Throw the Bloody Ball

The Donald will not be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for the Nationals’ baseball season this year.

Big deal. There are more important things to worry about, like his systematic destruction of the EPA, the selling of your internet privacy, the fact that his campaign almost certainly colluded with Russia and Republicans in Washington seem perfectly happy to look the other way.

But for an image-conscious president (and the DT is nothing if not image-conscious), this bloody well is a big deal.

Throwing out the first pitch is just another in a long line of Things Presidents Do that Donny has given the middle finger to. His staff says he’s busy, which is weak tea. When you ask somebody out and they say,  “sorry, I’m washing my hair that night,” you know there will be no hair-washing that night. Of course he’s busy. The president — and put aside the tepid list of his accomplishments thus far — is always busy. But you make time for things that matter, things that remind the country you’re a person, things which are symbolic. Which is why presidents have been doing This Thing for a century.

Baseball? The national pastime? As American as baseball? Nah. He’s busy.

I’ll put aside petty personal jabs about whether or not he could even get the ball across the plate (though for the record, my assessment there is: doubtful — tiny hands and all). The real reason?

He’d get booed.

Mercilessly. For an extended period. By a stadium full of people. On national TV.

Not by everybody, to be sure. There would be Trump fans in attendance. But a baseball game isn’t a Trump rally; he wouldn’t be insulated from the people who can’t stand him if he stepped out into the unfiltered masses of a ball game. He’d be stepping out of the warm, pillowy bubble of support that he lives in and going out into the harsh reality of the world.

He knows what his approval ratings are, even if he calls them fake news.

For Trump, it’d be stepping out into the desert.

He knows that if he steps onto that field and takes that mound, he’d be met with a chorus of boos unlike anything he’s ever heard in his life. And he can’t have it. His massive ego would blow out like the Snoopy balloon at the Macy’s parade. The narrative that “real Americans” support DT would unravel like a Christmas sweater the moment he met some real real Americans at a baseball game. Because unlike a Trump rally, a baseball game actually represents a pretty decent cross-section of a community.

And getting booed on a massive scale like that would shatter him, and shatter the cocoon he’s spun around himself.

Supporters can make all the excuses they want — this doesn’t matter, he has bigger fish to fry, etc — and they’re right, in writing. In the scheme of things, what this thing literally is doesn’t matter. But we also have to face reality.

Things always mean things, and it’s a “ceremonial” first pitch for a reason. This could be a humanizing moment for him. Symbols have that kind of power. Just being there would do wonders for his image, and who cares how the actual pitch goes? Obama’s was terrible, and he got booed, but he took it like a man. It’s not about the pitch, it’s about the moment, the optics. DT could do the same thing. Show some humility, some appreciation, some willingness to actually connect with people. Do a Thing Presidents Do instead of just letting Bannon take a dump in a blender and then turning the blender on in the middle of our democracy.

But no thanks. He’s busy.

And, come on. Odds are he couldn’t do worse than some of the worst first pitches in history.

Image result for baseball pitch fail gif

On a Trump Victory (welp, that happened)

I guess this is what the Brexit felt like.

Image result for dumbledore welp

What else is there to do for a guy like me on a morning like this, but go for a run under the early morning stars and try to write some things down?

Unfortunately, of course, the stars don’t have any answers for the questions I’m asking today — what went wrong? how could this happen? what the hell do we do now? — in fact, the stars themselves are hidden behind a smoky veil of clouds, like they don’t want to think about it either.

But we have to think about it. We have to deal with the reality that’s been plopped on our plate like a pile of cafeteria mystery meat.

So what do we do?

Well, for one, we can’t rise to the bait. We non-Trumpers are going to face a fair bit of heckling and bragging, and we’re going to have to weather that. Fair’s fair, after all, and we bragged for months that this was impossible. Well, it happened. Let’s not cry about it. Let’s swallow what’s left of our pride and move on.

That means, for better or worse, letting go of Hillary. She needs to retire in the country, or to a mountainside, or to her own private island. I know a lot of us were pretty excited about the prospect of her presidency. But an enormous portion of the country (a majority, as it turns out) were not so jazzed. Even many of her supporters were less than enthusiastic about her as a candidate. Is that fair? Is it justified? Hard to say. The Republican hate machine has been working against the Clintons for decades, and the slime is all over everything. Yes, we’re due for a woman president. But it’s clearly not going to be this woman. Let her go. Give somebody else a shot.

