A Day Without Women, and Another With Trump

Wednesday was a “Day Without Women,” and if not for all the news stories about it we wouldn’t have noticed. It was already the annual “International Women’s Day” on the calendar, so women got together and declared a general strike to protest President Donald Trump and other affronts to womankind, and a “Day Without Women” was the catchy name they came up for it.
The protest reportedly drew large crowds to rallies in New York and Los Angeles and Chicago and other large cities, with smaller ones scattered around the country, and enough public school district teachers joined in to force several districts to shut down for the day. Meanwhile Trump remained president, the Republicans in congress went right ahead with consideration of a budget that would cut funding for Planned Parenthood, and someone on the Howard Stern was telling a sexist joke, along with all the usual domestic abuse and unwanted cat-calls and the slightly indignities that accumulate every, and all the coordinated outrage about it went largely unnoticed around here.
Being the contentedly solitary sorts we’ve survived many a day without women, or even men, and usually found it blessedly hassle-free. Even to the extent that we count on women for fast-food service and other commercial transactions, or just for some friendly conversation, the “Day Without Women” was pretty much as usual. The same group of delightful women in the local amateur theatrical we do every year were there at rehearsal, afterwards a lovely and charming young lady at the Thai fried rice place on West Street got us out take-out order of the very spicy chicken fried rice with admirable efficiency, and the woman with the mellifluous voice on the old folks AM radio station was playing some sultry Peggy Lee on the way home. There was nothing in the station’s news break about the local schools being closed, which was too bad for the local kids because the weather was unseasonably perfect for a day off, and although we didn’t check our Facebook we don’t think the general strike had much an effect on Wichita, Kansas.
Even here in the middle of the big red splotch on the electoral map, and despite our blissful bachelorhood, we’re quite sympathetic to at least some of the striking women’s complaints. Especially the more striking ones, if you’ll forgive the joke, which we couldn’t resist. Although we’ve never hesitated to argue with a woman that de-funding Planned Parenthood doesn’t constitute a “war on women,” and neither did any of that silly stuff they used against Republican nominee Mitt Romney back in ’12, we aren’t so willing to start a potential shouting match in defense of Trump. Especially if we were at a party and she were attractive and drunk and flirty, which is also a joke we apologize for but couldn’t resist.
The relative dearth of female cabinet picks and that transgender bathroom rule and the rest of what Trump has thus far done as president doesn’t bother us all that much, and most of the women we know seem similarly unbothered by any of it, but we can well understand the objections to the whole Trump persona. Even the most die-hard Republican women we know, and being here in the middle of that big red splotch of the electoral map that includes some pretty damned die-hard Republican women, would have preferred that their party had beaten Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with someone, for that matter anyone, who wasn’t a thrice-married and proudly adulterous strip club owner who habitually makes public comments on women’s looks and tells sexist jokes on the Howard Stern show and goes around grabbing women by their wherevers. That’s what our Republican women friends say, so you can easily understand that what our Democratic women friends have to say about Trump does not bear repeating in such a genteel and family-friendly publication as this.
Perhaps it’s some vestigial sense of chivalry, or maybe we’ve just been wussified the feminization of America, but we find it hard to argue with any of the women we meet who don’t like Donald Trump. Our God-fearing Church of Christ mother taught us an old-fashioned and even Old Testament respect for women, the old movies on the late show taught the same manly code, a series of ferocious girlfriends and fiancees and fleeting encounters have successfully demanded our full respect, and although feminism far too often makes a fool of itself we can’t deny it still has some valid complaints.
Trump doesn’t treat women well, either by the standards of early 21st century feminism or the manly code you’ll see in all those old movies that still pop up on the late show, and that is a conspicuous flaw in a President of the United States. If it hasn’t inarguably affected any of his policy decisions, it has given license to the up-and-coming comic who’s taken Trump’s place on the Howard Stern show to keep up the sexist jokes, and for the construction worker to feel unbound by political correctness and shout out his appreciation of female passerby’s breasts, and to confirm that the most vulgar aspects of our popular culture trump all.
This is bad news for both the old-fashioned fuddy-duddies on the right who thought they controlled at least the Republican party, and for those hippy-dippy do-in-the-road lefties who thought their domination of the popular culture would bring about a utopia of sexual equality, but that’s where find ourselves on another generally fine day without women.

— Bud Norman


The Sweet Taste of Freedom

If you know anyone in need of a pastry chef, we can heartily recommend the services of Bill Yosses. Although we’ve never met him nor had the opportunity to taste his work, Yosses has an excellent reputation and is obviously a most conscientious sort of pastry chef.
Yosses was previously the executive pastry chef at the White House, serving both the Bush and Obama families with his famous cookie plates and elaborate sugar sculptures, but has recently resigned in protest against administration policies. We’ve been expecting other high officials to take a similarly principled stand, given the administration’s disastrous policies on everything from the economy to education to foreign affairs, but thus far Yosses has been the only one with sufficient self-respect. He might not disagree with the rest of the nonsense emanating from the White House, but he draws the line at the First Lady’s insistence on using fruit puree and honey and agave and other fashionably healthful ingredients in his heartfelt creations, telling the press that “I don’t want to demonize cream, butter, sugar, and eggs.”
News stories about Yosses usually mention that he is openly homosexual, which strikes us as a rather extraneous detail, unless it is meant to explain the kind words the First Lady sent out after his departure, but he has an admirably old-fashioned understanding that dessert is not supposed to be good for you. Whatever liberalism Yosses’ homosexuality might have instilled in him, his steadfast defense of such bedrock values of western civilization as cream, butter, sugar, and eggs is downright Burkean to our thinking and deserving of conservative praise. The administration’s annoying nutritional authoritarianism is typical of its approach to almost everything, and is as good a point as any to draw a sugary line in the sand.

— Bud Norman

Illegal Immigration on the Front Lawn

Liberalism can be a lonely philosophy in Kansas, where the office-holders usually run the gamut from moderate Republican to conservative Republican, and even the Democratic politicians feel obliged to pretend that they’re not liberals, but the psychic rewards of liberalism are therefore even greater here than elsewhere. There are more people for a liberal to feel morally and intellectually superior to, one of the primary appeals of liberalism, and the state also provides an ample supply of people that a good-hearted liberal can happily hate.
Half of the Koch brothers live in the state, which should be sufficient to keep a Kansas liberal constantly seething with a satisfying scorn, but it also has Gov. Sam Brownback, an abortion-hating budget-cutter whose squeaky-clean small town persona drives the local Democrats to a state of self-righteous hysteria, and adding to the embarrassment of right-wing riches is Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Kansas Secretaries of State usually keep a low profile and inspire little passion in either their supporters or opponents, and they’ve never had the slightest bit of fame outside the state, but Kobach has become a nationally-loathed figure because of his outspoken opposition to illegal immigration. Before winning office he had served as an immigration adviser to Attorney General John Ashcroft, which was more than enough to earn the enduring enmity of liberals everywhere, and then he had the audacity to write tough immigration laws for Arizona and Alabama and the help defend them as a lawyer and essayist. Since taking office he has persuaded the legislature to pass a law requiring photo identification for voting, which the local liberals regard as far more frightening assault on civil liberties than anything the National Security Agency or Internal Revenue Service might be up to, and otherwise taken steps to ensure that only eligible voters are allowed to vote.
The only explanation the liberal imagination can conjure for this bizarre stand is that Kobach must really hate Mexicans, a theory that also handily justifies the local liberals’ red-hot hatred for Kobach. So it was that on Saturday a group of about 300 protestors from something called Sunflower Community Action, sending out the call on the Tweeter “hashtag” of “#KingOfHate,” descended on Kobach’s home to drop a bunch of old shoes on his lawn. The protestors wore t-shirts proclaiming their “Kansas Values,” and chanted for “Kris Kobach come on down, see what Kansans are all about,” and generally seemed to think it the very height of Kansasness to for an angry mob to trespass on someone’s front porch.
Although the tactic has been employed from time to time by some of Kansas’ more militant anti-abortion activists, we can assure you that it is not characteristic of the state’s politics. The state’s media seemed to take it in stride, though, certainly with less indignation than was discernible in the reports of those gatherings on the front lawns of abortionists, and no one seemed to find anything hateful about it. Over at The Kansas City Star our erstwhile newspaper colleague Judy L. Thomas, usually an even-handed sort, even accepted the protestors’ claim that “the majority of Kansas support immigration reform” without question. We would certainly question it, based on our wide sampling of Kansas opinion as well as Kobach’s comfortable margin of victory in the last election, and even if it were true it would not justify a mob trespassing on a person’s home.
Illegal immigration is a vexing issue, and requires an honest debate. Beginning with the assumption that anyone who believes that Mexican nationals should not be allowed to vote in American elections is hateful does not further the dialogue, and it certainly does not excuse the hateful tactics employed by the likes of Sunflower Community Action no matter how good it feels. The protestors are no doubt pleased with themselves, but if the opposition starts showing up at their doors things could become ugly.

— Bud Norman