed from the deranged imagination of Gary Aldrich, a former FBI agent who worked on the security team for the Bush and Clinton White Houses. Aldrich had an unending contempt for the Clintons, who he clearly viewed as a couple of dirty hippies with their Fleetwood Mac records and daughter named after a Joni Mitchell song. After he left, he decided to cash in on that hatred with a 1996 book entitled "Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House."

[...]

This particular conspiracy theory lost some steam after the Clintons left the White House, though it still pops up on right-wing forums and blogs periodically. But expect there to be some kind of Christmas tree-related controversy to be ginned up in 2017, when the Clintons are once again tasked with decorating the Blue Room Christmas tree—presumably with Bill instead of Hillary at the helm this time.

We'll recommend that you read Marcotte's entire essay; it recounts one part of the disappeared political history of the past three or four decades. While Our Town slept, this sort of thing was aimed at Hillary Clinton for 24 years, with several intermediate years of manifest lunacy directed at Candidate Gore. 

(A great deal of this came from the upper-end press, not from the right-wing machine.)

Children are dead all over Iraq because of the way Our Town slept. Also, Candidate Trump managed to slip by Candidate Clinton and find his way into the White House, even while losing the popular vote. Tragicomically, our resistance began in earnest the day after Trump assumed office.

Marcotte was almost a prophet that day. She predicted more craziness about Christmas decs—but she assumed that the lunacy would be aimed at Clinton and Clinton.

Instead, the various wolves who run through Our Town began howling at Wife of Trump.

Some will say that Aldrich's conduct was worse than that of our wolves.  We tend to react and reason that way in the various pubs of Our Town.

We're lazy and stupid and nobody likes us! Sadly, the problem we have with The Werewolves of Yuletide is only one small part of our failing town's ongoing mess.

Next week, we'll continue to stroll the streets of Our Town. Our folkways seem to make sense to us. To others, our wide array of embarrassing folkways will often look quite different. 

In all honesty, we can't say that the others are wrong. Our werewolves have gone to the very best schools.

How much harm has it possibly done?

Tomorrow: Special bonus quotation from the original script of Our Town, as performed in a recent film


48 comments:

  1. I see Trump and Barr put a, most likely innocent, black man to death last night.
    Say what you will, but they sure know how to play to the Republican base.

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  2. Your focus on the age of the reporters is misplaced. Media corporations can easily find older employees to distract the public from the fleecing of the US Treasury by their parent companies. Baby boomers have shown they will do anything for money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Falls Church is in VA. VA used to be reliably red, but is now blue. Somerby dumbly asks how much harm has been done, but it is pretty clear no harm has been done. His take on electoral politics has always been wrong.

      Delete
  3. "who was turned into a wolf after tasting the entrails of a human child sacrificed to Zeus Lycaeus. "

    This isn't exactly a case of lycanthropy. Werewolves are wolves who take human form. They feast on entrails because that's what wolves do.

    In the case Somerby calls lycanthropy, the man supposedly became a wolf (not a werewolf who shifted shape but an actual wolf) after stealing a sacrifice made to Zeus. That makes it a punishment of wrongdoing.

    Such details probably matter to the people who believe in this stuff. Somerby is taking liberties. Also kind of hard to see the relevance to reporters, unless Somerby is suggesting that they have been stealing from Zeus or eating entrails lately.

    The way you become a werewolf is by being bitten by an existing werewolf.

    This does, however, echo the Q-Anon conspiracies being circulated lately. In their mythology, children are being eaten in order to prolong the lives of people such as Tom Hanks. The shape-shifters aren't wolves but reptilians who live among us by assuming human form. Not sure if they are athletically talented, but why not?

    And why is Somerby indulging in this? To show off his knowledge of classics aquired at Harvard? Doesn't that make him some kind of elite?

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    Replies
    1. That QAnon theory about shape shifters helps explain why Mitch McConnell is okay with human suffering as long as he keeps power.

      Delete
  4. Somerby sez: "Augustine, of course, is most famous for the prayer he extended to God. "Make me human again, but not yet," he's famously said to have said."

    For women, Augustine is famous for emphasizing the spirit/flesh dichotomy and putting women on the wrong side of it, a dualism repeated by Descartes, perfected by Victorians and existing today. Augustine famously had a problem with pleasure of all kinds but especially with women. That gives Augustine and Somerby something in common.

    In his commentary on Genesis, Augustine said: "woman was given to man, woman who was of small intelligence and who perhaps still lives more in accordance with the promptings of the inferior flesh than by the superior reason...that through her the man became guilty of transgression.'"

    Somerby too seems preoccupied with reason and dismissive of women. You'll find this theme among the incels too. It is inherent to misogyny on the internet, among White Supremacists, and among Christian fundamentalists.

    Yay Augustine, Somerby says.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Alaina Demopoulos

    Somerby savages her, then pretends to protect her by omitting her name, right beside a link that provides it for all to see.

    Chivalry is not dead, just a pretense to hide the antagonism Somerby feels toward young people, especially female reporters in the style section. If Somerby had his way, there would be no style reporting -- it's yucky and girls like it.

    Meanwhile, my local community paper has a two-page color spread this week showing people's decorated homes. Those who are staying at home more seem to be putting extra effort into this innocent pleasure. Some of the displays are even religious, in ways I feel sure that even Augustine would approve. But Melania can't be bothered because she frankly doesn't give a fuck about Christmas decorations. And Somerby defends her...why? Because she is part of the Republican War on Christmas perhaps? Because she thinks living in the White House is a step down from Mar a Lago and can't wait to return there? Because she feels no obligation or concern for the American people? Somerby hasn't explain why he thinks she deserves a pass on this.

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  6. "(A great deal of this came from the upper-end press, not from the right-wing machine.)"

    I wouldn't generalize Chris Matthews to the entire upper-end press. Some of the same guys who lost their jobs due to sexual assault were saying this stuff about Hillary.

    Somerby has no standing to complain about Hillary's treatment given that he himself has damned her with his own comments and also attacked Marcotte on occasion. Somerby doesn't like feminists much.

    And yes, the substance of the attacks, even when spoken by a reporter, came originally from a coordinated attack on Bill & Hillary Clinton funded and organized by the right wing. Somerby knows this.

    Somerby has called out some of the more egregious slanders and libels, but he is no friend to Hillary and Bill. Nor did he stick up for the Clintons when Gore decided to distance himself from them, feeling betrayed by Bill's supposed lie about "having sex" with Monica, despite over 50% of those Gallop-polled nationwide agreeing that a blowjob does not constitute having sex, any more than a kiss does (even with tongue). Somerby is a prude, like Gore, and happy to complain about the invasion of Gary Hart's privacy but not Bill & Hillary Clinton's.

    Now Somerby and Marcotte are BFFs? I don't think so. It is convenient for Somerby to borrow her words today, but I doubt his feelings about her have changed any.

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  7. "Candidate Trump managed to slip by Candidate Clinton and find his way into the White House, even while losing the popular vote."

    Somerby has never acknowledged that Russia helped Trump and that Comey's last minute statement damaged her, and that voter suppression and Bernie bros staying home gave Trump those small margins in crucial states to put him into office.

    Somerby continues to pretend that it was because Hillary didn't visit the midwest enough (easily disproven) or ran a bad campaign or was too disliked to win (see the popular vote on that one). Hillary's own book, "What Happened," includes an evaluation of what went wrong from her side. See the Mueller Report for more. See 538 for an analysis of how much Comey hurt Clinton's campaign and whether she would have won without his interference.

    Clinton supporters worked their hearts out for her. We were not sleeping in any woods. News reports about Russian interference appeared before the election but the public considered them self-serving and Obama refused to get involved (a daintiness that doesn't exist on the right, who were investigating Hunter Biden during Trump's impeachment). But Somerby never talks about any of this. Just about Hillary's flaws, because that's how he rolls.

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    1. Anon 11:27 -Any role that Russia played in her loss has been blown way out of proportions, Fox News style. The fake news face book posts were a minuscule drop in the bucket compared to all the crap that Brad Pariscale (sp?) and the army of native right wingers spewed out. The hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails is in a different category, but it seems all the main stream media made a huge deal out of these picayune, stolen emails. There were all kinds of other reasons that might have contributed one way or another to Clinton's loss - I could probably name more than 20. The media and the pundits have killed her for years, e.g, the way the Times and the Post went after her over the bogus Whitewater "scandal"; the fact that it is hard for one party to elect a president for 3 consecutive terms; because she was a female; because a huge chunk of the population simply votes for a Republican no matter who the Democratic candidate is; the Comey thing and all the main stream media frenzy over her use of a private email system; her personality and lack of intangible appeal to a lot of people (I thought she was ok, I would add); the fraudulent Bengazi scandal, which TDF to his credit strongly defended her on, in contrast to the inept way the MSM handled it; the liberal off the rails identity politics that turns off a lot of people; etc., etc. There is no question, however, that Trump did manage to slip by Clinton and find his way into the White House to the surprise and dismay of many (though in my case, more dismay than surprise).

      Delete
    2. Somerby keeps saying that the press has been attacking Hillary for years, but she was also voted the most admired woman in the country, 20 years in a row, beating Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. She won the popular vote by a wide margin. It took combined shenanigans to steal the election. She didn't lose it herself. Do not confuse the hatred held by Republicans and Somerby and the Bernie bros with the way most of the country feels about her.

      Trump didn't "slip by" Clinton. He rigged the election with his friends, Russian oligarchs, and his fellow billionaires, so that they could loot the country. The main surprise was that most Democrats didn't think Republicans could be outright criminals. Now, of course, we all know better.

      As I said, stop being lazy and actually read Clinton's book. She discusses all of those other reasons you allude to in an honest self-examination of her contribution to her loss. Her willingness to do so is not only typical of her, but one of the reasons why I admire her and regret that she didn't become our president.

      Delete
    3. anon 5:32 - you fail to make much sense. Popularity polls are kind of silly. On the one hand you acknowledge that TDH has been pointing for years how the press attacked Clinton - then later you warn me against confusing hatred of her by TDH, with how most Americans feel about her. You are completely nuts if you think TDH "hates" Clinton. You seem to equate any criticism of her or anything short of adulation toward her as "hate." It wasn't just Republicans who attacked her either - as I said above, it was everywhere, NYT, the Post, main stream pundits, comedians. TDH valiantly defended her over the years against stupid attacks. Clinton won the popular vote by about 3,000,000. Not that overwhelming. Your sound like Trump the way he is acting now, when you claim Trump rigged the election with his Russian friends and fellow billionaires. I am not surprised Clinton would discuss all the reasons I pointed out in her book, assuming anything you say is actual. I'll take a pass on reading her book. There a lot of books I will put ahead of that one, and I don't tend to read books by politicians. I'd be glad to have lunch with her, though. We do share a regret she didn't win, given what the result of that was.

      Delete
    4. A popularity poll is exactly the right evidence to use when someone asserts that everyone hates Hillary.

      TDH has both attacked the press for its treatment of Hillary (often continuing to complain about Gore's treatment) and also attacked Hillary himself, calling her a failed candidate with huge flaws.

      At one point last year, I speculated the Somerby might be a Bernie supporter, many of whom outright hate Hillary, in every meaning of the word hate. They are as rabid against her as conservatives.

      The difference between my complaints about the 2016 election and Trump's complaints about 2020 is that I have evidence supporting my view while Trump has no evidence for his. He is lying. I am not.

      You'll take a pass on reading her book and go right on saying ignorant things. One of the best books for understanding politics is Bill Clinton's autobiography. Sorry you will miss that one too. What makes a book by a politician good is how honest they are, how much soul-searching they do. They have a unique perspective that makes an honest book worth reading. Trump, in contrast, has not only not written his own books, but Digby says he hasn't read them either. I think that's highly likely. Don't be like that guy AC/MA.

      Delete
    5. AC/MA is one of the last remaining pseudo liberals that come around and infiltrate the comment section here with talking points straight out of the Republican playbook.

      The degree to which Russian interference played a role in Clinton's loss can not be known, but it was not zero. More importantly, what we do know about Trump's involvement with Russians was high-level corruption, of which one can only be dismissive of if one is lacking integrity.

      Delete
    6. "the liberal off the rails identity politics that turns off a lot of people"

      It does not turn off voters that vote for Dems, it motivates them to vote; turning off Trump voters is just an added bonus. In the last election, indentity-politics centric candidates won, the Dems that lost were the milquetoast centrists. Having said that, I appreciate the honestly in revealing your political stance.

      Delete
  8. "Some will say that Aldrich's conduct was worse than that of our wolves."

    Of course it was!

    ReplyDelete
  9. "We're lazy and stupid and nobody likes us!"

    Somerby needs to speak for himself. Personally, I am neither lazy nor stupid and I have a lot of friends. If Somerby doesn't, perhaps it is a personal problem, not something to generalize to all liberals.

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  10. “Some will say that Aldrich's conduct was worse than that of our wolves.”

    Aldrich was lying about Hillary.

    That is worse than some pop culture writer expressing a negative opinion about Melania’s Christmas decorations.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Somerby seems to think that the threat of being disliked will deter liberals from following their goals. We aren't a bunch of 14 year old girls!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He would more likely argue that being disliked causes liberals to lose elections and prevents them from wielding enough political power to enact their goals.

      Delete
  12. The letter writer said:
    “She [Givhan] used the Thanksgiving turkey ceremony and the arrival of the White House Christmas tree as an excuse to spew gratuitous insults at the president and first lady.”

    The horror!

    Givhan juxtaposes the traditional White House holiday events that the Trumps decided to honor (the inane pardoning of a turkey and the Christmas decorations that Melania herself derided) against Trump’s attempts to overturn another possibly more important tradition, the election.

    I don’t consider her opinion to be insulting nor gratuitous but rather quite apropos.

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  13. Somerby wishes to argue that “their” hatred of “us” is in some way caused by or even justified by opinions like Givhan’s. And this from a man who pushes the idea that Trump is insane and wants journalists to do the same.

    ReplyDelete
  14. To TDH, who presumably won't read this - all this is not something new, it goes way back (though there wasn't Facebook then) - as Shakespeare said, all the world's a stage; to those who think, life is a comedy; to those who feel, it is a tragedy. And I would add, to those who think and feel, as is the case with TDH, it's a tragi-comedy.

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    Replies
    1. That quote is attributed to Horace Walpole, as you would have found out in seconds via Google. Does it matter to you whether Somerby is right or wrong in the things he says?

      Dividing a domain into dichotomies isn't clear thinking -- it is what depressed people do, or those with brain injuries or mental illness. The world can be many more things besides comic or tragic (the two faces of the theater masks). Think about awe, wonder and love. Are any of those comic or tragic? If they are, you are in trouble.

      If you want to live your life in terms of platitudes, read the character Polonius in Hamlet. The things he says aren't profound just because Shakespeare wrote them. Somerby went through a King Lear phase here -- it wasn't pretty.

      Delete
    2. anon 4:34, thanks for the correction. Googling indicated that Horace Walpole was the author of the life's a tragedy part, though I see it also attributed to Jean Racine. "All the world's a stage" is Shakepeare. I take credit for combining the two, and adding the "tragicomedy" part. Are you saying that Horace Walpole was a depressive who suffered from brain injury or mental illness? Seems it. I was just trying to point out that TDH tends to be ahistorical, that foolishness is nothing new. You're going a bit off the rails with your dividing a domain into dichotomies thought - that's not to be found in anything I said or TDH said. TDH is often insightful(and constantly takes witless flak for showing the absurdity of popular platitudes). You don't make a lot of sense, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous - e.g., like why am I in trouble if "awe" is comic or tragic??
      "Awe" or "wonder" or "love" presumably could be tragic or comic - it depends on the circumstances. The concept of "awe' or "love" or "wonder" though aren't in and of themselves "tragic" or "comic."

      Delete
    3. People who write epigrams are trying to be witty or clever, not deep.

      You are in trouble if awe or wonder or love are tragic because these are the feelings that give us hope and make life worthwhile. If you experience them as negative, you are most likely depressed and should seek help -- depression is treatable. And you are right, awe and love and wonder are not in and of themselves tragic or comic because there is more to our subjective experience than the dichotomy of the tragic and comic, negative and positive, black and white. That is what I meant by avoiding dichotomies in thinking.

      I'm glad to see you wrestling with this. I think it is important not to accept the glib mouthings of Walpole or Somerby, or even Shakespeare who puts words into the mouths of characters intended to be recognized by the audience as idiots. Then those same words get repeated by later generations as "wisdom" because every word Shakespeare wrote has become holy.

      Foolishness is indeed nothing new, but how far does a comment like that get you? It amounts to shrugging and saying "well, that's life". Unhelpful.

      Delete
  15. Somerby is howling about werewolves when we have much more serious problems to worry about, such as this (by Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog):

    https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/12/the-republican-assault-on-election-isnt.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. If they are right to hate us because some liberal somewhere says something mean about the First Lady, then we are right to hate them for the same reason; they said a lot of mean things about Mrs Obama.

    But this is a dead end argument. It has zero to say about anything at all. It amounts to nothing more than a litany of right wing grievances against liberals, and no one needs to read Bob Somerby to know what those are. His views about liberals are indistinguishable from the right wing.

    If we are indeed as bad as they are, then there must be some other reason why they hate us. They are full of contempt, lazy, stupid, and not well-liked, so it’s a draw.

    Somerby’s analysis is worthless.

    ReplyDelete
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