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Recent Missouri Editorials

November 20, 2018

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov. 18

Hate crimes are increasing alongside Trump’s rhetoric

Hate is on the rise in America. A new FBI report says that hate crimes — those motivated by bias against racial, ethnic, religious and other groups — rose in 2017 for the third year in a row.

The trend started in 2015, which coincides with the year Donald Trump launched a presidential campaign steeped in more flagrant racial, ethnic and religious bigotry than any major White House contender since Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a half-century earlier.

There’s no proof that Trump spurred this trend. But his inflammatory rhetoric certainly didn’t help tamp it down.

Reports of hate crimes, from vandalism to murder, rose in 2017 by 17 percent over 2016. Data from both 2016 and 2015 similarly showed rises. There are caveats. Hate-crime reporting by local law enforcement is voluntary. A rise in the number of departments participating could have influenced some statistics.

The FBI statistics show 7,175 hate crimes reported in America last year. Racial or ethnic bias is the top motivation, accounting for about 60 percent of them. Religious bias is next, at about 20 percent. For hate crimes driven by race or ethnicity bias, almost half the victims were black, and another 27 percent were non-white classifications including Hispanic, Arab and Native American.

Jews and Muslims were the most frequent victims of religious-bias hate crimes, at 58 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Almost all the 1,338 hate crimes based on sexual orientation were against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender victims.

We believe the increase isn’t coincidental. Trump’s unfiltered dogwhistle-and-bullhorn rhetoric has served to embolden bigots. When America’s president talks like this, they don’t feel they have to keep their hatred under wraps anymore.

But what other message could be gleaned from a man who rises to political prominence on the racist “birther” lie, uses his first campaign announcement to call Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, and then, in one of his first official acts as president, bans entry to the country for people from Muslim countries?

Recall that after a young woman was killed by a white supremacist driving a car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville — a murder that would be charged as a hate crime — Trump opined there were “fine people on both sides” of the conflict.

The list goes on: his spats with kneeling NFL players; his denigration of African nations as “shithole countries”; his refusal to comprehend that the storm-ravaged residents of Puerto Rico are American citizens; his promotion of a campaign ad so openly racist that even Fox News pulled it.

We can’t know for certain whether there’s any cause and effect. But we know the message from the president of the United States has been clear and consistent: It’s okay to hate. And now we know increasing numbers of Americans agree.


The Kansas City Star, Nov. 19

Emanuel Cleaver, Sharice Davids should support a new leader to replace Nancy Pelosi

Even before the next Congress convenes in January, area Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Sharice Davids may have to cast a wrenching vote that could divide the Democratic caucus in Washington:

Should they support Nancy Pelosi to be the next speaker of the House?

Cleaver, the Kansas City Democrat, has struggled with the question of whether to support Pelosi in the past. But he’s not struggling now. On Thursday, he committed to Pelosi.

“You’ve got to have somebody to beat somebody,” he said about the anti-Pelosi faction in the House. “You guys don’t have anybody.”

Davids, the Democrat who beat incumbent Kevin Yoder in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District and won’t even be sworn in until January, is equivocating. But prior to the election she said, “I want new leadership across the board.”

“I ran for Congress in part because I think we need new leaders at the table,” she said in a statement to The Star on Friday. “I have not yet made a decision on who to support for speaker, but I do know I will only support someone who will address the needs of Kansans and who articulates a clear vision for how we can productively move forward in Washington.”

But Davids shouldn’t hesitate to oppose Pelosi and seek fresh leadership for a caucus in desperate need of it. In fact, if she winds up backing Pelosi, she could pay a price when she seeks another term in 2020, given her pre-election statements.

A key secret-ballot vote will come on Nov. 28. Already 17 Democrats have signed a letter opposing Pelosi, which suggests she may lack the 218 votes needed to become speaker.

Pelosi is 78. She’s already served as a party leader longer than any Republican or Democrat in the past 40 years. And she, of course, has served as a Republican target for what seems like forever.

No question she can be effective. One has to look no further than her work during the early years of President Barack Obama’s administration when, as the first woman speaker, she ushered through a series of monumental bills. They included the $787 billion economic stimulus package, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, a cap-and-trade climate change bill that died in the Senate and the Affordable Care Act.

The health care overhaul might never have become law without her. She also raises wheelbarrows of dollars for Democratic candidates in an era when money speaks all too loudly.

Put another way, Pelosi can back up her own self-assessment. “I am a master legislator,” she said. “I just love it. I consider myself a weaver, like I have a loom. And I bring all these different threads together.”

But as the years pass, Pelosi is also something else: an albatross around the neck of the Democratic Party. All parties need new leadership now and then, particularly in this era when ongoing frustration with Congress has voters placing an outsized premium on fresh faces. (Davids and Missouri’s U.S. Senator-elect Josh Hawley are proof of that).

Pelosi is convinced that she’s the exception to this rule, but the grim truth is she’s holding back her party. In the fall campaign, Republicans again featured her prominently in ads across the country as a way to motivate their base.

“The only individual who energizes Republican voters more than Nancy Pelosi is President Trump,” GOP strategist John Ashbrook told CNBC in October.

She has but a 28 percent favorable rating in the polls and a nearly 53 percent unfavorable score. “She’s our secret weapon,” Trump said of Pelosi during an Ohio speech this fall. “I just hope they don’t change her.”

She brands her party as California, big-government liberalism at a time when Democrats are more nuanced than that. Yes, some of the onslaught of criticism can be attributed to sexism. Still, Pelosi’s been around a long time, and Democrats and the country would be well-served by a new approach and fresh thinking.

We hope our Democratic representatives recognize as much.


The St. Joseph News-Press, Nov. 18

Northwest Missouri’s shot for the moon

It’s hard to imagine why — or how — the devices we carry around all day could have access to even faster Internet speeds, but that’s exactly what a 5G network promises and delivers.

While undergoing testing, 5G speeds have reached a peak of 20 gigabits per second, while most users will experience 1 gigabit per second. A reduced latency on the 5G network — as small as 1 millisecond — will widen the eyes of even the most casual video game player, opening their mobile phone to virtual and augmented reality possibilities.

For Northwest Missouri, the 5G network also means better speeds at home. Mobile modems on the 5G network will bring faster speeds to rural residents who are too far away from a city for fiber access.

A 5G cellular network doesn’t just mean faster Internet speed for mobile phones and rural residents. A robust 5G network would enable a slew of new digital technology to burgeon across numerous sectors, providing a tremendous business advantage.

The International Telecommunications Union divided the 5G network into three categories, one of those specifically for industrial uses and autonomous vehicles. Another third of the network will be for massive machine sensors; devices which are part of the next step in the evolution of the factory.

“By 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide. Much of that growth will come from the digitization of transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and other physical industries,” said Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and group president of Verizon Wireless.

If Northwest Missouri wants to be a leader in this frontier, legislators, city council members and business leaders must do the following:

Reach out to mobile carriers and 5G developers and pitch the region to them. With so many cities already on the list for testing the 5G network, community leaders must make a strong argument for initial rollout in Northwest Missouri.

Work with existing businesses in the industrial sector to understand their needs and desires for the future. This could be funding for infrastructure investments or help cutting bureaucratic red tape.

Be proactive in drafting legislation for autonomous vehicles, because a lack of such legislation could cause harm to the public. Showing interest in autonomous vehicles would encourage companies to locate and test their platforms here.

Key talent doesn’t just come from Silicon Valley. Business leaders should work with colleges to identify future tech disruptors, the crazy kids who shoot for the moon with nothing but parts in a garage.

Perhaps the region leading the way in a 5G network is shooting for the moon, but if the history of the communications boom teaches us anything, the future is made by those who take these kinds of risks.

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