The Florida bill which would severely impact the ability of women to make personal choices about their own reproductive health (known as HB5) passed its first House committee hearing on January 19, 2022, and it is now heading to new committees for further discussion.  (The companion bill in the Florida Senate is SB-146).  Among other things, the bill will place severe restrictions on women’s access to abortions in Florida.

Florida Representative Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) perhaps said it best, “This bill is terrible for all Floridians, particularly for those who are low-income, live in rural areas, or are people of color who have historically faced inequitable access to quality healthcare, or low-income people who cannot afford to travel out of state for a safe abortion. It is not the government’s place to interfere with one of the toughest decisions a person will ever make. That private decision is one of faith, healthcare, personal freedom, and protecting the emotional and physical future of women and their families. Tallahassee politicians should not be involved.”

Kudos to Rep. Driskell for speaking out clearly and eloquently on basic human rights.

HB 5 will be presented in the Florida House ‘Professions & Public Health Subcommittee’ on January 19, 2022.

This proposed bill has a very clever title.

The real purpose of the bill is to codify into Florida law, “A physician may not perform a termination of pregnancy if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks.”

HB 5 is a direct affront on the rights of all women to make personal decisions relative to their own lives.

Whenever arbitrary restrictions are imposed on open access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, the actual outcomes have disproportionate adverse economic impact — and direct deprivation of human rights — on young women; low-income women; and women of color.

These are socially and economically disadvantaged women, almost always members of a protected class.

The great majority of published public opinions opposing open and unrestricted access to comprehensive reproductive health care over the past 4 decades – including both contraception and abortion – center on personal ethical, moral or religious values.

Nationally, the loudest voices opposing open access to comprehensive reproductive health care services come from a small minority of predominantly college educated white evangelical Christians.

When people bring their personal religious beliefs or values into any public debate, they risk imposing illegal, unwanted or restrictive religious practices and beliefs on others who have been granted the Constitutional right to pursue their own – perhaps significantly different – beliefs.

I am aware of no rational person who considers abortion to be a primary means of family planning or birth control. Abortion is a last resort, a means to be employed only when all other options have failed.

I’m hopeful that you will reach a conclusion similar to mine on this Bill:  Florida’s government should focus on supporting our residents and improving health care, not taking away their rights, especially rights that can materially impact their health, livelihoods, and futures.

I encourage you to join me in asking members of the Florida Legislature to carefully and objectively examine the broad implications of HB 5 prior to taking a position on the Bill.

Ron is a native Floridian who worked his way through Yale University, where he was captain of the varsity baseball team, and he graduated with honors. He then graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, where he earned a commission in the U.S. Navy as a JAG officer. During his active-duty service, he was deployed to Iraq in support of various SEAL missions.

In simple words, his pedigree sounds impeccable.

Since his election to the office of Florida governor, Ron DeSantis has consistently engaged in political theatre by evoking confusion; separation; and division of the people of good will who call Florida home, apparently seeking immediate and durable personal political gratification.

Instead of taking a strategic leadership position to engage and protect the people of Florida based on factual scientific knowledge, he has issued a number of Executive Orders which are arbitrary, capricious and serve to support his personal campaign of rancid rhetoric and dangerous disinformation.

DeSantis married his wife Casey in 2010, and they are the parents of 3 young people: 2 daughters and one son, all under 7 years of age.

His Executive Order 2021-175 (which bars Florida school districts from instituting mask mandates in public schools) was an egregious example of misguided government overreach which may well prove to be a death warrant for many economically disadvantaged Florida students.  Can you imagine how or why a father of 3 young children would reject protecting youngsters from potential airborne transmission of a lethal virus?

Now, in his “State of the State” address delivered on January 11, 2022, Gov. DeSantis had a simple message on COVID-19 to Floridians:  “We were right,” he said, “and they were wrong”.

‘Florida was right to reopen the state early’, DeSantis said. ‘The federal government’s restrictions are wrong. Ideas such as critical race theory must be stamped out, and both China and the U.S. border with Mexico remain as serious threats to America’.

According to DeSantis, “Florida has become the escape hatch for those chafing under authoritarian, arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions.”

I reject his irresponsible behaviors, divisive rhetoric and his constant efforts to actively quash any debate on subjects where he has taken a stand.

I am proud to join millions of other Floridians who actively oppose his future political intentions and any and all attempts of Ron DeSantis to run for public office again.

During my college years, I was introduced to the writings of Franz Kafka; that may help explain my rather bizarre sense of humor.

Day by day, week by week: The behaviors of many of these elected officials devolves toward the bottom, the base, the nadir.

Fact-based Research?

August 8, 2019

When I was in school, there was zero tolerance for opinion-based research.

You either backed up your work with validated facts from reliable sources, or you didn’t pass the class.

In 1996, under extraordinary pressure from the NRA and other pro-gun rights factions, Congress essentially shut down support for CDC-supported-research into the causes of gun violence.

Why is this important?

The commonly accepted proactive method to solve difficult problems is known as “Root Cause Analysis”.  It relies on a rigorous independent methodology to identify the Root Cause of an intractable situation; that is, zeroing in on the primary factor that is the foundational cause of the dilemma.

Removing the Root Cause of a problem prevents the problem from recurring.  Removing a causal factor (one that may affect an event’s problematic outcome) certainly can improve an outcome, but it does not prevent its recurrence with certainty.

More than 2 decades after the Congressional ban on gun violence research, the paucity of research leaves some of our elected officials and media pundits to conjecture that ‘violent video games’, ‘mental illness and hatred’, ‘soft targets’ and plenty of other ingredients contribute toward increasing occurrences of domestic gun violence events.

A surprising number of elected officials have recently emerged, seemingly unable or unwilling to consider that access to military-style weapons could be the Root Cause of our gun violence problem.

Instead, we read or hear assertions that…‘racism, bigotry and white supremacy is the trigger. It’s not the gun’.

Research provides fact-based evidence.

There is no research which supports any notions that video games, mental illness or racism play a primary role in domestic gun violence incidents.

Despite the arbitrary Congressional moratorium on public funding toward the causes of gun violence, we have seen some compelling research from small private colleges and universities.

One research paper from an independent private college published in 2015 asserted that, “Men commit over 85% of all homicides, 91% of all same-sex homicides and 97% of all same-sex homicides in which the victim and killer aren’t related to each other.”

Many studies on human brain development have provided a rich array of data which strongly supports the fact that female brain development occurs at a more rapid pace than males of a similar age.

Specifically, the frontal cortex — the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act — develops later in males than in females.  The majority of research tells us that females tend to reach maturity toward the end of adolescence; where in males, the frontal cortex is still changing and maturing well into adulthood.

If we know that:

(1) Over 85% of U.S. homicides are committed by males;

(2) Significant scientific research supports the theory that male brain development is delayed to early adulthood;

(3) The vast majority of mass homicides in the U.S. over the past decade have been committed by American males under 30 using a military-style assault weapon with high-capacity magazine(s);

Lacking any specific research, what should we do right now to put a halt to these massacres?

Institute an immediate ban on the production, sale or civilian possession of military-style assault weapons, military-style ammunition and high-capacity magazines in the U.S.

AR-15 (AK-47, and similar weapons) have no place in a civil society, except perhaps for military and limited law enforcement use.

Removing assault weapons from civilian access on a temporary – say 5 year time-frame – will provide a window of opportunity to conduct meaningful contemporary research.

Is there a precedent to this “call to action” at the federal level?

Yes, there is.  The Public Safety Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (1994) prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of “semiautomatic assault weapons” as well as “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” — defined as “any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device” which had “the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition”.

That legislation passed in September 1994 with a sunset provision for the assault weapon ban section. The law expired on September 13, 2004, and nothing has occurred at the federal level over the past 15 years to reign in the proliferation of civilian ownership of assault weapons, military grade ammunition and high capacity magazines.

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As a nation, we have everything to lose – and nothing to gain – by refusing to face the facts we have at hand, and to engage in proper research to help guide our future policy.

Today’s massacre in El Paso contains some common elements to dozens of similar occurrences.

Who are these killers?

The statistics tell us that they are most likely to be U.S. born while males, generally under 30 years of age.

A number of studies have shown that the male brain reaches maturity significantly later than females. The key brain region believed to be primarily responsible for reasoning and helping us to ‘think before we act’ is the pre-frontal cortex, which develops later in males, and is generally still changing and maturing well into adulthood.

What sort of weapons do these mass killers prefer?

Military-style assault weapons with high-capacity magazines.

What should we do right now to put a halt to these massacres?

Institute an immediate ban on the production, sale or civilian possession of military-style assault weapons in the U.S.

AR-15 (AK-47 and similar weapons) have no place in a civil society, except perhaps for military and limited law enforcement use.

Is there a precedent to this “call to action” at the federal level?

Yes, there is.  The Public Safety Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (1994) prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of “semiautomatic assault weapons” as well as “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” — defined as “any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device” which had “the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition”.

