Category Archives: Civic Concerns

Pertains to politics and governance, rights of citizens.

Believe in Free enterprise?

I’m a capitalist. I believe in free enterprise and I respect entrepreneurs who risk everything, confident they can build a thriving business because they believe they have something valuable to offer the rest of us.

But, I think that a person should always be willing to reassess how their beliefs serve them. My belief in free enterprise is no exception. Too much that’s going wrong in the world is driven by narrow business interests that conflict with the common good and public wellfare.

Jim Hightower thinks so too. He attacks Monopoly Power in his October pamphlet The Hightower Lowdown.

Continue reading Believe in Free enterprise?

Conflict Entrepreneurs

“Let’s you and him fight!”

That’s the mantra. Some people enjoy the drama they cause by triggering a confrontation and fueling the configuration. It’s akin to being an arsonist – a social arsonist. The result can be devastating to any community of shared interest.

Karen Tibbals names this destructive game in her current blog post:

I’m seeing a lot of this in the political mail I get from the GOP. Half truths and outright lies are employed to fuel outrage and villify the motives of the Democrats and all those who criticize Republicans.

It’s particularly distressing that these tactics attack proposals and policies that have socially desirable reforms such as stopping tax fraud and closing loopholes. The GOP attack on reforms that would allow the IRS to spot high dollar tax evasion and enforce the law earned three Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s fact-checkers.

“Disinformation is how you transform democracy. This is death by a thousand cuts.”

– Maria Ressa, journalist & 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner

Nonetheless, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), restates the falsehood in his current email blast, the theme of which is to denigrate Democrats and exalt Republicans as virtuous defenders of truth, freedom, and the American way. Never mind the GOP’s determined efforts to stonewall voting rights or the investigation of the instigators of the January 6th insurrection.

Toomey

The GOP’s Moment of Truth

Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they come back right. I hope we have reached the moment when rational Republicans decide to sink the extremist wing of their party instead of riding it to power and scuttling the democracy they have sworn to serve virtually every time they were installed in an official position.

Heather Cox Richardson gives an excellent summary of what is now going public about GOP loyalists having a moment of truth, an opportunity to change course and purge their party of its cancerous extremism.

October-11-2021-by-Heather-Cox-Richardson-Letters-from-an-American

HCR’s article has links to other current articles. If you have strong feelings about democracy, now would be an excellent time to make them clear to the Republican elected officials in your district.

And vote your conscience at this and every election going forward.

Mint the Coin

Various writers, tongue-in-cheek, have urged that the Treasury Secretary mint a one trillion dollar coin and use it to buy back debt. This would resolve the debt ceiling crisis.

Whoa!, you say. If they just print more money, won’t that cause inflation? Maybe not. Money is created and destroyed all the time. Your bank routinely makes loans it doesn’t have the funds to cover. It is not required to have deposits equal to its loans. When the market price of housing, soybeans, or General Motors stock fluctuates, money is created or destroyed.

In its essence, money is only a promise to pay. We rely on the Federal Reserve to impose monetary policies that keep us as close to 2% annual inflation as they can. It’s an art, not a science.

The unknown is whether minting the coin would alter the world’s faith in our promise to repay.

There is little question that failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause the US to default on its existing debt. This would certainly shake faith in our monetary promises because we would be breaking them. So maybe the risk of minting the coin is small relative to the alternative of certain default.

Here’s my suggestion. Let’s mint eight of those $1T coins. Put Mitch McConnell’s likeness on one side and the GOP elephant on the obverse. Use them one at a time during Biden’s presidency to pay down the deficit and keep the economy rolling. Why eight coins? That’s about equal to the record-setting deficit that accrued under #45’s four-year term. So, it would be bold political theater to remind us all that the GOP is not fiscally more responsible than the Dems. Quite the opposite – they are willing to scuttle the economy and throw us into recession to game the political system.

