Top 7 Beatles Album

7.  Let It Be (1970)

It’s a strange one with some live recordings that sound fresh but not very cohesive. It has a few big hits including Let It Be, The Long and Winding Road and Get Back.

6.  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

Some great tunes along with some not so great ones.  The great ones, of course, are some of their best like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Getting Better, and With A Little Help From My Friends.

5. The White Album (1968)

The first Beatles album I ever purchased with money from my paper route.  I tell you this, the song Revolution 9 scared the hell out of me and still does.  Notable tunes include, Back in the  USSR, Dear Prudence, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, Julia, & Revolution 1.

4. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

The Fool On The Hill is one of my favorite Beatles tunes.  Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields Forever, and All You Need Is Love are strong contenders for my all time favorites.  And all in one package.  Amazing.

3.  Abbey Road (1969)

Here Comes The Sun and the Sun King are sublime tunes.  Come Together and Something are something too.  This album doesn’t contain hit after hit, but the great songs present are great and the album is one of the most cohesive of the lot.

2.  Rubber Soul (1965)

A bit of a sleeper on the lists, not usually ranked as high as two, but for me, it is probably the most interesting one of all.  The tracks are mostly  chill but the band seems to be exploring new concepts and this keeps my attention throughout. Norwegian Wood, Michelle, In My Life, You Won’t See Me, Nowhere Man, and Girl are highlights.

1.  Revolver (1966)

After the impressive Rubber Soul, it is no surprise to me that Revolver finds the Beatles really hitting their stride.  There are no bad songs on this album and some little-known ones that are strange and entertaining like Doctor Robert.  The hits on this one remain some of their greatest tunes of all time: Taxman, Elenor Rigby, She Said She Said, Good Day Sunshine, and Got To Get You Into My Life.

Who’s It Going To Be T or C?

A commentary from the political desk of Ribbie’s Weblog

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Trump could win.  No, seriously.  If you don’t want Trump to become the next President of the United States, here’s what NOT to do.

Don’t stay home on election day.  Not a good idea. If you think your vote doesn’t matter, you’re wrong.  It does.  Even if you live in a solidly blue or red state.  In this Orwellian election cycle, red is blue; purple, pink; blue is red; up, down; fact is fiction.  Hey, my state of Massachusetts is as blue as it gets, but it has elected a Republican governor in 5 out of the last 6 elections since 1991.  It will likely go for Hillary Clinton in the general, but only because there is a strong HRC campaign organization in the area.  In other traditionally blue states like PA and OH, Trump and Clinton are running neck and neck in the polling.  And for you Texans reading this, despite the fact that there are significantly more registered GOP voters than Dems in your Lonestar state, don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter – that Trump’ll win anyway.  Not necessarily.  Cruz won your state as did HRC.  And if you are a Cruz supporter, don’t forget that the Trump campaign has treated him with utter contempt and disrespect.  They invited him to speak at the convention to embarrass him.  Don’t believe for a minute that it was a courtesy to offer him a primetime speaking slot.  They knew he was not going to endorse in his speech and they also knew that he would be booed off the stage, which happened for the most part.  His wife actually had to be escorted out of the building for fear the crowd would turn on her.  For the record, I don’t like him much, but I admire his courage to speak in front of a hostile crowd AND for giving you, if you supported him, the license to vote your conscience.  So vote your conscience and might I suggest the libertarian candidate?  That would be the ticket of former Republican governors, Johnson and Weld.

Don’t vote for Trump because you are a Republican and he’s the nominee.  First of all, he’s no more a Republican than Bernie is a Democrat.  He is a reality star, out to boost his brand and business, not make America great. Do you really want to give a billionaire a hand and your vote?  Ok, so you hate Hillary, fine, don’t vote for her BUT don’t vote for him either, especially if you feel in your heart of hearts that the man is a little off his rocker.  Here’s what you can do instead, vote for the Libertarian ticket, and that would be the aforementioned Johnson and Weld.  Don’t waste a vote on Dr. Jill Stein, who would like to play the role of spoiler and is doing all she can to disunify the Democratic Party, which has a big top big enough for moderates, progressives, and greens. Or you could go to the other side and join me in voting for HRC.  No one will ever know.  You can tell your friends and family that you did what you had to do and leave it at that.  Alternatively, and not recommended, but you could find an excuse not to vote.  Car trouble.  Had to work early or late, or whatever.  If in Texas or some other voter suppressed state, you could conveniently lose your voter ID and gun permit.  I’m sorry. I’m being rude, I know and what’s more, I know not to mess with the great state of Texas having lived there and with family and many friends there.

