The Source of Hope

The depth of hope is dependent on the depth of its origin.

A recent article in Scientific American estimated that in the US,  there are about 60 million
people who claim to not be affiliated with any religion - most being atheists or agnostics.
That is somewhere around 20% of the population.  There are a number of people who are
happy about this growing group of faithless people, but I can’t be counted as one of them.

Many have wondered why I focus a lot on this topic.  Like everything else, there are a
number of reasons. However, this one is particularly personal to me.  I guess it is time to
share why that is. I am a Christian.  I have personal relationship with Christ.  I’m not just
throwing that out there; it is the driving force in my life.  It is the only reason I am here. Let
me explain.

First, some background: I had a normal, happy childhood.  I dabbled with church, but we
weren't really a church family. I did feel that God had a hold on me, although I really didn't
understand it.

When I was 15, I made an official commitment to God.  It really didn't seem to change me
much. I was always a pretty compliant kid.  It didn't turn my life around or anything. As a
matter of fact, I just put it on the back-burner and lived my teenage life.

Later, I went to college where I met a lot of different kinds of people with various beliefs
or lack thereof.  When I was a freshmen in the dorm, I met my first atheist. Rich was a guy
that lived on my dorm floor. He kind of freaked me out; I mean, how can someone just NOT
believe in God? Despite that difference, Rich and I became good friends.  We even talked
about being roommates. We also talked about religion, but neither one of us had much
influence on the other one in that vein. It wasn't a stumbling block, though. We got along

Through my undergraduate years, I wasn't exposed to much God stuff.  I lived in a fraternity
house where there were often activities that pastors wouldn't approve of.  In addition, the
university was a mix of views and offered a variety of exposures for a young guy learning
about the world.  I kind of slipped away from my beliefs and slipped into an exploration of
philosophy and other pursuits. I never proclaimed any changes in my beliefs and I now
presume that God had a hold on me through all my brain clouds.

When I graduated, I moved back home and enjoyed a number of months of unemployment
on my mom’s dime.  During this free time, I read and studied about God - and I studied a lot.
There were things unsettled about God as far as I was concerned and that needed to be
remedied. While some of the surface stuff was troubling, the spiritual stuff really started to
amaze me.  Through this process, the “personal relationship with Christ” really became a
thing. God had been with me during my exploration stage in college but seemed to be mostly
a silent observer, although I am sure he gave me nudges along the way that I didn't recognize.
However, now He was there for a real exchange.

Fast-forward a number of years. God was my partner in helping to bring up my nephews who
lived with me for a stretch.  He also had a huge hand in getting me into the occupation I have
now. It is an interesting story in of itself, but it will have to wait for another time.  

Through the years, God has given me pieces of information about friends, relationships, and
mostly myself.  He has sustained me when life, itself wasn't sustainable. He helped me through
my mother’s brain tumor ordeal and her disability.  It was His strength that kept my heart straight
as I took on the role of her primary caregiver.

When my wife and I divorced, it was one of the toughest things I could imagine going through.
All sorts of weapons attacked my psyche. The feeling of betrayal and abandonment took center
I even turned on God because I thought he was just as guilty as anyone. I believed (and still
believe) He led me to that relationship including the decision to get married. It seemed like a
cruel joke to me. However, I still resolved to trust God with the big picture, but admittedly, I
haven’t been completely the same since.

It wasn't too many years after that when I lost my mother.  It was a shock and a blow that
buckled my knees. My mom was the focal point of my life at that point.  Even though my
vision of a life with my wife and kids had slipped away, my mom gave me a reason to exist.
In losing her, not only did I lose my mother, I lost my purpose and the last person who made
it clear that I actually mattered in this world. She was my mom, my best friend, and my
dependent all rolled into one.  When we buried her, I didn't know what the point was anymore
for me.

I decided that I really didn't need God after that because my miserable life was the result of
trusting Him with it - a life of total abandonment without purpose.  I set out to wipe out that
part from my life and truthfully, I was ready to wipe life out altogether. I had never a suicidal
person. The thought of it seemed so foreign to me my entire life . . . until then.  All of the
sudden, it seemed like a reasonable idea. No purpose, no God, I was done.

