Conservatives, You Lost the Right of Moral Outrage Long Ago

MichelleWolf

Under the current administration, there has been no lack of turmoil, controversy and/or outrage. If the day ends in “y,” then Orange Foolius has either said something to insult an ally, tweeted some bullshit racial move to appease his racist base or otherwise shown himself to be a grade A buffoon. Still, this last weekend was one that was special, and it spells out something that conservatives should have learned a long time ago…you have lost the right at moral outrage.

For the second time in his pitiful embarrassment of a tenure in office, Orange Foolius declined to attend the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a staple of the scene in DC since 1921. In that dinner, the President and his staff join the journalistic corps and MEMBERS OF BOTH PARTIES to celebrate journalistic activities and a free press. Except for a handful of times (1930, 1942 and 1951, when it wasn’t held), the dinner has gone off without a hitch. Fifteen Presidents, starting with Calvin Coolidge in 1924, have shown up for the festivities, with only Ronald Reagan (1981, after his assassination attempt), Jimmy Carter (1978 and 1980) and Richard Nixon (1970, 1972, 1974) passing on the affair.

The entertainment for the WHCD has changed over the years. When the dinner started, there were singers between the courses. That developed into a post-dinner show which, in the past, featured entertainers such as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington gracing the stage of the Hilton in DC (the traditional host of the WHCD). Since 1983, however, the host of the evening has been a comedian, with Elayne Boosler, Stephen Colbert, Al Franken (pre-Senator days), Jon Stewart and Jay Leno (among others) taking the mic.

What hasn’t changed about the night is the format of the program. Whoever was the host would essentially serve as the emcee of a roast, with the various politicians and journalists gathered together both receiving their due course of abuse. For those of you that aren’t comically inclined, a “roast” is where a group gathers to allegedly fete a person, but instead tell off-color jokes, imitations and innuendoes as the night goes on. At the end, the person who has served as the butt of the jokes gets up and gets their revenge, using the same roasting style on the folks who have spoken before him. It is an extremely funny night of entertainment, hence the success of the Friars’ Club roast that dates back to 1950, the Johnny Carson and Dean Martin roasts in the 1970s/80s, and the Comedy Central roasts over the past 15 years that have featured comedian Denis Leary, actress Pamela Anderson and a certain candy ass that can’t show up to the WHCD.

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Orange Foolius, with the vehement war he wages against anybody that wants to tell the truth about his indiscretions, criminal acts and outright subversion and corruption in running for the office in 2015, decided that he wouldn’t attend last year’s WHCD, instead running a “counter-program” of a political rally among sycophants, deviants and deplorables – you know, the GOP – in Pennsylvania. Fast forward the clock a year and, to be honest, it isn’t a surprise that he did it again, only this time in Michigan. What was the surprise was the idiotic reaction of conservatives and the GOP in the face of what has been the gist of the WHCD since its inception.

Comedian Michelle Wolf, an outstanding young comic with a tongue that would eviscerate an alligator, was the emcee for the post-dinner gathering and she spared no barbs. Without the usual subject of the roast available, it fell on the White House staff of the asshole who decided not to show up to face the slings and arrows. What seems to have piqued the irritation of the snowflake GOP and conservatives is this EXACT JOKE (quoted verbatim) that Wolf told:

And, of course, we have Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We’re graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.

Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited because I’m not really sure what we’re going to get: you know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. “It’s shirts and skins, and this time, don’t be such a little bitch, Jim Acosta.”

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. Like, she burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s lies.

It’s probably lies.

And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. You know, is it Sarah Sanders? Is Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know: Aunt Coulter.”

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Now, first off, the ENTIRE JOKE is pretty damn tame when it comes to roast material. Consider that, in a Comedy Central roast, one of the top jokes was about how one of the roasters enjoys picking up truck stop transvestites…you’ll see Wolf’s was a love tap in comparison. But the way that most took the comments were that they were focused on Sanders’ LOOKS.

There is no way in holy hell that there was anything in those comments that could have targeted Sanders’ appearance in ANY MANNER. Yet conservatives acted like Wolf walked up to Sanders and performed one of Orange Foolius’ favorite acts in her face. The White House Correspondents’ Association, the folks who HIRED WOLF TO EVISCERATE THE ROOM, issued a wimpy ass mea culpa and have indicated they are considering altering the program in the future. This is utterly fucking ridiculous.

Perhaps what the WHCA was upset with was that Wolf took THEM down a few notches with her commentary:

Wolf: “There’s a ton of news right now issues a lot is going on and we have all of these 24-hour news networks and we could be covering everything. Instead we’re covering three topics. Every hour is trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel full of people that remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving.

You guys are obsessed with Trump, did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your T.V. You helped create this monster and now you’re profiting off of him. If you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money because he doesn’t have any. Trump is so broke –”

Audience: “How broke is he?”

Wolf: “He grabs pussies because he thinks there might be loose change in them. Like an immigrant brought here by a parent who didn’t do anything wrong, I got to get the fuck out of here, good night. Flint still doesn’t have clean water.”

FYI, folks…comedy is not pretty, as Steve Martin used to say. And these jokes didn’t even break skin in the context of a “roast.” For conservatives to grab their pearls and look for the nearest fainting couch is pretty damn hypocritical of them considering the bastard that they elected in 2016. You remember him? The one who grabs women by the pussy, who calls foreign nations “shitholes,” who has said pretty much every objectionable thing you can say about minorities, foreigners, women (do you REALLY want to relitigate the Rosie O’Donnell history, GOP?), Gold Star parents, veterans (remember that “I like people that weren’t captured” comment about John McCain?)…and the list goes on.

Then there’s the constituency…need I say more than this:

TrumpSupporters

Conservatives, GOP? YOU have given up any right to the moral objection when YOU elected this shitstain to represent your party. YOU have given up your right to ANY outrage over what is said about someone because YOU don’t even police your own. YOU have shown that you have no MORAL CODE NOR CONDUCT, therefore YOU have no place to raise your voice one iota in commentary on the subject.

