By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
If you follow news for more than a few years, you might pick up on a fairly reliable principle; August is “the silly season” – the month when statements and behavior that one would never expect to see, somehow becomes almost predictable from both public figures and possibly even people we might know.
It might be the heat, or maybe it’s because many of us are on a less structured schedule than the school year.
For whatever reason, rationality tends to resume in September.
Maybe the cooler weather turns down the temperature on the simmering of our brains and worst impulses, or maybe with the return of the stable, even almost regimented hours and schedule of kids getting to school or parents getting them there, we get our brains and bodies back to work within a culture-wide framework.
In other words, when our kids go to school, we all, to some degree, get on the same schedule.
August of 2022, has, of course, even more – and more intense – variables. From the economy to the weather to crime, or the always entertaining antics of mid-term elections, August of 2022 does not fail to disappoint.
Show me the money
Whatever term we come up with or eventually agree on, the economy is something we all encounter on a continual basis.
From gas to groceries to monthly utility bills, we all have a constant flow of expenses.
Keeping an eye on these largely predictable expenses is what most of us call budgeting.
And budgeting, thanks to erratic, and often increasing costs, has become a nearly acrobatic, sometimes entirely abstract experience.
Some call it inflation, others deflation. Some use the term “shrink-flation” to describe the experience of paying the same price for ever smaller packages.
Where’s our weather?
Weather maps of almost anywhere in the world show weather like most of us have never seen before.
From historic droughts across Europe and in California, to record-breaking droughts AND floods in Texas and the other Gulf states, to the highest earth temperatures ever records in Africa and the Middle East, this has been a summer for the record books.
What the winter will look like, or what future summers will hold for us will be anybody’s guess – but it probably won’t be pleasant.
Who of us would have expected widespread discussion of “The Espionage Act”? Or the “unprecedented” (anyone else getting tired of hearing that word?) FBI search warrant investigation of a former president’s home for classified, top secret and highly sensitive information regarding nuclear weapons and our foreign agents stationed around the world?
One of the objections has been “If this could happen to a former president, what about normal citizens?”
As a slight factor of information; “normal citizens” suspected of a crime and presumed to be withholding evidence have always been subject to an authorized search warrant by law enforcement.
Shootings, bomb threats or attacks by vehicle have become almost routine for every parade, gathering, church or school activity. Seattle, for example, had 29 shootings in a single week in early August – a new record. But probably not for long.
There was a time when the distinction between liberals and conservatives was that liberals (at least some of them) used to urge us to “question authority” while conservatives urged us to respect authority and tradition.
But, as in every other area it seems, that was then and this is now.
A couple years ago “Defund the police” was a rallying cry from a few fringe liberals.
In August of 2022, “Defund the FBI” or even “Defund the IRS” have become common slogans of many conservatives.
Many who call themselves conservatives criticize almost every traditional aspect of solid and stable society from public education to zoning to health care or national (or local) government.
Many who call themselves “patriots” are urging “civil war”. Some are even acting by attacking law enforcement offices or personnel.
In other words, when we weren’t looking, many conservatives became extremists – if not anarchists.
Most of us have become accustomed to red or blue states or districts. As if we needed continual visual reminders of how divided some say we have become.
But “red” for conservative (or Republican, and yes, there are times when those two terms are synonymous) and “blue” for Democratic (or liberal) are relatively recent developments – for the most part only after 1996.
In the 1980 election for example, Ronald Reagan’s victory over Jimmy Carter was a swash of blue across the electoral map.
The term red up until recently applied for the most part to communist countries – especially our long-time Cold War adversary Russia, and to a lesser degree, “red” China.
Being urged to “vote red” is, for some of us at least, a bit disorienting.
“Better dead than Red” is a phrase burned into the consciousness of at least one generation.
Politics, for whatever reason, seems to be terrain for the most hysterical and unfounded reactions.
Several years ago many citizens were driven into a frenzy when the large brick-work square at the University of Washington became known as Red Square. This was considered proof that UW, if not all of higher education, was a pawn of a communist plot to take over America.
The fact that bricks were in fact “red” seems to have been lost on many observers.
Some politicians are even re-using the question, “Are you better off now than you were two (or four) years ago?” As if any of us had a distinct memory of daily life two (or four) years ago. One particularly dim politician raised that question recently in his election campaign.
“Are you better off now than you were two years ago?”
Yes, gas prices were lower in 2020 – but it was because the global economy (not just the US economy) was in a state of paralysis, with business closures and unemployment at record highs.
As were deaths and hospital admissions.
Remember those months of toilet paper shortages and mobile morgues in hospital parking lots at capacity with bodies in most American cities?
Like most of us, I always look forward to summer, but I always forget, or least underestimate, the craziness that August seems to bring.
The cooler weather seems to bring us back to something approaching normal.
But in 2022, literally anything could happen.
And yes, August holds a set of appropriate holidays and commemorations. Among many others, you could celebrate Arrr-gust: International Pirate Month, National Catfish Month, National Crayon Collection Month, National Sandwich Month, or International Strange Music Day (August 24), Frankenstein Day (August 30) or National Trail Mix Day (August 31).