Actually it is now Sunday January 17th. Kia ora! Kia kaha!
I have been meaning to write again for some time.
We are inching towards Joe Biden’s inauguration as President of the US, and learning more and more about the events on Wednesday January 6th, when the US Capitol was invaded by an angry mob.
But first, I have finished reading Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout. How I enjoyed this novel. Spoiler alert – I will say what happens. Olive marries and loses a second husband; she has a heart attack, and a fall, and she moves into a nursing home. Her environment shrinks, although her mind does not. People speak over her, as if she weren’t there, but she finds this strangely freeing. She gets tired; she has a fall and can’t get up. The indignities of age creep up on her, yet her mind, her wit, her essence remain, in spite of the fact that she views some past events differently, for example, her first husband.
Yesterday we went to see Wonder Woman 84 (mainly to placate my husband). I booked seats at Pauatahanui; last time we went the session was fully booked. This time I need not have bothered: there were only 5 other people there! My bad, Americas Cup Yacht Racing was live on free-to-air television (actually pre-racing, it goes on for months).
There were several things about this movie that bothered me. I know it’s fantasy, that Gail Gadot can’t really fly, but the American attitude to violence really disturbs me. America remains a violent country, one where violence seems to be condoned to some extent. What about martial arts? I practise Tai Chi, which, while great for breathing, balance, and relaxation, is fundamentally a martial art. I should like to think that I could use it in self-defence, should I need to. The idea that you can have everything you want, also disturbs me. I didn’t think Gail Gadot’s love interest was nearly as good-looking as her! I realise it’s fantasy, but surely you can’t commandeer a private jet and fly to Egypt without a flight plan, checking the fuel gauge, some cooperation from flight control??? The attitude to smashing things up at the White House also disturbed me. I know this is all fake, but surely one should be careful about damaging precious things?
I was reminded of the desecration in the US Capitol, and the lack of respect shown there. I’ve also seen scenes of the Trumps taking stuff out of The actual White House, which, I suppose, it to be expected. The fake reality host reminded me of Trump; I suspect a lot of Americans have seen this movie. Over the Christmas period there was a rerun of the movie Home Alone. The hurt and violence portrayed in this movie really upset me, and all the messages it sends. How can a family leave a child behind? I know I couldn’t. Why were they living in such a luxurious house (when so many don’t)? There’s no justification for stealing, but things, rather than people, can always be replaced.
When we were last in the US in November 2017, corporal punishment had been re-introduced in a Charter School, in Georgia. We went on a school trip with our granddaughter to a farm, quite some way away. They still have the iconic really old yellow buses that you see in movies. There are no seat belts. There were real wasps, descending on the picnic lunches, and real smelly animals, but afterwards the children were taken on the back of a cart to see an array of their Disney heroes and heroines. This seemed to ne to be a total blurring of fact and fiction. It also explains a lot.
When we arrived in Houston, they had just had Hurricane Harvey, although we saw no sign of flooding. The night before we arrived, they had shootings in Las Vegas. 60 people were killed and 411 injured. The shooter was an older white man, taking aim at people, who had gathered for a music festival, from his hotel bedroom. There were major fires in California. And Jeffrey Weinstein had just been arrested, for multiple sexual assaults and raping of women.
We spent time in Houston, Texas, Atlanta, Georgia, and Boston, Massachussetts. We could have been in three separate countries!
Some crazy stuff happens here too. Billy Te Kahika (of the Advance New Zealand Party, which garnered 60,000 votes in the recent General Election), led a protest in Auckland against lockdowns. But we don’t have a lockdown here! The police here are not routinely armed, but they have been armed in Christchurch here recently. Some dude took an axe to the Beehive recently – he was arrested by police.
Talking of odd things, we’ve received no mail the last few Saturdays. I had got used to receiving The Listener on Saturdays, and sometimes a copy of the LRB. So I will go back to buying a copy of The Listener on Mondays, as I used to. There’s not much point in getting stuff delivered if it only turns up occasionally.
Coming back to the invasion of the US Capitol on January 6th. There are even more disturbing features emerging about this caper.
- Mobsters, intending to kill Mike Pence, were only seconds away from him and his family; they also intended to kill Nancy Pelosi;
- Some Republican politicians seem to have invited guests and shown them around, although there were no formal tours because of Covid 19;
- In addition to Trump, Giuliani and Don Jr addressing the ”rally”, before the invasion, it seems that Mike Flynn, Roger Stone and Steve Bannon did their bit to stir up Trump supporters;
- “Possible role of Flynn, Stone, Bannon, Rudy & Don Jr in the Jan 6 Incident at US Capitol”, reads one Youtube heading (ABC news reporting).
- Panic buttons were unaccountably removed for some politicians;
- Some Republican politicians and Capitol police seem to have been involved on the side of the mob;
- Politicians and journalists were genuinely afraid for their lives, and didn’t know who to trust;
- One policeman was going to be shot with his own gun, by mobsters;
- Elizabeth Neuman has testified to the disturbing decision to not go after local white terrorism in the US.
- The FBI had warning about the January 6 rally, but failed to act on it appropriately, it seems;
- The lie that the Presidential Election last November was “rigged” persists, despite evidence to the contrary.
And so on and so on.
Security has been beefed up for the inauguration, but that still leaves the issue of who you can trust, given that there may well be traitors in the guards. Parts of Washington are very difficult to access, and the Mall has been closed. You can’t get to the Lincoln Memorial. Other parts of the country are also heavily secured. Americans want some security, but surely not this heavy a presence. We went to an outdoor concert, and two markets in Cleveland in 2012, and we and others would have been sitting ducks had someone decided to “have a go” with an assault weapon.
Meanwhile there have been almost 400,000 deaths from Covid 19 in the US. Trump wants some kind of fanfare when he leaves the White House on the morning of January 20. Ah well, at least he’s leaving. Will there be a crowd to see him go, I wonder?
In New Zealand, there are alarming numbers of new Covid 19 infections in MIQ, with no community transmission detected at this stage. The yacht races are having all kinds of problems with weather, and boats struggling to rise on their foils, and some overturning – quite a sight. The winds are weird – either very light, or very strong. Climate change, anyone?