Little Dark Age 

"If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other." — Ulysses S. Grant.

As I write this, it's the day after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, 24 hours after politicians like 8th District Congressman David Kustoff and Senator Marsha Blackburn release their annual pious MLK quotes on Twitter. Because if anyone exemplifies the ideals of Dr. King, it's Republicans who supported the overturning of a presidential election in order to appease the deluded, hateful supporters of a narcissistic would-be autocrat.

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Kustoff had the utter audacity to cite this King quote: "Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." Are you kidding me? Tell it to your friends who were at the Capitol last week, David. Tell it to the president whose boots you licked. I expect this kind of stuff from Blackburn, who's been a lightweight and sellout for years. But Kustoff is smarter than Blackburn. He knows better. His cynical embrace of Trump's corruption and lies is appalling.

Today is also the day before President-elect Joe Biden gets inaugurated in front of — what? — 300 people? Thanks to Kustoff's and Blackburn's pals, the ignorant yahoos who destroyed the Capitol a couple weeks ago, this year's inauguration will feature a "crowd" made up of 25,000 troops. Trump won't be there, having pardoned a bunch of sleazos before hopping a jet to Mar-a-Lago for some well-deserved R&R before his Senate impeachment trial. But there will be some good news for him: His only inaugural crowd will no doubt have been larger than Biden's. Sean Spicer, wherefore art thou?

This new administration and this new Congress and Senate take over a country in chaos. Millions of Americans are unemployed, facing eviction, a lack of food and money, and an epidemic that will have killed half-a-million of us by the end of February, roughly a year after we were told by President Trump that it would "just go away."

It's a country in which more than 70 million people bought into the Trump fever-dream, a twisted vision that tapped into fear and latent anger more effectively than most of us imagined was possible. Take a minute to think about what Trump (and his political and media enablers) convinced his base to fear and/or distrust: any Democrat, any liberal, immigrants of color, journalists and most major media outlets, Black people, Mexicans, Antifa, "cancel culture," mail-in voting, the American electoral system, scientists and medical experts, the Justice department, military leaders ... I could go on.

Joe Biden says he wants to unite the country. I wish him luck. Maybe start with bringing back some iteration of the Fairness Doctrine, some sort of legislation that will ensure that knowingly broadcasting lies and disinformation on public airways or providing a place for it on the internet won't be tolerated. It's not just Fox News or OANN. It's Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, you name it. There has to be some sort of recalibration, some way to monitor this stuff. Too many people are being radicalized by lies and false conspiracies. The fact that millions of people actually bought into the insanity of QAnon is itself astounding and terrifying.

Similarly, the Big Lie about Trump "winning in a landslide" was allowed to be spread unchecked in too many places by too many people without pushback or fact-checking. We'll be dealing with the fallout from it for quite some time. Thanks, David and Marsha. Good work.

Now that we have some vaccines that work, we have to figure out how to get the medicine into as many Americans as quickly as possible. The Trump administration's "plan" of leaving it up to the states has resulted in an ineffective, spread-shot system without consistency or logic. Over the weekend, I saw several posts on social media from folks who'd gotten the vaccine. Only one was over 75 years old. They were all from out of state. Lots of folks were asking, understandably, "How did you do that?"

I went to the Shelby County Health Department website on Monday and learned nothing about how to schedule a shot. I followed a link to the state of Tennessee COVID site, where I could fill out a multi-page survey (outdated) to see if I was eligible for a shot, but there was no mechanism for signing up, and no indication of when I'd be able to do so. We're still stumbling around. Hopefully, when the feds take over, they'll flip on a light switch. We've been in this little dark age for too long.

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