blueollie

Senator Sanders and rhetoric vs. action

I know that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has officially decided to run for President. Some of the more outspoken liberals I know are backing him.

Yes, he says many of the “right” things in public, and Secretary Hillary Clinton has been derided as being too close to Wall Street, too much of a hawk in foreign affairs, etc.

But here is the question I’d love to get answered by someone who supports Senator Sanders: what actually has he done?

Saying the “right thing” is pretty easy one one comes from a small, “safe” state; in 2012 he won by 70 percent but still had about 2/3’rd the vote that the current Chicago Mayor got. But if “saying the right thing” is what we need, then why not draft, say, Paul Krugman? Krugman certainly knows more about economics than any political candidate and I mostly love what he says. :-)

I want someone who has demonstrated some political skill at actually getting legislation passed and getting hostile political opposition to at least give a little.

So, at least to me, Senator Sandars is something like a Democratic version of Senator Santorum or Senator Cruz; I really don’t take him that seriously even if I am in agreement with most of his positions.

Hey, I agree with myself 100 percent of the time, and I’d be horrible at that job.

May 3, 2015 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, political/social, politics | , , | Leave a comment

Voter ID laws: the harm

Workout notes: 500 swim; then 8 x 50 kick (fins, front, focused on being downhill), 150 swim, 100 back. I just wasn’t into it. I was a bit bloated (182-183) afterward. I am feeling a bit tired and rundown.

Harm of voter ID law (hat tip: Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub) This takes 11 minutes to watch. If you are one of those who wonder “what is the big deal”, watch. This is what can go wrong.

May 2, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, swimming | | Leave a comment

Obama on Baltimore, warming, butt hurt, etc.

This lasts 14 minutes. Note that President Obama STARTS by condemning the criminal behavior of looting, burning, etc. He also points out that the peaceful protests didn’t get a lot of attention.

President Obama did have some fun at the expense of Michele Bachmann and her nuttiness.

Of course, the nut jobs are “offended”. Sorry: a nutty idea is a nutty idea, even if you believe it for “religious” reasons.

Politics
Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is going to “run for President”.
Yes, though he won his Senate race by a landslide (and then some), he still only got something like 208,00 votes, which is less than what the Mayor of Chicago got (319,000). But he excites some of the liberals and perhaps that excitement might carry over to the general if Hillary Clinton reaches out to them.

But his chances at the nomination are only slightly greater than my chances of making an NFL team.

Trolling I assume that this guy was serious. But instead of being outraged, I laughed out loud at him; he sounds like a caricature of a Fox News watcher.

Science and society

Yes, this is only one point on the earth. But look at the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

co2_data_mlo

Yes, GMO crops have a place. This is how one former “anti-GMO activist” saw the light.

April 29, 2015 Posted by | 2016, Barack Obama, Democrats, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , , , , | 1 Comment

TPP and other topics

Workout notes: end of the semester blues, so I had to force myself into swimming. But swim I did. 1000 straight, then 5 x 200 on the 4: 3:43, 3:43, 3:45, 3:38, 3:31 (more effort) then 200 fin cool down (back and fly)

TPP: Paul Krugman notes that this doesn’t really enhance free trade all that much but is more about intellectual property rights. He counts himself as a “lukewarm opponent” in that he doesn’t think that it will be all that harmful, but it won’t help and he thinks that President Obama has better ways to spend political capital.

I think that I give President Obama some benefit of the doubt here, at least on political grounds.

Speaking of economics water is tight in California. That means: those who can pay astronomical water fees still…use it for their lawns. Let’s face it: this is NOT a “we are all in this together” situation; it never is.

Religion: I think that bad ideas are not worthy of respect. No, I won’t go onto someone’s property (internet or otherwise) and attack their religion, but I’ll speak my mind openly and, some ideas are just plain dumb.

April 28, 2015 Posted by | climate change, economics, economy, politics, politics/social, swimming | , | Leave a comment

2016: I am not that interested but…it will be PARTISAN

In my opinion, the 2016 election will probably be, if anything, more partisan than 2004, 2008 and 2012. Why?

I think it is because the public is polarized.

Think about it: you have a large segment of the population that thinks their deity controls things. Their god sends punishments for our society allowing, say, gay marriage …but will protect us against the effects of climate change. Remembers: these are elected officials: judges and US Senators:

Remember: these views reflect the views of those who voted for them. Common ground? Are you kidding me?

Now of course I will vote (both primary and in the election), but I won’t have the passion I had in 1992, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

April 25, 2015 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social, religion | Leave a comment

Running on fumes…

Physically, I feel reasonably good. But mentally; well we are nearing the end of the semester and I am bringing together the end of Calculus III and topology…and I botched a calculation in Calculus III. I did send out some corrected notes; I got the “right answer” but for the wrong reason.

Swim: 500 easy, 5 x ( 50 front kick with fins, 200 free); timed was 3:38. then 50 kick with fins (body position), 4 x 50 on the 1:10 (52; did long on the out, harder on the back). 200 fly/back with fins.
It was ok.

Issues

Basketball
It is very hard to be successful; practices can be downright brutal and a good coach will drive his/her players past where they think that they are capable of going. Hence I am genuinely perplexed here: did this coach cross the line, or did she end up with “soft” players here?

The four players who quit the Wichita State women’s basketball team after the season have met with a university official who reports to president John Bardo to discuss their issues with coach Jody Adams.

Faculty athletic representative Julie Scherz is leading the inquiry and is charged to talk to current and past players, coaches and administrators, said Lou Heldman, WSU vice president of strategic communications. Michaela Dapprich, Moriah Dapprich, Alie Decker and Kayla White met with Scherz recently after leaving the team.

“Dr. Bardo took this seriously from the first report of it,” Heldman said. “He is very conscious of the standards of what universities owe to student-athletes, and really, to all students. He asked Dr. Scherz to look into this.”

Scherz and Bardo have had at least one conversation and plan another soon, Heldman said. Assistant athletic director for media relations Larry Rankin directed media inquiries to Heldman.

The players, according to a source with knowledge of the conversations and communications with Scherz and athletic department officials, described an atmosphere of anger, isolation and personal insults that caused the players to quit. The issues came to a head recently during offseason training when players ran more than an hour of “suicide” drills as punishment, several sources said.

But her teams played well on the court; evidently they weren’t showing up to games with dead legs. So it isn’t as if they were being overtrained or playing “tight”.

Politics

2016. I admit that I am not that interested in the Presidential race, at least in terms of getting involved. I might write a campaign check or two. I’ll vote both in the primary and in the general. But I don’t have the excitement I had in 1992, 2008, nor the grim determination I had in 2004 and 2012, nor will I get any joy in watching the nerds be right (again) and the pundits go down in flames (2012). This is sort of like 2000 for me when I had, at best, a passing interest (yes, I voted, for VP Gore but I (mistakenly) believed that George W. Bush was “not that bad”. Really. I was fooled by campaign statements such as this one:

My goodness, was I wrong.

Well, the 2016 race is heating up. Sure Mitt Romney is not running…but this…well, it doesn’t include Scott Walker or Carly Fiorina but..let’s just that that this makes Mitt Romney look good by comparison:

And on the other side: Hillary Clinton is running.

Now, there are Democrats who are in the “anyone but Hillary” bandwagon. I am not one of those. No, I am not strongly pro-Clinton either, but she did serve in the US Senate and performed ably as Secretary of State and has stature in the world. So I think that she is a worthy candidate and I don’t see another Democrat who is.

Her 2008 campaign was a disaster though; she had the lead and blew it by being overconfident and not planning ahead. I hope that she has learned her lesson.

But she is a Clinton and well…. here comes two articles that focus mostly on President Clinton’s charity fund.

Yes, charity. It turns out that Bill Clinton is good at raising money and some give to his charity in hopes of getting in Hillary’s good graces, and yes, Bill gets a hefty speaking fee. And yes, the New York Times has LONG story about how a Russian company bought a Canadian uranium mining company and..some of its officials gave to Bill’s charity as well.

I read these two articles which seem to drive home the fact that:

1. Bill gets a lot of money for a speech (if he wants it) and
2. Bill’s charity has a lot of donors, some of which hope to get in the good favors of the Clintons.

I really don’t see any more than that; I don’t see where it is claimed that Secretary Clinton did X because some donor gave Y. Well, let’s just say if that claim is there, I missed it...as did others:

“Political opponents” would have argued this had Ms. Rodham Clinton spent her pre-candidate career working with the Poor Clares. That’s why someone’s political opponents are generally found in opposition to them. That’s also why the Post formalized its relationship with a ratfker in the first place.

It looks as though the CGI, and the speaking fees, are going to be this cycle’s Whitewater, which brings us to the application of Clinton Rule No. 3 — if you have blown enough smoke, you then can claim that there is a “climate” of fire. Exhibit A here are the #inevitablehotpolitixtakez from Ron (Leadership!) Fournier, former Karl Rove life coach.

Gennifer Flowers. Cattle futures. The White House travel office. Rose Law Firm files. The Lincoln Bedroom. Monica Lewinsky. And now, the Clinton Foundation. What ties these stories together is the predictable, paint-by-numbers response from the Bill and Hillary Clinton political operation.
Actually, what ties five of the seven examples cited there together is the fact that they are absolute bullshit. (And the Gennifer Flowers business is more than a quarter-bullshit itself. Have we all forgotten that Ms. Flowers wrote about having had assignations with Bill Clinton in a Little Rock hotel that hadn’t been built yet?) Don’t take my word for it. Take Kenneth Starr’s. On November 19,1998, he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee and admitted that everything he’d investigated save the affair with Monica Lewinsky came to nothing. Barney Frank had a little fun with him.

Mr. Frank criticized Mr. Starr for failing to exonerate the President on Filegate and Travelgate in September when he sent Congress the 445-page impeachment referral related to Mr. Clinton’s affair with Monica S. Lewinsky. ”In other words,” he told Mr. Starr, ”you don’t have anything to say unless you have something bad to say.”
To single out the Clintons for having wealthy friends who might want favors later, especially in the political context brought to us by the destruction of campaign finance regulations, is a particularly laughable application of the Clinton Rules which, like the Voting Rights Act and McCain-Feingold, have been rendered irrelevant by Citizens United and its unholy progeny. I already hate this campaign, and maybe that’s the whole point. When pundits talk about “not wanting to go through” the whole Clinton sturm und drang, this, I suspect, is what they’re talking about. It is the job of oppo-researchers and ratfkers to exhaust the country’s patience through the techniques of scandalization. It is the job of the other candidates to try and take advantage of that. It is not the job of journalism to play along, or to despair of the effects on “us” of their own creations

Yep.

Yes, you can look at my 2007-2008 posts during the bruising Clinton-Obama campaign. I never hesitated to call out the Clintons when I thought they were trying to pull the political wool over the eyes of the primary and caucus voters.

But the above stuff (the attacks on the Clinton foundation stuff) is malarkey.

One thing to remember about Bill: one of the reasons he is a good fundraiser is that he believes in his causes and he had never been personally greedy. He isn’t above political pandering or stating things in a way that makes you think you are hearing one thing but he is saying another. He has faults.

But he is NOT greedy and never has been.

Let the games begin…:-)

April 25, 2015 Posted by | 2016, hillary clinton, politics, politics/social, swimming | , | Leave a comment

Slackers and punishment…

Workout notes early morning: 10K walk in Bradley Park; 5.1 mile plus lower 1.23 mile loop. It was cool and pretty; it would have been peaceful too except our local ROTC contingent saw fit to run around and chant stereotypical military sounding stuff. They might have been more impressive had they not been going 10-11 minutes per mile. They aren’t exactly West Point material.

So, needless to say, I don’t like slackers. But sometimes one can be counterproductive when one attempts to punish them. This New York Times story talks about the poor who get into debt but are then hampered by losing their driver’s license …which makes many jobs off limits to them. I believe in paying one’s debts; perhaps wage garnishments are the way to go.

Charter Schools I have mixed feelings about these; and these can sometimes lead to increased segregation:

Parental preferences are part of the problem. The charter school admissions process is itself race-blind: Schools that are too popular conduct lotteries between their applicants. But if a school isn’t white enough, white parents simply won’t apply.

In previous research, Ladd discovered that white North Carolina parents prefer schools that are less than 20 percent black. This makes it hard to have racially balanced charter schools in a state where more than a quarter of schoolchildren are black.

“Even though black parents might prefer racially balanced schools, the fact that white parents prefer schools with far lower proportions of black students sets up a tipping point,” the authors write. “Once a school becomes ‘too black,’ it becomes almost all black as white parents avoid it.”

On the upside: this is the type of bipartisanship that I hope to see more of:

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes in the way Medicare pays doctors, clearing the bill for President Obama and resolving an issue that has bedeviled Congress and the Medicare program for more than a decade.

The 92-to-8 vote in the Senate, following passage in the House last month by a vote of 392 to 37, was a major success for Republicans, who devised a solution to a complex policy problem that had frustrated lawmakers of both parties. Mr. Obama has endorsed the bill, saying it “could help slow health care cost growth.”

The bill, drafted in the House in negotiations between Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, also extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program for two years, through 2017.

Without action by Congress, doctors would have faced a 21 percent cut in Medicare fees on Wednesday or Thursday. Senate leaders cleared the way for final passage by allowing votes on several amendments sought by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans.

April 16, 2015 Posted by | education, health care, political/social, politics, poverty, walking | | Leave a comment

NCAA predictions, Apple and the Poor…

Swim: 500 easy, 6 x 100 on 2:10 (alt fist/free; 1:53-1:57), 2 x 200 on 4 (3:31, 3:33), drill/swim, count (4 x 25; 22-23 strokes), off strokes.
Not much; just enough.

Posts

Basketball: how did Fivethirtyeight.com do? Ok.

Paul Krugman: talks about the new Apple products which allow for you to be tracked. But it also helps one avoid time wasting line waiting. The principle:

Consider the Varian rule, which says that you can forecast the future by looking at what the rich have today — that is, that what affluent people will want in the future is, in general, something like what only the truly rich can afford right now. Well, one thing that’s very clear if you spend any time around the rich — and one of the very few things that I, who by and large never worry about money, sometimes envy — is that rich people don’t wait in line. They have minions who ensure that there’s a car waiting at the curb, that the maitre-d escorts them straight to their table, that there’s a staff member to hand them their keys and their bags are already in the room.

And it’s fairly obvious how smart wristbands could replicate some of that for the merely affluent. Your reservation app provides the restaurant with the data it needs to recognize your wristband, and maybe causes your table to flash up on your watch, so you don’t mill around at the entrance, you just walk in and sit down (which already happens in Disney World.) You walk straight into the concert or movie you’ve bought tickets for, no need even to have your phone scanned. And I’m sure there’s much more — all kinds of context-specific services that you won’t even have to ask for, because systems that track you know what you’re up to and what you’re about to need.

Poverty One of the biggest divides among my friends is how poverty is viewed. One group (conservatives) see most of it as the result of bad choices made by someone (though they acknowledge that bad things can happen from time to time) whereas others consider it mostly fate (a function of where one was born), with a few outliers here and there who managed to escape it. You see this debate born out in the newspapers; for example, consider the argument over whether or not there should be laws dictating what people getting public aid should be able to do (point, counter point)

One frequently hears the phrase about the poor “being demonized” (here some food stamp recipients are being called “leeches”) and some try to compare public aid programs to tax breaks.

That is “apples and oranges” for the following reason: suppose there is a new law that reduces the effective income tax rate on someone making 1,000,000 a year from, say, 18 percent to 15 percent. That person is still paying 150,000 year in income taxes, whereas it is likely that the public aid recipient is paying 0 (though paying sales taxes, payroll taxes, etc.) Who is contributing more to society, even after the tax break?

Also, consider the following: people are poor due to bad luck (say, untimely accident or being a kid born into it), bad decisions or due to being incompetent and dumb. Though one might have some empathy for those who have terrible luck, no one holds unfortunate people in esteem; who wants to believe that they are one untimely illness, lay off or accident from being just like that? That is too scary to contemplate.

And as far as poor people who make idiotic decisions, surf to the “leeches” post and note that one of the entitled sounding welfare mothers has SIX kids!!!! SIX!!!!

Such stupid, irresponsible behavior is often the rule rather than the exception:

Edin sees in these obstacles to full-time fatherhood a partial explanation for what’s known as “multiple-partner fertility.” Among low-income, unwed parents, having children with more than one partner is now the norm. One long-running study found that in nearly 60 percent of the unwed couples who had a baby, at least one parent already had a child with another partner.

Multiple-partner fertility is a formula for unstable families, and it’s really bad for children, which Edin acknowledges in the book. But rather than view “serial dads” as simply irresponsible, Edin suggests that they suffer from unrequited “father thirst,” the desire for the intense experience of being a full-time dad. Consciously or not, they keep trying until they finally sort of get it right, usually with the youngest child, to whom they devote most of their resources at the expense of the older ones.

Yes, many poor people behave in a way that worsens their plight and adds to the public aid rolls. That is undeniable.

Of course, the astute might wonder about “correlation vs. causation”, in that: does poverty cause stupid behavior or is it the other way around? There is some evidence that it is the former.

But none of this makes it easy to sympathize with them; they are the easiest people in the world to look down on.

One of the most difficult things to do is to ask: “ok, where would I be had I been born in different circumstances, or had something bad happen to me?” It is easy to fantasize how one would have overcome but…statistically speaking, reality is different.

No, I am not wealthy but I don’t lack either. My parents weren’t rich but they gave me love, a safe place to live, plenty to eat, fun stuff to do and gave me access to good schools. And I had just enough…well…not really talent but just enough abilities to get the degrees and modest credentials that got me a steady job.

April 11, 2015 Posted by | basketball, politics, politics/social, poverty, social/political, swimming | 2 Comments

Social and economic divisions in the US

I know that is would be a politically unwise move. But there are some who want to celebrate the Union’s victory over the Treasonous States (aka Confederate States)(by Brian Beutler) :

In a speech one month ago, the first black president of the United States challenged millions of white Americans to resist the convenient allure of overlooking the country’s blemished moral record. It was a dual challenge, actually—first to the classical understanding of American exceptionalism, but also to America’s persistent critics, who abjure the concept of exceptionalism altogether.

“What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this?” President Barack Obama said. “What greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?”

This was both a rejection of the fairytale America perpetuated by American conservatives, in which national virtue overwhelms sin, and a statement of faith in the country’s robust capacity for self-improvement. And he delivered it in Selma, Alabama—a Southern city whose folksy name evokes state-sanctioned, state-administered violence against black citizens—on the fiftieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Selma would be a perverse venue for celebrating the Jingo’s exceptional America, but it was the perfect backdrop for Obama’s more nuanced rendering: the convening point of the march to Montgomery, on a bridge named after Edmund Pettus—a vicious white supremacist, who committed treason against the United States as a Confederate general, and later terrorized former slaves as an Alabama Klansman and Democratic Senator.

And so

This week provides an occasion for the U.S. government to get real about history, as April 9 is the 150th anniversary of the Union’s victory in the Civil War. The generous terms of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House foreshadowed a multitude of real and symbolic compromises that the winners of the war would make with secessionists, slavery supporters, and each other to piece the country back together.

Of course this would infuriate the South, but at this point I really don’t care. They still go on about “The War of Northern Aggression” so perhaps they need to be reminded as to who won?

To be blunt: I wish that we hadn’t have fought that war…we would be a stronger nation today had we just let them go.

But this idea isn’t going anywhere.

Punishing the slackers I think that there is a time and place for “tough love” and to challenge people to do better. And yes, if one is on public aid, should one be spending money on stuff that harms one’s life (e. g. cigarettes)?
But when it comes to public aid programs, it is unwise to lard programs with extensive restrictions which can be costly, ineffective and demoralizing. The drug testing program was one of these; what passed in the Kansas legislature is another. No, I don’t think that strip clubs and porn stores are an appropriate use of taxpayer money. But pools? Isn’t swimming healthy and uplifting?

Never mind that: why lard up a program with expensive, difficult to enforce restrictions that attack a problem which hasn’t been shown to be statistically large?

Conservatives see things differently. Forget “libertarians”; they are tiny in number and not significant, as Paul Krugman points out:

Well, the best story I have is Corey Robin’s: It’s fundamentally about challenging or sustaining traditional hierarchy. The actual lineup of positions on social and economic issues doesn’t make sense if you assume that conservatives are, as they claim, defenders of personal liberty on all fronts. But it makes perfect sense if you suppose that conservatism is instead about preserving traditional forms of authority: employers over workers, patriarchs over families. A strong social safety net undermines the first, because it empowers workers to demand more or quit; permissive social policy undermines the second in obvious ways.

And I suppose that you have to say that modern liberalism is in some sense the obverse — it is about creating a society that is more fluid as well as fairer. We all like to laugh at the war-on-Christmas types, right-wing blowhards who fulminate about the liberal plot to destroy family values. We like to point out that a country like France, with maternity leave, aid to new mothers, and more, is a lot more family-friendly than rat-race America. But if “family values” actually means traditional structures of authority, then there’s a grain of truth in the accusation. Both social insurance and civil rights are solvents that dissolve some of the restraints that hold people in place, be they unhappy workers or unhappy spouses. And that’s part of why people like me support them.

In any case, bear this in mind whenever you read some pontificating about a libertarian moment, or whatever. There are almost no genuine libertarians in America — and the people who like to use that name for themselves do not, in reality, love liberty.

Krugman has a bit more snark, especially for those who call his macroeconomic ideas “radical”:

The message instead is for those people — you know who you are — who imagine that the macroeconomics in this blog and in my column is somehow way out there on the left. In reality, I’m almost depressingly mainstream. It’s the other side in these debates that is showing lots of creativity, coming up with novel and innovative arguments about why we should do stupid things.

And as far as facts: well, conservatives desperately try to discredit any bit of good news:

Two impossible things happened to the U.S. economy over the course of the past year — or at least they were supposed to be impossible, according to the ideology that dominates half our political spectrum. First, remember how Obamacare was supposed to be a gigantic job killer? Well, in the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s full implementation, the U.S. economy as a whole added 3.3 million jobs — the biggest gain since the 1990s. Second, half a million of those jobs were added in California, which has taken the lead in job creation away from Texas.

Were President Obama’s policies the cause of national job growth? Did Jerry Brown — the tax-raising, Obamacare-embracing governor of California — engineer his state’s boom? No, and few liberals would claim otherwise. What we’ve been seeing at both the national and the state level is mainly a natural process of recovery as the economy finally starts to heal from the housing and debt bubbles of the Bush years.

But recent job growth, nonetheless, has big political implications — implications so disturbing to many on the right that they are in frantic denial, claiming that the recovery is somehow bogus. Why can’t they handle the good news? The answer actually comes on three levels: Obama Derangement Syndrome, or O.D.S.; Reaganolatry; and the confidence con.

[…]

Which brings us to the last point: the confidence con.

One enduring puzzle of political economy is why business interests so often oppose policies to fight unemployment. After all, boosting the economy with expansionary monetary and fiscal policy is good for profits as well as wages, yet many wealthy individuals and business leaders demand tight money and austerity instead.

As a number of observers have pointed out, however, for big businesses to admit that government policies can create jobs would be to devalue one of their favorite political arguments — the claim that to achieve prosperity politicians must preserve business confidence, among other things, by refraining from any criticism of what businesspeople do.

In the case of the Obama economy, this kind of thinking led to what I like to call the “Ma! He’s looking at me funny!” theory of sluggish recovery. By this I mean the insistence that recovery wasn’t being held back by objective factors like spending cuts and debt overhang, but rather by the corporate elite’s hurt feelings after Mr. Obama suggested that some bankers behaved badly and some executives might be overpaid. Who knew that moguls and tycoons were such sensitive souls? In any case, however, that theory is unsustainable in the face of a recovery that has finally started to deliver big job gains, even if it should have happened sooner.

I think it is best to view conservatives who hold beliefs similar to the theological beliefs held by religiously conservative people; trying to convince one with data is like trying to convince a Biblical literalist that it is logically impossible for the Bible to be literally true.

So what is an example of a liberal vision? Here is an example. Yes, no conservative would ever agree with it.

Economics and politics So how does the economy affect an upcoming election? There is evidence that what helps the incumbent isn’t overall performance but rather the change in the few months preceding the election.

April 8, 2015 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, republicans, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Japanese fighter pilots, Buffett’s mobile homes, desired failure and welfare steaks…

Workout notes
Weight in the morning: 185 (after breakfast).
Now I went to the Riverplex and ran to Wodruff (via the goose loop), 1 mile 7:51 (3:57 for 809, 3:54 for second 800), 3/4 mile walk, 9:22 mile in lane 2. (about a 9:14 mile), then 2.2 miles back for 7 miles total.
Very humbling; though the mile wasn’t all out, it was hard and I put forth quite a bit of effort.

Then to the weight room:
pull ups (5 sets of 10, rotator cuff)
military presses (10 x 85 standing, 8 x 85, 10 x 180 seated, machine).
incline presses: 2 x 135, 10 x 115 (different angle)

This was about 30 minutes worth.

That was humbling. Was it only 15 years ago that I ran a half marathon at 7:17 per mile? Now ONE sub 8 minute mile is difficult. I want to scream “what am I doing wrong?
The idea that I am merely slowing the rate of decline instead of improving is still tough to adjust to.

Posts

Well, Warren Buffett is one of those “favorite billionaires”. But he is still a billionaire and how does one become one? Of course, I don’t know how involved he is with the details of this operation and I don’t have a balanced view. And, well, no easy way to say it…I am not exactly a fan of those hurt by these policies. But people don’t deserve to be mistreated and cheated (even if legally cheated), even if I might not like them.

SNAP Yes, I approve of this program, knowing that here and there, a slacker might be taking advantage. So on this debate:

n 2013, Fox News proudly broadcast an interview with a young food stamp recipient who claimed to be using the government benefit to purchase lobster and sushi.

“This is the way I want to live and I don’t really see anything changing,” Jason Greenslate explained to Fox. “It’s free food; it’s awesome.”

That story fit a longtime conservative suspicion that poor people use food stamps to purchase luxury items. Now, a Republican state lawmaker in Missouri is pushing for legislation that would stop people like Greenslate and severely limit what food stamp recipients can buy. The bill being proposed would ban the purchase with food stamps of “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steak.”

“The intention of the bill is to get the food stamp program back to its original intent, which is nutrition assistance,” said Rick Brattin, the representative who is sponsoring the proposed legislation. […}

On one hand, yes, SNAP is to help people out with the basics and, no I don’t want to see it used for luxury items. But, on the other hand: how often does that happen? Do you see poor people buying caviar?
Seriously, saying “I was this a couple of times” doesn’t justify changing the law; I’d like to see some data as to how often it is abused prior to seeing the time and effort being put toward a change in the law.

More Republicans: evidently, some are actually upset that Ben Bernanke took steps to prevent a failure that they predicted:

Ah: I see that there was a Twitter exchange among Brad DeLong, James Pethokoukis, and others over why Republicans don’t acknowledge that Ben Bernanke helped the economy, and claim credit. Pethokoukis — who presumably gets to talk to quite a few Republicans from his perch at AEI — offers a fairly amazing explanation:

B/c many view BB as enabling Obama’s spending and artificially propping up debt-heavy economy in need of Mellon-esque liquidation

Yep: that dastardly Bernanke was preventing us from having a financial crisis, curse him.

Actually, there’s a lot of evidence that this was an important part of the story. As I pointed out a couple of months ago, Paul Ryan and John Taylor went all-out conspiracy theory on the Bernanke Fed, claiming that its efforts were not about trying to fulfill its mandate, but rather that

This looks an awful lot like an attempt to bail out fiscal policy, and such attempts call the Fed’s independence into question.

Basically, leading Republicans didn’t just expect a disaster, they wanted one — and they were furious at Bernanke for, as they saw it, heading off the crisis they hoped to see. It’s a pretty awesome position to take. But it makes a lot of sense when you consider where these people were coming from.

Krugman goes on to say that this doesn’t exactly instill confidence that the Republicans will do what is best for the country, with regards to the proposed Iran deal.

War
A former Japanese fighter pilot recalls the hell of war and explains why he never wants to see it again:

“Nothing is as terrifying as war,” he began, before spending the next 90 minutes recounting his role in battles, from Japan’s early triumph at Pearl Harbor to its disastrous reversals at Midway and Guadalcanal. “I want to tell you my experiences in war so that younger generations don’t have to go through the same horrors that I did.”

[…]

In an interview after his speech, Mr. Harada described himself as “the last Zero fighter,” or at least the last pilot still alive who flew during that aircraft’s glory days early in the war with the United States. He recounted how in dogfights, he flew close enough to his opponents to see the terror on their faces as he sent them crashing to their deaths.

“I fought the war from the cockpit of a Zero, and can still remember the faces of those I killed,” said Mr. Harada, who said he was able to meet and befriend some of his foes who survived the war. “They were fathers and sons, too. I didn’t hate them or even know them.”

“That is how war robs you of your humanity,” he added, “by putting you in a situation where you must either kill perfect strangers or be killed by them.”

This is a very powerful article about someone who has been there.

Science Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg lists his “best 13 science books” for the layperson; I have read one of these and much (most?) of two others.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, running, social/political, time trial/ race, weight training | , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 671 other followers