Thursday, December 01, 2016

Where do the Dems go from here?


As a party, the Democrats have pretty much blown any political currency they've enjoyed over the last eight years by running a candidate filled with hubris and entitlement as the follow-up to a remarkable presidency by Barack Obama.

As a Democrat (technically not a "life-long Democrat", because when I was 18 my dad suggested I register as a Republican, and even though I've always voted for the Democratic candidate in every election (except in 2000, when I was pissed that Joe fucking Lieberman was running for V.P. and Senate at the same time as a sort of hedge bet against being a loser, so I voted for the Republican guy who was later convicted of child raping, because I didn't know you could simply NOT vote for a particular office, so yeah, I can't be a life-long Democrat)) I'm frustrated and annoyed at my party. How they simply chose for Clinton to be the candidate, and how they did every single thing they could to undermine the concept of a fair election in which Bernie Sanders would have likely won.

I'm embarrassed by my party. I'm disappointed by it. And I'm angry with it.

We need to seriously look at how things are going to go from here.

We need to ensure the primaries are run fairly. We need to eliminate any collusion between the party and any one candidate.

And we need to finally dump the fucking "super delegate" rule, and give the selection process back to the voters.

Because really, the system we have now is not going to win us any elections any time soon.

We may have already blown it for good. Trump has opened the door for a rise of nationalism that has the potential to echo (at the risk of going full-Godwin) the winds of fascism that Germany experienced in the 1930s.

I don't recall during any president's acceptance speech on election night hearing someone in the crowd yell "Kill (the current president)". And it was even more chilling by the complete lack of anyone in the crowd responding negatively to it.

We're on the verge of becoming something quite different from what America is supposed to be. And nearly all of the blame for this lies within our own party.

"We have met the enemy, and they is us."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

All I want for Thanksgiving is a recount

Holy shit!

The biggest news of the last 24 hours is possible voting irregularities in some key swing states.

And 3rd-party candidate Jill Stein has raised over $2,000,000 online to pay for recounts in PA, WI, and MI.

This is looking to be a very interesting couple of weeks coming up. The Electoral College (you know, those 538 people who REALLY elect our president) votes on December 19th. And there is growing concern that a significant number of Trump electors may jump ship and vote for Hillary.

Especially if the recounts actually happen, and we get results that don't agree with the current tally of electors.

I'm having a flashback to the disastrous 2000 election, when Gore v. Bush ended up with a vicious and contentious recount of stupid Florida, which eventually was decided when a judge ruled that the recount must be stopped and the results accepted.

The lawyer representing Bush's case later became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Under Bush's reign.

This may not happen here, but enough people are concerned once again about the outcome of a vote that SHOULD be a fairly simple matter.

We need identically formatted paper ballots in all 50 states. Elections that include Federal office should be regulated by the Federal government. At least where ballots and ballot layout are concerned.

That way, we'll have an easier time of recounting votes if there's an issue.

Meanwhile, we'll see if there's a reasonable way to verify votes that were made on electronic voting machines. If the recounts actually happen, that is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Godwinning the presidency

From Wikipedia:

Godwin's law (or Godwin's rule of Hitler analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1" —​​that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler.

Generally this is true.

Occasionally, I'll Godwin someone just to get out of a debate, especially at parties.

But in this case, it seems that the POTUS-elect is Godwinning himself!

By aligning himself with the unrealistically-named "Alt-Right", Trump is basically goose-stepping his way alongside what will be known to history as the New Nazi Party.



Let's face facts. By legitimizing hate-speech, Donald Trump has condoned and encouraged the rise of fanaticism in our nation, and things will only get worse from here.

To cheer myself up, I've been reading quotes from Richard Nixon during his presidency. THERE was a guy who could really sew his hatred into a very few words.

Somehow, I expect the tapes from Trump's Oval Office will be a thousand times more chilling.

But Trump will probably be smart enough to burn the tapes. It's gonna take another NSA whistleblower to reveal what goes on in that office.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Buyer's remorse?

It's been about 10 days since the election, and the nation has had a reasonable amount of time to catch it's collective breathe. We're now witnessing the transition to a Trump administration.

And it's troubling to a lot of people.

I've spoken to a number of friends and acquaintances since the election who are ardent Republicans. These are people who were vocal in their support of Trump during the campaign. They really enjoyed being on the Trump bandwagon and giving Hillary a lot of jabs along the way.

Then, the impossible happened.

Donald Trump fucking WON!

To a person, they all seem to have some reservations about where our nation is going from here. When I brought up the subject of the election to them, I fully expected to receive a steaming pile of schadenfreude from them!

And I would have been OK with that. They won, we lost, go ahead and relish your victory.

But all of them seemed to have not considered any of the ramifications of a Trump presidency until AFTER they voted for him!

In the cold light of day following the election, it seems many of them have finally noticed the awfulness that Trump represents, and now we're stuck with him. None of them were enthusiastic about what may happen in the near future, except that they're all hoping for the best.

One fellow even said "Hey, I'm just hoping he doesn't turn out to be terrible!"

Yeah, I kind of share that sentiment.

Monday, November 14, 2016

This is the best post-mortem so far


Frank Bruni from the New York Times wrote what I've found to be the most interesting post-election explanation of why this happened.

He starts out admitting media is somewhat to blame, and then proceeds to tell us why it's all our fault.

And hey, the guy makes some good points!

We geniuses in the news media spent only the last month telling you how Donald Trump was losing this election. We spent the last year telling you how the Republican Party was unraveling.

And here we are, with the Democrats in tatters. You might want to think twice about our Oscar and Super Bowl predictions.

Despite all the discussion of demographic forces that doomed the G.O.P., it will soon control the presidency as well as both chambers of Congress and two of every three governor’s offices. And that’s not just a function of James Comey, Julian Assange and misogyny. Democrats who believe so are dangerously mistaken.

Other factors conspired in the party’s debacle. One in particular haunts me. From the presidential race on down, Democrats adopted a strategy of inclusiveness that excluded a hefty share of Americans and consigned many to a “basket of deplorables” who aren’t all deplorable. Some are hurt. Some are confused.

Liberals miss this by being illiberal. They shame not just the racists and sexists who deserve it but all who disagree. A 64-year-old Southern woman not onboard with marriage equality finds herself characterized as a hateful boob. Never mind that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton weren’t themselves onboard just five short years ago.

Political correctness has morphed into a moral purity that may feel exhilarating but isn’t remotely tactical. It’s a handmaiden to smugness and sanctimony, undermining its own goals.

I worry about my and my colleagues’ culpability along these lines. I plan to use greater care in how I talk to and about Americans more culturally conservative than I am. That’s not a surrender of principle or passion. It’s a grown-up acknowledgment that we’re a messy, imperfect species.

Donald Trump’s victory and some of the, yes, deplorable chants that accompanied it do not mean that a majority of Americans are irredeemable bigots (though too many indeed are). Plenty of Trump voters chose him, reluctantly, to be an agent of disruption, which they craved keenly enough to overlook the rest of him.

Democrats need to understand that, and they need to move past a complacency for which the Clintons bear considerable blame.

It’s hard to overestimate the couple’s stranglehold on the party — its think tanks, its operatives, its donors — for the last two decades. Most top Democrats had vested interests in the Clintons, and energy that went into supporting and defending them didn’t go into fresh ideas and fresh faces, who were shut out as the party cleared the decks anew for Hillary in 2016.

In thrall to the Clintons, Democrats ignored the copious, glaring signs of an electorate hankering for something new and different and instead took a next-in-line approach that stopped working awhile back. Just ask Mitt Romney and John McCain and John Kerry and Al Gore and Bob Dole. They’re the five major-party nominees before her who lost, and each was someone who, like her, was more due than dazzling.

After Election Day, one Clinton-weary Democratic insider told me: “I’m obviously not happy and I hate to admit this, but a part of me feels liberated. If she’d won, we’d already be talking about Chelsea’s first campaign. Now we can do what we really need to and start over.”

Obama, too, contributed to the party’s marginalization. While he threw himself into Hillary Clinton’s campaign, he was, for much of his presidency, politically selfish, devoting less thought and time to the cultivation of the party than he could — and should — have. By design, his brand was not its. Small wonder, then, that its fate diverged from his.

He anointed Clinton over Joe Biden, though Biden had more charisma and a better connection with the white voters who ultimately supported Trump. Had Biden been the nominee, he probably would have won the Electoral College as well as the popular vote (which Clinton indeed got).

And had Bernie Sanders been? Michael Bloomberg would almost certainly have jumped into the fray, sensing unoccupied territory in the political center, and an infinitely saner and more capable billionaire might well be our president-elect.

Democrats bungled a terrific opportunity to retake the Senate majority by ignoring the national mood as they picked their candidates. A party that prides itself on looking out for the little guy went with the biggest names it could find.

That happened in Wisconsin with Russ Feingold, in Indiana with Evan Bayh and in Ohio with Ted Strickland, all of whom were defeated by Republicans who couldn’t be tarred as insiders or as emblems of the status quo because the Democrats had just as much mileage on them.

Senator Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican, campaigned as the outsider and the underdog, and he ended up beating Strickland, the state’s former governor, by more than 20 points. Like Feingold and Bayh, Strickland could hardly claim the mantle of revolution.

In contrast, Democrats had success in a House district in Central Florida that didn’t initially appear to be promising turf by running Stephanie Murphy, a 37-year-old first-timer, against John Mica, 73, who had been in Congress for nearly a quarter-century. “Change” was Murphy’s mantra, and, like Trump, she used it to turn inexperience into an asset.

A party that keeps the White House for eight years customarily suffers losses elsewhere, as if the electorate insists on some kind of equilibrium. That happened under Bill Clinton and again under George W. Bush — but not to the extent that it has happened under Obama.

His presidency will end with Democrats in possession of 11 fewer Senate seats (depending on how you count), more than 60 fewer House seats, at least 14 fewer governorships and more than 900 fewer seats in state legislatures than when it began. That’s a staggering toll.

While the 2016 race for governor in North Carolina remains undecided, the settled contests guarantee the G.O.P. the governor’s office in 33 states: its most bountiful harvest since 1922.

If Democrats don’t quickly figure out how to sturdy themselves — a process larger than the selection of the right new party chairman — they could wind up in even worse shape. They’re defending more than twice the number of Senate seats in 2018 that Republicans are, a situation that gives the G.O.P. a shot at a filibuster-proof majority.

Meantime, the perpetuation of Republican dominance at the state level through 2020 would grant the G.O.P. the upper hand in redrawing congressional districts after the next census.

But new presidents typically get an electoral whupping after their first two years, and there’s every reason to believe that Trump will govern — or fail to — in a fashion that prompts one. Will Democrats respond in a way that puts them in the best possible position to deliver it?

That hinges on whether they can look as hard at the errors in their party as at the ugliness in America.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Future shock

If I visited myself four years ago from the future, and said that Donald Trump would win in 2016, I doubt I'd react any differently than Doc Brown.

The Future repeats itself too, apparently!



Present me: Then tell me, who wins in 2016?

Future me: Donald Trump!

PM: Donald Trump? The reality show star? Ha!

FM: Yeah!

PM: Then who's vice president? Chris Christie? I suppose Marla Maples is first lady! And Newt Gingrich is Secretary of State!

FM: Wait! Oh, you're almost right! Different wife, but you're close.

PM: I've had enough practical jokes for one evening...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Leonard

This has been a bit of a rough week.

First, our great nation has chosen a leader that reflects everything terrible and vulgar we Americans claim to not be.

Fine, I'm not happy about that. We'll somehow manage to get through this.

But today, I was crushed by the news that Leonard Cohen passed.

How much, O Lord, are we expected to endure?

I haven't cried like this since my dad died.

I think I'll wait a year before listening to this song again. It's tearing my soul to bits. But for tonight, it just seems respectful to play this.

Because, I'm so grateful that I had his words and music in my life.


Well that was something, eh?

Back in Connecticut. It's Thursday morning.

I was exhausted all day yesterday because I stayed up until about 3:30am to watch Trump's victory speech. Joyce was much more pragmatic about it and fell asleep around 11pm, although I woke her to let her know Hillary conceded the election. She acknowledged the news and immediately went back to sleep. She was fine yesterday and I was dragging my ass all around The Mall.

So, Donald Trump pulled off an extraordinary victory. Dewey indeed defeated Truman. Rocky won the fight against a much bigger and better funded opponent. David slew Goliath. Any way you look at it, we saw a spectacular win this week.

What awaits us is another matter. I expect things will be quite different in the coming four years. I don't have the energy or inclination to speculate about it right now though. But I can't quite see it as likely to improve.

Elections have consequences. I fear that we're about to live through four years of hellish consequences.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Monday, November 07, 2016

In the center of the cyclone

Today we arrived in DC. Flew JetBlue from Hartford to Reagan National for $49 (yes, it's a great deal) and got into our AirBnb rental about 3 blocks from the White House.

So now we're here and ready for the craziness that will soon engulf this normally quiet little town. Today, we'll just do a little sightseeing and wander around The Mall.

Our Election Day plans are fairly loose at this point. We tentatively plan to have a nice dinner, maybe nearby at the Old Ebbitt Grill across the street from the Treasury Department and a stone's throw from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Then, early evening, we'll likely stop by Shelly's Backroom, DC's premiere cigar bar for a smoke and dessert.

By 8pm when the polls close in the East, we'll find a local place where we can watch the election night coverage on TV, maybe in the lobby lounge of the W Hotel, also nearby. The rooftop bar is a high energy spot that will likely be rented out for a private party, so we won't have the view we had on our last visit of Marine One landing on the South Lawn of the White House after the President and First Lady attended the ballet at the Kennedy Center.

We did manage to cage a pair of free tickets for the election night party at The Park at 14th nightclub near Franklin Sq., but if they have a DJ blasting house music over the talking heads on the big screens, we'll more than likely find a quieter place to catch the returns.

Around 11pm we'll probably head over to the pedestrian plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to be there when (hopefully) they announce the first woman president has won the election...Jill Stein!

J/K, she doesn't have a snowflake's chance on Venus of winning this thing, but the other gal on the ballot might actually be able to pull this one off!

Who knows? Either way, we'll be at ground zero for the final chapter of this crazy saga that we've all followed for the last 2 years. Maybe then we can finally relax.

And then the next day we'll start complaining about Hillary not being liberal enough!