Flipping the script in politics


OPINION

Staff & Wire Reports



Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks after the Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks after the Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


GOP decries Dems’ ‘mob rule,’ flipping the script

By ALAN FRAM

Associated Press

Friday, October 12

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are forecasting nightmarish Democratic “mob rule” to amp up GOP voters for next month’s critical midterm elections, flipping the script from complaints that it’s Trump and the tea party movement who’ve boosted rowdy and divisive tactics to dangerous levels.

Less than a month from voting in which GOP control of Congress is dangling precariously, Republicans are linking comments and actions by Democratic politicians, raucous protesters opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and even a gunman who shot targeted GOP lawmakers. The message to Republican voters: Democrats are employing radical tactics that are only growing worse.

“Only one side was happy to play host to this toxic fringe behavior,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday in the latest GOP attack. “Only one side’s leaders are now openly calling for more of it. They haven’t seen enough. They want more. And I’m afraid this is only Phase One of the meltdown.”

While the demonstrations were intense and some Republicans reported personal threats, liberal protesters’ tactics were broadly in line with those used by groups on the left and right during particularly passionate moments in Washington. The confrontational style harkened back to protests by the conservative tea party, which included angry face-offs with lawmakers and a massive Capitol demonstration far larger than last week’s rallies.

It’s not unusual for Republicans and Democrats alike to sharpen their rhetoric as elections approach in hopes of drawing loyal voters to the polls. But the GOP shift to disparaging descriptions of their opponents as unruly and sinister is a marked change from their messaging before the Kavanaugh battle, when they’d hoped to focus on the strong economy and the mammoth tax cut they pushed through Congress last December.

Both parties have detected a surge in engagement among GOP and conservative voters since the nation’s attention was grabbed by the confirmation battle over Kavanaugh, including allegations of sexual misconduct that he denied. While no one knows if that energy will last until Election Day, Democratic voters driven by an animus toward Trump until now were far more motivated.

Top Republicans have acknowledged that television scenes of anti-Kavanaugh protesters berating senators and interrupting Senate debate have helped them.

“It’s turned our base on fire,” McConnell said about the battle, which he’s called a political gift. Focusing on the “mob” has also let Republicans raise the subject without explicitly reminding voters about Kavanaugh himself, who polling showed was viewed unfavorably by the public.

So far, Republicans have shown no signs of abandoning that focus.

“The Democrats are willing to do anything, to hurt anyone, to get the power they so desperately crave,” Trump said at a rally in Minnesota last week. He added, “They want to destroy.”

Democrats argue that the party of Trump and the conservative tea party has nerve to decry such behavior.

“The last time I looked, the mocker-in-chief is in the White House,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. Trump drew fresh ire last week when he ridiculed Christine Blasey Ford, the first of Kavanaugh’s three women accusers.

Democrats say Trump’s rhetoric since launching his 2016 campaign has been provocative, pugnacious and at times racist. They cite numerous comments about Mexicans, Muslims, African countries. They also noted his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” after an anti-Nazi demonstrator was killed by a white supremacist at a violent 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin of Illinois said Thursday that his response to GOP accusations of Democratic mob tactics “is to say three words: ‘Lock her up.’”

Crowds at Trump campaign rallies have long chanted that about 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. They’ve aimed it in recent days at Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who some Republicans have accused of leaking Ford’s letter claiming sexual assault by Kavanaugh. Feinstein has denied the leak.

Grass roots tea party activists opposed to President Barack Obama’s health care bill noisily disrupted lawmakers’ town hall meetings across the country in summer 2009, booing and accusing Democrats of lying. One man in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, told a lawmaker that God will “judge you and the rest of your damned cronies on the Hill,” while a Boston woman demanded to know, “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?”

That September, tens of thousands of tea party demonstrators ringed the Capitol to protest the health care law and what they considered a wasteful, oversized federal government. That crowd, which dwarfed the hundreds or several thousand anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators, vented anger at times, shouting “Liar, liar” and waving sings including one saying, “Bury Obama Care with Kennedy,” a reference to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who had recently died.

Black lawmakers said they were targeted by racial epithets and spat upon during a smaller rally by several thousand tea party supporters in March 2010, as Congress was voting on the health care legislation.

In remarks Thursday, McConnell described last week’s anti-Kavanaugh protesters as “literally storming the steps of the Capitol and the Supreme Court,” confronting Republicans at restaurants and airports and shouting from visitors’ galleries during Senate debates. Republicans have said some received death threats and were stalked at their homes.

McConnell criticized Clinton, who said on CNN this week that “civility can start again” after Democrats capture the House or Senate in next month’s elections.

He also criticized former Attorney General Eric Holder. In a video purportedly shot at a recent campaign event in Georgia, Holder says, “When they go low, we kick them,” paraphrasing former first lady Michelle Obama, who famously said during the 2016 campaign, “When they go low, we go high.”

McConnell noted that these activities followed last year’s shooting of GOP lawmakers at a morning baseball practice by “a politically crazed gunman.”

Gunman James Hodgkinson, killed at the scene by officers, was infuriated by Trump’s election. His social media posts suggest he targeted Republicans because of his political views.

AP researcher Rhonda Shafner and reporters Steve Peoples and Kevin Freking contributed.

The Conversation

Why the US needs better crime reporting statistics

October 12, 2018

Author

Liberty Vittert

Visiting Assistant Professor in Statistics, Washington University in St Louis

Disclosure statement

Liberty Vittert does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

President Donald Trump has long focused on Chicago as a hotbed for American crime. This came up yet again on Oct. 8, when he said that he had directed the Justice Department to work with local officials in Chicago to stem violence in a city overwhelmed by its high rate of violent crime.

With 24.1 homicides per 100,000 people – more than four times the overall U.S. rate – Chicago certainly suffers from serious problems. But, as of a Sept. 25, St. Louis, my hometown, is called by the FBI the most dangerous city in America with over 6,461 violent crimes reported in the city limits in 2017. That’s an increase of more than 7 percent from the previous year.

St. Louis only ranks third for homicides in the U.S. by rate, but it’s the No. 1 most dangerous city. So by what metric does the government measure “most dangerous” – and why is Trump’s focus concentrated on Chicago and not St. Louis? As a statistician studying how people can manipulate numbers, particularly crime data, it is clear to me that the way crimes are currently counted in the U.S. can easily confuse and mislead.

Crime statistics

Since 1929, the FBI has managed the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), a project that compiles official data on crime across the U.S., provided by smaller law enforcement agencies. For example, in Missouri, data is provided directly to the state by both the county police departments and the smaller municipalities. This information is then sent to the FBI.

With 18,000 different law enforcement agencies providing crime data to the FBI, there must be a standard metric of reporting. So all crimes are classified into only two categories: Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1 crimes include murder, rape, robbery, larceny-theft and arson – the serious crimes. Part 2 crimes include simple assault, loitering, embezzlement, DUI’s and prostitution – the less serious crimes.

Okay, makes sense. But here’s the catch: None of these crimes are weighted. When a “beautiful, innocent 9-year-old child who was laying on the bed doing her homework” is murdered in Ferguson as a retaliation killing, it counts just the same as when an individual is arrested for shoplifting US $50 or more from the Dollar Store. This flawed metric allows for incredible confusion.

Take this example. You live in a nice neighborhood with a Kmart on the edge of it. “Serious” crime includes all the shoplifting from the Kmart; let’s say 150 incidents in a year. It also includes all the murders and rapes; call it 20 incidents in a year. The Kmart closes. All of a sudden, your crime rate has gone from 170 to 20: an 88 percent decrease in crime.

Chicago mayoral spokesman Matt McGrath criticized Trump’s comments to The Washington Post, saying, “Just last week, [the Chicago Police Department] reported there have been 100 fewer murders and 500 fewer shooting victims in Chicago this year, the second straight year of declines.” And really, I crunched the numbers; all serious crimes are only up 6.88 percent since 2014.

But it isn’t the serious crimes that make me look under my bed before I go to sleep at night. It’s the violent crimes. Those are up 24.27 percent in Chicago between 2014 and 2017. Murder is up 59.53 percent. (Researchers are still trying to figure out what’s caused the spike.)

This metric can be misleading. Former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay touts “small gains” as overall crime numbers drop. Sure, the number of Part 1 crimes has actually dropped by 0.4 percent since 2014. But violent crimes in the city of St. Louis have increased 24.04 percent.

People can also get confused by the way crimes are sliced geographically. For example, in 2016, the city of St. Louis had a homicide rate of 59.8 per 100,000 people, while St. Louis County, which is separated from the city by a street, had a homicide rate of about 3.2 per 100,000. What combination of the two making up greater St. Louis gets reported in the news? Depends on the day.

New measures

Here’s what I know: The U.S. needs a better metric. How we measure crime has been contentious since the original FBI crime reporting document was released in 1929.

There are even issues with the counting itself. The FBI website removed data from Chicago’s crime statistics in 2013, because the FBI deemed it to be under-reported.

Hopefully, a more accurate metric comes in with the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, scheduled to roll out in 2020. For example, if a criminal assaults someone in their home and steals jewelry as well, that’s only counted as an assault under the UCR system. Under NIBRS, both the assault and theft would be counted.

But this system doesn’t seem to address the key issue: weights. Murdering a child cannot possibly count the same as stealing from the Dollar Store. It is inconceivable that raping someone can count the same as illegal gambling. You serve different amounts of jail time based on the severity of the crime – why wouldn’t crimes also be weighted?

Cities like Chicago and St. Louis most certainly have issues with crime. But how the U.S. measures “dangerous” must be made clearer. It does a disservice to our police and our communities by allowing this misrepresentation of the facts. Until then, politicians will be able to use this confusion to confuse the public, intentionally or unintentionally.

Can we talk? Trump’s riding high _ and he’s got a lot to say

By JILL COLVIN

Associated Press

Friday, October 12

WASHINGTON (AP) — Can we talk? Donald Trump would like to chat.

And, boy, is he ever.

Riding high after Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s successful confirmation, the president has been on a rollicking press tour of late.

He’s inviting reporters up to his private cabin on Air Force One. He’s calling in to his favorite shows. And he’s turning closed White House events into major media moments.

On Thursday alone, Trump held four separate press availabilities, including one that featured a profanity-laced Oval Office performance by Kanye West, the rapper and producer who has emerged as Trump’s top Hollywood fan. And that’s not counting the more than 45 minutes he spent on the phone calling in to “Fox & Friends.”

The president’s inclination to chat comes as Trump has been enjoying a spate of good news for his administration.

While the Russia investigation still looms and polls still predict major Republican losses in the House in next month’s midterm elections, Trump has been logging a series of wins, including appointing a second Supreme Court Justice to the bench and reaching an updated North American trade deal with Canada and Mexico. The stream of negative headlines that has been a constant presence through most of Trump’s administration has abated — at least for now.

“I think he’s having a lot of fun right now,” said former campaign adviser Barry Bennett, who pointed to several factors, including Trump’s rally-packed schedule, which has put him in front of cheering crowds nearly every night. Plus, “There hasn’t been a bad story in over week,” Bennett marveled.

Said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “The President is his best messenger and it’s always a great thing when the American people can hear directly from him.”

Trump’s recent media blitz began on Saturday, when it was clear that Kavanaugh had the votes to be confirmed after a bruising fight in the Senate. The president was en route to Topeka, Kansas, for a rally as the final vote was happening, and he invited the small group of reporters aboard up Air Force One up to his private cabin to watch history unfold.

When the vote was cast, Trump delivered a double thumbs-up from his desk and declared it all “very, very good.”

Trump had already spoken with reporters as he departed the White House that day, and he stopped to chat again after he landed, to share details of the congratulatory call he’d made to Kavanaugh and his family.

After an hour-plus rally that night, Trump was back at it, calling up one of his favorite hosts, Fox News Channel’s Jeanine Pirro, as he drove back to the airport in the presidential limo. He continued the conversation on the dark tarmac, under the shadow of his plane.

After a brief respite for golf on Sunday, Trump was back at it Monday, taking reporters’ questions both as he left the White House and again as he returned from a speech to police chiefs in Florida, weighing in on everything from the employment status of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to Taylor Swift’s foray into politics to endorse two Democratic candidates.

He said he now likes her music “about 25 percent less.”

Later that night, Trump presided over a ceremonial swearing-in for Kavanaugh at the White House, where he railed against Democrats for trying to scuttle his choice,

On Tuesday, Trump began his day with a surprise press availability announcing that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley would be leaving her post at the end of the year. After holding forth for nearly 20 minutes, it seemed Trump had, for the moment, exhausted reporters’ questions.

“Any other questions?” he asked to rare silence.

But that was just the beginning. Trump’s day also included an Oval Office interview with New York Magazine, a 15 minute question-and- answer session with reporters on the South Lawn as he departed the White House for a rally in Iowa, and another conversation with reporters aboard Air Force One.

Trump also recorded an interview with the local NBC affiliate before taking the stage at his rally, which lasted well over an hour.

On Wednesday, as Hurricane Michael was about to make landfall, Trump began his day with a storm briefing, during which he took questions on topics including a missing Saudi journalist and potential replacements for Haley. He also took questions at a bill signing and after landing in Pennsylvania for another rally, where he said the Federal Reserve had “gone crazy.”

After his rally — and interviews with the Washington Examiner, Time magazine, a local television station — Trump headed home.

But he wasn’t done for the night. There was one last call, at 11 p.m., to Fox News Channel’s Shannon Bream.

Less than 12 hours later, Trump was back at it, spending more than 45 minutes on the phone answering questions from his favorite hosts at “Fox & Friends.”

Yet to come: Chatting at two bill signings, including one attended by Kid Rock and other musicians, a forum on drug trafficking, a sit-down interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” which the network had been trying to tape for more than a year, and that epic pre-lunch appearance with Kanye West.

As Trump headed to lunch with his guests, he was anything but talked out: “We’re going to have lunch,” he said. “We’re going to talk.”

Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj

News from The Citadel

Richard Snyder named to The Citadel’s spring 2018 dean’s list

CHARLESTON, SC (08/31/2018)— Richard Snyder of Powell, OH (43065) was named to The Citadel’s dean’s list for their academic achievements during the 2018 spring semester.

The dean’s list is a recognition given to cadets and students who are registered for 12 or more semester hours and whose grade point average is 3.20 or higher, with no grade of I (Incomplete) and no grade below C for work in a semester.

About The Citadel

The Citadel, with its iconic campus located in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a classic military college education profoundly focused on leadership excellence and academic distinction. Graduates are not required to serve in the military but about one-third of each class commission as officers in every branch of U.S. military service. Graduates of The Citadel have served the nation, their states and their communities as principled leaders since the college was founded in 1842.

The Citadel Graduate College offers 26 graduate degree programs with 42 concentration options, 25 graduate certificate programs and 10 evening undergraduate programs, through an all-evening schedule with many courses now available online. The Citadel was named Best Public College in the South by U.S. News & World Report for seven consecutive years, and #1 Best Public College for Veterans in the South as well as Best Value out of all South Carolina colleges and universities by Forbes.

News from Simpson University

Zachary Blakemore Named to Simpson University Dean’s List

REDDING, CA (08/30/2018)— Zachary Blakemore of Lewis Center, OH, has been named to the Dean’s List at Simpson University for the spring 2018 semester.

Blakemore’s major is Business Administration.

To be eligible for the Dean’s List, a student must have a semester grade-point average of 3.50 or higher.

