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).

 

Advertisements

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)

Why bother with a Garage or the Sale?

Seattle has a preponderance of lazy people who put their shit on the curb or sidewalk because they don’t want to take it to a thrift shop or a disposal center.

Peep this genius move by some dumb ass who apparently forgot about something called THE WEATHER:

tvb

I especially like the note which says, “It DOES WORK! :)” As if that is going to fool someone who can clearly see this unit has soaked in a day’s worth of rain. Way to go, Einstein. Now it’s useless to everyone.

Nary a block away sat this hollowed-out box spring which the homeless in my neighborhood (along with some woodland creatures) have conveniently converted into a cupboard.

bedI don’t know if you can see it in this photo, but those are actual groceries in there. Fruit, bread and other items. And they weren’t even rotten yet.

So at least someone had the foresight to re-purpose this wanton act of sloth. I might note this bed base has been leaned up against this fence for almost 2 months. And I know that because I’ve walked past it a million times on my way to the library.

Prince

On the late evening of April 19, I had a most wondrous experience…

I saw the artist that I’ve always known as Prince perform live in Seattle at a small club tucked into the pocket of Pike Place Market. It was an intimate venue that barely holds 1,200 people, but it was filled to the brim and the air was heavy with humidity and expectation.

I never thought I would see a massive musical legend from my childhood in such close proximity. Capturing glances of his smirks, his ominous stares, and his serious side turning to smiles when the crowd reacted to his amazing musicality and off-the-cuff commentary. It was a dream come true, and although he mostly played newer material which I did not recognize, his dedication and versatility were nothing short of jaw-dropping. Flitting from guitar, to microphone, to keyboards like a humming bird sampling all varieties of melodic nectar, he showcased the wide range of talents which first catapulted him to stardom in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He wore a scarlet and gold ensemble (with matching headband) that strongly invoked the memory of Jimi Hendrix – particularly during the vast guitar solos which reached out far and wide like dragon wings.

PrinceLOL

Then, the powerful stage lights dimmed, and a back-lit Prince sang “Purple Rain” through a lavender haze created by two stage columns that doubled as fog machines. He dedicated the song to the memory of those lost during the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this week. The ballad united the room and everyone sang along like a heavenly choir bound to the Earth by gravity alone. He extended the coda several times and the experience seemed to last almost 15 minutes. Shortly after, he teased the crowd with snippets of hits that would not be seen tonight, including 10 seconds of  the introduction to “I Would Die 4 U” which elicited a roar of excitement. However, once I heard the opening chords of “When Doves Cry” – that violent scribble of guitar – I prayed that he would play the entire song. I never thought I would get to sing a long with a live Prince to the lyrics:

Dream if you can a courtyard, an ocean of violets in bloom
Animals strike curious poses, they feel the heat, the heat between me and you…

But I did. And my friends and I danced like witch doctors purging a poison from our bodies. It was celebration in its purest and most primal form.

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of music and its ability to alter emotional states and invoke memories. Tonight, however, brought it to a higher octave of understanding: It brought me back to my youth when I would watch Prince on Friday Night Videos while perched on the carpet of our living room floor. It put me back into the car rides to school when his songs would be on the radio and my sister would be driving with her fingerless gloves and the frost of the Iowa winter decorated the windshield with frozen spirals. It recalled school dances, the summer county fair, and every other event cataloged by my mind where Prince was the soundtrack of the moment.

It made me appreciate the gift of someone sharing their talent with the world. A talent which gave me some of the most beautiful bookmarks for my memory.

My Prison Is Made of Full Spectrum Sunlight

All my life I’ve been a nocturnal creature. As I unravel my memory, I can look back and recall that I have always loved the night with its palpable silence and soft, velveteen darkness.

Rousseau

“La Bohémienne endormie (The Sleeping Gypsy)”
by Henri Rousseau. 1897.

Most of my friends were overjoyed for me when I accepted a daytime position in 2011, however I often feel as though I regret that decision. They said my dating life would improve and my social calendar would expand, but they really haven’t. I can certainly now attend more “happy hours” after work, but I often feel too tired to fully engage with people at these events, and most of the time I am watching the clock so I can get home and go to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s like subjecting myself to a government-imposed curfew – as if I live in a police state.

Although I cannot specify exactly what it is about the night that I find so alluring, I can definitely speculate…

I do know I enjoy the fact that planet feels a little bit more mine; I don’t have to share as many things like road space, grocery store lines, or internet bandwidth. I can open my windows without the constant droning of Seattle’s snarled traffic or the occasional ambulance wail. When driving, I can hit all the green lights if I time it just right. No stopping. No waiting. The quietness of each shadow is a balm and I can hear my thoughts like greedy dwarves working deep in the mines. The absence of light relaxes my tired eyes, whereas the daggers of sun feel like blasts of hot sand. After midnight, I feel like my mind is fully ripe – pregnant with mental juices and surreal visions for illustration or forging on my word anvil.

There isn’t much company, save for the moon: a friendly nightwatchman perched in the sky. Sometimes he’s wrapped in a gauze of clouds like a harmless drop of sun tucked in a cotton ball. On nights when the overcast skies of the Pacific Northwest hang like a ghostly ceiling over this city, the ambient light of the power grid echos off of it like an old electric blanket.

Yes, I miss the night. It feels like a beautiful language I once knew by heart but have now forgotten thanks to the processes of age and evaporation. Nowadays, I feel forced to sleep through its dark magnificence like a parent who has to work two full-time jobs to raise a family, and while honoring those commitments never gets to see their children grow-up into amazing human beings.

I often feel the best things in life pass us by while we are living by the rules of others.

A chain that runs from 8 to 5 can end up binding an entire life.