The American Voter’s Big Damn Choice: Principles vs. Power

Confess it now, I am registered as a Democratic voter in America. And if you’ve ever loved a sports team that consistently chokes in the playoffs, then you understand what it is like to support a party that struggles with its conscience so acutely. For every apology and resignation, for every political bean that wobbles on policies to meet poll-tested expectations, the party grows more and more flaccid.

However, disappointing as Democratic candidates and officials may be, they are not solely to blame for the party’s crushing losses. The voters are perhaps the most complicit. Yes, you. You with the protest votes. You with the disgruntled Facebook posts.

You, the voter, are the worst.

And this is probably because you have not yet recognized the empirical truth that there is a binary choice in American elections that never changes–no matter the politicians, the party, the year, or the economy:

You can vote for power, or you can let your principles vote against power.

I shouted this during Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House. Yeah, she never figured out an inspiring message and she sounded like a robot most of the time. Sure, she wanted it so badly that there was froth caked on the edges of her mouth for the better part of a year. That was gross.

But I sat back in horror, absolutely agog that so many of my friends and cohorts were willing to give away their power in favor of their principles by staying home on Election Day. Or voting for Jill Stein. Or writing in Bernie or Tyrion Lannister.

They bemoaned, Bernie “should have” won (except that he lost). Hillary isn’t progressive enough. The DNC played foul with the primaries. Hillary has dirt under her fingernails (as if most voters could actually describe the dirt in detail). She hasn’t spoken out on [fill in the blank] issue recently enough. She’s going to win anyway…

Yes, you and your principles did the nation dirty.

Your heart couldn’t help it. You were swayed by some kind of notion of honor or rebellion or fantasy. And so you commandeered a luxury you had no right to–the luxury of voting for your principles with no regard for the cold, hard reality of power. And, really, how dare you?

It’s good to have principles. They are fine and good for journals and diaries. They are moving at dinner parties.  It is a worthy fight to assert your heart’s courageous burnings when encouraging candidates to run, shoring up votes, raising funds, or (more importantly) advocating legislative electoral changes between election cycles.

But once the ballots are finalized, the time for principles has come and gone. If you want power, you choose between the Democratic nominee or the Republican. One of those two will win. One of those two will nominate judges. One of those two will impact climate change. One of those two will alter your health care choices.

If your principles ache in denial of reality, then I feel for you. Nothing about politics is fair. Damn straight, there should be a viable multi-party system. Damn straight, Iowa shouldn’t get to caucus first. Damn straight, the Electoral College shouldn’t supersede the popular vote. Damn straight, you liked that other primary candidate better.

It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair!

I know.

But now that we’ve gotten that whingeing out of our systems, we can touch back down to earth and accept the bleak truth that if you want power, you have to vote in the election that is real. Not the one in your fantasies.

Let’s put it this way: Suppose you sit down at a table with a Monopoly game laid out and begin shouting “But I want to play Scrabble!” You kick your feet and line up letter tiles along the edge of the board. The problem, of course, is that you’re going to lose. Because the game is Monopoly.

Play the game. Win the game. Take the power, as imperfect and compromised as it may be.

I truly hope that your principles may always intersect with the sober choice of handing someone power. But if they don’t, suck it up, stash your letter tiles away for another night, and start mortgaging your red properties before Aunt Griselda gets her sweaty racist mitts on both Park Place and Boardwalk.

Democrats, don’t you let me down again. Your principles aren’t high-minded and sexy when health, safety, and equality are on the line. Play the game in front of you. Play it for power.

 

Bah, Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge, American Politics, and the Republican Party

Or “The Political Dichotomy of Ebenezer Scrooge as Depicted by SJW Charles Dickens”

Welcome to the holly jolly time of year when we all smile a little brighter, we all drink a little more eggnog, and we all (oh so briefly) smile at the sight of snowflakes. And while we drape our tinsel and wrap our gifts, most of us will watch some form of the Charles Dickens masterpiece, A Christmas Carol. My personal favorite being the Married With Children television episode entitled “It’s a Bundyful Life” which featured guest-star Sam Kinison as a screaming angel. Scrooged, starring Bill Murray, is also at the top of the list.

What you may not have ever considered is that Dickens offers us a curiously apt allegory for modern American political views. Actually, they were designed quite deliberately as a moral tale for the mid-19th century, when Dickens experienced and witnessed terrible poverty and suffering. It is no secret that he was a social activist who advocated education reform, labor changes, and support for women and children.

But a lot of that is rightfully swept aside when we watch A Christmas Carol, or Scrooged, or Mickey’s Christmas Carol, or The Muppets Christmas Carol, or even Ebbie. Instead all of us, no matter our political stripe, focus on the sweet and sad story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation and yuletide magic. 

This is a jolly reminder, though, that the story is about more than Carol Kane hitting Bill Murray with a toaster, and is also very fun to use for taunting my Conservative friends with on social media every single December. May the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future help you ponder your political stance this holiday season.

Are You the “Before-Scrooge”?

Ask yourself that question in a very thoughtful way. What about the leaders you vote for? Which are they? Quite notably and deliberately, the priorities and values of Ebenezer Scrooge, our crusty miser, at the beginning of each tale mirror the views of many right-wing Conservatives:

  • Money and business are the highest priorities, and holiday cheer is manufactured for profit. As long as the economy is strong, then all is right in the world.
  • Charities do not deserve donations, for the poor should better themselves and stop mooching off of successful businessmen, such as Scrooge.
  • There is always someone with hands held out wanting a free lunch, and Scrooge isn’t buying.
  • Love and care are distractions from the bottom line. Think of Scrooge’s Belle as our planet and its wildlife, trees, oceans, and rolling hills. Just like Belle, the planet is just done with us, because we prioritize profit and treat her like crap.
  • Ebenezer’s protege, Bob Cratchit, doesn’t deserve more coal or pay because he does not have a desirable skill set to have an inherently higher value in the workforce.
  • Tiny Tim’s health care is hardly Scrooge’s problem, and the idea of others contributing toward the little lad’s well-being is  another way for the poor to mooch off of greater society.

It takes a hardened heart who sees dollar signs in the face of suffering.

Or the “After-Scrooge”?

After the three ghosts scare the bejeezus out of Ebenezer, he starts to adopt a new outlook on priorities and helping others. The Cratchit family gets a big Christmas goose, though they have done nothing in particular to deserve one (and for all Scrooge knows, they might end up selling some of the leftovers for god knows what). The charity fellows get a sizable donation, and Tiny Tim is promised top-notch healthcare that his family can afford. Ma Cratchit might even go get some birth control pills. 

Truly though, Scrooge’s transformation seems to appeal universally to people around the world. I know of none of my Conservative pals who watch the Dickensian tale and cry out that Scrooge lost his way by the end.

Yet, when the tinsel is packed away and the leftovers are all gone, they go back to their lives and their social media posts and their political stances like they wish they could elect “Before-Scrooge” to lead them. Nothing is free; you have to work hard and earn it. If you had value, you’d be winning. Tax breaks. Banks will save us. If it’s worthy, capitalism will fix it. The party of misers. The party of Jacob Marley.

We can’t hope for three ghosts to visit each Conservative household and reveal glimpses of our racial and misogynistic past, people starving and going without healthcare in the present, and a burning planet in the future. So our only hope is that the little child in our hearts who loves Christmas and always quietly cheered, “God bless us, everyone” will keep the spirit alive all year long. We can all be the “After-Scrooge” if we keep the Christmas flame burning.

Merry Christmas to all.

muppet_xmas_carol.jpg

It’s the Fabulous 2020 Democratic Debates BINGO-ish Drinking Game!

Welcome to the November-December, 2019 edition of our favorite BINGO-ish drinking game sport! Let’s get excited for the upcoming Democratic Primary Debates!

The rules are simple: Assign one card to each person. Each card has a list of debate participants and things that (s)he might say or do. There is overlap between some cards, but no two cards are identical. Every time an item on your list occurs during the debate, take a drink!

Sips might be best, because it is going to be a loooong night. Keep those cards out in the open for all to see. And play it cool–you only need sip the first time a word/phrase is mentioned during any one answer or exchange. So if Elizabeth Warren calls Trump 6 different names in a row, just take the one sip.

No need to mark anything off, this is a game of survival. Unless you want to. These cards are BINGO-compatible, or you can just drink for anything on your list, and feel free to yell BINGO! just for fun whenever you like.

There are no winners here, just like the debate. There is only shame, intoxication, mockery, and Biden giving everyone a back rub.

Warning: Alcoholic drinking games are dangerous and stupid, and can lead to harm to person, property body, and soul. If you choose to imbibe, do so responsibly, look out for you and your friends’ well-being, and never drive while under the influence. In fact, you should probably just play this with iced tea and get a lovely night’s rest. Play with booze, and you do so at your own peril.

Here they are, four different cards for your alcoholic enjoyment:

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - Nov2019 a2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - Nov2019 b2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - Nov2019 c2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - Nov2019 d

Brexit and the Irish Border: Let’s Explain It!

Shout out to my friends and family in America who still think that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are all one country, and part of the UK.

America has its own shitshow of problems, so it isn’t surprising that so many ‘Muricans have no idea what is going not with Ireland and Brexit. It’s okay. I’ll explain it in terms that can make this accessible to most anyone.

Let’s start with the basics:

One Island, Two Countries

Ireland is a single island, but it is comprised of two separate countries: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Map of Ireland and Northern Ireland.jpg

The Republic of Ireland is an independent sovereign country that gained its independence from Great Britain between 1916 and 1919. It is a member of the European Union (EU), and uses the Euro as its currency.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is Brexiting the European Union along with the rest of the UK, and uses the UK sterling currency (pounds).

How Ireland Split in Two

From 1801 to 1916, all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, and subject to the laws and rule of the British. This was not a happy time for most of Ireland. There was massive exploitation, starvation, and a myriad of abuses on the part of Britain, not to mention the Great Irish Famine. For much of its union, the English ruling class looked down on the Irish as helpless children who couldn’t manage their own affairs, and treated them with contempt and neglect. To sum it up: The Brits were huge dicks. Continue reading “Brexit and the Irish Border: Let’s Explain It!”

It’s the Fabulous 2020 Democratic Debates BINGO-ish Drinking Game!

Excited for the September 12, 2019 Democratic Primary Debates? Let’s drink!

The rules are simple: Assign one card to each person. Each card has a list of debate participants and things that (s)he might say or do. There is overlap between some cards, but no two cards are identical. Every time an item on your list occurs during the debate, take a drink!

Sips might be best, because it is going to be a loooong night. Keep those cards out in the open for all to see. And play it cool–you only need sip the first time a word/phrase is mentioned during any one answer or exchange. So if Elizabeth Warren calls Trump 6 different names in a row, just take the one sip.

No need to mark anything off, this is a game of survival. Unless you want to. These cards are BINGO-compatible, or you can just drink for anything on your list, and feel free to yell BINGO! just for fun whenever you like.

There are no winners here, just like the debate. There is only shame, intoxication, mockery, and Beto standing on a chair.

Warning: Alcoholic drinking games are dangerous and stupid, and can lead to harm to person, property body, and soul. If you choose to imbibe, do so responsibly, look out for you and your friends’ wellbeing, and never drive while under the influence. In fact, you should probably just play this with iced tea and get a lovely night’s rest. Play with booze, and you do so at your own peril.

Here they are, four different cards for your alcoholic enjoyment:

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD A.jpg

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD B

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD C.jpg

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD D.jpg

 

The Fake Melania Conspiracy Theory

It’s completely bonkers to even entertain the “Fake Melania” theory. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

First Lady Melania Trump has a fondness for large sun spectacles that hide a third of her face. And if I may offer some fashion commentary for which I am entirely ill qualified, she wears them more often than one might find stately in a First Lady. Hiding one’s eyes can be regarded as a sign of something else to hide, not to mention that I find it rude to greet a new person without showing your face. It’s sort of like not removing a hat when you sit down to eat or enter someone’s home.

Decorum aside, there is one more reason the First Lady may want to reconsider her constant bespectacled state: It has fueled a very odd rumor, that a body double has been occasionally been appearing in her place.

Even if it were true, it would hardly be the craziest scandal. Melania was dragged into her role as international hostess with little warning. When she vowed to honor and cherish Donny Blimpo, she could hardly have imagined what awaited her. Her future was supposed to be a life of quiet splendor from atop Manhattan. The responsibility and scrutiny heaped on her has cast a harsh light on her behavior, grammar, fashion choices, Donny Blimpo’s porn star proclivities, and every other crack and crevice in her life.

So not only would I hardly be surprised if she did explore the option of a body double, I wouldn’t blame her. What is all that money good for if you can’t hire a model to slip on your shoes and hold hands with your beef-wreaking marital partner?

That doesn’t mean it’s true, though, no matter what the interwebs say. Let’s explore how the rumors started and what’s really behind those giant dark glasses.

Origins of the Fake Melania Theory: October, 2017

It was autumn, 2017, and the Trumps were heading out on a trip to visit a Secret Service training facility in Maryland. They paused on the White House lawn to address reporters. Melania is dressed in a trench coat and trademark jumbo shades, which is completely evocative of a spy costume. Between that and her body language, which arguably looks bored and uncomfortable, spectators begin to wonder if it is really her.

melania-body-double-trump

Adding massive fuel to the fire: President Trump actually says during that gaggle, “My wife, Melania, who happens to be right here…”. The interwebs collectively point out that this is exactly what Donny would say if she wasn’t right there.

Continue reading “The Fake Melania Conspiracy Theory”

2020 Democratic Candidates Compared

Everybody, we have a long and bloody road ahead of us until Election Day, 2020. The Monster Politic is just starting to awaken from its very short slumber, and the cable news channels are already feeding the beast and prepping the arena for some of the most ungladiator-like combat in the history of the worrrrrrld.

So, Dems, who are we going to throw in the arena with Lumpy the Orange Foul-Mouthed Blob? Will it be the DNA-tested woman who likes to video herself drinking a beer according to a script? Will it be the fuzzy-domed muppet who admits to loving socialism? Or maybe the dude who brags about watching porn with his mom.

So many choices!

Realizing you might need a little help picking which hero to give your favor to, I have devised a very helpful, very scientific overview of every current 2020 Democratic primary candidate:

2020 Democratic Candidates - HauntedCoconut.com

Choose your candidate wisely. We only get one chance to crowbar that orange lump out of the White House and spray for crabs.

Political Correctness: Reflections on Being an Asshole

Political correctness is the poison-tipped sword pointed at the armor of the average American asshole, for the asshole is on a great, noble quest, larger than that of humor, cruelty, or domination. Assholes stand behind a great bulwark of free speech in order to assert their basic human rights. And in the name of freedom, they cast their gaze upon the hurt and horrified sword wielders, and dub them “snowflakes”.  These great knights of vulgarity are righteous in their endeavor to preserve traditions and fortify the American spirit against the delicate.

It is a lovely fairytale. We have heard similar tales from local citizens at a nearby bar, from our grandfathers and uncles at holiday dinners, and from asshole celebrities, like Bill Maher or Rush Limbaugh. I am therefore a bit sad to present the argument that their tale is mere fantasy invented by assholes, for assholes, to protect them from consequence and remorse.

I.

One cannot ever be certain which words, gestures, outfits, or social media posts may be offensive, for offense is entirely the domain of those who perceive it. This is a frustrating truth, especially to those of us who write and crack jokes now and then. Satire may be taken as truth. Parody may be viewed as propaganda. Shenanigans may be seen as insults. This, friends, is the risk we take in the delicate art of communication. If only wishing made it so that I could control the reaction of every eardrum and eyeball so that what I find humorous was laughed at, and that the absurd was recognized universally.

The fault does not lie with the offended, though. Delicate sensibilities can arise from grief, fear, anger, and being shit upon throughout one’s entire life. Just as the asshole cannot control the domain of perceived insults, the offended cannot control the filter through which they digest words and deeds. This is the consequence of so many disparate roads of experience intersecting, criss-crossing, and getting tangled like a knot of spaghetti.

Since neither the asshole nor the snowflake has control, the ongoing saga of enduring each other’s company must be done with a series of deliberate choices, and a fair acceptance of consequences for those choices.

II.

When the common asshole ventures to make a joke or commit an act that he senses may be reviled by snowflakes, a calculation must be made: What is the price he is willing to pay for the expression?

Even the most impudent assholes will typically never don blackface for Halloween, for example. For even if the asshole himself is not offended, and he intends no malice in the act, he, at the very least, recognizes that society has established mores against the practice for the last fifty years. The price for doing so would be extreme: The asshole may be violently attacked, may attract the attention of local news, and may lose his job, friends, and any shred of social standing he had left. Ostracism is the bare minimum price for such a crude act.

This is an extreme example, of course. The difficulty for the average asshole can be in calculating the cost of acts or words for which mores are still being formed, or remain unclear.

Returning to the Halloween scenario, an asshole may dress in caricature form as a Native American or a Mexican. The taboo exists, but not quite to the extent that complete ostracism is the cost. The nature of such an offense is still evolving, and so the rules and consequences are shifting even from year to year. It is understandable that the moving goalposts of offense are confusing and frustrating to assholes, but these shifts must be added to the risk-reward calculation for wearing such a costume. The thinking asshole might consider that such a costume is a high-risk proposition. Not only might people be more vocal in their offense than in prior decades, there could be personal consequences for the asshole.

Not every situation is so grievous for the asshole, however. Sometimes the calculation is more nuanced. For example, when I consume a surfeit of wine at Thanksgiving and become an asshole, I must make the calculation: If I tell my mother’s favorite story using a mocking voice in order to provoke laughter from others at the dinner table, I may make her cry. Or I may provoke her to do the same against me or someone else I love. Or she may take away my wineglass. I have to accept these consequences for my actions instead of dubbing her a snowflake who needs to “get over it” or alter her sensitivity and perception.

III.

Many an asshole believes that he should not be vulnerable to such consequences because of the rights of free speech provided by the United States Constitution. The link between the First Amendment and protection from political correctness is engineered to fortify the asshole’s position of righteousness and patriotism. Except that this is an unfortunate misunderstanding, or deliberate perversion of the First Amendment’s powers.

The scope of the First Amendment merely affords protection against government persecution and prosecution.

The list of consequences for the average asshole entirely outside of the scope of the First Amendment includes (but is not limited to): Social shunning, withdrawal of political support or paid sponsors, termination of employment or work opportunities, and protests.

0*P55fWC32kHc5bE1K. Continue reading “Political Correctness: Reflections on Being an Asshole”

The “Where is Melania?” Mystery

UPDATE: SOLVED!
It was 24 days that we went without seeing Lady Mel, but on June 5, she reemerged from her hidey hole. No full explanation has been given for the inconsistencies from her office and schedules, but it’s probably safe to assume that she had medical issues to overcome. She may have been sicker than we ever thought, or was working to overcome some kind of addiction. Odds are, we will never know the true details. And I suppose that’s fine. The important thing is that she appears to be okay. Still…something really fishy was going on. The whole thing still stinks.

Where is Melania Trump?

Melania Trump is missing. She has not been seen for 20+ days, during which time the White House has been cagey and misdirecting regarding her whereabouts. We have not seen her–not from a window, not from a balcony. We have not heard her voice. We have not read a Tweet typed by, or even dictated by our FLOTUS. And it all stems from a surprising and mysterious hospital procedure, followed by fake tweets, absences from major events and family trips, and a rattling silence from her office.

Listen, FLOTUS and I are from two completely different planets, and I have no clue how she has rationalized some of her life choices. But, she is our First Lady. This is an odd post, in that I hope it will become irrelevant and silly in a matter of just a few hours or days. But for now, it is exceptionally intriguing, and potentially very sad.

All we want to know is, where are you Lady Mel? Come home to us! Donald hasn’t had his tiny paws slapped away in weeks! I forgot how to BE BEST!
#WheresMelania

Here is a Melanie’s Melania’s timeline:


May 10: The last time Melania was seen in public. She and the President are photographed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland welcoming home the North Korean hostages. In the middle of the night.

May 14: Melania is secretly admitted to Walter Reed Hospital to undergo a “procedure” to treat a “benign kidney condition”. Though such procedures are done typically on an out-patient basis, FLOTUS’s office predicts that she will be kept in the hospital for 4-5 days, causing concern about what additional issues or procedures may be at play.

Her Communications Director and President Trump both note that the procedure was a success and that she is doing well.

May 19: Melania’s office reports that she is returning “home” (presumably the White House) from the hospital. It’s been over a week since we’ve seen her.

May 16-28: Her office continues to tweet on her behalf, on topics including thanks to the doctors at Walter Reed, a brief note about the Santa Fe shooting, and two Memorial Day messages that coincide with the President’s office’s agenda and message.

May 25: Outside of the White House, a reporter asks Pres. Trump how Melania is doing. He replies that she is doing “great” and then points to a window of the White House and says, “Right there. She’s doing great. Just looking at us, right there.” The window appears empty, presumably because the cardboard cutout or pillowcase dummy he set up fell down after a strong breeze.

May 28: Memorial Day. She has supposedly been resting at home after being released from the hospital nine days before (from an outpatient procedure). She does not attend the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington with Donald, as she normally would.

May 30: Melania surprisingly does not appear for the “White House Sports and Fitness Day” event, though it dovetails with her children’ initiatives. Ivanka takes her place.

May 30: While Pres. Trump is at the fitness event with his daughter-wife, the @FLOTUS account tweets the following:

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Anyone not recently hit in the head with a frying pan, realizes immediately that this tweet was not composed by Melania or any member of her staff, as the syntax is completely off, and alarmingly familiar. Oh, Donald, why are you working overtime to dictate your wife’s tweets?

June 1: Melania has now been missing for 3 weeks. The White House announces that she will not be traveling to Camp David with her husband. It is now likely that she will remain missing throughout the coming weekend.

June 2: The President and his children, Don Jr., Ivanka, Tiffany, and Jared Kushner, all head to Camp David together without Melania. Her conspicuous absence from the family gathering fuels theories that she is either preparing to divorce the President, or that she is gravely ill.


The more the timeline unfolds, the more troubling her story becomes. Given the current administration’s predilection for lying–and in Trump’s case, impersonating people who don’t exist (*cough*, John Barron)–their sloppy attempt to Tweet in her voice only makes the situation as suspicious as the sock puppet they tried out for a Fox News live Melania interview. Nothing about this is normal.

So Where IS Melania?

Theory #1: The Official Hermit Theory

The FLOTUS and POTUS offices stand by the story that the famously private First Lady has been staying under the radar while she recuperates at the White House. They note that she has been out of sight for longer stretches (under, arguably, far less peculiar circumstances). She will reappear when she is feeling up to it, and continues to tweet her support and love for her country.

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Problem With This Theory: She hasn’t been tweeting at all. And in light of growing public concerns about her well-being, it is highly strange that she does not at least step out on to a balcony to wave at reporters. She is certainly under no obligation to do so, but wise communications officials might typically press the matter to quell chatter and minimize distractions.

Plus, she doesn’t attend the wreath-laying ceremony? She avoids a family gathering at the serene and private Camp David? Feisty FLOTUS either can’t or won’t participate in White House/husband events, and it has nothing to do with mere privacy. Continue reading “The “Where is Melania?” Mystery”