Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A better slogan for Democrats? The GOP is rigging the election system to turn losers into winners.

 Messaging by sloganeering is a skill the Democrats rarely master.   With the likely defeat of the voting rights bills or a filibuster ban carved out in the Senate,  Democrats need to sharpen their message to carry the fight to the state. and local elections. However, when it comes to slogans, they are mealy-mouthed and too verbose in reaching out to those not yet in their camp. 

One of my pet peeves is using "voter suppression" as the slogan word. Those claiming suppression was bad were mostly Africa Americans, and coupling it with the racial angle of it. As the targeted ones, that is understandable. It is not just a civil rights issue.  It does not tell how this suppression affects everyone else  and how democracy is subverted.." Democracy on the ballot' is another nice slogan but to be effective, it a) depends that those who may not be aware of a)what democracy is and b) how the GOP is hurting it and c) how the alternative of "autocracy" is bad for them.  

.  Here is my stab: " The GOP is rigging the election system".  Couple that with they do it"  to turn losers into winners" in future elections. The subset to that can be brief::"by making it harder and more inconvenient for everyone to vote, putting their flunkies in charge of counting votes, and permitting local legislatures to overturn the result they do not like.". ..  The  "rigging" charge can also serve as a sharp counter-attack  to the big lie, that the election was stolen was never proved and has become just their made-up excuse for their power grab legislation. . :  


  


Sunday, October 17, 2021

The answer to those who are sabotaging democracy? Pass the voting rights bills

  Here is why we need to pass voting reform legislation and to crack down on extreme domestic terrorists. The most vocal champions of voting rights have been African Americans, but all who care about democracy as a system of governance need to be equally passionate because there is so much at stake. What threats to kidnap and terrorize elected officials in Michigan, at the US Capitol on January 6, local school boards, and elected vote counting officials across America has illustrated is that if an extreme group can not win at the ballot box, then it resorts to terrorism. Over half of the GOP approves the use of force to protect their way of life and nearly half think going beyond the law is fine, too, per a June Monmouth poll. Most Republicans Say Force May Be Required to Save 'Traditional' America: Poll (businessinsider.com)" FYI: peaceful assemblies to redress grievances are protected by the Constitution. Violent actions are not. John Eastman, the Trumpist attorney who provided a blueprint to Trump for a strategy to overthrow the 2020 elecction is now proposing to arm sheriffs as militias. Claremont Institute’s descent into Trumpian extremism embodied in law-enforcement strategy (dailykos.com) If the last election did not turn out the way a group wanted, then they rig the system so that even if the group loses the popular vote this time, then the next time they will be able to control whose votes are counted and how and to restrict the opposition's access to the ballot box. They support and pass legislation so that they can control who certifies the election in order to ignore the popular vote. When election districts are defined by boundaries they, gerrymander them so fewer of the districts will exist that reflect the will of opponents. It may be clever politics, but it is dirty politics. rigging the system to install and keep a losing party in power. This country has spent years attempting to insure the will of all of the people can be expressed through fair elections. That has been our soul, but now for the GOP, their soul is to do whatever it takes and to manipulate and abuse once upon a time democratic and fair processes.

For a comprehensive analysis of how states have attempted to twist vote outcomes to keep the=r party in power, go to Voting Laws Roundup: October 2021 | Brennan Center for Justice

For the most recent report by the FBI on incidents of domestic terrorism, see U.S. Domestic Terrorism Investigations Have More Than Doubled -FBI Director | Top News | US News

Claremont Institute’s descent into Trumpian extremism embodied in law-enforcement strategy (dailykos.com)


Friday, October 15, 2021

Is "democracy is on the ballot " a good slogan for Democrats in 2022 and 2024?

 I heard a Democratic candidate for governor in another state roll out his announcement using the slogan: "Democracy is on the ballot".  Not a bad slogan at all, but it is not one that has any meaning without an explanation.  It also has no relevance to how it would affect public policy either without connecting it to the results that affect people's lives.  The Democrats have some really messaging problems. If that is to be used as the slogan for state races, there needs to be a more direct connection to how it hurts  "you the voter". as the end result because as a slogan it needs some further explanation and fleshing out..

  Examples of explanations: " The GOP wants to rig future elections so that even if they do not represent what the majority wants, they can rule as the minority party anyway.  They want to make sure every vote does not count  They want to put their party hacks in charge of deciding which votes will be counted and how; and if they still lose, they want the legislatures they control to ignore how what the majority in their state want and overturn or throw into chaos the election results by failing to certify the election results.    That is not how democracy is supposed to work/ The will of the majority determines what policies will be/ Ir is not rigging the system so that the minority. rules.".What this means for public policy that affects people's lives is not hard to explain,.     For example, the majority, per polls, want preK ed and childcare and the GOP is against it. Should the majority's voice be heard and determine the direction of their state on these popular issues? There are. other issues in the reconciliation bill that also have large public support to which the GOP opposes as well.  

