Ah, Capitalism

It’s fascinating, in a mind-numbing, macabre way, to watch how we’ve treated the pandemic. On the one hand, many are straining and always have been straining toward, pining for a return to pre-Covid ways and behavior. On the other hand, we’re STILL hearing about an uptick in cases, strained ERs and staffs, and the specter of another surge after the Thanksgiving travel and get-togethers.

Fascinating isn’t the right word. Frustrating isn’t a strong enough word. Maddening and infuriating get closer to where I’m at. It’s been a witch’s brew of behaviors and reactions, damned from the start by a POTUS who refused to acknowledge that we had a problem, that Covid-19 was even worth worrying about. We got off on the wrong foot and haven’t been able to recover.

And now a writer for The Atlantic suggests it’s up to politicians—not scientists and health officials—to declare when the pandemic is over. This, in my mind, is the perfect example of what we’ve been dealing with all along. People with contrary views offering advice that sounds and feels… ill-conceived, impatient, and just wrong-headed. Wouldn’t this be like waiting on the opinion of the local CPA to decide if you need heart surgery? Sadly, it seems like the scientific community is kow-towing to the politicians already, anyway. Recovery has never moved fast enough, so it’s been forced the whole way along. Human life and well-being have never really been the drivers here. It’s been all hands on deck to get the wheels of commerce out of the ditch and back on the road.

We end up with the blind leading the blind, and the ones who can really help are left sitting in the dust on the sidelines– ignored, marginalized, and maligned. Imagine that.

Nice going, Donald. You set the tone.

Personal

So, how to get someone to understand that they’re putting too much pressure on themselves, that they’re setting themselves up for failure? That they don’t have to be everything to everybody. That not nearly as many people as they might think are watching or noticing or caring at all that you aren’t fulfilling every dream and expectation, or living up to outsized, unrealistic, self-imposed standards.

I know that it’s necessary to tread lightly when people are having these troubles—you don’t want to make things worse. But there are times when it’s all I can do to refrain from just blurting out, “take a damn chill pill and stop the pity party!” We are, collectively, a bundle of neuroses stretched to a breaking point by the added stress of a pandemic. But we still suffer from self-inflicted wounds. We treat self-care as some holy grail, an elusive solution to every ill, something we have to succeed at like parenthood or vocation (sometimes one in the same).

I’ve never been able to fully grasp the apparent difficulty people (myself included) have of just letting things go. Depression to me isn’t necessarily something that warrants multiple visits to a therapist or can be treated with a pill. Sometimes it seems like what we need to do is take a walk, exercise, force a change of scenery, network. Some, sadly, are so incapacitated that they aren’t capable of doing that much. So they do need someone to help them, guide them.

We spend a lifetime living inside our own heads, and this isn’t necessarily the best place to be. We are the accumulation of formative childhood experiences and spoken words and actions and teaching moments and perceptions and misunderstandings. We keep score, we react or bury, we form opinions of ourselves sometimes based on bad information and other peoples’ insecurities, and the injurious self-talk starts eating away at our outlook and confidence and joy. We enter school, the work force, marriage, and other relationships having formed an opinion of ourselves over time based on how other people have treated us and spoken of us. And we process it all, for good or ill. 

There’s a price to be paid for grabbing life by the balls, for feeling like every minute of every day needs to be momentous and utilized and purposeful. We’re so afraid of failure that we fail by default. My word! I’m getting pissed off and exhausted just writing these last few sentences.

What angers me is that we can be so unkind to ourselves, that we carry the weight of childhood trauma into adulthood, that the self-talk has way too much influence. And we don’t learn to process it until it’s had a chance to do damage. One way or another, it is necessary to confront the heaviness, at least keep it at bay. Manage it, if not get rid of it, move beyond it. So we can know what it feels like to have a clean slate.

Word Games

Sometimes it seems like defense lawyers are in the business of creating an alternate reality for their clients, like it’s a game of character development, image makeover, seeing if they can weave a web of deceit under the guise of a whole new set of “facts” that sound earnest and plausible and paint the client in a much improved light.

It’s about the sell. There are no hard and fast rules that can’t be rendered vulnerable to technicalities. It’s about loopholes and softening the edges, convoluted motives and intent, convincing a jury that your client was merely suffering from a forgivable brain fart and he actually has a heart of gold.

In the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, well, he was just being young and stupid. A misunderstood and misguided do-gooder. After all, he went there to “help.” With an AR-15.

Pretty nice having the presiding judge in your corner. That helps, too.

You Could Knock Me Over with a Feather!

News flash: the pandemic is still with us.

We’re getting word that cases are … ticking up once again, in half the country. Europe, the canary in the coal mine for us, is getting hot again. Germany is in the midst of a surge, Austria is mandating a quarantine of its unvaccinated population. And once again medical staffs around this country are being stretched to the breaking point, called upon to deal with the sickness and death.

Of course, at some point, probably today, we’ll hear how there’s little need for concern among the vaccinated population, though breakthrough cases are on the rise and these people are ending up in the hospital now, and some are dying.

So make your holiday plans, book your flights. Life must go on, right? Wear a mask and wash your hands, but only if you want to. You don’t have to. Just a suggestion. Far be it for anyone with knowledge on the subject to dare suggest continued precautions. Not here in the land of the free and the home of shit for brains.

Ugly People

Is anyone else sick and tired of all the Trump players and their shit-eating grins, their sense of immunity (or is it superiority?), their in-your-face, laugh-at-consequences attitude?

Where did these people come from? What soil were they planted in? Who were the influences in their lives? They seem intent on holding onto an America that is not worthy of their efforts.

Is this how easy it is to sabotage and undermine the rule of law—just proclaim and act, for all to see, as if none of it applies to you, none of it matters? Is it all just a game of “Go ahead, I dare you” to them? Where does this hubris and brazenness come from?

Seems it’s really only about greasing palms, and who you know.

Sensational, For Various Reasons

Commendable performance by the defendant in the Kenosha, WI shootings. He worked up tears worthy of Ralphie Parker, blubbering like an idiot. Hoping to change “hearts and minds,” play the sympathy card?

What bothers me about this whole story is that he went to Kenosha as a 17-year old vigilante brandishing an AR-15, a wet-behind-the-ears teenager nonetheless prepared (hoping?) to shoot protesters. Impressionable, immature, maybe brainwashed, having swallowed the swill about a stolen election and the inferiority of people of color, convinced of the righteousness of his “cause.” The details of those moments in that day are probably not even retrievable for Mr. Rittenhouse, because he was there to mete out “justice” with a high-powered weapon. He can claim “the fog of war.” He was feeling like a big man.

How could he possibly be the one feeling threatened? It might make one wonder if he ever had a moment when he was asking himself, “What the hell am I doing here?”

He probably has nothing to worry about. It seems he even has the presiding judge in his corner.

Oil Slick

COP26 is unfolding in Glasgow. Sounds like, once again, an exercise in window dressing, a bunch of leaders coming together to pay lip service to environmental concerns. And once again, Greta Thunberg is riling things up, cutting though the BS, rallying young and old to demonstrate and get the attention of a bunch of people beholden to fossil fuel lobbyists and a world (er, a northern hemisphere) full of people who are used to not giving a second thought to how they live their lives.

The simple truth is that we’ve given ourselves no leeway, no wiggle room anymore. Our habits, lifestyles, sense of entitlement are all on the chopping block. Our whole economic way of life lies at the root of this. We’ve been careless and carefree for so long that we can’t really envision changing our ways.

Cold turkey probably would be calamitous, but we as a world have to start somewhere, start a trend toward some level of selflessness. Very painful, no doubt. The Kardashians will likely have a hard time with this, along with all those who have preyed upon a pervasive sense of shallowness and superficiality and god-awful selfishness.

So, do we all need to return to living in huts, revert to clans and fiefdoms and cans with string, and smoke signals? Maybe this is the fear—that in order to save the environment, we’d have to give up too much, we’d have to regress and learn to live with less. For many, there would be no going back, and maybe our options need not be so stark. It’s just that we’ve wasted so much time, frittered away precious days and years listening to the wrong voices, refusing to believe that things are as bad as people are saying.

The Cuyahoga River literally caught fire—for the 13th time since the late 1860s!—in 1969. Fifty-two years later, it looks like we’re still having trouble putting two and two together.

Fluff

Many reporters ask dumb questions, often focused on some variation of “Who’s to blame?” Or “How much blame do you feel you should be shouldering?” (“I don’t know. You want a percentage…?!”) They want to be the ones who get their sound bite aired on the nightly news, want to appear tough and probing and relentless, earning kudos for themselves and their networks.

Word of advice: formulate better questions. Or just don’t bother. We’re no better informed for having endured the vanity.

Insanity

Our freedoms take a back seat to expediency with regard to eradicating a pandemic.

Enough of this nonsense about “you can’t tell me what to do with my body.” People aren’t being told that they have to carry a baby to term or choose one from a list of 2 careers they must pursue. They are being offered a potentially life-saving vaccine that protects them and others around them, and also helps limit mutations, the development of variants.

This is a pandemic. It’s not the flu. If only it was the flu. But it’s not– STILL! It’s a fucking pandemic. You don’t trust doctors and actual infectious disease experts but you trust Joe Rogan and Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson? Unwrap yourselves and put your damned flags away. A pandemic isn’t the time to get all misty-eyed about America. It’s a time for clear-eyed, sensible behavior that leads to a sustained low level of infection, which cannot be achieved if enough of us are believing that Covid-19—or whatever pathogen is in the pipeline waiting to pounce—is made up, or somehow isn’t real.

I read somewhere recently that we’re reaching the point where nobody in America will be left unaffected by the virus—whether it’s contracting the illness or dying from it oneself, or having a family member or significant other suffering in some way from it. It’s real. Get that through your thick skulls. It’s real, and it’s been real all along.

You all suffer from some other disease that’s running rampant, and it’s not the result of a microscopic virus. It’s just sheer stubbornness and ignorance. A lethal brand of group think, the product of stupefying gullibility.  

What Is Going On?

How is one person wielding so much power in the Democratic party right now? What is Joe Manchin up to?

The connection seems almost too obvious—Manchin represents a coal-rich state, and the piece of Build Back Better that looks to suffer the most is the environmental piece? Who is Manchin working for?

Joe Biden is no FDR, and these aren’t the 1930s. Is anyone else wondering if Biden has the stamina to finish his term, never mind prevail in pushing his agenda?