Trump, Comey, and all the rest…

(from Real Clear Politics) President Obama was in the high 50’s, low 60’s by comparison.

So, what does this mean? (note: the numbers were taken mostly before the Comey firing)

This is probably very cynical of me, but Trump’s presidency really isn’t in peril until the Republican Congress turns against him, and Trump isn’t at Nixon levels of disapproval as yet, at least among Republicans.

And Trump is angering liberals, which, well, is a big part of modern Republican politics. It is the old: “if he makes liberals angry, he must be doing something right” sort of thing.

As far as firing Comey: THAT, in and of itself doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that he appeared to fire Comey either in retaliation for, or to hinder an FBI investigation into Russian involvement with our election, and as to whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians. That Russia interfered (via hacking the DNC, release of fake news, fake accounts, etc.) is beyond question. The issue is “did they interfere with the help of the Trump campaign, or was there any collusion?. And THAT, is very troubling. I hope the Republicans realize that President Trump could potentially turn on any one of them at a given moment.

But, sadly, the problem remains political rather than ethical.


May 13, 2017 Posted by | political/social, republicans, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Introspection: good medicine, though not everyone agrees…

A book called Shattered has caused a mini-sensation in some Democratic circles:

Donald J. Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in November came as a shock to the world. Polls, news reports and everything the Clinton campaign was hearing in the final days pointed to her becoming the first female president in American history.

In their compelling new book, “Shattered,” the journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes write that Clinton’s loss suddenly made sense of all the reporting they had been doing for a year and a half — reporting that had turned up all sorts of “foreboding signs” that often seemed at odds, in real time, with indications that Clinton was the favorite to win. Although the Clinton campaign was widely covered, and many autopsies have been conducted in the last several months, the blow-by-blow details in “Shattered” — and the observations made here by campaign and Democratic Party insiders — are nothing less than devastating, sure to dismay not just her supporters but also everyone who cares about the outcome and momentous consequences of the election.

Now this has been tough to talk about in public. IF you dare bring this up and your list of “social media” friends includes followers of liberal/Democratic politics, you’ll get the following:

1. Some will tell you how unelectable HRC was from the get-go and how we should have rallied around BERNIE (no, I am not making this up)
2. Some will bring up the very real factors of Russian collusion (a fact) and the Comey letter (another fact) and mention sexism/misogyny and say that was IT, period.

Many are simply not open to the fact that, even given that a woman is going to have a tougher time of it than a man, and given the Comey letter and Russian collusion, the Clinton campaign WAS a disaster; they neglected areas were Obama campaigned hard. Evidently, HRC and company learned nothing from the 2008 primary. If one remembers: the 2008 primary was essentially tied after Super Tuesday. But the Obama campaign had set up field offices in the next 10 states; HRC did not and she got creamed and fell hopelessly behind in the delegate race. When she recovered, it became even from there on out (more or less) but she was in too deep of a hole to catch up.

So, Clinton campaign incompetence is all too easy to believe.

And one wonders: where was OUR Cambridge Analytics “get out the vote” operation?

I liken it to a football team that goes on the road, gets a few bad calls and loses a close game. Sure, the bad calls matter, but so do the unforced fumbles and missed field goals. It is several things, and the race should have never been close enough to lose to begin with.

And yes, the loser of the election (with perhaps the exception of Walter Mondale, who had zero chance against Reagan) gets raked over the coals. That comes with the territory.

Sure, Hillary Clinton has had an outstanding career; she not only won a major party nomination, but was a Senator and a Secretary of State. That is awesome. She is a success. But she is NOT a natural politician (as she admitted) and her final two campaigns still stunk.

And this leads to the concept of introspection: I’ve found that, at least on a personal level, I benefit from looking at my failures and asking myself: “what could I have done better”? “what will I do differently next time?”

No, this is NOT the same thing as “self loathing”; after all, beating myself up for not being as smart as Stephen Hawking or being a professional athlete is useless (not that I don’t do it anyway, from time to time). But what I am talking about is my critiquing myself when I fall short of MY potential.

And, frankly, I am surprised at how many do NOT see this as a valuable thing to do. So many times, I see people blaming everyone else but themselves (other people, society for not appreciating them, etc.). I’ve never seen that turn out well, but people do it all of the time.

Workout notes yesterday, weights and a 2 mile walk.
Weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, easy), bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 4 x 185 (no spotter), incline: 10 x 135, military (dumbbell): 20 x 50 seated, supported, 10 x 45, 10 x 40, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110, abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches, head stand , goblet squats (sets of 5) warm up, 45, 45, 55, 55, 60, 65.

today: easy 5 mile run after dropping Barbara off.

Better get to grading: I want to watch baseball tonight!

April 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, running, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

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

Trump’s win: in part, due to sophisticated data mining…

No, I am not a fan of President Trump. I am not surprised that stuff like this is happening:

But Godat was surprised by the utter chaos that came with the president’s first month. He said it often felt like Trump and his staff were impulsively firing off executive orders instead of really thinking things through.

“I didn’t think he would come in blazing like he has,” said Godat, 39, who has three kids and works at the same aluminum rolling plant where his father worked. “It seems almost like a dictatorship at times. He’s got a lot of controversial stuff going on and rather than thinking it through, I’m afraid that he’s jumping into the frying pan with both feet.”

Uh, anyone who is surprised by Trump’s impulsiveness has not been paying attention.

However I have to give him credit for employing some very sophisticated technology to get his voters to the polls. This is a long read, but very interesting. In short, they could tell from my Facebook “likes” that targeting me would be a waste of time, but they knew exactly WHO to target for ads, and where, and what type of ads to use.

Give the Devil his Due: this was a very impressive operation.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

America gets exposed

Today, I exposed myself, athletically speaking.
There is a treadmill workout I do that I call “The Froggy”: I start at a very easy warm up pace (incline at 0.5) and then increase the speed by 0.1 mph every 3 minutes. If I can start at 5.2 mph and do this for an hour, I’d done a “Full Froggy” and I know that I am ready to race. If I can last 54 minutes (90 percent) I know that I am getting into shape.

Today: I lasted 33 minutes before I took a brief walking break; then I ran enough to get to 5 miles in 54 minutes and 6 in 1:04:20. In other words, I am not close to being in race shape; I was “exposed”.

This happens to sports teams too. I remember back in 2011, the Illinois football team won their first 6 games in a row and then took on an Ohio State team that had lost some games.
But Illinois had some narrow wins against some overrated teams and wider wins against mediocre teams. Ohio State won the game 17-7 and Illinois went on to lose their next 5 games in a row; they were exposed.

Well, today, the US of A was exposed. Yes, this is the same country that elected Barack Obama, but that was really a testimony to Obama’s political skill; it really wasn’t about the nation being able to recognize his intelligence, knowledge and accomplishments.

Cold hard reality: this accurately represents a large swath of our country:

So please spare me “the greatest country the world has ever known” bullshit.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | running, social/political | | Leave a comment

The War on Competence

Our university basketball team is struggling; it is in the second year of a “top to bottom” rebuilding project. And of course, every fan has an opinion as to what the coach should be doing.
But how many are capable of doing a credible job of coaching college basketball?

Sure, that is harmless; part of being a fan is discussing “your team”.

At the professional level, there is, on occasion, a time when an owner becomes involved in the actual running of the team; Jerry Jones is probably one of the best known examples of that. Sure, Mr. Jones did play for the University of Arkansas. But when the owner interferes with the coach, well, it usually doesn’t go well.

Again, that is sports.

But tomorrow, this country will inaugurate a rank amateur into the Presidency, and some of his picks are just abysmal. This is a 180 degree turn from the previous administration, where competency was valued above all else.

But our incoming President, well, reflects his supporters. Let’s just say that I’ve never, ever had so little confidence in an incoming president.

And I’ve never been more ashamed of my country and of 62 million of my fellow citizens. Yes, our country committed some serious sins. But this is just downright embarrassing, and sadly, embarrassment might be the least of our troubles. This is indeed an ominous time in our history.

The party in power is the party of crass ignorance and vulgarity, and the incoming President represents these people well.


I will miss President Obama dearly. A comparison of the approval ratings of the previous 2 term presidents can be found here.


January 20, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Not my bubble…

Yes, many Americans ARE hopeful about the upcoming year. Just not the ones that I routinely talk to.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans, or 72 percent of those polled, say they are feeling hopeful about 2017, according to a new Morning Consult survey.

Sixty-one percent of respondents say they are feeling optimistic about the upcoming year, and 51 percent of people are feeling excited.

But half of the respondents say they are feeling anxious about the coming year, according to the poll.

Twenty-three percent reported feeling sad and 19 percent reported feeling angry going into the new year.

Personally, I feel as if our system gives way too much power to rural voters (disproportional representation to the small states in the Senate and to rural Congressional districts)

But mostly I am numb. I tend to agree with this: the bad stuff that will come will mostly be the result of having an amateur in the White House and the effects might take a while to show up.

December 28, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Cold, cold cold…

Election tidbits:

Yes, the Clinton campaign used sophisticated turn-out models…but maybe forgot the basics?

The Trump voters: why do they like Trump more than the far less affluent liberals? Some of it is attitude; Trump lives the way many imagine that they would live were they rich.

Trump and Putin: yes, the Russians will probably dump him when the time is right. They usually do.

Other stuff: it was -3 this morning.

And so I went to the Riverplex for a modest workout:

Weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, reasonable), incline presses: 10 x 135, 6 x 160 (good), 10 x 150
military: 10 x 50, 7 x 50 (both standing, rough), 2 sets of 10 x 180 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 on the machine.
abs (2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts), headstand.

Walking: lane 1 of the track (7 7/8 laps to the mile); walked 32 laps: 14:56, 14:24, 13:34, 13:12. (56:07…yes this was once my 100 mile walk pace. What are you going to do?)

Weight: 194 after. (I did not sweat much).

December 18, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Trump, “Real America” and all sorts of “Political Correctness”

I am on the road and we stopped near Columbus, Ohio for the evening. We are about 6 hours out of Peoria.

I have time for some political posting.

So, Donald J. Trump will be President. Oh yes, there might be a “faithless elector” or two, but that won’t stop him. We need to engage in very basic politics to stop him. That doesn’t mean that we take Russian interference lying down; Sen. Lindsey Gram offers some good suggestions.

Paul Krugman offers suggestions on how to channel that “cool anger”. I agree: we should really make the case that Trump really represents wealthy interests and little else; he won’t help improve the normal lives of the “rank and file” nor will he level the playing field so as to empower the rank and file to improve their own live (which is what most really want anyway).

Though America is NOT the GOP, America is NOT a liberal college campus either. The average American is not going to get the vapors if Trump doesn’t speak according to some approved “PC” script. We can show that Trump is making the playing field more unequal though…he is lying about big manufacturing coming back, he is going to try to take away people’s health insurance and he will do nothing to “Make America Great Again.”

We have to make him pay a political price for that, and that means nominating those with the political skill to do it.

About political correctness: Yeah, I get tired of all of this nonsense that says that “rural, Trump voting” people are the “real Americans” and that the rest of us (close to 3 million more!) are, what?

But, I will continue to call out liberal political correctness, which sometimes can be so pervasive that it actually attacks well established scientific results.

Workout notes: easy 3.1 mile walk (5K) on the treadmill yesterday; 39:10.

December 15, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, science, social/political, travel, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Taking on conventional wisdom

More Trump: who are those Trump voters anyway? You can read what many of them said here. So, what can or should we do? Well one thing is that we need to concern ourselves with other countries (e. g. Russia) interfering with out elections; evidently they are doing that in Germany too. We should do something about people in large states being grossly underrepresented.

But what about now? Well, some say that we ought to stick with identity politics, even if it is politically unpopular. Personally, I can see the reason for such politics being unpopular. For example, this article talks about the pick for Labor Secretary being someone who, gasp, used sex to sell hamburgers. Sorry, but the days of claiming “that’s sexist” and shutting down the discussion are over.

Alas, political correctness isn’t only found on the left wing. You see some on the right wing too: here, some criticism is aimed at Paul Krugman for pointing out that the coal/manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back and that such regions will likely lose population, just like what happened in other countries.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment