On the Sanders vs. Clinton debate…

I’ve been following this “Sanders vs. Clinton” debate both online and with various friends. Though I have some Clinton supporters as friends, I haven’t really seen the attacks her supporters have made on Sanders supporters. So I won’t comment on them.

I have heard and read what some of the Sanders people say, and they say some interesting things. For one, they are prone to cherry picking the polls that tell them what they want to hear.


I suppose that is a very human thing to do; we do that in, say, relationships all the time. Oh yes, fans of given sports team do that too. :-)

Here Paul Krugman talks about the “electablility” issue. I understand why that is a valid concern.

But it isn’t for me. IF I knew that the Democrat nominee would win the election (and I strongly thought that in 2008) I would still vote for Hillary Clinton this time. Reason: I give a lot of credit for being smart, well rounded, knowledgeable and having political skill. I think that she is more realistic about how our country is. No, even if Sanders wins the Presidency, Mitch McConnell isn’t going to see a massive protest outside of his office (Sanders said something to this effect at a debate; he says that this must happen for the country to get behind his proposals).

So here is Krugman’s piece:

But what happens even more, in my experience, is an intellectual sin whose effects can be just as bad: self-indulgence. By this I mean believing things, and advocating for policies, because you like the story rather than because you have any good evidence that it’s true. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years going after this sort of thing on the right, where things like the claim that Barney Frank somehow caused the financial crisis so often prevail in the teeth of overwhelming evidence. But it can happen on the left, too — which is why, for example, I’m still very cautious about claims that inequality is bad for growth.

On electability, by all means consider the evidence and reach your own conclusions. But do consider the evidence — don’t decide what you want to believe and then make up justifications. The stakes are too high for that, and history will not forgive you.

I say this for the benefit of the neutral reader. Of course, the “true believers” will just say that I am either a sellout or someone who has been bamboozled or duped; that somehow I just don’t have their insight, powers of perception, or am, well, less principled? I have to laugh.

I’ll make this clear: if Sen. Sanders wins the primary, I’ll vote for him and open up my (meager) checkbook for him. I like the man and respect him. And there are many Sanders supporters that I like (even love?) and respect. But this time around, I honestly believe that Hillary Clinton is the better choice.

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics/social | , , , | Leave a comment

Democratic Debate: tough, fair and with substance!

I just finished watching the Sanders vs. Clinton debate. Yes, both candidates stood their ground. Both pushed back against attacks.

This was a nice debate of ideas and approaches: you have the “get the torches and pitchforks” approach from Sanders. For example, he said that you can’t negotiate with Mitch McConnell; McConnell needs to look out the window and see people saying…xyz..”

And you had the “let’s be realistic about what can actually get done approach.

This was a classic “Krugman vs. Reich” type of debate. The moderators (Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow) did very well and kept themselves out of it.

I was proud of our party tonight. Yes, Sanders did well. Yes, Clinton did well.

This was far better than the cliche-fear fest than the Republicans ran.

It ran 2 hours long, and didn’t seem to drag.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social | , , , | Leave a comment

So, what is going to happen in Iowa tomorrow?

Five Thirty Eight: gives Clinton about an 73-78 percent chance. Think of it as a good NBA player taking a free shot.

But caucus states are hard to predict; Sam Wang weighs in.

What about the Republicans? If you wondered why their debates sound like “I’m gonna kick the ass of ISIS” over and over again, it is because Republicans value “perceived strength”. It is interesting reading..and it is hard for me to not feel contempt when I read the write ups on the individuals.

I’ll close with what Paul Krugman says (and he admits that this is just personal opinion)

The appeal of the Sanders campaign, at least to people I know, is that it brings a sense of possibility. For those who were joyful and uplifted on inauguration day 2009, the years that followed have been a vast letdown: American politics got even uglier, policy progress always fell short of dreams. Now comes Sanders — very different in personal style from Obama 2008, but again someone who seems different and offers the hope of transformation. And some people really want to hear that message, and don’t want to hear that they’re being unrealistic.

