Tales From a Polling Station!

The big mid-term election was yesterday (duh) and if you’re tired of hearing about it and politics in general, then congratulations, you’re probably a white person.  I hope you have to climb a wall of dicks without using your hands.*  I’m gonna talk politics, but about something you might not have considered before: things that happen at a polling station.  On a busy day like yesterday there are many stories behind the votes, and I think you might enjoy some of them.

First off, a brief explanation of what it’s like to be a polling station worker, from my experience.  You arrive at 6am and have an hour to set up the station.  Your station is open from 7am-8pm and you are there the entire time.  You then take an hour to wrap it up and leave around 9pm, so it’s a 15-hour day.  On days like yesterday it goes much faster than you think.  I estimate that my polling place had around 1,500 people vote, which may not seem like much but I live in a podunk town.  So, you have 1,500 people voting in 13 hours, and you see all sorts of people.  I’ll tell you about a few of them now.

The attention-seeking assholes.  We had ours about an hour after we opened.  This guy had on a “Trump 2020” t-shirt and an American flag bandana.  He reminded me of this guy, he even had the same mustache:

morans

CA law is that when you’re in a polling station, you cannot wear anything that endorsed a particular party or might be deemed offensive.  They even give us aprons to offer to voters to use while they’re voting.  Of course, this guy wasn’t having it.  I was the clerk for voters with last names starting with G-N, and of course this guy was in my group.  I told him he’d have to cover up and he whipped out his phone and started yelling.  “I know my rights!  San Bernardino County can’t overrule the Supreme Court of the United States!  I have the article right here that says I can wear whatever I want!”  How convenient that he just happened to have that article queued up on his phone.  This went on for about a minute and then I kicked him over to my supervisor, and he continued yelling.  Eventually, we just let him vote to get him the fuck out of there.  The joke is on him, though: After he turned in his ballot I shredded it!  OK, not really, there is no way I’d do that.  I was a clerk and had nothing to do with ballots after I handed them out.  I just paid the girl who was monitoring the turned-in ballots $20 in non-sequential unmarked $1 bills and she did it for me.  The young work for cheap.**

The clerk who worked next to me (“A-F,” as I will always remember her) later told me “I had that guy at my station two years ago and he did the exact same thing.  He just wants the attention.”  Yup.

The Stoners.  We had at least four people come in to vote who must have smoked right before they came in to vote, the weed smell on them was unignorable.  So were the bloodshot eyes.  Now, this may come as a surprise to you, but two of them had to redo their ballots because they messed up their first ones.  Shocking, I know!

The Just-About-to-be-Divorced.  My voting roster had the names of all of the voters from G-N.  Obviously, this includes many families and therefore many people with the same last name and address.  Around 4pm I had a guy sign in to vote.  He saw the name above his had already signed to vote, looked at me, and said “Ah, I see my soon-to-be ex-wife has already voted.  That bitch.”  I gave him the slightest of nods as I handed him his ballot.

Later in the evening, a woman came to our table and loudly announced, before anybody can say anything to her, “I know I have to vote on a provisional ballot.  My soon-to-be ex-husband knows I’m a mail voter and he threw my ballot away just to be a dick.  I hate him, he’s an asshole.  I know I have to do a provisional ballot!”  As she filled out her ballot (filling out a ballot with the provisional paperwork takes about 20-30 minutes) she would, to remind us she was still there, grace whoever was listening (we all were but we acted like we weren’t) with comments like “he’s gonna get what’s coming to him, oh yeah” and “I have a really good lawyer, I’m gonna clean him out.”

The Names.  If you know me, you know that I love rooting for underachieving sports teams, and I love names.  Working at a polling station is a wet dream if you love names.  There were some great ones yesterday.  I had a couple of people with the last name “Mantooth” vote, and I couldn’t help it, I gushed to them about how much I loved their last name.  Creepy, I know, but they were good sports about it.  Come on, they’re Mantootheses!  Of course they’re good sports!  If I ever change my name, Dirk Mantooth is one of the top options.

Later, I had a (not the, of course) Janet Jackson sign in to vote.  When she told me her name, I imagine I looked a bit like this:

excited

It took every ounce of my willpower not to say “I’m nasty, so I’ll call you Ms. Jackson.”  I regret not saying it, even though I’m sure she’s heard some variation of that at least a thousand times.  I should have been 1,001.

And finally, the best name of the night goes to…and, I didn’t even to get to check him in because he was at “A-F”…a young lad by the name of Chance Fox.  Chance Fox is the best name since Max Power or Guy Incognito.  That kid is born into adventure and his life has to be epic at some point.  We will hear about him sometime in the future, doing something great.  Chance Fox!

The Closers.  Anybody who works in a retail store that isn’t open 24 hours knows about the closers.  They show up five minutes before closing and they keep you there late.  Last night we had a guy show up at…wait for it…7:55pm and he wasn’t done with his ballot until 8:20.  I feel like he should have a Budweiser “Real Men of Genius” song written about him.

I’m sure there were more memorable people, but it was a long day and not everyone can be Chance Fox.  I’d highly recommend that if you ever have the opportunity, you work at a polling station once in your life.  It’s not just old people (we were 40% people who couldn’t drink yet) and boredom.  There are a lot of stories out there.

*= Not an original, I read that somewhere online a while ago and it stuck with me

**= While the young do indeed work for cheap, I probably didn’t really do that

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Classic Lib

A few days ago on Facebook, I made a post that had an assumption: that most (meaning the majority, or more than 50%) of the veterans I know did not support Trump.  Apparently, I was wrong, based upon the sample of people who replied to that post.  This led to a disagreement which resulted in me unfriending a fellow veteran whom I had served with many years ago.  He sent me a private message and I will not detail what the message said, other than that he called me a “classic lib.”  I am assuming he didn’t mean that as a compliment.

I do want to thank him for, in his own way, reminding me that I live in a bubble filled mostly with people that share my views to a certain extent.  Obviously, he did not.  HIs message made me think of somebody I met on my first enlistment.  I don’t remember his name but I remember some of the things I learned from him.  He was a tech rep from Sikorsky and this was when I was working on H-60Bs, and this guy would go out with the electricians when we did compass swings the old-fashioned way, before GPS, on a Compass Rose with the MC-2 test kit.  That’s not important, though.

What is important was his attitude.  A compass swing was an all-day event back then; you’d get to the Compass Rose around 0800 and if you were lucky you’d be done by 1500.  This meant you had a lot of time to talk, and this guy talked.  This was in 1989, during Bush 1’s years.  This guy was a proud liberal and he didn’t take shit from anyone about is views.  He wasn’t an asshole about it but he stood his ground and he made good points.  I’d never met anyone like him before.  I knew I wanted to be like him with my beliefs.

And that brings us back to yesterday and today.  I was called a classic lib as an insult, but just like Jay wanted to take “porch monkey” back, I want to take “classic lib” back.  I’m proud to be a classic lib.  I have family and friends that are gay and I want them to have the same rights and privileges that I do.  Like most white people, I have one black friend (and several black people I work with who think I’m at least OK).  I want them to, like me, not be afraid when they get pulled over by the cops and be able to talk their way out of a ticket, instead of getting shot.  I support transgendered people because fuck, I’m almost 50 and I’m still learning about myself and I realize life is a long journey.

I’m a classic lib because I think a rising tide lifts every ship.  I want to counter hate and fear with love and acceptance.  I’m married to a Mexican woman, and you know what?  Her family is better to my daughter and I than my own family is.  I want to encourage that kind of behavior.

I’m a classic lib because it’s fucking November and I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and I can’t ignore that all the indicators point toward how much we’re damaging the environment.  I want my daughter to grow up in a decent climate; I care about what happens after I’m gone.

I’m a classic lib because I know that sometimes people need a hand up and I’m glad to provide it.

I’m a classic lib because I’m in a group with some older veterans and seen what TBI can do to a person.  And while I understand that both parties are hawkish, Republicans have never met a war they don’t want to send troops into.  Our current president wants to use the military on the border, a place where they can only do administrative functions, against a caravan of unarmed people that is about 1,000 miles away, on foot and unarmed.  I know he’s doing this as a distraction.  The principle still matters.

I’m a classic lib because I still have hope and believe in people, and trust them.  I’m a classic lib because I want people to be happy and to be accepted.  I’m a classic lib because I want you to do your own thing, whatever it is, as long as you’re not hurting someone else.  I don’t care what that thing is.

You’re goddamned right I’m a classic lib.  Come at me, bro.

