A Vote Against Darkness

I am not going to write anything approaching the profound. I’m just going to say a few things and explain them. Yeah, I am a pinko Liberal so let’s just get THAT out of the way now.

First, let me say this. In recent weeks several friends of mine have urged me to take a stand on a Presidential candidate. It was startling to me that anyone considers my vote and opinion that important.  They know who they are,  and have my thanks, and gratitude. I am–and always have–been honored to call them my friends.

But, I must be honest. It has been a struggle. Originally, I vowed to keep an open mind, and actually listen to each of them before I decided. I actually did that, but as much as I tried–from day one, it was obvious to me whom I would NOT be voting for.

Donald Trump was a non-starter, From the day of his announcement, through the GOP Convention, he has managed to blaze a trail of insults from one end of America to the other. Never in my personal, or professional life, have I experienced a candidate who fosters so much turmoil and discontent–and somehow manages to win the nomination. He has managed to take the heartfelt support of people all over the country, and twist it into something just this side of an unholy mess. If you support Trump, fine. But if I were you, I’d be thoroughly pissed off that he took your honest support, and crapped all over it, and the Republican Party.

As you can tell,  I never made a secret of my distaste for Trump and I won’t now. Until his convention speech, it never dawned on me that he’s simply Nixon without the political acumen. He’s following the Southern Strategy to almost a tee. The difference is he doesn’t have George Wallace protecting his flank. Trump has tapped into the Obama-hating, angry white-guy voting base. Just like Nixon tapped into it after the Civil Rights movement took hold. Frankly, I was a moron NOT to see it before I did.

All of that being the case, then who?

It was initially Bernie Sanders. I liked almost everything about his campaign. The ideas of course, and the renegade aspect had great appeal as well. But as things progressed, and Hillary pulled out to a lead, I noticed a change in Sanders’ base of support. There was almost an undercurrent of malevolence that bothered me then, and still does. The best I can describe it is Liberal Rage.

Rage that anyone would question Bernie’s ideas, and candidacy, and outrage that his supporters were seemingly being marginalized. Certainly understandable, but when you are in the game of national politics,  you need to wear big-boy pants occasionally, and realize you lose more than you win. there was no rigged nomination,  the Super-Delegate process has been in effect since 1984.

We saw this Liberal Rage in the small tantrums they threw at the Democratic National Convention. Fortunately, the practical faction of the Sanders camp prevailed, and Bernie himself displayed the dignity and class that was needed, and has been largely missing during this campaign cycle. Will it be enough to get those people under the Hillary tent? Hard to say for sure, but I believe it will be in the end.

My next flirtation was Gary Johnson. To be completely honest about it, I REALLY think I could and would support Johnson and Bill Weld–if it were any other year.  I’ll agree with one of my Republican friends when he says if Weld were on TOP of that ticket, he’d pull that lever. But this isn’t happening either. (Yes, I do have Republican friends.)

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton. I have never been completely certain about Hillary Clinton. Not about her sincerity. Not always of her innocence in some questionable situations. But I will say this. Hillary has been in the public eye in this country since she worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Watergate. Yes, there is a lot of smoke and insinuations about her possible conduct and behavior. But in the entire period of time since she emerged. She has been investigated ENDLESSLY, and the Republicans—who did most of the investigating–have never laid a glove on her.

Now you can say what you like about her AND Bill being slippery and able to skate by, but it says to me the Republicans have managed to waste millions of dollars, and manage a seemingly unending wild goose chase and have got NOTHING to show for it. By-the-way, I do not subscribe to the ‘Mysterious Deaths List’, attributed to her and Bill. People die. Frequently. Every day in fact. Over a three-decade career you lose people. Do I think Hillary Clinton is squeaky-clean? Of course not, but she’s no arch-villain either.  I do however, think Trump could easily be mistaken for Lex Luthor in the correct kind of light.

When it comes down to the final vote. The decision for this election, I must admit still being torn. I’m not at all sold on Clinton or Johnson, but Trump is a non-starter. But with his surge and convention performance, he helped me decide.

I have never seen four days like the GOP Convention. Possibly the four darkest days politically since Nixon resigned. (also a GOP Production). I heard nothing positive. That clinched it for me.

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton–but it’s more of a vote against Donald Trump. A vote against darkness.

Oh one more thing. For those who are saying,  “I knew it all along?” No, you didn’t because even I didn’t know for sure until today.  I’m not telling anyone who to vote for. But when I think about being raised by a single-Mom, with my sister, and the remarkable women I have had in my life, I cannot in good conscience allow a Trump candidacy to go unnoticed and un-criticized. But Trump’s misogyny and what seems to be bigotry is not what we as a country need.

I would vote for Johnson, but he has no shot. So I will vote against Trump and For Hillary Clinton.  I am NOT telling you who to vote for. My only request is that you VOTE period. Particularly the down-ticket races. Nothing will ever change if you don’t vote.

 

 

 

 

Ali-Legacy And A Life

Nothing I write about Muhammad Ali will be earth-shaking or transcendental. Yet since his passing, I have had a strong urge to pay some tribute, however small, to The Greatest.

Everyone knows about the public Ali, and his illustrious career, that much is certain. But the thing that has astonished me, is the escalating number of people telling their own, “Ali Story”.

Having lived and worked in Louisville for so many years, it has always been clear that Muhammad Ali loved his hometown. Even when that hometown didn’t always love him. At some point during TV coverage of almost every one of his fights, he would mention he hailed from Louisville, and frequently mentioned Central High School in his post-fight interviews too. One thing I learned living in Louisville–EVERYONE there has an Ali Story. For the record, I met him twice, and I never forgot either time. I never will.

Muhammad Ali was great friends with local Louisville Radio Personality John Ramsey, and I don’t think I overstate things when I say John was like a son to The Champ. John has frequently shared his memories of Ali,  and has been extremely generous with those on Facebook and other social media.  He has heard and seen people meet Muhammad in nearly any circumstance you can imagine. He told me this morning in a Facebook message that no one he ever knew of, could connect with people like Muhammad Ali. I also want to thank John for sharing his friendship with The Champ for so many years.

To see him in his later years, was to witness a man coming full-circle, and knowing what this man had done–had been–had accomplished, just overwhelmed many people when they found themselves face-to-face with the actual man and not the image. From the brash, outspoken young athlete–to the boxing champion–to icon of the world, Ali had literally done it all. Some were cruel about his affliction, claiming it was payback for being such a ‘loudmouth’ when he was younger.  I saw it differently.

I saw a man who–although somewhat trapped inside his body–bared his soul and allowed himself to show his weakened body–and continue to make others happy. It was evident when he lit the torch at the 98 Olympics in Atlanta. Even though those Olympics are now 20 years in the rearview mirror, that moment has become iconic, and will be forever remembered.

There are still those knee-jerk reactionaries who use the incorrect term, “Draft Dodger” to describe their feelings about Muhammad Ali. They are wrong of course, but I have detailed why it’s fallacious numerous other times, and will not do so here. What I will say is this. Open your minds and expand your world-view. What Ali did, helped this country, and his deeds need to be remembered for that. Look at the big picture folks. The bubbles we all live in can be sort of cozy, but can also warp our values, and worst–our tolerance.

Make no mistake. Muhammad Ali was one hellacious Boxer. Arguably the best ever. In fact go back and watch his fights, and you will see his brilliance, and skills. But when you do that, also remember that this man so touched the world in one-way-or-another, that he was literally known, and revered in every corner of the globe.

If that isn’t a life well-lived,  then I don’t know what it is.

 

 

Can Democrats Save The GOP?

After watching the Democratic debate,Tuesday evening, I came to a few conclusions. No hearts and minds will be changed after this one, but we really did LEARN more from this debate, then we did from the first two GOP debates combined. No, there was nothing earth-shattering as far as anything new, or different from the five candidates.

What we did learn is that with a little civility, and real discourse, a candidate can, at the very least, introduce themselves to the voting public. That is something SORELY lacking in any of the GOP events. Most people, including me, attribute that to the Trump Effect., and it would be a correct assumption. Trump is nothing if not entertaining, but it’s a morbid fascination at best. Trump has essentially become the frog-in-a-blender of American politics. Something you never wanted to see or think of, but you can’t stop watching.

I know a LOT of Republicans, and while we have fundamental disagreements on many issues, MOST of the friends I have in the GOP are aghast at what’s been happening on the campaign trail. The race has become a bad reality show with Trump’s ego as the star. Pretty much what I had feared would happen all along if he ran for the Presidency. The worst part of this isn’t that the Republicans could lose the White House because of the antics of Trump and others. The worst part is that these so-called candidates are doing so much damage to the GOP, that the party may never recover. Add to this, the fact that Republicans can’t come together long enough to agree on a Speaker Of The House, and the GOP is being torn asunder from within.

We already know the Dems and GOP will never have anything in common politically, but the Republicans need to take a long, hard look at their party opposites when it comes to civility, cooperation, and most importantly–respect. Whether they agreed or not last night, the Democrats in the debate respected each other’s opinion and gave each other a chance to actually speak in complete sentences. Voters remember this kind of thing, and trust me when I tell you the Democrats are already burning the midnight oil in churning out the opposition research.

Soon enough, ALL of those in the GOP will be facing reelection bids, and this will be the bed they have made for themselves and their colleagues. Forget the substance of last night-such as it really was–and look at the EVENT. Normally, I don’t tout or hype style over substance in any measure, but it matters in this case.

Republicans in Congress…STOP allowing 40 people who are throwing a temper tantrum, to lead you and your party around by the nose. Figure it out, and if you have to,  BUILD a coalition to decide upon a Speaker. Trust me, you’ll get a lot more respect from the masses if that happens.

GOP Candidates–cut out the harangues and the bashing of each other. Learn from what you’ve already done wrong, and watch the Democrats. Like it or not, you CAN learn a thing or two. Democrats may even help save your party.

Simple Joy-Thanks Kid

One thing I have discovered as I grow older, is that joy isn’t so simple anymore. Not that I’m gloomy, or depressed, but I find my true joys are far fewer and harder to find. One episode in particular brought this home to me last week.

I was travelling to Washington via train as I usually do, when I spied a young couple and their toddler daughter a few seats away. Normally, I would have read or otherwise occupied the time, but this little girl was so delightful to watch, I just sat and observed. The couple was immediately different because unlike about 80 percent of commuters, they engaged each other in conversation, and paid rapt attention to the child, and her myriad questions.

She was just old enough to speak in some short sentences, and make herself understood to Mom and Dad, and it was a sight to behold. The child had a ready smile, and large blue eyes, all topped with an unruly halo of brown hair which was all over the place. She wore it almost like a lion’s mane rather than a head of hair.

This kid was watching everything, and everyone, and learning the entire time. It was then I noticed the air of simple joy that surrounded the three of them. A very happy and loving family unit, with a child who was adored by the parents and clearly adored them in return. They took joy in each other and it was something to see and appreciate.

Sometimes, if you feel jaded or particularly cynical, try to watch a child and how they interact with the world. If that doesn’t change your outlook, I doubt anything will. This little girl said “Hi” to anyone and everyone, and did it with a lovely smile, along with the full expectation the greeting would be returned by all, and it was. Her Mom walked away from the seats for a few minutes to speak to a conductor, and when she returned was greeted with a joyous shriek of, “MOMMY!!” Almost as though she’d been away for a week.

In a nutshell, on a day when I really needed it, and had no idea where to find it–I saw Simple Joy. Thanks kid.

Trump-Boor and A Bore

I’ll preface this by admitting I have a case of insomnia tonight, so I figured the best way to tire myself out would be to vent about Donald Trump. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of his carny act and sideshow. Trump has done exactly what I feared. He has turned an election campaign into a running reality show, and a lousy one at that. BTW–I’m going to use a few not-so-polite words here, so if you take offense to that sort of thing please be forewarned.

It’s bad enough that he can’t articulate any coherent policy planks, but he gets downright belligerent if he’s questioned about it at all. Here’s a news flash Donald. Running for President means you get tough questions, and eventually, you’ll be forced to answer, or take a position. Hell, running for Dog Catcher means the same thing nowadays, so you shouldn’t act surprised and offended when you get called out for your sheer nincompoopery as you stagger through a non-answer, and then act like you’re a victim just because you did a lousy job of replying. Buck up buttercup.

