Democrats and the race to compete with Trump

Ok, who is going to win the nomination? I like Sen. Klobuchar but she is getting very little traction at all. But at least, as a Senator, she is popular with her constituents, as is Sen. Sanders.

But guess who is (relatively) unpopular with their own constituents? Given that Massachusetts is a blue state, that is not good.
And, Dear Reader, THAT is what we are talking about when we talk about how “likable” a candidate is…do the VOTERS or WOULD BE VOTERS like them?

Source for the above: Morning Consult quarterly approval ratings.

Early polls: show both good and bad news for Biden: Yes, Biden leads and, sans any preconditioning, this bodes well. BUT if one factors in his sky-high name recognition, his chances of winning the nomination are probably a bit less than 50 percent. Sure, that is greater than any other individual contender, but NOT greater than all of the other contenders put together.

Oh, “woke Twitter” doesn’t like him…”gee, when he talks to little girls he doesn’t follow the script that I want”…as if most D’s care about such things.

Frankly, our attitude (“our” meaning liberal, educated Democrats) sucks. Yes, this is a George Will article but:

Democrats must make amends with the 402 other counties that voted for Trump after voting for Obama at least once. This will require the Democrats’ progressive lions to lay down with the Democrats’ moderate lambs, a spectacle as biblical as it is inimical to progressives’ pride about their wokeness. They might, however, be encouraged to be more politically ecumenical by remembering this: In 2016, Clinton won cumulatively a million more votes than Obama did in 2012 in New York, Massachusetts and California, but won one million fewer than he received everywhere else.

Everything, however, depends on Democrats jettisoning, before they allow it to influence their selection of a candidate, their self-flattering explanation of 2016. As William Voegeli, senior editor of the Claremont Review of Books, has written:

Ascribing the 2016 election to your opponents’ bigotry makes clear that the problem was not that Democrats didn’t do enough to deserve people’s votes, but that the people weren’t good enough to deserve Democrats’ governance. . . . One imagines that, sooner rather than later, even Democrats will come to suspect that denigrating people until they vote for you lacks a certain strategic plausibility.

Oh, how we LOVE to “wokesplain.”

How regular people vote (hint: it isn’t the candidate’s white paper)

Good arguments don’t cut it either: (and yes, we sometimes..ok, often..overestimate how strong our arguments are; being certain does NOT mean being accurate)

And when we attack, direct, simple attacks might be fore effective:

Like this one:

Health and taking things for granted

There was someone that I met some time ago (2000 I think) that I reconnected with on FB. She would often comment on articles; I enjoyed the interaction.

But in my self-centered business, I didn’t notice that she had stopped commenting until today; I ran across an article that I thought that she might like and wondered what she’d think of it …then…”wow..I haven’t seen her in a while.”

I found out that she had died some time ago (months).

We were not close (obviously) but I did enjoy our exchanges. I did notice that she seemed to have that “not well” look about her; frankly many of my fellow baseball fans have a similar look; they struggle mightily to climb steps and move.

This is in great contrast to those who I do running races with; though working out helps our health, this activity draws the “already healthy to begin with” crowd, and much of that is simply good luck.

I really need to become more aware; I have this nasty “out of sight, out of mind” mentality which I think came from my moving around so much. Between grades 1-12, I went to 10 different schools; this is not an exaggeration. 8 of those schools were in my first 8 years.

Workout notes: weights and an easy, pleasant 3 mile walk. weight: 191 (oops! felt bloated)

rotator cuff, pull ups (6 sets of more than normal), bench: 10 x 135, 2 x 185, 10 x 160, decline: 10 x 160, military: 7 x 50 standing, 15 x 50 seated, supported, 15 x 40 standing, 3 sets of 10 x 50 single arm rows. goblet squats: 6 x 25, 30, 30, 40. (one lifter noted my the depth anyway), plank, crow (ok), headstand, knee stretches.

Did some work on the “n-ball volume” problem and am closing in on finishing Joe Biden’s book.

Steamboat weekend and event

I remember my first Steamboat race. I lined up just behind the 7 minute per mile sign..with justification. I ran hard and beat some rivals. But alas, I was disappointed as I was hoping for 1:04-1:05, but the day came up steamy.

This time, 21 years later, I was to finish much further back in the pack..and it took me 30 minutes longer. But this time, I was ok with it.

More detailed splits: 9:43, 10:20, 11:42 (1.1), 41:38 at 4, 52:32 at 5, 14:25 for 1.2 (?), 1:15:17 at 7, 1:25:54 at 8, 12:42 for the final 1.3

Note: the midway “places” made no sense as some were not picked up by the wet equipment..or at least transmitted properly. I did lose a few places in the middle 5K and few more in the final 5K, but ultimately I held my own reasonably well.

Here I am at 5K.

Here I am with 1 mile to go:

And yes, it rained hard.

(these are 6:25 mpm runners just past 5K in their 4 mile race…yes..this USED to be my pace back in 1981-1982)

And here is one of the lovely Crystal who won her AG in the 4 mile, cranking out 7:30 miles at 55+ years of age:

The race: Because of the flooding by the river, there were some modifications. The race started on main street and then followed the usual course until lower Glenn Oak. The 15K then did 3 loops, each with one steep but much shorter uphill. The path through upper Glenn Oak did not have the hair pin turns the traditional course had.

The day came up: mid 60’s, overcast, then rainy. I’d say it started to rain just as we got to the hill and rained fairly hard for about 40-45 minutes.

I walked and jogged from the house and got there about 35 minutes before the race stared; plenty of time for that final pit stop. This time: it was just me..Lynnor was in recovery and was to meet up with Barbara and do the 2 mile, which started about 1 hour after our race did. I hoped to see them on the course.

At the start line I had a chance encounter with Tracy, who I would see later for a ball game. She did well..though the cold rain bothered her (felt good to me).

I lined up behind the 10 minute per mile sign (with Melody) and had a bit of trouble with discipline. There was some weaving but not that much. I really didn’t pay attention to anyone in particular though I could see Lupe for a while. Finally, up around the hill is where the rain started. I took it slowly, trying to pace myself. I took one drink per loop. Note: could see runners starting their second loop just as we got there..the leaders were already past.

On the loops, I just tried to maintain; relaxing up the hill and attempting to spin/stretch on the upper part. I heard a few “hi xxx”, “good job Professor”, “good job Dr. yyy” while on the loop as I got passed by students lapping me. Sigh…I’ve become what I feared becoming 20 years ago: a shuffling “soft body”.

Each uphill took a bit out of me and I had to force myself to spin a bit (take some quicker steps). The thighs started to get a bit heavy around mile 5 (still feeling ok) and were really heavy during the 3’rd loop. But I told myself “NO WALKING.”

I recognized a few people on the upper parts but…well, not that many. This was not the old “friends reunion” it once was…that saddens me a bit. Also, my 1998 self would have been exiting my final loop just before my 2019 self was starting the 3’rd.

But back to 2019…my heavy legs carried me down loop 3 and a lady caught me; I got her back and noticed the long line of people ahead of me. I was to catch ..well, most none of them. I told myself “be steady and finish.”

And I was; this was just like I did on my training runs, though perhaps at a slightly faster pace. As I closed in…we hooked up with the last mile of the 2 mile course..and there was Lynnor and Barbara!
Two women were closing in on me but had not passed so my yelling “HAWT BABES…NICE BUTTS” could not have been intended for anyone other than L and B.

They yelled stuff back at me and I was so determined to not stop. But I still had work to do..about 10 minutes of running to go. Finally I could see the Civic Center and I knew that I didn’t have that much left and that Main Street was downhill. Then down I went and finally…the finish banner (at first hidden by the downhill). I did see the clock tick past 1:40 but I knew that I had about 1:20 of “get to the start line” time.

Afterward I walked back up the course to see L and B and get some photos. Then came the post race socializing (ok, just a bit of it).

Race Socializing

A quick selfie with a somewhat anxious Tracy (she was a bit worried about the upcoming rain, I think).

Getting ready to walk to the “silent start” (with a flag).

I got these two of B and L heading toward the finish.

L decided to playfully “moon” me on the way down…

The official “cross the line” photo of L and B.

Cassie found us and took a selfie with me…and I got one with her, L and B. LOVE it.

After a quick change of clothes, we had a couple of ours of coffee drinking and yapping at Starbucks.

In the evening, Tracy and I went to a Chiefs game wearing our Steamboat shirts.

B caught a few innings of the game with us.

Ok, the game was a rout; Burlington hit 3 home runs and had a no-hitter ..and allowed only 1 base runner for the first 8 innings. In the bottom of the 9’th the Chiefs got a second base runner, a steal and a hit (with 2 outs left) to break it up..still it was a 7-1 loss.

Sunday: short 5 mile walk. Then I got to see the Chiefs dominate 7-2, piling up 13 hits..the pitchers throwing strikes and this time, the Chiefs got some home runs. Ok, they did too. Nevertheless, it was a nice win.

Yes, one of the Corn mascots (Al, I think) wilted in the heat a bit.

Past Steamboats

(list of prior race reports)

1998: 15K 1:08:22 183/844 (sticky) Was running just under 20 for 5K in those days. 22:50/23:05/22:27, 29/71 AG 167/603 men
1999: 15K 1:07:53 187/725, place was a bit worse; roughly 20:40 for 5K in these days 22:38/23:01/22:13 39/76 AG, 170/511 men
2000: 4m 27:51 After a 10K/half marathon double and 1:35 half a few weeks earlier.
2001: 4m 29:13 Lake Geneva Marathon 3:40
2001: 15K 1:11:16 (126/381) Fall 15K 23:20/24:04/23:51
2002: 4m 43:15 (walk)
2002: 15K 1:14:33 (run; fall) 167/405 24:10/25:07/25:16
2004: 4m 33:10 (two 24 hour walks in May; 101 and 88)
2005: 15K 1:23:13 (26:40/27:39/28:43) McNaughton 100 in April, Marathon on Memorial Day.
2006: 4M 42:10 (walk), FANS 24 in June (83 miles)
2007: Walk with Barbara
2008: Walk with Barbara
2009: run 1:27:23 (9:22 mpm) Place: 519/726 29:21/29:49/28:43, 34/43 AG
2010: walk 4 miles 39:32.
2011: walk 15 km 1:48:02 37:12/36:24/34:26
2012: run 15 km 1:36:55 29:26/33:54/33:35 679/835
2013: 15K 1:29:04 (29:34/29:53/29:38) 40/50 AG, 552/866
2014: 1:29:57 (29:22/30:46/29:49)
2015: 1:34:28 (30:49/32:49/30:50) (2 weeks after FANS 59.9) 579/804, 376/461 males, 173/219 male masters, 36/43 AG
2016: 1:41:57: 31:40/34:37/35:40 667/822, 413/458 male, 196/221 master male, 30/33 AG.
2017: walk 1:55:52: 37:04/39:41/39:07 Just not in very good shape.
2018: 2:15:55 walk/jog…gave up after 2 miles and mostly walked (22:15). 39:20/48:19/48:16
2019: 1:38:36 31:44/35:12/31:40 (3 loop version, rainy and cool)

year 4m 15K 4k/2m big 2 all change 2 % change change all % change
2013 3124 866 98 3990 4088 na na na na
2014 2613 776 111 3389 3500 -601 -0.1506 -588 -0.1438
2015 2443 805 156 3248 3404 -141 -0.0416 -96 -0.0274
2016 2347 822 157 3169 3326 -79 -0.0243 -78 -0.0229
2017 1781 666 151 2447 2598 -722 -0.2278 -728 -0.2189
2018 1860 660 122 2520 2642 +73 +.028 +44 +.018
2019 1490 545 120 2035 2155 -485 -.1925 -487 -.1843

Though there was a big decline from 2013 to 2014, there was a massive drop from 2016 to 2017. The race rebounded a bit in 2018, then 2019 saw another drop..IN FINISHERS…though this could well have been due to the threat of storms. Note: the short distance was either 2 miles or 4 km. I compared the drop in all three races and the drop in the total of the “big 2” (15k and 4 m put together). I show the absolute drop, and the percentage drop.

Calm before the Steamboat storm

Ok, I did screw up packet pickup but righted my wrong. And I did lift weights: weights plus knee stretches: no planks, but rotator cuff, pull ups (5 good sets of 10, 1 of 5), bench: 10 x 135, 2 x 185, 10 x 160 (hard), military: 10 x 50 standing, 10 x 45, 15 x 40, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer.

I didn’t get to writing the Matlab code I should have. I always have to relearn. Ugh.

Then later: a hike with Christy in Springdale.

Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue (Encore Post)

True, I don’t care for Governor Palin (at least her politics and social attitudes) but I’d like to back up what I say. Hence, I’ll included a list of quotes that back up what I say; this will be lengthy so I’ll append these at the end of this article.

Here is what I think, in brief:

What I liked: insights to Alaska’s unique geographical challenges, discussion on some oil issues, persona life stuff, observations on the Inuit fishermen, running stories. She gave a shout out to endurance swimmer Lynn Cox who swam between an Alaskan island and a Russian one (though her joke “you can swim from Alaska to Russia is a bit misleading; Lynn Cox can and someone else did so in a wet suit; but it would kill most of us).

I was amused by her observation on Joe Biden physically stretching prior to their debate.

She also spoke correctly about the widely circulated “list of books that Sarah Palin tried to ban” and
gave a good explanation on how Alaska chooses judges: the legislature creates an “approved pool” and the governor has to select out of that.

She also explains her being unfairly tagged as having some sort of messianic view of the Iraq war. This is what she said:

which really is in line with President Lincoln’s saying that we should pray that we really are on God’s side.

One note of current interest This is from page 153:

Prior to the election it had been revealed that BP had been trying to save money for years by cutting corners on oil pipeline maintenance on the North Slope. This was very serious: leaks and spills from corroded pipelines were all too common and harmed the environment plus led to production slowdowns. So one of my first priorities (as governor) was to establish the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office…

Note: she said one thing in her book, and something different as governor:

Remember the Exxon Valdez disaster and settlement? This is what happened:

The Supreme Court handed corporate America a major victory this week when it sharply reduced the amount of money Exxon Mobil has to pay in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. An Alaskan jury had initially ruled Exxon should pay five billion dollars in punitive damages but in 2006, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court cut the award of punitive damages in half. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court cut the amount of punitive damages again and ordered Exxon Mobil to pay just $500 million in punitive damages – one tenth of the original jury’s ruling.

This is what then Governor Palin said:

So what does she say in her book? Page 62:

Exxon Mobil’s litigation compounded the suffering, especially for the Cordova and Valdez fishermen. Court challenges stretched on for two decades. It took twenty years for Alaska to achieve victory. As governor, I directed our attorney general to file an amicus brief on behalf of palintiffs in the case, and, thanks to Alaska’s able attorneys arguing in front of the highest court in the land, in 2008 the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the people. Finally, Alaskans could recover some of their losses.

Hmm, she sure paints a rather different picture in her book than she did in the video, no? 😉

What I didn’t like: most of it was boring Fox News talking points, much of which is either false, misleading, or baseless. The policy arguments were breathtakingly shallow and not backed up by facts.

But the worst part of it was the incessant whining and self-pity: her interview disasters were always the fault of the interviewer and she was always the one being unfairly picked on.

It appears to me that she has a huge inferiority complex (well deserved in some cases) and that she attracts others who have such complexes.

Though she whines about unfair attacks, she constantly disdains “liberal elitists”, “Berkeley graduates” and those who wear Birkenstocks and drive hybrids.

If you are the type who thinks that Fox News is “fair and balanced”, who thinks that your understanding of the Constitution rivals that of a law professor and that your understanding of the economy is on a par (or superior!) to that of a Nobel Prize winning economist, and that your “common sense” makes you a better judge of scientific facts that professional scientists, then you’ll love this book.

It is a pity because there are good things in the book, but they are scattered in a sea of boring repetitive Fox News boiler plate and self pity.

The details

Instances of resentment, name calling

p. 36: “Todd was shy and quiet in demeanor, typical of Yupik men, who, unlike some others, don’t feel the need to fill up the air around them with words all the time.”

p. 45 She whines about being ridiculed about attending so many colleges and taking so long to graduate. She claims: that it took 5 years because “she paid her own way” even after admitting that she didn’t pay enough attention to her studies on page 42. Still, why 4 different colleges?

p. 48: “For many in Alaska, being green isn’t about wearing Birkenstocks and driving a hybrid”.

p. 76-77: she attempted to insult someone by saying that they were a “Birkenstock and granola Berkeley grad”

p. 95: she argued that her husband really wasn’t “in bed” with the oil industry because he worked in the field and didn’t make executive decisions. That is fine. But she goes on to say: “I told Alaskans, “Todd’s not in management. He actually works.” (emphasis hers).

p. 99: she whines and justifies quitting her Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission post.

pp 107-108: she speaks with contempt about “Andree the Gadfly”, ironically noting that she attempted to get a license to sell homemade chickpea sandwiches. Such regulation is government intervention into the free market, isn’t it? 🙂

pp. 116-117: whines about Andrew Halcro, Andree McLeod (she calls the “falafel lady”) and the “Wasilla “town crier” being used as Palin references.

p. 134: “I had plenty of backup when telling Hollywood liberals what I thought of their asinine plan to ban guns.”

p. 151: “The fact that his shirt was buttoned one button off and his shirttail was poking though his open fly didn’t exactly inspire confidence”

Does she really want to bring up “inspiring confidence”? We’ll get to some things later. But note how superficial she is.

p. 181: Palin calls decorated combat veteran John Kerry an “elitist loon”.

p. 183: she whines about the press coverage she was getting.

pp. 185-187: she wrote a letter from God to herself. Yes, this idea might be ok to do in private. But when you publicize is, you open yourself to ridicule. Of course, she whines about getting ridiculed.

p. 201: she called a Public Safter Commissioner behavior “insubordination”; evidently she saw herself as his boss.

p. 207: whines for the first time about her being questioned about “what she reads”; after all, “she” has written op-eds for several newspapers. I wonder why she didn’t just list those newspapers? Why did she see that question as insulting anyway? After all, some might enjoy commentary type magazines (The Nation, National Review); others might prefer policy publications.

p. 214: she was talking about her knowledge of the Iraq war; she had just been selected as the VP candidate. She then says “I knew the history of the conflict to the extent that most Americans did.” That is supposed to be acceptable?

pp 217-218: she justifies her creationism here; she points out that her dad taught elementary school science and:

His lessons spilled over to the dinner table. We ate together every night and I just assumed that every kid learned clever acronyms for planet alignments and the elements of the periodic table between forkfuls of caribou lasagna. Didn’t every family talk about what differentiated a grizzly from a brown bear?

She then talks about William F. Buckley’s belief in a divine origin for mankind and called him a “world class intellect” (??? above average yes; world class: not even close)

Her “knowledge” of science can be gauged from this:

Note: personally, I love the way Maddow mocks and ridicules her. What I got is that this really gets under Palin’s skin. But it would be bad for a politician to do it this way; in my opinion many people have inferiority complexes about their intelligence (despite their bluster).

p. 221: “We felt our very normalcy, our status as ordinary Americans, could be a much-needed fresh breeze blowing into Washington D. C.”

This brings us to two big points:
1. She brags about how Alaska is so different and the challenges are so hard…that isn’t “ordinary”, isn’t it? I suppose “ordinary” is good when it suits her?
2. She appears to think that “ordinary American” means “being like her and her supporters”. That might be why she made statements like this:

We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe” — here the audience interrupted Palin with applause and cheers — “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.”

Not sure how much this helps Palin out. Is the VP candidate saying that small towns are more authentically American than, say, suburbia or cities?

As Eilperin writes: “The upshot? Washington D.C. is neither ‘real America’ or ‘pro-America.’ Other parts of the nation? It’s unclear, but if you live in a small town, you’re probably patriotic from Palin’s point of view.”

227: Claims that Obama didn’t say much during his speeches. I’d respond that she didn’t understand what he was saying…that might be closer to the truth.

232: claimed that her candidacy would draw “unprecedented onslaught of rumors, lies, and innuendo” brought on by how she was “packaged”. I wonder if she remembered the Clinton or the Dukakis campaigns?

236: complained about the “black suited laptop-toting flatlanders” as well “a defeated former opponent, a maniacal blogger, the falafel lady and the Wasilla town crank”

p. 242: “I just knew that even though the other ticket had looked down on my small-town mayor creds, the convention delegates clearly knew that national leaders are nurtured in the cradle of local service”.

p. 254: She complained about the McCain campaign keeping her from talking to the Alaska media: “Ultimately, this hurt the campaign to a degree the “experts” could never grasp.”

p. 269: She takes issue with Michelle Obama’s statement about “feeling proud of her country for the first time” and bellowed about the so-called “Blame America First” canard.

p. 270-278: this is a long protracted whine/rant about her interviews. She had a quip about Charles Gibson: “he peered skeptically at me over his bifocals like a high school principal.”


But she saves most of her spleen for Katie Couric (271-278): though she admits that she “had bad moments”, she mostly blames the line of questioning, that she is being condescended to and complained that Biden’s gaffe didn’t receive enough media coverage (that President Roosevelt calmed the country on TV after the 1929 stock market crash; Roosevelt wasn’t elected until 1932 and the mode of communication was radio at that time).

But how can she possibly blame anything other than her gross incompetence for this:

The reading question:

The Supreme Court decision (remember that she complained about the Exxon Valdez decision as governor):

The “Russia” comment:

Fareed Zakaria got it exactly right:

pp 280-285: basically a series of complaints about the McCain camp, debate prep, and the expectations of her debate:
“Weeks out, pretty much the entire Washington New York media constellation was predicting that I’d make a complete fool of myself in the VP debate.”

(psst: they were right).

p. 287: she pulls the “I’m a girl” card and complains that Hillary Clinton was mistreated in the media. She did issue a bit of an apology for this though:

She wrote in her book: “I wasn’t really accusing her of whining. Still, before criticizing her on this point, I should have walked a mile in her shoes”.

Great line Governor. But you can apply that “should have walked a mile in their shoes” to many others as well, including those who accuse of not being real Americans because they don’t think like you. And maybe you should appreciate some of the racism that Barack Obama and his former pastor (Rev. Wright) experienced.

page 288: she calls Senator Biden’s idea for partitioning Iraq “hare brained”. Really: she feels comfortable being condescending to Biden but whines and bellows when she gets condescended to?

page 292: She felt that the VP debate “went well, from my perspective anyway.”
Really? Here is the full 92 minutes:

Here is my take (with clips).

I also got immediate feedback (not from the unscientific internet polls)

CBS poll of undecideds: 46 Biden, 21, Palin, 33 a tie.

CNN poll of all viewers:

Who did the best job in the debate?

Biden 51
Palin 36


Is Palin qualified to serve as president?

Before debate: 42
After debate: 46

Before debate: 54
After debate: 53

Update Media Curves

Independents: 69-31 Biden
Democrats: 87-11 Biden
Republicans: 80-19 Palin

Kathleen Parker ( a Republican) said this:

Well, darnit all, if that dadgum girl (wink, wink) didn’t beat the tarnation out of Joe Biden. Maverick Sarah Palin fersure surpassed expectations and said everything under the sun, also. And Biden smiled and smiled.

Palin is a populist pro. She hit all the notes that resonate with non-elite Americans: family (Hi Mom and Dad!), “Can I call ya Joe?” personal responsibility, Wall Street greed, children with special needs. Her most effective technique was speaking directly to the American people and letting Joe know that’s what she was gonna do, doggonit.

Stylistically, she used the language of the people to great effect. And, you know what? If you want to know what the American people care about, you can go to a kid’s soccer game on Saturday and ask parents how they feel, and “I’ll betcha you’re going to hear some fear.”

I’ll have to go to the transcript to figure out what Palin actually said and try to figure out whose facts were right. But there’s no question: She won the debate on popularity. She did her homework, studied hard, and delivered with spunk. Still, I had the uneasy feeling throughout that I was witnessing a data dump from a very appealing droid. Even the winks and jaw juts seemed slightly programmed. And the question remains: Is she ready to be president should the need arise?

I guess that counts as doing well? 🙂

pp. 304-306: she seems upset the people actually fact-checked the stuff that “Joe the Plumber” said about himself and looked into his background. She also talks about a campaign character that I didn’t know about; by then I had tuned out this sort of silly stuff (Tito the Builder):

p. 354: This is part of her build up to rationalize her quitting the governor’s job midway through. She complains “As per the left wing playbook, disgruntled personal operatives twisted the the ethics reform process that I had championed into a weapon to use against me.”

The “left wing playbook” remark is laughable enough, but this leads to a larger point: one has to carefully craft legislation so it can’t be misused; this “good old ‘merican common sense” doesn’t cut it.

p. 368: Palin whines about the 2006 midterm campaign: “It’s the story of how the Illinois congressman, now President Obama’s chief of staff, had crafted and executed the ruthless 2006 campaign strategy and won back Congress for the Democrats.”

Talk about pots and kettles…gee how pathetic is that? Has she ever heard of Karl Rove?

p. 370: “One does have to wonder though, what did Kim Elton did to earn his new job in Washington.”

p 373: more whining about the liberals; she mentions that personal legal bills were mounting and said “The liberal mentality is that if a charge doesn’t stick, personal bankruptcy has to eventually.” This is more build up as to her quitting her job.

p 378: “Left wing bloggers began feeding stories to their friends in the major media that the FBI was investigating me”.

p. 379: “Secretly, I must admit that I really wanted to see the likes of Andrea Mitchell on my home turf witnessing how happy and at peace my family was”.

385. “I do not believe I am more moral, certainly no better, than anyone else, and conservatives who act “holier than thou” turn my stomach. So do some elite liberals.”

But some Americans are “more American” than others, Governor? 😉

p 392. “The personal computer revolutionized our economy, but the “experts” didn’t see it coming.”
True, but perhaps “experts” and elitist developed the technology that made computers possible to begin with and invented the computer? 🙂

Instances of questionable accusations or statements

pp. 12-13: discusses Secretary of State Seward’s purchase of Alaska. She correctly points out that Seward was ridiculed. But then: “And so, decades later, he was posthumously vindicated, as purveyors of unpopular common sense often are.”

Uh, Seward went against the common wisdom of the time, that is why he was ridiculed.

p. 28: “In those days, ACLU activists had not yet convinced young people that they were supposed to feel offended by other people’s free exercise of religion.”

Wrong. The ACLU doesn’t oppose things like extracurricular Bible study groups, so long as they are treated the same as other kinds of study groups. What the ACLU opposes are things like prayers “lead from the podium” at graduations. Why? People have a reasonable expectation to attend a graduation but no one has the right to a captive audience for such things.

p. 29: talked favorably on title IX (the law that made government funded schools provide equal opportunities for women). Note: this is a liberal idea; e. g., the federal government telling local schools what to do.

p. 45: Gave Reagan credit for getting the hostages released. Technically, the release was negotiated while Carter was president and occurred 20 minutes after Reagan was sworn into office.

p 46: She has a long paragraph about how great President Reagan was which included: “I knew the previous administration had left a legacy of soaring unemployment, sky-high taxes and rampant inflation. Regan’s plan for growing our economy made common sense:….”

Fact: Paul Volker was the federal reserve chairman who got credit for reducing inflation; he was appointed by President Carter and had began his program while Carter was in office! Oh yes, he backed Obama during the 2008 election and continues to work with him today.

p. 67: She discussed the Exxon Valdez Supreme Court Ruling. In the book, she said that this was a victory and gave herself credit for it. When she was governor and spoke about it, she played a much different tune:

p. 100: she says: “The Democrats and the media both praised my efforts, but obviously only because it was the GOP getting hammered in that episode.” She doesn’t back this statement up.

p. 114: “we ran on small donations from all over the state, mostly from first-time political donors and we turned back some large checks from big donors if we perceived conflicts of interest.”
This appears to be false:

THE FACTS: Of the roughly $1.3 million she raised for her primary and general election campaigns for governor, more than half came from people and political action committees giving at least $500, according to an AP analysis of her campaign finance reports. The maximum that individual donors could give was $1,000; $2,000 for a PAC.

Of the rest, about $76,000 came from Republican Party committees.

She accepted $1,000 each from a state senator and his wife in the weeks after the two Republican lawmakers’ offices were raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into a powerful Alaska oilfield services company. After AP reported those donations during the presidential campaign, she said she would give a comparative sum to charity after the general election in 2010, a date set by state election laws.

p. 134: she supports the shooting of wolves from planes because they would “cause Native people to starve” and that they were “decimating the moose and caribou herds”.

I don’t have the background to asses this claim, but for those who are interested, here is a detailed, scientific report from the National Academy Press (1997) on that topic. Interestingly, enough, this attack ad against Palin was very effective.

p. 140: she described Juneau as “being a lot like Animal House”..but then went on to say: “In short, it was a lot like Washington DC”.
How would she know? On what basis does she say that?

pp 167-168: she talks about her son having an injured shoulder and how he needed parental consent to receive any treatment at all. She then goes on to talk abortion notification laws without mentioning the real problem: some of these abortions occur due to parental abuse, or occur when a parent can’t be located at all. She seems to think that the typical family is in a “Leave it to Beaver” situation; reality is much different.

p. 181: Concerning Senator John Kerry’s remark:

I recalled Senator John Kerry’s comment to California college students in 2006: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
What a loon, I thought. What an elitist loon.

(emphasis hers)

Right after this happened, Senator Kerry told people that he was joking about President Bush.

Kerry stirred controversy when he told a group of California students two days ago that individuals who don’t study hard and do their homework would likely “get stuck in Iraq.” Aides said the senator had mistakenly dropped one word from his prepared remarks, which was originally written to say “you end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.” In that context, they said, it was clear Kerry was referring to Bush, not to the troops.

It is true that this was a huge political gaffe when it happened in 2006 But remember that Palin’s book came out in 2009. And one can also remember that this “elitist” served in combat; Govern Palin did not.

pp 196-208: she went on and on about her “success” with the oil pipeline. A fact check can help here:

PALIN: She says her team overseeing the development of a natural gas pipeline set up an open, competitive bidding process that allowed any company to compete for the right to build a 1,715-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska to the Lower 48.

THE FACTS: Palin characterized the pipeline deal the same way before an AP investigation found her team crafted terms that favored only a few independent pipeline companies and ultimately benefited a company with ties to her administration, TransCanada Corp. Despite promises and legal guidance not to talk directly with potential bidders during the process, Palin had meetings or phone calls with nearly every major candidate, including TransCanada.


PALIN: Criticizes an aide to her predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski, for a conflict of interest because the aide represented the state in negotiations over a gas pipeline and then left to work as a handsomely paid lobbyist for ExxonMobil. Palin asserts her administration ended all such arrangements, shoving a wedge in the revolving door between special interests and the state capital.

THE FACTS: Palin ignores her own “revolving door” issue in office; the leader of her own pipeline team was a former lobbyist for a subsidiary of TransCanada, the company that ended up winning the rights to build the pipeline.

237: her is her oft repeated “bridge to nowhere” story, which she calls a lie. The facts:

In her nationally televised speech accepting the job as John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she “championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress” and opposed federal funding for a controversial bridge to a sparsely populated island.

“I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere,” Palin said Friday in Ohio, using the critics’ dismissive name of the project. “‘If our state wanted a bridge,’ I said, ‘we’d build it ourselves.'”

While running for governor in 2006, though, Palin backed federal funding for the infamous bridge, which McCain helped make a symbol of pork barrel excess.

p. 270: She claimed that “90 percent of the newspeople covering the debate were liberal”; she used this as an excuse for people thinking that Obama won the first debate. Never mind this was a poll taken immediately after the debate (before the so-called post debate spin) from people who watched the debate themselves.

p. 278: “And the real extremism came from those who supported partial-birth abortions, those who didn’t believe that parents should have a say in whether their minor daughters underwent abortions, and those, like Barack Obama, who opposed laws that would protect babies born alive after botched abortions.”

This is either a flat out lie or a statement from an ignorant or rather stupid person. Here are the facts:

As Obama and other opponents noted, criminal code already prevented killing of children. In attacking Obama, Palin joined other conservatives in misleadingly referencing Obama’s opposition in the Illinois legislature to legislation that amended the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. Opponents of the bill noted that the legislation was unnecessary, as the Illinois criminal code unequivocally prohibits killing children, and said that the bill posed a threat to abortion rights. When tasked by the Illinois attorney general’s office with investigating allegations that fetuses born alive at an Illinois hospital were abandoned without treatment — the alleged incident that inspired the “Born Alive Act” — the Illinois Department of Public Health reportedly said that it was unable to substantiate the allegations but said that if the allegations had proved true, the conduct alleged would have been a violation of existing Illinois law. The Obama presidential campaign subsequently cited specific provisions of the Illinois Compiled Statutes in stating that the “born alive principle was already the law in Illinois.”

p. 288: she calls Joe Biden’s idea to return Iraq to a three country system of Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites “hare brained”. Really? Why? Does she even know that the current country is not a natural unit but rather made up by the British? From here:

Ottoman rule over Iraq lasted until World War I when the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. In the Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers, British forces invaded the country and suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (1915–16). After the war the Ottoman Empire was divided up, and the British Mandate of Mesopotamia was established by League of Nations mandate. Britain imposed a Hāshimite monarchy on Iraq and defined the territorial limits of Iraq without taking into account the politics of the different ethnic and religious groups in the country, in particular those of the Kurds and the Assyrians to the north. During the British occupation, the Shi’ites and Kurds fought for independence.

p. 307. She stands by her “Obama pals around with terrorists” claim but provides no basis for it. Where did it come from? Once, while running for State Senate, he had a fund raiser at Bill Ayres home and Ayers gave 200 dollars. Another time, they served on a same board. That’s about it.

p. 317. She whines about the reporting on her clothes and bitterly complained about the McCain staff. As far as her clothes, no one in the McCain camp backs up her version of events:

For that reason, Palin has devoted a dismayingly prominent chunk of her book to scapegoating communications aide Nicolle Wallace for supposedly forcing her to wear designer clothes. This claim is preposterous. No one aspiring to be vice president of the United States takes orders from a communications aide. The purchases themselves are fully documented in RNC records, including $75,062.63 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425.74 at two Saks locations. Wallace, a former spokeswoman for George W. Bush, has no history as an outfitter. No one close to the campaign backs up Palin’s version.

“Totally fabricated,’’ said Wallace.

“Total fiction,’’ declared McCain’s campaign adviser Steve Schmidt.

“Petty and pathetic,’’ said John Weaver, McCain’s former strategist.

If this were a normal politician – say, Mitt Romney – blaming an aide for a misstep would be laughable. It would seem cruel. Back in the ’60s, critics dissected Richard Nixon’s otherwise stately “Six Crises’’ memoir for excessive bile. But Palin puts the bile up front. She claims victim status for herself. Her narrative requires that she be a neophyte in perpetual war with the political pros. Kicked around by the vicious media (for her family!), straitjacketed by the McCain campaign, forced to wear fancy duds, Palin is the Pitiful Pearl of her tale.

The subsequent pages deal with other whines.

p. 348 She complains of “left wing bloggers” coming out with false porn pictures of her. Yes, the people who did that were disgusting. But why does she call them left wing?

p. 357 She complains that Obama’s stimulus package “defied the lessons of history and common sense.”
Really? Paul Krugman (who “only” won a Nobel Prize in economics) said that the stimulus was too small. He pointed out that WWII spending is what finally got us out of the great depression (President Roosevelt had an economic stall when he tried to balance the budget too soon) and that our current debt is a smaller percentage than our post WWII debt.

Lessons of history? Well, take Palin’s word over Krugman’s if you like. 🙂

Oh yes, she seems to indicate that President Obama could learn from her daughter Bristol.

p. 360: “I wish we had talked more about them (Ayers) and about Obama’s close relationship with ACORN, the voter-fraud specialists.”

I don’t know how to describe this statement: stupid and unethical?
Here is a non-partisan fact check:

The McCain-Palin campaign accuses ACORN, a community activist group that operates nationwide, of perpetrating “massive voter fraud.” It says Obama has “long and deep” ties to the group. We find both claims to be exaggerated. But we also find Obama has understated the extent of his work with the group.

o Neither ACORN nor its employees have been found guilty of, or even charged with, casting fraudulent votes. What a McCain-Palin Web ad calls “voter fraud” is actually voter registration fraud. Several ACORN canvassers have been found guilty of faking registration forms and others are being investigated. But the evidence that has surfaced so far shows they faked forms to get paid for work they didn’t do, not to stuff ballot boxes.

o Obama’s path has intersected with ACORN on several occasions – more often than he allowed in the final debate.

The “fraud” consisted of some drunks signing up “Donald Duck” and “Mikey Mouse” as registered voters so as to pad their statistics and get paid more. ACORN flagged these cards and there is zero evidence that Mr. Duck or Mr. Mouse voted. 🙂

page 363: she complains that she got a bill after the campaign which included 50,000 dollars for her being vetted. Is that true?

But what appeared to upset her most was that about $50,000 of the legal bills was her share of the expenses for being vetted to become McCain’s running mate, Palin writes.

In her book — which is due to be released Tuesday, but which the Associated Press purchased Thursday — Palin said that no one had informed her she would have to take care of any expenses related to the selection process.

Palin writes that when she asked officials at the Republican National Committee and the McCain campaign if they would help her financially, she was told that the bills would have been paid if the Arizona senator had won the presidency, but since he lost, the bills were her responsibility.

Trevor Potter, general counsel for the McCain campaign, told the Associated Press that the campaign had never asked Palin to pay a legal bill.

“To my knowledge, the campaign never billed Gov. Palin for any legal expenses related to her vetting, and I am not aware of her ever asking the campaign to pay legal expenses that her own lawyers incurred for the vetting process,” he said.

Potter said that if Palin’s personal lawyer billed her for any work related to her vetting, “we are unaware of it. It was never raised with the campaign.”

p. 364: she takes up for Newt Gingrish: “instead of defending their own, Republicans on certain committees forced Newt to concede to one charge”.


In his final opportunity to defend his client Friday night before the House ethics committee, an attorney for Newt Gingrich conceded that the speaker had made “glaringly inconsistent” statements to the panel’s investigative subcommittee about a politically oriented college course financed with tax-exempt funds.

The concession was among the most dramatic of any Gingrich representative. The speaker in December admitted to having provided inaccurate information to the ethics panel. The full ethics committee on Friday voted 7 to 1, just two hours after the comments by Gingrich attorney J. Randolph Evans, to recommend a $300,000 penalty and a formal reprimand of the Georgia Republican, concluding a week of partisan wrangling that convulsed the Capitol. The committee vote is likely to be followed by approval of the sanctions by the full House when it votes on the recommendation Tuesday.

The ethics panel’s subcommittee originally accepted special counsel James M. Cole’s proposal that Gingrich be charged with submitting information he “knew or should have known” was false. But in exchange for Gingrich admitting his guilt, the panel altered the charge, deleting the word “knew,” in what amounted to a plea bargain.

A review of the committee’s toughly worded 214-page report and of a six-inch stack of investigative documents released yesterday shows that Gingrich repeatedly declined to acknowledge the inaccuracies in statements he made to the ethics subcommittee until last November — weeks after the panel had announced publicly that it was expanding the inquiry to include the veracity of his answers to investigators.

The documents released yesterday also contain new references to the importance Gingrich placed on using a college course he taught, called Renewing American Civilization, to further his grand plan to win a Republican majority in the House. And they disclose that one foundation used to fund an earlier televised town meeting transferred to GOPAC, the political action committee Gingrich then headed, $42,500 more than it had borrowed. The subcommittee was unable to interview the accountant involved because she asserted “a constitutional privilege,” the committee report said.

p 365. “I had spent less on travel and personal expenses than my last two predecessors, despite having a much larger family”. Sure, but even if she meant “over two years compared to their average two years”, she spent much of the time on the 2008 campaign trail. Duh. Then there is this:

PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking “only” for reasonably priced rooms and not “often” going for the “high-end, robe-and-slippers” hotels.

THE FACTS: Although travel records indicate she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) overlooking New York City’s Central Park for a five-hour women’s leadership conference in October 2007. With air fare, the cost to Alaska was well over $3,000. Event organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter. The governor billed her state more than $20,000 for her children’s travel, including to events where they had not been invited, and in some cases later amended expense reports to specify that they had been on official business.

p. 388: “The mortgage crisis that triggered the collapse of our financial markets was rooted in a well-meaning but wrongheaded desire to increase home ownership among people who could not yet afford a home”.
Actually, it was packaging risky mortgages into other investments and selling them as bonds is what caused it, as did some very bad assumptions (if a home owner defaulted, the value of the home was assumed to be worth more that what was owed…and that ceased to be true in many cases).

p. 388: “President Obama put the United States on track to double its already staggering national deficit.”

I think that she meant “national debt” and if she said that, it is true but:
1. Obama is using more honest accounting.
2. Much of the future projected debt was from obligations made under President Bush.

p. 391: Palin claims that President Reagan faced a worse recession. False, though this avoided the “pants on fire” rating.

Instances of “attitude”
Note: I am not saying that these are negative, but rather pointing out the tone of the book:

p. 15: “…my life truly began. I became a mom.”

pp. 18-19: says that all Alaskan animals “have a place: right next to the mashed potatoes.”

p. 67: was amused when a male politician appeared to be uncomfortable with her breast feeding.

p. 111: “Kris is a kick-butt, tell-it-like-it-is soccer mom” (eyeroll)

p. 145: “The guy was right about this much: a few of our forty representatives and twenty senators did appear to need adult supervision.”

p. 287 she quotes Margaret Thatcher: “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman”.

(yeah right…I wonder where most science and engineering advances came from? 🙂 )

page 43:
Palin talked about some of the beauty pageants that she entered. She said that she was reluctant at first:

Linda also reminded me that the scholarship money was generous, especially if I won individual competitions within the pageant, in addition to the Miss Wasilla crown. I enlisted the advice of a fomer pageant winner, my friend Diane Minnick. Then I shocked my friends and family, put on a sequined Warrior-red gown, danced the opening numbers, gave the interview, and uncomfortably let my butt be compared to the cheerleader’s butts. I played my flute and I won. In fact, I wond every segment of the competition, even Miss Congeniality.

Encore post: Mitt Romney’s book “No Apology” (hardback version)

Note: this was written on July 1, 2012 and reproduced from my old blog.

I finished Mitt Romney’s book No Apology (hardback edition). I’ll give a brief summary and then follow the summary with some specifics.

Brief Summary

In many ways, Mr. Romney’s book is a decent book; it is well written and it is at its best when it explains things like economic metrics. Note: Mr. Romney wrote this himself; he didn’t use a ghostwriter.

I can recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the 2012 election. I also recommend Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope as a counter…a different vision.

Mr. Romney’s book contains one amusing inconsistency: he, at times, correctly points out that anecdotal arguments are weak and not to be trusted…and then he provides data (sometimes appropriate data) to back up his argument. Then at other times…well, Mr. Romney provides anecdotal arguments!

Mr. Romney also takes a “daddy knows best” tone in many places, suggesting that the rest of the world “know its place” (e. g. that it isn’t up with the United States). In domestic matters, at times it appears that Mr. Romney feels that some (the wealthy?) “know best” and that others just be quiet and listen.

He talks about the importance of The American Dream (to raise one’s economic status) all the while talking up policies that, well, retard that dream.

Still, the book contains an adult discussion of ideas in the way that Sarah Palin’s book does not and has gotten me to at least acknowledge some points of view that hadn’t occurred to me before.

And yes, this book is light years ahead of Sarah Palin’s book. There is no comparison at all.

Detailed Reaction
I think that the strongest part of his book is the first 9 chapters where he gives a detailed discussion of policies. He admits early on that his discussion will be brief because the details are inherently complicated. Still, the outline is reasonably well done.

In the last two chapters he does his fatherly finger wagging. Social conservatives will love this part, but this is the most fact-free region of the book; little is backed up by data here. Instead, he attacks strawmen and relies on anecdotes.


Mr. Romney appears to be interested in education. He points out that we are lagging in the mathematical/technical areas and he points out that our slipping standings in the world rankings (e. g., how we do on science tests) isn’t merely due to poor and minority students dragging the scores down.

He makes the point that the United States tends to NOT pay its teachers well and that we draw them from the bottom 1/3’rd of the college graduating classes, whereas other countries take their teachers from much higher up.

He talks about his experiences as governor and he makes some interesting claims:
First, he says that the quality of the teachers has the biggest impact on how well the students learn. I don’t know how to evaluate this metric, though I think that teacher excellence is a key factor.

Next, he says that there is no correlation between student achievement and class size, and he presents data that charts student achievement versus class size. Wow, that is impressive…until you realize that the class size charts list class sizes from 10 students to 18 students!


Professionally done studies often use a class size of 17 for the cut-off point for a “small class” and use a mid-20’s size for the larger class sizes. And yes, some schools are dealing with class sizes in the 40’s.

Mr. Romney also presents a chart on “spending per pupil”. What I’d like to know: what is this spending for? Is it spending on things like free lunches, breakfast, after school programs and the like? Then sure, you could make a case that spending (by the school system) and student achievement don’t correlate.

He talks about how “teaching to the test” isn’t a bad thing and that there is a need for teacher accountability for how well the students do. Ironically, he touts Finland as a country that has had success in educational outcomes:

In the United States, which has muddled along in the middle for the past decade, government officials have attempted to introduce marketplace competition into public schools. In recent years, a group of Wall Street financiers and philanthropists such as Bill Gates have put money behind private-sector ideas, such as vouchers, data-driven curriculum and charter schools, which have doubled in number in the past decade. President Obama, too, has apparently bet on compe­tition. His Race to the Top initiative invites states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers, a philosophy that would not fly in Finland. “I think, in fact, teachers would tear off their shirts,” said Timo Heikkinen, a Helsinki principal with 24 years of teaching experience. “If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.”

There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.

Emphasis mine. Yes, this bolsters Mr. Romney’s claim that excellent teachers make a huge difference. But it counters him on some of his other most important points: Finland does NOT measure teachers by the their student’s test scores and…yes, they have a strong teacher’s union.

Mr. Romney spends a few pages attacking teacher’s unions. He doesn’t say that they shouldn’t exist or that they shouldn’t bargain hard. He says that politicians (especially, surprise, Democratic politicians) are afraid of them (really?) and that the teacher’s unions strength undermines academic achievement. Of course he provides no data, only anecdotes.

The actual data, even within the United States, at least suggests otherwise:

Average 2009 NAEP Score By State Teacher Contract Laws

States with binding teacher contracts
4th grade: Math 240.0 Reading 220.7
8th grade: Math 282.1 Reading 263.7

States without binding teacher contracts
4th grade: Math 237.7 Reading 217.5
8th grade: Math 281.2 Reading 259.5

As the table shows, the states in which there are no teachers covered under binding agreements score lower than the states that have them. Moreover, even though they appear small, all but one of these (8th grade math) are rather large differences.

To give an idea of the size, I ranked each state (plus Washington D.C.) by order of its performance —its average score on each of the four NAEP exams – and then averaged the four ranks. The table below presents the average rank for the non-contract states.

Average Rank Across 4 NAEP Tests
Next to each state is its average rank

Virginia……. 16.6
Texas……… 27.3
N. Carolina.. 27.5
S. Carolina…38.9

Out of these 10 states, only one (Virginia) has an average rank above the median, while four are in the bottom 10, and seven are in the bottom 15. These data make it very clear that states without binding teacher contracts are not doing better, and the majority are actually among the lowest performers in the nation.

In contrast, nine of the 10 states with the highest average ranks are high coverage states, including Massachusetts, which has the highest average score on all four tests.

If anything, it seems that the presence of teacher contracts in a state has a positive effect on achievement.

Now, some may object to this conclusion. They might argue that I can’t possibly say that teacher contracts alone caused the higher scores in these states. They might say that there are dozens of other observed and unobserved factors that influence achievement, such as state laws, lack of resources, income, parents’ education, and curriculum, and that these factors are responsible for the lower scores in the 10 non-contract states.

My response: Exactly.

Big Business and the economy
Mr. Romney has some interesting things to say here. Much to my surprise (and delight) he admits that regulations ARE necessary, if for no other reason, to level the playing field for honest companies. He also chides some businesses for being too short sighted and he admits that there is a role for government to play furthering basic research, much of which is unlikely to be economically profitable in the short term.

But, true to form, he goes with the “taxes prevent businesses from reinvesting”. He never mentions where customer demand is going to come from; supply side economists rarely do.

He makes one interesting swipe at President Obama: he chides the President for talking about how big businesses can afford to have their meetings in very expensive, very lavish resorts. Of course, the President’s point is that the problem is NOT that big businesses don’t have enough cash; they have plenty. They don’t have enough demand to warrant hiring more people.

In his “finger wagging” section, Mr. Romney talks about our society being one in which people have the freedom to take risks and fail; but the successes are what make our country great. What Mr. Romney fails to mention is that our society has less social mobility than other societies; that is, the rules Mr. Romney wants to impose would make the American Dream even harder to attain. Witness his recent remarks about higher education; “get all you can afford.” Hmmm, and he doesn’t think it relevant that he came from a wealthy family?

Mr. Romney talks a bit about the economically disadvantaged families (and the usual finger wagging at single parent families) and he points out (correctly) that some safety net rules DISCOURAGE poor couples with kids from marrying. I agree that should be fixed. However his fix is the usual Republican one: get more stingy rather than to get more generous.

He has this idea that rewarding the rich even more will make them work harder and that making the poor work harder for less is good. (???)

Economic Issues
Perhaps the best feature of the book is how he explains things like the housing bubble (excellent graph showing what happened) and how one measures claims such as “China spends X on defense”. Of course, on the housing bubble, I wish he had hit the greedy lenders a bit harder(the ones who issued the sub-prime loans and didn’t worry about default because “housing prices always go up”). But he took some appropriate shots at the financial speculators and the problems with the rare events and how the models didn’t account for those.

He talks a bit about TARP; here the Bush version is good, the Obama version is bad, but hey, this is a political book. 🙂

This part is the best the book has to offer; I can recommend it.

Energy Policy
When you read his take on energy, you will be reminded that this was written prior to the BP spill and prior to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Still, the energy mix he talks about makes sense. Yes, he talks about nuclear and yes, he doesn’t seem to mention the problem with uranium mining and the disposal of nuclear waste. As far as Fukushima: remember that those plants started construction in 1967 and went online in 1971; they were literally 40 years old and the design was over 50 years old. We can do much better now.

As far as domestic energy development: he admits that more drilling won’t bring down prices and that over production would be a mistake. He is in favor of exploration and developing the capacity for production as a type of “energy reserve”.
He is in favor of conservation measures (e. g., giving tax credits or breaks for energy efficient vehicles) which he thinks will encourage better fuel efficiency standards. He also seems to be in favor of encouraging more efficiency by a gradual program to make energy more expensive; he is in favor of things like tax swaps (raise energy taxes while lowering another tax in return).

Yes, Mr. Romney discusses climate change and thinks that human activity probably contributed to it. He expresses concern at the possibility that if the United States takes large, expensive measures to cut emissions that the other developing countries (India, China) won’t. He recommends following a “no regrets” policy: taking measures that we will be glad that we took even if it turns out that the climate change skeptics were right. He also says we should work with the global community.

Health Care
In chapter 7, he gives an excellent defense of Obamacare, though he is talking about Romneycare. 🙂

Foreign Policy
This is the weakest part of the “policy section.” Of course, he blasts the Obama “apology tour”; this is one of the Zombie Lies that Mr. Romney insists on running with. Reading this: I get the feeling that Mr. Romney desperately wants a contest of the United States vs. Everyone Else, though he is eager to set up some bogeymen. Sure, the terrorists are awful (and probably don’t approve of President Obama either 🙂 ) and yes, this stuff was written prior to the killing of Bin Laden.

Mr. Romney quotes some interesting works. He mentions Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel and seems to have only partially read it (crib notes version?) Diamond does claim that a region’s geography can heavily influence how the society develops, but then Mr. Romney accuses him of underplaying the value of “culture”. That sort of misses the point: a region’s geography heavily determines HOW a culture can develop (e. g., the society first needs to become efficient enough to have a class of people who don’t have to be concerned with food gathering, /hunting/growing on a full time basis to allow for a culture to develop in the first place).

Mr. Romney also mentions Fareed Zakaria’s book The Post-American World. What Mr. Romney doesn’t seem to understand is that the decline that Mr. Zakaria talks about is a relative one: other countries are rapidly catching up.

Mr. Romney attacks President Obama over reduced military spending not seeming to care that much of the reduction comes from admitting that the cold war is really over and that there new challenges. After all, drones are cheaper than bombers or “boots on the ground.”

Mr. Romney says that he wants a commitment to defense spending to be at least 4 percent of GDP.

The Finger Wagging
The last two chapters are the weakest part; reading them I get the feeling that he was growing tired of the book and just wanted to finish the writing. I’ve mentioned some of the finger wagging already.

I’ll give you an example. On page 261 he dismisses those who want to legalize marijuana:

Some of the battles of the sixties still linger, however, as with the current push to legalize marijuana, which reflects the passion and zeal of those members of the pleasure-seeking generation that never grew up. Their arguments are elaborate but empty-a great nation has never been built on hedonism.

Such nonsense! I favor legalization of marijuana (and other drugs) and I have never used it (or them) and never plan to. I just think that our war on drugs has been costly and has fueled the rise in prison population and the rise in drug related crime.

Mr. Romney spends a lot of time lecturing the poor on their lack of morals without considering that perhaps the economic situation (the dearth of good paying blue collar jobs) lead to the morality situation rather than the other way around.

He did have some interesting things to say though. While he was governor, he sometimes spent the day doing different jobs (e. g. working as a garbage collector). And he described the “feeling of being invisible” to the public! That was a good thing to talk about; kudos to him on that.

But, on the whole, the last chapters seemed to be aimed at the “1 percent”; people who do things like this.

Mr. Romney mentions his religion in passing (e. g., “when I was doing this as a church leader, I saw that”) and mostly doesn’t make a big deal out of it. He even throws a small bone to atheists.

Ok, onk, the passage on page 5, chapter 1 invites ridicule:

My father knew what it meant to pursue the difficult. He was born in Mexico, where his Mormon grandparents had move to escape religious persecution.

That is, his grandfather wanted to practice polygamy; this makes me smirk when I read Mr. Romney’s lectures about “one man, one woman” stuff:

COLONIA JUAREZ, Mexico — Three dozen of Mitt Romney’s relatives live here in a narrow river valley at the foot of the western Sierra Madre mountains, surrounded by peach groves, apple orchards and some of the baddest, most fearsome drug gangsters and kidnappers in all of northern Mexico.

Like Mitt, the Mexican Romneys are descendants of Miles Park Romney, who came to the Chihuahua desert in 1885 seeking refuge from U.S. anti-polygamy laws. He had four wives and 30 children, and on the rocky banks of the Piedras Verdes River, he and his fellow Mormon pioneers carved out a prosperous settlement beyond the reach of U.S. federal marshals. He was Mitt’s great-grandfather.

THIS is the “religious persecution” that Mr. Romney speaks of…and he wants to lecture the rest of us on social norms? Really???

The cultural divide and Biden’s candidacy

I have no idea as to who will win the Democratic nomination. Right now Biden leads pretty much everywhere, though his competition is gaining on him in Iowa. He remains the betting odds favorite.

Regardless of how he does, reactions to what he does is telling. Consider this action:

Predictably…this action grated on certain types of women (liberal, highly educated feminists)

And does NOT bother other types:

Yes, there IS a divide, even among women who do not like Trump, at all….even among those who would flip off a Trump building. One of these flat out told me: “those feminists simply do not speak to me.”
And yes, at my job I work with a lot of the “woke” feminists who appear to be on a hair trigger for any hint of “sexism” and, in my personal life, I am good friends..dear friends who see asymmetries between men and women as just part of life. Many are ok with it..even embrace it.

And, IMHO, Joe Biden will be much more popular with the second type of Democratic woman. And the first type of Democratic woman is NOT in the majority. And I think that Democrats need to understand this..not understanding it could be fatal.

Note: I do NOT share the author’s confidence in Elizabeth Warren, though…well, that is a topic for another post. There is much I like about her; it is her show-biz skills and “ability to attract previously disinterested voters” that cause me concern, as does her tepid approval rating in Massachusetts. (49 percent approval via Morning Consult; Jan 2019) And she isn’t doing that well in her state in the candidate polls, currently trailing Joe Biden by 12 points 22-10.

But..Warren is turning some heads with her “policy first”..”I’ve got a plan” for that, and these plans are not only policy plans, but “how I plan to move it through Congress” plans.

And Paul Krugman has some interesting things to say (sent out in a newsletter to NYT subscribers …it has not appeared as an article as yet so I am reproducing it here:

More than six months ago, I wrote a column titled “Elizabeth Warren and her party of ideas,” in which I described Warren as the closest modern equivalent to the role once played by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a serious intellectual turned influential politician. The article was, in effect, a plea for the news media to tone down the traditional obsession with “likeability” — the modern version of “a guy you’d like to have a beer with” — and pay attention to candidates’ policy proposals.
To be honest, I fully expected the column to be a tree falling in the forest, where nobody could hear it. And for the next few months, my pessimism seemed justified. In fact, many pundits seemed to have written Warren off. Nevertheless, as Mitch McConnell famously complained, she persisted.
And something strange has happened: Bit by bit, policy proposal by policy proposal, Warren has been clawing her way into the position of a major contender. People are showing up at campaign rallies wearing “Warren has a plan for that” T-shirts. There has also been a startling shift in the media narrative, with a spate of articles — most recently in today’s Times — marveling at the way Warren’s wonkiness has become a defining, popular piece of personal branding. Pundits are even starting to say that her policy earnestness makes her … likable.
Will she actually get the nomination? Could she win if she did? I have absolutely no idea. Neither, by the way, does anyone else.
But there is one point I think even the somewhat bemused pro-Warren punditry is missing. There’s a reason, beyond being smart and well-informed, that Warren is able to come up with so many interesting policy ideas. Namely, there is a huge gap between what inside-the-Beltway opinion considers serious policy and what actual policy researchers have to say. This creates what I think of as the Great Wonk Window: a surprisingly wide range of policy areas where a politician can be simultaneously radical by conventional political standards and solidly grounded in expert analysis.
One example is taxation of the rich. Conventional wisdom is still obsessed with the notion that taxing high incomes and/or giant fortunes will have dangerous effects on incentives. Actual experts in public finance have, however, long argued that substantially higher top-end taxation is justified — and Warren devised her wealth-tax plan with help from Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, superstars in the field.
Another example is child care, where there is a large body of evidence that investments in child care pay back significant dividends in both the short run — by helping mothers remain employed — and in the long run, because well-cared-for children grow up into more productive adults.
So as I said, there’s a surprisingly big window for politically radical but economically sound policy. And Warren clearly both knows that this window exists and is trying to use the resulting opening to promote her agenda.
Whether she or anyone else will manage to climb through that window remains to be seen. But opening the wonk window is, at least potentially, a really big deal.

The dangerous, well intentioned lies we tell…

Disclaimer: my fitness history can be described by this: I played sports in high school, was a “workout bro” as a young man (best 10K was 39:50 (at 195 lb. body weight), best bench was 310, (at 230 lb.). then ballooned to 320 lbs in my early 30’s, lost it and became an “old workout bro” as an older guy…got back to 41:30 for 10k and 225+ in my late 30’ 56-57 min for the 10K, 200 lb. for the bench at a body weight of 188.

That is, I know what is like to be very fat and to try to work out as a very fat person. My waist was up to size 52, I could not do a single pull up and it took me 36 minutes to walk 2 miles (3.2 km) when I was walking as hard as I could.

Yes, I kept working out anyway (and yes, got some “fat-ass” cat-calls). I didn’t like it but it didn’t stop me.

So, I approve of fat people working out and there is nothing wrong with a company making workout clothes for the obese.

And there is nothing wrong with giving obese people honest, heart-felt encouragement.

But I will NOT lie.

And so, we have this post:

Yet the new Nike mannequin is not size 12, which is healthy, or even 16 – a hefty weight, yes, but not one to kill a woman. She is immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat. She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement. […]

The fat-acceptance movement, which says that any weight is healthy if it is yours, is no friend to women, even if it does seem to have found a friend in Nike. It may, instead, kill them, and that is rather worse than feeling sad. Fat-acceptance is an artifice of denial – they are fat because they do not accept themselves – and a typically modern solution to a problem, if you are a narcissist. It says: there is no problem. Or if there is, it’s yours, not mine. As soothing as that may be to hear, your organs and your skeleton will not agree. […]

The facts are obvious. Stay that weight and you will be an old woman in your 50s. The obese Nike athlete is just another lie.

I agree.

Yes, being obese shouldn’t stop you from trying and shame on those who lampoon obese people who try to work out. But that is just the start of the journey…not the end or even halfway.

OF COURSE, the article I linked to lead to cries of …FAT PHOBIA.


Note: she “ran” 6:04 as someone in the 18-39 age group (according to the London Marathon “search results” application). That might be ok for someone in their late 50’s early 60’s (yes, I walked a 6:14 last fall..100 percent walking) but hardly running…and wait until she reaches her 50’s.

Yes, yes, much better than staying on the couch but it hardly rebuts the original post.

I see it this way. Consider a marathon. You need to get to mile 5 before you get to mile 15, and 15 before you get to 21, and 21 before you get to the 26.2 finish. There is no denying that. And yes, it is fine to say “good job” at mile 5, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to act as if they have arrived when they got to that point.

And obesity can harm one’s health, degrade one’s quality of life and, yes, kill. I’ve had two friends, a relative and a favorite professor die at least indirectly because of it.

Oh Uncle Joe

I like Joe Biden. And yes, he speaks with a warmth that others do not have. But, at times…his precision is lacking.

Ok, he is a human gaffe machine. Latest example:

The former vice-president, whose son died of brain cancer in 2015, told supporters on Tuesday: “I promise you if I’m elected president you’re going to see the single most important thing that changes America. We’re going to cure cancer.”

His words were met with cheers and applause at the event in the city of Ottumwa.

I know, I know…this was a statement that was meant metaphorically as in “this is the type of thing we are going to focus on” and by no means a promise to “cure cancer” (which, in and of itself, a nonsensical phrase).

And he’d be running against Trump who outright lies all of the time.

Still..if he is our nominee I’d better stock up on antacid tablets ’cause he is going to give me some serious heartburn.