Here we come to the end of another whole, full-fledged year, and seemingly really nothing to show for it, or even have a semblance of uplift for 2022, which from all indications might just turn out to be worse than the last two combined — never in my life have I so hope and want to be oh so wrong.
And just to make matters worse and a shitty portent for tomorrow. Betty White died this morning, a bit more than two weeks shy of her 100th birthday (Jan. 17) — yet she died after living a long, full-bore life (TMZ): ‘ A source close to Betty … she didn’t have any sudden illness, nor was she battling any particular ailment. We’re told she’s believed to have died from natural causes.‘
Obit stories all over the InterWebs. Beyond MTM in the 70s, my time with White meant her as a crazy, historical-weapons influenced anthropology professor in “Community” (the stutter-rap tune with Denny Pudi and Donald Glover is a wonder), and a crazy, skillet head-banging neighbor/legal secretary on “Boston Legal” — she was a marvel.
Miss Betty was fully alive and kicking when that photograph at the left was taken by my daughter mid March at my local Walgreens just after my very-first COVID-19 vaccine shot — BioNTech, Pfizer (second jab a month later, and was boosted with the third jab early in November).
Feeling optimistic in those days of early spring, now not so much, and maybe a little more sad, too.
I was also happy that particular day as the shot itself was pure painless, one of the least painful jabs I’d ever received, and the technician who administered it was way-proficient. The event, I so hoped, marked the beginning of the end to this horrible pandemic — at that time, there were an estimated 515,151 total COVID deaths in the US (about a year’s worth), and now it’s up to 846,902 with more daily. The Delta variant was still on down the line, and Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci, et al were calling the end of the pandemic by July.
Let down of the century. And the following days/weeks/months became current history — the Delta sprouted wings and surged all over the world while at the same time, and not too long after that happy-days pix of mine, MAGA hatters, wingnuts, generally the entire Republican party finally let loose of whatever pretense of empathic sense it once maybe carried around incognito was way-gone for way-good. Despite the reality of science, anti-vaxxers, ant-maskers, et al, will keep us from putting COVID behind us with any strong, reliable motion.
And it’s not just the virus.
Jackie Calmes in an op/ed in The LA Times this morning matches what I sense:
We can argue whether 2021 was “the least bad year of the last two years,” as “The Daily Show” claimed, considering that it began with a bloody insurrection at the Capitol and ended with U.S. COVID-19 deaths exceeding 820,000. Yet rather than debate the past, let’s look ahead to 2022 and what it could hold for the nation and its riven social fabric.
I’m mostly pessimistic.
A year ago I was among the 8 in 10 Americans who were optimistic about leaving godawful 2020 behind, only to be disappointed by 2021. Maybe the opposite will prove true, and my pessimism about the coming year will turn out to be misplaced. Time will tell …
And what about democracy and America of the last 250 years — the Guardian from Wednesday:
Far from signalling the end of Trump, 6 January proved he was only getting started.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 77-percent of Republicans believe there was “widespread fraud.” (Earlier this month an Associated Press investigation into the 2020 election found just 475 cases of voter fraud in six key battleground states. Joe Biden won those states by 311,257 votes.)
And yet, Republicans exercised by the ex-president’s lies about electoral fraud are now systematically targeting elected offices across the US. But not any elected office — specifically positions that have oversight of elections.
They are pursuing positions of high office, such as secretary of state, but also lower-ranking county-level offices across the states, from Michigan to Pennsylvania and from Texas to Georgia.
This is an entirely new threat. This is not voting suppression or gerrymandering (though those remain huge democratic obstacles which we continue to report on).
What is now taking shape across America is the machinery necessary to steal an election.
Free and fair elections are under threat. Last week, Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic secretary of state in Michigan, said about Trumpists targeting official positions with electoral oversight: “This is a five-alarm fire. If people in general, leaders and citizens, aren’t taking this as the most important issue of our time and acting accordingly, then we may not be able to ensure democracy prevails again in 2024.”
Right now we’re left with nothing. I’m not a soothsayer or anything, I am just watching the news and the real stories behind the bullshit — even in the realm of climate change. Greta Thunberg on Joe Biden and the work needed to slow-down/halt climate change (h/t LG&M): ‘“If you call him a leader — I mean, it’s strange that people think of Joe Biden as a leader for the climate when you see what his administration is doing. The U.S. is actually expanding fossil fuel infrastructure. Why is the U.S. doing that? It should not fall on us activists and teenagers who just want to go to school to raise this awareness and to inform people that we are actually facing an emergency.”‘
There’s a lot to make sense of coming across our screen every few minutes and you sometimes have to really work to keep the juice from hardening up into a PTSD-flavored mushroom cloud inside your brain.
Remember, hope springs eternal. As the kids used to say, ‘Yeah, right.’
And as a bonus, happy surprise — Abed, Troy, and Prof. June Bauer’s anthropological rap:
And to power-wagon our way out, so from whence cometh the title quote — please, let’s not be fooled again:
And once again just hours short of going onto a new calendar, here we are…
(Illustration out front: Salvador Dali’s ‘Baby Map Of The World‘ (1939), and found here).