A Different Kind of Season

Usually I’m giddy right about now. Thanksgiving is a few days away. We’ll bust out the holiday decorations, crank up the Christmas music, and put the tree up Friday. The most wonderful time of year has arrived!

But it’s fucking 2020, which means we can’t have nice things. Yes, we’ll be eating turkey Thursday and the tree will go up on Friday, but so many other things that make this time of year the best are either being cancelled or greatly modified.

I’m fine with all of that. I can deal with a muted holiday season because the point of that is to get us to 2021 and to the time when most of the general population can get a Covid vaccination and only then can we start thinking about life getting somewhat back to where it was a year ago. I. Can. Deal.

What is going to make this season tough is that it’s going to be really fucking tough. Our current infection rate is frightening, and it’s going to get worse. Our current death rate is staggering, and it’s going to get much worse. I’m starting to get nervous about interactions that have become routine since we emerged from our shelter-in-place orders back in May. I’m worried about S, who is seeing more and more positive patients and families in her practice. I worry about our girls and their ability to get through this time if we have to lock them in the house for a couple months. A couple cold, dark months when they can’t go outside and get a break from their rooms.

I’m worried about our collective mental health, too. I don’t think you could call us a mentally healthy country to begin with. I fear we’re could soon begin a spiral to an even worse place, and I’m genuinely concerned about what kind of country this is going to be in a year, or five, or ten because of all the damage we are doing to it right now. I worry that between the strain of the pandemic and the emotion of the election, we are on the verge of a very dangerous time. Maybe that just means government at the highest levels ceases to function normally. Maybe it means we sink into an era of politically motivated violence. Maybe folks who suffered great economic pain during the pandemic start taking things away from those who did not.

I hope I’m wrong and we find a way to regain at least some of our national sanity by next spring/summer. When I look around, though, I see lots of warning signs that just because we might be get Covid under control as vaccines roll out does not mean people won’t still find reasons to hate total strangers.

Friday Playlist

A slow music week for me, so this week’s list will be more oldies than…uh, newies?

“let down” – Paris Jackson
When I first heard this I had no idea who Paris Jackson was. Or, more correctly, I did not remember. Then I heard it again and the DJ on SiriusXM noted she was Michael’s daughter. Mind blown. Not what I would have expected from The King of Pop’s kid. Maybe it is just sharing a title with a track off of OK Computer, but I hear a definite Radiohead vibe to the music that backs her up, which really makes this track work for me.

“All Around You” – Joensuu 1685
More great space rock from Finland.

“Everybody Everybody” – Black Box
I read this review of the horrible way the music industry treated Martha Walsh this week. C+C was pretty good, but this was always my favorite Walsh-fronted track from the early ’90s.

“Don’t Let Him Know” – Prism
This has been kicking around in my potential Friday Playlist songs list for months, and I kind of forget why. I know it showed up in either the extras or the comments of a The Number Ones post at some point. Pretty sure that was because it was written and produced by Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams, before they became a songwriting tour de force a few years later. It’s a pretty solid song, perfect for where pop-rock was in 1981.

“Red Eyes – Live” – The War on Drugs
TWOD released their first-ever live album, Live Drugs, today. It focuses on songs from their past two albums, so I picked the one that was my favorite song of the 2010s to share with you. More importantly, it sounds like they are well into their next studio album and there’s a decent chance we will get it sometime in 2021.

“Rock With You” – Michael Jackson
We’ve got his daughter, might as well play one of Michael’s songs, too. One of my brothers in music, E-bro in ATX, shared a little thought experiment he did with his wife and his adult daughter. They discussed what if, because Michael was likely a horrible person who did horrible things to children, you could only listen to three songs from his catalog again? Pick three and discard everything else he recorded.

He shared this with me over a year ago, and I’m still struggling with it. “Billie Jean” or “Beat It”? Or both and cut “The Way You Make Me Feel”? Do I pick a Jackson 5 track instead of a solo track?

And which song from Off the Wall do I choose? Most days I think I would pick this, which is Michael and his purest and happiest and most normal, which would help to tamp down the knowledge of who he became. This is also one of the greatest videos ever.

Some Sports Takes

The Masters

Like most golf fans I was realllllly looking forward to the fall Masters. Seeing Augusta National under different conditions than we’ve ever seen it before and without any fans was a dazzling concept. And in practice it turned out to be pretty damn cool.

I was surprised, though, that I didn’t get fully immersed in the tournament. Sure, I had it on a lot, but I wasn’t glued to the screen the way I would have been in April. I watched plenty of golf, but I can’t recount tons of details the way I can with, say, the 2019 tournament because my attention was always divided or I was taking breaks to go knock out errands (or buy a car or coach a game).

I wonder if some of that disconnect is because the Masters falling in early April is always a sign that spring is about to arrive. It’s a gift for surviving winter and starts to awaken thoughts of what activities warmer weather will allow.

Last weekend, while it was great to have the Masters, it was also a reminder that we’re about to go inside for several months. That the pandemic is getting worse every day. That our distractions from the generally awful state of the world are disappearing. This Masters was the last moment of a probably too-open fall before we slide into a locked-down winter.

I was glad Dustin Johnson finally put a great weekend together at a major again. DJ is probably the professional golfer that most hacks would aspire to be. He makes the game look so damn easy with his beautiful, powerful, easy swing. He no doubt has the coolest walk in all of sports. And the off-the-course stuff isn’t bad, with Paulina Gretzky as his partner and a huge house with a bunch of toys. His life isn’t perfect, witness his not a suspension suspension a few years back for allegedly failing multiple drug tests.

DJ has that classic “He makes it look easy so he must not really be trying” aura about him. When you add in a few huge meltdowns that have cost him majors, his career is viewed by many to be disappointing. Doesn’t matter that he’s playing in, arguably, the most competitive time ever in the PGA. Or that he’s won 26 total tournaments and over $70 million. A guy that good should have won more, right? Since he is so laid back and not the most eloquent guy in the world, he’s viewed as a bit of a failure.

Which is insane. Look at those numbers again. Twenty-six wins, SEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS. I’m sure he’d like to have a couple of those Sunday rounds at majors back. But that’s still a great career even before adding his second major at Augusta.

The beauty of DJ is I don’t think he cares all that much. Yes, he wants to win, and those losses hurt. But from all accounts by those close to him, he has a very Zen outlook on life and doesn’t get hung up on either the highs or the lows.

I’m hoping this win frees him up a little and he can go on a nice run the next few years and nab 2–4 more majors before his game begins to fade. Now if we could just get Rory McIlroy contending in a major again…


Wichita State

So the Shockers and coach Gregg Marshall agreed to part ways yesterday after a series of reports detailed a long history of Marshall physically and verbally abusing players, his staff, and other Wichita State athletes.

Marshall always seemed like an absolute dick. I’ve heard stories from people who know people who would know that he’s an even bigger dick than his public persona suggests. These stories just confirm all of that.

I’m trying really hard to understand how he gets to walk away with $7.75 million. I know lawyers were involved, and someone on the WSU side decided letting him leave with that payout was better than getting into a legal battle. I’m wondering where those lawyers were when WSU was drawing up a contract that didn’t allow them to fire a guy for punching a player. Seems like someone missed a very important clause somewhere.

Just further proof of how messed up college sports are. I know athletics and academics are two different financial silos, but I’m sure those $7.75 million could have been spent much better ways around the WSU campus.

Someone pointed out how when UConn fired Kevin Ollie a few years back, he didn’t get a big, fat payout like Marshall did. That was because Ollie broke some NCAA recruiting rules and got the program placed on probation. So apparently physically assaulting people is just fine since it won’t launch an NCAA investigation.

The sad part is that Gregg Marshall is going to take his $7.75 million, disappear for awhile, and when his agreement allows, emerge having “done some soul searching” with a “fresh new perspective” and some desperate school is going to offer him another truckload of cash to turn their program around.

It’s really a shame he didn’t take the Texas job a few years ago and really mess them up instead of poor Wichita State.

Excellence in Journalism

This is just incredible. Not just the story, but also how it was reported. This is A+++ journalism of a style that, sadly, just doesn’t exist anymore.

I have no memory of this, but apparently this story was a bit of a sensation in the 1990s, one of the first viral events on the Internet. It must not have trickled down to those of us who relied on AOL to be our gateway to the World Wide Web back then.

Weekend Notes

Several significant events in our house over the past few days. Let’s get caught up.


School

When I picked M up from school last Wednesday she had a weird look on her face. “Everyone says school is shutting down after this week,” she exclaimed. Apparently each day a few more kids were not showing up to class either because they were Covid positive or were quarantining because of close contact with a positive person. At least one teacher had tested positive as well.

Thursday the mayor and county health commissioner had their weekly Covid press conference. Numbers were rising at an alarming rate. What was most concerning was that the age group with the highest positivity rate was high schoolers. Because of that, all Marion County schools, public and private, were being ordered to move to virtual schooling no later than November 30 and to remain virtual until at least January 15. This makes sense given the numbers, although pretty much everyone agrees kids aren’t getting sick because of what is going on at school, but what they are doing outside of school.

S is home on Thursdays and we speculated how long each school would last.

St P’s answered first: they are going to try to make it to November 24. However, since that announcement two of our basketball teams have had to drop out of the city tournament because a fifth grade player and her dad that coaches the eighth graders were both positive. Luckily C wasn’t deemed to have close contact with the girls on the 8th grade team so she can remain in school. We’ve heard of several other St P’s students and a teacher who have tested positive since then. Not sure the odds are great we make it to Nov. 24.

CHS was quicker. Right after dismissal Thursday they announced that Friday would be their last day of in-person classes.

Our girls have mixed feelings about this. M was the most bummed, primarily because she is the most social and has a need to see her friends face-to-face. I think C and L are kind of excited about getting out of school for awhile and a little fearful about getting sick, so they were generally ok with it. Until they realized this wipes out all the in-school Christmas traditions. I didn’t mention to C that I’m starting to worry about whether her class will be able to take their trip to Washington, D.C. in the spring, too.

Strangely some of the schools in surrounding counties with much higher positive rates than Marion County are staying in session for the time being. I figured the freshly re-elected governor would start cranking down restrictions and guidelines again, especially since this outbreak seems much more widespread than the first two. It’s not just big, urban counties that are struggling this time, but counties all over the state. He seems to have caved, though, to the nut jobs on the right who think that asking people to wear masks is some massive intrusion on their rights. He has yet to announce any new guidelines for schools outside of Marion County.

So, M is home today and will be for at least two months. Hopefully C and L can get through seven more days before they are stuck at home with me through the holidays.


Automobiles

After last week’s car shopping catastrophe, S spent the week looking online for a new Jeep Cherokee. She did some back-and-forth with a sales guy all week before she locked in on the one she wanted Saturday. A few more emails back-and-forth and we went over at 4:30 that afternoon to pick up her new ride.

It was, by far, our easiest car buying experience ever. Neither one of us likes all the rigamarole that goes into purchasing a car, but she has even less tolerance for all that BS than I do. Saturday we walked into the dealership, waited about 30 seconds, were escorted back to the office, she signed paperwork for five minutes, and we walked out with the keys. Since she has had two Jeeps in the past they didn’t even have to show us how the car worked. They just waved goodbye and sent us on our way.

Perfect!

So now we have three cars. I guess since M won’t leave the house to go to school for two months we don’t have to worry about a school parking pass just yet.


