Friday, January 15, 2021

 14 January

Evidently our governor has decreed that anyone over 70 years of age can sign up for a COVID vaccination. Mom and I both qualify but we are going to wait for a while--not because of any hesitancy over the safety or efficacy of the shots but because getting an appointment is worse than visiting the dentist. This post from a gardener somewhat south of us in our state described her difficulties getting appointments for her mother and herself. We live in a far more populous area of the state. We will get out vaccinations when our local Walgreens have them available and the rush is over.

So the Grifter-in-chief emits oral defecations which his rabid followers take as orders to take over the Capital and his middle son bleats about "cancel" culture when businesses which don't want to be seen as supporting insurrection bail on economic arrangements. The city of New York has ended arrangements supporting the Bedminster Golf Club and the family company's contract to run the ice rink. Deutchebank has cut ties along with a smaller New York bank. I hope their entire financial house of cards crashes and that is a soap opera I will gleefully watch.

It is, perhaps, to be expected but I can't get used to the sights of fully armed reservists and the new barriers in Washington. Just like the siege on the 6th it isn't surprising but it is shocking. I am not sure I like much the times it seems to signal.

15 January

Here we are half-past the first month of a new year that looks much like the old year. There are bright spots though--like reports of moving vans outside the White House packing up #45's belongings. They should have someone making sure the Grifter-in-Chief doesn't "accidentally on purpose" pack up something that belongs to the nation and not to him. I hope he achieves another first to go along with his second impeachment (in his first term and in his last year no less): the first impeachment conviction.

I found this early on this morning that pretty much sums up the current state of things: a whole hell of a lot of grift, amazing amount of self-interested cruelty, a bit of sardonic amusement (George Takei), and a bright example of reciprocated generosity (the Irish donation to the Hopi/Navajo nations in the midst of COVID devastation).

John Feffer has a good post on Foreign Policy In Focus that makes a point I had thought but in a much more undeveloped way for some time now: the mobs like the one that attached the Capital are "American as motherhood and apple pie." Throughout our history we have had a story that described what the country was and who we are, and what our relationship to each other is and to the world at large should be. The City on the Hill. Manifest Destiny. The harbinger and vanguard of democracy to the world. The consumerist Good Life. Right now we don't have a story that holds the allegiance of a majority of the people. Biden's majority in the 2020 election was 51.3% or 81+million votes. Number 45 won 48.7% or 71+million votes. What #45 and his followers argue is that large numbers of people, black or brown primarily, should not have voted. Those people shouldn't have any right to make as monumental decisions as who will be President. But there is a slightly larger group that doesn't believe that the election was rigged simply because Those people voted. Right now we have now we have no story that knits us together and are fighting to construct another one. I have no idea how that conflict will be resolved. Feffer gives some interesting possibilities.

I listened to Biden's speech last night as saw the breakdown of his $1+trillion COVID relief and economic stimulus plan. I didn't pay much attention since his saying it doesn't make it so unless the houses of our legislature vote it in. I have no faith that they will do so. I have no expectation that they won't. Right now the whole thing is in limbo.

Question: when is speech protected and when is it not? I think it was Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who said that we don't have a right to "falsely yell fire in a crowded fire." Yelling, falsely, that the election was rigged, stolen, etc., is the equivalent. The mob that invaded the Capital believed #45 yelling the political equivalent--that the election was stolen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

 January 12

We have sun today and a moderate (for mid January) temperature. We should have the same for the next couple of days but by the end of the week and over the weekend those temps should drop into the 20s. I finally decided to take out my winter coat. I avoid it because I don't like that coat but haven't found another I want to replace it. Part of the problem is that though I haven't actually gained any weight it has redistributed itself to my gut area and the coat is too tight there. Oh well I will tolerate it until I do find a new jacket.

Several pieces of good news entirely on the personal front since there is damned little positive on the national level. My brother came home over the weekend after several days in the hospital being treated for COVID. He said he got Remdesivir and dexamethasone early on and hopefully will be fine going forward.

I finished another embroidery piece and have already chosen the next--a small round doily that will join the two that are already in progress. I also got two of the three new spindles I ordered a week or so ago: a Navajo support spindle and a Turkish drop spindle. I got the first out of curiosity because I thought it might be useful in spinning strips of cloth or plastic bags into useable "yarn." I gave it a bit of a try and it seems to work nicely. I got the mini Turkish so I could try to spin a finer yarn that I could with my old spindle. That one seems to be working nicely also but it will be a while longer before I feel good enough to display any of my spinning. By the end of the month I should get the takli spindle that is on back order.

I am so looking forward to the 20th when #45 will retire to where ever. I hope the media won't feel the need to cover any of his oral defecations again but he is the kind of publicity hound that will get far more attention than he deserves. And so many of the problems we face are still with us and will be after he is gone. I don't blame him for them but the incompetent response of his administration has worsened them. We have several COVID vaccines available but the roll-out has been less than efficient. It will be months before a significant part of our population is vaccinated. The  economic situation is  dire for a large number and not likely to get any better soon. Number 45 has another dubious distinction in that our economy has actually ended his reign with fewer people working that when it started--for the first time since Herbert Hoover.

We are still learning how to live with COVID both collectively and individually. So many of our social/economic arrangements have been turned upside down and everything is in flux. This article covers only one aspect of the situation--education. I have wondered more and more often (like every time we lose internet and/or cable) if we aren't too dependent on fragile technology.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

 January 10

The political situation is still roiling co it seems to fit compounded with the short time frame. Only ten days left before the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris but the last few days show how much can happen in a short time. 

David Kaiser posted this piece with some interesting comments comparing #45 to Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. I had never heard of the term "dry drunk". The colloquial term refers to recovering alcoholics who, though sober, exhibit the behaviors of active alcoholics. Number 45, they say doesn't drink but he does seem to be addicted to the adulation of his followers, fans, sycophants etc. Now that seems to be waning and he is cut off from his Twitter and other media he used to connect with his mob he is going through withdrawal.

A thought that has been circulating in my mind every time Pres.-Elect Biden talks about healing continues the thread from Kaiser's post. All of the addiction programs note that before addicts can begin to overcome their problem they have to acknowledge the problem and, in most cases, that means hitting rock bottom physically, emotionally, socially, economically. Before this country can heal we have to recognize that we have something to heal from. I don't think that recognition exists.

Some commentator last night mentioned that failed coups often resulted a couple of years after in a successful coup. Hitler led his Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison of which he served one year, and then rebuilt his party which by 1933 was the majority in the Reichstag. One year later he became Chancellor. Interestingly, the commentator noted that the pattern of failed coup followed by a successful coup has been common in that bastion of s--hole countries: Africa. Are we on the verge of becoming an s--hole country? Are already there?

I had to take out the work I had done on that crochet table cloth I have been working on for the last several days. Infuriating. I found at a point that somewhere I had made a mistake and the count simply wouldn't work and I couldn't find a point where I could get on track. This is only the second piece I had to take out the whole thing and start over--which I will do in the near future after the frustration has worn off. I made better progress on my embroidery and only have a small corner on the table scarf to finish off the whole thing.

Friday, January 8, 2021

 January 8

Only a week into this year and it is still feeling like last year only worse. One of the commentators this morning cited a meme they found which said the author wanted to return 2021 having had enough with the "one-week free trial." I don't think we can simply pass over to 2022 and, even if we could, that is an off-year election season. I found this Axios piece this morning that says so many things that need to be said. I have listened to a lot of arguments about both the 25th Amendment (probably a non starter because it depends on Mike Pence to grow more of a backbone than he has ever had before) and a new impeachment trial (given only twelve days before the new administration takes office). I would like to see a successful impeachment (as in a conviction which is where the last one failed) only because a conviction would bar him from holding office again. As an alternative I would like to see an indictment and conviction on fomenting insurrection which would put him in prison for the rest of his hopefully short life. Excising him from our political body is essential and with him his whole grifting family.

I heard some of these stats yesterday. I wonder where all the so-called Republicans will go if #45 is totally out of the picture as a future candidate. I wonder where the country will go since half of the population seems to still support this odious excuse for a human being. Peter Turchin, as he has before often, discusses the mob assault on the Capital in terms of much longer trends that aren't exactly favorable to a peaceful and stable resolution in the near future. 

I haven't said anything about the victories of Rev. Warnock and Jon. Ossoff but I am glad they, however narrowly, retired two of the most odious senators among a stable of odious characters. I just noticed that the victories were both narrow (only about 1% between the pairs of contestants.) I also notice that the the Georgia races gave rise to a 50-50 divide with a Democrat Vice President giving the majority to the Democrats. And the House Democrats have a narrower majority than they had before the election. To get anything done the Democrats are going to have to have Republican help. I am pessimistic given the last 10 years.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

 January 7

The Barbarians aren't at the gates; they are inside the castle.

I have been, as I am sure many others have been, glued to the accounts of the insurrection by the MAGA crowd incited by #45 himself. I have several thoughts on the situation.

1. I was shocked but not at all surprised. The A$$hole in the White House has been roiling the political environment since h"e came down his escalator to announce his candidacy and he has been inciting, advocating, almost demanding violence for just as long: telling supporters he would pay for their legal fees if they assaulted a person at a rally who didn't support him, telling law enforcement to not be "too gentle" with protesters, excusing violent Neo-Nazis as "very fine people."

2. Listening to the discussion of possible sanctions against #45 from impeachment (either new charges or revisiting the charges from last year) to an Article 25 action to remove him I think it doesn't go far enough. The Muller Report cited Justice Department policy which shields sitting presidents from indictment. That needs to be changed by Congressional action. There is no reason that policy should be in force. If some sources I read are correct that came into effect during the Nixon crisis because both the President and the Vice-President were under legal threat and the issue was one of continuity of government. Now we have a chain of succession that has more depth to it. At least four people on that chain were in the Capital during the assault. Indicting a sitting President for serious crime would not endanger the continuity of government.

