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.

clinton_sanders_showcaseshowdown

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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The Inability to Quantify Love

Love_by_arlek_in

“Love” by Nikolai Bashkirev (2006)

At the age of 39, I find myself in a quandary: After years of dating and assembling personal relationships only to have them collapse like a house of cards, I decided to try to quantify what makes people “fall in love.” As you can imagine, it’s virtually impossible to determine a definitive answer. So after surveying the wreckage of my past attempts, I tried to glean from the remaining particles what forms the axis of a potentially solid foundation. In much discussion with friends, I often feel ping-ponged between opposing view points. They often contradict each other in advice and approach, but somewhere between the refractory points of view, I settled on the following factors:

1. Humor: There must be laughter. If no laughter, then what will sustain you both when you’re in wheel chairs with leaky colostomy bags? You better have some jokes for glue. Several friends say that only one person in the relationship need supply the laughs and that as long as the other person is entertained, the circuit is complete. Since I’m a moody bastard, I feel like I need both ends. Sometimes I like being the magician, and sometimes I like being the audience. I am not sure if it is reasonable to assume you can be both. I do know that a good laugh dismantles emotional walls, it coaxes smiles out of the fox hole, and it disarms the nuclear trigger of a raging temper.

2. Intelligence: Not IQ-driven, but a certain level of intellectual compatibility. Everyone’s mind is a satellite adrift in the Nothing, but when transmissions fall upon familiar frequencies a reciprocity is created. I’ve always believed that two people need not work for NASA to communicate effectively with each other. But a similar level of idea exchange turns consonants and vowels into construction material. Can’t cross that violent river? No problem, we’ve got sentences stronger than the thickest bridge cable.

3. Self-Responsibility: I think a lot of people drive their relationships without this one. I find that being with people who are not very responsible is ultimately detrimental to both parties. I’ve also been weary of those who would not provide an equal contribution to the partnership, and I’m not necessarily talking about money. These are the cleptoparasites who will feed on your emotional well-being. I’ve often found that people with a good work ethic, the ones who will do a good job – even if the job itself is not particularly prestigious or profitable – are sterling examples of this cardinal attribute. It may not always carry over to other parts of their life, but it is often a divining rod to a quality person. In my experience, it denotes a person unfettered by obstacles who is willing to work on something, rather than give up at the first sign of trouble.

4. Decent Hygiene: I know this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people come up short in this department. No one has to be OCD, or carry anti-bacterial wipes in their wallet, but a modicum of cleanliness is like having a home with good manners. I’ve certainly let my apartment go to hell during a busy week at work, and I get behind on laundry just like everyone else, but there comes a point when even I cannot stand it. I once read a book on playing chess that said, “An ordered system loses less energy.” Well, in my book an ordered house, projects good energy. I think of all these points, this could probably be the one I bend on if the other factors were strong enough. After all, I would be willing to have a pet in the house (if I really wanted one). I just can’t kiss one that smokes.

5. A Physical Connection: Ah, the great differentiator. My mind has a habit of drilling down to the essence of what makes something stand out. I was raised to believe that you seek out someone in life to be with as an extension of the family you are already born into. Of course, in my teenage mind, the physical obligations of a marriage seemed contradictory to that line of thinking – so you add this person to your family except you have sex with them? Seems weird and metaphorically incestuous. However, I think a sexual relationship is quite important (at least for myself) if you’re going to be bound to the Earthly plane for 70+ years. Judging from my more liberated friends, sexual attraction is relatively easy to find and I think that’s probably true. Surface quality is the fastest thing to identify, especially with the Internet’s one billion profile pictures. Unfortunately, many are false advertising for the empty containers they merely decorate.

Despite the accumulations of this list, I still can’t help but think I am missing something. That unknown factor. I am hesitant to call it “supernatural” or “extrasensory,” but I do know that I’ve met people who satisfy all of these criteria and still my mountain within is not moved. The heart is a fickle invention and it excels at cryptography.

Damn you, human heart.

War of the Roses

I’ve been to Portland (Oregon) on occasion and I have to say it has become one of my most beloved places to visit. It has decent public transit, a lot of character for a smaller city, and a lively art scene.

It’s also billed as “The City of Roses” due to a long association with growing the flower and a large test garden on the western edge of the municipality. I was there in 2011, and on that trip I noticed that even the police cars were decorated with roses. This really made me wonder: can anyone take the police force seriously with such dainty imagery? I mean really, I look at it and the first scenario that comes to my head is:

“Drop your weapon and come out with your hands up!
Or, we are sending in a florist.”

Portland Po-Po: Offering Hostage Crisis Resolution and Floral Delivery 24-7.

Portland Po-Po: Offering Hostage Crisis Resolution and Floral Delivery 24-7.

In The Company of Donuts

This morning, I sought emotional solace in a complimentary, office donut.

For whatever reason, I had a mood swing last night about being single and nearing 40 faster than a bowling ball toward so many standing pins. The feeling lingered well into my morning commute. And as I now stood there in the break room, I stared at this maple-iced confection knowing it would never reject my surly advances. It would remain inert to my bad jokes. Yet if only it could engage me in a fierce political debate, make a wisecrack about vehicular decapitation, or critique science fiction movies with swift and ruthless judgment – I would have found “The One”.

But alas, it was just a donut.

And I destroyed it with my digestive juices like so many that had come before it.

mapledonut

Dating Websites and their Mysterious Powers

So I recently signed up for a dating website (again), and as part of my indoctrination, they had me fill out some data. As you can see below, this particular website has the power to make me invisible to straight people. I just wanted you to know that because so many of my family and friends are straight and now we won’t be seeing each other again.

Ever.

If I was a psychiatrist…

I saw this photo on the Huffington Post the other day…

And all I could think to myself was, “I need to be a psychiatrist because this is the couch I would ask my patients to lay on and tell me their problems.”

Can you imagine someone going into their history with drugs while an awkward tiger face stares off into the distance next to them? I would love to get tiger-phobics in my office too. How great would that be?

My next thought to myself was, “You are a cruel human being, sir. Absolutely cruel.”

Pepper Grenade (In My Mouth)

Had a salad for lunch today
“Delicious, it was” as Yoda would say
Full of green lettuce and yummy Caesar dressing
I may be agnostic but this salad was a blessing

But that was until the lunch hour passed
And I was back at my desk and feeling harassed
By the shrapnel of greens caught in my teeth
Enough in there to make my own Christmas wreath

As I cleaned my fangs with my trusty tongue
Something came loose, from a crevice it flung
Harmless and small I decided to bite
But, to my horror, something wasn’t quite right

You see, it was a particle of black pepper and if you’ve done this you know
This speck is a grenade with a most violent show
And now my palate feels like Full Metal Jacket (or a theater of pain)
This small piece of seasoning is the reason I’m insane

<dramatic bow>

The Pressing Question on Everyone’s Mind?

So I was reading this gruesome story last night about an LGTB activist who shot someone at the Family Research Council. Take a gander at this and let me know if you think this section ends a bit odd…

Conservative, Gay Rights Groups Spar Over Shooting

As authorities revealed details about the Family Research Council shooting, the head of the influential conservative organization blamed the attack on “reckless rhetoric,” but then delivered his own politically-charged remark, saying critics gave the accused gunman “a license to shoot an unarmed man.”

Tony Perkins’ comments Thursday fanned already-inflamed statements from both sides, tapped into deep divisions over abortion and gay marriage, and drew more finger-pointing.

Meanwhile, the accused shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins II, was ordered held without bond on accusations he opened fire a day earlier inside the lobby of the council’s headquarters. Corkins, whose parents said he strongly supported gay rights, had a backpack full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and a box of ammunition when he said words to the effect of “I don’t like your politics” and shot a security guard, authorities said.

The guard was shot in the left arm but nonetheless managed to help take down the gunman, preventing what the police said could have been a deadly attack.

It wasn’t immediately clear why Corkins, 28, had the chicken sandwiches.

 

Of course. The pressing question on everyone’s mind: Why the chicken sandwiches? After all, why shoot somebody when you have a delicious blend of herbs and spices in your backpack? The horror.

When the carpet doesn’t match the drapes…

So last night, I open my Chrome browser and navigate to the Google News page. This is the image/headline I am greeted with:

Can you believe this shit?

Immediately, I assume the lottery winner is some poor woman who has apparently been involved in a domestic dispute. And then I start thinking, “Jeez, maybe you should’ve waited to claim your prize when you had access to some foundation and some blush? And even so, why doesn’t she look happy? Even with a shiner, I’d be wearing a shit-eating grin that says ‘Guess what sombitch is gon’ regret punchin’ me in the face?'”

Well, it turns out the headline and the photo aren’t related at all (no surprise). I imagine Google just has some random photo swapping algorithm which cycles different photos on the news home page. I encountered a similar situation a few months back when dictator Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed in Libya and the whole thing was caught on tape. Before the online video began, a message came up at the bottom of the window that said:

Your video: “Gaddafi Lynched by Mob” will resume in 20 seconds after this advertisement…

And then they played a commercial for Carpet Fresh.

Because, you know, there is nothing I associate with vigilante justice more than covering up the odor of cat dander.