If you are a Democrat, regardless of who you supported in the primary, or an Independent voter on the fence, vote HRC, if for no other reason than the next president could get 4 supreme court picks.  Folks, these are lifetime appointments.  They’ll be ruling on immigration, gun laws, affirmative action, union issues, marriage equality, reproductive rights, health care, climate change to name a few for years to come. Truly, the balance of the court is at stake.  Will it lean left or tilt right?  Your vote could make the difference.

Dems, it’s time to unify.  Put aside your special interests in the interest of defeating Trump. Don’t let Trump’s rhetoric about HRC fool you.  She’s not a criminal.  She should not be locked up.  She is not a compulsive liar.  On the contrary, practically everything Trump has said over the course of his year-long campaign has been fact checked as untruthful.

Finally, consider this:

In a poll, all of these words were used to describe Trump: ignorant, stupid, idiot, jerk, dangerous, demagogic, bombastic, arrogant, horrible, racist, asshole.

In the same poll, these words were used to describe Clinton: qualified, experienced, good, smart, intelligent, nice, strong, determined, great, Presidential.

Ok, I left out the crooked Hillary mentions and that some feel she’s untrustworthy and dishonest and a criminal – which of course she is not.  And I left out some of Trump’s positives like that he is “honest”, even though fact checks suggest otherwise, and that he is great, bold and outspoken.  But I also left out that people find him to be a loudmouth liar, so there.   Now for you, who’s it going to be, T or C?

The choice between the two is a no-brainer for me.  Think.

Enough is Enough

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There’s been a lot of violence in the U.S. and the world lately with terrorist attacks, mass shootings, police killings of black men, and the killing of police in retaliation.  And much of it has its roots in racism, extreme hatred and the misappropriation of religion.  But what can be done?  Below are some suggestions:

Gun Control

No more semi-automatic weapons for gun lovers.  Hunters can keep shotguns and rifles. Handguns are fine with a permit but no more permits to carry a concealed weapon, though. We must resolve to strike down all open carry laws and institute a gun buyback program and extensive background checks.  Congress must close the gun show and internet sales loopholes.  And the U.S. must hold gun manufacturers liable for certain gun deaths.  Finally, the police must be disarmed and police departments demilitarized to gain the trust of the communities where they serve. Community policing needs to be emphasized to focus on building relationships between officers and the people they are sworn to protect.  If police working the community beat were unarmed and trained to de-escalate with words, not arms, it would go a long way toward building trust with people.  And policemen should not be immune from prosecution for using deadly force when such force was found to have been unnecessary.

End Racism

First, Congressional districts that have been racially gerrymandered have to be redrawn to give voters fair representation.  In addition, the courts must strike down voter ID laws and ensure there are reasonable numbers of polling places to prevent long voter lines. States should all have same day voter registration laws and automatic registration for citizens when driver’s licenses are obtained.  We have to make it easier not harder to vote to save our democracy, which has become limited and less responsive to the will of the people.

Second, we must preserve and expand affirmative action laws. Similarly, we must promote more diversity hirings among faculty at colleges and universities and among teaching staff in K-12.  And we should adopt Bernie’s vision of Free Community College and State University tuition for low-income students but with built-in supports to ensure high retention rates. Lastly, curricula at all levels need to deal with race in America.  The current crop of white-washed textbooks should be banned and burned.

We can’t learn to live together if we don’t live together and learn together.  Communities should be required to diversify.  Communities and neighborhoods within a city should reflect the general population of the city or town.  There should be no more “other side of the tracks” divisions which often produce separate and unequal schools.  Mixed housing development stock should be promoted so that people pay according to income and people of mixed socio-economic statuses throughout a city or town live together.

