Dealing with a President Trump – how did we get here?

By on Nov 10, 2016 in Politics | 0 comments

I decided that Facebook and Twitter just weren’t going to cut it to organize my thoughts.  I’m trying to figure out what to do next to a) combat a Donald Trump presidency and b) avoid a 2020 Trump re-election.  I did next to nothing to defeat him in 2016, but I’ll be damned if I repeat that mistake.  But I really don’t know what to do, so I’m going to hash out the issues from this election as I see them and from there hopefully glean so insights.  A lot of it is consolidating all the different idea’s I’ve read and listened to, filtered through what I deem important and logical. One of the big issues with this election was that Hillary Clinton didn’t get 270 electoral votes.  That was a pretty big problem.  Much like the Cubs lost every game in 2016 where they scored few runs than the opponent, you tend to lose every election where you get few electoral votes.  But the question is, why did she lag?  There are many reasons, among them voter suppression, disgust with the elections, and the disenfranchised white middle-America voter.  But what I’m going to talk about first is that she was the wrong candidate (but I’m definitely coming back to those other issues). What we saw in 2016 didn’t end up being the massive surge for Trump, a mandate for bigotry.  Trump ended up underperforming Romney, who was destroyed by Obama in 2012.  So to underperform Romney but still take home a rather decisive electoral college win shows that the vote was really less about people running to the polls to vote for Trump, but rather more about people staying home for Clinton. So the question I have is, why were democrats so uninspired by Hillary Clinton? Actually, the better question is, why should we have been inspired by her?  It seemed that we were supposed to be moved by the fact that a) she was to be the first female president and b) she owned an impressive resume.  But Barack Obama was not elected because he was to be the first black president.  That was a side effect of him running one of the most brilliant and inspiring campaigns in modern political history…and also being black.  Hillary was deemed a pragmatic choice and certainly a qualified choice, but she wasn’t an inspired choice because she didn’t focus her campaign on herself. The decision was made by the Clinton campaign to make the 2016 election a referendum on Trump’s unfitness for Presidency (and honestly, the human race).  So effectively, her entire platform boiled down to: I’m not Trump.  I’m not hateful.  I’m not unfit.  I’m not orange.  And I completely agreed with this approach!  I was appalled by the idea that this man could end up running our country; exposing his weaknesses and calling him on his endless lies was necessary.  The media seemed so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of lies (not exaggerations.  not fibs.  lies.  lies with no basis in truth. lies lies lies) that so many of his most egregious transgressions were falling by the wayside.  I thought it made complete sense that she would keep bring up his lies and terrible actions and focus on those because, if she didn’t, who would? But I’m pretty sure I was wrong. Does a negative campaign inspire anyone to vote for your candidate rather than against the other guy? Now, I knew I was voting for Hillary, so I didn’t follow her campaign super closely.  But did she mention one real policy position that was hers?  One position that would excite the electorate? She discussed minimum wage and free college, two imports from the Sanders campaign intended to lure Millennials.  She discussed furthering Obama’s policies, such as fixing Obamacare.  But did she talk about any positions that were uniquely hers?  I don’t doubt she had them.  She was a brilliant political mind and had plenty of desire to do good, but none of that seemed to come up in the election.  It was all just Trump. Going back through modern political history, the candidates that win are the candidates that inspire.  Bill Clinton was young and hip and played the saxophone.  Obama was a transcendent candidate and gave speeches that both elevated the discourse and inspired the voters.  George W Bush had a charm about him that won over republicans and Reagan was an actor.  And looking at the less exciting candidates, Carter and H.W. Bush, they ended up being one term presidents. People want to be excited to vote.  They don’t want to vote out of obligation. So, the whole point of writing this out is to figure out where to go from here now that we’re staring at a Trump presidency.  I’m all for beginning locally and working locally, but I’m more concerned about 2018 and 2020.  Who are the next great candidates and how do we identify them.  What can I, as someone not politically connected, do to help the next rising star in the party.  Do I do my research and find who’s the next big thing and send them money and volunteer for them?  Is there anything I can do beyond the local level? And what can someone like me, with a full time job that’s pretty important to the family life, do with the time I have? There’s a lot to do at...

Alright Chicago, you win this round

By on Feb 21, 2016 in Chicago, Life With Three | 0 comments

Man, that first fake Spring day in February. It’s the best.  After two and a half long months of weather in the 20’s and 30’s (if we’re lucky), a surprise wash of heat from the South sends the temperature surging into the 50’s, and Chicago goes nuts.  You’ll find runners on the lakefront with no shirts, dad’s barbecuing with a beer in one hand, and pasty neighbors emerging from a season-long hibernation.  It’s truly the best. Except in the long run, it might be the worst.  For whatever reason, despite years of experience with the February fake-out, I decide each year that winter is over and my winter coat can be set aside in favor of a light fleece.  It’s Spring, baby!  I can pretty much see the sun!  Don’t drag me down with your “winter apparel”.  And, unfortunately, Leah’s not any better and we end up dragging the kids down to our level of delusion.  That was the case today as the weather dipped back down into the 30’s, bring along with it a frigid Northwest wind. We needed a few things from the store for tonight’s dinner – things we couldn’t find at Harvesttime.  So hey, why not make an outing of it and take a family walk to Jewel.  It’s sunny out and it’s basically Spring.  Kids, put on your sweatshirts; coats are for losers! It’s Spring!* It actually started out pretty fun.  We raised Rocky’s seat on his bike so he could get a little leverage (that boy won’t stop growing), and he was moving with a little more confidence on his bike.  They would ride ahead to each street, pausing to wait for us as we sauntered up along Campbell street. Fun times, guys!  High fives for Mom and Dad!  Screw you, Winter! And then… We turned into the wind.  Momentum slowed as an arctic wind buffeted the kids back.  They struggled to pedal, gritting their teeth as the wind turned their fingers and ears a nice, bright red. “I can’t go, it’s too hard,”  Rocky cried.  Veronica, she just cried, my attempted to cover her exposed fingers failing miserably.  And all the while, we were aware that this was a cross wind and it was actually going to be in our faces on the ride home. While Leah was corralling the kids on their bikes, half dragging them to the Jewel, I was pushing Veronica in the stroller.  It seemed like something was dragging, like when the diaper bag strap gets wrapped around a wheel. I took a look down, but no straps.  The wheel was, however…a little askew.  Huh.  I took a look closer, and it was more than askew.  The wheel was separated from the axle.  The weld that held the wheels together had broken clean off, leaving us with one wheel drift away from the stroller. So we were a mile from the house with: two frozen kids on bikes near tears, one three-wheeled stroller, and one underdressed toddler quite tearful.  Man, these really are the best of times.  And we still had to get home. The way home was certainly fun, in the same way the Bataan death march was fun.  Leah and I behind the kids, driving them forward, while the tears rolled down their cheeks. Lucy: “My fingers are so cold.” Leah: “Lucy, what did I say.  Complaining about it doesn’t make it any less cold.  We’re already well aware that you’re cold.” Rocky: “My ears hurt so bad.” ** We finally made it to Western and Lincoln, probably a half mile from our house, when I look down.  “Fuck.  Leah, we’re down a shoe.” Veronica wiggled her toes in her stripped sock.  Back I go to find the shoe. Leah: “Run” The shoe only fell off four blocks back.  No big deal.  Add frozen toes to the list of parenting fails for the day.  I grabbed the shoe and bolted back to find Leah and the kids.  At this point, the stroller wheel had gone from behaving badly to behaving dead.  The only way to move it was to lift the back end.  At this point, Rocky just tipped over on his bike, playing dead to avoid further pain.  Leah picked him up in one arm and dragged the bike along in another while I brought the stroller along behind, lifting the back wheels off the ground.  But hey, at least everyone was crying. So yes, you won Chicago.  You sucked us in with your little Spring ruse and knocked us down with your Winter chill.  Hope you feel good about yourself. But hey, at least we can say lesson learned, right?  Coats back on at least until mid-March? Maybe.  At least until the next fake Spring day.   * Before anyone calls DCFS, we did take jackets with us below the stroller.  Light jackets.  Without gloves or hats.  Okay, fine, call DCFS. ** seriously, nobody wins if you call the authorities...

You’s on first

By on Oct 19, 2015 in Parenting | 1 comment

Every week in pre-school, Rocky has a letter of the week.  On Monday, during our walk to school, we generally discuss the letter and all that comes with it. Rocky: What’ the letter this week? Me: “T” Rocky: Does garbage can start with “T”? Me: No, garbage can starts with “G”.  Guh-Garbage can. Rocky: Oh.  Does leaf start with “T”? He’s got a ways to go with his letters.  Actually, I find it more impressive that he didn’t accidentally run into something that started with the letter T as we walked under the trees while trucks whizzed by.  But today, the letter game got a bit more baffling. We were in a quite a rush.  Veronica had slept about an hour total that night and the morning moved sluggishly.  So I threw him up on shoulders and we were off. Rocky: What’s the letter this week? Me: Hmm.  Oh right, this week is “U” Rocky: *giggles* No! That’s not a letter! Me: What? Yeah, “U”.  Like umbrella or unicorn or, uh, underwear. Rocky: *giggling harder* underwear! Me: Yeah, “U” Rocky: No, what’s the letter? Me:  It’s “U”, buddy Rocky: No!  I’m not a letter. Me: Ha, no, not you.  “U”.  The letter Rocky: No!  That’s not a letter Me: Not you, the Rocky.  You the letter.  “U”.  Like unicorn. Rocky: I’m not a letter! At that point I’m pretty sure he was screwing with me.  Which I appreciate.  Now we just have to figure out what to bring in for Show and Share for the letter “U”.  Would it be wrong to bring...

Zombie Niblets

By on Jun 10, 2015 in Parenting | 1 comment

It wasn’t until I had kids that I worried about the zombie apocalypse. Back in my twenties, before we had a house full of kids, I knew I’d be safe in the event a horde of zombies clawed their way out of the ground.  I think most of us think this.  But I figured, hey, I’m a pretty resourceful guy. I’m bright enough and  in pretty solid shape and, most importantly, we owned a fire place poker for whacking undead in the head.  But now, no chance.  There’s a reason you don’t see The Average American Family in a George Romero film, parents running from zombies with a kid tucked under each arm.  That’s because they’re already dead.  Long dead.  Super duper dead, their brains eaten and bones picked clean.  And I think the reason for this is best illustrated with an example. Me: “Okay guys, Veronica is sleeping so we have to be so quiet.” Lucy: “Quiet as mice” Me: “Right” Rocky comes out of the play room playing a recorder.  I shit you not, an actual recorder.  The most piercing instrument known to man.  I guess he couldn’t find the bagpipes. The concept of not attracting the attention of a horde of zombies just isn’t there with the pre-k crowd.  There’s no whispering and no inside voices.  Every single conversation would be: “Alright,” I’d say under my breath, less than a whisper. “There’s two zombies to the right. We just have to get past them and we’ll make it to the safe house.” “WHAT DADDY?” “Shhhh,” I’d whisper, emphasizing the importance with my eyes, my finger to my lips. “I’M HUNGRY I WANT A FRUITY SNACK I’M TIRED LOOK DADDY SOMEONE’S COMING HE LOOKS FUNNY” And that’s why there’s only attractive 20-somethings in the apocalyptic...

The pacifier kids

By on May 18, 2015 in Expert Advice, Life With Three, Sleep | 0 comments

Okay, fine, we’ve officially given up.  You win, Veronica (*throws hands up in the air*). Here you go, take the pacifiers.  Take aaaaallllll the pacifiers.  Because we need sleep and the other shit we were doing? That wasn’t working. But you know what I love about us?  What I think makes us brilliant?  We have a routine.  We have a routine that we stick to religiously.  At night, we have her take a cat nap, and then dinner, and then bath, and then feed, a book, and bed.  And on the days that the schedule is compromised for one reason or the other?  Leah: “Oh, shoot, I don’t know if we’ll be able to get her a bath tonight?” Me: Sigh. “Well, that’s not going to be good.” But, wait, you know what? IT DOESN’T MATTER.  We don’t have the right to hem and haw over a routine when it doesn’t work in the first place.  For all we know, the best routine for her, the one that will have her sleeping in until 8 am, might be to eat dinner in the bath tub followed by a bottle shoved through the spine of a book.  Or maybe she should ride through the living room on a llama while a dozen howler monkeys throw food at her, “Come on Eileen” playing softly in the background.  We don’t know.  Nobody knows, because we are sticking to the schedule that has produced zero positive results. But anyway, schedule aside, she’s not sleeping through the night on her own.  Or really, anything close.  We’d reached the point where, every night between 10:30 and 11:30, Veronica would wake up and not go back asleep until she was laying on her mom’s chest.  That wasn’t great sleep for Mom.  And then Veronica would usually make it until about 5 or maybe 5:30 when she would start tossing around on Mom’s chest, so Dad would take her downstairs.  That wasn’t great sleep for Dad.  In the end, everyone loses.  Well, everyone except Veronica.  She was pretty happy, actually. So finally, after months of this, we gave up and started throwing pacifiers at her.  We are now putting her down with a pacifier and have sprinkled a half dozen pacifiers in her crib.  Why not more?  Because the other half dozen that we’d like to put in there are hanging out with the missing left socks.  Someday they will tear this house down and a thousand pacifiers will come spilling out.  We really tried to avoid having her be a pacifier baby.  Not because we don’t like pacifiers.  Shit, we love them.  But because having a pacifier baby means that, for a long time, we’ll be getting up at least once a night (usually twice) to replace a pacifier once she’s kicked them all off the crib.  And you have to go in there and grope around in the dark, running your hands along the crib mattress feeling for plastic (why do they make the little fuckers clear?) (no pacifiers there) Fishing around in the gap between the bars and the mattress, until finally having to drop to the floor and reach under the crib.  And by that time it’s 3 am and you’re pretty much all the way awake and have to go pee. So yeah, we wanted to avoid the pacifier, but she never found her thumb and she didn’t have an interested in a lovey, so here we are. She, like her brother and sister before her, is a pacifier kid.  But you know what?  Last night she slept in until 6am. So I guess maybe the routine does work, plus a pacifier or...