Friday, December 31, 2021

Looking Back on 2021, Trenchant Thoughts

Year-end reviews are a hallowed practice of journalists. With that in mind, here are trenchant thoughts contained in some of my 89 blog postings listed by the date they appeared: 

January 1—When 74 million can vote for a man who has based his whole life on selfishness and greed, who sets an example of grifting, bullying and denigration, who abdicates responsibility, who demands personal fealty over loyalty to the nation, we are a country infected by a condition much more deadly than a pathogen. … The tasks facing Joe Biden as president in three weeks are no less comparable than the labors of Hercules. Perhaps the most difficult will be instilling in everyone a sense of collective obligation, of compassion and empathy. 

January 14—Words that define Trump’s presidency: Wall; Impeachment; Fake News; Pussy (from his “Access Hollywood” tape to how he said Mike Pence would “go down in history as a pussy” if he didn’t throw out Electoral College votes for Biden. … As long as a sizable majority of Republican voters believe Democrats stole the election from Trump; as long as some 150 Republican congresspeople live in districts carved out to assure their election by rabid right wing voters, thus negating any need for them to speak truth to their constituencies; as long as Republicans fear even an out-of-office Trump and express more fealty to him than they do to the Constitution, Trump will be around to torment the democratic process and values honed over 244 years. 

January 19—I am proud that during these last four years I never once wrote the title “president” immediately followed by Trump’s name. … A presidency that began with an inaugural address characterized as “carnage in America” has ended that way. 

January 21—Trump’s army of deplorables, yes, deplorables, savaged our democratic heritage of the peaceful transition of power. … We should, in an ironic fashion, be thankful to Trump for providing visual evidence of the dangers of demagoguery. We should thank him for informing us to the susceptibility and receptivity of vast swaths of the population to manipulation. We no longer can be holier-than-thou when addressing undemocratic actions in foreign lands. Trump’s not so subtle flirtation with white supremacists has lifted the veil on racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant, misogyny and homophobia so prevalent in our society. … We should be thankful that Trump and his toadies in Congress showed us being president can place one above the law. 

January 21—As long as leaders of the Trumpian Republican Party continue to profess and expound white supremacist ideas, Biden’s hope for unity will be an unattainable dream.  

January 22—The toughest part of the (vaccination) experience was securing appointments for the inoculations.

January 26—I’ve noticed that most of my email and Facebook friends have had their outrage soothed by Joe Biden’s inauguration. Regrettably, some Trumpers among my feeds live on in a delusional reality.

January 26—Too bad Trump failed to realize that vaccines not injected into people’s arms were as worthless as degrees from Trump University. Trump’s handling of the pandemic crisis is another example of his overall business history—all sizzle with no substance. Unfortunately, from this failure more than 420,000 have died. So many could have been saved if Trump publicly took the crisis seriously and advocated wearing masks. 

February 1—There have been incidents of airline passengers refusing to wear masks in flight…One easy solution would be to permanently ban anyone from future flights if they don’t wear a mask. They should be placed on a FAA no flight list. Extreme? Yes, but necessary.

February 2—This is the sorry state of politics today. Principled compromise is rejected. Extremism rules. Champions of the former choose retirement.

February 3—In these politicized times, Republican senators will latch onto any reason to acquit (Trump of impeachment). The fear they felt January 6, as rioters broke through barriers and ransacked desks and offices, pales in comparison to the fear of revenge they believe would come their way from Trump and his legions if they vote to convict.

February 11—As long as Republicans remain afraid to stand up to Trump, our country will be terrorized by him.

February 17—As quoted in his The New York Times obituary, (Rush) Limbaugh said, “I have talent on loan from God.” Apparently, the loan came due Wednesday.

February 23—Is a prejudice unknown still a prejudice? Are we now to scrutinize all playthings for their prejudicial development? Did Barbie sexualize young girls? Did Candy Land foster obesity and tooth decay. Did GI Joe glorify war. Did Ralphie’s fixation with getting a Red Ryder Air Rifle in “A Christmas Story” stoke allegiance to the National Rifle Association? Sensibilities are being “woked.” … What I find most troubling with counter culture idealists is their failure to accept personal growth and development among people who they believe do not deserve reverence because at some point in their lives, usually when they were younger, they exhibited some form of prejudice, even if it was an accepted form of behavior at the time.

February 26—Which Joe is president of the United States? Joe Biden or Joe Manchin? … Having a rogue player amidst the Democratic caucus will surely result in failure to maintain control of Congress, failure to win re-election and, more importantly, the failure of our nation to rebound from the distress Trump’s ineptitude and ego left us in.

