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Reflection, More Work

(I wrote this for the Urban News in November 2020.)

Well, thankfully, the hand wringing is over. For days after the election I had anxiety and nervousness. I was constantly checking my cell phone and the TV news networks and the old radio. Finally, it is over. Former VP Joe Biden won the presidential election!!! Sen. Kamala Harris has been elected to serve as vice president.

In the meantime, our current president has been … well, he has been himself. He has spun up conspiracy theories about our elections. The only conspiracy theory that he hasn’t thrown out there on Twitter or Facebook would include the one about the Klingons using their Star Trek transporter to magically cause millions of votes for Trump to vanish into thin air.

What happened?

After the 2016 election, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what happened. Although Hillary Clinton was probably not the best progressive candidate, she was good. She had solid support. Of course, there were circumstances that she could not control, which included FBI director James Comey reopening an FBI investigation into her emails just weeks before the election. Yet there was something else that happened in that race. (Pun intended) Although the polls tightened, they really did not suggest a Donald Trump victory.

In their book Identity Crisis, authors John Sides, Lynn Vavreck, and Michael Tesler try to explain not just the fact that Trump won but how he won. They suggested that race played an incredibly large role in Trump’s victory. Trump won white men with only a high school education by a large margin. Trump connected with that demographic. Somehow, almost inexplicably, Trump also won suburban white women by a large margin. The 2016 presidential election was all about race.

Although we were promised that 2020 was going to be different, it may have been more the same. Prior to the election the national polls suggested that Joe Biden was way ahead of Donald Trump. The polls suggested that states like Texas and Florida were leaning Democratic. Yet Trump won Texas by six points and Florida by three points. Yes, some of this is within the polling margin of error, but there has to be something else going on, since it appears that every poll underestimated the Republican candidate. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis was trailing his Democratic rival in almost every single poll yet, somehow, he won the election. How were the polls so wrong? Some analysts have postulated a “shy Trump voter”—middle-of-the-road, average Republicans who simply wouldn’t admit to pollsters that they’d be voting for Trump. (I think that this explanation is popcock. Trump supporters are NOT shy.) Others have suggested underlying racism among the electorate that Trump appealed to—and those voters, too, wouldn’t admit they liked Trump for that reason.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. All I know is that I’m not sure that it’s wise for anybody to trust polling until we figure out how to fix this problem. Some have suggested that caller ID is the problem. Thirty years ago, pollsters would expect that 50% of the calls that they made the person would hang up and not answer any questions. Now, pollsters expect that over 90% of their calls do not go through. This is a problem with telephone polls.

Georgia

With all the craziness that happened with polling, it is kind of amazing that Georgia seems to have slid into the Democratic column. Georgia. It is actually kind of mind boggling. If Georgia can turn blue, any southern state can turn blue. Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana—they can all be blue. We still need to do more research in figuring out how Georgia was able to make this huge transformation, but it appears that Stacey Abrams, former gubernatorial candidate and former Minority Leader of the Georgia state House of Representatives, was a large part of the reason. (more…)

By |2020-12-13T00:45:23-04:00December 13th, 2020|Elections|Comments Off on Reflection, More Work

War Hero Doris (Dorie) Miller

Navy to name aircraft carrier for Pearl Harbor hero Doris Miller

(This was first poster in 2008. I have updated it.)

The above poster is of Dorie Miller, who died in World War II. Here is what it says about him in Portrait of a Nation–Men and Women Who Have Shaped America:

” At the outbreak of World War II, the armed services practiced a rigid discrimination against African Americans that included a stubborn reluctance to acknowledge black capabilities, no matter how obvious. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Miller was stationed there on the West Virginia. By the time he abandoned ship, he had braved enemy fire to carry his wounded commanding officer to safety and, thought not trained for combat, had manned an antiaircraft gin, possibly downing at least one enemy plane. His bravery initially went unrecognized, however, and only after much pressure from the nation’s black press did Miller finally receive the Navy Cross. But once acknowledged, Miller’s heroism became a means, through posters such as this one, for rallying African-Americans to the war effort.”

Miller, a Texas native, was killed when the ship he serving on was sunk in 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa. In 1973, a navy ship was named after him.

Here is additional information on Cook Third Class Miller from the the Navy Department’s Naval Historical Center.

Beyond the men he aided and saved in Pearl Harbor, and the quality of his day-to-day service, one hopes Miller’s actions moved the United States closer to full equality of all people.

The artist of the above poster was David Stone Martin (1913-1992) who drew posters, magazine covers, and album covers. This link to the blog LP Cover Lover is one of many the creative covers that Stone drew for jazz albums.

The Portrait of a Nation is a first-rate book. It was produced by the National Portrait Gallery

Doris Miller should get the Medal of Honor.

By |2020-12-08T00:06:23-04:00December 7th, 2020|Books, Military|5 Comments

Let’s Do This!

(I wrote this for the Urban News in October 2020.)

It should come to no surprise to anyone who reads this that I’m a trauma surgeon. Why am I a trauma surgeon? Because I love taking care of people in need.

There is almost no one more needy than someone who is having a normal day and then something awful happens. They were in a car crash; they fell off a roof; they fell off their bike; or, God forbid, they got shot. Trauma patients need help. I guess you could look at my job as someone who repairs injuries and protects patients from further harm.

Harm

The President of the United States takes an oath to protect the American people. I understand that on the one hand, such a broad promise to protect all Americans can never be kept. Right now, as I’m typing this, someone is downing a drink and is getting ready to drive—and putting themselves and others in harm’s way. Somewhere else an angry husband is threatening his wife, and a child is about to run out into the street into the path of an oncoming car.

So, we can have unrealistic expectations of what our presidents can do. Yet, when a pandemic comes, we expect our president to do everything in his/her power to protect us from whatever this evil is. We expect them to mobilize the resources of the federal government. We expect that personal protective equipment will be available to all medical personnel. We expect that patients who require medications to save their lives will get them.

Unfortunately, under President Donald Trump, none of this happened. Hospitals have run out of shoe covers, operating room caps, and the all-important N-95 masks. Some hospitals even ran out of ventilators. The president’s son-in-law even refused to distribute some equipment where it was needed, saying “It’s ours.” And Americans died.

Just the other day, the Wall Street Journal covered a New Jersey nursing home, Menlo Park, in which 101 nursing home residents died from Covid19. Residents were not encouraged to wear masks. The nursing home did not isolate infected patients from those who were not infected. Nor did they encourage (much less enforce) social distancing.

This nursing home was, in my opinion, incompetent. This nursing home was reckless. And more than 100 nursing home residents died because of this recklessness.

Yet, sadly, we have seen this exact same behavior from our president. He is having rallies (which is not safe). He is having announcement parties at the White House with over 500 guests (which is also not safe). He is not wearing a mask. He does not encourage others to wear masks. There is no social distancing. So, the fact that the White House became a “super spreader” location should come as no surprise to anyone.

Donald Trump and the White House have ignored medical advice. Over 20 people, including the First Lady, Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, two or three GOP senators (including North Carolina’s Thom Tillis), the White House press secretary, former advisor Kellyanne Conway, and former NJ Governor Chris Christie have all tested positive for the coronavirus.

Irresponsible Recklessness

Donald Trump has given progressives ample reasons for us not to support him and his reelection. He pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accords. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal which was working. He did his best to destabilize NATO, comprising our closest allies, while aligning us with our deadliest rival, Russia.

Trump pulled us out of NAFTA, only to rewrite a deal that looked almost exactly like NAFTA. He started a trade war with China with no stated objective and hurt American farmers with trade policy—and then used taxpayer money to keep those famers from blaming him. Furthermore, Trump is openly a racist and a sexist. I think that he is also a rapist—and there’s ample evidence that he’s a crook, a tax-cheat, and a money-launderer. Progressives have a lot of reasons to vote for anyone who is not Trump.

The beauty of Donald Trump’s response to his own Covid 19 infection underscores his own irresponsible recklessness. (more…)

By |2020-11-02T20:46:25-04:00November 2nd, 2020|Civil Rights, Domestic Issues, Elections|Comments Off on Let’s Do This!
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