Tribute to Obama

POLITICAL POST—I didn’t vote for Obama in ’08; I was skeptical of him and did not buy into the notion that he was some sort of demigod who was any different from every other politician. So I voted for McCain, because I liked him and felt he was a moderate whose views more closely aligned with my own. (That and I had yet to fully appreciate the sheer batshit crazy that is Sarah Palin.)

But I welcomed Obama and saw he was somebody who comported himself with dignity, class, and sincerity. I could see he was temperamentally suited for the job, although he was probably naive in thinking he was going to effect the wholesale change of our political culture he envisioned; and well into his second term, I could tell he was becoming worn down and is probably a bit relieved to be leaving office tomorrow. 

And this is the first time I’ve revealed this publicly, but I did vote for Obama in 2012 (cue the unfriending!). Not that I had an issue with Mitt Romney; even though he was another moderate, I’ve long felt the conservative/Tea Party wing of that party has been hamstringing it for years, and my reasoning was that the Republican Party needed to get their asses kicked badly enough that they’d reorganize behind more centrist policies (though Romney in my view was a moderate, like McCain before him, he had to kow-tow to “proper” conservative dogma).

Whoops. So that totally didn’t work out for me, did it?

Anyway, I’ve come to like and respect Obama more and more over the years, and especially in view of his successor, who I view with great trepidation, to put it diplomatically. I’m sad to see Obama leave office. This post isn’t about any particular policy or decision he made, although I tend to see the merit in all he tried to achieve, even if they weren’t perfect or have had varying degrees of success (i.e., Obamacare and the Iran deal, among others). Most of the time, the President is just doing the best he can, and I’ve felt that way about just about every President, from Obama to George W., to Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, etc. As much as I’d like to apply that to our incoming President…well…all I’ll say for now is that I hope the realities of governing somehow temper that person’s impulses.

For the final time, Godspeed, Mister President. Thank you for your service this country.

~B

NOTE: This is a tribute and not meant to spur a debate, so please keep any attacks to your own page. You know who you are.
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Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Runoff

This is going to be a long post, but it concludes with my Official Endorsement for 2016, so before you move on once you see the “Continue Reading” button (I’m looking at you, Pat) please take the time to at least click the link below to read up about Ranked Choice Voting and find out how it can potentially change the way our elections are ran.
I was thinking about writing one last epistle tonight about why I’m opposing Donald Trump. But while I’m not sure I’ve made my actual reasons completely clear already, it won’t change anybody’s minds and would only serve to alienate people and risk starting a flame war (namely with my brother, heh). Instead what I want to write about this Election Eve is something I’ve already mentioned the past couple of days. Something that I’ve become convinced can be a force for positive change in our political discourse. It’s this voting method called Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Run-off.
The gist of it is as follows: Instead of voting for just one person, you would rank the candidates in order of preference, or omit somebody you really don’t like completely. Say you were agonizing under the current system about voting your conscience and voting third party, but you don’t want to “waste” your vote and you really don’t want Trump to win so you feel compelled to vote for Clinton (or vice versa). Under RCV, you could go ahead and vote third party as your first choice, then the so-called “lesser of two evils” as your second, and if there was yet another third party candidate maybe them, and if there’s that one guy you absolutely DO NOT WANT to see win, just leave them out.
So what happens next is that everybody’s First Place votes get tallied up, and if nobody gets at least 50% for a definitive majority, then the vote goes into an Instant Runoff; the candidate with the fewest First Place votes is eliminated, and that person’s SECOND PLACE votes get divvied up among their designated recipients; i.e., say the ousted candidate’s Second Place votes went 60/40 for the top two, for example; those votes then get added to the remaining candidate’s current totals. If there were more than three candidates and the second round still didn’t produce a 50% winner, then the next candidate with the fewest votes is out and THEIR Second Place votes get divvied up. Eventually you’ll see a candidate reach the 50% threshold and win.
How does this benefit the process? Think about it: you’re not only campaigning for voters’ FIRST PLACE VOTES…you’re campaigning for the SECOND PLACE VOTES of those you know are likely to give their First Place vote to someone else. You’re not going to be as obnoxious or negative in your campaigning. You’re going to make an effort to reach out to as many people as you can, and you’re going to have to tailor your policies to be as broad as possible; being the proud moderate that I am, in my admittedly idealized vision of this scenario, our political discourse would no longer be about two extremes that turn off the majority of voters who are traditionally moderates, and it would serve to moderate and alleviate the polarizing nature of our current poisonous political culture.
This is a system already in place in parts of the country, usually localized city elections like the Mayor of Minneapolis; there’s a really good video clip on the website linked below where the current mayor discusses exactly what I wrote about in the paragraph above. It’s a real thing with support from prominent personalities including President Obama from back when he was a Senator, as well as John McCain, and Bernie Sanders among others. I’m sure there are drawbacks to this method, but it certainly can’t be any worse than what we have now.
While I realize that as a whole, both Democrats and Republicans on the national level would be opposed to this in a Presidential election as it would potentially empower third parties and give them greater prominence, I believe this is a worthy cause to get behind for the sake of improving our contentious electoral process. So if you want to know my Official Endorsement for 2016…it is for Ranked Choice Voting.