Whether the WHCD will be altered in the future – or, if the incoming president Oliver Knox shows the makeup of a spineless cephalopod and ends the historic tradition – is anyone’s guess. But don’t criticize someone like Wolf who shows up and DOES THEIR JOB and pull your support for the very thing you claim to prize – the freedom of speech and of the people to comment on their leadership. And conservatives and GOP trollops who claim indignation about Wolf’s commentary? Why don’t you start with your own, first at the top and then work your way down to other slime bags and their commentary (trust me, Rick Santorum is one that needs gagging on a daily basis). Then you MIGHT start making ground back to having some semblance of morality.

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What to Expect from The Resident’s Speech Tonight

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Since the changeover in the office of the President, there was no State of the Union speech scheduled for this year. Usually, however, the incoming President is invited to address a joint session of Congress soon after taking office to offer to the legislative branch their ideas for the upcoming year – an unofficial SOTU, so to speak. This has been a common occurrence in the past couple of newly elected presidents.

President George W. Bush, after a brutal contest with then-Vice President Al Gore and the resulting legal entanglements that ensued afterwards, looked to display to the States of America that he was ready to work with people and get beyond the polarization of the political parties in his address in 2001 (whether he would have done that or not became immaterial following 9/11 – Dubya kicked the military war machine into overdrive after that and said “fuck the Kumbaya shit”). President Barack Obama, facing the near-collapse of the worldwide economic system, calmly explained to the people in his 2009 address that the country would rebound from the brink of another Great Depression and he was proven correct – but not so correct that the GOP would work with him to help in pursuing those goals. So, the question becomes what can we expect out of The Resident tonight?

If his conduct over the past three months – the two since the election and the one since he plopped his fat ass in the chair in the White House – is any indication, he isn’t going to do a goddamn thing. Since being voted in by a MINORITY of the people in this country, he’s done literally nothing except sign meaningless Executive Orders that are about as effective as the toilet paper they’re written on. How meaningless? How about “The Wall,” where there has been little more than “direction” given to build it. The Border Act of 2007, and the 700 miles of fencing allotted at that time, has been completed by Obama no less; to build any more will require passing it through Congress. Deregulating coal? All that has done is made conditions worse for the workers and the citizens downstream from coal plants that can now dump their toxic sludge in the rivers.

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The immigration ban? Besides the laughable actions of the Confederacy of Dunces trying to put that one over pretty every single government organization that would oversee implementing it, the Judicial branch of government hammered The Resident like a copper-headed nail in ruling the ban unconstitutional (and expect the same again for his second run as he hasn’t demonstrated any threat). He’s seen two prospective Secretaries of the armed forces (Phillip Bilden for the Navy, Vincent Viola for the Army) withdraw, his choice for Labor secretary Andrew Puzder also withdrawing (because The Resident’s OWN PARTY had problems with him), had to force his choice for chief national security advisor, Michael Flynn, to resign (rather than fire him) over his interactions with Russian government officials and BARELY got through his choices for Education Secretary (who just recently commented that historically black colleges and universities were a “great example of school choice”), Attorney General (despite being rejected for a federal judgeship in the 1980s because he was a racist) and head of the Treasury (despite accepting every bailout offered following the crash of 2008 for Goldman Sachs, the very institution that The Resident lied about “putting out of business” if he were elected during the campaign).

Nearly every day since his pitiful inauguration – with its miniscule crowd, a 16-year old with a transgender sister who sang the National Anthem only to get slapped in the face by reality when “her hero” dropped rights for LGBTQ peoples like a homophobe, and balls that copied cakes from the Obama Inauguration – there has been some bullshit flow from The Resident. If it isn’t his constant insistence that he would have won the popular vote if it weren’t for “illegal voters” (absolutely no evidence has been shown for this), that Obama is “behind” the protestors at GOP Congressional members in their home districts (shown to be false as people show their voter IDs) or his continued Tweetstorms every time something twists his panties into a wad (Saturday Night Live, Arnold Schwarzenegger), then it is his Dunces stepping to the fore (Kellyanne ConJob’s “alternative facts” and “full endorsement” of Flynn mere hours before his dismissal, Sean “Spicey” Spicer’s examination of underlings phones to make sure they weren’t “leaking” information, Stephen Miller’s one-time Neo-Nazi display on the Sunday morning talkers, etc.) to take their turn in the barrel.

Another demonstration of ignorance by The Resident has been in “dismantling” ObamaCare. Besides the factor that NO ONE in the GOP can come up with a plan that does what ObamaCare does for cheaper – or protects as many people as the current plan does – in the previous eight years, you then have The Resident commenting that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” After they stopped rolling on the floor in laughter, pretty much anyone involved in government since Richard Nixon could have informed this idiot that it wasn’t as quick as a sweep of a pen.

Then there’s his “love” of the military. Since he loves them so much, he sent an assault team into Yemen – utilizing intel that was well over a month old – which led to the death of a SEAL, William Owens, and many civilian casualties. His father, Bill Owens, has demanded an investigation into the clusterfuck that led to his son’s death and the ineptitude of The Resident, who ordered the action. Add in removing the protection that military members had for their spouses should they be undocumented immigrants and he’s demonstrating his love wholeheartedly.

The Resident has also shown the inability to call out situations that HE created and no one else. The murder of one Indian man and wounding of a second in Kansas by a white StormTrumper barely brought a guffaw out of The Resident, especially after the perpetrator allegedly said, “Get out of my country,” as he shot them down. Several Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated, once again due to the racial animosity promoted by The Resident, with nary a note of care but money raised by Muslims to restore the headstones demonstrating compassion. A white StormTrumper in Canada goes on a shooting rampage in a mosque – crickets. But let a Muslim with a knife try to attack in Paris and The Resident is all over it, stating it is “radical Islamic terrorism,” even though his third choice for the job (his second, General Robert Harward, turned down the job he described as a “shit sandwich”), General H. R. McMaster, has said this is “not helpful.”

