Wednesday, June 14, 2017

All the President's Tweets

David:
What do you think of President Trump's use of twitter to talk directly to the people?

Doug:
Your title "All the President's Tweets" may be very appropriate, reminding us of "All the President's Men." Evoking Nixon is cruel! But I can imagine Trump saying: "I am not a crook. I am just ignorant." That would go over better than Nixon's unforgettable denial. Maybe Bernstein and Woodward will use your suggestion for their next book/movie.


David:
Actually, you are not too far off in my thinking. At a time when Democrats are hyperventilating over the word Watergate, Trump continues to tweet about hidden recordings or tapes. If his goal is to keep people thinking that he's Nixon, he couldn't do any better. It makes no sense from a PR (or any other) perspective.

But even Bob Woodward says there is no comparison of what's going on to Watergate, and he should know. He says there is no evidence of any crimes committed by Trump, but he does believe some Obama administration officials may be facing some legal charges.

Doug:
Ha! Those Washington Examiner articles are from May and March 2017. Outdated. There are two parts to your question: Trump's use of Twitter, and the idea that this somehow allows him to "talk directly to the people." First on his use of Twitter: Yeah, baby! He should tweet early and often. The more he tweets, the more use that is for all purposes. For example, his tweets on Monday June 5th, 2017 (just a few days ago) completely undermined his case for his travel ban. He did two things: he admitted that it was just a "watered down" version of the first:
Of course, it was his own Executive Order, so who is he complaining about? Who is actually coming up with these Executive Orders? Also, he admitted that it was a "Travel Ban."
"During court arguments, U.S. government lawyers have gone out of their way to not use the term 'travel ban,' instead calling it a 'temporary pause' — the same phrase used by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly" - The Hill
I'm not a lawyer, but this type of tweeting appears to speak to the President's intentions, and that appears to be useful in deciding if this Executive Order is really a "Muslim Ban" as he promised (but then deleted).

So, yes, I love that he tweets without having those bureaucrats edit his text into something coherent.  That would just muddy the waters so that we wouldn't get a clear picture of what he is covfefe.

David:
I concur. He is his own worst enemy when it comes to his tweeting habits. Why he feels the need to completely undermine his team is beyond me. He has always been egotistical, along with just about everyone who runs for  POTUS, but he needs to tone it down. His tweets feed the frenzy.

In another sense, the press spends days talking about the tweets rather than anything that might focus criticisms towards the agenda, but for the most part, his tweeting is completely disrupting any way to move projects along.

Doug:
But the idea that any president needs a channel to "talk directly to the people" is wacky for two reasons. First, any president has any number of ways of getting messages to the public. And there are at least a couple of media outlets that would gladly give him whatever airtime, column space he would want. But more importantly, this type of "talking directly to the people" is dangerously one-sided. When a president gives a press conference, the president can speak their mind; but the press usually gets to ask questions about whatever was just spoken. That is an important component left out when the president posts his 140-character nuggets.

David:
"A couple of media outlets" is just about right. The vast majority of the media is biased in a liberal way, as we have discussed before.

Doug:
When I said a "couple of outlets", I was referring to organizations like FoxNews and Sinclair Broadcast Group, and I was directly referring to those that would gladly give him uninterrupted time without even having a rebuttal. But note that Sinclair Broadcast Group is poised to purchase Tribune Media Group. That will make this group the largest provider of local news in the country. So, yes, as we have discussed before, the vast majority of media is "fair and balanced" in that particular manner that is neither fair nor balanced.

https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/06/01/how-sinclair-broadcasting-purchasing-tribune-media-could-help-trump-get-re-elected/216737

David:
I'm surprised you think it's dangerous for the POTUS to be able to state what he wants to say without filters.

Doug:
I'd be surprised at that too! Because that is not what I said. I said that it is dangerous for him to be able to state what he wants without questions. But that is subtlety that hardly matters in this day and age.

David:
We're both saying the same thing, I think. The media questions filter what he's saying to add depth to the comments. To flesh out the statements. Twitter is a poor way of expressing any ideas, let alone serious, national policy issues. It's been illustrated in studies that the format of twitter, Facebook, and even e-mail, fails to provide the needed context and depth that serious matters require. It's too easy to misinterpret a one-sentence statement.

Doug:
Your irony kills me!

David:
But It isn't necessarily dangerous, just not the best way to get information out. I don't have a real issue with using social media to bypass the press, as they seem to have their own narrative.

Take this article, for instance. The headline is Sean Spicer can't say if Trump remains confident in Jeff Sessions. But within the article, the quote is:

"I have not had a discussion with him about that," Spicer said when asked Tuesday about Trump's feelings toward Sessions."

Spicer says he didn't talk to the president about Sessions, and that becomes a headline and story that insinuates their is a rift between the president and his AG. There are many examples just like this where it appears there is a narrative already in place, and even a comment that Spicer "doesn't know", which means he doesn't know the answer to the question, becomes evidence that the narrative is true.

In the context we're talking about twitter, it could be considered dangerous for the president to use twitter with it's limitations, but that has nothing to do with reporters challenging the statements. They seem to be doing that well enough.

Doug:
I also see that some have taken him for task for blocking some twitter users. Some say that is unconstitutional.


David:
If a president chooses to use a personal twitter account, how could it be unconstitutional for him to block certain people from use? If he maintained a personal FB feed, he could do the same. For that matter, he can block certain news outlets from being present at news conferences if he chooses. There is no constitutional right for people to be able to use twitter. Anyone who thinks the US Constitution guarantees the right to troll the POTUS is a nut job who doesn't understand what constitutional rights are.

Doug:
Unless, of course, his tweets are official statements from the President of the United States of America, and he only allows some of those Americans to receive his golden nuggets. But please don't call Spicer a "nut job"... his job is hard enough.


And it may be illegal for him to delete tweets, if they are Official Statements from the President (which Spicey says that they are).  This just in: they are official, and can't be deleted.

David:
They are certainly the unvarnished words of the POTUS. But you're mixing two arguments. Limiting who can comment on tweets is not the same thing as deleting tweets. Not everyone can come to a press briefing, right? The president can pick and choose who gets to attend his speeches. You can't just walk into the State of the Union Address. So, the president can certainly pick who can comment on his twitter account in the new world of social media.

But the idea that the president's tweets cannot be deleted is a new wrinkle that needs to be thought out better by the president and his people. Social media is a new way for the POTUS to communicate, but the legalities behind those tweets has yet to be completely ironed out. It's another reason he should think twice before hitting the keypad.

Doug:
Of course, Trump isn't the only politician speaking directly to the people:
Keep on tweeting, people! And all of this is a distraction from items of importance this past week:
  1. Comey's Testimony; Sessions Testimony
  2. Senate GOP works to cripple healthcare -- Shh! It's a secret!
  3. Mueller staffing up Russian probe
  4. UK's conservatives lose majority; oops!
Pass the popcorn!

David:
You're forgetting other important news that is being overshadowed:

1. Iowa's Obamacare market completely collapses, seeks bailout to save it.
2. New Pennsylvania coal mine opens with bipartisan support.
3. US leading indicators point to faster economic growth.
4. U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent.
5.  Bipartisan Fast and Furious report released: Obstruction of Congress by Obama Dept. of Justice


Personally, I'm calling on the same guys who smashed all of Hillary's iPhones to get their hammers out and eliminate Trumps iPhone as well. Or at least institute a "No Tweeting Between the Hours of 11PM  - 6AM" policy.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Is Portland the Most Racist City?

David:
I came across this well-written, and in-depth article in The Atlantic.

Portland is certainly one of the most liberal, progressive cities in one of the most liberal, progressive states in the USA. And yet this article describes the insidious nature of racism even in this bastion of progressivism. Rather than outright bigotry (although that is present as well), the author describes decades of racist activity under the guise of progressivism, and despite the city's progressive backdrop.

Oregon may well be the most racist state in the union, shielding itself behind denial and environmentalism.

Portland: The Whitest City in America.


