Swordsman & Geek

A Midsummer Night’s Blog

2016 Election Fundamentals

The election could go either way and we’re challenged to see the pieces on the board as they actually are and not as we wish they were.  That being said, there are several indicators that Clinton has an advantage.  One way of understanding the 2016 election is that there are significant differences between the cohorts of the two parties which we can break down into three key elements:

  1. Age
  2. Race
  3. Gender
Thomas Nast Cartoon from Harper's Weekly

Cartoon by Thomas Nast from Harper’s Weekly.

Age:

One useful way of looking at election demographics is by examining generations. The generations that form today’s voting blocs are:

  • Silent Generation
    • Median age ~75
    • Shrinking cohort, very Republican, most reliable voters
  • Baby Boomers
    • Median age ~60
    • Huge cohort, small GOP advantage, reliably votes
  • Gen-X
    • Median age ~45
    • Small cohort, small Democratic advantage, reliably votes
  • Millennials
    • Median age ~20
    • Largest cohort, very liberal, votes presidential elections

Up until recently the Silent generation was the power player at the table by uniting with the Baby Boomers to carry elections for the GOP.  The Millennials are the new power player in town and when they vote, they unite with Gen-X to swing elections for the Democrats.  Millennials (like all young people before them) do not typically vote in mid-terms or primaries which is why the GOP does better in mid-terms.

Conventional wisdom says voters get more conservative as they age but the actual data doesn’t support that.  Instead, as the Silents and the Baby Boomers die, the GOP isn’t replacing them and their base atrophies.  At the same time, the liberal base is larger than it has ever been before which is why very liberal candidates like Al Gore, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders are even considerable on the national stage.

Analysis:  Based on the generation gap in voting patterns and the size of the upcoming Millennial cohort Democrats have the edge.

Race:

The GOP has a very white base (89% of the GOP are white) and that is usually at the expense of the minority vote.

The Winners of the White Vote by Year:

  • Nixon 1968 (Winner) – 68% of the white vote
  • Ford 1976 (Loser) – 52% of the white vote
  • Reagan 1980 (Winner) – 55% of the white vote
  • Reagan 1984 (Winner)- 66% of the white vote
  • Bush 1988 (Winner) – 59% of the white vote
  • Bush 1992 (Loser) – 47% of the white vote
  • Dole 1996 (Loser) – 46% of the white vote
  • Bush 2000 (Winner) – 56% of the white vote
  • Bush 2004 (Winner) – 57% of the white vote
  • McCain 2008 (Loser) – 56% of the white vote
  • Romney 2012 (Loser) – 57% of the white vote

Notice that no Democrat has won the white vote since Johnson but Democrats have won the popular vote in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2012.  As a percentage of the electorate the white vote is shrinking by about 1.5% every couple of years and the data indicates that minority voters have more voting power.

With white voting power diminishing a GOP candidate has to either grab a massive percentage of the white vote (Reagan 1984) or gather a larger percentage of the minority vote (Bush 2004).  Consider that both McCain and Romney outperformed Reagan’s 1980 numbers only to lose and that is the hill Jeb Bush needs to climb.  There is no longer a path to the presidency which depends solely on white voters.

Jeb Bush has lots of experience in South and Latin America, he speaks fluent Spanish, and he is married to a Mexican immigrant.  Combine him with Marco Rubio as the veep and he could be the GOP’s best play.  The problem is that Jeb Bush has to win an overwhelmingly white vote in the primary before he can carry his strengths into the national election which can damage him.  (Romney’s remark about self-deportation is one example of how a center-right candidate can cripple himself with minorities during the primary.)

The GOP has been terrible at courting minority voters because they cannot afford to offend their white base.  Notice how quickly state GOP legislators threw themselves onto the confederate flag issue recently.  Local politicians are taking those hits from the white base to shield the GOP presidential candidates.  The GOP needs to move the party away from race issues because that conversation is toxic for their party after the midterms.

In addition, the failure to move on immigration reform and demonizing immigrants have cost the GOP another generation of Hispanic\Latino voters.  The longer Trump talks about race in the primary and the more press he gets doing it, the harder it is for Jeb Bush to gather these voters into his camp.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton will appeal to some white voters that would not vote for Obama.  That translates to a larger share of the white vote nationally while still grabbing the lion’s share of the minority vote.  If Clinton grabs Julian Castro as her veep she can compete more effectively for minority votes and largely counters the Bush & Rubio combo.

Analysis:  Based on the voting patterns of the racial cohorts Democrats have the edge.  A better question might be, “Can Jeb Bush be the next 1984 Reagan?”  I think that’s unlikely when you look again at the way Millennials vote.

