Did Beto just beat himself?

News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, left, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, take part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, left, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, take part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, takes part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate with U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, takes part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)

Trailing in polls, O’Rourke lays into Cruz in Texas debate


Associated Press

Wednesday, October 17

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Democrat Beto O’Rourke abandoned his usual message of unity and optimism and laid into Ted Cruz, hoping to reverse polls that show him fading against the Republican incumbent during the second debate of a Texas Senate race that has become one of the nation’s most closely watched.

During the opening moments of the debate Tuesday night , Cruz criticized O’Rourke for past votes supporting a never-enacted oil production tax that might have hit oil-rich Texas hard. O’Rourke responded by evoking a moniker President Donald Trump bestowed on the senator when the pair were bitter rivals during the 2016 Republican presidential primary, saying, “Senator Cruz is not going to be honest with you. He’s going to make up positions and votes that I’ve never held.”

“It’s why the president called him Lyin’ Ted,” O’Rourke said, “and it’s why the nickname stuck, because it’s true.”

A former Ivy League debate champion, Cruz shot back, “It’s clear Congressman O’Rourke’s pollsters have told him to come out on the attack.”

Democrats have long dreamed about a growing Hispanic population helping to flip Texas from red to blue and shaking up the electoral map. But polls that once showed O’Rourke within striking distance of a monumental upset now suggest Cruz may be edging further ahead. No Democrat has won any of Texas’ nearly 30 statewide offices since 1994, the country’s longest political losing streak.

On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that he watched the debate and reaffirmed his support of his one-time GOP rival. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump re-tweeted an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife and suggested that his Cuban-born father had a hand in John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

“Ted is strong on Crime, Border & 2nd A, loves our Military, Vets, Low Taxes. Beto is a Flake!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

With Election Day just three weeks away, Tuesday might have been one of O’Rourke’s last shots to gain ground. It was the race’s last scheduled debate after one in Houston was canceled amid Senate floor votes on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cruz wants to participate in a previously scheduled townhall featuring just O’Rourke in the U.S.-Mexico border city of McAllen on Thursday night, but it’s unclear if that will come together in time.

The pair used this matchup to clash on abortion regulations, climate change, the nomination of Kavanaugh and a border wall backed by the Trump administration. Things never got nasty or overly personal — the borrowed “Lyin’ Ted” was the only name-calling, but both candidates tried to impress voters by criticizing their opponent’s records.

When O’Rourke said he wanted to expand federally funded health care to more Americans, Cruz said the congressman agreed with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and supported socialized medicine that would cost trillions and require sky-high tax increases. O’Rourke accused Cruz of not doing enough to stand up to Trump when it came to Russia and that the state needs a “full-time senator” rather than someone who concentrates on running for president.

Even when Cruz tried to say that he and O’Rourke were somewhat in agreement on opposing the Trump administration’s higher tariffs on foreign-made goods, O’Rourke drew laughs by replying, “Really interesting to hear you talk about the partisan circus after your six years in the Senate,” a reference to Cruz’s days as a tea party insurgent who battled President Barack Obama at every turn.

O’Rourke, who is giving up his El Paso congressional seat to challenge Cruz, shattered Senate fundraising records with any eye-popping $38-plus million in the three-month period through September. The Democrat has a campaign war chest worth $22.9 million, more than double Cruz’s about $11.3 million in cash on-hand.

Cruz kept O’Rourke on the defensive when they debated last month in Dallas, and O’Rourke — who had stuck to a bipartisan, feel-good message for months — kept a promise to sharpen his tone during Tuesday night’s debate in front of a live audience of 120 people hosted by KENS-5, the CBS affiliate.

He also noted that his monster fundraising has come without accepting donations from outside political groups, but Cruz said O’Rourke still “goes with the left-wing national activists and left-wing national donors.”

In response to a question about the #MeToo movement, O’Rourke said Cruz “inexplicably” voted against the Violence Against Women Act, saying the senator was “all talk and no action.” Cruz countered that the movement “had done an incredible amount of good for this country” and that people of both sexes need to be protected from harassment and abuse.

Even though Cruz looks to be in a better position than earlier in the race, Trump is taking the once unthinkable step of staging a rally in a state that’s so reliably conservative, heading Monday to an 8,000-seat Houston arena. The president carried Texas by a relatively small nine points in 2016. Still, Cruz has been a full-throated supporter of Trump’s since they battled during the presidential race — and hopes that the joint appearance will assuage some conservatives around the state who were angered by the past animosity.

AP FACT CHECK: https://bit.ly/2QWvFkW

EarthTalk Q&A

Carbon Tax: What Are We Waiting For?

No More Kicking Climate Change Down the Road

By Sarah Mosko October 17, 2018

Mankind has only 12 years left to make unprecedented cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if we want to stave off unimaginably catastrophic effects of runaway global warming. This is the warning detailed in October’s report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the recognized global climate authority which represents the investigations of hundreds of climate scientists and 195 participating nations.

A 2.0 degree Celsius average global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels was previously viewed by the IPCC as the tipping point beyond which global warming would spiral out of control with incomprehensibly negative consequences for humanity and the planet. We are fully half way to this cut-off, but more to the point is the revised projection by the IPCC that the worst effects will emerge with a smaller temperature rise of just 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Preventing the 1.5 degree rise necessitates, by 2030, a 45 percent reduction in GHG emissions compared to 2010 levels, with “net zero emissions by 2050” which means all emissions need be balanced by removal of an equivalent amount from the air.

If GHG emissions continue instead at the current rate, the 1.5 degree mark will be reached in 2040, producing environmental havoc that effectively ensures the end of civilization as we know it. Picture a future defined by poverty, food shortages, coastal flooding, mass migrations, ferocious storms, bigger and more intense wildfires, plus unrelenting heat that makes parts of the world unlivable.

Hearing this, Americans should be screaming from the rooftops, demanding to know how our government will prevent this very real existential threat to our own and our children’s future.

Infuriatingly, there are no signs that President Trump intends to do anything. He has both pledged to increase the burning of coal and withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. He’s also unashamedly issued executive orders to roll back Obama-era climate measures, including those reducing GHG emissions from power plants and limiting drilling for oil and gas off America’s coastlines.

No one should be fooled into thinking the current administration is ignoring climate change out of a genuine belief that climate change is not happening. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation was actually tasked with assessing how Trump’s recently proposed rollbacks in vehicle fuel efficiency standards would further worsen global warming and air quality. The resulting environmental impact statement projected a whopping rise in global temperature of 3.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 even without any rollback in fuel efficiency standards.

Obama claimed he resorted to using his presidential powers to address climate change only because Congress was failing to act. Though it’s maddening to think that Trump could continue to undo as many climate regulations as his powers permit, it’s important that the public understand that only Congress ultimately has the means to trigger the sweeping transformation of the world energy economy that could reduce GHG emissions to the extent needed to meet the 12-year deadline.

Is A Carbon Tax The Answer?

Importantly, there is strong agreement among economists (both conservatives and liberals) that there is a realistic answer to climate change: implement a market-based solution that puts a gradually rising fee on carbon emissions worldwide to effect the transition from a fossil fuel-based global economy to one reliant instead on renewable energy sources. Congress needs only to find the political will to pass a revenue-neutral price on carbon as it enters the economy (at the well, mine or port) along with a border tariff on imports imposed on countries that fail to follow to suit.

Revenue-neutrality means that the money collected is passed to American households on an equal basis in the form of a monthly dividend. Research shows such action would actually strengthen our economy while effectively addressing the problem.

It is the size of the U.S. economy that uniquely empowers us to lead the world to a green energy future, but nothing will happen without Congress stepping up. As citizens of both a democracy and a planet in crisis, now is not the time to stay silent and assume Congress will remain intransigent.

It’s hope inspiring that there is tangible evidence of a tidal change in Congress. The House Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group formed in 2016 and committed to addressing climate change. It has grown recently to 90 members (evenly split between Republicans and Democrats). That’s one-fifth of the House, and many Democrats are lined up to join as further Republicans do.

Also, a carbon tax bill was introduced in the House in July by a Republican, Carlos Curbelo of Florida. This is the first time that a House Republican is serious about climate change legislation since the House passed a cap and trade bill early in the Obama administration.

Perhaps the bill will pick up momentum if the people of Washington State vote on November 6 in favor of a first ever ballot initiative establishing a statewide carbon tax.

As frightening as the predictions of the IPCC are, we are not yet cooked. We can direct our members of Congress to fulfill this most fundamental obligation to the public – protect us from the clear and present danger of climate change by passing a carbon tax while there’s still time. Nothing short of the planet’s livability is at stake.

BBB Doesn’t Want Consumers to Fall for Halloween Tricks

Columbus, OH (October 17, 2018) – Shopping for Halloween should be fun—not terrifying. With so many costume and decoration ideas, it’s hard to choose what to buy, and where to buy it from.

According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending for 2018 is expected to reach $9 billion, with consumers planning to spend an average of $86.79 each.

A recent survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics revealed that 70 percent of Halloween celebrants will plan to pass out candy, 50 percent will decorate their home or yard, 48 percent will wear costumes, 30 percent will take their children trick-or-treating and 18 percent will dress their pets in costumes.

When it comes to purchasing costumes and other Halloween supplies, 45 percent of shoppers surveyed will visit discount stores, 35 percent will visit a Halloween store and 24 percent will shop online.

BBB recommends the following tips to avoid getting spooked this Halloween:

Look around your home

Before you head out to your nearest Halloween store, check what items you have in your home. You may find an old costume you can re-purpose, or Halloween decorations you can put out.

Rent a costume

Some people don’t like the idea of spending a lot of money on a costume that will only be worn once, which is why they look to renting. If you opt for renting a costume this year, check out the condition of the costume first. Make sure you try it on and note any defects with the owner. Read over the rental agreement carefully and make sure you make note of the rental period.

Look for sales

Compare prices on Halloween costumes and decorations from various retail or online stores. Along with comparing prices, look for coupons and sign up for email alerts. This will help you get the best deals, saving you a nice chunk of change.

Always check the return policy

Whether you are shopping in a store or online, always make sure you are clear on the store’s return policy before you buy. Find out how long you must keep your receipt, or what happens if you should lose your receipt. Remember: Buying a bunch of stuff with the intent of simply returning it after October 31st is considered fraud.

Shop smart online

When shopping from an online website, the first step is to make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The S in “https” stands for secure. Also, search for the business at bbb.org to confirm they are a trustworthy company.

Look up the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, take that as a big red flag and shop elsewhere.

Finally, be sure to use your credit card instead of your debit card, as credit cards provide additional protection and make it easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.

Seasonal Stores

If you decide to shop at a seasonal store, ask whether or not they will be open after the holiday, how long they plan to stay open, and if they will accept returns after Halloween is over. If they plan to close up shop November 1st, or refuse returns after, either consider shopping elsewhere, or take more time to be sure the item is exactly what you want before making the purchase.

More tips for seasonal “pop-up” stores:

  • See if they have a website in case you have to contact them later.
  • Save every receipt.
  • Use a credit card so you can dispute problems with the card’s issuer.
  • Make sure you are clear on what items are FINAL SALE.

Attending a special event or visiting a haunted house

Before purchasing tickets do some quick research to be sure there are no complaints about the company hosting the event.

Check out the company at bbb.org. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the business responds to complaints.

Check BBB Scam Tracker and see if other consumers have filed a report about the event host.

Search the business online adding the word “Complaint”, “Reviews” or “Scam” after their name for different search results.

For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter and at bbb.org.

About BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.

Any Senior Who Needs Home Care Should Get It

Caring for loved ones with dementia is hard enough. Families shouldn’t have to bear a financial crisis on top of that.

By Sarah Anderson | October 22, 2018

Not too many romantic comedies have a major character who goes bankrupt paying the health care costs of a loved one with dementia. Although millions of American families can relate to this financial strain, it’s not typical rom-com material.

But that’s what happens to Kelsey Grammer’s character in Like Father on Netflix. The film’s writer and director, Lauren Miller Rogen, has worked to boost Alzheimer’s education and research since her mother was diagnosed with the disease more than a decade ago.

Now Miller Rogen has teamed up with her husband, comedian Seth Rogen, to support a ballot initiative that would help less well-off families cope with the steep costs of caring for older family members with dementia and other disabilities.

The initiative, which will come before voters in Maine in November, could be a national model at a time when the costs of caring for our aging population are soaring.

The cruel disease of dementia is also our country’s most costly. And it will almost certainly get much worse. The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is on track to jump from 5.7 million today to 14 million by 2050.

Like many of the more than 16 million Americans who take care of friends and family members suffering from this disease, Kelsey Grammer’s Netflix character takes a heavy financial hit.

First he quits his job as an advertising executive to take care of his friend with dementia. Then, when the friend’s needs became too much to handle, he starts paying out of pocket for home care. Eventually he has to declare bankruptcy and loses his home after the friend dies.

In Maine, the median annual cost for full-time home care is more than $50,000 — more than the state’s annual median household income. Dementia care can run much higher because the clients need so much help.

Medicare doesn’t cover the costs of home care, and Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low that employers have difficulty finding workers willing to do this tough work for the meager wages they offer.

If voters approve the Maine plan, any senior who needs subsidized home care (not just dementia patients) will get it. The program will also raise wages for workers by requiring that at least 77 percent of the public funds going to home care agencies are used for employee compensation. Family caregivers can apply for stipends, too.

To pay for this benefit, the coalition Mainers for Health Care is calling for a payroll tax increase that would affect the top 3 percent of earners in the state.

This would help make up for the fact that our country’s highest earners contribute just a tiny share of their income to Social Security compared to the middle class. Countries like Sweden, by contrast, have no cap on contributions to their national pension fund.

In a short video with her husband to support the Maine campaign, Lauren Miller Rogen explained that her family is lucky enough to be able to afford home care for her mother.

Living with dignity shouldn’t depend on luck. All families who want to keep their older loved ones at home should be able to do so without emptying their bank accounts. The emotional toll is hard enough to bear.

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits Inequality.org. Follow her at @Anderson_IPS. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

Trump’s Gender ‘Science’ Is Reductive, Mean, and Wrong

By Jill Richardson | October 22, 2018

Trump is having a problem with sex, and it’s not exactly what you might think. There are no Russian tapes, spankings with magazines, or confessions of grabbing anyone this time around.

Specifically, it’s a problem with sex and gender.

Sex and gender aren’t the same thing, though many people mistake them for being synonymous.

I was mistaken too, until I began studying social science. I was born with two X chromosomes and all of the body parts that come with them. So I was assigned female (my sex) at birth and I was raised as a girl (my gender). Since my sex (assigned on account of chromosomes, body parts, and hormones) and my gender (all of the non-biological components of what makes you a man or a woman) matched, the two felt synonymous.

Nothing about my chromosomes or genitalia created a biological need to do the behavior associated with my gender: playing with dolls, wearing dresses, polishing my nails. But, as I was taught as a child that girls do those things, they felt right.

Social scientists say that gender is something you do, not something you are. We also talk about something called the “gender binary.” This is the false yet pervasive belief that there are two, and only two, sexes and genders.

It’s a lot more complicated than that, and not just when it comes to gender. Did you know that being intersex — having ambiguous sex characteristics — is actually as common as having red hair?

I’ve always loved being a girl. But not everyone’s sex assignments and gender assignments match. A transgender person is someone whose gender differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. A non-binary or genderqueer person may not identify as either gender.

I’ve never personally experienced what it feels like to be treated as the gender I’m not. That’s my good fortune. Trans people describe the experience as incredibly painful. Trans man Trystan Reese described it as a matter of life or death: If he couldn’t live as a man, he couldn’t go on living.

Yet Trump is now looking to define gender as the sex assigned as birth, supposedly because that’s “grounded in science.” No it bloody well isn’t, and I say that as a scientist.

Here’s what is grounded in science: Unless this country stops discriminating against transgender people and starts protecting them, more transgender people will die.

Four in ten transgender people attempt suicide. The list of reasons includes bullying, rejection by friends and family, violence, discrimination, and more.

Trump’s move — if he makes it — will serve to erase the civil rights of 1.4 million transgender Americans. An already vulnerable population will needlessly suffer more.

On the other hand, research shows that transgender people who are supported in their transition — that is, allowed to live openly and authentically as themselves, without harassment, violence, or bullying — have better mental health, life satisfaction, and even job satisfaction.

That shouldn’t be surprising: It’s true of all people. Why would the government want to do the exact opposite?

OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in San Diego. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, left, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, take part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/10/web1_121588326-f02500fa1ac94be89b849ea289b9c2c8.jpgU.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, left, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, take part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, takes part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate with U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/10/web1_121588326-c99bb6eaa75a430abaf001f23d09f669.jpgU.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, takes part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate with U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, takes part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/10/web1_121588326-3b14de46d6464136a7659f9a397045c0.jpgU.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, takes part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in San Antonio. (Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News via AP, Pool)
News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports