Dispatch from The Front Line: Hell is no place to stop
On Brovid's nightmare potential, Rod Phillips being a gigantic jackass, and Trump keeping things interesting to the bitter end.
Well, that was a refreshing vacation. Let's pop on over to the electronic internet machine, boot it up and check in on the news we've been ignoring since before Christmas. Ahh, here we go. Let's see what's bee ... whoa. Holy shit. Some moron trying to blow up Nashville was one of the least interesting things that happened, eh? OK, then.
Happy 2021, Line readers. We hope you had a wonderful holiday, and that you're rested up for what looks like a really grim start to the new year. We are optimists on 2021, actually. But let's just say our optimism is backloaded much later in the calendar than the first quarter or two. Things will get better. But they'll get better slowly, and they'll get worse first.
We genuinely feel bad about having written that. This isn't performative. We really, really wish things were looking better than they are. But them's the breaks: we're going to have to suffer through some 2020-esque garbage before we begin to turn the corner. That old saying applies: if you're going through hell, keep going, because this is no place to stop!
Keep going, Line readers.
And bear with us. We are starting from zero this week — we haven’t checked our email since we went on holiday a few weeks ago. So we’ll get things running here again this week, but we’re gonna need a few days to shake off the cobwebs, as it were.
We know you’ll be looking forward to some fresh reading material, too, because there's still a pandemic on. Starting a new calendar has sadly not eliminated COVID-19; the second wave remained very much a thing as the clock struck 12 a few nights ago. There is some good news — the Atlantic provinces are still hanging in there, and Alberta, the apparent basket case of Confederation just a few short weeks ago, seems to have plateaued its curve. Although some of the shine came off in B.C., which had a great first wave, the Left Coast is looking better in recent weeks, too. This is good news.
Ontario and Quebec, alas, are letting Team Canada down. Cases are way up in the most populated provinces, and more ominously, so are hospitalization rates. Ontario is rapidly approaching the red line that the province had set out as a marker for when the health-care system would be in real danger. Doctors in Quebec are warning that the province, particularly the Montreal era, is one outbreak away from a dangerous crisis. Given that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, things will get worse. It’s probably already too late to avoid a really grim winter.
Your friends at the Line, of course, are wary of the reports of the new strain of COVID — Brovid, as one of our relatives charmingly termed it — that came over from the United Kingdom. We have little to say about Brovid beyond that it bears careful watch. Early indicators that it spreads much more effectively than the original flavour of the ’rona are worrying, because all of our marginally effective public-health interventions will only become even more marginal the more gregarious the virus gets. Anecdotal reports that Brovid is hitting the young hard are, frankly, the stuff of our nightmares, and we'll not sleep as well until we know that that isn't so. (If it is so, well, we mean ... shit. We’re young. So are our children.)
For those in parts of the country where the virus is either not a major threat or is largely contained, we confess to affable envy. Good for you and good luck! For those parts that are just barely holding on, or getting their asses handed to them — lookin' at you there, Greater Toronto — may we kindly implore you to get your act together? The vaccines are coming, sure, but they aren't here yet, and what we've seen of our efforts — both procurement and distribution — isn't exactly blowing our skirts up.
Life doesn't always give you great options, but if we had to choose between a bad next few months before help arrives or a frickin’ apocalyptic next few months before help arrives, we mean, gosh, which do you think sounds like the better plan?
Shape up. Lives depend on it.
And maybe a few political careers, too. It's been amusing to watch as Canada's mainstream media came back to work after vacation and immediately began nail-gunning asses to walls as various politicians were caught either out of the country or sporting suspiciously awesome tans. We at The Line are actually a bit more indulgent regarding some of this travel than many. If someone travels for a valid reason — we won't quibble over the precise definition of "essential" — and exercises caution, we think those cases should be judged on their merits rather than reflexively held up for public shaming. Travelling abroad, in adherence with protocols, to visit an ailing relative probably warrants a pass.
But some of what we've heard is just astonishingly terrible. Rod Phillips, Ontario's now-former finance minister, has set the standard for shitbaggery with his conduct: he canned a bunch of Christmas-themed photos and videos in advance, left the country for a beach vacation even as his government was urging Ontarians to minimize their travel, and then trickled his festive multi-media #content out over the Christmas break to mislead voters. Phillips is therefore doubly guilty — guilty of not just being a massive hypocrite for blowing off his province to take in some sun just as it locked down, but also guilty of actively trying to deceive the public. Doug Ford eventually demanded his resignation, and that's appropriate.
Meanwhile, in Alberta, at least nine senior government officials wandered across the border — several of them to warmer climes like Hawaii and Mexico. These Alberta-fleeing rats prompted Premier Jason Kenney to offer a half-assed defence, arguing that he had not been clear enough in his travel advice to his caucus. As if such advice should be necessary for anyone smart enough to pass the written section of a driving license test.
But Phillips' appalling conduct is not reflective of them all. Travelling alone doesn’t necessarily warrant a public nailing of thine ass to a wall. At least two Liberal MPs resigned from parliamentary posts for holiday travel that, it turns out, was pretty well justified.
But for those who did pull a Kimmie K over the holidays to “pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time,” we at The Line have only one observation: Some of these turkeys are so goddamn dumb that they would drown themselves in their own water bowls if left unattended. Can the lot.
America, The Show, continues to limp forward three seasons after the Fonz jumped the shark on waterskies. If you, like us, ignored American news over the holidays because — Jesus! — you just needed a break, well, we can assure you that the news did not quit just because you did.
There’s just … more.
The election is over and Donald Trump lost. However, the man is going to fight against the dying of the light. On Jan. 6, expect a kerfuffle. That’s the date when the Senate and House must meet to count the electoral college votes and declare the results.
This is also when Republicans in the House and the Senate might object to the votes from a handful of “contested” states that are not, in fact, credibly contested. This effort will probably fail, but if it doesn’t, we may find ourselves into the murky territory of a genuine constitutional crisis and everything could be fucked.
That probably won’t happen, though. 2020 was last year.
What else is there? Well, a pro-Trump lawyer called on Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence to be arrested for treason.
Oh, and, uh, all the 10 living former U.S. defence secretaries signed an open letter in the Washington Post calling on Trump and his supporters to come to terms with the election results.
“Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” the entirely normal and not-at-all terrifying letter read. “Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”
Meanwhile, the Post was also the first to break a story about Trump going on an unhinged rant at Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, spouting all kinds of debunked conspiracy theories about shredded ballots and missing voting machines, and also urging him to find 11,780 votes.
Also, the runoff vote for the Georgia senate seats will be held on Tuesday.
So we at The Line are happy to report that everything continues to be normal and fine in America.
That more or less gets us back up to speed? We’ve ignored Brexit, a possible U.S.-Iran war and a new South African COVID-19 strain that we simply didn’t have the reserves of emotional energy to properly research, but the above should at least cover off the big-picture stuff. So … happy new year, we guess? And welcome back to The Line. We are glad you’re here.
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