Jan 27 2013

GET OFF MY CHEST! Vol. 4: We Swear That We Don’t Have A Gun (or a history of mental illness)

(we just need to vent a little)

Seattleite Paul Pearson and San Franciscan Diane Karagienakos and  are the consummate online friends. They have never met in person blew the mystique and finally met in person last November. If not for their mutual connection to exactly two people, they might not have ever known of each other’s existence. But they instant-message each other with a rapport like they’ve been doing this internet thing for a hundred years.

In their fourth, possibly most vital conversation so far, D&P weigh in on the gun control debate, and try like hell to make it into a more comprehensive, well-rounded parley than one normally finds in the current media climate. This discussion contains one (1) Lewis Carroll reference.
Diane: Let’s roll. Let’s just dive in: What do you think the problem is and how would you fix it, given the power to do so?

Paul: Well, the prevailing conservative sentiment that the problem doesn’t just have to do with guns is correct. I mean, it’s a LOT of the problem… a whole hell of a lot of the problem… but I agree with the notion that mental health has something to do with it. And one aspect of mental health that I think needs to be addressed is why certain people have so much affection for their guns.

Other aspects of the problem? Well, fear. Our nation’s genetic code, as it were, placing a certain nobility on violence. Lack of education. The instant gratification culture. It’s lots of things.

But mainly guns.


Diane: I’m gonna agree and disagree with you there. Agree guns are a whole hell of a lot of the problem. Agree instant gratification. Agree mental health. But I think the main problem, The Big One, is our society/culture of disconnection. Other cultures have violent games/movies, and guns, and, I assume, members of its society with mental health issues.What America seems to lack are things that counter these things. A sense of belonging. Pride of place. Strong ties to extended family, community. I work in a restaurant and every night, families sit around tables of very expensive meals, and no one talks. All of them are elsewhere on their devices. I swear I believe it’s all tied in. I’m not saying outlaw devices, not at all. But I am saying that as tribal people, we’re on a path of self-induced isolation. It’s not good, and gun violence is evidence of the worst of it.

And it’s pissing me off that no one is talking about this. Guns, mental health care system, NRA, Second Amendment. Everyone’s pointing fingers at these things, but no one’s willing to say we, America, are the problem. Come together, people!

Paul: Well, I see that disconnection as a problem witheverything that ails America at this point. We were already on our way to becoming an isolationist country, the breakdown of the tribal instinct that you mention only reinforces that. As someone raising kids with a lot of technology around the house, that alarms me as well. I’m leery of my family turning out like the one in The Ice Storm.

I wonder if we are irretrievably broken in our ability to discuss these matters like grown adults. I was thinking about this in relation to the news media the other day. Since they are driving discussion of this issue, they don’t take the time to discuss the intangible problems. They don’t like to attach a higher meaning to these things, like you just did. And yeah, it’s as much of a problem as any other problem in this mess. Still, the mathematical part of me, which is living in a very remote part of my subconscious in an unfurnished railroad apartment, also believes: You know, people really don’t need high-capacity magazines.

Diane: Absofuckinglutely. I have yet to hear a half-decent argument in favor of them. A conservative lawyer I know posted on Facebook:

It’s the middle of the night and you’re in bed on the second floor of your house in a semi-rural neighborhood. Your spouse is next to you and your kids are in their rooms down the hall. There have been several burglaries in the area recently, including one where the homeowner was stabbed and the perps got away… again. You hear the sound of breaking glass downstairs and then hushed voices. Quietly, you wake your spouse and call 911 and are told that help is on the way. You decide to wait quietly until you hear footsteps on the stairs. With nothing to fight with, you scream out, “I called the police and they are on their way!” Your door bursts open and two meth-amped assailants charge in waving flashlights and knives, demanding money and valuables and threatening bodily harm “because you called the fucking cops.” You try to give them money, but they are not satisfied so they stab you and your spouse repeatedly and as you fall to the ground the perps leave the room saying they are going to “Kill your fucking kids.” 5 minutes later, the police arrive to find the bodies of you, your wife, and your kids stabbed to death.


Thankfully, you have a legally registered pistol with a magazine that complies with the new law limiting it to seven rounds. You still call the cops and decide to wait it out, but you get your pistol ready. When you hear the footsteps and shout out the warning, the assailants burst in so you open fire. It is dark in the room and they are moving, so only two of your seven bullets are hits and they drop the first perp. The second one is still coming at you with his knife, enraged. 5 minutes later, the police arrive to find the bodies of you, your wife, and your kids stabbed to death. The perp you shot is gone.


Your pistol has a 15-round magazine. Only two of the first seven rounds hit the first assailant, dropping him and giving you a clear shot at perp #2. Terrified, you are firing wildly, but 3 of the next 5 shots find their mark. The perps are not dead, nor even mortally wounded, but they are injured and down, and you still have 3 rounds in your weapon. You keep the perps covered until the police arrive 5 minutes later.

And THAT is ONE reason why law-abiding citizens should be allowed to have medium-capacity (10 to 15 rounds) magazines.

How idiotic is that as an argument, if those are the only 3 possible outcomes? What the fuck are you doing shooting any kind of gun in your home where there are children in the dark? If you have time to strap on your big bad gun, how about just grabbing a flashlight or one of those flashlight helmet? Or best yet – night-vision goggles (which I would think if you’re enough of a firearm freak, you would automatically own — and actually take aim. But then if you were actually taking aim, you’d only need 1, maybe 2 bullets — and what fun would that be?

Paul: And how many times has Scenario #3 actually happened? You can’t predicate law on a short story. Not to cheapen the subject, but I could make a reasonable argument about not walking in fields with potholes in it, because in one scenario I heard about, a little girl fell down a hole into a room where she took oral steroids and ended up in a tea party with a grinning cat and a sociopathic queen. So don’t walk in fields, kids.

What lawmakers need to consider is the reality of the situation. And given all that’s happened, you have to weigh if all these mass murders would have been possible without quick access to high-powered weaponry. That has to be discussed.

Diane: Okay, thank you for making me laugh out loud with your frightful scenario. It comes back to your point about some people’s odd affection for their guns. I honestly don’t think most gun owners and NRA members think we need the medium-to-high capacity mags. But it’s that squeaky, well-funded wheel that keeps this from being a meaningful and forward-moving discussion. I wish the NRA would just branch off and become its own political party, stay out of other party’s pocketbooks.

And I agree with Louis Michael Seidman’s New York Times article about the constitution: that it derails any intelligent approach to problems of today. Camille Paglia did a great interview with Interview after Columbine, where she had a great approach to what’s wrong with schools and society today (circa 1998 or 1999). Her solution: Blow it up. Start over.

Same with the Constitution: Great preamble and ideas overall, but we must look at today’s modern problems through the lens of today. I don’t want to necessarily blow it up, but we need to be open to other ideas in this day and age.

Paul: The responsible gun owners far outnumber the wack-jobs, and I agree with you. I think rank-and-file NRA members are more in support of some logical restrictions than Wayne LaPierre would have you believe. But we can’t hear them. Their leaders have already proven themselves to be out of touch and comprehensively tone-deaf. It has to be frustrating for them.

As far as love of guns goes — I understand it as a hobby that could prove to be beneficial in some manner. I know some women in Olympia who have started their own gun club, and they’re extremely attentive to responsibility and safety. But in general I don’t quite get the displaced passion some people have for inanimate objects. And it’s hard to tell when enthusiasm ebbs into devotion, which ebbs into worship. I have to watch for that myself.

The Constitution was written without the framers knowing anything about the future. They didn’t know what things would be happening two centuries later. They’d probably be horrified that we don’t value fine American craftsmanship and buy a lot of our furniture from Swedes. I don’t consider it a holy document, although I’m nuts about that First Amendment.

Diane: Seems it’s never the gun wack-jobs who amass carnage before ultimately committing suicide. When did that even get on our radar as an option, a solution or reaction to an unhappy life of even phase of life? Are we just such a nation of pussies now that getting fired, or rejected (from school or a person we desire), or a series of these setbacks makes us not only want to check out, but to take innocent people with us? Whatever happened to “success is the best revenge”? Are Americans losing hope for achieving success? Are the expectations of The American Dream too great, too unrealistic? It’s like when you get sober or give up smoking or lose weight: You think it’s going to change your life so dramatically for the better. But it doesn’t. It changes it for the better, but it’s a far, far way from happily ever after.

Meanwhile, we have dumb-ass Snooki’s and Kardashians making it look like fame and success, the American “Happily Ever After,” are that easy. And if those tools can be rich and famous and happy, what the fuck’s wrong with me that I’m broke, unemployed, and can’t find a date? We are a nation of fucked up signals for kids, that’s all I’m sayin’.

Paul: It’s that instant gratification thing again. There are very few overnight successes, and if there happens to be one, the speed of culture usually cuts that success off or just forgets about it. Every noble success takes time. Even that Gangham Style guy’s been working for the last 9 years.

Right now? I think we’ve been in a downward spiral of hope for a couple of years. All of our expectations have been tempered. A lot of people feel the American dream’s out of reach. Surely I’ve felt that way from time to time in the past. But then again, I wasn’t doing what I know I need to do to be successful. That’s another story.

But yeah, I think that fatalism exists, certainly. And it trumps patience and hard work, for a lot of people. That has to stop. I think more than anything we’ve accepted anger as a food group. Some people have. It’s part of their daily diet.

I saw two of the Kardashians on Letterman last night. It was, believe it or not, the first time I was ever exposed to the Kardashian family for more than 30 seconds. I keep thinking the subset of people who are famous because “they’re famous” is about to go away, and it never does. They have a right to be happy. Certainly don’t wish them harm. But I wonder why a national of millions has glommed onto them.

Diane: It’s our culture of snark. We love looking at people’s lives and habits and making fun of them, while they laugh all the way to the bank.

I have a confession to make: I’ve watched Ice Loves Coco a couple of times now. And… I sort of love it. For proving me wrong in my own prejudice about certain people, based on how they look. I mean, she looks like a blow-up doll, but she seems really sweet. And Ice, we can think him a hothead thug, but he’s so calming and grounding a presence for her, and they clearly love each other so much. I can’t believe I’m even saying this! But… they give me hope! I don’t watch to laugh at them at all.

Paul: Ice Loves Coco is the only reality show I would even think of watching! They’re a genuinely loving couple, it’s not an exploitative relationship. I have always been an Ice-T fan and knew he had that side to him. They are not caricatured reality show stars. Ice wouldn’t ever agree to do a show like that.

Diane: Okay, Ice for President! Seriously, Obama needs to get some high profile people behind him on some of this stuff. Ice. Republicans who favor sanity in gun legislation. The NRA members whose sane voices are being drown out by the zealots. This business of guns has got to stop being another Democrat vs. Republican topic, or else you know it’s not going anywhere.

Paul: I have hope — a wafer-thin, ungraspable hope that I can’t back up with anything resembling an informed argument — that eventually some sort of rationality will emerge and we’ll agree to logical laws in terms of background checks, and not selling guns to felons or crazy people. I don’t have any way to back up that stance, but I look at how Alex Jones appeared on that Piers Morgan segment the other week. I don’t get it. He knew he was on camera, right? He knew that looking like a nutjob would detract from his argument, right?

I just searched for the phrase “when belief becomes insanity,” and found this quote about religion: “I think it becomes insanity when it requires you to believe things which are in direct conflict with empirical reality. i.e., if your religion requires that you believe the earth is flat, and you do, even though all evidence is to the contrary, then you’ve lost it.” I think that typifies the rabid anti-gun-control types to a T. The empirical truth doesn’t line up with their preferred worldview, so they just reject the empirical truth. Problem exacerbated.

Diane: Well, you’ve about as much hope as I have. How hard is it to apply the same requirements for purchase at gun shows as exist for retail outlets? Like someone stated regarding the purchase/transfer of cars, and all associated responsibilities/liabilities. Let’s just try those two things in terms of guns: background checks for all purchases, and out with the mid-high capacity mags. Let’s try and see how it goes.

As for mental health: Lord, there’s a label for everything these days. I think that’s meant to keep the docs and the pharmacies in business, I truly do. So much of what “ails” us psychologically is part of the human condition. America has a bad, bad case of First World Problems. And we have lots of pills for that. Some (schizophrenics, for example) are truly ill. But it seems the people who are involved in these shootings, they’re never on that end of the spectrum, are they? They’re usually “outcasts” or “loners,” most of which don’t gun down 6-year-olds. They need role models and trusting relationships and a stronger support system than most of us have. Not necessarily pills.

Paul: There are, as you point out, some people who truly need medication, there’s no way around it. But it’s no substitute for values. Speaking from personal experience, I think sometimes people get on those medications because other people want them to. They’re not fitting into someone else’s preferred character. I was on Celexa for a while for no other reason than the person I was living with didn’t like the fact that I didn’t always come home from work in an exuberant mood. Amusing side note: She wasn’t that sane to begin with herself. You can’t pill yourself into stability. I would use that as the utmost last resort with my children.

Diane: I worked at the medical unit at the embassy in London, sort of the primary care physician’s office for the diplomats of Europe and western Africa. And let me tell you, Ritalin was doled out to kids like fluoride tabs. “He’s fidgety in school, doesn’t focus.” Ritalin for you! I mean, little boys aren’t naturally designed to sit still in school, are they? Camille Paglia talks about this, only she’s talking about hormone-addled teenagers.

I commend you on not jumping on the medicate-your-babies bandwagon. That’s where it starts: teach your kids to work through difficult situations, or teach them to pop a pill to do the work for you. Another primarily American cultural feature that is hurting us. Pills get you through tough times, since we are lacking those other things that prop people up in other cultures. This whole mindset is part of that Bigger Picture problem.

Paul: Really, all I want right now is for both sides to be reasonable and discuss it like it’s a real, tangible problem, because it is. Whatever comes out of it will take time, I realize that. But everything’s got to be on the table and up for review. And it would certainly help if people stopped making up “facts” like “baseball bats kill more people than guns.” Research. Do your research folks.

Diane: I want both sides to be reasonable and discuss, without the shadow of the NRA and special interest groups clouding things. Do you think that’s possible, Mr. Pearson?

Paul: Sure, it’s possible. This is America, anything’s possible. We just have to get over the requirement that it be sponsored. And maybe we should have more of these discussions in living rooms and coffee shops, not just on TV.

Diane: And definitely not just on Facebook!

Paul: Yes! Let’s move this to Reddit!

Diane: And that’s a wrap!

Jan 27 2013

GET OFF MY CHEST! Vol. 3: Special Election Special

(we just need to vent a little)

(You can read the full article, incluing media, at Paul Pearson’s site HERE.)

Seattleite Paul Pearson and San Franciscan Diane Karagienakos are the consummate online friends. They have never met in person. They’ve never Skyped or even spoken on the phone. In fact, if not for their mutual connection to exactly two people, they might not have ever known of each other’s existence. But they instant-message each other with a rapport like they’ve been doing this internet thing for a hundred years.

In our third episode, Paul and Diane commiserate about the 2012 election. You will re-experience every cynical experience you have already experienced about the election. We will offer no answers for your most burning questions. We will lament as you have about the exhaustive nature of this process. We’ll come up with creative ways to complain about the disintegration of comparative political thought. We’ll get enraged about obvious obliviousness in this election, and then we’ll end our discussion abruptly. Then we’ll go cry, even if our candidates win.

By the way, lots of swearing in this piece, so — PARENTAL ADVISORY. Also, this convo took place on Halloween, hence the Halloween-y references. Enjoy.

Paul: Do we have liftoff?

Diane: Roger Roger. Clearance Clarence.

Paul: Freaking A. How’s it going Diane?

Diane: The world is orange and black here in SF. Between Halloween (mos def an adult holiday in this city) and the Giants parade. I’m avoiding the maddening crowd! How are you doing?

Paul: We have Nestle’s Crunch and $100,000 bars. Plus these little macaroni and cheese mini-cakes. Plus grandparents and television. Are you freaking excited about this election? Can you stand it anymore? Are you getting your electoral on?

Diane: MAC AND CHEESE MINI CAKES?!?!?!? I’m scared. Not scared of the cakes — the election.

Paul: Well, actually, they’re standard macaroni and cheese, but baked in a cupcake pan.

Diane: How is it in Seattle? Because here in San Francisco, it’s pretty radio silent, in terms of the campaign commercials. California is a Democratic given. And SF being so self-absorbed as a city, the only thing you hear about election-wise is all the propositions.

Paul: It’s wall to wall advertisements here. Our senator, Maria Cantwell, might as well be running uncontested. Extraordinarily popular Democratic senator. Good person.

Diane: And how come EVERY election gets the label “This is THE most important presidential election of our lifetime”?

Paul: Yeah. You know, pretty much every new presidential election will be the most important election of our lifetime. Isn’t it? I mean, what use do I have for the 2004 election? It’s no good to me.

Diane: I’m just flabbergasted that people are upset that Obama didn’t “fix it” in 4 years or think that Mitt might “fix it” in the next four.

Paul: Well, that’s a matter of the tone this country seems suited to these days.

Diane: I mean, fix the economy? Are people not aware that it is impacted by the shitty economy in Europe right now? Just to name one factor.

Paul: Nobody cares. Absolutely nobody cares to look deeply into this. They’re too busy searching for Kenyan birth certificates.

Diane: And where are all those tea baggers who insisted that the leader be a Christian? Shouldn’t they be protesting Romney right now, being that he’s Mormon and all.

Paul: I mean, leave this whole race behind for a second. Forget about Obama. Forget about Romney. How… did… this… media… get… so…. stupid? I think we’re a lazy-minded electorate now. And this shit, meaning this election, lasts for eighteen months.

Diane: You know Paul, I’m gonna go for it, and I’m not even drinking here. All this goddamn talk about creating jobs — what kind of jobs are they talking about, the small business owner? They’re talking about someone making just over minimum wage in a retail or low-skill job. They shipped all the middle class jobs over to Bangladesh or China or Korea or wherever else they can pay a pittance to have the work done or the product built.
And as for Mitt being a great business man and that means he can fix the economy. Hey, guess what: Lots of great businessmen turn a great profit for their companies by outsourcing or cutting jobs. It doesn’t mean he has the bigger picture in mind.

Paul: I don’t believe anyone. That is my great anger. And it disappoints me, but on the other hand, what the hell else am I supposed to feel?

Diane: Do you think there is a place in our society today for a Walter Cronkite or an FDR? Someone people trusted enough to just say, “Whatever you say, I trust your guidance.”

Paul: I don’t believe anyone is going to make a real effort to increase job creation in the United States. Certainly not Romney. He’s already shown what he does, and it’s shipping jobs overseas and closing companies. There’s your record. But I don’t know that I’d have faith that Obama would do anything differently, wholesale that is.  Re: Cronkite/FDR – Interesting question. Cronkite-wise — My wife and I are huge Brian Williams fans. I think he’s the closest we have to a true, universally trusted media source. Plus he can sneak in the snark when he sees fit. I don’t think there’s a place for the Cronkites of the world. Back in his heyday, the national news was just on once a day. You missed it, and that was it – you’d have to wait for the newspapers or the next day’s broadcast. So Cronkite cornered the market. You can’t corner the market nowadays – it’s on 24 hours a day. And I guess, instead of rationalism and investigative intelligence, they decided to go with the crazies.

Diane: It’s all about $$$ now. Ratings, advertisers. Showbiz.

Paul: Yeah, it’s about the money, but it’s also about that portion of the electorate who’s latching on to these crass new belief systems. It’s a perversion of Howard Beale. Who was fictional to begin with.

Diane: Beale — Network, right?

Paul: Yes, Beale is from Network.

Diane: Right now we need someone who can build working relationships with the changing face of leadership in the Middle East. Things are a lot different now than when we had our puppets in power. And I don’t just mean the leaders over there; even the leaders there are still trying to get control over the Taliban and Al-Qaida. These are realities unlikely to change anytime soon if ever. And I fear it would be very easy for the wrong leader to make them hat us and what we stand for more than they do already. A little gasoline goes a long way on a fire. I think Obama/Hilary had done as well as anybody could in this climate.

Paul: I have no qualms with Obama’s foreign policies. I think he’s done well. And I love Hillary right now. She looks so pissed off and exhausted. Seriously, that’s what I want in my politician. I want someone who’s been up all night dealing with shrieking banshees and bad caffeine products, and looks like she’s been working at it.

Diane: I really wanted her to be the Democratic candidate in 2008. She had the experience and the balls. Politics is an ugly game and she knows how to play it. I thought Obama was too fresh and, well, full of Hope. Which is nice. Jimmy Carter was nice. It’s not as effective and skill, experience, and balls.  Oh, and these…what are they called, big pac, the huge donors to the parties or candidates. This is a very dangerous thing.

Paul: Super PAC’s. Screw them.

Diane: They will screw us. They’re bigger and better funded. I wish I could joke about this, but it’s serious shit.  Now I am gonna make myself a Bloody Mary!

Paul: I think we should do our elections like England. Six weeks of campaigning, and that’s it. Two debates. And then it’s all over. It would pump a lot of money out of campaign funds, and potentially back to programs that might help. Oh, but then, oh God The Socialism.

Diane: Heh heh heh.

Paul: So screw it. I couldn’t care less about the personalities running for president. I’m an issues voter this year.

Diane: Way too on the money, that Paddy. What are your big issues, Paul?

Paul: Hey Diane, we’re all gonna get gay married in Washington State next week!

Diane: That’s something you can’t even do in California yet.

Paul: So, one interesting thing that’s been happening with Referendum 74, advertisement-wise, is the persecution complex of the opposition. The pro-74 campaign has raised WAY more money than the anti-74 campaign. There is no real solid argument against 74 aside from marriage-is-a-contract-and-for-procreation-purposes-blah blah blah. So what the anti’s have resorted to are a couple of commercials whose main thrust has absolutely nothing to do with the referendum. Instead, it’s about people who are standing for “traditional marriage” — and then getting sued, fired or complained about because of their “beliefs.”

Diane: So infertile or old people: no right to marry, as you ain’t making babies? I love these arguments so weak a four-year-old could tear it to shreds.

Paul: That was my argument long ago… yeah. There was this couple in Vermont who ran a bed-and-breakfast, and refused to allow a lesbian couple to get married on their premises. So the lesbians sued for discrimination, and won. Now the couple can’t have weddings on their premises, and had to pay a fine. And they’re sad. All because they were bigo– errr, I mean, they stated their opposition to gay marriage.
They are offering absolutely no reasonable counter-argument. They’re not addressing anything contained in Referendum 74. They’re just being morons. Seriously, if that’s the kind of ridiculousness you’re going to put up in favor of your position, I really don’t see why you shouldn’t be sued or fired. And it doesn’t matter, because that has nothing to do with Referendum 74.

Diane: They’d make so much more money on gay marriages. Think about it, all those adults with disposable income and far less children in the mix. Mo money to party! Capitalism, people, get with it!

Paul: Between the gay marriages and limited marijuana legalization, hell, Washington State’s gonna be rolling in dough. Freaking A.

Diane: One of my big issues is of course women’s health. My blue shield plan covered Viagra, but not birth control pills. Discuss.

Paul: Well, you know, being a white, middle-aged man, I know what’s best for you. But I’ll let you go ahead and express an opinion (checking watch): Go!

Diane: Well, if you’re gonna force every female to have her baby, you’d better damn well increase welfare, health services (like Planned Parenthood) etc., to take care of that momma and baby. ‘Cause I doubt lots of rich white folk are looking to adopt poor brown babies. I know I’m generalizing, but I’m not really kidding, either.

Paul: What do you think about the current whirlpool of rape talk amongst the GOP cognoscenti lately? My goodness, these guys earned their honorary doctorates! Honestly – were we that stupid about this kind of issue 10 years ago? 20 years ago?

Diane: Okay, I remember the “actual rape” one; what’s the latest one again?

Paul: “Legitimate rape” you mean. Yes. The latest was that senate candidate saying that a pregnancy that’s the result of a rape is still a “gift from God.”

Diane: FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK! He (I’m assuming that’s a “he”) did not say that!

Paul: Let me get the exact quote for you.

Diane: I mean, some people keep their babies from rape and yes, ultimately have a happy ending. But NO ONE else has the fucking right to make that determination for a RAPE FUCKING VICTIM. I’ve been too busy typing to make that Bloody Mary, but I must make it now. I’m pissed!

Paul: Richard Mourdock, GOP senate candidate from Indiana: “I believe that life begins at conception … The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Diane: Oh — and one of them said that there’s no such thing as the mother’s life being in danger. Find that quote. And these fucking nimrods convince people to vote for this with this kind of ignorant self-serving idiocy?

Paul: Here, this is from a local Washington candidate named John Koster:

Paul: Again, my question: How did we as a nation manage to get stupid about this issue? Or this “thing,” I guess.

Diane: They should lock him in a woman’s prison for 24 hours with the ladies.

Paul: We were really discussing things in such a puerile manner in the ’80s and ’90s? This is seriously some “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” type shit here.

Diane: I don’t even know what to say. It’s surreal. And it’s scary.

Paul: (Sigh) Yeah, it’s stupid. Well, anyway. I was hoping to come up with more one-liners.

Diane: I’m seriously speechless.

Paul: Then I just get flustered and angry. So who do you think is going to win on Tuesday?

Diane: Oh my… I kinda think Obama might, but wouldn’t be surprised if Mitt did… really don’t know.

Paul: I think Obama’s got it. I don’t see how Romney is going to overtake the urban vote.

Diane: Let me bring this up about the debates, where each side was so sure their side kicked ass (except the first one, where everyone agreed Obama never completely woke up): I’m fascinated how people see what they want to see. How will the electoral college factor into that, and why do we still have that damn thing. I mean, it pretty much means every vote is not equal, does it not?

Paul: Strictly speaking I’m an independent voter, so to me the whole debate thing looked childish.

Diane: I’m a registered Libertarian. It’s a lovely ideal. But it will never ever work, Libertarianism, because people are people and much of the time people are stupid or selfish or both.

Paul: I read the other day why they had the electoral college in the first place – it sounded like it made sense at a certain time, like 1776.
You’re a Libertarian? I had no idea. I have been flirting with joining that party for the last ten years.

Diane: Right to bear arms made sense then too. I’m not against guns, but some of the arguments and plain stupid. Gee, the word stupid comes up an awful lot when I write about Americans and politics! I joined the Libertarian party when I first got back to the US after being overseas for two and a half years. I don’t like our two-party system, so that was my little act of protest. Again, great ideals, completely unrealistic.

Paul: That’s why I think that all this increased information has made us less intelligent as a country. You can’t popularize legitimate, intelligently delivered treatises anymore. From either side of the political spectrum. William Buckley and George Will would have been roundly ignored in this current environment if they were starting out. Our status as a country of ideas has almost completely disintegrated. A lot of my Republican friends agree with that.

Diane: I’ve never actually voted Libertarian. I got back in the country just in time for the 2000 election, and there’s been no alternative really but the two damn parties we’re stuck with. Oh wait! I voted Libertarian once: In 2004 I voted for their candidate Starchild (a bisexual sex-worker here in SF) for school board member. The thought of the nightly local news featuring a story that started with ‘And in other news, Starchild spoke out on behalf of the children today…” just made me happy in an otherwise depressing election.

Paul: I haven’t voted Libertarian either, although Gary Johnson struck me as a pretty good candidate.
So we probably agree that the two-party system is corrupt and insufficient. What will it take to break their hold on the electoral process? How do we convince enough people to take a chance on a third party? Or a fourth? Will Libertarianism manage to mainstream itself, or should it even try?

Diane: I doubt Libertarianism will mainstream itself in any way. That would sort of be like saying “we needed to make it better,” and Libertarians are quite adamant that their belief system is perfect as is. Have you ever tried arguing with one of those people? I love saying that, “Those People.”
The Super PACs will play a role in either reinforcing the old way, or bring in some wonder-pol that comes with so much cashola he/she blows the others out of the race. Highly unlikely. But as long as this sort of money is involved, nothing will change, only get more special-interest focused.

Paul: Right. And the Super PACs are only interested in funneling emotion, which means they’re free to distort the record and use inaccuracy since they don’t have to make an intelligent argument resonate. Hey… I gotta run. They’re all going trick or treating. I have to accompany them. Thanks for being enraged with me.

Diane: Ciao.