So, will the debate have much effect on the race?

My guess: no. Sam Wang explains why. Here is part of it:

Trump could take the lead, but it would go against what we know so far. I would characterize the race as being very close, but not as uncertain as you might think. Why? The unappreciated story of 2016 is the amazing stability of public opinion. As measured by national polls, 2016 marks the most stable Presidential race in >60 years of modern polling. At the level of state-poll-based analysis, the stability is even greater. This basic fact should inform all analysis.

Is this a stable race? Here is a chart of Upshot’s “likelihood of winning” metric:


And their links to other models:


How the bookies currently see it (Hillary Clinton slightly lower than a 2-1 favorite)


And the poll aggregator maps:


Election Projection


Electoral Vote

September 26, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Tough topics: Islam in the US, Racism …

Islam: Of course, one can be a good American and a good Muslim at the same time; millions are. But currently, Islam is more of a “total way of life” than other religions are, at least for the bulk of those who practice it. As Shadi Hamid
of the Brookings Institution writes:

This fact gets at something deeper, which often goes unsaid because it suggests there is — or at least there may be — a clash of cultures. Islam seems, at least by Western standards, unusually assertive and uncompromising. Critics might see it as full-blown aggressiveness. But Muslims often point to these qualities as evidence of Islam’s vitality and relevance in a supposedly secular age. To put it a bit differently, this is why many Muslims like being Muslim.

Whether consciously done or not, to be unapologetically Muslim today is to, in a way, show that other futures are possible, that the end of history may in fact have more than one destination. If Islam has been — and will continue to be — resistant to secularism, then the very existence of practicing Muslims serves as a constant reminder of this historical and religious divergence.

I realize that some of my fellow American Muslims will view such arguments as inconvenient, portraying Islam in a not-so-positive light. But it is not my job to make Islam look good, and it helps no one to maintain fictions that make us feel better but don’t truly reflect the power and relevance of religion.

In the West, the common response to the challenge of theological diversity has been banal statements of religious “universality.” All too often, interfaith dialogue, however well-intentioned, is about papering over what makes us — or at least our beliefs — different. It is a tenet of our American faith that we’re all basically the same and ultimately want the same things. This is true in some ways, but not in every way.

The crisis of culture and identity — one that sees the rise of the far-right and white nativism in our own country — makes it clear that our differences and divides are real. We would all be better off acknowledging — and addressing — those differences rather than pretending they don’t exist.

Racism/Black Lives Matter, etc. I was sickened by what happened in Tulsa, where an unarmed black guy was stopped and killed by police, though he posed no threat whatsover. And it saddens me that *athletes* are taking the lead in getting the conversation going.

Unfortunately, the conversation often goes off the rails, as this Brown University professor points out. It isn’t as simple as “it is whitey’s fault” or “black people should quit committing crimes” (which is what one often sees in the internet discussions). All too often, “activists” dismiss statistics that they don’t like as being “racist”:

Yes, it is true that blacks are far, far, far more likely to be simple murder victims than to be shot and killed by police. It isn’t even close.

But that misses the point. Law enforcement is there to serve *all* of its citizens. And all too often, law enforcement is seen as a THREAT to ordinary black people, rather than as an entity there to protect and serve. Just listen to what a Republican Senator has to say:

And as far as protestors: no, I don’t like many of the more strident ones. Frankly, I think that what the more strident ones are doing are turning people TOWARD Donald Trump.
But some of the anger directed toward them is irrational…and yes, even well off, well educated people have vented their irrational anger in public.


Yes, that is a Law Professor making that tweet.

September 22, 2016 Posted by | political/social, racism, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Yes, I miss George W. Bush…as an opponent.


Donald Trump has me missing George W. Bush…as an opponent. Yeah, I think that President Bush didn’t do a good job…not at all. But if my choices were him or Donald Trump, I’d vote for President Bush (after gulping quite a bit of pink bismuth)

Unrelated note
There really is no hope for me…at least I caught it BEFORE I left for work.


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

Trump can win this election. But right now Clinton is winning.

Workout notes: 4 mile walk; easy. Cool weather; sure hope we have that on Sunday, but it does NOT look promising.


As it sits right now: the Electoral College map (via Electoral

The national polls: (via Pollster)


The bookies:


Trump’s paths to victory: he has less than half as many paths that Clinton does (via Upshot)


Sam Wang’s analysis (Princeton)


So it goes. To me, this is looking more and more like 2000 and 2004 (with Clinton being in the position that Bush was in) rather than 2008 and 2012…in the latter cases I was very confident that Obama would win.

I am not so confident this time around. I am not ready to call this a toss-up; Clinton does have the edge. But that edge could evaporate. It is far from being a comfortable lead.

Why I still have hope: though Hillary Clinton is NOT the campaigner that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were, she isn’t as bad as Al Gore. And like him or hate him, George W. Bush was a good campaigner. Donald Trump isn’t the campaigner that he was, not at least as far as the “middle of the country” goes.

September 22, 2016 Posted by | 2008 Election, 2012 election, political/social, politics, politics/social, walking | | Leave a comment

Why this Presidential election really is different for me

Yeah, I get it. When you listen to a Presidential candidate, *every* election is “the most important of your lifetime”. No candidate will say “hey, this election is kind of like the others; our country faces challenges but it always has..and times they were greater.”

But when you look at the elections that took place in my lifetime, for me, it was a contest between at least two qualified candidates (IMHO, Ross Perot wasn’t qualified). It was always a Senator, Governor, Vice President (etc.) though, I acknowledge that President Eisenhower did ok, and he was a former Army general (one who was the top allied commander in Europe, put together Operation Overlord, played a role in the forming of the post WW2 order, etc.)

And there were times when I liked *both* candidates: during the elections that I voted in (all that I was eligible to vote in), I liked both then VP Bush and Gov. Dukakis, Gov. Bush and VP Gore, Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama, and again, Gov. Romney and President Obama. In each case, I thought that we had two good choices so I voted by platform (for the more liberal of the two candidates). And yes, I was dead wrong about then Gov. George W. Bush being a good choice; my Texas family warned me about that. Yes, I voted for Gore, but I honestly thought that either one would do fine.

So here we are. We have a former Senator and Secretary of State who has a ton of foreign policy and domestic policy experience; someone who is tough, smart, informed and rational…versus …Donald J. Trump.

Now you might view Mr. Trump as a “straight shooter” (but exactly ARE his positions anyway…they seem to constantly change), or as a practical, “I don’t have time for political correctness” person who will “get ‘er done”.
You might view him as an unpresidential bore. You might view him as an evil bigot who routinely stiffs contractors and cheats his investors (while remaining legal).

I will not comment on that.

I will say this however: his skill set seems to be making real estate investments and manipulating things like bankruptcy laws to his benefit, as well as knowing what he can get away with when it comes to contractors (do they fight him, thereby taking on an army of lawyers?)

I believe that is the wrong skill set for a president. Can Mr. Trump fire Congress? (ok, you might like to, but you can’t). Can he fire citizens and deport them for not going along? Can he rid the Supreme Court of justices that he doesn’t like?

Frankly, I think that he’ll trash our stock market…and I don’t see why people of “modest means” (say, 500K to 1 M) support him at all.

And yes, I am too old to go to war. My industry would probably survive a Trump administration. I’ve got enough time until retirement for my stocks to recover after a Trump presidency. I am not a Muslim nor am I routinely profiled by police. (disclaimer: I am of Mexican heritage). But, I don’t see him as doing the country any good. And I sure as heck don’t want someone that unstable with the nuclear codes.


I see him as unqualified, period.

September 20, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

My take on the Presidential Election (with my favorite sources and models)

Ok, at this time in 2008, Barack Obama had just taken a razor thin lead in the polls. I wasn’t worried though, as I was in the “Obama loop” and I knew what Obama’s ground game was up to and I knew that we were hitting our targets.

This year, I am out of the loop; I sent money to Hillary Clinton and probably will do so again. But I am not on conference calls or anything like that. So I am following the election as an “outsider”.

I am not paying attention to the “talking heads”. But I am paying attention to the following:

1. Models Each model weighs the poll data a bit differently, and some use economic data and other factors.

New York Times Upshot

This is the New York Times model. They have an interesting “pathways to victory” model for both candidates. They also link to the current forecasts of the other models.

Five Thirty Eight (Nate Silver)

This site offers three different models: “polls plus” (factors in other factors), “polls only” and “if the election were held today” forecasts. They do a decent job on being flexible to changing conditions while not being overresponsive to noise.

Princeton Election Consortium (Sam Wang)

This is another good model; this one is not as responsive to changing conditions but won’t overreact to noise either.

2. Betting Lines (odds)

US political odds (betting lines)

People with money to bet aren’t that sentimental. Now this might reflect “conventional wisdom”. But I use these as a hedge against my “wishful thinking”.

3. Poll Aggregators These just say “here are the polls in each state”. There is some crunching (don’t throw out a week old poll, but weigh the newer ones more heavily, etc.) And yes, they were pretty accurate since 2004.

Election Projection

This is run by a conservative but is competent.

Electoral Vote

This is run by a liberal but is also competent.

4. Poll Data

Real Clear Politics

This lists the various polls. Warning: state polls are included, so if several “blue state” polls come in, the “look” is too pro-Clinton; the reverse is true if many red states are polled. But you can see the polls for yourself here.

5. President Obama’s approval ratings (Gallup)

Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center

I like to compare President Obama’a approval ratings to President Reagan’s (The first Bush won) and to President George W. Bush’s (McCain lost). And remember that Al Gore won the popular vote (very narrowly) but “lost” (sort of) the Electoral College.

So what do these say?

1. President Obama’s approval ratings are above average for a 2 term incumbent and is tracking well with those of President Reagan.
2. Betting wise: Hillary Clinton is slightly less than a 2-1 favorite. This is down from 4-1 some time ago.
3. Polls: she retains a narrow lead both in the national polls (1-2 points on average) and in the Electoral College. It IS very close right now.
4. Models: the “robust against noise” models give her a 75-85 percent chance of winning; the “more responsive” models give her about a 60 percent (plus/minus 2-3 points) chance of winning.

This tells me: this race is NOT a toss up; Clinton has an edge but it is a narrow one, at least right now. Trump could very well win. But I wouldn’t want to trade places.
I am reminded of “Kerry vs. Bush” where Clinton is in the position that Bush was.

September 20, 2016 Posted by | political humor, political/social, politics, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

The election tightens but I think Clinton will win…

No doubt: the election is back to where it was pre-convention. This New York Times article gives a rundown o the various models and how they differ. In terms of basketball, you have a randomly chosen NBA player at the free throw line. If he makes the shot, Clinton wins. He misses: Trump wins. Or, think of an NFL kicker attempting a 45 yard field goal. A make means a Clinton win.

In the betting markets, Clinton is now slightly Less than a 2-1 favorite.


Why I think she will win: President Obama’s approval ratings continue to track President Reagan’s. Note where President Bush’s (II) were during the 2008 election.


And I think that President Obama can help Sec. Clinton, as this election might well be a “turn out” election. If the Democrats show up, we win. If they don’t, we lose.

So, what is going on? My guess is that Trump is being fueled by those who don’t want to “press 1 for English” crowd.

September 16, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Keith Olberman’s 17 minute Trump Tirade…and President O’s venting

Happy watching. President O’s venting was good too.

Commentary I am still on some conservative people’s FB feed. Yes, Hillary Clinton did say that “about half” of Trump supporters could be put into a “box of deplorables”. She could have talked about the other half in a different way, and politically, it would have been wise to have done that.

BUT: this in no way attacks all Trump supporters (or even most) and it certainly doesn’t disparage half of the electorate. Concluding that from her speech is illogical.

But our rough, tough, “suck it up buttercup” conservatives …it turns out…are a very sensitive lot. They get, well, emotional and respond emotionally.

I am wondering if these macho men are bleeding from their whatevers.

September 14, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

Why America is not great and our group-think bubbles…..


I thought more about this cartoon. And I posted this on Facebook:

But WHY is America not great?

If you think that America has become a country where we enable the irresponsible poor and coddle criminals and where we accept (encourage) rude behavior. If you think that we don’t worship your deity enough and we don’t inspire enough “respect” from other countries around the world, and if we’ve watered down “our culture” too much (dammit, I don’t want to have to “press 1 for English”), ..that is one thing.

If you think that certain groups are still treated unfairly (given worse treatment by law enforcement based on skin color), if the government works to make the extremely wealthy even wealthier and is indifferent to the less fortunate (e. g. those born into poverty or those with chronic medical problems)…and is deficient in public investment (e. g. edcuation), that is another thing.

And so it goes. What doesn’t help matters is that many of us live in bubbles; I am as guilty of this as anyone else. Almost all of my “do stuff with” friends have advanced degrees or extra professional credentials. That is just how it works out.

Why this matters: I believe that we are most concerned with what affects our day to day existence. If gas prices are high: doesn’t really affect me directly. I walk to work, drive a Prius (when I do drive) and 30-40 dollars for a fill up is no big deal for someone of my income level. BUT that is a big deal for others who drive more and who are struggling financially.

It is a bit like running; if you are feeling strong, going 2-3 miles is no biggie. But toward the end of an ultra or even a marathon….that is a looooooong way. And trying 3 miles the day after, say, a double red cell blood donation…loooooong way.

Upshot: our immediate reactions to social conditions are different.

And because we get tribal….well, I know that I sometimes am reluctant to admit it when the “other side” might have a point.

Take immigration: yes, I am a “play by the rules” sort of guy, and no, I don’t think that someone else from another country has “a right” to be here. I am for legal immigration, but I am a pragmatist. And yes, I gave props to President Bush for at least attempting action on this issue.

But many of the vocal opponents to illegal immigration ARE right wing, xenophobic, racist assholes. I want nothing to do with them. So, during debates, I find myself biting my tongue.
Yes, I have conservative friends that I care a great deal for, and I can be honest, with THEM. But those discussions tend to be private.

Election Boring. Hillary has a healthy lead and that is unlikely to change. I’m sure that the media will try to stir things up…say “Hillary’s lead shrinks among the blind left handed dentists demographic”…but in fact the race has been reasonably stable for a while.

September 1, 2016 Posted by | political/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

What I don’t like about Trump…and it isn’t what you might think

Yes, Trump says a lot of stuff, some of which…yes, I actually like:

Oh, what about “Mexico sending rapists” remark? Well, CUBA did exactly that: they emptied their jails and tried to send their prisoners to the United States. And yes, *some* illegal immigrants from Mexico are criminals; there is no evidence that they are more criminal than anyone else though (any substantial population of people will contain at least a few miscreants).

Protesters? No, I don’t have respect for those who disrupt or try to impede one’s progress to the rallies. Calling women “fat pigs”? Well, people do that to Chris Christy all of the time.

But…Trump is running for President of the United States and a President should have a certain temperament, which he lacks. Lashing out simply isn’t presidential. In 1990, Massachusetts citizens thought it wasn’t becoming of a governor either.

What about his “telling it like it is”? Well, the problem here is that I want a President to mull things over prior to speaking; too many times he just “says stuff”:

And what “internal governor” does he have on his actions? As Hillary Clinton said: someone who gets baited by a tweet…how will he act as President?


The world is complicated. The details matter. Language matters…even something as avoiding the phrase “Radical Islamic terrorism” matters. We have to be concerned with how the rest of the world sees us; we can’t just beat our chests in a vacuum.

There is, of course, the matter of knowing what one is doing. Yes, Trump is good at making slick real estate deals which he benefits from. But that is very different from trying to get Congress to send you something that you can sign, and very different from working with nations that have their own interests. Trump won’t be able to fire members of Congress, nor will he be able to fire foreign leaders that do not cooperate.

So, there you have it.

I want a thoughtful president who thinks carefully before they speak.
I want a level headed president.
I want one with the correct skill set.

And please, spare me the “Hillary’s e-mails make her just like Trump” in terms of honesty. She is reasonably honest, at least by politician’s standards. Yes, she spins. Yes, she puts herself in the best light possible…sometimes performing a few logical gymnastic steps along the way. Here is Politifact’s score. (also here for more detail).

What is going on, I think, is the nature of spin. Trump exaggerates whereas Clinton spins when she is on the defensive. And she sometimes mixes in true statements in her spin

Clinton’s deceptions tend to be defensive — her reputation is under attack and she’s trying to save face. As determined by PolitiFact, a political fact-checking service, her false statements often come in response to scandals and allegations against her. For instance, with regard to her private email server, she has said she “never received nor sent any material that was marked as classified” and that the server “was allowed” at the time. Both proved false.

Trump’s deceptions, by contrast, are more on the offensive, more self-promotional. He exaggerates his successes in the business world. He called his book “The Art of the Deal” the “best-selling business book of all time.” It’s not, according to PolitiFact.

And he creates allegations against his political opponents and minority groups out of thin air, making himself appear better by comparison. Among his false statements, according to PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton “invented ISIS,” even though the group predates Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The United States is allowing “tens of thousands” of “vicious, violent” Muslim terrorists into the country every year. This attempt to justify his ban on Muslim immigration was also found false.

That distinction between Clinton and Trump — offensive vs. defensive — has major implications for whether people view their lies as “legitimate” and morally acceptable, according to Matthew Gingo, a psychology professor at Wheaton College.

“Me lying to get myself out of trouble is not nearly as bad as me lying to get someone else in trouble,” Gingo said. “People view defense as more legitimate, such as physical self-defense.”

This has long been the consensus of psychological research. A 2007 study presented scenarios where people lied with varying motivations and interviewed people about how “acceptable” each lie was. They found self-protective lies (think Clinton) to be more acceptable than self-promotional lies (think Trump on his business record), which are more acceptable than self-promotional lies that harm others (think Donald Trump on Mexicans). A similar 1997 study of women found the same result, as did a 1986 study.

So Clinton’s omissions of fact, research tells us, should be perceived better than Trump’s flagrant scapegoating. Especially considering this disparity: PolitiFact has evaluated 203 of Trump’s statements and 226 of Clinton’s. It rated just fewer than a third of Clinton’s as “mostly false” or worse but rated 71 percent of Trump’s the same way.

But there’s another layer of complication here.

With Clinton, “there’s a lot more interleaving of truth and lies,” says Kim Serota, a marketing professor at Oakland University who has studied deception and political communication.

No one will ever know what exactly Clinton’s intentions were with her private email server, but anyone could find that the majority of Mexican immigrants are not, in fact, criminals and rapists. This makes Clinton’s deceptions appear more like “cover-ups,” Gingo says, which harms her public perception.

August 11, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment