By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity,
and I’m not sure about the former. – Albert Einstein
2020, to use a phrase I’ve seen relentlessly on social media, perhaps because it was so fitting, was “a special kind of stupid.”
By that I don’t mean ignorant or clumsy, I mean a super-spreader, inter-galactic, self-destructive stupidity with a cruel streak rarely seen in history.
In 2020 you could pick any category – political or economic, national or local, individual or public, male or female; you name the category and 2020 raised the bar in human, zombie, living brain-dead stupidity – and, in typical 2020, reality TV show fashion, saving the best for last.
You’d think for example, that politicians would be content with riots in the streets, lines miles long for free food distribution, over three thousand deaths a day from a single cause, an exploding national debt and an imploding economy – not to mention an impending civil war – in other words, the deliberate destruction of what, less than a year ago, was the strongest economy and sole economic and military super-power.
But no, in 2020, that was not enough.
Since they were at it, how about sabotaging our legal system? And our electoral system?
The assaults on our basic systems of civilization – and the explanation and justification of those assaults are far too many to outline, but I’ll review just a few.
President Trump multiple times offered Presidential Pardons to friends of his while they were on trial.
This is a textbook case of obstruction of justice, but like nepotism and violations of The Hatch Act, became so common that the “everybody does it” defense became the legal standard for 2020.
We all knew that the 2020 presidential election would be the most contentious ever, but few, if any of us imagined that, even with a clear victory by Joe Biden (by electoral votes and popular vote) that the election would still be contested well into January.
With well over two dozen lawsuits and appeals dismissed by state, federal and even the Supreme Court, Trump operatives (you gotta love the two-bit thug names they give themselves) continue to, in classic Trump-style, file case after case to bog down the courts and rile public opinion to the point of frenzy and final capitulation.
Their “hail-Mary” was a stroke of 2020 style stupid-genius – 106 (mostly newly elected – or re-elected) House Republicans filed a multi-state lawsuit charging that the 2020 election – the one that elected most of them, was rigged and not legally binding. See https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/skbaer/list-republican-house-members-overturn-election? or https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/12/11/126-house-republicans-now-support-lawsuit-to-overturn-election-in-updated-brief/?sh=13f7fa37e5db
Let me say that again, because to any of us of sound mind, it sounds too preposterous to believe; 106 duly elected House Representatives insist that their own election is invalid.
Did I miss something here?
In the old days, politicians who lost an election would gracefully concede.
In recent history, a few politicians who won have complained about the system being “rigged,” but to have a whole cohort of winning politicians argue that their own election is fraudulent is bizarre beyond belief.
Welcome to the bizarro-up-is-downism world of 2020.
In the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” department
But, as usual, we have our own local version of imprudence-in-action.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the attempt by the Pierce County Council to dismember the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD).
Yes, during a world-wide pandemic, and yes, with the deciding council members having just a few days left of their terms, and yes, rushed through before another political party takes over the council.
In other words, every aspect of this decision reeks of rushed, power-grabbing, self-serving, scorched-earth politics.
But as with our national politicians, that too is not enough.
The explanation is even better – it’s not about party-politics, or power-grabbing or even a lethal pandemic – it’s about septic-tank permitting.
Ah, now it all makes sense – at least in a 2020 kind of way.
Septic-tank permits are approved by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
Thanks to COVID, and a few other things, septic-tank permits are caught in a bottle-neck at TPCHD.
And in times of crisis, with literally thousands of deaths a day, nothing is as important, it seems, than streamlining construction project approvals.
As a footnote; if you’ve been in most of rural Pierce County lately, you’ve probably noticed that a lot MORE deliberation would have made those communities more appealing, if not livable.
Rushing through construction permits when most of us are distracted by the pandemic is the worst possible policy with lasting negative consequences.
I grew up in that area and have seen it go from beautiful to strip-mall, housing development purgatory in just a few years.
More times than I could count, I’ve wondered if a lot of money changed hands regarding a local decision, because no other explanation makes sense for such a rushed decision that benefits so few.
I don’t know much about this particular situation, but a more productive, better researched proposal, with vastly more public engagement would have made a world of difference.
A little bit of research would have saved us all headaches.
Apparently no one putting together the proposal imagined that anyone would notice the destruction of TPCHD during a worldwide viral pandemic.
Public outrage, as we all know, was immediate and volatile.
Those who proposed the policy were portrayed as buffoons in the local media.
One member of the Pierce County Council wanted this proposal to be her “legacy” – you could file this under “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”
The Pierce County Executive who holds the power to approve or veto the proposal has, wisely, taken a vow of silence over the matter.
His political career and public reputation hangs on this issue. If it goes down in flames, his political career will as well.
Our county executive was just re-elected. Perhaps he too can claim that his own election was “rigged” and that septic-tank-gate is just another liberal conspiracy.
You had to be there, but in 2020, it almost makes sense.
Einstein would be proud.