My Vote Was Stolen

I don’t trust the results. Because election tampering can and has gone on in previous years and officials defend such practices which suggests intent. The Republican Secretary of State in Ohio, Jon Husted allowed the security features of his state’s electronic voting machines, the feature that makes it difficult to hack and possible to check the results, off. When sued over it he argued to the Republican judge who ruled on the case that it would cause Havoc. Yeah, because people would know that the election was stolen!  The judge ruled in his favor.  That was this year, 2016. This is in addition to under-supplying machines to democratic districts so that the lines are unreasonably line while republican precincts have no lines. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the polls underestimated turnout. Or maybe they didn’t, and the results overestimated the votes.

This is election tampering. And it happened this year. So I’m not even talking about what happened in Ohio in 2004 which gave the election to Bush, or what happened in 2000 with voting machines that counted negative total votes for Gore in Florida (but the total number of votes for both candidates was right), or the purging of eligible voters from the rolls, which occurred in Florida in 2000 as well as Ohio in 2016.

It  makes me suspicious. It makes me wonder why the polls, exit polls even, are always consistently underestimating my candidate. The explanations for this include that maybe exit pollers lie. Why would exit pollers lie? Would they want people to think that their candidate cheated?

Proof that it goes on.  Strange results where polling is inconsistent with the actuals. In GA, where I vote, the year electronic machines were introduced we went completely red. Prior to this we had a democratic governor and one senator. And in races since then, like Jason Carter’s run for Governor when the polls suggested it would be close enough for a runoff he lost by a big margin.

So, no, I can’t prove that the election was stolen, or that tampering made the difference, but I don’t trust the results, because they aren’t trustworthy.

What do we do about it?

it would be quite logical to throw out the results, and have a new election. We have a right to know that the results are accurate. If we can’t now that, if audit features were turned off, if there’s evidence that eligible voters are being denied their rights to vote, if obstruction of the vote us purposeful, if there is a history of election tampering, then what else should we do? Revolution? Or has that already happened? Maybe we need to defend our country.

We Need Pessimists

We need to recruit the pessimists to our cause, the ones who have a hard time believing that anything can be done, the ones that don’t want to invest in something that is futile.

I am reminded of something that I believe MLK Jr said that when they recruited someone to non-violence who hadn’t previously bought into it that those were the most fervent of their recruits. And I get that.

We don’t just want the people who are committed to doing something no matter what, we need the people who don’t do things when they believe it’s futile. We need them to believe that what we are doing is not futile. They are discriminating, and don’t want to waste their time unless it can be effective, so they are the most likely to be effective, if you can get them on board. They have vision, they have foresight, that’s why they are pessimistic, but it’s also why they understand what needs to be done to be effective. We need the people who are optimistic too, they don’t get as easily discouraged, they keep our spirits up, they help us when we are down, but we need the pessimists to drive us with their critical thinking.

We want to keep trying, and we don’t want to stop just because we aren’t sure we’re going to win, but we also want to have our best shot at winning. We don’t want to just work to make ourselves feel better, to feel like we fought the good fight, or that we are not to blame for the outcome. That won’t work. Because it feels bad to lose, even if we don’t feel like it was our fault, and who’s to say we won’t blame ourselves anyway?

The Popular Vote

I would like people to start supporting the idea that the president should be elected not by the electoral college but by a national popular vote. For the following reasons:

  1. There’s no real fair reason why an individual who lives in a less populous state should have more influence than an individual in a more populous state, or put another way, that any individual should have MORE VOTES than another individual, which is what happens for residents of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Vermont. Those states have 3 electorates which means that they have a big enough population for the minimum 1 house representative. California, with 55 delegates, has a big enough population for 53 house representatives, which means there are at least 53 times more people in the bigger state (I say at least because every state gets at least one house representative even if their population is below the amount that 1 usually represents). Yet if you take 55 and divide it by 3 you find they only have 18 1/3 more delegates. 53 times the population and less than 19 times the votes.  This means that voters in those less populous states get almost 3 votes to every 1 vote that residents of CA get.
  2. A friend of mine on the other side of this issue argues that the concerns and perspectives of rural residents would be neglected for the interests of the urban if the president was elected by popular vote. But in fact there are democrats and republicans in rural and urban areas. If NY were to go 60% Democrat, and Ohio, say, goes 51% Republican, it does not leave residents of Ohio underrepresented. 49% of them will still have voted for the winner, by allying themselves with New Yorkers, and if this gets a majority overall, then that seems to me to be perfectly fair. The opposite does not. It shortchanges a still significant percentage of Ohio residents that voted with the majority. In fact, it is the representatives of states who are typically either reliably red or blue that are neglected and for whose concerns there is no incentive for a candidate to address. NY is one of the States with the highest population but was the one in which candidates spent the least money in this latest presidential race. Democrats take them for granted, and Republicans write them off. If there was a popular vote for president, every vote can contribute to the potential result. Every vote in every state will matter to the candidates. Candidates might try to reduce the margin of their opponent, in a state they know they will lose.
  3. It would increase participation. Right now the only votes that count are the votes in swing states. The citizens of all other states, both red and blue, feel like their votes don’t matter, because once you acknowledge the foregone conclusion, an extra vote on either side means nothing. It discourages participation.
  4. It may encourage moderate candidates. The incentive to cater to voters in areas that are typically  not your base can lead to less polarization by region and an interest in pleasing a wider demographic. It might favor more moderate candidates, more holistic policy, rather than the extremes of both parties that typically play better only to limited audiences.
  5. Fraud will be harder to execute. There has been quite a bit of evidence of election tampering in the last few elections, around the vulnerability of electronic voting machines, around the withholding of machines in certain districts to make it harder to vote, around the purging of voting rolls under the pretense of fraud in an attempt to actually deny legitimate voters their rights and around the counting of provisional ballots or absentee ballots (or not) to name a few. Whether you are willing to entertain these facts, or whether you dismiss them as conspiracy theory, the fact is that the electoral college makes it easier to affect a lot of delegates by manipulating the totals of relatively small amount in swing states, Fraud would have to occur on a much wider scale to affect the popular vote, and should therefore be less profitable to even try, or more easily detectable except when the election is very close on a national scale. It would provide an added level of protection against the effectiveness of any real or potential election tampering.

Changing how the president is elected does not change the senate. There is still disproportionate representation in the senate which would give voice to rural interests, and I’m not proposing that we change that.

This  may seem to be an almost impossible thing to change, given that a constitutional amendment would require ¾ of all states to ratify it, and so many states of lower population benefit from the electoral college. But interestingly, ten states have already entered into a compact to pledge their delegates to the candidate that wins the popular vote over all, set to go into effect only when enough states have signed on as to guarantee a majority. This would negate the need for a constitutional amendment, because states are allowed to pledge their delegates by whatever means they choose.

This compact would be in the interest of all states that are reliably either red or blue, in that it would force candidates to pay attention to them. Some states might see it as a risk that democrats are more likely to be the beneficiaries, but in 2004 Kerry was very close to winning Ohio, which would have given him the victory, and there is now good evidence that election tampering affected the outcome and Ohio should have gone to Kerry. However, Bush won the popular vote that year, and so assuming the tampering wasn’t significant enough to affect millions of votes, the rule would have benefited the Republican party. I also think this rule would benefit moderate republicans, those fiscal conservatives who aren’t tea partiers, racist or evangelical, because as argued above, moderate republicans would have a better chance at appealing to Republican and Democrat alike from places where the majority is historically skeptical of their views, and less aware of their perspectives.

My only concern with this is that the first time NY has to pledge its delegates to the candidate that they don’t want, they might question their principles and they only need a majority to leave the compact. It could all collapse a little bit too easily. But it is a step in the right direction and maybe if the compact survives long enough, a constitutional amendment could be achieved, just to make official what will have already been established in practice.

 

It’s My Fault That Trump is President

So what I vote. I could get mad at a person because he didn’t vote or voted for a third party or voted for Trump.

But it would be hypocritical of me to blame others.

I made a career out of something irrelevant. I might as well have been a janitor. There’s no shame in it, no shame in supporting your family, no shame in helping to keep the economy going, but that’s the extent of what I do; I keep a machine running. It’s a machine that feeds people, sure, it’s important, but it doesn’t change the world.

Would I have been good at it, speaking my mind, perhaps, adding my voice to those who fight the good fight? Maybe I would have changed only a single mind; maybe that mind would have reached a million. Maybe I could have become a representative myself. But I didn’t try, so I don’t know.

I don’t believe half of the things people say they hate Hillary Clinton for. The Republicans who hate her are hypocrites if they didn’t also hate W. Bush. I supported Sanders, and I wasn’t particularly fond of the way in which it seemed that she conspired with the DNC against him. I didn’t like that she voted to give Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq, or how she didn’t support gay marriage when it wasn’t politically expedient to do so. She changed her positions, that’s not bad, that could be good, if it’s because she listens to reason, but it sometimes seemed like it was based on public opinion and it casts doubt upon whether I can believe what she says she believes in now. She’s a friend to big money. She is a military hawk whose support of the Arab Spring was a failure. I always felt she was too conservative, which is why I don’t fully understand why they don’t like her. Among my friends there was an epidemic of wishful thinking that she would be more progressive as President than she has ever been. Their blindness to who she, however, pales in comparison to the blindness of Trump supporters to who he really is, except for those who support him because they actually believe in who he really is, which is an even bigger problem.

I hope now that there is reaction. Maybe more people will get involved. Maybe the democratic party put someone up who really is progressive, another woman, even, someone who has integrity, and who has consistently spoken her mind regardless of popular opinion.

I’ve thought that before. How far do we have to fall before we hit rock bottom? I hope this is it.

I really do think I am at fault. I have become a fraction of the musician I decided a long time ago not to be because I felt a calling to service that I never acted on. I could have been a good musician, but instead I’m half assed. And that sacrifice was supposed to be for something. And while I gave up music and acting, things I liked, supposedly for this yearning to do something I considered less selfish and more important, I ended up as an accountant, which is even less important, though maybe not selfish. On the other hand, it has exposed me to conservatives, and brought me to the south, where there are perspectives to understand and opinions I ought to be pressed to change. Maybe everything happens for a reason. But when am I going to do something? I don’t even know how to respond to people who I know are full of shit, because I am not armed with the facts, because I don’t keep myself informed.

And right now, I don’t feel like talking. I only want to listen and try to understand it. I don’t know why but I feel like that would be a comfort. Maybe it is because understanding is the prerequisite to a plan. Maybe that feels like I’m doing something. And when it’s time, when I’m ready, I can still say what I want. We haven’t lost that right, yet and I don’t plan to give it up (they can pry it from my cold dead mouth).

For now, I don’t want to judge anyone. I can’t control them, they live by their consciences. I live by mine.

If my way is superior, if I am smarter than they are, then I should not judge them because their best is not as good as my best or because I failed to convince them of something or didn’t even try. And if my way is not superior and I am not as smart as I think, then I shouldn’t push a view that would be inferior. Either way I should take a step back and listen, as hard as it may be to do, and first understand other people’s points of view. Talking, at least right now, at least for me, probably wouldn’t end well anyway. I might take to calling half the country retarded, but what would be the point? It’s not their fault. We are all to blame. We are all to blame. We are all to blame.

If you don’t believe that we are all to blame I must ask you, do you really think you have done everything you could have done your entire life to make sure that the world is a better place? Some can absolve themselves because they have devoted themselves to a cause. But the vast majority cannot.

Thomas Jefferson: Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty.

George Washington: Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.

 

 

It’s Obvious

I told a bandmate of mine, when we were rehearsing Sunday night, and it was getting past my bedtime, that I had to get up at 5AM.

“Why?” he asked. I hesitated to say. “Personal reasons?” he asked.

“So… I’m waking up at 5 to write,” I told him.

And he thought that was great, solicited a slap me five for it (up high, down low, too slow), and went on to talk process with me. Now this is the universe conspiring to help me, see? I need to accept that help. Because he talked about the most difficult part for him being the finish (the last 10% is always the hardest – that’s true of tax returns too), and that if he didn’t push through it, he would just start something new, because that’s the easier part. And that is something I struggle with so much that I have been justifying to myself that there is nothing wrong with working on multiple stories at once, but there is, because it enables you to avoid the hardest part of the process by moving on to something easier. That’s why I never finish anything. That’s why, as I always say, I have lots of potential.

So, I think if I follow the signs, then I will go back to working on one particular story that I put down a while ago, even though it’s not the most recent story I’ve worked on (its been so long I’ve forgotten the names of some of my characters) and almost doesn’t feel like the one I should finish because it’s not even the furthest along. But a teacher I had in Jr. High school, my favorite teacher ever, has recently contacted me in response to an old request I made of him to play the Muse. Well, actually it started when he joked that he couldn’t wait to read the book in which I based a character on him. And so it occurred to me that there was a character in a particular story I was working on at the time the lent himself perfectly to that, and I actually changed the name to his, Mr T.

It soon became obvious, however, that I didn’t really know Mr T so well. How much does a teacher really reveal about himself to his 9th graders. So, I asked him if we could get together so that I could get to know him better, for the story. And he said, sure, but then it didn’t happen, and now a year or two later, he emails me to ask how it’s going.

Decisions need to be made, plain and simple and sometimes the choice is obvious. Just like it was ultimately obvious that the only way I was going to find time to write was to wake up at five and the only way I could to do that was to go to sleep at ten. No matter how much I didn’t want to do that it was the obvious answer. Right after that, Mr T emails me, and then my bandmate tells me I need to FINISH SOMETHING. The decision to work on this story – working title: The Immortals – over something else I was working on more recently  – working title: Robert the Robot – also makes sense on so many levels. Because Mr. T has contacted me, and has actually sent me some emails telling me stories about himself that I can work into the character, and so it is time. I must gut it out with this one story, because when it gets difficult, that’s when you have to get mean, and if you just start on a new story, it will be because you are avoiding the difficult not because it’s a good process. You’ll finish nothing. If you want to get to that new story, finish the old one. So obvious I wonder why I didn’t realize it before.

I’m about ready, after only a week, to move on from strictly journal and blogging to a project. Cover me…

Another Win

I had a pretty good weekend. Saturday I played poker. I was up, I was down, I came back, I lost, I won. It was an exciting roller coaster. I ended up doubling my money – ten dollars – and it was another “let’s go give A. Lawrence G. our money” kind of night, just like I like ‘em. Actually there were four players and among them two winners, one break even and one guy funding all of the winners by losing twenty dollars all by himself. And it was his birthday this week. But that’s ok, he raked up with gifts of bourbon, some Cuban cigars and a book or three.

Friday there was what we call happy hour, even though it lasts more than an hour, at a neighbor’s house across the street from where I live, and the wife and I were invited. We appeared early on then had to leave for dinner plans and then we came back after. This was also to celebrate the birthday of my friend the loser at poker, and another friend who wasn’t a loser at poker (you can’t lose if you don’t play).

I’m a good poker player. I should play in Vegas, except I was just there and I did play in a cash hold ‘em game for my first time playing in a casino, and I lost $100. I felt out of my league from early on. I play better when it’s low stakes and I can feel comfortable being aggressive. It also helps that the other players aren’t so good.

So I’m glad I got that out of my system, and I think I’ll stick to the neighborhood.

Speaking of winning and losing, the election is tomorrow. These same friends are having another damn party, on a Tuesday night, because they hope to be celebrating.

I’m sorry, but I can not be a part of that. For one thing, it takes forever for them to call it. That’s like watching a 1 minute television show with 2 hours of commercials. I’ll just Tivo it and watch it in the morning. Also, 10PM is my bedtime during the week. Sorry but I have to get up at 5AM

“What for?” they ask.

“I don’t want to say. I might jinx it.”

“The election?”

“No, that would be you jinxing the election.”

It is true that I’ve been here before and I don’t want to assume that election night is going to be all about my candidates victory. I would rather go to bed hopeful and wake up excited, or if all else fails I’ll at least have had a good night’s sleep.

Because this is the win that’s really important. I would trade the $10 I just won in a heartbeat to win this one instead.

Reinvention

Once I reinvent myself I’m going to be better than all of y’all.

There are always things I want to do, like read more books, write a novel, learn Spanish, eat better, exercise, lose weight.

I’d like to be skinny. I think I’d feel better, physically. And look better. 

Still, I’m not talking about defining reinvention by some measurement of goal completion. I’m talking whether I can become a different person. Someone who doesn’t care what people think, has courage, and confidence. Can a person change what they believe?

For example, I can’t choose to believe something that just didn’t make sense to me, like that stuff about Jesus. 

But can you be young again when you are old? Can you effectively travel through time and reinvent, not just who you are, but who you were? Can you create this fiction about your past, if you want to?

What if you can turn yourself from a person who failed a lot to someone who always succeeds, from one who regrets to someone who has always been grateful for the  miraculous good fortune, that has always befallen him.  Maybe it isn’t fiction.What if yo remembering more of your successes than your (supposed) failures. We all have them. Can the narrative you tell about yourself redefine you in the present?

And even if it were fiction, even if I made up the fact that I had a wonderful life and it wasn’t even true, does that matter? Does it matter if it helps to reinvent who I am today?

I had a friend in 1984 named Larry Wachowski. He was a fanatic Cubs fan. He won a bet I made with him at the beginning of the season that the Mets, who had the year before finished poorly, I don’t remember where the Cubs had finished in 1983, would finish better than the Cubs. The Cubs ended up in first, and the Mets in second. When the Cubs clinched the division, even though it was at that point, already, a foregone conclusion, he came to my dorm room with a bottle of Jack Daniels, our drink – in that he had introduced it to me – to celebrate.  I said, “oh, you fucking asshole,” and then we drank it.

I liked who I was then, in that moment, even though my team had lost. And then I rooted for the cubs in the Series.

That’s a moment I can be proud of. Just being who I was then was a success. When the cubs lost, Larry put his hand through a window pane.

He reinvented himself. I only know this because he’s kind of famous, not because I’ve kept in touch.  He reinvented himself and he’s a girl now.  Maybe he would say he was always a girl. Semantics. I thought about him just this week because the Cubs have finally won a World Series. And I wonder if she, is as happy about it as he would have been. Would she have put her hand through a window pane if they had lost, again? I hope so. Because you gotta like a girl like that. 

Extra Innings

We all need to do a little extra. This is how committed I am. It was an historic moment last night. The Cubs after 108 years finally broke the curse. Teased so many times before, and I was there for some of that. They had some good teams over the years, 1969, 1984, hell last year even. And it looked like they might lose again, but they forced a seventh game.

And I went to bed at 10PM because I had just committed myself to a routine to awake at 5AM to write something everyday. That’s how committed I am to my own extra. Of course I checked the score first thing in the morning to find out that the 5-1 lead that I abandoned for sleep was blown and the game went into extra innings had a rain delay and then the Cubs made history in the 10th. And now Cleveland is the team with the longest drought since winning a World Series.

And I feel pretty good about missing it. Especially since it went really late. Of course, I wouldn’t have missed it if the Mets were playing. So maybe it’s not the sacrifice I claim it to be. Maybe I don’t really care. It’s not like I was following these players all year. I wasn’t invested too much. But I’m happy for them. I’m happy for Cubs fans. They should all take a day off work.

On another note, I had a dream last night that Michael Strahan was playing the drums really well, and I watched him for awhile and was thinking, “this is he way I would play the drums if I practiced more.” The weird thing is that usually the memory of any dreams I have start to fade very quickly after I wake up. If I can’t write them down right away, they’re gone. But this was an early dream. I had it, then went back to sleep, then woke up and remembered it, as if it really happened. Maybe it’s a waking up at 5 thing.

Writing again

I wracked my brain to figure out how I could squeeze in time to write, what with work, and parenting, and eating and drumming and happy hours and parties at my friends houses and halloween, and soon it will be Thanksgiving and then we’re going on vacation before Christmas, and what about the weekends? I have places to be and people to see, flights to take and then I have to vote. Next Tuesday I have to vote.

I want some kind of mini computer that I could pull out and it would turn big and I could bring it with me always and write wherever I was. Sitting on the toilet would be my go to spot. It’s private, at least. Remember phones that real keyboards? Why was that a bad thing?

I came to a conclusion. There’s no way around the fact that the only way I’m going to be able to write, and for at least two hours a day (I want more) is to get up at 5AM and write until 7AM. And in order to do that, I have to be in bed by 10PM (cause I’m that old). I need to have my nighttime chores done early, the kitchen clean. And then I have to stop staying up with my wife to watch “just one more” episode of the Gilmore Girls. Will Rory and Lorelei finally stop being stupid? Yes (sorry. Spoiler alert).

Will I do it? It doesn’t matter what I say. If I produce, then maybe one day someone will ask me, “what is your routine?” And then I can say, “just like so many other writer’s, I get up too fucking early.”

I really wanted to post something, since today is the first day that I’ve actually tried to start this new routine, on my daughter’s old laptop actually, which she has foresaken because it shuts off whenever it wants to, she says (we’ll see). My own chromebook tells me it needs to be recovered, but when I do, it still needs it, It’s a needy little fucker, but it has been a good ol’ wagon. I would get another, but for the fact that I have my daughters laptop.

So, there. I posted something. I know it’s not good. This blog is where I post things that don’t have to be.