On the way to Cincinnati….and there.

Personal note: Barbara’s son and wife have restored a cool old home; it is a real joy to spend the weekend there. We also got treated to some excellent Indian food.

We took I-74 from Peoria to Cincinnati and drove through Indianapolis. Going under one of the overpasses, we encountered a protest, similar to this one (the photo is from Missouri)


That *I* flipped them off was no surprise.

What was surprising is that my wife did too; it was simultaneous…she did NOT take the cue from me. Remember that my wife is known as being really nicey-nice (I am not).


July 19, 2014 Posted by | politics/social, social/political, travel | | Leave a comment

Conservative Cranks

Paul Krugman:

James Pethokoukis and Ramesh Ponnuru are frustrated. They’ve been trying to convert Republicans to market monetarism, but the right’s favorite intellectuals keep turning to cranks peddling conspiracy theories about inflation. Three years ago it was Niall Ferguson, citing a bogus source. Ferguson was widely ridiculed, by moderate conservatives as well as liberals — but here comes Amity Shlaes, making the same argument and citing the same source. The “reform conservatives” have made no headway at all.

Why this lack of progress?

The answer is that inflation paranoia isn’t a simple misunderstanding that can be corrected by pointing to evidence. It’s deeply embedded in the modern conservative psyche. Government action must, by definition, have disastrous results;

That’s pretty much it: conservatives have some core principles…sort of “nothing can shake my faith in…” types of things. Reams of evidence will not change their minds; they are extremely vulnerable to Type II error (failure to reject a false hypothesis).

The same holds for the Affordable Care Act; here Matthew Yglesias gives an “I told you so” …and he KNEW that he’d get ridiculed for his initial prediction.

Or there was the infamous 2012 election in which those conservatives weren’t going to BELIEVE that “scientific gobbledygook”: (30 seconds)


Note: the conservatives were getting taunted PRIOR to the election; this wasn’t mere hindsight:

Remember how Rove and others were supposed to raise vast sums from billionaires and corporations, then totally saturate the country with GOP messaging, drowning out Obama’s message? Well, they certainly raised a lot of money, and ran a lot of ads. But in terms of actual number of ads the battle has been, if anything, an Obama advantage. And while we don’t know what will happen on Tuesday, state-level polls suggest both that Obama is a strong favorite and, much more surprising, that Democrats are overwhelmingly favored to hold the Senate in a year when the number of seats at risk was supposed to spell doom.

Some of this reflects the simple fact that money can’t help all that much when you have a lousy message. But it also looks as if the money was surprisingly badly spent. What happened?

Well, what if we’ve been misunderstanding Rove? We’ve been seeing him as a man dedicated to helping angry right-wing billionaires take over America. But maybe he’s best thought of instead as an entrepreneur in the business of selling his services to angry right-wing billionaires, who believe that he can help them take over America. It’s not the same thing.

Consistently being wrong seems to bother them not at all:

So, there was a fun moment on CNBC: Rick Santelli went on a rant about inflation and the Fed, and CNBC analyst Steve Liesman went medieval on him:

It’s impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the US economy to rebound. Rick, it’s impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick. Lost people money, Rick. Every single bit of advice. There is no piece of advice that you’ve given that’s worked, Rick. There is no piece of advice that you’ve given that’s worked, Rick. Not a single one. Not a single one, Rick. The higher interest rates never came, the inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened, the dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn’t a single one that’s worked for you.

Yet this screaming tea party type got applause.

Accuracy means NOTHING to these people. Nothing.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | | 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.

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

The impression I am getting from reading political opposition on social media…

I have no doubt that liberals and conservatives differ on policy. This difference is probably largely genetic in nature; this is one of the best explanations I’ve seen:

However, when it comes to discussing politicians of the other party, while policy is sometimes discussed, much of the time the venom is more about what they think the other person is (or isn’t) rather than about the policy:


See: President Bush loves American and President Obama doesn’t! Never mind:


Now I know that sometimes we can “like but disagree” with a president until they do something that makes us angry; with President Bush it was the State of the Union address when he said he was going to attack Iraq. I actually liked him (but disagreed with him) prior to that. I knew AT THE TIME that some of the claims he was making were false (e. g., the aluminum tubes claim by reading Scientific American) and I thought “this guy just wants to go to war”. Then again, no one denies that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who needed to go, and there is a school of thought (non partisan) that thinks that the US was in the position to do that.

On the other hand, many condemn President Obama for drone strikes; personally, I see the problem as war, not drones. Drones actually kill fewer non-combatants than conventional air strikes and firefights, but one is one too many…but then again, if you let a terrorist off the hook and they kill again?

Bottom line: ANY President of the United States will have to make decisions that will lead to the deaths of at least some people; yes, even President Carter who had a sterling record for peace.

But I am digressing.

My main point: we tend to direct venom toward presidents that we do not have an affinity for; in my case it is no surprise that I like the “professorial”, “modern” and “thoughtful” President Obama rather than the more “instinctive”, “traditional” President Bush.

Ironically, when it comes to policy, some of what President Obama gets blamed for are successful programs that President Bush started! (TARP, auto bailouts, some of the war on terror). The packaging is different, and how we Americans love our packaging!!!

I can’t put emotions in the heads of others. But at least in my case, though I realize that most of President Bush’s “man of the people” image is manufactured (the man is an aristocrat!), what I really dislike are those who he represents:

Taxpayer Rally


The respective presidents are really just proxies for our internal culture wars.

Yes, I know, I’ve been to Obama rallies as well as to Romney, Santorum and McCain rallies. The real difference isn’t the obesity (Americans of all stripes are fat, period). The difference is really diversity; the Republican rallies tend to be monochrome and people tended to dress alike. Democrat rallies were all over the map in terms of age, dress, race, culture, etc.

What I find repulsive is the idea of “being a good American means that you fit into this one box” when, in fact, our country is extremely diverse; I’ve lived in Connecticut, rural Texas, Austin, Texas, South Dakota and currently live in a rust belt town in the midwest. The cultures vary from place to place.

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics/social, social/political | , , , , | Leave a comment

I don’t need feminism, those who came before us and “what we (think) that we know”

I remember the 2008 campaign and the Barack Obama and Rev. Wright issue. I remember then Senator Obama saying that people like Rev. Wright grew up in a different era and made the mistake of not understanding that things could indeed change…and have.

I still remember working on the campaign and hearing some elderly African Americans saying that “this country wasn’t going to vote for a black person”. Even some of my (slightly older) friends said stuff like that to me. That may have well been true…20-30 years ago. But time passes and some of us who only associate with our age peers might miss the change.

Of course, racism still exists and it still hurts. But it isn’t the factor that it once was; things HAVE gotten better.

I think that similar things might apply to feminism.

There are some articles about women posting “we don’t need feminism” photos.

Now some of this might have resulted from the fact that modern women don’t have the same obstacles that the older women faced. That does NOT mean that all is fair right now; it isn’t. But things have changed for the better and some feminists who came before deserve some credit.

As far as the hostility toward feminism: some of it might result from feminism having some crackpot ideas associated with it…some of which are true (e. g. that a prominent feminist said this: “In that case, why is it not as illuminating and honest to refer to Newton’s laws as “Newton’s rape manual” as it is to call them “Newton’s mechanics”?”) and some of which are NOT true (e. g. the “all heterosexual sex is rape” claim; this claim was an inference that someone else said came from the work of a prominent feminist; the feminist herself did NOT say that)

Yes, crackpot feminists exist (I’ve talked to a few of them) but any large movement will have some crackpots; that is just statistics.

Nevertheless the anti-feminists raise some interesting points:



Yes, too many claim positive attributes for themselves without having actually displayed such attributes.   But this really is more of a social point than an anti-feminist one.




I’ve seen some of this. Many years ago one Woman studies professor was describing some situation and made anti-male jokes; (anti-testosterone) and when I came back with an anti-estrogen joke, she tried to claim “it is ok for me because I am a member of an oppressed class” defense; I blew her off.

You can also see some of this at sites like Daily Kos; there is little that is more unpleasant than trying to have a conversation with a zealot who just KNOWS that they are both informed and intelligent when they are actually neither.


It does appear at times that some feminists (male and female) try to deny human nature and deny how our species propagates. I find it amusing when some accused me for objectifying some woman who posted a “spandex butt selfie” to a “yoga pants blog”. I don’t think that she was forced.


This is sticky. Say a male and a female BOTH get very drunk and then have sex. Aren’t they equally responsible for what happens? Some feminists don’t think so…and legally speaking…well, the sexes are not treated equally. I suppose that some of this is due to biological asymmetry but it is interesting that, practically speaking, it is the male that is held accountable.

Note: I am NOT talking about the cases (which actually occur) of a male thinking it is ok to have sex with a passed out drunk woman; THAT is rape, for sure. I suppose it could work the other way, but realistically, it probably doesn’t occur very often, though it does happen.

July 14, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

I wish that they would make up their minds….


July 14, 2014 Posted by | politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | | Leave a comment

I’d never make it in political opposition research

Via Huffington Post: a video about those who do political opposition research.

I’d be terrible at it. For example, I might see that a Republican candidate once wrote \int e^x dx = \frac{e^{x+1}}{x+1} + C and start laughing and saying “WHAT AN IDIOT”….but I doubt that anyone else would care. :-)

July 9, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Beware of that “satisfying” feeling of self righteousness….

While running through Bradley Park, I noticed that there was a fat dog walking alongside a car that was driving slowly on a park road. As I passed them I noticed a fat woman driving…and I thought “great: she is too fat and lazy to actually walk the dog”. But I reminded myself to STFU and MYOB and that I didn’t know the details of the situation; I didn’t even know if it was her dog (e. g. one time while running, a loose dog kept me company thereby getting me dirty looks; I had no idea whose dog it was)

That reminded me of a couple of things on the internet.

Here is the first, via Daily Kos:


This struck me as strange; what high government official would refuse a Presidential handshake? I looked it up and sure enough: President Obama was flying to Texas and notified Gov. Perry that he would be in Austin and would meet him at the airport if he desired. The Governor said “no thanks, but I’d love to meet with you for a longer period of time to discuss the immigration issue. The President accepted:

“I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas,” Perry wrote, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue.”

Perry’s refusal to greet the President upon his arrival may preclude the sort of awkward tarmac tiff Obama experienced with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in 2012, although the Texas governor apparently has subtler ways of getting his point across. Perry slipped a letter requesting more border security to a White House adviser when he met the President in 2010 at an Austin airport, according to the Journal.

Obama is slated to visit Dallas and Austin on Wednesday for a pair of Democratic fundraisers. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett replied to Perry by inviting the governor to a round table discussion on border issues that Obama plans to attend in Dallas, according to the Austin American-Statesman. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday during a press briefing that Perry had agreed to attend the meeting.

Here is the second:


This one struck me as strange too; I decided to look at this further. I knew that there are some kooks in state legislatures that file some strange bills; this could be one of them. Sure enough:

A Massachusetts state senator has filed a bill that could prohibit a divorcing parent from having sex in their own home.

Senator Richard J. Ross, a Wrentham Republican, filed by request Bill 787 which would pertain to the divorcing parent still living in the family home. It states:

In divorce, separation, or 209A proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts.

The bill was referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, according to the website.

Ok, women aren’t mentioned but rather “the party remaining in the home” which is often the female. Ok….I thought it was hilarious and posted it.
But a friend of mine who is familiar with Massachusetts told me that this was a “file by request” bill. What this means: in Massachusetts, any citizen can request that their state legislator file a bill on their behalf. The legislator can either file it with support or file it “by request” meaning that they don’t necessarily support the bill; this was case of the latter.

You can read more about this aspect of Massachusetts law here:

Massachusetts offers citizens the “right of free petition” — the power to propose their own legislation. A citizen’s proposal must be filed in conjunction with a representative or senator.

Sometimes a legislator will support the legislation and sponsor it along with the constituent. Other times, a legislator might disagree with the bill but will file it anyway as a courtesy.

In those cases, the bill is listed as being filed “by request” — indicating that he or she is doing so at the request of the constituent and does not necessarily support it, said House Clerk Steve James.

Nangle said he would take this route if a bill seemed outlandish or crazy. He said it is his duty is to file bills for constituents, even if he does not support them.

“You are the voice of that individual, at that time,” Nangle said.

Legislators have many reasons to file bills by request. Nangle said he wanted to give Sean credit for researching the issue, and encourage constituent participation.

Moral: beware of something that sounds outrageous and makes you feel self righteous. :-)

Unfortunately, Daily Kos is too often like this; people fly off of the handle without really knowing what they are talking about.

July 9, 2014 Posted by | political/social, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

Political Quips

Well, the economy added jobs again: 288K. Unemployment fell to 6.1 percent as well.

Still, we could do better if we had some infrastructure investment.

It appears that it has finally sunk in that the Republicans will not work with the President, AT ALL. So, he’ll do what he is able to do via executive actions. Sure, even our stupid little hometown hick paper editorial board doesn’t like it (though they blame Congress as well), but this isn’t a “both sides” type of thing.

What I think has happened: Republicans are over represented in Congress, and Republicans in Congress are out to please their bat-sh*t crazy base.

Example: a conservative webpage made this comment:



See that? The conservatives are saying that American freedom bothers the Muslims or that they are bothered by not having Sharia Law.

In fact, if you follow the link to the Asian Times article you see:

Nearly a year after the events of 9/11, the Attorney General announced the introduction of the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System (NSEERS). The “special registration” program applied to men aged 16 to 45 who were predominantly from Arab/Muslim countries residing in the United States on temporary visas. The men were required to report to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) offices for multi-phase registration that included fingerprinting, photographing, and questioning. It has been found that this program failed in two very distinct ways. Firstly, the department failed to put out clear information regarding the requirements of the program, which led to many unnecessary deportations. Secondly, the program reportedly used harsh detention methods on participants. It is clear that this program resulted in mistreatment and rights violations. While this program is no longer active, the U.S. Patriot Act and the CLEAR Act have both been reauthorized and are used by law enforcement.

The national media very rightly noted that the results of these policies devastate the relationship between the Muslim community and the U.S. Government. Civil liberties groups had already declared that the U.S. Patriot Act and the CLEAR Act negatively impact the civil liberties of Muslim minority groups, particularly Arab minorities and Muslim immigrants. Muslim organizations maintain that these governmental programs and policies create feelings of anxiety, ostracism, and isolation that detach Muslims from the American mainstream. In addition, the government’s use of racial profiling encouraged media and organizational stereotyping.

Racial profiling was once widespread in the New York area.

Now, to widespread attacks, arson, killings and other harassments against the Muslims living in the United States not forgetting the most recently (June 2014) dropped surveillance program carried out by the New York City police department that severely harassed the Muslims in the area.

Anti-mosque incidents have escalated in recent years. In 2012 summer, a mosque in Joplin, Missouri, burned to the ground. In 2011, a man was arrested with explosives outside the Islamic Center in Dearborn, Michigan. An arson fire seriously damaged a mosque in Wichita, Kansas, in May 2011. And incidents of mosque vandalism have become more common.

Hate groups have been on the rise, too; one of the most horrific hate crimes was the murder of Shaima Alawadi, a young mother who had received anonymous notes calling her a terrorist.

In other words, the use of “free” is intended as irony; they are complaining of profiling, discrimination, campaigns to stop the building of mosques, etc.

If the conservative base is so stupid that they can’t even understand a short newspaper article, or if they are so sure of themselves that they can’t be bothered to read the article that they linked to, is it any wonder that it is impossible to get along with such people?

July 3, 2014 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, republicans | | Leave a comment

President Obama Approval Ratings

If you are on social media platforms and have conservative friends, you might be reading about how President Obama has the worst approval ratings or something like that. You can generate this graph here.


AS you can see President Obama’s approval ratings trends track the historical ones but are below them but are still above where President Bush’s were.

In his hyper partisan era, approvals of 50 percent plus will probably be rare. Basically, conservatives (which include the so-called independents who are really conservatives but don’t want to be associated with the current Republican party) are going to dislike his policies, and among the Democrats, 80 percent will like him (myself included) and 20 percent will be upset that he isn’t liberal enough.

And yes, such effects contributed to President Bush’s low approval ratings too.

July 2, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment


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