Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Voted for the Greater Good

Our long and arduous Presidential campaign has finally drawn to a close. This campaign has left me less engaged and less enthusiastic than any other previous campaign. I have been a faithful Democrat for the last 40 years, but the initial field of candidates left me wanting more. Then Senator Sanders entered the race, and it seemed, at least for a time, that finally progressives within the party had not only a voice, but a champion. Senator Sanders did better than I would have ever imagined. I would have been content to accept the party's choice for the nominee, were it not for the incontrovertible proof of the party's collusion with the Clinton campaign to fix the nominating process to insure her nomination.

A year long nominating process left the traditional parties with the two most unpopular candidates ever. Many will reluctantly vote for a candidate they view as slightly less flawed than the other. This is an unacceptable choice. Our constitution was not designed to accommodate political parties, and most especially, not a deeply divided two-party monopoly. The electoral college was designed to prevent the type of situation we find ourselves in today. According to the constitution (Article 2, section 1, and Amendment 12) voters are to choose a slate of electors, who then vote for the President and Vice-President. Our entire campaign process subverts this, giving voters the illusion they are voting to elect a President/Vice-President, when in reality, we are not.

I live in South Carolina, a state so deep red neither major party candidate bothered to even stop here, after the primaries. The major party candidates pushed the myth "every vote counts" when, in fact, it does not. Our votes are technically for nameless, faceless, electors who can, at least in theory, vote for whomever they please. Voting for someone other than one of two major candidates is "throwing ones vote away," so they say. Just for the sake of argument, let's say of 3,500,000 votes cast in SC, the final tally (upheld by recount) is 1,749,999 for Clinton and 1,750,001 for Trump. Let's also say, just for fun, Clinton wins the election. How many of the votes cast in South Carolina would have helped elect President Clinton? The answer, of course, is none. Even though Clinton wins the Presidency, the votes for her in South Carolina, are in effect, thrown away. So the tortured choice of 49.9999% of voters, "choosing the lesser evil", was for naught.

I chose to vote today, because voting is making a statement. I chose not to base my vote based on fear of what one candidate may do, or discomfort with the personality of another. I chose to make my statement one of purposefully choosing the greater good, based on the issues.

Today I voted for the kind of future I want for all Americans. I voted for a future where our dependence on fossil fuels will be greatly decreased, a future with an increased reliance on sustainable, renewable energy. I voted for a future where our healthcare is not rationed to those with the  most resources, a future where universal, single payer healthcare is the norm. I voted for a future where economic slavery becomes a thing of the past, a future where the vast wealth of this nation is more equitably shared. I voted for a future where higher education, the door to opportunity, is open to all people with them having to be bound by the shackles of crushing debt. I voted for a future where diversity is celebrated, basic human rights are affirmed, immigrants and refugees are welcomed, and liberty and justice are extended to all. That is the future I want for my grandchildren. I did the only thing I could to make it happen. I voted.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Surveying the Clown Car - 2016 GOP Candidates (Part 3 of 3)

Here's my take on the GOP field, 14 months ahead of the election

This is the final installment, and I've saved some of the most interesting candidates (and those with the best chances) for last.

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"Huckabee Plain" by Huckabee for President - mikehuckabee.com. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Mike Huckabee is included on this page, not because he has any real chance of winning, but he has had strong enough poll numbers to let him sit at the "big kids" table for the debates thus far. Huckabee majored in Religion (earning his degree magna cum laude from Ouachita Baptist University in 2 1/2 years) before dropping out of Southwestern Baptist Seminary after one year. He was a staffer for evangelist James Robinson, and served a pastor to a couple of churches before entering politics. Huckabee served as Lieutenant Governor and then Governor of Arkansas. He had a fairly successful presidential campaign in 2008, and has been affiliated with FOX News until his recent departure for his current campaign. His recent comments and actions regarding Rowan County Kentucky Clerk of Court Kim Davis have shown that he lacks even a basic understanding of the constitution and seems to favor the Christian fundamentalist version of sharia law to our long established constitutional governance. Despite his spotlight chasing, I don't foresee him winning a primary or staying the race very long.

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"Kasich 2016" by Kasich for America - https://www.facebook.com/JohnKasich/photos/a.438846925932.241122.77590795932/10152883672425933/?type=1&theater. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

John Kasich, the current governor of Ohio, would, in any normal election cycle, probably be considered too conservative to be viable in the general election. Unfortunately, this year, he seems an almost reasonable choice. His staunch opposition to anything resembling women controlling their reproductive rights places him well outside mainstream America. He's still far enough down in the polls to pretty much ensure his campaign will lack enough traction to get any distance down the long trail toward the nomination.

Pataki for President Campaign Logo.png
"Pataki for President Campaign Logo" by Pataki for President - http://www.georgepataki.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Former New York Governor George Pataki brings the credentials to the race that should give him the best chance in the general election. Unfortunately, with the level of crazy being cultivated by GOP activists, he stands almost no chance at all of being the party nominee in the general election. Sadly, he bests only Lindsey Graham in the most recent polling of candidates remaining in the race. He may join Rick Perry on the sidelines before much longer.

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"Marco Rubio 2016 Campaign logo" by Marco Rubio for President - marcorubio.com. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Marco Rubio was touted as a rising star of Republican Party after the Tea Party darling bested Governor Charlie Crist in the US Senate primary. Winning election to the Senate was Rubio's last significant accomplishment. He's tried to make a name for himself as a Latino leader in the Tea Party, but has been forced to wrestle Ted Cruz for that title. With both Cruz and former governor Jeb Bush in the race, Rubio has been unable to garner sufficient support from the party base. Rubio may stay in the race a while, but to no avail.

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"Walker 2k16" by Scott Walker, Inc. - https://www.facebook.com/scottkwalker?_rdr=p. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Scott Walker is another Libertarian/Tea Party darling who, if the media narrative is to be believed, is the hand picked candidate of Charles and David Koch. While the Koch brothers have been funding and promoting Walker, Walker is actually a smoke-screen candidate. The Kochs know their open endorsement would be seen as a negative by the general electorate, which is why they've given it Walker and not the candidate they actually want to elect. The Kochs are shrewdly putting on a show to benefit the one candidate who ticks all the boxes for them (and to whom they may have already provided substantial funding). Walker will remain in the race as long as he is able to serve as the Kochs foil.

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"JEB! 2016 Campaign Logo" by Jeb 2016, Inc. - jeb2016.com. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

The conventional expectation leading into this election cycle held this would be another Clinton vs. Bush contest. Jeb Bush has laid the foundation to make the match-up a reality, and despite a veritable mudslide of investigations from the GOP controlled Congress, Hillary Clinton still looks to be the eventual Democratic nominee. The Koch brothers are helping Bush behind the scenes by providing him with Walker as a foil. Whether or not they have contributed to Jeb's Right to Rise super PAC is anyone's guess, but my assessment would be 'Duh!'. Jeb's positions on the issues are nearly perfectly aligned with the Koch brothers interests. As much as I hate to say it, despite current polling, Jeb Bush is best positioned to be the eventual GOP nominee.

There you have it, my assessment of the 2016 GOP primary race. Now to sit back for a while and see how well my amateur assessment does.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Surveying the Clown Car - 2016 GOP Candidates (Part 2 of 3)

Here's my take on the GOP field, 14 months ahead of the election.

This batch of candidates are the ones I have trouble figuring out why they are even bothering to run.

Gilmore 2016.png
"Gilmore 2016" by Gilmore for America - http://www.gilmoreforamerica.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Jim Gilmore,  a former governor of Virginia (1998-2002), was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 2008. Withdrawing months before the voting began due to a lack of contributions to fund a credible campaign in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, his prospects for improved performance this election cycle are dim.

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"Graham 2k16" by Lindsey Graham 2016 - http://www.lindseygraham.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

I'm not sure what Lindsey Graham is supposed to be bringing to the race. It's not like he's enjoyed wide ranging support from South Carolina Republicans. He's faced opposition from within his own party in his two reelection bids to the Senate thus far. True, he's won handily both times, but he frequently riles his home state base who seem content to keep him in the Senate where he can't really mess anything up. Lindsey may stay in the race until the February 20 SC primary, but he'll leave the race that evening after an embarrassing rebuke from his home state.

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"Jindal 2016 (Vertical)" by Jindal for President - http://www.bobbyjindal.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Bobby Jindal is another candidate seeking to promote the illusion of a GOP which appeals to minorities -- other than 'angry old white people'. Jindal offers nothing fresh or new with the campaign, other than the novelty of an Indian-American, apparently preferring to parrot the same party platform which voters have rejected for the last two elections. Other than winning reelection, Governor Jindal has accomplished little of note to place him on this stage. Expect another early exit here.

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"Santorum 2k16 text" by Santorum for President - http://www.ricksantorum.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Rick Santorum is trying to recapture a little of the glory of his 2012 campaign, where he managed to win 11 primaries and caucuses, corralling about 4 million votes in the process. Santorum, however, has not been elected to an office since his reelection to the Senate in 2000, and his recycled 2012 campaign message sounds even more outdated. He has nothing new to offer and should be sitting on the sidelines before February ends.

Rand Paul Presidential Campaign logo.svg
"Rand Paul Presidential Campaign logo" by Rand Paul Website (http://www.randpaul.com/) Vector Source. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Rand Paul is running this year in lieu of his father, perennial Libertarian/Republican candidate Ron Paul. Thus far, Rand has only proven he is not his father. He may have had a chance of picking up his dad's cult-like following in a less crowded field, but given the number of clowns vying for attention this year, there's just nothing in his act to warrant the spotlight. He'll be out of the ring by the time the real show begins.

That's all for batch two. Stay tuned for the final installment and my assessment of the rest of field.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Surveying the Clown Car - 2016 GOP Candidates (Part 1 of 3)

Here's my take on the GOP field, 14 months ahead of the election.

Trump 2016.png
"Trump 2016" by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. - https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrump. Lic. under Public Domain via Commons.

Donald Trump has been driving the car for the last couple of months, and shows no sign of being ready to relinquish the wheel. And why should he? He knows the way to CrazyTown, he's got the Pied Piper's greatest hits blaring from the speakers, and the entranced crowds are following along. Even so, I highly doubt he will be the eventual nominee, even though he has signed a pledge to support the party nominee. Trump may be flamboyant and bombastic, but he is certainly not presidential. Look for his campaign to be his fifth "bankruptcy."

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"Carson for President 2016" by Carson America, Inc. - https://www.bencarson.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Ben Carson has moved up in polls recently, but hearing him speak, I'm left thinking he is certainly no brain surgeon. But he is. Maybe brain surgery isn't that hard after all. Seriously though, Ben Carson is running so the GOP can point to him as proof their opposition to President Obama wasn't motivated primarily by racism. His campaign will be as successful as the claim is believable. He won't make it very far at all.

Carly Fiorina for President Logo.png
"Carly Fiorina for President Logo" by Carly for President - https://carlyforpresident.com/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Carly Fiorina wants to show that a woman candidate can be a force in the GOP. She's their nod to Hillary Clinton, their attempt to show themselves as pro-woman. After helping Hewlett-Packard shed tens of thousands of jobs and nearly running the company into the ground, she wants to do the same for the country. We'll pass, just like California passed on sending her to the senate.

Rick Perry is out to prove that Ted Cruz is not the biggest embarrassment to come out of Texas this election cycle. I rate the "biggest embarrassment" contest a toss-up. Mostly because I'm not at all certain it is possible to embarrass Texas. At least the former governor will be able to console himself with how well his campaign went -- in 2012.

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"Cruz 2k16 text" by Cruz for President - https://www.tedcruz.org/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Ted Cruz hasn't been able to gain any traction. I expect him to drop-out fairly early, maybe even before Iowa. Poor Ted may end up having to give up his senate seat, before all is said and done. Cruz made a lot of noise questioning whether President Obama was born in the United States or not. Ted Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. His claim to citizenship has been his American mother. It has recently been disclosed, however, that Cruz's mother may have been a Canadian citizen when the senator was born. She may have relinquished her U.S. citizenship by becoming a Canadian citizen, and if so, the senator has no claim to U.S. citizenship. This could prove to be an interesting side-show, gaining the traction his presidential campaign has failed to get.

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"Christie 2k16" by Chris Christie for President, Inc. - https://www.chrischristie.com/. Lic. under Public Domain via Commons.

Chris Christie was supposed to be a major player in this election. Thanks to the Fort Lee bridge closure scandal, he's been pictured as petty and vindictive. Add to that his generally rude and surly handling of the press and any citizen with the temerity to ask a question he doesn't like, and you have all the negatives you need to keep him out of the White House. Sadly, he can't even lay claim to the rudest candidate in the field, thanks to Donald Trump. I don't see Christie making it past New Hampshire, if he stays in the hunt that long.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

You've Just Been Ducked

Congrats to A&E on an extremely successful guerrilla marketing campaign. They managed to direct attention to the 'Duck Dynasty' brand by "suspending" the star to create a social media firestorm, then cleverly lifted the suspension without him being absent from even a single episode. 

The Robertson statement which drew the most attention was easily recognized by those on the 'evangelical' right as a crude "mash-up" of the words of Paul from Corinthians and Galatians, which was part of the reason behind the 'outrage.' 

I wouldn't be surprised to learn Robertson was coached before the interview by A&E social media experts on what to say and how the 'suspension' would play out. This has been a huge boost for them, and it just happened to come during the last week of the holiday shopping season. I wonder how much sales of their branded merchandise increased as a result. 

These hucksters are laughing all the way to the bank.

Phil Robertson Back On 'Duck Dynasty': A&E Brings Back Reality Star After Short Suspension

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's been nearly a year

My last update was posted February 3, 2013. One month to the day after Patty died. I have struggled with even the simplest things. I'm trying to pick this blog back up, to get back into the habit of writing. The next several posts will likely be as much therapy for me as anything else. The first anniversary of my upside down life is approaching and I'm struggling to be in the present. Because of the way my mind works, I can't NOT remember what happened last year. I don't want this Christmas season to be overshadowed by last year. I'm hoping that writing will help me find some light in the midst of the shadows.