I could vote for Trump.

Today, when all hell has broken loose for the Republican Party, a lot of my friends on social media are asking why so many conservatives have announced that they are appalled by everything The Donald says and does but are still going to vote for him. I understand their confusion. On the other hand, I understand the Trump supporters (at least among the intelligent conservatives) and why they might vote the way they do.

I understand them because, if Donald Trump  were a Democrat, I’d vote for him too.

I know most of us like to think that we Democrats would not produce such a horrific candidate. We’re too intelligent. We’re too enlightened. And while it is true that we are not going to support a xenophobic, racist, overtly misogynistic con man, we could well support a con man of another stripe. The Donald took over the Republican Party; he could have, by shifting his positions (positions which seem to have been never firmly fixed until recently), taken over the Democratic Party by energizing disaffected youth and others who feel shut out by the political system. Bernie Sanders did just that, albeit far more benignly. If it’s useful to remember that Trump only became a Republican a few years ago, it’s also useful to remember that Sanders became a Democrat only last year. (The threat of a demagogue hijacking our party is the best reason I can think of for closed primaries.)

Although I naively used to think that progressives were immune to openly nasty misogyny, the past year has shown me how wrong I was. The Bernie Bros spewed misogynist invective almost as nasty as anything the Republicans threw out. There were also plenty of tin-foil conspiracy theories floating around: namely that the fix was in, and that The Powers That Be in the party had decided in advance that Hillary would be the nominee. (How that was supposed to happen when the party did not control the election process is beyond me, and probably beyond any of them. The difference is that I care about actual truth, not the bizarro imaginings percolating in my divorced from reality brain.) (And no, I am not by any stretch of the imagination implying that ALL Sanders’ supporters were like that. A lot of calm, rational people were Bernie fans; then again, on the other side, there are some calm, rational Trump supporters, too.)

But as I said, if by some awful set of circumstances a Trumpian demagogue ended up the Democratic nominee, I would support him (or her).

I wouldn’t be voting for them, of course; I would be voting for whomever they placed in that empty Supreme Court Seat. I would be voting for whomever they nominate to fill the other couple of Supreme Court seats most likely to come open in the next four years. I would be voting for the ninety-eight judges (thirty-nine if you assume all pending nominations would finally be approved)  they would place up and down the line in the federal judiciary.

I would be voting for whomever they named Secretary of State, and Treasury, and Attorney General. I would be hoping (perhaps unwisely) that someone like Trump isn’t really interested in running the country, just enjoying the trappings of the role, and that they would surround themselves with people who actually know what they are doing.

More importantly, I would be voting to prevent the other candidate’s nominees from taking office. Because while whomever my guy in that situation would nominate is a crapshoot, whomever the other side would nominate isn’t. As a progressive, would you really want a rabidly anti-choice, pro big-business éminence grise determining  the shape of the courts for generations? Not to mention the other dangers (another war in the Middle East anyone?) that might befall the country during those four years.

What about the Interior? Would you want a Secretary willing to sell off Bureau of Land Management lands to ranchers out West, for far less than they’re worth? Would you want an EPA headed by an Administrator looking to relax standards on drinking water? Would you like an Antitrust Division in Justice that would look the other way when already huge companies merge to become behemoths? Or a Civil Rights Division completely gutted? You might shrug off a USDA that let food inspection lapse completely on the grounds that market incentives would be enough to force meat producers to police themselves — that is, until you ended up in the  hospital in serious condition from an e. coli infection.

All of this underscores what Presidential elections are really about: shaping the government. And why it is so important that all of us vote.

That same scenario (albeit from the opposite angle) holds true for the other side. So yes,  I understand why some of Trump’s supporters stand by him. I even have a little bit of sympathy for them.

Not a lot, though.


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My soundtrack.

I can’t write about politics today. I know for whom I am going to vote, and many, many others are writing far better than I could about the dangers of electing a narcissistic, xenophobic, ignorant bully to the most powerful position in the world.

I can’t write about Black Lives Matter. It’s not my story to tell; it is my role to listen, and support people and communities of color, and grieve those killed senselessly by law enforcement.

I can’t even write about the weather today: every day hotter than normal makes me think of climate change and what is going to happen if Donald Trump gets elected. I will probably not live to see the worst effects of global warming, but my children and grandchildren will, and I worry about them.

So, instead, I am writing about something slight and unimportant — the music that shapes and defines who I am. My process for selecting songs was more or less random: I went through my iTunes library and went “Oh, yes, that one, definitely.” I managed to whittle the list down to sixteen, and that was tricky, believe me. So here goes:

“Travelin’ Thru,” Dolly Parton
“My Church,” Maren Morris
“Brain Damage/Eclipse,” Pink Floyd
“Kyrie,” Mister Mr.
“Corner of the Sky,” from Pippin
“Life Support,” from Rent
“Man of La Mancha,” from Man of La Mancha
“Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” Jimmy Buffet (also, “Boat Drinks.”)
“I Am What I Am,” from La Cage Aux Folles
“I Miss the Mountains,” from Next to Normal
“The Moon and St. Christopher,” Mary Chapin Carpenter.
“Hotel California,” The Eagles
“Light One Candle,” Peter, Paul, and Mary
“Let It Go,” pick an artist — my favorite version is by Pentatonix
“Brave,” Sara Bareilles
“Do It Anyway,” Ben Folds Five

The songs fall into several categories: life history (“Changes in Latitudes,” “The Moon and St. Christopher,” “Hotel California”), and difficulties I have had to overcome (“Brain Damage,” “I Miss the Mountains”).

The biggest category is aspirational: what I want (“My Church,” “Kyrie,” “Corner of the Sky”), who I want to be, (“Brave,” “Let It Go,” “I Am What I Am”),  and what matters to me (“Light One Candle”).

And then there is “Travelin’ Thru.” If I were to identify one anthem for both who I am and who I want to be, as well as what I value most, both in myself and in others, it would be this beautiful ode to acceptance both of yourself and other people.

Who I am:

God made me for a reason and nothing is in vain
Redemption comes in many shapes with many kinds of pain

Who I want to be:

Questions I have many, answers but a few
But we’re here to learn, the spirit burns, to know the greater truth
We’ve all been crucified and they nailed Jesus to the tree
And when I’m born again, you’re gonna see a change in me

And most importantly, what I want  for all of us:

Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on
But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone
When everything is broken, we can mend it if we try
We can make a world of difference, if we want to we can fly

When I make a playlist to get me through difficult times, I always add this song. When I look at the world, and I see darkness all around me, I listen to this song. I have been known to sit with this song in my car repeating over and over when life seems overwhelming.

“Travelin’ Thru” brings me hope that we can all get through it, whatever “it” is, if we just find each other and work together. I know that right now that seems impossible, but I have to hope we can  get through this.

My music gives me that hope.





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In my friend Jane’s Facebook page a extremely conservative college classmate of hers stated, in regard to voter ID laws, “Why would someone refuse to show ID unless they were going to cheat?”

Why, indeed? Maybe because…

They are an elderly person in the South who was born at home, for whom birth records are scarce to non-existent.

They are an elderly woman who can get hold of her birth certificate, but can’t produce a marriage certificate to show her legal name change.

They are a person of any age whose records were destroyed by a fire or natural disaster.

They don’t have a driver’s license, and the only DMV where they can get their voter ID is forty miles away and only open one day a month.

Their state has 9,300 polling places but only seventy-one DMV offices.

They go to the state office and the government officials keep changing what documentation they want.

They are a college student, and their state university ID is not sufficient, but the paranoid survivalist in the next apartment with the four handguns and two long guns (one of which is an AR-15) can use a concealed carry permit as ID.

These requirements affect mainly the poor and the elderly, although not exclusively. (I was born in Louisiana, and am very careful to keep my passport current, because I am concerned about the state of fifty-year old records from Jefferson Parish post-Katrina.) Race is big factor: as Judge Diana Gribbon Motz observed, the requirements in the North Carolina voter ID bill were crafted with “almost surgical precision” to affect African-American voters. (Pro-tip for state legislators: if you request racially broken-down demographic data, and plan your voting restrictions accordingly, you cannot then claim the restrictions are not race-based and have intelligent people believe you.)

One only has to look at the other provisions of these laws to know that safeguarding the sanctity of elections is not their purpose. How does eliminating Saturday voting and reducing the time for early voting make the election process more secure from fraud? It doesn’t. What about eliminating out of precinct voting? Voters voting out of precinct have to cast provisional ballots, and if anything  provisionals are more closely scrutinized than regular ballots. These provisions hurt working people who can get off on a Saturday but can’t on election day, or who can vote near their workplace easier than they can by their home, or even just have moved and haven’t had an opportunity to update their registration. These laws don’t touch vote by mail, which is no more secure (and possibly  less so) than ballots cast at the polls. The difference is that vote by mail is used more by older voters and white voters – voters likely to vote Republican — than minority voters.

Furthermore, even if we were to take state legislatures at their word and assume that these laws are aimed at preventing identify fraud, they are baseless. There have been fewer than one hundred confirmed cases of voter impersonation in the past ten years during which billions of votes have been cast. Unless they want to argue that people have simply not been caught (in which case, how did THEY know about it?) such laws are a massive overreaction to a virtually non-existent problem.

To claim that the only reason people don’t show ID is that they are going to cheat is naive, at the very least. It demonstrates white privilege, and class privilege, and a lack of understanding that life is different for people not so fortunate. I wish that telling people like my friend’s friend about what others go through would help them acknowledge that the voter ID laws, whatever their intention (giving her and others the benefit of the doubt), serve to disenfranchise many thousands of voters while having no real impact on the security of the election, but I doubt that’s going to happen.

If only.

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Jim Wright, one of my go-to bloggers for intelligent analysis, writes, with bitter sarcasm, that we “won” after 9/11.  But for people for whom sarcasm is not a native language…

We didn’t win. When the first soldiers were deployed to Iraq, a country which had nothing to do with 9/11, we lost. When the first suspected terrorist was sent to a CIA black site, we lost. When we brought our torture in-house at Abu Ghraib, we lost. When the first detainees walked through the gates of Gitmo– especially the first detainees that were caught up by a hysterical dragnet flung far and wide, catching terrorists and innocents who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time — we lost. When we bombed Iraq and Afghanistan and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians, we lost. And when our drones missed their targets and killed civilians whose only crime was to want to celebrate a wedding, we lost.
When we first decided that principles such as the dignity of man and and the evil of torture were not fixed in stone but subject to whatever political exigencies swirled around our heads, we lost.
When we lost our soul as a country, we lost.
The terrorists, on the other hand, won.
They won big time.
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Oh, and another thing….

When someone asks a favor from a Clinton aide or someone in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and that favor is never granted, that is not evidence of corruption on Clinton’s part. If anything, it’s the opposite.

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Dear Mainstream Media (and today I am looking at you, Steve Karnacki):

For Pete’s sake, whenever Donald Trump or his surrogates talk about how Obama has let immigration enforcement go to hell in a hand-basket, CALL THEIR BLUFF!!!!!

Do not follow up the ridiculous assertions by asking a horse-race question, or a question about Hillary Clinton. You are supposed to care about the truth — actually confront them with the TRUTH!!!!

Obama has deported more people than any President before him, to the point that in some quarters he has been referred to as “Deporter-in-Chief.” Immigration — illegal and otherwise — has been dropping over the last few years, to the point where there is a net migration from the U.S. To allow Trump to talk about immigrants pouring over the border is to let falsehood triumph in the face of fact.

I  can’t believe I have to tell you this. You people are supposed to be professional journalists.  If this danger to America gets elected, you — and your refusal to hold his feet to the fire — will be part of the reason why.



PS. Sorry about all the exclamation points, guys: I really am that ticked off about this.


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It could be worse.

If you Google “Labor Day hurricane Florida,” the top hit will not be Hurricane Hermine. Instead it will be the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, the strongest and most intense storm ever to make landfall in the United States.

The storm killed 408 people, most of them veterans who were working on the Overseas highway to connect Key West to the mainland. White veterans, that is: African-American veterans had been housed on Mullet Key, near St. Pete, before being moved to Gainesville in early August. Given that the storm hit St. Pete too, albeit weakened, it was just as well that they had been moved. I am familiar with Mullet Key: even a weakened storm hitting a camp full of veterans there would have been bad news, and might have raised the death toll considerably.

One of my favorite buildings, the Don Cesar hotel on Pass-A-Grille, survived the 1935 storm. It nearly didn’t survive post-World War II neglect and the beachfront development boom, but it did.

So, yes, I’m worried about Hermine. Even a Cat 1 storm can be quite dangerous (Hurricane Juan (1985), anyone?).  I have family in Florida, my brother and sister-in-law and nephew, a.k.a. The World’s Cutest Kid ™.

It’s been eleven years since Dennis and Wilma, and twelve since the annus horribilis when four hurricanes hit the state, with people evacuating inward for Charlie and staying in place for a little while got hit by Frances crossing the state from the opposite direction. (My mom evacuated south, before they closed the Sunshine Skyway, so she was okay.) I am worried that people in along the coast will be complacent – or, if not complacent for this storm, complacent for the next. Fortunately, we have the Weather Channel now, so hopefully people will take authorities seriously when they say to get out. Jim Cantore has authority that local officials sometime lack.

So, here’s hoping and praying that everyone makes it through.

And that goes for folks along the Atlantic Coast – you’re next in line.

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