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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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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
Wednesday, December 28th, 2016
8:47 am
"What are you looking forward to in the new year?"
I was watching an interview of Stephen Colbert, and the interviewer asked him, "What are you looking forward to in the new year?"

That made me stop and think about the question myself: what, if anything, am I looking forward to in the new year?

Because I've just been sitting here for weeks with this black mass of dread in my abdomen as to what the next...not even the next year, but what the next MONTH is going to bring. Every day at 5:00 I turn on the news because I now feel a responsibility to know what's going on--to know what's happening approximately as it happens--and every time I do, all my viscera clench up and I think, "What fresh horrors am I going to witness today?"

For weeks I've hardly been able to focus on anything past January 20th, and then, with that question about the next year...it's like, "Something happens after that? Oh. Oh, yeah."

So I thought about the question. I thought and thought. What am I looking forward to in the next year?

In the first place, I'm looking forward to being alive. That might sound facetious, but it's not. I said before: "We are engaged in a battle for our nation's very soul. The stakes could not be higher. The danger to our country--to our very existence--cannot be overstated. Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has our future been so uncertain." I believed that then, and I believe it now. And yet, when the future is uncertain, every day that we're alive is a gift. Every day that we aren't harassed or persecuted or shot or stabbed or mown down by rampaging trucks or have planes crashed on us or rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps is a small victory. My hope is that we will be able to prematurely end the mockery of democracy we are currently embroiled in through peaceful, systematic, Constitutional means, but even if all we can do is endure and outlast the insanity, and still be standing to rebuild when it's over, that will be enough. We will have won.

But in less generic, abstract terms, what am I looking forward to in the new year? I'm looking forward to Mike Huether making a decision as to his future, political and otherwise. Right now, I'm hoping that he runs for governor against Kristi Noem. If he decides to run for anything, my intention is to step up and volunteer to help the campaign, regardless of what office he pursues. But right now, I really want to work to defeat Kristi Noem. I've always been opposed to her, but now it's personal. If I can't beat her face to face, I want to beat her by proxy, and what better way than to beat her by helping someone that I truly believe in, someone whom I know to be a smart, capable, principled person with the best interests of the people at heart. Also, South Dakota has never had an independent--in the sense of non-party affliated--governor,[*](So far, there has been one governor who was neither a Democrat nor a Republican: Andrew E Lee, a member of the Populist Party, served as governor from 1897-1901) so that would be a milestone.

You know...as I think about it some more, there's one thing that I'm not so much looking forward to as hoping for in the new year, and that is just some time to be. Some leisure. I mean, every day it seems that there's something new--not only something new, but several new things every day--to be incensed over and upset about. And I want to do my part; I want to use my talents (writing, primarily) to contribute something meaningful to the fight. But there's so much to react to--there's a barrage of new indignities every day, and because I also have a day job, I can't keep up with it all.

For Christmas, I received a new coloring book and a pack of 50 new colored pencils. I didn't even know that they came in packs of 50; I've been searching in vain for nearly a year for a pack of more than 24. In the new year, I hope I can spend some time with my coloring books and my colored pencils. I hope I have some time to relax and be calm and just be in the moment. I hope that I have the opportunity--the luxury--to create something beautiful, purely for the sake of creativity.

Current Mood: pensive
Monday, December 26th, 2016
7:59 pm
Don't modulate the key then not debate with me
"A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter."

--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #1
Well, I guess the Christmas truce is over.

Today I got a phone call from someone, or something, called Brian who claimed to be conducting a survey for the NRA. He wanted me to listen to a recorded message from Satan Wayne LaPierre and then get my reaction to it. At first I was tempted to just hang up, but then I thought that if they really want my opinion about the NRA, they're gonna get it. Oh boy, are they gonna get it!

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I don't know how deep these tendrils reach; I don't know if I'll be getting more phone calls from groups that I regard as nothing less than terrorist organizations. But if any more of them try to contact me, then by God and the U.S. Constitution, I'll make them sorry they ever learned my name.

