C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Pork Boys Do Thanksgiving 2016

Just a few pics to show you fellas how it went at our house.  First, a couple of pics of last month's Halloween decorations, all the credit for which goes to M.P., the creative partner (I just do the dishes):

Click to enlarge.

Some daylight photos of the Thanksgiving table:

The hors d'oeuvres included egg salad and pimento cheese, both homemade, as were the whole-wheat wafers; also cheddar and swiss cheeses, pepperoni slices, and sliced beef roll-ups.

The appetizer was fluffy, savory quichettes hot from the oven, with egg, ham, broccoli, and cheddar wrapped in a flaky homemade crust.

M.P. set a beautiful Thanksgiving table with a gold damask cloth and a handmade cornucopia, partly filled with found items from the yard and garden.

The turkey took a long time to cook, M.P. basting it in a slow oven for about ten hours, but when it was finally done, it was worth the wait:

A couple of side dishes are pictured below:  maque choux (a Cajun corn mixture) and the classic green bean casserole, which I made from the original Campbell's Soup recipe - it's getting to be one of my specialties. Since we didn't have a can of French fried onion rings, M.P. sliced an onion very thinly and fried the rings himself.  He also julienned by hand a whole can of regular green beans, which he says was not so daunting as you might think.

I also made a sweet potato souffle topped with mini marshmallows (not pictured, alas), which I've been doing for the last forty years or so, a very simple thing but always a crowd pleaser. M.P. made his marvelous featherbed rolls, so called because they are so soft and light - wonderful with a big pat of butter:

We also had a few other things I should have gotten pictures of - the homemade sausage M.P. used in the dressing, flavored with fresh herbs from the garden, also his lovely homemade pecan pie, and my store-bought pumpkin pie, but at this point hunger overcame photography, so I will close with a picture of my full plate, moments before it mysteriously vanished:

From 12 to 2 o'clock:  sweet potato souffle; 3 to 6 o'clock: turkey and dressing; 7 to 10 o'clock:  maque choux; squeezed in from 10 to 12:  green bean casserole.  Not pictured:  real mashed potatoes, which I had no room for, and the giblet gravy and cranberry sauce, which were waiting just offstage to be added.

And of course we will have plenty of good leftovers to feast and refeast upon for a good long while, as is only to be expected. So despite a rather tight budget this year, we ate very well and were most grateful for all our blessings, culinary and otherwise.

How did it go with you fellas?

Waitin' for the Weekend

Noah Mills

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Yes We Cran

For a few chuckles and groans, here's President Obama pardoning the National Turkey (note to overseas readers:  that is not Donald Trump, not yet) for the last time:

Here's wishing peace, good cheer, and a very Happy Thanksgiving with all the trimmings to my truckbuddies.

Is the Law Really on Trump's Side?

The law's totally on my side, meaning, the president can't have a conflict of interest.

--Donald Trump, interview with the New York Times, November 22, 2016
Perhaps some of my truckbuddies were as surprised as I was to hear that the Orange One is not required by law to place his business holdings in a trust when he takes office. But it's true, and as a public service, your Head Trucker has tracked down what the law says about it. The relevant statute is Title 18 of the United States Code, Crimes and Criminal Procedure, under Part I of which Chapter 11 deals with Bribery, Graft, and Conflicts of Interest - here is the first part of the contents of Chapter 11, via the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University:

Click to enlarge.

Section 208 of Chapter 11 deals with Acts affecting a personal financial interest, and applies to all federal officers and employees; but Section 202, subsection (c), specifically exempts the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and federal judges. Read it yourself:

Click to enlarge.

This law was passed by Congress in 1962 as a comprehensive reform of conflict-of-interest guidelines.  Here is what the Washington Post's Fact Checker has to say about it:
The law doesn’t say the president can’t have a conflict of interest. But Congress, under Title 18 Section 208 of the U.S. code, did exempt the president and vice president from conflict-of-interest laws on the theory that the presidency has so much power that any possible executive action might pose a potential conflict.

“As a general rule, public officials in the executive branch are subject to criminal penalties if they personally and substantially participate in matters in which they (or their immediate families, business partners or associated organizations) hold financial interests,” the Congressional Research Service said in an October report. “However, because of concerns regarding interference with the exercise of constitutional duties, Congress has not applied these restrictions to the President. Consequently, there is no current legal requirement that would compel the President to relinquish financial interests because of a conflict of interest.”. . .

While spoken in classic “Trumpese” that fails to capture the nuances of the law, the president-elect did rightly point to an exemption for the president and vice president in conflicts of interest laws. And while such an exemption exists, the theory was that the presidency has so much power that any policy decision could pose a potential conflict. The law assumed that the president could be trusted to do the right thing and take actions to avoid appearance or presence of impropriety — not that the law is “totally” on the president’s “side” or that it would allow the president to use the exemption to his favor.

Trump’s statement does not quite rise to the level of a Geppetto Checkmark, nor does it qualify for a Pinocchio. So we will not rate this claim. Trump, nevertheless, should be more careful about his wording on this point. It’s quite possible he will face a number of conflicts of interest during his presidency. The law may offer an exemption for the president, but political reality — and perception— often does not.
So there you have it. Trump can legally, in his words, "run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There's never been a case like this." The only hindrance is the provisions of Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution:
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.
But little good will that do with a man whose global business organization far outruns anything the Founding Fathers could have imagined.

Some other pertinent readings on this topic if any of you boys are interested enough to look at them:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

George Takei: Gaman

Loz takei 2015 side

Famed Japanese-American actor and activist George Takei in the Daily Beast:
Permit me to share some personal experience. When Japanese Americans were sent away to internment camps during World War II, simply because we looked like the enemy, we had legitimate fear of angry mobs, as well as a deep and utter despair over a country that had turned its back, not only upon a whole group of its own people, but upon its very values. But amidst all the unfounded hate and suspicion of us, there were also many good Americans who came to our aid: neighbors who offered to look after farms, homes and pets; Quakers who visited us in camp to bring vital services and monitor our treatment; lawyers who filed suits on our behalf and saved tens of thousands of us, including my own mother, from being deported. Even in the darkest of times, there were so many ordinary heroes who gave us hope and succor. It is they whom I remember most today. It was they who helped change things for the better.

There are many who rightly feel afraid for what will happen next. But hard as it is to face, we must remind ourselves that fear is the favored weapon of bullies and thugs. Fear can make us turn away from our hopes and give in to mistrust and cynicism. Let us instead take each moment of fear as a challenge to stand up ever taller. When my community was faced with some of the harshest of treatment during the internment, there was a word we often repeated: gaman. It means to endure, with dignity and fortitude. We did not permit them to strip away our basic humanity. We rallied, gave comfort to each other, and got through it. Gaman has been a steadying and comforting bedrock principle for me through these many decades. . . .

Some sixty million Americans voted for Donald Trump, and I refuse to accept that most did so because of what he stands for, but rather despite it. And while some argue that enabling or ignoring his rhetoric when casting a vote makes his supporters complicit, I choose to find hope in the despite—in the fact that most Americans still agree that racism, sexism, and discrimination of any kind is wrong. For these voters in this election, these things sadly did not outweigh their bitterness and mistrust of the political establishment. Our answer must not be to shut them out as uncaring or bigoted, but to address their concerns, to win back their trust by restoring their hopes, to not turn our backs but to open our hearts. And to do so when all of our instincts cry out simply to cut them out—that is the measure of true commitment. . . .

With the bulk of Trump’s supporters, we must find common ground, as tough as that presently sounds. But let me be clear on this other point: It is one thing to reach out, as we must and should, to white working-class voters who rejected our message in this election. But it is another thing entirely to oppose, as we must, the real threat to our values, progress, and rights presented by the incoming administration. While we recommit ourselves to being the champions to all middle class and working Americans, we can and will do so by holding Trump and his cohorts accountable at each step for their regressive economic agenda, by safeguarding our cherished liberties of a free press and the right to worship and assemble, and by opposing any policies or actions that might do damage to our communities, our economy, and our environment. . . .

No one is under any illusions that the next four years will be easy. But the Japanese have a saying: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” It is time for us to stand up again, and to press on with renewed determination. So hold your heads up high and carry on, turning your fear and anger into clearest resolve. As my mother would say to me in the camps, “Gaman, Georgie. Gaman.”

Monday, November 21, 2016

Liberal Redneck: Trump and Turkey

Well guys, I posted a lot of things last week, and I could post a lot more - but frankly, I'm quickly reaching my load limit of outraged, despairing, OMG-what-a-nightmare, the-fascists-are-coming news posts. In times of tragedy, there's only so much grief and pain your heart can stand; and then you have to back off a bit, get quiet, and try to consider the bigger picture and the way forward.

At this point, all the news and all the jabber boils down to: yes, the future looks pretty damn scary, but we have to live it one day at a time and just do the best we can to get through it unscathed. All else is unknown at this point, and it won't help you or anyone else to spin out and crash now when your help and talents may be needed later. So just chill for a while, guys, and meanwhile focus on what's really important in your lives, and how you can make that better, here and now.  We don't know what tomorrow will bring, so take care of today.

My darling Mama used to chide me when I'd get into a fret about something or other, saying, "Don't worry so much! Ninety percent of what you worry about never happens." As I've grown from youth to old man, I've come to realize that she was, of course, right.

I'm not going to stop posting but I think I will throttle back a bit on the Blue Truck here. You guys can check out Google News as easily as I can, and there are specific gay-news links in the sidebar at the right that cover stories pertinent to People Like Us. I never have tried to cover all the news, all the time in this blog. I'll go on posting, as usual, a highly personal selection of tidbits and newsbites that arouse my interest or strike my fancy.

And for the record, I may not agree with every single thought or phrase in the things I post, and there might be more to the story than is reported; but in what I post there's usually some point that I think is worth pondering or adding to the store of one's knowledge. The more you know, the more you grow; and as Socrates famously pointed out, the wise man is the one who knows that he does not know everything.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
--Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata"
That said, here's comedian Trae Crowder in his typically vulgar character, giving his take on the meaning of the election results:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Two Americas, Mapped

The New York Times has generated a couple of fairly large geographic maps showing the difference between the America that voted for Clinton and the one that voted for Trump.  The small snip below is just to whet your appetite, so go look at the real thing..

And in case you are wondering -- I have been surprised to discover that there is no single nationwide authority for the popular vote, which is still being counted in some states by election officials. However, it seems that two private websites that keep running totals of the vote are regarded by the general media as being more or less dependable; here they are:

The Cook Political Report

Dave Leip's Atlas of U. S. Presidential Elections

Not that the vote count really matters at this point; but the stats are there if you want to see them.

Sunday Drive: Bach, Arioso from Cantata No. 156

Still feeling a bit queer and out of sorts?  Here, drink this.  It will do you good.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Today's Chuckle

If you don't get the joke, see the story of Pence's visit to Broadway last night, and the aftermath.

Paul Krugman: Take a Stand

Economist Paul Krugman wrote this short, pithy piece on his New York Times page yesterday:
A lot of people in politics and the media are scrambling to normalize what just happened to us, saying that it will all be OK and we can work with Trump. No, it won’t, and no, we can’t. The next occupant of the White House will be a pathological liar with a loose grip on reality; he is already surrounding himself with racists, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists; his administration will be the most corrupt in America history.

How did this happen? There were multiple causes, but you just can’t ignore the reality that key institutions and their leaders utterly failed. Every news organization that decided, for the sake of ratings, to ignore policy and barely cover Trump scandals while obsessing over Clinton emails, every reporter who, for whatever reason — often sheer pettiness — played up Wikileaks nonsense and talked about how various Clinton stuff “raised questions” and “cast shadows” is complicit in this disaster. And then there’s the FBI: it’s quite reasonable to argue that James Comey, whether it was careerism, cowardice, or something worse, tipped the scales and may have doomed the world.

No, I’m not giving up hope. Maybe, just maybe, the sheer awfulness of what’s happening will sink in. Maybe the backlash will be big enough to constrain Trump from destroying democracy in the next few months, and/or sweep his gang from power in the next few years. But if that’s going to happen, enough people will have to be true patriots, which means taking a stand.

And anyone who doesn’t — who plays along and plays it safe — is betraying America, and mankind.

Mencken on the White House Moron

The canny, acerbic H. L. Mencken wrote many a cutting observation still relevant to our politics and society.  This quotation is making the rounds of the Internet now, but in mangled form; even the usually reliable Snopes.com doesn't get it quite right.  So as a public service, your Head Trucker presents it now in its original form, which you may quote as you please:

First published in an article entitled "Bayard vs Lionheart" in the Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920, and reprinted in On Politics:  A Carnival of Buncombe, edited by Malcolm Moos, the Johns Hopkins University Press, 1956, on page 21.

I tell you these bibliographic details because, children, truth is more important than ever now in this grave new world where so many facts are quite literally at everyone's fingertips -- but so few can be bothered to lift one little finger to find them.

And if you casually, carelessly spread lies around, by whatever means, you have no reason to complain when one day they boomerang back and break your little necks, now do you?

Obama: Your Job

From an interview with David Remmick in the New Yorker - emphasis mine:
How did he speak with his two daughters about the election results, about the post-election reports of racial incidents? “What I say to them is that people are complicated,” Obama told me. “Societies and cultures are really complicated. . . . This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding. And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop. . . . You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.”

Friday, November 18, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend: Beat the Devil

Beat the Devil, a charmingly amateurish film from Athletic Model Guild, presumably filmed back in the good old days when America was Great, demonstrates a much-needed lesson for our day:  we can indeed resist and vanquish the Prince of Darkness because we are stronger together.  Yes we can!

And yes, this is all you'll get to see on Tumblr after January 20th.

Bannon Praises the Power of Darkness

Steve Bannon, chairman of Breitbart News and now the new chief strategist for Trump, praised the Devil out loud this week in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter:
The liberal firewall against Trump was, most of all, the belief that the Republican contender was too disorganized, outlandish, outré and lacking in nuance to run a proper political campaign. That view was only confirmed when Bannon, editor of the outlandish and outré Breitbart News Network, took over the campaign in August. Now Bannon is arguably the most powerful person on the new White House team, embodying more than anyone the liberals' awful existential pain and fury: How did someone so wrong — not just wrong, but inappropriate, unfit and "loathsome," according to The New York Times — get it so spot-on right?

In these dark days for Democrats, Bannon has become the blackest hole.

"Darkness is good," says Bannon, who amid the suits surrounding him at Trump Tower, looks like a graduate student in his T-shirt, open button-down and tatty blue blazer — albeit a 62-year-old graduate student. "Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they" — I believe by "they" he means liberals and the media, already promoting calls for his ouster — "get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing."
It seems to your Head Trucker that "they" could just as well refer to all those happy-clappy, Bible-thumping, oh-so-holy Christianists who pulled the lever for Trump and his greasy gang.
For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

--I Corinthians 11:13-15, NIV

From National Election Pool polling data via Wikipedia.  Click to enlarge.

