Sunday, February 28, 2016

South of the Border

Remember these billboards?

Anyone who has driven the 1,100 miles from frigid New England to sunny Florida on I-95 in the last 50 years has probably seen these ubiquitous and decidedly culturally-insensitive signs as they drew closer to the North Carolina/South Carolina border, where the famous tourist trap is located.

"South of the Border" was (and probably still is, though I haven't taken that trip in over 25 years) a famous landmark on the tedious drive through that scrubby and sparsely populated region. When we used to take family vacations in my dad's awesome black Lincoln Continental (with the reverse-opening "suicide doors" that you can see in "The Matrix") dragging our huge Dutchcraft trailer for a couple sunny weeks in Florida, we'd notice these signs starting hundreds of miles north.

As we got closer, the billboards increased in density. Most of them having some play on words, often with the stereotypical character "Pedro" giving advice or making observations. We didn't know from political correctness at the time, the phrase not having even been invented yet. We simply anticipated the next billboard and read them out loud as soon as we got near enough. By the time we were within 10 miles or so, there was nothing on God's green Earth that could have stopped us kids from having lunch and buying fireworks at what was (and probably still is) among the worst theme parks/tourist traps anywhere on the planet!

Times have changed, of course. Most of those terribly offensive and blatantly racist billboards have been changed or eliminated to reflect modern tastes. Much like the black lawn jockey statues, they are a thing that now mostly rests uneasily in the past, and are best left unmentioned.

Except when you're writing a blog and trying to come up with a hook on a story that every other bit of electronic media has already written about ad nauseum.

And so, we go south of the border to South Carolina for the second primary of the season!

(yeesh, that was an awfully long way to go to get to the story!)

Hillary Clinton was widely favored to win this one, and she didn't disappoint. She rolled to a win with a massive margin, 73.5% to 26%. The delegate split is Hillary 39 and Bernie 14.

The current delegate totals are kind of difficult to nail down, because we Democrats have the ridiculous system of roughly 20% of the delegates being "super" delegates, who don't have any obligation to support either candidate, so the split can change based on how the SDs feel right up until they cast their vote at the convention.
This not only demonstrates a lack of egalitarianism in the party because we somehow "gift" our most entitled members with this privilege, but it also makes it tough to figure out where the current count stands.

Imagine being an SD and going into a closely contested convention. There is incredible pressure from both candidates to cast your vote for them. Bribes will likely be offered, although in polite conversation they might be referred to as "incentives" or "rewards for being a good party member".

Things like a prestigious job in the administration. Want to be an adviser to the President? Just give us your vote and we'll make it happen.

In a super close race, you'd probably get to be ambassador to a friendly English-speaking nation. Like New Zealand. Or, if it's REALLY close, hell, you'd likely get to fill Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court!

Of course, this is all idle, and probably libelous speculation; and besides, Hunter S. Thompson has more adroitly covered this scenario in "Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72", which is absolutely required reading for anyone who wants to gain insight on what really happens behind the scenes, both from the campaigns and the drug-influenced writer.
Anyway, screw the super delegates. They'll do whatever they want, or probably whatever they're told. I wouldn't presume to know the mind of a super delegate. They breathe rarefied air and probably sleep between 2000 thread-count sheets spun from virgin Afghani cotton. They're different from from us, so how would I possibly know what drives them?

Getting back to the facts, Hillary won big. This will be a huge boost going into Super Tuesday this week,which has contests in several key southern states. Hillary trends big in the South. She now has a lead in the delegate count, both with regular (you know, PEOPLE) delegates, and with Super Delegates (who were obviously born on Krypton and have unimaginable super powers when exposed to the magnificent rays of our yellow Sun).

Tuesday will be exciting for me. I'm hoping to be able to blog or Tweet or Facebook it as it happens. But I'll probably have to keep it minimal because I'll be packing for our trip to New Orleans the next day. We're taking the train because we've never done an overnight trip on a train, and we're going first-class with a bedroom and all meals included. It'll be like a 32-hour cruise ship! Two days in a French Quarter apartment via AirBnb, and then back home on JetBlue.
It will be a whirlwind trip, which in my experience, usually turns out to be the BEST sort of trip!

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