Thursday, July 29, 2021

On Biles taking a mental health break: Critics, hold your flapping tongues' updated 9/15/21

Update 9 15 21 Simone Biles condemns U.S. Olympic Committee, FBI for sex-abuse crisis | Reuters

Update 8/3/21

Simone Biles Makes A Triumphant Olympic Return And Takes Bronze On Balance Beam : Live Updates: The Tokyo Olympics : NPR


ON BILES TAKING A MENTAL HEALTH BREAK:   Critics, hold your flapping tongues (and my flirtation with an Olympic sport)  I am amused at all the armchair talking heads criticizing Simone Biles for dropping out of certain events in the Olympics.  I more than sympathize with Bile's decision. It is so much easier to be a critic who has never been in that situation. Maybe she needs to reprogram her muscle memory or maybe she needs to get control of her head. Maybe this is temporary or maybe it is permanent and she hangs up her spurs. So critics, get off your high horses and hold your flapping tongues. Her dropping out in certain events cleared the way for her teammate to win gold and a new star was born. For those who feared that the US gymnastics was doomed with Biles's withdrawal, the gold medal all-around was won by Sunisa Lee, Biles' teammate. . A new star is born...and the first Asian American made history with winning her gold. Sunisa Lee wins and becomes Team USA's new gymnastics star - YouTube Biles cheered Suni Lee from the sidelines showing her generous spirit and sportsmanship. That is what a real champion personifies. Another US team member was able to medal since the Biles withdrawal gave her a chance she could ever have dreamed about. How a message from Simone Biles helped MyKayla Skinner win her silver medal (yahoo.com)   Biles'  team spirit can only be lauded even more.     .Biles is the recognized greatest gymnast in the history of the US and the world.. She does not need more medals. She knew herself and she had to fight some demons to continue to do her best. She knew she was not meeting her own high standards or what the world expected of her. She took a mental health break, and in her sport, mental health is as important as physical ability and fitness. A missed landing could be more than just a deduction; it could be a career-ending injury. She still will compete in balance beam.

So much of success in high-risk sports dependent on individual performance is indeed mental focus. Putting aside doubts and fears of injury is key to taking risks. The minute your head is not on right, your choice is to quit or push through

.For about 20 years I trained as much as two times a week in the equestrian sport. dressage. Dressage is an Olympic sport, and it is most familiar to many as practiced by the famous white stallions of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. I knew I would never be anywhere near the level needed to go very far, so for me, it was a labor of love and bettering my own skills. The US got silver in team dressage in Tokyo, the first since 1948, and were near perfect and an inspiration to those who participate in "my sport".

In addition, the partner is a horse. Horses do unexpected things. Flight is their overwhelming reaction to fear and pain. Fearful riders can pass on their fears to their mounts who in turn think there is something to fear and react to it. Having the right horse with the physical ability to do what some have called horse ballet and the right temperament is critical to success in competition. Like pairs skating, the partner's talent is equally key.
I do get the seriousness of focus on each movement, because dressage is much like figure skating and gymnastics and scored per movement in competition, and is dependent on an individual's performance. It is not a team sport and self-blame for a failure cannot be placed on a missed field goal or the wrong play call. I am not sure I always succeeded, but when fear of injury ruled my head, I put myself in greater danger because horses were my partner and sense it and react. Muscle memory alone is not enough, or another way to say it, keep your head clear so muscle memory can work or rewire.
So, at age 70, I quit and never rode again. Fear of a future of slow healing orthopedic injuries in old age took over. Some would call this a victory of good sense. I had escaped serious injury, though I was thrown off many times, had a few broken bones, having ridden since I was 4 years old.

Needless to say, I was following "my sport" in the Tokyo Olympics. The USA scored a silver medal in team dressage, the best showing in that event since 1948, and also garnered a silver in individual dressage.
https://www.usef.org/media/press-releases/us-dressage-team-earns-silver-medal-in-fei
US rider Steffen Peters brought home the silver individual medal in dressage, too. https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/carmel-valley-steffen-peters-brings-silver-home-in-dressage-making-him Germans dominate the sport with their German-bred horses. Two of the 3 US team members are US citizen immigrants from Germany. Here is what won us the silver. U.S. team rides to best dressage finish in 73 years | Tokyo Olympics | NBC Sports - YouTube
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2V87VPzgQg

Monday, July 19, 2021

Question: Why has Covid vaccination become so political?


