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2016 Solution: Two Party Amnesia

When you go to the grocery store you’ve got multiple brands of cookies from which to choose. You don’t just limit your choice to two when you see ten varieties up there. More to the point, if you have one bag of cookies from ten different brands on the shelf and two of those bags are already open, would you buy one of those two just because someone told you that you had to? We have multiple brands of presidential candidate available this year and yet most of us will limit ourselves to only two choices – the two open bags of contaminated cookies. What sense does that make? The notion that only one of the two major parties can win is the very definition of a self-fulfilling prophesy. This year, we have alternatives to suit just about every taste. So I suggest a mental exercise.

From now on, simply FORGET there is a Democrat and Republican party. I’m calling for self-induced amnesia. When you go into the voting booth in November, limit yourself to the four major alternatives, instead of the two contaminated front-runners. Let’s forget about Hillary and Donald and take a peek at the rest:

The Far Left

Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate. She is Bernie Sanders on steroids. She favors guaranteed housing and food for all (a wordy way of saying guaranteed minimum income). She wants migration to alternative fuels by 2030. She wants a committee to deal with the legacy of slavery. She wants a 50% cut in military spending. She calls her platform the “Power to the People Plan” and you almost get a 1960’s second-hand high just reading her positions. If you are a leftist, Jill is the one for you.

A Bit of Both

If you’re a fiscal hard-ass but socially liberal, the Libertarian party is offering up Gary Johnson. Gary wants to stay out of your doctor’s office and out of your bedroom. He wants to balance the budget (and it seems by any means necessary). To that end you can say goodbye to the Commerce Department  and the Department of Education. (Gary says “we need commerce, not a commerce department.”) He wants pot legal and more serious drugs handled though health services, not incarceration. Interestingly, he still wants the more serous drugs illegal so I’m unclear on what the “punishment” would be. You don’t want the gov snooping on your phone or restricting your Internet? Gary agrees with you. As a stylistic aside: when we look at photos, we either gravitate to the biggest object in the photo or we scan left to right. So it is odd that the campaign photo on Gary’s page has his running mate, Bill Weld on the left and Gary on the right. Gary is also shorter than Weld. The inevitable result is you either think Weld is Johnson (if you don’t know better) or you think Weld is running for President. In a recent Libertarian town hall, Johnson floated the idea of he and Weld sharing power almost equally. So maybe the picture is not a misstep after all?

The Right

Former CIA operative, Evan McMullin has launched an independent bid for the presidency rather late in the game. He will probably be on the ballot in only half of the country but that doesn’t mean he should be ignored. His web site is full of generalities and probably has the least specific ideas of any other candidate discussed in this piece. That may be due to the relative youth of his campaign. Speaking of youth, if elected he would be our youngest elected President at only 40 years of age. Although short on specifics, his platform features a strong military, moving government as close to local as possible, the free market ruling over jobs and health care, strong borders and active participation in world affairs. He is presenting himself as the acceptable alternative to Donald Trump and in fact, Trump’s disastrous campaign seems to be the impetus for McMullin’s entrance into the race – although independent, his mission seems to be to save the GOP from itself.

The Far Right

Are you sick and tired of God being left out of politics? Do you believe the Constitution divinely inspired? Then the Constitution Party has the man for you – Darrell Castle. I only became aware of Castle today as I was researching this piece. Like McMullin, Castle will probably not be on the ballot in every state. That said, in the spirit of choosing the goddam brand of cookie you want, I cannot ignore Mr. Castle. He frequently quotes scripture. He favors exiting the United Nations and abolishing the Federal Reserve. He advocates the citizenry choosing whichever currency they wish to trade in (including bitcoin). He wants to overturn Roe V Wade. He strongly opposes legislating from the bench and feels the Supreme Court has exceeded its constitutional bounds.

Of the four candidates profiled here, McMullin is the least controversial. But I greatly admire the other three for staking out specific and somewhat extreme policy positions. We don’t care about politics anymore because our choices are really small variations on the same theme. Why aren’t we voting for people who truly stand for something?

