Friday, June 17, 2016

The World Will Turn....

I used to listen to this song when I was a teenager growing up in Richmond, Virginia. White kid, gay, surrounded by anger and more piss and vinegar than anyone should have to bear. It always made me feel better.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

CA Imp. Info if You Are Voting June 7th #VivaBernie #Sanders2016 #FeelTheBern

If you are an independent and not a Democrat and you wish to vote for Bernie at the polls June 7 or in early voting, be please aware of the following, and DO NOT ACCEPT A PROVISIONAL BALLOT, no matter what they tell you. Insist the poll workers are misinformed and tell them it is your right to vote a crossover ballot. The crossover ballot to vote for Bernie is simply this: the regular Democratic ballot. Read on, and SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!


1. Don’t write Bernie Sanders' name in your ballot. If you don’t see his name printed on the ballot that means you have the wrong ballot, and you have to exchange it for the correct ballot. If you are registered as a No Party Preference voter, you have to ask for a crossover ballot for the Democratic Party. The Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, on the official website

, clearly states that an NPP voter may ask for a ballot for any of three parties. These parties notified the Secretary of State 135 days prior to the elections that they would allow NPP voters to vote their presidential ballot. This means that they cannot run out of ballots, because the cross-over ballot is identical to the ballot of a Democratic Party member! The particular section states:
“Why? Each political party has the option of allowing NPP voters to vote in their presidential primary election. 135 days before the election, political parties must notify the Secretary of State's office whether or not they will allow NPP voters to vote in their presidential primary election. The above three parties notified the Secretary of State that they will allow NPP voters to request their party’s presidential ballot for the June 7, 2016, Presidential Primary Election.”
• American Independent Party
• Democratic Party
• Libertarian Party

Traducción: NO ESCRIBA el nombre de Bernie Sanders en su papeleta de votación. Si no ve el nombre de Bernie Sanders impreso en su papeleta de votación, eso quiere decir que tiene la papeleta de votación equivocada y tiene que intercambiarla por la papeleta correcta. Si usted se ha inscrito como votante sin preferencia de partido, tiene que pedir una papeleta o balota cruzada (crossover ballot) del Partido Demócrata. El sitio web del Secretario de Estado, Alex Padilla, (
) dice claramente que un votante sin preferencia de partido puede pedir una papeleta de votación de uno de 3 partidos. Los tres partidos siguientes notificaron al Secretario de Estado 135 días antes de la elecciones que permitirían que los votantes sin preferencia de partido (NPP por sus siglas en inglés) podrán votar su papeleta de votación presidencial:
“¿Por qué? Cada partido político tiene la opción de permitir que los votantes sin preferencia de partido voten en sus elecciones presidenciales de primaria. 135 días antes de la elecciones, los partidos políticos tienen que notificar al Secretario de Estado si van o no a permitir que los votantes sin preferencia de partido voten en sus elecciones presidenciales de primaria. Los tres partidos indicados con anterioridad le notificaron al Secretario de Estado que van a permitir que los votantes sin preferencia de partido pidan la papeleta de votación presidencial para su partido para las elecciones presidenciales de primaria del 7 de junio de 2016.”
• Partido Americano Independiente
• Partido Demócrata
• Partido Libertario
2. What follows is copied directly from the Secretary of State’s website; I have translated it because no translation was provided. / Lo que sigue viene directamente del sitio web del Secretario de Estado: Lo he traducido porque no hay traducción provista.
How to request a party ballot? The NPP voter may ask their county elections office or poll worker, at their polling place, for a ballot for one of the above three parties. An NPP voter may not request more than one party's ballot.
A vote-by-mail voter is who is also an NPP voter may contact their county elections office or complete and mail or deliver a vote-by-mail ballot application to their county elections office. The vote-by-mail ballot application must arrive by May 31, 2016.
¿Cómo pedir la papeleta de votación de un partido? El votante sin preferencia de partido puede pedir una papeleta de votación en la oficina electoral del condado (lista en este enlace county elections office) o a su trabajador electoral en el sitio de votación, para uno de los tres partidos que se enumeran más arriba. No podrá pedir una papeleta de votación de más de un partido.
Un votante por correo que también es un votante sin preferencia de partido podrá ponerse en contacto con su oficina electoral del condado o completar y enviar por correo o entregar una solicitud para votar por correo a la oficina electoral del condado. Esta solicitud tendrá que llegar a más tardar el 31 de mayo de 2016.
3. It is recommended that you vote early in person at your county registrar's office, if you not been able to vote by mail, but if that is not possible, PLAN TO VOTE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE IN THE MORNING ON JUNE 7 so that you are first in line to get whatever ballots they may have available. If you have a problem voting, have that problem in the morning rather than at the last minute late in the evening. / Se recomienda que vote temprano en persona en la oficina electoral del condado, si no ha podido votar por correo, pero si eso no fuera posible, PLANEE VOTAR LO MÁS TEMPRANO POSIBLE POR LA MAÑANA EL 7 DE JUNIO, para que esté en línea en caso de que haya algún problema con el número de papeletas de votación. Es mejor lidiar con un problema a primera hora que a última hora.
4. The California Elections Code, Section 14000, provides that voters “may take time off at the beginning or end of a shift to allow for sufficient time to vote, with up to two hours of that time being with pay.” / El código electoral de California en su sección 14000 provee que los votantes “podrán tomarse tiempo ya sea al principio o al final de su turno para tener el suficiente tiempo para votar, y hasta dos de esas horas serán pagadas.
5. Please notify your employer at least two working days prior to the election if you are taking time off to vote, again, either at the beginning or the end of your shift. / Por favor comuníquele a su empleador al menos dos días antes de las elecciones si se va a tomar tiempo para votar, de nuevo, al principio o al final de su turno.
6. Final warning: Go to the website for the Secretary of State and print the information provided there; if you speak Spanish, you may also take a translation of that content. This way they will not be able to tell you there are no more crossover ballots. The website states that these three political parties have allowed NPP voters to ask for their ballots. / Aviso final: Vayan al sitio web del Secretario de Estado e impriman la información que se describe en ella; si hablan español, también pueden llevarse la traducción de ese contenido. Así no podrán decirles que no hay más papeletas de votación cruzadas. El sitio web indica claramente que estos tres partidos políticos han permitido que los votantes sin preferencia de partido podrán pedir sus papeletas de votación.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Preakness Day Late Pick 4

