In which I have options

I can actually write a piece about what happened in Washington DC this week. It’s definitely coming, but it’s going to be lengthy as hell if I write it, and it’ll likely be obsolete in some way by the time I hit the Publish button.

Or I can recognize that it’s Friday night, and I’m tired as fuck, and this week has been insanely stressful on a level I haven’t encountered since, well, this exact week last year, where not only did my mother die but, if you recall, we were all concerned about going to war with Iran, and I can watch a couple of episodes of Attack on Titan, be a shark for a while on my PS5, read a book, and go to bed.

Tough choice.

Call your Senators

Pure anecdata, and I just said this on Twitter but sometimes I like to say things in more than one place: I just called both of my Senators, one a Democrat and one a Republican, and told their staffers that I needed them both to vote against the Senate healthcare bill.  Also said to the Democrat’s staffer (who sounded exhausted) that I expected him to do literally everything in his power to oppose it.

I got through to the Democrat’s office on the first try.  It took four to get through to the Republican’s office.  And damn near every single response to this tweet by Todd Young is anti-AHCA.  It’s amazing:

There’s a lot of weasel words in there, but I’m choosing to take a bit of solace in the fact that it’s not a full-throated endorsement of the bill.

This bill will hurt literally every person living in this country.  Every single one.  Get on the phones, folks, and make your voices heard.  The DC Senate switchboard is (202) 224-3121, but I find more luck getting ahold of actual people by calling the local offices.

On denial

pen-solidarity-fistI won’t say his name.  You’re never going to see it in print on this site again.  I have found a silver lining to being at work tomorrow; I will be nowhere near a television set at any point between about eight in the morning and 8:45 or so at night, and so there is absolutely no chance that I will even accidentally catch any part of the inauguration or the address itself.

Yesterday, I watched a portion of Al Franken’s gentle questioning of useless rich idiot Betsy Devos at her confirmation hearing.  I was not surprised but that didn’t keep me from being horrified.  The woman knows nothing; a college sophomore Ed major would have been embarrassed to answer those questions as poorly as she did.  Hell, I’d expect anyone who has been reading this site for more than a year to be able to do a better job just out of osmosis.  At one point this afternoon, I found myself wondering if Franken has Presidential aspirations, and then spent a moment being quietly horrified at the fact that I thought it was a halfway decent idea.

(He’ll be 69 in 2020.  Nah.)

Which of these sentences, if any, is hyperbole?  This is a genuine question.  I don’t know for sure that any of them is:

  • Tomorrow is America’s worst day since September 11, 2001.
  • Tomorrow is America’s worst day since December 7, 1941.
  • Tomorrow is America’s worst day since April 12, 1861.

I suspect that right now only the first is inarguable, and the rest hyperbolic.  I wonder how long I’ll feel that way.  Hopefully at least a few months.  We have made the biggest mistake our country has ever made.  I just hope not too many people die before we find a way to correct it.

(I also, for the record, think that there is a nonzero chance that impeachment proceedings are begun damn near immediately– by the Republicans, who we would obviously need in order to pull such a thing off.  This would effectively be a legal coup by the Republican establishment.  I cannot say that I wouldn’t welcome it.  For all that I despise Mike Pence and everything he has ever stood for, he has principles.  The shitgibbon has none.)

(Yes, that was a Hamilton reference.)

In which I’m still here and nothing is okay


Got that one wrong.

Like a lot of white people, I keep wanting to write things like “I did not realize I lived in a country this hateful.”  I already Tweeted that my main mistake was underestimating the number of assholes in America.  I genuinely didn’t think there were enough white assholes to elect Trump.  That right there is a failure of empathy on my part; people of color and LGBTQ people and any number of others who aren’t straight cis white people have been telling us this for years, and while I thought I was listening I clearly wasn’t.  America isn’t any different from what it was a few days ago.  There’s just a whole lot of white people who can’t deny what America is any longer.  The proof just got rubbed in our faces; it’s going to keep getting rubbed in our faces repeatedly for the next several years.  I was proud, the other day, to realize that my son was going to be nine before there was even a chance of a white male being President during his lifetime.  Now I have to worry about what the next four years are going to do to him, and wonder whether living in the St. Joseph Valley will protect us from fallout from the Cook Nuclear plant the way it occasionally keeps thunderstorms from hitting us.

To be clear: White people.  This is your fault.  I am keeping my strong slapping hand oiled and in reserve for anyone pointing fingers of blame at any other group than white Americans, and particularly white male Americans, for what just happened.   I don’t want to hear shit about Democratic turnout.  I don’t want to hear shit about Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders, or Gary Johnson.

This happened because white people wanted it to.  Everything that happens in the next four years is the fault of white people.  I said this on Twitter, too, and not for the first time: this happened because most white people in America would happily live in a box under a bridge so long as they could see a black family nearby that didn’t have a box or didn’t get to live under a bridge.

And here’s the thing, white folk: I’m talking to myself here, too.  We’re in the fucking mess we’re in because we didn’t do enough.  Each and every fucking one of us had family members, friends, co-workers who we knew were voting Trump.  I know for damn sure I’ve been doing a lot of keeping my mouth clamped shut and walking away at work lately, or letting clearly insane nonsense pass by in the name of a harmonious workplace.  I didn’t do a damn thing to move any of these people.  And now Mike Pence is going to be Vice-President.  A guy who probably wouldn’t even have been re-elected Governor.

I don’t want to hear shit about black turnout, white people.  We did this.  We own it.  And the consequences are on us and the blood– and there has already been blood, and there will be more– is on our hands.

There’s an American flag hanging on the wall to my left right now.  I’ve had an American flag hanging on the wall somewhere in my house or apartment for basically as long as I’ve been paying for somewhere to live on my own.  I looked at it yesterday and strongly considered taking it down.  Frankly, I could use the wall space for other things.  The alternative is some sort of (pointless) symbolic gesture.  Hang it upside down, something like that.  I think I’ve come up with a solution I like, though: I’ve just ordered a new flag, a rainbow flag like the one at the top of this post.  I’m hanging it on top of the flag on the wall.

I’ve had that flag on the wall for years because I hate what the right wing has done to the word “patriot.”  If you hear someone call themselves a patriot nowadays, chances are real high that that person is some flavor of asshole.  I’ve always considered myself one anyway; perhaps I’m just a different flavor of asshole than most.  Licorice, maybe.  But the thing is that, as I said above, I can’t pretend that there’s some inner core to America that’s worth being proud of any longer.  America is a sick, broken place, and we’re about to get a whole lot worse before we get any better.  And there are plenty of people out there who are being harmed by that sick society on a daily basis, and those people need me to remember them rather than let some fuzzy-headed, warm version of America take over my thoughts again.  The country I allowed myself to think I lived in was never real, and it was never great.  And I owe it to a whole lot of people to not forget that again.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan just announced his intent to “phase out” Medicare and replace it with private insurance.  Obamacare’s likely to get repealed within a week or so of the new regime taking over.  Who knows what other horrors are ahead of us.

This is going to kill a whole lot of people, and that’s before he starts any new wars.

You voted for this, white America.  And I’m not planning on letting you forget it.

On a more personal note: I was a very, very angry person during the Bush administration, and what scares me the most– and I know this is a selfish reaction– about all this is that I cannot go back to who I was during those years.  I was angry on the side of righteousness, but I feel like calling it “all-consuming” might understate what was going on.

And this will be worse.  There’s been an ironclad rule about the Republican party during my adult life: they only get worse, and they always get worse.  I will be nostalgic for George W. Bush soon.  And that is terrifying.

I spent a moment Tuesday night considering putting Luther Siler as a thing to bed for good.  You all know this is a pen name, if you’ve been reading for a while.  I don’t need to be a guy who vomits anger into the internet every day.  I haven’t sold a book in two months and the one I’m working on is so stagnant that it may as well be dead.  It would be one less thing to worry about in a time where I very much need to consolidate my priorities and figure out what is important and what I need to be focusing on.  I think I’ve moved beyond that at this point– that was literally a first-night reaction– but something may need to change.  We’ll see.

The new/last A Tribe Called Quest album is wonderful, by the way.  I may as well make a half-assed attempt to end on a positive note, here; music will probably get better for a few years.  Next to a pile of bodies, that’s not much, but at least it’s something.

Yeah, I know.  It’s not.

In which I get to vote in five days

Indiana opens up early in-person voting next Wednesday, which is the 12th.  Conveniently, Wednesday is my short day and I’m off work at 2:30, and I will immediately be heading downtown and voting.  There’s one more debate between now and then; I’ll try and watch it because that’s what I do, but fuck it; as little of a chance as there ever was that I would vote for a Republican for President at any point in my life, there is so much less of a chance in 2016 that it’s a whole new level of no chance.  As much as I hated George W. Bush, I feel like I could come up with theoretical reasons why one might choose to vote for him.  Same for McCain and Romney, although I can’t pretend to have been especially fond of either of them and Sarah Palin was probably the biggest deal-breaker this side of Trump himself.

There is no reason to vote for Donald Trump other than bigotry.  None.   If you are a racist, a sexist, or both, he may appeal to you; I assume you still might prefer to not die in a nuclear explosion and you still ought to vote for Clinton anyway if only to preserve your worthless white hide.  If your bigotry is literally worth more than your own life, vote for him, but do me a favor and try your best to never cross my path as long as you live, as I don’t want to know you exist.

I am looking forward to this election being over.  I am also looking forward to a Clinton presidency, despite knowing that the #1 rule of the Republicans is They Can Always Sink Lower Than This.  They’ll find a way.  But I will try and remain optimistic and hope that this election will be the one that drains the pus out of their political party.  I would like to have a sane opposition.

One way or another, my part in all this will be done in five days.