Monday, October 26, 2020

2020: On Pandemics, Genocide, and the Election

How does one even begin a blogpost during the cursed year of 2020 after a four month absence in which we are still in the midst of a pandemic and are mere days away from a presidential election wherein the incumbent has simply, genocidally given up on that pandemic? 

Do people even blog anymore? How does a person even dip the ol' toe back into it when so much has occurred between June 2020 and now?

Let me start how I've been trying to stay centered during everything:

  • Reading - I've been reading about one book per week, almost entirely in the genres of science fiction, memoir, and fiction (no non-fiction or political tomes for me, right now). I log my books on Goodreads, mostly so I have a record of what I've read from year to year, and because I log a lot of notes and quotes from almost everything I read, on my e-reading device.
  • Exercise - I make time every day for 40-60 minutes of exercise, usually at home (via some sort of online instruction) plus at least one walk per day. I wear a mask on my daily walks, even though it's outside and less risky, primarily because I want to be part of a culture that normalizes mask-wearing during a pandemic.
  • Pop Culture - I have watched a few TV series that unexpectedly had same-sex relationships in them as major plot points, including Ratched, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Away, and I'm just going to be upfront about it, shows that include LBT women are about 200% more watchable and interesting to me than shows that only feature cishets. Sorry not sorry.
  • Cooking -  The vast majority of our meals have been homemade, although from time to time we do get take-out/delivery. I have always enjoyed cooking, and I find it satisfying to know how to provide basic sustenance for myself and others. Favorites: homemade biscuits, pizza, chili, veggie/tofu stir fry, Shepard's pie.
  • Political Engagement - A certain segment of extremely online folks think that political activism means "people dunking on people on Twitter" or whatever, but there is a lot, actually, that can be done with and targeting people not in the insular worlds of political Twitter, including contacting voters, helping people register to vote, donating to candidates, and more.

Like many, Joe Biden was not my first choice as a the Democratic nominee, but he ended up being the nominee and is now standing between us and the COVID pandemic - among other things - getting much, much worse. As such, I think every registered voter has a moral obligation to support the Biden/Harris ticket, if only as a matter of harm reduction.

In 2004, after watching in stunned depression as the hated George W. Bush won re-election, I take nothing - no poll, no prediction, no level of assume hatred - for granted in 2020. For, 16 years later, we are working against a Republican party that has only grown more brazenly empowered to cheat and win by any means possible by the vile, hypocritical Mitch McConnell who is ramming through an arch-conservative SCOTUS pick who will possibly serve on the nation's highest court for decades to come, even as he blocked President Obama's "election year" replacement pick for almost all of 2016.

But to take a step back and look more broadly, I think that the COVID pandemic, and more specifically Trump and the Republican Party's genocidal mismanagement of it, should be the defining issue of the 2020 election. 

We now know that a national mask mandate in April would have saved roughly 40% of the lives lost to COVID, but Trump and Republicans have largely ridiculed masks and treated the issue as one of "personal choice" rather than as a public health necessity for the common good. Further, Trump largely won the public "debate," such as it was, to reopen businesses before COVID in the US was anywhere near under control and the US, for many months now, has had the highest COVID death toll in the entire world.

At almost 225,000 dead as of today, we see hundreds of COVID-related deaths per day and it barely makes a ripple anymore in the news.

We, as a nation, should be mourning and grieving, and our political leaders should - at the very least - be acknowledging that.

And, while I believe probably most people in the US have become accustomed to a baseline level of cruel, sociopathic abnormality over the past four years, I don't know what to make of the reality that so many people have apparently become inured to this genocide and death toll other than, perhaps, it is overwhelming for most people to think about, some people are in idiotic denial, and/or our checks and balances in the US - both formal and informal - have profoundly failed.

No institution in the US should be treating what is happening as normal. Not newscasters, not debate moderators, not comedians, not Saturday Night Live and their both-sides fucking bullshit, not schools, not professional sports, not your workplaces and their "HOW was your weekend?" gaslighting questions, not too-cool-to-care personalities and entertained-by-it-all asshat pundits on Twitter, and certainly - certainly - not any person nominated to the US Supreme Court under the circumstances of national emergency while a presidential election is ongoing.

I don't know what to say, really. The events of the my political life as an adult, over the past 20 years, have impressed upon me that while we must not ever give up doing, saying, and fighting for what we believe is right, it's also unfair to pass the buck to the next generation by simply saying, "the young people will save us." 

Not only are there a lot of young misogynists and racists and homophobes, I'm deeply uncomfortable with, for instance, the way that so many adults are entertained by teen victims of gun violence having to regularly re-traumatize themselves on Twitter, by subjecting themselves to rightwing harassment, as part of their work of "saving the rest of us."

I've said this before, but every generation will have to fight its own battles, eventually, when we're gone. And likely, at least some of these battles will be those that have already been fought and won and lost before. Perhaps it is part of our work to leave them tools they can use, or re-purpose, for that task. But, I also refuse to cynically withdraw while I'm still here. My activism won't look like yours, and vice versa, but I think we can all find ways to contribute, and however we contribute I don't know that any of us can predict the end result(s) of our contributions.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

America: The Broken, 2020 Edition

Who could have predicted, except for hundreds and thousands of commentators, many of them women and/or POC.

Here's me, writing 3 years ago, at Shakesville, for instance:
"Donald Trump is the inevitable Republican politician for a rotten-to-the-core Republican Party that has condoned the use of any means necessary to win. To enact their regressive, cruel agenda, they have enabled a man to become President who is not only temperamentally-unsuited and unqualified for the office he holds, but whose very presence there is a daily, stark reminder of their contempt for both democracy and the people of this nation.

America: we are broken."
The George B. Bush years were bad. Very bad. The Trump years are exponentially worse.

If you'd have asked me the day after the 2016 election if in a few years it would feel like we would be living through some of the worst moments of the 1930s, 40s, and 60s, but also with Twitter, Facebook, a pandemic, and a fascist president who was brought to us by the reality TV-ification of US politics, I'd say, "Yep, Sure. Sounds about right."

Every time I think we've hit rock bottom, things somehow get worse.

And, if anything, the COVID pandemic should be telling everyone in the US, even the most privileged, how drastically our lives can change, pretty much overnight, and not in a good way. I think many white people mean well when they post the memes about their #whiteprivilege and how "safe" they are relative to Black people, and that is true to an extent, but white people also would do well to stop acting like they/we are entirely objective observers of history, rather than people who can also be killed, uprooted, and oppressed by the Trump regime. Especially now.

I wish I could find it now, but when I was perusing the Twitter recently, someone noted that one of the condescending errors of the post-2016-election "safety pin" thing, where white people would wear safety pins to surreptitiously signal to people of color that they/we are "allies," was the simple-minded assumption that we would be entirely untouched, ourselves, by the horrors of the Trump regime. 

I also understand that people need hope, and I refuse to give up hope. Still.

But, a lot of people seem to think that the current protests around the country mean we're on the cusp of the leftist, socialist, utopian revolution, rather than on the cusp of a violent, authoritarian dictatorship fully backed by one of our two major political parties, roughly half of US voters, about 2/3rds branches of the US government, and a federal military force commanded by the political right.

The 2016 election was, perhaps even more than 2000, the most pivotal election of most of our lifetimes, and what's done is done.

The US government has never acted with the consent of the majority of those within its borders. The majority of voters, by millions, can and did reject a man like Trump and that still, still was not enough to keep him from power. 

The protests we are seeing from city to city in response to the police killing of George Floyd are, first and foremost the result of police violence inflicted upon Black people, and more generally seem to be a release valve for the unrest that results from the reality that the United States was designed to be an unjust, oppressive state that privileges the rights, safety, and well-being of a subset of citizens, and that this fact has been self-evident to millions of oppressed people throughout the history of this nation despite mass efforts to gaslight us into thinking otherwise.

Many people now seem to be making catastrophic miscalculations about the current state of affairs, miscalculations akin to the wishful thinking that Comey or Mueller or Fauci or whoever-the-fuck-white-male-savior would somehow swoop in and save us from the madman.

Please stay safe friends and longtime readers, however you can. I know that's not super useful advice, but the only advice I can muster now is that the time for thinking about politics in soundbite is over so try not to let the memes be your guide.

Oh, and happy fuckin' pride month.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Femslash ___Day: VillanEve

What day is it? What time is it? What along decade it's been, huh?

I recently realized, only half-jokingly, that I measure time now by when it's time to watch Killing Eve again, and then I realized it's been fully 10 million years since we've had a Femslash Friday in Fannie's Room.

