Tag Archives: Politics

Let me tell you something about the midterm elections

We’re all supposed to vote a week from Tuesday. And that’s great, just really terrific. But what a tease, an election with nothing at stake. I can’t wait until these phony elections are over, so we can start doing some serious politicking two years from now. Hell yeah, I’m talking presidential elections. They’re like the Olympics, or the World Cup, only they last for like a year and a half, and instead of focusing all of our energies toward faraway countries in a spirit of mostly benign sports competition, we get to wage personal warfare against friends, family, and strangers alike.


I’m serious, I’m talking all out war. It starts innocently enough. Sure, at this point in time we only have an idea about some of the men and women thinking about how they potentially might want to start considering setting up an exploratory committee to test the waters regarding the viability of a book tour to measure a theoretical dropping of the hat into the presidential contest. But in the coming months, once this midterm nonsense is out of the way, we’re going to start hearing from all sorts of people who think they have what it takes.

They’re going to start scheduling debates on both sides of the political spectrum, and sure, you’ll see the big names, I’m sure Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie will be standing out front. But there’s also going to be like all of these governors and senators and other random jokers that you’ve never heard of before.

And they’re all going to dig deep and start piling on the front-runners. It’s going to be a classic race to the bottom, with everyone trying to out-America one another, only talking about the most contentious of popular talking points: abortion, guns, taxes, Christmas.

By the time they narrow down the playing field, everyone paying attention is going to be foaming at the mouth, convinced that this is the year that the fate of our nation will be irreparably sealed. And even though every election comes down to these so-called “independent voters,” everybody already has their minds made up. Right now, right this second, even though nobody is officially in the race, I promise you that everyone knows exactly who they’re going to vote for come 2016.

Sure, everything looks calm now, but get ready, because this time next year, you’ll go on the Internet, you’ll log onto Facebook, and everyone you know is going to be putting up recycled headlines and overblown mischaracterizations about the other side. People you haven’t spoken to in years will be popping up on your news feed giving the world their expert two cents on why everything that you believe in shows that you’re an idiot.

I’m sure I’ll be doing it too. Right now I’m acting like I’m above all of this stuff, and sure, maybe I’ll pay some lip service to being respectful and keeping my opinions to myself, but there are always at least a few points during every campaign cycle where everybody gets caught up, a particular controversy or a quote taken totally out of context, and I’ll dive in, guns blazing, family lines forgotten, friendship irreparably destroyed.

And then the election will be over and nothing is going to change at all. Because look at what we’re dealing with today, Ebola, celebrity plastic surgery, none of this stuff has anything to do with politics. But whatever, like I said, it’s easy to talk like I’m above the fray when there’s nothing else going on. Midterm elections are boring. Nobody ever goes out to vote, and you wind up with only the most cranky senior citizens dictating who goes to Congress. I’m done ranting. If you need me, I’ll be outside, washing my car, polishing my bumper to get it ready for all of those inflammatory 2016 bumper stickers, hopefully I’ll get to really piss off some complete stranger behind me paying five bucks a gallon at the gas station.

I’m with you, sir

Sir, I just wanted to let you know that, despite all of the growing doubts about your ability to lead this company, I’m still with you, you’ve still got my support. And so, going forward, I hope you don’t feel like everyone’s turned on you, that the vote of no confidence is unanimous. Because regardless of how everyone else voted, you’ll always have my vote, a vote of yes confidence.

And when the board meets later today to decide your fate, know that it’s against my strongest objections. I object to the fact that they’re meeting in the first place. We don’t need a board. We’ve got you, the best boss this company has ever seen. Sure profits have tanked lately, but there’s always going to be a period of loss. We’re cutting out the crap, right? Isn’t that what you said? So it’s just a matter of time before things turn around.

If they do throw you out, and things do get better, that’ll be exactly how you saw it coming, loss, then gain. But the board, the rest of staff, everyone’s so short-sighted. A few misguided ethics inquiries and it’s off with the king’s head. Well I want to you let you know that, whatever future successes this company might achieve, and whoever happens to be leading the helm to take credit for those future successes, I won’t be sticking around to add on to the pile of false praise.

No, because if they kick you out, I’m going with you. That’s if they kick you out. The board hasn’t even met yet, and so, who knows, right? Maybe they’ll all have some eleventh hour sense knocked into them. True, it does seem more and more unlikely that anything is going to sway the tide of popular opinion. But one has to hope.

Still, like I said, if that hope winds up not bearing any fruit, I’ll be by your side. Wherever you wind up next, know that you’ve got my unconditional support. Even if that means no pay for a while. Even if it’s just you at your house getting up in the morning and trying out a next move. I’ll make you breakfast. I’ll help you look for a new job, for a new company to lead.

Remember that speech you gave at last year’s quarterly? You said something about, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That was really inspirational. And I’ve kept that with me, not knowing exactly when I’d get to actually utilize such wisdom. But the moment is now. We are tough, and we’re going to get going. Together. Like if you’re pacing back in forth in your living room, trying to figure out how you’re going to get back in the game, I’ll have a pot of coffee going, so when you want a fresh cup, you’re not even going to have to ask, you won’t even have to stop pacing, you’ll just get to the natural end of your stride and there it’ll be.

And when you do make it back to the top, assuming that the board does vote you out today, and again, I’m not hoping that’s what’s going to happen, nor is it a certainty, I just feel like we should be ready for anything. Because if the office chatter is backed by anything substantial, it only makes sense that we brace ourselves for all options. But when you are back on top, you’ll have me right by your side. You won’t have to lower yourself to your opponents, sinking to their level, getting in their faces, pointing your finger at them and saying, “Hmph. I told you so.” No, I’ll be the one to do that for you.

So keep that chin up, boss. For the next four hours or so, you’re still the one in charge around here. Don’t forget it. Keep that chin up. Tell that guy over there to stop standing around by the water cooler and get back to work. There’s still time to get a few office wide memos in circulation, I could help put everything together.

And just remember, whatever happens, I’m with you all the way. My name? It’s Johnson. I work on four. Remember? I met you a few months ago at the spring benefit? We talked about the chicken, how dry it was? My hair was a little longer, not that much longer, but I just got a haircut the other day? Our wives had the same Chanel clutch? I passed you the salt shaker? Remember? Nothing?

I’m in a New York State of State

New York is the greatest city on Earth, that’s just a fact. And everybody knows it. Maybe there exist other great cities equal or superior to New York somewhere else in the universe, maybe on some futuristic planet, galaxies away, but I have no idea, I have no way of knowing if that’s true, and to be perfectly honest, I doubt it. Ask anybody from any other city, “Hey, you, what’s your favorite city?” don’t even bother sticking around to let them answer, because they’re going to say New York. You add up all of the other cities in the world, they don’t even come close to being one percent as great as the shittiest of city blocks in New York.

new york state flag

Like I said, everybody already knows this stuff, so I’m not going to spend any more time spelling it out. What a lot of people don’t know is that New York also happens to be the greatest state that has ever existed in this, or any other country. Yes, that includes provinces or whatever it is that other countries call their states. New York State is the greatest state there is.

And, yes, a lot of New York State’s greatness is due to the fact that our greatest city is New York City. So, right, that already gives New York State a ridiculous advantage. But there’s more than just NYC. There’s Albany, that’s our capital. And if you’re like me, you might be thinking to yourself, Albany? Really? Like maybe you’ve had to drive through or past Albany once, and you might have had to go to bathroom really bad and, yeah, you were running a little low on gas, but you just couldn’t get yourself to spend another minute there, that hopefully you’d have enough fuel to make it to Schenectady.

But therein lies Albany’s, and thus New York State’s, greatness. You see, I always look at inferior states, states like Massachusetts, or Georgia, when they were planning out their state hundreds of years ago, some genius legislator or state planner had the bright idea, “Hey guys, let’s make our biggest city the capital!” And that’s what you call putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Here in New York, we took all of the politics, all of the grimy, dirty business of state government, and we put it far away from our (and the world’s) greatest city. Let’s let New York be New York, (I’m talking about the city) and we’ll let the state legislators and assemblymen fight amongst themselves up in Albany. Because let’s face it, somebody’s got to gerrymander districts and dole out liquor licenses. Why pollute such a great, great city with such petty nonsense when we can remove it to somewhere two or three hours away?

New York State has so much more than just New York City. Like Niagara Falls. Or half of it anyway, I’m not sure what the Niagara Falls sharing agreement is with Canada. But we’ve got a border with Canada. We’ve got some other cities too, like Buffalo, and Rochester, and Binghamton. I’ve never been to Rochester or Binghamton, but Buffalo is awesome. Instead of Taco Bell, they have this chain called Mighty Taco. I don’t think they have Doritos Locos Tacos though.

And do you know what our state motto is? Excelsior! How cool is that? Do you know what excelsior means? It means, “Yes!” It means, “Let’s do it!” It means “We’re number one!” It means all of these things and more, basically it’s just a blanket word used to express any positive sentiment. I think about other states and their state mottos, and to be honest here, I don’t think I know any of them off of the top of my head. Wait, I just remembered, “Live free or die,” from what, New Hampshire? Vermont? It’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but it just doesn’t pack the same wallop as “Excelsior!”

I’m trying to think if I know of any other state mottos, but I think that’s it. Isn’t one of them like, “A great place to live!” or something like that? Like Maine? I have no idea. I’m getting bored just trying to think about all of these other states. More New York State. It’s the greatest. We’ve got like a hundred sports teams. We say hero instead of sub or hoagie. Whenever I go out of state and I order a sandwich, I always make it a point to say hero, and if somebody behind me orders a sub, I do a really dramatic laugh, like I point in their face, and if they say, “What the hell?” I’ll be like, “Ha, you called it a sub.”

It’s just the best, New York State. We’ve got the greatest city in the world housed inside the greatest state in the world located in the greatest region of the country, that country being the best country on the planet. Again, maybe there are some other cool planets out there, but based on the other planets that I know of, like Saturn or Mercury, Earth is definitely the absolute best.


Election 2012: The Recap

The election is over. I spent that night watching TV, and the results came in so fast that I almost missed the announcement. I had read all of these articles the day before saying how that, under certain circumstances, we might not have had a clear victor until mid December. So when all of the networks started calling it before 11pm, it was kind of surprising.

I wonder what it must have felt like for Mitt Romney, a guy who has been campaigning for President since 2006 really. Even the day of the election, he’s out there, holding rallies, firing up supporters. So was Obama. Up until the very end, everyone said it was anybody’s game, and so I guess each side had a legitimate hope that they could win. But as Pennsylvania went for the President and then all of the other swing states followed suit, and then NBC starts calling it and eventually Fox News does the same, I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like for Romney, for his team.

To get so close, only to be denied right at the very end. I can’t see how these guys can go out in front of their crowds and make concession speeches. How do you hold your head up like that? I’d want to just crawl away somewhere and disappear. And you have to get on the phone and call up your opponent, the guy who you’ve been trading barbs with for the past year, lobbing insults across the airways.

And then what’s the next day like? To all of the sudden have a campaign go from running at full capacity to the very next day just shutting down? It’s not just like losing your job. It’s like being the head of a business that overnight just goes belly up, dead in its tracks.

I can’t stand the gloating on Facebook, which is super hypocritical, because I’m right on the frontlines of it. I’m like a lieutenant, a Facebook amateur political commentary lieutenant. But I hate it. I hate it when I see comments from the other side, the opposing political viewpoint. A part of me just says, OK Rob, just take a deep breath and let it go. Just ignore it. Don’t feel like you have to post something of your own. It’s going to be a very fleeting sense of satisfaction at best.

Sometimes I’ll listen to my own advice. Other times I can’t help myself. I’ll throw something out there, something partisan, something divisive. Whatever, I already said it was stupid. But it was all of these small little comments, these occasional back-and-forths that, over time, they built up into something that made me feel like I had a personally vested interest in who won the campaign. And this was all very outside of the issues, outside of politics. A bigger part of it came down to, I didn’t want to have to go on to Facebook and see all the gloating from the other side if Romney won. It would have eaten at me from inside.

I kind of know how it felt. During the 2004 election, the first one that I could vote for, I was positive leading up to voting day that John Kerry was going to destroy George W. Bush. But what I felt as I watched that night unfold on TV, as the results came in a way that I hadn’t anticipated, that sinking feeling, staring at the screen, hoping for some “Breaking News” update that would tell me it was all a big joke. And then afterwards I would watch these political commentators and these smug right wing guys in suits would say stuff like, “Well, it’s evident that America is a fairly conservative country.” And I just sat there, boiling with impotent rage, unable to even properly let out the frustration that was building up inside. But why? Why was I angry? Was my life going to be that fundamentally different than it was before?

During this whole election season I had the same fear that it might happen again. And when it didn’t, I experienced a very hollow but palpable sense of elation. It’s over. I didn’t have to face a reality that I had not properly thought out. But the first thing I did was log onto Facebook and write “Four! More! Years!” a big middle finger to all of my online friends who happen to have a different way of looking at things. I felt great for like ten minutes, but then I felt terrible, realizing that I’m no better than everything I hate. I tried writing something sincere afterwards, talking about moving forward, of not letting ourselves get carried away by national politics, but it was too late. I could imagine a Republican doing the exact same thing and all I would feel would be a strong bitterness for some cheesy, magnanimous sore-winning.

And it’s all going to come back someday. Democrats can’t be in charge forever. That sense of loss, of being let down, of feeling politically marginalized, it’s all waiting for me four, eight, twelve years from now. It’s important, politics, but it’s all so silly. I get so fired up over people I’ve never met, will never talk to, about a system that I’m only very marginally a part of, policies and legislation that depend very little on my opinion or point of view. And I use it all as ammunition to make people that I’m close to feel inferior, not as smart as me, why can’t you see things like I see them? So yeah, I’m glad it’s all over. And I hope the next round of elections might just be a little farther away than the ones we just had.

President of the end of the world

I’m running through a little thought experiment in my head. I always try to do thought experiments, but I always wind up getting stuck on the definition of a thought experiment. I know that Einstein could sit there in his study and just think up crazy scenarios in his brain, and they’d actually run and he’d gain serious wisdom and insight out of them. Me, I can’t really keep things in my head for too long, like images or numbers. It’s always much easier if I have some paper, a pen, something to write everything down and to look at.

But I was thinking about an experiment, let’s call it a situation, let’s say we discover that a gigantic asteroid is on a collision course with the earth, and that it’s scheduled to hit twenty years from now. There’s nothing we can do. We’re just completely outmatched. It’s going to be a guaranteed collision, guaranteed mass extinction, nothing left.

So let’s say that this information goes public. My question is, what would happen with presidential politics? Twenty years is long enough for a number of scenarios. We could have two two-term presidents, four one-term presidents. What would be their pitch to the American public? How do you get elected President of the end of the world?

I’m sure that we’d find some way to divide ourselves into teams of two. And you just know that there would be people willing to run. You might even think that there would be even more than just your usual band of egomaniacs and snake oil salesman, because an issue like the end of the world has so much divisive potential.

Just take the issue. Will the world end in twenty years? All of the scientists are saying yes. They’re the ones that alerted us in the first place. It’s crazy to think that everybody would listen to the scientists. Can you imagine if both parties of a presidential race came out on a serious subject and agreed? But no, they’re always too scared that if they speak the truth, the other one will point his or her finger and call it all nonsense.

That was a little confusing. I just think that we’re so divided today, that if something huge like World War II came around, nothing would get done, because both parties would be too scared to make a move, to disrupt the status quo. Look at the big issues of the day. We’re in severe need of some modern gun control laws. We have global warming to deal with, which is obviously a real problem. But what are both parties talking about? They’re talking about nothing. Because the first person who goes out against what’s normal, the other guy will be able to point his finger and call the other side un-American.

OK, I’m kind of veering off course into an unexpected political rant here, but that’s OK, I’m just going to go with it and hope it all ties in together at the end. You’d be surprised at how often that works, honestly. Anyway, the asteroid is coming. Finally, under serious pressure from the scientific community to at least acknowledge the fact that we’re all about to get blown up, one of the presidential contenders gets up on stage and offers a plan of how we’re going to spend our last two decades. Let’s try and see if we can’t abolish war, poverty. Let’s see if we can’t feed everybody, tend to all of the sick. Let’s make these last twenty years twenty of the best years in human history.

And the other guy would point his finger and laugh. He’d say, “Listen to this clown. We’re not going to die. We’re not going to get hit by that asteroid. We’re Americans. We’re the greatest country in the world. Nothing can stop the human spirit. Nothing can stop us. We just have to believe. We just need faith.”

And that would be it. And so the original guy would come back and say, “You know what, I was just kidding. I don’t believe we’re going to get hit either. Just elect me President. I really want to be President.”

And that would be it. President of the end of the world. I really got off track here. I had originally wanted to make a funny story about two guys campaigning a really crazy campaign to be president during the earth’s final days. But then I realized that all of those threatening stuff and political nonsense sounded a little too true to be made up. And then I started just writing amateur political commentary. And now here is this last paragraph, I’m really just writing for the sake of typing words, giving a terrible explanation as to how and why we’ve wound up at this sentence. And I think I’ve already done this exact ending to a rambling blog post like maybe two or three times already. But I’m not even going to try to find which ones I’m talking about, because there are so many, and that would take forever.