Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Biden's character advantage and Trump's failing attempt to tarnish it

Update: July 20, 2020: Donald Trump's oft used trick is to call out an opponent with having the same problems those pinned on him. Psychologists call this ""projecting. To him it is a strategy: the best defense is an offensive, deceptive offense. He just crowed that he passed a simple Alzheimer's screening test and challenged Biden to do it, too. He must have been upset at recent FOX poll that shows Americans believe Biden is mentally and physically more capable than him to be president. For more, scroll down the May 15 post and go to the July 20, 2020 blog post: ""Trump's cognitive failures are pre-existing conditions" which contains more source references on the subject and updates.
Updated May 15,2020
Donald Trump is to fight the last war when the enemy is different. He hopes reviving the Hunter Biden/Ukraine issue, painting Biden just as flawed a character as he is, voters will forget their personal struggles with COVID 19 and the blame Trump is getting for a bungling response to the pandemic.
Congratulations to the Trump folks. With their tactics of false equivalencies, many who have otherwise good head on their shoulders have fallen for the old political trope: the choice is between two of equal evils. ...Biden is a sex fiend just like Trump (give me a break; one questionable incident 30 years ago equals Trump's lifetime of p grabbing, boasting about it, and porn star promos and twenty accusing him of rape or near-rape) and Biden is corrupt, just like Trump (Biden was one of the poorest persons in the Senate and has never declared bankruptcy, blown an inheritance, or rewarded cronies with favorable treatment not extended to others). and just like Trump, he lies( that one is beyond swallowing. I am trying to even come up with a comparative figure of anything that has been documented.)
Good judgment, moral, and truth-telling character, and government experience, are Joe Biden's greatest strengths and Trump's greatest vulnerabilities. Donald Trump's tactics have been to tarnish Biden's character. Both Trump and Biden have records well documented in tweets, court documents, and media file clips. Critical subjects range from COVID- 19, Ukraine, Russian interference in 2016, and womanizing. Their words and deeds can easily come back to haunt them in this presidential election cycle. A good comparison of the judgment factor is the difference between how Biden would have approached the COVID-19 threat and how Trump has acted and spoke and tweeted on record. In a January 27 op-ed in USA Today Joe Biden warned about the coming COVID -19 and outlined a plan to combat it based upon his experience with the successful response to Ebola, a response at the time which Donald Trump ridiculed. In late January, Trump was in denial in spite of every federal agency, including his own intelligence agencies, flying red flags. In February, Trump did nothing. In early March Trump was spreading his ignorance and his mouthpiece at FOX was his megaphone with his supporting talkers claiming this was a media-generated hoax, no worse than the flu, and it would be over by Easter. Here is Biden's op-ed that ran in USA Today at the end of January. Read it and weep and think of the lives that could have been saved and maybe even businesses and jobs, as well, had Biden been president instead of Donald Trump. While Trump has been warned by experts that trust of people they are safe enough to shop and eat at restaurants again depends for now on testing, Trump said he did not want much testing because it would make the US look bad while he is pushing to re-open the country to business. This is akin to not wanting those infected on a cruise ship, having to wait to off shore because it would run up his figures and cause fear of the danger of the virus. That seems a century ago but it was only a couple of months ago. At that time those infected were under a 100; now 1.2 million and 72,000 dead and he is projecting 100,000 dead. Eventually, when more voters realize what he told them last month is not what happened this month, even more may not trust him. From the Abraham Lincoln Association is how Lincoln is reported to attack his opponent, Douglas, as a liar not worthy of trust: "Undoubtedly the most famous utterance ever attributed to Lincoln is, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Early recollections place the saying in an 1858 speech Lincoln delivered in Clinton, Illinois. The first appeared in 1904 by E. E. Pierson, who remembered Lewis Campbell, a respected citizen of DeWitt County, telling him of the 1858 speeches that Lincoln and Douglas delivered in Clinton. According to Campbell, Lincoln said, “Judge Douglas cannot fool the people: you may fool people for a time; you can fool a part of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”
When Biden announced for the presidency, I wondered if there would be some baggage that always follows those who had been in the public and in government for a long time or whether voters already knew him so well and so favorably they would ignore the negatives. Legendary was his poor debate and interview performance and his inability to raise money. He was a great "retail" candidate on the rope line, but his platform rally skills were not exactly crowd-rousing. What has proved true is that voters know him so well and they are hard to fool. In March and April, Biden had a difficult time even getting heard and Trump hogged the cable and news channels for hours every day. By the end of April, numerous polls showed Biden 8 to ten points ahead of Trump. This could be due as much to Biden's lifetime reputation as it was to Trump's fumbles, stumbles, ignorance on display, and lies in his two-hour daily media marathons.,

Biden's opponents inferred he had dementia; and Trump overtly calls him senile. It is Trump's modus. When he is accused of being a champion liar with a long list of documented lies, he attacked Hillary as a liar. It worked and destroyed a great degree of public trust in her. : When his cognitive ability is questioned, then attack his opponent with cognitive problems.He has had a hard time living down is former Secretary of State, attempting to brief him, and in leaving the briefing called Trump a "f....g moron".. His calling Biden senile was a diagnosis without any medical professional verification and it is dirty pool. Biden's speech was stumbling at times, as he searched for words and he had a history of gaffes. "Sleepy Joe "braggart -over- the -top -demagogue-in chief Trump called him. Those who understood that Joe had struggled with stuttering his entire life knew he still was fighting it. What is a concern is his lack of vitality as he sticks to teleprompters and scripts. He is best once he goes off script with passion on a subject that especially important to him or to counter punch an attack. Being overly scripted by his aids has its disadvantages. As he recently went off script on a racial matter show the advantages of being scripted. Frankly, the spicey, quick retort Joe can come up wth zingers, too, and it is the quick on the feet Joe that gets him into trouble but shows his wit is ever sharp.
On the other hand, Donald Trump just as well could have dementia because he cannot comprehend even less than a written page of bullet points on national security interests, dozes off in presentations, forgets or ignores what he said the day before, frequently reverses or says the opposite of what he had recently ordered, or failed to grasp or understand details about the issue at hand. Some of these are also dysfunctional personality traits of narcissism, never admitting he was ever wrong, or inconvenient truth denial, and questionable judgment. Bringing up the taking disinfectants and UV lights personally internally in a stream of conscious questioning on live TV was an unfortunate public display of ignorance and common sense more worthy of a low IQ teenager. Ronald Reagan in his latter days as president was suspected of having early onset of Alzheimer's, yet he still showed enough grasp of reality to still govern competently. Reagan in his worst days was more competent than Trump in his best days.
If Biden stumbles over words, the champion is Trump:

Trump has still hung onto his 44% base, but he had never tried to expand his support. Instead, he has governed as if the only people in America are his 44% tried and true. He insulted and name called critics fired those experts who were not yes men and attacked journalists who dared to raise embarrassing questions and point out his blustering lies. Trust in Trump's honesty and trustworthiness showed an ever-increasing worry. Trump's COVID pronouncements garnered 52% distrusting him and 36% taking his word, per a recent poll. Even Trump's staff had wondered if it would be a better strategy for him to say less in his campaign rally-type TV COVID appearances. The more he opened his mouth, the more Biden's approval ratings rose as those who were not his hardcore swung their preferences to more middle of the road, trustworthy, steady- as- he- goes, Biden.,
Donald Trump had long seen Biden as his greatest threat. Biden's character was in a diametrically opposite as his. Trump's philandering and women chasing were negative compared with Biden's history as a family man, still in mourning over the death of his favored son, and his early devastating loss of his wife and daughter in a car wreck. Biden may have misspoken here and there, but usually, he had the reputation as an empathetic truth-teller who had been to hell and back in his personal life. Early in Trump's administration, Trump set about to attack both his trustworthiness and honesty and his family man's moral reputation with developing some false equivalencies to fool the voters that Biden's character was just as flawed as his own. First was the attempt to tie Hunter, his surviving son who had led a troubled life, to some sort of financial hanky panky in Ukraine and China. That was what the impeachment action was meant to counter. A month after the impeachment acquittal, Pew Research ( poll showed 46% of Americans believed the Democrats proved their case that Trump had misused national security funds to convince Ukraine to reopen the already disproved allegations and should have been removed from office. 28% did not think that was enough to justify his removal and 25% said he did nothing wrong.  Trump's cohorts never could prove Biden either benefitted from Hunter's questionable actions or even materially helped him. Expect that attempt by the Trumpists to be renewed after Covid fades, if it does. However, also expect the Democrats to fire back with reminders of Trump's ripping off consumers and workers and to dramatize his loans and assistance from Russians and others and the benefit to his children's licenses and marking with China. Talk about false equivalencies, Trump's questionable dealings, and support of Russian foreign policy make Hunter's dalliances true or not, look like child's play. Last week, the final chapter into Russian interference in 2016 to help Trump get elected was written by the Senate bipartisan committee findings that what Mueller reported about their interference was true and effective. Certainly, Trump had lost the popular vote in 2016, but three states won him the electoral vote raising once doubt that Trump won the presidency fair and square and without foreign help.
In another false equivalency tactic Trumpists have ramped up lately was that Biden was a sex fiend because one woman came forward with an ever-changing story that Biden had gotten under her skirts nearly 30 years ago. She was a Sanders supporter when she made public the charges and before then, she had written about her loving admiration of Putin. Biden denied the charges and her allegations were not witnessed. Rather than passing judgment about whether she is speaking the truth or not, let us talk about outrageous comparisons. Other women had reported Biden had sniffed their hair or hugged them too closely. Whether that any of this stuff was true or not is not the point. In fact, he never denied the hair sniffing and hugging, but promised he would do it no more. Wait a minute. This is equal to Trump's three marriages, the last of which horned in on his second one, his boasting about p grabbing, and his night with Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy Bunny, whom he paid off, lied about it, and got his fall guy attorney in jail for helping him cover it up? Then there were the 16 women who testified publicly that Trump nearly raped or raped them. Oh, well. So a family man Trump is not. But Biden's alleged indiscretion is to be blown up and blasted over the media by FOX. It will give Trump's devoted, forgiving followers something to hang their hats on. That it will fool once Republican suburban women who are flocking to the Democratic party to believe that Biden is just as much a womanizer as Trump is extremely unlikely. It is a very hard case to make. The defense should not come from Biden himself, but from others who should remind voters frequently and often of who the real womanizer is every time a Trumpster brings up their specious allegations. A recent poll shows little impact: those who believe Reade and those who don't split evenly and even one third of those who believe her over Biden are still supporting Biden. In the same poll, Biden is preferred by 53% of those interviewed. Another poll, Morning Consult, shows overall, the Reade matter did not affect the 53% preference for Biden over Trump, though Biden did take a hit with 5% in women's opinion and he still had an 8% lead over Trump.
Those FOX crews fixated by Tara Reade, now ask the question: Shouldn't Biden drop out because of Tara Reade? Trump should have resigned a minimum of 16 times when he was a candidate for every accuser. He should have quit when the p grabbing boasting ape came out and he was a candidate. In truth, he did not. In truth voters still voted for him. He got caught, was an unindicted person X, paying off Stormy Daniels and a playboy bunny as his personal attorney took the fall and is sitting in prison covering up for him. In truth, voters do not care that much if other issues are more important.
A personal testimony: my late husband Dr. Mike Muftic served as a Democratic national committeeman for twelve years. He was a personal friend of Joe Biden since the time they were together on a diplomatic mission. He put his medical practice on hold to campaign for him with ethnic groups in industrial states. I have been hugged by Biden himself in our younger years and I never felt threatened by him. My antennae are usually on high alert since I had been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Update 5/25/20:
Also on racism, FOX and Trump's minions are attempting to make Biden an equivalent racist as Trump:
FOX with glee tried to capitalize on a "cavalier" joking statement Biden made in an attempt to weaken the support of Biden by his most ardent supporters, African Americans.. Watching MSNBC over the holiday, it is clear FOX's message found an echo chamber among MSNBC pundits, looping Biden's misspeak over and over again. I will not question the sincerity of the MSNBC pundits because I think they were indeed sincere in their criticism of Biden. I do react in mock amazement,
that FOX, the platform for the President's racism and amplifiers of him, all of a sudden were pointing fingers at Biden, with a sudden conversion by its pundits as a defender of civil rights. The President is one who calls torch-carrying white nationalists waiving symbols of the KKK and neo-nazism " very fine people", led public opinion that Obama was born in Kenya so he was not a legitimate president, and kept expressing his belief five young black men were guilty of the murder of a young white woman even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence,. Years before he got into legal trouble earlier for discriminatory policies in his rental properties. The message FOX promoted was that Trump was no more a racist than Joe Biden. It is a monumental false equivalency. Biden apologized for the comment when he realized how the joke was interpreted. Yes, he has over the years evolved to become even more a defender of anti-racist public policy, including revising and addressing the unintended consequences of a crime bill he had supported., President Trump has not evolved,. He can directly attribute his rise to political prominence resulting in his election on his advocacy birtherism and the guilt of the Central Park Five. He never believes he is wrong and never apologizes for it, and his attitudes to minorities never evolved. unlike Joe Biden..

Joe Biden's response yesterday to the question of whether he had a double standard in the Tara Reade case and the Kavanaugh Supreme Court case was that women accusing men of sexual assault needed to be believed. Biden's response was they should be taken seriously and the accusations should receive serious investigations. As a person who has been sexually harassed in the workplace at my first job in television in New York in the early 1960's, it is a personally sensitive subject. However, the flaw of the MeToo movement is that taken seriously means to believe the accuser without the investigation part because the accuser is always right. It ain't necessarily so. In a serious investigation, if Reade had pursued it legally, she would have run across some sharp questions from a defense attorney. Here are some::

If we must blindly accept every allegation of sexual assault, the #MeToo movement is just a hit squad. And it's too important to be no more than that.
The DNC did not rig this. They did not finance Biden. They did not promote Biden. They did not stack caucus states for Biden. They did not cause the primary vote for Biden. Bernie failed to get more of the African American vote. He failed to turn out the young people in numbers. He scared the wits out of the moderates both with his self tag of socialism and his constant anti-big corporation rhetoric who are not full of such anger. They were not into class warfare this year. Polls reflected that nearly every Democratic contender would beat Trump in the popular vote but Biden always showed he would do it with bigger margins. A comeback was wrecked by COVID 19 as media and voters focused elsewhere. Big rallies were not in vogue this year nor were many caucus states where you could stack and control the outcome with a good organization; most of the states had moved to primaries instead of caucus. This was 2020; not 2016. The voters were looking for someone they could trust and slow Joe was it. They had had it with loud oratory. They had plenty of that already. They did not want to gamble on "new". Some did in 2016 for many reasons, but mostly because Hillary was a woman or believed what Both Trump and Bernie called her "crooked Hillary"..or she did not have the right amount of empathy. Or they fell for the GOP email ploy... just as some on the left now are falling for the Hunter, Reade, and dementia FOX talking points. So we got a fascist racist corporatist incompetent and serial lying president/demagogue who has set about to stack the federal judiciary with those his backers love. He has methodically set about to dismantle every progressive reform Obama instituted. Some other year might have been Bernie's. I firmly believe that as these younger generations gain some age and enter more leadership positions, Bernie's goals will be fully realized. But not yet. The first job though will be the restoration of Obama's agenda and take some steps toward Bernie's goals.. Even then little will happen unless the Senate also turns blue. That is the reality we are facing.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The takers and the makers. It isn't what you think. Why?

Edited and updated: April 28, 2020
Published by Winter Park Times, May 7-8, 2020
The takers and the makers...It isn't what you or the Tea Party-like folks think. An Atlantic magazine analysis has been updated in 2017 though the analysis was first done in 2014. The red states are the takers of the blue states ' federal taxpayers' money.  Per the article, "There are various ways of thinking about what a 'state dependency' map cited in the article tells us. One approach is to shine a light on the red-states-as takers paradox: Dominated by Republican voters who profess their distaste for the federal government and its social programs, these are the very states that rank highest on the dependency index." This is how Business Insider handled the story: "As it turns out, it is red states that are overwhelmingly the Welfare Queen States. Yes, that's right. Red States—the ones governed by folks who think the government is too big and spending needs to be cut—are a net drain on the economy, taking in more federal spending than they pay out in federal taxes. They talk a good game, but stick Blue States with the bill."
By any measure in the article, Colorado is a maker state, among the lowest tier of states taking federal taxpayer dollars.
     Why are some states takers, not makers?  Simply looking at the various maps and statistics, what pops out is that most of the taking states are red and southern.  The Atlantic conclusion is correct so far as it goes.  The Atlantic article did not go into any detail, but I agree the importance of who holds political power in Congress does play an important role. The Atlantic article places the blame on  Congress members frequently re-elected from safe seats, gaining seniority, and controlling committee chairs. True. They have brought in the pork to their home states.  I have some theories of how this has happened.  More House safe seats have been carved out by rampant gerrymandering, permitting frequent re-election of incumbents and seniority in the House. In the Senate, those from safe seats rule committees and their GOP chairs often hale from the South. For example, Kentucky is in the top ten of the taker states and it is the 4th poorest state in the union.  Ironically,  Kentucky Sen. GOP Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who controls Senate majority votes and committee chairs, is not considered an ideological friend of spending of social programs or making it easier to vote.  Also from Kentucky is Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian who generally opposes federal spending on social programs. He is much valued in a close vote. Governance of state governments also plays a role. Regardless of ideology, it has not kept Kentucky from being in the top ten takers.  New Mexico and some others ranking high on the poverty list have high native American and Hispanic populations. Many others have large African-American populations.   Often these states are governed by legislatures and governors who are white and conservative and uneager to share power. 
      One more paradox in makers and takers comparisons,  racism is a factor, but not as the racists believe.  More white people get government assistance than any other group of minorities, including African Americans.
Food stamp recipients, in particular, are more white of percentage,  than of a minority race.
   Diving deeper into the issue of political control, there are some underlying factors.  The kinds of economic activity states generate may play a role. However,  with few exceptions, there is also a strong self-perpetuating connection in the South with the poverty rate of the taking states and the percentage of racial minorities, poor health care, and voter suppression.    Because of poverty, their needs exceed the will and ability of their state governments to provide so they demand and need federal help.  Many of these states have not expanded Medicaid to their poorer citizens when they had the opportunity under the provisions of Obamacare, keeping the poorer sicker and more expensive to treat. Voter suppression tactics,  making it expensive and inconvenient to register and get transportation to vote, and stringent requirements for government-issued picture IDs from non-drivers,   keep minorities at a political power disadvantage in getting their part of the economic pie.

The average gross monthly income per food stamp household is $731; The average net income is $336. 37% of participants are White, 22% are African-American, 10% are Hispanic, 2% are Asian, 4% are Native American, and 19% are of unknown race or ethnicity.    


And is that even the correct way to frame the question?