Well, will Nyquist win the second leg of the Triple Crown? Hard to say when the track will be a mess. He has won over a wet track, but Exaggerator, who was gaining on him in the Kentucky Derby, likes wet tracks so much that he seems to speed skate over them. Like, Bonnie Blair.

Anyway, with an off track and soft turf, I hate to go too deep ($$$) on most legs in my tickets, so I decided to keep this one cheap and bet it for only .50c. Betting this at a dollar would run you $24. This Pick 4 starts with Race 10 and ends with the Preakness (Race 13).

Good luck to all the horses and jockeys today, and may they all come back safe and sound.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Chill Out! Bernie Will NOT Split the Vote #SenSanders #FeelTheBern #Sanders2016

C'mon, folks. You can stop pressuring Bernie supporters to switch their vote to Clinton. Just let us finish out the primaries and the Democratic Party will assess where it is.

Bernie Sanders has already said he will not run as a third party candidate if he doesn't get the Dem nomination. He has already said that he will support Hillary Clinton because even if he disagrees with her on certain issues such as US interventionism, fracking, and campaign finance reform, she would still be better than a Donald Trump. Stop worrying about the Dem Party being horribly split. You can bet that loyal party Democrats will vote blue no matter who.

Now. Having said that, here is the ACTUAL issue to give some thought to. Independents in this country now outnumber the number of people registered to either the Dems or the GOP. It is going to be independents who decide the general election--will they choose Trump or will they choose Clinton, or will they write in Bernie, vote Libertarian, or vote Green Party? Or will they just stay at home?

We cannot know. The only data we have on this is what general election poll head-to-heads indicate. They have consistently shown that in a general election, Sanders beats Trump by a wider margin than Clinton, and in some key battleground states, the margin between Trump and Clinton is narrowing.

The Democratic Party will have a big decision to make. Does it risk putting Clinton forth (a weaker candidate, as polls are showing, and one who may face the scandal of a DOJ indictment--fair or not, doesn't matter--prior to the election in Nov), or does it put forth the candidate who would take not only the Dem vote, but ALSO a good portion of the independent vote, and the Green Party vote?

In my mind, a Clinton nomination would be more likely to split the voters who would otherwise likely vote Democratic this time around. That's not a good thing. She just doesn't have the appeal to independents because she carries too much "big money, paid for" garbage around with her and too many people dislike things she did as Secretary of State. She's vetted, all right, and the record is ugly to many folks. (Just like for many people, the fully vetted Sarah Palin is an awful choice.) This fact may be annoying if you like Hillary Clinton, but if you want to beat Trump, you need to accept that she is wildly unpopular. People who dislike Trump dislike Hillary every bit as much.

As for Bernie being too risky because he's a Democratic Socialist, that's a paranoid argument. You can tell Bernie has tons of support from people who know full well he's a Democratic Socialist because--look at the crowds he gets at his rallies! Clinton doesn't attract crowds like that at all. Bernie isn't that far behind her in pledged delegates, and very few people even knew who he was before the primaries began. Progressive minded people are not afraid of socialism. Nor do they even want to end capitalism. They just want to see more of their tax dollars being spent on them as opposed to being spent on subsidies and tax breaks for wealthy people and corporations. The ONLY people who would not vote for Bernie because he's a Democratic Socialist are people who would not vote for either Sanders or Clinton in the first place: diehard right wingers.

Let us also remember that this has been a Democratic primary, not an open one. In many states, independents could not even vote unless they changed party registration. The general election is a whole different ball of wax.

If, before the Dem convention, neither Clinton nor Sanders clinches in pledged delegates so that it's the super delegates whose votes will make the difference, the decision of "who is the candidate more likely to beat Trump" is on their heads and no one else's. The Democratic Party has an opportunity in front of it to win overwhelmingly if it nominates Sanders (Dem vote, indie vote, Green Party vote). If it nominates Clinton, as I've said, the party loyalists will get on board. And the party will have to hope that's enough.

Me? I'm hoping the Democratic Party chooses to go with common sense, and the common sense candidate is Bernie Sanders.

Monday, April 25, 2016

If Not Now, When? #FeelTheBern #Sanders2016

Lately I've been reminded of how, when I teach my pre-freshman comp students a unit on advertising, they always question the assumption that ads actually do impact people's decision making. (Inevitably, of course, they are wearing GAP shirts and Levis jeans and Nike shoes, but never mind that.) I just tell them the hard facts--advertisers spent roughly $186 billion on ads in the last year alone. Advertising has been around for some time; companies have had ample opportunity to figure out if the investment is worth it. So... are you quite sure that advertising doesn't impact people's choices?

Of course it does.

Likewise is money given to politicians. Once upon a time, the Democratic Party would complain about the corporate donations given to Republican campaigns, claiming the money was tantamount to legal bribery. The Republicans would hit back with, "Well, you take money from unions," to which the Democrats responded, "Unions are groups of workers, the people we represent." The latest riff on this from the right then became, thanks to Mitt Romney, "Corporations are people too, my friend."

Ah, the good old days. Or were they?

Messing up campaign finance integrity--or at least a restriction of some kind on "buying too much influence"-- was the rise of the SuperPAC and Citizens United, in which the Supreme Court affirmed that money is speech. After Citizens United was upheld as constitutional, political campaign contributions to SuperPACs have easily more than doubled (and in this Presidential election year, probably more than even that since so much is at stake). Money given to SuperPACs has no limit placed on it. More distressingly, that money can be "dark money," meaning the giver doesn't have to be transparent. As of now, we have about 147 known individuals and who knows how many corporations basically funding the two political parties. The Koch Brothers and George Soros are the least of the problem anymore.

Dude, what happened to my party? Democrats now seem more than happy to take money with all the glee that Republicans do.

And now we are treated to the same old line of baloney that we used to decry: "just taking the money doesn't influence my position on issues," we are told.  Puh-leeeeeeeese. How can it not? As with advertising, people, banks, lobbies, companies--they will not spend millions of dollars to get nothing. Sure they get something for their cash. They get access. They get treated as actual constituents (and because of their financial influence,  they become "super constituents," even though assuredly they do not outnumber and are no more important than the actual people, the US citizens, that govt is supposed to be serving). We have lobbyists writing legislation that's being introduced in Congress. Even President Obama is honest enough to admit that one can't really take a ton of money from a giver and not at least listen to them and be influenced. (Single payer health care, if memory serves, got tossed out of the ACA before it even went to a vote; interestingly, this was after Obama met privately with insurance company representatives.)

So give me a break, and let's get real. Though there always has been, and always will be, some measure of bribery and backroom wheeling and dealing in politics, the Democratic Party has sold us out. At first, I kept waiting to see campaign finance reform; I kept waiting to see the promised amendment to overturn Citizens United. All I heard, and still hear, are promises--neither party will actually act. At least the Republican Party has always been clear about whom it really serves. For me, I think it's perhaps more heinous--and certainly more duplicitous--for the Democratic Party to do the same thing as the Republicans but continue to insist that it's the party that puts the people first. Certainly it does on certain social issues, but when it comes to things like wars, the economy, protecting banks, no real action on climate change--the basic status quo--it disheartens me to admit I can barely tell the difference between the two parties anymore. Democratic Party neoliberalism has resulted in very little except pushing the right farther to the right because the right wing has to look different somehow.

So, I'm disillusioned. You want to know why more and more people are increasingly leaving both parties and calling themselves independents (meaning "no party preference?") This is why. You want to know why there's so much apathy among voters? This is why. You want to know why the Democratic Party is split right now between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders? This is why.

And this is why we need Bernie Sanders. Even if you think he's all "pie in the sky" and will never see legislation that's on his platform passed, the one thing the man's got is absolute integrity. Even if the only thing he can accomplish as President is pushing through campaign finance reform and getting an amendment on state ballots to overturn Citizens United, that alone would be a mighty good start for us to get our Party back. Of course, I expect he'd do some other good things too--such as keeping us out of any unnecessary wars--but this is a blog post about politics being corrupted by money.

We have got to put our foot down. If not now, when?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Important Information for CA Sanders Supporters #Sanders2016

Quick! Take this quiz.

In California, to determine our choice for the Democratic Presidential candidate, we have:

A. a primary.
B. a caucus.
C. both. 

If you answered anything but C, you are incorrect.

But, if you were incorrect, don't feel bad. I've lived here since 1997, voted in every primary (thinking that's all I had to do), and had no idea there was a caucus. I swear it's the state Democratic Party's best-kept secret.

Peeps, here's the thing: if you want to see your candidate actually be voted for at the Democratic National Convention--regardless of your vote in the primary--you also need to vote in the caucus for your district delegate(s). Vote by mail? Too bad. You won't get a ballot in the mail for this. You have to show up at your district caucus on May 1, before the primary, to help pick your district's delegates for the candidate that you want. (Don't worry; you don't have to sit there and listen to a bunch of speeches. Show up, vote, go on your merry way, and have a nice day.)

No big deal? Any delegate will do? Noooooooo. If it happens that your district (for me, it's San Mateo County, District 14) doesn't have enough delegates elected that pledge support for your candidate at the convention, guess what happens? The Democratic Party gets to pick the delegates for your district. And it doesn't matter one bit who that delegate supports in the race. That delegate, and actually even any elected delegate who has pledged support to either Bernie or Clinton, has every legal right to change his or her mind up until the second they actually cast their vote at the convention.

So, what I'm saying is this: If you support Bernie Sanders in California, it is imperative that you show up on May 1st to your district caucus and elect the maximum allotted number of delegates you are sure will not change their vote. (Example: say there are a total number of eight delegates in your district. Then, at the primary, your district gets enough votes for Bernie that he wins six of the eight delegates. The caucus ensures he's got six delegates pledged to him to begin with. If not, they'll wind up going to Clinton. And even if he's got six, you've got to be sure they'll vote as they say they will vote.)

What a mess! But, it's how it's done.

To sum up: If you're a Bernie supporter, vote in your district caucus AND vote in the primary.  And be sure to share this info with every Bernie supporter in California that you know and encourage them to share it. We can do this . . . together.

Post script: I'd offer a link to where the various caucus locations are on May 1, but that info has not been announced yet. For now, just make a note in your calendar to be sure and vote on May 1 in addition to the California primary on June 7th. You might also make a note for the last week in April to remind yourself to find out where your caucus location is.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why This Feminist Supports Bernie Sanders

As a feminist (I'm already old enough at 53 to be considered a third-wave, old-timey one), I want to throw my support behind Hillary Clinton. I have plenty of friends I respect and admire who have done so. It's not so much that they're "voting with their vaginas"--what an expression! Are they supposedly squatting over their ballots and marking them with a well-aimed "plop?"--but that they're stoked by the possibilities.

Finally, a woman who is practical and wants to get things done having a real shot at the Presidency. Finally, a woman with experience as both a New York Senator and a Secretary of State who may break the political glass ceiling. She's tough when she has to be but not so stubborn in her positions that she can't change her mind if convinced. She holds her own in a debate and has all the qualities of a true leader, one who doesn't play to our baser emotions like fear or anger. She inspires.

I get why my friends, both male and female, find her appealing.

But, I can't find her that appealing, and I would say the same thing regardless of her sex. Simply put, she holds some positions with which I strongly disagree. I'll list them, then back up and explain them all. First among these is that she's a hawk, amply proven by her tenure as Secretary of State and her recent speech to AIPAC. Second is that she's way too comfortable taking money from banks and corporate interests and/or supremely opaque SuperPACs (though they can't donate to her directly, SuperPACs, of course, amount to what I'll call a "financial endorsement"), and though she insists she is not influenced by such money, her stances (or lack of a stance) on certain issues such as free trade and with a track record of holding hands with companies like Wal-mart or Monsanto, I doubt it. She's very much a political creature of the sort the American public is presently rebelling against. Perhaps I just question her sincerity. Actually, I do think she's sincere about some goals--I just think that if that sincerity is stacked up against her greater loyalty to banks and big business, she's going to choose the people funding her every time, unless it "polls well" for her to not do that.

All right, so let me back up now and explain.

First, she's so hawkish she might as well be a neocon. As Secretary of State, she pushed for American involvement in Libya; then we basically abandoned the country as soon as Gaddafi was taken out, leaving that country's people more vulnerable to radicalization and terrorist takeover. (Did we learn nothing from Iraq?) Apparently not, because when Clinton cast her vote in the Senate to support the Iraq War, she referred to it as "a business opportunity." And so it was, to the military-industrial complex and particularly to companies such as Halliburton and other contractors. Not so much for the soldiers we sent over there. Has she changed? She now says voting for that war was a mistake, but just the other day at AIPAC, she made it abundantly clear that she still sees wars as business opportunities. She goes on and on in her speech about the development of even more powerful weapons and then gives props to a "culture of innovation" between places like Silicon Valley and Israeli tech companies and entrepreneurs. Now, the context here is cybersecurity, energy security, and water security, and if you've been paying even a smidgen of attention to what's been happening to the people of Gaza, this should worry you.

And then there's Honduras. She also doesn't seem to mind torture all that much or the surveillance of American citizens (never mind human rights and civil rights) if such things will bring the big, bad evil people to heel. There's a good analysis of her track record in Salon today, here.

As for big money, some will say, "Look, that's just how politics are nowadays. You need the SuperPACs to compete with the other candidates, or you put yourself at a severe disadvantage." Well, that's like athletes who take steroids saying they need to take them because everybody else is, so it's the only way to stay competitive. No, Clinton's own past makes it clear whose side she's on at the end of the day. She's served on the Board of Directors at Walmart (probably the corporation most notorious for its practice of paying workers so little they actually qualify for government aid). She favors GMOs and has ties to big agribusiness, ie, Monsanto. When Bill Clinton pushed NAFTA on through, Hillary was for it. It has resulted in the loss of American production jobs to other countries that pay exploitation wages and created an embarrassing trade deficit. Until recently, Clinton was for the TPP as well, until its unpopularity among voters caused her to flip. Maybe. I suppose her sincerity on that depends on how much you trust her, but, for me, all the objective evidence points to Clinton being very much one more candidate for the corporations, not for the people. Frankly, Wall Street's own admission over a year ago that they'd be fine with a Clinton Presidency rather clinches the argument. (Here is one article that discusses this, if you're interested.)

And as Elizabeth Warren has described, Clinton will stab people in the back, including women, in the name of political expediency and assisting, well, her big donors.  Don't take my word for it. Watch:

So, look. In a country where the gap between the rich and the poor has gotten so wide--as in Gilded Age wide, the excesses of which caused the Great Depression--and a once-thriving middle class shrinks even more and more, we don't need any more representatives of corporations sitting in government. The people need representation for a change. The 2008 recession is still going on for all but the wealthy, and this is why "indicators" such as more money being loaned or the stock market booming mean nothing to most of us. Unemployment may be lower, but how many of these "new" jobs are crappy part-time minimum wage jobs without benefits? Washington has completely lost touch with what daily lives are like for the majority of people living in this country.

We need a candidate for the people, not a candidate for the status quo, banks, multinational corporations, and interminable wars.

And this is why this feminist supports Bernie Sanders for President.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Not Too Late to #FeeltheBern--Don't Let The Spin Psych You Out

As we now move away from mostly the South (they're typically red states anyway), we can expect primary and caucus results to be different, if the voting elsewhere in the country is any indication of a larger trend. There's no reason to think not, so I suppose that might explain why the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party insiders are ramping up the "Bernie can't win, so he should concede now" chatter. 

Ah, politics. Such a nasty game. 

But, let's do a reality check and look at some actual numbers. As of this writing, Clinton has 1,132 pledged delegates based on voting. Sanders has 818. That's certainly not anything for Sanders supporters to be alarmed about, considering that there are still 2,394 unpledged delegates to be earned (since those states haven't even voted yet). Let's not call the football game at halftime.

But, then some people are bringing up the specter of the super delegates. Now, it should be enough to know that super delegates are referred to as "unpledged" until they actually cast their votes at the Democratic convention (in June). It is also true that they can, and have historically, flipped their votes from their original commitment. For example, sometimes super delegates change their votes based on the popular vote in their states.

In any case, there are a total of 715 super delegates. Clinton claims that 465 of them are hers, have always been hers, & never shall they part. Setting aside the fact that this is untrue, at the moment Sanders has 24 "unpledged" delegates, and that leaves 225 super delegates who are not even remotely committed in any way. (There's an oddball one left over who committed early to Martin O'Malley, who is now out of the race. I doubt that delegate will abstain at the convention.)

Bigger crowds than Trump's, and certainly more than Clinton's.
Meanwhile, the mountain states and the West Coast, where Sanders is much more popular than he is in the South, haven't yet voted, and a state like California sure has a lot of delegates. Like, more than 400 the last time I looked it up.

The bottom line is this: Don't believe for one minute the "spin" intended to make you think Bernie is already a lost cause. That's meant to psych you out. Instead, get out there and vote! YOU must speak first at the ballot box. Voting is your right, and it is your privilege. And if you think your vote doesn't matter, erase that thought from your mind. Clinton recently won Missouri by under a thousand votes. Your vote does matter, tremendously.

Let us work together for real change instead of apathetically handing off our collective power to the status quo; the same ole-same ole; the second verse, same as the first.

Read Sanders' stances on the issues here and how he intends to pay for his programs here

Monday, March 14, 2016

Why I #FeeltheBern... And So Should You

I'm tired of the politics of division and obstruction, the politics of favoring the 1% over everybody else in this country.

And, if you hesitate because you fear Bernie is some kind of Commie socialist, I invite you to educate yourself further on the matter. Give this speech a listen. I'm not exaggerating when I say that at least a dozen people I know who are lifetime Republicans are saying to me they will vote for Bernie over Trump (too crazy) or Clinton (too status quo). Bernie reminds them of FDR, not of Stalin or Mao or whoever the spin tries to make him out to be.

He's a capitalist, just like you and me. BUT, he does believe that our tax dollars should not continue being wasted on wars and all the breaks being given to the corporate masters and banks presently dictating government policy. Our tax dollars should be used to work for us--we, the people, ALL of the people. It's our money, after all.

Join us so we can all work together! And get out to the polls and vote!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Is Bernie More "Unelectable" than Clinton? You May Be Surprised

If the Republican race has made anything clear, it's that political insiders are out and populists are in. Donald Trump pretty much has the GOP nomination wrapped up--unless some shenanigans happen at the Republican convention. I doubt they will. The Donald would likely choose to run as an Independent if he's not chosen, and he's so popular he'd be likely to carry much of the Republican vote with him.

On the other hand, things are closer so far in the Democratic race. To date, Bernie and Hillary are in a dead heat: Iowa was basically a tie; Bernie won New Hampshire quite handily; Hillary won Nevada by a margin of 5%. At this time, Bernie actually has more of the popular vote, but Hillary has been awarded exactly one more delegate than Sanders: it's 51-50.

I'd declare this too close to call--so why are the pundits already saying Hillary's got the race in the bag and will get the Democratic nomination?

Well, if anyone hasn't noticed this, for at least a couple decades now, and certainly with the advent of talk radio (which I like to call "hate radio" since much of it is so biased no matter what "side" the commentator's on) and Fox News (which is so biased to the right that it even hires failed GOP candidates and puts them on its payroll--e.g., Palin and Huckabee--and has even been known to have spokespersons for hate groups on regularly for comment) and even MSNBC (though it avoids the conflict of interest by not employing actual political candidates), and just general mainstream news (which leaves out a lot, especially if you'd like to hear world news), Americans' heads are being filled with nonsense. And if not outright propaganda, at least we're regularly being treated to very slanted news. We've got Joe Scarborough and Mika on MSNBC's one right wing show, "Morning Joe," being "palsy walsy" enough with Donald Trump that they've been caught on a hot mic with Trump agreeing to not ask him any hard questions. Thus, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that most media is acting as if Hillary Clinton is a shoo-in nominee, the pick of the people. For the longest time, Bernie Sanders was totally ignored, even though he was attracting larger crowds at his events than Clinton was, and now that he poses a genuine threat to Hillary, the spin is that he's losing (what?) and that he's unelectable.)

I beg to differ with the pile of horse droppings being shoved into our ears. For those paying attention, it's abundantly clear that Americans, both right and left, are pissed off with Establishment politics. People feel the government doesn't work for them any more but rather for the folks who donate to politicians' campaigns. This race is shaping up to be a true race of populists: Trump on the right and Bernie on the left.

One thing that's been ignored in the media is that Bernie actually fares better in general election polls against Trump than Clinton does. So when I hear people buying the line that Bernie is unelectable, I know their heads have been filled with spin. Don't believe it. The Clinton campaign wants you to believe it to frighten you away from voting for Bernie in the primaries and caucuses. I never cared for "fear" voting anyway, but I've seen at least a few people chastise Bernie supporters for being ignorant and throwing the election to the GOP candidate. Pooh-pooh to that. Here is RealClearPolitics' summary of several polls, among them Quinnipiac's; Bernie beats Trump by +6 whereas Hillary squeaks by him at +1. See for yourself. Quinnipiac's polls are the gold standard, by the way, for their accuracy.

I also think Hillary's supporters underestimate the deep, deep hatred (fair or not) the right wing holds for Hillary Clinton. I've heard some Republicans say they'd flock to the polls to vote for Satan rather than see Hillary be elected. They believe her to be dishonest; they think she belongs in jail; the list of grievances goes on and on and on. Bernie garners no such hatred. He's been well respected in Congress and the Senate and has been able to reach across the aisle and get legislation passed. Heck, even Ron Paul and Bernie, working together, was able to get the Fed at least partially audited. I think some fear that Bernie's identification as a "Democratic Socialist" will make voters run from him shrieking in panic, but it's not hard to educate folks on the difference between an FDR-style progressive, which is what Bernie is, and a full-blown Communist. I've even heard some people on the right and independents say they like many of Bernie's ideas. He's also garnered a lot of support among veterans, which is traditionally a group of conservative voters.

Others say that Bernie's so radical that he'll never get anything done with this obstructionist Congress and Senate. My answer to that is, what makes you think Hillary will have any better luck? If the GOP is saying they won't even meet with Obama's SCOTUS nominee (not radical at all for the President to nominate a replacement when a member of the Supreme Court has died), why would they work with Hillary? At least Bernie is realistic and says he can be successful only if the Democrats take the Senate back (and later down the road, the House). That is the bloodless revolution his campaign is calling for.

I suggest setting fear-based voting aside in the primaries. Vote for the candidate you feel best represents you and stands for policies you'd like to see enacted. Leave the fear-based voting for the general election. If I had to, even I would sprint to the polls to cast a vote for Clinton to keep a person like Ted Cruz out of the Oval Office.

I will say this, though. If Bernie wins the popular vote by more than a small margin, and the superdelegates pick Clinton anyway (as the media is telling us they will do, which assuredly they won't all do; it's just more spin), there will be hell to pay in the Democratic Party. See, Americans like to think they have a voice and that "the powers that be" aren't the ones choosing the candidates.

I'll leave you with this clip featuring right-wing pundit Ann Coulter. She was always for Trump. She is gleeful at the idea of Trump running against Clinton. That's because she's sure Trump would win. She doesn't want to see Bernie get the nomination, though, or then she fears another 2008 may happen. That should tell us something. Watch the video here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What, Are You High?

When I was in rehab, one of our counselors told us a story. She said she and a van load of other people in recovery were going on a road trip to an annual AA meeting in Southern California, and they stopped at a rest area to go pee and buy some soft drinks and snacks from the vending machines. There was a hippie girl there holding a bunch of flowers, apparently waiting for her boyfriend, who was in the men’s room. This was a busy rest area, people all over. The girl just smiled at folks as they passed her by on their way to the rest rooms. Then she'd ask them if they wanted to smell her flowers. Everybody gave her a look like, “What, are you high?” and continued on by.

Then the folks from the van reached her.

She held out her bouquet and asked, smiling, “Aren’t these so pretty? Want to smell them?”

And, the counselor said, every last person on that van stopped to smell those flowers and exclaim over their fragrance.

You think I’m going to give you some message about always stopping to smell the roses, right?

I’m not.

The counselor said, “And that’s the way it goes with people in recovery. For some reason, people who’ve gone through—who are going through—recovery always seem to take pleasure in things like that. They don’t ignore people like that. We relate to people like her.”

I expect there are several take-aways from this story, and for that reason, I've always liked it.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Trouble Sleeping? Try ASMR

So, anybody who knows me knows that, for about the past year, I've been experiencing some problems with insomnia. It comes and goes, but I seem to go through a bad bout of it at least once or twice monthly, and by "bout," I mean it lasts for several nights in a row. Now, I've never had problems sleeping before (except for when I was drinking--alcohol ramped me up instead of making me tired), and since I'm a woman of a certain age, I'm guessing it's hormone related.

For a while there, I tried everything: Benadryl, melatonin, valerian, chamomile tea. Didn't work. There were a couple of times I drove in to work when I probably shouldn't have been driving, and I discovered that, after three nights in a row of insomnia, I would start hallucinating. (Once I saw a bunch of black squirrels running around in the middle of the freeway, and even I knew enough to tell myself, "Those aren't really there.") Finally I broke down and my doctor gave me a script for Ambien. It has largely solved the problem, though not always. I also only take it when I have had insomnia the night before, to ensure I sleep that night.

All of this is prelude to another thing I've discovered that helps. I started researching AMSR, which is short for autonomous sensory meridian response. You can look that up, or read about it here on Wikipedia, but basically it's a tingling sensation you get on your skull that then moves on down the back of your neck when you hear certain sounds. It's a pleasant sensation that can also lull you gently to sleep. And there is a whole AMSR worldwide community that posts ASMR videos to Youtube.

Different strokes for different folks.... certain sounds that give some people tingles don't work for me and vice versa. Some folks like tapping, whispering, mouth noises, ear cleaning, or role plays (such as a pretend acupuncturist treating you or a pretend stylist fixing your hair). None of those are ASMR triggers for me at all, and in fact, some are annoying sounds to me. I, though, can get a bit comatose listening to the sound of furniture being dusted, the sound of drawing or doodling, the sound of pages turning with very quiet reading or just murmuring, the sound of shoes being polished, and the like. On my own Youtube Channel, I have a playlist of ASMR videos that work for me.

When I'm ready for sleep, I put in earbuds, turn the light on my computer way down, and watch a few of these videos. They've been quite good at helping me relax and go into a sort of pre-meditative state. Usually I can tell I'm about to fall asleep and so will turn off the computer altogether. Other times I've fallen asleep listening to them. I'll wake up briefly hours later and then turn everything off... or just let the videos keep going on autoplay. I've never had trouble getting back to sleep.

Just thought I'd put this out there in case I have any readers who occasionally have sleep problems and haven't given this a try.

Friday, January 29, 2016

It's So Easy to Forget

A good many people I know think that alcoholics and addicts are just having the time of their lives when they are using, that they are selfish and care about nothing more than their high. That's partially true. Because we are so desperate to feel normal and can't cope with monstrous cravings that seem bigger than we are, we will always act selfishly in order to use, even if we know we are hurting our loved ones. The booze, the drug, comes first. That alone makes us feel even worse but we see it as necessary to get the relief we need. 

As for the rest--that we're having the time of our lives--that's untrue. Being a using alcoholic was one of the most hellish experiences I've ever had. The last thing it is is fun. 

If you're a recovering alcoholic, never forget what brought you down.

If you know a recovering alcoholic, hug them close.

If you know an alcoholic who's still using, may God bless you, give you patience and understanding, give you the fortitude to draw lines when they need to be drawn and to stick to your promises of consequences, love your alcoholic but hate the addiction, help your alcoholic but don't enable them, and never, ever blame yourself when it's an emotionless substance that is to blame.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On the Way to Work....

Interesting thing happened this morning on the way to work. I'm out of my Quest protein bars, so I stopped by a corner convenience store/gas station to pick up a protein bar to eat later for lunch. I pulled up and parked next to a beaten up old car, packed full of what looked like junk, newspapers covering a part of one window as a sort of sunshade that protected a baby seat. A big guy wearing ratty clothes came out of the store with a monster-sized soda pop, and even though it's a chilly day for San Francisco, all he had on over a t-shirt that was way too small for him as half of his belly was hanging out, was a thin windbreaker.

I went into the store, grabbed my bar, and stood in line as a deathly thin, pale woman in front of me made small talk with the cashier as she was ringing something up for her.

I'd seen these two before in this store at this time of the morning. They've never paid much attention to me, nor me to them, beyond my impression that the woman might be a meth addict, but maybe not because she doesn't have the tell-tale facial scabs, the wrecked teeth, the general unsteadiness that long-term addicts of anything tend to develop.

I paid for my protein bar and headed out to my car. The big guy was still standing on the curb in front of his old beater, but the scrawny woman had gotten in the car and was looking away, as if she were embarrassed.

"Ma'am," the big guy said to me as I unlocked my car door.

I looked up at him, waiting.

"Do you have a dollar you could spare by any chance? We're homeless."

I instantly felt bad, and I empathized with the embarrassed woman, who refused to meet my eyes. "I don't have any bills," I said, regret in my voice. Then I brightened. "I do have some change. Is that okay?"

His face, which had been tense and troubled, relaxed and he said, "Yes! Sure! Whatever you can give."

Now, I have a ton of change in my car. No idea how much. When I get change, I just dump it in a cup. When the cup is full, I bring it inside at home and pour it into the house change jar. So, I just put my paw into the cup and scooped up a bunch of change and walked over to him to put it in his outstretched hand. He met me halfway, of course.

"I don't know how much is there," I said. "But I hope it helps."

"Thank you, thank you!" he said. I got into my car and turned over the engine, and I heard him say over the noise, "Nice car!"

"Except for the dents!" I laughed, then waved, pulled out and was on my way. It's true my ole 2004 Mustang convertible has its fair share of pings and dings and scratches and one nice bump the size of a volleyball in the bumper. I've never managed to set aside enough to get the body fixed.

But once I was about a block away, those voices in my head started in. You know those voices. How do you know they're homeless? How do you know he wasn't just conning you for money? How do you know they're not going to go buy drugs or booze? How do you know, how do you know, how do you know?

Well, they sure looked like they lived in that car.

Sucker, the voices said.

Shut up, I said back.

I was in a position to help. I have a job, I rent a nice condo, I have a car with dents, Chelle has an SUV, we also have a house, we have so much. And all they have is in that beater little car.

It's not my place to second guess or judge them for how they got where they are. And who knows, one day I may be a little old lady, alone, in the same situation. It could've happened unless I'd stopped drinking. It could still happen if I ever pick up again.

What troubles me is why those chastising voices have to chime in to begin with. How have I gotten so warped that even if I give a person in need a handful of change, part of me wants to lecture myself for being a sucker? When did I become so selfish? It's just fucking change.

If they take that change and go buy a lottery ticket with it, I hope they win.