blueollie

Introspection: good medicine, though not everyone agrees…

A book called Shattered has caused a mini-sensation in some Democratic circles:

Donald J. Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in November came as a shock to the world. Polls, news reports and everything the Clinton campaign was hearing in the final days pointed to her becoming the first female president in American history.

In their compelling new book, “Shattered,” the journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes write that Clinton’s loss suddenly made sense of all the reporting they had been doing for a year and a half — reporting that had turned up all sorts of “foreboding signs” that often seemed at odds, in real time, with indications that Clinton was the favorite to win. Although the Clinton campaign was widely covered, and many autopsies have been conducted in the last several months, the blow-by-blow details in “Shattered” — and the observations made here by campaign and Democratic Party insiders — are nothing less than devastating, sure to dismay not just her supporters but also everyone who cares about the outcome and momentous consequences of the election.

Now this has been tough to talk about in public. IF you dare bring this up and your list of “social media” friends includes followers of liberal/Democratic politics, you’ll get the following:

1. Some will tell you how unelectable HRC was from the get-go and how we should have rallied around BERNIE (no, I am not making this up)
2. Some will bring up the very real factors of Russian collusion (a fact) and the Comey letter (another fact) and mention sexism/misogyny and say that was IT, period.

Many are simply not open to the fact that, even given that a woman is going to have a tougher time of it than a man, and given the Comey letter and Russian collusion, the Clinton campaign WAS a disaster; they neglected areas were Obama campaigned hard. Evidently, HRC and company learned nothing from the 2008 primary. If one remembers: the 2008 primary was essentially tied after Super Tuesday. But the Obama campaign had set up field offices in the next 10 states; HRC did not and she got creamed and fell hopelessly behind in the delegate race. When she recovered, it became even from there on out (more or less) but she was in too deep of a hole to catch up.

So, Clinton campaign incompetence is all too easy to believe.

And one wonders: where was OUR Cambridge Analytics “get out the vote” operation?

I liken it to a football team that goes on the road, gets a few bad calls and loses a close game. Sure, the bad calls matter, but so do the unforced fumbles and missed field goals. It is several things, and the race should have never been close enough to lose to begin with.

And yes, the loser of the election (with perhaps the exception of Walter Mondale, who had zero chance against Reagan) gets raked over the coals. That comes with the territory.

Sure, Hillary Clinton has had an outstanding career; she not only won a major party nomination, but was a Senator and a Secretary of State. That is awesome. She is a success. But she is NOT a natural politician (as she admitted) and her final two campaigns still stunk.

And this leads to the concept of introspection: I’ve found that, at least on a personal level, I benefit from looking at my failures and asking myself: “what could I have done better”? “what will I do differently next time?”

No, this is NOT the same thing as “self loathing”; after all, beating myself up for not being as smart as Stephen Hawking or being a professional athlete is useless (not that I don’t do it anyway, from time to time). But what I am talking about is my critiquing myself when I fall short of MY potential.

And, frankly, I am surprised at how many do NOT see this as a valuable thing to do. So many times, I see people blaming everyone else but themselves (other people, society for not appreciating them, etc.). I’ve never seen that turn out well, but people do it all of the time.

Workout notes yesterday, weights and a 2 mile walk.
Weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, easy), bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 4 x 185 (no spotter), incline: 10 x 135, military (dumbbell): 20 x 50 seated, supported, 10 x 45, 10 x 40, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110, abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches, head stand , goblet squats (sets of 5) warm up, 45, 45, 55, 55, 60, 65.

today: easy 5 mile run after dropping Barbara off.

Better get to grading: I want to watch baseball tonight!

April 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, running, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Zakaria is right: avoid “Trump derangement syndrome”

It is a sign of the times that I feel the need to state this: yes, I feel that Trump is grossly unqualified to be President of the United States on many levels: experience, deportment, attitude, maturity, humility, intellectual honesty, knowledge, etc. I completely agree with this assessment on Trump’s breathtaking ignorance.

And I am disgusted that so many (if not a plurality) voted for him. Yes, some of his voters are reasonably well off; many have done difficult to do things (run a successful business, be medical doctors, lawyers, military officers, etc.) But as far as this group: I feel that many of these people, while smart, spend most of their intellectual energy at their job and become intellectually lazy outside their job. I wonder if they would hire or promote someone who did not bother to learn the details of the job that they are doing it…and came in thinking that they could just “wing it”, as Trump appears to be doing.

But, I think that too many of Trump’s critics have gone too far. From Fareed Zakaria:

I didn’t really believe that there was such a thing as Trump Derangement Syndrome — hatred of President Trump so intense that it impairs people’s judgment. It’s not that I didn’t notice the harsh, unyielding language against him — I’ve said a few tough things myself — but that throughout the campaign, Trump seemed to do things that justified it. Once elected, instead of calming down and acting presidential, he continued the stream of petty attacks, exaggerations and lies. His administration seemed marked by chaos and incompetence.

And then came the strike against Syria. On that issue, Trump appears to have listened carefully to his senior national security professionals, reversed his earlier positions, chosen a calibrated response and acted swiftly. I supported the strike and pointed out — in print and on air — that Trump was finally being presidential because the action “seems to reflect a belated recognition from Trump that he cannot simply put America first — that the president of the United States must act on behalf of broader interests and ideals.” On the whole, though, I was critical of Trump’s larger Syria policy, describing it as “incoherent.” My Post column was titled, “One missile strike is not a strategy.”

From the response on the left, you would have thought I had just endorsed Trump for pope. Otherwise thoughtful columnists described my views as “nonsense” and a sign that the media has “bent over backward” to support Trump. (Really?) One journalist declared on television, “If that guy could have sex with this cruise missile attack, I think he would do it.” A gaggle of former Obama speechwriters discussed how my comments were perhaps “the stupidest” of any given on the subject.

And I agree with him here, sort of. When I first learned of the Trump missile attack, I thought “this sure feels familiar; I could see most any President in my lifetime (except perhaps Jimmy Carter) doing something that at least appeared to be similar, at least superficially. Yes, Trump’s lack of deportment took away the benefit of the doubt that I gave to other Presidents (including Republicans). And I still wonder exactly what we did…it appears that the airfield was still operational, etc.

And oh my, when the generals (perhaps without seeking Trump’s approval) used that 21,000 lb. blast bomb which, to me, was a mere “weapons choice”. Comparing it to a small nuclear device was absurd.

And I’ll say this, just in case. IF Trump decides to seek a universal health care option (say, Medicaid for all) or IF Trump decides to embark on a genuine, conventionally financed infrastructure repair plan (unlikely to be an honest plan, IMHO, but IF), I’d want my members of Congress to work on a deal.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d be very surprised if it happens. Very surprised. But IF…

And let’s talk about that election. Yes, there was collusion with Russia and Russian hacking of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, though no hacking of the actual voting machines. And the Comey letter hurt; Clinton would have probably pulled it out without it.

But that isn’t ALL. First, the Clinton campaign was a disaster; they neglected key states. She is not good “from the podium” (she admitted to not being the natural politician that her husband is). She has a Gore like “Velcro” persona; EVERYTHING sticks to her, whether fair or not. So, IMHO, she screwed up.

And, in the interest of accuracy, fairness and planning: give The Devil his Due. Trump is an excellent con man and his get out the vote operation, armed by sophisticated data mining, was excellent. They knew who to target and how to target them.

But sadly, giving Trump even this much credit is taboo in some circles.

I like to think of it this way: suppose there is a football game where a team wins on a series of very bad calls by the officials. BUT, along the way, the losing team missed easy field goals and fumbled the ball away multiple times AND the other team came in very, very prepared. ALL of those factors (bad officiating, bad play by the losing team, superb play by the winning team) can ALL be true at the same time.

And I believe that an honest assessment on what Trump did *right* in the campaign is a necessary part of winning the next campaign.

April 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

My Syria post

Ok, President Trump launched some cruise missiles at an airstrip from which the chemical weapons attack originated. Because the Russians were there, they were given advance notice. And, evidently, the airstrip/base remained operational:

And yes, the rubes cheered…hey, he did SOMETHING.

Oh, the options were not all that good.

And ISIS took advantage. Let’s face it: things are complicated. One has the so-called government which Russia, along with Shiite groups backs. The Rebels are mostly Sunni (backed by Sunni groups) and ISIS has a foothold as well. It is complicated.

In the US: the support really isn’t strictly along party lines; the Freedom Caucus is upset but the old guard seems ok. Given what the strike accomplished (basically…nothing…) and deterred (basically nothing…) well..