March 12—Eliminate the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to end debate in the Senate. Get rid of it before Republican leader Mitch McConnell does it to you next time the GOP controls the Senate with less than 60 senators.   

March 21—When will we accept the reality women face—discrimination that too often leads to violence (physical and emotional) in the workplace and at home? … Let’s keep in mind that even the most popular book ever sold, and presumably read, is full of cultural norms Western society would find repulsive. The Bible contains such inappropriate themes as fratricide, incest, idolatry, sedition, rebellion, vengeance, genocide, slavery. And, of course, misogyny.

April 21—This crime [the killing of George Floyd by Policeman Derek Chauvin] was no split second reaction to imminent danger. Floyd had no weapon. No gun. No knife. He was pinned to the ground, arms cuffed behind his back. He was helpless to prevent his life from being snuffed out. His cries that he could not breathe went unheeded by Chauvin and, indeed, the three other policemen at the scene, two of whom helped keep Floyd motionless. 

May 12—When one wonders how a civilized, educated society such as Germany of the 1920s and 1930s could have fallen so rapidly, so completely, into the barbarism and depravity of the Third Reich, one need only contemplate the transformation of the Republican Party that once stood up for human rights, international relations, free markets and the rule of law.

May 13—To combat lies, silence is not golden, it is an enabler.

May 26—Alternate realities are cultivated little by little, small lies followed by big lies. … It is a small reality check that pictures no longer can be trusted. Soviet-era photo manipulation is now available to anyone with a computer.

June 3—Despite warning from health officials that the pandemic is not over, caution has been discarded to vent a year of pent up demand for pleasure. 2021 has become a year of living dangerously. 

June 24—Elections after (2022) may be as free and fair as they are in Russia if complacency keeps Democrats, Independents and patriotic Republicans away from the ballot box in 2022.

July 11—The winning word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year was “Murraya.”

July 20—Do we really need to indulge millionaires and billionaires seeking an out of this world high when so many citizens of our planet suffer from poverty and its related illnesses. … Explore underwater farming. How’s this for untapped potential?—“The United Nations estimates that the world could easily be fed if just 2% of oceans were used for sustainable farming.”

July 29—The most damning revelation in books about Trump’s last days in the White House is not that he praised Hitler. The most damning thing is that his legion of followers remains loyal.

August 16—They (Afghani military) cared more about surviving than the fate of their country or their fellow countrymen, especially the women who will be forced to return to living in a 21st century Dark Ages.

August 18—The lesson to be learned (from Afghanistan) is that our support for any government must be linked to the values we share. If our clients are corrupt, oppressive, dictatorial, we should expect a groundswell of opposition to form that could take months, years, or decades to topple the status quo and with it America’s standing in the world.

August 30—A nation that defeated or contained the scourges of polio, measles, smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases has resisted in dramatic fashion the miraculous development of COVID-19 vaccines. People, who for years have adhered to merchant and restaurant rules to wear shoes and shirts if they want service, vocally and forcefully have challenged mask wearing in private and public enterprises. 

September 6—The richest, most productive country in the history of mankind is a hollow shell. We have let our infrastructure decay. We have outsourced much of our manufacturing prowess and the solid jobs that underpinned the middle class. Many want to close our doors to immigrants—especially refugees—who, our history has shown, are among the most creative and industrious of our workers. The long march to equality of opportunity to vote, to learn, to work, to enjoy decent housing, to tap into quality healthcare, has been stymied by political and judicial roadblocks. 

September 11—20 years after 9/11, what kind of nation are we?

October 23—COVID-19 has exposed us to more than just an insidious germ that can kill. It has revealed a failure of national resolve, an absence of shared purpose.

November 3—The failure of Democrats on a national level to coalesce around meat and potato issues that could improve voters’ lives has left them vulnerable to unending local criticisms, and, just as pointedly, to the belief they do not know how to govern, that they just want to appease strident radical interest groups. 

December 7—What is the true nature of American character? Is it an E Pluribus Unum ideal or a mythologized Western movie psyche that values the individual over collective responsibility? 

December 29—With daily reports that hospitals are overwhelmed, with staff near burnout status, perhaps we need to implement a triage approach: Given a choice between treating a vaccinated patient or an unvaxxed one, admit the former to intensive care. Send the unvaccinated home.

December 31—Happy and Healthy New Year!