Monday, September 26, 2016
The journal, Scientific American, does not ordinarily write political endorsements or condemn political candidates. Its principal concern is science and the fostering of scientific advances and discoveries that have the potential to better the human condition and foster progress. However, this year, given Donald trump's embrace of ignorance and denial of scientific truths - something not surprising given Trump's Christofascist, natvist, white supremacist base of support - the journal has felt compelled to make the case why Trump is unfit for the presidency. Here are highlights:
Four years ago in these pages, writer Shawn Otto warned our readers of the danger of a growing antiscience current in American politics. “By turning public opinion away from the anti-authoritarian principles of the nation's founders,” Otto wrote, “the new science denialism is creating an existential crisis like few the country has faced before.”
Otto wrote those words in the heat of a presidential election race that now seems quaint by comparison to the one the nation now finds itself in. As if to prove his point, one of the two major party candidates for the highest office in the land has repeatedly and resoundingly demonstrated a disregard, if not outright contempt, for science. Donald Trump also has shown an authoritarian tendency to base policy arguments on questionable assertions of fact and a cult of personality.
A respect for evidence is not just a part of the national character. It goes to the heart of the country's particular brand of democratic government. When the founding fathers, including Benjamin Franklin, scientist and inventor, wrote arguably the most important line in the Declaration of Independence—“We hold these truths to be self-evident”—they were asserting the fledgling nation's grounding in the primacy of reason based on evidence.
Scientific American is not in the business of endorsing political candidates. But we do take a stand for science—the most reliable path to objective knowledge the world has seen—and the Enlightenment values that gave rise to it. For more than 170 years we have documented, for better and for worse, the rise of science and technology and their impact on the nation and the world.
[O]ver the past few decades facts have become an undervalued commodity. Many politicians are hostile to science, on both sides of the political aisle. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has a routine practice of meddling in petty science-funding matters to score political points. Science has not played nearly as prominent a role as it should in informing debates over the labeling of genetically modified foods, end of life care and energy policy, among many issues.
The current presidential race, however, is something special. It takes antiscience to previously unexplored terrain. When the major Republican candidate for president has tweeted that global warming is a Chinese plot, threatens to dismantle a climate agreement 20 years in the making and to eliminate an agency that enforces clean air and water regulations, and speaks passionately about a link between vaccines and autism that was utterly discredited years ago, we can only hope that there is nowhere to go but up.
In October, as we did four years previously, we will assemble answers from the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican nominees on the public policy questions that touch on science, technology and public health and then publish them online. We will support ScienceDebate.org's efforts to persuade moderators to ask important science-related questions during the presidential debates. We encourage the nation's political leaders to demonstrate a respect for scientific truths in word and deed. And we urge the people who vote to hold them to that standard.
Yesterday the New York Times made the case for electing Hillary Clinton as president on November 8, 2016. Today, as promised the Times makes the case of why Donald Trump should never be elected to the presidency. It is a strong piece, but, in my view 100% on the money. Indeed, it is less scathing than it ought to be given the ugliness of Trump's personality and supposed policies. Trump simply is unfit for office - any elected office, in fact. Here are excerpts from the editorial:
When Donald Trump began his improbable run for president 15 months ago, he offered his wealth and television celebrity as credentials, then slyly added a twist of fear mongering about Mexican “rapists” flooding across the Southern border.From that moment of combustion, it became clear that Mr. Trump’s views were matters of dangerous impulse and cynical pandering rather than thoughtful politics. . . . he has demonstrated in a freewheeling campaign marked by bursts of false and outrageous allegations, personal insults, xenophobic nationalism, unapologetic sexism and positions that shift according to his audience and his whims.
Here’s how Mr. Trump is selling himself and why he can’t be believed.
Despite his towering properties, Mr. Trump has a record rife with bankruptcies and sketchy ventures like Trump University, which authorities are investigating after numerous complaints of fraud. His name has been chiseled off his failed casinos in Atlantic City.
Mr. Trump’s brazen refusal to disclose his tax returns — as Mrs. Clinton and other nominees for decades have done — should sharpen voter wariness of his business and charitable operations. Disclosure would undoubtedly raise numerous red flags; the public record already indicates that in at least some years he made full use of available loopholes and paid no taxes.
Mr. Trump has been opaque about his questionable global investments in Russia and elsewhere, which could present conflicts of interest as president . . .
Mr. Trump, who has no experience in national security, declares that he has a plan to soundly defeat the Islamic State militants in Syria, but won’t reveal it, bobbing and weaving about whether he would commit ground troops. Voters cannot judge whether he has any idea what he’s talking about without an outline of his plan, yet Mr. Trump ludicrously insists he must not tip off the enemy.
Whatever his gyrations, Mr. Trump always does make clear where his heart lies — with the anti-immigrant, nativist and racist signals that he scurrilously employed to build his base.
Since his campaign began, NBC News has tabulated that Mr. Trump has made 117 distinct policy shifts on 20 major issues, . . . . He said he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations that displease him.
His plan for cutting the national debt was far from a confidence builder: He said he might try to persuade creditors to accept less than the government owed. This fanciful notion, imported from Mr. Trump’s debt-steeped real estate world, would undermine faith in the government and the stability of global financial markets.
Numerous experts on national defense and international affairs have recoiled at the thought of his commanding the nuclear arsenal. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell privately called Mr. Trump “an international pariah.” Mr. Trump has repeatedly denounced global warming as a “hoax,” although a golf course he owns in Ireland is citing global warming in seeking to build a protective wall against a rising sea.
In expressing admiration for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Mr. Trump implies acceptance of Mr. Putin’s dictatorial abuse of critics and dissenters, some of whom have turned up murdered, and Mr. Putin’s vicious crackdown on the press. Even worse was Mr. Trump’s urging Russia to meddle in the presidential campaign by hacking the email of former Secretary of State Clinton. Voters should consider what sort of deals Mr. Putin might obtain if Mr. Trump, his admirer, wins the White House.
[V]voters should be asking themselves if Mr. Trump will deliver the kind of change they want. Starting a series of trade wars is a recipe for recession, not for new American jobs. Blowing a hole in the deficit by cutting taxes for the wealthy will not secure Americans’ financial future, and alienating our allies won’t protect our security. . . . . The list goes on . . .
In all these areas, Mrs. Clinton has offered constructive proposals. He has offered bluster, or nothing. The most specific domestic policy he has put forward, on tax breaks for child care, would tilt toward the wealthy.
Voters attracted by the force of the Trump personality should pause and take note of the precise qualities he exudes as an audaciously different politician: bluster, savage mockery of those who challenge him, degrading comments about women, mendacity, crude generalizations about nations and religions. Our presidents are role models for generations of our children. Is this the example we want for them?
Should Trump win on November 8, 2016, it will be proof to me that America is utterly morally bankrupt and that it might indeed be time to consider emigrating before America slides into fascism or worse..
I have seen some reports that 20% of LGBT voters may be going to vote for Donald Trump leaving me asking myself WTF is wrong with them? This is especially true given new signals Donald Trump has sent that he is strengthening his unholy alliance with anti-gay Christofascists. Two recent Trump actions underscore this frightening situation that ought to make every LGBT American terrified at the prospect of a trump presidency. The first is Trump's announcement of an expanded list of potential Supreme Court nominees should he be elected. The announcement was an obvious attempt on Trump's part to further prostitute himself to Christofascists. While homophobe extraordinaire Mike Lee, a new addition to the list, disclaimed interest in such an appointment, the action underscores the reality that Trump is a foe of LGBT Americans. Here are highlights from Politico:
Utah Sen. Mike Lee on Friday swiftly shot down the idea that he would accept a nomination to the Supreme Court from Donald Trump.
Trump’s decision earned praise from Judicial Crisis Network Director Carrie Severino, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas.
