The Cruelest Month

Album cover by Olga Lehmann.

In his epic poem, The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot called April the cruelest month. I beg to differ. In 2021, the cruelest month is December.

Just when we thought we were safe from the pandemic, the Omicron variant reared its ugly head. It feels like the bad old days before the vaccines. So much for ending my hermit ways.

Letting your guard down is dangerous: a friend was infected at an event I decided to skip. He told me it was the only time he’d let his guard down. The good news is that he’ll be okay. The bad news is that he was terribly ill for several days. Oh my, Omicron.

As our readers know, I’m not a worst-case scenario guy. I’ve made an exception for the pandemic. Cock-eyed optimism is potentially lethal, especially in a country overrun by anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. To quote another Eliot poem:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was written in 1915 before the Spanish Influenza pandemic. But that passage seems eerily premonitive.

It’s unclear how severe or long-lasting the Omicron variant will be. It’s clearly the most contagious with break-through infections popping up everywhere. I hope that those who say Omicron is milder are right. But I’ve placed my optimism in a blind trust alongside Mike Pence’s manhood. Oh my, Omicron.

I’ve always been more of a prose than a poetry person, but I like Eliot’s work, his abominable politics aside. The Waste Land was dedicated to his friend and fellow poet Ezra Pound. An admirer of Mussolini, Pound went full-tilt Fascist. Ugh, just ugh.

There’s another reason I’m proclaiming December the cruelest month: Joe Manchin’s announcement that he will not support the Build Back Better bill. To twist the knife, he made the statement on Fox News. Initially, I was inclined to write it off as more smack talk since Manchin cannot STFU.

It was impossible to dismiss it as loose talk after the White House issued a statement that accused Manchin of negotiating in bad faith:

On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.

Politely worded but still strong stuff.  If the BBB patient was “etherized on a table” Manchin smothered it with a pillow. It might as well be supplied by the My Pillow Guy because this latest move only benefits the GOP.

As much as I hate to say it, I disagree with those who are calling for Manchin’s expulsion from the Democratic caucus. He deserves it but that would make Mitch McConnell majority leader. Why add insult to injury? That’s why the Fifty-Fifty senate sucks the big one.

Joe Manchin is a captive of the inside-the-beltway Conventional Wisdom. The CW is usually wrong but rarely as spectacularly as it is now. The worshippers of the CW continue to treat the party of the Dipshit Insurrection as if it were a normal political party.

These Washington insiders remind me of the German royalists and industrialists who thought they could control Nazi excesses or of the British aristocrats who thought appeasement would placate Hitler. The world paid a terrible price for a CW that turned out to be so horribly wrong. Feeding the Nazi beast only made it hungrier.

If Joe Manchin were a cultured man, I would suspect him of wanting us to substitute his name for that of a famous artist in this Prufrock passage:

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

Manchin not only represents a coal state, he’s protecting his own pocketbook by euthanizing the BBB. There’s a chance that elements of the bill can be passed by Congress, but that’s all the hope I’ve got for you.

Merry Fucking Christmas from Joe Manchin.

Repeat after me: December is the cruelest month. Oh my, Omicron.

Back to The Waste Land. This pessimistic post has gone on long enough to evoke Eliot’s refrain: “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME.”

In an attempt to dispel the gloomy spell cast by this post, “let us go then you and I” and give Yes the last word:

One thought on “The Cruelest Month

  1. “As much as I hate to say it, I disagree with those who are calling for Manchin’s expulsion from the Democratic caucus. He deserves it but that would make Mitch McConnell majority leader. Why add insult to injury? That’s why the Fifty-Fifty senate sucks the big one.”

    [Are you sure it not the two party system that helped this along?]

    I am not a parent living in West Virginia while trying to raise children, so I can only imagine what it must feel like to hear the claims the reason Senator Manchin is saying he will not vote for the bill is because he thinks the parents will not use the money they were to receive for raising their children (part of the bill), but will instead spend it on ‘hookers and blow’. Then after that sinks in, to find out that the party he belongs to does nothing. Why in the world should they ever vote for this party? And not just the ones in West Virginia, why would any parent? He was not using the press to negotiate, he betrayed his constituents. That sticks with the whole party.

    Okay, I suppose it is easy to toss rocks without offering a solution, so here is a quick one:

    The Democratic Party has seemed like their emphasis has been on the BBB and its companion infrastructure plans, with a back-burner plan for voting rights and now probably, maybe abortion and women’s rights. Then they would coast on their own coattails until the next national election cycle. So, …

    1.) Have the Senate Majority Leader Schumer have a round the clock session to fill the remaining empty judicial seats. If there are any blocks, submit another nomination and keep doing so, never stop. While this is happening, have a chat with Justice Breyer to see if his thoughts about his situation have changed. This is important, but maybe not as important. (#1)

    2.) After item 1.) is finished, bring the BBB, voting rights bill(s) and abortion rights – women’s right bills to the floor for votes. Make these people show the people in the states they represent where they stand. Make them say it out loud.

    If Senator Manchin does indeed vote ‘no’ on these bills, strip him of his committee assignments, etc. Additionally, declare an immediate ban of fossil fuel exports due to national security reasons — the DOD has identified climate change as a national security threat, for some time now, even while president Trump held office. There are not as many West Virginians working the the coal industry as there used to be.

    Even if Senator Manchin changes parties, it will not matter, having Senator McConnell as Senate Majority leader for the time remaining until the next election is no different than what he is currently doing, keeping his party from supporting the big legislation as well as supporting the two (and maybe other0 recalcitrant senators in their actions to stop the Democratic Party’s agenda. Remember in the next national election, the Republicans have to defend more Senate seats than the Democrats do. The Democrats and Independents will have policies to run for and a target to run against.

    (#1) If Justice Breyer retires with Senator McConnell as majority leader, then we can find out what that part in the Constitution concerning the Senate’s role in Supreme Court nominations being ‘advise and consent’ really means. That does not read ‘refuse to act’. So President Biden could tell the nominee to take the seat anyway.

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