Now that Thanksgiving is over and the holidays are coming up and everyone’s back to shopping and posting cute pictures of puppies and kittens on Facebook and stopped freaking the fuck out about the election, I thought I would share a story about our home improvement project.
Kate and I have been rushing to take care of some projects before Trump ruins everything. Earlier this year, we got into the Made in Minnesota solar lottery, which provides tax credits for buying MN solar panels. When combined with the federal tax credit (which I assume Hair Furor will do away with), the system pays for itself after 7 years, then we’re in the electricity generation business, selling the electricity we generate back to the grid tax-free. We have an old roof, so we decided to replace that as well.
Last Saturday, the three-day ordeal of the roof replacement ended, and I realized that I’ve learned a lot about construction. For instance, I hadn’t known that:
• Dropping scraped off shingles three stories onto the garden below is actually good for the plants (“don’t worry, they’ll be fine”);
• Saying about a million times that you want the roof vent placed in the southeast corner to accommodate the solar panels is not the same as actually having the roof vent placed in the southeast corner to accommodate the solar panels; and
• The sound of a roof being installed inches above your head while you sleep is roughly equivalent to the sound of a jackhammer installing a new surface on your brain.
That said, with this new knowledge, I now realize that I have about as much relevant experience in construction as our president-elect has in government. I understand there’s an opening for CEO of Trump Corporation, and I’m thinking of applying. I’d do the best job, believe me!
One thing I will say is that with all the frustrations of the roofing project (and really, Kate handled most of it, so I don’t have much to complain about), there’s a sense you get when you hire someone to work on your house who knows what they’re doing, a sense of trust in the underlying social compact: you hire them to do some work, they put together a good team to get it done, there will be some inevitable hiccups and frustrations and unpleasantness along the way, but ultimately, you end up with a nice new roof, so whatevs, right?
Which brings me to my next subject: Trump – Hair Furor, our Mango Mussolini, the Screaming Cheeto, Orange Fuckhead of Hate, or whatever you prefer (these were the most respectful ways of referring to him I could think of).
What has become clear to me is that the people being chosen for Trump’s cabinet are not the ones you’d hire to fix the plumbing; they’re not the ones you would choose to renovate the kitchen, or put on a new roof, or even do a gut job. In fact, they’re not builders at all.
They’re the wrecking crew.
You don’t pick white supremacist Steve Bannon as your chief strategist because you want to make government work. You don’t pick Jeff Sessions – rejected for a judgeship for being too racist – because you want to enforce the law fairly. You don’t pick Obamacare dismantler Tom Price to run HHS, or public education opponent Betsy Devos to run Education, or global warming hoaxist Scott Pruitt to run EPA, or surgeon “I’m not qualified to run a government agency” Ben Carson to run HUD, because you want to make government better. You hire them to blow it the fuck up.
And that’s just the ones who are arguably sane. NSA Director nominee Michael Flynn accused Hillary Clinton of running a pedophile ring out of the back of a pizza parlor in DC (for real); Deputy NSA nominee K.T. McFarland claimed that Hillary Clinton sent helicopters to spy on her; Sarah Palin is under consideration for two positions – Secretary of Interior and Veterans’ Affairs because – why the fuck not, I guess.
And don’t even get me started on the irony of potentially nominating David Petraeus – convicted and currently on probation for mishandling classified information – for Secretary of State, after basing an entire campaign around bashing the former Secretary of State for mishandling classified materials far less egregiously (which, as it turns out, wasn’t even true (but then, it’s a Trump world, so what is truth…)). It’s worth noting, btw, that if confirmed, Petraeus would have to report regularly to his probation officer and would likely have travel restrictions, both of which, in any functional administration, might negatively impact the effectiveness of the Secretary of State. So there’s that.
But what about the ones that haven’t been filled – Labor, Energy, Agriculture, Interior, etc.? Remember that many of these are departments that Republicans have been saying for years are unnecessary and should be eliminated. Running them with demonstrable incompetence and ensuring their demise would be a feature, not a bug.
So for the next few months, while we still have a functioning government, it’s worth taking some time to visualize what is likely to be the new reality. Pick your favorite government program and imagine what it will be like in two years. I’ll start: Medicare, gone; Obamacare, gone; safe drinking water, access to family planning, clean air, the right to marry, safe food, gone gone gone gone gone. Food stamps gone. Job training gone. Public schools gone. Immigrants gone, refugees gone, Muslims gone (if they’re even allowed in in the first place). This is not a worst-case scenario – it is the stated policy agenda of the incoming administration and Congress.
This is what we’re up against.
So it’s worth considering what comes next. When the demolition crew comes to knock down your house, how do you stop it? I’ll tell you how you stop it – you stand in front of the fucking bulldozer. When the machine becomes so odious that you can no longer run it, how do you make it stop? By throwing yourself on the machine so it can’t run at all. When the men come to take your family away, or your children away, or your friends away, how do you stop it – by standing in front of them, by sheltering them, by protecting them, by throwing your body in front of the machine to make it stop, if that’s what it takes.
It’s an uphill battle, it won’t be comfortable, it won’t be easy, but it will be necessary.
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