blueollie

I am almost sorry I didn’t vote for Trump

Ok, yes, I still consider Donald Trump to be an unqualified amateur who lacks the necessary deportment and humility to be President of the United States.
I fear that his recklessness will get us into a shooting war; that his ham-handedness will wreck our economy and heaven forbid what will happen when we get our first genuine crisis.

But, well, look at what is happening:

1. A Trump supporter in Chicago is whining about being…bullied? Uh, Trump is the quintessential bully. Oh, let me make it clear: I do NOT approve of threats and the like; if I saw someone vandalize their business, I’d report it to the police right away.

And for what it worth, I do business with companies that are run by Republicans all of the time; I go by things like customer service, how I am treated, how they treat their workers, etc.

But if others want to make choices with their dollars or to denounce their choice, well, that is just “freedom”, no? And remember that Trump bullies people all of the time.

2. Many Trump voters are…worried about losing their Obamacare and/or Medicaid. Seriously? Hey, Trump made much of his money via cons and stiffing contractors. And you thought that he’d tell the truth to you? OMG…I am dying with laughter:

An aim of Republican legislation is to reduce private premiums, but Ms. Sines’s son, who along with her other two grown children signed up for Medicaid under the expansion, has been warning that their coverage could be “in trouble,” she said. She cannot believe Mr. Trump would allow that to happen.

“I can’t imagine them not keeping it like it is now,” said Ms. Sines, who runs a group home for the elderly.

Mr. Waltimire said he hoped to return to the police force, and the health benefits it provides, this year. But with no guarantee of good health — he was injured in a fall in 2009 and has had circulatory problems ever since — he also hopes other options remain available.

“It’s kind of hard for me,” he said of having free government coverage. “I’ve always worked all my life. But like my counselor said, sometimes you just have to say thank you and move forward.”

3. And those who live in impoverished areas just KNOW that good jobs are coming back:

“I voted for Trump 100%,” says Barbara Puckett, a 55-year-old mom, who lives in the small and friendly town of Beattyville. “It’s the most hopeful I’ve been in a long time now that he’s in there.”
Trump won 81% of the vote in Beattyville. People here love that Trump doesn’t “sugarcoat” anything. They feel he understands them, even though he’s a billionaire.
“Donald Trump’s got all the money he’ll ever need,” says Steve Mays, judge-executive for the county and life-long Beattyville resident. The 49-year-old says he’s never been more excited about a president than he is now. “Trump will be a president for the common man.” [..]

“If you got a job here in Beattyville, you’re lucky,” says Amber Hayes, a bubbly 25-year-old mom of two, who also voted for Trump. She works at the county courthouse, but is paid by the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP), a form of welfare.
Coal, oil and tobacco made Beattyville a boom town in the 1800s and much of the 1900s. Locals like to bring up the fact that Lee County — where Beattyville is located — was the No. 1 oil-producing county east of the Mississippi at one time.
“Growing up in the ’70s? Yeah, this was the place to be,” says Chuck Caudhill, the general manager of the local paper, The Beattyville Enterprise. He calls the town the “gem of eastern Kentucky.”
Today, the town is a ghost of its former self. The vast majority of Beattyville residents get some form of government aid — 57% of households receive food stamps and 58% get disability payments from Social Security.
“I hope [Trump] don’t take the benefits away, but at the same time, I think that once more jobs come in a lot of people won’t need the benefits,” says Hayes, who currently receives about $500 a month from government assistance. She’s also on Obamacare.

Uh huh. I am sure that businesses are itching to set something up in this town. ROTFLMAO.

Hey if you vote for a known con artist, you are voting to get conned.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, poverty, social/political | | 2 Comments

Elections matter: our post competence government.

My goodness, I started this blog post in the early morning (rounded up articles) and stuff has already changed.

First of all: what does President Trump want to do? (in terms of the big picture) I do not think that he is serious about the national debt. He mentioned eliminating funding for the arts, PBS and the like. Here is a Neil Degrasse Tyson tweet from 2012 (when Gov. Romney wanted to eliminate funding for PBS)

But it really isn’t about the national debt. It is more about tone; “Make America Great Again” means deemphasizing the international and the intellectual for, well, COMMON SENSE. So it is no surprise that anything to do with science is being attacked. So government agencies like the EPA are being ordered to not communicate science to the public (in terms of official agency statements unless it has been cleared by the political arm first. Yes, their scientists can still publish in peer reviewed journals and the like; the policy is better explained here. And NASA has decided to make its sponsored research free to the public.

Still, what a mess.

President Trump seems to be pressing ahead with his ridiculous claims that 3-5 million people voted illegally. The House Oversight Committee Chair doesn’t see evidence of that and neither do state level officials. Of course, President Trump refuses to back down and refuses to acknowledge that something like “being registered in two different states” really doesn’t mean “voted twice”; people move and voter rolls sometimes do not get updated.

And there is this whole “Mexican Wall” thing. Yes, the meeting between the heads of state (US and Mexico) have been cancelled; Trump floated a 20 percent “border tax” and has since walked it back. It does not appear that Trump is getting the best advice from his professionals.

And yet, do not expect this to mean much to the strongest Trump supporters; they have trouble reconciling that they see with their own eyes if it is not favorable to Trump. Here is such an experiment.

January 27, 2017 Posted by | economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Weather aches, hypocrisy and football

Paul Krugman noted that economic conditions are different (no longer zero interest rates..and companies are interested in borrowing and employment is up) and so we should look at deficits differently. Yes, public investment should be done, but not upper end tax breaks. OF COURSE, the right wing is calling him a hypocrite. And OF COURSE, they are wrong.

The idea that the best thing to do often depends on the situation is not a subtle concept. Why do conservatives have so much trouble with it?

Think of it this way: ask ANY football fan “what is the best play for a team to run” and they will tell you: “it depends on: down, distance, field conditions, time in the game, the score, the defense, the strengths and weaknesses of the respective teams, etc. Obviously, 3’rd and goal from the 1 with 1 minute to go in the game is different from 2’nd and 15 from your own 20 in the middle of the second quarter.

Of course, there are different philosophies; some teams are option teams, some are running teams, others are passing teams, and the play call also depends on the philosophy of the team (pass on 3’rd and 1 vs. run on 3’rd and 1). But the call is very situational. No one disputes that.

So why is this hard when it comes to economic policy?

Speaking of hypocrisy, why is hypocrisy bad? After all, if a coach has a good reputation for developing an athlete, I won’t call the coach a hypocrite for being a bad athlete and a workout slacker himself.

The article I linked to offers the following answer: those who say one thing and do another often use their moralizing to bring credit to themselves; a kind of PR. So when they don’t live up to their preaching, we get angry for them for putting up a false front. In the “out of shape coach” case, the coach is NOT billing himself as a good athlete when he coaches you. The moral scold who is themselves immoral IS billing themselves as a moral person, and that is where the resentment comes in.

Weather Yes, at one time, I bought into this “knee aches with weather changes” stuff. But more studies have been done…and I’ve come to understand I’ve run reasonably well during some very rainy days. It turns out there is no solid evidence that weather changes causes joint pain.
runtoremembercrop1

January 14, 2017 Posted by | economics, economy, science, social/political, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Yes, Trump is my President. Maybe some hope here?

Seriously. And I insist that my Presidents treat political opponents with respect (at least public respect), so this is unacceptable:

And I will be a vocal critic. He wants to be President of the United States? Then he has to represent all of us.

Now, there may be a little bit of hope here:

Even Trump has sent mixed signals, telling The New York Times soon after his election that infrastructure wouldn’t be “the core” of his first years in the White House. “We’re going for a lot of things, between taxes, between regulations, between health care replacement,” he said at the time. He added that infrastructure wasn’t a big part of his plan to create jobs, saying, “I think I am doing things that are more important than infrastructure.”

So if his package is going to get a big push, lawmakers expect that it will have to come from Trump himself. “I think it’s going to be driven by the administration,” Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said Wednesday. “At some point they might come and consult with us about what that might look like.”

Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), a Trump transition team member, indicated the same thing Tuesday.

DeFazio suggested Democrats may just bypass their GOP colleagues, saying: “We might have a dialogue with the Trump administration. I don’t think we’re going to have a dialogue with Republican leadership in the House. They’ve closed that door pretty well.”

This isn’t much, but who knows: perhaps the Democrats plus some moderate Republicans (if there are any left) might work with Trump on some sort of stimulus compromise?

And there is something else. Obstructing and “saying no” is pretty east. Coming up with good policy and getting it passed and signed into law is far more difficult Are THESE Republicans up to it? My guess: probably not. They are good at throwing tantrums; I am not sure they are good at anything else.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | economy, republicans, social/political, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An economy based on jobs, self esteem, automation and all that…

Donald Trump was elected, in part, to bring good paying jobs back to America. Sure, the Obama administration has shown some job growth, but, in general, the new jobs simply didn’t pay as well as the jobs shed under the Bush administration. And there are some real questions with regards to Trump’s promises. He has promised faster economic growth which can occur either by making workers more productive (and thereby reducing the need for having as many) OR by increasing the size of the workforce (which will mean more immigration).

The promise of increased automation might lead to an interesting quandary: what if this means that even more well paying blue collar jobs disappear? So assuming that we will still make new human beings (else where is demand going to come from?) this can lead to some serious issue. How can one who doesn’t have the rarer high tech jobs make ends meet? One answer might mean that governments might provide some sort of universal basic income.

Now, of course, this can lead to some issues as well. Here is one big one: in our society, you ARE what you DO, so what if you “do nothing”, even if your basic income needs are met? I can see this being a devastating emotional development for males (though females who have suffered long term job loss have reported self-esteem effects to me). One might even call this a “spiritual crisis“. Now, I don’t agree with some of what the article I linked to says; after all, part of the blame for the rift in our society…perhaps most of it (?) can be laid at the feet of our overglorified “white rural/working class”. The idea that THEY are “real America” and the rest of us are some type of “guests” is bullshit. But, the main point, and yes, Rep. Ryan made this, is that there is some type of dignity that comes with a good job (still...not a good reason to cut safety nets).

So, while there will always be a need for some to work (and I sure hope that I am one of them!), are we approaching a time that goes beyond “everyone has a job” era?

There is a lot to think about here. I probably won’t live to see the “post job” era and I might not want to see the “growing pains” period, if one such era indeed comes.

Now as far as the self esteem thing: yes, people will be drawn to successful people; there is really no way around that. That, IMHO, is harsh reality. You might think of yourself as having all of these wonderful attributes. But ultimately, at least for males, you are what you do. You are your performance; “you are your W/L record” as they like to say in the NFL.

On the other hand, well, one’s success is often tied to factors well beyond one’s talent and one’s willingness to work hard.

Of course, there is society itself. For example if most of one’s day is devoted to gathering food and finding shelter so as to survive another day, one is not going to have the time and resources for “self improvement”. And there is era. Example: Larry Bird is certainly wealthy, and he was known as a hard working basketball player who developed his talents. But what if he were born, say, 80 years ago? It is highly unlikely he would be such a success; professional sports (save baseball) were not that big of a deal then. The ace computer programmer or the successful hedge fund manager would probably not have flourished 100-200 years ago.

So there is the factor of having a “talent suited for the times” as well.

In my case: yes, I am affected by the choices I made. I chose a lower paying, lower stress path for my specialty (pure math rather than applied math or engineering). But I had the type of talent needed for this time; there was a market for college mathematics professors. Yes, I worked hard to exploit my talent, and I was fortunate to have a public university and NSF money to help me along the way. I am doing ok, though that could change in a flash! And I believe that most who are doing ok to “much better than I am” fall into a similar category.

Others have skills that are less marketable in this era, or have had bad luck (e. g. serious illnesses, accidents).

Don’t get me wrong: some don’t have much talent, and some have made some terrible choices, and some of the “good for nothing” crowd (most?) will not accept responsibility for their own actions. I know such people; they are not pleasant to be around. We’ll always have those: I might call them “members of the basket of deplorables”.

But that is hardly everyone who is struggling. And many good people are down on themselves.

Note: I have no answers and make no predictions; many of these ideas are new to me and I have not thought them through.

December 28, 2016 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

America: you’ve been conned (ok, some of you)

Yes, I am doing a slow burn seeing that the “losing” candidate now has 2.8 million MORE votes than the “winning” candidate…a margin of 2 percent. Yes, I know; both major campaign knew the rules and the Trump campaign outdid the Clinton campaign in the key “swing” states…no argument here. I didn’t like it in 2000, but hey, the margin was 500K; less than 1 percent. This is a much more substantial margin. This “rule by the minority” sucks.

But Trump won nevertheless, and baring some sort of coup by rogue Republican electors, he will be President of the United States.

And so comes the agenda.

And the agenda is: repeal the last vestiges of the “New Deal”. Yes, this includes cuts so Social Security (New Deal era) and Medicare (from the 1960s; not a New Deal program of course, but in its spirit).

THAT is the goal, and the Republicans will do just about anything to achieve it.

Deficits? Ah, they will use the “we are broke” as an excuse to “cut entitlements”, though these said deficits don’t matter when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthy. They will use “people like her are living off of your tax dollars” as an excuse to cut safety net programs, even though the irresponsible are not the norm..they are the exception. And thins like SNAP do provide stimulus and can help future generations stay off of public aid.

I can recommend Paul Krugman’s book The Conscience of a Liberal to see the Republican long-term blueprint. This review, while FAR from a cheerleading review, tells you what you can find in this book.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | economy, political/social, politics, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

So Trump won. Why and what now?

goodjoblibtards

Yes, billionare (so he says) ran as a billionare and as a champion of working people …someone who lives in guilded areas and has a record of stiffing those who work for him…ran…and won. Yes, the holdiays are coming up…

To that I say: What. The. Fuck.

Now, yes, there are possible “silver linings” (e. g. the Republicans now have to govern, and they are much better at opposing than they are at governing.)

And yes, we have friends and family that voted for Trump:

But what happened and what can we do better?

For one thing, we can get a better handle on what pitches sell better than others. For one, much of the working class, at least the part of the working class that votes, simply doesn’t care about some of the issues that Democrats champion:

Understand That Working Class Means Middle Class, Not Poor
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.

Progressives have lavished attention on the poor for over a century. That (combined with other factors) led to social programs targeting them. Means-tested programs that help the poor but exclude the middle may keep costs and tax rates lower, but they are a recipe for class conflict. Example: 28.3% of poor families receive child-care subsidies, which are largely nonexistent for the middle class. So my sister-in-law worked full-time for Head Start, providing free child care for poor women while earning so little that she almost couldn’t pay for her own.

And the emphasis on the social issues…just stop it already:

The local chairman feels very strongly now that Clinton could have won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan if she had just kept her eye on economic issues and not gotten distracted by the culture wars.

“Look, I’m as progressive as anybody, okay? But people in the heartland thought the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job,” he complained. “‘Stronger together’ doesn’t get anyone a job.”

At least there are come calls to move away from such identity politics. I thnk it isn’t a moment too soon. Things in these states have changed. Remember that Hillary Clinton is the first Democrat to lose Wisconsin since Walter Mondale!

And the issue about “getting a woman elected” really isn’t that big of a deal to many women:

 Class differences among women are an all but taboo subject. But scholars such as Leslie McCall have found that economic inequality among women is just as large, and has been growing just as fast, as economic inequality among men.This economic divide among women has created one of the most significant fault lines in contemporary feminism. That’s because professional-class women, who have reaped a disproportionate share of feminism’s gains, have dominated the feminist movement, and the social distance between them and their less privileged sisters is wide and growing wider. In the decades since the dawn of the second wave, educated women gained access to high-status jobs, but working-class women experienced declining wages and (because of the rise of divorce and single parenthood among the working class) shouldered an increasingly heavy burden of care. Yet mainstream feminist groups and pundits have consistently stressed the social and cultural issues that are most important to affluent women, while marginalizing the economic concerns of the female masses.

The class divisions between women came to a head in the 2016 election, when Big Feminism failed women, big-time. Mainstream feminists sold women a bill of goods, arguing that the election of a woman president would improve the lot of women as a class. Echoing Sheryl Sandberg’s dubious thesis, they claimed that leadership by women will as a matter of course produce gains for all women—though actually, the social science evidence for this claim is mixed at best. There was also a lot of talk about how having a woman president would “normalize” female power.

The class divisions between women came to a head in the 2016 election, when Big Feminism failed women, big-time.
But if you’re a woman living paycheck to paycheck and worried sick over the ever-diminishing economic prospects for you and your children, you’re unlikely to be heavily invested in whether some lady centimillionaire will shatter the ultimate glass ceiling.

Of course, not all of the issues are economic; we won’t win them all over. But we need to lose this group by a closer margin.

Now wait…yes, I claimed that actual policy did not matter that much in this election. I believe that. I see it this way: Trump says “I am going to bring back your jobs”. That really isn’t a policy statement; that is an issue he is championing. The “how will do do that” is the policy part..and well, that is important, when it comes to governing. Making the voters believe that is your issue is campaigning, and we did not do that.

Oh sure, I agree that Trump promises are somewhere between “highly improbable” to “impossible” to achieve; the clock is not going to be turned back:

he entire Trump movement is about anger, and in truth it is easy to understand why these people are angry. I live in the Rust Belt. I have spent all but a sliver of my life here. Outside of a small number of major cities that have weathered the storm (but have their own serious problems) economically, people live in small towns or minor cities that have declined steadily since 1960. People who have spent long lives in these places remember when things used to be better – when the city wasn’t half-empty, when there were enough jobs, when the jobs that were available didn’t pay squat with terrible benefits, and when the side effects of poverty and neglect hadn’t turned the physical city into a decent setting for a modern post-apocalypse film. They are mad and they have a reason to be mad.

The reality is, the version of their communities that they remember is NEVER coming back. It’s not. It’s gone. It’s never coming back because we cannot recreate the context that allowed it to happen – a post-World War II environment in which the U.S. was the sole industrial power on the planet that wasn’t teetering on collapse and / or reduced to rubble. Eventually the rest of the world caught up, and we felt the beginning of the decline in the 1970s. The embrace of neoliberal trade policy in the Reagan and post-Reagan years only accelerated trends that were already established. All the while the GOP didn’t lift a finger to ameliorate any of this. They offered tax cuts (which would magically create jobs, but didn’t) and helpful reminders that if you’re poor it’s because you don’t work hard enough.

These places are dead and dying because economically there is no longer any reason for them to exist. They were established at a time when their location near resources or now-outdated transportation links made them important. Now, and no politician will ever admit it in public, there simply isn’t any reason for Altoona or Youngstown or Terre Haute to exist anymore. The jobs are never coming back. Nothing is coming back. The Democrats have not given the white Rust Belt working class an answer to their problems because there is no answer. Nothing will resurrect these places, all of which have long since crossed the point of no return in their economic and population decline. Automation, union-busting, outsourcing (much of it within the U.S., to impoverished Southern states) and race-to-the-bottom subsidy wars among state and local governments are ensuring that the situation isn’t about to improve.

And here’s the kicker: Trump didn’t offer any solutions either

So there we are.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

Trying to understand each other is bad politics

I am not opposed to negative political ads. After all, what is to stop a politician from embellishing his/her record or from making unrealistic promises? Heck, even I can promise to cut taxes and increase services.

But the reality is, you can’t win a race without getting your people to the polls; Senator Sanders got a cruel reminder of that in California. The kids flocked to his rallies, but not to the voting booths. That can be a problem for liberals.

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

So what do the politicians do?

Republicans remind their base that Democrats are evil and stupid people. We want to take away money from hard working people and give it to people like this:

Who, in turn, just have more kids and end up in jail:

And, of course, we try to “keep out God” and are attempting to bring in Sharia Law and just let all of these other second rate nations just walk all over us.

But the Democrats remind US that the Republicans are evil and stupid people. Republicans reject science and embrace racism and misogyny; they want a “return to white America” and to turn our country into a theocracy.

So, the political rhetoric we hear isn’t designed to persuade but rather designed to get our people to show up and vote.

And yes, I understand why they do that. But while I love politics and love following it, I regret not having the kind of policy based discussions that I could have with those who see things differently from the way I do.

And, unfortunately, when people try to make a point, too often it is made in a way that attacks rather than invites discussion:

gettofamily

Yes, WalMart: the idea is they pay their workers too little to live on, so the public, in effect, subsidizes them with public aid. And of course, there is corporate tax break and oil subsidies.

Now one might argue that corporations employ people, do some basic research and make things for us. But then, one can also argue that public aid IS stimulus to the economy.

Think of it this way: suppose I got 100,000 dollars. I’d end up looking for a good, safe, long term investment. On the other hand, if 20 poor families got 5000 dollars each, they’d spend it on things (food and other items) thereby putting the money directly into the economy.

But, because we are too busy yelling at the other stupid, evil people, we don’t have this discussion often enough.

June 11, 2016 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, racism, social/political | , | Leave a comment

The Democratic Race gets chippy….

Yes, the news for Hillary Clinton remains good; she maintains a lead in *most* recent national polls and in key primary states, and she still enjoys lead of about 210 pledged delegates.

But Bernie Sanders is still hanging around and the race is getting chippy. One can see that by the tone of the campaign e-mails:

From the Sanders campaign

Ollie –

Hillary Clinton herself just unleashed the first part of the new “disqualify him, defeat him and then they can unify the party later” strategy we told you about. Look at this new headline:

Washington Post: “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president”

Polls in Wisconsin haven’t even been closed for 24 hours, and we’re already seeing the start of the Clinton campaign’s full-on attack before the New York primary. We knew they were getting nervous, but candidly, we didn’t think they would go this negative so quickly. We have to be ready for what comes next.

Contribute $28 to Bernie 2016 right now to help us get ready for the New York primary and be able to fend off whatever the billionaire class throws at us next.

New York is going to be an important state for the Democratic nomination. Bernie was born there, Hillary Clinton moved there, and 247 delegates are at stake on April 19.

We’ve won seven of the last eight contests, and voters clearly side with Bernie. So now the Clinton campaign is moving beyond a discussion of the issues to say Bernie isn’t even qualified to be president.

Meanwhile, Bernie’s going to keep talking about universal health care, fighting climate change, making our economy work for everyone, and taking on our corrupt campaign finance system. Voters seem to like it – and we’re not going to let up now.

From the Clinton campaign:

Ollie —

Last night, after Bernie Sanders won Wisconsin, his campaign manager went on CNN to accuse our team of destroying the Democratic Party to “satisfy the Secretary’s ambition to become President of the United States.”

I. Don’t. Think. So.

Our team has more wins than Bernie’s, more delegates, and over 2 million more votes. We’re building the biggest and by far the most diverse coalition in this election, we’re strengthening the Democratic Party in the states, and we’re ready to do what it takes to win the White House and build a brighter future.

Ambitious? You’re damn right we are. We have big dreams for our country, and we’re going to fight to make them happen — that starts with winning this primary once and for all.

We’re less than two weeks from the huge primary in New York — will you chip in $38 right now to make sure Hillary can win?

If you are wondering why I am on both lists: I gave to the Sanders campaign when I ordered a Sanders t-shirt for my daughter. And I’ve given the Clinton campaign a small amount of money (and ordered shirts) because that is who I support.

The Clinton campaign is suggesting that Sen. Sanders is long on platitudes but short on policy knowledge:

And others have suggested that Sen. Sanders isn’t fully leveling with us about how much his proposed programs will cost:

But here’s the thing: we now have a clear view of Sanders’ positions on two crucial issues, financial reform and health care. And in both cases his positioning is disturbing — not just because it’s politically unrealistic to imagine that we can get the kind of radical overhaul he’s proposing, but also because he takes his own version of cheap shots. Not at people — he really is a fundamentally decent guy — but by going for easy slogans and punting when the going gets tough.

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.

It is the classic battle between “idealism vs. pragmatism”:

As Matt O’Brien rightly said recently, even the incremental changes Hillary Clinton is proposing are very unlikely to get through Congress; the radical changes Bernie Sanders is proposing wouldn’t happen even if Democrats retook the House. O’Brien says that the Democratic primary is “like arguing what’s more real: a magical unicorn or a regular unicorn. In either case, you’re still running on a unicorn platform.” This is, alas, probably true: the platforms of the candidates are better seen as aspirational than as programs at all likely to happen.

But in that case, why not go for the magical unicorn? A couple of reasons.

One is that there are degrees of realism: a program that could be implemented in part if Democrats retake the House might turn out to be a useful guide relatively soon, while a program that requires a political revolution won’t.

Another is that, perhaps inevitably, the Sanders insistence on the need for magical unicorns has led to invocations of economic as well as political magic. I warned a while back that even Sanders wasn’t willing to level with voters about what his ideals would require — that, in particular, he was assuming unrealistic savings in order to gloss over the reality that quite a few middle-class Americans would be net losers from a transition to single payer. I’m not alone in raising such concerns, and not just about the health plan.

And this could matter a lot in a general election. For sure the Republican, whoever he is, will be offering plans that are obvious nonsense; but if the Democrat is also offering a plan that doesn’t add up, you know that the media will portray the situation as symmetric, even if it isn’t. (And it wouldn’t be: whatever is problematic about the Sanders platform, GOP fantasies are in a whole other league.) This is why it’s important to bring up the criticisms of Sanders now, not wait until later — and it’s also why the campaign’s knee-jerk response of attacking the messengers is such a bad one. It might work in the primary, but it definitely won’t work later on.

OK, so I’m not happy with magical unicorns as a campaign strategy. But I understand the problem, which is also the problem Clinton faces: among young people in particular, being a wet blanket is no way to be hugely popular. “No, we can’t — at best, maybe a little” isn’t all that inspiring to people who want uplift. Realistically, the slogan should actually be “They shall not pass”, which actually could be inspiring. But that’s probably for the general.

This poses an interesting problem for Clinton — who will, if nominated, be pretty good at portraying herself as the defender of Obama’s achievements, but needs to get to that point. Can she try to match Sanders in uplift? Probably not, because it would be insincere and come off that way. She’s a veteran of many years of partisan trench warfare, of personal vilification, of seeing how hard positive change is (and yes, some of that applies to me too, although not to remotely the same degree.) She’s not going to be able to promise magic without being obviously false. Sanders, on the other hand, probably believes what he’s saying; the rude awakening still lies ahead.

[…]

But you see the problem. It’s a rough time for progressives who don’t believe in magic.

But there are many who do believe in magic; many of them are the young people supporting Sanders, and, well, implying that they are naive dupes isn’t good politics (even if they ARE). Hillary Clinton is NOT a great campaigner; Sanders is better in this area.

And if you want to see impassioned fireworks with policy substance, check out this 12 minute video where Barney Frank and Robert Reich debate the “too big to fail” issue. Frank repeats that it is the size of indebtedness vs. the size of the assets that is the problem. Reich counters and notes that Sanders’ “I don’t know” answer (re: bank breakup) was in respect to the Fed’s role and power and not about what the President can do. If nothing else, it is an excellent discussion of the issues. Both Sanders and Clinton supporters will enjoy it, I think.

April 7, 2016 Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

A couple of “maybe Trump would be better than Clinton” thoughts …and one reason Trump is doing well…

Workout note: 8.1 mile “run” in 1:31:11 46:37/44:33. Perfect weather; legs were shot from the get go so I kept it easy and attempted to pick it up a bit at the end. Really couldn’t.

Could Trump be better than Clinton?
A couple of “famous” people said “maybe so”, but get a load of their reasoning:

James Webb (former Democratic Senator and Secretary of the Navy):

Former Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton, but he hasn’t ruled out casting his ballot for Donald Trump.

Webb, who briefly flirted with an independent bid before deciding against it, said on Friday morning that the Democratic front-runner wasn’t inspirational.

“I would not vote for Hillary Clinton,” Webb said on MSBNC’s “Morning Joe.”

When asked whether he’d vote for Trump, Webb said he wasn’t closed to the idea. “I’m not sure yet. I don’t know who I’m going to vote for,” he said.

He said Clinton would simply continue President Barack Obama’s policies, but that with Trump, things would change — but he’s not convinced it would be for the better.

“If you’re voting for Donald Trump, you may get something very good or very bad,” Webb said. “If you’re voting for Hillary Clinton, you’re going to be getting the same thing.”

Emphasis mine. Note that I actually agree with Sen. Webb on one thing: Hillary Clinton would be close to a continuation of Barack Obama; it is just that I see that as a good thing. He does not.

Susan Sarandon (“activist”/actress):

The actress and activist has been a powerful surrogate for Sanders on the campaign trail over the past few months, and during an interview with MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes Monday night, she said she doesn’t know if she can bring herself to vote for Clinton if it comes down to it.
“I think, in certain quarters, there’s growing concern that the folks that are into Bernie Sanders have come to despise Hillary Clinton or reject Hillary Clinton and that should she be the nominee, which is as yet undetermined, they will walk away,” Hayes said.
“That’s a legitimate concern,” Sarandon replied. “Because they’re very passionate and principled.”
“But isn’t that crazy?” the host asked. “If you believe in what he believes in?”
“Yeah but she doesn’t,” Sarandon shot back. “She accepted money for all of those people. She doesn’t even want to fight for a $15 minimum wage. So these are people that have not come out before. So why would we think they’re going to come out now for her, you know?”

“All those people”? Ok, IF you are talking about “taking money from Wall Street” and you are talking about the official Clinton campaign, remember that individuals have a limit. Wall Street is in New York and Sec. Clinton represented New York. It would be like President Obama getting a lot of money from people who worked in industries that are based in Illinois.

But look at the two situations: one doesn’t like Clinton because of her being too close to being like Obama; the other doesn’t like her because she isn’t progressive enough.

Why is Trump doing so well anyway? Well, one reason is that he is appealing to the white working class, a group that even the National Review is attacking:

The National Review, a conservative magazine for the Republican elite, recently unleashed an attack on the “white working class”, who they see as the core of Trump’s support.

The first essay, Father Führer, was written by the National Review’s Kevin Williamson, who used his past reporting from places such as Appalachia and the Rust Belt to dissect what he calls “downscale communities”.

He describes them as filled with welfare dependency, drug and alcohol addiction, and family anarchy – and then proclaims:

“Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster, There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. … The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.”

A few days later, another columnist, David French, added:

“Simply put, [white working class] Americans are killing themselves and destroying their families at an alarming rate. No one is making them do it. The economy isn’t putting a bottle in their hand. Immigrants aren’t making them cheat on their wives or snort OxyContin.”

Both suggested the answer to their problems is they need to move. “They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.”

Downscale communities are everywhere in America, not just limited to Appalachia and the Rust Belt – it’s where I have spent much of the past five years documenting poverty and addiction.

I have to laugh. People like William Julius Wilson and Paul Krugman said that this split would eventually happen:

Lately inequality has re-entered the national conversation. Occupy Wall Street gave the issue visibility, while the Congressional Budget Office supplied hard data on the widening income gap. And the myth of a classless society has been exposed: Among rich countries, America stands out as the place where economic and social status is most likely to be inherited.

So you knew what was going to happen next. Suddenly, conservatives are telling us that it’s not really about money; it’s about morals. Never mind wage stagnation and all that, the real problem is the collapse of working-class family values, which is somehow the fault of liberals.

But is it really all about morals? No, it’s mainly about money.

To be fair, the new book at the heart of the conservative pushback, Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” does highlight some striking trends. Among white Americans with a high school education or less, marriage rates and male labor force participation are down, while births out of wedlock are up. Clearly, white working-class society has changed in ways that don’t sound good.

[..]

One more thought: The real winner in this controversy is the distinguished sociologist William Julius Wilson.

Back in 1996, the same year Ms. Himmelfarb was lamenting our moral collapse, Mr. Wilson published “When Work Disappears: The New World of the Urban Poor,” in which he argued that much of the social disruption among African-Americans popularly attributed to collapsing values was actually caused by a lack of blue-collar jobs in urban areas. If he was right, you would expect something similar to happen if another social group — say, working-class whites — experienced a comparable loss of economic opportunity. And so it has.

So we should reject the attempt to divert the national conversation away from soaring inequality toward the alleged moral failings of those Americans being left behind. Traditional values aren’t as crucial as social conservatives would have you believe — and, in any case, the social changes taking place in America’s working class are overwhelmingly the consequence of sharply rising inequality, not its cause.

Gee, maybe the “moron” in this meme is finally catching on.

voterepublican

March 29, 2016 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, running | , , , | Leave a comment