Rash Behavior

It’s 9 a.m. on the third day in a row that I’ve thought is Friday (although that might be correct today), and I’m very slow getting started here.

I am being eaten alive. By bugs, by business, by the notion that only gains strength each day that the country I thought I’ve lived in for 58 years is really a thinly gilded veneer.

Let’s just start with the most obvious discomfort, the one where my body is once again festooned with itchy, red, dime-sized pocks. I don’t know what lives out here that doesn’t live in town, but for the second year in a row I am covered in welts. Okay, “covered” is an exaggeration, but the four on my left shoulder and the spectacular Red Spot that is a scale model of the one on Jupiter on my right shin are making their presence known omnipresently.

It’s a maddening distraction in a life filled with maddening distraction. Plus, last night — in November, mind you — I found a tick on Oz. Not some gross, bloated creature that had been feeding off him for months, but a svelte I’m-just-going-to-stick-my-head-in-and-poke-around bug that was obviously recently arrived. I did not canvas Oz’s very fluffy hide for more companions, but I’m wondering how many might be hanging around the house waiting to add to my misery.

It’s a misery heaped on by worry every time a new awareness hits me: like it or not, Pat’s Screen Printing is going to have to survive on its own. There will be no more assistance forthcoming, and some of what was given as “assistance” is now suddenly a loan that must be paid back.

Gunnison County took CARES Act money and promptly used it to create more administration, hiring an “emergency recovery coordinator.” The man who got this job spent eight of his formative summers folding t-shirts at Pat’s. He’s a good friend, but I grow exasperated at his surprise that Pat’s — a business that relies on events and large gatherings — might be struggling financially.

He asked if we’d heard anything from the GAP Fund, the egregious process the State of Colorado thought would be so fun to use to spread its share of CARES money to small businesses. As far as I know, this money still has only been awarded (probably so far still only in theory) to 500 businesses of the initial 5,500 who made requests, and nothing has been announced regarding “round two,” which I’m sure turned up even more requests and probably even fewer awards.

The governor is supposed to be calling the legislature back late this month for a special session to get more aid to small businesses, but given the disaster the state’s first effort has been, I assume the money will just sit idle until someone can figure out how to use it to hire more bureaucrats.

And at the federal level . . . well, this is where my faith in the American Way of Life has been shaken to its very core. I really — naively, I guess — had no idea we could be this craven and despotic.

There will be no funding forthcoming for small businesses, maybe ever, certainly not in the next two months. A change in regime, when we finally get there, will do nothing if Mitch McConnell and his bully boys stick with”Just Say No,” which has been the modus operandi for the past 16 years, so why would anything change now?

It obviously isn’t going to, as we watch the Republicans in the U.S. Senate stand idly by as democracy itself roars straight off a cliff.

Qui tacet consentire, as Stephen Colbert said when calling out McConnell a week or two back. In silence we are complicit.

Every day that goes by without a demand for an end to the nonsense pervading our nation’s capitol in the aftermath of a free and fair election is another chip off the block of democracy. It is also the death of another American, and the amping up of the potential for another 9/11 event that shook so many of us out of complacency that the United States was impenetrable.

When you lose Tucker Carlson’s undying, unquestioning lap-dog obeisance, you ought to know you have gone too far. When even this fomenter and enabler expresses disappointment that no shred, no iota, of evidence has been offered — when even then, the Republican majority remains silent — qui tacet consentire. You are complicit, Republicans, and yet there is apparently no shame too deep for you.

No shame in rushing thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Americans to their deaths because it’s fine to let all virus issues wait until mid-January. No shame in letting our intelligence and security infrastructure crumble so, so visibly on the world stage for every would-be terrorist, domestic and foreign, to see.

No shame in overtly attempting to overturn democracy. Just call up a duly-elected secretary of state and suggest he toss out the ballots he doesn’t agree with. Just invite state lawmakers for fast-food hamburgers at the White House. Just accept such an invitation. Just impugn the election officials of every state whose outcome was close, but not close in the way you wanted it. No matter how many down-ballot Republicans won on those exact same ballots you decry.

There are ugly, itchy red spots on my body. But this is nothing compared to the stain infecting our country. It matters now to those who will die needlessly, in today’s virus and tomorrow’s terrorist attacks, but where it’s really going to matter is that day when all these dopes and babies are long gone from the White House and someone with a modicum of intelligence in his/her brain and evil in his/her heart uses this as a blueprint to subvert and pervert everything we all once thought America was.

Qui tacet consentire.

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