blueollie

Trump, Second Amendment and all that…

I agree that it is time, ok, past time, to visit the Second Amendment and do away with it. Our military is a professional one, and the idea that some yahoos with rifles can stand up to a professional military force is stupid:

If you think stock piling firearms from the local Guns and Guitars store, where the Las Vegas shooter purchased some of his many weapons, and dressing up in camouflage and body armor is going to protect you from an American military capable of delivering tanks and armored vehicles full Navy SEALs to your door, you’re delusional. The tragic incidents at Ruby Ridge, in Idaho, and Waco, Tex., in the 1990s, in which citizens armed to the teeth collided with government agencies and lost badly, is a case study for what would happen were the citizenry to rise up in violence against the state today.

And in any case, if you’re having trouble with the government, a lawyer is a much more potent weapon than a gun. Politicians and police fear citizens armed with legal counsel more than they do a public fortified with guns. The latter they can just shoot. The former means they have to appear before a judge.

A civil society based on the rule of law with a professional military to protect its citizens from external threats; a police force to protect civilians from internal dangers; a criminal justice system to peacefully settle disputes between the state and its citizenry; and a civil court system to enable individuals to resolve conflicts nonviolently — these institutions have been the primary drivers in the dramatic decline of violence over the past several centuries, not an increasingly well-armed public.

Oh yes, this won’t happen anytime soon…perhaps my grandchildren (as yet to be conceived) might see it.

No, I don’t think is possible to work “within” the Second Amendment:

Given all of this, why do liberals keep losing the gun control debate?

Maybe it’s because they argue their case badly and — let’s face it — in bad faith. Democratic politicians routinely profess their fidelity to the Second Amendment — or rather, “a nuanced reading” of it — with all the conviction of Barack Obama’s support for traditional marriage, circa 2008. People recognize lip service for what it is.

[…]

In fact, the more closely one looks at what passes for “common sense” gun laws, the more feckless they appear. Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently.

There is only one way to do this: Repeal the Second Amendment.

Repealing the Amendment may seem like political Mission Impossible today, but in the era of same-sex marriage it’s worth recalling that most great causes begin as improbable ones. Gun ownership should never be outlawed, just as it isn’t outlawed in Britain or Australia. But it doesn’t need a blanket Constitutional protection, either. The 46,445 murder victims killed by gunfire in the United States between 2012 and 2016 didn’t need to perish so that gun enthusiasts can go on fantasizing that “Red Dawn” is the fate that soon awaits us.

Again, I doubt it will happen in my lifetime.

Trump’s unfitness for office:

Trump is there, acting like this disaster relief is some sort of “t-shirt toss” that you might see at a baseball game. Seriously? I honestly think that he really has little empathy..something the last few presidents had. Yes, that includes both President Bushs.

How Trump Hangs on Obviously, there are some who are just going to like him. But I’ve noticed his routine calling anything unfavorable “fake news”.

It appears to work; his followers buy it. For example: one said that “Obama couldn’t call ISIS “terrorists”. That, of course, is false. But they didn’t like “The Hill” and wouldn’t accept a direct quote or a video from there.

Oh well…for him, the ends justifies the means, I guess.

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

Trump’s failed war on the NFL

Yes, Puerto Rico is devastated and many lack both power and drinking water. And yes, Trump refuses to waive an arcane rule about what ships can go to Puerto Rico.

But he can attack the NFL and encourage fans to “boycott” and owners to fire players.

I doubt that it is going well for him. I note, with glee, that I now have tickets for 3 Bears games (ok, the Packer game tickets were pricey, but in row 2 of the upper deck); the other two sets of tickets are in the second deck (200); one is in the media deck and the other is the end zone.

I am planning on going to a Colts game as well; maybe two?

Now why we play the National Anthem at sporting events? Here is how it started …not sure why we continue OTHER than because many fans like it.

And as far as the discussion on the protests, just look at the contrast between Obama and Trump. But alas, a big part of our country’s problem is that all too many prefer Trump’s style (“fire that son of a bitch”) to Obama’s thoughtful style.

September 27, 2017 Posted by | football, NFL, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Frustration and communication

In terms of talking to others: well, I have reached a tipping point of sorts. I engage far less for several reasons.

For one, when someone, say, makes a statement on social media, they might be doing so for a variety of different reasons:

1. Venting
2. Wanting “you aren’t alone” type responses
3. Cheerleading
4. Inspiring the like minded to action
5. Providing information
6. Attempting to persuade someone
7. Wanting a discussion which may be
a. an attempt to “insult the other side”
b. an attempt to “win a debate”
c. or to explore a topic further; exchange facts and ideas, etc.

And because I am socially awkward, I have trouble knowing what is what…why is the person posting that.
And there was a time when I liked conversation, but now-a-days, I often find people who merely “shout slogans” and provide strings of adjectives. And as far as ideas and facts, there is often disagreement as to what constitutes a fact and many have no clue as to how to make a valid inference. And some ideas really are nuanced; many people simply don’t “get” them (e. g. conditional probability) and it is useless to try to explain it to them.

Now I certainly agree with this meme, but the idea that people search for “facts” that, at least superficially comfort them rather than “digging for the truth” is NOT, NOT limited to Trump supporters.

What is worse: I can really see several sides and understand many different emotional reactions.

One one hand, I can see why many men my age might be inclined toward Republicanism. After all, right now, it seems that if you are doing ok financially, it feels as if leaches will find you. I said “feels” because there is something to be said at being at one’s peak earning power, and that, like one’s physical strength, does not last forever.

On the other hand, the current crop of Republicans are incredibly incompetent; they peddle “zombie lies” and falsehoods and can’t run anything correctly. They deny science, push crackpot economics and screw up basic things.

But back to the Democrats: we have our factions. The Hillary people can’t seem to grasp that she, fairly or not, is amazingly unpopular. But the Sanders camp is a bunch of crackpots who think that he would have won; they don’t seem to get that things like “minimum wage” is a huge issue for most voters. Most of us do better than that and no one wants to think that is where they will end up. Don’t get me wrong; I think that there should be one and there is an optimum one that might vary from location to location. Too high or too low is no good.

Even Trump hate divides us. I don’t like Trump because I think that he is incompetent. I am not that bothered that he may have called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig” (if what is what it was) or if some aspiring starlet let him pat her on the butt. (remember, the infamous remark was “they LET YOU grab them…”

Now I disapprove of his behavior AS A PRESIDENT and AS A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE; to me, deportment is part of the job. But it is lack of knowledge, his lack of interest in obtaining such knowledge and his current deportment that bothers me.

Oh well…baseball season (for me) is exciting and football season is underway.

September 8, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Political Correctness, pushback and Trump.

Ok, here is another “why are so many white men” angry article. This one starts off with the usual….”you are upset because you are used to having all of the advantages…” but it does get better and is ultimately worth reading.

I’ll add a couple of things: first, change, no matter what kind, can be poorly executed. Sometimes a well intended program just ends up making extra work for everyone and ends up either detracting or adding no value. Sometimes a well intended program is wrong headed. So, I can see “diversity” programs being resented, at least at first. And second, sometimes the change is sold with a great deal of sanctimonious finger wagging …with no opportunity for dialog. It is “as a member of class X, I am offended and you must be quiet and listen..” I don’t think that finger wagging changes anyone’s mind.

College campuses are a frequent target of the right wing and some of the fire...SOME is justified. In general, people aren’t happy when their ideas get challenged.

Here is an example of that: take “race”. You hear about “race being an artificial construct” when, in fact, it makes scientific sense (in terms of clustering of certain alleles. And yes, evolutionary psychology is an honest science (even if it is abused too often). Too often, people dismiss findings that they do not like, regardless of the evidence and the quality of the study and the number of studies that confirm a result.

But on the flip side: much of political correctness is of the right wing variety (e. g. creationism..which has no validity at all). And the conservatives are gravitating toward their own identity politics, with Trump leading the way.