  Democrats need to focus on plain language and avoid relying solely on what has become jargon:  "voter suppression" or even "autocracy".  and" the big lie".  and put it in terms of how it would hurt voters themselves.  Those are terms that describe GOP strategy to get you to agree to let them sabotage democracy .but using them does not tell the ordinary voter how this affects them and their ability to cope with everyday matters. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The soul of America is at stake. Biden was right

Joe Biden was elected because he was not  Donald Trump. In fact, as a person, he was Trump's polar opposite.  Biden was, fair, earnest, positive,  logical, moral, experienced, and a known quantity.  He was not elected because of his build-back better slogan. It never caught on because he never explained it in a way that was memorable. It is not working now because neither he nor the progressives have explained it well enough. There is a scramble now to give some time to explain it. When its elements are taken separately, they are popular but are not tied to the legislation in voters' minds... It is not an inspiring theme to just list a shorthand of what is in it. Obama had a hard time even selling the ACA because no one grasped the details or even how it was affordable..  Just waiting a couple of years until the benefits are experienced and slowly it dawns on people is too late for the next election cycle.   Hillary Clinton had the same problem.  She would bullet point her public policy proposals like a laundry list..and note how it would benefit segments of her targeted demographics again and again until the eyes of the audience would glaze over. The pressure is on both Biden and progressives to do the same thing.:" List its title and be done" is not inspiring or enough. It must be put in a context that means something to ones' gut. 

Biden should return to his original campaign theme, The Battle for the Soul of America.  and show how his BBB fits in. Above all, he now has enough evidence and experience in the past year, he should contrast it with the lack of soul and the damage to our soul committed by both the GOP leaders and the former president lusting for a second term and still in control of the GOP.  We cannot separate Trump from his party because they are one in the same now. The answer is not to see the trees instead of the forest. We need to see how what the forest is and why the trees contribute to it. The forest that we could have lost in the weeds is what is the soul of America. The Trump movement has become the beetle that is eating away at what has been our soul. The soul is, the ideal we have set for selves in the past and have not always met, but we have not abandoned it yet.  The soul is severely under attack. and Biden needs to show how it is happening..

 We know what has been the soul of America that made us so great.  It is hard work and being rewarded for that work.  We have made it hard for so many in America to even make enough to make a living. We can raise the minimum wage and it is rising, but we can do more to help them afford child care, give them an education for jobs we need today without going into debt, so we can have an extra two years of free education in community college. We can; help them plan their family and pregnancies and give them the tools to; keep them healthy so they can work and afford their health care. We know what helps women stay in the workforce: choice and vaccines for themselves and for those they love. and help to care for. those who are their responsibility. 

What the soul of America is not: a government that puts the power in the hands of those who are the minority. voting block.. regardless of which party. is in power and denies the ability of those they lord over to express themselves in the ballot box.   The soul is a government to reflect the will of its people, the majority, but it also protects the rights of those with other views and with complaints to demonstrate peacefully and to make their case in the media.  That is the soul we once were and should be in the future.


The soul of America we know looks at facts and data and asks questions of science and demands evidence before developing public policy.  To do otherwise on a whim or a theory is to court failure:.the" old garbage in, garbage out"  formula.. 

The soul of America is to promote fairness, not to excuse corruption or to condemn whistleblowers the moment they present their evidence whether it is in business or government,. 

The soul of America is fair play. We make the effort to provide umpires and referees in sports. It is that same sense of fairness that should be the soul of America in public policy and in our lives and our businesses.  It is not the soul of America to support cheaters and below-the-belt attackers and to look the other way when we see it..  However, fairness calls for instant replays and some checks and balances and consequences to constrain corruption of those in power with proof and evidence are for all to see.  Simply calling someone a cheater and a liar and whine they were a victim of foul play without evidence and proof is why we have had hearings and investigative reporters.  They are to be heard, not stonewalled.  That is the essence of a fair judicial and media system.  That is the soul of America and the way we learn who does not play fair or seeks to feather their own nests of power and wealth. Glorifying cheaters and law evaders who make it big is not part of our ideal.. Approval of robber barons and fraudsters is not the soul of America.  



https://www.politifact.com/article/2021/jul/14/are-state-legislators-really-seeking-power-overrul/

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president-biden-job-approval-7320.html








  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Imagine what it is like to live in a country without a democracy

Imagine what it is like to live in a country without a democracy Most in this country do not have the time, patience, or desire to read books written by professors, about history or political theories. Even then we do not have to consult experts and pundits to see what is happening before our very eyes and what we are experiencing.. though it takes some perspective, stepping back into history, and listening carefully to what is happening elsewhere.    Most of those in this country have never known anything but our democracy as we have practiced it for 250 years and may live under the assumption that it will just continue in spite of those who want to change it.  Most of us are too busy trying to make a dime just to go about our day-to-day lives. Its eternity is not a slam dunk.; It takes work to continue. Even Ben Franklin questioned our republic would last because we the people had to keep it.

  Most of us have no concept of what living in an autocracy or a dictatorship is like, or even a banana republic, yet to most of us these are just abstract, political science terms. and even these alternatives can be attractive..   We see problems and changes that affect our lives, and want some strong leader to fix it,  and blame democracy for making it difficult for some savior to ride in on a white horse and rule by edict.  With a touch of a pen, the law is changed, the problem is removed, and the "trains run on time".and peace and prosperity come to the land. Be careful what you wish. The rest of us may not realize an alternative to democracy is gaining steam.

