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.

Steve Calls It…

Steve Jobs calls it for Hillary Clinton.  Actually, what I really like is Jobs calling her “the Hildebeast”.
Speaking of Steve Jobs, here’s my reply to a coworker who mocked me for converting her to Apple computers (she just got a MacBook and is looking at iPods):

Yeah, soon enough we’ll get you a prayer mat with an Apple logo on it, and five times a day you’ll bow your head toward Cupertino and praise Jobs.

We Did It…

Catching up with the primary results from last night, it appears we did it.  Obama held a nearly 15 point lead in North Carolina and crushed the Clintons’ lead in Indiana to a mere 2.  Delegate-wise, Obama netted 12 more over the Clintons, so once again the math is increasingly against them.
And then there is the popular turnout.  In Lake County, Indiana, outside of Chicago, there was a 95% voter turnout.  I have never heard of such a number.  People were saying the norm is around 20-25%.  Obama helped draw out nearly every single registered voter.  That is what this man brings to the table.  It is incredible, and I am happy to be a witness to it.

I do not know when I was thinking, which is odd as it is such a rare occurrence these days.  I am sure it was while taking a shower.  Good thinking happens in the shower.

Anyway, I was thinking about this election and my kids.  My son is heading right into five, my daughter is less than two months old.  When I was born, Ronald Reagan was President.  My first understanding of politics was when I was six, I think.  I have a vague recollection of being in first grade and gathering that our President was George Bush (now the first).  So that would have been about in 1989.

Back to my kids.  I don’t mention to my son that there is an election underway, a big one, probably because I don’t want to have to explain Bush II to him.  I am just going with the assumption that Obama is elected President (with 90% turnout and 70% of the vote, of course).  By the time my daughter becomes politically aware, Obama’s second term could be wrapping up.  My son would not yet have a memory of a white man being President.

How cool is that?

Almost as cool as this quote.

Last Night’s Garbage…

After class last night, I headed straight home.  I sat down on the couch and turned on my television and had the thought in the back of my head, ‘I wonder if the debate is still on.’  So I managed to find it in its last half hour and left it on while I checked some sites live-blogging the event.
Having read up to 9:30, it became readily apparent how awful the whole thing was.  Both candidates were obviously exhausted, and the entire first hour, it seemed, focused on useless gaffe-repair and media-only issues.  Not a word on health care (my favorite boring topic), social security, the war in Iraq, nothing.  Nothing of consequence.

So I turned it off.  I read up and watched for ten minutes, and it was all I could take.  I felt completely reassured that television beyond Comedy Central is useless for getting the news.  Still, I’m glad I pay for cable to at least get baseball and hockey games and some Thomas and Friends on demand.

I could not watch the rest.  But I am a little sorry I did not last.  Apparently, even the audience hated the show so much, they booed the moderators (who were definitely mostly at fault; those questions were asinine).  And the submit a comment section at ABC made me happy.  It is really, really, really good to know that Americans are absolutely sick of being pandered to, played with, and thought nothing of.  We are the original self-governors, and we want our wisdom to be given its due!

Here’s a lovely snippet from the Huffington Post.

Video For Thought…

When’s the last time you heard a legitimate politician say such honest things?  Think about it.


Remember not even ten years ago?  The Clintons are liars and, dare I say it, selfish monsters.  In my brief lifetime, I have never lived under an honest leader I am aware of.  Other than my parents, of course.

No wonder I lean most toward libertarianism.

On Tuesday…

Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn.
It still doesn’t give the Clintons a delegate lead, and the Texas caucases, like its predecessors, should go for Mr Obama.  But still this will go on.  And on.  And on.  It makes life tougher for Mr McCain, who I will vote for, who I will falsify election numbers for if the Clintons get it, because he has to campain against two contestants that have the greater favor across the country.

One thing, after all of Tuesday’s nonsense, has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt: Ohio truly is the dumbest state in the Union.