Stop Terrorism

We need to stop the drone killings.  “Collateral damage” or civilian casualties do nothing to win the hearts and minds of would be friends in the fight against terrorism.  ISIS, Al-Queda, and other terrorist groups do not represent the religious views of the billions of worshipers of Islam, so our efforts should not be framed as a war against Islamic extremists.  Terrorist groups use this rhetoric as proof that the U.S. is waging war on Islam and this helps them to recruit impressionable youth. The right, ironically, just like the terrorists, needs an enemy to prove that Christians are being persecuted to advance their theocratic vision of America.  They have found the “enemy” in Islam and President Obama. Notice that the conspiracy theorists have argued that  President Obama is a secret Muslim who wants to destroy Christianity by refusing to say “Islamic terrorism”, and by preserving the separation of church and state which is a hallmark of a free society.

I forgot who said it, a celebrity, I think, or possibly a comedian, that the best way to deal with terrorism is to kill them with mocking humor.  That would do more to destroy their purpose than taking them seriously with all of the military might that we can bring to bear. Look what good that has done us so far.  Rather than deploy the special forces, deploy a team of comedy agents.  Have something like an SNL, In Living Color, Portlandia road show to tour the world with skits lampooning terrorists.

I also think that there should be a way to ban terrorist and hate groups from social media.  Couldn’t some MIT computer science engineers hack into and jam their websites?  And aren’t there some CIA geeks who could send a signal that would fry terrorist groups’ electronics.  Surely it could be done.  Then, like Bin Laden, the jihadists would be reduced to recruiting by cassette tapes, which, of course, few people would even have the equipment to play.

Peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis also has to be a priority.  Whether it’s a one-state or two-state solution, if the conflict is not resolved, the region will continue to be unstable which helps to foment violence and terrorist activity.

Finally, the right should stop undermining U.S. diplomatic efforts in treasonous fashion by sending letters to foreign leaders urging them to reject negotiations AND inviting heads of states to address Congress simply to spite the President.  Their actions and the hateful and racist rhetoric coming from the Trump campaign in opposition to immigrants, to Muslims, to NATO and the European Union do nothing but further destabilize the world and breed more hate, terrorism, and fascism.

Enough is Enough!

Who Wins 2016 – 50 State Breakdown

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From the Political Desk of Ribbie’s Weblog:

The Democratic ticket of Clinton/Kaine will win the general election 335-203 over Trump/Gingrich. Now I could be way off. Kaine and Gingrich might not be the running mates. Clinton could win in a landslide, with Trump’s negative numbers, whose to say it won’t happen.  However, Hillary’s unfavorability numbers are also alarmingly high.  The truth is that many people can’t stand either candidate which means the race is more likely than not to be close.  And factor in other options for disaffected voters like a write-in or not voting at all, the green party candidate, Jill Stein or Gary Johnson of the libertarian  party, we could be looking at a real battle between the “outsider” anti-establishment Republican candidate and team Clinton with the Democratic establishment.  Where Bernie supporters go is up for debate, but unless they don’t mind the prospect of Trump, some will chose Clinton.  Others may find it impossible to vote for either and chose one of the alternative options above.

Here’s how I got to the electoral totals.  Tap on map.

Republicans win 203

  1. Alaska – Sarah Palin.  She’s one of Trump’s only surrogates who can stir up a crowd into a lunatic frenzy and she is still very popular in Alaska.  If no one else accepts the VP invitation, she’ll be on another losing ticket.
  2. Idaho –  A lot of people are living in their own private Idaho and just want the government to get the hell out of their lives.
  3. Montana – My guess is that this is survivalist country and like Idaho, folks want to be left the hell alone.
  4. Wyoming – NRA country.
  5. ND – Obama blamed for everything bad.
  6. SD – Obama blamed for everything bad.
  7. OK – You got no fracking business killing drilling.
  8. AZ – Hands off my guns plus McCain blames Obama for all terrorism, oh, and that anti-immigrant Sherrif is popular.
  9. TX – Don’t mess with Texas or else they’ll secede…again.
  10. AR – Many Arkansans hate Clinton plus Senator Cotton tried to undermine the Iranian agreement in an action that showed supreme disrespect to a sitting President.  And Wal-mart’s anti-union rules rule.
  11. KS – A state full of right-to-lifers who are against planned parenthood.
  12. MS – Always votes GOP and has been messing with the books to suppress the vote.
  13. AL – Always votes GOP and loves Trump’s rheteroic.  USA USA USA.
  14. MO – Pretty much the same as KS with evalangelicals who find some things in Trumpspeak attractive.
  15. GA – Right to Work state – fiercely anti-union and pro-gun with Wal-Mart as state’s largest employer.
  16. SC – Some pissed about the confederate flag being outlawed, but Republican Governor Halley remains popular. Trey Gowdy is a big anti-Clinton cheerleader and won’t let Benghazi go.
  17. TN – Gun state. Volunteerism would be their answer to social problems.
  18. KY – Mitch McConnell land.
  19. WI – Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus, Scott Walker – safely in the bag for the GOP, even though they are not enthusiastic supporters of Trump.
  20. IN – Trump bringing back lost manufacturing jobs.
  21. WV – Mountain Moma…Trump bringing back the mining industry.
  22. NH – because the granite state would like to secede like TX if they could – no taxes for the live free and die state.
  23. RI – The Dems haven’t helped them much.
  24. NE – Pioneer state that loves them some XL pipline.
  25. LA – Gun state.

