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    Ann Rostow: Please Keep Mitt!

    1-Ann_RostowBy Ann Rostow

    Please Keep Mitt!

    My vigilant cousin provided us with our word of the week: “kakistocracy,” a government run by the least qualified. Yes, I know. You ran into this now-useful piece of vocabulary a few days ago yourself. Because it’s being passed around just like “shambolic” and “fever dream” and all the other such terms that were making the rounds a couple of months ago in descriptions of the Trump campaign.

    That was that time, long ago, before Director Comey dropped his bombshell on the Presidential race and brought the Clinton campaign’s double digit lead down to coin flip range. Okay, okay. There were many reasons for the election outcome. Just like there might be many reasons for, let’s say, a car accident. But having a giant clown suddenly race into the middle of the street and start throwing oranges at your windshield might be a more significant factor than the 2psi tire deflation that you were meaning to deal with. And it doesn’t help if the clown yells, “Sorry!” just as you’re about to hit the telephone pole.

    Last week I was joking about being pleased that Mitt Romney, of all people, might become Secretary of State. Now it looks like we’re not even going to get Mitt. Is it possible that Trump would appoint Giuliani?

    About 20 minutes just went by since I wrote that question. These days, I find that I am not capable of sustaining these post-election trains of thought and, instead of reaching conclusions, I drift off into unrelated mental wanderings like a child trying to escape a traumatic memory.

    This time I went to look up something about Giuliani, and I found myself reading a review of The Handmaiden, a lesbian movie that was accused of making lesbian sex look too stylized and unrealistic. (Honestly, having come of age reading The Well of Loneliness, I can’t be bothered with this kind of complaint.) I moved from this into the story of a Russian school teacher who injured her 15-year-old student by impaling her with some phallic object until emergency medics were required. The teacher claimed the girl insisted. Oh, not that old excuse!

    From there I saw some fuzzy video of “people who get caught having sex in public,” but I resisted clicking for further examples. I saw a headline that confirmed Jemma Lucy is having a lesbian romance with Charlotte Dawson, but I don’t know who these people are. I want you to know about it, but if you are someone who recognizes these names, you’re probably well aware that the two are involved.

    Finally, I descended to the bottom of the web by clicking on three tips that “really do help you lose weight.” For the record: write a food diary, get a good night’s sleep, and don’t count calories. Not bad. I already sleep well and ignore calorie counts, so I am two thirds of the way towards losing weight—should I choose to pursue that goal.

    Thanks for Nothing, Millennials!

    Look, let’s steer clear of Trump and Giuliani and the whole cast of characters for now. I can tell you, for example, that One Million Moms is all tied up in knots over a Zales jewelry commercial that shows a lesbian wedding as one of several examples of love that deserves a diamond.

    “Zales,” screamed the Moms, “is using public airwaves to subject families to the decay of morals and values, and belittle the sanctity of marriage in an attempt to redefine marriage.”

    I don’t know who wrote this press release, but you don’t repeat the same major word twice in one statement, let alone twice in one sentence. Use “matrimony” in the first instance, for example. I make this complaint because I am seeing sloppier and sloppier public writing, whether in an article, ad copy, or in a comment like the one above. It’s yet another one of the things I dislike these days.

    My cohort—the mid baby boomers—are hitting sixty and moving beyond, so we are now primed to voice our disdain for what we perceive as a devolution of culture and society. I was planning to rise above this phase of life, live in the moment and remain optimistic and pleasant to be around. But not anymore.

    When I was a child, my parents elected John Kennedy. (And that was after they saved the world from fascism!)

    When I was your age, dear thirty-somethings, we elected a democratic administration twice in a row.

    When I hit middle age, we elected the first Black president, and re-elected him four years later.

    Sure, there were a few bumps along the road, but here I turn sixty and hand over the reins and what happens? President Donald Trump? Are you kidding me? I left out the obscene adverb because it’s undignified for someone my age to write: are you f—ing kidding me? Oh, I know it’s not your fault. I’m just looking to blame someone, other than James Comey.

    Was that an adverb there in that context? I’m proofing this column and am not sure.

    He Went Back to Jared

    So Zales. This means that it’s that time again. Time for the same commercials that we see every year because I guess these major companies can’t be bothered to produce a new Christmas commercial once every twelve months. You know the ones I’m talking about:

    There’s the one where Santa has all these red cars to choose from. There’s the one where a guy can’t ice skate as well as the girl and then he falls and she catches him and he gives her a ring. There’s the one from the company that makes car mats and suggests you might give someone car mats for Christmas. There’s the one where the adults are excited about Christmas morning, and the kids are world weary and barely awake (because the adults got luxury cars as gifts).

    And then there’s the little drummer boy played ad infinitum. There are the Hallmark Christmas movies. One year I deliberately watched a dozen of those for reasons that escape me now.

    Here’s one plot: a female corporate executive with an ambitious business boyfriend must go home to small town for Christmas, for some reason. She is snowed in. She meets her old high school crush who is now the sheriff. He is a widower with a small child. She is in the middle of a deal, which flounders. The boyfriend manages to get to town but in the end, she lets the deal go down the drain and goes off with the sheriff while the boyfriend pouts and stares at her in disbelief.

    And here’s another: Santa is retiring but his son, an executive in the real world who is estranged from his father and all he represents, does not want to follow in Santa’s footsteps. Mrs. Santa sends an elf who convinces the son to visit, for some reason. In the end, Santa falls ill, so the son delivers the toys. The two are reconciled. The son revamps the North Pole factory and tells his fiancée the whole story.

    And how about this one: a poor single-mother family, rich in spirit, sits down on a snowy evening for limited Christmas Eve fare. A knock at the door reveals a white-haired man, down on his luck, who is stranded. Mother and son (maybe two kids) invite the man in and share the little they have. Later, it becomes clear that the man might be a criminal on the loose and/or an escaped prisoner. Police arrive and the mother is about to turn in the visitor when the son intervenes and tells police the man was walking down the lane away from town. The man is thankful for the family’s protection. He eventually turns out to be a) the children’s long lost rich grandfather, or b) a magical angel.

    I really don’t know whether to be happy or crazed this time of year. I suppose I wind up mixing both together, donning my Santa hat, shaking up a Negroni and setting the TV on “fireplace” while I compose limericks about naughty reindeer. Oh, speaking of naughty animals, I should mention that UKIP politician Jonathan Reese-Evans lost his bid for party leadership. Earlier in his campaign he had told the story of how a gay donkey once raped his horse. UKIP is the far right “Independence” party that led the Brexit camp. And in other U.K. news, I see here on the BBC that a family from Wiltshire adopted a three-month-old polecat that their son Gary found while doing his paper route. The polecat has been named Tommy.

    I’m serious! This is official news. According to the BBC, “the family already has two dogs and four ferrets, but despite the competition Tommy is still managing to ‘run about and cause mischief.’”

    I’m not even sure what a polecat is. I just know that this makes me feel better about my own news selections. (By the way, how did they know that Tommy was three months old?)

    In Other News…

    You see, I’ve told you about Tommy the polecat, but I have yet to touch on the first several items on my news list, which are generally the most significant community developments. (Tommy the polecat wasn’t even on the list to begin with!)

    We have, for instance, another federal judge who has ruled that Title VII, the federal law that protects most people from job bias, should be interpreted to include sexual orientation. Yay! That’s the second in recent weeks and comes as the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit prepares to take up this crucial issue as well.

    The mean governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, has yet to concede that he lost his reelection bid on Election Day, even though it’s clear that he did. Those of us who dislike this man (who helped engineer the HB2 anti-trans bathroom bill) are enjoying watching him twist in the wind, much as we enjoyed watching the nasty boyfriend from Home Town Christmas freeze in stunned silence as Lindsey ran to embrace the handsome sheriff and his little boy.

    What else? Lambda Legal has an interesting intersex client who is trying to get a passport without checking either the male or female box on the application. The State Department says they don’t care which box is checked, only that one of the two official genders is selected. As Lambda points out, this indicates that indeed the State Department has no interest in the truth of the passport form, only in the mindless technicality of filling out the form as instructed.

    And Saturday Night Lives Colin Jost got in trouble for making a trans joke on Weekend Update.

    “The dating app Tinder announced a new feature this week, which gives users 37 different gender identity options,” Jost quipped. “It’s called, ‘Why Democrats lost the election.’”

    First of all, I hate the humorless reputation of the GLBT community, and lesbians, in particular.

    Do you know how many lesbians it takes to change a light bulb?

    That’s not funny.

    Ba da bing!

    But here’s what I don’t like about Jost’s trans joke. The Democrats never discussed the gay community or the trans community during the election. We were not avoided; we just didn’t come up. Yes, North Carolina’s HB2 law was the subject of media coverage. But Clinton never talked about it. Obama never talked about it. I suppose Colin Jost could have changed his tag line to: “Why North Carolina Democrats lost the election!” except for the fact that the North Carolina Democratic candidate for governor actually won his election, defying the national GOP trend, not in spite of but because of his pro-trans policies and his pledge to roll back HB2, if possible.

    The 37 gender identities on Tinder reflect a generational change, not some kind of partisan frivolity. As for bathroom laws like HB2, they are a Republican obsession, not a Democratic talking point. I just read, for the record, that Texan Republicans plan to introduce a bathroom ban next year which will be titled: the “Women’s Privacy Act.” And, since the law will oblige everyone to use the bathroom of their birth gender, this means that very masculine transgender men will be forced into the ladies’ rooms. I would say “only in Texas…” were that only the case.