Wisconsin Unrest

 ACLU Calls for Resignation 

of  Kenosha Police Chief, County Sheriff

Chief Blames Blames Victims of Shooting For Own Deaths

KENOSHA - (ACLU) - 8/28/2020 — Following the lead of organizers on the ground, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and National ACLU called for the immediate resignation Aug. 27 of Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth. The ACLU’s demand follows the shooting of Jacob Blake and the murder of two protestors, who were shot by a 17-year. See: 17-year-old participating in a counter-protest.

Sheriff David Beth's deputies not only fraternized with white supremacist counter-protesters on Tuesday, but allowed the shooter to leave as people yelled that he was the shooter. The sheriff excused this by saying his deputies may not have paid attention to the gunman because there were many distractions, including “screaming” and “hollering,” people running, police vehicles idling, “nonstop radio traffic,” and that “in situations that are high stress, you have such an incredible tunnel vision.” Sheriff Beth was also criticized last year after calling for five people of color who had been arrested for shoplifting to be put into warehouses “where weput these people who have been deemed to be no longer an asset.”

During the Kenosha Police Department’s first press conference in response to the Blake shooting and subsequent murders committed at protests, Police Chief Daniel Miskinis blamed the unidentified victims in Tuesday night’s shooting for their own deaths, saying the violence was the result of the “persons” involved violating curfew.

“The ACLU strongly condemns Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Miskinis’ response to both the attempted murder of Jacob Blake and the protests demanding justice for him. Their actions uphold and defend white supremacy, while demonizing people who were murdered for exercising their First Amendment rights and speaking out against police violence,” said Chris Ott, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “The only way to rectify these actions is for both Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Daniel Miskinis to immediately tender their resignations.”

If Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Miskinis refuse to immediately tender their resignation, the ACLU is calling for Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian to demand the police chief’s removal by the Kenosha Police and Fire Commission, and the sheriff’s removal by Gov. Tony Evers.

The ACLU is asking people to call both the sheriff's office and the police chief's office. More information is available here: release

Citizenship Trends


Number of Americans Renouncing  

Citizenship Hits All Time High

By Steve Rensberry
RP News 

Graph courtesy of statista
   EDWARDSVILLE, Ill., (RP NEWS) - 8/22/2020 - New York tax and accounting firm Bambridge Accountants released a report this month stating that the number of Americans who have renounced their citizenship has hit a record high this year.

   The announcement was reported on by data journalist Niall McCarthy of Statista, who notes that a total of 5,816 people gave up their U.S. citizenship during the first six months of 2020. This is more than double the number who relinquished their citizenship for all of 2019.

   “The process involves paying a $2,350 government fee and expatriates have to present themselves in person at the U.S. embassy in their country of residence. Under IRS rules, the government publishes the names of all Americans who have given up their citizenship on a quarterly basis,” McCarthy writes.

   Bambridge Accountants notes on its website that just 444 cases were recorded in the last six months of 2019, and only 2,072 Americans gave up their citizenship during all of 2019, representing an increase this year of 1,210 percent.

   “The is the second highest quarter on record; the record is 2,909 cases for the first quarter of 2020,” the firm states. “It seems that the pandemic has motivated U.S. expats to cut ties and avoid the current political climate and onerous tax reporting . . . . There are an estimated 9 million U.S. expats. The trend has been that there has been a steep decline over the last few years of U.S. citizens expatriating - the first six months of 2020 is a huge increase in the number of Americans renouncing their citizenship.”

Politics in America


Be Careful What You Wish For

Some Thoughts on the Upcoming Election

By James Grandone
Guest Columnist

   I’ve spent many years being involved in campaign management and have managed, created campaign strategies or been press secretary for 13 campaigns ranging from presidential and congressional to local tax referendums with an 85 percent win rate. So, I think I would share some thoughts on the upcoming election. And while I am proscribed from endorsing any candidates in this newspaper’s column, I can present facts from which you can derive your own opinion.

Jim Grandone

   This year, the presidential campaign seems to focus on likeability, that elusive term that can only be measured by approval ratings.

   As far as likability, neither Trump nor Clinton were exactly loved in 2016. According to the Washington Post in 2016, Trump’s 61 percent unfavorable score was the worst in presidential polling history, while Clinton’s 52 percent unfavorable was the second worst.

   In this year’s election, according to Gallup’s July survey, Trump’s approval rating is 41 percent. In the most recent Gallup poll in May, Biden’s approval rating stood at 53 percent.

   In terms of qualifications, you have Trump who has been President for more than three years and Biden who served in Congress and as Vice President for many more years. One could conclude Biden has the advantage and he may well win the popular vote in a landslide. But that may not be enough to become the 46th President of the United States.

   In fact, a handful of states this year including, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Pennsylvania, hold the fate of both candidates, according to Dan Balz with the Washington Post. The Electoral College, a relic from the 18th Century, will decide who will be president and the race is close. Some would call that a Tyranny of the Minority.

   Should we do away with the Electoral College? Several national organizations are fighting to do just that this year. What if Biden wins the popular vote in a landslide and loses in the Electoral College?

   Democracy is good, but we are reminded that the Tyranny of the Majority is also quite real. In fact, to win a majority for president, it would only require a handful of big states, such as California, Florida, New York, Illinois and Texas, to elect the president without the electoral college and they are heavily Democratic. What about the rest of the states? Would winning only require campaigns in the top five states? How would that affect national policy? Would politicians pander to those states at the expense of the other 45? Nothing is simple in politics.

   There’s an old saying in politics and life, “Be careful what you wish for.”


Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.


(Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the Edwardsville Intelligencer)
Posted on RP News, Aug 17, 2020

Election 2020

Biden's VP Pick Checks 

All The Right Boxes

By Cheryl Eichar Jett

   EDWARDSVILLE, Ill., (RP NEWS) - 8/17/2020 - One hundred years nearly to the day (August 18, 1920) after the ratification of the 19th Amendment that guaranteed American women (white women, anyway) the vote, a multi-racial woman – Kamala Harris – made history this past week as the first woman of color to run for vice-president on a major

Graph courtesy of statista
party ticket. After a closely-followed, much-speculated, but tightly-held process to determine his pick, former vice-president Joe Biden selected Senator Harris (D-CA) and on Tuesday, August 11, he announced his pick via Twitter. His tweet was picked up immediately and news outlets quickly spread the announcement. Republican mistruths and conspiracies were not far behind.

   In many opinions, including my own, Sen. Harris checks all the right boxes to serve as former vice-president Joe Biden's running mate. Some of these are obvious. She's a woman – of color. And some check marks have been on display – in spades – particularly since the announcement. Motivated supporters contributed, allowing the campaign to rake in $48 million in as many hours. And, fulfilling one of the modern roles of a vice-presidential candidate, Harris has shown that she's capable of assuming the role of attack dog.

   So what are the ways that Harris fills the bill as Biden's vice-presidential candidate – and as vice-president, should their Democratic ticket win the election?

Attack Dog

   Harris has already proven that she can competently handle the task of launching attacks on the opposition. At their August 11 press conference, she and Biden seemed to already have their routine down pat. Biden outlined issues and touched on policies, while Harris offered attacks on the Trump administration's failures, followed by assurances that Biden would capably lead their new administration. Several pundits have been heard commenting on Harris' ability to “throw a real good punch.” And Joy Reid, MSNBC host of “The ReidOut,” commented that “anyone who criticizes her will face a wall of opposition.” Harris has been a fierce and consistent critic of Trump. Reid has called her the “anti-Trump.”

Kamala Harris / Wikimedia Commons

 Female During the Trump Era

   Of course, this is a historically significant pick in the era of the “me too” movement, the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and the surge of women voters and electees in the 2018 election. Harris is the first African American, the first Asian American, and the first Howard University (a historically black college) vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) said, “This is huge.” Presidential historian Michael Beschloss described the pick as it “recognizes the glory of diversity in America.” Beschloss added that Harris' entire career had been spent “defending the rule of law, at the time the rule of law is under grave danger from the president.” “A really qualified choice and future leader of the Democratic party,” said political consultant James Carville.

Biden's Preference For a Close Connection

   Harris became good friends with Biden's son Beau when they were fellow state attorney generals – Harris in California and Beau Biden in Delaware. That's when Joe Biden first met Harris. Sharp-eyed journalists and photographers zeroed in on Biden's notes at a campaign event on July 28, which at the top of the list said “do not hold grudges,” assumed to be a reference to Harris' sharp attack on Biden in the first primary debate over Biden's opposition to school busing in the 1970s. Biden apparently kept his own advice in mind. Columnist Eugene Robinson commented that both Biden and Harris have the empathetic connection thing going for them.”

Harris' Multi-Racialism Offers Many Americans A Connection

   Harris' Indian mother and Jamaican father emigrated to the US, where they married and had two daughters, Kamala and Maya. At her graduation from Howard University, Harris looked around and realized how many graduates looked like her – multi-racial. In John Blake's article, “Why Kamala Harris as VP would be a revelation for Black America,” Blake states, “Presidential candidate Joe Biden's selection of Harris as his running mate could have a similar impact. Thousands of students at Howard and other historically Black colleges and universities – known as HBCUs – can now look at the 55-year-old Harris' ascension and say the same: She looks like me.”