And we’re not going to do ourselves any favors demonizing Trump more than we’ve done. That case has been made, it’s been heard, and it’s been dismissed. The fact that he’s a misogynist, a bully, and a political opportunist has been established, and it turns out, people don’t care.

Nor will it help, either, to bash his supporters. At the end of the day, they are people with hopes and dreams and fears and thoughts about the state of the world we live in, and they made their voices loud and clear. This is their right, regardless of what you might think of what they have to say. The man managed to galvanize his support in a way that Hillary simply couldn’t — helped along in no small part by the case the GOP has been making against her, again, for decades. What the race came down to, I think, is that his supporters felt a lot more strongly about putting him in office and keeping Hillary out than Hillary’s people did, and that’s why they turned out when it mattered. But at this point, it doesn’t much matter how he got there. What matters is that he is there.

So all that’s left is for those of us on the other side to be good skeptics. Republicans are going to find out whether they actually want what they’ve bought and paid for in Trump very, very fast. The rest of us have to watch this thing as it develops and be willing to be proved wrong on some of the horrible things we said about Trump. For instance: is he actually going to attempt to build the wall he promised? Is he actually going to shut down all Muslim ingress to the country? Is he actually going to try to reverse gay marriage? I suspect that he won’t. Pragmatism will dictate that, now that he’s in power, he will have to stay within certain lanes, and there are some things that just can’t be done.

That doesn’t mean I think he’s going to pull a perfect about-face on the things he’s said. But let’s not forget that he famously said in 2008 that, if he ever ran, he’d do so as a Republican. Not because of his ideology, but because of the voters.

I still believe, 100% and unwavering until I see some good evidence to the contrary, that Trump is in this thing for Trump.

Maybe that means that, now that he has it, he’ll put his feet up on the desk and delegate the actual ruling to people who actually know what they’re talking about. Yes, in the meantime, those will be Republicans, but we can only deal with so much heartburn first thing in the morning.

I reassured my wife this morning by pointing out that realistically, I don’t think much changes for us. We’re heteronormative white folks, after all. (And I feel a little bit dirty and shortsighted, pointing that out, but we can’t change our stripes.) But there is a fight to be had if (and more likely, when) Trump and co. come for the rights of people with less privilege.

And it’s a fight that we have to be ready for.

We won’t help ourselves out by being ridiculously hyperbolic, though there will certainly be a lot of that in the coming weeks. We haven’t lost our country. This is not the end of freedom. The atmosphere hasn’t turned into chlorine gas overnight, the bastions of democracy aren’t burning.

The sun still rose this morning.

We just have to stay vigilant. It’s up to Republicans to hold Trump’s feet to the fire and make sure he behaves himself in office.

And it’s up to the rest of us to regroup, figure out what went wrong, and fix it for the next time around.


A Last-Chance Election Post

I’ve made it a point not to write about the election around here for a while. Partly it’s because I’m not an expert (and my lack of expertise is surely readily apparent to anybody who has read a word of my election-related drabble), partly it’s because I’m sure it was tiresome (how much can you really say about these two deplorables that hasn’t been said in this election season), and partly it’s because I needed to preserve my own sanity — nothing frays your edges like trying to make logical sense of people who aren’t using logic to guide their actions.

The fact is, I’ve been puzzled by Trump supporters from the word go in this thing. (I’m puzzled by some Hillary supporters, too, but more on that later.) This is a man who made it obvious to anybody who was paying attention — pretty early on even in the primaries — that he didn’t know or care much about policy, that he was painfully (maybe even dangerously) ignorant on foreign and military matters, and that he would say or tweet anything if his opponents poked him the right way.

And the farther we went, the worse it got. Not only did we learn that he’s simply unprepared, by almost any measure, for the office, but he’s been revealed to be an even worse human being than we all thought. Responding to questions about his pretty detestable attack on Ted Cruz’s wife with “he started it.” Posting his nonsense about  former Miss Universe and encouraging the whole of the country to look up a sex tape. Mocking the disabled.Claiming that a judge of questionable lineage couldn’t rule fairly on his court case. Claiming that the election is rigged. And then there was the so-called “boys on the bus” video, wherein the man literally bragged to a fanboying idiot about sexually assaulting women.

His apologists can spin it any way they want. They can divert and argue, well, Hillary is WORSE. But you can polish a turd only so much. The man is a joke and an embarrassment. And even if you think he’ll blow up the system and that’s what the system needs (and that may be true!), it’s hard to get around the fact that electing the man president is a more-or-less tacit endorsement of everything he’s done, everything he’s said, and everything he represents.