Gender:

Democrats have been taking the largest share of the female vote since the 1992 election.

The Winners of the Female Vote by Year:

  • Clinton 1992 (Winner) – 46% of the female vote
  • Clinton 1996 (Winner) – 54% of the female vote
  • Gore 2000 (Loser) – 53% of the female vote
  • Kerry 2004 (Loser) – 52% of the female vote
  • Obama 2008 (Winner) – 57% of the female vote
  • Obama 2012 (Winner) – 57% of the female vote

Republicans have not won the female vote since 1988 even with Palin as a female veep in 2008.  They are not in alignment with the majority of women in the USA on a range of issues (Same-sex marriage, abortion, equal pay, and more).  However, the overriding factor is that with Hillary on the ticket there is every reason to expect that the share of the female vote for the Democrats will reach historic levels.

Analysis:  Women are over half the American population and Democrats have grabbed over 50% of the female vote in the last 5 elections.  It is not madness to think Hillary could beat previous performance in this cohort of voters as the first female presidential candidate.

Summary

A lot can happen between now and November 2016.  However, with the economy recovering and considering the cohorts I covered above, it is Hillary Clinton’s election to lose.  Jeb Bush would need either a massive share of the white vote, an unusual share of the minority vote, or more of the female vote to cross the finish line.

The Sleeping Giant Awakens…

The ground is shaking.

  • Confederate Flags being pulled down everywhere?
  • ObamaCare upheld 6-3
  • Same-sex marriage wins 5-4

What is going on?

This could have ended differently.

Back in 2008 I made the argument that the election was primarily about the Supreme Court. Barack Obama has done some things I didn’t like but there is no reasonable counterargument that a Republican president would have done better and Obama nominated two progressive justices to the highest court. If a Republican had won, we wouldn’t have healthcare reform and we certainly would have lost the same-sex marriage decision.

Sometimes change takes time and sometimes it happens quickly. This week seems like a seismic shift as shock-waves ripple outward. If you look at the balance of power in our heavily gerrymandered system you’ll find that we’re poised for rapid shifts as the people outpace the politics.

It may not look like it but the Millennials won big today because they put Obama in the white house over the objections of the older whiter voters. The Millennials are the largest generation in history and the most liberal in their politics. The oldest of these voters are in their mid-30s and the cohort won’t reach full fighting strength until 2018 when  the youngest will be eligible to vote.

Millennials are the largest generation numbering at  95 million, compared to 78 million for the Baby Boomers.

Millennials are the largest generation numbering at 95 million, compared to 78 million for the Baby Boomers.

2016 will be an election to watch but it will be nothing compared to 2020. After the 2020 census the United States will redraw the maps of political power. Look for more major quakes when the gerrymanders start collapsing.

That shaking that you feel in the ground is the stirring of a giant awakening to take the reins of power and her name is ‘Millennial’.

Instructor’s Examination

The Sacramento Sword School is pleased to announce that Tyson Wright has passed his pre-requisite written examination which makes him eligible to take his Instructor de Armas examination covering single-handed sword in the Spanish tradition called La Verdadera Destreza.

On March 8, 2015 Mr. Wright will be publicly examined by a board of fencing masters with Dr. Mary Theresa Dill Curtis invited as an expert academic advisor to the board.  In order to achieve an endorsement from the board the candidate must perform the following requirements at a level that meets or exceeds the board’s standards for an Instructor de Armas:

  • Oral examination covering the tradition’s theory and pedagogy
  • Receive an individual lesson approved by the board
  • Teach an individual lesson approved by the board
  • Give a group lesson approved by the board
  • Teach a student impromptu fencing actions chosen by the board
  • Fence against a selection of opponents within the tradition

The candidate will be using a lesson approved by the board which is included here:

Salute

1. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, glide to chest

2. On command, from student’s atajo on the outside line, glide to chest

3. On command, from student’s atajo on inside line, thrust by detachment to chest, gaining the degrees of profile

4. On command, from instructor’s atajo on the inside line, thrust of half circle to flank

5. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, half reverse to outside cheek

6. On command, from instructor’s atajo on the inside line, circular reverse to outside cheek

7. In time, from student’s right angle, defensive atajo on the inside line against instructor’s thrust, and glide to chest

8. In time, from student’s right angle, defensive atajo on the outside line against instructor’s circular reverse, and glide to chest

9. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, General Technique of Narrowing to glide to abdomen, stepping left transverse

10. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, transverse left to middle place, glide to chest

11. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, transverse left to middle place, glide to chest, and clockwise thrust of the half circle to flank in second intention

12. In time, from student’s right angle, defensive atajo on the inside line, defense using General Technique of Narrowing, glide to abdomen.

13. From student’s atajo on the inside, three glides to chest

Salute

 

NOTE: In the context of this lesson the General Technique of Narrowing is being used broadly to describe a counterclockwise spiral from inside high to outside low in different martial applications as Pacheco demonstrates in his counters to the vulgar techniques.  This usage contrasts with the more tightly scoped sequence which always ends with a step to the right.

Puck’s Huge Batch of Low-Carb Winter Chili

(Low-Carb mostly)

Big stock pot full of chili

Big stock pot full of chili

Requires a large stock pot and takes 3-4 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts H2O
  • 4 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 lbs. ground sausage
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 8 teaspoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 4 six-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 3 cups shredded frozen spinach
  • 2 yellow squash chopped
  • 2 zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 6 small onions chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic mashed
  • 1 can of pinto beans (cheating here)

Directions:

  1. Brown the meat in a frying pan (I did this in batches), drain the oil, then add all the meat to a large stock pot.
  2. Add the other ingredients, cover with aluminum foil, and simmer for 3 hours while stirring semi-regularly.  (You don’t want to scorch the bottom of your stock pot.)
  3. I recommend serving with a big dollop of sour cream (or cream cheese) in the bowl and a healthy sprinkle of shredded cheese over the top.  It is three shades of awesome-town.
  4. Eat yourself into a coma when the chili is ready.
  5. Take what you cannot eat and freeze batches in gallon-sized zip-lock bags.  One gallon-sized zip-lock bag feeds two adults a big meal on a lazy day when you don’t want to cook.
Lots of Chili

Lots of Chili

Additional Notes:

Instead of chopping, you can just as easily shred or even blend the vegetables listed above.  The goal is to cook them down to add body and thicken the chili.  Shredding squash and other veggies like this is a great way to sneak healthy foods into your kid’s diet.

I have no idea how much chili this makes or what the final carb count is, but it is a lot of chili and not very many carbs.

An Open Letter to the SCA’s Board of Directors…

My name is R. E. “Puck” Curtis III and I have been participating in the SCA for over 20 years as a fencer.  Inside the SCA I am known as don Pachomius Oneshoe (or Puck).

Puck Oneshoe

Puck Oneshoe, Order of the White Scarf

Outside of the SCA I was the first White Scarf to certify as a classical Italian fencing master under the program founded by Maestro William Gaugler.

Fencing Master's Examination

Fencing Master’s Examination

As such, I find myself in a strange position.  My mundane self outranks my SCA persona.

I am a board certified Master at Arms entrusted with preserving an Italian martial art with a teacher-to-student lineage which dates back to the mid-1600s through the Scuola Magistrale Militare di Roma.  I have taught fencing both within and without the SCA.  In addition, I travel both inside and outside the United States to train and to teach European sword arts specializing in the historical Iberian traditions.

A pretty girl with a sword and a fencing book... Yep... I'm lucky!

Dr. Mary Curtis

My wife and partner in these efforts is Dr. Mary Curtis.  She is a Fulbright scholar and holds a PhD in Golden Age Spanish literature with a focus on the historical sword arts of the period.  Dr. Curtis is also a White Scarf of the Kingdom of the West and she lived in Spain for a year combing through archives to research historical fencing.

Mary is her Spanish dress

Gabriela de Avila, Order of the White Scarf

It is with some reluctance that I admit I may be an SCA fencer of some note, but I also assert that were it not for the SCA I never would have achieved these things.  In that sense, my accomplishments are a reflection of the Society itself and what is possible when a young man or woman is given a good start in the world.

Perhaps it seems obvious what events have led us to this crisis of leadership in the Society.  You will be receiving a slew of angry letters.  I am not interested in assigning blame but instead in finding solutions.  I shall suggest a different cause for our troubles and in so doing perhaps bring some hope and light into the conversation.

The problem is fidelity.

It is fellowship.

It is our love for those who excel and do wondrous things.

 There is a lack of equity in the awards structure but the love that people hold for each other remains the same.  When a king or a queen sees a subject shine like a beacon their need to serve the subject stumbles because their hands are tied.  This has put the SCA under increasing social pressure as it tries to balance an outstanding (but diminishing) prejudice against fencing with a desire to recognize people of value in a fair way.  That pressure has erupted in different ways.

Consider two different solutions to the building social pressure:

  •  Ansteorra’s White Scarves are peers in all but name.  Their order mirrors the Cult of Elizabeth and it is deeply embedded in the kingdom’s psyche.  The relationship between their White Scarves and the queen is a cherished part of the national identity.
  •  Other kingdoms like An Tir have resolved the problem by making rapier Laurels.  These Laurels have to meet a Laurel’s requirements for period fencing research and practice to join their order.

The board’s recently proposed solution was to steer the fencers into the Chivalry based primarily on fighting prowess.  By stumbling out of the gate with a surprise decision the board has created a conflict between the Chivalry and the rapier community.  That conflict has fanned old fiery tensions which had largely cooled into bonds of fellowship.  Now, tempers are rising on both sides.

And what of our knights?

The Chivalry represents a pool of potential governance sworn into fealty.  From the Chivalry typically arise the kings and queens of the Society.  The responsibilities of rulership are not insignificant and are completely beyond the scope of the fencing community.  I can see value in protecting a private space which allows the Chivalry to hash out difficult subjects and provide a unified presence.  (I say this as an outsider having never participated in a chivalric circle.)

As a fencer, I should also confess that I never dreamed of the title of “Sir.”  Nor did I imagine that someday I might take squires.  These are not fencers’ dreams.  A fencer’s dream is to be a Maestro d’Armi (Master at Arms).  When the SCA could not help me realize this goal, I went out into the mundane world and did the work required to make that dream a reality.

Therein lies your solution.  My understanding is that the order of the Master at Arms was created to solve a similar problem.  The SCA had created some bright shining stars of martial prowess and grace on the rattan field.  There was a social pressure to recognize these peers for what they were but, for religious reasons, these fighters could not swear oaths of fealty.  These individuals had qualities so great that a solution was proposed and the Masters at Arms were created.

This peerage can again resolve the social pressure to recognize gifted people if we but accept that a Master at Arms can be skilled with a variety of weapons.  Their order is a natural fit for martial arts beyond the scope of romantic chivalry.  That might be rattan, fencing, mounted combat, archery, or thrown weapons.  All of these things are obviously martial arts worthy of recognition and the Masters at Arms will be the least impacted peerage in the Society.

I urge you to preserve the Chivalry’s space in which they govern.  Knights must swear their oaths and the burden they carry is unique.  Respect that.  Instead, open the peerage of the Masters at Arms to those who wield diverse arms and the problem is solved in a lasting and meaningful way.  By creating a firewall between the Master at Arms and the Chivalry the unsworn peerage is allowed greater function without sacrificing historical correctness.  If the Chivalry wish to retain the currently existing Masters at Arms in their circle they have only to extend an invitation.  (Inviting others into their space for counsel is their privilege.)

What of the White Scarves then?

Estrella 2008

Estrella 2008 – Cut and Thrust

The original White Scarf iconography was inspired by a white sash worn as a baldric indicating military command.  (Cyrano de Bergerac contains a notable example when he recovers De Guiche’s sash of command from the battlefield at great personal risk.)  Since wearing a white scarf as a baldric conflicted with the white baldric worn by the Masters at Arms, White Scarves instead wore a scarf as a lady’s favor, and this emblem of rank has become the queen’s favor.

Imagine reuniting the White Scarf with its origin as the baldric of command in a peerage ceremony. I ask you to cast your eye forward to see this moment realized.

A member of the Order of the White Scarf is brought before the king and queen.  At her arm is tied the white scarf indicating the queen’s favor but on this evening she wears two scarves; one long and one short.

 “Will you become our master and teach your art to the people of this kingdom?”

 “I will,” she replies.

 In the torchlight the longer scarf is then tied crosswise across her body to form a master’s baldric and a Maestra d’Armi is created.

 To open a school of fencing.  To be a master.  To serve the kingdom.  These are the dreams of a fencer and now more than any time in our Society’s history this dream is possible.

I say this to you as a classical fencing master myself.  I say it to you as a White Scarf of the Society.  I say this to you as a person who understands the love and fidelity of our Society.  Allow the Master at Arms to again be the solution which binds us closer together in love, fellowship, and fidelity.

In brief summary,

  1. We arrived at this place because of our fidelity.
  2. Create a firewall between the Order of the Chivalry and the Masters at Arms.
  3. Open the order of the Master at Arms to diverse arts.
  4. Assert that the Chivalry can invite a Master at Arms into council as they see fit.

With respect and gratitude for your service,

R. E. “Puck” Curtis III

Master at Arms, San Jose Fencing Master’s Program

Known in the Society as
Don Pachomius Oneshoe

Member of the Order of the White Scarf of Ansteorra