Author Archives: The Head Seminarian

It’s OK To Take The Victory Lap

But pick up the pace, Biden administration.

I don’t want to sound like the kind of person that needs to have things the way I want them all the time, but it’s time to see the president’s next trick.

During the rosy period that came about near the passage of the ARP, there wasn’t an ounce of oxygen for conservatives. They spent their time grousing about the sex of Mr. Potato Head and “cancel culture”, whatever that means. Now that we have gotten our checks and people are lining up in droves to get newly available vaccine, we’ve been able to enjoy the fruits of our 2020 victory. But we cannot rest on our laurels.

The next signature achievement should be teed up right now. I know the administration is still building and slowly accessing its power, but there needs to be a parallel effort to show the American people that it’s smart to have Democrats in charge. That it’s smart again to have a government that works.

This lag in the administration’s performance may not be purposeful, as the legislative body must do its job if anything is to get done. It’s entirely possible that we are simply waiting for more Democrats to come around to the idea of either eliminating the filibuster or drastically reforming it. It doesn’t matter anymore if the minority party has the power to spike legislation while barely lifting a finger. We have a badly broken country, and there’s really no time to allow the opposition to do nothing but obstruct progress. You can bet your bottom dollar that we will weaken at the polls in 2022 if we don’t keep the good times going.

Conservatives, Republicans and Donald Trump have already gotten people’s attention turned to the border, where unaccompanied minors are now being allowed to cross without immediate repatriation. Now maybe we don’t have the infrastructure to administer an endeavor like this; but what should should be a relatively uncontroversial policy change has morphed into a crisis that threatens to destroy the country if we don’t stop it. Any goings-on at the border seem to get the nation’s racist amygdala to begin furiously pumping panic into the body politic. Sadly, it’s an effective wedge issue. Here’s a decent read on the “crisis”. In point of fact, it’s not even a new issue-scads of unaccompanied minors began arriving beginning in 2019 when fucko was president.

We’ve got to fight fire with fire; the wheel must continue to turn. If we don’t have something good cooked up time and time again, the opposition will inject their narrative and the press will happily chase theirs over ours if we fail to hold their attention.

UPDATE: Looks like next on deck is infrastructure! Figuring out who pays and how much is currently being debated.

Tucker Carlson Is A Sexist Asshole

We now return you to our somewhat irregular, yet popular installments of “Tucker Carlson Is An Asshole”. There’s a LOT of searching for that phrase, much more than you might imagine.

Today, we’ll dunk on him for disparaging women (and trans servicemembers as well) in uniform. Tucker said something so beyond the pale the Army chief of staff and the Pentagon had to respond to his chickenfeed.

Quoth he:

“So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits. Pregnant women are gonna fight our wars,” said Mr Carlson, seemingly making fun of servicewomen. “It’s a mockery of the US military”.

The Fox News anchor, once infamously rejected by the CIA before starting a media career, went on to compare the US military with that of China, who he complained was becoming “more masculine”.

“While China’s military becomes more masculine, as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become more feminine, whatever feminine means anymore,” said Mr Carlson, who went on to make transphobic comments.

If anyone shouldn’t be making bullshit macho statements, it’s Tucker fucking Carlson. Take a look at that guy. If the word “soft” had a picture next to it in the dictionary, Tucker’s face would be there. He’d wash out of basic in the first two weeks, while the females in his platoon ran the gauntlet successfully. He is decidedly not the authority on what makes a military functional or lethal.

No one is sending pregnant women to the front lines, you insufferable prig. The military accommodates women who become pregnant and they serve in other important roles during their pregnancy. I don’t understand what the deal is with these people who can’t handle the military being sexually inclusive. Dozens of countries have an integrated military and it doesn’t suffer one whit as a result.

To that end, I’ve got news for Tucker.

You asshole.

Mitch McConnell Is On Something

This isn’t the first time we have heard this from a Republican, but it’s testament to the profound degree to how out of touch these frilly clowns are with regular people:

During an appearance on Fox News, host Martha McCallum posed the question to McConnell.

“Do you think the checks that are going out — you know, there’s some unemployment benefits, additional benefits that would run out in March — do you believe that these checks prevents some people from wanting to work?” McCallum asked.

“Well, there is a concern,” McConnell replied, “about making it more advantageous to stay home rather than going back to work.”

None, I repeat none of us are going to kick up our heels and give up our jobs or give up looking because of a very, very minor windfall. That money that’s coming can’t even sustain an ordinary household for two months. And the unemployment benefit pays for a week of groceries for a family of four. Furthermore, most folks are going to find plenty of uses for that money for things they are putting off, like bills and repairs. There is no upside to staying out of work. Ever. All working stiffs know this.

Why don’t they know? Is it that fat salary with the perks getting in the way?

Retirement

I am, for all intents and purposes, finished working. The VA retired me in 2016 at the tender age of 45.

Now a lot of you out there might think that sounds awesome and think it is the goal that everyone is working towards. But being retired is not something you should be if you can’t structure your time properly. It can be as cruel a hell as working at a job you can’t stand. Filling up a day with activity can be very hard, it turns out. You can avoid forward motion quite easily.

I’m in a rut right now. I got into a fender bender a few weeks ago and it shook me up a little. I’m doing more “hiding”, something I have done before. When I was deployed to Korea in 2005, the stress of that tour made me into a pathetic recluse and I would keep the lights off so no one would know I was in my room. I would turn up the heat so high you could probably feel it wafting from under the door. I don’t know what I was really doing, maybe recreating the feeling of the womb or something. Now the urge to hide is back again. I can’t get out of bed in the morning and when everyone has left to do their day at school or work, I beeline for the couch and hunker under a blanket and nap for three hours or more. I got off Clozapine so I could wake up so this behavior is unacceptable bullshit. There’s a difference now- I can get up easily, I just won’t. Back in the Clozapine days there was no won’t…just can’t. So basically I have no excuses for what I am doing.

I have plenty of things I can do but I can’t seem to motivate myself. I’m writing this, so it augurs something positive. You may have noticed the posts are few and far between, occasional reader. I damn near quit writing a few weeks ago. It may take some time to tell stories and share news again, but I’ll get back there and damn it all to hell if I don’t. I’m gonna pick up the freaking guitar and work on my scales until my fingers just know where to go without me thinking about it. I have a house to keep up too.

Dying takes on many forms and indeed, people die more than one death in a figurative sense. We are often changed forever by the things that happen to us or the things we do or don’t do. Sometimes you die a little from that, but the same mechanism allows us to be reborn anew. And that’s what I’m banking on.

Life Interludes

This blog is dying.

It’s an odd feeling, not having much to say on paper anymore. I have been writing, for better or worse, for over 30 years. Along with music, it is my way of expressing myself because I’m not very good at that in person. I have to wait for thoughts to coagulate into something that I want to put into the world. What I have realized is that I’m a nervous wreck and people freak me out. It’s no way to live, but I am probably stuck with this social paralysis and awkward thinking patterns.

I look over my old writing and I love some of the more passionate work I have done. I did some decent political commentary. Plenty of duds, though. I do hope that this pause in writing is merely writer’s block and not me clamming up for fear that I may say something clumsy. If I can’t do this anymore, how will I communicate effectively? That’s a scary thought.

It’s also just hard to maintain a blog in general. The form has been dead for years. I keep telling myself that I will get back to reading the ones on my ‘roll for commentary, but I cannot seem to get away from social media. I don’t know what the fuck my problem is, but I am probably not alone. I bought a print newspaper subscription to decrease my screen time, but I don’t make it past the op-eds and I don’t give a damn about sports so it’s very nearly a waste of time as social media breaks news at lightning speed…and I guess that is the reason I can’t disengage. Maybe it’s a peculiarly American way of behaving-demanding quickness and convenience. I get my fix easily. However, that all means I feel completely beaten to the punch and before I know it the next story is a click away and I’ve probably moved on from a thread that I should have had a few words to drop about it. I think one of my problems is that I want to have a lot to say about an issue and that’s just not how communication works in the main anymore. Far easier to just drop fifty words on a tweet than search for the meat and potatoes that makes a blog post something people want to see more of. That word counter in the corner there is a harsh master; if I can’t string at least 400 words together that is indicative of a problem.

I can’t help but think my current psychological state is not serving me well. I’m withdrawing from everything that has something to do with other people. I’m almost grateful for COVID because it gives me an excuse to avoid people. Age has weighed heavy on me. Music I used to enjoy now annoys me. I hit periods of hopelessness when everything going on in my inner circle is fine. I don’t know what other medicine I could take to unlock me because I’m on a decent antipsychotic drug that keeps me not nuts and I can’t seem to get the VA to come off further for some much needed anxiety medication.

Many problems. It’s all interrupting my flow.

Being retired is still hard work. Oh, maybe it’s better than a lot of jobs but I have too much time to think myself into a hole. I suppose all this is not my fault; the loss of external stimuli has left me a little empty inside. I just don’t have a lot to say about anything. However, experience says I will be back. Things are cyclical and as my wife says, this too shall pass.

Escape

Hurrah! We are free of Donald Trump and his minions.

I mean, Trumpism will live on in some mutated form, no doubt about that. And there are some congressional members who may have established themselves riding on the coattails of Trump, but I think their days are numbered. What we know is that Trumpism is ultimately a political failure because its leader was soundly defeated at the ballot box, turning in such a terrible performance in the last four years that he caused a deep south state to end the public careers of its Trump loving GOP senators.

Trump’s thumb-twiddling in the White House is a mixed blessing. He was too lazy to enact his own policies, preferring instead to claw and tear at everything his successful and popular predecessor ushered in. He also allowed the coronavirus to ravage America. And he nearly caused an insurrection with irresponsible rhetoric. Nonetheless, his idleness and general lack of interest in his job was to our benefit. Thankfully he didn’t do anything monumentally stupid like start a hot war with Iran which could have ended in the nuclear fashion.

So now we have come to the part of the game where suddenly, one of the congressional parties develops a set of principles that they’d utterly abandoned while their party was in power. That’s right, the GOP has found its old hobbyhorse Deficit Hawk, and his sidekick, Unity . The fuck your feelings crew is now begging for us not to fuck their feelings, and I’m not terribly inclined to join them and I certainly don’t think Democrats should pay this twaddle any mind- not after the way Mitch McConnell brought the legislature to a grinding halt at a time when Americans needed them quite possibly more than they had ever needed them. He better go along to get along, because the filibuster can be sidestepped much in the same manner that McConnell employed to get Trump and the corporate establishment their judges. Obstruction simply will not do, and I fear that’s the only tool he has in his toolbox. The country needs a makeover, now.

All this aside, the country seems brighter already, on a surer footing than we have been in years. That’s not enough, as we are still at the bottom a ravine figuratively speaking and all we know is there’s help coming. By all appearances the Biden administration is the right fit for the tasks ahead; it’s now up to them to show the public that they can do good things with their taxes. If they whip the coronavirus in short order, they can ride that shit straight through 2024. It truly is the issue of a lifetime.

If I could just go out for tacos without worrying I’m gonna die or kill someone else, that would be great. The bar’s kinda low for me.

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.

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