I really don’t know how Republicans can swallow that.

But in the waning days of the election, polls show that the race is tightening. His numbers are growing. And he may well have a chance at winning this thing.

What that tells me is that politically and ideologically, things in this country are as bad as ever. It tells me what I began to fear about a month ago: that the Republicans who took the moral stand, who stood up and said no, this man does not and cannot represent us, party loyalty be damned, are suddenly going weak in the knees. When it comes right down to it, even those Republicans whom Trump alienated are going to walk up to the voting booth, look at that binary choice between Trump and Clinton, and pull the lever for Trump. Not because they like him. But because they’re Republicans, and voting party is just what we do. Everything is us versus them. Trench warfare. Never give an inch.

Maybe it’s about the Supreme Court. Maybe it’s about his stand on terrorism (which, at least on rhetorical terms, is stronger than Hillary’s — he at least calls the spade of Islamic terrorism a spade, even if he takes it to ridiculous and unfounded extremes). Maybe it’s because they’ve bought into the Republican crusade against Hillary that has raged for decades.

Whatever the reason, on the day, they’re going to return to the party, much like the Blob reforming itself after being hacked to bits with an axe. (And Trump has most certainly done that to the Republican party.)

And I get it. Hillary’s not a good candidate. I wish there were another democrat to vote for. People who get all glowy-faced and glassy-eyed when they talk about Hillary? I don’t get that either. She’s a politician who represents basically every unsavory thing we associate with politicians: corruption, cover-ups, political flexibility for expediency’s sake. The e-mail thing is a legitimate and real problem for anybody considering a Hillary vote.

But it’s Hillary or Trump.

don’t fear that she’s going to feed our entire democratic system into the wood chipper the way I fear Trump will. I don’t fear that she’ll feel slighted by a foreign power and reach for the nuclear button the way I fear Trump will.  I don’t fear that she’ll abuse the power of her office to jail political opponents or shut down critics in the press the way Trump has explicitly said he will.

This race is bigger than party. I feel for the Republicans — like my own parents! — who are crushed in between the rock of party loyalty and the hard place of voting for the orange monster. It sucks that he’s the guy for Republicans this time around.

But he is.

Which is why all of us who recognize how dangerous he is have to, have to, have to vote.

We see the most recent polls. We know he’s getting a late surge.

We have to surge harder. We have to stand up and say that hate is not okay in a president. That idiocy is not okay in a president. That narcissism and degradation of women and unhinged twitter rants and the constant threat of violence and censorship and and and… these things cannot be synonymous with the American president.

Don’t waste your vote on a third party. While that sends a message (maybe), the fact is that one of these two evils will be president. And making sure Trump is not president is immeasurably more important than whatever message a third-party vote sends.

It’s okay to vote for the lesser of two evils.

In fact, if we think ahead to what might be, one could easily say that voting for the lesser of two evils is a moral imperative.

We need less evil in this world.

We need less evil people like Trump.

That’s why I’m with her.

(As half-heartedly as possible.)


Locker Room Talk

There’s been a lot of talk about “locker room talk” the past couple of days. But I don’t think any of the people talking about this so-called “locker room talk” actually know how people talk in locker rooms. (For the most part, guys don’t talk in locker rooms — they’re trying too hard not to catch an eyeful of old man scrotum.)

So to clarify what actual locker room talk might sound like, I reimagined a certain prominent recent conversation as it might more conceivably play out.

Please to enjoy.


Two men, on opposite ends of “middle aged”, meet in a locker room. A TV in the corner plays entertainment news.

Tronald: Hey.

Billiam: Hi.

Tronald: (gesturing towards the TV) You see her?

Billiam: Hmm? Oh. Yeah. Who’s that? She looks familiar.

Tronald: Ancy O’Dale. Pretty hot, right?

Billiam: Sure.

Tronald: I put a move on her, once.

Billiam: Who, the girl on TV?

Tronald: That’s right. Bought her some furniture.

Billiam: You — what? I thought you said you put a move on her.

Tronald: Yup.

Billiam: So … you bought her furniture? That was the move?

Tronald: I have a lot of money.

Billiam: I see.

Tronald: She was married, though.

Billiam: Wait. She was married when you put the move — when you bought her furniture?

Tronald: Sure. I was, too. I tried to bang her. Came up short.

Billiam: That’s … not cool. Why would you hit on a married woman? Especially when you were married yourself?

Tronald: Well, I had just gotten married.

Billiam: That’s even worse!

Tronald: Eh. It was only my third marriage.

Billiam: Jesus.

Tronald: Hey, do you have any mints? I could really go for a Tic-Tac.

Billiam: Um, I might, let me check.

Tronald: I get that bad breath, you know what I mean? I’m doing this interview in a few minutes, and you never know what might happen.

Billiam: I really don’t need to know. (Finds mints, offers them.) Here.

Tronald: Thanks, guy. (He tilts most of the pack into his mouth, crunches them loudly.) I might try to kiss this one, I don’t know.

Billiam: Huh? I thought you said you were doing an interview?

Tronald: Sure, but I just love women, you know? If she’s beautiful, I might just try to kiss her. I can’t help myself.

Billiam: Whoa. Stop. You’re just meeting this woman for the first time, and you think you might try to kiss her?

Tronald: I meet beautiful women all the time. As often as I can. I run beauty pageants, you know. Part of the deal. Sometimes I try to kiss them, sometimes I don’t. Just depends how I feel.

Billiam: What about how they feel?

Tronald: What do you mean?

Billiam: The women. You just kiss them? I mean, the ones you feel chemistry with, or … I really don’t understand.

Tronald: No, no chemistry. I just see a beautiful woman, I try to kiss her.

Billiam: That’s … a little rapey, isn’t it?

Tronald: It’s all right. They don’t mind. I’m a star. I can do whatever I want. Grab them by the pussy, whatever.*

Billiam: The — WHAT?

Tronald: What?

Billiam: Dude, that’s actual sexual assault. You know that, right?

Tronald: You want to come with me? I can get you one, too.

Billiam: No. NO. Who the hell even are you, anyway?

Tronald: I’m running for president.

(Billiam just stares, dumbfounded.)

Tronald: Can I count on your vote?

Billiam, now dressed, scurries out to tell all his friends not to vote for serial abusers, as though such a thing had to be said.


**I just want to tell you how uncomfortable it makes me to use the word, even when quoting somebody who, I feel, is a totally reprehensible excuse for a human. But we can’t go mincing words, and we can’t go pretending total jerks didn’t say the things they actually said, live, on video.

Heads Against Walls

Why am I still watching news about Donald Trump?

Why did I stay up late — on my vacation, even — to watch Monday’s debate?

Why do I know what’s been said on both sides about this latest scandal, the beauty queen and what he said about her?

Why do I keep reading like an intern trying to break the big story, clicking every damn headline that has the word “Trump” in it?

He looked into building in Cuba during the embargo. His foundation doesn’t have the proper paperwork. He might have drunk the blood of puppies to get that lovely orange glow. (This isn’t verified, but he would deny it, which basically makes it true.)

Unless you’re new around here, you probably know that I basically made up my mind in this election months ago, when it became clear that Trump would win the Republican nomination. Notice I said when it became clear he would win, not before the primaries ever took place. I tend toward the liberal side of the spectrum, but I might have — and possibly even probably would have — voted for a Marco Rubio or a Jeb Bush over Clinton, who, whether it’s justified or not, does not have a reputation for trustworthiness.

But as soon as Trump became the Republican running man, the Democrats could have put up a trained chimp, for all I care.

Fine and good. I, like most, have made up my mind, and at this point, that opinion might as well be cast in stone.

And yet, like a suburbanite to a Starbucks, I keep coming back. I don’t know why. And that kind of scares me.

Because, in my heart of hearts, I still believe that Trump might not actually want to win this thing. I still suspect, as I have from the beginning, that his campaign is about increasing his own visibility and putting his name in people’s mouths. The “no such thing as bad publicity” principle.

Which means that anything we say to one another only helps this man to get what he wants. And I am not okay with that. Which is why I’ve been relatively silent on the matter for a while.

But dammit, this sharknado is coming to a head, now. It looks very much like the news cycle will consist of Donald Trump first and everything else happening in the world second from now until the election, even though by all accounts, the two sides in this election are fixed in amber. Clinton supporters aren’t going to switch and go for Trump. Trump supporters aren’t going to switch and go for Clinton. All that’s left is the (somehow) undecided people in the middle.

But here’s the problem with that. (For non-Trump supporters.)

With a normal candidate, any strike, any ding on their record, any scandal can do serious damage to their image and their perception. But not Trump. There are so many scandals, so many scars, so many warts all over him already — what harm can another scandal possibly do? How much difference does a single grain of sand make when added to the Gobi desert?

I know the irony is rich here, but I just want to draw attention to the fact that I think any attention drawn to Donald Trump is a mistake. Which is why I won’t be doing it again.

I hope.