And how legal was it? Here are what some top legal minds say. And the politicians are split (here and here): we have the War Powers Act of 1973 (which specifies that the President is authorized to start limited military action IF several conditions are met and it is in our national interest (e. g. retaliate for a state sponsor murder, protect US citizens, etc) and there is the authorization of use of military force (used for the Iraq invasion) to generally fight terror.

But..it appears to me that the real criteria is for the President to say “it is in our national interest” and for Congress to not object and for it to be over quickly.

Who in the hell knows. I’d like to think that Trump was not that unethical, but his repeated, foolish tweets give me reason to doubt his personal stability. I wish that I had more confidence in him.
Yes, I can see other Presidents doing something *similar* (execution? targets? effectiveness?). So my questions are more about the President that ordered it than anything else; he just has no “benefit of the doubt” from me..the way that other presidents (of either party) had.

April 8, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, Uncategorized, world events | , | Leave a comment

Moving forward: we won’t make progress with Trump’s base

Yes, Trump’s spending cuts will hit many red staters hard:

McCracken’s deep-rooted conservatism is matched by a passion to support Tulsa Domestic Violence Intervention Services, a nonprofit that helped her flee an ex- who she says beat and choked her, once until unconsciousness. She became teary as she described how staff members at the organization helped her and her son escape that relationship.

“They saved my life, and my son’s,” she said, her eyes liquid.

So she is aghast that one of Trump’s first proposals is to cut federal funds that sustain the organization. “My prayer is that Congress will step in” to protect domestic violence programs, she said.

Here in Oklahoma, I’ve been interviewing many people like McCracken — fervent Trump supporters who now find that the White House is trying to ax programs they have depended on, to pay for Trump’s border wall and for increases in military spending. And they’re upset.

“Why is building a wall more important than educating people?” asked Billy Hinkle, a Trump voter who is enrolled in a program called Tulsa WorkAdvance that trains mostly unemployed workers to fill well-paying manufacturing jobs. Trump has proposed eliminating a budget pot that pays for the program.

Yet Democrats gleeful at the prospect of winning penitent voters back should take a deep breath. These voters may be irritated, but I was struck by how loyal they remain to Trump.

I talked to many Trump voters about the impact if Trump’s budget cuts go through, and none regretted their votes in November. They all said that they might vote for Trump for re-election.

“I don’t think I re-evaluate Trump,” Moreno said, adding that he just wants the president to re-evaluate his budget proposal.

Judy Banks, a 70-year-old struggling to get by, said she voted for Trump because “he was talking about getting rid of those illegals.” But Banks now finds herself shocked that he also has his sights on funds for the Labor Department’s Senior Community Service Employment Program, which is her lifeline. It pays senior citizens a minimum wage to hold public service jobs.

“This program makes sense,” said Banks, who was placed by the program into a job as a receptionist for a senior nutrition program. Banks said she depends on the job to make ends meet, and for an excuse to get out of the house.

What is going on with these people? I think that this is the best explanation:

But there is a more fundamental, discomfiting, question in all this: Does demonstrating empathy even work anymore for politicians? Or, to put a finer point on it, if you show empathy for everybody in your audience, does each person only hear that you care about someone else?

As one of President Obama’s speechwriters, I had the privilege of working for one of the most authentically compassionate leaders in recent history. He possesses a natural ability — and desire — to understand just about anyone. And as his speechwriters, we knew he didn’t just appreciate all sides of a story — he wanted to acknowledge those perspectives and reassure his audiences that he heard where they were coming from.

Yet, try as he did, message intended wasn’t always message received.

For example, whenever Obama addressed tensions between law enforcement and the communities they served, some critics would insist that he never had a nice thing to say about cops. After the horrific murder of two New York City cops, Rudy Giuliani was quick to blame Obama, saying, “The president has shown absolutely no respect for the police … All the president has done is see one side of this dispute.”

This couldn’t have been further from the truth, of course. As the fact-checking site Politifact detailed, Obama had on numerous occasions expressed support for police, praised their outstanding work, and strongly condemned violence against them. But it seemed as though a concurrent acknowledgement of communities that felt mistreated by cops, or of the Black Lives Matter movement, erased any trace of empathy detected by some in law enforcement. This happened on issue after issue, from gun violence to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has written that, “When it comes to policy decisions … we are better off putting aside empathy and employing a combination of rational deliberation and a more distanced compassion.” I asked him what this means for political communication. He said that empathy, effectively, is a zero-sum game. Anyone who has to speak to multiple audiences at once faces a trade-off: A politician might tell you he cares about you — but if he also tells you that he cares about someone else, you no longer trust him. We demand of our leaders an unfair and impossible monogamy.

And go back to the original article: they were upset that the Democrats helped other people.

Here are more Trump voters:

The good news: while we will NEVER win all of them or even most of them, we can win “just enough” of them in key states to tip the tables. So it is worth the effort.

Upside: Scott made this meme for me.

April 2, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Empathy and Filibusters

New York Magazine has a couple of interesting articles.

The first one was about empathy in politics and how it really isn’t a winning message. Trump continues to play to his base; most every other president in my memory at least made a pretense of representing everyone.

Basically, the United States is not a liberal arts college; coming out for the rights of class X really, in and of itself, is not a winning message. And claiming to see many sides of an issue doesn’t work either; note how the right wing acted toward President Obama who FREQUENTLY praised law enforcement. Saying “well, you know, group Y might have a valid point” is a good way to get those not in group Y to be against you.

It is a sad state of affairs. But I do think that this state of affairs should be acknowledged and dealt with.

Think about it: much of the Clinton campaign was about attacking Trump’s attacks and deportment. That did NOT close the deal.

My guess: the Democrats can win again..but rather than say “oh, Trump and the Republicans are terrible because they did this boorish thing”, they will have to point out that Trump really pulled a big con; he made promises that he either had no chance of delivering on or no intention on delivering on.

Gorsuch nomination The Democrats got rolled on Garland. If they don’t retaliate, we’ll get rolled again. Right now it appears that we have 34 willing to filibuster; we need 7 more. Oh, Gorsuch will then be approved by a simple majority vote. But make no mistake about it if we don’t filibuster now, they will filibuster our next nominee. It is better to let the filibuster be nuked.

Pence and dining with a woman alone: This is comical. Ok, IF this is only a social policy and he is willing to have a working meal with a female professional, that’s fine. I think it is silly (disclaimer: I do stuff with female friends). I find it amusing that we have a “I won’t even eat with a female alone” person teamed up with Mr. “Grab them by the pussy.” Is this two sides of the same coin?

I couldn’t resist making a Carmen meme about this:

Workout notes

weights plus 2 miles on the treadmill, then leg weights.
Treadmill run: 2-2-2-2-2 (5.2-5.6), then 2-2-2-2-2 (6.7-7.1; 8:41 average). 2.05 miles in 20 minutes.
leg weights: goblet squats: 6 sets of 5: 5 with 50, last with 65. 100 meter walk on half the track between sets.
upper body weights:

rotator cuff, 5 sets of 10 pull ups: incline bench: 10 x 135, 5 x 150, 7 x 140 (strict), dumbbell military (standing): 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine.

March 31, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, running, social/political, weight training | , | Leave a comment

A very common type of Trump supporter…

I know it is common to mock Trump supporters as being very wealthy people (e. g. CEOs) interested in getting their “low tax and deregulation” wish list fulfilled or as very dumb, poor people voting against their own interests. I’ve written about those two types of supporters.

But there is another large class of Trump supporters: people who, while not unusually educated, are not poor either. One might think of a factory foreman or perhaps a senior enlisted person in the military.

They are somewhat wealthier than the average American and, realistically, a bit above average in IQ. I was reminded of this type of Trump supporter when I read a comment on a physics professor’s Facebook page:

Rory, I’m a graduate Engineer. I was an Electronic Technician for years before I became an Engineer. I encountered this academic blindness on my first day of “Theory of Electrical Design.” My University professor began the class teaching that Electricity flowed from Positive to Negative because all things must flow “downhill.” I laughed. I had learned that electrons are responsible for electricity and, being negatively charged, they always flow from Negative to Positive AND I had built and repaired many a radio, radar and computer SUCCESSFULLY using this methodology. However, my Professor could/would not accept that fact! He had only heard his theoretical approach (I call it the “hole” theory) and I had to accept his POV in order to pass his class. He had never operated on any electronic devices and did not CARE how things worked in the real world (where I earned my living). It was difficult for him to see anything except theory and he was blind to any other POV. I, on the other hand, once I saw that if I reversed all my polarity signs, I could make the Math work for the sake of a passing the exam. I have other examples of Academic blindness insisting that Reality must change for the sake of their personally proven theory.

