Sunday, August 15, 2021

questions run so deep

Jim Henson once supposedly said, "there are many situations in this life that I can't do much about, so what I should do is concentrate on the situations that my energy can affect." Fine, but sometimes you're called upon to express your opinion, as with voting. So here are some things I can't affect that are nevertheless on my mind.

1. The California gubernatorial recall. The ballots are now being sent out, so I expect some advice to be coming for those of us opposed to the recall for whom we should vote for as the replacement should it pass anyway. So far all I've seen are polls, which aren't advice, and one columnist suggesting that we write in the name of the Lieutenant Governor.
Meanwhile, here's an argument that it'd be unconstitutional for a replacement to be elected by fewer votes than were given to retain the existing governor. The authors suggest a lawsuit be brought. But they're both Californians, and law professors to boot, so why don't they bring it? But how do you sue to stop an election because of how it might come out?

2. In other polities, Justin Trudeau has had a general election called in Canada. I think I know what he's doing. He's following his father's footsteps. Pierre Trudeau was first elected with a gigantic majority. So was Justin. Pierre called an election 4 1/2 years later. So did Justin. Pierre was returned but with a minority government. So was Justin. Slightly less than two years after that, Pierre called another election. So did Justin. Pierre won another hefty majority and went on to another five years in office. Will it be Justin time again?

3. For those of a certain age, the fall of Kabul immediately after US troops leave is reminiscent of the fall of Saigon under similar circumstances. And I have the same response: if, after all those years, all those lives and all that money and all that effort, our puppet government can't maintain even a little resistance, then we weren't accomplishing anything by being there and should have left long ago. (And why didn't we? Same reason as Vietnam.) Propping up a corrupt and rotting tent with our lifeblood is not what the US should be doing, and certainly not twice.

4. In pandemic news, my county is listed as one of three in the state with a vaccination rate of over 80%. That's of the total population. I guess we're about as safe as you can get. Yes, but here's an article lining up testimonies that if you're vaccinated and get covid, it's not that bad. I'm not taking that as assurance.

5. A few blocks from here, there was a shooting at a massive Instagram-fueled house party. Turns out it was an illegal Airbnb rental, the third such shooting at such a party in such a rental in our area in the last year. Has Airbnb promised to crack down on this? Of course. Have they? Apparently not. What startles me is that, in our city, "bookings are limited to four guests, and hosts are required to be on-site at rentals." That rule would have made illegal our rental of the shark house in Oxford for a party of Americans visiting the Bodleian's Tolkien exhibit. There were, how many? eight? of us, and we picked up the keys from a lockbox. What's more, one evening we had a couple friends over and invited one of them to stay overnight on the couch to save himself the long drive home. Was that technically a party? We were quiet, and we didn't shoot anybody ...

6. Potential collapse of the Atlantic Ocean circulation system: less apocalyptic article, more apocalyptic article, take your choice. But I'm not surprised, any more than I was by Katrina: we've known for decades if not longer that this was possible. The frosting on the cake will be if Europe freezes, then all the nutcakes will come up and say that global warming is a hoax because it's cooler.

7. Article on "Karens" (entitled and belligerent white women) that even attempts a sociological explanation of why they're called by that name. But none of the "Karens" I've read about in the news are actually named Karen. There's an Alison, Teresa, Hilary, Amy, Lisa, Patricia ... but no Karen. All the Karens I know are upright people whom I don't believe would do anything like this. (Mind, I do know some people whom I would believe capable of something like this - but they're not named Karen.) Libel on a good name.

8. I've gotten some blowback on my "Both of these stories are true" post, the one saying that police can be both horrid villains and brave heroes, that U.S. history contains both terrible sins and high ideals. But some are wedded to telling only one story; since most (not all, I know) of my readers are on the left, they lean towards the first story in each case. I think that either they fear that if the second story is told it will undercut the first, or that the existence of the first story somehow negates the second. But it doesn't. Both of these stories are true.
You won't hear any arguments from me about how iniquitous the police can be. But if their actions in response to BLM protests and the like are what have caused you to disdain them, you're decades, nay centuries, late. The police have always been like that. Some of us remember Chicago in '68. Even before there were modern police, in Britain they used the army for crowd control and didn't that go well.
But at the same time we have the acts that prove the panicked shooting of Black men is unnecessary, and that's the frequent cases of cops bravely approaching unhinged gun-wavers and talking them down, confiscating their weapons, and taking them into custody - so long as those gun-wavers are white. And we have January 6, which also featured both villainy and great heroics from the police. Both of these stories are true.
As for U.S. history, if we tell only of slavery and genocide, we leave out the First and Fourteenth Amendments, beacons for rights-seekers to this day. There's both evil and honor here. Both of these stories are true.

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