Monday, November 14, 2016

A sad end to an historic campaign.

A sad end to an historic campaign.

The night started out in such hope.  The Jersey City Ramada Inn had been booked for weeks; every room filled with hundreds of loyal and hopeful supporters of the Ancient One.  In the Magnolia Ballroom C, preparations for the huge victory celebration for the election of Cthulhu had gone on for weeks.  James Carville, campaign manager, said no expense had been spared for what all knew would be the party of all parties once his candidate was elected.  Every expert agreed, and all predicted this victory celebration would be the most blood splattered, orgiastic and profane celebration since the great Prague infant slaughter of 1132.  Smiles, at least at 6:00 PM, were wide on every face.

High above the ballroom floor, thousands of gore filled balloons, carefully harvested from the corpses of unbaptized youths, dangled from the gold coffered ceiling.  They stood in anticipation for the fateful moment Wolf Blitzer was sure to announce the Ancient One had reached the coveted 270 electoral college votes and then be released in a sanguine shower on the writhing naked masses below.  All were sure it was just a matter of time for the blessed event to occur. 

Coven 32 from Elm City, North Carolina were already stripping down and covering themselves in sacrificial goat blood.  Their high priestess busily finished drawing the cemetery ash pentagram on the shiny faux-marble floor required for the ritual planned once they were over the top.  Amidst the celebratory cries of “No Lives Matter”, “We are going to make America Awful Again!” and, “I’m with the Ancient One, who none dare speak his name,” cocktails were imbibed, canap├ęs consumed and a wonderful time was had by all.  And then…., it all started to go wrong.

By 9:00 PM, and Florida was still too close to call, nervousness started to fill the hall, and the anxiety level of partygoers could be felt rising like a cold, clammy fog wafting in from an icy sea.  Things had taken a turn for the ugly.

“I just don’t get it,” Sharon Simmons, High Priestess of the Oregon chapter of Satanic Sisters for the vile one, said.  “We had all of the right messaging for this election.  The people claimed they were choosing between evils this time.  Well…, who is more evil than us?  Hillary wanted to allow abortion ONLY up to birth!  HA!  Amateurs…, Cthulhu had a platform that was Pro-Choice up to the age of 22!”

At 10:30, when North Carolina was called for Donald Trump, the light murmurs of worry from earlier in the evening broke into a steady roar of panic. 

Arnold Fishbein, serial killer and arsonist, as well as campaign finance chair, put on a brave face, but, it was obvious something was wrong. 

“Look…, Cthulhu still has a path!  If we can lock up those Midwest states, it is sure to be a sweep,” he said.  “Voters really connected to the Ancient One’s message of complete and total destruction of all life, manmade structures and beauty.  We need to get America working again, right?  What better jobs program could there be than wholesale slaughter and rampant carpet bombing and unrestrained looting and arson?” 

By 11:30 PM, the grim mood in the room had dissolved into an ocean of tragic weeping.   Gerard Depuncle, Communications director, just sat in the corner of the ballroom shaking his head. 

“I just don’t understand,” he said.  “Voters were obviously attracted to a campaign of negativity this cycle, all of the polls showed it.  How could our last minute, 24 hour, live feed of Kitten Vivisections not have reached its target audience?  What could be more negative than that?”

Fredrick Ambossa, chief domestic advisor to Cthulhu, was equally troubled by the turn of events.  “We really needed to up our messaging on our immigration policy.  I just don’t know why we didn’t connect.  Trump wanted a wall, ha!  Our plan for a two-thousand mile moat of boiling virgin blood, ringed by a whirling steel barbed wire fence of flame surely should have caught on!  For God’s sake, we had plans to not only deport, but to murder every man woman and child in the country!  How more hardcore can you get than that?”

At 2:30 AM, the ballroom erupted into applause and hooting when the Ancient One emerged onto the stage.  Despite the clapping, tears streamed down the faces of the loyal supporters still in attendance.  Cthulhu had conceded.  It was over. 

Cthulhu tried to be upbeat, but, defeat saturated his body like a stew of boiled rotting donkey carcasses.  His normally flailing and animated tentacles now hung loose from his fanged jaws, like overcooked spaghetti.  His message was uplifting to the crowd, but, once he slithered offstage and ascended the escalator to the mezzanine, the stunned and shocked supporters started to leave.  It was a sad end to such a noble campaign.

“This is crap!” Samantha Fredricks screamed as her pallid, death-like countenance was streaked with black mascara from her tears.   “This country is so backward.  This was the year.  After 200 years we were finally going to elect an immortal Demon God from the black, infinite void of madness!  Now, we are just going backwards.  It was supposed to be his turn.”

“Yeah, America doesn’t deserve Cthulhu!” Brian Stilton said as he adjusted his knit hat down over his multi-pierced ears.  “Who could not be moved by the Ancient Ones call for carnage, madness and endless murder?  You heard what he said during his concession!  He could have united this country in an orgy of utter destruction and mayhem, but now…, it was all for nought.”

“So, are you going to now go out on a rampage of pillaging and looting?” I asked.

“Nah,” Brian said.  “That was what we were going to do if we win.”

Samantha interrupted, as her face dropped, “Yeah, this has screwed up my plans too.  I was already slated to be slaughtered for the great sacrifice to the desolation of abomination once Cthulhu won, but now, I guess I will have to go into work tomorrow.  My spleen will just remain in my body after all  — unchewed.”

“So, what are you going to do instead?”

“I suppose I will just go Netflix and Chill.  Perhaps binge on “Orange is the new Black”.

“A wise choice,” I said with a knowing grin. 

It was a tragic and sad ending to a noble campaign.  Once again, it has been shown, the system is rigged.   Third party candidates just cannot win. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thank you, Jimmy!

Ah…, the Sunday before the election.  Football is on television, pundits are in histrionics on the tube and perhaps a steak is grilling in the back yard, wafting its delicious carnivorous siren call through the window.  The first crispy crackle of true autumn weather has arrived, with a pleasant dip in the temperature, and everyone’s Facebook’s feeds are filled with vile and increasingly hysterical hyperbolic garbage.   It’s November!

Somewhere between all of the “Lock her up” or “Orange Hitler” posts, even a casual, non-political observer must realize one thing is crystal clear.  Come Wednesday morning, nearly half of the country is going to be convinced the nation has driven off of the edge and a bleak, dystopian future awaits.  The other half will be convinced that a Golden horizon of infinite bliss beckons since the forces of evil and darkness have been beaten back into the abyss.

And…, as always, both sides will be wrong. 

Our Founding Fathers, in their infinite and often overlooked wisdom, foresaw the situation we are in today.  Contrary to the caterwauling and handwringing from the Media, this is NOT the dirtiest election in our history.  (Google the elections of 1800 or 1824 for good examples of truly DIRTY elections).  As a side note, one can only imagine what Andrew Jackson would have done with a Twitter account.  I would venture a guess, he would have made even Donald Trump blush.   Dirty campaigns are as American as apple pie, and come Tuesday night, like it or not, we are going to elect a President, just as we have every four years since our founding.    This year, as every election year, we will hear the phrase “this is the most important election of our lives!”

But, is it true?  No.  True, elections have consequences, and, who wins does matter — a little, but, the truth of the matter is, it does not matter a lot.  And we should all get down on our knees and thank God for that.  As the oldest Republic in the world, we do know how to do this well. 

If Donald Trump is elected, fascism is not going to take over the United States.  There are not going to be brown shirts rounding up Mexicans for deportation in January and Muslims are not going to be sent to concentration camps. 

If Hillary Clinton is elected, America is not going to turn into Venezuela and Che Guevara is not going to be placed on the Supreme Court as the Feds seize control of the economic levers of power. 

