The Rube Goldberg machine of pain

Invoking “the deficit” is just saying “let them die” in more acceptable terms

Hello. Not enough people read this Hell World from last week. It was good.

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I tweeted this already about the New York Times editor who was fired for posting that she got chills watching Biden’s plane land the other day but here it is in case you didn’t see it. Sometimes I tweet things first then put them in here and that’s just how it is (sorry Jared!!!)

Here’s what bothers me about this situation and of course relates more so my own relatively similar situation from a couple years ago when I “got fired” (quit) a tenuous freelance newspaper gig: Institutions do not care if you are biased you just have to be biased toward what we’ve collectively accepted as “neutral.”

No one at these institutions enforces anything like professionalism or decency when it comes to calling for and endorsing systemic violence against vast swaths of people but trivial shit is policed heavily to the point of losing your employment. Betraying your preference for a Democrat is considered a sin in journalism while expressing your desire to see people immiserated — foreigners or Americans — is considered so down the middle it barely even registers as having said anything at all.

This isn’t “cancel culture” by the way it’s the banality of standard issue American bloodlust and Puritanical punishment culture.

You can remain in good standing in media or politics while advocating for as much violence and pain as you want as long as you do so politely and aren't saying you'll directly deliver it personally. Writing a story called “Invade Iraq now!” — or Iran or wherever for that matter — will never get you fired but saying “I'm going to come kick your ass” to one specific person will. Saying “We need to reopen the economy” during a pandemic despite the massive loss of life that would result is fine while telling someone “I hope your parents die” is not.

In other words hoping for one death is an abomination while passively accepting or enabling the deaths of 100,000 is just astute politics to paraphrase the fella.

The whole thing is a stupid game like when kids annoy their siblings by saying “I'm not touching you” while poking them with a stick. The idea is that as long as there's a buffer between you and the violence you are calling for through systemic means then your soul and professional reputation can remain clean.

It should not to be clear but that’s the way this all operates.

I happen to think calling for or legislating untold suffering is a lot worse than saying pee and poo about a politician or saying like REST IN PISS SHELDON ADELSON YOU OLD DEAD BITCH or whatever but on the other hand I am unemployed so what do I know.

Almost every single utterance from a Republican (and plenty from Democrats) about their intended policy is an attempt to set violence against real people into motion by someone else's hands which is ok for some reason. Arguing that we can’t afford to send out $2,000 checks a month is in fact calling for people to die it’s just said with the cover of the savvy politics insider.

It's weird that we all know this but it's so obvious we just kind of let it pass. Even writing it out here feels kind of pointless.

Technically denying life saving and desperately needed money to people during a pandemic isn't killing them in the same way that shooting them would be it's just inserting the ball into the Rube Goldberg machine of pain that provides an exonerating and distancing sleight of hand between cause and effect. Invoking “the deficit” is just saying “let them die” in more acceptable terms.

Anyway the point is:

Oh well who gives a shit.

All that said the fact that the Times editor went out of her way to ask people not to unsubscribe from the paper after they cut her head off is pathetic and no one should do that. Every place that ever mistreated me is filth and should go out of business.

I’m feeling real fucking lonely and isolated this week man. Here’s an excerpt from a chapter in my new book which you can read here but here’s the salient part:

Here’s what I want I want to walk into a bar and sit down next to some fucking guy and be annoyed by every single little movement he makes and every comment about what’s playing on the TV. I want me to want him to shut the fuck up. I want to have the bartender ask me how I am and I want to tell them not too bad man and mean it. I want to wheel a carriage with a fucked up wheel down the aisle of the grocery store and find someone standing in front of the vast array of Cheez-It options taking their sweet ass time deciding and I want to think hurry up with the Cheez-Its Jesus Christ. I want to peel off my clothes in a room full of gross old man dicks and balls and climb into my shorts and walk to the pool and hurl myself into it and swim back and forth going nowhere just moving through the water. I want to be dragged to a dinner party I would prefer not to go to and sit there on someone’s stupid couch and reach a pita chip over and scrape it across the bowl of hummus and say ha ha that’s wild when someone is telling me a story about whatever cute little job they have and I want to go meet a friend I haven’t seen in a while and sort of not feel like it all day but then realize halfway through the visit that I love them and there’s a reason why I still know them even after all these years. Then once I’ve done all that once I’ve talked and talked I want to go home and be alone for a little while like it’s a pleasure I’ve earned not a punishment we’re all suffering through.

I wrote that in April or May. I barely knew what I was talking about when it came to missing things back then. I wonder what I’ll miss after another six or seven months of this.

Here’s some other shit I would fucking love to do right now:

Go to an entire six band show where the headliner isn’t on til midnight.
Birthday dinner for someone I don’t care about with fifteen people all splitting the checks.
Go to dinner at the new shared plates place everyone is talking about that costs like $265 and leave feeling hungry still.
See a friend’s improv show (they want notes after).

Here are some other things worth reading to keep you busy while I try to figure out what my whole deal is.

Seth Maxon in Slate on how Violence Is Mainstream Republican Politics Now.

…But it wasn’t until brazen violence left blood on the floor of the Capitol that the Republicans settled on that particular anti-violence message. For more than five years, from the moment Donald Trump entered the presidential race, the party had ever more strongly committed itself to a different position on the morality—and political value—of violence: It was useful, and they would use it.

More than “winning,” more than prosperity, violence was the rhetorical heart of the Trump movement. Ordinary Republicans were told, over and over, that the people who loved Trump were literally under attack by their political opponents, and that history and patriotism called for them to literally fight back. Coming their way was a sinister array of cultural Marxists, migrant caravans, Muslim “snakes,” Black Lives Matter rioters, and a global antifa conspiracy. They were passengers storming the cockpit in the Flight 93 election, witnesses to American carnage, champions of the Angel Moms mourning their slain children.

