Friday, January 13, 2023

Republicans lie and use a Questionable Statistic to Measure Effectiveness of Border Security Efforts

In my regular job, I am both lucky enough and unlucky enough to have thousands of metrics and statistics on the performance of my teams to sift through. When you are presented a set of data regarding something you are trying to measure, you need to think through what is being measured and what it is actually telling you because it is very easy to misuse or misinterpret statistics.

Republicans, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, use the statistic of number of Border Apprehensions per year to determine the success or failure of an administration regarding immigration. There are a lot of problems with using this stat which I will get into in a moment, but let's assume, for now, that this is the best statistic to use.

If it is a good statistic to use, then the most successful President in recent times in terms of dealing with immigration is Barack Obama. Furthermore, Donald Trump made the issue worse after Barack Obama's successes. This is all shown on the graph below, border apprehensions were high under George W Bush, at historic lows under Obama and increased under Trump and then increased further under Biden.

Something tells me this is not the message Republicans hope we take away from all of this. 

Let's start with the discussion of why this statistic doesn't say what Republicans think it is saying.

First, let's acknowledge that the number of arrests for a crime is something local police departments count as a metric of success. If a precinct is having issues with robbery, for instance, you want to see a lot of robbery arrests in that precinct. That means the police are doing what they are supposed to be doing to deal with the problem, arresting those who commit that crime. 

The President is responsible for law enforcement at the Federal level, and he is responsible for border security and other types of national security. 

The letter Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent to Biden accused Biden of being for open borders because of the large number of border arrests of people coming across the Southwestern border. Doesn't that mean the opposite of what Abbott is saying? Isn't that like accusing police of not caring about robbery because they have been arresting a lot of people for robbery?

If Biden was for open borders, he would direct the US Border Patrol to not arrest people coming over the border. It doesn't get any simpler to understand than that. The statistic that Republicans are using disproves the very thing they are trying to say. 

I think it is impossible for something this simple to understand to have escaped the staff of Republican elected officials. I am sure that even if Abbott couldn't figure this out himself, that his staff have explained this to him.

In short, Republicans who are elected officials and conservative pundits know they are lying when they use this statistic they way they have been using it. 

Like so many issues, Republicans don't actually want to solve it, and have no shame in lying about it, they just want to use it to try to score political points against Democrats.

For those who might care about what is happening, the increase in arrests is explained by two things. First, migrants who wanted to come to the US from March 2020 to the end of 2021 could not do so because of border restrictions relating to Covid. So, there was a huge pent-up demand in people trying to come to this country. 

Now you might be saying, if they are coming from Mexico, the additional restrictions on the border from Mexico to the US shouldn't have presented that big of an obstacle. 

Exactly! There is a second phenomenon at play here. For the first time ever, more migrants are arriving in the US via the Southwest border from countries other than Mexico or the northern triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (see graph below). So in order to get here, they had to pass through multiple borders, each of whom had Covid restrictions between the dates I mentioned above. It was simply too difficult to do so. Now that everyone has relaxed restrictions, people are trying to come again in huge numbers, and they are getting arrested in the US when they try.

For those interested, the majority of people coming to the US from other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries are coming from Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and Nicaragua. This complicates efforts to expel them, more can be read about that here:

Dealing with this problem is a complex issue, but don't go to Republicans expecting an honest appraisal of the situation. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Key moments of the degeneration of the Republican Party that got it to the batshit crazy state it is in today

Republicans are doing a bit of soul searching after their dismal efforts in Election 2022. Here are some key moments in the deterioration of that party that led it to where it is today:

1964 - Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater implements the Southern strategy wherein the Republican Party stokes the tensions of whites in the south who are upset about desegregation and the civil rights movement. Racists in the south (and no, not all white southerners are racist by a long shot) who had been Democrats up until this time, became solidly Republican over the next 16 years. 

1980 - In his Presidential Campaign, GOP nominee Ronald Reagan brings lunatic evangelical Christians and other extreme Christian sects into the Republican Party by adopting a firm anti-Abortion stance and paying lip service to various other Christian values. Pope John Paul II sells out and helps move many Catholics into the GOP. Christianity in the US is warped as a result, giving up its advocacy for the poor and its insistence on kindness and non-violence to support trickle down economics and a militant Republican foreign policy, and the Republican Party is warped as a result eschewing a reasonable approach toward many issues for religious extremism. 

1980-1988 - Reagan abandons standard fiscal conservatism creating the first massive deficit spending in the US since the Second World War. Republicans will play lip service towards debt and deficit issues after this, particularly when Democrats are in charge, but will never act to do anything about them. (The only President that has balanced the federal budget since 1972 is a Democrat, Bill Clinton.)

1980-1988 - Reagan abandons traditional isolationist Republican foreign policy to run an aggressive interventionist and militant foreign policy. Reagan invades the island of Granada and provides massive support for Nicaraguan contra rebels in violation of a law congress enacted (The Boland Amendment) to specifically limit aid to the contras. Reagan provides support to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan so they can fight off an invasion by the Soviet Union. The Mujahideen would largely evolve into the Taliban that exists in Afghanistan today that sheltered Al Qaeda during and after the 9/11 attacks.  For the first time during the Reagan administration you hear the idea in the Republican Party that the state department should be abolished and foreign policy should be run out of the Department of Defense, a view many of them still have today.

2003 - Following the advice of a group-thinked cabal of neoconservatives called the Project for the New American Century, George W Bush invades Iraq without justification in an attempt to remake the Middle East into American style Democracies. This fails miserably.

2008 - Republicans are shellacked in elections that bring Democrat Barack Obama, the first Black President into the Whitehouse and also ushers in veto proof Democratic majorities into both houses of congress. Groups of Republicans begin to think they need to go on a listening tour of America to rethink Republican policies but are vetoed by none other than Rush Limbaugh who in March of 2009 takes to the airwaves to say “We don’t need a listening tour.” Thus an effort to remake Republicanism into something they get from reaching out to grassroots voters to find out what the voters want,  is squelched.

2016 - Republicans nominate and elect Donald Trump. No further explanation needed.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Election 2022 or as I call it: The Great Republican Gaslighting Exercise


Prior to this year, if you were to tell me that there would be midterm elections in the US where the Unemployment rate is down at 3.7% (basically full employment), the gross national product has increased every quarter of the current congressional session indicating an expanding economy and that the party out of power, Republicans in this case, would be successful at painting the Economy as “bad” I would have laughed at you. "There is no way that could happen" is what I would have said.

US Annual GDP Rate

Yet, here we are.

Republicans reading this are, I am sure, by this point shouting at the screen saying “Inflation!” “Inflation!!!!!!!!!!!” Yes, there is inflation. I will get to that shortly, but that is only one datapoint of many economic indicators. Historically in the US If the economy was expanding, i.e. the GDP growth I talked about earlier, and unemployment was low, we would all be calling that a good economy, which it is.

So, understanding that we are talking about economy where the top two indicators show it to be a good economy, let’s talk about inflation, the one aspect of the economy that isn’t where we would hope it would be.


Since the late 1960s, the Annual US Inflation rate has ranged from less than -2% in 2011 (deflation is generally an indicator of recession) to over 14% during the oil crisis of the late 1970s. It averages somewhere around 3 to 4 percent. The annual inflation rate in 2021 was 7% and it is currently at about 8.2%. Generally when we are talking about high inflation, we are talking about double digit increases (10%) or higher. We would prefer a lower inflation rate, but rates under 10% are not very high.

More germane to this election is, why is inflation high and should Democrats be held responsible. I can take your through this, but, spoiler alert, the answer is it is high because of what Trump and Biden (and congress during their Presidencies) did and had to do to right the economic ship after Covid, and no the Democrats and Biden should not be held responsible.

Let’s talk about my Covid assertions above. First, let’s remember, virtually all of the governments of the world shut down their economies for about six months due to Covid in mid 2020 and for the six to twelve months after that, the economies ran at a fraction of their pre-Covid output. So that is twelve to eighteen months of very low economic output, no money being earned by companies or people, factories not having orders and not producing, essentially very few goods and services being produced. If you had told me prior to Covid that something like this would happen, I would expect at a minimum that we would experience an economic depression in its aftermath with unemployment at 25% and persisting that way for some time and other severe economic impacts. After all, people still have to pay their rent and mortgage. Where was that money coming from? What would happen to banks if mortgages wouldn’t be paid for 6-18 months. How would companies keep employing people? How would people buy food? How would people pay for electricity, internet, phone, etc if they weren’t being paid? The government had to prop all of these things up for hundreds of millions of people.

It says something that the governments of the world were able to take action and prevent a complete collapse of the economies given those circumstances. And what is it that the US and other governments did to prevent this collapse? They injected trillions of dollars into the economy. After March of 2020 and up until the end of his Presidency, Trump injected three trillion dollars into the economy to shore it up during and after this shut down of the economy. In the beginning of his Presidency, Biden injected another three trillion dollars into the economy. Now, as I indicated, the fact that the economy could be salvaged at all in the US and elsewhere given the circumstances is still surprising to me. But if you think you can inject that kind of money into an economy that isn’t producing goods and services and not have some specific expected impacts, particularly where inflation is concerned, you don’t understand economics. In fact, most brokers on Wall street were predicting massive inflation in Fall of 2020 regardless of who won the Presidential election since both Biden and Trump were promising additional rounds of large stimulus were they to be elected. It was understood by both parties and their economic experts that this would be required to keep the economy going.

So one large component of the inflation we are experiencing globally, not just in the US is because governments had to rescue the economy after Covid. In fact, the US is experiencing less inflation that most of the other large developed countries. Here is a graph of the inflation by commodity group of the other G7 countries. They all are experiencing inflation, as expected, but the US is generally doing better than the rest of the group.


Also imagine, if you will, all this money that had been injected into these economies, but there weren’t many goods and services to spend it on. Factories took a long time to spin up again and get to full production. Shipping companies had to get their container ships up and working again sailing the pacific from Asia to the US and other routes. So you had all of this money and not many goods and services, that is a recipe for inflation and governments couldn’t do too much about that.

I would be saying this regardless of who had won the White House in 2020. It is a miracle that the economies of the US and the other countries of the world did not fail completely in the wake of the Covid shutdowns. Disruptions to entire economies on the scale of what we saw with Covid are rare. In fact I am not sure anything like that has happened since the industrial revolution ended in the mid 1800s.

It is completely bizarre, given the circumstances, that anyone is blaming the party in power for inflation. I suppose if you know absolutely nothing about macroeconomics, if you don’t even understand that adding tons of money to an economy without adding goods and services will mean inflation, then I guess it might be understandable. I find it hard to believe that people are that ignorant of economics. For sure, Republican and Conservative pundits who are selling this to grassroots voters know better, they just don’t care that they are lying. That isn’t a surprise to me, that’s how those folks operate.

If it goes like the polls are predicting, this will be the first time in American history that a party with positive GDP growth and an unemployment rate this low will be punished by losing congress. And it will happen because of ignorance.

Monday, October 10, 2022

The Herschel Walker saga is the latest example of how religion and politics poison each other

 How Politics poisons Religion

Once a religious group decides it is in bed with a political party or political leader, it must accept all the ways that party or person differs with that religion’s values. For instance, in terms of Evangelical Christian and the Republican Party:

  • ·         Christianity talks about how one should help the poor and that being rich makes it hard to enter heaven. Republican values empower the rich to get richer and are not just indifferent but outright hostile toward efforts to help the poor. Christians who support the Republican party and its candidates are forced to overlook this.
  • ·         The death penalty is an obvious problem for Christians. But the death penalty is part of the Republican party platform. Christians who support the Republican party and its candidates are forced to overlook this.
  • ·         The Republican party does not believe in funding universal healthcare. Reagan famously pulled funding for state mental health facilities resulting in the hordes of mentally ill homeless people we see on the streets of major cities today. Prior to Reagan, those people would have been off the streets and in mental health hospitals getting the treatment they need. There is zero doubt where any of the Abrahamic based religions, Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, stand on this. According to each of those religions we should be helping the sick. And frankly, the atheistic/agnostic/humanist position is in complete agreement. It is horrible for a society capable of doing so not to help the sick. Christians who support the Republican party and its candidates are forced to overlook this.
  • ·         Abortion. This is poisoning in both directions. So, Christians are anti-abortion. But when Republican politicians like Walker and Trump have either had one or pressured their paramours to get one, Christians must overlook it and support the candidate anyway. Usually you hear the pathetic justification “Oh, they prayed for forgiveness so it’s OK” as in “Abortion is bad! Abortion is bad! Walker and Trump pressured someone to get one? Oh, well, I am sure they prayed and were forgiven.” Of course, that consideration would not be given to a Democratic candidate in the same position, even if they somehow provided proof that they prayed for forgiveness.

How in turn Religion Poisons Politics

  • ·         Since Reagan brought the evangelical Christians into the Republican Party, you have had a host of candidates like Walker with questionable credentials and questionable conservatism, but they call themselves “Christians”, so they get nominations instead of someone who is smarter and better represents conservative values. It’s no surprise that the death of intellectual conservatism started with Reagan. You no longer have Republicans in the party like Jack Kemp or William F Buckley. The smartest Republican of the last 20-30 years, Jon Huntsman Jr, a Conservative with a track record of economic and foreign policy experience and talent, got no traction at all in the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination process. Why, because he isn’t a religious zealot who wears his religion on his sleeves. These polls of party identification and education and religion over time show what has happened: the Republican party has become more religious and less educated and the Democratic party has become less religious and more educated.
  • ·         Abortion. Conservatism, particularly the Libertarian side of it would say that Government should keep its laws off human bodies and their decisions. You see them saying that when it comes to vaccines and masks (along with a heavy dose of science denialism and anti-intellectualism). But Republicans are forced to support laws against their values when it comes to abortion to placate the Christians they accepted into the party.

Those are just the examples that come to me off the top of my head without a lot of research. I am sure we can come up with more. This is all an example of how power corrupts. The saying goes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I would say that religion and politics are two sources of power that when combined corrupt each other absolutely.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is a wake-up call. Pandemics happen & we need to be prepared

Among major disasters that can potentially affect large percentages of the human race, few are as regularly recurring and as able to be mitigated as pandemics. In the 92-year period from 1918 to 2010 alone there were five influenza pandemics:

Image may contain: 1 personSpanish flu (1918–1920)
Asian Flu (1957–1958)
Hong Kong Flu (1968–1969)
Russian Flu (1977–1978)
H1N1/09 Flu Pandemic (2009–2010)

So, we know they are coming and there are more pandemics than just those caused by influenza viruses as we are now discovering.

We are currently in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic as declared today by the World Health Organization. The World Health Organization has extensive literature and guidance on how to prepare for and respond to epidemics and pandemics. There is no reason for the countries of the world to not be prepared, but we were unprepared and that needs to change.

Covid-19 is a serious concern. It is more infectious than the flu, current estimates are that it is twice as infectious as the flu, and its mortality rate seems to be several times higher than with the flu pandemics of the last 100 years. The World Health Organization's last estimate of its mortality rate is 3.5% whereas the 1918-1920 influenza epidemic had a mortality rate of 0.9%.

At the same time we are very lucky. Children do not seem to experience serious infection by Coronavirus. The mortality rate for a pandemic could just as easily be 10%, 30%, 70% or more. If we experienced something like that in our current state of preparedness, we could lose significant proportions of the global population and the disruption afterwards to the economy, infrastructure and global supply chain could take years or even decades from which to recover.

That is why, once this crisis is over, it will be time for the globe to focus on exactly what to do once a pathogen seems to be on its way to becoming a pandemic. There should be several well thought out scenarios with triggers depending on infectiousness and mortality rate. Something like Covid-19 or worse should, among other measures, prompt a rapid shutdown of non-essential air travel, cruise travel and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for any people traversing international borders. Had that occurred towards the beginning of the crisis, we would likely not have had the virus spread even remotely as much as it has. There should also be stockpiles in each country of the medical supplies and equipment one might need in such a situation to include standby space to house the sick while they are receiving treatment. 

One of the concerns right now is that few if any countries have the ventilators, ECMO and intensive care equipment and facilities in necessary supply that might be required to give all those who become afflicted with the more serious forms of Covid-19 a chance to survive. There are also not enough respiratory therapists to treat those who will need these kinds of treatments nor can you train respiratory therapists quickly enough. This specialty requires a minimum of 2-4 years of training.

All of these types of concerns should be addressed quickly after the current crisis has abated. WE must do this planning. We know these pandemics are coming. We are paying for our lack of preparedness this time around. Let's not let this happen again.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

We remember John McCain as the Senator from Arizona, but he should have been the 43rd President

Historians will have a lot to go over when they ponder the life of Senator John McCain who passed on Saturday after a valiant struggle with brain cancer.

He is one of the people with whom I would have loved to sit down and have an off the record conversation. There are dozens of pieces of history he was connected with that I would have wanted to discuss with him. One of those that had a pivotal impact on history was the lead-up to the 2000 South Carolina Republican Presidential primary.

You see Senator McCain had just beaten George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary. He had momentum and was expected to win the South Carolina primary. Had he won South Carolina, he would have all but wrapped up the Republican nomination for President. We all remember what happened in the 2000 general election. George W. Bush lost the popular vote but won the electoral college by the slimmest of margins 271-266 and then only on the strength of the 25 electoral votes via the (ahem) disputed vote in Florida which he only won officially by 527 votes.

McCain, a much less polarizing figure known for reaching across the aisle, would almost certainly have been a better general election candidate and would have likely won the election in a much more convincing fashion. But, let’s for a moment return to the 2000 South Carolina primary. What was it that stopped McCain’s momentum and gave George W. Bush the victory in that state that turned around the race for the Republican nomination?

It turns out this is one of the ugliest moments in intraparty politics. The Bush campaign attacked McCain with three nasty and untrue rumors. First, they spread a rumor in South Carolina that McCain had been a traitor in Vietnam. Second, they insinuated that McCain’s wife Cindy was a drug addict. Worst of all, the Bush campaign engaged in race baiting, asserting that McCain’s then 9 year old daughter Bridget, who was adopted from an orphanage in Bangladesh and fairly dark-skinned, was in fact the product of an extra-marital liaison with a black woman.

As I stated earlier, all other things being equal, without the dirty tricks by George W. Bush’s campaign, McCain wins the South Carolina primary, the nomination and, I believe, the election and becomes the 43rd President of the United States instead of George W. Bush.

Then how history might have diverged becomes interesting. I ruminate on the following on occasion:
  • If a President McCain had been warned that bin Laden intended to attack the United States, as Bush was warned, does he ignore the warnings like Bush did? To refresh your memories, on August 6, 2001, President Bush received a CIA report about al Qaeda and the possibility of airline hijackings. This was 36 days before 9/11. By 2000, McCain had served 13 years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, an assignment befitting his prior service to this country. Part of his daily work concerned thinking about military and other threats to the country and how the senate should help the President deal with those threats. I do not believe he would have taken the August 6th briefing as lightly as Bush did.
  • Would a President McCain have lied us into war in Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11? Part of the reason George W. Bush invaded and deposed Saddam Hussein was out of a sense that his father had not finished the job in Iraq. McCain had no such baggage. That is besides the fact that as many issues about which I disagree with Sen. McCain, I don’t get the sense he was a liar. He might have still gone to war in Iraq (although I don’t think so) but if he did, I think he would have been straight with us about the reasons why he thought we should. Some might think it doesn’t matter, but I think it matters a great deal. In the aftermath of that war, when no WMD were found, the US became known as a country that went to war and invaded other countries without justification. Another term for this, the international legal term for this is, “An unprovoked war of aggression”. This is a war crime according to international law. If McCain was President, I believe the US does not commit this war crime.
  • Torture. Does anyone believe that a John McCain, who suffered torture for 5 ½ years at the hands of the North Vietnamese, would authorize/instruct the intelligence agencies and armed forces of the US to engage in torture? We don’t really have to guess, when Bush administration torture policies came to light, McCain was the most vigorous critic of the policies on the Republican side. McCain famously said regarding waterboarding “It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture,” McCain spoke out against all so-called enhanced interrogation methods. The US use of torture is a stain on the reputation of this country that should never have happened.
Obviously, as a Democrat, my preferred outcome, if I could go back in time and change history with regards to the 2000 election, would be to have Gore seated as President. I still believe Gore was cheated and was the real winner of Florida if all ballots had been fairly counted. But the country is worse off because before he got the chance to cheat Gore, George W. Bush secured the nomination via dirty tricks against John McCain. McCain was also denied his rightful place in history as the 43rd President of the United States.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alan Colmes and being the Liberal on Conservative media shows

I was shocked when I received a google alert that Alan Colmes had passed. I knew he wasn’t what many of us would consider to be “old”. I wasn’t aware of his struggles with Lymphoma. I offer my condolences to his wife and family to include his sister in law, Monica Crowley, against whom I have faced off several times on different shows.

The coverage in the aftermath of Alan’s passing was predictable to me because like Alan, I am one of “those Liberals” who regularly faces off against conservative media personalities on what is considered right wing media. I know the controversy that causes among fellow Democrats and Liberals. I would have easily predicted articles like the one from Slate’s Isaac Chotiner who reductively referred to Colmes as “Buffoon and Patsy, Was Fox News’ Original Liberal Weakling” along with various other superficial and nasty missives.

Silly criticisms like Chotiners are the gig if you are a Liberal who goes on those shows. Some Liberals just don’t get it. Many do, and I am thankful for those that do but I’m really surprised that like Slate’s Chotiner, there are so many who don’t.

What’s the “it” to get? I think Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast summed it up best:

Ellis Henican, who has often substituted as host on Colmes’s nightly Fox Radio Network show, especially as the latter succumbed to illness in recent weeks, said such critiques—and they were numerous—reflected a misunderstanding of Colmes’s role in the political cosmos, especially from mid-1996 to January 2009, when Colmes co-starred as the progressive voice on the eponymous prime-time cable program.

“Being a liberal commentator on Fox is like being the visiting team; the audience, by and large, doesn’t agree with you, your co-host doesn’t agree with you, most of the guests don’t agree with you, so you live with the daily challenge of needing to perform in front of an audience that is not inclined to like you,” Henican told The Daily Beast. “You can’t just shout. I would tell the people who felt he was not sufficiently bombastic to go see how well they would do if their technique in front of an audience like that is just to be a bigger asshole than the other guy.”
“You have to use other techniques—you have to use humor, you have to use charm,” Henican said. “You have to learn to twist a question in some unexpected way. If you don’t, you’re gonna get run over like a freight train. That was both Alan’s talent and his challenge.”

I’ve told people who ask me about my appearances that the first thing you must ask yourself about appearing on Conservative media as a Liberal is, if you decided to go on, what would you be trying to accomplish? Everything about whether to accept and how to deal with the challenge flows from how you answer that question.

For me, the answer to that question was and always has been, is there a possibility for me to move the needle? Can I handle my appearance such that someone who disagrees with the Liberal viewpoint on an issue might have their mind changed by what I say and how I conduct myself? It doesn’t have to be a ton of people, just a few, a handful. That’s how change happens, a few minds changed at a time.

I think Alan had the same reason for appearing. At least it seemed so to me when I had that internal discussion and determined how I was going to comport myself on those shows. It really is obvious once you look at it that way. As Daily Beast’s Grove quoted Ellis Hennican, “Being a liberal commentator on Fox is like being the visiting team; the audience, by and large, doesn’t agree with you, your co-host doesn’t agree with you, most of the guests don’t agree with you, so you live with the daily challenge of needing to perform in front of an audience that is not inclined to like you…You can’t just shout.”

That’s right and it’s hard to understand how any thinking person wouldn’t immediately come to that conclusion. Shouting louder or being a jerk isn’t going to convince anyone who disagrees with you. I’ve never had my mind changed by someone acting like a jerk, why would I think that if I acted like a jerk that I would be more convincing? On the contrary, the more off-putting you conduct yourself, the less likely that anyone who disagreed with you at the onset of your appearance is likely to put serious thought to anything you had to say. When you are trying to convince someone who disagrees with you, you have to give them as few reasons to tune you out as possible. 

And let me also say that I follow discussions in the Conservative blogosphere where my appearances are discussed. While the majority of the discussions are what you might expect, i.e. variations of "I hate Leser that Liberal SOB blah blah" there are also after each appearance typically a number of of, "Well, I checked out what he said about X and that is kinda true. He's still a Liberal so and so, but he was right about X." And that is why I do what I do with all the challenges and criticisms.

If your reason for appearing on Conservative media as a Liberal is to vent your frustration with the right wing and the hosts and you don’t care about convincing anyone, then sure, yell, shout, scream, be rude. I’ve known a few folks who have done that. They have the video of their lone appearance as a keepsake (they were never invited back) and they re-watch the video every now and then and get a chuckle, but they didn’t accomplish anything. Two hours after their appearance, no one ever thought about them again.

I find an interesting contrast in people who only go on shows where the audience and host and everyone else generally agrees with them. I’ve gone on Liberal shows and I enjoy that too, but what’s the purpose of only appearing in front of people who agree with you all the time? What are you changing by doing that? Why would anyone celebrate those people and instead offer only criticism for those who share their ideology but go on “the other guys” shows to try to change minds? Perhaps it really is as simple as people who offer that criticism just don’t get it.

My goal is to try to change people’s minds. That, in my opinion, is the only worthwhile reason for a Liberal to appear on Conservative media. I believe that is what Alan was trying to do as well. Alan was much more patient about it than I am. I listened, for instance, to a few segments of his radio show where he would have conservative listeners call in and he would patiently listen to them and try to convince them of his viewpoint. I never did that with my radio show. I’m gearing up to relaunch it in the coming months, perhaps as a tribute to Alan I may try more on air discussions with Republican listeners. Perhaps. As I said I am not that patient.

Alan probably changed minds during his appearances, not millions of minds at a time or even thousands or perhaps even hundreds, but I would bet dozens at a time, sure. That is something that every Liberal should be celebrating. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Imagine the Reverse of Friday Evening's News and Hillary had won the election after Putin Intervened on Her Behalf

I read today’s (12/9/2016) bombshell news in the Washington Post about the CIA’s assessment that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, intervened in the US elections to try to help Donald Trump and after taking that in for a few minutes, I had an amusing thought. What if the reverse had happened? What would that be like now?

It’s funny to me because as a Liberal/Democratic pundit, I have for years faced off on camera against Republican pundits over every over-engineered scandal they have tried to manufacture against President Obama, Hillary, and other Democrats. Republicans are experts at making mountains out of ant hills (or out of nothing at all) never mind mole hills. What would they do if presented instead with an actual mountain, to continue the metaphor, as we have now?

If Putin had sent GRU, SVR and other Intelligence Service descendants of the KGB out to do whatever they could do to help Hillary as it seems he has done to help Trump and after she won evidence of that came out as it has now, the outcry from Republicans and their friends in the conservative segments of the media would be deafening.

Republicans in the House would already be drafting articles of impeachment, Rush Limbaugh would spend three quarters of every one of his daily three hour shows talking about it. Every Republican elected official from county executives to mayors all the way up to congressmen and senators would be going in front of cameras saying Hillary is disqualified as a President and she should say she will not take the oath of office and that the electors should vote for the other candidate. My conservative pundit friends would be analyzing the scandal from every possible angle during every segment of every show on conservative networks.

This news is big stuff. A militarily strong foreign power that has been behaving antagonistically towards the United States for the last 3-5 years has meddled in our Presidential elections to try to get their preferred candidate elected and that candidate won. Who is to say what effect that meddling had? A mere 80,000 votes spread out over three states, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, determined the outcome. That’s not a lot of votes at all. Did the role the Russian’s played in WikiLeaks, hacking, and publicizing the DNC’s emails and other efforts to make Hillary and the Democrats look bad influence things enough to turn 80,000 votes in those states?

That is a question that everyone should be thinking about because 80,000 votes spread out over three states can change if a candidate trips while walking up the stairs or other similar trivial campaign occurrences. It is a very small percentage of the vote totals. Virtually anything that happens during a campaign can move the vote totals by that much. So, I would argue yes, the meddling by Putin did play a factor in Trump’s victory.

It gets better. The Washington Post reported that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, the highest ranking Republican elected official at the time, threatened the Obama administration that if they released the information about Putin’s efforts to meddle in the election before election day, he would come out and call the Obama administrations statements “an act of partisan politics”. McConnell, in effect, worked to deny the American public a vital piece of knowledge they should have had in making their decision for whom to vote.

The other question that should be on everyone’s mind is, why does Putin want Trump to win. What advantage does Putin think he gets from that and why? I have many issues with Putin and the things he does and says. What I would never say is that Putin is stupid. He is a very smart guy. The actions he takes are very deliberate and he has a clear objective in mind when he takes them and he considers all possible consequences and factors them in. Meddling in our election is a very risky thing to do. First one must consider what might happen if his meddling is discovered before the election. Second, what if it is discovered and his chosen candidate loses. What kind of relationship would he have with the new President?

Whatever Putin thinks he gains from a Trump Presidency he believes is worth all those risks. That fact should greatly concern every American.

I will be very interested to see the response to this from grassroots, and elected politicians and pundits from all parts of the political spectrum. I know what the reaction would be like if the situation was reversed.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Team Trump's chilling harassment and threatening of Megyn Kelly before possessing real power is a frightening preview of what is likely to come.

Threatening journalists and attacking or killing them is, or at least has been, one of the things we Americans point to regarding third world dictators and other oppressive regimes as justification of why our system of government is so great in comparison. The State Department and other Executive Branch agencies complain about those kinds of governments and their practices and try to influence them to change their ways, well at least up until now.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are important values for Americans and central to the rights afforded to us in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Megyn Kelly is one of the most prominent political personalities in media today and she has the support of the top folks of a powerful network behind her. Trump and his team went after her and harassed and threatened her. They encouraged their supporters to harass and threaten her.

The fact is that despite all the help and resources supporting Kelly, her last year was something that sounds to me like a nightmare. What will happen to those in the media who criticize Trump who don't have the kind of support and protection behind them that she does?

The question that every member of the media is now asking themselves is, once inaugurated, when team Trump is upset with a journalists coverage, will they engage the security services of the country against them? When I write of security services, I am referring to the FBI, CIA and NSA. Is there any thinking person out there who thinks that kind of abuse of power and disregard for Constitutional freedoms is beyond team Trump? Does anyone think it is beyond Trump himself? I would answer no to both questions.

This would be yet another piece of evidence supporting the idea that Trump is leading the country into oppression, hate and Fascism. If this starts to happen, Americans need to quickly mobilize to stop it.


See the full interview of Megyn Kelly here where she details even more about her harassment by Trump himself and members of his campaign leadership team and his supporters: