How Millennials will hurt themselves by voting third party

Young voters will do themselves more than a grave injustice by voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein in November. They will put themselves, their friends, their deep-held values in peril in many ways.

As gratifying as a pro-Bernie protest vote might feel, as righteous as a Green Party ballot might seem, any vote that doesn’t go toward keeping Trump  far away from the Oval Office is a vote to drag us back to the ugliest aspects of the mid-20th century.

It’s not so much that Trump himself will enact laws rolling back progress (though he’ll try), it’s that his ardent white supremacist, anti-gay hordes will feel emboldened—even mandated by the electorate—to “make America great again.” That’s “great” according to their exceedingly narrow, monochromatic worldview, and by whatever means they see fit, even violently—make that, especially violently.

If you had a great time at Brian and David’s wedding, and you cried because they finally consecrated their longtime love, know this: Trump himself might not overturn same-sex marriage rights, but his mouth-breathing acolytes, juiced up by their leader’s bellicose bellowing, will not take kindly to their kissing in public. One act of violent idiocy will breed another, and dozens more, and thousands more.

The gradual progress we’ve made toward the accepting and embracing of transgender people will come to an abrupt halt, to be shoved backward repeatedly, like the “different” kid in the hallway between classes. Yep, school bullying has already seen a spike; imagine what a Trump presidency would herald.

That goes, too, for those in your group who are of mixed race—walking tapestries of cultures and DNA, and targets for those with fair skin and foul hearts.

See, Trump is not keen on this whole e pluribus unum, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” stuff. So, your smart, funny friends from the Middle East—the ones you just know will finally cure Parkinson’s or Lupus or ALS—say goodbye to them, if they are even allowed entry. (See, that’s something Trump could do, and the thought of a Trump pick for the Supreme Court is appalling. Justice Rudy Giuliani, anyone?)

Again, though, this is more about the movement that Trump has fomented. Even if Clinton wins, the closer the election is, the more powerful that hate-filled demographic will feel—and they will act on it.

I voted third party in 1980; I know how good it feels. The stakes are just too high this time around, though. Bernie Sanders got my vote and some of my money this year. I still and always will have a stake in his progressive agenda.

So, please postpone your “save the planet,” “I wanted Bernie,” “I hate the establishment,” “I like weed” vote for another cycle. The vital objective in 2016 is quashing this 1930s-era malevolence—for yourself, your friends and our future.

Please vote for Hillary Clinton.

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Melania Trump’s convention speech (transcript)

The full transcript of Melania Trump’s speech:


Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth onto this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

Close cover before striking.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men….

Stay the course.

You want fries with that?

This old man, he played four; he played knick-knack on my door.

Beam me up, Scotty.

Stay calm, and carry on.

A priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into a bar.

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

I can’t get no satisfaction.

Stop, drop and roll.

To be or not to be.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

A thousand points of light.

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.

It’s not over until we say it’s over. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

10-4, good buddy.

Screw your courage to the sticking place.

I’ll have what she’s having.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece as white as snow.

Let’s win one for the gipper.


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20 reasons to get up, go to the polls, and vote for Democrats

For voters wondering which way they should vote this fall, or whether they should vote at all, here are 20 reasons why voters should go to the polls in droves and vote for Democratic candidates at all levels of government.

Democrats …

1. Respect education and science, including the overwhelming evidence of manmade climate change—and the imminent threat it poses—as well as the proper
protocols for dealing with relatively new viruses like Ebola and older diseases like measles.

2. Support the separation of church and state, which is essential to the enduring strength of both.

3. Know that a thriving middle class is crucial to our nation’s financial and social well-being.

4. Know that most people want to be self-sufficient but sometimes need temporary help (food stamps, child-care assistance) to make ends meet and work
toward that independence.

5. Recognize that a decent minimum wage would not only restore dignity and hope to millions of Americans, but would bolster the economy for everyone.
(“Trickle-down” economics has been proven not to work. Think instead of a tree, which draws water through its roots, and that water works its way up to
feed the entire tree, all the way to its highest branches. In short, lower-income citizens spend most, if not all, of their money, putting it back into the

6. Know that universal health care keeps everyone healthy. General public health means that the cook preparing your gourmet entrée is far less likely to be
sick while doing it. It also reduces costs overall, including taxes and hospital bills. (It’s also the decent, humane thing to do.)

7. Work to pass meaningful legislation, rather than filibustering at a record pace (as McConnell’s Senate Republicans did), or wasting time and lots
of taxpayer money passing repeal bills (as Boehner’s House Republicans did) that have no chance of enactment—which is nothing but political posturing.

8. Don’t see military invasions as the knee-jerk response to every overseas conflict.

9. Recognize that our military veterans deserve the best possible care after sacrificing to defend our nation.

10. See that renewable energy, beyond its obvious benefits to the planet, can and will create huge numbers of jobs that will have a supremely positive
effect on the overall economy.

11. Understand that the pay for a given job should not vary because of the employee’s sex.

12. Realize that sexual orientation is an essential part of a person’s physiology and that denying rights based on that is immoral and discriminatory.

13. Know that a woman has the ultimate right to make her own health decisions.

14. Don’t cherry-pick the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment are essential to our democracy; they cannot be ignored for political expedience, as many on the right would have us do.

15. Work to ensure every eligible voter’s right to cast a ballot, not just those who are likely to side with their own party. Republicans in many
states have enacted laws targeted to curtail voting rights for students and minorities—those who are most likely to vote for Democrats.

16. Understand that gun violence is an increasing national problem, and that sensible legislation will help protect our children and other innocent people
from becoming tragic statistics.

17. Recognize the role that labor unions have played in protecting our workforce and strengthening our social fabric and economy.

18. Support the EPA and the FCC, both essential to keeping in check the damage brought about by out-of-control energy companies and reckless financial
institutions. (Not all are irresponsible, but far too many get away with far too much.)

19. Create jobs and enhance public safety through investments in infrastructure.

20. Endorse campaign finance reform, so that billionaires can’t buy elections.

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Parsing Chris Christie

“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable,” N.J. Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday. “I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”

As the George Washington Bridge traffic mayhem scheme bubbled to the national media surface, Christie—usually glib and never camera-shy—issued a written statement, inherently without inflection or emphasis. 

As certain people (on both sides of the political fence) have read it aloud on the air, they’ve imposed an interpretation on it—much as an actor offers a “line reading” to convey an emotion or a sense of doubt, irony, and so on.

I think they may have misread these two sentences.

As a professional writer/editor and a veteran actor, I’d like to offer what I feel might be more accurate interpretations—based on their syntax—of what these two sentences actually meant, instead of simply buying into their verbal cloaks.

In the first sentence, the phrase “for the first time” is placed in the middle; that syntax suggests it could modify the end of the sentence (the predicate) just as easily as it might modify the beginning (the subject). Shifting that phrase one word to the left or right would clarify the intended meaning:

“What I’ve seen for the first time today is unacceptable.”

“What I’ve seen today is for the first time unacceptable.”

As written, the intent is left to the reader’s inference.

The second part of this quote has, I believe, been completely misinterpreted.

“I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”

The “not only” is the key element; it calls out for the proverbial second shoe to drop after the comma. The beginning of the sentence, given the syntax, implicitly places it at the start of the second clause:

“I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but [I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that] this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”

That raises the question: Were the sadness and outrage because they were done without his knowledge? That is, did he want in on the large-scale prank? That’s what the wording would suggest. 

On Thursday morning, Christie announced he had fired his chief of staff for her role in the GWB debacle.

In time we’ll (probably) see whether the governor was complicit or not. The point here is about clarity in messaging. Wednesday’s statement—again, offered without the benefit of vocal inflection—lends itself to speculation about its intent. Was it deliberately murky, intended to hide the truth in plain sight, as it were?

Lesson for writers: Syntax matters, and ambiguity can foster misinterpretation and even distrust.



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This is as true today as it was two years ago, when I offered this open letter as a warning that we shouldn’t put Republicans back into any semblance of power. And what happened? We got the likes of Scott Walker and other Koch puppets, in addition to Mister Jumbo Gavel himself. Let us all learn from this, please.

Wordczar's Blog

“It’s time to put grownups in charge. It’s time for people willing to accept responsibility,” House Republican leader John Boehner told a civic group in Cleveland on Tuesday.

Well, Mr. Boehner, let’s just take a look at what your alleged Republican “grownups” have done for us so far.  Let’s look at your party’s fiscal and legislative responsibility.

That same day, Mr. Boehner, you also urged President Obama to support an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the very, very, very rich.

These tax cuts for the upper 1% or 2% do not trickle down into the mainstream economy. Not enough, anyway.  And there’s still nothing to balance the revenue shortfall, so the deficit would continue to expand – and that’s what you’ve all been wailing about of late, no?  Just as George W. Bush did with the nation’s credit card, you would be borrowing from Peter (who hasn’t been…

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New lyrics for “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

Herman Cain is my name, and the issues twirled in my brain,
When so many questions came and tore up my lame campaign.
In the autumn of 2011, I was in front of the other seven,
But Rick Perry couldn’t count to three;
I was hopin’ that I’d be the nominee…

(Chorus) The day I drove my campaign down,
And all my pizzas were burning;
The day I drove my campaign down,
And all the pollsters were turning,
They went, “New-ew-ew-ew-ew -ewt, New-ew-ew-ew-ew-ew-ew-ew-ewt”

Back with my wife in Georgia, and she said, “I got some news for ya,
Herman, stop your flirtin’, or you’re gonna get some hurtin’.”
Now I don’t mind she threatened me, as long as she backed me up on TV.
Just don’t ask again about Ghaddafi, ‘cuz it makes me look like a freakin’ dummy.

Just like Bachmann before me, I tried to make a name.
And just like Perry before me, I went down in flames.
He was just a stupid, swagg’rin’ rube, and he made himself look like a boob.
I swear by the tax cuts for the rich, you can’t raise a campaign up when it’s in a ditch.

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Flashes (a poem)

Dogs take us for a walk,

three in number, 329 in years

(if you subscribe to the canine calculus).

The yawning summer sky

turns Wedgwood to crimson to sapphire,

and kids appear in luscious yards at the appointed hour;

bearing giggles and shrieks and hopes

of harnessing the elusive firefly —

the lightning bug that strikes multiple times in the soul.

A familiar tug on the leash doesn’t distract,

but rather reinforces

the smell of new-mown grass,

the cicadas’ symphony,

the discontinued novel,

the unbegun play,

the cluttered basement,

the reality, the fantasy,

the home run still to be hit,

the glorious status quo,

and the carefree yelps of a girl however old, who topples

in innocent grandeur onto green blades of youth,

and who stays there as we now only wish we could.

As the first stars appear, and the pale crescent

begins its fleeting flirtation,

the fireflies in my mind

lead me on a chase again, reckless and ambitious.

Then my universe turns, gently holding two leashes;

she cocks her head ever so slightly,

and she smiles, all the love in the world in one gaze.

We walk on,

pockets full of fireflies.

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