More head scratching….

This is just nuts: Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is now about 2.5 million, and her percentage lead is 1.9 percent? And yes, the Democrat has won the popular vote in 6 of the previous 7 elections, though the Republican won the Electoral College thrice.

Nevertheless, our elections, for now, are decided by the Electoral College. Somehow, it makes sense to spend attention to a few “swing states” as opposed to where more people live? That no longer makes sense to me.

But Trump won. Oh, there will be consequences; for example many will lose their health insurance.

So, where do we go from here? I completely agree with this:

As Democrats contemplate their losses in November’s election, most have settled on a solution. They believe that the party needs more economically populist policies. But this misses an essential reality: Most people don’t vote on the basis of policies.

There is excellent research by political scientists and psychologists on why people vote. The conclusion is clear. As Gabriel Lenz writes in his landmark 2012 book, “Follow the Leader?”, “Voters don’t choose between politicians based on policy stances; rather, voters appear to adopt the policies that their favorite politicians prefer.”

And how do voters pick their favorite politicians? It is a gut decision that is more emotional than rational. Mostly it hinges on whether they identify with a politician in the social and psychological senses.

In an important recent book, “Democracy for Realists,” Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels show that “group attachments” and “social identities” are key to understanding voting behavior. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt reinforces this view with mountains of research showing that people choose their political views based on their tribal attachments.

I agree with this. However these sorts of solutions are problematic:

Barack Obama is a singularly charismatic politician. But he might have made Democrats forget that the three Democrats elected to the White House before his election came from the rural South. They knew that world; they were of it.

With these insights in mind, on the campaign trail, perhaps Clinton and the Democrats should have rallied not with Beyonce and Jay Z but rather with George Strait. And if you don’t know who he is, that’s part of the problem.

I agree that Barack Obama is so good of a politician that he may have masked problems that Democrats have. But as far as Beyonce and Jay Z: remember that a Democrat cannot not win without the base. True, they can’t win with ONLY their base, as we found out; we do need at least a few votes beyond our base. But you can’t disrespect your base either.

It is a tricky line to walk.

Workout notes: yesterday, weights only (day after whole blood donation): pull ups (5 sets of 10), rotator cuff, incline bench: 10 x 135, 5 x 160, 10 x 150, military: 10 x 50 dumbbell standing, 20 x 50 dumbbell seated, supported, 10 x 200 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 50 single armed rows, headstand, 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches.

today: run only; 5.1 mile shuffle on my hilly course; hills were a chore.

December 2, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, running, social/political, Uncategorized, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Why “normalizing Trump” might be a good idea (and what that means)

I was struck by memes of the following variety:


I found myself shaking my head. (yes, I am aware of the argument that Trump was merely mocking a generic clueless reporter and not lampooning the disability of a specific reporter)

But, let’s assume that he was mocking a specific reporter who has one arm with a curled up wrist.

Now some might find that funny, and many might find that rude and boorish. But disqualifying? (*)

Think of it this way: suppose that President Elect Trump were to “bring back” good job, establish 5 percent growth in our GDP, bring up median wages to new heights, keep us at peace, repair our infrastructure, see increases in longevity, reduce poverty and get everyone decent health insurance (even institute a good single payer system)?

If that happened, I think that he would be “reelected” (sort of) in a landslide, no matter how boorish his personal mannerisms were. Many people are willing to overlook such things if the rest is good.

Think about it: suppose you had a rare condition that most surgeons could not fix, but there is this one extraordinary one who had a 95 percent cure rate. But he was going to be let go by the hospital because, say, he made a racial slur on Facebook. And so, the only ones left to operate were those who had, say, a 5 percent success rate. How would you feel?

So, for me, as much as I don’t like Mr. Trump, the real issue is that he is bringing incompetent people to his administration and that he is going to double down on trickle down economics.

And THAT is why I claim that we should focus on failed policies (provided, of course, they fail):

One is to what extent we should regard Trump as deliberately using social media controversies to distract attention from other issues. The other is to what extent political actors should be pressured to not “normalize” Trump — remaining focused on what is outlandish, offensive, and bizarre about him rather than doing boring things like writing about his humdrum pick for transportation secretary.

Normalization, in this context, is typically cast as a form of complicity with Trump in which the highest possible premium is placed on maintaining a rigid state of alert and warning people that he is not just another politician whom you may or may not agree with on the issues.

But several students of authoritarian populist movements abroad have a different message. To beat Trump, what his opponents need to do is practice ordinary humdrum politics. Populists in office thrive on a circus-like atmosphere that casts the populist leader as persecuted by media and political elites who are obsessed with his uncouth behavior while he is busy doing the people’s work. To beat Trump, progressives will need to do as much as they can to get American politics out of reality show mode.

Trump genuinely does pose threats to the integrity of American institutions and political norms. But he does so largely because his nascent administration is sustained by support from the institutional Republican Party and its standard business and interest group supporters. Alongside the wacky tweets and personal feuds, Trump is pursuing a policy agenda whose implications are overwhelmingly favorable to rich people and business owners. His opponents need to talk about this policy agenda, and they need to develop their own alternative agenda and make the case that it will better serve the needs of average people. And to do that, they need to get out of the habit of being reflexively baited into tweet-based arguments that happen on the terrain of Trump’s choosing and serve to endlessly reinscribe the narrative of a champion of the working class surrounded by media vipers.

That is what happened in other countries that have elected these sort of wacky authoritarian populists; they have been stopped by appeals to policy. It really should not be that hard.


And seriously, how did these ads work?

(*) For the record, I find having proper deportment to be a prerequisite to be President of the United States, I don’t want an easily agitated, easily baited, hothead in charge of our military.

December 1, 2016 Posted by | economics, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , | 3 Comments

The Deplorables are going to be deplorable…

On Facebook, a conservative complained about Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment (which really only referred to the most extreme Trump supporters; she should have said “some” rather than “half”. Evidently this remark sent some “undecided” voters over the edge to Trump.

So, how is this going to work for them? Well, some of those benefiting from the “head of household” income tax deduction could see that go by the wayside and see their own taxes go up. And those who are benefiting from Obamacare could see that go away as well. Hey, no skin off of my nose, right?

Ok, ok, since I think that our economy is actually stimulated from the bottom, I don’t want to see the lower income people, including those who voted for Trump, get screwed over as that will put a drag on our economy.

November 29, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s deplorable strategy: lie and distract


Yes, these are genuine tweets. That will be his MO to distract: tweet outright lies. Hell, almost half of the public will believe him, and the media will not call him out on it.

And almost half of the voting public will believe him.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

I was clueless…so was Paul Krugman who now admits it…

Yes, I know, I read the warnings. I knew that there was a very real possibility that we might see a decent sized popular vote victory/Electoral College loss by Hillary Clinton. But I chose to mostly focus on the betting line leads and the fact that most models had her somewhere between a 70-90 percent favorite.

And to be honest, Trump’s message and strategy didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

There was this: America, on the whole, is not the GOP. I really thought that Trump’s crudeness and vulgar rhetoric would turn many people off.

Yes, some of Trump’s statements, mannerisms and the like were seen as, well, not good, but not disqualifying either. I had forgotten that for the past 25 years, I have worked in a college environment along with snowflake students and even snowflakier faculty. In such an environment, getting offended can be seen as a virtue, and there was a culture to see just how sensitive one could be. The more easily offended one was, the more virtuous one is.

I had forgotten about the more socially conservative environment in which I grew up (Air Force bases, Texas high school, football, the Naval Academy then the Navy) and in such places, people did tell racist and sexist jokes, “in private”. I figured “that was long ago; the country has moved on”…but maybe not?

Now one might say: “hey wait a minute; aren’t conservatives themselves a super sensitive lot?” Of course they are; notice how they lost their minds over the “basket of deplorables” remark. But they are sensitive if they feel that you are looking down ON THEM. Looking down on others? Well, “suck it up, buttercup”. On the other hand, liberals are quick to bleed over slights to people who aren’t like them (e. g. gays, transgendered people, Muslims, etc.). Remember that in 2008, the Clinton campaign attacked us all over the place.

Ironically, the very voters that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary are the ones that deserted her in 2016.

But still, I was fooled by something else. I read the following by Paul Krugman:

But when Mr. Trump portrays America’s cities as hellholes of runaway crime and social collapse, what on earth is he talking about? Urban life is one of the things that has gone right with America. In fact, it has gone so right that those of us who remember the bad old days still find it hard to believe.

Let’s talk specifically about violent crime. Consider, in particular, the murder rate, arguably the most solid indicator for long-run comparisons because there’s no ambiguity about definitions. Homicides did shoot up between the early 1960s and the 1980s, and images of a future dystopia — think “Escape From New York” (1981) or Blade Runner (1982) — became a staple of popular culture. Conservative writers assured us that soaring crime was the inevitable result of a collapse in traditional values and that things would get even worse unless those values were restored.

But then a funny thing happened: The murder rate began falling, and falling, and falling. By 2014 it was all the way back down to where it was half a century earlier. There was some rise in 2015, but so far, at least, it’s barely a blip in the long-run picture.

Basically, American cities are as safe as they’ve ever been. Nobody is completely sure why crime has plunged, but the point is that the nightmare landscape of the Republican candidate’s rhetoric — call it Trump’s hellhole? — bears no resemblance to reality.

And we’re not just talking about statistics here; we’re also talking about lived experience. Fear of crime hasn’t disappeared from American life — today’s New York is incredibly safe by historical standards, yet I still wouldn’t walk around some areas at 3 a.m. But fear clearly plays a much diminished role now in daily life.

So what is all of this about? The same thing everything in the Trump campaign is about: race.

And he went on:

If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park. There are people of all ages, and, yes, all races exercising, strolling hand in hand, playing with their dogs, kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees. There are a few homeless people, but the overall atmosphere is friendly – New Yorkers tend to be rushed, but they’re not nasty – and, well, nice.

Yes, the Upper West Side is affluent. But still, I’ve seen New York over the decades, and it has never been as pleasant, as safe in feel, as it is now. And this is the big bad city!

The point is that lived experience confirms what the statistics say: crime hasn’t been lower, society hasn’t been safer, in generations. Which, of course, leads us to the Trump gambit from last night. Can he raise 1968-type fears in a country that looks, feels, and is nothing like it was back then?

I wish I were sure that he can’t. A lot of Republican-leaning voters apparently believe that the economy is terrible in the teeth of their own experience – that the pretty good job market they see is a local aberration. And “crime” may not really mean “crime” – it may just be code for “brown people.”

My guess is that it won’t work,

And though I am anything but affluent, this is what I saw. I frequently run in a very pleasant partk, regularly attend minor league baseball games in a sparkling stadium, walk along the river and sometimes use a nice public health club (which has subsidies for the poor). Often I find myself thinking “hey, this is pretty nice”. I’ve seen similar things in other locations. So I found myself agreeing with Paul Krugman, though others accused him (and me?) of “living in a bubble“.

And yet Trump won the Electoral College, though he will lose the popular vote by around 2 million votes (two frigging MILLION votes) and by about 1.5 percent (CNN has it at 1.8 million and 1.4 percent…and the gap is growing)

And so I wonder about the models and about the does Krugman:

Consider eastern Kentucky, a very white area which has benefited enormously from Obama-era initiatives. Take, in particular, the case of Clay County, which the Times declared a few years ago to be the hardest place in America to live. It’s still very hard, but at least most of its residents now have health insurance: Independent estimates say that the uninsured rate fell from 27 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2016. That’s the effect of the Affordable Care Act, which Mrs. Clinton promised to preserve and extend but Mr. Trump promised to kill.

Mr. Trump received 87 percent of Clay County’s vote.

Now, you might say that health insurance is one thing, but what people want are good jobs. Eastern Kentucky used to be coal country, and Mr. Trump, unlike Mrs. Clinton, promised to bring the coal jobs back. (So much for the idea that Democrats need a candidate who will stand up to the fossil fuels industry.) But it’s a nonsensical promise.

Where did Appalachia’s coal mining jobs go? They weren’t lost to unfair competition from China or Mexico. What happened instead was, first, a decades-long erosion as U.S. coal production shifted from underground mining to strip mining and mountaintop removal, which require many fewer workers: Coal employment peaked in 1979, fell rapidly during the Reagan years, and was down more than half by 2007. A further plunge came in recent years thanks to fracking. None of this is reversible.

Is the case of former coal country exceptional? Not really. Unlike the decline in coal, some of the long-term decline in manufacturing employment can be attributed to rising trade deficits, but even there it’s a fairly small fraction of the story. Nobody can credibly promise to bring the old jobs back; what you can promise — and Mrs. Clinton did — are things like guaranteed health care and higher minimum wages. But working-class whites overwhelmingly voted for politicians who promise to destroy those gains.

So what happened here? Part of the answer may be that Mr. Trump had no problems with telling lies about what he could accomplish. If so, there may be a backlash when the coal and manufacturing jobs don’t come back, while health insurance disappears.

But maybe not. Maybe a Trump administration can keep its supporters on board, not by improving their lives, but by feeding their sense of resentment.

For let’s be serious here: You can’t explain the votes of places like Clay County as a response to disagreements about trade policy. The only way to make sense of what happened is to see the vote as an expression of, well, identity politics — some combination of white resentment at what voters see as favoritism toward nonwhites (even though it isn’t) and anger on the part of the less educated at liberal elites whom they imagine look down on them.

To be honest, I don’t fully understand this resentment. In particular, I don’t know why imagined liberal disdain inspires so much more anger than the very real disdain of conservatives who see the poverty of places like eastern Kentucky as a sign of the personal and moral inadequacy of their residents.

(emphasis: mine).

My guess is that people really need someone to feel superior to. I remember in the military, many enlisted saw officers, especially the younger ones, as privileged sissy college boys who wouldn’t last in their world. So, you might, deep down, realize that your life will never change for the better, no matter who you vote for (and this sentiment is not unique to one class of people). But hey, you can always give “the middle finger” to those limp wristed morons who lack common sense…who tell you that you are a bigot because you don’t want women to share a locker room with people with male genitalia among other irrelevant stuff.

Add to that: many working class voters are NOT poor; things like minimum wage and other issues championed by the populist wing of the Democratic party really aren’t relevant to you.

Now Trump doesn’t have solutions to these issues; in fact, it is entirely possible that no solution exists.

But that doesn’t matter; that is what Trump ran on in enough key areas to tip a few formerly Democratic states his way. Hence we lost Wisconsin for the first time since 1984 and Pennsylvania for the first time since 1988, albeit by agonizingly small margins.

I really don’t know jack, do I?

November 25, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

One thing different about this election…

So often, Presidential elections break down by income. Not so much this time (via CNN)


Now about education: you can see what the map looks like by “college” vs. “non-college”

Those with college degrees (via Survey Monkey; you can check out the map with various demographic groups here)


Versus “no college”:


This also explains my “bubble” as the vast majority of people I routinely interact with are either college students or people with advanced degrees.

The details are further laid out here.

November 24, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

So Trump won. Why and what now?


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

Post three: voting and vote counting issues. We lost, but issues remain

Yes, we’ve heard this before. In 2004, the exit polls were off by beyond the margin of error, and we heard cries that the “election was stolen”. Now I am hearing it again after another loss.

I’ve talked about these issues after other elections, and I’ve had some conversations on the social media about these issues (Twitter and Facebook). So, while in an ideal world, my credentials and beliefs should not matter when it comes to the arguments that I present, they in fact do. So, I’ll state the following:

1. I am a mathematician and not a statistician, and I have no special expertise on political polling and ballot counting. I do understand statistics well enough to competently teach the math major probability and statistics courses though; I’ve taught this two semester sequence a number of times.

2. I believe, in fact, have little reason to doubt, that Trump just flat won the election, period. So any of my thoughts are aimed at making elections more fair and transparent and NOT overturning the results of this election; I consider such efforts to be a fool’s errand. And yes, I voted for Hillary Clinton and was sickened that Donald Trump won. And it burns me that it appears that the “loser” of this election got somewhere around 2 million more votes than the “winner”. But yes, both campaigns knew the rules and..I would assume, campaigned that way. There is evidence that Trump campaigned that way anyway…not so sure about the Clinton campaign…don’t get me started. Grrrr….

Now there are issues concerning this election, and frankly, most all elections in the United States.

We have the issue of voter disenfranchisement. We sometimes hear of long voting lines discouraging voters, or early voting hours being restricted.

Yes, those are serious issues which should be resolved.

But, what about the actual voted and the counting of those votes?

The polls and models being off
Yes, most of the models I saw forecast a Clinton victory, but her lead was far from safe.
Of the models I followed, only one said “no way Trump could win” and one said “unlikely”; even Upshot likened Trump’s chances of winning to those of an NFL kicker shanking a medium range field goal.


And after the fact: yes, Trump overperformed the polls…but he overperformed them the most in the red states! (states he was expected to win).

What about the exit polls?
The exit polls, as conducted in the United States, are more designed to study voter motives and things like “when did you decide on your choice” than they are to predict; in fact, their track record of prediction of close elections isn’t so hot. The article I linked to has quite a bit to study, especially if one follows the article’s links.

What about election vote tampering?

Yes, the Clinton campaign has been urged to seek recounts in some key states though the activists admitted that there is no evidence that hacking occurred. Yes, there were some irregularities in a Wisconsin county but no evidence than this was a mere outlier error.

Yes, there was a way to do such hacking; I can recommend this article by a computer science professor who is urging recounts for the purpose of auditing the election process. From this article:

Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don’t believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other. The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence — paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts.

Others are saying similar things: a recount won’t change the outcome of the election, but it might be a confidence boosting audit..or perhaps a problem resolving audit.

The best explanation of the data we say is that, well, Trump won.

What about foreign influence of our election process?

This is a catch-all, but a nice collection of credible scholars is urging a Congressional investigation. They say, among other things:

We emphasize that nothing in our collective call for an investigation is meant to question the outcome of the November election. We simply know that turning a blind eye to such involvement would send a global green light to hackers and others intent on undermining our democratic institutions.

Nor do we prejudge the outcome of an investigation. As scholars, we give priority to evidence. The evidence made available in an investigation might show that foreign powers have played an important role, and it might show that such a role was negligible. At this juncture, we can only say that existing reports are plausible enough and publicly expressed concerns are significant enough to warrant Congress’s full attention and swift action.

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

Post two: my election RANT

Yes, I am going to have more factual things to say in subsequent posts. But this is more about getting stuff off of my chest.

Yes, I went through this before, back in 2004. I had worked as a volunteer for the Kerry campaign and I was just crushed when Bush won the election. I wanted to cry; it was reasonably close and I thought that we had a shot. And yes, I was angry with the country. Yes, this angry. I felt that we had a President who lied (or was duped) us into a war, hurt our economy and yet was reelected….because people were scared.

If I ever wanted to quit the United States, it was then.

And now, another loss. Yes, I’ve heard about “well, maybe the vote was rigged”. I’ll deal with that in a subsequent post. Let’s just say that I see no reason to doubt that Trump’s victor in the Electoral College, which is all that matters, was authentic. But that is for another post.

I’ve heard that “yes, Clinton got 2 million more votes” (it was 1.6 million the last time I checked CNN; that was about a 1.2 percent lead). But yes, the campaigns knew the rules.

Yes, I saw Trump as a rank amateur; someone who lacks the deportment and temperament to be President of the United States. I see him, first and foremost, as a highly skilled con man.

But this time, I am angry…with liberals and the Democrats.

This election was quite winnable. But you had an overconfident candidate not even campaigning in some important states. Warnings that Clinton’s electoral college lead was shaky were ignored (here and here) We had Trump talking about “bringing back good jobs” (empty promises to be sure, but that is what he was talking about), and our team? Well, we were busy making big deals out of things that just aren’t on the radar screens of many voters.

Yes, didn’t we have things like “minimum wage” on our side? Guess what: most who vote don’t give a damn about the “minimum wage”; it really doesn’t apply to them. The poor: largely don’t vote.

Oh, I am sorry that Loretta doesn’t get to shower in the locker room of “her” choice. I’m sorry that someone who stole a car and attempted to avoid police was shot and killed. I am sorry that Trump called some women “fat pigs”.

Yes, I agree that when it comes to drafting policy some of these issues need to be dealt with. But when it comes to campaigning: most of the electorate doesn’t give a crap about all of the stuff that bleeds all over my Facebook and Twitter feed. You aren’t going to win elections that way. As for that army of angry women who were going to take Trump down: yeah, right:



Yeah, those women really taught Trump a lesson, didn’t they.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: show biz wins elections, and Hillary Clinton sucks at that. Add to that a poor strategic campaign, and we find ourselves with close to a 2 million vote lead ..and an Electoral College loss.

We Democrats and liberals really are a clueless, pathetic bunch.

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

Trump’s win and liberal political correctness

I am careful to say “liberal political correctness” as much of political correctness is of the right wing variety. The more benign examples people losing their minds over athletes taking a knee during the national anthem or people upset over people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. The more serious cases involve denial of climate change or denial of the theory of evolution, and the falsification of history by school boards.

I don’t expect right wing political correctness to improve under a President Trump; in fact, the signs are very troubling.

But liberal political correctness is what we hear about most often in the media. No, it isn’t as widespread as the conservative variety, and frankly, it isn’t, as yet, as damaging.

But it is there and it is annoying and often cited as a factor to explain Trump’s victory. Examples of this excessive political correctness includes “trigger warnings“, the denial of statistics that do not easily fit a narrative among other things.

From my own personal interactions, I’ve seen the following:

1. In the case where a black guy who stole a car ended up being killed by police, statements such as “he would not have been in this situation to begin with had he not stolen a car” were met with cries of “you’re racist”.

2. Safety tip suggestions to female college students to reduce the risk of rape were met with cries that these suggestions, made by student services professionals, were examples of “victim blaming”.

3. Statements that things like an ACT mathematics score is correlated with success in, say, calculus, were called “racist”.

4. Claims that females in “gang showers” (communal showers) might not be comfortable showering with someone with male genitalia (a “trans woman”) were met that these fears were mere bigotry.

5. Trump’s statement that, gasp, some women indeed marry for money was treated as an example of misogyny (see 8 and 17. I also note that Trump has called women “fat and ugly”, but people say similar things about, say, Chris Christie.

And I think that, in general, people are tired of all the finger wagging and being told what they should find disqualifying. People don’t like others trying to tell them which political rallies they are allowed to go to.

Yes, I think that Trump was a horrible pick; in my opinion he lacks the temperament, deportment, and the skill set of be even an adequate president. But some of the criticism is over the top (this is an interesting read, though I disagree with aspects of this post.

So, will Trump’s election make any of the above better? Some seem to think so; some see this as the death knell of “identity politics”.

Personally, I’d like to see some reason come back. I think that there are logical, reasonable ways to discuss women’s safety, to condemn sexual assault, to condemn unfair treatment of minorities by police and to be reasonable about “transgender rights” while protecting the rights of all involved.

The political issues; that is another matter for another post, soon to come.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , | Leave a comment