Tag Archives: Politics

What’d I miss?

About two weeks ago I pulled my back out and between that and the fact that my software project has kicked into high gear, I’ve been a little out of the world lately. So … what’s going on?


What just happened?

I was up until about one last night after waking up that morning at 5:30am (which is about an ahour and a half earlier than usual). I actually walked to my polling place which is a school just around the corner from my house, in part to loosen the aforementioned back, though I didn’t factor in what standing in a line for 25 minutes might do to it. Ah well, that’s what ibuprofen and the oddly spelled supplement turmeric is for.

I got back to the house around 7 and actually took a second to enjoy one of the benefits of reverting from daylight savings time, watching the sunrise. Just taking a minute to bask in the joy of God’s creation. If only the rest of the day had been so calming.

The coverage on all the channels was really something to see. We have a tradition since the 2008 election of watching the Daily Show’s live election special. In 2012 I’d had to watch it in a hotel room in Cleveland with my wife on the phone while we watched Obama be reelected over a Republican we didn’t like, but not someone who seemed unqualified.

The mood this year was frankly somber, correspondants stress-eating and pounding back shots of pepto bismol. @midnight’s Chris Hardwick was more of tugging at the shirt collar “I don’t know” variety of anxiety. But my favorite part of the evening, or at least the one that encapsulated how I was feeling was Rachel Maddow. In the middle of reading some of the latest results she just *sighed*.

For myself I was feeling equal parts depressed and angry. I sent this to my friend Brian at about 11:45 which summed it up pretty nicely:

At the urging of my wife with things looking uncertain but not completely lost I went to bed around 1am, then woke up around 4am which I’ve been doing the past few nights, needing to roll over to spread some of the tension in my back around. I argued with myself that I shouldn’t check the results, that I should just roll over and go back to sleep. I lost that battle, but fortunately I was too exhausted from the short night the day prior to spend much time thinking about it.

A lot of people on social media today have been saying the depressing thing is not that Donald Trump is going to be our President, it’s what his being elected means about us. There’s certainly a part of Trump’s constituency that has said some pretty hateful, misoginyst, bigoted, anti-intellectual, xenophobic, homophobic, anachronistic, jingoistic, and yes deplorable things. But the truth is I think the majority of these people have just felt left behind by the world. They felt that neither side was listening to their concerns, or doing enough to help them, and they finally made their voices heard.

There’s a part of that frustration I will never understand because it’s just not the kind of life I lead. I can sympathize. I’ve known plenty of people who’ve worked in the auto industry or in steel, or out on the factory floor. In my parent’s day that was a good middle class job, and something to be proud of, and whatever the cause of it, it’s something we’ve lost in today’s America. It makes sense that that’s frustrating.

If I’m honest, I’ve lived a life of relative privilege. I’ve worked hard, but I had a lot of opportunities. I’ve pursued a career that hopefully will remain relavant throughout my lifetime, though automation and best cost countries threaten programmers as well. That’s why life-long learning to me isn’t a cliche, it’s a necessity. But my ability to say that has largely been the product of parents who valued higher education and my own interests and passions. And there are plenty of vital industries that can’t be outsourced, like senior care, that get crap wages for crap work (literally sometimes). We need to do better for everyone.

Some of this frustration turns into implicit racism, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or any number of things, and I could tar these people with the brush of being intolerant and dismiss them. It seems like that’s what the democrats did in some ways. You don’t change anyone’s mind by unfriending them, or blocking them, or telling them they’re a monster. You get to know them, you try to understand where they’re coming from, and you have a honest discussion.

I want to call everybody useless. I want to be mad. And there are a lot of hateful things out there to get righteously angry about. But honestly that feels like I’d just be sinking to the level of that man who will be our president.

I’m not leaving for Canada or any nonsense like that. I actually think God doesn’t smile to fondly on people who leave the mission he’s set out for them. Let’s remember that a whale swallowed Jonah when he tried to run. If I’m sad or disappointed in what America seems to be, then I need to do something to make it better. That means writing about wrongs I see happening in the world. It means talking to people and finding out what they really need. And maybe it even means getting politically involved in the next seasons. I still need time to reflect, to mourn, to vent my anger in productive and not destructive ways. I’m still figuring this out even as I write.

I don’t know what the next four years are going to bring. None of us does. But I’m going to spend them being an American. I’m going to spend them as someone who greets others with love, who is loving of those with different colored skin, or religion, or sexual orientation, or class, or even political party. If Donald Drumpf seeks to enact policies that hurt people I love, I will do what I can to protect them. But I admit to being a little heartened that Mitch McConnell and a lot of other Republican senators have made it clear they want to defend a lot of what makes America what it is as well.

We’re all in this together. We all have ownership of this moment, no matter how we voted. If America isn’t the place we thought it was, then let’s do what we can to change that.

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Dispatches from “Restore The 4th” Cleveland

Hope you all had a lovely extended Independence Day weekend (my neighbors were shooting off fireworks late last night). But where better to spend July 4th than on the shores of Lake Erie, in a place that I’m told on good authority “rocks”, Cleveland, OH?

As many of you know I spent the day with friend and fellow blogger, Brian D. Buckley at the “Restore the 4th (amendment that is)” Rally in Edgewater Park, Cleveland, OH.



Interestingly Brian’s sign got far more questions about what “TMI” meant, than “My Bytes Have Rights”.

About 40-50 people were in attendance overall, covering a 100 yard or so stretch of road inside the park.



As first outings go, this rally had all the components one might expect from active political protest:

  • We got lost, both on the way to Cleveland and inside the park; The first because we missed an exit due in part to orange barrels and playing “Friends” trivia, and the second because our marker for finding the protest was “look for the tall lanky guy in the red shirt” not “we’re next to the only statue in the park.”



  • There were of course the usual petitions for legalizing pot, and hacky sack. From what I could see the sack was competently hacked.
  • There were communists (I resisted the urge to sing the Beatles “Revolution” until they were out of earshot).
  • There were fundamentalist Christians, who in spite of wanting an amendment that put God’s law above the constitution, were exceptionally polite.
  • There were beards (mine included).
  • At least one girl came to the party wearing the same dress.


  • And there were hecklers. Well, heckler. Apparently our standing at the side of the road not chanting or singing (except a little back and forth of “Every Breath You Take”), ruined this man’s day. And for that, I am very very sorry.

Overall everyone was exceptionally supportive and positive. Except Brian, who apparently didn’t want to be anywhere near us (that’s the lady Buckley holding the restorethefourth.net sign).



When he wasn’t inching his way down the road he was engrossed in his reading:



That’s Buckley for you, really knows how to show a girl a good time.

Seriously, this was a lot of fun, and a great opportunity to hang out with friends, exercise a few first amendment rights, and your upper body. It’s a bit windy by the great lakes, and a sign is basically a three foot sail (Props to the lady Buckley for the solid signage construction).

Have a great Monday!

PS. Thanks also to “the little red haired girl” who was amazingly supportive despite not feeling well and her husband deciding to go the day before.


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We The People Petition Announcement

As I talked about in yesterday’s post, law does not always keep up with technology. I have an idea about how we might change that:

Create a bipartisan commission to evaluate the danger to public safety of new consumer technology

New consumer technology is released every day that changes the way we interact with our environment. Of particular concern are the devices we use while driving. Driving is an everyday activity where we interact with hundreds of other people, and a moment’s inattention can have disastrous results.

Wearable devices like Google Glass display information directly in front of the user’s eyes, which could be hazardous if worn while driving.

 I’m proposing the formation of a bipartisan commission consisting of members of congress and industry professionals. This group will work with companies like Google, Apple and Samsung to take a closer look at devices that are near to market and to evaluate the risks associated with using these devices in everyday activities.

The above is a petition at We The People, the White House petition site where 100,000 signatures (in 30 days) gets you an official response from the Obama administration. Seeing as how the readership of [BTW] is about 350 I’m gonna need a little help from you, your friends, and your friends friends…

You can sign the petition here.

The first threshold we’re really shooting for is 150 signatures. After that the petition is publicly searchable. Currently this seems to be the only petition of this type on the site, so if we can get into the search we might stand a decent shot at finding people who feel the same way about these issues.

Thanks so much to all my readers, whether this is your issue or not. Next week we’ll return to tales of the writing life, and possibly a 40 minute story. Cheers and have a good weekend!

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It’s Morning In Ohio

Dispatches from a battleground state:

– I sip my Canadian coffee and eat a maple donut and think, “this might not be so bad.”

– I miss the old days, when the Olentangy river used to catch fire. Maybe I’ll get to see them again.

– Someone on the phone asks me who I’m voting for and I answer in Klingon. I’ve either said “Your mother’s a targ” or “ahead warp factor one.”

– We’re the state that elected Jim Trafficant. You sure you want us picking the president?

– No matter who wins in January, our defensive coach is probably out of a job.

– A recent NPR news story says that for every hour spent sitting, your lifespan is shortened by as much as 22 minutes. That means not only did I lose 4.5 hours of my time to the debates, but an hour and a half of my life.

– We eat buckeyes here, but they’re made of chocolate and peanut butter. The real ones will kill you.

– You may be targeting white males with ads during our Buckeye game, but I’m gonna get a beer.

– Our secretary of state fought in-person early voting. He lost.

– We hope both of you pick up after yourselves after rallying so hearty these last couple of weeks.

– O-H

Have a good day America.

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It’s Not The Economy, Stupid!

Both candidates for President have tried to frame the economy as being the most important issue. This is an assumption that is carried forward into mainstream news media, and just about every corner of political commentary.

But is the economy really how any of us are going to make our decision for president? Personally, I don’t buy it, and I think most of the reasons we vote for one guy or the other have little to do with the issues as everyone wants to frame them.

First off, many of us simply vote party lines. We’d rather vote for a dead republican than a live democrat. Now one could argue that we some of us choose the party we’re affiliated with because of economic philosophies, but those are general principles  not specific to an election cycle.

Many people don’t want to vote for Obama because he’s black, Muslim and not born in this country. Hopefully these people are in the minority, but there has been enough nonsense tossed around about these issues by news outlets like Fox News that more people believe them than ever should.

Many people have other wedge issues, abortion, gun rights that trump everything else.

Many people are uncomfortable with the fact Romney is Mormon. If you’re the kind of guy who makes his decision based on who you can have a beer with, or even coffee, Romney’s not your man. And I do think that there is a difference between evangelical Christianity and Mormonism  one that makes a lot of conservative Christians less than comfortable with him.

Many of us just don’t like the other guy’s personality. We think Obama is cold and a technocrat, and we think Romney is an arrogant jackass.

Most of us have still had jobs these last four years. As concerned as we might be about the economy in general, and whatever scares we might have been through, the story for the majority of Americans is one of continued employment. I’m not saying you can’t still be worried about the economy if you have a job, but I do think it leaves you more open to other factors in making your decision.

Many of us are concerned about international relations more than social issues. Iran is a threat and Syria is a human rights debacle. We want someone who is tough on our enemies  and doesn’t piss off our allies.

And lastly, most of us made up our mind about who to vote for months ago. In these last two weeks the candidates are fighting for an incredibly small but valuable piece of the pie. But even undecided voters will probably make their decision for a lot of the reasons I expressed above. It’s not like we don’t know both side’s opinion on how to handle the economy. In the end we just have to go with our gut.

Politics is sports, we root for the home team no matter how they are doing. Who won these debates is largely determined by who you liked in the first place. We cheer for our guy, and can’t believe how people could ever like the other guy. Its 6:28am and Romney still sucks, etc. We like to think that we are making these decisions for important reasons, and many of us are, just not the ones the candidates want to think we are.

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I Heart NPR

I love public radio and television.

My local station is WOSU, out of the campus of THE Ohio State University, and I can drive by it on Olentangy River Road on my way to a writing session.

Now before you become too worried, I’m not here to debate the federal subsidy (which is really tiny), or Mitt Romney’s feelings on Big Bird (he did say he loves him after all). I think the Obama ad featuring the big yellow bird was stupid, and the Children’s Television Workshop was right to ask him to take it down (something I’m not sure he did).

I just want to tell you I heart NPR.

I got the back struts on my car and my wife’s car fixed because of listening to Car Talk. I unpacked a lot of the Foxconn controversy and the financial meltdown with This American Life and On Point. I heard touching stories of my college president, his daughter, and a legacy his wife left many years after her passing. And I get a weekly laugh with the irreverant Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (particularly their Sandwich Mondays).

I listen on the radio, through podcasts, and reading their website. I can download the full audio of the debate, without commentary, the day after the event from the NPR “It’s All Politics” page. Every Friday I can download the “Pop Culture Happy Hour” podcast and listen to a panel talk about TV, music and all sorts of pop culture conundrums.

Simply put, I learn about culture, science, economics, politics and life, and they ask so little in return.

It’s pledge season til the end of the week. I used to think pledge drives were a drag, but with Ira Glass calling up people who don’t give and giving them “radio justice”, Alec Baldwin’s fervant speeches AGAINST NPR, and the local color which made me laugh out loud on my drive home, I’ve changed my tune. They’re not talking about Romney’s comments, or threats to Big Bird, they’re just trying to get a handful of us to support the thing we love so we don’t have to listen to ads all the time.

If you heart NPR, consider giving. Otherwise Ira might have to call you at home.

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A Matching Sweaters Interview with Obama and Romney

I am soooo tired from watching the debate last night. I’m not going to waste your time trying to convince you which is the better candidate, that’s what Facebook is for. Instead I thought I’d just list a few of my impressions in no particular order:

– Jim Lehrer still has the blackest eyes of anyone I have seen on television. Does he even have whites in his eyes?

– Romney cracked a joke about Obama’s anniversary and being stuck with him. I laughed.

– Romney likes Big Bird (and Jim Lehrer) but doesn’t want the government to subsidize them. I’m sorry, he likes Big Bird?

– The conversation was more free format than I would have expected. I like this.

– Obama talks a LOT. And slower than Romney. Jay Pharaoh is doing a good impression with those long pauses and the low guttural … uh.

– We have only three minutes left to talk about partisan gridlock, and Jim Lehrer is eating half of them.

– Romney came off MUCH better than I expected, but he’s still kind of a tool.

– Obama needs to look at Mitt and not his notes.

– I think Taran Killam will play Lehrer in the cold open on Saturday. I will be exhausted from watching OSU football and the Stewart v. O’Reilly debate.

– I don’t need specific cases of who you talked to, either of you. Statistical outliers do not a policy make.

– Next time I’m playing a drinking game. Thank God Biden’s the next debate.

I’m gonna take a cat nap.

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