Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously, or, conservative thundershirt.

A recent article in Vox,  Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously means listening to what they’re actually saying, ends where we need to begin.  It makes a very strong case for the proposition that Trump voters are not — as a matter of demographic fact — poor whites pushed to the economic edge by globalization or immigration.   They tend to be more affluent than Democrats, and were approximately the same as Cruz voters.

Trump voters aren’t economically fragile; they are angry, insecure white people.  The article concludes:

What’s needed is an honest reckoning with what it means that a large segment of the US population, large enough to capture one of the two major political parties, is motivated primarily by white nationalism and an anxiety over the fast-changing demographics of the country.

Yes, exactly.  But how do we do that?  We are not going to civilize this part of our population by telling them that they are anxious, evil, wrong-thinking racists.  (OK, of course, that’s what I’m doing here.  But I’m assuming no one reads this blog, especially anxious racists.)

What we need is something like an anxious white-person Thundershirt (TM), which works very well to calm our dogs when they start barking wildly at nonexistent things that freak them out.

(Image: brown and white beagle wearing a tight grey vest around its torso.

If that doesn’t work — or if anxious white people refuse to strap themselves into a tight, gray, felt-and-Velcro contraption — we need some hard thinking about how to make them feel like they belong in the multi-racial, progressive society we are on track to becoming.  Obviously, pandering to fear and racism is not the answer.  Nor is it appropriate to demand that the targets of Trumpist hatred (blacks, Muslims, people with disabilities, immigrants, women, anyone with a shred of decency) take on the task of being teachers, hand-holders, reach-outters, or kum-ba-yah singers for precisely the folks who are currently treating them like crap.

What, then?  How to raise the dialog, create an inclusive environment, and bring the Trumpists along with us?  This will be especially necessary after the election should Clinton win.  They will be even angrier, barking at even more outlandish imagined conspiracies.

This is a very real question that desperately needs an answer.

This cute puppy has a deadly secret!

He stands for dehumanization and potentially fatal disrespect for the lives of people with disabilities.  Resist the Cute Puppy of Death — vote No on Proposition 106!

{Image: brown-haired light-skinned woman holding adorable gray puppy, both in lawn chair.}

Who doesn’t love a puppy?  Because of this, puppies advertise everything from toilet paper*, to beer**,  to the Americans with Disabilities Act***.   And likely for this same reason, Official Cute White Woman Brittany Maynard holding the Official Cute Puppy of Death has become the primary image associated with efforts to legalize physician assisted suicide, most recently Colorado’s Proposition 106, cleverly named “End of Life Options,” while offering only one new option:  death.****

The concept of Ultimate Autonomy is compelling, but both Prop 106 itself and the way it’s promoted are deeply dangerous for people with disabilities.  In my view, these are the features that are fatal to Prop 106*****:

  • “Terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live” is a very broad definition, sweeping in many people who would be dead far sooner if not for the life-sustaining drugs and technologies on which they rely, yet there is no provision in Prop 106 for ensuring a candidate for physician assisted death has been offered or even counseled on these drugs or technologies.  Again: one option — death.
  • Two physicians and, in some cases, a psychologist, must verify that the person is “mentally competent,” a term that assesses their rationality but not other psychological conditions like depression or, um, suicidal ideation, conditions that would result in prompt referral for additional counseling in non “terminal” people.  In Amy Hasbrouck’s succinct cartoon:

Image: cartoon showing a person in a wheelchair looking at a building with stairs leading to door labeled "Suicide Prevention Program," and a ramp to a door labeled "Assisted Suicide."

  • Prop 106 sends the message that lives with disabilities that would be terminal without support are “undignified” and not worth living.  As the Denver Post reported:

In 2015, the top three concerns reported in [Oregon and Washington, where it’s already legal] were of the patient being less able to engage in activities that make life enjoyable, … steadily losing autonomy,… and losing dignity.

It’s not pain; it’s exclusion, control, and dignity.  Control is something we have more and more technology to address; exclusion and dignity go straight to the heart of a disabiliphobic society. Rather than hand out lethal doses, why not find ways to make “activities that make life enjoyable” more accessible to all?  And why have we defined “dignity” in a way that requires you to be buff, mobile, and continent?  I personally believe that dignity inheres in compassion, love, and a twisted sense of humor, none of which requires continence.

Carrie Ann Lucas summarized the problems in a January 2016 op-ed opposing assisted suicide bills pending in Colorado that were ultimately defeated.  Carrie explains that she would be eligible for death under the terms of the bill:

I am a person with multiple disabilities, including a progressive neuromuscular disease that has caused me to lose muscle function throughout my entire body. I have a gastrostomy tube, and I am dependent on a ventilator to breathe. Without my ventilator, I don’t have years to live. I don’t have six months, six weeks, or six days — I have hours. . . . I have a terminal condition — very much like ALS — and if assisted suicide were legal, I would qualify.