3. Like a good many others I am amazed at the different handling of the insurrectionist mob yesterday and the demonstrations over racial justice during the summer. They only explanation I can think of is the the Capital Police saw white faces and couldn't see the threat. That is exactly the problem for police in various parts of the country: black face equals danger, white face equals a good people.

4. I have voted in almost every election for the last 50 years. I couldn't vote until I was 21. We later lowered that age to 18. The candidates and issues I voted for lost more often than they won but I never considered that the rejection of my perfectly reasonable candidate or issue was prima facie evidence of fraud, chicanery, or theft. But we now have a candidate and a sizable minority of voters who think just that. They have no hard evidence that there was no fraud and insist that we do the impossible and prove the absence of fraud. Logically one can't prove a negative. Worse they insist that the lack of evidence is actually proof that there really was fraud.

5. For the last 30 years I have been repeatedly amazed by the growing inability of different factions to accept the results of elections they lose. A democracy only works when each side agrees that they have to persuade voters to agree and when each side accepts loss when they lose. That isn't going to change once #45 is out of office and I expect the sides will harden and grow more bitter.

6. When the pundits kept saying that yesterday's assault on the Capital was unprecedented and the only parallel they could think of was the British sacking of DC in 1814. I thought of another incident in the 1950s. There are big differences: only four assailants instead of an army or a mob of 20-40K but fine members of the legislature were wounded (3 severely). Four Puerto Rican activists (for want of a better word) entered the Capital and the guards, after ascertaining that none had cameras, allowed them into the gallery. They didn't have cameras but they did have guns.

I have a lot of other thoughts but they need a bit of thinking. I simply don't know this country any more.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

 January 5

After a brief appearance of the sun our weather has turned dreary again. Not quite typical January since the temperatures are a bit warmer than normal. Sort of resembles the political and medical situations. Just as the pandemic response prior to the vaccine roll-out was f--ked up the vaccine distribution has also been f--ked up. The houses of our national legislature are supposed to meet in joint session to receive and announce the results of the electoral college vote (and election of Joe Biden) but a large number of representatives and a baker's dozen of senators plan to slow up the process by challenging the electors' votes from which ever states they feel didn't do right (by which you should read "elected Biden"). Most are signaling to #45 their allegiance to him rather than to their states or to the Constitution. I am sure each one took their oath of office with fingers crossed. Our news is fixated on those two stories--the politics and the vaccination. There was a brief mention that the UK has entered a strict lockdown because of the rise in  the incidence of that new variant of COVID.

I finally put in my first seed order to Burpee. I plan to put in two varieties of squash (an acorn and a spaghetti squash), a new dwarf cucumber and a couple of other items. I haven't looked seriously at what is at Baker Creek yet. I tried to put in an order for indigo and woad at the Woolery but they were out of stock. I will put in a tomato (maybe two) and a pepper (maybe two). I haven't yet decided which herbs I will put in. I also want to rearrange things on the patio which I hope will give more room.

Well, COVID is coming closer to us. My brother (only 2 years younger) will be released from the hospital with the virus. Hopefully he won't have any more severe symptoms. His daughter just called to tell us and suggest we not visit either him or her brother and nephews. Evidently they are not very mask conscious--people coming in and out frequently and none wearing masks. We haven't seen him since just before Christmas and haven't had any symptoms ourselves so we aren't worried. Just watchful.

Tom Engelhardt posted a piece today that was both hopeful and depressing. The hopeful aspect is that #45 and his grifting family and sycophants will be gone from the White House. Yipee!!!! The depressing part you ask? The SOB really won't be gone and all of the sycophantic a$$holes in our legislature are still going to be there to sabotage Biden no matter who that hurts. Damn!!!! Worse the discontents that fueled his rise are still here. The economy works for fewer and fewer of us. The "American Dream" is becoming more and more of a nightmare for those who try to reach for it. Debt is rising faster than the COVID statistics and, as various economic writers I read regularly say, debts that can't be paid back won't be. We are in for an even rougher patch than 2020.

Monday, January 4, 2021

 January 4

We finally have some sun and it looks nice on the parts of the snow still present. The last weekend provided rain, ice, snow and wind. The weather was compounded by repeated internet/cable outages of varying lengths. That was really frustration as that comes only a week after an extended outage over three days. Although I know the calendar has turned and I did feel a fragile sense of hope that things would finally settle down, I don't really think things will really get better soon. I just hope it doesn't get worse--or too much worse. 

We started out today thinking it would be an easy day with only Mom's appointment for bloodwork in preparation for her doctor's appointment next week. However, the car wouldn't start. That threw our expected schedule off. First we had a half hour delay to get road service to give us a jump and then a quick trip to our favorite auto repair/service outlet for a new battery. We have had this car for about a decade and had yet to replace the battery. Then we found the local Walgreens no longer carries one of our vitamin supplements so we decided to check the other outlet that normally carried it and do our major shopping at the nearby supermarket while at it (they are both in the same area). Well, they second outlet also no longer carried what wanted so Mom is now looking on-line.