Dazed and confused

woman wearing smartphone armband and blue earphones

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

As usual, I’m sitting here procrastinating, about to cook dinner – well, reheat leftovers from yesterday’s Indian takeaway, which I desperately needed. I was supposed to go out with a friend, but she backed out at the last minute.

As I’ve mentioned before, my office window has a view of one of the favorite running and walking routes in my city. I can watch people go by anonymously, and there are a few regulars that catch my – today two women, or to be more precise a girl and a woman. I have seen the girl run or walk by for years – in both directions. She is young (16-20), fit and dressed like a serious runner, but why does she walk here? I’m on the relatively flat final approach to the top of a high hill. I could see walking on the way up, it’s a steep climb, but actually there is a short downhill section before this flat spot. Surely, it’s an ideal place to run and recover, as opposed to walking and tightening up.

I’ve wondered for a long time, but lately I’ve seen a woman who I often see running on the track at the gym, where I’ve been running lately because it is a softer surface, and my body has been complaining. I think she runs about 3-5 miles, usually at a faster pace than me, except when I’m in the last half mile, but I’m usually running more like 7 miles. She, too, walks on this route in both directions. Again, she is dressed to run. Of all the times I’ve seen her here, I think I’ve only seen her running once. Surely, she is up to the hill.

I’ve thought about it before, but seeing both of them on the same blistering hot humid day brought it more to the fore of my thoughts. I would say that I never walk there, but that is because it is at both the beginnings and endings of my runs. I run a loop which includes a lot of hills, and I confess, I do walk the steepest of them. (They aren’t even running/walking the steepest part.) Anyway, I wouldn’t walk here because I still have the goal of the top of the hill, and then I would want to run down on the return.

It’s a head-scratcher.

I’m writing about this because I don’t want to look at the results of the EU elections. The UK didn’t send me an absentee ballot for some reason. (I’m supposed to get one automatically.) Is it because I’m in a pro-remain demographic and my constituency is pro-Brexit? It looks like the conservatives are getting hammered, but the Brexit Party is getting too many votes for my liking. At least it is a proportional vote, so the remain-leaning parties still outnumber them at this point, although the final tallies are yet to come. I can’t wait to see the Brexiteers get whitewashed in Scotland!

The Death of Conservatism

Suffering through another Republican debate has made me sick.

I was about to post a dictionary definition, but even that has changed. A conservative is one who conserves, prefers the status quo and is conservative in their actions. Most definitions now include a religious component, and a reliance on “traditional values”. Some even include a political component.

Basically, a conservative doesn’t take chances, and doesn’t upset the apple cart. A conservative is risk-averse. A conservative is in it for the long haul.

I guess that makes me a closet conservative, yet I have never voted for a Republican for President, nor while I was living in the UK, a Tory for member of parliament.

It’s because I am risk-averse. Liberal parties are often accused of being spendthrifts and tree-huggers, but I find that almost the opposite is closer to the truth. If you look at Democrat and Republican policies, you see that the Republicans want to cut taxes and cut spending, yet they almost never do. Yes, they cut taxes, but invariably they get suckered into spending anyway – money they don’t have – resulting in a spike in the deficit. They passed the Sequester, yet they complain about how President Obama has cut military spending. No, the Sequester cut military spending – it cut spending evenly across the board – but that doesn’t include paying for the wars we are waging in the Middle East. By divesting us from Iraq and Afghanistan, he has saved us some money, but not enough. If you look at the history of the deficit, it spikes whenever a Republican is in power and levels out (or falls in Clinton’s case) during a Democrat administration. To me, a true conservative would see that escalating debt and enact policies to temper it, and that means being realistic about taxation. The Democrats are, but they are accused of profligate spending, thanks to the Republican propaganda machine.

The environment. A true conservative would be a conservationist. A conservative would look at the world in which we live and want to preserve it for future generations – our children. Instead, the Republicans push fossil fuels that burn dirty, polluting the air, and of which we will eventually run out. They deny climate change, yet a true conservative would take measures to mitigate it, just in case it were true. One of them asked at last night’s debate: is climate change more pressing that ISIS? Yes, it is. In the long term, we won’t be able to stop it. It may already be too late.

What about ISIS? The Democrats call it ISIL, but the Republicans insist on ISIS, saying that’s the real name, probably because their pea-sized brains find saying ISIL more difficult. Frankly, the real name is DASH. That’s what the rest of the world calls them.

Ted Cruz says carpet bomb them, then, because that is completely objectionable in light of how many civilians we killed in Vietnam, he says carpet bomb them like we did in the first Gulf war. No, Ted – may I call you Ted – we didn’t. We flew surgical strikes on command and control centers. Smartly, we didn’t take out Saddam. (The idiot son did that, leaving a vacuum for Al Qaeda to fill (they weren’t there before) and now DASH/ISIL/ISIS.) We did that in Libya, too, but we took out Gaddafi, again, leaving a power vacuum. That was the root of the Benghazi attack, along with cuts in the State Department, mandated by the House Appropriations Committee, leaving our diplomats sitting ducks. Don’t blame Hilary, you fools.

This Middle East problem is of our own making. Interfering is just making the problem worse.

Religion/immigration. I’ve got news for you. Jesus was a lefty. Ignoring his homophobia, St Paul was a communist. Jesus would have taken in any number of immigrants and refugees. “Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again.” By nature, also, a true conservative would not be evangelical. That takes too many chances. Conservatives don’t take chances.

Education. A conservative would want everyone to be smart, so they can solve their own problems. The Republicans want everyone to be stupid, like sheep.

Freedom. Here’s the rub. A true conservative wouldn’t want too much freedom. Freedom brings risks. Guns are risky. Free-market capitalism is risky. Regulation and big government are the only path for the risk-averse. This is the hardest part for my libertarian soul to stomach. Even that “evil” socialized medicine is risk-averse, by giving us all a safety net. The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but Ted’s alternative (what little of it there is) is just plain wacko-risky.

With that definition, here is my assessment of the Presidential contenders, from most to least conservative choices.

  1. Hilary Clinton (scores high on all of the above)
  2. (virtual tie) Martin O’Malley (ditto)
  3. Bernie Sanders (not 1. because he wants too much change too quickly)
  4. Rand Paul (a kin of my libertarian soul, but some of his ideas are nuts)
  5. John Kasich (a pragmatist, does what needs to be do, right or not)
  6. Jeb Bush (smarter than his brother, dumber than his father)
  7. Chris Christy (also a pragmatist, but there is just something I don’t trust about him)
  8. Ben Carson (scattergun, poor advisors)
  9. Rick Santorum (scores low on the religion test)
  10. Carly Fiorino (liar, she destroyed HP, not fixed it)
  11. Ted Cruz (not a liar, just scores really low on conservatism)
  12. Donald Trump (narcissist, gambler, un-trustable)
  13. Jim Gilmore (wacko)
  14. Mick Huckebee (scores low on religious test and wacko)

Wow! Frankly, that’s probably the order I would want to see them in control of the red button, too. I don’t dare give the lunatics the key to the asylum.

Well, that’s it. The political left falls to the right on the conservative spectrum, whereas the religious, war-mongering right are such a big risk.