Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Armistice Day 11/11/16

(Click on the comic strip for a larger view.)

In 1959, Pogo creator Walt Kelly wrote:

The eleventh day of the eleventh month has always seemed to me to be special. Even if the reason for it fell apart as the years went on, it was a symbol of something close to the high part of the heart. Perhaps a life that stretches through two or three wars takes its first war rather seriously, but I still think we should have kept the name "Armistice Day." Its implications were a little more profound, a little more hopeful.

You said it, brother.

Thanks to all who have served or are serving, on this Veterans Day, or Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day.

This post is mostly a repeat I run every year, since I find it hard to top Kelly.

My latest post on these themes is "Forgiveness, Compassion and Generosity."

Seven years ago now, I wrote a series of six related posts for Armistice Day (and as part of an ongoing series on war). The starred posts are the most important, but the list is:

"Élan in The Guns of August"

"Demonizing of the Enemy"

"The War Poetry of Wilfred Owen"

***"Giddy Minds and Foreign Quarrels"

"The Little Mother"

***"War and the Denial of Loss"

The most significant other entries in the series are:

"How to Hear a True War Story" (2007)

"Day of Shame" (2008)

"The Poetry of War" (2008)

"Armistice Day 2008" (featuring the war poetry of Siegfried Sassoon).

"They Could Not Look Me in the Eye Again" (2011)

"The Dogs of War" (2013)

"The Courage to Make Others Suffer" (2015)

I generally update these posts later with links to appropriate pieces for 11/11 by other folks as I find them. If you've written one, feel free to link it in a comment. Thanks.

Forgiveness, Compassion and Generosity

Some thoughts for Armistice Day (or Veterans Day, or Remembrance Day).

How does one deal with a tragedy? Or a great injustice? Or persistent unfairness for years? How does one face violence, or conflict or hatred?

One of the most striking stories I've encountered this year is that of Terri Roberts and her Amish neighbors. Both The Washington Post and StoryCorps did excellent pieces about them. From The Post:

The simple, quiet rural life [Terri Roberts] knew shattered on Oct. 2, 2006, when her oldest son, Charles Carl Roberts IV, walked into a one-room Amish schoolhouse on a clear, unseasonably warm Monday morning. The 32-year-old husband and father of three young children ordered the boys and adults to leave, tied up 10 little girls between the ages of 6 and 13 and shot them, killing five and injuring the others, before killing himself.

Terri Roberts’s husband thought they’d have to move far away. He knew what people thought of parents of mass murderers. He believed they would be ostracized in their community, blamed for not knowing the evil their child was capable of.

But in the hours after the massacre, as Amish parents still waited in a nearby barn for word about whether their daughters had survived, an Amish man named Henry arrived at the Robertses’ home with a message: The families did not see the couple as an enemy. Rather, they saw them as parents who were grieving the loss of their child, too. Henry put his hand on the shoulder of Terri Roberts’s husband and called him a friend.

The world watched in amazement as, on the day of their son’s funeral, nearly 30 Amish men and women, some the parents of the victims, came to the cemetery and formed a wall to block out media cameras. Parents, whose daughters had died at the hand of their son, approached the couple after the burial and offered condolences for their loss.

Then, just four weeks after the shooting, the couple was invited to meet with all the families in a local fire hall. One mother held Roberts’s gaze as both women’s eyes blurred with tears, she said. They were all grieving; they were all struggling to make sense of the senseless.

Steven Nolt, a professor of Amish studies at Elizabethtown College, said that for most people, forgiveness and acceptance come at the end of a long emotional process. But the Amish forgive first and then every day work through the emotions of it. This “decisional forgiveness” opened a space for Roberts to offer her friendship, which normally in their situation would be uncomfortable, he said.

But the Amish did more than forgive the couple. They embraced them as part of their community. When Roberts underwent treatment for Stage 4 breast cancer in December, one of the girls who survived the massacre helped clean her home before she returned from the hospital. A large yellow bus arrived at her home around Christmas, and Amish children piled inside to sing her Christmas carols.

“The forgiveness is there; there’s no doubt they forgive,” Roberts said.


The relationship hasn't been one-sided; Terri Roberts began to spend time taking care of Rosanna, the most severely wounded survivor of her son's attack:

Several months later, Roberts had all the women back to her home for a tea — a gathering that’s now become an annual tradition. As she played again with Rosanna, she asked the girl’s mother if she might help care for her. In the intervening years, Roberts spent nearly every Thursday evening at the King family’s farm, bathing, reading and attending to Rosanna until her bedtime. After the first couple of visits, Roberts said, she would cry uncontrollably the entire drive home, overwhelmed by the reality that this little girl was severely handicapped because of her son.


This has been a rough path for all involved:

For [Rosanna's father, Christ] King, forgiveness has not come easy. Some parents have mourned the death of their daughters. Others have seen their daughters fully heal. His daughter survived, but he also lost her. Every day, he fights back his anger. Every day, he has to forgive again.

Sitting in a folding chair, with Rosanna’s hospital bed in view behind him, King speaks slowly, methodically, measuring each word. There are joy-filled moments with their daughter, like when she seems to perk up when he comes in from work. But then there are days when she has seizures or she’s up in the night and can’t be comforted.

“I’ve always said and continue to say we have a lot of hard work to be what the people brag about us to be,” he said.


Honestly, I'm not sure I'd be capable of that level of forgiveness – some people might call it emotional maturity or spiritual maturity or perhaps grace – but I admire the people who are capable, who work to achieve it and practice it.

I generally think that true forgiveness is impossible – or at least undeserved – unless the offending party regrets the offense. I also don't believe in enabling or excusing destructive, abusive behavior. I definitely don't believe true forgiveness can be commanded or cajoled, and that it's obnoxious to try. Some people prefer the framing, "Forgive but not forget," but it's really just a semantic difference from "not forgiving or condoning, but not stewing on things to a self-destructive degree, either." (Although in some cases such stewing may be perfectly understandable.)

I'm still in partial shock from this week's events. Donald Trump explicitly ran on bigotry and spite, was judged unqualified and temperamentally unfit for office by significant portions of the population, yet still was narrowly elected. There's plenty of analysis left to be done. But hate crimes over the past days reveal the escalation of a disturbing trend this year. I fear we're entering an era threatening the ascent of gleeful bullying, shameless hatred, cruel and reckless policies at home and belligerence abroad. It won't matter if people are wrong or even know they're wrong, because they'll have the power to enforce their will, and they're eager to use it. I hope I'm incorrect. I fear we already possess plenty of evidence (and too many people forget the Bush years and older history), but the coming months and years will provide plenty of opportunities for the Republican Party and conservatives to show their true character.

(Perhaps the worst won't happen – and we can hope for that – but if there's one thing our most recent election shows, it's that it's folly to count on a decent outcome and that things can always get worse.)

So how can one respond?

One way is with strength and resolve. In a political context, or maybe just a personal one, civil disobedience is nonviolent, but it is not passive. It is often confrontational – not aggressive, but steadfast. Conscientious dissent is crucial, especially against bullies.

Another way is with compassion and generosity. I can't pretend I'll reach the level of forgiveness Roberts and King have achieved in the story above. But I can make an increased effort to be kind to others, especially the most vulnerable, most especially those targeted and scapegoated by Trump and his supporters. People make worse decisions when they're scared. Every generous deed and act of connection helps ameliorate the effects of hatred and just might diminish the hatred itself a bit. (I'm also reminded of a story told by Arun Manilal Gandhi about his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, winning over with sheer kindness a white South African who had supported apartheid.)

I've seen some memes and personal offers of aid this week that give me hope. Several schools have posted some version of this:

Dear undocumented students, in this classroom, there are no walls.

Dear black students, in this classroom, your life matters.

Dear Mexican students, you are not rapists or drug dealers.

Dear female students, men cannot grab you.

Dear Muslim students, you are not terrorists.


I've also seen this one:

If you wear a hijab, I'll sit with you on the train.

If you're trans, I'll go to the bathroom with you.

If you're a person of color, I'll stand with you if the cops stop you.

If you're a person with disabilities, I'll hand you my megaphone.

If you're an immigrant, I'll help you find resources..

If you're a survivor, I'll believe you.

If you're a refugee, I'll make sure you're welcome.

If you're a veteran, I'll take up your fight.

If you're LGBTQ, I won't let anyone tell you you're broken.

If you're a woman, I'll make sure you get home ok.

If you're tired, me too.

If you need a hug, I've got an infinite supply.

If you need me, I'll be with you. All I ask is that you be with me, too.


These might seem a bit hokey, but not to someone in genuine need. Facing discouragement is often draining, and confronting actual hatred all the more so. It's easy to get burnt out as an activist, and finding a way to recuperate and support each other is important. Jared Bernstein has characterized conservatism as YOLO, "You're on your own," whereas liberalism is WITT, "We're in this together." This week, I've seen many people genuinely upset, or scared or grieving – and occasionally some nasty taunting in response – but also plenty of compassion, kindness and support. I'll be making my annual food bank donation soon, and I'm reflecting on what else to do in the months ahead. Developing a long-term political strategy is crucial, and specific, concrete activism is as well, but another key way to face down inhumanity and make America better is simply to be better to one another.

(I normally focus more on war on 11/11, but violence certainly isn't limited to war. My most relevant related posts are probably 2011's "They Could Not Look Me in the Eye Again" and 2009's "War and the Denial of Loss." )

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Spite

Donald Trump is a bully and a bullshitter. His fans love him for the first part and don't recognize or don't care about the second. They love him because he hates the people they hate and vows to inflict pain on those other people, who aren't real Americans or full citizens in one way or another, due to their skin color, national origin, religion, gender, sexuality, or just beliefs slightly more moderate than those of the conservative base. In one sense, Trump's nothing new in conservative and Republican politics – like many before him over the past 50-some years, he stands for bigotry and plutocracy – but he's made the past subtext more explicit and harder to deny. In this election, Trump and his supporters have given an increased, starring role to spite.

Republican hopefuls Scott Walker and Chris Christie also sold themselves as bullies, but Walker's working style is stealth to achieve right-wing aims without providing the reassuring hatred of angry speeches for the base. Christie, although unquestionably a bully, was damaged by the bridge closure scandal and couldn't compete with the appeal of Trump's explicit bigotry. Ted Cruz, although undoubtedly right-wing and favored by some religious conservatives, was extremely disliked by others on the right. Ben Carson was both right-wing and clueless enough for the gig, but his somnambulist, soporific style didn't really fire up the base. Carly Fiorina showed she could be vicious, but not in the league of Trump. John Kasich's actual positions are pretty right-wing, but during the primaries, he chose to portray himself as reasonable, practical and comparatively moderate, which contrasted him with Trump, but didn't win over a majority of Republican primary voters in most states. Sure, all the 16-some candidates could be counted on to preach "small government" and push for even more tax cuts to the rich (the chief goal of the Republican establishment), and most were game to throw in some racist dog-whistles per usual, but they couldn't match Trump's belligerence, nastiness and complete lack of shame. Trump knew what the conservative base wanted, and was determined that he would be the last, biggest asshole standing.

Trump lies much, much more often than Clinton, and over five days, "averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds over nearly five hours of remarks." Using Harry Frankfurt's definition, Trump is a bullshitter more than a liar, because he simply doesn't care if what he says is true or not. Unfortunately, many of his supporters are unconcerned, too – as The Washington Post reported in June:

Many of Trump’s fans don’t actually think he will build a wall — and they don’t care if he doesn’t.

Many also don’t think that Trump as president would really ban foreign Muslims from entering the country, seize oil controlled by terrorists or deport 11 million illegal immigrants. They view Trump’s pledges more as malleable symbols than concrete promises, reflecting a willingness to shake things up and to be bold. . . .

Perhaps more than any other presidential candidate in history, Trump has mastered the art of putting forth a platform that is so vague — and so outlandish — that supporters can believe what they want to believe about his plans, even when it comes to something such as a concrete wall on the southern border.


They also don't care about his many scandals, or that he's a horrible businessman who screws over nearly everyone who works for or with him. Nor do they care that he'd cut taxes for the wealthy and explode the national deficit and debt. (To be fair, the tax cuts for the rich are Trump's main appeal for the Paul Ryan crowd, but they wouldn't help most Americans, including most Republican voters.) Alas, political coverage spends little time on actual candidate policy positions, a dynamic that has helped out Trump tremendously – he gives few specifics about his policies, but as he himself has pointed out, his voters don't really care. His standard approach is to bluff and bullshit his way through any question – bragging that he's great, he knows everybody, he'll hire the best people; his opponents are awful, idiots, the worst ever. This approach works well enough for short interviews, especially with friendly or nonconfrontational outlets, but exposes him as an ignoramus when a more in-depth answer is required or follow-up questions are allowed, as in the three presidential debates (although the moderators still could have spent more time on policy). Whatever one thinks of Hillary Clinton's policies, she actually has some – policy papers on her website amounting to 112,735 words compared to just over 9,000 for Trump's site. For that matter, other Republican candidates offered more substantial policies than Trump, too, that conservatives might like more than Clinton's – but Trump's appeal is mostly image and little substance, all swagger, viciousness, a game of dominance.

