Politics

Entries related to things political.

Two Types of People

It is an old cliché, “There are two types of people…” Those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t. I tend to think more in terms of continua and less in terms of binary oppositions. Nonetheless, it is a valuable rhetorical device.

One such example is the quote attributed to Helen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” It is tempting to head off on a direction about the life of fear that seems to grip so many in our nation today, and the life of adventure. I choose adventure.

This came to mind this morning as I was reading some of Scott Cairns’ “Short Trip to the Edge”. On page 178, (at least in my copy of the book), he says,

Sometimes I think there are two Orthodoxies (as, perhaps, there are two Christianities) – the mystical faith of those who glimpse how little we know (and are drawn and driven by love), and the cranky faith of those who appear to know everything already (and wish the rest of us would either agree with them or disappear).

This resonates with me on several levels. It seems that those of us drawn and driven by love and willing to admit not knowing everything are too few and far between in politics. Likewise, it feels like the discernment process, at least in my branch of the Jesus Movement, fails to embrace those of us drawn and driven by love who admit to not knowing everything.

It feels like allowing God to shape and change me doesn’t fit with institutions that want to do the shaping themselves, perhaps out of fear of confronting changes they need to look at.

Yet again, perhaps we are confronting a false dichotomy. It is not binary oppositions, it is a continua. Our journey is to recognize what we don’t know, where we aren’t as loving as we could or should be and asking God change us in these areas.

Googling Foucault

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “Why are there leftists who think Google is an appropriate means of anti-capitalist, anti-oppression pedagogy?” The first comment started talking about learning algorithms, as if such algorithms could somehow be politically, perhaps more importantly, contextually neutral.

Part of the discussion included the question, “If an encyclopedia reports reasonably accurately on, for example, slavery, does that make it pro-slavery or anti-slavery” and went on to say, “Google is a source of data, and in some cases, information”.

This of course leads to the question of whether learning algorithms are truly. One person shared a link to the bookWeapons of Math Destruction. I added to the discussion with a link to AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals.

It seems to me that learning algorithms reflect the social context in which they were constructed. Unless there is some conscious effort by their creators, they end up re-enforcing the dominant narratives. This is than exacerbated if they factor in the choices of the users emphasizing the filter bubbles we all live in.

I must admit, most of what I know about Foucault comes from Googling him and reading various Wikipedia articles, but it seems like part of the response to this discussion is that people should Google Foucault; maybe even throw in some Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida, Fanon, Lacan, and others.

Then, as we move past learning algorithms, social constructs, and dominant narratives, perhaps we need to Google Freire as well, but that probably deserves its own blog post.

The Paris Climate Accord, U.S. Job, and the 2018 Governor's Races

Dayton Ohio Mayor, Nan Whaley, who is running for Governor of Ohio is going to test drive a Chevy Volt. Normally, I'd probably have some sort of snarky comment about this. Test driving a volt now? I've been driving a volt for years. The town of Woodbridge, CT, where I live has a changing station at the town hall and a charging station at the public library. The city of Middletown, CT where I work, which by the way, also has a mayor running for Governor has a fleet of electric vehicles and a bunch of charging stations.

But Connecticut is a different state than Ohio. Nonetheless, right now, as the current President damages job outlooks in the United States by withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, it is good to see gubernatorial candidates seeking to bring jobs to their state by pursuing a promising future instead of trying to prop up a dying past.

Woodbridge Municipal Election Pre-Game

Tomorrow is the 2017 Municipal Election in Woodbridge, CT. In a small town election there isn’t often polling done, so just about everyone’s predictions is based on anecdotes or personal experiences. I thought it might be interesting to look at the race from several different angles.

For First Selectman, we have Beth Heller running against Tony Anatasio. It is an open seat since current First Selectman Ellen Scalettar chose not to run again. If we look at this in terms of the previous First Selectman candidates, in 2015, Ellen narrowly defeated Cathy Wick, 1579 to 1523. In 2013, Ellen defeated Cathy 1616 to 1207. So, over the past two cycles the Democrats have won, but it has gotten very close.

In the past two cycles, both Beth and Tony ran for selectman. In 2015, Tony got 1565 votes to Beth’s 1548. In 2013, Beth got 1655 votes to Tony’s 1153. Like with the top of the ticket, we saw the Republicans pick up votes, and in this case, Tony picked up enough to pass Beth.

It is likely to be a very close race. I like Tony. I’ve often spoken with him at events and around town. However, I don’t think his plan for Woodbridge really makes sense. A key part of his platform is “Engage professionals to market the CCW property for sale to independent golf course operators”. I strongly doubt that they are can find an independent golf club operator who is willing to buy the Country Club of Woodbridge at a price and terms that the people of Woodbridge will find acceptable. I’m also very concerned about some of the negative campaigning and misinformation that has come out by people supporting Tony.

I will vote for Beth. She has consistently done great things for Woodbridge and is geniunely a good kind person. She has resisted responding negatively to the nasty attacks.

For the Selectmen, the Democrats have Teri Schatz, Joe Crisco, and Mica Cardoza running against the Republicans Dave Lober, Spencer K Rubin, and Joe Dey. Joe is the only incumbent. In 2015, he received 1505 votes, sixty less than Tony. In 2013, he received 1158 votes. I have long been critical of Joe, going back to 2013 when I wrote, Joe Dey's Missed Opportunity.

Former State Senator Joe Crisco is running for Selectman. Last November, he lost his Senate seat to George Logan. However, he did win in Woodbridge, getting 2,574 votes. People have attacked him for being too close to Gov. Malloy others have lauded him for the long list of things he has done for Woodbridge. It will see how many people that voted for him for State Senate will vote for him for Selectman. I certainly will.

On the Republican side, Spencer K. Rubin is currently serving with me as a fellow alternate in the Zoning Board of Appeals. He is young, energetic, and all my interactions with him have been positive. In 2015, he received 1705 votes for ZBA Alternate. The only person receiving more votes in 2015 was Cynthia Gibbons, who received 1846. In my mind, Spencer is the best candidate the Republicans have for Selectman.

Looking at the rest of the candidates, we have to look at other information. Teri Schatz was one of the leaders of the efforts to get Pease Park built. She has done a lot for Woodbridge and deserves our vote.

Mica Cardoza serves on the Board of Fire Commissioners and prior to that as a member of the Economic Development Commission. I know Mica socially. When my wife and I bought our house in Woodbridge, his wife was our realtor.

The only Selectman candidate is David Lober. I know him by site and by what’s written about him online, but that’s about it.

Heading down the ticket, for Woodbridge Board of Education, my top choice is Nancy Yao Maasbach. I know her through politics and have always been very impressed with her. Steven Fleischman is running on the Republican side for a third term. Back when I used to cover the Woodbridge Board of Education, I found him to be the most reasonable of the Republicans on the board. I don’t really know the rest of the candidates for Woodbridge Board of Education, so I’ll skip over those. Likewise, I don’t really know either of the candidates for Board of Assessment Appeals all that well so I’ll skip those.

When it comes to the Zoning Board of Appeals, however, I know several of the candidates. Henry Nussbaum is the one incumbent. Four years ago, he received 1342 votes. He and I do not always agree on various appeals, but he is very experienced and well thought out. Other than myself, of course, he is the candidate that I most support. I know Jeffrey Atwood all that well, but the interactions I’ve had with him have always been very positive.

On the Republican side, Mary Hill is running. I serve with Mary on the Government Access Television Commission. I believe she is the best Republican candidate. I’ve met Wanda Luciani-Kesses but don’t know her very well. I’m sure she would be fine. I don’t know anything about Kim Giangrande other than what I’ve read online.

Four years ago when I ran for Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate, I felt it was important to go to a ZBA meeting before the election so I would have a good sense about what I was getting myself into. I’m glad I did that. As far as I know, the only new candidate for ZBA or ZBA Alternate this year to do this is Yonatan Zamir. I’ve had several great discussions with him and I believe he will be a great ZBA Alternate. The Republican candidate for ZBA Alternate is Robert Wiznia. He received 1164 votes for Amity Board of Education four years ago. I’ve seen him on the campaign trail, but really don’t know him very well.

Finally, for Amity Board of Education, I’ve already mentioned that Pat Cardoza was our realtor when we bought our house. I hold her in the highest regard and strongly support her re-election. Four years ago, she received 1509 votes. Also running as a Democrat for Amity Board of Education is Robyn Berke. Currently serves on the Amity Board of Education, having been appointed to fill a vacancy. She has always been involved in town and is a valuable member of the Amity Board of Education. I hope she gets elected to a full term.

Hal Smullen is running again as a Republican. Two years ago, he received 1348 votes.

Making Eden Great

Now the serpent was more crafty
than any of the wild animals
the LORD God had made
and he said to Adam and Eve,
“I’m going to make Eden great again.
I will be the greatest president
that God ever created.”

When they heard the boasts
and found them pleasing to the ear,
they cast their vote for the serpent
and elected him their leader.

Then they heard the sound of the Lord God
walking in the garden
and they were afraid,
so they said to the serpent,
build a wall to keep us safe
and drive out those who are different from us.

When the Lord heard this he said,
“Because you have done this
by the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

Yet still the serpent boasted
“and when I return to dust,
I’ll be the greatest dust ever”,
and the serpent’s daughter
made fancy clothes
that were too expensive
and nobody liked
and tried to sell them in the stores.

And so the serpent started working on his agenda
And he attacked the judges and reporters
That thwarted or criticized him
And he said
“Nobody knew that healthcare
could be so complicated.”

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