Democrats win 335

  1. NY – HRC’s home state.  Has long connections there.
  2. MA – Elizabeth Warren will deliver the Bay State.
  3. NJ – Is a blue state with an unpopular GOP Governor in Chris Christie.  They are fed up with climate change deniers.
  4. ME – A blue state but not a lock.
  5. VT – Bernie will deliver but indirectly.  Former Governor Dean is a strong surrogate.
  6. FL – Gun control could be gaining support after Orlando shootings. Hillary wins Florida with strong turnout, despite slight to Wasserman Schultz, and Gov. Scott’s attempts to suppress the vote.
  7. NC – Strong African American voter turnout will make the difference.
  8. CA – strong blue state with Jerry Brown endorsement
  9. OR – strong blue state with good coffee and the show Portlandia.
  10. WA – Strong blue state.
  11. NV – Harry Reid saves the day.
  12. UT – Mormons won’t get behind Trump; Romney will see to that.
  13. NM – Lots of Latinos promise to turn out plus Bill Richardson is back on the Clinton bandwagon.
  14. MN – A purple rain state turned blue state because Trump would be a disaster.
  15. MI – A blue state with strong support from the African American and Muslim American communities.  Republicans took big hit for Flint.
  16. IL – The Obamas will deliver the state where Hillary grew up.
  17. OH – Sherrod Brown delivers the rust belt swing state.
  18. PA –  She’ll win Pittsburg and Philadephia, but it may be close overall.
  19. MD – HRC should win with strong African American turnout. Martin O’Malley endorsement could help.
  20. DC – Solidly in the bag for the Dems.
  21. VA – Democratic leaning state  with Tim Kaine securing the deal.
  22. CO – I can’t imagine stoners voting for Trump.
  23. CT – Gun control.
  24. DE – Joe Biden.
  25. HI – President Obama’s home state.
  26. IA – Trump doesn’t have much of a ground game there.  Plus, he called Iowan voters stupid

HRC’s Worst Case Path to Victory

 

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Mooving on In

Even though Trump is a train wreck with a 70% unfavorability rating, Secretary Clinton may still have a difficult path to victory.  Her unfavorable rating is at 55% which is not exactly a prescription for victory.  The truth is that a big chunk of the electorate dislikes both candidates.  And while there are other options – the libertarian slate, and the green party, for example, neither are expected to make much of an impact on the election and are currently polling in single digits.

Clinton supporters want Bernie to drop out and endorse her candidacy, but Bernie has vowed to continue “the revolution” and seems to be in no hurry to concede.  His campaign has not gone so far as to call Clinton superdelegates to convince them to switch sides, but they have not yet said definitively that they won’t. Bernie clearly wants to use his leverage to extract as many concessions from Clinton and the DNC as possible, including the removal of Wasserman Schultz as party chair, and commitments to progressive positions on the platform such as the $15/hr minimum wage and a single-payer universal health care system.  The problem is that Bernie doesn’t have as much leverage as he may think. In fact, there is no reason for the DNC and Clinton to appease him any longer.  He has lost, fair and square; there’s no chance that he will become President unless Clinton names him as her VP and something happens to her, which is a highly unlikely scenario. And, in terms of the electoral map,  Clinton doesn’t need ALL of Bernie’s supporters to flock to her anymore.  It’s really on them as to whether they would prefer Trump or Clinton.