Workout notes 1 mile to the W. Peoria Track, 47:52 (24:46/23:06) for 10 laps (about 4.2 miles); Larry was with me for part of a lap and for the final 3 laps, I chased a cute bespandexed runner..she would not let me catch her (broke my heart…not).

While this is not the best I have done it was respectable for this workout…best in a very long time (10 years or so).

August 29, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political, walking | | Leave a comment

They aren’t going to change their minds…..

From time to time, I read articles about how Trump doesn’t know what he is talking about (example). But you know what? That will not matter to Trump supporters.

They voted for Trump as a big “fuck you” to their perceived enemies; what Trump does makes little difference:

The Rust Belt and Midwest more broadly speaking have experienced so much hardship and for so long that residents no longer care what policy prescriptions candidates promise; they firmly believe that nothing will work anyway. These voters are unlikely to care that Trump often flip-flops on issues, does things for which he vocally criticized Barack Obama, and fails to deliver on promises made during the campaign.

Similarly, pointing out that he has nothing but bile-laced Tweets to show for his first half-year in the White House is not persuasive. So long as he continues to give them a vicarious outlet for their anger toward convenient targets that are often blamed for the Rust Belt’s problems – urban elites, immigrants, gays and lesbians, the media, ivory tower academics, the Clintons, and so on – he serves a vital purpose for them.

It is not easy to watch one’s community slowly fall apart over decades due largely to forces beyond one’s control, nor is it easy to look to the future and see only the same downward trajectory regardless of endless (and ultimately fruitless) plans to “revitalize” the Huntingtons and Youngstowns of the United States. After five decades of bad news, Trump feels like a breath of fresh air. Rather than offering them economic or social policy proposals they have heard before and in which they have no more strength to believe, he offers them an opportunity to extend a middle finger to the established institutions of society and government. That is invaluable to people who have received nothing of value in exchange for their votes since the strong economic years of the post-War era.

So, we will never “win” among them; perhaps we can lessen the margin of loss a bit and get our own people to show up. But mass conversion: never.

So, when one attempts to engage, I try to make my point but when they reject my sources (say, a NYT article or some statistics), I just smile and wish them a good day..and move on.

The 2018 forecast: grim. We might well lose Senate seats and pick up a few House seats, but not enough of them to retake that chamber.

Workout notes: weights and rope skips only. Usual PT (hip hikes, rotator cuff, toe raises), pull ups 5 sets of 10 (grip problems on set 4), bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 190, 8 x 170. incline: 10 x 135. military (standing, dumbbell) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 90 machine. rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer. Rope skips: two sets of 50; grabbed one young guy’s personal rope by mistake; I was embarrassed and apologized profusely but he was cool with it.

August 25, 2017 Posted by | politics/social, social/political, weight training | | Leave a comment

Trump voters and personal malaise

The personal malaise: for some reason, I’ve had a bit of tickle in my throat over the past few days and haven’t felt good at all. I am, well, kind of antsy, throat has a tickle, eyes burn a bit. BUT, my workouts have been fine, and when I am really coming down with something, my workouts usually tank.

Yesterday’s weights and run were good, today’s walk: 2 outside, 1 track (13:03, off/on), treadmill walk (start 10 minutes at 4.6 mph, then upped it..37:35 at 3, 38:50 5K) was fine. Last night’s yoga class exposed my weaknesses, but it was fine too.

Is it allergies, or do I have some sort of low-grade “something”?

Trump voters: this is a decent read. Roughly speaking: they don’t like the KKK or the Nazis, but they think Trump is doing ok and that Obama was divisive.

About the latter: I think that it stems from what I call “cultural inflexibility”. They see “true America” in one specific way and too much deviation from that box is “unAmerican”. So if a president says something to the effect “you know, African Americans might have a legitimate grievance here”…well, if it is a Republican saying it, they might raise an eyebrow. A white Democrat: well, they see it as political pandering. And a black Democrat: DIVISIVE! HE IS TEARING THE COUNTRY APART.

To them, BLM is criminal coddling (“if you’ve done nothing wrong, the police won’t do anything to you”) And very few of them are persuadable…and none of them would ever be persuaded by me.

Anything that they haven’t experienced, well, just isn’t true. And if Fox News tells you, well, they are telling the truth. I’ve had a few of them actually tell ME what I do in my own classroom! I tartly retorted that there isn’t some unAmerican way to solve a calculus problem.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | illness, walking | | Leave a comment

And THIS is why I am cautious about “Crying Wolf”

So Trump took up for the neo-Nazis and other white supremacists by saying “there was guilt on both sides” because, well, some of the counter protesters didn’t act optimally at all times.

“You had people in that group who were protesting the taking down of what to them is a very, very important statue,” Trump said, before suggesting that Lee and other Confederate-era generals, including Stonewall Jackson, are the victims of historical revisionism attempting to delegitimize their roles.

Speaking rhetorically, Trump asked reporters whether George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both slave owners, should suffer the same fate and have their statues removed. “You’re changing history; you’re changing culture,” he said.

Trump reiterated his condemnation of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. But he also made clear that he believed that some of the counterprotesters were armed and took aggressive actions that helped spark the violence.

Hmmm, so Confederate leaders are on the level of our founding fathers? Yes, you sometimes heard such nonsense in southern circles.

Well…back to the point in my post:

I’ve heard all sorts of things called “bigotry”; they range from being skeptical of using pronouns, wondering if transwomen with male genitals should use women’s “gang showers”, pointing out that the ACT and SAT really do have predictive power (with regards to future success in STEM fields) or for pointing out that, statistically speaking, there is more social pathology in the lower economic classes (though research suggests that poverty is the cause, not the effect), my contempt for the cries of “cultural appropriation”, etc.

I am loath to scream “bigotry” because, well, when one over uses the word, it loses its power for when it truly applies.

And I have a hard time distinguishing unusual amounts of anger for the usual, run of the world noise I hear from my fellow lefties. If the background is full of constant static, it is tough to distinguish a real signal.

And so..to see how Americans are reacting to Trump…I am turning to…the feed of “mainstream Republicans” more so than the feed of my fellow Democrats.

August 15, 2017 Posted by | racism, social/political | | Leave a comment

Do the Republicans continue to threat the needle?

I am struck by something: Medicaid is very important in West Virginia: percentage wise, they have the highest reliance on Medicaid/CHIP in the nation (29 percent, versus 20 percent nationally, or 19 in Illinois).

Trumpcare would some of its worst effects there.

And yet, West Virginia gives Trump the highest approval ratings in the nation: 60 percent! (as opposed to below 40 percent elsewhere)

So, of course, that is where he went for a rally yesterday. Go figure.

That is a fine needle to thread, isn’t it? At the heart of the GOP agenda is “tax cuts for the financially elite”; you might say that attempts to reform the ACA were “ok, you need to die earlier so the wealthiest can have bigger tax cuts”. I doubt that is the message that they deliver to states like West Virginia.

So…they peddle false promises (“coal is coming back”) and hatred of…well, people like me (“it is those liberals getting in the way of America being Great Again”)

Will this continue to work? In some states, I am sure that it will.

I suppose that some are fine with being pissed on so long as they are praised in the process?

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

Depressing state of politics

Ok, it is no secret that I never considered Donald Trump to be suitable POTUS material. Enough of my countrymen disagreed enough for him to squeak by in the Electoral College though he lost the popular vote by about 3,000,000 votes (and if you start complaining that is a fake statistic because of “illegals voting”, you are too stupid to be reading my blog, so just get lost right now).

Now our rough, tough, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN president is…whining?

Pathetic. But it probably plays to his hard core supporters because, well, many of them are also whiny little victims. A great explanation is here: (and he uses a King Solomon story to help make his point)

Upshot: remember those pitiful “what has happened to my country” whines when President Obama was in office? (if you want to be nauseated, watch at 1:15)

They had an idea of what their country was like (no, it never was that way), and they had a skilled con man running to saying “he would make it great again” by…well, sticking it to the liberals. Sure the real agenda is the same as it always was (tax cuts for the wealthiest among us), and they sold it to the base by, well, attacking people like me.

