" ... Or Maybe I Just Need to Get More Sleep."
February 17, 2021 3:20 PM   Subscribe

 
hahaha
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posted by lalochezia at 3:23 PM on February 17 [37 favorites]


Necessary, but brutal.
posted by phooky at 3:26 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]


I like this as a general critique of malaise and uncertainty -like when I realized North Korea could, in fact, hit me with a nuke- but also I don’t. I see the phrase “ever-worsening cycles of violence” and I start to feel like dang Steven Pinker and want to go off on how much things are trending upwards.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:27 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]


existential mittens.
posted by clavdivs at 3:29 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


both political parties are invested in a series of increasingly baroque conspiracy theories guided by the grotesque and increasingly obvious lies we tell ourselves about American exceptionalism...
Even The Onion, the only remaining Paper of Record, can't help but bothsides? It's not even following the form that would allow me to believe it's an intentional wink.
posted by abulafa at 3:32 PM on February 17 [77 favorites]


Good headline but bad article. Indulging the very conspiracy theories it purports to satirize. Just because Trump was incapable of handling the pandemic doesn't mean he intentionally failed to handle it. You don't think he'd rather have been seen as the country's savior and set up to become President for Life?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:35 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]


Even The Onion, the only remaining Paper of Record, can't help but bothsides? It's not even following the form that would allow me to believe it's an intentional wink.

I didn't see it as a wink; the preservation of racial capitalism is a bipartisan enterprise that requires extensive cooperation in a two-party system.
posted by Ouverture at 3:35 PM on February 17 [72 favorites]


the preservation of racial capitalism is a bipartisan enterprise that requires extensive cooperation in a two-party system.

can we get animated GIFs back just for this one thread
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:37 PM on February 17 [15 favorites]


Metafilter: it's an intentional wink, as opposed to a tic.
posted by Oyéah at 3:37 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]


This one's almost a year old now.
Remember when the skies were so clear you could see the Universal Pictures logo up there?
The Machine: Total Fucking Panic Dead People and Bullshit.
posted by bartleby at 3:37 PM on February 17 [8 favorites]


I am saving for a doommobile, so I can buy ~two weeks' worth of food from a Trader Joes and just head Out and enjoy nature somewhat off the grid.

Sadly, with #vanlife really taking off, I failed to "beat the rush", as it were.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 3:38 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Good headline but bad article. Indulging the very conspiracy theories it purports to satirize. Just because Trump was incapable of handling the pandemic doesn't mean he intentionally failed to handle it. You don't think he'd rather have been seen as the country's savior and set up to become President for Life?

This actually happened though:
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.
Sometimes what looks like a conspiracy is more a mix of aligned incentives, a common culture of cruelty, and incompetence.
posted by Ouverture at 3:43 PM on February 17 [75 favorites]


LOL, thanks for sharing this, even if I would be torn between the laughing and crying emojis on Facebook were I to share it there.
posted by rpfields at 3:45 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Ouverture, I agree that when Jared Kushner realized the administration had no ability to address the crisis, he wanted to make the best of it and ascribe blame to the political opposition. But, clearly, he and everyone involved would have preferred for the crisis to be handled well and for they themselves to receive the credit. They just couldn't do it, because they're demonic hacks.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:45 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


The Trump Administration appears to have successfully helped foster the development of the vaccines (doubtless with many caveats), and they were given some credit for that. Just not enough credit to win the election.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:47 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Extremely, cripplingly relatable.
posted by latkes at 3:52 PM on February 17 [7 favorites]


clearly, he and everyone involved would have preferred for the crisis to be handled well and for they themselves to receive the credit.

That's why they threw away the Obama pandemic plan.
posted by Splunge at 4:01 PM on February 17 [18 favorites]


Heyyy lets all wet our pants at the very prospect that people might be dissatisfied with both political parties in a satire piece about the US. People hate both sides. This is just a reality, and at a certain point you have to accept it. It doesn't matter if we all think it's wrong, or it's a "privileged" or ignorant position and that it's "both sidesing". It's just how it is. It is literally how millions of people feel, and they are disillusioned by politics for tons of reasons that tons of liberals are so clearly wholly uninterested in, because you know what we are the party of hashtag #Science and Not Trump and shouldn't that be enough??? Well guess what for like 100 something million people it's not, and that sucks, but also you know what give people their 2k checks that you showed pictures of on your ads in Georgia you sneaky pieces of shit jesus fucking christ.

Anyway very silly article I loved it!
posted by windbox at 4:13 PM on February 17 [65 favorites]


on the other hand, I'm blown away by the number of people who, during lockdowns, have discovered parks and just getting out for a walk. Somewhat encouraging.

