Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Vice Presidential Debate

The Presidential Debate nearly made me ill. That person has somehow found a way for me to like him even less. I’m sure he’ll release a tweetstorm about himself during the debate tonight as well. Thankfully, Pence should be a bit more behaved – he’s a lapdog, but he does sometimes display some characteristics of respectable breeding. I’m going to give it at try. It doesn’t bring me pleasure.

2059: Access Hollywood tape 4 years ago today. One of the million things that should have prevented this.

2102: New England Journal of Medicine just endorsed a candidate for the first time in their 208 years. That’s because Trump is the worst human to be “leading” us through a pandemic.

2105: Mike Pence totally forgot to remove the plug from his butt before he walked out.

2105: Pence looks wayyy worse than he did the last time I looked at him. He looks crusty. But he still has that glimmer in his eye.

2107: Something is funny with Pence’s eye. Covid? In his eyeball?!

2109: Pence looks so excited to tell us about the 210K dead people. Why are we so dead?

2111: Licking the boots, but…why are we so much WORSE than the rest of the world? Even if we did the things he said we did (which we didn’t), why are we so dead. Ms Harris points this out well.

2113: She shut him down, pow.

2115: Pence is pretty good at this. They asked him why the President ignores his regulations, and he says we should have the right to infect everyone around us if we’re idiots.

2118: These people are so old.

2119: The irony of Pence and vaccines. The irony of “stop playing politics in people’s lives.” Holy moly. This is rich. The Swine Flu, which killed a few thousand people, he’s ridiculous here.

2123: I admire Harris for not answering Pence’s utterly stupid assertion that the Swine Flu was somehow worse than this – everyone’s like, uhhh, I don’t remember that…uhh, was it like this? I can’t remember? Instead, she did the normal tangential sort-of-answer to the question.

2125: I think the Pence’s hair is painted on.

2128: This is an appropriate debate. It’s chippy in the right kind of way.

2129: Spool up the conspiracy theories “great segue” as though Harris knew the topics. But, as you know…the topics…are pretty clear…aren’t they?

2131: All of these people are nuts on the economy.

2134: If Trump is not tweeting, he’s not well.

2136: Lots of hands. Meanwhile, I heard that Trump was going to have a new health plan in 2 weeks.

2139: Hello: Donald Trump will listen to climate science? Are you #$%#’ing kidding me?! Get out of here. This is an absurd point. Trump could not give a single f#$% about the environment.

2141: Meh, he’s wrong on Hurricanes.

2143: Pattern that they don’t believe in science. I mean, I don’t need to hear much more of this. They are having a reasonable debate here. Harris is doing great. But Pence is fine too. He’s not doing a bad job here. He’s measured and eloquent.

2145: The Green New Deal is a gimmick. The idea is in the right place, but it’s a poison pill. How about 20 100 billion dollar deals over the next 10 years.

2149: Good news to Progressives! Harris is the most liberal member of the Senate! More Bernie Sanders than Bernie Sanders!

2150: Incidentally, most American Covid cases are from Europe.

2152: It’s actually 215,822 at the moment, not 210,000. Two more 9/11’s since 210K.

2155: Foreign policy – a disaster, because they don’t actually do that work. Trump doesn’t do any of that stuff.

2159: Here’s the Suckers and Losers part – she snuck this in! Wowser! What’s in it for him. She’s nailing him to the wall on this. Damn.

2202: Moderator is doing pretty well here.

2203: Harris should give Pence a few seconds to answer whether he’d ban abortion.

2206: It must be frustrating to be a moderator. You think you’ve got a great question. And then neither of them answer it.

2210: Change the rules if they don’t like it. Meanwhile. how many of his appointees are just “acting” despite what the “rules” say.

2215: Harris is strong on justice and race. Pence is going to talk about defunding and ignore Black people.

2216: State of the Union tactics from Pence here – I have these people in the audience.

2217: Umm, America IS systemically racist. Police DO have anti-Black biases.

2219: There’s a fly on his head because he’s a rotting corpse. It smells the Covid.

2220: It’s impossible to keep track of all the terrible things Trump has done over the past 4 years.

2221: President Trump knows a Jewish guy!

2223: Somebody in the audience has a Covid cough.

2226: We’re going to win this election, despite being down 14%. “Every walk of *uneducated white guy* life.”

2229: Mike Pence: Great Question, if Donald Trump is elected president he won’t be a national embarrassment.

2231: Which candidate will have you come together? Trump or Biden? Not Pence or Harris – Pence is a normal, complicit human.

2234: Everyone in the audience is wearing a mask (except for Karen)


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Presidential Debate #1, Live Blog

I will be live blogging a few minutes before the start of the debate. At the moment, I’m trying to hack Joe Biden’s hearing aid so that I can try to make him look smarter than Donald Trump. Be back in 45 minutes!

I just spent an hour listening to an excellent presentation by the Maryland Native Plant Society on native grasses for garden and meadow. I have both a garden and a meadow. Anyway, exciting. Years ago, my first long backpacking trip was in Glacier National Park. I flew back with a stopover in O’Hare. It was a jolt, a total shock to the system. Transitioning from a seminar on native grasses to this is going to be utterly jarring.

2055: Bourbon is not my favorite. But this is an American presidential debate, and so, for tonight, an American whiskey. Basil Hayden is the bottle. It’s sweet, very sweet.

2057: It’ll be CBS tonight. I’m looking for something not entirely biased.

2059: There’s a show called Love Island where a bunch of couples sleep in beds 3 feet from each other and make-out.

2101: We’re at 7.3 MILLION cases and 210 THOUSAND deaths. It would have been tough to do worse.

2104: I don’t know any of these CBS people. Chris Wallace, you’re on the air. Chris? Chris?

2105: You can see Trump’s people in the audience, as they are not wearing masks. How quickly does Trump go low here?

2106: Question to Trump: The Supreme Court. Answer from Trump: He is answering the question. The answer is correct. It’s about power, and the Democrats would do the same thing.

2108: Biden has a weak hand on the Supreme Court. Yes, there is gruesome hypocrisy. Biden is mixing his Roe v Wade and ACA arguments together, by the way.

2111: I appreciate that their heads are centered on the green screen in such a way that the words are at the same place with respect to their ears.

2112: I am the party. This debate isn’t going to continue.

2113: What is Donald Trump’s plan? He really sucks, as a human.

2117: Trump is pushing Biden against Sanders, which is a good plan. He cannot stop interrupting, it is absurd. I can’t watch this.

2120: Biden just hit him pretty well there. It is true, he has no plan.

2121: Will this be the only debate? They have to have them in separate rooms with mikes that can be cut off.

2123: It is was it is because you are who you are. Yep.

2124: Millions would have died…hello! We are substantially worse than the rest of the world. He could have not done a much worse job.

2127: Trump, do we love pharmaceutical companies or hate them?

2129: I watched the bleach news conference. It was not sarcastic. He thought he came up with something awesome. He wanted it to be named the Trump Treatment.

2130: Biden has calmed down nicely. Trump had calmed down too until he called Joe the dumbest guy around – this is a rock fight.

2132: Objective fact, 210,000 deaths, contradicts everything that Trump says. But people will believe it.

2135: I am not paid to watch this, I have no blog anymore?

2137: Ask Herman Cain whether the rallies are safe.

2137: Not sure what K would mean on a plot.

2141: You can’t fix the economy until you fix the Covid crisis.

2142: They need to cut the mikes.

2144: I paid millions of dollars, except that I took advantage of the tax laws to not pay any taxes.

2147: He is literally bronze, like the Colossus or something.

2149: All right, I’m out. Let me know if a push-up contest breaks out.

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On the School Board

If you told me a year ago that I would have opinions on the Board of Education, I would have thought you were crazy. I always read the bios and do my research before an election, but never had any personal opinions. This all changed about a year ago when my neighborhood was suddenly thrust into a heated redistricting debate in the 11th hour. The details aren’t important. In fact, at the time, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Eventually, I began organizing with some neighbors and fought hard to oppose the move. We lost, just barely. In the end, I went back to not being sure how I felt about it – in fact, I’m really completely fine with our new Elementary school. As I generally support the concepts driving the redistricting, my opposition was more NIMBY (not in my backyard) than anything.

Throughout that process, however, I got to know much more about the BoE members. Hosting one in my house as part of our Hail Mary play for a reversal of the redistrict was one of the highlights of the old days, 2019, back when the world was a simple place. I had the privilege of speaking to several on the phone (as a participant in group calls) and getting some insight into the inner workings of the Board. I also watched dozens of hours of BoE meetings.

And…now I have opinion on the Board of Education. With an election a month away, I thought I would share them, to anyone who cares. I am going to use initials. I don’t want to get into a debate on the topic with random Googlers. Further, these are neighbors and local politicians – though I will be honest, I will not say anything that I wouldn’t say if I were speaking to someone in their campaign, for instance. Not all of the BoE is up for election this cycle. I also don’t have any strong opinions on the non-incumbent candidates (though I know who I will be voting for in my district). For what it’s worth, the election process has changed, and you now vote by region.

So, just looking at the incumbents, and I have three categories: Would Support, It’s Complicated, and Would Not Support.

Before I get into that, I’ve got to start with the Elephant in the Room, JM. I respect the hell out of JM as a strategic thinker. She’s ferocious, savvy, and driven. She is an extremely skilled planner who, by her force of character and competence, dominates the majority voting block on the board. That said, I put her into the “It’s Complicated” category. She is an ends-justify-the-means politician who would exploit loopholes and strongarm her fellow board members to achieve her goals.

This is a County school board. I think I’d support her were she to run for a statewide office or a House of Representative’s office, but the bull-in-a-chinashop approach to managing our schools was too much for me. If JM were in the political minority on the Board, I think she’d be a great counter-balance to the majority opinion, but as it stands, she’s too potent an influence. When JM leads the majority, there’s almost no point in having anyone else in the room.

I really am torn on her – I’d want to hire her, for instance, but kind of don’t want her dictating elementary school policies. I generally agree with her political stances, but don’t like her scorched earth approach. Anyway, since she is the specter that looms over the rest of the board, I wanted to get her out of the way first. In any case, I’m in District 2, and she is not, so I don’t get a chance to wrestle with this particular decision anyway.

Now, on to the categories.


CW: I love this guy. He’s data driven, non-partisan, full of moon-shot ideas and appropriate skepticism. He is cowed by no one, and approaches votes without ego. He cares about the students and wants to find an impartial way to evaluate his decisions. He is also a scientist/engineer – his rational approach shines through his decisions. He has my unwavering support.

He is not up for re-election this term.

VC: VC may not be a data scientist by trade, but she wrestles with the data and attempts to draw rational conclusions. That said, she is the most centrist board member politically, and can swing from one side to the next. She is empathetic and kind. I always appreciate her candor and her earnest attempts at grappling with both side of an issue. She too has my support.

She is not up for re-election this term.

It’s Complicated

JM: Already covered. She is up for re-election in District 4 and should win handily.

KC: I think she would do fine in a Board that did not have JM. But this one did. In our particular scenario, she was our swing vote. We very nearly got our swap overturned, but a few votes before ours KC was bullied (I’ll use the words used by our direct source) into swapping her vote. In any case, though she was up for re-election in District 4, she lost to the better known candidate, JM, and the opposition candidate. She will not be on the ticket for the general election.

Do Not Support

CDS: CDS is a populist who works in opposition without herself coming up with viable alternatives. She’s always good for a diatribe that panders to her base, but when you boil away the fluff, you’re left with an empty pan. She did support our cause – because she supported whatever opposed the majority opinion, and I appreciate that…but interestingly, her shocking abstention in the first vote is what sunk us the first time around. I think she just wasn’t paying attention.

She is up for election in District 1, where I expect her to win. But I wouldn’t vote for her.

ST: Speaking of not paying attention…ST didn’t strike me as being fully engaged. She would often ask questions that were previously addressed. She was reliable support for JM’s agenda, but without seeming to add much to it. She was also a bit of a populist – though far on the other side of the political aisle from CDS. I found her to be extreme while not being particularly dynamic, and this combination didn’t sit well with me.

She is not up for election this cycle.

ME: The moderator for the meetings, ME was inconsistent in her leadership of the room. She was hazy on the procedural details, and cut off some soapbox speeches while allowing others. As a rule, she followed JM’s lead – like if you don’t know the words to a song and sing a half-tick behind everyone else as you try to remember. She also lectured the crowd and other board members in the most condescending way possible. She does not have my support.

But she’s not up for election this cycle anyway, so it doesn’t matter!

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For night two, I’m feeling a bit peatier, with Kilchoman Machir Bay. Tonight, we have:
Marianne Williamson, who could be literally anyone.
John Hickenlooper, John Kasich’s superfriend.
Andrew Yang, wonks wonk, who I’m going to like.
Pete Buttigieg, who is too well spoken for politics and who is my current favorite.
Joe Biden, who has the opportunity to go toe to toe with Trump.
Bernie Sanders, who is delightfully unhinged, and perhaps the only pure candidate out there.
Kamala Harris, who is the presumptive Vice President.
Kirsten Gillibrand, who serves me tons of Facebook adds, including one where I might get a shot of whiskey with her.
Michael Bennet, who had that one speech a few months ago about something, and is now running for president.
Eric Swalwell, who I confuse with another Erik Prince, the guy who is responsible for some private army.

2101: Who is going to interrupt the most tonight? I’m thinking Bennet, Hickenlooper, and Swalwell. Because they are old, marginalized, white guys. (OK, Stalwell isn’t too old)
2103: Look at that guy. I love how Bernie is always the same. You’ve got to love someone who knows who he is.
2104: Bennet! I knew it. Man, I hate debate interrupters.
2108: The thing about Socialism is that it’s not inherently evil, nor is it communism. All of Northern Europe is better off than we are, and socialist.
2109: Bernie is going for the Trump jugular. Bang!
2110: Gillibrand just successfully interrupted. Good distinction between greed and capitalism. Andrew Yang is about to join the interruption club. Just wait your turn for a few minutes. Wait until they hit everyone once before you start interrupting.
2113: Buttigieg speaks like 7 languages. I love that guy.
2114: Swalwell with a successful, not entirely obnoxious interruption. Andrew Yang is obviously roughly as smart as Buttigieg. He might be Sanders’ Vice President.
2117: Swalwell, you go for the king, you best not miss. Joe Biden, with that million dollar smile just flipped it, no problem.
2120: Harris interrupts with a snarky comment about interrupting.
2121: Gillibrand, very tired of her already. She’s last on my list so far.
2123: I totally agree with Buttigieg on this. Let the government compete, on unfair terms, against the for profit insurance companies. Spectacular again.
2124: Yikes, who is going to interrupt Biden talking about his wife and two of his kids dying?
2126: Where is Williamson’s accent from? She will be the most googled this time around.
2132: Everyone wants to provide health care to immigrants. Disgraceful. Non-Americans show just die, especially, you know.
2134: Phew, break.
2139: Kamala Harris just tried to call immigrants people. By the way, great rant.
2140: I wonder what Andrew Yang is doing, other than waiting patiently. By the way, Buttigieg, not obnoxious. Biden, not obnoxious, because he knows this is all going to come to him.’
2144: Mayor Pete doing a sweet religious takedown. I, of course, agree with him.
2146: I think I’m going to tap out at 9 tonight, or the next time they ask Andrew Yang a question.
2150: Some people talked for a while, I was texting people.
2151: Senator Bennet, a rare appearance. Dropping the H-Bomb. If you only get to talk for a few minutes, you’ve got to drop the term Holocaust. Medieval Wall, that’s what he’s for.
2152: Yang! China! Russian asses!
2154: Tariffs are taxes. Export balance on dishwashers. Fantastic! I think Biden is listening to a man in his ear. Do they have men in their ears for these?
2155: Whiskey gone.
2157: Needs to come up with a high calorie, weight efficient version of GORP.
2159: Chuck Todd has to talk over music tonight, last night he had to talk over a live mike.
2200: Buttigieg gets a hard question. He’s answering it well. But it’s going to be a problem with the Blue Line folks.
2202: Jerry Stallwell just told Buttigieg how to run his city. And Williamson, who is there. Kamala Harris just dropped the race bomb. Meanwhile, she’s not the best with her prosecutorial record.
2205: Biden has to answer this one. He was a public defender, not a prosecutor. Zing. He’s not backing down. Bam! I’m surprised.
2207: Harris is coming back in, she’s smart to get herself this screen time on a personal, weepy, debate.
2208: Bernie glad they were yelling past him.
2210: I’m not going to last much longer. Kirsten Gillibrand, still not my favorite.
2211: Mitch McConnell is awful. True story. I’m about to tap out here.