Articulate and Strong Debater

   Joe Biden, if he didn't already know, found this out during the televised first primary debate when Harris went after him on his school busing stance back in the 1970s. Reverend Al Sharpton has called her a “very good debater. She will give Vice-President Pence a very bad evening in the debates.” At the same time, she is clear-eyed about what will be coming at her, both on the vice-presidential debate stage and in the opposition's ads and tweets. Harris has stated in interviews that she knows what's coming from the Trump campaign – “lies.”

Reputation as Champion For The People

   Harris' reputation-making achievement as California Attorney General was the $20 billion in settlement funds for California homeowners that her negotiations eventually garnered. Playing hardball and pulling out of the nationwide mortgage settlement talks in 2011, Harris was under fire from housing rights advocates and union leaders for doing so. In the long run, the larger mortgage settlement – the $20 billion – finally came through to mitigate some of the disastrous effects of the financial and housing crisis of 2008.

Liberal Voting Record In The Senate

   Despite a reputation that seems to persist as a “law and order” or “top cop” senator, Harris has maintained one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate during her term as junior senator from California, according to watchdog groups. A recent ranking by the government watchdog website GovTrack.us ranked Harris more liberal than Bernie Sanders.

In Duo With Biden, Gives Voters A Clear Choice

   The Biden-Harris campaign presents a clear choice between government for the people, and government for one's own purposes and pockets, as exhibited by the Trump administration. The Biden-Harris team has been visible in the past week providing leadership on the COVID crisis that is sorely lacking from the current occupant of the White House. As Princeton University James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies, author, and cable news commentator Eddie S. Glaude Jr. said recently, it will now be a “reckoning at the ballot box” between two very stark choices.

Fund Raising

   And finally, as mentioned above, her announcement as VP pick touched off a record-breaking wave of donations to the campaign. Of course, Biden is hoping that this is the tip of the iceberg as their campaign gathers steam. See: Biden Campaign Raise $48 Million in 2 Days

   As Harris continues to prove her mettle on these points, one can't help but think, even if it's a simplistic notion, that it's a rewarding nod to the 19th Amendment ratification 100 years ago, and to the suffragettes who made it happen.


Politics and Democracy

Democracy in an Age of

Anti-Majoritarian Doublespeak

By Steve Rensberry
Lincoln in Springfield, Ill./  RP News Photo
(RP News) - 8/15/2020 - “America is a republic, not a democracy.” How often have you heard that phrase?
    I've heard it on and off my whole life, but most recently came across it as the title of a work by Assumption College Professor Bernard Dobski, described as a visiting scholar with the Simon Center for American Studies by The Heritage Foundation (First Principles No. 80: Foundational Concepts to Guide Politics and Policy, June 2020)
    The publication is too predictable. There is little disagreement that America is not a pure democracy. Neither are there a lot of voices arguing that it should be. The founding documents themselves, particularly the Federalist Papers, explicitly limited public and collective control of government in favor of elected representatives--gatekeepers of sorts--who could temper the citizenry's excessive impulses.
    Such representatives, however, are ultimately chosen through an electoral process set up to operate democratically with fixed regularity --- in effect turning the majoritarian public into gatekeepers for the gatekeepers. Our Constitutionally mandated system of laws and precedent is meant to guide the boundaries of acceptable behavior further still. The Electoral College, arguably, performs a similar gate-keeping function.
    Some people prefer the term “Constitutional republic,” but the best term in my view is “representative democracy,” which fairly well describes a country that is of the people, by the people, and for the people, yet incorporates a system of representation that guards against mob impulses. Are we splitting hairs? Possibly.
    Neither the Heritage Foundation nor Dr. Dobski seem too keen on the democracy part of it though, as this published summary of the article shows. (reference) To quote:

   America is a republic and not a pure democracy. The contemporary efforts to weaken our republican customs and institutions in the name of greater equality thus run against the efforts by America’s Founders to defend our country from the potential excesses of democratic majorities. American republicanism and the ordered liberty it makes possible are grounded in the Federalists’ recognition that non-majoritarian parts of the community make legitimate contributions to the community’s welfare, and that preserving these contributions is the hallmark of political justice. But, the careful balance produced by our mixed republic is threatened by an egalitarianism that undermines the social, familial, religious, and economic distinctions and inequalities that undergird our political liberty. Preserving the republican freedoms we cherish requires tempering egalitarian zeal and moderating the hope for a perfectly just democracy.

   I'll try to keep my argument short but have four points to make:
   1) Protecting one's country from the excesses of anything sounds eminently reasonable, especially if such excesses are of a negative nature, whether due to a tyrannical minority or a misguided majority.
   2) It is entirely understandable how modern efforts toward greater equality might weaken “republican customs and institutions” -- especially if those customs and institutions have helped to perpetuate discriminatory and abusive or socially harmful behavior, which is kind of the point.
   3) While we are not a pure democracy, neither are we a pure republic. The authority and power of ordinary citizens, or the collective population, is limited, as is the power of representatives who have a sworn duty to do what is in the best interests of the people who elected them.
   4) Read this sentence from Dobski carefully: “American republicanism and the ordered liberty it makes possible are grounded in the Federalists’ recognition that non-majoritarian parts of the community make legitimate contributions to the community’s welfare, and that preserving these contributions is the hallmark of political justice.” Now ask yourself, what does “ordered liberty,” “non-majoritarian parts,” and “political justice,” mean? They can and do mean a whole lot of things. “Ordered liberty” could just as well mean a jail cell as it does traffic laws, and Dobski's use of the term “non-majoritarian parts” is disturbingly open-ended, contrary to the concept of non-majoritarian institutions, which I don't think he means. 
    It's clear from this quote and others that the concepts of equality and egalitarianism are particularly loathsome to Dobski, and to others discontented with democracy. Is it because such ideas challenge established social hierarchies, or pose a challenge to groups or religious institutions who would rather not be held accountable? I would argue yes.
    Consider Dobski's own words:
   “As [Alex de] Tocqueville correctly foresaw, the limitless passion for equality—the root cause for seeking direct democracy—undermines respect for all of those social, familial, civic, and religious institutions that separate individuals from one another, establish hierarchies, dictate codes of behavior, and, most importantly, help us preserve our liberties,” he writes.
   In other words: Separation and division are good and natural, while things like unity, acceptance of diversity, and equality are bad and artificially imposed.
   Truth is, the society that Dobski defends is a society that works best when everyone knows their place, and where religious leaders, political leaders, and those who “know best” are given preference in all things, even science. One of many stretches in logic he makes is theorizing about a “democratic theory applied to minds,” with respect to the COVID-19 crisis. He writes: “The democratic theory of minds does not recognize a hierarchy of human knowledge in which scientific expertise is governed and regulated by prudential political judgments, themselves drawn from an understanding of the political good.”
   I think it's his way of saying that democratic minds just don't understand the big picture, because they're all about numbers, but republican minds do.
   The solvency of democratic governments around the world, and respect for democratic institutions in general, has definitely been a topic of concern in recent years, with our own anti-majoritarian political shift to the right mirrored by similar shifts in other parts of the world. It's not the first time we've seen this tug-of-war. Looking through an old copy of a 1955 book by famed political columnist Walter Lippman, The Public Philosophy, I came across this paragraph mid-way through: (reference)
   “The plight of the modern democracies is serious. They have suffered great disasters in this century and the consequences of these disasters are compounding themselves,” Lippman wrote. “The end is not yet clear. The world that is safe for democracy and is safely democratic is shrunken. It is still shrinking. For the disorder which has been incapacitating the democracies in this century is, if anything, becoming more virulent as time goes on.”
   He could have written it yesterday.

Crime and Justice

'Operation Legend' Nets Arrests, But

Questions of Efficacy and Motive Remain

Federal DOJ Initiative Expands to St. Louis, Memphis

By Steve Rensberry
RP News /Analysis

    EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- (RP News) 8/11/2020 - The U.S. Department of Justice, Western District of Missouri, melded public relations with hard news in a recent press release pertaining to “Operation Legend,” a federal law-enforcement initiative the release describes as “a federal partnership with local law enforcement to address the increase in homicides and violent crime in Kansas City, Mo., in 2020.” Reducing violent crime is everyone's goal, but apart from making 59 arrests -- a fraction of the total arrests most city departments make in one week -- the release declines, unfortunately, to detail the larger scope of the initiative or to provide any real hard data justifying federal intervention, not even a citation.
    Another DOJ announcement on July 29 did detail the expanding scope, but similarly glossed over its unilateral nature and the fact that some local authorities and residents have not particularly wanted the federal government's involvement, nor thought it was necessary. As far as we can determine, no governor or mayor in the country was actively seeking such federal law enforcement assistance prior to this initiative, though not all have objected. The July 29 announcement states that the operation has been expanded to include Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Other announcements have been released noting its expansion to Chicago and Albuquerque on July 22, and on Aug. 6 it was announced that Operation Legend would be expanded to St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn.
   Another thing the release did not address: the fact that some elected officials resented being told “after the fact,” as was the case with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who said he had only learned about it after receiving calls from reporters. “That's not how partnerships work,” he said. His reaction has been widely reported elsewhere.
    Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was not opposed to the operation as long as the effort was a genuine partnership, and as long as it was not going to be like Portland, with unnamed, secret federal agents.”
    How much is being done out of genuine necessity and how much is being done for political reasons or for some co-joining purpose?   
    Department of Homeland Security officials have said the federal government's response to the Portland protests is unrelated to the federal effort in other cities, with the focus primarily on stopping violence and crime that they maintain is out of control. In contrast, the stated reason for the federal effort in Portland was to protect federal buildings.
    As for the crime rate, FactCheck.org provides a detailed analysis by Lori Robinson that shows, somewhat convincingly, that the president is simply wrong. Robinson quotes Richard Berk, professor of criminology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania, as saying that FBI statistics show “crime generally has been going down [for] quite some time, and well before Trump took office. If you believe the national data, there has been a pretty long term decline.”
    Statista provides a useful report using FBI statistics for the years 1990-2018, and states: “The rate of reported violent crime has fallen since a high of 758.20 reported crimes in 1991 to a low of 361.6 reported violent crimes in 2014.” The rate in 2018 was marginally higher at 368.9 per 100,000.
    Noting the arrest of 59 more people in Kansas, the latest release states that seven arrests involved murder suspects, some involved stolen vehicles and illegal drugs, and a total of 17 firearms were seized. It also included photos and captions about a meeting U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison had with Pastor Darron Edwards of the United Believers Community Church, where they apparently discussed the federal initiative. “U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison met with a group of pastors this week to discuss Operation Legend, listen to their concerns, and respond to their questions,” one caption reads.
    The release marks a noticeable shift from most justice department announcements, which rarely, if ever, include photos or other extraneous appearances by officials connected with such operations.
   “Among the remaining 53 arrests in the past week, 35 were fugitives with either state or federal warrants for their arrest. The remaining 18 non-fugitive arrests were referred for prosecution in state court. Seven arrests were for homicides, for a total of 12 homicide arrests under Operation Legend. Other offenses cited in the arrests included assault (including non-fatal shootings), drug trafficking, illegally possessing firearms, robbery, bank robbery, child molestation, sexual assault, possessing stolen property and possessing stolen firearms,” it states.
    Operation Legend comes at a time when protesters around the country are calling for a reduction in police department funding, citing abusive and excessive practices. Some local leaders, however, such as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, said they welcomed the push and federal help in reducing violent crime.
    The Aug. 6 announcement about the expansion to Memphis and St. Louis repeats the same statement that Barr has made in other announcements: “The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens.” It notes that Barr has directed agents with the ATF, FBI, DEA, and U.S. Marshals Service to “significantly increase resources into Memphis and St. Louis in the coming weeks.” 

Illinois Politics

Illinois AG Trounces Bailey's

Court Case Against Gov. Pritzker

 Raoul Gives 4 Reasons Why Plaintiff's Motion Should Be Denied

                                                          By Steve Rensberry
                                                                    RP News
   EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -(RP NEWS) - 8/7/2020 - Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul blasted Illinois Rep. Darren Bailey's (R-Xenia) latest filing in his case against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, slamming Bailey's reasons for keeping this case in the courts -- a case that has become increasingly moot in many circles because of the governor's Emergency Management Act powers (IEMA Act, 20 ILCS 3305) and the continuing state of concern about the spread of the virus.
     The AG's case filing took place on Aug. 6.
    “Public rhetoric notwithstanding, Bailey has made every effort to prevent this Court from issuing either an injunction that would bar the Governor from exercising Emergency Management Act powers . . . or a final judgment that would resolve the parties’ dispute in this Court once and for all, Response to Defendants [sic] Motion to Dismiss . . . The July 2 Order is neither final nor enforceable because it involves fewer than all issues and does not include “a finding that there is no just reason for delaying enforcement or appeal,” Raoul's legal filing in Clay County states.
   Raoul had sought consideration of the case in late May in federal court, but plaintiff Attorney Tom DeVore filed to move it to Clay County, arguing that it violated the principle of federalism whereby federal courts may only hear certain kinds of cases, namely those involving only federal matters.
   Bailey's latest argument, as characterized by Raoul, essentially states that since no one has yet died in Clay County from COVID-19, and since only nine people so far have contracted it, therefore there is no “high probability” that a “large number” of deaths will result, or of “widespread exposure.”
   “Bailey's argument reduces to the proposition that an event has no probability of occurring until it has occurred,” Raoul's filing states. “Or to put it another way, a highly contagious and deadly virus has no probability of causing widespread harm until it does. This reasoning is stunningly illogical, and the Court should not accept it.”
   The AG castigates Bailey's motives in the case: “Ordinarily, a litigant who had convinced a court to rule in his favor on the merits of his case would take immediate action to effectuate that result. Here, Bailey did the opposite. He resisted every effort to dismiss his one outstanding count and transform the Court's interloculatory order into a final judgement . . . . To this day, the July 2 Order binds no one and has no legal effect because Bailey apparently prefers it to remain a meaningless piece of paper -- in stark distinction to the far-reaching consequences he ascribes to it in the public eye.”
   Specifically, the filing urges the court to deny Bailey's motion for these reasons:

  •    First, Bailey’s proposed additional count fails to state a cause of action because the Emergency Management Act does not require the Governor to make disaster determinations on a county-by-county basis.
  •    Second, Bailey’s proposed additional count fails to state a cause of action because he does not plead facts sufficient to show that there is currently no “public health emergency” in Clay County.
  •    Third, Bailey lacks standing to pursue his proposed additional count because a decision in his favor will not redress his claimed injury. This is because Bailey fails to challenge an independent basis for the Governor’s authority to exercise emergency powers—the existence of an “epidemic” in Clay County.
  •    Fourth, Bailey’s proposed additional count is untimely and, in the context of his many other gambits designed to delay the conclusion of these proceedings, reflects an ongoing bad-faith effort to abuse the judicial process for political gain.
    Bailey filed another petition on Aug. 5 seeking a civil contempt order against the governor for imposing additional executive orders following the first one, in violation of a July 2 ruling by Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney. 
   Bailey urged in a public announcement that a special legislative session be held to address the issues. “Apparently, some people have forgotten we have a representative government. The General Assembly needs to convene immediately to address the critical issues of governance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of the one-person rule from the Governor’s headquarters in Chicago."
   (Thank you to Rich Miller at capitolfax.com for info on this latest AG court filing.)

Economic Outlook

NRF Chief Economist Says Recovery 

‘Being Tested Daily’ With COVID Rise

   WASHINGTON - (BUSINESS WIRE) - 8/6/2020 - Despite broad indications that the economy has begun to recover as businesses reopen from the coronavirus pandemic, conflicting data makes it difficult to say how steadily the comeback will continue, National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said on Aug. 3.
      “Optimism about the economy
and retail spending is being tested daily with the spread of the coronavirus,” Kleinhenz said. “Big questions are looming, and we are all grappling to discern what incoming data is telling us about the health of the economy and consumers. Depending on the data selected, the answers are not entirely clear.”
   Kleinhenz’s remarks came in the August issue of NRF’s Monthly Economic Review, which said monthly indicators showed the economy improving in May and June but that more frequent data showed the pace of recovery flattening by mid-July. The chart accompanying this story is courtesy of statista, with Creative Commons License here.
   “A key question is whether the pace of growth and momentum will carry forward over the next few months,” Kleinhenz said. “Based on quarterly and monthly data, the U.S. economic recovery continues despite elevated COVID-19 cases. But in examining weekly data, the pace of improvement appears to be slowing. Could it be that we are at or heading back to the same spot we were at two months ago?”
Economists traditionally look at monthly and quarterly numbers to gauge the status of businesses and consumers. But the release of that data lags weeks behind when it is collected. And with the situation changing rapidly since the outbreak of the coronavirus early this year, more frequent information has been needed to keep up. In response, the Federal Reserve and others have begun tracking some indicators as often as weekly.
   Consumer spending was up 8.2 percent in May, for example, ending two consecutive months of decline, and up another 5.6 percent in June. Meanwhile, retail spending as calculated by NRF – excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – was up 4.9 percent in June. Monthly numbers for July are not available yet. But the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Weekly Economic Index – a composite of indicators – worsened from -6.65 percent on July 18 to -7.24 percent as of July 25, with officials citing a decrease in retail sales. The weekly Mobility and Engagement Index from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas also showed the economy leveling off in mid-July.
   In the labor market, 4.8 million jobs were added in June as the unemployment rate ticked down to 11.1 percent from 13 percent in May. The monthly jobs data, however, was collected before the recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases. By contrast, weekly data showed that 1.4 million initial unemployment claims were filed the week of July 18. That was a rise of about 100,000 from the week before and reversed a steady decline in claims since a peak of 6.9 million the last week of March.
   While many of the weekly reports initially agreed with the monthly data and “showed the economy on a good start down the recovery runway, they now suggest that the economy is moving sideways,” Kleinhenz said. “Time will tell, but the bottom line is that the economy is far from being out of the woods. The question is whether it is re-entering the woods.”
   With many economists saying the timeline of the recovery will be determined by the efforts to control the virus, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland conducted a survey in early July that found 89.9 percent of those polled wear a mask for activities such as shopping in a grocery store. The bank said it conducted the survey because masks “have the potential to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 without greatly disrupting economic activity.”
  Published Aug. 6 with update/graph

Cultural Crossroads

We Have To Talk

About Racism With Each Other

By Jim Grandone

   Am I a racist?
   White. Male. Pushing 65. Your typical Trump voter demographic.
   Except, I am not a Trump supporter. I support Black Lives Matter. After all, I am considered a liberal on the political spectrum. Doesn’t matter. That doesn’t absolve me from being a racist.
Jim Grandone

   You see racism is insidious. It is both visible and invisible. You can watch the news and see the obvious racist action in the streets of our cities. Confederate and Nazi flags counter protesting BLM events. You can see it in the eyes of the self-appointed militia parading around with the AR 15s. The invisible part hides in the halls of power and the human resources departments at corporations.
   Try as I might, I want to understand other cultures beyond the mov

ies and the music and entertainers. But I don’t. I probably never will. My closest experience was a graduate fellowship with 11 others at the Coro Leadership Center in St. Louis where my trainer was African American from Compton, Calif., and I was a minority. But that’s another story.
   The reasons I am probably racist are legion. I was raised in a white neighborhood. Went to an all-white private school until high school. My friends are all white. So, my orientation is white. It isn’t by design. Or is it?
   Most people think of white people who hate black people when they think of racists. The KKK. White Supremacists. But that is where the insidious part comes into play. You see, you don’t have to hate black people or Asians or Latinos to be racist. It’s in everyday privilege that racism occurs and is virtually undetectable. It happens in the hiring process where previous experience is required. How does a member of a minority get that experience? It’s that degree and the first hire that determines access to careers. Are those doors really open?
   You may wonder why a white, privileged American male, pushing 65 is talking about racism to a predominantly white audience? It is because we have to talk about racism with each other. That is where it begins. It does no good telling minorities that you are their ally if you aren’t willing to call out racism among the white people with which you associate. It does not change anything in the structure of society if we don’t confront racism when we see it.
   So, what that comes down to is systemic racism. And it has got to stop.
   Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.
(Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the Edwardsville Intelligencer)
Posted on RP News, Aug 4, 2020

Mystery Solved

The Great 2020

Bathroom Tissue 'Hoard'

By Cheryl Eichar Jett

   (RP News) - 8/3/2020 - None of us will forget the events of the first half of 2020 – the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest drop in the U.S. economy in history, record business closings and job losses, and the politicization of everything from the mask to the virus itself. As of this writing, there have been 155,000 deaths heading up to a possible and unthinkable 200,000.
   Then there was the toilet paper shortage.
An assortment of toilet paper roles and packages.
In the middle of March, when closings were about to begin and the news coverage of the pandemic expanded, consumer panic buying was in full swing. Staples, canned goods, snacks, shelf-stable foods, bottled water, flour, you name it, were all flying off the shelves as customers packed the grocery stores. And disinfectant, wipes, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper flat out disappeared. TV news shows were quick to highlight the shortages and showed scenes of packed stores, frenzied shoppers, long lines, overflowing shopping carts, and empty shelves.
   By June, supply was catching up with demand, and tissue was again available most everywhere, although customers sometimes had to settle for less than their preferred brand or abide by the store's package limits.
   Then, the Max Planck Institute (https://www.mpg.de/en) in Germany published the results of a study conducted in March with 1,029 adults from 35 countries, and the shortage was once again a topic of interest.
   The researchers had set out to investigate “the relation between personality traits, perceived threat of COVID-19, and stockpiling of toilet paper in an online survey (N = 996) across 22 countries. (Citation: Garbe L, Rau R, Toppe T (2020) Influence of perceived threat of Covid-19 and HEXACO personality traits on toilet paper stockpiling. PLoS ONE 15(6): e0234232.
   Using a personality assessment called the HEXACO Inventory, the researchers assessed the participants' purchases according to six personality characteristics, finding that participants high in “conscientiousness” and “emotionality” were most likely to panic-buy or hoard. The study also revealed that, not surprisingly due to increased risk from COVID-19 in the elderly, age was a factor in the “emotionality” category.
   The study concluded that, “The most robust predictor of toilet paper stockpiling was the perceived threat posed by COVID-19. People who feel more threatened by the pandemic stockpile more toilet paper. Given that stockpiling is objectively unrelated to saving lives or jobs during a health crisis, this finding supports the notion that toilet paper functions as a purely subjective symbol of safety. We also found that this effect was partly based on the personality factor of Emotionality. Around 20 percent of the differences in toilet paper consumption that were explained by feelings of threat were based on people’s dispositional tendency to worry a lot and generally feel anxious. At the same time, the remaining 80 percent of this effect were not found to be rooted in personality differences.”
   What about the other 80 percent?
   To supplement the study results, I conducted a small and unscientific survey on Facebook, to which 64 friends replied to my three questions: (1) Do you think that you hoarded in March? (2) If so, why? (3) Are you now having problems finding toilet paper available to buy? The 49 female and 15 male respondents live in 16 different U.S. states plus two European countries. I did not ask for respondents' ages in this informal poll.
   Out of the 64 respondents, all but two answered question #1 with “no,” but often qualified their answers with statements that they regularly keep a “reasonable” stockpile and/or get subscription deliveries of a certain brand. Question #2 (why did you hoard) applied to only two of the respondents, and their answers were not relevant to the pandemic. One revealed that a family member had hoarded a lifetime's worth of tissue. The other stated that along with a family member, they had stockpiled years' worth in anticipation of a serious crisis after the 2016 election.
   To Question #3 (are you currently having problems getting tissue?), almost all simply replied “no.” Some elaborated by stating that they could not always find their preferred brand, or that a trip to more than one store was occasionally necessary. Overall, everyone is buying tissue now with little or no problem.
A toilet paper making machine for sale.

   My poll results showed a group of people who generally maintained an adequate or a little extra stock (with the exception of the two with large stockpiles), and did not seem to exhibit panic-buying. Although I did not ask the same questions as the Institute's researchers did, it would appear that my poll respondents generally do not equate to the 20 percent in the Institute's study whose stockpiling was attributed to their “conscientiousness” or “emotionality.”
   As I see it, there is another factor that actually skewed the whole panic-buying scenario. As workers and students moved from commercial buildings and schools to their homes, factories were forced to scale back the production of large industrial rolls for use in commercial and institutional buildings to produce more of the smaller rolls, affecting production, warehousing, and trucking. This lag time looked suspiciously like a shortage of domestic-sized rolls, but was actually a shift in product demand.
   Does the time lag due to manufacturing adjustments, and/or other factors, make up for the unexplained 80 percent from the Max Planck Institute study? Perhaps another study is needed. But in the meantime, I'm not sure anyone is waiting breathlessly for more study results – or another shortage. Maybe we're just ready to move on and forget all about the toilet paper “hoard” of 2020.

In the Courtroom

CJ&D Releases Trump’s Top 50

Anti-Civil Justice Scorecard

   (CJ&D) - Aug. 2, 2020 - Stripping abused and neglected nursing home residents of their rights. Making it harder for defrauded students to hold fake for-profit colleges accountable. Preventing independent farmers from suing big agricultural companies. Attacking the legal rights of race, gender and LGBTQ discrimination survivors. Telling the U.S. Supreme Court that air crash victims should be blocked from suing plane manufacturers. Working to shield disease-ridden meatpacking plants from COVID-19 liability.
The cover of the CJ&D's scorecard, available here.
   These are just a few examples found in the Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D)’s new “Trump’s Top 50 Anti-Civil Justice Scorecard,” released on July 21, 2020.
   The report is a compilation of the top 50 laws, policies, reports, statements and court briefs from the current administration over the last four years that represent the most direct attacks on the rights of sick, injured and cheated Americans to use the courts. The report also contrasts the president’s hypocrisy, the group says, when it comes to legal rights, describing some of the thousands of lawsuits filed by Trump and his companies over the years, such as a recent Trump Organization suit against the estate of a dead man for unpaid maintenance fees after he died in a Trump Tower fire.
   The study comes as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to force Congress to pass destructive legislation to immunize negligent corporations that endanger workers and consumers.
   “Since President Trump so frequently runs to court to advocate for his own policy positions or personal advancement, blocking the courthouse doors may not seem like an obvious priority for this administration. But in less than four years, the Trump Administration has quietly destroyed many legal rights of everyday Americans and rigged the civil courts against them,” CJ&D’s Deputy Director for Law and Policy Emily Gottlieb stated in a press release.
   The Center for Justice & Democracy is a non-profit consumer rights organization focused on educating the public about the importance of thecivil justice system.
   “Over the last four years, any large special interest with money or clout has lined up before the Trump Administration, asking for some handout or loophole so they are never held responsible for what they do wrong,” CJ&D’s Executive Director Joanne Doroshow said. “We are seeing this again with Mitch McConnell’s disgraceful COVID-19 proposal. Everyday Americans, who do not have the same access to this Administration, are the ones who are hurt by such policies. Most have no idea their rights have been taken away until they have been injured, sickened, cheated, discriminated against or otherwise harmed. By then, it’s often too late.”   (Original press release dated July 21, 2020)