Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Colorado Senate race: Hickenlooper v Gardner. A warning to Democrats

CPR has an excellent analysis of what happened in the Democratic Senate primary.. The one bit I would add to it is the impact COVID and the police brutality protests had on the outcome. It was especially difficult for Romanoff to counter Hickenlooper's name identification and general public familiarity with his governors' record. Hick was a very well known quantity and was a generally popular governor and still in recent memory. For the pragmatists, Hick was a sure winner over Gardner in a trending blue state, and Romanoff was either too left or an unknown quantity to see him as a sure bet to beat Gardner. I thought once voters knew him better, he would beat Gardner, too. However, air time media focus was so saturated with COVID and George Floyd coverage that there was no space for much free media coverage of the Colorado Senate primary. Advertising was not enough to give a full picture of Romanoff's assets. I also noted that Romanoff managed to work the word "progressive" into his ads, positioning himself on the left in a more moderate state not yet deep blue. In addition, key national progressive leaders did not campaign on behalf of Romanoff, and in fact, supported Hick, as this CPR report noted. My concern is that the issues raised by Romanoff, Hick's ethics, environmental and racial issue stumbles, will show up in Gardner's supporters' ads. Not that such issues represent Gardner's approach, but it would serve to suppress progressives' turnout on behalf of Hick. Divide and conquer is an effective political strategy. It can be used to pit more progressive Democrats against moderate Democrats, asking what difference does it make on these issues (a plague on both of their houses). It worked really well in Trump's victory over Hillary. Imagine where this country would be on issues dear to progressive hearts if Hillary had won. Trump has set about to destroy any progress Obama had made on those issues. If there is a lesson to be learned, we should not fall into that trap of progressives not voting because they could not stand either candidate. What is at stake is way more important than being sore losers. National observers believe the winner of the Colorado Senate race will determine the slim margin of whatever party holds more votes in the Senate. What is critical above all is that Democrats must carry Colorado because the Senate makeup will depend on it. If the Senate continues as the majority in control of the GOP, even if by one vote, Biden, if elected, would have a tough time getting even a moderate agenda passed. If Trump gets re-elected, then bye-bye environment, democracy, and health care, and hello to a Trumpster dominated Supreme Court.
Imagine, too, that if Trump chickens out, fears via polls he will lose the election for sure , he announces he will not run for a second term (Lyndon Johnson did that) and leaves the field to Pence, What then? If the RNC and GOP Senators support Pence through whatever the process or timing is to replace Trump, Pence is likely to rise. The never Trumpers, Lincoln Project, moderates, are only 10 to 20% of the GOP. Pence is appearing to position himself as a person Republicans turned off by Trump's incompetence and character flaws, but not his agenda, could support with enthusiasm. Pence is making his move now. That may account for Pence's recent campaign-style and local media focused visits to red states. The race may be entirely different in November than it is now so it is important not to count on anti-trump sentiment to turn out the swing vote. Progressives staying home could also ensure a Pence victory. As Bernie Sanders said recently, not voting for Biden is irresponsible. That same statement could apply to the Democrats in the Colorado senate race.

Monday, June 29, 2020

GOP's gift to Democrats and the timing could not be better


These comments were inspired by this piece in the Washington  Post and  I took it a bit farther.https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?trackId=59f46ed8ae7e8a2d8f8a4a21&s=5ef65a8dfe1ff6482dacf9ee&linknum=4&linktot=45&fbclid=IwAR3e2TnshtkLdNu9Ur4cSaDh_uwy_R2ry7MiNQaf8qq1zdbYlo283YMb0NA

Trump's support of ending Obamacare through the Supreme Court, could be a well-timed campaign gift to Democrats in November. In October the Trump admin will argue before the Supreme Court why Obamacare should be ditched and just filed a motion the whole act should be thrown out.,, including coverage of pre-existing conditions. The timing of the oral arguments just before the Nov. elections could be particularly dramatic. The Court will not rule until next Spring, after the presidential election but it will be a compelling reason why Democrats need to take the Senate and White House. They need to be able and ready to provide alternatives. and improve whatever survives..maybe medicare for all, or some semblance. After 4 years of promises, the GOP failed to come up with a substitute. It cost them the House in 2018 and it could cost them the White House and Senate in 2020. The issue can be tied to what we have learned from COVID-19 and George Floyd protests...the lack of adequate health insurance hit everyone, as the medical bills begin to trickle in and the lack of good health care laid bare that minorities and poor suffered the most.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Memories of growing up in the shadow of Tulsa's racist history

Happy Juneteenth, long celebrated in Denver's Five Points neighborhood, the heart of the African-American community.  Denver's culture was far removed from my home town, Muskogee, Oklahoma, place of my birth in 1938 and where I lived until high school graduation.  The George Floyd protests and Donald Trump's rescheduled rally in Tulsa rekindled some memories of my early life in the shadow of Tulsa, the place of the 1921 massacre of African Americans, the worst racial incident in our country's history.  When I first read "To Kill a Mockingbird", it was a spot-on description of the neighborhood in which I grew up and in a city whose White resident's views of race relations were eerily similar. I puzzled for many years as I grew older why that was so since Muskogee was not in the deep south. Thanks to the recent focus on Tulsa's history and memories of the roots of my White classmates who descended from those who settled there in the late 1880s, I realized there was a reason  Muskogee could just have been plunked down in Alabama or Georgia.  Its origins of settlers from the South and attitudes were the same. South of Muskogee there were cotton fields, too,  and azaleas, dogwoods, redbuds, and magnolias grew easily,. Muskogee lay at the western edge of the Ozarks where the accents were similar to the Appalachians'. There were whispers of the Tulsa riots within the White community.  I remember that whenever "race riots' occurred elsewhere in the nation, those who feared it would happen in Muskogee were assured with "don't worry: "Our n....rs know their place".  No doubt the 1921 massacre in Tulsa was very instructive. The event was still fresh in memories of our Black residents.