Their president welcomed their aggression as healthy enthusiasm, and justified it by ceaselessly inventing or exaggerating stories of left-wing and nonwhite violence, for which there was scant or no evidence. When Trump was not openly celebrating his supporters’ violence, again and again he ignored, downplayed, or covered up the evidence of violence being enacted by right-wing and state actors. He promised his audience freedom from the old niceties, and central to that freedom was the right to violence.

Jason Perez for Spectre Journal on how the violent insurgent right are intertwined with mainstream Republicans.

The participation of and collusion with the siege by police is a crucial element indicating the underlying and still tight connection between insurgent right wing militants and the Republican mainstream. It’s important to remember that police and incarceration are in fact industries that create and sustain their own interests and with it its own electoral and political bases. Those bases and the unions that represent them have fervently supported Trump and police nationalism. The CPD police union president supported the capitol attack, and off duty police officers participated in the insurrection and there was lack of any meaningful condemnation by police unions, outside of requesting Trump to deescalate. The insurgent right isn’t a fringe of the GOP, it is of and for the mainstream of the GOP. A consequence of the insurgent right being of the GOP mainstream is the increase of right-wing violence under Trump and if the attack on the capital seems to be any indication it doesn’t appear to be dissipating.

The steady escalation in right wing violence coupled with its mainstream GOP nature, means right wing insurgents are in a position of power to fight for its vision of authoritarianism. It would be better to view this as a continuation of many attempts by the insurgent right to enforce anti-democratic policies it seeks to implement using right wing violence to achieve its ends: the murdering of Black Freedom Movement organizers who were registering Black people to vote, the violent white mobs who attacked the Freedom Riders who were seeking to end Jim Crow when it came to interstate travel and the violence that came with it, the Wilmington coup that  overturn elections of Black elected officials, and the anti-abortion bombings that sought to overturn women’s reproductive rights. The insurgent right fighting for anti-democratic policies of the mainstream right-wing and seeking to overturn elections is not a heel turn for the right wing. This isn’t particular to Trumpism, this is right wing-ism. Trumpism is just the most recent mainstreaming and intensification of a long right-wing tradition of insurgent right-wing politics.

Adam Serwer in The Atlantic on why it’s imperative that Trump be tried and convicted in the Senate.

The reason to convict Trump and bar him from office forever is rather simple: No sitting president has ever incited a violent attack on Congress. Allowing Trump to do so without sanction would invite a future president with autocratic ambitions and greater competence to execute a successful overthrow of the federal government, rather than the soft echo of post-Reconstruction violence the nation endured in early January. The political incentives for the Republican Party in convicting Trump may be unclear, but the stakes for democracy are not. The Senate must make clear that attempted coups, no matter how clumsy or ineffective, are the type of crime that is answered with swift and permanent exile from American political life.

That Trump is responsible for the assault on the Capitol is clear far beyond a reasonable doubt. Trump informed the assembled crowd on January 6 that “if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” and that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He then directed the mob at the Capitol, falsely telling the rioters he would accompany them, retreating to the White House instead. Those arrested after the attack have themselves told the authorities they were acting on the president’s admonitions. Behind the scenes, Trump was attempting to orchestrate an autogolpe using the Justice Department to force states to overturn their vote tallies; he was foiled only by the threat of mass resignations. The mob was his last resort.

An interview between Anand Giridharadas and Heather McGhee the author of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.

ANAND: Your new book, “The Sum of Us,” argues that racism costs everyone, not just people of color. Can you recount the parable of the pool that anchors your argument?

HEATHER: The parable is a story that I grew up learning from family members. It was a very visceral memory for many of them. There was a grand, resort-style public swimming pool in the heart of their community. In fact, in the United States there were more than 2,000 of them that were built with tax dollars over the '20s, '30s, and '40s. In many ways, it was one of the most real, everyday examples of the New Deal consensus of government being a force for the improvement of the everyday quality of life of its citizens.

Yet in so many of these communities, the pools were for whites only or were segregated. In the 1950s and '60s, as the courts began to knock down these segregation codes in recreational facilities, many towns in virtually every region of the country decided to drain their public swimming pools, rather than integrate them. This happened in St. Louis. It happened in West Virginia, in Ohio, in Florida, and Louisiana. 

When racism drained the public pool, everyone in the town — including white families — lost out. 

It's the parable at the heart of “The Sum of Us,” because in many ways the era that I've known my whole life, the inequality era, has been defined most dramatically by the hollowing out of the public goods that we share in common, an era of austerity and a lack of investment in public infrastructure. Both the crumbling public infrastructure that we have, whether it's dams that are breaching and bridges that are collapsing and pipes that are leaching, or the kind of social infrastructure that we desperately need that we haven't even invested in like truly universal health care and child care.

The opening sentence of my book asks, “Why can’t we have nice things?” And the answer is that racism has drained our pools.

Sam Adler Bell on the paradox of Fauci in this piece The Case Against Anthony Fauci by for The Drift.

America is suffering from a disease outbreak whose morbid scope is the consequence of world-historic negligence. We are desperately and needlessly sick. And yet, the man known as “America’s Doctor,” the undisputed personification of public health research and pandemic preparedness, faces no reputational consequences. On the contrary, Dr. Fauci remains one of our most beloved public figures.  

Anthony Fauci is no doubt a dedicated public servant, respected by his colleagues, beloved by many Americans. But the puzzle remains: why has the man most closely associated with the public health response to the pandemic entirely avoided accountability for its failure? 

Ok see ya later buddy.