Friday, August 30, 2019

Who controls the Senate in 2020 is as important as who is in the White House

Here is why I think how the Senate turns in 2020 is as important as who is elected president. It has to do with lower federal bench appointees approved by the Senate. McConnell has fast tracked ideologically oriented judges. It is not just the Supreme Court that is at stake: lower courts can nip in the bud such issues as Roe v Wade, environmental issues, voter suppression, health care.

https://www.thenation.com/article/trump-mcconnel-court-judges-plot/

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hate crimes: What Trump sows, Colorado reaps



Hate crimes in Colorado double. What Trump sows, Colorado reaps. Donald Trump has a long history of exploitation of racism to gain political power, as the father of birtherism and proposing and in executing extreme anti-immigration policies, and in rally chants.  In doing that, he has sowed the seeds of an increase in hate crimes, even in a state like Colorado.  Colorado is one of the least likely states to experience an increase in hate crimes,  with its strong economy and a relatively tolerant citizenry. Per the state's homeland Security and Emergency Management Division, hate crimes doubled in 2018 over the prior year after declining in 2016 and 2017.  In 2018, 185 hate crimes were reported, as compared to 96 in 2017.  The offenses are mostly intimidation, followed by assault and vandalism. Victims of racial violence were by far the largest numbers, followed by gender bias and a rise in anti-Semitic crimes.  Something is causing the mentally unbalanced or those consumed by hate and anger to act out.

Why pin this on Trump? What has changed recently that may account for this increase in Colorado?  We cannot blame economic stress since Colorado has the best economy in the US nor can we cite a change in public sentiment or state leadership or local demagogues gaining prominence.  In fact, our current elected political leadership, from the Statehouse to our Congressional delegation are themselves more diverse, racially, religious affiliated, and gender identified than ever before. Something else is going on.

The chief suspect  of inspiring the acts of violence is the permission slip given by a president who winks, nods, and exhorts  racial and religious intolerance of brown immigrants, and "others" , while welcoming immigrants from Norway and white Europe instead of from  'sh..holes countries, and slamming the door shut on them and others..  He sometimes uses cruelty against migrants and their children at the border, depriving them of bare essentials and proposes putting them in indefinite confinement run by private enterprises benefitting from profitable prison vendor contracts. When some of this can be owed to incompetent administration, Trump then covers his mess-ups with claims it was his intended policy to send some signal to wannabe migrants they face pain and suffering if they dare cross the border.   His policies of separation of families and "losing" track of their children had alternatives. It was not a choice between open borders and mass incarceration and cruelty to migrants as he paints it.  He could have put the border wall money into more immigration judges to sort legitimate asylum seekers from others and he could have enhanced the use of modern technology coupled with the portion of border wall funding,  authored  by Congress as bi-partisan  backed legislation, or he could have increased the aid to the central American countries hurting from poverty, crime and gang warfare instead of cutting aid off as punishment.  To pay for more immigrant ICE detention centers and judges to edict migrants to remain in Mexico, he is putting in jeopardy the well-being of US citizens by diverting  $271 million of emergency management funds that were meant to cover disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. Timing for this weakening of FEMA is particularly unfortunate since it is as a hurricane takes aim at Florida as a major hurricane,  the Atlantic hurricane season starts, and the  Colorado dry fall wildfire season begins.
All of this action is to make good on his promises to keep those brown people out of this country and save us from murderers and rapists.  Most studies, data, and statistics indicate undocumented migrants and immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than those in the US.  Donald Trump's hate-fueling utterances and public policies have made us in Colorado even more fearful and less safe.

https://www.cpr.org/2019/08/07/hate-crimes-in-colorado-nearly-doubled-from-2017-to-2018-hitting-a-5-year-high/

https://www.factcheck.org/2018/06/is-illegal-immigration-linked-to-more-or-less-crime/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fema-funds-to-ice-trump-administration-disaster-aid-money-to-migrant-detention-centers-dorian-approaches-puerto-rico/

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/white-evangelicals-love-trump-aren-t-confused-about-why-no-ncna1046826?fbclid=IwAR0tcSXMRljOG





Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Falun Gong, Shen Yun, become supporters of Trump and deep state anti vac QAnon

https://www.nbcnews.com/…/trump-qanon-impending-judgment-da… 
On August 23, 2019, Facebook banned ads from Epoch Times. 
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/23/facebook-bans-ads-from-the-epoch-times-after-huge-pro-trump-buy.html 

