A political thought exercise

My training today was a nightmare, but not for any fault of any of the people involved. For whatever reason I couldn’t get to sleep last night– I was awake and mindlessly scrolling through TikTok at 1:30 in the morning– and I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually get to sleep until after 2 AM, only to be back up at 7:30. Somehow I managed to get to the training without getting any actual caffeine in my body, which … what? That shouldn’t have even been possible, as I’m generally less likely to leave the house in the morning without some form of caffeine consumption than I am to leave without my pants, but it happened.

And then the training was in this tiny, windowless, concrete-block shitbox of a classroom with no moving air and not a whole Goddamn lot of air conditioning, and on top of that the room featured those horrible one-piece desks that I am, at this point, simply too fucking fat to sit in comfortably. I eventually got up and commandeered one of the two teacher chairs in the room, pulling it up to an empty desk, because fuck it, I’m not going to be in pain for three hours, but between the lack of sleep and the temperature and everything else, staying awake was a nightmare, but not in any way that I blame the presenter for. He did fine, and the actual new textbook adoption seems initially pretty solid, although I’ll need to look more carefully at it later.

I actually took a nap when I got home, and slept so hard that I woke up three hours later convinced it was the next morning, and it took several moments of genuine confusion about why it was so bright in the room before I realized I’d only slept for a few hours. I think the boy’s still alive. I should go check on him after this post is done.

Oh, and when I checked the mail I had another jury summons, my second of 2022 so far. I will, I’m sure, still not make it into an actual trial.


Anyway. That thought experiment.

Let’s imagine that we’re a member of a political party. For the purposes of this conversation it genuinely doesn’t matter which one, and while I’m framing this as part of America’s two-party system, I don’t even really know that a two-party framework is necessary. Let’s further imagine that whichever direction on the spectrum our party generally leans, we are personally somewhat further in that direction than the average party member. So if you’re a Republican, you’re more conservative than most, and if you’re a Democrat, you’re more left-leaning(*) than most.

So here’s the question: your party is not a monolith, as I’ve said, and you’re more , I’ll say polarized, than most. Which of these two scenarios is better?

  • Your party has a slim majority, where the loss of more than one or two members of your party means your legislation isn’t going to get passed, but nearly all members of your party are generally reliable votes for your party’s legislation;
  • Your party has a considerable majority, but includes a significant centrist wing, so legislation from your party is more or less going to get passed, but virtually everything is going to require getting through that more centrist wing and therefore will require inter-party negotiation and, more than likely, watering down of the priorities that the people at the longer end of the tail– you, in other words– are going to want.

There’s been a lot of talk since the Dobbs decision about how Obama had a supermajority in 2008 and should have codified Roe into federal law while he had the chance. I am going to ignore most of the details of this argument and look specifically at one thing: that Obama did have said majority, for a few months at least, but that said majority included at least a dozen Senators who were considerably further to the right than any current Democratic Senator other than the oft-maligned Mr. Manchin, and I’m sure a couple of them– Joe Lieberman, anyone?– would have ended up to Manchin’s right if compared carefully. Nearly all of those people are no longer in the Senate. Why?

Well, most of them were replaced with Republicans. And it is very difficult to imagine that once Sen. Manchin retires he will be replaced with anything other than a Republican, and a considerably more conservative Republican at that. I remind all of you that I live in Indiana, and have counted among my Senators both Evan Bayh and Joe Donnelly during my lifetime. Neither were especially reliable Democrats, but they were Democrats, and their current replacements, Mike Braun and Todd Young, are not improvements over either of them.

The Democratic Party as a whole and particularly the Democratic Senators are considerably to the left of where the party was in 2008. Not to the degree that the Republicans have moved to the right; not even close, I don’t think, but the movement is undeniable, and at least part of the reason is that we’ve effectively pruned the right wing of our party during the last fourteen years. And as a result we have 48 more-or-less reliable Democratic votes, or at least reliable Democratic-caucusing votes, since I’m counting Bernie Sanders in that mix, and we have Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. I feel like Arizona could do better than Sinema; West Virginia will not be improving on Manchin.

So, again, your question: Are we better off? Why or why not?

(*) Left-leaning people currently being in a little bit of a civil war about nomenclature, I’m going to choose for the purposes of this post to stay agnostic about it.

Rush Limbaugh is dead. Good.

I remember the day I figured out I was a liberal.

Well, okay, that’s not quite accurate. I remember the feeling of figuring out I was a liberal. And it was a deeply strange thing to figure out about oneself at the time, because everything I knew about “liberals” was that they were terrible. I’m fairly certain I made it to high school if not further before I ever heard that word used in anything other than a derogatory sense, and the idea that liberals were some unspecified sort of awful was literally all I knew about them before figuring out that I was one. And my family was not conservative! I’m farther to the left than either of my parents, I think, although my mother was getting more radicalized by the hour during That Person’s administration, but I definitely did not grow up in an environment where being “liberal” was demonized. No, I have wider society to blame for that.

And, specifically, I lay a healthy share of it at Rush Limbaugh’s feet. George H.W. Bush, too, mind you; Limbaugh’s far from alone in that regard. And frankly the timeline for this realization was probably right around Bush I’s inauguration and hell if I remember when I heard Limbaugh’s name for the first time, but it was probably right around then. And he and a whole bunch of other people were spreading the idea that me and other people who thought like me were traitors. Morons. Evil.

Well, now he’s dead and I’m not. Fuck him.

I don’t believe in Hell but I’m willing to make the occasional exception, and I absolutely refuse to feel even slightly bad about dancing on this human shitstain’s grave. We should not feel bad about being happy when absolutely terrible people die, and Rush Limbaugh for all of his lengthy and wealthy life has absolutely nothing remotely positive to show for it. He’s never helped a single person in his entire miserable life; he’s done nothing but spread hate and misery and pain for his entire existence. I remember him comparing Chelsea Clinton, four years younger than me, to the family dog. I remember the little segment where he’d read the names of people– ordinary fucking regular people who he’d never met and never did anything to him– who died from AIDS and celebrating their deaths on his show. I remember the racism and the sexism and the pure, unfiltered assholery that was this man’s entire personality and has come to become, in the years since, the entire political philosophy of his entire political party. If I were to pick two figures from the eighties and nineties who were responsible for the fascist cesspool the Republican Party has become, they would be Rush and Newt Gingrich, and you can be damn sure that when Gingrich goes I’ll have something to say about that too.

(Fun fact: my senior year of high school I won Future Rush Limbaugh, an award that was given to one male and one female student. She won the award because she was a conservative. I won because I was fat, outspoken, and political. I did not contest the award.)

He was talented, there’s no doubt about that. He could have done good things with his life. He could have helped people. He didn’t. He chose what he became, and he chose to stay what he was, and he chose to continue being what he was every day of his wasted life. Fuck him, and may his type never grace our airwaves ever again. May his name be forgotten.

A thought

We have all seen the videos. We have all seen the pictures. We all know that if these animals had found Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar or no doubt any number of other Democratic lawmakers during their rampage that they would have been lynched on the spot. We all know that they were calling to hang the Vice-President of the United States, a man who is so craven that he doesn’t think his boss taking a literal hit out on him and trying to have him killed is sufficient reason to remove him from office.

You know what I haven’t seen?

Anyone– even one fucking person– who was trying to stop any of it. I’m not talking about the Capitol police, who were at worst complicit and at best wildly fucking outnumbered. I’m talking about the regular fucking people at that march. Not one of them managed to keep from getting sucked into the mob and behaving like that. Not one of them saw someone beating a cop to death and tried to stop it.

I have been right about America’s conservatives for years. The only thing, the only thing that they actually care about is white supremacy. Everything else is a smokescreen.

They don’t even really respect cops. Let that sink in for a second. The people who invented “Blue Lives Matter” never meant a word of it.

I have been right for years, and I hate it.

A Comprehensive List of Things I am Currently Boycotting

So apparently a few months ago a butter company changed their logo, and somehow it took until recently for conservatives to notice and they’re pretending to be mad about it? I refuse to believe that anyone actually cares about a butter company’s logo so, much like the butter, I’m taking the whole thing with a fair amount of salt, but I’m sure there are videos online somewhere of people dramatically setting their tubs of Land O Lakes on fire or some shit like that. Conservatives like to show their tribal loyalty by destroying things they already paid for for some reason. There’s gotta be something out there somewhere.

But it got me thinking: I am, ultimately, a relatively petty person. There have to be some good examples of shit that I’ve gotten mad about and boycotted that really wasn’t worth the energy. Now, I can’t think of any, but maybe someone else can, and I’ve definitely got one in mind that is questionable. We’ll see what else I can come up with; I reserve the option to add to this list as things occur to me for the next little while.

Also, “boycott,” to me, means that I am deliberately not buying products from these places or people, and were it not for the boycott, I would be. I am not, for example, boycotting the NFL or Hobby Lobby, because I have never given a shit about pro football one way or another and I don’t even quite know what the hell Hobby Lobby sells. I might have been in there once for some sort of teacher-related thing at some point but they aren’t getting my money anyway just because I don’t have any reason to go in there.

Here we go:

Chik Fil-A. This is actually the big one; I love their food. A lot. But the organization is too goddamn homophobic for me to spend any money there any longer, although I do have to refrain from arguing with people still when they denigrate the food.

Subway. Somebody at Subway put a plastic glove into my drink once, and I haven’t been back since. That said, this one only sort of counts, because I’m really only avoiding the restaurants owned by that franchisee, which are only in town. If I was out of town and I wanted Subway I’d have it. And the truth is I haven’t missed them all that much. The problem: is this actually a boycott? Like, I literally found foreign objects in my food and stopped eating there because of it. I don’t know if it counts.

Books by Orson Scott Card and Dan Simmons. In both cases I had read several of their books and enjoyed them prior to finding out what jackasses the authors were in their real lives; there are probably a number of staunch conservative creative people whose work I avoid— the Dilbert shithead and the dudes behind the Rabid Puppies and Comicsgate come to mind, but these two are the only ones whose work I previously liked and who I have dropped. Similarly, it’s not really a boycott if I just read one of your books and decided you suck.

Movies involving Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson. Gibson, of the two, is more of a genuine boycott, as Cruise hasn’t been in a lot that I’ve liked, and if he were to release a new film that I genuinely wanted to see I might go ahead and go. Of the two, I find Cruise to be far less repellent of a human being as well. And, again, there are a lot of actors and/or directors whose work I avoid, but these two are the only ones I can really say I’m boycotting. I was never gonna see any Woody Allen movies anyway, y’know?

For a while I was refusing to buy Marvel’s Star Wars comics, because they fired Chuck Wendig in what I felt to be a deeply shitty fashion. I was buying several of the books at the time and I dropped all of them when it happened. Fast-forward a few months later, and Wendig appears to be over it and I got sucked back in after a while. Unfortunately, because of coronavirus-related supply-chain nonsense, I haven’t bought any comic books at all in a month or so, and I miss them less than I thought I was going to? It may be that I’m only still buying comic books regularly out of habit and because I like the people who own my local comic shop so much.

Ooh, speaking of comics, this probably counts: I stopped buying books at All-Star Comics and Cards, my childhood comic shop, because I found out about some comments one of the co-owners made about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and was forced to publicly tell the dude to go fuck himself. This one no longer counts either because the store is closed now, and has been for years, and the guy who originally owned the place and who I owed my actual loyalty to had retired a year or so prior to this happening. But that was what finally drove me to find a comic shop in Chicago, because Darin wasn’t getting another dime of my money.

I feel like none of these are as ridiculous as “they changed their packaging,” though. There has to be something. Frankly, I feel like there have to be more places than this, but hell if I can think of any right now. Like I said, I’ll edit later if I come up with something else.


6:51 PM, Sunday April 26: 963,379 confirmed cases and 54,614 American deaths. I had initially speculated it would take to Wednesday to get over a million cases; we may not make it through Monday the way this has been going.

On ConGlomeration

So it occurred to me that I never really talked about ConGlomeration. Cool thing, first: I am right now listening to an MP3 of my first panel, which was on writing dialogue. I have recordings of two of the four panels, both of which will be posted to Patreon as soon as I have listened to them and made sure everything sounds good and that I’ve edited out the one place where I randomly blurted out what school I work at to someone. There aren’t a huge number of people in the crowd, but it’s still a fun talk.

Three of the four panels went really well; the fourth didn’t precisely go badly, but I quickly found myself not feeling like I belonged at the table. I really liked the people I was neighbors with in the vendor room. For the most part the folks who were there as con-goers were nice people. I sold … decently? I’ve had better shows, but I’ve had some that went way worse.

A couple of minor announcements: there will be second editions of both Skylights and The Sanctum of the Sphere coming, once I’ve sold out of my current physical stock of both of those books. Skylights is going to be slightly updated (no story changes) to eliminate references to the year it takes place in, and Sanctum is going to be released as a standalone single volume without The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 in it. I’m hoping this happens by the end of the year, but again, it’s depending on selling out or getting close to selling out the books I have which may take a while.

But, man, y’all … Kentucky.

I opted out of one of my panels because one of the people I was supposed to be sitting with is well-known in the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies movement. If you don’t know what that is, don’t look it up, just trust me that it was not a good idea for me to be on a stage with this guy.

(Man, I really talk too much on this first panel. Granted, there’s only two of us, but I didn’t realize I was talking as much as I do. Geez.)

Anyway. The thing about being in an area that is much much much more conservative than what you’re used to is the weird phenomenon where motherfuckers will say absolutely anything to you if you’re a white guy and assume you’re just going to agree with it. And … fuck, did I spend a lot of time not starting, or at least not continuing, shit with people. Like the guy who had three different wildly offensive Second Amendment/ MAGA/ anti-Obama shirts, one for each day of the show, and kept insisting on parking himself right in front of me at my panels. Or the three or four people who randomly brought up wanting to shoot people if they find themselves in certain neighborhoods. And … shit. It just got to be too fuckin’ much sometimes, y’know?

(Meanwhile, the other half of the crowd is the LGBTQIA+ hyper-liberal types who I’m much more comfortable and friendly with, and those folks were all cool.)

So, yeah. I was having fun, for the most part, interspersed with these occasional weird moments where I’m either just cringing or trying to keep myself from losing my shit at somebody. So … is that a decent show? Sure, why not, right?


Still haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame, as family medical drama continues. So I’m still spoiler-dodging and mostly avoiding the internet. I’m hoping to rectify the problem by this weekend. Just FYI.