blueollie

“You need to shut up and listen to me” rarely works…

I am frequently more critical of liberals because, well, that is who I tend to hang around. I am sure that there is a “shut up and listen to me”, “shut up and read the Bible..at least the parts I want you to read” ethic among conservatives too but I am in a position in life where it is rarely directed toward me.

But you see it quite a bit in liberal circles: if we see someone as potentially marginalized and not listened to, be they a racial minority, female, gay, non-cis-gendered, and recently..a teenager, we are told to “check our privilege” (whatever that means) and listen to them..often in an uncritical way. And in certain circles (say, in certain circles on certain college campuses), people get used to that.

So when they go outside of their small circles and face, gasp, criticism and critique when they were expecting a captive audience, well, some feeeeeelings can get hurt!

Yes, one could always accomplish something and get to the point where people actually WANT to listen to what you have to say…but that requires hard work and patience and maybe a bit of talent.

2016 election and Hillary Clinton Yeah, I know the election is long over and Trump won because of the way the Electoral College is set up. And yeah, given the Democratic field and Trump, had I to do it over again, I *still* would have voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. I still think that she was vastly more qualified than either.

But, well, I kept much of this to myself for a long time, but her public persona is just not likable (I’ve heard that she is likable in person).

Yes, I find her intelligent and logical:

Note: this video was posted by right wing idiots who completely missed the point that she was making. Frankly, I found her argument to be correct and on point, but for the morons who made this clip, I suppose it was “TL;DR”. And millions and millions of such morons vote (on both sides). Someone like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton knows how to get at least a few of those votes.

And yes, there things I didn’t like her either. For one: unlike Bill and Barack, she did not get to her political position under her own steam; had she not been married to Bill, she would have certainly been a super successful professional but not a politician. IMHO, that just isn’t her; I could see her as a judge, professor, CEO, or perhaps a cabinet member (she did well as Secretary of State). But a “rallier of the masses” she isn’t.

And, for some reason, her public self critiques appear to be excuse making:

Robby Mook, the drained and deflated campaign manager, told his boss she was going to lose. She didn’t seem all that surprised.

“I knew it. I knew this would happen to me,” she said, now within a couple of inches of Mr. Mook’s ashen face. “They were never going to let me be president.”

Oh, for f**ks sake! Barack Obama won as a black man!!! “THEY”? “LET ME”??? I sure hope this is something that really wasn’t said..but I fear that it was.

And yes, yes, yes, Trump is a disaster…engages in self-pity far, far more, etc. I see no alternate universe in which I support Donald J. Trump.

But at times, HRC makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

April 21, 2018 Posted by | 2016, hillary clinton, political/social, social/political | Leave a comment

Shattered: a view of the failed 2016 Clinton campaign

I just finished reading the book Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.

Like many, I thought that Hillary Clinton would win but was aware that she was not in as strong of a position as Obama was in during the 2012 campaign.

Still, I thought that the “worst case” was 272-266 Clinton

And I misread the coalition that Trump brought aboard in key states.

So, what went wrong? Oh I know what went wrong with the models that overstated Clinton’s probability of winning; it was the statistical idea of independence and the width of the confidence intervals.

But what about with the election and campaign itself? The book Shattered examines that question. Yes, the book makes it clear that the Comey letter, Russian meddling and other forces played a factor; for example, in some key areas of key states, she did just as well as Obama did with the female vote but did much worse with the male vote. This book does NOT discount these factors.

But it does talk about how dysfunctional the campaign was (the goal was often to maintain access to HRC rather than to get her elected…loyalty was rewarded, sometimes at the expense of competence..and there was too much focus on analytics and “getting one’s people to the polls as opposed to trying to win at least a few votes over”.

Yes, I know; many times there are people that you are wasting your time with. But there is value in persuasion; sometimes losing red counties 65-35 instead of 75-25 can help you carry the state.

And, they painted a portrait of a candidate who, while knowing every white paper on the issues, just could not connect with voters outside of a narrow circle. And it wasn’t as if HRC was good with public introspection; she appeared to place little blame on herself, at least at that time. She does some of this in her own book, which came out later.

I found that the book was a good complement to Clinton’s own book What Happened.

Oh yes, if you Loooooove Hillary you’ll think that this book is a “hit job”. This book will be dismissed by Clinton cultists. If you hate her, you’ll find a lot you like in the book, though the book DOES admit that other factors played a big role; any one of these could have tipped the scales in such a close election.

But, realistically, I think that the book shows that attempted to run a 2012 style campaign against a very unconventional opponent with the country being in an unconventional mood.

And yes, while Obama was a ground breaking candidate, he was also a “purple unicorn” with extreme intelligence, charisma and political skill. Clinton had only the ‘intelligence” part; being a woman didn’t seem to help her a higher percentage of the female vote and she was hurt with the male vote. Though one might exclaim “sexism”, and I have no doubt that it was a factor, I wonder if there was a difference: Obama got to where he was under his own steam. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton got to where she was because of Bill; had she never married him, she might have well been some successful lawyer, professor or policy expert.

And while her being saddled to Bill got her into the arena, it may well have harmed her during this particular election itself.

Now of course, every campaign makes mistakes and has some dysfunction; after all, Trump did horribly during the debates and had all sorts of gaffes and missteps ..many which might have sunk him in a different election. But he had enough showmanship (“political campaign skill”) to overcome those missteps….at least during THIS election.

Other reviews: here, here and here.

April 14, 2018 Posted by | 2016, books, politics, politics/social | Leave a comment

Trump, Mueller, Instagram science and “The Needle”

It seems as if anything can raise offense these days…well, I suppose it was ALWAYS that way but we hear more about it now. Here, a budding female scientists expresses frustration with being stuck with the “make science attractive to the masses duties” because she is female:

A lot of good comes from the work of female scientists on Instagram. But it disturbs me that these efforts are celebrated as ways to correct for the long held and deeply structured forms of discrimination and exclusion that female scientists face. I wonder whether our efforts should instead be directed toward advocating for policy changes at institutional and governmental levels.

When I next interview for a job, I won’t have an Instagram page to show that my love of science doesn’t make me boring and unfriendly. Publicly documenting the cute outfit I wear and the sweet smile I brandish in the lab isn’t going to help me build a fulfilling career in a field where women hold less senior positions, are paid less, and are continuously underrated. Time spent on Instagram is time away from research, and this affects women in science more than men. That’s unfair. Let’s not celebrate that.

And..of course…someone was offended.

Now THIS is a reasonable response..sort of. I don’t think saying “I am not going to do this and this is why” is shaming. If you WANT to do this, fine. But the author of the article was saying that she felt pressure to do that, and she shouldn’t. Disclaimer: I love my camera and my Instagram does have some “math selfies” or at least photos of math department members doing “mathy” things. But that is ME; I enjoy doing that.

Speaking of math: “The Needle” (Upshot’s day of the election forecast needle” is explained here. And yes, it DID predict a Trump victory long before it became apparent to others; I followed it. Roughly speaking: it looks at what vote has been counted, which areas have not been, what the turnout was and historically, how the outstanding areas have gone. It is a bit like this (about 6 minutes into it)

Trump and Muller Trump cannot fire Muller directly, and firing him indirectly will be harder than it might appear at first…and even if he does, that doesn’t mean the investigation gets stopped.

But this doesn’t mean that Congress ..or the people will see the full results of the Muller probe either.

I am not sure as to what is going on or what is happening. I do know that the Russians have made fools out of us in many ways. As far as the election stuff: yeah, some of the Russian ads were…well…”shit posting” quality. But campaigns are forbidden to consult with people who are putting out ads on their behalf unless they are an official part of the campaign, and foreigners aren’t allowed to collude, period. So there is some potential violations of election law.

