Resentment of Syrian refugees and Trump: not mere bigotry

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

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

So, what is my post about?

I’ll comment on two things.

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

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

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

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

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

The Kasich campaign is trying to hit back ..

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

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

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

Oh sure…what is going on is mostly this:


But I CAN understand at least some of the resentment.

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

Games, free speech, terrorism, etc.

Workout notes: 10 K “run” on the track: 9:59, 9:44, 9:33, 9:32, 9:27. 9:44 then 3:10 walk/jog inner lane 2 laps (58:03 at 6, 1:01:13 for 10K). It was mostly an empty track.
Gads. Though this was not a race effort by any means, IT WAS WORK. Sigh…

Posts: It is the start of Thanksgiving break and so I played hooky and went to a daytime game (no classes). The Bradley women got creamed 72-59 by Western Michigan; WMU lead by 16 before freely substituting.

But hey, it was a game to watch. :-)

Statistics Yes, I know the technical definition of p-value and what “it means”. But attempts to “make it intelligible” to non-experts often fail:

What I learned by asking all these very smart people to explain p-values is that I was on a fool’s errand. Try to distill the p-value down to an intuitive concept and it loses all its nuances and complexity, said science journalist Regina Nuzzo, a statistics professor at Gallaudet University. “Then people get it wrong, and this is why statisticians are upset and scientists are confused.” You can get it right, or you can make it intuitive, but it’s all but impossible to do both.

No fly zones: Turkey shot down a Russian fighter. Ugh. Last I heard, Turkey claimed that the fighter was over Russian airspace and Russia denies that.

Free speech A survey came out about whether it is a good thing to censor speech that “is offensive to minorities”. Not surprisingly, Democrats were more approving of censorship than Republicans (though NOT the majority of Democrats) and the youngest generation (millennials) were strongest in favor of censorship. The good news is that the more educated the person, the less likely that they would approve of censorship. That is good news, given some of the nonsense one hears coming from college campuses these-a-days.

Republicans and Donald Trump

Sure it is still early and most people haven’t started to pay attention to the election. Nevertheless, Donald Trump really is doing well and it should not be that surprising:

Indeed. You have a party whose domestic policy agenda consists of shouting “death panels!”, whose foreign policy agenda consists of shouting “Benghazi!”, and which now expects its base to realize that Trump isn’t serious. Or to put it a bit differently, the definition of a GOP establishment candidate these days is someone who is in on the con, and knows that his colleagues have been talking nonsense. Primary voters are expected to respect that?

And it isn’t a surprise that the terror attacks in Paris helped him:

Conventional wisdom on the politics of terror seems to be faring just as badly as conventional wisdom on the politics of everything. Donald Trump went up, not down, in the polls after Paris — Republican voters somehow didn’t decide to rally around “serious” candidates. And as Greg Sargent notes, polls suggest that the public trusts Hillary Clinton as much if not more than Republicans to fight terror.

May I suggest that these are related?

After all, where did the notion that Republicans are effective on terror come from? Mainly from a rally-around-the-flag effect after 9/11. But if you think about it, Bush became America’s champion against terror because, um, the nation suffered from a big terrorist attack on his watch. It never made much sense.

What Bush did do was talk tough, boasting that he would get Osama bin Laden dead or alive. But, you know, he didn’t. And guess who did?

So people who trust Republicans on terror — which presumably includes the GOP base — are going to be the kind of people who value big talk and bluster over actual evidence of effectiveness. Why on earth would you expect such people to turn against Trump after an attack?

Hey, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh created Donald Trump’s candidacy.

November 24, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, republicans, republicans politics, running, statistics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Trump: much more politically savvy that many think.

I still remember Scott Adams (the creator of the comic strip Dilbert) writing about Donald Trump having a “clown genius”. I highly recommend reading that article.

I really think that people are underestimating Mr. Trump’s political skill too.

I am on his mailing list and I just got a “campaign update” from him. I’ve reproduced it at the end of this post.
Frankly, it was better written and more effective than most of the BS that I get from candidates that I intend to vote for! It just gives a few snapshots and a brief summary of the events of the campaign.

He has a twitter account and frequently retweets messages from supporters, thus giving the supporters a chance to play a “brief moment of fame lottery”.

Now as far as his policies? Well, let’s just say that he is usually in a “hey, I am a successful rich guy, so I’ll hire “great people” to figure it all out” mode.

Now he has said some things that outrage many people who vote the way that I do. For example, at a recent campaign event, a vocal “Black Lives Matter” protester wasn’t just taken out of the area by security (and I think that is a reasonable thing to do; no one is entitled to a captive audience), but the protester was physically roughed up. When asked about it, Mr. Trump’s campaign said that it didn’t “condone” such behavior but Mr. Trump himself said “maybe he should have been”.

But you know what? I have contempt for those who try to disrupt campaign rallies and the like: how does THIS make you feel?

No, she wasn’t roughed up and the BLM protester shouldn’t have been roughed up either. But Mr. Trump’s answer plays well with many who are exasperated by these self-righteous, noisy, obnoxious “activists”.

Mr. Trump retweeted some of the most ridiculous (satirical troll?) memes I’ve ever seen:


(for those uncomfortable with numbers: these “statistics” are gibberish and signify nothing)

Mr. Trump also told a whopper about Arab Americans in New Jersey openly celebrating the 9/11 attacks.

But who in the heck really fact-checks their own candidate? The more important thing is that the candidate makes the followers feel welcome and that the candidate appears to share the resentments that their followers share.

I really believe it is a mistake to underestimate this man; I wonder if the Republican establishment does.

Trump’s newsletter to follow:








November 23, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

November 10 Republican Debate: Republicans are a different species?

I watched last night’s “varsity” debate. A decent Summary is here. This is another excellent summary which highlights some differences between the candidates.

Some thoughts:

1. It is as if Republicans have never heard of basic macroeconomics.
2. All of their tax plans have a disproportional benefit to the wealthiest among us.


3. Only Carson mentioned Sanders. All of the rest attacked Hillary Clinton again and again, with Fiorina going after her the hardest.

4. Many of the Republicans don’t understand progressive taxation: 10 percent for someone making 30,000 a year is vastly more important to that individual than 10 percent of someone making 300,000 per year.

5. Some of the candidates actually gave praise to some of what President Obama is doing (Kasich, Carson, Bush)

6.Fiorina and Cruz have mastered either “lying while sounding sincere” or speaking forcefully on matters that they know nothing about. Fiorina got wild praise for saying she’d do stuff that we are already doing (Middle East) and Cruz repeated the “Congress is exempt from Obamacare” lie.

7. There was a huge fault line between Rubio and Paul on defense spending.

8, There is also a division between the “adult immigration” plan and the “send ’em all back” types.

9. Kasich and Bush actually spoke elegantly about banks (having the assets to cover investment risks) that just confused the heck out of the Fox Business News talking (pin)heads.

10. A list of the “new” Republican ideas: mining coal, gold standard, deregulation of business, no minimum wage. Hmmm, it seems as if we tried that. Is the “Gilded Age” a Republican utopia?

11. Republicans are at least mentioning income inequality. But their prescription: LESS regulation! Seriously. They act as if large businesses doing well at the expense of small ones is the result of large governments. I can’t believe it was a Republican (Teddy Roosevelt) that broke up the monopolies.

12. Rand Paul needs to understand correlation vs. causation (that large cities have lots of rich people) and Rubio needs to learn that it is “fewer philosophers”, not “less philosophers”. Philosophers got attacked; not that this is a bad thing.

13. Some hate the TPP; Kasich actually supported it. Paul reminded Trump that China was not a part of this.

14. Trump spoke favorably about PUtin intervening in Syria. Rubio called him a “gangster”. Paul cautioned about “no fly zones” stepping on Russia: do we really want more war?

Of course, given that many of the questions (not all) were larded with GOP-friendly hypothesis, I’d imagine that the Republicans liked this debate. But seriously: it is almost as if Republicans have come from a different planet than I do. Every time I get sick of stupid liberals (there are some, and they are noisy) I think that I might join the Republicans, and then I see this. Oh boy. There is nothing for me here.

November 11, 2015 Posted by | politics, republicans | , | Leave a comment

Yes, I’ve got butt-hurt

Workout notes: weights, treadmill run, 1 mile cool down walk.
Weights: 5 sets of 10 pull ups (4 then 1), rotator cuff
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 7 x 170
incline: 10 x 135
military: 2 sets of 12 x 50 dumbbell seated, supported, 10 x 40 standing
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 50 each arm (dumbbell), 10 x 110 machine

Run: treadmill (save the legs) 10:50 mile 1, then .5-.5-.5 at 6.7,6.8, 6.9 .25 7, .25 7.1 then .2 7.1. 17:23 2 mile. Then 1 mile on the track.

And this is where the butt-hurt comes in: Saturday’s “disaster at Mc-Not-Again” left me with a very sore butt (gluteal muscles). The reality is that I didn’t “do my homework” on the very steep hills. The Bradley Park road hills, while challenging, are no substitute.

Oh yes, there are other types of butt-hurt and this is discussed in this 32 minute video:



No, I did not go as there was a Bradley Basketball game last night. But Trump drew 10K. And he is taking shots at Sen. Rubio:


November 10, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, running, weight training | , | Leave a comment

One issue where social conservatives have a valid point

Workout notes: not much. Easy 3 mile jog (down to Bradley Park to Markin) followed by a light weight session:
pull ups: 5 sets of 10, rotator cuff
bench press: 10 x 135, 7 x 170.
incline press: 10 x 135
military: 2 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell, 10 x 200 machine
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine

That’s pretty much it. It wasn’t supposed to be much.

Issue: “transgender students” and female lockerroom/showers

I read the following:

CNN reported:

A Chicago-area school district violated anti-discrimination laws by denying a transgender student full access to the girl’s locker room, federal authorities said, the latest inquiry to side with students who feel discriminated against by school policies.
The finding against Township High School District 211 concerns only one of numerous complaints of discrimination made by transgender students.

“All students deserve the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities — this is a basic civil right,” Assistant U.S. Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said in a statement Monday.

John McCormack, with the The Weekly Standard said that the case out of Illinois is the latest controversy since the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and Department of Education have ruled that anatomically male teenagers who think they’re girls have the right to shower and change clothes in girls’ locker rooms.

So the battle lines are drawn, and the Social Justice Warriors are accusing people who question the appropriateness of allowing humans with X-Y chromosomes to use female locker rooms and showers of being bigots.

My thoughts: first of all, I don’t know what those facilities are like. I do know that the gyms that I now use have shower stalls; the ones I used to use (both at the University and at Central Pool) were of these types:



It is my guess that many (most?) women (those with X-X chromosomes) would not be comfortable showering with someone who had a penis. And yes, I said so on Facebook.

One person responded by trying to discuss “gender” (someone’s “gender” is, evidently determined by what they think that they are…not sure if this is supposed to be correlated with the biological sex). I know that “gender” means in grammar but am not sure what it means in this context.

But that misses my point entirely.

My point is this: why do we think it is a good idea to have separate locker rooms for males and for females? Why? Answering that question, I think, would be revealing.

IF the answer is what I think it is, then weather one believes that a human being with a penis can “be” a woman is irrelevant (or even what it means to “be” of the “female gender”).

I think that we have separate locker rooms and showers because people feel uncomfortable being around others of the “other SEX” in such a setting. How that other person “feels about themselves” is really irrelevant here.

Again, I am not making any statement on human psychology; I am not qualified to do that. I am not saying that our culture will never change.

But I am saying that as long as our society sees fit to have separate locker rooms and showers for “males and females” (I still think in terms of biology), then it is reasonable that some would have concerns about someone of the different sex being in the locker room with them and such concerns are not mere “bigotry”.

Now of course, I might be missing something about the whole concept of male/female locker rooms. But for now, I think that biological sex matters and I don’t fault people for being concerned.

One other point: someone asked me “so what about people who have had sex change surgery?” Here is my answer: if they appear to be of the same biological sex as others in the locker room, why would it matter?

And that further reinforced my point: I can see a valid objection in terms of the perceptions of the others in the locker room; in a sense the perception of the individual (the “transgender” person) really isn’t the issue here. That rules out the “sneaky male pervert” argument; after all, homosexuals exist and I don’t see any valid argument for excluding them.

Now note: I am talking about showers and not bathrooms (which contain stalls). This interesting post shows how awkward it could be: this person looks like a male to me:


And so, it is the appearance to others that matters.

November 6, 2015 Posted by | politics, social/political | Leave a comment

Republican primary elections and the mortality of white males in the US

This is Paul Krugman’s take on a new study that shows that the mortality among middle age white males is on the rise in the United States:

This new paper by Angus Deaton and Anne Case on mortality among middle-aged whites has been getting a lot of attention, and rightly so. As a number of people have pointed out, the closest parallel to America’s rising death rates — driven by poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases — is the collapse in Russian life expectancy after the fall of Communism. (No, we’re not doing as badly as that, but still.) What the data look like is a society gripped by despair, with a surge of unhealthy behaviors and an epidemic of drugs, very much including alcohol.

This picture goes along with declining labor force participation and other indicators of social unraveling. Something terrible is happening to white American society. And it’s a uniquely American phenomenon; you don’t see anything like it in Europe, which means that it’s not about a demoralizing welfare state or any of the other myths so popular in our political discourse.

There’s a lot to be said, or at any rate suggested, about the politics of this disaster. But I’ll come back to that some other time. For now, the thing to understand, to say it again, is that something terrible is happening to our country — and it’s not about Those People, it’s about the white majority.

Note: the rise in mortality is caused by the rise in mortality in the lower educated, lower economic level white males. Note: this table is about CHANGE in mortality rates, not mortality rates.


This reminded me of some of the predictions that the social scientist William Julius Wilson made in his book When Work Disappears. He predicted that some of the social problems that afflict the poorer African American community would start showing up in the lower economic class white communities.

This is an interesting article about the Republican primary. Many Republican districts allocate delegates by vote share in their respective districts. So in “blue” districts (where there are fewer Republicans), the vote of a Republican in a primary election carries extra impact (on a “per voter basis”), and that might give the more moderate Republican candidates a nationwide advantage, at least in Presidential elections. In short, being more extreme helps in Republican districts (hence what we see in the House) but hurts in the Presidential primary.

November 5, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Megyn Kelly mocking Republican debate demands…

OMG, this is hilarious.

Note: Donald Trump is going to Springfield, IL next Monday. I might have to take a road trip!

November 3, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

Obama, Putin, Republicans and Gohmert

President Obama landed a body blow to the current crop of Republican presidential candidates:

And no, being asked about your tax plan numbers not adding up is not an unfair debate question.

Louie Gohmert: he said that support to “impeach President Obama” was not widespread. The way to read this: remember the district that he represents (in East Texas) is a bit like this:


His constituents live in a bubble where they KNOW that “everyone” (save a few miscreants) wants President Obama to be impeached.

November 3, 2015 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

News of the irrelevant …

Workout notes: swimming, plus a 3 mile walk to Bradley Park and back (bottom) via Markin. I’ll lift tomorrow.
swim: 500 easy, 500 of 50 drill (fins), 50 free, 5 x 200 on the 4: 3:37, 3:37, 3:37, 3:34, 3:32. This was my best since spring and the start of marathon training, though I’ve done better in the past 2 years or so. It felt ok today. But I’d better do my rotator cuff exercises tomorrow.

Irrelevant: yes, Jim Webb is considering running as an independent. I am not sure if he’ll even draw 1 percent.

Oh, and Gov. Christie “isn’t going anywhere”. True…but not in the way he thinks:


College Football

Illinois at Penn State. Penn State is favored by 4-5 points. Here is what you need to know: 1, 0, 1, 1. That stands for the number of road games won by the Illini since 2011: Indiana (bad team), Purdue (bad team), Northwestern (depleted team). Lions win and probably cover; I call it 28-17 but it might be closer than that. Illinois won at home last year 16-14 on a last second field goal. But two of the Illini wins this year were due to unforced errors on the other team.

Texas at Iowa State: I almost went to this one (opted for an NFL game instead: Rams vs. 49’ers). Texas is favored by 6-6.5 points. UT has gotten blown out on the road this year, but that was by Notre Dame and TCU. Iowa State is nowhere near as good as either. I pick the Horns to win 24-17 or thereabouts.

South Florida at Navy: Navy favored by 7; could be a trap game as USF is not a pushover. Nevertheless the Mids are playing very well; I’ll pick them to win and to meet the spread; say 28-21.

Notre Dame at Temple: ND is favored by 10.5 over undefeated and ranked Temple. Big game; Temple plays well but ND wins by, say, 31-28. ND’s defense is weak.

So to win:

Penn State, Texas, Notre Dame, Navy.

Spread: Navy, Texas (right at a “push”), Penn State and Temple.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | college football, politics, walking | , | Leave a comment


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