Done Being Depressed?

Last week, I was a mess. Honestly, I was. I was pretty much on Twitter all day and, with my horrible insomnia, most of the night.

I am seriously worried. I don’t necessarily regret not having Hillary in the White House. She was a seriously flawed candidate. But I am freaked out by the fact that we have elected Donald Trump.

The why question is fascinating and I think we still haven’t gotten to the bottom of it yet. Was it racism? Was it economic? Was it culture wars? We’ll be taking this election apart for decades to come.

But the why question is less important right now than the “what’s going to happen next?” question. Who is this ass putting in the White House? Is John Bolton really going to be Secretary of State? Are they really going to start building up the military, as Giuliani promised on the Sunday morning shows? Will they reinstitute the draft? Will Jonah end up in a Syrian desert? That thought isn’t improving my sleeping situation.

I got sidelined from the Atlantic gig for two months with an assignment for a light, non-partisan education website that seems to be having problems getting off the ground. Gee, I hope I get paid. But now I’m back to work. I don’t have time for light, apolitical writing anymore, even if it pays well.

This morning, I’m working on a piece this morning on the Republican state legislatures, which haven’t been getting enough press. Those guys will have a bigger impact on schools than Donald Trump in the next couple of years.

46 thoughts on “Done Being Depressed?

  1. I am counting on you following up on stories like the ones you describe — yes, Republican state legislatures could have significant impacts and they are they stories that are much harder to cover.

    I honestly do not know what policies will be pursued by the new administration. The campaigns promises and rhetoric were completely incoherent and not in any shape to discuss as policies. The appointees are problematic, but we will have little ability to influence those, especially for the

    And, I do not find the opinions of the more conservative commenters (from AmyP to Brooks to Douthat to be particularly predictive, either, since they have shown no better ability of predicting the actions of the Trump coalition than I have).

    Regarding the draft — I’m guessing one won’t be necessary, but the fact that 80% of the current applicants are rejected (27% of folks are apparently too overweight, and others lack education) would have little to do with whether the military might decide it had to force educated fit young men to join.


    1. bj said,

      “And, I do not find the opinions of the more conservative commenters (from AmyP to Brooks to Douthat to be particularly predictive, either, since they have shown no better ability of predicting the actions of the Trump coalition than I have).”

      Sorry for not keeping up with discussion here, but hopefully I’m not repeating too many people when I say that DJT is very responsive to positive reinforcement and very susceptible to being influenced by the last person he talked to if that person is nice to him (see, for example, his chat with Obama). That’s true of everybody to some degree, but it’s really astonishing to what degree it’s true of Trump, given that we’re talking about a 70-year-old man.

      Trump is always in flux, and where he stops, nobody knows. So there’s no predicting him, really.

      I do know for certain, though, that he’s going to disappoint his most passionate supporters. The only question is when they figure that out. Trump eventually disappoints everybody who trusts him.

      I have lately have had the uncomfortable experience of watching people carry water for Trump–it makes me tired just watching them do it. People embrace Trump because of his (totally temporary) support of their particular issues, but then they keep embracing him after he’s pulled a switcheroo. He won’t betray them–he’s always betrayed everybody else, but he won’t betray them! (You know how they say you can’t cheat an honest man? Same deal.)

      While neither Trump or his most fervent followers are great people, they are pretty distinct.

      Trump wants to be liked and he reacts harshly to people who do not treat him with the love and adulation he feels entitled to. The word “narcissist” comes to mind. I don’t think that “racist” or “bigot” or any political category whatever is very useful in understanding him–he’ll do whatever gets him love and adoration. Imagine a lab rat hitting the bar that gets him the drug pellet over and over again–it’s totally mindless.

      His worst followers, on the other hand, do have values–bad values, but values nonetheless.

      It’s a doomed relationship.

      On a happier note, Netflix has a new season of Portlandia up and it’s really good!


    2. Historically, educated fit young men are really good at avoiding the draft–see the Civil War and Vietnam for examples.

      I was teaching in Russia during their Chechnya troubles and they had a draft–one could get a substantially better deal by going to college, which nearly of the young men I was teaching were doing their darndest to do. Going to college meant entirely avoiding winding up as an enlisted man in the Russian Army (which is not a fun place to be even in peace time).

      I forget exactly how it worked, but I believe that male Russian college students would take officer training and have a relatively soft existence. There was an analog to that during the Vietnam war.

      I heard SO many stories of Russian draft evasion methods.

      In modern societies, privileged young men just about never get drafted if they don’t want to be drafted.


  2. I would be more worried about Ian than Jonah. Funding for adults with disabilities, such as Medicaid and SSI, is in the crosshairs.

    We could be back to the days when our kids live with us the rest of our lives, then if they’re lucky and have a sib, live with the sib. It’s a lot cheaper than enabling the Ians of the world to be independent and productive.


  3. Did someone say something about the draft? Not that I heard. The U.S. military has shaped itself into a professional, long-service, high-tech, high-quality force; I don’t think its commanders would have any interest in a draft.


  4. Plus, the neocons hate Trump, because he has been talking about not projecting force overseas, making our allies pull their own weight, working cooperatively with Putin, being an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, etc. Those positions point diametrically away from anyone, volunteer or conscript, dying in Syria.

    Having said that, he’s a total loose cannon, so who knows.


    1. Yup, the standard hopes that Trump won’t do anything really dangerous, and a hand-waving who knows.

      For those of you who do not think that this election was a terrible result, a result that’s keeping the rest of us up at nights, what do you think Trump/the Republicans are going to do? Which of these things will be a positive turn in the right direction? Which efforts will you advocate for? Any that you might oppose?


      1. Of course, Trump isn’t just a loose cannon. He’s a man who systematically and deliberately uses his unwillingness to conform to expected patterns of behavior (or even abide by agreements he has signed) to gain material advantage. But now he’s got nukes.


      2. Trump might well do something dangerous, but he can’t incarnate all evils at once. He can’t be both an isolationist/appeaser as the neocons fear, and an interventionist warmonger as Laura seems to fear. Though I agree, happy mediums were not prominent in his campaign rhetoric.


      3. Why can’t he be all incarnate evils at once? Him appeasing horrible foreign rulers and intervening against others seems something one could very reasonably expect. Say, sitting still while Russia reconstructs the Warsaw Pact on the one hand and letting the neocons have another war in the middle east by way of distraction/compensation.


      4. Johnson voter here. I think this election was a terrible result, and somewhat, but not very much, terrible-er than would have been a Hillary win. Both candidates dreadful. What might be good, from Trump? I think the pendulum has swung too far towards coercive correctness and ethnic categorization for benefits, and that Trump will probably go against this. We are attempting too much fine tuning through regulation, I’d like to see some rollback. But, generally, we had no good options from this election and we didn’t get one.


      5. Yes. You’ve said that before. I feel more warmly toward the redneck guys who just openly racist or sexist than toward people who think like that. One feels that they have had less opportunity to test their views against reality.


      6. “I think the pendulum has swung too far towards coercive correctness and ethnic categorization for benefits, and that Trump will probably go against this.”

        I don’t think I understand what this means from a policy perspective. Can you give an example of a law/regulation/ruling that you think will be altered at the federal level?

        Or are you speaking of a trickle down effect in which antagonism towards what you term correctness trickling down into an acceptance of some forms of speech that you think are being coercively prevented? Which speech would be accepted? Are FB posts calling Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” an example? Or comedy routines that make jokes about people with Downs having sex? And what does accepted mean? (i.e. no consequences? not being fired?, being hired regardless? . . .).

        From my point of view, one of my biggest concerns is that a Trump election will mean an increase of ethnic categorization — that brown Americans (Muslim–and those people think might be Muslim–, Hispanic, Black) will be treated differently than other Americans, by both the populace (the trickle down effect) and the government (racial profiling, extreme vetting, . . . .).


      7. y81 said:

        “He can’t be both an isolationist/appeaser as the neocons fear, and an interventionist warmonger as Laura seems to fear.”



  5. What does “long service” mean in the military? I was under the impression that there was and continues to be a lot of turnover in military service.


    1. Outside of world war, drafted service members were usually serving much shorter terms than those required for voluntary enlistees. The army doesn’t want guys who cycle in and out for a year because it takes longer than that to train somebody even as a private.


    2. The European kids I knew in the 80s who were subject to being drafted typically did six month tours. The current U.S. military requires a four year commitment at enlistment subject to extension for another four years.

      I suppose we could have a draft with conscription for 4 to 8 year periods, but I have never heard of a country doing that.


      1. Yurp mostly used its military for social cohesion, while sheltering in the shadow of US. We use ours to fight wars. France somewhat an exception.


    3. I am apparently incapable of making short comments. I had a dream that Laura asked to only post once a day on 11D. I woke up, thinking, well, I should respect her view (and then remembered that it was only a dream :-).


  6. I really liked this from John Podhoretz. (For context, Podhoretz has been experiencing the dregs of Trump’s anti-semitic twitter supporters for the past year as an anti-Trump guy.)

    “I, too, have written a letter to my daughters following Tuesday night. Get out your handkerchiefs. This is going to wreck you.”

    “Dear daughters,

    Trump won.



    P.S. You’ll live”

    Those are basically my sentiments.

    I’ll take that back if we wind up in a nuclear war during his presidency (although I don’t promise to be able to get to a computer to tap out a mea culpa), but for the moment, I’m embracing the meh.

    Also, ain’t federalism amazing?

    I know that during Obama’s presidency, it seemed like it was going to be ever onward and upward for Democrats, so who needs federalism or the limitation of presidential power if Democrats are always going to hold the presidency? I hope that recent events have clarified the importance of local self-determination and being willing to leave people in far away states alone to run their affairs more or less as they choose. We’re all going to lose at least some of the time, so let’s not spend too much time rubbing each other’s faces in the dirt when we do hold political power–that’s both mean and unwise.


    1. Concretely, that letter could be a lie for some daughters. That’s the problem for those who have already felt the consequences of the disinhibition of overt racism that this election has engendered.

      Mind you, we have expressed similar sentiments for our own children, though I am also practically looking for exits for more extreme consequences (which include considering our investments, having knowledge about imigration options, and exploring health care choices).

      A Jewish friend shared this article “”: It proposes three principles: “What to Do About Trump? The Same Thing My Grandfather Did in 1930s Vienna.”
      1) “The first, and most obvious, is this: Treat every poisoned word as a promise. ”
      2) “You should treat people like adults, which means respecting them enough to demand that they understand the consequences of their actions. Explaining away or excusing the actions of others isn’t your job.”
      3) “Refuse to accept what’s going on as the new normal. Not now, not ever. ”

      Principles I will follow, while still believing we haven’t reaching the breaking point (but having plans in place if I fear they might).


  7. Apologies for all the posts, but I think this piece on narcissistic rage is helpful:

    Narcissists may have the following features:

    “Control freaks
    Short fuses
    Low frustration tolerance
    Need to have the last word
    Unable to lose
    Won’t take “No” for an answer
    Quick to anger if you don’t accommodate them
    Quick to being aggressively defensive if you call them on any deficiency, fault or responsibility
    Can’t apologize or if do, can’t do it sincerely
    Rarely say, “Thank you” or “Congratulations”
    Don’t feel or demonstrate remorse
    Feel entitled to enthusiastic and appreciative approval, adoration, agreement and obedience
    Gloat in victory, sullen in defeat
    Quick to rage if you humiliate them”

    Some of those don’t really fit Trump but a lot of them fit like a glove.

    “And just as Hamlet’s mother said, “the lady doth protest too much,” “the narcissist doth brag, scorn, talk down, primp and belittle too much” in order to continually prove to the world and themselves that they are larger than life.”

    “Not unlike a wounded animal being the most vicious (because they think the next wound would kill them), narcissistic rage occurs when narcissists believe the next insult/assault to their grandiose based stability would shatter them.”

    Narcissism is not unique to Trump (Obama has had some bad moments), but Trump is really bad at hiding it.

    (This wasn’t written with Trump in mind, as it came out in 2012.)


  8. Not to overwhelm you all, but this is very interesting:

    You’ll notice that none of this has a lot to do with what we normally call politics.

    I have to clarify that there is such a thing as the Christian alt right, but given that alt right folk are really bad at playing with others, they often can’t seem to find a church that’s good enough for them.

    If Trump’s administration has too high a percentage of alt right guys, it will not gel–they tend to be primadonnas and loners.


    1. Also, another nuance is that (interestingly) the alt-right has a substantial non-white minority.

      Yes, this is for real–the alt right really does contain both white nationalists and disaffected minorities. In fact, there’s a strong possibility that the alt right contains more minorities (at least percentage-wise) than the conventional right.

      The alt-right is not really a meatspace phenomenon–if you managed to get all of them in the same room, they mostly wouldn’t actually like each other. There is no alt right post-election cruise. (I checked.)


  9. I was just downtown doing parents’ day out drop-off.

    As I was coming out, I saw a (probably homeless) skinny older black guy wearing a Make America Great Again ball cap.


    1. Maybe he found it on the sidewalk. Maybe he is wearing it ironically.

      And while everyone here is worrying about wars that haven’t been declared yet, let alone had a single shot fired, Ryan has announced he’s bringing back his proposal to privatize Medicare via vouchers.

      I hear Trump’s site no longer contains a pledge to keep Medicare just as it is (guess I will have to wade over there for the first time to see for myself).

      This is a real problem. We don’t have anyone to veto this sort of disaster in the making.


  10. ” Gov. Chris Christie spent half a year planning Trump’s transition, and in half a week, the work has been largely undone.

    “Late Tuesday, news broke that the governor’s choice to lead national security planning for the transition, former House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, had been fired by Kushner and Trump.

    “A report by Bloomberg News cites one reason for the shakeup as animus between the president-elect’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Christie, who jailed Kushner’s father for witness tampering and other crimes when he served as U.S. attorney for New Jersey.

    “In 2004 through 2005, Christie successfully prosecuted Kushner’s father, Charles, on charges of tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions. Charles Kushner was also convicted of witness tampering after he hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, who was cooperating with the federal government’s case against him, and even sending the videotape of their tryst to his sister.”


    Well, nobody can complain that this is boring.


  11. In an interesting coincidence, the Clintons have a very similar situation with their son-in-law’s father.

    “Like his in-laws, Marc Mezvinsky’s parents were also in politics. His father Edward Mezvinsky served as a Democratic congressman from Iowa and in the U.S. House of Representatives. Marc Mezvinsky’s mother Marjorie Margolies served as a Democrat representing Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives.

    “6. Edward Mezvinsky was found guilty of fraud in 2001 and served time in prison.”

    What a weird coincidence!


  12. There are some missing words in English. This is one of them, Hebrew may fill the gap: “In Yiddish and Hebrew, the word “Mechuttanim” serves the purpose for referring to one’s child’s in-laws. The word best translates in English as “the married-into” or the “relatives by marriage”. A father would call his son’s father-in-law his “mechuttan”. ”
    Another, related to this election I think, is ‘mokita’: “The word Mokita is a fantastic word taken from a language called Kivila. It is spoken in Papua New Guinea. The best English translation you can get of Mokita is, “the truth we all know but agree not to talk about.” There are several concepts in the English language related to the notion of Mokita, such as the “elephant in the room””
    A mokita for this election was: Hillary was a truly terrible candidate, so bad that Trump had a chance against her. One of the Internet discussions of ‘mokita’ said that Kivila speakers think that a group is unhealthy and in trouble in proportion to the number of mokita they have, and that seems to me to have been true among Hillary backers.


  13. “Will Jonah end up in a Syrian desert? ”

    I just wanted to chime in and say I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night worrying about this (in relation to my son), too. John Bolton’s name being floated isn’t making me feel better. 😦


  14. One of my favorite quotes is Justice Frank Murphy’s dissent from Korematsu v United States (Fred Korematsu was an American-born citizen of Japanese descent. He refused to honor the order to report to internment camps and his case eventually went to the Supreme court. The internment order was upheld in 1944. Frank Murphy wrote a vehement dissent:

    “Racial discrimination in any form and in any degree has no justifiable part whatsoever in our democratic way of life. It is unattractive in any setting, but it is utterly revolting among a free people who have embraced the principles set forth in the Constitution of the United States. All residents of this nation are kin in some way by blood or culture to a foreign land. Yet they are primarily and necessarily a part of the new and distinct civilization of the United States. They must, accordingly, be treated at all times as the heirs of the American experiment, and as entitled to all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.”

    Trump supporters are suggesting that a Muslim registry might be acceptable, referring to the Japanese internment orders as a precedent. Do I believe there’s going to be a draft or nuclear war — I think it unlikely. But, Trump did suggest a Muslim registry, and we cannot ignore his words (Principle 1: “Treat every poisoned word as a promise.”).

    Flippant comments like Podhoretz (and plenty of others) arguing that life goes on might be accurate, but, the key standard that I’m holding myself to is to think beyond whether life goes on just for me. And though some of these worries affect me directly (will my children and I need to carry our passports if we drive through American?), some of them don’t affect us directly, but to dismiss them is dangerous.


    1. Thanks for this bj – and for the Tablet article link too. I had read that already (I subscribe to Tablet).

      “And though some of these worries affect me directly (will my children and I need to carry our passports if we drive through American?), some of them don’t affect us directly, but to dismiss them is dangerous”. Yes!

      I’ll say it again, privilege is being able to avoid the consequences, whether it’s the option to move or just enjoy enough wealth/status to not have to worry. Even if, for example, a Muslim registry never affects us directly, I believe that the responsibility is on us as fellow citizens to prevent it from happening.

      To quote Hamilton (the musical) – “history has its eyes on you”.

      It’s also living with blinders to assume that this new order never WILL affect us directly. German Jews thought they were not at risk since they were assimilated, highly educated and secular compared to Eastern European Jews. We know how that ended up.


      1. There’s no way a Muslim registry would not affect everybody directly. The government keeps no list by religion. It isn’t even on the census (because the first amendment used to be as important as the second). To make it, they’d have to ask everybody if they were Muslim or not. (And saying “everybody turn in your name if you are Muslim, everybody else be quiet” comes to the same thing.) Participate or resist are really the only options.


      2. The Muslim registry is an example of policies that transcend political party affiliation. I believe that it is one of many “opportunities” that citizens will have to “participate or resist” as you note.


  15. The problem with “resisting” this policy is that the starting point is an apparently constitutional policy on immigration which involves targeting immigrants from certain countries – North Korea plus 24 majority-Muslim countries. So it would not technically be a Muslim registry but a dangerous-country-type registry. (And no one would be able to register for it in the way people are proposing we do because it’s only for immigrants.)

    The ACLU reports that the post 9/11 program this was based on was ineffective in addition to being discriminatory. (And also, I would imagine, cost some money.)

    This is an evilly clever way of going about things, because it is clearly a slippery slope from registering immigrants from almost exclusively majority-Muslim countries to registering American citizens who were originally from those countries (as indicated by the reference to Japanese internment camps) – but there will be no immediate legal way to resist this first move.


    1. I don’t know about the first step, but he didn’t say anything about limiting it to immigrants. He said all Muslims when pressed. And I very much agree with bj on “Treat every poisoned word as a promise.”


      1. I know this is a quote, but why does he use poisoned rather than poison?

        Otherwise I like that article, though I cling to the hope that it is melodramatic in the way that “Obama is coming for your guns” was. ( It was a great fundraiser for gun manufacturers, though. hope this does something similar for journalism.)


      2. Mushrooms, for example, can be poison just by their nature. The words of this campaign were “poisoned” through the deliberate efforts of those speaking them. The distinction matters.

        (It’s probably going to be a good Christmas to buy guns. I bet the gun makers were gearing up for “buy this before Clinton outlaws it” sales and now have excess inventory.)


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