However, through this despair and hopelessness stood God with “I will never leave you nor
forsake you.”

That experience gave new significance to the “Footprints in the Sand” poem that had always

been hanging on my mom’s bedroom wall. It was true.  It was put to the test and it was true.

This brings me back to today. People need God. They turn away from Him for all kinds of
reasons. Some think they are too smart to believe.  Others believe that they have no choice
but to NOT believe or they need proof. I understand that. Sometimes all that is part of the
journey to faith - it was for me.  I get it.

However. the one that infuriates me the most is when Christians link God to hate and
oppression. They do it unwittingly, I think, but it is so harmful.  I don’t blame people when
they refuse to entertain the existence of God because of that, because they see how
antithetical it is profess a loving God and then spit venom at his creation in His name.   

I get angry when I see people shoveling hate and trying to champion God with the same
breath. It is because that kind of mixed message makes a fraud out of God and those with
faith.  That kind of rhetoric that is often tied to politics infuriates me because I know God is
not a fraud. He saved my life. He gives me purpose. He gives me HOPE. He gives me
assurance that He really does love me and has a plan for my life - even when I feel that no
one else does or even cares. Because of God, there is no grave with my name on it next to
my mom’s today.  He is the ONLY reason for that, too - of that I am sure.

When I look at my life, it crushes me when I see that more and more people have abandoned
faith.  I am sure that decision has also contributed to people abandoning life itself. It almost
did for me.  Suicide rates have increased 28% in the US since 1999. Hopelessness will do that.
Does correlation mean causation?  Not necessarily, but I know one guy that was saved
because through it all, he didn't

abandon his faith. I know that for a fact.

What's Your Valentine's Day Theme Song?

It is that time.  Romance is brewing in the air thanks to the Hallmark Company.  Heart-shaped boxes full of mystery chocolate covered candy with stuffed teddy bears are all sitting on tables next to the vases of a dozens of red roses. The finer restaurants are packed and the poor saps that weren't smart enough to make an early reservation are sitting on the sidelines with their patient dates waiting for a gap in the crowd.  Yes, this is Valentine's Day, a marketing dream for the romance business.

Sure, I sound cynical.  That is the "cool" thing to do, isn't it?  However, we can take those lemon, commercial concepts and magically make the sweet tasting nectar known as red wine out of it.  You thought I was going to say lemonade, didn't you?  Who has lemonade on Valentine's Day?

If you get passed the profits, you can capitalize on the day, yourself, and allow it to be what retailers want you to see - a celebration of love.  And with great love celebrations, come great theme songs.  What is the theme song of your love life?

I am sure there are a lot of great stories out there.  Love lives with themes such as "Endless Love" or "Through the Years," and other great prom theme type songs.  Oh, how I would have loved to have claimed, "She Believes in Me" as my love theme.  Sadly, no.

It was almost a great and cheesy song for me, yessiree!  The most magical night that could have been a great forever story should have crescendoed at my college fraternity formal dance.   I worked hard to get the girl of my dreams to be my sweetheart.  It wasn't easy.  It came with a lot of bumps and bruises.  However, the elements miraculously came together and she announced that she would be honored to accompany me to my Rose Formal Dance

We talked a lot between the invitation and the dance.  I told her how I felt about her and that the look in her eyes when she looked at me, sometimes, revealed a promise of wonderful story for us.  I told her that it reminded me of the song, "Almost Paradise."  She gave me a nervous smile and I changed the subject.  A few weeks later, we were at the dance and we were having a great time.  Then, about halfway through the night, the DJ announced, "This song is for Jeff."  And so it was that "Almost Paradise" filled the room and with it almost all my fraternity brothers and their dates swayed to "our theme."   I bent over and said, "How about that!  This song is special to another Jeff in my fraternity."  She said, "It is you, silly, I had it played for you."  I was silly.  I was silly to think "Almost Paradise" was going to be my love theme for my life.

It's been years, and other loves have come and gone, even a wife - not without great effort from me to keep the embers of love to still warm my life.  So, it came to me this week, the song I would really need to claim as the theme song for my love life.  "Doing the Best that I Can," by Elvis Presley. The lyrics are uncannily a perfect fit.  If you aren't familiar with them, and you have any interest in this post, give it a listen.  You simply can't get the message from the title.

So, what's your theme song?

The Hallmark Life

The last of the Hallmark Christmas Movies have just ended.  For the sappy among us, they take us down a road of warm family and friends, a challenge, a Christmas miracle, a true love discovered, and a happy ending. 

It can be quite the wonderful experience, watching these feel good movies.  Do you ever have a Hallmark tale in your life?  I don't.  I am not sure other people do.  Perhaps there are exceptions that prove the rule, but sometimes rainbows show up after rains.  That doesn't mean we live on a planet  of constant rainbows.

Perhaps why the dreamers among us are so attracted to these movies is because we don't have stories like those in our own lives.  We live vicariously through the actors on the screen - not ever entertaining the thought that those actors leave the stage and return to their real lives absent of the magic they left on the sound stage.  They are just like us, just more visible - I'm pretty sure.

Why do these stories exist?  We don't live these stories. I think I just answered my own question.

People write these stories because they need them.  Sitting at their laptops, they  can control the narrative.  They want that for their lives so they make them come to life on page and screen.  We all go for the ride because we, too,
need them.

It is 2018 today.  Write your own Hallmark script this year and then LIVE IT!

Lost Our Step; Lost Our Way

The thought came to me today.  Maybe it is time to give up.  I no longer recognize the world I live in. This has been building up for some time but hit the crescendo today.

I was looking at Facebook . . . just scrolling. Most of it was hate.  Hate for Donald Trump, hate for religion, hate for people who think differently.  Just hate.  I am scrolling and in the background from the other room I hear "Landslide" from Stevie Nicks and the somber tones and her haunting delivery made the experience surreal.

What is it all for?  Why am I here?  To what end is all this hate pushing us.  We lost our way.

I have always been an idealist.  I like to think that my idealism was tempered with some pragmatism, but I guess that is for others to judge.  I don't think my ideals are that difficult. Is it so hard to treat others with respect even if you don't agree with them?  Is it too much trouble to have love higher up in your holster than hate and venom?

I look at this world and it dawns on me that I have nothing to offer it.  I speak a different language. When I tried to talk to people about it, they look at me like I am from outer space. I don't know what else to do.  I can't join in; I just can't.

I have seen the world burn before.  I was always the first to try to rally the bucket brigade.  I don't see any more buckets.  I just see torches - torches and pitch forks and I no longer want to be here to watch it burn.

Let me give you and example:  When I look at Donald Trump, I don't see Beelzebub.  I don't see the savior, either, and I certainly don't see someone that is going to "make America great again."  

You know what I see?  Just a man - a man for a complication of reasons has found himself to be the leader of the free world. I didn't vote for him.  As a matter of fact, of all the people that ran for the president, he was probably last on my list.  But guess what, I don't think he is out to destroy us.  I think he is out to do the best he can - even if his path and experience makes that a long shot.  His values are not like mine, but I don't hate him.  He is going to make mistakes, but I won't crucify him. 

I see a fellow human being. When I look at his eyes, I see some fear and the weight of responsibility. I honestly think the job is bigger than his abilities.  I don't think he is properly equipped.  BUT I DON'T HATE HIM and I won't.

Don't misunderstand, this piece isn't about Donald Trump.  He is just an example. If it wasn't him or his opposition (they both get the hate), it will be and IS something else - just constant discord and strife.  We just can't seem to work for our values without hating the other guy.  To what end?

Which brings us back to this world.  It is not beautiful to me anymore.  It is so disappointing. The sniping and the negativity over every manner of things - it just wears me to the ground. It is SO very lonely now. We are lost . . . or maybe it is just me. 

Facebook Discussion Groups: A Survival Guide

As a person who loves to discuss and exchange ideas with folks about important or at least interesting topics, I have drifted into a number of Facebook discussion groups. I don't recommend it. However, if you do decide to wade into the deep, here are Psychosomatic Wit's Rules for a Stepford-ly happy experience:

1. Find out who the administrators are and make every effort to agree with them.  Facebook group administrators have finally found a place of power and they love it.  They look for a chance to wield it. So, in order to remain active in the group, learn to parrot the masters.  As soon as you disagree, you become a troll.  Trolls are not long for this world. If the first two administrators don't get you, the third will knock you off the bridge and make the group the safe echo chamber that it should be.  You are banned!  Which brings us to rule number two:

2. The group isn't REALLY a discussion group, it is an echo chamber.  If you manage to get into a group where the administrators are not megalomaniacs, then it reverts to majority rules. Brace yourself for The Lord of the Flies!  You need to learn to pivot to the side of the majority or become the pig that they strive to kill.  Of course, the Internet translation of "pig" is "troll."  They throw that word around a lot.  If you are dubbed the pig, you get slaughtered.  And if you are a worthy pig, then there are always a few little snitches who run to the administrators with their troll accusations.

3. Finally, learn to use the emoticon buttons.  If an administrator posts something, whether you agree with it or not, "like" it.  The same thing with a post from the majority.  "Like" it! You can always "unlike" it after it gets a little stale and no one will be the wiser.  If you want to be a little bold, you can "like" a comment that disagrees with the company line.  Usually they let that stuff slide - especially if you don't have a track record for being a "stupid troll."  It is these little tricks that MAY allow you to live with yourself as you navigate the group social structure.  It is the same as rubbing zombie guts all over you so as not to be detected by the other zombies (Walking Dead Reference).
Or, you can live on the edge!  Speak your mind and get mocked and ultimately kicked out.  You can wear your expulsion like a badge of honor.  Just knock the dust off or your shoes and move on to the next group.  That is the real test of your convictions.  You get banned, they make sport of you, and you don't feel like you have to have the last word.  Then you know it is about conviction and not pride.  

If you have read this guide and you are wondering what technique is right for you, just close the lid of your laptop or put your phone down.  Go for a walk. Watch the sun set in the west.  Listen to children laughing at the playground. Curl up with a good book (I don't recommend Lord of the Flies).

The point is, life is too short to waste on the narcissistic society of the Facebook discussion scene. 

Now if  you will excuse me, I can see I got three fresh Facebook notices while I have been writing this.  Wait till my politics group gets a hold of this blog post!

Lilly King Reminds Us of the America We Want

I can’t help but to swell with pride when I see Lilly King at the Olympics.  The 19 year-old from Evansville, IN is the picture of what we dream our kids and our country should be.

Not intimidated by Russian powerhouse swimmer, Yulia Efimova, King challenged her in and out of the pool.  Efimova had been found guilty of doping but was allowed to compete in Rio because she won a last minute appeal – despite coming up dirty in a recent drug screening.  King made it clear that she was not a fan of athletes that use banned substances before her 100m breast stroke final, then backed it up in the pool by taking the gold away of Efimova.
Hometown Proud - Sign from a
business saluting Lilly King in
her hometown of Evansville, IN

It is King’s gallantry that inspires all of us to remember what America is all about – or what it should be.  It is about hometown heroes. It is the good in the good vs evil narrative.  Lilly King has given us an injection of American pride at a time where politics has soured us, and the threat of terrorism has left us overly cautious.

Thank you, Lilly, for allowing us escape the appalling stories of the day, and lose ourselves in proper patriotism – if only for a moment.  We appreciate you letting us know that there is still a such thing as an American hero and a fantastic role model for our kids.

Ahead of Super Tuesday, PW Endorses Bernie Sanders

This year, in the Democratic primary, we have Hillary 2.0, “It’s My Turn” versus Bernie Sanders, whose “Enough is Enough” campaign has excited people who normally don’t think about politics. Clinton and Sanders both offer compelling cases.  Clinton brings experience and pragmatism to her campaign while Sanders wants a more transforming government. Since they both agree on the issues roughly 90% of the time, it is their approach to how to best run the executive branch will decide in the end for most voters who they will support.  As for Psychosomatic Wit, I believe Bernie’s approach to be the most compelling and serves the best interest for this season and for the future of this country.  Let me lay out my case.

To See The Republican Nomination Endorsement Click Here

I originally was in the Clinton camp. I didn't think that anyone should even bother to challenge her in the primary.  As we all have heard before, many believe that Hillary is the most qualified candidate that has ever run for president.  She did meaningful work while being associated with the executive branch as first lady and received hands on experience of government from the legislative branch side of it as a senator from New York.

She has also spent four years as Obama’s secretary of state which is probably the most impressive qualification she has.  Many may argue that she didn’t do anything significant, but she certainly was busy cleaning up a lot of diplomatic messes in the Middle East which is a result of a broad military presence there.  Despite the right wing talking points that the US has a worst reputation around the world under Obama, the facts do not back them up.  According to the three polls I could find (BBC Polling, Pew, and Gallup), the US has improved its standing around the world compared to the Bush administration.  Clinton can sincerely take credit for a big part of that.

The Issues

It wasn't easy to look at Clinton’s credentials and decide to go in another direction.  However, the issues help tell the story. Both candidates claim to want to bridge the gap in economic inequality. Bernie Sanders wants to address this by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour slowly over the next several years. Clinton wants to raise it to the twelve dollars per hour which she deems “sensible.”

Both realize that we have farther to go in providing health care.  Sanders wants to transform our healthcare system to something similar to the rest of world - a single payer, everyone is covered system he calls Medicare for all - borrowing from the popular system already covering senior citizens and the disabled. Clinton wants to build on ObamaCare, (the Affordable Care Act) that President Obama worked hard to pass that is the centerpiece of his presidential legacy.

The third leg of bridging the gap between the rich and the middle and working class has to do with accessibility of education.  Sanders believes that public education should increase from K-12, to K-16.  He claims that a Bachelor’s degree today has about the same bargaining power for employment as a high school diploma fifty years ago.  He claims that in order to stay competitive and give the middle and working class a chance to keep up with educational requirements for most gainful employment, the time has come to revise the extent of public education bridge the educational gap.  Clinton wants to take that notion as far as an associate's degree (2 year) at a community college. This is concept that was introduced by Obama.  She also wants to make borrowing money for tuition more affordable.

Clinton’s main arguments about why she should be elected over Sanders is three-fold.  One is her experienced which I have already touched on. The second reason is her electability.  She believes that she is the only one that has a chance defeating the Republican in the fall.  Finally, and the reason she emphasizes the most, is that she is the only one that can get her agenda passed through Congress.

The Decision

When analyzing these and other arguments, PW has decided to endorse Bernie Sanders.  In addressing her experience, it is true that, no matter how you slice it, Clinton has more qualifications based on experience. Although Sanders has served in the legislature longer, Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State cannot be matched by Sanders or anyone else.  However, if this was the main qualification to hold the office of president in this country, we would have a number of former secretaries of state holding the office throughout history. Sanders argues that his judgment is more sound than Clinton’s.  He points to his opposition to the Iraq war and the numerous trade deals, such as NAFTA that he opposed while Hillary supported them.  Still, judgment aside, it is hard to minimize her experience.

Clinton argues that because of her experience, she will be ready on Day 1 to deal with anything that arises on the foreign policy side.  The saving grace for Sanders, in addition to his judgment, is that starting in November, the president-elect, while putting a team together is kept apprised of all security situations.  As long as the team is good, the foreign policy is good and Sanders will have the opportunity to use his judgment based on the information he is given.

Clinton claims the edge on electability but the facts really don't bear that out. The right wing absolutely despises her.  She has had over 20 years head start acquiring that level of contempt compared to Bernie, a relative newcomer on the national scene. Unfortunately for Clinton is that hate spills over to mainstream America because of the success the Conservative Entertainment Complex (CEC) of pushing their views.  Fox News and AM radio have butchered Hillary for years and some of the metrics associated with her establish this.  She is running a high deficit on trust issues as the CEC will not let her email issues and other scandals disappear from the public eye.  

In addition, the most recent head-to-head polls for the general election show Sanders in a much better position to win in the fall than Clinton. In polling reports provided by Real Clear Politics,  Clinton narrowly defeats Trump but loses to the rest of the field.  In the same polling, Sanders beats the entire field.  When figured on average, Hillary loses in the fall no matter who her opponent is, but Sanders beats the entire field by an average of 9 percentage points.

In examining which candidate can push an agenda through Congress, Bernie still makes the most sense. Hillary is running on a pragmatic platform. She keeps saying that she won’t make promises that she knows she can’t keep.  What that means, is that she is the candidate of increments.  She knows we need a universal healthcare single payer system in this country, but she doesn't want to push it, so she says that she just wants to build upon ObamaCare which still gives insurance companies control over our health care. Bernie wants a revolution.  He wants to take the populist capital that he has and continues to acquire and put pressure on the system.  That is what a revolution is all about - championing the grass roots with the threat of “throwing the rascals out” if they do not bend to the will of the people. A revolution will have bigger coattails and have a better chance bringing lower level democrats into office with the huge excitement and turnout it should bring.

That brings us to the number one reason why Bernie is the only choice to get Psychosomatic Wit’s endorsement. He is committed to getting big money out of politics. Without that, “the one person, one vote” concept of our democracy is only a myth.  This is a battle between the people and the establishment. Hillary tries to tell us that she is not establishment, while taking millions from Wall Street and other interests.  Bernie is funded by the people.  He has no PAC.  He doesn't get Wall Street money.  He gets his funding through the folks - those of us that want our vote to count whether we have $20 or $20 million in the bank.  Bernie would rather have our donations (which he boasts only averages $27), than any check from special interest that will always want special favors.  He wants to for and with the folks, not special interests with deep pockets. Clinton says that she has never changed a vote because of big money.  Maybe she hasn't; maybe she hasn't needed to because her agenda has been shaped by those gifts in the first place.  All we know is that Bernie makes sense when he proclaimed at a recent debate, “Let’s not insult the intelligence of the American People. People aren't dumb. Why in God’s name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? . . . I guess for the fun of it.”

Bernie knows that with the big money in campaigns, he isn't going to get the great things passed.  That is why it is his number one objective to reform campaign financing.  If we can’t get money out of politics, it really doesn't matter who wins, does it?

So, yes Bernie Sanders wants to do great things and Hillary wants to be pragmatic. To borrow a sports metaphor, Hillary might be a good game manager, but Bernie is a play maker. The time has come to stop throwing a few crumbs to the masses in an unseemly attempt at pacification while preserving a system of big money corruption that flies in the face of our very democratic national identity.

The Republican party is not going to work with ANY Democratic president.  We have seen that over the past seven years and the election of  Hillary Clinton will not change that.  It will take a revolution to change the government from one of stalemate and stagnation to one of progress. Because of this, Psychosomatic Wit is forced to shout, “Go big, or go home!”  And in that spirit, PW whole-heartedly endorses Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president.

To See The Republican Nomination Endorsement Click Here

MSNBC, Chris Matthews, and Hillary Clinton, An Exclusive Club

I have seen that look before.  He is completely smitten by her!

There was an interview between Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton after the Iowa Caucuses on the following day. It was the most lopsided interview I have seen in some time. I thought I was going to see Matthews blow her kisses. Let me paraphrase the interview for you.

Matthews: Hillary you are great! Not like that looney tune, Bernie Sanders.

Hillary: Yes, I know. And you are right, there is a lunatic running for the nomination against me but I won't name names.

Matthews: How does that guy think he is going to win? He isn't as great as you. He doesn't smell as good as you do, either.

Hillary: I don't know why anyone would listen to him. Everyone knows that the status quo is what is needed.

Matthews: Of course the status quo is what's needed! He is talking about a revolution. FDR who gave us Social Security and JFK who put Americans on the moon would turn over in their graves if they knew someone would try to be as bold under the Democrat banner as that nutjob. (Note: I am not even embellishing this line much at all)

Hillary: Agreed. Bold ideas will never work. He won't get anything passed by Congress. The Republicans will block everything. It is such a good thing that the Republicans love me so much. I can work with those guys. They have always been willing to listen to me and treat me fairly.

Matthews: You know he isn't really a Democrat. He is a socialist. A SOCIALIST, I tell you!

Hillary: I know, right? Just because he caucused with the Democrats in the Senate, supported every Democratic policy for all the years he has served, and publicly praised Barack Obama's policies including ObamaCare and closing the gun show loophole, he thinks that is enough to be able to give Democratic voters a choice to support him! Just sickening!

Matthews: Well, best of luck, Madam President! You are a lock!

Hillary: Thank you, Chris. The check is in the mail, er uh . . . I mean . . . uh just thanks!

This interview was put on the air during the day time when MSNBC is trying to establish their straight news brand, in contrast to the Democratic leaning night time fare. I guess Bernie has another name to put on the establishment list: MSNBC. With all the sentiment in the country hating how the system is rigged against people who aren't in the establishment, this interview did nothing but provide a boost to Bernie Sander's campaign as well as to the ratings of CNN - well that is what it did for me, anyway.

Time Again for Presidential Endorsements - The GOP Primary

This is my snarky take on the GOP nomination derby.  Although some of it is tongue-in-cheek, if you look hard enough, you may find the substance.

The 2016 nomination derby might be the most interesting in history.  The Republicans boast of a virtual herd trying to position themselves to face-off against the Democrats in the fall. For the sake of time, space and interest, I will only touch on a few that many think have a chance. I will spend the most time on the overwhelming front runner because it is important to understand what currently has the most support.

Donald Trump

Mr. Trump is a fascinating candidate.  What is more fascinating than his candidacy is the fact that he has so much support.  People like to be mad and Trump gives them an opportunity to represent their anger.  He gives them an outlet for the "It's simple folks; we just have to keep Mexicans and Muslims out of the country and we will be fine" camp. Trump gives the "we against them" drive a place to light. He also just tells them that he can make all the deals that overwhelmingly favor the US and the other countries will go along with it.   Trump tells the masses that everyone in Washington are idiots and he is the only smart guy around that can save the country.  For whatever reason, they believe him.

Let's look at his specifics - that which we can find:

  • Trump's tax plan favors the poor and very wealthy.  It messes over the already shrinking middle class. For instance, a person who makes $151,000 pays the same rate as billionaires. Also, a person who makes $50,100 pays the same tax rate as someone who makes $150,000. These may look like small differences to a billionaire, but it certainly isn't to the folks who make those amounts.
  • His stance on 2nd Amendment rights is ineffectively stagnant.  He leaves too many people to able to get guns without the hinderance of background checks as long as they get their guns from a non-federal dealer of firearms.  I am surprised he doesn't draw them a map of where they can obtain them.
  • His immigration policy is insulting to anyone that is not Anglo.
  • In his presumably strongest issue, trade policy, he is very presumptuous about what he thinks he can get other countries to do.

In summary, we don't know that he has the best interest of the citizens.  He doesn't operate with principles because he brags about how he gamed the system as a businessman.  He doesn't have the ethical backbone to do what is right because if he had a penchant for ethics,  he wouldn't have gamed the system for personal profit.  There is no reason to think that he is influenced by ethics at all but by only what makes him successful - and success is defined by him.  He is just too dangerous to trust with the country's welfare.

He also doesn't seem to understand that there is a difference between a business deal and a deal made by countries that have other agendas besides profit which often implies the intricacies of diplomacy and the relationship with allies.

Finally, I don't think he takes the quest for the White House seriously.  It is like a hobby to him or a sporting match.  He is obsessed with his poll numbers rather than being concerned about pursuing a harmonious country.  It makes me worry that he believes it is okay if we all lose, as long as he wins.

Ted Cruz 

No one likes Ted Cruz except people who do not understand what governing entails.  These are the same people who also like Trump; it is just that Trump is more entertaining.  When a respected person like Bob Dole said he would rather have the clueless Trump in office over Cruz, that should tell you all that you need to know.  Cruz comes off like a televangelist in his speech and mannerisms which is a turnoff to most people not glued to TBN.

Cruz is the candidate of no.  He isn't as interested in governing as he is obstructing.  If he can't compromise in a republic, he isn't fit to govern in a republic because that is what democracy is all about - giving everyone a voice and a choice.

In addition, it turns out that there is a legitimate concern that he may not even be eligible to be president - and I am not trying to be funny here.

Marco Rubio 

He, like most of the other GOP candidates, believes that he is running against Barack Obama instead of his fellow Republicans or even the Democratic candidates.  As Americans, we were scolded by the Republicans if we insulted the president of the United States. To do so, made critics of GW Bush un-American.  Of course, that only applies to Republican presidents, I guess.  To rational thinkers, that seems pretty disingenuous.

Rubio also is against unions at every turn. I am not saying that unions haven't had their faults over the years, but unions are the backbone of labor.  Because of unions, even non-union shops have to treat their workers more favorably.  Killing unions would lower wages and make the wage gap even larger.

Rubio also seems to not have the kind of work ethic necessary to be the POTUS.  The presidency requires someone to be on the job 24/7 including vacations.  Rubio has a poor voting attendance record which is bad enough, but he downplays the importance of it which means he isn't too concerned with carrying out the job that he was elected to do.  Is it really a good idea to elect a president with that attitude?

The Also-Rans 

When considering the others, Jeb Bush seems to be in a daze like he can't believe he is losing.  He spends a whole lot of time bashing Hillary Clinton which isn't going to do him any good if he can't leap over the five or six Republicans ahead of him. He is one of the only candidates that is nervy enough to attack Trump, but that has been ineffectual.  In fact, he has slidden so far now that Trump, formerly his greatest adversary, now ignores him for the most part.

Chris Christie has a hard time telling the truth according to Politifact.  Besides, he doesn't even have the sense to go by his middle name, "James".  Chris Christie should only be forced on him; it shouldn't be his first choice. You have to pick the name that is most flattering.  Let "Chris Christie" go by the way of "Steve Stevens" and "Dick Dixon." At least go with the hip, "Topher." He should put his best name forward. You don't see Barack Obama going by Hussein or Barry now, do you? James Christie sounds a lot more presidential to me.  

Rand Paul just can't seem to get any traction.  He has some sensible ideas from his libertarian side, but it also provides some idiotic ideas so that is a wash. He slid his way out of the prime time debate in South Carolina.  Not wanting to be relegated to the "kid's table" debate, he just took his ball and went home.  He might as well stay there.


John Kasich.  
Sensible, successful and compassionate makes John Kasich 
the best choice from the large Republican field.

Kasich has a different attitude compared to the other candidates.  As governor of Ohio, he had the sense and the courage to adopt ObamaCare.  He, like the rest of the field, says he wants to repeal and replace it, but he is the only one talking about preserving access to health care to do it. He states that the Ohio model "provides the path forward to the nation." The thing is, the Ohio model is an expanded Medicaid program - which is also part of the Obama plan.  Be that as it may, Kasich does recognize that it is unconscionable to kick millions off of medical coverage for political expediency.

The other candidates are content to end the ACA and worry about replacing it at some later time (or more likely, not at all).  To illustrate this, the new Congress has already had a repeal bill pass and sent for Obama's veto, which he predictably executed.  With all the hollering of "Repeal and Replace,"  the Republicans have tried to repeal ObamaCare over 50 times without a single replacement offer.  At least Kasich has seen first hand the need and allowed it to be met in his state.

The people of Ohio, who knows him best, love Kasich.  He enjoyed record approval ratings going into his presidential campaign.  This shows the success he has achieved as chief executive in a heartland state.

In addition, Kasich has been the most open to governing instead of perpetuating the feud that has been going on in Congress for far too many years.  He champions a hopeful and positive campaign. He has demonstrated compassion driven by his faith that is determined to not leave "the least of these" behind.  That attitude isn't getting him very far so far in the GOP, "I got mine, let them get theirs" subculture, but it does provide the reason that Psychosomatic Wit endorses John Kasich for the Republican nomination for president.