I’m a tad brain-weary this morning. I worked as an election volunteer yesterday–15 hours of civic duty helping people vote on a school board issue–so rather than attempt to organize some coherent thought on a single subject or theme, I’m just going to natter on for a bit.
First Thought: The election was briefly disrupted yesterday by a pipe bomb. That’s right, some fuckwit placed a pipe bomb outside one of the election sites (not the one at which I volunteered). That’s right, a pipe bomb. A fucking pipe bomb. Over an election on how the local school district should spend its capital improvement funds. You know, do we want to improve classrooms and build new playground equipment–issues like that. We don’t know who planted the bomb (yet) or what his motives were (and yeah, I’m assuming it’s a guy…sue me), but to me it seems likely the would-be bomber will turn out to be some young Trump-crazed asshole who thinks the best way to ‘protect democracy’ is to attack elections.
The good news is the local police acted quickly. A bomb squad from the Fire Marshall’s office showed up (as did the ATF and the FBI), and safely detonated the bomb. The bomb was found around 0920 and the election site was back up and helping voters by 1230. That makes me proud. The polling site was only closed for three hours. That’s the best way to say ‘Fuck you’ to the bomber.
Second Thought: Speaking of civic pride, there’s a village in Perthshire, Scotland called Aberfeldy. It’s just a small market village on the River Tay, population a wee bit under 2000. The name Aberfeldy comes from the Pictish term aber meaning ‘the mouth of a river’ and the Gaelic Peallaidh, which translates as ‘shaggy’. But–and this is SO cool–Pealladh is also the name of a local fay being which is said to abide in the river. ‘The shaggy one’ is considered a harmless sub-species of fuath, the generic class of Scots spirits/sprites that inhabit the sea, tidal rivers, fresh water rivers, and lochs.
You’re probably asking, “Greg, old sock, what’s all that fae business got to do with civil pride?” It’s a good question (and stop calling me ‘old sock’). Here’s the answer: this village, inhabited by fewer than two thousand souls and one water sprite, has the most astonishing water fountain in the town square. Just look at that beauty. It was donated in 1885 by the Marquis of Breadalbane (no, really, Breadalbane, isn’t that a great name?). Now THAT is civic pride. Even Robert Burns (and there is nobody more Scottish than Burns) appreciated this little village. He wrote a poem called The Birks of Aberfeldy.
Now Simmer blinks on flowery braes,
And o’er the crystal streamlets plays;
Come let us spend the lightsome days,
In the birks of Aberfeldy!
Third Thought: Among the many stupid, hateful, vindictive, anti-democracy voting laws Republicans are pushing through state legislatures this year, this one stands out. The Georgia GOP wants to interpret an existing law that prohibits giving or receiving money/gifts for registering voters, or voting for a particular candidate to include folks handing out snacks or water to voters standing in long lines while waiting to vote.
It’s not enough to make it harder for certain groups to vote, it’s not enough to reduce their opportunities to vote, it’s not enough to reduce the hours in which they can vote, the Georgia GOP also wants to punish anybody who tries to ease the burden of voting. If there’s a Hell (and I’m afraid I don’t believe there is), there ought to be an especially severe section for deliberately cruel and corrupt politicians.
That would also include governors (and I’m particularly thinking of the singularly vile governor of Texas here, though the governors of Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, and Mississippi are very nearly as horrible) who knowingly and willfully put the health and safety of their citizens at risk. Abbott of Texas not only completely lifted ALL Covid precautions statewide, his order also prohibited city and/or county governments from requiring masks or limiting business operation. He basically ordered them to stop doing anything to protect their citizens.
Abbott did this while his state is still averaging over 200 Covid deaths each day. Texas has the the third-highest Covid body count in the country. It’s 45th among states in terms of the percentage of the population that’s been vaccinated. And by the way, every Republican member of Congress from Texas opposes Uncle Joe’s Covid relief bill. They know they can vote against it and still benefit from the cash when Democrats pass it. That’s how awful they are.
Remember when Comrade President Trump decided to stop federal funding for ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ that ‘refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities’? He was talking about states and cities that refused to call the National Guard to stop Black Lives Matters protests. But maybe that idea has some merit. Maybe Uncle Joe should consider limiting funding for anarchist jurisdictions that refuse to undertake reasonable measures to counteract the pandemic.
I wonder if Republicans would object to that.
Okay, remember when I started this post? I said I was too brain weary to ‘attempt to organize some coherent thought on a single subject or theme’? It turns out my brain was organizing stuff without my knowledge. Turns out there WAS a theme. Civic duty. Civic pride. Civic responsibility. Civic pride isn’t about being ‘the best’ or ‘first among’ or any of that ‘We’re Number One!’ sort of nonsense; it’s about putting in the effort to make the lives of your citizens a bit better. Civic pride is helping your people vote, it’s keeping your people safe, it’s a ridiculously ornate water fountain in a small village.
Civic pride. Governor Abbott doesn’t have any. The jackass who planted the pipe bomb doesn’t have any. The village of Aberfeldy does. “Come, let us spend the lightsome days / In the birks of Aberfeldy.” There are no lightsome days when you’re loading bodies into refrigerated trucks.