That Trump anchor

That Trump anchor is getting heavier. Republican Senate candidate are realizing the president’s decline in the polls is impacting their chances as reported in an article by Politico today called “Election forecast: Trump, Senate, GOP in trouble.”
Per the Politico article, 75% of voters think the country is going in the wrong direction as Trump’s approval ratings fall further beneath already underwater averages.

It goes on to say “President Donald Trump is now an underdog to win a second term and Republican majority in the Senate is in serious danger.” RealClear Politics, which averages poll results, reports Arizona Senator Martha McSally is behind in a close race to astronaut Mark Kelly, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis is behind in a close race to state legislator and decorated vet Cal Cunningham, and Senators Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cory Gardner (Colorado), Susan Collins (Maine) are also closely behind in their races to Theresa Greenfield, John Hickenlooper and Sara Gideon, respectively.

With his ongoing misinformation and lack of leadership on COVID-19, with his racist tendencies adding gasoline to racial injustice issues and tensions, with his ongoing corrupt tendencies to punish people who try to protect our country against his deceit and ineptness in doing his job not bothering to read or pay attention, the Trump anchor is pulling others down with him.

And, it is not going to get better. COVID-19 is getting worse in America and he is hoping it goes away. Hope is not a strategy. Although, there was some hopeful news in May and June of some of the unemployed going back to work, the economy is going to continue its malaise into 2021, as more closings occur. The last half of June started to show fall off from the first half results.

After winning in 2016 on fear and a nationalistic campaign, he is doubling down on those themes, at a time when most of the country has left him behind on the problem of racial injustice. He had support when he made a prop out of Colin Kaepernick when he knelt to the national anthem, but Trump chose not to understand the reason why Kaepernick was kneeling. The fact a Vietnam vet knelt with Kaepernick did not register. Trump is shouting in the wind, but fewer are listening.

Now, Democrats, a word of caution. Do not count the seats as won yet. You must get out on and vote. There is an old saying that if you are going to take down the King, you better take him down. As economic advisor to presidents of both parties, Robert Reich said Trump is a clear and present danger to our country and world. If he were to win, America and the planet would be in dire trouble with an uncontrolled Pandora.

A survey phone call in disguise

Every month, I receive written surveys from the Republican Party, ACLU, environmental defense group, etc. that look very familiar. The surveys are the same each time, accompanied by an introductory letter telling me how I should answer the questions. But, the biggest tells are at the bottom of the surveys. That is where the fundraising occurs. Send us your money.

So, in essence, these are marketing and solicitations disguised as surveys. Surveying is hard as the entity must do its best to shave off any bias. Otherwise, the results are not worth the paper they are written on. In the case of these fundraisers, my guess is the survey goes to a lock box and then tossed, once the money is collected and sender codified for future fundraising.

Now, phone surveys are using the same process. Last night, I took a call and decided to participate in the survey. The questions were as expected about national and governor races, but it skipped over the US Senate race. When I was asked about a candidate not on my radar screen, that should have been a signal, as this candidate was apparently funding the survey. In this case it was a Republican state senator candidate.

What tipped me was leading questions which told me of her opponents’ stances on various votes taking those votes out of context or hyper-politicizing the stance. The surveyor was leading me to question why I should vote for the other candidate.

Once I heard about three of these spoon-fed questions, I stopped him and said this is a leading survey as you are telling me why I should not vote for the other person. Plus, you are taking a lot of these votes out of context and feeding me slogans. What you just said is a made up statistic, for example.

I said I am going to hang up now. I told you how I am going to vote. So, you need nothing further. And, you should know I am an Independent and former Republican voter. But, I am not voting for this Republican candidate.

Saturday in the park – a few wandering comments

It is a good day for a walkabout, so let’s head to the park, allowing for social distancing. As we wander, here are few thoughts to ponder.

I saw where Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, sold one of his several Super Bowl rings for charity, garnering $1.1 million. Very nice. It reminded me of an interesting accusation Kraft made on a visit to Moscow. He accused Vladimir Putin of pocketing his ring after he asked to see it. Putin said Kraft gave it to him – Kraft said he did not.

I received a letter from one of my Senators in response to my emsil on my concern the president is firing Inspectors General. He said it was the president’s right to fire the IGs. I called and left a message thanking him for the letter, saying I understood his point, but strongly disagree. Firing IGs is like firing the umpire and should be of concern to all senators, regardless of who is president. We must have governance over any president, but especially this one who is not known for telling the truth. By the way, commentators Mark Shield and David Brooks echoed these concerns last night on their PBS Newshour recap of the week.

I read in my newsfeed the fuss about mail-in voting is a lot of hot air about nothing. Five states currently use mail-in voting to a heavy extent – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington. It seems people don’t like to drive a long way to a voting precinct and prefer to mail it in. Having lived in a state that saw a Republican super majority plow through ALEC based cookie cutter language on Voter ID Laws, one party is trying to limit voting for their own benefit. Voter fraud is very miniscule, but you would think it is rampant. Fortunately, the judges saw the NC law as “precision-like” discrimination and ruled it unconstitutional. The problem in America is we need to encourage more voting, not less.

China is not the only one who tried to cover up what was happening with COVID-19. After being briefed in January on the pandemic risk, the US president chose to naysay the risk and misinform per his modus operandi. The misinformation continues to this day. On the good side, Americans are coming together. We see the more strident folks beat on their chest and say “I am invincible,” but most Americans are doing what they can, observing social distancing, and helping each other. To be brutally frank, we deserve a better leader than the one who is misinforming us routinely. We need people in leadership positions to shoot straight with us and not try to do things to win an election, first and foremost. Ironically, if the president had chosen to be presidential beginning in January, he could have helped Americans and helped his chances of winning.

Joe Biden had another slip up. Joe screwed up presuming black votes were his. That was wrong. Yet, later in the day, Biden did something that is very un-Trump like, he apologized for his remarks to an important audience. This is not unusual for Biden to say things he may want to check and it will happen again. Yet, it is very important to note biographers have said Trump was taught by his mentor Roy Cohn to “never apologize and sue everyone.” Having watched Trump for years, I must confess I cannot recall him apologizing. He is more inclined to blame someone else than be accountable. Biden was accountable for his screw-up. Yet, no one should take voters for granted, including Joe

Well that is enough to chew on while you walk. Have a great weekend. Be safe.

Relaxing shelter-at-home requirements must be done judiciously with health in mind

As Georgia governor Brian Kemp more aggressively lifted restrictions yesterday, joining other states like South Carolina, Oklahoma, etc., a concern that is not getting talked about enough is some of these same states have the worst national health care rankings. More on this below. Per two separate surveys in the past few days, 70% of Americans want the focus to be on health first, before reopening. Americans seem to get where the focus needs to be more so than some leaders.

I understand the desire to reopen more fully, but we must be smart about it. I was pleased to see the North Carolina governor Roy Cooper extend the shelter-at-home requirement for two weeks, but actually announcing a three phased plan to reopen. That is what is needed. It could be postponed if the numbers do not improve, but it is an articulated plan.

This is a state-by-state issue. The relative health of the state is important as it increases the relative risk. The Commonwealth Fund is an organization that measures the relative health of a state based on a number of factors and have been doing so for years. A link below is to the 2019 state rankings. As you think about states that are reopening sooner than others, consider the following:

The worst twelve states (and District of Columbia) for overall healthcare, from worst to twelfth worst, are as follows:
51 – Mississippi
50 – Oklahoma
49 – Texas
48 – Nevada
47 – Arkansas
46 – West Virginia
45 – Louisiana
44 – Florida
43 – Missouri
42 – Georgia
41 – South Carolina
40 – Tennessee
39 – Alabama

The Commonwealth Fund uses a robust number of variables to rank the states and is one of the more comprehensive tools. These states tend to have a higher degree of obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 30), some have a greater degree of child hood obesity, and have a greater degree of people who claim poor health. With the higher degree of obesity comes higher propensity of diabetes, although this data is inconsistently reported. Please click on the link and go through the most recent report.

Obesity and diabetes are critical factors. Data from the COVID-19 reported this week noted diabetics are not faring well when diagnosed. People with breathing difficulties – asthma, COPD, etc. also are at greater risk. It should be noted Florida ranks poorly on childhood asthma. Again, this is an underreported data point in other states.

Another key factor for poor ratings is access to health care providers and insurance. Many of these states did not expand Medicaid. Many of these states have seen more rural hospitals close than others. Many of these states have more food deserts and higher degrees of drug overdoses, alcoholism, and suicides.

I mention all of the above, as the states have varying degrees of preparedness and risk exposure. In fact, many businesses have noted they are ignoring the governor’s orders to reopen their doors. That is also telling.

I get it. I understand the desire to reopen the doors. I also know pandemic diseases spread more readily than other diseases. If we do venture out – please use social distancing and face masks. There are many restaurants who are practicing good procedures to protect the staff and customers through take out and delivery orders. Support their efforts. That is a way to invest in our economy.

And, please listen to the truthtellers, the doctors, nurses and disease scientists. Listen to the folks not patting themselves on the back or making the issue more political. Facts must trump politics. But, we should also be mindful, we are learning more about this virus with increasingly better data. Just because new data sets aside a previous notion, that is not unusual with pandemic risks. AIDs and Ebola revealed this based on their initial discoveries (AIDs was thought to impact only gay men at first, until women and heterosexuals started dying, eg).

These truthtellers understand this is an uphill climb. We must be vigilant and patient. And, judicious and humble.

https://scorecard.commonwealthfund.org/rankings/

How to respond to people who say you need to get behind the president

Our friend Jill posted a good Op-ed piece written by the Board of the Lincoln Project. In essence, this group represents Republicans who want to see the president defeated in the fall. Her piece is entitled “Country over Party say these Republicans” (see link below). With her permission, I forwarded her piece to an email distribution group. Please do read her piece if you have not already.

Below is a response to a friend who responded quickly. He said he felt we needed to get behind the president which is the new party line. Here is my response.

“These are Republican voices who said all of this. I have listened to Rick Wilson and Steve Schmidt and they are very reasonable in conveying their concerns.

I am behind solving our problems and getting back to some form of normalcy. I also respect the office of the presidency. It would be nice if the incumbent respected it as well. We lost six weeks to plan ahead and the misinformation continues to this day.

My favorite conservative pundit, David Brooks, said it best. Even when the president does the right thing, he lets his “narcissism and neurosis get in the way.” I am so pulling for him to do the right things, but it is hard to solve problems when your first motivation is how does it make me look.

What I cannot fathom is for a person who so craves positive attention, why did he not in January or February say the COVID-19 pandemic risk is something we need to pay attention to and I will initiate some planning efforts now? That would have been highly presidential and shown leadership. Instead he reverted to his modus operandi and lied and said it was a hoax.

I want him to succeed, but am highly disappointed in his autocratic bent. I am even more perturbed by sycophants who rationalize the president’s behavior or look the other way. I agree with the Lincoln Project Op-ed and know there are many other famous Republican voices – Brooks, Ross Douthat, George Will, Matt Drudge, Michael Gerson, Erick Erickson – who feel the same way.

That is how I feel bro.”

“Country Over Party” Say These Republicans …

What I care about – a note received

I shared that my local newspaper published my letter to the editor whose theme was “Listen to the truthtellers.” I included the letter in a recent post. Today, I received a very gracious letter from someone I do not know thanking me for my letter and “taking a stand and for expressing my views publicly.”

Attached to the letter was a summary prepared by John Pavlovitz (see link below) entitled “What I care about.” I thought I would share that summary below:

“I care that families are being separated.
I care that medical bills are bankrupting people.
I care that we’re drowning in guns and daily shootings.
I care that we’re talking about an asinine multi-billion border wall that won’t solve a crisis, even if there were one – and there isn’t one.
I care that our climate is changing and our planet is warming and our environment being degraded ad we have politicians who see science as an adversary.
I care that this Administration solicited and welcomed foreign interference in a Presidential election.
I care that voter suppression and gerrymandering are making it almost impossible for poor people and people of color to be heard and represented.
I care that racists march without hoods now, that elementary school teachers dress up like border walls, that wrestling coaches cut off a man’s dreadlocks in public.
I care that our President is mentally unfit to lead, and that he is buffeted by a group of professional enablers who know he is unfit and defend him anyway.
I care that every single day brings new legislative attacks on people who are already pushed to the brink.
I care that we have accused predators in the White House and on the Supreme Court.
I care that Muslims are caricatured into terrorists, migrants into advancing hordes, and LGBTQ people into imminent threats, by our elected leaders.
I care about families and sick people and underpaid teachers and hungry kids and unpaid Federal workers and transgendered teenagers – and the millions of beautiful, vibrant, disparate human beings who are daily endangered by the leadership of this country.

That’s what I care about.”

This list boils down many concerns to one piece of paper. It is worth the read and reaction. Let me know your thoughts.

Note: At the bottom of the summary is a quote from Neil Carter, “Why are we voting into office men who don’t even accept basic principles of biology, geology, immunology, and astronomy, and who believe we don’t have to preserve our planet’s natural resources.”

The weblink to Pavlovitz’s blog is as follows:

https://johnpavlovitz.com/

Voting for Trump is not a favorable vote for Bernie

Note the following is a comment I made on our friend’s Jill’s recent post. See link below.

I have written separate posts on the relative veracity of Biden and Sanders. I have commented on a couple of progressive sites as well. I will vote for Sanders if he is the nominee, but I favor Biden. I am an independent who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I believe in helping people, but we need to make sure we pay for it and are getting a ROI (i.e. – is this the best way to help?).

Biden and Sanders are genuine and decent people. Neither are perfect, but I don’t find myself questioning the veracity of what they say. None of these descriptions fit the bill with the incumbent. I also recognize what too many don’t that America’s economic system is a blend of fettered capitalism with socialist underpinnings. That simple statement would blow people’s minds.

The question we need to ask is what is the proper balance? That question does not fit on a bumper sticker which is how the president got elected. I am just saddened that our reputation around the world has declined with 64% of Europeans not trusting the president trusting Putin and Xi more. To be frank, I am surprised it is not higher in distrust, as I don’t trust a word he says.

And, neither does Bernie Sanders who calls him a “pathological liar.” So, when I see Bernie fans say they would vote for Trump over Biden it is a puzzlement. I think it is an insult to everything Bernie stands for. I would also caution my more ardent Bernie friends to make sure who they are getting their information from, as it easily might be a Trump supporter masquerading as a Bernie Bro. Trump has and will stoop low to get reelected.

Finally, my friend Bernie is not getting the votes like last time. I was pulling for a good interview on “60 Minutes,” but his subtle answer to a question about Cuba cost him Florida in huge way. One Democrat said it may have lost Florida for the Dems if he wins the nomination. Trump cannot win if he does not carry Florida.

So, I do hope we rally around Biden. Otherwise, the climate change and environmental fights will be lost for a key four year period (per Greta and AOC) and SCOTUS will likely become a 7 to 2 conservative majority along with other judges. This point galvanizes Republicans as Mitch McConnell knows he can shape a future of jurisprudence that favors big business and is diminishes civil rights for forty years.

Discord & Dissension — Part X — Bernie or Bust?

Be careful of what you read, even if comments in your own blog

As an independent voter who tries to stay well read from legitimate sources, I continue to get puzzled by the level of vitriol and zeal in some comments on various blogs. I do not mind if someone is more conservative than me on some issues or more progressive. Tell me what you think without telling me I must be insane for believing the way I do or someone else does.

I read in the news Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is dropping out of the race and supporting Joe Biden, even though she does not agree with all of his positions. Of course not, there is not a candidate running that anyone can rightfully claim they agree with every position he or she has taken or is taking. If they do, then they are not being truthful with themselves.

I don’t agree with everything Biden or Bernie Sanders posit, but I would vote for either one over the incumbent president who I view as corrupt, untruthful and bullying. Both Biden and Sanders are decent people. I cannot say the same for the current president, who will only do something decent if it helps his image.

But, my main thrust is be mindful of your sources. There is one progressive blog I follow where I am convinced a frequent and lengthy contributor is not what he or she seems. I actually think the person is a Trump or Russian troll doing very zealous and heavy lifting to garner victory for the incumbent. I may be wrong, but the zeal and frequency of comments far exceed that of the blog’s host who welcomes other opinions.

One of my other blogging friends was visited by a Russian troll to the point the blogger had to block the commenter. How can one tell? You really can’t. I may be dead wrong, but I worry how blogs can be taken over by someone who tries to own your blog. I have had a few bizarre commenters in the many years, one where the theme of the post is hijacked for other messaging.

So, please be careful of what you read and where you read it. Misinformation abounds. So, does disinformation. Do I worry that this is or may happen to my blog? Of course. I do not mind passion or zeal. But neither give someone permission to take someone’s head off. I fortunately follow some very good bloggers who welcome push back, provided it is done civilly. I am fortunate many of these bloggers follow mine in return.

So, let’s just be civil. Let’s remember that Golden Rule which can be found in most religious texts. Just like politicians, there are no perfect bloggers or commenters. This one included.

Dems need to support their candidate regardless (otherwise you are assuring a Trump win)

I wrote the following comment on a progressive blog I follow. The comment speaks for itself.

I do enjoy reading your blog. As an independent voter who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive, it is good to get a lay of the land. As I share with my conservative friends, I don’t care if people are more conservative than me on issues or more progressive, let’s try to deal with facts to solve problems. Many moons ago, people ran on rhetoric, then set that aside and governed more off facts. Now, with 24×7 news and eternal campaigning, we are governing off rhetoric. That is sad and not good for our country.

What I am confused about on some of the comments is how in the world Joe Biden is remotely equated with the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime. Biden is far from perfect, but to be brutally honest with you so is Bernie. And, so am I. But, they both are good and decent people, which is a far cry from a president who thinks first of himself and his brand. Everything goes back to his fragile ego. Biden is not that, nor is Sanders.

I will vote for Bernie if he is the nominee, but that is looking as more of a long shot. I do prefer Biden, though, as it appears many of the Democrat voters do. I do wish Bernie would lay off the rigged against him stuff. The brutal truth is his votes are fewer than in 2016 and he is not garnering enough from all parts of the Democrat party. I recognize fully, this paragraph in particular, will cause consternation, but the facts are speaking for themselves.

I do like that Bernie is pushing for Biden to consider more of his perspective. I am all for the detailed exploration of ideas that Bernie and folks like Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have. I like the thought process.

As someone who has been involved in helping homeless working families climb ladders back to self-sustainable housing, we must push forward with at least living wages (although I really like Yang’s idea), we must have investment in communities that are disenfranchised, we must have access to healthcare (and yes we should explore Medicare for All in detail while we shore up the ACA in the interim), and we must encourage family planning, including access to birth control and education. There is a high correlation to poverty and larger family sizes. Most of our homeless clients are working mothers, the fastest growing segment of homeless people in the country.*

I am sorry to ramble. But, let me throw something out at you. If Biden is the nominee and you do not support him, four more years of Trump will lead to a 7-2 conservative supermajority on SCOTUS and more environmental degradation and climate change concerns. We will miss a huge window that AOC and Greta Thunberg (my hero) are rightfully concerned about.

To be brutally frank, equating Biden with Trump is not even close to being accurate. I am sorry you and others may not feel this way. I wish this old fart could convince you.

* Note: This footnote was not part of the comment. As someone who has been around charitable organizations, it is vital that we ask them to measure outcomes and report on their success to funders. To be frank, there are too many benevolent band-aids that do not solve the problems they are fighting. They put a band-aid on to provide temporary easing. The same holds true for some governmental programs. That is not altogether bad, but we need to address the needs.

While too many conservatives try to paint people being helped with a very minuscule few malingerers, we still need to try to use money wisely and get people back to self-sustainability. Help them climb a ladder, but they need to climb it. Now, there are some who will need more care than others. As I used to tell church and business groups, when you have met one homeless person, you have met one homeless person. There are many types of homeless people.

There is an excellent book by Bob Lupton called “Toxic Charity.” Lupton used to help Vietnam vets, but eventually moved in to live among people he was helping. His premise is charity should be reserved for emergencies. We should help people climb the ladder back to self-sufficiency. He is very big on food co-ops and consignment stores in neighborhoods with need versus giving out free things. This allows people to maintain their dignity as they get help. The books is worth the read.

Hey Joe

I was watching the weekly recap by David Brooks and Mark Shields on PBS Newshour last night. They both said Joe Biden needs to be crystal clear on why he should be president, without mentioning Trump or Sanders. Hey Joe, to help you formulate a concise value proposition, let me share what I value in you.

Right now, the US is less trusted around the world because our president is untrustworthy. Plus, he sees relationships through a transactional lens, so history is of less importance. You were asked by President Obama to be heavily involved with global affairs. There is a reason. You have more experience in this area than anyone running for president. Tell us why that is important and what you will do to restore America’s position.

Right now, the Affordable Care Act is doing reasonably well, in spite of many attempts to sabatoge it by Republicans, including the president. Average premiums have actually declined for the second year in a row, but that story gets little airplay. However, the Supreme Court will be ruling next year, after the GOP legislators removed the mandate, if what remains is unconstitutional. Tell folks why it is important that you are elected and what you will do to assure the ACA is put on more solid footing.

Right now, the federal government is leaving the Paris Climate Change Accord and allowing more pollution of the environment. This is a very shortsighted set of tactics that will harm humans and our planet. Tell us what you will do to put us back on the same path with the rest of the world to address climate change and environmental degradation.

Right now, even with a pretty good economy, we have a huge poverty problem, especially in various pockets. Tell us what you will do to remedy these areas, via investment, protecting needed programs, minimum wage improvement and career training. Some areas that have relied on fossil fuel exploration are suffering. Tell them the truth about the present and future and how you will help them.

Right now, bipartisan debate and discussion is at a minimum and, when it occurs, party leadership chastises the individuals who try to work with the other party. Tell us about your career of bipartisanship and why that is important to obtain sustainable legislation. Ideas have to be implemented through legislation to stand the test of time and not be changed by a future executive order.

There are so many more things to highlight. But, keep it to a minimum. Michael Bloomberg may have been a poor candidate to Democrats, but he kept the message simple. As Mark Shields said, Bloomberg’s campaign was better than the candidate.

In fairness to Bernie Sanders, I will write a future post about what this independent sees that he needs to do to appeal to people outside of his base. Irrespective of who wins, I encourage you and Senator Sanders to be above pettiness. Policy differences exist. But, the winner needs the other to beat the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon.