blueollie

My Syria post

Ok, President Trump launched some cruise missiles at an airstrip from which the chemical weapons attack originated. Because the Russians were there, they were given advance notice. And, evidently, the airstrip/base remained operational:

And yes, the rubes cheered…hey, he did SOMETHING.

Oh, the options were not all that good.

And ISIS took advantage. Let’s face it: things are complicated. One has the so-called government which Russia, along with Shiite groups backs. The Rebels are mostly Sunni (backed by Sunni groups) and ISIS has a foothold as well. It is complicated.

In the US: the support really isn’t strictly along party lines; the Freedom Caucus is upset but the old guard seems ok. Given what the strike accomplished (basically…nothing…) and deterred (basically nothing…) well..

And how legal was it? Here are what some top legal minds say. And the politicians are split (here and here): we have the War Powers Act of 1973 (which specifies that the President is authorized to start limited military action IF several conditions are met and it is in our national interest (e. g. retaliate for a state sponsor murder, protect US citizens, etc) and there is the authorization of use of military force (used for the Iraq invasion) to generally fight terror.

But..it appears to me that the real criteria is for the President to say “it is in our national interest” and for Congress to not object and for it to be over quickly.

Who in the hell knows. I’d like to think that Trump was not that unethical, but his repeated, foolish tweets give me reason to doubt his personal stability. I wish that I had more confidence in him.
Yes, I can see other Presidents doing something *similar* (execution? targets? effectiveness?). So my questions are more about the President that ordered it than anything else; he just has no “benefit of the doubt” from me..the way that other presidents (of either party) had.

April 8, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, Uncategorized, world events | , | Leave a comment

Politics: a candidate I would support would help those that I do not like

I’ve linked to these articles before. One is about Trump supporters remaining loyal to Trump..while being horrified by cuts to programs that they depend on. And I am ashamed to say that one of my deep down reactions was…”hmmm, maybe I should support Trump for reelection since he is sticking it to these bastards”.

But of course, that is terribly shortsighted; after all, people that I do not like spend money that helps the economy overall, and the evidence tells me that demand side economics works. So it is in my long term interest to vote for someone who will benefit people that I do not like.

But my gut reaction to vote to punish is a strong one, and one that others feel as well.

And this is why I think of this notion of “let’s turn to Bernie Sanders” is bullshit. Raising the minimum wage won’t help most right away; besides who wants to spend their life at a minimum wage job anyway? Who wants to be stuck on Medicaid? And, even worse, who wants to face up to the fact that, for at least an uncomfortably large minority of us, that is as good as it is ever going to get?

Now before you scold me, yes, the minimum wage should probably be higher; it hasn’t kept pace with inflation. I believe that there is an optimum minimum wage, and that optimum is probably higher than it is now. But my point is that these issues will NOT create some social tsunami that will lead Democrats back to power. That will NOT happen unless things get a whole lot worse, as in Depression Era worse. We are talking about 25 percent unemployment followed by a world war.

But, if we can elect a candidate who can explain how a “bottom up” economy and “demand side” economics works; that putting more money in at the bottom will make it easier for businesses to have more customers…MAYBE we can peel off just enough support to tip those swing states back.

April 3, 2017 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

Moving forward: we won’t make progress with Trump’s base

Yes, Trump’s spending cuts will hit many red staters hard:

McCracken’s deep-rooted conservatism is matched by a passion to support Tulsa Domestic Violence Intervention Services, a nonprofit that helped her flee an ex- who she says beat and choked her, once until unconsciousness. She became teary as she described how staff members at the organization helped her and her son escape that relationship.

“They saved my life, and my son’s,” she said, her eyes liquid.

So she is aghast that one of Trump’s first proposals is to cut federal funds that sustain the organization. “My prayer is that Congress will step in” to protect domestic violence programs, she said.

Here in Oklahoma, I’ve been interviewing many people like McCracken — fervent Trump supporters who now find that the White House is trying to ax programs they have depended on, to pay for Trump’s border wall and for increases in military spending. And they’re upset.

“Why is building a wall more important than educating people?” asked Billy Hinkle, a Trump voter who is enrolled in a program called Tulsa WorkAdvance that trains mostly unemployed workers to fill well-paying manufacturing jobs. Trump has proposed eliminating a budget pot that pays for the program.

Yet Democrats gleeful at the prospect of winning penitent voters back should take a deep breath. These voters may be irritated, but I was struck by how loyal they remain to Trump.

I talked to many Trump voters about the impact if Trump’s budget cuts go through, and none regretted their votes in November. They all said that they might vote for Trump for re-election.

“I don’t think I re-evaluate Trump,” Moreno said, adding that he just wants the president to re-evaluate his budget proposal.

Judy Banks, a 70-year-old struggling to get by, said she voted for Trump because “he was talking about getting rid of those illegals.” But Banks now finds herself shocked that he also has his sights on funds for the Labor Department’s Senior Community Service Employment Program, which is her lifeline. It pays senior citizens a minimum wage to hold public service jobs.

“This program makes sense,” said Banks, who was placed by the program into a job as a receptionist for a senior nutrition program. Banks said she depends on the job to make ends meet, and for an excuse to get out of the house.

What is going on with these people? I think that this is the best explanation:

But there is a more fundamental, discomfiting, question in all this: Does demonstrating empathy even work anymore for politicians? Or, to put a finer point on it, if you show empathy for everybody in your audience, does each person only hear that you care about someone else?

As one of President Obama’s speechwriters, I had the privilege of working for one of the most authentically compassionate leaders in recent history. He possesses a natural ability — and desire — to understand just about anyone. And as his speechwriters, we knew he didn’t just appreciate all sides of a story — he wanted to acknowledge those perspectives and reassure his audiences that he heard where they were coming from.

Yet, try as he did, message intended wasn’t always message received.

For example, whenever Obama addressed tensions between law enforcement and the communities they served, some critics would insist that he never had a nice thing to say about cops. After the horrific murder of two New York City cops, Rudy Giuliani was quick to blame Obama, saying, “The president has shown absolutely no respect for the police … All the president has done is see one side of this dispute.”

This couldn’t have been further from the truth, of course. As the fact-checking site Politifact detailed, Obama had on numerous occasions expressed support for police, praised their outstanding work, and strongly condemned violence against them. But it seemed as though a concurrent acknowledgement of communities that felt mistreated by cops, or of the Black Lives Matter movement, erased any trace of empathy detected by some in law enforcement. This happened on issue after issue, from gun violence to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has written that, “When it comes to policy decisions … we are better off putting aside empathy and employing a combination of rational deliberation and a more distanced compassion.” I asked him what this means for political communication. He said that empathy, effectively, is a zero-sum game. Anyone who has to speak to multiple audiences at once faces a trade-off: A politician might tell you he cares about you — but if he also tells you that he cares about someone else, you no longer trust him. We demand of our leaders an unfair and impossible monogamy.

And go back to the original article: they were upset that the Democrats helped other people.

Here are more Trump voters:

The good news: while we will NEVER win all of them or even most of them, we can win “just enough” of them in key states to tip the tables. So it is worth the effort.

Upside: Scott made this meme for me.

April 2, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

One reason why talking to Trump supporters is a waste of time

Check out this video: it is about 7 minutes:

Upshot: Trump is a winner with them because he says things that they want to hear, he confirms their current world view. The want someone who, at least in public, speaks like they do:

Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has written that, “When it comes to policy decisions … we are better off putting aside empathy and employing a combination of rational deliberation and a more distanced compassion.” I asked him what this means for political communication. He said that empathy, effectively, is a zero-sum game. Anyone who has to speak to multiple audiences at once faces a trade-off: A politician might tell you he cares about you — but if he also tells you that he cares about someone else, you no longer trust him. We demand of our leaders an unfair and impossible monogamy.

Trump implicitly understands this — which is why his us-versus-them rhetoric, while so appalling to much of the country, appeals to the small group of people he has identified as “us.” They’re not interested in hearing that he also cares about others. They want him all to themselves.

And the sad truth is, it works. For all the noise about his low approval ratings, he’s actually doing fine among Republicans, including those who once balked at his ascendance. They now sheepishly applaud as he translates that us-versus-them rhetoric into the policy equivalent: Rather than call Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, for instance, he calmly weaponizes the bureaucracy and announces a new office to prosecute crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, an almost nonexistent problem. His supporters are satisfied with his plan. His opponents are impressed with his “restraint.” Thus does a con artist slither over the lowest of bars.

Of course, the true Trump supporters are a relatively narrow slice of the country, hence the “below 40 percent” approval ratings at such an early stage of his administration.

Disclaimer: yes, one of the reasons I liked President Obama is that he tended to speak carefully and deliberately; he appeared to think things through. Those are qualities that I’d like to think that I have (though, in my case, that might be too much wishful thinking).

March 31, 2017 Posted by | political/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Well, that was interesting…

The Republicans are trying to play things as if climate change is either a hoax, or that there is some question as to the human contribution. So, they are arranging to have a Congressional hearing which will feature the small percentage of scientists that disagree with the current consensus and try to play this as a “one scientist says, the other scientist says” type of thing, which it is not. So how should the mainstream scientists respond? Would boycotting be a better strategy?

Trump’s approval: is approaching where Nixon’s was when impeachment talk became more prominent.

Note: Nixon was at 38 percent disapproval among Republicans at the time.

Yes, I know, disapproval is not grounds for impeachment, and yes, no matter who is president, there are *always” voices that clamor for impeachment (and yes, I thought the idea of impeaching President Bush was ridiculous). So I’ll leave it to others who know more to tell me what high crime or misdemeanor President Trump committed (illegally benefiting from his office?) but let’s just say that I remain highly, highly skeptical. Now that he might say “the heck with it” and leave…who knows.

Workout notes:
Morning: 10K run in 1:04:30; hit 6 miles in 1:01:49. How it went: 10 minute warm up (every 2 minutes) then 8 x 2:30 at 6.7, 2:30 at 5.3 then 5 at various slow paces before I gave in and walked a bit. At least I got 8 repetitions as opposed to 6 last week.

Evening: exercise class; the steps were interesting.

March 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change, political/social, running, social/political | | Leave a comment

Thinking about poverty…

This was a 2014 Alternet article about poverty. That, plus reading some of the status updates of some of my friends helps me have a better understanding.

This is why: yes, there were times when I was short on money. But these were usually “between guaranteed jobs” times or “graduate student” times; one still had health insurance and still knew that a job was on the way. That makes a difference.

And of the poor people I actually know: well, many families have that “one or two” deadbeats that just mooches off of everyone else. They had the same parents, often had the same opportunities (and even got degrees in some cases) and even got the same inheritances …and blew it. Some sat by you in school. Others even had parents who made six figure incomes. And yet they failed and continue to fail, no matter how many times they are bailed out.

But this is the hazard of extrapolating from what one knows; it just doesn’t work that way for many of the working poor.

Workout notes: easy 5 mile walk at my “quick pace” outside. I felt yesterday’s leg workout.

March 19, 2017 Posted by | political/social, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment

Understanding different types of Trump supporters

Yes, I admit that there are some Trump supporters that do fall into the “basket of deplorables”; there is no denying that. No, it isn’t half of them but it is certainly some of them.

I’ll focus on the more mainstream ones.

One group includes the poorly educated, “lower middle class to poor” Trump supporters. Yes, Trumpcare and many of Trump’s proposed economic policies will hurt them more than most. So what is going on? This appears to be the best explanation I’ve read.

This is my summary of the article: yes, the repeal of Obamacare and the cutting of safety-nets (including Medicaid) hurts them. Cutting “Meals on Wheels” hurts the elderly in the region as well.

But: what these people really want is for the long lost jobs to return; jobs with health insurance and retirement plans (both indirectly subsidized by the government in terms of tax breaks). Government run safety nets…those are yucky programs that “other people” rely on:

Why are economically struggling blue collar voters rejecting a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The reality is that the bulk of needy white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one most well-employed voters still enjoy. […]

ike most of my neighbors I have a good job in the private sector. Ask my neighbors about the cost of the welfare programs they enjoy and you will be greeted by baffled stares. All that we have is “earned” and we perceive no need for government support. Nevertheless, taxpayers fund our retirement saving, health insurance, primary, secondary, and advanced education, daycare, commuter costs, and even our mortgages at a staggering public cost. Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand.

My family’s generous health insurance costs about $20,000 a year, of which we pay only $4,000 in premiums. The rest is subsidized by taxpayers. You read that right. Like virtually everyone else on my block who isn’t old enough for Medicare or employed by the government, my family is covered by private health insurance subsidized by taxpayers at a stupendous public cost. Well over 90% of white households earning over the white median income (about $75,000) carried health insurance even before the Affordable Care Act. White socialism is nice if you can get it.

The article also describes the tax breaks we get for our pension plans.

When Democrats respond to job losses with an offer to expand the public safety net, blue collar voters cringe and rebel. They are not remotely interested in sharing the public social safety net experienced by minority groups and the poorest white families. Meanwhile well-employed and affluent voters, ensconced in their system of white socialism, leverage all the power at their disposal to block any dilution of their expensive public welfare benefits. Something has to break.

And so, Bernie like populism will flop with that group.

The business CEOs
I remember my days in the submarine Navy. Both the officers and the enlisted men came from the top of their respective groups, at least in terms of intelligence. As far as the officers I worked with: typically A engineering students in college who has done well in Nuclear Power school They were very hard workers (16-18 hours a day at sea, 12 or more in port) were typical, and they knew the technology (e. g. nuclear power plant) inside and out.

But with those hours and that focus…let’s just say there wasn’t time to focus on the finer points of social policy or macro economics; whatever matched their intuition sounded good.

Business CEOs are probably similar: very smart people who know their business and their industry inside and out…but probably not that interested in this that don’t directly relate to their business in the short term. Hence, to them, Trump indicates and end to the “class warfare” that Obama waged..finally…lower taxes and fewer regulations! So attitudes like this are probably common.

Oh, there are long term problems. For example, if income inequality gets to be so great that few people have disposable income left, who is going to buy their stuff? If regulations made businesses so unprofitable, why did CEO pay rise so steeply? What will happen if/when Trump either gets us in a war or a trade war?

But lots of 14-18 hour days doesn’t give one a lot of time to ponder things beyond their own narrow interest.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, social/political | , | 1 Comment

Butts: less attention to hers, more attention to mine

Yeah, I’ve loved female butts for all of my post adolescent life. I still remember something from the 8’th grade, I believe. A female friend was sitting with me on the grass (she ran track and went on to be a Rams Cheerleader). She got up (in her tight jeans) and I teased her: “you’ve got grass all over your butt!” She said: “well, brush me off then…” and I about passed out. But I did my duty..and still remember it 44 years later.

I am open enough about it to teased about it by friends; from time to time my female friends send me joke memes about that.

But…all the while, I’ve neglected my own butt and the result is back pain, legs that get easily fatigued, etc. So I’ve been attempting to do something about it.

Today: I ran 6.07 miles in 1:05, doing a “5 minute froggy” for 50 minutes, then varying the speed after dropping back a bit, hitting 6 miles in 1:03:44. I was sweaty and out of breath and forced myself to do sets of 5 “goblet” squats:

0, 25, 45, 45, 50, 50, 60, 60. I made sure I “sat” below parallel then 10 x 270 on the leg press.

I was tempted to skip the final 2 sets with 60, but I saw the guy who won my AG in the trail half marathon (1:59, to my 3:02) and decided to finish all of them.

My back does feel better…we will see if this eventually translates into a better 5K run.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | butt, political humor, political/social, running, weight training | Leave a comment

Pitts: What if we just don’t like each other…

Today’s article by Leonard Pitts starts off as follows:

So this driver is stopped at an intersection. A pedestrian is dawdling in the crosswalk. Driver leans out the window and yells, “Get out of the street, you damned liberal!”

It’s been years since I read that in a magazine. I can’t remember if it was a true story, though I think it was. But even if only apocryphal, the picture it paints of American acrimony in the post-millennial years is true beyond mere facts.

As such, it leaves me questioning the likely impact of two recent well-intentioned pleas for ideological outreach. Joan Blades, co-founder of the liberal activist group Moveon.org, wrote an essay for The Christian Science Monitor, asking progressives to stretch beyond their left-wing comfort zones and “love thy neighbor.” And New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof warned the left against a tendency to “otherize” Donald Trump voters.

I’ve got no real argument with Kristof or Blades. It’s a noble gesture they’re making. It occurs to me, though, that none of this addresses a question that has come to seem obvious:

What if the problem is simply that we just don’t like each other?

As I’ve said often, our acrimony is not political. It’s not about tax rates, government regulation or even abortion rights. No, this is elemental. This is about the city versus the country, higher education versus a mistrust thereof, Christian fundamentalism versus secular humanism. And it is about social change versus status quo.

I recommend reading the rest.

That got me to thinking about some things I’ve seen and read.

1. Some time ago, a friend (fellow liberal) posted a photo of an old-to-middle-aged white guy with a restored antique 3-wheel vehicle …and talked about him being “a douche” though her only contact with him was, well that photo. Later I asked my wife if she had seen the photo….and she replied “of the creepy guy”?

2. I thought about my own reaction when I saw some elderly (ok, not THAT much older than I) men with a Trump hat or a Trump shirt. Yes, I felt a snarling contempt. I noted that I was in much, much better condition than they were…then I recalled I know some Trump voters who are my age (or slightly older) who can run and walk circles around me; in one case, his 100 mile walk pace would be a decent marathon walk pace for me.

But, yeah, I am as tribal as anyone else, though my “tribe” really isn’t purely political.

I have Republican friends, and by that I mean there are Republicans that I happily socialize with; one is a frequent, welcome dinner companion. I look forward to spending time with her.

BUT: she is secular, pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro-science and very knowledgeable. She believes in public investment and knows that there is a time for a government to spend and at time for austerity (“basic macro”, she says). We have some disagreements on the degree to which businesses should be regulated and taxed. But we agree on quite a bit, especially on social values. Ok, ok, we disagree on some things too. 🙂

Then I think: what about the baseball and football games I attend? Almost every single time, I end up in a conversation with a fan about the game; I always enjoy these. And I can assure you, statistically speaking, at least some (most?) of those said fans vote differently than I do. But for the purposes of the game, we are in the same “tribe” (football or baseball fans)

I don’t know; maybe public events are a good way to bring different kinds of people together? After all, there really isn’t a black/white/conservative/liberal way to discuss the action in a football game.

Same thing with running races: I KNOW that many of my running/walking friends have different politics than I do. But our experiences..our way of encouraging each other to bring out the best in each other really isn’t partisan.

Workout notes
weights then a 4 mile walk (28:00 first 2, 26:41 second 2: 54:41 for 4).

Weights: rotator cuff
pull ups: 5 sets of 10…very careful in the “recovery” motion to protect my arm.
bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 8 x 170 (very conservative)
incline press: 10 x 135
military presses: standing, 10 x 50 dumbbell, 6 x 50 standing dumbbell, 10 x 45
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
squats: lots of free squats, then 3 x 5 with 45, 2 x 50 goblet, 2 x 60 goblet
leg presses: 10 x 250
abs: 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts
headstand: ok, but was distracted getting into it.

March 14, 2017 Posted by | Friends, political/social, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

The unpopularity of the Democratic Party

Yes, President Trump has historically low approval ratings (for it being this early in his administration).

That is undeniable. (this graph is via Gallup).

But ..the Democratic party...rates even LOWER

Of course, the Bernie Bros are claiming “see, you need to become more like Bernie” and they cite articles like this one:

But what this apparently means to the people who are calling for unity is getting behind the corporate, suit and tie, lobbyist-driven agenda of the establishment. But let me break it to you – the establishment has almost no grassroots momentum. Virtually every progressive grassroots movement in America right now is fueled by people outside of the Democratic Party establishment and this is a huge reason why the party is so outrageously unpopular.

Huge grassroots movements, made up of millions and millions of people, are fueling the fight for a $15 minimum wage, fighting back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fighting to end fracking, fighting to remove lobbyist money from politics, fighting to end senseless wars and international violence, fighting for universal healthcare, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, fighting for free college tuition, fighting against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. But mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues have deep networks, energized volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

In the past two months, I’ve spoken in a dozen states around the country and thousands of people show up. Wednesday night, in the freezing rain, lines were wrapped around multiple city blocks to attend an event I was hosting at a local Seattle high school. We literally formed the event a few days ago on Facebook and didn’t spend a single penny putting it together.

This is a breath-taking amount of ignorance. Yes, “activists” really love those things and have energy. But a tiny percentage of people can be a lot of people in a country of 320 million. That, by no stretch of the imagination, translates into something the electorate will rally around.

Riddle me this: how did left wingers do in the past election? Example: Russ Feingold lost by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton did in Wisconsin.

While left wing populism might be very inspirational to a small percentage of the population, it really isn’t a winning political coalition:

On November 20, less than two weeks after Donald Trump’s upset win, Bernie Sanders strode onto a stage at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center to give the sold-out audience his thoughts on what had gone so disastrously wrong for the Democratic Party.

Sanders had a simple answer. Democrats, he said, needed to field candidates who would unapologetically promise that they would be willing “to stand up with the working class of this country and … take on big-money interests.”

Democrats, in other words, would only be able to defeat Trump and others like him if they adopted an anti-corporate, unabashedly left-wing policy agenda. The answer to Trump’s right-wing populism, Sanders argued, was for the left to develop a populism of its own.

That’s a belief widely shared among progressives around the world. A legion of commentators and politicians, most prominently in the United States but also in Europe, have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Supporters of these leaders, they argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

“[It’s] a kind of liberal myth,” Pippa Norris, a Harvard political scientist who studies populism in the United States and Europe, says of the Sanders analysis. “[Liberals] want to have a reason why people are supporting populist parties when their values are so clearly against progressive values in terms of misogyny, sexism, racism.”

The problem is that a lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration — or, more precisely, it doesn’t do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it’s in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

Yeah, left wing populism and a focus on the poor and economic injustice may have worked…in 1932 when unemployment was at 25 percent!

But the reality is:

1. Most do not care all that much about the Dakota Access Pipeline
2. Most have little in common with those who are at risk of losing their Obamacare insurance (and many of these ignorant jackasses voted for Trump)
3. Most of us earn well above the minimum wage
4. Most are not Muslim and most do not have Muslim friends
5. Most of us do not care whether someone is offended by someone else using the “wrong” pronoun.
6. Most of us did not go out and have a bunch of kids that we could not afford to raise.

In fact, much of left wing populism appears to be a transfer of money from those who have achieved to “the unworthy”.

Oh, there are many good reasons for those programs; I happen to believe that wealth trickles up through the economy and NOT down; when the bottom of the economic ladder is better off, the rest of us are are better off. Personally, I want more people to be able to afford to send their kids to my university and to patronize the neighborhood businesses. There is evidence that poor kids that get SNAP do better than those who don’t.

But that is a difficult sell, especially to people like me, who have been raised on The Ant and the Grasshopper.

But there is more from the Vox article quoted above:

When Corbyn took control of Labour leadership last September, UKIP — Britain’s far-right, anti-EU party — had been in decline, netting around 10 percent in the Britain Elects poll aggregator. By the June 2016 Brexit vote over whether to leave the EU, UKIP’s numbers had risen to a little over 15 percent.

Corbyn and Labour publicly supported staying in the EU, but didn’t campaign for it particularly hard. It may not have mattered: Eric Kaufmann, a professor at the University of London who studies populism, looked at what Brexit voters said were the “most important” issues facing the UK. More than 40 percent said immigration; a scant 5 percent said “poverty and inequality.”

According to Kaufmann, this reflects an uncomfortable truth: The kind of voter who’s attracted to the far right just doesn’t care a whole lot about inequality and redistribution, Corbyn’s signature issues. Tacking left to win them over, as Corbyn has, is “a bad idea,” he told me in a phone conversation.

Yes, this is the United States, not the UK. But:

This, they hypothesized, was not an accident. People are only willing to support redistribution if they believe their tax dollars are going to people they can sympathize with. White voters, in other words, don’t want to spend their tax dollars on programs that they think will benefit black or Hispanic people.

The United States is marked by far more racial division than its European peers. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites. “Hostility between races limits support for welfare,” Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote conclude flatly in the paper.

Now, it’s been a decade and a half since this paper was published, so it’s possible the evidence has shifted. I called up Sacerdote to ask him whether any subsequent research has caused him to change his mind. His answer was firmly negative. “It’s almost sad that it’s held up so well,” he told me.

And I see it as being grimmer than this.

Take public education. One would expect teachers to have to have a basic standard of literacy, right? Well, in New York, the public education establishment is about to do away with a literacy test for teachers because…too many minorities are not passing the test!

New York state is poised to scrap a literacy test for people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected to adopt the recommendation of a task force to eliminate the exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Critics of the exam said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms.

Just 46 percent of Hispanic and 41 percent of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

The test was among four assessments for prospective teachers introduced in the 2013-2014 school year.

(note to conservatives who might be laughing: I hope you are equally outraged at attempts to give creationism “equal time” in science curricula).

And so it goes. It is bad enough that we have racism in our population, but then we go and lead with our chin with stupid stuff like this. Guess whose kids those illiterate teachers will be teaching?

Workout notes: home treadmill (snow outside): 10 minute jog, then 50 minutes of “quick walking”; 5 miles in just about 1 hour (maybe 1:00:20 or so).

March 13, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, political/social, politics, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment