Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trump is Going Down, and He's Taking You All With Him

It has just occurred to me that for the first time since I joined the Libertarian Party in 2010, my political cause is not the most forlorn, tilting at windmills cause in the country.

This year, we have the Trump supporters who are so in denial about the impact of last Friday's video release that they are willing to go down with the ship that is the Donald J. Trump campaign. Not only that, but they're willing, and in some cases eager, to watch Donald destroy Republicans' chances of holding the Senate as well. That, of course, means the Supreme Court will also go swirling down the plughole.

Now I even hear some Democrats starting to whisper about the prospects that the House might be in play, especially with Trump's recent complaints about a betrayal by Paul Ryan and other Republicans. Trump supporters have decided they're OK with simply burning down their party if they can't have Donald in the White House. I suspect they will wake up on the morning of November 9th to discover that their own house has burned down with the rest of the neighborhood. Donald will feel vindicated by that result. To quote a line from The Game of Thrones, "He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes."

Meanwhile, Libertarians are expected to see our best year ever in terms of vote totals, and voter awareness. Just as the Republican party of Lincoln was born in the ashes of the failed Whig Party in the middle of the 19th century, the Libertarian Party today is poised to rise from the ashes of another faltering party that lost touch with its constituents.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

#Let Gary Debate

Have you seen the news release from the League of Women Voters?

 League Refuses to "Help Perpetrate a Fraud" 

The second paragraph sums it up best: 

 "It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions," Neuman said. "The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public." 

Haven't seen this release?  I'm not surprised.  It's from October 3rd, 1988.  League President Nancy Neuman was responding to a sixteen page document submitted by the Bush and Dukakis campaigns representing their agreed upon conditions for participating in the next debate.  The League was informed the conditions were non negotiable.  The League said no, and never again sponsored a presidential debate. The last debate that year was sponsored by the newly formed Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), whose co-chairmen were, coincidentally, the then chairmen of the Republican and Democratic National Committees.  The original Republican co chair is still there, though he is now a former RNC chairman. The new Democratic co chair is a former Bill Clinton press secretary. That odor you smell is what the CPD likes to refer to as non partisanship. Their purpose is to present the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in the most favorable light, while excluding independent candidates by any means necessary. Their mission statement isn't worded quite that way, but that's the general idea.  

Twenty eight years later, not much has changed.   Last week the commission announced that it had sent debate invitations to the Republican and Democratic candidates for president and vice president.  The Libertarian candidates, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld were excluded.  This despite the Libertarian Party being the third largest party in the United States.  Despite them being on the ballot in all fifty states.  Despite their consistently polling around 10% in national polls and in the high teens in many individual state polls.  Despite the fact that, six former governors, numerous editorial boards and 62% of regular Americans wanted them in the debates.  And most importantly, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are arguably the least appealing and most polarizing choices for president this country has ever known.

A large plurality of Americans would chew off their right foot to escape voting for one of these two candidates.  (The polling on this might have asked a somewhat subtler question, but you get my point.)  

The most recent Pew Research data puts the percentage of voters identifying as independent at 39% and growing, exceeding the numbers of both Republicans and Democrats.  The Republicans will be represented on the debate stage.  The Democrats will be represented on the debate stage.  Who will be representing those independents?  Nobody.  If there was ever a year for the Commission on Presidential Debates to offer more choices, this is it.  Thanks CPD.  Thanks for nothing!  It's time to bring back integrity and fairness to the debate process.  It's time to bring back the League of Women Voters. #LetGaryDebate.

Monday, September 19, 2016

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day

"When robbery is done in open daylight by sanction of the law, as it is done today, then any act of honor or restitution has to be hidden underground." -
Ragnar Danneskjold   (From Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand)

Now that's how you talk like a pirate!

Bill Weld Missed an Opportunity

Carl Bernstein

Bill Weld

In a response to some desperate speculation by Carl Bernstein that Bill Weld was preparing to withdraw as Gary Johnson's VP candidate, Governer Weld responded in a press release:

 "I strongly believe that our Libertarian ticket of two former two-term Governors, fiscally responsible and socially inclusive, is the best bet for America in this year’s election. Gary Johnson and I will campaign with all our strength to make that case to the American people from now until November 8th. Under no circumstances will our energies be diverted from our goal of winning the election and serving our country."

I think the Johnson/Weld campaign missed a great PR opportunity with this one. They should have taken a page out of Donald Trump's book. On Friday, Trump invited journalists to his new hotel in DC to honor Medal of Honor winners who were supporting him. The media had an understanding that Trump would be making a statement renouncing his birther position. Lots of media showed up, and apparently many networks carried the entire event live. Trump waited for the last two minutes of the event, made his thirty second declarative statement that the president was born in the United States, and walked away from the podium. The media got suckered into a half hour or so of free live airtime for Trump, and Trump captured the whole weekend news cycle. And to add insult to injury, he got to plug his new hotel.

Bill Weld should have announced to the media that he was calling a press conference to make a significant announcement in response to the speculation that he would be dropping out of the race. He should have further announced that Governor Johnson would NOT be present. Staff should be evasive, or act perplexed when asked by journalists the substance of the remarks. They should even sound a little worried or depressed when responding to questions. Maybe they could even stage the event outside of the DNC headquarters in Washington or Hillary headquarters in New York City, but that might a step too far.

Weld should show up, and then take a page out of James Comey's book. Remember, FBI director Comey spoke for twenty minutes about the results of the FBI's email investigation of Hillary Clinton and all the things Hillary had done wrong. It was covered live by the media and thousands of people like me listened attentively to every word to try to tease out the ultimate decision. Just as we were all convinced that the speech would end with Comey announcing his recommendation to prosecute, Comey does an about face Emily Litella like "Never Mind" moment and announces no charges will be recommended.

Weld should have done the same thing. He could have spent thirty minutes teaching America about everything Libertarianism has to offer. Every two minutes or so, he could change topics and lament the difficulties of running third party, how the Debate Commission rules obstruct access to the public, etc., etc. He could even pepper the speech with some fond memory of Hillary from the Watergate investigation days. (He knew her back then, and has expressed some admiration for her youthful enthusiasm or some such nonsense) Then back to why it's wonderful to be a libertarian, and what a libertarian administration could accomplish. Then back to the dark side again. How Trump would be a dark stain on American politics forever and ever Amen. The tone and structure of the speech should make it clear that he is giving up on a dream and is about to announce he's quitting.

He should then conclude with a review of the speculation that he was preparing to withdraw from the race. And just as everyone is anticipating that he is about to announce he's out, he changes up the whole thing. No way he's quitting. Most wonderful opportunity of his life. Win or lose, the proudest moment of his political career. Gary Johnson is the most honest, sincere, and transformative politician he has ever worked with. Carl Bernstein must the one taking too many tokes. Where could he possibly have come up with such an outrageous notion that Weld would quit? And where does he get off speaking so arrogantly and dismissively about Gary Johnson and all Libertarians? Is Bernstein actively shilling for the Hillary campaign? Are they really that desperate and conniving?
And this could have all happened on live TV. For days folks would be talking about Libertarians. Some might recognize the subtle deception in the set up for the event, but millions would be celebrating how those wily Libertarians, those Davids in a sea of Goliaths, had punked the media. Beat them at their own game. Used them as a tool to spread the message instead of an obstacle to access. And millions might just learn who the Libertarians are, and that they have another choice. A better choice.

I could write that speech. I would LOVE to write that speech. Maybe it's not too late. Governor Weld, are you listening? Message me. Let's talk.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

So, Our Dog Died Yesterday

So, our dog died yesterday. Our faithful companion Khaki left us Monday morning. This started out as a short piece for me to collect my thoughts and emotions on the event, but before I knew it, I realized I was writing a eulogy for a dog! I've seen Facebook posts in the past from friends who've lost pets, and you can tell by the posts and the replies to those posts, that my grief is a sentiment that is felt by millions of animal lovers every day. So feel free to read this as a eulogy to your absent pet. I hope it makes you smile in fond remembrance of a furry friend that you still hold dear. 


There is nothing on this earth purer or more beautiful than the soul of a dog. 


I have my favorite breeds, of course, but even the ones I can't imagine ever choosing for myself have that special something that makes them a dog. I often remind myself that no matter how plain, how ridiculous looking or how yappy someone else's dog may be, deep inside that little beast is still the soul of a dog, so of course they are loved. We love our dogs. We can't help ourselves. We call them dumb animals, but that's not true. Well sometimes it is, but often, that just adds to their charm. Each one has a complex personality known only to those who have loved them for years and taken the time to appreciate all there is inside. And often, we've watched that personality evolve as they have grown up in our families, just as if they were our children. Except to their credit, dogs hold on to that childlike innocence throughout their entire lifetime. If only our real children were so generous, but I guess they compensate for that by giving us grandchildren. That innocence and purity of soul gives dogs a kind of superpower. You can often learn a lot about people by how they feel about dogs. And finally of course, dogs have their secret weapon. They offer us unconditional love. Where else do they sell that? I recall the meme, “I'm trying to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.” 