Hillary’s corruption vs. Trump’s corruption

It is all about the narrative: Hillary is “corrupt” while Trump is “tells it like it is”. Sure, he’s a little “rough around the edges” and “uses bad words”, but at least HE’S not CORRUPT. Yeah, I’ve seen you on FB making this argument, that Trump’s seemingly only vice is that he “uses bad words” and “says mean things”. Well. I can only imagine the fever pitch with which his supporters would be slathering and gloating and showcasing his own examples of corruption—Trump University, anyone?—if it were Hillary involved in these schemes and not him:
“…you’d have to work incredibly hard to find a politician who has the kind of history of corruption, double-dealing, and fraud that Donald Trump has. The number of stories which could potentially deserve hundreds and hundreds of articles is absolutely staggering. Here’s a partial list:
•Trump’s casino bankruptcies, which left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money
•Trump’s habit of refusing to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses
•Trump University, which includes not only the people who got scammed and the Florida investigation, but also a similar story from Texas where the investigation into Trump U was quashed.
•The Trump Institute, another get-rich-quick scheme in which Trump allowed a couple of grifters to use his name to bilk people out of their money
•The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) that involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins
•Trump Model Management, which reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did
•Trump’s employment of foreign guest workers at his resorts, which involves a claim that he can’t find Americans to do the work
•Trump’s use of hundreds of undocumented workers from Poland in the 1980s, who were paid a pittance for their illegal work
•Trump’s history of being charged with housing discrimination
•Trump’s connections to mafia figures involved in New York construction
•The time Trump paid the Federal Trade Commission $750,000 over charges that he violated anti-trust laws when trying to take over a rival casino company
•The fact that Trump is now being advised by Roger Ailes, who was forced out as Fox News chief when dozens of women came forward to charge him with sexual harassment. According to the allegations, Ailes’s behavior was positively monstrous; as just one indicator, his abusive and predatory actions toward women were so well-known and so loathsome that in 1968 the morally upstanding folks in the Nixon administration refused to allow him to work there despite his key role in getting Nixon elected.”
Now, if you’re going to comment and dispute any of the above, I CHALLENGE you NOT to invoke Clinton as your equalizer. I want to see if you can actually defend Trump on his own merits. I’m sure some of you will whine and pout about me “oppressing” your First Amendment rights, but any invoking of Clinton in any response will simply be deleted; we all know all about Clinton and her baggage…but the NARRATIVE that she is the corrupt one while Trump simply “uses bad words, get over it” has sheltered him from more thorough examination of his own (non-sexual harassment related) past.
And yes, this article is TWO WHOLE MONTHS OLD, let it go Brian, sheesh…well, dumbass, it’s still relevant. And before you try the “At least Trump hasn’t made decisions that killed people!” line, he simply hasn’t been in a position to have to make those decisions; that’s part of what holding public office entails.
EDIT: I will accept a response that effectively acknowledges the above while still maintaining Clinton is worse. I just don’t want to see a litany of her shit as a counterweight in my comment thread. I know all about her shit. But you can’t say Trump doesn’t have his own corrupt shit going on.

The Republican Presidential Race 2016

Political Post: This is just an observation, and not a pro or against anybody I mention. (This is my now standard political disclaimer attempting to head off predictable comments hijacking this thread, heh. Wish me luck with that.)

Everybody has been obsessed with Trump and people are convinced he’s going to win the nomination. I’ve tended to disagree. I’ve maintained for a while that as soon as enough “mainstream” candidates drop off, their votes are going to coalesce around the remaining mainstream guy and eventually overtake Trump. Christie is out, Bush dropped out last night, and Kasich needs to drop out now, too. You add up the latter two’s votes from last night to Rubio’s, and that number beats Trump.

It’s obviously a three man race between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio; enough voters have spoken that the others need to stop wasting their time and energy (as well as ours).

RE: The Democrats. I still think Hillary is going to pull it out against Sanders, but it’s a lot more competitive so far than I expected.