Flu Shots, the Senate, and Sikhs

Flu Shots

We got flu shots, yes we did. And what a chore it was. I could have signed up for them at the end of October at our retirement home, but I still trapped in a lengthy siege of vertigo. I just didn’t want to risk another reaction to another shot. But once I started feeling better, I discovered that it’s no easy trick to get flu shots this year.

Our medical center that is across the street is not offering them. I suspect the reason is the labor shortage. They usually bring in people just to give shots to everyone who shows up for an appointment. Others can just drop in and get a shot. This year, they refer everyone to “their local drugstore.” 

I started calling our local drug store before we went to Canada for a short trip. I never got to speak to an actual human, nor did I get to a phone tree to choose “how to schedule a flu shot.” Last Monday, we were at a different pharmacy, so I walked up to the counter and asked about flu shots. Not on weekdays, the man said; I’m the only one working. 

Then we hit the jackpot. We’d gone to COSTCO for some things, and hubby saw a sign that said “Flu Shots Today!” Great. We went to the pharmacy, filled out some forms, and were told to come back at 2:00. We did some shopping and returned at 2:00. We were directed to some chairs. We sat. We waited. Others showed up. They sat. They waited. A person in a pharmacy uniform came and asked our names. She left. We waited. She returned, and asked about our insurance cards; she photocopied them; she left. We waited. At some point, she emerged from a different door and called someone’s name. Progress!

Eventually, we got our shots, but we were glad we hadn’t put frozen food in our cart before we returned to the pharmacy. 

The Senate

Hooray for Raphael Warnock, and thanks to Hershel Walker for a gracious concession. (Yo Kari Lake, that’s how it’s done.) But not so fast, Dems, your 51-49 Senate is no more. Krysten Sinema is now an Independent. Seems right, somehow, because she never aligned clearly with the Ds. 

I Want to be a Sikh

We learned this week that our favorite doctor, whose parents immigrated from India, is a Sikh. He took some time to give us a lot of background on the role of Sikhs in Indian history and culture and talk about Sikhs in the West. He came alive when he was talking about all of this. He’s always upbeat, but this was special. 

He doesn’t wear a turban and explained that in the West, many Sikhs felt they weren’t needed, both in order to blend in a bit, but also because the turban held military significance in India that was irrelevant here. We learned that Sikhs were from Punjab, a rich agricultural region, hence the many farmers in his family history. We saw pictures of his children attending a recent wedding with their grandmother in India. Weddings are a vey big deal, but, he said, Sikhs will celebrate almost anything. 

We really enjoyed seeing this doctor, who we’ve seen for many years, light up as he took the opportunity to share what he loves about his Sikh heritage. He no longer observes the details of the religion, though he shared positive aspects of it (women are equal? – though they don’t show up online in descriptions of Sikhism). 

I wish we had to time to delve into the cultural history of all of our doctors. We’ve had docs and other providers from Lebanon, Iran, India, Seattle(!), Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Nigeria, Russia, and all over the US. 

Whose Lives Matter?

While walking past a bus stop yesterday, I saw a person with a red T-shirt and a jacket. The jacket covered some of the letters of the message on the shirt, but I could read … Lives Matter. The first word was not “Black,” so I paused and asked about the missing word. Turned out to be “Deplorable.” I smiled, because I really liked the sentiment, but I also smiled because the person was a middling aged and middling sized black man who was also wearing a MAGA hat. 

We chatted briefly, agreeing that “Deplorable” is a wretched word for a huge section of our voting population. His words: “It’s so disrespectful.” Yes, I said, and we wished each other a good day and parted company. 

If you heard Hillary refer to the small “basket of deplorables” back in 2016, you will know that she was referring to a small group of people who were engineering Trump’s campaign. She was trying to convey that millions of his supporters were being duped, that they were being seriously misled. I happen to believe that she was right about that.

But I also believe that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have paid sufficient attention to our struggling working class. Thus when the Republicans seized the opportunity to push the narrative that Hillary considered all of Trump’s followers to be deplorable, it was too easy for millions to believe it. 

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about my fear that the word “deplorable” could bring about the end of the Enlightenment. Since then, one thing has led to another, and here we are facing an election that could actually bring about the end of the Enlightenment. What’s odd is that I would wear a T-shirt proclaiming, “Deplorable Lives Matter” today. I am that concerned about the disrespect that is heaped on people who are not on board with the furthest reaches of the progressive Democrats. 

I’m a centrist who believes in incremental reform based on what we’ve learned from past reforms. I’m not on board with the extreme left or the extreme right. Millions of people are like me, but we don’t control the media. So we struggle to be heard. To progressives, I’m deplorable. To the extreme right, I’m unprincipled, never mind the fact that the far right has no principles at all today. 

I no longer consider myself a Democrat. Yet I want the Dems to hold the House and win a couple more Senate seats, and I want moderate Dems to be in the majority of their caucuses, and I want the progressives to rethink everything. And I desperately want the Dems to find a way to win over the deplorables who think the Dems disrespect them all. 

I urge you to read any and all things written by Ruy Teixeira on his substack: The Liberal Patriot

If you can’t spend an entire weekend reading his articles, read at least this one: The Democrats’ Common Sense Problem.

I Voted For One Incumbent

Whew! Hubby and I just voted our Washington State 2022 Primary Ballot. Our Senator, Patty Murray, is up for re-election. I’ve always voted for her in the past, but she has been our senator for decades, and that’s enough. We had a total of 17 other candidates to choose from in our Top Two primary. 

The 17 others include people who “prefer” the Socialist Workers Party, some other Democrats, some Republicans, a JFK Republican, the Independent Party (I think these are just independents; if we have an Independent Party, this is the first I’ve heard of it.) and no party preference.  Their candidate statements sounded goofy, interesting, and hmmm. I finally chose an independent who thinks our two party system is part of our problem right now, a sentiment I share. My choice won’t win. 

Our current Representative is Pramila Jayapal. She’s a very progressive Democrat, and I’m peeved with her over a couple of things, but most important, I don’t see her helping the Democrats come together. She’s quite determined to keep pulling the party as far left as possible, beyond what I’m comfortable with. So I exercised my option to vote for someone else. My choice won’t win this race either.

Next on the ballot were candidates for Secretary of State, the office that runs our elections. I regret not voting for Kim Wyman (R) in 2020. I was just fed up with Trump supporters in the Republican Party. Even though Wyman had done a superb job managing statewide elections for many years, including designing our state-wide mail ballot provisions, I just couldn’t vote for any Rs. She won nevertheless, but Biden chose her to work on election issues in DC. Our Democratic governor appointed a well-qualified Democrat to replace her, and he’s fine. I’m even less inclined to vote for any Rs right now unless they’re willing to state that they are “Never Trumpers,” which none of them did. So I could vote for a qualified Democratic incumbent or an independent, and I’m going to leave you guessing on this one.

Last but not least, we had three state legislative positions to vote on. Not one of our district reps had an opponent from any party this year. I often don’t vote if there is no contest, but I did vote for one this year, just because she is so smart and so reasonable and I just wanted to give her an “attagirl.” 

One disappointment is that so few women were running in these primaries! Yes, we have female incumbents in several spots, but just three of 18 senate candidates were women! One of eight candidates for Secretary of State is female. One of four for US Representative. What’s up with that? Why are men so willing to engage in these losing battles to unseat an incumbent? Are women too nice? Are we intimidated by the experience of the incumbent? 

I love our mail-ballot system! I love sitting at the dining table with all the materials in front of me, taking my time to read statements, and endorsements if there are any, talking with my husband if we have pros and cons to share. It’s a great system and I wonder why the whole world (or at least the whole country) isn’t doing it. We put our phone numbers on the ballots so it will be easy for the election staffers to call us if our signatures don’t match what’s on file. 

The people who think it would be easy to rig vote-by-mail systems must be very naive about how elections actually work. Here in Washington, we have so many districts for everything from school board to cemetery districts, to rural fire districts, to levee districts, to port districts, and more, each with boundaries that are independent of all the other districts. An amateur could not possibly create fake ballots that put an individual voter in all the right districts. 

One thing I wonder: if any of the election deniers win their contests this year, why should we believe that they really won – if our system is so easy to corrupt?

Pandemic Reflections #8


Although 2020 has been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, other things have happened, too. George Floyd, an election, post-election crazy period, and on-going culture wars. Forgive me if I wander a bit. Vocabulary Have you learned any new words this … Continue reading