Imagine what it is like to live in a country without a democracy We have just had an election that unseated a president who tried to stay in power even though he lost the 2020 election by the same margin he won his election in 2016. Many of the strategies Donald Trump used failed this time. He used lies and touted theories that were never backed up with evidence, replacing agency leadership with yes people, fomenting a violent mob attack on the Capitol,, an attempt to force the military, and his own vice president to act contrary to the Constitution. He did not achieve his ultimate goal to overturn an election and stay in power for four more years..Nearly eight months later sixty-seven percent of his own party polled did not see these actions as a threat to democracy and continue to approve his actions, and 44% want Donald Trump to run again.. Per the same poll, 24%  even long for an "autocrat" to run the country.  They have turned a blind eye to the lessons of history and current events in other countries.. . 67% of GOP want Trump to stay in politics, 44% want him to run for president | Pew Research Center    They will succeed unless the rest of us are alarmed enough to realize how these forces are attempting to turn the democracy we have known into the rule of a person. instead of rule by the people. as expressed freely. in fair elections. Sixty federal judges of all political stripes could find o evidence that the election was stolen by fraud.  The GOP is trying hard to end fair and free elections in the future. They have a multi-state concerted strategy to make law changes designed to control and overturn popular vote outcomes they do not like by controlling who counts the vote and giving legislatures they control the right to pick electors they favor regardless of their state's popular vote.  The GOP is flirting with an end of democracy as we have known it for 250 years,  replacing it with a nation led by a wannabe autocrat who failed at his first attempt to be one. 

 Imagine what it would be like to live in an autocracy, a dictatorship.  It is not hard for me to imagine. I am into my 80's and I have seen dictatorships and autocracies rise, fall, and survive and I have seen some of them first hand, on the ground, and in-country. I have personally experienced those run by a communist dictator opposed to capitalism and I have seen the remnants of one headed by a fascist dictator in cahoots with big capitalism. It should not be hard for those with their eyes wide open to imagine because it has happened in Russia, Hungary, Turkey in the western hemisphere since the end of the Cold War, and it is happening now  Like the fascists of th 1930s. most current dictators and autocrats rose to power with the consent of a majority or near majority, and once there gained great control by abusing, ignoring,  and manipulating existing laws to consolidate power. They can be there until some revolt,, velvet or bloody, brings them down. Absolute power does corrupt, and even once fellow travelers have no way to end the inevitable corruption as their country's leaders feather their privileged nests. 

For those who hope for the autocracy of someone like Donald Trump, try to imagine what it would be like to live in a dictatorship in our modern era.  We have three models to consider, all began with the consent of the governed and now have morphed into dictatorships, oppressing its challengers in various ways. They are not as extreme in control of your personal life as in  North Korea, or even  Fascist Germany or Stalinist communism. None the less they share some similarities. So imagine yourself living in Russia where Putin has almost asserted total governmental control, or in Erdogan's Turkey that is not far behind. Hungary under Viktor Orban is the newbie, an autocracy in process, where the opposition press has been destroyed and favors are handed out to loyalists, ensuring self-interested loyalty of backers of Orban. The majority of citizens in all three countries handed over their democratic freedoms out of fear of civil chaos, fear of violent extremists, or fear of the end of ethnic purity as middle east refugees knocked on their doors. Thanks to the internet, not all opposition has been left in the total darkness of what is happening in reality.   Imagine a government in which whistleblowers have no public platform in media or branch of government to call out corruption,. The opposition press had been bought out or closed down. They may like their leaders' policies but are incensed with the corruption with no outlet for their anger. Whistleblowers and reporters get imprisoned or poisoned or "accidentally" fall out of a high rise, or are assassinated in broad daylight in a public square if their objections pose a threat to the leader.  Imagine, the minority of those pledging allegiance to their leader is able to control the majority because, the majority takes away the ability of the minority to complain or to rally, even peacefully.  Whoever holds all the levers of governmental power can benefit themselves since no body of government, legislature, or judiciary will block him. They are controlled by loyal appointees who swear allegiance to him instead of their sworn oaths to obey the Constitution.  Imagine, the majority takes away the ability of a minority to complain or to rally,.   That is how Putin, Orban, and Erdogan rose to power and still rule...It takes more than one term to reach this control level, but Donald Trump made a start of it especially in the few frantic months left in his term as he tried to overturn the election... . We, the non Trumpers,  are ignorant fools if we let this happen here.

_____________________________________________________

Some personal memories of what was like to experience the most extreme forms of dictatorships, Stalinist type of rule. or know those who survived fascism...I have experienced those run by a communist dictator opposed to capitalism and I have seen the remnants of one headed by a fascist dictator in cahoots with big capitalism  Their public policies and ideology may have differed, but the methods of gaining power and keeping power were similar. Some of their techniques have been adopted by current autocrats and dictators that are in power now.  In most cases, both the Nazis and fascists in the 1930s and the dictators and autocrats emerging in the post-Cold War era came to power by abusing and using democracy, subverted it, and kept power to govern with iron fists.