I am saving for a doommobile, so I can buy ~two weeks' worth of food from a Trader Joes and just head Out and enjoy nature somewhat off the grid.

Sadly, with #vanlife really taking off, I failed to "beat the rush", as it were.


Very much this. Vans, boats, cottages... all in demand around here.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:27 PM on February 17


This morning, a member of my team let me know that he went through this existential dread. I told him it is good to express it and to feel it. Then I also walked him through all the changes his career has gone through over the past year, as - literally a year ago he converted from a contractor position and joined the team. I asked him if he'd gained skills, and whether or not the choice he made to join my team (as opposed to stay and possibly be converted on his prior team) felt like the right choice and whether he had grown.

In all. Yeah, 12 months of absolute shit. 100% true. But, for a few - there are some bright spots and improvements in quality of life. When I look at last year, I like to think about the permanent improvements in those lives moreso than the absolute horror show Covid has been.

Occasionally though, yeah... a few hours curled up into a ball is the right tactic.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:29 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]


Personally my method is to pace incessantly while reloading metafilter.
I definitely need to get more sleep.
posted by nat at 4:40 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]


One of the more glorious and east heralded side effects of the results of last November: when Jared Kushner was mentioned once or twice upthread, my honest reaction for a second was, "Jared Kushner? Who? Er, isn't that the Subway child porn guy?"

I would not be entirely displeased if this confusion became commonplace.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:48 PM on February 17 [23 favorites]


QAnon: literal batshit conspiracy.

Versus... What? "The Cruelty is the Point"-ism? Knowingly and clearly demonstrated? What exactly is the baroque conspiracy theory on the other of the "both" sides? Believing con men who show you who they are repeatedly isn't a fucking conspiracy theory, it's just refusing to be gaslighted.

Sheesh. Onion readers can hate who they want. I literally don't know what reassuringly counterbalancing idea is available to let all those rightfully angry people nurture a healthy sense of pointlessness.
posted by abulafa at 4:54 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]


abulafa: Even The Onion, the only remaining Paper of Record, can't help but bothsides?

Ouverture: the preservation of racial capitalism is a bipartisan enterprise...

I think Ouverture's take is the closest to the Onion authors' intention, based on:

... he had the vague idea that living in a social system based on brutal competition that made all human relationships transactional and perverted the very idea of community might have something to do with it.
posted by panglos at 5:07 PM on February 17 [22 favorites]


I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. The idea that white supremacy and capitalism are not a one party issue was not introduced by the text, but suggested by an interpretation in this thread. The text you're using to support your interpretation is about that system and does suggest that perpetuation is a universal issue and not one-party.

What was introduced by the text was some notion of baroque conspiracy theories on "both sides" and I'm struggling to understand how that relates to the intent of the author based on evidence like the subject's comically under-considered questioning of the system. It's cute. It's funny. It's wry. It's the Onion. But it literally implies "both sides" do something that isn't in evidence for one of those sides which seems a non-sequitur given the rest of the text. Hence, lazy and ill-supported both-sidesism.

Like, I get we want to be mad at liberals for not being progressive enough but that doesn't mean they're flat-earthers.
posted by abulafa at 5:19 PM on February 17 [21 favorites]


Even granting that their intent was to reference the broader problems of racial capitalism, it still doesn’t adhere very well. Because, of the “both sides”, one side is distinctly more inclined to build in the kind of enfranchising power structures, social safety net, racial equality, and collective responsibility that the other side simply isn’t (and actively undermines).

It’s an Onion article, so no big woop. Except that it perpetuates this notion that there is no moral or practical difference in the two “sides”, which is one of the most toxic and pernicious ideas that consistently contributes to disengagement and self-disenfranchisement from the political process.
posted by darkstar at 5:25 PM on February 17 [12 favorites]


Just because Trump was incapable of handling the pandemic doesn't mean he intentionally failed to handle it

Scott Atlas was brought onto the Trump COVID team to advocate his "herd immunity" strategy, ie intentionally letting it rip through the population.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:56 PM on February 17 [16 favorites]


Because, of the “both sides”, one side is distinctly more inclined to build in the kind of enfranchising power structures, social safety net, racial equality, and collective responsibility that the other side simply isn’t (and actively undermines).

Weird, I live in NY, a democratically controlled city in a democratically controlled state and yet we still have a bizarre
political protection of police, police beating down protestors, black people grossly disproportionately imprisoned, some of the highest rates of homelessness and inequality, more covid deaths than entire other countries, and one of the most segregated school districts in the US. You won't find much different in democratically controlled Chicago, Philly, LA, etc. But yeah you're right I'm sure tons of regular non-politics following people feel like they are being totalllllly enfranchised in all kinds of ways that they are just too stupid to realize.

Our democratic governor is literally flapping his arms and clucking to the media about how there is a conspiracy against him, like right now, as we speak!
posted by windbox at 6:04 PM on February 17 [54 favorites]


I detest both-sides-ism, and the accompanying false equivalences that continue to give cover to the worst people.

I didn't think the article was funny. Parts were relatable in a painful way. I haven't found very much funny for the last few years.

All that said, I understand some see all of this as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: if societal breakdown and end-stage capitalism don't kill us all, global warming and mass extinctions probably will.

Observing that one side utterly ignores these existential threats in favor of fantasy, while the other advocates band-aid fixes, embraces a big-tent approach of appeasing the increasingly-violent fantasists, and suppresses its own progressive wing to do so, could lead one to the trap of both-sides-ism.

Woody Guthrie once said, "I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good... I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself... I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week to sing the kind that knock you down still farther... But I decided a long time ago that I'd starve to death before I'd sing any such songs as that."

Sorry to see the Onion go down that road. But I also understand that the year we've had could knock the hope out of anybody.

If anyone knows of someone who makes jokes the way Woody wrote songs, please point me there.
posted by panglos at 6:10 PM on February 17 [9 favorites]


TL;DR of the above: Is anyone checking to see if The Onion is OK? This kind of sounds like they aren't OK. Can an entire publication even call a suicide hotline?
posted by panglos at 6:15 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


Just because one side is batshit insane and evil does not mean the other side is automatically good. It's entirely possible for both options to be sub-optimal, to varying degrees. Implying that both sides have issues does not mean those issues are equal.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:16 PM on February 17 [22 favorites]


I don't think anyone is okay.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:47 PM on February 17 [28 favorites]


I suggest we might discuss the rest of the article, and not focus on that one line.

it's just a throwaway line in a work of fiction that feels off, perhaps because the rest of the article arguably feels all too true. If you want to talk about the stuff in that line, find something meatier for us to discuss and post it, by all means.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 6:48 PM on February 17 [7 favorites]


um
posted by firstdaffodils at 7:03 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


The standard suicide hotline is very busy, panglos, (multiple hour waits, perhaps their power lines are still down?), I don't believe the Onion-specific suicide hotline is live, yet, but we can keep checking.
posted by firstdaffodils at 7:07 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Wow. Not the thread I was imagining. I mean, I was sort of thinking this would be a group hug of resigned acceptance of having endured shared misery and (for some) brutal realization that much of "the point" we've been striving for is just a giant hall of bullshitty spiked mirrors that poke us in the eye when we look too closely.

I mean, hell, reading this article, I kind of wanting to gently rest my hand on the Onion's shoulder, and ask how they were doing, and if they needed someone to listen to them for a while. Maybe offering them a cup of something warm and pleasant, like a mug of cocoa with marshmallows and maybe a little rum.

Or maybe I'm projecting a little. Anyone nearby want to test this out?
posted by Ghidorah at 7:20 PM on February 17 [24 favorites]


I think The Onion was not OK(tm) with 'No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens (possibly & probably before then, but definitely then).

By now? Part of the country is actively baying for murder, another part is anti-murder but doesn't want to be too partisan in trying to help prevent the targets of murder (but there's a neat means-tested proposal for starting a committee to investigate the issue with a report to be released in 2035, assuming no transitions of power between now and then)...

Or, y'know, we could keep fighting over "Do they have to be so shrill about it?". My sleep numbers have been doing great ever since I ordered a night guard off Instagram, I'm no longer causing my dentist to be alarmed that I'm grinding my teeth to powder. (To be fair, I haven't seen my dentist in a year either, because pandemic, but I'm sure it's the mouth guard)
posted by CrystalDave at 7:20 PM on February 17 [20 favorites]


I mean, I was sort of thinking this would be a group hug of resigned acceptance of having endured shared misery

that was my first reaction on seeing the headline, then I read the full article & like... the assumption it makes that both major political parties are equally shit isn't just "maybe you don't agree with this & you're offended," it's tied into "do you believe that literally anyone in government, including the progressives you vote for, campaign for, donate to, is trying to make anything better"

the news suggests to me that yes, more than zero people in government are actually invested in pushing progressive causes, based on stuff they've already done & are actively trying to do

this article says nope, everyone is just a garbage person, no one actually cares, no one is doing anything

& like I don't need an unnecessary dose of hopelessness in my existential crisis thanks?

other than that I thought it was spot on
posted by taquito sunrise at 7:41 PM on February 17 [11 favorites]


You think this is bad?
Wait until we return to "normal" and the news tries to memory hole everything since March 2020.

What happens when 99% of the planet has PTSD?
posted by fullerine at 7:54 PM on February 17 [13 favorites]


.
posted by neon909 at 8:07 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Republicans ≠ Democrats. Republicans = Evil. Democrats = Incompetent. If you look at things mathematically rather than applying the same word “bad” indiscriminately, then things might be a little clearer. This country has been governed by both off and on for decades. As an example, civil rights laws were passed over fifty years ago. Systemic racism still exists now as it did then. The Republicans probably made it worse with their rampant voter suppression, as an example. As to the Democrats, there was a lot of lip service regarding racism, yet wasn’t our new president involved with creating a system resulting in massive incarceration of people of color? Our political system as a whole has failed the people of this country.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:14 PM on February 17 [8 favorites]


Oh, that article is probably the best description of current times I’ve seen. If satire doesn’t burn, then it fails.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:17 PM on February 17 [19 favorites]


"Both sides" is a framing traditionaly used by legacy prestige media commentators to call for a return to the postwar consensus where Democrats and Republicans loudly disagreed over minor differences. The kind of story that ends with "gee whiz, Senator Elephant and Senator Donkey argue vociferously on the floor of the Senate and then have a long lunch on Fridays at their club and work things out" bullshit that is so popular with the Boomer/Xer media types. The answer is supposed to be "bipartisan compromise"

In reality though, "both sides" sucking could also mean that the whole framework by which we understand politics, and the realm of possibility contained by the two party system is not functional to allow people to keep reproducing society and not totally extinguish ourselves through a combination of civil war, ecological collapse, and mass pandemics. Maybe the answer is that the entire way we think about self-governance is bullshit and we might want to start looking around for some other ideas. Idk. Deadly firestorms, snowstorms, power outages, water going out in major metros, 400k+ dead in a pandemic, this could be a sign?
posted by wuwei at 9:05 PM on February 17 [23 favorites]


Metafilter: rightfully angry people nurture a healthy sense of pointlessness.
posted by riverlife at 9:05 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]




Related news: Area woman realizes approximately every single person she's ever been friends with in her life has started taking ADHD medication in last four years. "I just felt like I was forgetting things and having a hard time getting stuff done," each and every one of them said
posted by potrzebie at 12:43 AM on February 18 [21 favorites]


The whole Russiagate thing felt like a giant pie in the sky conspiracy theory meant to distract people from the fundamental problems neither party (on the national level) deals with in any sort of meaningful way, such as: wealth inequality, militarization of the (racist) police, healthcare, lack of social safety net, failing infrastructure, climate change, precarious housing, high ratio of debt to savings, lack of well-paying jobs, ballooning cost of higher education, endless wars, military prison industrial complex, and so on...so while there are major differences between both parties, and conflating them can seem irresponsible, they're basically playing the same game and vying for the same pot of campaign cash. It was the Democrats that dealt a death blow to what remained of the welfare state in the 90s.
posted by nikoniko at 2:21 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


What happens when 99% of the planet has PTSD?

Wasn't that most of human history?
posted by acb at 4:50 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The whole Russiagate thing felt like a giant pie in the sky conspiracy theory meant to distract people from the fundamental problems neither party (on the national level) deals with in any sort of meaningful way

Russiagate was 1) real enough, though the most lurid stuff wasn't, and 2) maybe a distraction, though that's a matter of opinion.

How much does it matter that our big wet ex-president's campaign chairman was extremely close with a known Russian intelligence guy, and definitely passed internal campaign documents to him for unknown purposes? Well... I don't know. It sort of stood in as a metonym for Trump's bottomless well of self-interest and lack of public spirit- if he's willing to sell out to Putin, who won't he sell out to? The pedestrian corruption doesn't look that different from his bumbling Putin-oriented corruption, but it's harder to tell that story because (of course) both sides are compromised to some extent. So, Russiagate became a way to say that yes, Trump really is more corrupt than his opponents (which was certainly true). But the media played it as a spy thriller when in reality it was more of a dark comedy like everything else, and found it much more fun to report on than other stuff.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:21 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


I think the parallels between Russiagate and QAnon are uncomfortably close. Don't get me wrong, QAnon is definitely the crazier of the conspiracy theories.

But they both figure lurid and unverifiable intrigues (Hunter Biden's laptop/the "piss tapes"), fear of the other (Jewish cannibal pedophiles/sneaky Russian agents), and a savior figure (Robert Mueller/Donald Trump himself). They both require extensive deep reading to engage with. They both came to nothing when their supporters expected a win.

And they both kept their readers deeply engaged with their media sources of choice (because otherwise you'd be totally lost as to what was going on) and they both served to consume the attention and anger that would rightfully directed at all the things nikoniko listed above.

A rage-sink, both agitating the anger of their supporters to keep them engaged, and then directing it harmlessly away from anyone of consequence.
posted by JDHarper at 6:38 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


Weird, I live in NY, a democratically controlled city in a democratically controlled state and yet we still have a bizarre political protection of police, police beating down protestors, black people grossly disproportionately imprisoned, some of the highest rates of homelessness and inequality, more covid deaths than entire other countries, and one of the most segregated school districts in the US. You won't find much different in democratically controlled Chicago, Philly, LA, etc. But yeah you're right I'm sure tons of regular non-politics following people feel like they are being totalllllly enfranchised in all kinds of ways that they are just too stupid to realize.

I think a lot of relatively comfortable, some might even say privileged, people can't understand why so many young people aren't incredibly enthused about "their side" or are engaging in what they think is "both-sidesism". The sentiment on display in The Onion article doesn't feel like satire to me because a lot of young people, particularly people of color, feel this specific way.

I think comfortable people need to come up with confabulatory narratives about rose twitter or whatever in order to avoid staring in the face of such awful contradictions about "their side". This collective inability to reckon with history has contributed to the situation we are now all suffering through, although some far more than others.

Come to a big blue city in a big blue state and get harassed/beaten by the big blue cops on a regular basis and then tell us to our face that the only problem is the GOP. I think the term comfortable people want to reach for is "ungrateful", which really is just a more polite way to say uppity.
posted by Ouverture at 7:04 AM on February 18 [49 favorites]


I'm just curious whether anything is actually going to come of Russiagate or the potential collaborators in the DC attack. Democrats control the executive and legislative branches of government, so presumably they could hold new hearings and root out bad actors placed by Trump in government agencies. I don't just mean impeachment.
posted by eagles123 at 7:18 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


The Onion headline basically summed up all 6 parts of Adam Curtis' "can't get you out of my head", FPPd earlier.
posted by pepcorn at 7:21 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


But they both figure lurid and unverifiable intrigues (Hunter Biden's laptop/the "piss tapes"), fear of the other (Jewish cannibal pedophiles/sneaky Russian agents), and a savior figure (Robert Mueller/Donald Trump himself). They both require extensive deep reading to engage with. They both came to nothing when their supporters expected a win.

To be fair, if you squint you can fit Watergate into this model. Lurid intriges, the 18 1/2 minute gap, savior figures, white-hot media interest resulting in reams of pages of investigations to read with dozens of interlocking Gorpmans and Bleemers.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:23 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I think the parallels between Russiagate and QAnon are uncomfortably close

Something was happening in regards to Trump and Russia. Russia did interfere in the 2016 election in ways which greatly alarmed the intelligence services. Trump responded by frequently acting in Putin's interests, sharing secrets, and keeping their conversations secret. The piss tape may or may not exist, but much of the rest of the dossier was accurate. Some Russians were indicted for their roles. Even Kevin McCarthy thought Putin was paying Trump.

Seems unfair to compare that to Q who was just making shit up.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:31 AM on February 18 [19 favorites]


All I know is, the Dems promised $2000 checks for Covid relief up to the day of the Georgia runoff, on January 6. Now it is Feb 18, the Dems have the House, the Senate, and the White House, and no checks.

The Dems impeached Republican President Trump. They won a vote to call witnesses, and then didn't call witnesses. And then Republican President Trump got acquitted and it's all over now.

Everybody's been praising Biden for hitting the undo button a bunch of times, and I know he has his hands full w/ this pandemic, but getting things back to 2015/16 isn't what I'd call progress.
posted by nushustu at 8:21 AM on February 18 [15 favorites]


Getting things back to 2015/2016 is absolutely progress as long as it's not an end goal.

The point is not to get there and stop, the point is to get there so we're not starting from a negative number.
posted by fnerg at 8:34 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


And yes, comparing Russiagate to Qanon is the worst false equivalence, since one has roots in the intelligence community, and the other has roots in 8chan. Also, Q Shaman.

Big, big difference there. Really big.
posted by fnerg at 8:36 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]


I'll give the Onion this: At least it's not toothless both-siderism that tries to do the View from Nowhere thing and gets you a stint as the house comedian for NPR. I thought this one missed the mark and was lazy, but unlike pure bothsiderism it's not a terminal case.

All I know is, the Dems promised $2000 checks for Covid relief up to the day of the Georgia runoff, on January 6. Now it is Feb 18, the Dems have the House, the Senate, and the White House, and no checks.

I can help you out some here: They are trying to do more than just the checks with only 50 votes, so they need to run through the reconciliation process. If you had 60 votes you could pass the checks overnight and then do the other stuff, like extend unemployment. Unfortunately they need to bundle a lot of this together due the rules that let them do anything with a bare majority.

Also, FWIW the Democrats have had control of the Senate not for six weeks, but two--that's when the organizing resolution was finally passed. They seem to be trying to March deadline to provide continuity for some unemployment benefits.
posted by mark k at 8:43 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]


I was talking with a colleague about how lucky we are not to be dealing with the winter weather that's hit so much of the country.

"Well, at least we don't get that kind of storm here"

"Not yet"

"Hahaha yeah, just give it 20 or 30 years"

and we laughed and laughed and laughed and
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:03 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


A. the discussion here is proof of the value of good satire.

B. feels like one of those footnotes that could turn into a eighty thousand word memoir. But I'll check that impulse (keep to less than 500 words). It goes back to the mid-80s when I was in my mid-20s, kind of a post-punk, agit-prop proto culture jamming DJ/moviemaker type (whenever I could afford to get my hands on the means of production -- ie: not nearly often enough). Anyway, being perpetually poorish, I ended up doing a fair amount of house-sitting, subletting (some things never change) and one of those places happened to have a bookshelf packed with the likes of Philip K Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Joan Didion and Noam Chomsky all rubbing up against each other. I'd heard of (and read) the first three but this Chomsky guy was a whole new dimension. In fact, combined with the other three (and various others), he galvanized in me a worldview that has proven impossible to shake -- that society as I'd been programmed to accept it via years of institutional learning, mainstream news and pop culture, various priests and coaches and yes, even my parents, was an illusion. Rather like the beginning of David Lynch's Blue Velvet (also a mid-80s thing), there may have been green lawns and white picket fences and sunny days on the surface of things but one level down, it was violent insect terror -- that was the foundation we'd built things on. If you want to get political about it (as Chomsky so lucidly did), that equalled the war crimes of Vietnam, Latin America, Africa, Asia everywhere really that American "interests" (ie: capital) had been allowed/encouraged to roam free ... blah blah blah. Long story short. Same as it ever was ... and yet not, because things have changed a pile in the past thirty-five, forty years. The Iron Curtain fell, the internet evolved, the means of audio-visual-textual production, publishing and distribution have been democratized, unleashed, we've stumbled forward into a whole new zone of communication possibilities and related atrocities ... and ... and ... and ... well here we are. Still only occasionally capable of (willing to?) begin to see through all the illusion. But (and this will be my only but), there's a weird trick involved in doing that (seeing through it all). Because it involves not stopping, standing still, fixing focus, because you just can't do that in the midst of a maelstrom where stillness itself is an illusion. So it's more of a dance that's required, a multidimensional poetry, and part of that (a big part of it, I think) is the big, dark, multidimensional laughter that only good satire can ignite. Or as the Subgenius put it (also back in the 80s -- they were also on that bookshelf) "the only thing worth laughing at, is that nothing's funny anymore." Same as it ever was.
posted by philip-random at 9:06 AM on February 18 [11 favorites]


You think this is bad?
Wait until we return to "normal" and the news tries to memory hole everything since March 2020.


Normal is only going to keep plummeting. After a few days in the cold and dark I am fairly certain in a few months we'll all be fussing about the government mishandling the volcano eruption and cloud of burning ash.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:25 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


A. the discussion here is proof of the value of good satire.

It really isn't. It has triggered basically the same type of discussion we always have.

Really good satire can provide some insight, uncover some blindspot, change the framing you use to look at something. There's none of that here.
posted by mark k at 9:35 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


I think the trouble may be that The Onion is looking big picture, at a global, species-level existential problem, and the people coming away from that article with both-sidesism reads are thinking about recent US history. Quite recently in US history, I myself was very very very very very happy that the democratic candidate for president won the election and then was sworn in and became president. Hooray for us not all dying immediately in a global nuclear conflagration brought about by a homicidal monster. Plus some of our grandparents might survive, now. Yippee.

However.

The current president is not a favorite of mine. He is very much part of the problem we have with the whole being somewhat depressed and unmotivated because of existential dread and massive global suffering thing. For one thing, his republican-coddling bullshit refusal to call witnesses and stand up for what was very obviously right when he had the power to do that is why Clarence Thomas is sitting on the supreme court right now.

Perhaps he will do the right thing and hand over the presidency to his (also problematic) veep as soon as possible and then perhaps she will do the right thing and put Anita Hill on the court. Why are you rolling your eyes right now at the improbability of that good thing happening? Why because both sides are busted! One is UltraNeonMurderBurnItAllDownRightNowAndGnawOnTheCharredBones busted and the other is just medium busted.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:11 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]


So, if you put aside the sheer weirdness of Christian eschatological writings and look at the functional meaning of the Apocalypse, you can find something pretty profound. It's that moment when it's Revealed which side everyone's been on. The sheep or the goats, the wheat or the chaff, those known to God and those sent to the place where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. A Believer is supposed to keep that moment in mind because it can happen at any time, and afterwards it will be too late.

Now, the last year hasn't put me personally in a good light. I'v kept my job, kept my family safe from the virus, and mostly stayed decent and dignified, but all things considered, I've not been a particularly useful member of the society I live in. Events have put a mirror in front of me, and all I can really say is that I'm not actively ashamed. It's been a revelation.

But, I also spent this year in Massachusetts. In April, the president of the United States actively and maliciously interfered in the provision of medical care in the Commonwealth, going so far as to steal medical supplies from the Commonwealth, which he then used to extort our governor for public praise. And 74 million of my fellow citizens are okay with this. That is one profound Revelation, and it will be in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. We really are in a post-apocalyptic landscape right now.
posted by ocschwar at 10:13 AM on February 18 [32 favorites]


^ I appreciate the way you've expressed something here. Things land differently for each of us, also depends on our mood and the time of day, but sometimes a person gets an idea out and it hits me in A Way. Take care.
posted by elkevelvet at 10:39 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


^ I appreciate the way you've expressed something here. Things land differently for each of us, also depends on our mood and the time of day, but sometimes a person gets an idea out and it hits me in A Way. Take care.

yeah. definitely several newsletters I'd like to subscribe to here...grim reading, but good reading.
posted by supermedusa at 11:26 AM on February 18


RE: Russiagate...it was rather worse than the narrative in this thread may be portraying it.

Yes, early on in was spoken of in more florid terms, as a substitute for Trump's broader corruption. And when the Chomsky video linked above was recorded, based on what we then knew, it was a fair point that there was more smoke than fire.

But we now know that there was fire, too. But the extent of the Russiagate corruption was being obscured by other kinds of Trump corruption.

Russiagate was real. And while there may be other systemic issues that Chomsky points out that have greater impact on our elections (e.g., corporate financing, dark money, etc.), I don't think it's fair to say that Russian interference in our elections -- and the Trump administration's facilitation of it (by act and omission) -- was just a "distraction".

Love me some Chomsky, though.
posted by darkstar at 11:54 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


The revelations of Russiagate show how terrifyingly close the US Government came to being the puppet of bad foreign oligarchs instead of the good domestic ones.
posted by Reyturner at 12:13 PM on February 18 [17 favorites]


pepcorn: “The Onion headline basically summed up all 6 parts of Adam Curtis' "can't get you out of my head", FPPd earlier.”
My thoughts exactly.

Cf. “Their aim was to create a new world... but this was a fantasy...,” deeker, 11 February 2021
posted by ob1quixote at 1:42 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


"the only thing worth laughing at, is that nothing's funny anymore." Same as it ever was.

ha ha only serious

posted by flabdablet at 1:56 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


I think the trouble may be that The Onion is looking big picture, at a global, species-level existential problem, and the people coming away from that article with both-sidesism reads are thinking about recent US history. Quite recently in US history, I myself was very very very very very happy that the democratic candidate for president won the election and then was sworn in and became president. Hooray for us not all dying immediately in a global nuclear conflagration brought about by a homicidal monster. Plus some of our grandparents might survive, now. Yippee.

However.

The current president is not a favorite of mine. He is very much part of the problem we have with the whole being somewhat depressed and unmotivated because of existential dread and massive global suffering thing. For one thing, his republican-coddling bullshit refusal to call witnesses and stand up for what was very obviously right when he had the power to do that is why Clarence Thomas is sitting on the supreme court right now.


You hit the nail on the head. How much larger would the margins of electoral victory be for the Democrats over the past 21 years if they didn't incarcerate and immiserate millions of people of color and poor people in the 90s?

The existential dread many young people, including myself, feel about the fast-approaching ecological collapse (and the painful, horrendous loss of everything we have ever known) is directly tied to very recent US history. The criminals and collaborators are still alive, and in many cases, still in positions of credibility, if not complete power. They got away with it.

They're still getting away with it.

That a satire site like The Onion does a better job of describing this than the vast majority of publishers out there is in itself a fascinating phenomenon for future historians to analyze, if there ever is such a thing as a historian in the future.
posted by Ouverture at 3:08 PM on February 18 [18 favorites]


"Hahaha yeah, just give it 20 or 30 years"

OverlappingElvis, I have this sinking fear anytime someone gives a date to when the bad things will arrive, these days, is just leaving a permanent record to laugh-to-avoid-crying at when they see just how overly optimistic they date was.

Just my being conditioned by the last... (insert length of time since I’ve just felt this never ending sense of DOOM).
posted by Ghidorah at 3:15 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


I just hauled a trash can full of snow up three flights of stairs so we'll have water to flush the toilet. The roads are skating rinks, the stores are filled with empty shelves, hospitals are closing because they have no water - I'm grateful for being in the minority that still has electricity. All this in a city that wants to be some sort of global center for tech. Also insurrection last month. Also pandemic.
This article is relevant to my interests.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:34 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


Russiagate was true and got nerfed down because the perp controlled the DA. Q is false and got goosed up by lolzers. That they both occupy the same space now means nothing.
posted by hypnogogue at 5:39 PM on February 18 [10 favorites]


Liberated under President Biden, Fauci can now speak frankly in a way he couldn’t last year. He tells me that in the final two months of his presidency Trump almost completely abandoned his duty to protect the nation from the pandemic. ‘We [the scientists] were trying, but we were acting almost alone, in the sense of without any direction.’ [...] Seeing so much sickness and death, and knowing that much of it could have been avoided, was ‘very difficult’, he says, especially ‘when your main job is to save lives and alleviate suffering, and you see some of the things going on around you that are not only not alleviating suffering but are making things worse’. - Anthony Fauci exclusive interview: 'When I publicly disagreed with Trump he let terrible things happen', The Telegraph, Feb. 19, 2021 (Yahoo News link)
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:59 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


The relevant term from Marx that the character in the Onion piece is looking for is alienation. It's a super useful and important concept (extending even beyond Marx's original use in alienated labor).
posted by eviemath at 7:02 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


I don't think anyone is okay.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:47 PM on February 17 [22 favorites +] [!]


So this tab has been buried for the past week, and as I caught up with it this jumped out at me.

I think what we may be experiencing (in addition to Marx & eviemath's alienation), is that the entire concept of "okay" has been redefined, and there isn't going to be a "back to normal." I'm thinking there's a mental or philosophical (if not simply political) reorientation that is similar to the (untrue) example of buggy whip manufacturers trying to stay in business after cars got popular.

The ratchet effect seems relevant here, and while five minutes ago I though the saying was "the law is a ratchet" or something like that, Wikipedia illustrates that it applies all over the place. Point being: there's no going back, so what do we do in light of that?

With the obvious changes in stance and strategy of the Republican party the past four or five years, that may be the big bang of this redefinition and perhaps the future philosophical line defining the two parties might actually have changed from "liberal" and "conservative" to "back to normal" vs. "new normal" right from under us. What if the hearken of "make Americal great again" doesn't refer to critical-favorites like Jim Crow or slavery, but the post-colonial era of the late 18th century when the country was new and single-minded? It would certainly satisfy my sense of "Republicans want one-party rule." They do, but maybe not the way I've been thinking.

I have to think there's been a lot of writing about "cusp of a new era" situations, since people have thought "surely this!" for a long time, which tells me we may be attempting to to identify a transition from within the transformation. None of this is under any of our controls just as much as it's under everybody's control, but politically there may just have been a wholesale reorientation of US politics.

Knowing what we know about how things have been going and applying that to what is likely to happen in the future, what does "okay" mean? It can't be head-in-the-sand, or bubbling with likeminds, or continuous GRAR on social media...all of that seem like fighting a war that has already finished. What has happened to counter-revolutionaries in the past, after the revolution? Nothing good I'm guessing, and probably a lot of Onion-like melancholy.
posted by rhizome at 12:56 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


That also reminds me of the blog post I read this morning.
About 4 and a half minutes into the podcast Tim asks a fascinating question: the reward equation includes a decay or ‘forgetting’ parameter, so what happens if you disrupt established solutions for long enough that their hold is broken? For example, the complete disruption to our established routines that Covid has caused over the last year? The answer for ants, if you disrupt all of the pheromone trails around their nest, is that they converge on a new solution in the environment, but it won’t necessarily look the same as the one they had before the disruption. (If you’re interested in the amazing problem-solving skills of ants and how we can learn from them in computer science, I covered ‘Ant algorithms for discrete optimization’ in a previous edition of The Morning Paper). It’s highly likely that the same thing will happen to us when we can eventually return to normal – the patterns that we establish won’t necessarily be the same as the ones we had before the series of lockdowns began.
posted by eviemath at 1:50 PM on February 25


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