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/debt-ceiling-mint-the-coin-explained.html
Krugman joins the fray!https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/opinion/biden-coin-democrat-republican-debt-limit.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/05/trillion-dollar-coin-faq/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/05/trillion-dollar-coin-faq/

Vaccine Hesitant?

This NYT article analyzes social research on why people are hesitant about vaccines and how the rest of us can help them choose to get vaccinated. In addition, it lets you examine information specific to your locale.

Getting everyone vaccinated in the United States has become much harder now that demand for the Covid-19 vaccine is flagging. America’s vaccination strategy needs to change to address this, and it starts with understanding the specific reasons people have not been vaccinated yet.

The conventional approach to understanding whether someone will get vaccinated is asking people how likely they are to get the vaccine and then building a demographic profile based on their answers: Black, white, Latinx, Republican, Democrat. But this process isn’t enough: Just knowing that Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated doesn’t tell us how to get them vaccinated. It’s more important to understand why people are still holding out, where those people live and how to reach them

read more…

Songs of Democracy

The popular uprising against authoritarianism, tyranny, and deception has given rise to parody in song. The talent matches the cleverness. Enjoy!

[Added 12/8/20]

The COVID-19 pandemic should not have become a political issue. But it is. Disregard for the practices that protect others became an expression of right-wing individualism. Late in the 2020 campaign the right began advocating for abandonment of the curve-flattening practices that slow contagion. Driven by the desire to restart the retail economy, GOP leadership flaunted maskless super-spreader events. While experts rallied to oppose this wrong-headed notion, the President persisted.

Coronavirsu Rhapsody lyracizes the issue.

Updated 210115

No Helmet, no mask = free [not!]

In the world of bikers, rules about wearing helmets are often considered overreach. One of the pleasures of motorcycles is being out in the elements: feeling the alternation of cool and warm air on your face, smelling fields and forests as you pass. The helmet is a barrier.

Likewise, the COVID-19 mask is shunned. But neither of these items of safety gear is for the wearer alone. Accidents and contagion affect many more people. This two sentence news item from Time Magazine dramatically underscores the far-reaching social consequences of ignoring precautions.

Fun loving, party hardy, macho bikers have cost society more that 12 billion ($12,000,000,000) plus spreading suffering that’s impossible to quantify.

I haven’t heard how the town of Sturgis is doing. Could it have been worth it when the economic benefits are accounted for? This is a preview and a demo of what may happen this fall. The administration continues to downplay the threat. The president and his faithful followers continue to scorn mask use. Yes, he’s grudgingly begun to appear wearing a mask, but he makes no bones about not liking it.

Meanwhile the death rate hovers at 5,000 souls a week and experts estimate it will rise from the present 200,000 total to over 400,000 in December. At one point the president and some of his staff proffered the idea of letting COVID-19 run its course so that herd immunity could develop and the people’s lives (and the all-important economy) could return to normal. The Lincoln Project has vividly panned this bad idea in a recent political ad.

The ad is over-the-top harsh, and my initial reaction was that it’s deceptive. But then I considered the president’s actions of late. He’s pressured the CDC to recommend NOT testing people who are not symptomatic. He’s holding maskless rallies in indoor venues. He’s pressured schools to open before they are prepared to do so safely. The GOP legislature hasn’t passed enabling legislation, so the Democratic Governor’s mitigation rules have been declared unconstitutional. The President routinely contradicts his own experts’ assessments of risks and the timeline for vaccine protection. And he’s attacking mail-in ballots to necessitate in-person voting at crowded polling places.

All of those acts would be consistent with a plan to reopen and briefly enjoy the election week illusion of normalcy while COVID-19 does its grim work. Although millions would eventually die, the surviving 99% would be “fine.”

… by Their Fruits

For years I’ve said that Americans are being played. The GOP convention presentations performances were worthy of P. T. Barnum: a circus of deceptions.

The Democrats focused on character: positively for Biden and negatively for Trump. The Republicans? They presented political drama with the sole purpose of reshaping our perception of reality. It was an epic of gaslighting. They ignored the crucial threat of climate change, and denied bungling the US COVID-19 response. With nobody to blame but themselves, they instead spoke as if the pandemic was already history.

