Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Notes 2012

Notes to Democrats

You do NOT have a mandate – You won by a far smaller margin in the popular vote than in 2008 (7% vs. 2%, at latest count). You barely cleared 50% of the popular vote. That is not a mandate; it’s a squeaker.

What will be your excuse now? – Every time you were questioned about where the “change” was, you blamed it on the obstructionist Congress. While they indeed share the blame, they’re still there. The composition of the Congress has not changed significantly. Please explain to me using nothing but logic and common sense how things will be different now. NOTE: If you tell me Obama couldn’t be bold in term one because it would have hurt his chance at re-election, then you’ve told me everything I need to know about the man and his priorities. Between now and when we reach the “fiscal cliff”, the President might want to read up on people like Bill Clinton and Lyndon Johnson…you know, people who actually knew how to get things done. He might also try to develop a backbone.

Notes to Republicans

Dump your leadership – McConnell, Boehner and Cantor have gotten you nowhere.

Ignore the fringe – Democrats don’t have to run to the fringe during their primary process. You continue to do so, leaving Democrats with an arsenal full of sound bites that keep getting you creamed in general elections. Those people are not going to vote for the Democrats in a general election, and simply make you look crazy.

Stop with the Bible-thumping – This is another aspect of your party that gets you nowhere, and many of us are sick and tired of it.

Amend your vocabulary – Don’t ever say the word “rape” again…ever.

Immigrants – They’re here…get over it. If you keep alienating them, you will keep losing.

Misogyny – Stop it. Just stop it. I’m a man, and I find it completely offensive.

Demographics – Start trying to learn something about it.

Note to Linda McMahon

Please go away…FOREVER

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Vote Is NEVER Wasted

It is Tuesday, November 6, 2012, 6:15 A.M., and I have just returned from casting my ballot for Gary Johnson for President. I am filled with joy. I feel this not just because I voted for candidate whose views most closely match mine, but rather because I was mindful of, and thankful for, a most sacred right – a right many in this world may never have.

I have written before in these pages that the foundation of our government - what sets us apart – is that ours is based on the concept, established in our Constitution, of “consent of the governed”. As citizens, we give that consent via the ballot box. I gave my consent this morning, and I did so by voting for someone, and not against someone. I have many friends who tell me I wasted my vote. While I understand that Mr. Johnson will not be elected, these friends don’t seem to understand the larger point. Friends on the left tell me I may help elect Mitt Romney. I had one friend, channeling Bill Maher, accuse me of Naderism (NOTE: Ralph Nader did not cost Al Gore the election – Al Gore did that to himself by running a horrible campaign and making the mind-numbing decision to distance himself from Bill Clinton). Friends on the right tell me that voting for Johnson means I’m helping Barack Obama win re-election. This line of thinking is short-sighted Kool-Aid drinking, and is exactly the sort of thinking that keeps us locked in a two-party system where the Democratic Party is increasingly indistinguishable from the Republican Party when it lies to us about war and consistently infringes on our civil liberties.

If I am traveling in the middle of nowhere and my only meal options are McDonalds and Burger King, I am willing to choose between the lesser of two evils. I will never accept that in the voting booth. This morning, I voted with my conscience. In the words of one of my favorite philosophers, Vito Corleone, “for that I don’t apologize”. A vote made with one’s conscience is never a wasted vote.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Our National Disgrace

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending time with a friend who is an ex-Marine. This man turned down a scholarship to an Ivy League university and instead opted to serve his country in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was deployed to Somalia, and was stationed there during the Black Hawk Down incident. He later served a tour in Iraq and a tour in Afghanistan. I am very proud to know him. To the best of my knowledge, he suffered no long-term physical injury. While I am not professionally qualified to judge, it seems to me that, emotionally and psychologically, he is very well-adjusted. Considering the circumstances, I believe him to be one of the “lucky” ones.

Unfortunately, thousands of other current and former servicemen are not nearly as “lucky”. Beyond the thousands of young men and women who have given their lives, there are thousands more who literally gave parts of their bodies. Among those fortunate enough to return physically unscathed, there are thousands who bear the horrible emotional and psychological scars from their experience.  I know that there are some wonderful, private organizations trying to help these people. I suspect that the Veterans Administration at least does a decent job of dealing with the physical injuries suffered. I firmly believe our federal government as a whole has done a horrible job of addressing the emotional and psychological damage suffered and the concomitant problems these people face in adapting to life back home. I also believe that precious little is being done to prepare and help the families of these soldiers after their tours. This is an absolute disgrace – one that is completely ignored by our politicians in this election cycle.

As if this weren’t bad enough, what these people have endured was completely unnecessary, and the direct result of political fool’s errands. These fool’s errands were based on one man’s desire for revenge, and another man’s desire for war profiteering to benefit his cronies. To think that we could somehow impose, directly or indirectly, a democracy on Iraq was sheer lunacy from the beginning. I don’t have a graduate degree in history, but, unlike George W. Bush, I actually paid attention in high school. I know that the nation of Iraq is an artificial construct developed by the victors after World War One. Iraq, as we know it, was never suited to be a nation-state of any kind. With a populace comprised of Sunni and Shiite Arabs who detest each other, as well as Kurds who bear no ethnic relation to the Arabs, this area can never be an area of peaceful coexistence under one roof.  I’ll at least give credit to Joe Biden for recognizing this, and proposing a “tri-state solution” in 2008.

That’s where my credit to Joe Biden ends. When Biden and Obama say we’ll be out of Afghanistan in 2014, they are willfully lying to the American public. We’ll be there for many years to come, as will we be in Iraq. This is another exercise in futility. I never expected George W. Bush to know about the British experience in Afghanistan, but I admit I expected him to be somewhat knowledgeable about the Soviet experience there. Obama and Biden should know better, as I consider them to be somewhat smarter than Bush. The hope that we can somehow prop up any kind of centralized government (with or without Karzai) is sheer lunacy. This area is another nation-state that should never have been. These are tribal people whose fealty will always be to a tribal chief, and never to any kind of centralized government. Our mission there is completely wrong-headed.

How can people with no sense or understanding of history be allowed to lead us into these quagmires? For that matter, how can they get elected to high office? If Romney gets elected, how long do you think it will be before we deploy brave men and women into the Straits of Hormuz, because, for some reason, “it’s in our national interest”? How many of Romney’s sons will see action over there? I’m sick to death of hearing talk about “getting tough” from men who received multiple draft deferments.

This entire situation is a national disgrace. The bigger disgrace is that no one is talking about it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kickin' It Old School

I recently noticed that phrases such as “it wasn’t like that when I was a kid” roll off my tongue with increasing frequency. Those who know me will tell you that I have been in touch with my inner 85 year-old crotchety old man since I was rather young. This is true. And while it is true that I am fairly conservative in some ways, I am neither a reactionary nor a Luddite. I believe that the only constant in life is change. I applaud the various types of progress we’ve achieved in my lifetime. As a believer in the duality of all things, I recognize that progress can come with a down-side. I love the availability of 24-hour cable news, but recognize that it has left many of us with the attention span of a gnat. Cell phones are great, especially in the event of an emergency, yet have given us the huge problem of distracted drivers. Personal computers have broken down information and communication barriers, and also spawned identity theft and made life easier for pedophiles.

As I think about these dualities and about progress in general, I keep coming back to the notion that newer is not always better. Sometimes, the old way is still the best way. Two wonderful people serve as reminders to me that this is the case.

The first such individual is a Twitter mate of mine, @OTOOLEFAN. He is a fabulous writer (check him out at and all-around wit. He recently wrote a wonderful piece about razor blades. Yes, you heard me – razor blades. It turns out I’m not the only man tired of spending a small fortune on less-than-satisfactory razor blades. I’ve tried everything on the market, and have done so for years. I’ve tried electric shavers; with all due respect to Victor Kiam, they do NOT shave as close as a blade. The best conventional product I’ve used has been Gillette Fusion. It’s better than most of its competition, but one blade lasts me one week and costs approximately $4.00 each. Then I read OTOOLEFAN’s piece about razor blades and asked him for advice. At his behest, I purchased a razor from the Edwin Jagger Company. It is a simple, single-blade safety razor – the kind my grandfather used until the day he died. It is absolutely fabulous. Replacement blades, which last me for two weeks now, cost $.09 each. You can keep all the new fancy-schmancy razors on the market; I’m sticking with what ALWAYS worked best.

Most importantly, my mother, hands-down the smartest person on the planet, is a constant reminder to me that good, old-fashioned common sense always trumps everything else, even when it’s advertised as “new and improved”. If you’re one of those people who has jumped on the neti pot craze in the last few years, I applaud you for saving your money and staying off ineffective drugs – my mother was telling me about neti pots 30 years ago. Why? Because that’s what her mother and grandmother used.  If you’re the type of person who is always on a “diet” and finds that the diet never sticks, I’m not surprised. Starving your body of carbohydrates, or eating steak and eggs for breakfast every day will get you nowhere. The only people who benefit from these diets are the people who are selling these ideas to you. I stay in reasonably good shape, and not because I’m on a “diet” or because I’m a gym rat. It’s because I have a mother who told me a long time ago to eat what your grandparents ate – a healthy, balanced diet which includes the fat and carbohydrates that your body NEEDS.

So I’m gonna keep kickin’ it old school. Thanks, Mom!