EppsNet Archive: Politics

The Job Is Only Half Done

28 Mar 2016 /


More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Full-Throated

16 Mar 2016 /

“Full-throated” seems to be used a lot lately to describe politicians and their utterances, i.e., full-throated endorsements, full-throated denunciations, etc.

What a pretentious nonsense word. Instead, just say “loud.”

Frigate bird


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Michael Bloomberg

11 Mar 2016 /
Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg decides against run for presidentCNN Money

The only thing I know about Bloomberg’s political career is that he banned the sale of large cups of soda in New York. Forget that I think drinking large cups of soda is one of the great pleasures of life, anyone who can’t mind his own goddamn business a little better than that, anyone who considers himself entitled and qualified to tell people what to do with their lives at that kind of a micro level, should be beaten with sticks, not elected to public office.

What would he do as president, institute a national bedtime?


The Most Transparent Liar in Modern Times?

8 Mar 2016 /

I’m the most transparent public official in modern times. — Hillary Clinton

“That’s why as Secretary of State I ran a shadow government from a private email server, sending and receiving communications regarding secret programs, anti-terrorist activities, drone strikes, etc., so that there would be no public record of my activities.

“I also give paid speeches to Wall Street firms under a contract that prohibits anyone from releasing a transcript of what I said.”

What a scream! Maybe she means she’s the most transparent liar in modern times . . .

Hillary Clinton


Prominent Republicans Re: Donald Trump

3 Mar 2016 /
Alex Castellanos

If our self-indulgent Republican party establishment had really wanted to prevent a takeover of the GOP, they should not have gorged on political power while they failed to do anything to prevent the decline of the country. Our leaders could have led. They could have done more than say ‘no’ to Democrats while offering no alternative.

They should have stood up for the change Donald Trump is bringing now but they didn’t.

Now, Trump has earned the nomination. He won it, fair and square and we should respect that. Donald Trump whipped the establishment and it is too late for the limp GOP establishment to ask their mommy to step in and rewrite the rules because they were humiliated for their impotence.

If Trump is going to be our nominee, as I believe he is, it is our mission to support Trump and make him the best nominee and president possible.

Alex Castellanos, Republican media strategist
 
William J. Bennett

I’m used to being the moral scold, but Trump is winning fair and square, so why should the nomination be grabbed from him? We’ve been trying to get white working-class people into the party for a long time. Now they’re here in huge numbers because of Trump and we’re going to alienate them? I don’t get it. Too many people are on their high horse.

William J. Bennett, a former Reagan education secretary

I’m Pretty Sure Those Are Nouns

22 Feb 2016 /

This is a real Bernie Sanders tweet, not a parody, although it has since been deleted . . .

I'm pretty sure those are nouns


How People Learn to Become Resilient

21 Feb 2016 /
Reslience

[Developmental psychologist Emmy Werner] found that several elements predicted resilience. Some elements had to do with luck: a resilient child might have a strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor-like figure. But another, quite large set of elements was psychological, and had to do with how the children responded to the environment. From a young age, resilient children tended to “meet the world on their own terms.” They were autonomous and independent, would seek out new experiences, and had a “positive social orientation.” “Though not especially gifted, these children used whatever skills they had effectively,” Werner wrote. Perhaps most importantly, the resilient children had what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”: they believed that they, and not their circumstances, affected their achievements. The resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.

Something to think about if you’re positioning yourself as a victim of circumstances, or telling others, including children, that they are victims of circumstances, that their efforts will not be rewarded fairly, that powerful forces are conspiring to keep them down, etc.

Granted, most or all of the people in the second group seem to be in it for personal aggrandizement, i.e., You can’t make it in America so you need me to make a big fuss on your behalf and get handsomely paid for it, either in the form of money or in political power.


Hillary Clinton, Angry Landlady

17 Jan 2016 /
Hillary Clinton

[Hillary Clinton] is especially poor at the podium, where, when she wants to emphasize an applause line, her voice becomes loud, flat and harassing to the ear. She lately reminds me of the landlady yelling up the stairs that your kids left their bikes in the hall again. Literally that’s how it sounds: “And we won’t let them roll back the progress we’ve made. Your kids left their bikes in the hall.”


Another Thing I Like About Donald Trump

15 Jan 2016 /

Democrats don’t like him and Republicans don’t like him either.

The overarching theme of American politics is Democrats vs. Republicans, Team Blue vs. Team Red. It’s a freakishly expensive clown show for which we pay trillions of dollars a year to watch the Red clowns and the Blue clowns throw pies in each other’s faces.

Nobody really cares about truth, substance or common sense, only whether their team is winning.

When Obama replaced Bush, Democrats didn’t care that Obama kept all the same wars going and started a few new ones, kept the torture programs going, kept Guantanamo open, ramped up drone warfare, cozied up to Wall Street, etc., etc., etc. All the things they hated when Bush was doing them were okay now because their team was winning.

Elect Hillary Clinton and we’ll get four to eight years of trench warfare against Republicans. Elect a Republican candidate (other than Trump) and we’ll get four to eight years of trench warfare against Democrats. At a cost of trillions of dollars per year.

This election offers a unique choice — Trump — the best chance we may ever have to blow up the system and start over, which is long overdue.


Cognitive Dissonance on Muslims

22 Dec 2015 /

How are these two ideas about Islam and Muslims, seemingly held simultaneously by a lot of people, not completely incompatible with each other:

  1. Islam is a religion of peace and Muslims are peaceful folks (e.g., Hillary Clinton: “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”)
  2. We must be careful not to offend Muslims because if we do, they will kill us (e.g., Hillary Clinton: “They are going out to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”)

What am I missing?


Could Donald Trump Have Made More Money in an Index Fund?

28 Oct 2015 /
Trump blurb

Click to enlarge

I’ve seen this theory advanced by multiple sources, including the attached clipping, which I saw on Facebook. I don’t know the original source, but the finger-painting reference is a clue that the author has an anti-Trump agenda, hasn’t done the math and is just repeating something that may or may not be true for the benefit of anyone predisposed to believe it.

The actual National Journal article, which is targeted at readers who don’t know much about history, math or the Trump family, says this:

By putting his inheritance into the stock market back in the 1970s, [Donald] Trump might have been “really rich” without all the drama. . . . Had the celebrity businessman and Republican presidential candidate invested his eventual share of his father’s real-estate company into a mutual fund of S&P 500 stocks in 1974, it would be worth nearly $3 billion today, thanks to the market’s performance over the past four decades.

One big problem with that analysis: Donald Trump didn’t have an inheritance in the 1970s. His father, Fred Trump, was alive until 1999. When the author talks about Donald Trump investing his “eventual share,” what is he talking about? You can’t in 1974 invest an inheritance that you’re not going to have until 1999.

Donald and Fred Trump

Donald and Fred Trump

How much money exactly did Trump inherit? I couldn’t tell you, but working backward from the National Journal analysis, in order to have $3 billion today, you would have had to invest about $35 million in the S&P 500 in 1974.

Fred Trump died in 1999 with a net worth of $250-300 million. He had five children, one of whom predeceased him, so after estate tax and perhaps some charitable bequests, $35 million per child should at least be in the ballpark.

Had Donald Trump invested that amount in the S&P 500 when he actually received it in 1999, it would be worth about $70 million today, which is not bad, it’s more than I’ve got, but it wouldn’t make him a billionaire.

If he’d invested the $200 million that Forbes magazine determined he was worth in 1982 into that index fund, it would have grown to more than $8 billion today.

The math is right . . . the S&P 500 has increased about 4,000% since 1982. But why 1982? The author selected 1982 for a reason, although he doesn’t say what the reason is.

He tosses off 1982 like one date is as good as another so let’s go with 1982, and relies on readers not knowing or caring what he’s up to.

In 1982, the stock market had been flat for almost 15 years, after which it took off on the greatest bull market in history. Today, in 2015, anyone can tell you that you should have invested your entire net worth in the stock market in 1982. Even a modest $25,000 investment in 1982 would have allowed you to take up finger-painting and still be a millionaire today.

Making great investment decisions retroactively is very easy, like taking a test when you already know the answers.

The author dishonestly uses the S&P 500 as a proxy for average economic performance but picks a starting point, 1982, from which stock market performance was not only not average, it was historically unprecedented. It was the optimal investment point in American history.

Same objection applies to his previous example of a hypothetical S&P 500 investment in 1974. Why 1974? Because in 1974, the stock market was lower than any point since the early 1960s, and in hindsight can be identified as an optimal investment point for maximum return.


Cheaper Than Wallpaper

27 Sep 2015 /

Donald Trump

From the 60 Minutes interview with Donald Trump:

Scott Pelley: I was in your office . . . All the pictures on the wall are pictures of you.

Donald Trump: –well, it’s cheaper than wallpaper.


On This Day

19 Jul 2015 /
A Hospital Corpsman attached to the 3rd Battal...

A Hospital Corpsman attached to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines operating in Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On July 19, 1980, the Summer Olympics began in Moscow with dozens of nations boycotting because of Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

Thirty-five years later, there’s still a war going on in Afghanistan, so you can see what a shrewd foreign policy move that was.


Who Do They Think They Are?

22 May 2015 /

If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

Barry Goldwater, 1981

Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years

12 Feb 2015 /

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report on the black family, the controversial document issued while he served as an assistant secretary in President Lyndon Johnson’s Labor Department. Moynihan highlighted troubling cultural trends among inner-city blacks, with a special focus on the increasing number of fatherless homes.

For his troubles, Moynihan was denounced as a victim-blaming racist bent on undermining the civil-rights movement. . . .

Later this year the nation also will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which some consider the most significant achievement of the modern-day civil-rights movement. . . .

Since 1970 the number of black elected officials in the U.S. has grown to more than 9,000 from fewer than 1,500 and has included big-city mayors, governors, senators and of course a president.

But even as we note this progress, the political gains have not redounded to the black underclass, which by several important measures—including income, academic achievement and employment—has stagnated or lost ground over the past half-century. And while the civil-rights establishment and black political leaders continue to deny it, family structure offers a much more plausible explanation of these outcomes than does residual white racism.

In 2012 the poverty rate for all blacks was more than 28%, but for married black couples it was 8.4% and has been in the single digits for two decades. Just 8% of children raised by married couples live in poverty, compared with 40% of children raised by single mothers.

One important lesson of the past half-century is that counterproductive cultural traits can hurt a group more than political clout can help it.


‘I Am a Marxist’ Says Dalai Lama

2 Feb 2015 /
The 14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama identified himself as a Marxist on Tuesday while addressing capitalism, discrimination and violence at a lecture on world peace in Kolkata, India. This is not the first time that the 14th Dalai Lama has spoken about his political leaning – in 2011 he said: “I consider myself a Marxist…but not a Leninist” when speaking at a conference in Minneapolis . . .

The Tibetan spiritual leader partly blamed capitalism for inequality and said he regarded Marxism as the answer: “In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. In Marxism, there is emphasis on equal distribution,” he said.

— Newsweek

Hello, Dalai? An emphasis on equal distribution is not the same thing as equal distribution. In practice, there never seems to be equal distribution, because whoever gets to be in charge of actually distributing the goodies equally acquires a dictatorial level of power that would be wasted were it not used to make sure that most or all of the goodies get distributed to themselves and the people they like. This is followed by shortages, starvation and mass murder.


Civil Rights Symmetry

27 Jan 2015 /

Why does a Civil Rights Bill forbid me to apply racial criteria when I choose an employee but allow me to apply racial criteria when I choose an employer? If I turn down a job offer, should I be required to prove that my motives were not discriminatory? … Why am I permitted to apply racial criteria when I select a spouse but not when I select a personal assistant?

— Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

12 Dec 2014 /

The notion that we have limited access to the workings of our minds is difficult to accept because, naturally, it is alien to our experience but it is true: You know far less about yourself than you feel you do.

 

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.

 

It is the consistency of information that matters for a good story, not its completeness. Indeed, you will often find that knowing little makes it easier to fit everything you know into a coherent pattern.

 

The exaggerated faith in small samples is only one example of a more general illusion — we pay more attention to the content of messages than to information about their reliability, and as a result end up with a view of the world around us that is simpler and more coherent than the data justify.

 

Narrative fallacies arise inevitably from our continuous attempt to make sense of the world. The explanatory stories that people find compelling are simple; are concrete rather than abstract; assign a larger role to talent, stupidity, and intentions than to luck; and focus on a few striking events that happened rather than on the countless events that failed to happen.

 

Hindsight bias has pernicious effects on the evaluations of decision makers. It leads observers to assess the quality of a decision not be whether the process was sound but by whether its outcome was good or bad. . . . This outcome bias makes it almost impossible to evaluate a decision properly – in terms of the beliefs that were reasonable when the decision was made.

 

Stories of how businesses rise and fall strike a chord with readers by offering what the human mind needs: a simple message of triumph and failure that identifies clear causes and ignores the determinative power of luck and the inevitability of regression. These stories induce and maintain an illusion of understanding, imparting lessons of little enduring value to readers who are all too anxious to believe them.

 

For some of our most important beliefs we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold those beliefs.

 

Confidence is a feeling, which reflects the coherence of the information and the cognitive ease of processing it. It is wise to take admissions of uncertainty seriously, but declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true.

 

We know that people can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers.

 

The idea that the future is unpredictable is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained. . . Everything makes sense in hindsight . . . And we cannot suppress the powerful intuition that what makes sense in hindsight was predictable yesterday. The illusion that we understand the past fosters overconfidence in our ability to predict the future.

 

[Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania] interviewed 284 people who made their living “commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends. . . . In all, Tetlock gathered more than 80,000 predictions. . . . Respondents were asked to rate the probabilities of three alternative outcomes in every case: the persistence of the status quo, more of something such as political freedom or economic growth, or less of that thing.

The results were devastating. The experts performed worse than they would have if they had simply assigned equal probabilities to each of the three potential outcomes. In other words, people who spend their time, and earn their living, studying a particular topic produce poorer predictions than dart-throwing monkeys who would have distributed their choices evenly over the options. Even in the region they knew best, experts were not significantly better than nonspecialists.

 

Rehearse the mantra that will get you significantly closer to economic reality: you win a few, you lose a few.

 

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.

 

During the last 10 years we have learned many new facts about happiness. But we have also learned that the word happiness does not have a simple meaning and should not be used as if it does. Sometimes scientific progress leaves us more puzzled than we were before.


Whatever the Party Holds to Be the Truth

8 Nov 2014 /

“I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.”

— George Orwell, 1984

Proud to Be a Coal Miner’s Daughter

7 Nov 2014 /

Loretta Lynch

If she is nominated and confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first coal miner’s daughter to hold the job . . .


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