Never Forget

“Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king. A king ain’t ever satisfied, ’til he rules everything.” ~Bruce Springsteen, Badlands

It has been 365 days since America had to choose between the two worst presidential candidates in modern American history. It was one year ago today that the American people elected the second-worst of those two candidates, but got stuck with the worst one through a technicality. Twelve months have passed since the big joke turned into a nightmare reality.

Administratively, and legislatively, Donald Trump has accomplished little since his inauguration. I’m not here to harass him about that. Much of what he wanted to do, on the campaign trail, was improbable, impractical, and, by most reasonable accounts, would do more harm than good. I don’t blame him, or Congress, for not “repealing and replacing” Obamacare. I blame them for trying, and applaud certain members of Congress for having the guts not to throw away something flawed for something altogether rotten. I don’t blame Donald Trump for not having a wall yet; the wall was a silly idea that garnered the votes of a disenfranchised, and disillusioned, middle America. It was never really going to be a thing.

I know that many of Donald Trump’s followers want to credit him for the rising stock market and low unemployment – even though they called both indicators fake during the campaign – but the truth is those were reaching historic highs years before the election. Donald Trump inherited a better economy from Barack Obama than Barack Obama inherited from George W. Bush. Not that any of the three have any real affect on the economy; presidents often get too much credit or blame for such things. In 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama was facing off with then-candidate John McCain, I turned to anyone who would hear me and said that no matter who won, the economy will be in a decent place in 2016. Obama won. It was.

In 2008, for the record, I voted for Barack Obama. Really, though, I voted against Sarah Palin. It was my contention that nobody that stupid should ever be President of the United States. The last laugh was on me on that one. In 2016, we elected somebody dumber.

Just before Inauguration Day, in January of 2017, I wrote a piece called On Giving the Man a Chance. I said, in no uncertain terms, that I would not give Donald Trump “a chance.” He was a despicable human being. A corrupt businessman. A misogynist. An idiot, by his railing tweets. A man who stumbled into a position of money and influence before he ever entered the world and then used bullying tactics and a sociopathic nature to take what he wanted everywhere along the way. He was the worst kind of man we would want to lead the free world. I said he had to prove he deserved a chance. He proved exactly the opposite, very quickly, and ever since.

Instead of giving him a chance I proposed that we held him accountable. He had to prove to us that he was going to be a better president than he had ever been a man. I remember when he went tweet-silent in the first few weeks after his electoral victory. I remember when he said kind things about his political opponents. I thought … maybe …

But the real Donald Trump came rolling back before the middle of December and then never left again. The most reprehensible man on the planet proved to be the most reprehensible president. I’m not happy I was right.

And now, as the dark clouds close in around him, as we begin to see at least the vestiges of penance foreshadowed in the indictments handed to those who helped him win, there is some hope. Donald Trump might finally get what he truly deserves, and all the bluster in the world won’t save him then.

And, if not, if he somehow slides his way through another investigation into his perpetually shady dealings, then we will persevere, America. If the most corrupt man in America serves his entire 4-year stint as president, we will persevere. We have seen how ineffective it will be. We have seen the turnover, the tantrums, the abuse of power, and we know … this is just a bump in the road.

As this presidency – this great American mistake – plays itself out, the 66% of us who know better will learn a valuable lesson. We will demand better candidates. Better than Hillary Clinton. Better than Donald Trump. Much, much better.

Don’t let today be a sorrowful day, America, but a somber reminder of how far we fell. Never forget.

Never forget the time we let the bad guys win.

Never forget the time we almost let in authoritarian rule.

Someday we’ll all laugh about this together. We’ll look back, nearly all of us, and wonder how we ever let it get this far. How we ever let it get this low.

How we ever let Donald Trump be President of the United States.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Lately we’ve heard more and more about nationalism. In fact, the idea of “America First” was the central theme that boosted the current American president into the White House. His populist message struck a chord among the disenfranchised, particularly the rural disenfranchised seeking meaning in a changing world.

