as i come to the late afternoon, i’m still struggling to materialize a worthwhile post for today; i’m feeling overwhelmed.

it happens occasionally. my brain goes into overdrive on so many things at once, that it becomes hard for me to focus much on anything at all. life pressures, reminders of things i want to do, or put another way, things i haven’t done or things that are absent in my life.

over the years, i’ve learned this is a symptom, at least for me, of the mild but chronic depression (dysthymia) that i struggle with. so no real post today, instead just a list of topics, thoughts, ideas, feelings running through my head:

money and debt… online dating and relationships… photography… writing… graduate school… work… career… health… weight… smoking… presidential election… productivity and organization… home ownership….

throwback thursday should offer me a relatively easier post, though i’ll have to find a good picture. in the meantime, the best thing for me is to keep my head down and ride out this temporary disfunction until my brain quiets down a bit.

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if you’re like me, and something like 100 million other americans, you sat down and watched at least part of the debate yesterday. though, admittedly, i couldn’t get through the whole thing….

in this age of short attention spans, sound bites, and emotion-based voting, the debate was little more than a show; it was a presentation of the reality-tv type of conflict to which the american people have become addicted. from the few people i’ve actually talked to about the debate, there were two general responses: pain or amusement. Continue reading clinton vs. trump: 1st debate

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so, i saw this article this morning while browsing my emails: Hillary Clinton Takes Aim at Voters Drifting Toward Third Party. two thoughts immediately came to mind.

one, where is bernie sanders, who said he’s go on the campaign trail for hillary? partly, this comes to mind because of a conversation with my father (a moderate liberal) the other day in which he asked the same question. so, has he been campaigning and i’ve just missed it, or has he changed his mind, or focus?

admittedly, i’ve withdrawn my attention largely from the presidential race; it a circus with two clowns covered by media only interested in the stories in which one of the clowns are gored by a bull, or miss landing in a safety net. yes, one is clearly better than the other, but in the realm of terrible clowns, it’s not saying much.

this, in a ‘round about sort of way, brings me to my second thought; typical. just as at the democratic national convention in july, the dnc and clinton campaign is only interested in what they can get from us (though i’ll vote for clinton, i put myself with the third-party voters because i understand their passion, point of view, and anger). clinton isn’t truly interested in WHY we are so opposed to voting for her so much as she is convincing us that she’s better than trump. for the begrudging pragmatist in me, that’s enough, but for the millions of sanders and stein supporters (johnson is closer to trump on the spectrum, so i’ll ignore him here) it’s not even close to enough.

neither the dnc, the clinton campaign, or her die-hard supporters seem terribly interested in “negotiating”. they’ve made no effort, zero, to try to understand where we’re coming from. sure, clinton has made strategic compromises on certain policy positions, but even the political newbies in the sanders camp weren’t fooled by the politically motivated, half-hearted attempts to be more progressive.

you’d think, looking at national polling, which has scared the utter bejesus out of institutional democrats and clinton supporters, they’d attempt to move closer to bernie’s positions. consistently throughout the primary season national polling indicated sanders would fair far better against trump that clinton would. now that democrats are scared that might be the case, it seems to me the answer is clear. still, when living in an echo chamber, as so many democrats seem to (too many sanders supporters live in a separate, but equally dangerous echo chamber), it’s hard to see, what to me, is the most direct solution.

i’m not sure that much less than a fundamental shift in clinton’s demeanor and policy positions will do the trick. but, let’s see how clinton and the dnc approach this problem. let’s see how they plan to try get support from the very same people the shrugged off almost two months ago at the democratic national convention. they’ll almost certainly need more than millions of dollars of fancy targeted online messaging.

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several weeks back, i came across a commentary on the current state of politics in america, how it came to this, and how we might move back toward reason and compromise. how american politics went insane, from the atlantic, is a piece i’d strongly encourage everyone to read, twice….

still, despite the high quality of the piece, i have my criticisms.

after painting a humorous, if not horrifying caricature of what could be waiting for us in the 2020 election season, the author suggests the primary races for both major parties were “eerily” similar. the terrifying, evil asshole ted cruz and the bombastic, stupid blowhard donald trump led the republican field, while the democrats had bernie sanders in a strong second to hilary clinton. according the author, bernie isn’t a real democrat, just as trump and cruz aren’t real republicans:

The Republicans’ noisy breakdown has been echoed eerily, albeit less loudly, on the Democratic side, where, after the early primaries, one of the two remaining contestants for the nomination was not, in any meaningful sense, a Democrat. Bernie Sanders was in independent who switched to nominal Democratic affiliation on the day he filed for the New Hampshire primary, only three months before that election. He surged into second place by winning independents while losing Democrats. If it had been up to Democrats to choose their party’s nominee, Sanders’s bid would have collapsed after Super Tuesday. In their various ways, Trump, Cruz, and Sanders are demonstrating a new principle: The political parties no long have either intelligible boundaries or enforceable norms, and, as a result renegade political behavior pays.

i don’t believe the major political parties are experiencing rebellion because renegade candidates have chosen to throw the middle finger to their respective parities of choice. the renegade candidates have, seeing an opportunity to take advantage of tired, poor, and angry people, have chosen to run because the democrats and republicans have utterly failed to represent and genuinely work to address the electorate and their lives’ hardship.

and though here i have criticisms with the author’s characterization of “renegade candidates,” i’ll refocus and move on to his real thesis.

the balance of political power and influence has, for a long time been held in place by a system of checks and balances in the framers’ construction of our government, but also in the vast and far more complex political system that has been built in decades and centuries since.

the supposition here, the core argument of the piece is that careful and complex political system has, over a period of time, been dismantled. the vacuum left behind has allowed for, what the author calls, “chaos syndrome:”

Chaos syndrome is a chronic decline in the political system’s capacity for self-organization. It begins with the weakening of the institutions and brokers—-political parties, career politicians, and congressional leaders and committees—-that have historically held politicians accountable to one another and prevented everyone in the political system from pursuing naked self-interest all the time. As these intermediaries’ influence fades, politicians, activists, and voters all become more individualist and unaccountable. The system atomizes. Chaos becomes the new normal—-both in campaigns and in the government itself.

so, how did we get here exactly? what are the “reforms” made that put us on the path to chaos? well, the author has some very clear ideas. and i’ll take a look at them in part two.

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