blueollie

Mitch McConnell’s The Long Game: manager of Team Republican

IF you are a sports fan (NFL, NBA, MLB, or some other team sport) think about what happens when you cheer for your team: do you honestly think that the world will be a better place if your team wins? Honestly, that just isn’t a concern during the game, is it? You want your team to win, and you want your coach to coach to win and your players to play to win. That’s it.

And so, I turn to Senator Mitch McConnell’s book The Long Game. (New York Times review is here)

Yes, there is the obligatory attempts to humanize him (and some of it IS funny…for example, the story about then President Elect Bush during his inauguration asking him where his podium was; McConnell didn’t know for sure..but when the podium rose through the floor at the appropriate time, McConnell gave a cool nod as if he knew all along…)

You learn about his attempts to play baseball (flamed out before high school), and that he likes chicken enchiladas and sports cars. But over and over again, you hear about his love of professional baseball and the Louisville Cardinal football and basketball teams. That is a recurring theme. And, when you think about it, it is very telling.

What you do NOT hear about, at least in detail, is policy. Oh, there is the usual “The ACA bill is horrible”, “McCain-Feingold is horrible”, “Obama talks down to people”, “Obama is a far left politician”, etc., but it is very shallow boilerplate…Sarah Palin caliber stuff. The exception is the discussion of First Amendment issues as it related to the attempted flag burning amendment and to campaign finance reform. The discussion of why he supported sanctions on the apartheid South African government was also interesting.

But you’ll see no detailed discussion of foreign policy, supply side economics, conservative interpretation of law or anything like that. There was next to no mention of religion either.

And very tellingly, there is no discussion of how he wanted to make people’s lives better, or even enable them to live better lives.

The vast majority of the book was about two things:

1. His personal ambition. He made no bones about wanting to warrant a better office, attain membership on better committees, and to attain leadership positions..oh yes..and get elected.
2. His legislative victories; you can almost feel the gloating over his clever filibuster or clever use of the Senate rules to kill legislation he didn’t like or to attain the goals he wanted..and to get members of his team elected.

Moral and logical consistency were not issues for him. He decried Harry Reid’s “destruction of the Senate” (by using the rules to advance legislation) while dancing on the 50 yard line the times he did the same thing.
He decried Al Gore’s Senate theatrics and then described his own. He decried “show votes” (voting on something that the other chamber will not pass or that the President will veto) but then, IN THE NEXT LINE, admitting that he took them.

Hypocrisy does not bother him. Ridicule, so he says, does not bother him (he asks cartoonists for signed copies of cartoons that lampoon him)..though he did dress down Al Franken for making faces while he spoke in the Senate.

What matters to him is WINNING, period..he wants Team Republican to win. Now this might mean taking incremental victories here and there, even if it means getting attacked by “WE WANT IT ALL, NOW” activists (yes, Democrats have to deal with this too). Set things up…get better field position. Hence the title: The Long Game.

And winning (in terms of Team Republican) means winning votes, winning elections..and winning, on a personal level, means advancing. And he does offer quite a bit of insight here (e. g. the way to win a position is to run unopposed, and the way to do that is to lock up key support, early). And he planned, planned and planned some more. Hence the title: The Long Game.

Early in life, he took on jobs so as to better position himself for political opportunities in the future…evidently it wasn’t to serve constituencies. Hence the title: The Long Game.

Still, I was surprised at how little he talked about policy, either the philosophy of it or how it makes people’s lives better.

This tweet really gets it:

Claire McCaskill: “[McConnell] is a very, very political leader. This isn’t somebody who is sitting around at night figuring out how he can move the needle on really important policy issues. This is someone who is figuring out how he can win elections.”

And that brings me to his discussion of President Barack Obama (called “Professor Obama”, as if that were an insult). Here and there he did praise him; he complimented his campaign, and how well he spoke about the TARP issues (called it “masterful”, without notes).

But he claimed that Obama spoke down to people in private, just like he does in public.

That claim got me scratching my head at first; one of the things I liked about Obama is that he didn’t insult me when he spoke. But after thinking about the praise that McConnell had for Joe Biden..and why he praised him, I think I got it.

Obama IS a policy heavyweight and is a pragmatist ..a problem solver. He sees a need in society and goes about trying to get that need met or that problem fixed; whether the solution is a traditionally conservative one or a liberal one doesn’t really matter to him. He is a thinker.

McConnell is NOT a thinker and is utterly disinterested in talking about the Laffer curve, what the data says about supply side economics, when a stimulus works or what the economists say the size should be, etc. So if Obama tries to explain to him why current Republican positions are really crank economics, McConnell is not only disinterested, he is insulted. It is a bit like trying to explain scientific evolution to a dyed-in-the-wool religious nutter creationist. It is a colossal waste of time..and comes across as arrogant and insulting. He’d much rather hear: “ok, this is what I want..and I know this is what you want. What can you live with?” without all of the attempts to change one’s philosophy.

So, you had the classical “thinker” vs. “wheeler/dealer” mismatch. And there is something else.

McConnell worked long and hard to turn his talents (and yes, he has them) into personal success…he just had a Gollum like focus on being the MAJORITY LEADER. And here comes a young freshman Senator onto the scene and just blows past him as if he was standing still. And he has to know that Obama will go down in history as one of the most loved politicians where he will be remembered by mostly political junkies and as an answer to trivia questions: “which Senator lead the most filibusters?”, etc.

That HAS to sting. 🙂

And there is this (which McConnell bellows was taken out of context)

Yes, Senator McConnell. You had a lot of victories. But you lost the World Series, and President Obama won. 🙂

December 26, 2018 Posted by | books, politics, Republican, republican party, republican senate minority leader, republicans, republicans politics | Leave a comment

Guns and Trump support..is the tide turning, just a bit?

This was a different situation as Sarah Palin had resigned from office. But it appears that support for her dropped after her infamous “blood libel” comment.

And while a few polls have Trump’s support under 40 percent, his Real Clear Politics average remains at 41 percent. There is not much to see in terms of approval rating. But is the tide starting to turn just a bit?

And yes, the latest horrific mass school shooting really has little to do with Trump though the current “debate” (war for our country’s soul?) breaks along Trump supporter lines. Take a look at the political maps here: if only gun owners voted, Trump only fails to win Vermont. If only people who are NOT gun owners voted, Clinton wins in a landslide (losing West Virginia and perhaps Wyoming).

Trump made things worse with his bravado:

“You don’t know until you test it, but I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump told a gathering of governors at the White House. “And I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too.”

Yes, he put a disclaimer ..but: run where? It was a large campus and it was all but impossible to know where the shooter was. But this sort of “Dirty Harry” fantasy plays well with Trump’s base.

And there is the whole assault weapons issue. Please spare me with “no, there is no such thing as an assault weapon” bullshit. The AR-15 and weapons like it are really military grade weapons, minus an automatic feature. They are designed to kill and wound many people, very quickly. And a “bumper stock” can make it very “machine gun” like.

And so we are talking about possibly reviving the assault weapons ban.

Now yes, MOST gun deaths and criminal gun deaths are due to ordinary handguns (another issue); mass shootings are a small percentage of all homicides. And the previous federal assault weapons ban didn’t reduce gun crimes or gun homicides, though it appeared to have a positive effect on mass shootings (4 or more deaths)

The figure from the Wiki article on the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the method of tabulation is found here.

So, if nothing else, this might calm the effect on the national psyche, though, it won’t reduce gun deaths by that much, or at least to a degree that statistics can detect.

I do not know how it will play out. But if the non-NRA forces can band together and stick together, perhaps the NRA can be taken down financially, or at least forced to reform itself to reverting to being an association for the rank and file gun owner.

Disclaimer: ok, I don’t like guns, and I am worried that some moronic Dirty Harry wannabe will end up trying to play the hero and shooting innocent people.

(yes, that fear has little to do with assault weapons)

But I once earned a “Marksman” ribbon in the military (pistol) and once shot “for pleasure” back in 1981 (target range). And no, I don’t have an issue with hunters, skeet shooters, competitive shooters, business owners who have a weapon for self defense, farmers who use a firearm as part of their livelihood, etc.

And yes, I get tired of some of what passes for debate (e. g. “ha, ha, criminals don’t obey the law”, etc.)

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, republicans political/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Giving Trump supporters some credit

I watched the climate change stuff with interest. Yes, Trump pulled us out of it. But as President Obama and others pointed out:

1. Businesses and energy firms have already made some good advances…and we won’t retreat from those and
2. Other countries can make the agreement stronger because they won’t have to water it down just for us; they will be taking the lead.

So, the planet might not be hurt as badly as our world leadership, and ironically, our businesses.

Yes, withdrawing from the agreement wasn’t really popular anywhere, but this is not something that most people feel intensely about; it is not a big emotional hot-button issue for most.

Now about those Trump supporters: some on the left seemed to think that Hillary Clinton was “just as bad” as Trump, or “worse”. Some even said that openly…”what is the difference>?”

Evidently, millions and millions of Trump supporters COULD tell the difference, and here we are. So in that sense, the Trump supporters are smarter than the super hard core Bernie bots (the ones who didn’t switch to Clinton for the general) and the Stein voters.

And so, I feel so embarrassed for our country…but am realistic enough to recognize that the buffoonery that we are displaying to the world accurately reflects large swaths of our population:

the Trump supporters who will do just about anything “because the liberals hate it” and those who put up with Trump’s incompetence because they think that they can grow even richer via deregulation and tax cuts.

June 1, 2017 Posted by | Republican, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

We see the Trump disaster…but do “they”? (hint: probably not)

Ok, Trump’s National Security adviser resigned under fire. But Trump knew for “weeks” that he had lied about the Russia calls. And this appears to be par for the course for this utterly incompetent administration.

Trump should have known this sort of thing would have been a problem BEFORE he nominated Flynn.

But don’t expect Congress to act anytime soon; remember that Trump remains popular among Republicans. And don’t expect that to change soon…if ever. For one, Trump supporters aren’t seeing the same news that you are. This is the bullshit that they are seeing:

obamasfault

And forget trying to confront Republicans on hypocrisy. Sure, Trump is playing more golf, taking more vacations and signing more executive orders than Obama ever did (in such a short period of time)..and you don’t hear much about the national debt and deficits do you? The upshot: they hated Obama (my guess: he was a well spoken, educated black guy who didn’t pretend to be all “aw shucks” and used college professor level diction.)

On the other hand Trump is what they would be were they born into money.

I think that our best hope is for corporate America to grow weary and fearful of Trump; THEY can take him down by influencing Congress to act.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

Not the Republicans I grew up with…

Well, in 2017, a new President of the United States will be sworn in, and not the one that I had expected.

I am having a hard time processing this election; in some ways, the result is one that perhaps we’ve been trending toward in a long time. Gone is the articulate, well spoken, intellectual and enter the “fly by the seat of his pants” “rough spoken” rabid so-called “populist” who lives…here?

goodjoblibtards

And that brings me to the subject of my post: this is not your old time “Republicans vs. Democrats” any longer.

When I was young, the Republicans were regarded as people who were proud of their educations and people who insisted on proper public deportment. Public humility was expected; women were to be ladies and the spoken word was to be measured.

And NOW, this is what we get:

melania-trump-nude-gq-2

(note: CPI went up in November..based on October data…interesting he is taking credit for improvement under President Obama, but never mind)

And the split in the vote was NOT along economic lines (save the poorest category); it was pretty much 50-50 at most income groups. The split was along racial lines AND educational lines.

exitpolleducation

exitpolleducationandrace

exitpollincome

(exit data via CNN)

What an interesting country this has become; Republicans are no longer the “classical music” party; they are the “Duck Dynasty/Ted Nugent” party.

newrepublicans

Note: I know that Trump also parts ways with traditional Republicanism on things like free trade, but is all on board with things like “tax cuts for the rich” (aka “supply side economics”).

January 1, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, republicans political/social | 3 Comments

Republicans: overly wedded to what they want to believe

This first thing from Bill Maher caught my eye. He was interviewing Neil Degrasse Tyson and mentioned that there was a National Review article about him. There were the usual “they don’t like you because you are a smart black guy” comments (strictly speaking, not true; Ben Carson and Professor Thomas Sowell are smart, black and are popular with conservatives). But later he gets to the real issue of what disturbs them about Dr. Tyson (about 1:10 to 2:00): fundamentally, they can’t stomach that humans aren’t “special” in a way that the rest of the universe isn’t; the idea that this universe was NOT created with US in mind (or FOR us) just disturbs the hell out of them.

This is an old clip, but this would make many a Bible Believer’s head explode:

Conservatives aren’t above just making stuff up either. The Republican supply side experiment in Kansas just blew up in their faces. So, the Republicans point to Texas and try to compare it to California…and the latter has rebounded quite nicely. That is too much for Republicans to bear, so their economists just make stuff up. This time, they got caught.

They also love to grab a headline which maybe misrepresents a program and then claim: “we KNEW what those liberals were up to!”

This is from an article about higher education in The Daily Caller. The Daily Caller references a right wing blog which references a concern from a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Here is what is going on: the Board of Regents signed off on a plan that has a goal of equalizing minority representation in the more desirable majors as well as grade distribution: one could read that as “we want minority students to do as well as anyone else.” A professor expressed a concern that professors would be under pressure to inflate the grades of minority students in these fields.

I can understand the concern that the professor has; stuff like this has happened in grade schools.

But that is only a concern; there is nothing in this plan that tells people to give any student a grade that they didn’t earn.

Think of it this way: suppose one was concerned with the physical fitness of, say, urban students. So one comes up with a plan that says, say, that male urban 9’th grade students be brought up to the same standards met by, say, male 9’th grade suburban students. Suppose the metrics used is, say, the 2 mile run and the number of pull ups that can be done in 1 minute.

The goal would be clear, right? No one would expect the urban students to get a 1 minute handicap or, say, a 2 pull up handicap. The idea would be, say to introduce physical fitness activities that are more physically demanding and the like.

Yes, I know, there have been times, at SOME schools, where professors were required to weight, say, participation to a certain percentage so as to encourage student effort. And no, I don’t approve of that type of program.

July 26, 2014 Posted by | economics, economy, education, religion, Republican, republicans, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Mooning the Supreme Court for their “town prayer” decision ….

This is for you, Supreme Court…at least for the conservative justices…

(ok, I admit that when I was taking yoga class our teacher tried to lead us in this type of stretch. I was walking into class (several minutes before it started and the teacher was facing away, practicing this…she looked between her legs, saw me and said “hi” and I think I kind of giggled..)

Still, back to the decision, which was 5-4:

In a major decision on the role of religion in government, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the Constitution allows town boards to start their sessions with sectarian prayers. The ruling, by a 5-to-4 vote, divided the court’s more conservative members from its liberal ones, and their combative opinions reflected very different views of the role of faith in public life, in contemporary society and in the founding of the Republic.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that a town in upstate New York had not violated the Constitution by starting its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month” who was almost always Christian and who sometimes used distinctly sectarian language. The prayers were ceremonial, Justice Kennedy wrote, and served to signal the solemnity of the occasion.

The ruling cleared the way for sectarian prayers before meetings of local governments around the nation with only the lightest judicial supervision.

Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court speaking at an event in Washington in 2012.Sidebar: For Justices, Free Speech Often Means ‘Speech I Agree With’MAY 5, 2014
The decision built on one from 1983 that allowed prayers at the start of legislative sessions. The two sides on Monday disagreed about whether town board meetings, which include not only lawmakers and spectators but also citizens seeking to do business with the government, are meaningfully different from legislative sessions.

The issue wasn’t that there was a type of prayer of some sort, but that the prayers at this meeting were deeply sectarian. However the town council did say that they attempted to recruit a variety of chaplains.

I am not qualified to rule on constitutionality, of course.

Interestingly, though I don’t like this decision, I am probably not as upset as those of minority faiths. To me, one form of superstitious mumbo-jumbo is not much different than another. I treat public prayers with an eyeroll. But to other “believers”, one person’s prayer might be blasphemy or evil.

Example: check out this prayer said before a rally for then candidate McCain; when they said this I had to work to keep from laughing out loud.

May 6, 2014 Posted by | big butts, religion, Republican, SCOTUS, social/political, spandex | , | Leave a comment

Republicans …..you just can’t make this stuff up

seriously.

racistasshole

If you see this as “well, it was impolite to say in public and non-pc to say but largely true”, well, you are probably a Republican.

March 10, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, Republican | Leave a comment

Whatever and hos

Workout notes I was a little sleepy but blasted myself out of bed.
Weight workout: the usual; what was different:
pull ups: 5 sets of 10; not that bad.
incline: 10 x 140, 6 x 150, 6 x 150
pull downs; on a different machine (3 sets of 10 with 150; did this with the abs)
dumbbell super set: 3 sets of 10 of: seated military (sets of 12 with 50’s), curls (30’s), bent over rows (65’s), standing rows (25’s)

This took about an hour; then I did the “gluteal 1” program for 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer. It made my legs slightly heavy.

Winter
Some regions in the southern US got snow; they have neither snowplows, salt for the roads…and the drivers don’t have experience. This is the result.

State of the Union
Paul Krugman had the best take: it was a “whatever” speech. President Obama knows that the Republicans won’t work with him. Krugman also notes that the conservatives are…what else…blaming government workers for inequality. Seriously:

Let’s start by looking at the real winners in soaring inequality — the people who not only make incredible amounts of money, but get to pay very low taxes (and if you suggest closing their loopholes, you’re just like Hitler.) According to Forbes, in 2012 the top 40 hedge fund managers and traders took home a combined $16.7 trillion billion.

Now look at those supposedly overpaid government employees. According to the BLS, the median high school teacher earns $55,050 per year.

So, those 40 hedge fund guys made as much as 300,000, that’s three hundred thousand, school teachers — almost a third of all high school teachers in America.

OK, teachers get benefits, so their total compensation cost is higher than their wage, so maybe it’s only 200,000.

But you should keep numbers like these in mind whenever anyone tries to shift attention from the one percent (and the .001 percent) to Americans who aren’t even upper-middle class.

Hos

You see, I’d be more focused if only those women would quit dressing in a way that shows their bodies. 🙂

Note: if you think about it, the main difference between the beliefs of some of the religious fundamentalists here and in the Muslim world is the flavor of the preferred superstition. If the radical Muslims would embrace trickle down economics, they’d make great conservatives!

January 29, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics/social, religion, Republican, weight training | 4 Comments

GOP governor’s debate, math and science

Workout notes
short version: weights plus elliptical: elliptical was 30 minutes, much of it on “butt” setting.
weights: did the rotator cuff series and McKenzie set afterward; hip hikes and Achilles during.
pull ups: 5 or 6 sets of 10; lost count.
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 7 x 170 (more challenging than expected)
military press (dumbbell): 3 x (12 x 50)
upright row (dumbbell): 3 x (10 x 25)
dumbbell curl: 3 x (10 x 30)
pull downs: 3 x (10 x 160)
rows (Hammer): 3 x (10 x 220)
abs: 3 sets of 10: crunch, v. crunch, sit back, twist.

Posts
It is still cold (3 F, or -16 C) , and the neighborhood streets are still mostly the type of ice that comes from cars driving over snow. The city plows do just enough to bury the sidewalks in ice but not enough to really plow the streets to pavement. Peoria, IL is a nasty city during wintertime.

But while this is one of the two really bad recent winters, it isn’t out of the ordinary by HISTORICAL standards:

Based on preliminary data, the average temperature statewide is 20.0 degrees. That is 6.3 degrees below average and ranked as the 17th coldest January on record. Of course, if the forecast holds for the rest of January, we would end up colder. Here is a list of the 20 coldest monthly average temperatures in January. The column marked “Temperature” is for the January statewide temperature and the column marked “Departure” is for the departure from the 1981-2010 average of 26.3 degrees.

Surf to the link to see the rest; note that 1994, 2009, 2010 make the list.

And yes, we are hearing “global warming is a hoax”:

cold

(hat tip: Why Evolution is True)

More science
There is a type of shrimp that has eyes with more color receptors (12) than human eyes have (3). But:

It’s tempting to think that with 12 color receptors, mantis shrimp see a rainbow humans can’t even conceive. But Marshall and his colleagues found the opposite. They trained mantis shrimp to associate certain wavelengths of light with food. As the wavelength of light defines its color, this meant that the shrimp saw certain colors as harbingers of treats.

They then showed the shrimp two colored-lights and let them choose the one that would get them treats by grabbing or tapping at it with their claws. By altering the wavelength of the lights, the researchers could figure out how good the shrimp were at telling one hue from another.

As it turned out, the shrimp could differentiate wavelengths that were about 25 nanometers apart, essentially the difference that separates orange and yellow. In comparison, humans can discriminate shades that are as little as 1 nanometer to 4 nanometers apart.

“They’re definitely not seeing the world of color in as much detail as other animals,” Marshall said of the shrimp.

So why keep the 12-receptor system? Marshall and his colleagues aren’t sure how it works yet, but they suspect the shrimps process color very quickly by setting up patterns of receptor excitation that correspond to certain colors. Imagine, for example, that every receptor is an empty bucket. If a couple of buckets on one end of the spectrum appear full, the shrimp knows it’s seeing red. On the other end of the spectrum, the buckets represent blue.

In other words, mantis shrimp might not so much process colors in the brain as recognize them in the eye, a technique that could help the animals quickly pick out colors in their brilliant reef environment.

Note: some internet memes get this wrong. Surprised?

Speaking of coloring: this blog post discusses an aspect of knot theory and, by mathematics standards, is very readable. So if you want a glimpse of what I think about from time to time, surf there.

Now on the opposite end of the intellectual scale

The Republicans had a governor candidates debate last night; it was 90 minutes and I saw about 65 minutes of it.

The line up: treasurer (Rutherford) (won his race when Gov. Quinn got reelected), political novice BUT A BUSINESSMAN (Rauner) (and the leader in the polls ..), the state senator that Gov. Quinn beat last time (Brady, a creationist) and another double chinned state lawmaker (Dillard).

From my point of view, this was the quote of the day:

In one of the few barbs during the debate, Rutherford pledged he wouldn’t have need “training wheels” to start running the state — a veiled shot at Rauner, who has never run for political office.

“I’m a reasonable Republican. I’m not a Republican with a horn and a tail,” Rutherford said.

But Rauner didn’t back down, proudly portraying himself as a government outsider.

“I’m the only one who hasn’t been in Springfield for decades,” he said.

Since Rutherford stressed his reasonableness and openly said that diversity (racial, religious and cultural) is a good thing, and stressed that knowing what one is doing is a good thing, he has no chance in the GOP primary.

Most of the debate: “Chicago sucks, marijuana is bad, we need more educational funding but lower taxes”, etc.

Before too long, this race might devolve into “which candidate will execute more witches”.

If that remark seems too snarky, you might be underestimating how dumb the Republicans in Illinois are.

Susanne Atanus, one of two Republicans taking aim at U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s seat representing Illinois’ 9th congressional district covering Chicago’s Far North Side and the North Shore suburbs, spoke out about the incumbent’s liberal reputation during an interview with the Daily Herald this week.

“I am not in favor of abortions, I am not in favor of gay rights,” Atanus, who has staged two previous unsuccessful runs for Congress, said during a videotaped portion of the interview, before going into more detail with the paper.

“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she added, blaming natural disasters like tornadoes and diseases including autism and dementia on recent advances in the LGBT movement. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”

David Earl Williams III, Atanus’ primary opponent, can be seen smirking through much of Atanus’ statements in the Herald video and said he was offended by her comments, though he also does not support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Yes, these remarks have drawn rebukes from some Republican leaders, but they are not that far off what many of the GOP primary voters believe.

January 24, 2014 Posted by | biology, Illinois, mathematics, Republican, republican party, republicans, science, weight training | , , | Leave a comment