First Debate and False Equivalence

The first Presidential debate was aimed at a specific group of people. Whoever has already decided their vote, this wasn’t for you. Nothing either candidate said or did would have swayed you away from your choice made after the primaries. There’s a solid core of folks for each camp that can’t bring themselves to switch.

I watched tonight to see if Clinton could show a contrast to Trump, a clear contrast between smart, capable, rational, to pessimistic, ignorant, and ill-tempered. I want this difference as obvious as night and day. It’s the difference between stability and impulsive amorality.

Trump is a man who cannot complete a cohesive sentence. Great extemporaneous speakers can at least put together harmonious thoughts. Trump has trouble with this, particularly if he’s already ignorant of the subject matter and getting flustered. He does a trick where he sort of trails off and lets the audience fill in the blanks how they like and then applaud for him. It was telling tonight when he didn’t elicit those audience reactions that he was floundering.

This debate’s contrast was for my dear undecided, independent, third-party-leaning friends who need it most:

Please stop trying to shoot the moon. I know full well how sick everyone is of voting for the lesser of two evils. But putting your vote to a candidate or party so far outside the bounds of potential victory is taking your voice away to stop the greater of two evils.


In all clarity: this is an election between a life-long policy wonk of a politician and lying, mysogynistic reality TV show personality. One candidate understands the intricate web of connecting politics, economics, and military strategies that interweave our complex world, and the other stays willfully ignorant and is only looking out for his monetary advantages.

You can dislike Clinton’s policies, but she has them. You can bring advice, compromise, options to her and she will listen. Being the opposition party in Congress to a Clinton White House can be your voice of dissent.

To my Republican friends, the ones who cannot conceive of voting for Clinton at the top of the ticket, you’re welcome to abstain. Vote for Senate on down and avoid claiming Clinton is the better candidate for President if you must.

But to my young, independent, ruckus-loving friends: do not throw your voice away for spite. Please do not see Clinton and Trump as cut from the same cloth. You may not like the status quo, but the status quo is at least stable. Electing someone beholden to no party, prone to vindictive spats, praising authoritarian leaders (you do know autocracies are far worse for freedom than democratic republics, right?), and willfully ignorant of how large economies work, is legitimately dangerous to us and everyone else. We’re too large of an economy and military to be operating at the whims of someone who would prefer checks and balances be beholden to his golden name.

If you think that the onerousness of our military and bureaucracy would stop him, there’s a point where disobedience becomes a mutiny and a coup. This would permanently damage the bedrock of our great republic.

To be perfectly clear: your third-party candidate cannot win. And nor should they. A third party should start smaller, grow more organically, and build an infrastructure, get a few state houses and congressional seats in their camp. Republican and Democrat candidates both start getting intelligence briefs and start building their cabinets and policy papers at least the summer before election day so they can be best prepared for the massive task of running the United States government. Without starting smaller, building a base infrastructure for governance of maybe a couple states first, I don’t think it safe to put that on the world stage against a Congress with no allies.

All presidential candidates speak big about what they will do in office, but it’s an office of limited scope and power. Without any other elected officials backing them, without walking into the office backed by institutional knowledge, it’s a weak position for domestic affairs and a dangerous one for international affairs.

The current election can only be won by one of two people. One person has never held public offic, has revealed massive dark underpinnings of American culture, has caused a schism in the party that nominated him, has shown petty vindictive mood swings, and has made a complete and conscious refusal to advance and learn anything for the massive responsibility of representing our replublic. But at least he elicits feelings.

The other has a long career in politics with the trail of dirt and deals that follow it, has been in the national spotlight so long that every opinion shift can be seen, comes off as calculated and robotic in giving speeches. But at least she knows policy and international relations inside and out. Those policies may be awful to you, but the stability of the United States government and its relations around the world will not be at risk. All the unknowns that a Trump presidency might bring aren’t worth that risk.

Those are the two options. If you vote other than those two, you’ve thrown your hat in with risking our stability and standing in the world. You’ll be voting for the greater of two evils.

Born of the Gods Prerelease

On Saturday began the prerelease weekend for the latest Magic set, Born of the Gods. The ancient Greek themes and flavors of this set are really great.

The way prerelease events work is as a special Sealed event. Sealed is a Limited format where everyone in the tournament is given six new packs of the latest set and they build their deck out of that. This has a lot of appeal compared to constructed, because often people simply don’t have access to the premium cards. Here you’re only dealing with the chance of what’s in your card pool and the skill of building and playing.

For prereleases now, the setup is that each person picks a color. That color is your sealed event box, with a pre-seeded pack with a special promo that replaces one of the six packs. The box also comes with more flavor introductions to how to pair colors and a spin down twenty-sided die to track your life. I think it’s a fantastic way to introduce a set, as well as give new and young players extras to help them play the game more readily.

The lad and I had been looking forward to the new set release for a month. We always do. So we did two events. They’re only three rounds of Swiss, which is prize payout based on won rounds, rather than rank.

Event 1, BU, 3-0

One thing the boy has proven to me again and again is that he’s got a pile of luck stacked higher than a snowbank compared to me. Speaking of, our snowbanks this year are about as high as an elephant’s eye, so spring should just show up now and harvest it.

I picked the black box to start the day, thinking that I like the black pairing with everything. That choice was the solid one, because my pool had one decent card in each other color. This is not what you’re looking for in sealed, because it’s very power-card driven and I had access to nearly none. My one saving grace was in the last pack I pulled an Ashiok. It basically forced me into blue-black, one of the most solid pairings in the format.

I don’t think Ashiok fully helped me win more than a single game, but she’s always so solid. Plus I’m planning to build a deck around her for Standard for fun, so getting another is always gravy to me! In the end though, I managed a full 3-0 because the deck could always stabilize while I was half dead and eventually take over the matchup.

The Lad, however, went with the red box, similarly chosen because he plays well with anything combined with red. Plus its promo was a cool dragon, and was one of the better ones. Then he pulled the dream card of the day for him: the new lesser god, Mogis. That black-red god, especially in limited, is nuts. It lands on the battlefield, has nearly no answers, and you win in five turns. He played well and enthusiastically and went 2-1 for the afternoon. Oh, and to top it off, with his winnings, he pulled two more gods. I pulled a second copy of something I would never play.

Event 2, UR, 3-0

We skipped the second afternoon event to do dinner and whatnot, then came back for the evening event. For this one, I picked blue and the Lad opted for green. Then we’ve covered four of the five promos, and we both picked colors that we like as a basis for the rest of the deck.

My blue was definitely strong, but the rares I pulled were nonsense. I pulled two of the triple-cost Fated cards, basically meaning they were unplayable. I wound up with the worst pairing of colors, blue-red. Red or black were my choices, but red had the earlier removal I could possibly play. Black had the better creatures, but only three of them, so not much was worthwhile there.

For blue, it was all won on the backs of Griptide and the promo Arbiter of the Ideal. Red had a couple bits of removal, and Fall of the Hammer is definitely a strong card in this set. And Akroan Conscriptor is worth mentioning. I absolutes loved Zealous Conscripts in Innistrad block. While Akroan Conscriptor is clunky in needing to be targeted, the reactionary theft of their creature makes combat very complex and look terrible if you’re on the other side of the table.

The boy however, nailed his green deck with a splash of blue. I think it was great, with the promo hydra and a pair of the very efficient Courser of Kruphix. A 2/4 for only three mana is way ahead of most creatures in that curve, plus it nets lands and life. He actually wound up pulling a third one in his victory pack too, so we have a solid base for future green decks on Friday nights. Unfortunately I think the boy was just tired and since the crowd was small, he wasn’t as enthusiastic to play so he went 0-3. I played him for one of the rounds and I think if he’d been just slightly more aggressive, he could have trounced me.


The day was good and I like that I feel increasingly comfortable in limited formats. I’m 3-0 in getting top in the monthly drafts at Village since they started. I like the level playing field and more game skill involved, not that I don’t really enjoy constructed as well. Friday Night Magic is bread and butter for my gaming.

Once again though, I came across obnoxious people around me. There was a father-son pair just a bit older than the boy and I. But it was really weird hearing them talk similarly as I would while my buddies and I play our weekly online game. I’m fairly sure that when those two were playing and the dad made a strong play, the kid called him a dick, half jokingly. It was still really weird and does plenty explain why I didn’t like playing against that boy at an FNM a while back either.

There’s a worthwhile safe distance between parent and child that I think needs to be there. The parent needs to be a questioned authority for certain, but still the respected ruler until the child has actually grown up. I’ll grant some parents don’t deserve it, but in cases like that I think it’s more a matter of just surviving your own childhood and breaking away when you can.

I’m glad I can say my son’s name and he’ll instantly cool his jets if he gets over-enthused and devolves into monster mode. He needs that check and me being able to teach him those limits has already made hime more aware of where and when things like that are appropriate. Also, I’m enjoying watching his mind think increasingly strategically and when facing down an unbeatable play, respecting your opponent and just enjoying the game and its interactions. He takes to it well, knows readily what’s rude and what’s polite, and I think will pass on the healthy gamer attitude to his sister as well.

First FNM of 2014

This week for Friday Night Magic, I ran a new BWR midrange deck that’s something of a rebuild since last rotation (I miss Olivia Voldaren and her vampire friends.) It’s primarily based around removal and Obzedat, Blood Baron, and Aurelia. The full deck list is thus:

EF BWR Midrange Goodstuff

Creatures 10
3 Boros Reckoner
3 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Blood Baron
1 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Aurelia the Warleader

Spells 25
3 Chained to the Rocks
2 Boros Charm
3 Dreadbore
3 Read the Bones
1 Hero’s Downfall
3 Anger of the Gods
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Rakdos Keyrune
2 Warleader’s Helix
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Assemble the Legion
2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Rakdos’s Return

Land 25
4 Godless Shrine
4 Temple of Silence
4 Sacred Foundry
1 Temple of Triumph
4 Blood Crypt
2 Plains
4 Mountain
1 Swamp

Side 15
1 Mizzium Mortars
3 Thoughtseize
2 Slaughtergames
2 Wear / Tear
3 Shock
2 Glare of Heresy
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Dreadbore

Before going into my games, I had the lad with me running a Gr Devotion deck we built this week. He previous ran a Gb Devotion deck that had a lot of similar stuff, and a Selesnya (GW) Hexproof that I thought he would do well with but was apparently trickier to pilot than I realized. This build aimed more toward pumping mana into hydras, but as you can see, I traded off all my spare Savageborn Hydras. We’d love to have a play set, but what can you do?

The Lad’s Hydra Devotion

Creatures 29
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Voyaging Satyr
3 Karometra’s Acolyte
2 Rubblebelt Raider
4 Mistcutter Hydra
4 Arbor Colossus
1 Savageborn Hydra
3 Polukranos the World Eater
2 Ruric Thar
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Borborygmos Enraged

Spells 8
2 Gruul Charm
3 Clan Defiance
2 Ranger’s Guile
1 Hammer of Purphoros

Land 23
2 Shrine to Nykthos
2 Gruul Guildgate
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Stomping Grounds
2 Mountain
9 Forest

Side 0

The boy did well the first two rounds, putting him to 2-0 and at a higher rank than my early 1-1 record. I do think that his deck with the pair of Ranger’s Guile in it to protect the main powerhouses makes for a much more durable situation. But once you start winning, you get paired up with the guys more my level who devote more time to the game and have greater discipline. No matter how amazing a kid’s deck, and no matter how well it can suit their play style, they can simply be out-played by more seasoned folks. He had fun with it, but burnt out by the end because 40(!) people showed up and it was after midnight before we headed home. That’s 5 hours of gaming, folks. He’s a trooper.

Round 1, Golgari Midrange 2-1.

In the first match, I faced a Golgari (BG) control deck. It was an interesting build, featuring Reaper of the Wilds, Nylea, Erebos, Underworld Connections, and Bubbling Cauldron. I won the first game, never falling below 15 life, though the match went on for a while. His deck had mana acceleration in elves and caryatids, it seemed mostly to power out an early Reaper and try to hold the game from there. But mostly he kept tapping out, which surprised me. There were plenty of times had he been more patient, he could hold back mana to make his Reaper hexproof. But since he didn’t, I killed them regularly until I got a Boros Reckoner and Obzedat online to hold my side and win.

Game 2 I didn’t seem to go anywhere. My notes don’t say anything other than my life dropped sharply. I think I kept a Reckoner on my board, but he had Erebos and Nylea and her Bow running around. Trample and deathtouch get damage through, what can I say? Game 3 was more handily in my control, though he hit me with a lot of Newts early on. I may have taken a mulligan that game. However, it went long and amazingly, I was able to drop an Aurelia and give her double-strike with a Reckoner on the ground to push past the last 10 damage and win. It was quite a finale, as people walking by two turns previous thought I was hosed, but then I pulled out a win. It was very satisfying and just a really fun matchup.

Round 2, Jund Devotion, 0-2.

This second matchup was a non-starter. He was playing an aggro/midrange deck in Jund colors, but I never saw much of it. Both games I got stuck on two mana until the turn I died. The most function I saw of his was a Rubblebelt Raider, Mistcutter Hydra, and Shrine to Nyx. The devotion after playing a Rubblebelt Raider got a decent-sized Hydra and I died shortly thereafter. The last game, I should have used a kill spell rather than run out a Reckoner that got immediately killed before he ended the match.

This one was most frustrating because this is one of those people I just really hate to lose to. There’s an obnoxious and immature vulgarity to him that drives me bonkers, and he talks constantly. By the end of the match, I was really tilting, something I try not to do. I want really hard to be better at this game, and giving this guy a win without even putting up a fight was more painful than it ought to be. It’s just a game, but it’s also my only hobby and outlet.

Round 3, White Token Lifegain, 2-0

This match was fun, but it wasn’t a contest. Playing someone I respect was a relief. But for this night, he was running a silly mono-white deck he threw together based on tokens and lifegain. I really liked the interactions he was playing with, but there’s not much to compete with when I can pull off a turn-four Assemble the Legion and am backed with a Reckoner and removal.

Round 4, Golari Scavenge, 2-1

This was another cool Golgari deck. It featured Varolz the Scar-Striped, Reaper of the Wilds, and Lotleth Troll, all cards I personally like too. However, I don’t think he realized the possibilities of all the regeneration he had. There was a board-wipe I pulled off only because he didn’t realize that he could regenerate Varolz against Anger of the Gods. Anger says creatures that die from that damage are exiled, but if a creature regenerates, then it never dies. But I think people read it as ‘killed and cannot be regenerated’ instead. So that lack of knowledge played into my advantage. But generally, Obzedat unanswered backed with remove will win games, albeit slowly. He had a lot of Wasteland Vipers that kept Oz from attacking in profitably.

Round 5, Mono-White Devotion, 0-2

This was another tilting round for me. He was running mono-white devotion based around Archangel of Thune, Heliod, Ajani, and Spear. After the first game where I was once again stuck on 2 mana, I sided in Shock, Glare of Heresy, and Thoughtseize. But it was for naught. We got to a board stall, where I had a Reckoner and leftover Elspeth soldiers, but he had a Heliod and could pump out tokens. One thing for him that worked was Soul Tithe as removal. He knocked out an early Assemble the Legion because of it. It targets any permanent, so it’s a good way to tie up mana on big things that come out early, and a turn four or five Assemble has to be answered or you will lose to it.

I think I’ve realized tonight that I tilt hard when I lose to obnoxious people. I lose games regularly, but I can do it with a smile and handshake if it’s someone I respect and especially if the game actually plays out and they outplay me. Those are the guys I learn from who will chat about different options after the match is over. Or if it’s a younger player that dumps out their hand and simply gets me before I get them, that’s a good game too (like losing to the boy’s Hydra deck during our testing). I’m fine with that and happy to encourage people along. But when they’re scouting and obnoxious and cussing piles more than necessary, they lose my respect and I really want to beat them. This guy seemed alright when I first met him, and we’ve wound up paired up each week for the past month, but I’ll be glad when he heads back to Wisconsin for school.

Round 6, Dropped

The night was getting long and the boy and I were both out of running for extra wins, so we dropped. I did one extra game for fun with Devon who’s a great deck builder and was running the mirror deck, though with plenty of different cards. He and Tom were great to compare notes with, and I really liked how Mutavault played in Devon’s deck. No creatures on board, but a Rakdos Keyrune and Mutavault in the wings meant he could still whip out 5 damage a turn if the board was clear. He helped convince me that Read the Bones was rough, but perhaps a trio of Magma Jet and more scry land will smooth out those rougher starts. I think I want to lean more on cheaper removal in general. Cheap removal plus awesome creatures that win games on their own sounds like a game plan.


Playing out my deck more and chatting with other players, I think it’s fair to say that they’re right: Read the Bones is not good in my deck. I sided it out regularly because it was dead in my hand. While it’s necessary for me to get more card draw and filtering, Underworld Connections and more scry will be better for it. I picked up another Rackdos’s Return and a fourth Boros Reckoner, and I think they’ll both go in the main, as well as a play set of Thoughtseize. I think wrecking peoples’ hands early, then playing the unbeatable stuff sounds like a stronger way to go.

I do really like the deck. I love having value from everything I play. And you don’t care if things get killed, because they’ll just have to deal with the next big threat that I drop. I didn’t play against any control decks tonight, so that could change more of what I think. I do run two Slaughter Games in the sideboard to get rid of their win conditions (Aetherling, that foul, wonderful, awful card), but the additional discard abilities would probably be be stronger there too.

Not a bad night, and we were glad to leave as a sleet storm was coming in. Roads were gross going home and M had already texted me to be careful. Everyone in the store bid me to be careful out there too. It’s still great to know that it’s a good place we go to when we’re out to game. Other places I’ve heard about can be just terrible to players, but Village Games has really worked hard to build a friendly locale for everyone.

They Are Coming. They Are Here.

Every summer, they invade. Black as pitch and utterly silent. They are an unstoppable force whose only drive is to come after us.

The joys of long, bright days are robbed from us. Every time we go to wash a dish, they are there. Every time to flip on the bathroom light, they are waiting. Every nook and cranny could contain one, watching, waiting.

There are those who claim they are harmless. That they will be here only a month or two then disappear into that good night. Try to ignore the problem and they won’t affect you.

But we know better. We know they are coming for us. Merely scouting now before they can shore up their numbers. Then they will strike, when we have reached our most complacent.

They are ninja bugs. They don’t scurry into a space, they are simply absent one moment and there on the wall the next. No sign of entry. No warning.

They are… Strawberry Root Weevils

More like, Strawberry Root-of-all-Evils!
More like, Strawberry Root-of-all-Evils!

But I say, we shall still fight their black menace.

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in our gardens.
We shall fight in our homes, whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight in the kitchens.
We shall fight in the bathrooms.
We shall fight on the floors
and on the counters
and on the walls.
We shall never surrender.
We shall fight when, even in our darkest hours, when the days are short,
fight until the good, bleak Winter takes down all insectile life once more.

Ocelittle? Ocelot!

Here’s an fascinating fact you probably haven’t heard before. In fact, I only learned* it for the first time right now.

Cats, with their vertical slits for pupils, have a greater range of vision up and down. However, on bright days, that feature–so handy for nabbing varmints while climbing trees–limits their horizontal peripheral vision. That’s why you may see cats weaving their heads back and forth when following the motion of their prey. Use a laser pen and test it if you like. Cats love it!

This side-to-side motion, interestingly enough, is most pronounced on the ocelot. This small cat found in South America is almost constantly waving its head. When the Spanish first found them in Central America, they brought back a few of these curious creatures. While it first entered the Spanish language, it wasn’t long before English traders in the Americas had brought this mini leopard and its name into our lexicon. And its existence as an option for 4th grade research and middle-of-the-line crossword puzzle answers alike continued through time.

Over the years, spellings of things shift. Case in point, pronounce Worcestershire Sauce to yourself. Don’t try too hard, everyone is wrong. Always. So though variations on ocelot happened, mostly by association. By the 20th century, electric motors were being placed in every device possible, much like computer chips today. Through clever mechanisms on top of the motors, they were able to make devices that changed directions at specific intervals. The most notable invention was to mount a fan on such a servo.

Everything today still has a trail going back into history, and this fan needed a name in order to be marketable. The new “Fanning Fan” sounded ridiculous. So they went with the scientific term that originated with our titular feline: the oscillating fan.

*”learned” here means discovered by epiphany. No research was involved (or required).

Etymology of the Papacy

As you may or must have heard by now, Pope Benedict XVI has stepped down from office before his term was up. Or, to be more ambiguous, before his term was laid to rest alongside his cousin(?) (I’m not Catholic, so I don’t know the family structure between the Pope and ol’ JC.)

In light of this news, I thought it’d be beneficial to know the proper wordage for handling a world with multiple Popes.

A group of popes is known as a popery, similar to a nunnery or a nursery. If you’re talking about separate groups of popes, then you are speaking of disparate poperies.

When referring to a pope when there are other living single vessels of God hanging around the house, it’s best to refer to them by their papal name. However, sometimes casually you’ll just mention ‘the pope’ and unfortunately forcing a conversation regarding which one. For quick reference, until time sorts out the problem, here is your two-pope solution: Refer to the yet-to-be-named pope as ‘the new pope’ while former pope Benedict XVI can be referred to as the shadow pope or the sleepy pope. Once again, one simple snarky adjective can make a world of difference!

The history of the term popery is a fascinating one. Because as I’m sure has been mentioned, a pope hasn’t stepped down from his high chair since 1415. The world has changed a great deal in those nigh-on six centuries. Back in the early 15th Century, when dealing with the last papal resignation, the people of the time were still hesitant to bathe properly. So while there was a popery in Rome, each pope would don different perfumes to distinguish themselves. It is surprising how easy it is to mix up guys wearing pointy white hats (just ask the KKK!)

These different scents were very particular and known across Europe, even as far as the British Isles. England, home of my native tongue, was still heavily influenced by the Norman French ruling class at that time. And this is why to this day we have a French word and spelling for a bouquet of scents: potpourri.

Kids for Thanksgiving

Editor’s note: this post was half written in my queue and I don’t know why I never really hit publish. It’s been trying to get myself to do much of anything, to say the least. So let’s hear it for an adorable pick-me-up.

I have cute kids. Most of the time, they’re what keep me getting up each morning. That and they’re the ones waking me up.

This first group is from November 3rd. Austin and I were just playing cards on the floor one morning and I had to do something to keep the Little Sister™ at bay. My attempt failed and she took my phone instead. Below is her discovering the video mode.

[The beard is leftover from the 2012 Baseball Postseason. You’re all welcome.]

I still have no clue what’s going on.

From November 13th. The lad’s teacher put his artwork on a background to frame it. Mighty proud. Both him and me.

From November 17th. I don’t remember if this was M or the Lass snapping this picture. I really forget just how thin my hair is anymore.

And later that day while I’m out doing yardwork, the girlie is rocking the training wheels.

Last, from November 20th. Just my pair o’ kids. They may drive me crazy in their own special ways, but these two absolutely adore each other. Once they’re older and they rise up against me, I’m doomed. Oh hell, we all know I already am.

And later that day, probably while I’m making lunch and watching Colbert, someone just has to butt in and strike a pose for attention. I believe the outfit was entirely of her choosing.

And there went November. Sorry for the delay!

Vote 2012

My fellow Americans,

I wish to confer to you my reasoning behind voting to re-elect Barack Obama for President, and generally voting across the board for the Democratic Party.

I graduated from college in 2006 and walked straight into trying to support a family. By 2008, we were a family of four and watched the value of our one asset collapse, while also witnessing stagnation in both our careers. We luckily never were out of work, but those external stresses were there. They are still there today in different forms. This situation of ours, combined with how successful our international policy has been, is why I intend to vote for Obama and the Democrats yet again.

There are a good number of reasons not to vote for President Obama again. The unilateral use of drone strikes to kill even US citizens is beyond reproach. While ending the use of torture by the government, indefinite detention and Guantanamo still remain. And generally the increase in power of the Executive has continued unabated through the Bush Jr era and beyond.

That said, there are plenty of good reasons to vote to reelect the President. He signifies a major turnaround in our relations with the rest of the world. I think it may be forgotten just how hated our country was in 2004. Obama managed to end the war in Iraq and has planned out the end in Afghanistan. He handled Libya well and managed to repair relations with Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia.

As much as this is about the head of our federal government, it is never wise to discount the fact we are not alone in this world. We operate incredibly interconnectedly, more so than most imagine. I think many people see the world as it was when Marx and Engels were writing in the 1840s. The intricacies of international business and politics are staggering. And having someone with a reasoned and pragmatic temperament on the global stage is best. Obama has been a tremendous success at this. Romney would be too much of an empty suit, built only to pander toward his own success, to delicately approach China or Russia or even the United Kingdom.

Domestically, I have seen large reforms for the organization of our national health care system come to pass. Not without pains, not without sausage, not without compromise, but it got pushed through with Obama’s leadership. I wouldn’t characterize a mandate to buy private insurance as socialism, particularly since we have to do it for our homes and cars by order of the law at a state level. When it comes to medical expenses, if those bills are largely footed by the federal government, then it makes sense for it to be a federal mandate. Mostly for me, it gets us one step closer to being like car insurance in that it belongs to the individual household, not to the employer. Having it tied to the employer, I know first hand, is a tremendously limiting factor burdening we middle class folks. Plus I do agree with so many of the provisions in it, as do most Republicans. They just hate that Obama’s name is on it.

This gets to the crux of why I cannot fathom voting for any Republicans since I was first able to vote in 2002. Especially now when the entire platform is devoted to generating a sense of fear regarding a fellow citizen and sitting President, it’s almost an anti-personality cult. There is no reasoning behind it, and in fact much of the nonsense spewed by leaders of the party is reprehensible.

Nevermind the proudly ignorant attitude toward women and minorities. People who have no grasp on how a human is conceived, and no clue that a full half of all fertilized human eggs are passed out through the regular menstrual cycle, should never be allowed to represent anyone, let alone influence legislation dictating how a woman should handle her body. If my wife were raped, these people would insist that she carry the rapist’s seed to term, that she and our family should be put through that nightmare, and that we should be thankful to God it wasn’t a legitimate rape, otherwise her body would have stopped it from happening. And while those who have said such things aren’t in my district, they are funded and supported and are voted alongside by others of this party.

The GOP has a terrible cancer attached to it, and it’s killing their conservatism. If they were properly conservative, they would be non-interventionist and mindful of societal change. They would work in small steps to make things better, not fighting the existence of themselves altogether. The argument would be ‘why would we need a giant new department, what if we just added a small section to a working department we already have?’

I don’t think that conservatives deserve the title anymore. Conserving or rationing or reasoned apportionment don’t enter into the rhetoric anymore. Now it’s a reactionary extremism bolstered by religious fanatacism. As someone who knows the first amendment protects not only my rights as an atheist but also each and every denomination’s right to not be under the thumb of any other, I am completely rejected by their support of religion-infused mal-education. Tolerance means live and let live. You’re not required to participate in what you disagree with, but you’re not allowed to dictate your views onto the system either.

Mitt Romney does nothing but pander. I don’t see him as an ideologue, though he picked one as a running mate. I see a man who does well when working toward his own benefit and goes on the advice of those who helped put him where he is. None of that sounds terrible until you realize just what environment he would swirl into place around him. The section of society that has funded his ascention to party nomination are there for themselves and willing to step on the backs of those with relgion- and poverty-based fears about their own lives. If the Presidency and the House are captured by this batch of Republicans, then I don’t think it too hyperbolic to say we would be pained socially and economically for decades forth. And nevermind the international relations problem of a trigger-happy supermilitary the likes of which would bring a tear and a grimace to Eisenhower.

While the President may well be amenable to reducing the power of the office by the end of his tenure, the real work rests on the shoulders of Congress. Congress, remember that thing? The proper representative of the will of the people? Congress needs to grow healthy and strong once again. There is reason why the President has had to go the route of unchecked power: Congress doesn’t check it anymore. Congress has had a growing cancer of ignorance and intolerance that became institutionalized by 1994. Since the “revolution”, rather than being a general balance and reign on executive action, the opposite party of the President has been solely reactionary. And now since 2010, we have seen this become fully aged and fermented.

Some dark underpinnings of the Republican party have come to bear these past four years. Where there should be considered opposition to the actions of the President, any President who say fired drones in a sovereign ally (Pakistan) without notice, instead we got members of Congress, on the floor, on our time and our dime, saying that secret Muslims have infiltrated high levels of our government. Rather than members of Congress checking the power of the Presidency and taking back their powers to begin wars, we have people who disavow science, evolution, and have no idea how human reproduction works on house education and technology committees. This does not befit the most powerful and advanced nation on the planet.

In conclusion I cannot see myself voting anything but Democrat for some time to come. I may disagree with some or many of their positions, but they really are the party of inclusion. That inclusion also involves ideas. The Democrats are a party willing to listen to difference of opinion.

The current Republican party I can’t see being willing to hear an outside voice calling for a reduction in Presidential power. Can’t be willing to hear the science that birth control reduces both lost zygotes and abortions. Can’t be bothered to compromise and find a working halfway point.

The Republican party needs to knocked out and their cancer cut out. The party is rotting something terrible, and not even having a rational second party is even more detremental to our republic. Vote no to Republicans, knock them out, and give them time to go to rehab and clean up their act. Only after that could I see myself ever voting their way again.

A couple parting thoughts:

  • If you really are undecided at this point, don’t vote. If you can’t tell the difference, if you don’t see a worthwhile adjustment to our leadership, then don’t bother. Your indecisiveness won’t affect the election and you don’t care about your will anyway. Vote for the few things you have decided on and leave the rest blank. I’d really love to have the campaigning peter out at the end of October just to give us all a mental break to compile our own opinions.

  • A vote for a third party is a vote thrown away at the national level. It’s a novel idea that other parties could have a voice, especially since we’re the 3rd largest country in the world. But these parties need to kick off regionally, and voting third party nationally just adds waste to the vote and can often rob us of qualified people.

  • My district is number 6 in Minnesota. I am represented by Michele Bachmann. So I really get to feel the pain of being represented by pure, uncut absurdity. If she is re-elected, I’ll be waiting to hear when she declares that the spirits of aborted fetuses are haunting the halls of Congress and will await Bill Murray’s return to push for efforts banning contraception and education for girls.