If we can’t be united in opposing Putin right now, I got nothing.

If we disagree on Putin’s attack on Ukraine, tribalism wins. Facebook algorithms win. Bad people win. I give up.

I had a whole different witty prologue scripted for today. Wrote it last Sunday in a moment of whatever the opposite of writer’s block is. I was psyched to be done early, because it was one less thing I had to worry about, like making the kids’ lunch the night before. 

But I had to shelve it. Best laid plans. 

Thanks a lot, Putin. You prick.

You can be an American. A patriot. Or you can support, defend, or feel neutral toward Putin and his regime. You can’t be both, under any circumstances whatsoever. 

You can hate Joe Biden, have no faith in his leadership. But you have to pray for his strategy and policies to work. If you’re rooting for the Russian army to trample Ukraine, just so you can dunk on the snowflakes who voted against Trump, go ahead and burn your navy-blue American flag bald eagle T-shirts right now. Your privileges are revoked.

Sympathizing with Putin’s Russia is the most egregious American betrayal. It goes against everything Ronald Reagan, Apollo Creed, C. Thomas Howell, and Lea Thompson fought for. You might as well boo Lee Greenwood or spit on Mike Eruzione. Putin would burn America to the ground – and everything we’re supposed to stand for – if he could. 

Maybe you’re anti-vaccine. Maybe you’re anti-MyPillow. Maybe you drink Black Rifle Coffee or maybe you love Joy Behar. You could wear Carhartt or wear Patagonia. Or listen to Morgan Wallen or Bruce Springsteen. Maybe you want to send me an angry email because you think I’m wrongfully drawing equivalencies between all those things. Go right ahead. I might even reply. 

Just don’t tell me you’re with Putin, because I’ll block you and report you as spam.

Moments like these need to remind us that we have way more in common than we don’t. We argue in the margins, relatively speaking. We get into shouting matches with friends and family members on social media, but would still give them the shirts off our backs. We bitch about biased media, but at least it’s not state controlled. 

Find mutual ground, my friends. Because I’m afraid this is just the beginning.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Of the gazillion things dividing us today, reliable internet access is one of the biggest. While a record 61% of Americans now have high-speed internet in their homes, the drop-off is pretty severe from there. The next largest group – 12% – get their web access via a cellular plan or hotspot. Four percent have no access at all. But as I tell you over and over again, the U.S. population is far from monolithic. Only 42% of people in rural areas characterize their internet access as “very reliable,” with 30% still using satellite, DSL, or dial-up. Yes, dial-up. This disparity impacts all manner of online activities, from streaming platform subscriptions to the availability of telehealth services to remote work. Addressing this gap would go a long way to improving everything from public health to employment opportunities to commerce.

Get used to hearing more and more about Long Covid. As Omicron appears to be precipitously declining, our attention can now turn to the wreckage left in COVID-19’s wake. Forty-two percent of Americans report knowing someone in their household or extended family/friends who are experiencing Long Covid complications. Those numbers are even higher in the South and Midwest and I’ll give you one guess why. The impact of lingering symptoms doesn’t just affect the afflicted, but a growing number of caregivers as well – a disproportionate percentage of whom are women because men suck.

Expect a surge of experience spending in the months ahead. A whopping 56% of Americans plan to travel in the next month, with 25% doing so by plane – the highest such number we’ve seen since before the pandemic. Twice as many Americans plan to use their tax refunds for vacations this year over last year, contrasted with a 17% drop in the number who plan to use their refunds for home improvements. One notable area where we’ve seen a recent drop in consumer intent is restaurant dining (delivery and on-premise), which could be less about Omicron and more about inflationary pressure. Needless to say, brace yourself for another big shuffle in consumer spending, which we’ll be tracking more than anyone.   

Political affiliation pretty much predicts everything. Republicans continue to be way crabbier about the economy, inflation, and making major purchases right now. Is it because economic hardships are hitting Rs more than Ds? Not even a little. I’m not the smartest dude on the block, but I’m pretty sure it’s because Rs have far less confidence in the current political leadership to steer the economy. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. But if it affects how – or if – they spend their money, then it matters. Especially if your brand angles toward a right-leaning customer base. This stuff is important. 

People are more worried about crime, but it’s complicated. When COVID was first raging, people were far less concerned about crime and violence in their communities – mostly because they were worried about a bunch of other stuff. It’s bouncing back right now, and it’s hard to tell if it’s real or sensational. The correlation between being concerned about crime & violence and watching TV news is significant. People are half as likely to be concerned about crime and violence if they watch MSNBC, versus Fox News. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.  

Two more articles from the CivicScientists:

This week’s popular questions:

Answer Key: What do you think?; Tiger Woods but he’s not an option; More than anyone, ever; Solo, for sure; Fuck yeah.

Hoping you’re well.


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