That legislation passed in September 1994 with a sunset provision for the assault weapon ban section. The law expired on September 13, 2004, and nothing has occurred at the federal level over the past 15 years to reign in the proliferation of civilian ownership of assault weapons, military grade ammunition and high capacity magazines.

I refuse to stand by and wait for someone to go hunting with an AR-15 at the school which my grandchildren attend, at the mall where my family shops, or at the house of worship in my neighborhood.

Please join me:  Step up and demand common sense gun regulations from your elected officials.

Now!

A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts about our current President and his economic credentials.

Donald John Trump was one of 366 student members of the class of 1968 who was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania.

Other than his bachelor’s degree and some experience working in the family real estate business, there is no evidence that Mr. Trump has pursued additional education, credentials or capabilities in the field of economics.

Trump’s paucity of bona fides in the world of economic theory and practice has not deterred him from taking an active role in testing new economic theories and concepts.

Below, I introduce a new chapter in my observations on Donald Trump’s economic strategy:
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July 31, 2019 (Wednesday):  Federal Reserve Chairman Powell reluctantly announced a 25bp cut in the federal funds rate, the first rate cut in over a decade (December 2008).  In his announcement, Chairman Powell cited, “implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures”.  The Fed also referenced an apparent global economic slowdown; uncertainty around U.S.-China trade negotiations; and ‘stubbornly low inflation’.

August 1, 2019 (Thursday):  Donald Trump announced (in a series of tweets) that the U.S. would impose a new 10 percent tariff on certain goods from China beginning on September 1, 2019, following the news that trade talks with the China have failed to make sufficient progress.

These new tariffs will apply to the $300 Billion of Chinese goods which had not before faced a tariff. Another $250 Billion of Chinese goods will continue to be tariffed at a 25 percent rate.

This abrupt and unusual move roiled the equity markets, creating a major sell-off.

Since late 2018, the U.S. economy has been showing signs of slowing — bond markets are flaccid; GDP has slowed; new home sales are generally flat; and business investment is anemic, at best.

Virtually every main-stream economist agrees that Trump’s trade war is contributing to the domestic economic malaise, although it’s too early to determine by how much, and if the damage is permanent.

The Fed rate cut on Wednesday was accompanied by a caveat that one purpose was to help create a barrier to prevent Trump’s trade wars from toppling our domestic economy.

Thursday’s surprise announcement by Trump reveals a new, arbitrary, capricious and  unilateral decision by the White House which will result in higher taxes to Americans on imports; and further expand uncertainty for businesses which need significant time to manage their supply chains.

The agricultural sector in the U.S. – farms and ancillary industries, suppliers, manufacturers, etc – are already fighting the unexpected impacts of climate and weather on production.  Then, they were handed a potential death sentence by a White House which is guided not by strategy and planning, but by impetuous and arbitrary policy changes driven by Trump’s narcissistic compulsions.

If Trump’s Trade War battle plans were conceived within a coordinated environment (i.e. in concert with the Fed and the Congress) perhaps we would be able to see a pathway toward successful outcomes.

Trump is consistent in his bravado that he – and he alone – has the vision, wisdom and solutions to create equilibrium in the trade accounts between the U.S. and China.

According to a BBC analysis from May 2019, “Trump’s decision to take on China could lead to adverse effects for consumers in the US and in China, but also worldwide. An economic showdown between the world’s biggest economies doesn’t look good for anyone.”

Article I of the US Constitution vests the power to set tariffs in Congress, thus Congress has the power to stop this President from continuing his arbitrary and impetuous trade war.  The question remains:  Will elected officials in Congress wake up, do their job and use that power, or will they continue to abdicate legislative responsibilities to this President?

Some have said that Donald Trump is ‘a stranger to the truth’.

On a daily basis, Mr. Trump publicly provides a broad variety of ‘alternative facts’ to the world through twitter posts; impromptu press briefings; speeches at public events; and appearances at Trump rallies.

It seems clear that Trump resides in his own detailed imaginary world, sometimes known as a “Paracosm”.

Mr. Trump seems to have a complex and deeply felt relationship with his own subjective universe, which includes a rather large number of: imaginary characters; concocted occurrences; and untested political, economic and behavioral theories.

Trump’s particular recollection of 9/11 from the reservoir of his own personal Paracosm by itself is troubling; yet when combined with an endless river of similar and related public pronouncements over an extended time frame leads many of us to conclude that Donald J. Trump is probably unfit to carry out the duties of the Presidency

Today, Rudy Giuliani said he’s afraid his epitaph will say he ‘lied for Trump’

Rudy and Donald have a lot in common. Among other things, they were born in NYC; they are “Geminis”; and they are members of the “3 wives club”.

It does seem likely that Rudy may have taken up residence in the Trump Paracosm, the place where Donald’s mind has created an entire alternate universe.

The Trump Paracosm is a place where Sirens reside, Sirens who are able to use their enchanting music and singing voices to lure a percentage of political creatures to become residents of the Trump Paracosm.

Once in residence, Putin and his brother Satan are able to permanently infect the souls of those who refused to block their ears from the enchanting songs of the Sirens.

Rudy himself had a rather shady past; his legacy is further diminished and defined by his alliance with The Donald.

Emerging GOP Leadership?

July 28, 2019

The week of July 22, 2019 encouraged a new lineage of evil to emerge from the Republican dugout.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R, CA) has long been the lead mealy-mouthed obsequious patsy for Trump and his acolytes; Reps. Devin Nunes, Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan are consistently reliable venomous vassals who worship at the alter of Trump, and who can be counted on to viciously attack anyone who dares to question the rapidly evolving, confusing and often contradictory Trump doctrine.

One of the emerging subservient scumbags — based on his memorable performance at the Robert Mueller inquisition on July 24 — is Rep. Louie Gohmert (R, Texas) who distinguished himself as both a dubious orator and an accomplished reprobate as he admonished Mueller for never before imagined fantasy behaviors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8g1Ynhiyag

The inability to remain calm, cool and collected in a stressful situation is not an attribute worthy of an elected official at any level.

In closing, Mueller presented the world with a new and quite smart response to a Kellyanne Conway-worthy soliloquy: “I take your question.”

Yes, thank you Congressman Gohmert for emerging from the shadows and sharing your serious psychological impairments with the world.

Let us hope you are able to find suitable help and intervention before your GOP colleagues manage to entirely repeal the ACA.

Meanwhile, we extend our sincere thoughts and prayers to your constituents in the First Congressional District of Texas who are relegated to represention by you in Congress.

Vice President Mike Pence toured a Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas on July 12, 2019 where he observed hundreds of men standing in crowded cages.

“The stench was horrendous,” White House pool reporter Josh Dawsey wrote of the brief visit to an outdoor portal at the McAllen Border Station.

Dawsey reported that nearly 400 men “..were housed in sweltering cages so crowded it would have been impossible for all of them to lie down. Some of the detainees shouted to reporters that they had been held 40 days or longer and complained that they were hungry.”

“This is tough stuff,” Pence said at a news conference later.  “I was not surprised by what I saw,” he said. “I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed.”

This, on the eve of a planned siege in communities around Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco where representatives from the Trump Gestapo are poised to raid neighborhoods where suspected undocumented immigrants may be living.  The raids are expected to start Sunday (July 14) and continue through July 18.

Instead of fixing the existing system that is already overwhelmed, Trump and his thugs have doubled down with Satan to intimidate and dehumanize our newest neighbors, and to create, nurture and perpetuate an atmosphere of fear among residents in these communities.

Separate parents from their children?  Only Satan would approve of that.

Trump’s claim that the ICE raids are targeted to ‘look for bad players’?  In a press conference on July 12, Trump said, “We’re really looking for criminals as much as we can. Trying to find the criminal population, which has been coming into this country the last 10 years.”

He touted his administration’s removal of members of the violent gang MS-13, claiming he’d deported them “by the thousands” and further stated that ‘we are also looking for people who came into our country not through a process, they just walked over a line. They have to leave.’

I’ve lived in the U.S. for many years, and I’ve experienced a great deal of good, bad and ugly.

This entire Trump administration charade centered on MS-13 as a justification for extreme immigration enforcement is the ugliest of ugly – it clearly is directly connected to Satan (a.k.a. Beelzebub; Mephistopheles; Lucifer; Prince of Darkness; Ash-Shaytan; Diablo; Devil), and it is clearly disconnected from facts or reality.

Trump – true to form – is scapegoating any and all people with connections to Central or South American as ‘Undesirables’ (or worse).

Pick your label:  There is no place in American ideology which supports rounding up a class of residents and subjecting them to subhuman treatment with no process of law.

Mike Pence, who was raised in a religious household and educated in parochial schools, has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” and as “a born-again, evangelical Catholic.”

If Pence is unwilling or unable to step forward to demand a stop to these Satanic atrocities and to organize a strategic fix to our existing immigration enforcement system which is already overwhelmed, then it is clear that he has sold his soul to Satan.

How very sad….