Primary Races: Super Bowl Edition

Off to walk in a bit. During the winter, when I have the time, I like to wait for the sun to come up so I can get some sunshine.

I missed last night’s Republican debate. Now as far as those “Rubio is the Republican Obama”: evidently he didn’t wear the “front runner” mantel very well. I guess that repeating rehearsed soundbites only goes so far.

Democratic Race Yes, Senator Sanders is a heavy favorite in New Hampshire and deserves to be. But nationally, some Sanders supporters have focused on ONE national poll that was good for them. Two other national polls taken at the same time show, well…something very different and something more in line with previous polling.


I find it ironic that some Sanders supporters are making exactly the same mistake that Romney supporters made in 2012: cherry picking the outlier poll that tells you what you want to hear and ignoring the numerous other polls that don’t give you the result that you want. Sam Wang talks about this and other topics here.

General Election
If the 2016 election is going to be a referendum on President Obama, well, his approval ratings are, well, average compared to previous presents, and downright stellar compared with the previous president. Note: the dotted line is the historical trend, and the light green line is President Obama’s, and the dark green is President W. Bush’s.


February 7, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

Democratic Debate: tough, fair and with substance!

I just finished watching the Sanders vs. Clinton debate. Yes, both candidates stood their ground. Both pushed back against attacks.

This was a nice debate of ideas and approaches: you have the “get the torches and pitchforks” approach from Sanders. For example, he said that you can’t negotiate with Mitch McConnell; McConnell needs to look out the window and see people saying…xyz..”

And you had the “let’s be realistic about what can actually get done approach.

This was a classic “Krugman vs. Reich” type of debate. The moderators (Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow) did very well and kept themselves out of it.

I was proud of our party tonight. Yes, Sanders did well. Yes, Clinton did well.

This was far better than the cliche-fear fest than the Republicans ran.

It ran 2 hours long, and didn’t seem to drag.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social | , , , | Leave a comment

Republican dirty tricks in Iowa

First, I did my usual 8.1 mile Cornstalk course in 1:33:09 (about 11:30 mpm); it was sunny and 19 F; I was pretty much by myself.


On the way out of Bradley Park I saw the BU women’s XC team training; many waved and said hi. Then as I ran past the arena I saw them doing their cool down striders; they ran past me as if I were standing still. :-) Well, they’d better be able to.

Then I saw a text from Barbara; she is going for a walk on the beach and it is 86 F there (El Salvador); she asked me to “hot hate her”. I’m trying. :-)


Wow. Evidently the Cruz campaign put out word that the Carson campaign was quitting and asked for his supporters to caucus for Cruz. That could have tipped the balance.

The Republicans play dirty; this is yet another reason I want Hillary Clinton to represent us in the general.

February 4, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, running | | Leave a comment

Iowa Results…

Workout notes: not that bad. I took it to the track because I wanted a bit more turnover.
Lane 2: 9:48, 9:23, 9:25, 9:13 (37:52) 8:50, 8:29 (55:12), 2:29 (57:41 for 10K), then 27:41 walk (2 miles) on the treadmill, starting at 3.7 mph and upping it every 2 minutes.

Last 2 miles: 17:19, which isn’t that bad given a reasonable first 4 and that I wasn’t killing myself. I really am starting to feel a bit like my younger self..just a bit. I think it is because I am in a better place emotionally than I was at the end of last year. And part of it is that I’ve recovered from my “marathon/trail 30 mile” double (3 weeks apart).

Yes, I know; this 57 minutes isn’t the 45-46 minutes that I was doing 15 years ago. But it is better than I was a few months ago and that will have to do.

Iowa The traditional right winger Cruz beat the “populist right winger” Trump 28-24; high turnout and the fact that the “late deciders” didn’t like Trump helped Cruz. Now will Trump stick around or take his ball and go home?

Among the Democrats: Sanders people are spinning. Clinton people are spinning.

Here is how I see it: IF the goal of the Sanders campaign is to be heard and taken seriously and possibly to influence the platform, then they did very well. They came from nowhere, worked their butts off and got good results.
But if their goal is to WIN the nomination, then it wasn’t good for them. They had demographics (a mostly white state), a liberal Democratic electorate, and it was a caucus where enthusiasm meant a great deal. And with all that, they couldn’t win.

As a Clinton supporter: I am relieved but not in a celebratory mood.

How this affected the betting lines: she slipped a bit in the overall going from 5/6 to 10/11, but still remains “better than even money”. And Trump has slipped and Rubio moved up ahead of him!


I admit that, as a Democrat, Rubio worries me more than the other candidates.

February 2, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, running, walking | , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday evening..1 February

I am sort-of following the results of the Iowa caucuses. As of now:

Republicans: Cruz 28, Trump 24, Rubio 23. Delegates: 6 Cruz, 5 Trump, 5 Rubio, 1 Carson.
Democrats: only 86 percent of the vote is in: Clinton up 50-49 over Sanders, 20-17 lead in delegates.

Workout notes: weights, then swimming.

Weights: rotator cuff
pull ups: 15-15-10-10
bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 10 x 170
incline press: 10 x 135
military (barbell) 2 sets of 7 x 90, 7 x 85
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
abs (2 x 12 twist crunch, 2 x 10 yoga leg lifts, moving bridge, headstand)

Swim: 1000 easy, 5 x 100 drill/swim (fins), 5 x 100 alternating 100 pull, 100 swim, 2 x 100 IM
kind of went through the motions.

Ok, 88 percent, Clinton still up 50-49.

As far as what is going on with the Republicans, you have the insurgent economic conservatives (Cruz) vs. the insurgent populist conservatives (Trump).

February 2, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

So, what is going to happen in Iowa tomorrow?

Five Thirty Eight: gives Clinton about an 73-78 percent chance. Think of it as a good NBA player taking a free shot.

But caucus states are hard to predict; Sam Wang weighs in.

What about the Republicans? If you wondered why their debates sound like “I’m gonna kick the ass of ISIS” over and over again, it is because Republicans value “perceived strength”. It is interesting reading..and it is hard for me to not feel contempt when I read the write ups on the individuals.

I’ll close with what Paul Krugman says (and he admits that this is just personal opinion)

The appeal of the Sanders campaign, at least to people I know, is that it brings a sense of possibility. For those who were joyful and uplifted on inauguration day 2009, the years that followed have been a vast letdown: American politics got even uglier, policy progress always fell short of dreams. Now comes Sanders — very different in personal style from Obama 2008, but again someone who seems different and offers the hope of transformation. And some people really want to hear that message, and don’t want to hear that they’re being unrealistic.

But there’s something else, which I keep encountering, and which I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice: even among progressives, the two-decade-plus smear campaign against the Clintons has had its effect. I keep being told about terrible things the Clintons did that never actually happened, but were carefully fomented right-wing legends — except I’m hearing them from people on the left. The sense that where there’s smoke there must be fire — when the reality was nothing but Richard Mellon Scaife with a smoke machine — is very much out there, still. […]

On the other hand, that history is, I think, one factor behind a phenomenon we saw in 2008 and will see again this year: there’s a lot more passionate support for Clinton than either Sanders supporters or the news media imagine. There are a lot of Democrats who see her as someone who has been subjected to character assassination, to vicious attacks, on a scale few women and no men in politics have ever encountered — yet she’s still standing, still capable of remarkable grace under fire. If you didn’t see something heroic about her performance in the Benghazi hearing, you’re missing something essential.

And Clinton’s dogged realism, while it doesn’t inspire the same kind of uplift as Sanders’s promise of change, can be inspiring in its own way.

Emphasis mine. I support Clinton for a couple of reasons: one is her intelligence and knowledge of the issues, and the other is her realism. We can’t afford those who peddle fantasy.

February 1, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans | , , , | Leave a comment

Trying to put some quality back in the blog

Ok, while I’ll still post about workouts, races, games (and to be fair, cute butts), I’ll attempt to at least add some intellectual content back to the blog. It has been missing lately.

Workout notes: about 6 miles of running, which included 35 minutes of hill repeats in Lower Bradley Park (the hill near the dog park); that stretch is barricaded off for the winter and yet is ice free. The first 6 weren’t that bad; the final 4 hurt. I tried to go hard enough to make myself stop and walk when I got to the top of the hill.

Nature is brutal Via Why Evolution is True

That is how it works, isn’t it? Either one animal dies so another can live, or one survives and the predator goes hungry. I’ve seen duels between squirrels and birds of prey before; the squirrels won the encounters that I saw. But they don’t always…obviously.

Politics I don’t often read Robert Reich saying “son of a bitch” but here he uses the phrase. Yes, he is talking about the “revolutionary” candidates: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

I’ve been both amused and saddened to see some of the Democratic infighting. I don’t mind debates over ideas. But I’ve been “unfriended” by Sanders supporters who accused me of being…well, some dupe of the oligarchy, blinded or something else. I find this to be an especially interesting accusation when it comes from someone whose own life doesn’t demonstrate exceptional intellect, insight or talent.

I don’t mind differences of opinion, but if you are going to accuse me of being a delusional, duped might ask yourself why I’d be willing to accept such a rebuke from you.

But hey, some of these accusations are being directed at PAUL KRUGMAN?

But if you’re a progressive who not only supports Sanders but is furious with anyone skeptical about his insurgency, someone who considers Mike Konczal a minion and me a corrupt crook, you might want to ask why Barack Obama is saying essentially the same things as the progressive Bernie skeptics. And you might want to think hard about why you’re not just sure that you’re right, but sure that anyone who disagrees must be evil.

And yes, there are issues with Sen. Sander’s health care platform and those who have actually worked on this issue can see it:

Oh well. Meanwhile, the Sanders skepticism of the wonks continues: Paul Starr lays out the case. As far as I can tell, every serious progressive policy expert on either health care or financial reform who has weighed in on the primary seems to lean Hillary. This could be because being in the trenches of the health care fight gives you an acute sense of the possible, and because having paid close attention to the financial crisis makes you a shadow-banking, not too big to fail guy. Or it could be because they are, one and all, corrupt corporate lackeys. I report, you decide.

Just to be clear, Sanders himself is not at fault here. And if Hillary is the nominee, I expect him to do what she herself did in 2008, and will surely do if he wins an upset: make it clear that whatever their differences, and whatever the primary loser’s personal frustration, there’s no comparison with the reactionary extremism of all the GOP candidates.

But it’s disappointing to see so much intolerance over what are basically differences in strategy, not goals.

Civil liberties, free speech, free press and the like

Remember the unrest at the University of Missouri? Well, a faculty member has been charged with assault:

On Monday, Melissa Click learned that lesson, as prosecutors charged her with assault.

Click is the communication professor who grabbed a videographer’s camera and said in a confrontation with a reporter covering a public protest at the University of Missouri: “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here. I need some muscle over here.”

I recommend reading the rest of Mr. Randazza’s article (he is a First Amendment attorney); he admits that the charges, while legal, might be overkill. He suggests that her being fired might be the better action. A biology professor from the University of Chicago also weighs in.

I don’t know how I feel about the firing; I feel that a reprimand is in order. And yes, this is the problem with zealots (be they classified as left wing zealots or right wing zealots): they are SO sure that they are on the side of “right” that they’ll not only break the law, but they’ll also trample on other people’s rights in the process.

It seems that all of them view themselves as, say, those who protested unjust racial segregation. So there is part of me that thinks “good; teach this unrepentant attention-seeking self-righteous idiot a lesson” but overreacting is never good either.

(psst: that is one reason that Donald Trump appeals to me just a little: he isn’t afraid to call out the idiots).

Censorship and good intentions
Beware of proposed legislation which limits free speech under the guise of “good intentions“:

A Kentucky legislator recently proposed a narrow restriction on free expression — and it seems that it came from reasonable and logical intentions. Unfortunately, when you consider this idea while keeping the First Amendment in mind, the implications are no longer acceptable. They are intolerable.

Representative John Carney introduced a bill to prohibit anyone who witnesses “an event that could reasonably result in a series of physical injury” from publishing information about that event on the internet for at least an hour if their posting could identify potential victims.

I see where he is coming from. Do you want to hear about your loved one being killed in a car accident from Facebook? Do you want to wake up from an accident and find your traumatic and personal experience all over Twitter? I get it. In short, we have significant social media privacy issue – and the United States seems to be forgetting all about privacy issues as we steam forward into the Internet’s adolescence.


A law like this is what is known as a “prior restraint” – a rule that attempts to prevent speech from occurring. As Justice Blackstone eloquently wrote: The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state, but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications…” Or, as Walter Sobchak shouted, “THE SUPREME COURT HAS ROUNDLY REJECTED PRIOR RESTRAINT!” Kinney v. Barnes, 57 Tex. Sup. J. 1428 at n.7, (Tex. 2014) (citing SOBCHAK, W., THE BIG LEBOWSKI, 1998). See also, How to Cite to Walter Sobchak.

That rejection is rounder than you can spin me like a record. Rounder than Ken’s noggin.

It has been that way since Near vs. Minnesota. So, you’ve had 85 years to get with the program.

Prior Restraints are permissible under the U.S. Constitution. However, they are restricted to situations with which there is an immediate, clear and present danger that something awful will happen if the speech gets out there.

Read the rest of Randazza’s article: it is excellent. Good intentions often have terrible consequences. Example: do you want to have a law that allows you to criminalize the act of recording police misconduct?

January 28, 2016 Posted by | nature, politics, politics/social, running, science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump to skip the Fox debate and…

Workout notes: weights then swimming; I was 185.0 prior to swimming.
rotator cuff
pull ups (5 sets of 10)
incline presses: 10 x 135, 10 x 150, 10 x 135
dumbbell military: 2 sets of 12 x 50 seated, supported (tough), 10 x 40 standing
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 50 single arm.
abs: 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, moving bridge, headstand

swim: 1000 free, 500 of drill/free (fins) 5 x 100 of pull-free-pull-free-pull
2 x 100 IM

I’ve got that glow…

Post: Trump doesn’t like the moderator so he’ll skip the debate. Good move or not? This is an interesting take.

January 27, 2016 Posted by | politics, swimming, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Trump and Sanders Supporters..

Why is Trump doing so well, at least in the polls? I still think that this is one of the best explanations (though it is a few months old). And here is one by David Axelrod that complements that:

Today, after seven eventful years, attitudes toward President Obama will shape the selection of his successor.

The Republican base is infuriated by Mr. Obama’s activist view of government and progressive initiatives, from health care reform to immigration, gay rights to climate change.

Beyond specific issues, however, many Republicans view dimly the very qualities that played so well for Mr. Obama in 2008. Deliberation is seen as hesitancy; patience as weakness. His call for tolerance and passionate embrace of America’s growing diversity inflame many in the Republican base, who view with suspicion and anger the rapidly changing demographics of America. The president’s emphasis on diplomacy is viewed as appeasement.
So who among the Republicans is more the antithesis of Mr. Obama than the trash-talking, authoritarian, give-no-quarter Mr. Trump?
His bombast allows no room for nuance or complexity. He proudly extols his intolerance as an assault against “political correctness,” and he vows to bring the world to heel, from Mexico to China to Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Trump has found an audience with Americans disgruntled by the rapid, disorderly change they associate with national decline and their own uncertain prospects. Policies be damned, who better to set things right than the defiant strong man who promises by sheer force of will to make America great again?

Yes, we can? Hell, no!

Just leave it to me, Mr. Trump says. Yes, I can!

Hey, though I am a liberal, even I get tired of nattering sanctimonious social justice warriors running around with their clipboards saying “it is ok to say THIS but not THAT”. So, having someone say: “oh, STFU; I am rich and I don’t care what you think” is a bit refreshing.

And no, I don’t want him anywhere near the nuclear codes, ok? :-)

And now we turn to the Democrats. Some supporters of Senator Sanders are going nuts, attacking people who support Sec. Clinton. Paul Krugman has a few things to say:

Greg Sargent notes that President Obama, in his interview with Glenn Thrush of Politico, essentially supports the Hillary Clinton theory of change over the Bernie Sanders theory:

I think that what Hillary presents is a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives. I don’t want to exaggerate those differences, though, because Hillary is really idealistic and progressive. You’d have to be to be in, you know, the position she’s in now, having fought all the battles she’s fought and, you know, taken so many, you know, slings and arrows from the other side.

He could be wrong, of course. But if you’re a progressive who not only supports Sanders but is furious with anyone skeptical about his insurgency, someone who considers Mike Konczal a minion and me a corrupt crook, you might want to ask why Barack Obama is saying essentially the same things as the progressive Bernie skeptics. And you might want to think hard about why you’re not just sure that you’re right, but sure that anyone who disagrees must be evil.

Now to be fair, those who accuse Clinton supporters of being delusional right wingers or pawns of the oligarchy are often not the sharpest nor the most successful people out there, so one must consider the source.

There is nothing wrong with supporting Senator Sanders. But at times, things have gotten ridiculous.

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans | , , , , | 1 Comment

2016 Democratic Dust up: Hillary-Bernie and Krugman-Reich

When people who are usually allies start arguing politics, it is *probably* primary season.

Bernie Sanders has made some headway in the polls and is a bona-fide threat to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire (I predict a split) and so his positions are getting some scrutiny.

And yes, the numbers do not add up, as Paul Krugman points out (re: health care):

On health care: leave on one side the virtual impossibility of achieving single-payer. Beyond the politics, the Sanders “plan” isn’t just lacking in detail; as Ezra Klein notes, it both promises more comprehensive coverage than Medicare or for that matter single-payer systems in other countries, and assumes huge cost savings that are at best unlikely given that kind of generosity. This lets Sanders claim that he could make it work with much lower middle-class taxes than would probably be needed in practice.

To be harsh but accurate: the Sanders health plan looks a little bit like a standard Republican tax-cut plan, which relies on fantasies about huge supply-side effects to make the numbers supposedly add up. Only a little bit: after all, this is a plan seeking to provide health care, not lavish windfalls on the rich — and single-payer really does save money, whereas there’s no evidence that tax cuts deliver growth. Still, it’s not the kind of brave truth-telling the Sanders campaign pitch might have led you to expect.

And look: if the political theory behind supporting Sanders is that the American people will vote for radical change if you’re honest about what’s involved, the campaign’s evident unwillingness to fully confront the issues, its reliance on magic asterisks, very much weakens that claim.

I think it fails on both counts: political feasibility (from where WE are right now) and on the technical details. You might say “tax the rich” and that IS a good thing, but the arithmetic doesn’t add up.

Now people like Krugman are catching heat from some:

One of the differences between right and left in America is that the progressive infrastructure includes a contingent of genuine wonks — commentators on policy who really do make models and crunch numbers, and sometimes come up with answers that aren’t fully predictable from their politics. The list includes Ezra Klein, Jonathan Cohn, Jonathan Chait, Mike Konczal, myself some of the time, and others. Right now the wonk brigade has been weighing in on Bernie Sanders, and is in general not too impressed on either financial reform or health care.

And the response of some — only some — Sanders supporters is disappointing, although I guess predictable given that somewhat similar things happened during the 2008 primary. There will, I guess, always be some people who, having made an emotional commitment to a candidate, can’t accept the proposition that someone might share their values but honestly disagree with the candidate’s approach.

Emphasis mine. I’ve seen some of that in my private life too (NOT from my wife; she supports Hillary Clinton).

And now you have people like Robert Reich claiming that Paul Krugman doesn’t “get it”.

Krugman doesn’t get it. I’ve been in and around Washington for almost fifty years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized, and determined to make it happen.

Political “pragmatism” may require accepting “half loaves” – but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. That’s why the movement must aim high – toward a single-payer universal health, free public higher education, and busting up the biggest banks, for example.

Uh, you can “aim high” but THE NUMBERS HAVE TO ADD UP AND THE PROPOSALS MUST BE HONEST AS TO THE COST. The positions of Sen. Sanders fails on both counts and admitting that is just simple honesty.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | 2016, health care, political/social, politics | , , | Leave a comment


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