Muskogee was 60 miles from Tulsa. It was a city of about 40,000 with a significant African American community, though dominated by Whites and  Cherokees who sided with the White culture and segregationist practices. Muskogee followed the Jim Crow attitudes and strictures to the letter. Like Tulsa, it was on the Arkansas River, but 60 miles downstream,  near the border with Arkansas, a bootleggers source for products an easy drive away to supply dry Oklahoma. Corruption in politics was an accepted fact of life. In my days of growing up in Muskogee, it was back of the bus for "coloreds", strict segregation in schools, separate water fountains, and restrooms, clearly marked with which race was to use what facilities.

I was born into relative White privilege, relative because compared to oil-rich Tulsa, Muskogee was a mostly gritty blue-collar town and my father was an executive with Southwestern Bell Telephone, in charge of telephone "exchanges" for northeastern Oklahoma. Muskogee was closer in feel to Pueblo, Colorado, also on the Arkansas River hundreds of miles upstream northwest. Instead of steel mills, Muskogee had glass plants taking advantage of the Arkansas rivers' abundance of sand carried from upstream and deposited before the river entered the Ozarks.  Oklahoma, the site of the 20's oil boom, left the general population behind, and dust bowl days and dust storms still occurred in the 1940s.  Eastern Oklahoma had never quite recovered from the Great Depression.

I was in a  state of cultural disconnect with the rest of my classmates. My father was a native of the Ft. Morgan, Colorado area, a graduate from the University of Colorado, and born amidst the multicultural settlers of the eastern plains. Dad said James Michener's book, "Centennial", based on the history of northeastern Colorado, "got it right".  Dad's parents spoke the language of his Castillian grandmother at home: Spanish.  My mother was from the Springfield, Mo. area family, with a distinct Iowa and Indiana flavor of her parents' places of birth.  Their families had fought on the Union side in the Civil War. While the rest of White Muskogee was devoted to Jim Crow, I  was told at home by my mother that if I ever used the N-word, she would wash my mouth out with soap and she was forever pointing out how my African American nanny Ellen was so well educated and so smart, as was Maggie, our maid.  She treated them with respect and care, as an equal, not as a servant to order around, grateful for their help in a household with a father preoccupied with a demanding work position and my severely handicapped brother.   Our family also differed from the rest of Muskogee,  a predominately Baptist, evangelical community.  We were Presbyterians.  I believe that cultural background was why I became so empathetic with the plight of minorities. It colored my political views for the rest of my life.

End of Blog column

June 25 commentsI am ticked as heck at the comment posted on Facebook today that if you put a racial identity applied to a protester complaining about being discriminated against, you are a racist yourself. That is kin to those who say" all lives matter "as a way to put down "black lives matter." as a slogan. Twisting semantics by redefining the term while ignoring context are committed by those trying to rationalize their own racist attitudes.
There is a difference between one demographic group putting down another demographic group as inferior in order to rationalize treating them unfairly (that is racism) and being sensitive about a racial issue in order to fix the problem.. Recognition of victimization by one group over another requires naming which group is doing what to whom.
Fortunately, those who try to dismiss racism exist by denying discrimination and unfair treatment of the African American demographic are becoming a minority.

____________________________________________________________________________
Racism was not the only element in my young history that shaped my view of politics and public policy.   While I am at it, I have continued this post and reproduced others for the benefit of my children and grandchildren. My adult children urged me to write more. You are welcome to read it.  I suppose I should retitle this segment as "why I became a liberal in some things, but not so much in foreign policy".

Growing up in Cherokee Country, 2/3 of my 4th-grade fellow classmates were on tribal rolls. I had to learn the name of every principle chief since the US was founded and the Trail of Tears was central to the history of the Cherokee nation. Two years ahead of me in school was Sequoya's granddaughter Winnie Guess, who later became a head cheerleader and could do the 5 hoop dance in full feathers at pep rallies and return in a short time to lead the school in our football chants in her cheerleader outfit. It was not until I left eastern Oklahoma that I realized that Native Americans were treated as cast-off garbage, living in poverty.. That knowledge and experience also helped shape some of my political thoughts and actions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_Tears

As long as I am on memory lane, I have added some prior blog postings that are autobiographical and also influenced my political thoughts and actions. This one is from earlier in March, 2020.
 We have heard of historical comparisons to COVID-19 to other mega pandemics.  There are certain advantages of my living so long, but still vivid in my memory bank was the polio epidemic of the late 1940s and early 1950's  before Salk and his miracle vaccine freed us from fear. Like the 1940's polio, COVID- 19  has no vaccine and no medicines to stop its progression. We can only treat the symptoms and avoid those who are infected.   We did not call it social distancing then, but we did it.  It was not enforced by a government but by my parents. In sweltering summers of eastern Oklahoma, we were not able to go to swimming pools or to cool off in air-cooled movie theaters.  We could only play with our neighborhood gang.    We did not complain.  We did not try to avoid the rules.  One look at the pictures in Life Magazine of children lying in rows of iron lungs was enough to put the fear of God in us. It worked. Our neighborhood gang escaped the disease.  The irony has not escaped me.  As a child, I was the most vulnerable to polio; as a person well over 60, I am once again the most vulnerable to another deadly epidemic and I am socially distancing myself with a vengeance. March 26; https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-team-failed-nsc-pandemic-000023392.html There was a playbook to deal with a pandemic left by the Obama administration in the wake of other pandemics and ignored by Trump's.  One more example of Trump's judgment and priority failures.