Clinton, not Sanders, has all the leverage now.  She has the entire DNC leadership behind her.  She has the endorsements of key progressives such as Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, both of whom are on her VP short list.  The President, whose approval rating is at 55%, and the Vice-President will be on the campaign trail for her. She has a heavy-hitting cast of  surrogates already on the trail, and frankly, doesn’t need Bernie.  It would be nice, of course, to have him campaigning for her, but he won’t make the difference. She has a clear path to victory without his support.  Even in the worst case scenario where HRC would lose the blue states that Bernie won during the primary season:  Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington (the strange state with both a primary and caucus where she won the primary, but lost the caucus) Maine, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Vermont, and lose all of the traditional red states, even the ones she won in a landslide in the primaries, she would still win the General election, granted by only 1 electoral vote. Tap on the link to see that hypothetical map.

Obviously, for Hillary to win, she needs to win the swing states she won in the primaries – Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and Ohio.  She could actually win without taking Pennsylvania and Florida, but it would require her to turn a few red states. Given the importance of Virginia and Ohio, I think it prudent for her to select either Tim Caine of Virgina or Sherrod Brown of Ohio as her running mate. I once thought HRC would need Elizabeth Warren on the ticket to appease Bernie Sanders, but she can win without his endorsement before the convention and without him persuading his supporters to vote for her, something I can’t see him doing even with an endorsement.  The millennial Bernistas may or may not vote for her, but it won’t matter in the end. She’s got this. Unfortunately,  for those who feel the Bern, the revolution may be with a small r and abbreviated to revo. The real revolution will have to wait.

Arizona Birkenstock Birko-Flor Review

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New Pair of Arizona Birko-Flor narrow width sandals

I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about a shoe before and probably never will again.  I almost posted a user comment on Zappos where I bought the pair but decided not to give away my content to the website.  I was pleased with their service, Zappos that is. Buying the shoe, sandal, in this case, was easy.  Zappos has a wide selection of shoes in all sizes and widths, provides a UPS tracking link, and delivers on time for free.

But this review is not about Zappos, it’s about the Arizona Birkenstock Birko-Flor sandal, which I am now wearing or breaking-in I should say.  Where to start?  First, this is my third pair.  The first pair lasted about 10 years and the 2nd pair, darn near 15.  Both pairs were leather with the classic footbed.

 

DSC_0687 Time to Retire the 15-year-old pair of Birkenstock Arizona leather sandal
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Clinton VP Will B?

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If I were a Democratic strategist, and I’m not, but if I were, I would submit a short list of Veep candidates for Senator Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee to consider.

My top choice would be Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  She knows how to get under Trump’s skin like no other.  As one of Hillary’s most effective surrogates, Senator Warren has shown that she can stand up to the bully in the schoolyard with her sharp tongue and debating skills.  And the historic significance of two women on the ticket cannot be overstated.  What’s more, Elizabeth Warren is a progressive who Senator Bernie Sanders could support as a VP, and maybe has already suggested her name.  Her views are aligned with his, especially with respect to Wall Street reform, income inequality, college debt, and the minimum wage.  Bernie supporters would likely warm up to Clinton if he were to praise her for choosing Warren.  Hillary needs Bernie’s supporters to win the general election.  If Bernie supporters don’t vote for Secretary Clinton or don’t vote at all, it will be a close race.  If some vote for Trump (as some have said they would do) he could win.

For Dems, the downside to E. Warren as VP would be the loss of a senate seat.  The Republican Governor of Massachusetts would appoint a Republican to replace her.  Also, Hillary doesn’t need Warren to deliver Massachusetts because the Bay State is solidly blue but it does have an interesting independent streak which might make the general  election a little closer than it might have been against an establishment GOP candidate.

If not E. Warren than Julian Castro would be the next best choice.  He is a young political star on the rise from Texas, former mayor of San Antonio and current Secretary of  Housing.   He would be the first Latino on a major ticket and might help to attract more Latino voters to support the ticket including some young activists who have been supporting Bernie Sanders.  Texas is a solidly red state but Castro might help to tighten the race there.

One other to consider –  Sen. Sherrod Brown.  He’s a progressive type from the swing state of Ohio.  Rumors have it that Sen. Sanders feels betrayed by Brown’s endorsement of Hillary, but it appears that Bernie was just blowing off steam. Bernie supporters might like his liberal positions  and feel that he would push Clinton more to the left. She absolutely needs to win Ohio and Brown could make the difference.  The downside is that he is another white male who does not reflect the diversity of the electorate.

