Dwelling design and politics

What if the great rift that separates the left and the right were not in fact a product of political belief, but an artifact (at least in part) of design?

This is at heart the premise I’ve come up with while reading over a wonderful book called The Death And Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. I should start by saying this is not Ms. Jacobs premise at all. Her book is about urban planing and how the way a city is designed will effect the way people live within it. The book is wonderfully clear, straight forward, and has taken my mind into places of design I had never contemplated before. More importantly, it made me question the way we socialize and how that socialization might change our character.

At the beginning of her book, Ms. Jacobs talks about the use of sidewalks. Not as a conveyance (although that is covered too) but as a social structure. Its about how the many small things, corner grocery stores, bars, front porches, stoops, stairways, and any old place that people will use to congregate, will give those living on a street a sense of shared ownership. Such places allow the people living and working there to establish social relationships that are numerous, shallow, and yet important, and at the same time they make a sharp divide between public social lives, and private ones.

While her book mostly talks about these relationships in the context of a city, I could not help but translate this into the small-town world I grew up in where everyone on the block knew your name, and if you did something stupid they would be happy to tell your parents. I got my first job though small town connections, and my first sense of the world though them as well.

Mind you, these small town connections were not always appreciated. I remember vividly one Friday afternoon when a Clovis cop gave me a tongue lashing for throwing my bundled up dirty gym clothes against a street sign. At the time I thought he was being a power-hungry jerk, but I never tossed anything at a street sign after that. Moreover, what I now understand as an adult but could not see then as a sullen teen was that his anger was not directed at any potential damage to the street sign, his anger came from a sense of ownership. He owned that sign, at least in part, because it was part of his world, and he felt a sense of responsibility for it. In the same way he felt responsible enough to me and my actions to say something.

That is both the gift, and the cost of group ownership. The joy and the responsibility, both at the same time. And I believe that this is a crucial element to small town America, and more importantly large city America.

Except it is no longer an element in either.

How many of you know your neighbors? How many of you trust them? No I don’t mean trust like share your innermost secrets with, that kind of trust belongs within the private relationships of your family and close friends. By trust I mean trust enough to leave a key to your house with them, and conversely owning a key to their house in your home.

I ask this because Ms. Jacobs mentions that on her block the local deli has keys to half the homes around it. This is an informal thing. The deli owner is not paid for this, and does not offer it as a service. That he holds their keys makes it easy for relatives or outsiders to visit, even if the owner of the house is not home. You can tell your friend, “Go down to the deli and ask Joe for the key.” Its safer than keeping a key under the doormat, and it means that anyone coming to visit is noted on the block and looked after.

So why does Joe the deli owner do this? He doesn’t get paid, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to any more service. Why do the home owners do this? There are no contracts, no signatures, nothing legal at all, and such a situation is ripe for abuse. Yet one block over it’s the candy store that holds the keys for that block, and the next block it’s the cleaners, and the block after that…

At the heart of these relationships is a thing called public trust. Its not a close relationship, its not like a close friendship, its more informal, and much more shallow. Its trading a little bit of your private space for a little bit of theirs. Its exchanging small bits of information over coffee. Its the bits of gossip that are helpful and not necessarily hurtful. Helping the new mother with the complex ins and outs of the school district, telling a lost neighbor the quickest way to the bus stop, offing a cup of flour to a neighbor who is out, feeding the neighbor’s cat when they go out of town, or driving a neighbor to the airport.

These things are not all that important. There’s is no specific reason why one “needs” to do these things for or with their neighbors, yet by doing these things one gains a sense of belonging, a feeling that they are part of a larger community. Everyone starts to own a part of a public space that is independent of them, yet beneficial to them.

And beneficial it is. As Ms. Jacobs points out, city blocks that have a shared sense of ownership experience much less crime. The kids are much less delinquent, there are less robberies, and much less strife. Why? Because everyone is watching out for everyone else. If your kid acts up, your neighbors will tell you about it. If a suspicious looking guy starts following women, he’ll be accosted. If a drunk gets too angry, he’ll be held in check. Someone is always willing to call the police for you, because they know you’ll do the same for them. And why do they do that? Because they know you. They see you everyday walking your kid to school, or buying a cup of coffee at the newsstand, or picking up a head of lettuce for your wife and the corner grocery. They don’t know you well, but they know you well enough to have a sense of belonging to you. By living in their area and interacting with them you have become one of “them”. Part of their team. Close enough to call the cops if a burglar starts to pry open your window, but not close enough that they need to know everything about you.

And its this sense of community, this belongingness, that I think sits right at the heart of our political divide.

Let me first start out by saying that I don’t think one political group has more of a sense of belonging than another. I think they’re both pretty equal right down the line, because I think the desire to form and maintain social contacts is equally distributed amongst the entire population. Sure some people want little public contact, and some people want more, but on average, either group of people has pretty much the same desire.

So since it is not lacking of desire, then what lies at the difference between the two political sides. Well I think it is the way in which we form and maintain or social contacts.

Rural Americans live far apart from each other. I know people who would have to walk a half mile to knock on a neighbor’s door. This is a massive distance when compared to a suburb like ours (about 60 feet, to either side), or an apartment in the city (as little as across the hall, or as long as 30 feet down the hall). This distance makes for some interesting things. For instance our more rural cousins enjoy a lot more privacy than those living in the city. They don’t have to put curtains on their windows so the neighbors can’t see in, there’s not a house close enough to worry about. On the reverse side, our city dwelling cousins enjoy much more social contact. All I have to do is step outside the front door and I’m almost guaranteed to talk to someone. Teri jokes about this all the time. If we lived in an apartment it would be even easier. I’d just have to open the door. Now compare that to our friends living out in the country. Short of picking up the phone (or the internet) the only way they can have a conversation with someone not in their house is to get in a car and drive.

Now neither of these are good situations or bad ones. As far as I know there is no empirical difference between living in the sticks or living in the smog, with the exception of personal preference. One might prefer one over the other, and most people do, but the homes themselves are similar enough for all practical purposes, except for one obvious point. People who live in the city will have the opportunity for a larger and more complex social circle. In short, they will belong to a larger social group than those living in the country.

Now if you’re with me so far, then the rest should be easy. This is where we get to the heart of the political aspects. You see, one of the key differences between liberals and conservatives is how they see those around them. Both groups believe in helping their fellow man, both groups I believe genuinely care about other people, but both groups show their care is significantly different ways.

Conservatives like to keep their giving private. They like to donate to their church, or their school. If they see a poor man on the street, they like to hand their $20 over to that person themselves. And based on the amounts that they give, conservatives they care very much about their fellow man. Much more, in terms of dollars, then liberals.

But in all these things the giving is happening to someone who is socially close to them, or to an organization that is socially close. Why? Well look at the relationships a person maintains while living in the country. Family they see everyday, sometimes too much of them. Neighbors they see occasionally. The same is true of shop owners, and other merchants. The only other places they can make and maintain public relationships is either in school or at church.

Seeing this, a pattern starts to arise. Rural Americans will likely not have many social relationships, but the ones they do have will be tight and deep. And what do we see when we look at how conservatives give? We see them spending their money in the places that are close to them.

Now lets visit our liberal cousins living in a city. City people have much more opportunity for public trust, and use this to their advantage. While their rural neighbors might use 20 acres to gain a sense of safety, a city person uses their neighbors (and curtains) to the same effect. When we look at how city people like to give, we see they want to spend their money not on churches or on schools, but on their neighbors and their neighborhoods. Because they live in a tight web of social interactions they know that handing a poor person $20 might or might not help them. But they also know that handing that same $20 to the right person, within that poor person’s neighborhood, will definitely help them.

When a city person says that giving money to the poor is beneficial, what they mean is inserting money into the right place in a poor person’s social network, will greatly benefit them. But consider this same problem from the point of view of their cousin in the country. The country cousin doesn’t have a large social network. Such things are completely invisible to him. If you told him you keep a key to your house at the local deli he might go into shock. The idea is foreign to him. So saying you want to spend money on a thing he doesn’t see strikes him as foolish. “Why don’t you spend that money in church instead,” he’ll say, because this is exactly how he would solve the same problem in his social network.

“But that doesn’t work over here,” his city cousin would reply, because in his world this is true.

And thus we find ourselves at odds. Not over the desire to give, but the method in which it is accomplished. And these alternative methods of giving hold their roots in the ways that we live amongst each other. In short, the design of our communities constricts the way in which we view a problem, and how we come up with a solution.

Is it any wonder that liberals generally come from big cities and conservatives from more rural areas? Perhaps one of the reasons Americans become liberal or conservative might have something to do with the design of their surroundings.

9/11 Eleven Years On

Our flag is going up today because we love our country. But I have to say I don’t like this day. I didn’t like it 11 years ago when it scared the hell out of me, and I don’t like it any more today. In some ways it scares me even more now.

 

11 year ago we took a collective kick to the teeth. We learned that being American doesn’t make you magically less vulnerable to the plans of evil men. We learned that for all the cool things we are and do, we are still at the end of the day just as human as everyone else. We collectively bleed, we can be collectively hurt.

 

The best thing that came out of this experience was our neighbors. They all came out the night we lit candles on the curb, and we talked. We needed to talk. We needed to share. It was too much. Things were too important. Me made friendships that night that continue on to this day. It made the block we live on “our” block. It made our house more of a home. It gave us a sense of belonging. This is a priceless gift, as I see the effects on those who do not have this. So thank you 9/11, thank you America for that.

 

But born on that day was another thing, a more sinister thing. An ugliness born of the desire to somehow get back to where we were before that day. I understand the longing for innocence lost. I understand the need to feel safe, and as a father I certainly understand the need to protect our children from the world. But there is no protection that comes at the end of a fist. There is no protection — even for the country with the greatest military on the Earth — that cannot be overcome by evil men if given enough time and money. We cannot will away the scars of 9/11, and unlike Pearl Harbor we cannot conquer the country that gave us them.

 

So we are stuck. Stuck feeling vulnerable. Stuck feeling insecure. Stuck feeling like there is nothing we can do.

 

Except we are NOT stuck. This feeling, this giant collective insecurity, can ALSO be a good thing. It can teach us what it is like to live pretty much anywhere else in the world. We can empathize with people from Somalia, Cambodia, Columbia, and China, because everyone else ALSO has this feeling. This is a good thing, a collective thing. A knowledge that even though we can be hurt we can also work together to not let our children all over the Earth be hurt like this again. Oh I don’t know if it is possible to keep every child on the Earth safe from feeling this way, but I think that’s a damn fine goal to have. I mean if we’re going to think of ourselves as exceptional, why not be exceptional for something worth being exceptional about?

 

This is the lesson I learned from 9/11. This is the lesson I learned the night my neighbors came over and we shared our collective grief, and in that sharing forged friendships that pushed back the darkness. Just a little mind you, but still pushed it back.

 

Terrorists can manipulate your massive and awesome military, heck they are trained to do this. Terrorist can make you feel insecure, and vulnerable. But the one thing they cannot do is take aware your friendships. Terrorist thrive on your terror and your fear, but they have no response to love, they don’t have a clue what to do about caring when they are expecting bombs.

 

So on this 9/11, I say we be exceptionally caring, exceptionally loving, and exceptionally dangerous to those who want us afraid. What better way is there to fuck with those sons of bitches than to respond to their evil with loving and care?

On Deficits and Spending

This article came up on FaceBook this morning.

I liked the article, but found it takes too many liberal ideas and presents them as fact without supporting them. Perhaps this is just a function of its length. But, the central point of the US being wrapped up in a deficit debate, is worthy of more consideration.

Ponder this: All through the Great Depression (which was most of the 1930s) the big debate in Washington was about deficit spending. Unlike today’s debate, they were all twisted up about ANY deficit spending, as in spending one dime over a balanced budget. The idea just flat out scared them. To let a budget go over what was allocated was madness to them, exactly like we talk about the “massive government debt” and “passing on our debt to our grandchildren”.

This fear of a non-ballanced budget (which we now know does not destroy a country) was so pervasive that it kept all social programs, especially the New Deal programs on a short leash. Too short, in fact. It also kept on defense department stunted at a time when it was critical to expand it.

Just like today, the two major sides were a Democratic party President (and congress) trying to spend our way out of economic gloom, and a Republican opposition resisting any effort to spend over the balance point.

When Pearl Harbor came, it did the one thing that neither party could do; it united the country. And in that unity we gave up the smaller fear of running with an unbalanced budget, for the greater fear of being overrun by fascism or Japanese militarism. In essence, the conservative fears of the dangers of an unbalanced budget suddenly had no traction. Our government started spending like drunken sailor. At one point we actually spent more, in terms of percent of the GDP, then we do today. Overnight we went from zero to 100. We also raised taxes like you would not believe, especially on the rich, and even rationed a huge number of materials (a move pretty much every economist will tell you will slow down the economy).

And the end result? One of the largest and longest growth spurts in our nation’s history. The wonderful economic bubble of the 50s and 60s was based on the spending of the early 1940s.

If there is something I would want to pass on to my grandchildren, it would be something like that. And yes, it came about from “out of control” government spending.

My son the conservative

The other day I came home from, work, and right when I walked in the door Trevor started telling me about these people on the MMORPG he is playing currently (Lego Universe). It seems that some of the guys online have gotten smart, and started begging the other players for money, claiming they couldn’t kill many of the monsters because their characters were too weak. Trevor had zero empathy for this guys, sniffing out their scam right away. He told me his character was no stronger than theirs (the game lists this stuff for all to see), and yet he was having no problems with the monsters. His indignation at their actions, and his delight at telling them off, was a wonder to behold. It  reminded me strongly of the many conservatives I’ve run across and they way they talk about welfare. “I’m not going to give my hard-earned money to someone who’s too lazy to work.”

My son, the Republican.

On why I hate television news, and why being ignorant about math is stoopid

I was having a discussion with an e-buddy of mine on the great depression the other day, and I challenged him to find a measure in which the current economic climate was worst than back then. He almost immediately provided me with this link from CBS news: Chronic unemployment worst then Great Depression. There are several things in the article of note, but the key finding is right here:

About 6.2 million Americans, 45.1 percent of all unemployed workers in this country, have been jobless for more than six months – a higher percentage than during the Great Depression.

(note: CBS has actually chaged their page. Look here to see what the older version said)

Well somewhere back in my dim past, I actually received a degree in History, and while I am no expert on the history of the Great Depression, I can do me a bit of research. So first off, lets see what the unemployment numbers are like for then and now:

Great Depression Unemployment

Today’s Unemployment

As you can see, they are not even close. Unemployment topped out at 24.75% in 1933, while it was 10.6% in January of 2010 (the actual yearly average for 2010 is lower, in the 9.5% range). But rather than going with peak unemployment numbers, lets even them out a bit. To make the argument fair for CBS I’ll use 9% as the current unemployment, while using 17.5% for the depression era unemployment (the average of all of the 1930s).

So lets see here, the current chronic unemployment rate is 45% of those unemployed. That is 45% of 9%, or 4.05% of the total population. That roughly means 4% of the Americans are chronically unemployed, and 5% or Americans are now unemployed, but will likely find work in the by next year.

Now, lets compare that to the Great Depression. The article says the chronic unemployment rate is worst now, than back then. For this to be true, the older chronic rate must be lower then 45% of those unemployed. (Note: the revised article now says the chronic rate was about 31%, so I’ll use that figure). So 31% of 17% were chronically unemployed, which works out to be 5.425% of the population were chronically unemployed. This also means a little over 12% of the population were unemployed but likely to find work in the next year.

So stacking them up we have:

The current situation:
9% unemployed, 4% chronically unemployed.

Great Depression:
17.5% unemployed, 5.4% chronically unemployed.

In what universe is 4% worse than 5.4%? In what universe is 17.5% preferable to 9%? Do you see the problem I have with this? Yes it is true that a chronic unemployment rate of 45% of those unemployed is worse then one of 31%, but as soon as those number are put in the proper context, any claim of being “worse” is flat out ludicrous.

What is “worse” than the initial report, was the fallout from it. The initial report came out on 6/6/11. The very next day websites from all over the political spectrum had linked to the CBS page, and were citing this statistic as fact. (do a google search for “unemployment worse than great depression” and see what I mean) I could find no page saying, “Hey! Wait a minute here,” even though it should be obvious at a glance.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Now there are all kinds of issues with my analysis.  Unemployment data from the 1930s is sketchy, as the government did not start keeping good records for a lot of things until the 1950s. I have no idea how CBS determined that the chronic unemployment rate was at 31% when the government did not collect such data back then. And obviously I’m greatly simplifying a complex problem just to make it easier to show. The fact that I’m even close is pretty obvious as CBS has subsequently changed their article, but there are lots of websites out there repeating the same wrong data, as if it were fact.

How to make a difficult job even harder

As I dropped off my son at school today, I got handed a handout from one of the staff members of the school. It was a sheet telling me that LAUSD is not standing up for education, and it throwing their teachers to the wolves.

My first thought was, of course the teachers union is going to characterize it this way. They obviously have an axe to grind. Being told the new LAUSD Superintendent gave himself an $80k/year raise just confirmed my opinion.

Mind you, this was handed to me by an employee who works less than 5 hours/day so the district doesn’t have to pay for her benefits. She is very energentic, and involved, ALWAYS helpful, and acts as if this is her dream job. So it was a bit of a shock when she told me, “oh no honey. This isn’t my bread-and-butter. I have to work somewhere else for that.”

So with these mixed signals, I came home, and started doing some research. What I found was a Lawsuit settlement, a failed district policy for dealing with layoffs, and a newspaper which also had an axe to grind. It’s also true that the district which is firing a large number of teachers for next year, did in fact raise the salary for the newly incoming super from $250k to $330k.

For a short run-down, read this. The comment at the bottom, attributed to Scott Folsom on his blog 4LAKids seem to be spot on. Everything I found this morning in my research, supported his contentions. Of interest I found the link on the bottom of his comments about the NYC school troubles (the largest school district in the US) to be especially insightful. It appears LA is not the only place where big does not equal beautiful.

I’ll be looking into Scott’s blog, and see what he is like, but so far, his is the only voice that doesn’t trigger my BS detector.

I actually do favor the use of “value added” as an objective metric to measuring teacher performance, BUT (and that is a big but) it should not be THE ONLY METRIC for measuring teacher performance (for instance, to be labeled a special needs child in the state of CA, one needs to have several metrics to determine if that child is indeed “special”. One test alone will not cut it), and if teachers are going to get paid based on this performance, then the kids taking the test should be equally judged on their performance. In other words, everyone needs to have some skin in the game. You fail this test, you fail the grade.

Mind you, I’m not a big fan of standardized testing. I am, however, a big fan of treating or teachers with equality. I don’t know about anywhere else, but in our local school, the teachers bust their butts to try and deliver a quality education their their charges. The entire staff, without exception is professional and passionate about their work, Seeing them have to work harder in an already difficult job, and yet expecting them to give the same performance is crazy.

And to the new Superintendent, John Deasy, my message is this: If you want my support, you better have some skin in the game too. If you’re cutting 5% of your staff, I expect at least a 5% pay cut from you, AND EVERY SINGLE ADMINISTRATOR on staff. No exceptions. You expect them to do more, with less, and you expect me to swallow that, then you better be doing the same. The Spartans got it right. The leadership position is in the front of the army.

Boycotting the Olympics

The other day I was on the phone with a buddy of mine, so I asked him if he was watching the Olympics. It was a natural enough question; he’s laid up in the hospital which means he’s got plenty of “nothing to do”. His answer surprised me, he was boycotting the Olympic coverage.

So the next day I was on the phone with another friend, this time taking a break from working on the house, when I mentioned our mutial friend’s stance on the Olympic coverage. He replied that his girlfriend was doing the same thing. She wasn’t happy with what China was doing to Tibet, and this was one of her responses.

Call me sheltered, but this was the first time I had heard of boycotting the Olympic coverage, and so I was in a bit of a shock. Even the online community in which I am active had not really talked much about it, which is a surprise because those guys there (myself included) will chew the fat about anything and everything, often to the point of the latin phrase “ad infinitum, ad nauseam”.

As it always seems to do, shock eventually gave way to thinking, and even a bit of anger. Not at my friends, or the girlfriend’s of my friends (I like them all very much, thank you), but at the idea of boycotting the Olympic coverage on television.

Here’s why.

Most of you know that the Olympics started amongst the Greek Polis (city-states) about 2700 years ago. This makes it exactly as old as democracy, as this was the birthplace of both institutions. What most people do not know is that the Polis then were constantly at war with each other. Every year, after the crops were in the fields, but before the harvest (war season) these little city-states would take up their grudges with their neighbors, usually at the point of armed conflict. Not all of the Polis were democracies (Sparta being the most notable exception, was an oligarchy), but ALL of them, including these fledgling democracies, fought each other. They even developed a wonderful type of fighting in order to accomplish this with minimal loss.

(as an aside, Victor Davis Hanson has a wonderful book about this subject, and it’s importance to Western Culture, called “The Western Way of War“. It’s a great read.)

So when the Olympics were first conceived, they did so with the full knowledge that warfare was common amongst the participants, and largely came about because warfare was so common. Today, we think of the Olympic ideal was to have something higher than warfare to celebrate. In greek culture this meant the human body, specifically the male body (the super-models in those day were always male) and what it alone could accomplish. But to get to this higher goal, they needed to stop fighting each other. To accomplish this, runners would be sent for each carrying an olive branch (symboling peace), and at the sight of these runners, the Polis would stop their wars, select their best athletes, and send them off to the games.

But here’s the thing. Even then the Greeks knew that the Olmypic games were themselves a type of battle, albeit a peaceful one. Call it war-light, or war without blood. With rare exception, the events of the early Olympics all stemmed from martial themes, and celebrated martial prowess. Success in the games was equated with success in the battlefield, and vice-versa. Guys who were charging each other, spears held high, just a few weeks before, would now face each other in the Stadium, and go to battle, albeit in a slightly different way. Each Polis would send a delegation of it’s VIPs and they would cheer and support their champions as best they could. Winning an event was often as important as winning an actual battle, and more than one war was settled based on the performance of their champions alone.

But make no mistake, to the ancient Greeks, the Olympic ideal was a martial one, and was conceived as one. To them, the Olympics was not sports rising above warfare, but battle without the blood.

Keeping this in mind, the question becomes, should we boycott the Olympics? Should we send a message to China, about their human-right behavior, by not engaging them? Ignoring for the moment the futility of boycotting something already bought and paid for, the barrenness of the concept that separating one’s self from a higher ideal is beneficial to anyone, and the fact that America’s human-rights record is, right now, no better, I say no. We have some actual conflicts with China, and will continue to do so for some time to come. This is the nature of global politics, especially amongst larger nations. Like the ancient Polis, we will always have some kind of conflict with China, and need to resolve these conflicts in some way.

The Olympics Games is one way to resolve some conflict, and it works as well today as it did some 2700 years ago. Don’t believe me? Look at how hard China is working to put on a good face. Those guys know their country is getting a lot screen time in the rest of the world, and they mean business. Add to that the fact that athletic performance in China is much more important than anywhere else. In other words, defeating the Chinese in the 100 meter dash is just as effective as defeating them in the field of battle, only in the Olympics, as the ancient Greeks discovered, no one dies, and no one looses face.

We have at our disposal a wonderful tool for resolving some conflict with a potential adversary. I say we grab our flags, cheer for our teams, and do our very best to defeat the Chinese without bloodshed, and which allows them to save face.

What have we got to loose?

We’ve Got The Spirit, Yes We Do…

About 230 years, and untold hundreds of billions of dollars, ago this country was founded under some pretty cool ideas. By accident of geography, a healthy dash of luck, and a huge amount of sweat, we’ve grown into a wonderfully large and diverse country that makes a HUGE impact on the world, and the world’s culture. We were small, now were large. Can you dig it?

But here’s the thing. In all that growth, in all that advancement of ideas and ideals, in all those billions of dollars made and earned, we still practice politics with slogans that are reduced down to nothing more complicated than can be expressed by a hundred cheering fans at a football game.

Since Barack Obama captured the Democratic nomination, slaying (at least for four more years) the hideous Hilldibeast, and the start of the real election campaigning began (real as in Dems vs. Repubs), the only things that have made the blogosphere are such terribly silly stuff as whether or not McCain is a U.S. citizen, or why Obama will not release his birth certificate.

This is an interesting time in America politics, with a couple of interesting guys running for the big office. They are both pretty sharp, eloquent, camera savvy, and able to work without a teleprompter. These are the kind of guys who can really debate; really get into the meat of an argument, and chew it down to the bone. Yet, the election so far looks to me more like they are campaigning for Prom King, rather than the Most Powerful Man In The World.

The sad part is, this is our own fault. If we only respond to the silly and sensational, then that is what is going to be “in play”, and right now, that is all we’ve got.

We are a country of bigger ideas than “We’ve got the spirit…” (hell, we are a country founded on bigger ideas than that), and right now we have a couple of candidates who are capable of articulating these more complex ideas, and doing it with élan. As citizens would should expect, nay demand, that they raise the bar of electoral communication, and we should do this every time they, the candidates, or any blog or new organization, talks politics.

Do not let anyone else tell you their pet molehill is a mountain. Do not let anyone else lower the bar of political discussion to such crap. We’ve been given such a steady diet of political junk food, for so long, that most of us accept it as a real meal. It’s not, and we shouldn’t.

We finally got some real political chefs in the kitchen. It time to demand something more than hamburgers and hotdogs.