KKK march in Oregon, 1920's
The article indicates Portland has been able to continue this orchestrated racism just outside of public knowledge or scrutiny, and has allowed many young, white progressives to engage in systemic racism by displacing blacks from their traditional neighborhoods.

Doug:
There is that kind of racism in every state, of course. Was it easy to occur everywhere, and to keep occurring? Or does racism require work? But it isn't outside public knowledge. Are you just discovering racism in America?


Racism in Portlandia?
David:
I don't think there is that kind of racism in every state. Did you read the article? Apparently not. Oregon was and is an outlier. No other state to my knowledge banned blacks from living within the state's borders after the civil war. The article is very specific about the degree of racism and the tactics that were, and still are being used within Oregon, and within Portland. While other cities have plans to revitalize areas of blight, this article states Portland created a system to force blacks to live in a certain area, and ensured that the area would become blighted so it could then be literally bulldozed over to make room for white citizens. Where else has that occured? Where else, specifically, is that occurring today?

Doug:
Oregon does have a terrible, unique past. But I'm talking about racism now. If you read the comments at the blog Shit White People say to Black&Brown Folks in PDX, linked to in the article, you'll find comments that could be said anywhere in the US today. I think the racism in Oregon is surprising to many people because you might not expect it, given the progressive stories about places like Portland. You might expect that kind of racism in South Carolina, but Portland? Sadly yes. If there is one problem we need to work on, it is racism. But how?

David:
While there are certainly some things people say that is racist, many of the things appearing in that particular blog are overly-sensitive people misconstruing what someone else says. One of the comments is about a guy who was sweating in a gym while working out. He put a towel on his head, and someone commented that he looked pretty funny that way. He took that to be racist, because he's from the Middle East. But perhaps he just looked funny wearing the towel, the same as you or I would in the same situation. Hard to say without the context of the situation.

Doug:
What you don't understand is how those comments pile up, each like a little, annoying paper cut. As you have just shown, you can easily dismiss any single comment. But when you have to hear those comments multiple times a day, every day of the year, it is unbearable.

David:
Or, if you are trying to interpret everything every single person says to you as something offensive, you are likely to be frequently offended by innocent comments.

This reminds me of a story I alluded to in a very early BvB blog, but never got around to actually telling. My first roommate in college was Roger Hunter, a black man from England. He was at Indiana University on a track and field scholarship. At that time, Roger was the second-fastest man in the world running the 400m. (As an aside, the fastest man at that  distance, Sunder Nix, was also on our team.) One evening we were eating dinner with two other black athletes and one white one. The waitress we had was pretty bad. The two black students claimed she was serving us poorly because she was racist. Roger pointed out that not all of us were black. "What about Dave and Scott?" They insisted that she was racist, but Roger argued she was just a bad waitress. Afterwards, back at the dorm, Roger noted that black people here in the US are quick to see racism everywhere they look, but it was not that way in England. I thought about that for a long time after that, and still ponder it today. I suppose, because England decided to do away with slavery as a matter of common agreement, that former slaves may have been more accepted into the culture. Fighting a civil war to end slavery left many bitter in America, and they may never have come to grips with reality through the 1960's, and some even today. The point of the story, though, is that everything someone says isn't racist. And even actions taken by a city or corporation may have more of an impact on a certain minority, but that does not mean that the action was racist, or had anything to do with race. I had thought that attitude had passed (the story takes place in 1983), but the recent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement causes me to frequently remember that meal with Roger and our friends.  Reading the blog you linked us to also has numerous examples of the commenter assuming the person was saying something that was racially based, but I can see several instances where that is not necessarily the case. As Roger said, sometimes, you just get a bad waitress.

Doug:
The point of your story is that a single event can't tell the whole story of racism. If everywhere you go you get a "bad waitress" then you might start to wonder about your hypothesis and start to wonder if there isn't something systemic going on.

David:
The point of the story is that a black man from England felt that black people in the US are overly sensitive. Roger also lived his entire life as a black man, and he is the one who was making this argument.

If everywhere one goes they get "bad wait staff", then maybe there is a problem with the person complaining of racism.  Perhaps their expectations are unrealistic. Don't you think that is more likely than every single waiter or waitress is racist?

The easy answer to having people understand each other better is education and getting to know people who are different from us. But that is much harder to accomplish in reality for a host of reasons.

Doug:
Yes. And we need that everywhere, not just Portland.

David:
One of the things that the author of this article claims to be true, but may not be, is that black people live together in a certain part of town because they were forced to do so because of a vast conspiracy of banks and lending agents. But in almost every city in the country, there are areas and neighborhoods where minorities congregate. It's the same in grade school cafeterias, prison recreation areas, and any other locations where people have a free choice of the people they want to associate with ( known as homophily or assortativeness). People prefer to be with people they are most like. While this article makes a fairly compelling case for the situation in Portland, it is also likely that the situation in Portland is brought about, at least to some degree, by the people themselves and the choices they make.

In this example of friendships among high school students, the yellow dots represent white students, the green dots are black students, and the red dots are mixed-race or other minorities:


When given a choice, people don't often associate or become friends with people of other races. Nor do they choose to live in a neighborhood that is mainly occupied by people of other races. This is as true today as it has ever been.

I think this is much more likely to be the true reason things have ended up as they have in Portland, rather than a massive conspiracy that forced all of the minorities to live in slums, and then forced them out of the city. Portland actually has a fairly extensive system of diversity programs ongoing in all levels of city government. They even host numerous national diversity programs in the city.

Doug:
There are people that study such ideas. They're called sociologists and anthropologists, and they would not agree that "people don't often associate or become friends with people of other races." But there are some interesting computer simulations/models that come out of that research. Thomas Schelling showed mathematically that just a slight preference to be with just a few similar people could, over time, end up with segregated neighborhoods. In the computer simulation, there are green and red "turtles" (pixels). The turtles are slightly more happy when they are nearer to a same-colored turtle. Run the simulation (click "setup" and then "go") to watch the turtles move around randomly based on their "happiness" levels. You'll see over time that they end up segregated. So, you can explain segregated neighborhoods by jumping to the conclusion that "people don't often associate or become friends with people of other races" or see it as an emergent pattern that occurs based on small preferences. 


Of course, there is also institutional racism from our government and other organizations. Consider the activity called "redlining". I also just watched an excellent Frontline special last night on affordable housing. It is sad how the best intentions from some can be transformed into terrible situations by others.

David:
But that's just it. Even small preferences lead to self-segregation. The studies that have been done on assortativeness show that in all situations where people have a choice of where they live or with whom they hang out, they all lead to self-segregation. While someone may not care very much or have much of a preference, your own argument is that even a tiny hint of preference leads to this outcome. The only way to change that would be to force people to move or live in different areas, which results in loss of freedom. 

Doug:
But segregated environments are not what most people want---usually people just don't want to be too isolated and that preference builds up over time. If you want to make this about freedom, sure! I should be able to have the freedom to live in an area with good schools, good drinking water, and good public services. 

David:
Most people don't want to be isolated, and polling shows that many support diversity itself, but studies also show a preference to live in neighborhoods with people that are like them. Studies like the ones we have both presented show that people prefer (if even slightly) to be friends and hang out with people they are most like.

You and I are both making the same argument: there is plenty of evidence that the situation in Portland and other cities is caused by the people themselves. You say that there is institutional racism going on, but your Wikipedia article on redlining lists practices from the 1960's through the 80's. That's from 40-60 years ago. The rest of the article describes practices that may have nothing to do with race, but may just be good business practice (put your business where you can sell the most of what you're selling. That's called Business 101). There are more recent cases mentioned of institutional racism, mainly among banks and lenders, and they all occurred in liberal bastions: Chicago, New York, and the liberal Northeast. Hmm, maybe the author of my article from The Atlantic is on to something.

Doug:
Redlining was a past activity, but is an example of how racism can be codified. The Frontline special is about today's practices. The racism continues, and it isn't confined to your imagined "liberal bastions." 

David:
It's your article. Argue with it as much as you want, and if you think their argument is imagined, or that Chicago and NYC are not blue, well...

Doug:
It isn't an article, it is a video. It isn't about Chicago and NYC, but it does explore Dallas and Florida. 

David:
I'm still talking about your linked Wikipedia article.

The government is full of people who had good intentions, but government programs are always subjected to the gauntlet of lobbyist and others with competing goals. The farther the government is from the people, the worse the results. Local government is more responsive to the needs , and their programs subject to closer scrutiny, by the people who are affected by laws and rules set up by government. The feds should butt-out when it comes to social programs, and just provide block-grants to the states. That would help to prevent those wonderful programs from becoming so terrible. (By the way, if there are government programs that are "terrible", perhaps we should eliminate them.)

Doug:
By the way, I didn't say that the government programs are terrible, I said that some people are terrible. But we shouldn't "eliminate them"... perhaps just give them a punishment. I think that you would agree that just because medicine is administered poorly that doesn't mean we should "eliminate" medicine. It just means that we need to give it in the right doses, and make sure that there are follow-up visits. 

David:
You said people in government create terrible situations from good ideas. 

Doug:
If you watch the video, you'll understand that I am not talking about "people in government." In this case it is people that are taking advantage of the government. 

David:
Hmmm. You are saying that there are actually people who are taking advantage of government programs? People who are getting benefits that should not be? How can that be in a Big-Government utopia?

If a doctor or hospital performs "poorly" they get sued or fired, or both. Yet Lois Lerner got a fat pension by pleading the 5th, and no one at Justice ever turned over anything related to the government's Fast And Furious gun-running operation. Maybe we should pay a follow-up visit to those scandals?

Doug:
Let's try to focus on the current conversation, otherwise it looks like you are saying "what about them?" So, I think we agreed that we don't want to "eliminate" medicine. We agree that you can't just give out the medicine, but that a proper program requires follow-ups. And if the doctor (or anyone in the process) is acting against the health of the patient, we'll deal with them rather than "eliminate" the medicine.

David:
But we're not talking about eliminating the government, just government programs. If a medication doesn't work, or something better comes along, we do, in fact, eliminate the use of that medicine or practice. Medicine is always working to be better and more efficient. Government should work the same way: eliminate programs that don't work or are inefficient. Maybe we should be able to sue individual government employees and regulators when they screw up. But we digress.

Doug:
I'm not sure what problem has suing more people as a solution. 

David:
Good, you're finally on-board with medical tort reform.

Doug:
No, you can sue some people, but let's not advocate suing even more. 

David:
Sounds like you just said it's OK to sue doctors who are trying to help you, but you should not be allowed to sue incompetent government workers who screw up your life. Whatever.

Doug:
But let's just agree that if you don't have follow-ups, it is hard to tell whether the medicine is working. Government is the same way: if you don't follow-up to make sure your policy is working, then the government needs to do its diligence. We need to operate on facts, and we need to make sure the system is working. And if it isn't working, then, yes, we need to fix it. That doesn't necessarily mean to "eliminate" it. 

There are, no doubt, racists in the Democratic party, just like they are in all parties. But affordable housing and environmentalism (both progressive ideals) do not create these situations. Rather, corruption and money cause these problems. To your original point: Portland has racial problems like any other city, town, or village in the US.

David:
Affordable housing and environmentalism are also conservative ideals. 

Doug:
I wish that were true. 

David:
And that is why you don't understand conservatism.

Doug:
That must indeed be true. How could killing the EPA be supporting the environment? How could cutting affordable housing be supporting affordable housing? I do not understand. 

David:
Right. Cutting back the EPA to it's intended job is "killing" it. Making sure able-bodied, working aged folks are not living in subsidized housing or taking food stamp money from people that can really use it is just making sure government is responsible.

Freedom is a conservative ideal, too. Allowing people to live where they want to and associate with whom they want to are hallmarks of America.

Doug:
And that is what the Frontline special is all about: people just wanting to live where they choose. Unfortunately, one can use money (or the lack of it) to control where you live.

David:
But as we've shown, the majority of people choose to live in segregated communities. It's called human nature, not racism.

I noted last week that Harvard had a separate graduation for black students. While we all recognize the hardship these students had to endure attending the most elite and progressive of colleges in America, it seems very self-defeating to enhance the differences we might have based solely upon skin-color, rather than working harder to break down those barriers. The more racial divisions that get institutionalized, and the louder Black Lives Matter protestors scream, the harder it is to become a society that judges people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Doug:
I am a BLM protester. Who do you think I am? Who do you think that you are? Do you really think that you understand the life of a 22-year old black woman graduating from Harvard in 2017? You think you understand how to celebrate diversity better than they do? Do you think you understand why they had a separate graduation? Do you understand what it is like to have a "bad waitress" far more often than your white friends? Do you really think you understand Portland better than the city that you live in? Do you hear what the BLM protestors are "screaming"? Do you believe that you can lecture them about how to create a society that does not judge people by their skin color?

David:
You must be a BLM protester in abstentia. Their Memorial Day celebrations did not allow any white people to attend.

Doug:
Well, we don't live in NY, and we didn't get invited to that party on Memorial Day by those groups. And of course, there have many protests in the last year. We have a BLM sign in our front yard. Wait, what is your point? Oh, you are deflecting.

David:
Insisting that you judge by skin color seems a contradictory means of getting people to not judge by skin color. Celebrating diversity by eliminating diversity? More segregation to end segregation? These sound like arguments right out of the book 1984.

Doug:
You really do not understand. Or you don't want to.

David:
I'm calling it for what it is. It isn't subtle to promote segregation based on skin color. Back in the 1960's, that was called racism. Now, you're saying it's fine for blacks to be racist, but wrong for anyone else.

Doug:
No.

David:
Yes.

But you've said it all in a nutshell. While I'm quoting Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, you advise that I should not even be able to comment on the subject because I'm not black.

Doug:
I didn't say that you should not be able to comment on it. I want you to. But I would also like for you to ask questions, and listen to what the BLM protesters want. I want you to understand MLK, and how he effected change. He was feared by a great many white people. He broke laws. He did not protest the way that white people wanted him to.

David:
But I encourage you to continue thinking your way. This article from an English magazine notes that BLM actions lead to the election of Donald Trump, while completely overlooking the serious, provable problems that are found within the black community across the country, and brought about by that community itself.

Doug:
The Spectator is not just "an English magazine"... it is a conservative magazine. It is true that some people are afraid of BLM protesters (just like some people were afraid of MLK) and it is true that Trump used that fear. It is also true that some people did not want a woman president, and Trump used that fear as well. But the solution is not to break up BLM or to only run male candidates. We need to fight systemic racism and sexism.

David:
Here's a data-heavy article that discusses quite a few different statistics, beginning with the most notable: Blacks commit more than 50% of all violent crime in the country, despite being only 13% of the population.

Doug:
Yikes! That is not an article! It is a blog! Just like this one! You should be more discerning with your "heavy data." Your first statistic is way off. You aren't measuring "all violent crime committed"... you, or course, are measuring incarcerations. Could systemic racism affect the incarceration stats? Yes. Second, the basic statement is just false. The fact that you get wrong this basic idea leaves most of the rest of the "heavy data" highly suspect.

David:
Perhaps you missed that the data is from government reports.

Most of their victims are black. Focusing on the problems that create this statistic is important. Single-parent households leads to poverty which correlates to poor or limited education which leads to continued poverty which leads to crime which leads to violent crime.

"Unmarried black mothers with children under 18 are the most impoverished demographic in American society, and they are the most common type of family structure in black communities." ~ US Census Data

Since most violent crime is committed by black males between the ages of 16-30, and that age / gender demographic equals only about 3% of the American population, that makes young black males as a group, very dangerous. What is BLM saying about this? Nothing. They accuse the police of focusing too much on this group, even though statistically if you detained all black males in that age group, you'd eliminate half of all violent crime in the country. That is a truth that should be particularly troubling to the black community.