Workout notes
Swim, then running. Swim: I was disappointed that the lifeguard showed up and I was awful (bloated, etc.) 4 x 250 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 back, 200 drill, 2 x 200, 1 x 100 (3:36, 3:42, 1:52), 2 x 50 (54), 2 x 25, 50 back.

run: treadmill 5.1 and up .1 every .5 miles (33:50 for 3, 34:55 for 3.1, then walk to 47:25 for 4 miles. Foot: was starting to work so I had to talk myself out of doing more. That is a good sign.

March 20, 2018 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social, science, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

I’ll take “bad ideas for 500″…

No, this isn’t a “Bad Idea Jeans” commercial. But I’ve hears some terrible ideas floating around out there.

Guns and gun control

One is the old “well, if killers don’t have access to guns, they’ll kill with something else” argument. Yes, I know; a fertilizer and diesel fuel bomb was used in Oklahoma City, and people have deliberately driven cars on the sidewalk and into crowds.

But, such items have other uses and yes, there is regulation on them. I am not claiming that reinstating the assault weapons ban will make mass shootings go to zero; almost nothing will do that. But it will reduce the frequency; it will make mass killing harder to do.

Analogy: drunk driving laws have not reduced drunk driving to zero. But they HAVE made things better.

That is also the counter argument to “well, criminals don’t obey laws”. True..but we have laws anyway, right?

Next, you have this “Arm the teachers” stuff:

This is about the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. For one thing: having aptitude to be good with a gun in an emergency situation is very different than having the aptitude to be a good teacher (regardless of level). Then one would have to train and retrain …for a skill that one is very unlikely to ever have to use. Then there is the idea of storing a gun around kids to begin with… Nope.

And I will say this: I am NOT going to bring a gun to class. Period.

Note: I am not against the “mental and emotional health” attack on the problem; I am against leaving it at that. Guns themselves are still a major problem.

And please, spare me all of that “god” bullshit. In countries and in states, religiosity correlates positively with social pathology.

Russians and our elections Ok, 13 Russian nationals have been indicted for interfering in our election. In a nutshell, they posed as US activists and did things like promote Jill Stein (and yes, Bernie Sanders) and Donald Trump; they made anti-Clinton ads and the like.

One would think that Americans would take offense at a hostile power trying to influence our election.

But many Trump supporters …don’t.

One of them seemed to imply that they were against “the political process” than enabled, well, those who are not shining stars in capitalism ..to have influence in an election; sort a “the winners of society should make the decisions”. Never mind that many of the wealthy and powerful *inherited* their positions and wealth to begin with.

Such ideas have been tried before and they’ve never turned out well.

Anyhow, this is what we are up against; remember that some really believe that the most successful in business have some inherent right to govern. I doubt if the GOP politicians will say that in public, but you’d better believe that the donor class believes this.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | 2016, political/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

What Happened by Hillary Clinton: my take

The tl;dr take:

1. This won’t change your mind about Hillary Clinton. If you despised her before, you’ll feel the same way after the book. If you loved her before, you’ll still love her. If you thought “ok, decent policy wonk but not really charismatic”, well, you’ll leave this book with the same opinion.

2. I was disappointed: I expected it to be more of “I should have opened X field offices in Pennsylvania and spent Y in ads in Wisconsin” and perhaps a bit more introspection. There was some introspection, but it was scattered throughout. On the other hand, I did learn that what sort of breakfast egg dishes she likes, that she likes an occasional hamburger, that she likes kids, that Justice Ginsberg does planks twice a week and yes, that she (Hillary Clinton) wears yoga pants. Seriously (page 19 for the yoga pants mention)

3. I’d say that about 2/3 of the book is worth reading. The best section is the one called Frustration, which features the 5 chapters Country Roads, Those Damn Emails, “Trolls, Bots, Fake News and Real Russians”, Election Night, Why. I was expecting most of the book to be like this section. It did give a nice summary of the issues of e-mails, Russian meddling, how the press handled things and some of the prevailing headwinds. The chapter “Sweating the Details” in the section “Sisterhood” is good too. And she flat out admitted that much of the country simply does not like her.

4. I’d say that she is finished running for elective office; she really did burn some bridges and say a few things sans a politician’s filter. Here is a beauty: (page 276; she is describing people in Appalachia)

But anger and resentment do run deep. As Appalachian natives such as author J. D. Vance have pointed out, a culture of grievance, victimhood, and scapegoating has taken root as traditional values of self-reliance and hard work have withered. There’s a tendency toward seeing every problem as someone else’s fault, whether it’s Obama, liberal elites in the big cities,
undocumented immigrants taking jobs, minorities soaking up government assistance–or me.

5. And yes, about the “basket of deplorables” remark: she admits that it was a political mistake to make that statement, but she stands by the actual logic of the statement (about half of the Trump supporters fall into that category). Actually, I do too, but it is an interesting statement to make..at least from a politician not named “Trump”.

6. Oh yes, she really doesn’t like Trump. She does take shots at Sanders, Comey, the press, etc. But she really doesn’t like Trump.

7. Above all, this book is, without apology, aimed mostly at women; I’d say at educated, upper middle class women.

More detail: the book is not a linear time progression. It starts out describing the inauguration and her decision to attend (later to go home and put on a fleece top and yoga pants). Chronologically, it skips around quite a bit.

Much of the early part of the book is a bit like NBC’s Olympic coverage: human interest stuff (what she eats, when she wakes up, day to day stuff…kids, grand kids, relations between her staff, etc.).

She does get onto issues, including Black Lives Matter, Mothers of the Movement (black victims of gun violence), Police (yes, she talks about the massacre of police officers), climate change, and the lead in the Flint water supply (and wonders if advocating for poor blacks in Flint cost her votes in Michigan). She also talks about NATO and some of the complexities of foreign policy.

She does have some beefs though:

1. Press coverage. They seemed to be fixated on her e-mail problems (way overblown) and that ate up much of her press coverage; it hurt her ability to talk about issues. It also blotted out coverage about other things, such as he bus tour. She also pointed out that Trump appeared to send the press a “new rabbit to chase” almost daily; that appeared to keep the press from drilling down on his honest to goodness issues.

2. Russian interference: she goes into this in detail; the main issue is not only did they hack into the DNC and into her Podesta’s e-mails, but they also strategically planted fake news and gamed the social media and search engine algorithms so that these stories appeared on the feeds of likely undecided voters living in battleground states.

3. Bernie Sanders: she took shots at his unrealistic “we could have this or that” claims and ridiculed the idea that if we could somehow just get the PACs out of business, his proposals would be popular NATIONWIDE; he seemed to disregard regional differences in attitudes. She resented the implication that she was somehow crooked.

4. She flat out admit that the history of “Clinton scandals” (mostly untrue) dogged her and made people ready to believe new “non-scandals” about her. And on page 399

Moreover I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people–millions and millions of people, decided they just didn’t like me.

.

5. Introspection: she said that she should have not used the line “we are going to put a lot of coal miners out of work” even though it was quoted out of context.

Here are her full remarks, with the most relevant parts in bold:

Look, we have serious economic problems in many parts of our country. And Roland is absolutely right. Instead of dividing people the way Donald Trump does, let’s reunite around policies that will bring jobs and opportunities to all these underserved poor communities.

So for example, I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?

And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.

Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.

So whether it’s coal country or Indian country or poor urban areas, there is a lot of poverty in America. We have gone backwards. We were moving in the right direction. In the ’90s, more people were lifted out of poverty than any time in recent history.

Because of the terrible economic policies of the Bush administration, President Obama was left with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and people fell back into poverty because they lost jobs, they lost homes, they lost opportunities, and hope.

So I am passionate about this, which is why I have put forward specific plans about how we incentivize more jobs, more investment in poor communities, and put people to work.

She did discuss her “basket of deplorables” remark on page 413 and noted that she wasn’t talking about all Trump supporters but “about half of them”. She then goes on to provide data (from polls) regarding the attitudes of Trump supporters to back up her claim of accuracy!

