Larry David, Bernie Sanders ….just watch

I am dying.

February 9, 2016 Posted by | political humor, political/social | , , | Leave a comment

2016 Democratic Dust up: Hillary-Bernie and Krugman-Reich

When people who are usually allies start arguing politics, it is *probably* primary season.

Bernie Sanders has made some headway in the polls and is a bona-fide threat to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire (I predict a split) and so his positions are getting some scrutiny.

And yes, the numbers do not add up, as Paul Krugman points out (re: health care):

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.

And look: if the political theory behind supporting Sanders is that the American people will vote for radical change if you’re honest about what’s involved, the campaign’s evident unwillingness to fully confront the issues, its reliance on magic asterisks, very much weakens that claim.

I think it fails on both counts: political feasibility (from where WE are right now) and on the technical details. You might say “tax the rich” and that IS a good thing, but the arithmetic doesn’t add up.

Now people like Krugman are catching heat from some:

One of the differences between right and left in America is that the progressive infrastructure includes a contingent of genuine wonks — commentators on policy who really do make models and crunch numbers, and sometimes come up with answers that aren’t fully predictable from their politics. The list includes Ezra Klein, Jonathan Cohn, Jonathan Chait, Mike Konczal, myself some of the time, and others. Right now the wonk brigade has been weighing in on Bernie Sanders, and is in general not too impressed on either financial reform or health care.

And the response of some — only some — Sanders supporters is disappointing, although I guess predictable given that somewhat similar things happened during the 2008 primary. There will, I guess, always be some people who, having made an emotional commitment to a candidate, can’t accept the proposition that someone might share their values but honestly disagree with the candidate’s approach.

Emphasis mine. I’ve seen some of that in my private life too (NOT from my wife; she supports Hillary Clinton).

And now you have people like Robert Reich claiming that Paul Krugman doesn’t “get it”.

Krugman doesn’t get it. I’ve been in and around Washington for almost fifty years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized, and determined to make it happen.

Political “pragmatism” may require accepting “half loaves” – but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. That’s why the movement must aim high – toward a single-payer universal health, free public higher education, and busting up the biggest banks, for example.

Uh, you can “aim high” but THE NUMBERS HAVE TO ADD UP AND THE PROPOSALS MUST BE HONEST AS TO THE COST. The positions of Sen. Sanders fails on both counts and admitting that is just simple honesty.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | 2016, health care, political/social, politics | , , | Leave a comment

Just a bit more…

I am inching toward being done for the semester. I stayed up too late last night; I got interested in the Republican debate. Interestingly enough, Donald Trump didn’t even know what the “nuclear triad” is, but the Republican base is so angry with the establishment candidates that continually fail to deliver, his simple “I am rich so you can trust that I know how to fix it” message sells. You could also see Rubio and Cruz attacking each other, vying for the “not Trump” slot.

The pundits who said that Trump didn’t do well just don’t get it.

How the market saw things: prior to the debate, Hillary Clinton was 3/4 (.75). Now she is 8/11 (.72727); that is, she is now a better bet. The rest of them: not so good.


Workout notes swimming then weights:

Swimming: 500 warm up, 5 x 50 drill (fins), 50 swim, 5 x 200 on the 4: 3:32, 3:27, 3:29, 3:27, 3:27. 150 back pull, 2 x 25 fly (fins)

That went well; Jason and Mike were there.

Weights: 5 sets of 10 pull ups, rotator cuff
incline press: 10 x 135, 8 x 150, 10 x 140 (good)
military press: standing, 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
abs (2 sets of 12 twist crunches, 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts)
headstand (got compliments and some funny looks)

Back to work…

December 16, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, swimming, weight training | , | Leave a comment

No, Trump is not like Hitler

Oh sure, I do not agree with his claim that we ought to ban Muslims from coming to the US. And there is a part of me that likes it that he doesn’t care about public outcry.

But this is NOT a “Hitler” type thing; Nazi Germany basically used a class resentment against Jews that were in Germany at that time. It was “they are parasites who don’t produce but skim off of your hard work” type thing; the “Final Solution” came later.

This is more like the prejudice that other immigrant groups in the US have faced in the past.

Yes, we’ll get over this. But you tend to see this type of thing during recessions and the like.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | political/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

Resentment of Syrian refugees and Trump: not mere bigotry

I have to admit that I find Donald Trump’s candidacy fascinating. Now before you start saying that I am some sort of closet KKK member and genuine Trump supporter: I support President Obama’s plan for settling a select number of well vetted Syrian refugees and I think that Mr. Trump would be a disaster as president; in fact I support Hillary Clinton.

I also believe that “terrorists from abroad” are far more likely to get into the US illegally or come by, say, a worker permit program. I don’t see a terrorist being patient enough to go through the entire, multi-layered refugee process.

So, what is my post about?

I’ll comment on two things.

1. I can understand where the opposition to these refugees is coming from. And it is my guess that much of it is NOT fear but simple resentment.

Why the resentment? Some of it might be “anything that isn’t Americana isn’t American” attitude. But some of it might be something like this:

remember the news where you say Muslims in the Middle East (and yes, in Syria) chanting “death to America” and other anti-American slogans? Remember the phrase “Great Satan”? Remember the riots in Europe over Danish cartoons? Well, if “they” hate us so much, why in the hell do they now want to come here?

Now, you might cry “foul” and mention that “The Great Satan” came from Shia dominated Iran (Persians, not Arabs) and that I am conflating a bunch of, well, at best, loosely related things. And of course I am. But let’s face it, who has the time to dig in on every single issue? And remember: the Republicans hammer President Obama and Secretary Clinton every time they try to speak with nuance instead of just saying “Islamic fascism” or some other simplistic, “one size fits all even if it doesn’t” phrase. The various terrorists groups belong to different religious factions and have very different, often competing political goals.

2. I can understand a rebellion against “the establishment” and suffocating “political correctness”. Sure, Donald Trump says many outrageous things. But isn’t it fun to see people chasing after Trump with a list of taboos he has broken and for him just to blow them off? Oh sure, there is a method to his madness. And you have a large group of people who have been conditioned to view serious media pronouncements with extreme suspicion.

The Kasich campaign is trying to hit back ..

But the fact is that the Univision reporter was being a jerk and “activists” don’t have the right to disrupt rallies and hold others as a captive audience to their message (though the other people shouldn’t have assaulted him; that was illegal).

Now if you want to talk about the “register Muslims”… would have a point with that one.

But there is the whole point: Trump attacks people that many don’t like and that makes him popular with a certain class and that isn’t surprising.

Oh sure…what is going on is mostly this:


But I CAN understand at least some of the resentment.

November 26, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans | , , | 1 Comment

Democratic Debate Tonight…

Frankly, I am just not that interested. I’ll force myself to watch, but there will be only one viable candidate there. Sen. Sanders has attracted a moonbeam following and as far as the others: why? Personally, I find the Republican debates to be much more fun and interesting.


Compared to the Obama vs. Clinton clashes of the 2007-2008 cycle, this will be a varsity vs. the JV scrimmage.

True, afterward the Berniebots and Sandfleas will be gushing about his performance but anyone can file bills that will go nowhere and deliver stuff that people want to hear.

Here is the one question that I would be interested in hearing the answer to: “How will you work with a hostile, dysfunctional Congress?”

Yes, President Obama was naive; he thought that his running with Republican ideas would get Republican support. But a huge part of the GOP has no interest in governing, at all, unless THEY are in power. Republicans who compromise are seen as being weak by their base and their donors.

October 13, 2015 Posted by | hillary clinton, political/social, republicans | | Leave a comment


Well, I had a bad experience in class last night; I got stuck and was too stubborn to move on. Never again.
There was something simple that I did not see. And yes, this material is new to me, though it isn’t mathematically sophisticated.

On the good side: as I walked back from the gym this morning, I saw the most darling baby bunny hiding under one of the plants. It was adorable. But of course, it was hiding as the predators (hawks, foxes) would find it delicious.

Workout notes
swim first: 500 easy, 5 x 50 drill (fins), 50 free (no fins), 6 x 100 on 2:10 (1:48-1:50 each), 100 fly drill, 100 IM. 1800 yards total, or 1 mile
weights: rotator cuff, 5 x 10 pull ups (hard), 10 x 135, 7 x 170 bench, 6 x 150, 10 x 135 incline press, 3 sets of 10 x 40 standing military, 3 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer machine rows.
Then some yoga; got headstand but wasn’t quite as steady as I’d like.


John Boehner is stepping down?

Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, will resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, throwing Congress into chaos as it tries to avert a government shutdown.

Mr. Boehner, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning.

The Ohio representative struggled from almost the moment he took the speaker’s gavel in 2011 to manage the challenges of divided government and to hold together his fractious and increasingly conservative Republican members.

Evidently, the imbeciles were too much for him to manage.

And front running Donald Trump is boycotting Fox News.

Wow. It seems that our conservatives are in disarray, to say the least. Perhaps the union between the wealthy and the rabid populists is finally starting to end.

And yes, this means that we’ll have another government shutdown.

September 25, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, swimming, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Rages, surges, water, clocks and wasps..

Workout notes: swim, then weights.

Swim: 500 easy (Jason sort of raced me), 5 x (50 drill/free (fins for drill, no fins for free), 5 x 100 on the 2:10 (two in 1:50; rest 1:47-1:49), 2 x 100 IM, side/free

1800 (1 mile) total.

Weights: pull ups (did ok), incline press: 10 x 135, 3 x 160, 3 x 150
rotator cuff
military: 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell standing
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 60 dumbbell
bench press: 10 x 70 dumbbell

yoga: 10 minutes worth; did some headstand.

It was ok, given that I was fatigued from yesterday.

The Fed and interest rates: a certain collection of bankers benefit when the rates are raised.

Science: wasps can indirectly alter caterpillar DNA. The interaction is complicated and there are still open questions.

Election 2016: If there is a “Sanders surge”, polls aren’t picking it up. I believe that sometimes people confuse intensity of support for breadth.

Clocks, etc.
In the clock case: no, the kid shouldn’t have been arrested nor suspended. In fact, we should not have ever known about it. But as far as the clock itself: probably not much profound there, other than a kid’s curiosity.

Note: I did similar stuff at that age; I remember disassembling a small radio to try to use its parts in other ways. What I ended up doing is using the earphone jack to power an external speaker…not exactly a huge feat of electrical engineering. :-)

September 21, 2015 Posted by | economics, economy, evolution, political/social, politics, science, social/political, swimming, weight training | | Leave a comment

And I double over with laughter at the store

True story: I was at the checkout counter at my local grocery store and my eye caught the magazine rack across the exit aisle. I doubled over in laughter.
The cashier said “you must have been looking at the Newsweek cover” and indeed I was:

newsweek trump

August 17, 2015 Posted by | political humor, political/social, politics | , | Leave a comment

And I let it bother me…

Higher Education Increasingly, it isn’t about education anymore.

Paul Krugman: bad ideas don’t deserve respect. I think that there is a reason that I like Krugman, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and yes, Donald Trump. They have no patience for bad ideas, or at least in Trump’s case, ideas that he considers “bad”.

And speaking of “The Donald”, you can read about why some like him here and here. Oh, there is the smug liberal spin on it:

The controversy following Donald Trump’s comments about Megyn Kelly may have hurt him among some GOP insiders, but, according to post-debate polling, it hasn’t cut into his popular appeal with Republican voters. Why not?

The mystery of Trump’s hold on Republican voters is no mystery. As many, including me, have said, his xenophobia and misogyny have long been orthodoxy among the party’s base. Just look at the Fox News debate itself. Though Kelly called Trump out on his history of misogynistic insults, none of his nine opponents onstage took exception to his crude attack on Rosie O’Donnell or to the laughter and cheers it aroused from the audience.

But I think that Bill Maher might be closer to the truth here:

I’ll explain it this way: one can support women’s rights, without thinking that women are so tender that every public insult of a woman should be called out as “misogyny”. For all I know, Mr. Trump may have well called Christ Christie “fat”. And it isn’t as if Rosie O’Donnell didn’t issue her own insults.

That is how liberal “social justice warriors” roll: they have a code and think that people should always have to answer TO THEM; that THEIR issues are the ones that should be “front and center”, at all times. You sometimes see this on college campuses:

I’m familiar with freshman “orientation sessions”, a lot of which are frankly ludicrous, trying to shame and bully new students into a “politically correct” frame of mind, one that comports with the college’s need to eliminate anything that might considered offensive…

(I recommend reading the whole article)

Frankly, it is refreshing to here someone tell such people to “go jump in the lake”.

As far as the rest, Mr. Trump might have some stupid views, but is he really that different from the rest of his party?

This was, according to many commentators, going to be the election cycle Republicans got to show off their “deep bench.” The race for the nomination would include experienced governors like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, fresh thinkers like Rand Paul, and attractive new players like Marco Rubio. Instead, however, Donald Trump leads the field by a wide margin. What happened?

The answer, according to many of those who didn’t see it coming, is gullibility: People can’t tell the difference between someone who sounds as if he knows what he’s talking about and someone who is actually serious about the issues. And for sure there’s a lot of gullibility out there. But if you ask me, the pundits have been at least as gullible as the public, and still are.

For while it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals. If you pay attention to what any one of them is actually saying, as opposed to how he says it, you discover incoherence and extremism every bit as bad as anything Mr. Trump has to offer. And that’s not an accident: Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party.

For example, Mr. Trump’s economic views, a sort of mishmash of standard conservative talking points and protectionism, are definitely confused. But is that any worse than Jeb Bush’s deep voodoo, his claim that he could double the underlying growth rate of the American economy? And Mr. Bush’s credibility isn’t helped by his evidence for that claim: the relatively rapid growth Florida experienced during the immense housing bubble that coincided with his time as governor.

(there is much more in this article, including immigration issues, “birthers”, etc.

And it is unclear that any Republican which gives a coherent discussion of economics even stands a chance. Listen to an official in the first Bush administration.

All that being said: I still think that Mr. Trump is benefiting from the race having so many candidates; my guess is that he is near his ceiling right now.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment


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