Over the weekend, possibly moving the small picnic table (and wasn't I proud of knowing how to shift and roll it to get it through a narrow gate), I strained my back. Pain in my lower back grew steadily while I did the Stoic thing* and when I started to get up from dinner in front of the television† Sunday night, I very nearly didn't.
Whatever I have done, it has got me good. It makes transitioning between sitting, standing and laying down difficult and painful. I have done my best to stay active without doing any lifting or bending over, including a long walk yesterday, and I think it's getting better. But it's still enough pain to leave me feeling almost tipsy-drunk, despite acetaminophen.
Elsewhere in the world, sabers continue to rattle as shells fall and men bleed. I think the Russians and Red China are emboldened by our ongoing domestic chaos and prospects for more. Certainly four years of a President who openly admired autocrats, denigrated NATO and stoked violence from both Left and Right did no good in that regard. The two main parties have only embodied more and more the late P. J. O'Rourke's judgment on the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016: "I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises. It's the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she's way behind in second place. She's wrong about absolutely everything, but she's wrong within normal parameters."
The Democrats and the Republicans are wrong about absolutely everything -- but the Dems are, at least, wrong within normal parameters. It's a choice between someone who wants to push your house over with a bulldozer and someone who wants to paint it an ugly color and reupholster the furniture in atrocious patterns. The most recent Roger Stone quote from 2020 to surface, "F-ck the voting, let's get right to the violence," shows the contrast starkly. And don't fool yourself: a breakdown in the U. S. means an unrestrained Russia, means the PRC's expansionist programs will accelerate, and freedom everywhere will suffer.
Democracy, even addled, wrong-headed democracy, is better than autocracy, here and elsewhere. A republic can be got back on course; a Supreme Leader is a bull in a china shop, and we're the breakables.
* "Ignore pain. Either it will come to an end, or you will."
† We've been looking at Life Below Zero, a brilliant and long-running documentary following the lives of people in Alaska, up close and in detail.