About greg

Just another bozo on the bus.

guy in a green bay packers stocking cap

Last Friday I experienced the ugliest thing I’ve encountered in a long, long time. Most days I take a walk; once or twice a week I’ll extend that walk and stop in at a corner Stop&Rob convenience store. You know — a place where you can get gasoline, buy a snack, get a drink, and hit the road again. I stop there because they have fresh cookies every day.

I was standing in line to buy my cookie behind a guy wearing a Green Bay Packers stocking cap. He was maybe my age, maybe a bit younger, a little paunchier, buying a large bottled Starbucks frappuccino. I’m a friendly guy, usually, and I like to chat with strangers, so I made a comment about the Packers and the tough year they’d had. The guy seemed friendly enough, and since there was only one person working the counter at the Stop&Rob, the line was moving slowly and we had a moment to visit. He asked me who I liked in the Super Bowl.

I started to say “I’m not a big fan of Cam Newton, but I’ll be rooting for Carolina because they’re the more exciting team.”

cam newton 1

Okay, a tangent. Cam Newton is, in my opinion, the most interesting, the most creative, the most watchable, and the most annoying quarterback in the National Football League. I enjoy watching him play football. But I don’t much like him. Why? Because he always seems to know where the cameras are. He likes the attention.

Nothing wrong with that, in itself. But quarterbacks, because of the nature of the game and that particular position, are always the center of attention. Always. And they should be. But because they’re always the center of attention, it’s my very personal opinion that they should deflect some of that attention to their teammates. And to be fair, Cam Newton does that — but usually after he’s soaked up his own share of attention.

I think it’s sort of childish. But that’s the thing about the guy. He plays football with all the reckless joy of a kid. He runs with the ball a lot. A LOT. When I first saw him playing, I assumed he did that because he thought he was the best runner on the team, or because he wanted the glory. Now I think he does that because he just likes to run with the ball. I think he does it at least in part because he’s having fun. It’s a tad selfish, I think, but kids are a tad selfish. And the fact is, he really IS a good runner. Hell, he’s good at everything. And he’s really good at having fun playing football. How can you NOT love that?

cam newton4

Look at this photo. There’s Cam Newton being chased by guys who are paid millions of dollars to knock the shit of their opponents. And given the chance, they’d cheerfully knock the shit out of Cam Newton. And he’s laughing. He knows that one solid tackle could end his career, but look at him. He’s actually having fun.

I sound like a fan, don’t I. But I’m not. Well, maybe I am. But I don’t think so. Doesn’t matter. What matters is I was going to tell this guy in the Packers stocking cap that I wasn’t a fan of Cam Newton, but that I’d be rooting for the Carolina Panthers because they’re so much fun to watch.

But I only got as far as “I’m not a fan of Cam Newton…” because that’s when the guy in the Packers stocking cap interrupted me and started in on a racist rant. “I hate that guy,” he said. “No white quarterback would blah blah blah and just because he’s black he thinks he can something something showboat thug and hip hop jive dancing blah blah respect for the game yadda yadda.”

The woman running the cash register stopped what she was doing and stared at the guy in the Packers stocking cap. The guy who was paying for his gas and a pack of cigarettes turned around and stared at the guy. And after I stop being stunned, I said “Dude, back up.” I’m not at all sure what I meant by that, but that’s what I said. “Dude, back up.” And the guy in the Packers stocking cap stopped talking, realizing everybody in the Stop&Rob was either staring at him, or very studiously NOT looking at him. He says — and maybe this was the most astonishing and horrifying part of the incident — he says, “I’m not a racist, but c’mon, you have to admit…”

I don’t know what the guy in the Packers stocking cap thought we had to admit, because he never finished the sentence. It was his turn at the register. He paid for his stuff and left, and nobody said a word until the door closed behind him — at which point the woman at the register said “Holy crap.”

That scene has replayed in my mind off and on since it happened. The guy in the Packers stocking cap assumed I must be a racist too. Why? Is “I’m not a fan of Cam Newton” some sort of code phrase? A shared password racists use to identify each other in public? I think of all the times I’ve said “I’m not a fan of Cam Newton” and wonder if racists out there heard that and thought “Ah, he’s one of our people.” I think of all the times I’ve said “I’m not a fan of Cam Newton, but…” and I wonder if people were hearing “I’m not a racist, but…”

cam newton3

And it occurs to me that Cam Newton must hear this shit all the time. He must hear people using code words saying “I don’t like you because you’re black.” Every day, he must hear the most horrible, hateful, ugly shit. And you know what’s astonishing about that?

He still goes out there and plays football with the reckless joy of a kid.

He’ll be out on the field this evening; he’ll be center stage at the Super Bowl, and he’ll soak up the attention. He’ll be smiling and laughing. He’ll probably get knocked around a bit, but that’s part of the game. Doesn’t matter. Cam Newton will be having fun.

That guy in the Packers stocking cap? He did me a favor. He made me a fan of Cam Newton.

doing democracy

Well, we did it. Last night Iowa did democracy. Okay, yes, the Iowa caucus is an antiquated, massively inconvenient, perversely idiosyncratic political system. In action, it feels almost tribal — like we’re only a few steps away from folks in animal skins, squatting around a fire, raising their hands and grunting to signify approval or disapproval.

We’re talking basic, precinct-level democracy here, folks. Even the concept of a precinct is old-fashioned. The term comes from the Medieval Latin precinctum, which referred to an enclosure or boundary line. Precinctum itself is the joining of the prefix prae– (meaning ‘before’) and cinqulum — a girdle or swordbelt. How cool is that?

In modern electoral terms, a precinct is a predetermined boundary creating the smallest geographical unit used for tallying election results. In Iowa, we have 1681 voting precincts. Rural precincts can be pretty big, but in the cities they’re often composed of just one or two neighborhoods. They’re personal. You attend a caucus with your neighbors — the people you most often see out shoveling their sidewalks or buying beer at the market. The caucuses are personal and they’re public; there is no secret ballot in a Democratic party caucus. Everybody there sees who you support.

Getting in line.

Getting in line.

Here’s another thing: each of those 1681 precincts hold two caucuses; one for Democrats and one for Republicans. That’s 3,362 separate caucuses. And they’re run by volunteers. Each party in each precinct has an unpaid precinct captain and a handful of volunteer precinct workers.

I live in a fairly middle class, fairly white, fairly dull suburb of Des Moines. There’s about 2,500 people in my precinct. Last night around twelve percent of them showed up at the Democratic caucus. That may not sounds like much, but a caucus has a lot going against it. It’s a time-consuming gig, it’s held on a Monday night, they don’t serve alcohol, and this year it was held during a blizzard warning (happily, the blizzard slowed down and didn’t hit until this morning). So 12% is a good turnout for a caucus.

The Democratic caucus was held in the cafeteria of a local elementary school; the Republican caucus was held at a Baptist church — read what you want into that. People were already lined up when I arrived (got there around 6:30, half an hour before the caucus was scheduled to begin). Even before I got inside the school doors, the line snaked out down the sidewalk and around the corner.

The line grows longer.

The line grows longer.

It was a nice, orderly line — until you get through the cafeteria doors. That’s where the madness begins. It’s pretty simple if you’re already registered to vote as a Democrat. You just sign in and go find the cookies and brownies. But those poor bastards who 1) have recently moved and aren’t registered in that precinct, 2) or haven’t registered to vote at all, 3) or were registered as a Republican but want to switch to Democrat, they all have to fill out paperwork while the rest of us went to work on the snacks.

Once that fuss was dealt with, we had to elect a permanent caucus chair. That thing I mentioned earlier? You know, about this thing being run by volunteers? This is a perfect example. The precinct captain who has gotten everybody in the cafeteria and made sure they’re all registered, he (in my precinct it was a guy), his first order of business is to ask if anybody else wants his job. He’s just the temporary chair, and the caucus needs to elect a permanent precinct chair to oversee the caucus.

The room slowly begins to fill, and folks fill out registration forms.

The room slowly begins to fill, and folks fill out registration forms.

Seriously. At that point anybody who’s in the room can stand up and try to convince the people there to cede all control to him. In my precinct (and in probably ever other precinct) everybody pretty much agreed they didn’t want to deal with that, so the temporary chair was approved to become the permanent chair.

Then we had to count ourselves. I know. You’d think maybe they’d just count the names of the folks who’d signed in on the voter rolls, but no — we had to do an old school hand count. Literally. It began in one corner of the room; everybody had to raise their hand, one at a time, and count off. “One.” “Two.” “Three.” And so on. It sounds stupid and inefficient, but it actually went smoothly.

There were three hundred and twelve of us. Old folks, a few young couples with infants in carriages, some middle-aged professionals, a smattering of working folks, a few college students, one old guy with a cane who was a proud Korean War veteran, some young adults for whom this was clearly their first presidential election. Probably 80% were white. I’m guessing the average age was probably somewhere in the mid-to-late 30s. It seemed pretty representative of the neighborhood.

The cookies and pastries are discovered -- and at this point I forgot to keep taking photographs.

The cookies and pastries are discovered — and at this point I forgot to keep taking photographs.

Then we got down to the actual physical caucusing. And I mean physical. Everybody had to actually stand up (which was sort of a relief after sitting so long at cafeteria tables designed for elementary school children) and move to a designated spot. Hillary folks to that corner, Bernie folks to another, O’Malley folks to a third corner. This was the first test of the evening. A candidate has to have the support of at least 15% of the caucus goers in order to be considered a viable candidate. O’Malley had maybe eight supporters. Not nearly enough.

The chair designated thirty minutes for folks to persuade the O’Malley people to stand with another candidate. It took about five. Most of his supporters went to the Hillary corner. I’m not saying the fact that the Hillary folks had provided the best snacks influenced that decision, but the muffins disappeared pretty quickly at that point. We were supposed to use the rest of the half hour to try to persuade folks who supported a different candidate to shift their alliance, but it was really clear that nobody was interested in switching.

At that point we counted ourselves again, this time according to candidate preference. It was the same process. You count off and raise your hand. The Hillary folks counted off first. Two hundred and thirty-four. Bernie could only muster seventy-eight. It didn’t matter that much though, since the Democratic is all about determining the number of delegates to the statewide convention. In the end, my precinct will send five delegates for Hillary and three for Bernie.

Overall, as you probably know, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ended the caucus in a statistical tie. The New York Times has published a map showing the results from each individual precinct. It shows broad support for both candidates in urban, suburban, and rural precincts. It’s really a pretty remarkable result — more encouraging for Bernie than for Hillary, I think, but demonstrating that Democrats have a pair of strong candidates. I also hope that map suggests that whichever candidate wins the nomination will have the support of the entire Democratic party.

For me personally, this was the coolest thing about last night’s caucus. After the final count, everybody applauded. Everybody. Hillary folks, Bernie folks, disenfranchised O’Malley folks — we all stood up and spontaneously applauded. Nobody was angry, nobody felt excluded, nobody pouted. And best of all, during the actual caucusing nobody had attacked or insulted or denigrated the other candidate. As we walked out of the little cafeteria, everybody seemed cheerful and hopeful.

We’d done democracy, and it felt good.

a few random lunchtime thoughts on political crap

It’s OMG IOWA CAUCUS time. Local, national, and international news teams have taken every damned seat in every damned coffee shop, saloon, burger joint, and opium den in Des Moines. They’re swarming the city with all the desperate, unthinking energy of spawning salmon. They’re trolling for news, and it ain’t pretty. It makes it difficult to maintain a steady stream of thought. So I’m not even going to try.

Here’s the random crap that’s banging around in my head like a dried pea in a tin cup while I try to eat lunch.

Random Crap One: I am reliably informed that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is “is within striking distance” of the lead in the Republican race. He’s polling at six percent support. Six percent. And the news media is so frantic for ‘news’ they’ve decided that’s striking distance. Hell, the Zika virus is polling at seven percent. More people would rather be infected with Zika than have Christie as President of These United States.

Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito polls higher than Christie.

Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito polls higher than Christie.

Random Crap Two: I saw maybe three minutes of the most recent Republican Debate. Three minutes, one question. Nemesis Megyn Kelly asked Marco Rubio how he’d handle the problem of undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. This was (and I’m not making this up) Rubio’s response:

“I’m going to tell you exactly how we’re going to deal with it when I am president. Number one, we’re going to keep ISIS out of America.”

That’s exactly how he’s going to deal with undocumented workers — by keeping ISIS out of America. There are plenty of under-employed white American terrorists looking for bird sanctuaries to occupy. We don’t need foreigners taking jobs that should rightfully go to decent, hard-working, well-armed Americans.

Marco Rubio's understanding of undocumented workers.

Marco Rubio’s understanding of undocumented workers.

Random Crap Three: Louis Gohmert, the human equivalent of the Zika virus (in that when he speaks, he’s capable of causing brain damage) informs us that evangelicals like Donald J. Trump because (and again, I’m not making this up) they’re…

“sick of the nation being fundamentally transformed away from being a Christian nation.”

Gohmert (who is engaged in a heroic quest to discover and exploit brave new worlds of stupid) has apparently read all the bad parts of Ivanhoe (or had somebody read it to him).

“Holy Mother,” said the monk, as he addressed the assembled knights, “I am at last safe and in Christian keeping!”

“Safe thou art,” replied De Bracy; “and for Christianity, here is the stout Baron Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, whose utter abomination is a Jew; and the good Knight Templar, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, whose trade is to slay Saracens—If these are not good marks of Christianity, I know no other which they bear about them.”

Good marks of Christianity, right there in the bloviating figure of Trump. An endorsement by Gohmert carries all the weight of an endorsement by Karl Turley (Karl works at the local Stop&Rob up the street — nice guy, flunked out of his first semester studying HVAC at the community college).

Random Crap Four: There’s a Super PAC called Black Americans for a Better Future. It’s described as “the first and only [Super PAC] dedicated to attracting African-Americans to the Republican Party.” Its goal is “to counter those liberal organizations that receive an inordinate amount of media attention and to present a counter narrative” to liberal groups. According to the group’s first speaker,

“Having well trained, credible, experienced African-Americans constantly challenging the liberal orthodoxy in the media will create a tectonic shift in the perception of the Republican Party within the Black community.”

Guess who  BAFBA is supporting. Go on, guess. No, not Donald Trump, are you crazy? No, they’re supporting Ted Fucking Cruz. Seriously, I’m not making that up. Does that sound crazy? Maybe this will help. This is the guy who created BAFBA:

Robert Mercer, founder of Black Americans for a Better Future. Honest.

Robert Mercer, founder of Black Americans for a Better Future. Honest.

You may have noticed that Robert Mercer is…well, white. In fact, every donor to BAFBA is equally white. Every single one. The donor pool for BAFBA is whiter than the Oscar acting nominees. Ted Fucking Cruz, I declare, wouldn’t it be great if a liar’s pants really did catch on fire?

Random Crap Five: Conservatives are upset that there are new Barbie dolls with new body shapes. Why are they upset? Because apparently it’s political correctness run amok. I’ve noticed that political correctness, when it’s not being jammed down throats, is always running amok. I don’t think it knows any other way to run.

American values under attack by ISIS Barbie

American values under attack by ISIS Barbie

It’s only a matter of time before Trump, Rubio, and Cruz compete to see who’ll work harder to keep the new Barbie dolls from crossing the border.

it ain’t over

First, let me say this: it’s always easy to know the right thing to do when you don’t have to actually do it your ownself. So when I say I think the Feds fucked up strategically in their dealings with the Great Bird Sanctuary Treason Plot, but did well tactically, remember that I’m mostly talking out my ass.

Second, let me make a pretty bad analogy. I mean, it’s not a totally horrible analogy, it’s just pretty bad. Here it is: Pretend you have a child (unless you actually have a child). That child knows he (and yeah, it’s a boy on account of boys are just like that) isn’t supposed to have chocolate. Now, pretend that boy takes a damned chocolate. You take the chocolate back from the boy, and he’s pissed on account you’re mean and stupid and he hates you. Now pretend that the boy takes a damned chocolate and you tell him “Child, you are NOT to take chocolates” but you just stand there with your thumb up your butt while he eats the chocolate. Then the next day the little bastard takes another damned chocolate. This time you take the chocolate from him, but now he’s pissed times two on account of you let him have the chocolate last time and didn’t do anything.

Get it? Wait, I meant to tell you the Bundy family is the child and the chocolate is seizing control over government lands. Now, get it?

My point is if the Feds had confiscated Cliven Bundy’s livestock like they were authorized to do before he called in all his faux patriot buddies, then it’s unlikely the Lesser Bundys would have started the Great Bird Sanctuary Treason Plot. Strategically, the Feds fucked up. If you tell the boy he can’t have chocolate, then you have to be ready to take his damned chocolate.

Charter Members of the Fuckwit Collective.

Charter Members of the Fuckwit Collective.

But they didn’t, and now there’s a dead fuckwitted cowboy and a wounded fuckwitted whatever-the-hell Ryan Bundy is.

