The year kicked off with the protests and riots unlike anything we've seen since the 1960's following the deaths of Breonna Taylor in Louisville Kentucky in March and George Floyd in Minneapolis Minnesota in May; both at the hands of the police. It should of been taken as warning of what was coming.
Protests, Riots, and
Calls for Racial Justice
Whether their deaths were racially motivated or simply poor decision making by all concerned, it sparked massive waves of protests and riots nationwide along with looting, arson, random attacks on individuals, and destruction of property which had nothing to do with racial justice.
It also saw the appearance of so-called "Right Wing" militias (often wrongly labeled as "neo-Nazi" or "racist" by the media), which tended to be rather well behaved, and Leftist groups like Antifa which, despite its name, was more akin to the Nazi Brownshirts or Communist Red Front than not.
Black Lives Matter showed its true colors as a race-centric neo-Marxist group, which, along with Antifa, turned out to be surprisingly organized and well funded. It's worth nothing that both groups were labeled by the media as "peaceful" despite the chaos they caused. Race baiting seems to be back in fashion.
We Can Still Be
The media continued to pound President Donald Trump at every
opportunity as they have since he was first elected. Never once did they let up
or give him any serious credit, even when there were historic diplomatic
breakthroughs like the four Arab nations agreeing to officially recognize Israel---Sudan (which lost the moniker of a
terrorist sponsoring state), the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Bahrain (which
was promised high tech weapons and
diplomatic favors including financial aid).
Relations between Kosovo and Serbia were normalized, while
Muslim Kosovo also agreed to recognize Israel. Meanwhile, the UK formally said "goodbye" to the
European Union as Brexit took effect. The virus shut down the pro-democracy
moment in Hong Kong to China's relief as it upped the ante in challenging
America and her Asian allies for dominance.
Election: The Ole Cup and Balls Trick
In 2016, we were told that Russian meddling in the election caused Hillary Clinton to lose his bid for president; not her inability to connect with voters, and surely not her questionable behavior (like Benghazi). We were told to ignore the rigging of the Democratic Primary against Bernie Sanders even though it was admitted and the head of the DNC was fired (as was her successor). This year, despite ample evidence of ballot corruption, we're told that our electoral system is safe and there is no way fraud could have taken place, so ignore the evidence and videos. Nothing to see. Move along.
Biden's Cabinet picks (as I've recently pointed out in my
previous two articles) are primarily retreads from the Clinton and Obama
administrations. Throughout Biden's 47 years in office, he has repeatedly shown
himself not to be a friend of the working and middle classes or small business
owners. He has perpetually pushed to cut taxes for the wealthy, favored deregulation and
bailouts for big business, while supporting tax hikes on everyone else. Even
seniors and veterans aren't safe.
Biden has repeatedly backed cuts in Social Security and
support for veterans. But, not to worry! It seems that Biden isn't quite all
there. Many expect a short tenure in office before being forced to stepped down
and replaced by Kamala Harris as the first female president.
COVID Virus: The New Normal
Not since the 1919 Influenza outbreak has a virus had such
a far reaching affect on society. Businesses and restaurants have been
shuttered, laying off millions of workers. Ordinary people have been forced to
self-quarantine. When we do go out,
we're expected to wear mask and only go where we absolutely must and return
home as quickly as possible, and don't forget to wash your hands thoroughly
with the sanitizer you're now expected to keep in your car, your purse, or
Of course, we can't forget "social distancing"; maintaining that invisible six foot barrier between you and the next person. Government has stepped in to ensure that we can't gather in groups of more than ten. They don't want us attend weddings, funerals, or religious services, movies, family gatherings (and especially if it involves singing), but apparently protests, political events and shopping at big box stores are okay. Just no small local stores.
Americans are scared, which seems to be the way the Status Quo wants it. As a result, we've seen hoarding and artificial shortages. If there's any doubt that in a crisis, self-interest will always prevail, this should have removed all doubts. As a result, we've willingly accepted so-called "temporary emergency" restrictions to many of our freedoms. Many a despot has come to power using "temporary emergency" measures. Freedoms, once lost, are hard to reclaim just as power, once obtained, is hard to surrender.
Nevertheless, what we have entered is a "new
normal" of masks, sanitizers, and self-imposed restrictions of movement.
It's part of what the elites are calling "the Great Reset". It will
be their attempts to reverse any changes President Trump made to the Status
Quo, and to implement new ones under Biden/Harris. How far this
"reset" will go depends on how much resistance they encounter. Based
on the previous months, I expect very little.
The media will do its best to sell it. So will Hollywood,
and naturally, so will Wall Street and
Madison Avenue since they all make up this Oligarchic Corporatocracy
that is now America. Unions, once the voice of the working class, long ago sold
out, leaving millions of blue collar workers high and dry, not to mention
unemployed or underemployed.
But there is some good news I suppose. Earlier this year
most Americans received a "stimulus" check of around $1200 (some
countries gave citizens as much as $7000). It helped, but was nowhere near
enough for the long term, especially as many were nearing the end of their
unemployment benefits. Many more were looking at the possibility of facing
repossession or foreclosure.
Congress offered the American People $600. To call it insulting would be a
gross understatement. The public was (rightfully) outraged. Social media was
flooded with stories about illegal immigrants getting $1800 or Pakistan
receiving billions to study "gender differences". But, how true were
these stories? What was in the 5600 page
Devil is in the Details
While Americans felt that the stimulus bill was supposed to be by and for us, it was, in fact, not. The bill did include billions in foreign aid, much of which was for education and infrastructure development in places like Tibet, Laos, Cambodia, and Egypt. There was $33 million set aside for "pro-democracy" programs in Venezuela (basically political bribery). $1.65 billion to Jordan which can use the money however it wants.
Four billion was authorized to help other countries
purchase vaccines for the COVID virus. $130 million went for programs to
empower women overseas and promote gender equality, while another $15 million
went to help at-risk women and girls from religious extremists. $25 million
went to World Bank to help with refugees. $40 million went to Syria for the
purpose of providing medical assistance to those exposed to chemical weapons as
well as first responders. So, what about us? Did we get anything besides the $600
lump of coal from Congress?
Political Afterthought: The Voters and the Stimulus Package
The $900 billion dollar stimulus bill does include a few perks for Americans. Well, first some good news. At President Trump's insistence, we could get a check for $2000 rather than $600. However, the biggest roadblock is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has indicated that he will oppose the increase in order to keep the bill's cost from skyrocketing (we could cut the foreign aid pork but that would be rejected by members of both parties anxious to score brownie points with their financial backers).
Nevertheless, the bill does include funding to help extend unemployment benefits up to $300 per week, which is half of the amount provided this past spring. Schools and universities will get $82 billion. $7 billion is for expanding broadband internet access. $285 billion goes to a program called Paycheck Protection Program. It's to help guarantee employers' ability to meet payroll. $12 billion of that has been earmarked for minority owned businesses. However, the program has come under criticism in that the majority of money goes to large corporations not adversely affected by the pandemic. Many have used the money to cover top level executive bonuses.
$10 billion will go to the childcare industry, which has
been hit hard by the mandatory shutdowns. The bill also includes a ban to
prevent doctors, hospitals, and others in the medical industries to send
so-called "surprise" bills to patients. They define this as bills for
services not previously explained to and acknowledged by the patient or their
family. That one, I suspect, will need a lot more clarification.
The bill also provides a provision to prevent evictions,
foreclosures, and repossessions for the next 30 days (but not interest charges
or late fees). $13 billion will go for food assistance such as SNAP, food
banks, and food pantries. $175 million of that is earmarked for Meals on Wheels
and similar programs.
Lastly, there is nothing in the bill that provides illegal
immigrants with a stimulus check. Only those here legally and possess a green
card will receive a payment, which will be for $600 like the rest of us.
While the stimulus bill is far from perfect (much of the
funding of foreign countries is unnecessary, at least at this time), it does
provide some badly needed relief, especially to those worried about losing
their homes or cars, those on SNAP or depend on food programs.
Sadly, not included in the package is assistance for senior
care, help with utilities like heat or shelters. As of now, it seems likely
that most of us will receive $600, not the $2000 President Trump wanted. It
also appears that this is just the beginning of our "new normal", at
least for the foreseeable future.