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

My Syria post

Ok, President Trump launched some cruise missiles at an airstrip from which the chemical weapons attack originated. Because the Russians were there, they were given advance notice. And, evidently, the airstrip/base remained operational:

And yes, the rubes cheered…hey, he did SOMETHING.

Oh, the options were not all that good.

And ISIS took advantage. Let’s face it: things are complicated. One has the so-called government which Russia, along with Shiite groups backs. The Rebels are mostly Sunni (backed by Sunni groups) and ISIS has a foothold as well. It is complicated.

In the US: the support really isn’t strictly along party lines; the Freedom Caucus is upset but the old guard seems ok. Given what the strike accomplished (basically…nothing…) and deterred (basically nothing…) well..

And how legal was it? Here are what some top legal minds say. And the politicians are split (here and here): we have the War Powers Act of 1973 (which specifies that the President is authorized to start limited military action IF several conditions are met and it is in our national interest (e. g. retaliate for a state sponsor murder, protect US citizens, etc) and there is the authorization of use of military force (used for the Iraq invasion) to generally fight terror.

But..it appears to me that the real criteria is for the President to say “it is in our national interest” and for Congress to not object and for it to be over quickly.

Who in the hell knows. I’d like to think that Trump was not that unethical, but his repeated, foolish tweets give me reason to doubt his personal stability. I wish that I had more confidence in him.
Yes, I can see other Presidents doing something *similar* (execution? targets? effectiveness?). So my questions are more about the President that ordered it than anything else; he just has no “benefit of the doubt” from me..the way that other presidents (of either party) had.

April 8, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, Uncategorized, world events | , | Leave a comment

Sticky place for Democrats

This isn’t yet another postmortem on the stinging Democratic defeat in 2016. But this is more about “how do we go forward”?

Yes, there is a lot of protest about Trump, but where does this protest come from? My guess: not from Trump voters. 🙂

So, one goes to the rust belt to talk things over with Democrats in power there. And they say the same thing: what national Democrats appear to care about is not what the local people care about:

But worst of all, they said, the party hadn’t learned from what they saw as the biggest message from November’s election: Democrats have fallen completely out of touch with America’s blue-collar voters.

“It doesn’t matter how much we scream and holler about jobs and the economy at the local level. Our national leaders still don’t get it,” said David Betras, the county’s party chair. “While Trump is talking about trade and jobs, they’re still obsessing about which bathrooms people should be allowed to go into.”

Others around the restaurant table nodded.

Since the election, Democrats have been swallowed up in an unending cycle of outrage and issues that have little to do with the nation’s working class, they said, such as women’s marches, fighting Trump’s refugee ban and advocating for transgender bathroom rights. […]

He warned Clinton that she had lost all credibility with working-class voters by waffling on trade and offering tepid solutions. He urged in his memo that she talk about infrastructure instead.

“The workers we’re talking about don’t want to run computers, they want to run back hoes, dig ditches, sling concrete block,” he wrote. “They’re not embarrassed about the fact that they get their hands dirty. . . . They love it and they want to be respected and honored for it.”

He sent his memo to Clinton’s top campaign adviser in Ohio and other senior party officials. But Betras never heard back.

Months later, he said he thinks his party leaders still haven’t gotten the message.

Yes, we get it. Making sure that “Loretta” can use the bathroom that, well “she” wants to use is not what is on most people’s minds..nor are women in pussy hats.

But wait…don’t Democrats push for…Medicaid expansion and minimum wage hikes, stuff that helps out those at the bottom of the economic ladder? Well:

Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.

The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger. […]

The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor
Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

And those who are genuinely poor: THEY DON’T WANT TO REMAIN POOR…they don’t want a minimum wage job. They want the jobs that Trump promised.

And here is the dilemma: those jobs are not coming back. Neither are those towns. Automation is not going away, and that is what is killing many jobs.

Example: now-a-days it takes a grand total of 30-35 man hours to produce a complete car:

When Harbour adds up all the man-hours it takes to build a car or truck, including stamping, assembly, engine and transmission manufacture, Hyundai was seventh of seven majors, at 35.1 hours per vehicle in North America. Ford Motor Company was sixth, at 33.88 hours, a 3.7-percent improvement over last year, Nissan was fifth, at an estimated 32.96 hours, or 8.8 percent more time than the previous year, and GM was fourth, at 32.29 hours, a 0.2-percent improvement. Honda was third, at 31.33 hours, a 2.3-percent improvement.

In 1932, it was 92 man-hours.

We simply do not need as many workers to do the same tasks.

So…what to do? The awful truth is that many of those who have lost those good blue collar jobs will either have to retrain for the jobs of today (IF they are capable of doing so) or…be poor.

Trump’s solution was to lie to them and it…just barely…worked.

What will our solution be?

April 6, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, economy, social/political | | Leave a comment

Politics: a candidate I would support would help those that I do not like

I’ve linked to these articles before. One is about Trump supporters remaining loyal to Trump..while being horrified by cuts to programs that they depend on. And I am ashamed to say that one of my deep down reactions was…”hmmm, maybe I should support Trump for reelection since he is sticking it to these bastards”.

But of course, that is terribly shortsighted; after all, people that I do not like spend money that helps the economy overall, and the evidence tells me that demand side economics works. So it is in my long term interest to vote for someone who will benefit people that I do not like.

But my gut reaction to vote to punish is a strong one, and one that others feel as well.

And this is why I think of this notion of “let’s turn to Bernie Sanders” is bullshit. Raising the minimum wage won’t help most right away; besides who wants to spend their life at a minimum wage job anyway? Who wants to be stuck on Medicaid? And, even worse, who wants to face up to the fact that, for at least an uncomfortably large minority of us, that is as good as it is ever going to get?

Now before you scold me, yes, the minimum wage should probably be higher; it hasn’t kept pace with inflation. I believe that there is an optimum minimum wage, and that optimum is probably higher than it is now. But my point is that these issues will NOT create some social tsunami that will lead Democrats back to power. That will NOT happen unless things get a whole lot worse, as in Depression Era worse. We are talking about 25 percent unemployment followed by a world war.

But, if we can elect a candidate who can explain how a “bottom up” economy and “demand side” economics works; that putting more money in at the bottom will make it easier for businesses to have more customers…MAYBE we can peel off just enough support to tip those swing states back.

April 3, 2017 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

Moving forward: we won’t make progress with Trump’s base

Yes, Trump’s spending cuts will hit many red staters hard:

McCracken’s deep-rooted conservatism is matched by a passion to support Tulsa Domestic Violence Intervention Services, a nonprofit that helped her flee an ex- who she says beat and choked her, once until unconsciousness. She became teary as she described how staff members at the organization helped her and her son escape that relationship.

“They saved my life, and my son’s,” she said, her eyes liquid.

So she is aghast that one of Trump’s first proposals is to cut federal funds that sustain the organization. “My prayer is that Congress will step in” to protect domestic violence programs, she said.

Here in Oklahoma, I’ve been interviewing many people like McCracken — fervent Trump supporters who now find that the White House is trying to ax programs they have depended on, to pay for Trump’s border wall and for increases in military spending. And they’re upset.

“Why is building a wall more important than educating people?” asked Billy Hinkle, a Trump voter who is enrolled in a program called Tulsa WorkAdvance that trains mostly unemployed workers to fill well-paying manufacturing jobs. Trump has proposed eliminating a budget pot that pays for the program.

Yet Democrats gleeful at the prospect of winning penitent voters back should take a deep breath. These voters may be irritated, but I was struck by how loyal they remain to Trump.

I talked to many Trump voters about the impact if Trump’s budget cuts go through, and none regretted their votes in November. They all said that they might vote for Trump for re-election.

“I don’t think I re-evaluate Trump,” Moreno said, adding that he just wants the president to re-evaluate his budget proposal.

Judy Banks, a 70-year-old struggling to get by, said she voted for Trump because “he was talking about getting rid of those illegals.” But Banks now finds herself shocked that he also has his sights on funds for the Labor Department’s Senior Community Service Employment Program, which is her lifeline. It pays senior citizens a minimum wage to hold public service jobs.

“This program makes sense,” said Banks, who was placed by the program into a job as a receptionist for a senior nutrition program. Banks said she depends on the job to make ends meet, and for an excuse to get out of the house.

What is going on with these people? I think that this is the best explanation:

But there is a more fundamental, discomfiting, question in all this: Does demonstrating empathy even work anymore for politicians? Or, to put a finer point on it, if you show empathy for everybody in your audience, does each person only hear that you care about someone else?

As one of President Obama’s speechwriters, I had the privilege of working for one of the most authentically compassionate leaders in recent history. He possesses a natural ability — and desire — to understand just about anyone. And as his speechwriters, we knew he didn’t just appreciate all sides of a story — he wanted to acknowledge those perspectives and reassure his audiences that he heard where they were coming from.

Yet, try as he did, message intended wasn’t always message received.

For example, whenever Obama addressed tensions between law enforcement and the communities they served, some critics would insist that he never had a nice thing to say about cops. After the horrific murder of two New York City cops, Rudy Giuliani was quick to blame Obama, saying, “The president has shown absolutely no respect for the police … All the president has done is see one side of this dispute.”

This couldn’t have been further from the truth, of course. As the fact-checking site Politifact detailed, Obama had on numerous occasions expressed support for police, praised their outstanding work, and strongly condemned violence against them. But it seemed as though a concurrent acknowledgement of communities that felt mistreated by cops, or of the Black Lives Matter movement, erased any trace of empathy detected by some in law enforcement. This happened on issue after issue, from gun violence to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has written that, “When it comes to policy decisions … we are better off putting aside empathy and employing a combination of rational deliberation and a more distanced compassion.” I asked him what this means for political communication. He said that empathy, effectively, is a zero-sum game. Anyone who has to speak to multiple audiences at once faces a trade-off: A politician might tell you he cares about you — but if he also tells you that he cares about someone else, you no longer trust him. We demand of our leaders an unfair and impossible monogamy.

And go back to the original article: they were upset that the Democrats helped other people.

Here are more Trump voters:

The good news: while we will NEVER win all of them or even most of them, we can win “just enough” of them in key states to tip the tables. So it is worth the effort.

Upside: Scott made this meme for me.

April 2, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Empathy and Filibusters

New York Magazine has a couple of interesting articles.

The first one was about empathy in politics and how it really isn’t a winning message. Trump continues to play to his base; most every other president in my memory at least made a pretense of representing everyone.

Basically, the United States is not a liberal arts college; coming out for the rights of class X really, in and of itself, is not a winning message. And claiming to see many sides of an issue doesn’t work either; note how the right wing acted toward President Obama who FREQUENTLY praised law enforcement. Saying “well, you know, group Y might have a valid point” is a good way to get those not in group Y to be against you.

It is a sad state of affairs. But I do think that this state of affairs should be acknowledged and dealt with.

Think about it: much of the Clinton campaign was about attacking Trump’s attacks and deportment. That did NOT close the deal.

My guess: the Democrats can win again..but rather than say “oh, Trump and the Republicans are terrible because they did this boorish thing”, they will have to point out that Trump really pulled a big con; he made promises that he either had no chance of delivering on or no intention on delivering on.

Gorsuch nomination The Democrats got rolled on Garland. If they don’t retaliate, we’ll get rolled again. Right now it appears that we have 34 willing to filibuster; we need 7 more. Oh, Gorsuch will then be approved by a simple majority vote. But make no mistake about it if we don’t filibuster now, they will filibuster our next nominee. It is better to let the filibuster be nuked.

Pence and dining with a woman alone: This is comical. Ok, IF this is only a social policy and he is willing to have a working meal with a female professional, that’s fine. I think it is silly (disclaimer: I do stuff with female friends). I find it amusing that we have a “I won’t even eat with a female alone” person teamed up with Mr. “Grab them by the pussy.” Is this two sides of the same coin?

I couldn’t resist making a Carmen meme about this:

Workout notes

weights plus 2 miles on the treadmill, then leg weights.
Treadmill run: 2-2-2-2-2 (5.2-5.6), then 2-2-2-2-2 (6.7-7.1; 8:41 average). 2.05 miles in 20 minutes.
leg weights: goblet squats: 6 sets of 5: 5 with 50, last with 65. 100 meter walk on half the track between sets.
upper body weights:

rotator cuff, 5 sets of 10 pull ups: incline bench: 10 x 135, 5 x 150, 7 x 140 (strict), dumbbell military (standing): 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine.

March 31, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, running, social/political, weight training | , | 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

And I waste my spring break….

I am just having too much fun on the internet.

Now THAT is my kind of toaster! (this is what this is making fun of: Kellyanne Conway, of couch kneeling fame, claimed that some microwaves have spy cameras)

Cheetocare My “friend” Carmen Johnson and my twitter buddy Diana Archer dubbed this health care train wreck “Cheetocare”. Roughly, it cuts taxes on the upper 2 percent in return for underfunding the Medicare trust fund and not expanding Medicaid …and ..in effect, kicking older people off of Obamacare by allowing the insurance companies to increase the multiplier from 3 times to 5 times (how much more an older person must pay for insurance). Here are some sources: New York Times, Vox, Vox on Medicaid.

If there is a silver lining, it is that poor, red, southern states will be hit the hardest with a “per-capita” Medicaid rating.

But, it is my guess that this bill will either crash and burn in the house or be DOA in the Senate. Even conservative outlets such as Newsmax and Breitbart are denouncing it as Ryan’s plan. In fact, Newsmax is actually proposing “Medicaid for all”; weaker than “Medicare for all” to be sure, but..well…when Newsmax moves somewhat close to what I can live with…these are strange times.

As far as the rest of the Trump agenda: well, lots of CEOs seem to like what they see. I get it: they spend a LOT of time on their own businesses and are pretty good on managing things on a short term basis. Of course if things get so bad that few have money to patronize their businesses…well, I suppose in their eyes, that is some theoretical construct that they don’t have time for now. Micro is their thing, not macro.

Upshot: don’t expect them to move away from Trump for all of Trump’s shortcomings.

Basketball notes: Fun NIT game in Champaign last night; another one in Normal tonight. I’ll write a complete report tomorrow.

Workout notes:
Treadmill run: 10 minute warm up (every 2 minutes), then 10 x 2:30 at 6.7, 2:30 at 5.3 recoveries. I had an extra break when the fire alarm went off (false alarm) so I did one 3 minute interval with a 2 minute rest to make up somewhat. 1:00:44 for 6 miles, 1:02:52 for 10K.

March 15, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, running, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Is this storm here to stay?

1979:  The Great Red Spot, in the region of Jupiter which extends from the equator to the southern polar latitudes, as seen by the space probe Voyager 2.  (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

1979: The Great Red Spot, in the region of Jupiter which extends from the equator to the southern polar latitudes, as seen by the space probe Voyager 2. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

I know when there is a rainstorm, I think: “it can’t last forever”. Well, here is Jupiter’s “Red Spot”. It has been observed for 187 years and was thought to have been observed 350 years ago. Yeah, in terms of astronomical time scales, that is perhaps a nano-second. But it is a long time for a human.

And so I come to something that has been on my mind a LOT lately: our new “so-called” president.

Yes, in my bubble, Trump is an unmitigated disaster, headed for either impeachment, removal via the 25’th Amendment, or destined to resign because he wants to take his ball and go home.

Ah, I’d love that. But I really do not see that happening.

Yes, Trump’s numbers are at historic lows for someone this early into his administration. (40 percent by the Gallup). But he is at 86 percent among Republicans. And the reality is that many (most) who voted for Trump simply do not care about the things that we care about.

Now, I disagree with some of what is in this Isaac Simpson blog post, but there are some good observations here:

Here’s a fact you that might surprise you: most Trump voters do not care if he collaborated with Russia to take down Clinton. If that was what was necessary to destroy Washington, then it was worth it. Trumpians, many of whom have had their lives destroyed by Wall Street and by an establishment that, fairly or not, they connect directly to the MSM, are so angry that they’ve entered means-to-an-end mode.
To put yourself in the mind of a Trump voter, a good analog would be if a country known for meddling in American politics, let’s say Israel, had hacked the RNC on Hillary’s behalf, then exposed some corruption-containing RNC emails to the public. These emails were then used to defeat Trump. As a Hillary supporter, would you care? Would you really call for Hillary’s head?
The point is, if you think Trump supporters are going to be like Nixon supporters and lose faith in their candidate if it’s proven that he acted nefariously, think again. They won’t care. They’ll interpret a Trump impeachment as a nothing but a usurpation.

And many have lost trust in the mainstream media:

In Trump’s case, you have a paradigmatically anti-establishment candidate versus a powerful and brazenly biased media known to be as corrupt as the politicians it covers. The New York Times has admitted that it ignored Trump supporters during the election, and has essentially acknowledged its own bias. The people funneling money into politics are often the same ones who own the media companies that are doing the reporting, i.e. George Soros. It’s not a stretch to believe that MSM was so threatened by Trump that it spent tens of millions of dollars trying to find a way, any way, to take him down. By being outwardly hostile to the MSM, Trump, the ultimate outsider, baited them into this battle. If the MSM takes down Trump, it’s hard to see it as anything besides Goliath defeating David. And, no matter what the facts are, it will be Goliath defeating David in the mind of the Trump voter.

As incredulous as it sounds to me (and to most of my friends), Trumpkins view Trump as “David” rather than Goliath! (wrap your head around that one).

And Trump supporters really do think that he is doing a great job and simply do not understand what the problem is.

But less than one month into Trump’s term, many of his supporters say they once again feel under attack — perhaps even more so than before.

Those who journeyed to Trump’s Saturday evening event on Florida’s Space Coast said that since the election, they have unfriended some of their liberal relatives or friends on Facebook. They don’t understand why major media outlets don’t see the same successful administration they have been cheering on. And they’re increasingly frustrated that Democrats — and some Republicans — are too slow to approve some of the president’s nominees and too quick to protest his every utterance.

“They’re stonewalling everything that he’s doing because they’re just being babies about it,” said Patricia Melani, 56, a Jersey native who now lives here and attended her third Trump rally Saturday. “All the loudmouths? They need to let it go. Let it go. Shut their mouths and let the man do what he’s got to do. We all shut our mouths when Obama got in the second time around, okay? So that’s what really needs to be done.”

And hey, things have changed.

At last night’s Peoria Democrats Presidents Day Dinner, I hung out with a lot of like minded friends, and was shocked to learn that Trump carried MY OWN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT (IL-17); one that Cheri Bustos won easily. Yep, it is true: Trump won 47.4-46.7 in a district that Obama carried by 17 points.

Bustos warned that Democrats appeared to be indifferent to those affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs; not showing up in areas hit by factory closings and the like. She noted that she was the only Midwestern Democrat on her committee.

Now of course, I do not approve of lying about those lost manufacturing and good paying blue collar jobs; they are NOT coming back (example). And there is a reason that liberals migrate to the coasts; I sure wish I could too! Hell, I was at a Democratic dinner, and it was opened with a highly sectarian prayer (FATHER GOD, “In Jesus Name”)…it seemed like an Onion parody of the Bible beaters.

So, that is my gripe. My solution? From what I’ve read, right wing populists in Europe have been taken down by ordinary, hum-drum politics. Oh, we won’t win that 40 percent the consistently approves of Trump. Forget about that. But by holding President Trump accountable for the outcomes of his policies, we might just pick off enough of the “mushy middle” to win it back in 2020.

Yeah, screaming about Trump’s noxious personality and his social sins might feel good to us, and while that won’t actually help Trump, it won’t win the election for us. The professional politicians have their work cut out for them.

Upshot: I’ll continue to vent with my friends, but I also realize that my venting, while being a nice stress release, is NOT part of the hard work of winning the next election. I have to ask myself: do I REALLY want to do more political walk routes in “broken sidewalk” neighborhoods? (If you are a Democrat, you will always do walk routes in the poorest neighborhoods…it would be nicer to be a Republican!) I did these from 2004-2012 and I have NOT done it since…hmmm…

Oh well, the gym and academic work calls…

February 21, 2017 Posted by | Cheri Bustos, Democrats, IL-17, political/social, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

Ok, how to oppose Trump?

I am a bit perplexed. Sure, the people that I associate with mostly hate Trump, though I guess that I might have a friend or two that may have voted for him. With those: I just don’t bring it up; it is possible for me to have enough values in common but have different opinions on how to reach those values.

And unlike many of my friends, my biggest beefs with Trump is that I value proven competence and that I expect a certain deportment from the POTUS. He has shown me neither nor given me any hope that I’ll see any.
So when I say “stop Trump” I mean, well, the man himself. Yes, I don’t like most Republican policies, but I am willing to have a debate about those and I admit that, under the current rules, the Republicans won enough elections at just about every level, so they get to govern.

What I want is a stable, informed, principled Republican. We do not have that.

But, don’t count on Congress; after all, they go by what their constituents want and the Republicans like what they see. And because of several factors, including:

1. 2 Senators per state, no matter how sparsely populated
2. Geographic distribution of Congressional seats..and Democrats tend to live in tight clusters
3. Gerrymandering of US House districts

Conservative, rural people are grossly over represented in Congress. There is no getting around that. So national unpopularity of Trump means little.

So, what can we do?

The bottom line: Democrats and liberals are a minority in the US; we need allies. And yes, that means making friends with some whose values differ from ours, at least in some areas:

ut most left-wing leaders chose the second path. In the years between 1935 and 1945, they quietly began recruiting conservatives to build an anti-Hitler coalition and plan for the post-Nazi order. To achieve that goal, however, they needed to develop ideas and craft policies that would attract religious Germans.

This required some painful ideological compromises. Many left-wing leaders gave up their struggle against religion in public schools and abandoned their previous goal of socializing key industries. The more radical left criticized them as betraying the socialist cause. But after Hitler’s demise and the end of World War II, their decisions helped to provide a stable foundation for what became known as West Germany, and ultimately today’s reunified Germany, which by most measures is one of the least politically polarized societies in the world.

Meanwhile, the left-wing resisters who refused to compromise with conservatives found themselves isolated and dependent on support from the Soviet Union, whose leaders proved just as ideologically intransigent. These were the men and women who ended up founding East Germany, a state that survived only as long as communist Russia remained economically viable.

The current American situation is not identical to the German case. But Trump’s ascendancy is a symptom of societal crisis, just as Hitler’s was in Germany. At least since the 1980s and the entry of a religious right into politics, there has been polarization over the question of the country’s bedrock values. And for the past eight years, Republicans — establishment politicians and the tea party insurgents who brought them to heel — have run a successful campaign of “no compromise” with the left. Living in North Carolina, the so-called belly of the beast, I have seen how many on the right speak about liberals as enemies (and vice versa). They embrace Trump despite their skepticism because they think he can finally push through their agenda with no left-wing interference.

Liberals could emulate the pragmatic wing of the anti-Nazi resistance by appealing to conservatives. But this would require something more agonizing than normal bipartisan compromises. It would mean finding common ground on the very social issues that have riven politics for the past three or four decades.

Liberals might have to alter, or at least sideline, some of their most prized platforms on abortion or secularism in the public sphere. Conservatives might need to consider welfare policy proposals they have long condemned, such as single-payer health care. Compromise on that profound level seems almost impossible at the moment. But Trump’s threat to the republic grows in proportion to the widening ideological fissure between left and right. As the German example shows, bridging the worldviews of former enemies may be the only way to avoid the abyss.

Actions against Trump might include protests, but these protests should be effective. Protests which involve people who just run around and break things play right into Trump’s hands (“see? You need LAW and ORDER”)

Doing things like blocking highways is just idiotic; all that does is anger people …AT THE WRONG TARGET.

Targeted protests with a well defined message which are conducted peacefully (e. g. the Women’s Marches were a great example of this) could well be inclusive. I might even join in.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment