State Capture

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

I keep reading articles & news posts about how the Trump Administration is doing a bad job of communicating its policies & governance. This presupposes two things:

  1. That the Trump Administration has objectively and holistically comprehensible policies and governance strategies
  2. That they have the desire to communicate them clearly to the public via the media

I think the press is still doing a bad job at understanding what’s going on here. The easiest way to #DrainTheSwamp is through neglect. Shut down whatever you can, fill key positions with administrators who will further hamstring the bureaucracy, and leave the rest to dry rot.

This is the kind of state/regulatory capture you learn about in an introductory public administration course.

Sincerity

Sunday, 22 January 2017

In the apotheosis of postmodernity that we are currently subjected to sincerity is hard to find. The alt-fact (propaganda) & alt-right (white supremacist) are unscrupulously disingenuous at dissembling. The social justice left has balkanized due to self-inflicted “No True Scotsman”-ship. Hipster irony in the early aughts was at least performative – a joke that everyone was in on; and even if you didn’t think it was funny, you at least knew it was a joke. Now, just about everybody is a revanchist.

The tools used to make nothing mean anything, and anything mean nothing have been so refined that 140 characters can take 10,000 of analysis to unpack. Speed, volume, and anonymity create so much noise that there might as well be no signal.

I used to think hipster irony was the problem & that sincerity was the answer. I was wrong. Postmodernity is the problem.

I still think sincerity is the answer.

My General Political Philosophy

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Ethics

In general I support candidates, legislation, and civil behaviors that most closely meet my ethical and moral standards. The discernment process becomes progressively more refined as necessary, which, it turns out, isn’t very often. I was raised Catholic, so my moral and ethical foundations are Judeo-Christian. Core tenets:

…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:31

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Luke 10:29-37

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:40

Reiterating: Meet those standards and get my support. Oppose them and I’m an opponent.

Reason

I support candidates and legislation that make the correct moral, ethical, and reasonable decisions, even when they are difficult. Policies and positions based on science, empirical research, and long-term viability get my support. I don’t believe in quick fixes. Government works best when it is evolutionary – a series of very gradual changes we can believe in. If a legislator or piece of legislation does not meet or impedes the progress of correct moral, ethical, or rational decision-making, I oppose.

Anti-incumbency, Complacency, & Overton Windows

Barring disqualifying ideological differences, if a candidate or party has been in office or in power in an area for a long time, I’m probably going to vote for their opponent, especially in a primary. I blame this on 30 years of hearing the same names on the nightly news. A Bush has been either President or Vice-President for 20 years of my life. Clintons have been in the spotlight for the same amount of time. The same names have been around in Cleveland for as long as I’ve been here. I’m not into dynasties – familial, ethnic, or otherwise. I thought it was hilarious that the best the Ohio Democratic Party could come up with for Senate this year was Ted Strickland, & the best they could do for the last Governor run was Ed Fitzgerald. Reheated, thin gruel. Yum! ← This, by the way, is how I feel about most major candidates that run for office.

I also think that the longer a candidate is incumbent – the longer they have to become comfortable, complacent, and likely to ignore their constituency. You keep a knife sharp by honing it. The same principle applies to people. Comfortable people are dull. I think every incumbent should be challenged in a primary when up for re-election. No free passes.

I also vote to shift the Overton Window closer toward the Judeo-Christian ethic illustrated above.

Hoosier Libertarianism

I don’t want legislators or legislation to dictate to me or others how and in what way our private, personal business is handled. All y’all deserve the protections enumerated in our constitution. And by all y’all I mean all y’all.

Whatever Remains

I realize that this description of my political philosophy isn’t nailed down to the last shingle, but I don’t think it needs to be. That orthodoxy results in the political climate we currently loathe. When there were grey areas to be had in a politics, I welcomed the chance to discuss them, learn, and possibly have my mind changed. Those days seem to be long past, and not returning any time soon.

7 Years of Political Silence

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

I stopped writing about & voicing my political opinions back in 2008 or 2009 after J. Kevin Kelley & Kevin Payne got busted by the FBI for their corruption. At the time I tweeted something along the lines of “I can’t believe I worked on a project with these scumbags.” That project being a redesign of the County Engineer’s website that had languished for over a year, complete, but without sign-off to go live. The next day I got called into the Director’s office with my boss and syntax was structured that tangentially implied that further public commentary from me on anything job-related would affect my employment. That Director, Dan Weaver, later got sentenced to 3 years in prison as part of the same giant pile of corruption that infected the management of the entire County. I think the FBI stopped fishing soon after because everything left was small fry.

They scared me. I had a brand new infant, a mortgage, there were no job prospects in Cleveland, so I deleted the aforementioned tweet and kept my head down for another 5 years. The FBI burst in to my office because these criminals spat upon the same civil responsibility that I was honored to contribute to. Everyone at the County was implicated. I know how louche it is to voice personal opinions regarding one’s professional position, but some shit needs to be unequivocally repudiated. The following tweet is, as far as I can tell, the only one left standing from that time:

I’ve spent 7 years with my lips zipped – which is not an easy thing for me to do. I’ve tried to be as non-partisan as possible in my dealings with everyone. Going along to get along. I’ve avoided engaging in anything that might be politicized, but what isn’t these days? Ain’t nobody playing for low stakes.

I can continue to kibitz, or I can throw my two cents on the pile & see if anything shifts.

Mainly, though, I’m tired of keeping my mouth shut.

Lifetime Learning

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The boy and I went to a Frontiers of Astronomy lecture at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History tonight to learn about gravitational waves from Dr. Kelly Holley-Bockelmann. Here’s a similar version of her talk:

For a quick run-down about the importance of gravitational waves: Top 5 Targets of a Gravity Wave Observatory.

I’d forgotten how much I missed hanging around a campus and going to random lectures and learning new things straight from the experts. That was one of the highlight of attending a university. Plus the snacks after!

It was my son’s idea to attend, and even though it was way past his bedtime, he learned a bunch, and even asked the astrophysicist an intelligent question about the “pressure” of gravitational waves that she was able to explain to a 3rd grader. It was definitely a more intelligent question than the one about time travel. I’m super proud of him for having the gumption to ask a question when he was the youngest in a room with hundreds of people in it.

After the lecture we went up to the observatory and got to take a gander at the moon. It was a first for both of us, and amazing! Then we had the aforementioned snacks, headed home, and he passed out in the car. I need to start looping myself in to the local lecture circuit. There are too many colleges around for me to continue ignoring the opportunities they provide.

I might even be able to haul along my son, since he seems to be into the science-related ones at least. I guess that runs in the family too.

Petty Theft Runs in the Family

Saturday, 5 November 2016

When I was 7 or 8 I stole a packet of erasers from Mace’s Supermarket in Connersville, Indiana. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. I got caught. I do not recall the exact chain of events that thereby transpired, but I got hollered at by my mom, went to my dad’s workplace and got hollered at by him, was returned to Mace’s where I got hollered at by the store manager. I do not recall if the police were called, but I do remember that the threat was there. I learned a lesson.

Today, my son took two packets of Tic-Tacs from Giant Eagle. When I discovered this, I felt trifurcated; like I was that little boy again, and like my mom must have felt dealing with that little boy’s malfeasance, and also as myself, at 35, being both of those at the same time. We returned to the store, and I made him go to the service desk and ask to speak to the manager, and I made him fess up to the manager when he arrived. He got a lecture that I very much remember getting.

His punishment was losing all of his Halloween candy – if he feels the need to steal candy, he doesn’t deserve candy that was given to him. He was super upset about that and felt more than a bit of remorse – although it took him awhile to get there.

At one point he said that he knows he has “good deep down inside me” and I told him that it doesn’t need to be deep down inside, he should let that good fill him and flow out of him, so that he can be a good person to everyone.

We’ll see how it goes. Parenting is full of surprises – and deja vu, too.

The {foo} Talk

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

So my kid told a couple of other kids (girls) at school that a “male penis” goes inside a female and releases sperm and the sperm meets the egg and that is mating. I learned of this when the Assistant Principal gave me a call & was audibly awkward about the whole thing. I get that 3rd grade might be a bit too early for some parents to want their kid to know that kind of stuff, but the night is dark and full of terrors.

I’m just glad my kid knows the right terminology and the mechanics of the process & that he’s still innocent on the technique. I gave him the details when he asked. My mom did the same for me when I was nought but a wee bairn.

He knows all of the common curse words. He also knows that I know that he knows them. He also knows that I know that he knows that I know that he knows not to use those words until he’s has a better appreciation for the timing & appropriateness thereof.

He knows that I fuck up screw up as a dad and a human sometimes. He knows that this happens and it’s okay, and that it’s healthy to admit when we do something wrong & that we have to work together to be better people.

The world is tough to navigate – I don’t want to make it any harder for my kid. I try to give it to him straight.