The country is suffering. The airlines are melting down before our eyes as they cannot keep staff on the job due to outages from Covid infections. Pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, and desk staff are all calling in sick. The lines to get tested are long IF you can actually get an appointment to get tested. I had one with my doctor’s office. It was canceled the night before because they did not have personnel to administer the tests and 20% of the clinic staff was out on sick leave. What will happen in the schools after winter break is unclear, but several major universities are returning to distance learning which is second class learning at best. The one thing parents have learned from the pandemic is that home schooling is no substitute for the classroom. To be honest, the virus has brought us to our knees in a fashion that no terrorist attack ever could have. We are a shadow of our former selves. We have become a nation of wounded sheep waiting illness, lining up for a test, helpless before a flight board in any airport in the country.
It is now clear that President Biden’s proposed social omnibus spending bill that passed the House along partisan lines is unlikely to be passed by the Senate even using the rules of reconciliation requiring just 50 votes. That’s because West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not going to vote for the bill. He informed a Fox News audience of this.
In the above opinion piece from The New York Times on December 21 Nobel laureate Paul Krugman bemoans the fact that the Build Back Better Bill is likely to go down because as he says its non-passage would:
“Condemn millions of American children to poor health and low earnings in adulthood—because that’s what growing up in poverty does.”
“Condemn millions more to inadequate medical care and financial ruin if they got ill, because that’s what happens when people lack adequate health insurance.”
“Condemn hundreds of thousands…to unnecessary illness and premature death from air pollution.”
He’s right, but that’s not my point today.
I took a trip to the northeast on December 11. It was my younger sister’s 70th birthday and her husband was having a surprise party for her. I couldn’t miss that even if it meant traveling to Pittsburgh as winter approached.
As soon as I walked out the door of the air terminal toward the car rental area I remembered. I remembered the northeast in winter. The sun hangs low and the sky is grey. Of course, it was cold, but the natives thought the wind-blown forties was actually mild for this time of year. They were right. The following morning it was 32 and there were patches of ice by the side of the road, even though the sky was a painted Carolina blue. Of course, on so many levels, I froze.
These have become the four worst words in the English language.
You make a telephone call hoping for service from a real human being, preferably one not sitting in a call center in Mumbai. Instead, you have to go through a series of menus, pressing various keys on your cell phone and finally being placed on a one-hour hold, BUT, “if you would prefer not to wait, you can get excellent service and answers to all of your questions by going to our website” says the recorded message. Personally, I have had enough of this nonsense.
At least two blog readers have taken me to task about my piece on December 15 called “A Nation Divided.” In that blog post I discuss the various factions within the Democratic and Republican Parties and how they are at war with one another. The two critics pointed to a group I neglected. They both called it the Silent Majority, a term that harkens back to 1968 and the Nixon campaign for President during the turbulent years of the protests against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. Then, Nixon’s claim was that there was a huge swath of Americans who were middle of the road conservatives who were not protesting anything and thus were being ignored. He appealed to these people who he called the Silent Majority and he won. Twice.
One of the issues being batted around in the blogosphere and elsewhere is what was the truth about World War II and the American involvement therein. Books like Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation and TV shows like Band of Brothers and movies like Saving Private Ryan glorify and emphasize the righteousness of the American cause and how that patriotism was embodied in the everyday foot soldier of WW II. More revisionist historians paint a far uglier picture of a horrible war and the real sentiment of the American GI to get it over with and get home. The latter must be somewhat true given the deep reluctance Americans had about entering the European war that had begun two years before until Pearl Harbor. Then we were all in.
“Both Sides Now” is a famous folk song made popular by Judy Collins in the 1960s. The song was written by Joni Mitchell and its original name was “Clouds.” The singer relates the meaning of clouds, love and life and it kick started the career of both women. But cloud has a whole new meaning now.
In the cloud is where my son Andrew lives. He works in the cloud for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the attached is the video he just produced for AWS and its customer Rubicon. I find it fascinating and not just because my son produced it. It shows how the cloud is being employed by Rubicon which services the waste management needs of municipalities (in this case Santa Fe, New Mexico) in making the collection of garbage and recycling operationally efficient, cost effective and carbon footprint neutral. As I understand it, it is the computing power of Amazon Web Services that allows such projects to take flight and part of my son’s job (I think) is to convince more end users and middle level providers to utilize the power of the cloud to provide their customers with better service as well as keep the environment as clean as possible.
It is both sad and undeniable that the United States and its government are hopelessly divided between two groups. Loosely, these two groups correspond to the two major political parties, but it’s not that simple for it’s really more than two groups.
The United States was not designed to be a democracy. It’s a representative government and an unfair one at that because the electors who actually determine who is to be President do not represent the same number of voters. Usually, the electors from the smaller states represent fewer people than the electors from the larger states because each state, regardless of its size, has at least three electors (one for each senator and representative in Congress) and in Wyoming that translates into far fewer citizens per elector than in California. Nonetheless, that’s the system in the Constitution.
Readers of this blog know that there are a couple of recurrent themes that I write about. Guns is certainly one. I’m against them except for policemen, soldiers, and hunters. But there are others and a trial going on in California right now illustrates one of my favorites or really two of my favorites: conflict of interest and fraud among the rich and powerful.
As most of you will remember, Elizabeth Holmes was the much praised, black turtlenecked, deep-voiced, blonde bombshell CEO of Theranos, a company that purported to have developed a machine that would allow multiple clinical tests to be done on a single drop of blood