blueollie

What’s going on with health care, elections, Democratic Party, etc.

Yes, the Senate Republicans are trying, once again, to strip health care away from millions. Why? Because people like the Koch Brothers said “no more money until you do”. It is really that simple, I think.

The 2016 election: it was perhaps a bit more than “Comey letter plus “she is a woman”” but, well, here are some charts. The conclusion:

What’s most notable beyond that in some ways is all the things that didn’t happen.

Trump did not, for example, discover that the white population was deep down yearning for crude racism. Some people were — he won the GOP primary, after all. But Trump got a slightly smaller share of the white vote than the more normal Mitt Romney. Conversely, whatever black and Latino voters hadn’t already abandoned the GOP during the Obama era weren’t driven away by Trump, who did no worse with these groups than Romney had.

And while Clinton managed to rally educated white women to her side in a way that previous Democrats had not, she was not broadly more appealing to women than previous Democrats. And, in fact, she did worse with noncollege white women than a black man did four years earlier.

Most fundamentally, even though the extraordinary significance of the outcome seems to call out for an equally weighty explanation, it appears in the end to have turned at least as much on trivial matters as profound ones.

Maddening, huh?

And the way forward? This essay points out what is wrong with what the Bern Victims are trying to do:

Sanders has a response to the political question of how to get his ideas through congress. He says that his “political revolution” will increase voter turnout across the board and usher in a wave of new Sanders-agenda-friendly legislators. But this claim doesn’t even make sense. If he believes both Democrats and Republicans are corrupted by money and special interests, is he suggesting his supporters will replace nearly all of congress? Where are these Bernie-friendly congressional candidates going to come from? What is his backup plan if this “revolution” doesn’t pan out? This plan seems more like an afterthought than a coherent strategy. Perhaps because it is an afterthought. Ideology is most important.
Sanders has it completely backwards. He’s trying to quibble over how to spend political capital that he has not yet earned and has no realistic plan of earning. This is the fundamental flaw with his candidacy. Bernie Sanders is a bad solution to the wrong problem. It’s not that Democrats are spending their political capital unwisely — it’s that they don’t have any. By peddling his ideological purity tests, Sanders is instead contributing to the problem by harming the effort to build a bigger Democratic coalition, which is the actual way to increase voter turnout, earn political capital, and advance progressive causes.

And here we go. Oh sure, you can point to this poll or that poll that says that there is “support for single payer” but..well, checking a box in a poll is one thing. PAYING for it is quite another and using an issue to win an election is altogether different.

Workout notes yesterday, weights only, then yoga in the evening.

rotator cuff, hip hikes, toe raises, pull ups (15, 15, 10, 10), bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 5 x 185, incline: 10 x 140, military (dumbbell, standing) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 20 x 40, rows: 3 sets of 10 with 110, then 2 sets of 10 x 50 goblet squats (sill)

Today: 2 mile walk outside, 26:32 for 16 laps in the outer lane (walking), 4 laps on, 2 off: 6:35. 3:53, 6:15, 3:45, 6:01. Just enough to get the heart rate up.

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September 19, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton: not a politician

I’ve watched the back and forth about Hillary Clinton and her book. I’ll have to read the book. But from what I’ve read, it appears that this is classic Hillary Clinton: she looks at an issue (in this case, her election loss), examines the facts and gives an honest answer. But any honest answer (e. g. Russian interference, media holding her and Trump to different standards) will sound like “sour grapes”; it isn’t good politics.

Now, of course, she might be through with politics (a good thing) but a good politician needs to know how to put on a show, when to give details, and when to give a slogan/bumper sticker answer. In my opinion, she does none of those things well.

Now what about “misogyny”? Well, if you are claiming that she lost because she is a woman, are you saying that the Democrats ought to only nominate men? Obama found a way to work through racism and a successful female will have to navigate her challenges as well.

You win elections with the electorate you have, not the one that you wish you had. Dumb people vote. Bigoted people vote. Any candidate who wins will have to win at least a few votes from very unpleasant people.