So what has become of our darling boy Khaki? I don't believe in God, but I believe in heaven. I am not a Believer, but I believe Khaki has gone to heaven to join our other dog Bailey. Bailey was already part of our family when Khaki joined us 15 years ago, and she's been gone for some time now. I believe they are in heaven together now because that is what I choose to believe. It gives me comfort to believe that, so I have simply decided to believe it. I'll tell the girls at work he's in heaven. I'll tell the 4 year old and the 6 year old that occasionally visit that he is in heaven. I'll tell my wife who is a Believer and my son who is not, that Khaki is in heaven. I don't strictly Believe this explanation, but I do joyously embrace it as my image of heaven. Heaven, for me, is not a place in the sky where God lives. Heaven, for me is a place in my memory where all the people I have ever loved live. They live there with all the dogs I have ever loved. Oh, and I almost forgot Kittyman. Turns out there's one cat in heaven. Bailey and Khaki will just have to deal with it. 


When we knew Khaki's time was short on this earth, we called Erin in Boston. Khaki was more her dog than anyone else's. She was in middle school when we got him, and she was the one who chose him at the shelter. Erin decided to come home. That might surprise some of you. Others, not so much. As we drove home from the airport yesterday, Erin was picturing Khaki's heaven as she saw it. Bailey will rush to greet him and show him all the cool stuff in heaven. “There's fences to jump, and muddy water we can play in again, and the best news is you never have to get a bath afterwards. Oh, and all the gluten you can eat without the skin rash!” 


 Whenever Erin comes home to visit, we have a tradition in the McVay household. Erin coined a term for it. She calls it Margarita Fiesta. We typically spend an hour or so on the evening of her arrival sitting down over margaritas, guacamole and chips to catch up on each others' news. Inevitably, a chip would fall on the floor, to Khaki's delighted surprise. At first it was an accident, but as time went on, it became part of the tradition. We had our Margarita Fiesta last night, and last night we spent the time exchanging Khaki stories. How his ears made him look a lot like Yoda. How Erin would always call him Sweet Boy, while I would call him “Little Boy”, and Mary Pat would call him “Big Boy, and how for some reason, those last two names never evoked any sort of cognitive dissonance on our part. I thought of how bad his breath could be at times, but how wonderful his fur always smelled to me. How if ever Erin would wrestle or rough house on the floor with anyone whether dog or human, Khaki would come to her rescue but oddly enough always express his concern by nipping at her, and not her faux adversary. How Khaki was the family lifeguard. Be careful splashing too vigorously in the pool or Khaki would jump in and rush to your rescue in a frenzied dog paddle, claws first. Discerning swimmers quickly learned to straight arm their approaching rescuer and gently redirect him toward the pool steps. Trust me. No one was ever grateful for a rescue by the Khakster. And true to the Margarita Fiesta tradition, thanks to Erin's “clumsiness”, a chip hit the floor last night for the little boy. So Khaki, I hope you appreciate this. You didn't just get a eulogy, you got a wake too. 


Khaki was spared a final a trip to the vet. And if you've ever been in that situation, you know that this means that we were spared a final trip to the vet as well. We had planned one for yesterday after Erin's arrival, but circumstances intervened. I'm glad they did. When you have an older pet, at first you want to put off as long as possible that day when they are no longer there to greet you at the door. But paradoxically, after a while, you stop praying it will never happen and start praying that it will happen soon, while life is good, and before they begin to suffer. Khaki got lucky, and so did we. 


 In the end Khaki died as Erin and I were driving home from the airport. A bit sad for us, but a sadness outweighed by the circumstances of his death. Khaki died at home lying by the side of our bed where he often slept. Mary Pat was with him, petting him and telling him what a good boy he was. Khaki has been deaf as a post for several years now, but we think his eyesight remained pretty good. I'm convinced that even if he couldn't hear the words “Good Boy”, he'd heard and seen them spoken so often in the past that he could probably lip read them. Good Boy and a loving touch were the last things Khaki experienced in his life with us. I hope I am so lucky when my time comes. I'd said my goodbye the night before. I lay beside him for an hour or so just petting him. At one point I kissed the top of his head and smelled his fur. I touched the tip of my nose to his, and, ever so briefly, he licked the tip of my nose. I will choose to let those be my last memories of my little boy.