Hillary vs. Bernie in the Ultimate Showcase Showdown

It’s been a hot minute since I wrote on this sombitch, but 2016 is an election year in the U.S., and political discourse has a way of igniting a fire in my heart like so many wayward matches left on forest floors. It’s a polarizing time in the U.S. and any time the subject of Presidential candidates comes up, you’re bound to be verbally assaulted no matter who you support. But I’ve always enjoyed the attack. Defending one’s opinion should not be something we fear to do. If your convictions are strong enough, they will withstand any bombardment, just like the energy field protecting the Rebel outpost on the planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

Living in Seattle, I am surrounded by Bernard “Bernie” Sanders supporters. I even took one of those online tests to see who aligns with my political values and Bernard came closest. We both support the public option in health care, higher taxes on the 1%, and a robust environmental policy. I’m not completely sold on free college education yet, but I think it’s a “nice to have” once we reach that far-off American utopia. I believe Mr. Sanders to be a person of conviction, steadfast moral principles, and a true progressive in every sense of the word. However, despite this conjunction of heart strings and personal truths, Mr. Sanders is not who I intend to cast my ballot for in the Washington caucus (March 26) later this month. If he wins the Democratic nomination, I will wholeheartedly support him, but there is another candidate who I think is better prepared to fight the GOP war machine, and that….you guessed it, is Hillary Clinton.

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I can hear the collective moans now. From my friends and associates. From my family. But life has taught me to be pragmatic above all else. I voted for Obama twice and have absolutely no regrets, but even I knew when he was elected (along with a filibuster-proof Senate and a huge majority in the House), that the progress he’d make would fall short of his lofty goals. I say this with no disrespect, as I feel as though President Obama tried to offer compromise in his early months, but the “My Way or the Highway” mantra of the GOP derailed bipartisan efforts. I do believe his successes will go down in history as great leaps forward: Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Affordable Care Act (which does need improvement), saving the American auto industry (their bailout was paid back with interest), and investing in renewable energy. I believe him to be a good man, and a good leader. I am proud of those votes.

Bernie affects my emotions in a similar way. But from a tactical point of view, I also see baked-in weaknesses for him as a general election candidate: a 74-year old who has never run against the full barrage of Republican chainsaws. Keep in mind, Senator Sanders is elected from one of the most liberal states in the U.S. [Vermont] and has never had serious competition from the Right. His judgement may be good on legislative votes, but he has virtually no foreign policy experience. When asked in the first Democratic debate how much he’d have to raise taxes to pay for his ambitious plans, he wasn’t even certain. He did offer a subsequent answer in a later debate, but how does one run for President and not even know their economic plan’s specifics until a few months after they decide to run? Besides, the Republicans are not going to lose the House (it’s gerrymandered all to hell until after the next census), so none of Bernie’s plans are happening, folks. They are a cruise ship brochure, only you won’t be getting on board because the GOP controls U.S. Customs.

On the other side, Hillary is definitely an old war horse with lots of baggage. She’s notoriously calculated and hardly a “people person”. She comes off as fake and her public statements often shift with the wind. Her persona reads as a standard politician, and I understand why people don’t like her. However, in this candidate, I also see a woman with a locomotive drive who has withstood virtual nuclear assaults from the GOP since 1992. Yet here she is, and stronger than ever. Resilient. Familiar with manipulating the levers of power in Washington, and someone who opponents fear on both sides of the aisle. Will she get a lot done? Probably not with a GOP House, but she’s a crafty shrew and I believe she’ll be quicker on the draw with executive orders than a President Sanders. She’s hardly a liberal’s teddy bear to inspire cuddles and promises of a perfect society, but rather a Valkyrie in cold armor navigating the treacherous hurricane of Washington’s power base. She is a flawed candidate, but an impressive bulwark against a Republican party now controlled by nefarious fringe (and racist) elements. She’s like a Hoover Dam against a flood of cruelty and hate. Practical, even if she’s somewhat menacing to look at.

History is a good teacher, and I suspect that no matter which Democrat wins the White House in 2016 (well, assuming they do), they will likely be a one term President. Bernie will be pushing 80 in a job that already ages a normal man faster than any other on the planet. Heck, Reagan wasn’t even that old when he assumed the Presidency and even he was getting a little nutty by the end of his first term. Hillary, if elected, will continue to be a scandal magnet and I think by 2020, Clinton fatigue could be a very real problem. Barring some major economic bloom that happens under her watch, I think the American people will be ready to move on. The Left will find a new, younger champion (perhaps Corey Booker, D-NJ) and the Right – having learned the scorched-earth lessons of this year’s childish and bizarre primary campaign – will anoint a moderate face with a better chance of winning. Perhaps Marcobot 2.0 (with optional mobile app features).

 

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Apparently My Hair Needs An Oil Change

Living in Seattle, I have become accustomed to a certain amount of tree-hugging. I’m not complaining, as I am usually quite environmental and I dutifully recycle or compost about 90% of my garbage. But these days, I am learning that even I have my limits. Case in point: the All-Organic Movement.

First of all, let me say that I do think there is definitely some benefit to avoiding non-organic food and it’s cool when people can create industrial strength rope out of hemp, seaweed, or whatever. However, I am finding that some people are taking the “organic” label a bit too far.

An “eco-salon” recently opened near my home and for those of you that don’t know, it’s basically Captain Planet-meets-Vidal Sassoon. I was doing some research to find a new place to get my hair cut, and when I called this joint – I shit you not – their sales pitch included the following:

We use all natural products on your hair, including environmentally safe shampoos and conditioners. We also have the means of organically disposing of your hair clippings.

Organically disposing of my hair clippings? I think my mouth dropped open like I was trying to catch flies in it. I wanted to say, “Dude, my scalp is not an SUV that needs the Pennzoil changed, it’s just hair. I could bury it in your backyard and you’d be none the wiser.” When I pressed for more details on this miraculous means of waste disposal, I was given some vague story line about a special process that avoids putting chemically-treated hair into the area landfills. Apparently all those 80’s perms are coming back to haunt us again – in our ground water. Who knew?

Of course, I ran with this and asked if it involved storing the hair in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Needless to say, I don’t think the gentleman found my joke very funny.

"Haircut" by Steve Walker (2001)

“Haircut” by Steve Walker (2001)

An Elegant Monster

If you voraciously devoured the second season of Netflix’s web series House of Cards this past weekend, you were not alone. This writer also binged on the newly delivered loot.

I almost watched the entire 13 episodes without stopping – but my stomach requested nutrition and I figured I should probably shower. I actually felt a little like a crackhead, or at least what I imagine one feels like – bypassing normal behaviors to submit my will to this unfolding, fictitious character study. I won’t give anything away, but the season was definitely worth the wait. It delivered high voltage shocks in its political backstabbing, sexual side turns, and naked power grabs.

Of all this show’s twisted personalities, my favorite character is the devious Claire Underwood (Robin Wright). She plays the wife of Kevin Spacey (as VP Frank Underwood). A methodical machine, she carefully manipulates (often better than her own husband) her preferred outcomes in challenging situations. When her enemies fall, she doesn’t even give a smile of satisfaction; she coldly moves on to the next target with eyes like steel knives. No unethical tactic is beneath her, yet her subtle grace and calm voice give you the impression she is the most trust-worthy and caring individual you’d ever meet. A vintage sociopath. Now that I know what levels of power she has attained, I can not wait to see what she does to her opponents in the next season.

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Although this is just a TV show, it could be considered strange to cheer on a psychotic. However, villains are usually the more fascinating individuals in a story. I feel like you always want to know, “What broke them?” Or “What made their emotions turn to stone?” How did their obsession with an audacious goal become their fundamental purpose in life? And how will it ultimately be their undoing (as it usually is)?

Claire, your magnificent malice brought you to the top. I can’t wait to see how it brings you down.

This is going to be one for the Ages.

The President’s Horrible Anus

Dear Google News Editors,

Please DO NOT use Latin in a U.S. headline. Case in point…

annus_horribilisNow, I know that this headline translates to “Obama’s Horrible Year”, but my first read/reaction was, “What is so horrible about Obama’s anus? Is he eating too much Quizno’s or something?” Quite frankly, I am not sure it’s fair to judge that body part as they are all pretty gross in my book. In fact, I am willing to wager that Queen Elizabeth’s is probably MORE horrible after years of digestive abuse via afternoon tea and scones.

My next thought was, “Fuck these guys, I’d go to a different proctologist for a second opinion.”

 

Send In the Clowns, Eh?

Ladies and gentlemen,

Candidates from the St. Paul, Minnesota mayoral race:

I am not sure which quote is my favorite. So much lunacy to choose from:

“Let the school teachers have a gun…or let ’em have a camera which is a gun stronger than…whatever.”

“And bubble wrap…this is therapy for kids. For me too.”

“I’m good on the computer with PDF files.”

“I’m not Cylie Myrus, but I’m the wrecking ball.”

Sometimes you just have to laugh at how ludicrous our political system has become. And then, of course, you can cry.

Shutdown

Did you know the two “poorest” members of Congress are worth $943,000 and $808,000? One is a California Republican and the other is a Texas Democrat. Everyone else is a millionaire or multimillionaire. And still, if they serve 5 years or more they receive a full pension, free postage, and travel stipend – paid for by all tax-paying U.S. citizens.

If anyone should be working free (shutdown or no), it should be them.

weep

How Television Became My Psychological Window

I grew up like many in my generation: worshipping the TV set. My Saturday morning communion with the almighty 14-channel Zenith consisted of a bowl of Fruit Loops and 4 solid hours of cartoons. It is almost embarrassing to admit that now, but those publicly-broadcasted waves shaped my youthful spirit and fed my childhood imagination. Then, I grew up and went to college where I became “too good” for TV and decided that cinema was where real ideas were happening. Sure, I still indulged in weekly episodes of Seinfeld, and I would catch the occasional cultural moment – like Ellen DeGeneres coming out in 1997 on her eponymous show – but I was pretty much wandering in the Sahara of no TV until the latter part of the previous decade.

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Through a wonderful ex-boyfriend, I became hooked on Breaking Bad, a twisted AMC series following the transformation of a man from high school science teacher to drug overlord. It is one of the best things I’ve ever seen on television. Multi-layered storytelling with complex characters that I would hate one minute and then fall in love with in subsequent episodes. However, the most interesting thing to me about the show was the subtle education I was receiving on human nature. Prior to the show, I had always had a hard time understanding why anyone would use or sell drugs, but the more I watched it, the more I understood. Now, I am not saying it instilled a desire to do either of those things, but it did make me understand the human intent behind self-destructive actions, probably more so than my college psychology classes. More importantly, as my feelings about the characters changed periodically, I realized that even when certain people do terrible things, you can sometimes see that they are not inherently evil people but rather very desperate people.

hocnetflixThis education continued when I got hooked on two recent Netflix series: House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. The former is a superb example of how people manipulate each other for the purposes of satisfying their own selfish desires. I watched the entire series in 2 days (however, I am also a political junkie). I think it’s probably an overly dramatic view of how Washington D.C. functions, but it’s definitely a mesmerizing pool of darkness.

oisnbOrange Is the New Black is a bit more light-hearted, but has a serious subtext as it approaches the various points of view in a women’s prison. My favorite thing about this one is similar to my reasons for loving Breaking Bad…when you learn the stories of the prisoners and how they came to be there, you may understand the motivations of why people perform certain crimes and whether or not they truly receive appropriate justice for their deeds. Aside from the heavier themes, the show pulls of a great balancing act of humor and humanity. I’m definitely waiting impatiently for the next season.

My hat is off to you TV, you have come back from the wasteland of reality programming.

Hillary 2016

I run in some political circles (none official but also none the less passionate), and everyone keeps singing the praises of Hillary Clinton as the Presidential candidate to beat in 2016. Since we’re only in 2013 and we haven’t even witnessed the potential bloodbath of the 2014 midterms, I’ll reserve judgment until then. However, I won’t deny Hillary’s enduring strength even after the Democrat base handed her a very close defeat in the 2008 primary.

Will she run in 2016? Inquiring minds want to know.

Will she run in 2016? Inquiring minds want to know.

My biggest fear is this constant American illusion that we are going to elect someone who will save the world and…unicorns will run free once again. I heard it all when Obama was elected and now those same ultra-liberal people are constantly turning to me and saying, “I am so disappointed in Obama.” Really? You sound like you raised him from birth and he ended up dropping out of college or something. Perhaps they are just saying it to be fashionable, who knows? I guess I’ve been pretty content with the winding down of two wars, a gradually improving economy (although I’d like a faster recovery too), expansion of gay rights, and the fact that no one will ever again have to go through what my dad endured by being denied health insurance because of preexisting conditions. I think those are all very good things, and I am willing to give credit where it’s due (i.e. the Democratic Party and maybe 1 or 2 Republicans who voted with them). That said, of course I am not thrilled with potential privacy violations or the toothless Wall Street reform. But ultimately, we elect a Congress and a President and neither has absolute sway.

I have never had lofty expectations for any politician I have voted for because I know that the world is a complex place and all I do is fill out an oval on the ballot to put a brain in the Oval Office. Heck, if they can deliver on 6 out of 10 items on my political laundry list, I’m happy as a clam. I never expect perfection from a profession that potentially requires smiling at the podium while you just gave an order to kill 3,000 people moments before. It’s a duplicitous job and you really have to make the best choice you think possible when you’re in the voting booth.

So I always tell my friends salivating at the mouth over a potential Hillary Clinton Presidency, “Remember, she’ll probably do one or two things that pisses you off.”

However, I do think she’d be a totally bad ass President.

I admire people who take adversity, let it *try* to destroy them, and then come back even stronger. It’s a rare talent that (so far) has only been mastered by Madonna and cockroaches.

 

I got a dog in this fight…

Well, another U.S. election has come and gone. I suspect about half the country feels like a tsunami hit them and left nothing but chaos and wreckage behind it, while the rest are celebrating the victory of one of their most beloved Presidents. An even larger group probably never cared much to begin with and as such, won’t notice much of a difference.

All that said, I had a dog in this fight, and by that I mean Referendum 74  which has been approved by a majority of Washington state voters; marriage equality for same-sex couples is now legal in my current state of residence.

Since I had been rabidly following the polls for this initiative since early summer, I felt pretty confident that it would pass. The margins were always in its favor, however I did not anticipate the emotional impact it would have on me when it finally became approved with nary 52% of the vote. Seriously, this cranky ol’ sombitch got tears in his eyes. It was like watching a film montage of all the anti-gay moments I had experienced in my life culminate into a crowning moment of pure, brilliant light where that cold chain of disappointing events exploded like a hash brown supernova.

So yeah, it was a good night for me. I know that’s not true for everyone, and I never want to be someone who throws a political win in people’s faces, because I certainly didn’t enjoy it when my side lost in November 2004. However, I believe that bringing another minority under the umbrella of rights that everyone else enjoys will ultimately be a healthy thing for this country. I think in about 20 years (maybe less), people will wonder what the big deal was about gay marriage.

On a humorous note, I came across some subtle journalism humor on the night of the election:

About two dozen people attending the Reject R-74 party at a coffee shop in a strip mall in Lynnwood had earlier cheered very early returns that had shown Washington voters rejecting R-74. Later, with King County’s votes counted and the approve Ref. 74 side gaining the lead, the mood was more subdued but still upbeat.

Newsflash: If you are planning your “victory” party in a strip mall coffee shop, chances are the evening is not going to end well for you. LOL

The Secret Life of Vaginas

Apparently vaginas can puke out rapists’ sperm and only some forms of rape are “legitimate” or “forcible”. I had no idea. I wonder if I can use my garbage disposal to sharpen my knives? Join us for the answer to this question and many more in next week’s edition of “Life in the GOP Universe.”

Source: U.S. Rep. Akin (R-MO) ignites firestorm over rape comments…