She’s the One For Me

hill

I’ve considered myself a Democrat since I was 11 years old. I have voted in four presidential elections so far in my life, and this year I’ll vote in my fifth. I’ve only voted in one primary (for President Obama in 2008) before, but today, I get to vote in a second, and I’m not afraid to say that #imwithher.

Here’s the thing. I wasn’t against Bernie primarying Clinton when he jumped in the race last year. He’s forced her, and the party, more to the left by sticking around and by winning. He’s brought a lot of important issues to the table. Remember the first few debates they had, where they actually debated policy, and we felt like it was the most amazing thing ever, especially compared to the shitshow the Republicans were doing? Remember, too, when Bernie dismissed the email scandal out-of-hand like the non-scandal it really is? Shit, Bernie sounded like quite a visionary for a while.

But then Bernie started to win, and the optics changed. Bernie the visionary faded out, and Bernie the candidate faded in, and those are two very different guys. Make no mistake. Bernie may portray himself as an outsider, and may even be one to a degree, but you don’t hold political office for 30 plus years without being a politician, and getting down in the mud. Once we started there, that’s when they lost me. Now, you might refute my statement and say, but Bernie sticks to his guns, but he’s slowly been attacking her more ad desperation sets in. It’s unfortunate.

How what really sealed it for me is the rise of the Bernie Bros and the campaign’s reaction to them. This whole movement of entitled white “progressives” has taken the best parts of the campaign and ruined them. They dismiss the heavy minority turnout in the states that Hillary has done well in and said it was irrelevant. They’ve championed the caucus, which is the least democratic way to pick a candidate there is. They’ve adopted some of the worse aspects of the right wing/tea party attacks on Hillary. They put labels on her and call her a sellout and a neo-liberal who hates America. The worst part is that instead of putting this crap in its place, the Bernie campaign has embraced it.Terrible. And given the reports that Bernie himself embraces it all, it makes the choice simple for me. 

Hillary Clinton is not the most ideal candidate anyone could ask for, but I think she will take the best parts of the past 8 years and keep it going forward. I don’t want a revolution. I want to take what we have and make it better for everyone. So that is why I will vote for her without any reservations. There is only one way to go and that is forward. 

My Baby You

lizzy

So a funny thing happened on the way to my life last year. I became a father. That’s my daughter in the picture up there. As of this writing, she is 10 months old, and it’s hard to believe she’s gotten so big so fast. That’s cliche, I’m sure, but so is most everything else you hear about becoming a father. Except, it’s all so true.

Like, that deer in the headlights dazed and confused feeling that you get when your significant other tells you that she’s pregnant? Yup, that happened to me. I don’t even entirely remember the sequence of events when Nadine told me. It’s kind of a blur. There was a lot of shock, and even some awe. It took a while to get my head wrapped around the idea, especially because it was not expected. We were not trying to have a kid. It just kind of happened.

Then there is the requisite freakout when the baby is born. Yup, it happened to me too. I really am just a cliche machine.

You know that whole cliche thing about how you can fall totally in love with your baby just looking at them? That’s so true it’s almost sickening. From the moment I first looked at her, and held her, it was game over for me. Understand, I can be a sardonic, misanthropic asshole in this world, but this little girl melts my heart in ways I didn’t think possible. The way her face lights up when she sees me come into a room, or after she’s just woken up, is almost indescribable. Seriously, I did not know it was possible to love someone that much. That’s cliche too, but so true it hurts.

Anyway, I’m going to stop before I get all verklpempt, but when you think about it, sometimes the most cliche things in life turn out to be the most true. Who knew.

Aside time: I almost titled this post “With Arms Wide Open”, because it is a song all about finding out that you’re going to be a father. This is what having a kid does to you. You’ll take the scorn and ridicule of going with a Creed song because the stupid lyrics match up with your feelings a little too well. But, can we talk about Creed? Can we talk about how amazing of a run they had from 1997 to early 2001? Can we talk about how every goddamn song from their second album made it onto K-Rock in 2000? That’s absurd! Now Scott Stapp is just a punchline. Proof that fame is fleeting, I guess.

