blueollie

Social and economic divisions in the US

I know that is would be a politically unwise move. But there are some who want to celebrate the Union’s victory over the Treasonous States (aka Confederate States)(by Brian Beutler) :

In a speech one month ago, the first black president of the United States challenged millions of white Americans to resist the convenient allure of overlooking the country’s blemished moral record. It was a dual challenge, actually—first to the classical understanding of American exceptionalism, but also to America’s persistent critics, who abjure the concept of exceptionalism altogether.

“What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this?” President Barack Obama said. “What greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?”

This was both a rejection of the fairytale America perpetuated by American conservatives, in which national virtue overwhelms sin, and a statement of faith in the country’s robust capacity for self-improvement. And he delivered it in Selma, Alabama—a Southern city whose folksy name evokes state-sanctioned, state-administered violence against black citizens—on the fiftieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Selma would be a perverse venue for celebrating the Jingo’s exceptional America, but it was the perfect backdrop for Obama’s more nuanced rendering: the convening point of the march to Montgomery, on a bridge named after Edmund Pettus—a vicious white supremacist, who committed treason against the United States as a Confederate general, and later terrorized former slaves as an Alabama Klansman and Democratic Senator.

And so

This week provides an occasion for the U.S. government to get real about history, as April 9 is the 150th anniversary of the Union’s victory in the Civil War. The generous terms of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House foreshadowed a multitude of real and symbolic compromises that the winners of the war would make with secessionists, slavery supporters, and each other to piece the country back together.

Of course this would infuriate the South, but at this point I really don’t care. They still go on about “The War of Northern Aggression” so perhaps they need to be reminded as to who won?

To be blunt: I wish that we hadn’t have fought that war…we would be a stronger nation today had we just let them go.

But this idea isn’t going anywhere.

Punishing the slackers I think that there is a time and place for “tough love” and to challenge people to do better. And yes, if one is on public aid, should one be spending money on stuff that harms one’s life (e. g. cigarettes)?
But when it comes to public aid programs, it is unwise to lard programs with extensive restrictions which can be costly, ineffective and demoralizing. The drug testing program was one of these; what passed in the Kansas legislature is another. No, I don’t think that strip clubs and porn stores are an appropriate use of taxpayer money. But pools? Isn’t swimming healthy and uplifting?

Never mind that: why lard up a program with expensive, difficult to enforce restrictions that attack a problem which hasn’t been shown to be statistically large?

Conservatives see things differently. Forget “libertarians”; they are tiny in number and not significant, as Paul Krugman points out:

Well, the best story I have is Corey Robin’s: It’s fundamentally about challenging or sustaining traditional hierarchy. The actual lineup of positions on social and economic issues doesn’t make sense if you assume that conservatives are, as they claim, defenders of personal liberty on all fronts. But it makes perfect sense if you suppose that conservatism is instead about preserving traditional forms of authority: employers over workers, patriarchs over families. A strong social safety net undermines the first, because it empowers workers to demand more or quit; permissive social policy undermines the second in obvious ways.

And I suppose that you have to say that modern liberalism is in some sense the obverse — it is about creating a society that is more fluid as well as fairer. We all like to laugh at the war-on-Christmas types, right-wing blowhards who fulminate about the liberal plot to destroy family values. We like to point out that a country like France, with maternity leave, aid to new mothers, and more, is a lot more family-friendly than rat-race America. But if “family values” actually means traditional structures of authority, then there’s a grain of truth in the accusation. Both social insurance and civil rights are solvents that dissolve some of the restraints that hold people in place, be they unhappy workers or unhappy spouses. And that’s part of why people like me support them.

In any case, bear this in mind whenever you read some pontificating about a libertarian moment, or whatever. There are almost no genuine libertarians in America — and the people who like to use that name for themselves do not, in reality, love liberty.

Krugman has a bit more snark, especially for those who call his macroeconomic ideas “radical”:

The message instead is for those people — you know who you are — who imagine that the macroeconomics in this blog and in my column is somehow way out there on the left. In reality, I’m almost depressingly mainstream. It’s the other side in these debates that is showing lots of creativity, coming up with novel and innovative arguments about why we should do stupid things.

And as far as facts: well, conservatives desperately try to discredit any bit of good news:

Two impossible things happened to the U.S. economy over the course of the past year — or at least they were supposed to be impossible, according to the ideology that dominates half our political spectrum. First, remember how Obamacare was supposed to be a gigantic job killer? Well, in the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s full implementation, the U.S. economy as a whole added 3.3 million jobs — the biggest gain since the 1990s. Second, half a million of those jobs were added in California, which has taken the lead in job creation away from Texas.

Were President Obama’s policies the cause of national job growth? Did Jerry Brown — the tax-raising, Obamacare-embracing governor of California — engineer his state’s boom? No, and few liberals would claim otherwise. What we’ve been seeing at both the national and the state level is mainly a natural process of recovery as the economy finally starts to heal from the housing and debt bubbles of the Bush years.

But recent job growth, nonetheless, has big political implications — implications so disturbing to many on the right that they are in frantic denial, claiming that the recovery is somehow bogus. Why can’t they handle the good news? The answer actually comes on three levels: Obama Derangement Syndrome, or O.D.S.; Reaganolatry; and the confidence con.

[…]

Which brings us to the last point: the confidence con.

One enduring puzzle of political economy is why business interests so often oppose policies to fight unemployment. After all, boosting the economy with expansionary monetary and fiscal policy is good for profits as well as wages, yet many wealthy individuals and business leaders demand tight money and austerity instead.

As a number of observers have pointed out, however, for big businesses to admit that government policies can create jobs would be to devalue one of their favorite political arguments — the claim that to achieve prosperity politicians must preserve business confidence, among other things, by refraining from any criticism of what businesspeople do.

In the case of the Obama economy, this kind of thinking led to what I like to call the “Ma! He’s looking at me funny!” theory of sluggish recovery. By this I mean the insistence that recovery wasn’t being held back by objective factors like spending cuts and debt overhang, but rather by the corporate elite’s hurt feelings after Mr. Obama suggested that some bankers behaved badly and some executives might be overpaid. Who knew that moguls and tycoons were such sensitive souls? In any case, however, that theory is unsustainable in the face of a recovery that has finally started to deliver big job gains, even if it should have happened sooner.

I think it is best to view conservatives who hold beliefs similar to the theological beliefs held by religiously conservative people; trying to convince one with data is like trying to convince a Biblical literalist that it is logically impossible for the Bible to be literally true.

So what is an example of a liberal vision? Here is an example. Yes, no conservative would ever agree with it.

Economics and politics So how does the economy affect an upcoming election? There is evidence that what helps the incumbent isn’t overall performance but rather the change in the few months preceding the election.

April 8, 2015 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, republicans, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Japanese fighter pilots, Buffett’s mobile homes, desired failure and welfare steaks…

Workout notes
Weight in the morning: 185 (after breakfast).
Now I went to the Riverplex and ran to Wodruff (via the goose loop), 1 mile 7:51 (3:57 for 809, 3:54 for second 800), 3/4 mile walk, 9:22 mile in lane 2. (about a 9:14 mile), then 2.2 miles back for 7 miles total.
Very humbling; though the mile wasn’t all out, it was hard and I put forth quite a bit of effort.

Then to the weight room:
pull ups (5 sets of 10, rotator cuff)
military presses (10 x 85 standing, 8 x 85, 10 x 180 seated, machine).
incline presses: 2 x 135, 10 x 115 (different angle)

This was about 30 minutes worth.

That was humbling. Was it only 15 years ago that I ran a half marathon at 7:17 per mile? Now ONE sub 8 minute mile is difficult. I want to scream “what am I doing wrong?
The idea that I am merely slowing the rate of decline instead of improving is still tough to adjust to.

Posts

Well, Warren Buffett is one of those “favorite billionaires”. But he is still a billionaire and how does one become one? Of course, I don’t know how involved he is with the details of this operation and I don’t have a balanced view. And, well, no easy way to say it…I am not exactly a fan of those hurt by these policies. But people don’t deserve to be mistreated and cheated (even if legally cheated), even if I might not like them.

SNAP Yes, I approve of this program, knowing that here and there, a slacker might be taking advantage. So on this debate:

n 2013, Fox News proudly broadcast an interview with a young food stamp recipient who claimed to be using the government benefit to purchase lobster and sushi.

“This is the way I want to live and I don’t really see anything changing,” Jason Greenslate explained to Fox. “It’s free food; it’s awesome.”

That story fit a longtime conservative suspicion that poor people use food stamps to purchase luxury items. Now, a Republican state lawmaker in Missouri is pushing for legislation that would stop people like Greenslate and severely limit what food stamp recipients can buy. The bill being proposed would ban the purchase with food stamps of “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steak.”

“The intention of the bill is to get the food stamp program back to its original intent, which is nutrition assistance,” said Rick Brattin, the representative who is sponsoring the proposed legislation. […}

On one hand, yes, SNAP is to help people out with the basics and, no I don’t want to see it used for luxury items. But, on the other hand: how often does that happen? Do you see poor people buying caviar?
Seriously, saying “I was this a couple of times” doesn’t justify changing the law; I’d like to see some data as to how often it is abused prior to seeing the time and effort being put toward a change in the law.

More Republicans: evidently, some are actually upset that Ben Bernanke took steps to prevent a failure that they predicted:

Ah: I see that there was a Twitter exchange among Brad DeLong, James Pethokoukis, and others over why Republicans don’t acknowledge that Ben Bernanke helped the economy, and claim credit. Pethokoukis — who presumably gets to talk to quite a few Republicans from his perch at AEI — offers a fairly amazing explanation:

B/c many view BB as enabling Obama’s spending and artificially propping up debt-heavy economy in need of Mellon-esque liquidation

Yep: that dastardly Bernanke was preventing us from having a financial crisis, curse him.

Actually, there’s a lot of evidence that this was an important part of the story. As I pointed out a couple of months ago, Paul Ryan and John Taylor went all-out conspiracy theory on the Bernanke Fed, claiming that its efforts were not about trying to fulfill its mandate, but rather that

This looks an awful lot like an attempt to bail out fiscal policy, and such attempts call the Fed’s independence into question.

Basically, leading Republicans didn’t just expect a disaster, they wanted one — and they were furious at Bernanke for, as they saw it, heading off the crisis they hoped to see. It’s a pretty awesome position to take. But it makes a lot of sense when you consider where these people were coming from.

Krugman goes on to say that this doesn’t exactly instill confidence that the Republicans will do what is best for the country, with regards to the proposed Iran deal.

War
A former Japanese fighter pilot recalls the hell of war and explains why he never wants to see it again:

“Nothing is as terrifying as war,” he began, before spending the next 90 minutes recounting his role in battles, from Japan’s early triumph at Pearl Harbor to its disastrous reversals at Midway and Guadalcanal. “I want to tell you my experiences in war so that younger generations don’t have to go through the same horrors that I did.”

[…]

In an interview after his speech, Mr. Harada described himself as “the last Zero fighter,” or at least the last pilot still alive who flew during that aircraft’s glory days early in the war with the United States. He recounted how in dogfights, he flew close enough to his opponents to see the terror on their faces as he sent them crashing to their deaths.

“I fought the war from the cockpit of a Zero, and can still remember the faces of those I killed,” said Mr. Harada, who said he was able to meet and befriend some of his foes who survived the war. “They were fathers and sons, too. I didn’t hate them or even know them.”

“That is how war robs you of your humanity,” he added, “by putting you in a situation where you must either kill perfect strangers or be killed by them.”

This is a very powerful article about someone who has been there.

Science Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg lists his “best 13 science books” for the layperson; I have read one of these and much (most?) of two others.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, running, social/political, time trial/ race, weight training | , , , , | Leave a comment

Short videos that I never get tired of watching

Basketball: Larry Bird Scores 60

Football

Social issues

Bus Fights

Animals


Movies

Humor:
Monty Python:

Larry David

Honest Best Man Speech

Easter Egg Hunt

Career Builder ads

Cartoons
Foghorn Leghorn gets his wave function collapsed

Other (possibly NSFW; some sexual humor)

Friends try on tights (gluteal nudity).

April 4, 2015 Posted by | basketball, butt, evolution, football, morons, movies, religion, republicans, science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hills, Huckabee, Cruz and Cranks…

Workout notes: right around freezing, overcast and breezy.
1.4 mile warm up
lower loop in 10:16 (8:20 pace)
4 x lower to upper Bradley park hill, with walk/jog recoveries
10 minute jog
38 minute walk home (from the rear Park Road entrance past the dog park and Parkside)

Slight tug in the upper left hamstring early. I focused on quick steps and knee lift. Some Bradley men’s track team runners were there and did some hill reps; they blew me away (half the time), which is completely expected. Still, it is humbling to be shown, in stark terms, exactly how slow you are.

Nevertheless, I had a tempo run, hills and a walk so it was a good workout. I got some lung burn going, which is what I need.

Topics
Mike Huckabee: recounts PART of the story from I Kings, Chapter 18. This is where Elijah calls down fire from heaven to accept his sacrifice to “prove” that his god was the real god. Pity he didn’t produce a unified theory instead. :-)

Here is the part of the story that Gov. Huckabee leaves out:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

This murder of people who follow a different religion kind of reminds one of…ISIS?

How any modern person can take this stuff seriously continues to baffle me.

Speaking of Charlatans: Ted Cruz is an official candidate for the 2016 GOP nomination. No, he won’t win. But in 2012, he carried Texas 56.5-40, whereas Elizabeth Warren carried Massachusetts 53.7 to 46.2. President Obama won Massachusetts 60.6 to 37.5. That is why I don’t take Senator Warren’s presidential chances seriously.

Now Texas is a southern state, and southern states have enjoyed a population influx. Some say it is the Republican policies but others point out…it may be …the weather….now that we have air conditioning to make summers tolerable. Seriously, if I could find a job with comparable salary and benefits down south, I’d move. I am tired of northern winters.

Other languages: Randazza goes after those who were outraged at the Pledge of Allegiance being said in Arabic. What many don’t know is Allah is merely the word for “God” in that language; it is the same deity that Jews and Christians worship. Personally, I skip that part anyway and say the pre-1950’s version:

Now this is NOT the original, no matter what the caption says. But it is the pre-Red Scare version:

The original is this:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

It was changed to the video version in 1923 and then to the current version in 1954.

March 24, 2015 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, republicans politics, running | , , , | Leave a comment

Ideal Republican ticket in 2016: Schock-Palin or Palin-Schock!

Hey, why the heck not? Given that the Republicans have lost 4 of the previous 6 general elections and lost the popular vote in 5 of the previous 6, well….new, fresh and energetic! Mr. Schock will be above the minimum age for President by the time the election rolls around!

Just trying to help…

March 19, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans | | Leave a comment

On getting in discussions with conservatives

There is a Bradley Basketball fan board that is run by two very conservative people. But, so far, they have been reasonable and civil to me and I appreciate that.

The genesis of this post comes from this:

The University of Oregon Senate has proposed a 3 % “tax” on the Athletic Department (A.D.) to help fund general University expenses. ESPN’s Ted Miller likens reluctance to go along with this idea to a 12-year-old child actor getting $10 million and not wanting to share it with his parents while living under the same roof.

It is true that the A. D. falls under the overall University structure and certainly benefits from the relationship. Beyond that, Ted’s analogy breaks down in a hurry.

I disagree with the last sentence; one has to take into account how long the athletic department has been profitable and the fact that, at least as of 2013, they still get subsidies, though perhaps they might give it back.

But this specific situation, which I know little about, isn’t the point here.

The point is how one can discuss something with someone whose world view, at least in part, fundamentally differs with your own.

What I have to remember is this: there is nothing I can do to make a conservative into a liberal, and they aren’t going to change me into a conservative. I think that there is strong evidence that one’s view (liberal or conservative) is determined, at least in part, by genetics.

So perhaps the best thing to do is to point out facts and data and explain why one might reach a different conclusion.

And yes, when it to comes to some issues, I do have something in common with many conservatives and I can admit when conservatives are at least partially right on some incidents.

But conservatives sometimes surprise me too. One of my favorite conservatives (a smart, wildly successful individual) is: an atheist, pro gay rights and believes that cutting spending during a recession can stall economic recovery (“it is just basic macro”, she said). Seriously; we actually AGREE on quite a bit though we voted differently in the 2008 and 2012 election.

And I also find myself in agreement with one of my other conservative friends (also smart, and also very successful, and always beats me at sports), and I learn from my discussions with him.

March 17, 2015 Posted by | Friends, republicans | | Leave a comment

Obesity and Conservatism ….

fatrepublicans

Interesting. Yes, blacks and Hispanics tend to be fatter than whites and the former two groups are more likely to vote Democrat than whites.

But Republican voting states are still fatter than Democrat voting states, and the effect remains (save an exception like Utah) after one just looks at the non-Hispanic white population.

Moral: don’t vote Republican; it is bad for your health. :-)

Seriously, I have no idea what that means; I’d like to see some correlation with things like smoking and alcohol consumption. It could be that Democrats have other ways to be unhealthy; I don’t know.

March 9, 2015 Posted by | obesity, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

Train wrecks are hard to look away from….

Iowa GOP hopeful summit:

What can I say?

Speaking of train wrecks, here was my workout for the day:

lifting:
pull ups (5 sets of 10; better than last time) (hip hikes, Achilles exercises)
bench: 10 x 135, 1 x 185, 7 x 170, 5 x 170 (rotator cuff)
military: 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell, standing. (rotator cuff)
super set: 3 sets of 10 of pull downs and rows (pull downs: 10 x 150, rows: 10 x 90) done with the other machines.

running:
2 miles on the treadmill in 21:05 (every 4 minutes, increase 0.1 mph, starting at 5.5)
track: Deek 5K in 28:27 (3 miles in 27:27); middle lane, 8:43, 9:17, 9:26. slow death. 1 lap walk.
treadmill: 1 mile in 10:30
Total: 10K (actually, 6.25 miles)

Note: I saw one of the university XC women doing her steady state run (1 hour?) 9.2 mph was her “steady state pace”. We both run for an hour; she get 15K, I get 10K. That was humbling to say the least.

January 27, 2015 Posted by | republicans, republicans politics, running, sarah palin, weight training | | Leave a comment

shovel day: light stuff…good plows

Well, the Peoria plows came by and didn’t bury our sidewalks. Yeah!

It helps that it is cold and that the stuff is very powdery.

Workout notes Weights then a 5 mile treadmill run.
Run: 5.5 mph for first 5 min (at 0.5 elevation) then increased by .1 every 5 minutes.
50:20 for 5 miles.

Weights: pull ups: 5 sets of 10, with hip hikes and Achilles
bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 180, 1 x 180, 8 x 160 (rotator cuff)
military (dumbbell: 2 sets of 12 x 50 seated, supported). 1 set of 10 x 90 (each arm) Hammer machine (weight stacks)
rows: 3 sets of 10 with 110 (machine)
pull downs: 2 sets of 7 x 160 traditional, 7 x 100 low. Then 10 x 130 machine.
(super set the military presses, pull downs, rows).

News:

John Boehner survived the challenge to his being speaker:

The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to once again make John Boehner its speaker, handing the Ohio Republican the gavel for the third time despite a late challenge by dissatisfied members of his own party. Tuesday’s vote saw the most votes against a sitting speaker since 1923.

In the final tally, Boehner received the votes of 216 House members, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) got 164 votes. More than two dozen discontented Republicans, however, voted for other candidates, including 12 who unexpectedly backed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.).

Boehner’s GOP caucus had unanimously chosen him as speaker just after November’s elections. However, he soon faced a rebellion from conservative members who were angry that Boehner pushed through a government spending bill in December that didn’t extract concessions from President Barack Obama on immigration or the Affordable Care Act.

I admit that this looks awkward:

boehnersmooch

Luck and fate
Cancer: it really appears that, aside from a few things that one can do (STOP SMOKING), getting cancer is mostly a matter of bad luck. Basically, a cell mutates and in the copy process, there is a mistake made in the reproduction.

And yes, at times I complain about the cold, the job, the clueless administrators. But it could be worse; read this which is written by a former academic who is still employed. Note the following:

Now, I’m in the wrong job. It crushes my soul one 8 to 5 day at a time. I regret every day I wake up and haven’t died in my sleep, and then I have to go on to work.

It will be two years this spring since I’ve read any book or article related to my research project. If I tell people about the project, everyone is so excited and supportive about it, but the truth is, I work 40 hours a week and have a hellish 60-mile commute each day. When I get home, I want to watch TV, play video games, and not do a damn thing related to thinking.

No one prepares you for what happens when you fail. I spent more than a decade never going to work, but rather going to teach, which was my heart’s passion.

I never thought I’d fail.

I never thought it would be me.

I do relate to this somewhat. It appears that our work piles on administrative duties, much of which is wasted time. So just when you think “Ah-HAH…time to work on this new idea” someone from some other department will want this or that or want you to do something or another. One has to learn to say “no” and to not volunteer for superficial stuff.

There just isn’t mental energy left over after the day is done.

January 6, 2015 Posted by | Peoria, political/social, politics, republicans, running, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

The louder a self righteous person bellows…

A GOP staffer thought it was a good idea to lecture the Obama girls:

Her deleted post reads: “Dear Sasha and Malia: I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play.

“Then again, your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter. So I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department.”

The post goes on to advise the girls to “rise to the occasion and act like being in the White House matters to you”.

“Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar,” she added.

Given that she was a on the staff of a US Representative from the old Confederate state of Tennessee, well…perhaps I should refrain from bringing up “living up to a stereotype”? (yes, that is a slam at those who talk about “ghetto stereotypes” :-) )

Yes, she resigned. She claims remorse. But I wonder…something about glass houses:

Yes, a 17-year-old Lauten stole from Belk department store in her North Carolina hometown according to the Smoking Gun:

Lauten, pictured above, was arrested in December 2000 for misdemeanor larceny, according to court records. Lauten, then 17, was collared for stealing from a Belk department store in her North Carolina hometown.
Because Lauten was a first-time offender, her case was handled via the District Court’s deferred prosecution program, which resulted in the charge’s eventual dismissal after the future scold stayed out of trouble for a prescribed period.
Since Lauten was just another teenager caught shoplifting at the mall, it appears unlikely that she was publicly pilloried for her lack of class, nor were her parents criticized as poor role models.

Here is a bit more of her classy behavior:

obamakidsnoclass

Hmmm…nah, I’ll bite my tongue. :-)

December 2, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans | , | Leave a comment

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