Don't Do It, Joe

Don’t Do It, Joe

            Robert Levine

            So far, Joe Biden seems to have done a good job in his term as president, with the country deeply polarized and slim margins to work with in both Houses of Congress. Of course, others may disagree. But in either case, he should not run for a second term as president and should announce his intention soon to allow others to develop the traction necessary to be successful candidates. It is quite possible he could beat Donald Trump if Trump were the Republican candidate, though he would likely have more trouble winning a presidential race against Ron DeSantis. But my concern is not the campaign but how he would function again in office. To put it bluntly, he would be too old. Donald Trump would also be too old and has a major risk factor for dementia, heart disease and strokes. He is obese, no matter what his sycophantic physicians may say. Biden may feel that if he rejects a second term and is a lame duck, he will have less power, but there is no objective evidence to confirm this. For the good of the country and the Democratic Party, he should not run again.

            I am a retired neurologist whose main area of interest has been aging and cognitive impairment. I have had three books published on these subjects. I am not ageist and it is quite possible that Biden might function quite well during his second term. But we do not know that for sure. The older people get, the more susceptible they become to various diseases and the more likely they are to experience cognitive decline. Though many older individuals are intellectually intact and function quite well, it still may take them longer to process new information and memory may not be as sharp as in younger years. This is simply a fact of life. Joe Biden just celebrated his 80th birthday and is the oldest president ever. By the end of this term he will be 82. If he runs again and wins, he would be 86 by the time he finished his second term. Donald Trump would be 82 by the end of his second term, but many Americans already consider his judgement suspect.

            There is a difference between a person’s chronological age and his or her physiological age, with people aging at varying rates due to multiple factors. Thus, two people of the same chronological age may be quite different physiologically. Though it is unlikely our political parties will ever allow this to happen, there should be mandatory physical and cognitive examinations for all candidates before they are allowed to run for Federal offices, especially president and vice-president. Supreme Court justices should also be tested periodically if they are to hold lifetime appointments, though long term limits for the courts should probably be instituted.

            America has always been considered a vital and youthful nation, though the average age of our population is increasing as is true in most advanced nations. However, with decades of polarization imbued in our politicians and our population, it is time to bring in new and younger leadership to government offices at all levels. Perhaps younger officials can find new ways to work together for the betterment of our nation and reach out across the aisle. Whether one agrees or disagrees on the quality and performance of Joe Biden as president and that of Donald Trump, it is time for them to step aside and allow new people to assume leadership roles in our two political parties. Our nation needs to be reinvigorated by younger leaders to meet the challenges of an evolving and complex world.

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Midterm Angst

Midterm Angst

            Robert A. Levine 11-16-22

With the final results yet to be tallied, the Democrats appear to be happy about the way the midterm elections turned out. They held onto the Senate with Georgia yet to be determined, probably lost the House by a hair though there is still a remote chance for them, picked up a number of governorships, secretaries of state, and state legislative seats. However, the Democrats could have done much better if they had presented a more coherent message. Though the party in power generally does poorly in the midterms, there was an opportunity this year for the Democrats to score big. The Republicans were in disarray and running a number of poor candidates who were Trump-backed election deniers who were not beloved by the electorate.

Besides pounding away at these election-deniers and Trump acolytes, the Democrats should have emphasized Rick Scott, the GOP’s Senate campaign leader’s program. Scott, was CEO of Columbia/HCA HealthCare Corporation when it was guilty of the largest Medicare fraud ever at the time, with his company being fined $1.7 billion and Scott being forced to step down as CEO. His huge payouts at Columbia/HCA were responsible for the tainted wealth that he accumulated, which he used to finance his senatorial campaigns. Scott’s policies for the Republicans included cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and raising the ages at which people become eligible for these essential programs.

Since Scott already made his hundreds of millions or more by defrauding Medicare, he doesn’t care about cutting people off from Medicare and other needed government funded programs. He says his and the Republican goal is to balance the budget, yet he and the rest of the GOP were willing to support tax cuts for the wealthy under Trump which increased the deficit. And the GOP is willing to back further tax cuts for corporations and rich people in the future. Certainly many voters could understand what the Republicans want to do if it were more broadly advertised and would be strongly opposed to these Republican policies.

Yet the Democrats did not focus on these Republican objectives, instead concentrating on the abortion issue and saving democracy. Of course, both of these were and are important, but may not have had the same personal impact with much of the electorate as the specific Republican policies to cut off important benefits to the population at large. Had these issues been pushed more avidly in advertisements and speeches by Democratic candidates, even with high inflation, it is possible that a Blue wave might have been initiated instead of a minor Blue ripple.

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Voting Cultural Issues Instead of Economic Needs

 Voting Culture Instead of Economic Needs

                                    Robert A. Levine

Overall, Republican dominated states in America have worse life expectancies and quality of life than states where Democrats prevail. With the quality of life and survival in Red states considerably lagging the Blue states, why do their citizens consistently vote for candidates who do not support their needs. It is because the GOP politicians tend to focus on cultural issues rather than quality of life. In this current election however, they have pummeled the Democrats on some quality of life issues, such as crime and inflation. Though there has indeed been a spike in crime over the last five years, it started during President Trump’s time in office and still has not come close to the peak that was present thirty years ago.

According to the World Bank, in 1991, the homicide rate in the US was 9.71 per 100,000. There was then a fairly steady decline in homicides until 2015 and 2016, when the rates turned around, peaking at 6.52 in 2020, Trump’s last year in office. That was almost a 29% increase prior to Biden’s presidency. In 2021, Biden’s first year in office, violent crime statistics in the US were basically unchanged from the year before according to the DOJ. Statistics are not available for the full year 2022 currently, but it appears that homicide rates are decreasing from the previous year, though not total crime. In 2021, four of the five states with the most homicides were Red states, with Texas far in the lead, followed by North Carolina and Ohio.

So-called deaths of despair, which include drug overdoses, alcohol related deaths and suicides are far more frequent in Red states than Blue ones. In 2020, the top two states from drug overdoses were Missouri and West Virginia. Suicide rates were highest in Wyoming and Alaska followed by Montana and New Mexico. In 2021, alcoholism was most prevalent in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. According to the CDC, the states with the lowest life expectancy was mainly in the South, prior to the onset of Covid. With Covid, the average life expectancy for the ten lowest states was 73.6 years in 2020, again mainly in the South, compared to the national average of 77 years. The ten states with the longest life expectancy were all Blue, including New York, New Jersey, Colorado, and states from New England and the West Coast.

Obviously, the deaths of despair contributed to the diminished lifespan for people in some of the Red states, but poor health care is a significant factor. People tend not to see physicians regularly and do not get the preventative care that is necessary. This is because medical care is not easily accessible or it is not affordable. The highest rates of poverty are seen in the Red states, with nine of the top ten led by Mississippi and Louisiana.

Yet with all the poverty and health care problems of their constituents, Republican politicians have fought against expanding Medicaid in many states because it was initiated by Obama and is called Obamacare- the Affordable Care Act. Senate campaign chairman Rick Scott and other Republicans have spoken of reducing Medicare and Medicaid benefits if the GOP controls Congress, possibly raising the age for Medicare to 70. Likewise, the Republicans would like to raise the age when Social Security benefits can be obtained to 70. They say they are concerned about the Federal deficit, yet they cut the tax rate for the wealthy during the Trump years and refuse to increase taxes on the wealthy.

These are but a few of the ways that the Republicans are willing to harm ordinary or poor Americans in order to cater to the rich people who fund their campaigns. They lie about the Democratic motives and focus on cultural issues to obtain the votes of the electorate in their states who they are more than willing to ignore once in office and take advantage of them. People in the Red states have to learn which politicians are out to help them and those who really don’t care. Democratic legislation favors the middle classes and the poor while the Republicans constantly favor the wealthy. Education, gay marriage and similar issues are used by Republicans to distract voters from their plans to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security which would have a devastating effect on American society.

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An Election Paradox

An Election Paradox

            Robert A. Levine 11-2-2022

When is an election not an election? When one of the candidates refuses to accept the results of the election even before it is held. There are currently a host of Republican candidates for federal, state and local offices who deny that the results of the 2020 presidential election were valid and state that Donald Trump actually won the election. Some of these so-called election deniers are claiming that their own elections for office in 2022, which have not even yet been held, are also rigged and that they will not accept the results if they lose. What is the point of taking part in an election if you will deny its legality if you do not win. You may as well appoint yourself to the office for which you are running.

