I regret to remind you that the United States is absolutely fucked

Yay, Joe Biden won.

But the rot that exists inside the United States, mostly with brain-dead right-wingers who are spoon-fed fascist propaganda 24 hours a day by a network owned by a nihilistic, elderly Australian billionaire, is not going anywhere any time soon I assure you.

The President has gotten his fake DOJ investigation and much like a participation trophy for a third-grader playing floor hockey, it will go up on his shelf and collect dust, signifying nothing, since there was no election fraud, nothing strange, certainly nothing that resulted in Trump losing five states that he won in 2016.

Folks, this is not how healthy countries behave. Joe Biden has been more gracious than he should have been considering how mendacious supposedly grown men and women in Congress continue to act about the election results. This rhetoric is going to get people killed.

The DOJ is going to find nothing because there’s nothing there to find. Literally everyone knows this except the only person these lawsuits are intended to mollify, the toddler who resides at 1600 Black Lives Matter Plaza. I feel compelled to remind you — these are the leaders of a national political party who are spreading lies and falsehoods about the election for one purpose only (other than trying to delegitimize Biden’s election, though that’s a bonus for them too) — to make sure Donald Trump’s fee fees aren’t hurt too badly by him losing an election.

This isn’t normal. None of this shit is normal. Your idiot neighbor or co-worker who believes any of this bullshit is not normal. We’re not normal. I can’t wait to fuck off out of this place forever.

Our long national nightmare is (almost) over – for now

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It would be fair to say I have a lot of feelings and emotions about the confirmation that Joe Biden will become the next president of the United States in 75 days. 

Of course, relief is the most overwhelming one. I’ve been very clear that the re-election of Donald Trump could have been the death knell for American democracy and seeing the shameful way Trump and his enablers in the right-wing media and in GOP politics have amplified numerous outright falsehoods about the integrity of the election only convinces me even more I was right. 

This was a close election, but ultimately Joe Biden is going to win as many states and electoral votes as Trump did in 2016, preventing the corruption of GOP federal judges and state legislatures from putting their thumb on the scales to tilt the election if it were closer, even if Biden tallied more electoral votes. 

The GOP disinformation machine was forced to stand down to the point where only the wingnuttiest of the ghouls in Trump’s corner like Rudy Guiliani, Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Kevin McCarthy were left to spout their falsehoods and lies about secret boxes, hidden back doors and (presumably) UFOs delivering votes in the night to inner-city precincts. 

It apparently didn’t occur to them that inner-city Blacks might have been a little incentivized to turn out and vote against the person who called their neighborhoods “hellholes”, but that’s another story for another day I suppose. 

For now, while jubilant that Trump himself has been removed from power, I’m still anxious and despondent that Trumpism itself has proven to be made of a bit more durable stuff and is going to be around for quite awhile I worry. 

To explain, it’s necessary for me to pay some compliments to Donald Trump, which runs counter to every instinct I’ve ever had, but critical for explaining why I’m still pessimistic about the future of the United States. I’ll also explain why there’s some hope for optimism as well. 

This election proved that Donald Trump’s political instincts remain very sharp. For the decades, the Holy Grail of electoral politics was figuring out a way to convince non-voters and first-time voters to participate in our democracy. Trump figured out the cheat code — appeal to their basest, most reactionary instincts and turn the presidency into a reality show.

Americans LOVE reality shows. Refer to Mexicans as rapists, call John McCain a loser — the thing or person or idea getting attacked is irrelevant as long as all of the attention for doing so is on Trump. 

This feedback cycle overwhelmed our media and overwhelmed us as a nation until he had managed to depress turnout enough to secure a narrow win in 2016 with the help of misogyny, the FBI and Russian hackers. Once installed as president, the media is forced to cover everything the president does as newsworthy, giving Trump not only the biggest reality show in the world with him at the center of it, but an enormous grifting trough, also as large as the planet.

He used that feedback loop to build the base even bigger. During a once-in-a-century pandemic that he bungled the response to — arguably worse than any leader in the world — Donald Trump is going to get the second-most votes of any presidential candidate in American history. That’s an amazing feat and created a strong downballot performance from GOP senators and representatives on the federal and state level. 

That we are lucky enough Trump himself is odious enough the idea of another four more years of a Trump presidency bound together every wing of the country from the center to the far left, from former GOP grifters like those in the Lincoln Project to actual socialists, ones that make AOC seem like the second coming of Phyllis Schafly by comparison.

Without a full repudiation at the ballot box, we are left in limbo —simply waiting for a more personable and dignified fascist like Tom Cotton or Josh Hawley to take up the mantle of continuing to build the GOP into a grievance-based white nationalist party completely disinterested in governing the nation and more interested in dismantling everything most Americans like about our society, from drivable roads to breathable air.

They may not have the showman’s chops to pull it off, but a frighteningly large segment of the American population have exposed themselves as credulous rubes, ready to believe anything sold to them by a snake oil salesman as long as they remained frightened by words they don’t understand like “election observers” or “socialism”. 

The marriage of Trump and the GOP was an unholy one — both once upstanding pillars of American society, even if both had already been tainted by years of impropriety and scandal well before their glory days of the mid-80s. Trump used the GOP and the GOP used Trump and now they’re both used up and there’s nowhere to go but all the way to the bottom. Will they take America down with them?

No, we’ve not heard the last of Donald Trump or Trumpism. He will be asked — BEGGED — to stump for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in their Georgia Senate runoffs and if he consents those rallies will be something to behold. Trump raging against enemies real or imagined, an unhinged arsonist standing on a pile of kindling.

If his legal future weren’t so uncertain I would feel confident Trump could remain a GOP kingmaker for the rest of his life, so powerful will be the allure of pure, uncut Trumpism to his jonesing, dope-sick base.

His future IS uncertain however. There will be many stories written about where he goes from here and the options are fairly infinite. There are scenarios for which he pardons himself for various crimes and parks himself at the Mar-A-Lago buffet until his oleaginous  heart finally bursts or the bile in his body finally reaches a critical mass and destroys him from the inside. 

He could (and should) face the full force of the federal justice system for countless crimes against the people of the United States, which if we’re being sporting could be limited to financial crimes alone, but would still probably render him confined to a minimum security federal pokey for the rest of his miserable life. 

Or maybe Melania justifiably takes a 3-iron to his dome and skedaddles back to Slovenia. Like I said, sky’s the limit really. 

I do know that the future for the GOP is Trumpism. They have no other paths now, no other North Star, no other guiding lights. Even Mitt Romney has sold his soul. They were heading that way anyway, but they hitched their cart to a narcissistic, misanthropic, misogynistic white nationalist and a not very subtle one at that.

If that makes you a little depressed, here’s where I explain why I have some hope. 

While praising Trump earlier for his accidental organizing skills by bringing together all aspects of American deplorables under one tent, where conspiracy theorists are free to mingle with white nationalists, climate change deniers, Holocaust deniers, Rush Limbaugh and other assorted right-wing scum, he also accidentally built a national resistance and cemented over a lot of left-wing fissures that he was able to exploit successfully in 2016. 

The story of the American left since the 1968 Democratic Convention is that trying to convincing yourself any kind of lesson learned is folly, but millions of new voters and organizers have been added to the ranks of the politically conscious. 

What is done is harder to undo — liberals and centrists alike have gotten a taste for the fight and might not be as willing to recede into the background and quietly govern as would have been the case if Hillary had squeaked out a narrow victory in 2016. 

Yes, the federal judiciary has been packed to the gills with semi-literate Trump acolytes for a generation and there will be no changes to that for at least two years, but if – a HUGE if to be sure – the factions of the left can maintain their detente to both govern and bend the will of the public to a new kind of liberalism, it will not be hard to inspire voters to the polls every two years for the foreseeable future to prevent a repeat of the past four years. 

If you want to be really, really optimistic that could be the worst of the best-case scenarios.

Yet another possibility is without Trump on the ballot, there is no Trumpism. If you think that’s not possible remember the GOP got smoked in the 2018 midterms without Trump on the ballot. The two runoffs in Georgia might be the canary in the coalmine that the Republican Party has sealed its own demise by getting in bed with the likes of Donald Trump.

At least a few million Trump supporters were brought into their devotion and fealty as first-time voters in 2016 and 2020 and could realize the extent of the way they were conned as news reports steadily dribble out about his corruption and his distain for his supporters. Q is not arresting anyone. There is no one pulling the strings, no evil mastermind behind the curtain.

This backlash could be what ultimately destroys the Republican Party.

Once America is returned to good (at least competent) governance under a Biden administration it might start to dawn on a lot of people that they were effectively held hostage under the whims of a madman for four years and the media was complicit in amplifying his every utterance as breaking news (as would usually be befitting the President of the United States). Trump exploited the media against itself and against the American people and should pay in the court of public opinion if nowhere else. 

His enablers in the Republican Party will have no excuses, no rocks they can hide behind. Everyone knew who Donald Trump is. Everyone knows who Donald Trump is. The debasement of the GOP was almost completely total. If association with Donald Trump becomes a non-starter politically in this country, the Republican Party will essentially no longer exist.

