Just Another New Year’s Eve of the Plague Year

It’s the end of a year that began with the sitting President of the United States staging a murderous attempted coup in a half-assed means to hold power (for which he had a powerpoint and everything), as we transitioned to a new President. The new President’s agenda was immediately thwarted by his own party in a stupid attempt to impeach the last idiot. But then the new guy managed to pass his super-duper COVID relief package (only stripped of the $15 minimum wage) BECAUSE THE SENATE PARLIAMENTARIAN (as if that’s really even a thing). BTW, the stimulus check in that bill was $1,400 and not the $2,000 promised on the campaign trail. Let’s just say that stupid $600 is going to be a yuuuge issue in coming elections. But now it’s DEMOCRATS who seem to object to free money for the peasants.

Frankly, that was the high water mark, and most unfortunately, good old Joe Biden seems to have largely called it a day after that. He has elected not to do anything about promised student debt relief; good old coal is making a comeback under Biden; and there have now been more COVID-45 deaths under Joe Biden than under Donald Trump. And the omicron variant seems hellbent on setting infection record after infection record, especially here in New York. I understand the limitations he is under, such as COVID-45 being fueled by Republican partisans willing to sacrifice their lives by refusing to take vaccines or wear masks just to try to destroy the economy so Republicans will win. And while Joe Biden is a corporate Democrat who was forced to run a campaign far more progressive than his political record in order to win the damned election, it still seems troubling that his own party is screwing him over. This is especially true given Republican state legislatures’ predilection for election stealing legislation across the country just as the President’s own party is as incapable of passing its own electoral protection legislation (but… but… the filibuster) as it is of passing Biden’s signature program, the ever shrinking “Build Back Better” massive social spending and stimulus bill that apparently died at the hands of Democratic legislative grim reaper and coal baron Joe Manchin. What to make of all this? It seems as if Democrats talk a good game, but at the end of the day, don’t seem to care enough to get it together to do enough even to win the next election. And right now, if they don’t (and it sure isn’t looking good), a Republican House and/or Senate will not only continue to thwart any legislative agenda that the Biden Administration might have left, but can be expected to instead tie up legislative sessions with horseshit investigations of Benghazi (yes, they never tire of it) and the Trump Russia investigation. Or maybe they can build on their record of destruction of civil rights, starting with a yuuuuge assist from their opening shot of the GOP dominated Supreme Court allowing Texas’s bullshit abortion-bounty system to end abortion in the Lone Star State, as we can assume the Court will further eviscerate abortion rights, and we can expect further civil rights erosion from the almost certain coming Republican Congress, locked in if the Republicans win the Presidency and both houses of Congress in 2024… assuming we have a 2024.

Meanwhile, the good old #MeToo “movement” claimed one of its biggest prizes ever by driving New York Governor Andrew Cuomo out of office over (quite literally) a touch foul. To be sure, given the early disastrous pandemic numbers and a scandal involving nursing home patients and a very lucrative book deal for him, perhaps his removal was warranted, but the actual reason he resigned (as was the case of Al Franken) seems troubling, at least to me.

Other events of 2021 included the reentry of the United States into the Paris Climate accords, and then a very corporate greenwashy “COP-26” in Glasgow, Scotland, featuring many dignitaries arriving by private jets and having yuuuge motorcades, in a spectacle that Greta Thunberg criticized as the corporatist failure that it was. Needless to say, 2021 will go down as among the warmest years ever recorded, just as the previous 6 or 7 years have, and hence, it should surprise no one that we have insane weather like killer tornadoes in December or insane fires in Colorado just today. Quite frankly, while corporate profit-driven media downplay this, the fact that we are destroying our habitat more and more thoroughly each year in the name of profits for our beloved billionaires (who are more interested in playing space-man than in continued life on Earth) is kind of important. Like more important than anything else. Like, even I am wondering why I waited until the fourth paragraph to even talk about this. But that’s because 2021 has been depressing enough [if nothing else, just think how the year ended with a crazy spate of last-minute notable deaths, like John Madden, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Senator Harry Reid, and in one last gut-punch on New Year’s Eve itself, Betty White] to realize that subsequent years will make 2021 look like heaven on Earth by comparison. The Arctic keeps warming and sea ice keeps declining. A key ocean current is in jeopardy. Massive ice sheets in the Antarctic are cracking. And contrary to state corporate greenwashy goals, good old humanity has put out more carbon (and other greenhouse gases), and despite any pandemic slowdowns, and global agreements for net zero or other nonsense, we’re pumping warming gases out at our usual rate. The only hope will be some wild geo-engineering projects I have discussed before, and even they are an insane long-shot, especially since they won’t be funded because all dollars have to be devoted to enhancing the bottom lines and egos of our beloved billionaires (see above re “playing space man”).

OK. For the second year of the plague year, we have all had to cope with an unusually fraught situation. I have “coped” this time with extreme distance running (I have run at least 30 miles at least five times this year, including an unofficial finish in a 50-kilometer, a did-not-finish in a hundred miler and a most official finish in a 50-miler, and 5 marathons including my 19th consecutive NYC, 2nd Long Island and 3rd Suffolk County taking me to 63 overall), and the most welcome continued presence of Teremana Tequila (blanco and reposado… still waiting for anejo). I have also been in the company of my family– often quite close company, as in we have few other human contacts much of the time during the plague year. And that is kind of what we need at this point in our lives– close relationships, be they familial or friendship– because shit has already been all too real. But even this is just a preview of what happens when the unhappy accidents of American capitalism are allowed to continue running amock despite making the entire population of the planet miserable for the benefit of at most a few thousand people, and despite the fact that industrial capitalism as it is now practiced will, sooner or later (and we are on track for sooner) kill everyone and everything. So that said– I counsel love, and affection, and taking fulfillment in whatever you can. Human relationships have a special place, but whatever it is you love and value– this is the time to love and value it. Because the future of mortal beings is always “provisional”– but man, does it look provisional now.

Maybe some miracle will happen and our adolescent billionaire betters will get public spirited somehow. I thought I would leave you with a laugh as I send you my best wishes for the coming new year.