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I see some people on the Twitter saying that the Democrats should run a centrist candidate to get the votes of anti-Trump Republicans and right-leaning independents in 2020. (I see some other people arguing that being a centrist Democrat didn’t help Hillary in 2016, but let’s face it: nothing would have helped Hillary, short of not being Hillary.) I think this idea has merit, but obviously it’s just science fiction at this point. Where are the centrist Democrats hoping to run for president in 2020? I’m sure I don’t know.

Of course, “centrist,” like “moderate,” means something different to everyone. Merrick Garland was supposedly a “moderate” pick for the Supreme Court (not that it helped him!), but all “moderate” meant in his case was that he was similarly hostile to the rights of criminal defendants as a “conservative” is expected to be. Which is why, although I thought he deserved a hearing, I was relieved that he wasn’t made a Supreme Court justice because we don’t need any more anti-Fourth Amendment justices on the Supreme Court. I was more than happy to let Hillary Clinton pick the next SCOTUS justice, if there was a chance she’d nominate an actual liberal rather than a Garland-esque “law and order liberal,” which is the worst of both worlds: someone who always errs on the side of giving the government more power.

But don’t get me started on that topic.

Well, I don’t know, I may well come back to it later. Just don’t let me go off on a tangent about Garland vs. Gorsuch.

My impression is that when Republicans and other righties use the term “moderate,” they’re thinking of a Democrat who’s hawkish on foreign policy and/or conservative(-ish) on social issues. By contrast, there are no moderate Republicans, just traitors, aka RINOs. When Democrats say “moderate,” they’re thinking of aforementioned Democrats but also Republicans who are pro-choice. Literally, that one issue makes all the difference. A pro-choice Republican could never get the GOP presidential nomination, just as a pro-life Democrat could never get his/her party’s nomination. It will never happen, at least not in my lifetime. (Maybe when artificial womb technology has advanced enough that abortion can been abandoned in favor of embryo transplants? But maybe not even then.) Gay marriage is no longer an issue. Despite all the lefty fears that a so-called “conservative” majority on the SCOTUS will lead to thousands of gay couples having their marriages nullified and possibly being put into camps (that last part isn’t super clear), the marriage equality ship has sailed. Only the nuttiest right-wing nutters living on a unicorn ranch in Fantasyland believe that horse can be put back into the barn. Most social conservatives have shifted their focus to limiting the number of bakeries where gay couples can buy wedding cakes and keeping transgender ladies out of ladies rooms. I mean, obviously that’s chilling in its own way–imagine the humiliation of being forced to take your business to a bakery that wants it–but it’s not the nullification of legal marriages, and provided people on both sides can keep their crap together, it doesn’t have to lead to anything more sinister.

Back when Jon Huntsman was running for president, I knew lots of Democrats (Utahns and former Utahns) who sang his praises. I’m pretty sure that if Jon Huntsman had been pro-choice, he could have switched parties, run for president, and won both the Democratic primary (much to progressives’ dismay) and the general election (much to progressives’ relief, because God only knows who the GOP would have run against him). He’s Trump-tainted now, so I think that ship has also sailed, but someone in that mold could definitely win an election now. This wouldn’t make progressives happy, of course, but progressives won’t be happy until the United States miraculously becomes Sweden, so just keep that in perspective. (I’m sympathetic to progressives’ lament that there are no true left-wingers in the Democratic party, or at least none who are viable national candidates. There are no viable candidates who align with my values either, but c’est la vie.)

From a strictly political standpoint, the ideal Democratic candidate–the one most likely to win a general election–is one who is pro-choice, promises to fund all existing entitlement programs and expand Obamacare without raising taxes on working families, and say warm and fuzzy things about the troops and protecting American interests at home and abroad. (The less specific he is, the better.) And yes, he must be a “he.” America isn’t ready to elect a female Democrat (or non-binary person) because all female Democrats are perceived to be secretly commies. He should also be vaguely pro-Second Amendment, but not a fanatic or anything. He could talk about passing “common sense” gun control laws. (Nothing specific! Just common sense, mind you. Maybe something along the lines of a “national discussion.”) Immigration will be a tricky issue, but he should err on the side of being pro-immigrant, because that’s where the up-for-grabs votes are. As long as Trump is in office, anti-immigrant voters will side with him and his. It is safe to write them off. But maybe not safe to write off anti-Trump righties with security concerns, so no open borders stuff. Just slippery platitudes.

This is not the president the United States needs, of course, but the United States doesn’t want the president it needs. That much is clear.

I don’t know who the Democrats are thinking of running in 2020, but so far I’m not seeing anyone positioning themselves to lead the party. To be quite frank, I don’t have confidence in Democrats’ ability to focus on any issue long enough to win a presidential election. I’m not confident that they can even take back Congress this year. They’re like cats with a string, and Trump is holding the string. They never learn that he’s always going to move the string, they’re never going to catch it, and they should go play with something else. We can’t even keep people outraged about Homeland Security kidnapping refugee kids for more than a few days. And no, it’s not Trump’s fault for being such a bad person that a new scandal erupts every 2-3 days. Trump is a bad person, but he’s not going to stop being a bad person long enough for any one scandal to stick. It’s our job to make it stick, but we bore easily and need new outrages to motivate us to get up and tweet in the morning, so that’s on us. Not that I personally take responsibility. The “we” was figurative, you know? This is actually someone else’s problem.



It was a mere five weeks ago that Las Vegas had the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States. And two days ago 26 churchgoers, including children and babies, were murdered by one man with a gun. As Twitter and Facebook pointed out, it is now always “too soon” to talk gun control after a mass shooting because another one is just around the corner.

Of course, no one actually observes a decent mourning period after a mass shooting or any other tragedy, but it’s not because people are too political. It’s because their attention spans are too short. Ideally, we could take a day or two to grieve the dead before we started talking about possible measures to prevent future tragedies. For one thing, it usually takes at least a couple of days to get all of the relevant facts. For another thing, decisions made in the heat of the moment tend toward foolishness. (Think of the anti-terrorism measures taken in the wake of 9/11 and ask yourself how many of them seem like great ideas sixteen years later.) However, Twitter and Facebook are quite right that no one can afford to wait a day or two before putting in their two cents on gun control or whatever because in a day or two we’ll all be talking about something else.

Just by way of illustration–yesterday I saw a bunch of tweets about how useless praying is when it’s gun control we need…along with a bunch of other tweets about how Donald Trump is such an uncultured swine that he doesn’t know how to feed koi properly. Obviously, humans are capable of keeping more than one news story in their consciousness at the same time. Lots of important stuff happens every day. However, Donald Trump dumping a bunch of fish food in a koi pond is not one of them. Even on a slow news day, this story probably should not take up any of our consciousness. For one thing, it turned out that Trump was only doing what Prime Minister Abe had done moments before. For another thing, so the crap what? Twenty-six Americans have been murdered in their church, and there’s still a civil war in Syria, but I’m supposed to care that Donald Trump fed fish, correctly or incorrectly? Is this really page one material? Isn’t a Kardashian pregnant or something?

Yes, there’s also the whole Mueller investigation, but that’s so last week. We’ve all moved on. Five weeks ago 58 people were murdered and 546 injured in Las Vegas, but by the time the next mass shooting happened, we had all moved on. We’d all moved on weeks ago.

Anger is a legitimate response to grief. I understand why people react to a tragedy by expressing anger and frustration. It’s normal to seek someone or something to blame. It’s instinctive. It helps us feel safe. If something could have been prevented, that means we can prevent it from happening again. Of course, not all terrible things can be prevented. We know this intellectually, but it doesn’t stop us from trying–nor should it, really. I mean, I hope not. But we don’t take enough time to figure out why or how something happened, in order to effect actual change. We take enough time to express our outrage at the lack of action–because there’s no time to waste on mere grief without taking action–and then Trump says something stupid, and oh look, a squirrel. Does anyone know what’s happening with bump stocks these days? Have we banned those yet? We definitely haven’t figured out exactly what happened in Vegas (too soon for “what happens in Vegas” jokes), but we do know bump stocks were involved, so what’s the deal there? Does anyone still care, or are bump stocks so October? It’s all about “domestic violence loopholes” now. Until the next mass shooting, of course.

The sad part is that this terrible thing–twenty-six dead at the hands of a guy who was court-martialed for assaulting his wife and fracturing his infant son’s skull (and did a whopping one-year sentence for it)–actually could have been prevented, and under existing law, too. It was already illegal for him to buy a gun, but the Air Force didn’t enter his domestic violence conviction into the data base. Enforcing existing laws isn’t as sexy as making new laws, of course, but it would be an excellent place to start. The very best place, actually, since we don’t even have to get past the evil NRA lobby to do it. But we’ve been failing to enforce gun laws since before Columbine. I’m not holding my breath that anything will change. Not when it’s so much easier to complain that we’ll never have common-sense gun control because ‘Murica. But we’ll always have Donald Trump’s fish-feeding fiasco, in one form or another.




A while back I told my husband that what I missed most about the Obama administration was how I could go for days at a time without the President ever entering into my consciousness. I didn’t care for Pres. Obama as a politician—I mean, he wasn’t my cuppa, but at least he wasn’t in my face literally all the time. Of course, he would be less in my face if I were less on Twitter. But even outside of Twitter, he’s very much everywhere, it seems. For one thing, he always has to be the center of attention, so he’s always doing something to draw said attention to himself. For another thing, people who hate him can’t stop talking about him. I mean, right, here I am, talking about him. I get it. But I don’t want to. I’m doing this under duress!

Historically, I’ve reserved the word hate for politicians like Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong-Il. Really, truly horrible people. I don’t say that I hate U.S. politicians. As bad as some of them are, they’re not murderers or dictators or murdering dictators. I am personally indifferent to most politicians, even the ones I disagree with. Nancy Pelosi, I am indifferent to you. Same with Chuck Schumer. When I do dislike an American politician, it’s not really for their policy positions but more because I find them annoying. I disliked John Edwards because he was smarmy. (Although now that he is out of public life, my dislike has waned. I don’t dislike a man so much when he is down.) I disliked Harry Reid because he seemed like a jerk. I disliked Barbara Boxer because she was an idiot. (She’s probably still an idiot, but I don’t think about her much anymore. She’s still in the Senate, yeah? Just not much in the news anymore, I guess. Trump takes up all the space.)

Trump is in a different category than any of these other U.S. politicians I have actively disliked. It’s really not enough to say I actively dislike him. I kind of hate him. And yet, he’s not a murderer or a dictator. Obviously, he’d like to be a dictator, but lots of people would like to be dictators. He isn’t one because he can’t be one. If he could be, he would, but as I said, so would a lot of people. The point is, he’s still not a murderer. He doesn’t have rape and torture rooms for his enemies. I mean, we really need to keep things in perspective here. But he’s not a good person. In point of fact, he’s a bad person. Should he be roomies with Hitler in hell? Probably not. But he’s still a bad person. He’s a bully. He’s spent years using his power and influence to enrich himself at the expense of others, people who can’t defend themselves. He stokes racial hatred because it gets him attention. He might actually be a racist. He was still calling for the executions of the Central Park Five after they were exonerated. But that may be less because he’s a racist and more because he doesn’t care what’s true or false. He cares only about his ego. He enjoys humiliating people and exerting power over them. He seems to have no control over his emotions, at least none that he chooses to exercise. He’s not above anything. He just does want he wants because he can.

This sort of person can’t be a good leader. He can’t be a leader at all. Leadership is not in his wheelhouse. He’s a provocateur and a demagogue. He’s in this for himself, and not in a cool, lone-wolf, Han Solo way. More like a Jabba the Hutt way, only Jabba was a better businessman.

It was apparent from the beginning that he was unsuited to be President. I honestly don’t understand what his initial supporters were thinking, except that he was a celebrity and Americans do love celebrities. He had a certain magnetism, I guess. I mean, he had the ability to command people’s attention. I imagine that his early thought the same thing as the people who were initially skeptical but eventually endorsed him thought: they thought they could use him. They thought they could use him because they thought they could (somehow) control him. They were fools. If they couldn’t “reign him in” while he was merely a candidate, what made them think they could pull his strings when he was commander-in-chief? “This dude’s out of control, but once he has the nuclear codes, surely he’ll settle down.”

I confess it still baffles me. Maybe it was so obvious to me because it wasn’t my career and life’s work on the line. I don’t know. But whatever was clouding their judgment, the fact remains: Republican politicians fell in line behind Trump because they wouldn’t have been able to continue in the party otherwise. Paul Ryan couldn’t have remained Speaker of the House while opposing his party’s nominee. No one who opposed Trump could hope to get money for re-election. It wasn’t a problem of cowardice but of pride; they thought America couldn’t spare them. What they didn’t foresee was that Trump would prevent them from succeeding at the very jobs they’d sacrificed their dignity and integrity to keep. As I said, they thought they could use him. They didn’t think it would be the other way around. But it was, and it is.

Of course, Trump doesn’t deserve all the blame for the Republican party’s implosion. Trump wouldn’t have won the nomination if the Republicans had made serious efforts in the last, say, twenty years to build a diverse coalition based on common interests. They relied entirely too much on their advantage in various culture war battles and their advantage with white voters. They made no serious efforts to address the concerns of minority voters. This is not to say that no Republican ever tried to court minority votes. Of course, individual Republicans did, but not enough of them, and it was never a party priority, despite the country’s obviously shifting demographics. Well, Democrats over-relied on their advantage with minority voters; as 2016 amply demonstrated, the white vote is still plenty strong. Do Democrats deserve some blame for stoking racial tensions? Sure. But Republicans placed the blame for minority alienation entirely on Democratic/progressive rhetoric and took no responsibility for their failure to sell their policies to all Americans. They also failed to acknowledge where their policies hurt some Americans. (And they crapped all over the Fourth Amendment, but in fairness, everyone was doing that.)

So yeah, the Republicans screwed up, and here’s Trump. Of course, Trump couldn’t have won if the Democrats hadn’t also screwed up. But I’m not here to tell the Democrats what they did wrong. I don’t share the Democrats’ agenda. That’s why I quit being a Democrat. Well, as it turns out, I don’t share the Republicans’ agenda either, which is why I quit being a Republican. I’ve never been a political purist. I’m prepared to compromise on quite a lot. But I don’t share the Democratic vision for America’s future. And I don’t think the Republicans even have a vision for the future. I don’t think they themselves know what they’re trying to do, except maybe to cut taxes—and cutting taxes without cutting spending (which they clearly have no intention of doing) is just fiscally irresponsible. You had one job, Republicans! If you’re not even going to avoid flushing the economy down the toilet, what are you good for?

But back to Trump. Yes, I’m very angry about Trump. I can’t decide who I’m most angry at, though. I’m not angry at Trump himself. As horrible as he is, he’s never pretended to be otherwise. I feel a tremendous personal animus toward him because of what he is, but I’m not angry at him. He does what he gets paid to do. I’m angry at the media for propping him up, but I’m angry at Americans in general for worshiping celebrity in the first place. I’m angry at Democrats and progressives for keeping their outrage at 11 for every single freaking thing Trump does, as though every new thing is just as bad as the last thing and just as bad as the next thing, and the sky is always falling—which it may very well do, but how will we be able to tell that the sky is actually falling when it has been allegedly, continually falling since Trump took office? I mean, I know I said I didn’t want to give you advice, but save something for Act 2, good Lord. But maybe I’m most angry at these Republicans who keep defending Trump and putting party over principle every time, literally no matter how insane it gets. Technically, I’ve washed my hands of you all, but I keep waiting for you to hit rock bottom, and the bottom just keeps moving.

I can’t help wondering what would happen if a bunch of us got together and decided to ignore Pres. Trump for, I dunno, a week. I mean, just pretend he didn’t exist. If everyone just agreed to unfollow him on Twitter and just not pay attention to anything he said and go about our business as though he were an actual toddler throwing a tantrum, not just a grown man acting like one. I wonder if he’d spontaneously combust. I can’t help thinking it would be worth a try. Not that things would be so much better once he was gone. All the problems that led to Trump’s ascendency would still exist. But it would be so very satisfying, just on a personal level.

Talking about politics is so 2017. Unfortunately, it seems to be unavoidable. Probably because it’s still 2017.

There’s just so much political to talk about. Donald freaking Trump is president. I mean, that’s crazy, man. It’s crazy. He hasn’t even been president a fortnight, and so much has happened that people feel like they have to comment and argue about. I go on Facebook and literally 80% of my feed is about Donald Trump. It’s worse than when he was campaigning!

I feel like I should just try to forget Donald Trump is president, but that would require staying off the internet altogether, and I’m not really prepared to do that. The other thing is that as unpleasant as all the political talk is, it distracts me from what’s going on or not going on in my personal life. I’d write more about what’s going on in my personal life, but most of it involves my daughter, who is now an adult, and really, over the last few years I’ve tried to write less about anything that could be construed as an invasion of my kids’ privacy. Probably one of the reasons I’ve written less, period. Because my whole life centers around my kids—unfortunately! Suffice it to say, I’m facing some challenges as the parent of an adult. I’d tell you more, but that would definitely be an invasion of her privacy and therefore make me a worse person than I already am. I know none of you wants that.

So it’s sort of a toss-up—do I think about my failures as a parent, or do I think about America’s failures? America’s failures it is! That doesn’t mean anyone else wants to read about it. But is anyone reading anyway? Doubtful.

One of the advantages of living in Oregon has been that I haven’t had to call any of my congresspersons to ask them to oppose some crazy thing Trump has done, because they already do it automatically. Unfortunately, this knee-jerk opposition will include opposing Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Since I much prefer Gorsuch to the other dudes Trump was considering, I would like to ask my congresspersons to reconsider their reflexive opposition to every single thing Trump does. Unfortunately, I’m still a socially awkward dullard who hates to use the phone, so it looks like I shall be abdicating my responsibility as an informed citizen. Yeah, I’ve already given up. I just know I’m never going to pick up a phone and try to talk to a complete stranger about Supreme Court nominees. I may as well plan to give up carbs again. (I’m never doing that, btw.)

In November I voted to re-elect Ron Wyden as a senator from Oregon. I believe that made him the first Democrat I have voted for in the last 20 years. What can I say? It’s a strange time. The bar for candidates has been lowered to “not a complete nutter.” Ron Wyden and I disagree on a lot of things—maybe most things—but he strikes me as a person of integrity and someone interested in defending civil liberties, which is an increasingly rare cocktail among politicians, and also, he is not a complete nutter. So really, there’s my decision right there. I believe this is the first time I have ever voted for an Oregon politician who won something. So that’s kind of cool.

Anyway, I like Senator Wyden. I do think, however, he’s gone a little overboard with his opposition to Neil Gorsuch. I mean, I’d expect him to oppose anyone Trump nominates, but what he said was,  “Gorsuch represents a breathtaking retreat from the notion that Americans have fundamental Constitutional rights.” Obviously, he’s coming from a place where any Republican nominee must represent a breathtaking retreat from the notion that Americans have fundamental Constitutional rights, but I really wish he and the rest of the Democratic opposition in the Senate would try looking at things from a place where Republican nominees could be a lot worse. I mean, that’s the place I’m at. Donald Trump is in the White House, kids. When that’s your base line, it ought to change your perspective on some stuff.

If Democrats decide to block Gorsuch as payback for what the Republicans did with Merrick Garland, it will be no worse than what they (i.e. the Republicans) deserve. What the Republicans did in the case of Garland was disgraceful. Personally, I’m happy not to have Garland on the Supreme Court. These “law and order liberals” are the worst of both worlds, as far as I’m concerned. But the President is the President until the next guy becomes President, and there’s just no excuse for refusing to hold a hearing for his (or, theoretically, her) nominee. Unless said nominee is a serial killer or incompetent, said nominee should probably be confirmed too, but that perhaps is an overly quaint notion.

So if Democrats want to get back at Republicans for blocking Garland, I understand completely. Since that’s the childish way American politicians do things, I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge them the satisfaction. But I’d advise them to wait for the next SCOTUS nominee (assuming there is one—there are some awfully old people on the court these days), who is bound to be worse. Revenge is a dish best served cold, after all. Actually, I suggest that when the next vacancy comes up, they say something like, “Nah, it’s too close to the election. We should let the next President decide”—no matter how far away the election is. Because, as I said earlier, that argument is bullcrap. But also as I said earlier, Republicans will deserve it.

As a friend said on the Facebook, Democrats should certainly not be under the illusion that any magnanimous gesture they make here will be appreciated or reciprocated by the Republicans. (Why would it be? If the situation were reversed, magnanimity would be equally wasted on them.) They should confirm Garland because it’s the right thing to do, but that’s almost irrelevant in this day and age. I’m arguing that it would also be the strategically advantageous thing to do because a) as Trump nominees go, we could do a lot worse than a dude who’s skeptical of executive branch power and a critic of “overcriminalization” and b) it may not impress Republicans, but it will impress moderates, whom Democrats will need if they want to win some more elections.

I mean, Democrats will win more elections. It’s not like their party’s dead in the water or something. Their presidential candidate, an extremely unpopular person, won the popular vote! But showing a little bi-partisan good will goes a long way with moderates, of whom I think there are probably more than ever these days. We’re a week and a half into this administration, and ordinary Americans are already sick and tired of fighting. We can’t keep up this breakneck pace indefinitely. Does Trump look like he’s going to stop doing crazy stuff anytime soon? I don’t think he does. So save the outrage for the crazy stuff. You can’t take it up to 11 for every normal Republican thing that happens. This isn’t Mitt Romney’s America. (You should be so lucky! Harumph!)

But I reckon that, as always, the debate will come down to abortion. We can whittle away at the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments all we like, but as long as abortion remains legal or gets illegal, that’s all anyone will care about. Bah! It’s enough to make me contemplate my own personal problems.

There’s been a lot of talk about “fake news” since the election. So much talk that “fake news” no longer means “fake news” but “biased articles we don’t like.” Personally, I don’t have a problem with fake news. I can tell when news is fake, and if you can’t tell when news is fake, then I don’t have a lot of confidence in your ability to deal with real news, so I give up on that score. I have even less of a problem with biased news. I expect unbiased news reports about as much as I expect Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and Donald Trump’s spiritual advisor to walk into a bar. I assume that reporters are biased; I factor it into my analysis of their reporting. What bothers me more than fake news and biased news is crap news, i.e. “news” about stupid crap that doesn’t matter to anyone and drowns out issues that are actually relevant to people’s lives.

A prime example of crap news is whatever dumbass thing the President-Elect just tweeted about that makes no difference to anyone but only shows what a dumbass jerk he is. WE ALREADY KNOW HE’S A DUMBASS JERK. THIS ISN’T “NEWS.”

The crap news that is bugging me right now is this business about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, saying that schools need to have guns on campus to protect students from grizzly bears. All the liberals are like, “OMG GRIZZLY BEARS THAT’S SO STUPID,” and all the conservatives are like, “OMG THAT’S A GROSS DISTORTION OF WHAT SHE SAID,” and really, both of them are correct, but the most correct response would be “OMG EVERYONE SHUT UP ABOUT GUNS AND BEARS SHE CAN’T GIVE A COHERENT RESPONSE TO A RELEVANT QUESTION ABOUT FEDERAL LAW REGARDING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES”—but that last one is more than 140 characters, so good luck.

I have four kids, three of whom are still in public K-12 schools (the fourth is at a public community college) and two of whom have disabilities. I’m as interested in the success of my disabled children as I am in my other children’s, and I’m grateful to be living in a day and age and society in which we’ve collectively made efforts to ensure that disabled students get appropriate educations. However, I am not naïve about the limitations and drawbacks of the current system under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I am totally open to new and different policy proposals for ensuring that disabled students have access to an appropriate education.

From what I’ve read, i.e. what I’ve managed to glean from reports that aren’t obsessed with her unnatural fear of grizzlies, Betsy DeVos’s general philosophy seems to be that the federal government should have less control over education and states and locales should have more. That is a general philosophy that I happen to share. No, I’m not some kind of wacko who thinks school districts should just hold bake sales and hope for the best. I’m neither a purist nor a fanatic, but I am skeptical that the federal government, as far removed as it is from most citizens’ lives, can effectively micro-manage the educations of all students. Just a healthy skepticism, that’s all I have, not a partisan axe to grind or a political hobby horse I want to ride.

The fact is that my family does just fine under the status quo. We’re above-average in terms of income and financial resources; my husband and I are both college-educated; one of us is a full-time caregiver. We have many advantages over other families, particularly when it comes to providing for the needs of our disabled children. We can supplement our children’s public education. We can afford to live in a good school district with good schools. We can afford private therapies for our children with disabilities. We can afford babysitters to watch our kids while we go to endless IEP meetings and fight with the school district over what services they’re going to provide. We can take time off work to go to these meetings. If push comes to shove, we can afford to hire a lawyer or advocate to help us navigate the process of getting our kids the services they’re legally entitled to. The federal government doesn’t need to change anything on our account.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of families in this country who don’t enjoy the same advantages we have. Whatever their neighborhood school is, no matter how awful, they’re stuck with it. Whatever the school district offers in terms of services for their disabled children, no matter how inadequate, that’s what they’ll get. These are the families who aren’t being served by the current system because they don’t have the resources to navigate it. So yes, I’m very interested to learn how a “federalist” (i.e. local) approach to education would benefit students across a spectrum of needs. I’m philosophically biased toward federalism and local control to begin with, so you don’t even need to work that hard to sell it to me—but you do have to sell it. You can’t just say, “Leave it up to the states,” like it’s some Jedi mind trick. That doesn’t even work on me, let alone all the folks who think “states’ rights” is just another way of saying “slavery” or “segregation.”

I’m not super-convinced that anyone in Washington really wants to have a substantive discussion about education policy, though. I haven’t seen reports of any particularly substantive questioning of Betsy DeVos by anyone in the Senate. I see that she can’t explain what she plans to do (or not do) to improve the lot of American students, but I also see that some dumbass from Connecticut wanted to spend his five minutes asking her what she thinks about guns in schools WHEN IT’S NOT THE EDUCATION SECRETARY’S JOB TO KEEP GUNS OUT OF SCHOOLS OR PUT THEM THERE, REGARDLESS OF WHAT SHE THINKS. Honestly, does anyone think Sandy Hook could have been prevented if the Secretary of Education (whoever he/she was at the time) had just been more pro-active about keeping guns out of school? I meant that to be a rhetorical question, but just in case anyone’s raising their hand, let me just say NO GRIZZLY BEAR OR PSYCHOPATH HAS EVER BEEN STOPPED BY THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION. Whether or not there should be guns in school or no guns in school is certainly debatable. By all means, have that debate. MAYBE IN YOUR STATES OR LOCALES, WHICH ARE IN CHARGE OF GUN LAWS.

I should probably not call the senator from Connecticut a dumbass when I’ve never met him and he’s probably a perfectly lovely person who happens to feel strongly about gun control for understandable reasons, but golly, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and not everything can be about gun control.

I should also probably note that Trump talked on the campaign trail about banning gun-free schools, as though this is something the President should even be able to do, let alone actually do. To this I can only say NO PRESIDENT HAS EVER BEEN STOPPED BY THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION AND THIS COUNTRY REALLY NEEDS TO HAVE A COME TO JESUS ABOUT EXECUTIVE POWER. FORWARD SLASH RANT

The reality is that it probably doesn’t matter who the Secretary of Education is if this is the level of discourse we’re going to have about education policy. A meaningful discussion of the most important issues will take longer than the 45 seconds the public is willing to spend on it. SO FINE JUST TALK ABOUT BEARS.

So Donald Trump was elected President of the United States last week. Needless to say, this was unexpected in many quarters, including mine. I wish “silly” were all I felt right now. But what are you gonna do? Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, my initial thought was, well, let’s hope I was wrong about a hell of a lot more than Trump’s chances of winning the election. I mean, I do fervently hope that. Unfortunately, my mistake here was not underestimating Trump. It was overestimating the voting public. But that’s water under the bridge.

I had been bracing myself for four years of President Hillary Clinton, and I must have done a spectacular job, because last week I was numb. I felt nothing. Not sadness, not disappointment, not anger. I think I must have worn myself out with anger over the last year or so, because I had nothing left in the emotional reservoir. I was nothing but purely dumbfounded. I think, also, that I’m the type that tends to be calmer in a crisis than in a state of uncertainty. So I said to myself, “Well, okay. We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out.”

So far, it isn’t encouraging. Reince Priebus has been named chief of staff. Fine. Yawn. I mean, Reince Priebus, like most Republicans, is still dead to me and all, but fine. But Steve Bannon has been named “chief strategist and senior counselor.” This does not bode well for the Trump presidency having a different tone from the Trump campaign. Hillary was right to say in her concession speech that Trump deserved a chance to lead. But for me to have any confidence in Trump’s ability to lead requires that he distance himself from the alt-Right and its racist, xenophobic, morally bankrupt agenda. It would appear that Trump is not interested in doing any such thing. All signs indicate that he’s just going to keep doing what he’s been doing. I still have a tiny door of my mind open to the idea that he may change and end up surprising us all, but it’s very tiny and Steve Bannon keeps standing in front of it. Very hard to let in rays of hope. Sad!

The conservative Republicans who argued for supporting Trump in the election said that if worse came to worst–if Trump turned out to be as crappy a president as the rest of us thought he was going to be–we could always impeach him. That was a lot funnier before last Tuesday, when it was just candidate Trump Republicans were rolling over for. Needless to say, I am not holding my breath for a Republican campaign to impeach President Trump. But, you know, there’s still that tiny door Steve Bannon is standing in front of. It’s possible that there are some congressional Republicans who intend to keep an attitude of constant vigilance. I can’t see or hear them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there at all. Trump hasn’t been inaugurated yet, after all. Maybe they’re just saving their strength, honing their pitchforks in secret, waiting for their opportunity to strike.

This is where I would ordinarily break out in sarcastic laughter, but like I said a few sentences ago, it’s not funny anymore. This little dream is all I have.

The thing that is currently driving me crazy is when some (some) Democrats go on about how horrible the next four years are going to be, what an unprecedented evil is about to take over the White House, and then they say something like, “But if we impeach him, Mike Pence becomes president.” ::shudder::  I’ve encountered statements like this on Facebook, Twitter, and actual real-life conversations with otherwise normal-seeming liberals.

Kids, you know Mike Pence is not my guy. He would not have been my first (or second or third or fourth or fifth) choice to be president. But if we’re going to work together on this keep-Trump-from-destroying-the-republic project, we’re going to have to get the narrative straight. Is Trump the worst person ever to be selected to rule the free world, or is he actually better than a true-believing social conservative like Mike Pence? The last two Republican presidential candidates were also social conservatives. Would they be equally horrible replacements for Donald Trump? Would you really rather have Donald Trump than anyone who opposes gay marriage and abortion, even though Donald Trump supposedly has the most racist political agenda since George Wallace? Is that your final answer?

People used to joke about Joe Biden being President Obama’s insurance against assassination. As far as normal, i.e. not alt-Right, Republicans are concerned, Mike Pence isn’t any sort of insurance. Paul Ryan would do cartwheels if Donald Trump got bored and resigned and Mike Pence became president, as would every other Republican I know–including ones who voted for Trump. (Note: I don’t know any alt-Right folks outside of Twitter. I live in a true bubble. Envy me.) As I said (or implied) earlier, I don’t think anyone’s champing at the bit to bring impeachment proceedings against their own party’s president, but if push came to shove, no Republican in their right mind is going to lose sleep over Mike Pence becoming president. Perhaps that just confirms in your mind that they are horrible human beings, because you keep saying as bad as Trump is, Mike Pence is somehow worse.

Let me get this straight.

Trump is just like Hitler, but bring on the pogroms because God forbid we have someone in the White House who might appoint a Supreme Court justice who might in a million years be inclined to overturn Roe v. Wade. Abortion is what makes women human, and if you don’t get that, you have no business being anywhere near the nuclear codes. Trump might round up all the Muslims into concentration camps, but at least we won’t have someone in the White House who wouldn’t bake a cake for a gay wedding. At least we won’t have gone that far. As long as Trump is running the country, everyone who isn’t a white male is in grave personal danger, but at least we won’t have a president who believes there’s such a thing as biological sex and that “males” and “females” should use different bathrooms, because that would be awful. You may as well set the Constitution on fire! Goodbye, Bill of Rights! Trump is the worst thing to happen to the country ever, but what really makes him the worst is that his replacement would be even worse!

This is an excellent strategy for getting people to take you seriously. No one will ever guess that you’re mentally twelve and know nothing about history or how the government works.

Let me wax like our current president and be clear: I don’t have it in for Roe v. Wade, I’m okay with gay couples being married, and I really don’t care who uses what bathroom. I have bigger fish to fry. I should think you would too, but maybe not, since you’ve determined that there’s no advantage to be gained by getting rid of President Trump if he isn’t going to be replaced by someone of your choosing. Believe me, I would like to start all over too, but we can’t. This is the hand we’ve been dealt. So what shall we do?

Well. We could start by toning down the rhetoric just a tad–or, failing that, we could try applying it to ONE PERSON AT A TIME, and maybe pretend to understand the difference between a reasonable, i.e. not insane, person with whom we disagree on policy and a demagogue/megalomaniac who only ran for president because he wanted the attention. JUST A SUGGESTION.

The good news is that no matter what happens with the presidency, I think we’re going to pull through this, America. And if not, I’ve heard Jesus is coming. ::fingers crossed::


Yesterday, against my better judgment, I answered a phone call that turned out to be someone from the Trump campaign soliciting a donation. (In my defense, I’ve been expecting a rather important call from someone whose number I don’t know, which is the only reason I picked up the phone.) This gentleman thanked me for my support of the Republican candidate and asked if I would be willing to offer additional support during the home stretch to ensure that Hillary Clinton is defeated. I told him I’d never donated to Donald Trump and had no intention of starting. He then tried to tell me how awful it will be if Hillary becomes president. I interrupted him to say I couldn’t possibly care less, because I was too tired and annoyed to say what I was really feeling, which was “Tell your boss that he can enjoy my donation IN HELL.” Still, when I hung up, Mister Bubby said, “Mom, you totally dissed that guy.” No, not really, son, but am I ever sick and tired of hearing how I have to vote for Trump or America is doomed.

First of all, America is probably not doomed. I mean, not yet. Well, it might be doomed. It very well could be doomed, but America has survived quite a lot in its short history. I see no reason to think it can be brought down entirely by the likes of Hillary. I remember when her husband was elected in 1992. I was at college, and the morning after Election Day, someone had written on the wall, “We’re doomed.” And yet here we still are. We survived eight years of Bill Clinton, eight years of George W. Bush, and (almost) eight years of Barack Obama. Will Hillary be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? I suppose it’s possible, but pardon me if I’m skeptical. It’s not that I think that things can’t get worse, that a president can’t do real damage. I just think the damage Hillary will allegedly cause has been greatly exaggerated. America may get battered a great deal over the next few years, but she will probably survive.

Instead of worrying so much about America, these Republicans should worry more about themselves— because it’s the Republican party that’s really in trouble. So many alleged conservatives say that while Trump is surely not an ideal candidate (an understatement if there ever was one), he is nevertheless the only thing standing between us and the apocalypse Hillary Clinton is guaranteed to bring about. I’ve already talked about why this argument is illogical and crazy, but I guess I’m going to talk about it again because it keeps being it.

Trump is not a conservative. He is not even really a Republican. Not in the sense that he has any loyalty to the Republican party or to any of the ideals the Republican party has historically claimed to represent. To him the Republican party is a vehicle to satisfy his ego and his narcissism. He doesn’t care what other Republicans want. He cares only about himself and his own aggrandizement. If this wasn’t painfully obvious from the beginning—as it should have been—it should be excruciatingly obvious now that he is actively trying to sabotage the re-election campaigns of individual Republicans who have been insufficiently deferential to him personally. If he had any intention of enacting a conservative agenda—particularly those hypothetical Supreme Court appointments Republicans are selling their souls over–sabotaging other Republicans is the last thing he would be doing, because enacting a conservative agenda requires a Republican congress. But Trump clearly doesn’t care if he has a Republican congress or not. What are some reasons he might not care? Well, he might plan on junking the constitution and becoming a dictator. Or maybe he doesn’t think it matters what he does, as long as he can be president while he does it. Neither of these things bodes well for Republicans or conservatism.

If Trump is elected, he will not govern as a conservative. He will not. Unless you define “conservative” as “acting like a jerk.” For the sake of this blog post, we will not be defining conservatism in this fashion. So if Trump is elected, who will save America from the dire consequences of not having a conservative president? Not Congress, because if Trump is president and Republicans manage to keep control of the House and the Senate, Republicans will be doing whatever Trump wants to do, not the other way around. And we’ve already established that Trump himself has no commitment to a conservative agenda.

The way Democrats usually fight a Republican presidential candidate is to tell everyone he’s going to outlaw birth control and throw Grandma off a cliff. But it is very difficult this year to argue that Donald Trump is going to do something like defund Planned Parenthood or reform Social Security—because he’s said he’s not going to do those things. All the Democrats have on him is that he’s a repugnant piece of human garbage. It must be tough. For some reason, Republicans want to get this repugnant piece of human garbage elected in exchange for absolutely nothing. Hillary will probably be a bad president. I don’t dispute that. She will certainly not be the kind of president I, as a limited-government conservative, want. But neither will Donald Trump. Donald Trump will also be a bad president because he is so much like Hillary Clinton, only more racist and more misogynist. If he is president, the Republicans will own his racist, misogynist, big-government authoritarian administration, and while that may not mean the end of America, it will mean the end of the GOP as a vehicle for limited-government conservatism, and it will be the beginning of the end of the GOP as a viable party in the long term.

Republicans will be better off with a bad president they can openly oppose than with a bad president they have to support—and they will have to support him because they already feel obligated to support him now and he’s not even elected yet. If Republicans spend the next four years supporting a racist and misogynist authoritarian, they will demonstrate that they have no intention of appealing to any constituents who are not white males. White males are certainly an important demographic; they have served Republicans well over the years. But they are not as important as they were when no one else could vote. And as a percentage of the electorate, their numbers are shrinking. If the Republican party wants to win elections in the future, they have to start persuading people who are not white males to vote Republican. They can only do that by showing how their governing philosophy serves the interest of all Americans. They can only do that by addressing the concerns of people who are not white males. You do not address the concerns of people who are not white males by supporting a racist, misogynist, authoritarian jerkface. The Republican party was already in trouble before this election. For the last 30 years support for Republicans has gone down among all demographic groups except for white men, and Republicans have done little to nothing to reverse these trends. In this election cycle they have done everything they can to make things worse. They’ve decided they don’t even need women anymore. This is not the behavior of a political party that is destined to survive.

Frankly, I am no longer invested in the Republican party surviving. I think it has shown itself to be rotten at the core, and it probably deserves to die. But I assume Republicans do want to survive. I assume they want to win elections in the future. If so, they have to start caring about something besides winning elections. They have to stand for something that isn’t big government lite with a side of racism and misogyny. They have to repudiate Donald Trump and Trumpism. They have to be willing to exchange a handful of angry white male voters for a broader coalition of other voters. This election is lost. It’s too late to do anything about it. But if Republicans ever want to win another election, they must stop hoping against hope that a miracle will occur this year and Donald Trump will be elected because Donald Trump getting elected is the worst possible thing that could happen to Republicans. Republicans need to face that reality and move on dot org. They’re going to be in the doghouse for at least the next four years. Hopefully they use that time constructively and learn something from their mistakes. But I for one am not holding my breath.

I’ve been catching up on my political podcasts while doing dishes and laundry (and catching up on neither of those). It’s been easy to fall behind lately, for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s cute to listen to a couple of conservative pundits talking a few weeks ago about how there’s still hope for the Republicans this year, and sometimes it’s too painful. Yesterday I was listening to Thomas Sowell give the case for voting for Trump, even though he’s patently unqualified. Thomas Sowell is undoubtedly smarter than I am, in more ways than one, but he has a giant blind spot when it comes to the lesser-of-two-evils saga that is Clinton vs. Trump.

Sowell’s argument (at least at this particular time) was that this election is like being in an airplane that’s about to crash. If you jump out of the plane, any number of things could happen: your parachute could fail to open, you could land in the middle of the ocean and drown, you could land in the middle of an inhospitable landscape and die of exposure or wild animal attack or whatever, etc., etc. None of it looks good. Your chance of survival is slim. But if you stay in the plane, you’re definitely going to die. According to Sowell, voting for Hillary is staying in the plane, whereas voting for Trump is jumping out and hoping for the best.

This argument has a certain logical appeal, if you’re a conservative (or if you just think Hillary is really, really horrible). It’s similar to the argument I hear most often from people who claim to find Trump distasteful but feel they have no choice but to vote for him because Hillary would be worse. But this argument disregards the following:

a) Donald Trump lies.

b) Donald Trump reneges on his promises.

c) Donald Trump has no particular loyalty to conservative principles or to the Republican party.

Those three things are facts. They’re as certain as death by plane crash. They have been amply demonstrated over his many years in business and public life. They aren’t worth trying to dispute. Most reluctant Trump-supporters will admit that voting for him is purely a gamble–it’s jumping out of an airplane–but no matter how dire the possibilities, the gamble still beats what they (claim to) know will happen if Hillary becomes president.

The problem, though, is that we’re not electing a dictator (regardless of what Trump would like to believe). We still have three branches of government, with the accompanying checks and balances and whatnot, and Congress still a) makes the laws, b) confirms Supreme Court appointments, and c) overrides presidential vetoes. (They do some other stuff too, but you get the picture.) No president–not even a President Trump–can just do away with Congress.

Not that no one has ever tried, of course, but Congress remains stubbornly with us nonetheless. At least for the time being.

So what are we sure would happen if Hillary became president? Well, it would depend a lot on which party controlled Congress. If the Democrats take back the Senate (which seems plausible) and the House (which doesn’t), perhaps she’ll be able to do quite a bit of damage, as far as conservative Republicans are concerned. But as long as there are Republicans in both houses of Congress, and certainly if there is a Republican majority in either house, she will face significant opposition. She’ll probably be as ham-strung as Pres. Obama has been the last seven years. No, Pres. Obama hasn’t been nearly ham-strung enough for some people’s tastes, but he’s certainly accomplished less than he wanted to, and less than his supporters wanted him to. Most importantly, Republicans in Congress have provided arguments against his agenda. Pretty crap arguments in a lot of cases, but still–there was opposition, opportunities to articulate conservative principles as an alternative (even if they were sometimes–and spectacularly–squandered).

There’s no reason to think things would be different with President Hillary Clinton, unless you think Hillary is magic. (Most Republicans don’t believe Hillary to be magic.)

On the other hand, let’s say Donald Trump becomes president. Unlikely and gross, but just for the sake of argument, let’s say he does. If Republicans don’t control both houses of Congress, Trump is going to have a tough time enacting a conservative agenda, even if he’s inclined to do so. And there’s no indication that he is so inclined. Quite the opposite, in fact. Without Republican majorities to worry about, Trump will be free to cut whatever deals he wants with Democrats, and there’s no reason to think those deals would be anything close to what Republicans would want. (Obamacare, after all, was nothing close to what Democrats wanted. Chew on that for a bit.)

Trump is not himself a conservative. He doesn’t care about what conservatives want. He doesn’t care if the Supreme Court tilts right or left. Why would he? The argument that he would surround himself with “good” advisers is pretty weak, considering that Trump repeatedly ignores the advice of people working on his campaign. He’s too arrogant and narcissistic to take advice as a candidate. Why would he suddenly humble himself if he became leader of the free world?

And here’s the clincher: there’s also no indication that Trump wants a Republican-controlled Congress. He’s pissed beyond reason that Republicans are pulling their support in the wake of these proliferating sex scandals. To him, party loyalty is a game that he plays to make people dance for him. He toyed with supporting Paul Ryan’s and John McCain’s primary challengers, even after Ryan and McCain had endorsed him, just because he liked feeling powerful. And now that Ryan has (sort of) abandoned him (without actually rescinding his endorsement), Trump wants to punish him. He wants to punish everyone who’s been insufficiently enthusiastic about supporting a sexual predator for president. He wants Ryan to lose, and he wants other Republicans to lose. He’s happy to encourage his supporters to vote for him and against Republicans down ballot. He doesn’t care about a conservative agenda. He doesn’t care about a Republican agenda. The only agenda he cares about is his own, and if you think that will change once he becomes president, well, as Sarah Palin once said, you’re living on a unicorn ranch in fantasy land.

There’s a worse-case scenario, though, in my opinion. Let’s say Trump becomes president and the Republicans retain majorities in the House and the Senate. This seems the unlikeliest of all scenarios, but it’s the scenario Thomas Sowell and other Republicans are pulling the ripcord for. Republicans have not stood up to Trump as their presidential candidate. Why would they stand up to Trump as their president? Paul Ryan felt he had no choice but to support his party’s candidate if he wanted to remain Speaker of the House. Is he suddenly going to stop wanting to be Speaker of the House when Trump is the Republican president? I mean, I know he initially said he didn’t want the job, but apparently he’s gotten pretty attached to it. The time to give it up would have been July, not January 2017 or later.

Republicans will be expected to support their president (just as Democrats were expected to support President Obama), and it won’t matter that Trump’s agenda bears no resemblance to theirs, any more than it matters now. Once Trump is elected, he’ll have no reason to even pretend to care about what conservatives think. (And I don’t think he’s doing such a hot job of pretending now.) Conservatives will have to pretend to care about what he wants and support whatever crap thing he wants to do because, apparently, what these guys care about the most is preserving their own power, and if Trump helps them do that, they’re not going to go against him. (No matter how many women he gropes.)

What this means is that what would be present in a Hillary Clinton presidency–conservative opposition to the president’s scary, scary agenda–would not be present in a Trump presidency. And there is zero reason to believe that Trump’s agenda would be less scary or authoritarian than Clinton’s. (In fact, it could be worse, for all we know. Worse than burning alive in a plane crash? Maybe!) The GOP as a vehicle of conservative policy is already more or less dead, as far as I’m concerned, but with a Trump victory, it would not be just merely dead, but really, most sincerely dead.

So in other words, stay in the plane or don’t stay in the plane, but don’t kid yourself about what’s possible versus what’s probable.

About a year ago, Mona Charen said something like, “If we end up with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as our nominees for president, we will have proved that we are not a serious country and probably unfit for self-government.” This was back before anyone had cast a vote, when conservative commentators were still under the illusion that Trump’s campaign would eventually fizzle out (because…come on), allowing for an actual statesperson to win the GOP nomination. Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out. But I think Mona Charen had it right.

A few weeks before the Republicans officially nominated Trump at their convention, but after it was clear that there was no political will to block his nomination, I took the relatively meaningless action to change my party registration to “none.” I’m not a Democrat, and if Republicans care more about not pissing off some white supremacists than they do about limited government, personal liberty, and (at the risk of sounding corny) character, then I’m definitely not one of those either. (I mean, obviously the Republicans were always less committed to limited government and personal liberty than they claimed to be, but when you’re not even willing to pay lip service to those things anymore, I  guess that’s where we part ways.) So I’ve become one of those insufferable people who can’t bring themselves to vote for the lesser of two evils. Believe me, I’m not proud of it. But it’s who I am.

So I’ve been watching the Republican implosion with some detachment. I am not emotionally invested in the GOP’s survival. As far as I’m concerned, they can all go to hell.*

*Except for Senators Ben Sasse (NE), Jeff Flake (AZ), Mike Lee (UT), Mark Kirk (IL), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Representatives Mike Coffman (CO), Barbara Comstock (VA), Charlie Dent (PA), Frank Upton (MI), Carlos Curbelo (FL), Bob Dold (IL), Mia Love (UT), and Governor Brian Sandoval (NV), who have never endorsed Trump. (I am only counting elected officials here. Republicans not currently holding elective office who opposed Trump before it was cool can also stay out of hell, FWIW. But the rest of them–dead to me. IN HELL.)

To me it has never been much of a silver lining to know that one day Trump supporters were going to rue the day they endorsed him. I don’t believe Trump true-believers will ever rue anything; they’ll just blame his downfall on the unfaithful “cucks” (of which, I guess, I am one). As I’ve said before–maybe elsewhere, but maybe also in this space, before I became so disgusted with life that I couldn’t bring myself to write about it), this election has accomplished the thing I thought was impossible: I have become more cynical about my fellow human beings. It’s hard enough to accept that a significant fraction of the people in this country a) are straight up racist and/or b) just want to watch the world burn. It’s much harder to watch previously-decent-seeming people, including friends and relatives, argue that the only thing standing between us and total annihilation is a corrupt, race-baiting dirtbag, because at least he’s not Hillary Clinton.

I know it drives Democrats crazy when people say Trump and Clinton are equally poor choices. Frankly, I’m loath to say that myself. I tend to agree with P.J. O’Rourke, who said that they’re both unacceptable, but Clinton is unacceptable within normal parameters. I tend to agree with that, and yet I still can’t bring myself to vote for her. If I lived in a swing state, I might be tempted, but since I do not, and since Hillary Clinton is destined to take Oregon in any case, I feel free to choose an even lesser evil than she.

It must be very frustrating for Democrats to have a candidate who is so poorly situated to attack Donald Trump on so many fronts. Hillary has this going for her: she’s probably not a racist, and she’s probably not mentally ill. That’s not nothing, of course–in any other election year, it would be, but not this one. Her temperament is fine (that’s a winning slogan), and she’s not a racist, but by every other measure, she and Trump are a bit pot and kettle. The main difference is that she’s used her career in public service to enrich herself, increase her own personal power, and bully others, whereas Trump has done all those things without being elected (or his spouse being elected) first. (And if you think he’s going to stop once he’s elected, you’re an idiot.)

This latest news about Trump being caught on tape boasting about sexually assaulting women is gross, of course. Hillary would never do that. Bill would probably never do that–boast about it, I mean. He’s certainly sexually assaulted women. Hillary stood by him, for reasons none of us can know and, in my opinion, aren’t our business. But as a Facebook friend of a Facebook friend put it, whatever peace she made with his infidelities, she only made peace with Bill; she made sure the women paid. No one forced her to participate in personal attacks against his accusers. She says now that “women should be believed,” but the unspoken asterisk is “unless you’re saying my husband is the one who groped you, in which case you’re a lying whore colluding with our political enemies.”*

*To be sure, Bill Clinton had political enemies dead set on ruining him. I would never dispute that. But if you don’t want to get impeached, maybe try not breaking the law, see how that goes.

So I think Hillary would be better off not bringing this issue up. I mean, it’s not like she needs to. She’s already not-racist and not-crazy, and that seems to be enough this year.

Unlike a lot of conservatives, I have never disliked Hillary on a personal level. I don’t find her “shrill” or “annoying.” No, she doesn’t have her husband’s charisma. Few people do. Actually, I find her relative awkwardness somewhat charming. (Speaking as the awkward spouse of a charismatic person, I guess I relate to her.) I remember during the impeachment crisis, Larry Elder said, “I think Hillary has the heart of a lion.” Yes, she does. Unfortunately, that in itself does not make her a good role model in general.