In early summer of 2016 I attended a sold-out dance performance of Shen Yun in Denver's Center for the Performing Arts, a presentation of spectacular acrobatic traditional Chinese dances sprinkled with an anti Chinese government and a spiritual message of peace and tragedy of a persecution of a minority religion., both values to which I subscribed and I was quoted in Epoch Times post-performance. There seemed nothing domestically political about the troop's message and I assumed it must have been connected with a religious cult-like Falun Gong which had been prosecuted by the Chinese government and had a large following among Chinese refugees in the US. My suspicions were correct, as it turned out...but in 2016, the media arm of Falun Gong took a turn to US politics, supporting Donald Trump as they saw him as the instrument to end Communism in China. They have also become purveyors of online conspiracy theories supporting Qanon, recently declared by the FBI as a domestic terrorist organization,  and the anti vac movement. I find this more than disturbing and for those contemplating attending the next Shen Yun presentation in Denver, keep that in mind. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/qanon-domestic-terrorism-threat-conspiracy-theory-866288/

About this website

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Started almost two decades ago with a stated mission to “provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Elizabeth Warren vs Donald Trump's slurs.

Trump continues his racist put down of Elizabeth Warren..with his Pocohantas slur. It has been going on for a couple of years and now Warren is rising to equal Biden so Trump's put down did not work. His recent rants at rallies show he has not given up and we can expect more of the same in the future. She fumbled the answer a year ago and did a DNA test which shows she has some Native American DNA, but not much and long in the past. Once Warren had marked native American on one application, but it never gave her an advantage in hiring and she has not done it since. I have posted the difficulty between ancestral claims and enough DNA to qualify to be on a Cherokee nation rolls., which is very strict and hard to meet. She does not. As a person growing up in Cherokee country in Oklahoma...and with most of my classmates qualifying for Cherokee tribal rolls. and with both my attitude and American history presented from the Cherokee viewpoint, let me, 100% of European DNA, tell how this happens. Cherokees occupied land in Southeastern US and became cotton farmers and "civilized", sending their principal chiefs to Harvard. However, under Andrew Jackson, their cotton land was coveted by others who were running out of land for expansion in the Southern States. Jackson forcefully removed the Cherokees to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, in 1838, following earlier forced marches by Choctaws, in one of the most horrific acts committed against native Americans, force marching them on the infamous Trail of Tears in winter in which 5000 died. Since the late 1830s, Cherokees in  Indian Territory/Eastern Oklahoma hunted and farmed there and intermarriage with Whites was not uncommon. There were also Black slaves who intermarried with the Cherokees, though mostly those mixed marriages were with Choctaws, also persecuted and relocated under terrible forced marches before the Civil War. The result is that most of those tracing ancestors in Oklahoma for a couple of generations and even back to a time before the Trail of Tears, are of mixed heritage but still boast proudly of  Cherokee blood. It is not unusual for whispers of this mixed ancestor to be passed down to their descendants as a matter of pride in the face of prejudice, even though the DNA tracings may go back generations. I treasure my education from the Cherokee viewpoint and owe it to a lifelong dedication to helping those who have faced discrimination and mistreatment in the past. I get how cruel the ruling majority can be to an ethnic, racial minority and much of it has to do with economic exploitation, from grabbing tribal cotton lands to slavery to pick the cotton and so many other tragic examples. It is a shame and blot on our country's history. Warren may have some of the same sympathies for Native Americans I have, even though the DNA may be small or zero. It is baked in the nature of many eastern Oklahomans as she is.

https://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/trail-of-tears

https://www.yahoo.com/news/warren-apologizes-to-native-americans-i-am-sorry-for-the-harm-i-have-caused-163556441.html

From a 10/15/18 Muftic Forum blog posting;Elizabeth Warren and I both have eastern Oklahoma roots:

I, too, am from eastern Oklahoma, though neither of my parents were from there. In my school classroom in the late 40's and early 50'nearly 2/3 were native American on tribal rolls and nearly everyone else could report somewhere in their backgrounds were native American ancestors, and told so by a grandmother.. The native Americans there were moved by Andrew
Jackson from the southeastern US. in the 1840's. While Warren's DNA was not weighted enough to qualify for the tribal rolls, it did not negate the fact that her grandmother believed she had Native American in her heritage and now she has strong evidence it was so. Check out http://www.okhistory.org/research/dawes

Elizabeth Warren never claimed she was on the Cherokee tribal rolls nor did she rely on Cherokee heritage for job applications. However, her DNA contains a bit of Cherokee in her. To be on the tribal rolls (per the Cherokee nation web site)" To be eligible for Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship, you must be able to provide documents that connect you to a direct ancestor listed on one of the Dawes Final Rolls of Citizens of the Cherokee Nation. To be eligible for a federal Certificate Degree of Indian Blood, you must demonstrate through documentation that you descend directly from a person listed on the Dawes’ “by Blood” rolls. This group of census rolls were taken between 1899-1906 of Citizens and Freedmen residing in Indian Territory (now northeastern Oklahoma). If your ancestor did not live in this geographical area during that time period, they will not be listed on the Dawes Rolls."

Sunday, August 18, 2019

2020: It's the economy,stupid.

Felicia Muftic I have a theory: I sense a shift in publics' top issues. With recent market gyrations and economists' raising concerns about a future recession, the economy is in sharper focus than before when there were no economic clouds on the horizon. This may be too soon to register in opinion polls.  The reason that Warren has risen is that she has her finger on where a large segment of the national mood is now. It is the economy, stupid. Trump has succeeded in convincing his cult followers that he is the only one to provide them with the right economic populist approach, even though trickle-down failed. Others' approaches would make things worse than they have it now. It could be a lot worse with "socialists". who would bankrupt the economy., so his line goes. This only works if the economy does not take a turn for the worse before November 2020. Warren has a specific economic populist approach that she has been able to explain in not threatening tones aimed at the financial sector, mostly. She has so far escaped putting a price tag on her plans or an overt socialist tag. She has a more narrow focus on specific issues, claiming she just wants the capitalist economy to work better for all.  She may get away with it because like Bernie, she is no phony and has a long track record of advocating for her plans. It may come down to whom voters trust more to be on their side when it comes to economic populism and it may be more of a matter of personalities instead of plans and ideology. Biden has a more general approach: steady at the wheel and no crazy boat-rocking. His plans for the economy are more traditional and moderate and that appeals to another segment of swing voters who are not feeling economically strapped but who are disgusted with the craziness, lies, misogyny, and racism. His old guy, his long public record would not scare them off and leave them sitting on their hands on election day. Any of the above mentioned Democratic candidates could still win and be better than the Trump nut house. The irony is that it may not come down to who has the better economic populist plan or the more appealing personality, but an economic downturn would yank the rug out from any of Trump's claim he has the best plan. Timing is everything, but for that latter theory to work, the downturn needs to come before November 2020. That is more than a theory, but it is not yet a sure bet.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/tariffs-cost-americans-115849705.html?utm_content=buffer7dc8c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm

Health insurance: Employer provided insurance is no gem

While many are aghast that single-payer health insurance or Medicare for All advocated by several Democratic candidates would require you to give up your employer-provided insurance, employer insurance is not the gem many think it is. Health care costs have risen, but employer contributions to health insurance have not.  Employees are paying more and more out of pocket.  However, I still believe consumers want a choice of their providers, whether it be employer-provided or offered by the government or private companies.  The problem is that to make a cost comparison among all three or even to make an informed choice is difficult or impossible. Trump and the GOP's plan to repeal Obamacare would even remove that option, leaving millions with no insurance whatsoever.  As this article points out, the real problem is the rising cost of health care and little is being done to bring down costs. Prescription drug costs are key, but even that which has had bi-partisan support cannot surmount Congressional gridlock.  The choice between unaffordable providers is no choice.  There is currently no competition to force providers to become more efficient or cost-effective.  A government public option and requiring competitive bidding for provider formularies, including Medicaid and Medicare, might at least provide incentives for providers to lower their own administrative costs and accept lower margins if they want to survive.  The Obamacare method of giving you a choice of private plans was supposed to provide a degree of competition, but it was never designed to be the whole plan.  Politics forced the Obama administration to drop the government-regulated, nonprofit public option that would have provided a greater measure of competition.  Private health provider company lobbyists did not want the competition, but now they may be faced with even the elimination of private health insurance that is threatened by some candidates.    In their greed, they may have planted the seeds of their own self-destruction.

Update: Not available to Grand County consumers, yet, but for government employees: https://www.skyhinews.com/news/grand-county-joins-peak-health-alliance/


https://finance.yahoo.com/news/health-care-employer-expensive-america-134313774.html

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The I70 corridor mess:trying to fix it again

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News  9 18 2019.

Grand County issues:


A recent Summit  Daily story published in the Sky-Hi News August 14, 2019,   reported on a Colorado Department of Transportation listening tour in Summit County to help them plan for the next ten years in the I 70 corridor. They are considering all modes of transportation, not just highways. CDOT plans to visit all 64 counties and Grand County needs to get its plans and input in shape. https://www.skyhinews.com/news/i-70-concerns-dominate-conversation-at-cdot-listening-tour-stop-in-summit-county/An August 17 story in the Sky Hi News may give us hope for a commuter bus, but it is in the distance, 2021, and might even bypass Winter Park, Fraser, and Granby. https://www.skyhinews.com/news/as-cdot-considers-steamboat-bustang-route-winter-park-lobbies-for-a-stop/?fbclid=IwAR3QfsXs78BjGUZmqEcooWVJirtU0vk5RKjHmU0dM45TB45sYHY-YBrS8EQ The good news is that any improvements to I 70 benefit Grand County whose economic wellbeing depends heavily on second home and skier traffic from the Front Range and Denver International Airport (DIA).  The bad news for Grand County is that the focus on I 70 could leave US 40 and Grand County as an appendix to the main transportation corridor unless it formulates plans to connect with I 70 improvements and participates in shaping them. Northwest Regional Council of Government and county transportation plans found in an internet search are dated and do not address connections with I 70 now or in the future.

The challenge for Grand County is how to make it easier to tap onto the I-70 improvements and to help shape those projects.  In the meantime, I 70  improvements are in the works. Just beginning are constructing the westbound toll express lane from Twin Tunnels to Empire, including a remake of the Empire bridge enabling better merge of our US 40 with I 70.  The survey and utility stakes are already pounded in the ground.  If we thought the pain of construction of eastbound toll lanes was bad, we are now going to experience it all over again until the spring of 2021. The end result may be worth our suffering, but in the meantime, ouch.

There is a history here that is etched in the memories of old-timers when Fraser was leaving planet earth in the '70s and before I-70. US 40 from Denver with two lanes was an adventure in mountain driving.  I-70 was routed through Summit and Eagle counties although Grand County was considered.  For many years, Grand County remained mostly an island in the sky with difficult access through high passes.US 40 over Berthoud Pass was a flatlander's nightmare.   In the Fraser Valley, a boomlet of development with promises of 1976  Winter Olympics (defeated by voters) died on the vine; tradesmen left the valley and real estate and land prices never recovered until after the Great Recession of 2008. Even still, Grand County's greatest draw has always been that it is near Denver and still relatively affordable.  In the 1980's Denver, the source of second home investment was in economic struggles with the collapse of oil prices and the takeover of banking by out of state giants.  Front Range residents were just trying to avoid foreclosure on their homes.  Building I 70, the opening of DIA, high tech industry increase, and the general economic growth of the Front Range bootstrapped Denver into the best economy in the nation by 2019 and with that came wealth to buy second homes, demand for US 40 Berthoud pass improvements, now completed,  and ski area expansions.

 In 2001 voters in the front range refused to pay for a monorail to Vail. They never understood how it benefitted them in Denver to pay for a bunch of rich skiers to have easier transportation to luxury resorts. Any improvements even to I 70 would have to be self-funded by tolls, a truism to this day.  Talk about automobile tunnels under Berthoud or the Front Range mountains directly east of Winter Park and Fraser went nowhere.  The ski train died and was resurrected, but only for weekends in ski season.  Amtrak's California Zephyr seems never to be on time, but while economical for trips to Denver,  its unreliability has never served as a commuter-friendly service. Taxi and van services kept raising rates and made DIA their destination, not Denver itself or its newly constructed Union Station hub.  Federal funds for any infrastructure got snagged in Washington gridlock in spite of bi-partisan support. Bus service is Greyhound once a day, but Summit and Eagle Counties got Bustang, a Colorado Department of Transportation commuter bus, that also stops in Idaho Springs three times a day and serves Denver's Union Station, with connections to DIA and light rail.  Grand County does not have a pubic transit connection with Bustang between Idaho Springs or Summit County.  Per a report in the August 17 Sky Hi News, a Bustang route from Denver to Steamboat is on the table, but there is no sure-fire agreement whether it is going via US 40 or Highway 9. Kremmling may benefit, Winter Park, Fraser, Hot Sulphur, and Granby could be left high and dry.
The hour and a half or two hour drive to Denver or DIA under the most favorable conditions  make that distance  seem close but still far away when winter driving conditions,  avalanche control, and tourist/skier traffic add hours to the drive., In short, alternative ways to get to the Front Range from Grand County and vice versa are either prohibitively expensive, undependable or have destinations that are inconvenient.  Even buses will have problems with traffic and weather so long as they use highways. Express lanes help, but Mother Nature will always challenge us. That is the reality of living in the high country, but at least we can deal with man-made challenges with more mass transit from bus service to rail.  Now that Grand County's southeast end has a year-round tax-supported local bus service, and the west end saw road improvements to Summit County, the focus should begin the shift to alternatives to automobiles to building better access to and from our Island in the Sky. As a senior who still drives the pass, but facing even older age, it would be nice to have some other way than by car to get to Denver to visit children and grandchildren, to shop, and to get medical services not available in the county. I plead a degree of self-interest in making this case for affordable travel alternatives.

https://coloradosun.com/2019/07/10/interstate-70-westbound-toll-lane-colorado/

 https://www.skyhinews.com/news/i-70-concerns-dominate-conversation-at-cdot-listening-tour-stop-in-summit-county/

https://www.skyhinews.com/news/as-cdot-considers-steamboat-bustang-route-winter-park-lobbies-for-a-stop/?fbclid=IwAR3QfsXs78BjGUZmqEcooWVJirtU0vk5RKjHmU0dM45TB45sYHY-YBrS8EQ

https://www.skyhinews.com/news/study-suggests-high-speed-transit-system-to-mountains-could-provide-economic-benefits/,
Duh, per a reader's comment. Here's mine:
If it does not connect to Grand County, it will not be helpful to us in Grand County. I will be great for our ski area competitors, though, and hell will freeze over before this dream is a reality for the I70 folks.. The same arguments were used when the voters turned down the Monorail to Vail proposal several years ago because front range voters could not see the benefit to them and they didn't want to pay for rich skiers to go to ski resorts. Federal infrastructure money is stuck in Congress and mostly would benefit highways and bridges. Consequently, such improvements have to be funded by tolls and users for now, as are the express lanes, and whatever scraps of money the State can find and the Feds could squeeze out.. The best bet for anything in the foreseeable future, commuter Bustang going through Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, Hot Sulphur, Kremmling on US 40 to Steamboat.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hong Kong and Moscow demonstrations: the fate of autocracies

The street demonstrations in Russia and the bloody crackdown on the occupiers of the Hong Kong airport are how disgruntled citizens react when democracy fails to give them hope that change will happen and their autocratic leaders will listen. Is this the kind of future for America we want to see?

  Autocracies such as  Donald Trump admires never have a peaceful ending. When people lose faith that they can fairly get the government to listen, eventually that autocracy will fall by coup or by mob action.   Suppression of presumed anti-government voters, permitting propaganda and lies on favored media to fool them, enstalling only supporters to be appointed judges,  and subverting and ignoring the rule of law, make such riots and demonstrations one outlet for rage and regime change and another other is often a coup by one autocrat replacing another.

Losing faith in the integrity of the ballot box and only permitting candidates on the ballot box approved by the autocrat..as Putin has done,  is an old Soviet tactic.  The new generation of Russians who are protesting are not fooled.  The treaty setting up Hong Kong as a democracy with their own judiciary was violated when China permitted extradition to the mainland. Those who are protesting are angry.  Constitutions are only as good and effective guardians of democracy as their citizens' support.  If the US Constitution is followed with integrity, the document provides a peaceful way to change regimes and a method to vent anger peacefully. What is dismaying in America, so many are so supportive of Trump's attempt to establish an autocracy based upon him at the head.  He has not yet controlled the election process nor has he stacked the courts enough yet to succeed. The answer in 2020 is still a functioning democracy and the ability for the electorate to vote him out before he can do more damage to our fragile democracy with a second term.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Promoters and fellow travelers of white nationalism: be careful what you wish

I remember Neo-Nazi chants in Charlottesville, "Jews will not replace us". The "replacement" word was picked up by many on the right and applied to Hispanics and immigrants. If this is not white nationalism, I do not know what is. The results: the words from right-wing media...and that includes Fox stars, ..inspired the El Paso shooter who used the same words to justify his murder of 22, targeting in his own words Hispanics. Those who approve or repeat such language are complicit in promoting white nationalism. ..and racism. The results will be the opposite of what they wished.

For those who protest this designation, think what the end result of their words means.  With or without "the invasion" of migrants, the demographic shift of the makeup of America to more brown and black citizens will happen anyway because of projected birth rates. So what is the goal now? Slow it down by scaring migrants off with acts of cruelty or by inspiring angry young men to kill them? 

 If the fear harbored by Republicans is that the impact of more black and brown citizens voting for Democrats,, the backlash could be much more immediate instead of farther in the future.  Not only are polls showing the important swing voters, suburban women, are more likely to vote for Democrats, because of the Trump administration's racial politics, Hispanic citizens traditionally have a large segment, 20 to 30%, who have voted Republican in past elections and that ratio could change..  The Republican party will for years be known as the party of white nationalists and enemies of Hispanics as a group.  If the RNC's goal is to suppress the growth of Hispanics voting Democrat, this strategy of embracing white nationalism and inspiring racism will backfire long term because even those Hispanics who are already citizens will be swept up in the hatred of them because of their color, race, name, and background regardless of their political philosophy or citizenship status. If the GOP fears a high turnout of African-Americans and Hispanics in 2020, they are doing all in their power to increase the turnout of those voices and voters they have attempted to suppress. It is a lesson they should have learned in the 2018 midterms. The historic turnout of minority voters turned red districts blue, including Colorado's 6th Congressional District and contributed to the House of Representatives flipping to blue. 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/11/business/media/el-paso-killer-conservative-media.html?fbclid=IwAR0NgljYjRkh5PvPp4SEBWgUtAdkHr

https://www.apnews.com/e1d98f7567f947d49f698e3ee0f234a3
(Trump's racial politics turns off suburban women)


https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/11/09/how-latinos-voted-in-2018-midterms/

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/01/historic-highs-in-2018-voter-turnout-extended-across-racial-and-ethnic-groups/

Friday, August 9, 2019

Trump's China Trade wars: stupid is as stupid does

Stupid is as stupid does and stupid are those who believe Trump's line that China pays.. Three heavyweights..Harvard, U of Chicago, and the Federal Reserve.. studies show that American consumers get stuck with the cost of Trump's tariffs on imported goods, not China. In September, all consumer goods from China will get a 10% tariff and we ..not China..will pay for it. GDP growth was slowed by the trade war and for that reason, the Fed lowered interest rates to head off inflationary pressures.
This does not count the billions of taxpayer bailouts to the midwest farmers who lost their China markets and will suffer from long term impacts of that loss, even if a trade deal is reached.. Trump may be living up to his campaign promises to the midwest rust belt but as plant closings continue, it may be obvious to the rest of us that ...that his promises themselves were based on stupid economic assumptions. It was not that Trump was not warned about the results, but to cover his tail, he has to keep lying to Fox et al viewers that what they will see on price tags when they shop this fall is a figment of their imagination.


https://www.newsweek.com/trump-trade-war-china-tariffs-study-1453160?fbclid=IwAR28TLkL1DVRUjW3PfE71cuKh6vvafywfmYDEkOLNhPGVfFPz61XLy

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

El Paso and Dayton: preventing the next carnage

The horrors of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have been so difficult to watch on TV that I felt a need to re-examine my views on gun legislation. What can be done to stop future carnage? No single approach will work because there is no single cause motivating shooters. It will take a multi-pronged approach. What techniques employed in recent mass killings involved the use of weapons of war; that is what those shooters had in common, so I will focus on that one commonality, knowing that was the most obvious factor: easy civilian access to weapons of war provided the enabling hardware.

Do I need to re-examine my prior thoughts on the issue of sensible gun legislation? I have gone back to my February 2018 posting inspired by Parkland and updated my thoughts in bold italics. I have not addressed Donald Trump's role in inspiring the El Paso shooter or the commercials running those paint immigrants as an invasion, invoking racial tropes, because in these two incidents over the weekend the motivations of the shooters appear to be quite different.

What was very striking was that in the two incidents, shooters used weapons of war and had the ability to kill so many so quickly. Weapons of war are what put "Mass" in the death toll and tagged the designation of the two events as"mass shooting". In his initial response to the weekend carnage, President Trump ignored the obvious. In condemning white nationalism, the left has not ignored the obvious. Weapons of war are the tools of both the emotionally disturbed and terrorists of any ideological stripe.

For sure, we cannot end racism, the core culture of white nationalists, but we can dim the voice of the inspirers and enablers with political pressure and elections. Cracking down on "domestic terrorism" does give the FBI more human and legal resources and tools to prevent ideologically motivated wannabe mass killers. Every bit of that will help. The problem is more widespread than just domestic terrorism, but every bit of harnassing FBI attention to domestic terrorism may be a positive outcome of the El Paso tragedy. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/11/business/media/el-paso-killer-conservative-media.html
"
To reexamine my views on sensible gun legislation, I added comments to a blog posting published on 2/16/18 in which I reported on a dialogue I had with a gun rights advocate. The original posting is in regular type and my updates this August 2019 are in italics, bold. I tackle the NRA's slogan answer to mass shootings that guns do not kill people, people kill people. the second amendment, and putting guns in the hands of good guys to stop bad guys.

The addition and changes to the 2018 facebook and blog posting debate between a gun rights advocate and me:
"...any answer I give will change no minds of those who believe otherwise, but I could not help myself but engage. The Parkland, Fla massacre was my inspiration. Perhaps it might help if you are at a loss for words, but here it is, reproduced from Facebook.(Clarification added later in parentheses)


Gun rights advocate: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” That similar phrase often used by the NRA was invoked by Pres. Trump in response to the El Paso and Dayton mass killings when he tried to put the blame on mental health and divert attention to other methods of mass killings. The use of fertilizer to bring down the Oklahoma City federal building in that domestic terrorist attack and pressure cookers in the Boston Marathon attack are valid examples, but both were later curtailed by requiring or encouraging or crime-solving when sales of those items got the attention of law enforcement. Sensible gun regulation legislation on the federal level has not resulted in any action and in many states, as well. A federal approach is needed to deal with states that have taken no action and to eliminate the alternative of going to a permissive state if a person's home state has taken action.



Me:..semi automatics kill people more, better, faster...it is the weapon of such peoples' choice because it is a machine geared for killing lots of people at once. I am tired of the slogan " guns don't kill people;people kill people". It is an ignorant and deceptive one. Yes people kill people and they use a weapon that should not be in their hands...or any other civilian's.


Gun rights advocate:Guns don't work unless someone is holding it, aiming at people, and pulling the trigger with intent to kill.


Me: And it enables them to kill without much skill and without much reloading quickly. (or much aiming, either) Get real. If you do not intend to kill a bunch of people...why have them?  To show your weapon is bigger than someone else's?  To help the gun manufacturer's make more money?  To keep gun control from going down a slippery slope?(semi automatics are unique and easy to define and control; we did it already a couple of years ago)

Gun rights advocate: There are other methods to kill a bunch of people. Guns are not the problem.

Me:They are the ones that appear in nearly every mass killing since the assault rifle ban was lifted. The numbers of mass killings have accelerated at a huge pace since then.AR-15 style rifles were used during mass shootings in California, Connecticut, Florida, Oregon, Texas and Colorado and Las Vegas. And now add many more...including El Paso and Dayton. I have lost count.
The Dayton shooting produced some astonishing statistics: Law enforcement brought down the shooter in 39 seconds, yet using an assault rifle, nine people were killed and over 40 shell casings were found. He had the capacity for many more rounds and we can imagine the death toll if he made it into the bar itself. We will never ever see a law enforcement response any faster than the one in Dayton because enforcement was already in the immediate vicinity. The problem is a hardware problem and whether white nationalists inspired by the internet and a pandering president or inspired by something else, including mental health issues, suicide by cop, soul-eating hatred of a sibling or a lover, or loss of job or life's disappointments, the weapon provides the mass destruction without the skill of aiming.

To protect the 2nd amendment? Even a Supreme Court justice..a conservative..believes you do not have an unlimited right. From the Heller decision, Justice Antonin Scalia:: “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”


The late justice also more generally offered the belief that “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” It is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”


..Your last picture of a warning on a school that those inside are armed to deter wannabe shooters is a strategy rejected both by school administrators and law enforcement because it would catch innocents in the crossfire and would make it impossible for the first responding to know who the bad guy was if everyone was carrying a weapon. Friendly fire is not friendly. It is as deadly as a bullet from the bad guy.


Gun rights advocate: Ok so let's just let the guy keep shooting until he runs out of ammo. Great idea.

Texas is an open-carry state and friendly to concealed weapons. During the event in El Paso, there was a fear that those civilians who carried weapons might be mistaken for the shooter himself...but small arms turned out to be no factor...as well as no deterrent... and the shooter lived to tell his story. In short, pistol carriers are outgunned by large magazine assault rifles.

Another commenter:  When President Reagan was nearly assassinated, he was surrounded by professional sharpshooters. They couldn't stop the assassin. You think you can?

Me, later: (Better idea, gun rights advocate: Stop sales of assault rifles, semi-automatics and their large clips of ammo.) No change in my thoughts about this as the result of El Paso and Dayton. Mental health services might help, but in the wake of the Aurora Colorado theatre shooting, the shooter had been under the care of a psychiatrist who did flag him, but restrictions kept anyone from acting. My psychologist friends (I am a supporter of mental health system improvements and access to counseling through a faith-based organization) tell me even then they have only a 50-50 chance of predicting which of their patients will carry out mass shootings or kill someone. Mental health is a factor, but in courts of law, the insanity plea is rarely successful. Should we improve our mental health services? Yes. Every little bit will help, but it is not a panacea or even a major deterrent. Without red flag laws permitting reporting of people may be a threat and without universal background checks, improved mental health access still hamstrings the ability for mental health professionals to prevent mass killings.
http://bigthink.com/risk-reason-and-reality/the-supreme-court-ruling-on-the-2nd-amendment-did-not-grant-an-unlimited-right-to-own-guns
"https://slate.com/technology/2018/04/anger-isnt-a-mental-illness-but-we-should-still-treat-it.html
Is mental health the cause of mass killings? The writer of this post gives us some important food for thought. From this psychologists viewpoint, the motivation is uncontrolled anger ...rarely an underlying mental illness. This supports an argument of why we need red flag laws and background checks as part of sensible gun legislation. However, the solution she suggests goes far beyond any legislation discussed today...it is teaching young people anger management and the tools are there...even in Colorado, which she holds up as one model.

https://www.denverpost.com/2019/08/05/red-flag-gun-laws-trump-colorado/

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Last night's Democratic candidate debate: a club soda


Last night's Democratic Presidential candidate debate was like a club soda...lots of fizz, but missing a satisfying taste.  CNN structured that debate for Joe Biden to be a pinata and in so doing, Obama was more the object of the left's disaffection instead of Donald Trump. News flash. The point of 2020 will be Trump vs Democrats and never
Trumpers and whatever version of health care, immigration, and economic fairness trump Trump.  The questions were posed to maintain that focus on the differences between candidates deeply entangled in the public policy weeds for the entire night to the neglect of economic and racial and gender fairness as a contrast with Trump. If there were winners, Biden showed he could take the hits and throw a few himself. He survived and his poll numbers may also survive. Whether the Democratic Party won enough to beat Trump is even more questionable than before.

What was missing from the debate were any contrasts or hits on the top concern of most Democrats is beating Trump. Strangely, the outrage of Trump's revealed overt racism and his subversion of democracy, Trumps stuffing the courts with anti Roe v Wade judges,  his feeding the wellbeing of the top 1%  to the neglect of the middle class ,and his personal amorality and administrative incompetence either were ignored or were barely mentioned, yet those are key motivating voter factors. 

When all is said and done the Democratic Party made little headway in winning the main event in 2020.  The bottom-line question is whether Democrats can retake the industrial blue-collar states to garner enough electoral votes while holding onto their 2018 midterm gains and the states they won in 2016. Blue-collar Biden would be an acceptable alternative there to those key states, but it is not clear if blue-collar voters in these industrial states are seeking an alternative to Trump. If anything, on issues of open borders and loss of private insurance which would affect more than those currently benefitting from Obamacare. moved to the forefront, which could be turnoffs to those critical states, while Democrats left with firming up their blue state wins and a repeat of 2016. The unspoken hope for Democrats is Trump himself whose policies of white nationalism, anti-choice, and climate change denial will cause a higher voter turnout of minorities, young people, and suburban women and the debaters did nothing to advance those causes dear to the turnout of those groups. Those issues should not remain unspoken in future debates.

 For example, the whole focus on health care policy was the weeds of the details and difference between various "moderate" defend amend Obamacare with a public option and repeal and replace Obamacare with the Canadian system.  The moderates tried to scare potential Bernie backers with arguments his plan would eliminate all private insurance, including employer insurance and the cost of his proposals and tax increases that would offset deductibles and copays.   None on the pure Medicare for all Sanders, Warren end of the spectrum backed up the tradeoffs with any projected cost/benefits evidence.  The greatest sin committed by all on the stage was only giving brief mention or no mention at all was that Donald Trump's administration was attempting to throw out Obamacare in total by backing action in the courts that would do it, leaving many without any coverage whatsoever.
Either plan, total Medicare for All or mend Obamacare, would be far better than anything the GOP offers.  Also, while scaring voters they would lose their employer insurance may be an effective strategy, where the moderate debaters missed a good point, consumers would have a choice of what they wanted, a more positive message, than a message of l fear of loss.. Barely uttered by moderates was if consumers if they liked their insurance they have and did not like the Medicare public option, they could keep it.   Neither the Sanders/Warren approach or Trump would leave consumers with a choice.  Trump's idea to eliminate Obamacare with no replacement would leave millions without a choice of anything they could afford and would not solve the high deductibles and premiums and coverage of pre-existing conditions.

The other flashpoint was on immigration, pitting the left against moderates on whether the undocumented migrants would be subject to criminal or civil law.  That is a legal fine point that is confusing but sounds like one side is more permissive than the other, the open borders v the Trump acts of cruelty and committing administrative malpractice.   Unless voters understand the legal and procedural differences between civil and criminal law, they may have been lifted scratching their heads.  The point is that Democrats, including Obama, were neither intentionally cruel or incompetent in their administration...and no one on the stage was for "open borders", just which laws to apply.

The only candidates addressing the underlying issue of the sense of economic well-being were Sanders and Warren who identified those left behind in an otherwise robust economy.  If Democrats cannot reassure voters they will keep full employment and a generally healthy economy continuing, but make it fairer, they may lose in 2020.  Trump's economic populism is still popular, but he has failed to make it fair or to live up to details of his promises and the Democratic candidates barely touched on what I think will be one of the important deciding factors in 2020.