I don’t wish to dwell on what we cannot change any more than you do – this is fine, we’re all fine! – but I want to give voice and space to everyone feeling beyond exhausted and weary by this whole dank, brutal, terrifying year. Apparently Covid cases spiking again wasn’t quite enough heartbreak and chaos, I guess we needed more election stealing too? Trump’s and the GOP’s coup is still ongoing, we shouldn’t be celebrating until Biden’s neoliberal mediocre white ass is sitting in the Oval Office and the locks have been changed. I’m disturbed and alarmed by most of the left’s reaction and response to this destructive deed. Our Democratic leaders are mostly outright ignoring flagrant sedition, while the punditry and so-called thought leaders are meeting it with flippant, intellectually lazy, historically ignorant, and ostrich-like smugness. That said, I’m cautiously hopeful that this coup will be made to fail, somehow. That the judiciary – the very courts Mitch McConnell stacked – isn’t granting Trump a win (so far) is positive. That Biden’s win margin was too high to legally dispute via recounts is a good thing. But it’s prudent to remember that Trump isn’t out of options yet. He has the full power of the federal government behind him, and he is in no way giving up. It’s not time to relax and make Donny doo doo diaper jokes quite yet. Actually… I’ll argue it’s never time to make those jokes, at least not in a vacuum. Even if this resolves as peacefully as possible – and yes, I’m aware those words are doing some very heavy lifting – we should be highly motivated to learn as much about this coup attempt and fascism and Trump’s crimes and mob connections as possible. We will deal with this again, and possibly very, very soon.
That said: story time! As my regular readers know, I grew up in one of the most politically active factions of evangelical Christianity. I’ve seen some shit. This is a little story about the 2000 presidential election, a story I hope serves as nothing beyond entertainment, but one I fear could be prescient.
First, a little context: you should know that as early as election night on November 7th, 2000, conservatives were dead convinced that George Bush had defeated Al Gore for the presidency and was the rightful winner. What they based this on I couldn’t tell you. But that’s what they thought, and vehemently so. A narrative of Al Gore trying to steal the election from Bush was immediately adopted.
Of course you remember that some hanging chads in one Florida county kept the nation in rapt suspense for a month until the United States Supreme Court finally ruled in George Bush’s favor. Florida was ordered to stop counting, which meant the state swung to Bush and he eked out a win for the White House.
During this entire suspenseful month, I distinctly remember conservatives were running around like headless chickens, sowing panic over how Gore might steal their rightful seat of power. One theory they glommed onto was that supposedly then-President Bill Clinton was going to find some flimsy pretense to declare emergency powers and martial law and suspend the election and just stay president. Which would leave Gore as vice-president, of course, and Bush as nothing.
If you are laughing right now, I don’t blame you. I can’t imagine the mere thought of such a preposterous act even entered Bill Clinton’s head. Do we think he even wanted to stay President? Dude looked pretty tired to me. But we ought to set our laughter aside for a second and remember that the Right always tells us what they want to do in the form of projection and narrative inversion. Are you seeing the parallels to right now? Because I am.
Obviously I’m not saying it will happen. I have no idea what will actually happen. No one does. But my memory from the contested 2000 election runs through my head a bit these days. As The Cut likes to say, I Think About This A Lot. The idea that Trump could declare martial law, use emergency powers to prevent either the Electoral College vote or Congress from certifying the winner on January 6th isn’t outside the realm of possibilities; this idea has been in his supporters’ heads for at least twenty years now. It’s fairly obvious he’s shopping around for his Reichstag fire. I vividly remember my conservative relatives complaining and worrying that Gore had an “unfair advantage” over Bush because he was already in the White House. Unfair advantage, that’s what they kept saying. Now consider that Trump does have that, shall we say, advantage. Chilling.
The Electoral College votes on Monday, and that looming event has been, for the first time in my life, a source of anxiety. I’m pretty sure I haven’t even known the exact date of the vote in election years past. This year though, it’s jaw clenching dread while we endure offensive and mind-numbing punditry treating encroaching autocracy like a horse race. Will one of America’s most important institutions hold? Grab some popcorn and let’s find out!
This is a dark December, no question. I usually offer a Christmas cookie recipe this time of year, but the thought depressed me. Baking Christmas cookies is generally a symbol of gathering and sharing, and thanks to the pandemic, there is, or ought to be, none of that this year. Sure, we can bake the cookies, but we can’t send them to our kids’ classrooms or our partner’s office, or set them out at a party or white elephant gift exchange. I opted to share scones instead. Still a treat to bake and devour, but one that doesn’t feel so gloomy to keep within your household.
Chocolate Pecan Scones
- 3 tbs plus 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 8 oz. bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tbs granulated sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
- 2 tbs baking powder
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 sticks (16 tbs) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small chunks
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 5 large eggs, divided
- Preheat your oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- In a small bowl, combine 3 tbs flour with the chopped chocolate and pecans. Stir to evenly coat everything, then set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the 4 cups flour, 2 tbs sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the chunked butter, then use a pastry blender or your hands to work the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas. Add the chocolate and pecan mixture and stir lightly. It doesn’t have to be combined perfectly.
- Whisk the heavy cream and 4 eggs until combined. Pour this mixture into the center of the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to stir until mostly combined. Use your hands to knead the mixture together, getting those last stray crumbs and bits.
- Lightly flour a large cutting board or work surface, then transfer the dough. Shape it into an even circle or log, then cut it in half. Flatten one half into a circle until it’s about 1 inch tall. Use a rolling pin if needed. Cut the circle into either 6 or 8 triangles, depending on how big you like your scones.
- Transfer the scones to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
- Beat the remaining egg with a splash of water or heavy cream, then brush the tops of each scone with the egg wash. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and are not squishy when tapped. Let cool at least a few minutes before serving.