Bernie Sanders Does Not Have to Endorse Hillary Clinton

Endorse Hillary ClintonThere was one argument against Bernie Sanders being the Democratic nominee that I most hated: he isn’t even a Democrat. There are many reasons why I hated it. For one, it’s tribal. For another, it has nothing to do with policy — or even electability. But most of all, I just didn’t see that it mattered to the Democratic voter given Sanders has always caucused with the Democrats. Just the same, it is for this reason that I had hoped he would endorse Hillary Clinton once the primary was over.

But Bernie Sanders does not have to endorse Hillary Clinton. As a practical matter, it probably doesn’t matter anyway. But he’s his own man and he can do what he wants. As I’ve stated many times, Sanders managing to get over 40% of the primary vote had little to do with Sanders. It was important because it was a sign of the rise of the left wing of the Democratic Party. And I know enough about the party to know that there are a lot of people in that rising left wing who voted for Hillary Clinton. So there is no doubt in my mind that the Democratic Party is in the process of a long leftward turn.

Sanders and the Long-Term

I’m not sure exactly what Bernie Sanders gets from not endorsing Hillary Clinton — or even what he thinks he gets. And it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m not so much interested in what the Democratic Party does this month or this year as I am what it does this decade. And I’m fine with Hillary Clinton as the leader of the Democratic Party. How she governs will ultimately depend upon us. And to some extent, I’m relieved that I don’t have to put up with four years of liberals gradually figuring out that they had elected President Sanders rather than Emperor Sanders.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not thrilled with Clinton. But Sanders wasn’t perfect either. As for Jill Stein? Why would I make a symbolic vote for someone I don’t agree with any more than I do Clinton? The truth is, in modern America, there is no real difference between Sanders, Clinton, and Stein. The Democratic Party has chosen my second choice and I endorse that choice.

More Than Politics

I have a more personal reason for endorsing Hillary Clinton. Despite the caricature that the right has created of her as some kind of supergenius harpy, she’s actually one of the most abused political figures of my lifetime. I think the treatment of Jimmy Carter is worse, but his is mostly implicit. The attacks on Clinton are explicit and personal. And it has made me sad indeed to have heard many of them from my fellow Sanders supporters.

I endorse Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean I agree with her completely. But I largely agree with her (which is all I could say about Sanders too). My endorsement means that I think the world will be far better off with a Clinton presidency over a Trump presidency.

I have little idea where other Sanders supporters go from here. I know the vast majority of them even now endorse Hillary Clinton because they plan to vote for her. Other than that, I can’t say. Further, I don’t know where Sanders himself is going. But there is a shining city on the hill that we should all be moving toward. The energy in the Sanders-Clinton war is wasted.

In his column yesterday Morning, Paul Krugman was out there dutifully pushing a new Clinton talking point: Sanders lost big. Although it’s technically true, it’s disingenuous. And I hear similarly silly statements coming from the Sander’s side. Krugman is wrong not to admit that Sanders ran a remarkable campaign and did incredibly well; but the primary wasn’t “stolen” from Sanders as I keep hearing.

I Endorse Hillary Clinton

Something Sanders said over the weekend bothered me. He seemed to be implying that because he disagreed with Hillary Clinton about certain things, he couldn’t — at least right now — endorse her. That’s just silly. On 20 January 2017, one of two people will be sworn in as President of the United States: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. If there were little to distinguish them, remaining neutral would be fine. But there is a very great deal to distinguish them.

I endorse Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean I agree with her completely. But I largely agree with her (which is all I could say about Sanders too). My endorsement means that I think the world will be far better off with a Clinton presidency over a Trump presidency. And any liberal who thinks that a Trump presidency would lead to long-term liberal gains has not been paying attention to politics over the past four decades.

And Bernie Sanders? He can do whatever he wants. I voted for him because I wanted him to be the nominee. My second choice was always Hillary Clinton. And in the context of the 44 presidents that we’ve had, I think she will be good and maybe even great.

2016 Platform Committee Testimony in Phoenix

Platform Committee 2016

In my continuing adventures of observing the political process in person, I went to the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee testimony section here in Phoenix. This is where the Committee asks ordinary people to weigh in on what they think the Platform should say.

Platforms have a long history in the US and elsewhere even though now few people read the ones put out by parties. In fact, you can say that Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were a platform as was the Communist Manifesto even though we don’t really think of them that way. The Democratic Party’s first one was in 1840, and it is slightly different than the one we will adopt in Philadelphia.

Once upon a time, they were a vital tool for parties to help spread the word about them and sometimes, like in 1948, were a way of saying to the world, :This is who we are. This is what we believe in. And this is why all of those former Democrats ran out the back when we adopted this.” The reason I mention that one is because it was the start of a major split of the Democratic Party that culminated in the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Johnson’s declaration that we would lose the South for a generation.

Platform Committee Testimony

I got there in the afternoon around 1:30. The room wasn’t super full since of course everyone could watch this on C-Span, so most people didn’t need to go in person. They were wrapping up the morning session on energy and the environment. While the speakers had 3 minutes each to talk, there was also time for questions and answers so naturally it took a long time.

I was at the Platform Committee meeting for the health and safety testimony in the afternoon session. There were a few stand outs. First was the President of Arizona’s College Democrats[1], Joseline Mata.  She was one of the students stuck in an abstinence only school and was asking that comprehensive sex education be given to students.

The next one was Monica R Simpson, executive director of SisterSong, a national organization devoted to women of color’s reproductive justice. She had an amazing story to tell and she was also one of those people who knows how to work a room — building emotions through the use of her mellifluous voice. She talked about the lack of access to all of reproductive health care, not just abortion, in many states. Later she was able to get a photo with Platform Committee member Dr Cornell West, who she obviously was excited to meet.

There were three women who spoke from the nurses union and they were not having any of this nonsense about the ACA. They want single payer and they want it now. This caused the closest thing to drama we had all day when Neera Tanden asked some rather pointed questions about Germany having a private insurance system that covers everyone. The last woman broke down in tears over how hard it was for her to use her insurance — she has it, but it is too expensive to use. This is one of those things that make policy decisions so difficult as an elected official because you don’t want to tell someone crying no, but…

The final speaker at the Platform Committee testimony was Pam Simon. Pam spoke about guns as she is now one of the members of Everytown for Gun Safety after surviving the shooting in Tucson. One of the things that stuck out to me were her remarks about how fast the shooting was. She said he killed and injured 19 people in fifteen seconds. She also described how ordinary of a day it was for her and her friends on staff — she expected to go with Gabe Zimmerman to help him pick out a place for him to hold his wedding.  She is a nice lady. (We sat next to each other for a little bit and I promised to take pictures of her speaking.)

Conclusion

It took a very long five plus hours to hear everything (started at 2:05, finished at 7:45) but it was interesting to observe. This is part of people having a say in how their country is run. Even though almost no one reads the actual documents anymore, they do stand as a collected statement of where a great deal of Americans are at.  It gives us a chance to give a voice to the voiceless beyond merely voting.  And we got to do it in air conditioning!

Writing Is Seduction

Stephen King - Writing Is SeductionIt is possible to overuse the well-turned fragment, but frags can also work beautifully to streamline narration, create tension as well as to vary the prose-line. A series of grammatically proper sentences can stiffen that line, make it less pliable. Purists hate to hear that and will deny it to their dying breath, but it’s true. Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story… to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all. The single-sentence paragraph more closely resembles talk than writing, and that’s good. Writing is seduction. Good talk is part of seduction. If not so, why do so many couples who start the evening at dinner wind up in bed?

—Stephen King
On Writing

My Best Friend and the Art of Love

My Best FriendMy Best Friend, or Mon Meilleur Ami, is one of my favorite films. But I haven’t watched it in a while. And after watching it this afternoon, I was shocked see that I had never written about it. I’ve always thought it a flawed film, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. I do wonder why we Americans can’t seem to make films like this. The American filmmakers who are capable of making such films are too cynical. And I’m not saying that I’m above that. All my fiction is cynical — at least on the surface. (I think about it like M&Ms: a hard cynical shell and a gooey middle.

My Best Friend is about a bet. François (Daniel Auteuil) is a very successful art dealer. His partner, Catherine (Julie Gayet — yes, her) bets him that he has no best friend. Indeed, all his business associates confirm that he has no friends. To give you some idea, the film starts in a church. He is doing business on his cell phone. He says, “Sorry, I have to call you back. My client just got here.” And we see six men carrying a coffin in. He’s there so that he can talk to the widow about a deal they were in the middle of.

Still, François isn’t crude or coarse; he just seems clueless; he never learned what it was to be a friend. So François has a week to present his best friend. And in the process, he spends a great deal of time with a taxi driver, Bruno (Dany Boon). And although it takes a long time for him to realize it, François does have a best friend: Bruno. But he’s still clueless and focused on the bet. This leads to Bruno being devastated, when François stages a demonstration for his colleagues of what a great friend Bruno is. He succeeds: everyone agrees that Bruno is a great friend, but that François is a total jerk.

My Best Friend and Love

The core of My Best Friend is laid out late when Catherine tells François, “You asked about the acid test [of friendship]. There isn’t one. I forget who said, ‘There’s no love, only tests of love.’ The the exact opposite is true. There’s no test. There’s only love.” Catherine admits that her part in the bet was based upon her anger at not being allowed to be François’ friend. He’s just no good at it — or even knows what it means.

By the end of My Best Friend, François seems to have figured out the friendship thing and has many healthy relationships. It is just that none of them are with Bruno who is far too hurt by his betrayal. But, of course, they finally do get back together — acting more like best friends in grammar school than the grown men that they are. We are even left with the two of them accepting of their obvious lies. Because there’s no test. There’s only love.

You owe it to yourself to find and watch My Best Friend. It’s that rarest of things: a “chick flick” for guys. But one that gals will love too.

“Boring” Is a Dangerous Political Tactic

Boring Mark ShieldsOne of the guiding principles of my life if that one of the worst things is to be boring. I would much rather deal with someone with wrong but interesting ideas than someone with right but dull ideas. I’m just not going to spend a pleasant hour about how we all should try to be a bit more understanding of each other. But I’ve always thought of it in a personal way. Now I think there is a political aspect to it. And that is nowhere so true as the Friday episode of The PBS NewsHour when Mark Shields and David Brooks come on to discuss the week’s news in way so boring that you won’t have a clue what they talked about five minutes later.

Part of the reason the segment is always so boring is that Brooks and Shields don’t much disagree. And this is due in large part to the fact that The NewsHour thinks that a well-spoken but extremist right-winger like David Brooks should be countered with a man whose own promotional materials say, “Mark Shields is free of any political tilt.” He’s also one who military giant Lockheed Martin seemed to like to have around to give what were doubtless well-paid speeches.

PBS Wants to Be Boring

But you can’t blame it all on Shields not being a liberal. When E J Dionne fills in for Shields, the segment is almost as boring. The truth is that The PBS NewsHour wants the segment to be boring. They want to portray the Overton window to be so small that it really doesn’t matter if you go out to vote. Because if you don’t you’ll either get one of two people who are pretty much the same. This is an amazing accomplishment, when you consider that while Mark Shields really is a Milquetoast, David Brooks is an extremist.

Boring David BrooksNo reasonable person watching Bill O’Reilly thinks that they are getting the objective truth. They know that it is Bill O’Reilly’s opinion just as they know that he has a major anger management problem. But the calm discussion gives the impression of hearing the objective truth. And that’s really dangerous — especially when you consider the kind of people who watch The NewsHour. Because what you get is a lot of, “I agree, but…” I agree we should bomb Canada, but I think we should drop 20,000 bombs, not 40,000 bombs.

Boring Stops Debate

Listening to the first part of the segment last Friday, I learned that Shields thought that Obama’s comments on the Orlando Massacre were better than Hillary Clinton’s. Brooks thought the opposite because Clinton mentioned terrorism. And in so doing he got to go on for some time with the unquestioned framing that Orlando was a terrorist attack, even though there is nothing to distinguish this from any other mass shooting. Oh, except that the shooter was a Muslim. And there certainly wasn’t someone on the left to — even ever so gently — push back.

If The PBS NewsHour were not so intent on being boring, people might see that there are different opinions on these matters. Indeed: people might see that there are opinions at all and not just the God given Truth. So boring isn’t just a waste of time; it is also a deeply dangerous tactic of the power elite.

Meaning in a Meaningless World

Writing and MeaningYesterday, on the NPR show Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal signed off, “Friday! Quitting time!” And I thought, “Maybe for you!” I was actually shocked to learn Friday morning that it wasn’t Thursday. But it didn’t matter. Every day is exactly the same. Well, not exactly the same. My writers tend to take the weekends off, so I am able to get caught up with editing. This is a bigger and bigger deal as I do more and more straight management. Which I hate. Just in case you were wondering.

Today, as this is published, will be exactly one year that almost all of my income has come from one company: Quality Nonsense. But I don’t really work for it because it isn’t really a thing. It’s an umbrella company that owns other companies, one of which apparently makes a lot of money, because I keep getting paid and all the writers keep getting paid and the owner is in a different country every day or two. I call him the International Man of Mystery. And there’s much to that. He is an odd bird. He’s a business guy, obviously, because he’s created a number of really successful businesses. But he’s also a total nerd.

This isn’t to say that we agree about everything. There is a reason why I work for him and not the other way around. And we had a bit of a disagreement about the way something ought to be done early this week, and it threw me into a deep depression. As for the specifics, they don’t matter — even to me. But it brings up the issue of meaning. And I’ve spent a great deal of this last week wondering what the point of all this is. I’m well paid for what I do, but we (Okay: I!) always come back to Schopenhauer and the ultimate paradox of life. Here, I’ll put it in a box so you can really think about it:

You work today so you can make money so you can survive until tomorrow. The next day, you work so you can make money so you can survive until the next day. The next day, you work so you can make money so you can survive until the next day. The next day, you work so you can make money so you can survive until the next day. The next day, you work so you can make money so you can survive until the next day…

The only possible answer has to be that you enjoy what you do today. And that requires that your life have meaning. But does mine? Does yours? Oh, don’t think me naive! I know people fool themselves into thinking their lives have meaning. But I think it’s meaning on other people’s terms. It’s about making money. Or it’s about being good so God will let you into the greatest after-party possible. Or it’s about fame. And they are all, well, someone else’s idea of the good life. I guess they work fine if you aren’t self-aware enough to realize that they aren’t your dreams and your meaning.

Arthur Schopenhauer(None of this should be taken as a slight against my employer, who I’m sure has enough money to never work again. I get more the impression that starting successful businesses is to him much like solving Sudoku puzzles are to me. But I don’t know. Nor do I care. I’m talking about myself.)

What I want — what I have wanted for about a decade — is a theatrical company where I could produce a new kind of play that I’ve invented. I’ve written about 20 plays of this form that combine everything that I care about. And that’s the catch. If you need to depend upon an audience of people like me, you will go out of business before the first act is over.

So I continue on, because I have to make a living. And what I do is, well, not inspiring. It is not a story/documentary about a group of teens who burn themselves to death on video just to be “cool.” But it ain’t brick laying either! It requires every bit as much work and creativity as “The Post-Postmodern Comedy Hour,” which regular readers will know is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m paid (Well!) to be creative doing regular stuff. Because regular is what sells because most people are “regular.”

I don’t mean to associate myself with them in the least because I am nothing compared to either of them, but is it any surprise that David Foster Wallace and John Kennedy Toole both killed themselves?

This week has helped me see something more clearly, though. I can’t write novels. Well, I can write novels; I have written a novel. But there is no way that the stories I want to tell can be done as novels. Readers won’t put up with it. The one novel I have written really isn’t me; it’s a standard mystery; it is not the sort of thing that I would want to read; it’s just the sort of thing that I have figured out how to write from other writers.

Another thing I learned this week is that I’ve got to find a way to balance my paying work with the work that gives my life meaning. Otherwise, I will eventually decide that assuring tomorrow comes won’t really matter.

Fredrik deBoer Is Being Unfairly Attacked Even If He Is Wrong on Policy

Fredrik deBoerI generally agree with Scott Lemieux, but I think he’s being disingenuous in his article, The Party Left Me And Other Complaints of the Voter-As-Atomistic-Consumer. It’s an attack on Fredrik deBoer’s article, I Am Opposed to a Hillary Clinton Presidency Because of Her Policies and Her Political Judgment. Martin Longman apparently completely agrees with Lemieux. And it just makes me think, “Didn’t anyone read deBoer’s article to the end?

You see, if you didn’t read deBoer’s article to the end, you would get a skewed view of it. Most of it is a litany of everything he disagrees with Hillary Clinton about. And he has the right. As I’ve often noted, Bernie Sanders is no socialist but just a good old fashioned New Deal Democrat. Fredrik deBoer is a socialist, apparently. He wrote, “I am a lukewarm supporter of Bernie Sanders. I am not much of a Democrat. Sanders would be, in my ideal world, the compromise candidate himself.” So it isn’t surprising that he has lots of complaints about Hillary Clinton’s policies. The majority of it consists of 5 long paragraphs starting, “I am opposed to a Hillary Clinton presidency because…”

Not About Hillary Clinton

But the article is not about his displeasure with Hillary Clinton. His displeasure is with those who he thinks claim that there is something pathological about people on the far left. He is responding specifically to Amanda Marcotte, who wrote in New Republic:

What you’re seeing is a huge drift in the party, away from having our leadership be just a bunch of white men who claim to speak for everybody else. We’re moving to a party that puts women’s interests at the center, that considers the votes of people of color just as valuable as the votes of white people. Unfortunately, some of the support for Sanders comes from people who are uncomfortable with that change and are looking to a benevolent, white patriarch to save them.

I understand Fredrik deBoer’s irritation. I’ve fought this same battle for a long time. The idea that Sanders supporters like him because he’s a white guy is ridiculous. Young women overwhelmingly support Sanders; are we really to believe that they are racist and sexist? And didn’t these same people vote for a black man in 2008 and 2012? What Marcotte wrote is the result of something that is all too common in the world of liberal punditry: the “I’m the perfect liberal” syndrome. In it, the pundit thinks that they are the most liberal that you can reasonably be. The king of this is Jonathan Chait who is fine with people considerably more conservative than he is but utterly intolerant to anyone slightly to the left of him.

Fredrik deBoer Doesn’t Like Being Called a Sexist

Fredrik deBoer’s entire article is summed up in this passage:

You might reject any or all of these substantive reasons for rejecting a Clinton presidency. You might find them deluded or unfair. You might take them to be self-evidently ridiculous. You might find that my characterizations of Clinton’s policies are biased or inaccurate. You might find them accurate and believe that they are the correct policies. All of those are reasonable, constructive responses. But they are all arguments based on substance, on acknowledging the existence of meaningful and relevant differences between two candidates who have vied for the same party’s nomination. Instead, so often these discussions have focused, as Marcotte and others have done relentlessly, on left-wing politics as a matter of hidden pathology, secret motives, and bad faith.

Now it turns out that I don’t agree with Fredrik deBoer on his reasons to not vote for Hillary Clinton. And I reject his argument against voting for the lesser of two evils. It strikes me as elitist. People with secure lives can look at the long-term, but a Trump presidency would be horrible for the weak in the short term (and the long term, I believe). So I’m with Scott Lemieux on those matters.

But despite Lemieux claiming that deBoer was just asking for a substantive debate, he’s being disingenuous. Fredrik deBoer was asking that people not claim that he didn’t have arguments and was just against Hillary Clinton because he was a bigot.

I’m not saying that Lemieux can’t attack deBoer’s arguments against Clinton, but they are a side show in the article he picked, and his article misrepresents beBoer’s argument.

Less vs Fewer: Pedantry at the Grocery Store

Express Lane: Less vs Fewer

This is a photo of the Express Lane at Whole Foods. In general, I won’t shop there because I believe that a really expensive supermarket should at least pay its people well, and it doesn’t. Also: John Mackey. But I was in a rush and I needed a bottle of really expensive beer. And so I made my way to the Express Lane and that’s where I was confronted with the less vs fewer question.

For those of you who are not into grammar, there has been a raging debate among pedants about less vs fewer. Well, it’s not exactly a debate, because all the pedants are on the same side. You will set them off if you say, as the sign above might, “15 items or less.” You see, “fewer” is for countable things and “less” is for non-countable things.

So you might have fewer bottles of water, but you would have less water. But would you be confused if someone ran up to you during a fair and said, “A guy just grabbed a box of bottled water! Now I have less bottles of water!”? No, you wouldn’t. And you wouldn’t be confused if someone said they had fewer water, even if it sounded really weird.

Pedant at the Checkout

So there’s this guy in front of me, who is one of these blow-dried health nuts — a combination of Gordon Gekko and Johnny Appleseed. And he looks up at the sign and says to the clerk, “I love it when they get the grammar right.” The clerk is at first confused and then says, “Oh, fewer! Yeah, I’m kind of a grammar guy myself.” I don’t mind the clerk; he’s just doing his job. But the customer! It took all my powers of restraint to not start shouting. It’d be something like this:

Realy?! You think that’s grammar? And how is it you know that it should be “fewer” and not “less”? It’s because your 7th grade teacher brought up the less vs fewer controversy to you. And now, you go around the world trying to make Mrs. Grammar Pedant proud of you! Can you give me one good reason why “less” is inferior to “fewer” in this case? No you can’t! It’s just a rule you learned and you somehow never learned that grammar and spelling are descriptive and not proscriptive.

The truth is the less vs fewer question is a made up one. The word “less” dates back to before the 12th century. It was at least 600 years later that someone decided that what really distinguished a learned person from a prol was how they used two identical words.

Less vs Fewer Is Pointless

This kind of stuff enrages me all the more now that I do so much editing. Because this kind of rubbish just gets in the way of work. Even a good writer needs a tremendous amount of help from their editor. There just isn’t time to worry about such trivialities. I’m far more concerned about than vs then than I am less vs fewer. At least those first two words have very different meanings.

Worrying about less vs fewer is just foolish. Or fatuous. Or silly. Oh my God! What is the exact right word to describe this?! I’m sure there are people buying eggplants in Whole Foods right now who won’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

Vacuous maybe?

Stupid?

Absurd?

Ridiculous..?

Sanders’ Popularity Does Say Something About the Rising Left-Wing

Ryan Cooper - Rising Left-WingWhat is needed, I think, is a retreat from endless parsing of The Data and a little common sense. Bernie Sanders has been for years the most left-wing member of the Senate, from the second-smallest state in the nation. He ran on extremely aggressive and easy-to-understand left-wing policy. In contrast to the other white man in the race, the young, handsome, and (before the primary started) much more famous Martin O’Malley, Sanders stubbornly embraces one of the most toxic labels in American politics. But he completely blew O’Malley out of the water, and gave Clinton a serious run for her money, on the strength of colossal margins among young people — most of whom have come of political age in the worst economic environment in 80 years.

Surely some of that support is due to raw anti-Clinton animus or other distasteful characteristics, just as some of Clinton’s support can be chalked up to a selfish refusal to pay the higher taxes that Sanders’ program would require. But anyone who can talk themselves into thinking that his candidacy does not represent a resurgent American left has another thing coming.

—Ryan Cooper
Clinton Supporters’ Newest Delusion about Bernie Sanders

Update: Comments

I’m on the road and cannot comment at length regarding the comment thread here. I do however think that things are a bit extreme in both directions. I believe that most of the people in the party are of goodwill. And from a policy perspective neither Clinton nor Sanders are that different. What Sanders has as an advantage is a clear and consistent message. That doesn’t make Clinton disingenuous. I admire both candidates.