Moving Out of Iowa

43rd_Legislative_District_Democratic_Caucus_1

So after over a year of political craziness, we’re now in the thick of the 2016 Presidential Primaries. Am I the only one who thinks that the way we do this is totally inane? It feels like the minute one election ends, we’re already on to talking about the next one. We’re subjected to months of speculation, ads, campaign nonsense, talking heads, the whole works. Plus, even with recent developments in the judicial system, corporate money reigns supreme in our electoral process, and it will be years (if ever) before we can excise it. This has led us to some less than enviable positions, the biggest one being that there is a real chance that a man who ran for little more than his own ego could be the candidate for one of the major parties. To say that our political process has become a three ring circus would be an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. There isn’t a whole lot we can do, but I have a few ideas about how to make this happen. Also, it should be noted that I’m not a Constitutional scholar, so who knows the legal validity of this idea, but I think you can make a case under Article II, Section 1 for all this.

My idea is super simple, and in two parts:

First, every state has their primary on the same goddamn day. Let’s say 6 weeks before Election Day. Every single last one. If you want to counteract the money, and limit who’s going to be serious about doing this, make them spread the wealth around. Mad because it means that NY, LA, and Chicago will become way more important than Iowa? That’s kind of the point. Democracy is about the people. Not the chosen few special white people in rural states. Sorry, folks, that’s the deal. Oh, and you can’t campaign at all until 6 weeks before this Primary Day. Announce you’re running, have a book or listening tour if you want, but you can’t make a stump speech, call someone, or knock on a door until that day. Suddenly, dumping all your money into Iowa or New Hampshire seems stupid, doesn’t it?

Secondly, Congress needs to set real standards on voting. OK, so states could have a real 10th Amendment freakout about this, but if you’re careful to word it that it’s just for Federal elections, it should get trumped. Part of this is giving teeth back to the FEC to enforce against gerrymandering, which we all know is a pipe dream, but this doesn’t happen without it. But also, it’s about making sure that voting machines are up to snuff, making their source code open source and on consumer level equipment (seriously, why could someone not cook up a hardened Raspberry Pi with some software to count votes? Plus, states won’t be stuck in that fucked up position when their election machine vendor goes under and they can’t get parts or service for their broken machines) that would be cheaper for governments to implement and more secure because you can put the best that the open source community has to offer into it. Oh, and voter verifiable paper trail, too, natch (optical scan ballots would be the best bet here).

Now, will this fix everything? No. But it’s a start. Let’s dream a little, shall we?

So Long, Farewell

Syrian refugees strike in front of  Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 3 September 2015.

There’s plenty that’s been said already about the events in Paris last week. I can’t add anything useful. I wanted to talk instead about the truly ugly aftermath that’s emerging from this. That is the political pandering against Syrian refugees, and the ways that it’s going to make a serious problem even worse.

There’s already the ever-present undercurrent of Islamophobia that’s existed since, well, ever if you really think about it. Then it got super exacerbated when it was found that the main planner behind the attacks in Paris used a fake Syrian passport to get into Europe as a refugee. And like that, we were off to the races, with the goal being for conservatives to see just how far down the rabbit hole they could go. Now there are 31 of 50 state governors who say that they will not allow Syrian refugees to settle in their states. This includes my home state of New Jersey, mostly because we have a Republican governor who still thinks he can be President one day. The menagerie of Republican Presidential nominees are spouting off plenty of nonsense. Politicians of all stripes just seem to be on a race to the bottom. Hell, I’ve seen more posts on Facebook about people having to delete other people or stop going on Facebook in the past week because of their terrible invective than ever (and it’s sad when someone you genuinely like on Facebook turns out to be a xenophobe, isn’t it?).

I wish I could ask how we’ve gotten so close to the bottom, but I think the reality is that we’ve been here for a very long time. This is 14 years of hatred that has just seethed and bubbled and grown, and now it’s exploding. We have exposed the worst of ourselves to the world, and everyone is watching.

And the thing that drives me fucking crazy is that, to some degree, isn’t this what ISIS and their ilk want? They are very successful at recruiting young people who feel disaffected in the Western world. The vast majority are kids who came up in a Western environment. Like the Boston bombers. Everyone remembers them as young kids who liked to lift and look good, until they were about something else. What better way to turn around and show these people how the Western world truly is against them, and bolster their ranks. Trust me, that’s powerful stuff.

In the end, I feel for the Syrians who really just want to get away from a world that’s bad all around. They have Assad on one side, ISIS on the other. No wonder they are fleeing Syria in droves. It’s too bad that they are soon going to feel like they have nowhere else to go in the world at all.