“Donald Trump continues to take unprecedented steps to demonstrate that he intends to appoint justices like Scalia, Thomas and Alito,” Severino said in a statement. “Conservatives should be very pleased by the steps he has taken, and if he lives up to his promises we will have a Court that truly puts the rule of law ahead of political preferences.”
Trump has hired the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, as an advisor for his Catholic Advisory Council.
Santorum, who ended his campaign for president in February, is one of 35 people slated for the council. In a press release announcing the council, Trump included a list of "issues of importance to Catholics." The topics on the list include religious liberty, pro-life, judicial nominations, education, healthcare, jobs and taxation, and safety and security.
In June, Santorum signed an antigay "pledge in solidarity to defend marriage," that claims marriage should only exist "between one man and one woman." Santorum has also said hewould reinstate the ban on 'don't ask don't tell.' The former U.S. Senator has also defended' religious liberty' in the past, and it is something that Trump comments on, in his list of "issues of importance to Catholics."
On the topic of religious liberty, Trump said, "Religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is our first liberty and provides the most important protection in that it protects our right of conscience. Activist judges and executive orders issued by Presidents who have no regard for the Constitution have put these protections in jeopardy. If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths.
In June, Trump announced the launch of his Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. Michelle Bachman, one of the most outspoken opponents of marriage equality, is on the evangelical advisory board.
Friday Trump announced an updated list of his Supreme Court nominee picks. Several of Trump's choices on the list have an anti-LGBT track record.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Cincinnati Enquirer - breaks 100 year tradition and endorses Clinton.
While the New York Times endorsement of Hillary Clinton may come as no surprise, Clinton's endorsement by the Cincinnati Enquirer is quite a surprise. The Enquirer has not endorsed a Democrat in 100 years. Yes, you read that correctly - 100 years of only Republican endorsements at the presidential level. Why? Because the Enquirer editorial board sees Donald trump as a clear and present danger to the nation, if not the entire world. The Enquirer's action follows the surprise endorsement of Clinton by the Dallas Morning News that had last endorsed a Democrat during World War II. If these very conservative editorial boards can see the existential danger that Trump poses, one has to wonder what is wrong with Trump's supporters. Are they truly driven by racism, religious fueled hatred, and misogyny? In my view, the answer is yes. Here are highlights from the Enquirer endorsement:
Presidential elections should be about who’s the best candidate, not who’s the least flawed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case this year.
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the most unpopular pair of presidential candidates in American history, both have troubled relationships with truth and transparency. Trump, despite all of his bluster about wanting to “make America great again,” has exploited and expanded our internal divisions. Clinton’s arrogance and unwillingness to admit wrongdoing have made her a divisive and distrusted figure as well.
The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century – a tradition this editorial board doesn’t take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.
That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.
Clinton is a known commodity with a proven track record of governing. As senator of New York, she earned respect in Congress by working across the aisle and crafting bills with conservative lawmakers. She helped 9/11 first responders get the care they needed after suffering health effects from their time at Ground Zero, and helped expand health care and family leave for military families. Clinton has spent more than 40 years fighting for women's and children's rights. As first lady, she unsuccessfully fought for universal health care but helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program that provides health care to more than 8 million kids today. She has been a proponent of closing the gender wage gap and has stood up for LGBT rights domestically and internationally, including advocating for marriage equality.
Trump is a clear and present danger to our country. He has no history of governance that should engender any confidence from voters. Trump has no foreign policy experience, and the fact that he doesn't recognize it – instead insisting that, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do" – is even more troubling. His wild threats to blow Iranian ships out of the water if they make rude gestures at U.S. ships is just the type of reckless, cowboy diplomacy Americans should fear from a Trump presidency. Clinton has been criticized as being hawkish but has shown a measured approach to the world's problems. Do we really want someone in charge of our military and nuclear codes who has an impulse control problem? The fact that so many top military and national security officials are not supporting Trump speaks volumes.
We have our issues with Clinton. Her reluctance to acknowledge her poor judgment in using a private email server and mishandling classified information is troubling. So is her lack of transparency. We were critical of her 275-day streak without a press conference, which just ended this month. And she should have removed herself from or restructured the Clinton Foundation after allegations arose that foreign entities were trading monetary donations for political influence and special access.
But our reservations about Clinton pale in comparison to our fears about Trump.
This editorial board has been consistent in its criticism of his policies and temperament beginning with the Republican primary. We've condemned his childish insults; offensive remarks to women, Hispanics and African-Americans; and the way he has played on many Americans' fears and prejudices to further himself politically. Trump brands himself as an outsider untainted by special interests, but we see a man utterly corrupted by self-interest. His narcissistic bid for the presidency is more about making himself great than America. Trump tears our country and many of its people down with his words so that he can build himself up. What else are we left to believe about a man who tells the American public that he alone can fix what ails us?
While Clinton has been relentlessly challenged about her honesty, Trump was the primary propagator of arguably the biggest lie of the past eight years: that Obama wasn't born in the United States. Trump has played fast and loose with the support of white supremacist groups. He has praised some of our country's most dangerous enemies – see Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Saddam Hussein – while insulting a sitting president, our military generals, a Gold Star family and prisoners of war like Sen. John McCain. . . . . Why should anyone believe that a Trump presidency would look markedly different from his offensive, erratic, stance-shifting presidential campaign?
Some believe Trump's business acumen would make him the better choice to move America's slow recovery into a full stride. It’s true that he has created jobs, but he also has sent many overseas and left a trail of unpaid contractors in his wake. His refusal to release his tax returns draws into question both Trump’s true income and whether he is paying his fair share of taxes.
[O]ur country needs to seek thoughtful change, not just change for the sake of change. Four years is plenty of time to do enough damage that it could take America years to recover from, if at all.
In these uncertain times, America needs a brave leader, not bravado. Real solutions, not paper-thin promises. A clear eye toward the future, not a cynical appeal to the good old days.
Hillary Clinton has her faults, certainly, but she has spent a lifetime working to improve the lives of Americans both inside and outside of Washington. It's time to elect the first female U.S. president – not because she's a woman, but because she's hands-down the most qualified choice.
Not surprisingly, the New York Times has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. In doing so, today's editorial does not tear apart Donald trump - that will come in a separate editorial tomorrow - and makes the argument as to why the undecided or Republicans who find Trump repulsive, should cast their vote for Clinton. Yes, it may be a case of settling for the lesser of two evils in the minds of some, but the reality is that either Trump or Clinton will be president and that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein will not. Thus, it is critical that we make sure that the lesser evil is elected and that Trump goes down to defeat. Here are editorial highlights:
In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year. A comparison like that would be an empty exercise in a race where one candidate — our choice, Hillary Clinton — has a record of service and a raft of pragmatic ideas, and the other, Donald Trump, discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway. (We will explain in a subsequent editorial why we believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.)But this endorsement would also be an empty exercise if it merely affirmed the choice of Clinton supporters. We’re aiming instead to persuade those of you who are hesitating to vote for Mrs. Clinton — because you are reluctant to vote for a Democrat, or for another Clinton, or for a candidate who might appear, on the surface, not to offer change from an establishment that seems indifferent and a political system that seems broken.
The next president will take office with bigoted, tribalist movements and their leaders on the march. In the Middle East and across Asia, in Russia and Eastern Europe, even in Britain and the United States, war, terrorism and the pressures of globalization are eroding democratic values, fraying alliances and challenging the ideals of tolerance and charity.
The 2016 campaign has brought to the surface the despair and rage of poor and middle-class Americans who say their government has done little to ease the burdens that recession, technological change, foreign competition and war have heaped on their families.
Over 40 years in public life, Hillary Clinton has studied these forces and weighed responses to these problems. Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience, toughness and courage over a career of almost continuous public service, often as the first or only woman in the arena.
