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.