Though she qualifies for a lethal dose, Carrie is instead a leading disability rights lawyer and the sort of mom who makes sure her kids know how to cook and fish and protest social injustice. And!  Carrie has a puppy, too!  Her puppy is even cuter than The Cute Puppy of Death.  Her puppy is named Dart, after disability rights hero Justin Dart.

Support Dart, The Avenging Puppy of Disability Rights:  Vote No on 106!

Image: 9 week old black lab puppy laying on his human, sleeping with ears flopped out.

You can learn more at these sites:


*Linked image shows Labrador puppy on his back, covered with rose petals, advertising Cottonelle toilet paper.

** Linked image shows white guy in ball cap holding a Labrador puppy up to a fence, in which a bottle of Budweiser is perched; a horse looks at the beer bottle from the other side of the photo.

*** Linked image shows one slide from my attempt to explain Title III of the ADA using a photo of our 6-week-old golden retriever puppy with the words, “Title III of the ADA governs businesses like stores, restaurants, and theaters.”

**** As the inimitable Ingrid Tischer once said, how about if the options included adequate, accessible health care, attendant care, durable medical equipment and technology, and pain relief.   I’m pretty sure Ingrid said this, but I couldn’t find a link while I was drafting this, but also didn’t want to take credit for the thought when I’m pretty sure I read it on Tales From the Crip.

***** The official voter guide sets out the opposition thus:

1) Encouraging the use of lethal medication by terminally ill people may send the message that some lives are not worth living to their natural conclusion. People who are in the final stages of life are often in fear of the dying process. The availability of medical aid-in-dying may encourage people to make drastic decisions based on concerns about the potential loss of autonomy and dignity, not realizing that modern palliative and hospice care may effectively address these concerns. Services such as pain and symptom management, in-home services, and counseling can help individuals navigate the end of their lives while minimizing suffering. Promoting medical aid-in-dying may lead to a reduced emphasis on treatment and development of new options for end-of-life care.

2) Proposition 106 creates opportunities for abuse and fraud. The protections in the measure do not go far enough to shield vulnerable people from family members and others who may benefit from their premature death. Proposition 106 allows a family member or heir to be one of the witnesses to a request for the medication, potentially subjecting the individual to coercion. The measure does not require that a physician have any specific training in order to make an assessment of the individual or require independent verification that the medication was taken voluntarily or under medical supervision. Proposition 106 fails to ensure that the lethal medication will be stored in a safe location, potentially placing others at risk or leading to its misuse.

3) Proposition 106 may force physicians to choose between medical ethics and a request to die from a person for whom they feel compassion. The measure compromises a physician’s judgment by asking him or her to verify that an individual has a prognosis of six months or less to live, yet fails to recognize that diagnoses can be wrong and prognoses are estimates, not guarantees. The measure also requires that the physician or hospice director list the terminal illness or condition on the death certificate, which requires these professionals to misrepresent the cause of death.

Freedom isn’t free

Image:  American flag with these words written in the white stripes:  Freedom isn't free.  It requires you to be cool  that not everyone agrees with you.

Image:  American flag with these words written in the white stripes:  Freedom isn’t free. It requires you to be cool  that not everyone agrees with you.

The Guardian:  Decision to deny surgery to obese patients is like ‘racial discrimination’ 

The group said it had taken the decision because it was the “best way of achieving maximum value from the limited resources available”.

No, really, this is a great idea.  Let’s change perfectly legal human behavior ex post, as we say in the law biz, by refusing to treat them when this (did I mention perfectly legal?) behavior requires it, and save a boatload in hospital costs, as well.

  • Injured in a car accident because you weren’t wearing a seat belt?  Before we stitch up your head and set your leg, you’ll have to wait six months and take a driving safety course.
  • Too many G&Ts and now your liver is shot?  We’ll wait til you sober up and then treat you.
  • Gout?  You’ll have to spend six months on a macrobiotic diet before you can even get an appointment.
  • Sports injury?  Seriously, that is all your fault.  Spend six months vegging on the sofa with a book like the good Lord intended, and maybe we’ll see to your torn ACL.
  • Shot by a jealous spouse/lover?  Probably should have thought about that before stepping out on them.  Six months of counseling and we’ll be happy to help you with that gun shot wound.

And the great thing, costsavingswise, is that most of the time, you’ll be dead by the time you are eligible for treatment, which is a huge savings.



Source: Decision to deny surgery to obese patients is like ‘racial discrimination’ | Society | The Guardian

Mother Jones: I Spent 5 Years With Some of Trump’s Biggest Fans. Here’s What They Won’t Tell You.

The deep story was a feels-as-if-it’s-true story, stripped of facts and judgments, that reflected the feelings underpinning opinions and votes. It was a story of unfairness and anxiety, stagnation and slippage—a story in which shame was the companion to need.

. . .

We may never know if Trump has done this intentionally or instinctively, but in any case he’s created a movement much like the anti-immigrant but pro-welfare-state right-wing populism on the rise in Europe. For these are all based on variations of the same Deep Story of personal protectionism.

My sense is that we should not be making fun of Trump voters.  I depart from Elizabeth Warren on this.  If we are going to be stronger together, we need to include these folks — not by pandering to their fears and prejudices but by respecting them as people (if not their views) and figuring out how to build a future that includes them.

Source: I Spent 5 Years With Some of Trump’s Biggest Fans. Here’s What They Won’t Tell You. | Mother Jones

What Did Donald Trump Imply? (Guest post!)

I’m not a lawyer. I’m a mom. More specifically, I’m Amy’s mom. She’s swamped with work, so I’m pinch-hitting.  [Thanks, Mom! – ed.]

Like many people I was appalled by Donald Trump’s apparent incitement to violence as part of the speech he gave in Wilmington, N.C. on August 9. On August 10, both the Washington Post and the New York Times led with reports on the implications of this speech, and both papers editorialized about it.

With a hat tip to linguists professor Geoffrey Pullum for the context, here’s what Mr. Trump said:

Hillary wants to abolish
— essentially abolish —
the Second Amendment.
By the way,
if she gets to pick her judges… [long pause]
Nothing you can do, folks. [long pause]
Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.

Many people, myself included, felt that this was a call to assassinate Hillary Clinton. In political speeches, as in stand-up comedy, timing is everything, and Professor Pullum’s insertion of the pauses is important. After Mr. Trump says, “Nothing you can do folks,” he pauses, as if he were thinking about what he had just said. As if he were saying to himself that possibly there is something that can be done [about his ridiculous claim that a president can single-handedly abolish part of the U.S. Constitution]. He then says, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is [something you can do], I don’t know.”

The Trump campaign says that interpreting this as incitement to violence is nonsense. He was merely saying that people who value their Second Amendment privileges should be sure to vote in November. But if you watch the video of this passage of the speech (there are dozens on YouTube), you will see someone (red t-shirt or polo shirt) sitting behind and to the left of Mr. Trump whose jaw drops. He can’t believe Trump just said that. If you keep watching, you’ll see that this same guy breaks into a big smile and turns, laughing, to the woman sitting next to him. What’s Mr. Red Shirt thinking? “Wow! Did Trump just give us permission to go out and shoot Hillary?” Or is he thinking, “Yeah, he’s right. We gotta remember to vote on November 8.” As the sportscasters sometimes say, “You make the call.”

The Washington Post editorialized as follows:  “If Mr. Trump were not a major-party presidential candidate, his comment Tuesday might have earned him a stern visit from the Secret Service.”  The New York Times’s editorial reminds us of the New Hampshire delegate to the Republican Convention, Al Baldasaro, who said that Ms. Clinton should “be put in the firing line and shot for treason.” “That comment,” says the Times,” wound up on the Secret Service’s radar. Mr. Trump’s comment should as well.”

What does the law say about these kinds of remarks? Check out 18 U.S.C. § 879, which says

(a)Whoever knowingly and willfully threatens to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm upon-  [(1), (2) and (4) a former President, member of the former President’s immediate family; President, Vice-President, President-elect and immediate families; a person protected by the Secret Service…]

And then there’s subsection (3):

(3) a major candidate for the office of President or Vice President, or a member of the immediate family of such candidate

Ms. Clinton qualifies under three of the four subsections: immediate family of a former president, major candidate for president, and a person under the protection of the Secret Service.

So what’s going to happen to a person who “knowingly and willfully” threatens to kill, etc. someone listed in sections 1 through 4?

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

Two things are pretty clear to me and to many other people: Donald Trump threatened the life of Hillary Clinton, and such threats are illegal and subject to fines, imprisonment, or both. Two major newspapers have said or implied that Mr. Trump should be at least investigated under 18 U.S.C § 879, but, somehow, I doubt that he will be. I would be investigated if I said that. You would, too. But probably not Donald Trump.

Flossing and the dental hygiene paradigm of race discourse | Nonprofit With Balls

As always, Vu Le, at Nonprofit with Balls, says it best:

Flossing and the Dental Hygiene Paradigm of Race Discourse

[Quoting Jay Smooth:] “We don’t assume, I’m a clean person therefore I do not need to clean my teeth. Being a clean person is something you maintain and work on every day […] And when someone suggests to us that we’ve got something stuck in our teeth, we don’t say, ‘I have something stuck in my teeth?! But I’m a clean person!’”

Undoing racism and other forms of injustice is a practice we must do every day, like brushing our teeth, according to Jay Smooth. We must look in the mirror constantly. And like brushing, on some days, we’re better at it than on others. On occasion, we don’t spend enough time, and we still have bits of gross stuff stuck in our chompers even though we feel minty fresh. Sometimes we’re lazy and just gargle with some bourbon and call it a night.

With all the injustice out there that we are trying to fight, let’s give each other some grace. Let’s admit we don’t know everything and we can’t be perfect. Let’s all lower our defenses and see each other as imperfect human beings trying hard to do some good in a complex world. And when someone says, “Hey, you got a little bit of racism (or sexism, or ableism, or ageism, etc.) stuck in your teeth,” we thank them, do some looking in the mirror to remove it, and continue forward to make our world better.

Source: Flossing and the dental hygiene paradigm of race discourse | Nonprofit With Balls