Clinton vs. Trump and the Democratic end game …

I admit that the end game of this campaign (Democrats, 2016) has been fascinating. I was one who thought it would be boring.

Yes, Hillary Clinton is going to win and yes, she remains the favorite for the general election, though the odds have crept back from 1/3 to just over 1/2 (in some books).


There is some worry that the “slash and burn” tactics from the Sanders campaign might hurt us against Trump. Gin and Tacos has a nice summary of the denialism that is going on among Sanders supporters. Paul Krugman provides a summary of the types of Sanders supporters that one encounters: Genuine Idealists (don’t realize how hard genuine change is), Romantics (e. g. hippies), Purists (e. g. Nader voters in 2000), Clinton haters, and “Salon des Refuses” (policy wonks who couldn’t make the varsity (Clinton) team but now found a team (Sanders) where they could become starters; think of the frustrated division I (FBS) football player who finds that he can start for a I-AA (FCS) program). Krugman concludes

So how will this coalition of the not-always disinterested break once it’s over? The genuine idealists will probably realize that whatever their dreams, Trump would be a nightmare. Purists and CDSers won’t back Clinton, but they were never going to anyway. My guess is that disgruntled policy intellectuals will, in the end, generally back Clinton.

The question, as I see it, involves the romantics. How many will give in to their bitterness? A lot may depend on Sanders – and whether he himself is one of those embittered romantics, unable to move on.

Interestingly enough, Charles Krauthammer has a better understanding of the situation than many Democrats. He makes some interesting observations. Here are his comments on what Hillary Clinton is trying to do:

The Trump and Sanders constituencies share one stark characteristic: They are both overwhelmingly white. In the Rust Belt, the appeal is to middle- and working-class voters who have suffered economic and social dislocation. The question is whether Trump can win a sufficient number of those voters, erstwhile Reagan Democrats, to flip just a few states that, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, have gone Democratic for the last six elections.

Which is why Clinton is treating Sanders so (relatively) gently. She wants to be rid of him but cannot alienate his constituency – especially after the ruckus made by his supporters at the Nevada state convention and after his string of recent victories in West Virginia, Indiana, and Oregon, along with the virtual draw in Kentucky. She needs him.

Normally, endorsements don’t matter in American politics. But the Sanders constituency is substantial and very loyal. And rather angry now as they can see the Clinton machine winning the nomination through superdelegates.

She needs his blessing and active support in the general election. If not carefully cultivated and appeased, say, on the party platform and/or vice presidential choice, Sanders could very well disappear after the Philadelphia convention and leave her to her own devices – which are much lacking, as demonstrated in her recent primary losses.

She needs to keep his legions in the game through November. At the very least, she needs him to warn his followers away from a Trump temptation.

And here is what he says about Donald Trump:

Right now, Clinton has the distinct advantage. Flipping reliably Democratic states, as well as lowering Trump’s high negatives, are both very difficult.

But there’s one wild card: events – unforeseen, unforeseeable, yet near inevitable. We are highly unlikely to go the next six months without a significant crisis. In September 2008, the financial collapse cemented Obama’s victory when he, the novice, reacted far more calmly and steadily than did John McCain, the veteran.

This time around, Trump reacted to the terror attack in San Bernardino with a nakedly nativist, shamelessly demagogic, yet politically shrewd call for (temporarily, allegedly) banning all Muslims from entering the country. Roundly denounced by Democrats and leading Republicans alike, Trump watched his poll numbers go through the roof. Turns out that GOP voters supported the ban, 2-to-1.

A candidate with the tactical acuity to successfully deploy such breathtaking, bigotry-tinged cynicism is not to be trifled with. Under normal circumstances, Clinton wins. But if the fire alarm goes off between now and Election Day, all bets are off. Clinton had better be ready. Trump has shown that he will be.

In short: how well will Donald Trump’s simplistic nativist, xenophobic, isolationist attitude sell with the general public? I really don’t know, though I think that I do. And don’t underestimate his charm; he really does have some.

Ending snark: These are two well deserved shots at the more clueless Sanders supporters.



May 24, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

About that “Hillary lying for 13 minute straight” video:

This “Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight” video has been making the rounds, and has even found its way into a Kathleen Parker column:

I watched it. I recommend that Clinton supporters watch it and think about it.

My opinion: yes, the Bosnia trip thing is embarrassing. And yes, it is true; at the time Hillary Clinton told that made up story, she was trying to embellish her “I’ve seen the world and visited tough places” credentials. But she has had a long life and made many, many official trips. And yes, our minds sometimes embellish our memories with made up stuff. She screwed up here, plain and simple and apologized for it.

Now as far as the rest: the NPR “Fresh Air” interview was selectively edited to make her look bad. In that interview, she admitted that she did not back gay marriage at first, but she eventually changed her mind. Listen to that segment for yourself. The dispute shown in the video was whether she backed gay marriage all along but didn’t back it as a politician or whether she simply changed her mind on that issue.

NAFTA: yes, her public rhetoric on this did change. But this is what is probably going on: when one makes up their mind to support something as complicated as NAFTA, one probably has doubts on certain aspects of it. But when it comes time to “sell” such a treaty, one becomes an advocate and argues the case to get on board. Then when one sees how it is working out, one sometimes revisits one’s doubts and adjusts to the new information.

Perhaps the same thing can be said about Bill Clinton’s crime bill, which did some good (made the violence rate go down) but had some bad consequences (unnecessary incarceration which had a disproportional negative effect on black people)

E-mails: not much here; this is a balanced treatment of this issue. She could have handled the issue better and spun things a bit. But this was hardly “lying”. And the demonstration of the number of e-mails about Libya to somehow demonstrate interest is absurd; there are many other means of communication.

Bottom line: there isn’t much here; basically it is the collection of one honest embarrassing flub and a lot of snippets which show mostly that Hillary Clinton doesn’t answer in bumper sticker slogans. She is thoughtful, nuanced and speaks that way.

May 24, 2016 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Jeb Bush: Trump Supporters Aren’t ‘A Bunch Of Idiots’ (he is right)

Jeb Bush said the following:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said Saturday that supporters for GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump aren’t “a bunch of idiots” and should be respected, CNN reported.

“What I fear is that people, kind of looking down their nose, will say the people that are supporting Donald Trump are a bunch of idiots. They’re not. They’re legitimately scared. They’re fearful,” Bush reportedly said at an event in Amsterdam. “They’re not as optimistic for legitimate reasons and there should be respect for that. And on the other side, a similar respect needs to be shown.”

Now of course, this statement (which I think should be obvious) has met with ridicule. Yes, I know, I know, we’ve all seen the cherry picked photos of Trump supporters and of Trump rallies:



So, yes, there are some dumb people supporting Donald Trump. And yes, there are some evil ones too.

But when are talking about a national candidate with millions of supporters, a tiny selection of supporters tells you very little about the whole.

Here is an example of what I mean: think of 2008, when i was a proud Obama supporter. Well, some of then Senator Obama’s support came from the..well, less than informed people

and some came from morally questionable people too.

Again, this is just statistics in action; the larger the population, the more the population resembles the larger population.

So, what can say about Trump supporters, “in general”?

For one thing, on the average, they tend to have a higher household income than either Sanders supporters or Clinton supporters.: (the data I report measures median household income; “median” means “that income that is in the middle range of supporters; half of incomes are above, half are below”; this is done to mitigate the effects of a few very large incomes)

72K per year as compared to 61k per year for both Clinton and Sanders supporters. Now this isn’t true in every state: in New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Virginia the median household income of a Clinton supporter exceeds that of a Trump supporter. Trump supporters earn more than Sanders supporters in all of the surveyed states.

Secondly, there is a positive correlation between income and IQ; on the average those with higher IQs tend to earn more money than those with lower ones. NOTE: the New Scientist article I linked to also deals with wealth too and there isn’t much of a correlation with IQ and household wealth (example: those with higher incomes might well spend more):

The work reveals that while exceptionally smart individuals typically earn more, they are also more likely to spend to their credit card limit, compared with people of average intelligence.

Jay Zagorsky at Ohio State University in Columbus, US, analysed personal financial information collected from 7500 people between the ages of 33 to 41. Subjects provided details about their cash flow – including wages, welfare payments, alimony, and stock dividends – and their overall net worth. They also answered questions about whether they had “maxed out” any of their credit cards, missed bill payments or filed for bankruptcy.