But what really has begun to grate on me even more than his obliviousness to really taking positions, is his total lack of finesse or couth when it comes to his public utterances. His recent words disparaging fellow candidate Carly Fiorina are a new low. Now THAT is an accomplishment. In fact every time I think the bar can go no lower, Trump manages to dig a trench and drop it a few more notches. When are voters and the public in general going to wise up, and let this buffoon know enough is enough?

Trump has managed something I thought was impossible. He manages to be a Boor, and a Bore simultaneously. His boorish behavior in throwing around insults to whomever even slightly disagrees with him, is something like I have never witnessed. The words that come from this incredible egotist would get any 21 year-old college student thrown out of any fraternity in America, but when The Donald says them, his poll numbers rise.

But here’s the thing. He MUST continue to do it. Because without the bombast, bullshit, and general dipshittery he regularly displays, he’s boring as hell. Yes I said boring. How interested do you think most Americans would find him to be if he was just the run-of-the-mill rich, white Republican?  Of course not. Without the bombast and chest-thumping, Trump has no ammo.

It’s also worth asking just how badly we want a President whose main debate tactic seems to involve calling those who disagree with him losers, and who regularly shows his hubris and bad behavior while on the campaign trail. Although I admit on a personal level, I’d love to see what happens when he calls Vladimir Putin a loser and, a nobody when they are negotiating face-to–face.

While I’m at it, let’s just make one more point. Attending a military school for a few years does not make you intimately familiar with how the REAL military operates. You didn’t go to a real service academy, you went to New York Military Academy and The University of Pennsylvania. Oh and let’s not forget those four deferments you received to avoid the draft during Vietnam. Not great credentials to claim you’re a military expert.

As far as I can tell, aside from getting rich from old family money, and doing well in real estate, it looks to me like your main credential is shameless self-promotion. After all, not everyone has the nerve to slap his name on everything he owns, along with displaying a massive lack of taste, and a tackiness level that is off the charts when it comes to being garish.

Oh, btw one other little tidbit for you to chew on. All those buildings around that have TRUMP plastered across them in 90 foot high letters? He doesn’t really own most of them. He licenses his name for use on them so other developers can try to ride his tacky coattails to the promised land. He also has filed corporate bankruptcy more than once, but that’s old news. Let’s not forget the 200 undocumented Polish workers who were used to prep the site for Trump Tower back in 1980.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. It’s time for this crap to stop. Trump is interested in Trump. If you really think he gives a sweet damn about people in flyover states, you’re deluded. He wants what they have. Their votes. Once he gets those, he’s done with them. He’s shameless. A huckster. A charlatan. A clown.

A boorish clown who acts no better than a six-year-old throwing a tantrum. Stop responding positively to what this guy is saying and doing-before it’s too late. I suspect the first GOP candidate who has balls enough to challenge him directly and regularly could and would beat him soundly. Now if only there’s one who will take him on.

Step up people.

Trump Needs WWE

I think I have finally figured out Donald Trump and his Presidential campaign.   Donald Trump has a campaign akin to something Vince McMahon would produce for a pro wrestling extravaganza. Complete with heroes, villains, the female wrestlers, and silly managers. Trump has taken “Kayfabe”, to the highest level. “Kayfabe” is the plot of wrestling. Character development, nuances, trademarks, gimmicks, and even misdirection.

At first, I thought he might be the new P.T. Barnum, but he’s too slippery to be such a clichéd huckster. I also considered he might be the next incarnation of Colonel Tom Parker, but I don’t think Trump has enough shyster in him for that comparison. Besides, Parker was a one-note guy and ol’ Donald seems to be much more well-rounded than a guy who just tried to bleed his client dry and work him until he dropped. At least I think so. Parker used to pull a trick when he was selling hot dogs at carnivals. He placed two wiener ends on a bun and covered the middle with onions. When the suckers screeched in protest, Parker would point to a forlorn frank lying in the dust saying, “You dropped yer meat son, now move on along.” I can actually see Trump doing that.

He’s got a little bit of Jimmy Swaggart in him too by the sound of things. Even though he couldn’t name a single bible verse after claiming the Bible is his favorite book. But then Jimmy kind of played fast and loose with his interpretation of what he preached too.

Trump seems to think he’s all things-to all people. Something for everyone. Just like Vince McMahon and his wrestling ventures. Heroes (Faces) for the kids to worship, Villains (Heels) for everyone to boo, and pretty girls for everyone to ogle. Both include more hype and bluster than can be adequately described with the written word.

Donald Trump is the Rick Flair of Presidential politics. I can’t wait until he starts working in WOOOOOOS during his stump speeches. Or channeling the late Roddy Piper by wearing a kilt, and playing bagpipes. Lord knows he has the wind for it. I guess out only hop of rescue is a candidate who comes along and uses the legendary Coco Butt on him and knocks him out of the race, and everyone else back to their senses. I hope we can find Bobo Brazil before it’s too late.

GOP Debate Number One (and One-A)

The first GOP debate is in the books and we found out exactly nothing new. Well, that’s not entirely true. We DID discover Ohio Governor John Kasich is popular in Cleveland. Who knew? Oh and we found out Donald Trump is a self-promoting, ego-inflated Republican wannabe. Like I said at the top. Nothing new.

As for anything of substance being said? Nothing at all. The only upbeat note I can even slightly reference was the fact that Chris Wallace, called out Trump on his non-answer to an immigration question. Could he provide specific evidence of those rapists, and criminals being sent from Mexico? In a nutshell, he could not, and did not. Preferring instead to lash out at, “stupid reporters”, among others. Megyn Kelly also called out Trump on his nasty remarks about women, both during this campaign and in other venues. Trump managed to score a few points at other candidates expense, but overall was unimpressive. His bombast and bomb-throwing was shrunken next to some of the actually statistics, and facts being used by the others.

But, interestingly, it wasn’t Trump providing most of the fireworks. Rather, we saw Rand Paul jumping in immediately to blast Trump for his non-pledge to support any GOP nominees and not run as an independent, which was the very first portion of the debate. Paul and Trump clashed a few other times too, which kept me and others awake. Paul further took on Chris Christie regarding intelligence gathering. Granted Christie specifically blasted Paul for using the issue for grandstanding Senate speeches, so a retort was warranted, but the skirmish was muted by the rest of the mostly uneventful night.

Ben Carson acquitted himself fairly well, in the limited time he was heard from, and Jeb Bush managed to defend some of his positions rather well, and further explain some of his early campaign positions. Marco Rubio was okay too, taking the position that it’s not just Mexicans who use illegal means to enter the country.

Scott Walker was interesting for about a hot-second when he mentioned that the GOP candidates should be talking about Hillary Clinton, and not bashing each other. Otherwise he was very bland. Mike Huckabee? He used his prior TV experience to answer smoothly, and respond to some talking points, but didn’t stray far from his far-right base. Kasich, (who was more or less ignored during the first half of the debate), came off as a common-sense guy, who uses his communications skills fairly well. Not to mention we found out he goes to gay weddings if he’s invited. His answer on same-sex marriage and his evolving position, seemed to be well received.

As for the preliminary debate? Not much to tell. Rick Perry managed to name-check someone named Ronald Raven, and Carly Fiorina was on top of her game and was the clear winner, even though there was little of substance really brought up. Was it enough to put her into the top echelon of the candidate scrum? Hard to say for certain, but I would surmise she will get a lot more scrutiny as a result of her showing, which may be a double-edged sword. If she continues her decent showing on the stump, then she can possibly gain some ground. If she stumbles even a little bit, then she’ll be written off as a one-trick pony. She has raised the bar for herself and she needs to live up to it from now on.

Overall? Nearly impossible to pick a winner, but it has to be said that Kasich, Carson, and Rubio came off very well. All had facts, and a reasonable tone while responding to questions and articulating positions. Rand Paul seemed a little too schoolmarm-ish. Trump did nothing to help his candidacy, and may have damaged it with his bellicose tone, when seen next to others with a more measured approach. The rest of the candidates essentially took up stage space. Next time let’s see Paul, Bush, Trump, Kasich, Christie, Fiorina, Rubio, and Carson line up for a good-solid two hours of issue-driven debate. Ideally that would happen, but failing that, I suspect we’re doomed to experience more of these marathons which don’t really tell us anything at all. It wasn’t a total three-ring Circus, but it certainly was in the big-top.