But there’s something else, which I keep encountering, and which I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice: even among progressives, the two-decade-plus smear campaign against the Clintons has had its effect. I keep being told about terrible things the Clintons did that never actually happened, but were carefully fomented right-wing legends — except I’m hearing them from people on the left. The sense that where there’s smoke there must be fire — when the reality was nothing but Richard Mellon Scaife with a smoke machine — is very much out there, still. […]

On the other hand, that history is, I think, one factor behind a phenomenon we saw in 2008 and will see again this year: there’s a lot more passionate support for Clinton than either Sanders supporters or the news media imagine. There are a lot of Democrats who see her as someone who has been subjected to character assassination, to vicious attacks, on a scale few women and no men in politics have ever encountered — yet she’s still standing, still capable of remarkable grace under fire. If you didn’t see something heroic about her performance in the Benghazi hearing, you’re missing something essential.

And Clinton’s dogged realism, while it doesn’t inspire the same kind of uplift as Sanders’s promise of change, can be inspiring in its own way.

Emphasis mine. I support Clinton for a couple of reasons: one is her intelligence and knowledge of the issues, and the other is her realism. We can’t afford those who peddle fantasy.

February 1, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump and Sanders Supporters..

Why is Trump doing so well, at least in the polls? I still think that this is one of the best explanations (though it is a few months old). And here is one by David Axelrod that complements that:

Today, after seven eventful years, attitudes toward President Obama will shape the selection of his successor.

The Republican base is infuriated by Mr. Obama’s activist view of government and progressive initiatives, from health care reform to immigration, gay rights to climate change.

Beyond specific issues, however, many Republicans view dimly the very qualities that played so well for Mr. Obama in 2008. Deliberation is seen as hesitancy; patience as weakness. His call for tolerance and passionate embrace of America’s growing diversity inflame many in the Republican base, who view with suspicion and anger the rapidly changing demographics of America. The president’s emphasis on diplomacy is viewed as appeasement.
So who among the Republicans is more the antithesis of Mr. Obama than the trash-talking, authoritarian, give-no-quarter Mr. Trump?
His bombast allows no room for nuance or complexity. He proudly extols his intolerance as an assault against “political correctness,” and he vows to bring the world to heel, from Mexico to China to Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Trump has found an audience with Americans disgruntled by the rapid, disorderly change they associate with national decline and their own uncertain prospects. Policies be damned, who better to set things right than the defiant strong man who promises by sheer force of will to make America great again?

Yes, we can? Hell, no!

Just leave it to me, Mr. Trump says. Yes, I can!

Hey, though I am a liberal, even I get tired of nattering sanctimonious social justice warriors running around with their clipboards saying “it is ok to say THIS but not THAT”. So, having someone say: “oh, STFU; I am rich and I don’t care what you think” is a bit refreshing.

And no, I don’t want him anywhere near the nuclear codes, ok? :-)

And now we turn to the Democrats. Some supporters of Senator Sanders are going nuts, attacking people who support Sec. Clinton. Paul Krugman has a few things to say:

Greg Sargent notes that President Obama, in his interview with Glenn Thrush of Politico, essentially supports the Hillary Clinton theory of change over the Bernie Sanders theory:

I think that what Hillary presents is a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives. I don’t want to exaggerate those differences, though, because Hillary is really idealistic and progressive. You’d have to be to be in, you know, the position she’s in now, having fought all the battles she’s fought and, you know, taken so many, you know, slings and arrows from the other side.

He could be wrong, of course. But if you’re a progressive who not only supports Sanders but is furious with anyone skeptical about his insurgency, someone who considers Mike Konczal a minion and me a corrupt crook, you might want to ask why Barack Obama is saying essentially the same things as the progressive Bernie skeptics. And you might want to think hard about why you’re not just sure that you’re right, but sure that anyone who disagrees must be evil.

Now to be fair, those who accuse Clinton supporters of being delusional right wingers or pawns of the oligarchy are often not the sharpest nor the most successful people out there, so one must consider the source.

There is nothing wrong with supporting Senator Sanders. But at times, things have gotten ridiculous.

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sanders and Trump

Yes, Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump and that might well make a difference. This is part of the politics of resentment and Palin’s supporters can relate to the resentment that Trump is preaching:

Since Donald Trump entered the race, one opponent after another has attacked him as not a real conservative. They’ve been right, too! And the same could have been said about Sarah Palin in 2008. Palin knew little and cared less about most of the issues that excited conservative activists and media. She owed her then-sky-high poll numbers in Alaska to an increase in taxes on oil production that she used to fund a $1,200 per person one-time cash payout—a pretty radical deviation from the economic ideology of the Wall Street Journal and the American Enterprise Institute. What defined her was an identity as a “real American”—and her conviction that she was slighted and insulted and persecuted because of this identity.

That’s exactly the same feeling to which Donald Trump speaks, and which has buoyed his campaign. When he’s president, he tells voters, department stores will say “Merry Christmas” again in their advertisements. Probably most of his listeners would know, if they considered it, that the president of the United States does not determine the ad copy for Walmart and Nordstrom’s. They still appreciate the thought: He’s one of us—and he’s standing up for us against all of them—at a time when we feel weak and poor and beleaguered, and they seem more numerous, more dangerous, and more aggressive.

Of course the writer of the above is using the old “not a real conservative” charge. But this is what they’ve been peddling:

My colleague David Brooks issues an anguished plea for the Republican establishment to get its act together. I feel his pain. But I really wonder when he says this:

There’s a silent majority of hopeful, practical, programmatic Republicans.

Not according to the polls: the average of recent polls shows Trump, Cruz, and Carson with the support of roughly two-thirds of likely Republican primary voters, while all the establishment candidates combined draw barely 20 percent. And do we really imagine that any significant fraction of the overwhelmingly dominant blowhard bloc consists of moderate voters who just don’t realize what they would be getting from Trump or Cruz?

Also worth bearing in mind are the kinds of things even establishment candidates say these days. Not one has anything positive to say about what looks increasingly like highly successful diplomacy in the Persian Gulf. And Marco Rubio, the establishment’s last best hope, says he bought a gun to defend his family from ISIS.

The point is that this primary doesn’t look like an aberration, in which the GOP majority is losing its way; it looks like an outbreak of honesty, with the GOP majority finally going for candidates saying what it always believed.

Be careful what you court.

And now to the Democrats: many love Bernie Sanders because he speaks loudly on the issues that many of us are concerned about. But what ARE this plans anyway?

On finance: Sanders has made restoring Glass-Steagal and breaking up the big banks the be-all and end-all of his program. That sounds good, but it’s nowhere near solving the real problems. The core of what went wrong in 2008 was the rise of shadow banking; too big to fail was at best marginal, and as Mike Konczal notes, pushing the big banks out of shadow banking, on its own, could make the problem worse by causing the risky stuff to “migrate elsewhere, often to places where there is less regulatory infrastructure.”

On health care: leave on one side the virtual impossibility of achieving single-payer. Beyond the politics, the Sanders “plan” isn’t just lacking in detail; as Ezra Klein notes, it both promises more comprehensive coverage than Medicare or for that matter single-payer systems in other countries, and assumes huge cost savings that are at best unlikely given that kind of generosity. This lets Sanders claim that he could make it work with much lower middle-class taxes than would probably be needed in practice.

To be harsh but accurate: the Sanders health plan looks a little bit like a standard Republican tax-cut plan, which relies on fantasies about huge supply-side effects to make the numbers supposedly add up. Only a little bit: after all, this is a plan seeking to provide health care, not lavish windfalls on the rich — and single-payer really does save money, whereas there’s no evidence that tax cuts deliver growth. Still, it’s not the kind of brave truth-telling the Sanders campaign pitch might have led you to expect.


January 20, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, republicans | , , , | Leave a comment



As far as last night’s debate, I am not sure that much has changed, except for the fact that now people ARE taking Sanders seriously. And this means that his proposals can’t remain a mere series of political slogans.

January 18, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics | , | Leave a comment

Getting ready for the Democrat Debate: the first one I’ve been interested in

In about 30 minutes the Democratic debate starts. Yes, as stated earlier, Hillary Clinton remains the heavy favorite but there is at least a hint of competition. The Clinton campaign has noticed:

Emphasis mine:

As the Democratic rivals prepare for what is likely to be a contentious televised debate on Sunday night, the Clintons are particularly concerned that her “rational message,” in the words of an aide, is not a fit with a restless Democratic primary electorate. Allies and advisers of the Clintons say Mr. Sanders is clearly connecting with voters through his emotional, inspiring rallying cry that the American economic and political systems are rigged for the wealthy and powerful. By contrast, Mrs. Clinton has laid out an ambitious policy agenda, but more recently has been stressing her electability and questioning the costs of Mr. Sanders’s ideas.


“Hillary is a pragmatic progressive — she’s not an advocate,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, who last week campaigned in Iowa for Mrs. Clinton over his home-state senator Mr. Sanders. “She quietly pulls people together and gets things done. Even though that’s not in vogue right now, I think that’s what voters will want in the end.”

But Mrs. Clinton’s problems are broader than just her message: Opinion polls show that some Democrats and other voters continue to question her trustworthiness and whether she cares about their problems. Recent polls show that her once-formidable lead over Mr. Sanders in Iowa has all but vanished, while he is holding on to a slight lead over her in New Hampshire.

Mrs. Clinton and her team say they always anticipated the race would tighten, with campaign manager Robby Mook telling colleagues last spring that Mr. Sanders would be tough competition. Yet they were not prepared for Mr. Sanders to become so popular with young people and independents, especially women, whom Mrs. Clinton views as a key part of her base.

I agree. It is strange but back in 2008, I preferred Obama, but for a different reason than most others preferred him. I was sizing up two “read every white paper on the subject” candidates and chose the more professorial one. Others liked his charismatic, “Hope and Change” slogan. That wasn’t MY reason.

Now many who were for Obama are now for Sanders…and yet I remain with the “read every white paper” candidate. I want results, not slogans.

A pro-Clinton website article goes on in a similar fashion, adding that Sanders hasn’t fallen under the harsh spotlight as yet:

Bernie Sanders has gotten this far in the 2016 Presidential race largely due what amounts to the rare political free pass. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has been hesitant to point out any of his various weaknesses, or punch holes in his simplistic math-challenged proposals, or delve into the numerous bizarre question marks about his personal life, because she’s feared coming across as mean spirited. The media has been hesitant to punch Sanders out of the race because it benefits from the ratings his unusual campaign brings. And the republicans won’t touch him because they’re praying they get to run against him in the general election. But now Bernie has gotten just far enough that he’s about to be properly vetted for the first time in his political life.

Sanders has almost uniquely benefited from a perfect storm of circumstances in which no one on any side of him has wanted to criticize him, or point out his increasingly obvious weak spots as a candidate. That’s helped him tremendously, because his base largely consists of those who are too politically naive to know if his policies are realistic or not, or if he really has any idea what he’s talking about. When they see that there’s been a near total lack of criticism of him, they take it as a sign that their enthusiasm for him is validated.

Nevermind that Bernie Sanders still has yet to release his long promised health care plan, or that he can’t give straight answers on taxes, or that his understanding of foreign policy is on an elementary school level at best, or that he’s too politically unsavvy to ever figure out how to work with (or work around) congress on any of his proposals. Nevermind that Bernie’s political incompetence would probably cost liberals and democrats most of the gains they worked so hard to achieve during President Obama’s tenure.

And nevermind that Sanders never held a job before the age of forty, and had an illegitimate child, and apparently collected unemployment benefits improperly, and that he admits to having once written and published rape fantasy essay in the Vermont Freeman. These personal issues all occurred decades ago, and may or may not be relevant to his current suitability as President.


Bottom line: Hillary Clinton’s negatives are out there for all to see. So far, those of Bernie Sanders are not. Now, the “rape fantasy essay” charge, while “true”, is a bit ridiculous. It was fiction. A child out of wedlock: maybe I don’t care (so long as he supported it) but, again, I want the playing field to be fair, at least in terms of negatives.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting.

I am actually looking forward to this Democratic debate..for the first time in this cycle.

January 18, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, politics | , , , | Leave a comment

The 2016 election is heating up: Sanders vs. Clinton and D’s vs R’s

The general election It is often claimed that Barack Obama is on the 2016 general election ballot, in a way that George W. Bush was in 2008. If so, what can we infer at the current time?


(from here) The dotted line is the average Gallup approval rating of the past several presidents (back to Truman) at that time in their administration (including the second, if they had one). The light green line is President Obama’s, which is tracking the average very well (48 percent as of yesterday) and the dark green which had the spikes and falls is President W. Bush’s.

So, at least as of now, President Obama is fairly typical of past presidents.

Now you might be hearing “oh no, Obama’s approval rating plunges” but if all you hear about are the plunges (or dips in the market, etc.), you miss the ups and get a false picture.


So, watch for that when the Republicans attack the Democrats.

The Democratic Race The Clinton campaign admit that things are tightening up. What will happen? I don’t know (I am expecting a split between New Hampshire and Iowa) but this is turning into an election.

The Clinton campaign has thrown some punches. One of those is on health care. Where Sen. Sanders wants a single payer plan; a type of “Medicare for all”, the Clinton campaign does correctly point out that means a dismantling of Obamacare (ACA) and…STATES running the system with the federal government stepping in if certain criteria are not met. calls the attacks “misleading”; I call them “nuanced”. This is similar to what the two candidates want in terms of financial institution regulation. Sen. Sanders wants Glass-Steagall to be revived. Sec. Clinton has a different idea as Paul Krugman points out:

For what it’s worth, Mrs. Clinton had the better case. Mr. Sanders has been focused on restoring Glass-Steagall, the rule that separated deposit-taking banks from riskier wheeling and dealing. And repealing Glass-Steagall was indeed a mistake. But it’s not what caused the financial crisis, which arose instead from “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers, which don’t take deposits but can nonetheless wreak havoc when they fail. Mrs. Clinton has laid out a plan to rein in shadow banks; so far, Mr. Sanders hasn’t.

Surf to the Krugman article; he goes on to say that those who think that Sec. Clinton is cozy with Wall Street are behind the times; this may have been true in 2008 but it is no longer true.

Right now, big money is hostile to the Democrats.

Social Divide between Clinton and Sanders
Now THIS is starting to look a bit like 2008. I remember the bitter divide between those “latte sipping college types” and the “blue collar” types; the former being with Obama and the latter being with Clinton.

Well, I am seeing this again, albeit in a different way. I am on the Clinton campaign mailing list because I made a campaign contribution (as has my wife).

So, I get this e-mail message from James Carville:


“Our girl Hillary”??? I can see college feminists grinding their teeth on this one. Yes, I “get it”; this sort of language plays well with the sort of crowd that they want to inspire. But it is a faux pas with the academic crowd that I hang with.

I should also be clear: I had more of a personal investment in Barack Obama; he was from my state and a modern professorial type guy. He is cool, calculating and uses Sunday mornings to work out..and he watches football and basketball when he can. I don’t have such a personal investment with Hillary Clinton.

But it is my opinion that she is smart, sober minded, level headed and knows how hard it will be…as she warned in 2008:

I am glad that I voted for Barack Obama, but she did have a better idea of how hard the Republicans would fight Obama and how uncooperative they would be.

Humor This is a silly, which candidate would you want with you in a bar fight post.

January 16, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, health care, hillary clinton, politics, politics/social | , , , | Leave a comment

Democrats and “activists”: this is how we roll

Workout notes: easy 4 mile walk (Cornstalk course); basically a “day off”. I took Barbara to the bus stop for her trip to O’Hare airport.

Post topic
If you are unfamiliar with Democratic infighting, it is a bit like this:

Yes, right now I am backing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. I feel that she is a better politician than the other candidates; she is a bit more level headed and accepting of expert consensus (example: science of GMOs)

But now, Bernie Sanders is coming under fire from…some “activists”:

Black Twitter has a bone to pick with Bernie Sanders.

The 2016 lefty darling’s seeming unwillingness to talk about race on the campaign trail is not sitting well with some black activists and observers, and a tense moment turned #BernieSoBlack into a dominant trending topic over the weekend.

Confronted Saturday by protesters at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix chanting “Black lives matter!” and “What side are you on?” Sanders was clearly annoyed. “Black lives, of course, matter,” the populist and self-described socialist senator said. “I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity…If you don’t want me to be here, that’s OK. I don’t want to outscream people.”

And that is how we roll. “Activists” get a cause and expect everyone else to put their cause “front and center” and to accept their claims uncritically. No, this is far from the only group (example, example)

Not accepting their claims at face value or not allowing them to jump to the front means that you are: immoral, ignorant, deluded, evil, stupid or possibly all of these. Anything but cheering “Yay team” is betrayal. Never mind many (most?) of the activists are themselves ignorant of the basic facts and data pertaining to their pet cause; what they have instead is an belief in a dogma, energy and enthusiasm.

So, why am I a Democrat? It isn’t because I like activists; for the most part I can’t stand them.

I am in favor of Keynesian economics because there is evidence that it works; supply side economics, whenever it has been tried, has been a failure.
I am in favor of following science. Yes most Democrats accept astronomy, geology and evolution, but when it comes to vaccines, GMO acceptance and energy issues, well, it is a bit mixed.
In terms of moral values, I believe in inclusion as much as practically possible (example: someone of my athletic abilities doesn’t belong in professional sports, and someone of my intellectual abilities shouldn’t be full professor at MIT).

I believe in social liberalism; example, what sort of sex you have with another consenting adult is none of my business.
I believe in freedom of speech, including some speech that I don’t care for (opposed by some liberals)

So the Democratic party is a better fit for my beliefs.

And so it goes.

This coming election season, I’ll be voting the same way as a lot of people that I don’t really care for. :-)

\end rant.

July 24, 2015 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, walking | | Leave a comment

Clinton: better stance on science than Sanders

When it comes to science and GMOs, Hillary Clinton seems to understand science better than Bernie Sanders does.

This is a woo-woo article attacking Hillary Clinton:

Speaking at a conference in San Diego last week for the world’s largest trade organization of biotechnology firms, potential presidintial candidate Hillary Clinton backed GMOs and Big Ag, further displaying her allegiance to the industry in the eyes of sustainable food and organic advocates.

While trumpeting her endorsement of GMO seeds when she served as Secretary of State, Clinton told the crowd that the term “‘genetically modified’ sounds Frankensteinish,” and thus turns people off to GMOs. “Drought resistant sounds really like something you’d want,” she said, encouraging the industry to improve their semantics. “There’s a big gap between the facts and what the perceptions are.”

Sanders, on the other hand:

There was concern among scientists at the FDA in the 1990s that genetically engineered foods could have new and different risks such as hidden allergens, increased plant-toxin levels and the potential to hasten the spread of antibiotic-resistant disease. Those concerns were largely brushed aside. Today, unanswered questions remain. In the United States, resolutions calling for labeling of genetically engineered foods were passed by the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association. In Canada, a landmark independent study by Canadian doctors published in the peer-reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology found that toxin from soil bacterium engineered into corn to kill pests was present in the bloodstream of 93 percent of pregnant women. There is a great need for additional research because there have never been mandatory human clinical trials of genetically engineered crops, no tests for carcinogenicity or harm to fetuses, no long-term testing for human health risks, no requirement for long-term testing on animals, and only limited allergy testing. What this means is that, for all intents and purposes, the long-term health study of genetically engineered food is being done on all of the American people.

Uh, Senator Sanders, G<O foods meets the same tests that organic foods; they just "sound" icky.

I'd go with the science community says rather than what some "activists" say, but hey, that is me. And, evidently, Hillary Clinton. Good for her.

July 23, 2015 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, hillary clinton, science | , , , | 6 Comments


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