My interest in environmental issues and trust in science also has roots in my childhood. Dad was a geologist per his college degree and some friends and he set out to strike it rich in the Oklahoma oil boom.  After drilling three dry holes, he joined the telephone company.  He never questioned science. I took as many courses in physical geography and geology in college as they offered to liberal arts undergrads. Frankly, I do not respect science deniers.  Science is not a belief; it is a method to arrive at facts. I married a doctor and neither he nor I ever questioned his science and the quest for knowledge-based upon scientific methods. My observation is that science deniers are those who cannot accept "inconvenient truths" that run contrary to their ideology, religion, economic well being,  political goals, or disturb their preconceived ignorant notions. Period. Donald Trump filled his administration with science deniers and mineral extractors and those I listed unable to accept inconvenient truths.  I am disgusted. When Trump took a sharpie to mislead people on a hurricane path or try to wreck clean water and air acts or wonder aloud if household chemicals taken internally would cure coronavirus, or drop out of the Paris climate accord, denying climate change and man's role in it, he disgusted me even more and he revealed his basic ignorance of science.  He must have slept through grade school and middle school where such basics were taught .

I have always been interested in weather and climate, including global warming, but for a good reason.  I took a course in meteorology in college, though I consider my self a rank amateur.  This is from a 4/15/2012 blog posting:
Reports of Woodward, OK being hit by a tornado shortly after midnight today, with at least 5 killed,  reminded me of a post on this blog in June 2011 shortly after the Joplin tornado.  Woodward figured prominently in that post, as well. Early reports indicate the tornado warning system failed this time;  in the past, there were no warning systems, and the earlier tornado killed over 100. Excerpts from that 2011 post: "I was born and raised in tornado alley so spring was a time of terror for me. The pictures of Joplin, Mo., brought back some familiar pains in the pit of my stomach and memories.
My home town, Muskogee, Okla., is 125 miles southwest of Joplin, and Joplin was on the way to grandmother's house in southwestern Missouri. My 1940s childhood memory of Joplin was a pit stop to fill up the gas tank.
When tornado season came I huddled in my bed on the second floor of our wood-frame house, waiting for death to come. It never did, but I resolved never to live near tornado land again.
The Wizard of Oz story never had much credibility with me. I never thought I would wake up from a fantastic dream because I knew I would be sucked up and die in a funnel cloud.
Looking back on those times, I probably was realistic. There were no tornado sirens, no Doppler radar, and no storm shelters. The closest cellar was in a neighbor's home nearly a block away. All we were educated to do was to go to the southwest corner of the building. We knew no more than that. We were just sitting ducks waiting to be plucked up. The myth had always been that Muskogee was immune because it sat down in the Arkansas valley. One April day in 1945 the myth was blown away by a tornado that devastated the east side of the town. Two children were killed and my father, a telephone company executive, took me on a tour of the destruction, which only reinforced my terror of spring.
Two years later the Woodward tornado in the southwestern corner of the state killed more than 100 people. I remember the radio reports, newspaper's screaming headlines, and my parents talking about it. It was since that terrible episode that records began to be kept of death and destruction caused by tornadoes in the U.S. Joplin 2011 was the worst."

Perhaps the most important event that shaped my political thought was my junior year abroad in post-war Berlin, 1958-1959.   I have written many posts and published many columns about my experiences. Not only did I see the Stalinist takeover of eastern Germany and the Balkans first hand, I met my husband to be, also a soon to be a refugee from Yugoslavia.  After over 50 years of marriage, living in the US, and with frequent visits to Europe, he passed away in 2015.  He also served as Colorado's Democratic National Committeeman for twelve years, giving me the opportunity to be a fly on the beltway wall, with an intimate look into national political life, power, and events.

A version of this was published in the Sky-Hi News July 31-Aug 1, 2018
https://www.skyhinews.com/news/opinion/muftic-why-i-am-worried-about-american-democracys-future/
Thirteen years after World War II ended I spent my university junior year abroad in Berlin. It was a heady time for a US political science major wondering why what had happened. The Wall had not yet been built. I had conversations with survivors of the Nazi regime that seized control of the democratic government with populist support and violence and now it lay in ruins. I saw first
hand how the Soviets used propaganda and violence to consolidate control of their conquered once democratic eastern Europe.  I married a medical student from Yugoslavia, then a communist country headed by dictator Tito who had both popular support and who used brute force. We settled in the US, he became a US citizen, a respected doctor in private practice, active in civic and political affairs, and never taking for granted the freedom to pursue his dreams. We first visited Yugoslavia and his family in 1972 when the country began to allow refugees to visit. We returned about every two years until mid-2015 when he passed away. I experienced Yugoslavia in their brutal Stalinist era, fear of a late-night knock at the door, their period of a more benign dictatorship that still forbad dissent, and their civil war for independence. Today Croatia is democratic and a member of the EU and NATO. 

I wish such painful histories on no one. Modern autocrats like Putin of Russia and Erdogan of Turkey have used some of the same techniques 20th-century dictators used to turn democracies into dictatorships.  Donald Trump admires them. and adopts and tolerates some of their media and election tactics. 

Fair elections are the very foundation of American democracy. Media free both to criticize and to validate is one key. The security of election systems is another.  An informed electorate that will and can listen to all sides of public debate, sorts truth from fiction, and then votes while trusting the integrity of election systems can nip wannabe despots in the bud, allowing democracy to
survive.

Like his “strong men” idols, Donald Trump is no fan of freedom of the press or an advocate of elections secure from foreign manipulation. Instead, he frequently denies Russians meddled on his behalf in 2016 and favors and consults with media who support his views. In October he threatened to yank NBC’s broadcast licenses whose news reports also include news and data unfavorable to him. He calls media "enemies of the people”, tags reports he dislikes as” dishonest”,” “fake “, lies, while fact-checkers work overtime exposing his playing loose with facts.  Just last week he told a VFW audience, “what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening…Just stick with us.” 
He continued to call contrary reports, "crap".. Claiming there are no credible facts except those presented by the Leader (Hitler called the contrary press, the lying press..Lugenpresse) is a tool wannabe dictators have used to destroy freedom of the press. In fact, at campaign rallies, some of Trump supporters aggressively chanted "Lugenpresse" at reporters.
He banned a CNN reporter from the White House for asking tough questions, said he was yanking security clearances of former intelligence officials who criticized him and initially left out of official Helsinki transcripts Putin admitting he wanted Trump to win in 2016. 
We know from Mueller’s indictment texts, Russians in 2016 used many media platforms to intensify racial and ideological divisions to help Trump. They hacked into state election systems and political party sites, showing an ability to manipulate future election outcomes.
       Why am I worried about American democracy's future?  So many do not care. A July 17 Atlantic/PRRI poll found only 22% of Republicans thought influence from foreign government in our elections was a major problem versus 68% Democrats; 40% independents and a subservient GOP House just voted down funding for hardening state elections systems’ cybersecurity.   Democracy is fragile, and its survival depends upon the dedicated support of the governed.  That support is weak and fractured.
     A worrisome poll:
40% of GOP members are OK with Russian meddling; 11% welcome it. https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/republicans-want-russia-influence-us-elections-202847050.html
     Freedom of the press, concern about the rule of law, abiding by the Constitution, do not even turn up as a blip on polls of top voters' issues: .https://www.vox.com/.../2018-midterm-polls-policy...
    A frightening poll;   https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a22600827/donald-trump-supporters-believe-the-media/

I would also be remiss if I did not mention how it is I became an opinion writer for our local newspaper. I never considered myself either a journalist or a writer, but an activist, working in the political system and organizing communities. Writing and speaking were only tools to accomplish a purpose.  However, in 2007, the editor ot the Sky-Hi News mentioned she was looking for a liberal columnist to balance the paper. The paper had a conservative columnist.  My number one fan husband volunteered me. After some moaning and groaning I was retired, I gave it a try and my new career began. I consider it an extension of my political activism but one I could handle given my age.  I never sought advanced degrees because life was interesting and fulfilling as it was at the time I had the opportunity.  I had the freedom to march to my own drumbeat, thanks to a financially comfortable life, a supportive husband,  though I always tried to be paid a fair wage to cover expenses and add to the family coffers. I was rarely unemployed, usually in positions that advanced some common good as I saw it,  and I considered myself one of the few lucky enough to make a living as a BA political science major. My first job in New York was with WNEW Ch 5 (now Fox) writing storylines. I was one of Denver's first radio talk show hosts for a couple of years (KNUS) but left for a public position in city government as Clerk and Recorder, serving under Mayor Federico Pena. Before any of that, I served for  7 years in the Denver DA's office leading investigations into consumer fraud and white-collar crime and later served in public and community relations in private and nonprofit sectors,. I came close to being elected mayor of Denver and was often the first woman to do this or that.

 However, it was in high school that  I found my voice, literally, and a new way of thinking.  I had a remarkable high school debate and speech coach, JW Patterson, and willing parents to become volunteers for his programs. We traveled all over the region, debating teams and in tournaments from Dallas to Houston and beyond.  I learned to argue both sides of any public policy issue. Issues were picked nationally: the first, direct election of the president was the topic in my sophomore year and free trade, my junior year. the basic debate arguments remain the same in 2020.  For my area of expertise, extemporaneous speaking, I had to be ready is to construct a 15-minute speech on any current event topic within 30 minutes. We were only t(o use certain sources to back up any argument or thesis, reading daily the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, US News and World Report, and the Manchester Guardian (for the international perspective). You will see that training reflected in the structure and sours of data in my columns. Our success in the national rankings of the National Forensic League statistics earned us national recognition and the National Finals of NFL debate was held in Muskogee my senior year.  I owe much to that program for acceptance to Northwestern University, where I was a debater through my sophomore year. JW Patterson continued as a renowned debate coach at the university level, retiring from the University of Kentucky. We are Facebook friends to this day. though he must be in his mid 90's by now.  For more about his incredible career, visit https://www.jwpattersonfoundation.org

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Grannies' revolt against Trump's COVID19 attitudes

GRANNIES' REVOLT

Update July 4. 2020
For those over 65, the message should be"we need to keep older people from dying from it". Older people are the ones who die; 80% of the deaths from COVID 19 are older ones. Even if older people follow every guideline and follow safer at home or stay at home, those who are younger are the spreaders and bring it home. So long as the virus rages in the younger population, the danger to seniors will not diminish. What this shows is that the administration does not care about older people, and given his plunging polls with that group, they have gotten the message.
https://www.newyorker.com/…/donald-trumps-big-problem-with-…
This article, drawing from numerous polls, shows this group he carried in 2016 has flipped to favor Biden. In some instances, it is as much as a 12% swing in that demographic. The swing is particularly noticeable in the swing states that gave him the electoral college win in 2016 with narrow margins.



NEWYORKER.COM
Retaining the support of seniors is central to Trump’s reëlection chances. But a number of recent polls show that he has slipped badly in this key demographic.

Some pointed Facebook remarks from ordinary people: https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/dontkillgrandma?__eep__=6&hc_location=ufi


July 2020


  • Trent Todd You are correct. The reason we have been asked is to sow down the spread for hospital capacity. Where your comment got my dander up. For only 1% we are to tank our economy.?  As a person in my 80's 80% of the dead are over 65. What that means for me is that if I get to a hospital there may be a ventilator should I need one. If I go on a ventilator, I have a 20% chance of surviving. If I survive in the hospital, and was sick enough,to be there, I will have lung damage. Pray I am not in a nursing home, either. If you are sick enough to go to the hospital, you will be rejected to join the military at any age now. Lung damage is anticipated and found. The only protection seniors have is to stay at home and pray no one, even my kids bring it home. In New York, at one point, 66% o new hospital cases were of stay at home seniors who brought the disease to them. The masks are the only defense we have, and there are knuckleheads who think they are immune, but who are asymptomatic who take it to anyone else...so they do no wear masks. So when you say: live with it or tank the economy, for me it is a matter of life or death. You may see it as a trade off,; I see it as quite something else...
July 13, 2020: Dialog with a knucklehead


Continuing with the June 13 posting.

Trump made a devil's bargain and seniors noticed they drew the short stick. His callous attitudes toward seniors have taken a toll. So what if the infection death rate increases. for seniors The administration looks at it as a tradeoff; a balancing act. However, there has been an unanticipated political price to pay for it. The political backlash is already being felt as Trump's polls show seniors' support of Trump had swung to Biden in a short time as the number of dead from COVID-19 rose to over 100,000 by the end of May, and was projected to be 134,000 by August 1. Seniors have been the most predictable voters and Trump-supporting demographic until late April, but no longer., especially in swing states Trump needs to win, per https://www.usnews.com/news/elections/articles/2020-05-29/older-voters-support-joe-biden-over-trump-amid-coronavirus-pandemic This is no minor loss for Trump. Seniors make up one-quarter of voters and the most reliable voters who turn out to vote. In 2016, Trump carried seniors by 10 points It is now reversed. Morning Consult tracking poll April 20, "By a nearly 6-to-1 margin, people 65 years old and older say it’s more important for the government to address the spread of coronavirus than it is to focus on the economy. "  It is especially true in states with large numbers of seniors, such as Arizona.
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-06-10/trump-coronavirus-protests-senior-voters-arizona
Even in spite of senior support tanking, Trump beat the drum for the nation to open for business, ready or not, as he tried to bury the CDC handbook on how to do it safely. (It was finally released with administration pleasing revisions) The cost of increased deaths is worth reviving the economy is his implied message. Trump doubled down May 21 when he made it clear that if there is a return of the virus in the fall, he will not close down the country (though he does not have the power to require states to comply). May 22, again he ruled all houses of worship re-open, though he likewise does not have the power to force states to comply. In both cases, he is doing nothing but harming seniors, the most frequent churchgoers, and the most vulnerable under a live and let die "edict". He does not care about seniors' health yet he hopes to get their vote. Seniors take little comfort from Trump's right-wing supporters who poopoo the death rate of seniors from COVID, since there are so many "co-morbidity" questions. Seniors are not stupid. They know their age makes the more vulnerable to death if they do get COVID 19 and they need special care and attention. The callousness of such Trumpers toward their condition adds fuel to the fires of their disillusionment with Trump.
.https://www.wired.com/story/why-has-covid-19-hit-seniors-so-hard/  
One senator estimates that the good news is only 3.4% of the US population will die from COVId 19. At least he thinks that is good news.  https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/gop-senator-no-more-than-3-4-of-our-population-may-die.html?fbclid=IwAR0fPPTXAGrBKSqP_LmTzOP4175TsMqm60-P3RrMOW3QuOjCsqcO6T3xGLI   
"White House National Economic Council chairman Larry Kudlow claimed in an interview that “The cure can’t be worse than the disease, and we’re gonna have to make some difficult trade-offs.” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on live television that “lots of grandparents” are willing to “take a chance” on their survival for the good of the economy. Brit Hume of Fox News said it’s “entirely reasonable” to let family members die for the stock market. "
Then there was FOX person Bill O'Reilly who callously proclaimed ""many were dying from coronavirus were on their last legs anyway: https://thehill.com/homenews/media/491994-bill-oreilly-many-dying-from-coronavirus-were-on-last-legs-anyway Glad I am not a grandparent of Kudlow, Patrick, Johnson, O'Reilly, and Hume" given how much they care about older people.

      The silliness from the rightwing Trumpers is also not lost on seniors when they hear from Trumpers who claim COVID 19 is a hoax, a conspiracy by the left to make Trump look bad or to hurt business.by exaggerating death and cause of death statistics.  Particularly hard hit were senior care facilities, accounting for half of seniors' death in some countries.  To turn the virus into a left-wing conspiracy assumes that every country in the world was in on the plans, too,(their findings were similar, especially in Sweden that did not close down business) and almost every  US coroner or the MD stating the cause of death (held to a uniform standard, too) was in on the conspiracy. The conspiracy would have to assume tests for the virus were mostly false positive. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/16/across-the-world-figures-reveal-horrific-covid-19-toll-of-care-home-deaths
That worldwide, COVID 19 has overtaken other causes of death to be #1.  This moving chart demonstrates the rise by date of COVID 19.
https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/2562261/?fbclid=IwAR2BbAJ2JBXRv37vTy66tmVWbdvKwLeJgOJIfzA_SSJud5ev4Bum

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality
   
Trump's antidote to his tanking polls is not to become more loving and caring for elders. The reason older people are reconsidering their past support him is not limited to his response to COVID 19, as the LA Times article suggests, but to make "law and order" an issue, to scare seniors back into the fold., making them think rioting Black people are out to get them. His plans took an unexpected turn when his November rival Joe Biden was quick to oppose the slogan of "defund police"., too. Biden yanked the rug from under Trump's strategy. Incoming attacks from the left-wing of Biden's party who backed the anti defund police advocacy was hefty, but polls are showing Biden was on the right track in this semantics war,. The slogan,"defund police', is getting little support (16-32% depending on the poll). The left also failed to listen to what Biden was saying: He wanted to use federal dollars as a carrot and stick to induce changes in policing and to give more to mental health and social services support of police.

