In the blood feud between the Insane Far Left and the Lunatic Far Right, each of them a ridiculously small portion of the body politic, it's easy to lose track of what is actually at stake in the current election.
As we watch Democrats encourage acts of violence and intimidation against Trump administration officials and continue to assert that Trump is impeachable because of fake evidence of collusion with Russia (a nation we are not at war with), it is easy to think that our choice this election is between Trump on one side and the Democrats on the other.
During the primary elections, the Trumpicle candidates vilified incumbent Republican senators and congressmen because they were not sufficiently subservient to Trump and his agenda. They talked as if genuine statesmen like Paul Ryan and John McCain were evil because they weren't Trump's puppets.
So they, too, would like you to regard this election as a referendum on Donald Trump.
Almost every time Trump speaks or tweets, he reminds us of why most Republicans preferred other candidates during the primaries in 2016. If you remember, Trump ran against the Republicans in Congress.
When he was elected with no popular groundswell of public support, the congressional Republicans owed him exactly nothing.
So why should it surprise anybody that the only parts of the Trumpicle agenda that have made it through Congress are the ones that Republicans would have supported with or without Trump?
A stronger military. Federal judges who don't believe they have the right to legislate from the bench. Less federal regulation of businesses. A robust, pro-American foreign policy.
(They haven't repealed Obamacare, because Obamacare was a one-way road. As I said at the time it was enacted: Even though it was a fraudulent law, if the Republicans repeal it, Democrats will accuse them of hurting poor people -- in other words, they will pretend that Obamacare actually did any of the things it was supposed to do.
(So instead of repealing it, Republicans can only tweak it and try to revise it until we have a system that is slightly less repulsive and destructive than the one that Obama's administration left us with.
(If Republicans repeal Obamacare, the victims of Obama's healthcare fraud will blame them. And the national media will go along with the scam.
(That's a fact that congressional Republicans have to deal with. So no, they aren't repealing Obamacare and they're unlikely even to make a serious attempt to do so.)
This is a congressional election. Trump is not on the ballot.
So when you look at the ballot, and you see a candidate in the Democrat column and a candidate in the Republican column, a vote for the Democrat is not a vote against Trump, and a vote for the Republican is not a vote for Trump.
Republicans in Congress are not the dutiful soldiers that the Democrats are. While Democrats almost never vote against their party leadership -- because they know that if they do, the party leaders will put up a primary election challenger, as they did with Lieberman -- Republicans have the ability to think for themselves.
I know, that's almost unthinkable -- and if Trump had his way, they would all be obedient little soldiers -- but in fact, Republicans can be fairly moderate and sane, compared to the lunatics on the Far Right. John McCain stayed in office as long as he wanted, voting against the party line when he felt that was the right way to get the job done -- and every Republican knows he or she has that option.
When you look at the name in the Republican column, you are not seeing someone whose vote will be controlled by the Tweeter-in-Chief. Even those who got the Republican nomination by convincing primary voters that they were true-blue Trumpicles will still have the ability to look at legislation and make up their own minds.
So if Trump demands that they do something that violates their conscience or that will hurt their chances of reelection or that will waste tax money, they have the option of voting as they see fit. They might even listen to their constituents.
They might actually bother to read legislation before they vote for or against it -- something that Democrats don't feel a need to do, as they proved with Obamacare.
And when you think back over hearings about Supreme Court nominees, please remember that Republicans never tried to smear Clinton's or Obama's nominees. In fact, many of them voted for Obama's nominees because they were excellent judges and because the Constitution, which Republicans have actually read, says that the Senate doesn't choose the Supreme Court, they are merely supposed to advise and consent.
Contrast that with how the Democratic mob behaved over Kavanaugh. Just as with Clarence Thomas, a judge of unquestioned integrity was attacked by a person of obviously faulty memory -- at best. She will probably be able to make a career of her vaporous accusations, because the Far Left will insist that she must be believed.
But the American people know better. A sexual predator repeats his offenses -- you know, like noted sexual predator Bill Clinton, whose support staff all knew they had to watch out for "bimbo eruptions" all the time. Likewise, Bill Cosby is going to jail for a pattern of behavior that met his weird predatory needs, and which lasted for decades.
But neither Clarence Thomas nor Brett Kavanaugh ever had a single credible witness against them. In both cases, they were being accused by a woman who was apparently the only one whom they treated in a predatory manner.
Which is why, despite the smear campaign, we knew that these good men did not do what they were accused of doing. (And if you instantly thought, "There's no such thing as a 'good man,'" then you are in the lunatic fringe I've been talking about.)
When you consider voting for the Democratic candidate for a congressional seat, please think about how no Democrat has spoken out against the behavior of the Left in those confirmation hearings (though one Democrat in a red state was allowed to vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation, since it was going to happen anyway).
Not one congressional Democrat has spoken against the mobbing, beatings, vandalism, slanders, and other misbehaviors of the anti-Trump "resistance."
Where were the Republican riots during Obama's administration? If there were any, you can be sure many Republican leaders would have spoken out against them -- and if they didn't, the Leftist media would have demanded loudly to know why.
I found Donald Trump repulsive and annoying before he ran for President. I found him appalling with everything he did during the 2016 campaign. But when the Democrats offered a completely corrupt, dishonest candidate -- the worst their party had to offer -- to oppose him, I have to admit I was relieved when the Electoral College gave the presidency to the Republican.
That's because I trusted the Republican majority in Congress to slow-walk his most insane proposals, and I trusted the Supreme Court to block any of his actions that were actually unconstitutional.
I figured that even though Trump got into office as a populist, running against both Democrats and Republicans, the congressional Republicans would act with integrity and independence -- or at least with an eye toward reelection -- to give us something approaching a moderate federal government.
And even though I am as embarrassed and disgusted by Trump as ever, I must say several things about him that might actually border on praise:
1. He has actually tried to fulfil his campaign promises. Now, I really hate most of his campaign promises, but please keep in mind that this guy actually remembered what he promised and has tried to carry out that agenda.
2. He has turned out to be somewhat better at international relations than his tweety record would suggest. He's no diplomat -- ever -- but he seems to be able to work out reasonable deals sometimes. And he never humiliated us by duplicating Obama's international apology tour. Trump isn't ashamed to be American, the way Michelle Obama declared herself to be.
3. He actually noticed that without the cooperation of Congress, he can't get anything done, and when he tries to bully senators and representatives, it always backfires. So over the past year and a half, he's actually been trying to work out compromises with Republicans in Congress -- something Obama never even attempted.
But the fact that his administrative record has been more in line with moderate Republican principles than his rhetoric ever suggested is owed entirely to the Republican majority in Congress.
If we lose that majority, then the insane lynch mob mentality of the Democratic Party will cause us to face a two-year nightmare of attempts to enact their insane agenda -- including the impeachment of the lawfully elected President.
In other words, the choice is not between Trump and those who don't like Trump.
The choice is between a surprisingly moderate government balanced between Trump and congressional Republicans, or a radical Democratic Congress that believes every accusation against any Republican and punishes everybody who doesn't bow to every ridiculous demand of the politically correct.
I stopped identifying as a Democrat during the 2016 party convention, when a woman got thunderous applause for declaring that she aborted her baby for no better reason than her personal convenience.
At that moment, I knew that the great moderate Democratic tradition of Daniel Patrick Moynihan was dead, replaced by a mob of mindless conformity, following the stupidest ideology ever to be espoused by a large number of American grownups since the end of slavery.
But I didn't become a Republican, either, because I would immediately fit Sean Hannity's definition of a RINO -- a Republican In Name Only.
So I'm going into that voting booth as a nonmember of any political party -- not because I don't want to join a political party, but because there is no political party that speaks for moderation in, well, anything.
Like you, I will vote without knowing much more about any of the candidates than (a) their party affiliation and (b) whatever lies their opponents have told about them during the campaign.
I will cast my ballot to maintain a Republican majority in Congress, not to support Donald Trump in anything.
I think that is important for our country, because I know what happens to our national defense when Democrats set the budget, and I know what happens to our courts when Democrats get to decide which people will be the politically correct dictators and lawmakers from the bench.
If the Lunatic Far Right actually came to power, they would be every bit as scary as the Insane Far Left. But right now, and for the foreseeable future, that's not our choice.
The Republican column still represents a defense of American culture, not the made-up rage-filled dogmas of the politically correct mob.
The Republican column still represents a strong national defense.
It still represents at least an attempt at public civility instead of mouth-frothing violence and intimidation.
And it still promises congresspersons who are free to make up their own minds about what they believe will best serve the interests of our nation.
That's what's really on our ballot this time. Not Donald Trump.
The weather people really do a splendid job of warning us about hurricanes. But they can't control them or even predict in detail what they'll do.
One violent hurricane weakened considerably before it struck the Carolinas, so while it still caused a lot of flooding and damage, it wasn't the storm of the century after all.
And it looped around Greensboro so all we got was a bit of a soaking.
Then a pop-up hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico makes landfall on the Florida panhandle and causes huge power outages in Greensboro, along with treefalls and more floods.
Weather may be better understood and easier to track than at any point in history -- but it's still the boss, and we aren't.
Now, personally, I didn't experience Hurricane Michael's depradations in Greensboro, because my wife and I flew out of Greensboro on Thursday morning just before the winds and rain hit. We attended a family reunion and visited with grandkids in Seattle, where we had perfectly sunny days with cool autumn temperatures.
But our house stayed put for the storm.
Years ago, we invested in a whole-house generator system, fueled by piped-in natural gas. So we knew our refrigerators would have power, and we wouldn't have to replace all our food.
We had also bought four Bell & Howell 16.5" rechargeable Light Bars. We gave two of them away to friends, and had two more charging in our kitchen when the storm struck.
Even those two Light Bars ended up giving light to some friends whose house was out of power.
Here's the report from everybody who used those Bell & Howell Light Bars:
They work. They are amazingly bright. Nobody used the brightest setting because it was too bright. But on the lower setting, a Light Bar in the master bedroom cast light clear down the hall and into the kitchen.
And with a full charge, they had enough juice, as long as you didn't let them run all night, to keep giving light till the house's power was restored.
They come with a built-in stand, so you can put them on the floor or on a table or dresser. They use LEDs, so they don't get too hot to handle.
It's a product that works, folks. And at prices mostly around thirty bucks, it makes financial sense -- because you don't also have to buy lantern batteries or a lot of D and C batteries. Their batteries are built-in, and they're rechargeable in about an hour.
Now, our whole-house generator is also reliable and wonderful and worked very well. But it was expensive. Power outages happen often enough, though, between summer thunderstorms and winter ice storms, that we decided it was worth the cost to not have to replace a fridge full of food every year or so.
Meanwhile, our computers keep running, because we bought the kind of generator that gives out clean power that keeps the computers healthy. That means a power outage at my house, which is also my office, doesn't force me to take a day off work.
So before you spend a lot less money to buy a generator that can only power a few appliances and lights, and only for a while, you might want to call in a generator specialist to give you the full range of options, so you can decide what your needs are and what your budget can afford.
on the art and business of science fiction writing.
Over five hours of insight and advice.
Recorded live at Uncle Orson's Writing Class in Greensboro, NC.
Available exclusively at OSCStorycraft.com
At this time of stay-at-home orders and quarantines, we hope you will enjoy the wonderful writers and artists who contributed to IGMS during its 14-year run.