Florida man…oh man

Florida has announced that all efforts to prevent the spread of COVID are over. Mask mandates cannot be enforced statewide, and restrictions are being lifted. This is so unfortunate. Again, as I’ve been saying, let’s compare this to Israel, then let’s think about how hard we work to stop people from dying from car accidents.

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Right track or wrong direction?

Is the country on the right track or going in the wrong direction? A question that has been popular in political polls since it was introduced by pollsters working for Reagan in the late 1970s. It’s an odd question, because it lacks parallelism (perhaps should be right direction vs wrong direction), but it’s an interesting way to track voter behavior. This was, as are so many important things, alluded to in the opening of an episode of the West Wing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the clip on YouTube, but it was some pretty typical Sorkin writing that gives the characters an opportunity to teach the viewer about something.

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Is Trumpism a third party in the making?

As the election season gets closer to being over, and as the GOP convention finished its final night, I’m left watching the disdain for Trump come from all sides. There really isn’t a single group left (other than “Trump supporters”) that isn’t upset with him. In some ways, it almost seems like the makings of a third party, but probably not.

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Delight in suffering

Trump supporters like to talk about Trump Derangement Syndrome, in spite of having no idea where that phrase originated and what its originator thinks about Trump. Although I think the phrase is a bit over- and mis-used, the visceral disgust that many of us feel about Trump is real. I wouldn’t call it derangement, but there’s a real difference between how I feel about Trump and how I feel and have felt about politicians and pundits who haven’t shared my views in the past. I don’t think that’s because I’ve changed. I think it’s because there’s something vastly different about Trump and his supporters: they seem to place a higher value on upsetting their opponents than on achieving some policy goal.

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The never ending culture war

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been pretty active on social media still, but haven’t found the motivation to write anything more extensive like I usually write for this place. But my recent sadness has moved me to jot these thoughts down and put them here. My sadness is because of the turn that the culture war has taken. We used to argue about taxes and about whether companies should be regulated and if we should allow kids to pray in schools. The last argument I remember having with one side of my family (a side that has pretty much banned political discussions since Obama was elected) was about private vs public control of health insurance. It’s memorable to me as one of those conversations that runs in my mind because it should have gone so differently. I had made the case that the private sector couldn’t operate in the business of insuring the elderly because there’s simply no way to do it and turn a profit. The guy I was talking to pointed to Medicare advantage programs that are administered by private companies as evidence that they could. I don’t remember what happened next, or what I said, but I want to rewind and make the point that none of those programs work if the public sector isn’t paying the bill, or at least a big part of the bill. But I digress. My point here is that these are the things we used to argue about, sometimes getting hot about them. We talked about things and had strong opinions, but it all just felt different. Continue reading “The never ending culture war”

What do the COVID protesters want?

The COVID pandemic is causing pain all over. There’s no question about that. The United States and many other countries have been responding with orders to shut down non-essential businesses, and this has put many people out of work. But the efforts to flatten the curve seem to be working, and the projections for the total number of people expected to die are looking much better than before. They’re still projecting a tragic number of deaths, but not nearly as many as we could have. That’s good. At least I think it’s good. In several states, however, there are protests springing up about efforts to keep us safe.

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Quarantined

My family has been voluntarily quarantined for six days. My wife was frightened by the novel coronavirus first. We thought she was crazy, and made fun of her, but I soon was infected by her fear. At first I was just trying to be a good husband, and help present a united front for our kids, so they’d fall in line, but after some easy math, I got worried also. I hope I’m wrong. I hope this ends faster than we fear. I hope it takes fewer lives than I fear. I hope for all those things. I am, to a fault sometimes, a man of hope. But I’m afraid.

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The Thing About Biden

Full disclosure, I’m planning to vote for Joe Biden in the New York Primary and I hope to vote for him again in November. I won’t think twice about voting for Sanders in November if he wins the nomination. But I cannot ignore the thing about Biden: that he’s getting old and he’s not as quick as he once was. He stumbles on simple sentences. He makes mistakes as he speaks. He garbles words and can’t recall phrases that I bet he’s known his whole life. He’s getting old and he’s not as quick as he once was. But…

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Thursday reflections on Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday was this week and the results were a bit of a shock to the system. Biden’s momentum is strong and his win in South Carolina over the weekend and the new endorsements from his former opponents gave him a big boost in some key states. It was a bit of a tide change, and I’m not sure this shows up better than if we look at the betting odds for the nomination.

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Space Force (and roses called other things)

One of the places where I tend to disagree with other liberals is the defense budget. Attacking defense spending is a common hobby for many liberals. I get the appeal. I don’t like spending astronomical sums of money for the purpose of killing people. It doesn’t sit well with me. But what I’ve come to realize is that the defense budget is so much more than a killing budget. It’s a convenient way for Congress to allocate money to things we need, as a nation, but can’t convince many voters (or even Members of Congress) to support otherwise. How do some countries fight unemployment? They hire lots of people to work for the government. We do that too, through the military. Want to provide education and job training and healthcare for millions of Americans…put money for education and job training and healthcare into the Department of Defense budget and consider it done. Want to spend money on biomedical research, on materials research, on computing research, on all kinds of research…put money into the Department of Defense budget and consider it done.

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