Wait, Didn’t I Once Promise to Ignore Politics?

So I’m sitting here, having coffee while I wait for a friend…

“Hey, I’m early, let’s kill some time with the news!”

Of all the good ideas I’ve had, that one is right up there with “…of course I’ll take you to an occupied bear den!  The cubs are super-cute when they’re at home…”


link_CRUqKZKKFRGAlAFTlfPdN5TEw3cvwdL4,w1200h627Anyway…the news…

I think I prefer the angry momma grizzly, thank you very much.

A few random thoughts and notes based on what I read, then, in no particular order:

  1. “Editing” the Constitution — *sigh* look, I know the language in there can be a problem.  I know the concepts and compromises from 200+ years ago can bring pain and outrage now, but “editing” our past isn’t going to solve anything.  It would be much better to use the language and concepts and compromises as the basis for teaching.  For teaching how things have changed…and how they haven’t.  Both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are more aspirational than concrete, anyway, so they make wonderful tools for teaching middle and high school kids about reality — both the reality of now, and the reality of two hundred+ years ago.
  2. Whites Need to Speak Up…or Shut Up (which one kinda depends on who you are reading) — One of the things I’m not going to do is try to divine peoples’ emotions and motivations, and to advocate who should or should not be able to speak.  Skin color does not change the validity or honesty of what a person has to say, and that is flat out the only way to look at it.  To argue otherwise is to simply flip the script of racism, which leads to nothing but the tit-for-tat bullshit we are starting to see every day.  That being said, I’ve chosen to keep my own mouth shut and listen.  I listen because I don’t know.  Oh, I know the history and sociology and intellectual side of race and the US…but I don’t know.  I’ve never been pulled over because of what I look like.  I’ve never been followed by store employees because of my skin or hair.  I’ve never felt the sting of violence and hate and fear because I was other.  I’ve kept my mouth shut because I don’t think I can add to the discussion at this point.  Instead, I would rather let the eloquence of others speak with the power and authority of experience and authenticity.  But that is my choice, valid for me alone.  It in no way means that “no white person should ever discuss race” as I’ve read some suggest.
  3. Apathy vs Delusion — this election promises to keep poli-sci programs, not to mention generations of “political strategists,” busy with examples and lessons for generations to come.  Leave aside the names involved, and all of the emotion and judgments contained therein, and just look at the dynamics of the race itself: you have one candidate, running on a broad range of supporters that numerically should be able to dominate the opponent.  That range, however, has very little enthusiasm or energy.  They support, but they don’t do so with any real intent or drive.  On the other side, you have a candidate with a small base of supporters who in no way represent the nation at large, but have all the energy and dedication in the world.  They will believe anything — do anything — their candidate says, and they will do so in the most aggressive and offensive ways.  So, politically, which wins?  4 years ago it was passion and rage, running against a shrugging nonchalance, but will that hold true today?  If I weren’t living in the midst of this, it would make for an interesting modern lesson on the historical examples and dynamics I have studied for so long.  If I weren’t living it.
  4. The Company You Keep — As a child I was taught that your character is defined by what you do, and by the company you keep.  Now, that outlook has been put to the test more than a few times in some of the, uhh, “shenanigans” that have made up my life, but it is something I long ago took to heart and have tried to live by.  Enter Donald Trump.  If he is defined by what he does, and by the company he keeps… *sigh*.  Sorry, folks, but I’m lost with this one.  Since I don’t want to get into a 5,000 word diatribe — one that George Will did much, much better here — I’m going to focus on just one thing: Trump’s choice to keep company with traitors.  He has chosen to laud and irretrievably pin himself to the “heroes” of the Confederacy in the Civil War.  That is the company he has chosen to keep: those who chose to pick up a weapon and fight for slavery.  Sorry Donny, but that there is ‘nuff said…you are thoroughly defined.
  5. Recrudescence — yep, COVID is coming back, and it’s coming back hard.  Nope, conspiracy theorists and denialists, this is NOT just “another flu.”  Nor is it “fake news” made up just so the left can go after Trump and the hard right fringe that is today’s GOP.  Coronavirus and COVID-19 are very much real, and still very much a threat.  If you are getting your news on COVID solely from Fox News, Powerline, OANN and Townhall…well, I can’t help you.  You may have chosen to put yourself in an echo chamber — as is most definitely your right and privilege — but please do the rest of us a favor and stop assuming those echoes mean a damned thing to anyone else.

Okay, so this bit isn’t really a part of the “list,” it is just…

It is just a thought, and a (sorta) plea: people change.

Yes, this post went a little “rant-y,” but I couldn’t stop myself.  I have friends and family who still expect me to be the good conservative Republican I once was.  Sorry, folks, but I ain’t that person anymore.  I’ve changed.  I’d like to think for the better, but there is no question that I very much have changed.  One of the biggest of those changes is that I have no more patience for the willful ignorance and demented worldview that characterize both extremes.

Quite simply, I want nothing to do with either.

Live and let live, that’s it.  That’s what matters to me.  That’s also how I judge any and all politicians and others who claim to “lead.”

Every day I become more libertarian.  Every day I become more convinced that this overwhelming drive both sides have to dominate and rule the lives of everyday folks is what is driving us to a second civil war.  I wish I could say we could stop this slide, but I’m pretty sure we passed the tipping point years ago…if not decades ago.

But, hey, when that war comes, well…

No one does memory, and monuments, better than the Central Europeans — a reminder of the costs:


Palpatine Always Wins

Remember when I talked — just a post or so ago, to remind you — about having an adult conversation about this virus and all of its fallout?  When I talked about those in positions of power and influence offering *gasp!* honest information and assessments?

Ahh, the naivety of youth…

The folks who worked with and for me asked, when all of this shit started to fall apart, if the furloughs really were temporary, or if “furlough” was Latin for “fired”.

At the time, I laughed and reassured them.

At the time, I even believed that reassurance.


Now,…not so much.

Just how many of the “temporarily furloughed” will be rehired when all the COVID fun and games are finished?  Hope and optimism tell me that number is in the 90%+ range…but hope and optimism are abusive lovers who have beat the shit out of me in the past, so why believe them now?

Companies get a bad reputation from mass firings — err, “course corrections” — so many avoid them like the plague…


Well, there goes that argument.

When you’re IN the freaking plague, what is there to avoid?

It’s a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for the executive set, that’s what it is.  They get to fire…  Sorry, they get to furlough until their hearts are content, but then they can Palp_trustmepoint to viruses and conspiracies and democrats and republicans to pass on every iota of blame…

Ahh, it’s good to be a heartless asshole when the world is falling apart.

A few weeks ago, I thought jobs were safe.  Today, I thinks it’s a flip of the coin.  And tomorrow?  Tomorrow, I think you’re gonna have to roll the hard seven to have a job.

F76F7DCC-4694-4719-9406-9FE8BDC33FE1But, hey, at least we have the election to look forward to…

Shit, where did I put that bottle of scotch?

I Ain’t Gonna Lie…

It feels good.

It feels damned good.

C1EB3D0B-4C1C-4DE8-8058-CFB7B40B1B34Look, for whatever reason, ever since the day after everything shut down, I’ve been jonesing for a burger and a beer sitting out on the deck of my local dive.  Yeah, I know, beer isn’t exactly hard to come by, and I can cook my own burger.  It might make sense to do it that way — hell, it’ll probably even taste better to do it that way — but that doesn’t even come close to scratching this particular itch.

Crap, do I really have to remind you about the fact that I only really write when I’m sitting out at coffee places and taprooms/bars?  I’m not talking about tossing out a few hundred words here and there of marginal quality and little relevance.  No, I’m talking about a few thousand words of meaning and effort.  I’m talking about writing, dammit.

So, here I sit, reading stories before I start writing — stories off of even pro-Trump, ultra-conservative sites, mind you, to go with the neutral and liberal ones I also read — about 3,000+ deaths a day expected by June.  About the growing possibility of a “second wave” of coronavirus.  About the fact that those woods we’re walking through?  Yeah, they ain’t really any thinner yet.

Do I feel guilty?  Do I feel like I should be sitting, still, inside and isolated while I contemplate what to cook for dinner?


No.  No, I don’t

Look, I fully realize that eating a greasy, fatty burger and fries sitting on a public deck is killing me.  In more ways than one it is killing me.  But…well…it’s worth it, for the high.  Yeah, yeah…I just compared my afternoon to a drug.  Because, well, it is…at least to me.

001F8B7C-C3E1-4F34-9EC2-698204B2768ALook, I’ve spent my time with various potions, powders and pills.  I (probably) spend too much time with beer and coffee.  But my real drug of choice?  Yeah, today is it.  Grease and fat and beer sitting — socially distant, of course — in the sunshine while I write and contemplate the world.

So, this afternoon, I mainlined an oversized dose…and the high is everything I dreamed it would be.  I know there’s going to be consequences, but those are for tomorrow.  For now?  For right now, I’m gonna shove another french fry down my gullet, have another drink of beer, and revel in my personal version of escape.

Hey, Look, I Can Do Optimism! I’m A Big Boy Now!

So, my father may very well be the most optimistic human I’ve ever encountered.  The man makes Little Orphan Annie look like freakin’ Mussolini, for Pete’s sake!

He also gets on me from time to time to remember that life ain’t actually all that bad…

Okay, Dad, I figured I would give that a shot today…

Actually, I already did.  I had a conversation earlier with a friend about COVID and politics and economics and all that other bullshi…erm, stuff.  Now, usually, a conversation like that would be enough to elicit from me more than a handful of four-letter words.

Crap, normally it would be easier to count the non-swearwords I used rather than have to break out the scientific notation to keep track of the rest…*

*”Hmm…let’s see…the phrase ‘fuckin’ ass-wagons’ is currently at four point two times ten to the nineteenth occurrences…”

The funny thing about that conversation is that I found that silver lining.  Err…well…at least I found my particular silver lining.

With the park closed…

With all the cars gone…

With all the people gone…

Holy crap is it a whole new place!  Now, I’m not technically allowed to go inside Yellowstone anymore than is anyone else, but…well…I know a few (hundred) backcountry trails that no one is gonna monitor, no matter how firm the closure.  See, Mom & Dad, the last 3 years haven’t been wasted after all: there’s something to be said for knowing the Park better than most of the Rangers!

Even just at the edges — which is all I can get to right now, until things open up — Yellowstone is a different place right now.  It is, in fact, a better place.  A much better place.

We tend to forget just how much of an impact we humans have on everything around us, even when we’re just trying to “appreciate” it.  But now?  Now, when no one can (technically) go anywhere?

Not only is the pollution visibly better…

Not only are the plants and trees thriving in ways they haven’t in several decades…

Not only is the park recovering as a whole from overuse and abuse, but the wildlife — my particular “drug” of choice, mind you — are rediscovering just what it means to be truly wild…

A mother grizzly and her cubs without a crowd of gawkers and photographers shadowing their every move?

A bison herd without random, drunk knuckleheads trying to “ride the big ponies”?

A wolf pack without the truly thoughtless trying to “pet” the “cute l’il puppies”?

The wildlife are running riot right now.  I saw more tracks and sign of various animals on my last hike than I have in a long time.  Okay, so I happen to know where to go and how to look, but it’s still a piece of wonder and joy to find them so easily…

Wolves and bears, yes…but also foxes and coyotes…more elk, deer and bison than you can shake a thousand sticks at…an otter family (the cutest, “funnest” things in this entire universe, mind you)…even a couple of freaking badgers!  All within ten miles of the park boundary…

Outside the boundary, of course.

Of course!

I would never, ever cross over without permission.  I would never, ever slip behind a ridgeline and cruise up a stream to a wolf hunting ground I know.  Nope, not me — I’m a good boy!

But back to that optimism thing…

GGIA-SilverLiningsThat is the optimistic side of COVID for me.  That is the silver lining to this particular thundercloud.  By getting away from our cars and our outings and our vacations, we have finally given the planet a chance to do some healing.

I would love to be optimistic enough to think we were smart enough to add two to two and come up with the same answer a few more times, but I know us as a species far too well.  The only reason we gave the planet this respite was because a virus held a gun to our heads.  That gun, sadly, still won’t be anything near enough to deal with climate change, pollution, overuse or any of the other evils we have visited on our poor world…

And, of course, there’s only one possible song for a post about optimism!