Among the candidates who deny that Joe Biden was elected legitimately in 2020, and are now running for office in 2022 and refusing to say they will recognize the results if they lose, are Kari Lake, the GOP candidate for Governor of Arizona. She said she will accept the results if she wins. Other gubernatorial nominees who refuse to commit to honoring the balloting are Geoff Diehl in Massachusetts and Tudor Dixon in Michigan. Senate candidates Blake Masters in Arizona, Ted Budd in North Carolina, Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska and J.D. Vance in Ohio have also not agreed to respect the results of their elections. These candidates all support Donald Trump’s election denial and are all supported by Trump in their quest for office.

According to the political site Five Thirty Eight, 60 percent of American voters will have an election denier on the ballot in the 2022 election. Two hundred of 532 Republican candidates for office fit into the category of election deniers, despite the lack of evidence of fraud and sixty court cases that did not validate Trump’s claims. These politicians stoke distrust in American democracy by ordinary voters. This particularly true of Republicans, two thirds of whom in an NPR poll last year thought elections were unfair. Nine in ten Democrats and 60 percent of independents believed that America’s elections were indeed fair.

It is time for Congress to enter the arena of election denial. A law needs to be passed that mandates every candidate before the election to accept the results of their contest no matter who wins, in order for them to run in the first place. If nominees are unwilling to commit to recognizing the choice of the electorate, they should not be allowed to run. Their refusal to abide by the decision of the voters diminishes the sanctity of America’s elections and demonstrates a disregard for the democratic process. This should disqualify them from running or holding any elective office.

With the election deniers and those who refuse to accept election results all being Republicans, it may be difficult to pass an adequate law on the federal level, since bipartisan support would be necessary to overcome a filibuster. Perhaps it can be passed by referendum on a state to state basis. Being excluded from the ballot in some states would make it difficult for presidential and vice-presidential candidates to run unless they agree to accept the election results.

Election denial and refusal to abide by election results is a direct threat to American democracy and increases partisanship and divisiveness among the electorate. This threat needs to be pursued aggressively and eradicated by men and women of good will in both parties. However, convincing Republicans of the need for this law may be difficult since they worship at the altar of Donald Trump and are afraid of incurring his wrath. However, it is merely common sense not to permit candidates to run for office if they won’t commit to accepting the results.

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Community Safety and Mental Health

Community Safety and Mental Health

                                    Robert A. Levine, M.D.

The primary responsibility of any government is to provide safety for its citizens from external and internal threats. This obligation came to mind recently with an article in the New York Times Metropolitan Section. A forty year old white woman was walking her dog in Prospect Park in Brooklyn around six in the morning when she was attacked by a Black man with dreadlocks who had been searching through some garbage nearby. She had seen him before muttering to himself or cursing and tried to keep away from him. This time on August 3, he began screaming about immigrants taking over the park and tossed some urine in a container at her and her dog. She tried to run away but her eighty pound golden retriever mixture pulled towards the man in an attempt to protect her.

The man carried a heavy stave and he swung this at the woman but did not significantly injure her. However, he continued to swing the stave and beat the dog severely enough that he perforated his intestine, developed sepsis and subsequently died. The police did not appear to make a vigorous effort to locate the perpetrator and there was an argument on social media over whether they should. Some people said the man was obviously emotionally disturbed, which seems to be true, and should not be incarcerated but should be given psychiatric help instead. It became a racial issue with a number white people asking for him to be apprehended and put in jail or a psychiatric institution, and Blacks and progressives wanting him to remain free and treated as an outpatient. Another white woman recounted that she and her dog had been attacked in a similar fashion likely by the same man three years earlier. A number of people said that they did not want the police involved in this situation, going after a presumably homeless man who was mentally ill. They seemed more concerned with the attacker than with the safety of the community. A vigilante group was almost formed to provide safety in the park but never got off the ground. After two months, the police have still not caught the man who could be labeled as a violent sociopath who attacks women and dogs.

Whether one is white or Black, progressive or moderate, there should be agreement that a violent man who has attacked at least two women and dogs should not be allowed to roam the streets or a city park. This man should be apprehended by the police and locked up either in a psychiatric hospital or in jail, but he should not remain free to engage in violent behavior again. As mentioned previously, government’s primary responsibility is its citizens’ safety, notwithstanding any impingement on individual rights. Whether a person is violent because he or she is mentally ill or from an underprivileged background and lacked proper parental guidance does not matter. We can feel empathy and compassion for a violent sociopath, but he or she must be kept incarcerated as long as necessary to provide maximum safety for the public. This is merely common sense in order for society to function.

