A suspect has been arrested in connection with the bombings. The suspect, according to The New York Times is “Cesar Sayoc, Jr.,56, a registered Republican, [who] has a lengthy criminal history in Florida dating back to 1991 that includes felony theft, drug and fraud charges, as well as being accused of threatening to use a bomb, public records show.” Up-to-the-minute reports can be found here on CNN.
1. We heard our readers, and we listened! You want more good news up front. OK, we are trying. In the Georgia voter-suppression case, one of the methods used to deny voters’ absentee ballots has been enjoined by a federal judge. As reported by The Washington Post, “A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Georgia election officials to stop summarily tossing absentee ballots because of mismatched signatures, delivering a crucial win to voting-rights advocates — and to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — less than two weeks before Election Day.
“The ruling resulted from two lawsuits filed earlier this month after election officials in a single Atlanta suburb, Gwinnett County, rejected hundreds of absentee ballots with signature discrepancies, missing addresses or incorrect birth years.
“The plaintiffs, including the ACLU, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Coalition for Good Governance, argued that allowing non-expert election officials to judge the validity of signatures without giving voters the chance to contest the decisions amounted to unconstitutional voter suppression….
In other good news…. We are coming up short, so you may wish to scroll down right now to the cute cat videos, #11, below.
2. Of course, as our readers have heard, pipe bombs were sent to the homes of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and George Soros. The headquarters of CNN were evacuated after a bomb addressed to John Brennan was found there. The Florida offices of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz were also evacuated after a suspicious package was found. A suspicious package was directed to Congresswoman Maxine Waters at the congressional mail center and a second to her LA office. Then came Joe Biden (who got two) and Robert DeNiro. Then on Friday came word that bombs addressed to James Clapper at CNN and another to Corey Booker were found at New York and Florida mail facilities. In the afternoon, Trump critic and billionaire Tom Steyer confirmed he has received a bomb as well. That is 13 bombs, as of Friday afternoon.
You will have heard this news from many sources. It made headlines on Wednesday all around the world.The Toronto Globe and Mailhere: “Explosive devices were sent to former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as to CNN’s offices in New York, sparking an intense investigation on Wednesday into whether a bomber is going after targets that have often been the subject of right-wing ire.” The UK Guardianhere: “‘Potential explosive devices’ sent to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama:
Discoveries were made after an explosive device was found at the home of George Soros, and CNN evacuated its New York office.” In Paris, le Monde had the headline here: “Potential explosive devices sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and CNN editorial team.” In Frankfurt, the front page of Frankfurter Allgemeine blared, here: “Bombs to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and CNN. The Secret Service discovers potential explosive devices to the former president and his foreign minister before they achieve their goals. The headquarters of the television channel CNN in New York will be evacuated.” [Our Translations–Ed.] It made big headlines as far away as Sydney, Australia, where (at 4 a.m. their time) The Daily Telegraph reported, here: “A SERIAL bomber is suspected of sending at least five mail bombs to prominent liberal American figures including former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as key Democrat critics of President Donald Trump.”
The Telegraph also reported that “Conservative political commentator and American talk show host Rush Limbaugh alluded to the idea the plot was set up by Democrats, saying they would serve a political ‘purpose.’” [emphasis added]
Some US news outlets have also reported on conservative conspiracy theorists promulgating this view. Lou Dobbs, on Fox Business news also tweeted about “fake news,” and “fake bombs,” as reported on CNN here.
Our point is that this was shocking all over the globe, and it reflects new concerns, clearly, about the growing violent rhetoric in the American midterms.
We hate to harp on a truism, but authoritarianism and fascism do not only speak violently; they also require a level of violence, actual or threatened.
Let us be clear: neither this editor nor the leadership team of this organization claims that we are living in a fascist state. But we are clearly menaced by fascist forces in our own country as never before in our lifetimes. And these forces have broadcast mechanisms undreamt of by a Father Coughlin or an Ezra Pound.
As Paul Waldman wrote in Wednesday afternoon’s Washington Post, “We don’t have to look for clues about whether the person responsible has a MAGA hat, or what their party registration is. We don’t have to assign direct blame beyond a reasonable doubt.
“But what we can say is this: Given what Trump has done and said, this was absolutely predictable. In fact, it’s a wonder that it took this long. [emphasis added]
Watch the moment that the CNN fire alarms went off. And CNN anchors Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow explain how they got back on the air after evacuating CNN’s New York office.
We bring you now, as perhaps the best commentary we can find, an op-ed in Wednesday’s New York Times by Alexander Soros, son of George. He writes, “On Monday afternoon an explosive device was delivered to my father’s home north of New York City. An alert member of our staff recognized the threat and called the police. Fortunately, the authorities were able to detonate the device safely. On Wednesday, the Secret Service said it had intercepted similar devices sent to the offices of former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“We are all grateful that no one was injured, and grateful to those who kept us safe. But the incident was profoundly disturbing — as a threat not just to the safety of our family, neighbors, colleagues and friends, but also to the future of American democracy.
“My family is no stranger to the hostilities of those who reject our philosophy, our politics and our very identity. My father grew up in the shadow of the Nazi regime in Hungary. My grandfather secured papers with false names so that they could survive the onslaught against Budapest’s Jews; he helped many others do the same. After the war, as the Communists took power, my father escaped to London, where he studied at the London School of Economics before embarking on what ultimately became a hugely successful career in finance.
But the lessons of his early life never left him. His biggest philanthropic endeavor, the Open Society Foundations, played a leading role in supporting the transition from Communism to more democratic societies in parts of the former Soviet Union and then expanded to protect democratic practices in existing democracies….
“Something changed in 2016. Before that, the vitriol he faced was largely confined to the extremist fringes, among white supremacists and nationalists who sought to undermine the very foundations of democracy.
“But with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, things got worse. White supremacists and anti-Semites like David Duke endorsed his campaign. Mr. Trump’s final TV ad famously featured my father; Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve; and Lloyd Blankfein, chairman of Goldman Sachs — all of them Jewish — amid dog-whistle language about ‘special interests’ and ‘global special interests.’ A genie was let out of the bottle, which may take generations to put back in, and it wasn’t confined to the United States.
“I am under no illusion that the hatred directed at us is unique. There are too many people in the United States and around the world who have felt the force of this malign spirit. It is now all too ‘normal’ that people who speak their minds are routinely subjected to personal hostility, hateful messages on social media and death threats….
“We must find our way to a new political discourse that shuns the demonization of all political opponents. A first step would be to cast our ballots to reject those politicians cynically responsible for undermining the institutions of our democracy. And we must do it now, before it is too late.” [emphasis added] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/24/opinion/george-soros-mailbox-bomb.html
3. A. In election news, as we approach the big day, we have this report from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. They still project a likely Democratic win in House elections. Yet there is one oddity in the polling. Silver explains: “Just in time for the Nov. 6 election, President Trump is posting some of the best job approval numbers of his presidency. His approval rating is currently 43.1 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight average, the highest it’s been since March 2017. His disapproval rating is 52.0 percent, so let’s not get too carried away — the president is still unpopular. But his numbers are moving in the right direction.
“Republicans have been moving in the wrong direction in our House model, however. The three different versions of our model — Lite, Classic and Deluxe — each show slightly different results, but they all have Republicans at or near their all-time lows. GOP chances of retaining control of the House are down to 14 percent (about 1 chance in 7) in the Classic model, our default version. The Lite version, which is based on polls alone and doesn’t account for factors like fundraising, is slightly less bearish, putting Republican chances at 21 percent (about 2 in 9). But that’s still as low as they’ve been all cycle.
B. And in a long report on Tuesday, The New York Times counsels some caution about the coming Blue Wave. The odds may be good, but it is still possible that things like low voter turnout, or a concentration of Democratic votes in non-swing districts, will keep the Democratic House total down. “While Democrats remain favored to pick up House seats in the Nov. 6 midterms, which historically produce losses for a president’s party, many of the 70 most competitive House races are now exceptionally close. Polls show a majority of registered voters lean Democratic, and Mr. Trump’s favorability ratings dragged along the low 40s before rising in recent weeks. Democratic turnout could continue to break records — yet it could also be concentrated in predictable Democratic strongholds rather than crucial swing districts.
“Lost in all the talk about a Democratic blue wave is a set of sober reality checks — from the quantifiable to the emotional — that may help Republicans reduce their losses, and possibly even retain their 23-seat majority. In many neighborhoods with key House races, daily life is pretty good. Unemployment is at a five-decade low. Confidence is spilling over among consumers and businesses. The economy is on track to grow at its fastest pace in years. [emphasis added]
“Those developments benefit people whom Democrats have targeted, too: Women in upscale, right-of-center, white suburbs where Hillary Clinton edged out a victory; Trump voters in struggling rural and industrial areas with deep Democratic roots; and minorities in racially diverse metro areas. While the president looms large over this election, drawing out both opponents and supporters, local issues like school funding or mining are in the forefront of some races.” No need to despair; but also no need to be overconfident and stop working to get out the vote! https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/us/politics/democratic-house-midterms-blue-wave.html
4. Just in time for Halloween, the Trump Horror Show of shock-and-awe campaign rallies continues. And continues to deepen in horror. We can only give a flavor of the lies and irrational scare tactics being thrown about in naked disregard for even common decency by a president of the United States. We begin with the fear-mongering over a perceived invasion of the country by a terrorist mob of immigrants in that caravan heading toward our border, a mob said by a president of the United States to be encouraged by Democrats.
A. On Tuesday, The New York Times offered a report of the Trump rally in Texas for [the senator-formerly-known-in-the-primaries as “Lyin’”] Ted Cruz. “President Trump on Monday sharply intensified a Republican campaign to frame the midterm elections as a battle over immigration and race, issuing a dark and factually baseless warning that ‘unknown Middle Easterners’ were marching toward the American border with Mexico. [emphasis added]
“The unsubstantiated charge marked an escalation of Mr. Trump’s efforts to stoke fears about foreigners and crime ahead of the Nov. 6 vote, as he did to great effect in the presidential race. Mr. Trump and other Republicans are insistently seeking to tie Democrats to unfettered immigration and violent crime, and in some instances this summer and fall they have attacked minority candidates in nakedly racial terms.”
The Times and other newspapers report that in the bizarro world of conservative talk, the caravan has become an obsession. “The caravan has dominated conservative talk radio and Fox News, where there has also been loose speculation about a link to terrorism. [emphasis added] The apparently groundless inclusion of ‘unknown Middle Easterners’ to the caravan echoes Mr. Trump’s longstanding practice of amplifying fears about Islamic militants on the campaign trail.
For what it’s worth: “President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his unsubstantiated assertion that ‘unknown Middle Easterners’ are traveling in a migrant caravan traveling north to the United States from Central America, but admitted ‘there’s no proof of anything.’ ‘They could very well be,’ Trump reiterated during a bill signing in the Oval Office, referring to Middle Eastern individuals embedded in the caravan. ‘I have very good information.’’’ So reported CNN Tuesday evening. https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/23/politics/donald-trump-proof-unknown-middle-easterners-migrant-caravan/index.html
As The Washington Post’s Max Boot says, “President Trump has made clear who he views as his core supporters: nativists with memory issues. [emphasis added] Once again, there is a caravan of Central American refugees heading toward the United States, and once again the president is acting as if the barbarian hordes were at the gates. He has even made up, out of thin air, accusations that suspicious Middle Easterners (read: terrorists) are mixed in with the desperate men, women and children fleeing crime and poverty. This is an absurd insinuation that is refuted by all the reporters who are covering the caravan and also by U.S. intelligence.
“There is even less cause to imagine, as Trump suggests, that the Democrats (read: Jewish financier George Soros) must be paying these pitiful souls to flee their homes and walk thousands of miles on foot. [emphasis added]; see B. below] Perhaps the refugees are coming here because they want to collect the free automobiles that Trump — also falsely — claims that the Democrats are eager to give to illegal immigrants? But Trump doesn’t need any facts to fuel his fear-mongering. With his typical understatement, the president tweets: ‘Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. [sic] Must change laws’!” Boot points out that the last caravan petered out, and the Border Patrol then caught “all of 11 people linked to the caravan trying to enter the U.S. illegally. Another 244 or so migrants presented themselves to U.S Border Patrol offices to ask for asylum – as is their legal right.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2018/10/23/trumps-latest-exercise-in-fear-mongering-is-the-most-shameless-yet/
B. Perhaps more startling is the frank admission by Trump that he is a “nationalist.”He may not fully understand the full meaning of term. But the context makes that unlikely. As The Huffington Post summarizes, “In one of the more jarring moments from President Donald Trump’s campaign rally Monday night, he proudly declared himself a nationalist.
“’It’s called a nationalist,’ Trump said during his Houston rally when rebuking globalist foreign policy. ‘And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? I’m a nationalist.’
“It’s clear he knows the word is loaded. In its mildest implication, Merriam-Webster defines it as a belief system ‘placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations.’ But it’s been prominently used by white supremacists in recent years to emphasize that some countries or regions should be defined by a white racial identity ― a trend Trump is well aware of given the rise of news about the ideology during his presidency.” https://www.yahoo.com/news/why-donald-trump-declaring-himself-201818973.html
Equally disturbing is how Trump doubled down on the racial overtones of the term, contrasting himself with “globalists.” As Politico put it: “Trump’s remarks followed a rebuke of ‘globalists’ whom he accused of putting other nations’ interests ahead of those of the United States.
“The words ‘nationalist’ and ‘globalist’ — both loaded terms with sometimes sinister implications — have made their way into the popular political lexicon since Trump ascended to the White House. The former can refer to the promotion of self-governance and one country’s interests. But it has also been associated with the ‘alt-right’ movement, which is broadly supportive of the president’s agenda but has occasionally been accused of harboring white supremacist tendencies. Andthe latter label, which can imply a more economically connected world of multinational alliances, is sometimes employed by racist commentators on the internet in a conspiratorial sense as a euphemism for Jewish people.” [emphasis added] We can only here say, “uh, oh,” and move along quickly. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/22/trump-nationalist-926745
Again, it is just possible that Trump really does not know what he is saying. It would not be the first time. On Tuesday evening, Politico reported that “President Donald Trump on Tuesday doubled down on his self-characterization as a ‘nationalist,’ rejecting claims that the word is code for ‘white nationalist’ and adding that he meant he supported American economic interests over those of other countries. ‘I’ve never heard that theory about being a nationalist. I’ve heard them all,’ Trump responded to a reporter who asked if the word was code for white nationalist.” [emphasis added] https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/23/donald-trump-nationalist-934498
But how have actual, living White Nationalists taken the remark? In The Nation online on Tuesday, Joan Walsh reports that “White nationalists applauded Trump’s rhetorical turn, according to the folks at Right Wing Watch. [emphasis added] Gab, the social media site that hosts white supremacists who are too toxic for Twitter, called Trump ‘stunning and brave’ to ‘come out of the closet as an American Nationalist,’ while the site’s CEO pronounced ‘the Overton Window [the range of acceptable discourse] is officially smashed.’ Pizzagate fabulist Jack Posobiec, who used to pal around with white supremacists like Richard Spencer, announced on Twitter that he was ‘an American nationalist like President Trump.’ Ann Coulter saw it as proof Trump was ‘sounding like Breitbart’ again, just in time for the midterms.” https://www.thenation.com/article/trumps-midterms-strategy-is-fear-lies-and-white-nationalism/ Of course, they could just be reading into it….
5. As if the above were not bad enough…. Well, how much further you choose to read depends on your level of tolerance for despicable news. Recall, first, that true fascism needs to invoke violence at some point. We had just that last week, in Trump’s disgraceful rally in Montana. You may have heard. But you may wish to read some press reaction.
Here is how The Guardian reported on Trump’s praise for the Montana congressman who assaulted one of their reporters last year. Greg Gianforte was fined $385 and sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management (he now serves in Congress). “Donald Trump has praised Greg Gianforte, the Congress member from Montana, for violently attacking a Guardian reporter, saying that someone who performs a body slam is ‘my guy.’
“Trump described in glowing terms the physical assault that occurred on 24 May 2017when Ben Jacobs, the Guardian’s political correspondent, asked Gianforte a question about healthcare policy in the course of a special congressional election in Montana. The US president incited cheers and chants from a crowd of about 8,000 supporters on Thursday night when he said: ‘Greg is smart. And by the way, never wrestle him. You understand. Never.’
“Trump’s comments mark the first time the president has openly and directly praised a violent act against a journalist on American soil. [emphasis added] It comes as the White House is under intense domestic and international pressure over Trump’s refusal to condemn Saudi Arabia despite growing evidence that its leader, the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the decapitation and dismemberment of the journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi….
“In a statement, the Guardian US editor, John Mulholland, said: ‘The president of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian. To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the first amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it. In the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world where they often face far greater threats. We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the president will see fit to apologize for them.’” [emphasis added] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/18/trump-greg-gianforte-assault-guardian-ben-jacobs
6. A. Overall, the week was one of the most shocking of the Trump presidency, and that is saying a lot. One thing many media agree on is the sheer breadth and depth of the lies being promulgated, to adoring audiences. As The New York Times’s editorial board headlined, “Donald Trump Is Lyin’ Up a Storm.” They summarize, “As is so often the case, Mr. Trump is not letting reality interfere with his performance. At a rally in Nevada this weekend, the president told the crowd that Californians were rioting to ‘get out of their sanctuary cities.’ (They aren’t.) He also suggested that Democrats will soon be looking to hand out free luxury cars to illegal immigrants. (They won’t.) ‘Give ’em a driver’s license. Next thing you know, they’ll want to buy ’em a car,’ he riffed. ‘Then they’ll say the car’s not good enough, we want — how about a Rolls-Royce?’” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/opinion/editorials/transgender-trump-lies-midterm-election.html
C. Even more embarrassing is how we look to our neighbors and allies. Just for one example, here is Daniel Dale in The Toronto Star: “Democrats will kick seniors off their health insurance. Democrats will end insurance protections for people with health problems. Democrats will destroy the Social Security retirement system. Democrats will give illegal immigrants free cars. Democrats will abolish America’s borders. Democrats are behind the latest migrant caravan from Latin America. That caravan includes people from the Middle East.
D. Indeed, says Joan Wash in The Nation, “Trump is lying so much and so blatantly that even major newspapers and cable stations (besides Fox) are actually beginning to call his false statements ‘lies.’ On Tuesday morning a CNN chyron read: ‘Trump sells lies and stokes fears before election.’ The Washington Postran down the ‘fear and falsehoods’ he’s peddling, chief among them this evidence-free claim about the members of the caravan: ‘You’re going to find MS-13, you’re going to find Middle Eastern, you’re going to find everything.’ On Monday Trump challenged reporters to take cameras down to the caravan, and guess what—major news networks and papers already had reporters there, and they say they’ve seen no evidence of Middle Easterners or MS-13 members. But still he lies.” Her article, referenced in #3 above, is titled, “Trump’s Midterms Strategy Is Fear, Lies, and (White) Nationalism.”
E. It may just be our penchant for reading the “liberal press,” but it seems as if columnists are having trouble this week coming up with original titles. Here is The Times’s Frank Bruni on Tuesday: “The Republican Strategy? Fear and Lies.” Bruni actually has an amusing opening: “If I listened only to Donald Trump and those Republican candidates who follow his example, I would be petrified. I would be living in a bunker. I would have cyanide capsules at hand. [emphasis added; actually, some of his listeners are and do–Ed.]
“I would be convinced that the scattered protesters disrupting some Republicans’ meals were the advance guard of a violent liberal mob about to wrest control of the country. I would worry that the Democratic Party was secretly trying to elect terrorists and traitors to the House and the Senate. And that caravan of migrants — I would see that, too, as some nefarious Democratic plot, or as a Trojan horse with jihadists in its belly. Either way, I would recognize it as the end of the world: Armageddon in the hunched form of a pregnant Honduran woman limping toward the only hope that she has.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/opinion/republican-strategy-fear-lies.html
7. A. Though the press has covered this story, it has tended to be swamped by other horrors of the week. As if our domestic discord were not scary enough, it now appears we are on the verge of another arms race. Perhaps this fear is why the following has not been as noted as it might have been: the withdrawal of the US from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the INF. Rather than renegotiate the treaty in light of new facts on the ground, uber-hawk John Bolton has gone to Moscow to announce our complete withdrawal. Here is how The Washington Post reported the story on Tuesday: “National security adviser John Bolton held firm Tuesday to President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from a landmark arms control treaty in place since the Soviet era. Bolton said the United States would present ‘in due course’ an official notice leaving the treaty limiting intermediate-range nuclear weapons. [emphasis added]
“He also echoed Trump’s assertions that Russia is violating the pact, suggesting that no progress was made to ease the impasse during Bolton’s two days of talks with top Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin. Bolton’s comments seemed sure to disappoint Germany and other U.S. allies in Europe that have urged Washington to work to overcome disputes with Russia rather than walking away from the treaty entirely.
B. In Germany, which is closer to the consequences of the withdrawal, the news made headlines. They are attempting to see hope in the future. Frankfurter Allgemeineheadlined, “Putin wants to talk directly to Trump about nuclear weapons contract.” They say, “In the tense Russian-American relationship, Bolton’s two-day visit to Moscow was the most intense contact since the Trump administration took office in early 2017….
“German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) called on the United States to closely coordinate further action with European partners. In a telephone conversation with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo, he recalled on Tuesday, according to the Foreign Office, that the Agreement on the Prohibition of Medium-Range Atomic Weapons touched the core interests of European security architecture.
“Putin proposed the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in Paris on November 11, as a meeting place with Trump. ‘Of course it would make sense to continue the direct dialogue with the American President in the context of international events that will take place in the near future,’ said the Kremlin chief according to Russian media reports.”
So the hopes of the world for limits on the arms race will depend on a meeting between Trump and Putin.
C. And on Wednesday, The New York Times editorialized, “’Getting Tough’ Over a Missile Pact Could Weaken America. If President Trump withdraws from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Russia could expand its arsenal freely.” The editorial board points out, “But much has changed since [the treaty was enacted], and on the face of it, junking the treaty might seem reasonable. In 2014, the Obama administration accused Russia of violating the treaty by testing and deploying a cruise missile of illegal range…. So if Russia and China are barreling ahead with medium-range missiles, couldn’t the United States? ‘You can’t play that game on me,’ Mr. Trump said on Monday, declaring that he was prepared to outspend Russia and China on nuclear weapons ‘until people come to their senses.’ [emphasis added]
“One reason is that in Europe, American defenses against Russia are largely air- and sea-based, and fully in keeping with the treaty. The United States has no similar missile available to counter Russia’s SSC-8, and if it did, it would be hard-put to find a European ally willing to host it. But the United States does have many other weapons with which to defend itself and its allies, and at any rate, the Russian missiles, said to be located far from the European border, do not affect the military balance on the Continent, experts say.
“So ripping up the I.N.F. would let Russia openly build up its land-based arsenal as much as it wants, far beyond what it has done while pretending to abide by the treaty. If the United States follows through on the president’s threat of a costly buildup, Russia can loudly blame America for starting a new arms race, and America will be further distanced from its allies.” [emphasis added] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/24/opinion/trump-russia-inf-putin-bolton-china-missiles-.html
8. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration is considering eliminating the Obama-era definition, “transgender,” as a class under Title IX. This would have enormous implications in the treatment of transgender students, who would no longer be a protected class, and would be forced to use facilities corresponding to their birth sex. The paper reports, “The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.
“A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.
“Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times….
On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that disagreements within the administration may prevent the rules change from being proposed: “The Health and Human Services Department has been pushing for the change, a fresh and direct aim at transgender rights, hoping other departments embrace that approach for sweeping impact. But it is unclear whether there is support for the broader effort or whether the regulation would be issued at all, as some in the administration are pushing back.”
9. It has been said that the large number of Obama voters who switched to Trump is evidence that race was not a motivator in Trump voters’ choice. A new study casts doubt on that theory, suggesting that the Obama voters who switched had voted Democrat despite their racial attitudes. This is just one study, but it is worth a look. From a report in Vox, “One of the most puzzling elements of the 2016 election, at least for a lot of Americans, was the millions of voters who switched from voting for Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016. Somewhere between 6.7 million and 9.2 million Americans switched this way; given that the 2016 election was decided by 40,000 votes, it’s fair to say that Obama-Trump switchers were one of the key reasons that Hillary Clinton lost.
“The existence of those voters has served as evidence that the most plausible explanation for what happened in 2016 — that Trump’s campaign tapped into the racism of white Americans to win pivotal states — is wrong. ‘How could white Americans who voted for a black president in the past be racist,’ or so the thinking goes….
“A new study shows that this response isn’t as powerful as it may seem. The study, from three political scientists from around the country, takes a statistical look at a large sample of Obama-Trump switchers. It finds that these voters tended to score highly on measures of racial hostility and xenophobia — and were not especially likely to be suffering economically. ‘White voters with racially conservative or anti-immigrant attitudes switched votes to Trump at a higher rate than those with more liberal views on these issues,’ the paper’s authors write. ‘We find little evidence that economic dislocation and marginality were significantly related to vote switching in 2016.’”
10. Progressive ideas, in the right circumstances or historical moment, can suddenly take flight: think of the legalization of gay marriage in many countries across the western world. Now we have the cries in the US for universal health care. But what exactly is meant by “Medicare for All”? Actually, there is no clear answer, though there are many approaches to universal health care. An interesting analysis appeared in the Sunday New York Timesby Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal and Shefali Luthra. Rosenthal was an emergency room doctor before becoming a journalist. Ms. Luthra is a correspondent for Kaiser Health News.
They write, “some worry the terms ‘Medicare for all’ and ‘single payer’ are at risk of becoming empty campaign slogans. In precise terms, Medicare for all means bringing all Americans under the government’s insurance program now reserved for people 65 and over, while single-payer health care would have the government pay everyone’s medical bills. But few are speaking precisely.
Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, said, ‘People read into ‘Medicare for all’ what they want to read into it.’
“For every candidate with a clear proposal in mind, another uses the phrases as a proxy for voter frustration. The risk, some critics say, is that ‘Medicare for all’ could become a Democratic version of the Republican ‘repeal and replace’ slogan — a vote-getter that does not translate to political action because there is neither agreement about what it means nor a viable plan….
“Yet experts suggest voter support may not withstand warnings of tax increases or changes to employer-sponsored insurance. A 2017 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that support for Medicare for all dropped when respondents were told that their taxes might increase or that the government might get ‘too much control over health care’ — a common Republican talking point.
“The broader goal — affordable, universal health care — could be achieved by a range of strategies. For models, we can look to nations that have generally achieved better health outcomes, for less money, than the United States.” [emphasis added]
The authors then study the systems in Canada—which has universal insurance supplemented by some private plans—and Britain—which has true single payer, with the government owning hospitals and paying doctors. Some European countries have maintained an insurance system but tightly regulate prices and keep insurance costs down by requiring citizens to buy in (supporting those who cannot). Read the details, and learn about the options for achieving universal coverage, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/opinion/sunday/medicare-single-payer-health-care.html.
11. The true heroes of the Internet are, of course, CATS! As promised last week, here are some cat videos to help you laugh all your cares away (we admit we have contributed to those cares immensely with the news of the week). Our favorite: cat in sink. Note a couple of things: cats seem to get the best of the dogs. And the guys are also really good with cats: which is true in our experience, though they hate to admit it. Click on the link, or on the thumbnail below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRXJXaLV0n4
12. Sean Casten and Peter Roskam (R-IL-6th) debated for about 20 minutes in a forum with Carol Marin on Chicago Tonight (WTTW), on October 22. You can watch the episode by clicking on this link, or click on the thumbnail : https://www.pbs.org/video/oct-22-2018-full-show-syod9m/.
13. And on October 24, Lauren Underwood spoke to Carol Marin on Chicago Tonight. Randy Hultgren (R-IL 14th) was invited to attend the forum, but he did not attend. So Underwood spoke on the issues for the full 20 minutes. You can watch the episode by clicking on this link, or click on the thumbnail: https://www.pbs.org/video/oct-24-2018-full-show-pj0kuo/.
14. Check the results of a New York Times Live Poll of the Casten-Roskam race! In a Live Poll, you watch the website as a map and chart shows you where calls are being made, in real time. The results are continuously updated as the responses come in. The more responses, the more accurate the poll, so the smaller the margin of error. The poll may last a few more days. But as of Friday morning, ± 5%. Responses so far: 489 answers / 50,412 calls. This is fun to watch and bookmark to keep coming back to: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/upshot/elections-poll-il06-3.html.