Finally, there’s the continued Chinese Water Torture that has become the Russian situation and their involvement in the 2016 election for The Resident and the ongoing battle with the press. Despite plenty of evidence otherwise, The Resident – who also doesn’t like intelligence briefings that don’t support his mindset – has steadfastly remained devoted to his BFB Vladimir Putin. And as the press closes in on more evidence that there was involvement by The Resident’s staff with Russian intelligence agents, he and his subordinates attempt to silence the press by shutting them off from access. Attempts to silence the press will only further embolden them, much like those who oppose this shitstain.

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So now we are on the precipice of The Resident’s address to Congress and the country. How difficult would it be for him to show some humility, some common intelligence and sense, and come out with an opening statement of “I haven’t done the job correctly…yet. I am not going to complete all I said I would do, but I am going to ensure that EVERYONE in the country has the protection of all governmental agencies and that we are all safe in our homeland.” The answer is it would be extremely difficult for this narcissistic, xenophobic bastard to be able to show an ounce of humility even once.

Expect this evening to be a continuation of the bullshit rallies (that are remarkably familiar to a time in our recent past) that The Resident has continued to hold, even though he won the 2016 election. Expect more about how well the administration is doing – despite every iota of evidence that shows it is a burning tire fire of immense proportions – and that he’s “going to bring jobs back” that have been disappearing for 40 years and won’t ever come back or he’s going to “keep out the bad dudes” and “attack ISIS” because he has “a secret plan” (yeah, remember that one?). And expect the sycophants – those in the Confederacy of Dunces and those who voted for him that still cling to him like a toddler on a teat, expecting him to provide salvation where none exists – to continue to spout off on social media about how he will “make ‘Merica great again.”

The sad reality is that this evening’s charade in Washington D. C. will be a fucking puppet with the hand of Putin up his ass speaking to a gathering of those who will only tolerate him until it isn’t worth their time to do so anymore. The Resident will spout rhetoric about “rebuilding a military (that doesn’t need rebuilding)” that he so desperately wants to use, like a child playing with Army figures except in this case it is actual lives on the line. He’ll spout about how he’s “helping” by ending ObamaCare, except that people now want it left alone. And he’ll find, once no more XOs can be written, once no one else can be bullied by his charlatan actions on Twitter and he finds out he has to actually come up with ideas to govern by, perhaps he’ll rethink his main henchman Steve Bannon’s intents for the country he “says” he supposedly loves.

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And The Chickens Come Home to Roost…

RaceWhiteHouse

Currently on the cable news channel CNN (and why it’s on there I have no clue, except for the factor that news channels are “entertainment” channels nowadays) is a six-part documentary series (ah, THAT’S how they play it off as “news”) delving into the history of the campaigns for the Presidency of the United States. Race for The White House, narrated and produced by House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey, looks back at six campaigns from the jaded history of the country and the lengths (some would say depths) that people would go to ensure that their candidate was ensconced in the White House. Last week’s episode dealt with the 1960 Presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon (I already knew the story and thusly bypassed it) and this week’s episode – unless its preempted for “Breaking News” (“Hey, someone found a piece of that Malaysian plane that’s been missing for two years!”) – will look at the 1860 fight between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas.

To say that the 2016 Presidential campaign has been unique and may someday be a part of the 75th anniversary of Race for the White House on the Interstellar News Network (INN) would be an understatement. For the most part, however, it isn’t two parties or candidates going after each other that have made this a campaign that has either been memorable or an embarrassment, depending on viewpoint. It is one person whose repeated usage of inflammatory rhetoric has, indeed, drawn an audience of knuckle-draggers out of the woodwork that have repeatedly attacked even the slightest hint of protest at his campaign rallies. Now, however, the chickens are coming home to roost.

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Of course, we are talking about Donald Drumpf, who has led the charge for the Republican Party after eight years of heated, borderline racist rhetoric of their own that castigated the twice elected President Barack Obama. It started for Drumpf with the 2012 election when he drove the “birther” movement (even after it had calmed down in most Republican circles) and Trump himself fanned the flames higher. “You won’t believe the information my investigators have found,” the Orangutan Mutant crowed in news conferences – that was before Obama stood up, showed a full birth certificate showing his place of birth to be Hawaii and basically told Drumpf to put up or shut up (note:  Drumpf shut up).

When Drumpf announced his run for President in 2016, he simply continued the divisive, racist, xenophobic and misogynist rhetoric that he has parroted since he entertained thoughts of running for the office in the late 1990s. No matter the nationality or region – Mexican, Syrian, South American, Asian – nor the ethnicity or religion, Drumpf has cursed them all, pumping his StormTrumpers with an Aryan vision of “making America great again.” Then, when things got violent, Drumpf simply ratcheted the verbosity and tension even more.

Since that day in June 2015, Drumpf has continually encouraged his rallygoers to verbally and physically attack those in the crowd that would even think to disagree with him. In February, Drumpf literally said if someone at one of his rallies saw someone even giving the slightest appearance of trying to disrupt his speech to “knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK, just knock the hell – I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise.”

So what do you think happened?

On March 8, a member of the Drumpf crowd DRESSED IN HIS KOREAN WAR VETERANS ASSOCIATION GARB pushed and threatened a black protestor in Louisville, KY, forcing the WOMAN from the rally for apparently protesting too much (there is no video of what she did). The man, Al Bamberger, has since repeatedly apologized to his Veterans’ Chapter and his family, but basically has handed out a big “fuck you” to the woman whom he assaulted. So has Drumpf, who encouraged the actions from the stage (as he has virtually every one of the altercations at his rallies).

Another Drumpf rally on March 10 got even worse. As Cumberland County Sherriff’s Department officers escorted two men from the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, racial epitaphs reportedly were hurled by the crowd towards both black men. Then another man, John McGraw, stepped up and sucker-punched one of the men as he walked by. Instead of apprehending McGraw for the assault, Cumberland County officers tackled the punched man and quickly got him and his partner out of the Coliseum. It wasn’t until the next day – and after the tabloid show Inside Edition interviewed McGraw with him saying “Yes, he deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him…he might be with a terrorist organization” – that the Cumberland authorities got around to arresting McGraw for assault (an investigation is ongoing by the Sheriff’s Department as to why they didn’t act at that time).

Then there’s Drumpf’s treatment of the press. Breitbart.com reporter Michelle Fields – and Breitbart is a conservative-leaning website that has been VERY closely associated with promoting the Drumpf campaign – was allegedly accosted by Drumpf campaign manager Corey Lewandowski while the campaign was in Florida on Friday. Fields filed charges of assault against Lewandowski and displayed bruising on her arm where she said she was “forcefully grabbed” by Lewandowski, who doesn’t say he didn’t do it but calls Fields “delusional” and the campaign says is “entirely false.” There is video, however, of Lewandowski being within close proximity to Fields while Drumpf is departing a press engagement and, at a point, her body jerking back violently, giving credence to her side of the story. The investigation is ongoing.

And this all has gone on while the Orangutan Mutant continues to up the ante, increase the bile in every speech and ratchet up the rhetoric to histrionic proportions. But what happens when the odds are evened up and it isn’t a screaming horde of a few hundred people against one or two? Drumpf and his supporters scream like little weaklings with their panties in a bunch and say that their rights are being violated!

On Friday, Drumpf scheduled two rallies, one in St. Louis and the other in Chicago, and everything short of street warfare broke out. Outside of the St. Louis rally, protestors from both sides clashed and, in what has become a usual occurrence inside a Drumpf rally, the speeches were interrupted on more than a dozen occasions. That just served as the appetizer for Chicago, where the crowd was evenly split and, this time, Drumpf’s campaign decided not to hold the rally out of “security concerns.”

Now these protesters were apparently organized by the Black Lives Matters and MoveOn.org groups, but that isn’t a point worth arguing. When it came time for Drumpf to actually have to face off against those whom his supporters have targeted for attacks time and time again, they decided to back off. Drumpf himself then whined about his “First Amendment” rights and how he had a right to hold his rallies.

First-Amendment

Let’s get something straight here. Yes, everyone has a First Amendment right to say whatever the hell they want to say (and that the First Amendment is there to prevent the GOVERNMENT from infringing on that right). In utilizing that First Amendment right, you also have to accept the ramifications of what comes from that exercise. If your rhetoric is constantly demeaning of – well, virtually everyone – then you have to expect that you are going to get some backlash at some point from the targets of your vitriol.

Those protesters have the same right to be heard. Now there may be a question as to the usage of violence (and that is one that can be asked on both sides), but there should be no question that protesters can call out the Orangutan Mutant and his slobbering horde for their idiocy. That First Amendment thing? It works both ways.

What doesn’t work is to try and act like you haven’t done anything to aggravate the situation. For most of Friday evening and into Saturday (a Cincinnati Drumpf rally was also canceled due to “security concerns” while another in Dayton saw the Secret Service perform their duties admirably when a potential threat rushed the stage, surrounding Drumpf in a protective cocoon), Drumpf tried to say that he hasn’t said anything onstage to encourage his supporters to take the actions that have occurred, that there is nothing he regrets having said, that he is completely innocent regarding the “issues.”

To that, everyone – whether you agree with the Orangutan Mutant or don’t – has to raise up and loudly say “BULLSHIT!” Drumpf is the one that has turned the 2016 Presidential campaign into the shitshow that it has become, that has tossed it into the racial commode and continues to stir the malodorous pot. There’s an ever-so-slim chance that someone might get to Drumpf and see if he can walk it back a bit…if not, then I fear it’s going to get worse, perhaps to the point of dead bodies worse, rather than improve.

What’s My Problem? It Should Be Everyone’s Problem…

After one of my essays the other day, someone had the audacity to ask me what was my problem with the Republican Party. “Why don’t you go after the Democratic Party the way you go after the Republicans?” the person asked. I offered a quick, Facebook-friendly reply – which wasn’t enough for that person (it seldom is – Facebook is not an essay-friendly arena) – so I thought that I would take the time to fully enunciate what “my problem” is with the Republican Party, at least the way that it is constituted today. When I reach the end, I think that most people might recognize that it should be everyone’s problem.

I came of age in the 1970s, in the post-Watergate/post-Vietnam Era when we questioned everything that made up the government (in fact, it is why I still question it today). Whether it was the federal, state or local offices, none of them were given a break over the conditions in the United States. Republicans back then were not identified by their blind addiction to denial of social norms – abortion was an issue that was just beginning to bubble – but were more likely to be viewed on their business acumen, foreign policy expertise and respect for the military, things that everyone could get behind including their counterparts. Democrats at that time were looked at as the voice of the “people,” the party who would actually stand with those who needed the help the most when the times were the toughest, and protected them sometimes against those businesses that threatened them.

As the 1980s rolled around – and especially after the mixed results that were the presidencies of Richard Nixon (and, after his resignation, Gerald Ford) and Jimmy Carter – the two parties were still somewhat malleable in that they stood for different things but worked together for the improvement of the United States. The election of Ronald Reagan was something the country needed – a new rebirth, if you will – and it did serve to recharge the nation. I served in the United States Marine Corps during Reagan’s presidency and, while seeing him build the world’s greatest military, I also saw the Republican Party’s treatment of its fighting force in decrepit barracks and base housing, inadequate equipment, improper usage in military actions and other various areas of governance, including the denial of the AIDS epidemic and other societal ills.

Because of the success of Reagan, President George Bush – Bush I, as I like to call him – was a natural choice to continue. But Bush was different:  he was practical, he knew that you couldn’t just force the military anywhere for any reason (perhaps because of his days at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency, he had a bit more “intelligence,” no pun intended) and he also knew you had to pay for the military. Thus, when he paid for the First Gulf War (or military action as “war” was never declared per se) by raising taxes, he was doomed as the 1990s began.

The true segmentation of the Republican and Democratic parties (and there is a segmentation, they are not “the same”) – and the reason for my look at one over the other – came about in the 1990s. When Bill Clinton became President in 1992, the nation took off, arguably because he worked with a Republican-led House of Representatives and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in 1994 and they maximized the “tech surge” of the mid-1990s. It was the second term of Clinton, however, that put the nail in the coffin for me.