So I implore you. Take a two by four. Whack yourself in the head. When you have regained consciousness, hopefully you will forget about the Dem’s and Republicans and instead, opt for one of the other choices. We only have a choice folks if we exercise it.

What do you think? The bar is open.

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Words About Words

Two phrases have been bandied about in recent weeks that caught my attention. The first is rather trivial. The second speaks to a deeper problem in American thought processes.

Love Trumps Hate

Someone thought this slogan, seen on placards at the Democratic Convention, was very clever. Trump (Donald’s last name) is used in card game parlance as a card of a suit that has been designated to beat any card of any other suit. As a verb, it has come to mean “beat”. So “love trumps hate” is equivalent to love beats hate. The logical problem here is that the verb “trump” plays a POSITIVE role in the sentence, love trumps hate. We are supposed to associate hate with Donald Trump. But his name is actually used as a positive acting verb. The slogan doesn’t really meet its purpose when you think about it. Two other permutations of the sentence would really have been more to the point: “love hates Trump” and “Trump loves hate”.

White Working Class Voters

Each time I hear this phrase it irks me more and more. It is common terminology among the talking heads of both liberal and conservative media.

The working class cuts across all races and ethnicities. To constantly refer to the white working class is to suggest race trumps class in this society. Why wouldn’t black working class voters like Trump? Why should their race override their economic concerns?

More bothersome is that blacks (and to some extent Hispanics) are portrayed in political talk as a monolith. You almost never hear phrases like “black college graduates” or “black suburban mothers” while whites are sliced and diced to the nth degree.

This is a pox on our society because it reduces blacks to a simple common denominator – their race. Nothing else matters. But I suggest that the black single mother in an urban ghetto has very different concerns from a black divorced mother in Westport, Connecticut collecting alimony every month from her wealthy ex-husband.

Let’s call this what it is – racism, plain and simple. It is propagated across the media regardless of political ideology. As I have stated many times here, our racial problems are grounded in economic problems. The struggling working class black man has much more in common with the struggling working class white man than the black man living in Beverly Hills. You’ll never hear that on TV. Not from Sean Hannity and not from Rachel Maddow. In fact, not from anywhere in popular discussion. And that is why our so-called racial problems are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

What do you think? The bar is open.

Dem Donkey

Democratic Convention 2016

Day 4

Black Cop Lives Matter

The first thing that caught my eye on Day 4 was a sheriff who called for a moment of silence to honor fallen officers. The moment was interrupted by an asshole screaming “black lives matter”. What happened next was a beautiful thing. Two black women in a row spoke to pay tribute to their husbands, policemen killed in the line of duty – and BLACK. A nice retort to the disruptive and misguided BLM contingent. Black lives mattering and police lives mattering is clearly not mutually exclusive.

The Clinton Kid

Just as all of Donald Trump’s adult kids spoke at last week’s GOP convention, on Day 4 of the Dem convention we were treated to the Clinton kid, Chelsea. I come to this with a bit of bias because in my former life in corporate America I became aware of Chelsea’s tenure at McKinsey (a consulting firm) and the scuttlebutt was that she was quite difficult to work with. That said, let’s get back to her address. I had never seen her speak at length before so I was pleased when she started. She had humor. Her delivery was calm and paced. But then I noticed it seemed almost too calm. She almost seemed to be under a spell. She reminded me of animatronic department store dummies, as her head slowly moved back and forth between teleprompters. Then I put my finger on why she seemed so odd. She reminded me of the brainwashed veterans in “The Manchurian Candidate” who were programmed to praise one of their fellow soldiers, a man who was actually a total prick. I couldn’t resist a tweet:

She’s an odd bird. According to Dick Morris, former advisor to Bill, it was Bill who was most involved with her childhood, not Hillary.

Another President Clinton

Hillary’s acceptance speech was met with low expectations because historically the acceptance speech pales in comparison to the ra-ra-sisboomba speeches that come before it in the first three days. That said, OMFG!!! The thing seemed to go on forever! Hillary does not have Obama’s gift of delivery. As the pundits put it, she speaks in prose, not poetry. I hate to admit I literally dosed in the middle of it and woke up in time for the ending. The speech was completely forgettable. I have trouble coming up with a single quote that will stand on its own historically. She tied Trump’s fear mongering to FDR’s “the only thing we have to fear …” quote. That was a nice touch. She reached out to Bernie voters. Not bad. But otherwise, the speech seemed poorly structured. I felt no narrative arc. She repeatedly cleared her throat, just adding to rumors she’s not in the best of shape. In fact, she looked quite tired half way through the address. Protesters, God bless them, tried to disrupt the speech but were drowned out by shouts of “Hill-a-ry” and “USA”.

This was an uninspired speech by an uninspiring candidate. This speech and the entire convention were marred by the cynical view that making history with a woman President is more important than taking into account her checkered past. November will be a coin flip. Donald got lucky to be running against the only American almost as unpopular as he is. There will be no good outcome in November. The President will either be someone who has no business anywhere near the Oval office or someone who brings so much baggage and such questionable judgment that four years of scandal are almost guaranteed.

Day 3

Courage and Kleenex

Every time I see Gabby Giffords I am amazed at her tenacity and courage. Giffords who was shot in the head by a crazed gunman has regained most of her ability to walk and speak. I focus on her grit and ignore her inexplicable support of Hillary Clinton. She was introduced by her husband, a former service member and astronaut. It doesn’t get much more patriotic than that.

It’s been almost 4 years since 20 precious children lost their lives to a lunatic scumbag with a gun-happy mother, who, for God knows what reason, thought it a good idea to take her little monster to the shooting range. Four years later I still cannot see photos of those kids without totally losing it. When Erica Smegielski, the daughter of the murdered Sandy Hook Elementary principal spoke, I fast forwarded through it. I just can’t take it. What Democrats refuse to say and Republicans already know is that the only solution to our gun problem is confiscation. That is never going to happen.

Uncle Joe

Whenever you mention Joe Biden to a conservative you are reminded of his plagiarism scandal that short-circuited his presidential campaign almost 30 years ago. That’s about the best they can do in condemning Uncle Joe. Believe it or don’t believe it, Biden comes across as the guy who lives next door to you. He is warm. He is corny as hell. He is inappropriate (remember Barack being “well spoken”). On Day 3, Joe told the audience to shut up and listen. Then he gave the most simple condemnation of Donald Trump imaginable. Do we really want a leader whose signature catch-phrase is “you’re fired”? Biden ended his speech with what should be the Democratic campaign slogan from now until November: “Come on! We’re America!”

Persuasion from an Independent

Former New York Mayor, former Republican and always billionaire, Mike Bloomberg made a plea to independents and Republicans to reject Trump. What made his speech persuasive was his status as a businessman in Trump’s league (if not richer) who could bust the myth that Donald was somehow self-made and successful by normal business ethical standards. Not the most dynamic speaker, Mike still may have given the fence-sitters some second thoughts about the Donald.

The VEEP

It seems nearly impossible to dislike Tim Kaine as a person. He seems friendly, kind and service-oriented. He does nothing to make Hillary look more progressive. He’s vanilla ice cream which is exactly what Hillary wants since she’s doing enough damage control already. His speech was 50% ripped off from his Miami speech last Saturday when he was first introduced. The last half was devoted to dissing Trump but clearly dissing is not Tim’s strength. He’s just a nice guy. Oh, and he speaks fluent Spanish.

POTUS

Barack Obama is a living breathing Rorschach test. Some see him as an arrogant, narcissistic, not terribly bright, petty bastard propped up by racially obsessed liberals. Others see him as an intelligent, articulate, kind, deliberative leader who has seen the country through tough times. There is no convincing either side of the others perception. I fall somewhere in the middle. Bottom line, if you reside in the first group, there was NOTHING Obama could say last night that would impress. Those that hate the man can barely watch him. If you fall in the latter group, Obama hit the ball out of the park with his Day 3 speech. Without mentioning his name, Obama called out Trump as a “demagogue” to be rejected in the same breath with Communists and Jihadists. He explicitly named Trump as a man devoid of plans or facts. He suggested that Americans will reject Trump because they don’t want a dictator. This made me chuckle since I know most of my readers consider Obama a dictator. Obama further asserted that Trump had hijacked the Republican party – that the GOP convention last week was neither Republican nor conservative.

His attack on Trump was far more effective than his over-the-top endorsement of Hillary. For the most part, while speaking in grand terms, Obama gave a boiler-plate recommendation that we’ve heard time and time again. She has always advocated for children. She worked hard for First Responders in the wake of 9/11 as New York Senator. She helped make the call to take out Bin Laden when she was Secretary of State. We’ve heard it all before. When he referred to her good judgment, I threw up in my mouth a little. Then came the whopper – Hillary Clinton is more qualified to be President than any other candidate in history including Barack and Bill. Well she may be more qualified than Barack and Bill – but Thomas Jefferson? My only response to Barack would be a variation of Biden’s rallying cry, “Come on! We’re America! We are not stupid!”

Day 2

A Moving Moment During Roll Call

Convention roll calls are priceless for their corniness. Each state bragging about itself before announcing the votes they cast for the various candidates. One unlikely delegation brought tears to my eyes. Democrats Abroad had its votes announced by Larry Sanders, Bernie’s brother who resides in the UK. Larry paid tribute to Bernie by reminding him how proud their parents, who died young, would be of him. It was hard to watch the two brothers well up and not get a bit weepy yourself.

The Mixed Message Mothers

Several mothers of black “victims” of shootings appeared on stage together. Apparently Hillary has met with these women and won their support. The problem is that one shooting is not the same as another and this set of mothers presents a very mixed message. Sandra Black mysteriously died in a jail cell, a supposed suicide, but the facts didn’t add up and the incarceration was triggered by a stupid traffic stop gone wrong. Her mother was the first to speak. Then a mother of a boy shot for playing his music too loud was the next to speak. From memory, I don’t recall this being a police-related incident. Then, heaven help us, the mother of Trayvon Martin spoke last. Trayvon is the gangsta-wannabe that pushed the black lives matter movement into high gear. Again, this was not a police related shooting. Worse, the photo of Trayvon shown on stage was the same misleading photo of a 13ish year old boy that we saw when the story broke — not the 17 year old thug who mishandled an encounter with crazy George Zimmerman. The mother of Michael Brown, the classic misrepresentation of a victim of police violence, was also on the stage but did not speak. Perhaps they knew she had best keep her mouth shut since her son never met the standard of “hands up, don’t shoot”. You could see the white-guilt oozing from the liberal audience. A sad affair overall.

The Big Dog, Bubba, Slick Willie

Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, was the main speaker of the night. He spent the first half of his speech trying to humanize his wife Hillary. His choice – to describe how he courted her. Problem is that his courtship sounded more like creepy staring and stalking. He even made a reference to not knowing where starting with Hillary would lead. Impulse control issues? You might as well have had a flashing MONICA LEWINSKY sign behind him during the first half of his address. The second half of the address portrayed Hillary as a tireless defender of the downtrodden. This was very effective if you can overlook the fact she is also a pathological liar.

Clinton, the wannabe First Gentleman, was caught in a bit of a catch-22. Humanizing Hillary can’t be done because it is the very human side of her and her relationship with Bill that stinks to the core. However, the professional side of Hillary doesn’t smell much better. The only marginally redeeming conclusion from Bill’s pitch is that maybe life is complicated for everybody and the Clintons are truly clueless to how bad their complications look in public. I might also add that Bill’s delivery was lackluster. I personally don’t believe he wants his wife to be President and I’m damn sure he doesn’t want her presidency to outshine his own.

