Can’t Handle the Truth

The perception of him in many circles may be that of Grim Reaper or Michael Downer, but Dr. Osterholm has been right all along.

There has never been the will to prove him wrong. What he’s predicted has come to pass, every time. We have a seer and sage in our midst but not enough people have ever taken him seriously, or have plain dismissed him as some sort of quack, just an outspoken dispenser of bad news. We apparently prefer our info more nuanced and sugar coated, while Osterholm has always given us the unvarnished truth.

It was refreshing to watch Ms. Walensky “go off script” the other day, even though it appeared she was still reading something. In any event, we can’t have it both ways—complaining about our public officials hiding the truth from us, while taking offense when someone dares tell it like it is.

It’s a wonder people still aspire to public service.

What School of Business Did You Go To?

In what universe does a business model that plainly states service will get slower, jobs will be cut, and costs to consumers will rise have a chance of surviving? How is Louis DeJoy able to lay out such a plan and not get laughed out of whatever room he is in, never mind continue in his job?

If it couldn’t raise stamp prices, how would the USPS, year after year for many years now, be able to stay in business when it loses billions of dollars annually? Is the plan to neuter the postal service and render it inconsequential in time for the next election still a thing? Right under our noses?

I only ever have questions.

Minority Rule

What’s happening in Georgia and other states is creating fertile ground for civil war, or at least passionate unrest in some form.

The Republican Party seems intent on showing everyone that they’ve got nothing to offer, that their only recourse is to ramrod legislation making it exceedingly difficult in any future election for people of color and young people to vote. This is their game plan.

They’ve got nothing the majority of people want, they’re still brainlessly buying the Trump lie about a stolen election, so they are methodically and brazenly laying the groundwork that they hope will enable them to win elections and stay in power and push their archaic, narrow-minded, whites only agenda. You’d think even Republicans would look at this and say, “count me out.”

People who lose their voice will find other ways to be heard.

It’s No Mystery

The words are elusive anymore. Always searching for the right combination of descriptive phrases, trying to capture emotions that properly convey the anger and exasperation and futility of watching our elected leaders scurry about and skirt the issue and hide behind the long tired Second Amendment excuse. They have to know that no one is coming for their guns.

Well, except to staunch the flow of assault weapons, which no civilian really needs and which often end up being the weapon of choice among those who decide they need to act on pent-up urges and misplaced rage by killing as many unarmed and unsuspecting people as possible. And, of course, if you are convinced that Big Government is always plotting some sort of crackdown, and insurrection is just around the corner, well, an AR-15 is a good friend to have in the face of such heinous over-stepping, whether or not such a threat is even real. There’s room for two or three of those in the gun safe, in any event.

As long as there exists buy-in of this narrative of paranoia and mistrust, the arsenals will continue to expand. We’re the most heavily armed civilian population on earth, which is not so much about bragging rights as it is just plain pathetic and sad, and alarming. A recipe for mayhem. A recipe for exactly what we’re currently witnessing and have endured for years.

We seem not to be able to rise above our insecurities, and hubris. We can’t get out of our own way, more often indulging our worse angels. Always on guard, looking for signs, expecting the worst, living atop a powder keg.

Grow A Pair

We as a nation, as individuals trying to make it through the day in the midst of a pandemic, have been shouldering the additional burden of living our days wondering where the next mass shooting will be, where the next angry, disturbed, delusional perpetrator is lurking.

Is he (most likely he) somewhere close by? Does he have designs on distinguishing himself with a record body count? Was he able to get his hands on an assault weapon or two, hardly any questions asked?

Is today the day someone heads to the local big box store to pick up light bulbs or grass seed, only to find themselves running for cover, bodies in the aisles?

Is anyone in the Senate- yes, you, Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey and Mitch McConnell and the whole fucking lot of you still kowtowing to the NRA- seeing what we’re seeing? Is “being aware of our surroundings,” plotting escape routes and noticing exit signs just the price we should be willing to pay for citizenship in a country where there are more guns than people?

How much pain are you willing to ignore? How much insanity are you capable of dismissing? Surely you must know that we can’t go on like this.

This can’t be the normal we return to.

Cracked Reflection

My first reaction was, “are the kids ok?” We’ve shopped at King Soopers. Not that particular one, but others not all that far away. It’s a place where people go to just buy their groceries. My second reaction was, “is this racially motivated?” My third reaction was, “holy shit, is this random?” My fourth reaction was, “ban the damned assault rifles.” My fifth reaction was, “must be covid fatigue.” My sixth reaction was, “man, not nearly enough people are chilling, enjoying that Colorado Rocky Mountain high.” My seventh reaction was, “@#$!!&*!.” My eighth reaction was, “tell me again why we all need to have an armory in our homes?” My ninth and tenth reactions were, “take the damned assault weapons out of the picture!” My eleventh reaction, and the most recent, is “I need to retire and lock in my pension before the stock market collapses.”

No, the more current reaction is, “this is a sad commentary on us as a nation.” Nowhere else on the entire planet do such events unfold with such regularity. Nowhere. Not even close. What the hell is wrong with us? Is there a whole subculture of neglected, delusional, bored, emotionally dead children?

It’s a witch’s brew of maladies- people slipping through cracks, neglected; mental illness, a sick fascination with high-powered weaponry and power in general, blurred lines between fantasy and reality, a paranoid world view, and an unhealthy fixation on, a wrong-headed interpretation of Second Amendment rights.

Sounds over-simplified, but maybe we’re too engrossed in our pursuit of the almighty American Dream to really care about anyone but ourselves. What is the dream, anyway? What kind of dream is it? Maybe if we tried to put it into words, took a closer look, we’d be shocked and embarrassed by how shallow and self-centered it really is.

Nothing more than a giant distraction. Maybe even a myth. Meanwhile, people shopping for supper and getting their Covid shots are now dead.

A Familiar Playlist

I wish I could put the Trump nightmare out of mind, but things keep popping up. Every now and then, I’m reminded of something that happened, something Trump said or did, and it all comes rushing back. Those were dark days. He is indeed a narcissist, a needy, hateful, one-dimensional, power-hungry windbag who keeps showing up.

And Mitch McConnell hasn’t changed his tune since Barack Obama took office. His latest turn at being a dickhead has to do with the filibuster rule, and rumblings from Democrats of somehow modifying it.

McConnell calmly threatens a “scorched earth” Senate that would come to a grinding halt and more closely resemble a 100-car pileup than a legislative body capable of getting anything done. The rhetoric hasn’t cooled at all since the previous office holder was there. If anything, we’re all getting a clearer look at what a desperate, out-of-touch minority resorts to when they have little to offer and are just holding on for dear life.

No adjustments or soul-searching, no reassessments or reinvention. Just the not-so-golden oldies—obstruction at every turn, self-preservation, a deaf ear to inclusion, and Jim Crow voting restriction bills numbering in the hundreds across a scorched landscape.

The Republican Party has nothing, except that hideous desire to legislate morality and dictate which lives matter.

Deceit As Policy

Remember the CDC “recommendation” that came out against needing to get a covid test if you didn’t have symptoms yet thought you’d been exposed to someone who you knew had covid?

Surprise! It turns out this wasn’t actual CDC guidance. This was the Trump White House publishing bogus advice on CDC letterhead. This was a co-opted CDC. And it was happening for months under the leadership of Robert Redfield, who rarely spoke up, rarely dared question any of it.

It’s yet one more indication of how far down the wrong road we were traveling in the midst of a pandemic. The Trump administration had, in essence, commandeered the CDC and was publishing public health information that was based on nothing more than its desire to control the narrative, downplay and soft pedal the gravity of the situation.

We were all watching it happen before our eyes.

Yet many are still thinking, “Ya, gimme some more of that.”

An Exercise In Futility

We hear the voices of reason and experience imploring us not to spike the ball on the 5-yard line– an apt analogy and visual for describing the current familiar situation in which we find ourselves.

We’ve been here several times in the last year. We see the cases rising in Europe, which has been a bellwether for the U.S. throughout this whole long endurance test. But of course, practically on cue, Texas, Arizona, and others aren’t buying it. The caseloads are retreating, after all. Deaths are dropping, though now plateauing. So they’re lifting all restrictions- masks, distancing, the whole ball of wax.

Apparently nearly half of all men who identify as Republican– never mind everyone else among the foil hatters– say they aren’t going to get the vaccine. Dr. Fauci is imploring Trump to talk to his groupies and get them to change their minds. That should go well.

The madness never ends. There’s a boatload of “if onlys.” We’ll succeed in spite of ourselves, though not without more unnecessary suffering and loss.

Like It Or Not

Bill Maher had a good New Rules segment on Friday, about China and the U.S., and how the U.S is really a “silly people.” I couldn’t agree more. Especially lately.

Chinese culture has been evolving for, what, 40 or 50 centuries or longer? We’ve been intermittently a factor on the world stage arguably since the Industrial Revolution or maybe since the close of WW II.

And at the moment we’re a textbook example of democracy run amok, democracy mismanaged, or maybe democracy coming to the end of its run? Maybe human beings aren’t built for democracy, because enough people feel they have the right to be brash and ignorant, that every opinion matters and needs to be heard. We turn into a bunch of silly, pathetic drama queens and kings who shout at each other and somehow, on occasion, accomplish great things.

Chinese leadership somehow keeps its eye on the prize, in terms of remaining a player on the world stage. They are disciplined, intent on continuity, on keeping Chinese culture intact, to the point of oppression and heavy-handedness. But they have also learned to keep the people somewhat content and placated by expanding opportunities to enjoy economic prosperity, by floating as many boats as possible. My impression is that Chinese people are more serious, patient, and driven—more mature—than much of the U.S. population.

Sometimes it seems like Americans are too quick to rest on non-existent laurels, i.e. “we’re Americans, and no one tells us what to do or how to live our lives. We are, simply by virtue of being Americans, better than everyone else.” I hope that’s not true, but sometimes it seems like it is.

The harsh truth is that many Americans are just drifting. America isn’t as great as many think it is. There are vast socio-economic inequities that get in the way. There are centuries-old grudges and suspicions and hatred that continue to drag us down. There are wildly disparate views of what kind of country we should be—welcoming or walled? Melting pot America or fortress America with moats and alligators?

We’re a mess most of the time, and it seems as though many are ok with that. But this means we can’t get mad at China if they prefer to behave with a clearer sense of vision and purpose. I hope they and we can learn to coexist. If we can’t, America in its current iteration doesn’t stand much of a chance.