JUST THE FACTS
I'm a sports "nut" (at least that's the kind way to describe what my wife refers to as an "obsession"), so in the last few weeks I've been exposed to a whole bunch of political ads since the midterm election is only a week away. Based on an unscientific analysis of all those ads (plus the usual political rhetoric from politicians) I conclude that the misinformation on which people will make their choices is overwhelming. Let's just focus on facts. Feel free to add other factual information in the comments.
INFLATION: In recent years the rate of inflation has hovered around 2%, but the current rate (as of September 22nd) was 8.2%. As usual, a lot of folks are blaming rising prices on politicians and political decisions, and some of that blame is deserved, but the truth is that an estimated 54% of price increases is a result of corporate profit-taking. Yes, more than half of current inflation is because corporations are taking this opportunity to increase their profits at a time folks are really struggling. Other less significant factors include supply-chain problems, Uncle Sam's stimulus checks under Trump's and Biden's administrations, easy credit, and other stuff. To keep it in perspective, inflation in the United Kingdom is at 10.2%, in Turkey it is 83%, in Sweden it is almost 11%, in Spain it is 8.9%, in the Netherlands it is 14.5%, and in Italy it is 8.9%. American politicians and policies did not cause other countries' inflation.
THE PRICE OF GAS: Some folks are hell bent on blaming President Biden's refusal to grant oil leases for rising gas prices, but that just is not accurate. The truth is that in two years the Biden administration has released 3,557 leases for drilling on federal land whereas former President Trump's administration released only 2,658 in four years. A little-known fact is that America is the world's largest oil producer and has reduced reliance on Saudi oil by 90% in the last decade. The high price of gas is a consequence of previous over supply (people drove less during the pandemic) leading to lower production (oil producers slowed drilling and pumping operations), Russia's attack on Ukraine (this accounts for about 20% of the increase), and other factors beyond the control of politicians. Yes, Obama's and Biden's policies grounded in environmental concerns have contributed, and our personal responses to those decisions are based on our political leanings, but these policies do not account for most of the drastic increase. Read this if you want a full history of events.
IMMIGRATION: There is little doubt that the Biden administration's immigration policies have been a monumental failure. Accurately counting the number of illegal border crossings is difficult (actually impossible), but according to best estimates illegal immigration under Biden is the third highest in the last 97 years, and that is just not sustainable. It is worth noting that the estimated illegal population was lower in 2016 at the end of the Obama administration than it had been in 2008 (at the beginning of his administration), so we were moving in the right direction, but there were still about 11 million illegal immigrants living within the borders. Again, our reaction to increased immigration is based on our political leanings and, largely, to which news outlets and commentators we follow.
THE 2020 ELECTION: Following the 2020 election Fox News reported that Joe Biden won 306 electoral votes and Donald Trump won 232 (270 required to win) and that Biden received 81,283,495 popular votes while Trump won 74,223,755. Still, some folks to this day (about 70% of Republicans) believe Biden lost and Trump won. However, no credible evidence leads to that conclusion. In fact, former President Trump has filed more than fifty lawsuits against states and other entities regarding the 2020 election results, and he has yet to win. Three suits have made it to the Republican-heavy U.S. Supreme Court, and all were rejected. A Republican led recount in Arizona found no evidence of fraud there in spite of claims to the contrary, William Barr (Trump's own Attorney General) said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, a Trump-appointed judge in Wisconsin dismissed a suit challenging that state's vote count, and other similar suits faced similar outcomes. When Trump's own Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the agency monitoring election security, said that claims of massive voter fraud were false, Trump fired him. Yes, I'm sure you had a friend tell you about another friend who had a second cousin who read a story on Facebook about a person voting illegally and about votes being counted improperly, but no evidence supports voter fraud on even a small scale much less such fraud that would throw an election.
JANUARY 6, 2021: The events of January 6th were an insurrection aimed at overthrowing the democratically elected government, and any claims to the contrary ignore the facts. Do I believe most of those marching on the Capitol initially intended to participate in a peaceful rally? Yes. But those peaceful demonstrators should have fled when they arrived and saw a gallows being built to "hang" Mike Pence, saw people scaling walls, saw people violently attacking windows and doors, and saw people using bear spray against police officers. As many as 140 Capitol police officers were injured on that day and 81 were directly assaulted. Five people died. This was NOT a peaceful demonstration. If your political leanings lead you to conclude otherwise, you need to examine your leanings. If you display a "Blue Lives Matter" flag or sticker while supporting the January 6 attackers, you need to rethink your allegiance.
ABORTION: According to Statistica, 72% of Americans consider abortion very important or somewhat important in the November election. In the early 1970's when abortion was made legal, the Catholic Church opposed the procedure but the Southern Baptist convention said it should be allowed in some circumstances. Interestingly, Betty Ford (Republican First Lady) voiced support for Roe v Wade whereas Joe Biden said the Supreme Court went too far. The issue then became increasingly political over the years and politicians and organizations flip-flopped on the issue (surprise, surprise) for political advantage. I wrote on this topic a few years ago. The bottom line is that we still bury our heads in the sand and ignore the fact that an estimated 40% of teenagers are sexually active, yet America still provides no comprehensive sex education or easy access to birth control, and abortion is the consequence.
UKRAINE: A good many political ads and commentators are attacking the current president and Congress for continued aid to Ukraine. This piece published by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a Washington D.C. think tank, offers numerous reasons America should support Ukraine against the undeserved Russian attack. To briefly summarize, Russia will not stop with Ukraine in its attempt to rebuild the old Soviet empire, Putin's goal is the dissolution of NATO and the absence of American presence in Europe (it is unfortunate, at times, that being the biggest kid on the block makes the U.S. largely responsible for peace against foreign enemies such as Russia and China but, as Uncle Ben told Peter Parker in Spiderman, "with great power comes great responsibility"), and since Russia and China are now semi-allies the West absolutely must be united to combat their combined military and economic power. Further, according to the Heritage Foundation, "Putin is a menace, and a global one. Allowing him to prey on others without restraint while hoping he won’t someday threaten even more vital U.S. interests is foolish in the extreme". Like it or not, we need to do everything possible to ensure Ukraine does not fail.
SPENDING: I dare you to click on this link to the U.S. Debt clock in real time. As of this morning, America is currently $31.2 trillion in debt. That's almost $94,000 per citizen and $247,000 per taxpayer. I've been grumbling about this in my college classes since the 1980's when, as a result of tax cuts and increased spending, our debt reached $2.7 trillion. Deficit spending is out of control with no end in sight, and BOTH parties are to blame. This is not something that started in 2000 under Bush, 2008 under Obama, 2016 under Trump, or 2020 under Biden. In eight years under President Obama (with a Republican Congress for six years) the debt grew by $8.6 trillion and in four years under President Trump (with Republicans controlling both houses) $6.7 trillion more was added. So YES, spending is a serious problem. I last wrote about it in 2018 in this satirical piece entitled "I Need a New Truck". It is really pretty simple math; spending more than we collect in taxes increases the debt, and both political parties are responsible. The political ads blaming one party are patently false.
Donald Trump: Prior to giving up this blog when I accepted my last academic position I made my views on Donald Trump abundantly clear. Here is one example, here is another, and here is yet another. My opinions regarding Donald Trump have certainly not improved in recent years, to put it mildly. And some of you may remember that I supported a different Republican presidential candidate in 2016 and would have voted for several Republicans over Hillary Clinton without thinking twice. However, I believe Donald Trump's stranglehold on the Republican Party has permanently damaged that party, and that is definitely not a good thing. I preferred the Republican party that cared about the rule of law, supported core conservative values such as limited government and fiscal responsibility, and promoted prudence in public policies. Here is the Heritage Foundation's overview of traditional conservatism published in 1987. Fast forward to 2022 and Representative Liz Cheney, who promoted these principles more than almost anyone in Congress, was voted out because she told the truth about President Trump. Hershcel Walker may win the Georgia Senate race after being endorsed by President Trump even though he admitted holding a gun to his ex-wife's head and threatened to kill her, has fathered at least four children out of wedlock and largely abandoned those children, has (according to credible reports) supported and paid for abortions for former lovers while wanting to deny that access to others, and has no real clue regarding public domestic or foreign policy. I will never understand the almost messianic support for Donald Trump, and I truly believe if left unchecked that support will lead to the further fracturing of the Republican Party to the detriment of our country. Be assured that I would have the same concerns about the Democratic Party had Obama's supporters behaved similarly.
That's enough to say "I'M BACK". I'm not sure how often I will contribute to this blog, but I hope to begin doing so with increasing frequency if folks read it (my wife says I need to do something more than watch sports and read science fiction). I encourage your comments, but please read the rules before doing so. I LOVE reading different opinions, but I will not tolerate personal attacks and/or uncivil behavior because there's enough of that elsewhere.
I hope you all are leading happy lives. I'll just add that RETIREMENT IS WONDERFUL!!