 Question: Why has Covid vaccination become so political?  The back and forth, the accusations that the right-wing media spreads false information, or social media is irresponsible, or is "killing people", or if you get it, you will get sick or die...is a messaging problem and both political spectrums have grabbed it for their advantage. The result of this politicization is a close relationship in the lowest  Covid vaccination rates to areas that voted for Trump in 2020.  COVID vaccination rates are closely correlated to presidential election results (denverpost.com)  However, what I suspect is at fault as much as anything is that Biden and Democrats have made it their goal to reach 70% and the self-interested right-wing media is bent on making Biden look like a failure by not reaching it. If the goal is to reach the end of the virus and go on with our lives, it needs to be made that clear that the virus is the enemy. The purpose of getting people vaccinated is not to make Biden look good, but to kill the virus. 

The only way that can happen is if there is no place for this aggressive and opportunist bug to go and is unable to multiply itself, so it just dies off..  There are three ways that can happen.1. kill enough people 2. enough people get sick, survive, and therefore get immunity, or 3.  for enough people to get vaccinated.   Scientists believe if we get 70% vaccinated and enough have, in addition, survived an infection to live, the virus will die off.  It is not a political goal; it is a strategy to kill the virus.  That is a message all but the science-denying know-nothings and the willful; ignorant could understand.    Put another way, herd immunity, if achieved, will kill the virus. Take your choice of how we achieve it. Now, the national average for being fully vaccinated (both shots pulse two weeks) is 50%. What is known is that those hospitalized and who die in this recent localized resurgence are almost entirely those who were not vaccinated.  Covid case, death and hospitalization rates on the rise again for the unvaccinated - Washington Post

The corollary to that argument is that the hardest way to become immune is to have the virus and not die. The easiest is to get vaccinated.  If losing work or being afraid of a reaction for a day, , there is no worse reaction to the virus than getting sick from it and losing weeks recovering, assuming you do not die.  , 

There is a mechanism to keep misleading and ani anti-covidvaxxers in check.  It is not the government. It is the fear of being sued by those who took such advice and got sick or had family members who died. A class-action suit may also be a possibility. Civil suits can either result in cease and desist orders or in a settlement payment. Nothing talks louder than money.   July 19 FOX talk show hosts except for Tucker Carlson changed their tune and began advocating getting vaccinated.  Even then, the truly Trump cult members exploded claiming by meme "you can't force us to take vaccines."  Government cannot force anyone, though they can certainly put public pressure to convince and encourage holdouts to get vaccinated.  My answer to the Trumper sponsored meme against being forced to get the shots:

No one is forcing you to have a vaccine. You are free to be as irresponsible to your own health and others as you wish. Perhaps you will not be vulnerable to a civil lawsuit or a class action suit by those who took their medical advice from a talk show host. The rest of FOX saw their vulnerability.  https://www.businessinsider.com/tucker-carlson-continues...

Update August 26, 2021: What full FDA approval means for Covid-19 vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson - Vox

Coronavirus: What is the R number and how is it calculated? - BBC News

Covid-19: National and Subnational estimates for the United States of America (epiforecasts.io)

 The criteria for coming up with those who died due to covid is subject to certain federal criteria, particularly if it is based on death certificates. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/covid-19.htm... All indicators are up in certain areas of the country. Depending on one was to measure and then cherry-pick is not enough. The other indicator is how many seek help in the hospital with covid and test positive and how many died to were not unvaccinated. (about 99%) Right now, ground zero is about 4 states and then selected counties Mesa. Another criteria are just your own knowledge of those who got sick with covid symptoms (and may or not have a covid test). That alarm is what is getting attention, among those in Missouri. Another is a correlation of areas to vaccination rates..and one thing is sure, those with the lowest vaccination rates have more overwhelmed hospital beds and ventilators and staff. One of the strange things for Grand County is that we appear to have few deaths. The reason is due to our limited hospital beds, patients who are very sick are transported to Denver. If they die, they are reported in Denver statistics. This is why other statistics are included such as positive tests (but many died before reliable tests were in wide use} so another set of data is also cited: excess deaths. In the mega data world, we know how many died for any reason on average. When that is exceeded, then the excess death rate is increased in time of covid. .Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19 (cdc.gov)   Excess Mortality Among Patients Hospitalized During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Journal of Hospital Medicine

Some interesting statistics are buried in this article. Democrats are much more likely to be vaccinated than Republicans. With much of the conservative media doing an about-face on their once disdain for vaccinations, and more and more find out they had been foxated and fooled, will there be an about-face in their listeners and readers, too?. It may be a slow realization that this was no hoax as their own families, friends, and co-workers report what it was like to be sick and survive and learn that 99% of deaths were those who were unvaccinated, so the dawning probably will stretch over months. Whether this sadder but wiser personal knowledge will also blowback on the credibility of the media they watch and have considered their gospel truth is also yet to be seen.. From the article: "vaccinations in counties that voted for Donald Trump lagged behind those in counties that voted for Joe Biden, and the gap has only widened — from 2 percentage points in April to nearly 12 points now, according to one recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.....
Nationwide, 86% of Democrats have had at least one shot, compared with 52% of Republicans, according to another poll"
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Sunday, July 18, 2021

Beware of simplistic memes mixing , dictatorships, and fascism with economic systems

Beware of simplistic memes mixing, dictatorships, and fascism with economic systems  While doing it makes for scare raising talking points,   it is not so simple.  One economic system does not automatically lead to a  certain method of governing. Europe already has social programs more extensive than even what Biden is contemplating, yet they are still democratic and are not like Cuba or Venezuela. How'd that happen?  In the US some consider such extensive government-funded social and education services in Europe as a way out far left, calling them dreaded communism or socialism and the fear they invoke is fueling their opposition to Biden's human infrastructure program.  

. Soviet-style communism and south of our border socialist as in Cuba or Venezuela, are a form of governance that is ruled by one person or a political party, Autocracy, dictatorship and fascism do not have to have a socialist economic system to occur.. One economic system does not automatically lead to communism or socialism or for that matter, fascism. Fascism is based on oligarch-run and/or government sanctioned capitalism and like both communism or extreme socialist governments it, represses their people, allowing no dissent, ruling by fear or force or control of media and their message. That kind of repressive government may promise populist social programs or may or may not and their downfall is when they fail to deliver or lose a war. We are far more in danger in the US in falling into fascism, rule by a strong man, or one ideological political party that promises to repress those their members fear or do not like. With fascism, citizens can get the worst of both worlds, with few social programs and repression. 

 Having close family ties in Europe and the US, there is some truth to this meme when you look at the vast array of political parties representing fragmented opinions. Even if you look at the Biden human infrastructure proposals, they do not reach the extent of government programs in Western Europe. European national health truly provides free services or low-cost ones to everyone, regardless of income and higher education is available to all at a fraction of the cost to students,, without the need to carry a lifetime of debt. Seeing homeless camping out in urban areas is rare in Western Europe, but a shame here because we do not provide enough services or affordable housing. Taxation to pay for these programs can be steeply progressive putting a higher burden on the rich. Their taxation is also regressive with a vat tax, which is not only like a national sales tax, but there is a vat tax levied at various stages of the supply chain. Everyone pays that vat tax either hidden in the retail price and tacked at the retail level regardless of income, whenever they buy any goods. Attempts for European socialists to nationalize ownership of major industries have mostly failed and are not part of their centrist agenda. Europe's private sector is still robust. In Europe, that is where the center lies and if the extreme left or right tries to change that, they will not get far.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Why General Milley is emerging as a hero who saved democracy, updated in 2021 and, 2022


Update 5/6/22:   As the January 6 committee finalizes its report, one of the most explosive findings would be public testimony of verification of Trump attempting to plan and execute a coup using what he thought was his command of the US military.  The role of Gen. Mark Milley in thwarting that attempt was key if that is what the Jan.6 committee finds and presents witnesses in planned June 6 public hearings. Books are not enough to sway public opinion.. Sworn testimony by witnesses in public hearings attesting to this could be  political dynamite .  Gen. Milley is not the only hero defending democracy in this drama of Trump's attempt to stage a military coup  or to abuse his power as commander in chief throughout his time in the White House. . Esper book details Trump rage at Pence and proposal to hit Mexico with missiles | Donald Trump | The Guardian   Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense had restrained Trump from abusing the military several times ..  Trump once asked  Esper if the military could shoot demonstrators in the legs, for example..  In the history of violent coups, the military is usually the one who commits one. In 2020-2021, in the US, the military may have saved democracy.  Esper was replaced with Trump's yes men near January 6 and it is believed by some this was part of Trump's coup plans. What Trump failed to accept, was that both Esper and Milley took their oath office to defend the Constitution, not the person sitting in the oval office.  Trump then tried to replace the civilian leadership at the Pentagon that was loyal to him, not to the Constitution.  

Uda;ted 9/15/21 Bob Woodward's and Bob Consta's newest book reports that Milley feared that TruItmp might start a war after the election and around January 6 as a way to stay in power and General Milley took measures. 'Peril,' by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, reports Gen. Mark A. Milley called a Chinese general twice to pledge the U.S. wouldn’t strike - The Washington Post          

In response, some in the GOP call Milley's action treason and call on Biden to fire him.  Mark Milley Accused of Treason As Republicans Urge Joe Biden to Fire Him (newsweek.com   That Milley said he would call the Chinese in advance if the US would strike caused the right-wing media to hyperventilate and Biden foes to call what Milley did was treason.  No, what Milley did was to prevent a misreading of January 6 by the Chinese that there was a real coup happening and that Trump would try to divert public attention from the failure by starting a war.

 Updated 9/20/21 Milley had intelligence reports that the Chinese were preparing for war against them because of some US military exercises in the South China Sea area and Trump's belligerent recent remarks regarding China. Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Defends His Call To A Chinese General : NPR

 Why would the Chinese even think that? Because that is what happens in most countries in the world when a coup fails and the leader in charge fails to stay in power via a violent act.,he rallies the country to back him in a war he initiates.  This is the wag the dog scenario. The Chinese considered Trump unstable enough to try it. What the Chinese did not understand because they are not a democracy, is that the institutions in a democracy that are strongly established as ours is, can stop violent coups and rogue presidents, as it did.  Milley had the task and the ability to reassure the Chinese he would give them a heads up, and hope the Chinese would not conduct a pre-emptive strike themselves.. If there were not two nuclear powers involved with the ability to destroy civilization, the issue would have been serious enough, which, but there was far more at stake... accidental self-destruction by nuclear war.   Woodward/Costa book: Worried Trump could 'go rogue,' Milley took secret action to protect nuclear weapons - CNNPolitics

.  When a president like Trump is viewed by our adversaries as an unstable madman doing all he can do to stay in power,  such misreadings can happen with dire results, and Milley did what he could do to minimize the danger. He made a promise he never believed he would have to keep: to give the Chinese a heads up if Trump gave the order..  It was his way of saying the US would not strike and putting the Chinese at more ease who were in danger of a serious misunderstanding. In fact, Milley himself feared Trump was unstable per the Woodward//Costa book.   Milley never had to act on his words. However, to make sure Trump's flunkies he had just put in key positions in the Defense agencies, Milley then called in the top brass and reviewed the Constitutional and laws governing the pulling of the nuclear trigger that would keep him in the loop.   In all cases, Milley's acts adhered to the law and the Constitution to which he had sworn to defend.  To avoid being insubordinate, reports are the generals would resign rather than execute orders Trump would issue to keep himself in power regardless of the vote of the people and the electoral count certification.  

First posted 7/15/21 follows: 

 There is good reason to believe that Milley is the hero who saved democracy. Milley remembered his sworn oath to defend the Consitution. The oath he took was not to defend the president whoever it was.   It was those with loyalty to Trump the person who were attempting to overthrow the outcome of the popular and electoral college votes to keep him as president for a second term  These same are still perpetuating the lie that there was such fraud in the 2020 election that such violation of the democratic process was justified even though they could not produce evidence that the election was stolen when testifying in 60 courts under oath.  Those who accuse Milley of treason, who voted to decertify the election on the night of January 6,.  and who gave moral support to the violent rioters of January 6 who intended to terrify Contresspeople with threats of bodily harm into voting against certification need, to look in their mirrors. Other reports have emerged that in order to avoid an outright subordination to a commander in chief should Trump indeed \refuse to leave office, they would resign one by one.   Top generals planned to resign en masse if Trump refused to leave office: reports (militarytimes.com)  

Below are an update of a July 15, 2021, and a November 12,  2020 posting...and a series of blog postings beginning mid-2020 during the George Floyd protest period that tracked Gen. Milley's public pronouncements

.  Woodward and Costa's book only fortifies my belief in mid-2020 that a military coup would not happen thanks to Milley's adherence to the Constitution/. Even before the November 2020 elections fears had been expressed then that Trump would attempt a coup, using the civil unrest as an excuse to bring in the active military to put it down for political gain.    I had followed Milley's public statements looking for clues of where he stood in 2020 and posted them, duplicated below.

This is an update of a November 12 posting that explains why Pentagon generals were making public statements about the proper role of the military in our democracy and why they would not participate in an insurrection even in advance of the election.  Now, with the publication of books about the last days of Trump's presidency, we have a clearer picture of the role General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  played in stopping what he feared was going to be an attempted coup by Trump if he lost the election.  Not only did Trump fail to enlist the military to be part of an insurrection, many thanks to Gen. Milley,  he lost every case in court in an attempt to overturn the election.  January 6  should not have been a surprise.

A couple of books published in July 2021 by respected reporters tell about the last months of Trump's time in office.  One, in particular, recounts Milley's role at that time.."I alone can fix it",. The new book reveals what was going on in the Pentagon as generals feared a coup after November 2021 General Milley is emerging as a hero who saw a repeat of a Nazi-style takeover and who saved democracy.

Many of these books published in July 2021 have attributions but also they quote unnamed sources. It will be interesting to see how many witnesses will appear before the special select committee of the House holding hearings beginning the end of July and swear to tell the truth. That will be the value of the House hearings. We can expect complaints that this is a partisan group holding the hearings with control over subpoenas. True, but the Republicans refused to support a bipartisan commission with both political parties able to issue subpoenas. That was their choice and strategy. The GOP members appointed by the GOP leadership will have to resort to table-thumping, hostile cross-examinations to register their objections. Perhaps the bi-partisan commission will be revised, yet. Brace yourself for a lot of Sturm und Drang.

New book shows top US generals planned ways to stop Trump in case of coup - YouTube 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ_cUbiYdfM

https://www.wsj.com/articles/inside-donald-trumps-last-days-in-the-white-house-and-plans-for-a-comeback-11625759920

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/12/books/review/michael-wolff-landslide-trump.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/15/mark-milley-feared-coup-after-trump-lost-to-biden-book.html

This explains why beginning in Nov. 2020 the Pentagon issued statements regarding Trump's intent to use the military to keep power.  Trump's attempted to seize control of the military by replacing as many in the Pentagon he could with political loyalists.  January 6 could be seen as an attempted coup by the nonmilitary. That one also failed.  Democracy prevailed.

The question remains did Trump plan to have the January 6 rally attendees turn violent.  The Leonig/Rucker book reports that Trump first reveled in the mobs' Maga hats and Trump banners, but when it turned violent, he muttered "Oh Crap".  However he did nothing to stop the violence after that for hours and even then it was I love you, go home message. That he inspired the violence is the least of his role, but so far there is no evidence that he organized the violence-ready terrorists to turn up January 6. . That he lied about the outcome of the election and he was irresponsible and reckless in his words is more obvious.

 Below: my posts during the fall 2020 period regarding public statements from Gen. Milley, as it appeared to me to indicate a break with Trump on the use of the military in domestic political demonstrations.   Even then, questions emerged which can be answered by these recent books.about what was going on behind the scenes in the White House and Oval Office at the same time.  

__________________________________________________________________________________Why did Trump purge civilian leadership at the Pentagon? Updated July 2021 The heroism of Gen. Milley



Why did Trump purge civilian leadership at the Pentagon? There is a great deal of speculation about why Trump did that. The most disturbing was the speculation that Trump fired Esper because he intended to use the active military to put down demonstrations against him post-election... calling it an "insurrection".

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-pentagon-trump/after-esper-firing-white-house-moves-trump-loyalists-into-key-pentagon-jobs-idUSKBN27Q3F6

My observation: Joint Chiefs, in the wake of this summer's demonstration from Lafayette Square to those on the west coast, had made it clear they would not intervene in domestic political affairs. https://www.axios.com/milley-military-election-trump-biden-7b448425-07c0-4c43-b03b-96ba8d741f84.html :


Later October 11, https://www.npr.org/transcripts/922827554

Per Gen. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs:"“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,” Milley said in written responses to questions from two Democratic members of the House Armed Services Committee, according to AP.
  • “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S armed forces in this process.”
  • When asked whether the armed forces would reject a presidential order to use military force for political gain, Milley said, “I will not follow an unlawful order.”

The big picture: This marks the second time that Milley has recently stressed the nonpartisan nature of the U.S. military.

  • He apologized in June for attending Trump's photo op at St. John's Episcopal Church, saying, "I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military VWell, I've reminded people of that for years, you know, for four years as the chief of staff of the Army and in many years before that during reenlistment ceremonies, promotion ceremonies. I always talk about the Constitution and its importance to us as a military in that we - of all the countries in the world, I think that we are the only one - or at least one of the very few - that swears an oath of allegiance to an idea that's embedded in a document called the U.S. Constitution. We don't swear an oath of allegiance to an individual, a king, a queen, a president or anything else ....We don't swear an oath of allegiance to a country, for that matter. We don't swear an oath of allegiance to a flag, a tribe or religion or any of that. We swear an oath to an idea or a set of ideas and values that are embedded in our Constitution. And we, the U.S. military, are willing to die for - to preserve those ideas and values. And we're willing to die in order to preserve them and pass them onto the next generation. So - and they're all in the Constitution. They're all fundamental to the Constitution."
  • October 11, 2020, interview on NPR  https://www.npr.org/transcripts/922827554 ""This isn't the first time that someone has suggested that there might be a contested election," Milley said. "And if there is, it'll be handled appropriately by the courts and by the U.S. Congress. There's no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election. Zero. There is no role there."
That Joint Chief declarations also is relevant to the question of whether Trump could stage a coup. Answer: No so long as Gen. Milley has a say.. In the next 70 days, this aspiring autocrat of a President is taking revenge on the disloyal and may even try to start a war against Iran (for intervening against him in the elections), though I cannot imagine a Pentagon able to make such preparations for such an attack on such short notice, except for a bombing run. Removal of troops from Afghanistan is more likely, those our allies there say it would be turning the country over to the Taliban. https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/10/08/taliban-cheer-trump-tweet-promising-early-us-troop-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/ That he as put incompetent and Muslimphobes in key positions in the civilian control positions of the military is unnerving if any of this is on his agenda. The most benign reason might be incriminating document destruction.

The "insurrection" rationale depends upon whether Trump believes he is the state and demonstrations against him is an insurrection. The oath of office military take is allegiance to the Consitution and they do not have to obey illegal orders. From my Sept. 8 blog post: Can the president invoke the insurrection act to force the active military to put down post-election demonstrations? President Trump recently called for that. This apprentice dictator had better be able to tell the difference between protest riots and insurrection because the difference is already established case law. If he has fantasies of a military coup to keep him in office, he may be asking the military to commit an illegal act to overturn a constituted government. Ironically,  what is possible is that the insurrection act could be applied to organized militias and established right-wing terrorist groups who would foment violence if Donald Trump lost and tried to stage a "coup".  That would turn supporters of right-wing advocates calling for insurrection on its head, making them vulnerable to being charged with insurrection instead of left-wing demonstrators. Advocates of invoking the insurrection act ought to be careful what they wish. Riots and peaceful protests are not the same as acts of insurrections that could justify active military intervention per https://definitions.uslegal.com / "insurrection refers to an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government. It is a violent revolt against an oppressive authority. Insurrection is different from riots and offenses connected with mob violence. In insurrection, there is an organized and armed uprising against authority or operations of government whereas riots and offenses connected with mob violence are simply unlawful acts in disturbance of the peace which do not threaten the stability of the government or the existence of political society. The following is a case law defining Insurrection: Insurrection means “a violent uprising by a group or movement acting for the specific purpose of overthrowing the constituted government and seizing its powers. An insurrection occurs where a movement acts to overthrow the constituted government and to take possession of its inherent powers.” [Younis Bros. & Co. v. Cigna Worldwide Ins. Co., 899 F. Supp. 1385, 1392-1393 (E.D. Pa. 1995)]" I note proven or unproven claims of voter fraud are not cited as a justification for an insurrection in the definition. 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Getting ready for 2022. Democrats' challenges and opportunities.

 The midterms in November 2022, could decide whether the Democratic party increases its margins in Congress or the GOP becomes more obstructionist than it is now as it seizes control of the House. The margins are so razor-thin, a few changes could swing it one way or another. Here are some of my words of political wisdom after 75 years of participation, academic and hands-on,  and observation on and in the school of political hard knocks.  

. Gerrymandering at the local and state levels can predetermine much of the outcome since independents and the less frequent voters usually vote in smaller numbers in non-presidential election years, given hard-line party loyalists an advantage. This makes gerrymandering of extreme one-party dominated legislative districts an even more important factor in determining the House balance.  This presents a particularly greater challenge to Democrats in maintaining control of the House. The GOP may also have laid a trap for themselves with candidates and incumbents going on record with unpopular platforms and political allegiances.. 

The best weapon Democrats have is their backing and advocating very popular public policy issues that help improve the lives of the bulk of Americans.  GOP leaders in Congress have taken the political calculation that "just saying no" to any of the Biden-supported policies will help them win in November.  They have punished any collaborators with the Democrats with threats to challenge them in primaries and in removing them from power in their own House...losing their choice committee assignments.  This will also ensure that the most extreme Trump loyalists will be winners in their primaries who are less electable in a head-to-head matchup with Democrats in their general elections.  Democrats can paint them as extremists or Trump fanatics in districts where Trump is more unpopular than the GOP in general.  On record are GOP incumbents who voted against 2020 election certification or opposed the bi-partisan commission to investigate January 6 riots.  This could be a litmus test of how extremely Trumpist such and such a candidate is.

 This GOP "just say no" strategy gives Democrats an opportunity in swing districts to follow the old political truism that all elections are local. Just a general national boilerplate ad on behalf of a legislative district candidate misses an opportunity. Just campaigning on a platform that the GOP is against democracy is a talking point, but voters tend to be more interested in what affects their lives now, not in political science.  The exception is those who fear socialism the word without nuances or definition. . Yet many of those professing that fear also support individual Biden social assistance details of his human infrastructure bill contents. If the past four years of Trump demonstrated, even GOP loyalists cared little about debt and deficits.  Raising taxes on the rich polls well, but it is a nonstarter if it raises taxes on the rest of us.    One of the key polling indicators projecting a winner is "does my legislator care about me". Those who constitute cores of either party are not usually motivated to vote by public policy issues alone as the GOP has realized and so ably exploited in what we are calling the cultural wars. For the hard-core-based voters, issues become excuses and markers of cult and culture identity. The focus of issue-based advertising and strategy is better suited to swing districts  

  Democratic party advertising and campaign strategy attacking  GOP opponents with carefully targeted messages of local interests could be very effective...  For example," your GOP incumbent (or the platform of a challenger to an incumbent) voted, or would have voted against that dangerous bridge repair you hoped for", or that the GOP candidate "voted against relief in child care costs" or other popular proposals for that district. This strategy would be especially effective against incumbents whose votes on issues are a matter of official and public record. In states that have just made it extra hard to vote because of their suppression legislation, ads could be run to remind even those who do not identify with racial minorities that their local state representative" voted to make it more inconvenient for you to vote." (Recent polls show voters prefer access to voting over fraud concerns) This locally targeted approach could be used up and down the ballot targeted for specific Congressional districts and local state legislative races. Careful targeting of a few issues of particular concern to voters in a district could also be just as effective as a long laundry list of travesties, depending on the district. Linking issues with district demographics or polling could help with targeting and strategizing.

This recent ad is an example of what I mean in targeting local and Congressional races: : https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/new-campaign-ad-hits-wisconsin-sen-ron-johnson-peaceful-jan-n1274257

Public attitudes are always shifting and fickle, influenced by money, propaganda, and media as well as self-interest,  but my favorite source remains Politics & Policy - Research and data from the Pew Research Center

https://news.yahoo.com/gops-main-voter-bloc-shrinking-153954578.html "new deep dive into the 2020 electorate by Pew Research contain mostly bad news for Republicans, whose approaching demographic dooms less racial than it is generational. While it shouldn't be news to anyone at this point that young voters are a solidly blue voting bloc, the more worrisome developments for the GOP are the unexpectedly elderly nature of the party's coalition and the unyielding Democratic lean of younger voters as they age. If Pew's numbers are to be believed, the only solidly Republican age demographic last year was 75 and over, meaning that every time the sun comes up, the GOP's struggle to win a majority of American voters gets harder."   

On the flip side, Democrats show a gain and the gap between those registered as Republicans v Democrats show a gain for Democrats the most since 2012.  Democrats nationwide have unusually shown an advantage in registration, but this is a significant widening of the gap in the Democrats' favor. Gallup poll shows large increase in Democratic Party affiliation (usatoday.com)


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

It's the demographics: bad news for the GOP

Not only is the country's racial demographics changing, the younger voters are more progressive and they are more active than before. A recently released analysis of the 2020 election confirms this as well.
https://news.yahoo.com/gops-main-voter-bloc-shrinking-153954578.html "new deep dive into the 2020 electorate by Pew Research contain mostly bad news for Republicans, whose approaching demographic dooms less racial than it is generational. While it shouldn't be news to anyone at this point that young voters are a solidly blue voting bloc, the more worrisome developments for the GOP are the unexpectedly elderly nature of the party's coalition and the unyielding Democratic lean of younger voters as they age. If Pew's numbers are to be believed, the only solidly Republican age demographic last year was 75 and over, meaning that every time the sun comes up, the GOP's struggle to win a majority of American voters gets harder."   
That last sentence is particularly interesting.  If the GOP's most solid voter block is over 75, the more the GOP makes it harder to vote by mail, the more that block's ability to vote is suppressed.  In fact, many of the vote-by-mail movements were begun by the GOP in order to maximize votes from their loyal seniors.  Now they are busy reversing that method. 

From an article on The Hill:
"younger voters are getting more comfortable casting their ballots: Among those between the ages of 30 and 39, almost half are frequent voters, up from just over a third four years ago, a sign that a generation-long dismissed for its apathy is engaging in politics more habitually. There are signs that the emerging younger electorate is likely to provide a windfall for Democratic candidates. In states where voters are allowed to register by party, 52 percent of voters 18 to 29 are registered Democrats, compared with just 35 percent who are registered, Republicans. Among 30- to 39-year-olds, the gap is even wider: 53 percent are registered Democrats, while just 34 percent are registered, Republican"

President Biden, the oldest man ever elected to the White House, won on the strength
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Some comments about whether socialism would lead to communism, down the road ...
.With a flock of relatives in Austria and Croatia who live with western European-style socialism and love it, I think calling their brand would lead to Communism is a very big laugh. Between spending portions of my life in close hand on-site observation of life under communism, one does not lead to another. What is more likely to cause communism is abject poverty and rule by well-off elites. What defines communism is dictatorship of one group oppressing another by force and prohibiting dissent. I have asked my European friends if they resented regressive vat taxes and other tax burdens...but usually, they felt what they gave to the government, what government gave them back was worth it. They got their money's worth. Those in the US may have a different view,, but those in both the US and those in western Europe felt their desires of an overwhelming majority got expressed through the ballot box. Politicians in Europe who tried to remove or restricts or reduce elements of government services did not get very far. To this day, I remember the early days of the Tea Party movement when demonstrators sincerely chanted, don't let government take my (social security or medicare) away from me, not realizing they were government programs they were so ignorant or self-delusional.

One advantage European socialism has is that most of the countries spend less of their GDP on military expenditures that the US.  It varies from country to country, but it is generally  true.


Wht is Texas a hard right state?  Demographics are bad news there, but to stave off changes, Texas GOP gets help from political gerrymandering. Partisan gerrymandering has empowered a hard-right turn in Texas (yahoo.com)