You act as though I live in some type of rich, white, Republican bubble.

Doug:
No, you act as though you live is some type of rich, white, Republican bubble.

David:
... says the liberal,elite, college professor surrounded by his liberal,elite, college professor peer group.

I spend time regularly with 22 year old black women in my ER, taking care of both them and their children. I did my residency in Detroit (a city of blacks and by blacks), where I  had young black men screaming at me, "You better get me some mo-phine right now, you honky M*****F*****r", while I was holding 4x4 bandages over their gunshot wounds trying to save their lives. After a while, I thought maybe my name badge actually said "Dr. Honky M*****F****r". It's what the young people called all of us who were white. The older black patients were all very nice, polite, and appreciated anyone who was trying to help them.  While people from that older generation were fighting to end segregation, this new generation appears to be fighting for segregation.

Doug:
See, this is useful: we see where your stereotypes come from. Why are all of the black women you spend time with 22 years old? I don't want to know. I like how all of the young black men said the same thing, and how you held a collective 4x4 bandage over all of their wounds. This doesn't sound like broad generalizations at all. Nope, not at all. And you sure you want to claim that Portland is worse?

David:
I chose 22 years old to compare with your 22 year old black woman graduating from Harvard. You talk about stereotypes, yet you don't ever deal with actual poor or homeless people; Certainly not on a regular basis.

The world of the Harvard graduate is a very far cry from from the real world that most blue-collar Americans live in, no matter what color you are. But I certainly encourage the Democratic party to thoroughly embrace identity politics and the idea that everyone is a victim. It's working well for you. Identity politics transforms other Americans that disagree with you from being a political opponent into an oppressor. The more the Left denigrates and insults average, hard-working Americans, the less likely they will ever win them over.

You should live for just a short while in Detroit, or at least visit Detroit Receiving's ER. I cannot remember any young black men that I saw in the ER during my trauma rotation that were not victims of penetrating trauma.  The 4x4s are just to stop the bleeding until they get  to surgery. DRH keeps three trauma teams in service 24/7. We had a shootout inside the hospital while I was there. Another resident and a nurse were killed in the staff parking garage while I was training there. You have not been there, nor have you ever experienced anything like that, yet you are certain that what I'm telling you isn't true. You know nothing about what you speak. Nothing.

Doug:
You aren't implying that BLM protesters or Harvard graduates aren't average, hard-working Americans are you? In any event, some things are working well: Harvard Law Review just elected its first black woman president in 130 years. Perhaps this will just help Trump get re-elected. So be it.

David:
Back to Oregon. Two Portland women were forced to shut down their burrito stand when they were accused of culturally appropriating their recipes. The diversity police are paradoxically alive and well in the City of Roses, The Most Racist City in America.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Making America Greater

David:
Memorial Day has just passed, and we remember and honor those that died defending our country and the American way of life, with all of our guaranteed freedoms. When it was founded, our country was unique in its premise that the populace could govern itself. Many other countries have since modeled their governments after ours.


What do you think are some things Americans can work on together to make the country better?

Doug:
What is that "American way of life"? What are those "guaranteed freedoms"? What countries are you thinking of that modelled themselves after the USA?

There are lots of things that we can do to make our country better. First, we need to admit that we have problems. Then look to other countries that have solutions.

David:
Because I know you, I'll assume you are just being facetious rather than being ignorant of US and world history. But just in case: before the US fought for our independence and established our constitution, the rest of the world had been largely established as monarchies and dictatorships. Ancient Greece and Rome had gone through periods of democracy and a republic, but had devolved into government by emperor before their subsequent declines. Borrowing heavily from those periods, our founders crafted a balanced republican form of government that most of Europe has embraced.

As for our freedoms, I'll refer you to the Bill of Rights. We have the freedom to travel, to speak our minds, to work in whatever field we wish (or to start our own businesses if we wish). Our American way of life and the freedoms we enjoy are what brings immigrants from all over the world to come and become Americans.

So again, what things can Americans work together on to make the country even better?

Doug:
You can't start your own business if you have no money. You can't travel if you have no money. You can't protest if you would lose your job. The trouble with our country is the difference between what those pieces of paper say, and reality. It is getting harder and harder to make ends meet for a majority of US workers. Our country is worse off now than it has ever been due to the disparity between those that have, and those that have not. How can we work together to fix that?

David:
You can start your own business if you want to, or at least you could have a decade ago. There was a poll a few years ago that indicated that almost half of Americans had an idea to start a business, but didn't because they felt there were too many regulations. They didn't mention anything about obtaining loans or finding cash for the venture, just the overwhelming regulations that now exist. When governmental interference stifles entrepreneurship, a key portion of what made America great has been lost. Cutting down the size and scope of government is a way to help small business.

Doug:
That doesn't sound like any of the businesses that I know about. There is very little regulation on software development or its use. Not enough regulation in my mind. Who knows who can buy your data from Facebook? Can that data be linked to data from Google? Europe has much better regulations.

David:
Immigrants continue to come to this country with almost nothing. And yet many of them continue to succeed. We have had to cut down several ash trees in our yard that succumbed to the ash bore. We hired a start-up company of hispanics who are first-generation immigrants from Mexico. They started the business with one old truck, a chainsaw, and several members of the family. The last time we called them up to remove another tree, they now have several trucks and work crews, and new equipment. Hard work and a dream still works in America.

Doug:
Cool! An anecdote! How much can you extrapolate from one instance? It doesn't sound like you believe the country can get any better.

David:
What would make you say that? The country is great because of the inventiveness and drive of the people who live here. As long as government, regulations, or high taxes don't interfere, American ingenuity will continue to create and imaginer things that will make our lives better. That is the American way.

An error I think Democrats continue to make is the idea that this is a zero-sum game. There is not a set about of cash in the world. If I make a dollar, then someone else forfeited a dollar. If I get rich, someone else gets poorer. That isn't how economics works. I can make a dollar, and so can every one else.

Doug:
If a company makes a dollar, those profits are spread across the employees, bosses, and shareholders. It is a zero-sum game! If the boss makes more, then there is less for everyone else. You don't have to be in the rocket manufacturing business to understand the growing income inequality.



David:
Ooooo, a graph.  Unfortunately, your graph is showing wages, not wealth in the real world.

" In the 1960s, for instance, nearly a third of poor households had no telephone. Today, not only are telephones nearly universal, but roughly half of poor households own a computer. More than 98 percent have a television, and two-thirds have two or more TVs. In 1970, less than half of all poor people had a car; today, two-thirds do.72 Clearly, the material circumstances of poor families have improved significantly despite any possible increase in inequality."

The following graph indicates that although income inequality has grown, the lowest quintile of the population has continued to consume goods at exactly the same rate as in 2000. Inequality of income does not equal a decrease in buying power.



You're arguing two totally different things here. There has been a growing income inequality between the richest and the poorest, but the money flowing within the entire economy has nothing to do with a single company's profits. If the company makes more money, then everyone at the company can make more money, or the company can hire more people at the same salary.  There is not a finite amount of money in the world, that everyone is fighting over. While the top 10% has increased their wealth, mainly through the stock market, the poorest 10% have also shown an increase in their wealth and have maintained their buying power for goods and services.

Doug:
I wish you were correct, but you are not. It is true that many more people have TVs, computers, cars, and mobile phones now than they did in 1960. But it is also true that household debt (mortgage and credit card) is increasing, savings are decreasing, and people have to work more for less:



David:
But again, now that governmental regulations are decreasing, investors are once again investing in companies, and companies are expanding and hiring. The way to put money in someone's pocket is to provide them with a job. Making it easier for investors to invest, and for companies to expand and hire workers is a way to improve the quality of life for Americans.

Doug:
Many of my friends who have started startups were very excited about Obamacare because it allowed them to leave their company and start a new one, without risk of losing their healthcare. That looks like it will change, for the worse.

I think voodoo trickle-down economics was disproved a long time ago. Such a great country that people can continue to believe whatever they want! USA! USA!

David:
You don't understand your own mantra. Supply -side economics, the actual term for what we are discussing, provides for more earned incomes across the spectrum. Wealth doesn't trickle, but productivity, employment opportunities, and general population wealth increases.

"Higher taxes on the rich mean that those people have less wealth to invest, donate, and spend, while the government has more for its purposes. The taxpayers usually are pretty careful with their own money, but politicians are notorious for squandering it. When they throw scarce resources into boondoggles like “green energy” companies or websites that don’t work, they make the country poorer for having wasted resources that could have been put to better use.
Far from “stimulating” the economy, most government spending simply gives a few people a temporary income boost that does no lasting good. Here’s one of my favorite stories about the “stimulus package” of 2009, told to me by a friend who lives in western Maryland. One of the “stimulus” projects (as announced by a big sign that itself was a waste of resources) consisted of laying sod in the median of a highway.
The locals all knew what would happen. Winter would kill the grass, which it did. The labor had been wasted and the sod had been wasted. That’s what happens when politicians make decisions about the use of money they have taken by force. You wouldn’t pay for sod where you know it won’t grow, but politicians will.
If anything, the epithet “trickle-down” applies to the government method of taxing those who earn money so that officials can then do with that money as they please. A little of the money will be given to the poor through giveaway programs such as Food Stamps and Obamaphones, but most of it will wind up in the pockets of much wealthier, politically-connected people who know how to play the system.
What poor people should want is more freedom and more growth, so they will have better opportunities."

Freedom of opportunity is what makes America great. Making sure the government doesn't interfere with that freedom, or enact rules that actually make things worse, will make the country better.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#Partisanship

David:
Has the political climate become too partisan too actually allow for anything productive to be accomplished in Washington anymore? Do you think social media has made this much worse than it has been in the past? What can be done to improve the partisan climate?

Doug:
Things should get done in Washington when a majority of people agree on an agenda. One would think that when one party controls the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, that that would imply that they could implement their agenda. But they haven't been able to. I believe that is because they really don't have a common agenda that their constituents understand. For example, the Republican party platform is "Obamacare is bad" but most Americans want affordable healthcare. It is impossible to reconcile (literally) these two positions.

David:
Perhaps you should just stick with your own party's platform which states you must be pro-choice to be a Democrat, and God is dead.

Doug:
Since it is National Brother Day, I'll just let that slide. And Happy National Brother Day!

David:
Ditto. It's also National Asparagus Day and International Tiara Day. Perhaps you could wear a tiara made out of asparagus. Tasty and good looking.

The Republican platform is much more involved, and won the Presidency. People want affordable health insurance, which is why Republicans won with the promise to repeal Obamacare. The new health insurance bill is just a start, and hopefully will get some Democrats on board as it moves forward. Bipartisanship is needed to reach a bill that is structured to benefit the most Americans. Obamacare is not sustainable. Democrats should be sitting at the table.

Doug:
I think we are seeing a new kind of partisanship, but it isn't between Left and Right. It is between Right and Far Right. The problem is that gerrymandering has created safe seats where extreme Far Right views have been able to have a larger impact than their numbers of constituents would allow. Therefore, the frozen Republican party is attempting to represent all of their members, but can't. Does social media and the rise of fake news make the situation worse? Absolutely. But the problem is bigger than that.

David:
So your definition of bipartisanship is to cooperate with only your own political party? Bipartisanship means working across the aisle. No wonder Democrats aren't cooperating. They don't think people are talking about them when they say we need bipartisanship.

As to your gerrymandering-is-the-reason-Republicans-have-control argument, many districts across the country voted for Clinton for POTUS and a Republican for Congress, or they voted for Trump, but a Democrat for Congress. There are over 1000 seats across the country that were held by Democrats when Obama entered the White House and now are Republican. Did Democrats gerrymander those districts to put Republicans in their place? There are "safe seats" for both the extreme right and the extreme left because people who live in those districts are more extreme than in the past. Politicians must still get elected by majorities within their districts. The country is becoming more polarized, and social media is amplifying the voices of the extreme partisans.

Although Democrats began the Obama years with control of all of the government, they also had a supermajority in the Senate. And they forced through Obamacare along strictly party lines. There was no bipartisanship there. Currently, Republicans have a very narrow majority, and Democrats have made it their goal to oppose anything that Republicans do in Washington. As we have seen, a handful of Democrats can block just about anything from moving forward. Have we entered a new era in government where the only things that can happen are by Presidential fiat through executive orders or supermajorities? Has Congress, through its inability to work together, become a stagnant pool in the swamp?


My question is: have things become so partisan that common ground cannot be found? How has social media made the partisanship within Washington toxic? If a Democrat joins with Republicans to vote on a better health-care plan, would he be instantly branded a traitor to the cause and vilified? Would a Republican joining with Democrats suffer the same fate? What do you think can be done to promote bipartisanship and cooperation?

Doug:
When the Republican party wants to eliminate government, or greatly lessen its use, then there isn't much to agree with. We need to get back to electing people that know what government is, and how to make it work for us.

David:
So your answer is Democrats are not interested in bipartisanship or cooperation. Government must get bigger. Government must have more control. If you're not for that, then we won't work with you. Apparently, you believe that only Democrats even know what government is. That seems to me to be a foolish thing to say. Republicans and Democrats have different philosophies of what role government should have. That difference of opinion has been there since our founding, between those who supported a strong, central federal government, and those that favored a weaker federal government and more state control. Both Hamilton and Adams on the one side, and men like Jefferson on the other, understood what government was and how it should be used. You apparently believe Thomas Jefferson should never have been elected.

Here's an interesting TED Talk about partisanship:

Can a Divided America Heal Itself?

Doug:
If you have never spoken to an academic elite, this is what it sounds like. Jonathan Haidt is a typical professor. Whether the topic is climate science, computer science, or social psychologist, you will often find sound, rational comments. That is not to say that all academics agree. In fact there are some that find Haidt's framing of the issue problematic. "Social psychologist John Jost wrote that Haidt 'mocks the liberal vision of a tolerant, pluralistic, civil society, but, ironically, this is precisely where he wants to end up.'" But Haidt makes some good points, and most of his comments are a cogent, straightforward understanding of social psychology. Note that these comments were right before the election when Clinton was expected to win. I wonder what he might say now?

What he says can be considered useful throughout time and place. The idea of tribalism is relevant now, 1,000 years ago, and probably in the future. It was relevant during the rise of Hitler, and after WWII. But that doesn't give us a clue as to what we should do, what actions we can take. However, I believe that there are also people studying this same topics attempting to take advantage of us. There are people attempting to use the facts of human nature against us. They want to make us distrust one another, and the press. They want us to dislike the government. They want us to fear those that aren't like us.

David:
Or to ban those who aren't like us from speaking their ideology on campuses. We must all think alike. Fear and hate those that think differently. Diversity of skin color and gender, but not of ideas, right?

Doug:
I liked his comments on empathy. Even in the age of Trump, we are seeing some empathy spread. Over just the last couple of weeks, we have finally seen the removal of some southern civil war statues removed. Here is a beautiful speech by Mayor Landrieu on their removal.

On a humorous note on empathy, last night I was at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and he had this to say: "Dear President Trump, your tweeting has affected me in the following ways: my ratings are up... ". President Trump needs to think about his actions affect others, like Colbert! See the whole bit at the link.



Haidt is right about one thing: Democrats will attempt to paint all Republicans the same color that they paint Trump. It will be up to Republicans to distance themselves from the President. We will see if they value their tribe over country.

David:
Again, you are exhibiting exactly the tribalism Haidt comments on. According to you and the Democrats, it's up to Republicans to change. They are wrong, and we are right. Democrats are just fine the way they are. Republicans must bend to the will of Democrats and see things their way, or we don't need to even talk to them. They are ignorant anyway, and don't even know what government is. So much for sound, rational arguments or discussion.

But to solve the problems that face the nation, we need compromise. Both sides need to come together. Right now, Republicans have been elected by American voters to a majority of both houses of Congress and the presidency. That gives them an edge as far as how far they need to bend. Is there anything that you could bend on within the Republican agenda? Or are you and Democrats just planning to obstruct, resist, and make your platform "anti-anything-Trump" to try to hurt the other side for political gain?

Doug:
There are many things I think Democrats could work towards. The question is: should they work together the way that Republicans did, or wait for the next election.

David:
Which brings me right back to my original question. And again you have taken the stance that there are things Democrats should work towards, but you make no mention of things that Democrats can work towards with Republicans. There is no cooperation mentioned in any of your words, but more of a they-didn't-work-with-us-so-we're-not-gonna-work-with-them attitude. Of course, you fail to mention that Republicans had the exact same reason you mention to pursue such a course after Democrats rammed Obamacare through over the concerns of Republicans. But what about national security? What about the economy? What about bringing down the costs of health insurance (which Obamacare has failed to do). What about improving the education system for our children? What about bringing down the cost of college? What about improving training for blue-collar jobs? What about improving opportunities for the middle class? What about coming to grips with the Debt?

So what comes next? It appears we will face a future of wall building between the parties, if Democrats refuse to even sit at the same table with Republicans to do their jobs. Voters may hold Republicans responsible and vote for Democrats in 2018, which is what Democrats are hoping for, but as long as President Trump stays off of Twitter, and maintains the bully pulpit, the blame may rest with the obstructionists and lead to a super-majority for Senate Republicans.

I'm sure we'll have lots of angst, gnashing of teeth, and more protesting when that happens.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In The News: Comey, Obamacare, and Omaha

This week's blog contains adult language that may not be suitable for children. It also probably contains misspellings, improper grammar, lapses in judgement, and irrational arguments. As we said: not suitable for children.

David:
A lot has been going on lately. I thought we might touch on several issues, and hope I'm not biting off more than we can chew in a single blog.

FBI Director James Comey was finally fired after months of mismanagement and irregular behavior. The brand new Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, the majority of Senators and Congresspersons, and the vast majority of Americans (85%) felt he was doing the job poorly. Rosenstein, who is the FBI Director's immediate superior, met with Comey, and recommended to the President that he be fired.

The first steps in reforming the debacle known as Obamacare has finally passed the House. The House blueprint promises to change the basic, mortally-flawed structure of Obamacare. The bill now moves on to the Senate. Although Democrats have blamed Republicans for years for not "fixing" their flawed bill, this new ACHC does just that. It isn't a repeal, as that cannot be done through reconciliation. It does put all of the problems inherent in Obamacare on a more financially-stable platform. Yet Democrats are still screaming that Republicans are trying to kill children.

A Democratic candidate for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, had his campaign severely damaged by the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the foul-mouthed Tom Perez, over the objections of Bernie Sanders. The DNC has taken the stance that if you are not pro-choice, you are not welcomed in the Democratic party. From the polling in Omaha, it looks like Perez stole a victory from a Democrat and handed it to the trailing incumbent Republican. That doesn't seem very smart to me.

I'm tying these three episodes together as examples that in each and every case, the Democratic leadership has taken the most far-left, extreme position it could possibly take. They have unleashed a barrage of bizarre and foul-mouthed talking points that don't follow a majority of American's opinions or make any attempt to tone down the rhetoric in Washington. Why is that?

Doug:
Why in the world would you believe the President's narrative of these events? The White House has zero credibility when it comes to reality. Do you really believe that Trump decided that Comey was mean to Hillary, and thus needed to be fired right now? Actually, a different narrative is emerging:

David:
Sorry to interrupt, but before you carry on with this line of "thoughtful" questioning, I might point out that only you and hard-core Democrats believe every Republican administration has zero credibility when it comes to reality. I find your comment most alarming coming from someone who accepted everything Obama said as absolute truth. (If you like your doctor...) But please, carry on.

Doug:
You are defending Trump's credibility? You dare to compare what Trump says on a daily basis to one statement by Obama? Do you not worry about your own credibility when you say such things?

1. It appears that Trump was angry that Comey kept talking about Russia.

David:
If you are the President, and have agenda items that you wish to keep moving forward (such as tax reform and efforts to improve the economy), and you believe that you have done nothing wrong in regards to the collusion assertions (for which everyone involved with this case has continually said there is no evidence for), you also might be frustrated that Democrats and others in the media keep pushing that narrative.

Doug:
2. It appears that Trump, not Rosenstein, decided that Comey should be fired. And Sessions had recused himself from the Russian investigation. Why was he involved at all?

David:
Um, the President is the only one who has the authority to fire the FBI director. It is his decision, and his alone. The Congress can impeach a director if it chooses, overriding the President if needed. This has been the case since 1968. Jeff Sessions was involved because Comey's firing has nothing to do with the Russia investigation, but everything to do with how he handled himself during the prior election. Why fire him now? Comey just gave testimony last week in which he admitted he inserted himself into the election, admitted that he overstepped his bounds, and then stated that if he had it all to do over again, with what he knows now, he'd still do all of the same things! He has not learned anything from the experience. He has no apologies. He'd still jump out in front of ongoing investigations and act as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury. The time for his firing was at hand.

Doug:
3. "Rosenstein threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation". One can try to claim that Comey was fired for other things, such as "irregular behavior." But why would Rosenstein be so upset then?

David:
How long are these points of yours going to go on? Now you're quoting a single, unnamed source in a single article that says Rosenstein threatened to resign. Rosenstein himself denies that claim. Sounds like you'll believe just about anything if it fits your "narrative that's emerging".

Doug:
4. The interim head of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, is the same fellow that secretly (and improperly because, of the investigation) met with Reince Priebus on Feb 15th and told him that the then-reporting by the New York Times was "bullshit."

David:
Goodness gracious! Now you're eating your own. McCabe is a hard-core Democrat whose wife ran as a candidate for the Virginia State Senate.

"His wife Jill McCabe ran for a Virginia State Senate seat as a Democrat in 2015, during when she received nearly $500,000 in campaign donations from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe — a close Clinton family ally."

$500,000 for a State Senate seat?!?!!? Are you saying that you, as a Democrat, don't trust this guy to lead the FBI? Is there anyone who can possibly meet your standards? If Andrew McCabe believes the investigation into collusion between the Trump administration and the Russians is bogus, then it is truly bogus.

Doug:
There are people that meet my standards. But not these: Jared Kushner may be a Democrat. Trump claimed that he was a Democrat. What is your point? That I must trust anyone who claims they are a Democrat, or whose spouse is a Democrat, regardless of their behavior? No.

5. The White House then instructed the heads of the investigations in the House (Devin Nunes) and Senate (Richard Burr) to call reporters and discredit the NYT article. They did. Since then, the NYT article has been found to be true, and has been confirmed by all other reporting.

David:
Let me quote your own link:

"The (unnamed, anonymous) officials broadly dismissed Trump associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. But the officials would not answer substantive questions about the issue, and their comments were not published by The Post and do not appear to have been reported elsewhere."

That equals bogus, fake news. Parts of the story were true, but both of these men have denied this portion of your conspiracy tale. That's two more dots in your connect-the-dots conspiracy theory that don't exist. 

Doug:
6. Nunes has since stepped down from his head of the House investigation. That was weird. Part of the backstory was just revealed: Trump had asked for veto power over Yates' testimony. Yates rejected that idea as “overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the department’s historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former officials.” Her testimony was quickly cancelled by Nunes.

David:
You think it's weird? That's one of the dots you're trying to connect? That's weird. Nunes was the one who invited Yates to testify. Now, your argument is he cancelled her testimony to somehow protect the President. If that were the case, he wouldn't have invited her in the first place.

As to the executive privilege matter, it isn't as simple as it seems. While Yates attorney makes the case she could testify, there is certainly a mound of precedent that argues she couldn't.

"The Trump administration is probably correct that Yates’s testimony would touch on conversations traditionally covered by the presidential communications component of executive privilege. United States v. Nixon is most famous for ordering production of the Nixon tapes and hastening Nixon’s resignation. But the Supreme Court held that presidential communications are subject to claims of executive privilege that flow from the very structure of the Constitution."

In the end, the White House decided to allow Yates to testify. But it was an issue that could have spent some time in the courts, and in this instance, the White House may have been on proper grounds. But the optics would have been terrible. It would surely look like they were trying to hide something. Better to forfeit your executive privilege at this time than to give Democrats something else to harp on.

Doug:
7. Why, then, was Comey fired now? It appears that he had just asked for expanded resources for the Russian investigation. The investigation into Trump and Russia is just getting started.

David:
There is no evidence or paper trail that Comey actually requested any further resources from anyone, and McCabe, under oath, has said no such request was made. Who, exactly, would the director of the FBI need to make this request to? Congress. Not the White House. This is an example of shameless fake news being propagated by Democrats in Congress who know the request was never made.

Doug:
8. Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims that it is "time to move on" from these investigations. I don't think that is going to happen. The FBI has just centralized their Russia investigations. There are investigations into the people behind the election hacking, collusion, and the DNC email hack. All of these may be independent actions by Russia. Or there may be connections. Most people would, I think, want to know.

David:
Finally, you've come to a point (hopefully a final point) in your argument that makes about 1/3 of an once of sense. There are actually three different investigations going on. Are the Russians trying to influence elections? If they are, how much success are they having, and what should we be doing about it? At this point, there is circumstantial evidence to believe the Russians were behind the DNC hacks. But again, it matters less who was behind them and matters more what can we do about potential hackers from all sources, whether Russia, China, North Korea, or anyone else. The last question, about collusion between Trump and the Russians, has no evidence to support it. It seems that we may be able to put a lid on that assertion, but Democrats appear to want that to remain the issue as long as they can string it out, for political gain. The only portion of the investigation that has no evidence supporting it, is the only part Democrats care about.  This seems to back up my argument that the  Democrat Party leaders are going to take the most left-leaning and extreme position on any issues that come up in Washington. They have embraced a scorched-earth policy. Bipartisanship is dead.

We all do want answers to the questions of hacking and electioneering. Will Democrats actually help to find the answers to those questions, or are they too bent only on destroying Trump to focus the investigation on the things that there actually is evidence for?

Doug:
9. Trump admits that he fired Comey because of the Trump-Russia investigation. He admits that he was going to fire Comey regardless of what McCabe and Sessions said, and it was because Comey would not pledge his allegiance to Trump.

10. On top of all of this, it is revealed that Trump disclosed highly sensitive information to the Russians when they met in the oval office. Can he survive all of this? I don't think so.

David:
Once again, you are parroting stories with unnamed, anonymous sources that were not there at the meetings where Trump allegedly did horrible, terrible things. Everyone who was actually there, at the meeting, denies these claims.

"During President Trump's meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism.  - Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Stae

"The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation.  At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." -H R McMaster

From what I've seen from the articles about this new breaking story: CNN is citing HuffPo, who is  citing Rachel Maddow, who is citing CNBC, who is citing ABC, who is citing the Washington Post citing anonymous sources citing rumors that they heard from some guy in a parking garage.

Doug:
You can stop defending him: Trump just admitted it. But one thing that does appear from the last 100+ days: Trump appears to have considerable persuasive abilities to get Republicans to do what he asks. This may be his biggest strength, and will also be seen as his biggest weakness. Politicians know that there should be independence between the executive branch and those performing investigations. They need to operate independently. Following directions from the White House will bring the entire Republican party to its knees.

David:
Right. His powers certainly orchestrated a smooth pathway for the ACHC health-insurance bill, money for the border wall, a decrease in government spending, and getting a tax overhaul signed in his first 100 days. Republicans are trying to keep Trump focused on the things they want to accomplish. They need his bully-pulpit to help make the case, not his tweets, which continue to derail the agenda.

Doug:
Frankly, I think this may be more than the Trump administration can handle. I'm not claiming that there is collusion. Trump's Meeting with the Russians the day after firing Comey doesn't make for good optics. But Trump doesn't care. He is the President, right? But that gets right to the heart of the issue. Legally, Trump can fire Comey. But he can also be legally impeached if congress believes that he did it to stop the investigation, even if there is no collusion.

White House claims it was "tricked" by the Russians when they took, and then published, these pictures. American press was not allowed to take pictures, or to even be in the room.

David:
Why would Trump dump Comey and have a staunch Democrat (and good friend of McAuliffe) now be the one left in charge of the FBI if there was collusion?  And if there is no collusion, as you just said, and the President knows there is no collusion, why would he stop the investigation?  The only thing that makes sense is that Trump made a poor decision to fire Comey now instead of some other time, and there is no collusion. The investigations have not slowed even for an instant. Firing Comey was the right move.

But to the Democrats, this is Watergate, and treason, and impeachment, and scandal, and so on and so on. Comey was the Devil until last week. Now he's a saint and a martyr. That seems a bit inconsistent. Have you noticed how the same exact words and headlines are coming from all sorts of Democrats and all of the left-leaning mainstream media? I'll refer you back to our blog on talking points.

"People will die in the streets if the ACHC passes". (Even though another big carrier, Aetna, has pulled completely out of Obamacare, and all health-insurance rates have gone up an average of 39% since 2014.). "If you are not pro-choice, you are not welcomed to be a Democrat". Those are certainly words that imply the Democrats are only interested in obstruction and ideology.

And I'll also reiterate my theory that Democrats are going to continue to take the most extreme positions as long as they are out of power. Hillary Clinton even announced that she's forming a new super PAC, not to benefit progressives, not to help Democrats win offices, not to make the party more inclusive, but just to resist Trump in all of his efforts. Oh, and she's back on the multi-million dollar lecture-circuit again, along with former President Obama. Raking in the big dollars from Wall Street, while funding resistance to the duly-elected president. The bad news for Democrats? Americans are not stupid, nor are they sheep.

Doug:
But Hillary's making money! Trump is using the Presidency to make money for himself, and you are worried about a private citizen making money and creating jobs. Something doesn't add up...

David:
How is Trump using the Presidency to enrich himself? How? That's nonsense.

As I said before, after 8 long years of talk about bringing the country together, due to the new extreme words and actions of Democrats,  bipartisanship, compromise, and pragmatism are dead.

Doug:
Obama done it. You mentioned some other things that are somehow linked in your mind, but this phrase of yours caught my eye: "the foul-mouthed Tom Perez." What did Tom say to be forever labeled as "foul-mouthed"? He said, and I quote to be absolutely clear:
Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump "doesn't give a shit about health care." - CNN, April 24, 2017
It appears that he has repeated this claim. I can't find any other evidence of swearing, other than this one phrase. That isn't that bad of a swear word, is it? It means "poop", right?

I was wondering what it takes for someone to be labelled in your mind as "foul mouthed"? Because I have heard much more vulgar words and ideas come from politicians lately, but they did not draw your ire. For example, Candidate Trump said:
"You're going to have businesses coming back to New Hampshire. You can tell them to go fuck themselves."  - YouTube
He also said:
"Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything." - NYTimes
Trump also said that he was going to "bomb the shit out of ISIS." I think it was also Trump who said that he would begin negotiations with China like this: "Listen you motherfuckers! We're going to tax you 25%!" There are other f-bombs in that last one, but you get the picture.

But you never once called him "foul-mouthed Trump." But Tom Perez is foul mouthed for using the poop word? Really? Do you think that the "foul mouthed" insult will, ahem, stick? "Since the average American uses 80 to 90 curse words a day, perhaps [you] are overestimating the potential offense."