On the surface, Zagorsky’s analysis confirms the findings of previous studies linking higher intelligence with higher income. “Each point increase in IQ test scores is associated with $202 to $616 more income per year,” he says. For example, a person with a score of 130 (in the top 2%, in terms of IQ) might earn about $12,000 more per year than someone with an average IQ score of about 100.

On the surface, people with higher intelligence scores also had greater wealth. The median net worth for people with an IQ of 120 was almost $128,000 compared with $58,000 for those with an IQ of 100.

But when Zagorsky controlled for other factors – such as divorce, years spent in school, type of work and inheritance – he found no link between IQ and net worth. In fact, people with a slightly above-average IQ of 105 , had an average net worth higher than those who were just a bit smarter, with a score of 110.

Again, there is the correlation between INCOME (not net worth) and IQ.

So, if anything, the data might suggest that Trump supporters might be somewhat brighter than the Sanders and Clinton supporters, on the average. I say “might” because I don’t know the “n” for these income samples. It might be that the Clinton and Sanders groups are larger groups, and therefore subject to “regression to the mean” effects whereas the early Trump supporters might be a more selective sample of people (fewer people).

But I think that there is no evidence that Trump supporters are dumber than either Sanders or Clinton supporters.

May 22, 2016 Posted by | 2008 Election, 2016, politics, politics/social, social/political, statistics | , , | Leave a comment

A way in which Trump appeals to me..

No worries: I am firmly behind Hillary Clinton in this election. I see her as the most qualified candidate and I think that she’ll do a fine job in office.

But I don’t have the hatred of Donald Trump that many other of his detractors have. Oh yes, I think that the skill set of a real estate mogul is a very different skill set required to be a president, and I think that Mr. Trump really doesn’t believe that. It is easy to become intoxicated by one’s financial success and to start believing that one knows more than they actually do.

But, like many, Mr. Trump does appeal to one of my darker sides:

What common views or traits unite the most visible Trump partisans? A group including Limbaugh and Christie is not defined primarily by ideology. Rather, the Trumpians share a disdain for “country-club” Republicans (though former House speaker John Boehner apparently likes Trump because they were golfing buddies). They tend to be white and middle-aged. They are filled with resentment.

Above all, they detest weakness in themselves and others. The country, in their view, has grown soft and feeble. Their opponents are losers, lacking in energy. Rather than despising bullying — as Ryan, Romney and all the Bushes do — they elevate it. The strong must take power, defy political correctness, humiliate and defeat their opponents, and reverse the nation’s slide toward mediocrity.

There have always been politicians who despise weakness and the weak. Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson are examples. They were not always bad at governing, but they were bad human beings who came to a bad end.

And there you have it. I do not like weakness. I LOVE smart people. I like mentally and physically strong people.

Evidence: well, if you ask me about what I like about Hillary Clinton, I might reply this way:

Clinton, on the other hand, is not ludicrous. She can think on her feet; she’s tough as nails. Do you really think the person who stared down the Benghazi committee for 11 hours is going to wither under schoolboy taunts?

The news media will, I fear, try their best to pretend that the contrast isn’t what it is. We’ll hear endless explanations of why Trump’s vanity, ignorance, and lack of moral fiber somehow prove his “authenticity”, which Clinton somehow lacks. And maybe that will stick with voters. But I don’t think it will. In the end, it will be a race between a tough, smart lady and someone who is obviously a yuge, um, Antonin Scalia School of Law. And voters will notice.

You might also check out my friends or social media friends list. You’ll see people with advanced degrees and research output. You’ll see people who have finished multiple marathons and ultra marathons or people who have athletic accomplishments that I can only dream of. Another such example: one internet friend has taken it on herself to raise some kids that relatives were found not competent to raise; that is toughness in action and is attractive to me.

Even my spouse: when I first fell in love with her, she was a well respected professional on campus who had a great career. My “do things with” friends have/had positions of great responsibility, published books, honors and the like.

Now my carping about “weakness” is illogical; after all, I know that I am heading downhill (slowly right now); my body and, to a lesser degree, my mind is slowing down slightly. And things can change in the blink of an eye (illness, accidents, etc).

But a dislike of weakness resonates with me and that is how Trump markets himself.

May 20, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

The end game of a losing candidate is often not pretty

Workout note: 8.1 mile run (hilly) in 1:26:46 (43:43, 43:03). I was stiff going out. The improvement on the second half was basically the difference on my last mile. It was a pretty day and long sleeves was too much.

Jumble though this is 5 seconds slower than my PB, this was my first “perfect score”.


Main Focus

Yes, tempers are flaring among the Democrats. One might wonder why Sanders is still in the race. This article gives a conjecture: yes, Sanders is more pragmatic than one realizes (e. g. he has been good about getting amendments added to bills he initially didn’t support) but his life has been a case of succeeding as a long shot. So, though the odds against him getting the nomination are slight (18-1 underdog in the sports books as of today), he still has a mathematical chance (say, winning 80 percent of the pledged delegates in California and flipping a ton of the super delegates). So he’ll keep fighting.

However, while many Sanders supporters ARE bright people (and I enjoy the company of several of these people), others have been mislead by articles like this one. Yes, *even* when you factor in the caucus state votes, Hillary Clinton still has about a 3 million vote lead.

Sadly, a significant minority of Sanders supporters either don’t know that or haven’t accepted that. A minority of these supporters have behaved very badly.

Yes, I know; some of the violent reaction has probably been exaggerated by the press; one Sanders supporter pointed out that there was no video showing chairs thrown in the Nevada Convention (though this had been reported in some articles.).

And yes, Hillary Clinton made some cringe worthy statements toward the end of the 2008 campaign, when she was being asked to drop out (and yes, she was much closer to Obama in delegates than Sanders is to her).

So, hopefully, we can come together after this, though I am sure that a few of the “Bernie or Bust” people will sit this one out.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | 2008 Election, 2016, politics, politics/social, running, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Mopping up the JV race..

You can see the results here. Basically Clinton had a very narrow win in Kentucky (28-27 split in pledged delegates) and Sanders had about a 10 point win in Oregon, which could be about a 6-9 delegate advantage for him. So the race has gone from a Clinton lead of 280-300 to 272-295. In other words, not much has changed.

That has been the usual pattern. Unfortunately, the spin will be about the same:

Ugh. More primaries today. Do they matter?

Not for the nomination. Clinton has won — her big victories in the mid-Atlantic states ended any chance that Sanders can catch up on pledged delegates or popular vote, and he’s not going to convince superdelegates to overturn the will of the voters. Again, the math: Clinton leads by 280 pledged delegates, with 897 left. To overtake, Sanders would need to win the remaining contests by a 280/897 margin, or 31 percent. This is not going to happen.

This is very much true even if he wins both primaries tonight. KY and OR are both very favorable states for Sanders, basically because they’re very white. Alan Abramowitz predicts Sanders +6 in OR, +1 in KY; Benchmark Politics predicts narrow Clinton win in KY, narrow Sanders win in OR. Suppose Abramowitz is right. Then Sanders might narrow the gap by 5 delegates — but there will be only 781 left to go, and his required margin would rise to 275/781 or 35 percent. And the demography gets much worse for him in the remaining states.

But here’s the thing: a lot of Sanders supporters don’t understand this reality — 29 percent still believe that he’s the likely nominee, and another 11 percent aren’t sure. If news reports say that he “won” tonight, they’ll persist in their illusions — and the narrative that Clinton is somehow stealing the nomination will continue to fester.

I think some of this comes from people hearing something and not really digging into it to understand what they’ve heard. I’ve had a Sanders supporter try to tell me that the popular vote count is a “statistical dead heat” (no, it isn’t, not even when one counts the caucus states). I’ve had another Sanders supporter try to tell me that there were some states where Sanders won the vote but Clinton got *all* of the delegates (no: look at the links to see for yourself); evidently she was confused by the complaint that, in some states, Sanders won the state but all of that state’s *superdelegates* are backing Clinton.

Hence the belief that Sanders is being cheated continues to fester. Yes, Sanders is being called out on it:

Like a lot of people, I was shocked by the statement Bernie Sanders put out about Nevada. No hint of apology for his supporters’ behavior, lots of accusations about a “rigged” process when the issue in Nevada was whether Clinton should get more delegates in a state where she won the vote. And the general implication that the nomination is somehow being stolen when the reality is that Clinton won because a large majority of voters chose to support her.

But maybe we shouldn’t have been shocked. It has been obvious for quite a while that Sanders — not just his supporters, not even just his surrogates, but the candidate himself — has a problem both in facing reality and in admitting mistakes. The business with claiming that Clinton only won conservative states in the deep South told you that; and even before, there were strong indications that he would not accept defeat gracefully or even rationally.

And as far as Nevada: here is what happened. In a nut shell, Clinton won the state, her campaign was better organized and some of the Sanders delegates didn’t understand that one had to be a registered Democrat to vote in a Democratic convention.

Oh dear. Losing is never pretty. And idealism together with passion can dampen rationality.

May 18, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

An Open Letter to those Supporting Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders (or a 3’rd party candidate)

Vote for who you want to. Most of us have our reasons for supporting a certain candidate and that doesn’t mean that we like ALL aspects of a given candidate.

Do you want to talk politics with me, or to discuss social issues? Please keep it civil, and bring in facts and reasoning.

If you don’t want to do that, we can discuss something else (sports, workouts, Indian food, whatever..)

That is all.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Friends, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

2016 General Election: how will Trump and Clinton run?

This promises to be interesting. Donald Trump might strike a more populist tone than recent Republicans have:

On a range of issues, Mr. Trump seems to be taking a page from the Sanders playbook, expressing a willingness to increase the minimum wage, suggesting that the wealthy may pay higher taxes than under his original proposal, attacking Mrs. Clinton from the left on national security and Wall Street, and making clear that his opposition to free trade will be a centerpiece of his general election campaign.

As Mr. Trump lays the groundwork for his likely showdown with Mrs. Clinton, he is staking out a series of populist positions that could help him woo working-class Democrats in November. But in doing so, he is exacerbating the trepidation some Republicans already feel about his candidacy at a moment when the party typically rallies to its nominee.

Asked how Mr. Trump could reassure his own party, Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, suggested the party standard-bearer needed something close to a complete overhaul. “He could start by saying, ‘I was just kidding,’ ” Mr. Flake said, bemoaning what he called Mr. Trump’s “protectionist” approach. [..]

Mr. Trump’s approach has scrambled longstanding assumptions about how the two parties can position themselves in a general election fight, and could augur at least a short-term shift in how a Republican presidential nominee campaigns. Until Mr. Trump’s successful campaign, unwavering support for free trade and the business community, a robust American presence in the world, and a commitment to deep tax cuts have been articles of faith for the modern Republican Party.

But Mr. Trump, who has also made attacks on illegal immigrants central to his campaign while vowing to protect Social Security and Medicare, is plainly going to run as more of a Sanders-style populist than as a conservative. And this approach suggests that the 2016 campaign will not be decided in the increasingly diverse states that represent the face of a changing nation — Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia — but in the more heavily white Rust Belt, where blaming trade deals for manufacturing job losses provided resonant themes for Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders during the primaries there.


But for every voter Mr. Trump wins over with his ad hoc populism, he risks repelling others — including conservatives who are aghast at how, on some issues, he is trying to outflank Mrs. Clinton on the left. While he may put parts of the Midwest back into play, at least initially, his approach could also endanger his prospects in some states that usually lean Republican.

“I think he’s more likely to take Michigan than he is to take Arizona,” said Mr. Flake, whose state is home to a fast-growing Latino population.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has some options available to her that weren’t available to Mr. Trump’s Republican opponents:

Think about Trump’s obvious weaknesses, why Republicans couldn’t exploit them, but why Democrats can.

First, he’s running a campaign fundamentally based on racism. But Republicans couldn’t call him on that, because more or less veiled appeals to racial resentment have been key to their party’s success for decades. Clinton, on the other hand, won the nomination thanks to overwhelming nonwhite support, and will have no trouble hitting hard on this issue.

Second, Trump is proposing wildly irresponsible policies that benefit the rich. But so were all the other Republicans, so they couldn’t attack him for that. Clinton can.

Third, Trump’s personal record as a businessman is both antisocial and just plain dubious. Republicans, with their cult of the entrepreneur, couldn’t say anything about that. Again, Clinton can. [..]

And there’s one last thing, which I suspect may make the biggest difference of all: Clinton’s campaign can go after Trump’s fundamental buffoonery.

