chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Because it has been on my mind, herewith are some thoughts on the election. I intend to go from facts to theories about the facts to recommendations.

Facts

Looking at the voting data, it appears that Clinton lost the election because in many states, rural areas that had voted Republican in 2008 and 2012 60/40 went Republican in 2016 70/30 or 80/20. What did not happen was:

1) minority turnout being significantly repressed. Minorities came out in typical numbers.
2) New voters were not generated. Voter registration was not radically higher nationwide. Where it was higher was in a few states like Texas and that helped Democrats.

This is borderline between a fact and a theory, but it sure looks like about 20% of the rural (white, working-class) electorate, after voting twice for a black man, voted against a white woman.

Theories

There are undoubtedly various sexist and racist people out there who refused to vote for Clinton. However, it appears that they didn't vote for Obama. It also appears that there is a significant bloc of voters that are persuadable. It's my contention that's the group to focus on. Call them the "Obama 20%."

More Theories and Recommendations

Based as somebody who grew up in a small town, with a grandfather and two uncles who were coal miners, I have a theory as to why the Obama 20% went Trump. It's two-pronged.

First is economics. Again from experience, in a small town, when the factory closes, the impact is worse than a tornado. At least after a tornado, the National Guard is sent to clean up. I think I have a better chance of building a starship than Trump has of fixing the small-town job problem, but I know Clinton's plan of educating workers won't fly. When small-town voters hear "educating workers" they think of me - somebody who got a college degree and moved the hell out of Dodge. That might be what has to happen, but it means even more hollowed-out towns.

Second is foreign policy. Clinton called for a no-fly zone in Syria. As somebody who spent five years in the Navy to get out of a small town, small towns have borne a disproportionate share of America's recent wars. Clinton's foreign policy of injecting ourselves into another war did not sell well. Here Obama's (and Trump's) idea of staying out of Syria sold much better.

Recommendations

On economics, free trade is dead. The sooner everybody buries it the better. I do think coal is not coming back, but we need to talk about softening that blow. On foreign policy, a little less war would be nice.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I suppose I should say something profound about Hilary Clinton becoming the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. I find that I don't have a lot to say that hasn't been said before, including by me.

Clinton is a politician, not a demi-god, and has a number of flaws. What she's exhibited in this campaign is an ability to learn. She took what didn't work in 2008 and fixed it, stealing a lot of process from Obama. Thus the steam-rolling of a much better natural politician, Bernie Sanders.

I also think that, much like Reagan in 1988, Obama has handed a, if not hand-picked, successor an election that's hers to loose. Does anybody think Trump is going to fare much better than did Michael Dukakis? In both cases, the out-of-power party has delivered somebody beloved of the base but lacking any sort of appeal beyond that base.

Nothing is inevitable in history except death and taxes, but Trump has a long and tough row to hoe.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. This is why I think Hilary Clinton is our next President, absent getting caught in bed with a live girl or a dead boy.

First, as has been said by many people, the electoral map for Republicans is not good. They are in the hole from the word go, and Trump is not showing much signs of getting out of the hole.

But I think the real impact is The Reagan Effect. I've compared Obama to Reagan before, and the comparison makes this look a lot like the election of 1988.

In 1988, Reagan was personally quite popular, despite Iran-Contra. Reagan's Vice President, Bush the Elder, ran on a very explicit platform of "more of the same." (Too explicit, as those who remember the Saturday Night Live skit can attest.) In 2016, we see Obama, personally quite popular with no scandals, smiling beneficently on his Secretary of State, who is running on a "more of the same but slightly different" platform. It's not 2000, where a sitting Vice President tried to run away from a scandal-plagued (although again personally popular) President.

Don't get me wrong - Hilary still needs to get her people to the polls, and this will be a 55 / 45 popular vote at best, but history is on her side.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Last week, in the recess appointment thread, [livejournal.com profile] daveon said words to the effect of "glad to see Obama finally realized that he can't work with Republicans." I've heard that a lot lately. Since this is a Rotary day and blogging time is limited, here are my thoughts, recycled for your entertainment value:

In the first two years of his term, I really do think Obama thought he could work with Republicans. After all, he had in the Senate.

By the time he decided that working with the Republicans wasn't happening, the 2010 election hit. Then, he made a list of what he absolutely needed from Congress, and kissed whatever ass was offered to make it happen. (See, debt, raising ceiling of.)

Now, he's decided that he doesn't need anything more from Congress, so he'll rope-a-dope them. Whether that's run against them via his jobs bill, recess appointments, defense spending cuts (coming soon to a Congress near you) or whatever, from now until November it's going to be open season on Congress - and Obama's got plenty of bullets.

Cordray, with the CFPB, will, by election time, have all sorts of bad guys in some form or another of legal action. Obama will showcase this, and say, "see, if you vote me out and/or don't vote in a Democrat, all of this goes away."

He didn't plan for things to work out this way, but, like most successful types, when he sees an opportunity he goes after it. Or, "the plan is the first casualty on contact with the enemy."
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Now, I am absolutely not a fan of the indefinite detention parts of the NDAA. And, when somebody like this fellow calls the signing of the Act a "scene from a failed Presidency" I feel his pain. I really do.

But then I see things like:

A) This kiss, which, prior to Obama, would have been grounds for immediate courts-martial of both parties.

B) The announcement of new clean air rules that will finally get dirty coal-fired plants grandfathered in the 1970s out of service. (And no, Virginia, the rule will not cause a wave of blackouts.)

This is on top of health care, saving GM and Chrysler, leaving Iraq, etc., etc. If John McCain were President, none of this would have happened. Hell, we'd not only still be in Iraq but probably bombing Iran by now. Most of the time, human progress comes, not in a rush, but in the slow day-to-day grind of incremental change.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I did not watch the Republican Party Presidential debate last night.  I had more important things to do, namely attend an event in which this was served:



(Actual picture of actual desert, not resized or altered!)

So, I caught up with the debate via the after-debate news and analysis. One of the talking heads on one of the shows made a point to the effect that Rick Perry calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme made him unelectable in a general election. The talking head opposite him said that the Republicans went with the "electable candidate" in 2008 (John McCain) and look what that got them, so they may go with the feel-good candidate. It is, in short, a question of the voters' priorities.

I would agree, and add a thought - electability is the hardest thing to determine. I think John McCain was electible right up until the bank crisis of September 2008. His mishandling of that, and the mocking he got from Dave Letterman, cost McCain his electability.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, last week, Donald Trump, the billionaire son of a multi-millionaire, a fiscally-responsible guy with four bankruptcies and three wives, felt America needed to see Obama's birth certificate.

Obama, self-made son of nobody, released it. We now know that Obama went from that event to a meeting where he got the final plan to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.

On Saturday night, Obama and others at the White House Correspondent's Dinner took some shots at Trump. We now know that while this was going on, Navy SEALs were in route to "take some shots" at Osama Bin Laden. Per the President's address last night, he greenlighted the operation on Friday. Probably about the same time he approved his remarks for the Saturday yuck-fest.

There are serious threats facing America, and serious problems. Yet we let a reality TV star distract us with trivia.

Well, I'm glad somebody had their eye on the ball.

ETA: Just a reminder - Obama said during the campaign that he'd go into Pakistan if needed. John McCain and current candidate Mitt Romney both thought that was a bad idea.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I found that I had nothing interesting to say yesterday, so I said nothing. Today is different.

In the morning, I sometimes watch MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. I turned it on today, and Donald Trump was asked to call in. When he did, one of the panelists, who knows Trump personally as a friend, said, (nearly direct quote) "Bro, drop the birther BS." Trump did not, and went on a bit of a rant about Obama's "mysterious" birth. Now, Trump is wrong on the facts, but that's not what I want to talk about. Rather, I want to discuss the failure of a tool that Republicans had been successfully using for years. Call it the "reverse hammerlock."

In the reverse hammerlock, you attack your opponent's strength while portraying any attack on yourself as somehow out of bounds. So, if, for example, your opponent is a decorated war hero and you yourself spent the same war safely thousands of miles from any threat, you attack your opponent's war record while portraying any attack on your lack of record as denigrating the troops.

In 2008, John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone. One had to spend 5 or 10 minutes parsing the law to figure out that, yes, he was a natural-born citizen. Republican-leaning folks were so used to the reverse hammerlock that they immediately applied it to Obama.

The reverse hammerlock isn't working. First, since Obama has released a birth certificate, the hammerlock-er has to argue that a certificate of live birth is different than a birth certificate (they're not - "certificate of live birth" is the formal, legal name for a "birth certificate") or that what you've seen is a forgery.

So then the hammerlock-er is forced to attempt to baffle you with bullshit. Most people have a strong bullshit-detector, and when it goes of, they back away from the source of the bullshit. Alas, "most" is not the same as "all," so some people fall for the hammerlock. It appears that Trump is one of the fallen.

The birthers also have to overcome the smell test (pun intended). Obama looks and acts like an American. The birthers have to convince you to ignore your lying eyes and believe them. Although a (bare) majority of Republicans have doubts about Obama, it's so unreasonable that not even all Republicans are buying it.

Bottom line - just because something worked in a previous situation doesn't mean it will always work.

PS - a useful source of debunking tools regarding Obama

2012

Mar. 30th, 2011 04:10 pm
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I'm going to make a bold prediction. Absent a massive unforced error on Obama's part, he will win re-election in 2012 and the Democrats will regain control of the House of Representatives. I predict this largely due to the Republican's current actions, which remind me of Democrats circa 1982.

In 1982 and 2010, the party out of power felt that they had lost power by running weak and/or unorthodox candidates, and that if they just run a standard-issue candidate they can win. This perception is aggravated by the tendency to forget that off-year elections can be carried by a mobilized base. (In 2008, 132.6 million Americans voted, while in 2010, only 90.6 million people voted. That's a fall-off of 42 million people.)

However, in a Presidential year, those 42 million are going to show up. They are going to see:

1) The "off" party advocating the same-ole-stuff they did when they last voted; stuff that was rejected then.
2) The "off" party running around being nasty, obstructionist and generally a pain to deal with. Many of those occasional voters really do want our politicians to work together, so those visibly not working together will get punished.

Adding to the upcoming election will be a fired-up Democratic base in a lot of states, such as Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. The Republican base will be fired up too - but some of that fire will be aimed at "RINOs" (Republican In Name Only) who cut deals with the Democrats. There will be more Sharon Angles coming out of 2012 Republican primaries. Lastly, people want to vote for a program. The Republican program isn't for anything - it's against stuff.

This is not a call for complacency - the Democratic Party needs to run good candidates and get out the vote - but a prediction that the election is the Democrat's to lose.

On a related topic, Elizabeth Moon has some thoughts about the current Republican Party that I agree with entirely. It's part 1 of a series.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Yogi Berra is supposed to have said "predictions are hard, especially about the future." Well, I'm about to make a prediction, based in part on a couple of observations.

The first observation is from E. J. Dionne in the Washington Post, who notes that For weeks now, our national political conversation has been driven by 86,441 voters and a margin of 5,548 votes. A bit of perspective: When John McCain lost in the 2008 presidential race, he received 59.9 million votes. Dionne's talking about the Tea Party, that maybe 20% slice of Americans who spent the 1990s looking for black UN helicopters under their bedsheets, and now want to "take our country back" (from whom, nobody knows).

The second observation is that the Republican Party will probably win the House of Representatives. Giving the keys to the same folks who drove us into the ditch isn't a good idea, and I hope I'm wrong, but that's the way the cookie appears to be crumbling. Having said that, making Speaker Boehner actually have to do something with with a 10 to 12 seat majority is probably better than saddling Speaker Pelosi with a 1 or 2 seat majority.

But my prediction isn't about 2010, it's about 2012. In 2012, the Republicans lose, and by a lot. First, incumbent Presidents aren't beaten - they beat themselves. So, absent a major Obama gaffe, he beats whomever the Republicans run. Every indication is that the Republicans will do to Obama what the Democrats did to Reagan in 1984 - run a bog-standard Party loyalist (Tea- or regular-flavored, doesn't matter), operating on the belief that all that is needed to win is to not be Obama.

In congress, after the Republican shutdown (which will happen) and the inevitable compromise that restarts government, the Republicans will also lose big. The Tea Party won't accept compromise, and they'll force primary fights on whomever they blame for not winning total victory. That plus the added votes from an on-year election will mean Democratic wins.

The big question will be 2016. Will that be a rerun of 1988 or 1992? In other words, will the Republicans figure out that the game has changed?

But all of this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, President Obama released his new NASA budget yesterday. The first headlines were along the lines of "Moon Program Canceled." These headlines were deceiving at best. As the closing line to this Popular Mechanics post says, of the budget, "it points the way to truly sustainable development in space." (Gacked from The Usual Suspects. Basically, what the budget does is:

1) Kill the Constellation program, which was overbudget, late and a step backwards technologically.

2) Direct NASA to fund alternative, private ground-to-orbit technologies.

3) Create incentives for NASA and private industry to develop the kind of sustainable technology we'll need to actually exploit space. These are technologies like refueling in orbit and closed-loop life support systems.

In short, it's the right thing to do. So, write your Congressman and ask them to support this budget.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Rotary day, and snowy to boot, so links in lieu of content.

1) I routinely bust chops at Simberg's Flying Circus, but the proprietor does know the space industry. At any rate, he attended the roll-out for Space Ship Two, the world's first commercial manned spacecraft. All I can say is, "kick the tires and light the fires!"

2) [livejournal.com profile] jimchines is in a feisty mood this morning. As evidence, I note his hilarious satire of the year's 7 most notable publishing fails. Go read it - but finish your beverage first.

3) On a more serious note, here's a little reflection entitled Obama to Define the Just War. Apparently, Obama plans to defend his escalation in Afghanistan at his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. The money quote: "For a difficult world, peace is not a tenable option in all our interactions. Our job as Americans isn’t to keep peace at all costs, but to secure peace, by blood and iron if necessary."

4) Presented without comment: Americans have come to believe that spending government revenues on U.S. citizens here at home is usually a bad thing and should be viewed with suspicion, but spending billions on vast social engineering projects overseas is the hallmark of patriotism and should never be questioned.

Afghanistan

Dec. 2nd, 2009 10:08 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I watched Obama's speech about Afghanistan last night, courtesy of my DVR. I was going to write my analysis of the speech today, but Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station beat me to it.

His analysis? Fuckin’ A. Thank you and good night.

If that's too brief for you, here's my "longer" version:

1) We have a defined plan with reasonable metrics.
2) The plan recognizes the costs, priorities and other issues facing America.
3) Adequate resources were supplied, based on an analysis of facts on the ground.
4) There were no illusions about what the end state will be. Afghanistan will not be a "beacon of democracy." It will be a more-or-less stable country, not ran by the Taliban.

As an added bonus, it's consistent with what Obama campaigned on. Funny thing about this guy - he tends to do what he says he's going to do.

Huh?

Oct. 9th, 2009 08:47 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, I turned on the Internets machine this morning and discover that Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. While I like Obama, and think he's doing a generally good job, I'm of much the same opinion as John Scalzi, which is that I'd liked to have seen him earn the thing before they plopped it into his lap. Although seeing how frothy the folks get about this over at Simberg's Flying Circus should be amusing.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I am going on a vacation tomorrow (a cruise, actually, first one on a non-gray ship). I hear nowadays that these new-fangled ships have satellite Internet (back in my day, we used telex and liked it) but I'm not taking the laptop or surfing the 'Net. So, here's some random thoughts for your reading pleasure.

Regarding yesterday's entry, I should be a bit more clear. I'm not worried about actual mutinies on armed merchant ships, but I do think that, for a lot of ships, crew cohesion is so low that expecting them to fight together is unrealistic.

Speaking of pirates, I see that another US-flagged ship, the Liberty Sun, was attacked by pirates. In this case, they successfully repelled boarders. We've not seen the end of this piracy mess by a long shot.

There has been much to-do in the news lately about "Tea Parties." These protests are getting a lot of press, although they seem to lack a coherent message. Well, this fellow says that the folks who attend the parties are nuts. Based on my "discussions" with the folks at Rand Simberg's blog I'd have to agree.

Isn't a little sacrifice for the good of the country the patriotic thing to do? Or is patriotism limited to putting little yellow ribbons (made in China) on the back of our SUVs? Is it patriotic to fund a war on a tax cut, and tell people to respond to a crisis by going shopping?

Lastly, President Obama held an "Econ 101" class yesterday. For anybody who's confused about why he's doing what he's doing with the economy, go read the whole thing. It's a bit long, but detailed and in clear English.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
From time to time, I blog about politics. A while back, I noted why I thought Obama's health care plan appealed to me.

One of the comments of that post (in particular) and a problem with "socialized medicine" in general is long wait times for elective procedures. Then I came across this article entitled the myth of waiting lines. It's a short article, and the gist of it is this. Yes, Americans don't wait for elective surgery. Rather, they are priced out. Key statistics:

- 38% of Britons and 27% of Canadians reported waiting four months or more for elective surgery.
But:
- 24% of Americans reported that they did not get medical care because of cost.
- 26% said they didn't fill a prescription because of cost.
- 22% said they didn't get a test or treatment because of cost.

While, only 6% of Canadians and Britons didn't get care because of cost.

Here's the money graf:

"The question, in other words, is not whether you ration care, but how you ration it. It also casts our smug attitude towards care access in a new light. If someone can't afford care, we record their waiting time as zero. You don't wait for what you can't have. But a more accurate accounting would record that wait as infinite, or it would record when the patient eventually ends up in the emergency room because the original ailment went untreated."

Go read the whole thing.

ETA From the longer LA Times article:

"Moreover, surveys conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have found that most countries don't have waiting lines or the uninsured. Not Germany or France or Japan or Sweden, all of which have more of a mix of public and private options."

Obama's proposal is a mix of private and public options.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I'm going to put two semi-unrelated thoughts into one post today.

Obama and personal charm

First, part of the answer to the question "why are the Republicans struggling to get traction against Obama?" I think it's the same reason the Democrats struggled against Ronald "Teflon" Reagan - personal charm.

I was out for lunch today, and ESPN ran a 3 or 4 minute segment which consisted of Obama providing and discussing his NCAA Final Four picks. Now, I don't care really who Obama picks, but imagine Bill Clinton or either President Bush even being asked the question? Now, Reagan wouldn't be asked either, but his personal charm was different. Reagan played the kindly grandpa. Obama's too young for that, so he plays the hip coworker, but it's the same principle - being like-able. Being like-able doesn't mean either man was a good President, but it helped them get to the Oval Office.

GITMO

Via Talking Points Memo, I read this barn-burner of a post about how screwed up the "terrorist" detention system in GITMO was. I don't know what axe (and I'm sure he has at least one axe) the author is trying to grind, but it's worth a read. Two juicy tidbits:

The first of these is the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the early stages of the U.S. operations there. Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.

As to twisted logic: "Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo (sic) during the Bush administration...have gone back into the business of being terrorists." So, the fact that the Bush administration was so incompetent that it released 61 terrorists, is a valid criticism of the Obama administration?

Go read the whole thing.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
To say that I frequently disagree with Rand Simberg, the proprietor of Transterrestrial Musings, is the understatement of the week. However, he does make some good points, including this (highly over-snarked) piece today about Obama's lack of a real space policy.

I think Obama's space policy boils down to "spending tons of money to fly the shuttle around in circles once or twice a year is silly." Other than that, Obama's got nothing, which means that the previous plan, go to the Moon by 2020, is still in effect. So, consider this an open letter to President Obama.

The first question to ask should be, "what are our goals in space?" I think our goals should be (in priority order):

1) Maintain US manned space access
2) Return to the Moon by 2020
3) Reduce cost to orbit by a factor of (at least) 10.

To accomplish this, we should:

1) Rejigger the "Apollo on steroids" Orion manned capsule to fly on an existing heavy-lift rocket. If that means a smaller / lighter / less capable bird, so be it.

2) Scrap the "Stick" (Ares) solid-fuel "crew delivery" rocket.

3) Until Orion actually flies, retain the Shuttle, if only to keep the Russians honest. If that means the shuttles become even more of hanger queens then they already are, maintained by a skeleton crew, so be it.

4) The heavy-lift vehicle, Constellation, [edited to be Ares V] can stay, but the Altair lunar lander should be reusable, at least to the point of refuelable in orbit. Also, whatever we're calling the trans-lunar part of Constellation should be reusable. [Edited: "Constellation" refers to the entire family of rockets and crew vehicles.]

5) Throw some money at the Alt.Space companies, with a goal towards encouraging cheap and reusable access to orbit. Since the capital markets went kaput, this money should be mostly low-interest loans with some awards for milestones met, not grants. The FAA should continue to be the governing authority for flight safety, with NASA, or maybe an independent board, as the sugar daddy.

Hopium

Jan. 20th, 2009 09:14 pm
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Chicago Tribune columnist and Obama critic John Kass suggests our new President is peddling "hopium," defined as irrational and useless hope.

In militaries, "hope" is defined as "morale." Good morale does not necessarily win battles. The sailors at Pearl Harbor in the pre-dawn hours of December 7 had high morale. They lost.

But the French army of 1940 had low morale, and they fell apart like a cheap suit in a washing machine. Ditto the Iraqi army of 2003 - an army that took away all white clothing from their soldiers in an attempt to prevent mass surrenders.

So Kass is right - hope is no substitute for hard work.

But people with hope work a hell of a lot harder then folks with no hope.

Obama

Nov. 5th, 2008 11:01 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I don't think anybody who reads my blog will be surprised to find that I am glad Obama won. It was a mandate-level victory, and Obama's 52% of the popular vote was something only achieved a handful of times in the modern era.

Watching the morning news talk shows (MSNBC's Morning Joe to be specific) I was struck by the commentariat's statement that America is a "center-right" country. Tom Brokaw, hawking a new book about the Baby Boomers, said that the proof of this was (rough quote) "Baby Boomers 40 years ago would ingest whatever they were handed at a rock concert, now they read labels at Whole Foods."

WTF?!?!? Now showing common sense is a conservative virtue? Don't get me wrong - I'm not a raging liberal, but what exactly would it take to suggest to the commentariat that America had moved to the left?

In other news, [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann is thinking big thoughts about voter fraud. I respect and generally agree with Jeff, although I think we voted for different folks in this election. More to the point, part of the voter fraud issue is the issue of picture IDs.

Currently in America, we use drivers' licenses as a stand-in for a National ID card. Much like our use of Social Security numbers as a stand-in for personal serial numbers, this approach doesn't work. If you don't know how to drive a car, you don't need a drivers license, and it is perfectly legal to have multiple Social Security numbers. In short, trying to shoe-horn these systems into additional uses causes problems.

Enough ramblings for now - I'm still trying to dig out at work.

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