Why didn't anyone tell me the Mount Rushmore KKK guy was named Gutzon Borglum lol. Gutzon Borglum fuck out of here man.
Every now and again I remember that despite being over forty and a member in (relatively) good standing of the liberal media elite I’ve never had a job that provided health insurance nor have I ever had a single day paid vacation in my life. Pretty weird! Maybe things will get better going forward on that front. They probably will I imagine considering how most things are going.
If you missed this paid-only Hell World from the other day you can find it here after subscribing.
Check out this one too if you missed it.
As far as feats of prognostication go this wasn’t exactly Nostradamus shit but I wanted to call back to something I wrote in here about Trump’s approach to dealing with the pandemic in early May.
“So I guess the Trump administration’s plan is to hide the bodies and pretend they're not piling up like we did with Iraq?” I wrote.
I briefly convinced myself that there is some number of deaths some horrific massive number with real gravity to it that demands attention and action a tipping point type of number that we might reach whereby Republicans and “open the economy” types might stop acting like they are now. Is it 500,000 I wondered is it a million but if we’re being honest no such number likely exists. Instead what will happen is we will come to accept thousands dead every single day as another voice in the churning ambient chorus of suffering we do our best to tune out already much like with gun violence or unnecessary deaths due to the cost of healthcare or the thousands our military kills around the world. Many of us even the “good ones” like me and you already have started to do that in a way right or else how would we manage to function on a daily basis? How do you get up and measure out the coffee and heat up the water and poke your stupid face into the fridge for a nice piece of fruit every morning without pretending if at least for a while that no one is dying outside your walls?
I said this about gun violence back in August in between the shootings in El Paso and Dayton — do you remember which those ones were or did it take a second? — and I suppose that’s just what deaths from the pandemic are going to be like going forward.
Until it happens to you or someone you know and then it’s real.
Today comes this in the Washington Post in a piece contrasting Biden and Trump’s campaign strategies regarding the virus:
The goal is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year and the economy will continue to improve.
White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.
“They’re of the belief that people will get over it or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day,” said a former administration official in touch with the campaign.
I don’t particularly feel what I would call numb at the moment do you? I feel a different type of emotion.
All of which leaves Trump now with nothing to offer to his diminishing but spitefully resolved base save this sort of thing.
And the Times still can’t even call it what it is.
We've long known this was all he had but it seems even Trump realizes he’s smoking resin now with a cratered economy and tens of millions out of work and a relentless pandemic still spreading unchecked all over our superlatively stupid country. He has literally no other option going forward but to dial up the racism even further. I wonder how bad it can get probably not much worse right?
Contrast that with this messaging from Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle (a rare refreshingly good voice in baseball!) who had this to say of the process of trying to get ready for a season that I am now convinced is never going to happen.
“We’re trying to bring baseball back during a pandemic that’s killed 130,000 people,” he said. “We’re way worse off as a country then we were in March when we shut this thing down. And, like, look at where other developed countries are in their response to this. We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back. Sports are like the reward of a functioning society. And we’re trying to just bring it back, even though we’ve taken none of the steps to flatten the curve.”
Sports are like the reward of a functioning society. I love that. Americans can have a little baseball as a treat once they finish all their vegetables. We may be waiting a long time for that.
Dunce sinecure Bret Stephens has written once again about the very serious and pressing issue of our times: cancel culture. I won’t even bother quoting from it because if you’ve read one of his columns you’ve read this one as well.
Still though this type of thing from him and the rest of the liberal reactionaries — as Osita Nwanevu dubs them in this great piece today in The New Republic — not to mention this crowd of always unfairly muzzled geniuses who just launched a new newsletter…
…is always going to be morally repugnant and intellectually deprived to me.
To witness real suppression of speech by violent state actors going on every day everywhere in the country with a fascist president cheering them on and threatening to cage people for ten years for hurting statues and still still still in 2020 be talking about “cancel culture” and the ideological intolerance of campus elites and rescinded New Yorker panel bookings and whatever the fuck is so removed from the reality of the world we all inhabit I have to think continuing to write and complain about it all on Twitter represents some sort of sick fetish for being humiliated.
To be clear being “canceled” for something I write is somewhere on the list of my concerns but it's very very distant behind:
-Being frivolously sued by a malicious actor for critical coverage.
-Being imprisoned by the state for “seditious” ideas.
-Being violently retaliated against by armed fascists.
-Getting my dick caught in an elevator door
It’s no mistake that most of the types you see preoccupied with the idea of cancel culture — aka being made to maybe suffer some light professional consequences for your corrosive ideas by peers policing the collective boundaries of socially acceptable behavior — all tend to be relatively well off people who have never shut the fuck up for once in their life. All of these people have ample opportunity to say and write whatever they want usually in the pages of publications like The Atlantic and Rolling Stone and New York Magazine and so on.
The real threat to speech is happening right now on the streets of every city in America where police are being deployed to brutalize citizens. To seize this moment to continue to complain about how you might have to think twice before sharing a potentially politically incorrect opinion in your major media column shows such a dearth of empathy it retroactively casts into doubt the sincerity of any left-leaning sympathies any of these types of writers may have previously expressed.
But fine if you want to keep the discussion about media people engaged in the profession of writing and what they are concerned about there are other far bigger issues you could dig into on that front as well. Spend any time actually speaking to working writers or hanging out on message boards like Study Hall like I do and the issues of the day do not tend to revolve around how “you can’t say anything nowadays.” (About which: I almost never have a thought that I would like to express that I feel as if I cannot publicly save for ones that might have the secret service show up at my home. What sorts of thoughts are these people being restrained from sharing?)
Instead the major concerns for working writers tend to be things like: “I cannot get the salaried editor at the publication I write for to return my emails about the story of mine they said they were going to publish six months ago” and “I haven’t been paid the $150 I am owed for my work for the billion dollar website that they published 15 months ago.” Or more recently under the pandemic: “The outlet I regularly write for has either shuttered or drastically reduced output and I can no longer afford my rent and the unemployment portal in my state keeps throwing me off before I can find out if I even qualify.”
Perhaps when we’re writing about threats to our ability to communicate and share “in the marketplace of ideas” or whatever they call it our time might be better spent focusing on the money hogs pillaging newspapers everywhere for the past decade plus. You could write a column about that every week with new information! It’s been happening and it’s happening now. Or perhaps Facebook and Google devastating publications’ ability to exist by vacuuming up all of the ad revenue and sharing the reporting for free?
There is to be sure a lane for people to make the “my ideas are being shunned or marginalized by the media at large and sharing them puts me at risk” argument but it's certainly not from the fucking political center-right as an established well employed national name. Instead the type of canceling these people are talking about is light social sanctions for deploying regressive harmful ideas or actions. People rarely get canceled for being too concerned with the powerless and marginalized. And when they do i.e. a professor getting fired for saying Palestinians aren’t vermin or whatever a lot of these same anti-cancel culture people tend to be all for it.
Read the whole thing but a couple paragraphs from Nwanevu I liked:
It’s “reactionary” liberalism not just because many of the figures in this sphere happen to be right of center on certain social issues, but also because they are incredibly reactive. Viral stories and anecdata that people focused on the major issues of our day might consider marginal are, for Weiss and her ideological peers, the central crises of contemporary politics: If Twitter were to shut down tomorrow, most of their political world and its concerns would simply vanish. That’s not to say that their preoccupations now aren’t undergirded by certain fundamental commitments—for one, they are devoutly attached to distinctly American speech norms, which they understand as essential to liberalism and the main barriers separating free society from Stalinesque repression.
Slippery slope thinking, fallacious to most, is the reactionary liberal’s primary means of understanding the world around them, and their tendency to catastrophize produces a state of alarm about the spread of dangerous ideas as constant and hysterical as the stereotypical liberal arts student’s. Thus, White Fragility, the widely criticized and lampooned book by social justice educator Robin DiAngelo, can be characterized by Matt Taibbi as not merely counterproductive, misguided, or even harmful but actually “Hitlerian.” More broadly, the attention we’re now paying to the legacy of bigoted laws and institutions and inadvertent slights against minorities can be described by Andrew Sullivan as utilizing arguments “incredibly close to the language once used against Jews,” transmogrified by bad faith into the notion that all white people are intrinsically and immutably evil.
This isn’t a mindset conducive to rational discourse. Andreactionary liberals are actually no more invested in the ideal of a marketplace of ideas governed wholly by reason than anyone else. All of their supposed enthusiasm for debate and heterodoxy is typically marshaled in defense of a handful of opinions—on transgender identity, feminist sexual politics, and the nature of racial disadvantage—which, far from having been chased into some intellectually “dark” corner, are relatively common and largely shared by the most politically powerful people in America today.
If you really want to bottomline the whole thing though what we are talking about is class-first-and-only writers and center right pundits and comedians for that matter who would like to maintain good standing in polite liberal society who are uncomfortable with issues of trans identity and don’t think it’s fair they can’t talk about how it makes them feel weird. That’s it. That’s the whole game.
I guess I feel like if you have adopted the persona of the brave incorruptible truth-teller who always always tells it like it is you would simply accept the fact that a portion of people are going to tell you to fuck off and eat shit etc from time to time. But all these people still want to be liked by everyone. You can’t have both.
In other words:
Was just paging through that and came across this one which has nothing to do with any of that shit above but I wanted to share it anyway.
What The Doctor Said
He said it doesn’t look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I’m real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn’t catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who’d just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong
That reminded me of something I just read last night in The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene:
“In a dream you cannot escape: the feet are leaden-weighted: you cannot stir from before the ominous door which almost imperceptibly moves. It is the same in life; sometimes it is more difficult to make a scene than to die.”
I’ve been making flailing stabs at being able to stick with a book all throughout quarantine and this is the first one I’ve picked up that I think I’ll finish. There is probably a lesson in there about returning to the familiar in the face of death. Certainly something about Catholicism I’m probably not prepared to unpack at the moment.
It’s been great so far it’s set during the the Blitz in London where people go about their normal daily lives as best as possible going to work at a cafe or having uneasy social gatherings and so on as the bombs drop all around them. A siren goes off and they all hide or brace themselves for the impact and hope the bomb falls somewhere else distant somewhere where it won’t get them and then they get up after the dust clears the next day and do it all over again once the names of the dead have been reported.
And everywhere even though they’re all in the same country begins to feel different depending on how hard they’ve been hit.
Rowe had breakfast in an A.B.C. in Clapham High Street. Boards had taken the place of windows and the top floor had gone; it was like a shack put up in an earthquake town for relief work. For the enemy had done a lot of damage in Clapham. London was no longer one great city: it was a collection of small towns. People went to Hampstead or St John’s Wood for a quiet weekend, and if you lived in Holborn you hadn’t time between the sirens to visit friends as far away as Kensington. So special characteristics developed, and in Clapham where day raids were frequent there was a hunted look which was absent from Westminster, where the night raids were heavier but the shelters were better. The waitress who brought Rowe’s toast and coffee looked jumpy and pallid, as if she had lived too much on the run; she had an air of listening whenever gears shrieked. Gray’s Inn and Russell Square were noted for a more reckless spirit, but only because they had the day to recover in.
The night raid, the papers said, had been on a small scale. A number of bombs had been dropped, and there had been a number of casualties, some of them fatal. The morning communiqué was like the closing ritual of a midnight Mass. The sacrifice was complete and the papers pronounced in calm invariable words the ‘Ite Missa Est.’