David:
Just a few things:

I don't approve of Trump using words like that as a candidate or in our political discourse. I don't believe anyone else does either. The reason you were able to find those quotes is they made headlines. They are outliers in the realm of political discourse. Yet Tom Perez, as the head of the DNC has made swearing the new standard of Democrats, who have followed that lead. Michelle Obama had a great quote during one of her speeches, "When they go low, we go high." I think the Democrats missed an opportunity to not use M. Obama much more during the campaign, and using this particular quote as a theme. But now, the Democrats seem to have embraced a new theme: "There is no point low enough for us". Surely you are not embracing the idea that swearing is a good way to elevate our political discourse in the country, when it is already at the low point that it is at? Or are you arguing that the Democrats should be more like Trump?

Doug:
We need to win elections. If talking like regular people helps, then so be it. When one third of Americans don't know that Obamacare and the Affordable Health Care bill are the same thing, it does seem that that would be enough to make a person curse. There are worse things than swearing. But even if you don't agree, Trump is worse, even in swearing.

David:
Good call. Democrats can't win elections with their ideas, so they'll talk like those deplorable fools to win them over. Maybe they can even start carrying Bibles and guns to fool them. Americans are too stupid to understand their big, important ideas.

Second, Perez is swearing at every one of his rallies.

"With children on stage behind him, Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump "doesn't give a s***t  about health care."

"They call it a skinny budget, I call it a sh***y budget," Perez said in Portland, Maine."

Doug:
Clever... hadn't heard that one. He made a rhyme. 

David:
While you have pulled a few Trump quotes from 8-10 years ago, when he was not a candidate, Perez has made a conscious decision to insert swearing into the current political dialogue.

Doug:
Let's be specific: the "pussy" quote was from 2005 which was twelve years ago, not 8-10 (when Trump was 58 years old). All of the others are from the last year. And remember, Tom is saying "poopy." Look at the content of the things that Trump says. It is vulgar in its meaning. Some of these he actually is describing sexual assault. 

David:
Third, we don't swear at our house, and sometimes my children read the blog while I'm working on it. In my examples of Perez, I blanked out the actual swear words. It isn't that hard to do, and I'd prefer you do that as well within our blog. Even major media does this, or they insert a warning label before the story. The links you used above all have them. For someone who lives in a realm of "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces", you don't seem to be bothered by the thought of offending anyone.

WARNING: This post contains profanity and language readers might find offensive. -CNN 

Doug:
Isn't that weird? You claim that I live in the overprotective world, and yet you are the snowflake? We don't swear in my house either. What I object to is that you feel as if you can call Tom Perez "foul-mouthed" when in reality you ignore much worse from others. That is offensive. It offends logic and consistency. (And by the way, your comment indicates that you don't understand, at all, these phrases "trigger warnings" or "safe spaces".)

David:
You are defending your stance that it's okay for you to needlessly offend people? Why should that be okay?

I'm quoting from CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox News, and multiple other sources when I call Perez foul-mouthed. His swearing is an outlier. It's something different. I'm not ignoring anything. You are ignoring a new low in discourse, and trying to make it seem to be okay for Democrats to make it their policy to swear in their major speeches in a superficial way to act and talk like working-class people. "Hey, maybe we can dress up like hillbillies and swear a lot, and those dumb bumpkins will vote for us." Democratic leaders fail to recognize that Republicans have won big in the past 8 years without swearing. Americans are voting for what works. 

While you seem to be defending and embracing the new Democrat strategy, I find it disheartening. But it does continue to make my point. Democrats are out to destroy any chance at cooperation or bipartisanship. They'll go so far as to completely undermine polite discourse. They'll make arguments based on even the slightest innuendo.

This interview of Maxine Waters is a good representation of  the nonsensical arguments Democrats are making. Even the MSNBC reporter has trouble talking to her with a straight face. While claiming Comey was incompetent and had no credibility, she says it would still be better for him to stay in his job than to have Trump fire him. But, if Hillary Clinton were president, it would be fine if she fired Comey under the same circumstances. I hope and pray Maxine stays in office forever. For Republicans, she's the gift that just keeps on giving.


Doug:
You are just now disheartened?! Your self-identified "pussy grabbing" candidate is President, and is about to be impeached. And you are disheartened that Democrats are swearing, too? That is offensive.

David:
Why are you doubling down on using blue language in the blog, when I just asked you not to?

Doug:
If you are going to label people as "foul mouthed" then we will explore that fully and truthfully. You could remove that descriptor off of Tom Perez and we could remove the entire section. But I think it is rather informative about how the Republicans attempt to smear others without coming to terms with what they are actually saying. You can't have it both ways.

David:
The entire mainstream media has labeled him foul-mouthed. Yet you're going to hold our blog hostage because of it? Do you even listen to yourself? On the one hand, Democrats preach that they should not offend anyone (conservatives can't even be allowed to speak because their ideas are so offensive and hateful), but now you are actually going out of your way to be offensive and hateful in an effort to get your way. You can't have it both ways.

You seem to have the idea that I'm defending Trump. I'm not, to the extent that he says and does things that are outside of what would be considered normal for a politician. He does not follow the rules of protocol or decorum. He is oftentimes vulgar. His middle-of-the-night tweets are bizarre. But the narrative Democrats are pushing is mostly unsubstantiated, anonymous baloney. It may all turn out to have some truth to it, and investigations are ongoing, but for now, there is little to no evidence to support almost any of it. Presidents don't get impeached for being vulgar blowhards, yet that is the case Democrats are making. 

Doug:
No. But I like your new name for Trump, "Vulgar Blowhard." Sounds like a Bond villain. I see that you are started to waver in your support of the Republican administration. That is a very good sign.

David:
I call em like I see em. You seem to believe that all Republicans are sheep. Actually, it seems the Democratic leadership believes that all Americans are sheep. "Talk dirty and they'll just follow us blindly." You need to have a little more faith in Americans.

There is probably more evidence that Obama was not born in the US than there is that Trump colluded with the Russians, or gave classified information to the Russians, or interfered with any FBI investigations. 

Doug:
I think I will quote you for the rest of your life on that one! The sad thing is that I think you really believe it. Which is why I am not trying to change your mind. It can't be changed.

David:
Obama's literary agent listed him as being born in Kenya in Obama's first book. It was wrong, of course, but it is in print:




As Snopes says: "It is evidence — not of the President’s foreign origin, but that Barack Obama’s public persona has perhaps been presented differently at different times." Now, before you have a conniption about the birther issue, I'm only presenting this as an example. Obama's literary agent has much more credibility than the anonymous unnamed sources in all of your examples above, yet we can all accept that the agent made a mistake. But the media and Democrats claim these sources in the news (whom they admit they cannot even quote because their information is so tenuous) are all accurate and unquestioned. But I digress.

 There is testimony (in some cases under oath) by the people who were there that none of these rumored  things happened. There is no evidence that these things did, in fact, happen. But Democrats don't care. 

Doug:
I think the more that you write this blog, the more that you believe your own propaganda. Democrats do care. They want an investigation. An investigation would reveal whether these things happened or not. That is all that matters. At that point, maybe things won't be so poopy. 

David:
Ha. For a minute I thought you were serious. Or are you? You're accusing me of being a propagandist after you printed all of those ridiculous, unsubstantiated points above? Perhaps you don't really believe all of that nonsense? I hope not. You'll lose credibility, Mr. Angry Poopyhead.

And the investigations are continuing as before. Nothing Trump has done has changed that. Nothing he has done is out of the purview of the POTUS. Yet Democrats are screaming "impeachment!!" That's exactly what I'm talking about. All of their ranting isn't for anything meaningful. It's just to lower the discourse.

The curious thing is that despite all of these stories in the news, Trumps poll numbers have not changed one bit. They were never stellar, to be sure, but they have not dipped, and remain right at about 45%. Americans know when they are being scammed, and too many anonymous sources are being relied on, and subsequently refuted, for Americans to buy into all of these stories. The danger in the current Democrat The-sky-is-falling-everyday strategy is  when something serious really does show up, and it may, no one will care. Hysterical hyperbole fatigue will set in. 

Doug:
Donald Trump's poll numbers should terrify Republicans, unless they just don't believe it.