Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Loosely based on actual events. Very, very loosely.

It was a cool day, not unseasonably so, but cool nonetheless. The evening promised to be chilly. The suit he's wearing is looking good, no – it's looking great – and he is feeling great. On the way out the door he glances over his shoulder. It was there, staring back at him. Intense. Solid. Red. “No... this is right” he thought turning back to the door and closing it behind him as he strode through, confidently. He slides his key in, locking the door as usual.

Walking to the car he feels different. He can't put his finger on it, but it's a feeling like something just isn't quite right. He pushes the key fob button, the car locks click open, the car lights flash on, then off. He can see his neighbor finishing up some yard work, but the neighbor doesn't wave. Finally, he reaches the car, leaning forward and grabbing the door's handle. The door swing out in front of him as he slides into the car, just like always. Then he hears it, the ripping sound, so unmistakable and terrifying, and he feels the car seats under his thighs. Cool leather. “Not good” he utters. No one hears it.

He realizes the sharply appointed suit he's chosen for the evening is ruined. The pants have split, and he is running out of time.

Frantic, the man rips himself out of the car lunging toward the door he had so easily closed before, now struggling with his key. Finally he finds the right angle and the lock slides open. He leaves the keys in the door, no time to retrieve them. He rushes into his room hoping for substitute pants and catches a look in the mirror. Olive. The suite is olive. He doesn't own pants for this, other than the ones he is wearing with the newly created hole.

Panicking, he searches for something, anything. Then he remembers it. The sweater. It's hanging there on the door, practically calling to him. He grabs some slacks knowing everything he owns will match with the sheer wonder of the sweater. He discards the newly destroyed pants he's wearing, sheds the jacket, and before he realizes it the sweater is in his hands. He slips it on slowly, hoping to avoid the static electricity that usually makes his hair stand on end. He can't get is head through, “NOOO” he cries inside until he realizes: It's the zipper. Quickly he reaches up, grabs the zipper with his left hand and pulls down with his right until, almost magically, the quarter-zip is down and the sweater floats down around his neck. It fits perfectly.

He turns to leave, stepping on the ripped pants. He doesn't notice them now. They are of no use to notice.

Back through the door, “Keys!” he cries out and grabs them from the lock, turning and jogging to the car, mashing the unlock button on the fob. The car's lights flash like the Fourth of July. The car's door swings open, almost like another person has come to assist. He glides into the driver's seat, turns the ignition, puts on his seatbelt, checks his mirrors, looks over his shoulder, waves goodbye to his neighbor (who is not waving!) and carefully backs out of his driveway.

He arrives on time and joins the crowd, everyone dressed to impress. He follows the instructions they give him, follows the young woman helping with the group and finds his seat. Almost two hours later he stands again, beaming with the confidence of his beautiful red sweater, and does what he was born to do. Patiently he waits. Finally, the microphone is in his hand. Calmly, armed with the confidence of the sweater, he says: “What steps will your energy policy take to meet our needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job layoffs?”

No one answers, but the crowd at home goes wild.

-Adam Sommer

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Quick response to the 1st of 3 Presidential debates for 2016. 

September 26, 2016 is now a red letter date for U.S. Presidential politics. That is a fact. The first female major party nominee took the stage in a one-on-one debate with the other major party nominee. Put aside the issue of whether or not the two other candidates from the Libertarian and Green party should have been up there, put aside how you think Lester Holt did as the moderator or who won. Start by realizing that single point. Women have had the vote for a shorter time than we have had cars. This is an important day.

Historical context aside, someone won and someone lost that debate. That is the nature of a two person debate. Rarely can we call a debate a tie, and it would take some serious mental gymnastics to call the first 2016 Presidential debate a tie.

I Do Declare.

Hillary Clinton was an objective winner in the first debate. She was Presidential, quick hitting, and did exactly what JEB! couldn't do by not allowing Trump to play his bully game. Trump, by contrast, was impatient, easily upset, and had stretches of time in which his answers either didn't' make cogent logical sense or were actually damaging to himself more than to his opponent. It's never a good look when your twitter feed is being edited while you're at the debate because you just contradicted yourself. (Literally.)

Even though this was a Clinton victory it was by no means a knockout. Trump did what he needed to do, which was stand on the debate stage and at least appear competent for a period of time. The first 15-20 minutes was enough for Trump to have done that, even if the last 30 minutes was an absolute unraveling for him, which it was.

If you like Trump you are probably pretty happy with the first debate, he was very... Trumpian. If you like Clinton you are either still curled up in a ball from looking at too many polls showing a tie or Trump leading (That's enough Nate Silver, really.), or you're very happy with the first debate. The base of both parties (roughly 80% of the entire vote) likely was not swayed in any way last night. For those people at the bases the first debate was an affirmation of their decision and chance to yell at the television and call the other candidate a lying liar. For the other 20%, it's a bit different.

The Swingers.

It's that 20% in the middle that matters so much and that same 20% is often the group that is doing their best to put aside the subjective feelings for one party or the other and trying to pick the best qualified candidate. Those voters really care about the way the candidates behaved last night and the substance of what was said.

Trump's constant interrupting was fine on the 10 person GOP debate stage when he wasn't on camera 100% of the time. It was a negative last night. Trump's look of annoyance was part of his charm when he was playing to the anti-establishment primary crowd. It was a negative last night. Trump's skin deep policy analysis was acceptable when he only needed to fill about 10-15 minutes of air time in the primary debates. Last night required 35-50 minutes from each, more than double his primary performances and then some. That was a negative for him. Trump is all “What” and no “Why” in his answers and policies. His stances are bold, sure, but his plans are...well we can talk about those when we actually see them.

On the other side, Clinton allowed herself to be baited a couple of times, early on, which was negative for her. She also seemed overly petty going after the fact-checking lines (the internet was going to do that anyway) and that was a negative for her. She was at her best when she ignored Trump and just kept talking, which historically is the best way to strip a bully of their power. Clinton's natural existence is a bit stilted, but that also allows her to remain serious. Clinton's one of the single most awkward candidates I've ever witnessed make a snarky attack, the rehearsal tone is always obvious. She often sounds like a high school play actor, delivering a line. Clinton is not the first politician with this problem, Romney, Kerry, Gore, and even at times Obama suffered from the same malady of the mouth.

Separating the Cream.

The real difference came on the birther, tax, and temperament issue. Trump has practiced lines about the birther issue that do well with a certain segment of the population but those lines fall flat with the middle 20% he needs to win.

On temperament there is not a single poll to support Trump's claim that he has the better temperament, and in fact all the data in that area suggests the exact opposite. For a guy that loves polling so much perhaps he should take a look at all of them instead of the internet polls on Drudge.

On taxes, the “emails for taxes” trade has grown stale. It's not an equal issue any way. Clinton's taxes are out, Trump's are not. Period. The little we know? Trump doesn't pay taxes which he calls being smart. Don't get me wrong, I don't WANT to pay taxes, but I do want to have our military and infrastructure in tact. So, I pay them.

The Score.

If I was scoring this debate for each candidate on a 1-10 scale (10 being high 1 being low) I would give Trump a 5 and Clinton a 7.5. A clear win for Clinton, but by no means a knockout blow. Trump got 3 points for showing up, 1 point for breathing (heavily) and staying alive, and 1 point for not saying anything blatantly racist.

The question now is if Clinton can keep up her preparation for the second debate. A win in debates one and two could be enough to put Trump on such a defensive stance that the third debate becomes his undoing. Otherwise we will continue to see polling with Trump having a shot to win.

Assuming Trump shows up to another debate. Though I'm not sure he can stand to lose to a girl, again.

-A. Sommer