Resentment of Syrian refugees and Trump: not mere bigotry

I have to admit that I find Donald Trump’s candidacy fascinating. Now before you start saying that I am some sort of closet KKK member and genuine Trump supporter: I support President Obama’s plan for settling a select number of well vetted Syrian refugees and I think that Mr. Trump would be a disaster as president; in fact I support Hillary Clinton.

I also believe that “terrorists from abroad” are far more likely to get into the US illegally or come by, say, a worker permit program. I don’t see a terrorist being patient enough to go through the entire, multi-layered refugee process.

So, what is my post about?

I’ll comment on two things.

1. I can understand where the opposition to these refugees is coming from. And it is my guess that much of it is NOT fear but simple resentment.

Why the resentment? Some of it might be “anything that isn’t Americana isn’t American” attitude. But some of it might be something like this:

remember the news where you say Muslims in the Middle East (and yes, in Syria) chanting “death to America” and other anti-American slogans? Remember the phrase “Great Satan”? Remember the riots in Europe over Danish cartoons? Well, if “they” hate us so much, why in the hell do they now want to come here?

Now, you might cry “foul” and mention that “The Great Satan” came from Shia dominated Iran (Persians, not Arabs) and that I am conflating a bunch of, well, at best, loosely related things. And of course I am. But let’s face it, who has the time to dig in on every single issue? And remember: the Republicans hammer President Obama and Secretary Clinton every time they try to speak with nuance instead of just saying “Islamic fascism” or some other simplistic, “one size fits all even if it doesn’t” phrase. The various terrorists groups belong to different religious factions and have very different, often competing political goals.

2. I can understand a rebellion against “the establishment” and suffocating “political correctness”. Sure, Donald Trump says many outrageous things. But isn’t it fun to see people chasing after Trump with a list of taboos he has broken and for him just to blow them off? Oh sure, there is a method to his madness. And you have a large group of people who have been conditioned to view serious media pronouncements with extreme suspicion.

The Kasich campaign is trying to hit back ..

But the fact is that the Univision reporter was being a jerk and “activists” don’t have the right to disrupt rallies and hold others as a captive audience to their message (though the other people shouldn’t have assaulted him; that was illegal).

Now if you want to talk about the “register Muslims”… would have a point with that one.

But there is the whole point: Trump attacks people that many don’t like and that makes him popular with a certain class and that isn’t surprising.

Oh sure…what is going on is mostly this:


But I CAN understand at least some of the resentment.

November 26, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans | , , | 1 Comment

Games, free speech, terrorism, etc.

Workout notes: 10 K “run” on the track: 9:59, 9:44, 9:33, 9:32, 9:27. 9:44 then 3:10 walk/jog inner lane 2 laps (58:03 at 6, 1:01:13 for 10K). It was mostly an empty track.
Gads. Though this was not a race effort by any means, IT WAS WORK. Sigh…

Posts: It is the start of Thanksgiving break and so I played hooky and went to a daytime game (no classes). The Bradley women got creamed 72-59 by Western Michigan; WMU lead by 16 before freely substituting.

But hey, it was a game to watch. :-)

Statistics Yes, I know the technical definition of p-value and what “it means”. But attempts to “make it intelligible” to non-experts often fail:

What I learned by asking all these very smart people to explain p-values is that I was on a fool’s errand. Try to distill the p-value down to an intuitive concept and it loses all its nuances and complexity, said science journalist Regina Nuzzo, a statistics professor at Gallaudet University. “Then people get it wrong, and this is why statisticians are upset and scientists are confused.” You can get it right, or you can make it intuitive, but it’s all but impossible to do both.

No fly zones: Turkey shot down a Russian fighter. Ugh. Last I heard, Turkey claimed that the fighter was over Russian airspace and Russia denies that.

Free speech A survey came out about whether it is a good thing to censor speech that “is offensive to minorities”. Not surprisingly, Democrats were more approving of censorship than Republicans (though NOT the majority of Democrats) and the youngest generation (millennials) were strongest in favor of censorship. The good news is that the more educated the person, the less likely that they would approve of censorship. That is good news, given some of the nonsense one hears coming from college campuses these-a-days.

Republicans and Donald Trump

Sure it is still early and most people haven’t started to pay attention to the election. Nevertheless, Donald Trump really is doing well and it should not be that surprising:

Indeed. You have a party whose domestic policy agenda consists of shouting “death panels!”, whose foreign policy agenda consists of shouting “Benghazi!”, and which now expects its base to realize that Trump isn’t serious. Or to put it a bit differently, the definition of a GOP establishment candidate these days is someone who is in on the con, and knows that his colleagues have been talking nonsense. Primary voters are expected to respect that?

And it isn’t a surprise that the terror attacks in Paris helped him:

Conventional wisdom on the politics of terror seems to be faring just as badly as conventional wisdom on the politics of everything. Donald Trump went up, not down, in the polls after Paris — Republican voters somehow didn’t decide to rally around “serious” candidates. And as Greg Sargent notes, polls suggest that the public trusts Hillary Clinton as much if not more than Republicans to fight terror.

