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The Story So Far (Thursday, March 12, 2020)

How I (and we) got here

The year was 2016, and establishment Democrats were visibly screwing a European-style social democrat out of the presidential nomination. Visibly, because someone (the Democrats swear it was the Russians, but it almost certainly wasn't) leaked their internal emails about how exactly they were doing it. The nominee the Democrats were pushing instead was the most hated politician in American public life, for reasons both real and hallucinatory. The establishment nominee lost, very predictably, to a paranoid, mobbed-up, xenophobic, rapist game show host, and like a lot of supporters of the European-style social democrat, I was pissed off.

So three and a half years of letter-writing campaigns, donations to legal funds, and other at best marginally-useful acts of #resistance later, Bernard Sanders, our smooth boy, is running for President again. I get his campaign emails that always end with a link to send money. About once a week, I cave and click the link for $2.70, the smallest pre-filled amount, which represents 10% of his average donation size in the last failed campaign. Every time, it feels like buying a lottery ticket, except that instead of fantasizing about quitting work and building a Batcave, I get to fantasize about children being freed from cages on the border and reunited with their families, and restaurant workers having healthcare that they can actually afford to use. Not me, us, I guess.

And since late 2016, I've been listening to a leftist podcast that's known for being foul-mouthed, angry, and at least a little bit mean, in the process of being painfully funny, and I've been on all the leftist meme subs on the alien site, including the ones that got quarantined for calling for the death of slave owners or unconditional support for North Korea. To answer Alexander Cockburn's famous question, yes. My hate is pure*.

* A joyful hate. An inspiring hate.

But at the same time, I've got my internet consumption under a bit of control, for once. I'm off the social network that everyone hates, and on Mastodon. I've had a birdsite account for years and hardly ever used it. I'm saving long articles from the web to my e-book reader and reading them offline, along with actual substantial books. I'm reading phlogs, and a private NNTP server, in the green glowing light of Cool-Retro-Termโ€ .

โ€  Cool-Retro-Term

Until the primary gets underway. I'm listening to the podcast, and they're hopeful, for probably the first time in years. The Iowa Caucus comes around, and I'm reading /r/ChapoTrapHouse, official subreddit of the "Trillbilly Workers' Party" podcast for updates, and I'm reloading /rising to keep feeding myself new content. I log into my previously dormant birdsite account just to bully liberals and do battle with the wretched #KHive. I'm looking at my phone whenever I have a spare moment, and I'm not doing any writing, I'm not working on any side projects, and I'm not reading long-form stuff. I am purifying my hate, but I'm also becoming meaner and less creative. My touchscreen keyboard's recently-used emoji panel fills up with ๐Ÿ€ and ๐Ÿ, and ๐Ÿ”ฎ.โ€ก

โ€ก ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ

The Iowa Caucus ends in a SNAFU; a month later they still haven't released complete and final results, but Healthcare Grandpa at least ties for first place. He wins New Hampshire; not by the margins we could have hoped for, but it's understandable: the field is still crowded. The centrist candidates are like crabs in a bucket โ€“ they're all trying to climb out, but in the process, all they're doing is dragging each other back down. Tรญo Bernie wins a decisive victory in the Nevada Caucus, buoyed by Latinx voters and the rank and file of the casino workers' union. He's the first candidate ever to win the popular vote in all of the first three primaries. Things are looking good, though meanwhile, the 2019 novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, has escaped containment in China and spread to Japan and Australia, with isolated cases in the US.

But other than that, things are looking so good that politics perverts are starting to wonder if Bernie might even win in my state, South Carolina, which Joe Biden has been counting on as his "firewall". The "intelligence community" leaks a report in which they claim that Russian intelligence has been aiding the Sanders campaign. It doesn't gain any traction in the real world, but it drives donut ๐Ÿฉ Twitter into fits. It's Pizzagate for liberals. I'm moved by a live show of the rude politics podcast to get out one weekend and work two shifts canvassing for Bernie in Black neighborhoods in Columbia. Bernie does not win. Bernie does not come close.

[An aside: South Carolina politics is fucked up and bad in ways that even after living here for 20 years I don't fully understand. The state Republican party stands for open white supremacy, as well as a kind of spite-driven dominance of the rural areas over the cities. The state Democratic party is a machine, though not a very efficient one. Its guiding principle appears to be careerism.]

Two of the centrist candidates, Buttigieg and Klobuchar, drop out and endorse Biden, in hopes of keeping Bernie from regaining momentum on Super Tuesday (March 3). Bernie fares not terribly, but not great, either, coming out of the contest a few delegates behind Biden. After the Nevada Caucus, Bernie supporters were predicting he'd take both California and Texas; he only took California. Warren and Bloomberg drop out, the latter having spent half a *billion* dollars to only get delegates in American Samoa. There are no more crabs in the bucket to keep Biden from climbing out. By this time, COVID-19 is epidemic in Iran, and the first cases in the US Southeast are showing up.

March 10 is "Super Tuesday Jr.". Sanders doesn't do terrible, but he doesn't do well, despite the fact that Biden is publicly showing signs of cognitive decline. The usual suspects are calling for him to drop out, and his supporters are demoralized, reading Lenin, and threatening to vote for Gloria La Riva. COVID-19 is epidemic in Seattle, WA, and large gatherings across the country are starting to close. And that brings us up to date. Future newsletters are not going to be this long.

Today's absolute bullshit

A leaked Customs and Border Protection directive allows the agency to actively surveil and detain individuals suspected of carrying the illnessโ€”indefinitely.

An Internal Pandemic Document Shows the Coronavirus Gives Trump Extraordinary Powers

Both Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood will not required to comply with Gov. Gavin Newsomโ€™s order against large gatherings to counter the spread of coronavirus.

Follow The Money

America continues to be backwards and superstitious.

Ruth Graham on birdsite: "A cosponsor of this event that Trump advisor Paula White is speaking at next month just emailed a promotion with the subject line "Supernatural Protection from the CoronaVirus Now." It also noted: "Due to huge demand we are moving the meetings to the Phoenix Convention Center!"

Twitter link

I'm leaving out a couple of things that really made me mad, solely on the grounds that I read them yesterday. But a very brief mention: Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) blocked a bill that would have guaranteed paid sick leave to all Americans during the pandemic. Now people will either go in to work and spread the virus, or get evicted.

Rays of hope

Chelsea Manning is out of jail again, after attempting suicide a few days ago. The grand jury she was being held in contempt of is long-dissolved, so they couldn't make a case for holding her. They're still going to fine her tens of thousands of dollars.

One of Jair Bolsonaro's aides has tested positive for COVID-19, and he was in close meetings with both Bolsonaro and Trump. Bolsonaro will announce his test results tomorrow, but if Trump is being tested, he's not saying anything about it.

Late breaking update

Middle schoolers are calling COVID-19 "Boomer Remover". I'm proud of the nasty little bastards.

Music to go with this episode

Here's a cover of a Gary Numan song, arranged and performed by Information Society. It's giving me a real Posadist feel today.

"Praying to the Aliens"

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