blueollie

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

Hurting the feeeeelings of Trump supporters…

Yes, I want my professional politicians to take pains to be civil to all of their constituents, including those that did not vote for them. Yes, our current President does NOT do this; he sets the worst example I’ve seen in a senior political leader.

But not I am seeing “are liberals helping Trump” type statements and these arguments are being taken seriously by those I respect. It seems to go something like this: “well, a small percentage of those who voted for Trump are having second thoughts but the liberal meanies are keeping them in the Trump camp”.

And a small percentage it is, as 87 percent of Republicans approve of his job performance (Gallup, as of 19 February).

So, is there evidence that liberal snarkiness toward Trump supporters is hurting? I do not see it. Think of it this way: did the open white hot hatred that many conservatives displayed toward Obama and his supporters hurt them?

Now before you say “yes but”: yes, I agree that most Trump supporters are NOT evil, stupid people. I do think that many simply didn’t know any better and that some simply voted for the tax cuts, thinking all of the incompetence and corruption would not matter that much.

Some, I think, are gullible (hint: coal and big time manufacturing are NOT coming back).

In any event, my problem with Trump is his deportment, his thoughtlessly saying false stuff, and frankly his apparent incompetence for this type of job (and apparent violation of the “you can’t profit off of your office” rule in the Constitution. Policy: well, the Republicans won; my ideas lost. That happens..we should have run a better campaign.

But I am not going to tell my friends that they should act like political operatives 24/7…not that it would do any good.

Sure, writing or saying “If you voted for Trump, you are evil and I hate you” isn’t going to change any minds but, well, most of us are not politicians nor ambassadors.

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

Why I find President Trump so depressing….

No, it isn’t about policy. Yes, I did not like President Reagan’s policies. I didn’t like many of the first President Bush’s policies, and did not care for the second President Bush (from the Iraq war until the final 2 years of his term…when things started to fall apart, he started to act appropriately)

And if someone like VP Pence was in charge:

Suppose Mike Pence were president now. Tax-reform legislation would be hitting the floor of the House. A competent White House staff, headed by people with intact reputations for honesty, would be hammering out the compromises necessary to repeal healthcare reform. A functional National Security Council would be generating options for responding to Russia’s cheating on arms-control treaties and aggression in Ukraine. Democrats and liberals would be assailing congressional Republicans on immigration and abortion—not espionage and treason.

So, a conventional Republican as President would have me up in arms, but about the right things: policy. Yes, let’s debate that. Yes, if they win an election, the losing side (in this case, mine) has to do some sucking it up.

It is all part of being a citizen. Sometimes your ideas do not win the day.

But that isn’t what is going on now. Instead we are getting this:

So is appears that President Trump is only the president of his base..no one else. In reality: he is probably more about the ultra wealthy than anyone else; we shall see. But he is reaching out to those who voted for him, period. He attacks our public institutions and private citizens.

Never in my life have I seen a president do that. Every president of both parties have made it a point to at least try to reach out to those who didn’t vote for them. Until now.

As far as his press conference, well, just read a fact check.

I’ve never felt so alienated.

I understand where #notmypresident comes from. He really doesn’t represent me, and frankly DOES NOT CARE that he doesn’t. I’ve never seen such a thing in my lifetime.

Oh, there are many other issues that bother me too; there is that he doesn’t appear to know what he is doing for starters. There is the fact that his opponent got close to 3 million more votes; rural America has way too much power. I don’t mind a rural person’s vote counting as much as mine does; I have a big problem with it counting for so much more than mine does.

The future: I have no idea. I think that the stuff going around about Trump either quitting or getting removed from office is wishful thinking.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

The real reason the Republican Congress will continue to support Trump

Let’s be blunt: this is all it really is:

Oh yes, I saw parts of the train wreck that passed for the President Trump press conference.

And yes, I’d like to get back to arguing with Republicans about things like policy; right now we are arguing about following the rule of law and about basic competence. And yes, while past presidents have told an occasional whopper, fibbed, etc., what President Trump is doing is highly unusual. For example, who in the hell lies about having “the greatest Electoral College victor since President Reagan? Hint: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton (twice) and Barack Obama (twice) had larger Electoral College Victories.

But, for now, the Republicans think that they can get what they want, though maybe Trump’s incompetence may slow down, and perhaps even stall the more noxious parts of the Republican agenda.

February 17, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

We see the Trump disaster…but do “they”? (hint: probably not)

Ok, Trump’s National Security adviser resigned under fire. But Trump knew for “weeks” that he had lied about the Russia calls. And this appears to be par for the course for this utterly incompetent administration.

Trump should have known this sort of thing would have been a problem BEFORE he nominated Flynn.

But don’t expect Congress to act anytime soon; remember that Trump remains popular among Republicans. And don’t expect that to change soon…if ever. For one, Trump supporters aren’t seeing the same news that you are. This is the bullshit that they are seeing:

obamasfault

And forget trying to confront Republicans on hypocrisy. Sure, Trump is playing more golf, taking more vacations and signing more executive orders than Obama ever did (in such a short period of time)..and you don’t hear much about the national debt and deficits do you? The upshot: they hated Obama (my guess: he was a well spoken, educated black guy who didn’t pretend to be all “aw shucks” and used college professor level diction.)

On the other hand Trump is what they would be were they born into money.

I think that our best hope is for corporate America to grow weary and fearful of Trump; THEY can take him down by influencing Congress to act.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

Administration of Incompetence: and the hard road back

I watched this train wreck: (from here)

This is just sad..and troubling. This administration seems to almost pride itself on incompetence.

The silver lining is that such incompetence might hinder its ability to enact bad legislation.

But, while Democrats are fired up, the way that Congress is set up is a massive wall to climb. Both in the House and Senate, rural areas are grossly overrepresented. So, liberal anger itself will not be enough. We will need some moderate and even traditionally conservative allies.

Workout notes: great weather (24 F, clear) but I was sluggish. 5 miles, slowly. It felt good after 1.4 miles.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, running, social/political, Uncategorized | | 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

I’ve never seen anything like President Trump but…

It is weird. On one hand, I see President Trump as being a disaster. But, at least for NOW, my personal life is going well…for NOW…there are potential land mines ahead. But enough about that.

I work in education (mathematics) and Trump is a potential distaster at many levels. His nominee for Secretary of Education doesn’t even know the basics:

and yet is likely to be confirmed. I sure hope that the Democrats are united in opposing her, though if it looks like she will win anyway, I can see giving a few red state Senators a pass for local political reasons.

Higher education will not be spared; a creationist is being appointed to lead a task force in higher education.

And do not think that our lead in science/engineering/mathematics research is a “given” either; remember that in the 1930’s, Germany lead the world. They ran many of their top people out and the US took command.

Even worse, Trump appears to have no grasp of reality. He thinks that Islamic terrorism is being under reported and provided the media with a list of 78 “under reported” events…(and yes, the list had egregious misspellings in it, including of the word “attacker” in places!”

And just read some of President Trump’s tweets: do these sound presidential to you?

As someone pointed out, Trump is like a “boy’s idea of a man”. Oh sure, there are times when I have fantasies about being well off enough to tell anyone to “f*ck off” without having to worry about the consequences, but I realize that my having those fantasies are the result of my incomplete growth as a mature human being; it is my goal to get to the point where I don’t have those thoughts. I certainly do not admire someone who acts that way…especially the President of the United States.

What to do about it:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/how-to-beat-trump/515736/

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

Not all opposition to Trump is policy based..nor is it all political

Yes, I get it. We had an election and the Republicans won…bigly. So I “get” that we are going to get a more conservative government.

And as a citizen, I’ll continue to lobby my members of Congress for policies that I think are right.

But what is going on now is well beyond that.

The Executive Branch I feel that our President lacks the competence, knowledge, humility, temperament and deportment for the job.

Come on; he got outraged about the crowd size at his inauguration and lied about it! Then he followed it with a ham-fisted executive order on visits and immigration; parts of it had to be rolled back. And about the raid in Yemen: yes, military operations don’t always go well for a variety of reasons; there is always some risk involved. But I have zero confidence in the President! Hence, I give him no benefit of the doubt, even when he might deserve some.

Congress Ok, we have a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States. Yes, the Republicans shamefully refused to act on President Obama’s nomination. And yes, the Democrats should filibuster President Trump’s. Oh, the Republicans could do away with the filibuster for SCOTUS nominations (though I doubt that they will do away with the filibuster altogether, for many reasons) but that is fine. Make them do it. Republican misbehavior should not be rewarded.

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

Trump’s Incompetence .

I’ve heard someone say something to the effect that Trump is what his supporters would be were they to acquire a lot of money.

No, “balls” isn’t enough; one must have careful thought and competence. Evidently Trump doesn’t believe in either. Consider the recent Yemen raid:

President Barack Obama’s national security aides had reviewed the plans for a risky attack on a small, heavily guarded brick home of a senior Qaeda collaborator in a mountainous village in a remote part of central Yemen. But Mr. Obama did not act because the Pentagon wanted to launch the attack on a moonless night and the next one would come after his term had ended.

With two of his closest advisers, Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, joining the dinner at the White House along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Mr. Trump approved sending in the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, hoping the raid early last Sunday would scoop up cellphones and laptop computers that could yield valuable clues about one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist groups. Vice President Mike Pence and Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, also attended the dinner.

Let this sink in: Stephen Bannon…one of the advisers? Oh spare me…

Through a communications intercept, the commandos knew that the mission had been somehow compromised, but pressed on toward their target roughly five miles from where they had been flown into the area. “They kind of knew they were screwed from the beginning,” one former SEAL Team 6 official said.

With the crucial element of surprise lost, the Americans and Emiratis found themselves in a gun battle with Qaeda fighters who took up positions in other houses, a clinic, a school and a mosque, often using women and children as cover, American military officials said in interviews this week.

The commandos were taken aback when some of the women grabbed weapons and started firing, multiplying the militant firepower beyond what they had expected. The Americans called in airstrikes from helicopter gunships and fighter aircraft that helped kill some 14 Qaeda fighters, but not before an MV-22 Osprey aircraft involved in the operation experienced a “hard landing,” injuring three more American personnel on board. The Osprey, which the Marine Corps said cost $75 million, was badly damaged and had to be destroyed by an airstrike.

Then from Reuters:

U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.

As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.

And Trump’s other operations, such as his ill conceived executive order (“Muslim ban”) and even his being unable to cope with not having the “largest attendance at an inauguration” doesn’t provide much confidence.

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