The Feds Are Limboing

I’ve been pretty hard on Trump, and his Trumpista enablers, on this blog.  Anyone who has read more than a handful of posts is pretty aware of where I stand on that particular issue: no party or movement that pins the love, protection and future of the United States on one very flawed man — a man who views that darned democracy-thing as a bug rather than a feature — should ever again be taken seriously.

That, however, does not let the other side off the hook.

Hooboy, does it not let them off the hook.

“Knocking on the door has never been against the law. You don’t have to answer, but we hope you do so we can help dispel some of those rumors that you’ve heard and hopefully get you vaccinated.”


What the ever-living fuck?!

That is one of the most chilling statements to come out of the mouth of a high-ranking US government official (Xavier Bacerra) in our nation’s history.

You don’t have to answer the door…to the federal goddamned government?  Yeah, right.  Just try not answering the door, and let’s see how that goes for you.  The no-knock warrant and avalanche of black-clad pseudo-commandos will be about five minutes behind your “voluntary refusal” to open the door to the Feds.*

*Hi, Libertarian Party!  Can you stop being a joke and start actually accomplishing…well…anything?  That’d be great right about now.  Thanks.

Look, there is no doubt that I took/take this pandemic seriously.  I have spent too much time and effort studying the Black Death, and its impact on medieval Europe, to do otherwise.  And I’m not talking so much about the death toll as about the massive social, cultural and economic upheaval that came as a result.  Pandemics — whether we’re talking about the bubonic plague, or Spanish Flu, or the insidious rise of PBR and other shit beers — always, always, always re-make the societies in which they occur.  The crises that come as a result of the disease have more power, and cause more change, than at any other possible time.  And, yes, it is a case of fate and the universe kicking a society when it is down…

While it is still too early to really define the impacts COVID will have on our own society, some shapes are starting to emerge from the shadows.  The worst of those shapes, so far, is the massive invasion of the government into any and all spheres of our lives.  In just 18 months or so, no area — not a single one! — has been left untouched by government control and dictate.

It is easy to ignore or overlook, by the way.  It is easy to think and say, “They had to do X to fight the spread.”  There is always good reason for the changes that come.  There is always a way to argue that the good of the nation “requires” it.  Sulla had very good reason to march his legions into the Forum, but that march still led directly and inevitably to Caesar’s Dictatorship, and thence to Augustus and the Empire…*

*Egads, do not get me started on the late Roman Republic.  No period in human history has had on stage at one time so many extraordinary individuals: Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Pompey, Cicero, Cato, Servilia, Augustus, Livia — and lesser known players like Livius Drusus, Aemilius Scaurus, the Sempronius Gracchus brothers, Pliny the Elder, Catullus, Sallust…  Good Lord, I said don’t get me started!  I could go on and on (and on and on and on…).

If the Federal knock on the door is acceptable and necessary now, will the same adjective’s apply when that all-encompassing knock is used again in five years, amidst totally different circumstances?

Yeah, the “slippery slope” argument is an inherently weak, arbitrary counter to new(ish) policies and practices, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

Trump was a buffoon and a fool before November, 2020.  He became a danger and a villain after the election purely because of his own choices and actions.

Becerra — and the Biden Administration in general — were a bit of welcome, bland, not-Trump after the insanity of January 6th.  Their own words and actions since, however…

I have frequently joked that I’m a cynic so that I can never be disappointed, but sometimes…sometimes those we choose to put in charge manage to limbo under even my incredibly low bar.


Maybe I’ll end up living back in the wilds of the Rockies after all…

{Musical Note — I love this song, but I have held back from using it on the blog. Until now. It just plain fits both sides.}

The 4th of July

That feeling when…

…when you walk into a pub and they don’t even bother to ask, they just put the correct beer in front of you before you’ve even put your butt in the seat.

…when the fireworks have been building for a week already, and you’ve got a place arranged for the “big show” on the 4th itself.

…when you read the news, and realize — again! — that Einstein was right about the definition of insanity.

…when you reflect on the intentional act of treason committed by those who made this day famous, and the executions that would have been their lot had things gone just a little differently.

…when you look and find that the US Capitol still hidden behind fences and razor wire, and wonder if those men 250ish years ago would have risked quite so much if they could see the future.


