On Wondering

With Election Day 2016 in the rearview mirror, I sit on the edge of a canyon and stare into the vastness.

I see a divided nation separated by the canyon with steep wall … without a bridge, and no plan for a bridge, or even another bridge to nowhere … and I wonder …

I wonder about loud beating drums of the partisans as the yell and demand their self interests.

I wonder about the existence of common ground … and if it exists, can it be found?

I wonder if reconciliation is possible.

I wonder about the intersection of civility, grace, and humility with hate, sexism, bigotry, and disrespect

I wonder about if acceptance, respect, listening, and working together toward solution is possible.

I wonder about the similarities and differences between a President Trump and Candidate Trump.

I wonder if Republicans can govern and the response by the Democrats as they move left.

I wonder about the messages from the voices that aren’t heard.

I wonder about the solutions that favor one side or the other, the solutions that are a blend of both, and the solutions that are outside the framework of all partisans.

I wonder how a President Trump will deal with his worst enemy – himself.

I wonder if  the intent of “unifying” actually means just follow.

I wonder about the effects of one-party rule during tumultuous times.

I wonder if civility is a shared value.

I wonder how long Trump supporters will continue to give him a free pass because “not her” isn’t a good excuse.

I wonder who really cares and why.

I wonder about the uneasy feeling within me about the future.

I wonder about a changing world that is changing more rapidly than ever.

I simply wonder.

On the Aftermath

It’s over … finally …. the longest campaign season in history is finally over! Below is a collection of immediate thoughts.

I never thought Donald Trump would get the nomination, let alone win … but he did. I not only accept the results, I accept the fact that I missed it on both counts.

Although I’m surprised he won, I’m not surprised she lost.

Yesterday I told a friend that if we knew before 10 pm, it would be an easy victory for Mrs. Clinton … but the longer it went into the night, advantage Mr. Trump … and about 9 pm I knew she was in trouble.

Her not speaking to supporters with a concession speech bothers me … and for some reason, I’m not surprised.

I took heat from a few partisans for my hope of divided government. Because they preferred all or nothing, a side of me is now smiling.

The Republican-led Senate proclaimed the Biden Rule regarding the Supreme Court vacancy, but now I don’t expect them to follow it.

The results do make me wonder about many things. I will continue to ponder, and time will tell what happens. After all, over-reaction is seldom a good idea.

Because the election is rigged, will he immediately step down? … Hey … someone had to ask!🙂

I’ve always believed that the USA and its framework is stronger than any one person.

I’ve said on many occasions that if the president is successful, then the country is successful. Although I didn’t vote for him and casted a vote much more against him (than for her), I wish him well with hopes he governs toward the center. Although I expect to disagree with some (maybe even many) of his decisions and many (if not most) actions by the Republican Congress, it’s time to move on.

I’m extremely thankful for the end of the political ads! … and besides (as I can’t resist) all this is Obama’s fault.😉

On an Election Day Primer

Tuesday is Election Day … and day that many of us have been anticipating for a long time. In my opinion, our process is too long and too expensive. That aside, it remains an important day. I encourage all to vote with their head.

To many people – a mixture of independents and partisans – this election has been a national embarrassment. One of my fears is that this may become the new normal. Even though embarrassing, I encourage people to vote, and not leaving their ballot blank. If that means holding your nose in the voting booth, just do it.

This election has been so goofy, so undignified, so disrespectful, …. there is only one way (for me) to post a primer leading into Election Day … and that’s with The Onion! Enjoy!!!! … Combos are welcomed! … Any favorites?

The Onion looks back with this timeline about the election …. and a few headlines for a laugh. After all, many of us can use one.

Nation’s still-undecided voters: “Help! We can’t get our car seatbelts off.”

Trump makes last-minute push to appeal to whites

Michelle Obama tosses a bunch of Barack’s old number 44 jerseys

Undecided voter waiting until he hears the same responses for the seventh time before making a decision

Trump raises concern over members of urban communities voting more than zero times

Anthony Weiner sends apology sext to entire Clinton campaign

Intergalactic law enforcement places energy shackles on Hillary Clinton

Trump complains entire personality is against him

New heavy-duty voting machine allows Americans to take out frustrations on it before casting vote

Teary-eyed Tim Kaine asks Clinton if his hair will grow back before Election Day

Mike Pence visits small town hit hard by kids seeing R-rated movies

Nation puts 2016 election in perspective by reminding itself some species of sea turtles get eaten by birds just seconds after they hatch

Trump hold strategy meeting with campaign’s top militia leaders ahead of the election

Clinton delivers stump speech in Moscow warehouse in effort to appeal to Russian hackers

Election Day is the only time most Americans in same room with person support other candidate

Anthropologists discover isolated tribe of joyful Americans in remote village untroubled by 2016 election.

On the Day of the Last

The last Trump-Clinton debate is later today. As a matter of fact, many are readying themselves to watch … especially the partisans. To my non-U.S. audience, excuse this lengthy post about US politics, so I understand if you switch to my previous post about Walktober, which you will probably find more interesting and satisfying.

I’ve enjoyed following politics for a long time. I liked conventions because of the good speeches. I watched debates out of curiosity and being informed to make a judgment. I started this blog in August 2008 around politics and sports. I’ve morphed since then, but politics is still in my gut – although I’ve been more silent this year than in the past.

The 2016 election is (unfortunately) different. I didn’t watch either convention. I didn’t watch any of the debates during the primaries of either party, nor any of the debates in the past few weeks. The list of why not was always longer than the list of why. Tonight isn’t any different because I’m going for the shutout.

One reason to not watch is simply because the chances of a candidate answering the question is (at best) remote. The moderator will ask a question, then the candidate figures out a way to segue from the question to the prepared talking point. (In my debate rules, the microphone would be turned off and the candidate would enter the Cones of Silence.

Candidates have been doing this for years, but that doesn’t mean we the people don’t deserve better. Because I’m tired of it, watching would be a waste of time – so, instead, I’ll probably spend my time writing a future post about my recent trip.

2016 is also interesting in other ways. It seems that Hillary Clinton was proclaimed the nominee-in-waiting many years ago. I wonder what the Democrats would have done if she didn’t seek the nomination? After all, I never got the impression they were grooming anyone.

Nonetheless, she is the nominee – she’s also smart and experienced. On the other hand, besides being a polarizing figure to many, I don’t trust her. Although the email issue is mainly an issue for her partisan opponents, it’s a non-issue for me … but, it is an example of why I don’t trust her. Deep down I sense that she means well, but the Clintons are who they are. (Note: Overall, I think Bill Clinton was a good president.)

Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. When he announced his candidacy way back when, I stated (and repeatedly stated) that he wouldn’t be the nominee. I admit missing that one, but I’m still amazed he did so, thus wonder, why have Americans lowered themselves to that standard?

Regardless of “knowing more about ISIS than the generals”, Donald Trump’s candidacy has never been about issues and never been about substance. The man lacks intellectual depth that a U.S. President requires. Several times he promised to be more presidential and talk issues. Each time he failed as he reverted back to his ways. That’s simply him being him.

His candidacy is based on fear and shallow promises. His based his candidacy on making fun of people as low-energy Jeb – let alone other unnecessary personal attacks on individuals and groups. His candidacy is based on false information, misconceptions, and misleading statements. His candidacy is based on saying anything – even contradictions of his own words – all in the name of exciting his base that gives him a free pass on most things he says simply because he isn’t Hillary Clinton.

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy really wasn’t a secret or a surprise – and she was very beatable. The Republicans countered by nominating:

  • A candidate who is finding it difficult to beat a beatable candidate.
  • A candidate who stoops low.
  • A candidate with pathetic moral fiber, yet flying under the banner of the party of family values.
  • A candidate who used his personality to effectively use the media to get the nomination, but one who now blames the media for his current troubles that he brought on himself.
  • A candidate who claiming the election is rigged. (For the record, states run the election … and most states have Republican governors, officials, and legislatures.)

Elections shouldn’t be about likability because the major question in 2016 (now more than ever) is who is most fit and capable of leading this country? Election 2016 much less about ideology. Likability aside,and given the choices, the answer is more than obvious. Whether one supported Mitt Romney in 2012 or not (and I didn’t), there was no question in my mind he was fit to serve.

Fortunately for me (and others), two alternatives exist in Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The latter had no chance of my vote, but I listened to Johnson as I looked for an alternative. To me, he lacked substance during a time when I was looking for substance.

I’m having a difficult time understanding how so many people can support Donald Trump. The two main reasons (in my opinion) must be blind partisanship and a total disdain for her. The sheer numbers raises my concerns about my country much more than the concerns I have about each candidate.

The Arizona Republic (Phoenix newspaper) have never endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate in its 126 year history. This year their endorsement headline was the following: Endorsement: Hillary Clinton is the only choice to move America forward.

Because of their stance, the newspaper received many threats. So many that it wrote a second op-ed responding to the threats. This column is worth reading (and the endorsement is linked within it).

Under normal circumstances, I would leave my presidential spot on the ballot blank. I’ve done it before and am willing to do it again – but in 2016, the stakes seem too high for me. On Election Day 2016, Hillary Clinton will get my vote – but it is more of a vote against Donald Trump than it is for her. She is unquestionably better than the alternative.

Back to me watching the final debate. No, no, no … I’m still not watching because the odds of something changing my mind are between slim and none. Besides, I would rather watch this clip from Ellen.

On a Few Bits Before …

Greetings everyone. I’m still present, but just not writing and visiting much. Out of respect to the many good people who visit my little corner of the world, I wanted to check-in.

I know my presence has been (at best) faint, but I continue to struggle with the enthusiasm necessary to post and visit. However, in my tradition, it’s also time for a Fall Break.

PauseBreakKey

The current political climate in the US is pathetic (and that’s being kind). Besides our election process being too damn long and too expensive, I’m sick of it, therefore have to get a few things off my chest.

I like this recent quote from columnist David Brooks that describes American voters.

Politics is catching up to social reality. The crucial social divide today is between those who feel the core trends of the global, information-age economy as tailwinds at their backs and those who feel them as headwinds in their face.

David Axelrod’s comment about Hillary Clinton is right on: “Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?”

Anyone who doubts the existence of a right-wing conspiracy against Mrs. Clinton is either clueless or part of the conspiracy. Nonetheless, why she (and her campaign) make choices that feed the conspiracy is beyond me!

Here’s another thing that causes me to slap my forehead. Why isn’t Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic Party making issue of the lack of action by the Republican-led Senate regarding the Supreme Court vacancy?

1968 was the first US presidential election that I closely followed … and I have engaged in them ever since. During that time, the current candidates are the 18th and 19th different candidates nominated by the two dominant parties. (Repeats counted once). I would unquestionably vote for any of the previous 17 candidates over Donald Trump. Yep … Nixon, Humphrey, McGovern, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Mondale, Bush (HW), Dukakis, Clinton, Dole, Bush(W), Gore, Kerry, Obama, McCain, and Romney would get my vote before The Bloviator.

Enough said.

To lead us into my upcoming absence, here a song from the greatest band not (for whatever strange reason) in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the High Court Truth … and Nothing but the Truth

Non-US readers, please excuse me because I’m tired of reading and hearing the repeated crap, it’s time to tackle many of the partisan hacks.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on 13 February 2016 created an opening on the US Supreme Court. About a month later (16 March), President Obama nominated Merrick Garland as Justice Scalia’s successor. Two months since the nomination, the US Senate and its Judicial Committee have done nothing to advance the process, plus presidential candidates have made the vacancy a campaign issue. It’s time to destroy the cover.

1) Republicans proclaim the “Biden Rule” as their key rationale – a term they developed based on a speech Vice President (then Senator) Joe Biden made in 1992 (which was a presidential election year. TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) As chair of the Judicial Committee, Biden did deliver a speech on 25 June 1992, a time between the conclusion of the last primary and the first party convention … whereas at the time of Scalia’s death, 1 caucus and 1 primary had been completed – therefore, many primaries and caucuses lie ahead.
  • b) At the time of Biden’s speech, there were no vacancies on the high court and no upcoming resignations … plus, no vacancies occurred during the election phase or during the lame-duck time between Election Day and Inauguration Day.
  • c) Biden stated that IF a vacancy would occur, he wouldn’t hold a hearing during the conventions and the contentious campaign, so President GHW Bush should delay a nomination until after the election and confirmation process would take proceed after the Senate reconvenes following the election (during the “lame duck” session).

2) Current Republican language of “Let the people decide” suggests the nomination should be left up to the next president and the next Senate – and the Biden Rule is the common rationale. WRONG.

  • a) Letting the next president decide was not the motive and never a suggestion by Mr. Biden.
  • b) The Constitution (Article 2) acts as the will of the people by granting explicit powers to the president to nominate and to the Senate for advise and consent.
  • c) The people had already decided by electing President Obama in 2012.

3) President Obama (when a senator) helped filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito in 2006. WRONG.

  • a) Although Sen. Obama favored a filibuster, such a vote within the Democratic caucus didn’t occur because there weren’t enough votes for the filibuster.
  • b) In other words, the filibuster of Justice Alito never occurred.

4) On 27 July 2007, 19 months before the end of President GW Bush’s term (in a speech to a legal organization), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, except in extraordinary circumstances.” TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) Sen. Schumer’s view is a partisan view that is very similar to the Republican position today.
  • b) I disagree with Sen. Schumer then, an in my opinion, he was wrong. Besides, two wrongs don’t make a right.
  • c) Sen. Schumer’s statement did not block any further nominations.

5) Republicans support the delay because they claim a nomination by President Obama would “shift in the Court”. TRUE, but the rest of the story…

  • a) The same people complaining about a possible shift in the court today were favoring a shift in the court in 2006 when conservative nominee Samuel Alito was replacing a moderate swing vote (Justice Sandra Day O’Connor).
  • b) For the record, Justice Alito’s process from nomination to confirmation took 3 months.
  • c) This is another example of partisans favoring a court to impose their view upon society instead of favoring a court for all Americans.

6) Sen. McConnell (R-KY and Senate Majority Leader) reasoned that Republicans are justified in delaying the nomination because Americans (in 2010) voted to give Republicans control of the Senate. True, but the rest of the story…

  • a) One third of the Senate seats (selected by voters in 33 states) determined the outcome – not all Americans.
  • b) The Constitution clearly states the role of a duly elected president, which starts from the moment he/she takes office until the time a successor is inaugurated. In this case, all Americans duly elected President Obama in 2012 and inaugurated him January 2013 in order to serve until Inauguration Day 2017.

7) Republicans use phrases as “We owe it to him (Scalia).” Let’s examine the statement …

  • a) Interesting, Justice Scalia proudly proclaimed his judicial philosophy to base ruling on the Constitution’s original intent.
  • b) Based on the Constitution’s text, it difficult to believe that Justice Scalia’s originalist view would approve that blatant partisan action is Constitutionally justified.
    Justice Scalia would also refer to the Federalist Papers, especially #10 written by James Madison (Founding Father and key architect of the Constitution) – where Madison counters the “mortal disease” effects of partisan factions.

8) Some Republicans state the delay is following “tradition” or “bipartisan practice” regarding vacancies during an election. Others proclaim President Obama is breaking practice by nominating a justice during an election year. WRONG.

  • a) Note: Supreme Court vacancies during a presidential election year are rare.
  • b) Presidents Hoover (1932), President Roosevelt (1940), and President Eisenhower (1956) nominated justices during election years who were confirmed.
  • c) President Reagan nominated of current justice Anthony Kennedy on 30 November 1987, whom the Senate confirmed the 1st week of February (days before the New Hampshire Primary).

9) NOTE: The Pew Research Center reported that of the 10 longest vacancies on the Supreme Court, 9 of 10 were in the 1800s – of which 6 occurred between 1842-1874 (time preceding and following the Civil War). The lone exception being Judge Henry Blackman on June 9, 1970. Since then, the average duration of vacancies has been 55 days.

10) NOTE: Let us not forget that within hours of Justice Scalia’s sudden, and before proclaiming any of the above reasons, and instead of praising Justice Scalia’s tenure, both Senate Majority Leader McConnell and current Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) issued strong statements about delaying the confirmation process.

11) NOTE: Possibly the only point Republicans did get right is that the on Constitution states the Senate involvement and duty, but does not provide a time-frame or how their decision-making process should proceed. Besides, Section 5 does provide the Senate the power “to determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”

My Final Thoughts
Hyper-partisanship purposely delivers a message of partisan constituents who probably get their news from a new organization that reports the message listeners want to hear. This repeating sound of partisan drivel resembles an echo chamber – that is repeating sounds where competing views are disallowed or (at best) under-representative. This information serves as the Kool Aid of choice so the partisans repeat what they perceive as resounding joy while actually displaying a profound ignorance.

Although a discussion of the question regarding a Supreme Court opening in an election year may be a worthy discussion, answers to pertinent questions are debatable, but the partisans will take the stances that are most beneficial to them at the time. However, Republicans do not have a corner on that market.

In this case, the Senate has an “advise and consent” role on behalf of the American people. Because of deliberate actions by Republicans, the Senate is miserably failing in its duties, and the reason is simple – acting for the benefit of party over doing their duty for the people.

On the Court

The news of the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia shocked everyone. He’s 79, but it was still unexpected. One of the benefits of the news is that we learn more about the person – and in this case, the one who is more than a justice.

I admit that at one time I wasn’t a supporter of Justice Scalia on the court. I imagine that me disagreeing with many of his opinions was a prime reason – but in retrospect, it also had to do with no understanding his viewpoint.

A phone conversation with a friend changed my view, but not in the way you may think. It’s important to understand that I consider (and call) my friend a partisan hack, and there is no way his belief system regarding his comment is the same as mine – or even changed my opinion of Justice Scalia’s written opinions.

Although I cannot recall the context of the phone conversation we were having, I probably made a negative comment about Justice Scalia’s presence on the court. My friend explained that he was happy Justice Scalia is on the high court because Scalia is a leading spokesperson for a judicial perspective, and it is important for that voice to be heard.

That statement resonated with me then, it still does today, and will continue to be in my mind tomorrow. If one believes (like I do) that the Supreme Court is a court for all the people, it is imperative that the court have a diversity of thought. There is no question that Justice Scalia was smart and had a defined philosophy, but he also wanted smart justices in the other chairs to discuss the issues from varying views. No wonder he had good personal relationships with Justices Kagan and Ginsberg who are philosophically opposite of him.

Justice Scalia was a lightning rod as people either adored or loathed him on the court. Although I haven’t emphasized it on these pages, but for some time I have felt that the worst recent nomination to the bench wasn’t President Reagan’s appointment of Justice Scalia, but President Bush’s (GW/43) appointment of Samuel Alito.

NOTE: For those who forget, President Bush initially nominated John Roberts to replace moderate Justice Sandra Day O’Conner (retiring). Then Chief Justice William Renquist (conservative) died, and then President Bush changed the Roberts nomination to Chief Justice, which lead to Alito replacing O’Conner. 

Justice Alito is (now and then) unquestionably qualified, but if one believes (as I do) that the Supreme Court is for all the people, Alito’s appointment was a severe shift to one judicial view. Four justices of like mind did not fit my view of the highest court in the land … thus leaving one swing vote.

Probably sooner than later, President Obama will nominate justice for the current vacant position. Sure, there is a lot of political bluster about the vacancy – a topic in itself and not the purpose of this post. President Obama’s nominees currently occupy two of the nine chairs – and there is no doubt that Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are qualified and occupy the same niche on the judicial spectrum – and a space similar to longer-term Justices Ginsberg and Breyer.

I hope President Obama doesn’t make the same mistake as his predecessor made with Justice Alito. Now is the time for President Obama to nominate a moderate to the court … a centrist … A jurist who can swing to the left and to the right to help the court deliver meaningful decision … A jurist who listens to the different views in order to make a decision … A jurist who does not hold a predictable judicial view. After all, the US Supreme Court is for all people, thus apart from one philosophy. Then again, I’m probably asking for too much because the partisans will continue to look after their own selfish priorities, which is not a Supreme Court for all Americans.