Longshots: Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.  The Governors of both states are Democrats which means they could appoint a Democrat to fill the vacant Senate seat.  The idea of an all-woman ticket is appealing but the downside is that it may not be the best strategy for gaining male support, Trump’s best demographic On the other hand, it may be a clever strategy for gaining the support of GOP women who can’t stomach Trump.

Drumpf Will Self-Dumpf

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The GOP knows it cannot survive as a party with Donald J. Drumpf at the top of the ticket. For the record, Drumpf is Trump’s ancestral name changed to Trump in Europe long before he was born. I use Drumpf in jest because of its silly sound in English and not derisively, although if he takes offense, he should learn to take a dose of his own medicine which he frequently delivers in the form of nicknames to ridicule his opponents. The presumptive and  presumptious GOP nominee seems only to care about his brand and ego. As far as I can tell, he has no core ethical principles.  He appears to say and do only what he believes will be in the best interest of his brand, not the country, and he has shown no restraint in this regard.  Drumpf has repeatedly made racist remarks against Mexicans, even calling a judge of Mexican heritage, who was born in Indiana, unfit to preside in a case brought against Trump University because as Trump put it, “I’m building a wall!” Drumpf has called for a ban on Muslims entering this country, making an exception for the Mayor of London, until “we can figure out what is going on.” As a result of this policy that he now calls a suggestion, he doubts whether Muslim judges could be partial in court cases in which Trump concerns are involved.  What?

Drumpf is the most divisive candidate I can remember in my lifetime.  Exhibit 1: The clashes at rallies recently in California.  Doesn’t it strike you as unusual that the Drumpf campaign would choose locations where the candidate has virtually no support, where  large numbers of students including latino activists would be upset by his presence and come out in full protest? He is a provocateur and knew of the potential for violent clashes and wanted the cameras to spread images of prideful flag holding Mexican-Americans and immigrants that Trump wants the electorate to believe are un-American, illegal and violent.  He relishes chaos and favors the tactic of race-baiting to divide people.

His slogan to Make America Great Again suggests that America is on the decline, which one could argue, but Trump’s particular arguments don’t hold water.  He argues America doesn’t win anymore.  He claims the military and our foreign policy positions are weak citing the Iran deal and the continued existence of ISIS and NATO.  He suggests that our trade deals are bad and have led to outsourcing and the loss of manufacturing jobs to cheap foreign labor.  Some of these impacts have to do with corporate greed.  So Trump would incentivize American companies to return home with more tax breaks – some corporations pay very little at all as it is – and Trump would call for massive tax breaks for the top 1%. America, however, on many measures can be said to be already great or  even greater than before.  We have a stable constitution and system of democracy which give Americans the right to vote (or not); the right to free speech and assembly; the right to freely worship any religion or none at all.  On other quality of life metrics, Americans are living longer thanks to Obamacare which has insured millions of the previously uninsured.  Gas prices are the lowest they’ve been since 2008 and much lower than during the Bush years. Unemployment remains below 5% and for President Obamas’s 8-year tenure, (8.1%) lower than President Reagan’s numbers at (8.2%). In fact, the unemployment rate of 4.9% so far for 2016, is the lowest rate since November of 2007 before the financial meltdown of 2008, and the stock market has become more stable and productive due to regulatory reform. On the foreign policy front, the Taliban, Al Queda, and ISIS have been kept in check of late; chemical weapons have been reduced in the Middle East and Iran is no longer in pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Far from being on the decline, America is still a key world leader and for better or worse, the only real superpower in terms of overall influence.

America, while great on some measures, is not so great on others.  There are serious problems that America must tackle, including income equality, immigration reform, racism, crumbling infrastructure, gun violence, climate change, and spiraling education costs to name a few on the domestic front. And America must do its part to help solve the refugee crisis in Europe, to broker peace in the Middle East and to reduce the threat of global terrorism.

But what Drumpf means by Make America Great Again is that America is becoming more diverse which is a direct threat to white supremacy.  White supporters of Drumpf are freaking out over changing demographics or the “browning” of America which will lead to declining white influence, power, and control. Drumpf has done a masterful job of  stoking these fears and insecurities and now has an army of angry whites who feel wronged by an African American president who Trump has tried to delegitimize by calling into question his citizenship and his academic and presidential accomplishments. Trump entertains all kinds of conspiracy theories and insinuates that Obama is a Muslim at heart because he won’t use the phrase Islamic terrorism, and that he is hell bent on taking down Christianity, a religion that Trump, ironically, appears to know very little about – remember the 2 Corinthians comment?