He is a charlatan, a con-man, incurious, unorganized, self-absorbed and cares not one iota for the United States of America. These stories will come out. They might come out before Trump is officially out of office. His loyalty is not to the Republican Party any more than it is to the United States. His only loyalty is to Donald John Trump. He might bring down the whole circus on top of his head just for fun or to show that he can.

After all, no one likes to be used or played for a fool.

For now, while there is still damage he can do his final weeks in office, he has finally been exposed as the emperor who has no clothes. His political impotence as a lame-duck president is already palpable as is his fear of prosecution and ridicule.  

Not my (our) problem any more. I don’t know how the saga of Trumpism will end — with the GOP gone the way of the Whigs in four years, a new ascendant center-right conservative party interested in governing jointly with the Democrats taking up the necessary role of a conservative counterbalance in our politics. 

Or with the burgeoning ranks of Trump-lite copycats like Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes — ignorant in their own way, but with a tiny, tiny bit more dignity and class and a little less panache figuring out they too can lead America’s too-large populations of bigots and imbeciles to do anything they ask so long as they make sure to wrap it in the flag, unfounded fears of socialism, and owning the libs. 

That’s gonna have to be good enough for me. I knew that months ago Trump had a very good chance to win this election and did what I had to do to protect my family, my assets and my sanity. This week proved me right in a sense, even if I’m beyond elated ultimately I was wrong. 

For now, that’s something to celebrate. 

Quick update/VOTE!

Yes, things have been quiet around here. With the latest surge in COVID-19 cases we’ve been holed up at home and trying to organize where we can for our move, but much like the rest of the world, we’re just waiting to see what happens with the election this week. 

For our part, we voted in-person last week (Nevada has two weeks of early voting) and now it’s the same nervousness and doom-scrolling on Twitter that it seems everyone else is doing. 

I was thinking about maybe doing a longer piece today, but I don’t know that I have the attention or the mental bandwidth at the moment. I’ll have a lot of thoughts on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning depending on which way it goes. 

I’m confident that a vast majority of Americans want to remove Donald Trump. I’m not confident that the federal courts won’t intervene on his behalf and essentially end 244 years of democracy in favor of a minority-rule apartheid state, in which case you might as well re-name the country “Trumpland”. 

But, for now, we still live in a democracy and I’m hoping for the best. If you haven’t voted yet, please get out and vote on Tuesday. Lives, especially those of the senior citizens in our country, depend on it. 

Sold!

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After a whirlwind weekend that saw our home booked for somewhere around 20 showings, we received four offers and just signed the paperwork on a purchase agreement to sell the house for considerably over the asking price. (If everything proceeds as scheduled, it’ll be a matter of public record, but for now don’t want to jinx anything).

By the way, it was my intention all along to have this blog be a forum for some longer pieces getting into this process a little, but I’ve found this specific part (selling our home) isn’t really terribly interesting to anyone except ourselves really. No one needs or cares to know what an ordeal it is to prepare a home for sale. You’ve either done it yourself and know all too well or don’t care.

And that’s fine! Truthfully, I don’t think anyone is terribly interested in the nuts and bolts of the sale of anyone’s home, especially mine. But hoping to tackle some topics in the coming weeks like what it’s been like to live in Las Vegas, the process of what goes into moving overseas and then eventually of course, what it’s like to live in Mexico.

For now, you get intermittent updates and random crap (for the most part).

Our timeline now looks something like this:

•House closes escrow/we have to be out – Dec. 4

•Fly to Michigan for the holidays/have somewhere to live until next year – approximately Dec. 13 (the time in between will be some decompressing, some farewells, selling our vehicles and anything else we don’t want to keep in storage, etc.)

•Fly back to Las Vegas to finalize anything that needs finalizing (more on this in the weeks ahead for those of you who like teasers) – approximately Jan. 3

•Fly to Mexico – approximately Jan. 5

All those dates are up in the air still though as the process of selling or buying a home even after a purchase price has been agreed on can be full of roadblocks, so we’re going to try and stay positive and keep getting ready for this move.

For now, we’re celebrating an exciting day!

Goodbye, good boy

Caught lounging earlier in the summer, 2020.

We had to say goodbye today to our beloved Houston dog. His joint and hip problems kept getting worse and worse and he wasn’t going to be able to handle either being dragged in and out of the house for showings or even to a doggie daycare. The truth is we probably let ourselves be blinded to the fact he’s been getting worse for quite awhile, but we didn’t want to say goodbye.

We adopted Houston in May 2018 after learning that he had been at the adoption shelter for 18 months. You’d think that would mean that he wasn’t friendly or didn’t like being around people very much, but nothing could be further from the truth. For the life of me I don’t know why anyone didn’t want to adopt him (other than his age) because he’s one of the coolest dogs I’ve ever known. We had a good idea we made a good choice when all of the shelter staff (and I mean everyone who was there came by to say goodbye to him and tell us what a good boy he is.)

He loved attention from people, so much so that if you tried to stop petting him he was apt to stick his head and lift up your hand until you’d start back up again or follow you around the room if you walked away. He ended up being very choosy about food (you can probably mostly blame Tanya for that one), but it might be just as well because he was the most flatulent dog I’ve ever known. More than once he cleared us out of the living room while watching TV as a family.

And he was a loyal guard dog to Tanya, overprotective whenever another dog would get anywhere near her which meant even if not for the bad hips and joints, long walks would have been more or less out of the question. So we adapted and made sure to take him for car rides until discovering that he would get so excited during car rides he would often poop.

So we adapted to that quirk as well and try to walk him around the front yard for as long as it took him to relieve himself if we wanted to take him for a ride. He was funny, brave, tough, loyal and lovable. Anything you could ever want in a dog and more. Anyone who had the chance to adopt him in those 18 months and didn’t is an idiot.

Houston (aka Bubba, aka Bubbasaurus): Say hi to Sydney, Willie, Larry and Zeke and one of these days we’ll see all of you guys again ourselves.

Who wants to buy a house in Las Vegas?

Home available to a good home.

Our house is officially for sale. You can see the listing here for yourself. We’re not scheduling any showings until Friday to hopefully build interest and then in this supposedly seller-friendly real estate market the hope is to have received an offer by the weekend. 

It’s all very exciting of course and the culmination of a LOT of work, especially by Tanya to get the house organized to the point where we could do these photos and have the house ready to be viewed by the public. 

Stress levels right now between all of this, the election, my normal work-related stress and everything else going on in the world like a worldwide pandemic are through the roof, but I’m keeping to a strict diet of mind-altering substances and booze to keep my mind limber. 

The plans for the rest of the year are all contingent on how quickly the house sells. If we get lucky and get an offer right away and closing is scheduled for around the end of November, we’ll probably end up spending most of the month of December in Michigan living with family before moving to Mexico the first week of January. (We’re moving after the first of the year for a variety of reasons — tax-related and logistical since it seems like rents are cheaper and there is more availability after New Year’s.)

If it takes a few weeks to sell we might end up only going back to Michigan around the holidays before moving, but like I said — it’s all up in the air. 

As for now, the waiting game begins but in the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson “The waiting game sucks, let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos”

And the house is on the market

Well, almost. Technically it doesn’t go on MLS sites and all of that officially until Tuesday, but we signed all of the paperwork with the Realtors today and are listing the house at $360,000. Everyone says it will go quick, but we’re trying to temper expectations around here. Still it’s an exciting time.

The last week has been a blur of cleaning, packing, organizing, more packing, more cleaning and we’re exhausted, so gonna enjoy a weekend of doing absolutely nothing and getting ready for more craziness next week.

Going Out Of Business Sale!!!

Well, it’s a moving sale at least.

It’s been a quiet week at the ‘ol blog here, but not for us. We’ve been working 16-hour days getting things ready for our moving/garage sale this weekend, which starts this morning. I’ve been working all day at work and then the evenings and poor Tanya has been working literally all day, but we got everything done thanks to some help from a bunch of our friends (shoutout to Ambre, Audrey, Kevin, Jeannie, Lou and Teri!).

If you’re in Las Vegas, stop by any time during the day until Saturday to buy some of our crap (er, valuable items…)

In remembrance of 1 October

The Vegas Golden Knights have retired jersey number #58 in honor of the victims of 1 October

October 1st will always be a rough day for me, no matter where I may live. 

Today is the third anniversary of the worst mass shooting in American history, a distinction I fear that will be surpassed in the near future, just as it didn’t take but about 14 months for the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 to be topped. 

Thinking about it three years later, what I feel the most is anger. For two very different reasons. 

The first reason is when you live in Las Vegas, you feel a responsibility to make sure tourists who come here are safe and having a good time. Sure, we grumble about the most annoying tourists from time to time amongst ourselves, but it’s a small price to pay to get to live in one of the most exciting cities in the world. We get to live that energy 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and want anyone who visits to Las Vegas to feel that excitement no matter where they are or what they’re doing. 

On October 1, 2017, we failed those 58 souls who perished. All but six of them were tourists and a madman not only killed them, but punctured the bubble that those of us who live here feel and in some ways, the town has never been the same since.

We have family visiting this week and two days ago had just happened to drive by the festival grounds where the Route 91 Festival was happening that evening and I’m always reminded that the 58 trusted they would be safe that night and let themselves give in to the vibe we try to cultivate here where you’re free to have a good time and leave your everyday concerns back in Chicago or Cleveland or Tulsa.

The second reason I’m angry is because the response to the shooting from federal lawmakers, most especially Republicans, is literally nothing because the tool the madman used to kill them was a gun and guns are sacred for Republicans. 

Put another way, the 9/11 terrorists in four coordinated attacks over the entire eastern seaboard of the United States killed 2,977 Americans in an attack that spanned several hours. The response from Americans and the Republican Party was to lay waste to two entire countries, one of which had nothing to do with the attack, spend $7 trillion to do so and give the lives of several thousand American servicemembers as well as hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghanis. 

One weak, motherfucking man with several guns killed 5 percent of the people who died on 9/11 in only ten minutes in an area the size of a parking lot and the fucking Republican cowards in Congress DO NOTHING.

It makes my blood boil to this day that the cult of guns is so strong that 20 second-graders and six of their teachers can be literally slaughtered, 49 innocent club-goers can be literally slaughtered and 58 people in my hometown can be literally slaughtered with weapons of war and nothing can be done about it because so many of my fellow Americans are so weak and pathetic they just accept it as the price for allowing these weapons on our streets. 

It’s unacceptable, it’s sickening, it’s perverted and most of all it’s angering beyond belief. 

So fuck it. You can have this fucking country. May those 58 people and their families one day know some peace, but I fear they never will because the answer to their deaths was a resounding “fuck you” from Republicans everywhere.

America is now a mafia state

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Wanted to share this really great interview with Sarah Kendzior, a scholar of authoritarianism who has written an excellent book recently about Donald Trump, which frames him correctly not as a “corrupt politician” but as the head of an international crime syndicate.

Just take the 5 to 10 minutes to read the interview, but wanted to highlight some especially important points not only to her explanation of how Donald Trump’s worldview is less “fascist” and more about trying to exploit the wealth of the United States, consequences be damned. It’s also relevant since the failed systems in the US she discusses are one of the reasons we’re leaving regardless of the results of the election in November.

Put simply — the United States is a failed state and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. I don’t feel like I can effect some positive change in that regard, so we’re making the decision we need to make for our finances, for our sanity and for our overall well-being. Your decisions and needs may vary, but we have to go.

About the recent bombshell NY Times piece that showed that Trump has paid virtually no US income taxes for the last 15 years at least:

As for the debt and other information revealed in the NYT piece, none of this is surprising, but people need to learn how to interpret it. People should review his mentor Roy Cohn — Trump’s tax-dodging, mobbed-up, media-savvy lawyer who was the biggest influence in his life. Cohn dreamed of dying owing the US government enormous amount of money, and in 1986, he did. Acquisition of wealth is not the goal for either Trump or Cohn; debt is not a problem for them. A luxurious lifestyle, powered by fraud and threat and untouchable by law, is the goal. People need to examine not only Cohn and Trump’s crimes but the complicit actors that enabled them, which in this case includes the I.R.S., the Department of the Treasury and other broken U.S. institutions. Trump and Cohn are symptoms of a broader disease.

About Trump’s autocratic tendencies:

Every country that becomes a dictatorship started with a chorus of people saying, “It can’t happen here.” It can happen anywhere. And in 2015, the U.S. was extremely vulnerable to autocracy. We had experienced fourteen years of eroded institutional trust due to 9/11 and the illegal wars in its aftermath, we had endured unremedied economic hardship, and we were also contending with hyper-partisanship, a rise in racist violence, and the upheaval of digital technology. Those are the conditions where demagogues emerge, and Trump launched his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers. It was obvious he was going to campaign as a demagogue to rule as an autocrat...

But I’ve largely called him an authoritarian or autocrat instead of a fascist because “fascist” implies loyalty to the state. A fascist wants to embody and expand the state and usually has imperial ambitions. Whereas Trump wants to destroy the U.S.: he wants to strip it down and sell it off for parts to both domestic and foreign backers. His cohort’s ambitions are similar to what oligarchs and other hyper-capitalists did to the U.S.S.R. after its collapse — which is not surprising because the Kremlin and an associated network of plutocrats and oligarchs are the prime backers of this operation.

Like I said, a really interesting illuminating interview. Be sure to check it out.