There’s an old concept in the business world: from shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves in three generations.  The “model” that lies under that saying is that Grandad has the energy, work-ethic and drive to start the new business; Dad has the smarts and ability to grow it into real wealth; Junior has…well, Junior’s privileged ass spends and mismanages it into freaking oblivion more often than not.

It’s been more than three generations, admittedly, but if you don’t think that “model” reflects the US at this point in time, you’re either willfully blind, or crazy enough to actually be one of the political extremes.

Our current crop of “leaders” is spending us into oblivion with no thought for tomorrow.  And trust me, I am not talking about money here.  Don’t get me wrong, the money side of things is well-and-truly fucked, but the real spending — and the real loss — is in unity, strength and trust.  We are, as a nation, becoming far too quickly that family that squabbles and fights and disintegrates over spending the inheritance we did nothing to earn.

It’s not a question of being the Prodigal Son, who returns after a period of youthful excess.  Nor is it a question of the father, who welcomes his son back from the metaphoric wilds.  No, it’s the fact that both of the political extremes in the US are the “other” brother, the one waiting with a gun in hand to welcome the Prodigal home with a bit of good ol’ American payback.

Far too many people have forgotten just what this little experiment in nation-building means.  For damn sure the extremes on both sides have forgotten.  Note, I quite intentionally prefer to say “forgotten” because the alternative is that they just don’t give a damn, and that does nothing but make everything worse…and when my overly-cynical-ass shies away from “worse”, you know it’s pretty fucking bad!

The thing about the US, and about July 4th, is not that we are perfect.  Nor are we a finished product.  Hell, we are anything but perfect and finished.  We have our warts and faults.  Our shit stinks, just like everyone else’s.  We snore and drink too much and get fat; we argue and fight and throw the dishes; we even shit the bed occasionally…

And that is okay.

The United States is a flawed, faulty creation.  It was created by brilliant, dedicated, brave men who — just like the rest of us — lied and cheated and had bad breath.  What makes the US different — what made it different then, and still makes it different now — is that it is an ideal that seeks to transcend itself, rather than a true nation-state that exists only to be itself.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re very much a nation.  We have all the strength and drive and unity of any modern nation (in the Westphalian sense — don’t ask, just Google the damned term).  But the US is, if you’ll pardon the national pride, better than that.  We are, when you get right down to it, a dream. A dream of a better place, and a better way of life.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Yeah, even after more than two hundred years, we still ain’t anywhere close to achieving that.

As a nation we are, at the heart of the matter, the richest and most powerful in human history…and the competition from second place ain’t even close.  We are all of that and more, yet we are also a nation that still fights the all-too-powerful demons of racism and disenfranchisement.  We still suffer the pangs of hunger and poverty.  We still play host to all manner of despair and hopelessness.  We still shit the bed from time to time.

But that’s not what we were founded on.

Look, the Trumpier extreme wants to paper over history with some bullshit morality-play that makes America a perfect, sacred entity that sprang fully formed from some divine brow.  Do you wanna know what “sacred entities” get you in political terms?  Cromwell’s England, and Robespierre’s France, and Trump’s America, that’s what.

Oh, but don’t you on the other side get all high-and-mighty.  The other extreme wants to paint any-and-all as maleficent and oppressive.  The other sides wants America not to be some divine spark, but the nefarious source of all evil in the world.  That is even stupider, to be honest — and when you’re stupider than Trump, you’ve dug yourself into a world-class fucking hole!

Look, I’m fat.  I know I should lose more weight, and I do try.  I really do.  I hike and work-out…but I also happen to love beer and bread and cheese like a young mother loves her first child.  I should be better than I am, but my efforts fall short.  That doesn’t make me bad, it just means I have to keep trying.  It just means that I have to aspire to improve myself, rather than revel in what successes I may have.

Well…America is fat.  Okay, so we’re fat physically, but that ain’t the point.  We’re fat and out of shape socially and culturally, too.  Although we were born that way, our parents taught us that we could — and should! — be more.  We just have to keep trying.  We just have to keep working at it.  We have to keep doing the hard work to cast off the sins of our youth and embrace a style of life, and a way of living, that is healthier for everyone.