Closing the Deal with Shattering Glass

Bill was followed by Alicia Keys, singing and Meryl Streep, of all people, emoting. Then on the video display in quick succession we saw pictures of the 43 MEN who have served as President and then a shattering of glass to reveal Hillary Clinton, live from New York state surrounded by girls of all ages. Say what you like about the racial component of Barack’s election eight years ago but it was never as flagrant in that year’s convention as the gender component this year. On the one hand, I get the historic moment. On the other hand, we are one of the last civilized countries to do this so maybe we oughta be a bit more quiet about our neanderthal past? Great Britain is on its second woman PM while we get all misty eyed over our first in 230 years.

Day 1

The 2020 Audition

Just as in 2004 Barack Obama delivered the speech that would catapult him to the 2008 nomination, so did Cory Booker last night. The soaring rhetoric was, in my opinion, unmatched by anyone else that night despite what the pundits will tell you. I predict he will be the Democratic nominee in 2020 against President Donald Trump.

Two Overrated Performances and an Off-key Legend

Maybe my disgust at the entire affair tainted my judgment. Perhaps I am so drained of energy that I can’t recognize it in anyone else anymore. That said, I simply wasn’t blown away by either the First Lady, Michelle Obama nor the Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren. Both seemed low energy to me. Yes, Michelle painted a poignant picture of what it is like to raise two young girls in the White House. Yes, she did tie that to whom she would trust her girl’s safety to – Hillary. But the notion Clinton can be trusted with anything is so absurd as to make the punchline of any pro-Hillary speech utterly ridiculous. I’ve seen Warren do her anti-Trump speech and she has had ten times more energy in previous performances. I don’t think her heart was in it. As for Paul Simon – good God that was almost as bad as 2012 Clint Eastwood. He could barely stay in tune for his iconic song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. It is also odd he did not sing “America”, the song beautifully used in the best campaign ad of the season by Bernie Sanders.

The Man Who Should be King

The speech of the night was of course given by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who gave Hillary a run for her money. This capped off the only truly progressive campaign of the season. His ultimate defeat proved that Democrats are more interested in identity politics and establishment politics rather than actually changing the status quo. Bernie did what he had to do. Unlike Ted Cruz, he swallowed his pride, accepted Hillary’s boot up his ass, and wholeheartedly endorsed her. At least he did not do so without bragging about his phenomenal campaign. It was a sad day for any Democrat who really wanted change in America.

And the Total Asshole Award Goes to …

Sarah Silverman, a comedienne who prides herself on “look at me, I’m so vulgar” comedy, a former Bernie supporter, decides to lecture Bernie’s devoted followers telling them they are “being ridiculous”. Sarah needs to stick to comedy. She doesn’t understand the whole point of a political movement. She does not understand you can’t just swap one D in for another and get the same result. She doesn’t seem to care, as a Jew, that her fellow Jew was being attacked for his religious views by the political machine she now supports. Sarah is the ridiculous one. She can seriously go screw herself.

More Email Problems

Before the convention even began, emails emerged to bite Hillary Clinton in the ass again. This time the email dump came from Wikileaks and the source was Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. Understand, the DNC is supposed to be a neutral facilitator of the Democratic primary process. The emails confirmed what so many Bernie Sanders supporters already suspected. The DNC, with the knowledge of its leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to tip the scales toward Hillary Clinton. In one of the more despicable examples, there was a notion to discredit Jew Sanders as an atheist. So the party so vocally rejecting anti-Muslim rhetoric was, behind the scenes, using religion to sway the electorate. By the time the opening gavel came pounding down, Debbie Wasserman Schultz had tendered her resignation (effective Friday) and bowed out of any formal role in the convention. As far as I’m concerned this was the last straw. This scandal rendered whatever happens next this week utterly hypocritical. The party that I thought always had the moral high ground has forfeited that status. I am no longer a Democrat.

The bar is open. What do you think?