blueollie

Zakaria is right: avoid “Trump derangement syndrome”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One problem with being utterly cocksure…

This article about Mitch McConnell is quite good. Yeah, he is a shrewd politician:

ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis, author of a McConnell biography, “The Cynic,” reports former Republican senator Robert Bennett’s account of what McConnell told fellow Republicans after Obama’s election: “Mitch said, ‘We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70 percent area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time. We create an inventory of losses, so it’s Obama lost on this, Obama lost on that.’ ”

And that’s what he did. By 2013, for example, 79 of Obama’s nominees had been blocked by filibusters, compared with 68 in the entire previous history of the Republic.

After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was confirmed last year, it took McConnell less than an hour to say that the vacancy should be filled by the next president. He called keeping Obama’s nominee off the court “one of my proudest moments.”

He is also a loathsome scumbag and embodies much of what is wrong with our political system. He is about “power for us first and foremost”..presumably because he is so sure that what HE thinks is, well, must be what is best for the country. And in a country where one of our legislative bodies, in theory, can be controlled by the will of a small percentage of the population, that can be terrible.

I much prefer the pragmatists that see “country over party”. He is NOT one of those.

Workout notes: weights then 2 miles of running on the treadmill:

weights: rotator cuff
pullups (5 sets of 10: not that bad)
dumbbell bench press: 10 x 70, 9 x 80 (ran out of gas)
inline bench press: 2 sets of 10 x 135
military press (dumbbell, standing) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110
Hammer Machine incline: 2 sets of 10 x 140
abs: 2 sets of 12 crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts, 10 moving bridges

Run: “every 2”: 5.2-5.4 first 10, 6.7-7.1 second 10. 10:56/8:40 and made it to 2.04 miles

I noted, with amusement, the young man who handled way more than he was capable by…only going 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down. Not sure if that was intentional (only working prior to the sticking point?)

April 13, 2017 Posted by | republicans, republicans politics, running, social/political, weight training | | Leave a comment

Why your CEO approves of Trump

Yes, Trump’s approval ratings are in the high 30’s to mid 40’s; Gallup at 38.

It has dropped some.

But if you talk to many CEOs: well, Trump is doing great! Why? In their world, government regulations and overreach is keeping them from being as profitable as they think that they could be. So, fewer regulations, fewer worries about pollution controls (who cares about a bunch of stupid frogs and snails?)…and lower that tax rate!

Oh, you have things like this: Caterpillar might be in serious trouble for violating tax laws AND economic sanctions. But you see, Caterpillar has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders and if that means setting up some shady shell corporation in Switzerland to avoid those high US taxes, so be it. And if that corporation does business with a country that we have economic sanctions against, well….it is not against the letter of the law, unless…some of those US labeled parts gets mixed in with that Swiss batch…ooops! If we just got the government off of the backs of US corporations!!!

So Trump is doing great! Oh those safety net programs? Well, think of those that you actually know (not read about); those who grew up with you. Many of those who ended up on those safety net programs…really did make a bunch of dreadfully bad life decisions. So what are you going to do…continue to enable them?

Anyhow, they are just fine with Trump; they much prefer him to Obama. Oh…yeah, Trump might not know what he is doing and he might well tank the economy, start a war, etc. But that is long term; the in thing is to think short term.

This is what really matters at the moment:

April 4, 2017 Posted by | republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

Understanding different types of Trump supporters

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

I’ll focus on the more mainstream ones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They lie and get away with it…healthcare, wire taps, etc.

First, here is Trump’s claim that President Obama released 122 prisoners from GITMO who returned to the battlefield. Uh, 113 of these were released by President Bush:

But none of this will matter to a Trump supporter.

What about Trump’s claim that he was “wiretapped by Obama”? Well, here is what they find convincing. I actually agree that an impartial investigation is called for; let’s see the evidence used for the relevant FISA warrants. But this article does have a useful list of good article about intercepted intelligence between Trump campaign officials and the Russians.

Here is a more thoughtful article about KremlinGate and what happened. Upshot: you don’t have right to privacy when discussing things with potential spies.

And we move to healthcare. Yes, the Republicans want to give the wealthiest another tax cut and repeal some of the unpopular things from Obamacare..but things that were necessary to make it work. And they want to allow companies to charge older people 5 times more (rather than just 3) and end out of pocked subsidies. My guess: Senate will filibuster and the Republicans will say “we tried” (while breathing a sigh of relief).

March 7, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, republicans, tax cuts | | Leave a comment

Some differences between Trump supporters and Obama supporters….

A few days ago, I posted a snarky tweet about Trump struggling to spell “hereby” and it showed up on Facebook. It got a few likes and comments, and evidently one of those who “liked” my tweet (or retweet) has some Trump supporters on his friends list; evidently my post showed up on this Trump supporter’s wall.

The said Trump supporter thought it was ok to go to my post and chastise me; it wasn’t. 🙂 But the gist is that while the misspelling was something we were having fun with, we are angry about far more than that.

But then one of my facebook friends responded:

And there lies the rub: I expect a US president to have a lot going for him/her. I expect competence, enough humility to know what they know well and to seek out advice when they need it. I expect them to be a master of diplomacy and to set the example for civil behavior.

On the other hand, Trump supporters see President Trump as what THEY would be like were they born into money. They would live that way (I sure as hell wouldn’t) and tell people off and just run off at the mouth; expert knowledge isn’t needed…merely COMMON SENSE (what makes sense to THEM, given their limited experience and background).

They see the careful, nuanced, thoughtful approach of President Obama as a type of weakness.

And to be fair, the rest of the modern Republican party is that way: all slogans, all the time.

And that is probably my biggest beef with modern conservatives. I actually share a few of their values, but I give a high premium to the actual “execution” of the ideas. Just yelling slogans isn’t enough; in fact, it isn’t even a start.

It isn’t enough for an idea to make sense to me; it has to work on the spreadsheet as well.

March 6, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | Leave a comment

The liberal way

There was a recent article about Fitbit and how its use did NOT seem to make people fitter, in general:

The trial took place at the University of Pittsburgh between 2010 and 2012, and it involved more than 470 adults between the ages of 18 and 35. All of them were put on a low-calorie diet, had group counseling sessions and were advised to increase their physical activity. Six months into the intervention, all were given telephone counseling sessions, text-message prompts and study materials online.

At that time, though, half were also given wearable tech devices that monitored their activity and connected to a website to help provide feedback. All participants were followed for 18 more months.

At the end of the two years, which is pretty long for a weight loss study, those without access to the wearable technology lost an average of 13 pounds. Those with the wearable tech lost an average of 7.7 pounds.

It’s hard for many to accept, so I’m going to state the results again: Those people who used the wearable tech for 18 months lost significantly less weight than those who didn’t.

You may rightfully point out that the primary reason to wear the devices isn’t to lose weight — it’s to be more active. But even in this respect, it didn’t work nearly as well as we might hope. In the IDEA trial, those who employed the technology were no more physically active than those who didn’t. They also weren’t more fit.

Now this is a very narrow demographic (18 to 35) and most of the people that I talk to or who use this are considerably older than 35 years old. And yes, one of the fans of the fitbit is ..my wife. Nevertheless, Paul Krugman weighed in:

Notice: instead of panning a study that gave a counterintuitive result, he looked for other reasons as to why HIS individual experience might have been different. That’s the liberal way.

Now about the other people: People have been showing up at town halls and letting their members of Congress, often Republicans, hear from them. Democracy in action, right? Uh..

no…

That’s pathetic, Mr. President.

Weather and workouts

Was it warm today, by “February in Illinois” standards. Evidently, we aren’t alone. We are having “April/May” stuff right now.

I took advantage to walk a hilly 5K at 14:27 mpm (Bradley Hill course). That was after weights:

rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, good), bench press (dumbbell) 10 x 70, 10 x 75, incline press: 10 x 135 (hips planted), military press: 10 x 50, 45, 40 (dumbbell), machine rows (10 x 110, 3 sets).
abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches.

lots of free squats; then 5 x 45, 4 sets of 5 x 50 dumbbell goblet, 10 x 230 leg press. Butt is getting stronger.

Right shoulder: slightly sore; back; ache came back briefly while lying down.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | health care, political/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political, walking, weight training | 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

Expect to see more misspelled signs from liberals. And that is good!

Yes, I know…I laughed hysterically at the misspelled Tea Party protest signs. I wasn’t laughing so much after the 2010, 2014 and 2016 elections though.

Now we are seeing liberals taking to the protest in larger numbers. And as the number of people that join a group increases, the more that the statistics of that subgroup resemble the statistics of the larger group (i. e.: all Americans). And so we see things like this (at a protest in Peoria, IL..in this case “Darin” refers to Darin LaHood, IL-18.

resisttyrany

So I suppose the Republicans can now laugh. But that is what happens when a movement grows.

February 4, 2017 Posted by | IL-18, political/social, politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political | Leave a comment

Trump: being deliberately divisive in an unprecedented way

I’ve never seen anything like it from ANY President Elect from either party in my lifetime:

And these are only the ones from New Year’s Eve onward!!! I am not talking about his “private citizen” tweets.

This is NOT how to show that you want to be President of *all* of America. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Don’t expect much from the Republicans in Congress…their hypocrisy knows no bounds:

I’m sorry, but uniting the country starts at the top…and President Elect Trump and the Republicans in Congress are failing…Bigly.

And please spare me all of this “President Obama was divisive” bullshit. Neither he nor President Bush acted anything like this.

Americans must agree:

obamabushpoplarity

This is from the Gallup Presidential Approval Center.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | barback obama, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans political/social | , | 1 Comment