I think that at least some of the animosity toward Hillary can be fairly attributed to old-fashioned sexism or misogyny. It isn’t that there aren’t things about Hillary to dislike, but the intensity of the dislike that has always been there, even before we had such detailed evidence of her personal flaws, has never seemed reasonable to me. It’s unfortunate that she’s the first female presidential candidate (and will probably be the first female president) because so many people will be out to get her not only because they hate her politics but because they hate her. Her supporters will inevitably characterize opposition to her in terms of sexism and misogyny, which will not be untrue, but it will hardly be the whole truth. (It would have been much better if the first woman president had been a conservative, because then we’d know that people were only opposing her because she was a heartless bitch, and not because she had the wrong set of chromosomes.)

A fair number of Republicans are calling for Trump to drop out of the race, which would be hilarious if it weren’t so infuriating. As though Trump has just now crossed the un-crossable line. Give me a break. You knew he was a dirtbag when you decided to support him. You gambled on more disgusting evidence not coming forward, which was stupid. I hope you feel very stupid. I hope you feel like punching yourself in the face, and I hope you actually do it because it would save me the trouble. There’s no replacing Trump at this point, and even if there were, there are so few Republicans who haven’t tainted themselves by their association with him. You’ve demonstrated that you value your personal power more than any conservative principles you may claim. You don’t deserve to lead this country because you’re not leaders. You’re cowards. Cynical cowards, which is the worst kind.

But I truly don’t understand Democrats calling for Trump to drop out. They should just accept the gift Republicans have given them this year (and will probably keep giving, for years to come). Maybe they think it’s just too easy. They like having to work a little on their negative campaigning. I don’t know. What I do know is that if it had been any other Republican running against Hillary, they would still be claiming that she was far preferable to that horrible person who wants to take away Grandma’s Social Security and make birth control illegal, so I wish they’d spare me their indignation.

I was going to call this “Vote Trump or Baby Jesus kills this puppy,” but I didn’t think the post could possibly live up to that title.

So I’ve been pretty bummed since the Indiana primary. I didn’t realize I was entertaining any vestiges of optimism in my soul prior to the point when Ted Cruz dropped out of the presidential race. Ted Cruz was the source of my optimism, ladies and gentlemen. What has this world come to?

Of course, John Kasich is out now too, but whatever. Do you know, 2016 was supposed to be the first presidential election where there was going to be more than one candidate left standing by the time Oregon’s primary rolled around, and I was actually going to have a choice between (or among) two (or more) candidates? Now all my dreams are officially dead.

Just kidding. Most of my dreams died ages ago, but I’m sure I still have one or two lurking in the old subconscious. Of course, I won’t know what they are until someone or something finally kills them, but they must be there, because if this election has taught me anything, it’s that things can always get worse.

Back in September or October, Mona Charen said something on her podcast like, “If the United States chooses Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as their nominees for president, we’ll have proved that we’re not a serious country and are probably unfit for self-government.” And I thought, surely it will not come to that. Well, that’s what Mona Charen herself thought, and look where we are now. I know a lot of you gentle readers are Hillary fans. Some of my best friends are Hillary fans. Some of you may even be my best friends. I will acknowledge that Hillary has government experience where Trump has none. I will also acknowledge that she appears to be, for the most part, mentally stable. I mean, as far as I can tell, which is more than I can say for some presidential candidates I know. I won’t pretend those two things aren’t assets in her favor. But good Lord, what a pretty pass we’ve come to when millions of Americans are voting for someone strictly on the basis of her not being demonstrably insane.

It’s not that I dislike Hillary on a personal level. It might be pure contrariness on my part, but I never got why people hated her so much–except for the obvious reason, of course. I have to admire her moxie. Not to mention her chutzpah. And I don’t find her voice shrill or her laugh annoying. I would much rather spend an hour shooting the breeze with Hillary Clinton than with Barbara Boxer or Harry Reid. (I don’t have strong feelings about Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer.) Unfortunately, she’s thoroughly corrupt and a congenital liar. I don’t think she murdered Vince Foster (or anyone else), but there’s not much else I’d put past her. As I’ve said before, probably in this very e-space, I’d feel like the veriest chump voting for her. But I still feel less sick to my stomach about her winning this race than the alternative.

Of course, the likelihood of Donald Trump winning the general election is so small that it’s hardly worth considering. But that isn’t stopping many Republicans from hitching their wagon to him, on the off chance that they can prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency–as though a Hillary Clinton presidency were the worst possible thing that could happen to this country. In my opinion, would Hillary Clinton be a bad president? Yes. Would she be worse than Barack Obama? I don’t know. Possibly, possibly not. As Hillary might say, what difference at this point does it make? When the alternative is Donald Trump, who is a) an emotionally unstable, volatile, unprincipled bully and b) not remotely qualified to hold any governmental office, let alone be leader of the free world, Hillary Clinton looks less like Satan’s very own begotten and more like a necessary evil. Or maybe just an inevitable evil. (I don’t mean “evil” in the Satanic sense, but just the generic, it’s-an-expression sense.) Say what you will about Hillary, but you can’t argue that she’s less qualified to be president than Donald Trump. You might think she’s a worse person with worse ideas, but you can’t say she’s less qualified. (Personally, I don’t see how one can argue that she has worse ideas, since who really knows what Trump’s “ideas” are?)

But as I said before, Trump isn’t going to win this election, even if he had every single Republican on his side (which he won’t, because he won’t have me). Elections aren’t decided by loyal Republicans. They’re decided by the kind of people who thought Mitt Romney was too mean to be president. Not to mention that Donald Trump seems to be the one person in America voters dislike more than Hillary Clinton. I never thought I’d see the day when anyone would take that honor, but here we are, and congratulations to him. I guess.

I’ve heard some Trump supporters say that they don’t even actually want him to be president; they just want Republican party leaders and/or “the people in Washington” to know that they are angry and fed up with business as usual. To which I can only say, what are you, twelve? By this logic I should start a write-in campaign for Hitler, so people will know I’m REALLY upset. Because I am. I really am.

In fairness, I’m not convinced Trump himself wants to be president. I believe he’d like to be elected president, but as for doing the actual job, no, I don’t think he’s interested. I would not be surprised to learn that he plans to pick someone competent as a running mate, and then on the off (very off)-chance that he is elected, he will come up with some excuse to resign and let the non-crazy person take over. But I don’t care who his running mate is. I don’t care if Abe Lincoln or Ronald Reagan himself resurrected from the grave and agreed to be Donald Trump’s running mate. Any Republican politician who endorses Trump is dead to me. Chris Christie–dead to me. Marco Rubio–dead to me. Nikki Haley–dead to me. Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan–already dead, but in theory, extra dead to me. (I should not imply that Lincoln or Reagan would necessarily endorse Donald Trump, but who knows these days? Calvin Coolidge, I’m sure, would not endorse Donald Trump. But they don’t make them like Calvin Coolidge anymore.)

Ben Carson (never officially alive but now quite officially dead to me) has said that even if Trump turns out not to be a good president, “it’s only four years.” (That should go down in political endorsement history.) Interestingly enough, that’s how I think of a Hillary presidency now. It’s only four years. I mean, probably. It could be eight, but whatever. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Rephrase: What’s the worst thing that could happen that we can be sure wouldn’t happen on Trump’s watch? The question is unanswerable.

The time to pick a side is over. Better to get your affairs in order and hold your loved ones close.




September 2021

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