This is where you and I are. I have outer world experience in what works. You are an academic professional. You’ve lived inside this academic ‘bubble’ so long, you think I’M mad. The others following your page who delight in slander, emotional name calling, and illogical phraseology because they do not understand me, are different than you or I. There is no hope for them. But I extend this essay in the hope you might see some possibility of value to another view of reality. You see, from where I sit, it is not my view that contradicts the way Reality works, it is yours. And what, may I point out, is one definition of “Mental Illness” but a mental attitude that shuts out reality? With hopes we can exchange some meaningful dialogue, I offer you my Best wishes, Jon

Now, the person who wrote this probably has a somewhat above average IQ, though well below that of the physics professor he was addressing (who is a national class level researcher).

Now here is what is going on: when one teaches, say, circuit analysis to those who do not have a college mathematics and physics background, one must simplify. And at least in the Navy (and perhaps in other places), they are taught an “electron current” theory of electricity. This is more intuitive for them; they can visualize (so they think) little electrons (thought of as, well, small particles) flowing from one place to another.

Because using this convention and simplification allowed for this person to do electronic work, well, that must be “real world”.

In fact, current was defined before electrons were, and the standard electrodynamic theory has current “flowing” in the other direction. That is the universal definition among scientists and engineers and, at the university level and above, that is what *should* be taught.

But oh no…this individual, while not dumb, was terribly ignorant of “what was out there” and not curious enough to learn.

And what of the basic science behind the electronic components that he was able to tinker with during his “technician” days? Did that just appear from a burning bush? Nah, to this obstinate fool, well, that is some “no common sense professor” with his nose too deeply in the book to appreciate REAL WORLD stuff.

Anyhow, there are a lot of Trump supporters like this one. The conclusions that they have reached in their respective limited spheres and limited experiences override expert opinion, especially if that expert opinion is counter-intuitive to them.

Workout notes: 58:36 for a 5 mile walk on the treadmill; it felt fine.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, walking | 2 Comments

I am almost sorry I didn’t vote for Trump

Ok, yes, I still consider Donald Trump to be an unqualified amateur who lacks the necessary deportment and humility to be President of the United States.
I fear that his recklessness will get us into a shooting war; that his ham-handedness will wreck our economy and heaven forbid what will happen when we get our first genuine crisis.

But, well, look at what is happening:

1. A Trump supporter in Chicago is whining about being…bullied? Uh, Trump is the quintessential bully. Oh, let me make it clear: I do NOT approve of threats and the like; if I saw someone vandalize their business, I’d report it to the police right away.

And for what it worth, I do business with companies that are run by Republicans all of the time; I go by things like customer service, how I am treated, how they treat their workers, etc.

But if others want to make choices with their dollars or to denounce their choice, well, that is just “freedom”, no? And remember that Trump bullies people all of the time.

2. Many Trump voters are…worried about losing their Obamacare and/or Medicaid. Seriously? Hey, Trump made much of his money via cons and stiffing contractors. And you thought that he’d tell the truth to you? OMG…I am dying with laughter:

An aim of Republican legislation is to reduce private premiums, but Ms. Sines’s son, who along with her other two grown children signed up for Medicaid under the expansion, has been warning that their coverage could be “in trouble,” she said. She cannot believe Mr. Trump would allow that to happen.

“I can’t imagine them not keeping it like it is now,” said Ms. Sines, who runs a group home for the elderly.

Mr. Waltimire said he hoped to return to the police force, and the health benefits it provides, this year. But with no guarantee of good health — he was injured in a fall in 2009 and has had circulatory problems ever since — he also hopes other options remain available.

“It’s kind of hard for me,” he said of having free government coverage. “I’ve always worked all my life. But like my counselor said, sometimes you just have to say thank you and move forward.”

3. And those who live in impoverished areas just KNOW that good jobs are coming back:

“I voted for Trump 100%,” says Barbara Puckett, a 55-year-old mom, who lives in the small and friendly town of Beattyville. “It’s the most hopeful I’ve been in a long time now that he’s in there.”
Trump won 81% of the vote in Beattyville. People here love that Trump doesn’t “sugarcoat” anything. They feel he understands them, even though he’s a billionaire.
“Donald Trump’s got all the money he’ll ever need,” says Steve Mays, judge-executive for the county and life-long Beattyville resident. The 49-year-old says he’s never been more excited about a president than he is now. “Trump will be a president for the common man.” [..]

“If you got a job here in Beattyville, you’re lucky,” says Amber Hayes, a bubbly 25-year-old mom of two, who also voted for Trump. She works at the county courthouse, but is paid by the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP), a form of welfare.
Coal, oil and tobacco made Beattyville a boom town in the 1800s and much of the 1900s. Locals like to bring up the fact that Lee County — where Beattyville is located — was the No. 1 oil-producing county east of the Mississippi at one time.
“Growing up in the ’70s? Yeah, this was the place to be,” says Chuck Caudhill, the general manager of the local paper, The Beattyville Enterprise. He calls the town the “gem of eastern Kentucky.”
Today, the town is a ghost of its former self. The vast majority of Beattyville residents get some form of government aid — 57% of households receive food stamps and 58% get disability payments from Social Security.
“I hope [Trump] don’t take the benefits away, but at the same time, I think that once more jobs come in a lot of people won’t need the benefits,” says Hayes, who currently receives about $500 a month from government assistance. She’s also on Obamacare.

Uh huh. I am sure that businesses are itching to set something up in this town. ROTFLMAO.

Hey if you vote for a known con artist, you are voting to get conned.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, poverty, social/political | | 2 Comments

Understanding different types of Trump supporters

Yes, I admit that there are some Trump supporters that do fall into the “basket of deplorables”; there is no denying that. No, it isn’t half of them but it is certainly some of them.

I’ll focus on the more mainstream ones.

One group includes the poorly educated, “lower middle class to poor” Trump supporters. Yes, Trumpcare and many of Trump’s proposed economic policies will hurt them more than most. So what is going on? This appears to be the best explanation I’ve read.

This is my summary of the article: yes, the repeal of Obamacare and the cutting of safety-nets (including Medicaid) hurts them. Cutting “Meals on Wheels” hurts the elderly in the region as well.

But: what these people really want is for the long lost jobs to return; jobs with health insurance and retirement plans (both indirectly subsidized by the government in terms of tax breaks). Government run safety nets…those are yucky programs that “other people” rely on:

Why are economically struggling blue collar voters rejecting a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The reality is that the bulk of needy white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one most well-employed voters still enjoy. […]

ike most of my neighbors I have a good job in the private sector. Ask my neighbors about the cost of the welfare programs they enjoy and you will be greeted by baffled stares. All that we have is “earned” and we perceive no need for government support. Nevertheless, taxpayers fund our retirement saving, health insurance, primary, secondary, and advanced education, daycare, commuter costs, and even our mortgages at a staggering public cost. Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand.

My family’s generous health insurance costs about $20,000 a year, of which we pay only $4,000 in premiums. The rest is subsidized by taxpayers. You read that right. Like virtually everyone else on my block who isn’t old enough for Medicare or employed by the government, my family is covered by private health insurance subsidized by taxpayers at a stupendous public cost. Well over 90% of white households earning over the white median income (about $75,000) carried health insurance even before the Affordable Care Act. White socialism is nice if you can get it.

The article also describes the tax breaks we get for our pension plans.

When Democrats respond to job losses with an offer to expand the public safety net, blue collar voters cringe and rebel. They are not remotely interested in sharing the public social safety net experienced by minority groups and the poorest white families. Meanwhile well-employed and affluent voters, ensconced in their system of white socialism, leverage all the power at their disposal to block any dilution of their expensive public welfare benefits. Something has to break.

And so, Bernie like populism will flop with that group.

The business CEOs
I remember my days in the submarine Navy. Both the officers and the enlisted men came from the top of their respective groups, at least in terms of intelligence. As far as the officers I worked with: typically A engineering students in college who has done well in Nuclear Power school They were very hard workers (16-18 hours a day at sea, 12 or more in port) were typical, and they knew the technology (e. g. nuclear power plant) inside and out.

But with those hours and that focus…let’s just say there wasn’t time to focus on the finer points of social policy or macro economics; whatever matched their intuition sounded good.

Business CEOs are probably similar: very smart people who know their business and their industry inside and out…but probably not that interested in this that don’t directly relate to their business in the short term. Hence, to them, Trump indicates and end to the “class warfare” that Obama waged..finally…lower taxes and fewer regulations! So attitudes like this are probably common.

Oh, there are long term problems. For example, if income inequality gets to be so great that few people have disposable income left, who is going to buy their stuff? If regulations made businesses so unprofitable, why did CEO pay rise so steeply? What will happen if/when Trump either gets us in a war or a trade war?

But lots of 14-18 hour days doesn’t give one a lot of time to ponder things beyond their own narrow interest.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, social/political | , | 1 Comment

And I waste my spring break….

I am just having too much fun on the internet.

Now THAT is my kind of toaster! (this is what this is making fun of: Kellyanne Conway, of couch kneeling fame, claimed that some microwaves have spy cameras)

Cheetocare My “friend” Carmen Johnson and my twitter buddy Diana Archer dubbed this health care train wreck “Cheetocare”. Roughly, it cuts taxes on the upper 2 percent in return for underfunding the Medicare trust fund and not expanding Medicaid …and ..in effect, kicking older people off of Obamacare by allowing the insurance companies to increase the multiplier from 3 times to 5 times (how much more an older person must pay for insurance). Here are some sources: New York Times, Vox, Vox on Medicaid.

If there is a silver lining, it is that poor, red, southern states will be hit the hardest with a “per-capita” Medicaid rating.

But, it is my guess that this bill will either crash and burn in the house or be DOA in the Senate. Even conservative outlets such as Newsmax and Breitbart are denouncing it as Ryan’s plan. In fact, Newsmax is actually proposing “Medicaid for all”; weaker than “Medicare for all” to be sure, but..well…when Newsmax moves somewhat close to what I can live with…these are strange times.

As far as the rest of the Trump agenda: well, lots of CEOs seem to like what they see. I get it: they spend a LOT of time on their own businesses and are pretty good on managing things on a short term basis. Of course if things get so bad that few have money to patronize their businesses…well, I suppose in their eyes, that is some theoretical construct that they don’t have time for now. Micro is their thing, not macro.

Upshot: don’t expect them to move away from Trump for all of Trump’s shortcomings.

Basketball notes: Fun NIT game in Champaign last night; another one in Normal tonight. I’ll write a complete report tomorrow.

Workout notes:
Treadmill run: 10 minute warm up (every 2 minutes), then 10 x 2:30 at 6.7, 2:30 at 5.3 recoveries. I had an extra break when the fire alarm went off (false alarm) so I did one 3 minute interval with a 2 minute rest to make up somewhat. 1:00:44 for 6 miles, 1:02:52 for 10K.

March 15, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, running, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

The unpopularity of the Democratic Party

Yes, President Trump has historically low approval ratings (for it being this early in his administration).

That is undeniable. (this graph is via Gallup).

But ..the Democratic party...rates even LOWER

Of course, the Bernie Bros are claiming “see, you need to become more like Bernie” and they cite articles like this one:

But what this apparently means to the people who are calling for unity is getting behind the corporate, suit and tie, lobbyist-driven agenda of the establishment. But let me break it to you – the establishment has almost no grassroots momentum. Virtually every progressive grassroots movement in America right now is fueled by people outside of the Democratic Party establishment and this is a huge reason why the party is so outrageously unpopular.

Huge grassroots movements, made up of millions and millions of people, are fueling the fight for a $15 minimum wage, fighting back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fighting to end fracking, fighting to remove lobbyist money from politics, fighting to end senseless wars and international violence, fighting for universal healthcare, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, fighting for free college tuition, fighting against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. But mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues have deep networks, energized volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

In the past two months, I’ve spoken in a dozen states around the country and thousands of people show up. Wednesday night, in the freezing rain, lines were wrapped around multiple city blocks to attend an event I was hosting at a local Seattle high school. We literally formed the event a few days ago on Facebook and didn’t spend a single penny putting it together.

This is a breath-taking amount of ignorance. Yes, “activists” really love those things and have energy. But a tiny percentage of people can be a lot of people in a country of 320 million. That, by no stretch of the imagination, translates into something the electorate will rally around.

Riddle me this: how did left wingers do in the past election? Example: Russ Feingold lost by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton did in Wisconsin.

While left wing populism might be very inspirational to a small percentage of the population, it really isn’t a winning political coalition:

On November 20, less than two weeks after Donald Trump’s upset win, Bernie Sanders strode onto a stage at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center to give the sold-out audience his thoughts on what had gone so disastrously wrong for the Democratic Party.

Sanders had a simple answer. Democrats, he said, needed to field candidates who would unapologetically promise that they would be willing “to stand up with the working class of this country and … take on big-money interests.”

