Mourning Sickness

Well, the retching continues. More violently than before, thanks to the racists and other haters, and those who refuse to rebuke them. And thanks to those who wouldn’t let peaceful demonstrations remain peaceful.

As our leaders on the right are pretending this is a mandate for conservative policies and not just the result of a technicality of law, some of their supporters are calling this God’s will. (Was it also God’s will when Barack Obama was elected back in 2008? Or did God decide to sit that one out in favor of working on his golf game?)

Yep. As if it isn’t enough that we will now be represented on the world stage by a man thinks he’s above the law, we must also contend with those who would have you believe that God wanted a womanizing sexual predator to lead the United States of America.


And yet, I can’t say I’m surprised. These are the same people, after all, who bought the ultra right wing lies that Barack Obama is a Muslim who was born in Kenya, would invoke Sharia law and destroy the nation. I wonder if they’re afraid he still has time to do all that? I wonder how many of them are still waiting?

Instead of mockery, I suppose what I should be expressing is sympathy. These people got used by Donald Trump and the Republican establishment, after all, who also used each other. Trump to worm his way into the White House, and the Republicans to bring their party back to power. Talk about an unholy alliance.

I should be sympathetic because, not only did they get used, but also because I know these gullible pawns will not be any better off under Donald Trump than they have been under any other Republican administration. Not to “catastrophize” too much, but it is much more likely that they will get worse. But they did it to themselves, so I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over it.

What I am losing sleep over, on the other hand, is what’s going to happen to all the people Trump threw under the bus on his way to victory. Because these folks did NOT bring this upon themselves, and so they do NOT have themselves to blame.

Because, on top of our other national challenges, we now have folks in full KKK regalia walking up and down the streets in broad daylight with not an ounce of fear that they’ll be asked to leave, much less harmed, and groups of kids shouting “white power” at passersby, while non-Christians, people of color, and gay, lesbian and trans people are being assaulted and threatened, and wondering whether it’s safe to go about their daily lives.

But as much as I want to, I can’t place the blame entirely on the gullible. After all, by themselves they could not have elected Donald Trump. No, I blame all the regular, reasonable, and otherwise decent people who might never attack a person of color or mistreat someone because of their faith or sexual identity, but who would stand by and let it happen. They’re the ones who brought it home for Mr. Trump.

They COULD have nominated someone who promised to be tough on ISIS without inciting violence against Muslims. They COULD have elected someone with a genuine interest in immigration reform without disparaging Latinos. They COULD have elected someone who promised to safeguard the right to bear arms but who would also have the guts to say we should do what we can to keep them out of the hands of the mentally unstable. They COULD have elected someone who would look us in the eye and admit that the lack of good paying manufacturing jobs in the US is the result of increased automation and globalization, and not due to immigrant and minority laborerers.

But no.

Instead of electing someone who would both enact policies that conservatives can support AND try to bring the country together, they elected someone who will stand by and let the haters tear us apart. Instead of someone who would keep us ALL safe, they went with someone whose running mate has historically opposed legal protections for women, minorities, gays, lesbians, and trans people, and who got elected by promoting the sexism, racism, and hatred that makes those protections necessary.

Instead of electing someone who would shut down the racists and xenophobes in their party, they chose one who empowered them. Instead of electing someone who would condemn sexism and sexual assault, they elected someone who called his own daughter a “nice piece of ass” and admits to having assaulted women himself and gotten away with it because of his fame. Instead of electing someone who would encourage folks to recognize the rights of all citizens to live, love, and worship as they please, they chose someone who panders to white supremacists, and encourages hatred against non-Christians.

If all that wasn’t part of their plan, now is their chance to say so. Now is their chance to get out there and tell their non-Christian, non-white, non-hetero neighbors that they will support and defend them as they would their own kind. Now is their chance to tell the racists and xenophobes, by their words and actions, that although they backed the same candidate, they will not stand by and allow them to threaten or harm anyone. And now is their chance to show, by their words and actions, that although they are against abortion, they WILL do everything they can to change the culture of rape in this society and that sexual predators—and NOT just those who prey on children—will be prosecuted and jailed. Period.

Cue the crickets.

Because that’s not even close to what’s happening. Instead of reassuring us, they’re silent. And those who aren’t silent are gloating, calling us sore losers, and telling us to shut up. As if this was just a soccer game and all that’s at stake is a conference championship.

Very democratic of them, by the way. And very convenient given everything that’s been said about Barack Obama since 2008.

But, again, I’m sickened but not surprised.

Because this is par for the course. Because instead of offering comfort and looking for real solutions to the problem of gun violence in the wake of mass shootings, they said only “don’t take away my guns.” Instead of demanding better training for members of law enforcement so that officers could learn how to prevent tense situations from escalating and avoid shooting unarmed citizens, they called US cop haters. And because, when Trump and others were accusing Barack Obama of treason and questioning his citizenship, instead of calling them out or telling them to shut up, they looked at their shoes and pretended not to hear.

And their silence speaks volumes.

By their vote and by their silence in the face of the racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic acts committed by their fellow Trump supporters they have made it clear that they were willing to win at any cost. By their vote and their silence, they have made it clear to Latinos, Muslims, African-Americans, the poor, and members of the LGBTQ community that they are not only UNWORTHY of their concern and compassion, but also EXPENDABLE. By their vote and by their silence they have made it crystal clear to the KKK and other hate groups that they will not stand in their way. And by telling us to get over it, and to get behind this president—after most of them flat out REFUSED to get behind President Obama and accused him of treason—they prove that we were right to fear them.

And now they want to write us off as just a bunch of sore losers.

As if they all just turned around and smiled after the elections in 2008 and 2012 and said, “Good game, guys. And well done.” Or “Well, you just won fair and square, Mr. Obama, so let’s all roll up our sleeves and get ‘er done.”

As if their hands are clean. As if they didn’t just sell us down the river. As if no one has anything to fear.

But here’s the funny part—and there should be a funny part; this is a humor column, after all: they’re not even going get everything this snake oil dealer sold them. Because not even one week into this thing Trump is walking back on almost every single one of the promises he made to his faithful followers.

Remember the wall he said he would build? It’s now being scaled back to a few fences in a few “key places.” Of course, many of us who are opposed to a wall knew it probably wouldn’t happen and not just because we knew Trump couldn’t be trusted. Fact is, a wall running the length of our southern border would have been extremely expensive to build and the Republican establishment wouldn’t have approved that kind of money. Especially not in the first 100 days. Budget cycles alone would have prevented that. And especially not after grumbling about the cost of Obamacare. But some folks bought it hook, line, and sinker.

Now you gotta admit, that’s kinda funny.

And remember the 11 million illegal aliens he vowed to deport? That’s being scaled back to 2 or 3 million, to include known “criminals” and “gang members.” Now I’m all for deporting criminals (provided they get due process, of course) but since all “illegal aliens” are technically criminals in the eyes of most conservatives, why not all 11 million? Could it be that it’s even harder for rich hoteliers and other big businesses to make a profit without employing undocumented workers than it is to get money to build a wall along the entire length of our southern border? Perhaps a better question is, did he ever intend to deport 11 million in the first place? Or was he just playing to his base?

He’s a real card, that Trump.

And remember the promise to immediately repeal Obamacare? That one seems pretty iffy now too. A few days ago Trump said he would scrap most of it but keep key provisions, like protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Then he changed his mind. I guess someone told him how the law worked and that a partial repeal wasn’t an option. So now the plan, courtesy of House Speaker Paul Ryan, is to replace it with “something else.” He won’t say much more than that other than it will be “better and less expensive.” I suppose by the time they get done massaging the numbers and spinning the facts, no matter what it costs or how it works, they will describe it officially as “better” and “less expensive.” And those who voted for this administration will believe it without reading any of it for themselves. Now isn’t that hilarious?

It might be if we were talking about, say, banana peels or rubber chickens instead of health care. Who doesn’t want a better banana peel, after all? Or a less expensive rubber chicken?

If you’re still with me, and I hope you are, you may be wondering: Did Mr. Trump make these promises knowing he could not fulfill them? Or did he make them without any intention of fulfilling them?

It’s an important distinction. Because if he made promises that he KNEW could not legally be fulfilled, that makes him a con man. And if he made promises that he DID NOT KNOW he couldn’t fulfill, he’s either an idiot, which is unlikely, or a slacker, which is worse. Because (1) a man of Trump’s means would have ample opportunity to prepare for the job, and given his wealth and other resources, his ignorance would be willful and deliberate; and (2) America and our allies deserve someone who cares enough about the job, this country, and our place in the world to know what he’s doing, and to do it to the best of his ability.

As you can probably tell, none of this is a joke to me. In fact, I find it all quite horrifying and sickening. Especially when I hear about Trump operatives like Kris Kobach and Carl Higbie discussing the creation of Muslim registries and citing legal and historical precedent that may make the idea easier for the public to swallow.

Because while Trump and his allies in what he once called “the swamp” eagerly rub their hands together and contemplate the spoils that this victory places at their, ahem, disposal, the rest of us are stuck with the fallout.

Now THAT’S funny.

So funny, I forget to laugh.


Throw Up Thursday

If you’re a progressive minded, compassionate human being, you likely woke up on November 9, 2016 to a nightmare of epic proportions.

If you’re a progressive minded, compassionate human being with election-anxiety-induced insomnia, like me, you likely never went to bed. In that case, you didn’t wake up to a nightmare because you never went to sleep, and instead watched the nightmare unfold, growing sicker and sicker with every change to the electoral map.

(If you’re not a progressive minded, compassionate human being, you probably won’t bother to read the rest, so have a splendid day : ))

First came the headaches. Then the blurred vision, the sweating, and the loss of appetite, as you realized that more than 58 million of your fellow Americans elected a president who is not only sexist, racist, and narcissistic, but also impulsive, repulsive, undignified and rude.

If I hadn’t already been out of bed, I don’t think I could have found the strength to get up that morning. Thoughts of suicide began to swirl around in my head, as I wondered what the next four years would be like, and whether I wanted to be around to witness the carnage.

Do I want to be around to watch the Republicans in the House and Senate dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and leave millions of people without access to basic health care, I asked myself. Do I want to be around to see my friends, neighbors, and family members go without treatment because the insurance companies will again be allowed to cancel policies for any reason and deny people coverage for preexisting conditions?

Do I want to be around to watch as our duly elected representatives proudly and mercilessly gut Social Security, slash education spending, and eliminate environmental protections while earning salaries, pensions, and benefits they don’t really deserve since they barely show up to work? Do I want to be around to see them roll back the laws that protect women, minorities, Muslims, and LGBTQ people from hatred and ignorance? Do I want to be around to watch them cast aside our veterans who are suffering both physically and mentally?

Do I want to see what will have become of this country afterward? After they’ve accomplished all their stated goals AND redrawn all the congressional districts to ensure their continued power. After they’ve rewritten all the tax laws to guarantee their own continued prosperity while doing everything else to ensure that no one born to the underclass has even the slightest chance of escaping poverty?

And today came the nausea as people claiming support for Trump launched attacks on innocent people simply because they could. Emboldened by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and the right’s refusal to castigate the crazies in their party, people claiming support for Trump are assaulting Muslims on college campuses while their children attack their Hispanic classmates in elementary schools. So this is how we make America great again? Bravo.

If this is how it’s going to be you can keep your greatness, thank you very much. I don’t want it.

Nor do I want to hear anything more about the election or the upcoming inauguration. Unless it’s breaking news about a catastrophic meteor strike that has wiped out D.C., sparing only Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and all the innocents among them, I don’t need anyone to tell me about it even after it’s over. Keep it to yourself. Friends don’t make friends want to slit their wrists, and all that.

Meanwhile, if there is anything else you want to talk about, I’ll be over here in my own little corner of Walker’s Hell, writing, grieving, and heaving, and waiting for a miracle cure.

Road Trippin’ 2015: Three Marketeers

Of all the ways a body can spend a Saturday, shopping would rank among my least favorite. Of all the ways a body can spend ANY day of the week, in fact, shopping would rank among my least favorite. To belabor the point, if I were to create a list of the ways I would deliberately and knowingly pass a few free hours, shopping would come in second from the bottom followed only by having handfuls of my hair ripped forcibly from my head. That assumes, of course, that one has already excluded NASCAR events, golfing, and reality TV from the list, and that neither Donald Trump nor Sarah Palin is speaking into a microphone somewhere.

And yet, there we were—David, LaVon, and I—on the morning of August 15th, strolling  from booth to booth, and later store to store, through the fog and drizzle in downtown Anchorage. We could have been on a boat watching dolphins and whales. Or on a ferry to Kodiak Island to watch grizzlies feasting on salmon. Or on a train bound for Whitter followed by a 26 glacier cruise. But no.

Clad in jeans and rain gear, and sporting hair that looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, I was taking one for the team. Primarily because the Jarhead loves markets and the market is only open on Saturdays, but also because it’s hard to see glaciers—much less whales and wildlife—through the fog and rain. And because, in that weather, my hair would have been a nightmare anyway.

So, despite the cold wet weather—which the Jarhead hates, though evidently not as much as he hates NOT shopping—we went shopping. Or, more accurately, we went window shopping. Because, although the Jarhead enjoys shopping, he enjoys the IDEA of shopping more, since it’s generally less expensive, and you never regret THINKING about spending your hard earned cash on home grown produce, Inuit folk art, or a new leather jacket.

Well, almost never. One notable exception occurred during our first trip to Anchorage and the Saturday market in 2005. It was June and one of the first booths we approached was offering fresh morels. The Jarhead is very fond of the elusive fungi, so he was tickled at the prospect of taking some home.

Not wanting to carry them around all day, however—especially if they could be purchased for a lower price at another booth—he decided to skip buying them on our first go around and to pick up a pound or two on our way back to the car.  Apparently he misjudged just how popular they would be among his fellow marketgoers, however, because by the time we finished our meander through the market there were no more morels to be found.

No such sorrow would befall us this time around, however. Ever the type to learn from his mistakes, the Jarhead vowed not to miss his next opportunity to take home the tasty treat. Fortunately there was no one selling morels in mid-August, or who knows how many duffle bags we would have had to borrow from LaVon in order to carry the precious cargo back to Wisconsin!

As it was, we had to borrow at least one bag to carry all the souvenirs we had purchased while we were there. Among these was a cribbage board that we bought as a gift for El Noble and unwittingly swiped right out from under the nose of a fellow Wisconsinite. Fashioned from an elk antler, the board measured over twenty-four inches long, and was perfect in terms of shape, color, and condition. We knew it would make a great conversation piece as well as a wonderful addition to El Noble’s man cave—provided we could get it home without crushing it or snapping off one of the spikes.

Little did we know—until we had already paid for it that is—that another customer had seen the item earlier, and had decided to come back to purchase it. And so we were a bit uncomfortable when, as the clerk was bagging it, a man approached the counter and asked about the item, which had been on display on the far table, only to learn it had just been purchased by the guy standing next to him. Visibly irked, he man turned to the Jarhead and offered to buy it from him. When the Jarhead declined, the man then looked him up and down and asked him where he was from.

Had it been me, I would have said “Birmingham” and made a few other remarks in a very convincing British accent in the hope of avoiding death or dismemberment. The Jarhead, however, opted to go the riskier route of responding truthfully and shaking the dude’s hand. That was the sporting thing to do, I suppose, since he admitted to being a fellow cheese head, but I wasn’t so sure—especially when, a few minutes later, after accepting the Jarhead’s apology, the guy nodded and said, “That’s okay. I know where you live.”

And people wonder why I’m so skittish.

Anyway, the rest of the day went about as smoothly as it could have given the weather. The Jarhead was glad he hadn’t hesitated on the cribbage board the way he’d hesitated on the morels ten years ago, and I was glad he hadn’t mentioned our last name or our street address to anyone who might want to find us.

A couple hours later, after trudging up and down the streets of Anchorage looking at various fur and leather items whose beauty and prices took my breath away, we enjoyed a meal at a popular local watering hole and then headed back to the house to freshen up. That evening we dined with a couple of LaVon’s friends, and then hit the sack to rest and recover in preparation for our very first adventure into Alaska’s interior!