I Can Dream—Can’t I? (2016Jul31)


Sunday, July 31, 2016                                              3:06 PM

It’s very damp and cloudy today—but not as hot, so I shouldn’t grouse. I am so glad that there’s only a hundred days or so until the election—I’m tired of being tortured by the media—no reasonable person at this point could take Trump seriously as a candidate, or even as a man—he is seriously dangerous to our mental health, never mind our country. I love Hillary—but go ahead and hate her if you must—just don’t vote for the GOP’s psychotic demagogue, please (even they don’t like him).

That’s where I am with this election—no more finely reasoned arguments, no more he said-she said—the question has been answered many times in many ways and I’m done. Trump can issue as many more lies and as much more bombast as he likes—I’m not listening anymore.

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So, let’s get back to ourselves. Forget the candidates. What would I like to see happen? That’s my new question. I’d like to see us build and renovate and repair. I’d like to see us hire and train and start new businesses and invest in new things, new ideas. I’d like to see us get serious about cryptography, hacking, firewalls, malware, and all the other threats of modern business and warfare—maybe a whole new branch of our military devoted to cyber-defense, with enough funding to tempt the top mathematicians and coders to civil service.

I’d like to see better training and oversight of the police—especially in trouble zones where police brutality against minorities is endemic. I’d like to see pot legalized, and other addictions treated as illnesses, not as crimes—and I’d like to see our prison system shrink down to where it is no longer a profit-center. In fact, it would be nice if our prisons could become actual rehabilitation centers that prepare inmates for re-entry into legit public life, preferably with voting rights and a chance at employment.

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I’d like to see free public health care and free tuition to local and state colleges. I’d like to see the rich have to pay more taxes—or any taxes, come to that—same with corporations. I’d like to see a full bench on the Supreme Court. I’d like to see legislators get elected who will pass laws—any laws—and it would be nice if they didn’t shut down the effing government, too—as long as I’m wishing.

I’d like to see a lot of changes in the world. But change is hard—if it wasn’t hard to change, I’ve have abs instead of a pot-belly. But I can dream, can’t I?

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I’d like to see community shops that are partially social settings—places that offer internet, coffee or other beverages, newspapers, maybe hot food—places where you don’t have to buy anything to hang out there—perhaps a sort of partially public-funded ‘town square’ for the twenty-first century. Maybe there could be a bunch of low-cost housing nearby, and bus stops or subway stations. Imagine a mini-mall that’s more about community than commerce.

What choice do we have? All commerce is happening online mostly now—and, absent Pokemon Go, everybody is sitting at home. We have to find new social interactivities or we’ll all end up in closets with VR headsets our only window on reality.

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And there’s something else the 21st century needs—we have to face the fact that working for a living, in an age of automation, robotics, and partial AIs, is an outmoded concept. We have to start thinking in more socialist ways—we have to accept that everybody deserves a decent life, and an occupation—even when all the old work is being done at the push of a button, and is owned by a handful of autocrats. I’ve talked about this before—it’s just common sense, with a teaspoon of extrapolation.

‘Earning one’s way’ in life is an old tradition—it won’t be easy to work out how we all live in a world where we don’t have to work—where we can’t work—and it’ll be even harder to convince the super wealthy that they don’t own the Earth or the Human Race. But I can dream, can’t I?

 

From yesterday:

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Original Content   (2016Jul30)


Friday, July 29, 2016                                                7:45 PM

Okay, enough politics—what do I know, anyway—other people are already saying anything I have to say—people who get paid for it. I’ve been so swept up by the spirit of the Democratic National Convention—it was thrilling. But patriotism is something only idle people have a lot of time for—most people have stuff to do. So—time to stop obsessing over the TV and C-SPAN, and go back to reading books and watching movies and talking about myself. I know I’m not interesting, but I am interesting to me—and I like to write—or I should say type—I actually hate to write. If I had to do this with a pen and paper—I wouldn’t bother. But in an age of digital records, there is no saving of effort or of paper—there’s just ‘original content’.

Original Content means something you wrote yourself—without reference to Star Wars or Orange Is The New Black—something no other reasonable person would want to sue you for stealing. Be warned—if you do write something profitable, unreasonable people will come out of the ‘word-work’ to lay claim to it. But most writing has little value—so as long as you know you wrote it, you shouldn’t worry. If you’re serious about money—apply for a copyright. It’s easy—it doesn’t cost much (if you really expect to make money)—and it’s the first thing any serious professional writer does.

Original Content also applies to photos, artwork, music, and especially video. If you generate original content, which then generates a lot of clicks—you’re supposed to get paid for that. But mostly that stuff is generated in-house, so it’s not like you can just shop stuff around—although that might be a possibility, I suppose—but you’d have to go meet people. You can’t do business online—not all business, and especially closing a deal. When the Internet was young, sharing stuff was a big deal—now everyone wants to make a buck online—it’s no easier than most office jobs, unless you get a lucky break.

But I’m retired. I generate writing, artwork, and music and I just post it online. I don’t want someone else to use it without my permission—but I have no plans for a cyber-empire. I just want to be a part of it. I can’t do what young people do—posting photos of my junk, making dates on the dating app (damn, what is it? I wanna say ‘Rascal’ or ‘Heartify’…), or multi-player gaming—which I assume is tough on ‘grandpas’ like myself, especially if your hands shake. Most of the new online stuff is ‘young people only’—they don’t say that, but old people who try to fit in ‘with the kids’ are just as creepy online as they are in person. So I do ‘grandpa’ stuff and I post it. I post my piano-playing on YouTube. I post my essays on WordPress. I keep in touch with friends and relations on Facebook. I posted my old drawings on Pinterest, but I rarely have cause to add anything new.

I don’t expect a lot of people to listen to or read my stuff—some nice people do, who know me and don’t mind sleep-inducing stuff. I’m basically just putting my work out there for my own satisfaction—I like to do it. I used to have a spark of ambition—not much of one—I used to think maybe I’d become a great artist. Then I thought maybe I’d become a teacher. Eventually, I decided I just wanted to live a life without a specific goal—that’s a bad approach, but I was lucky. I ended up with a loving family, surviving a fatal disease, and cancer, and becoming an actual grandpa—oh, and I eat regular. I can’t complain.

Sometimes, after I had done a good drawing, I’d Xerox it—and the Xerox copy would look more professional than the original. There’s something of that in my postings—they just seem more substantial for being online for the world to see. I’ve actually had people tell me not to post stuff—you can’t post online without encountering trolls—but I pay them no attention. It’s like they used to say, “If you don’t like what’s on TV, change the channel.” That’s even more true of YouTube posts—if you don’t like my piano-playing, don’t watch it. I usually listen to classical music, myself—I usually only watch my own stuff once through, to check that it uploaded okay. Or I listen to it on CD, when the radio isn’t playing anything I like. It’s my fallback music.

So, Claire is flying to CA soon to meet our new granddaughter—Spencer and I will have to rough it on our own for two weeks—I hope we survive. Jessy and Seneca and Seneca are doing great. My mom had her 85th birthday today, down in Hilton Head, SC. I saw party pics on Facebook and wished I could have been there, instead of just calling to wish her a happy one.

I’ve gotten calls from Kevin Bouricius lately—he’s up in Massachusetts, trying to quit smoking. There’s a book of his oil paintings for sale online—it’s expensive, but the paintings are incredible. (http://www.blurb.com/b/4506248-paintings) He also has actual paintings, if anyone wants to go up there and buy one.

I’ll have to call Pete to set up our August jam—we usually try to post once a month, and I feel like I didn’t do too well this month, what with starting on anti-depressants at too high a dosage—I’ve halved it and I feel like I’m fully conscious again—although it was a great relief to be brain dead for a few weeks.

I was thinking, since Claire and I have our 36th anniversary coming at the end of August, about how our tradition used to be that Claire took the kids to Cape Cod or somewhere, and I’d stay home and work—we spent our anniversary in different states for years. I know it’s a weird tradition—but we’re slightly weird people. Well, the kids are grown, I don’t work, and Claire does—so that tradition has lapsed in more recent years—but if Claire stays with Jessy long enough, maybe the old tradition will come back one more time. I love the weird traditions, the ones that our just our own, the best.

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I’ve been letting my muttonchops grow out lately—I look like I guy who shouldn’t have muttonchops but grew them anyway. Hey, you get bored when there’s so little to do. I shaved all the hair around my ears yesterday—I look like an idiot—and the muttonchops only make it stupider. But I stay indoors all day, so nobody sees it—just like my weird clothes. It’s kind of funny when I do go somewhere in public—people look at me sideways, but what’s the use of being sixty if I’m going to care how I look?

I have no new videos. Here’s a reprise of some recent ones:

 

 

 

Time Is A River (2016Jul29)


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Friday, July 29, 2016                                                3:15 PM

Hillary Clinton’s opponents try to characterize President Obama’s administration as a failure—pointing to exported jobs, employment woes, wage woes, and economic inequality, pointing to threats from terrorism at home and abroad. And they hammer away at every questionable action taken by either Obama or Clinton (we’re all sick of hearing about them because there are only a few, out of all the good both have accomplished).

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Cherry-picking data is a favorite sport of the GOP. When they talk about Obama’s poor economic stats (which aren’t all that poor) they never mention Obama’s starting point—or rather, the end of eight years under Bush-43. We were in economic hell—there’s no other way to spin it. And the fact that most economic stats are at record highs, eight years later, with unemployment down to nearly reasonable levels (there is still work to do) makes it ludicrous that the GOP could pretend to any understanding of economics—or any ability to fix the problems. They created the problems—but you won’t hear them own up to that. They’ll even complain that Obama’s recovery was ‘too slow’—hey, maybe if you didn’t create the problem, you’d have the right to back-seat-drive the recovery.

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The same is true of terrorism. Bush went to war with another country—by mistake—and then screwed the landing. He turned Iraq from a developed country into a chaotic free-for-all—and then doubled-down on military forces instead of addressing the hard work of re-building the country’s infrastructure and brokering between all the different factions a truce that had a shot at lasting long enough to get Iraq back to what it was. Now it is a wasteland, a breeding ground for ISIL—can they blame that on Obama or Hillary? No, but they can criticize the administration’s attempts to deal with the problem. It is childishly self-serving to spill milk and carp at the person wiping it up.

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Our history did not begin at Obama’s inauguration. The GOP earned their total shunning in 2008—they had us all in a very bad place—and how they ever wormed their way back in two years later says more about our educational system than it does about their merit as civil servants. And since their majorities in the House and Senate, they have sabotaged the gears of government—just to try and embarrass Obama. Now they want to point to him and say, “He didn’t get anything done.” Well, that’s right—he only got done as much as he could those first two years (AHA and banking regulations and saving the auto industry) and then went on to do as much as a president can do alone, while the Congress jerks off. I’d say half of them are just cynical pols—and the other half are simply cracker bigots. How else do you explain more than half of our 500 legislators deciding that their job is to block anything the president tries to do?

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Notice there is no qualifier to that goal—even if they really want something the president wants to pass, they’ll still block it. The proof is in their denial of Supreme Court nominee Garland a Senate hearing, for a year and counting—before he was nominated, the GOP wrote nothing but love letters about him—now they don’t want to know him. Politics can be nauseating.

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So, if Obama’s administration has failed in important ways—he hasn’t done it in a vacuum—or rather, he has, though he shouldn’t have had to. The GOP created more than one crisis in this country, then they spent eight years blocking efforts to right the situation, then they spent the last two years working on one thing—trying to destroy Hillary Clinton’s image. From the polls, I have to admit they’ve done a great job—but again, that says more about our educational system than it does about their merit as civil servants.

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I don’t know—maybe there’s something in uneducated people that wants to be taken advantage of. Other polls seem to show that no one with a college education will vote for the clown who hijacked the GOP. People who need dramas in their lives will hang on to all the propaganda, resurrecting the zombie lies for the nth time, making out as if there’s a real contest here. I’m sorry—this election was over when Trump said Mexicans were rapists. Even if Hillary Clinton wasn’t a great woman, and wouldn’t make a fantastic President—we’d still have to vote for her, just to keep him away from the big button—yikes.

 

A Familiar Letter


A great one from a great one…

bluemeaniemeltsdown

A Familiar Letter

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

YES, write, if you want to, there’s nothing like trying;
Who knows what a treasure your casket may hold?
I’ll show you that rhyming’s as easy as lying,
If you’ll listen to me while the art I unfold.

 ~ ❇ ✾ ❈ ✾ ❇ ~

Here’s a book full of words; one can choose as he fancies,
As a painter his tint, as a workman his tool;
Just think! all the poems and plays and romances
Were drawn out of this, like the fish from a pool!

 ~ ❇ ✾ ❈ ✾ ❇ ~

You can wander at will through its syllabled mazes,
And take all you want, not a copper they cost,–
What is there to hinder your picking out phrases
For an epic as clever as “Paradise Lost”?

 ~ ❇ ✾ ❈ ✾ ❇ ~

Don’t mind if the index of…

View original post 703 more words

Come Listen Young People Wherever You Roam (2016Jul28)


Thursday, July 28, 2016                                           5:28 PM

My heart is full—I’ve been binge-watching the Philadelphia convention all week—the straight CSPAN feed (I want to make up my own mind—both about what’s worth watching and what I think about what I see and hear). Next week, I can go watch PBS, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, & FOX to see what the ‘buzz’ is. So far, it’s been like singing the national anthem—which I love to do—I love what’s best about our country. That doesn’t mean I ignore our problems. It certainly doesn’t mean I don’t worry. Neither does it mean that I believe everything I hear (from either side) nor was I born yesterday.

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I’ve been a studious guy my whole life—I’ve studied world history, American history, and I follow politics. I’m sixty, which doesn’t make me an expert, but it does mean that I’ve lived through the same period of recent history as either candidate. I know what it was like for African-Americans in politics in the 1960s—and for a woman in politics in the 1970s—or rather, I remember what it was like for them—young people don’t know. If you had talked about a black president or a woman president back in those days, people would have laughed in your face. And if a gay person came out, he (or she) would have been dragged into a back alley and beat to death by an angry mob. No one can laugh at the first ‘if’ any more. Gays are still subject to violence—but the attackers don’t get a pat on the back anymore—they get charged with a crime.

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People too young to have lived through those decades can be excused for not feeling Hillary Clinton—she’s just an old politician to them, with plenty of bad press. But they should recognize that Secretary Clinton has been getting bad press since before she graduated from law school—she has been a target of conservatives since she first appeared on the public stage, going undercover down south to prove that private schools maintained ‘hush-hush’ segregation, in violation of federal funding provisions.

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People too young to know of Bill Clinton’s presidency can be excused for wondering what’s up with his cheating, their marriage, and therefore, her sincerity. Bill Clinton was a very young president when he got a blow-job from Monica Lewinski, an adoring, worshipful intern—then got in trouble when he swore he ‘didn’t have sexual relations with that woman’. He meant he hadn’t had intercourse, but others insisted that fellatio is a sex act and that he had lied. Now, Bill was a very popular president, very capable—and the GOP had to destroy him—they tried to impeach him, but couldn’t quite get him out of office. The whole country talked about blow-jobs for two years—it was stupid. Hillary stood by Bill, publicly, both as a believer before-hand, and as a wronged wife after the truth was publicized.

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Now, people say that their marriage is a sham—as if no other marriage had bad problems and recovered. We’re coming up on our thirty-fifth anniversary next month and I can tell you—no marriage is without its ups and downs—long marriages are not a convenience, they are proof of character. But the press, comics, and her opponents, like to dredge this stuff up decades after the Clintons, I’m sure, have put it behind them.20160727XD_HillaryClinton_06

Benghazi was Ambassador Stevens’ valiant choice, but her opponents insist on labelling it Hillary’s mistake. Her email server mistake did no demonstrable damage to national security or personal privacy—and she was not the only government official to do this—she was just the only one being stalked by her long-time haters. And let’s say that I have too high an opinion of her—that she has serious flaws. Look at her record, look at her achievements—recognize that the kind of work she does makes enemies in powerful places—recognize that she has been a target since before most of you were born.

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If Hillary Clinton is an imperfect person, she has somehow managed, in spite of that, to do good for millions, to get healthcare for children, to broker a brief but important peace in the Mid-East, to get compensation for New York City, its police and its first-responders in the health crisis that was the aftermath of 9/11 rescue efforts. And much more—watch the convention for the full bio on CSPAN.org—it’s pretty damned impressive—and we should all be impressed. This is the lady who should be ‘locked-up’?! Yeah, by a dictator, maybe….

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People say they don’t trust Hillary—I wonder who convinced them to think that way? People say Hillary makes mistakes—their list of complaints is mighty short for a decades-long career—maybe they had to look extra hard, maybe they had to inflate some things out of proportion—for instance, who the hell hasn’t had trouble with their email?

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I trust Hillary because I have followed her career since she became First Lady—and I’ve learned about her life before that. There is a reason everyone in Washington assumed she’d be president two years ago—it wasn’t because she was an ‘insider’—it was because all of Washington knew her to be one of the brightest stars in American politics that anyone, on either side of the aisle, had ever seen. They won’t admit it now, during campaign season—but they’re still thinking it.

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Anyway, I gotta go—don’t wanna miss her speech tonight…

Here’s a little something I played today—this convention is really lifting my spirits:

 

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Belated History   (2016Jul27)


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Wednesday, July 27, 2016                                                12:50 AM

Yesterday’s nomination of Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic party’s presidential candidate and, with a little luck, the first woman president, was a major historic event—undercut only by the fact that it took us two hundred years and 44 male presidents to get here. The UK’s first woman leader is already a quaint bit of nostalgia—and many other democracies have been graced by women leaders—and we’re just getting around to it.

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That’s the trouble with America—we’ve done so much—yet there is even more still left to be done. Michael Moore recently made an entire movie about good ideas that originated in America, were adopted by other countries (who benefitted greatly) yet failed to catch on, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. And every time a progressive puts forth a good idea for making America a better place there’s a stubborn autocrat who finds a reason to block progress. Democracy is slow, grinding work—especially when it’s swimming upstream against the Citizen’s United ruling that opened the lobbyists’ coffers.

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We saw an old lady at the convention who was a little girl in 1920, when the nineteenth amendment gave women voting rights, and lived to vote for the lady who we hope to be our nation’s first Madam President. Barack Obama’s presidency has given the empowerment of dreams to millions of African-American children—Hillary Clinton is in line to do the same for half our nation’s citizens, and every little girl in America. The GOP wants to minimize this aspect of Hillary’s candidacy, but our President is first and foremost a symbol to the world—and it’s about time we broke the gender wall. Everyone calls it a ceiling, but that’s just to emphasize the unfairness of holding women down—it’s really a wall and we need to break through.

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I was also pleased to see so many details of Hillary Clinton’s long and selfless service to the people of America—state after state credited her with making a positive difference in their lives. The truth about her civil service only makes the GOP smear campaign, over the decades, that much more reprehensible. And after tonight’s endorsements from her friends, her constituents, her colleagues, and her husband, the idea that the GOP nominee can stand up to any comparison is ludicrous.

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As president, one is expected to interact with Congress—that’s 100 Senators and 435 Representatives—over five hundred legislators—it helps if you’ve been to law school. As president, one is expected to make decisions about things happening around the globe, things happening in science, education, health, farming, industry, energy—and business. Knowing about business is great—but knowing a lot about a lot of things, knowing a lot of people, knowing how government works—these are all important, too. The presidency is a tough job for a qualified person—for a newbie trainee, it would be a tragic farce.

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I was always a problem student—I grasped concepts at once, and got very restless waiting for the rest of the class to catch up—my notebooks had more doodles than notes. Nobody appreciates the egghead who screws up the bell curve. But trust me—I’ve already solved this little multiple-choice problem and I am more than restless—I’m scared to death that the rest of the class might not catch up by November.

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Yes Mindy, There Is A Hillary (2016Jul24)


Sunday, July 24, 2016                                              3:42 PM

I agree with you, Min—choosing Pence for a VP pick was lucky for Pence, since his anti-gay and anti-abortion legislative efforts have angered his Indiana constituency—not to mention his resistance to a free-needle program to stop the spread of AIDs in his state—and it was unlikely that he could win re-election as Governor. On the other side, Hillary has chosen Tim Kaine, whom The New Yorker’s Adam Borowitz jokingly said, “exhibits none of the outward characteristics of a sociopath or clinical narcissist”—meaning he’s never had a scandal or an investigation or a fraud charge, so how can we take him seriously as a politician?

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He is a lot like Joe Biden—when you go to smear him, you realize there’s no mud on the ground. A seemingly decent person who works hard as an honest politician—it’s confusing, I know.

I also agree with you about the legislature—both the house and senate GOP swore they would block anything and everything Obama tried to do—just so they could call him a ‘do-nothing’ president. But the Democrats did manage to regulate the banks and pass healthcare reform before the GOP slipped back into Congress—so when the AP did a fact-check on all the doom and gloom of Trump’s acceptance speech last week, they found that he lied about most of it—the economy is better, employment is better, crime is down, Iran can’t manufacture nuclear weapons, we have our first global climate-change accords, relations with our neighbor Cuba are being normalized (with Congress blocking the dropping of the fifty-year-old embargo, of course) and Obama has appointed a fantastic Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, who has just set a record for the longest an appointee has ever had to wait for a Senate hearing (almost a year now—and counting).

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And let’s not forget that the origin of our financial woes came from the GOP’s spendthrift war-mongering and lax banking oversight—they left Obama with quite a hole to dig the country out of—but he did it, and has us back to better than before the bank crashes. So ‘just more of Obama’s policies’ sounds pretty good to most people—just think what a Democratic president could do with a working legislature.

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To get that, we need more than just Hillary Clinton for president—we need some more Democrats in both houses of Congress. Both Clinton’s and Kaine’s Senate records show that they worked well across the aisle—so even if we don’t take the House or Senate, they still have a shot at some real governing, unless the GOP’s thinly-veiled racism simply transforms into thinly-veiled misogyny. Their acceptance of the orange Mussolini makes me feel that nothing is beyond them any more. They supposedly did some re-thinking after Obama won his second term—maybe when Trump gets his ass kicked, they’ll do some thinking worthy of the name.