2016

Have a cigar.

“When hundreds of thousands of people risk death to escape your country, your country is probably doing something wrong.” –Yours Truly, “The Fidel, The.”

Now that Fidel has finally become a good communist, the internet is awash with far wittier criticisms of him and his supporters than I can muster. I will, however, add a few comments to the… dyslogy? mallogy? anti-eulogy? Dyslogy.

Say what you will about his predecessor, Batista, but at least that guy had the common courtesy to step back from power every once in a while. That, and he didn’t kill or exile nearly as many as Castro did. And he didn’t ruin the country’s economy. And he didn’t ask Khrushchev to launch a first strike against the US. (Did you know Fidel actually asked Nikita to nuke the US? I didn’t. Scroll down in the letter paragraph beginning “In your cable of October 27…” I’ll wait. Back? OK, good.)

If a socialist revolution results in economic depression, a low-end estimate of ten thousand political executions, and a low-end estimate of a million people fleeing the country or exiled, then shouldn’t the leader of said revolution at least have the decency to not become a billionaire in the process? Or at least to resign after, say, twenty or thirty years of things not really turning around?

I hope Obama’s opening to Cuba was the right move, and I hope Trump (or whoever ends up being President) will further the process of bringing democracy, freedom, liberty, and yes, capitalism to the long-suffering people of Cuba. One tyrant down; I hereby jubilate.

Seriously, though, I thought for sure that someday we’d see that guy’s head on a pike on the road to Havana. Oh well. There’s always Raúl.

On turning 40.

MQ made an excellent birthday cake from scratch. A buttery organic white cake with vanilla creme frosting and star-shaped sprinkle things. I ate only two pieces because they were perfect enough. A less perfect cake, I’d probably need three to five pieces to be sated. Not this cake. Two three-by-two-inch pieces were just right. For lunchtime, I mean. I’ll have more in a couple hours.

Took her to a nice steakhouse, the Tree on San Jose, for dinner. Had the room to ourselves, aside from extremely pleasant and helpful waiters. Ribeye, lobster bisque, risotto, and a Malbec. After careful consideration, it was the best steak I’ve ever had in a restaurant (third best overall). Just enough blackening and caramelization on the outside, red and tender inside, consistent marbling that melted in my mouth. Good stuff.

Then we went for a short walk in a small evergreen forest. It was lovely. I might get a real tree this year.

As I said long ago, there’ll be no Jack Benny nonsense. Some odd synapse or malfunction in my brain has me thinking that the early 40s seem younger than the late 30s. Hopefully it’ll feel that way. There’s no hill to get over.

On that abomination of an election.

The good news is that Hillary Clinton will not be President. The bad news is that Donald Trump will be President.

Actually, I take that back. Not the good news/bad news part, but the “will not be” and “will be” parts. I have no business making prognostications anymore. To wit:

I thought Trump would flame out after the first debate, when novelty would yield to common sense. Then I thought he’d lose his lead in the polls as other Republicans dropped out because he was nobody’s second choice and the dropouts’ supporters would flock to a non-Trump. Then I thought Cruz’s victory in Iowa was the beginning of the end for Trump, and people would come to their senses. Then I thought there’d be some behind-the-scenes pow-wow to close ranks behind a single non-Trump, likely Rubio, and the other non-Trumps would drop out faster. Then I thought there’d be more desperation to support Cruz, especially after Rubio dropped out. Then I thought there’d be a contested convention.

At this point, I thought Trump could win, but he’d definitely have to stop acting like Trump, and he’d have to spend more money. After all, there’s no way he’d get billions of dollars worth of free media like he did in the Republican primaries, right? And there’s no way there was actually anything like a “silent majority” that planned to vote for him despite telling the pollsters otherwise, or not responding to the pollsters at all, right? And you need a traditional GOTV operation to actually get people out to vote, right? And for Christ’s sake, he’d have to stop being “a colossal @*#&$^%”, as I put it back in September, right?

And then election night came, and then I thought he wouldn’t win if he were trailing in so many national polls, and that even if he caught up he was trailing too badly in the electoral count and there’s no way he’d win in Wisconsin. Or Michigan. Or Pennsylvania. And then I thought that campaigning there was the same old Republican pipe dream: waste time campaigning in those states, then get blown away when the results come late in from Milwaukee and Detroit and Philly. And he spent too much time going after white voters, but it wasn’t going to be enough to offset losses among other ethnic/racial groups. Gains among men would be more than offset by losses among women. And I told my students to watch all night, because the whole thing would probably be called for Hillary by 11 or so.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. I think I counted that right. So, yeah, I’m done prognosticating for a while. The electors don’t meet until December 19th, and technically (and Constitutionally, which is the best kind of technically), they can elect any 35-plus-year-old natural-born citizen with 14 years residency they want, so who the hell knows what’s going to happen? Because I won’t pretend I do anymore.

There was no suspense whatsoever on the Democratic side. It wasn’t even worth considering the possibility that Comrade Uncle Bernie might win, so I never prognosticated nuthin’ about it.

I told the kids to wait for more data to come in before making snap judgements about why the results fell the way they did. The data’s been coming in for two weeks now. Compared to Romney, Trump won a higher percentage of blacks (by 2 percentage points), Asians (by 3), Hispanics (by 2), and men (by 1), and a lower percentage of whites (by 1) and women (by 2). Granted, “percentage won” is not the same as or as important as turnout, but given everything we know about how he conducted himself and how racist and sexist he and his supporters supposedly are, should any of that have happened? He only did two points worse among women than Romney? He actually lost ground percentage-wise among whites? And he gained points among any (not every) non-white ethnic/racial group?

How?

I ask that only rhetorically; there’s plenty of analysis out there explaining exactly how. I just wish the people crying “racist” and “sexist” would take a moment to think about other explanations, such as the fact that the election wasn’t a referendum solely on Trump, but an actual choice between Trump and an actual other human being with an actual track record of her own.

I also predicted that given the bizarro comeback motif in 2016 (Cavaliers, Cubs, Trump), that the Bears would turn around their then 2-6 record when Cutler came back, finish in a wildcard slot at 10-6 and win the Super Bowl. Wrong.

Dr. Hmnahmna opines that “the Cubs were [traditionally] a giant sink for all the bad karma in the US. With the Cubs actually being good, all the bad karma went somewhere else. Lots of prominent deaths, Trump, etc.” I tend to concur, and think the Cubs winning was worth it. Hopefully Hillary does, too.

Cubs win!!!

BPM is probably back down under 100 now.

I’m not a huge fan of baseball, but I’m a fan of Chicago and of my family’s history there, and so I’m a fan of the Cubs. Too many warm-and-fuzzies are rushing in to form coherent thought, so let me just ramble.

I think of:

…the taunting promise of last year’s 90-something-win team.
…watching the White Sox win and thinking the Cubs were due.
…watching the Red Sox win and thinking the Cubs were due.
…Bartman and watching the Cubs lose to the Marlins.
…Harry Caray passing away.
…watching Sosa and McGwire in the late 90s.
Back to the Future, and Ferris Bueller, and Jake Elwood’s fake address: 1060 West Addison. “Somebody with a record this bad is bound to make a mistake,” or some such.
…watching the Cubs lose to the Giants.
…watching the Cubs lose to the Padres.
…my mom, who lived close enough to Wrigley to hear the loudspeakers.
…learning about the billy goat and the black cat.
…my mom’s mom, who bought us some truck-stop-quality Cubs and Sox caps from BK or McDonald’s when we were little.
…my dad’s mom, who never saw them win once in her 95 years.
…my dad’s dad, who saw Babe Ruth point his home run in ’32, and saw the Cubs win the Series twice when he was a boy, and then never again.

And I get a little misty because I just can’t believe they won. They didn’t do what the Cubs always do, which is fail, no matter how good their record is in May or June. They didn’t choke. They actually won.

And next time they win, even if it’s not for another hundred years, I’ll think of this incredible series and tonight’s incredible game. My God.