Mrs. Clinton’s work has been defined more by incremental successes than by moments of transformational change. . . . It shows a determined leader intent on creating opportunity for struggling Americans at a time of economic upheaval and on ensuring that the United States remains a force for good in an often brutal world.
Similarly, Mrs. Clinton’s occasional missteps, combined with attacks on her trustworthiness, have distorted perceptions of her character. She is one of the most tenacious politicians of her generation, whose willingness to study and correct course is rare in an age of unyielding partisanship.
Mrs. Clinton and her team have produced detailed proposals on crime, policing and race relations, debt-free college and small-business incentives, climate change and affordable broadband. Most of these proposals would benefit from further elaboration on how to pay for them, beyond taxing the wealthiest Americans. They would also depend on passage by Congress.
That means that, to enact her agenda, Mrs. Clinton would need to find common ground with a destabilized Republican Party, whose unifying goal in Congress would be to discredit her. Despite her political scars, she has shown an unusual capacity to reach across the aisle.
Her most lasting achievements as a senator include a federal fund for long-term health monitoring of 9/11 first responders, an expansion of military benefits to cover reservists and the National Guard, and a law requiring drug companies to improve the safety of their medications for children.
Below the radar, she fought for money for farmers, hospitals, small businesses and environmental projects. Her vote in favor of the Iraq war is a black mark, but to her credit, she has explained her thinking rather than trying to rewrite that history.
As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton was charged with repairing American credibility after eight years of the Bush administration’s unilateralism. She bears a share of the responsibility for the Obama administration’s foreign-policy failings, notably in Libya. But her achievements are substantial.
She has evinced a lamentable penchant for secrecy and made a poor decision to rely on a private email server while at the State Department. That decision deserved scrutiny, and it’s had it. Now, considered alongside the real challenges that will occupy the next president, that email server, which has consumed so much of this campaign, looks like a matter for the help desk. And, viewed against those challenges, Mr. Trump shrinks to his true small-screen, reality-show proportions, as we’ll argue in detail on Monday.
Through war and recession, Americans born since 9/11 have had to grow up fast, and they deserve a grown-up president. A lifetime’s commitment to solving problems in the real world qualifies Hillary Clinton for this job, and the country should put her to work.
A new PRRI report should make the professional Christian crowd worry about their future ability to continue live well by fleecing the ignorant and gullible. Now, 25% of Americans claim no religious affiliation. Among those under 30 years of age, 39% have left religion. Some denominations need to worry more than others, one being the Roman Catholic Church which suffers the highest rate of member defections. Not only are more and more Americans walking away from religion, but they are also unlikely to ever come back according to the report findings. The reasons are many, but one strong thread is disgust with Christofascist and Catholic Church homophobia and attacks on LGBT citizens. The report ought to also send a message to the Republican Party that its continued self-prostitution to Christofascists will be a losing proposition if the share of the "Nones" continues to grow as a percentage of the population. Here are some report findings:
The American religious landscape has undergone substantial changes in recent years. However, one of the most consequential shifts in American religion has been the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans. This trend emerged in the early 1990s. In 1991, only six percent of Americans identified their religious affiliation as “none,” and that number had not moved much since the early 1970s. By the end of the 1990s, 14% of the public claimed no religious affiliation. The rate of religious change accelerated further during the late 2000s and early 2010s, reaching 20% by 2012. Today, one-quarter (25%) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest “religious group” in the U.S.
Today, nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (ages 18-29) are religiously unaffiliated—three times the unaffiliated rate (13%) among seniors (ages 65 and older). While previous generations were also more likely to be religiously unaffiliated in their twenties, young adults today are nearly four times as likely as young adults a generation ago to identify as religiously unaffiliated.
Among young adults, the religiously unaffiliated dwarf the percentages of other religious identifications: Catholic (15%), white evangelical Protestant (9%), white mainline Protestant (8%), black Protestant (7%), other non-white Protestants (11%), and affiliation with a non-Christian religion (7%).
[W]hile younger adults are more likely to report growing up without a religious identity than seniors (13% vs. 4%, respectively), the vast majority of unaffiliated Americans formerly identified with a particular religion.
While non-white Protestants and non-Christian religious groups have remained fairly stable, white Protestants and Catholics have all experienced declines, with Catholics suffering the largest decline among major religious groups: a 10-percentage point loss overall. Nearly one-third (31%) of Americans report being raised in a Catholic household, but only about one in five (21%) Americans identify as Catholic currently. Thirteen percent of Americans report being former Catholics. . . .
The reasons Americans leave their childhood religion are varied, but a lack of belief in teaching of religion was the most commonly cited reason for disaffiliation. Among the reasons Americans identified as important motivations in leaving their childhood religion are: they stopped believing in the religion’s teachings (60%), their family was never that religious when they were growing up (32%), and their experience of negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people (29%).
Among those who left their childhood religion, women are twice as likely as men to say negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian individuals was a major reason they chose to leave their religion (40% vs. 20%, respectively). Women are also about twice as likely as men to cite the clergy sexual-abuse scandal as an important reason they left their childhood faith (26% vs. 13%, respectively).
Young adults (age 18 to 29) who left their childhood religion are about three times more likely than seniors (age 65 and older) to say negative religious teachings about and treatment of the gay and lesbian community was a primary reason for leaving their childhood faith (39% vs 12%, respectively).
Notably, those who were raised Catholic are more likely than those raised in any other religion to cite negative religious treatment of gay and lesbian people (39% vs. 29%, respectively) and the clergy sexual-abuse scandal (32% vs. 19%, respectively) as primary reasons they left the Church.
Overall, religiously unaffiliated and affiliated Americans hold significantly different views about the merits of organized religion, both for themselves and for society as a whole. About two-thirds (66%) of unaffiliated Americans agree “religion causes more problems in society than it solves.”
Americans who are unaffiliated also reject the notion that religion plays a crucial role in providing a moral foundation for children. Approximately two-thirds (66%) of unaffiliated Americans believe it is not important for children to be brought up in a religion so they can learn good values.
[R]elatively few unaffiliated Americans report they regularly devote much time to thinking about God or religion. More than seven in ten (72%) unaffiliated Americans say that in their day-to-day life, they do not spend much time thinking about God or religion.Religiously unaffiliated Americans are also less likely than religious Americans to link belief in God to moral behavior. Only about one in five (21%) unaffiliated Americans say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. More than three-quarters (77%) reject this idea, including 61% who strongly reject it.
Rejectionists, who account for the majority (58%) of all unaffiliated Americans, say religion is not personally important in their lives and believe religion as a whole does more harm than good in society.
The political preferences of religiously unaffiliated Americans depart notably from those of most other religious groups. A plurality (48%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans are politically independent. One-third of the unaffiliated (33%) are Democrats and only 12% identify as Republican. Although the religiously unaffiliated are more likely to identify as independent than Democratic, they are about twice as likely to be politically liberal (41%) as they are to be conservative (21%). Three in ten (30%) are politically moderate.
Clinton and Trump’s voting coalitions differ considerably in terms of each candidate’s proportion of support from white Christians, non-white Christians, and the religiously unaffiliated. Among Hillary Clinton’s supporters, seven percent are white evangelical Protestant, 12% are white mainline Protestant, 11% are white Catholic, 30% are religiously unaffiliated, and 15% are black Protestant. In contrast, among Donald Trump’s supporters, 33% are white evangelical Protestant, 19% are white mainline Protestant, 18% are white Catholic, 13% are religiously unaffiliated, and just one percent are black Protestant.
Personally, I agree with the Nones who view religion as a net evil. I most certainly disagree with the religious who claim that religion is needed to learn moral values, especially in light of the lies and hatred of others that are pillars of organized Christianity. Overall, the more people who identify as "Nones" the better off the nation will be.