Buttigieg is my guy, he wins for me. He’s brilliant.
Next was Bernie, because the dude is just so self-consistent.
Biden and Harris in the next tier. Biden was so smooth, in general, but has 40 years of skeletons. Harris was aggressive and strong.
Yang next, I wish that he got more air time, but he’s also a really bright guy.
Williamson was fine.
Hickenlooper, Swalwell, Bennet
Gillibrand last

de Blasio

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The Democrats, smartly, did not set up a Varsity and JV debate as was the Republican approach 4ish years ago. Tonight, we have a mixed bag of biggish hitters and also rans:
Bill de Blasio, the maybe current mayor of NYC who no one likes much.
Tim Ryan, who I’ve never seen or heard of before in my life.
Julián Castro, who did something that I liked at some point, but I can’t remember what.
Cory Booker, who seems underwhelming, but fine.
Elizabeth Warren, who is in my top 3 and has a good head on her shoulders and a coherent set of plans that might find bi-partisan support.
Beto O’Rourke, the invisible man, raising his profile for some future run for office, or maybe a sex scandal.
Amy Klobuchar, who is considered awful by those who work for her.
Tulsi Gabbard, who, despite being pretty foxy, is the target of disdain from some of my liberal friends who think she’s also a Russian plant. I have no idea why.
Jay Inslee, who is all about the environment, which is the most important issue on the planet, but which nobody cares about.
John Delaney, who is Tim Ryan’s uncle.

Of these, I see myself liking Warren the best, appreciating Inslee though finding him to be a lost cause, and that’s probably about it. Overall, the only folks on tonight’s stage with even a puncher’s chance are Warren, Booker, and O’Rourke.

The ground rules: The Democratic president for candidate must either be female, minority (it’s not specified whether homosexual counts), or Joe Biden. The eventual running mate can be anyone, unless Joe Biden is the candidate, in which case the running mate shall be both female and minority and probably Stacey Abrams. The rest are around to waste our time and take up space on the stage, like most of the horses in the Kentucky Derby and the other people in the Peach Pit on Saved by the Bell.

I’ll be back in a bit to start typing some stuff.

Side note: yes, I have noticed that Trump doesn’t have Pence on his 2020 signs. I’d guess Jared Kushner would be his next choice, but that would threaten to overshadow Ivanka, which is his real heir apparent. Too bad she’s mute and not explicitly hate mongering. The base is really going to dig that, sure.

2047: Drink for this evening is Glenfiddich Solera 15. I’m barely into this bottle, maybe my third pour. No strong opinions yet.
2102: They say they’re not going to be shy about cutting people off. Elizabeth Warren comes out guns blazing right from the start. Wow. Imagine if the president could speak in complete sentences? That would be awesome!
2104: Klobuchar, the magic genie. She’s saying fine things, but billionaire yachts and student loans are two different things.
2106: Someone just asked Beto for specifics. Hilarious! What is your specific number? What the hell is he doing. That was like 30 seconds in Spanish, where he probably disclosed what his marginal tax rate was. Hehehe. No, he will not commit to anything. I love it. I like whoever that moderator is.
2109: This first round of questions is awkward. Everyone wants to get their opening statement out there, so they’re not answering questions. Senator Warren gets a second shot before Tim Ryan gets on camera. Please, someone aggregate the total time that each of these candidates get. I would love that.
2111: Julian Castro gets a softball about the wage gap. He also had a good start.
2112: Gabbard, good resume. Foxy gray streak. Not answering the question.
2113: de Blasio comes out strong, with an actual democratic policy.
2115: John Delaney, whoever he is, has some policy information lined up. I’ll tell you, I watch all of these debates. This is the most substantive I’ve seen in a while. Things we’re going to do. Good for them, people got the memo.
2116: Inslee jumps on with unions. Sounds strong, looks presidential.
2117: Tim Ryan! He gets in finally. Ohio. Came in with some heat. Just a dude.
2118: Elizabeth Warren, loving her. This has been a wonderfully organized debate so far. People on time, no gaps, get to everyone. Moderators barely showing up, just as they should.
2121: All foam and no beer. The other one that’s not Klobuchar, Gillibrand or whatever, wants me to donate and maybe she’ll have a shot of whiskey with me.
2122: Warren up again – she’s dominating the time. Remember how Fox News was all about Rubio last time? NBC is all about Elizabeth Warren. O’Rourke is doing the whole “let me tell you about this area man.” It’s not the State of the Union Beto.
2124: de Blasio does the first interruption. Beto looks like death warmed over. This guy Delaney, whoever he is, just jumped in too. How long until someone notices that the white men are all interrupting, and point out that if the women did this, they’d be excoriated.
2128: Warren does the interrupting with something specific and relevant. Governor Inslee shaking his fist, talking about reproductive rights.
2129: Klobuchar just did the obvious on women’s reproductive health. Guys, Gabbard is just stately, look at her.
2130: Pretty sure trans abortion isn’t really a thing.
2131: Wheels came off a bit for a minute or two there. Jay Inslee, the largest man, took over.
2131: New Jersey companies being held criminally liable. Cory Booker coming on strong against pharmaceutical companies, which are evil.
2132: What is Beto doing? Umm, something about being in jail for pot and Purdue pharma.
2133: Phew, take a break.

2135: So far, Warren is dominating. Booker, Castro, Delaney are all showing well. de Blasio and Inslee are bugging me. Klobuchar doesn’t sound like a president. Beto is a grown 9 year old. Tim Ryan spoke for 30 seconds.
2136: That image is going to give me nightmares forever. Castro, by the way, is awesome also.
2138: Second Spanish speaker has a better Spanish accent. I think. Castro knows the name of a law.
2141: What is going on. Beto is not going to win. I have no idea what Castro is busting him on.
2142: By the way, no Republican is going to go for this Spanish-off.
2143: Castro is pissed at O’Rourke.
2144: John Delaney, did not know he was a Maryland congressman.
2145: Klobuchar, maybe HUD Secretary or something.
2146: Congressman Ryan, with his dead eyes, was just caught staring off into space. Good Ole “Same Question, Congressman Ryan.” Give the man 45 seconds in a row, and he will get rolling though.
2147: Cory Booker has an interesting look on his face right now. I think I like this face; serious, enraged, focused.
2149: ICE Agents sounds funny when you say it out load.
2149: Isn’t it Tulsi Gabbard time again?
2150: Dulaney’s grandpa.
2150: Cory Booker, got himself back on stage. Senator Klobuchar, she’s not that bad. But she’s not going to be president.
2153: Chickenhawk Cabinet, nice one Tulsi. Did she just call him Michael Bolton, or did I do that in my own head. It’s not Michael Bolton right?

2159: Recapping the rules, where de Blasio, Inslee, and Delaney don’t interrupt. What is happening in the audience? Bad NBC. Let’s see if Trump is still watching.

2206: I’m getting tired. Guns. Remember when we cared about people shooting kids a few months ago? Too many problems. Warren, how are we going to keep kids safe. We can do the sensible things. Good for Warren.
2208: Warren/Booker. I like that ticket. Buttigieg is my guy though. I don’t know if the Dems would put out a Warren/Buttigieg ticket. I feel like there’s no way they’ll pick two white people.
2212: Tim Ryan, I’d give him a cabinet position. O’Rourke, not terrible on this one. It looks like he puked in a bag and ate some pretzels during the break.
2214: Klobuchar, I like her sidelong glances. And she has an Uncle Dick.
2215: License to buy a firearm is just common sense. Blah blah blah.
2216: Congressman Delaney, who is he again, and why does he keep interrupting? Yikes, de Blasio has a black son, this is awkward.
2218: I am Senator Warren, and I have a plan.
2220: I’m getting tired with this. Delaney punching above his weight, whoever he is.
2221: Governor Inslee pointing his finger ominously. Climate change. OK, I’ll stick around for this. Governor Inslee can’t do anything to save Miami, sorry. Miami is gone. I wish I could bet against the climate. Should I be buying land in Alberta, the world’s next bread basket.
2223: Congressman O’Rourke, you put out a “p-p-plan.” That’s what I’d call it.
2224: I’m going up after the next time Tulsi is given an opportunity to speak. But let’s be honest, she’s polling at like nothing, so why should she talk? Other than her poised posture and electric gray streak.
2227: Full question for crazy-eyed Tim Ryan. Elital! Nice!
2229: By the way, Cap and Trade on Carbon is the right approach.
2229: Tulsi! OK, I’m ready to go upstairs. I like her cadence. Not great for a time limit, but she speaks well.

OK, I’m done. Warren won. Booker and Castro did well, second tier. de Blasio, Delaney, and Inslee were annoying. Tim Ryan remains irrelevant, but says good things. Klobuchar seems wry, I like her, but she’s also not going to win. I can’t have an objective opinion on Gabbard since I have a crush on her, but I think she was pretty good. Beto O’Rourke lost.

de Blasio

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(A Thousand or So Words) On Guns

America has a problem. It is caught in a feedback loop of fear. Guns beget shootings. Shooting beget more guns. More guns beget more shootings. This brand of mass violence is unique to the United States. I’ve been trying to reason out why.

First, let’s talk 2nd Amendment. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I’m not going to get into the nuance of the well-regulated militia, as the courts have ruled that the grammar allows for two separate rights: one for militias, one for people who also have the individual right to bear arms. I find that to be a mistake, but regardless, why do we have this right? Transport yourself back to the late 18th century. A ragtag group of revolutionaries, using the weaponry available to both individuals and militaries alike, overthrew the yolk of a tyrant. What is the surest way to ensure that they would never again fall under tyranny? To make the government as scare of the people as the people were scared of the government. Our constitution provided not only for institutional checks and balances, but also societal ones – try to enslave free men (well, you know, the right kind of free men), and face armed rebellion. For a nascent state, this was a real threat.

Many in the pro-gun community espouse this concept as their justification for the right to bear the biggest and best arms. I find this to be absurd, as an AR-15 (or whatever), is no match to an Abrams tank or an A-10 or a Predator drone. I think that most can see, at least at a subconscious level, the ridiculousness of this argument. Strip that away, and in reality, the motivation for owning guns is two-fold:
1) People like guns and think they are cool, in much the same way they like horses or cars or scotch or baseball cards or Van Goghs.
2) People are afraid of the world in which they live and need some way to assert control over it.

I reject #1. Some people think kiddie porn or slavery are cool. We don’t let those people and their destructive habits pollute society. #2, then, is the only valid reason to own a gun. And…part of me wants one for this very same reason.

Long ago, humanity evolved beyond toughness, nerve, and grit. In the past, if you wanted to come for my daughters, you’d have to come through me – and I have more to lose than you have to gain. Human ferocity was a buffer against violence. Deadly action at a distance emasculated the act of violence. Any coward with a fire stick could extinguish any number of brave men with everything to lose. In fact, this is what happens several thousand times a year in our country. Cowards with firearms kill the innocent and guilty alike. How is one to protect his family, when no amount of animal strength or righteous rage is sufficient? By fighting firearms with firearms.

This has led to a literal arms race. Half of society has decided that the toothpaste is out of the tube. They only can think to fight violence with additional violence, a sort of microcosm of the mutually assured destruction of the Cold War. The only way to protect the good guys is to kill before you are killed, or at least provide enough deterrence to make violence less likely in the first place.

But, we’ve all paid the price for this Faustian bargain. Our toddlers are far more likely to shoot themselves in the face with our protection than they are to be shot by a home invader. We are more likely to throw gasoline on a minor conflict when firearms immediately raise the stakes to life or death. We are more likely, in a moment of blind passion, to become the very same threat to our own families that we assumed would come from without. And, we become the enablers of the insane with our lax laws and prevalent weaponry. Most of these shooters are using a legally purchased firearm.

But even if we realize this, we are still unwilling to do anything about it. We refuse to relinquish the perceived control, even if it’s for our own good. This all comes down to control, or the illusion of control, over one’s life.

What I don’t understand is the scale of guns. Guns won’t go away. I think that #2 is a strong enough motivation that we will never be a gun free society. But…it’s the influence of the “guns are cool” crowd that gets us into real trouble. Because guns are cool, we need military grade rifles, with attachments that maximize their deadliness. It’s because guns are cool that people decide to shoot 600 of their fellow men from hotel windows. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. If the crazy person didn’t have a gun, he’d use something else. No. If he didn’t have an AR-15, he’d kill less people. He’d kill the other guy’s daughter, but be stopped before he killed yours too. These aren’t statistics, these are dead people, and less dead people is better than more dead people.

Here’s what I think.

1) Improve background checks because why would you not do that? The only reason because you believe restricting any gun right is the opening salvo in an attempt to roll back additional rights. And so people continue to die because we let terrorists and the mentally ill buy and keep guns. Stop it. And who needs a gun an hour from now, unless they intend to use it to shoot someone an hour from now? A mandatory several day cool off period is only sensible.
2) Limit the use of high powered weaponry to “well-regulated militias.” These well-regulated militias can fulfill the role of Civil War re-enacters. A martial hobby, guys that don’t like the gym getting some testosterone flowing with less effort. Fine. Even let them have MORE weaponry, to fulfill the original intent of the 2nd amendment and serve as a check on power. But also make them financially liable for the actions of their members. If your militia’s grand wizard shoots up a church with your grenade launcher, you are liable. You lose your well-regulated militia license and are sued for millions of dollars. This pretty well takes care of #1.

Let’s be clear. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. But people cannot change. People are what they are, and short of Christ returning, we’re going to keep being evil to each other. No extra hugs are going to eliminate sin. People with knives wound people. People with bricks bruise people. People with guns kill people. And our own fear has made us deserve this fate.

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2052: Part of me likes the Balvenie Caribbean Cask, but part of me thinks it has a stomach bile taste early finish. It’s not the rum, I’ve had this with other Balvenie’s as well. Anyway. We don’t have cable, so if NBC is not broadcasting this after this Ellen DeGeneres flushes people down the toilet game show, this will be a very short live blog.
2055: Will and Grace is still on. I don’t watch TV.
2056: I just realized that I’m sitting on the couch cushion that my 2.5 year old peed on a few hours ago. I’m not going to mention it, less my wife take said cushion away.
2057: I’m not sure Ellen is going to be able to wrap this up on time. Wife asked if I’m live blogging the silent game show (which is on mute, because I don’t care what Ellen has to say really).
2058: Lost the cushion.
2059: Quit your yapping DeGeneres.
2100: It would appear that NBC is doing the SotU. By the way, most of the time I watch things like this on Fox, to see if it is possible to justify this moron. Spoiler alert, I loathe Trump. Other caveat. I won’t make it much past 10 PM.
2102: I forgot the punch line of the story – we do over-air TV and Fox doesn’t really come in.
2103: It’s funny that the Dow lost over 300 points today. Sad.
2103: Guy on NBC. I am the middle. I am also hate watching. Look it’s Megyn Kelly! She was like the 8th one to talk. She sounds more gravely than she used to. I think the Fox News made her perk it up, now she’s going for salty dog.
2105: Melania Trump is in attendance. I feel bad for her. Speaking of which, the Trump campaign (which is currently fund raising) has been reusing the term “complicit,” about 8 months after it was relevant, which gave all the home schools time to add it to their vocabulary list.
2108: I pray he doesn’t use a teleprompter. Is it typical to clap for oneself?
2109: Melania’s cold, dead eyes.
2110: WaPo reports that Melania rode to the speech by herself.
2111: He sounds hoarse, sort of like Megyn Kelly.
2112: I thought Las Vegas didn’t happen? He’s not really playing to his base.
2113: Is this going to be 100% stories of Trump supporters being good to people? It is possible.
2116: OK, we’re waiting for some content here.
2117: I miss watching Nancy Pelosi blink. Instead I can see her chew the inside of her face. By the way, I am the last person who should be standing placidly behind any president delivering a speech. Far too fidgety.
2118: Wife is sopping piss out of couch cushion as she watches. It’s the circle of life.
2119: Here’s where Trump takes credit for Obama’s economy, neglecting the fact that the economy of the socialist EU grow faster.
2121: Pooping Turtle Mitch McConnell.
2123: Our government is very creepy looking, all of them. Wife points out that Don keeps clapping in his own microphone.
2124: Trump just said that $4000 is a lot of money with a straight face. That would pay his Secret Service detail for about 14 seconds. Hey, Staub, bring a black guy with you, would you?
2127: If you believe in fairies, than clap your hands (into the microphone).
2128: Speaking of hands, Kevin Love just broke his.
2129: Ut oh – into the flag portion of the speech. This could be dicey.
2130: I thought that was Baron, but Preston. Clap clap clap clap clap.
2131: Melania really does have nice hair. Here we are in the anthem standing portion! Is Colin Kaepernik in the audience tonight?
2133: Neil Gorusch: Leave me out of this.
2135: Removing Federal Employees who “Undermine the public trust or fail the American people,” which sounds nice, except for who is defining the parameters. Good Lord, that’s scary.
2137: All those people with “Clean Coal Lung”.
2139: I’m want to put anyone who comments on Facebook in a ticker in the live blog. Except that that might be an indication of undermining the public trust or otherwise failing the American people.
2140: I agree with the idea of trying experimental trials. By the way, I was “cupped” at physical therapy today.
2141: Paul Ryan looks like a Vorta from the Dominion in Deep Space Nine. And to paraphrase some other person, Mike Pence looks like someone who does mean things to the X-Men.
2144: You know what would have been handy for updating the infrastructure? The trillion dollars that you just gave to the wealthy…
2146: I’m running out of steam. Go off script. Be a man. Tell us how you really feel!
2147: Bernie Sanders with the most pitiful clap of the night.
2148: Unrecognized by wife, by the way. “Older than I thought,” yes, they are all ancient. Sanders, Clinton, Biden, and Trump. Get rid of old people!
2148: Whatever, prison reform. Are you kidding me? Jeff Sessions wants everyone in jail.
2149: Guys, come in the audience, I’m going to talk about how your daughters were murdered. Seriously, this is in your best interest.
2153: Losing interest. Wife thought that he said cweed instead of creed. Americans are dreamers too – eff those immigrant kids!
2154: Trump located literally every minority Trump supporter and has them in the crowd tonight.
2157: Rubio did not clap about that. Wow. Little Marco Rubio.
2158: Awesome, the government will be evaluating “moral character”. I trust Donald with evaluating moral character.
2159: Ahem. I support letting in every single skilled person that wants to be an American. We should be pillaging the world of their best and brightest. I agree with that.
2200: Donald’s family came to America by Chain Migration.
2201: Running low on Scotch, but not buzzed enough to find this interesting anymore. I like the guy with the whooping cough in the background also. Vaccinate your children!
2203: Trump: good with numbers. That was some nice division there – he knew all the days in the year and the hours in the day. Amazing.
2204: Opiods…not obtained from pushers and drug dealers very often eh. Drug companies, can we call out drug companies? No? Are they on the Trump donation ticker, perhaps.
2205: Tell me she was breast feeding at the exact moment Trump called on them. I have to say, that is awesome!
2206: A young Woody Harrelson, that Ryan the police man. If Woody Harrelson were in American History X.
2208: It’s unfortunate, sadly.
2212: My arms are cold, I need a long sleeve shirt. When possible, we have no choice but to annihilate them!
2213: Got a jacket during the torture section.
2214: Interested in the second half of that sentence, the torture part. By the way, Obama, not very effective at closing Guantanamo Bay.
2216: The Democrats are a grim lot, aren’t they. Ivanka is excited about the Jerusalem thing. She’s got about 40 million reasons to be excited.
2218: How are those Russian sanctions going?
2221: Do people like the personal stories? I want him to cut to the chase. But I suppose this is what people want – reality TV.
2222: I am afraid he’s going to announce that bombers are en route.
2223: By the way, Jeff Session would throw that coal thief into jail.
2224: Are you saying that the Korean guy was a chain migrant or what?
2226: I’m going to pack this up soon. Hopefully Trump is also. It sounds like he’s wrapping it up. USA-USA-USA!
2230: Whoa, Alex Smith signed with the Redskins – I guess Kirk Cousins is out.
2230: He’s still talking, sorry, I faded out for a second. This is supposed to be the good part, written in Stephen Miller’s fever dream.
2231: I want to hear what Megyn Kelly has to say. Savannah Guthrie, never heard of her. He TRUMPeted the economy.
2232: Tillerson is still on the job, by the way. I’m ready to call all that strife fake news.
2233: Megyn Kelly is cynical. “I hate news, States of the Union are sucky, this is all stupid, life makes me empty.”
2235: OK, I’m done here. I can’t stand Trump. He’s signing hats now.

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House of Cards

Every few years, a deck of playing cards is generated immortalizing the “most wanted” within some band of miscreants. There was one for Iraq, one for Al Qaeda, one for ISIS, and more I’m sure. I don’t mind Trump’s choices for several roles. For instance, McMasters and Mattis seem to be perfectly acceptable picks. Others I really don’t know enough about to have an opinion. For the remainder, here’s my list of Trump Cabinet and Adviser playing cards. They are in order of Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, sorted by how much I’d like to see them removed from their position. I’ve left the originals and included their replacements if they are likewise deplorable (though such an organizational scheme is not really extensible).

Ace: Trump, Bannon, Pruitt, Kushner
King: Miller, Sessions, Pence, Ivanka Trump
Queen: Zinke, DeVos, Conway, Spicer
Jack: Priebus, Flynn, Price, Mnuchin
10: Tillerson, Huckabee Sanders, Scaramucci, Perry
9: Gorka, Ichan, McMahon, Pompeo

That’s about as deep as I can go. Now, if we were including Congresspeople, this would be a much harder list to make – lots of tough decisions near the top for the spineless collaborators.

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Preaching to the Choir

I haven’t heard anything back from the Honorable Senator from Montana. Many representatives do not care at all what non-constituents think, even those representatives who sit on committees that impact the entire nation. No matter. I’ll write to our Maryland representatives, even though they already are opposed to our current executive and his feckless policies. Anyway, here’s what I just sent to my representative. It’s some words and then my feelings on gerrymandering. I don’t expect he would have read that far – tl/dr, but what’s the harm. I’m effectively sending blog posts to congressmen.

Representative Cummings,
I wish to offer you encouragement in this difficult time. Without a majority in either the House or Senate, and with a President seemingly unfettered by the bonds of civil decorum or basic human dignity, the majority of Americans can do nothing to affect policy. From the so called Muslim Ban to a multitude of measures meant to enrich his fellow billionaires, most disturbingly those at the expense of the natural beauty of this great nation, there is little to be encouraged about from this legislature and our executive branch.

But even in this time, the seeds of change have been sown. The people have embraced their civic duty and risen united against the perceived tyranny. Our President’s approval rating is at an historic low. At this stage, though you may have few political options, you do hold something more dear: the moral high ground. I encourage you and your fellow Democrats to shine a light of dignity and respect that stands in stark contrast to the darkness that otherwise surrounds us. Embrace your colleagues across the aisle who also operate with integrity in opposition to unamerican orders. Right now, the best thing that we can do is to show kindness and restraint in the face of bluster and blunder. The contrast will be clear come Fall of 2018, when the people will ensure that their voices are again heard in the voting booths.

I would like to take this moment to also encourage you to take a stand against what I believe is the central political evil that brought our country to this current situation: gerrymandering. I know that you did not draw our 7th Congressional District, but its tentacles and holes are illustrative of the problem.

When congressional candidates run for office in a “secure” district, they must embrace more polarized views in order to make it out of the primary. We are left with a legislature that does not represent our national centrist tendencies. Instead, we have a House full of extremists, who answer to the most vocal minorities on the far left and right at the peril of being flushed in the next primary. With no room to compromise with those in the middle, the legislative branch deadlocks. Presidents from both parties rule by fiat via executive orders to fill the void left by an ineffectual legislature.

Because of this, I believe that independent redistricting is the only way to elect candidates that properly represent the rank and file citizens of the Unites States. Please consider supporting all measures that would free our country from its comically intertwined districts and allow the majority of the people to have a say in our government.

Thank you for your time, I appreciate your service, and God Bless America,

Eric Furst

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Spacious Skies

My letter to Montana Senator Steve Daines, chairman of the subcommittee on National Parks:

Senator Daines,
Several years ago, my brother and I spent six nights in the backcountry of Glacier National Park. Though I’ve been on many trips before and since, my visit to your great state and its jewel of a park sticks with me. We saw more wildlife in that week than in any other trip before or since; moose by the dozen, grizzlies, black bears, bighorn sheep, foxes, trout (on my plate), and the biggest owl I’ve ever seen. We spent four nights on the same itinerary as an Army Ranger and his wife – his pack was more than 70 lbs, I swear they brought a cast iron skillet or something. We met a man who hikes hundreds of miles a summer in the park in Crocs and a Jansen book bag. We picked up tips on how to eat like normal humans on the trail, we swam next to a glacier in a mountain lake at Stoney Indian pass, and we celebrated our trip with a huge pizza and a couple of delicious beers.

Why am I telling you this? I don’t have a specific agenda. I want to offer you encouragement. There may come a time when someone who doesn’t know anything about the wild places of our national heritage wants to make decisions that imperil those places. Those of us who love the wild look to folks like you to protect it – fellow backpackers who understand that these places are national treasures. Please look out for our national parks and our state parks. In 20 years I want my daughters to see the same big skies, the same cascading waterfalls, the same stark rock faces, and the same grizzlies (whether the glaciers will be there is a different topic). I want them to toil for 20 miles under a heavy pack to earn vistas only seen by those who seek with determination and struggle.

While I have your ear, I encourage you to support our National Park Service workers. I’ve never met an NPS employee that I didn’t respect and admire. They share in our love for the outdoors. That they are also idealistic and politically active makes them true Americans, even if not everyone agrees with their opinions. I am proud to live in a country where we can safely voice our views, where we practice the refined art of checks and balances both via our governmental structure and directly through the voices of our people, and where the protectors of our sovereign lands would also stand up as protectors of our ideals. Please look past the political inconvenience of their acts to the heart behind them.

Thank you for your time, thank you for your great state, and thank you for your beautiful public lands. I hope to visit again soon.

Eric Furst

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I’ve been thinking a bit about patriotism. For instance, if you see a pick-up truck with three American flags flapping in the breeze, you can say “this is a guy who wants to make America great again.” I roll my eyes and check to see if truck nuts are dangling from the back. The question is, are these ostensible displays really indicative of a more profound love for one’s country?

As I take a step back, I wonder what it means to love one’s country. Is it because of something intrinsic in the nature of the country? Because of what the country stands for, what it represents, what it means to others? Is it because the country gives you something? It is irrespective of any properties of the nation itself, but instead a function of the sacrifice made on its behalf, as though the effort used to forge it imbues value into an inherently neutral apparatus?

And why should I love my country? I love people, is that the same? I love God – is his entangled with this country above others? I love my family – but doesn’t everyone in every country? What makes this country special, and more worthy of love? Or does that miss the point? You love the country because you’re there, if you were somewhere else, it’s your duty to love that place just the same.

What is the currency that this country communicates its value to me? What aspects of the country are worth defending? What, if lost, would leave this place different, other, less lovable? What things make America itself and not something else?

When I think of America, I think fondly of the following – and probably countless more, but at least these:

  • Free Speech – simply “freedom” is too vague; define it please.
  • Freedom of the Press – no power answers to no one.
  • Freedom of Religion – that the nation provides a refuge from whatever theocracy would impose its belief system forcibly upon any people.
  • National Park Service – the crown jewels of the world, specifically the backcountry.
  • State Park System – the land of the people, for the people.
  • Interstate Highway System – the land, all of it, free to all the people.
  • Wartime Mobilization and the Ass Kicking we dealt in WWII and to a lesser extend WWI as a result – those moments of clarity, collective will, civic duty, and unshakable resolve.
  • That we didn’t start a nuclear war during the Cold War – that civilians could think of more than military goals when considering what was good, right, and smart.
  • 4th of July – freedom from tyranny, the voice of the people.
  • Tired and huddled masses – melting pot; take the best from the nations and incorporate them into our social fabric to make us more distinctive, stronger, and smarter.
  • Land of opportunity – to the extent that it exists, to the extent that it is available to certain peoples.
  • Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, FDR, and TBD – philosopher leaders, thinkers, brilliant people.
  • Martin Luther King Jr, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, and more – exceptionalism in word and deed.
  • Amber waves of grain – open spaces, majestic skies, towering mountains, rolling hills, dense forests, regal deserts, rivers, lakes, the oceans…and America the Beautiful the song.
  • That we went to the moon when we tried – that it hasn’t happened in 40 years, a testament to our ability if given focus.
  • The Postal Service – people hate the USPS, but imagine the mission they have – to provide mail to every address in the entire nation daily; daunting.
  • Public Libraries – so useful, so worth whatever we pay for them.
  • Public Radio – the vector of free speech, the press with the least motivation to skew.
  • Our engineers, scientists and soldiers – the reason why others have to steal our work rather than try to make their own.
  • The Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail – interstates for seekers who can find anything they look for within the very land itself.
  • That our Founding Fathers had such high minded ideals – they were attempting to make a different kind of nation.

I wonder what other items should be on my list. As you can probably see, I value things that are not valued by everyone. I see two thirds of these items as being threatened by forces at work in our current administration.

One thing that I would point out: this list is not a list of demands or a list of what the country owes me. It doesn’t owe me anything. I was born wherever I happened to be born, to whatever parents happened to bear me. I wasn’t owed a factory job, inherent in my DNA. That I came to a land that represents life, liberty, and a pursuit of happiness is a fortunate accident. I am grateful, and not resentful. It seems that many feel that the country, the land itself, must give something of itself to make it worthy of their adoration. That it exists to service their fancy. And maybe it does; a country is not a physical thing, it is a construct upon which people are invited to exist in a certain way. Perhaps they should expect that the country do their particular bidding. I don’t know.

Just don’t mess with my national parks, or I will come for you.

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The Crucible

I was considering live blogging election night, and apparently I wasn’t the only one thinking I should. So, here we go. I can’t imagine this having any where near the density of calamity of the debates. I have no idea what I’ll have to say. I do know that I drank a bunch of water just now with the express purpose of not waking up dehydrated after my double shot of Talisker scotch.

2035: I’m going with George Stephanoplous (or whatever) and ABC for election coverage. They have like 14 people on their panel. Impossible to get the mike on at the right time. They need to raise their hands or pass the conch or something.

2042: I’m rooting for Clinton here, even though I myself didn’t vote for either of them. So far, VA and Florida don’t look very good. I wonder if they’ve counted Richmond or the DC suburbs yet?

2048: But NC and OH look pretty good. Those two would more or less lock it up.

2049: I’m going to blog whatever my three year old whines about when Jen or I go visit her.

2049: There is an inexhaustible supply of analysts here on ABC. They just went to a war room with a pile of people, and then a secret table.

2052: There are these strange, random interstitial messages that keep interrupting the show that we’re watching. I’m unfamiliar with these things. For instance, one involves chasing a dog, but having psoriasis. I don’t understand these strange messages.

2054: I think I sat on the remote a few minutes ago, because now we’re watching CBS. That explains why there are so many new analysts.

2056: Remind me never to go to Kentucky: 2:1 for Trump.

2100: The second the midwest polls close, the states turn red.

2104: I like NE and ME. Why would you not split your vote? We should split it at the county level. At the individual level! Get rid of the college!

2106: The way I see it, Trump will definitely arrest a few hundred dissenters in the first 6 months after he’s elected (if he’s elected). I feel like I’m maybe at the 10,000 mark? 5,000? How many people would Trump have to elect before he came for me?

2111: Sadly, my three year old is asleep already. I was wondering what she’d harass me about, and what adjective she would use to describe my whiskey breath. Because this is boring.

2119: So, the thing about Florida – Boward (or however you spell it) is half reporting. Trump has a 100,000 vote lead, but in Boward, Clinton currently has a 200,000 vote lead. If you extrapolate that difference, Clinton flips it. But, most people don’t understand thing sort of crazy addition and will instead claim that it is fixed.

2125: I don’t understand how the … no idea what I was talking about.

2136: Is this the first time Pence has been in the same place as Trump?

2140: Stephanie Rawlings Blake from Baltimore on ABC! She’s kinda foxy, was unaware.

2146: I think the late precincts are going to be the city districts. Because they make the city people sit in line for four hours, whereas I sit in line for zero seconds since I live in a place with a real infrastructure.

2201: I need some food, depressed.

2216: Nate Silver just said that betting markets have Trump as a narrow favorite. That’s not good. They don’t tend to lose money.

2232: Our ABC affiliate is covering the Baltimore mayoral elections. And the Senate elections. I need more national fear mongering.

2243: I can only hope that Republicans will impeach him in a few months. It all depends on how Michigan shakes out when the cities report.

2254: Maybe I’ll go to bed and wait for Abby to wake me up and check it then.

2303: I’m done. If this isn’t a spectacular disaster, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. The power of low expectations may define the Trump presidency.

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According to Real Clear Politics, 55% of voters find Hilary Clinton to be an unfavorable candidate. 58% say the same about He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN). We’ve put ourselves in quite the predicament. The resistible object against the movable force. I do not like either choice, but I do not believe that they are on equal footing. One is a corrupt lifelong politician. The other is a swindling demagogue with authoritarian impulses and a propensity for rash behavior that could destroy life as we know it. Interestingly, none of the 5 living presidents supports HWSNBN. They understand that he lacks the knowledge, temperament, and self-reflection to hold an office with the gravity of president. I share their greatest fear – that the republic will not stand under his rule. Clinton may be business as usual, but in four years there will be an election and another chance to get things right. Are we sure that will be the case if HWSNBN is president?

So, what’s a boy to do? First, according to 538’s Election Forecast, Maryland is the safest state in the union – with greater than a 99.9% chance that Clinton will win. In that case, my presidential vote will not sway the general election. This is freeing to me. My strident opposition to HWSNBN need not force me into the camp of a corrupt oligarch. So, I’m going to vote for Jill Stein.

In the past three years, the myth of the “pause” in global warming has been debunked, as we march ever forward to the desolation of our planet. The topic was barely raised. Politicians stay away from the topic, or outright deny it. I’m voting two ways: 1) against the political parties that gave us two uniformly loathed candidates and 2) for an under appreciated issue of huge importance.

Down ballot is more informative. I am voting against HWSNBN’s right to rule. If I see your sign on the same yard as a sign for him, I am voting for your opponent. I will vote against any candidate who thinks that he is a good idea for this country. I will vote against any ballot measure supported by anyone who thinks he is a good idea for this country. He is a dangerous tyrant who must be opposed, either directly or in the form of a strong bulwark to his political standing. And you thought that Obama abused his executive privilege – be ready for the hypocrite train to pull into the station.

Or maybe he won’t be so bad. Maybe he gets into office, quickly bores of it, blowing off meeting with our allies and enemies, preferring to give speeches about programs he has no authority or money to implement. Maybe he becomes increasingly tired of attempts at his life and holes up in the White House, not even delivering the State of the Union. Maybe he’s elected and the markets tank, millions lose their jobs, and the demographic that brought him to power abandons him. Maybe he does three different things worthy of impeachment in the first year of his presidency, and maybe we end up with 2 and a half years of President Pence and a Republican party split between White Nationalists and Small Government Conservatives. Maybe 3/4ths of his supporters in the aristocracy back-peddle with a sort of revisionist history that’s hard to do in the age of social media. Maybe America is resilient against the strong hand of a dictator to be. It was built to be resilient against it.

Or, maybe it’s as a 55 year old, white, retired military man at my work says – if he loses, there will be a civil war. Maybe if he loses, the rural south is inflamed with racial violence. If he wins, the violence may shift to the cities.

Who knows. Protect your family, hope for the best. I’m apprehensive in any scenario. I would rather live in no country other than America. But we are not immune to the sort of fears and strife that threatens the world as a whole. Humans are capable of all forms of evil. God created government to restrain our sin. It does so imperfectly. We will, as always, reap what we have sown.

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Our National Nightmare

I’m trying to decide if I want to punish the entire Republican ticket. I’m actually kind of torn: currently, I’m planning on voting Green for president (why not), Democrat for House (because the republican’s website is only half complete and looks completely unprofessional), and Republican for Senate (because Szeliga is the most reasonable candidate I’ve seen in a while). But the Republicans nominated the Anti-Christ for president. They need to be learn that this kind of pandering does not fly. So, anyway, another debate.

Tonight: A big glass of Laphroaig 10 years. Tawny Port for Jen.

2100: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show event is tomorrow night.” I thought it was tonight!

2101: Watching with Fox today. I hate Trump so much that I want the coverage to be as friendly to him as possible. Shep Smith doing a good job here. Starting to forgive him for saying that Hurricane Matthew was going to kill all your children.

2102: Fox has a tight rope walk ahead tonight. The Trump ship is sinking, and Fox is as tied up with him as you can get. AND Trump is talking about making his own news station…which will be in direct competition with Fox (not MSNBC, I suspect). How do they treat him here tonight?

2105: Mix Trump’s skin with Clinton’s suit, and you have a creamsicle.

2106: Surprised that Clinton got right to the question rather than 45 seconds of preamble. Impressed. Hey, how about this for the Supreme Court – can they just interpret the law?

2107: Laphroaig is often described as “medicinal”. But man, it’s deep. A nice warmth. Oh, news flash, Clinton wants to push along Obama’s nominee. OK, cool.

2108: Trump subdued again. How long would 2 mg of Xanax take to wear off on a bull moose like Trump? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? We’ll check in later.

2110: 10 minutes of open arguing. This is the Fox style.

2111: Sensible gun control (background checks, terror watch list checks, storage etc). I have no idea who would argue against this. I read a good article on Newtown, CT recently.

2114: So far, Chris Wallace is owning this debate. We’ll see how this goes. He comes in with more authority than the previous moderators.

2115: Roe v Wade was passed by a conservative court, I’m told. Abortion is the worst. Gross. A sobering topic, unlike scotch.

2119: Abortion is an evil evil.

2120: Trump doesn’t actually know how birth works; not on a schedule. But so far, I am not mad with him.

2121: Xanax hasn’t worn off yet, and yet he remains coherent. Still sniffing though. He is backpedaling on a full deportation, focusing instead on the hombres.

2125: Andrew Miller, how about him. Cleveland in the World Series. Sorry, zoned out.

2126: If Chris Wallace alienates Trump and Trump starts boycotting Fox News…will he just hang out in his house until the election?

2127: This is why I don’t like it when my 3.5 year old takes a nap. Isn’t it good that Obama deported millions of people?

2129: It is interesting that the Russian government wants Trump to be president. Do we trust them?

2130: Chris Wallace scolds the audience again. I am enjoying this guy. While I was typing that sentence, we got on to Radical Islamic Terrorism. I’m not following his train of thought anymore.

2131: You’re the puppet! Wow, she struck a nerve there. 23 minutes, he’s starting to come off the rails. What was it last time? To the tape!

2132: It was 22 minutes last time. Off the rails. Chris Wallace. Woooo.

2134: Putin’s not my BFF!

2135: He’s sniffing still, but less.

2136: At least Trump can pronounce Nuclear.

2137: I’m digging Chris Wallace.

2137: Abby, who has no soccer ball, has decided that she want’s to be a soccer ball for halloween. She has wanted this for a month. But she wants to be a soccer ball with red patches rather than black. All right. Whatever.

2138: I’ll be honest, I’ve got the bottle right here with me. I’m not really following this baloney anymore. I keep hearing about this “free school” thing, but I’m skeptical.

2140: No one gives Donald more credit than Donald.

2143: Just watched the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. Just saying. By the way, I agree – Obama did inherit a tremendous catastrophe economically. Dude’s one of the better presidents we’ve had, as people will acknowledge in a decade or two. Especially in comparison with these dopes.

2146: India is growing at 8% but their per capita income is like $4000 a year or something. It’s really not a fair comparison.

2147: Totally lied, and fact checkers actually said I was right. He was very surprised about that. It’s maybe the first time that he’s ever said something true.

2149: Condescending. Bad experience. He’s doing a good job this time. Less incoherent.

2151: That was a powerful Clinton set piece on experience. She rehearsed that well.

2152: By the way, we would be interested in hosting refugees. These are families feeling terrible situations to keep their kids alive. If Trump actually raised his kids, he would have a little more compassion.

2154: Not attractive enough to be assaulted. Yes, that’s a good point. Chris Wallace, still keeping things under control Another strong Clinton set piece by Clinton here, on women.

2156: Nobody in the whole world has more respect for women than Trump. Not even one. There are 3.5 billion men in the world, and Trump is literally the number one respecter of women.

2159: Third powerful set piece of Clinton, this time about all the people he has belittled.

2200: I’m getting sleepy.

2203: Something something something; someone just sent me to Edible Arrangements Facebook page.

2204: Rather than paying a lawsuit, Trump put up an American flag. OK. Good zing on tax returns.

2205: Chris Wallace, please come back.

2206: Rigged election. This is the scariest part of this whole thing. This is terrifying. Peaceful transition of power from Chris Wallace.

2209: Here we are, a fourth Clinton set piece, this on rigging.

2210: Trump as a human is completely off the rails, but he has gotten better at the debates as he’s gone. Less incoherent stories this time. But he’s letting Clinton dominate. She sounds so much smarter than he does.

2214: Trump’s theories on warfare – the element of surprise – a little naive. The Iraqis are in on the Clinton fix too…

2216: Who cares if Trump was for Iraq in 2003, when he was a blubbering idiot who was not running for president.

2217: I hate the look Clinton gets on her face when she thinks she’s said something funny.

2220: Putin, Assad…let’s see if Clinton does a set piece on the axis of evil world leaders that Trump admires.

2221: Lots of luck Hilary. So, did Trump just concede the election to her?

2223: I want some food. This is silly. He didn’t implode. She continued to only say smart things. That is the standard against which the two of them are judged.

2224: Vast swatches of land. I remember swatches!

2225: Trump is delusional. But he believes it. I guess that’s the definition of delusional.

2227: I think the talking point from this debate will be the part where Trump said he was still considering whether he’d stage a coup against a democratically elected government.

2230: I thought it was going to be over at 10:30, yet here we are. I’m going to get something and go to bed.

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Presidential Debate Two

Another live blog. I think this time I’m going to stop paying attention and riff longer on things that strike my fancy. We shall see.

2057: I’m watching on Fox to be more fair and balanced. Currently, an animated HeMan of some sort is killing an bird in a suburban driveway. I think I can expect some hard hitting analysis.

2100: Hey, it’s the guy that told us that Hurricane Matthew was going to kill our children. Have all the other Fox News people distanced themselves from this cancer?

2102: We’ll be using this debate stage to find out who has raped more women, Donald Trump or the Clinton family. We’re reaping what we’ve sown.

2103: Shep Smith: In the mud, as deep as a really deep thing in the mud.

2106: Are you modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today’s youth!? HA! ZAP. Children. Any chance this question will keep them being behaving like children in 15 minutes? Start the timer.

2107: Unrelated, we just found a box with a bunch of shoes appropriate for a 18-24 month old. Emily will have shoes. Trump has come out as measured and calm.

2110: More than calm, he would appear to be actually sedated. He’s going to grab ISIS by the p****!

2112: Clinton making a nice point here – Trump not fit to serve, other Republicans are. “We’ve seen him rape women” is what both Jen and I heard. Rate. Rate. Phew. By the way, it’s awkward that they’re both standing up and walking around. I feel like Trump is going to cram that mike into her skull at some point. By the way, Trump is absolutely calm right now. Last time, he would have interrupted 5 times by now. He has a better strategy this time. Can he do it?

2116: Semi-related, breath right strips are awesome. Really opens up the nasal passages.

2117: I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms – high school, college and so on. I’ve never encountered any distance runner who had any sort of leverage over any women whatsoever. The difference between Trump and people in locker rooms is that Trump thinks he’s allowed to do whatever he wants because of who he is. We might joke about bombing North Korea too, but, yeah, we’re not the damn president.

2122: Bernie Sanders “signed on with the devil”. It’s like they are competing for the souls of the damned over there. They both are collecting souls.

2124: I wonder what Pence’s first name is.

2125: Audience: if they can’t talk or clap, why are they there? Whose fault is that?

2127: For laymen. If you see a “C” on a document, it means “Confidential”, one step lower than “Secret” and two steps lower than “Top Secret”. One thing that Trump has never dealt with is anything associated with anything that a president might do.

2128: The sedation is wearing off. 22 minutes. He did bring up the emails Donald. Actually she might have. He doesn’t listen to anyone who speaks other than himself.

2133: Trump doing better on health insurance. I think he has a self-regulated ativan drip in his pants pocket or something.

2135: Steve Pence?

2136: I want to hear what the woman that looks like a 62 year old Terry Hatcher (behind Trump) is going to ask. She’s trying not to give the stink eye, but failing.

2138: Recently, a Muslim reported another Muslim for using the Arabic term for ISIS on a flight. Witch hunts tend to be a problem.

2140: Donald Trump prefers troops who don’t die in combat (or get captures, or have PTSD).

2141: I don’t think that’s how you pronounce Demagogic. Then again, that is not how you pronounce “terror” either.

2143: Extreme vetting = enhanced interrogation

2145: Someone should give Sean Hannity a call to sort this whole Iraq war thing out.

2147: He’s getting time info from people in the audience. It’s a good idea. I’m not sure the times are equitable either. Someone could do an analysis on it.

2150: Google tells me that it’s Mike Pence. I wonder who Steve Pence is.

2152: I stopped paying attention for a second and now he’s talking about building a post office?

2153: Trump is good on tax here. People like the both of them take advantage of all the loop holes. I think that his tax plan is absolute malarkey, but it would be helpful if these super rich people paid some taxes.

2156: I wonder which of them is more corrupt.

2157: How long is this debate? I think I want to go to bed soon.

2158: I feel like Trump is strong on the tax thing and he probably does understand the tax code better than any other candidate. I have no idea what a carried interest deduction is. By the way, that last thing on Hilary having 30 years to do something about all this and not is probably his best set of debate shots so far.

2202: Aleppo? What’s an Aleppo?

2206: Trump is doing much, much better this time. He may have lost the election a few days ago, but he’s not losing it here.

2207: I’m bored, let’s talk about me. I use breath right strips maybe 4 times a week. I can’t say I’ve ever worn one during a televised debate, but I would consider it under some circumstances.

2210: I like Steve Pence’s stance on Russia in Syria, but Trump just repudiated it. But…do we really want a proxy war against Russia in Syria? Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to show them our tech. At least the stuff they haven’t already stolen.

2210: Anderson, you need to poke your co-moderator and remind her that she’s not running for president. She’s getting hostile. Trump is handling her though.

2215: Trump, for what it’s worth, is going over on this question as well. He keeps complaining, but sometimes he gets to go over too.

2216: Clinton’s getting too laughy and snarky recently. People don’t like that.

2217: Trump’s doing much better in this debate. If not for his enormous disaster this week, he’d be grabbing the American public by the p*ssy and giving them a big wet kiss.

2219: The basket of deplorables thing was kind of accurate. Trump could have gotten away with saying something like that, no problem.

2221: You know what Barack Obama has that Trump doesn’t? Dignity. I like the guy. I have very little beef with him.

2223: Just had to go bring my big ole nose to sniff around for smoke. What’d I miss?

2224: We should just cut the mikes. Can they cut the mikes? Why not?!

2225: I was thinking about the Supreme Court justice thing while on my run today. I’d want smart Supreme Court justices. People that know the law backwards and forwards. People that understand the constitution. I don’t think we should be able to cook the books when it comes to the court, and appoint people that will fight for our political agendas. As a result, somehow, I think we need to change the way that the Supreme Court is selected, taking away from both the President and Congress. How about some kind of election among the bar…or something.

2229: Under absolute, literal siege by the Obama administration. Obama and his cabinet are absolutely camped out outside of coal plants, literally bombarding the coal plants with cannonballs and molten oil.

2231: That fly is absolutely feasting on these literal piles of steaming….I actually don’t believe that, I just thought it was funny.

2233: Climate change, poor, marginalized, climate change.

2234: Karl Becker for the win. Clinton was struggling, but pulled it out. She’s no longer talking about the question, however. Waiting for Trump’s answer, but jabber jabber jabber. Hilary doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up. That’s a good compliment. That was a good question. I’m writing in Karl Becker.

2238: I don’t get Fox’s strategy here. They are submarining the entire political process, talking about how ugly this election is. I mean, I agree with them. Actually, try to put your finger on why people hate Clinton, based on the debates at least. She hasn’t been an awful person in the debates. Nor was Trump this debate. This wasn’t that bad.

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Rock and the Hard Place

Full disclosure: I loath Donald Trump and only dislike Hilary Clinton. I find it unlikely that these opinions will change. That said, I will do my best to impartially judge the one liners and ranting lunacy.

2055: Why is Kevin James’ TV wife so good looking? What is it about Kevin James?

2100: I’m watching on CBS. I don’t think it makes a difference.

2101: Why did we do this to ourselves? Yuck.

2102: I’m not impressed by these people on CBS.

2104: They just showed up – more undecided? I don’t know anyone who might possibly like the Don that does not already.

2104: I think I’m going to get some scotch if there’s a commercial break.

2105: It’s sexist to talk about Clinton’s hideous red pant suit so I’m not going to.

2106: Income inequality is bad, economy is good – I smell a tax cut for the rich.

2108: I think we have a child out of bed and wandering around.

2109: Trump is hilarious. Mexico and China; bang that drum. Forget the job report, forget the economic data.

2111: Trickle down economics. “Trumped up Trickle down”. That’s the fourth time she’s spat some hokey pre-planned comment.

2113: Very small $14 million dollar loan. Very very few maids and butlers, a minimal fleet of cars.

2114: That’s Administrative Assistant Clinton, thank you.

2115: Bring them back by not letting them leave. Someone points out he’s sniffely, he is. Ironic that he’s sick.

2117: Trump cannot not bud in. In 12 minutes, he’ll be interrupting and talking over her every 20 seconds.

2119: Thesaurus: Semi-Exact –> approximate. “Pseudo-Precise” thinks Jen.

2119: I mean 2 minutes, not 12 minutes.

2121: She may never get another word in edgewise.

2122: “Donald, I know you live in your own reality.” Zing!

2123: He cannot help himself. The meds are already wearing off.

2124: “Lester, I tell you this”…Who is Lester? Wait, doesn’t someone normally ask questions in these debates?

2125: HilaryClinton.com is a fact checker. Good idea. Side note: Neither of your plans are going to be implemented.

2126: Cut the mike.

2128: Guys, I’m not going to make it another 20 minutes.

2129: Shut up!

2131: I hope Obama does golf the rest of his life. He keeps saying he’s under audit and cannot release. That’s not a thing.

2133: He’s been under audit for 15 years – I doubt he’ll be done in the next month.

2134: Yeah Lester, tough guy on the audience. Can’t get Trump to shut his mouth for 20 seconds in a row, pick on the faceless peons.

2135: “That makes me smart.”

2136: Something he’s hiding…kinda like those emails. Both of you, ugh.

2138: Braggadocios. That’s how spell check renders it.

2139: Or maybe because you haven’t paid any income tax! Zing! Big hit.

2142: I’m getting bored with this. Also, I don’t really blame him for taking advantage of the laws. I also think he’ll tailor the laws to suit his interests.

2143: If he thinks he’s going to confine the defense industry into a fixed price box…that ain’t gonna fly.

2146: The problem for Clinton. She’s talking right now, saying, blah blah blah. Straightforward, what everyone always says. I want to hear Trump blow hot air again. But then he doesn’t say anything that means anything. I just want him to talk so that he can implode. Surely he will soon.

2148: He’s about to say he doesn’t like guns. Say it, say it!

2149: Note: if you want to build a relationship with me, feel free to stop and frisk.

2151: Let’s talk about black people, a topic on which we are both experts.

2153: I also loath the gun lobby as much as I loath the Donald.

2154: Agree on implicit bias. No one else will that doesn’t already believe it.

2155: The Donald and the no fly list, good for you.

2156: I think Trumps people have a way to taser him. He’s calmed down a lot in the last 20 minutes.

2158: Trump and the manipulation of black voters for temporary gains.

2200: Trump is telling a very confusing story about Maclachi.

2204: Holier than though barb is decent.

2206: One of those things…one of those things you know about if you make $649 million a year.

2208: Private sector hacking is probably worse.

2210: He just lost the obese vote.

2211: Donald wants to cyber.

2214: Whenever she goes off script she says something awkward.

2216: “Longest military alliance in the history of the world…” Fact checkers!? Get on that one. NATO is like 65 years old. No.

2218: Donald is very focused on Donald.

2221: I think Lester is about to ask Donald when he stopped beating his wife, if Lester ever gets to speak again.

2222: Trump’s temperament.

2225: I almost want him to be president to prove him wrong.

2227: They’ve both dropped “cavalier” in 3 minutes.

2228: I’m going to bed. This is paining me. I’m depressed. Clinton was far less of a obnoxious blowhard, but no one changed their mind.

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Hillary Cheney

Many people despise Hilary Clinton. She is the ultimate opportunist, backroom oligarch. She has done things that would get other people fired, and is so far undisciplined. She may even end up president, despite all this.

In other words, she’s a liberal Dick Cheney. Recall, half of the population loathes Dick Cheney for equal and opposite reasons. He’s a shrewd operator who tests the bounds of legality to accomplish his goals. While Clinton is a woman who threatens the conservative mindset, Cheney is an old white man who personifies it.

I dislike both of them. I don’t like that they represent an America whose leaders are chosen from a privileged minority of power brokers. But I don’t really hate either. They are products of their environment, bred to fulfill a role in a system that requires such polarization. Maybe we can find some camaraderie in the fact that 80% of us loathe someone for similar reasons.

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Let’s say that a third of Americans are Republicans, a third Democrats, and a third somewhere in the middle (with me). Right now, something like a third of Republicans are all about Donald Trump, which is noteworthy because he’s an insane neo-fascist megalomaniac. That’s about 1/9th of the population. I routinely cull my Facebook friends, but currently have about 250. Statistically speaking, I should have about 30 Trump supporting friends. They should be super excited since no one like him has ever attempted to run for president, and they should be overflowing my feed with calls to bomb Aladdin’s hometown or exterminate religious minorities. But they’re not. Silence. Since I stay fairly close to the center, I have a lot of conservative facebook friends who consider me a militant liberal since I’m the most liberal person in their circle and a lot of liberal facebook friends who think I’m the second coming of Newt Gingrich because they can tolerate no further right perspective than mine.

And therein lies your explanation. Most people are entirely stovepiped. I’d love to see an infographic from Facebook showing the interconnectedness of people politically. Let’s say that we all just told everyone who we wanted to vote for right now. Then, let’s draw different colored lines from you to all your supporters. I’d have 100 Hilary people, 25 Sanders people, 50 Rubio people, a dozen Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Fiorina, and than like four Cruz and Carson and two closeted Trumps. But there are A LOT of Cruz and Trump supporters. They might have 80% of their friends split between Cruz/Trump (natural bed fellows), with their feeds all about making America Great again, like when we had slavery and so on.

That we are polarized as a country and planet is not a novel observation. I just want someone to render it in a graphic. We cluster ourselves into these narrow silos of like thought. It’s no wonder we hate everything else. We can’t possibly understand it. We drink our own bathwater, almost exclusively. We only hear the strawman version of other people’s views. Everyone on our feed bashes Obama, so we think that everyone must think he’s awful, regardless of what the economy says. There are people out there that think Trump is preaching the Gospel, and all of their friends confirm this assessment. No one reminds them that we all kind of felt bad about interning the Japanese in WWII, because all the people that would have that perspective are having apoplectic seizures about how horrible Cruz and Trump are to each other. No one is convinced. No one is educated. No one sees the other side. No one even looks.

This graphic would show a world divided, two ships, at full sail, passing in the night.

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I’m not the first person to have had this thought. And this chain of events certainly won’t play out; I am, like everyone, apathetic and defeated when it comes to politics. But it would be interesting if it did.

Maybe one day I go to a democratic debate and tell them I’m going to ask a question about, I dunno, how to reform the health care system while still hanging on to the beneficial parts. A layup, they’re all excited to answer it. But instead, when I get the mike, I say, “There are 300 million people in this country, yet we get our leaders from two prominent families. Is there something wrong with our system, or are you really just better than the rest of us?” Hilary Clinton, who has heard this before, will brush it off, saying that she’s not her husband’s shadow and can stand on her own record. The other candidates will cower from it, since they know that Hilary will represent the party and they don’t want to step out of line. The most republicans won’t even touch it, lest they be blatant(er) hypocrites when the next Bush sibling wins their primary.

But maybe the press would give me my bully pulpit for a few days as a reward for my audacity. They’d say “Why do you think that we keep selecting candidates from the Bush/Clinton clan?” and they’d ask me if this is a bad thing.

Winning a presidential election requires two things: money and notoriety. Enough of the latter, and you’ll receive the former (ala Obama, circa 2008). The Clintons and the Bushes have both, in spades. Why does money matter so much? Because campaign finance is hopelessly broken. And why can only a select few achieve the required level of notoriety? Because the voting districts are so hopelessly gerrymandered that the party selects candidates that it knows can’t lose and breeds them to promulgate their political endgame.

Is it a bad thing that only rich and influential people are qualified to govern our country? Only indirectly. A lot of rich people are rich for a reason. They’re smarter, work harder, are savvier, are trickier, are more brutal. These are good qualities to have in a leader. There’s a reason why us listless youths aren’t in charge; we’re not particularly good at focusing on big picture plans. I’m fine with our leaders coming from a narrow aristocracy; say the top 0.5%. It’s how the founding father’s envisioned it, after all. If we pay enough lip service to the fact that we’re still a meritocracy, we’ll be OK despite this. That top 0.5% probably includes within it half of the qualified folks, and that’s a big enough sample size to have some choice. But when we elect on notoriety and money exclusively, we end up with bumbling Bushes election after election.

Surely we can do better than to select candidates from one family or another. Hilary Clinton, I’m sure she’s great. She’s nothing like her husband, none of the smooth charm, so she must have something else keeping her afloat. And Jeb Bush doesn’t seem quite as dunderheaded has his likable brother. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t elect them if for no other reason than the principle of the thing. That doesn’t mean we won’t; if you gave me even odds that either Jeb or Hilary would win, I’d take that bet in a heartbeat. But we shouldn’t. Chelsea’s not old enough to continue it after 8 years, so I feel like we’ll probably want to break that habit at some point. The Bush girls never really seemed serious enough to inherit the kingdom either.

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I’ve done all the other debates, might as well do the last one. I like foreign policy. I’m sure there will be a lot of pointless rhetoric (as with everything) but at least the other people are the bad guys. I also think there’s a big distinction between the candidates, with Romney favoring a more traditional American Superpower worldview, with Obama taking a more subtle worldview which doesn’t project power so virulently.

Anyway, coverage to start when the debate does.

2058: I’m watching this on ABC again, and Broke Girls is on before the debate. I’d atrocious, and I’ve only seen 3 minutes of it.

2100: Bob Schieffer huh. Good, both Jen and I like the seated debates better. It’s harder to be an asshat to the moderator when he’s 2.5 feet in front of you.

2103: The Cuban Missile Crisis was pretty nutty. We did a great job on that one.

2104: I wish they’d just start the debate. Romney is sometimes funny not on purpose. I like his new, gentler approach. Apparently “mean” didn’t poll well. We can’t “kill our way out of this mess”. We’re currently trying to Drone our way out of it, and it’s not working very well. We kill some good people to kill, but every dead child destabilizes Pakistan a little more. Forget Iran, Pakistan HAS nukes.

2107: Obama now taking credit for Libya. And going after Romney.

2108: Romney to go after the bad guys. He’s going to interrupt them. He’s very skilled at that. Al Qaeda Interrupted.

2109: Ugh. I hate economic development in the Middle East, but it’s perhaps a necessity. Again, think of Pakistan. We give them so much money, and all they do is suck.

2110: Obama is picking at gaffes, not answering questions. He’s fixated on Romney’s flip-flopping, not on himself. I don’t like the tenor of his style tonight. Romney is conciliatory tonight, and Obama is coming out as a jerk. He’s doing it haltingly too.

2112: “Attacking me is not an agenda.” So far, Romney is winning, no question.

2114: Status of forces something something something. He said he said going on here.

2115: Ha! Obama got the Israel name drop in first! Vegas had Romney as a huge favorite on that. He’s got to be boiling.

2116: Let’s be clear, we’ve been ineffective in Syria. And it’s true, it’s a giant cluster. We can’t just arm whomever, ala Al Qaeda in the 80s.

2118: Romney and Obama just agreed. Let’s see if they argue about it anyway.

2121: For the record, killing Ghadfi WAS scope creep, when compared to the original UN resolution.

2124: Sorry, drifted off for a second. Obama namedropped Israel again. I thought he was anti-Israel.

2125: It’s hard to predict the future, and we liked Mubarak for long enough and he’s not a radical. This enlightened despot thing has always been a sticky subject for America.

2127: Yeah, Iran should be criticizing OUR economy. His opinion really matters…

2128: That’s awkward – Romney jumped the gun on the next question, and then had the first statement on that question. He has to say the same thing twice in a row.

2129: Man, I have another hour of this? By the way, I go in to work at 11:30 tonight and stay until 9 AM. That should be fun. Then repeat for the rest of the week.

2130: Romney just spoke for about 4 minutes in a row. I’d say our alliances are plenty strong in Asia, as Japan, S. Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and sort of Taiwan are all terrified of China.

2132: We cut oil because of the great recession. Everyone cut oil when industrial output plummeted.

2133: Romney just ignored the question, and now we’re talking about the economy. He has a 5-point plan! Yeah, zap those unions! I can’t stand unions. Meh, we’re far from Greece. I bet he had that statement prepared, and his handlers said, “if you find a question boring, just throw in that 5 point plan.”

2137: Give the kids an iPad!

2138: Where is Romney gonna get the money for defense? Obamacare.

2140: Obama back to the economy again. Yes, but our engineers make more than China’s engineers. Different costs to execute the same program between countries.

2143: Good news, the sequestration will not happen. Phew. Hey! Horses and bayonets! Ever heard of an aircraft carrier Governor Romney?! Heheheh! That was great. And he doesn’t like Romney’s website! I like that section, it was funny.

2145: Is an attack on Israel an attack on the United States? Obama: it already sort of is and it will sort of continue to be. Iran’s economy is falling to pieces, true.

2147: Romney’s got Israel’s back. Romney wants MORE crippling sanctions. Well, what is Israel picks the fight with Iran, then what do we do? Cause once they hit Netanyahooooo’s cartoon bomb red line, they’re going to try to ineffectively bust their bunkers.

2152: Romney is accusing Obama of trying to engage in diplomacy with other countries. Shame on you, you filthy apologist.

2154: Whoppers. Did you know that Wendy’s is bigger than Burger King? I was confused when I heard that.

2156: We have not dictated to other nations, we have freed from dictators. That’s a packaged remark.

2157: Obama saw real things in Israel, Romney raised money.

2159: Glad you threw out that question, instead of just ignoring it. Which is OK, it was a semi-dumb question. But then he took the rest of the time to talk about other stuff. First rule of debating: Always use as much time as you possibly can.

2202: In Obama’s opinion, we should have killed Bin Laden. Controversial to no one.

2203: Schieffer points out that Romney rambled also. Glad Romney took it in stride. He’s not terrible. I liked Huntsman the best, but the Etch-A-Sketch Romney’s not terrible.

2207: Afghanistan and Iraq might both fall apart before the end of the next term, whoever is president.

2208: Did Schieffer just called him Obama Bin Laden? And what about that Dr that helped us get Bin Laden? What an injustice that was…we should have taken him with us when we got Bin Laden. I’d divorce Jen if she had 100 nuclear weapons. No offense honey, but that’s just irresponsible.

2211: The F-35 is the US’s last manned fighter aircraft. Drones to reign supreme, and we are going to need to make some real rules about that. What if Mexico started bombing drug figures in Arizona? Would we be cool with that?

2216: I don’t like protectionism. But I would have lived cheaper tires.

2217: Romney and Obama both make conciliatory statements toward China.

2219: Romney just made a good point about the trade war, and illustrated it well too. Good stuff from Romney.

2221: Obama is not doing well tonight. He’s trying to fixate on Romney and it’s not working.

2223: All the sudden Romney is trying to stay above the mud slinging. It’s a tactical move, not a life choice. But it’s still working for me at least. It makes Obama look childish. He antagonized him for two debates, got him all stirred up, then backed off. A clever plan.

2226: I wonder who was wrong about that whole bankruptcy business.

2227: Both Obama and Romney are tweeting while they’re debating. Are they doing it directly from their minds? Don’t tell me those tweets aren’t really from them. Appleton, WI! I think he used that last time.

2228: Closing statements. BTW, Lynn University? Never heard of it. Obama in the middle of a good closing statement. Unless Romney really botches his closing, he won this debate, however.

2231: I do get the sense that Romney is winging this closing statement. Bad idea. Obama was muddled throughout, but left everyone with a good taste in their mouth. Romney is now going to work across the aisle. He would NEVER have made it out of the primary if he said that then.

2233: Romney won this, 65-35. America’s not the hope of the earth though, but whatever. Mormon might not understand that.

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Live blogging on the crazy, town hall style debate with Bess.

2102: When do we get one of those hot Fox News anchors to moderate one of these. I love what they do with the English language.

2103: Jeremy’s question can be ignored by the opening statement. He wants a job, Mitt is gonna give him a scholarship.

2105: I’m going to have more fun with the questioners than the candidates I think. He knows how to make jobs, but doesn’t mention how.

2106: The president didn’t ask him if he had a liberal arts degree before saying that his future was bright. It’s the attention to detail that the president lacks. Now he’s offering him a job in a factory. The man’s got a Interdisciplinary Studies degree, he doesn’t want to work in a factory!

2107: Now he’s giving him a windmill. An energy efficient car. And no war. So, a job I guess. To summarize, Mitt mentions that he can make a job, gives no detail how. The president mentions several things unrelated to Jeremy’s job. Good answers.

2108: Good point by Romney on people dropping out of the workforce. We keep not mentioning that.

2110: Obama coming out swinging. Rich people have different rules, he says.

2111: Phillip is from Long Island. He wants to know if the president can change gas prices, despite the fact that it’s nearly impossible since it’s a global commodity. Romney will say he’ll get it to $2.00 a gallon, and no one will offer me a bet against him.

2114: Policies instead of rhetoric says Romney. Romney is whacking him. Now, as it turns out, I agree with Obama’s environmental policy. But the court of public opinion is against him.

2116: Candy is going after the president with this “new normal” business.

2118: I think I see a block of Mormons just to the left of Romney.

2118: They might actually fight. Wow. The fact checkers are going to tell us whether his claim is true.

2120: This is awkwardly contentious.

2121: Obama got a laugh from the audience at Romney’s expense.

2122: Romney just forced himself in, Candy, Candy, Candy. BTW, Candy?

2126: I can’t imagine how Romney’s math adds up.

2128: I can’t imagine how Obama’s math adds up.

2130: A little big of mathematical slight of hand here. He says the top-5% will continue to pay 60%. So, if you reduce the total tax income by giving a break to the middle class, you’ll have to cut it at the top too to keep it balanced. In fact, they’ll get 60% of the break.

2133: Loved Obama’s math lesson. It was just addition, even Long Islanders could follow. Great points here, this is the president’s best diatribe yet.

2136: Yes, trust me, the numbers add up, says Romney.

2137: Romney did definitely get less time there.

2138: Obama has women in his life. Romney’s a Mormon though, so he has MORE women in his life.

2139: Romney threw a bone or two to some poor women when governor. It is true that women have lost more good jobs in the last 4 years.

2142: Why don’t I get paternity leave?

2143: That’s a pocketbook issue? Come on Obama, that’s clearly a sexist phrase. Makeup is a pocketbook issue too.

2145: Pile on Uncle George! And Mitt is talking about something else.

2147: Poor Uncle George. He was like a sleeper Liberal in the White House, but the liberal’s hated him anyway because they’re such a bunch of intellectual elitists.

2148: Not that anyone is reading this, but Bess is putting some funny stuff up over there.

2150: I do like Bush’s immigration policy.

2151: Like the black guy’s gonna vote for Mitt Romney. Speaking of Al Qaeda, I’m not positive that this administration’s drone policies have been appropriate/legal.

2154: Obama is getting a huge percentage of the time.

2155: And, what about Guantanamo Bay?

2156: Not too hard to take shots at Obama’s record. Reagan, schmeagan. Romney knows that not all recessions are created equal.

2158: The immigrant just called Romney Mr. President. And she told him her name was GilLorraine and he believed her. Wow, that was classic.

2159: Agreed! Green cards to educated immigrants! It’s so obvious – steal the talented people from other countries. And he has a good point that illegal immigrants take the spots of legal immigrants. But legal immigrants don’t pick oranges, and neither do Americans. Illegal immigration is the bastard child of capitalism. We don’t want to be $7 a lb for oranges. We don’t want to earn $7 an hour to pick them either.

2202: The flow of illegal immigrants is because the economy is in the tank. Come on Barack, don’t even bring that up. Obama did make the economy so bad that the immigrants self-deported.

2204: Romney does point out that it wasn’t HIS fault 4 years ago. He was drinking Shirley Temples in a dark closet.

2206: Hip hip-hipp hipp hippity hippity hop. Obama’s pension not as big as Romney’s. Good point.

2208: A boy named Sue. Obama confused by looking for a girl named Kerry.

2210: Obama didn’t answer Sue’s question.

2215: Crowds can be terrifying too. Romney just felt chastised, I think.

2217: I can never remember anyone’s name when they tell it to me. Nor can I pronounce my own name. We actually sent assault rifles to Mexico!

2218: I think guns are dumb. We need to get rid of almost all of those.

2219: Yes, we don’t need assault rifles.

2220: Why is it “of course not automatic weapons”, but “of course yes semi-automatic weapons”?

2221: Get married before your kid. Also, get a haircut and get a real job.

2222: Fast and Furious – killed AN American, points out Jen.

2223: I don’t hunt, but if I could hunt with a bazooka, I might try it.

2224: I wonder if Candy knew she’d only get like 7 questions in. I wanted more questions.

2225: The president wants to talk about something else.

2226: Manufacturing leaves because it’s cheaper there. Let’s get rid of unions. Seriously though folks, rapid prototyping is what is going to put America back on top.

2228: Yuck on the currency manipulator business. I doubt he’ll introduce tariffs…because Americans will impeach him if iPhones get even more expensive.

2229: Interestingly, Canada has universal health care. They call it HoserCare.

2230: I was hoping to go to bed at 10:30 guys. Blah blah, OK, time to move on.

2232: The IP stuff is real. Den of thieves over there.

2234: Barry Green loves him some Barry Green. And what a softball!

2235: Massachusetts under Romney sounds like nirvana. And with all those Kennedys!

2236: Most common misconception about Romney? “I will get America working again.”

2237: Most common misconception about Obama? “The next generation has the same opportunities.”

2238: Thanks for answering the questions fellas.

2241: Meh, I don’t know who won. Obama was better than last time. Romney wasn’t any better, and the expectations were higher. We’ll split it.

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Vice Presidential Debate

I’m late because of Bible Study, but here we go.

2108: Biden blibbering and blabbering, uhh, umm, well, uhh, let me tell you, bleh, blah.

2111: Good for Paul Ryan pointing out we should apologize for Taliban urination.

2113: Wife home, hang on. OK, she’s taken care of.

2115: I like this debate better. These guys are less polished.

2116: Biden not going to disclose classified information. Good for you Joe. Good citizen there.

2117: What’s the deal with the little triangle of hair in the middle of Ryan’s forehead.

2118: Biden looks ridiculous. He’s going to explode. I can’t wait until he does.

2119: Ryan charming there, calling Biden Irish. They had to taser Biden for a week of intensive training to keep him from just saying “shit” outright.

2120: Biden is right – nuclear fission is not an easy process. It requires an awful lot of engineering prowess that not a lot of people have.

2122: Biden is patronizing and seething. I love this. He’s a loose cannon. They need to get him off the ticket. Zing! Romney’s a flip-flopper! Just like John Kerry!

2123: Jen notices that the VPs are sitting. Good observation. They should always do that. They seem more comfortable.

2124: Jen confused about Joe Biden’s age, thinks it’s implausible that his parents are still alive.

2125: Biden’s a bulldog. If I remember right, I liked him best in the democratic debates in 2008. Here’s the post from that debate.

2126: Here’s a nice story. Mitt Romney’s a good guy. Ryan zings Biden for his gaffes! Funny! Hahah!

2129: Biden’s family died. Did not know that. That’s a sad story. Biden just knocked out his speech, until the moderator cut him off. She’s got a ton more authority than Lehrer. She should be the democratic vice president.

2132: Martha, Martha, Martha.

2133: The stimulus was a good idea. Sorry Republicans. We’re in a really bad state if that doesn’t happen.

2134: Biden is being something of a condescending ass though.

2135: Ryan gave a nice little speech. Yes, you need to entitlement reform too. See this is easy.

2136: No, Ryan didn’t talk about death panels Joe. Yes, Sarah Palin is a clown. We need to merge these people and together they might be sensible.

2138: Ryan hasn’t been obnoxious. But Biden is twice as aggressive as Romney. Ryan annoyed at interruptions.

2139: O’s tied 1-1.

2140: Yes, Joe, quite interrupting.

2141: Yes, we need to raise the retirement age. People live longer now.

2144: Joe, hush! Ryan just zapped him, and he got obnoxious.

2145: Biden arguing with Raddatz now too.

2145: 800 million billion dollars! I think we call that quadrillion.

2147: You guys interpret numbers differently. You have your own statisticians and your own think tanks supporting you. You’re throwing numbers at each other that are meaningless.

2148: From former college teammate:
“…We need to be careful about raising the retirement age not bc its wrong but because life expectancy is different for different groups of people. Don’t call it retirement if parts of the population wont live that long.” Nice point. Maybe if those different groups had health care, their life expectancy would change too.

2150: This is is an obnoxious back and forth. Biden interrupts to ask if he can interrupt.

2153: I wonder what it means to “demagogue” them?

2153: Ryan has been very patient. He should snap.

2154: Wow, it’s hard to get anything out of this.

2156: Biden is right on one point – we don’t need more tanks and our military agrees with that premise.

2157: OK, not for nothing, but we have a decade long war and lost 2000 men? Vietnam was like 60,000 wasn’t it?

2158: The Afghans just mow through superpowers.

2200: Jeter just struck out. Yeah boy!

2202: Let me tell you what will happen in Afghanistan in 2014. We’ll still have 10s of thousands of troops there. The “combat” mission will end, but we will still be there. Our troops will still die. Biden is going to deal in semantics.

2203: They say Martha’s name a lot more than they were saying Jim’s name last week. Maybe they should say “Martha, Sweetheart”.

2205: Both of these guys are less polished in their English than the presidential debate.

2206: The calendar works the same every year. They agree on that. Sort of.

2207: Biden is correct – a lot easier to fight a war in Libya than Syria. I think he answered that Syria question properly.

2209: Never fight a ground war in Asia.

2210: Ryan right too. Though I think it’s irresponsible to completely bypass the UN. Good point on Biden – you say you don’t go through the UN – but what DO you do?

2213: This debate IS historic. Historically obnoxious and contentious.

2214: Statements of faith. And now abortion. By the way, the baby is alive at 7 weeks. That heart was pounding away. The baby was squirming and moving.

2216: You can hear Biden huffing in the background when he’s off the screen.

2217: Biden’s religion makes him interrupt, because that’s who he is, an interrupter. Now, here he goes on abortion.

2218: Interestingly, there are people out there that are trying to outlaw circumcision, but they’re cool with abortion. Silly, I know.

2220: Come on, the Dems would pick someone equally radical for the Supreme Court – just the opposite sort of radical.

2222: Wow, the moderator asked Biden if he was embarrassed about the tone of the campaign. Let’s see if it answers the question. About the campaign. Here’s a 47% comment. Are you going to answer the question? There we go, finally. For about 4 seconds he talked about SuperPACs which I hate because I think we need major campaign finance reform.

2224: Let’s see if Ryan gets to the part about the campaign attack ads. He, ironically, goes on the attack in answer to the question. OK, he’s not answering that question very well either, as he can’t criticize the SuperPACs.

2226: Ryan’s character is about 12 million jobs. Glad we did that.

2228: Biden’s character is the middle class.

2229: Biden’s closing, he calls his inheritance godawful. Yup, true.

2230: Top of the 9th. Thome up. How about a home run. Put poor Jim Johnson out there again with a one run lead.

2230: Paul Ryan thanks Joe Biden. I like these token statements.

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First Presidential Debate

I’m on ABC today – time for the Presidential Debate. I’ll be blogging live alongside Bess, a raging feminist liberal who is apparently currently drunk. Me, I’m tearing up my house for the baby.

I don’t know if ABC is a liberal news establishment, but I do know that they have a PBS guy moderating. He doesn’t want boos and hisses, that won’t be fun.

2103: They meet in the middle – I wish I could read lips. Fraudulent smiles all around.

2105: Obama gets us off on the right foot – he’s asked a question, he talks about things other than the question. That’s my main metric for tonight, number of times the candidates answer something other than the question.
BO: 1, MR: –

2106: Mitt has a “tender” moment with Barack. Mitt’s finding Joe the Plumber in Dayton and Denver. Mitt is answering the question. Independence, free trade, skills, small business, and something in the middle. He did answer the question. He’s falling behind. “Tickle down government”. Zing!

2108: BO, please respond directly to Mitt’s statement. BO: Let me tell you something about job training.
BO: 2, MR: 0

2111: Romney makes a good point – the rich will live richly regardless of the president. Good point. Uhh, no gas hasn’t doubled. Bess also makes a good point. Mitt’s hair is plasticine.

2112: I do like lists. Romney keeps making lists. I don’t want permits on government land. But it’s consistent with his view.

2114: Obama pointing out that Romney is making promises that are impossible. I do like the differences in body language. Romney looks excited while Obama is talking, possibly even coked up. Obama looks bored, possibly asleep.

2118: Obama oversells the amount of extra money the government will be able to extract from the wealthy. That said, I’m cool with them paying a higher tax rate. He just oversells its economic impact.

2120: Romney does seem to be enjoying himself. He’s not a train wreck.

2122: Not for nothing, but I have tons and tons of deductions and exemptions. I can see why people would like to get rid of them…but I like them. BTW, reducing deductions and loopholes is probably regressive against the middle class, what with their mortgages and whatever.

2125: Don’t bully Jim Lehrer, Mitt. Bullies never win and winners never bully!

2126: Deficit is immoral. How do you cut it? Taxes, cut spending, grow economy. How about all three? Why do we have to throw out one entirely?

2127: Mitt hit a home run with the borrow to China thing, with the Big Bird thing, and with the liking Jim thing. That said, I rather like PBS, except for when they call me CONSTANTLY as they are now. They’re almost as bad as the Red Cross.

2129: Mitt’s patronizing smirk is bothering me. Not gonna lie.

2130: Good for Obama, both revenue and spending cuts.

2131: Mitt’s trillion and “hey, you had 4 years” business was good work. He’s totally wrong about the bi-partisan budget plan. Obama let that rot on the vine. That was bad. He had to grab that and work off of it.

2135: Yes, eliminate government subsidies. Start with biofuels.

2136: Just got bored. Zzzz…

2137: I think Mitt has allergies are something. He’s looking nostalgic.

2139: I kinda like states covering the poor. “States are the laboratories of democracy”. Good.

2143: Bess just had a good Pelosi joke.

2143: I grilled some cabbage tonight for dinner. It was tasty, as far as cabbage goes.

2145: Romney and Ryan have such a complicated relationship. They both want to keep the stick of the other off of them, but they need each other to maintain their internal, Republican power base.

2147: Romney’s blinking a lot too. He has eye problems, medical ones. I’m not sure I need to hold his glassiness against him. What do you think about the voucher system Mitt?

2148: Obama has made universal healthcare the standard. Now Romney needs a plan which includes some aspect of universal health care. In that sense, Obamacare is a success.

2152: Jim’s getting catty. I’m losing focus.

2153: We did a reasonable job on regulation. Dodd-Frank is too complicated. Was their too much oversight? Obviously not.

2155: Good point on clear regulations for Mitt. Nobody’s winning this debate. Jim wants to go to Health Care. I thought we were already talking about that.

2156: I hate personal stories. People from Wisconsin and small businesses blah blah blah. I hate it when they put a human face on things. I’m with Elliot – how about we get some real numbers, and look at those. If there’s anything that needs a good statistic, it’s government.

2158: We’re in an anecdotal evidence fight now. A family in Sheboygan, Michigan pitted against a small business in Duluth, Minnesota. Grudge match.

2159: Another personal tidbit, I was up at 4:45 this morning so that I could start a bench shift at 6 AM.

2159: Does anyone else think that kids should grow up sooner? Move off the parent’s health insurance?

2200: Obama just charmed his way out of the 2-minute warning. And that little point to the side was him motioning for the Navy Seals to be deployed to Jim Lehrer’s house. I see a neck snap in his future.

2202: What if they mandated that states guarantee insurance? Cut a bunch of federal aid if they don’t do it. Is that a terrible idea?

2204: Reduce health care costs = make medical school cost less + make liability less of an issue.

2205: Obama likes buying health care in bulk and trying to find efficient testing methodologies. What’s the downside there? By the way, my health insurance at work costs a whole lot more than it did 4 years ago. Just saying.

22:06: My eyeballs are tired.

2207: Something funny just happened off stage. Was there a streaker? I wish I could see what Barack was looking at.

2207: A while ago, Hanna “I” told me I could never run for political office. Now, I am pretty good with words. But I could never do a debate like this – these guys are so well drilled. In addition, I’d be fidgeting like crazy. Would people find it endearing? Probably not. Bess would make fun of me.

2210: This has been a good debate. Maybe not particularly exciting, but Mitt is doing well, and Obama is his normal eloquent self. He’s becoming more sacrastic and ironic though.

2211: Jen wants to punch Mitt in the face for pushing Jim around. Obama did it 10 minutes ago, but was charming about it.

2214: Even when Obama bumbles, he does it well. Everything he says sounds halfway epic.

2217: Mitt is doing a decent job answering the role of gov’t question. He really is doing quite well.

2218: Romney just called “low income” kids “poor” kids. Who does he think he is, a normal person? A president can’t call people poor.

2219: Budgets reflect principles says Obama, good point. Non-detailed Republican trend, says Obama, good point.

2220: I am getting bored. Jim really is giving Obama more leeway with the time thing.

2222: He’s still going. Cut him off. President not entitled to his own facts, says Romney. Romney is doing a good job hammering the green job thing – by the way, government subsidies in new technologies is not bad.

2224: Jim just used 1 of those last 3 minutes warning about the lack of minutes left.

2225: Bess keep hammering Mormons, and I’m cool with that, since they made up their religion less than 200 years ago and use a bastardized version of Christianity as their basis. But Obama is nominally protestant, and we’re not a whole lot less evangelical in our worldview.

2227:53: Obama starts his “two minute” closing statement. Here’s more “people”. Woman in NC, company in Minnesota. Auto workers in Toledo and Detroit. How many conceptual names can he drop? I wonder if those people or businesses actually exist. No one could call him on it, as they are too vague to be verifiable. 2230:07 – not bad.

2230:10: Romney’s up. Boy, he’s been pretty good. His campaign’s decision to make him into the underdog was a good idea – he was not overmatched here. He hasn’t fake name dropped yet. 2:01 for Mitt! Wow.Good timing.

Man. I’m going to bed.

2233: Look at all those robot children Romney has! That was a nice moment, those families milling about.

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It is impossible to deal with universal health care and the individual mandate debate without getting sucked into a bizarre menagerie of misinformation, twisted truths and politicized contradictions. On one hand, the democrats want to stifle your freedoms while pandering to huddled masses of lazy society-sucking leeches. On the other hand, the republicans, who play king of the hill on the moral high ground, feel that it is the American way to deprive the poor of a decent quality of life because of whatever inborn moral failings rendered them poor from birth. Battle lines are drawn, as each prepares for war against fictitious straw men of their own creations. Everyone argues past everyone else, no one is ever able to find common ground to start a real, civil discussion. I don’t get why people see this as so cut and dry, but I believe that humans are conflict-driven. We don’t find our identity until we oppose something, and as such compromise becomes an existential threat to our core. I don’t see this as a black and white issue. Here’s the way that I view the health care problem.

The Individual Mandate
Many see this as a wanton attack on their personal freedoms. Why, after all, should you be forced to purchase health insurance? I see several reasons – we’ll start with the most basic and move to the more subtle.

Because you can avoid driving, but can’t avoid dying
You should be forced to have health insurance for the same reason you’re forced to purchase car insurance. You are a drain on society at large when you show up to a hospital with some expensive condition, but no way to pay for it. You see, despite how the republicans would probably like it to function, when someone shows up at a hospital bleeding, they treat first, ask questions later. In fact, they’ll willingly treat patients that they know don’t have insurance. It a strange sort of ethics, helping those in need. Whether or not you’re prepared for sickness or injury, it will happen anyway.

But, you aren’t forced to by car insurance, you might say. That’s very true – you are free to not drive a car. But you’re not free to not live. The only way one can avoid the possibility of ever needing medical attention is to cease to exist, and the dead rarely vote in enough numbers to have their views properly represented.

Because medical expenses are ridiculously expensive
But why is medical treatment so expensive? Partly because doctors have to go to school for like a decade before they can practice. As with basically every field in a free market, the more difficult and time consuming your skill is to acquire, the more money you make to practice it. There are other principle drivers in health care cost beyond this obvious and necessary one, as only the very ignorant begrudge the skilled of their just payment. One is overhead, something the government is very good at (in the “they are so inefficient that there is a lot of overhead” sort of way). Another is liability. If a doctor can be sued for $4 million dollars, that money has to be made up somewhere. You don’t show up for your physical and see a $4 million dollar tab because the last guy sued, but 4 million people see an extra dollar, and you’re paying for hundreds of such egregiously overboard lawsuits whenever you see a doctor. It’s a fine line, as lawsuits are a good way to enforce good policy (don’t let your doctors work 36 hours in a row) and dissuade careless mistakes. But I believe reform is needed.

By the way, an aside here. Last year, it cost Medicare $55 billion to cover the last two months of patient’s lives, 30% of which was completely meaningless expense (a source, if that’s allowed). If a treatment doesn’t have any scientific usefulness, why should we pay for it? It’s not like the patient is paying for it – the patient’s insurance and my premiums are paying for it. It sounds reasonable to me that evidence-based medicine, regulated by experts, researchers and doctors should be making decisions about what is and what is not a useful expenditure. We might, for lack of better term, call such a group of experts a Death Panel. You’ve got to give it to Sarah Palin, she’s got a way with the people. Terminology like that is what has gotten us into this political civil war.

Because insurance is supposed to win more bets than it loses
But none of this is why there’s an individual mandate. The reason why Romneycare and Obamacare entail an individual mandate is because there’s no way the insurance companies would take on the rest of the bill without it. When asked what they like about Obamacare, people respond by saying that they like things like a) keeping your dependents on your insurance until they’re 26, b) not having a lifetime max, and c) not being denied insurance for existing conditions. All of these things cost the insurance companies lots of money. If you were an insurance company, why in the world would you provide insurance to someone with a pre-existing condition??? The way you make money is by betting that people, as a whole, will pay more in premiums than they spend in expenses. It’s a guaranteed loss if you insure someone with an existing condition. So…why do people want the ability to get insurance with a pre-existing condition? Because they don’t like the idea of dying! Or they lose their job, and then get a new job, despite the fact that they have cancer. It’s not rocket science (though it might be brain surgery, which will set you back 6 figures). The individual mandate exists for the purpose of providing a guaranteed pool of good bets to counter-balance the bad bets that the insurance companies are forced to take on by the other provisions. Romney’s no economic dummy; that’s why he did it in MA.

Because something’s wrong with this picture
Here’s a survey of who doesn’t have health insurance. Let’s cover “who does have health insurance”:
1) Rich people
2) White people
3) Old people (from the government)
Who doesn’t? Minorities and the poor. Really, it’s the poor – and were you aware that minorities were disproportionately poor? They must lack the good, old, puritan work ethic, right? Or perhaps we’re not as much the land of the free that we think we are? Maybe there exist conditions that foster a tiny bit of injustice? I don’t want to sound too much like one of those bleeding heart liberals or anything, but, really, you’d rather just let people rot in a miserable existence and then die due to lack of care?

The current way doesn’t work!
This is almost too obvious. Here are some more facts. We are horribly inefficient RIGHT NOW, with no Obamacare, with no Romneycare, with our plain old busted up system. Somebody’s got to do something!

In conclusion
There are reasons for an individual mandate, and a whole different set of reasons for why some form of universal health care is a good idea in general. Perhaps this isn’t an issue for the federal government – I can buy that. Perhaps we’d be better off if the state governments set up exchanges, provided a subsidy system akin to food stamps for health care vouchers, then privatized the industry in a decade. There are ways that such a system could be implemented better. But this isn’t about freedom. No one is free to choose to screw over the rest of society. And society isn’t free to choose to screw over those whose voices are too weak to buy themselves the influence to represent their viewpoints either.

For further reading, see Jen K, who has my full support in all things she does, though I find her bolded quote to be an oversimplification, one seeped in conflict and one that would be hard pressed to compromise. Trench warfare with an impossible gap between.

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Republican Debate

I’m not going to live blog this debate. I don’t want to watch the whole thing. But this is too fantastic.

9:10 PM: Romney just hammered Gingrich. Hammered him. Obama could use those exact words against him. Wow. And Gingrich is horrid.

9:13 PM: Santorum sounding sensible here, comparatively at least.

9:15 PM: Paul whacks Gingrich again – says Congress was chaos when he was in charge.

9:18 PM: Why exactly is gold useful as a currency? It’s sort of arbitrary, isn’t it?

9:21 PM: Romney won’t pay more taxes than he owes. But he should owe more.

9:23 PM: Brian Williams doing a good job here. Jen points out that he looks good too.

9:24 PM: Bet Romney’s not bragging about Staples in 5 years. Hashtag ExpectExtinction.

9:25 PM: So, are we looking at Romney and Santorum vs Gingrich and Paul? By the way, I’m thinking that Wall Street’s failure would have been a good thing.

9:27 PM: So all this about lobbyists being bad, does that mean we’re going to get rid of it? Maybe we should make laws against lobbyists?

9:30 PM: Both Romney and Gingrich started off being very civil. Not any more.

9:32 PM: Gingrich just made sense on the insensibility of government medicare policies.

9:38 PM: I am looking forward to when Obama debates whoever comes out of this. I’d like to hear something different. Everybody sounds smart when they’re the only ones presenting an argument.

9:43 PM: Romney sounds like he knows something about money.

9:44 PM: Wait, Fidel Castro isn’t dead?

9:44 PM: OK, fine, Fidel Castro is going to hell. Glad you guys have that figured out.

9:45 PM: We didn’t generate the Arab Spring.

9:46 PM: I like Paul talking about Cuba. Wow, great answer from Ron Paul. Too bad he’s an anarchist.

9:48 PM: Santorum! Axis of Evil! Al Qaeda’s going to nuke us from Cuba! Hehehehe!

9:49 PM: Love the two hawkish young white guys sitting behind Williams.

9:50 PM: I agree, navy ships are going to be around forever. We should make sure they have bayonets too.

9:51 PM: I’m about ready to leave this.

9:53 PM: Ron Paul just pointed out we committed the first act of war against Iran. Holy cow. Ron Paul on foreign policy!

OK, that’s all for me. Going to bed.

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Mad As Hell, Not Sure Why

Going into an election year, you’ll see a lot of people that are really mad. Remember how mad everyone was at George Bush? They’re that mad a Barack Obama too – not the same people, mostly, but with roughly the same fervor.

Rage should scale with knowledge. If you’re well-informed (by at least one source in addition to Fox News, the Huffington Post, or the Drudge Report) you are allowed to be enraged. If you’re not well-informed, you’re welcome to be mildly annoyed. What really irks me is the people who are ignorant, yet still enraged. If you care so much to whip yourself into a froth over something, at least make sure you have your facts straight. Or at least acknowledge that there are facts, somewhere. Many people could care less about the truth or the opposite perspective in political (or religious or cultural) matters – they believe what they believe and blindly hate whatever isn’t what they believe. I have a hard time supporting such people’s continued existence.

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Occupied Territory

I tried to ignore the whole Occupy Wall Street thing for as long as I could. At first, it seemed like any normal obnoxious protest – the sort that the Tea Party people have patented in the last few years. But longevity has proven to be the protesters biggest advantage. It allows them to leverage the fact that they’re unemployed and have no where else to be. Which is, incidentally, part of what they’re protesting about. It’s a perfect storm.

It’s difficult to ascertain exactly what they want – there is no unified theme other than general discontent, mostly centered on economic matters. By the way, correct me if I’m wrong here. If, for instance, they were to produce a modern day Magna Carta, limiting the rights of the Wall Street oligarchy, what would it say? I think if you asked, you’d get a smattering of suggestions, some contradictory, some absurd, but some reasonable if impossible to implement.

I happen to find it ridiculous that any employee of a company would be paid more than a million dollars a year. It’s different for the owner of a business – if he’s successful, he can’t help it. It’s different for an artist, author or athlete – they rightfully collect royalties for their goods or services. But to have a board of directors conspiring to sequester $200 million dollars of profit within their little holy huddle is sketchy. It’s not a free market, remember. Once you take a federal bail out, once you know that you’re “too big to fail”, you no longer need to invest in a way that ensures your future existence. You can toss around money carelessly. In addition, you can use your money as power, further insulating you for “fair” market pressures. There’s not much free market about voting for your own raises.

But the unions don’t really have it right either. This chart is an egregious example of manipulating statistics. Check out the time scale – instead of witnessing a precipitous drop in pay (which might make people think, “good, we’re fixing it”), you see a slow decline, which instead manipulates people’s opinion toward their point of view. Then, you create a chart like this, the number of workers who can be supported on a CEOs salary. There’s a big problem with the logic that if you paid a CEO less, you’d hire more workers. The quantity of work hasn’t changed when you pay a CEO less. You see, I happen to believe that you are supposed to pay people when they do work. Giving a CEO generate no additional work, so why pay someone to do nothing? That’s why I hate unions, at least one of the many reasons, but that’s a different topic.

So, if you cut CEO pay, where should the money go? Personally, I don’t think that’s the most effective way to spread that money toward more civic duties that gold plated crappers (get it, “duties”?). Let the CEOs make $20 million a year. Just don’t let them get off on $3 million in taxes. Get rid of their loop holes, and raise their income tax. And/Or…never pay another bail out again. Make it a constitutional amendment. It would force the companies to re-invest some of the money they throw away on rich people into making the company more liquid and better able to handle the shocks to the economy that they help to create. It’d make them more cautious so as to prevent such shocks from occurring in the first place, and more ready in case it did happen.

So, you want a Magna Carta?
1) Cap tax deductions for individuals at $100,000 a year. That’s a ton. It hurts people who bring in more than $300,000.
2) Increase the income tax rate to, say, 43% on those earning more than $300,000 a year. By the way, my little family makes a friggin ton of money a year, and we should be paying more taxes on it. So, change the rate for the upper middle class too. Whenever the politicians talk about tax cuts for me, I think “geez guys, shouldn’t you be helping someone who actually needs help?”
3) Write an amendment preventing the government bailout of private corporations.

Perhaps it’s a start. Republicans will never do it – most politicians won’t, given how rich you have to be to get in in the first place. Don’t get me started on that – campaign finance reform is one of the most critical things that needs to happen if we’re ever going to set this straight.

One more note: I feel bad for people who have invested time and money in a college education, and yet can’t get a job. I’m sure many of them had more than 12 hours of frat party infested classes a week, and I’m sorry that those people picked a field that makes them unemployable. When the economy turns, they’ll get snapped up. If you spent your teenage years blowing off responsibility and dodging sage advice, and if you never really caught on that hard work is the way to earn your stripes, I’m pretty sure it’d be unfair to give you handouts. You’re like a poor man’s Freddie Mac. All that to say, I think blind, unjustified entitlement is something that impacts the rich and poor indiscriminately. I find it hard to believe that the protesters are made up of any different moral fiber than those they are protesting against. But whatever, it’s at least going to put the Tea Party on its heels, and that’s a good thing.

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I have no republican representative (since I live in Maryland), so I found a nearby one. I’ve sent this to him, my Rep (Sarbanes, a dem), and to Paul Ryan. Here’s the letter:

Rep Bartlett,
As a Maryland resident, it is difficult to find a Republican ear – though you represent a neighboring district, you’re the closest thing I’ve got. It is a difficult time to be a member of the Republican party in general – I would know, I am one. A hardline group of radicals have ridden a surge of populist support into the House. These supposed “Tea Party” members tell people what they want to hear – does anyone, after all, want to pay MORE taxes? Of course not. They have drafted a plan to pigeon hole other Republicans into an inflexible “I will never raise taxes” statement, questioning your very legitimacy as a red-blooded American should you back away from this pledge.

I admit that I do not know your personal record. All I have to say to you is that it is your job to do the right thing for this country, not to win a marketing battle or prove that you’re a “real republican”. People have used such pressure to force all varieties of political and religious leaders into all sorts of reprehensible activities over the course of human history. Tea party members represent a modern day McCarthyism, and are running a budgetary witch trial.

Your job is not to fit in with this mob – though a year ago it looked like this was the only way to win an election. Your job is to do the right thing. I am not a politician. As a reasonable human being, I understand that there is an exception to every rule, that reasonable people can have reasonable disagreements without either side being evil, and that compromise if impossible if one side has adopted a stance that is inflexible in every scenario.

There’s an exception to every rule. Now is the time for BOTH sides to compromise. Now is the time to listen to the voices of reason. The Tea Party members have been the most vocal in the past year or two, but remember that the mob is fickle and those same people that swept them into office will turn against them when their very way of life is threatened by our politicians actions. In the process, you will have alienated another group – the educated and reasonable Americans whose country is being hijacked by the outer fringe.

Good luck, do the right thing, be brave,
Eric Furst

For Paul Ryan’s, I apologized up front for lying to his email pre-screen:

I apologize for lying about my home state. If you were in the Wisconsin state legislature, and not pulling puppet strings for the rest of the country, I would not be contacting you. The truth is, your actions from your corner of Wisconsin impact the rest of us, across the country. Me, I don’t have any Republican representation – I’m from Maryland, between Baltimore and DC – the bluest of the blue.

Then pasted most of the same letter, and ended:

Good luck, do the right thing, be brave – remember that you’ll be running for president some day, and then you really will have to answer to all of us.

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Born in the USA

I know we don’t like CNN. I know Anderson Cooper – bad guy, liberal conspirator. Still, I don’t see too many holes in this investigation of Obama’s birth. I’m not the sort of person that enjoys playing the race card – it’s not really mean to play, generally speaking. Still, when it comes to Obama, when it comes to the litany of laws being written to prevent future Manchurian candidates, it really wreaks of racism. The birther controversy is one of the most obnoxious in recent memory. Ignorance is bliss. I always found it amusing how John McCain actually was born outside of the country, but no one dug into that…

Meanwhile, be on the lookout for some severe weather Wednesday-Thursday around Maryland way (and elsewhere). We’re in line for some nasty storms. At least, the potential exists.

I woke up this morning (Thursday) halfway through one of the first legitimate uses of the emergency broadcast system that I’ve ever heard. I’m pretty sure it was for York County, PA, but I’d say that we’re in for an interesting day – if not exactly where I live, nearby. Team Hanna was here for dinner last night, and we identified a tornado on radar near Marriotsville – then had it confirmed by the NWS. Hoping to find another example to show Michael, we went to Alabama and saw the monster that tore through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham on radar. Nothing like having and EF4 tornado handy when trying to show an example of a hook echo and the tornadic doppler signature.

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Hypothetical situation. A disgruntled Russian scientist meets Henry, an American living abroad. He agrees to sell Henry papers discussing sensitive Russian secrets. Henry goes back to the states and passes the information on to our intelligence services. Then he goes back to Russia.

If the Russians catch on to him, what do you suppose happens? He’s tried for espionage and locked up. The disgruntled scientist is tried for treason and hung.

Should Julian Assange ever find himself in the presence of US authorities, he should likewise be thrown in jail for espionage. Whoever leaked him the documents should be hung for treason.

The man is interested in one thing – destabilizing the world. He’s an anarchist, opposed to order, opposed to sovereignty. Invite him to a dinner party, and he’ll blurt out who thinks whose wife is fat, divulge that your buddy is secretly gay, and tell everyone you can’t have babies because of prostate cancer.

I can’t stand the guy, or anything that he stands for.

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I got a flier from the friends of Courtney Watson et al, attacking Bob Flanagan’s record on education. They paint a compelling picture – he seems like one of those guys who has determined that he’s going to be a fiscal stick in the mud, even if it means de-funding all things related to education, puppy dogs, police pensions, and rainbows. Whatever, maybe he is, maybe is isn’t. I’m voting for him anyway. Why? Because Courtney Watson and friends gave him a failing grade on his incompetence, only they gave him an E instead of an F as a failing grade. It made no sense to me. What the hell is this E here for? Why isn’t it an F? His name even starts with F for crying out loud! I scoured the flier for a hint, nothing.

It's an F damnit

Tonight I asked a teacher. She said that they give kids E’s now. F’s are too closely related to the word “fail”, EVEN THOUGH THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT MEANS!!!! I was irate. “Is an E still failing?” Yes. It still fails. It’s just a different letter, but it means the same thing when I dial it into my political correctness decoder ring. Furthermore, what percentage of the people who got that flier had any idea that E now all the sudden means the same thing as F meant for their entire lives? 99% of all people who vote have never gotten an E, as they didn’t exist until just this minute. Ms Watson apparently buys into this concept so readily that she’d alienate (and befuddle) many of her constituents for the sake of maintaining some absurd political correctness. I am not thrilled with Bob Flanagan, and his traffic cop routine on street corners is a bit grand-standy, but shoot, I bet he at least fails failing kids.

Apparently red ink is out too. This all boils down to a post-modernist assault on right and wrong. Don’t get more started (more started). You’re wrong. You get a giant red slash through your wrong answer and a big get F on your paper. Don’t get it wrong again, and learn something. I’m not going to coddle your wrongness, Courtney.


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The oil spill of the last month and a half is one of the top-5 worst things that has happened in this country during my lifetime. 9/11 is worse. Katrina is worse, for now. San Fransisco earthquake in the late 80s is similar/worse. What else? Maybe the financial crisis, that’s probably worse. Maybe Andrew or Hugo or Ike. That’s all I can think of…because this is awful. Just awful.


When there are a million oceanic drilling operations in the world, every so often many redundancies will fail and cause something like this.

The issue is occurring a mile underwater. It’s not easy to fix things a mile underwater. It’s not easy to clog your toilet a mile downstream and not before. It’s understandable why they have problems stopping the oil.

Though it’s not understandable that they’ve developed this sort of technology with no viable solution for this particular scenario. Want to make a bet we’ll have a system in place to close this sort of leak at 5000 feet in the next 5 years? We will. Unfortunately, it will have taken the destruction of untold millions of acres of wetlands to spur that development. That’s very unfortunate.

The government/military is not in the business of drilling oil, and hence cannot be expected to have the technology available to deal with this problem. The government should have regulated for this contingency, however. I don’t care that the platform blew up – that’s bound to happen sometimes. I care that there’s no conceivable way to deal with the fissure that’s spilling bagillion gallons of oil into the Gulf.

People want action, but most of the action is implausible. Wanting action does not mean that any particular action is useful. Cleaning those wetlands is going to be next to impossible.

We think of oil in the same way we think of styrofoam, some foreign, manufactured, humanish substance. In truth, this oil is coming from the earth. Sure, we facilitated it, but it’s surely not the first time in history that oil has come from the earth into the ecosystem – this must have happened naturally at some point in the last billion years where life might care about it. The point is, the earth can absorb that which the earth does to itself.

That part of the country is primed for hurricanes this year. Think this is bad now, just wait until a storm surge shoves all this slop 2 miles onshore in a populated area.

I’m not buying BP anymore. I don’t care if they’re scapegoats for a wider problem. I actually think they are desperate to stop this and believe that they are putting forth the appropriate resources to do so. If no example is made, then this will happen again. If a company worth hundreds of billions of dollars can totter from such a disaster, other companies worth that much will think twice about their R&D expenditures.

It’s profitable to research how to get oil out of the ground from 10000 feet deep – it’s less profitable to figure out how to make oil stop gushing into the ocean. You can’t sell ocean oil. But if you lose tens of billions of dollars because of your oilification of the ocean, then you’ll surely think twice before you introduce technologies that you can’t control. My father always said “if you can’t climb up the tree by yourself, then you can’t climb the tree.” The point is, if you can’t get there by yourself, you won’t be able to get down either. Oil companies only work on how to get up the tree, and now BP is stuck, unable to get down.

Obama takes too much responsibility for things. Do you think W ever would have taken any responsibility if something like this happened on his watch? Doubtful. He’d blame Clinton or something.

Interested in how this oil slick will be impacted by (and impact) hurricanes?

Check this out

For example…

“I expect that during the peak portion of hurricane season (August – October), the clockwise-rotating eddy that is attempting to cut off from the Loop Current this week will be fully separated from the Loop Current. The separation of this eddy will substantially reduce the possibility that significant amounts of oil will reach the Florida Keys and Southeast U.S. coast, since the Loop Current will be much farther south, flowing more due east towards the Keys from the Yucatan Channel. Oil moving southwards from the spill location due to a hurricane’s winds will tend to get trapped in the 250-mile wide eddy, potentially covering most of the surface of the eddy with oil. Thus we might have a 250-mile wide spinning oil slick in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for days or weeks after a hurricane. This could potentially have a significant warming effect on the Gulf waters, since the oil is dark and will absorb sunlight, and the oil will prevent evaporation from cooling the waters underneath it. Since Loop Current eddies contain a large amount of very warm water that extend to great depth, they often act as high-octane fuel for hurricanes that pass over. The rapid intensification of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were both aided by the passage of those storms over Loop Current eddies. Thus the warming of the Loop Current Eddy by oil pulled into it by a passing hurricane or tropical storm could lead to explosive intensification of the next hurricane that passes over the eddy. “

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Often, I’ll run in the dead of winter with shorts and a t-shirt. Why? Because it’s 55 degrees sometimes in the dead of winter. Everyone else is in parkas.

Today, I ran outside in a long sleeve and gloves. Why? Because it was 47 degrees and windy. I ran by four people in t-shirts.

I have concluded that people could care less about what the weather is actually like, preferring to rely on their impression of the weather last time they were running. January is normally cold, therefore today is cold, since today is in January. Last week was unseasonably warm, therefore today is also unseasonably warm, because I can’t plan for the future and am completely reactionary.

Don’t get me started on this health care fiasco. Here’s what a learned: everyone believes what they believe no matter what and there’s no point in arguing with them. Politicians don’t believe anything, other than what they perceive is expedient for the next 5 months of their political lives. Neither of those conclusions are earth shattering.

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Loaded Questions

Last year, I voted for Barack Obama while registering to be a Republican. I figure that Maryland will always vote Democrat (unless they trot out McGovern again), so if I want my vote to count even a little bit, I have to vote in someone’s primary. I like half the Republican candidates and about a quarter of the democrat ones, so Republican it was.

Since then, I’ve gotten a handful of surveys, meant to whip me into an annoyed frenzy – the sort of frenzy that would induce me to return the self addressed stamped envelope with a contribution of $100, $200, dare I say, $500 to stop Obama’s liberal agenda. Now, they don’t want the results of my survey. They’ll be like me with wedding cards…open, shake to see if a check comes out, toss. Just kidding on that by the way, I saved all of the wedding cards that were extra special and even wanted to make a scrap book out of them. Let’s get back on track though.

So, I want to fill out the survey. The questions, Dear ReaderTM, were roughly as fair and balanced as Fox News. For instance, take the first one, and I block quote:

Do you agree with Barack Obama and the Democrats that taxes should be raised for the sake of “fairness,” regardless of the negative impact it is likely to have on the economy?

Not to get into an argument with Tim here, but could you ever ask a question like that in court?! Leading the witness, your Honor! Let’s break it down…
“Agree that taxes should be raised” – everyone’s taxes? this is a policy position here? I Barack Obama, with my disaffected Democratic Congress, hereby promise to raise taxes in an election year while the economy’s in the tank.
“for the sake of ‘fairness'” – So, Obama’s like “come on guys, it’s only fair!” Bunch of snotty button pushers these Republicans.
“negative impact that it is likely to have on the economy” – see also, Bush family (x2).

A handful of other ridiculous ones…

Should English be the official language of the United States?

Are we officially xenophobic as a party now?

Do you believe that Barack Obama’s nominees for federal courts should be immediately and unquestionably approved for their lifetime appointments by the US Senate?

Hey guys, that’s how it worked for like 4 Bush appointees. You lie! All Supreme Court assignments are for life. Who doesn’t believe that’s true after reading this survey? Lots of people are going to shout and scream about the injustice of all this. They’ll make signs like “No more dicktaters in the quarts! Go back to France, Stalin!” Nevermind, Stalin’s a little obscure for this crowd.

Do you support the creation of a national health insurance plan that would be administered by bureaucrats in Washington, DC?

Bureaucrats, fascists, republicans, bacterium, rapists, I dunno, does anyone else get aggravated by such blatant emotional engineering?

Do you agree, as the Democrats have proposed, with vision care plans that would pluck the eyeballs from sleeping babies for use on illegal immigrants?

And so on.

Now, let’s be clear. Everyone is this obnoxious. When you give someone a bully pulpit, they spew half truths and scare tactic gobbledygook to advance their agenda, Republican, Democrat, everyone. It’s the way this country works. It’s the way every country works, only most other countries kill the losers while we let them resume their day jobs. I’m going to fill out the survey and enclose a piece of paper that will fall out when they shake my envelope. It will say “$0 until you at least make believe that you’ve researched the accuracy of your questions” or something like that. I’ll take suggestions.

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Why not, let’s live blog the state of the union.

9:09 – On a scale of carrot to Holland, how orange does our president look this evening?

9:10 – Jen just noticed that Biden and Pelosi are coordinated in their purple attire. Orange and purple go well together.

9:11 – Joe Biden has a great fake smile. He is a blue collar guy.

9:11 – Nancy Pelosi has cut down on the blinking, but I still can’t get over it. Maybe she needs to start coughing so she can take a break for a bit.

9:12 – I don’t think that the Union allies landed on Omaha beach at Bull Run Mr President.

9:13 – A year ago, I took office in a country exactly as it is now.

9:15 – Jen is watching the SotU while reading “Antineoplastic agents in the management of ovarian cancer”. I stole her laptop so now she can’t live blog.

9:17 – You might recall that I liked Joe Biden the best out of all the democrat candidates. He nods well. Though he just almost clapped out of turn.

9:18 – Root canals need a new PR guy.

9:20 – Jen just noticed that the supreme court and generals don’t stand and clap. That’s what happens when you have jobs that you keep until you die – you don’t over exert yourself.

9:21 – Booo for tax cuts say the Republicans. Boooo! No applause for you Obama!

9:22 – Where’s the “You lie!” guy?

9:23 – For whatever it’s worth, the sound quality on Fox News is substantially better than the sound on CNN.

9:24 – The slums are starting to hire again, that’s good to know.

9:26 – Pelosi, in the last minute, has looked like she’s working exceptionally hard to not blink. The Republicans are unimpressed.

9:27 – In short, let’s do everything that might conceivably make anyone happy. Let’s pay for it with good will and peace for all men.

9:29 – OK guys, bring your dark suits and look annoyed. Never clap.



9:32 – The Republicans begrudgingly also do not accept second place for America. They’re going to have to stand and clap for the puppy portion of the speech too.

9:33 – Jen just read the last thing and did not laugh. Chances are it wasn’t funny. It stays.

9:34 – I wonder how tall Joe Biden is.

9:35 – This doesn’t help, but it’s interesting.

9:36 – I just missed the climate part.

9:36 – Jen thinks that Nancy Pelosi is going to jump up with pom poms eventually.

9:37 – I agree on clean energy. Global warming or not, clean air is good.

9:37 – We will double our experts, by paying our workers more.

9:38 – I like the pro-America thing. He’s got some nationalist tendencies.

9:39 – “So that our trading partners play by the rules…” like by subsidizing farmers.

9:40 – The supreme court can’t even clap for education? What about Santa Claus?

9:41 – I want to be Michele Obama’s special guest. I promise not to live blog next year if I get a seat on the balcony.

9:42 – That’s a strange policy. You don’t have to pay back your loans. Hmmm, sounds too good to be true. Hmm.

9:43 – We’ve entered the health insurance reform portion of our program. I want to hear about death panels.

9:44 – Obama just made a good joke about the political suicide that his health care plan has been for the Democratic party.

9:45 – Michelle Obama hates fat kids like…fat kids like cake.

9:46 – Jen has read three sentences in her paper. She highlighted “platinum agent” and “taxane”. GET TO WORK.

9:49 – The thing is, Bush did put the economy in the tank. He killed the budget.

9:50 – John McCain has gout on his face maybe.

9:51 – Do you think someone made sure that Obama’s tie used slashes in the opposite direction as Biden’s?

9:54 – Obama’s wearing a red tie. Aren’t the Republicans red?

9:55 – Are the Republicans all wearing light blue shirts?

9:56 – Let’s do something we’ve never tried. Let’s make everything better for less money. I’m hearing things like “You are working hard enough, maybe you just need to work smarter.” The only problem is, that is meaningless and/or impossible.

9:59 – Obama just spent a half hour bashing Republicans, now he wants to make peace. I enjoy that tactic.

10:03 – Nod.

10:03 – Blink.

10:04 – Politicians are a bunch of sticks in the mud.

10:05 – Tell me, is it the American policy to impose our social systems on Afghanistan? What if they Afghani people don’t want to give women rights? Just asking.

10:07 – Generals clap for veterans. The supreme court is asleep.

10:10 – How can you increase North Korea’s isolation?

10:10 – How much longer is this going to go? I want to go to bed.

10:11 – Someone just laughed about climate change, and Joe Biden just shot him a death glare. Pelosi stared him down too, but she blinked.

10:13 – The generals didn’t care one way or another about gays in the military. By the way, they aren’t prohibited.

10:17 – This guy is a great speaker. He owns the room when he talks.

10:19 – I want some yogurt. And to go to bed.

10:19 – Dear 8 year old boy in Louisiana: The president is not a 503(c)(3) organization.

10:21 – The president was interrupted 86 times for applause. Fox News is still counting Joe Biden’s nods and Nancy Pelosi’s blinks.

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Suffering Sufferage

In the past year since he took office, President Obama’s approval rating has dropped from somewhere in the 70% range to somewhat below 50%. Me? I like the guy. I liked him when I voted for him. He’s smart, he’s cosmopolitan – he helps the American brand worldwide. Those outside of the United States think very highly of him, and that improves our position in the world. He has been proactive on the economy, he has managed our military admirably, he successfully purchased a dog.

Some people are disgruntled that he hasn’t accomplished what he said he would. Me? I’m not a clueless idealist. I, like many people who live in reality, knew that it was impossible for Obama to do a third of the things he promised to do. The young and impressionable bought into it. You would have thought we’d have solar powered abortion clinics for gay couples by now – funded by a public option and staffed by illegally held detainees no less.

Hope is a nice thing. It energizes 20 somethings to go to campaign rallies for a few months before returning to their couches to ponder how to leverage their religion degrees into a six figure work at home income. “Hope floats” they say – until it pops and plummets after a few months. It doesn’t take long for optimists to become pessimists. By my estimate, Obama’s lost about 40 million already!

Whose fault is it? It’s not Obama’s. He operates in the same reality that politicians have always operated in. I, for one, blame the fickle American public. We do this after every election, republican, democrat, and if we ever elected a libertarian nihilist, we’d flip flop on him in 9 months too. We prefer to be unhappy for as long as possible, so that we can naively convince ourselves that the future will be better than the past every four years. It’s not a bad system. Stupid, repetitive, predictable, sure, but we have had 200 or so straight years of orderly power transfers. Somewhere, something is working.

Now let’s just not go overboard and elect Sarah Palin – Obama’s not that bad.

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Could the Balloon Boy’s parents’ publicity stunt have worked any better? Even if the kid were in the balloon, it wouldn’t get this much coverage. Had he plunged to his doom, it wouldn’t have gotten this much coverage. Had he barely survived and been hospitalized? Not this much coverage. Had he landed in the woods, brought a cell phone with an intermittent signal, and sent occasional text messages, well, maybe then it would have been as big a deal as staging the whole thing…but probably not for as long, unless he were somehow able to incorporate Meghan McCain’s breasts in his twitter posts.

“Day 7: I’m still in the woods, lost and scared. A friendly beaver has Wi-Fi, but wolves howl all night!”

I know the bar hasn’t been set very high here, but is Meghan McCain the hottest political daughter/wife? What were the odds that she would have been a republican? I actually think they were pretty high – bleeding heart liberal women are a dime a dozen.

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Tea Party

Explain to me why my panties should be in a bunch about government spending.

Sure, I pay them taxes, but they pay lot of people’s salaries! If we cut government spending, who would fund all this stuff? Or would we only be cutting spending on projects for the common good, while leaving projects devoted to the destruction of third world regimes unscathed?

Ya think?

Unless there are a lot of bodies in the wall at Yale.

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Remind me again of how it is a fundamental human right to possess firearms or extinguish the lives of babies? And explain to me how one group wants guns, which are effective at killing people and/or threatening to kill people, but wants to avoid the killing of babies while the other group doesn’t like guns but is cool with the baby thing…

I think the Republicans and Democrats sat down in a smoky room back in the 1950s and drew straws for hot button issues, so that each could claim moral high-ground. I wonder why more people don’t find these positions mutually exclusive. It’s beyond me.

Furthermore, this is interesting.

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I have a long history of exposing non-irony. Yesterday, a weather blogger, discussing the much ballyhooed VORTEX-2 tornado research project, lamented the lack of tornadoes this spring. “While that’s great news for the general public, it’s terribly ironic news for the VORTEX2 project…” he said. No, it’s not. Why is that ironic? Yes, it is like rain on your wedding day, but that’s not ironic either. It’s unfortunate. Inconvenient. Maybe it’s ironic if you have your wedding in the desert of Chile because you are afraid of the tropical dousings of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean – only to encounter the first rain in 30 years in the desert while the tropical island stays dry for a month straight. That might be ironic. I’d buy that. Otherwise, no.

Meanwhile, I somehow don’t think that Obama’s conciliatory Middle Eastern speech was planned for today on a whimsy. Iran’s presidential election is in 8 days, and Ahmadinejad’s primary point of strength is his anti-Western position. And I, for one, like it. Obama’s, having inherited a situation that was bad in almost every metric, is doing a good job despite it all. Isn’t that ironic?


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