We have an opening vs. Trump. Will we blow it?

No, Trump’s numbers are not good, especially given the economy isn’t doing that poorly, overall. His numbers are roughly what Reagan’s were at this point in his presidency (scroll down a bit to see the comparison). And there isn’t enough “room” in the economy for him to be rescued by a “Morning in America” the way that Reagan was.

And to many, it appears as if the economy is top heavy; the benefits are…surprise…NOT trickling down and many are noticing. Add that to Trump’s toxic demeanor and he isn’t in great shape.

Yes, I know; the 2018 elections ..but remember that Obama bounced back from a rough 2010 (the were key differences; in 2010, you saw the effects of a rough health care vote AND many McCain CDs coming home to the Republicans).

Still, IMHO, the Democratic field appears to be a hot mess, and the D’s appear to have their knives out for each other:

I should probably just get off of Twitter. But you have people going after male candidates (now it is time for a WOMAN…ok, I happen to back one but I really, really like Amy Klobuchar and her sex has zero to do with it) people going after white candidates, people saying that owning a handgun ought to be disqualifying (no, NOT the Onion…USA Today!)

There are times when I don’t like liberals either…and this is one of them.

We can be so sanctimonious. And we are, at times, incapable of introspection. If anyone attempts an honest “ok, what could WE have done better in the 2016 general election” be prepared to be flamed online. That Russian interference and the Comey letter hurt us (at least a little) is undeniable. But to think that we didn’t play a part in the loss…OMG, what can I say.

Activists just don’t DO introspection ..any negative outcome is *always* the result of unfairness or the result because the other voters just aren’t as moral, informed, smart and principled as WE are. The idea that we might have alienated anyone or had a faulty strategy or used ineffective tactics is pure anathema!

Biden: a pushback candidate?

Yes, I know, I am talking a LOT about Joe Biden, and he isn’t even my candidate.  I support Amy Klobuchar, who represents my values and has a highly competent record in the Senate.

But Biden being in the race has caused some shake up.

I will explain.

I remember seeing this back in 2015 and thinking “you know, what Trump says about political correctness will resonate with many and not just with Republicans.”

Notice the applause after the “politically correctness” remark.

Seriously, people really are sick of it. And yes, that includes 33 percent of Democrats and yes, this includes a fair number of liberal intellectuals. And yes, this includes me.

Now in my case: I reject scolds of all varieties, including the right wing religious scolds.

And well, I am sensitive to this as I think it harms dialogue; all too often discussions between people devolve into shouting matches, with the competing sides being unwilling to try to see it as the other side(s) see it.

And yes, the right wing bears much of the blame (“if you disagree you are UNAMERICAN, evil or stupid”) but they do not bear ALL of the blame; far from it.

No, no worries: my state will almost certainly vote for the Democrat, and no, I am not voting Trump, no matter how distasteful I find the hyperwoke. And Trump’s act is right wing political correctness, on steroids.

And no, I do not approve or racial slurs, sexual harassment, etc. The things I am talking about are things like, say, the politically motivated attacks on Steven Pinker and his work in The Blank Slate, deplatforming based on disagreement with views, and yes, even some of the unfair attacks at Rep. Omar. (much from the right wing, but not ALL of it came from the right wing)

But along comes Joe Biden, and, well, he isn’t going to grovel. He isn’t going to exaggerate “past sins” to placate the self-appointed gatekeepers of liberal morality. GREAT.

Oh, the woke are clamoring at how HE is out of touch with “the base”. Of course, it appears to me that when many say “the base” they mean “people like themselves and those they swap twitter hashtags with”) and many of them become indignant when you point out that they don’t represent everyone.

Oh yes, Joe Biden has his issues. I’ve pointed some of them out. But, this article gets it right:

Biden, whose smile is Jack Nicholson’s without the naughtiness, is not angry. His sporadic attempts at seeming so are transparently, and engagingly, synthetic. Neither, however, are most Americans angry. Rather, they are embarrassed and exhausted. Biden has a talent for embarrassing himself, but not the nation, and he probably might seem to weary voters to be something devoutly desired: restful.

And the political science professor behind Gin and Tacos..someone that I often disagree with (re: boomers vs. millennials cultural wars) makes an interesting point: (damn..can’t find the reference so I’ll attempt to paraphrase from memory): much of the Midwest is stuck in a time warp from the mid 1990’s, and that is Joe Biden’s politics. Therefore, he might do well there.

So, I will watch and wait…is it time to resurrect the old dinosaurs? Or do I feel this way because I am an old dinosaur?

Klobuchar: walks the walk..not just talks the talk.

From here. Note: she worked on some serious stuff; these were not post-offices getting named.

Yes, this is pre-Biden entering the race.

Speaking of Joe Biden: I am seeing some heads exploding. Oh, never mind that he was vetted by Obama..he just has a terrible past, I tell you.

Yes, he has weaknesses: age, gaffes, ..and perhaps you just want someone else. But a monster he isn’t.

Speaking of gaffes: this is one of my favorites:

Yes, Hoover was POTUS during the 1929 crash, and there was no TV; it was all radio.

Empathy and wokeness

First of all: nice yoga class then 6 miles (10K) of running; to the goose loop, 6 laps (19:27 for 2.16 miles, or about 9 minutes per mile), about 2.5 more miles of cool down (actually felt good). Weight: 185.

Weight: 185. knees: can “touch” a flat block..very uncomfortably.

Politics: Joe Biden’s kick off video spoke to me in the heart; I almost teared up.

College culture: This is weird. Are we experiencing LESS empathy than we did before?

The whole idea of the “woke culture” is supposedly to make “all feel welcome.” But is that what it actually does? I honestly don’t know; I wonder if all of this finger wagging is actually driving us further apart.

How should Democrats react to the Mueller Report?

I am still mulling this one over. Yes, I know that an impeachment from the House would be DOA in the Senate; there aren’t the votes there (2/3 are required for removal). It is not even close, period. Congress will NOT remove Trump from office.

But should the House do it anyway? Here are a couple of editorials as to why the answer should be “no.” The basic idea: practically, impeachment is a political act and it might well backfire. And of course, impeachment is a recommendation that the country’s vote in 2016 be overturned and..ok, yes, Clinton won the popular vote by a healthy margin..but we still had an election. It wasn’t as if Trump was appointed by someone. And a substantial number of people approve of him (low 40’s nationally, 75-80 percent of Republicans).

Vox (Ezra Klein)

Washington Post (Karen Tumulty)

On the other hand, your Republican friends and neighbors are likely to see it this way: New York Times ( Christopher Buskirk)

Ah…time to go for a run.

Ok, do the Democrats push for impeachment in the House?

Yes, I know; the House impeaches and the Senate convicts and there is no way in the world that the Senate is getting to 2/3. So, President Trump will NOT be removed from office.

But should the House take it up anyway?

First of all, what are the political implications? Of course, two situations are never exactly the same and Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about sex during a civil deposition. What Trump did appears to be far more sinister.

But anyway…let’s revisit Clinton: in 1998, while impeachment was being debated, the Republicans held both the House and Senate, though the D’s picked up 5 House seats (no net change in the Senate)

In 2000, the R’s held onto the House though the D’s picked up 1 seat. The D’s picked up 4 seats in the Senate to get it to 50-50, then got to 51 when Jeffords became an Independent and caucused with the Democrats. Ok, Bush won the EC (due to Florida) but lost the popular vote.

What role did impeachment play in this? I am not sure though Clinton left with stellar approval ratings.

So, what are the views?

Some say that the Democrats are ethically and duty bound to at least seriously consider impeachment or start impeachment proceedings, regardless of the political cost.

Some say that the political cost wouldn’t be worth it, given Trump won’t be removed and it would be a distraction from the agenda.

Some say that it would make good political sense; that voters want it. (I disagree that “voters want it.”

So, where am I? I am torn and can come down either way.

I do not know what will happen.

Mitch McConnell’s book: The Long Game. Manager of Team Republican (encore post)

IF you are a sports fan (NFL, NBA, MLB, or some other team sport) think about what happens when you cheer for your team: do you honestly think that the world will be a better place if your team wins? Honestly, that just isn’t a concern during the game, is it? You want your team to win, and you want your coach to coach to win and your players to play to win. That’s it.

And so, I turn to Senator Mitch McConnell’s book The Long Game. (New York Times review is here)

Yes, there is the obligatory attempts to humanize him (and some of it IS funny…for example, the story about then President Elect Bush during his inauguration asking him where his podium was; McConnell didn’t know for sure..but when the podium rose through the floor at the appropriate time, McConnell gave a cool nod as if he knew all along…)

You learn about his attempts to play baseball (flamed out before high school), and that he likes chicken enchiladas and sports cars. But over and over again, you hear about his love of professional baseball and the Louisville Cardinal football and basketball teams. That is a recurring theme. And, when you think about it, it is very telling.

What you do NOT hear about, at least in detail, is policy. Oh, there is the usual “The ACA bill is horrible”, “McCain-Feingold is horrible”, “Obama talks down to people”, “Obama is a far left politician”, etc., but it is very shallow boilerplate…Sarah Palin caliber stuff. The exception is the discussion of First Amendment issues as it related to the attempted flag burning amendment and to campaign finance reform. The discussion of why he supported sanctions on the apartheid South African government was also interesting.

But you’ll see no detailed discussion of foreign policy, supply side economics, conservative interpretation of law or anything like that. There was next to no mention of religion either.

And very tellingly, there is no discussion of how he wanted to make people’s lives better, or even enable them to live better lives.

The vast majority of the book was about two things:

1. His personal ambition. He made no bones about wanting to warrant a better office, attain membership on better committees, and to attain leadership positions..oh yes..and get elected.
2. His legislative victories; you can almost feel the gloating over his clever filibuster or clever use of the Senate rules to kill legislation he didn’t like or to attain the goals he wanted..and to get members of his team elected.

Moral and logical consistency were not issues for him. He decried Harry Reid’s “destruction of the Senate” (by using the rules to advance legislation) while dancing on the 50 yard line the times he did the same thing.
He decried Al Gore’s Senate theatrics and then described his own. He decried “show votes” (voting on something that the other chamber will not pass or that the President will veto) but then, IN THE NEXT LINE, admitting that he took them.

Hypocrisy does not bother him. Ridicule, so he says, does not bother him (he asks cartoonists for signed copies of cartoons that lampoon him)..though he did dress down Al Franken for making faces while he spoke in the Senate.

What matters to him is WINNING, period..he wants Team Republican to win. Now this might mean taking incremental victories here and there, even if it means getting attacked by “WE WANT IT ALL, NOW” activists (yes, Democrats have to deal with this too). Set things up…get better field position. Hence the title: The Long Game.

And winning (in terms of Team Republican) means winning votes, winning elections..and winning, on a personal level, means advancing. And he does offer quite a bit of insight here (e. g. the way to win a position is to run unopposed, and the way to do that is to lock up key support, early). And he planned, planned and planned some more. Hence the title: The Long Game.

Early in life, he took on jobs so as to better position himself for political opportunities in the future…evidently it wasn’t to serve constituencies. Hence the title: The Long Game.

Still, I was surprised at how little he talked about policy, either the philosophy of it or how it makes people’s lives better.

This tweet really gets it:

Claire McCaskill: “[McConnell] is a very, very political leader. This isn’t somebody who is sitting around at night figuring out how he can move the needle on really important policy issues. This is someone who is figuring out how he can win elections.”

And that brings me to his discussion of President Barack Obama (called “Professor Obama”, as if that were an insult). Here and there he did praise him; he complimented his campaign, and how well he spoke about the TARP issues (called it “masterful”, without notes).

But he claimed that Obama spoke down to people in private, just like he does in public.

That claim got me scratching my head at first; one of the things I liked about Obama is that he didn’t insult me when he spoke. But after thinking about the praise that McConnell had for Joe Biden..and why he praised him, I think I got it.

Obama IS a policy heavyweight and is a pragmatist ..a problem solver. He sees a need in society and goes about trying to get that need met or that problem fixed; whether the solution is a traditionally conservative one or a liberal one doesn’t really matter to him. He is a thinker.

McConnell is NOT a thinker and is utterly disinterested in talking about the Laffer curve, what the data says about supply side economics, when a stimulus works or what the economists say the size should be, etc. So if Obama tries to explain to him why current Republican positions are really crank economics, McConnell is not only disinterested, he is insulted. It is a bit like trying to explain scientific evolution to a dyed-in-the-wool religious nutter creationist. It is a colossal waste of time..and comes across as arrogant and insulting. He’d much rather hear: “ok, this is what I want..and I know this is what you want. What can you live with?” without all of the attempts to change one’s philosophy.

So, you had the classical “thinker” vs. “wheeler/dealer” mismatch. And there is something else.

McConnell worked long and hard to turn his talents (and yes, he has them) into personal success…he just had a Gollum like focus on being the MAJORITY LEADER. And here comes a young freshman Senator onto the scene and just blows past him as if he was standing still. And he has to know that Obama will go down in history as one of the most loved politicians where he will be remembered by mostly political junkies and as an answer to trivia questions: “which Senator lead the most filibusters?”, etc.

That HAS to sting. 🙂

And there is this (which McConnell bellows was taken out of context)

Yes, Senator McConnell. You had a lot of victories. But you lost the World Series, and President Obama won. 🙂

No old people, you cannot go home again…

Trump is actively targeting older people in his ads and it appears that much of it is “let’s try to make the country what it once was” in terms of, well, demographics. What is interesting is that we are going to need MORE new workers to come in and pay taxes to prop up things like Social Security and Medicare, and one way to do that is to, well, welcome legal immigrants…perhaps more of them. And those who want to come here are, well, “exotic looking” to many of the olds. (that is, non-white, non-western European in culture).

In reality our culture was never perfectly static, and it will never be.

Personally, I think it is great that I can live in a midwestern decaying rust belt town (ok, I don’t like the “decaying rust belt” part) and still have choices of Indian, Thai, Mexican and Middle Eastern food. And, much of what I enjoy (e. g. yoga) was brought here by others.

But, in some sense, I “get” the yearning for “how it was”, but in my case, I think that I miss the days when my body worked better.

I just lifted weights and was struck by, how over time, I’ve become weaker and weaker. The 300 lb. bench press from 1992-1993 is gone forever. 20+ pull ups at one time is probably gone forever. When 19-20 year old male who is within shouting distance of my size lifts, they will be stronger than I (if they are at all experienced). And in the campus 5K runs, I’ve moved from top 10 percent to the median in my finishes.

So there is a longing for days gone by but…the culture of new immigrants has little to do with it.

Workout notes: weights: pull ups (5 sets of 10), incline, 10 x 135, 4 x 150, decline: 7 x 165, military: 15 x 50 seated, 10 x 45, 10 x 40, rows: 2 sets of 10 x 50 single arm, 10 x 110 machine, usual pt, plank, goblet squats (trying to keep as vertical as possible), etc.

Weight: 188, knee rehab: now 4 lb. medicine ball only. Slightly sore back.

Internet Privacy issues

Well, at one time I considered myself to be internet and social media savvy. But I suppose that I am really not.

I like social media because I can meet people I might not have otherwise met, and I’ve met new friends..people who became IRL friends, in this manner. I’ve also managed to spread the word about events (ball games, foot races, stadiums, books. even math ideas).

BUT, such a reach leads to a cost. In one instance, I ran afoul of a small band of NeoNazis who were attempting to harass a well known columnist. That lead to them spreading fliers in my neighborhood which denounced me (yes, that is free speech). That happened well over a decade ago. There are other instances that lead to my having to expend “in real life” (IRL) energy in ways that I did not want to.

And so, this WILL affect what I post. I will still talk about ideas, controversial or not. THAT is intellectual freedom. But I will make adjustments. Yes, this is vague, and I might…or might not, talk about these issues in greater detail at a later time.

But as as the new generation: they are growing up with such issues and are “adjusting” accordingly. Here is an NPR article about that. Roughly speaking: Employers expect to see an internet/social media history, but they also want to examine said history. So young people are setting up very vanilla to down right banal online profiles to provide the “right image” and then doing things like using fake profiles to actually converse, share more honestly, etc.

I suppose the lesson here is that, unless one is in a position where they can honestly not care about what others think, one has to be as guarded online as they are in real life..perhaps more so?

Off for a wet, sloppy walk outside.