. I attended a university in Berlin twelve years after the end of World War II.   I was married to a refugee from a communist country for 53 years.  As his native land moved from the practices of Stalin to a more relaxed communist rule, we were able to visit and spend time in Yugoslavia still while it was under the thumb of a dictator,  Tito. They first permitted those who left without approval to return to visit, provided they had served in their military draft and posed no threat to the regime. When Dr. Mike Muftic became stateless in 1959, he had thought he would never see his mother again. In 1972, with three you children in tow, we spent the first of many visits over the years vacationing there and being with relatives.Those who may have objected to the regime were kept in tow by fear, fear of imprisonment, fear of loss of a better job, fear of not being able to get the perks that others got.   We experienced how people lived in a country that tolerated no dissent and whose allegiance was to their president. Even 25 years into his rule, it was instructive of how he maintained his control. . Laws and constitution were window dressing or used as tools to keep in power the president and his compatriots. Radio broadcasts from the West were jammed and only approved newspapers were on the stands to be bought. Dissidents were already in jail or had fled the country.  Yes, everyone had an equal opportunity to get a job, and all were equally poor.   Critics of the regime who had not achieved a large following were not given privileges of the others, the ability to get promotions or even to pursue their professional dreams, even whispers of dissent were dangerous.  There was every incentive to keep one's mouth shut, to speak nary a bad word about the leader.  Instead, jokes we would call racist focused on the stupidity of certain ethnics that became code for disguising criticism of the regime.  There were some really funny ones, but to put it into a similar context in the US, imagine the non PC vogue of ethnic jokes...such as how many of the hapless ethnic members did it take to screw in a lightbulb? One to hold a lightbulb and the other to turn the ladder around. Those were cloaked criticism of a stupid and inefficient government and everyone understood the allegories. . Substitute the leader's name for the hapless ethnic butt of the jokes, and forget the better job, the better apartment, or the free beach vacation of the privileged.  There were spies loyal to the leader everywhere, on every block, and in every school.  Foreign travel was only allowed on educational or government or professional business, and only if family members were kept at home, to make it less likely the brain drain would happen.  Imagine, too, there was only one newspaper, one TV channel you could get what passed as "news",  which was all good news about how well the regime was doing.  News to the rules meant touting production of wheat figures, or what great recognition their glorious leader got from others in the world.  There were no small businesses permitted until later years; farms were either owned by the government or enough land was left in the hands of small truck farmers who sold their extra produce in farmers' markets. Yugoslavia's permission of small farmers differed from Russia and the people ate well. There was no starvation. Yes, there was free education, but the curriculum and content were approved by the leader and had to be in conformity of the ideology, whether or not there was a scientific basis Try having to explain to professors in oral exams how dialectical materialism had anything to do with medical truths, as my medical student husband to be once had to explain in order to pass.  

After a bloody civil war in the 1990s, Yugoslavia broke apart. The part Dr . Mke Muftic claimed as his original homeland became Croatia, now a modern, western state, a member of the EU and NATO.  After the setbacks of the civil war, and years of weeding out the worst of corruption, Croatia is finding its way to prosperity and democracy that resembles ours.  Its spectacular, unspoiled Adriatic coastline is now one of the hottest tourist venues in the world.  


How the minority party can rule the majority:  3 stats show the deck is stacked against Democrats - The Washington Post

https://www.politifact.com/article/2021/jul/14/are-state-legislators-really-seeking-power-overrul/

The new Texas voting law includes these 7 major changes - CNNPolitics




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Friday, October 8, 2021

How the US almost became a banana republic

  In Central America there is a role model of bad governance we have tagged as banana republics, led by dictators and their cronies, enriching themselves while ignoring the needs of their citizens.   Those countries continue in power with inept, corrupt autocratic governance. . Military coups and violent revolutions are how regime change usually happens in such dictatorships, We ourselves came closer to becoming a banana republic within the past year in retrospect as more and more evidence of what happened emerges. Attempts by Donald Trump to execute a coup, overturn 2020 election results and stay in power a second term, may have failed, but they are characteristic of a wannabe dictator and there is no reason to believe that given the chance to be president again, he could become closer to achieving the power of the rule of a person instead of the rule of law. He would have the time and opportunity to replace the federal courts and the Justice Department with those willing to make judgment calls he favors.  If he controls both houses of Congress as well, the end of democracy as we know it, rule by the majority with rights protecting the minority, and any checks and balances on executive power, is dead.  Unfortunately for democracy, a sizeable amount of Republicans are happy to give him that chance.

A House Bi-partisan hearings on the January 6 riot have revealed much, as well as startling revelations in recent books by those in the know presenting strong evidence (Woodward-Costa amount them)'Peril' Review: Bob Woodward's New Book Uncovers The Trump Era's Final Moments : NPR. For now, subpoenas of those in the room where it happened will likely go to court. Trump tells 4 former aides to defy Jan. 6 committee's subpoena - POLITICO  While we wait for this to play out, we already know quite a bit to be alarmed. The red flags are flying that democracy is in peril.

Here is what we have learned so far:

. A president attempted to overturn an election with a coup using whatever means he could, from abuse of his power to outright lies to fomenting violence and terror. It was not a one event coup, it was a rolling attack with a variety of weapons.  ..The battle cry he used to reverse the results of the 2020 election,  "stop the steal,", was based on what he had been told was a lie.. The thief was him who tried to overturn the election results. He was told by his own attorney general their own investigations found no proof of widespread fraud that would have changed the election outcome, Trump persisted knowing this.  First, he tried with   lawsuits.  All such suits were thrown out of courts by 60 judges of all political stripes for lack of evidence. Update  10/8/21 Next, he tried to put in a loyalist to head the Justice Department to make it look like the allegations of voter fraud by investigating them look credible, but the entire brass of the DOJ threatened to resign.  Failing that, an attorney, John Eastman, then laid out a blueprint for how Trump could get his second term in spite of the election results, including conspiring with Vice President Pence to decertify the electoral vote count and throw the election into the House that gave one state one vote,and upholding Trump's second term.READ Trump lawyer's memo on a six-step plan for Pence to overturn the election - CNNPolitics. Pence, after considering that, told the president on January 5 he could not do it, even when Trump called him "no longer his friend".Pence Said to Have Told Trump He Lacks Power to Change Election Result - The New York Times (nytimes.com) The riot was supposed to give Pence the guts to make the decertifying call.  .  ,  Trump in a "stop the steal rally" in advance of the riot at the Capitol,   inspired a mob to terrify legislators into not certifying the election of his opponent. The attempt, too, failed. The election of Joe Biden was certified the night of January 6. Other efforts to upend the democratic process were tried and failed, including threatening state election officials "to go out and find" more votes for him..That conversation was recorded on tape.. We are hearing allegations by witnesses  Trump tried to enlist the active military to put down opposition demonstrators, a plan thwarted by the Joint Chiefs.

Trump's denials and lies have gained traction with a sizeable number of Republicans.  The violent overthrow of democratically elected governments is against the laws of all democracies because the right to protest and to change leaders with the ballot box is the peaceful alternative that is provided to dissidents as their civil rights are protected.   The violent takeover of governments,, however, is being openly supported by a sizeable number of the GOP..  Now, fully one-half of those who identify themselves as Republicans approve or do not care if tools are used to defy constitutional law and use violence to achieve their political goals.  Most Republicans Say Force May Be Required to Save 'Traditional' America: Poll (businessinsider.com. Fortunately for American democracy, these banana Republicans,  approving of autocracy also, are currently about 26% of the total electorate per a recent Morning Consult poll.26% of Americans Are Highly 'Right-Wing Authoritarian,' New Poll Finds (businessinsider.com)

  Trump pressure campaign: Durbin report details DOJ, White House meeting - The Washington Post    MUFTIC FORUM BLOG: Why General Milley is emerging as a hero who saved democracy

Interviews with former Justice Department officials provide new details on Trump efforts to undermine election results - CNNPolitics

MUFTIC FORUM BLOG: Trump's attempted coup by court has gone down in flames, as did the reputation of the GOP

https://mufticforumblog.blogspot.com/2021/07/why-general-milley-is-emerging-as-hero.h

How Democracies Die is a 2018 comparative politics book by Harvard University political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt about how elected leaders can gradually subvert the democratic process to increase their power.

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
Book by Timothy D. Snyder

What if Pence and the DOK had done what the Eastman memo wanted to happen? 
https://wwww.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/13/how-close-were-we-an-actual-stolen-election-stolen-by-trump/

 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Why I am not an Evangelical

I wrote this because, on a political Facebook site, Christianity is being painted as being monolithic and uniform and subject to blanket criticism. It is not.  I am a practicing and church-going Christian...I am not part of the Evangelical movement currently more in vogue today. Here is why.  Their views are theirs and sincerely held, but they are not my priorities. Sometimes I interpret the scriptures differently. I also see the role of government differently. 

There is a schism in current Christianity. Ir is between traditional beliefs that bless those as Jesus listed in the beatitudes and the Golden Rule. and the Evangelical movement has become singularly focused on the unborn to the neglect of the life and needs of the born. There is little emphasis in the Evangelical movement treating their neighbors,, including the "least of these,." and others,  in the way they would like to be treated. When asked which of the Jewish laws were the most important, Jesus answered: Love God with all your heart and treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated. He set the priorities. Evangelicals have parked their theology train in a sidetrack.  

 The Evangelical view of Christ's view, render unto Caesar in tax and government laws and render the rest to God,  is instead to pressure Caesar to enforce their own particular views on abortion for them by passing laws to accomplish their evangelical goals. and to spread their brand in public schools funded by taxpayers. The "choice" issue is not specifically addressed in the scriptures, but the Evangelical interpretation when life begins has become their top focus, anyway, that life begins at conception, and not when God breathed life into their souls as stated in Genesis.. Evangelical theological approaches have become part of the 'cultural wars" mixing their specific theology with their political beliefs. Among those views is that vaccinations are somehow evil. For me, Science is a gift of God by giving us intelligence and the ability to discover how to live longer. It is not a curse or a sacrilege. . To not be concerned with how many others the non vaccinated infect is not practicing the Golden Rule.  That employers can mandate vaccinations or testing are a workforce, and marketing and business advantage. Sick and dead employees are not helpful for needed staffing levels.  So long as testing is offered as an alternative to those against vaccinations for health and religious belief, such employer mandates are appropriate. Most consumers and potential customers are not anti-vaxxers and fear becoming infected given the known ability of the virus to infect others. They prefer taking their business where they have confidence they will be safe.

Evangelical theology is mostly embraced by White conservatives. Christ is often depicted as a blond, blue-eyed caucasian when He was a Semite It is a very unfortunate view toward superiority of the White race that is not so coincidental Where Evangelical Christianity is universally dominant is in former slave states... A large portion of the new testament promotes the post-crucifixion spread of Christianity to those who also were not Jews or of the same tribal or racial origins or spoke different languages.  Being a good Samaritan, good to those who are "others", is part of New Testament theology.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

A reconciliation compromise that will simultaneously make no one happy and everyone happy .

 Watching the Democrats self-destruct over the Biden bill ...the one with the social services...it reminds me why I am so happy not to be in a legislature. I just do not have the patience. (I spent over 20 years lobbying the Colorado legislature on behalf of whatever government or nonprofit organization I represented at the time......and I dreaded every minute of it. I usually was successful, but sitting, testifying, and waiting for hours in the lobby..was just not much fun. I am sure Pelosi will pull it off someway, but I do not know with whom I am more disgusted,, the progressives' attempt to use blocking of other bills (infrastructure, i.e.) as blackmail or the total stubbornness of Manchin and Sinema. Guess there is a reason the donkey is the party symbol. I want those progressive programs...all of them...but numbers are negotiable...and the Manchin and Sinema blockade infuriates me because neither will tell what they would cut or what their dollar amount is. Manchin is blue in a ruby-red state. He needs to show a victory, but realize he is in a coal-producing state and when he ran last, his money came from the fossil fuel industry. Sinema, a newby Senator, was financed heavily by pharmaceuticals when she ran and a few days ago,,she held a fundraiser with big business lobbyists attending.. Manchin will need to show he cut the total budget (his public stance),, including the green part. Sinema will have to show she got some little goody for her funders, though I doubt anyone will let her get away without the competitive bid for medicare formularies. Perhaps there is a tax offset somewhere. So here is mine: Give all a small haircut of an arbitrary percent that is in the social services reconciliation bill. and even a corresponding cut in tax increases business. ..Everybody can point to how effective they were...and the progressive agenda is still intact without elimination of any portion of it, just underfunded for now. The only ones most upset at that would be the GOP Senators who got outfoxed. This is a compromise on the reconciliation bill that will make no one happy and everyone happy at the same time. The Democrats, all of them will have bragging rights in 2022 and 2024. Oh well, Biden will figure it out...or not ..An emerging battle cry of Democrats is: Democrats produce; Republicans obstruct. It is a great slogan but will only work if the Biden agenda is enacted.

Update 10/4/21: These are theories not tested by public polling I can find, but here is my explanation of probable reasons for the failure of the process so far. . Two stubborn Senators with their own agendas for re-election have deservedly gotten the blame, but there are other factors, too. The delay of the vote until the end of October is a symptom of the failure on the part of progressives to educate the public The passion the progressive leaders in the House have for the Biden-backed reconciliation bill is not shared by many outside of Congress. The time is needed to make their case better and to deal with the two stubborn senators. The setback is temporary.

Where progressives have gone wrong. They assumed that because they got control of the two houses of Congress and the White House, this legislation was their mandate. It may have given them an opportunity, but the reason Biden won was not to "build back better" It was that he was not Donald Trump and Biden was an acceptable alternative to the madness of a chaotic, narcissistic leader who used fear as his vengeful wrath and hatred of others as tools, and with a lust for keeping himself in power..Progressives falsely assumed that because each provision of the reconciliation bill backed by progressives polled high, there was a lack of public knowledge that those popular provisions were included or that their constituents wanted all of the various contents in one package. It is a segmented appeal. Not everyone has children, needs child care, or will be attending a community college, or has large bills to be paid out of pocket for prescription drugs. The passion for saving the environment or understanding the connection of global warming is more than it once was, but still not on the top issue of many. That blanketly calling any of the provisions good for everyone or is worthy of being condemned as socialism depends on ideology and values. It speaks to how much how many care about their neighbors in the moral sense or hate everything that smells of the word socialism and do not want their tax money going to others they do not like. . The failure of getting the policy accepted without mandates that people should get COVID shots or wear masks for the sake of others should be instructive about the extent of selfish, self-centered public attitudes. There is also a great deal of ignorance of how the legislative process works and that wide-sweeping legislation that steps on major interests such as fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals and additionally extends the social safety net for which so many have no sympathy. An understanding of costs spread over x years needs better messaging. That taxing the rich seems to be an approach that has widespread traction, but the question is whether how much money is needed to fund the provisions. This.is more of an inside ball game being played among the progressives and the moderates, leaving the rest of us wondering what provisions will be cut and if so, which.


Joe Manchin’s reconciliation memo: What to know - The Washington Post



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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

How many new cases of COVID go un reported? Data we may never know

 https://www.gpb.org/.../kicked-in-the-ribs-harassed-at...

From Georgia to Texas, stories like this are reported. So many are those stories reported on the internet, that they illustrate how extreme are those in such extreme denial, they take it out on health care workers who inform them of their diagnosis. Even a couple I know who are anti-vaxxers were exposed to COVID and simultaneously came down within few days with symptoms themselves. This was less than a week after being exposed to someone in our family who was just beginning with symptoms and later did test positive. All three had more than moderate illness. The couple is still insisting they did not have COVID' They just had "pneumonia". and the slow recovery was just because they in their mid-'60s were just getting old. I wonder how many others they infected while they came down and recovered from the "pneumonia". Seriously, those that get more than a light case have "pneumonia:". Ignorance and denial are hard to fathom. Bad cases of COVID are pneumonia...not caused by bacteria ...or by a common cold gone bad...bur by the COVID virus...That is what COVID is if it progresses. Fortunately, the couple did recover and never had to call 911, but I guess they will never take an antibody test because it might reveal they were wrong. Ignorance is bliss, for the deniers and a danger to the rest of us. This couple will never be recorded as a new COVID case in their home state's data. Those they infect and get tested will become a statistic.. To understand the symptoms and when you need to seek help, go to https://www.cdc.gov/.../symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Reproduced from that CDC page, if it did not link:

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Heads up, Democrats. Your case for democracy needs some help.

  Heads up, Democrats. Your case for democracy needs some helpDonald Trump is now positioning himself to try for a second term in 2024.   Democrats are asleep at the wheel if they assume naturally they will win because they support our traditional democracy and Trump is a wannabe autocrat.  Recent polls should be a wake-up alarm.  Republicans are far more passionate about believing democracy is under attack than Democrats.  . The question that should be put to voters in 2022 and 2024 is "in what kind of a country do we want to live in the future? Is it the democracy as we have known it or an autocracy?"  If Democrats make a strong case for democracy that contrasts the damage autocracies do to the freedom of voters to get their voices heard, the response should be clearly "democracy we have known". The follow-up response then would be " to vote the Trumpists out". However, making a strong case for Democrats' kind of democracy is still a work in progress and is not a done deal. The two political parties do not live on the same planet because democracy means different things to different partisans.  Simply calling Trumpists fascists or autocrat lovers meant as slurs is not enough. Simply shouting we are the ones for true democracy by and for the people and the other side is not is also not enough.  The astute  Trump opponents fear Trump wants to turn  US democracy into an autocracy, a fascist. who wants to keep opponents from voting by any means. Trump's supporters see Trump as a defender of democracy protecting us from voter fraud with "voter integrity laws".  What we will be facing in 2022 and 2024 is which ones of these views of democracy wins out.  Even more dire a question is" do we want to give  forces of autocracy more time and ability to consolidate their  power ?"

Truimpsters respond that liberals are trying to turn the US into a socialist state with the Biden agenda and socialism means the end of democracy. 

I was asked on another site via a meme by a Trumpster, if socialism is so great, why did not the central American migrants go to Venezuela? Here is my answer: Because dictatorships come in all ideologies,, fascism to communism, and stops in between. They are by their nature corrupt, favoring cronies or demographics who put them in office and will keep them there. If you are not one of "them", you have no rights or ability to keep them in check, or peacefully overturn them. They are not a government based on ability but based on the whims of one ruler. That is why you hear liberals calling Trump a wannabe dictator and an autocrat. Some call him a fascist because dictatorships in cahoots with big capitalism is the definition of fascism. So far as Venezuela is concerned, and to a lesser extent, Russia, both countries used oil revenue money to buy the favor of the group that would support them. ..When the price of oil crashed, so did their ability to bring the same continued prosperity to the groups that supported them. In Russia's case, Putin is not threatened by the middle class he favored, but because absolute power corrupts absolutely his villas and self-financial dealing and the oligarchs who enable him have created an opposition using whatever few democratic tools they had left...It sometimes takes years for demagogues to become dictators, but suppression of opposition via abusing democratic institutions is more likely in current history than the old way of military coups and revolution. The problem is dictators can come to power and slowly suppress opponents so that when they realize what has happened, it is too late for the people to act. Even those wannabe dictators who truly think they are the best thing that happened to their country begin to enjoy the power, privilege, and monetary rewards, and then they do even more to suppress any opposition. That includes total control of media so that opposition messages cannot get exposure, throwing opposition leaders into jail on some pretext, controlling the mechanisms of voting, using threats of force and using the military to crack down on domestic opponents, stacking the judiciary with cronies, and turning the legislature into a bunch of yes nodding heads, using those tactics.

A mid-September poll should be a warning to Democrats .. .CNN Poll: Most Americans feel democracy is under attack in the US - CNNPolitics   75 % of Republicans say democracy is under attack, compared with 46% of Democrats....  .   Among Republicans, 78% say that Biden did not win and 54% believe there is solid evidence of that, despite the fact that no such evidence exists.".Even the recent fiasco in the "Arizona forensic audit" conducted by their own GOP contracted Cyber Ninjas concluded that Biden won. That has not changed Trump's rhetoric to his devoted rally attendees immediately after the story was reported pointing to" what about" and " what ifs" while, counting on the ignorance of their supporters of the election systems and safeguards already in force.to believe him.  Republicans still claim they are the ones who protect traditional democracy from cheaters now and in the future and the Democrats are the ones stealing it. Even if the elections system "ain't broke", they still want to fix it to their advantage. The good news in that CNN poll is that when  Americans as a whole are polled, only " 36% of Americans say that President Joe Biden did not legitimately get enough votes to win the presidency. That 36% includes 23% who falsely say there is solid evidence that Biden did not win and 13% who say that is their suspicion only.".36% is a minority view, but it is a large minority and the battle is not over. The minority of the popular vote still can win control over the majority voters depending on which state the vote is close.  Current forecasts are that Republicans will win back their majorities in Congress in 2022 and that Trump will still be the leading GOP candidate in 2024. Democrats need to do more than just win; they need to win big. It still takes more than simple majority wins of popular votes by Democrats in close elections to offset the success GOP-dominated state legislatures have had in gerrymandering House districts to their advantage and discouraging the other side from voting. The Senate is already 50-50, and one race could tilt the balance one way or the other. 

When Democrats hail democracy and Republicans fear for democracy's vote integrity, they are not even talking about the same reality. Reality is shaped by demagogues, lies,  media, and individual experiences. . The problem is explaining this difference in the practice of democracy in terms of life experiences instead of abstract concepts. Autocracy and fascism are political science kinds of words, easier to pronounce than concepts to grasp or explain in a battle of persuasion of independents, who can swing elections. Fascism is used more of an insult, but it is a dictatorship with capitalists as their partners and supporters, instead of communists. Its history with Hitler evokes emotions,, but being called a Nazi is still unnecessarily inflammatory, even if the shoe fits.

The challenge to Democrats then is to put their views of democracy in the context of something meaningful to those who are not hardcore Trumpists  Perhaps one approach is "   Your vote may not even count because the  GOP is now in the hands of Trumpists who are making it hard for you to vote and be counted, especially if you are an assumed vote for the other candidate.  " For example, the laws being passed by legislatures in red states are permitting legislatures to overturn the popular voter election results. Also officials determining which votes are counted are being put in partisans' hands instead of separately elected election administrators. 

The beauty of democracy as we have known it for 250 years is that the will of the majority of people determines the direction of the country while protecting the rights of the minority views to be able to make their case to the public and win a future election. This is thanks to the observed First Amendment freedoms of peaceful assembly and media independence and derivative civil rights laws and amendments.  Putting this in more understandable popular terms, defenders could say  "Continued existence of our kind of democracy is threatened if allegiance is pledged to a ruler who is a person because they are given the power in terms in office to twist it to maintain and increase their personal power and control.". For example, those treasured protections can be circumvented by biased interpretation, appointments of loyalists,  and selective enforcement of laws .. That would be the case up and down federal, state, and local governments in legislative, executive, and judicial power centers. It is very possible to happen within the next few years unless voters stop it when they still have a chance.  As Ben Franklin has been quoted often. When exiting the Constitutional Convention, he said" We have a republic if we can keep it". We. the people, that's us, still have an opportunity to keep it by electing those who are pledged to keeping it. 

 Just promoting the value of the rule of law and an independent judiciary instead of a rule of a person needs to be put into terms of how this impacts people. For example Transitions of power to new winners had been peaceful until January 6, 2021, when even then the Constitution held in the end as the electoral count was certified. "Do you want a violent coup attempt after every election? Is that the kind of America you want?  January 6 was a close call. Do you want more of this in the future? There is no guarantee that peaceful transitions will be the situation forever. It depends who you elect to power"..

 The key to rule of the Consitution's longevity has been mutual respect by all parties to the rule of law until now. It has never been pledging loyalty to the rule of a person who determines how laws are interpreted and who enforces the law for the benefit of the ruler's loyalists. Those are the evil practices our founders had revolted against, the rule by such a tyrant. While the GOP tried to appoint enough judges they wanted to federal courts and the supreme court, even their appointees swore loyalty to the law while leaning to a more conservative ideology. They ruled in every instance that there was no evidence of the election being stolen. That independence of the judiciary is not a guarantee if both the legislative and executive branches are in the hands of a wannabe autocrat/dictator who can manipulate the provisions of existing laws and rules to replace vacancies with his loyalists he can depend on ruling as he wants.. One term in power is not enough to complete the takeover. Two terms could get an autocrat closer to there.  Is this the country we want in the future?

 The current attacks on Trump's anti-democratic tendencies have been limited to calling him an "autocrat" ..  That is far too gentle an approach, yet calling him a fascist creates its own hysteria, no matter how true it is.  Perhaps one way without getting in the weeds is to tag Trump as fear and hate rouser who wants to be a one-man ruler who tried to use the active military and judges appointments and federal prosecutors and inspiring violent actions to get his way. That sounds more like a wannabe dictator who wants another term in power to complete his agenda.   That is never what this country was about. " Our political future will not be a corrupt one favoring his cronies if he wins. Is this the country you want?"  

Biden's approach has been to make a case for democracy because it can get things done. He is demonstrating it by getting legislation passed that helps the middle class and lays the groundwork for a more prosperous future.  That is well and good since it demonstrates "he cares about me" and deflects the old "what have you done for me lately" cynical view of voters, But it is also backhandedly admitting that "autocracies" can also get it done, if not for everyone, but at least for their loyal supporters.  That is not enough of a plea to support the kind of democracy we have had for the past 250 years. Trump has always believed that the greater motivation in politics is "fear".  Democrats need to throw that back at him ...that "more of him will lead to chaos and conflict, and the loss of popular will expressed in a ballot box with his big lies and restrictive rights for those who oppose him.  Is this the kind of America we want for our future?"  There will always be those who are radical and fanatical enough to answer "yes, bring it on".  The task for those who want to keep the form of democracy we have had for 250 years is to keep them an even smaller minority of the electorate.