Democrats, in other words, would only be able to defeat Trump and others like him if they adopted an anti-corporate, unabashedly left-wing policy agenda. The answer to Trump’s right-wing populism, Sanders argued, was for the left to develop a populism of its own.

That’s a belief widely shared among progressives around the world. A legion of commentators and politicians, most prominently in the United States but also in Europe, have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Supporters of these leaders, they argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

“[It’s] a kind of liberal myth,” Pippa Norris, a Harvard political scientist who studies populism in the United States and Europe, says of the Sanders analysis. “[Liberals] want to have a reason why people are supporting populist parties when their values are so clearly against progressive values in terms of misogyny, sexism, racism.”

The problem is that a lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration — or, more precisely, it doesn’t do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it’s in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

Yeah, left wing populism and a focus on the poor and economic injustice may have worked…in 1932 when unemployment was at 25 percent!

But the reality is:

1. Most do not care all that much about the Dakota Access Pipeline
2. Most have little in common with those who are at risk of losing their Obamacare insurance (and many of these ignorant jackasses voted for Trump)
3. Most of us earn well above the minimum wage
4. Most are not Muslim and most do not have Muslim friends
5. Most of us do not care whether someone is offended by someone else using the “wrong” pronoun.
6. Most of us did not go out and have a bunch of kids that we could not afford to raise.

In fact, much of left wing populism appears to be a transfer of money from those who have achieved to “the unworthy”.

Oh, there are many good reasons for those programs; I happen to believe that wealth trickles up through the economy and NOT down; when the bottom of the economic ladder is better off, the rest of us are are better off. Personally, I want more people to be able to afford to send their kids to my university and to patronize the neighborhood businesses. There is evidence that poor kids that get SNAP do better than those who don’t.

But that is a difficult sell, especially to people like me, who have been raised on The Ant and the Grasshopper.

But there is more from the Vox article quoted above:

When Corbyn took control of Labour leadership last September, UKIP — Britain’s far-right, anti-EU party — had been in decline, netting around 10 percent in the Britain Elects poll aggregator. By the June 2016 Brexit vote over whether to leave the EU, UKIP’s numbers had risen to a little over 15 percent.

Corbyn and Labour publicly supported staying in the EU, but didn’t campaign for it particularly hard. It may not have mattered: Eric Kaufmann, a professor at the University of London who studies populism, looked at what Brexit voters said were the “most important” issues facing the UK. More than 40 percent said immigration; a scant 5 percent said “poverty and inequality.”

According to Kaufmann, this reflects an uncomfortable truth: The kind of voter who’s attracted to the far right just doesn’t care a whole lot about inequality and redistribution, Corbyn’s signature issues. Tacking left to win them over, as Corbyn has, is “a bad idea,” he told me in a phone conversation.

Yes, this is the United States, not the UK. But:

This, they hypothesized, was not an accident. People are only willing to support redistribution if they believe their tax dollars are going to people they can sympathize with. White voters, in other words, don’t want to spend their tax dollars on programs that they think will benefit black or Hispanic people.

The United States is marked by far more racial division than its European peers. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites. “Hostility between races limits support for welfare,” Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote conclude flatly in the paper.

Now, it’s been a decade and a half since this paper was published, so it’s possible the evidence has shifted. I called up Sacerdote to ask him whether any subsequent research has caused him to change his mind. His answer was firmly negative. “It’s almost sad that it’s held up so well,” he told me.

And I see it as being grimmer than this.

Take public education. One would expect teachers to have to have a basic standard of literacy, right? Well, in New York, the public education establishment is about to do away with a literacy test for teachers because…too many minorities are not passing the test!

New York state is poised to scrap a literacy test for people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected to adopt the recommendation of a task force to eliminate the exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Critics of the exam said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms.

Just 46 percent of Hispanic and 41 percent of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

The test was among four assessments for prospective teachers introduced in the 2013-2014 school year.

(note to conservatives who might be laughing: I hope you are equally outraged at attempts to give creationism “equal time” in science curricula).

And so it goes. It is bad enough that we have racism in our population, but then we go and lead with our chin with stupid stuff like this. Guess whose kids those illiterate teachers will be teaching?

Workout notes: home treadmill (snow outside): 10 minute jog, then 50 minutes of “quick walking”; 5 miles in just about 1 hour (maybe 1:00:20 or so).

March 13, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, political/social, politics, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment