Tuesday, February 12, 2019

He could have gotten a dog or run for president

Now it finally came out. Trump is just an old man with nothing to do. He wanted some people, any people, to like him. He found his crowd.

But we could all have got off easier if he had just gotten a dog. He rambled on about dogs in his El Paso speech. But, if he had gotten that German shepherd, that dog would have liked him. Dogs are bred that way. That dog would have saved us from a lot of misery.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Trump is the Republican Brand now

Having stuck to low taxes and less government for decades now, the Republicans are now fully behind Trump. They have not grabbed national attention in previous election years, and the politicians realize the facts: they themselves will get the maximum votes if Trump is on the ticket. It does not matter if he wins or not. The people fired up about "foreigners" and "the wall" as well as repealing all Obama did are the ones that get them voted in. Not just in red states but borderline states as well, and states with one senator from each party. Our governor ran on Trumpian ”less regulation” and less government issues. He also erased all benefits the state was providing illegal aliens. We allowed them some semi-official papers and healthcare.

The RNC decided not to have any primary challengers to achieve their goal. And it will make it easier for them to work with Trump in whatever time he has left. I believe impeachment is coming, but perhaps just rolling to full force in late 2020. This would be perfect for Democrats as well. They may lose a few seats in the house 2020 or hold on to their own, but it will give them something to do for Oct, Nov and Dec of 2020 and the new Democrat coming in taking over. First, bring it to near impeachment by election and then use two months to bring Trump to a halt.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Shut Down Not Going Anywhere for Trump

Trump will have very little to brag about after his proposal. He may offer some temporary relief for DACA children, but nothing permanent. But Trump can't deport them all either, too costly. So he really has nothing to bargain with. As it is, the courts have put DACA on hold for at least a year. The Trump directive to erase it was not legal.

Trump may declare an emergency and order the wall built. Almost nothing will happen on that for the two years he has left.

His defense of election dirty deeds is going badly. Cohen will testify and set any remaining issues straight. Then the rest of his term will be a battle fighting an actual impeachment.

A president polling 39% approval and that hanging over him cannot win a 2020 election.

Congress also will do almost nothing, though some solution to the shut down will come in a month or so. The country is too crippled past that to operate. And Democrats will have proven all those officials and bureaucrats were necessary.

One thing the news have sort of missed is that neither Trump or Mitch care that the government is shut down. Trump is free to travel and act normally while his staff is not paid. Mitch on the other hand is running his own experiment to cut down Big Government. He does not care what it causes.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The world simplified: it must be a conspiracy!

I touched upon conspiracies a few times earlier. The column addressed common beliefs.
Americans and conspiracy

I also had a column on our tribal view of leadership:
Tribal age views of life

Looking a little deeper into this thing, there is a benefit to thinking up reasons "somebody is out to get you." When societies were developing, people had to adjust to living with a number of others and to be wary of any threat. We looked at others and tried to recognize patters of behavior to categorize people as friend or enemy. It did not actually matter if a few neutrals were classified as enemy, just to be on the safe side. Once we had sorted things out, we could go about our business more calmly.

Trump voters tend to be these people that simplify things in this manner. Trump himself does not bother learning details of things. He quickly decides if it is with him or against him.

Democrats do something and they get angry. There must be some bigger force behind this phenomenon. Let's blame Hillary! Or even George Soros!

We live our lives by rules of thumb. We make quick decisions. Blaming something on a conspiracy categorizes it. It no longer needs to be thought about. Generally we make these generalizations with little evidence. They can be adjusted a  little, but the Trump voter rarely completely changes his mind on any matter.

It's been found that people that believe in conspiracies also tend to believe in the supernatural. Both supply a simplified explanation to things unexplainable otherwise. When the belief becomes overwhelming, or a fear of conspiracies, the people no longer function normally in their daily lives. So a small amount of suspicion helps save you from harm, but too much can take over your life.

Science and technology are other things that come under suspicion, especially if a government is involved. These have been discussed in previous columns.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Everything going according to plan

We Democrats sometimes have a hard time grasping just what Trump supporters wanted to achieve. There may not be a wall, but he certainly took a swipe at everything global. We apparently do not need the world, even if they make all our socks shoes and underwear. But to summarize the big picture: disrupt everything as much as possible if the federal government or UN or even NATO is involved.

So now that the government is shut down, he takes this opportunity to freeze federal wages for all of 2019 once they come back. This is because (Fox News, Trumpists) "the government does not do anything." Only the functions of border security, immigration and a few infrastructure jobs are needed. Oh, there might be a few other things, but they do not affect Trump's main activity.

So people that work for NIH, Center For Disease Control, all government funded medical research, climate change and all them nasty things that are too difficult for the Trump voter to understand, they are not needed. Maybe in their old age, but that is too far to plan ahead.

Stocks going down? No problem, Trump base does not own any and Trump's own wealth is tied up in real estate, which survives recessions.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


There is no gold standard anymore, so money is basically a way to exchange goods and services and to plan for the future on personal and public levels. I got trained in science, so materials are more real than money for me. We will eventually come to a point where wealth per person can only go down or stay at a level if population stays steady.

Money only has meaning if we think there is a future and the money is still worth something. For this reason people want the near future to be very much like the present. If there is a drastic change in the future, the cash you stashed away is not worth as much as you thought. Both right and left wingers resist huge change. This is why many Democrats are centrists. They get lobbied and the lobbyists want things to stay the same or improve for their issue.

When you go to the bank for a loan or you save for retirement the money is most closely related to material. Only people with huge amounts of "collateral" (things: real estate, factories, hotels, airlines etc) are trusted with this imaginary money to spend, build etc etc. Your investments are most likely in stocks or CD accounts, so these also relate to actual property. The bank holds your money, but it can lend it to reliable customers who then convert  the borrowed money to real things. Shops, stores, trucks, retail goods etc. Your money is tied to physical objects.

The future is the tricky part. You have to try to imagine the future. So does your government. They have to plan for social security payments, Medicare etc. All this is based on the calculated work force and the GDP and the GDP per person. You think your money is worth something in the future. If the entire population or earth were to disappear in say 20 years, the value of your money would quickly go down to almost nothing. The cash (with ongoing inflation) would exist for a short while, as we would all disappear sooner or later, but would still need to eat and function for 20 years. It could be something like an asteroid that we knew was going to wipe us out. Or drought from climate change etc. etc.

Back to the present, the working class person that gets by, just, understands quite well that money is not wealth, and work no longer is worth much. Getting a paycheck and spending it by the next paycheck is a very real state. Work is simply converted to goods and to pay the rent. These people are unlikely to own anything more than the furniture etc. as well as a car. With maybe a car loan.

Economics is an odd field that seems to be too big for its pants. It thinks it can overrule material things. Libertarians have an undying faith in free market. This book is otherwise OK but since it is so optimistic it has no Plan B.

I've read a few bits, not spending my dollars on it. It will have no bearing on my decisions even if i read it.

 Individual situations, the opposite end compared to  GDP or national levels is the focus of Freakanomics. Famous quotes deal with items like "why do drug dealers still live with their mom and dad?"

This Michael Lewis book is my favorite. It tells how individuals calculate value on personal issues and decide. It also describes some bigger things where we have decision makers make decisions, but based on too small a sample population or other group. We try to do statistics in our head. We are very conservative when faced with a situation where we could lose. We go out of our way to prevent loss. The two Israeli psychologists who worked on this economics issue are profiled in the book. The economics outlined relates to consumers, marketing, insurance etc.

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.

The water does play some part. Some people claimed all kinds of faults with the demo, but all it shows is IR absorption by the gas above the water.

Here is a more sophisticated video that simply shows the gas absorbing the light from the candle. The gas absorbs the IR light and re-emits it but it is not going to just the camera but in all directions. Air in the tube did not do that.

As far as conspiracies, there are always people willing to believe them. Especially if "government" did something to them. If you are curious how the theories form and spread, see this book, which is not a debunking book, but focuses on the mind.