Balls-to-Eight: A Daylight Saving Time Story

OK, listen up, all you goddamned civilians: there are many things you should understand about the military.  I’m going to cover one of those things today.  This is the most important thing to know if you (or the fruit of your loins) is thinking about enlisting: your recruiter (or career guide, or whatever they go by now) will not tell you some important things.  I am not talking about lying; I cannot recall any lies my recruiter told me, but damn, there were a lot of things he did not tell me about.

These important things will vary depending upon which branch of the service we’re talking about, and I can only speak for the Navy.  The most important thing my recruiter did not mention was duty.  That seems innocent enough, but in the Navy – and I’m only speaking from my area of experience, which is the aviation side of the Navy – duty is something that will fuck you over so many times, but you’ll get used to it right away because there is nothing you can do about it.  For the aviation types, duty breaks down into two different areas: collateral duties and duty sections.

Before I explain them and get to the title of this post, let me note that “all you goddamned civilians” now officially and forevermore includes me.  On October 31, 2018, I was officially retired for 10 years.  When you retire from the military, you are then committed to 10 years in the inactive reserves.  That is the group of people that will be recalled if they ever use up all of the active reserves.  An extremely unlikely occurrence, but one never knows.  So what I’m saying is, there is now no chance at all that I will ever wear the uniform again.  I am a goddamned civilian.

Collateral Duties.  In the Navy, doing your job is not enough.  I was an Aviation Electrician’s Mate, which meant I worked on aircraft electrical systems.  Sounds kinda cool, right?  It was.  I enjoyed it, and it’s what I still do as a goddamned civil servant for the Air Force.  Speaking of which, to my Navy peeps: everything you have heard about the Air Force is true.  Everything.

But as I said, just doing your job is not enough.  The Navy decided that you needed to have collateral duties, a fancy way of saying “other shit outside the scope of what you signed up for.”  I’ll give you some examples.  At various times in my Navy career, in addition to working on aircraft, at any given time I was also performing these collateral duties:

  • Urinalysis Coordinator
  • Physical Training Coordinator
  • Safety Representative
  • Senior Duty Section Leader
  • First Class Petty Officer President
  • Training Petty Officer
  • Technical Publications Librarian for the work center
  • HAZMAT Petty Officer
  • Morale. Welfare, and Recreation Representative
  • CPR Instructor

And those are the few I remember off the top of my head.  Just like most goddamned civilian jobs, in the Navy you wear many hats.  The worst of those was Training Petty Officer.  You are responsible for ensuring all required training for every person in your work center is completed and documented.  The military loves training, and one of the few things it loves more than training is inspecting the documentation of training and pitching a fit if all the T’s aren’t crossed and all the lower-case J’s aren’t dotted.  (This is a nod to one of my favorite movie clips)

Duty Sections, and the Balls-to-Eight

As if collateral duties weren’t enough, the Navy also has duty sections.  Most of the commands I was in had four duty sections, with people distributed evenly based upon paygrade, qualifications, and collateral duties.  So, every four days you would have duty and that meant the possibility of standing a watch.  The most important thing about all of these watches was that they were fucking boring.

In a squadron, E1-E4 had to stand the “hanger/flight line integrity watch.”  Any time there wasn’t anyone working, this watch has to be posted.  Airman Schmuckateli has to wander around the hanger and flight line for four hours, checking the aircraft for leaks and ghosts, and reporting in by radio to the ASDO (give me a few paragraphs) every half-hour that everything is “all secure.”  You are also the first line of defense if somebody attacks the aircraft, in which case you’re armed with a radio.

E-4s also have the joy of standing the “duty driver” watch.  This is an eight-hour watch which is manned 24 hours a day, and you’re a taxi driver for the squadron.  You sit in an office with the ASDO (coming up next) and wait to be dispatched somewhere.  It’s particularly fun when the ASDO is an asshole and you’re with them for eight hours.

A note before I explain ASDOs and balls-to-eight: most duty stations do what is called “dogging the weekends.”  This means that if you have duty on Saturday, you will also have it on Sunday.  This ensures that you only have weekend duty once every four weeks, instead of having it on Saturday and then two weeks later on Sunday.  It also ensures that you will have a watch sometime during that weekend and the watch will never be at a convenient time, so at least one weekend out of every month is screwed.  You’re beginning to understand why Navy recruiters don’t mention this, aren’t you?

OK, finally, the ASDO, or Assistant Squadron Duty Officer.  This is an E-5 (or an E-6 on light duty who gets the cushy 0800-1600 watch during the week) position and it’s just a secretarial job.  Every squadron has a duty phone number that anybody can call at any time for any reason, and the ASDO answers the call and reacts accordingly.  The ASDO also checks on the duty driver and flight line watches, and reports to the SDO (Squadron Duty Officer, an actual officer who is on-call).  Like the duty driver, the ASDO is an eight-hour watch and the times for the watches are 0800-1600, 1600-2400, and 2400-0800.

If you know military time, you know that there is no 2400.  The clock goes from 2359 to 0000.  Yeah, I don’t know why they put 2400 either.  Anyway, “0000” is, in the Navy at least, referred to as “balls.”  Four balls, shortened to “balls.”  Ergo, the 2400-0800 watch is the “balls-to-eight” watch.  If you get the balls-to-eight on Sunday night and you work day shift, yay, you get Monday off!  However, if you have it any other time, boo, you’re fucked and get no comp time.  Suck it up, buttercup.

This post is my wordy way of paying tribute to the ASDOs and Duty Drivers who are stuck on the balls-to-eight watch tonight, and any other watchstander who is affected by the clocks falling behind.  The watch is boring enough as it is, but imagine hitting 0200 and then setting the clock back an hour, meaning you have a nine-hour watch instead of eight hours.  It sucks.  The recruiters won’t tell you about it.  But to my brothers and sisters standing the balls-to-eight watch tonight, I feel your pain and I hope your relief is on time.

Tony Douche

As a prelude to this post, it needs to be settled as if there was any doubt (or if anyone cares): the Manfred Mann version of Blinded by the Light is much better than the original version of the song.  I am willing to concede that “The E Street Band” is a better name than “The Earth Band,” if only slightly.  OK.  Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

I admit that I’m biased and you will soon find out why, but Bruce’s version is a rambling mess of lyrics and unremarkable music, while Manfred’s is a catchier, spacey jam that is much tighter.  It was also a huge hit in 1976 when I was seven years old.  It is one of the few songs that I rarely tire of hearing and I love it as much today, if not more, than I did in the 70s.

I’m not saying that I’m a front-runner, or a back-runner or even a side-runner, but one time in my life I was way ahead of the curve: I was regularly using the word “douche”

I have two older brothers, Mike and Bob.  Mike is six years older, Bob is 2.5 years older.  In 1975 my family moved to Lancaster, CA, where I would spend the rest of my life until joining the Navy.  It wasn’t a bad place to grow up; I enjoyed the desert and the open spaces.  It was so open that our neighbors to the north, east, and south were roughly an eighth of a mile away, each.  Close enough to hear somebody yelling or doing certain mechanical work, but far enough to give privacy.

Our neighbors to the east were the Rischar family.  Tim was the father, a painter for Lockheed who worked at Edwards Air Force Base.  His wife at the time of this story, Connie, was his fourth, I believe.  She, like Tim, enjoyed her booze and she had a small dog (I think it was a Chihuahua) who she named “Li’l’ Chit.”  Draw your own conclusions.  Tim had a son, Tony, from a previous marriage and Tony was my brother Mike’s age.  There was also a toddler, Charlie, the fruit of a night undoubtedly spent drinking in front of their living room wall that was covered with gold-flecked mirror tiles.  God, I loved those tiles.  As a kid, I thought I would know I’d made it when I had a wall like that.

Mike and Tony were friends, but they would later grow apart.  In ’76 and ’77 though, I remember them hanging out quite a bit.  My brother and I often got to tag along, something oldest siblings cannot get enough of.  We weren’t a gang but being that we lived in a small cluster of houses about five miles away from anything at all, we were forced to hang out together.

Tony Rischar was the coolest guy I could ever imagine, and since Mike got us to hang out with him I looked up to my oldest brother as the next-best thing.  I am not sure at what age Tony developed his talents, but by the time he was around 20 he was living in a trailer on his dad’s property and recording his own four-track songs, playing all the instruments.  I was not an objective judge, but I thought he was great.  He was living my dream at the time, and he even had a girlfriend living with him.  A few times he had me attempt to play drums while he played guitar.  Yeah, I’m not a drummer, although I always dreamed of being one.   He played the guitar to “Wipeout” to give me a chance at those rolling drum fills, and at the time I didn’t know the song so when he stopped, I stopped.  Yeesh.

Tony was also a highly-skilled auto body worker and painter.  He did all the bodywork on a beat-up 1957 Chevy for a neighbor and it was featured in a national magazine a few years later.  I thought it was amazing that somebody could be so talented at so many things.

But back in 1977, he was still developing those talents and hanging out with my brothers and I.  Back then we decided to dig an underground clubhouse at his place.  There were four of us so it wouldn’t take long.  We went at it, and at one point we almost dug into the septic tank at his house.  We kept at it and had a decent hole for our efforts, which we covered with plywood.

One time, sitting in that club, we were listening to the radio and Blinded by the Light came on.  The good version, not the original.  If you were a kid back then, there’s at least one thing you remember about that song: “wrecked up like a douche.”  In Bruce’s version, the lyric was “Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.”  Manfred’s version sounded like “wrecked up like a douche.”  It still does.  When I hear it now I still think he’s saying “douche” instead of “deuce,” even though I know that is not true.  It’s more fun that way.

Back then, none of us knew what a douche was.  We had vague ideas and knew it had something to do with women, but that was it.  However, the way Manfred Mann said it with such authority meant it had to be something cool, right?  Abso-goddamned-lutely!  We would sing along to the song, emphasizing “douche” each time like we did with “funky SHIT going down in the city” on Jet Airliner or “I told you once, you sonofaBITCH, I’m the best there’s ever been” on Devil Went Down to Georgia.

With that in mind, knowing it was a word of some power and excellence, we decided that Tony would henceforth be known as “Tony Douche.”  And so he was.

It lasted about six months, until one of us – I don’t remember which one – learned what a douche is.  Tony certainly was not a douche.  But, we were waaaaaay ahead of the curve for calling somebody a douche, even though we did it for the wrong reasons.

Bonus track: I am not sure what year this happened, but it was probably ’77 or ’78.  In Lancaster, at the time the only radio stations we got were from Los Angeles.  For rock, you had 95 and a half, KLOS, and 94.7 KMET.  KMET was better but KLOS was more popular.  The morning DJ at the time for KLOS was Frazier Smith.  I do not remember anything about him other than I thought he was funny, even if I didn’t understand all of his jokes.  One of his catchphrases was “Too hip, I gotta go!”  Man, that sounds hokey now but back then it was a thing.  KLOS even put out “Too Hip” cards and of course, all of us had to have them.  However, to get one you had to go somewhere “down below,” which in Antelope Valley parlance (Lancaster was part of the Antelope Valley) meant anything south of Saugus or Newhall.  Here’s a picture of the card:

too hip

That year, my brothers and I went with an older guy from the neighborhood named Don Sharp – I have stories about him I need to write, good stories – to the LA County Fair, and we knew from listening to KLOS that they were giving away “Too Hip” cards there.  That was our main goal, at the fair, to get those cards.  Tony Douche couldn’t go, so he asked us to get him one.  No problem.

We found the KLOS booth at the fair and they had you fill out a little sheet before they’d give you a card.  You had to put your name on it, and perhaps some other info (I forget), and then the only question it asked was “Are You Too Hip?” and it had checkboxes next to “YES” and “NO.”  Of course, you were supposed to check yes and we did.  When we filled out Tony’s card, however, we checked “NO” and we thought it was the funniest thing.  We laughed about it the rest of the night and made sure to tell Tony Douche about it when we gave him his card.  He was pissed.  That made it even funnier to us.

I’d tell you more about Tony Douche but really, I’m too hip…I gotta go!

Triggered

I haven’t written much lately and sometimes I feel like losing that part of myself is damaging to my overall mental health, but other times I just don’t feel like I have anything worth saying.  However, I’ve been sitting on this idea for a few weeks now and it’s stuck around so long that it has to be telling me something.  I’m being triggered to write about the word “triggered.”

On October 6th, I learned firsthand about being triggered and I won’t forget it.

That was a Saturday, and on that day I took my wife and daughter to see “A Star is Born.”  If you haven’t seen the movie yet and want to, be warned there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.  I hadn’t seen any of the other versions of this movie but evidently, this one follows the last two in that the lead kills himself.  In this version, he does it because doesn’t want to hold back his wife, who has become much more popular than him.

In the movie, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) pops a bunch of pills, and then you see him taking off his belt and going into his garage, and closing the garage door.  This is shortly after his wife’s manager has told him that he hates Jackson because he thinks Jackson will continue to bring her down.  Jackson takes this to heart.

After the garage door closes, you don’t see Jackson committing the act.  The camera lingers on the garage door for a bit, and then the couple’s dog wanders to the scene outside the garage and sits down, waiting for Jackson.

This was when I was triggered.  I was seated between my wife and my daughter, and it took every ounce of effort to hold myself together.  I was crying.  This hit me so fucking hard.  I was watching myself from almost 10 years ago on the screen.  For almost the exact same reasons as Jackson, I tried to do the same thing.  I felt like I was a failure and a burden on my family and I was sure they’d be better off without me.  I was a mess.  This beautiful movie brought it all back to me and I was in no way prepared for it.  I was wiping tears on my sleeve and trying to be able to talk.  I managed to say a few things to my family before I was overwhelmed again.

We left the theater and my wife and daughter went to the bathroom.  While they were there I tried to compose myself again, having a small amount of success.  My daughter came out first and then I went to the bathroom, struggling to choke back the tears.  By the time I left the bathroom I had myself under control, or so I thought.

As we walked to the car and talked about the movie I felt myself losing it again.  I managed to keep a lid on it and we all talked about how much we liked the movie.  To clarify, I did like the movie, a lot, and I don’t blame the movie for what happened.  I know now that it was waiting inside of me and is still there.  I know that I have a trigger, waiting to be flipped.  Knowing it will help me better deal with it the next time it happens, and I know that it could happen again.  I’m not ashamed of it, but after that Saturday I’m more aware and sympathetic of people who are triggered.  I had no idea of how real it is and how hard it can hit you.  I consider myself lucky in that it’s been so long since the event that I was triggered, and that I was able to regain control of myself in short order.

Thinking of that, I can only start to imagine what it is like for other people to be triggered.  What it’s like to be more triggered, beyond what I experienced.  I think of being shut down and not being able to function, of how I felt unable to breathe and that lasting more than a few minutes.  It’s terrible to contemplate.

I’ve thought about this a lot in the intervening weeks and in that time I knew I would eventually write about it, that it wouldn’t stay inside of me.  As of late, the United States has become a vicious place.  It’s easy to dismiss people’s feelings or to minimize them.  I hope that this lesson I’ve suddenly learned sticks with me and that I will do whatever I can to ease that viciousness toward others.  Hate is easy, contagious and feeds upon itself.  Love and acceptance take more nurturing and effort.  Understanding is even harder.

I think we all need to try at least a little bit harder.  I know it starts with me.

Mike Ness Beats Up a Trump Supporter and I’m Conflicted

First, the story: Self-Inflicted Bad Luck

I’ve been a Social D fan since the early 90s.  On my second deployment, one of my coworkers brought “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” with him and I borrowed it and was instantly hooked on their catchy dirges. I haven’t seen them in concert yet although they’re on my list.  I do know a bit about Mike Ness and his politics, though.  I would imagine that most people (including Tim Hildebrand the guy Ness beat up) going to see Social Distortion are aware of where Mike stands on things like our President.

Hildebrand was obviously looking for a conflict.  I’ve read elsewhere that he’s a Trump supporter, a Proud Boy, and has other links to the alt-right.  He knew what he was doing.  He flipped Mike Ness off for two straight songs.  That makes me think of the intro to “Ring of Fire” on Social Distortion’s live album when Mike tells somebody in the crowd who is flipping him off to take all ten of his fingers and stick them up his ass.  It’s established that Mike is anti-flipping-off.

But does what Hildebrand did justify Ness beating him up?  Sure, I’ll admit that my lizard brain enjoyed reading about this the first time, but then the rational part of my brain – always much slower, for some reason – caught up.  It’s not good.  Yes, absolutely sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.  A quote from a Piers Anthony novel I read when I was a kid comes to mind (paraphrasing): “Violence isn’t always the answer, but sometimes it’s a good one.”  However, this wasn’t one of those times.  I get that Mike was gonna do what he was gonna do, but Hildebrand walked out of there with a total victory.  Now he’s the victim and liberals are intolerant and he’s sure to be on Fox News soon.  He’s having the moment he wanted.

Sometimes we have to listen to our better angels.  Yeah, they’re boring and they suck, but most of the time they have the right idea.  I get why Ness beat this guy up and as I said, there’s a little part of me that applauds him.  It’s just that this doesn’t do any good.  I also get that sometimes we give into those lesser angels and do something that feels great at the time, but we know is bad.  So, I’ll silently applaud Mike and publically judge him.  Shame on you, Mike, for doing that cathartic thing you did.

We’re So Fucked, But There’s No Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hello again.  I haven’t written about politics or anything else lately because as my wife and I assumed full-time custody of my daughter, we’ve learned how much time that actually takes and how it drains your energy for other things.  Well, that’s part of the reason.  Mainly, it’s because as a country we are so fucked right now and there’s not much hope in sight.  Sorry to be a downer, but it’s true.  Let’s look at a few things and see just how bad it is.

The Cult of Trump.  An aggregate of Trump’s approval rating sits at 43% right now.  Holy shit, man.  There is always a margin of error with those polls and also, people aren’t honest.  I’m guessing there are a bunch of people who still support Trump but will not cop to it publically, in addition to his diehards who will never give him up.  They’re Trump’s Rick Astleys.  They believe Trump no matter how often it’s been proven Trump lies, no matter how much evidence of corruption there is.  Trump will always have at least a 40% approval rating, and there isn’t much that can be done about that.  But at least we have checks and balances, right?

A Silent Congress.  In no way has Trump’s presidency been normal or even good.  Amy Siskind has taken the daunting and disheartening task of chronicling, week by week, the abnormalities of this government.  Check it out here: Bring a meal, you’ll be reading for a long time.  With all of that evidence, you would think that either the House or Senate (or both) would be compelled to, you know, put some checks on the president and take some action.  Thus far, we’ve mostly heard silence from Republicans in both branches, except for a few who are retiring soon and thus have nothing to lose by speaking out – and yet, no action from them, just words.  Nothing is being done and Trump is acting as a dictator, doing what he wants with little or no input from anyone else because he knows he’s the best at everything.  I’ve written several emails to my Representative, Paul Cook (Republican) asking him where he draws the line in the sand with Trump.  I’ve yet to get a response.  Fortunately, public officials can be voted out of office and we’re seeing that lately, with many seats at various levels changing from red to blue.  Blue Wave 2018, right?

Voter Suppression and Election Tampering.  Hey, remember that Supreme Court seat the Republicans stole, with the help of Mitch (I wish I believed in Hell because if it existed I know he’d rot there for eternity) McConnell?  It’s already paying dividends for the Republicans.  Get ready for the voting rolls to be purged.  I wonder which party will have the most voters removed from the registers?  Meanwhile, Trump still repeats the lie about millions of illegal voters and cries “no collusion!” while facts continue to mushroom-stamp him, to no avail.  Meanwhile, Russia definitely tampered with the 2016 election.  Meanwhiler, Russia is tampering with the 2018 election.  Remember how much shit Obama got for his “more flexibility” comment to Dimitri Medvedev?  Now, Trump can agitate our long-term allies and coddle up to dictators, and say that Russia should be allowed back into the G8, and Republicans don’t do anything.  Not a thing.  Please, Republicans, stop saying this is not your party.  This is exactly your party and your complicity and silence reinforce that.  On the bright side, we have the Mueller investigation to look forward to, that will provide us some relief, right?

The Mueller Investigation Won’t Take Down Trump.  Good news, everybody!  Paul Manafort just went to jail for witness tampering and this increases the likelihood he’ll turn on Trump, right?  I have every confidence in Mueller and his investigation and I suspect he’s digging up some nasty shit.  Just remember, though, the president rarely takes a fall.  Reagan had Oliver North.  Clinton had Monica Lewinsky.  Bush had Scooter Libby.  Trump will have Manafort.  If Trump doesn’t get indicted by this investigation, that will be spun as the ultimate victory for him and he’ll coast into reelection in 2020 and continue to grift the country as he burns it down.  Oh yeah, and he’ll get to appoint at least two more Supreme Court justices in that time, in addition to all of the federal judges he’s appointing, thereby ensuring lasting damage to the US.  If Trump does get indicted, the chances of him being removed from office are slim and even if he does get removed, we’ve got Pence waiting in the wings.  Here’s Pence in a nutshell:

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Pence would be like Trump except that Pence is an actual politician, and might get more done.

So What Can We Do, Mr. Negative?  There are two things we can do: protest and vote.  Protests make your voice heard.  Writing to your Congresspeople is a form of protest.  March in the streets when you find your cause.  And vote.  I mentioned voter suppression and election tampering above.  That can be overcome.  Vote every damn time.  Get your friends to vote.  If you know somebody that doesn’t vote, work on them and get them to vote.  We’re fucked, and it’s not hyperbole to say our future depends upon it.