New Year’s Day. Seeking solace.

          Sitting on the front porch in the afternoon Sun. It’s cool enough that a stray breeze chills. I’m wearing my toboggan cap to insulate my bald head. Warmth wherever the Sun strikes me. Hot chocolate fortified with Irish cream adds heat.

          The weather is OK.

          The news cycle is not.

          I can’t keep up with the evil in the world.

          I mention Donald Trump flying his fascist flag higher each day. THEN, he starts quoting Hitler – and our neighbors in New Hampshire cheer!

          (Trump says that he had not read Hitler. First wife Ivana told her lawyer in 1990 that the man of 30,000 lies had a book of Hitler’s collected speeches that he perused often.)

          Trump then reiterated his (and Hitler’s) “poisoning the blood of our country” rhetoric in Iowa.

          I wonder how many of those good folks who cheered nazi rhetoric went home that evening and turned on their Christmas lights to pay electronic homage to one of the most “woke” and inclusive guys whoever trod Earth, whose closest followers were a walking example of diversity.

          ‘Tis a puzzlement that proudly professing Christians have become so eager to hate, so vocal with their vitriol. Some seem to be getting a new revelation. Others evidently have a Fifth Gospel that repudiates the other four.

          I cite President Joe Biden’s decision to bypass Congress and ship more weapons toward Israel’s ethnic cleansing in Gaza. THEN, he does it again before my words get posted.

          It was scary enough to learn that the Younger Bush had brought a host of superstitious  advisors and staffers to D.C. who were dedicated to facilitating Armageddon. Now Biden is supplying a rogue state with the armaments for such a conflagration.

          Swedish climate canary Greta Thunberg says that the COP28 climate deal fashioned by world governments was a “betrayal and a stab in the back.”

          Greta turned 21 two days after New Year’s Day (the day I first typed this). A certain naiveté can be expected. Technically, the only ones who can betray a cause are those who had identified with it previously. (Judas comes to mind – and Republicans acting against their sworn oaths to uphold state and federal constitutions.)

          World governments have never given more than lip service to protecting Earth’s climate. They have been among the opposition all along – to protect the fossil fuel funding that feeds the campaigns of those in control.

          The Sun got low enough that the growing cold and darkness pushed me indoors.

          The college football playoff bowls held no attraction. The amount of money gambled legally and illegally on sports today gives a sinister tinge to each of the many obviously blown officiating calls and no-calls. And a team whose cheating scandal should have disqualified them midseason was in competition for the national championship – which has won with a permanent stain.

           I had sated my sports appetite earlier with Iowa’s debacle loss to Tennessee. Sixty-five years ago, Iowa routed California in the Rose Bowl. An early, great sports memory. Following the Hawkeyes in bowl season is an old tradition.

          I hoped for a pick-me-up from the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concert. What I got was a connecting narrative that glorified the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a little too apt as the world tumbles toward totalitarianism. Worse, the dancing seemed perfunctory and uninspired to this former dance critic.

          So, not an auspicious attitude with which to start the new year, the very important year which might determine the fate of the republic.

          But, one (of many) advantages of being an English major is to know where to look for inspiration, in this case “The Battle of Maldon,” an Anglo-Saxon poem depicting the fight between the English and invading Vikings on Aug. 11, 991.

          With their earl slain and their prospects dimming (they lost), Birhtwold, an old retainer, addressed the troops:

          “Mind must be the firmer, heart the keener, courage the greater, as our strength lessens.”

          In other words, we play the cards we are dealt.

          I’m in!

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

New year starts problematically

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