The criteria for reporting deaths to officials have been changed: one figure is for those whose death certificates have COVID 19 as the cause of death and one figure is for those whose cause of death may not be listed as COVID 19 but occurs among people with COVID 19.

From the Colorado State Health Department web site.:
Beginning May 15, the department began reporting the number of deaths in two ways:
  • The number of deaths among people with COVID-19. This represents the total number of deaths reported among people who have COVID-19, but COVID-19 may not have been the cause of death listed on the death certificate. This information is required by the CDC and is crucial for public health surveillance, as it provides more information about disease transmission and can help identify risk factors among all deaths across populations.
     
  • The number of deaths among people who died from COVID-19: This represents the total number of people whose death was attributed to COVID-19 as indicated on a death certificate. This number is determined by the CDC and is updated daily for dates through the previous Saturday. 
Important things to know about these two datasets:

  • The numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 and deaths among people with COVID-19 should not be added together to determine a total death count. They are separate numbers.
     
  • The numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 and deaths among people with COVID-19 are reported from two different systems that are updated on different timelines. These numbers cannot be compared day-to-day to determine how many deaths have occurred in each category.
     
  • The number of deaths due to COVID-19 are not necessarily included in the number of deaths among people with COVID-19. After review, at either the state or national level, some deaths may not be counted as COVID-19 deaths. This is rare, and the expectation is in the end, the numbers will closely align. 
     
  • The deaths due to COVID-19 are provisional counts and often track several weeks behind other data. The number reported indicates the number of deaths from records that have been analyzed as of the date indicated. However, due to the one- to eight-week timeframe it can take to completely process death records, counts from previous weeks are continually revised as more records are received and processed. 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Why I have changed my views on whether Trump is a fascist: he is

An update 7/4/2020: The fact that Trump is trying to call demonstrations left-wing fascism shows how defensive he is to being called a fascist himself
He thinks that by redefining fascism, he can avoid the charge. It is classic Trump: call his opposition what others are calling him. Street violence is an expression of a revolt against injustice.committed by the oppressed of any ideology.
Fascism is a form of governance, of authoritarianism, based on hyper-nationalism, totalitarian control of justice and domination of power over civilian life, the crushing of dissidents and press freedom, the end of any checks on executive power, ending the rule of law. while keeping and using private sector economic powers. All of those elements are what Trump has to some extent aspired to in his statements.
He praises racist militias as fine people,, and attacks even peaceful demonstrators, and called for active military domination on the streets,, attempts to suppress the free press, caters to the 1% on economic matters, and stacking the justice system and judges with loyalists., while claiming he is above the law.

Continuing the 6/42020 posting.
I wrote the blog posting below one month into the Trump administration...February 2017.  It was my reason for not calling Trump a fascist.  Name-calling and using the word fascism and Trump in the same breath is admittedly inflammatory and I stated why I did not call him a fascist then and why he did not yet fit the definition.
Here is why I am using it now  1. In three and a half years his racism and appeal to white nationalism is not subtle. It was not a show business device. His view of  Justice is not equally applied or color blind and he uses racism to feather his political nest, divide and conquer  2. Hoodwinking US military officials into intervening to promote his political agenda  3. Calling all demonstrators, peaceful and violent, thugs to be dominated by force and oppression. 4. Willful ignorance of Constitutional constraints on the executive's power and protections of peaceful demonstrations.  Update: 7/9/2020: No, Mr. President. You are not a king or a dictator. This is the most important part of the 7-2 Supreme Court decision yesterday. President Trump had asserted he could not be investigated or charged with a crime as president: The rule of law and Trump's compliance was upheld. Being the president did not give him special immunity.  He had absolute immunity in criminal matters, he claimed.  He did not have to comply with subpoenas in criminal matters from grand juries.  No, said the court. He does not. He has the rights of any ordinary citizens and he had to respond to subpoenas in criminal cases, even if issued by State or Federal prosecutors.  The checks and balances on presidential power held. The President was not above the law, though the president had claimed he was. This confirms the basic tenant of the Constitution and it was upheld by even Trump's recent appointees, Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.   The political impact is that we will not get the President's tax returns before November. The Congressional subpoena of Trump's financial records issued for legislative oversight reasons was also sent back to the lower courts. The New York state case regarding tax returns was sent back to the grand jury process. The grand jury process is secret unless there is an indictment resulting in a trial, and the other concerning Congress oversight was sent back to narrow the scope of the subpoena.  Congress had the power over the executive branch of oversight was untouched. It does.. The reason for the New York case was to see if Trump committed a tax crime in the Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen payoff case. Congress wanted to see if financial crimes were involved, with an underlying suspicion that Russia had something on Trump that explained why he kowtowed to Putin in so many matters.  https://www.newsweek.com/colin-powell-donald-trump-america-we-people-madeleine-albright-constitution-1157119?fbclid=IwAR18fW3EczffZLXVdiTCPKZeJ8cgMePJ_cFfqsChsetAkhFAZDy--ma3xbk5.  Announcing his intent to use US military against our own civilians. These put him firmly in the ranks of the 1930's fascists.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/05/89-former-defense-officials-military-must-never-be-used-violate-constitutional-rights/?fbclid=IwAR2AS7HM5YZ26ckmSfGJ-LhFWlTLq7IowLWt_L6wBgWeahQSNchkK8qNFf4