No, we ain’t perfect, but none of those who risked the hideousness of being drawn-and-quartered* expected us to be.  No, what they wanted and expected to do was build a foundation for a nation that could — and would — grow and learn.  

*Fine, you really want to know?  Here is the full definition of the British punishment for treason: you are hung by the neck, “gently” so that your neck won’t break and kill you right away.  While you are slowly suffocating, but still very much conscious, your stomach is cut open and your intestines pulled out.  Your testicles are then cut off and burned, along with your spilling guts, while you helplessly watch and choke.  You are then left to hang until you finally suffocate and die.  When you do die, your body is lowered and cut into several pieces.  Those pieces are sent to places important to you as a person, and to the scene of your treason, in order to prove to folks that you truly are dead, and that the State will always exact its vengeance.  Sorry, but you did ask!

In that expectation, the Founders succeeded.  The US isn’t perfect, but the ideal behind it is.  If we can ever truly achieve that sentence that Jefferson wrote, we will have finally fulfilled their dreams and become a nation that can celebrate itself without hesitation or criticism.

Until then, however, those who question and criticize and find fault are just as necessary, and just as patriotic and loyal, as those who will find no fault or failure.  They are arguably even more so, because they want this nation that we all share, and all love, to be more than we currently are.

After all, what human drive is better, or more important, than the drive to improve?  Than the drive to be more?

I want to be smarter and more experienced.  I also want to lose thirty pounds.  I want to be more (and, well, less…but we’ll skip that physical bit).  My father taught me to never be satisfied.  He taught me to be always curious, to always to seek to learn and improve.  When I get lazy and start to slack off, is he wrong to be disappointed in me?  Is he wrong to criticize and tell me that I should be more? No. No, he is not wrong — I deserve that criticism.

Can I expect less from my nation?  Should I expect less from my nation?  I want to live in a place that is more.  I want to live in a place that knows perfection is always out of reach, but strives for it anyway.

{Musical Note — I read a piece this morning that talked about a specific song. Now, that piece tried to reinterpret this particular song as a paean of patriotic praise. The writer of the piece noted that Mellencamp had certain criticisms in mind when he wrote and recorded the tune, but chose to ignore or gloss over those criticisms in order to create a narrative of wholly unquestioning patriotism. Unquestioning patriotism is as un-american as anything I can imagine, by the way. If we don’t criticize, and strive to improve, we stagnate. An America stagnant and unchanging is Rome all over again…}

I Didn’t Mean To Rant

Remember when I talked about the new civil war I feel coming?

Yeah, my “by 2030” timeframe may actually have been optimistic.  Who would’ve thought I would be the optimistic one?!

It’s only 2020 and already we have folks arming up on both sides.  Folks walking around looking for someone to “own.”  Folks — from both extremes — deeply immersed in the view that their opponents are evil, malfeasant, and out to destroy the Constitution and US way of life.  Folks whose politics are firmly in the all-or-nothing vein.  You know the ones I’m talking about, the “If you can’t beat ‘em, kill ‘em”, “Give me Trump/Biden, or give me death” variety.


Please tell me that I’m not the only person who has looked at all this crap over the past month or so and thought, “We’re so fucked.”

The worst part is that you (well, I, to be precise) can’t even run away to a different part of the world to hide for a few months.  Good luck getting any nation to admit you when you’re from the country topping the charts for the Worst Virus Handling in the Entire Stinking Universe award…

0A641B52-A8C7-4321-903A-D93CAA94D76FOh, good lord do we suck.

Yes, our current government has taken corrupt incompetence to a new low, but let’s be honest here…four years ago, we pretty much got the government we “deserve.”  We’ve let the inmates run the asylum for far too long, and now the band is packing up to go while the piper gives us the bill for several decades of ignoring our own very real socio-political problems.

I didn’t sit down to write a rant, by the way.  I sat down to write a “list post”, of all things.

I was going to…but after the first few lines, I knew that was out the damned window.  Part of the problem, I should explain, is that Montana is something of a battleground state.  The Senate race here is neck-and-neck between the red and blue teams, and the ads are freaking everywhere.  You can’t watch TV or visit a website without some ad popping up with overly dramatic music and a serious-voiced announcer warning that the other guy is out to rape and eat your children.

C’mon, Italy, I don’t have COVID…let me in!!

803B7BCF-BA35-4AA7-B243-39973746A30AOr France…or Oz…or even freaking Canada, for pete’s sake!  I feel like Randle McMurphy trapped in the asylum; where the hell is Chief when you need him?!*

*One of the very, very few instances where the movie and book were equally great…

Hell, I started sailing again…maybe now is the time to try that circumnavigation!

C’mon, admit it, a few months alone in the middle of the ocean doesn’t sound too bad, does it?  Hell, even if I were to sink, how could spending a year or two facing starvation and disease marooned on a deserted island be any worse than the US right about now?!

The one prescription I will give you is this: don’t vote against.  We’ve been voting against various people and things for decades, and look where that got us…

Vote FOR something….for something, or someone, you can believe in.  Vote to make things better, not because you’re afraid the other side are violent psychopaths out to ruin all you hold dear.

And if there’s nothing in the current election that you can be for?  If there is nothing but hate and fear, darkness and threat?

If there is nothing to be for, maybe it’s time to create that.  A new party…a new nonprofit…hell, maybe just a new mug club at your local brewery…find something, and some folks, that you can be for, then build from there.

I am, by the way, struggling with this very thing.  I loathe in the strongest way the current US administration.  I would crawl over broken glass and piss on an electric fence to get them out.  But…


But now I’m talking about just voting against something.  I still have yet to find something (on the national level) to vote for.

Hmm…maybe Croatia will let me in…2783744E-2430-44A3-BAC6-2035151A9330

Random (not really) musical accompaniment:


If The Boat Don’t Sink

Is it just me, or has 2020 lasted a decade so far?

I mean, c’mon, this year has just plain sucked from pretty much every perspective, and it doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to end.  I know we have all the fun and games of the election to look forward to — and I think we all can guess how that is gonna go! — but the cynic in my soul (and my brain, my heart, even my freaking toenails) likes to sit there and wonder just how much worse things can get before November…

What was it they say?  Oh yeah: the best part about being a cynic is that you’re never disappointed.

We’ve had almost no rain around here this summer…now I’m waiting for a Yellowstone fire that will rival 1988.*95EBE35D-B242-4A8B-BB70-41CBFB304F6B

*Note — there are always fires in Yellowstone, but usually they are small.  1988 was different…in 1988 better than 30% of the park was on fire at the same time.  It was horrifying.

World tensions are doing nothing but getting worse…now I’m waiting for someone to kick off a freakin’ war that, of course, the US will just have to get involved in.

The economy is shit, and getting shittier…now I’m just waiting for the economic fear and despair to team up with the social tensions tearing at the nation and turn this thing into a full-fledged clusterfuck.

EFCE8900-59F3-4C53-955D-33A03E3F7ED3Crap, Bill Murray had it right in Ghostbusters: “Human sacrifice! Cats and dogs living together!  Mass hysteria!”

Or, in the words of Armageddon, things are gonna basically be “the worst parts of the Bible.”

Oh, and let’s not forget the fun of (potential) manmade disasters, either.  You just know, given how this year has gone, that some half-drunk aho is gonna run a 200,000 ton tanker onto the rocks somewhere.  The Rs will blame it on environmental rules and BLM, while the Ds will blame it on Wall Street and Thomas Jefferson.  Crap, I could write the headlines and talking points now and not be far off!

From time to time I’ll get into discussions with friends and acquaintances about writing.  Usually, those talks are about the mechanics of plotting, and how characters affect — and are affected by — said plot.  No one ever wants to talk about imagery, or metaphors, or language… *sigh*

Anyway, people will say, “it’s just not real.  That much bad stuff never happens in just a few months or a year!”


9A86E1A2-EBDE-4626-8D48-F685AFEDBFDBYour Honor, I would like to submit into evidence the year 2020.

Of course, a story that is unremittingly negative…

A story where nothing breaks the plot’s run of terrible events and bad luck…

A story where the characters simply suffer and suffer…

That story just sucks.

Kinda like 2020.

12857173-C9F7-4C56-9CBF-99CEDF0F2AC1Crap, I need this sailing trip more than I thought!  On that note, by the way, I will try and post at least a flashfiction piece while I’m up on the water, but we’ll have to see.  If I manage to stay true to this year and sink the damned boat, it might be a while…