Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Can Trump Really Win in 2024?

Spoiler Alert: It's very unlikely since he has so much working against him. But his odds are greater than zero which for many of us is terrifying.

Personal Disclosure: I like many others didn't think he would win in 2016. But many believe that Trump himself didn't even expect to win in 2016 either.

The days after the 2020 election turned to turmoil culminating in the January 6 insurrection in Congress which resulted in massive injuries and a few deaths. Trump believed overturning the largely ceremonial Senate count of the electoral vote decided in December was his last chance to overturn the election. Once that failed, he had no choice but to move out of the White House and contemplate another run in 2024.

As most of us know, if Trump had been convicted in the second impeachment conducted later that month, he would have been disqualified from seeking public office for life. And indeed 10 Senate Republicans voted for conviction but it was less than the 2/3 majority required for a conviction. This was a missed chance to get rid of a menace to our democracy once and for all! But it was not a secret vote so there were fears of retaliation held by many of the Republican Senators. And besides, few people thought he would seriously seek another term.

By most accounts, Trump did not really like the everyday duties of a president. He was known to spend many hours of the day watching TV and occasionally phoning in to his favorite Fox shows. Yes, it was a power trip but does it really beat playing golf every day at Mar-a-Lago and being worshiped by his fawning membership?

But there were storm clouds of upcoming indictments coming his way. Surely, the Department of Justice wouldn't prosecute a candidate running for office, he thought. So he declared his 2024 presidential candidacy far earlier than anyone else who would run for the Republican nomination. His announcement speech was lacking energy being read from a teleprompter. This would be the end of him in public office, or so we thought.

But one cannot underestimate his loving fan base who gave him more energy with each incendiary speech. Once the inevitable indictments landed, he even picked up more energy and poll numbers. His followers ate up pronouncements like "I am your retribution" and his campaign based on grievances was picking up steam. It didn't take long for him to lap the rest of the Republican primary field making him at this time, a prohibitive favorite to secure the party nomination in 2024.

In more recent months, he has talked of a totalitarian takeover of the Department of Justice, using it to prosecute those whom he believes wronged him along with enlisting a pre-screened army of loyalists to take over the rest of the government functions. In addition, many of his ambitions are supported by the conservative Heritage Foundation as Project 2025. He even floated the idea of pardons for convicted January 6 insurrectionists. And while he was at it, he believes he can use a presidential victory to shield himself from any justice should he win the 2024 election. Many observers feel this is his primary reason for running.

Trump as always is the showman who attracts media along with voter attention. On the other hand Biden has a much more subdued style that many have attributed to him being too old to run for office again. Biden may be too old, but little is said about the likely Republican nominee in Trump who is only 3 years younger.

Many in Biden's own party feel that he is too old to run again. But for better or worse, he did decide to run. His decision was helped along because parties make it difficult for a primary challenger to be competitive against an incumbent president. There have been a few in the past. LBJ was seriously challenged by Senators Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy over the Vietnam War which led to LBJ's surprise withdrawal. And Senator Ted Kennedy had an unsuccessful run against President Jimmy Carter.

With the threat to our democracy Trump represents, perhaps Biden felt he is the only one who can defeat Trump. Many disagree, but what other candidate with enough experience would be a safe bet to beat Trump?

Something many overlook is that the Biden Administration is more than just one octogenarian. Unlike Trump who often filled positions with unqualified loyalists (e.g. Chief Advisors son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka), Biden has surrounded himself with many competent, experienced people to help him. In my opinion, if Biden somehow can't go the distance in his second term, that team of people, yes including VP Kamala Harris, will do a more than competent job of running things until the next election.

But what about all those polls that have Trump running close or even leading in some states? We should take this as a message to not take Trump lightly but we don't need to cower in fear. For one thing, polls a year before the election don't really tell us anything. Unlike political junkies like me, most people don't really pay attention to an upcoming election until about a month or two before. On top of that is a distinct possibility that Trump may be a convicted felon by Election Day. While many of his supporters don't mind the indictments, a convicted felon may give at least some a reason to rethink their support of him.

Democrats have been running the table lately over the issue of abortion. And it is a sure thing to be a prominent issue in 2024. While one's view of abortion is subjective, there is one objective fact: Pro-choice Americans are a solid majority, even in most heavily Republican states. When citizens have had a choice in state referendums over abortion, the pro-choice side so far has always won - even in deep Red states like Kansas and more recently, Ohio. 

When Roe v Wade was struck down, the pretense by Republicans was that now voters in individual states can decide on their own abortion laws. But that turned out to be a lie! Many of the Republican controlled states with some of the most onerous restrictions (no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother) are controlled by heavily gerrymandered legislatures with lopsided Republican majorities that don't necessarily represent the will of its voters. Put another way, voters in many Republican controlled states are petitioning for referendums on abortion with those in charge doing everything to resist because they rightly fear that they would lose!

Strangely enough, many Republicans are doubling down against abortion saying it's a messaging issue. But this is nothing more than the denial of the pro-choice majority. Make no mistake about it, abortion is a losing issue for Republicans! But yes, some are starting to realize this. Recently, Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn when asked about the Texas ban blocking a pregnant mother's request to abort an nonviable fetus refused to comment.

This quote from Cornyn was a real winner!

“I’m not a state official, so I’m not going to comment on what state officials are doing. I’m happy to comment on anything that I’m responsible for,”

Does he think the voters are that stupid? It was he along with all of the other Republican Senators who confirmed the three Trump Supreme Court nominees with the aim of overturning Roe.

But let's not get overconfident over Biden's chances over the abortion issue. There are a number of banana peels he can slip on.

The Israeli attack in Gaza to try and eliminate Hamas is fraught with political landmines. After the horrific October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, Biden expressed his unconditional support of Israel. But as the civilian casualties in Gaza mounted, Israel has been condemned by many, especially on the left who despite Biden's efforts to exert some control over Israel, he is seen as an accomplice to what many consider to be the needless suffering and deaths of innocent Palestinian civilians in Israel's efforts to take out Hamas.

There is also talk of third party candidates running for the presidency. Retiring West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is considering running as a No Labels candidate. More concerning is Jill Stein, running to the left again in the Green Party. Third party candidates can't win any states but can affect the outcome in closely contested swing states. Some believe Stein helped Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. But it is indisputable that Ralph Nader in 2000 helped George W. Bush defeat Al Gore in Florida, delivering the presidency to Bush.

Although economic numbers are strong, the mood of much of the electorate is sour on the economy which is resulting in surprisingly low approval numbers for Biden which can hurt an incumbent president running for reelection.

So this is to say that obviously, Biden is not perfect. But despite the resistance to another Biden-Trump rematch, barring something unforeseen, the American electorate has a binary choice. Once the election gets closer, voters will get to choose between either the incumbent in Biden or Trump whose campaign language has degenerated from merely authoritarian to outright Hitler and Nazi propaganda.

But to preserve our democracy and not descend into authoritarianism, we must stay vigilant. As repulsive as Trump's hate speech may be to many of us, the sad truth is that Trump's enthusiastic supporters love him not in spite of his hateful words but because of them. Our only saving grace is that they are slightly in the minority. So for those of us on the other side, when Election Day comes, we will have to show up and vote to save our democracy. Staying home is not an option!

Biden modestly sums it all up this way with a quote from his father:

..don't compare me with the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Liberals Aren't Perfect Either

For those of us on the liberal side of politics, watching the conservatives (especially the Trumpers) self-destruct is not only surreal but it's scary as hell. Watching The Former Guy, now twice indicted, promise to appoint his own personal Attorney General to prosecute all of his enemies in what he calls the deep state (presumably Democrats along with Republicans who have turned on him) would leave our democracy in shambles. In addition, he would pardon the January 6 insurrectionists sent to prison. Even worse, a number of other Republican primary challengers have also expressed their approval for pardoning the January 6 prisoners and perhaps Trump himself if one of them wins and he is convicted before the 2024 election.

But while this group is going batshit crazy, NYT liberal columnist Nicholas Kristof in a recent column, It's Easy to Feel Righteous in the Trump Era. Liberals, Beware. warned his fellow liberals not to act too smug. We have faults too that we need to address and hopefully strive for improvement. I urge the reader to check out this linked article.

At the end of the article is an embedded video surprisingly produced by the NYT which is also on YouTube, Blue States,You're the Problem. The video picks out parts of the 2020 Democratic Party Platform and argues that the states exclusively controlled by the Democratic Party have been doing a poor job of upholding the principles outlined there. As a liberal, I grudgingly admit that the arguments presented have merit and that the Democrats certainly have room for improvement.

Having said that, I have to push back in a couple of areas. It's convenient that the Democrats have presented a document that can be exposed to criticism. So can we do the same for the Republicans? Unfortunately not because the party agreed that instead of creating a 2020 Republican Platform, they just agreed to say that whatever Donald Trump wanted would be their platform and called it a day. Whatever failings the Blue States may have, none are as egregious as most (but not all) of the Red States refusing to accept the Medicaid Expansion part of Obamacare needlessly leaving many thousands of their residents without health insurance.

I find that often the most interesting parts of op-ed articles are the reader comments. One in particular, eloquently summed things up by saying that although we need to examine and try to fix our own faults, we can't be caught navel-gazing when there is an oncoming freight train bearing down on us.

I will close with his words:

Bob Bruce Anderson

This article holds many truths. We should certainly examine the areas where we fail. There are many. Hubris doesn't help.

But let's not take our eyes off the hill in front of us. There are enemies of democracy and freedom charging right at us. They have guns that slaughter civilians - children. They love guns. They want a national religion with its own set of rules. They don't want young people or people of color to vote. They believe their elected officials are above the law. They admire dictators. They are attempting to dismantle the Federal government. They don't believe in protecting the environment. They don't believe in science. They don't believe there is a serious Climate Crisis and if a few do, they don't think we created it.

You are absolutely correct that "Liberals" have failed in many ways. I'd start with the fact that our guys still take big money from the Oligarchs. It ain't a perfect world. But if we don't fight with all our might, our failings will be silly little mistakes relative to the fascist world we are marching towards. A world where someone else's religion reigns supreme. Where women are not full citizens. Where people of color are marginalized even more than now. Where rich people will pay even less in taxes and poverty will explode.
And the homelessness you describe will multiply exponentially. Mr. Kirstof [sic], I respect your attempt at asking us to find our humility.

But now, back to the battle for freedom, democracy and to save a planet.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Remembering Franco and Roberto

December 23, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of a joyous moment for Pittsburgh sports fans when the Steelers defeated the Oakland Raiders by a miracle deflection pass caught by Franco Harris near the very end of the game when all hope was lost for the home team.

But despite the game's importance, other than the lucky fans able to witness the game at Three Rivers Stadium, the rest of the city of Pittsburgh was not able to watch the game live because of a stupid NFL home game TV blackout rule (lifted the following year). Instead, we had to gather in front of our radios and use our imaginations to fill in what we couldn't see, including that play later named the Immaculate Reception. Here is Jack Fleming's unforgettable radio play-by-play along with a video of what he saw.

Unfortunately, this 50th anniversary celebration has been turned into a time of sadness with the sudden, unexpected death of Franco Harris.

Also 50 years ago on December 23, 1972 there was a catastrophic earthquake that killed many thousands in Nicaragua. As fate would have it, that event tragically affected Pittsburgh, but not until about a week later.

Although relief supplies came in to Nicaragua from around the world, they weren't efficiently reaching the right people because of corruption and probably just plain incompetence. Pittsburgh Pirate superstar Roberto Clemente went to San Juan to gather relief supplies and fly them to the affected people. But it wasn't enough for Roberto to just send some supplies there and call it a day. He had to be there in Nicaragua to make sure the supplies reached the right people so he boarded the plane along with the overload of cargo stuffed onto it. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff killing all of its occupants. Clemente's body was never found.

It was New Year's Day morning we got the tragic news that we lost Roberto.

In addition to being a legendary and beloved athlete, especially to his native Puerto Rico and all of Latin America, he died a hero's death in the middle of a humanitarian mission. I can't begin to describe his athleticism with the Latino flair of a matador. There was never a player like him. 

In many ways, his brilliant career was bittersweet with him enduring a never ending battle against prejudice for him being not just a black but also a Latino. The reader is invited to watch this ESPN Sports Century Documentary about his life and career.

RIP Franco and Roberto!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

America Saved Its Democracy!

OK, I admit it. I was scared of America losing its democracy. Really scared!

It started about a year ago when states with Republican legislatures passed a countless number of voter suppression laws aimed at making voting more difficult for minorities (who normally vote Democratic). All this was under the pretense of fighting election fraud which has never been proven to exist at levels that would affect any of the elections. As a reminder, it was Trump's own lackey Attorney General, Bill Barr who said that there was no significant amount of fraud in any of the states that would have affected the 2020 presidential election.

Then there was the extreme gerrymandering in many of the Republican state legislatures (Democrats are guilty of this too but to a lesser degree). For example, Wisconsin had a 61 to 38 Republican majority in the State Assembly and a 21 to 12 majority in the State Senate. All of this with the number of Wisconsin Democrat and Republican voters split down the middle!

But Wisconsin voters selected a Democrat in Tony Evers with veto power to keep some control over the legislature. But all too many Republicans want to rule without any restraint or accountability. So their desire was to increase their advantage to a supermajority which would make the governor powerless to veto anything the Republicans wanted to do, no matter how crazy it was.

Even worse, the Wisconsin Republican candidate for governor along with his secretary of state candidate (who validates the state's elections) promised that if he were elected, Republicans would never lose another election! This is no less than a totalitarian power grab!

Even more scary is that the candidate Republican combinations of governors and secretaries of state were planning to do this same totalitarian power grab in a number of other swing states - Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada. This means that if Donald Trump or any other Republican runs for president and loses in 2024, these people would have the power to flip the results. No more free elections means no more democracy! These were candidates who were endorsed by Trump in exchange for them spreading the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

The American voters had so many other concerns on their minds like the rising costs of gas and food. In addition, if these Republican governors were to prevail, more abortion rights may well have been taken away with the permission of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade.

These were undoubtedly serious concerns. But President Biden along with Democratic strategists correctly realized that if we lost our democracy, we would no longer have any control over who is leading us. So he loudly proclaimed in urgently delivered addresses that Democracy Is On The Ballot! His many critics accused him of crying wolf. But that figurative wolf waiting to destroy our democracy was real!!!

But would enough people listen? Americans have mostly had a detached attitude towards elections and politics in general. Our turnout rates for elections have been among the lowest in the world. Sure, the political junkies like me understand the situation but would the average voter get the urgent message that our democracy may be effectively hijacked if enough election deniers won? The thought of America losing its democracy made me depressed and sick at the stomach. 

Although some liberals like Michael Moore said we would be just fine, I watched Real Time with Bill Maher the Friday before the election. He normally ends each show with a funny bit as part of what he calls New Rules. But this time, Maher was dead serious and feeling fatalistic about the fate of our democracy after the upcoming election. For those who didn't quite understand the gravity of it all, he eloquently summed it up in this video titled Democracy's Deathbed that I urge the reader to watch. I was convinced that it was all hopeless.

I tried to occupy my mind on that Election Day and even had dinner with a group of friends before going home to tune in to the expected bad news. But to my shock and many others, the news was unexpectedly bright. The election denying candidates for governors and secretaries of state who ran to hijack the swing states to make them captive to Republican partisan election officials all got defeated...one after another after another. And the attempt for the above mentioned supermajority in Wisconsin was also defeated. Enough American voters cared after all - even the younger voters who have been notoriously fickle about turning out to vote!

There were Republican victories by election deniers in stronghold states like Ohio, Florida and Texas. But those are less of a worry because they would likely win those states anyway without resorting to any underhanded tactics.

I am convinced that saving our democracy was a crucial reason the so-called Red Wave expected to crush the Democrats never happened. But the outrage over the loss of abortion rights by the Supreme Court along with the plainly batshit crazy candidates that were nominated with the help of Donald Trump certainly contributed.

Although many Republicans are mad as hell at Trump for causing them to lose so many election races, it is unclear whether the party will continue to move on without him. But Trump isn't going anywhere and has now announced his candidacy for president in 2024, all while the threat of multiple criminal indictments of him are in the air. Will running for president again protect him from being indicted? He likely thinks so but most legal observers say no. We shall see...

There are more crazy times to come but we (and the rest of the free world) can at least breathe easier having saved our precious democracy...at least for now!

Friday, June 17, 2022

Poland's Abortion Ban Nightmare

Even though I have long been a liberal on the pro-choice side, I have been reluctant to weigh in on this issue until recently. Part of being pro-choice is acknowledging that some people believe that abortion is immoral while others believe it is a necessary evil to preserve the right of a woman to control her own body. Both sides have a right to their belief and to live their lives as they see fit. But when one side wants to legally impose their will on the other, this can lead to problems - some very serious!

Earlier this month, the New York Times had a story Poland Shows the Risks for Women When Abortion Is Banned that I believe most people would find to be disturbing whichever side of this issue they are on. 

The banning of abortion in many US states will become a reality if the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade as expected. It is understandable that some people who find abortion to be immoral want to make it go away by making it illegal. But as we know from countless past examples (most notably Prohibition and the War on Drugs) making something illegal doesn't make it go away! This is especially true with abortion since even with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many states will continue to make it legally available. So especially for women who have the financial means, they can easily travel to a neighboring state if needed to legally have the procedure done. Only the poor will be put into a bind and perhaps forced to have a pregnancy they don't want or can't afford - or even have their lives put at risk in the event of complications.

I hope all of you will read the complete article in the above link. For now, I wish to quote and comment on some of the passages in this article on what are some serious unintended consequences of the present abortion ban in Poland.

Let's start with the article's subheading:

Poland’s abortion ban has had many unintended consequences. One is that doctors are sometimes afraid to remove fetuses or administer cancer treatment to save women’s lives.

This is a tragic reminder that women in Poland have needlessly died - especially when the laws favor the unborn over the life of the mother.

The long battle over Poland’s 29-year-old ban on abortion has intensified over the past 17 months after the elimination of the last significant exception permitting the procedure: fetal abnormalities.

The most common pro-life position through the years in the US is to allow exceptions to any possible abortion ban when rape, incest or the life of the mother are to be considered. But Poland's ban most notably does not allow for exceptions. In the US where one conservative wants to prove they are more conservative than others, a frightening number of proposed laws along with conservative candidates are proudly in favor of the incredibly cruel 'no exceptions' form of abortion bans.

Only one in 10 Poles support the stricter ban, which was enabled by a decision by the country’s highest court, dominated by judges loyal to a deeply conservative government. 

Just like in the US, the majority of Poles are pro-choice. But each country has their own version of a Supreme Court where religious conservatives can impose their will on its people. In the US, the Evangelical Christians are the main political driver. In Poland, it is the Catholic Church.

Just this month, the government required Poland’s central health care system to log pregnancies. Opponents called it a “pregnancy register” that could be used to track down illegal terminations.

Now, we really have a slippery slope! About 1 out of 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Common sense says we can't prosecute a woman for an accidental miscarriage. But how does a government determine for sure if the miscarriage is accidental or from an abortion? This would involve incredible violations of privacy that at least in the US would be intolerable, especially when some of the same people consider Covid mask mandates to be an intolerable invasion of privacy!

Admittedly, there are few examples. But there are some women who have served time in prison for what was likely an accidental miscarriage. But this can be taken a step even further. A woman who suffers an accidental miscarriage can still be prosecuted if it is determined that they contributed to the miscarriage by lifestyle choices such as smoking or drugs. And yes, it has happened here! 

Since [Poland's] last year’s ban on abortions of fetuses with abnormalities, the demand for late-term abortions has surged, too.

A popular straw man argument by some on the pro-life side is that the pro-choice side wants abortion on demand until the day before the baby is born. Don't believe me? There was this gem from Donald Trump repeated often during his 2020 campaign rallies. 

"Virtually every Democrat candidate has declared their unlimited support for extreme late-term abortion, ripping babies straight from the mother’s womb, right up until the very moment of birth."

Demagoguery at its finest! But as the fact check article clarifies:

Most abortions are performed in the earlier stages of pregnancy. About 1 percent happen after the fetus reaches the point of viability. [Normally as a result of a serious fetal abnormality.] In short, the president is describing something that rarely happens and that no Democrat is calling for anyway.

It's easy for some to advocate abortion bans. But as the example of Poland shows, the unintended consequences can be tragic and the invasion of privacy these bans entail would make them almost unenforceable. And after all of these draconian measures, abortion rates are hardly affected - which was presumably the purpose of the bans in the first place.

Abortion has been constitutionally protected in the US for almost 50 years. So most of us, especially those of child-bearing age have never lived in a US where abortion has been banned. So the question must be asked, When it comes to abortion rights, do we want to become Poland?

Friday, May 6, 2022

Tyranny of the Minority

When some people see the difficulties we are having with our present system of government, it is natural to wonder if perhaps there are some others that may be better.

I found a wonderful essay by former UK Ambassador to Libya, Peter Millett The Worst Form of Government the first two paragraphs of which I will quote here:

Winston Churchill once said that: “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.” His cynicism was perhaps justified after the British people voted him out from his position as Prime Minister within months of winning the Second World War.

Whether it is the worst form of government or not, there is little doubt that the alternatives are worse. Suppressing people’s views through dictatorship or tyranny means the rule of a narrow minority over the rest. Imposing stability through fear is not the best way to provide the security, prosperity and growth that will make people’s lives better.

I believe that a great deal of the difficulties we are facing is not because of democracy itself - but is due to our execution of it that is flawed by enabling a minority of voters to often times have total control of our government.

An integral part of democracies is relying on majority rule to pick our leaders and make decisions through our chosen representatives. Or putting this another way - a democracy ruled by a minority is an oxymoron. Respecting the minority to allow them a voice in our system is all well and good. But allowing a minority to actually take over some parts of our government is clearly a bridge too far!

The Electoral College allowed G.W. Bush (in 2000) and Trump (in 2016) to become President despite not getting the majority of the popular vote.

These minority presidents appointed 4 of the 5 Justices that are expected to overturn Roe v. Wade. As a matter of fact, a draft of their opinion was recently leaked. This is unprecedented. It is this minority in effect, sticking it in our faces!

This would be taking away a right that was decided almost 50 years ago by a 7-2 vote, 5 of the 7 being Republican appointed. This is against a solid majority of Americans who want Roe upheld and it obliterates the concept of stare decisis - something each of these justices held near and dear to their hearts during their confirmation hearings.

Speaking of confirmation hearings, pro-choice Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are plenty pissed at the Trump appointed Justices apparently ready to strike down Roe after assurances to them that they considered Roe to be settled law.

So what's next? Contraception? Same-sex marriages? Interracial marriages? (Look out, Justice Thomas. They may be coming for you next!) What's stopping them? Nothing! Some democracy, huh?

In addition to minority rule affecting the presidency and Supreme Court, there is the Senate:

Currently, the 50 Democratic senators represent nearly 40 million more voters than the 50 Republican senators. Even worse, these Republicans representing a minority of voters have total power to stop any and all legislation from passing as they see fit through the filibuster. And they are using this power - sometimes gleefully, like Mitch McConnell as is his wont. Being a minority induces no guilt whatsoever over what they are doing.

And by 2040, 70% of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states, and to be represented by only 30 senators, while 30% of Americans will have 70 senators voting on their behalf.

So it is pretty apparent that the Founding Fathers' design of the Electoral College and the Senate give disproportionate weight to less populous states - which favors Republicans.

Despite being the minority party in the US and not having control of the White House, the Republicans have skillfully exploited these advantages to exert a significant amount of control over the US government - to the eternal frustration of Democrats. 

The ultimate fate of Roe v. Wade is unknown until the Supreme Court announcement later in this term. Although the leaked opinion draft has been acknowledged as authentic, there are a few positions of some of the Justices that could possibly change before that announcement.

This abortion issue may well change the dynamics of the upcoming mid-term election in November. It is usual for the party controlling the White House to take a pasting at the following mid-term election. And the persistent low approval ratings of President Biden have helped to make it a sure thing among most observers that the Republicans will at least recapture the House if not also the Senate.

But not so fast! While there has long been the fear among pro-choice supporters of Roe getting overturned, this leaked opinion has been a major wake-up call to them. Now the thoughts around painful consequences of many (especially poor) women with unwanted pregnancies and few if any legal resources available to them are hitting home.

Another wild card that will affect this election is the persistent influence over the Republican Party of The Former Guy. Most candidates competing for Republican nominations have decided that they have to go all-in as Trump supporters - including repeating the Big Lie about how Trump was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election. And why not throw in a few QAnon conspiracy theories while we're at it?

Batshit crazy may win a Republican primary nomination. But will it play well in a general election against a Democrat? This recent upset victory in Michigan says, maybe not! 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Permanent Daylight Savings Time in America? NFW!

It's hard to imagine a flaming liberal like me agreeing with the NY Post on anything. But here is a notable example. America’s already rejected permanent daylight saving time — for good reason

The US Senate [unanimously] just voted to make millions of kids go to school before sunrise for months at a time, via a bill to put the whole country on permanent daylight saving time. That problem is just one of many with the idea of eliminating the twice-a-year clock resets.

Indeed, we already tried it, back in the ’70s — and changed our minds.

Yes, tens of millions of Americans could get another hour of sleep one night of the year — but, as a result, they would have to go to work or school in the dark and cold for four months. Alternatively, other millions of Americans would lose 240 days of beautiful spring and summer evenings.

Those would be the effects of proposals nationally and in many states to install either permanent daylight time (keeping summer DST throughout winter) or permanent standard time (using winter’s standard time all year). While these options may seem enticing, both have major flaws.

This article sums up my feelings perfectly.

I love DST. Love that extra hour of summertime daylight in the evening.

Permanent DST? I say NFW! Send our children to wait for their morning school bus in the dark? We tried this before for a year in 1974 in the interest of saving energy and hated it. Why should it be different this time?

The New York Times also covered this story. I have quoted some of its paragraphs below.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, rose on the Senate floor on Tuesday to speak in favor of his bill, called the Sunshine Protection Act, which would end the practice of turning clocks back one hour to standard time every November, making daylight saving time, which currently begins in March, last throughout the year.

“One has to ask themselves after a while: Why do we keep doing it?” Mr. Rubio said, adding, “The majority of the American people’s preference is just to stop the back-and-forth changing.”

When he moved for the bill to pass by unanimous consent, not a single senator objected. But some audibly celebrated.

“Yes!” exclaimed Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, who flashed a big smile and clenched both her fists in triumph as she presided over the chamber.

After reading this last paragraph, I immediately started screaming obscenities at my phone. (It didn't listen.) 

Why? Am I just a madman?

Sinema was MIA last fall when we had some momentous occasions in Congress and in our nation. Under the guise of the big lie that The Former Guy spread about him losing the 2020 presidential election due to "massive fraud", Republican controlled state legislatures across the country adopted revised voting laws that they hoped would make it more difficult for minority voters to vote.

This is bad enough. But much more scary is the installation of Republican partisans who could overturn an election result they don't like. This may affect the upcoming 2022 midterm election and possibly the 2024 presidential election where Trump has indicated a will to run again. Just wondering...if indeed Trump won both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections as many Republican voters believe, wouldn't he be running for a constitutionally illegal third term in 2024? Nobody seems to mention this.

Among many attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, Trump placed a phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenspurger asking him to find 11,780 votes to flip a Georgia victory from Biden to Trump.

Raffenspurger is a Republican and likely voted for Trump. But in not wanting to betray the trust of Georgia citizens who elected him, he not only refused his request (order?), but also secretly recorded the phone call to document what happened. The recently passed Georgia election laws by Republicans would sideline Raffenspurger and a future request by Trump or somebody like him could find a Republican partisan willing to overturn the election results - legally!

When elections can be rigged at will, we no longer have a functioning democracy!

Back to Sinema, the only way to stop this nationalized vote tampering on the state level would have been to pass a federal voting rights package pushed by Democrats (which also required a way around the filibuster.) Sinema (along with Joe Manchin) refused to vote for this vital legislation to try and protect our democracy.

But this Arizona Senator on the issue of Permanent DST not only voted for the bill but applauded afterwards.  Perhaps someone should point out to her that Arizona (with the exception of Navajo Nation) has always opted out of DST on a year round basis! Arizona with its often extreme summer daytime summer heat understandably doesn't want to delay the cooling sundown by an hour.

So because of ignorance or just plain indifference, Sinema not only failed to support legislation to try and preserve our democracy, she voted for permanent DST, something most Arizona voters are clearly against. Who is she representing in Congress? This is a question whose answer has so far eluded us!