A very brief Congressional explainer

I’ve seen a fair number of people who are confused about what the hell the House is doing right now. To be clear, I am very very far from being an expert, and it’s possible that I’m going to get some details incorrect in this, but I think I’ve got the basic gist, and if anybody sees any outright errors, please put them in comments and I’ll amend the post.

My current understanding is that Pelosi has brought the House back into session today and has already asked for unanimous consent to bring a bill to the floor calling on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. That unanimous consent has been denied, and therefore there will be a vote by the House on the bill tomorrow. Pence will be given 24 hours to do the right thing and then impeachment proceedings will begin.

I’ve seen a lot of people asking why they have to wait so long, and why they can’t vote on the bill today. That is, in fact, exactly what they asked for unanimous consent on. You cannot introduce a bill and vote on it on the same day; that’s been a rule for several years now, and it’s a rule that makes good sense– remember, a lot of the bills passed can be hundreds of pages long and complicated, so it makes sense to give people enough time to read the final version of the bill before they vote on it. Now, of course, you don’t need a full day to read a two-page resolution, but the rule still stands. The House can break their own rules with unanimous consent— in other words, if no House member disagrees with breaking the rule, a rule can be broken. But since they didn’t get that unanimous consent– the Republicans blocked it– they have to go to a full vote, and therefore have to wait until tomorrow, when the resolution will most assuredly pass.

Now, in theory, and at least as far as I know, they could also formally introduce the impeachment article or articles (more than one Congressperson has announced that they’re working on them, and I’m not sure who wrote the final text) today, and then again, in theory and as far as I know, they could vote on them or at least get the process started on Tuesday. They’re waiting an extra day to give Pence his 24 hours basically as a strategic measure, which … well, you can decide on your own whether that’s a good idea or not, given that Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the Senate back into session before the 19th. The resolution on Pence is something the House can do on its own. Impeachment is not. The only way to get that done any faster is if, oh, say, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski were to agree to caucus with the Democrats for a while, giving them the majority immediately and making Chuck Schumer the Majority Leader. Otherwise, the Dem majority doesn’t actually kick in until Kamala Harris is Vice-President.

(EDIT: It does look like the impeachment articles have been formally introduced.)

(Don’t ask me what happens if Pence does invoke the 25th. I don’t even know if there are rules for that, or whether Pence is for-real President or acting President or what if the Beast is removed via that method. I have no idea who casts tie breaking votes in the Senate under those circumstances, but it definitely wouldn’t be Harris before the 20th, so it probably doesn’t actually matter.)

(I’m also not sure exactly how the 14th Amendment applies to all of this– I know the Senate and the House can expel their own members, and they’ve used this power in the past, but I have no idea how the law works regarding declaring that someone cannot run for office again. I’ll look into it.)

Anyway, hopefully this is helpful, and again– I’m not an expert, so if you see something I’m wrong about, let me know.

On optimism

I am fairly certain that I have described each of the last four years as the worst year of my life. Looking back on it now, 2020 does certainly seem to have won the battle royal– losing my mom is going to do a pretty good job of catapulting the year over the rest of them, even before the global pandemic enters the chat– but if I want to be a bit more specific, April 2019 to April 2020 is probably right about where the break points are. Maybe July 2020, if I want to include losing my cat, who I’d had for 22 years.

All I really want out of 2021 is for it to be better than the last four years. I don’t need it to be great. I don’t even need good. I just need better. My 40s in general have been an utter horror show– recall that I turned 40 in 2016– and I’m more than ready to be done with that.

There have been some vague signs that maybe things are starting to turn. I am, despite the pandemic, happier as a teacher this year than I have been in a very long time. Financially, I’m in the best shape of my life, both personally and jointly with my wife. The vaccine isn’t in ready supply yet, and I haven’t gotten my shots yet, but it exists. My family isn’t experiencing any acute health crises right now; my father-in-law isn’t in great shape, but he’s holding up, and we’re not hugely concerned about anyone else at the moment. And I’ll be an uncle in a few months.

Now all I need is for a couple of elections in a state I’ve never set foot in to go my way today, and to make it through the next fifteen days without a nuclear war starting or some other sort of nightmare scenario being unleashed on the world. I (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this) have gotten very, very gun-shy about anything that feels like good news over the last four years, and I don’t trust anything resembling optimism any longer. I feel like if it seems like things are turning around a little bit that’s just so that when they all go to hell again it will hurt worse.

Hell, I just want to make it through tomorrow without riots. I would like it if the worst people in America manage to make it through the day without killing anyone.

…at this point, I took about a 20-minute break from writing this, because the despair started kicking in again. There are at least a handful of reasons for actual optimism about this upcoming year. There are reasons to set goals for this year, and not just assume that there’s no chance I will achieve any of them.

I haven’t released a new book in forever. Hell, I haven’t written more than a handful of pages of fiction since Click became available to my Patreon subscribers– and that was mostly a rewrite and re-edit, not an actual new book. I’d like to say I want to get another book out this year, but it’s entirely possible that I’m just done with that. I’d like to be more creative in general this year, to make things, and I’m already looking at the whole idea of creativity and just exhausted by it.

I need a reason to be hopeful that doesn’t wash away a day or an hour or a few minutes after I happen upon it.

I need this year to be better.

In case you thought this year would be different

Yesterday
Today

So far 2021 has featured an ice storm and a power outage that is about to reach its 24th hour. We have booked a hotel for tonight and I’m writing this on my phone at my dad’s house.

Happy Same Fucking Year!

Announcing #readaroundtheworld

I’m making it official today: having finished Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown, which I might still review, and as such having read 62 books by 53 different women of color over the course of 2020, I find myself with no books by women of color on my unread shelf. As such, and since there’s only six days left in 2020, I’m declaring that project officially closed.

I’m calling my reading project for next year #readaroundtheworld. It will last through the entirety of 2021, and may in fact continue beyond that, because there’s no earthly way I manage to complete the globe next year, so we’ll see how much fun I’m having with it and move on from there.

The goal is to read one book from as many countries as I can, plus one book from each of the 50 states.

Now, the rules for the #52booksbywomenofcolor project were pretty simple: if the author considered herself a woman of color, she was. There was one author I ended up removing after initially counting them– Akwaeke Emezi is transgender and gender fluid, and actually removed their name from consideration for a women’s fiction prize in 2019, so their book Pet was removed from the list when I learned a bit more about them, and Rivers Solomon is included but is … also complicated. As far as I know the other 52 women would have no issues describing themselves as such.

This one’s going to be a little bit more formal in terms of what counts and what doesn’t, mostly because my choices for languages are 1) English, and 2) kids’ books in Spanish. So I’m going to have to read either a lot of work in translation or I’m going to have to play around a bit with what from means.

Therefore:

  • Authors who are at least second-generation Americans (ie, not immigrants or the children of immigrants) will count for either their current state of residence or the state of their birth. Expat Americans do not count for their current country of residence.
  • Americans who are immigrants or the children of immigrants can count for either their current state or the country they immigrated from. In other words, Ilhan Omar can count as an American from Minnesota or a Somali. It is preferable but not required that if a second-generation American is counted for their country of ancestry that the book being read be heavily influenced by or concerned with that country. For example, Daniel José Older and Malka Older, who are brother and sister, are both New Yorkers, and are half Cuban. Malka has, to my knowledge, written no books concerned with Cuba, but Daniel’s book The Book of Lost Saints, which is explicitly about being Cuban-American, would be OK to represent Cuba.
  • No book can count for more than one place. No author can either.
  • Authors from outside of the United States, in general, will count for their country of residence, with exceptions occasionally made for political refugees. For example– and I just discovered he lives in New York now but roll with this anyway– Salman Rushdie would be a perfectly cromulent Indian author, and Shokoofeh Azar, who is an Iranian refugee currently residing in Australia, would be legal as a choice for Australia but would probably better count as an Iranian.
  • Only the identity of the author counts. I don’t expect this to come up, but if I read something in translation it doesn’t matter where the translator is from.
  • Where possible, diversity in gender, sexuality and ethnicity will be deliberately sought out.

Any other cases will be adjudicated at that time. I may ask the Internet for advice but it’s my game so I make the rules, and if I can come up with a way to decide Stephen King is from Malawi then dammit he’s from Malawi.

I will keep track of my books via a spreadsheet (I love projects involving spreadsheets!) that I may actually perma-link in the sidebar of the blog and via coloring in countries and states as I read books on the map above, which will be updated on the site periodically. Despite Australia and Canada being divided into provinces/states on the map I’m using, I intend to treat them as unitary countries, so once I read a book by a Canadian the entire country’s getting filled in. I will also probably continue posting individual book entries on Instagram and I’ll keep a shelf for them on Goodreads. You should add me on both places, if you haven’t already.

In the meantime, who are your favorite authors from outside the United States? Give me some names! I’ve got reading to do!

On reading projects

I got curious the other day about how much geographical diversity my “52 books by women of color” project was representing. If I play a little fast and loose with immigrants (I have arbitrarily decided second-generation American immigrants count, especially if the author’s books reflect the culture of her home country*) the countries represented by authors I’ve either already read or have ordered books from are represented above. I was a little surprised to discover I hit four countries in Africa before Australia joined the list, and the lack of representation in Europe outside of the UK is at least a little surprising, but there it is. Since it’s still September and I’ll finish book 45 on the list today or tomorrow, I’m probably going to expand it to 52 different authors rather than 52 books, and I’m going to see how many different countries I can hit with the rest of those authors.

Next year’s project, I think, is going to see how many books I can read from authors from different countries– no target number, necessarily, but trying to fill in that map as much as I can. It’ll be interesting to see how much I can fill the map in.

That said, if anybody wants to call out some authors who I might be interested in to round out this current project, please feel free– in particular, female-identifying authors of color from mainland Europe, China, Brazil, Afghanistan or the Middle East would be great.

(*) This sort of boiled down to how they chose to identify themselves in biographies, and I’m not digging very hard. Nghi Vo, for example, was born in Peoria and doesn’t say anything about her family or ancestry in any of her bios that I looked at, so she’s American, despite her books having a very strong Southeast Asian flavor to them. If her bio had referred to her as, say, “Chinese-American” (and I have no idea where her people are from, to be clear) I’d have counted her for China. Or, for another example, Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia, so that counts even though she lives in America now.