I mean, he is a ludicrous figure, and everything we learn just makes him more ludicrous. So why couldn’t Republicans make that stick? I’d argue that it was because there was something fairly ludicrous about all his opponents, too.

Think about Marco Rubio: even before his famous brain glitch, it was just obvious that he was a prefab candidate, a nice-looking guy with no real convictions or experience reciting lines he was told to deliver. The infamous “We must dispel with …” wasn’t just vile and stupid (even the first time, let alone repeated); it was also, transparently, not something Rubio believed or even cared about except that his handlers told him to say it.

Or think about Ted Cruz, whose mean-spiritedness and self-centered nature evidently stand out even in today’s conservative movement, making him a hated figure even among those who should like his message.

Clinton, on the other hand, is not ludicrous. She can think on her feet; she’s tough as nails. Do you really think the person who stared down the Benghazi committee for 11 hours is going to wither under schoolboy taunts?

Here is my take: yes, Trump will do very well in rust-belt states, among white males. But that is the group that McCain and Romney won anyway. I’ll be very surprised to see the electoral map change very much from 2008 and 2012.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

Rant: recognizing the limits of what one knows

I’ll admit that I am an expert in a very narrow slice of mathematics. But I am at least an AU from being an international or even a national caliber expert in that narrow field of mathematics.
And yes, I often read about topics that are not in my area; I enjoy popular books and articles on topics from the various branches of science, economics and the like.

Nevertheless, I also realize that when I read such a book or article, or when I attend a public lecture, I am getting a watered down, simplified treatment of the subject. I lack the context and the prerequisite knowledge to appreciate a presentation aimed at the experts.

And there lies one of my biggest frustrations when it comes to talking to people, either on the internet or in person. There are so many who really can’t detect the difference between expert knowledge and what they read (and perhaps half-digested …if that much) from a popular book. It is THAT level of “lack of humility” that makes some unpleasant conversation companions; I am ok with ignorance. After all, I am ignorant of the vast majority of human knowledge. I think that all of us are.

And, sadly, I see this lack of intellectual humility in political or social issues discussion, especially from the “losing side”. It appears to me that being on the losing side of an election (and I’ve been there, many, many times) brings out the worst in people in several ways.

Example: I had someone try to tell me that Hillary Clinton’s popular vote is “within the margin of error”, when one factors in the caucus states.

Of course, that is a dumb statement for a number of reasons.

1. There is a difference between a vote count and a poll count, even though both have a margin of error (remember Florida in the 2000 general election). The margin of errors in vote count is much smaller than it is for a poll.

2. The margin of error for a poll is 1.96 * \frac{.5}{\sqrt{n}} (assuming a 95 percent confidence interval and a relatively close election; this comes from the normal approximation to the proportion distribution. So as n increases, the confidence interval, and therefore the margin of error, decreases. Note: for more on polls, read this wonderful little article written by a physics professor.

3. Hillary Clinton leads by about 3 million votes, even when one counts the caucus votes. The latter doesn’t add much as there are fewer caucus states, and these tend to be smaller states. Anyhow, she leads about 57-43.

4. The person making the claim appeared to not understand that winning a small state by a very large percentage didn’t make up for winning a bigger state by a smaller margin.

Yes, by knowing that Sanders won a lot of caucus states and that there IS such a thing as margin of error puts this individual into the “above average” category. But this person was clearly ignorant of their own ignorance.

There is another factor in play: I really think that desperation makes one dumber. When one really likes a candidate or a person, or even a sports team, it is tough to accept an unpleasant reality. I’ve become acquainted with the latter as an Illinois football fan (“yeah, we have a shot at being Wisconsin!” Sure.)

Desperation can lead to an abandonment of one’s values. Check out the Republican Chairman’s take on Donald Trump

Oh sure, few would be surprised at Donald Trump’s behavior, and I doubt that a certain type of Republican really cares that much (“hey, what do you expect with Trump anyway?”)

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Personal Issues, political/social, politics, poll, ranting, statistics | , , , | 1 Comment

Why I find the Sanders message unconvincing on an emotional level


I don’t think that things are as bad as they were in 2008 when we had the Obama vs. Clinton dust up. Oh, but things have gotten very chippy; witness what happened at the Nevada Democratic Convention. And no, requiring that someone be a Democrat to vote at the Democratic Convention is’t “rigging it for Hillary”.

But I’ve been attacked a few times (social media), and the attacks have been of this kind:

“Hey weren’t you for single payer health insurance?”

Me: “yes”.

“Hey, why aren’t you supporting Sanders then?”

Me: “well, there are things like “numbers” (i. e., the wild assumptions that the Sanders plan makes, such as a fantastic rate of economic growth (AVERAGE of 5 percent) to help pay for that and his other ideas, and the idea that these ideas are going nowhere without Congress being aboard, and we’ll need to elect a lot of “Blue Dog” Democrats (conservative Democrats, often from conservative states and Congressional Districts) to have a shot of retaking Congress, and they won’t be aboard with such ideas”.

And I say that I simply find Hillary Clinton to be smarter, better informed and have a greater range of experience.

At this point, I am usually accused of being a Republican, “thinking small”, or simply cursed out.

But the reasons I presented were what I call “logic and data” reasons. There is an emotional reaction against his campaign’s tone, or, *at least the tone of his supporters”. To his credit, Sen. Sanders has addressed at least a bit of my concern from the podium, though I am not sure as to how much it colors his campaign message.

So here it is: though there are some affluent Sanders supporters, much of what I am seeing appears to be: “hey we need to raise taxes on you to give ME something”. Hey, I didn’t choose your college major and I didn’t tell you how many kids to have, etc. THAT, in my opinion, is not a convincing message; it smacks of a bunch of grasshoppers wanting more ants to subsidize them.

Now it is true that there are some small, relatively homogeneous countries that have what we think of as successful socialist economies. Now of course, these are really not socialist countries; they are capitalist countries with high degrees of public investment and a generous safety net:

In the Scandinavian countries, like all other developed nations, the means of production are primarily owned by private individuals, not the community or the government, and resources are allocated to their respective uses by the market, not government or community planning.

While it is true that the Scandinavian countries provide things like a generous social safety net and universal healthcare, an extensive welfare state is not the same thing as socialism. What Sanders and his supporters confuse as socialism is actually social democracy, a system in which the government aims to promote the public welfare through heavy taxation and spending, within the framework of a capitalist economy. This is what the Scandinavians practice.

In response to Americans frequently referring to his country as socialist, the prime minister of Denmark recently remarked in a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government,

I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.

The Scandinavians embrace a brand of free-market capitalism that exists in conjunction with a large welfare state, known as the “Nordic Model,” which includes many policies that democratic socialists would likely abhor.

For example, democratic socialists are generally opponents of global capitalism and free trade, but the Scandinavian countries have fully embraced these things. The Economist magazine describes the Scandinavian countries as “stout free-traders who resist the temptation to intervene even to protect iconic companies.” Perhaps this is why Denmark, Norway, and Sweden rank among the most globalized countries in the entire world. These countries all also rank in the top 10 easiest countries to do business in.

How do supporters of Bernie Sanders feel about the minimum wage? You will find no such government-imposed floors on labor in Sweden, Norway, or Denmark. Instead, minimum wages are decided by collective-bargaining agreements between unions and employers; they typically vary on an occupational or industrial basis. Union-imposed wages lock out the least skilled and do their own damage to an economy, but such a decentralized system is still arguably a much better way of doing things than having the central government set a one-size fits all wage policy that covers every occupation nationwide.

In a move that would be considered radically pro-capitalist by young Americans who #FeelTheBern, Sweden adopted a universal school choice system in the 1990s that is nearly identical to the system proposed by libertarian economist Milton Friedman his 1955 essay, “The Role of Government in Education.”

And I’ve heard that most everyone in such countries has bought in because the benefits are clear to everyone.

So what does this mean for us? Here is my opinion: I think that people will support things like higher taxes IF THEY SEE THEMSELVES BENEFITING FROM THEM. Example: think of property tax rates in affluent areas. That is how wealthier districts have such nice schools and one way they keep “undesirables” out.

So, someone pushing a higher tax economy will have to convince the bulk of the voting population that THEY are benefiting or will benefit from such a system.

Sanders did make some argument in this direction; e. g. higher taxes to support single payer will be offset by lower insurance premiums for the rest of us.
It is my opinion that THAT has to be the thrust of his arguments. Otherwise: nope..will not work politically.

May 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment


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