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.

Just Some Nonsense…

Apparently all other Veep picks Palin comparison.
To be honest, I can’t figure out McCain’s reasoning. At all. He doesn’t know this person. McCain met Palin once before in person, and who knows how few phone calls. Reading blog commentary for a day has not been kind.

Palin has been governor of a rather different (often self-admittedly so) state, Alaska, for less than two years. She’s a young mother of five children, and has some strict conservative Christian values.

So we have youth and anti-abortion, two factors that McCain has lacked on. Check, and check. It all sounds like five schlubs went down a list of McCain’s weaker points (according to them) and then just picked someone who fit the bill, regardless of what they bring to the table.

What does McCain have? Experience. Sure. Many, many decades of it. Obviously we have no need for that in a next in line to a President with ailing health and two war fronts. We don’t need someone who will have to spend a good deal of time relearning and researching what is going on in the world and the wars.

And while I have no issues with McCain picking a woman as his number two, it seems to me that there should be plenty of other candidates who would meet those two qualifiers along with having some extensive foreign policy experience.

This leads me to see it as pure pandering to disaffected Clinton supporters. I have no doubts that the various GOP leadership in McCain’s campaign team were thinking that most people were voting for Clinton because she’s a woman, therefore Palin will get those women voters to vote for McCain. Certainly all women think alike. After all, in these peoples minds, I am sure that all women are on the same cycle that can be timed with the tides.

Perhaps I am just overreacting. This is just an initial reaction. But it seems to me that when comparing McCain to Obama, and comparing their biggest executive decisions since deciding to run campaigns, McCain just lost the election.

Obama’s Speech Tonight…

For once, I called dibs on the television and made sure my life was tranquil for 90 minutes. And I watched Obama accept the Democratic nomination for President. Hearing the crowd roar and seeing it with faces to the podium was moving enough, really.
I have checked out for most of the convention. I’d been following some things via blogs and listening to NPR while traipsing over my new commute. This is the week before school begins, and I have about 150 newly created computer stations to ensure are running properly.

I wish I had seen Michelle Obama’s speech. From what I heard, it was phenomenal. I think I’ll look it up and have my wife watch it with me at some point.

But tonight’s speech… it was good. Really good. It was to the point. And man oh man, I hope that it really killed the nonsense about questioning patriotism and comparing celebrity.

What it wasn’t, it wasn’t King. Which is good, because it wasn’t meant to be. Yes it came on the anniversary of that day. And some parts were evoked for sure. But it wasn’t the time or the place for that. One never really knows when it will be, and that is important.

Obama is a grand speaker. I love him for that alone. And while this speech wasn’t I Have a Dream, it had its moments.

Living up to the hopes of his grandparents, that struck a chord with me. America retaining its title as the world’s last, best hope. The promise of dignity while disagreeing. The promise to our gay brothers and sisters. The promise to his daughters.

As an aside, right here: This man wins me over with his rhetoric with regards to his daughters. I don’t think it’s something I could appreciate as I do if I didn’t just have one of my own. I’ve had my son for years now. He’s my boy. I’m as proud and defensive of him as anyone could be of their own. But I have to say there is something special about a father’s mindset when it comes to his daughters. It’s strange, and absolutely no more or less loving than of sons. When Obama stated so loud and clear that his daughters deserve equal pay for equal work, he’s goddamned right.

I don’t know how better to describe that feeling. I’m making a sticky to return to it.

I’m glad I watched that piece of history tonight. I still and will forever regret missing seeing him in person here in the Twin Cities when he sealed the nomination.

There were a couple of things I wished were in the speech. I thought he could have mentioned Joe Biden a couple of times, if nothing else than to say the two of them would work toward some goals. But I wish I wish I wish he could have debunked ethanol. And above everything else, I wish he could have called out the torture carried out by the Bush Administration.

However, one really can’t. I still blame President Clinton and Newt Gingrich that we cannot. Because, for the sake of all that is good, endorsing torture is an impeachable offense. The bar is too low and it’s too soon and too partisan for another impeachment.

I really am digressing a lot in digesting tonight’s speech. Obama did great, and I really am hoping he swept some bullshit out of the stalls. I am thinking this will knock wind out of McCain’s sails and bring about better chances at better debates and better policy speeches.


I recently listened to a Bloggingheads diavlog between one of my favorite bloggers, Megan McArdle, and Ann Althouse. As an aside, I think Bloggingheads is really cool. I like the idea of a solid forty-minute conversation between educated people who often disagree. I would totally dig a chance to do one someday.
Anyway, one point they brought up was wondering why exactly McCain was gaining in the polls on Obama. Both of them really had no idea. It has been quiet on the front, and that’s why silly stuff keeps cropping up (eg, the quantity of McCain properties.)

I think the recent McCain rise is from the amount of media attention. It’s basically a situation that exemplifies ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’. I see it as the fact people talk about what McCain is up to far more than what Obama is doing.

This illustrates what is actually a problem for Obama. He’s boring. Not his speaking or his politics, those are great qualities, the best in a long time. But personally, he’s boring. Obama’s not a cheatin’ womanizer, not an almost legally retarded champion of evil, and not an increasingly crazy old coot. Obama is a good, smart, clean, Christian family man.

Bo-ring! (a la Homer Simpson)

I’m not sure what will help Obama against McCain in this regard. McCain is a celebrity spotlight-monger.

I should also illustrate that even though the polls are saying that McCain is gaining, I don’t follow polls. I have my doubts they take into account the countless newly registered Democrat voters.

Also, no pollster has ever called me. And because that very important piece of the puzzle is missing, I say the polling data is incomplete and inherently inaccurate.

Statistics be damned.

Deep Breath…

I know that mash-ups are intentionally biased. And for once in my own opinions on candidates for an election (at least for one office) weren’t a choice between the lesser of two evils. I have actually enjoyed donating to someone running for things I believe in. But this really does a good job of sealing the deal for not electing someone.

(Found via Sullivan.)

Please do not accuse me of agism, because we all have brain flatulence at times (I probably more than average.) However, being so out of it as to mistake major players on the international stage does implicate one as utterly unqualified for the post of President of the United States.

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.

Quiet After the Storm…

I haven’t blogged about the results of the Pennsylvania primaries because, well, I’ve been busy.  Plus what came out of Pennsylvania is what I dreaded: enough of a win to justify the Clintons remaining in this hair-pulling race.  What I think it really showed is the huge disparity between those over and those under the age of forty.
How wonderful for those older folks to remember with solidarity all the victories and successful endeavors of Ms Clinton.  I know she has done so much for helping the Gay community, the poor, the whole of World Peace.  And let’s not forget about women.  Playing the gender card, claiming the boys are picking on her, crying for the camera (make sure it was zoomed in to her better side!), and being married to the right guy has all done so much for the advancement of the female half of our population.

Nevermind that winning without a consideration of what group or minority one belongs to is an actual victory.