blueollie

We are going to get creamed in 2014, and we deserve it.

Terrible news for Democrats:

Americans are angry at Congress — more so than basically ever before. So it’s time to throw the bums out, right?

Well, not really. In fact, Americans appear prepared to deal with their historic unhappiness using perhaps the least-productive response: Staying home.

A new study shows that Americans are on-track to set a new low for turnout in a midterm election, and a record number of states could set their own new records for lowest percentage of eligible citizens casting ballots.

And:

Turnout2

David Horsey has a point:

david-horsey-cartoon-2014-elections-squishy-Democrats

We are going to get creamed because we suck.

July 22, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

Walking and the politics of young people

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 12.11.37 PM

I took the car to north Peoria to get serviced; since I was close to the northern part of the Rock Island trail I decided to take advantage.

I walked south to the intersection of Knoxville and Giles (4.05 miles), back to the trail head; at mile 0 I clicked a split and walked to mile 1 on the trail and then back to 0, and then doubled back to the trailhead. The total: slightly over 10 miles (16 km) in 2:25:56.

Since I hadn’t specifically planned the walk, I walked in my cargo pants and t-shirt; sort of the “old foagie” look. I was somewhat sore this morning from yesterday’s intervals plus “hard hike on the trails” so I cruised at a steady 14:20-14:30 pace. I saw a couple of deer in the distance as I passed by farmlands.

Good news: when the walk ended, it was more of “aw, do I have to quit now?” rather than “thank goodness I am done”; that is a very good sign.

Politics
The title of this article is interesting:

Millennials’ Political Views Don’t Make Any Sense
That’s not a harsh assessment. It’s just a fair description.

I’d add: with one exception, they are like people of my generation. The exception:

3. Far less important, but entertaining nonetheless: Millennials don’t know what socialism is, but they think it sounds nice.

I think that “socialism” has a negative connotation with people of my generation because we grew up with the Cold War; that is something millennials only read about in books.

But here is why it makes no sense:

On spending:
Conservatives can say: 65 percent of Millennials would like to cut spending.
Liberals can say: 62 percent would like to spend more on infrastructure and jobs.
On taxes:
Conservatives can say: 58 percent of Millennials want to cut taxes overall.
Liberals can say: 66 percent want to raise taxes on the wealthy.
On government’s role in our lives:
Conservatives can say: 66 percent of Millennials say that “when something is funded by the government, it is usually inefficient and wasteful.”
Liberals can say: More than two-thirds think the government should guarantee food, shelter, and a living wage.
On government size:
Conservatives can say: 57 percent want smaller government with fewer services (if you mention the magic word “taxes”).
Liberals can say: 54 percent want larger government with more services (if you don’t mention “taxes”).
Some of these positions suggest, rather than prove, utter incoherence. For example, you can technically support (a) reducing the overall tax burden and (b) raising taxes on the wealthy by raising the investment tax and absolving the bottom 50 percent of Social Security taxes. Somehow, I think what’s happening is simpler than young people doing the long math of effective tax rates. I think they’re just confused.

In short: they are like the rest of us; they want services (whether they admit it or not) but don’t want to pay for such services. :-)

But here is why this matters to politics: on one hand, they lean Democrat; the social conservatism of the Republicans really turns them off.

On the other hand: they have a libertarian streak when it comes to economics:

Although a majority of younger voters today are reliably Democratic, there are key issues on which they differ notably from their elders within the center-left coalition. The July Pew survey identifies two predominantly white core Democratic constituencies: the “solid liberals” of the traditional left, which is 69 percent white, with an average age of 46, who exhibit deep progressive commitments on both economic and social issues; and younger voters, 68 percent white, with an average age of 38, which Pew calls the “next generation left.”

The two groups were asked to choose whether “most people can get ahead if they’re willing to work hard” or whether “hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people.” A decisive majority of the older “solid liberal” group, 67 percent, responded that hard work is no guarantee of success, while an even larger majority, 77 percent, of the younger “next generation left” believes that you can get ahead if you are willing to work hard.

Part of me just chuckles; this goes hand in hand with studies that state Millennials vastly overestimate what they are going to accomplish in life. (see: the book Generation Me by Jean Twenge). Some things you have to learn the hard way, just as I did.

But the upshot is that economic populism, while popular with old hippies (e. g. my crowd) won’t be such a selling point with younger voters.
In other words, Paul Krugman and Robert Reich doesn’t really “speak to them” the way that they speak to me.

So there is your Warren/Sanders ticket right there.

Note on Elizabeth Warren: yes, she is very smart and she has some excellent ideas. But she simply isn’t a politician; I have deep skepticism of her chances on a national level even though the old hippies love her.

I present the following:

Massachusetts Senate race 2012:

Warren: 53.7 Brown: 46.2 difference: 7.5 points

Massachusetts Presidential race 2012:

Obama: 60.65. Romney: 37.51 Difference: 23.14 points.

This is a national level candidate?

Here is a sample of previous presidential winners in their “race before the presidency” races. One has to go back to 1970 to find a national candidate who won their “large race” by a narrow of a margin as Warren’s (and yes, Nixon lost the California race of 1962 and narrowly lost the presidential race of 1960).

Illinois Senate 2004:
Obama: 70.0 Keys: 27.0

Texas Governor 1998
Bush: 68.2 Mauro: 31.2

Arkansas Governor 1990
Clinton: 57.49 Nelson: 42.49

General election 1984
Bush (VP with Reagan)
Reagan-Bush: 58.8 Mondale: 40.6

California Governor 1970
Reagan: 52.83 Unruh: 45.14

California Governor 1962
Brown: 51.94 Nixon: 46.87

But Nixon was VP to Eisenhower and had lost a very narrow Presidential election in 1960 (narrow in popular vote: 49.7-49.6)

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Liberal bubbles: Democratic Governor’s association won’t throw money away

Surprise: liberal Democrat has little chance of winning the governor’s race in Texas. Some liberals are crying “foul” and many tried to tell me how wrong I was in saying that this was “head in the clouds” type “thinking”.

Being delusional is a bipartisan thing, at least among the base.

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

No Difference between Democrats and Republicans?

Check this out:

Charlene Dill didn’t have to die.

On March 21, Dill was supposed to bring her three children over to the South Orlando home of her best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich. The two had cultivated a close friendship since 2008; they shared all the resources that they had, from debit-card PINs to transportation to baby-sitting and house keys. They helped one another out, forming a safety net where there wasn’t one already. They “hustled,” as Woolrich describes it, picking up short-term work, going out to any event they could get free tickets to, living the high life on the low-down, cleaning houses for friends to afford tampons and shampoo. They were the working poor, and they existed in the shadows of the economic recovery that has yet to reach many average people.

So on March 21, when Dill never showed up with her three kids (who often came over to play with her 9-year-old daughter, Zahra), Woolrich was surprised she didn’t even get a phone call from Dill. She shot her a text message – something along the lines of “Thanks for ditching me, LOL” – not knowing what had actually happened. Dill, who was estranged from her husband and raising three children aged 3, 7 and 9 by herself, had picked up yet another odd job. She was selling vacuums on a commission basis for Rainbow Vacuums. On that day, in order to make enough money to survive, she made two last-minute appointments. At one of those appointments, in Kissimmee, she collapsed and died on a stranger’s floor.

Dill’s death was not unpredictable, nor was it unpreventable. She had a documented heart condition for which she took medication. But she also happened to be one of the people who fall within the gap created by the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s intention to make health care available to everyone. In the ensuing two years, 23 states have refused to expand Medicaid, including Florida, which rejected $51 billion from the federal government over the period of a decade to overhaul its Medicaid program to include people like Dill and Woolrich – people who work, but do not make enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies. They, like many, are victims of a political war – one that puts the lives and health of up to 17,000 U.S. residents and 2,000 Floridians annually in jeopardy, all in the name of rebelling against President Barack Obama’s health care plan.

To my fellow liberals: the Republicans know that there is a big difference. And you should too. Our Democrats aren’t as liberal as we’d like them to be and they too are often in the clutches of Big Money. The same holds true for President Obama.

But there are differences and they are significant. Shame on you if you can’t see them or won’t admit that they are there.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, health care, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | 2 Comments

Ok, something other than whining…:-)

Humor: I don’t know if I’d call these “intellectual” but they are funny:

jokes

(Click for larger)

unintentional humor
A former Bradley basketball star and coach is now coaching the UC-Davis basketball team. It has been a rough year for them:

caldavisbball

They finished 9′th out of 9 teams in their conference. Now of course, a basketball coach inherits a situation and only so much can change over a period of time.
So, this coach decided to post this on his Twitter account:

Biek-hiCYAAWywD

Hmmm, though I can appreciate the message (e. g., sometimes it is beneficial to be pushed beyond your self-perceived limits), I’d say that a college oriented message ought to be, well, better written? Isn’t being able to write beyond a grade school level part of being…employable? (at least for a college graduate) :-)

Issues of the day
This isn’t good: a US Senator claims that the CIA is hacking into Congressional computers. IF true, this is very troubling.

Politics
A Republican won an open Republican seat in a special election (FL-13). The seat was open due to the death of the incumbent Bill Young, who was a Republican. But President Obama carried this Congressional district twice: 50.1 to 48.6 in 2012 and 51.3 to 47.5 in 2008. So the Democrats tried to flip it and came up short 48.5 to 46.7. The Democrats did make a special effort for this prize.

Now what to make of it? I’ll say this: I sure hope that my fellow liberals who just “know” that Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren would just SWEEP the country realize that neither would win districts that President Obama carried. Too many of us live in a bubble and think that the rest of the country is ….well….JUST LIKE US.

Nuclear safety (weapons)
Though this article is about thermonuclear weapon incidents from the 1950′s, it is still worth reading.

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political, technology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The real utility of Wendy Davis….

Yes, it appears that she will be the Democratic nominee for the Governor’s race in Texas.

Frankly, she doesn’t have much of a chance in a large, conservative state like Texas. She will probably win the Obama regions (South Texas, El Paso, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio) and get smeared elsewhere.

But she has national appeal and can probably be used to raise PAC money that can go to more viable candidates.

My guess: she might eventually run for and win a US House seat.

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Bustos joins the Blue Dogs: bad move

Let me get this straight from the start: I am supporting Cheri Bustos in her election against tea party extremist Bobby Schilling. I’ve even given her campaign a small amount of money. But I am bothered by her joining the “Blue Dog” democrats (a group for moderate to conservative democrats)

But: if she really is conservative, then I suggest we look for someone else; remember that in the 2012 election, Barack Obama won her district by 17 points. She won that district by 6.

So this isn’t a case of, say, having a Democrat in a red region; I can completely understand accommodating conservative Democrats in Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Montana, etc. That is NOT the situation here.

Unfortunately, on appearances, her embrace of this group appears to be a reaction to being in what might be a tight race.

That might be a misreading of what a tight race means.

Many think that a close race means that there are a sizable number of “unpersuaded” voters who will decide the election. In such a case, appearing to “move to the center” might work. But there are also races that are tight because the region is genuinely split between people who are highly unlikely to change their mind (think: North Carolina). In the latter case, one wins by getting people to the polls and they need a reason to show up.

President’s Truman’s words were very wise:

I’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.

But when a Democratic candidate goes out and explains what the New Deal and fair Deal really are–when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people–then Democrats can win, even in places where they have never won before. It has been proven time and again.

I hope that Bustos doesn’t continue down this path.

February 4, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, IL-17, Illinois, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Attitudes toward wealth and poverty: the Republican and Democratic divide

Workout notes I didn’t sleep that well last night (beeping fire alarm that needed batteries) but I did get up in time to get an easy 6 miles on the home treadmill (1:01). I remembered to bend my knees so as to reduce the upper thigh strain and I did vary the incline; I got sweaty and a bit out of breath at times (in a good way).

It is cold and slippery outside, hence the treadmill.

Attitudes
Yes, I am not a good athlete. No, I don’t resent those who have athletic success at my events. To me, the successful (say, those who run an Olympic Trials qualifying time), have

1. inherent genetic advantages (e. g. that would never be me, even had I devoted myself to it full time in my youth)
2. opportunities to train (e. g. they did grow up in a war zone or weren’t so constrained by crushing poverty they lacked proper nutrition…or perhaps were shunted to a training camp by a talent scout)
3. an incredible work ethic; these people train a ghastly amount and drive themselves in ways that I could never do; they are very mentally tough and determined.
4. good luck (their mother didn’t smoke crack while they were gestating, they didn’t get paralyzed in an accident, etc.)

To me, ALL of these are necessary (though perhaps not sufficient?). I admire the successful but realize that they had some advantages to begin with.

I think that the same is true with life and wealth. But this is where Republicans and Democrats tend to disagree:
repvsdemorich

Of course, poll questions like these oversimplify things, but they shed some light on most people’s knee jerk reactions.

Caveats abound: what do you mean by “rich”? Republicans like to focus on the “upper 20 percent” (e. g. starting where my wife and I are, together) where Democrats focus on where most of the “income inequality has grown” (top 1 percent, or even smaller than that):

There is also a counterpart on the upside of the income distribution: an obvious desire to believe that rising incomes at the top are kind of the obverse of the alleged social problems at the bottom. According to this view, the affluent are affluent because they have done the right things: they’ve gotten college educations, they’ve gotten and stayed married, avoiding illegitimate births, they have a good work ethic, etc.. And implied in all this is that wealth is the reward for virtue, which makes it hard to argue for redistribution.

The trouble with this picture is that it might work for people with incomes of $200,000 or $300,000 a year; it doesn’t work for the one percent, or the 0.1 percent. Yet the bulk of the rise in top income shares is in fact at the very top. Here’s the CBO:

011814krugman1-blog480

And if one dismisses unequal opportunity, one is delusional. Check this out:

The fact that college completion is higher for each successive income group among similar scoring students is evidence against a completely meritocratic system. The pattern implies that at every level of test scores, higher income led to higher completion rates. The key comparison in this figure is the fact that high-scoring students from low-income families complete college at nearly the same rate as low-scoring, high-income students (29 percent vs. 30 percent). In other words, high-scoring, low-income children are no more likely to complete college than low-scoring, rich children.

collegecompleteionrateby8thgrademathscore

So opportunities have a great deal to do with it. But yes, so does discipline and focused work. But so does being born into money, etc.

My take away: doing the right things is mostly necessary (save a small percentage of those born into it) but very insufficient. Having advantages is statistically necessary, save a handful of outliers.

Anyway, this is one reason that we, as a country, will continue to talk past each other.

January 23, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, republicans, running, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Lyme disease, genetic mutation and cholesterol, etc.

This is an interesting article in the New York Times about Lyme disease and how antibiotics might affect those who suffer from it and…:

Chronic Lyme disease is a highly controversial catch-all term for a host of long-lasting symptoms that may or may not stem from prior infection with the bacterium that causes acute Lyme disease. Often misdiagnosed and mistreated, chronic Lyme disease leaves thousands of people physically and mentally debilitated and without a medically established recourse.

Mary Rasenberger, 51, a New York lawyer, experienced “a series of ailments going back 10 years.” She was finally given a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease last summer after having been told that she had multiple sclerosis.

Her long-term symptoms were “aching joints, headaches and indescribable fatigue” that made her miserable and unable to exercise. In the last few years, two additional symptoms developed: neuropathy in her limbs and face, and vision problems. In an interview, she said she “woke up every day feeling sick”; if she became overheated, she felt as if she had the flu.

Yet a test for Lyme disease came back negative. Desperate, she finally consulted a Lyme “specialist,” one of a number of doctors who treat patients with symptoms like Ms. Rasenberger’s with long-term antibiotics, despite the fact that such a regimen has shown no significant or lasting benefit in controlled clinical trials. These trials involved randomly assigning patients to the antibiotic Rocephin (often administered intravenously) or a placebo, with neither patients nor those evaluating their symptoms aware of who got what.

Still, after several months on antibiotics Ms. Rasenberger, like many similar patients, said she felt “completely healthy for the first time in years.” Each time she tries to stop the medication, her debilitating symptoms return.

Reports like Ms. Rasenberger’s are hardly unusual, and experts now realize that some people who get Lyme disease go on to develop a chronic illness even if their initial infection was promptly diagnosed and correctly treated. Approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of people who are treated for medically documented Lyme disease develop persistent or recurrent symptoms of fatigue, musculoskeletal pain and cognitive complaints …[...]

As for why some people with PTLDS seem to benefit from intensive antibiotic therapy, at least temporarily, Dr. Aucott suggested a few theories. The antibiotics may have an anti-inflammatory effect that relieves pain and swelling. Alternatively, patients may have a low-level, persistent infection that is temporarily suppressed by antibiotics — but not killed by them. Or it may be that some PTLDS patients experience a placebo effect, improving because they believe the treatment will help and because someone is finally taking their symptoms seriously.

Complicating the picture is the fact that some people with PTLDS symptoms apparently never had Lyme disease in the first place, Dr. Marques said in an interview. There are other infectious organisms — Epstein-Barr virus, for example — that can produce similar symptoms and may be the real culprits.

But experts cannot rule out Lyme spirochete as a cause, either. Many, if not most, people who are infected with it never know they have been bitten by the tiny deer tick that spreads the bacterium from animals to people. They may never develop or notice the red rash that can result. Even when a rash occurs, only one in five is the characteristic bull’s-eye associated with Lyme disease. Most are solid red and round or oval.

[...]

We still have a lot to learn, don’t we?

Now to cholesterol:

Her cholesterol was astoundingly low. Her low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, the form that promotes heart disease, was 14, a level unheard-of in healthy adults, whose normal level is over 100.

The reason was a rare gene mutation she had inherited from both her mother and her father. Only one other person, a young, healthy Zimbabwean woman whose LDL cholesterol was 15, has ever been found with the same double dose of the mutation.

The discovery of the mutation and of the two women with their dazzlingly low LDL levels has set off one of the greatest medical chases ever. It is a fevered race among three pharmaceutical companies, Amgen, Pfizer and Sanofi, to test and win approval for a drug that mimics the effects of the mutation, drives LDL levels to new lows and prevents heart attacks. All three companies have drugs in clinical trials and report that their results, so far, are exciting.

“This is our top priority,” said Dr. Andrew Plump, the head of translational medicine at Sanofi. “Nothing else we are doing has the same public health impact.” [...]

Fascinating, huh? :-)

Politics
I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again: President Obama never had a “progressive majority” in Congress, though for a 5 month period, there were 60 Democrats in the US Senate. And as for those who fantasize about President F. D. Roosevelt, remember that he made some huge compromises too.

July 10, 2013 Posted by | Barack Obama, Democrats, politics, science | , , | Leave a comment

To my fellow Facebook liberal friends: it appears that you were right and I was wrong…maybe…

Interesting. The background check amendments failed in the Senate. I chalked it up to Senators pleasing their conservative constituencies in their home states.

My liberal friends tried to tell me that things like background checks were reasonably popular, even among Republicans.

I replied that sometimes policies were popular but the bills that contained said policies weren’t (President Clinton’s proposed health care plan was such a case).

I was skeptical that those who voted “no” would pay a political price.

Well…it turns out that some might be paying a price: (via Politics USA)

In a new poll by Public Policy Polling, five Senators in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, and Ohio are feeling the wrath of the public after failing to support a background checks measure, in what PPP called “serious backlash”. According to the poll, Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Dean Heller (R-NV) face lowered approval ratings and a public less likely to support them in the next election.

Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling, concluded that the lowered approval ratings are a direct result of the failure to support the background check measure, “The background checks vote is a rare one that really is causing these Senators trouble back home. All five of these Senators, as well as Kelly Ayotte, have seen their approval numbers decline in the wake of this vote. And the numbers make it clear that their position on Manchin/Toomey is a major factor causing the downward spiral.”

In Arizona, Republican Senator Flake’s approval rating dropped to 32% with a 51% disapproval. He is now more unpopular than even Mitch McConnell. In Arizona, 70% of the public supports background checks. Fifty-two percent of voters say they’re less likely to support Flake in a future election because of this vote. To demonstrate just how extreme the rejection of background checks is, the poll determined that only 19% of the public say they will be more likely to support Flake in a future election due to his vote.

Contrast Flake’s lowered approval ratings with Pennsylvania Republican Senator Toomey’s, who saw an increase in approval after co-sponsoring the bipartisan background check measure (Manchin/Toomey).

In Ohio, Republican junior Senator Rob Portman plunged a net 18 points in approval, from 35% approval and 25% disapproval to just 26% approval with 34% disapproval (net -8). Portman lost support across the board. No one seems to approve of the Ohio Republican. Some of his loss in approval among Republicans is more likely tied to his support for gay marriage, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

In Alaska, Democratic junior Senator Mark Begich lost approval from Democrats and Independents after failing to support background checks, with 41% approval rating and a 37% disapproval, down from 49% approval and 39% disapproval. Begich got no bounce from Republicans after his vote, so he basically alienated his base for nothing.

Popular Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski has lost a net 16 points in approval due to her rejection of background checks. Forty-six percent of voters approve of her now, with 41% now disapproving of her. Prior to the vote, she enjoyed a 54% approval rating and only 33% disapproval. The bad news is that while Murkowski predictably lost Democratic support due to her vote, she also failed to gain Republican support by voting with the NRA.[...]

If I am wrong, and it appears that I might be, it will make me very happy. I’ll gladly endure some “I told you so”s.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, republicans | , , | Leave a comment

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