We have a system set up to stop stupidity.  We have a Legislative branch, with a house and a senate, designed to slow down the workings of government.  We have a court system to prevent unconstitutional acts by the other branches.  Regardless of party affiliation, institutions guard their power and prerogatives and will check the other branches.  Imagine a President Trump trying to impose a Muslim ban on people coming into the country — that will be thrown out in 2 seconds.  Imagine a President Clinton selling influence in the White House — that will be investigated by congress in another 2 seconds.  Our constitutional system, with all of its shortcomings and flaws, has been designed very well.  We survived a Civil War, 2 world wars and several depressions.  We can survive Clinton or Trump.  In fact, I am positive we will survive either one quite well.

No matter who wins on Tuesday, though, there are lessons to be learned.  If Hillary wins, I hope that she and her followers rethink their compulsive urge, almost like an ocd twitch, to centralize authority and control in the Federal Government.  Any such instinct should have the following thought experiment attached — would my opinion change if it were President Trump wielding this power?  If the answer is yes, then perhaps you shouldn’t do it.  Any theory of governing that assumes the other side will never win again is flawed in the extreme.  The same goes for those idiotic Republican senators who say they will never confirm ANY Supreme Court justice is Clinton is elected.  Would they feel the same if it were President Trump? 

If Trump wins, and there is no scenario I can foresee where his win is not narrow, then I hope he and his supporters look at why it was close.  Clinton should have been easy to beat this year.  America is not a one-party state.  She is not a particularly engaging campaigner and, as we all know, she comes with significant baggage. 

History too would lean towards a Republican victory this year.  We tend to switch the party of the President, on average, every 8 years.  Every poll shows that most think the country is on the wrong track.  All things being equal, the Republicans should have waltzed into office in 2016.  It is clear that will not happen.  A Trump victory, if it happens, will only occur on a very narrow path. 

The reasons will be clear.  You cannot tell Hispanic and Latino Americans they are rapists and murderers and then be surprised when they actively vote against you.  People tend to not vote for people who do not like them.   You cannot have someone who is undisciplined and so incredibly sexist in his behavior and not expect women, (50% of the population last time I checked) react.  I know all about Bill Clinton, my conservative friends, and I agree he is a pig, but, Bill ain’t running.  Hillary is.  And, “he did it too” arguments are rarely convincing.  Republicans, going forward, are going to need to clean this up.  There is nothing about the concepts of more freedom, less regulation, reasonable taxes and pro-private sector growth policies that cannot appeal to all races, sexes or creeds.  Good ideas win.  Sadly, this has not been an election of good ideas and that is why it is close. 

I hope the media learns something too.  One thing is also very clear, no one trusts them anymore.  Whatever trust they had, has been squandered.  Shrill hand wringing and obvious bias has tainted them beyond repair.  Coupling that with a technological revolution (the internet) and their doom is assured.  No one cares about them anymore. 

In fact, elites of all ranks; business, media and political, should learn a big lesson from this election.  People are no longer following their lead.  A bubble has formed, and the elite are in it.  Trump, if he does win, will be seen as the giant pin to burst that bubble.   If he does lose, it will be because of his personal flaws and not because of his revolt against the elite. 

We as individuals should also pause.  Elections are fun, of course, and there is always a bit of excitement in the horse race.  It is always entertaining to claim that if the other side wins, Western Civilization will collapse and fire and brimstone will rain down from heaven and destroy all life as we know it.  We do not live in a subtle age, after all, and it is great riot to get swept away in the moment.  But, there is a time to stop all of that.  That time is Wednesday. 

We must resist the urge to overgeneralize and question the motives of the other sides supporters.  Everyone voting for Hillary Clinton is not a Communist or part of some bizarre Satanic conspiracy against the United States.  Everyone voting for Trump is not a reactionary racist wanting to return slavery to the country.  That is hyperbolic in the extreme, and, not only not helpful but not even close to being true.  I firmly believe that Clinton, or Trump, supporters all want the nation to succeed and for all citizens in the country to prosper.  There are just different approaches the parties take in attempting to come to the same result.   It is hard sometimes to back down from defcon 1, but we must.  People can have pure motives, but wrong ideas.   Being wrong is not the same as being evil.   

But, before the election, and either disaster or glory awaits your side, I propose that everyone pause, on this glorious autumn Sunday, and pay homage to possibly our greatest founding father, James Madison.  In that diminutive body of his was packed more brainpower than probably exists in all of our political class (democrat or republican), and we were most blessed to have had him as the father of our constitution.  He recognized the fallibility of man, and planned for bad governments, not good.  It was a good bet, as it turns out, and his pessimism about the nature of man has served or nation well.

The structure he laid out in our Constitution is the reason our system works so slowly — and well.  We may not be able to “do” anything quickly, but, that cuts both ways.  We are also not able to do anything stupid quickly either, and for that we should thank him every day. 

So, tonight, after dinner, I am going to uncork a nice bottle of claret (an appropriate beverage of choice for James Madison) and drink a glass in his memory.  Little Jimmy, you were a man of great foresight.  A grateful nation owes you much. 

Happy Election Day!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Red vs. Blue

As we all stand transfixed, our mouths agape in horror, our jaws frozen open in astonishment at the slow motion car accident happening before our eyes, perhaps, we should look back at history, put things into perspective, and take comfort from the experiences of our ancestors.  The wisdom of the ages often can be a guide.  Or…, upon reflection, perhaps not.   Sadly, in many ways, the more things change, the more things remain the same.

There is a very prevalent myth that has deeply embedded itself into modern society today.  Like the most pernicious of weeds that choke your garden and kill your tomatoes, its roots are deep and its life squelching poisonous leaves spread over everything.  This fantastical belief is almost universally accepted, and, like most other self-serving mythologies, it is almost completely false.  It is, of course, the ever popular unquestioned faith in the upward progress of history.  We need to break free of this myth.

We all know how the myth goes.  In fact, we know it so well, we could state it like a creed.  It does not quite begin with “Once upon a time” but, it might as well.  It is just as fictitious as Red Riding Hood or Rumpelstiltskin.   At its core, this sacred belief holds, as an unquestioned truth, the idea that modern people are far more sophisticated than those of the past, both recent and ancient.  At first glance, it seems credible.  Now that we have iPhones, Wi-Fi, cable TV and Wikipedia, it seems reasonable to think we have “evolved” into rational beings that will inevitably make rational decisions.  We, unlike our benighted ancestors, are not as subjectable to the follies and whims of popular passions as they once were.    It is bunk, of course.

Although I do not buy this sacred fable, I understand why we maintain it, and find it is a useful fiction to continue.  Something does not have to be necessarily “accurate” in order to be “true”, or even better, useful.  And, of course, many things that are untrue, have very practical purposes (people are basically good, good luck is made by effort, virtue wins in the end, etc…).  Civilization requires these “myths” be largely accepted in order for the gears of society to continue moving.  However, sometimes, a non-jaundiced eye needs to be glanced at reality in order to determine some kind of truth.  This election is one of those times. 

Looking back at history, in AD 532, in Constantinople, the largest and most sophisticated city in the world at that time, an orgy of bloodletting broke out and left hundreds dead and the city in flames.  Two competing factions, the Blues and the Greens, rioted for weeks and nearly brought down the Emperorship of Justinian and threw the Eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire into near civil war and the brink of collapse.   

History records this event as a political battle, although, as a dictatorship, there were not really “politics” in the true sense of the word as we understand it.  That did not mean “politics” did not exist, of course.  Politics always exist, even in dictatorships.  Perhaps, even more so in such systems.  More centralized power yields more politics, as politics has greater and greater consequences.   This conflict, bloody and hate filled as it was, was, amazingly, centered around the team rivalries of Chariot racers (Blues and Greens). 

Now, as odd as this weird blast from the past seems to us now, I find this obscure historical event to be somewhat instructive to what we are seeing happening currently.  People of the 21st century are not really that different than people of the 6th century.  Tribalism has society by the throat as much in Cleveland Ohio in 2016, as it did in Constantinople in 532. 

Of all of the increasingly depressing and cynicism-inducing turn of events of this political season, and there have been so many, the 180 degree turns made by Republicans and Democrats on a host of issues has been startling, as well as disheartening.  If there is one thing our country appears to have in tremendous quantity now, it is hypocrisy.  We have tons of it!   Examples are many, here are but a few:

  •      Democrats who claimed Bill Clinton’s private sexual misdemeanors were not to be used as a political tool against him, have now become enraged by Trump’s similar (although not as severe) behaviors.

  •     Republicans who were embarrassed and outraged by President Clinton’s sexual-predator-like behavior in office, now sound like DNC apparatchiks, circa 1998, when defending Trump.

  •    Julian Assange, hero to the left, and the worst traitor on earth to the right, now is vilified by his former defenders (Democrats) and celebrated by his former attackers (Republicans).

  •     Republicans were hawks, but now are doves, and Democrats vice-versa.  Who knows who believes what now?

I could go on and on.  Sadly, I can no longer determine where ideology ends and sheer tribalism begins anymore.  The veil, if there ever was one, has been shredded beyond repair. 

There was a time when it was the Democratic Party who were the party of the “big man” theory of governing.  It was they who thought, wrongfully in my opinion, that all our country needed was the “right” person in office to wield the levers of power to “make America great” again.   Big programs needed to be pushed through to do big things and, if people don’t like it, well…, they will, eventually.   Or so the theory went.

It also used to be the Republican party who advocated limiting the size and scope of government.  That GOP, now seemingly faded into history, would have strongly resisted the sort of enormous, big government power seizures now being suggested by Candidate Trump.  Now, all of a sudden, it is Democrats who talk about overreaching Federal power.  Now it is Republicans who are pushing through an agenda that is, frankly, Orwellian at times.   It is enough to make one’s head spin.

I am (or was) a Republican based on a few basic core ideas, one of which is limiting Federal power and returning it to the states where it belongs.  The power of the executive branch also is unbalanced, and congress should reassert its rightful role as written in the constitution.  That was Madison’s intention.  Congress, being voted for every 2 years, is going to be more responsive to the popular will.   The Senate will cool things down, and, gridlock (God bless it) will keep truly bad ideas from taking hold.  We truly were blessed by the genius of James Madison – take that Hamilton!

Regulations need to be reviewed and overhauled to be made simpler and less burdensome and perhaps been reviewed by congress, and free trade should be our basic default position.  Taxes should be low and broad, designed to fund the operations of government and not engage in some sort of “nudge” philosophy that always leads to mischief and unintentional consequences.   Save us from Podesta and his infernal nudging. 

Traditionally, those were core beliefs of the GOP, hence, the reason they always got my vote. 

I see NO party promoting these ideas anymore.  Not even close approximations of those ideas.  If, going forward, it is just going to be a competition between alternating Rightist Big Governments and Leftist Big Governments, well…, that is sort like having to choose between Shepherd’s Pie and Haggis — forever.  Surely there must be another menu option at this restaurant. 

It is a strange year when I can honestly see the logic behind voting for any number of candidates.    Well…, almost.  Jill Stein at least is so wacky and insane as to not be worthy of serious consideration.   Clarity of any sort is to be savored — thanks Jill!

1.       Trump – Pro – theoretically conservative, Supreme Court nominees, yada yada yada. 
2.       Trump – Con – who knows what he ACTUALLY believes, seems unhinged at times, erratic, embarrassing reality show will go on and on for years.
3.       Hillary – Pro – she may be a crook, but she is NOT unhinged.  In fact, many of these Wikileaks discoveries have actually made me worry about her less.  It appears she doesn’t believe any of that Bernie nonsense either, and, although crooked, she seems rational and relatively centered. 
4.       Hillary – Con – long-term leftist, Supreme court nominees, definitely believes in moving the government in the opposite direction in every area I think it needs to go. 
5.       Johnson – Pro – generally holds the view of the role of government I do.
6.       Johnson – Con – 0% chance of winning.  Essentially a vote for Hillary. 

It is a conundrum, but, you gotta vote, right?  So, what do you do?

One thing I hope people do is to question their own beliefs and views closely before they make their choice.  I plan to do so myself.  Everyone should ask whether they hold a particular view on a policy or subject just because their “team” (Red or Blue) pushes it, or is it something they believe independently?  Everyone should pause and ask what happens when the other side takes power (and it always happens, eventually).  Are they comfortable with the other side wielding the powers they just gave their candidate?  People rarely think about that.   We should not blindly support the Reds or the Blues just because they are our “tribe”.  This sort of thinking leads to catastrophe. 

Tribalism, in all of its pernicious forms, must be resisted at all costs.  Our first President, and our best, warned us about this danger very well!

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”  -  George Washington.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Let us welcome our Barbarian overlords!

At times like this, I often wonder exactly when it was that citizens living at the end of the Roman Empire realized it was truly over.   There must have been some pretty obvious signs of the rot and decay before the final collapse, but then, as now, I am sure such signs were ignored until it was too late.  Humans have not changed that much over the centuries, really, and I am sure it was possible to look past such signs of impending disaster for decades until eventually, such signs were impossible to ignore.  The natural ability of man to ignore obvious ugly truths staring them in the face is one of our species most amazing skills.  Things are no different now as they were in 476.

After all, Rome wasn’t burned in a day.  But still, there must have been some point when, even the most optimistic and rosey scenario minded individuals got a sense that things had reached a tipping point, beyond which, there was no turning back.  Are we at such a time now?  I often wonder…, but, if Rome hasn’t fallen quite yet, it is hard to ignore the smell of the charcoal starting to smolder. 

This did not happen overnight.  Our decline has been bubbling for quite some time now, like a kettle left on the stove and forgotten about until it bursts into flames and sets the house on fire.  Perhaps we are finally reaching our Visigoth moment.   Unlike our Roman counterparts from 1,700 years ago, however, we managed to burn our own Nation down in advance.

 Maybe this is not a bad thing.  A silly people need correcting sometimes, and has there ever been a sillier display than this last year?   We deserve what is happening to us.  We asked for it.  We got down on our knees and begged for this, and now, the bill has come due. 

I had always hoped that, if or when our nation eventually goes into irreversible decline, it would at least be dignified.  Now it appears, even that final flickering hope has been snuffed.   The jury is in.  The funeral pyre of our republic will have as its last fuel, the spectacle of the 2016 race.  We are going to go out with a whimper and not a bang.   A fitting tribute to the final Jerry Springerification of our culture.

Think about what we are discussing now.  Wrap your head around what the actual “debate” raging in the country is.  With the world flying apart, and the 70-year-old vision of a united Europe dissolving, and Russia returning to its expansionist authoritarianism roots, and the economy bifurcating more and more into a bi-polar reality between haves and have-nots, all the while Isis imposes a nightmarish vision on the Middle East that would have caused Torquemada to blush, we have devolved into this latest mud filled political debate between Clinton and Trump.  Wow! 

Rather than fight this slide into the oblivion, maybe we should embrace it.  After all, we brought this horror, as almost all horrors are, upon ourselves.  We should enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Being a small “c” conservative has its consolations, as well as its odd ticks.  One of those consolations is a predilection for a deep ceded, bone-chilling, morose pessimism about the world.  There are those who see the glass as half full, there are those who see the glass as half empty and there are those, of whom I am a member, that wait for the empty glass to fall off the shelf, shatter into a million pieces and sever an artery in your foot, thus requiring a visit to the hospital.  I plead guilty as charged. 

Civilizational pessimism is fun sometimes.  It is always enjoyable to wallow in the pre-glow of the apocalyptic fires of society’s destruction.  One of the reasons it is such a joy to be a pessimist about such things is, history normally proves you right.  It really requires an almost complete anesthetizing of your cerebral cortex to remain optimistic about human endeavors over the long run (or even short), and if you have any lingering doubt about this dark theory, just review the last 12 months. 

So I say let us stop worrying and lift a glass of ale to our future Visigothic overlords.  Come Conan and all of your buddies, the Empire is ripe for the taking.   We made it so easy for you.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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