Booms

Tonight as I sat in my living room, I heard the familiar booms of fireworks, which are the prelude to two more nights of people blowing off what is traditionally celebratory patriotic steam for the 4th of July. The usual parade and subsequent evening events in my community have been canceled again because of the pandemic but are scheduled to return next year. I’ve attended my share of fireworks displays in different cities and even got some photos of them as I rattled my way to Glacier National Park a couple of years ago, right through the window of my train berth.

Frankly, the first thing on my mind tonight was that I was glad I didn’t have to deal with a terrified quivering dog who needed medication to get through the evening. I had plenty of those canines in my life, poor things. More importantly, I can’t think of much to be celebrating at the moment. The news stories of the past week, coupled with the lengthy slog of the past year and a half have worn me out. I know I’m not alone. I suspect that my last nerves aren’t necessarily the same as other people’s hot button issues.

Photo credit – Nicholas Konrad/NYT

I’ve been pretty unhappy with the Supreme Court since its Trumpian shift to the right. They wield immense power over individual freedoms which they claim to revere. And yet, they had no trouble further gutting an already gouged Voting Rights Act, on the premise that they’re ensuring elections free of fraud. That, despite the fact that there has been virtually no evidence of fraud in the 2020 elections after dozens of investigations and lawsuits. Virtually none. Instead, this is a blatantly political move tied to the falsehoods that were promoted about the election before ballots were ever cast. A minority party is using legislative powers at the state level to disenfranchise millions of voters who tipped the scales at the ballot box, to ensure that they can win. Because there’s no other way for them to win. The majority of the electorate has changed and with these scams, backed by SCOTUS, they will make it as difficult as possible to allow American citizens their most essential right – casting a ballot. How does anyone except that scrambling minority feel like celebrating Independence Day and freedom with this blatant effort to deny that which is supposed to make this country the beacon for democracy? When someone can answer this question, maybe I’ll feel less soured on this charade about fraudulent elections.

Rachel Wisniewski/Reuters

How about the Cosby case? There’s the ever-present misogyny on full display in this culture. I’ve read the legal foundation behind his release. But he was convicted. Multiple women came forward and told their outrageously painful stories of what they’d suffered as victims of his sexist, privileged behavior. What message does that release send to other victims, afraid to report the crimes committed against them because the odds are that something like this miscarriage of justice will occur. Sickening. That story was followed up within days, by the one about the highest paid previous year’s Cy Young award winner being placed on administrative leave, after violent domestic and sexual allegations against him by a 27 year old woman seeking an order of protection against him. Just endless and terribly discouraging. Power in its corrupt glory.

Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Then we have the hardline Republican refusal to investigate the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The whole world watched it in real time on every news outlet on the planet. But as part of the voting fraud scam, this event is being reframed as a benign citizen visit to a beloved Congress. Forced into a unilateral investigation instead of a bi-partisan one, Nancy Pelosi has appointed the renegade Republican Liz Cheney to the investigative body to show fairness. How did Liz Cheney become a left winger? Govtrack.us shows her recent advocacy record as the following:

Ratings from Advocacy Organizations

United States Chamber of Commerce: 82%The Club for Growth: 65%League of Conservation Voters: 1%Human Rights Campaign: 0%Planned Parenthood Action Fund: 0%

Does this look like the record of a liberal to you, out of step with her Republican colleagues? When someone figures this one out, I’ll be here waiting for enlightenment.

Sporting News: Patrick Mahomes, sports world unite to support Sha’Carri Richardson: ‘Just let her run!’

WRITTEN BYJOE RIVERA

ShaCarri-Richardson-061921-Getty-FTR.jpg

Then we have the utter absurdity of banning Richardson, the 100 meter star, from running in the Olympics because marijuana turned up in one of her drug tests. I cannot understand how marijuana, being decriminalized all across the country, can be considered a performance-enhancing drug. On the same list as narcotics, anabolic agents, hormones and steroids? I haven’t checked to see if any alcohol is on the list. This organization needs to retool its rules. Think of the athletes who’ve gotten away with substance abuse for years while they scoop in millions of dollars? Unfair and absurd.

Timothy Clary/Getty Images

Let’s not forget the tax fraud case brewing against Trump Enterprises and Trump’s CFO Allen Weisselberg at the Southern District of New York. I have no doubt that there’s plenty of evidence to send someone away, at least for awhile, in the typically unfair way most white collar criminals serve time. I’d bet that it’ll be tough to get a sycophant like Weisselberg to flip in the most satisfying way – to destroy the financial empire and ruin the Trump economic pipeline. But as in The Godfather, when Frank Pentangeli was willing to die as long as his family was protected, I’d be surprised if The Donald pays for his history of tax evasion which seems to be a genetic trait in his crowd. A real shame if that’s how it turns out.

Pumpkin

All these weighty real world problems make me turn to what always provides relief and solace – nature. But that is the real elephant in the room. All the years of studies and warnings and dire predictions are right up in our faces. My beautiful song birds. Dying in droves with no explanations. We are being advised to remove our bird feeders, bleach them and handle ill or dead birds with gloves and great care. The idea of having to confront these wonderful companions in such a dreadful state is so depressing. Meanwhile, I’m struggling to understand my wayward plants, some of which arrived early, others which are absent and those which are under assault from the encroaching rodent contingent which seems to grow exponentially by day. But let me be clear. The bigger picture dwarfs my tiny concerns. I’m more terrified of the once in a millennium heat dome, as it is characterized by the Weather Channel.

The west is on fire. Crops are withering. Fires are consuming huge amounts of acreage. I read of an entire small town in British Columbia destroyed and abandoned. This natural furnace is not confined to those of us west of the Atlantic. Climate change is having its way across the globe, ready to unleash scourges of hunger, floods and wild weather which will strike unexpectedly. Adding to what is natural is the contribution of the fossil fuel industry. The site of a fire burning in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico was indeed, otherworldly. Straight out of science fiction, yet blazingly real.

Recently there have been reports released which have been classified for decades, a record of the UFO’s which ostensibly have never indicated the presence of intelligent life anywhere else in the universe. I don’t know. I think that if somewhere there are sentient creatures casting their glance in our direction, they’ve decided to bypass this planet and look for better pickings in the vast galaxies beyond our knowledge. Seems like a perfectly reasonable decision to me.

I’m going to hang out in my garden where my biggest problem is the rodents and the japanese beetles trying to denude my beautiful blooms. I suppose everyone has to make a living. Hopefully, I’ll get past my curmudgeonly mood soon. But for the moment, I’m going to ponder all this challenging stuff until I figure out a productive way to have an impact on any of it. At least I’m making a bit of light in this dark world.

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