Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Bracing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best

I want to assure everyone that this is my last blog post before the election. I'm suffering campaign fatigue like almost everyone else, but I'm attracted to the news like a moth to a light. As hard as it is for liberals and conservatives alike to believe, there are still undecided voters, and those precious few might tip a very close race. To call it anxiety is putting it mildly.

In spite of positive statistics, Joe Biden is right about where Hillary Clinton was about four years ago in several swing states. The only difference is that Trump is maintaining a single-digit lead in several states (Georgia and North Carolina being the most notable) that he carried four years ago. Ohio and Pennsylvania has both parties looking nervous. 

This article suggests Trump is a bizarro Jimmy Carter. I see where the CNN brain trust is coming from, but it still feels speculative. I won't deny the parallels between the Iranian Hostage Crisis (the defining fiasco of Carter's one term) with Trump's mishandling of the pandemic. At the same time, the peanut farmer didn't have the same blindly rabid base that Trump has built. 

Even if you're reading this and completely beg to differ, I am asking you one more time to please vote. Being an American means meeting this minimum requirement every other November. A democracy functions best when everyone participates in some way. At this point, a mail-in ballot won't make it by November 3rd, so fill it out and drop it off at a polling station. Your nation depends on you.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Dispatches from Arm's Length, Part 12

 Exactly as I feared, we're taking a collective step backward. COVID cases are on the rise in all 50 states and DC. Even though Illinois was getting high marks from the CDC, we're not immune in any way. The Chicago area is in a "red zone" like the rest of the state, and in Illinois' five-phase outline, we're probably going back to phase two, if not phase one. One of my districts will go back to all-remote learning starting Monday the 26th, just three weeks after they reopened the buildings (to appease annoyed parents). Local restaurants will stop offering al fresco dining on Friday, though that's partially because of cold weather. I guess that means more Lyft and Postmates for me. An unwanted third wave is here, and we need to stay the course. 

Other notes:

+ I think nine Supreme Court justices is just the right number. No more and no less. Increasing the number to 11 just feels like a power move to appease progressives. Also, even though Clarence Thomas is "only" 72, I'm sure he's contemplating retirement. 

+ Let me emphasize again that whoever wins the White House in two weeks will do so by a razor's edge. Here's why. 

+ I predict Dodgers over the Rays in seven. I haven't been following baseball as religiously as I normally do, but I anticipate a fun, back-and-forth series.


Friday, October 9, 2020

Dispatches from Arm's Length, Part 11

 This past week has been to much of a whirlwind to ignore. The unwatchable "debate" between President Trump and former VP Joe Biden begat unintended free publicity for the Proud Boys, an anti-Semetic "next-gen" hate group. Soon after Trump weakly denounced the Proud Boys, his top aide Hope Hicks was diagnosed with COVID-19, then Trump and his wife both announced they had the coronavirus. An abbreviated hospital visit led to speculation that Trump either didn't really have COVID-19, but the more likely explanation is that Trump wasn't (and still isn't) taking the pandemic seriously.

While I'm happy to be working in a school again, it's at a questionable cost. Several school districts in the west suburbs that had been doing remote learning since mid-March caved to parents' demands, and began "hybrid" (IRL and remote simultaneously) learning. Most of the students I've encountered are happy to be out of the house, but with COVID numbers not tapering off, I fear a step backwards. The adjustments made for learning remotely have been clumsy, but I have faith my teaching peers will somehow make it work.

Every other late October/early November, I write a blog post imploring everyone reading this to take part in the democratic process and vote. This is my eight election cycle since I started this blog, and with each passing election the stakes continue to rise. This election, like 2016, is a no-brainer. Donald Trump has been an abject failure, if not close to complete ignobility as president, and does not deserve a second term. If you prefer to vote by mail, do so. If you're willing to risk voting in person, do so early. Everything is at stake here.