A thanksgiving for this day

I want to take this time and place to say thank you to Lisa.  For 23 years we were married, and were together for more than four years before that.  We had a great sense of companionship, we worked together on everything that life threw in our way including a house fire, the deaths of parents, raising two fantastic and smart children, and all of the struggles large and small that a couple faces when they spend that much of their lives together. They were indeed good years and I treasure all the memories from those times, the good and the bad. We shared an extremely rare love, and we both grew and changed while still supporting one another.  Lisa is a great parent and role model to our children; she is very kind and compassionate just like her own mother, and she has a great intellect just like her father.  I am so very fortunate that she devoted such a large part of her life to me. Thank you, Lisa!

Thoughts on the 2016 election

Over the last few days I've seen on social media a cavalcade of simplistic attacks, cruel memes, and misinterpretations of the positions of others. I've also seen some very thoughtful posts, but the preponderance of them are unkind to say the least. As I write this it is two days after the 2016 election, in which Trump was the winner by electoral votes. Clinton won the popular vote by a decidedly nontrivial margin - at this writing her lead was around 1.7 million votes.

In response there have been any number of protests across the country; from what I've been able to tell these have been largely peaceful with a few incidents of vandalism, several hundred arrests, and two police officers injured.

I admit my dismay at the outcome and have strongly pessimistic feelings about the near future. I have no confidence in any of Trump's economic policies, or rather, what little vague lip service he paid to them. He utterly failed to articulate a single coherent or detailed policy idea, other than the same trickle down economics and tax cuts for the wealthy we got from Reagan and the Bushes. The largesse of our debt today is the result of two things: the Bush tax cuts and the wars in the middle east. Add to that the costs of recovery from the crash in 2008. Even with that, the deficit has been cut under Obama by around 2/3. The debt continues to rise because we have one party pathologically opposed to any revenue increase at all for the government.

Trump has promised to get "tough" with China on trade, which could directly and severely hurt the (American) company for which I work, along with the overall economy (US and global). His stance on foreign policy is a disturbing mixture of protectionism, belligerence, and brinkmanship.

He has a transition team for the EPA headed by an anti-science climate-change denial activist. We will probably see more drilling offshore, and our coal production/consumption will pollute the air at an accelerated pace. Fuel economy and emissions standards for vehicles? Out the window.

Socially, he has promised to immediately roll back virtually all of the gains folks like myself have made under Obama; he backs a religious "protection" act to enforce this, and he has the votes to accomplish it. Our VP-elect, Mike Pence, is an avowed (and active) homophobe who has pushed an agenda that includes forced gay-conversion therapy. Again, they have the congress in their corner. I really see some negative changes ahead. We were on such a hopeful trajectory for the last several years. I recall watching Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General of the United States, addressing the transgender community after North Carolina's HB2 was passed, reassuring us with some very kind words, and promising to do everything she could to protect us. I honestly felt like I was being hugged, and I still tear up just thinking about her speech. I know that I can expect no such sentiments from the Trump administration.

His appointment(s) to the US Supreme Court will be a huge blow to social progress for generations. He has promised to appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia, and his published short-list of candidates includes only anti-LGBT conservatives who will roll back marriage equality and even Roe V. Wade.

Hillary was such a status quo candidate I didn't see much chance at all that she would have derailed the economy. She had in the past expressed slightly conservative social views but as of late had shown support for minorities and the LGBT community, so I wouldn't have expected any kind of backsliding on social progress either. She believes in (or rather, understands) science and would therefore not have allowed loosening of environmental protections

I cannot help but feel that the US has made a terrible, terrible mistake. There are millions of thoughtful people who feel this same way. It's impossible to fathom how a bisexual, transgender atheist would ever be welcome in Trump's version of the United States, much less one crafted by the people with whom he has surrounded himself.

It is typical during the primary season for the candidates to express opinions that tend towards the extreme elements in their party, because the candidates know that those elements are the most likely to vote in the primaries. The language typically veers back towards the middle during the normal election campaign; this time, however, that did not happen. The Donald Trump that had shown up during the contentious primaries was the exact same Donald Trump that showed up for the post-primary campaign. None of his stances softened at all, his abusive verbal style remained in full force, his rude comments and apparent lack of self-control survived as well. His policy prescriptions, with identical lack of specificity, were as unyielding as before, And yet, he managed to pull out a victory, one which has stunned people all across the globe. On the heels of the "Brexit" vote his victory seems to follow a trend that is disturbing to so many.

In the wake of all this, there as been much gloating by those who supported him, which is not unexpected given the personality on display by the man himself. There have also been many calls for those who evinced dismay at the result to calm down, to remember what it was like for conservatives when Barack Obama won two terms as president.

It may be that as a supporter of Obama, I was unaware that anything he said was controversial, or dismissive, or polarizing, or even rude and disrespectful. Most of what Trump had to say was all of these things. I remember hearing Obama make speeches about lifting up those in need and those who had been historically downtrodden and ignored. His campaign promises included things like universal health care for all, transparency in government, getting us out of the wars in which we were embroiled, closing Guantanamo Bay, and lifting us out of recession. None of this compares in any way to the reactionary and vitriolic language used by Trump throughout his entire campaign.

Here's a few specifics I remember about Donald Trump. He promised to round up and deport 11 million people, including the families of undocumented immigrants. He said he thinks that we should go after the families of suspected terrorists. He says that torture is acceptable. He encouraged demonstrators to be thrown out of his events and laughed off them being physically assaulted. He claimed that his opponent was in favor of "open borders" when that was actually not true. He says he will just ignore international treaties that have already been negotiated and agreed upon. He said he thinks it might be a good idea if more nations had nuclear weapons. He said we should have "taken the oil" from Iraq. He has denigrated countless women, not just in his campaign but during his entire public life. When he was a 59 year old man, talking about women, he bragged about being able to "grab them by the pussy" and get away with it because he was a star. He threatened to jail his political opponent. He threatened to change libel laws to allow him to sue media outlets that published unflattering stories about him and that he would "get a lot of money." He has promised to unilaterally "get tough" on countries like China, with whom we have a very tangled and important set of trade relationships; he says the same about other countries. He promised to halt the entry of people of Muslim faith into this country. He proposed cutting taxes, and his plan would result in the top 0.1% of earners reaping more benefits than the entire bottom 60% of earners combined. His plan to replace the Affordable Care Act is to use Health Savings Accounts (?!?). He repeatedly said many things he would later attempt to deny, when there was video or other evidence to the contrary - one example is his denial that he called Climate Change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese when he had Tweeted out that exact claim to many thousands of followers. He called all 12 of the women who accused him of sexual assault "liars" and threatened to sue them. He refused to release any of his tax returns when all other candidates since 1976 have done so. He claims to be an excellent businessman but his net worth has grown only about a third as much as it would have if he had simply invested in index funds 40 years ago. Companies for which he is responsible have filed for bankruptcy multiple times. He promised to "drain the swamp" of Washington insiders in politics but has surrounded himself with lobbyists and other career political-players for his transition team as well has for his short list of cabinet appointments. He paid $25 Million to settle lawsuits brought by thousands of people alleging that his "Trump University" was a total fraud, and the sum they settled on would seem to indicate they made a decent case for it being true.

I think that's enough to be getting on with. In the absence of any political history, we must look to what we can, and what is available is what the man has said and what he has done in lieu of public service. None of the above is in dispute, all of those statements are factual.

To see how far we have come, imagine the outrage of conservatives if Barack Obama had said or done even just one single thing on that list.

Now, I am sure that others will produce their own laundry-list of grievances against Hillary Clinton, and some of the things on those lists are surely true, and I have elsewhere acknowledged that she is a deeply flawed candidate. However, scan those lists carefully for things that are in dispute or that are not supported by the facts, or that are outright conspiracy-theory-level accusations, and the list will shorten considerably, I'm sure. My list above is not like that; there are no nut-job ideas or unsupported claims. Mr. Trump has said and done all of those things, and this is beyond any doubt, despite Mr. Trump's automatic, almost pathological gainsaying of anything unflattering.

Now, as I alluded to above, it has been alleged that those of us who are deeply unhappy about all of this should just "suck it up."

If anyone would care to make a case that successfully equates the campaign promises (or even the actions performed) by Obama or Clinton with those of Trump, I would love to hear from you.
This is not to say that there are no legitimate grievances against some of the policies that have been put forth over the last two presidential terms, or against some of those proposed by Clinton. But I have seen none of this, no reasoned or rational or analytical or even compassionate argument. All I've witnessed are crude remarks, simplistic "memes," and mean-spirited bumper-sticker sound bites. It'd almost as if the conservatives are gloating over the defeat of their enemy, like a schoolyard bully or a third-world dictator. That's not a good way to start off their rule.

In stark contrast to their attitude that "losers shouldn't complain" we have the apoplectic tantrums of a governor who it appears was defeated in a fairly close race here in North Carolina. The incumbent Pat McCrory, who at this point is some 7,000 votes behind his democrat rival, Roy Cooper, has tried every avenue to call into question as many ballots as he can. The fact that every county's board of elections is under republican control seems to have escaped him, as has the fact that most of them have rebuffed his challenges to their results. In addition to this desperate grasp at keeping power for himself, he and his cronies in the state legislature are allegedly cooking up a scheme to pack two additional seats onto the North Carolina State Supreme Court, which he would appoint before he leaves office, if that is indeed the final outcome. This is being planned because the voters of NC elected a new Justice to the court with more liberal judicial views and his election tips the balance of that court to the left. So here we have the odd spectacle of a republican officeholder who lost refusing to "suck it up" himself and kicking and screaming on the way out, grabbing desperately like a spoiled child at anything within reach of his greedy hands - yet, where are the cries of outrage by those who poke fun at the left's difficulty accepting the election of Trump? As I've said in another social media post, this is hypocrisy on par with that of the Pharisees, but it appears to be business as usual for today's republicans.