It could have been worse. It could have been much worse. And there’s a very real possibility that it will get worse. On account of it’s not over. Not yet.

It’s important to remember that the people involved in the Great Bird Sanctuary Treason Plot aren’t just fuckwits. They’re fuckwits who are part of a religious/political/ideological movement with a long history of violent confrontation with law enforcement, a penchant for armed resistance in a siege, and a tradition of martyrdom. That’s not a recipe for peaceful resolution.

We’ve seen this same basic situation several times since the early 1980s. Well-armed, conspiracy-oriented, survivalist-minded, right-wing fuckwits with strange notions of Christianity and a deep, abiding suspicion of the U.S. government have repeatedly sparked violent confrontations with Federal law enforcement agents. Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus in 1983, Robert Jay Mathews and the Brüder Schweigen (the Silent Brotherhood) in 1984, Richard Wayne Snell and The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord in that same year, Randy Weaver — whose wife and son were killed during their stand-off in 1992, David Koresh and 75 members of his group died after a long siege in 1993, the Montana Freemen in 1996, and on and on and on.

Some of those conflicts were resolved peacefully. Most weren’t. Most ended in bloodshed. Because these people have some real issues with impulse control AND they have guns.

Lavoy Finicum

Lavoy Finicum

Earlier I said the Feds fucked up strategically. I personally think they also fucked up by not taking a harder line against the Great Bird Sanctuary Treason Plot plotters in a way that’s what you call ‘timely.’ Like, say, a couple of days after they moved in. Instead, the Feds allowed the Lesser Bundys to think this was going to be BundyFest II.

Still, when the Feds finally decided to act, they did well tactically. By that I mean they handled the arrest of the Bundys and their camouflage remora in a professional way. They waited until the leaders of the movement left the compound, stopped them, and took them into custody with relatively little fuss. Aside from, you know, shooting the cowboy (and I don’t mean to make light of that; it’s sad that it happened, but it seemed clear from the beginning that Lavoy Finicum was redolent with the smell of burning martyr).

The problem is there are still at least a couple of Finicumesque fuckwits camped out in Malheur, working on their Braveheart imitations. It may not be easy to dislodge them.

time to close the militia fantasy camp

Okay, I’m pretty much sick of those swag-bellied motherfuckers who are still parking their pale, pasty, spongy asses on public land in Oregon. And I’m pretty much weary of waiting for Federal law enforcement to do their fucking job.

I’m a peaceful guy. A patient guy. I have been told patience is my only redeeming quality. But Jeebus in a tea-cup, people, there’s a point at which patience ceases to be a virtue. And we passed that point a week ago. At this point, we’re only encouraging them. We’re only inviting more of this shit.

They call it a peaceful event. That’s a lie. Here’s how you can tell it’s a lie: you don’t bring guns to a peaceful protest. You bring guns to a gunfight. They keep saying that IF there’s violence, it’ll be initiated by LEOs — and they say it in the same way a wife-beater tells his battered wife “Don’t make me do this.”

Not a peaceful protest.

Not a peaceful protest.

What that basically says is these tunaheads don’t believe they should be held accountable for their behavior. Tell me, does that work for any group other than armed white guys wearing cowboy hats? Never mind, I know the answer. The answer is hell, no.

They say they want a peaceful resolution. That’s also a lie. Here’s what Ammon Bundy, the bull goose loony of the occupation, told an FBI negotiator yesterday:

“I want to make sure that you understand: The resolution is the Constitution of the United States. How we get there, I realize there’s some steps and some things we need to do. But we’ve compromised that supreme law long enough.”

What they mean by ‘resolution’ is capitulation to their fuckwitted interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. That leaves absolutely no room at all for real negotiation. And let’s face it, at this point the only thing that should be negotiated is how these toads should surrender themselves to law enforcement.

Not looking for a peaceful resolution.

Not looking for a peaceful resolution.

Again, I’m a peaceful guy. I don’t want to see anybody get hurt, including these guys. I don’t want to see this situation end in a gunfight. Gunfights are bad news for everybody. But I want to see these jamokes held accountable. Right now, they’re basically allowed to come and go as they please, attending town meetings, stocking up on snacks. Just as bad, their supporters are allowed into the wildlife refuge to resupply them. These guys are acting like they’re at Militia Fantasy Camp. Seriously, what the fuck, FBI?

There are some basic steps the Feds could take to apply pressure. Isolate the bastards. Turn off their goddamn electricity. Jam their cell phones. Stop their supply runs. Arrest anybody who tries to enter the wildlife refuge, and arrest any of the occupiers who leave. Treat these fuckwits like the criminals they are.

Don’t just stand around with your thumb up your ass; do something.

if you meet Bernie along the road…

I watched the Democratic debate last night. In almost every way, it was the same as the last Democratic debate, which was pretty similar to the Democratic debate that came before that. I find that sort of comforting. It means the candidates are mostly consistent.

The only real difference last night? Bernie’s poll numbers. He’s clearly gaining momentum. Which is mostly a good thing. Why mostly? I’m glad you asked.

Buddhists have a saying — they have a lot of sayings. So do the Irish, for that matter, they’re a grand folk for the sayings, and the Irish Buddhists, those people, you just can’t get them to shut the fuck up at all, at all. But this is the saying I’m talking about:

If you meet the Buddha along the road, kill him.

Obviously, that’s not meant to be taken literally. You don’t want to be killing the Buddha. You don’t want to be killing anybody, for that matter, along the road or off it. No, that saying is a metaphor, is what it is. Basically, what it means is this: the Buddha isn’t going to enlighten you. You have to do that on your own. It means the Buddha — any Buddha — is really just another bozo on the bus. Killing the Buddha means killing the idea that somebody — anybody — has all the answers. It means it’s okay to have heroes, but it’s necessary to remember that heroes are just as capable of fucking up as you are.

bernie_sanders_smile

Why am I nattering on about this stuff? Because I’m feeling the need to say this:

If you meet Bernie Sanders along the road, kill him.

See, you can get by with saying ‘Kill the Buddha’ because folks understand it’s a metaphor. You say ‘Kill Bernie’ and folks get pissed off. I’m saying this, though, because two weeks before the Iowa caucus I’m seeing a lot of this: ‘Only Bernie Sanders is telling the truth.’ And ‘Only Bernie Sanders can make meaningful change in America.’ And ‘Only Bernie Sanders can beat the Republicans.’ And ‘Only Bernie Sanders understands what Americans really need.’ And ‘Only Bernie Sanders is running a clean campaign.’

Now I need to say something else. I’m almost certainly going to support Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Democratic caucus (I say ‘almost certainly’ because the caucus is still a couple of weeks away and it’s theoretically possible that Bernie might say or do something in those two weeks that will change my mind). I’m going to support him because I’ve been a liberal my entire life and his views more closely resemble my own.

But Bernie is not the Buddha. I’m a pragmatic liberal. As a liberal I love Bernie’s views and ideas, but as a pragmatist I’m aware that some of his ideas just aren’t feasible. They just aren’t going to happen. For example, his healthcare plan.

In concept, it’s brilliant. Health care as a right, and bugger the insurance companies.Who could be against that? I mean, aside from insurance companies, and I’m of the opinion they can go fuck themselves in the neck. But how’s he going to actually do that? How’s he going to fund it?

Bernie’s plan requires the individual states to end their current ACA exchanges AND all private health insurance. It then requires the federal government to contribute the funding it would have paid to that state under the ACA into what he calls an American Health Security Trust Fund. That fund would then be combined with a new payroll tax on every taxpayer, AND a healthcare tax on folks making a lot of money, AND a surcharge tax on folks making even more money, AND a transaction fee on Wall Street trading.

I’m also troubled by the fact Bernie suggests his plan will end all the wrangling about care and treatment. That just ain’t so. Instead of private insurance companies making decisions about which treatments and procedures are acceptable, you’d have the government making those decisions. There’s still going to be somebody there “Dude, no way we’re going to pay for your acupuncture.” The difference — and yes, it’s a big, meaningful difference — is the decisions won’t be made on the basis of profit. Instead they’ll be made on keeping costs down. But it’ll still means some folks will be denied treatment they want or need.

Again, I love the fundamental idea. A single payer system would improve life for a LOT of U.S. citizens. But I want to know how Bernie’s going to get Congress to go along with all those taxes and fees and surcharges? Obama’s plan was modest in comparison, and we’ve seen how much resistance it’s still getting. I just don’t see any way Bernie can implement his plan unless there’s a radical shift in Congress — which is highly improbable.

Hillary’s health care plan, on the other hand, is basically just a series of incremental improvements and expansions on the existing ACA. That’s a good thing, to be sure, but it’s not the sweeping change that Bernie promises. I’d much rather see Bernie’s plan put into place, but I think her plan has a better chance of actually being implemented.

I think there’s a decent chance Bernie can win the nomination, and if he does I think there’s a very good chance he’d be elected. But as a pragmatic liberal it’s important for me to acknowledge that President Sanders won’t be able to do all the things he wants to do. He won’t be able to create a single payer health care system. He won’t be able to break up the big banks (and, in fact, his ‘plan’ to do so isn’t really a plan at all — it’s the concept of a plan).

So if I think Hillary’s plan is more feasible, and if I don’t think there’s any way Bernie can actually do the things he wants to do, why am I supporting Bernie instead of Hillary?

buddha smiling

Because he’s arguing in favor of values rather than policies. I support him because he wants to do those things. I’m supporting Bernie despite the fact that I’m a pragmatic liberal. Electing somebody who wants to make those changes might be a step in the direction of creating an electorate more willing to elect a Congress that would make those chances possible.

As a pragmatic liberal, I believe Hillary has a better chance to implement her plans and incrementally improve life for most Americans. As a pragmatic liberal, I think she’s likely to do better in the general election.

But I support Bernie because it’s really hard to kill the Buddha.

 

Editorial Note: If Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, I’ll happily support Hillary. I like her. Her incrementalist approach to policy won’t create any sweeping change, but even small improvements are worthwhile. And she consistently addresses local issues that get ignored in a national campaign. Perhaps the very best part of the debate last night was when Hillary, in her closing statement, brought up the appalling situation of Flint, Michigan.

natural born fuckwit

Sweet Jeebus in the swampland, have seen this? Have you seen THIS? No? Then see it right now. Go on…watch it. Go on…I’ll wait.

Ted Fuckin’ Cruz, I declare. Okay, first, we don’t actually see him kill a duck. Oh sure, he’s out there in the woods, wearing camo face paint (on account of you don’t want to take any chances when going toe-to-toe with a duck), and toting a shotgun. And yeah, he’s out there with that lunatic Old Testament-looking motherfucker who could probably paralyze a mallard just by looking at it. But do we Ted Fuckin’ Cruz actually put a duck to death?

No, we do not. I think we can all agree that TFC would kill any number of ducks — with his bare hands and teeth, if need be — for the chance to park his portly ass in the Oval Office. But this commercial does not, with any conviction or credibility, demonstrate the man’s duck-killing prowess.

Does this disqualify him from becoming President of These United States? No, it does not. The U.S. Constitution does not require the president to be a master of venery. It does, though, require the president to be ‘a natural born citizen.’ That’s right, we’re talking Article II, Section 1, baby.

NaturalBornCitizenClause

Donald J. Trump, who may be the only person campaigning for the presidency who is more odious that Ted Fuckin’ Cruz, is making hay (not actual hay; metaphorical hay, although actual hay IS actually made — I mean, you’d think it was just grown, right? But no, there’s a multi-step process involved in the making of…never mind. Tangent.) over whether the fact that Cruz was born in Canada disqualifies him as a legitimate candidate.

Being a gigantic fuckwit disqualifies Ted Fuckin’ Cruz from being president, but that Canadian business? Not so much. The specific question may not have been officially adjudicated, but it’s almost universally accepted that a child born anywhere to a citizen of a recognized nation is automatically considered a citizen of that nation (and often, as was the case with TFC, a citizen of the nation in which the wee bugger was born).

The only reason this is an issue — the only reason — is because there are no Republicans saying “Oh c’mon, are you kidding me?” when the question of TFC’s citizenship is raised. Not one. On account of Ted Fuckin’ Cruz is pretty much hated by his colleagues (see that earlier reference to being a gigantic fuckwit).

Having spent his entire short Senatorial career buggering up the Senate has left TFC friendless. Ain’t nobody sticking up for him, even against the most absurd accusations delivered by the most absurd accuser.

Ted Fuckin' Cruz defends himself against The Giant Head of Trump.

Ted Fuckin’ Cruz defends himself against The Giant Head of Trump.

The ducks have come home to roost. I’d feel a bit sorry for the guy, except that he’s Ted Fuckin’ Cruz. He’s earned it.