Instead of being pleased with making the country work, the rising “neo-con” movement in the Republican Party – not happy to have a military that was sitting on the sidelines, wanting a bolder and more aggressive foreign policy and willing to do whatever it took to regain not only the power in Congress but also in the White House – seized on Clinton receiving a hummer from intern Monica Lewinsky and turned that into an impeachable offense (ever the opportunist Gingrich, rather than trying to staunch this wave, grabbed a surfboard and rode along with it). Fortunately, a more-rational Senate was able to stave off the slathering idiots that were the neo-con Republicans screaming for Clinton’s removal, but it would only be a momentary pause before the truly shitty schism would develop between the two.

The Republican neo-cons weren’t happy with skewering Democrats, they also ravaged their own. First they took down John McCain in 2000 with a bogus “black child” scam, getting their hand-picked puppet, George Bush (or Bush II), into the nomination, then they would turn the targeting on Al Gore as the election hinged on the state of Florida (the “swift-boating” of John Kerry four years later was just icing on the cake). Having seated 10 of the last 12 Supreme Court Justices, the Republicans were able to use the U. S. Supreme Court to shut down any further review of Florida’s recount in 2000, with 538 voters being the determining factor in Bush’s 2000 Electoral College win (Gore won the popular vote) over Gore.

Once back in power – and with the attacks of 9/11 – the Republican neo-con movement was given the proverbial golden chalice of opportunity to sweepingly affect the United States and they took full advantage of it. They enacted the Patriot Act of 2001 – with a reluctant Democratic Senate coming along (only Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat, voted against it) – arguably the worst piece of legislation in the history of the country. They started first an air campaign against the alleged (true) mastermind behind 9/11, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan, but then for some inexplicable reason transferred most of their attention to an air and ground invasion of Iraq and its dictator Saddam Hussein, in essence starting a two-front war.

While making these mistakes, they also spent money like drunken sailors on shore leave. Instead of maintaining steady tax rates, the neo-cons lowered taxes – apparently thinking that there would be a magical money tree that would just drop $100 bills from the sky – while pushing an extreme anti-everything social policy that impeded on the rights on every person that isn’t a white male in the U. S. If that wasn’t enough, then the fiscal collapse of 2008 occurred – and the resulting “bank bailout” that was started by President Bush – before President Barack Obama came to office.

Now, in my entire existence, the Congress may not have agreed with the President, but they at the minimum did their job and attempted to work with the President. They passed bills, put them to the President and it was up to him as to whether he wanted to enact them. They WORKED with the President and/or his personnel. From the start of the Obama Presidency, however – and epitomized by now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s infamous “our job” speech (“Our job is to ensure that the man in the White House is a one-term President”) – the Republicans have done exactly NOTHING to further the cause of the United States (and please don’t try to say the 60 or so votes to end the Affordable Care Act constitutes “action”).

Where I come from – my core beliefs – is that government works the best when it does keep its nose out of the lives of its citizens. There come moments in a nation’s history, however, when it does require the “voice of reason” to step in and make a determination. Slavery, the right of women to vote, civil rights, abortion, equal protection for women and LGBT persons…these are all moments when the federal government has to step in and say, as a whole for the nation, that there is one rule for one nation. Through this method, one area of the nation cannot inflict its ignorance, giving the country a black eye over something that should be settled (as Alabama recently did over the gay marriage issue).

With these issues, the Republican Party seldom seems to be on the right side (slavery seems to be one of those rare occasions). Rather than embracing the rights of people, the GOP seems to kowtow to a small sect (and I use that term in its perfect religious intentions) of people who consistently chop off their leaders’ arms for not trying to be more accepting of people DIFFERENT THAN THEM.

I don’t want to see leaders blaming people for being disadvantaged or poor, I want to see those leaders attempt to help those people (a great program in North Carolina, started by a Republican, encouraged people on public assistance into a two-year program that eventually saw those people get off the dole). I want to see schools given every tool available for the children rather than hear politicians cry about the tax expenditure (education is the only way to ensure that we improve as a country) of simply providing textbooks. I want to see leaders who try to improve life for everyone rather than improve it for a few. I want to see intelligence praised instead of derided, as many in the GOP do when it comes to science.

As to the military (and as a veteran), I would like to see our troops used less rather than more. I’d prefer to see them used only as a TRUE last resort instead of as a “peacekeeping” force (as they have been since World War II). And, if you’re going to use the military, supply them with the equipment they need, pay them well, take care of their families and, when they come home, take care of the veterans and their medical conditions. The Republicans who say that they cannot take care of veterans – calling it an “entitlement” – shouldn’t ever darken the door of Congress again.

This means you have to have money for everything. Paying for a strong military, infrastructure, improvements overall for people’s daily lives, business and education improvements…it all takes money. While it can be streamlined, it also needs funding to function. Taxation for government is a necessary evil and denying that increase in revenue is a death sentence to being a third world country.

This isn’t to say all Republicans are evil, just as it isn’t to say that all Democrats are saints. But, when the scales are weighed, I see one side doing more for people and the military overall and it certainly isn’t the one that is represented by the heavier animal. I’m always open for presentation of evidence to the contrary but, for the Republican Party, that evidence is rather sparse.

Is that answer good enough?

What’s the Problem with Gambling? The U. S. Was Built On It!

(Author’s note:  With the uproar over daily fantasy sports – or DFS – in the news right now, there are folks discussing the issue of gambling. This is something that I wrote slightly more than a year ago that is as true now as it was then.)

One of the best ways to learn about whatever country you live in is to take a lengthy drive. Last month, as part of a move from the Midwest to the East Coast, I sat behind the wheel of the family’s Mercedes-Benz and did just that, covering about 1000 miles along the way. When the only conversation that you can have in a sports car is the cat that is riding along with you (after the first ten minutes of meowing, they tend to go to sleep and, even if they are listening, aren’t exactly someone to bounce ideas off of), you have time to notice some of the oddities of the United States.