So that brings me to the Democrats.

And I’ll say it: as evil as I think the elite Republican mission is (the tax cuts for the wealthy above all else), they are better politicians than we are. And their “message to the base” is an easier sale; all one has to do is to cherry pick a few ridiculous college campus incidents to get people fired up about how ridiculous liberals are (like this one)

(for the record: there are crackpot professors…but it has gotten so ridiculous that people who have never set foot in a college classroom see fit to tell me what goes on in colleges and how *I* brainwash students into not working hard, hating American, etc.)

So, what are Democrats about? We are supposed to be about a society that works for all, including the less talented, the disabled, the poor, the sick, those born into tough circumstances, etc.

And guess what? That is a tough sell. The Republicans glorify the rich…and well, most all of us want to be rich, or at least moderately comfortable.

Who wants to be poor, sick, laid off, mentally ill, or disabled?

We Democrats talk about safety nets (e. g. Medicaid) and minimum wages. BUT FEW WANT TO HAVE TO USE SAFETY NETS, TO BE ON MEDICAID OR TO WORK FOR MINIMUM WAGE. These policy issues are tough to rally around and those who would benefit the most vote at low rates. (directly, anyway; the economy does benefit from safety net programs). “The poor” is not that big of a voting block and much of the “working class” really isn’t poor.

Yes, there are people who will never grow much past a minimum wage job and Democratic policies might help them, but no one wants to face up to the fact that they are doomed to be stuck on that rung for life.

And so we get critiques of how well the Democrats are doing (and yes, “pathetic” is accurate). Oh, true, we did win the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 Presidential elections (2004 was the exception) but the EC hurt us in 2000 and really hurt us in 2016.

So we try to critique ourselves, and get, well, pathetic articles like this one. Example:

When the poll came out saying that “Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing” Trump, I thought to myself, ‘If only that were true!’” But they can’t even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party’s core message was, he “hesitated” and then said, “That message is being worked on.”

It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum – as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is – wrote about how people would have to be “crazy” not to “have a reflective disgust” of people who are homeless and mentally ill.

Considering homeless people are also disproportionately black, LGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans.

Uh, I think the latter is just reality. Most people do have at least an internal “yuck” reaction to many of the homeless and mentally ill.

My response is that we need to use our morals and intellect to work past that “yuck” response ..and to realize that our discomfort might be born from fear that we are just a single (or a few) unlucky incidents from being just like that homeless or mentally ill person.

Example: what if I sustain a head injury that harms my ability to even do math, much less teach and research it? Oh sure, there is enough in the bank to have the home free and clear (and pay taxes) but what about that income? I have disability insurance, but times would get tougher, very quickly.

Nevertheless, articles such as the one I quoted attempt to throw cold water on what I think are needed, frank discussions.

And there is the old “Bernie would have won” bullshit. Yes, I am aware of the polls that showed him beating Trump head to head by bigger margins than Clinton was leading by..but you don’t think that the Trump analytics team would have absolutely vaporized Sanders? Please.

And some are saying he is the 2020 front runner? Oh, spare me. Oh yes, Hillary Clinton is not a great campaigner and I think that she is done, just as Al Gore was in 2000. But Bernie Sanders? Nope.

Oh well, this is why I haven’t written much about politics this year. I consider Trump to be dangerously incompetent and temperamentally unsuited for the job. But I consider my party to be politically incompetent.
In short, the Republicans can win elections but cannot govern; the Democrats can govern but suck at elections.

And yes, I think that the extreme political skill (and policy chops) of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama hid many of our party’s weaknesses. How many of these “purple unicorns” (blessed with show business AND policy skills like Pres. C and Pres. O) do we have?

It is just too depressing right now.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, economy, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

They hate us. They really hate us.

I have no doubt that the elite Republicans are driven more by “upper end tax cuts” than anything else. But what about the other Republicans? Why are they so “meh” about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia (as indeed it did; there is no longer any doubt; what is debatable is the degree, how high up the collusion went, and the effect).

Paul Krugman has some thoughts that I think are worth pondering:

The important thing to notice is that almost the entire conservative movement has bought into one or both of these arguments. After all the flag-waving, all the attacks on Democrats’ patriotism, essentially the whole GOP turns out to be OK with the moral equivalent of treason if it benefits their side in domestic politics. Which raises the question: what happened to these people?

One answer might be that right-wing ideology, the commitment to tax cuts for the rich and pain for the poor, has such a grip on conservative minds that nothing else matters. But while this is true for some apparatchiks, my guess is that it’s not nearly as true for many – certainly not for the Republican base in the general public. So why has partisanship become so extreme that it trumps patriotism?

Well, I have a thought inspired by something my CUNY colleague Branko Milanovic wrote recently about civil wars. Branko – who knows something about Yugoslavia! – argues against the view that civil wars are caused by deep divisions between populations who don’t know each other. The causation, he argues, goes the other way: when a civil war begins for whatever reason, that’s when the lines between the groups are drawn, and what may have been minor, fairly benign differences become irreconcilable gulfs.

The Republicans need this rift to exist; they would not win on a “small government, low taxes on the rich” platform alone.

So they come up with something like Fox News and they push things. One was religion (the opponents are HEATHENS). Another: well, the LIBERALS are just awful. And yes, if you look hard enough, you can find leftists behaving badly (example)

(By the way: I am a college professor; I’ve worked (lived?) on college campuses for 31 years. Yes, there might be some SJW silliness here and there, and it should be challenged and opposed. Yes, there ARE SJW professors who are buffoons; a much, much higher percentage are reasonable human beings. But you are talking about a tiny, tiny, tiny part of what happens on a university. Most students have much more mundane concerns (money, social life, assignments, yes, even studying) and some are far more interested in parties than protests. Even most SJWs are reasonable human beings; only a small percentage are wacko, and those are the ones you see in the news. So the right wing focuses on perhaps 1-2 percent of what happens on a college campus..)

So right now: the push is “the liberals are horrible people and must be wrong about everything” so, if the liberals hate Russian collusion, then it must have been ok.
Krugman concludes:

And political figures either adapted or were pushed out. There once were Republicans who would have reacted with horror to Trump’s embrace of Putin, but they’ve left the scene, or are no longer considered Republicans.

This has troubling implications for both the short and the long run. In the short run, it probably means that no matter how bad the Trump revelations get, most Republicans, both in the base and in Congress, will stick with him – because taking him down would be a victory for liberals, who are worse than anything.

In the long run, it makes you wonder whether and how we can get the country we used to be back. As Branko says, there was a time when Serbs and Croats seemed to get along fairly well, indeed intermarrying at a high rate. But could anyone now put Yugoslavia back together? At this rate, we’ll soon be asking the same question about America

Oh well. Bottom line: we have to win those 2018 and 2020 elections.

Baseball notes Yes, I note the irony that I go to baseball games with a lot of people who probably voted for Trump. 🙂 If they knew how I voted… lol..

The Chiefs won 4-1 last night; due to a commitment I missed the first inning and the first Chiefs run. But I did catch 3 home runs early in the game (one by the Captains, two by the Chiefs) and saw the Chiefs add an insurance run to salt the game away.

Workout notes
Yes, I know, not much: 2 mile walk after easy weights:

PT Stuff (hip hikes, toe raises, rotator cuff), pull ups (5 sets of 10, ok), bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 190, 5 x 185,
military press: barbell: 6 x 95, 10 x 85, dumbbell: 20 x 40 standing dumbbell, machine incline: 10 reps with 140, rows: dumbbell: 3 sets of 10 x 65
abs: 3 sets of 10 moving bridge, 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, headstand (ok, this time).

July 14, 2017 Posted by | baseball, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment