Welcome to Man, What the Hell?, a series delving into the stories that made us go, “Man, what the hell?”
Folks, we did it. American exceptionalism wins again. We are, as I type this, above and beyond the single most desperately fucked nation on Earth when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic that has slowly receded everywhere but, well, here. Great job, everyone.
Those of us living in cities and states that actually responded to the viral threat the first time around are now faced with this uncomfortable—and justifiably enraging—truth: Thanks to a concerted effort by ghoulish politicians at every level of government (in states both red and blue), the past three months of quarantining, social distancing, mask wearing, and generally making ourselves miserable in the name of public health have been essentially rendered null. We’re starting over from scratch—or rather, we’re continuing our long slog toward whatever comes after a global catastrophe with nothing but wasted time and effort in our wake. The end, no moral.
It is in this miasma of pandemic depression and overwhelming sense of helplessness that a number of politicians—the very same ones whose actions helped neutralize the past three months of progress (such as it was)—are now making like they’re the responsible ones who all-of-a-sudden care whether their constituents live or die.
Take Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who on Thursday encouraged residents of his state to wear face masks “for the health of their families, friends, and for all fellow Texans.”
This is the same Abbott who rushed to “re-open” (that is, prioritize profits over human life) his state back in April, and who then wagged his finger at Texas’ rambunctious and rebellious youth for the inevitably catastrophic result. But now? Now that hospitals are maxed out and infection rates continue to climb? Now he wants to encourage people to wear masks? Fuck that and fuck him. And fuck West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, whose state is also experiencing record-high infection rates, and is only now threatening mandatory mask-wearing. And while we’re at it, fuck Ron DeSantis, who pledged that Florida was “not going back” on re-opening, even as his state hit nearly 10,000 new COVID cases in a single day. And yes, fuck New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, too. Here’s a man whose (optics-notwithstanding) bungling of the worst coronavirus outbreak in the country hasn’t prevented him from casting the first stone at other states whose governors “played politics with the virus”—as if he himself didn’t spend the past three months presiding over thousands of preventable deaths.
When this is all over—and who knows when that’ll be, or what our lives will look like by then—these are the politicians who will turn to whatever is left of their constituency and say, “See, I acted! I did something!” Don’t let them get away with it. The deaths and despair and wholly preventable backsliding away from anything resembling progress are on them, and they should wear it like an albatross around their grotesquely self-serving necks until they have the good grace to slink away from public life, or quite simply die. Whichever comes first.
Whew. And now, the rest…
Stop, collaborate, and postpone
Speaking of Texas absolutely fucking things up: For a brief shining moment, it appeared as if Rob Van Winkle, Mr. Ice himself, was set to be the sole musical act performing in the entire Lone Star State, thanks to some convoluted civic ordinance-ing.
Alas, it was too weird to be true, and on Thursday, Vanilla broke the bad news to his dedicated fan base (“Icicles”?) that no, not even the power of inexplicable nostalgia for crossover ‘90s hip-hop can stand in the face of a pandemic.
Well, at least now he’ll have plenty of time to, uh, schling a schlong.
Close your eyes for a second, and just listen to the following 15-second spot the Biden campaign dropped earlier this week. Don’t focus on the words, just let the sounds wash over you. Or pummel you to death. Whatever.
This is not an ad for a presidency. This is an an ad for a Ford-150 that runs on Bud Light and Wrangler jeans. Is Biden running for president of a “15 best Super Bowl commercials” listicle? Jesus CHRIST, what is going on here?
Then again, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s…this:
These are your options, America: Biden the manly tin of Skoal, or Biden the septuagenarian hippy-dippy throwback.
Only five more months to go!
I don’t agree with the message, but you gotta respect the energy.
Capture the flag
A 26-year-old woman was shot multiple times after she was dared to steal a swastika flag from an Oklahoma man’s front yard.
Interstate 8 motorists and an Alpine resident have posted pictures and video of a red-and-black SUV with the black swastika since Monday.
A flag that the Anti-Defamation League has deemed a hate symbol and neo-Nazi symbol was seen this morning flying at a home in Henderson.
The ADL shows an identical flag on its website called the Imperial German Flag. The organization says it is sometimes used as a substitute for the Nazi flag by neo-Nazis.
Two employees were fired after an Ohio couple who purchased a pizza at Little Caesars found pepperonis placed to form a backward swastika.
Cain, not able
Dean Cain, an actor who now sits slightly below Scott Baio on the “oh, right, I guess they still exist” celebrity ladder, is extremely worried about what would happen if he were to be cast as Superman a quarter century after his “what if superheroes, but…yuppies?” show left the smallest skidmark possible on our collective national underpants.
“I promise you, as Superman, I wouldn't today be allowed to say 'Truth, justice, and the American way.’” Cain whined to Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt on Thursday, because caring about the third iteration of a corny catchphrase is what passes for cable news these days.
As it happens, Cain and Earhardt are not only being a total pissbabies about Superman’s deeply unimportant slogan, they’re also completely wrong; take it away actual-Superman-author Tom King:
Bobby Lewis @revrrlewisDean Cain: "I promise you, as Superman, I wouldn't today be allowed to say 'truth, justice, and the American way.'" Ainsley Earhardt: "Oh my gosh. You're right. You're absolutely right." https://t.co/S7o7Zvq6Vs
Move over ‘Dumpster Fire,” 2020 is the year of the…
As Auburn University football head coach, Tuberville—now President Donald Trump’s preferred candidate to become Alabama’s next junior senator—presided over the one-game suspension of player Clifton Robinson, who had been charged with raping a 15-year-old girl. (Robinson, according to the Orlando Sentinel, ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and agreeing to an order to serve 200 hours of community service.)
Tuberville, who, again, is a former football coach and not, say, an expert in public policy, health, or economics (he is, however, an accused securities fraudster) faces former Attorney General and current racist lawn gnome Jeff Sessions on July 14 in the Alabama primary runoff election.
Readin’, Writin’, and Re-Openin’
More than 40 educators and administrations from Santa Clara County, CA, were exposed to COVID-19 and have been ordered to quarantine this week after clustering together for an in-person school district meeting late last month. Given that the meeting was ostensibly called to discuss plans to re-open Santa Clara Country schools this fall, I’m not super confident that the district is gonna pull this one off without a hitch. But hey, surely this week’s plan to reopen salons and gyms will help things, right?
Thoughts and Osprey-ers
As we glide into this Fourth of July weekend, I humbly propose we ditch the Bald Eagle as America’s national bird, and replace it with this giant Osprey that managed to snag an equally giant fish in Myrtle Beach, NC, this week.
Anyway, take it away Ig:
Did anything make you say “Man, what the hell?” this week? Perhaps out loud to a roommate, loved one, or disinterested household pet/plant? Misery loves company, so share your personal what the hells in the comments below!
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(pic via HBO - ding dong ding dong)