As I went by such strange things as the Creation Museum (would have loved a stop there for just the simple comedy), roadside vegetable sales and various Appalachian curios, one of the things that I noticed as the miles began to pile up was the roadside billboards that popped up as I drove. Easing out of Illinois into Indiana, I was hit with those billboards from many of the popular gaming destinations in the Hoosier State. A quick hit into Ohio saw those billboards change over to the new destinations that have been opened in Cincinnati. In Kentucky, the billboards changed over from casino gaming to racetracks and horse farms that promoted the Bluegrass State’s main industry. Even in Tennessee (where there isn’t a casino scene), the billboards promoting North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee casino disturbed the natural beauty that the Great Smoky Mountains provided.

Mind you, it wasn’t just one billboard. There were more than a hundred of them, ticking down the miles until you reached the exit of said casino/racetrack/etc. It got my mind thinking (as my cat companion slumbered quietly in the passenger seat)…what’s the problem with gambling? The United States was (and is) built on it!

All you have to do to reach this conclusion is have a basic understanding of U. S. history. The very first gamble was performed from the European continent as several explorers including Leif Erickson in the 11th century and Christopher Columbus in the 15th century, decided that there was “something” where the sun was setting and (in Columbus’ case) that the earth just didn’t drop off into the Great Unknown. Erickson’s gamble was a bit bolder in that he bankrolled himself for the trip; Columbus, on the other hand, was able to get Spanish Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II to pay for his trip (potentially the first act of “backing” in a gambling setting).

As the “New World” began to garner attention, even the bastions of religious piety showed they weren’t above taking a chance. England was the location for this as first the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke (the ultimate gamble as the residents “disappeared” in 1590) was settled. Following that, the Puritans – who were so religious they were considered more restrictive than the Church of England and whose very name means ‘against pleasure’ – rolled the dice and settled at Plymouth Colony in 1620.

By the end of the 17th century, the Colonies were thriving and so was gambling. Lotteries were the prevalent form of gambling (and were used to fund several prominent colleges such as Yale, Harvard and Princeton), but dice, cards and horse racing were also popular (even the more unpalatable gambling escapades as cockfighting and dogfighting had their audience). As the rumblings of revolution came to a head in the mid-18th century, our country’s Founding Fathers – most notably George Washington and Benjamin Franklin – enjoyed a good card game. Playing cards was so popular that the Stamp Act (one of the catapults for the American Revolution) included a clause that taxed every deck of cards.

After the Revolution, however, some of the old “puritanical” ideas began to set in. Gambling was banned in some of the fledgling states, but legal (and illegal) lotteries still flourished. The lotteries even came under attack, however, so that by the time of the Civil War, only three states permitted them. The “War Between The States” would prove to be the next catalyst for gambling in the United States.

Locked in a battle for the soul of the country, both Union and Confederate soldiers would pass the time playing poker (a recent immigrant to the United States through the port city of New Orleans) with their brothers in arms as they waited for the next wager for their lives. After the conclusion of the Civil War, that gambling mentality continues as citizens pushed westward and poker came along for the ride. Nearly every Western town could be found to have a casino (legal or otherwise), where a game of faro or poker would be ongoing, and the Mississippi River bustled with commerce and the “riverboat gamblers” that plied their trade on the paddleboats.

Although it was attempted many times, gambling still found a way around banishment. The actions of Prohibition in the early 20th century saw gambling and alcohol usage pushed underground and into the hands of organized crime. Laws to make gambling illegal in the Eastern part of the U. S. saw those organized crime figures move westward to Nevada and California, with the first casinos opened in 1931 as the Boulder Dam was being built near Las Vegas. Today, only two states (Hawaii and Utah) don’t have some sort of casino or card room in their jurisdictions.

Presidents of the United States have actively taken up the game of poker and, for some of them, been advocates for the game. Harry Truman’s “The Buck Stops Here” is directly related to his love of a game of poker. Richard Nixon allegedly financed his first political campaign with money won from playing Seven Card Stud. Even Barack Obama is thought to have an affinity for the game, playing in a weekly Senate poker game prior to entering the White House.

This is only looking at gambling as it relates to cards, dice, table games, etc. U. S. citizens have taken a gamble throughout the country’s history, dating from the Puritans to the signers of the Declaration of Independence (a bold gamble, you might say) to the westward expansion of the country into areas once thought to be foreboding and unsuitable for human habitat. Americans start businesses, sometimes failing but, most of the time, successful (Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, the Rockefellers and Bill Gates (to name a few) ring any bells?). Americans gamble on innovations that have improved the world through industry, scientific discovery and even traveling to space. Even war, the most unfortunate invention of human society, has been impacted by American gambles.

Gambling is as inherent to the American persona as the flag, our National Anthem and our basic premise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Without that inner drive to take a risk, to take a chance on an unknown outcome, much of what the country has become today would have not been achieved, let alone even attempted. The United States – and much of the world, to be honest – always has to have those “dreamers,” “schemers” and gamblers to move society forward, otherwise we stagnate and, eventually, devolve.

So, as my drive ended by pulling up to our family’s new house, once again I’ll ask…why do we, not only as U. S. citizens but as an evolving species, have a problem with gambling?

It’s Tough to Give the GOP the Benefit of the Doubt

Here we are, six months from whence the primaries for the 2016 election of our next President will be taking place, and I’ve yet to find some candidate to get behind. In the past, that person was pretty much self-evident and I could step into the ballot box on Election Day with a clear conscience as to whom I was voting for. Recently, however, it has been a difficult road when it comes to picking that one candidate.

When it comes to the Democratic side of the equation, it looks more like the Republican side has looked like for most of my life. In the past, the GOP normally had a hierarchy that ran as such:  if you lost to a Republican who became president in the previous election, the next time the office was open without a Republican incumbent, it was your turn to take the nomination. This has happened in the Republican Party for virtually the last 50 years.