This has not happened in a vacuum. Not that long ago, the idea of “Brexit” seemed preposterous. Now right-wing populism, protectionism, and economic nationalism have not only infected the United States, but can be seen in many elections throughout Europe. It is perhaps a natural swing of a frightened electorate to turn to protectionist policies when their “way of life” is threatened. It is an understandable but disturbing trend.

The world grows smaller. Every day the world grows smaller. Technological gains, many also unthinkable not that many years ago, give us up-to-the-minute real-time views around the globe. We are connected at the speed of light. As unindustrialized countries advance, we see low-wage alternatives to our country’s workers, and we seek protection for our own. As other nations experience growing pains, or resist growth altogether, their people understandably flee to greater pastures, to lands filled with opportunity. Lands like ours. But they are welcomed with sneers and revulsion, again with the idea that these “others” threaten a longstanding way of life.

And they do. There is no way to integrate sudden cultures without somehow bringing elements of each culture together. The very history of the United States of America is a mixing of cultures. This is why we call it the “melting pot” of the world. Those who resist the restraints on immigration brought on by populism use that very metaphor as a defense for immigrants entering this country. As the world grows smaller, though, the melting pot gets larger. Cultures, in every advanced human society, clash and merge ever more.

And the history of the clashing and merging of societies hasn’t always been a good one, though there are exceptions. Certainly, in the past, when cultures have collided there have been great casualties. The Neanderthal did not fair well for long after meeting the Sapiens. The European colonists crushed the Native Americans. A similar fate befell the aborigine in Australia.

We can learn much from these histories.

What we should not learn from these histories is fear. We should learn, instead, the prospect of successful cultural merging. With the information of thousands of years of progress at our disposal we should be able, now, to forge a path forward. Our natural inclination to resist change should begin to evolve into a natural understanding of it. We should open our arms, not build more walls.

Populism and nationalism naturally build more walls. Literally and figuratively. They are a natural outcropping or our inherent fears, our innate prejudices. They are the worst part of our history.

To succeed in the world to come, we have to overcome those fears and prejudices. We, and they, must get beyond the “us” vs “them.” Although cultural distinctions can vary, we are still all the same. We are still all humankind. The world we can create together can change all the rules of history. The world we create apart follows them. Populism is isolationist. Nationalism is divisiveness. We should have overcome this by now.

Nearly 70 years ago, after the last world war, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was produced by the United Nations. This document dreams of a world yet to come. A world where all people, around the globe, share the same unalienable rights. Big dreamers, in the wake of defeating a terrible evil, came together to hope for a better world. Their dream remains unfulfilled. In fact, it is challenged today by the fear and prejudice I have mentioned.

We are still in the middle of an awakening, worldwide. A new renaissance. A period of enlightenment. This time will be wrought with peril, setback, darkness, and ignorance. But to succeed where the dreamers have thus far failed, we must continue to dream. We must continue to fight back against fear and prejudice. We must renew our promise to people everywhere.

Please read the document linked above, written on December 10, 1948. The promise of a world coming together. The dream of a united human race. As hard as it will be, let’s renew this promise.

For all humankind.

The President and the National Anthem

national anthem protests
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In light of the unfortunate comments the president made last night in Alabama, I thought I’d share a link to my thoughts on the subject from a year ago. To reset the discussion I’ll provide a preface, for those who might need it.

During a preseason NFL game in 2016, the cameras caught Colin Kaepernick, then the QB for the San Francisco 49ers, silently protesting racial injustice in society by sitting during the national anthem. This immediately caught nationwide attention. I was out of town when the news came across my feed so I did not immediately respond. I caught glimpses of supporters and detractors of the action on social media but, again, I was otherwise occupied and, anyway, taking my time to let it sink in. One thing I pride myself in is not having gut-reactions to events.

Last night during a rally in Alabama, Donald Trump called upon the owners in the NFL to fire players who kneel during the national anthem. He chose to call anyone who protests in this manner a “son of a bitch.” Hardly presidential talk, but well within his rights to express. Which is an important distinction, because the right of expression is the very thing at stake here.

My initial reactions are in the link I provided. My thoughts have evolved again, as they should. Colin Kaepernick did not dodge out bounds, but has stood strong in the pocket. Others have joined his crusade. He has proven to be the leader of a peaceable movement of protest. He deserves our applause.

The president, on the other hand, deserves only our disdain on this. I am a big fan of the game of football, and an even bigger fan of the ideals of this nation. Any president who would take a stance against those ideals should be taken to task. Perhaps even fired.

With that, I’ll leave the link to my initial thoughts which, I believe, still largely hold strong. Agree or disagree with a stance, we, as Americans, should support the right to express it. It is, or ought to be, the American way.

Standing Behind the Sitting QB

The Wire

The Google news feed starts with Texas. 30,000 people displaced. 40 inches of rain. Louisiana in Harvey’s sites. Flooding possible in the Pelican state and parts of Mississippi. “The worst is yet to come,” some officials say.

Houston has been greatly affected by very rare flooding now for three years in a row. The chances of this type of flooding in any given year in Houston are .2 of 1%. 1 in 500. Three years in a row. Pray for Houston, indeed.

The next item in my news feed, this morning, is a rocket over Hokkaido. Kim Jong Un is at it again, and he’s not afraid to provoke the international community, especially the United States. Firing a ballistic missile over Japan is another provocation akin to the threatening of Guam. It’s chest-beating on a global scale. It’s a test. Hawks will call for war. Doves will call for talks. The only correct answer, for now, is to continue to stare him down.

Next comes Littlefinger. In case you’re running severely behind on the season finale of what is arguably the best show in television history, I won’t reveal the tell. Suffice to say that it was one of the greatest moments in one of the greatest episodes on one of the greatest shows of all time. Go team.

After another Houston story (“Cajun Navy brings boats from Louisiana to help flood-ravaged Houston”), a quick rundown of the Arpaio pardoning. It was neither unexpected nor unprecedented. But the precedent has not been a good one for presidents who have acted similarly in the past. The argument that “others have done it” does not excuse it. It’s just one more bullet in the gun Donald Trump always has aimed at his own foot. -20% approval and falling. He’s on his way to Texas to find a lifeboat now.

While I was writing the newsfeed changed. Texas and North Korea are still the top two feeds, but the third is a story on the forthcoming budget battle. Houston complicates things. A relief package will now push the wall south. On the agenda, I mean. The president has said he’ll veto any bill that does not pay for a border wall, but can he veto a bill that includes aid for Texas? Maybe. Stupid seems to be his middle political name, and that seems to work well with his base. The correct answer for his opposition is to continue to stare him down, as well.

Over at Reuters the top stories are Texas, Korea, the markets and Iran. AP news is almost all Harvey, with a little Korea, Russian war games, and child marriage in the South Sudan sprinkled in.

It’s Tuesday. I got up early. I read the news.

Lately, I don’t. I wait until later in the day when I’ve already had my coffee, already walked my dogs, gotten a shower, a shave, a spring in my step. I try to write instead, dig deep down inside for something good to pen on paper (figuratively speaking). But today I let the news come first.

The news was about Harvey. About Kim. Littlefinger. Donald Trump.

Every story needs a villain, I suppose. Today, it was nothing but.

Predictably Corrupt

This is not unforeseen.

The chaos gripping the Oval Office today was predicted, even expected. It was apparent to anyone paying attention that the presidency of Donald Trump would be a circus show. Impropriety was assured. Everything about the man told us that. The history of Donald Trump as a businessman and a human being was accessible to all. Scandal follows the scandalous. There was no way to avoid a scandalous presidency.

Remarkably, he prepared us for this moment. During the campaign, he steadfastly refused to focus on anything, for any length of time, except for the greatness of Donald Trump. America could be great again, he said continuously, but only under one man. These are the words of a narcissist, of an egotist, of a demagogue. These are the words of authoritarian dictators. We see them in other countries throughout history and we say to ourselves, “how did the people let that happen?”

We know now how “the people let that happen.”

People are remarkably easy to fool. In times of great tumult, as in the years following the Great Recession, empty promises come easy. Easy to say and easy to swallow. Building the brand of “savior” is effortless. All it requires is a complete commitment to ego, a sociopathic mentality, and – of course – willing dupes.

Donald Trump had all of these things in his campaign run.

That is how we knew. That is how we knew that his presidency would be filled with scandal. The president Donald Trump is no different than the businessman Donald Trump, the candidate Donald Trump, the man Donald Trump. Power doesn’t turn an ignoble man noble. Power does the opposite thing. It corrupts. Absolutely. So, when you take a man who is already corrupt and give him the reins of power what you get is something exponentially worse.

Of course he colluded. Of course he ignored protocol. He believes, wholeheartedly, that he is a man above reproach, above the law. He always has. Now he’s the president of the United States of America, and he would be king if he were not treated so “unfair.”

There will still be those who follow him, those who forgive him, even worship him. There will still be those who say, “it doesn’t matter what he does, he’s making America great again.” They are the ones who ignore the history of America, the history of mankind, and the history of Donald Trump. They are the ones that enable misconduct in the name of party. Over country. Over humanity.

The hope now is that we strike this mistake from our nation in short order. Business as usual was not going so well for the United States but, sadly, business-as-usual is the redemptive norm we pray for now.

I don’t expect Donald Trump to go down in history as an evil man. A selfish man, yes. An egotist, yes. A president in over his head, with delusions of empire in his brain, yes. A mistake. Yes.

We all make mistakes, but he can be remembered as a mistake we quickly corrected.

That can make all the difference in the world.


Politicians this week were handed a golden opportunity to screw the American people, and they stumbled all over themselves rushing at the chance. They failed gloriously, in public view. All of them.

That’s progress, folks. 😎 👍

The ACA is flawed. The AHCA took the skeletal frame of the ACA and fleshed it out with gifts for the rich and poison for the poor. Like most bills introduced in America it was a transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the upper elite. That is not acceptable.

Remember that as they begin Plan B: tax cuts.

They are not working on your behalf, my friends. They don’t have to; we don’t require it of them. We only demand that “our guy” is in office. At that point we give them carte blanche to screw us as they see fit. As long as our chosen appointee is doing the screwing, great. We need to stop being “republicans” and “democrats” and start being “Americans” or, better yet, “humans.” When we think of ourselves in terms of political parties or national identities we create attitudes of disdain for anyone who is not “us.” We then enable those in power to manipulate us through our identities. Strip the identity. Don’t be manipulated.

I get it. Everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to think their team is doing well. But this is not a game.

The eight decades we all have, give or take, that’s our life. And right now, by current estimates, there are over 7 billion people living out their eight decades on Earth. About 320 million of them live in the United States. That’s about 4.5% of the population of the planet. I know it’s a big deal to you, the title. Wear it proud. But keep it in context.

Of the 320 million people who do live in the United States, some 43 million of them live in poverty. That number is equal to the entire combined populations of the New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago metropolitan areas. That’s a lot of folks, folks.

In the meantime, the richest 1% of people in America own nearly 40% of the wealth.

Friends, look at that. That’s staggering.

The AHCA was going to make those people, the 1%, wealthier. The only price we had to pay to make them richer was the health of millions.

I know the argument for saving those millions. Get a job. “Get a job” doesn’t work anymore. Automation and globalization have taken the availability and need away. Jobs that are available for many of the people on the bottom and in the middle are not what they once were. Wages have been stagnant for 40 years and benefits have been cut in the name of record profits. When the worker loses and profits soar that’s that transfer of wealth I was talking about earlier. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. The gap between the two is wider than it has ever been.

The failure this week of the AHCA was great for the American people. Not because the ACA is a good plan, but because the AHCA was even worse. There are better models around the world of health care systems that work for the people more than they work for the profits. America is way behind. It’s time to catch up.

This was a good week for progress, but not a good time to celebrate. Politicians in Washington aren’t throwing up their hands in defeat, they are rolling up their sleeves and getting back to work. The people who fund their campaigns won’t be happy that they let all that money slip through their fingers. They have to find another way to get it. Or they will be replaced. That’s how it works.

It isn’t you against me. Not right vs left. It isn’t Republican or Democrat. It’s all of us in this together for the entire time that my eight decades intersects with yours. To make a better society, a better country, and a better planet we all have to realize that. Right now we work for the glorification, wealth, and success of the few. We sacrifice; they gain. 24 million people would have lost health care next year under the AHCA but the wealthiest of Americans would have kept a few more dollars.

The ACA doesn’t do enough to ensure the health of the humans in America for their eight decades, either. There are better ways. There are healthier, happier places all around the world. Also, there are places much worse. But there are no nations with more wealth than the United States of America. There is no better place on Earth to begin to set an example of how humans should be treated. How they should be cared for in the beginning of their eight decades and at the end. How important they all are in the decades in between.

We are more than statistics, more than burdens, and more than machines that make them money. We are more than Republicans or Democrats or even Americans.

Remember that.

The next bill is coming.

And it isn’t designed to help you. Not one bit.

On Giving the Man a Chance

“Give the man a chance.”

Politics are an amazing, blinding thing. A couple of months ago, the US  elected to president an egomaniacal, authoritarian demagogue. Followers of history might compare this man to Joe McCarthy, a similarly divisive and pompous politician. McCarthy, like Donald Trump, had a run of public success deriding his enemies in the public forum. In the end, however, McCarthy was condemned by his peers for conduct unbecoming. The man had no sense of decency, was exposed as a charlatan and a fraud, and was run out of office.

In other words, he was a putz.

“Give the man a chance.”

Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in November of 2007, and took office during one of the worst recessions we had ever seen. By no means a perfect leader, he nevertheless guided America from that purgatory into better days with a stable and reassuring hand. He has many documented successes. But throughout his scandal-free administration as the leader of the free world he was besieged with animosity by those who identify with the opposition party. They never gave him a chance.

“Give the man a chance.”

Eight years later, America is in a better place in almost every statistical category. And although there is much to chagrin about in the course of history there is a likelihood that the centuries will be much kinder to Barack Obama than to his predecessor or successor. Whatever the causes of success as a country, the leader during a recovery gets the credit while the president during a collapse – this time George Bush – gets the blame. As for Donald Trump, demagogic con-men are rarely remembered kind.

“Give the man a chance.”

Lest you decide, dear reader, to decipher the data above in an unkindly light, remember this: you will be measuring the successes of Donald Trump by the same values. Already the followers of the great charlatan of our time are touting his successes. “He has saved a 1000 jobs.” “The stock market has hit new records since the election.” Never mind that Barack Obama is credited with saving 1.2 million jobs in the auto industry in his early days and never mind that the stock market rebounded during his presidency from a historical fall to record heights. He deserves no credit whatsoever for such things. Barack Obama happened to be there when it happened; Donald Trump has (somehow) ensured that it has, by rhetoric alone.

“Give the man a chance.”

But almost nothing is true the way we see it in politics. Barack Obama deserves more credit than he is given by the opposition and Donald Trump less, already, than his partisans would like. And in the years that come it will undoubtedly ring true the other way. The biggest difference to my nonpartisan eyes is that Barack Obama, by all appearances, is a decent man and Donald Trump, by all evidence, is not. It matters very little to me what each espouse politically – politics is a game of lies, and the players of the game serve anything but the people. It only matters to me whether they are worthy human beings.

“Give the man a chance.”

Quit saying that now. The answer is no. The answer, in your heart, was no eight years ago when Barack Obama, the leader of the opposition party, took the oath of office. You never gave the man a chance. Instead of asking Donald Trump’s detractors to give the man a chance ask yourself why you have to ask that, and ask yourself with all honesty why you could not give that same graciousness before, in return. Politics is a fool’s game. You are being dragged about by your elephant trunks and donkey tails. In the world of politics, truth means nothing compared to zealotry. In your fervency to be the winner now you want to rewrite the rules of partisanship. The answer is no. Democrats will not give Donald Trump a chance any more than Republicans gave a chance to Barack Obama. We all root for leaders to fail when we disagree with their rhetoric.

I am neither Republican nor Democrat, though I tend to favor the platform of the left over the right. I wish that Democrats did, too, because then things would be easy. They do not. Politics, as I said, is a fool’s game. But although I am an affiliate of neither American institution I root for Donald Trump to fail. His blathering is the rantings of a buffoon. His policies are decadent at best and dangerous in all likelihood. He will set the cause of economic and human equality back half a century if he has his way. As a general rule I tend to root against anybody who reigns against the greater bulk of humanity.

Plus, he’s a putz.

So I won’t be “giving the man a chance” so much as combating his public stupidity with the marshaled forces of truth, accuracy, decency, and fact. The entire campaign was short on those four elements and, to me, they are more important than politics. If Donald Trump is the same president that he was a campaigner – that he has been a businessman or even a human being – he deserves no chances from me. He deserves none from you, either.

My eyes will remain opened for as long as this administration holds power. I only ask that you open yours as well, and keep them open the whole time. All presidents do great and terrible things, but let us not judge them any longer on what they do for your particular party, but instead judge them for what they do, or do not do, for the bulk of humanity.

All I ask is that you give that idea … a chance.

Journal Entry 12/15

The Santa Crawl was extraordinary, as always. I found myself in bed, after work on Monday, replaying those 36 hours in my head and I was amazed at how quick it all was. Life flies by in an instant; the good times come and go so quickly. I try to never miss a chance to add to my collection of amazing memories. They are the true capital of life, and the only currency I really care about. Spend your money on experiences, they say, not things. I couldn’t agree more.

In addition to spending my weekend with those dearest of friends – those craziest of compatriots – I was able to add to my stable of associates. I consider the people in my life to be invaluable treasures, and I would not be me without all of them. I’m the luckiest guy alive and I’ll challenge anybody for that title. Thank you all for joining me on another wild excursion, and thank you to those just joining the fun. Life begins every day, and we’re all just getting started.

As most of you know, I’m a dog lover. The wife and I have raised 5 amazing canines (DOGS to the layperson, as Harry Dunne would say) and we’ve had very different experiences with them all. Moxie – the middle golden – has been the most angelic of them all except for his food vice. He’ll eat anything left on the floor, including every other dog’s food. But he’s never seen the inside of a crate, nor ever had to. Ludo, the latest gem in our line of pups, is probably the most energetic we’ve ever had. He’s a bundle of anxiety and fun. The name “Ludo” comes from a character in the movie Labyrinth, one of my wife’s all-time favorites. The creature – a gigantic, gentle beast who plays with rocks and refers to himself in the third person – is named after a board game on the main character’s wall in the beginning of the movie. The game – which plays much like Parcheesi or Sorry – derives it’s name from the Latin word “ludo” which means, appropriately, “I play.”

Young Ludo was doomed from the start with the name “I play.” It is not his fault, but ours, that it is all he wants to do.

This week, the playful one took his teeth and talons to the couch and love seat. The damage was minimal but enough to convince us that he is not quite ready for complete freedom when we are away, and has thus been returned to his kennel during work hours. The campaign to “Free Ludo” on Facebook, by my artistic and brilliant compadres, has been hilarious.

Alas, it is all in vain. The only thing that will free Ludo at this point is maturity, and maturity takes time. Rest assured, my evenings are spent couch-bound with he-who-plays nestled in my lap. At 65 pounds, it is a prodigious sacrifice I make, but one I make with love. Ludo loves.

After a tame beginning, Donald Trump has returned to form in the post-election era. His insane tweets, self-promotion, and thin-skinned backlashes are akin to the campaigner and, alas, show us all that there is no difference between the two. He will be the worst president we have ever seen, and survival will be the key. It is best on Monday that the electors strike faithlessly in unison, even if it leaves us with a less-than-desired second option in Hillary Clinton. His apologists will not like this take but, no, I won’t be “giving him a chance.” Chances have to be earned and, thus far, he is exactly what I predicted he would be: breathlessly ignorant of facts, woefully unprepared, dangerously narcissistic, and beholden to the special interests of the financial elite. In short, Donald Trump is who Donald Trump has always been and the office of the president will not change him. We have a horror show ahead of us of historic proportion. I will be placing my faith in the Republicans in power not-named-Donald-Trump to rein him in. Don’t let me down, House and Senate, you are our only hope now.

Thanks for checking out this contemplative entry. Only 16 days of 2016 left, and it has been a year of wonder. Let’s finish it the way we lived it, collecting memories to last a lifetime. Happy Holidays, all. 🙂

About Them Cowboys

I’m not ready to talk about Donald Trump yet.

I mean, I’m paying attention. I’m reading, I’m watching, I’m taking notes. Last night, during a pretty riveting Bengals/Giants game I kept flipping over to the news stations. It was fascinating stuff. I’m hooked. The storyline is unbelievable. Sean Hannity is still unwatchable, but some things never change.

I’m sure I’ll be talking about Donald Trump a lot in the months to come. There’s almost always something to see and something to say. It’s a circus and he’s the ringmaster. Even more than before, he’s the ringmaster. He’s the President of the United States of America now. There’s that.

But I don’t have a lot to say about it yet. The presidency is still in pre-infancy; the head is still forming. I could talk about Steve Bannon today, I suppose, and how if he is not a white supremacist then he at least has great appeal to that ilk. He does. The alt-right love him. He basks in that. Even if he himself is not a bigot he certainly panders to bigotry and has built a base around it. I’m sure Donald Trump wants to keep that far right bloc with him, so Steve Bannon is a smart political choice. I don’t want to talk about it.

If I did want to talk about it I might talk about how the cabinet appears to be coming together. There’s a lot of talk about the old guard Republicans making up Trump’s inner circle. America’s Mayor is back. The Newt will have a place. Even the acrimonious warhawk John Bolton is being tabbed. It’s hard to drain a swamp while you’re still filling it with gators, Don.

But it’s too soon to say. The American people have spoken, and they have chosen Donald Trump to be their leader after a tight, bitter election. He’s the guy now. Unless the electoral college pulls a 180 on December 19th then he’s the prez. They won’t. That never happens. But if it did we’d see the biggest flip flop in protesters in American history. Dems would go home. Pubs would hit the streets. The shift change would be kind of fun to watch.

But it won’t happen. It never does.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those “bitter about the electoral college” kind of guys; it did what is was designed to do. Maybe it’s outdated, maybe it’s an important safeguard. Either way, it worked the way it was supposed to and that’s just fine with me.

Maybe I’d be more bitter if there were a decent candidate to fall back on. Maybe I’d be out on the streets with the protesters if Hillary Clinton were a legitimate alternative. Maybe I should have hit the streets after the DNC, when the real travesty of this election ensued. I didn’t. I didn’t even write a blog about it. Shame on Tom.

Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference. Maybe Bernie Sanders would have lost to Donald Trump, anyway. Maybe Donald Trump was inevitable. America has been spiraling out of control for a while now, and the culture war is fierce. Maybe the pendulum was going to swing far right this time no matter what. Mr Naccarato in 9th grade History was resolute about that; the pendulum always swings hard the other way in time. Maybe it was just time.


Mark Twain famously said that any man who is a pessimist before the age of 48 knows too much, and any man who is an optimist after the age of 48 knows too little. I am 48 years old, and a half. I have been an optimist my entire life and I’m very proud of my ability to see the silver lining in every gray cloud. So I’m trying, here, not to jump to conclusions, to see the positive in this election, to give the president-elect time. Not a free pass, by any means, but time. Time to prove me right. Time to prove me wrong. Time. In six months I’ll be past the age of 48 and I’d like to think I’ll retain my youthful optimism. If I do not then it would not surprise me if it were taken away by a misogynistic, xenophobic, egomaniacal charlatan who conned his way into becoming the most powerful man in the world, after I thought he was only a joke.

Oh well.

It happened.

We’re here.

I’m not ready to talk about Donald Trump yet, anyway.

How about them Cowboys?

Having Had Enough

I’ve had enough.

I’m not sick of writing. I’m not sick of blogging. I’m not even sick of politics – my return to the role of “news junkie” has only just begun. I love reading. I love learning. I love the act of synthesizing data to uncover correlations. I love coming to informed conclusions.

But I have had enough. I have had enough of this election.

I have ranted about it, here and there, on this blog. I have ranted about it, at times, on Facebook. I have discussed it, ad nauseam, in person. I’ve seen it from every angle. I’ve heard it from every side. It’s over. It’s not fixed, it’s just over.

I want to talk about something else. Doctor Strange is almost here. Iron Fist is coming. We finally got to see the first GotG2 trailer. That’s some exciting stuff.

If you’re not a superhero geek (and shame on you for that!) there’s some other really cool stuff coming your way. Halloween is 11 days from now. Thanksgiving is 36 days away. Christmas will be here in two months. Santa Crawl 2016 is about 1200 hours away.

The holidays can be stressful for some people (most people!) so if you’re one of them, sorry about all that. Let’s change the subject.

If you’re a Dallas Cowboy or Minnesota Viking fan you’re in a surprisingly great place.

If you’re the Indians or the Cubs you’re feeling pretty good today. If you’re the Dodgers you’re a little taken aback by recent events but still hanging in. If you like the Golden State Warriors you got to see last night exactly what happens when the rich get richer.

(insert political rant here)

I’m not. I’m not a Cubs fan or an Indians fan. I’m not a Warriors fan or a Cowboys fan. I don’t like or dislike the Vikings, they’ve done nothing wrong to me. I like the Lakers, who got squashed by them Warriors last night, and I like the Dodgers when I like baseball at all. I’m a Rams fan. Big time. Let’s talk about something else.

Andy Stern, an author and former North American union boss, tells us that we need to get ready for the coming world of unemployment. According to modern futurists (can I put those two words together?) we are going to see 90% of current jobs become unnecessary in the next 20 to 30 years. Automation and artificial intelligence will be able to do what most of us do by then, and they will be able to do it a billion times more efficiently. I made up the numbers “90%” and “a billion times” in those last two sentences, for impact. They can be substituted for “a bunch” and “a lot,” respectively. The gist is that the world is changing and we’ll have to do something about this whole work-for-income debacle we’ve created. We’re going to have to throw out the ol’ Protestant work ethic. It’s passé. Sorry if that was your thing.

I don’t know why I brought it up, either, I’m just fishing for topics so I don’t talk about the elephant at the podium.

But, here it goes, very quickly:

Last night was the final debate. Donald Trump came off like a pompous ass and a spoiled child, like he always does. Hillary Clinton had that cheesy, nervous smile almost entirely throughout. They both lied a bunch about what they’re going to do to save America from people like themselves. CNN says she won the debate. Almost every poll in the universe shows she has won the election. It’s pretty academic now. Either way, it’s not going to be the end of the world as you know it. You’ll be fine.

But I’ve had enough.

I’m going to talk a little bit more with people about holidays and superheroes and sports. I’m going to talk a little bit more about the future of humanity and what we can do in our daily lives to be better people. We’re living on a pretty nice planet during a pretty nice time. I’m going to try and ignore Him and Her, at least until after the election and maybe until January. I’m going to hug dogs and take walks and drink beer with the people I love most. I’m going to laugh like crazy. I’m going to be Tom.

Really, that’s the only way I know to stay sane.

I hope you’ll join me now in letting go. There is almost no feeling in the world better than letting go. And this thing – this long, dark contentious chapter – is almost over. Take my hand. There’s a light ahead.

I’ve had enough.