As has become a pattern for President Trump, the GOP presented themselves as the future solution to a problem they have created: violent protests. Since the Nixon Administration, the criminal justice system has been the primary way that the GOP addresses the persistent problems of inequality and poverty – beat it down.

Numerous journalists and news commentators have documented how the facts don’t support the GOP rhetoric. Robert Reich and Nicholas Kristoff’s opinions are below. I’ve saved the best for last – Don’t miss Doug Muder’s brilliant analysis revealing the four big lies hidden in the many little ones that are so very obvious.

The Facts

Trump’s Record for lack of character.


Trump’s character, actually his lack of it, is clear to all except the more ardent followers. There have been almost daily revelations. Many would have been terminally scandelous in other times. McSweeney’s is a satire site. Yet the list their editors published appears to be a straight-up and credible catalog of #45’s venality. 

Years ago I challenged DJT’s followers on Facebook to contribute something, anything, they could think of that would qualify as an act of Trump altruism or selflessness in service of the public good. I have yet to receive an item. One MAGA woman said she was much too busy to enumerate them, but she was sure there were many. I did, eventually, learn of one on my own — he donates his salary of $200,000 a year as President to charity, according to the White House. We’ll let that be and not speculate on his motives. Also, we won’t calculate any offset for the emoluments and collateral revenue his properties accrue, or the compensation his family accepts. The cost of accommodating his Secret Service entourage at his Mar-a-Lago property already about equals his total pay to date. I don’t have the tab for Bedminster.

At the convention, followers sought to persuade us that the private Donald Trump was a caring and compassionate person. We are not to believe what we see in public to be truly representative of the inner man it seems.

Not surprisingly, there was no convention discussion of honesty or truthfulness. The Washington Post’s tally of false or misleading statements (“lies” to speak plainly) has passed 20,000. Have you ever heard him admit to any error or personal failing? He is big on blaming anyone but himself.

His accomplishments? Many of those listed by right-wing conservatives are regarded as grievous mistakes by those concerned about peace, integrity, equality, and stewardship.

Prior to his election in 2016 most of the leading newspapers in the US published editorials saying Trump was unqualified. He was not presidential material they argued. Many of his latterday followers at the time agreed as the Lincoln Project demonstrates. Even ex-members of his own administration agree.

Four Big Lies Concealed by all the Obvious Smaller Ones.

Doug Muder crafted a brilliant example of critical thinking and analysis that is rich in factual support and draws on many sources to validate the assertions he makes. If you are interested in seeing how Americans are being played, this post analyzes how our perception is manipulated, read it carefully,  Compare it for style and content with the opinions you see from right-leaning media. We’ll see what plays out over the next weeks of the campaign.


A group of guys I meet with every two weeks has read On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. All of them are serious people (Insurance Executive, College President, Clinical Psychologist, Landscape Architect [Viet Nam Memorial], and a Merrill Lynch executive.) Their consensus is shared alarm and fear for America. None of us are sure that DJT won’t steal the election, though we are all committed to preventing that. We know that 40%, the Trumpists, will vote Republican without thinking or even considering anything but the propaganda from GOP and Fox. The question is, how many more low information voters will be taken in?  And how many will be too confused orcomplacent to vote.

It’s not hyperbole to say that democracy is at risk.

The Doctors are worried

“Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset,”

report released this week by Johns Hopkins University.

“If the nation does not change its course — and soon — deaths in the United States could be well into the multiple hundreds of thousands.”

report from the Association of American Medical Colleges

The Washington Post article citing these two reports is alarming, but not alarmist. Here are the reports:

56110e473c024239d32c94b46fc4267e

aamc-covid-19-way-forward-road-map

Reports like these are not sound bites or off-the-cuff comments. It takes time for these organizations to arrive at these conclusions and recommendations. These doctors have been worried for months.