Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Trump Is Not Able to See Facts That Are Inconvenient

How hypocritical at worst, or clueless at best, for President Trump to say after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country … something has to be done.”

He is the person who has as President elevated hate in this country to never-before-seen levels.  He has either directly promoted hate and fear, as towards immigrants and towards his opponents and those who criticize him, or condoned it, as in the case of the Charlottesville alt-right rally.  

The result is a documented increase in hate crimes since his nomination.  As the midterm elections approach, he has ratcheted up his tirade against both immigrants and foes in an effort to mobilize his base.  And people are responding at his rallies with an almost feverish fervor.  And unfortunately also action.  There's been the mailing of pipe bombs to people who Trump routinely lambasts for their criticisms of him, and now the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue by a rabid alt-right anti-semite.

For Trump not to see the connection between his constant tirades and the rise of hate in our country is an example of his refusal to take responsibility for his actions, unless of course they result in something he likes taking credit for.  He doesn’t want to see himself as a person who spreads hate, but that’s exactly what he does.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Bring Sanity and Social Purpose to the Lottery

Lotteries were begun to meet the funding needs of state governments, mainly in the area of education.  That narrow focus, meeting state funding needs, continues to be the objective.

It is past time to broaden the focus to one that includes improving the financial wherewithal of as many people as possible, thus providing a greater boost to the  economy.  As it stands now, one person wins a jackpot, which depending on the lottery can run from several million to the recent Mega jackpot of $1.5 billion.

First, that is more money than a reasonable person/family needs, even over time.  We have seen over and over again over the years how people’s lives have been ruined by the sudden flood of money.  People don’t know how to handle it.  And vultures defend to take advantage of the situation.

Second, the concentration of all that money in one person does nothing to help the economy.  It would be far more beneficial if many people received, say,  $300,000.  Spreading the money out would provide a greater boost to the economy.

Third, spreading out the wealth would make a beneficial difference in more people’s lives.  And since the amount would be manageable it would be beneficial.

The argument will probably be made that the current system draws the most money for the state because people salivate at the possibility of winning these huge sums.  But if the game was changed, allowing more people to win and thus increasing the chances of winning, even thought the prize would be more modest that would be a huge draw I believe.  But even if the amount received by the state were somewhat reduced, injecting some social purpose into the lottery would be worth it.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Collins' Tragic Error on the Kavanaugh Vote

Part of the tragic error of Senator Collin’s thought process is that the issue and the hearing was not part of a criminal process concerning the guilt or innocence of Judge Kavanaugh.  It was about whether he should become a Supreme Court Justice.  

Therefore the maxim “innocent until proven guilty” is not relevant.  The fact that Ms. Ford’s accusations were not corroborated (in this brief, woefully inadequate, investigation) is not relevant.  If she was a credible witness, which most agree she was, then that at a minimum raised a doubt about whether Kavanaugh in fact did assault her.  Her charge was only refuted by Kavanaugh himself and his friends.  

That measure of doubt should have been enough to keep him off the Supreme Court.  The image of the Supreme Court is of critical importance to its effectiveness in our system of government.  That she felt that the FBI investigation had been adequate is hard to understand. Then there is the matter of Kavanaugh's apparently lying under oath about the extent of his drinking and his decidedly unjudicial demeanor at the hearing.

All together this should have resulted in Senator Collins deciding that regardless his credentials and his other qualities, he should not be elevated to the Supreme Court.

Then there is the Senator’s confidence in Kavanaugh’s judicial thinking.  Senator Collins explained carefully that from her conversations with him she was confidant that he would not overturn Roe v Wade.  He felt that the case was settled precedent.  She also felt he would not throw out Obamacare.

How foolish of Senator Collins!  How many times have lawyers/judges used legal double speak in recent times to make Senators feel like they were mild-mannered men who would do no harm to the public good, who honored the Constitution and precedent.  And yet once on the bench, they showed their true colors and consistently voted their ideological bias; they did not judge a case based on its facts and they did not honor precedent.

It is true that it has at times been important in the past to overturn precedent, such as the case of Brown v Board of Education that declared segregated schooling unconstitutional; separate was not equal.  This was necessitated by progressive changes in society’s attitudes towards people of color and what defined the common good.

The court voted as it did not because of the justices own ideological preferences but because of the change they saw in the country and the need to lead the country to a more just future.  If Roe is overturned, it will instead be precisely because of the ideological preferences of the justices and a vocal minority of the populace.  Surveys show consistently that the vast majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose.

The future of our democracy will in many ways be impacted negatively by Senator Collins’ vote.  That she was so full of herself that she gave the speech she gave was not an indication of a woman of strength and intelligence, although it sounded like that, but rather an indication of her weakness and her inability to truly understand what her role was in this moment.  Senator Murkowski on the other hand understood the moment.