Simpson University, founded in 1921, offers undergraduate degrees in about 25 majors. From its beginnings, Simpson University has sought to be a Christ-centered learning community committed to developing each student in mind, faith, and character for a lifetime of meaningful work and service. For more information visit simpsonu.edu.

Opinion: Peddling Economic Lies in Exchange for Votes

By Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan

InsideSources.com

President Trump was elected on the promise of protecting American industry from foreign imports, and made good on that promise by raising tariffs on all sorts of products. He has spent the lion’s share of his time in office planning, announcing and leveling trade sanctions against much of the rest of the planet.

The last time economists took mercantilist thought seriously — the idea that exports are good and imports are bad — the New World was ruled by European monarchs. Around the same time our country was founded, economists jettisoned mercantilist thought in the face of both theory and evidence that trade was actually a very good thing.

Unfortunately, economic lies fit much more snugly into sound bites than do economic truths. When Trump declared that our fiscal woes were a result of trade deficits, Americans trusted that a successful businessman understood the economics involved. Sadly, being successful in business does not bespeak an understanding of economics any more than being successful in sex bespeaks an understanding of genetics. But politicians don’t get elected by admitting that they don’t understand the things they to want to manage.

And this is where the ease with which economic lies are believed becomes dangerous. It’s easy to convince voters that tariffs protect American jobs because voters see the jobs that are lost in Pittsburgh and Dearborn to competition from foreign steel. The reality is harder to believe, because it requires looking beyond Pittsburgh and Dearborn to Fayetteville, Phoenix, Detroit and all the other American cities in which the same tariff costs jobs by making steel, and the numerous products we make from it, more expensive.

Yes, a steel tariff saves jobs in specific industries in specific cities. But it also raises prices for all Americans who buy things made from steel, and costs jobs in numerous industries across numerous cities where Americans use steel to make the things we export to foreign countries. Politicians craft the tariff debate as if it were about the U.S. versus China. The reality is that tariffs are about a few politically favored U.S. industries versus many politically unfavored U.S. industries and U.S. consumers.

In a partial about-face, the president recently signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. This is a mixed bag of trade restrictions and freedoms that replaces NAFTA as the rules for trade among North American countries. Like NAFTA, the USMCA takes about 1,800 pages to define “free trade” in North America. That’s about 1,800 pages more than is necessary. A true free trade agreement requires exactly zero pages, because free trade is what naturally happens when governments leave people alone to transact business as they wish.

It doesn’t bother us that our households have “trade deficits” with our grocery stores. Manufacturers in Albuquerque don’t demand that their politicians protect them from competitors in Tucson. Pennsylvanians don’t fret over buying wine from California vintners instead of those in Virginia.

In fact the only people who might complain are those who promote “buying local,” a concept as intellectually bankrupt as are Trump’s tariffs, and for the exact same reasons. In all of these economic transactions, businesses offer products and consumers search for the best quality at the lowest prices. The only difference between these examples and international trade are lines on a map. As far as the economics is concerned, those lines are irrelevant.

What politicians don’t want you to know is that tariffs and trade agreements are tools they use to pry votes from citizens. Politicians play on people’s economic ignorance by focusing on the American jobs tariffs save, while ignoring the more numerous American jobs that tariffs destroy. Rather than thanking politicians for managing trade, we should demand that they leave free people alone to spend their money as they see fit.

Economists learned more than two centuries ago that the benefits of free trade far outweigh the costs. Politicians should be ashamed for peddling economic lies simply to extract votes from people who trust them to know better. Lucky for them, politicians never seem to have any shame.

ABOUT THE WRITERS

Antony Davies is associate professor of economics at Duquesne University. James R. Harrigan teaches in the department of Political Economy and Moral Science at the University of Arizona. They host the weekly podcast Words & Numbers. They wrote this for InsideSources.com.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks after the Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/10/web1_121555067-29d8d8d40ae74370bd046eafb1b308ec.jpgSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks after the Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
OPINION

Staff & Wire Reports