Monthly Archives: May 2007

The Case For Lazy Fred

America needs a lazy president. No, I’m not being sarcastic; listen for a bit. The dictatorial creep is due to the office of the presidency being way too strong. I partly blame the direct election of senators, which cut state governments off from the national government, neutering the state governments in the federal realm. But that’s a discussion for a different day. I believe that America needs a weak president, to allow the state governments and Congress to regain their backbones.

Immediately, people will bring up George Bush Jr. He was constantly on vacation, isn’t that a sign of laziness? No, the Decider isn’t lazy in action, just in intellection. Look no further than No Child Left Behind. Bush is full of bad ideas, which are suger-coated with good intention. Intellectually incurious, yes? Lazy? He managed to get us into Iraq, didn’t he?

Now, Mr. Thompson has one great advantage over Mr. Bush: His ardent belief in federalism. He truly believes that the federal government should not interfere on some issues; he would leave many decisions to state governments. Unlike most politicians, there is actually evidence that Mr. Thompson is doing more than paying lip service. He was at the short end of a few 99-1 votes in the Senate, on grounds of federalism. Now that’s conviction. Under Fred Thompson, we’ll never get anything like No Child Left Behind — a blatant recantation of conservatism.

The guard against the corruption of power is Fred’s laziness. He won’t have the ambition to betray his principles. He won’t have the fire to fight those battles. With the veto pen in Fred’s hand, power will devolve to the states.

Considering the amazing leadership we’ve seen from states on such issues of health care and climate disruption, this would be a victory for anyone who cares about these issues. I’m particular proud of the leadership my governor, Mr. Schwarzenegger, has shown on encouraging new energy. Of course, the liberals will object that we need national leadership to get anywhere. I strongly disagree. I believe we will get better results by creating a battleground of ideas, where states can experiment, rather than imposition from above. The issues of the 21st century are sufficiently complicated that this experimentation is actually necessary to find solutions.

So, a Thompson presidency will empower the states, but what about Congress? If Mr. Thompson truly is as lazy as legend, then Congress might actually win a battle against the president. That will surely embolden this embattled institution, if nothing else will. They may finally get a backbone and pushback against recent excesses of the office of the presidency. Moreover, judging from Thompson’s respect for federalism, I think he also has a better respect for the constitution. He may step aside himself, and allow Congress to strip the presidency of powers it shouldn’t have in the first place. Congress’s ambition will counteract a lack of ambition.

What about world affairs? Surely, a weak presidency will weaken America’s role in world affairs. First off, this is not necessarily so, if Congress steps up. Secondly, is there anyone, besides the most deluded neocon-man, that what the world needs is more American intervention? Perhaps the world needs the hyperpower to step back for 4 years. America’s contribution to the threat of various Islamic radicalisms has been primarily military. It has also primarily backfired. Maybe we can listen a bit more to Europe — after all, they were right about Iraq. We need new international laws to deal with terrorists, and I don’t see that coming from America, but maybe it can come from Europe.

After the blunders of Bush and the tragedy of 9/11, I can sense that many Americans desire a strong president. Why else would Rudy be so popular? Yet maybe we should consider an anti-demagogue: the lazy candidate. Maybe we should be looking for a weak president, not a strong president. Remember, because of our separated government, a weak president does not mean a weak America. It means a strong Congress and strong states. I just might vote for Fred Thompson for this reason.

Addendum: But can Fred Thompson win? Yes. He said he’s going to run an unorthodox campaign, which means a lazy campaign, essentially. Here’s a lesson from history: William Bryan, one of the most talented orators in American history, ran around America delivering his cross of gold speech, electrifying audiences. Mark Hanna, campaign manager for William McKinley (and idol of Karl Rove), ran a front porch campaign, raising vast amounts of money from businessmen. McKinley won. If Fred Thompson gets the right people to work for him, perhaps he can pull off the internet equivalent of a successful front porch campaign.

Speculation: Gingrich, the Anti-War Candidate

I want to preface this entry by admitting that I’m engaging in pure speculation here, and everything I will say is probably wrong, but it’s fun to think about.

I find it curious that Newt Gingrich is waiting all the way until September to possibly make an announcement about running for president. He has his reasons, but they don’t seem to be good reasons considering the handicap that he’ll have. I’m leaning towards thinking that he won’t run, especially considering his high unfavorables.

However, there is one scenario in which waiting until September will help Newt. In September, we finally may run out of “Friedman units,” so to speak. That is, elements of the GOP may finally revolt and not give another 3-6 months. (I know that Andrew Sullivan, one of my favorite bloggers, has been obsessive about giving the surge a chance until September.) If Newt waits until September, the rest of the GOP candidates will have painted themselves into a corner. The war will be so unpopular that none of them will be able to win a general election, especially Mr. Last Man In Iraq, John McCain. (Of course, some may argue that this is the case now, but in September, it will become obvious to some of the angry 28%ers who were already betrayed on immigration.) This is all assuming that Hagel does not jump into the race.

I know, it’s really weird to think that Newt Gingrich would run as an anti-war candidate. I mean, he was on Fox News saying that we were already in the beginning of World War 4. That’s why this is pure speculation. Yet it’s not entirely inconceivable. He’s already done an about-face on climate disruption, when he came to debate John Kerry and then surprised everyone by admitting that climate disruption was real. He certainly has his flaws, but the one thing that I like about Newt Gingrich is that he’s willing to think big about the future. So, while I think this is extremely unlikely, I certainly think it’s within the realm of possibility.


Climate Disruption

I’ve mentioned this in passing before, but now I really want to emphasize it: We should refer to “climate disruption” as opposed to any other phraseology. It is the only phrase which evokes the proper mental imagery, unless someone can think of anything better.

The phrase “climate change” is empty; it doesn’t mean anything. When the hell does the climate not change? Why would change necessarily be bad? Saying “climate change” manages to communicate nothing useful about the actual phenomenon. It implies that the climate is some fixed entity, which it isn’t. Furthmore, adding “global” in front of it is unnecessary; that’s mostly (but not completely) redundant.

Meanwhile, “global warming” sounds like a pretty fun thing. Who doesn’t want things a little warmer? I’m wearing a jacket right now. When you tell people the temperature is going to rise, they don’t think anything of it. What can a few degrees possibly do? Then, when they see that the temperature varies so much in different areas, they discount any possibility of warming at all. They can’t worry about warming in and of itself.

That’s why I prefer “climate disruption.” When I think of climate disruption, I think about the ways humans have devastated other ecosystems. We have dead zones in our seas. We’ve deforested and over-fished. We’ve ruined the environment in many areas and now we’re doing the same thing to our atmosphere. And devastating the atmosphere isn’t something that stays in a local area — it affects all of us.

The problem with the climate isn’t change or warming, exactly, it’s the disruption that is necessarily coupled with those. We’re pumping obscene amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I mean, come on, it should be common sense at this point. We keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere and we’re going to mess up the atmosphere the same way we’ve messed up other things. We’re going to “disrupt” the climate, so to speak.

“Climate disruption” obviously isn’t perfect. The diction is still somewhat pretentious. However, I think a bit of pretentiousness in this case isn’t all bad since we still want things to sound somewhat scientific. Moreover, the phrase makes things sound bad without being alarmist. Overall, I think it’s much better than what we’re using now.

What I want to do is convince other people (preferably famous, but I need you too!) to use “climate disruption.” Please use “climate disruption” from now on and convince everyone you know to use it. Words matter.

EDIT: I should devise a pithier version of this entry when I e-mail others.

Memorial Day

Perhaps we should do more than remember heroism on this day, Memorial Day. We should remember barbarism and brutality. Because that’s what war entails, does it not? War is people killing other people. To call our dead soldiers “fallen” is to gloss over the brutality inherent to war. To be killed by an IED may mean one’s insides were ripped apart by a bomb’s shrapnel. Remembering our dead this way is not pleasant. I’d rather not try to conjure up this type of imagery. Most people definitely won’t. But I think we should.

We must remember the brutality, lest we become too casual towards war. Haha, wait, what am I saying? No, we already have become too casual towards war, otherwise we wouldn’t have so eagerly invaded Iraq. War should always be a last resort, especially in this modern age. Humans have been far too creative in inventing ways to kill each other for war to be declared this easily.

Part of the problem is that the burden isn’t really the nation’s burden. We have an all-volunteer army instead of a true citizens army. Most people just aren’t connected to the war. This is especially true for most of the politicians.

We definitely made a mistake in switching over to the all-volunteer army. It has disconnected us from the reality of war. The mistake that was the invasion of Iraq is, in part, a problem with the system. To prevent another Iraq, we must fix the system.

[I apologize for how poorly written this is. I’m still trying to get back into weblogging.]

Fluffy Filler Nonsense

(Note: I just read George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, so I’ve been examining other people’s words more closely.)

Here’s a fun sentence sample from the front page of “Wanting to maintain a role as engines of social mobility, about two dozen elite schools have pushed in the past few years to diversify economically.”

Ew. Is it just me, or is that sentence ugly? Who the hell put “diversify economically” together? That sounds like something you do to an investment portfolio, not to students.

A few remarks on “engines of social mobility”: First of all, universities are pretty much the opposite of engines of social mobility. They’re starting to do a pretty good job separating the haves from the have-nots.

Secondly, the word “engine” should evoke imagery of a “driving force.” Here’s how Encarta defines “engine” in this context:

driving force or energy source: something that supplies the driving force or energy to a movement, system, or trend

The extra layers of words take away from this energy. The schools aren’t actually engines of social mobility; it says they want “to maintain a role as engines of social mobility.” Where the hell’s the engine? To me, the phrasing (especially “role”) implies that college contribute to social mobility; not that they a driving force.

Luckily, the headline told us all we needed to know: “Elite Colleges Open New Door to Low-Income Youths.”

Bravo. Check out that juxtaposition. Now we see the sample sentence for what it really is: fluff.

This also reminds me of “affirmative action.” What the hell does that even mean? But I’ll save the critique of PC language in college for later.

One more thing to write about: The language of climate change.

Not as worrisome as you think

This is pretty interesting: Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush’s Choices on Iran Conflict: Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush. Apparently, Cheney really really wants war with Iran, but other people in the Bush Administration want to pursue a more diplomatic path.

At first, I thought this sounded worrisome, but then I realized: Hey, Dick Cheney is Vice President. VP is pretty much the most useless position you can have, and is the best place to put someone to make sure that person can’t make trouble. Cheney’s big influence in the earlier years are really an anomaly when you look at American history.

Hopefully Cheney becomes what other VPs have been: irrelevant.

Chalkboard Usability

I fixed a few issues with the Chalkboard Manifesto website. The title (where it says “The Chalkboard Manifesto”) is now a link that takes you back to the home page. Also, “newer” and “older” are links as well. When I changed that, I realized things weren’t quite centered, so I had to fix that too. I moved the RSS feed to the navigation bar instead of hidden above the search box. I’m not sure if it should just be in the nav-bar for the home page, or if I should keep it in all the pages. Anyway, the usability should’ve improved somewhat.

Debate 2

Overall, much better than the MSNBC Republican debate, where some really moronic questions were asked. I felt like we got to know the candidates better and the pacing was good.

Here are my impressions, and I’m not going to mince my words:

Rudy is the Security Demagogue. There are few words which will make my eyes narrow and tongue curl in disgust when I say them: demagogue is one of those words. I absolute despise demagogues. Rudy is a demagogue. Hey Rudy, just because you were in New York during 9/11 doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do as president to help us defend against more attacks. If we elect Rudy Giuliani, we will elect a tyrant. We will elect a man who will put an ID card in all our hands and will store all our private information in a giant database. Rudy constantly says that he will do anything to protect America, but he never mentions that he will protect the constitution with the same vigor. To be frank, after tonight, Rudy scares me. I will support almost anyone over Rudy (the exception of course is Hillary).

Tom Tancredo is a complete and utter moron. Anyone who thinks that the line about Jack Bauer was a good one is also a complete and utter moron. While McCain cites the Army Field Manual, Tom Tancredo cites a fictional character. Anyone who bases his security on fiction will have security of the same nature — namely, fiction! (Besides, if we’re going to have anyone fighting terrorists, it should be Chuck Norris.) To think that America will be protected from an attack by a legion of bad-ass motherfuckers is absolutely idiotic. We need good intelligence, and torture does not produce good intelligence. The false positive problem is overwhelming. I simply don’t understand how a terrorist would not leave a decoy bomb in these ticking time bomb scenarios. If these guys are tough enough to blow themselves up, I’m sure they’re tough enough to give out false information that will distract the good guys long enough for a bomb to blow up. Please, Tancredo, if you’re going to base our national security off a television show, or wishful thinking, then you don’t deserve to run. I’d rather listen to General Petraeus than Jack Bauer.

Huckabee hit every question out of the park. He was practically flawless tonight. He should be a top-tier candidate. Even though he does not support evolution, I’m willing to reconsider my support of him. I think he’d make an excellent Vice President. He also got the best laugh line of the night.

Thompson looked dour and uncomfortable — in fact, he looked downright unpresidential. Toss him.

Sam Brownback creeped me out. I can’t quite place why. It might just be a visceral feeling of a theocratic blob. It might also be the way he simply disregarded the UN.

Romney is slicker than a used car salesman. He’s an opportunist panderer. As soon as he wins the Republican nomination, his views will shift. This is not about “flip-flop”; this is about trust. I wouldn’t trust him with anything, let alone the highest office in the land.

Gilmore didn’t impress me as much as last time. I think that’s partly because Fox News used him in an incredibly dishonest fashion. They goaded him into criticizing his opponents on stage and then let all those opponents beat up on him. He looked bad because they made him look bad. However, he did have a good answer when it came to national security. He has experience in homeland security and talked about information sharing. He served in a national commission. He actually has national experience, unlike Mr. President of 9/11, Rudy. Point for Mr. Gilmore. I’m depressed that the average viewer will not get this.

Duncan Hunter hit trade hard, but I just can’t get excited about trade. I have tons of friends who get excited about this issue, but it’s not a sexy issue and I know it’s not a sexy issue. I had trouble paying attention to Hunter. I withhold judgment.

I’m not sure if Ron Paul screwed up, or if Fox News screwed Ron Paul. I know that the moderator distorted his response, but I think Ron Paul should’ve been more careful with what he was saying. Plus, he gave the demagogue the soundbite he needed. That’s all we’re going to hear. We’re going to hear Rudy, not Ron Paul. The news media will play it ad nauseum. I don’t think I can forgive Ron Paul for that. I do, however, applaud him for accurately describing “enhanced interrogation techniques” as Newspeak. First, it was “coercive interrogation,” now it’s “enhanced interrogation.” This is obviously obfuscation. It is obviously Orwellian. It is obviously torture.

John McCain was excellent — or at least he was excellent for anyone who thinks torture is wrong. Evidently, the Republican Party is now the torture party. Strange how their sanctity of life extends only towards unfeeling clumps of cells. How very Jesus of them. It is not worth protecting the body of America if she loses her soul. McCain hit Romney very hard after Romney took a shot at him. You may not like all of McCain’s positions, but at least you know what you’re getting.

Summary: McCain stood strong, despite criticism. Rudy scares me. Huckabee is a rock star.


No, the universe is not made out of tiny particles. The universe is made out of patterns.

When I thought this, I felt a tingling sensation throughout my body. I had begun to touch the face of God. No, I then took it one step further.

God is a pattern.

Now, I must examine this claim. I must find out what it even means, if it truly means anything, and then if it has any truth in it.

Suddenly, this doesn’t sound so unachievable.

The Revolution in our Midst

The world speeds up a little more, Book Not Ready for Print? You Can Whip Up an Audiobook for a Podcast for Now:

“We didn’t break out Champagne because we weren’t selling tens of thousands, but we certainly broke out the sparkling water,” Mr. Sterling said. “We are accustomed to working with product cycles one measures in months, but in this case we were working with a product cycle of days and even hours.”

This is what the future will be like. Breakneck breakthroughs.

The article seems to portray this as a neat little gimmick to help promote book sales, but I think that this incident is indicative of something larger. The world is speeding up. Soon, we will be moving at a frightening, disorienting pace. (If you think we’ve already reached that point, prepare to get even more dizzy.)

More Gilmore

After watching the debate, I think Jim Gilmore definitely deserves a second look. I don’t think he’s going to get that look, but I think he deserves it. This is just my uninformed impression, but he’s the one who seemed most comfortable being conservative and didn’t have to pander. It wasn’t always, “look what I believe,” but “look what I’ve done.” Romney and Giuliani sounded fake on abortion. They equivocated. Gilmore, even though supports choice during the first 8-12 weeks, sounded genuine. This is what I believe, this is my track record. And guess what, his position is more in line with a majority of Americans, who support abortion but also support restrictions on abortion.

I guess I feel like he can be a conservative without saying nutty things because he’s already proven that he’s a conservative.

Huck sold me with the line about weak federal government and strong state governments, but lost me when he raised his hand against evolution.

Also, I should not have watched this debate because of the essay I have due tomorrow. Oops.

Hate Mail

I remember when I used to work on that one of my favorite things was getting hate mail from ignorant people. That was always fun.

Well, I finally got my first piece of hate mail for Chalkboard Manifesto:

feck said:

I hate you. so badly

Haha. My goodness, I’m just a random person who puts a comic on the internets. I don’t understand why this person would take the time to hate me. Just ignore the comic, geeze. It’s not like I’m a Head-On commercial during your favorite show.

Note: I have gotten mail from people who were disappointed/angry with me not updating, but that is obviously not hate mail because they like the comic.


Over summer, I think I need to spend more time disconnected from the world. I’ll keep the TV and internet off for the most part. I’ll do a lot of thinking. And writing.