Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Meme That Could Save Us All

Well, Pink Flag Joe
He does the flambo twist
With the finger motions
That you can't resist
~~ "P.F.J." by Ric Ocasek
Yeah, it’s been a rough week. I’m still vacillating between disgust, horror, anger, and other feelings that I’m not even sure there is a name for.

Music has helped. I’m listening to a lot of Green Day because they have the right mix of rage and sweetness. “The Reflex” came on the radio one day when I was in the shower and I belted it out at the top of my lungs. Thanks, Duran Duran...I needed that! A couple of good movies, a lot of reading, a Notre Dame basketball game today, and a late lunch/early dinner with Shane and Matt. We had a chance to talk about things and even had some laughs. Margaritas and beer helped! Seriously, there is not enough booze in the world right now.

The personal healing has begun, in other words. We are in the situation we are in and we go forward from here. That doesn’t mean we’re going to shut up about it. Far from it.

But what has brightened my world more than anything is all the Joe Biden memes that are making their way around the Interwebs. (Click on photos to embiggen.) I don’t know exactly what it is about them that delights me so much. Is it putting these silly words into VP Biden’s and President Obama’s mouths? Is it the sheer goodness and coolness of Joe Biden? Is it the earnestness of Joe and the serious Obama trying to calm him down? I have no idea, but there is something so goofy and endearing about the memes that it totally eases the pain in my guts. It feels good to laugh.

The Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. It’s been way too much of the latter this week so I’m happy to get a little more of the former.

Here is a little more Biden joy.

And here is a Joe song. Imma miss him.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

American Idiot

Yes, I feel quite a letdown today, but the sun came up, and we have beer in the fridge.

~~ Ken

I had a quiet day at home as I reflected on and processed what happened Tuesday night.

Boy, I sure called that one wrong, didn’t I? I take zero pleasure in the fact that it wasn’t just me. Almost everyone was wrong about it—the pollsters and the pundits—and they get paid to do that stuff!

To say that I am heartsick doesn’t do it justice. I am also disgusted, appalled, and embarrassed. What might be the biggest blow is that my eternal optimism and unwavering belief in the innate goodness of humanity has been shaken. I truly did believe that we would find our better angels.

But we didn’t. Some of us did. But not enough.

I’ve seen enough recrimination to last a lifetime today. Everyone wants to lay blame. I’m not going to target any particular group of people or any age group. We failed collectively as a country. We allowed our paranoia and fear and hatred to cloud our reason and judgment. Many of us did our part by contributing and voting and advocating for reason. But this didn’t happen overnight. The Republican party has been fomenting this unrest and anger for years, and this is the culmination of that effort. Should we have made more of an effort to speak out long before this? Would it have made a difference? Or was the worldwide sweep of nativism and populism inevitable in our country, too?

I honestly have no idea and it’s above my pay grade, anyway. All I know is that this is where we are right now.

So what do we do now? I have a couple of ideas.

First, we must speak out. I fear that a massive wave of bigotry, sexism, and hatred has been unleashed. We’ve seen some very ugly scenes lately and I am afraid that we will see more. I know that a lot of us have not been afraid to stand up for someone who is being bullied or abused. We must have zero tolerance for any such behavior. If you see it happening, make your stand! (With regards to Stephen King and my all-time favorite book, The Stand. I might be due for yet another read of it, because there are lessons to be learned and relearned there.) Those who are most vulnerable among us will be under attack and all of us must stand up, speak out, and defend and protect them. We must not let hatred become routine or ignored.

Second, we must speak out against policies that are antithetical to what we believe. We have elected a new president whose policies (what little he has proposed) I find absurd and whose personal behavior I find repugnant. But he has been elected president. That is reality, and unlike most of his supporters, I’m a big fan of reality. I will respect the office. I will no longer call him the Yam, the Vulgar Talking Yam, Yamboy, or any of the other things I’ve called him. (Tool, Asshole, A-hole, and many others.) I will refer to him as the president or as Trump. Not even Mr. Trump. He doesn’t have any respect for women, so why should I have respect for him as a Mister?

I’m not going to call him names, because as Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” It drove us all crazy when people called President Obama and Michelle names, right? So I’m not going to resort to those tactics. However, while I am forced to accept that he is the elected president, I absolutely, unequivocally and forever reject his brand of hatred.

I refuse it. I will speak out against it whenever I see it. I will post about his lies and misdeeds (and there will be many...have you been paying attention?), I will post about the lawsuits against him, I will post as much as I want, when I want. All based in fact, of course, because I don’t traffic in conspiracy theories.

I know many of us feel disheartened and bereft. I felt that today, too. (The nausea was a side effect.) But listen to me and know this: we are not done. We have work to do and it begins with us. Speak out. Do not be ruled by the politics of fear. Reject bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and hatred of any kind. Do not let this negate your belief in what is true, what is right, and what is just. They have not taken those things from us...we still have them. They have not taken our country from is still ours, too.

We still have a voice. Let’s use it.

This song has never been more appropriate.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Final Countdown

Will things ever be the same again?

~~ "The Final Countdown" by Europe

Well, here we are.

In about 48 hours, we may (or may not) know who our next President will be.

Some of my friends are feeling very anxious and worried about the outcome of this election. While I share some of their apprehension, I feel fairly confident that the blue state firewall will hold for the Democrats and that Hillary Clinton will be our next President. I could be proven wrong, but I really do think our better angels will prevail.

It is obvious to me (and hopefully the majority of Americans) that Trump is unfit for the office. We shall see.

It’s been a brutal campaign and I think we are all a little damaged by it. I have worried about my blood pressure, I have felt anxiety and stress, I have had a hollow feeling in my stomach. I have unfollowed people because I couldn’t stand seeing their posts. I’m sure others did the same with me and I am okay with that. Our Clinton-Kaine sign was stolen from our yard. (Two more are going up in its place tomorrow.) I have seen people who aren’t from the U.S. lecture us about what is going on and have felt anger about that. I don’t totally understand the UK political structure, for example, so I don’t try to lecture them on how they should or should not be running their country. If you don’t have a vote here—and even worse, if you DO, and don’t vote—you can probably just be quiet, okay? We know we’ve got problems and need to work on them. We are also the greatest force for good in the world and have been for many years, and yes, I believe that.

I have seen friends and family members embrace the misogynist, racist bully, and I have felt despair. I have questioned the intelligence and sanity of people whom I hold dear. I have pleaded with those I know to be principled conservatives to think about how that man has treated women and what he says about them.

But at the end of the day, I feel hope and optimism. Why? Because that’s me!

I went to a rally in downtown South Bend on Thursday and saw Democrats coming together and fired up about our chances. I saw a diverse crowd full of positivity and wanting to make things better for ALL Americans.

I believe that the state polls will tell the tale. I believe that the majority of Americans will reject the politics of hate and fear and embrace the politics of inclusion and tolerance. I believe that we will elect the first woman as President of the United States of America and that fills me with awe and joy. I believe that we are still a great country that does good in the world, I believe that we are a generous people, I believe that we feel compassion and empathy and yes, LOVE, for our fellow human beings!

I believe that we all want to see every child in this country have a chance, with health care, proper nutrition, and an education so that they can succeed in this world, and that their race and gender doesn’t matter. I believe that people should be able to love whomever they want to love and that they should not be discriminated against for who they are. I believe in the separation of church and state and that no one should be able to dictate what others should or should not believe. I believe in SCIENCE, goddammit, and believe that we must do everything we can to save our planet. I believe in the power of music to bring people together, to forget our differences and just enjoy the celebration.

I believe.

I’ll check back with you all on Tuesday night. In the meantime, go vote. VOTE, you beautiful citizens! It is your right and you have a voice! Do you understand how fortunate you are??