Like voting: not all unicorns and rainbows

It has now been two weeks since my injection. So the report: definitely better, but not perfect.

Example: I walked home from the gym without fear of pain; I wasn’t limping when I got home. I can handle six 2 mile walks per week. Less pain when doing the crawl.

BUT some pain is there (in dulled form) and I have to mind my posture. And it is still 40 minutes of PT every danged day… that is not going to change.

I can sympathize with those who hate working out at all; my PT is like that: unrewarding but necessary.

And voting is like that. You aren’t going to get everything you want. If you get even a 1/3 or even a 1/4 of what you want, you chose wisely, especially if that fraction is from your most important items.

Workout notes: started my PT late and didn’t walk before..didn’t want to walk in the rain after.

Swim:

600 of the usual alternating side and back

200 of the usual front kick, free

200 in 3:38 with 50 back (too slow but I had no one to chase)

200 in 3:32 with 50 back (better)

100 in 1:42 with 50 back

100 in 1:42 with 50 back

50 in 0:48 with 50 back

50 in 0:47 with 50 back

200 pull in 3:36 (easy effort)

Weight: 205 afterward (probably bloated again)

Not throwing your political money away..

I’ve wondered w-ehat purpose political bomb throwers serve; by “bomb throwers” I mean MTG, Boebert, “Gym” Jordan, and on our side, “The Squad” (AOC, etc.), Bernie Sanders, etc.

They tend to come from “safe districts” (very unlikely to lose in the general), are very, very noisy, seek out cameras, but, ultimately, don’t do anything. Their legislative records are all but non-existent, at least in terms of bills signed into law (they may well “introduce” nonsense bills that never see the light of day).

Part of me thinks that all they are doing is taking up space that might otherwise be filled by a more competent politician.

BUT…there is this:

OMG, NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

That would be throwing money way. Boebert represents a “solid Republican” district (per Cook Report and just about every reputable political ratings source)

Sorry to say but outside money supporting the Democrat is basically throwing away said money.

It would be FAR better to take that money and give it to a toss-up race.

I know it is far sexier to feel you are a part of “taking down” some camera hungry blowhard but ..not only is the likelihood low, there are far less sexy but important races where said money would make a real difference, like this one.

Overall the Republicans lead the Congressional generic ballot by about 2.5 points, which is bad news since the D’s typically underperform (Democratic districts tend to be super D, R’s not quite as much)

Game changers

Potentially massive shocks to the system here. One of course, is the pro-life ruling from the Supreme Court (I think the pro “can lead prayer in public schools” ruling might have lesser impact).

Then today’s Select Committee testimony was..OMG.

Bottom line: Trump knew the people marching to the Capitol were armed and he WANTED them to go anyway. I did not include the video where Hutchinson said that someone else told her that Trump lunged at the Secret Service driver and had to be restrained; she was reporting what was told to her. I’ll suspend judgement on that part.

Now about the claim it is just hearsay:

Well, these things are coming along BEFORE midterms and can the Democrats capitalize? Maybe..maybe not.

Can Democrats survive college educated activists?

There is more to the clip than the title of the post, but it does appear that Democrats are finding it harder and harder to communicate to the average voter (addressed in the video: “Latinx”, “men get pregnant too”, “people with a uterus”, etc.)

So, I wonder…if I were hiring staff for my campaign, I’d have my best experienced staff go over how to communicate with the typical voter and explain the difference between this situation and what they experienced as a student.

But there is something else going on, I think.

Think about the younger college educated people. Many can emotionally manipulate their parents and colleges…yelling and throwing tantrums gets them listened to.

So, why wouldn’t the rest of society work like that?

There was a time when you were told “listen more, talk less.” “You are new here; learn first…THEN talk.”

Now…every parent thinks their kid is a genius and, too often, their egos are inflated at college.

The only reason I have hope is that this Supreme Court IS a bit behind the times. Their latest ruling IS unpopular and…there are some hopeful signs:

Now, this could be an outlier poll. BUT…if there is some truth to this..maybe all is not lost.

Shallow activism

If you are wondering: yes, there has quite a bit of social media traffic about the abortion ruling. But they TYPE of traffic depends on the type of person.

The “not usually political” type were mostly anger about men being trying to be too controlling:

There was the usual “STFU if you don’t have a uterus”,

“ban Viagra; your impotence was God’s Will too”, etc.

There was one anguished “I think Biden is a moron but I have to vote for him because R’s are so awful” video.

Side note: I LIKE Biden; anyone who thinks poorly of him should ask how he won a Senate seat at age 29 under his own steam. But this is the video:

Even a libertarian (gun loving), not even remotely liberal friend was steamed.

(Justice Jackson will replace Justice Breyer this summer)

The reactions were a bit different in my political circles.

Since the verdict, Democrats and liberals have mostly attacked each other and things have gotten tense. Common flash points: Hillary Clinton. Some feel we should have nominated someone better (or not as polarizing or someone better at campaigning) . Others are steamed that some didn’t make the distinction between her and Trump (“not my circus, not my monkeys”) and are now howling about the ruling.

People like me are angry about the purity tests that some on the left have, some are angry at moderates for not fighting harder (whatever that means).

What I honestly believe is that too much of our response is performative: go to a protest and say I AM MAD, I JUST HAAAAAATE YOU…..which does nothing at all.

Harsh reality: the conservatives have laid out a deep foundation starting at local levels and moving up..complete with a pipeline of judges.

This article is harsh medicine but I think accurate and well worth reading.

And performance it is…I had to scroll past and mute mentions of AOC who..of course, has the microphone but in reality hasn’t done squat.

She has sponsored 0 bills that have been signed into law, signed on to cosponsor 23, (with 100’s of others), and 17 of these were naming post offices, commemorative coins, medals, etc.

Check out her record.

I have little confidence that we’ll move forward as our side seems to need instant gratification ..the very idea of slowly advancing is just anathema to too many Democrats.

And, OF COURSE, the woke are going to woke. I talked about the ACLU’s stupid response. And you see this:

What about MEEEEEEE …just never ceases. And yes, many of my not-in-woke-circles have never heard of this, believe me, the Republicans will ensure that the voters in competitive races will hear of it.

From the right: I am seeing some spiking the ball.

Sure, this is the logically correct response but..in general people (myself included) are not that reasonable and if one wants to be good at politics, one has to take that into account.

The TL;DR summary: yes, people are angry and a united, competent political party could take advantage of it. But Democrats won’t; too many of the young ones want to cater to the tiny percentage of woke outliers and too many of the old ones don’t realize how right wing current Republicans have become.

The Long Game: revenge of the Turtle.

Yes, that is the name of his book, which I reviewed.

Yes, McConnell failed in his attempt to limit President Obama to one term. Utterly. But he is riding high now.

And why do I harp on this? Well, I think this observation is spot on:

And that is how The Turtle did it. He fought dirty. He had an alliance with someone he could not stand. And he got his judges.

And there is so much here..so much that seems unfair and is totally frustrating.

The reality is that the Electoral College and the Senate is wildly skewed to the low population states. We can’t change that without an amendment to the Constitution which requires clearing a very high hurdle:

So given that isn’t going to happen, we need to win more Congressional races, especially in the Senate. And given how the states are, that means electing more red state Democrats..more Ben Nelsons and Joe Manchins.

But what do you see: cries of “primary them!.”

We hear “the Democrats need to take off the gloves.” Well…in my opinion, we are “nice” because not being nice …”offends other Democrats.”

Hell, when we even attempt to speak on an issue, the woke language police is right there to attempt to police our statements.

And the ACLU’s messaging was a complete disaster.

Really???? We can’t even say “abortion is a women’s rights issue?”

Yes, some biological females who transition to male can and do get pregnant but good lord, not everything is about the sensibilities of a tiny percentage of the population.

And of course, there is the idea that conservatives are more regular voters than liberals; liberals are prone to sitting out if they don’t get what they want (e. g. student loan forgiveness, or whatever).

So, where to go from here?

Well, we’ll get the usual “I am leaving the country” (psst: other countries won’t take you unless you have something to offer them..and IMHO most who say this are total losers)

Pussy hat marches? Yeah, that’ll teach them.
Hash tags? Sure…they are trembling.

Pack the court? How? You need the votes. We don’t have them. And remember you are the one who won’t vote for a D unless they are a Bernie or AOC.

Eliminate the filibuster! How? We don’t have the votes. Senate is 50/50 and dependent on a D from a Trump +39 state.

Oh…”they have pissed off the wrong generation.” Sure.

Today’s liberals are mostly product of higher education. Screaming, writing manifestos, occupying the college chancellor’s office might get attention..on a college campus. Off campus is very, very different.

You are MAD? No one cares..people only care to the degree that you have something to either offer or withhold from them. And too many of the loudest voices have zilch that anyone else wants.

If there is any hope at all, take a look at this:

In 2021, it was women 52-43 pro choice, men 50-45 pro life.

2022: women are now 61-33 pro choice, men 48-47 pro choice.

It appears to matter more. Silver lining, or wishful thinking on my part?

And there is economic power. Some of us have money to spend, and maybe let corporations know that we’ll favor businesses in good states over those in regressive ones? I see no other card to play.

Jan 6 hearings

I’ve been watching some of the testimony of the hearings. You can find everything here.

Much of it is damming.

But this very person:

Bottom line: this might make Trump more unpopular with those in the mushy middle, and it might hurt Trump’s chances of winning the nomination again. But..it isn’t going to flip a hard core Republican.

Yes, I am worried about President Biden. I like him but he has clearly lost a couple of steps (though he had steps to lose to begin with). But..our political bench is so bare.

Oh..maybe you disagree, but I honestly think that we have a big problem:

Our candidates come from mostly elite universities where the social justice jargon is common (“Latinx”, “BIPOC”, “cis-gender”.. lots of different new pronouns ), all made up by academic “activists” or researchers.

It is one thing to use lingo in one’s academic work or at an academic; yes, I say things like “let X be a compact 3-manifold without boundary and let Y be a topological embedding of S^1” but I’d never speak that way in public.

People who want to be good at politics need to learn how to communicate with the public! They have to say stuff and have the public WANT to listen.

And our instincts are just terrible. For one: if we see a “community” that we consider marginalized, we’ll bend over backwards, often to the point of absurdity to placate them.

And too often, our candidates appear to run on issues that poll well, instead of running on, well, attitude.

Example: yes, raising the minimum wage polls well. And you ask: “Yeah, we should.”

But a candidate that runs on the message: “we will raise the minimum wage and be more generous to poor people” isn’t going to win on that.

After all, who wants to make minimum wage? Who wants to be poor? Sure, we might want to help out, but IMHO, “help the poor” isn’t a winning slogan.

People aspire to do things. They want success. YES, WE CAN: uplifitng. Hand UP, not hand out: yes. No surprise those were the slogans from our most successful Democratic Presidential candidates.

January 6 commission ..

I put a couple of highlights. And I have some thoughts:

  1. The riot: Yes, it was an attempt, albeit one doomed to fail, to overturn a legal election that they did not like.
  2. The violence was sickening.
  3. The desecration of our Capitol was outrageous. I cannot imagine old school Republicans behaving that way, but for some reason, decency is long gone.

Nevertheless, while *some* Republicans will be sickened by it, I doubt it will move the election needle that much, if at all. Ultimately, the Republicans who ARE sickened by this (and some are) will vote for their tax cuts, business deregulation and judges….and they will point out that some (not all) Democrats downplayed some of the riots with the BLM protests (though claims were sometimes exaggerated or conflated with other events) along with other points of hypocrisy.

Yes, i know this is different; here we had Trump and other elected officials trying to overturn a legal election; that is very dangerous and outrageous. And yes, that is the difference between this event and the (evil) attempt to assassinate a Supreme Court justice. (he had Secret Service protection).

So, yes, members of Congress are doing the right thing; and yes, Rep. Cheney will probably lose her seat over this.

And here we are. Basically, some Republicans tried to overturn an election, which incited violence (which they enabled, encouraged or at least condoned) but people yell so darned much all of the time that few are treating this with the seriousness that this deserves. Much of the country sees this as just more partisan politics.

As far as getting others to pay attention: this is where people who rarely say much need to speak up.

The yellers and those who talk too much (e. g. me) will be tuned out. Democrats will convince no one. Principled Republicans, who we will disagree on many issues, will have to be the ones speaking up

Unhelpful Pedantry in discourse

Disclaimer: I teach math (and occasionally do math) for a living. I understand the necessity of precise language in certain situations. When it comes to, say, a mathematical theorem, meeting the hypothesis matters!

But when it comes to discussing the issues of the day, being inappropriately pedantic gets in the way.

One big example is the issue of “assault guns” in the hands of civilians. Sometimes, hard core 2’nd Amendment supporters chide liberal gun control advocates for “not knowing what an assault weapon is” or even claiming that “assault weapon” is a meaningless term.

Let’s be clear: though most who have a strong opinion on this issue is NOT a firearms expert, what is meant here is a weapon that

  1. Fires a military grade round at a military grade muzzle velocity
  2. Has a magazine that can hold multiple rounds
  3. Can fire multiple shots very quickly (not automatically) without jamming
  4. Is semiautomatic (self loading, though the trigger has to be pressed for each shot)

And yes, I know; the better known weapons (AR-15, AK-47) are examples of this kind of weapon, but are far from the only kinds out there.

They gun people know these things; one survivalist put it this way: (paraphrasing as I lost track of the book): if you have supplies like food and water, others might try to take them from you. What do you defend yourself with? Using a sporting rifle against well armed intruders is just noisy suicide.
(not my thoughts, but I cannot find the reference)

Well, the rifle that you’d want in such extreme conditions (that you can legally obtain sans a lot of extra hoops to jump through) is what we’d call an “assault rifle.”

People like me do not believe that civilians should have possession of weapons which are military caliber weapons without the automatic setting. These are for killing people effectively (or causing horrific wounds).

Jerry Coyne’s blog has a nice post on this topic.

Note: this issue is one where we have to start from where we are (our country has a LOT of these type of weapons) and we are very divided. I don’t see how a ban could work. And if you think that we have any prayer of repealing the Second Amendment, you are delusional :

Sure..we can’t even get 50 Senate votes…LOL.

I hesitate to point out that it isn’t just the conservatives that are guilty of this.

Think of Critical Race Theory and K-12 education. Technically, CRT is really a law school caliber theory to help lawyers and judges apply the law more fairly. So, no, you aren’t getting CRT in grade school.

But that is NOT what is meant when parents complain about CRT.

As Yascha Mounk writes:

The idea that critical race theory is an academic concept that is taught only at colleges or law schools might be technically accurate, but the reality on the ground is a good deal more complicated. Few middle or high schoolers are poring over academic articles written by Richard Delgado or Kimberlé Crenshaw. But across the nation, many teachers have, over the past years, begun to adopt a pedagogical program that owes its inspiration to ideas that are very fashionable on the academic left, and that go well beyond telling students about America’s copious historical sins.

In some elementary and middle schools, students are now being asked to place themselves on a scale of privilege based on such attributes as their skin color. History lessons in some high schools teach that racism is not just a persistent reality but the defining feature of America. And some school systems have even embraced ideas that spread pernicious prejudices about nonwhite people, as when a presentation to principals of New York City public schools denounced virtues such as “perfectionism” or the “worship of the written word” as elements of “white-supremacy culture.”

And parents ARE concerned and have a right to be. In my own state, a school received attention because it decided to stop “giving 0’s in the gradebook” for work not turned in because they felt that such a standard is unfair to minority students. (Note: the article I linked to has a very misleading headline: there are NOT race based standards; the standard would apply to all students in said school).

I am old enough to remember the segregation/integration wars, and I remember one argument that segregationists used was that integration would lead to an erosion of standards.

I am NOT saying that the liberal wokes are the same as the racists; they are NOT. But some of their policy prescriptions sure reminds me of stuff the racists used to say (disclaimer: I am Latino and I am sensitive to accusations that whatever success I have had was due to my meeting a lower standard).

My point: dismissing the concerns of parents by saying “LOL..your kid isn’t learning CRT” is to miss the point. It hurts dialogue and..on a political level, hurts Democrats.

Bonus topic

Yes, I’ve frequently been more critical of Democrats than Republicans for the following reason: I’ve voted Democrats for years. The current Republicans are the party of COVID denial..the party of taking deworm medicine for COVID..the party of climate change denial..the party of eroding voting rights. I want nothing to do with modern Republicans; there are no Romney/Bush/Rockerfeller/McCain types that I’d consider voting for (at the national level)

They are the party of this type of insanity:

So, I want Democrats to win, even if I can’t stand some of the social stuff they do. But my goodness, too many Democrats campaign as if they are trying to win over NPR listeners, college professors and Unitarians.

Some thoughts on this topic: Bill Maher asks Democrats to dial back on appealing to our extreme factions:

More along these line…

Race neutrality and policy: why I favor it

One of the reasons I am a Democrat is I believe that government can help make its citizen’s lives for the better; for me that includes things like safety nets for those falling on hard times AND stimulus for the economically disadvantaged.

Of course, one doesn’t get the policy that one favors unless those politicians that favor such policies get elected in large enough numbers to pass said policies, and that means winning votes from enough people.

So, how does one “get the votes?”

Given the make up of the US, the important body is the Senate, which gives 2 Senators for each state. This is important.

Now if one wants to pass some race specific policy, say one that specifically benefits Black people, one has to get enough votes to get it through the Senate. An important fact: 15 states have fewer that 5 percent Black people, and 28 have fewer than 10 percent. That represents 30 and 56 Senators respectively. The “Black vote” (which, of course, isn’t 100 percent monolithic anyway) cannot carry much, in and of itself.

And it appears that race neutral remedies are more popular with the public, on the whole. Via Matt Yglesias:

Joe Biden lost Florida this year even while winning the national popular vote by a large margin. That’s a clear sign that this longtime swing state is settling down with a distinctly reddish hue. At the same time, a referendum to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15/hour secured over 60 percent of the vote — a clear sign that this issue appeals across party lines. Polls from Pew and others routinely show 40 percent or more of self-identified Republicans backing minimum wage increases, along with overwhelming support from Democrats.

And the support isn’t just theoretical. In the 2018 cycle, states as red as Missouri and Arkansas approved minimum wage increases at the ballot box.

At the very same time, California’s Proposition 16 — which would have re-legalized affirmative action in college admissions and state contracting decisions — lost soundly in a much more progressive state where less than 40 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white.

Whatever the specific merits of these ideas, the political lesson seems fairly clear. Raising the minimum wage is more popular than the generic Democratic Party brand, while race-conscious admissions and contracting policies are less so.

He goes on to conjecture that perhaps that lesson is NOT learned on college campuses, where racial justice type programs are better received than programs to help the financially poor students. I talked more about this here.

What got me to thinking about this issue was this recent tweet from a professor:

Of course, it is important for policy experts to know the facts; and it doesn’t hurt if the public knows them as well.

But will saying “group A is much poorer than the rest of us” really drive people NOT from that group to back aid to set group?

My guess is “NO”: in the US, there is evidence that the poor and those with lesser levels of achievement are looked down on..possibly with contempt, disgust and disdain:

So pointing out that a group is not doing well might not be helpful in gaining support target to that specific group.

So, I think it would be wise to “market” such programs and policies in a race/group neutral way…and do so in an aspirational way…in terms of previous successful slogans: “Hand up, NOT hand out” and “Yes, We Can.”

Unfortunately, this goes against the grain of the “woke” wing of the party.

I hasten to point out that I am NOT saying that the logic of some of the wokes is faulty: one can point out that, in addition to segregation being legal and enforced IN MY OWN LIFETIME, one can point out practices like “redlining” and making it hard (if not impossible) for Black veterans to benefit from post WW II GI Bill programs directly impacted the current wealth inequality.

Nevertheless, when trying to win support from the majority (or plurality) that isn’t in that group, one has to take into account human psychology and to hit the right emotional tone. Something race neutral that disproportionally helps Black Americans might be more easy to get passed in Congress and signed into law.

It might not seem fair..and it might not BE fair. But policy is what we need and sometimes “by any means necessary” means communicating and packaging helpful policy in a way that does not alienate the voters that we need to have.