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.

I’m Still Here

All reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

I am in fact still alive and well, my silly California-raised self in the Midwest. Due to magically unforeseen budget shortfalls (wait for it) on behalf of my local school district, we are closing eight (8) schools this summer. One of which is a middle school that is melding with my own. So they hired me and my closed-school counterpart to wipe out and pack up both schools in preparation for next year.

In short, I have been hired on for extra hours through the end of the month. So not only am I working when I previously thought not, I was also fully informed of it a week before I would begin. M and I have been scrambling to figure out where on Earth our children should go. And we, being the impoverished homebody black sheep that we are, have not yet established a strong network for impromptu child support.

At least this week has been very productive, to the point of being over halfway finished with a three-week project in four days. Best to tackle overwhelming projects like a well-trained wolverine, I suppose.

I am not in the process of going into blog-suicide by talking about not writing. I’m just busier lately, and shorter evenings are spent recovering from more intensely laborious work during the day (read: old computers are fucking heavy!) with a cold beer and attempting to remember to breath from the gut instead of the shoulders.

I do want to apologize for the lack of pictures of the local offspring. We’ve been lax for sure, but May into June is simply second only to the Thanksgiving to New Years gauntlet in terms of ‘things going on’. I hope to make it up to you soon.

Through it all, though, I make room to be creative. Here is the email I sent out to my building’s faculty today, warning them of impending doom:

Greetings One and All Summerites!

Starting today and through a fortnight, I shall be declaring war on information by calling forth the demons from the fiery pits of our servers, flinging their evil across the Ether(net) to destroy everything held dear on each and every computer at our institute of learning! MWAHAHA! If you wish to save your precious Data, I will listen to your pleas, whither electronic or vocal, with utter delight and amusement! Rest assured, though, my wrath shall be wrought no matter what you say!


I’m erasing the computers. Talk to or email me if you need help saving stuff or need use of your computer for a longer time. Don’t call, I won’t be at my room much.

Have a fun summer. Don’t forget to read a book.

A good book. None of that Twilight nonsense.



PS, MWAHAHAHA! (Sinister laugh)

Actually, looking back, I’ll probably take some shit about the Twilight thing.

Creativity and smarts ain’t the same thing, is they?


As I was getting my bag ready for work this morning, I pulled out some papers left from last week. They were work from my son’s school. Glancing through them while setting them aside, I found he had started doing more work for grammar. He is now identifying adjectives.
My son is 6. He is very much a six year old, oft found bouncing off the walls pretending to be inside a video game. He is the epitome of a six year old boy.

My son is six and knows what an adjective is.

This is added to the list of nouns, verbs, articles, and prepositions he already knows about.

I explained this to him last week: I didn’t start learning grammar until 8th Grade. Until I was 13. Over twice his age. And I didn’t even fully grasp it until 9th Grade when I had an awesome English teacher who kicked my butt. And I was one of the bright kids. Plenty of people I knew, even while in the midst of coursework, couldn’t point out a noun even if it bit them in the face.

My bouncing boy of six is learning grammar nearly ten years before I did and, as his teacher told me early last week, he just gets it.

Let this wash away any doubts about the self-directing, self-correcting Montessori method of education.

That, and my son is a genius.

That is all.


The election is over, you can stop with the nonsense. I find it hard to believe, though not impossible, that this person really thinks that the next President is going to create a gestapo in the US. I suppose that seems entirely possible after what has been done in the past eight years.

But let us take a step back. Do the conditions exist to create a Nazi America with Obama as Der Führer?

First, we need to have lost an entire generation to a war to end all wars. From there, as a large, naturally industrious nation, we need to be plunged into a treaty arrangement stripping us of all we work for. As icing for this cake made of something unmentionable, we then need to be churned through a decade-long depression with not only half the populous out of work, but also inflation where our currency value becomes hyperbolic to zero.

Now that we have our cake, we can eat it too! So we will need a people who have a not-too-distant history of being ruled by a tyrant or monarch. When charisma wins over law and order, then we can wind up with a maniac who will be allowed to dissolve any democratic functions of our government and start finding scapegoats everywhere. And finally, to finish the story, we get to be bullied by fear into thinking the smoke from the chimneys of labor camps full of people from the countries we invaded are really just the foreign visitors enjoying some s’mores.

So there we can see our country is perfectly poised to enjoy a National Socialist party.

You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I’m not comparing [Barack Obama] to Adolf Hitler. What I’m saying is there is the potential.

At least Broun will have company since my district was loony enough to re-elect a member of the McCarthy Mouse Club, Michele Bachmann.

Continue reading

From Asymmetrical Information…

McArdle makes an interesting and valid point.

I confess, I didn’t see this coming:  California votes yes on Proposition 8.  I do think, though, that the success of anti-gay-marriage initiatives reinforces something I strongly believe:  the issue was pressed too quickly, and in the wrong venue.  Using the courts to establish a right to gay marriage made opponents feel threatened, and railroaded.  If socially conservative voters hadn’t felt they needed to protect themselves from activist judges, we wouldn’t be seeing these provisions written into state constitutions.  Few of them would probably have bothered to vote out legislators who voted for gay marriage five years from now.  But with it on the ballot, in front of them, and worries that judges would make the decision unless they did, they shot it down even in California.

In general, courts are the wrong place to press these sorts of claims.  The courts were appropriate for civil rights because blacks were literally denied the right to participate in the legislative democratic process.  And on a practical level, they worked becaus a majority of people in the country were more than happy to force civil rights on an unhappy white southern minority.  Unfortunately, too many groups have decided that the success of civil rights can be widely applied to circumvent the electorate on issues where there is no public consensus.  Now widespread gay marriage seems quite a bit less likely for the near term than it would have been had we attacked the issue legislatively.

That’s not to say I’m not still dead pissed off at its passage.

Prop 8 Fail…

Well, despite all the beauty and hope of yesterday, a dark stain remains. The success of Prop 8 in eradicating marriages that rightly belonged to those people who made the vows is proof positive that one minority with a bunch of money can crush the rights of another minority who never meant them any harm.
Can we now pass an amendment divorcing us from Utah?


Yes, we can. We elected this man our President because we believe that we can affect change in our lives, in our land, in our history. It’s on us. We can do this. We picked some great people to inspire us. And we can rise above this long, grueling campaign. We will persevere through the hard times still to come. And we will never doubt,
Yes, we can.

May I…

May I be so bold as to say that McCain’s concession speech was a good one. He said things well, and he was right (except for even bringing up Palin’s name).

The crowd with him? That was his base. They were booing the next President before he even took the oath of office. He wanted those rude, awful people to vote for him. His campaign dug for the grime at the bottom of the barrel, and he got it. In the future, people will deny the fact they voted McCain/Palin.


I don’t like how things are called just from exit polls, but here we are. I knew it was going to happen, so I can only smile now.
We did it. We won. We’re getting our country back. I’ve missed it. My children get to grow up in a land where our highest office is run with dignity and respect. They get to grow up where a black man being President is history. I envy them for that. But my son can always say he cast my ballot for Barack Obama.

I want to just weep with joy.

But I can’t yet. I still wait on California. I still wait to know if so many friends of mine get to keep their equal rights…