blueollie

GOP Debate (South Carolina): disgusting

I grew up holding this view of Republicans: I though of them as people that I disagreed with. But they were proud of their educations. They always called for proper deportment and sober behavior in public.

What I saw tonight: Trump and Bush issuing sharp insults. Rubio and Cruz trading insults. People also used the word “lies” and “liar”.

The audience cheered, booed, howled, jeered and were so loud at times that the candidates had to raise their voices to speak over them.

Of course, the first questions were about the Supreme Court and they were all about saying that the Senate should not allow an appointment. But then…

Wow. Example.

Biggest: Trump flatly said that the Iraq invasion was a Big Fat Mistake based on LIES and attacked the idea that “Bush kept us safe” by pointing out that 9/11 came under Bush’s watch. That is obvious but often not said.

Did Trump implode? (the audience was packed with Trump haters). Or did he solidify his credentials as the “anti-establishment” candidate?

I really have no idea.

But I hope that the Democrats keep replaying this…because it was disgusting…candidates AND audience.

February 14, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republican party, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

So, what is going to happen in Iowa tomorrow?

Five Thirty Eight: gives Clinton about an 73-78 percent chance. Think of it as a good NBA player taking a free shot.

But caucus states are hard to predict; Sam Wang weighs in.

What about the Republicans? If you wondered why their debates sound like “I’m gonna kick the ass of ISIS” over and over again, it is because Republicans value “perceived strength”. It is interesting reading..and it is hard for me to not feel contempt when I read the write ups on the individuals.

I’ll close with what Paul Krugman says (and he admits that this is just personal opinion)

The appeal of the Sanders campaign, at least to people I know, is that it brings a sense of possibility. For those who were joyful and uplifted on inauguration day 2009, the years that followed have been a vast letdown: American politics got even uglier, policy progress always fell short of dreams. Now comes Sanders — very different in personal style from Obama 2008, but again someone who seems different and offers the hope of transformation. And some people really want to hear that message, and don’t want to hear that they’re being unrealistic.

But there’s something else, which I keep encountering, and which I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice: even among progressives, the two-decade-plus smear campaign against the Clintons has had its effect. I keep being told about terrible things the Clintons did that never actually happened, but were carefully fomented right-wing legends — except I’m hearing them from people on the left. The sense that where there’s smoke there must be fire — when the reality was nothing but Richard Mellon Scaife with a smoke machine — is very much out there, still. […]

On the other hand, that history is, I think, one factor behind a phenomenon we saw in 2008 and will see again this year: there’s a lot more passionate support for Clinton than either Sanders supporters or the news media imagine. There are a lot of Democrats who see her as someone who has been subjected to character assassination, to vicious attacks, on a scale few women and no men in politics have ever encountered — yet she’s still standing, still capable of remarkable grace under fire. If you didn’t see something heroic about her performance in the Benghazi hearing, you’re missing something essential.

And Clinton’s dogged realism, while it doesn’t inspire the same kind of uplift as Sanders’s promise of change, can be inspiring in its own way.

Emphasis mine. I support Clinton for a couple of reasons: one is her intelligence and knowledge of the issues, and the other is her realism. We can’t afford those who peddle fantasy.

February 1, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump and Sanders Supporters..

Why is Trump doing so well, at least in the polls? I still think that this is one of the best explanations (though it is a few months old). And here is one by David Axelrod that complements that:

Today, after seven eventful years, attitudes toward President Obama will shape the selection of his successor.

The Republican base is infuriated by Mr. Obama’s activist view of government and progressive initiatives, from health care reform to immigration, gay rights to climate change.

Beyond specific issues, however, many Republicans view dimly the very qualities that played so well for Mr. Obama in 2008. Deliberation is seen as hesitancy; patience as weakness. His call for tolerance and passionate embrace of America’s growing diversity inflame many in the Republican base, who view with suspicion and anger the rapidly changing demographics of America. The president’s emphasis on diplomacy is viewed as appeasement.
So who among the Republicans is more the antithesis of Mr. Obama than the trash-talking, authoritarian, give-no-quarter Mr. Trump?
His bombast allows no room for nuance or complexity. He proudly extols his intolerance as an assault against “political correctness,” and he vows to bring the world to heel, from Mexico to China to Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Trump has found an audience with Americans disgruntled by the rapid, disorderly change they associate with national decline and their own uncertain prospects. Policies be damned, who better to set things right than the defiant strong man who promises by sheer force of will to make America great again?

Yes, we can? Hell, no!

Just leave it to me, Mr. Trump says. Yes, I can!

Hey, though I am a liberal, even I get tired of nattering sanctimonious social justice warriors running around with their clipboards saying “it is ok to say THIS but not THAT”. So, having someone say: “oh, STFU; I am rich and I don’t care what you think” is a bit refreshing.

And no, I don’t want him anywhere near the nuclear codes, ok? :-)

And now we turn to the Democrats. Some supporters of Senator Sanders are going nuts, attacking people who support Sec. Clinton. Paul Krugman has a few things to say:

Greg Sargent notes that President Obama, in his interview with Glenn Thrush of Politico, essentially supports the Hillary Clinton theory of change over the Bernie Sanders theory:

I think that what Hillary presents is a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives. I don’t want to exaggerate those differences, though, because Hillary is really idealistic and progressive. You’d have to be to be in, you know, the position she’s in now, having fought all the battles she’s fought and, you know, taken so many, you know, slings and arrows from the other side.

He could be wrong, of course. But if you’re a progressive who not only supports Sanders but is furious with anyone skeptical about his insurgency, someone who considers Mike Konczal a minion and me a corrupt crook, you might want to ask why Barack Obama is saying essentially the same things as the progressive Bernie skeptics. And you might want to think hard about why you’re not just sure that you’re right, but sure that anyone who disagrees must be evil.

Now to be fair, those who accuse Clinton supporters of being delusional right wingers or pawns of the oligarchy are often not the sharpest nor the most successful people out there, so one must consider the source.

There is nothing wrong with supporting Senator Sanders. But at times, things have gotten ridiculous.

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sanders and Trump

Yes, Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump and that might well make a difference. This is part of the politics of resentment and Palin’s supporters can relate to the resentment that Trump is preaching:

Since Donald Trump entered the race, one opponent after another has attacked him as not a real conservative. They’ve been right, too! And the same could have been said about Sarah Palin in 2008. Palin knew little and cared less about most of the issues that excited conservative activists and media. She owed her then-sky-high poll numbers in Alaska to an increase in taxes on oil production that she used to fund a $1,200 per person one-time cash payout—a pretty radical deviation from the economic ideology of the Wall Street Journal and the American Enterprise Institute. What defined her was an identity as a “real American”—and her conviction that she was slighted and insulted and persecuted because of this identity.

That’s exactly the same feeling to which Donald Trump speaks, and which has buoyed his campaign. When he’s president, he tells voters, department stores will say “Merry Christmas” again in their advertisements. Probably most of his listeners would know, if they considered it, that the president of the United States does not determine the ad copy for Walmart and Nordstrom’s. They still appreciate the thought: He’s one of us—and he’s standing up for us against all of them—at a time when we feel weak and poor and beleaguered, and they seem more numerous, more dangerous, and more aggressive.

Of course the writer of the above is using the old “not a real conservative” charge. But this is what they’ve been peddling:

My colleague David Brooks issues an anguished plea for the Republican establishment to get its act together. I feel his pain. But I really wonder when he says this:

There’s a silent majority of hopeful, practical, programmatic Republicans.

Not according to the polls: the average of recent polls shows Trump, Cruz, and Carson with the support of roughly two-thirds of likely Republican primary voters, while all the establishment candidates combined draw barely 20 percent. And do we really imagine that any significant fraction of the overwhelmingly dominant blowhard bloc consists of moderate voters who just don’t realize what they would be getting from Trump or Cruz?

Also worth bearing in mind are the kinds of things even establishment candidates say these days. Not one has anything positive to say about what looks increasingly like highly successful diplomacy in the Persian Gulf. And Marco Rubio, the establishment’s last best hope, says he bought a gun to defend his family from ISIS.

The point is that this primary doesn’t look like an aberration, in which the GOP majority is losing its way; it looks like an outbreak of honesty, with the GOP majority finally going for candidates saying what it always believed.

Be careful what you court.

And now to the Democrats: many love Bernie Sanders because he speaks loudly on the issues that many of us are concerned about. But what ARE this plans anyway?

On finance: Sanders has made restoring Glass-Steagal and breaking up the big banks the be-all and end-all of his program. That sounds good, but it’s nowhere near solving the real problems. The core of what went wrong in 2008 was the rise of shadow banking; too big to fail was at best marginal, and as Mike Konczal notes, pushing the big banks out of shadow banking, on its own, could make the problem worse by causing the risky stuff to “migrate elsewhere, often to places where there is less regulatory infrastructure.”

On health care: leave on one side the virtual impossibility of achieving single-payer. Beyond the politics, the Sanders “plan” isn’t just lacking in detail; as Ezra Klein notes, it both promises more comprehensive coverage than Medicare or for that matter single-payer systems in other countries, and assumes huge cost savings that are at best unlikely given that kind of generosity. This lets Sanders claim that he could make it work with much lower middle-class taxes than would probably be needed in practice.

To be harsh but accurate: the Sanders health plan looks a little bit like a standard Republican tax-cut plan, which relies on fantasies about huge supply-side effects to make the numbers supposedly add up. Only a little bit: after all, this is a plan seeking to provide health care, not lavish windfalls on the rich — and single-payer really does save money, whereas there’s no evidence that tax cuts deliver growth. Still, it’s not the kind of brave truth-telling the Sanders campaign pitch might have led you to expect.

Yep.

January 20, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, politics, republicans | , , , | Leave a comment

GOP debate: cliche fest; short on substance but…

Ok, I’ll just say it. I really think that Trump did well. Yes, he had a “court TV” (Rubio’s jab) exchange with Cruz over his eligibility to be President but when Cruz attacked him for having “New York City” values, Trump talked about how tough it was to clean up and rebound from 9/11 and how insulting Cruz’s statement was. I think that he just shone there.

The rest of it: it was mostly Christie and Rubio fighting, and Rubio and Cruz fighting, and everyone attacking Hillary Clinton and calling her an “Obama third term”. Bernie Sanders was mentioned a few scattered times (starting later in the debate) but mostly as a force that is driving Clinton to the left. It is clear that they don’t see him as a serious threat to win the nomination; Kasich even admitted as much.

There was a moment where candidates were asked to take a stand on the “don’t admit Muslims” moment.

From my Facebook feed:

Jeb: opposes Muslim ban.
Kasich: opposes (“not acceptable”) but opposes Syrian refugees.
Christie: opposes Syrian refugees. Says that you can’t just ban all Muslims
Rubio: blames Obama and talks about ISIS. Dodges the direct question.
Cruz: understands why Trump says what he did. Dodges question to grandstand. (no refugees from Isis controlled areas)
Carson: “get experts to come up with guidelines for visas and immigration”

There was the usual supply side BS and “Obama is changing America” BS…siding with criminals, terrorists, etc.

Of interest: Christie was asked about how he would pay for infrastructure repair and he had a similar idea to Obama’s: do a lower repatriation tax on offshore corporate money.

Bush said a few sensible things about cyber security and Kasich made some sense about healing the rift between law enforcement and the communities.

But most of the 150 minutes was spent on spouting tired old cliches and only a small portion was about substance.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans | , , | Leave a comment

Between classes

I’ve got incentive: IF I get done with grading I’ll get to watch the clowns the Republican debate…and maybe, just maybe, catch the Rams last game in St. Louis on Thursday night. Yes, Donald Trump fascinates me, and yes, his ideas are really mainstream Republican ideas. What the Republican elites object to is his tone and manner of presenting such ideas directly.

I’m done with scoring the final exams for one class and about to start another batch.

Workout notes: 10K shuffle (aka run) in Bradley Park; I was a wee bit faster today than I had been recently. Great weather for December in Illinois (slightly chilly; leggings under shorts was overkill). I didn’t have the “fire in the belly” to push the pace though.

Quick posts

A friend sent me this. There is some truth in this, even for math research talks. Here is what often happens to me: I’ll go to a research talk in an area that is “sort of close” to mine. Now keep in mind that while I’ve been modestly active, because I am a small college professor, my research has been rather narrowly focused.

So the talk might start with some concept that I’ve seen before, perhaps 20-30 years ago. My mind will try to recall that concept and make sense of it….and by the time I return the speaker has moved on and I am hopelessly lost. The good news is that if the topic isn’t too far away, I can often find the speaker’s notes and study them later.

giphmath

Science and Spandex

legginuso

But, but…I was just studying the Periodic Table!

Affirmative Action Yes, I am in favor of affirmative action…done correctly. Many opponents of affirmative action don’t have their facts straight. But some who support affirmative action don’t have their facts straight either.

I am no fan of Justice Scalia but, in my opinion, he had a valid point when he said that some students would actually be harmed by being put into academic programs that they weren’t ready for. Yes, that applies to white students too (some elite universities have “regional affirmative action” which I’ve seen applied to not only racial minorities but to, say, white students from underserved rural areas).

The Naval Academy (and the other service academies) have prep schools to get promising recruits up to speed academically prior to entering and, for the most part, it does little good to throw underprepared students to the wolves before they are ready.

December 15, 2015 Posted by | education, mathematics, republicans, republicans politics, running, science, social/political, spandex | , , , | Leave a comment

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”…well..you 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:

voterepublican

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.

rtaxplans

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,186 other followers