The 2018 Midterm Election is Tuesday: ⓋⓄⓉⒺ✔

When you vote, you will be given a sticker. It’s a piece of paper with adhesive on one side and decorations on the other. You put the sticky side on your clothes. Also, you get to weigh in on who does what in the government. It’s fun! Will you elect a dog as dog catcher? A cat? A fox to guard the henhouse?! It’s up to you! Choose wisely!

Predictions for the Midterms

There is a lot of misery from the muralists’ failure to make any attempt to govern in an inclusive way. Trump stomps on the values of America on the regular. The Republicans sit at the table counting their money. They pause on occasion to look over at what the president is doing to the country but don’t do anything about it.

That is not a healthy dynamic. Everybody knows it, including the elected Republicans who keep following along, wayward elephants who think Trump’s their mother. They don’t want the music to stop. Keep dancing, Trump says, and nobody (who’s a Republican politician) gets hurt.

But the voters know. Even the Trump supporters know. They think it’s all a game. They think Jesus is coming soon to put them in the goat pile and that it’s too late to fix climate change or the crumbling bridges. But the rest of us, who plan to be alive through and after Day Zero, want good governance.

In the House things look good for the Democrats. They currently hold 193 seats (two vacancies) to the Republican party’s 235 (five vacancies). The magic number is 218, so they need 23 seats.

FiveThirtyEight: “2018 House Forecast” gives them a chance in the mid-80s of winning control, but where within that range they’ll fall is harder. The median and average are both short of a direct reversal of the numbers (a 40-seat swing), and in recent history the largest the Democrats gained was 2006 with 31 seats (in 2010 the Republicans had a 63 seat pickup).

Signs point to turnout exceeding 2006 and 2010, so I’m predicting the Democrats beat their numbers but fall short of the Republican record: 42 seats putting it 237 to the Republican party’s 198.

In the Senate, as anybody who’s looked knows, the Democrats have a rocky path. I will be very surprised if they can make the climb, but it could happen if there are enough draw races (like the gubernatorial election in Florida and some of the House races, particularly in red districts that might have gone uncontested in other years). Democrats should learn that contesting races (with reasonable candidates) always helps: if it gets just a few more people to get an “I voted” sticker, that can turn the tide for other races.

I predict a 50-50 Senate (net gain of one seat for the Democrats) with a very busy Vice President Pence (Mother will be pissed).

We should all have the luxury to vote by mail, but for those of us who don’t, it’s to the polls on 6 November 2018. Even if we don’t have vote-by-mail, we should vote as though we are post carriers:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Because that’s what voting is: it’s sending a message, a signal, to our nation’s capital. And boy do we all have a message to deliver in 2018. We want America to be what e’s meant to be. Smart and ready for the rest of this century and the centuries to come. Self-improving steady and dependable. Welcoming and helping eir neighbors and strangers alike.

We do not want America back, as though we could own it. We want to share America again. To share it here at home, and to share the values of America with the world. We must be rid of the feeling this nation is held captive by those who want to possess and decide without hearing the thing out. They do not own America, and any who seeks to conquer her, internal or external, by force or by deception, will hear us all tell them exactly where they can stick that notion.

The midterm election is on Tuesday, 6 November 2018.

(The 2020 election is in about 104 weeks. hehe)

Anti-Globalists Pave the Way for Globalization

The First World War was largely borne out of a weak international order with strong military alliances. The Second World War was largely the failure to strengthen the international order after World War I. And the pattern continues, with refugees fleeing from crises that are caused in part by a weak order, and the migrations are made worse by not having a world community prepared to deal with displaced peoples at scale.

People like Donald Trump that believe we can shut our borders and ignore the world are missing the fact that doing so invites crises that will inevitably result in either the destruction of civilization (unlikely, but possible and therefore stupid in its own right) or a stronger international order.

Why is this the case? Because the pain caused by bad policies is eventually redressed by learning from the mistake and adding more controls against it. (As bad as MAD is, it’s better than world war. The unfortunate trade-off is a low likelihood of total annihilation for a high likelihood of avoiding world war.) We have plans in place to deal with domestic crises (even if they’re poorly implemented and subject to endless sabotage by politicians that deny reality). After the 2001 attacks, the USA stepped up its efforts on all fronts to avoid vulnerability to a similar or different attack. We tend to fail to fix problems until they’ve already happened, but once they’ve happened we at least make plausible efforts to prevent a recurrence. At least for awhile.

So the efforts by dictators and leader-fools to thwart a stronger international order will leave the door open to crisis, and crisis will provoke a stronger order. That will entail a diminished sovereignty and increased spending for preparedness, and in turn a higher tax rate, particularly on the wealthy libertarians that claim to have studied history and claim to know better.

The balance between big government and liberty is not solved by picking one. The synthesis is to enshrine rights at the highest tier of government and devolve the administration of government, within the boundaries of rights, to the lowest reasonable level.

(Take healthcare as an example. The main reason the federal government involves itself in healthcare is that some of the states have historically bungled it, attempted to deny it on the basis of race, etc. That failure and those like it, at the lower tiers, to respect and enshrine rights, drives the enlargement of the federal government, for good and ill.)

It is not a simple task, to find this new balance, but it is achievable. And with the complexity of the modern world, it becomes necessary. It requires proponents of small government to agree that it’s better to have these rights recognized while pushing functions down the chain (and privatizing where possible) rather than leaning on racism and gluttony to try to drive a wedge between the people and their rights.

Ten days. There is an election in ten days. Check with your state election authorities for details. You should have registered by now (unless you live in a state with same-day registration)—if you missed the deadline, go ahead and register for next time.

Donny Filled Up the Swamp (or: For Lulz)

(To the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” (Wikipedia: “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”))

They all voted for Donald Trump
For lulz, for lulz
They all chanted out “Lock her up!”
For lulz, hurr durr
They all voted for Donald Trump
To give the lib-ruls a big ol’ thump
But they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They said he gonna build the wall
For lulz, for lulz
They said he gonna stop ’em all
For lulz, for lulz
They said he gonna build the wall
It couldn’t stop a tennis ball
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They thought when he got to Beijing
For lulz, for lulz
They heard trade wars are easy wins
For lulz, hurr durr
They thought when he got to Beijing
China would be their new plaything
And they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The rich got tax cuts to the bone
For lulz, for lulz
The debt shoots up to the ozone
For lulz, for lulz
The rich got tax cuts to the bone
And now the country’s rent-to-own
See they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They said Muslims ain’t welcome here
For lulz, for lulz
They said it with a racist sneer
For lulz, hurr durr
They said Muslims ain’t welcome here
But lied in court when they appeared
Well they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The dictators are gaining ground
For lulz, for lulz
Killing reformers the whole world round
For lulz, for lulz
The dictators are gaining ground
While Donny’s spine, it cain’t be found
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The hurricanes done gotten worse
For lulz, for lulz
The Koch Brothers sponsored this verse
For lulz, hurr durr
The hurricanes done gotten worse
The mercury’s fixin’ to burst
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

Donald Trump—the man’s a fraud
For lulz, for lulz
And money is his only god
For lulz, for lulz
Donald Trump—the man’s a fraud
Fred spoiled the child to spare the rod
How they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The election is two weeks away.
Remember, voting in elections where fewer people vote gives you more power. It’s the nitrous boost of voting.

Do: There is a Bomb

Do: There is a bomb. We should defuse it.

Re: There is no bomb.

Do: It’s right here. I’m touching it. I can feel the ticking with my fingers.

Re: There is no bomb.

Do: If we defuse it, we won’t get blown up.

Re: There is no bomb.

Do: The paper beside it says, “This is a bomb.” Oh! And here’s a defuse kit.

Re: It’s not a bomb.

Do: What is it, then?

Re: It’s not a bomb, whatever it is. And it’s too far away to do any harm.

Do: It’s right here. You could touch it if you tried.

Re: I could not touch it. See?

Re reaches eir hand toward the bomb while taking a step backward.

Do: You stepped backward!

Re: I did not. If anything, it moved away from me.

Do: The bomb’s timer says three minutes. We should defuse it.

Re: It’s not a bomb.

Do: You’ll be sorry when you’re bleeding to death from shrapnel wounds.

Re: I most certainly will not. I will heal and the scars will make me stronger.

Do: I thought you said it’s not a bomb?

Re: It’s not a bomb.

Do: Of course it is. All these wires and the explosives! If that’s not a bomb, what is it?

Re: I’m not qualified to talk about it.

Do: Let’s ask them. Do points to a bomb expert hotline number on the bomb defuse kit’s case. E pulls out eir phone and calls.

Mi: Bomb expert hotline. This is Mi. How can Mi help you?

Do: We think we have a bomb here.

Mi: Describe it for Mi, please.

Do: It’s a big mess of wires with a clock and what looks like paper-covered blocks that say C4 on them.

Mi: Does sound like a bomb to Mi. Anything else?

Do: There’s a piece of paper that says it’s a bomb.

Mi: Yes, Mi thinks it’s a bomb. You should defuse it.

Do hangs up.

Do: She says it’s probably a bomb and we should defuse it.

Re: There are many other experts that say it’s not a bomb.

Do: Please help me defuse it.

Re: Don’t! The bomb is good for us. We should speed the timer up.

Do: Speed the timer up—are you mad?! We’ll be killed, both of us.

Re: I have some bomb timer grease.

Do: Bomb timer grease?! I thought you said it wasn’t a—

Re squirts bomb timer grease into the bomb timer’s gears.

Do: Good God! We only have a minute left! Quick, you have to help me isolate the timer from the primary charge.

Re: Nope. We’ll be better off. Just you watch.

Do: Dead? You’re crazy. I’ll defuse it myself.

Do starts tracing the wires with eir hands, but Re slaps eir hand away.

Do: Quit! This is serious!

Re: I didn’t do anything.

The bomb explodes.

The bomb is a metaphor, principally for climate change.

It’s three short weeks until we get to vote in the 2018 midterms.

The planet needs your help in defusing the bomb.

Where are the Goalposts?

Senator Mitch McConnell recently accused opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of moving the goalposts. While he did not elaborate, what the phrase means is something like, “They believe that their current efforts to thwart the nomination will fail, so now they are opening new attacks in an effort to stop him.”

The problem for McConnell and Kavanaugh and all of us is that there is only one set of goalposts. They don’t move. They are: have a good government. But what does that mean?

Below I will outline the facets required for a legitimate and useful justice, which can also serve as a place to look back for future nominations so that McConnell and his spawn cannot say the goalposts have moved.

The list:

  1. Legally qualified
  2. Of good character
  3. Relatively non-partisan

Legal Qualifications

A justice or judge should have a solid understanding of the Constitution and the law. E should know that the law is not always adequate and be willing to admit that. E should be also willing to admit that e is not perfect at interpreting. But their record as legal professionals should show distinction and merit as contributors to a diverse and ingenuitive body.


E should lack moral turpitude, and be repentant for past mistakes and malfeasance. E should be respectful of the other branches of government, of eir critics, and of eir colleagues. E should be candid when questioned.


Especially in these times, when Republicans fail to credit the Democrats for having a tough time dealing with an outrageous administration, and Democrats feel particularly vulnerable and overreact in some cases, the judiciary should not be partisan. It should recognize that it is holding a pair of scales, not a paper fan emblazoned with a candidate’s name.

A judge (again, this speaks to character) must know when to bite eir tongue. Nobody expects em to be wholly disinterested in the political environment, but e should be measured eir interest, and e should refrain from partisan attacks entirely. If speaking about a political figure, a judge may comment on the person, but should not connect that to the party.

Re: Judge Kavanaugh, he possesses a useful measure of legal qualifications and experience. There are some spots of trouble, usually in dissents, which is where they usually are. There are political concerns about how he would approach some issues. But those are politically contentious issues, and like it or not, we will have to find political solutions to them. People will be harmed in the process, but I do not find that a per se reason to disqualify him.

Abortion, for example. Judge Kavanaugh would likely weaken women’s rights. Republicans like that about him. Democrats dislike it. They can and should vote accordingly, as Republicans know that if he does rule in that fashion in a future case, it will cost them politically. Just as Democrats knew that trying to open access to healthcare would cost them and moved forward anyway.

On the matter of character, Judge Kavanaugh has a mixed record. There are spots of trouble alleged in his formative years and in college. His professional record remains relatively clean by the available information (which is, unfortunately, artificially constrained and therefore not reliable). And his behavior in response to allegations against him showed some glaring examples of bad behavior.

At the very least, he showed disrespect to the country in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and while he apologized to a senator, he has not apologized to the nation. As the Senate represents the nation, it is owed an apology unto itself.

Of non-partisanship, the man can make no claim to it. He served as a heavy-handed partisan on multiple occasions, and his public behavior at the hearing was overtly partisan in the most egregious fashion. It would be a gross mistake, as it has been in the past, to install a partisan hack as a justice.