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Mary Arline
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Mary Arline's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, February 11th, 2017
12:04 pm
Thursday, February 9th, 2017
3:24 pm
Throwback Thursday: Healthcare reform
A while ago I was looking for something in the Daily Show archives--I don't remember what, specifically--when I came across this interview with conservative pundit Bill Kristol from 2009, before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, and healthcare reform was the main topic of conversation.

There are two things about this video that particularly stuck out at me. One is that Kristol's main argument seems to be, "Why revamp the entire healthcare system? Why not just make a few changes?" Oh, what a difference seven and a half years makes! Now they're saying, "BURN IT! BURN IT TO THE GROUND! BURN IT DOWN and then rebuild it from the ground up...(eventually)." But I think that if it was a valid argument seven and a half years ago, it's an equally valid argument now. Why keep reinventing the wheel?

The other feature of interest is that Kristol keeps saying that soldiers/veterans deserve better healthcare than the rest of us because they are (or were) out there risking their lives, while the rest of us ungrateful, lazy slobs are just sitting at home on our asses, apparently contributing nothing to society.

Okay well, you know, there is some validity to his point. My favorite Bible verse is John 15:13: "No greater love is there than this, to lay down one's life for a friend," and I guess that's basically what soldiers do. I mean, most people probably don't get involved in the military because they are eager to go out and kill people to satisfy a blood lust; most of them, when asked why they joined up, express a desire to defend country, home, loved ones, etc. All right; for the sake of argument, let's say that people who risk their lives for the sake of others deserve the best healthcare. But are military personnel the only ones doing that?

What about volunteer firefighters? They risk their lives to save the lives of others all the time. Moreover, they are strictly about saving lives, never about taking them. They never resort to violence and never raise a hand against another human being. But because they're on a volunteer basis, they might not receive compensation or benefits the way a career firefighter would (although some do). So, according to Kristol's criteria, aren't they the most deserving of the absolute best healthcare available?

Then Kristol says that "the military need different kinds of healthcare than the rest of us." Well, there's something to that as well. For example, military personnel are probably more likely to need limb amputations than most of us. And yet, there are civilians who need limbs amputated for various reasons. Take, for example, a little kid who has bone cancer in her leg and needs to have her leg amputated on account of that. Is Kristol saying that the little kid with bone cancer doesn't deserve as high quality of healthcare as the wounded soldier?

Basically, yes. Jon Stewart asked him twice if he believed that the military deserved better healthcare than the rest of us ordinary, freeloading citizens, and he said "yes...absolutely" because soldiers risk their lives. And presumably the little kid with bone cancer isn't out risking her life for others, so therefore she doesn't deserve the same quality healthcare as soldiers. So said Bill Kristol, conservative Republican pundit, in 2009.

God bless America.
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
8:29 am
The inherent bias of the electoral college
I have a whole case to make against the continued existence of the electoral college, but I don't have time right now. But first, I would like to point out this shocking but true fact that supports my larger case:

In the history of the United States, there have been four elections wherein the winner of the electoral college lost the popular vote. In each case, the candidate who lost the popular vote but won the electoral college and therefore the presidency, was from the Republican Party.[*](There was also the case of the election of 1824--30 years before the Republican Party was founded--wherein there was a plurality in both the electoral college and the popular vote in favor of Andrew Jackson. Because Jackson did not gain enough electoral votes to win the presidency, the vote was deferred to the House of Representatives, per the Constitution's provisions in case of a tie, which decided in favor of John Quincy Adams. So technically, John Quincy Adams won neither the popular vote nor the electoral college.)

Coincidence? NO! Evidence that the electoral college system is inherently biased.

More evidence, and a fully formed argument, to come later.

Current Mood: disgusted
Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
9:36 am
Belated NSFW warning:
Some of the songs in Hamilton have explicit lyrics and are therefore not safe for work. Click wisely.
Monday, February 6th, 2017
8:45 pm
Got Burr? (or has Burr got you?)
Per my Hamilton wall calendar, I found out that today is Aaron Burr's birthday.

If I have one criticism to make about the musical Hamilton, it is that it makes Aaron Burr far too sympathetic.

Read more...Collapse )

What's so interesting is that, on a textual level, Miranda is telling us--with both words and music--"Look, Aaron Burr is a complicated guy; he's not a two-dimensional villain, and he's not as bad as you think he is"; and yet, on a subtextual level, the voice of the historical Burr comes to us down through the centuries and says, "You know what? Even if I am complicated, I really am as bad as you think I am." Then, if you read anything nonfictional about Aaron Burr, you find out that not only is he as bad as you think he is, he's actually a lot worse. Certainly not someone who deserves the biggest power ballad in the musical.[*](Although Leslie Odom Jr's performance thereof is simply magnificent.)

The only question is, would he have been a better or worse president that Donald Trump? Thanks to Alexander Hamilton, we'll never know, and our country is the better for it. If only Hamilton was alive today to save us from ourselves once again. But he's not, so we'll just have to save ourselves, using Hamilton's writings--and history--as a guide.
Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
1:31 pm
Distraction
I apologize for posting something that really doesn't matter in the slightest when there's so much more important stuff going on, but sometimes I just get extraneous thoughts stuck in my head and this is the only way to get them out, so please bear with me.

Stupid and inconsequentialCollapse )

In seriousness, I don't think the devil would waste time trying to convince people that God doesn't exist. I think the devil would be--and probably is--out committing evil acts in God's name so as to discredit Him.

[She says in parentheses...](See what I did up there, in my cut title? hanh hanh!)

Current Mood: distracted
Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
3:54 pm
Unperplexed, then reperplexed
Today I was still trying to figure out the differences between Kristi Noem and our two senators, that she would be targeted by pro-refugee protestors and the other two wouldn't. Is it only the obvious differences they are seeing, or are there more subtle differences that go beneath the surface?

I was thinking about it today, and I realized that one difference between Noem and the senators[*](which, by the way, would be a great name for a band; so would the variation "Kristi and the Senators") is that any time you send anything written to Noem's office--whether it be an e-mail or an actual, physical letter--you get an annoying generic e-mail--a form letter, only electronic--on the topic later. The ones I've gotten always say basically the same thing: thank you for sharing your concerns with me, but I'm going to go ahead and do whatever I want to--which is to say, whatever my party and my campaign contributors want me to--anyway. I suppose, however, if you send her a letter supporting whatever she supports, she probably sends a form letter/e-mail that says yay, I'm so glad that we totally agree on this, and you're totally my best friend now! So give me money. Thenks![*](To be completely fair, I can't really complain that I don't get to discuss my concerns with her directly because when I set up my advance call screening to prevent robocalls from getting through, it also blocked her statewide conference calls that she has periodically.)

Anyway, I thought that yesterday's protests might have been, in part, reacting against her stupid generic e-mails. But that doesn't follow either, because Thune's office also sends form e-mails (although not as quickly), and even with Noem's office, the turnaround time isn't quick enough that they would have received responses already.

And yet, even as I say that, I remember that when you send an e-mail, at least (I don't remember if they do this for letters) there's another form e-mail that goes out within 24 hours saying we received your message but we need some time to figure out which pre-scripted response to send you, so that will take a few more days but be patient, we'll get your rejection out to you soon enough. (I paraphrase.) So maybe it was a reaction to that. It's certainly possible; without more information, I can't rule it out.

Current Mood: still perplexed
Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
8:15 pm
Perplexed
Yesterday, the reptilian Representative Noem expressed support for President von Clownstick's Muslim ban. Today there were protests outside her Sioux Falls office in response.

They were peaceful protests, so I have no objection. But I am perplexed because she is not, in fact, the only South Dakotan in Congress to express support for the ban; Sen. Mike Rounds did so too. Yet there were no protests outside his office. I know this because I was there this afternoon, and there were no protestors.[*](Unless--and this is possible because they're only a few blocks away from each other--the protestors started at Rounds' office in the morning and walked over to Noem's in the afternoon. But I don't have enough data to either confirm or disprove that.)

So why target Noem and not Rounds? Is it because she's our state's only Representative in the House thereof? Is it because she's a woman? Is it because her office is more visible? Is it because that creepy, blank-eyed, vacuous stare of hers is just so darned off-putting? Is it because Rounds takes less extreme views on other issues, such as public broadcasting, so that Noem seems less reasonable overall, even though they are both being equally unreasonable on this particular issue?

Or maybe they're planning protests outside only one building a day? Having focused on Noem today, maybe they'll get to Rounds tomorrow. Maybe they're going in alphabetical order.

So, you may be wondering, what of Thune? He gave a characteristically calculated and predictably poltical answer, to the effect that he was in favor of vetting but opposed an all-out ban. Typical Thune: sit back and wait to see which way the wind is blowing. Still, he is the only South Dakotan in Congress who said anything remotely negative about the ban, and at least that's something. When I sent him my Neimoller homage today, I wrote a handwritten note at the bottom saying I appreciated that.

But, of course, he said that yesterday; maybe he's changed his mind by now.

Current Mood: perplexed
4:45 pm
My favorite story about Alexander Hamilton
It didn't make it into the musical--or, if it did, it didn't get a song--but it's awesome, and there's a lesson in it for us now:

When the American Revolution was getting going in 1775, Alexander Hamilton was a student at what is now known as Columbia University but was known at the time as King's College--which, as implied by the name, had the British Crown as a patron. The head of King's College was a man named Myles Cooper who, understandably, favored the loyalist cause and wasn't shy about saying so.

It happened one night that a bunch of revolutionaries got together for a rally and they were drinking and talking about the cause and complaining about loyalists they didn't like--which was all of them--and somehow or other they got a bee in their collective bonnet about Myles Cooper over at King's College. Being thoroughly sloshed at this point, they decided that they were going to shut Cooper up for good by using one of those imaginatively humiliating ways of executing people that were so popular during the eighteenth century, such as tar and feathers.

Well, someone on the King's College campus noticed the angry mob approaching and raced to warn Cooper, and since Alexander Hamilton's dorm room[*](I don't know if they called them "dorm rooms" back then, however) was nearby, he was also awakened and informed in case they needed him to help fight off the mob.

Now, keep in mind that Alexander Hamilton was HIMSELF a revolutionary. He was an enthusiastic and active participant in the revolution from day one, writing lengthy pamphlets in favor of the cause on top of his schoolwork. On the other hand, he didn't like unruly mobs; he hated and feared anarchy as much as he did tyranny and believed both should be guarded against at all costs. So as the mob arrived to charge down Cooper's door, Alexander Hamilton stood up between them and the door and made an impassioned speech, apparently completely off the cuff. Unfortunately, because it was completely impromptu, we don't have the text of it, but he said something along the lines of they weren't helping the revolutionary cause by getting drunk and attacking the defenseless, that there was a right way and a wrong way to run a revolution, and they were going about it the wrong way. Well, he didn't stop the mob, but he did slow them down enough that by the time they got to Cooper's sleeping quarters, Cooper had escaped out the back way. As the next morning dawned, he was on a boat to move back to England and apparently never thanked Hamilton for saving his life.

In that moment when the crowd was advancing, Hamilton had several choices: he could have run away; he could have locked his dorm room door and hid under the covers; he could have joined forces with the angry mob, which was--after all--made up of his fellow revolutionaries; or he could have grabbed a gun and shot anybody who approached the door. But he didn't do any of those things. Instead, he took a defensive stand, not with a gun or a sword, but armed only with his quick wits and his silver tongue. And he not only succeeded in beating back the mob, using only words as weapons, but did so with such eloquence and patriotic fervor that he emerged with his revolutionary ethos still intact.
9:32 am
Reason for hope
An already grim situation has deteriorated even further over the past week. There is ample reason for fear and shame and outrage and righteous indignation and well-meaning plagiarism of anti-fascist rhetoric.

But there is also reason for hope. Because we now live in a world where people are doing figure skating routines to Hamilton songs:



Not only is this awesome[*](The idea, certainly, if perhaps not the execution) on a purely aesthetic level, but anything that increases the visibility and accessibility Hamilton to the people and brings it more into the public consciousness is a good and healthful thing, like a vitamin shot to our ailing democracy.

At first, I was skeptical about the decision of the ISU to allow skaters in all disciplines to skate to music with lyrics, but now I see that it was not only a good and necessary decision whose time was long past overdue but clearly divinely inspired as well.[*](To be clear: it appears that the skater featured in the video posted above is NOT competing in an ISU competition; however, this is now something that could--and, more than likely, eventually will--happen in official ISU competition, if it hasn't happened already!) As I've noted before, the world of figure skating is largely a world without borders, despite the best efforts of Russian dictators and bitter Canadian journalists. Therefore, I'm looking forward to the day--and it might not be long in coming--when skaters from countries besides the United States do routines to Hamilton songs.[*](Remember that we've got the Winter Olympics coming up in a little over a year, and people will be looking for fresh ideas for routines.)

Oh, and here's something that I never thought I would say...This makes me miss marching band:



Current Mood: hopeful
Monday, January 30th, 2017
7:56 pm
Neimoller 2020
I'm sure everybody reading this is familiar with the poem First They Came... by Martin Niemoller. I've taken the liberty of updating it for the 21st Century and certain current events:

In America, they first came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim.

Then they came for the Mexicans, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Mexican.

Then they came for the climatologists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a climatologist.

Then they came for the GLBT community, and I didn't speak up because I was neither gay, lesbian, bisexual, nor transgendered.

Then they came for me--and by that time, no one was left to speak up.


--All of us, circa 2020
I'm sending this to my congresspeople. No one's ever going to accuse me of not speaking up.
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
7:42 pm
Do you see, or do you Nazi?
Dear President von Clownstick:

I'm not going to lecture you on why it is wrong for you to compare the United States with Nazi Germany. I'm not going to point out that only certain people have the right to do that, and only under very specific circumstances. I'm just going to explain to you why it is not in your best interest to keep making that comparison now that you're president.

It was one thing to compare America with Nazi Germany when you were just an ordinary schmo like the rest of us. But now you're the president of the United States. If the United States is analogous to Nazi Germany, and you're the leader of the United States, what does that make you?

[Answer]It makes you Hitler.

Current Mood: puzzled
Sunday, January 22nd, 2017
10:41 am
Find out what it means to me
There is a notion that I know is older than the W. Bush administration but was bandied about a lot during that time, particularly on my college campus in the lead-up to W's visit that I remarked upon recently; the idea of "even if you don't respect the man, you have to respect the office [of President]." I always got really resentful whenever anyone ever said that to me, and even now, I don't think it's correct: I'm no constitutional scholar, but I'm pretty sure that it never says that anywhere in the Constitution.

As I interpret it, the Founders and Framers never intended for the office of the president to be anything other than a job, and that the people who held the office were only intended to be afforded as much respect as they earned for doing the job well. Whether the Founders and the Framers hadn't read Thomas Hobbes at all or--more likely--simply disagreed with him on the need for a sovereign in whom the people could invest emotionally, the reason they decided we should have a president instead of a king is precisely because they didn't think a president ought to automatically be afforded respect ex officio.

Prior to the inauguration, I made a promise to myself that I was never going to say or write the words "President D----- T----" and lend legitimacy to an installation that I believe to be 100% illegitimate.[*](I agree with John Lewis, but for different reasons than his: First, I don't think that the electoral college result legitimately represents the will of the people; it may fulfill the letter of the law, but not its spirit. Second, as far as I'm concerned, the mere act of Donald Trump touching a Bible and saying, "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" is, in and of itself, an impeachable offense because he has never made an oath or a promise in good faith in his entire life.) But then I thought, well, that's a bit petty of me. I should really try to take the high road and turn the other cheek, lead by example by doing to others as I would have them do to me. So, along with Seth Meyers, I can affirm that he is "my" president[*](Although Seth jumped the gun a little bit; at the time that he said that, technically Barack Obama was still our president. And, I might add, Obama will always be president of my heart and no one can ever take that away from me. #raiseaglass) and, in the fullness of time, he will be impeached according to "my" Constitution.

In the interest of affording the president the respect he deserves, I will go the extra step and not only show my respect but demonstrate how much I cherish his illustrious heritage by referring to him by his birth name of "Fuckface von Clownstick."

Now, if we lived in a world in which facts still mattered, I would of course be forced to admit that "Fuckface von Clownstick" is not, in fact, the president's birth name. Fortunately, however, we now live in a "post-fact world" where what's written on a person's birth certificate is no longer conclusive proof of anything and what is true is entirely a matter of individual preference as to what "alternative facts" you choose to accept.

So, congratulations to President Fuckface von Clownstick and the entire von Clownstick family, to whom I say, with complete and heartfelt sincerity: I hope you enjoy it while you can, because it won't last long. #smileyface; #impeachment
Saturday, January 21st, 2017
8:13 pm
Opting out
When I was in 7th grade, the powers that be[*](Though whether that means the teachers, administration, PTA or what, I don't actually know.) decided to take our whole class on a day-long ski trip. It was supposed to be a class treat, but it came with a price: we were each expected to cough up $50 or so to cover the various costs involved on the mountain. This would have been early 1994, and--as I recall--it was not a time when my family could easily spare $50 to send me on a ski trip, which would have caused me a dilemma if it had been an activity in which I had any interest in participating. As it was, my only dilemma was how to get out of it. Which, as luck would have it, turned out not be be a problem at all: the permission slip they gave us for our parents to sign had several checkboxes at the bottom, and one of the checkboxes said something to the effect of: "My child does not have permission to go on the ski trip." So I handed the permission slip to my mother and said, "Mom, I don't want to go on this trip; please check the box that says I don't have permission to go." So she did.

And you know what? I had a great day that day. There were a handful of us who didn't go on the ski trip for whatever reason; one of the teachers stayed to supervise us, and we hung out in his classroom all day, playing games, watching movies, and eating pizza. I had a lot more fun than I would have had on the ski slope, being picked on by the mean girls and being harassed and humiliated by the surly ski instructor--who, I found out later, yelled at my best friend for falling the wrong way.[*](I know--now--that there's a way to fall so as to minimize the risk of injury, and I realize why that would be a valuable skill to master, but in the first place, every skill takes practice; in the second place, once gravity has ahold of you, there's only so much you can do about it; and in the third place, I don't see the point in yelling at someone after the fact for not doing what you wanted them to do when they were clearly trying to do it. I don't think that's a good teaching technique) From that day to this I have never had any regrets about not going on that ski trip. Not one regret in the 23 intervening years.

Once when I was in college--it must have been about 2003--George W. Bush paid a visit to our campus. That makes it sound a lot cozier than it was; he only stayed long enough to make a speech in the Barnett Center and shake a few hands on his way out the door. I was working my workstudy job at the time, but from the vantage point of the office windows, I saw the motorcade pull up and depart. You might be wondering whether I could have gotten the time off of work to go see the speech. I imagine that I probably could have if I'd have asked, but I didn't bother because I had NO desire whatsoever to be anywhere near W. or listen to him speak.

The effect of W's visit on the people around me was startling; everyone was suddenly all excited about going to hear his speech. It was like the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. People were asking me if I was going to go to the speech, and I was like, "Trust me; the last thing anybody wants--from the Secret Service on down--is for me to get within screaming distance of W." But could my friends leave it at that? No, they kept after me, saying, "But even if you don't like him, how many chances in your life will you get to hear a sitting president speak?" and I said, "Well, I don't know, but I'm going to wait for a good one." So I went to work; I earned my $7.50 for the hour and I watched the motorcade arrive and depart from the window, and that was more than enough. Even now--fourteen years after the fact--I have absolutely no regrets, because I know that absolutely nothing good would have come of me attending that speech.

The reason I bring all this up is that there were several stories on the news recently about the high school in one of the little towns around here taking students on a trip to D.C. for the inauguration. See, apparently they take a trip to D.C. every two years, usually in the spring, but because there was going to be an inauguration this year, they pushed it up. And, to be fair, I don't know when the plans for the trip were finalized; it could have been well before the election, so they could have finalized the plans with the belief that it was going to be a historic occasion for more positive reasons. Nevertheless, it pained me to hear the enthusiasm with which they spoke of the trip: "How many times in your life do you get to see a presidential inauguration?" Well, I don't know, but it still remains that this was NOT an inauguration but a farce, a sham, a mockery of democracy which I shall henceforth refer to as "dem-mockery." And if I had been one of those high school students, I would have taken the permission slip home to my mother and said, "Mom, I don't want to go on this trip; please say I don't have permission." And she would probably say, "Thank goodness you don't want to go, because I had no intention of allowing you to go anywhere near that monster."

With that said, however, if they wind up giving away tickets to the impeachment hearings, I'll be the first one in line. That's an opportunity I would regret missing out on.

Current Mood: no regrets
Friday, January 20th, 2017
11:00 am
"Raise a glass to freedom; something they can never take away, no matter what they tell you."


Oh, and I have a message for our new president: Don't get comfy.
#Impeachment

Current Mood: defiant
Thursday, January 19th, 2017
4:04 pm
Cold-calling
In the last two weeks, I've written letters to my congresspeople in my regard to my opposition to repealing Obamacare. Recently, I've been making phone calls as well to their offices in Washington. Wow, that really takes a lot out of me.

On the one hand, I don't want to script-out or over-rehearse what I want to say beforehand because then I'm afraid it will sound insincere. I always have sort of a mental outline of points that I want to mention, but I don't ever want to sound as though I'm just parroting someone else's talking points. On the other hand, I've never been comfortable speaking extemporaneously, and it takes a lot of effort. It doesn't sound natural to me, because it's not natural and doesn't come easily at all. Whether that uncomfortableness comes across as insincerity, I don't know, but I certainly hope not since that's what I'm trying so hard to avoid.

I will say that I've been very impressed with the people I've spoken to who have answered the phone; to a man and woman, they have all been polite, pleasant, and professional. I don't envy them their job either; their job is really just to listen and pass along comments without arguing, offering opinions, or answering questions.[*](That's another thing that makes calling so difficult, because I always want to ask questions, like "What exactly are you planning to replace Obamacare with?" and "What am I supposed to do if I lose my health insurance?" But I know that it's not really their job to answer those types of questions, that they're neither qualified or equipped to do so, and therefore it's not really fair of me to ask those questions of them. So I refrain from asking them, but it's difficult.) Inevitably, in a job like that you're going to hear political views that you don't agree with, and I imagine it must be very difficult to refrain from offering your own view or counterarguments, or to keep from being rude to the people who don't agree with you. I don't know if I could do it, to be honest, so I have a great deal of respect for the tact and mental discipline displayed by the people answering the phones.

One of them was even nice enough to say I made some good points.

Current Mood: drained
Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
6:32 pm
Disquiet
I've been using this extended metaphor of Donald Trump as a cancer on our democracy, and while I don't doubt the aptness of comparing him with a disease, there is one question that keeps nagging at me: what if Trump himself isn't the cancer?

What if the cancer is really Mike Pence and the rest of the old-school Republican vanguard, and Trump is actually a separate condition, i.e., an acute secondary infection, an opportunistic micro-organism taking advantage of a weakened immune system?

In a clinical situation like that, the physician would pause treatment of the cancer and treat the infection first because (a) the infection could complicate the cancer treatment, and (b) the infection could likely kill the patient a lot more quickly than the cancer could.[*](This is merely an educated guess at how such a case would be handled. I am not a doctor, and every case is different.)

If that metaphor holds true, then Keith Olbermann is exactly right in saying that the thing to do in the current situation is to use the provisions set forth in the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to depose Trump immediately and install Mike Pence as president instead.

It's a hard argument to refute: if we all wind up dead as a result of actions taken by Trump as president, it won't really matter whether or not we have health insurance, nor will we be concerned about our civil liberties--or lack thereof.

However, that solution is still maddeningly unsatisfying: how many times since 2001 have we been asked to cede our civil liberties in the name of safety? We know that Mike Pence has nothing but contempt for the rights of gay people; are we to ask the gay community, who have only so recently been afforded the full rights and privileges that they can reasonably expect as citizens of a free country, to cede those rights and scapegoat themselves in the interest of saving all of our skins? That were despicable fickleness--not only that, but unspeakable cruelty.

Recently, I've been rereading A House Like a Lotus by Madeleine L'Engle, and I ran across this in a line of dialogue: "We do make things happen by what we think, so think positively." That's such an Idealist notion, making things happen by what we think, and it's one that scares me because I don't want that responsibility, for fear of screwing things up for everybody by thinking things that I don't really mean in moments of anger or bitterness. But in the event that it may be true, I'm going to focus my thoughts and think as hard as I can about both Trump and Pence being removed from office as soon as possible via peaceable, legal, constitutional, nonviolent means. Whether it means getting rid of each of them separately or both of them at the same time, I am going to focus my thoughts as hard as I can on removal according to the measures set forth in the Constitution for that purpose. And when I hear people talking about the next four years,[*](or mention the dreaded and unthinkable "eight years") I won't even entertain the notion. "Two years, tops; then impeachment" I 'll say. That will be my mantra from now on.

Current Mood: disquieted
Saturday, January 14th, 2017
2:05 pm
Three fundamental truths
I keep coming back to what President Obama said to Donald Trump when the latter visited the White House right after the election. I haven't looked up the exact quote, but basically what he said was this: "We want you to succeed as president because if you succeed, the country succeeds."

I give President Obama a lot of credit for coming up with something courteous and diplomatic to say; I don't know what I would have said in that situation, but I suspect it would have just been a string of obscenities. Nevertheless, I'm not convinced that President Obama's statement was either rhetorically or logically sound, and the more I think about it, the more I realize three fundamental truths at the exact same time:

1. I want our country to succeed by playing according to the rules that we have set for ourselves in our Constitution, up to and including the provisions set down in the Constitution for amending the Constitution itself.[*](i.e. GET RID OF THE FUCKING ELECTORAL COLLEGE ALREADY!! It is racist, it is sexist, and it is WOEFULLY OUTDATED! Are we going to have to elect a literal barnyard animal before we realize that this particular provision by the Founders is no longer relevant to the time and the world in which we live NOW?!?) Anything else is cheating. Do you know what happens when you win by cheating? Eventually--inevitably--the truth comes out, you are stripped of your title(s), and your name is replaced in the records with an asterisk. Which, for Donald Trump, would probably be a fate worse than death.

2. I don't want Donald Trump to succeed as president if his success undermines the Constitution. On that day, when President Obama must have been tired and emotionally drained, and was probably mentally repeating to himself "don't shout out obscenities...don't shout out obscenities...when they go low, you go high..." etc., I suspect that he may not have taken into consideration that his definition of the word "succeed" might not be the same as Donald Trump's definition of "succeed." It has been increasingly evident, over the intervening weeks and months, that Donald Trump's definition of "success" is different from that of the Framers of the Constitution; what Trump calls "success", the Framers called "corruption" and "treason" and "grounds for impeachment."

3. If/when Trump goes down, we need to take Mike Pence down with him.

The only thing that scares me more than the idea of a Trump presidency is the idea of a Pence presidency.

Now, one might point out that Mike Pence seems a lot more stable and rational than Trump, that he has more government experience than Trump, that--unlike Trump--he seems to have a reasonable understanding of the Constitution, and therefore, is more qualified for the presidency than Trump.

I concede every point; I agree wholeheartedly. That's exactly what makes Mike Pence so dangerous.

Listen: Donald Trump is manifestly unqualified for the presidency; a five-year-old could figure that out--and has. But he does have one good quality that Mike Pence does not have: for Donald Trump, persecuting gay people is a relatively low priority. Whereas for Mike Pence, it's priority #1.[*](At the very least, it is definitely in the top five) But because he seems--and, more than likely, probably is--more sane than Trump, people might be so relieved to see him assume the presidency that they might be willing to look the other way as Pence enacts measures that would infringe upon the human rights and civil liberties of the GLBT community.

It's been suggested that the Twenty-Fifth Amendment could be put into play as a quick-and-easy way to remove Trump from office before he ever really has a chance to assume it, that Mike Pence and Paul Ryan could team up behind Trump's back--completely legally, mind you--to have him removed from office as soon as the day after Inauguration Day.[*](I'm forced to wonder if they haven't already been plotting this. It would certainly explain Paul Ryan's complete about-face in regard to criticizing Trump. Perhaps behind that corn-fed face and those gentian blue eyes, Paul Ryan has just been repeating to himself, "Bide your time...bide your time...keep up the front, and this can all be over on January 21st." And even though I'm not in favor of this particular solution, I have to admit that it's amusing to imagine the two of them staging an intervention-like meeting with Trump and informing him, "I'm sorry Donald, but we're having you removed from office due to incompetence." In my fevered dream-version, this meeting takes place during or immediately after the Inaugural Ball, and they taunt him by singing, "Well you're never gonna be president now...that's one less thing to worry about!" with Mike Pence singing lead and Paul Ryan on back-up. And then, just to twist the knife, Mike Pence says, "Oh, and you're wrong about Hamilton, by the way; it isn't overrated.") No fuss, no muss! Just like that, our long national bout of Delirium J. Tremens is over!

But wait--don't celebrate yet! Remember that that leaves us with Mike Pence as president, who will not only push forward with repealing Obamacare, but his replacement (Pencecare) will almost certainly have a rider that makes gay conversion therapy compulsory and gender reassignment surgery illegal.

Think about that.

No, friends; the Twenty-Fifth Amendment solution seems too good to be true because it is. We can't afford a quick fix; we have to stay the course and wait until we have grounds to impeach both Trump and Pence at the same time. We can do that under the Impeachment Clause, which states that the president, the vice president, and "all civil officers" can be impeached and--if convicted--removed from office.

As any oncologist will tell you, once the cancer has metastasized, removing only the original malignant neoplasm will not effect a cure. We need to remove and eradicate ALL the tumors. That will take time, and it will be a painful, debilitating process, but it will give us the best prognosis for survival in the long run.

Current Mood: analytical
Friday, January 13th, 2017
11:54 am
Good-bye, farewell, and amen.
In the flurry of tragic losses that marked the end of a terrible year, there is one that hasn't received as much acknowledgement as I think it deserves: William Christopher--known as Bill to his colleagues--played Father Mulcahy on the TV series M*A*S*H and passed away on December 31st.

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Father Mulcahy is a character who has integrity, and I don't think you can play a character with integrity unless you have integrity yourself.

Current Mood: wistful
Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
7:53 am
One Last Time
I didn't know how I would react to President Obama's farewell address last night. I grabbed a box of Kleenex in case I needed it, but I didn't need it until the end--although, if the pattern of this week holds true, I'll need it again later this morning.

I wish he had not chosen to give it in front of a live audience, but I'm sure he had his reasons.

I agreed with every word that President Obama said last night, except the part at the end where he said that he was more optimistic about our country now than when he first took office. I raised an eyebrow[*](or rather, I made an equivalent facial expression, because I've never been able to raise just one eyebrow) and said, "Really?" I think it's important to be precise here: optimism, as I have pointed out in the past, is a confident belief that everything will turn out okay no matter what. Therefore, it's possible to be hopeful without being optimistic. But in saying that he was optimistic, President Obama--unintentionally, I'm sure--contradicted what he had just said about democracy being emperiled when it is taken for granted and about good citizenship being equivalent to taking action.

I was going to say that I knew he was going to quote George Washington's farewell address,[*](which was co-written by Alexander Hamilton who, coincidentally, was born on this very date approximately 260 years ago) but it's more accurate to say that I hoped he would. I was reading it yesterday and sobbing; it's so relevant to what we're going through right now.[*](I've never felt more justified in using my "George Washington crying on Mount Rushmore" icon than I do right now.)

The next few years are going to be a watershed moment for our Constitution: this is the moment when we find out whether the provisions in the Constitution for removing undeserving people from office are sufficient to safeguard us from tyranny and despotism, and preserve our democracy. This is the ultimate test of the balance of powers. This is the critical point which will determine whether the American Experiment is a success or a failure.

As President Obama pointed out last night, the Constitution can only work if we make it work. Therefore, now is not the time for optimism, because optimism is passive. Now is the time for hope--active, thoughtful, persistent hope.



Current Mood: determined
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