The point of posting this comment was to make a point about the people in the Democratic Party not the leaders of it. I do believe that the Democratic party is moving in a liberal direction. And that is not just a matter of the young people. If Bill Clinton were to become president now he would be much more liberal than he was then because the party itself is much more liberal than it was then.

Finally I want to say that James is my Digby. As you may know she got her start as a commenter on Atrios’ blog long before going on to start her own that greatly surpassed his. I appreciate his role as peacemaker even while remaining opinionated and interesting.

But as ever: play nice!

Three Races to Watch in Nevada

Nevada Representative Michele Fiore Christmas Card

Anyway, Nevada had its primary on June 14th and there were some surprising results for Nevada 03 and 04.

Nevada 03

Going into the primary there was the colorful Michele Fiore v two establishment politicians.  Assemblywoman Fiore has frequently gotten some national press from her various stunts for attention such as when she took a very controversial photo with her family for her Christmas card. For those who are not fans of guns, the fact that the only people not armed were the carried toddlers, was definitely upsetting. The child in the middle is five years old and carrying a Walther P22.

However she lost with only 18% of the vote while Danny Tarkanian got about 31% making him the winner of the primary.  He is facing (and already attacking) Democrat Jacky Rosen who won her race with a comfortable 62% of the vote.

Nevada 04

This race was of particular interest because it was one of the down-ticket races that Senator Sanders endorsed a candidate in. There were three top Democratic candidates but it was mainly between Lucy Flores (endorsed by Sanders) and Ruben Kihuen who was endorsed by Senator Harry Reid.  Kihuen was also endorsed by the local culinary union which is fairly strong in the state but particularly in the district. There has been speculation on Twitter that Susie Lee being in the race led to Lucy Flores losing. Lee captured 21% of the vote and Flores, 26%. Regardless, Kihuen won the primary with 40% of the vote.

He now will face Representative Cresent Hardy and is already eagerly tying him to Donald Trump.

US Senate

I haven’t talked about the Senate race yet because I was focused on the House. But with Senator Harry Reid retiring, it is going to be a major battle for the Democrats to hold on to the Senate seat.

The two expected winners of their respective primaries: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Joe Heck caused no surprises as both won.

Catherine Cortez Masto would be the first Latina woman to serve as a US Senator. She served as the Nevada Attorney General and while she had something of a rocky time as the Attorney General, time heals all wounds.  She is endorsed by outgoing Harry Reid but I am not sure if she has been endorsed by the powerful (and active) culinary union that pushed Kihuen to victory in Nevada 04.

Joe Heck is a doctor/executive, former Army general, and current US Representative. In what may be a bad move, he has endorsed Donald Trump. This will give political observers a chance to see if embracing Trump hurts or helps someone.  Considering Trump’s sinking numbers: I think it will hurt him.  He is otherwise not a remarkable Republican officeholder.

November Outcome

In Nevada 03, Rosen seems to be a quiet campaigner while Tarkanian is ready to go against her.  How this will play out is anyone’s guess. She may decide to let him act like a bully while she simply continues to talk to voters. Meanwhile, in Nevada 04, Kihuen is going to take the fight to Hardy and push him hard.

For the Senate, it is also anyone’s guess.  The last polling that was done was back in December. The two candidates were evenly split with a lot of undecideds. So it depends on how they campaign against one another and how the very top of the ticket plays out.

Will Teleprompters Save Donald Trump?

Brian BeutlerRepublicans can no longer kid themselves into thinking that teleprompters can rescue Trump from himself, or themselves from him. He read his speech Monday from prepared text as well, and showed he can be just as odious as when he ad-libs. His scripts, it turns out, are sometimes just transcribed versions of the improvised comments McConnell finds so politically damaging.

If McConnell’s support for Trump is equivocal in any way, it’s contingent not on Trump’s views, but on his ability or willingness to express them in politically anodyne ways. After Monday, McConnell and other Republican leaders can either state their support for Trump without hesitation, or rescind their support entirely. But they can’t claim they want to wait and see if Trump can adopt a better message. Monday’s speech told the tale: his considered comments are just as obscene and incoherent as his extemporaneous ones.

—Brian Beutler
Donald Trump Stuck to His Script. What Do GOP Leaders Say Now?

Math Dreams, Dyslexia, and Brain Changes

Numbers - Math DreamsWork has been really stressful. I’m afraid that my boss thinks far too highly off me. I am just a writer. That’s really about it — I’m no manager. This stress came up in a recurring dream I had last night. It involved a bus trip. I was trying to make a connection. But it was all screwed up. I have these dreams all the time. But this one involved a bus schedule. And I noticed something interesting about it: I couldn’t read it. I often have math dreams but this was a different kind — more a number dream.

Now I know: supposedly none of us can read in our dreams because they are the result of our right brains that don’t know much about language. But the truth is that I can read in dreams. Admittedly, the reading is rudimentary — rarely more than a sentence in length. This may be the result of the difficulty that I had learning to read.

How Dyslexia Changed My Brain

People think of dyslexia as the problem of flipping letters and words around. But that’s not true. Dyslexia is a disorder that causes otherwise mentally capable people from learning to read. It’s hard for me to say that I have dyslexia, because I fought hard against it and have overcome it. But there are residuals of it:

  1. I read much more slowly than pretty much all of my intellectual peers — about 300 words per minute once I get going.
  2. I’m terrible with names, which is why reading Dostoyevsky is so hard.
  3. I panic if I know I have to read something quickly.

But otherwise, I read quite well and quite accurately. And since I most clearly was not born to be a writer, spending so much time as I do in the right side of my brain, it isn’t surprising that I would have formed connects between the hemispheres that other people don’t need. And don’t think I say this with any self-satisfaction, because I wish it weren’t so. I wish the opening of Bob’s Burgers (which features two written jokes) didn’t cause me anxiety. (The Simpsons is even worse because the chalkboard joke can be very long.)

The Unbearable Greyness of Math Dreams

Anyway, getting back to the dream, I held a bus schedule in my hand. Now a bus schedule has almost no words on it. And this was a Gold Gate Transit bus schedule, so I knew what all the words were anyway. I just needed to look at the numbers. But there were none. Really: I couldn’t make out anything. It was just grey. That wasn’t that stressful, however. I’ve been in that exact location in dreams before and I knew what I had to do was walk up the hill, because the bus didn’t pick up where it let off. Still, I like to know when the bus comes.

Combining “2” and “3” gives you “23” and we all know what that is. Combining “t” and “i” gives you “ti.” But there is no meaning to it.

What I find most remarkable about this is that I have math dreams. When I was studying math seriously, I had amazingly vibrant, even explosive, dreams about math. But they were completely abstract. There were no numbers. There were not even any things. I can’t quite explain it. The closest I’ve come is the scene at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day where the T-1000 has been dropped in the molten iron. It tries shifting its shape into everything it had been before. That’s what the dreams were like, but there was nothing concrete that I was trying — and no end result I was moving toward.

Will All Math Dreams Be Thus?

Last night’s dream may just have been a fluke. Maybe in other math dreams, I will be able to read numbers just fine. But I do wonder if my difficulties in reading haven’t forced me to rework my brain in ways that math hasn’t. Numbers aren’t math just as words aren’t language. In fact, even that greatly overstates the importance of numbers to math.

There are only 10 number characters, compared to 26 letter characters. And the number characters combine in a perfectly consistent way. Combining “2” and “3” gives you “23” and we all know what that is. Combining “t” and “i” gives you “ti.” But there is no meaning to it. In fact, we don’t even know how to pronounce it. It could sound like “tie” as in, well, “tie” (or “tight” if you prefer). It could sound like “tea” as in “etiology.” Or it could sound like “sh” as in “mention.” (See Ghoti — generally attributed to George Bernard Shaw, although actually never used by him.)

The brain is a funny old thing. I find it fascinating that my brain changed the way it worked because some avenues of problem solving were closed off to it.