Current Mood: avenging
Friday, December 23rd, 2016
8:19 am
Upstaged
About a month ago, I praised Lin-Manuel Miranda for writing Hamilton and "providing the perfect rhetorical tools to deal with the current political situation." And while I don't retract what I said, I feel a little bit bad about it because I'm afraid that maybe it shortchanges Alexander Hamilton, the man himself--who, after all, was a pretty good writer in his own right[*](understatement) and also provided rhetorical tools--The Federalist Papers and, to a certain extent, the Constitution itself being the most prominent examples--that are useful to us in the current political situation. To be completely fair, a lot of what Lin-Manuel[*](Yes, I'm referring to him by his given name even though I don't know him personally, and yes, that is pretentious of me. But his last name is a woman's first name, which is confusing to me, and I won't refer to someone my own age as "Mr."; that's just weird and awkward.) wrote in Hamilton is derived from Hamilton's writings.

What Lin-Manuel has done for Hamilton, besides bringing him out of the obscurity he's endured for 200 years and back into the public consciousness where he belongs, is to make Hamilton's work accessible to the general public. Hamilton was a brilliant man, and he writes in a very scholarly and sometimes very dense style. I have a Master's degree in literature--which also forced me to learn some economics, which was Hamilton's forte--and even I have trouble deciphering Hamilton's writings sometimes. But it's a well-known pedagogical fact that if you want to teach something to someone, and have them retain it, set it to music and make it rhyme.

Even more importantly, in writing and producing Hamilton, Lin-Manuel and company have demonstrated the relevancy of the Revolution, the founding of our country, and the framing of its Constitution to our own lives today. Too often, we think of the Revolution as having happened so far back in time that it no longer touches our lives now. Hamilton makes it immediate and relatable. We tend to think of our democracy as a machine that just keeps chugging along and we don't even have to think about it. Which is not true: even if the machine analogy holds up, machines need regular maintenance to keep them going, and if you take them for granted, they break down. Both Hamilton the man and Hamilton the musical demonstrate to us that democracy takes work; it requires effort on our part.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Hamilton is having a moment[*](although I hope it's more than a moment; I hope it lasts for perpetuity and we finally start giving him the credit he deserves for his role in founding our country) right at the same time that a potential tyrant is getting ready to assume the highest office in the land. I think that God--or fate, or whatever you want to call the benevolent force(s) that bring(s) order to the universe--foresaw that there was going to be a need for Hamilton to re-enter the public consciousness and spark people's interest in learning more about him and the things he did. There's a need for people to go back and read The Federalist Papers--as I, for one, am doing now--and say, "Oh gee, when Hamilton talks about tyrants and demagogues, that sort of sounds similar to what's happening now. Let's pay attention to what he says we should do about it."

It's tempting to say that Hamilton foresaw what is happening now, but that's not entirely accurate: by his own admission, he was extrapolating what might happen from looking back at history and identifying patterns of what has gone wrong with democracies/republics[*](he actually wasn't too keen on the word/concept of "democracy"; to him, it meant something akin to "mob rule") in the past. But it wasn't just a matter of identifying what went wrong in the past; he made a concerted effort to put measures in the Constitution that would counteract the effects of demagoguery. He wanted to isolate and excise the cancer before it had a chance to metastasize--or, if that didn't work, to irradiate the cancer and force it into remission before it becomes terminal.

At the risk of belaboring the metaphor, Alexander Hamilton is the sociopolitical oncologist that we need to treat the sickness now threatening to destroy our country by consuming it from the inside out. But he can't help us if we only think about him when we happen to glance at a ten-dollar bill. For him to be able to help us, somebody had to help him first. And that someone is Lin-Manuel Miranda.[*](Well, there's plenty of credit to go around: Lin-Manuel Miranda needed Ron Chernow to write his biography of Alexander Hamilton, and Ron Chernow needed Eliza Hamilton to work for 50 years to preserve her husband's legacy, etc. But while these are valid points, they are peripheral to the larger point that I am trying to make.)

Therefore, I raise my glass to both of them. And to freedom.

Current Mood: didactic
Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
7:13 am
Turns out I owe Trevor Noah an apology
I was basing my criticism of the fact that he interviewed RWBBB on The Daily Show on the fact that Jon Stewart never interviewed Glenn Beck. However, I've learned from The Daily Show: The Book, which I received as a Christmas present, that Jon Stewart actually invited Glenn Beck onto The Daily Show, and Glenn Beck turned him down.

So I'm sorry, Trevor Noah: apparently, not interviewing crazies is not part of the standard that you're expected to uphold. I made a snap judgment without knowing all the facts; it was a mistake, and I will own up to it.

With that said, however--and I say this cautiously because I could well be proven wrong again--I don't remember Jon Stewart ever interviewing anyone who was quite as fond of spewing epithets and slurs as your little blonde friend. So I believe--I'm just saying--I still think you're doing a disservice to American discourse by normalizing/legitimizing her far-right views.

Current Mood: abashed
Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
9:40 am
Who-ther, you-ther?
So, Mayor Mike Huether made his big announcement yesterday, to remarkably little fanfare (so little fanfare, in fact, that they waited until the 6:00 newscast to report it). The announcement was that he is leaving the Democratic Party.

Before the reporters talked about it on the news, it appeared on a ticker of upcoming headlines as "Mike Huether changes political party," and I said "NOOOOOOO!" because I automatically assumed that he was going from Democrat to Republican. But it's not that at all; he's merely becoming an independent.

Let me explain what that means: there is, in this country, a political party actually called the Independent Party, but it's not recognized in South Dakota. To be registered as an independent in South Dakota merely means that you're registered to vote but not affliated with any political party.

It's a bold choice on the part of the mayor. While I admire it on a personal level, I don't know if it was a politically savvy move. If he intends (as I hope he does) to continue his political career, I can see pros and cons about it either way. On the one hand, you're losing the support--financial and otherwise--of a major political party, but on the other hand, you're making a statement to the voters: they can't just pigeonhole you, they're going to have to pay attention and think about who you are and what you stand for. I said before that being a Democratic former mayor of Sioux Falls isn't necessarily an advantage if you're trying to convince South Dakotans as a whole to vote for you; by taking this step, he's telling South Dakotans: "I'm not necessarily what you think I am, so don't dismiss me out of hand."

Again, I have little real knowledge and less interest in political science, so take my opinion with a giant grain of salt, but I think this indicates that he's more interested in running for governor in 2018 rather than running for the House of Representatives, simply because I think being part of a political party would be more to his advantage in the House race.

In any case, yesterday I said that he struck me as a man who isn't interested in being the pawn of a particular political party, and this more or less confirms that, as well as increases my respect for him.

Current Mood: intrigued
Monday, December 19th, 2016
11:03 am
Who-ther?
There was a report on the news last night that Mayor Mike Huether was supposed to make an "announcement" today that might be regarding his political future after his final term as mayor is up in two years. So today, I went online to find out (a) if the announcement had happened yet and, if not, (b) when the announcement would happen, and if it would be televised live so that I could watch it.

But not only can I not find out that information, I can't even find the original report that I watched last night. AUGH, the suspense! It's like being a little kid and not knowing whether or not Santa Claus will be coming to your house; and--even if he does come--not being sure that he will bring you a present.

I don't know if I'd rather have him run for governor or for Kristi Noem's soon-to-be-vacated House seat. I said before that I want him to run the race he has the best chance of winning, but I also think I'd like him to go where he will do the most good. I think we have a greater need for him in the House, because we really need people in Congress who will be willing to stand up to Trump, and I think Mike Huether is someone who is both willing and able to do that.

As an illustrative example: the city council recently passed a smoking ordinance that prohibits smoking at youth-oriented activities or something like that. I forget exactly what it says, but the idea behind it is to protect youth from secondhand smoke. Mayor Huether refused to sign it, saying that he doesn't think it goes far enough, because secondhand smoke doesn't just affect kids, it affects everyone. Now, it's important to note that he didn't veto it, and apparently--this is something that I learned specifically from this story--the mayor doesn't have to sign a law for it to go into effect; as long as the council passes it and the mayor DOESN'T veto it, it will go into effect and become law. So by not signing it, basically what Mayor Huether was saying that he wasn't opposed to the law but thinks that the City of Sioux Falls can do better.

The issue is a personal one to him because--per his own report--his dad died of smoking-related illness. So this whole scenario tells me two things about Mike Huether: (1) He's not afraid to take a principled stance; (2) He's willing to take a stand for family members, so he might be willing to lend a sympathetic ear to someone (such as myself) who also takes a stand to defend family members. And that, I think, is precisely the sort of person that we--both as South Dakotans and the nation as a whole--need in Congress, i.e. someone with a mind of his own, someone who is guided by both his mind and his heart; not someone who's a pawn to a political party or to campaign contributors.

Oh well. I guess I'll just have to see what the day brings.

Current Mood: SUSPENSE!
Thursday, December 15th, 2016
3:59 pm
PSA
Not everyone from South Dakota is a closed-minded bigot.

We may have given the world a media whore of a hate-spewing Barbie doll,[*](Which sounds like it should be the hot Christmas toy among the conservative set this holiday season) and a deceptively maternal, disingenuous, Sesame Street-hating congresswoman, but never forget that we also gave the world Tom Brokaw.

Not that Tom Brokaw is the only admirable figure we've ever produced--but I can't think of a better, or better-known, example of South Dakotan integrity.

As I live my life in South Dakota and fight back against bigotry as best I can, I've learned that even people who are capable of prejudice and closed-mindedness are also capable of kindness and open-heartedness. I have a story to share, and even though it happened in the summer, I think it's a good story to share at Christmastime, when we are supposed to be focused on peace and goodwill towards one another.

Once I was driving across the state, from the Black Hills to Aberdeen. I took US Highway 212 up to US Highway 12, which is the shortest route but also the most out-of-the way route in that it goes through the fewest towns of significant population. I stopped at a scenic overlook to eat lunch, and when I went to leave, my car was completely dead.

I was in the middle of nowhere. I had to walk at least three miles to find a house where someone was home, but I finally located a very nice ranch family, who not only let me use their phone, which was really all I was expecting, but also fed me lunch and drove back to the scenic overlook with me to see if they could fix my car (they couldn't, but I appreciated the effort).

I didn't have the number of a tow company off-hand, so I first called my dad and that took a while to arrange, and this family was very gracious to let me wait around in their living room while I was working out the logistics. While waiting, I picked up a coffeetable book that was sitting around, which consisted of photographs of various natural wonders, in conjunction with Bible verses "proving" that evolution isn't real. Also, the couple's son--a little boy about ten--was watching TV at the time, and from what I could tell it seemed to be a cable package constructed entirely by and for fundamentalist Christians, so that they never had to see anything objectionable--anything that they disagreed with--on TV.

So yes, this was a family with whom I disagreed on a lot of things, and who had a lot of views that I find frankly scary. On the other hand, they were a loving family that was willing to open their hearts and their home to a total stranger in need. They went above and beyond the expectations of hospitality in helping me, and I will be grateful to them forever.

Current Mood: reoriented
Tuesday, December 13th, 2016
8:21 am
Another one of those pesky facts:
TIME Magazine's Person of the Year is NOT an honor. It's merely a recognition of who had the biggest impact on the news that year: positive OR negative.

Although, TIME Magazine: if you don't want people to think it's an honor, maybe just run a file photo instead of having the bastard come in for a special photo shoot. Just sayin'.

Current Mood: angry
Monday, December 12th, 2016
11:27 pm
Noemesis
So...at 5:30 p.m., there was "breaking news" about Trumpazoid considering Kristi Noem to head the Department of Agriculture. By 10:30 it had been downgraded to "rumor"; she pretty much dismissed it out of hand. I mean, it may or may not be true that Trumpster is/was considering her, but apparently she won't even entertain the notion. And I can't blame her; I wouldn't take a job that brought me into close proximity with him either. At least she shot down the false hopes I was starting to have; I guess I can't say that Kristi Noem never did anything for me.

But the good news is that Noem is still planning to run for governor in 2018. Why is that good news? Of course, I have no wish to see her as governor, but I figure she could do a lot less damage as governor of the state of South Dakota than she could/does in the House of Representatives, so anything that gets her out of the House is okay by me. Moreover, I think the country in general, and South Dakota in particular, may be a little less enamoured with the Republican party by 2018; i.e., just because she runs doesn't mean she will win.

But why is she running for governor? Money and prestige. We recently passed a campaign finance reform bill here in South Dakota, which means that if Noem doesn't act quickly before the bill goes into effect, she'll only be able to transfer $4000 from her war chest to her gubernatorial campaign. All that NRA money wasted! And all those children would have died for nothing! As for the prestige, well, South Dakota has never had a female governor, so she would be the first: blah blah blah breakthrough, blah blah blah glass ceiling, obligatory feminist gushing, et cetera, et cetera.

Right now, I'm more interested in (a) who might be running against her for governor, and (b) who might be running for her House seat. I really hope Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether tries to fill one of those spots. He's a wonderful mayor and I would wholeheartedly support him for either--or both, if such a thing were possible. Basically, I'd like him to run the race that he has the best chance of winning...but I don't know which race that would be.

You see--and I realize this might not be an illuminating analogy for everyone--I have a theory that Sioux Falls is to South Dakota approximately what Austin is to Texas: an oasis of relative liberalism and free-thinking in a desert of knee-jerk conservatism.[*](Which is not to say that free-thinking is always a positive quality--not when it's expressed in the form of annoying billboards, for example.) Therefore, we sometimes get some mistrust and sidelong glances from the rest of the state. So being a Democratic former mayor of Sioux Falls may be a disadvantage to Huether rather than an advantage. That said, I've always found him to be rather moderate and, like I say, by the time 2018 rolls around, we may have quite a few disillusioned Republicans in existential crises, looking for answers elsewhere.

I just really hope he runs for something, because I want to do something to help. Right now there's so little that I can do: I mean, I have my blog, and I can write editorials and submit them to various publications, but I can't do anything directly to stop Trump; I can't do anything about the Cabinet or the Supreme Court; I can write letters to my representatives in Congress, but I have no confidence that they'll even be read, let alone change anyone's mind. If Mike Huether runs for another office--be it governor or House--then I can volunteer and take an active role, and even if it comes to nought, at least I could have the satisfaction of doing SOMETHING.

Now, I certainly could--and probably will--volunteer to help in any 2018 campaign, but it would just be nice to volunteer to help someone whom I really believe in, rather than just, "oh, you're not Kristi Noem/not Republican; you'll do."

Current Mood: frustrated
4:22 pm
Alexander Hamilton is stalking me
Okay, after buying Hamilton-related merchandise on Amazon, I wasn't surprised to get Hamilton-related recommendations. That made sense. I don't like it, particularly, but it makes sense.

But then, this morning I was looking at the library website to see if they had any DVDs of the anthology of Shakespeare's history plays called The Hollow Crown. So I typed "hollow crown" into the library's catalog search and got only one result: Duel with the devil : the true story of how Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr teamed up to take on America's first sensational murder mystery.

What? For once, I wasn't even looking for anything Hamilton related! Hammie, old chap, you're dogging me non-stop! Take a break!

Seriously, though, what are the odds?

At first, I was puzzled because--as far as I know--the library website doesn't keep track of things like browsing history to recommend things based on your interests, the way commercial websites do. I did, eventually, figure out why it hit with my search criteria: the publisher is Crown Publishing, and the word "hollow" appears in the name of one of the chapters.

It looks like a good book, though, and I put in a hold request for it. Even though I wasn't actually looking for it, I'm glad that I found it.

Current Mood: amused
Thursday, December 8th, 2016
3:00 pm
Hey! Trevor Noah! Listen to this:


Hey! Trevor Noah! Are you paying attention? He's talking to you, too.

And don't try to dodge it by saying you're not a "real" news show. Seth didn't specifically say "news media"; he just said "media," and you're a part of that.

So please--PLEASE!--in the name of all that is decent, stop interviewing hatemongers like Tomi Whatever-her-last-name-is on The Daily Show.

Look: it's one thing to interview someone who has a disagreeable but valid viewpoint. It's another thing to interview someone who does nothing but spew offensive epithets in every direction in the name of the First Amendment. In the former instance, you're adding to the discourse. In the latter instance, you're just providing a forum to a crazy person and lending legitimacy to her hateful rhetoric.

You said at one point that you admire What's-Her-Name because "she's so good at what she does!" I'm sorry, but how can someone be "good" at hate speech? Isn't that kind of like being "good" at kicking puppies? Isn't that kind of like being "good" at stuffing bodies into a wood chipper? Isn't that kind of like being "good" at operating the gas chamber at a concentration camp?

Is there a right way to do a morally reprehensible thing?

I have a lot more to say about why it was a mistake for you to interview that right-wing, bleach-blonde bitch on your show, but between my day job and the fact that my entire family is gathering at my house next week to celebrate Christmas a week early, I don't have time right now. But don't you forget: the fact that you now sit in Jon Stewart's chair does NOT mean you've inherited his throne. When you sit in that chair and you host The Daily Show, you're expected to uphold certain standards. You interview liberals, you interview conservatives, you interview centrists; you don't interview the crazies, no matter where they are oriented on the spectrum. You treat your guests with respect, you have civilized discourse, and when they go low, you go high; but you don't interview the crazies. You mock the crazies, you satirize the crazies, you refute the crazies. You do not interview them, you do not give them a forum, and you DO NOT legitimize their insane views.

Look, Trevor: I like you. You have the herculean task of trying to replace Jon Stewart, the most beloved political commentator of this or any other century, and you've done a fairly good job under nearly impossible circumstances. Sometimes your coverage is even more in-depth and more useful to me than Seth Meyers'.

But don't push your luck. Like a baseball umpire, I'm watching you with a critical eye. The domestic-violence joke on Twitter was strike one, interviewing Terrible Tomi was strike two. One more, and you're out.

Current Mood: angry
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
4:04 pm
Disturbing happenings in Sioux Falls, big and small
(But not related to politics, thankfully.)

BigCollapse )
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Current Mood: disturbed
Thursday, December 1st, 2016
5:37 pm
Matter of perspective
There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump's presidential bid was purely the product of his own megalomania. However, I wonder sometimes why Republicans have allowed him to grab their party by the pussy.[*](Sorry, I had to go there; the wordplay was too perfect.) I have several theories, one of which is that they tolerate him because he makes some of their old-school vanguard seem more appealing by comparison.

Take Mitt Romney, for example. While running for president in 2012, he threatened Big Bird on the campaign trail, thereby marking himself as perhaps second only to Fred Phelps as the most evil American who has ever lived. Or so I thought at the time, but Trump makes Romney look like Mr. Rogers, which is ironic given Romney's contempt for public television.

This represents the feelings I had toward Romney in 2012. This represents the feelings I have toward Romney in 2016. What a difference four years makes.

I don't even mind watching Romney flushing away all his credibility by kowtowing to Trump, whom he has previously denounced as a conman and a fraud, in the hopes of getting a Cabinet seat. Just the idea of an actual grown-up, a relative voice of sanity, in the Cabinet is a reassuring prospect--which, admittedly, is a sad commentary in itself.

With that said, I don't think Romney has a chance in hell of being made Secretary of State or getting any other Cabinet post. I think Trump just enjoys making him dance-monkey-dance.[*](There are certain ironies in my making that reference: 1. Trump and Romney actually dined on frog legs, which makes me fear for Constantine's safety; 2. Ricky Gervais is an unlikely Mitt Romney but would make a terrific Donald Trump, insofar as they are both lumpy-faced and evil.)

Current Mood: snarky
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016
7:57 am
Reaping what you've sown
Glenn Beck reacts to Steve Bannon's appointment as Trump's chief strategist.

Well, here are four words I never thought I would write: Glenn Beck is right.

With that said, Glenn Beck, get off your high horse and stop pretending that all this isn't partially your fault.

You're the one who went on TV and drew confusing diagrams on chalkboards while spouting logically fallacious and delusionally paranoid diatribes about "progressives ... want[ing] to control every aspect of your life." You're the one who cheapened antifascist rhetoric by equating everyone and everything that you don't like with Nazism. And when your insane rantings became too off-putting even for Fox News and they cancelled your show, you're the one who compared yourself to Paul Revere, who "got off the horse at some point and fought in the revolution."

Guess what, Glenn Beck: THIS is your revolution. It may not be what you wanted, but this Trump/Bannon regime with its "freedom-from" rhetoric is what you asked for.

You have opened Pandora's box. You have grasped the monkey's paw. As you have sown, so do you now reap.

Now, Glenn Beck, if you're ready to come to your senses and join the good guys' side--if you're ready to fight for "freedom-to" rather than "freedom-from"--then welcome, and glad to have you. But don't be surprised if nobody takes you seriously. You have cried "wolf" just a little too often.
Monday, November 21st, 2016
9:12 am
I wanna be in the room where it happened
I'll admit that I came late to Hamilton, and I regret the time that it took me to get with it, but I am so grateful to Lin-Manuel Miranda for creating this show; not only for providing a beacon of hope in these dark times, but for providing the perfect rhetorical tools to deal with the current political situation.

So, I was interested to see that the big news story over the weekend was that VP-to-be Mike Pence went to see the show and caused something of a stir. He endured some boos from the audience when he entered the theater and, by his own report, said to the family members who were with him, "That's what freedom sounds like."

No reports of him adding, "...and we are going to snuff it out at all costs." So...I guess that's something.

The cast knew he was in the audience and--fittingly enough--decided not to throw away their shot; following curtain call, they addressed Pence directly from the stage, expressing concern about the direction the incoming administration may be taking the country. Go look it up; it's magnificent. Better yet, watch it here. That's what patriotism sounds like.

Trumpzilla apparently wasn't very happy about it, but Pence doesn't seem to mind. Moreover, he's raving about the show itself and telling everyone who asks him about it to go see it. This while certain other Republicans/killjoys are up in figurative arms encouraging a boycott, which is hilarious.[*](It's sold out through August 2017. That's not a boycott; that's sour grapes.)

But the best part of this story for me is the reaction from the other audience members. I can't find video of it now, but there was one lady who was all offended and saying something to the effect of, "I just came to see Hamilton; I don't want to hear about politics!" I'm sorry, lady, but what exactly did you think Hamilton is about? That's like saying, "I just wanted to see Les Miserables, I don't want to hear about poor people!" Or like saying, "I just wanted to see Cats; I don't want to see people in furry costumes crawling all over everything and singing incomprehensibly pretentious lyrics!"

It's nice to have a bright spot in these dark and difficult times, but don't get distracted from the more important stories:


Current Mood: delighted
Sunday, November 20th, 2016
4:52 pm
If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?
About four weeks ago--i.e., before the election--I watched a program on PBS called "Hamilton's America," which was a documentary about the musical but also about the man whose life inspired it, Alexander Hamilton. To fill in that side of the story, they interviewed not only historians but also current political figures. Here is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on the subject of The Federalist Papers:

"I've read the Federalist Papers many times over. As an elected official, as a person who takes office by swearing oath to the Constitution, I pretty much want to know what that means, right? And so it's important not only to understand what the Constitution is but to understand what the principles are behind it."
Good one, Paul Ryan! You almost had me going there. You, with your big, blue eyes and boyish good looks and soothing Midwestern cadences, talking about principles as though you had any, talking about the Constitution as though it was something you actually cared about; you almost got me to believe that you were a thoughtful, knowledgable, reasonable lawmaker with the country's best interests at heart. Well played, sir. Well played!

Recently, when the president-elect announced he was appointing a known bigot and demagogue to his cabinet, you were asked if you had any concerns about the appointment. And you said no.

You know what you are, Paul Ryan? You, sir, are Cornelius Fudge. You may not recognize the reference. I would say that you are Neville Chamberlain, but I think that might be unfair to Neville Chamberlain.

To put the matter more clearly, though less originally: You are blinded by the love of the office you hold. You put too much importance on loyalty to your party, rather than loyalty to your country. I tell you now--take a stand now against Trump and Bannon, and you will be remembered, in office or out, as one of the bravest and greatest Speakers of the House we have ever known. Fail to act--and history will remember you as the man who stepped aside and allowed a loudmouth bigot and his fascist cronies a chance to destroy the country we have worked nearly two and a half centuries to build.

History has its eyes on you.

Current Mood: disgusted
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