Finally, it would appear that the GOP leadership has had enough of Drumpf’s schtick.  They no longer support him and don’t want to be associated with his racist rhetoric. The general electorate has become increasingly alarmed about this unhinged candidate whose bizarre behavior is no longer entertaining and has become frightening. And Drumpf himself understands that his poll numbers have dropped significantly but is too stubborn and egotistical to pivot to unite the GOP.  He only cares about his brand, and now the brand is, as Trump would say, “taking a hit.”  As a businessman, Drumpf knows when to cut his losses and I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped out of the race shortly before or at the GOP convention.  And who will step in to save the day for the GOP?  Will it be Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney? How about Marco Rubio? Will Ted Cruz be back in the mix? God, I hope not! Who would the leadership get behind? Could Jeb Bush reemerge? I had predicted from the beginning the nominees would be Clinton and Bush.  Might I be right after all?

NDT 2016 Like No Other

At least not like the last seven years.  For starters, a team from Northwestern or Georgetown did not make it to finals. The last year that didn’t happen was 2009; ironically, the last year a Kansas team won the NDT.  Congratulations to Kansas RB and Harvard HS for advancing to the last round. Though both schools have excellent credentials for debate, neither school has had a team in the finals since the aforementioned 2009 and remarkably, as competitive as Harvard teams have been over the years under Sherry and Dallas, the last time Harvard made it to finals was in 1995 when they placed second and the last time they won it all was 26 years ago.  Congratulations to Harvard HS for bringing glory back to Harvard and to Hemanth Sanjeev for his 3rd speaker finish.

No, the 2016 NDT is not like any another.  For the first time in history, probably, although I don’t know for sure, a freshman made it to the finals – Sion Bell, who debated at the TOC last year. In fact, I would guess the Kansas freshman/sophomore tandem of Bell and Robinson (Robinson earned the 6th speaker award) are the youngest team to ever reach finals at the NDT.  And it was a young final round.  Harvard’s Sanjeev himself is only a sophomore. In fact, there were quite a number of teams this year with freshman reps who won a number of rounds and a respectable number of ballots, including Emory FL, an all freshman team with 5 wins and 17 ballots.  Based on TOC records from 2015, there were at least 13 teams with freshmen debaters at the 2016 NDT.

This NDT was the one with the first team to make it to finals who did not get a first round bid.  And if Kansas BR, the team in reference, had won, it would have been an enormous upset after they dropped all 6 rounds in previous tournaments during the season to Harvard HS, who ranked as the top team of the year and won the Copeland Award.

Congratulations to Sherry Hall, the 2016 Unger Award Winner and to her team Harvard HS (David Herman and Hemanth…

Posted by National Debate Tournament (NDT) on Saturday, April 2, 2016 

And though Kansas lost on a 5-0, it was a good round watched by a number of debate enthusiasts from around the country – nearly 1,000 watched the stream on debate vision.

This NDT is the one in which the Kentucky squad made a splash with three teams who won 16 prelim rounds and 50 ballots.  Only one 3 team squad had more wins and ballots – Emory with 17 wins and 51 ballots.  Both Emory and Kentucky had teams advance to the Elim rounds.  Kentucky GN made it to Quarters – Grasse earned 9th speaker; impressively, all three Emory teams made it to Doubles; KS to Octos.

One could argue that the best two team delegation was UC Berkeley with 12 prelim wins and 37 ballots, more wins than Baylor’s three team slate and more ballots than the Texas trio.  In fairness, both squads had Freshmen debaters, who with their partners each won 3 rounds, which is nothing to be ashamed of – Baylor BC earned 12 ballots. Berkeley SM reached Octos and SW, Quarters.  John Spurlock took the top speaker award; Srinidhi Muppalla earned the 18th speaker; Sergent-Leventhal and Wimsatt earned the 4th and 13th speakers respectively.

The strongest 1 team slate would go to Vermont BL with 6 prelim wins and 17 ballots going into Doubles. Taylor Brough earned 2nd speaker.

Congratulations to all the debaters at the 2016 NDT.  Well-done!  Now, go get some rest.

 

 

Hillary needs Bernie’s support

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I am a Hillary Clinton supporter but have been impressed with Bernie Sanders’ campaign.  Amazingly, he continues to pile up victory after victory, most recently sweeping Hawaii, Alaska and Washington on a Saturday when most Americans were watching the Elite 8 NCAA tournament games.  And while he clearly has the momentum, he is still trailing in the delegate count and has practically no chance to win the nomination even if he wins the rest of the democratic races, unless Hillary Clinton drops out.

As a Hillary Clinton supporter, I am concerned about her performance and worry that her wins to date have been mostly in states that typically vote for the Republican candidate in the General election.  Bernie seems to be winning the states that Hillary needs to carry in the General to have a chance at victory.  My fear is that Bernie supporters in the states he’s won so far that went to the Democrats in 2012: WA, MI, MN, VT, ME, NH, HI, and CO will refuse to back her, or only do so if she adopts positions that he supports.  In fact, Bernie has indicated that he won’t campaign for her without getting something in return. The problem is that if she does turn sharply to the left in the general, she will lose and lose badly.  And she may lose anyway, even if Bernie accepts defeat with humility because so many of BS supporters simply do not like her, thanks to Bernie’s portrayal of her as an establishment hawk  wedded to Wall Street, wealthy donors, and Obamacare that Bernie and the Republicans reject, the very health care system that allows many of the Millenials, who make up a large portion of his supporters, to stay on their parent’s health care plan until they reach 26 years of age.  This same Obamacare has provided coverage for many people in the U.S. who formerly had no insurance at all.  Unfortunately, BS supporters don’t seem to understand that if BS loses (and he inevitably will) Trump or Cruz could be their (my, our) next President.  BS supporters, I know it will be difficult for you to embrace HC, but I urge you to read up on what a Cruz or Trump presidency would look like.

Not all is gloom and doom for HC.  While Bernie has won states that vote Dem. in the General, so too has Hillary.  In fact, for comparison sake, if the contest were a General election between Bernie and Hillary, she’d have won the equivalent of 103 electoral votes in Blue states to date, while BS would have won just 57.  She’s won the big ones that went DEM in 2012:  IL, OH, and FL.  He’s been winning the smaller Blue states (Blue in 2012) like HI, VT and NH.  He’d have to nearly run the table of the remaining Blue states to best her in electoral votes (taking all the Red States out of the equation) meaning Bernie would need to win NY, NJ, CA, CT, PA, DC, OR, RI, NM, MD and DE, a highly unlikely scenario.

If Hillary wins the nomination, as she’s on pace to do despite Bernie’s momentum, she will need to win most of the Blue states that President Obama won in 2012, including the blue states that Bernie has already won which include: WA, HI, VT, CO, MN, MI, NH and ME.  He and his supporters HAVE to deliver these states to HC in the General.  I know cooperation is not in Bernie’s DNA.  For the record, he is notorious for rarely compromising in Congress which is the basis for governance in a democracy.  He is as well known for his failure to seek or attract bipartisan support for legislation he has put forth or to support moderate legislation.  In fact, he and Cruz are on opposite extremes of the ideological spectrum and have done very little in their careers to help break the gridlock on capital hill and have actually, in many ways, contributed to it with purist and angry views.  The truth is, ideologues have a hard time uniting people and governing.

BS supporters, take a close look at HC.  Whether you like her not, she WILL appoint a supreme court judge who WON’T take us back to the stone age; she’ll protect Obamacare and try to expand it; she BELIEVES in climate change and science; she’ll protect Social Security (expanding it is a pipe dream, sorry) and won’t raise the retirement age to 96; she’ll work to address the issues of racism, including prison and police reform and will challenge states who insist on suppressing the vote;  she’ll support an INCREASE in minimum wage; she’ll support women’s rights; she’ll support the LGBT community; she’ll fight for sensible gun control laws; she’ll fight ISIS intelligently; she’ll continue to improve relationships with our allies, which is vital in a global community – we cannot allow the U.S. to become an isolationist nation, nor to promote protectionism which will spark a trade war and kill the economy.

An HC presidency would be infinitely preferable to a Trump or Cruz regime.  With all due respect to BS and to his supporters, he can’t win – the delegate math is against him.  After the convention, when Bernie’s defeat becomes official, please support and more importantly, VOTE for HC in the General.  Your future – OUR future is at stake.

 

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