We live in strange times, which I realize is something of an understatement. But given the rarity of understatements in the current climate I am now a full-bore and unapologetic campaigner for understatements wherever, and whenever, I can find them.
For instance, I was amused to learn yesterday that the US government, in its unassailable wisdom, now has a plan to send a KN95 mask to every citizen in the United States. The masks are made in China, where the virus was also made, which is strange enough, but what’s even more absurd is that masks (KN95s, Medical Masks, Cloth, Visors, Garbage Sacks, Shoes, Buckets, Tyvek hoodies, et. al) don’t prevent the virus from spreading. We KNOW this, and yet we continue clutching at these baby blankets for some level of solace. Or maybe it’s more like the American Cheese challenge, which I saw recently on a Tik Tok video. I am not a subscriber but these things sometimes filter into my universe, and in this particular challenge parents are encouraged to toss a slice of American Cheese on a crying baby’s head. Because American Cheese is really just pliable rubber the slice sticks to the kid’s head and it stops crying. In the video it worked magically–every time–to get the kid to pipe down. Having observed and noted the many flip flops and backtracks and just plain false declarations spewing out of the US Government, and in particular that morally bankrupt and fraudulent Herr Fauci, and at the same time having tracked the general public’s recent tendency toward wild tantrums, it’s hard not to see this latest move as a slice of American Cheese being casually flipped, from the balcony–as it were–onto the foreheads of the Big American Cry Baby.
Importantly, KN95 masks don’t stop the virus because they don’t filter the air you exhale—and as we all know by now–and despite Biden’s claim that vaccinated people “won’t get the disease,” even a fully vaxxed and boosted person can both catch and spread the disease. I’d love to follow the money on this, but who, honestly, has the time for that sort of investigation? We know masks are merely costuming, and yet Americans everywhere continue to slap a slice of American Cheese on their face and prance about, emboldened by some bizarre notion of being in control. The worst of them enjoy signaling to the world how much they care for their neighbors. That it’s utter hogwash no longer matters—what definitely matters is the theater of it all, because just as we have learned to mistake policy for law, we now routinely mistake movement for action.
Earlier this week I was in a coffee shop, writing and tearing into a toasted bagel and slurping up a wonderful Chocolate Mocha, when I had an opportunity to eavesdrop on a nearby table. This kind of field work is the principle reason I enjoy writing in diners and coffee shops, by the way. Anyway, a man at the table was railing against his recent experience in a grocery store, where some heinously unmasked people were handling the vegetables, knocking about for ripe avocados and the like, when to his utter horror he realized that “By God they were breathing on them!” The man was incensed and worked himself into a kind of indignant froth. He was, of course, breathing all over the coffee shop, creating a veritable cloud of potentially infectious spittle, but never mind all that. And then he rose, with an angry scrape of his chair across the tile, to conduct a bible study upstairs.
I noted also that in his fury at those who had refused to wear their slice of American Cheese while handling avocados that he had left his own slice, a sad and even disgusting thing–almost like a dead rodent–on his chair when he left.
So there’s that.
I have endeavored, mostly, to avoid writing about the virus chaos, mostly for the preservation of my own sanity, but I’ve never NOT taken it seriously. Having survived Swine Flu a number of years ago–which is the absolute worst I have ever felt–I don’t underestimate diseases or their lethality. I’ve been vaccinated against many diseases, mostly as a result of military service and world travel. It’s an impressive list: Adenovirus, Hep A&B, Influenza, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, Meningococcal, Polio, Tetanus-Diptheria, Varicella, Anthrax, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Pneumococcal, and Smallpox. We can add Covid to that list though I was reluctant and, in the end, only did it because my wife’s employment required it and I would never expect her to do something that I wouldn’t. That sounds like an attempt at heroic rationalization–it isn’t. In the end I made my choice for me. In the end it hardly mattered, she was escorted out of the building after the State of Oregon moved the goalposts yet again and began requiring weekly testing on top of jabs. She told them, and I am proud of her for it, to shove their little testing kit up their asses. She actually told the presiding judge that, to my endless and utter joy for having married a Serb.
And now all of that hardly matters because we can still get the disease and still spread it and life is back at square one, though she has an even better job now closer to home, which says something about the law of unintended consequences.
Also, I don’t care if you get it or don’t get it. You are an adult. If you don’t get it and something bad happens to you maybe you will wonder if you should have. I hope nothing bad happens to you. If you do get it, shut up about it. You are nobody’s hero. You didn’t do it for your neighbor, you did it for you, and if you feel vindicated or somehow righteous when someone else gets sick–go stick your head in an oven.
What I’ve watched and tried to avoid are the mad, declarative, and righteous rushes to the podium that have come with this particular scourge. My concern has always been–and remains–with those who would use the true evils of the virus to cement an even greater evil: political powers beyond their constitutional authority. Wherever policy becomes de-facto law the constitution, that handy little document that is meant to preserve your rights against the intrusion of government–is threatened. I saw this phenomenon frequently in police work, where department policy trumped state law and put both citizens and officers in some very odd and uncomfortable circumstances. An officer is sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution–not the Deputy Chief’s policy whims. And if you know anything about Deputy Chiefs, you know that they all–and I mean every last one of them–sit in their offices moving chess pieces around while wearing pink g strings and with their feet stuffed into knee-high boots full of vaseline.
So I am heartened that the Supreme Court has batted down some of the most egregious violations of the relationship between a government and its citizens, and I’m hopeful people will realize–which they should have from the beginning–that once this virus escaped from a lab, or a pangolin, or whatever weird place it came from–it is now with us forever. There is no hiding. There is no social distancing, there is no slice of American Cheese, that will make it go away. If we are guided mostly by that realization, and are focused on directing meaningful resources where they are most needed, we might dramatically lesson the endless rush to embrace moral and political absurdities, and we may also weaken the temptation to power that so many politicians–and quacks like Herr Fauci–would love to seize in perpetuity.
And now, because we need a few things from the grocer, I’m going to slap a Kraft Single on my face and bravely sally forth into the very dangerous world.