Category Archives: Good Government

When it comes to gun violence, think, pray, vote

Republicans’ dream? Lady Liberty holding a gun instead of a torch.

After another deadly school shooting involving an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, this time in Parkland, Florida, Republicans responded with their usual calls for “thoughts and prayers.” Perhaps the worst offender was Florida’s own U.S. Senator, Republican Marco Rubio, who proved that his previous prayers didn’t work:

However, when Rubio and other Republicans want something on any other issue, from tax cuts to taking away a woman’s freedom over her own body to military spending to taking away our affordable healthcare, they don’t pray, they vote. That’s just what Americans should do here.

Messaging guru George Lakoff asks: Why are you a Democrat?

Democratic Donkey

Dr. George Lakoff, retired professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and a communications guru for Democrats, asks this week’s key question: “Why are you a Democrat?” Lakoff’s question can be found at his blog, and on his Twitter feed:

Lakoff’s question comes at a crucial time for Democrats.

The sad, selfish argument against healthcare

Senate GOP Healthcare bill

In the current debate over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the saddest arguments to be heard is the one that goes, “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” Such an argument gets many things wrong at once, both intellectually and morally.

First, the entire concept of insurance is a pooling of funds and risk, so that everyone is literally paying for someone else, and vice versa. For example, in South Florida, one is told that car insurance rates are high for all residents because there are many claims due to the large number of tourists getting into trouble with rental cars on unfamiliar roads. Many local residents would rightfully object to paying higher rates for others’ accidents, but that is how insurance works. The idea, however, is that costs are kept down by pooling the risk, for example, such that middle-aged drivers might pay more than they get back in claims, but when they are both very young and very old, they are much more likely to have more claims, so the system balances out. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act (based on a conservative idea from the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) incorporates premiums paid by younger people, who generally have fewer claims, going more to older and sicker people, but such young people of course could get into a serious accident or become sick themselves any time, plus they are likely to have more claims as they age. Thus, the idea of “why am I paying for someone else?” may only be true for a brief moment.

Social media coverage of Hurricane Harvey brings Americans together

Driver receives assistance in Pearland, TX during Hurricane Harvey

This past weekend, Twitter and Facebook posts about the Mayweather-McGregor fight gave way to posts about Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas, and causing tremendous flooding devastation. Since then, as more traditional media such as broadcast and cable TV news are making admirable efforts on the scene with live reporting (and even some rescue work), social media users are sending around gobs of information, donation and volunteering tips, and rescue requests. Here are some of the highlights of social media activity in Houston, around the U.S. and in other countries as well:

Democrats finally come up with a positive theme

President Franklin Roosevelt, who called his agenda the “Fair Deal”

This week, Democratic Party leaders finally revealed their positive unifying agenda for America. On Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the second highest-ranking elected Democrat, published an op-ed in the Washington Post. Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Democrat, published his op-ed in the New York Times. The Democrats are calling their plan “A Better Deal.”  According to Schumer’s op-ed:

Democrats will show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people — and that we stand for three simple things. First, we’re going to increase people’s pay. Second, we’re going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we’re going to provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st-century economy.

Climate change hits home

 

“Burn Notice” TV program filming disrupted by Miami Beach flooding

There have been a spate of articles in recent months demonstrating that climate change is now hitting homeowners, business owners and local governments square in the pocketbooks. While Florida is the tip of the spear on climate change due to its low elevation and prevalence of water, folks in other states as disparate as Vermont are feeling it too. Americans have a track record that, when things affect us monetarily, it becomes a tipping point where people call for action. We are now reaching that tipping point.

How to get back at Trump for pulling us out of Paris Climate Agreement

Flooding in Miami Beach, Florida

As many people feared, Donald Trump yesterday withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that was signed by 195 nations. Trump has added America to an extremely short list of outliers, including only Syria and Nicaragua. However, all is not doom and gloom as a result of Trump’s bad decision. First, plenty of state officials and companies will continue their commitment to fight climate change, for example, by deploying more clean energy such as solar and wind power. Second, there are many efforts each of us can make to bridge the climate change gap that Donald Trump is creating:

Steve Wozniak: Corporations regulate us

Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak

Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak wasn’t known in his youth as a public speaker. He was always the shy one, letting his gregarious partner Steve Jobs do the talking, with amazing results. However, in his first TEDx talk in Brussels in 2012 (a year after Jobs died), Wozniak let go some passionate free thinking about corporations that is very relevant today, and which should perk up the ears of all progressives. More than once in his speech, Wozniak said that corporations “regulate” us.

United Airlines violence toward passenger: how should we respond?

United Airlines' not-so-friendly skies

United Airlines’ not-so-friendly skies

One of the most talked-about news stories this week is how United Airlines “bumped” a passenger from its Chicago to Louisville flight on Sunday, and then literally bumped him off the plane when he refused to leave. As at least one writer explained clearly, the United episode is a result of the oligopoly that airlines have, with government approval of laws, rules and mergers that give airlines economic, and even physical, power over passengers. Given this airline power, the question becomes, how should consumers and voters respond? Here are a few ideas:

The allure of the phony Republican anecdote

Surf and Turf, a staple of food stamp recipients' diets according to GOP.

Surf and Turf, a staple of food stamp recipients’ diets according to GOP.

Humans are a storytelling species. Thus, it’s no surprise that narratives — essentially, ongoing story lines — are an important part of successful political communication. In Messaging Maxim #4: Feed the Narrative, we mentioned that it is valuable to:

craft a true but negative story about your opponents’ ideas, actions or positions, and then look for statements or actions by them that you can point to as furthering that narrative.

Republicans are very good at constructing narratives (for example, “Scary Brown People”); however, many Republican narratives are false. That’s why you will see the GOP using anecdotes, i.e., possibly false or possibly true stories involving as few as one person, to further their phony narratives, rather than citing any meaningful facts, evidence or accurate math.