May I suggest that these are related?

After all, where did the notion that Republicans are effective on terror come from? Mainly from a rally-around-the-flag effect after 9/11. But if you think about it, Bush became America’s champion against terror because, um, the nation suffered from a big terrorist attack on his watch. It never made much sense.

What Bush did do was talk tough, boasting that he would get Osama bin Laden dead or alive. But, you know, he didn’t. And guess who did?

So people who trust Republicans on terror — which presumably includes the GOP base — are going to be the kind of people who value big talk and bluster over actual evidence of effectiveness. Why on earth would you expect such people to turn against Trump after an attack?

Hey, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh created Donald Trump’s candidacy.

November 24, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, republicans, republicans politics, running, statistics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria, blasphemy laws and talking to others

The situation in Syria is horribly complicated. This is an attempt at a summary:

Now the refugees that enter our country will have some adjusting to do. We have unusually strong “free speech” laws here; “blasphemy” is perfectly legal here:

And customs vary from place to place, which can lead to major misunderstandings.

Our politicians aren’t helping the matter; right now it is “pander season”.

And talking to those who are on the “opposite side” of the liberal/conservative divide can be difficult. What is hard: if a conservative asks me about something, I can explain WHY I think the way that I do. But my explanation will not be very convincing as I am putting these things into MY values, which my conservative friend does not share.

So, if my goal is to persuade (even if just a bit), I need to take into account what my friend values, and put my ideas in those terms.

Example: on the refugee stuff, I would acknowledge that the other Gulf States aren’t doing their part, but also acknowledge American tradition, and point out that the last thing in the world that ISIS wants is for others to find out how much better it is to live under freedom instead of under an oppressive theocracy. I’d play to “American exceptionalism”, “liberty”, “exporting American values” and “winning the war on terror”.

And yes, the refugees have to assimilate to the ideas of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, if they haven’t already done so (some probably have).

November 18, 2015 Posted by | politics/social, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

November 10 Republican Debate: Republicans are a different species?

I watched last night’s “varsity” debate. A decent Summary is here. This is another excellent summary which highlights some differences between the candidates.

Some thoughts:

1. It is as if Republicans have never heard of basic macroeconomics.
2. All of their tax plans have a disproportional benefit to the wealthiest among us.


3. Only Carson mentioned Sanders. All of the rest attacked Hillary Clinton again and again, with Fiorina going after her the hardest.

4. Many of the Republicans don’t understand progressive taxation: 10 percent for someone making 30,000 a year is vastly more important to that individual than 10 percent of someone making 300,000 per year.

5. Some of the candidates actually gave praise to some of what President Obama is doing (Kasich, Carson, Bush)

6.Fiorina and Cruz have mastered either “lying while sounding sincere” or speaking forcefully on matters that they know nothing about. Fiorina got wild praise for saying she’d do stuff that we are already doing (Middle East) and Cruz repeated the “Congress is exempt from Obamacare” lie.

7. There was a huge fault line between Rubio and Paul on defense spending.

8, There is also a division between the “adult immigration” plan and the “send ’em all back” types.

9. Kasich and Bush actually spoke elegantly about banks (having the assets to cover investment risks) that just confused the heck out of the Fox Business News talking (pin)heads.

10. A list of the “new” Republican ideas: mining coal, gold standard, deregulation of business, no minimum wage. Hmmm, it seems as if we tried that. Is the “Gilded Age” a Republican utopia?

11. Republicans are at least mentioning income inequality. But their prescription: LESS regulation! Seriously. They act as if large businesses doing well at the expense of small ones is the result of large governments. I can’t believe it was a Republican (Teddy Roosevelt) that broke up the monopolies.

12. Rand Paul needs to understand correlation vs. causation (that large cities have lots of rich people) and Rubio needs to learn that it is “fewer philosophers”, not “less philosophers”. Philosophers got attacked; not that this is a bad thing.

13. Some hate the TPP; Kasich actually supported it. Paul reminded Trump that China was not a part of this.

14. Trump spoke favorably about PUtin intervening in Syria. Rubio called him a “gangster”. Paul cautioned about “no fly zones” stepping on Russia: do we really want more war?

Of course, given that many of the questions (not all) were larded with GOP-friendly hypothesis, I’d imagine that the Republicans liked this debate. But seriously: it is almost as if Republicans have come from a different planet than I do. Every time I get sick of stupid liberals (there are some, and they are noisy) I think that I might join the Republicans, and then I see this. Oh boy. There is nothing for me here.

November 11, 2015 Posted by | politics, republicans | , | Leave a comment

Megyn Kelly mocking Republican debate demands…

OMG, this is hilarious.

Note: Donald Trump is going to Springfield, IL next Monday. I might have to take a road trip!

November 3, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

GOP Debate: repackaging deregulation as populism

Ok, the CSNBC moderators called the Republicans out on their crackpot ideas (Rubio’s tax plan, Cruz’s tax plan, Trump’s statements on Zuckerberg) and the Republicans took umbrage.

As far as “substance”, if you can call it that, there was the obligatory dog whistle about cops and the Black Lives Matter movement. Paul brought up the crackpot “audit the Fed” and “gold standard” nonsense; Cruz backed the “audit the Fed” nonsense.

But for me, the most interesting thing was the way that “small government which doesn’t regulate business” was packaged.

In the past, it was that evil government regulation that kept big business from offering us all of those good jobs.

Now: well, businesses and banks have to get big because of big government. And if we only deregulated, well, now the little guy would be able to compete! Watch Fiorina make this argument.

Oh, it is the same package all right, but it is now being marketed as populism.

As far as who did well and who didn’t:

Professional politicians: Rubio, Cruz and Huckabee had good nights.
Outsiders: Trump and Carson held serve. Fiorina: hard to tell. She actually sounded better than the other two, but is she too far down? She went after Hillary Clinton the most aggressively.

Some think that Christie did well. I am not sure.

Personally, I’d pull the plug on Bush, Paul and Kasich …and ok, on Chrstie too.

New Republic has a reasonable summary.

October 29, 2015 Posted by | politics, republicans | , | Leave a comment

Democratic Debate Tonight…

Frankly, I am just not that interested. I’ll force myself to watch, but there will be only one viable candidate there. Sen. Sanders has attracted a moonbeam following and as far as the others: why? Personally, I find the Republican debates to be much more fun and interesting.


Compared to the Obama vs. Clinton clashes of the 2007-2008 cycle, this will be a varsity vs. the JV scrimmage.

True, afterward the Berniebots and Sandfleas will be gushing about his performance but anyone can file bills that will go nowhere and deliver stuff that people want to hear.

Here is the one question that I would be interested in hearing the answer to: “How will you work with a hostile, dysfunctional Congress?”

Yes, President Obama was naive; he thought that his running with Republican ideas would get Republican support. But a huge part of the GOP has no interest in governing, at all, unless THEY are in power. Republicans who compromise are seen as being weak by their base and their donors.

October 13, 2015 Posted by | hillary clinton, political/social, republicans | | Leave a comment

Awaking my “inner Republican”: quite reactionary

I saw this article about a St. Paul “Black Lives Matter” group which is planning to disrupt the Twin Cities Marathon.

Now of course, I have no idea of what will happen but I can tell you, my initial reaction is the same as it usually is when other “activists” plan to impose their “agenda” on me. It is very “reactionary”; I thought “hey, voting Republican doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea”.

But, in my opinion, that is how modern Republicanism survives….they thrive on people being reactionary.

After all, modern Republicans are basically for “tax cuts for the rich”, full stop. Yes, that is even Donald Trump. All of the rest of what they espouse is merely a ploy for you to go along with “tax cuts for the rich”.

So, no I am not voting Republican because some obnoxious “activists” are morons.

But back to what the “activists” are planning (or say that they are planning): that is an interesting dynamic, isn’t it? My guess: if this sort of thing would become more widespread, people would merely move things away from the urban areas; heck that is pretty much the case anyhow.

Note: I live in the city where I could walk to work, and my main “complaint” (not related to our city’s incompetent snow removal) is sometimes (ok, rarely) loud college students who leave a random beer cup or can in the neighborhood. It is nowhere near bad enough to chase me out.

September 30, 2015 Posted by | republicans, social/political | Leave a comment

John Boehner…resigning and I don’t like it

Yes, John Boehner is resigning. Needless to say I didn’t agree with him on many things.

But I saw him as someone that was interested in governing. I am not sure that many of the other Republicans are.

September 25, 2015 Posted by | politics, republicans | | Leave a comment

Debate remarks: Fox News moderator, Trumps “middle finger”, Political Correctness, etc.

Debate wrap up:

Fireworks: Trump vs. Kelly

Christie vs. Paul

I disagree with this New York Times assessment. Bush did well by not screwing up and Trump did well by giving the “middle finger” to the “establishment” and to “political correctness”. Trump actually showed some political savvy. It was up to the other candidates to shine.

Kasich: maybe came across as “sensible” but this debate was really more for the GOP base. Cruz did nothing to distinguish himself. Carson was terrible, and Huckabee appeared to be interviewing for “first minister” I’d say that Rubio and Fiorina (first debate) helped themselves the most whereas Bush and Trump (and perhaps Walker) “held serve”.

Here is what struck me as odd: in previous elections, the debate seemed to be about the “establishment candidate” with some “fringe candidate” attempting to break out. Here, this debate was more centered on the fringe candidate (Trump) vs. “which one will be the not-Trump”; the fringe appears to be in control.

And notice that no one on stage paid any attention to Bernie Sanders at all, save one remark by Jindal in the JV session.

The Fox News moderators did frame the debate via current Republican orthodoxy. There wasn’t quite as much “Reagan worship” as there had been in past GOP debates (time marches on?), Benghazi wasn’t repeatedly brought up and the “repeal Obamacare” stuff appeared to be half-hearted.

I’ll talk about Trump’s attack on “political correctness” at a later time; I do think that is an issue.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | politics, republicans, republicans political/social | , | 1 Comment


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