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Community Safety and Mental Health

Community Safety and Mental Health

                                    Robert A. Levine, M.D.

The primary responsibility of any government is to provide safety for its citizens from external and internal threats. This obligation came to mind recently with an article in the New York Times Metropolitan Section. A forty year old white woman was walking her dog in Prospect Park in Brooklyn around six in the morning when she was attacked by a Black man with dreadlocks who had been searching through some garbage nearby. She had seen him before muttering to himself or cursing and tried to keep away from him. This time on August 3, he began screaming about immigrants taking over the park and tossed some urine in a container at her and her dog. She tried to run away but her eighty pound golden retriever mixture pulled towards the man in an attempt to protect her.

The man carried a heavy stave and he swung this at the woman but did not significantly injure her. However, he continued to swing the stave and beat the dog severely enough that he perforated his intestine, developed sepsis and subsequently died. The police did not appear to make a vigorous effort to locate the perpetrator and there was an argument on social media over whether they should. Some people said the man was obviously emotionally disturbed, which seems to be true, and should not be incarcerated but should be given psychiatric help instead. It became a racial issue with a number white people asking for him to be apprehended and put in jail or a psychiatric institution, and Blacks and progressives wanting him to remain free and treated as an outpatient. Another white woman recounted that she and her dog had been attacked in a similar fashion likely by the same man three years earlier. A number of people said that they did not want the police involved in this situation, going after a presumably homeless man who was mentally ill. They seemed more concerned with the attacker than with the safety of the community. A vigilante group was almost formed to provide safety in the park but never got off the ground. After two months, the police have still not caught the man who could be labeled as a violent sociopath who attacks women and dogs.

Whether one is white or Black, progressive or moderate, there should be agreement that a violent man who has attacked at least two women and dogs should not be allowed to roam the streets or a city park. This man should be apprehended by the police and locked up either in a psychiatric hospital or in jail, but he should not remain free to engage in violent behavior again. As mentioned previously, government’s primary responsibility is its citizens’ safety, notwithstanding any impingement on individual rights. Whether a person is violent because he or she is mentally ill or from an underprivileged background and lacked proper parental guidance does not matter. We can feel empathy and compassion for a violent sociopath, but he or she must be kept incarcerated as long as necessary to provide maximum safety for the public. This is merely common sense in order for society to function.

www.robertlevinebooks .com

Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


Community Safety and Mental Health

Community Safety and Mental Health    10-25-22

                                    Robert A. Levine, M.D.

The primary responsibility of any government is to provide safety for its citizens from external and internal threats. This obligation came to mind recently with an article in the New York Times Metropolitan Section. A forty year old white woman was walking her dog in Prospect Park in Brooklyn around six in the morning when she was attacked by a Black man with dreadlocks who had been searching through some garbage nearby. She had seen him before muttering to himself or cursing and tried to keep away from him. This time on August 3, he began screaming about immigrants taking over the park and tossed some urine in a container at her and her dog. She tried to run away but her eighty pound golden retriever mixture pulled towards the man in an attempt to protect her.

The man carried a heavy stave and he swung this at the woman but did not significantly injure her. However, he continued to swing the stave and beat the dog severely enough that he perforated his intestine, developed sepsis and subsequently died. The police did not appear to make a vigorous effort to locate the perpetrator and there was an argument on social media over whether they should. Some people said the man was obviously emotionally disturbed, which seems to be true, and should not be incarcerated but should be given psychiatric help instead. It became a racial issue with a number white people asking for him to be apprehended and put in jail or a psychiatric institution, and Blacks and progressives wanting him to remain free and treated as an outpatient. Another white woman recounted that she and her dog had been attacked in a similar fashion likely by the same man three years earlier. A number of people said that they did not want the police involved in this situation, going after a presumably homeless man who was mentally ill. They seemed more concerned with the attacker than with the safety of the community. A vigilante group was almost formed to provide safety in the park but never got off the ground. After two months, the police have still not caught the man who could be labeled as a violent sociopath who attacks women and dogs.

Whether one is white or Black, progressive or moderate, there should be agreement that a violent man who has attacked at least two women and dogs should not be allowed to roam the streets or a city park. This man should be apprehended by the police and locked up either in a psychiatric hospital or in jail, but he should not remain free to engage in violent behavior again. As mentioned previously, government’s primary responsibility is its citizens’ safety, notwithstanding any impingement on individual rights. Whether a person is violent because he or she is mentally ill or from an underprivileged background and lacked proper parental guidance does not matter. We can feel empathy and compassion for a violent sociopath, but he or she must be kept incarcerated as long as necessary to provide maximum safety for the public. This is merely common sense in order for society to function.

www.robertlevinebooks .com

Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


Why America's Life Expectancy Is Shrinking- Not Just Covid

Why Is America’s Life Expectancy Shrinking?  Not Just Covid

                                    Robert A. Levine, M.D.  10-18-22

Life expectancy of Americans has lagged that of other industrialized nation for decades, the differences ranging from one to seven years. In addition, Americans life expectancy dropped steeply in 2020 and 2021, the greatest two year drop in the last century. As of 2022, average life expectancy in Japan was 84.82 years, 87.8 for women and 81.7 for men. For the U.S. it was 78.2 years, 81.0 for women and 75.4 for men. U.S. life expectancy was below that of virtually every nation in Europe, and many in Asia including China. While some of this decline was due to deaths from Covid 19, the shrinkage in life expectancy was even greater than might have been anticipated.

The effect of Covid itself on America’s population was worse than every industrialized nation in the world, because of poor government planning and unwillingness of large segments of the population to take the disease seriously. The use of preventative measures such as masks, social distancing, vaccination and booster rates lagged those of other advanced countries. Verified deaths from Covid 19 in the U.S. have been reported at over one million, though the actual number was undoubtedly higher. Many deaths occurring at home or without testing were not ascribed to Covid though it was the likely cause. According to the World Health Organization in May, the U.S, had the highest number of reported Covid deaths in the world.

In addition to Covid deaths, America led the world in so called “deaths of despair;” those caused by drug overdoses and suicides. These deaths occurred mainly in people (particularly men) whose lives were of poor quality, in dead end jobs, with little education or hope for the future. As of 2020, the U.S. had the highest suicide rate of any advanced nation at 14 deaths per 100,000 people. This was twice the rate of the United Kingdom. Nearly 46,000 Americans died by suicide in 2020 with similar numbers in 2021 according to the CDC.

The CDC also reported there were over 104,000 deaths due to drug overdoses in the U.S. in the 12 month period ending in April 2021. These were mainly from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl or psychostimulants such as methamphetamine. Drug overdose was the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people under age fifty. Drug overdose deaths were far higher in the U.S. than in any other developed nation, almost 28 per 100,000 population. Though deaths from alcoholism is a worldwide problem, the CDC announced in April 2022 that alcohol consumption was responsible for 140,000 deaths in the U.S. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that there were nearly 43,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2021 because of motor vehicle accidents. While the rates of accidents and deaths are higher in less industrialized nations, America again has the highest rate of motor vehicle accidents in the developed world by far, more than three to four times the rates in European nations.

Also in 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were close to 49,000 Americans killed by guns. These included all types of guns and in all kinds of situations. Again, there was no high income country that even approached that number of gun deaths. The rate of homicides caused by firearms in the U.S. is 23 times the rate in Australia, a nation thought to be similar to the U.S. in values.

In addition to the above statistics which show the United States as an outlier in the rates of death from Covid 19, suicides, drug overdoses, motor vehicle accidents and gun violence, there is also infant mortality and maternal mortality included in computing life expectancies. In America, infant mortality is 5.44 per 1000 live births, 50th of 195 countries. This death rate is considerably higher than virtually all nations with advanced economies. Some of the variation in infant mortality may be because of how it is defined by different nations. However, it is also true that prenatal care for low income women is worse in the United States compared to other developed nations. In fact, in comparison to ten other developed countries, the U.S. was found to have the highest maternal mortality rate, 17.2 deaths per 100,000 live births. In some advanced nations, the rate was only 3 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

Both in terms of infant and maternal mortality, the statistics in the United States reflect the poor quality of health care offered to many pregnant women, particularly those of low income. That the U.S. health care system is deficient in providing adequate health care in general is shown by excessive Covid deaths, maternal and perinatal deaths.

The drop in life expectancy in the United States may have economic repercussions in the future, with quality of life being impacted besides years of life. Politicians and CEOs in the United States should take notice.


The Line Between Nationalism and Facsism

The Line Between Nationalism and Fascism

                                                Robert A. Levine  10-5-22

Right-wing nationalism and tribalism is a growing threat to democracies globally, with the boundary between nationalism and fascism often unclear. A number of supposed democracies are nationalist states verging on fascism. In many of these nations, nationalists were elected by popular vote and the nationalist leaders subsequently transformed the governments into fascistic polities under the control of a supreme leader. Included among these nations are Turkey led by Recep Erdogan, Hungary controlled by Victor Orban and India dominated by Narendra Modi. In addition, however, newly elected right-wing nationalist parties and leaders place Italy and Sweden at risk. Iran may perhaps also be considered a religious fascistic state.

Nationalist rule gives members of a particular ethnic, tribal, racial or religious group a preferred status in a state, conferring a lesser status among other individuals. Blood and soil are the defining characteristics of nationalistic groups. In other words, they are people who share the same blood as other members of the clan and perhaps have shed their blood in defense of the nation. They and their ancestors tilled the same soil and lived in the same land through the ages. However, this is often a myth as there is often mixing of the genes of different groups and ethnic communities are generally not pure blooded.

As nationalistic precepts gain in strength, a nation tends to become more fascistic and authoritarian, usually directed by a single man and the political party he controls. People who do not belong to the select ethnic group may not have the same privileges or prerogatives as those who are considered to have the same national origin and usually belief in the same religion. Fascists relegate outsiders to second class citizenship. In some fascist states, members of different ethnic groups were expelled or killed by the ruling ethnic group as was seen in Nazi Germany.

Immigrants are looked down upon by members of the ruling party and the nationalistic or fascistic state. In fact, many of these nations try or actually exclude immigrants or asylum seekers, especially if they are of a different race or religion. They do not wish to dilute the purity of their ethnic group or their nation. Nationalists and fascists often act in ways that are against their economic interests by not permitting immigrants into their countries when unemployment is low and many industries need more workers.

In the United States, right-wing political groups and Christian nationalists are against immigration even though workers are badly needed. Virtually all advanced nations have low birth rates and are not replacing their populations, making immigrants vital to care for and support the aged and take jobs that are now going begging. Population declines are present not only in the U.S. and Europe but also in Japan, Korea and China.

The line drawn between nationalism and fascism is not clear cut. Submission to an authoritarian leader who determines those who are acceptable members of a nationalistic society and places all other people beneath them is one way of defining fascism. Fascists tend to distort history to serve their own version of events. Fascism also places nation and race above the individual and subsumes individual rights in favor of the nation and the authoritarian leader. One can see that nationalism and fascism are very close in ideology and actions, and in fact labeling may just be a matter of degree.

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Global Suppression of Women's Rights

Global Suppression of Women’s Rights

                        Robert A. Levine

Even as more women appear to be participating in the political process worldwide and holding high offices, women’s rights in many nations appear to be under attack by the patriarchal order. This is true in both democratic and autocratic countries where men want the power to control women and their bodies.

The most obvious and brutal suppression of women’s rights appear to be occurring in nations such as Iran and Afghanistan. But it is true in all Muslim nations where men still rule the roost, allowed to have up to four wives and to determine where and when women my go to school, the jobs they hold, and even whom they may marry. Saudi Arabia recently lifted some of its most restrictive rules regarding women’s lives, but men still control women to a large degree.

In Iran, riots and demonstrations have erupted led by women in multiple cities protesting the death of a young woman who was arrested by the morality police because her hijab wasn’t covering all of her hair. Her captors claimed she died of a heart attack while imprisoned but there were signs that she was beaten severely. In response, women have been burning their hijabs, setting fires to police cars and demonstrating in the streets along with men. The Revolutionary Guards have reacted by firing against the rioters with live ammunition and tear gas, killing a number of them. The rules regarding modest dress and Islamic law have been promulgated by elderly hard line mullahs who will not give way to the women and the youth of Iran who want more freedom. Women’s lives in Iran are completely dominated by men in what can be called “gender apartheid.”

In Afghanistan, since the Taliban took control of the country, they have reneged on all of their promises regarding freedom for women. Girls can only go to primary schools with no further education, cannot pursue careers, need male chaperones when they go out, and have arranged marriages decided by their fathers. Their fathers or their husbands run their lives.

In the United States, a conservative Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision had six Catholic justices overturn precedent in delegitimizing Roe v Wade, leaving abortion law up to individual states. Subsequently, a number of states have restricted abortions with various laws, taking control of women’s bodies. A restrictive abortion law in Kansas was soundly defeated by referendum, but legislatures are fighting against referenda in other states to maintain strict abortion laws. Whether or not Congress will pass a federal law in the future to legalize abortion nationwide again depends on the make-up of the House and Senate. And the glass ceiling still exists in many US businesses though women have been slowly climbing the ladder.

In China, their one child policy per family was too successful and their population started to shrink. The law was subsequently modified to allow two or three children per family to stabilize the population and help the economy. But many women remain happy having one or no children because of the cost and the desire for additional freedom. The Chinese Communist Party is anti-feminism, believing that all ideology should come from the Party itself. There have been no women leaders of China since the Party took over in the 1940s with the Communists supporting the primacy of men.

In Mexico, one of the most violent states in the world, women are being murdered, raped and often disappeared in what is known as “femacide.” The perpetrators are rarely caught or brought to justice.

Trafficking of women for sexual purposes is rampant in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, but is a problem in virtually every nation. These enterprises are often run by gangs or cartels controlled by men and can be quite profitable.

Various other nations have also been trying to suppress women’s rights, viewing women as baby-making machines and being unwilling to provide them with agency. This is most prominent in conservative or religious countries where men are accustomed to power and do not wish to see women with equal rights challenging them. Many men are afraid of women achieving equality or superiority and taking control of politics and businesses. At universities, women generally perform better than men and their life expectancies are greater in all economically advanced nations.

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On and On and On

On and On and On

            Robert A. Levine

Donald Trump has been out of office now for almost two years, yet he continues to dominate the news. We can’t get rid of him from the front pages of our newspapers or the lead segments of our news programs. He sticks around like a piece of gum on your shoe that you can’t get off. Most of the news regarding the Donald is negative at this time, with him involved in multiple lawsuits and possible criminal actions. Though he continues to complain that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, it appears that he stole classified documents from the White House when he was packing up and moving out. Though he claims to have declassified these documents, there is no actual evidence that he did so. The Department of Justice is pursuing Trump regarding these documents and it remains to be seen whether or not he will be indicted for this action.

Though he is being sued for tax fraud by New York State, the case has also been referred to the federal system in the Southern District of New York for possible criminal charges. For decades, Trump and his organization was shown to have falsified documents in terms of valuing his real estate assets up or down in ways that would save him money in taxes or for insurance. In addition, Trump is being investigated by a grand jury in Fulton County Georgia for possible criminal charges in trying to overturn the results of the election in Georgia. There is also legal action against Trump pending in Washington and various other venues.

Yet with all the legal problems involving Trump, both civil and possible criminal, the vast majority of the Republican Party continues to support him and defer to his judgement when conflicts arise. Most of the candidates for various offices that he backed in the Republican primaries won their contests and these election deniers will be the official candidates of the GOP. And the elected Republican politicians at all levels for the most part are elections deniers though privately they realize that Trump lost.

Trump is both a symptom and a cause of the precarious position of American democracy with threats of violence coming from his acolytes if he is criminally indicted. Unfortunately, most Trump supporters are misinformed about Trump’s illegal and unethical activities, as they get their news from sources that do not verify their stories. Misinformation and disinformation is circulated by the Trumpies on social media and considered accurate by those who are unwilling to dig deeper into supposed news. In a bizarre twist, on Fox News, Trump claimed the ability to declassify documents merely by thinking about it. I guess he also has the same power to change people’s ballots merely by thinking about it. Or perhaps change people’s minds by witchcraft.

But the main story is that Trump remains prominent in the public eye, often blocking out more important and relevant news. How do we get this piece of gum off our shoes when so many Americans still listen to what Trump has to say and believe him? Americans need to let Trump drift into obscurity instead of paying so much attention to his every move. His presence in our kitchens and living rooms just seems to go on and on.

www.robertlevinebooks.com

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