No.

With the inauguration making it official, and “real,” I had to write something.

Right now we are in the midst of the strangest, most ridiculous moments in United States history that I’ve experienced in my lifetime—and, some say, maybe ever. I don’t know about “ever” but it certainly feels unprecedented. Perhaps people living through the Harding administration of the 1920s, or Nixon in the early ’70s, or hell even Prohibition experienced this same feeling of unreality, unease, and vaguely impending doom that we (the sane ones, anyway) are experiencing now. I don’t know.

What I do know is, somehow we now have a “president” that I don’t believe can or should be considered legitimate. He’s a serial liar, a failed businessman, a misogynist, not terribly intelligent, (probably) a sexual predator, a racist, an Islamophobe, and generally a fascist, with the thin skin of a temperamental four year old desperately craving attention and lashing out when spurned. On top of all of that, he is very likely compromised by a foreign agency.

He has refused to divest himself of his business interests, particularly as they relate to other countries, which raises numerous conflicts of interest and violates the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. He has not nor never will release his tax returns.

He lost the popular vote by the largest margin in history, three million votes, and only squeaked into the office by the loophole provided by the electoral voting system. He now takes the oath of that office as the most unpopular incoming president in history. And now day one has been marked with a flagrant lie about the size of the inauguration crowds, quivering in the shadow cast by the Women’s March, exposing the “president’s” shambling insecurity.

His cabinet is full of crony millionaires and billionaires, racists, extremists, and neo-Nazis with little to no real world knowledge of the jobs they have been selected for, or an active interest in tearing them down. He himself has no grasp of the magnitude of the role nor the knowledge and skills necessary to be the president, and his blundering ignorance and corruption will likely get many people killed.

There is nothing legitimate about this presidency, the campaign of which was run on a platform of racism and lies. The interference from Russia in the process alone should have been enough to overturn the entire election, and the strong possibility of Trump being compromised and under the influence of Russia and Putin should have disqualified him completely and brought him under intense investigation. If there were enough Republicans left with any kind of a spine who weren’t desperate sycophants for power, that might have been the outcome.

Which is why this is so surreal. It was surreal when he announced he would run, but I have to admit I enjoyed watching the Republican party tear itself apart in paroxysms of hypocrisy and degradation as he stood among them, and won. But who would have thought he would actually advance all the way to the general election and have a chance at winning? Well, the racists and the Nazis, I guess.

But had anyone tried to pitch this entire election and outcome as a fictional plot—for a movie or a book or a TV series—it would have been instantly rejected as too implausible, too outlandish, too ridiculous to be believable. But wait! There’s a twist! There are many twists! There’s an endorsement by the KKK! The Nazis are back! The main character is stupid enough to admit to sexual assault while wearing his own wire! Wait, wait, you’re gonna love this one—it’s the Russians and they’ve successfully planted their agent in the White House with the help of hackers and—what? Too contrived?

Except apparently it’s not, and it’s happening now. If you voted for Trump, then you’re complicit in all of this. If you didn’t vote at all, you’re complicit in all of this.

There is no “making America great again” under Trump because he is completely out of touch with the America he is supposed to lead. His “great America” is one where the rich get huge tax cuts while the poor shoulder their burden and die for lack of healthcare. One where the rights of women and minorities are rolled back so that affluent white men won’t feel threatened. This fantasy by the way, one apparently shared largely by the Republican party, is the desperate fever dream of a scared minority of aging rich white men seemingly unable to grasp that the world is moving on without them.

(Alternatively, the desperate fever dream of insular, under-educated whites scared to death of diversity and obsolescence.)

I mean, listen to the rhetoric—“We’re taking America back!” Back from what? From whom? From progress? Prosperity? Oh I know—not back from, but back to… to the dark ages. Anyone who seriously thinks that things were better 50 years ago should immediately lose their computer, their phone, access to the internet, their medicine, their big screen TV and video games and everything else they take for granted that didn’t exist 50 years ago.

And really, I’m worried that Trump will say something crazy on Twitter (again) that will have catastrophic results—or worse, his account will be hacked (again) and someone else will do that. I’m worried about the lack of concern and outright lies about a massive security breach and intrusion by Russia. I’m worried that the country as we know it—this entire grand American experiment—may well be at an end. It’s certainly not the same as it was even a year ago.

So no, I can’t look upon this new administration with any sense of legitimacy. No, I will not look past the flagrant lies. No, I will not accept nor respect the authority of the office that respects neither the people nor the office itself. No, I will not accept the hypocrisy of people who for eight years degraded and disrespected President Obama and now demand respect and civility for their spray-tanned elderly reality TV star.

I recognize the divide in this country, it’s very real, and divisive. But it was also heavily exploited during this election with lies and manufactured hysteria, and now the bill is coming due.

No, I don’t want to be that America. We can do better.

Help fix homebrewing legislation in Oregon

I’m cross-posting this with The Brew Site because it’s a hugely important issue for homebrewers in Oregon. This is an email from the Brewers Association that’s been hitting the inboxes of Oregon homebrewers over the past week, and it’s for a good cause: supporting Oregon Senate Bill 444 which seeks to amend the 30-year-old law regarding homebrewed beer which was reinterpreted last year.

Many of you are likely aware that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission determined last year that under existing Oregon law, homebrew cannot be consumed outside the home where the beer was produced.

The American Homebrewers Association is supporting an effort by the Oregon Home Brewers Alliance (OHBA) to resolve this issue. The OHBA has been working with Senator Floyd Prozanski, a homebrewer, on Senate Bill 444 along with the already filed amendments to SB 444. While there are other bills addressing homebrewing, the OHBA and the AHA support SB 444 as the most comprehensive of these in restoring to legality all of the activities homebrewers participated in prior to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s revision of their interpretation of homebrew law last year, including entering homebrew competitions and sharing homebrew at club meetings.

How Can You Help?
Senate Bill 444 is being scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee Thursday, February 10. We ask you to take a few minutes to call or email the members of the committee and politely urge them to support the passage of SB 444 along with Senator Prozanski’s amendments to the bill. The committee members need to hear from you if this bill is to succeed. Contacting legislators is quick and easy, and every contact they get from homebrewers will help ensure our success.

Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee Contact Information:

Sen. Lee Beyer, Chair
sen.leebeyer@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1706

Sen. Jason Atkinson, Vice-Chair
sen.jasonatkinson@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
District Phone: 541-282-6502

Sen. Ginny Burdick
sen.ginnyburdick@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1718

Sen. Chris Edwards
sen.chrisedwards@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1707

Sen. Fred Girod
sen.fredgirod@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1709
District Phone: 503-769-4321

Sen. Bruce Starr
sen.brucestarr@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1715
District Phone: 503-352-0922

Thank you for your support of homebrewers, your action could make the difference in whether or not this legislation becomes law. Please forward this message on to any other Oregon residents that you feel would be interested in supporting this bill.

Some local post-election thoughts

I was disappointed to see both the Bend measures (establish a mass transportation district, more money for schools) fail, though not particulary surprised: you can pretty much guarantee that when a measure appears in Central Oregon that requires raising taxes, it will get shot down.

But hell, do kids have to be cannibalizing themselves in the schools before this town raises some money to help relieve the overcrowding and budget issues? And since the money was going to be raised by increasing property taxes, should only property owners be allowed to vote on these issues?

Personally, I think less than $100 per year is a small price to pay if it helps alleviate the Lord of the Flies problems my own kids will be facing within the next couple of years.

As to the mass transit issue, I’d love to see it here, and I supported it, but… Keep in mind this is the city that made national news when it proposed banning stinky people from riding the bus, so you’ll understand if I express skepticism about the whole affair.

And this is the best election day story I heard: Tuesday morning my friend Kerry asked if I had a number two pencil to fill out his ballot—he didn’t have any at home and that was what had hung him up on getting it mailed earlier (Oregon is entirely vote-by-mail, remember, but on the last day you can drop off your ballot at the designated locations since it’s too late to mail it). Later, when he went to drop the ballot off, a Z21 news team interviewed him on why he waited until the last minute to turn his ballot in. He gave the honest response: he couldn’t find a number two pencil! He said the guy running the camera was the new crazy weatherman (if you live in Central Oregon, you probably know who I mean) and the guy gave Kerry a big thumbs-up and shit-eating grin—my words, I’m paraphrasing :). I never did see if it made it on TV but we sure had a good laugh about that.

Election Day

Did you vote yet? You can bet I did, mailed it in last week. (You gotta like the Oregon vote-by-mail system.) I’ve been spending the last hour and a half or so sitting here compulsively hitting refresh on the CNN and MSNBC sites to review the latest numbers, while catching up on Bloglines. It’s close but right now looks like Bush is going to win. What I find interesting is that while NBC has projected Ohio going to Bush, as of this moment CNN is considering it too close to call and hasn’t tallied those votes for him yet.

CNN has the better site for this, I think; not only can you drill-down from the national map to each state, but you can further drill-down into each state to see how each county is doing. And they’re on top of the numbers. Very interesting.

When Bush was in Medford…

I’m very, very surprised this story isn’t being picked up nationally (or if it has, I haven’t seen it anywhere yet except locally): during Bush’s visit to Medford, three schoolteachers were removed from the rally for wearing offensive T-shirts. How offensive? They read, “Protect Our Civil Liberties.”

Via Jack Bog’s Blog, this post points to the relevant Bend.com article:

President Bush taught three Oregon schoolteachers a new lesson in irony – or tragedy – Thursday night when his campaign removed them from a Bush speech and threatened them with arrest simply for wearing t-shirts that said “Protect Our Civil Liberties,” the Democratic Party of Oregon reported.

 

The women were ticketed to the event, admitted into the event, and were then approached by event officials before the president’s speech. They were asked to leave and to turn over their tickets – two of the three tickets were seized, but the third was saved when one of the teachers put it underneath an article of clothing….

 

Three Medford school teachers were threatened with arrest and escorted from the event after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Protect our civil liberties.” All three said they applied for and received valid tickets from Republican headquarters in Medford.

 

The women said they did not intend to protest. “I wanted to see if I would be able to make a statement that I feel is important, but not offensive, in a rally for my president,” said Janet Voorhies, 48, a teacher in training.

 

“We chose this phrase specifically because we didn’t think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene,” said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.

So, they show up to a rally to support the President, wearing T-shirts that are about as politically innocuous as they can be, and they get booted?

Hmmmmmmm.

On Politics

I make it a point to not really write about politics here, for several reasons. First, it’s a hot topic for too many people. Second, I frankly don’t feel qualified one way or another to sound off; I have opinions, sure, but before I voice those opinions, I better be able to back them up intelligently—and there’s a fair amount of political knowledge that I’m ignorant or just plain wrong about, I bet. Third, it’s been my observation that once you start voicing a political opinion in a public venue like a website, the vast majority of people who respond either are of the same opinion as you (which ultimately degenerates into a mutual admiration society that closes off from the rest of the world) or are fervently opposed to your point of view (which ultimately degenerates into a vicious group of trolls who have nothing better to do than denigrate you because you think differently from them); there’s very little real diversity or intelligent conversation. Finally, politics just doesn’t interest me enough to write about.

Having said that, I’ll write a bit about politics, inspired by having President Bush on television tonight (annoyingly pre-empting regular TV).

I’ll just be blunt. I am so sick and tired of the spin and political bullshit that surrounds politics these days. All of it. Whether it’s Bush and all the shit going on over 9/11 and Iraq and everything, or Clinton and his “That depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is” hijinks, I don’t care. I do not care.

What I want is a President who can step up to a news conference like Bush did tonight, and instead of spinning out lies and evasiveness and bullshit, just look into the cameras and say, “Yeah, we fucked up. I fucked up. I was wrong, and it cost us, and now it’s time to fix things.” Is that really too much to ask? Whatever happened to responsibility, accountability, and humility, anyway?

Hell with it. Rant over.