Democratic Debate in New Hampshire

The mariner is pleased with the debate between Bernie and Hillary. For the first time in any 2016 presidential debate, republican or democrat, the voter was given a clear view of the personality and talents each candidate will bring to the office of President in 2016.

The heart of each candidate, that is, their desire to deliver to the electorate what is most needed by that electorate, is identical. Both are champions of human need, economic reform, and what’s best for the forgotten majority.

For the first time, the agenda of each candidate became clear. Bernie intends to fix the systemic issues that have led to oligarchy. Banks, Corporations, tax reform, bribery and collusion in the election process, and a plan to attack gerrymandering, are at the top of Bernie’s list. By fixing the political abuses, proper legislation and discretionary funding will right themselves and deliver programs to the people. However, Bernie will be prone to compromise when it comes to program specifics.

Hillary intends to develop programs first. She will attack current legislation that defeats the spirit of discretionary funding. Hillary will prioritize human rights, expand education funding, and reduce medical costs – but not through single payer. By fixing specific programs, the Ship of State trims its sails more in line with public interest. However, Hillary will be prone to compromise when it comes to fixing the oligarchy.

If the voter is interested in the programs of government, then Hillary sounds more appealing. If the voter is interested in the policies of governance, then Bernie sounds more appealing. The mariner is reminded of one of his father’s pop psychology tools: Bernie is a why-how person while Hillary is a how-what person1. That being the case, there are far more how-what folks in the population than why-how. For no other reason than the difference between their personalities, Hillary may fare better once the primaries leave liberal states and head into the prairie.

On such subliminal attributes, political success rises and falls.


1For more detail on Pop’s Psychology, see post from December 21, 2015.

The Congress has ninety days to vote for or against a fast track of the TPP trade agreement. Mariner is firmly opposed to fast track and prefers that the TPP be examined by Congress – that’s as close as citizen review is possible. Note that the majority of presidential candidates, including both democrats, are opposed to the trade agreement. For a good, clear, and easy read about the TPP, see:

President Obama is in favor of the TPP because, in his opinion, the TPP makes the United States a central player in future Asian economics, dampening the future influence of China. All well and good – but at what price to the common citizen? Corporations will have unfettered control of profits, taxes, human rights, and the future wellbeing of nine nations.

Ancient Mariner


The Morning Line – February 3 2016

Here’s the morning line out of Vegas:

Hillary Clinton 10/11 91%
Marco Rubio 3/1 33%
Donald Trump 7/1 14%
Bernie Sanders 8/1 12%
Ted Cruz 16/1 6%
Jeb Bush 50/1 2%
Michael Bloomberg 50/1 2%
Joe Biden 80/1 1.25%
Chris Christie 100/1 1%
John Kasich 200/1 ½%
Ben Carson 700/1 1/10 of Even less than less than 1%
Carly Fiorina 800/1 About the size of a human skin cell
Rand Paul 999/1 infinitesimal
Martin OMalley 250/1 Suspended campaign
Rick Santorum 999/1 Suspended campaign
Mike Huckabee 2000/1 Suspended campaign

Hillary held the same odds as always; interestingly, one bookie has taken bets for Hillary NOT to win the 2016 election at even odds. The biggest positive shift was in favor of Marco who jumped from 10/1 to 3/1, moving from fourth place to second. The biggest negative shift was Donald who dropped from 5/6 to 7/1 moving to third place. Ted continues to be unpopular with the betting crowd, staying in fifth place despite his win in Iowa; odds dropped from 12/1 to 16/1. Bernie held his odds but dropped one spot to fourth.

As to candidates with longer odds, most betting houses have stopped posting a morning line; the listed odds were taken from just two bookies.


Ancient Mariner

At the Caucus

About 100 folks attended the Democratic Caucus in mariner’s home town. Two attendees stood in Martin O’Malley’s corner – mariner and his wife. It was only a few moments before we were asked to move to the ‘undecided’ table because Martin did not have enough votes to meet the minimum 15% required to be a sustainable candidate.

But we weren’t undecided. No matter, we had to abandon our candidate and choose another one. The Iowa Democratic Caucus, unlike the town republicans, and for that matter, the rest of the caucuses and primaries across the nation, has the right to deny one’s vote as valid. Clearly, this winnowing procedure is designed to glean “probable” winners from others who, at the first caucus, have yet to generate sufficient interest from the voters.

The mariner respects the interaction and debate fostered by the Iowa caucus process. Further, the caucus forces big-time candidates to meet local voters face to face, eat barbecued chicken, let the voters touch them and ask questions no politician will answer directly. In too many jurisdictions around the United States, the primary process is sterile, mechanical and allows no moment for the voter to see or listen to a real-life candidate.

The mariner has concern that the very first ‘democratic’ primary in the national election process tosses out legitimate candidates any of which may become a dark horse later in the season. He especially is concerned that the democratic party has the right to coerce a voter to cancel their preferred vote and select another candidate – shades of Boss Tweed! True, one could be obstinate and refuse to change their vote but one foregoes representation in the caucus process.

Despite the romantic grandeur cast over Iowa’s unique primary process, the process is outdated. For months ahead, sophomoric news media derails any legitimate attempt to compare candidates on a level playing field. Consider the dominance of Donald on news broadcasts, gleaning more than 100 minutes of free air time compared to virtually none for any of a half-dozen legitimate politicians. Further, so much money is available to candidates that they can continue to campaign despite their irrelevance. Consider Jeb – then consider O’Malley who had to suspend his campaign with only $175,000 left in campaign funds. Yet, Jeb has spent and still has coffers that will carry him to the Convention with half the voter percentage that O’Malley has.

Seasoned attendees to the Iowa Caucus have stories to tell about the dissolution of friendships because open debate among voters is allowed and, if nothing else, one can see who chose which candidate. Even at this caucus, the mariner must patch the hard feelings of a good friend because he did not stand for the appropriate candidate.

All things considered, mariner is most troubled that one person, one vote does not prevail. What makes the Iowa democratic party any different than race discrimination in Alabama and Mississippi? They, too, prevent one from having one’s voice heard at the ballot box; those states just do it differently.

Ancient Mariner

Amos Comments on the Candidates

The primary season will begin in the mariner’s state in February. He sat with Amos to hear his opinions about the candidates. The reader must remember that Amos is the personification of the prophet Amos in the Old Testament – not so much interested in self aggrandizement but more concerned that many do not take time to understand their role and responsibility in God’s world. Amos would say all of us depend too much on comforting habits and yield to distractions too easily.

Greetings, Amos. The mariner wants to know your one-sentence opinions about the candidates running for President. First, let’s look at the republican field:

Ben Carson. If he doesn’t talk faster, he’ll have a lot of pocket vetoes.

Donald Trump. Reminds me of Jackson who rode his horse into the white house and eliminated the Federal Reserve.

Ted Cruz. He’s from Canada. That must count for something.

Chris Christie. He has more experience than Donald Trump.

Marco Rubio. He’s Cuban. That must count for something.

Jeb Bush. He’s a Bush. That must count for something. On the other hand, he’s a Bush.

Carly Fiorina. She watches too many movies.

Jim Gilmore. He’s from Virginia. He probably knows Carly.

Lindsey Graham. A romantic conservative. That’s rare.

Mike Huckabee. He’s on a book tour. It’s a shrewd move to run for president at the same time.

Bobby Jindal. He’s no Earl Long. Say, have you met Blaze Starr? I have.

John Kasich. He’s a perfect Governor for Ohio’s political schizophrenia – learned how to say two different things at the same time.

Rand Paul. I remember when his daddy Ron posited that the US could wipe out its debt by offering tax incentives to corporations for increased business then receive more than the rebate back in taxes over ten years. States still play that game and lose every time.

George Pataki. Don’t know him.

Amos, you’ve shed new light on the campaign. Thank you. Let’s turn to the democratic candidates:

Hillary Clinton. She (and her husband) should have written Donald’s book, “The Art of the Deal.” It’s interesting that the electorate doesn’t trust the Clintons; they can achieve progress where others can’t – for a price, of course.

Bernie Sanders. He’s a fabulous preacher. Not sure about being President.

Martin O’Malley. He’s from Maryland. That is good for something!

Ancient Mariner

Cheap Drives Out Quality

When the mariner was sixteen, he finished his high school education at night. He took an economics class that provided him several insights into the motives of society and individuals. He was fortunate to have an instructor that was willing to talk cultural ramifications as well as economic ones. One of the insights he gained from that economics class is that there is an unbreakable rule that cheap value will displace quality value in every case.
A simple example is the toy fire engine. In the mariner’s childhood, the fire engine was made of steel with realistic features, rubber tires, and paint that included firehouse logo, four small painted firemen and other finely traced detail. His children did not have a steel fire engine; they had a plastic, mold-stamped one with little attention to the aura of a real fire engine. There were no finely painted firemen. Plastic drove out steel. It was less expensive – at the cost of quality, detail, permanence, and material.
Reducing cost through new inventions, materials and processes is, largely, a good thing. Even in its best light, however, quality is minimized. One may say that new technology can produce better results. For example, an mp3 song is better than a 78 record – both in quality of sound and in production. The price paid for this efficient production is not in the quality of the sound but in the value of the recording as a significant, endearing purchase. At 99¢ per song, it is easily discarded or lost in thousands of other songs collected because collecting is easy and inexpensive. Even a 45 rpm collection is more durable and more revered – if one still has a 45 turntable.
Turning to more important examples, the mariner wonders if the tea party is a cheaper version of the republican party. Intellectually, it is easy to replace complex, multifaceted issues with visceral, overly simplified but “feel good” reactions. The republican party has an ideological premise based on conservative, capitalistic ideals. Under Representative Boehner, the tea party has captured the republican party and drawn it away from legitimate dialogue with democrats into a paranoid and extremist advocacy which will not stand up against an organized, middle-of-the-road campaign by the democrats. True, gerrymandering and republican governors will offer resistance but the attendance at Bernie Sanders’s events plus the low key campaign of Clinton suggest that the tea party brings a poison pill to the republicans for the 2016 election.
The phenomenon of sixteen candidates in the republican presidential campaign also suggests that the republican party has lost its rudder, its sails and its compass. That a destructive candidate like Trump can turn the useless media into a circus rather than covering serious issues is more evidence that the republican principles have been replaced by a cheap sideshow. Turning a valued election process over to the Fox network is the final nail. Cheap has driven out quality.
Ancient Mariner