Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hated or Loved, Castro's Consequential Legacy Part of History

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro died on Friday.

I am sure my reaction was much like the reactions of many.  I personally didn’t celebrate his obituary, but I wasn’t unhappy to read it. 
 
To me, Castro was a tyrant. He was a dictator. He held his country and his people back, and he had an unending hatred for what we would call democracy. To exiled Cuban refugees and their families, Castro was like Satan. 

To many others, Castro was a revolutionary.  When others capitulated at the threats of the United States government, Castro stood taller and got stronger.  To some, dare I say he was a hero.

Castro was a survivor.  He was a central figure in the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the United States and the Soviet Union extremely close to nuclear war.

Yet, time after time, opponents including U.S. Presidents tried to take him out.  He survived.  He bedeviled Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

When his country's economy tanked, he found a way to work out of it, and he survived that way for some 60 years on the world stage as a permanent rock in the shoe of the United States just 90 miles a way.  A true reminder of the Cold War with, at various points, the means to do real harm to our way of life and our national interests.  He was that threat that could never be extinguished.  

He was a fiercely controversial man, a complex world leader and a fascinating personality.

In interviews, Castro had a sort of disarming charm. Barbara Walters has talked about her time with Castro as enjoyable. She talked about how he would allow a certain back and forth between the two even going as far to cook for the crew. Walters always said that the other Castro was never far from the surface. 
 
That Castro was the fiery revolutionary who could captivate or alienate an audience. That Fidel Castro seemed too mean to ever die.

In the end, Castro was largely relegated to a ceremonial role in his own government. His brother, Raul, now the leader, mended fences with Barack Obama, the current American President, and the old wounds between Cuba and the United States seemed to finally be healing. Fidel never seemed happy with that and even spoke out against his country’s course of action in his failing health.

He was shaking his fist at the United States until the very end.

One of the most consequential people of his time, Fidel Castro is gone at 90 years old.  In death, as in life, he leaves many with much to think about and many emotions to experience.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Trump Back to Tweeting Idiocy

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm taking my annual post-election/holiday hiatus.  It's been a relaxing time even as uncertainty mounts as to what will happen in January when perhaps the most unstable man to ever be elected President takes the Oath of Office.

The latest from Trump is that he actually would have won not only the Electoral College (recounts pending) but also the popular vote if all the people who illegally voted were subtracted.  I'm not making it up.  Here's the Tweet.



According to The Hill, Trump's claim echos  a report by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that three million undocumented people voted in the election.  Fact checkers were quick to point out that this claim is unproven.

The Boston Globe reported that there is nothing to back up Trump's later tweets about "serious voter fraud" in New Hampshire, Virginia or California nor did he offer anything in the way of proof.

Sounds like Trump's a little nervous about something to me.  I think Trump's mad he didn't win the popular vote.  Hillary Clinton's lead continues to grow.  A later tweet said he would have won the "so-called popular vote" had he really tried instead of trying to win the Electoral Vote.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Silver Linings from Nov. 8

Rep. Karlee Macer (D)
saw her vote percentage
grow by 9% over 2014.
Out of all the mess of last Tuesday’s election results, it’s clear that Marion County actually did pretty much what it could for Democrats in the state of Indiana and locally to deliver a blue wave.
 
Democrats swept the Marion County seats where Republicans shockingly didn’t even bother to field a Coroner candidate. Dr. Lee Sloan will take over that critical role. Debbie Jenkins won a third term as Marion County Surveyor. Claudia Fuentes won a second go-around as Marion County Treasurer.

For the first time, Democrats beat Susan Brooks in Marion County part of the 5th District. Of course, she did very well in Hamilton County. Congressman André Carson again beat the baseline of his district in defeating Cat Ping in the 7th District.

Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, John Gregg, Glenda Ritz, and Judge Lorenzo Arredondo took big margins out of the county with them.

In the Indiana General Assembly, Marion County held serve. Seats that were Democrat stayed Democrat with mostly larger victory margins. Seats that were Republican saw their margins mostly trimmed or had to rely on margins outside Marion County to provide the victory.

Statewide, Republicans lost a seat in the House, and Democrats lost a seat in the Senate.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Just Sketching Direction for National Democrats

Rep. Keith Ellison
I don't have any solid answers for where Democrats should go next in 2018 or 2020, but I think I have a few pretty good ideas and can sketch out a road map of what might make the party more successful against Donald Trump.

First of all, as the Democratic National Committee, I would name a Chair who gets it.  Donna Brazille is a great operative, and she has performed about as well as she could after being undercut by the Wikileaks scandal.  There are two choices I would support.

The first candidate is Howard Dean.  Dean burst on the scene in 2004 and showed everyone what a powerful organizing and fundraising tool the
internet could be.  His star burned out before the primary season warmed up, but he went on to become the soul of the party in some ways.  Dean became DNC Chair in 2005.  He engineered the party's comeback seeing the Democrats take control of both the House and the Senate in 2006.  His "50-state strategy" caught fire in 2008 when it met the Obama campaign.

Howard Dean
Barack Obama became a transformational candidate by expanding the electoral map for Democrats and pushing through some reforms some had only dreamed about.  Briefly, Democrats held 60 seats in the Senate, caucus-wise.  Dean left in 2009.  Much of the progress reached during his tenure has now been turned back with Republicans controlling both Houses of Congress and the Presidency.

If Dean could get lightning to strike twice, he might be able to put Congress back in Democratic hands if Trump remains an unpopular executive.  2018 is that first opportunity to send a message.

Keith Ellison could also be a great DNC Chair.  First of all, the Congressman is endorsed by Bernie Sanders.  Ellison would likely take the party in probably a more progressive direction than Dean.  As both an African-American and a Muslim-American, Ellison would continue to show the Democratic Party's commitment to diversity and our idea of one big tent.  He would provide a new voice and a new direction, and he's picked up the endorsement of outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

After the direction of the party is settled with a new chair, I wouldn't have Democratic candidates beginning their campaigns in Iowa or New Hampshire.  There will be time for that.  Democrats need to go to West Virginia or Ohio or Wisconsin or Pennsylvania and find out why Trump was so successful with the so-called Reagan Democrats.  As a party, we have to bring working-class people back into the Democratic Party.  Our values more closely match their values than Donald Trump's do.

At the same time, Democrats must continue to defend women and minorities and others from those that would tear them down.  We can never forget the big picture.

At the end of he day, we need to look, I believe, towards the center of the party to candidates that can do well in the rust belt and in rural areas before we can ever seriously get this train back on track. Either that or get candidate that all Democrats and even more than a few Republicans can rally around.

Democrats, your voices are needed now more than ever.  Keep on talking! The race for 2018 and 2020 will begin before you even know it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

It's Veterans Day, Thank You

It's November 11.  Veterans Day.

Thank you to all that have put on the uniform for your sacrifice and for protecting the rights and freedoms we share as Americans.  We don't honor you enough, but I hope you know that I thank you and appreciate you.

For those that will one day soon be veterans that are fighting on the front lines or supporting our country's efforts elsewhere, thank you too.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thank You HIllary!

I'm Still With Her
As the smoke clears from the historic election on November 8, I want to send a special thank you out to one person who deserves it so much.

Hillary Clinton.

November 8 might have brought to a close a truly remarkable political career of a girl that grew up near Chicago and rose, as a woman, to the highest levels of our government. In the meantime, she made pit stops in the White House as First Lady and in the United States Senate as a Senator. She ran for President twice and, arguably, got more votes than her opponent both times but never got to sit behind the Resolute Desk.

Hillary Clinton is one of the toughest political figures to ever walk into the arena. She's a fighter among fighters. She can shake off the haters better than most, and, despite her entire personal and professional life being laid bare to her opponents, she continued to put herself out there because she had a desire to serve.

In 2008, I found myself on the other side of Hillary Clinton. I supported President Barack Obama's run from the start, and I got to see what a tough customer she was. When she lost, she put her arm around the nominee because that's what she had to do. She reunited the Democratic Party that was cracked down the middle.

There was no doubt in my mind that if Clinton ran in 2016 that I would be with her. I was. I am proud. While her campaign was flawed in some ways, outside forces, in my view, conspired against her. Still, she won the popular vote. Again, even though she got more votes, she's done nothing but ask for unity for a man who's done nothing to deserve it. She did that because she had to. It's that love of country that has always motivated her.

Now, in 2020 or 2024 or 2048 or whenever it happens, a woman will step up on the steps of the Capitol Building and raise her right hand. She'll recite the Oath of Office. It could still be Hillary if she runs again, but, if her fight is over, no one has done more to inspire little girls that they too can be President of the United States. Hillary Clinton took up the fight of the suffragette and those like Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro and others but she's advanced the conversation to the very edge of the line. There will be a woman elected President one day, and Hillary will have had a lot to do with it.

If this is the end of the very long and wonderful public career of Hillary Clinton, I want to personally thank her for inspiring me. I am still with her.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Taking A Few Days...

I'm going to take a few days away from the blog.  Unlike last time, this is just a few days...not any longer.

I'm not going anywhere.  On the contrary, there's so much that I want to say, but every time I start to say it...I stop.  I want to lash out and rant out, but that solves nothing.  I just keep trying to remember that this is a great country with resilient people.  We will get through this.

"It is what it is, so make it what it will be."
--Pat Summit

Donald Trump is going to be President of the United States on January 20, 2017.  On that day, at noon, he'll raise his right and and take the Oath of Office.

It's going to take a few days to process that for me.  So, for the haters, please feel free to gloat.  For my fellow Democrats, please feel free to soul search.  For all of the candidates, thank you for running and putting yourself out there.

I shall return shortly.

Indy Democrat...OUT.

Republicans Close Door on Democrat Challenge

Well, what can I say...

It's going to take a while for me to dig through all of these results and all of this information.

My initial reaction is that I'm extremely disappointed.  Indiana had a real chance to make some change this election, and I'm afraid that we just doubled down on every thing that has got us into these certain but uncertain times.

We just handed the keys of the Governor's Office over to Eric Holcomb, a man we know truthfully little about.  He has no voting record.  He has no particular public pedigree.  All we know is the way he's conducted his campaigns and the way he's led the Republican Party in Indiana.  We know that Holcomb's GOP created the mess in our education system.  We know that his GOP is anti-LGBT.  We know Holcomb is anti-Sunday alcohol sales and anti-medical marijuana.

Hoosiers handed their U.S. Senate seat to Todd Young. A man who essentially offered nothing but being a former Marine and being anti-Washington to voters.  By the way, did you know he's a Marine?

Congratulations to all the winners.  Republicans now hold all of Indiana Government again.

It's late/early...I'm tired...I'm out.