Senator Warren: We Will Fight Back

I haven't paid much attention to Elizabeth Warren heretofore, but I like her speech on the floor of the Senate yesterday, which she closed by saying, "I am ready to fight on behalf of the millions of Americans you have lied to:  that includes the millions who voted for you and the millions who didn't."  Huzzah!  You go, girl.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jon Stewart on the Election

The former Daily Show host spoke with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning today. An excerpt from the transcript:
“I thought Donald Trump disqualified himself at numerous points. But there is now this idea that anyone who voted for him is -- has to be defined by the worst of his rhetoric,” Stewart said. “Like, there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that I think have incredible qualities who are not afraid of Mexicans, and not afraid of Muslims, and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums. In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look as Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”

Stewart said America wages a fight “against ourselves” because it is not “natural.”

“Natural is tribal. We’re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something that no one’s ever-- that’s what’s exceptional about America and that’s what’s, like, this ain’t easy,” Stewart said. “It’s an incredible thing.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Whisper with Me: Yes We Can

Well, here we are a week into the unthinkable, and the response on the part of everyone left of center, high and low, north and south, young and old, has been one of chilled, paralyzed horror and nightmarish imaginings of the totalitarian future about to begin.  Your Head Trucker, situated a good ways out of the mainstream of modern life, has taken a cold satisfaction in realizing that his own insights and fears are shared by many millions of others. 

Indeed, the breadth of this essentially supine reaction across all sections and levels of enlightened society is a telling and perversely reassuring sign:  we all see through the con man's bluster and brag, we all see the same things tucked up his sleeve or behind his back, we are not fooled.  We could not, cannot all be simultaneously deluded this way, so it must be true:  a fearsome great sinkhole has opened at our feet, and we all stand upon the very brink of a dark, putrid, bottomless abyss.

If you didn't sleep through World Lit, you fellas know that over the entrance to Dante's Hell was inscribed "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." And indeed, the temptation to despair, and to despair utterly, is great. What we all fear is not a temporary interruption in the nation's perennial progress towards a more just society, "a more perfect union" -- as we would if any other Republican had won the election -- no, what we fear is a savage, unmitigated assault on every civil liberty and human right, and indeed on the Constitutional order itself, by a howling, bloodthirsty horde of deplorables bent on cruel vengeance against the imagined crimes of "libruls," encouraged and empowered by a narcissistic tyrant at their head whose only law is whim.

Put another way, we now fear not the ordinary classroom bullies at the back of the room with their spitwads and rubber bands, but the greasy older kids in ripped shirts and tattoos who lurk just beyond the schoolyard gate with bike chains and switchblades, blocking the way home.

With the victory of marriage equality last year, I felt, among other things, a great sense of relief, the relief that comes when a long, hard task is finally done.  I thought then that my work here with this blog -- I know it was only preaching to the choir, just one more background extra in a great crowd scene, of no more consequence in the world than an ant toting a grain of sand, but it often felt like carrying a great boulder uphill those seven weary years -- that my work was pretty much done, and that perhaps I should just let the Blue Truck dwindle down and fade away, its primary raison d'etre accomplished, imagining that a broad, smooth highway of equal rights and dignity for folks like us, and all the other despised, beaten-down people, stretched away to infinity under the sunshine.

But now we are stopped at the edge of the gaping, unbridgeable hole in the ground, with nowhere to go but backwards, the place we just escaped from.  And night is falling.  In the near distance, a coyote howls, and another, and another.  In the sky, no moon, and strange lights.  Where can we go?  What can we do?  We stare at each other wonderingly, characters trapped in a horror movie.  What will happen next, we can hardly bear to think, alone here on the ruined road, defenseless and dismayed, and no help in sight.

At this point in the script, invariably one character with just a little more moxie than the others exclaims, "Here's something we can do!" and picks up a tire iron, a rock, a broken bottle, a piece of rope -- and out of suchlike meager resources proceeds to organize a defense.  And somehow, against all odds, the terrified little band manages to escape to safety thereby.

I wish I were that character.  I wish I had a lucky hunch.  I wish I were as resourceful as Jimmy Stewart, or William Holden, or Steve McQueen.  I wish I knew what to do.  But I don't.  I have no clever plan or brave words for you all, and even my halting prayers falter on my tongue.  For I have read the history books and the tragedies, and I know what comes in the next act, barring some unlikely deus ex machina

And I fully understand now what terrified people felt in other times, other countries, facing other disasters, praying that they might be averted, but then -- "that which they greatly feared came upon them."  The ways of God are strange, and His purposes beyond knowing, we are taught; but for the faithful, no defeat is final, they say.  Cold comfort now, in the gathering mists.  Despair is a great sin, perhaps the greatest of all -- but how to resist it?

I am old now, and tired, effectively disabled and impoverished.  I cannot march in the streets or carry signs or block traffic.  My body and my faith are weak.  And I have no sure answers.  But I offer these thoughts, for whatever worth they have.

In some other movie, there is no one wielding a tire iron, but someone says quietly, "Pull yourselves together.  Let's think this through."  And that is what I say to my truckbuddies and readers now.  For as yet, despite many ugly words and even threats, there is no irreversible action against us.  There is yet time to figure out a plan, a means of resistance, an escape route:  something other than silent, spineless submission, which would betray our proud heritage as Americans, the champions of liberty and justice for all.  We are not entirely overthrown yet -- and perhaps, please God, we never shall be.  For we are also taught that God helps those who help themselves.

For one thing, while the institutions of the Republic still exist and function as they should - that is to say, the courts, the legislatures, the police, and essential services -- we have recourse to them, and we must make quick and effective use of them in every instance of tyranny or terror. We have not come so far and fought so hard, these fifty years, to run from battle now at the first trumpet blast.

We can also organize and strategize at the grassroots all over the country, and discover who among us are those Jimmy Stewarts and other sensible, courageous leaders to point the way ahead.

We can speak the truth and call out every lie.  We can cherish facts and ignore rumors.  We can succor those who struggle, and comfort those who weep.

And even if it be that the first blows do not fall on our heads, we can speak up in defense of those groups and individuals who are attacked, and defend them as best we can -- for it is not a question of "our group" or "their group" but "Americans all."  Remember that tyrants like to pick off their victims one at a time, and meanwhile pit one group against another.  But we must not be lulled into a false sense of security - solidarity is the watchword.

And last, we can keep calm and carry on, living our lives with unbowed heads and remembering that no tyranny lasts forever; indeed, tyrants are somewhat more likely to die sooner than later, as we recall from our history books.  And no blackhearted, jackbooted regime could flourish indefinitely on American soil, watered long since by the blood of patriots. Less than a quarter of the adult population voted for this new order, and some of them may soon repent their choice; we may feel friendless and alone, but we are not.  Our friends and allies are legion, and will perhaps be found even in the most unlikely places.

It may be that this generation of Americans, red and yellow, black and white, male and female, straight and gay, once again has a mysterious rendezvous with destiny.  Nor shall we turn from the challenge, in whatever form it takes, I believe.  We are Americans, born to freedom and not slavery.  We will not go quietly to the slaughter.

We are not as strong, as canny, as resourceful as our forefathers, perhaps, for the abundant comforts and distractions of modern life have softened us all -- but what our forebears were, we can learn to be once again, as necessity requires.  The other side may have the guns - but we have our wits, and the right on our side, and the will to endure, and to prevail. 

Tell me, brothers, we are not so soft that even at this late hour we can't cowboy up to defend ourselves and our liberties and our rights with wit and grit, by one means or another. Tell me again that love wins out and conquers all. Tell me, friends, that no matter how dark the night, we can find a path to safety and freedom together.

It's okay to be afraid.  I am too.  So give me your hands and say it, whisper it with me, guys, as we huddle here in the headlights that pierce the night air:  Yes we can.  Yes we can.  Yes we can.

Can't we? 

Today's Chuckle

"Just one booby trap." LMAO.

Apparently these prankster-Biden quips are a thing now - see more at The Guardian.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Today's Quotes

David Chappelle on Saturday Night Live, November 12, 2016:
We’ve elected an internet troll as our president.

Joyce Carol Oates in The Guardian, November 12, 2016:
Yes, it is likely that misogyny played a negative role, to a degree – but if Clinton had been strongly in favour of guns and closed borders, these voters would have voted for her regardless of gender, as many of them would probably have voted for Sarah Palin, a rightwing favourite whose gender has never disadvantaged her.

From The Atlantic, November 11, 2016, a white, well-educated veteran on why he voted for Trump:
Maybe Trump won’t do a thing to change or fix any of it. Hillary definitely would not have changed any of it. So I voted for the monkey wrench—the middle finger—the wrecking ball.
I do not have the time, energy, or opportunity to march through downtown and chant vulgarities or spray paint buildings or set cop cars on fire. So I protest—and use my voice—with a ballot.
Go ahead: Label me a racist, a bigot, a hate-filled misogynistic, an uneducated redneck. But I turned down Yale, motherfuckers; I ain’t who you think I am. And while I love grits and pulled pork barbecue and collard greens and cold beer in a bottle, I also love my neighbors of all colors, especially if they can cook. I want a synagogue, a church, and a mosque on Main St. all in a row, getting along and following the golden rule. And we mostly do.
But I have grown tired. I admit, I am tired of arguing with crazy. . . .
Crazy is treating the same symptoms and never the disease.
Here’s the recipe for success and comfort in modern America: Stay in school, do your best, stay away from drugs, don’t have kids until you are no longer a kid, don’t break the law. You might be a pipe-fitter or a welder, a truck driver or a rapper. You might sell insurance, teach school, sell homes, or pave roads. You might become a chef or a mechanic, work with computers or take care of people in a nursing home. You will be able to afford Netflix, have food on the table, pay the rent or own a home, buy a car that runs, not get shot by the police, and probably find some happiness. Nobody will hate you because you’re a girl, or a person of color, or gay or straight, or speak with an accent. We just won’t.

Masha Gessen, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” in the New York Review of Books, November 10, 2016:
But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.
I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now: . . .

Andrew Sullivan, “America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny,” New York Magazine, May 1, 2016:
For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome. This is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as “political correctness” run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.

Much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well. A struggling white man in the heartland is now told to “check his privilege” by students at Ivy League colleges. Even if you agree that the privilege exists, it’s hard not to empathize with the object of this disdain. These working-class communities, already alienated, hear — how can they not? — the glib and easy dismissals of “white straight men” as the ultimate source of all our woes. They smell the condescension and the broad generalizations about them — all of which would be repellent if directed at racial minorities — and see themselves, in Hoffer’s words, “disinherited and injured by an unjust order of things.”

And so they wait, and they steam, and they lash out. This was part of the emotional force of the tea party: not just the advancement of racial minorities, gays, and women but the simultaneous demonization of the white working-class world, its culture and way of life. Obama never intended this, but he became a symbol to many of this cultural marginalization. The Black Lives Matter left stoked the fires still further; so did the gay left, for whom the word magnanimity seems unknown, even in the wake of stunning successes. . . .

And what’s notable about Trump’s supporters is precisely what one would expect from members of a mass movement: their intense loyalty. Trump is their man, however inarticulate they are when explaining why. He’s tough, he’s real, and they’ve got his back, especially when he is attacked by all the people they have come to despise: liberal Democrats and traditional Republicans. At rallies, whenever a protester is hauled out, you can almost sense the rising rage of the collective identity venting itself against a lone dissenter and finding a catharsis of sorts in the brute force a mob can inflict on an individual. Trump tells the crowd he’d like to punch a protester in the face or have him carried out on a stretcher. No modern politician who has come this close to the presidency has championed violence in this way. It would be disqualifying if our hyper¬democracy hadn’t already abolished disqualifications.

And while a critical element of 20th-century fascism — its organized street violence — is missing, you can begin to see it in embryonic form. The phalanx of bodyguards around Trump grows daily; plainclothes bouncers in the crowds have emerged as pseudo-cops to contain the incipient unrest his candidacy will only continue to provoke; supporters have attacked hecklers with sometimes stunning ferocity. Every time Trump legitimizes potential violence by his supporters by saying it comes from a love of country, he sows the seeds for serious civil unrest.

Trump celebrates torture — the one true love of tyrants everywhere — not because it allegedly produces intelligence but because it has a demonstration effect. At his rallies he has recounted the mythical acts of one General John J. Pershing when confronted with an alleged outbreak of Islamist terrorism in the Philippines. Pershing, in Trump’s telling, lines up 50 Muslim prisoners, swishes a series of bullets in the corpses of freshly slaughtered pigs, and orders his men to put those bullets in their rifles and kill 49 of the captured Muslim men. He spares one captive solely so he can go back and tell his friends. End of the terrorism problem. 
In some ways, this story contains all the elements of Trump’s core appeal. The vexing problem of tackling jihadist terror? Torture and murder enough terrorists and they will simply go away. The complicated issue of undocumented workers, drawn by jobs many Americans won’t take? Deport every single one of them and build a wall to stop the rest. Fuck political correctness. As one of his supporters told an obtuse reporter at a rally when asked if he supported Trump: “Hell yeah! He’s no-bullshit. All balls. Fuck you all balls. That’s what I’m about.” And therein lies the appeal of tyrants from the beginning of time. Fuck you all balls. Irrationality with muscle.

The racial aspect of this is also unmissable. When the enemy within is Mexican or Muslim, and your ranks are extremely white, you set up a rubric for a racial conflict. And what’s truly terrifying about Trump is that he does not seem to shrink from such a prospect; he relishes it.

For, like all tyrants, he is utterly lacking in self-control. Sleeping a handful of hours a night, impulsively tweeting in the early hours, improvising madly on subjects he knows nothing about, Trump rants and raves as he surfs an entirely reactive media landscape. Once again, Plato had his temperament down: A tyrant is a man “not having control of himself [who] attempts to rule others”; a man flooded with fear and love and passion, while having little or no ability to restrain or moderate them; a “real slave to the greatest fawning,” a man who “throughout his entire life ... is full of fear, overflowing with convulsions and pains.” Sound familiar? Trump is as mercurial and as unpredictable and as emotional as the daily Twitter stream. And we are contemplating giving him access to the nuclear codes.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on CNN, Sunday morning, November 13, 2016:
We are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump's not planning on that.

Donald J. Trump, 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl, Sunday evening, November 13, 2016:
What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally. After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that you’re talking about who are terrific people, they’re terrific people but we are gonna make a determination at that . . . .
Don’t be afraid. We are going to bring our country back. But certainly, don’t be afraid.

Sunday Drive: Abide with Me

A favorite hymn of your Head Trucker's, as performed by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The End of the World (As We Know It)

From this week's issue of Germany's Der Spiegel, an excerpt:
But what kind of a president will Donald Trump really be? In the past, he has also voiced approval of more liberal abortion laws and he once demanded health insurance for all Americans himself. Over the years, he has held all manner of contradictory opinions on many different political issues, sometimes at the same time.

Those who think they know what Donald Trump will do as president are likely overestimating their own intelligence. Trump will be the most unpredictable president that America has ever had. That holds true of his thin-skinned personality just as it does for his political positions. Anything, really anything, is possible. And that is the most disturbing thing.

It is possible that Trump will turn out to be the US version of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez -- that he will appease and divert Americans while at the same time dramatically eroding the country's institutions and politicizing the judiciary, the CIA and the FBI. And that he, as he indicated he would, will allow for the return of torture. And that he will build the promised wall on the border to Mexico, impede people from Muslim countries from coming to the US, turn up the volume on bigotry and use the presidency to personally enrich himself. It could mean the end of NATO -- but it could also be that his bromance with Putin will cool and turn hostile.

It is equally possible, though, that Trump will turn over the governing of the country to experienced Republican politicians and will preside over proceedings as a kind of CEO. It is possible that he will build his wall as a sop to his supporters but will quickly realize that his announced intention to deport 11 million illegal immigrants makes no economic sense. It is possible that he will service the yearnings for a resurgent white identity primarily with rhetoric, that he will seek to stimulate the economy with billions in investments and that his foreign policy will simply be a continuation of the American withdrawal that began under Obama.

We simply don't know. The only thing we know -- from his statements, his campaign and his personality -- is that he will be a president unlike any that has come before.

The Loser One! We Should Have a Revolution!

This election is a total sham and a travesty.  We are not a democracy!
Such haunting words: Donald Trump's tweets on Election Night, 2012, when it seemed that Obama had lost the popular vote to Romney (in fact, as it turned out Obama won 5 million more votes than his opponent).

Click to enlarge.

My trucklady friend June at The Wounded Bird beat me to this already-planned post today; must be telepathy between kindred spirits.

Today's Quote

From a "subway therapy" DIY art installation in New York City;
see a gallery of other Post-it notes at The Guardian.

Friday, November 11, 2016

100 Million Americans Did Not Vote - Why?

The brown-nosing and sucking-up begins:
People magazine glorifies Trump on the cover of its next issue.
(Do I really have to point out the divine-halo effect for you guys?)
A summary of the popular and electoral votes from Wikipedia.

Some quick stats for you all to chew on: Nationwide turnout was, as of yesterday's estimates, only 56.9 percent of eligible voters (U.S. citizens over age 18), or by my calculation, 65.8 percent of registered voters. So about a third of the registered electorate just sat out the election, which is pretty much what has happened in every presidential election for the last fifty years.

Let me make the point one more time, for clarity:  out of the 220 million-plus Americans who are old enough to vote, 60 million and a smidgeon voted for Clinton, and 60 million and a speck voted for Trump, and about 100 million did not vote at all.  That is the staggering fact.

If 80 or 90 percent had voted, would we still be living in the nightmare of a Trump victory today? I can't answer that, but you all can meditate on the figures and links below if you can stand to.

Voting-age population characteristics from the United States Census Bureau,
posted on their website Oct. 28, 2016.  Click to enlarge.

Vox:  Trump was elected by a little more than a quarter of eligible voters

Heavy: Over 90 Million Eligible Voters Didn’t Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election

Politico: America hits new landmark: 200 million registered voters

United States Elections Project: 2016 November General Election Turnout Rates, by states

The American Presidency Project: Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections, 1828 - 2012

Pew Research Center: Behind Trump’s victory: Divisions by race, gender, education

Pew Research Center: How the faithful voted: A preliminary 2016 analysis

(This last link has some very interesting items:  60 percent of white Catholic voters checked the box for Trump, as did 24 percent of Jewish voters.  Why, why, why?)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Teach Your Children Well

Vinson Cunningham in the New Yorker:
In the hours since voters chose Trump to serve as our country’s forty-fifth President, I’ve thought about those students often — perhaps because this torturous election season was, among other things, a sharp, sudden reminder of just how briefly a political “era” lasts in America. We have often, over the past eight years, congratulated ourselves for the fact that an entire generation of American children will take for granted that a figure like President Obama — black, brilliant, wholesome, dignified, cool — can ascend to the loftiest peaks of our national life. Trump’s admission into a club that includes Washington and Lincoln, both Roosevelts, and, yes, Obama promises to teach the same generation a different lesson altogether. Certainly, we seem to have ratified the darkest of their suspicions: that our politics are a joke; that American democracy is a game fit for reality-TV contestants; that their elders, however well-intentioned, are feckless, or fools.

Obama had the younger generation in mind yesterday afternoon, when he stood in the Rose Garden and delivered a short speech on the election results. “To the young people who got into politics for the first time and may be disappointed by the results, I just want you to know, you have to stay encouraged,” he said, toward the end of his remarks. “Don’t get cynical, don’t ever think you can’t make a difference.” This was of a piece with much of Obama’s rhetoric this year; his general-election exertions on Hillary Clinton’s behalf often doubled as civics lessons in miniature. There were tactical reasons for this, of course: the Democrats’ strategy depended, in large part, on describing the distance that lay between Trump’s trashy ethos and the norms of the democracy that he hoped to lead. . . .

Frustrations notwithstanding, Obama was characteristically graceful and mature in the Rose Garden. He had called the President-elect, he said. He’d meet with him to insure a smooth transition. He even made a joke or two. After a year spent pointing out Trump’s unbelievable unfitness for the Presidency, he tried to make the election result seem continuous with the patterns of American progress. “You know, the path that this country has taken has never been a straight line,” he said. “We zig and zag and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back, and that’s O.K.”

This was all appropriate. It was time, after all, for the President to model the ideals for which he’d so strenuously — and, in the end, it must be said, ineffectually — argued. It’s up to the rest of us, however, never to allow Trump’s rise to seem O.K. A morning that arrives with the huckster strolling into the Oval Office should always strike us — and the kids who already expect so little of us — as an instance of the absurd. This was the most powerful impression of Obama’s speech: one tried, stupefied, to imagine Trump behind that lectern, following the class act that was Obama.

Also worth a glance:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mourning in America

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

--Emily Dickinson

It's like a death in the family, isn't it?  First the brutal shock of the news, the unbearable, inescapable fact - then the cold, gray, leaden feeling that takes away all your strength, leaving you stunned, and groping for words.  But words won't come.

Hillary's gracious concession speech:

The sickening nationwide results, as of noon today.  Click to enlarge.

Garrison Keilor:
Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones, and they will not like what happens next. . . .

We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long, brisk walk and smell the roses. . . .

Don’t be cruel. Elvis said it, and it’s true. We all experienced cruelty back in our playground days — boys who beat up on the timid, girls who made fun of the homely and naive — and most of us, to our shame, went along with it, afraid to defend the victims lest we become one of them. But by your 20s, you should be done with cruelty. Mr. Trump was the cruelest candidate since George Wallace. How he won on fear and bile is for political pathologists to study. The country is already tired of his noise, even his own voters. He is likely to become the most intensely disliked president since Hoover. His children will carry the burden of his name. He will never be happy in his own skin. But the damage he will do to our country — who knows? His supporters voted for change, and boy, are they going to get it.

In an optimistic mood, President Obama addressed the nation from the Rose Garden shortly after noon today:

This New York Times map plots the election results by counties:

Frank Bruni:
The party had a night so miserable that its leaders cannot chalk it up to the Russians or to James Comey, though there will be plenty of talk about that, much of it warranted. They had a gorgeous chance to retake their Senate majority, and not only did they fail to do so, but Democratic candidates who were thought to be in tight races lost by significant margins.

Clinton struggled more than had been predicted in the so-called Rust Belt — states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — in yet another illustration of how disaffected working-class white men had become and how estranged from a new economy and a new age they felt.

Their anger was the story of the primaries, the fuel not just for Trump’s campaign but for Bernie Sanders’s as well. And it manifested itself in the general election. Both parties are going to have to reckon with it.

And they should. If this were all that Trump had shown us, we’d owe him our thanks.

But there are darker implications here, too. After all the lies he told, all the fantasy he indulged in, all the hate he spewed and all the divisions he sharpened, he was rewarded with the highest office in the land. What does that portend for the politics of the next few years, for the kinds of congressional candidates we’ll see in 2018, for the presidential race of 2020?

I can’t bear to think about the conflagrations to come.

The NYT summary of exit polls shows that the president-elect got 14 percent of the LGBT vote:

Thomas L. Friedman:
Before I lay out all my fears, is there any silver lining to be found in this vote? I’ve been searching for hours, and the only one I can find is this: I don’t think Trump was truly committed to a single word or policy he offered during the campaign, except one phrase: “I want to win.”

But Donald Trump cannot be a winner unless he undergoes a radical change in personality and politics and becomes everything he was not in this campaign. He has to become a healer instead of a divider; a compulsive truth-teller rather than a compulsive liar; someone ready to study problems and make decisions based on evidence, not someone who just shoots from the hip; someone who tells people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear; and someone who appreciates that an interdependent world can thrive only on win-win relationships, not zero-sum ones.

I can only hope that he does. Because if he doesn’t, all of you who voted for him — overlooking all of his obvious flaws — because you wanted radical, disruptive change, well, you’re going to get it. . . .

Unlike the Republican Party for the last eight years, I am not going to try to make my president fail. If he fails, we all fail. So yes, I will hope that a better man emerges than we saw in this campaign.

But at the moment I am in anguish, frightened for my country and for our unity. And for the first time, I feel homeless in America.

David Remnick:
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve. . . .

All along, Trump seemed like a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right. That he has prevailed, that he has won this election, is a crushing blow to the spirit; it is an event that will likely cast the country into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet imagine. That the electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms, is a fact that will lead, inevitably, to all manner of national decline and suffering. . . .

The commentators, in their attempt to normalize this tragedy, will also find ways to discount the bumbling and destructive behavior of the F.B.I., the malign interference of Russian intelligence, the free pass—the hours of uninterrupted, unmediated coverage of his rallies—provided to Trump by cable television, particularly in the early months of his campaign. We will be asked to count on the stability of American institutions, the tendency of even the most radical politicians to rein themselves in when admitted to office. Liberals will be admonished as smug, disconnected from suffering, as if so many Democratic voters were unacquainted with poverty, struggle, and misfortune. There is no reason to believe this palaver. There is no reason to believe that Trump and his band of associates—Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, and, yes, Paul Ryan—are in any mood to govern as Republicans within the traditional boundaries of decency. Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment. Fascism is not our future—it cannot be; we cannot allow it to be so—but this is surely the way fascism can begin.

As of 5 p.m. today, it appeared from this NYT map that Clinton had edged out a bare majority in the popular vote. Click to enlarge.  

Readers in other lands, before you curse and castigate "Americans" for whatever may befall your countries in time to come, please do remember that more than half of us did NOT will this catastrophe upon the world, and in fact did all we could to prevent it.

And anonymous commenter rgfrw from Sarasota, Florida, sums it all up nicely:
The Republicans now own the country lock, stock and barrel. The own the white House, the Senate and the House. They will soon own the Supreme Court again. They own a majority of Statehouses & Governer's Mansions. If thing go wrong I don't want to hear any "it's all the fault of the liberals."

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