Traditional New Year’s Day Post!

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2016 is over and I feel like I should be super happy about that, but I can’t quite let my guard down just yet. While I’m not a horror movie fan, I’ve seen enough to know that this is likely the part of the movie where everybody gets all giddy because they’re “finally safe” just before the monster pops back up for one last ultra-gruesome murder. I guess the good news is that usually after that happens everybody gets serious and kick ass and, unless the movie makers have hopes of a franchise (which, let’s face it, most do), go flipping nuts in their zeal to kill the monster. They go full scorched earth on its ass and while I don’t want to lose anybody or anything else to one of the worst years ever, I do kind of want to kick last year’s ass in a big way.

Starting with this blog post.

Just kidding. It’s New Year’s Day. I’m tired. And in the middle of doing laundry. And I’m hungry. But it is the tradition among those of us who make things or aspire to make things that we take some time on this day to talk about what we did last year and what we want to do in the following year. So, without further ado…

(Every time I say that, the Looney Tunes theme plays in my head.)

Let’s talk about 2016.

2016 was an epic poonado of a year. We lost so many and so much. Every loss hurt more than the last. I’m not going to list them all here because we’re all well versed in our losses and rehashing them here won’t help anybody.

Plus, 2016 did have some goodness in it. Beautiful art was created and hilarious jokes were told. Relationships were started. People I love got married. People I love got engaged. People I love created new people to love.

After almost a decade apart, I got to spend time with both of my older brothers this year and good conversations and adventures were had.

I did some merch. I went to some shows. I saw a few movies. I read a bunch of books and discovered some new authors to follow. I went back to school (very part time).

And though I lost many heroes, I found some new ones too.

Probably most importantly this year, I finally found…my calling? My purpose? I guess? It seems super weird to call it that. But it kind of fits. In less pretentious terms, I got fed up with the major media outlets totally fubarring their election and policy coverage and decided to do it my own darned self. I did this primarily on twitter though I did manage to eke out a few blog and Facebook posts along the way. And you all helped support this sloooooooow ongoing shift from “if it pays me I will write it” to “I’m a political writer and independent journalist.”

So. That’s 2016. It was a rotten year in so many ways, but it’s important to remember that some wonderful stuff happened too.

So. 2017. What’s Next?

My biggest hope for 2017 is that there is more good than bad. The challenge here is absolutely going to be remembering that “good” does not always look simple or happy or even make us smile. This year “good” is going to be ugly. It will look a lot like fighting. And shouting. And demanding. And sometimes it will feel terrible and it will hurt. We’ll have to remind ourselves over and over again that Stephen Sondheim is right: Nice is different than good.

For my part, I’m hoping to contribute more. And because I think we should all play to our strengths when we’re figuring out how best to defeat the dark side, for me that means more words on pages. It means using the time I spent mired in “the other side” to inform and educate and not just shoving those memories down and hoping to forget them. It means getting comfortable with my discomfort. That part is going to suck, but it will be worth it. Hopefully.

Personally? Yes, I did make resolutions thank you for asking. I don’t always make them but this year I thought it might be a good idea.

–More outside, less in.

–More water, less soda.

–More movement, less sitting.

–More reading and music, less TV.

–More blogging, less retweeting.

–More facts, less speculation.

–More people, less screens.

What are you hoping for this year?

And now for all the self promotey awkwardness! Here’s my Twitter. Here’s my Facebook. Here’s where you can send monetary support, if that’s a thing you want to do. Please follow, like, share, all that good stuff!

A Great Big Thank You

Around this time last month, I was having a really rough go of it. Like, the worst depressive episode I’d had in over a year levels of rough. Like, on the verge of not being able to take care of myself rough. Literally all I could do was sit on my couch, cry, and obsessively watch social media. I couldn’t concentrate and I couldn’t work and, yeah. It was bad.

Normally a few days of not being able to work shouldn’t be that big a disaster, but because the run up to the election had been so hectic and I’ve been so bad about finding a way to reliably fund this whole independent political writing/journalism thing…let’s just say the situation was Dire.

If you’ve known me for more than five minutes you likely know that I am not good at asking for help. I have almost a pathological aversion to it. This is not hyperbole. I have friends who will back me up on this.

But last month, there weren’t any other options. So, I asked. And then I cried a lot and called myself a bunch of terrible names because I’m supposed to be able to take care of myself all time no matter what. Forever and ever amen.

Before I could finish my laundry list of terrible names and reasons why I suck, though, you all started responding and the responses were overwhelming. So many people pitched in to help me and to let me know that I was cared for and supported. And the responses kept coming. So, I cried some more but for a wholly different reason.

I should have written this sooner but I wanted to take a moment to say a Great. Big. THANK YOU. Thank you to everybody who responded and for every way you responded. Even a month later, I’m overwhelmed by how quickly you jumped to help me and I will forever be grateful to you for it.

Thank You!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you!!

 

Donald Trump Does Not Want To Be President

Before I get into last night’s debate can we all just take a second to acknowledge and thank whatever diety you hold most dear that the debates are finally over? Because I do not know if I could sit through another one of those. Go ahead. Send a quick “thank you” out into the universe. I’ll wait.

Done? Cool.

My feelings about the third and (thank God) final debate are pretty much like my feelings about the first and the second: Yep. That is a thing that actually happened.

Today there has been a hell of a lot of ado about the fact that when asked point blank if he would accept the results of the election if he did not win, he first said “I’ll have to see” and then “I’ll keep you in suspense.” That this was followed today by his saying “I will totally accept the results of the election, no question…if I win,” was fairly predictable. When called out on the total bonkersity of a statement, Trump can’t help but double down.

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There are also “Nasty Woman” shirts and swag popping up all over the place, which is awesome and I hope I get the chance to buy some of it before it sells out.

For me, what last night’s debate really drove home was that–in spite of what he says about winning–Donald Trump does not want to be President.

Oh sure, he wants to win. That’s how he sees himself: the constant winner, the champion of everything, the most giantest star that ever burned so bright in the universe. Bigly. He wants that trophy something bad.

But he does not actually want to be President. He doesn’t actually want to run the country. He wants the spotlight, the accolades, the gushing genuflection of millions, but he does not want to do the work.

It’s something I’ve sensed since the beginning, even before he got on that first debate stage and refused to pledge to support another candidate if they won the primary because “I’m in this to win.” And with every speech he gives and every interview he tries to fake his way through, this becomes more and more obvious to me. How? Because the more he talks the clearer it becomes that he has no idea what a President does or how the government works.

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Based on the speeches he gives, his responses to criticism, and his recent affection for saying that if elected, “every dream you ever dreamed will come true,” Donald Trump thinks that the Presidency is a 24/7 party of getting his way. He says things like “If we don’t get the deal I want, I’ll walk away from the table.” When talking about international trade deals and foreign policy.

He has said that within hours of his taking the oath of office, law enforcement will begin rounding up “illegals” and kicking them out of the country.

He has said that he will eliminate all gangs and violence and crime.

And sure, it’s easy to chalk this stuff up to dangerous delusions of grandeur. Still, his lack of knowledge is reinforced when he insists that, if Secretary Clinton had been able to do her job, she’d have been able to change the laws he’s taken advantage of. I mean, he knows that Senators cannot individually and unilaterally create laws, right? He knows that, in order to actually get his deportation force going he’d have to have the action approved by Congress, right? He knows that he isn’t allowed to single handedly amend the Constitution, right? He knows there aren’t twelve articles in the Constitution, right?

And don’t even get me started on that Trojan Horse thing he keeps saying and getting wrong. Ugh.

Add this blatant lack of basic knowledge to his predilection for praising dictators and, yeah–feel that nausea building in the pit of your stomach? I call that “prelude to the horror barfs.” Last night Donald Trump refused to denounce Putin. Then he went on to say that the only reason Secretary Clinton doesn’t like Putin or Assad is because they’re smarter than her and better leaders.

So here’s a guy who doesn’t seem to know how the basic functions of government work and seems to want to emulate totalitarian dictators. Maybe this is because he doesn’t want to do the work of actually learning about them. I don’t know. But no matter what, it’s scary.

Finally, let’s all take a sec to look way way back to a few months ago when those closest to Trump (like Paul Manafort, remember him?) said that in his search for a VP candidate, he was looking for someone who would “do the part of the job that he didn’t want to do” and that he saw himself “as more the Chairman of the Board than even the CEO let alone the [Chief Operations Officer]”

Catch that? For those who don’t speak corporate, basically Donald Trump wants to be the figurehead who gets all the credit, while Mike Pence would do all of the actual governing. A) That’s not how the system works, like, at all and 2) Mike Pence is poop-your-pants-scary.

Over and over again (last night’s debate included) Donald Trump has proven that not only does he not understand how government works, he doesn’t care that he doesn’t understand how government works and thinks we should all heap piles of praise upon him for bothering to show up at all. It’s insulting to everything that generations of leaders have worked so hard to build.

Look, you may not totally love Secretary Clinton. That’s fine. But even if you disagree with her on the issues, at least you can be confident that she knows how the government works. Like, not only can she say the words “Checks and Balances” she can use them correctly in a sentence.

To translate all of this into nerd: who would you trust more with your life? Hermione Granger? Or Vincent Crabbe?

So maybe in a couple of weeks, let’s give Donald Trump what he really wants: a reason to do nothing at all. Preferably ever again.

 

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to help support my work here’s a handy link for that! All donations are appreciated! 

Live-ish Tweeting the VP Debate

I had family in town this week and was having dinner with them during the Vice Presidential debate so I couldn’t watch the event live. But! I have a DVR. So I recorded it and sat down to watch it this afternoon. What follows are all of the things I would have tweeted if I had live-tweeted it…but without those pesky 140 character limits.

Mike Pence always looks like he’s being forced to smile for a school picture.

Holy Moderator Eyelashes, Batman!

Mike Pence has already done the “this is stupid/you’re such a dumbass” head tilt/seat shift thing more than a dozen times and Tim Kaine hasn’t finished with his opening remarks.

Tim Kaine, is a note taker! I don’t know why this makes me happy but it does!

Fantastic question dodge there, Mr. Kaine.
Oh hey, here’s that whole “you would know about an insult driven campaign” thing.

Okay, I see why people were down on Kaine at the beginning of the debate. Shut up, dude!

Interrupt, interrupt, now they’re just taking over each other.

“When Hillary became SoS, do you know that Obama was alive?” first genuine LOL of the event.

“Iraq is overrun by ISIS because Hillary Clinton, failed to negotiate…” Pence blaming Hillary Clinton for GWB’s decision.

Jeez, Tim Kaine does “angry Dad face” REALLY well.

Tim Kaine so totally wants to punch Mike Pence in the face right now.

“Even Bill Clinton calls Obamacare a crazy plan!” Well…..that’s not *entirely* true…

Pence has a point that you need to grow the economy to better deal w/debt but no, Trump’s plan won’t do that. Unless “economy” is code for “Trump’s pockets.”

Timmy, enough with the “you’re hired” vs “you’re fired” POTUS. That’s HS Marketing 101 level stuff.

I like anybody who can just drop the word “bullwark” into a sentence like it’s something we all say everyday.

Gov Pence actually chuckling in Kaine’s face. Gross, dude.

I will say this, Gov Pence is doing a better job of talking to the people watching. He’s actually acknowledging us. So far, Tim Kaine not so much.

“You can roll out the numbers but people know different.” NUMBERS ARE NOT SUBJECTIVE BUTTHEAD.

“He’s used the tax code brilliantly” “How do you know that?” “Because he built a business” “But how do you know??” This is what EVERYBODY WANTS TO KNOW.

Pence “he hasn’t broken his promise.” Technically true. Until November 8, he still has time to say he will release his returns before the election.

“Gentlemen, the people at home can’t understand either one of you.” Wow, ain’t that the truth. Good job, Moderator.

“We never said that” “But you have a voting record, Governor! I can’t believe you won’t defend your own voting record.” BOOM.

Oh no. Law enforcement/Race Relations. This is going to be a trainwreck.
“At the risk of agreeing with you,” says Gov Pence. THIS IS THE PROBLEM. AGREEING SHOULDN’T BE A BAD THING. …unless it’s for bad stuff, then cut that crap out.

Is..is he….is Gov Pence blaming Black Lives Matter for the tense relationship between police and the communities they serve?

Gov Pence proving he doesn’t understand that “implicit bias” is demeaning.

Two white guys should NOT be talking about how people of color should feel.

Tim Kaine keeps pointing out that Mike Pence isn’t defending Trump’s positions. This is smart.

“Donald Trump has a plan that he laid out in Arizona,” says Pence. Um, no? Plans have details, sir. “I’m gonna do all the things” is not a plan.

Pence tries to blame Tim Kaine for being insulting after Tim Kaine quoted Trump. Oh lord.

Now Pence is saying that all of the terrible things Trump has said don’t come close to being as bad as the “basket of deplorables” comment. This says more about his world view than he thinks it does.

Mike Pence has mastered the disappointed “can you believe this” smug head shake.

After we secure the border…in the air? Um. What?

Moderator: “How would you get the people here illegally out?” Pence delivers the midwest polite version of “we’re going to get them out because we will.”

Wow, not a single stumble over the name of ISIS’s head bad dude. That was impressive, Senator Kaine.

A Mt. Rushmore of dictators.

Mike Pence “I can defend….er, um, I, uh, I can make clear to the American People.” Iiiiiiiiiiiinteresting stumble there, Governor.

ISIS was not “conjured up out of the desert” beause Secretary Clinton didn’t throw GWB’s policy out the window, Governor.

So sick of this ISIS is Hillary’s fault BS.

Mike Pence is doing a wonderful job of making Donald Trump’s bizarro scary ass plans sound like bedtime stories.

Uh, Gov Pence? Syrian refugees weren’t responsible for Paris. Not all brown people are the same.

UGH STOP CALLING IT CYBER.

Oof, Moderator, you actually *do* have to give both sides time to respond to the question. This is ONE time I’ll say Gov Pence was right to interrupt you.

…ugh. He’s using it to bring up emails.

Noooooooooo Sen Kaine, don’t get sucked into the eeeeeeeeeeeeemaiiiiiiiiilllls

Moderator has lost control. “GENTLEMEN PLEASE,” does not bode well for her ability to keep the rest of this thing on track.

Safe zones….. remember when we set those up for the Native Americans? Any time you talk about marching victims somewhere you know you’re on the wrong side of the issue.

“If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership you need to go back to a 5th grade citizenship class.”

Ooooh, Senator Kaine is using Trump’s avoidance of taxes to show that he doesn’t support the military. SMART. I hope this catches on.

Uh, maybe don’t use a Russian proverb to prove that you don’t like Russia? Just a thought there, Gov Pence.

“Weak and feckless leadership that Hillary Clinton created….” Bite me, Gov Pence.

And we’ve reached the pot-shot part of the debate. That means this is almost over, right?
“You did this,” “No?” “Yeah you did.”

Pssst, Senator Kaine, it’s NORTH Korea. Not South. NORTH.

Gov Pence’s face is all sorts of “please stop using facts. Please I’m begging you. I only know how to spin by laughing. Please stop.”

Governor Pence “Most of what you said is completely false. Here’s the difference between what you said and reality.” Something something Princess Bride joke.

IT WASN’T A RANSOM PAYMENT.

Wait….wait…. “When we say Russia is strong, we don’t mean Russia is strong, we mean America is weak!” What?

As much as I love the guy, Senator Kaine should never play poker.

Building new islands? China is Building? New? Islands? Admittedly I’m not super up to date on my China knowledge but, Building? Really?

Gov Pence is saying that they’ll keep North Korea’s nuclear capabilities from growing by…complaining about the Clinton Foundation. There aren’t enough confused head tilt gifs on the whole internet.

This Moderator is practically begging these guys to stay on topic.

Gov Pence: The Trump Foundation is fine because Hillary Clinton used email!

Social issues. Here we go. Social issues mean everything explodes and we’re all done, right?

Senator Kaine making a point to talk about how important it is to separate personal faith from public service. So glad he’s making this point. It’s an important one that isn’t made enough.

Gov Pence, on the other hand, fully admits that he uses his personal faith to inform his public policy and sees no problem with that.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION.

UGH, Pence flat out lying on “we’d never punish a woman for making a reproductive choice.”

Kaine: “Why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves?” THIS. ALWAYS THIS.
Pence: “Because a society is judged by how it serves its most vulnerable.” Interesting how a baby stops being seen as vulnerable once its born.

Final statements! Thank you lord, it’s final statements time! It’s almost over! TALK FASTER MIKE PENCE SO I DON’T HAVE TO WATCH YOU ANYMORE

IT’S DONE! FINALLY! I SURVIVED!

Verdict: I’m going to crib the other night’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell: if you don’t care about the truth and only care about tone and demeanor then Governor Pence totally won. But if you care about substance and truth, Senator Kaine crushed it.

AAAAAAA I didn’t turn off the recording in time and just heard Chris Matthews say “erogenous zones.”