Posted by: SWL | September 24, 2020

Critiquing 2020 Campaign Ads – Biden, part 2

A Biden television ad stats that because of President Trump’s executive order giving a Social Security payroll tax holiday, Social Security will be bankrupt by 2023.

We have been hearing for years that the Social Security trust fund is in financial trouble. Even if it is true that the money will be gone in 3 years, it cannot possibly be only because of a four month suspension of the payroll tax.

Also, if you look into the details of Trump’s executive order, you will find that current regulations require workers to pay the tax next year. So in the end, there would be no change in the trust fund.

Trump has said that he will forgive the tax if re-elected. That’s a bribery attempt, which I personally think is unethical. But such a move would require Congressional approval, which is unlikely. And if Congress went along with the plan, they would be the ones ultimately responsible.

In the end, Biden’s ad is about 67% misleading.

Posted by: SWL | September 24, 2020

Grand Jury Says Police Did Not Murdered Breonna Taylor

The cry has been: “Say her name!”

But I can say “Breonna Taylor” without also calling for murder charges against police officers doing their job.

Taylor’s death was a mistake, a tragic mistake. But tragedies occur every day without criminal charges being filed:
* a neighbor – or even more tragic, a parent – backs up their automobile and runs over a toddler playing on the driveway
* a gun is dropped and discharges during a hunting expedition, hitting one of the hunters
* a brick falls off an old building, striking a pedestrian on the sidewalk

In each case, a family is devastated, as was Breonna Taylor’s family. People ask, why? But most people understand that bad things happen – sometimes it is an accident, other times someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Taylor’s previous boyfriend was the subject of the warrant the police were seeking to execute. He had been seen numerous times in Taylor’s company, entering and exiting her apartment. After Taylor’s death, he was arrested on drug charges.

Taylor’s current boyfriend was with her the night of the incident. He fired a weapon at the police, unsure of who was entering the apartment. The police fired back in self-defense, an act that is legal for civilians as well as law enforcement. Taylor was caught in the cross-fire.

Protestors are unjustly condemning Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who announced the results of the grand jury investigation. The “verdict” was given by the grand jury, which was made up of ordinary citizens.

If a patient dies on the operating table, the family may sue the doctors for malpractice. The case goes to a jury which examines all the evidence. They may say the doctors were negligent or that they were not responsible for the death.

In a similar manner the grand jury examined the evidence in the Breonna Taylor case and found the police officers were not guilty of any crime related to Taylor’s death.

Murder is a premeditated act. No police officer entered Taylor’s apartment with the intention to kill anyone. Protestors need to understand the facts and the laws related to what they are protesting. And NOTHING justifies protestors shooting at other police officers last night because they are upset at the results of the investigation.

Posted by: SWL | September 23, 2020

Critiquing 2020 Campaign Advertising: Biden, part 1

Update, 9/24/20:
Today President Trump gave a speech outlining his plan for American healthcare. He unequivocally stated that preexisting conditions would be covered under his plan.

Trump may have announced healthcare reform plans now because of Joe Biden’s advertising (discussed below) or because the Democrats have pivoted from Justice Ginsburg’s death being a crisis for legal abortion to being a crisis for the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – which I guess will “sell” better with voters right now.  Either way, Trump’s position is now known. If Biden is ethical, he will pull the ad.

For the past two days I have seen Joe Biden television ads stating that President Trump is trying to “eliminate protections for preexisting conditions in the middle of a pandemic.”

There have been many half truths and misleading statements in Biden’s previous advertising, but this is an outright lie.

Trump has strongly criticized the current Obamacare healthcare insurance, but when he talks of repeal, he always says he will protect individuals with preexisting conditions.

Biden’s reference to the pandemic, while consistent with his focus on COVID in his campaign, is incorrect and irrelevant. The Trump administration has been mostly silent about healthcare insurance during the pandemic, unless something is directly associated with care for virus patients. And it doesn’t matter when a debate over preexisting conditions takes place since they are not related to coronavirus.

It seems that in the middle of a pandemic, Joe Biden is trying to scare voters into thinking they might lose insurance and not get care if they contract COVID-19.

Democrat Steve Sisolak, the governor here in Nevada, has stridently criticized President Trump for holding two campaign rallies in the state last weekend.

It was reported that face masks were available at the rally entrances, but the majority of attendees chose not to wear one. We have a lot of independent, rebellious individuals in Nevada. There are stores where employees do not wear masks, in defiance of state mandate. People seem to have gotten more used to wearing masks, but there are still places I go where I am one of few wearing one.

While I am an advocate of mask-wearing and think the rallies were not the best idea, I find Sisolak’s response ridiculous. Sisolak has received criticism himself twice for being spotted out and about without a mask early in the pandemic.

But the craziest part of his response to Trump’s rallies was his interview with KOLO 8 News. During his many news conferences during this pandemic, he has always taken off his mask when at the podium. So it was surprising to see him wear one during an interview. It became downright hilarious when he remarked that Trump could have worn a mask as he was doing in the virtual interview. He didn’t need a mask to speak to the reporter via computer – or was he concerned his computer would get a virus?

After six months of pandemic, we should be over politicization and melodrama.

Posted by: SWL | June 3, 2020

Rush to Justice Could Mean Justice Denied

In Minnesota, a Minneapolis police officer was initially charged with third degree murder in the death of George Floyd. Today those charges were changed to second degree murder. The crowds of protesters in Minneapolis, and other cities across the US, have been demanding a first degree charge.

A number of former judges and prosecutors said today’s change in charges came more quickly than in most investigations. That makes me wonder if the prosecutors in Minnesota took action today to placate the crowds, hoping to quell the protests and riots.

Do the media and protesters who are praising the upgraded charges realize that this may actually not bring the justice for Floyd that they desire?

A third degree charge is somewhat like a homicide charge: proof of intent to kill and motive are not necessary for conviction. Second degree murder includes intent to kill. It will be difficult to prove in the attempted arrest of George Floyd that the officer intended to kill Floyd. The officer did not know Floyd or seek him put specifically. If the officer is acquitted, will the protesters take to the streets again?

I understand the anger that fuels the call for the most severe charges possible against the police officer. But if justice is to be served, realism and logic must replace idealism. Idealism fuels the American dream of and drive for justice and equality for all. But rules and regulations, and concrete evidence run the justice system. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to choose between the two.

Posted by: SWL | April 30, 2020

Reopen Economy, But With Caution

In the past two weeks, there have been protests in 20 states over coronavirus business closure and stay-at-home orders. While there are businesses and individuals with legitimate concerns because they have lost their livelihood, and all Americans have the right to protest, there are questions about the wisdom or legitimacy of some gatherings.

First, in many locations, protestors have not kept six feet apart and many are not wearing masks. Just because they have the right to assemble, does not mean they should endanger others. With rights come responsibilities. It will be sad if in two weeks time there are spikes in virus cases in locations where there were protests.

Also, some protests are being hijacked for other purposes. In news reports I’ve seen protestors’ signs with “No 5G” and “Texans won’t take the mark of the beast” among others not related to coronavirus. Both liberals and conservatives are guilty.

There is some wishful thinking or ignorance going on about the “reopening” in some states tomorrow. Not every location will be opened at once. For businesses allowed to open right away, there will be limits on the number of customers inside at any time, all employees may not be brought back and many customers may not return right away amid continuing fear of the virus spreading.

Customer confidence is probably the most important. While the protests are getting significant news coverage, they represent a small portion of Americans. Surveys report two-thirds of Americans are concerned about reopening the country too soon.

And that thought is emphatically stated by most medical professionals. Many speak in terms of statistics, some are more emotional. One nurse said he couldn’t imagine getting back to normal when he is still seeing so much pain and death every day.

Protestors need to remember that the multiple needs of the majority of citizens must all be considered. They can also trust that with a president who is as impatient as they are to get the economy moving, it will happen as soon as possible, maybe even too soon.

Posted by: SWL | April 15, 2020

Trump Has No Power to Order States to Reopen

I’ve heard President Trump make exaggerated claims before, but his statements Monday were totally wrong. In weeks past, Trump has made the general comment that in this national emergency he has broad powers. But Monday he insisted he alone would say when the country will reopen, “authorizing” each governor to act.

But the President did not declare a national stay-at-home order or the national closure of any businesses. He specifically said he would not tell all states to ask citizens to stay home because each state has differing rates of infection and hospitalization. Governors have decided which emergency steps to take in their states, which is the proper constitutional procedure. Even to acquire federal disaster funds, each individual state must declare a state of emergency.

So without any national declarations, Trump does not have any policies or orders to rescind to get back to normal. That’s up to the governors for the same reason of differing affects from the virus.

Maybe Trump should have issued national orders given the varied, and sometimes ridiculous, classification of which businesses are essential. But he didn’t do that, so he’s just going to have to allow governors to continue making decisions even if it takes away an opportunity to promote himself.

Posted by: SWL | April 15, 2020

Is That Really an Essential Business?

I am amazed at what is considered an “essential” business in some cities or states during the coronavirus shutdown.

Several locations consider liquor stores essential. Some people joke that they need a drink to get through the boredom of staying home. But anti-abuse organizations are concerned about increased domestic violence with families living so closely for extended periods – and drinking alcohol can exacerbate that problem.

Marijuana stores, in states where the drug is legal, should not be considered essential, at least not for recreational use. The same arguments apply here as with liquor stores. If medical marijuana is considered essential, it could be handled easily. Identification is required for recreational or medical purchases, so it is not out of line to ask for IDs at the door, only allowing those with medical cards to enter stores. Here in Nevada, pot shops can operate only with delivery service. That policy seems ripe for abuse. Can identity and legal age be 100% verified? How secure are the drugs while being driven around town?

Pretty much everywhere, elective surgeries are being postponed. In Texas, Governor Abbot said that includes abortion, with an exception for a mother’s health. Planned Parenthood filed for an injunction. If delaying a procedure will not kill or cause permanent physical harm to the body, it is elective. While some may say timing is important in abortion, not having one will not kill the mother – if death is a threat the procedure will be allowed.

Probably the silliest instance was yesterday’s declaration by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that sporting events will now be essential, because they are crucial to the state’s economy. WWE immediately said they would resume their wrestling matches, although without spectators.

While it is a financial hardship for any business to close for weeks, it is important to limit people’s trips outside their homes to prevent the spread of the virus. That includes those buying and employees going to work. “Essential” must be limited to those businesses that are necessary for supplying people’s nutrition, sanitation and medical needs.

Posted by: SWL | March 20, 2020

It’s About Survival Not Stimulus

The media needs to stop making fun of Americans’ reactions and government’s response to coronavirus infections across the US. Two specific cases really annoy me.

* As people prepared for possible restrictions on their movements or quarantine, the first things to disappear from store shelves were hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Most television anchors laughingly made the comment, “Since this is a respiratory not intestinal virus, why do they need toilet paper?” I guess it was a joke, but not very funny. Most of us have no trouble understanding why people would need extra toilet paper if they couldn’t leave their homes for weeks (although the hoarding has gotten out of hand).

* When government first floated the idea of sending “stimulus” checks directly to citizens, anchors asked the Congressmen to whom they were speaking, “How will that stimulate the economy if people can’t go to stores to spend the money?” That seems either ignorant or antagonistic. People could use these proposed funds to pay their rent to keep a roof over their children, the electric bill so they can stay connected with the latest news while home from work or gasoline if they work in an essential business. Right now government should be concerned about survival for many lower income workers, not stimulus for the economy.

If the media wants to periodically lighten the mood of their coronavirus coverage, they should skip the personal opinions and poor jokes, and run more of the great stories of kindness during this crisis. There are college students here in Nevada picking up and delivering grocery orders for seniors – free of charge. Family members are finding creative ways to communicate with seniors in care facilities. Some businesses that can afford it, continue paying employees after the businesses are closed by local governments.

The media would serve Americans better during these difficult times by dropping the insulting humor and offering detailed information and hopeful stories.

Posted by: SWL | March 20, 2020

Gabbard Finally Suspends Presidential Campaign

Yesterday Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii finally suspended her campaign for the Democrat presidential nomination. What took so long?

Gabbard never won much more than 1% in any primary or caucus, yet officially stayed in the race longer than Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who won or tied the Iowa caucus (depending on who’s counting).

There was certainly no political advantage or leverage for her continued campaign. Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) made quick exits and endorsements of former Vice-president Joe Biden weeks ago, which would give them better positions to become Biden’s VP choice. Gabbard gained nothing by waiting when she clearly wasn’t making any gains with voters.

She has said she will not run for Congress again. Hopefully she doesn’t have any further political ambitions because her extended presidential campaign made her look foolish.

Posted by: SWL | February 4, 2020

Did You Even Hear About Shootings on Feb. 3?

Yesterday there was a shooting on the campus of Texas A&M. Two people were killed. There was also a shooting on a bus heading from LA to the San Francisco area that left one dead, five injured.

Yet the NCB Nightly News did not report on those events until after new and rehashed information about President Trump’s impeachment and Rush Limbaugh’s announcement that he has lung cancer. The CBS Evening News did not mention the shootings at all.

I am stunned that the news media has so little respect for the lives of those who died and those injured. We’ve been hearing the same sound bites concerning impeachment for months; surely the tragic loss of life deserves to be mentioned before more partisan rhetoric from Washington. We have become so used to hearing about shootings that it is hardly news anymore. What a sorry mess US culture had become.

Wow! The Democratic Party has a lot of explaining to do! Nineteen hours after the Iowa Caucuses, only 62% of the results are available.

They promised their new technology would give us more details about the results. But reports are that coding problems with a new app are part of the delay.

A caucus is much different than an election, but these problems still damage voters’ confidence in the overall electoral process. The Russians are probably laughing, “We don’t need to do any hacking to make Americans question voting results. The Democrats are doing the job for us.”

It has been a number of years since either team cheered for in my house (San Francisco, Green Bay) has been in the Super Bowl. So we went overboard with snacks for the big game: SF style garlic fries, pig in a blanket, crackers and cheese . . . We couldn’t even eat it all! Unfortunately, the food was the highlight of the game.

I was glad to see Niners RB Tevin Coleman on the field. I was concerned the separated shoulder he suffered in the NFC championship win would keep him sidelined. But his participation in this game was not enough for victory.

All season the SF defense has been the team star, making the job of the offense easier. Although I am not a technical expert, I thought the defense did not look as sharp in this game as they had in the past 3-4 games of the season. But I don’t want to make excuses for SF that take away from the skills KC exhibited in staging their fourth quarter comeback.

My spouse sometimes says of the Packers that they caused the loss of a game, rather than that the opponent won. That was not the case with the Super Bowl. The Chiefs and Niners were closely matched, the lead changing hands throughout the first three quarters. This season both teams have come from behind to win games. But Sunday Kansas City had the stamina to handle the pressure of the final quarter better than San Francisco.

Of course, I am sad my team lost. But we have lots of tasty left-overs to enjoy! And I remind myself that, while watching the NFL is great fun, in the end it is only a game. So I’ll put away the SF team flag until autumn, knowing next season should be another great one for the Forty-Niners.

The San Francisco Forty-Niners are heading to the Super Bowl!

After they beat the Green Bay Packers to win the NFC Championship, the song “Don’t Stop Believing” blared from the PA system in Levi Stadium. Appropriate, since some of us are still having difficulty wrapping our minds around the spectacular season the team had after last year’s disaster.

The first couple of wins seemed like lucky breaks to me. But as time went on I could see the consistent strength of the defense and the growing confidence of QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

Watching a healthy team play the last three games makes me think they could have had a perfect or near-perfect record if not for a number of mid-season injuries to key players like TE George Kittle. They lost RB Tevin Coleman in the championship game, but the offense continued to operate in fine form.

I watched most of the Titans-Chiefs game; Kansas City’s comeback was impressive. But after seeing the Niners stop Aaron Rodgers and the Pack, I am looking forward to seeing San Francisco do the same to the Chiefs on February 2 in Miami.

Posted by: SWL | September 21, 2019

Global Climate Strike Has No Realistic Action Plan

Millions of people across the globe, most of them students taking a day off, participated in a “global climate strike” Friday.

Based on my university education in geography-climate and subsequent research, I believe any climate warming is part of a natural long-term cycle. In that case, protesting against it is useless. But let’s just ignore my opinion for now and look at how silly Friday’s event still was if examined holistically and with an open mind by a true man-made climate change believer.

The goals on the climate change protest organizers website are not realistic. One goal is using 100% green energy by 2030. Ten years?!!! All nations putting all their money and the efforts of their entire workforce toward this goal would not accomplish it in 10 years. There is not the capacity to produce that many electric cars (which require fossil fuels to build) or enough charging stations. And electric vehicles are not practical in isolated or less developed areas of the world. This goal would also require the transformation of trucks, planes and boats that deliver consumer goods to people.

Then there is the problem of finding locations for and building enough solar and wind farms to meet this goal. It is still not known if there are enough areas with consistent wind and sunny days to provide for all the needs of just the US. (And bird and bats deaths are a concern.) Transmission lines – constructed (probably in China) with steel manufactured with fossil fuels – would need to be built from solar/wind rich areas to those without those natural resources. Would building all the green energy infrastructure in 10 years produce more emissions in the short-term than allowing development to continue on its current course?

Many protesters’ signs said adults are stealing their future. Again, they need to look at the details. These extreme eco-plans will literally steal their future earnings. It has been estimated that the cost of any of the climate plans of Democrat presidential candidates (most of which include items similar to climate strike goals) would require our federal income taxes to double. Maybe students in developed nations, with hope of a good paying job in the future, are willing to have a smaller home, take no vacations that require flying and forego the newest cell phone, but people in the developing world cannot afford to have their current meager earnings taxed more.

I appreciate the idealism and energy of young people, but they do not have enough life experience to understand the implications of their demands.

Fifteen-year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden is credited with starting this student movement. She has been staying out of school each Friday for two years to protest climate change. Maybe she should stay in class to learn more so she has the knowledge to find solutions to the problems she sees. But instead she greatly enlarged her carbon footprint by flying across the Atlantic Ocean to speak to protesters in NYC. A totally committed eco-warrior would never do that.

That highlights another problem. Many of those touting pro-environment policies, from casual protesters to professional environmental organization staff, expect everyone else to conserve, but carve out exceptions for themselves. When I was a Girl Scout leader, girls often parroted school teachers’ pollution warnings, but threw away recyclable items. Offshore wind farm plans have been scuttled in the northeast US – where people are usually very eco-conscious – because the towers might affect residents’ ocean views. US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio both promote extreme environmental policies, but drive private vehicles when public transportation is available nearby.

News reports of the Friday protests show many students taking video with cell phones. How many of them get a new phone every few years? Do they know that most of their phones and other electronics are recycled in unsafe conditions in third world countries, often by kids who do not get an opportunity to skip a day of school because they do not even have access to an education?

U.S. emissions are down to the level they were in the 1980s. Developing nations are the biggest polluters. (China’s emissions are more than the US and the European Union combined.) But rather than preaching to (or making demands on) other countries, helping improve people’s everyday lives in these places will do more to cut pollution than government directives. Wealthy nations should help provide an education for those kids who currently cannot go to school, provide more agricultural aid so people have enough to eat, and help governments vaccinate their people against diseases already eradicated here. An educated workforce can network with developed countries’ economic infrastructure, good agricultural techniques keep farmers from burning the rainforests, healthy people are more productive. And that allows families and governments to move beyond mere survival to development, which can be eco-friendly with assistance from Western nations.

Young climate strikers could learn from the old adage “be the change you want to see”. Protesting is not change, it is just noise. My advice to them: pick up trash regularly, recycle everything you can, limit the number of electronic devices you own and keep them longer, feed the hungry in your community, sponsor a third world child’s education (World Vision is one of many great organizations with sponsorship programs), write often to your local and federal officials, join the Peace Corps, and choose a college major in a field that can bring environmental change. If half of Friday’s protesters did these things, we would have a better world pretty quickly.

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