In 1968 it was Richard Nixon (defeated by Kennedy in 1960, won nomination in 1968); 1980 brought us Ronald Reagan (a half-hearted try in 1976 to topple incumbent Gerald Ford, who took over after Nixon resigned) and 1988 brought us George Bush (or Bush I, lost to Reagan in 1980). In 2000, George Bush (Bush II) was an outlier in that he didn’t show any interest in running in 1996, but John McCain (defeated by Bush II in 2000) and Mitt Romney (defeated by McCain in 2008) picked up where he left off.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats normally throw a donnybrook when it comes to choosing their own nominee for President of the United States. 1968 saw a reluctant Hubert Humphrey step up after the incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, decided not to run for a second term (by law, he technically could have; he served the remainder of John Kennedy’s term from 1960 and only was elected once himself in 1964) and another bright star from Camelot, Robert Kennedy, gunned down in Los Angeles just as it looked as if he were to win the nomination. 1972 saw six different candidates enter with George McGovern capturing the hearts of Democrats over Humphrey, George Wallace, Edmund Muskie, Henry Jackson and Shirley Chisholm. This occurrence of multiple choices – and viable ones, not half-assed efforts – has repeated itself pretty much every time over the Democratic Presidential nominations since…except for this one, where it seems the parties have flip-flopped.

There’s very little choice in 2016 if you examine the Democratic nominees. While everyone might grouse over Hillary Clinton and the Titanic-load of baggage she has, the other candidates lack the ability to forge a way past her as Barack Obama did in 2008 (there’s also the instance that this is the Democratic Party’s payback to Clinton for being a “good soldier” in losing to Obama in 2008, something as shown previously to be something the GOP did often). Even the person most likely to have some power to go against Clinton, incumbent Vice President Joe Biden, doesn’t seem to have the heart for a drawn out campaign battle (understandable after the death of his son). Anyone thinking that Clinton won’t be the nominee when the Democrats hit Philadelphia next summer would be considered out of their mind, even with the problems hovering over her.

The 2016 GOP field is the one that is reminiscent of the Democrats in the “come one, come all” approach they’ve used in throwing the door open and allowing anyone to come to the party. In total there are 17 candidates as of September 2015 and, in theory, there should be something there for anybody in the election even if the candidate themselves aren’t viable. The actions of the candidates since the campaigning has begun full bore this summer hasn’t exactly shown that “something for anyone” feel and makes it very difficult to give any member of the GOP the benefit of the doubt going forward, however.

Over the past week, there were a couple of instances where members of the Republican Party could have made great inroads into showing that they were someone who could lead all citizens of the U. S., not just those from one party or the other. First there was the shameful assassination of a police officer in Houston, TX that, instead of being a chance to not only unify people behind law enforcement but also a chance to have a moment of commiseration with their Democratic opponents, some members of the conservative movement chose to attack. These attacks were picked up on by some of the Presidential nominees who, in trying to make inroads into Donald Trump’s lead, came up just short of insinuating that the “Black Lives Matter” groups were the spearhead for the number of police shootings.

If you are going to piss off about 35% of the population (and their supporters), that seems to be the way to do it. Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly stated, “Every time there is a controversy about an officer shooting a black person, they’re out there stirring the pot.” Conservative radio “host” (I’ll be nice here) Rush Limbaugh has out-and-out called the “Black Lives Matter” organizations “hate groups.” Meanwhile, some on the GOP slate of candidates are following this lead with their rhetoric as a way to get back in the good graces of the Trump-mad acolytes. (And this doesn’t count Trump’s previous insulting of the Hispanic community, which he continues to do; count another 15-20% of the electorate out there the GOP can’t count.)

While there have been some tremendously stupid rallying cries heard during these “Black Lives Matter” rallies (anytime you advocate for the killing of a segment of society, your rally should be shut down), there has actually only been one proven and one possible case where a black person gunned down law enforcement individuals due to prior grievance against law enforcement’s treatment of blacks. In December 2014, two New York officers were executed in their squad car by a maniac who actually stated that was his goal (the proven case) and the Houston case mentioned previously, where Shannon Miles “allegedly” (I say that for legal reasons; when you have videotape, it’s tough to debate) executed Deputy Darren Goforth while he fueled his squad car (the possible case). That is two out of the 85 deaths of law enforcement officers in 2015, not exactly an indicator of rampant incitement of the masses against law enforcement.

Second, there was the controversy regarding Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue ANY marriage licenses due to her religious objections to same-sex marriage. If there was a point for the GOP to demonstrate that they weren’t beholden to religion or religious groups, the opportunity to point out that Davis was violating her duties and should be jailed or fined was the one to take. Instead, the GOP fumbled over itself trying to placate the Religious Right.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the worst, calling Davis’ jailing the “criminalization of Christianity” and the latest attack in the “War on Christianity,” insisting he will go to Kentucky next week to hold a rally/campaign stop at the jail where she is currently incarcerated. Senator Ted Cruz stated he stood with Davis “unequivocally.” There were some surprises such as former Senator Rick Santorum, who stopped short of criticizing Davis’ arrest but commended her stand on her “principles” and Scott Walker, who hemmed and hawed on both sides of the issue, as did Trump. No one on the GOP slate, however, held up following the U. S. Constitution, a familiar battle cry for the Republicans, instead kowtowing to the small religious wing of their party.

If they were to have shown some chutzpah, the GOP had a chance here to capture someone in the center, the “independents” that have to be captivated in order to win an election. If the GOP candidates had just stepped away from the religious question – as they are supposed to do with the separation of Church and State in the U. S. Constitution – they would have stated outright that Davis was violating the laws as they are on the book. They could have said, “Despite (my) personal feelings on the issue, the law of the land is the Constitution and, as such, she has to follow it.” How many did that? Exactly zero.

Instead of demonstrating that they are a party with 21st century ideas and people who can bring those ideas to the forefront, the candidates for President from the GOP instead fell back on mid-1900s (at the minimum) philosophy, when blacks “stayed in their place” and the addition of “In God We Trust” to our currency and the Pledge of Allegiance was allowed to fight off the “godless” Communists. Unless they can actually demonstrate that there are some original ideas left in the party, that there are those who can embrace the future and attack its problems with science, education and thought – and they have people who aren’t afraid to leave those that cling to the past with the intent on bringing it back – the GOP will not encourage me to pull the handle for them.

How the Republicans Can Become Relevant Again

Watching the Republican Party debate on Thursday night, I was disillusioned by how far the Grand Old Party had fallen. Their Top Ten candidates (of a 17 player field, it must be reminded) consisted of the leader, a person who had never held political office, has filed for bankruptcy four times, traded in older wives for trophy wives twice and has little to offer the world other than a banal reality television program and the right to use his name on your properties; the third wheel of a familial dynasty that looks like he’d rather be somewhere else than running for President; a “bold visionary” who did nothing but hurt constituents that, while working for the state, suddenly found their rights to collectively negotiate their benefits was being pulled by his leadership; and, without droning on too long, a list of other religious sycophants, Tea Party dweebs and a Libertarian that lost his way. And this isn’t even looking at the JV team that played to a silent house before the Main Event on Thursday night.

There was a time when the Republican Party actually got things right. Richard Nixon was quite the embarrassment for the GOP in the 1970s in becoming the first sitting President to resign the position, but he did some great things before he was forced (rightfully, it must be added) from office. The opening of relations with China, the détente developed with the Soviet Union and the addition of several key agencies (most notably the Environmental Protection Agency) were all done under his watch. He was one of many in that era of Republicans who actually got the job done, except Nixon went a little too far.

The wheels proceeded to come off the Republican bus soon after that. While many look to Ronald Reagan as the “perfect Republican,” many in the party today would run him out of town if he were in the party because he wasn’t “conservative enough.” They would deride his sessions with then-Speaker of the House “Tip” O’Neill, a Democrat, after hours where the two men would commiserate – but not judge – about their jobs. Today’s Republican would have hated how, oh, just once or twice, Reagan would enter into a compromise with the Democrats, giving both parties the ability to say they got something done.

It REALLY went to Hell in the 1990s, however. The Republicans, granted control of Congress, worked with President Bill Clinton for a time before the ultra-right wing of the party decided that a blowjob in the Oval Office was a high crime and treasonous. Once the impeachment of Clinton was done – with his easy acquittal – the wedge was placed and, over the last 20 years, has been hammered in deeper and deeper.

Today’s Republican Party, while they like to say that they are “reflective of America (their word, not mine…we’ll get into that another time),” are about as far away from that as possible. It has become a political organization that looks out for business but doesn’t look out for their fellow man; it has become a political organization that is too beholden to religious interests, to the point of crippling the ability for their elected officials to do anything; it has become a party of “No” with zero credible ideas that would counter what is on the table and it has become a party that is way too old, male and white.

There’s still time for the Republican Party to resurrect itself, however. All they have to do is enter the 21st century and shed some weight.

Some of the platforms the GOP have are about as welcome in the 21st century as the proverbial turd in the punchbowl. Their views on several social issues, such as abortion, immigration, drug legalization, gay rights and social programs, are rooted in a 1950s mindset when these “things” weren’t discussed, pushing them under the pillow in the hope of smothering them until the light that the 1960s was illuminated the surroundings. As it is a new age – one that is more “forward thinking,” you might hope – the GOP could change some stances and make greater inroads.

Abortion should be a right; the government should have no place to tell someone what they can or cannot do with their body. Even the debate participants the other night couldn’t bring themselves to allow for an exception for rape, incest or endangerment of the mother’s life! Such a view as this is going to cause a sizeable segment of 52% of that electorate to not exactly side with you.

Immigration also falls into a category like this. When the minorities in one state (California) outnumber Caucasians, it might be a constituency that you would try to reach. Estimates are that currently the U. S. is 62.6% “white” (discounting Hispanics that count themselves as white), a total that will continue to move closer to the 50/50 mark as the country moves forward in this century. If you can’t have a solid policy for immigration – and this counts those that are here illegally as well – then you’re going to continue to have problems drawing these people to your viewpoint.

It is also time to get over the gay “rights” issue. Why shouldn’t people have the right to marry the person they love, even if it is the same sex? Why is it such an abhorrent occurrence that it causes Republicans to try to shut it down at every angle? How can you say that a same sex union sullies the “sanctity” of marriage while people get married two, three, four or more times heterosexually? Time to get over it, Republicans.

Now that we have most of the social issues out of the way, it’s time to cut the weight. For too long, the Republican Party has been carrying people that have dragged it into the morass that it currently finds itself. It is time to tell this “dead weight” to head off on its own.

First we’ll start with the “Tea Party” movement, who says it is all about lower taxes but seems to drag the GOP down when they start talking about social issues. Unfortunately, to run a government you have to have revenues and “trickle down” economics has been proven to be a disastrous way of running a government (let’s ask the people of Kansas what they think of this). Social issues are also a part of running a government and require funding.

The GOP should cast those that call themselves members of the “Tea Party” and say, “Hey, here you go. You’re on your own.” If the party is viable, then it will be able to garner support and, perhaps more importantly, financial viability and survive…hell, maybe even become a solid third party. If they aren’t able to do this, then they will drift off into the mists of history along with the Whigs, the Federalists, the Bull Moose, Know Nothings and Dixiecrats.

The GOP also needs to wean itself from the religious zealots of the party, which do nothing but hold it back. The United States has a definitive separation of Church and State; while you can be religious as a politician, it shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all with every decision that you make on a government level. In that case, you are a theocracy and no better than Iraq or other nations that rule by religion. The GOP needs to let those folks go also and maybe their party will be a viable one in future elections.

So let’s see what we have left in our Republican Party 2016:  people that believe the federal government should not reach into every level of a citizen’s life; those that believe there should be financial responsibility in the operation of government; for the most part, the citizens should be left to do as they want unless they violate an extreme law of the land. This party already exists but is pooh-poohed by the two major parties…it’s the Libertarian Party.

If the GOP were willing to do these things, then they might be able to survive as a party. They sure as hell would be able to draw a more diverse following than they currently have.

I’d be pretty happy if there were a Democratic (and let’s be honest, that one could be hacked up itself), Republican, Libertarian, Tea and Church Parties and we’d probably have a pretty decent set of candidates for every election. We’d also have a keen insight to what mental motivation drives this person for office and what we could expect if they were elected. We would definitely have much better choices for President in 2016 than we have under the current situation.