Some intellectual roots of the Tea Party and racist movements of the Trump era may be found in the following:https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behind-the-one-percents-stealth-takeover-of-america   The phrase that curled my hair was that once oligarchs take over, a stronger government was needed to put down a populist revolt.
One of the most damning comments about what would happen in a Trump second term would be the end of democracy..and this came from a respected Republican, William Cohen: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/amanpour-and-company/video/former-secretary-of-defense-william-cohen-on-the-election/?fbclid=IwAR0YyjwgZnoApMxPPIuPKCqDTLirv6DKa_FQsA536J5YEDoysWXuHW4cWFo


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: I guess, you know, you’ve been on the cutting edge of foreign policy for so long. What do you see and what do you expect if there was to be a second Trump administration?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, if that were to take place, then I think we would not recognize America as a democracy. I think President Trump is taking us down the road to tyranny, to one-man rule, to try and replicate what he sees as a positive in Moscow with President Putin or in Turkey with President Erdogan, or over in China or North Korea. I think he wants to have one-man rule, and it’s not the rule of law but just the opposite. It’s the law of rule, where he only can make decisions. And he said quite, you know, publicly on multiple occasions, I’m above the law. The law doesn’t apply to me. I’m the chief law enforcement officer. I am the commander in chief. Nothing I do is illegal because I do it. And so, if you take away an obligation to run for reelection, now, he has absolute authority to do whatever he wants because he feels he’s not even bound by the law. And so, I see a very dictatorial absolutist type of rule in the country, and again, I don’t think we’ll be a democracy at that point.   CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: I guess, you know, you’ve been on the cutting edge of foreign policy for so long. What do you see and what do you expect if there was to be a second Trump administration?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, if that were to take place, then I think we would not recognize America as a democracy. I think President Trump is taking us down the road to tyranny, to one-man rule, to try and replicate what he sees as a positive in Moscow with President Putin or in Turkey with President Erdogan, or over in China or North Korea. I think he wants to have one-man rule, and it’s not the rule of law but just the opposite. It’s the law of rule, where he only can make decisions. And he said quite, you know, publicly on multiple occasions, I’m above the law. The law doesn’t apply to me. I’m the chief law enforcement officer. I am the commander in chief. Nothing I do is illegal because I do it. And so, if you take away an obligation to run for reelection, now, he has absolute authority to do whatever he wants because he feels he’s not even bound by the law. And so, I see a very dictatorial absolutist type of rule in the country, and again, I don’t think we’ll be a democracy at that point.
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, if that were to take place, then I think we would not recognize America as a democracy. I think President Trump is taking us down the road to tyranny, to one-man rule, to try and replicate what he sees as a positive in Moscow with President Putin or in Turkey with President Erdogan, or over in China or North Korea. I think he wants to have one-man rule, and it’s not the rule of law but just the opposite. It’s the law of rule, where he only can make decisions. And he said quite, you know, publicly on multiple occasions, I’m above the law. The law doesn’t apply to me. I’m the chief law enforcement officer. I am the commander in chief. Nothing I do is illegal because I do it. And so, if you take away an obligation to run for reelection, now, he has absolute authority to do whatever he wants because he feels he’s not even bound by the law. And so, I see a very dictatorial absolutist type of rule in the country, and again, I don’t think we’ll be a democracy at that point.CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: I guess, you know, you’ve been on the cutting edge of foreign policy for so long. What do you see and what do you expect if there was to be a second Trump administration?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, if that were to take place, then I think we would not recognize America as a democracy. I think President Trump is taking us down the road to tyranny, to one-man rule, to try and replicate what he sees as a positive in Moscow with President Putin or in Turkey with President Erdogan, or over in China or North Korea. I think he wants to have one-man rule, and it’s not the rule of law but just the opposite. It’s the law of rule, where he only can make decisions. And he said quite, you know, publicly on multiple occasions, I’m above the law. The law doesn’t apply to me. I’m the chief law enforcement officer. I am the commander in chief. Nothing I do is illegal because I do it. And so, if you take away an obligation to run for reelection, now, he has absolute authority to do whatever he wants because he feels he’s not even bound by the law. And so, I see a very dictatorial absolutist type of rule in the country, and again, I don’t think we’ll be a democracy at that point.

 The term fascism is not a swear word; it is a governmental system, a method of governance. It is the diametric opposite of democracy. Born in 1938, I have early memories toward the end of World War II of how it met its fate and in the late 1950's I spent a year in war-torn Germany, Italy, and the Balkans wondering how it could have happened. In most cases, a willing populace voted them in and supported its rise.  The blame is shared by both their leaders and the people who supported them for reasons ranging from ethnic/religious/racial hatred to fear of communism to economic gains in a time of economic stress and political turmoil. Germany 's Nazism was the most extreme form of fascism. Hitler's Third Reich was a popular enough solution to boost him to power since many believed it served to restore Germany's greatness post defeat in World War I with the devastating reparations, and later coupled with the depression.

Updated  blog posting: Feb. 17-25 2017
 I have refrained from calling the Trump administration fascist. It is not there yet.  It is too early to tell and the constraints of law and the Constitution may keep President Trump from putting some of his innate tendencies into practice. However, every day it seems Trump's actions resemble even more the examples of fascism as practiced in the 20th century.

The definition of fascism as a philosophy is complex, but actions can be the definer, too.     Calling someone fascist brings to mind Hitler, the gas chambers, the hyper-nationalism, the rallies and parades, and a goal of economic recovery based on ramping up the military/industrial complex,  blaming and scapegoating minorities, and feeding on the emotions of those who hate "others".   Hitler seems to personify it in many minds, though the 20th-century ideological roots are actually in Italy and Mussolini and not all authoritarian governments are fascist.

 While President Trump certainly does not fit the extreme Hitler mold, there are some similar elements to the rise of fascism in Europe found in Trump's tweets and orders and techniques,  such as holding rallies to whip up supporters' enthusiasm and hyper-nationalism, exaggerating potential external security threats and the weakness of our military,  and the failure of an economy,. He is ignoring the fact that the economy has the lowest unemployment rate since 2009 and had a pre-election robust Wall Street. True, the blue-collar middle class has been left behind. Whatever Trump advocates, the US in 2017 is nowhere like Germany in the early '30s that was decimated by reparations and the Depression.

With crowd-pleasing rhetoric and tweets, Trump claims the only facts that are not fake are those considered true by the Trump administration. He verbally delegitimizes other centers of power,  courts, and their judges,   and media.  Stephen Bannon is the president's most trusted and closest adviser and is also an example of the hatred factor found in fascism. Bannon had been CEO  of Breitbart, the media public platform for white supremacists and ultra-nationalists.  Leading to Trump's own rise on the political scene was "Obama was born in Kenya" birtherism crusade, considered by many to be dog whistles to racists. Whether or not Bannon and he are racists and bigots themselves is the lesser issue.  Like Bannon  Trump tolerates and exploits racism for political gain, even being reluctant to condemn bigotry until forced to. His Muslim ban obviously appeals to religious bigots. Pressed for weeks to condemn Jewish cemetery vandalism and threats against religious centers, he finally made a statement last week condemning anti-Semitism.

These last couple of weeks of his media relations were particularly disturbing and brought him a step closer to qualifying as at least a wannabe fascist.  Looking at how the fascist movement got into power in the last century, we can see some similarities.  One is an attempt to bully and control the press and to take over the messaging. Trump is beginning the process by excluding "opposition" outlets.  CNN and the New York Times were kept from the press "gaggle"at a non-televised briefing at the White House and Trump and his spokespeople have refused to call on reporters who represented media promoting stories critical of him. These were obvious attempts at "punishing" CNN and the Times. Their sin: reporting on Trump's possible even closer relationship with Russians during the campaign. (Added June, 2020. John Bolton's tell all book, Trump called journalists scumbags that should be executied;https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/503244-bolton-claims-trump-called-for-scumbag-journalists-to-be-executed)

The most serious media-related event raised the question of whether his administration had tried to influence the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's colluding with the Russians. One version reported by the media was that Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff, had approached the FBI director asking him to tamp down a report being leaked from the agency as flawed because there was no evidence any Russian contact involved Russian agents. The Trump administration did not deny the contact had been made with Russians, but said it was not their agents, and counterclaimed that the FBI director had approached Priebus. If the latter is true, then the FBI's impartiality and credibility in their Russian related investigations into Russian hacking and meddling in the 2016 elections are jeopardized. If the administration initiated the contact with the FBI, then they are verging on a Nixon-like cover-up and look guilty that there is a fire in the smoke. Adding to suspicions that there is something there there,  as many have noted, Trump has never flatly denied that contact with  Russians and his campaign staff occurred but instead has tried to deflect attention to "illegal leaks",  as a way to direct public attention and media focus elsewhere and a way to scotch deeper probes.

 Either way, the exchange with the FBI flap is not good news for the Trump administration. In that dust-up, what has been clear is that the Trump administration is fearful that the FBI or the other investigations being conducted by intelligence agencies will find the smoking gun of collusion with  Russian agents. If that collusion turns out to be sanctioned or conducted by Donald Trump himself or others in his campaign acting under his direction, that could lead to impeachment at worse or destroying the credibility, legitimacy,  and effectiveness of the administration at best.  The stakes are very high.

.Populism has also been an element in the rise of fascism.  Candidate Trump's appeal to the blue-collar working demographic was more populist than corporate.  Ironically, a  corporatist element has been added to  Trump's presidential administration with the appointment of the team of billionaires to the various cabinet posts. These cabinet officers have been charged to de-construct their departments, eliminating consumer and environmental protections that were designed to protect the middle class from corporate excesses.

The populist rationale Trump has pitched to the public is that this pro-business, anti-environment/consumer approach will lead to high paying job creation in the rust belt and national economic growth. Those most affected by economic struggles are without a college education and robotics have replaced many of those jobs once held by human beings. Some blame unions, too, for holding back efficiencies. Trump has not provided any plan to fix those problems but instead has blamed bad trade policies.  Whether protectionism will result in high paying jobs with a workforce ill-equipped to fill them or reduce robotics is doubtful. If proof of Russian collusion does not lead to his defeat in 2020, his failure to provide promised economic growth and high paying job creation will. As counties who voted for Obama in the past then went for  Trump in 2016 showed,  populism is a fickle beast.

Another parallel with the practice of German fascism is Trump's reliance on militarism to promote US leadership in the world. The current world order he is de-constructing is one based on mutual defense treaties  (NATO) and multinational economic and trade arrangements. Instead, Trump's vision of leadership is relying on military muscle power as a threat to deter attacks and as a "might makes right" bully power over the rest of the world.  Where it does differ from Hitler's rise is that Hitler used military buildup in manufacturing as an argument to the public, promoting it as a way to pull Germany out of the depression.