Monday, November 7, 2016

Voting and Watching Out For the Other Guy

Remember those old defensive driving public service announcements imploring drivers to ‘watch out for the other guy!’?

That’s the logic I used for casting my vote in this year’s presidential election.

I seriously considered voting for Jill Stein. Unfortunately, her campaign never caught fire, which is sad because her party's platform is outstanding. But reality is what it is. America in 2016 has only two viable political parties: Democrats and Republicans.

Despite a manipulated primary process earlier this year, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton survived a surprising challenge from Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (whom I supported) and won the Democratic nomination. Meanwhile, businessman and reality show TV star Donald Trump whittled down a field of 17 weak candidates and shockingly won the Republican nomination. Such at is, we are left with that choice: a status-quo, corporatist neo-liberal hawk or a reckless, racist, narcissistic, sexist, unstable demagogue. Because of the appalling foulness of the latter option, in my opinion, the former becomes tolerable. I, therefore, voted for Hillary Clinton.

I believe Donald Trump’s election to would prove to be an imminent, catastrophic danger, not only to our country, but to the entire planet. New York Times columnist Charles Blow captured my sentiment last week and expressed it much better than I can.

“On Election Day, America faces a choice, and it’s not a tough one, but a stark one. It is the difference between tolerance and intolerance. It is the difference between respect and disrespect. It is the difference between a politician with some flaws and a flaw threatening our politics.
Donald Trump is an existential threat. On Tuesday (tomorrow), America has an opportunity to defend itself.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have some serious misgivings about Clinton. She encourages a foreign policy that relies too heavily on interventionism. Her record on trade issues that adversely impact America’s working class is murky at best. And she is way too friendly with lobbyists pitching the interests of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. Plus, I still haven’t quite forgiven her for her 2002 vote in the U.S. Senate to authorize the use of force in the ill-begotten Iraq War.

Given this track record, I believe Hillary possesses some semblance of sanity. And unlike the recent past, the party’s left wing does have some clout. Should she become president, they'll be able to hold her accountable. At the very least, they'll have a seat at the table. And thanks largely to the influence of Sanders and his delegates, the Democrats at their summer convention adopted a remarkably progressive party platform that includes, among other policies, a plank that calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexing it to inflation. Yes, party platforms aren't carved in granite. But they do provide a framework in which Hillary can be held to keep her promises. I cannot say the same about a Trump presidency. Any progressive ideas will be completely shut down. In fact, even the status quo will be in peril. The thought of him holding office terrifies the ever-loving shit out of me.

So, I’ve decided to fasten my belt and watch out for the other guy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Wandering Mind On A Cool Night

Now that summer’s prolonged and unpalatable humidity has finally relented, I’ve taken to sitting out on my front porch and relaxing in the cool night air. The nighttime tranquility in my trailer park never ceases to amaze considering that I live in quite an active and bustling part of town during the day.

Last night during my state of serenity, I began gazing skyward, where I noticed only one visible star. I blame clouds and an abundance of urban lighting for my limited stellar view. Since that lone star was due north, I deduced that it must be the North Star.

My mind’s wheels began turning. ‘How far is the North Star from Earth?’, I wondered. It occurred to me that my inquiry could easily be resolved with my handy, dandy smartphone. I spoke into it, and it responded with a soothing female voice, "the North Star or Polaris is approximately 434 light years from Earth”.

I let that information sink in for a moment. It has taken nearly 434 years for that twinkling stellar light to travel from the North Star to my gazing eyeballs. Utilizing my smartphone again, I computed that the North Star generated what I was observing in 1582, which I further learned from my amazing hand-held device that William Shakespeare was then alive as a teenager.

It was then that I concluded that aided with some handy technology, the mind can indeed wander across the space-time continuum on a cool, peaceful night on one's front porch...if one is receptive.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Let's Abolish The Bogus Superdelegate System

Yes, Hillary (now, the presumptive nominee it appears) has won more votes from actual voters during the Democratic primaries and caucuses. But did she win their support by nearly a 13-to-1 margin? Because among the so-called "superdelegates", who are unpledged technically until the convention next month, Clinton has the stated support of 572 of them, compared to 46 for Bernie. In fact, she started out with the support of more than 500 superdelegates before a single vote was even was cast. Superdelegates need to be abolished.

Hell, the dang Republicans are more democratic than the Democrats when it comes to superdelegates.