Lying isn't new to politics, even if the depth and breadth of it from Trump is significant. (Although let's not forget the 917 falsehoods from Romney that Steve Benen documented, especially as some folks are pining for Romney as so much better than Trump – he was, but when judged fairly, still awful.) The lying is a serious problem, but even more troubling is that conservative political figures don't stop telling specific lies after being directly called on it. This disdain for fact-checking and truth didn't start with Trump. Back in 2008, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin kept claiming “I told Congress thanks but no thanks to that Bridge to Nowhere" even after fact-checkers had shown it wasn't true and their work was widely reported. In 2009, Palin, Betsy McCaughey and other conservatives were hawking lies about the Affordable Care Act creating "death panels," a falsehood that was debunked, but they keep on saying it. In 2015, during the Republican primary debates, Carly Fiorina told a despicable falsehood about a supposed undercover video of Planned Parenthood: "Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ " Fiorina was referring to fake footage, and was fact-checked on her statements, but when directly pressed on the issue, she insisted on repeating what by then she had to know was a lie, and a monstrous lie at that – one that demonized her political opponents for political gain. Fiorina simply didn't give a damn, effectively saying "screw you" to the press and anyone who cared about the truth. She knew how the lie would play with the conservative base; its members would take her statements as further proof that the people they already hated were monsters. These dynamics also describe what Rush Limbaugh has been doing since his career started in the 80s – some of his listeners will even admit he exaggerates, but don't much care. As I've written before, Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and their ilk "aren't selling facts, they're selling grievance, cultural solidarity, an emotional truth, and the Two-Minutes Hate. Right-wing audiences simply do not care if their leaders are corrupt, incompetent and lie to their faces – as long as they get their scapegoat." (Tom Sullivan and others have made similar observations.) Lying on this level, especially from a politician running for national office, is a power play, authoritarian and antidemocratic – it says, essentially, I can tell bald-faced, horrible lies and you can even call me on it and it still won't matter, because it'll fire up the base and win me votes and give me power – and then we'll see what you say about me, huh?

This brings us to Trump himself and his good pal and campaign surrogate, Rudy Giuliani. More than any other figures in this election, they've adopted the belligerent smear as a key campaign tool, and tried to bully any critics into silence. Trump has threatened to make it easier for him to sue reporters, revoked the credentials of The Washington Post because he didn't like their (accurate) coverage and has encouraged his crowds to boo the media. (His supporters issued death threats against a reporter who tweeted about the atmosphere of hatred at a Trump rally. That proved him right, but their driving impulse isn't persuasion – it's intimidation.)

Bigotry and spite has been central to Trump's campaign from the beginning (and let's not forget his earlier racist birther bullshit). When Trump announced his run for president on 6/16/15, he attacked undocumented Mexican workers by saying, "They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists." In late November 2015, he repeatedly claimed that "thousands" of Muslims and Arabs in New Jersey cheered during the 9/11 attacks when the Twin Towers fell, but such cheering never happened. On 12/7/16, he announced that "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." (One doesn't have to be a lawyer to know that's unconstitutional, but I'd add it's clearly immoral – we know how discriminating against a group based on their religion can go, and it's not just ugly, it can be deadly.) In June 2016, he claimed that American Muslims knew who potential terrorists were but weren't turning them in. (Muslims aren't real, full Americans, you see, and can't be trusted.) In July 2016, Trump pulled something similar. I'll quote Josh Marshall at length, who wrote (his emphasis):

Trump claimed that people – "some people" – called for a moment of silence for mass killer Micah Johnson, the now deceased mass shooter who killed five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night. There is no evidence this ever happened. Searches of the web and social media showed no evidence. Even Trump's campaign co-chair said today that he can't come up with any evidence that it happened. As in the case of the celebrations over the fall of the twin towers, even to say there's 'no evidence' understates the matter. This didn't happen. Trump made it up.

The language is important: “When somebody called for a moment of silence to this maniac that shot the five police, you just see what's going on. It's a very, very sad situation.”

Then later at the Indiana rally: “The other night you had 11 cities potentially in a blow-up stage. Marches all over the United States—and tough marches. Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac! And some people ask for a moment of silence for him. For the killer!”

A would-be strong man, an authoritarian personality, isn't just against disorder and violence. They need disorder and violence. That is their raison d'etre, it is the problem that they are purportedly there to solve. The point bears repeating: authoritarian figures require violence and disorder. Look at the language. "11 cities potentially in a blow up stage" .. "Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac!" ... "And some people ask for a moment of silence for him. For the killer."

At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, if you translate the German, the febrile and agitated language of 'hatred', 'anger', 'maniac' ... this is the kind of florid and incendiary language Adolf Hitler used in many of his speeches. Note too the actual progression of what Trump said: "Marches all over the United States - and tough marches. Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac!" (emphasis added).

The clear import of this fusillade of words is that the country is awash in militant protests that were inspired by Micah Johnson. "Started by ..."

We're used to so much nonsense and so many combustible tirades from Trump that we become partly inured to them. We also don't slow down and look at precisely what he's saying. What he's saying here is that millions of African-Americans are on the streets inspired by and protesting on behalf of a mass murderer of white cops.

This is not simply false. It is the kind of wild racist incitement that puts whole societies in danger. And this man wants to be president. . . .

These are the words – the big lies rumbling the ground for some sort of apocalyptic race war – of a dangerous authoritarian personality who is either personally deeply imbued with racist rage or cynically uses that animus and race hatred to achieve political ends. In either case, they are the words of a deeply dangerous individual the likes of whom has seldom been so close to achieving executive power in America.


As for Giuliani, who's always been an authoritarian, he claimed in early July that he had softened Trump somewhat on the "ban on Muslims," but by the end of the month, "said he would be in favor of forcing Muslims on the federal government's terrorism watch list to wear electronic monitoring tags or bracelets for authorities to track their whereabouts." In mid-July, Giuliani gave a screaming speech at the Republican National Convention (video here). As he has at past conventions, Giuliani trotted out his beloved 'the Democrats didn't use the magic words' bullshit argument, but it was his combination of bigotry, apocalyptic framing and shameless demagoguery that really struck me. (Honestly, I found the speech chilling, and not in the way Giuliani intended – the first word that came to mind was "Nuremberg," same as for Blue Gal. By the way, Godwin's law doesn't apply if the analogy is valid, and Mike Godwin himself has weighed in on this in relation to Trump.) Trump and other speakers at the convention took a page from Nixon's book (really, it's a conservative staple) and talked a great deal about "law and order." But the truth is, they don't truly care about "law and order"; they certainly don't care about due process. They only care about punishment of the people they hate. That has always been the scared and spiteful essence of their pitch. Trump and at least some of his surrogates are willing to lie, fear-monger and stir up racial anxiety and hatred for political gain. On some level, beneath any denial or self-delusion, they know what they are doing. They are consciously choosing to do this. It's sadly nothing new, but it remains despicable and even evil.

Unfortunately, Trump and his surrogates haven't been pushed nearly hard enough on this. Nor have their followers. I'd occasionally see Fox News segments in which people endorsed Trump, saying they liked him because he said what was on his mind and wasn't "politically correct," but tellingly, the hosts never really pressed such guests on what exactly they meant by that. It'd be nice if we could have an honest conversation, where such people would say outright, "I want to treat Muslim-, Arab- and Mexican-Americans as second-class citizens," but of course they won't, nor will they admit to being scared of Muslims but knowing very little about them. As soon as Trump proposed banning Muslims – which was a campaign statement, not an off-the-cuff remark – every single interview should have pressed him on it (or any of his other bigoted statements). He and his supporters have the right to express their views, but I've been dismayed that haven't been challenged nearly enough. ("Do you realize what you're saying? Do you realize what this would entail?") At least a few folks have pressed Trump on how he'd deport over 11 million undocumented immigrants or how he'd build a border wall, but he's never given convincing answers. Of course, the conservative base doesn't care if such things are impossible, because a promise of hostility from Trump against their chosen foes is enough. But it's important that such insanity and extremity be put on display, front and center, for the rest of the electorate.

Any number of Trump's positions, statements and actions are disqualifying, and I've barely touched on some of them. His economic plans are horrible. His personal character is atrocious –he doesn't pay people who do work for him. He's a rampant misogynist who's bragged about sexually assaulting women. Trump's also endorsed torture repeatedly: "I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." His attitude is driven, as usual, by his machismo and his ignorance – as Rear Admiral John Hutson put it, "Torture is the method of choice of the lazy, the stupid, and the pseudo-tough." There's virtually no admirable position or trait Trump possesses – yet he was the Republicans' choice for president. And despite efforts to disown him, Trump's ascent is a feature, not a bug, of movement conservatism and the choices the Republican Party has made over 50-some years (much more on that in a future post).

The Washington Post has an editorial titled, "History will remember which Republicans failed the Trump test," and The New York Times has an ongoing feature titled, "More than 160 Republican Leaders Don’t Support Donald Trump. Here’s When They Reached Their Breaking Point." (The number went up throughout the campaign season.) These are valuable pieces, but Brad De Long did something similar with George W. Bush back in 2007 – it would be a grave mistake to forget how horrendous Bush and other Republicans and conservatives were and are, even if Trump weren't in the picture. It is Republican dogma never to raise taxes and to cut them on the rich; conservatives have been fighting against a sustainable fiscal and economic model since Reagan, and have likewise been fighting against a responsible model of governance. Liberals criticize the Democratic Party all the time, and there's certainly room for improvement there, but Republicans have become much more conservative over the years, have enacted unprecedented obstructionism in the modern era and simply are the major problem in American politics. Unfortunately, many Republicans and conservatives will deny this, as will the many shallow "both sides" political commentators around (see Digby, driftglass or my archives for much more).

Step one is defeating Trump, but efforts can't stop there. I'm always in favor of outreach and discussion, but it's important to acknowledge that they might not work – some people will never be persuadable – especially if they're primarily driven by spite. We can't count on 'cooler heads to prevail' or 'the better angels of their nature' to hold sway for everyone. The conservative base hates many of their fellow Americans and will not be dissuaded. So while we're trying to convince the crowd charmed by the season's latest bigot or snake oil salesman to reconsider, it's essential to get out the vote in case such outreach fails. Voting is crucial, and sustained activism is even more so. Even if Trump loses this election, there's much more work to be done.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Cubs Win the World Series

I can't claim to be the most diehard Cubs fan, living and dying with every game and season, but I have been a lifelong and loyal fan since visiting family in Chicago as a kid and attending Wrigley Field for my first-ever baseball game. I used to joke that I was a Cubs fan because I was a masochist, and I think many Cubs fans have approached their fandom with loyalty, fatalism and a sense of humor. I'd root for them every time they made the playoffs and catch the games. More often, when they stunk, I'd check in periodically during the season and sigh. In 2003, it looked like teams with two of the longest championship droughts at the time, the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, could meet in the World Series, which I joked would cause a black hole that would engulf the entire universe. The Red Sox won the next year and twice again since, the Chicago White Sox broke their long drought in 2005, and now the Cubs finally got their turn, after a mere 108 years.

The playoffs this season were entertaining but left me slightly conflicted because after the Cubs, I root for the Nationals, and after them the Dodgers – and all three teams were in. I'd have rooted for whichever team won the pennant, but naturally I was pulling for the Cubs. The World Series itself was thrilling and stressful, especially that amazing game 7, definitely one of the best games I've ever seen. The Cubs being the Cubs, they had to make their fans despair several times before the end, but finally, they won.

I'll won't link all of what I have elsewhere on social media, but I was impressed by Indians manager Tony Francona's gracious post-game interview: "It was an honor to be part of that." Hardcore Cubs fan Bill Murray said, "We became such good losers – I hope we're good winners." (Agreed.) Rob Arthur wrote a good piece about Cubs fandom at 538:
As my dad realized in the ’50s, there’s something liberating about knowing your team is going to lose. With the outcome sealed, you become free to enjoy the game and the experience of the ballpark for whatever it is. Sometime in the middle of the incredible, marathon, rain-delayed epic that was Game 7, I came to that conclusion myself.

I think my two favorite stories, though, are about elderly Cubs fans celebrating and people writing the names of departed loved ones in chalk on the brick walls at Wrigley. Oh, and the Chicago cast of Hamilton sang "Go Cubs, Go" at curtain call.

Yeah, it's just sports, but it's been nice to see all the joy this has generated.