So, why not bring it back pandemic-time's sake?

I can't explain why I like Killing Eve so much, as it's a show I would be extremely not into if either of the two main characters were men.

I just started Season 3. So, I will need to digest the series more before I have anything more intelligent to say than the obvious fact that I, uh, appreciate the Sapphic subtext. And, maybe I will find time to write longform again when we're not in the middle of a fucking pandemic.

On that note, smell you later, and enjoy today's Villanelle/Eve fan vid.

In other news, I love how the Navy has basically confirmed the existence of UFOs and things are so awful right now that nobody even really cares.

Monday, April 6, 2020


Many years ago in college I read Ellen Bryant Voigt's book of poems, Kyrie, which is set during the influenza pandemic of 1918. I've thought of it on and off since then, particularly during the swine flu pandemic of 2009 and, of course, now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I found my copy of the book in my bookshelves the other day and read through it again. Each poem is written from the perspective of different, recurring people, dealing with the pandemic and/or World War I, in their own ways. The title, Kyrie ("Lord, have mercy") is referenced throughout, with poems alluding to the various characters' feelings of abandonment by their God, (naive?) optimism in the beginning ("Surely He shall deliver us from the snare"), and eventual hopelessness ("Oh yes I used to pray").

Another recurring theme is that of animals, both their ability to sense when something is off and the inescapable fact that humans are embodied animals and a part of nature, ourselves, despite our modern amenities.

In an early poem, foreshadowing the pandemic, she writes:

"Dogs, all kind of dogs - signals
are their job, they cock their heads,
their backs bristle, even house dogs
wake up and circle the wool rug
Outside, the vacant yard: then,
within minutes something eats the sun."

Life is inescapably different, and dark.

In another, she writes:

"Before the weather goes, you slaughter hogs
unless you want to find them on their sides, 
rheumy eyes, running snout.

It's simple enough arithmetic, 
so don't you think the Kaiser knew?
Get one hog sick, you get them all."

Looking at our present situation, a pandemic would be frightening even if we had trustworthy, competent, mature leadership at the federal level.

What is more clear than ever is that the 2016 election was a catastrophic failure in the history of our nation, as what is making this pandemic exponentially worse for the USA is that Donald Trump is in charge of the federal government.

I don't think he cares about Americans (or anyone) dying, and in fact he probably wants us to if we are Democrats, living in major (Democratic-voting) cities, and/or live in states with Democratic governors.

I think he's a sociopathic narcissist who only cares about the economy, rather than human beings, recovering. (Likewise, I think many of the journalists who covered Trump in 2016, and who continue to do so, are also sociopathic narcissists who are still somewhat entertained by Trump and everything that is happening right now, and that anyone lauding Trump's "change in tone as of late" should be deeply ashamed and resign immediately for incompetence.)

I think Trump will try to use the pandemic as an excuse to try cancel, delay, and/or rig the 2020 election, or to severely suppress turnout.

I think we have to rely more than ever on state, local, and private efforts for relief.

Officials are saying we have a very rough week or weeks ahead of us. I know a lot of people are having a hard time, for all kinds of reasons. So, mostly, I just wanted to drop a note to say hi and give people space to vent, be mad, be sad, be scared, whatever.

But I also want to say this: Rudy Giuliani is a creepy-ass dillrod who looks/acts like one of the Gentlemen from the episode "Hush" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Thoughts on Social Isolation and 2020


The past month or so has been a lot, yeah?  It appears that Joe Biden is on track to the Democratic nominee for president. And, fine. Whatever. He wasn't my top choice at all, but the COVID-19 pandemic, and Trump's massive failures around managing it, is one of many issues that highlights the urgency of defeating Trump in 2020.

It's a low bar, but Biden would be exponentially better than Trump. And, if Bernie Sanders were to pull off a surprise win, he would be as well. Whoever the nominee is just needs to be smart enough to name a progressive woman as vice president.

Anyway, it appears many of us will be stuck indoors, at home, isolating ourselves from others during this pandemic. Also, shoutout to those providing essential services right now who cannot do so, including health workers, firefighters, caregivers, law enforcement, delivery people, and more.

During this time, I've been thinking of doing a Xena rewatch (and possibly recaps, but not sure what I will have time for, given my other responsibilities).

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to check in. Please stay safe and healthy (and at home, if you are able!). How are others occupying themselves during this time?