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.

One down

My wife is in Boston for work until next Saturday, so I am entirely responsible for keeping our pets and son alive until she returns, which sounds like it ought to be a lot of work but I think I can probably handle it. I’ve got about a page and a half of stuff I intend to get accomplished before she gets back, and despite spending several hours with an extra fifth-grader in the house this afternoon I managed to cross several items off of my list. Most of them were what a motivational speaker might call “quick wins,” but fuck it, they still count. I have a couple of Projects in mind for tomorrow, so we’ll see how we do.

I think tomorrow I’ll write the Obi-Wan review; I meant to do it today but the day got away from me and all the sudden it was 8:00, which is sort of the unofficial “Goddammit get something on the screen” deadline for blog posts around here, and the review is going to demand at least a little more thought than I think I’m ready for at the moment. I am also considering a Manifesto of sorts; a What Do We Do Now type of thing that no one will listen to and will never come true. And it’s all going to come down to vote, you morons anyway. I’ve blocked, conservatively, dozens of idiots today, and there will likely be more tomorrow as I continue to lose even the vaguest vestiges of patience with what are either young progressives without a single stitch of sense about how things actually work or, perhaps more likely, Russian bots.

That said, I can’t really blame The Youngs, at least not exclusively; I put this on Twitter already, but this little bit of Fucking Nonsense From People that Should Know Better showed up in my text messages yesterday, and, uh, I wasn’t in the mood:

Probably shoulda just typed STOP, as Kati-from-the-DSCC never responded and likely also wasn’t actually a person, but whatever. A fucking petition. No, I’m not signing a petition. Petitions are for twelve-year-olds. Nothing that mattered has ever been changed by a Goddamned petition.

(Prove me wrong, if you can; I’m pretty sure I’m right here, but if you know of a counter-example, I’d genuinely love to hear it.)

So, yeah, everything still sucks and I still hate it here, but at least for the time being I’m no longer, like, actively marinating in hatred. Progress? Sure.

Consequences! Consequences for anyone!

The news has just broken that the sweaty, incoherent, oil-haired ghoul known as Rudy Giuliani has had his home and office raided by the FBI. I am at the point where I just want someone involved with the Previous Administration to go to fucking jail, and I don’t especially care who it is so long as they don’t come back out alive. I want literally anyone from that administration to see some kind of punishment. I don’t even care if it’s legal. The rack. Guillotine. Toss some fucker out of an airplane without a parachute. An Iron Maiden. Public flensing. I don’t care. You may remember that this particular evil motherfucker literally propositioned someone he thought was a teenager for a blowjob on camera fairly recently and absolutely nothing happened to him.

Enough. Hurt one of these motherfuckers. Just pick one.


I quit the IU thing, and I’m about to turn down an offer for a summer school position, mostly because we want to sign the boy up for a bunch of summer camps and I can’t take him to said camps or pick him up from said camps if I’m at a school halfway across the city for six hours a day. The money would be nice (and the IU money would have been nice, and the IU money plus summer school money would have been really nice) but I think I need to prioritize my kid, who has spent most of the last year at home, being outside and interacting with other children. Plus, y’know, if I don’t do summer school, I get June off, and I kinda need to learn calculus this summer so spending this summer teaching myself math might be a good way to spend those hours where he’s at camp.

(Googles “free online calculus course”)

I spent some time at work today going through– not taking, necessarily, just reading through– a practice exam for this test, and the questions fell into two categories: 1) Questions that I knew how to answer immediately, and was 100% certain I would be able to answer correctly, and 2) questions that I didn’t even know how to start, and would have no clue how to answer. Some of those will be easily fixed by some study; one question, for example, began with “Given that A|B,” and that | symbol is not something that is used in eighth grade Algebra and I don’t have the slightest idea what is meant by it. I’m not worried about figuring it out, though, and once I know what A|B means, the problem didn’t look hard. Then there were the multi-part questions where I didn’t know how to do anything, and … well, that might be trickier. There were zero questions that I looked at and thought “I can probably figure that out, if I needed to.” Everything was either “I got it” or complete cluelessness.


I have not, after a day away from the kids, quite recovered my chill. We will see if tomorrow replaces it or not; either way, I’m not working Friday, as my wife is having LASIK surgery and I’ve taken the day off to make sure she gets there and back and has someone around to do shit if she needs it. It won’t be as hot tomorrow either, and I’m always much closer to being human when it’s not hot. This is, now that I think of it, another reason for me to not do summer school, because I’ve worked in the building summer school is in before and I’m pretty sure that I remember it not being fun in June. Tomorrow is the last day of testing and then there’s only, like, seventeen days of school left. I can make it. This ought to be a piece of cake, frankly.

He said.


I do not plan to watch the President’s speech tonight, although I feel like I should. Why? Because the motherfucking thing starts at 9:00 PM, and that means that by the time it’s over and I’m done monitoring Twitter it will be well and truly past my bedtime. Sleepy Joe, my ass. Sleepy Luther can read a transcript tomorrow sometime.

On masking up

Some good news: the mask panic attacks, after four days at school where I had to have one on for hours, appear to be subsiding. I have ended up landing on this one as my preferred mask, and the only complaint I have about it is that it rides up on my eyes a little more than I’d like it to, so I’m probably touching it and adjusting it more than I would like to.

I’ve been thinking more lately about what it’s going to mean to be “done” with Covid. It’s been made pretty clear that there’s a certain subset of the population who are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into vaccination, and to the best of my knowledge there is as of yet no shot that has been approved for use with middle school kids. So masking up at school is likely to remain a thing for a fair bit of time longer than masking up in general is going to be, especially since I live in a red state.

Thing is, it’s not like the masks are doing my kids any good, because as I suspected they cannot be convinced to wear them properly. Four days of in-person instruction in, I have reminded kids to cover their noses or their mouths with their masks approximately 123,425,208 times. And I’m probably still not doing it as often as I should, because there is literally someone without their mask on properly in my classroom 100% of the time, even with our current seriously-reduced number of students. I think I’ve been pretty consistent about this from the beginning: I hate wearing a mask, and wearing a mask genuinely fucks with me, but I’m going to do it anyway for as long as it’s necessary to do it. But hell if it’s not difficult to conclude that it’s safest for me to keep wearing one at work when I’m fully vaccinated and the kids around me are wearing theirs in a way that is literally not doing any good at all.

In general, I’m trying to be attentive to how much of my current behavior is reasonable and how much of it is basically quarantine-driven paranoia and, frankly, claustrophobia. I think it’s reasonable at this point to say that if you’re outside, unless you’re having a conversation in close quarters, you’re probably all good, and even in the building I tend to not put my mask on until I actually see another human being– if I can make it from my car to my classroom without wearing it, and frequently I can, I don’t put it on. But how long is it going to be until I feel okay going into a restaurant again? Like, I don’t even really have a guideline for what might make me decide “okay, this is all right now.” I got invited out for a drink with a couple of other teachers after work on Friday and turned it down. I’ve turned down multiple other such invitations over the course of the year. And I don’t even know what the plan is for when I might decide that sort of thing is okay again.

Actually, I do know one thing that would help: I don’t think there’s a solid consensus yet on whether vaccinated people can spread the virus easily. I know I’m not immune to catching Covid, it’s mostly just that if I do get it it is much, much more likely to be a minor case. But that doesn’t mean I can’t spread it to my father-in-law if I end up asymptomatic, and I’d prefer not to spread it to any strangers, either. But, like, if I spend the next six or seven weeks in a poorly-ventilated classroom and in near-constant contact with middle school kids who aren’t wearing their masks right (because, again, none of them wear their masks right) and don’t catch it, I feel like that’s pretty good evidence that I can at least, like, go to the store without having to wear one. Sitting in a restaurant? I dunno. Going into the gas station to buy a candy bar and pay for my gas and leave? When there’s plexiglass between me and the dude behind the counter? Is that okay?

I dunno. I’m kind of talking in circles about that, but that’s because I’m thinking in circles about it too. I need the people who are making this a political issue to walk into the ocean so that the rest of us can come up with a reasonable set of standards for when we let our guard down a little bit, and if they’re not going to walk into the ocean, the least we should be doing is employing government snipers with dart guns to vaccinate these idiots so they can stop fucking things up for the rest of us.

Biden should put that in the jobs plan, as a matter of fact.

What was the reason???

It’s not just that this smarmy, slimy little weasel is a liar, it’s that he’s so unbelievably bad at it. I liked politicians more when they went to at least a little trouble to make sure their lies were a tiny bit credible, but this motherfucker just says whatever the hell comes to mind, and he lies like a middle schooler whose mother caught him with his pants around his ankles and porn on his monitor. It’s all panic and trying to hide your dick, any shred of reasonable thought out the window, and little man, we’ve seen that before and we’re not any more impressed by it now than we ever were.

In case you haven’t been following the news today (or you’re me, looking at this post in a year,) Texas is currently going through absolute hell. The entire state is covered in snow and in a deep freeze and huge power outages, caused by the state’s inefficient, out-of-date and unregulated power grid, have led to people literally freezing to death in their homes. In, again, Texas.

And this motherfucker didn’t think it would be a problem if he and his family fucked off to Cancun for a week in the middle of all this shit, rather than, I dunno, trying to do something to help. I mean, he’s a Senator, even though no one can figure out why. Senators have some influence in how governments allocate money, I’ve heard. But nah. Off to fucking Cancun, where they sure as fucking hell don’t want Ted Cruz around right now.

Oh, and the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere, either, and he’s already had coronavirus once so you’d think he would know better, but nah.

And do you know what he did when he got caught? He tried to blame the entire thing on his daughters, who are ten and twelve years old, claiming that they’d asked him to take a trip to Mexico and, well, we definitely let sixth-graders decide to make us take international trips in the middle of multiple overlapping enormous crises, right? That’s a thing people do. He also lied about whether his house had power, and the real bullshit here is that I know that he lied but I don’t know what the truth is, because in the last 24 hours he’s both claimed that he had power and that he didn’t.

The real bullshit of all this is nobody would have thought twice had he gotten his family out of town, so long as they stayed in the States. It literally wouldn’t even have registered. But nah; we’ve gotta fuck off to Mexico, and then pretend it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and blame it on our minor children, because that doesn’t make it look like all of your possessions need to be confiscated and redistributed to better people, and then we’ve got to pretend that returning after less than a day was the plan all along, ignoring that people can figure out that you bought a new ticket this morning. It’s all painful, stupid, obvious lying, and lying about something that could have been completely avoidable had they just stayed in America.

He’s gotta go. I don’t care if he gets recalled, or if he resigns, or if someone carefully places him in a glass jar and puts that glass jar on a shelf somewhere for eternity, or if he’s simply allowed to slither back into the ocean from whence he came. But I can’t hear anything else about this spineless little traitor ever again. I’m tired of him and he needs to go the fuck away, so that his family can abandon him and he can die alone in a cheap motel room in a couple of years. Fucking enough.