Weird History

That was a hell of a week, wasn’t it?

Not content with Congressional attempts to monkeyfuck the vote, thousands of Trump’s unofficial “militia” overran the Capitol grounds, climbed the walls, broke into the building, shit and pissed on things, stole property and posed for selfies in MOC offices. Lawmakers hid in the chambers with gas masks, waiting for the mob to be dispersed. Only a few pistols and barricaded doorways stood between them and the rioters. It was truly a close call.

Now, Trump himself has done more than anyone to bring the events of January 6th to fruition, but even he is now saying that his goon squad shouldn’t have defiled the Capitol. His Doltishness clearly did not know who he was winding up with his incendiary rhetoric. Apparently it’s taken 74 years for Trump to discover that lit matches can burn you.

Nonetheless, I am thankful that it was mostly just a bunch of hooligans on a wilding spree rather than actual revolutionaries ready to establish a new government. Because some of these motherfuckers were out for scalps. One was seen carrying zip ties and a gallows was erected. And I hear they’re gearing up for more direct action, this time with guns. I am hoping that our law enforcement and military will be ready to defend the seat of government from these crazies, even if those self-same soldiers and officers are sympathetic to their cause.

Now I don’t want to give succor or legitimacy to this crew of madcaps, but this is the most threatened our government has been since 1860. The BLM protests over police brutality don’t even hold a candle. This here is a rightist “revolution”, and the roots for it are a little deeper than there ever were for leftist insurrection activity. We’ve been working up this crowd for decades with irresponsible news outlets, talk radio, and permissive social media. It’s got to stop.

The Republican party has some thinking to do. Many of its members hitched themselves to Trump’s star and now lives have been lost for following and encouraging him in his quest to usurp power. What happened is unacceptable in the extreme. As I write, Democrats are huddling to impeach Trump a second time, this time on a count of insurrection. It’s very late, but perhaps it must be done to make a statement. Will he be lucky twice? That’s up to Republicans-and they’d better do the soul searching required to make sure that a thing like President Trump never, ever gets to pretend to the highest office in the land again. Now that his reign is ending, it should be an easy choice. But there’s still lots of Trumpists in Congress without shame, so I am not holding my breath for justice to be done, even as the evidence gathered over the past four years cannot be ignored.

Out Of Trump Cards

Well, we are still stuck in the longest Election Period Day ever. That’s right, over a month has passed since the official day, and Donald Trump is still insisting that he won while flailing in every legal direction possible to validate his wacky claims. I myself am bored to tears listening to his puling on Twitter. It won’t be much longer until he exits the national stage for good, thankfully. However, it’s unfortunate that while we will be done with him as President, the toxic effect he has had on our country’s national discourse could linger for years, perhaps decades. All the blather about Democrats causing divisiveness sounds awfully quaint after one term of Trump.

We just got done watching the Supreme Court swat down a multi-state complaint started by Texas about supposed voting irregularities in the swing states that Trump was unable to hold onto in 2020. I’m sure Trump thought that he fashioned the SCOTUS in his image with his three justices, but he was wrong. The trouble he’s having is that he doesn’t really understand conservatism. At bottom, conservatives revere above all the ideal of decentralized control, making a fetish of radical self-governance. And it follows that “state’s rights” (notwithstanding how racist the concept is) is an important doctrine to advance these ideas. Small wonder then that this kind of push for some states to meddle in the affairs of others would be found repugnant to their bedrock conservative principles, regardless of who was bringing a suit of this nature.

For once, federalism has saved the day.

It’s hard to say where Trump’s going to go next to get relief. In his head, this Texas suit was “the big one”, because it was a super fast avenue to getting his complaints to the supremes as quickly as possible. We still have to grit our teeth and hope the Electoral College will do its duty and sit the president who officially got the most EVs. What a system it is where we have these unelected people in control of so much, huh? As I understand it, an upset of this nature is as unlikely as this giant suit had in helping Trump stay in office, especially since it’s going to be hard to come by 38 faithless electors selecting the guy who lost the popular vote by nearly 8 million. This gambit’s never worked before, but it’s an ineluctable fact that Trumpism has poisoned this election process at every critical juncture. Every process is a nail-shredding experience as we have to watch the steps be stress-tested in real time.

I’ve tried to sit back and relax with the proverbial popcorn but we’re all fooling ourselves a little if we aren’t internally fretting to some degree about what could happen from now until January 20th. We’ve shook through some intense moments and survived, and we’re past the safe harbor point so there will be no more attempts at recounting or any decertifying actions spurred on by his wildly incompetent legal team. Trump’s options lessen and lessen as time grinds by. The best days of an attempt at a coup are behind him. I’m confident but cautious that the trend will continue to favor American democracy over the conceits of a petty, tiny-minded, power-drunk rich fool.

UPDATE: The estimable Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog outlines the next challenge to the will of the people. It doesn’t involve Trump, but it’s no less than a congressional rebellion if it comes to pass.

Life In The Time Of Corona

Been a long time, occasional reader.

I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately. My 17-year old has COVID and the last thing on my mind is writing. It looks like he will be OK, so I’m going to try not to worry too much. He can’t taste, he’s congested and a little short of breath but that’s about it so I believe we have been lucky. His brother and mother are negative and I suspect when my results come in next week I too will be negative. So he’s in isolation for the week ahead, but this isn’t a bad time in history to be stuck in one’s room with all our many creature comforts. He’s still in there shouting at top volume to his multiplayer computer games, so as long as I keep hearing his boisterous ass I know all is as well as can be expected.

I am doing my best not to blame myself as a parent for the freedom I allowed him while this pandemic raged. In a sense, it’s not completely my fault because our government has been utterly unresponsive to this crisis, encouraging the reopening of society while the pandemic got exponentially worse. But anyway, it’s been super hard to continue time and time again to say no to the things my nearly grown kids want. It took me close to three months from the lockdown in March to allow visits with his girlfriend, whom he is in love with. I could not bear to stomp on his heart any further so I let it happen. Turns out that wasn’t wise, as she is more than likely the vector from which he caught the virus. Her fucking family members are Trumpers so you know they didn’t believe this thing is real (oh but I guess now they have to, huh?). I also allowed him to go to work at Waffle House, where he was slated to be off training wheels when he got sick so that’s shit timing. It could be worse, I guess-he could have needed to isolate at Christmas and that would be a drag and a half on everyone here.

So clearly, mistakes have been made and I want to say that just because my kid will likely get off easy doesn’t mean anyone should be running around like COVID’s nothing more than a sniffle. 270,000 dead people would beg to differ. I have been irresponsible and now I am paying. Perhaps not quite as irresponsible as the thoughtless people who continue to walk around maskless, but nonetheless I have allowed COVID to spread because I didn’t stick to my guns. If you are a parent, you know what a struggle this has been but please limit their exposure so you don’t have to fret that you’ve done something monumentally wrong. Knowing your kid has COVID doesn’t feel good at all and it is probably better to protect them presently by curtailing their contact with the outside world wherever you can. They don’t have to completely understand. That’s the hard part.

Don’t go willy-nilly thinking like I did that nothing’s probably going to happen because for eight months nothing did. It’s an inevitability you will have a COVID case in your family otherwise. And you or your loved ones may not get off as easy as we here have.

Logistical Nightmares II

I have recounted some of the positive effects I had on the Army’s medical supply system, in theater and out. When you do something in the service, especially in wartime, you have a blank check to complete your mission. The comptroller wanted a tally of what you spent but you were free to spend as much as needed.

When I went to the private sector, it was the opposite. Looking back, I was no longer a logistician. I became a bean counter and actually cut the supply lines in order to track every penny spent by providers. My job was partially one of automating the space between the loggies and the nurses. Here’s how it went.

I finally got my BA in sociology in 2015. As many know, the paper pedigree opens you up to new job opportunities. I was a college graduate, but I was also terribly sick from bipolar. Still, I managed to get hired somehow because of the magic paper and my enthusiasm for returning to logistics.

Now back in the service, we in supply either controlled what left the warehouse or the supply was behind cabinets you couldn’t access without a keycard. Those approaches helped us curtail abuses by providers. Now I know when someone in healthcare needs something fast, you tend to not give a damn about logging your choices. But it was for their protection as well as helping us keep track of what was being used. Let me explain a little.

At one of my Army gigs, every type of supply used in a unit had its place in a cabinet and underneath it was a button you could push whenever you took something and the machine would debit the amount you took in the computer system. It couldn’t have been made easier, but for some reason people couldn’t abide by the rules anyway. That in turn made it difficult to know what to bring them on a daily basis, because the levels in the machines were off every single day. So there was no easy solution to allowing providers to access what they wanted while keeping track of what they accessed. That problem was much more intractable at this private hospital I began to work at in 2016. People, it was a mess. There was no locked cabinet with simple pushbuttons to encourage people to account for their supply. It was just sitting there on shelves and there was a computer adjacent to them and they had to badge in and enter their transactions by scanning the barcode below the product. Needless to say, providers were not encouraged to do the right thing because everything was right there for the taking. And when their closets were short on supply, they’d bitch to upper management about the logistics shop. We had to tell them time and time again that if you want the right amount of supplies, you have to use the damn scanner so the computer can generate a proper pick sheet and then we bring you the right amount of shit. The lesson never took with most units. Thus, we had the extra task of counting the closets before we generated pick sheets so that the proper number of supplies were brought up.

It fell on me to go to war with the providers. I am sad to say that I participated in making it harder for the nurses just so we could tightly manage supply. On one level, we were just trying to make the system work for everyone. There were egregious mistakes that I made, though. Once I tried to stop nurses from abusing the special order system to order basic supplies. That function on the computer was only to be used for supplies outside what was in their closet, not for them to push a panic button and make logistics hop to whenever they ran out of the basics. I tried to punish them by removing the button and got myself in a lot of hot water. There were nurse managers who supported some of my reforms but I did not feel like I had the backing of upper management in logistics. No one was guiding me on how to do things, I had to learn the system on my own and come up with my own fixes to these dilemmas. And I was crazier than fuck throughout all of it.

I developed a vicious case of anxiety over the job and quit after seven months. Following this position I took a job as a produce clerk while I waited for a disability rating from the VA. It was favorable, and I’m totally and permanently disabled which means my work career has come to an end. I think that’s a fair conclusion. Being housebound is not the greatest thing for me, but it might be a shade better than not doing a thorough job in the working world. If I get wound up and stay that way, I can’t do anyone any good. It’s simply too easy to wind me.

Morning, For Real This Time

We did it.

We removed the most toxic president in modern history using the arsenal of our democracy. He’s currently having the shittiest game of golf in his life.

It’s been a long road to get here for me. Since 2016, my negativity about the state of the nation had steadily been increasing. The impeachment fiasco pretty much broke me. So I am happy that I am now able to hope again. It’s important to me in middle age that I not be my usual cynical self. No one wants to be around Debbie Downer and it’s high time I realized that. It’s not always fucked. You have to take the bad with the good without losing your light.

All I can say to everyone in our tribe now, is relax and feel good about this successful operation. And then it is time for the Biden administration to deliver on the promises they made. I will be happy if we just deal with this damn virus even if it takes a year. There’s no normalcy to be found while bodies keep piling up.

Go in peace, friends.

It feels like fucking Independence Day, doesn’t it?

Between Hope And Annihilation

It’s the morning after the election, and I am sad to take note of how many people voted for our unstable, mercurial, homicidal incumbent. It’s clear that we on the left have not come fully to grips with who we are as a nation.

As the land lays right now (8am), we don’t have a clear winner yet. Mail-ins favor Biden, and we already have a Trump campaign a) declaring victory. and b) announcing it’s going to go to the mat to stop votes from being counted. The latter activity seems to me to be a good sign that the Trump machine is worried about the result. But hope has been hard to come by these last twelve hours; we were all heavily invested in a “blue wave” that broke well before it could drown Trump and anyone he trucked with in these last four years. It never materialized. Our Senate is going to be lost to the GOP again and that should tell us something (EDIT 11/5: this observation was faulty and premature).

It’s time to start understanding that we are not a righteous or a particularly smart nation. But is it our fault we are always so wrong about it? Or have we been so psychologically tormented by Trumpist control of the nation that we will latch on to just about anything that claims it can end it? I am not sure. But this is the year that we should disabuse ourselves of the notion that good will always triumph over evil. Evil always has even odds. I’m reminded of Hunter S. Thompson’s somber coda in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas which goes a little like this:

There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.

Those of us who read know how it all turned out; the American dream was too elusive for capture. That was true in 1971 and I suspect not much has changed. Lucy, ever the little white supremacist, has always had the football and ever it shall be. They had acid, we have Twitter. We believe in each other’s inherent power but I’m afraid that’s not always the stuff that moves a mountain.

I hope everything turns out the way we need it to. But we should gird ourselves for a bitter conclusion because our fellow countrymen, women and otherwise clearly do not know up from down. If we win, let’s not forget too easily that we came close to being blown out yet again. If we lose, let’s nonetheless remember that optimism is not the elemental force we thought it was. We shall always continue to vote for what is correct and proper, but we must leave a little room and prepare for annihilation. It’s the only fair thing we can do for ourselves in this cussed nation. This is a fight, and you always stand a chance of getting hit with a punch you weren’t expecting.

Logistical Nightmares

I was trained as a medical supply logistician by the Army. It’s the only job I’ve really ever felt good about. My first instinct was to help people get well. Yet, along the road in my career, I found myself in the service of the devil. I went from making it rain for healthcare providers to counting beans to deprive caregivers of quick logistical service. It’s been a weird ride.

I had a good feel for the job, coming in first in my class in advanced training. I spent a few idle years at Fort Bragg doing nothing for anybody until George Bush decided to blow up the Middle East in 2003. I was shipped to Iraq and began a six month stint in the deserts around Karbala with a forward mobile hospital. Sadly, my co-workers and leaders had no acumen for the job; we were constantly being torn up by providers because we couldn’t do simple tasks like keeping them in gloves. None of us had ever deployed so we didn’t understand the scope of the job. In due time, I was separated from the logistics shop to work solely with the pharmacy. Procuring drugs was an important job and I was pretty good at it. I created my own system by hand for reordering supplies, counting each day what we had and judging the velocity of a product by comparing the previous day’s total.

Now, pharmacists are the most wound-up people you could ever work for. I went through three of them while in Iraq and they were all the same, constantly fulminating and panicking that supplies would dry up. In fairness to them, I may have been a little unaware of just how important some drugs were. Nevertheless, the pharmacy always got what it needed even though I kept a tight shop. I became a master trader, and I built a network of goodwill in the units stationed around us. Later we moved to Baghdad and I repeated the mission for another six months, doing a job I was proud of. It feels weird to say it, but I felt good about my time in Iraq even though I was part of a machine that had decimated a country for no good reason at all except to commandeer and control the second largest pool of oil on the planet. At the time, I was too naive to understand that.

When I came home in 2004, I spent one more year at Fort Bragg and then was transferred to Fort Bliss and began work at the William Beaumont Hospital. At first, I worked with the regular crew in the warehouse, filling OmniCell units daily to a dozen areas in the hospital. The director of logistics took a shine to me though, and once again I separated from the normal crew to work at the hospital as kind of a facilitator between the warehouse and the providers. Having a logistical face at the hospital that providers could access seemed to calm the nerves of medical professionals who felt that we were too far removed from the healthcare mission. And that was true everywhere I went; the relationship between logistics and healthcare was always antagonistic even if it was a matter of life or death. We did not understand or appreciate each other at all.

I started unraveling a bit at William Beaumont. I didn’t know what was wrong yet, but there was something shaking loose in my brainpan. While I started to lose control I was sent to leadership training to become a sergeant (not my choice; I was always content being a specialist who knew his shit but they push upward mobility), and did a terrible job there except when it came to testing which earned me another award. But that shit had nothing on Korea, which I was shipped to after exactly 364 days in Texas.

I got picked up as a sergeant as soon as I arrived. Good lord, I was a terrible leader. What a year. I could not keep track of my soldiers to save my life. The opportunities to show my skills as a logistician disappeared because I was now technically no longer in that business. I was a laughingstock and I couldn’t get out of my own way. I began to hide from everyone and I could not sleep. It was in Korea that I took my first medicine for depression. I was not diagnosed but was given trazodone for my troubles. Trazodone was tricky; if you took it at the right time and got enough sleep it was OK but god forbid you fall short of your sleep quota. It would actually make me feel worse than I had before I took the drug. That would be true of a great deal of the medication I was to use going forward.

I was separated yet again from the daily grind at the warehouse. This time it wasn’t because I was good at what I was doing, though. I was given a mission to reorganize the warehouse a little. I kept watch over two soldiers, moving and consolidating supplies from the top floor to the bottom floor of the warehouse during non-business hours. I knew how the computer supply program worked more than most and so was able to alter locations, quantities and print reports. I had that going for me, but mostly I was removed from the day shift so that no one had to see me suck. I was hated. I think that year in Korea was one of the worst in my life. I was getting tired of being separated from my wife and young sons. Near the end of my hitch in Korea in 2006 I began to think seriously about leaving the service. I wasn’t up for the leadership role and I was not going to be sent anywhere again. It did not occur to me that life would become infinitely harder if I left the Army. It was a steady job that paid OK but I couldn’t see past hating my work suddenly.

Our final move was to Colorado to Fort Carson. Again, I completely failed as a leader. But I did get a chance to show off my logistics chops because as in North Carolina, I was the only one with a good grip on the ordering system. Incompetence tends to pool in the Army. I made it rain again; happy customers were getting supplies regularly. In three months time, guess what would happen? Another trip to Iraq was on the schedule. By now I was suffering mightily in the throes of undiagnosed bipolar but it would be a long time before I found out what was troubling me. I was positively livid about a possible trip. I was not going to accept another deployment and made that clear (I had initiated separation plans and they stop-lossed me). Fine by them; they didn’t want me anyway. They would send me to do some bullshit task in leadership where I would lose it completely. That’s another story, though.

First we had to ramp up for deployment. Customers began submitting large orders to prepare, and I fielded many with skill. I went on a week’s leave about a month before the deployment and I left a group of orders to be submitted to my soldiers and my sergeant. When I returned, the orders had not been touched at all. I was very frustrated my co-workers’ lack of urgency. Desert training was scheduled shortly thereafter and I hatched a plan to get the orders filled while we were at the training base. In my head it was unacceptable that these orders not get filled before we left. So I put them all in at training and got in trouble with the comptroller sergeant because we had not allocated the money to pay for all of that supply. I didn’t give a fuck. To me, it wasn’t about the money-the unit needed to be prepared for Iraq and once training was finished we would only have about three weeks to get our shit together before we packed up. I worked hard to get the remaining needed supplies at home and the unit eventually left without me.

That was the end of the Army portion of my logistics experience. I always thought I was on the side of the angels because I consistently got results that customers needed. My experience in the civilian world was the polar opposite. I guess I can tell that story next. Hopefully I feel like it.

Not Even Trying To Hide It

Here at the seminary, we try not to pass up opportunities to mark certain notable events. I’m a little hungover, but my brain nevertheless got stuck on this exchange between Mark Meadows and Jake Tapper:

MEADOWS: “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas — “

TAPPER: “Why not get control of the pandemic? 

MEADOWS: “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

TAPPER: “But why not make efforts to contain it? 

MEADOWS: “Well we are making efforts to contain it.”

TAPPER: “By running all over the country and not wearing a mask? That’s what vice president is doing.”

MEADOWS: “Let me just say this. What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don’t die from this. But to suggest that we are going to actually quarantine all of America –“

TAPPER: “No one’s saying that.”

You read that right. That’s the Trump chief of staff officially signaling an end to any efforts on the part of the administration to control the pandemic. They’ve simply given up. Not that they tried in the first place, mind you. But Americans should be terrified as fuck about the prospects of a second Trump term. Trump himself is now on record saying no one will be talking about COVID anymore should he best Biden on the 3rd. Rather, the president is much more concerned with claiming to have saved Christmas greetings instead.

I can’t believe some of you motherfuckers are gonna vote for four more years of this lying, do-nothing bullshit artist. If cases and deaths are spiking, which they are, we could be staring down the barrel at a situation where we will have nearly all been infected, with deaths in the millions before someone coughs up a working vaccine. How is our already overtaxed healthcare system going to treat all these new cases if that’s all we’re preparing to do? We’re going to be fucked. And it’s all because Trump has no work ethic, no sense of responsibility, and no curiosity about solving real problems suffered by real people. It’s an insane possible future.

November 3rd cannot, for America’s sake, go the wrong way. It’s a real choice we face between healing and mass death.

Vote Joe Biden.

Please.

For you, your kids, my kids, somone else’s kids, your momma and your poppa. Get out there and pick someone possessed with a sense of duty to Americans.

On Hating Mike Love

You could say I am a pretty big Beach Boys fan.

I came to the group late in my mid twenties, having learned that my faves The Beatles were jealous about the musical powers of Brian Wilson. I thought that was odd, because to me up until then they had always been little more than a novelty act.

As many of you know, that is not the case. Listening to Pet Sounds for the first time changed my life a little. It’s definitely on my list of musical epiphanies. The arrangements and the harmonies were almost magical to me.

Time’s not been kind to the boys. Brian Wilson’s cheese fell off his cracker in the seventies, and the Beach Boys became that novelty act I suspected them of being.

That second part is Mike Love’s fault. That guy’s a fucking dick, milking his old act for every buck he can get. He has worked hard over the years to disenfranchise his troubled cousin Brian because he was not stable enough for touring. I don’t completely fault him for that; I went to see Wilson on the Pet Sounds 50th anniversary tour, and he was a sad sight, ruining all the special work he created with what I’d kindly call a lackluster performance.

Still, I have always resented Love for his viciousness towards Brian and his shameless carrying-on without the genius that brought the Boys to stardom.

And now he’s become a Trumpster. Who saw that coming? Selling his legacy out to help that imbecilic boob of a non-president is not surprising I suppose; he’s never been much possessed of scruples. But I’m sad and angry about it all. The whole lot of them should hang it up and no one should give any of them another dime.

Fuck Mike Love. Real hard.

How did the boomer generation go from acid and free love to this? Was it rehab and gonorrhea? I’ll never understand it.

What’s Left Of Conservatism

No rational person would support Donald Trump in 2020. That circus freak is still going to get 50 million people or more to vote for him, though.

Ever wonder why? I have a guess. Besides them all being members of a death cult of personality.

Dead babies and Stalin.

There’s really nothing left of the conservative movement except for its opposition to abortion and its hatred of socialism and it’s more severe brother, communism. Everything else is basically out the window.

For example, used to be a time when fiscal conservatism meant something. Now it’s only part of a catch phrase for glib libertarians who tell you should you be unfortunate enough to have a dialog with one that they are “fiscally conservative, socially liberal”. Republicans give no fucks anymore about manic spending sprees; the only difference is to whom they are shoveling cash to (hint: not to you).

So with things like fiscal discipline a thing of the past, the only thing conservatives are very concerned about any more is abortions that they are not having and the socialism that no one is pushing. Donald Trump and the pack he runs with know you are suckers for those hot buttons.

He has so much contempt for you that he asserts that abortions are happening after birth, which is something sane folks like to call murder. And no one is using abortion as birth control in the main. It costs way more than a pack of jimmy hats. The pro-choice position is that abortion is safe, legal, and rare.

Then there’s the fear of socialism, which only usually occurs when a major moneymaker needs taxpayer money to make more. Joe and Jeanette Average aren’t as lucky. Take a look around and find me the corporations whose output has been seized by the state. And we’re definitely not communists. This country has never been more full of god-botherers so please miss us with the charge that America becoming more godless. I mean, it kinda is, but still it’s not the way you all think it is out there just because you can’t pray with your students. And there’s definitely no functioning proletarian movement anymore-I think that we’re about down to 10% of the workforce that is still unionized.

So not only do you suffer from a paucity of salient issues to vote on, your two big issues are ghosts. But that won’t stop some of you from being so panicked about dead babies and Stalin that you will throw your vote to some demented, unqualified, twittering, do-nothing orange rage goblin rather than take the chance that those two things are happening in your world. And you’re taking the rest of us with you when you base your voting on your fear of them. I won’t ask you to stop, because if you had any sense, you wouldn’t have let it all come to this.

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