She does not pull punches about those who overlooked some of Trump’s ugly statements either.

Getting back to introspection: she acknowledges that perhaps, when listening to angry voters, she jumped straight to proposed solutions instead of listening to the venting to assure the voter that she “got” and “felt” the depth of their anger and pain …first.

6. Resentments: I’ve discussed her stated, well resentments about some of Trump’s supporters. She also took shots at “my way or the highway” activists, shots at those who attempted to “disrupt” her rallies (she made a point to put the word in italics (page 203). About the woman’s marches: she approved of them but wondered where that passion was during the election itself and why some did not vote. She resented Sander’s bumper sticker depth of policy, the press, the timing of the Comey letter (which probably DID cost her the election), the Electoral College and…

7. Being a woman: I’d say that the underlying thread of her book is about being a female and the disadvantages that brings from sexism (e. g. her being a female is one reason to be against her), misogyny (on page 114-115 she explains the difference between the two). She complains about the extra time a woman (in the public eye) has to spend on make up. And yes, she acknowledges that she lost the white women’s vote and especially the non-college educated white woman’s vote.

8. Yes, she discusses race and thinks that she did suffer some backlash from those who resented having a black president for 8 years.

9. She did discuss campaign strategy just a bit and pushed back on the narrative that she didn’t campaign enough in the former “blue wall” rust belt states.

Clearly, there is much more in the book than what I said, but hopefully, you’ll get a sense of whether you want to read it or not.

Update: here is a fact check of her book (it comes out pretty well) She also mentions a Facebook meme that I not only saw but passed around (Bernie and the pony) and a Facebook group that I belonged to (Pantsuit Nation).

December 24, 2017 Posted by | 2016, books, hillary clinton, politics, politics/social, social/political | | 1 Comment

Statistical inference and the morning weight room

I know that this is far from perfect. But for a couple of years, the university had some smaller than average classes. And yes, the gym was more empty at 6 am.
Today: there were more people than usual in the gym at 6 am (start of classes). But that isn’t the only factor: our university is also tearing down buildings and replacing them with updated ones (yes, badly needed upgrades). That reduces the number of available classrooms, hence we have more afternoon/late afternoon classes than before.

So more students plus “being in class in the afternoon” means “more people in they gym” in the morning. Nevertheless, I got through the routine (weights only) in 42 minutes; then added 20 minutes of skips and legs then walked 4 outside.

Social media: it is interesting. In one case, somebody thought he was “calling me out” when, in fact, I was arguing about langue and not the concept. In another case, a Trump supporter refused to read anything from the mainstream media because…well, the election projections were wrong.

Note: the polls did pretty well with the national popular vote; even the state polls in the battle ground states were not that far off..it is just that several were off by a little bit IN THE SAME DIRECTION (which Nate Silver said was a real possibility). The polls weren’t bad, but some (not all) of the inferences from the polls were. But try explaining that to someone whose mind is already made up.

I’ve learned to say “ok, I’ll leave your company for others to enjoy”.

And yes, I’ve had to do that with people who vote the same way that I do. Statements like “no, Bernie Sanders would not have won” or “Hillary Clinton really isn’t that good of a campaigner; Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were a lot better” or “yes, the Russians did spread disinformation but there is no evidence that they hacked the voting machines themselves” have earned me both ire and blocks on Twitter.

No big loss though.

Workout notes:
hip hikes, toe raises, rotator cuff
pull ups: 5 sets of 10: ok.
incline: 10 x 135, 8 x 150, 4 x 160 (decent hip placement)
military: (standing, with dumbbells) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 20 x 40
rows (Hammer) 3 sets of 10 x 200

The above took 42 minutes.

rope skips: 34, 50, 50 (last two sets: ended at 50 voluntarily). I am getting better.
goblet squats: 5 x 50 (window sill), 10 x 50, 10 x 53 (kettle), 5 x 70 (20 inch box)
4 mile walk in Bradley Park; kind of sluggish. Very good weather though; nice and cool.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | 2016, social/political, statistics, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Amateur Hour …

Yes, there are many reasons that Donald Trump pulled out the 2016 election in the Electoral College. But, overall, the Republican voters stuck with the Republican; that was far and away the biggest factor. What one identifies with means more than anything else.

Oh yes, his campaign (at least certain members of it) did attempt to collude with Russia; they admitted as much. And just a small change in a handful of states could well have made the difference.

But one way or another, he “won”.

And so far, it has been terrible. Donald Trump clearly doesn’t know what he is doing. And yet, the Republicans in Congress support him, though they might make a “this is troubling” statement once in a while.

Workout notes weights only; I am kind of tired.
hip hikes, toe raises, goblet squats: 25, 25, 50, 50, 60, 60, 70, pull ups (5 sets of 10) bench presses: 10 x 135, 1 x 190, 5 x 185, 8 x 170, incline: 10 x 140, military: seated: 15 x 55 dumbbell, standing: 10 x 45, machine: 10 x 200. rows: 2 sets of 10 x 55, 10 x 110 machine. abs: 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts. Fell over on head stand.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2016, political/social, social/political, weight training | Leave a comment

Did Trump outsmart Obama?

I read this article about how the Obama administration handled the Russian meddling in our election issue. Here is the Washington Post article on the subject.

The upshot: Obama found out, told the Russians to “cut it out”, they didn’t and the Obama administration responded weakly. Reason: remember Trump babbling about the “election being rigged” and the threats that he might not accept the results if he lost?

That put Obama between a rock and a hard place. If he went public, the Republicans would accuse him of “rigging the election” for Hillary; remember that one of the things that the Russians did was to spread false stories. But if he responded weakly…well, you see what happened.

So, he figured that Clinton would win anyway..and she didn’t (sort of).

Now Trump is crowing.

Now, in public, Trump denied that Russia was behind the hacking. But what if he knew that Russia was behind it (or even actively colluded, though we don’t have solid evidence of that as yet) and he judged that Obama’s sense of fairness (not wanting to appear to tip the election toward Clinton, which could have backfired) would make Obama respond weakly?

It could be that we got played.

June 25, 2017 Posted by | 2016, politics, republicans | , , | Leave a comment

Sticky place for Democrats

This isn’t yet another postmortem on the stinging Democratic defeat in 2016. But this is more about “how do we go forward”?

Yes, there is a lot of protest about Trump, but where does this protest come from? My guess: not from Trump voters. 🙂

So, one goes to the rust belt to talk things over with Democrats in power there. And they say the same thing: what national Democrats appear to care about is not what the local people care about:

But worst of all, they said, the party hadn’t learned from what they saw as the biggest message from November’s election: Democrats have fallen completely out of touch with America’s blue-collar voters.

“It doesn’t matter how much we scream and holler about jobs and the economy at the local level. Our national leaders still don’t get it,” said David Betras, the county’s party chair. “While Trump is talking about trade and jobs, they’re still obsessing about which bathrooms people should be allowed to go into.”

Others around the restaurant table nodded.

Since the election, Democrats have been swallowed up in an unending cycle of outrage and issues that have little to do with the nation’s working class, they said, such as women’s marches, fighting Trump’s refugee ban and advocating for transgender bathroom rights. […]

He warned Clinton that she had lost all credibility with working-class voters by waffling on trade and offering tepid solutions. He urged in his memo that she talk about infrastructure instead.

“The workers we’re talking about don’t want to run computers, they want to run back hoes, dig ditches, sling concrete block,” he wrote. “They’re not embarrassed about the fact that they get their hands dirty. . . . They love it and they want to be respected and honored for it.”

He sent his memo to Clinton’s top campaign adviser in Ohio and other senior party officials. But Betras never heard back.

Months later, he said he thinks his party leaders still haven’t gotten the message.

Yes, we get it. Making sure that “Loretta” can use the bathroom that, well “she” wants to use is not what is on most people’s minds..nor are women in pussy hats.

But wait…don’t Democrats push for…Medicaid expansion and minimum wage hikes, stuff that helps out those at the bottom of the economic ladder? Well:

Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.

The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger. […]

The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor
Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

And those who are genuinely poor: THEY DON’T WANT TO REMAIN POOR…they don’t want a minimum wage job. They want the jobs that Trump promised.

And here is the dilemma: those jobs are not coming back. Neither are those towns. Automation is not going away, and that is what is killing many jobs.

Example: now-a-days it takes a grand total of 30-35 man hours to produce a complete car:

When Harbour adds up all the man-hours it takes to build a car or truck, including stamping, assembly, engine and transmission manufacture, Hyundai was seventh of seven majors, at 35.1 hours per vehicle in North America. Ford Motor Company was sixth, at 33.88 hours, a 3.7-percent improvement over last year, Nissan was fifth, at an estimated 32.96 hours, or 8.8 percent more time than the previous year, and GM was fourth, at 32.29 hours, a 0.2-percent improvement. Honda was third, at 31.33 hours, a 2.3-percent improvement.

In 1932, it was 92 man-hours.

We simply do not need as many workers to do the same tasks.

So…what to do? The awful truth is that many of those who have lost those good blue collar jobs will either have to retrain for the jobs of today (IF they are capable of doing so) or…be poor.

Trump’s solution was to lie to them and it…just barely…worked.

What will our solution be?

April 6, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, economy, social/political | | Leave a comment

The unpopularity of the Democratic Party

Yes, President Trump has historically low approval ratings (for it being this early in his administration).

That is undeniable. (this graph is via Gallup).

But ..the Democratic party...rates even LOWER

Of course, the Bernie Bros are claiming “see, you need to become more like Bernie” and they cite articles like this one:

But what this apparently means to the people who are calling for unity is getting behind the corporate, suit and tie, lobbyist-driven agenda of the establishment. But let me break it to you – the establishment has almost no grassroots momentum. Virtually every progressive grassroots movement in America right now is fueled by people outside of the Democratic Party establishment and this is a huge reason why the party is so outrageously unpopular.

Huge grassroots movements, made up of millions and millions of people, are fueling the fight for a $15 minimum wage, fighting back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fighting to end fracking, fighting to remove lobbyist money from politics, fighting to end senseless wars and international violence, fighting for universal healthcare, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, fighting for free college tuition, fighting against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. But mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues have deep networks, energized volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

In the past two months, I’ve spoken in a dozen states around the country and thousands of people show up. Wednesday night, in the freezing rain, lines were wrapped around multiple city blocks to attend an event I was hosting at a local Seattle high school. We literally formed the event a few days ago on Facebook and didn’t spend a single penny putting it together.

This is a breath-taking amount of ignorance. Yes, “activists” really love those things and have energy. But a tiny percentage of people can be a lot of people in a country of 320 million. That, by no stretch of the imagination, translates into something the electorate will rally around.

Riddle me this: how did left wingers do in the past election? Example: Russ Feingold lost by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton did in Wisconsin.

While left wing populism might be very inspirational to a small percentage of the population, it really isn’t a winning political coalition:

On November 20, less than two weeks after Donald Trump’s upset win, Bernie Sanders strode onto a stage at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center to give the sold-out audience his thoughts on what had gone so disastrously wrong for the Democratic Party.

Sanders had a simple answer. Democrats, he said, needed to field candidates who would unapologetically promise that they would be willing “to stand up with the working class of this country and … take on big-money interests.”

Democrats, in other words, would only be able to defeat Trump and others like him if they adopted an anti-corporate, unabashedly left-wing policy agenda. The answer to Trump’s right-wing populism, Sanders argued, was for the left to develop a populism of its own.

That’s a belief widely shared among progressives around the world. A legion of commentators and politicians, most prominently in the United States but also in Europe, have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Supporters of these leaders, they argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

“[It’s] a kind of liberal myth,” Pippa Norris, a Harvard political scientist who studies populism in the United States and Europe, says of the Sanders analysis. “[Liberals] want to have a reason why people are supporting populist parties when their values are so clearly against progressive values in terms of misogyny, sexism, racism.”

The problem is that a lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration — or, more precisely, it doesn’t do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it’s in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

Yeah, left wing populism and a focus on the poor and economic injustice may have worked…in 1932 when unemployment was at 25 percent!

But the reality is:

1. Most do not care all that much about the Dakota Access Pipeline
2. Most have little in common with those who are at risk of losing their Obamacare insurance (and many of these ignorant jackasses voted for Trump)
3. Most of us earn well above the minimum wage
4. Most are not Muslim and most do not have Muslim friends
5. Most of us do not care whether someone is offended by someone else using the “wrong” pronoun.
6. Most of us did not go out and have a bunch of kids that we could not afford to raise.

In fact, much of left wing populism appears to be a transfer of money from those who have achieved to “the unworthy”.

Oh, there are many good reasons for those programs; I happen to believe that wealth trickles up through the economy and NOT down; when the bottom of the economic ladder is better off, the rest of us are are better off. Personally, I want more people to be able to afford to send their kids to my university and to patronize the neighborhood businesses. There is evidence that poor kids that get SNAP do better than those who don’t.

But that is a difficult sell, especially to people like me, who have been raised on The Ant and the Grasshopper.

But there is more from the Vox article quoted above:

When Corbyn took control of Labour leadership last September, UKIP — Britain’s far-right, anti-EU party — had been in decline, netting around 10 percent in the Britain Elects poll aggregator. By the June 2016 Brexit vote over whether to leave the EU, UKIP’s numbers had risen to a little over 15 percent.

Corbyn and Labour publicly supported staying in the EU, but didn’t campaign for it particularly hard. It may not have mattered: Eric Kaufmann, a professor at the University of London who studies populism, looked at what Brexit voters said were the “most important” issues facing the UK. More than 40 percent said immigration; a scant 5 percent said “poverty and inequality.”

According to Kaufmann, this reflects an uncomfortable truth: The kind of voter who’s attracted to the far right just doesn’t care a whole lot about inequality and redistribution, Corbyn’s signature issues. Tacking left to win them over, as Corbyn has, is “a bad idea,” he told me in a phone conversation.

Yes, this is the United States, not the UK. But:

This, they hypothesized, was not an accident. People are only willing to support redistribution if they believe their tax dollars are going to people they can sympathize with. White voters, in other words, don’t want to spend their tax dollars on programs that they think will benefit black or Hispanic people.

The United States is marked by far more racial division than its European peers. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites. “Hostility between races limits support for welfare,” Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote conclude flatly in the paper.

Now, it’s been a decade and a half since this paper was published, so it’s possible the evidence has shifted. I called up Sacerdote to ask him whether any subsequent research has caused him to change his mind. His answer was firmly negative. “It’s almost sad that it’s held up so well,” he told me.

And I see it as being grimmer than this.

Take public education. One would expect teachers to have to have a basic standard of literacy, right? Well, in New York, the public education establishment is about to do away with a literacy test for teachers because…too many minorities are not passing the test!

New York state is poised to scrap a literacy test for people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected to adopt the recommendation of a task force to eliminate the exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Critics of the exam said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms.

Just 46 percent of Hispanic and 41 percent of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

The test was among four assessments for prospective teachers introduced in the 2013-2014 school year.

(note to conservatives who might be laughing: I hope you are equally outraged at attempts to give creationism “equal time” in science curricula).

And so it goes. It is bad enough that we have racism in our population, but then we go and lead with our chin with stupid stuff like this. Guess whose kids those illiterate teachers will be teaching?

Workout notes: home treadmill (snow outside): 10 minute jog, then 50 minutes of “quick walking”; 5 miles in just about 1 hour (maybe 1:00:20 or so).

March 13, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, political/social, politics, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment