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December 2016 Archives

So Long, Farewell...


...auf wedersehn, goodbye, adios, aloha, get the hell OUT of here, 2016.

No, it hasn't been an especially cheerful year, particularly since November 8th. I'm spending these last hours trying to draw strength and calm from a re-reading of a favorite book, Ursula K. Le Guin's Very Far Away from Anywhere Else, and looking forward to a dinner of black beans and yellow rice, a meal Kelly hasn't made in a while.

But I'm also trying hard to think about the good things that 2016 offered me. I got to visit Washington & Oregon, meet new friends, reconnect with old ones, and see scads of new birds. We adopted a new dog, who has given us joy in great quantities. My son got engaged to a simply delightful young woman who makes Kelly and me almost as happy as she makes him. I was able to get back to full-time employment, with the attendant boost in compensation. I bought (and have been enjoying learning to play) a Washburn AB10 acoustic bass guitar. My family gathered at Emerald Isle for a wonderful Thanksgiving and celebration of my father's 80th birthday. And I've been able to get a semi-regular gig writing for Audubon.org.

None of that will disappear in the orange-colored fog that prepares to descend upon it. But it may be harder to see.

In the meantime, everyone have a safe and happy new year. We've got a lot of work to do.

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7:16 PM
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Another piece at Audubon is up, this one concerning the intersection between birds and superheroes and why it's not the most upscale intersection.

cap falcon.jpg
If nothing else, this image should help explain why they changed Sam's uniform.


9:14 PM
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Spades


Well, then.

Taking the last month off from blogging was not my original goal, but every time I started trying to type words on the screen, it was only a few keystrokes before I began a full-on George Carlin litany: "The thing about Trump is that he'll almost certaiSHIT PISS FUCK CUNT COCKSUCKER MOTHERFUCKER AND TITS."

I mean, I've been disappointed in my fellow Americans before. I've been ANGRY at them before. Heck, in 2004, I found out a relative had voted for Bush, figuring we shouldn't change leadership in the middle of a war. After the steam finished pouring from my ears, I simply pointed out that this was a war of choice that Bush had STARTED, and that by this logic, every President should start a war during his first term to guarantee his re-election.

But this, I think, is the first time I've actually been ashamed of my fellow Americans. 

Ashamed and slightly afraid.

The two are linked because the decision to cast a ballot for Donald Trump requires that one of two things be true.

First, a Trump voter may not understand what he's voting for. He may not have followed Trump's career over the past thirty-odd years. He may not understand that the one consistency in Trump's character is his naked, unyielding self-interest. His purpose in running for President was not to do anything on behalf of his country, his party, or his voters; his purpose was to enrich himself, either monetarily or in terms of ego gratification. His conduct over the last month--dabbling in conflicts of interest that would have disqualified any other candidate, upsetting international relations with casual phone calls, setting a murderer's row of foxes in charge of our nation's henhouses--makes no sense for anyone who puts his own interests second to principle, pragmatism, or humanity. The Trump administration shows every sign of making kleptocracy an art form, and the deepest recesses of our pockets have been opened up for his predation.

Making all this worse--and more ironic, if you're capable of achieving that much distance from the situation--is that the same people who voted Trump under the impression that their votes would flush Washington clean of the offal that has clogged it for years also voted to keep that same offal in office; the House and Senate remain in the hands of the same Republicans (with only a handful of exceptions) who've been clogging our national pipes. Instead of getting a new plumber or even a new plunger, they've supplied us with a shiny new toilet seat and are content to leave everything else alone. The expectation that said offal is going to work to rein Trump in is simply laughable; what has EVER served to rein him in? His fellow GOP candidates couldn't do it; the media couldn't do it; and the voters have shown no interest in doing so themselves. Mitch McConnell may have plenty of spine when it comes to obstructing a black Democrat, but he's a total invertebrate when it comes to dealing with Republicans in power. Hell, he's already refusing to recuse himself from the confirmation debate when his own wife comes up for a Trump cabinet post--THAT is exactly how much principle he has.

In short, the Trump voter may only now be starting to see the writing on the wall, despite the fact that it's been written in gigantic letters of flame reading MENE, MENE, YOU CANNOT BE FUCKING SERIOUS since the 1980s. That's a feat of ignorance that requires careful preparation over many years, and I am frankly ashamed that so many of my countrymen have been so diligent.

But there's a second possibility: they did this on purpose.

And that's the part that scares me. Because that means they knew about the misogyny, the bigotry, the cozying up to actual self-identified Nazis, the cronyism, the admiration for the very regime that hacked into the American political process for its own purposes, the obfuscation of finances and taxes and interests... they knew about all that.

And they voted Trump anyway.

Look, I'm a white, straight, married male citizen with a steady job and no immediately visible traits that would make me a target of abuse in Trump's America. And if I'm scared of what could happen, I can only imagine what nonwhite, queer, female, naturalized, impoverished, or disabled Americans are feeling right now. Whether this presidency was obtained through the actions of fools, or knaves, or both, it promises to be one that does real and potentially permanent damage to our nation, its reputation, and the planet on which it lies.

I'm not urging you to panic. I'm not urging you to be complacent, either. I'm urging you to be ready to pick up your spade and get to work. Organize. Speak out. When you can, vote. Protect the vulnerable. Disturb the powerful. Heed the words written a few years back by a great American--Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Hispanic American with colleagues of every gender, sexuality, and ethnicity:

"We're in the shit now. Somebody's got to shovel it."


3:18 PM
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