We Democrats will have to get our act together or Trump will be reelected. I am pessimistic.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

And Democratic politics depress me even more…

Sigh. Now we have Hillary Clinton supporters fighting with Bernie Sanders supporters. Yes, I was “Clinton all the way” this time around, and I think it is joke that anyone takes Sanders seriously for 2020.

And so Hillary Clinton came out with a book that I am interested in. But, of course, she is catching heat from not only the Sanders wing and from Republicans (“sore loser”) but also from many who think that her time as a national politician has passed. Frankly, I belong in the latter camp as well, but I am still interested to read what she has to say about the election.

But some of the Clinton supporters: AAARRRRRGGGHH. They are as unreasonable as some Trump supporters.
Some refuse to entertain the notion that she wasn’t that good from the podium..she was not a natural politician. She didn’t have a sense of when to “slogan it” and when to give a nuanced “lawyer like” answer. She did not have the show-biz skills that Obama and Bill Clinton had/have.

Some refuse to accept the fact that she is deeply unpopular; her approval rating is lower than Donald Trump’s. “Why, her book signings are sold out” they’ll respond. True, but “so what”? 30 percent approval rating still means that a lot of people still like her..and that she will be in demand in many circles.

And then you hear the nonsense about “She doesn’t need permission from men to write her book”..”she won’t be silenced” (that fat book contract is hardly “silencing”). Oh boy. What they appear to mean is that they don’t want her to get criticism. Of course she will get it, and there is nothing her supporters can do about it. And yes, some (most?) of the criticism will be incompetent. But that comes with the territory..as do book reviews, critiques and the like.

I can really do without the “personality cult”. She ran…ran a lack-luster campaign and wasn’t able to overcome Cambridge Analytics, Russian interference (in the form of fake news and document hacks) and the baggage of her long history…as well as her inability to say things like “ok, I screwed up..my fault, PERIOD” Such statements were always followed by “tl;dr” explanations which, while true, didn’t help her politically.

Ironically she got the reputation for being dishonest when in fact, she was the more honest candidate (by this measure). Her personality DID not help her though. Again, she was a poor politician, at least in terms of getting elected.

And do not get me started on Bernie Sanders. For one, he is not a Democrat. For another: he is mostly bluster and empty, “never going to happen” promises. If he is the best we can do for 2020, we deserve to lose again.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Depressing state of politics

Ok, it is no secret that I never considered Donald Trump to be suitable POTUS material. Enough of my countrymen disagreed enough for him to squeak by in the Electoral College though he lost the popular vote by about 3,000,000 votes (and if you start complaining that is a fake statistic because of “illegals voting”, you are too stupid to be reading my blog, so just get lost right now).

Now our rough, tough, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN president is…whining?

Pathetic. But it probably plays to his hard core supporters because, well, many of them are also whiny little victims. A great explanation is here: (and he uses a King Solomon story to help make his point)

Upshot: remember those pitiful “what has happened to my country” whines when President Obama was in office? (if you want to be nauseated, watch at 1:15)

They had an idea of what their country was like (no, it never was that way), and they had a skilled con man running to saying “he would make it great again” by…well, sticking it to the liberals. Sure the real agenda is the same as it always was (tax cuts for the wealthiest among us), and they sold it to the base by, well, attacking people like me.

So that brings me to the Democrats.

And I’ll say it: as evil as I think the elite Republican mission is (the tax cuts for the wealthy above all else), they are better politicians than we are. And their “message to the base” is an easier sale; all one has to do is to cherry pick a few ridiculous college campus incidents to get people fired up about how ridiculous liberals are (like this one)

(for the record: there are crackpot professors…but it has gotten so ridiculous that people who have never set foot in a college classroom see fit to tell me what goes on in colleges and how *I* brainwash students into not working hard, hating American, etc.)

So, what are Democrats about? We are supposed to be about a society that works for all, including the less talented, the disabled, the poor, the sick, those born into tough circumstances, etc.

And guess what? That is a tough sell. The Republicans glorify the rich…and well, most all of us want to be rich, or at least moderately comfortable.

Who wants to be poor, sick, laid off, mentally ill, or disabled?

We Democrats talk about safety nets (e. g. Medicaid) and minimum wages. BUT FEW WANT TO HAVE TO USE SAFETY NETS, TO BE ON MEDICAID OR TO WORK FOR MINIMUM WAGE. These policy issues are tough to rally around and those who would benefit the most vote at low rates. (directly, anyway; the economy does benefit from safety net programs). “The poor” is not that big of a voting block and much of the “working class” really isn’t poor.

Yes, there are people who will never grow much past a minimum wage job and Democratic policies might help them, but no one wants to face up to the fact that they are doomed to be stuck on that rung for life.

And so we get critiques of how well the Democrats are doing (and yes, “pathetic” is accurate). Oh, true, we did win the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 Presidential elections (2004 was the exception) but the EC hurt us in 2000 and really hurt us in 2016.

So we try to critique ourselves, and get, well, pathetic articles like this one. Example:

When the poll came out saying that “Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing” Trump, I thought to myself, ‘If only that were true!’” But they can’t even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party’s core message was, he “hesitated” and then said, “That message is being worked on.”

It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum – as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is – wrote about how people would have to be “crazy” not to “have a reflective disgust” of people who are homeless and mentally ill.

Considering homeless people are also disproportionately black, LGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans.

Uh, I think the latter is just reality. Most people do have at least an internal “yuck” reaction to many of the homeless and mentally ill.

My response is that we need to use our morals and intellect to work past that “yuck” response ..and to realize that our discomfort might be born from fear that we are just a single (or a few) unlucky incidents from being just like that homeless or mentally ill person.

Example: what if I sustain a head injury that harms my ability to even do math, much less teach and research it? Oh sure, there is enough in the bank to have the home free and clear (and pay taxes) but what about that income? I have disability insurance, but times would get tougher, very quickly.

Nevertheless, articles such as the one I quoted attempt to throw cold water on what I think are needed, frank discussions.

And there is the old “Bernie would have won” bullshit. Yes, I am aware of the polls that showed him beating Trump head to head by bigger margins than Clinton was leading by..but you don’t think that the Trump analytics team would have absolutely vaporized Sanders? Please.

And some are saying he is the 2020 front runner? Oh, spare me. Oh yes, Hillary Clinton is not a great campaigner and I think that she is done, just as Al Gore was in 2000. But Bernie Sanders? Nope.

Oh well, this is why I haven’t written much about politics this year. I consider Trump to be dangerously incompetent and temperamentally unsuited for the job. But I consider my party to be politically incompetent.
In short, the Republicans can win elections but cannot govern; the Democrats can govern but suck at elections.

And yes, I think that the extreme political skill (and policy chops) of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama hid many of our party’s weaknesses. How many of these “purple unicorns” (blessed with show business AND policy skills like Pres. C and Pres. O) do we have?

It is just too depressing right now.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, economy, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Are you angry? So what?

I keep seeing this as a theme: Trump says something stupid and Mitch McConnell tries to get a vote on a truly dreadful bill, and people get ANGRY. But so what?

I think that Trump speaks very clearly here:

Yes, on occasion, a Lindsey Graham might stroke his chin and say he is “troubled”…but ultimately he votes for the Trump policy in question.

Yes, there are protests ..

But that isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. How much power do these people have? And those who might feel compassion for them are already NOT voting for members of Congress that back this dreadful “wealthcare bill” (yes, the ACA has problems, but an upper end tax cut won’t fix them).

This strikes me as a situation similar to that of airline customer service. Yes, the airlines don’t care because, well, they don’t have to. Each airline has more or less a monopoly on certain routes, so if you are going to fly…well, you basically HAVE to fly them. (this is one reason I want high speed rail…for competition )

So what are we to do? I really don’t know, but here are my “off the cuff” ideas:

In the short term, how do we pressure the Republicans when we basically have zero leverage (Trump supporters won’t change their minds and Big Money is indifferent to the rest of us)

1. Target the most vulnerable Republicans (as we are doing in the Senate); the ones who will need votes beyond the Republican base.
2. Pressure big business. If we find some billionaire threatening to withhold campaign funds unless the Republicans fall into line, find their biggest investments and boycott them. Our money, put together collectively, does have some clout.

In the long term, we need to win back at least one chamber of Congress and win the 2020 Presidential election.

And even here, I’ve seen two different paths discussed.

1. Seek to win back that small percentage of Trump voters who voted for Obama in 2012. Though there aren’t that many of them, there were just enough of them to tip the scales in 2016.

See this thread:

or

2. Forget about them and focus about exciting our own people and getting them to show up.

Now how do we excite the base? Here is where the “Bernie” vs. “Hillary” war continues to rage.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

Democrats: offer a “yea” vote on AHCA if they remove the tax cuts

Let’s be blunt: the AHCA (aka “Turtlecare”, “Cheetocare”) is nothing more than a repeal of the high end tax hikes on the well-to-do. Period. The rest is to make reconciliation work.

So, let the Democrats in the Senate offer to back the Senate version if The Turtle takes out those tax cuts.

Play chicken with ’em.

Note: I hate The Turtle (aka Sen. McConnell) but he is a sharp politician; evidently he set it up so that wavering Republican Senators can get political cover by suggesting small (but inconsequential) amendments.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , , | Leave a comment

Democratic infighting…

Yes, though we are still smarting the close losses (yes, the 4 special elections were from “safe Republican” districts), one thing that we cannot lose sight of is that “the candidate matters”. People might yell that “a Berniebro would have won” or “this policy” or “that policy” might have one. I am NOT saying that “messaging isn’t important”; it is. But the candidate matters, and politics requires skill, just like other professions. Some people are naturally better at it. And the campaign itself matters.

And when the election is in a “safe Republican” district, often a strong, naturally talented candidate is NOT recruited (who wants to do a fool’s errand?) and IF it turns out that it is a competitive race, well, that is an opportunity lost. This may have happened in Georgia-6, which WAS a tough race for a Democrat.

But of course, Democrats are fighting among themselves.

One issue: should we continue to back Nancy Pelosi to be the Democratic House leader? My thoughts: yes, her feat of getting the ACA passed, IMHO, made her an all time great Speaker of the House. That was quite a feat.

But is her time past? Aside from being good at fundraising, she really hasn’t accomplished that much as the Democratic leader. I think we could argue that it is a time for a change.

BUT, this puts back into the “Bernie vs. Hillary” territory.

There is a large contingent of women who see misogyny everywhere; having anything resembling a rational discussion with some of the more strident members is impossible. Any push-back on their ideas or pointing out an (apparent) flaw will be called “mansplaining”.

I found it is just best to avoid them completely.

Anyway, these types see any movement to get Pelosi to step aside as a type of misogyny. That is not where I am coming from; I am fine with the next House leader being female; in fact, when I say “we need new blood”, I fully expect that this new blood will heavily consist of women and men of color.

Example: though she is a Senator, Sen. Harris might be part of the wave of the future.

But as far as leadership of the House Democrats: our own Cheri Bustos might be a candidate. She might lack the national stature AT THIS TIME, but that can change.

But yeah, there we are in our party: white vs. black, women vs. men, the “middle to upper middle class” vs. the poor. And there are the regional issues: what works in San Francisco and in Vermont might not play in Central Illinois. We have to be flexible and understand that whoever emerges as our candidate in 2020 will NOT be everything everyone wants.

Now who? I like Sen. Warren, but she really lacks that “show-biz” part that I think a national candidate needs to excite people. She is tough, smart, and knows the issues inside and out. But I see her as lacking “charisma from the podium”; that is something that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have.

I think that Sen. Booker has it; I wonder if Sen. Harris has it (maybe?). We shall see.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, social/political | Leave a comment

Moving forward…

Yes, Democrats lost 4 special elections: in Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas and in Montana. They won one in California.

The Republican special elections came about because a GOP Congressman resigned to take a post in the Trump administration, so these were considered “safe Republican seats”. They proved to be very competitive, and the margin in the Georgia and South Carolina races were less than 4 points.

So, these elections were encouraging but frustrating. Yes, there is some finger pointing going on and some Republican taunting.

So, do these results mean anything? And how do we move forward?

Here is what I take away from it:

1. Trump has weakened the enthusiasm of some Republicans, but not nearly the majority of them. And tribal identity remains strong. Running to the left in such districts isn’t going to work, at least in terms of getting some Republican voters or “Republican leaning” voters to switch.

2. Yes, we need to get more people to the polls, but I doubt that Bernie Sanders types will do it. At the House level, we need “district appropriate” candidates, including those who can distance themselves from, say Nancy Pelosi. And yes, we need new blood at the leadership levels.

3. At the national level, we need candidates that excite people, and people often get excited by the personality of the candidates, not by proposed policies or platforms. Note this 2008 video, where Obama supporters didn’t know the basics of his positions.

Identity has a LOT to do with it, and do not trust the voters to know the basics. In general, they don’t.

And public expressions of anger really do not convince anyone to switch, though they might be effective in a primary election. Liberal hatred of Trump is a DESIGN FEATURE, not a bug. Count on the Republicans to say “see: the liberals LOATHE Trump, so he must be doing something right”, even as Trump pushes for laws and policies that will hurt their constituents!

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

How can Democrats do better?

Ok, what do we do in 2018, and in 2020? That is a tough question with no simple answers. These three opinion pieces offer up some ideas, and yes, these pieces offer (sort of) competing ideas, though there is some overlap.

First of all, why did some Obama 2012 voters defect to Trump? One possibility: though they voted Obama in 2012, they still had some resentment toward at least some liberal constituencies (e. g. black people, Muslims, feminists, etc.) But in 2012, the economics won out. In 2016, the “identity” won out. Perhaps that can change in 2020, or even in 2018? Yes, this is a small percentage of voters, but big enough to swing the critical states in 2016.

This makes some sense to me. After all, I don’t like many liberal activists; some of the social justice warriors are, well, loud and clueless. I too get disgusted with the excesses of the political correctness crowd. But, to me, policy wins me over.

Of course, turnout hurt us; many who broadly agree with us don’t show up. The candidates will have to have some show-biz appeal to excite people.

On the other hand, we can’t be too stuck on the current electoral map. After all, I am old enough to remember California and Illinois being Republican states.

Workout notes: 8 mile walk (8.1 Cornstalk course) in 1:58:20 (59:06/59:14) 14:36 pace. It wasn’t much of an effort, though I walked “with purpose”. Cool weather.

June 20, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, walking | | Leave a comment

Comey testimony: where will it lead?

Ok, James Comey testified; you can see the full testimony here:

Meanwhile, the Republicans in the Senate worked to get their version of “repeal Obamacare” ready for “fast tracking” and the House worked on their repeal of Dodd-Frank and passed it.

True: both are a long way from becoming law.

So, what political ramifications will Comey’s testimony have?

IMHO: anyone who thinks that Congress will remove Trump from office is smoking crack, as it needs a House majority (possible after the 2018 midterms…possible) and 2/3 of the Senate. Trump will have to do something drastic, such as start a nuclear war, or raise taxes on the rich.

But there are some good things that can come about:

1. The fallout can gum up the works and keep some very bad legislation from being signed into law.
2. This can help with the 2018 midterms: the GOP members of Congress have to worry about the primary election and those who oppose Trump might get challenged from the right wing. And if they support him too much, it can hurt in the general election. We might gain seats.
3. This can really help in 2020; remember how agonizingly close we were in those key states. It won’t take that much to flip them back.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | 1 Comment