One of Hillary Clinton’s strengths …

I looked at this clip from the bruising 2008 Democratic Primary. Yes, I was a strong Obama backer and I am glad that I voted for him. But this little speech by then Sen. Clinton stuck with me:

At 40 seconds, she gets on then Sen. Obama for being naive about the nature of the opposition. Here she was talking about “special interests” but she could have been talking about the Republicans. Obama had campaigned on the idea that if you met them half way and went with the better Republican ideas, they’d go along. In fact, when the opposition said that their main goal was to make him a “one term President”, they weren’t kidding.

These bastards had zero interest in actual governing. And Hillary Clinton understands that.

But at the time, I felt that the country had to try.

Later, at roughly 2 minutes into the video, she talks about the health care plan and Obama’s plan NOT having a mandate, whereas hers did. At the time, I said that I was indifferent as to which plans as both were better than what we had. But I thought that we’d get whatever we could negotiate with the Republicans. It turns out that the negotiations were with the “blue dogs” in the Senate. But the final plan did have a mandate.

I think that Hillary Clinton can do a bit of “I told you so” during the 2016 campaign while not alienating the Democrats.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | 2016, hillary clinton, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Perceptions, getting caught in traps and urban renewal

I think it is clear that, on the average, we tend to hang around those who are a bit like us. Hence it is easy for the wealthier (or merely comfortable) among us to get a false sense of what things are like for most people.

And here is an example of that: a person becomes disabled in a crash..and the only way to qualify for Medicare treatment and facilities is…for the family to remain poor. This is one problem with means-tested programs; if your income level is in the “wrong” area and you don’t have the right types of insurance, it can be devastating to a family.

I’ve also seen cases in which a couple in which one person was more elderly than the other have to get divorced; nursing home care can be outrageously expensive and if one person’s assets get exhausted, they go after the other person’s assets (house, everything).

Urban renewal: politically, this puts a lot of liberals in a concentrated area. Hence, urban congressional districts are often won by massive margins; the rural ones are won by Republicans with lesser margins. Gerrymandering makes this effect worse.

Bottom line: we can have situations in which the Democrats in Congress get many more votes than the Republicans, and yet the Republicans come away with a large majority. But the numbers hold up in Presidential elections.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, social/political | | 2 Comments

Obama’s “Third Term” remark: supporters, detractors and media miss the point!

I admit that flinched a bit when I saw this article being passed around:


And of course:

supporters: “I’d vote for him again; he is doing well”. (disclaimer: this was me at first, until I watched the remarks for myself)
detractors: “what an arrogant SOB, ….”

But for the context:

As he wrapped up what may be his final trip to Africa while in office, Mr. Obama took aim at some of the continent’s gerontocracy and called on long-entrenched leaders to step down, declaring that “nobody should be president for life.” But it led to an off-the-cuff riff about his own improved political standing and his future.

“I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” Mr. Obama said, departing from his prepared text in a speech at the African Union. “I think if I ran, I could win.”

“There’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving,” he added. “But the law is the law,” he said, “and no person is above the law, not even the president.”

The comments reflect a bitter issue in Africa: the attempts by some leaders to hold onto power well beyond their terms expire. Just this month, the president of Burundi pushed through with elections that gave him a third term in office, throwing his nation into upheaval in a move widely regarded as violating the country’s constitution and a peace agreement that ended a devastating civil war.

The part in bold text is the point of this speech! Really! Watch for yourself:

People, supporters and detractors alike, are missing the point, and much of this stems from the headlines in the media.

Of course, this is typical. President Obama can’t run for a third term. But Secretary Clinton is running, and expect to hear “What difference does it make” (on Benghazi) again and again.

So a bit of context will be helpful:

Johnson: But, Madame Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened wouldn’t have ascertained immediately that there was no protest? That was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained?

Clinton: But, Senator, again—

Johnson: Within hours, if not days?

Clinton: Senator, you know, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on, number one—

Johnson: I realize that’s a good excuse.

Clinton: Well, no, it’s the fact. Number two, I would recommend highly you read both what the ARB said about it and the classified ARB because, even today, there are questions being raised. Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing is still unknown —

Johnson: No, again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that — an assault sprang out of that — and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.

Clinton: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.

Johnson: OK. Thank you, Madame Secretary.

So you see, she made this statement in the context of “at that time, we had other concerns”. The important fact, at that time, was that there was an attack and that we had to find a way to get help; the cause of the attack was something to deal with AFTER the initial emergency was over.

But don’t expect her detractors to admit that, even though it is as clear as day. Remember: politics “makes us stupid”; we seek isolated quips and factoids that confirm what we already think that we “know”.

And yes, “both sides” do this:

President Bush ignited a Democratic inferno of criticism on Monday by suggesting the war on terrorism could not be won, forcing his aides to scramble to defend his remarks just as he had hoped to bask in convention accolades.

On the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Mr. Bush sought to emphasize the economy, but his comments on terrorism dominated national attention.

In an interview on NBC-TV’s “Today” show, Mr. Bush vowed to stay the course in the war on terror, saying perseverance in the battle would make the world safer for future generations. But he suggested an all-out victory against terrorism might not be possible.

The sad thing is that President Bush was correct and said pretty much what then Senator Kerry said:

President George W Bush launched another offensive against Senator John Kerry’s credentials as commander-in-chief yesterday for saying he wanted to get to a point at which terrorism was merely a “nuisance”.
Mr Bush’s campaign staff seized on remarks Mr Kerry made to the New York Times magazine to accuse him of gravely underestimating the terrorist threat.
Asked what it would it take for Americans to feel safe again, the Democratic candidate drew on his experiences as a prosecutor in the 1970s to give a far less stark view of the threat than Mr Bush.
‘We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance,” he said.
“I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling.
“But we’re going to reduce it, organised crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day.”
Bush supporters saw the remarks as a gift as the president rams home his message that Mr Kerry is not tough enough to lead the fight against terrorism.

Don’t you love it: each side attacked the other side for saying…well, pretty much the same thing. :-)

Campaign season. Expect it.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social | , , , | Leave a comment

Primary Season is coming up…

Yes, I know; it is still a few months off. Voters are gradually starting to pay attention. Yes, despite a “Sanders surge”, Clinton still leads by a wide margin with her biggest favorable ratings coming among liberal Democrats (81 percent) and non-white Democrats (80 percent). It will be tough for her to crack 50 percent nationally as we are so polarized. BUT President Obama won with similar approval ratings in 2012. Yes, he was the incumbent

The schedule is a bit later than it was in 2008.

Ironically, I see more opposition to Hillary Clinton coming from the left than from the right! Now of course, that reflects my friends list; those who are really into politics ..the most passionate tend to be a bit more extremist ideologically pure and would therefore see her as being too “corporate friendly” and too “hawkish”. I do have a few Facebook friends who are politically conservative but not nearly as many.

As far as the other candidates: I do like James Webb, though I wouldn’t mind him on the ticket as a VP. He is too conservative for my tastes so I wouldn’t want him driving the agenda at the top of the ticket. But he appears to be knowledgeable and level headed.

Now it is too early to start betting, but here are what the betting lines say:


At the party level, you have to bet 11 dollars to win 8 if you bet on the Democrats, and you have to bet 4 dollars to win 5 if you bet on the Republicans (that is, the Democrats are a modest favorite). Individually, Hillary Clinton is even money; Jeb Bush is “bet 2 to win 7″ and is the highest rated Republican. Rubio is a 10-1 long shot, Walker 16 to 1 and Sanders 18 to 1.

From here.

July 26, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

Democrats and “activists”: this is how we roll

Workout notes: easy 4 mile walk (Cornstalk course); basically a “day off”. I took Barbara to the bus stop for her trip to O’Hare airport.

Post topic
If you are unfamiliar with Democratic infighting, it is a bit like this:

Yes, right now I am backing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. I feel that she is a better politician than the other candidates; she is a bit more level headed and accepting of expert consensus (example: science of GMOs)

But now, Bernie Sanders is coming under fire from…some “activists”:

Black Twitter has a bone to pick with Bernie Sanders.

The 2016 lefty darling’s seeming unwillingness to talk about race on the campaign trail is not sitting well with some black activists and observers, and a tense moment turned #BernieSoBlack into a dominant trending topic over the weekend.

Confronted Saturday by protesters at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix chanting “Black lives matter!” and “What side are you on?” Sanders was clearly annoyed. “Black lives, of course, matter,” the populist and self-described socialist senator said. “I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity…If you don’t want me to be here, that’s OK. I don’t want to outscream people.”

And that is how we roll. “Activists” get a cause and expect everyone else to put their cause “front and center” and to accept their claims uncritically. No, this is far from the only group (example, example)

Not accepting their claims at face value or not allowing them to jump to the front means that you are: immoral, ignorant, deluded, evil, stupid or possibly all of these. Anything but cheering “Yay team” is betrayal. Never mind many (most?) of the activists are themselves ignorant of the basic facts and data pertaining to their pet cause; what they have instead is an belief in a dogma, energy and enthusiasm.

So, why am I a Democrat? It isn’t because I like activists; for the most part I can’t stand them.

I am in favor of Keynesian economics because there is evidence that it works; supply side economics, whenever it has been tried, has been a failure.
I am in favor of following science. Yes most Democrats accept astronomy, geology and evolution, but when it comes to vaccines, GMO acceptance and energy issues, well, it is a bit mixed.
In terms of moral values, I believe in inclusion as much as practically possible (example: someone of my athletic abilities doesn’t belong in professional sports, and someone of my intellectual abilities shouldn’t be full professor at MIT).

I believe in social liberalism; example, what sort of sex you have with another consenting adult is none of my business.
I believe in freedom of speech, including some speech that I don’t care for (opposed by some liberals)

So the Democratic party is a better fit for my beliefs.

And so it goes.

This coming election season, I’ll be voting the same way as a lot of people that I don’t really care for. :-)

\end rant.

July 24, 2015 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, walking | | Leave a comment

Iran deal and politics

Iran deal Personally, I like the deal as it cuts off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon; it was designed by those who know how to make such weapons.

But alas, in the opinion of some conservatives it..well…isn’t “tough enough” on a country that we don’t like. Oh, there is that troubling notion of getting other countries to agree to go along.


Bernie Sanders: I think that this short article lays out the pros and cons very nicely.

Barack Obama: yes, he set out to be “transformational” in that he wanted there to be “Obama Republicans” just as there were “Reagan Democrats”

He failed. Nevertheless, he got some really big stuff done and ultimately he helped the country more than President Reagan did, at least in my opinion. As far as the opinion of others: well, his approval ratings track rather well against the average approval ratings of past 2 term presidents. Here is the graph; the dotted line shows the average and the darker green line was President Bush (II).

Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 7.57.39 AM

Graph generated from here.

No, he didn’t have the charm of President Reagan or President Clinton. But I happen to like his approach. Note: I think that President Clinton (II) will be more like President Obama in that she’ll take a measured, calculated approach.

Republicans Trump might be in the lead in a few polls, but that can be very deceiving when there this many candidates diluting the support for a front runner. The “anyone but Trump” action is strong.

I think that Gov. Walker, Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio are their strongest candidates. If I had to pick a Republican to be President, I’d probably pick between Gov. Jindal, Sen. Rubio or Sen. Graham.
But I can’t envision a Democrat being nominated that I wouldn’t vote for. And I’ve already given Sec. Clinton a donation.

July 20, 2015 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, hillary clinton, politics, politics/social, republicans politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wow…freedom of speech and all that….

Workout notes I started late and was worried about the thunderstorms in the area. So I started walking on the Riverplex track with the intention of taking it outside after the storms were over. But I was on a roll:

14:06, 13:51, 13:46, 13:20, 13:44, 13:42,13:43, 13:42, 13:30 13:27, (2:16:55), 13:03, 13:16, 13:32 (2:56:47 for 13.2). Each “mile” was really 1.0159 miles. I had a rhythm going and didn’t want to break it up. I then cooled down with 10 minutes on the stationary bicycle..I wanted some knee bend.

So this cycle: 18, 16, 13 (faster) seems to be ok; maybe add 1-2 miles to the next 3 week cycle of long walks.

I had intended to blog and read more, but I got in a very long winded internet discussion with an European liberal about the US freedom of speech laws. They didn’t seem to get why it was legal for the KKK to yell anti-black sentiments out loud. This was similar to when I had to explain to non-US Muslims that the President of the United States did NOT have the power to halt a proposed Koran burning.

The bottom line: when it comes to free speech, American liberals and conservatives see more eye to eye with each other than we do with our political cousins in other countries.

Side note: this photo is ironic, no? The civilian is wearing a Nazi t-shirt.


And now we have this: evidently some people want to “play the activist” and go around removing “Confederate flags” from other people’s property.


This is theft and vandalism, and it isn’t helping things. No one has the right to do this. Even worse: there is the potential for some hothead to blow away one of these morons…and wouldn’t the fall out from that be just great? Sadly, some liberals are intolerant of speech; it caused me great embarrassment when some kook went around our neighborhood stealing Aaron Schock signs (this was, 2004 I believe).

And yes, there are conservative idiots who do this sort of thing as well; something similar happened to my wife’s car.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, racism, walking | | 1 Comment

Football, socialism and dreaming…

Workout notes: I had to fill in for my department chair, so I had a late start to my workout. Bodyweight (home scale): 187.5

Weights only:
pull ups: 3 sets of 10, with rotator cuff recoveries.
bench press: 10 x 135, 1 x 185, 1 x 195, 4 x 180 (rotator cuff recoveries)
dumbbell bench press: 10 x 70
incline press: 10 x 135
pull ups: 2 more sets of 10, and 2 more sets of 5 (60 total)
military press: 2 sets of 10 with 45 (dumbbell, standing)
military press: 10 x 100 each arm (200 total), machine
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 (machine)
pull downs: 2 sets of 10 x 160 regular machine, 10 x 150 alternate machine.

I am looking forward to being able to do 200 in the bench press again. The 195 was done strongly, but not easily.

I had a discussion with a good friend last night; she is a Republican and has been one all of her life. She doesn’t like her slate of Presidential candidates, AT ALL. She is really tired of the pandering to the social conservatives; she wants a “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” party. So I talked a little bit about us and mentioned that many of my friends are really high on Senator Bernie Sanders and thought that he could win nationally, she broke into laughter.

I don’t blame her; I see Sen. Sanders as being roughly the analogue of Ted Cruz for Republicans: popular among the base, with next to 0 chance nationally.

Oh, you can talk about his being a sour old man (“a sourpuss who never smiles” as one current politician told me) but the man isn’t even a Democrat; he is a self proclaimed socialist.
Now you might say: “hey wait, don’t you LIKE socialist ideas such as social security, Medicare for all (single payer), tuition free public universities and the like?”

Sure. And yes, these are smart, socialist ideas. But that term is, at the present time, a death sentence for a political candidate who hopes to win nationally.

As to why, I have a guess.

I see the United States as a country of dreamers. A national socialist agenda basically says that…well, that the vast majority of Americans are rather average people.
Of course, that is true on statistical grounds, but try getting *ANYONE* to admit that.

As John Steinback once said:

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

(remember this was said when a million dollars was a lot of money for a family to have)

Or Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie Reds said: (2:00 to 2:25)

Yes, I wasn’t immune to the dream either. I remember my early high school days when I played football at a small school in Japan..varsity as a sophomore…yes, baby, I was NFL bound!

Then we moved to Texas…and in the first off season workout..I ended up nauseated and throwing up. Oh man…at this level..when I moved up to the varsity as a senior..I routinely got my ass kicked.

Real athletes: well, the look like this, and I never saw that when I looked in the mirror.

But even afterward..I thought “these coaches didn’t appreciate my abilities”. True, those coaches WERE dumb and the team I played on as a senior pretty much sucked and I should have played more. But those destined to higher levels of athletics…well, they were superior to me in just about every way, by a lot. Any scout could have told you that. Some of the time I did hold my own against those who got junior college offers..but that was about it.

Dreams die hard, and a mass acceptance of mediocrity, no matter how much it reflects reality, isn’t going to happen in the United States, at least in the near future.

July 17, 2015 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social, social/political, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Sorting it out

My summer is at a cross roads; I am not sure as to what to spend my time on. I’ve gotten stuff done though.

Workout notes: easy 6 mile run (6.4-6.5 really) that I didn’t time; I didn’t want to know. I just beat the rain storm (barely).

I watched the Chiefs game last night; they won 1-0; the starter pitched 6 innings and allowed 1 hit, 0 runs and struck out 8; the relievers struck out 4 more. The visiting team: they only gave up 4 hits and struck out 8. So this was a defense dominated game which featured good pitching, great fielding and terrible base running.

President Obama: visited Oklahoma City and Durant. Some people were flying “Confederate flags”. What I remember is that there is a rest stop with a “Confederate Memorial Museum” off of highway 75/69 near Durant. I visited there and was pleasantly surprised at the display they had on evolution and geology; it was genuine science and worth seeing. The other stuff was mostly historical; I suppose it could be renamed “local history museum” but would then draw fewer visitors.

Iran nuclear deal: this was just about the bomb; many nuclear scientists see this as exactly what is needed to keep them from getting one.

Politics: from the Hillary Clinton campaign: you can see who they think are the best people to fundraise against. I don’t see Sen. Cruz as a threat; I do see the other 3 as serious contenders. Notice which Republican is NOT there.


This latest poll shows that people would consider voting for a “qualified” gay person at about the same rate as a “qualified” evangelical Christian (73-74 percent). Atheists and Muslims are rated closely as well (58-60 percent) with socialists rated last (47 percent).

Elections do have consequences: Gov. Walker has made changes to the University of Wisconsin university system..and these are changes that many see as bad.

July 16, 2015 Posted by | education, hillary clinton, Political Ad, political/social, politics, politics/social, running | , , | Leave a comment

A timely Kathleen Parker column

Kathleen Parker wrote a column which started out about Donald Trump:

Exhibit A: Donald Trump, who can’t stop talking about how rich he is.

My father used to say, “People who have it (money) don’t talk about it.” No one told his mother, whose tropes included, “If you got it, honey, flaunt it.” They didn’t get along.

“Be slow to know” was another of my father’s favorite refrains. As in, be a little mysterious, don’t give away everything, keep yourself to yourself. When I was a child, the most humiliating reprimand from a parent was, “Don’t be a showoff.”

To be a showoff was to signal to the world that you were so lacking in character or talent that you had to attract attention some other way. Enter Trump, though he does apparently have a talent for making money. It helps if your father leaves you millions, as Trump’s did.

Whereas humility was once the universally acknowledged virtue to which one aspired, today we “humble-brag.” As in: “I looked like a wet mop the day I got the Pulitzer.” Something like that. […]

But she goes on to say something else:

Cox and Emanuel hugged. She tweeted. I marveled. I should have tweeted that they hugged, but I’ve just written it so all those readers — did I mention 80 million? (#braggingisfun) — now know about it. Which is meaningless. What matters is that Cox has 1.3 million followers and I (@kathleenparker) have something well south of that.

I’m told this is embarrassing.

Really? I’m embarrassed when I forget that the word “media” is a plural noun and should be followed by “are” not “is.” I’m embarrassed when I put a comma before “but” when it follows a negative predicate. As in: Having few Twitter followers isn’t only embarrassing(,) but is also career-limiting, as the following anecdote illustrates.

I kind of chuckled about that.

But on my Facebook feed, I saw a friend share this meme:

millennial fail

When I went to the source of the meme, I saw that the creator was thrilled that so many were sharing it. That she misspelled “millennials” or that she made a massive logical error mattered not at all.

If you didn’t catch the logical error: there are 75.3 million millennials in the US (using 18-34 as the guide) to 74.9 million baby boomers. So even if both groups vote at the same rate (and they don’t), a majority of millennials voting for one candidate won’t ensure a “landslide”; in fact it won’t ensure a mere victory! Example: suppose 51 percent of the millennials vote for candidate X and 55 percent of boomers vote for Y…if both groups vote at the same rate, Y wins easily.

But hey, they are AWESOME. :-)

July 11, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, statistics | , , , | Leave a comment


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