Thoughts on the Election

Elections — the day after

Today is November 9th, 2016 — one day after local and national elections here in the United States, and I would like to offer a few observations.

The Earth continued to rotate and the sun rose on our beautiful home world. The apocalypse did not happen.

Donald Trump is the President-Elect and will be sworn in as the POTUS on January 20th, 2017.

We may be in for interesting times, but life will continue.

Newspaper, radio, television and other commentators and pundits will play “Monday morning quarterback” ad nauseam for the foreseeable future — and it will change nothing.

There will be recriminations, gloating and regrets — and they will also change nothing.Election Cats

Perhaps people will again become polite to each other despite their differing political beliefs or prejudices or fantasies. (My belief — your prejudicial and idiotic fantasies, of course, but I won’t hold them against you.)

Once again the candidate who got the most popular votes lost the election to the candidate who got the most electoral votes. Yet, I have heard no outcries to change the system so that our votes are actually equal and not distorted by giving each state, no matter its population, two additional electoral votes — one for each senator. Or, perhaps, doing away with the Electoral College via an amendment to the Constitution and going with a straight popular vote.

California keeps raising taxes — two dollars per pack of cigarettes and new taxes on marijuana that will combine to bring in more than two billion additional dollars yearly.

We now have another legal intoxicant in California and no legal definition on the blood levels necessary to charge a person with a crime when their smoking results in a motor vehicle accident and possible injuries or death to someone else.

California adult film performers do not have to use condoms while filming — now how did that get to be a state-wide proposition?

Proposition 61 failed to pass, thus allowing drug companies to keep raising prices for drugs. (Although if it had passed, there would still have been nothing to keep them from raising their prices. An expensive tempest in a teapot.)

California elected a female Democrat to the U.S. Senate to replace another female Democrat. Of course, if she had lost, California would still have elected a female Democrat to that position thanks to our top-two primary system.

It is going to be interesting to see how this Republican President and this Republican-dominated Congress/Senate will “work” together. Remember, we have a system of checks and balances in this country. And, no, these are not supposed to be checks with dollar signs in front of them.

If you voted, for either candidate, you have a right to complain about what happens now. If you didn’t vote, you still have a legal right to complain, but I don’t think you have a moral one. So, please, be quiet — grin and bear it until the next election. Then register and vote. If you’re not a citizen, become one if you wish to participate in our political process.

If you weren’t satisfied with either candidate and didn’t take part in the political process to select the candidates, next time participate. Get involved at the local level in the political party of your choice. Clinton and Trump were the results of too many of us leaving the selection to others for too many years. If you’re an independent and not a Republican or a Democrat, you have no say in who gets nominated — that say belongs to those who are actually registered as members of that political party. Think carefully about your choice when you register, and think carefully about whether or not you wish to get involved in the party or are content to merely vote on the choices of others.

A final thought

Election Day often falls during the same week as Veterans Day.

How about we make Veterans Day a true national holiday and combine it with Election Day. Think about it, a national holiday on which we can all vote. I think it would be a great way to honor those who have served and sacrificed to provide us with the right to vote and have preserved it for over two hundred years. (Oh, yeah and let’s keep it on a Tuesday so we don’t just make it another three-day-weekend and ignore its true purpose.)

Election 2016 — Reading Level

Election 2016

California Voter Guide Reading Level Analysis

In my previous post I stated that I was thinking of doing an analysis of the reading level of the California Voter Information Guide. Well, I’ve carried through on my threat.

election voter information guide for californiaI am not a reading teacher nor a statistician, but I have used the Grammar Analysis tools available in various editions of MS Word to analyze the textbooks I have used as well as many of my assignments, tests and notes to both students and parents.

This involves either the typing or a Copy/Paste of the text to be analyzed into a MS Word document and then running the Spelling and Grammar check on the selected text.

MS Word gives you two measures of reading levels: (and, no, they do not move in lock-step with each other)

  • The first, Flesch Reading Ease, gives a number which indicates how easy or difficult the text is to read. A high number indicates the text is easy to read and a low number indicates that the text is difficult to read.
  • The second, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, gives a number which indicates the grade level difficulty of the text.

As an example, the text above has a Flesch Reading Ease number of 57.3 and a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 11.1 with my edition of MS Word. (Word for Mac 2011)

In doing my analysis I used the on-line edition of the 2016 California Voter Information Guide which is available at: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/

The MS Word document I created to do the analysis came to some thirty-two pages in length and I am not going to post it to this blog.


Analysis — The California Secretary of State’s Letter to California Voters

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        47.6
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         9.9

Analysis — Quick Reference Guide to Proposition 51 (School Bonds)

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        36.2
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         10.9

Analysis — Quick Reference Guide Proposition 64 (Marijuana Legalization)

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        32.6
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         11.6

Analysis — Analysis of the Legislative Analyst of Proposition 51

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        36.2
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         12.0

Analysis — Analysis of the Legislative Analyst of Proposition 64

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        30.7
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         12.0

Analysis — Argument in Favor of Proposition 51

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        41.6
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         10.6

Analysis — Argument Against Proposition 51

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        48.3
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         9.7

Analysis — Rebuttal to the Argument in Favor of Proposition 51

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        58.2
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         7.4

Analysis — Rebuttal to the Argument Against Proposition 51

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        52.1
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         8.3

Analysis — Argument in Favor of Proposition 64

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        30.8
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         12.0

Analysis — Argument Against Proposition 64

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        38.5
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         12.0

Analysis — Rebuttal to the Argument in Favor of Proposition 64

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        33.5
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         12.0

Analysis — Rebuttal to the Argument Against Proposition 64

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        39.2
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         11.4

Analysis — Text of the first three paragraphs of Section 2 of the proposed law (Prop 64)

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        19.5
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         12.0

Analysis — Kamala D. Harris Candidate Statement (Senator)

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        45.8
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         11.5

Analysis — Loretta L. Sanchez Candidate Statement (Senator)

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        41.2
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         12.0

Analysis — California Voter Bill of Rights

  • Flesch Reading Ease:                        62.9
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:         8.6

Conclusion

As I stated earlier I am not a credentialed reading teacher nor am I statistician. I am an American citizen and voter with an interest in our current election and our nation’s future.

election bannerThe above “analysis” is not scientific; it is personal. I have taken what I believe to be representative sections of the Voter Information Guide and subjected them to an easy to use and verify reading level analysis. Other tools and sections may (and probably will) give different results.

If you are interested in the California Voter Information Guide, it is available at: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/

If you are interested in analyzing reading levels, there are numerous articles available on-line via any search engine.

If you wish to analyze any of the California Voter Information Guide for yourself, MS Word’s Grammar Check is easy to use. I do not know the status of reading level checks available on other currently available word processors.

If you are concerned about the “average” American being able to read the California Voter Information Guide you might start here: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/93275.pdf   —   It’s a 2003 document and I don’t know if there is a more recent study available.

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You might just enter: “average reading level of the American voter” or something like it into your search engine.

And, please, remember that your vote counts just the same as that of Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton (and just the same as that person you think is an idiot who lives down the street) so: VOTE!election - register to vote

Best Wishes for an “interesting” election season. Ho, ho, ho . . .

Election 2016

A few thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Election

Yesterday, my copy of Orange County’s Sample Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet arrived containing quite a bit of information.

The beginning was devoted to how, when and where I can vote. I’ve been voting Absentee / Vote-by-Mail for the last few elections. I can fill out my ballot at home in peace and quiet, without any lines, and drop my ballot at my neighborhood fire station, which is just a couple of minutes of walking down the street. I used to drop it off at the polling place in the auditorium of the school at which I was teaching.Election Cats

One page showed the endorsements of the Democratic, Republican, and American Independent parties on the Senatorial, Congressional and State Legislature races.

Another explained items concerning the Presidential (party-nominated offices), California Top-Two Primary and County or Local Offices (nonpartisan).

Then came a page listing party name abbreviations (e.g.: DEM – Democratic) and also listing candidates for the State Senate and State Assembly districts in Orange County.

The next page listed the Voting Service Centers (6) where you could drop of your Vote-by-Mail ballot, get a replacement ballot or receive other voter assistance.

Next, several pages of candidate statements for those running for Congress and state and local offices.

Section 7 contained six pages on Measure O — a bond issue ($63,000,000) for repairs and upgrades for the Fountain Valley School District.

Election CatsThe Sample Ballot / Practice Ballot followed; three pages in length and fourth blank page — “This page left intentionally blank”

Page 34 contained a plea to volunteer on Election Day; page 35 had a copy of the Voter Bill of Rights and then a final page asking if my information was correct.

The back cover had my mailing address, my polling place, a postage paid postcard so I could volunteer and in the lower right hand corner a paragraph on how to sign up for a “paperless” Sample Ballot.

Oh, yeah, I should get my Vote-by-Mail Ballot sometime next week — they begin to get mailed out on the 11th (Tuesday).

Now I’m waiting for my copy of the California State Voter Guide — maybe I can then figure out how to vote on the seventeen (17) state propositions without having to depend on the always too rosy / too gloomy / too deceptive / too self-interestry television commercials and newspaper endorsements.


While reading following the baseball and football games last night (and having the late-evening news on in the background) Smoke and Mist kept me company — thus, the gratuitous cat pictures in today’s post.

Perception = Reality (?)

Perception can be defined as the way we experience the world. Our actions are based on that perception. We like to believe that the world we experience is the real world — reality. Therefore: perception is reality.

A problem, maybe the problem, is that each of us experiences the world a bit differently. Therefore: different experiences equal different realities.

Perception
Does perception equal reality, or do we only think it does?

I react to the world I see, and you react to the world you see. Our perceptions and, therefore, our realities are different. Because our realities are different, our actions and reactions are different.

Oftentimes our perceptions, realities and, therefore, our actions closely align. We are driving and see a red light at the next intersection; we slow our automobiles and stop. Of course, if we are not paying attention and do not see the red light, it does not exist in our reality, and we do not stop which may result in an “accident” and injuries or death for ourselves and others.

Our current Presidential election campaign can be seen as a case in point.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represent different perceived political, economic and social realities. Neither candidate appears, to me at least, to inspire much trust or hope for the future. Indeed, the theme of the election seems, again to me at least, to be dislike and the fear that the other candidate, if elected, will bring about the apocalypse.

Both candidates are white, Caucasian. Both candidates are wealthy. Both candidates are college educated. Both candidates are married and have children. Yet, their world-views and supporters are quite different.

Both seek the votes of, but only one of them draws significant support, from non-Caucasians and Latino minorities. (At least, according to the polls published by our print and electronic media.)

Both seek the support of the poor, as well as the wealthy.

As neither smarts nor knowledge and education are requirements for voting, both candidates seek the votes of those with high school and college educations as well the votes of those who have not completed elementary school. The same is true of employment status, marital status, whether or not one has children (and of what age), religious beliefs, etc.

The total number of Americans eligible to vote in the November 2016 Presidential Election exceeds 225 million. Many will not be registered to vote and many of those registered to vote will not do so. Yet, some 100+ million of us will vote and those votes will reflect 100+ million realities.

The world I live in as a college educated and retired teacher is a different world, or reality, than that lived in by an unemployed, non-high school graduate living in a trailer park in the rural South; or a Black, single mother with three kids under ten and working two jobs in the formerly industrial North; or a billionaire investment banker with his, or her, own jet; or a nearly ad infinitum of other possible realities.

Yet, on November 8th, 2016 we will all vote, or not, to elect one of these two candidates (or a third-party candidate) who, we hope, will try to knit these hundred million different realities into a viable vision of our future and that of our children.

Your vote counts the same as mine. Your vote counts the same as that of every member of the group of people you fear, or admire, the most.

Your vote counts the same as that of Hillary Clinton or that of Donald Trump.

Isn’t reality scary?

Or is that just my perception of it?

Friday Commentary

Well, it’s Friday again and I’ve been bereft in blogging and commentary the last couple of weeks. The only page I’ve done any updating of has been my Spam/Scam Phone page — unfortunately, it’s had much too much business lately. A pox on these telemarketers, scammers and thieves and their “partners” in criminology — the telecom companies and politicians beholden to their monies.

Commentary on Taxes

On a more positive note Tax Day has come and gone. Owing to a couple of late financial documents and a bit of a mix-up at my tax preparer’s office, my tax returns did not get filed until the last day — April 18th. But my refunds have already been deposited into my credit union checking account.

The main reason we got refunds this year were medical expen$e$ — eye care, doctor$, pre$cription$ and dental cost$. I’d rather not have had the costs (and deductions). And I am very glad we’re still covered by my wife’s health insurance from her former employer — we still have to pay for it, but it’s a lot cheaper than getting it on our own or doing without.

The good part about this is that I used the refunds and just paid off the last of the dental costs I’d charged on my credit union charge card — with a couple of dollars left over for other things, such as, the co-pay on her next prescription which I will pick up on my afternoon walk today.

Commentary on Elections/Voting

The California Presidential Primary Election Official Voter Information Guide (California) arrived in this week’s mail. (This is a throne-reading document.)

“If you are registered with a political party: You can vote for a candidate running for President in that party.

“If you are registered with no party preference, you can vote in the Presidential primary for the following parties: Democratic, American Independent, Libertarian.

“If you registered with no party preference and want to vote in the Presidential primary for one of the following political parties: Republican, Green, Peace & Freedom, you must re-register to vote with that party by May 23, 2016.”

So, if you registered as an “independent,” that is, you are not registered with any political party, or you registered as a member of the American Independent Party by mistake and want to vote in the Republican primary, you have less than a month to correct your error. (If you registered in the American Independent Party and want to vote in the Democratic primary, you also have to re-register.)

On a related note there is Prop 50: Suspension of Legislators. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. Summary: Authorizes Legislature to suspend Members, including without salary and benefits. Prohibits suspended Members from using powers of office or legislative resources. Provides suspension may end on specified date or by vote of Member’s house. Fiscal Impact: No effect on state spending in most years. Minor savings in some years. (Read between the words, why not?)

I found it amusing that the two legislators who wrote the “Argument Against Proposition 50” began with the following:

“Proposition 50 is a scam brought to you by those that would turn a blind eye to a culture of corruption in our State Capitol! Voters should oppose this measure because: It perpetuates a culture of corruption in the state capitol . . .”

These two men are elected legislators and members of this “culture of corruption” . . . ?

Hmmm . . . oh, well, maybe I misunderstand and although they are legislators, they are not members of this culture of corruption. Of course, if this is true, why have they not been yelling and screaming about it . . . maybe they have, and I just haven’t heard them.

Also, in the Voter Guide there is a list of the candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat: a list of 35 candidates. That’s right: 35. I thought that I paid fairly close attention to politics in California, but I have learned to the contrary. I only recognized four (4) names on the list.

One of the candidates is named President. A woman named President is running for the U.S. Senate seat from California.

Each county in California designs its own ballot. How many of these names are going to fit in the same column? How many counties are going to have ballots running more than one page in length for this single office? How many people are going to try to vote for a candidate in each column, or on each page, and thereby cause their ballot to be tossed into the shred-and-recycle bin?


Commentary Links

Well, I just finished my last cup of coffee, and it’s time to quit-and-post. However, for those of you interested, here are some web-links for further information:

An online copy of the Voter Guide: www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov

Campaign finance information: powersearch.sos.ca.gov OR cal-access.sos.ca.gov

Register to vote online at: www.RegisterToVote.ca.gov

Additional links for the Voter Guide in other languages, registration and voting, candidates and Prop 50 are listed throughout the Voter Guide.