Saturday, December 8, 2018

Trump the failed President

Trump gave a speech at his inauguration. It was well written, by someone, and outlined his "America first" policy well. After that he has failed as a communicator. Sure, he tweets:

The tweets worked fine during the campaign. The job of the president is somewhat different. He needs to convey an understanding of whatever topic he is commenting on. He only tweets to get some "likes" from his voters of 2016. And to see his text. He loves to see it.

He has attacked caravans of immigrants and refugees. He attacks daily some target. Attack is his only defense. The Senate is also stalling. Interrogating Comey, they centered on Hillary emails. Hillary is not president and she is not going to jail. There is not a jury in the country that could give her a fair trial.  And the Senate tactic is merely stalling.

Trump can speak, but most what he says is captured from Fox pundits or experts from the White House feeding him whatever he is able to read in a half a page of text. He reads what "sounds good." Like many Republicans he attempts to change "climate change" into air quality. We have good air quality because we scrub exhaust from power plants. Soot does not float over the landscape. Mercury does, as it is vaporized at that temperature. The air is "clean" and carbon dioxide is good for plants. In fact, it is not harmful yet, but current plants have evolved to deal with current levels. Many other factors affect plant growth, and plants grown too fast are low on nutrients from the ground that we need in out diet.

In any case, the point is that it is the CO2 that is bad, no matter how clean our emissions. There is no clean coal. Nearly all politicians know this. I am not sure about Trump. The explanation is too long for him to bother following for five minutes. He knows he won't support taxes for coal or tax credit support for alternative energy. Trump made up his mind about most issues long ago. When he tweeted from his office or couch to Obama years ago, and before that. He has never changed his mind about anything. Most of the items relate to Trump and his wealth in some manner, and he has never taken the initiative to run any of his businesses in any other manner.

So, yes he is dumb, but not too dumb to grasp quickly what is good for Trump in any issue. Trump, not the Trump presidency or the USA. He does not even care at this point that he will lose a 2020 election. The rare conditions that gave him several rust belt states in 2016 no longer exist.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Country dragging through 2 more years of Trump

The red states are going to pretty much stick to Trump, though there is less support for his tariffs and a few more policies, since about six months ago. The jobs are not going to come back and Trump is ruining some of the jobs here with the expensive steel. Ford is struggling, GM fearing the same fate.

But can we put up with the antics of this man in the media for two more years? Not to mention the Russia thing. Resignation would be a relief for his party.

You could just read your favorite news and watch only Netflix and Hulu, but some Trump news and stunts would trickle through. As he claims, it is all about him now. He tears up NAFTA and signs another NAFTA etc etc.

The other concern is the dirty campaign he will run against a Democrat. It will be ugly. He has shown that he has given up any hope of being a president for all. He is a president for the white Republicans and especially the white working class that voted for him. Long ago he decided he will play to them. He may not even want a second term, but he has to show his fans at his rallies he is not giving up on any of his promised goals. They really did think he was going to Make America Great Again. If you gave him support and he pushed all his agendas through, we would go back to the 1950s. Those post war years were a growth economy. There is no similar situation now. The populist will rise and fall with this agenda. He may feel better falling down fighting for his causes.

The bigger question is how to make America even as good as it was through the end of 2016. The temporary economic bump of Trump tax cuts will only go for a short while longer. The economic outlook is not good by 2020. Stocks are stagnant in the Trump era all through 2018. We will quit making a lot of the smaller cars here.

Friday, November 23, 2018

9-11 and the US Presidency

George Bush was stumbling along as president when 9-11 happened. He managed to ruin the economy with Obama and him putting in bailouts at the end. But right after 9-11 he was very popular. We gave the president great powers in national security and started the Homeland Security agency.

Then Trump happened. He is using "national security" to put troops on borders to stop sandal footed migrants with kids. He tears up trade agreements. He blocks muslims from many countries from spending money here as even tourists. Soy beans suffer as he puts in tariffs.

We need to read the Constitution again and then apply restrictions on the president.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Global Warming

Rather than label global warming fake, why not just read a short summary? It does not really help thinking science is a conspiracy. Sets of thermometers in various parts of the world are managed and reported by national or regional agencies. These numbers come from a permanent set of thermometers that give a number for each day at its location. As they are the same meters, the near term (20-30 years) numbers are as reliable as we can get. Some numbers are routinely corrected. This is not tampering. As each set is corrected the same way, the numbers obtained for temperature rise give a reliable trend. The method starts with an average temperature of 13.9°C (57.0°F) for the 1900s. The rise ("anomaly") reported is just added to that. On any day the planet has areas that are in summer and areas that are in winter. The average over the planet gives that 13.9°C. For example +0.94°C gives 14.8C.

NOAA/NCEI annual global analysis for 2017: 
The 2017 average global temperature across land and ocean surface areas was 0.84°C (1.51°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), behind the record year 2016 (+0.94°C / +1.69°F) and 2015 (+0.90°C / +1.62°F; second warmest year on record) both influenced by a strong El Niño episode. The year 2017 is also the warmest year without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
2017 also marks the 41st consecutive year (since 1977) with global land and ocean temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average, with the six warmest years on record occurring since 2010. Since the start of the 21st century, the global temperature has been broken five times, three of those being set back to back (2014–2016). The yearly global land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1980. From 1900 to 1980 a new temperature record was set on average every 13.5 years; however, since 1981 it has increased to every 3 years.
Overall, the global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880 and at an average rate of 0.17°C (0.31°F) per decade since 1970."  [NOAA global analysis for 2017 accessed September 18, 2018].

A video demonstration of CO2 and IR light experiment. The tablets used release CO2 which dissolves in the water until it is saturated and after that some goes into the air above the liquid. This is a large amount of CO2 just to demonstrate the effect. It does have a control with no added CO2.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Burning the prairie

With our President out in California getting confused about wildfires, we can bring up something we Do know how to do. Forest fires are somewhat difficult to control. In Finland, which Trump brought up, there is a lot of rainfall and many parts have a lake a few miles away. There are fires there, mostly a few acres, as forest is managed and there is little dead wood standing in commercial forests.

There is room for discussion in forest management. Trump badly mangled the message. We may indeed need to burn some dead stuff in order to keep old forests standing. You burn some in order to keep a bigger part growing. Dry and dead wood burns easily. Lumbering puts in logging roads, as in Finland, and these provide breaks that the fire does not cross.

I was in the Rockies last summer. There was a lot of dead wood in national forest. It seems to relate to global warming in a way. The snow needs to melt later innthe spring than it does now, to provide water for growing trees. Water falling on mountains irrigates the West side well enough, but the East sides are now getting drier.

Burning is managed in grassland, which is part of the California situation, and a crew can easily burn some areas as needed to keep native prairie species there (a small overall area of unconnected prairies, Google for a map of national grasslands) by preparing the land beforehand. Ranchland in the plains can be native prairie or managed to grow other grasses. The ranchers that were in jail in Oregon for a while mismanaged their burn on public land (they never got a permit). The edges of the planned area have to be cut or plowed so as to give an area where there is nothing to burn.

Here is a description of prairie burns.

Burning prairie

Iowa burns pdf at

Borrowed picture

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Common sense and science

The voting public comes into play on science issue when things like tar sands pipelines and global warming are involved. The voter is suspicious of the motives of the BIG THING, whether it is a Canadian company of your own government. And in both cases they have limited data to go on.

Common sense comes up with conclusions and generalizations with little evidence. In psychology it is called heuristics. We do not always have the data, but we have to come to decision on the spot. We base our generalization on too few examples. Many of our political decisions are based on experience with humans and previous generations. We use experience with wars to predict future wars, even if the technology has changed. We can play computer generated war games to gain some confidence. But even that is bound to fail as the computer cannot cover all variables of the physical world.

Does conservation benefit us? Are we going to suffer from lack of diversity in the natural world? Probably, but the proof is hard to present to the voter. Biologists who study ecology have pointed to keystone species, species that define a habitat. Also, they tend to chart the food web. But the variables are still too many for definite proof to Joe Sixpack, the voter. We have thankfully explained populations and bag limits well to duck hunters.

Years ago an anti-nausea medicine came on the market and was given to pregnant women. Eventually some women started suing the company for birth defects in the babies. “I had two normal kids and then this third one was a Bendectin baby! It’s the drug’s fault!” It turns out nearly all the babies were from older women giving birth. The chances of defects go up with age.  And there was no Bendectin on the market with their earlier two kids.

Many social sciences do this kind of soft research where proper control groups are not available. The studies to do with prisoners are an example. Length of prison term, death penalty etc. etc. have not correlated to success. I suspect a good portion of prisoners returning to society were forced back to crime due to lack of jobs. But you cannot force the private sector to take criminals as employees. You could pay part of their salary from public funds. That probably is happening.

The point is, when people are involved, it is difficult to do scientific studies on their behavior. In lab settings, decision making has been studied. We use heuristics, short cuts. We rarely have solid reasons to make all our decisions. Even those of us who study the physical world that we can measure more accurately fall into the normal patters and decide by gut feel in our personal lives.

Friday, November 9, 2018

We need to educate Trump voters

It's a big job. Many hate all government (Libertarians), they are beyond help. Well, technically you could get them on small issues such as eminent domain.

But we need to concentrate on Trump voters of the regular kind, working class Americans. We need to show them there are just as many jobs building alternate energy as there is mining coal. They may need to move West, but that is how things are going. Nothing is going to be the same 20 years from now.

What struck me yesterday was that we had all home made signs protesting Trump's Sessions firings.

When you compare that to a Trump rally, the people inside have pre-printed signs. We have those too, but only for those that were not prepared for the protest and just showed up.

MAGA is one sign and the other one Women for Trump. They are responding to Trump telling then that they are a forgotten people. Nobody is representing them. This is true as far as anti-abortion, guns and other traditional right wing causes. But you have to CAPTURE them as far as their views on jobs, taxes, trade etc. You have to explain that most manufacture jobs are not going to come back. This is due to cheap shipping of consumer goods and low wages in Asia. We do in fact make things here, bigger things. Homes. cars, things we use a long time around our homes. Doors, windows, all outside structures.

One aspect of Trumpism will only disappear when Trump gets toxic enough. The economy is OK now, though healthcare takes a big cut. Trump is charismatic enough with his voters that when he repeatedly tells them they are better off, they believe it. When he tells them they are ”safer from foreigners” they believe him. But they still believe The Wall would also be built.

Trump angered the people to show up to vote and spoke in simple terms. The famous picture shows the "he speaks how I feel" phenomenon. Some of that includes patriotism, respect for law and order, military and all that. An implied white Christian world.

What we need is to educate the working classes about the realities of our problems (climate, energy, infrastructure) and that those problems actually mean jobs. Perhaps they are not well educated and cannot express their feelings well (Trump speaks for them, the signs they hold are ready made), but we can fix that with a charismatic leader that explains it and then hands them different signs. They will realize by 2020 that Trump is not going to give them healthcare, for example. Beto or someone like him in 2020 will need to explain both jobs and healthcare and explain that Mexicans are NOT taking their jobs unless they are willing to be roofers and landscapers at minimum wage.

Populist movements run 2-4 years. One task is to explain job wages and all. The other task may work out by itself: Trump is going to be rather toxic by then. Trump has no political views of his own. He is a rather superficial person who wants those around him to "like" him, even though he has the power so those whose jobs depend on it will pretend to like him. They only have some one personal issue (small government, low taxes) that keeps them attached to Trump. The Trump brand has taken over all other viable candidates with right wing views. No other candidate will rise out of the GOP mess in two years. Possibly Nikki Haley if Trump is impeached. Others like Cruz are equally toxic and disliked enough to fail as presidential candidate.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Not quite the vote of No Confidence I expected

It’s s good start to drum out Trump in 2020, but it’s only a start.

Locally, I think we got a Medicaid expansion, snubbing our governor. And we nearly got some people in control of public utilities to oppose Transcanada and its pipeline. We will continue that fight most likely by public referendum in 2020. And several county level Democrats.

Not really a good start for the overhaul of healthcare for all. Not much will happen there for two years. Republicans in our state do not seem to understand they are losing rural healthcare.

Our Senate candidate ran as a good a race as you can in a Republican state.

Our only district that flips from time to time went 51.5% Republican 48.5% Democrat, reflecting possibly a 2020 race going to the Trump challenger. My district is a solid 60% Republican, so I can only ever hope to get a senator or governor elected. We have equal rural and city voter numbers, so if the rural area is 80% Republican, this 60% is what we get overall.

Life goes on. Democrats will not leave the state. An election in 2020 offers hope. We have only a congressman to deal with then. He is kind of dumb and votes the partyline in DC.

Looking more widely, Kansas has some gains by Democrats. This might be more a long term effect than Trump. The Republicans drove the state to banktrupcy by lowering taxes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Big Challenge

President Trump has raised over 30 million for his re-election. The supporters donate on line every time the presidency is challenged.

The problem with the election in 2020 is that Trump already has a message and it is working in a large part of the right wing and independent voters: America First!

Such a simple message is absolutely what works in today's Twitter world. The tweet length messages are easy to respond to and force a gut feel response in voters. A feeling of support for those threatened by "foreigners" or whatever Trump has come up with. And  a feel of hate for those that are the target (blacks, minorities) or those voters who support groups Trump and his folk absolutely hate.

I would not be too focused on what the voters can be given (healthcare, education, jobs etc) but go full force in some kind of  TRUMP IS EVIL message. Never mind that Republicans are offended by coarse  language. They will never vote for a Democrat anyway. Convey in simple terms that he is a hateful asshole.

If the Democrats are running a woman, I have to say that Hillary will be the one best equipped to challenge his every act and word. It will be easy for Trump to just label her "Loser Hillary." But she could just go full force on Trump supporters this time. Something like Trump weekly attacking "the Democrats":

But let’s focus more on Trump, less on his voters. The basket of deplorables. We Democrats may have some quite close by. If the candidate is another woman, I would get a male VP partner. The woman candidate can focus on the working classes that were ignored last time. They want simple things: jobs and healthcare. Do not offer them community college as a solution. You only have four years to help them. A raised minimum wage will work well. Their children can be offered the education. Then, with the caring candidate, you add a man VP candidate whose job is to go after Trump daily in the most clever and quick witted response and basically to be the attack dog.

I'll just offer a simple slogan: Vote for (Democrat), we care! Trump does not care about you.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


We foreigners have been coming to America for decades. We don't go on welfare for the most part. Immigrants tend to be slightly better at whatever job or career they have than the corresponding American applicants. This is because there is a hurdle to get in, other than for refugees.

Rural people and towns in the middle of the country have mostly Latino immigrants. They do the low wage jobs related to crops and the food industry.

These are all the (red) counties that went for Trump in the election. Many people before the election had no particular view of immigrants. Muslims had been singled out for 9-11, other than that, most rural people had little idea of immigrants in California or New York.

Immigrants are not on welfare. If they take your jobs, then most often they were in fact qualified for the job. We train foreign born scientists and engineers here, as Americans just want "nice" jobs or very high paying jobs. But jobs that are not in say the chemical industry.

Taking welfare now disqualifies you from moving on to citizenship. Getting arrested gets you deported. There is absolutely no basis for the Trump claim that foreigners are a danger and are second class citizens. Are they in gangs? Yes, but so are Americans in those low income areas where gangs operate. Often it takes a generation for the poorest least educated refugees to move up in society.

Reagan famously launched a libertarian era by saying that government (other than the military) is mostly bad. The military was needed, to fight communism of course

Trump has expanded on that, as well as made foreigners scapegoats. It started with:

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best; they're not sending you," Trump said. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

November election is coming. If you are an immigrant and can vote, it is your duty to vote the racist GOP out of office.