Thursday, November 08, 2012

Bad Luck, Good Luck, A Country Divided

I've mostly kept my mouth shut about politics but time to weigh in a little bit in the aftermath of the election.  Feel free to skip if this isn't the reason you come here.  Poker Talk Below under "Donkley."


My republican friends have greeted the election as the final push off the cliff.  My Democratic friends are ecstatic   As usual I'm somewhere in the middle.  My lack of passion centers around the fact that both parties despite their pontification and punditry are shades of the same color.  Obviously, neither candidate winning would have made me ecstatic, though this year I was leaning a lot more one way than the other.  It's the way I lean most election cycles, moreso this year than other years though.   What I do find particularly interesting is the question of whether or not the feedback on social media, the out right fear and horror of the republican base, is even registering on the democrats.  Probably not.

It's funny, Democrats think Republicans are evil and soulless because in their opinion Republicans don't want the federal government to help those who can't help themselves.  Ironically, a democrat did a study on charitable donations and contributions, where overwhelmingly the soulless conservatives out donated the democrats.  In fact, the caring democrats donated scandalously low.  Who's soulless?  Factor in money donated to churchs on top of that, and the Republicans are far outspending the dems in charity.    

Republicans look at their neighborhood DMVs and think Democrats are stupid for thinking government run anything can be successful.  Republicans want to be in charge of who they give their money too and who they help.  Democrats want to give their money to the government to help.  I guess they don't give to charity because they think their taxes are their charity--which makes sense.  Government should be providing welfare and more.  Dems point to GIANT tragedies like Sandy that they think can only be handled by a giant government organization.  Let's be fair neither is soulless nor stupid simply because they are a Republican or a democrat.  However, in my opinion that's the fundamental difference between the two groups half think they can solve the world's problems and half think the government should.

Every year they say it's the most important election EVER.  Rarely, though is the result greeted with End Times kind of response Obama's second term has generated.  Yes, there is always someone saying they are moving to Canada (oddly it's never... Mexico) but until this year has so big a segment of the population ever greeted the result with a fear our country is going to go down in flames?  Why are the republicans so up in arms.  Surely the Dems didn't think had Romney won that fire and brimstone would be greeted us come January?  So, why the difference...

Take for example this quote one my republican friends have been circulating:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville

Gulp.  Tocqueville was a guy in the 1800s who accurately predicted a lot of things, for example there would be two super-powers in the next century Russia and us.  He got a lot of things wrong too, to be fair.  That doesn't make the quote any less scary.  You know the really bankrupt state of California gave the keys to the treasury to the voting masses years ago and has been stuck in the financial muck since then.

Have we reached a tipping point for our country?  

Can a candidate not racking up debt by raiding the coffers to offer freebies to the masses ever win again?  I'm not framing Obama as doing this, I'm accepting the framing of him by Republicans that he's doing this.  To be clear, both parties have a history of doing this.  As for Obama, there is this mass belief right now, he's guiltier than most of this platform.

I'm not sure I agree completely with my Republican friends that this election was about Freebies vs. Freedom.  There were a lot of other things at play.  However, both the Republicans and Democrats have produced Presidents that spend, spend, spend and spend some more.  Their records of taxing and spending on their friends who got them elected is nearly identical.  In fact, it's gross how they steal from one area of the "bank" to fund something else.  Mostly we just borrow from China but cumulatively that fiscal cliff nears every day.

Is Tocqueville correct?  ...As much as it pains me to say... maybe.

What's the solution?    

If it is the case.  There isn't much of one.  See Greece right now with riots in the streets and the people pissed that austerity is taking away their equivalent of food stamps, welfare, and other goverment freebies (healthcare probably).  That will ensue here too should we not get financial things in order.  Out of disorder anything can happen but Tocqueville is correct history has shown us most of the time it's order levied by the hands of a tyrant.  Fun times for us and our kids ahead.

Not a solution but a fun discussion at least:

I saw a Democrat friend on facebook recommending breaking up the country.  Stop the name calling and let the blues live with the blues and the reds live with the reds.  Not such a bad idea.  Obviously this is completely unrealistic, impractical and impossible, but let's just play with the hypothetical   Everybody votes into United States and United States 2.0, by county or parish.

Should look something like this...

We split the debt right down the middle, and for the near term, have one common army, and maintain the minimum federal agencies like the FAA and things we can't do without for a transition period of five to ten years.  Blues get the cities, reds get the rest of the country.  Citizens who are blues but stuck in a red zone can move to a blue zone and vice versa for a limited amount of time.  I'd like to say independents can be citizens of both, but likely we'd have to take one evil over the other.    

Then we start the second great experiment.  For the next 100 to 200 years we run separate countries.  Liberals govern as they want and Conservatives as they want.  Who's going to go knocking on the other's door to let them in first?  What do you think?  That's an interesting hypothetical.  Would you want to live in the Blue U.S.?  Or the Red?


So on Wednesday headed to the post election Donkley at Harrahs.  Wanted to key in on some too angry republicans and some too happy dems.  Over thought it.  Little of each at least at the tables.  Only a minimal amount of gloating or hand wringing and truly politics is rarely the topic of conversation anyway at the tables.  

Ran really well to start.  In the first four levels there were three times I flopped the nut straights.  First time with QJ when I had the good fortune to raise from EP.  Next time with AJ (again a raise on my part) and the last time with 34 (and yes, I raised with it pre) and had a pair of Aces give me her stack.  After regular final tablist Nate asked me if I was going to blog about running so well I said I would because  it happens to me about once a millennium.

With a ton of chips things were looking rosy.   With about 20 people left 10 getting paid things went south.  A steady reg (over)shoved A9 o/s and I looked down at KK.  With about 25k or so easy call of his ~8k.  Turn card brought the damage.  Then ran into a short stack hitting a set on me twice but kind of rebuilt again.  Then I got AK and reshoved over another short-stack whose 66 didn't get there.  The button with A10 thought about calling my bigger stack and would have actually won me money in the hand... but didn't call.

Finally, with 16 or so left, I looked at QQ and shoved.  The guy who had 66 previously now had more chips and peeled back AA and I went home.

In between the running great and the standard losing of flips, I felt I played pretty good.  I think a hole in my game is holding on to a big stack and knowing the right amount of pressure to push with.  Sometimes, I still find myself in spots were I think I'm committing too many chips vs. short stacks and being forced to call future streets.  Maybe that's okay if they aren't making sets on me.  Maybe not.  Can't complain about the cooler or the flips.  Just further proves my point the method to winning the donkley is running good after the second break.  Just make the second break.  From there, no stack is safe and no one is out of it.  

Friday, November 02, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Uggh...  Hate that Hurricane Sandy has lived up to the hype.  I hope all of us who lived through Katrina and her aftermath will extend the same generosity the Northeast sent our way a few years back, now, in their time of need.

If you want to make a small donation of $10 to the redcross text:  REDCROSS to 90999.  Really, that's the minimum all of us should do.  Times are tight but we can all afford at least $10.  If you want to make a bigger contribution and can afford it please go to their website.  Or if you have the time head north to help first hand, something my wife and I talked about me doing.  I have a friend from New York who every time he came down post Katrina for a Jazzfest or a poker tournament volunteered to do something in Mississippi or Louisiana.

As I made mention in my last blog, I believe there is a lot of lingering resentment from Gulf Coasters to those small few idiots that questioned why people would rebuild down here.  Those trolls in the media and on the messageboards didn't speak for the country however, though it's hard to not remember their voices above the rest.

The fact is a far bigger number of people in our country donated time, money, energy, and whatever they could muster to help in Katrina's disaster relief.  We need to remember that in our time of despair the thousands, maybe millions of people that reached out to us and return the favor, not focus on the others.

I know a lot of people in the impacted area, having grown up in Delaware and going to school with a lot of Northeasters.  From what I could make out on Facebook it looks like at least one of my very good friends lost everything.  He lived on the Jersey shore.

He and his wife when they got married started their life together in her home city of Chicago with the plan they'd move to his home state of New Jersey in a couple of years.  They just moved back and now they've lost it all.  His wife posted a picture of a wedding picture that was waterlogged stating she was still glad they moved.

My friend is a super generous guy.  When my best friend in New Orleans, Toby B, was murdered in a hit and run accident a few years back, my friend from Jersey donated a BIG check to Crimestoppers to help find his killer.  He had only met Toby once or twice.

I'm sure that's representative of many charitable acts on his part.  I've seen him urging his neighbors to get out and help one another.  Knowing somebody going through this firsthand makes it rougher.

I've included two pictures of his house with the water high enough for the first floor to be a total loss.  Again, he's one of thousands.  We know how quickly mold and mildew on the drywall can set in once the water has been sitting there even for a short amount of time.  We also know the headaches dealing with an insurance company in the weeks, months and years ahead.

As a boy, I'd spend a week or two every summer in Ocean City, New Jersey with my friend's family.  Riding bikes up and down that sliver of land, hitting the boardwalk and the rides, in a safe "family" town are cherished memories.  I watched CNN do a helicopter fly by and saw most of that city under sand and water.  It hurts to know a chunk of geography and people that I think back on so fondly will have to endure the hard slog ahead of them.

Sorry, for the solicitation for charity but I think it's important we all do our part.  Sometimes we live in a bubble, and I think aspects of the handling of Katrina made us feel we were out on our own, but to a large degree we weren't.

If we can think back to everything the citizens of this country did for us, and try to ignore where government failed us, or the trolls slandered us, we'll dig deep and help out our brothers up north.