Almost 2022

From a Google Image Search – Mashable

So here we are at the end of another year – a pandemic year spent on the coronavirus roller coaster, and the economic Ferris wheel, and the political bumper cars. It was a year that should have found the US set free of Trump since he lost the pet rooster contest, the cow, sheep, and pig competitions. The man has no shame, though. Before the entire world he tried to steal an election from the legitimate winner, Joe Biden, and install himself in the Oval Office as our first outlaw President.

What would the world have done? Here is a twisted leader who purposely mislead Americans into worshipping and committing violence on behalf of a shambolic loser so enamored of his own pseudo-genius that he is willing to destroy a nation that has lasted for 240+ years. Would foreign leaders have accepted him, would they have sanctioned him, would he start a brotherhood of dictators who hugged and slapped each other on the backs at the annual anti-NATO meetings? What would America look like after four more years of Trump. We already fell on lists that rate nations around the world. Where would we have tumbled to if the January 6 th insurrection succeeded in destroying faith in American elections and turned us into a nation that used to be a democracy.

So, the pandemic happened, and millions of Americans died, and that Trump stuff happened, and instead of planning what his library would look like, Trump kept collecting campaign donations and holding rallies, even as his low-life band of warriors (they defecated in the halls of Congress) were captured, arrested, and facing prison time. When Trump commits crimes, he makes sure that he is never the one who gets punished.

Democrats won the Presidency and the majorities in Congress, but the President’s margins in Congress were wafer-thin. Democrats had already lost the Supreme Court and many Federal district courts. Merrick Garland proved that he was not the President’s puppet, or even beholden to the American people. America’s Democrats are not best pleased by the Attorney General who they see as practically comatose.

Not only did Biden and the Dem majority have to legislate despite Republican obstruction, but Biden and the Democrats have had to deal with two DINOs. The Republicans, Conservatives without a party home right now, and our DINOs all believe that when government subsidizes American citizens, even when they’re excluded from expensive services by economic imbalance, that America’s rugged individualism or ability to innovate or some nonsense will be destroyed, because “necessity is the mother of invention,” because they listened to too much Frank Zappa or they read too much Ayn Rand. They argue that it will destroy both the people it is supposed to help and the American economy. Once people get something for free, the government will have to provide that service forever and the people will become lazy, uneducated, unfit parasites waiting for their next handout. Helping workers is a waste, only helping corporations, businesses, keeps the economy afloat. Republicans tell their base that the government will put them in a data base and know every move they make which will eventually lead to controlling every move they make. This assures that their base will vote against their own self-interests. 

These people, Republicans and Conservatives, have persisted in these beliefs ever since LBJ’s War on Poverty, actually, probably since FDR’s work’s progress programs (an opinion passed down in Republican families). These programs always accomplished the things they set out to do even though conservatives insisted they be made as stigmatizing as possible. They may not have lifted everyone up, but they changed the lives of many people. So, Republicans demonize any programs that benefit workers, ordinary citizens, by calling them Socialism, which is hardly the bugaboo it used to be, and which is not even the correct descriptor to use.

This year we did pass an Infrastructure Bill at last. It was cut until it was deliberately too small, but it’s a start. Voting Rights and the Build Back Better Bill are unlikely to get done in 2021 (as of today the BBB bill is unlikely to get done at all since Manchin finally gave a definitive answer saying he cannot support the bill even though it was rewritten to please him) and in a midterm election year with two sworn enemies in the Party, they will most likely get short shrift in 2022 unless someone (Joe Manchin or Krysten Sinema or perhaps a few Republicans) need help with reelection.

We left Afghanistan in 2021. It wasn’t pretty and many Americans felt that we left the people who helped us in the lurch (which we did), but the troops we trained left America in the lurch also. We are left watching the people of Afghanistan starve, watching women and girls lose their rights once again. We are left feeling guilty and sad, and glad that our young men and women in the military are safely home. If we give aid to Afghanistan, we will be propping up a government that fought to reassert control and obviously believed it would be able to make Afghanistan prosperous. Except it also looks like the Taliban believed the foreign aid would continue. If we give aid and allow the Taliban to put on a prosperous front, we fear we will encourage other terrorist groups to have similar ambitions and expectations. This was a win-lose, and it is unfinished business.

This year, 2021, proved more than ever that climate is changing so fast that it is difficult for the climate deniers to be heard. The fierce fires on the west coast (and in Australia), the hurricanes that keep hitting near cities on the Gulf of Mexico, the strongest ever tornadoes, the hot spots around the globe, flooding in Europe, the disaster of a fallen Miami high rise full of people (possibly aided by salt water that now frequently floods Miami streets). The bird census that came up three billion birds short may be an anomaly, but it may be a harbinger of species extinction. The permafrost is melting, releasing goo gobs of CO2. Cutting and burning peat turns out to be a big carbon contributor also. COP26 had the nations of the world meeting to hash out an agreement on what will be done to address climate change, but the steps are more easily stated on paper than carried out at home. We are not comforted.

At least our billionaires have been entertaining this year, going off to space and taking paying customers. They are only dipping into space, but everyone loves space stories, and it’s hard to top a space vehicle shaped like a giant penis. We mined an asteroid this year and got back some info about water on Mars and a new telescope is headed to space soon, a telescope so powerful it can see back to the beginning of the universe (the Big Bang). A few billionaires have decided to help with developing methodologies to combat climate change. Bill Gates wrote a useful book about how to get to “zero” and set up a Breakthrough think tank and action group. 

Women’s rights took a hit in the Supreme Court and next year we may see the demise of Roe v Wade or a law that allows individual states to decide on their own abortion laws. This is the denouement of a bitter fight over decades and most of us believe that this will be something like Prohibition. The right to an abortion may be taken away, but women will still abort babies they can’t care for, and Roe v Wade will eventually have to become codified as a national law (much like reinstating the legality of alcohol consumption after Prohibition). Sometimes America does stupid stuff. It’s the human condition.

After a quick taste of life with vaccines and without masks we end the year back on the pandemic roller coaster with a mutation named Omicron. 

Despite all our ups and downs, this year seemed peaceful and somewhat normal without “you know who” in charge. Happy New Year everyone. Even though years are a human time construct, whenever we celebrate a new year it feels like we get another chance to do better.

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