Archive of Articles in the "The President" Category

The Biden Conundrum

[ Posted Monday, February 27th, 2023 – 17:15 UTC ]

Game theory is a rather fun branch of mathematics that tries to predict the odds of having what you want happen, when stacked up against other rational agents. I've never studied it formally myself, but it's always intrigued me. The classic example (to me, anyway, and which I am not going to bother to explain) is that the contestant on Let's Make A Deal should always change their choice (of Doors Number One, Two, or Three) after the host reveals one of the prize packages, because doing so actually doubles the odds of getting the best prize package instead of the booby prize. Those are the sorts of puzzles it tries to figure out -- like what is the best amount of money to bet at the end of Jeopardy! (depending on how much you and your opponents have at the time). But both of those are examples with easily-quantifiable odds, which aren't always (in real life, outside of game shows) all that easy to accurately predict. So I'm using the term rather loosely here, not in a strict "figure the odds" mathematical way -- more of "gaming it out" than formal game theory. But the Biden conundrum has certainly been getting a lot of attention lately, so I thought I'd take a shot at playing the game too. Or, at the very least, outlining it in a rational fashion for everyone else to play too.

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Friday Talking Points -- Off The Rails

[ Posted Friday, February 24th, 2023 – 18:28 UTC ]

Trains were at the heart of the political scene this week. Internationally, President Joe Biden took a 10-hour train ride to get to Kyiv in person (which he must have thoroughly enjoyed, knowing his general love of trains). Domestically, the trainwreck in Ohio became sidetracked into a political circus.

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Free The Signs!

[ Posted Tuesday, February 21st, 2023 – 17:43 UTC ]

I begin today with a rather anti-sign song lyric, which is somewhat counterproductive since I am actually about to take a very pro-sign stance. But when it gets right down to it, there just aren't a whole lot of songs about signs to choose from, so we must make do with what we've got. This is also an unusual column for me to write since I will be inveighing against the heavy hand of the federal government, which I usually save for my thoughts on the federal War On Drugs and a few other choice issues.

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Celebrating Jimmy Carter

[ Posted Monday, February 20th, 2023 – 16:55 UTC ]

Former President Jimmy Carter has entered his final days. He has checked in to a hospice to live out his remaining time and, according to an official statement, has refused "additional medical care." So it seemed entirely appropriate to use this year's Presidents' Day to honor him. Carter was an extraordinary man and no matter what opinion you have about his presidency, he has set the absolute gold standard for doing good works as an ex-president -- that much is beyond dispute.

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Friday Talking Points -- Republican Woes

[ Posted Friday, February 17th, 2023 – 19:19 UTC ]

We have to begin today with a look at the woes of the Republican Party. Because, when you think about it, why not?

The most amusing news (speaking from across the political aisle) all has to do with the Republican Party trying to come to grips with another presidential nominating process with Donald Trump as the 800-pound elephant in the room. Most of the party establishment would dearly love to see literally anyone else win the nomination than Trump, but they also fear the prospect of Trump going rogue if he doesn't win and launching his own third-party bid.

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GOP Hasn't Changed Their Tune Since Ronald Reagan Entered Politics

[ Posted Thursday, February 16th, 2023 – 16:05 UTC ]

I'm going to end this column today with an excerpt from the archives, but I have to explain why I'm re-running it first. Because recently I have been sent into howls of laughter at the new Republican complaint: "How could you possibly accuse us of attacking Social Security and Medicare?!? What an absurd notion!" Not just peals of laughter, but also a Shakespearean-class eyeroll as well: The party doth protest too much, methinks.

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Haley Announces -- So Who's Next?

[ Posted Wednesday, February 15th, 2023 – 16:05 UTC ]

Nikki Haley became the second officially-announced presidential candidate from either of the two major American political parties yesterday. Initially she had teased that her big announcement would be today, but she must have been overcome with the Valentine's Day spirit or something, so she jumped the gun. Haley and Donald Trump are now the entire "officially-announced" field for 2024. Which immediately leads me to wonder: "Who's next?"

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Keeping America's Skies Balloon-Free

[ Posted Monday, February 13th, 2023 – 17:17 UTC ]

For a little over a week now, America's military might has been called into action to defend our airspace against... balloons. This has led to a frenzy of speculation about what, precisely, is going on up there. It even sparked a bit of a U.F.O. craze of the type not seen since at least Close Encounters Of The Third Kind came out, if not the original U.F.O. craze of the 1950s. This is pretty absurd when you think about it, though, since if advanced civilizations were indeed monitoring humans, you'd think they'd have slightly-more-sophisticated aircraft to do so than the one which travels the slowest and is the easiest to shoot down. But because the tally is now up to four such objects shot out of North America's skies, I thought I'd share my own ballooning thoughts today (pun very much intended).

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Friday Talking Points -- Biden Rope-A-Dopes GOP Into Showing Unity

[ Posted Friday, February 10th, 2023 – 17:57 UTC ]

President Joe Biden achieved -- in public and on national television -- a seemingly-impossible feat this week, as he vocally unified all of Congress in support of the long-held Democratic goal of protecting Social Security and Medicare from having their budget slashed by Republicans. That was pretty astonishing to see, you have to admit, since Republicans have been attacking Social Security since before Joe Biden was born (which is really saying something, considering he's about as far from a spring chicken as you can get). But suddenly they decided en masse to take exception with this fact, and loudly protested when Biden pointed out what they've essentially been saying for decades and decades. So Biden welcomed them into the fold of politicians who do fight to preserve the safety net, gleefully proclaiming he had achieved "unanimity." This was a warning to the Republicans that the subject of cuts to Social Security and Medicare were now officially off the table. Rarely has so major a bit of political bargaining worked so effectively during a State Of The Union speech. Which is why it was all so astonishing to watch.

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The GOP's Big 180

[ Posted Thursday, February 9th, 2023 – 16:23 UTC ]

It is always amusing when the Republican Party is forced to perform a whiplash-inducing 180-degree turn on an issue that they've solidly been on the other side of for a very long time. The previous notable instance of this was likely during their whole "repeal and replace Obamacare" fiasco, when they suddenly realized en masse that one of the most popular things about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the protection of people with pre-existing conditions who had previously been categorically denied even the chance to purchase health insurance. All of a sudden, Republicans started swearing up and down that they would also protect people with pre-existing conditions -- usually without a hint of how they were going to accomplish this fact. But they all started singing from Obamacare's playbook and praising it to the skies as a good thing (where previously they had tried to convince everyone that everything in Obamacare was bad and downright evil). In Tuesday's State Of The Union speech, President Joe Biden forced another major ideological U-turn of this magnitude upon the GOP, ironically aligning himself (!) with Donald Trump in the process. That's got a certain "through the looking glass" quality to it, you have to admit.

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