Kid Hoops

Sunday L’s team played their opening game in the city basketball tournament. We were playing the team with the giant that beat us two weeks ago by 16. We spent an entire practice Tuesday working on a special defense to counter a press-break play they used against us the first time. At practice Thursday we had our tallest girls guard me so we could teach them how to deny the post on the 6-footer. We worked on shots that would be open in their zone. We felt prepared and ready.

Then about an hour before the game we found out on of our three tall girls would miss the game because her brother was sick.

Great. None of our girls are anywhere near as big as the giant, but losing a body hurt.

We started out down 7–0 and the head coach and I were both muttering under our breath on the bench. We started down 12–0 the first time and sure seemed to be on that track again.

But our girls got their shit together and clawed back into it. We were down three at halftime. We cut it to one twice in the third quarter, but St L kept stretching it out to +5.

As we began the fourth quarter we told the girls that they were playing great and made a small adjustment on defense. We preached to them that if they kept being aggressive we could win the game.

Our girls played their best quarter of the year. They were flying around on defense. We were actually making smart, quick passes on offense. We were looking to take shots even when the big girl was blocking them. We even hit a few of them. We made it a one-point game three times but could not get over the hump.

We were down three with about forty-five seconds left and had our best player going to the line for two shots. We called a time out because she looked wiped out. We made another change to our defense and our head coach did the perfect thing. She said, “After M makes both free throws, here’s how we’re going to guard them…” This was HUGE because W was something like 1–12 from the line up to that point. No exaggeration: she had missed at least 10 free throws.

After the time out she went out and knocked them both down and we were down one.

They broke our press and we realized we needed to start fouling and fouling often, because we only had three team fouls. As we were yelling at our girls to foul, St L threw a bad pass, our best player grabbed it, went full court, and actually made a freaking lay-up to give us our first lead. The greatly reduced crowd was going nuts. L was on the bench – because we had sat her to rest and everyone was playing awesome – and she was going nuts.

St L called a timeout with 15 seconds left, inbounding in front of their bench. We told our girls to stay back, force them to shoot jumpers, do not let the big girl roll to the basket. Naturally in the crush of bodies the big girl got a little daylight, they tossed the ball to her, and she banked one in with 10 seconds left. We got the ball up court but lost it out of bounds. We couldn’t get a steal on the inbound pass and the game was over.

So close!

Our girl who missed all the free throws was in tears. But the rest of the team all had excited looks on their faces. They knew they had played their asses off and played really well. “If we had a seven footer, too,” yes, she said seven footer, “we would have won that game!” the head coach told them. They all laughed. We told them that was the best they had ever played and that we were super proud of them. Even though we lost, it was a highly satisfying end to a season in which we had played really poorly over our last three games.

One other funny note from the game.

We have a dad who is very loud. He is a real pain in the ass. He’s had a few issues in the past and is not allowed to coach at St P’s teams anymore. His voice stands out in a normal gym. In a lightly-filled Covid gym you hear everything he says.

During a timeout early in the fourth quarter one of the refs tapped me on the shoulder and motioned me away from our huddle. “Oh shit,” I thought, “he’s going to ask me to go tell Loud Dad to pipe down.” That’s the last thing I wanted to do in the closing moments of a tight game.

But he surprised me. “Hey, what kind of shoes are those?” He asked nodding toward my shoes. I was wearing Adidas spikeless golf shoes that are my every day shoes. I told him what they were and where I got them. “I wear these everywhere, they’re super comfortable.”

“All right, I’m going to check those out, thanks.”

I told him I thought he had heard me say something on the bench and was telling me to pipe down. We both laughed.

That, my friends, was a first.

Friday Playlist

I will warn you the first song in today’s playlist is filled with NOT SAFE FOR WORK language. Play cautiously. That’s appropriate for today as yesterday came word that schools in Indianapolis will be required to go virtual again by the end of the month. More about that next week, though. On to the music…

“JU$T” – Run the Jewels with Zach De La Rocha and Pharrell Williams
LOOK AT ALL THESE SLAVE MASTERS POSIN’ ON YOUR DOLLARS

“Play (On My Mind)” – The Boys with the Perpetual Nervousness
Man, how about this song? As the days get colder and darker this adds a nice touch of light and brightness. Their band name, from a song by The Feelies, is a little much, though.

“Faith Healer” – Julien Baker
This song has a very Frightened Rabbit feel to it, at least musically. I completely approve.

“The Modern Leper” – Julien Baker
There is a connection. From last year’s Tiny Changes cover album of FR’s The Midnight Organ Fight.

“Valley” Kevin Morby
My favorite song off of his Sundowner album.

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” – Gordon Lightfoot
Forty-five years ago this week.

“She Sells Sanctuary” – The Cult
We need more ass-kicking rock ‘n’ roll music like this in the world today.

In The Market

Yesterday we got our updated car insurance policy, listing M as an insured driver. The addition to our premium was a nice way to start the holiday season.

She’s been hassling us about a car for weeks. I believe I already shared that CHS only gives parking passes to sophomores if there are exceptional reasons that require one. She’s told us several times that we need to come up with something and send the email. We just give her a blank look and then suggest she assist us rather than give us orders. She and one of her St P’s buddies who also just got her license cased the junior parking lot this week during their photography class and insist there are at least 20 open spots.

Of course, she doesn’t have a car yet. But we’re working on that.

We’ve kicked around a few ideas on how to give our precious daughter her own vehicle.[1] The original plan was that, since she learned how to drive in S’s Mazda CX–5, we would look for a used version of that. However, S crunched the numbers and weighed the troubles that can come with a used car and decided it made more sense to lease another Mazda. I can’t say I was totally onboard with this, but I’ve also learned in our 17 years of marriage than when S gets a plan in her head regarding finances or cash outlays, it’s best just to go along with her.

I mentioned that if we are going to become a three-car family, that really eliminated the need to drive a Large Vehicle. I drove a Suburban for nearly three years and am into my third year in a Tahoe. While I’ve enjoyed both of those vehicles and they have been tremendously useful, I’m also ready to drive something not so large and unwieldy.

A couple weeks ago S came up with a new plan: pass her Mazda down to M, S takes my Tahoe, and I get something new now. That would give her until July, when the Tahoe lease is up, to figure out what she wants. I told her that idea was stupid since she hates driving the Tahoe. She told me to shut up and look for a new car.

We are both big fans of the the Kia Tellurides. They look great and get fantastic reviews. They are supposed to be an amazing bargain compared to Tahoes and other similar vehicles.

Last week, in between election coverage, I did some scanning of the local Kia dealership inventory. I had a couple picked out I liked and Saturday we went to test drive.

Man, they are awesome! Super nice, ride well, lots of space, while not being nearly as massive as a Tahoe.

One problem, though: apparently they are super popular right now. So popular, in fact, that the dealer added a $12,000 “market adjustment” to the sticker. They literally wrote it on the sticker in Sharpie. They also added the extra pain sealers and coatings that no one ever buys. Apparently you can do this shit when you get a trailer with seven on a Friday and sell four before close that night.[2]

It sure would have been nice if that price had been reflected online. That extra $14+K eliminated the price advantage over my Tahoe. We literally did not know what to say to our salesman who he showed us the updated price. We just stood there, staring at the sticker in silence.

Some Bullshit
Some Bullshit

Fortunately, he was very young and kind of shitty as a salesman, so he didn’t push us at all. Or maybe he’s just smarter than he let on and could read the looks on our faces as those of the unmotivated buyers. And knew there were a few other suckers right behind us who would be just fine with the “market adjustment.”

We hopped in the Tahoe and started to drive home. A thought struck me. I asked S, “You loved your Jeep, right?” When she got her Mazda back in January it came after she had leased two different Jeep Cherokees over a six-year span.

“Yeah, I really did,” she responded.

“OK, let’s get you a new one then. You don’t have to test drive and you know exactly what you want, it will be easy.”

We went home, she pulled up the Jeep dealership’s site, found a couple she liked, and fired off an email. I would imagine she’ll have a new one very soon.

All this car talk got me a little hot and bothered. I spent hours Saturday and Sunday looking at various smaller SUVs. I still need some space and at least all wheel drive, just in a less behemoth-sized package. I have a short list of 3–4 pretty solid cars I’m interested in that are both smaller and cheaper than the Tahoe. The only catch is that lease has seven months left on it. Like most people these days, I’m not very good with delayed gratification: I want that shiny, new car now! Still, this gives me plenty of time to read tons of reviews, casually take test drives, and order exactly what I want when the time comes.

Until S comes up with another one of her plans and tells me to do something different.[3]


  1. Neither S nor I had a vehicle that was our own until our early 20s.  ↩
  2. Or so they claimed.  ↩
  3. I say that with much love!  ↩

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 50

Chart Week: October 27, 1984
Song: “Purple Rain” – Prince & The Revolution
Chart Position: #4, 4th week on the chart. Peaked at #2 for two weeks in November.

(This ended up being a big coincidence, but not a bad choice for the 50th entry in this series!)

One of my favorite things about listening to old AT40’s is when they cause me to pour through old charts to examine the movement of various songs. I’m fascinated equally by songs that rocketed up the charts quickly, songs that hung around for months and months and months, and songs that had a brief moment on the charts before disappearing. It’s not just the trivia surrounding those songs I enjoy, but also thinking back to that time and remembering how (sometimes if) those songs penetrated the culture of the moment.

“Purple Rain” is a great example of a song with a chart history that gets my mental music memory neurons firing.

“Purple Rain” was the third single Prince released from the Purple Rain soundtrack. By then he was pretty much king of the world. Both “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” had topped the charts. Purple Rain was, briefly, the number one movie in the country, in a summer that was loaded with great movies. And the Purple Rain soundtrack had been the number one album for months.

It seemed like a sure thing that “Purple Rain” would also reach number one and serve as a cherry on the top of a magnificent year for Prince.

Nothing about the song’s chart rise put that into question. In four quick weeks it was already at #4. It was just a matter of time, right?

The song moved up to #3 its fifth week on the chart, sitting behind “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” and “Caribbean Queen.” All three songs held those spots the following week.

The week of November 17, “Purple Rain” climbed one more spot to #2. But it was leapfrogged by the song that ended up blocking it from #1. “Purple Rain” remained at #2 for two weeks before it began a rapid descent. By the last chart of the year, covering the week of December 22, “Purple Rain” had slipped from the Top 40 to #54.

The song that kept it from topping the Billboard Hot 100? Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” which held the top spot for three weeks. I hated that song when it came out. There was something in its bouncy optimism that seemed fake and forced to me. Perhaps because we were getting into the deep fall, when the sunlight disappears and we start to come to terms with spending months inside “Purple Rain” seemed much more appropriate to the moment.

While I came to eventually like some of Wham’s songs, I still hate that one. The crime of keeping “Purple Rain,” one of the greatest songs ever, out of the top slot is one that can not be forgiven.

There was never an official video for “Purple Rain.” I wonder if that affected its chart success in some, small way? Here is Prince and the Revolution’s performance in Syracuse, NY on March 30, 1985.

A Satisfying Ending

Sunday night I sat down to bang out some election thoughts. After about an hour and a couple beers I had over 2500 semi-coherent words. Younger me would have pushed on, getting everything out of my system, working until well after midnight to finish and then post the piece.

2020 me, though? He was ready for bed. And as morning dawns I feel like I want to take another, sober, stab at my 2020 election post. So here goes.

There has never been an election moment like Saturday, 11:30ish eastern time, when most press outlets finally submitted to the math and declared Joe Biden the winner and president-elect.

We had never sat through five days of staring at the TV, waiting for updated results while we listened to the analysts talk through the scenarios over-and-over again.

We had never got the call at mid-day on a Saturday, when people could flood from their homes and celebrate together in daylight.

And, of course, we’ve never had a loser – that’s right, loser – viewed with as much contempt as DJT.

Throw in a pandemic that has had us all isolated for eight months and it’s no wonder that the joy of the moment burst into spontaneous, street-filling celebrations in large cities around the country.

It was beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. We deserved that moment after the past four years of destruction.

Once it became obvious that the math was on Joe Biden’s side, sometime Wednesday I guess, I began fearing that the election would be called when I was away from the TV. I had errands to run, kids to drop off and pick up, etc. When I was home I was pretty much always in front of the TV, waiting for Steve Kornacki to share more positive numbers. It always seemed like some big vote drop was coming in Philly, in Atlanta, in Phoenix right before I had to leave the house.

Sure enough, I was dropping L off at a friend’s house at about 11:30 Saturday when I got a text from S saying “Joe Biden is president-elect!!”

Damn, damn, damn!

I hustled home, backed up the DVR, and was able to see the moment MSNBC called the race. For some reason it felt important to do that. I will always remember sitting in our friends’ driveway – Trump supporters no less! – and getting the text from S letting me know that it was over.

Thus, Saturday turned into an unforgettable day. It was gorgeous here, nearly 80, and seemed more like September than November. It may have been a reward for putting up with four years of hate and nonsense. But it could have been snowing and below zero and the day would still go down as perfect.

The stretched-out vote count felt like one of those epic, multi-overtime playoff hockey games. You equally wanted it to end and last forever. I became addicted to those little endorphin rushes of 25,000 new votes being uploaded in Allegheny County, and press conferences by local elections officials. I adjusted my daily activities around the shift changes at MSNBC. These moments were concrete and significant, unlike the normal bluster that fills time on political programs. I wanted the Biden win called, but I also wanted these tiny, tangible moments that mattered to continue to carry the day.

I enjoyed sharing this week with my girls. They all became anti-Trumpers independently four years ago. We never sat them down and explained how we felt, and why we felt that way, but they all picked it up. Which is a risky proposition in Indiana. Most of M’s peer group are Biden fans, but she does have a couple friends who are Trumpers. Apparently the mock election at CHS went to DJT 52–48. We are glad our girls have taken the proper path without any overt prodding from us.

So, it was fun for them to ask questions all week. It was fun for them to pass through the room and ask for updates. It was fun to catch them following the news on their own devices. It was fun to put on the political scientist hat I earned nearly three decades ago and talk them through the processes and institutions and functions of our democracy.

As excited as I am about Biden’s win, this election cycle was obviously a mixed bag. The Republicans will, most likely, maintain control of the Senate. Mitch McConnell has never wanted to build anything other than a Supreme Court majority in his life. But he lives to destroy things, and he no doubt has found a new will to live knowing he can spend the next four years preventing Biden from accomplishing anything. He is an absolute fuckhead.

The Democrats lost ground in the House. The district I live in was seen as a potential pick-up, and even seemed to be leaning blue in the final run-up to the election. The Republican – you can’t make this up, she was born in the Soviet Union and loves Trump – ended up winning easily. That was a huge bummer.

In another local election, though, our votes helped send the first Muslim to the Indiana state senate. This was my first general election in Marion County and it was nice to be in an overwhelmingly blue county. The neighborhoods we drive through every day were filled with signs for Biden and the other Democrats on the ballot. M spent Saturday night in a particularly blue neighborhood. I imagine if I had driven through it early Saturday afternoon there would have been people out on the sidewalks celebrating.

Of course the biggest disappointment is that over 70 million people still voted for Trump after his attempts to tear our country apart. After his four years of lies and conspiracy theories and support of racists and efforts to line his pockets. After his absolute botching of the worst crisis our country has faced since World War II. Joe Biden is about as vanilla of a candidate as the Democrats could have run out there. While he will end up winning the popular vote comfortably, the electoral college still relied on far too many narrow margins in battleground states. Even after all the hate and garbage that Trump has spewed, a huge chunk of the country still thought he was the better choice than a relatively safe opponent like Biden. That does not bode well for this country’s future.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo presented an argument that I like a lot: “Folks, Let’s Get It the Fuck Together.” Yes, there are disappointments and reasons to be concerned after this election. But the biggest goal, removing the most unfit, unqualified, destructive person who has ever occupied the presidency? We pulled that off. The future is full of perils and uncertainty. But DJT, willingly or not, will lose his legal mandate to lead the country in just over two months.

Biden was, at best, my third choice from the crowded Democratic primary field. But the argument that he was the best suited to beat Trump was always compelling. He neutered some of Trump’s favorite attack angles. The fact he presents as a fundamentally warm, decent, and unoffensive human being made it tough for Trump to grind him down. His age and experience creates direct links to the mythical “simpler” times when our country wasn’t so hyper-partisan and give hope that maybe at least some segments of the political community can come together for genuine debate and bargaining rather than constantly trying to destroy each other.

I think those hopes are unrealistic; a majority of the Republican leadership is far more concerned with obstruction and destruction that sitting down with Biden and finding avenues of working together to solve our country’s problems. Far too many Republicans see government as fundamentally evil and their roles are to keep cutting it off at the knees rather than presenting alternate, more restrained uses of government power.

Perhaps all that inertia is worth it just to get Trump out of office. I harbor no illusions that he will go away, though. Where most former presidents fade into the background, he will not shut up and the media will pay attention to everything he says. He will basically live on Fox, OAN, and perhaps his own future network, spouting his lies and hate without ever being challenged. I absolutely expect him to run again, which is a completely frightening prospect. Or one of his idiot kids will pick up the mantel in four years. And there’s no telling how much damage he will still do in the next two-plus months.

Bottom line, though, is that he will leave office as a loser.

For now, though, we have Biden to attempt to undo some of the many wrongs that were instituted over Trump’s reign. And we have Kamala Harris breaking through multiple barriers to show that for all the challenges that gender and race and lineage present, you can still plow through them all.

The victory may not be as total as we had wanted, but it is reason enough to celebrate for a bit.

A few other thoughts:

  • Steve Kornacki is the hero we need in this moment.
  • It bothered me that some in the media kept calling the events of last week a “Biden comeback.” No, it wasn’t a comeback. Many of the votes cast for Biden were cast well before Election Day. Just because they were counted after Election Day does not mean that he “came back.” This line fits into the Trumpian arguments that the election was stolen, since it creates the impression they were cast after Election Day. Happily most media members have moved away from this framing of the vote count.
  • I guess Trump’s final gift to our democracy is his complete undermining of it by claiming victory before the vote counting process is complete and then arguing that the election has been stolen from him. It is expected behavior. He’s always been a pathetic child and this is exactly what your shithead, four-year-old nephew does when he doesn’t get his way. It is shameful that so many mainstream Republicans are joining him. For a party that loves to prattle on about how their view of America is the proper, patriotic one, and how they are fulfilling the wishes of the founding fathers, they sure love to undercut the pillars of democracy at every opportunity.
  • Like most I was frustrated with the pace of the count. Until I realized how fundamentally different counting mail-in and provisional votes are. They aren’t registered automatically in the machine for easily tallying. They have to be physically touched and examined by multiple people before they can be scanned into the system. When you have literally millions of these around the country, it’s going to take awhile.
  • Each January, as I finish up my Christmas beers, I hide one Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale in the back of the beer fridge, saving it for a moment later in the year. Often those beers are pulled out after a big KU win in March or April. There were no opportunities for that this year, so my 2019 Celebration Ale still sat in the back corner of the fridge, waiting. Saturday evening I busted it out after Harris and Biden spoke. S had a drink of her own and I clicked my glass against hers, saying “Fuck Donald Trump,” as our toast. Yes, fuck him.

Fuck you, Don. Try not to destroy too many more things on your way out.

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