By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
There’s panic on the streets of Bellefonte, panic on the streets of Lancaster, I wonder to myself, could life ever be sane again? Barely two weeks into Pennsylvania’s largely mandatory shutdown and I’m already paraphrasing lyrics from vintage Smiths songs. I can’t deny to anyone, much less myself, that I’m not handling this shit particularly well. Quite frankly, I’m losing my proverbial shit. Flipping out on fucking trashcans and stalking the halls like Jack Torrance in lipstick, dragging an ax called ‘Nervous Breakdown’ behind me. I’d say I’m just a few loose screws away from chopping my family up into three neat stacks and hammering out “All business and no play make Nicky a dull girl” for volume three of this fucking thing. I’m an agoraphobic for shit’s sake. How the Christ did I do this for six years straight without committing a single homicide? I had sixty minutes with my shrink over the goddamn phone this week and she stopped my yammering no more than three times to ask me if I was suicidal. So, yeah, dearest motherfuckers, I’m not exactly doing well. At least I’m not alone.
By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
Being a certifiable agoraphobic basket case, you would think someone like me would be almost preternaturally suited for the stone blind isolation of fever fucked pandamania. And you would be completely fucking wrong. I spent six years in self imposed isolation as a twenty-something shut in. I spent another six desperately clawing my way out of that hole and slowly building what has only just begun to resemble a life, and in less than six days, covid-19 has torn this intricately constructed matrix of groups, volunteer jobs and therapy down to the ground and reduced me to the shambled debris of ground zero. I’m a little bit pissed, but mostly I’m just fucking scared. If I’m going to write about something like this, I’m going to write about it with the naked ferocity that defines my writing. A strange, vaguely haunted cobweb of Gonzo muckraking and navel gazing confessionals that I’ve come to refer to as Emo-Gonzo. I am the genderfucked bastard bitch of Hunter Thompson and Sylvia Plath, humped together in the dizzy oven of some bored press junket cafeteria, and today, this is my story. George Romero eat your heart out.
An interesting discussion of how genocides happen.
For those who ever thought Alexandria was a serious radical or revolutionary, remember that she was an intern for Ted Kennedy, memorialized (as opposed to celebrating) the death of John McCain, and has never taken positions any more “radical” than do-gooder reformist and SJWish ones. She has never had anti-imperialism as a core focus of her politics, not even on the level of a moderate anti-interventionist like Tulsi Gabbard. She has never had much interest in class politics beyond conventional welfare statism. Her “Green New Deal” is, at best, an effort to shift the focus of state-capitalism/crony-capitalism away from Big Oil toward Big Green. And she seems to subscribe to the standard SJW paradigm on “social issues.” At what point has she ever called for dismantling, the overthrow of the ruling class, or global anti-imperialism? Nowhere, as far I can tell.
By Alex Thompson and Holly Otterbein
Soon after her upset primary victory against a Democratic Party boss in 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez traveled to St. Louis to prove her victory wasn’t a one-off by campaigning for Cori Bush, who was similarly taking on a longtime Democratic congressman.
“What I’m asking for you to do is to support my sister, Cori Bush,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a rally. “It is so important what we did, we just came off of this win in New York, but people were trying to say, ‘It’s just one place.’”
Bush lost that race but is challenging Rep. William “Lacy” Clay again in an August primary. She has more money and higher name recognition, and earned the endorsement of Bernie Sanders. But Ocasio-Cortez isn’t helping Bush this time.
After her victory in 2018, Ocasio-Cortez encouraged progressives to follow in her footsteps and run for Congress with the backing of the left-wing group Justice Democrats, even if it meant taking on powerful incumbents. Sixteen months later, the Missouri primary isn’t the only one Ocasio-Cortez is steering clear of.
The news ain’t all bad.
By Nathan Frandino, Shannon Stapleton, Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The coronavirus crisis is beginning to do something the city of San Francisco has been unable to accomplish for years – move homeless people off the streets and into shelters, including some of the city’s now-empty hotels.
Faced with the prospect the virus could rip through the nearly 10,000 people who live on the streets or in shelters, city officials are securing 4,500 rooms for those who need to self-quarantine. The rooms would also be for homeless residents who need to isolate themselves and cannot be sent back into the community without risking infecting others.
The hotels may additionally house high-risk individuals among the 19,000 people living in single-room occupancy (SRO) buildings with shared kitchens and bathrooms who similarly cannot self-isolate.
At least 160 people who either tested positive for the coronavirus or were awaiting results were being referred to hotels as of March 25, city officials said.
“The hospitals will not discharge them to the street,” said Trent Rhorer, executive director of the city’s Human Services Agency. “They’ll only discharge people who are able to self-quarantine.”
By Becket Adams
Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei holds conservative and right-wing media responsible for how certain red states have responded to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Congratulations, Rush Limbaugh. You are the first person in history to rule as the unofficial governor of multiple U.S. states. Stacey Abrams must be so jealous.
VandeHei’s remarks came Thursday amid a broader discussion ripping into Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who announced recently that he just learned that asymptomatic victims of the virus are as contagious as those who are obviously ill, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who only recently issued a “stay-at-home” order for the Sunshine State.
“What you’re seeing here, and this is a bigger problem for society, is information inequality,” VandeHei said during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “Like, why did DeSantis do what he did? Why did Georgia wait so long?”
By Peter Nicholas
It shouldn’t be all that remarkable when two leaders talk in a crisis. On Sunday morning, President Donald Trump got on the phone with Mayor Bill de Blasio to discuss what New York City needs to survive a white-hot outbreak that is only getting worse. De Blasio asked him to send more ventilators and military personnel, warning that in a week’s time, the health-care system could be overwhelmed.
Yet with these particular leaders at this particular point in history, it is remarkable. Until recently, de Blasio told me, none of his calls to the upper reaches of the White House were returned. Two weeks ago, the Democratic mayor said publicly that Trump was “betraying” his native city by not sending more life-saving medical equipment. Ever sensitive to criticism, Trump said, in turn: “I’m not dealing with him.”
Defeating a pandemic is hard enough, but Trump has introduced another layer of complexity: He has personalized the battlefield. He calls COVID-19 “the invisible enemy,” but he also seems fixated on the visible variety—all Democratic leaders, who in his view have been insufficiently grateful for the federal government’s response. A stray complaint about equipment shortages invites a public feud with the man controlling the spigot. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” the president said at a news conference last week.
By Julia A. Minson
If you are like me, you have had several encounters with friends, neighbors and relatives who, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, behaved in some way that almost made your blood boil.
These could range from general assertions that we are “overreacting,” to concrete plans to take that vacation or hold that birthday party because “It’ll be ok.” This perspective violates the scientific consensus supported by most of the medical and public health community — and is contributing to putting lives at risk by helping to spread the pandemic.
Even people who wholeheartedly agree with the scientific consensus have sometimes responded in unhelpful and dangerous ways, including hoarding face masks, toilet paper and even guns.
What do you do when in the midst of a life-threatening, economy-destroying, terror-inducing public health crisis people around you seem to disregard their government — or behave in otherwise irrational ways?
Most responses I have seen involve condescending and ever-less-patient explanations of why the person in front of you is wrong; public shaming, often on social media, often in ALL CAPS; and gradual escalation into eye-rolling and raised voices. It doesn’t help that, according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on March 14, the attitudes and beliefs about coronavirus have become politicized: for example, while 68% of Democrats believe that coronavirus is a serious threat to the health of their family, only 40% of Republicans think so.
By Philip Bump
One of the interesting and alarming aspects of the steady spread of the coronavirus across the country is the extent to which views of the pandemic differ by political party. Republicans consistently report less concern about the virus and that they’re taking fewer actions meant to slow the virus’s spread.
This partisan difference is clearly in part a function of President Trump’s approach to the emergence of the virus, an approach that has only sporadically deviated from unrealistically optimistic predictions and assessments of the administration’s efforts. It may also be a function of geography: Three-quarters of the coronavirus cases in the United States were confirmed in blue states. The virus has been slower to emerge in more rural states, which tend to vote more heavily Republican, though even smaller states are seeing exponential growth in confirmed cases.
This raises an interesting question. Are Republicans more skeptical of the effects of the virus because they’re Republicans or because they live in places where the virus isn’t as prevalent?
By Ronald Brownstein
The struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic has opened a new front in the long-running conflict between blue cities and red states.
Across a wide array of states with Republican governors, many of the largest cities and counties — most of them led by Democrats — moved aggressively to limit economic and social activity. State officials, meanwhile, refused to impose the strictest statewide standards to fight the virus.
A chorus of big-city officials in red states from Florida, Georgia and Mississippi to Texas, Arizona and Missouri urged their governors to establish uniform statewide rules, arguing that refusing to do so undercut their local initiatives by increasing the risk the disease would cluster in neighboring areas — from which it could easily reinfect their populations.
On Tuesday afternoon, after weeks of complaints from local officials and medical officials, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide order restricting social interactions to essential activities (albeit with some conspicuous exceptions). Others have followed suit.
By Dante Chinni
WASHINGTON — The spread of the COVID-19 virus has not occurred evenly around the country. Urban areas, such as New York City, have been harder than rural locales and that difference in impacts follows some of the deep partisan political splits in the country.
Democrats and Republicans seem to be experiencing the coronavirus differently and that may be playing a role in how they see the pandemic – at least for now.
As of Friday this week, there were more than 102,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States and roughly 1,700 counties had at least one confirmed case, according to data from USAFacts, which is updating maps of virus data daily. But look at those numbers through the prism of the 2016 election and they are hitting Democratic-leaning counties much harder.
About 77 percent of those confirmed cases were in the 490 counties that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. And the overwhelming majority of those Clinton counties, 81 percent, had at least one case. Meanwhile, there were more than 2600 counties that voted for President Trump in 2016, but they hold only 19 percent of the cases. On the whole, only 50 percent of those Trump counties have a single case.
By David Roberts
The US is a land divided. Americans have sorted themselves into opposing factions, with different values, sources of authority, and shared understandings. In some ways, there is no longer any meaningful US “public,” but rather two publics that want and believe different things.
The current state of deep polarization in the US is the subject of a great deal of discussion and research right now, including in an excellent new book by my colleague Ezra Klein. One aspect of it that I have highlighted in a number of posts (start here) is what I call America’s epistemic crisis. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy having to do with knowledge and how we come to know things; the crisis is that, as a polity, we have become incapable of learning or knowing the same things, and thus, incapable of acting together in a coherent fashion.
I have been wondering when that epistemic crisis might spiral out into a full-fledged political crisis. I wondered if it might happen around the Mueller investigation, or when Trump sent 5,000 troops to the southern border to stop a phantom migrant invasion, or when Trump was impeached.
By Jess Bidgood
It was Saturday night on a main street in the South, but locals described something odd: One side of the street was almost normal, if quiet, with restaurants serving dinner and groups of young people milling around. The other side of the street looked practically vacant.
“There was no foot traffic on the left side,” recalled business owner Janet Atwell, 51.
Both sides of State Street are in cities called Bristol, but the left side is Virginia, the right side is Tennessee and the yellow line down the middle of the road is both a state border and a new frontier in this country’s uneven response to the coronavirus outbreak that often is breaking down along partisan lines.
The different scenes on either side of the pavement reflected the differing pace of the two state’s governors as they seek to contain the pandemic. On that Saturday night on March 21, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia, a Democrat, had established stricter limits on public gatherings than Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee, a Republican. Since then, both governors have banned dining inside restaurants and public gatherings of more than 10 people, but Northam has ordered a larger swath of nonessential businesses to close.
Contra Kyle, Rush is not wrong to say that we should question medical and scientific authorities. Historically, there are plenty of examples of the medical and scientific establishment being not only wrong but complicit in systems of tyrannical political authority (e.g., eugenics, Lysenkoism, the “racial hygiene” policies of the Third Reich, Chinese organ harvesting). See Foucault’s work in this area or Thomas Szasz’s critique of the “therapeutic state.” Where Rush goes wrong is with the selectively of the authorities that he criticizes.
Tucker Carlson’s program tonight has a lot of interesting information. Melissa Francis inadvertently describes the correct solution to the present economic crisis, i.e. a complete holiday on payments for everyone. Bring on the gift economy!
It’s interesting how these parody sites like the Hard Times, the Onion, and the Babylon Bee are now the most honest and accurate forms of journalism.
By Zach Russell
The Hard Times
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a concerning report this morning, finding that 78% of American corporations are barely scraping by and living stimulus to stimulus, sources laying naked atop a tiger pelt confirmed.
“It’s dire straits for hard-working legal entities in America, with many businesses struggling to dole out even a cool million in fun money to execs like me,” commented Royal Caribbean’s CEO Richard Fain while holding back tears as he opened a safe hidden behind a painting that was only half full of gold and ivory. “Corporations have already done everything we can to cut operating expenses — we slashed health benefits, reinvested our employees’ 401k accounts into stock buyback plans for our board members, and it’s still not enough. Hell, American Airlines euthanized half their flight crew, but Uncle Sam just pulls his purse strings tighter, sliding us mere single-digit billions: proof the federal government doesn’t give two shits about struggling Ltd’s. We have sharks and huge tanks to buy, damn it!”
With all due respect to organized crime.
Actually, George was a lot more authoritarian than his historic reputation.