Sunday, January 17, 2021
The epidemic of gun violence has not gone away. In 2019, there were 39,524 gun deaths in the United States. That was a record. But the record didn't stand long, because it was smashed in 2020. There were 43,460 gun deaths in 2020.
The U.S. also set a new record in mass shootings -- going from 417 in 2019 to 612 in 2020.
Sadly, there doesn't seem to be much hope for reversing these trends. There were 39.7 million background checks done for gun sales in 2020 -- about 40% more than were done in 2019 (which was also a record year). More guns in our society is not going to mean less deaths -- no matter how many lies the gun lobby tell to try and convince us otherwise.
It's time for Congress to act. I doubt they will though. The gun lobby has too much money to put in campaign coffers (mainly Republican).
Last week, right-wingers rioted and forced their way into the Capitol Building, vandalizing and desecrating that symbol of American democracy. Many of those rioters were white supremacists. Their clothing and flags tell us that.
They will probably tell us that they are American patriots, and were trying to save the country. That is a lie! They were attacking democracy, not saving it.
Let me go further. For the white supremacists in that riot (and there were many), it would not matter whether they invaded the Capitol or not. They are NOT American patriots.
American patriots believe in and support the Constitution of the United States -- all of it. And the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees equality for all citizens under the law (both federal and state).
The white supremacists believe in the supremacy of whites over all other people. They think whites should rule the government, regardless of what voters want -- or what the Constitution demands. That means they do not support the Constitution, and therefore are NOT patriots.
Some of them may try to tell you they believe in equality, but want a separate equality. That's impossible. The Supreme Court ruled nearly seven decades ago (Brown v. Board, 1954) that "Separate is inherently unequal". There is no such thing as separate and equal. The very act of separation creates inequality.
In our free speech democracy, the white supremacists have the right to their sick beliefs. They do not, however, have the right to be called patriots -- because they are NOT!
The charts above show a sad fact -- that 2020 was one of the two hottest years on record. While global climate change has been pushed off the front page by other news, it has not stopped. And we must deal with it soon, or leave our descendants a virtually unlivable planet.
The following is part of an AP News report by Seth Borenstein:
Earth’s rising fever hit or neared record hot temperature levels in 2020, global weather groups reported Thursday.
While NASA and a couple of other measurement groups said 2020 passed or essentially tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, more agencies, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said last year came in a close second or third. The differences in rankings mostly turned on how scientists accounted for data gaps in the Arctic, which is warming faster than the rest of the globe. . . .
NOAA said 2020 averaged 58.77 degrees (14.88 degrees Celsius), a few hundredths of a degree behind 2016. NASA saw 2020 as warmer than 2016 but so close they are essentially tied. The European Copernicus group also called it an essential tie for hottest year, with 2016 warmer by an insignificant fraction. Japan’s weather agency put 2020 as warmer than 2016, but a separate calculation by Japanese scientists put 2020 as a close third behind 2016 and 2019. The World Meteorological Organization, the British weather agency and Berkeley Earth’s monitoring team had 2016 ahead.
First or second rankings really don’t matter, “but the key thing to take away is that the long-term trends in temperature are very very clearly up and up and up,” said Schmidt, who heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies that tracks temperatures. “We’re in a position where we’re pushing the climate system out of the bounds that it’s been in for tens of thousands of years, if not millions of years.”
All the monitoring agencies agree the six warmest years on record have been the six years since 2015. The 10 warmest have all occurred since 2005, and scientists say that warming’s driven by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. . . .
The United States, which had its fifth warmest yea r, smashed the record for the number of weather disasters that cost at least $1 billion with 22 of them in 2020, including hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and a Midwest derecho. The old record of 16 was set in 2011 and 2017. This was the sixth consecutive year with 10 or more billion-dollar climate disasters, with figures adjusted for inflation.
Earth has now warmed 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times and is adding another 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.36 Fahrenheit) a decade.
That means the planet is nearing an international warming threshold set in Paris in 2015, Vose and Schmidt said. Nations of the world set a goal of preventing at least 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming, with a tougher secondary goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
“We cannot avoid 1.5 C above pre-industrial now -- it is just too late to turn things around,” University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Jason Furtado, who wasn’t on any of the measurement teams, said in an email. “I also fear that the 2 C threshold is slipping away from us too unless changes become much more immediate in the US and other nations.”. . .
The main reason the agencies have varying numbers is because there are relatively few temperature gauges in the Arctic. NOAA and the British weather agency take a conservative approach in extrapolating for the missing data, while NASA factors that the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the globe, hitting 100 degrees (38 Celsius) in the Russian Arctic last June, said NASA’s Schmidt.
Saturday, January 16, 2021
The chart above is from the Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between January 8th and 11th of a nationwide sample of 1,996 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.
It shows that Joe Biden is on solid ground with his new stimulus proposal. About 84% of registered voters support an additional stimulus (64% strongly and 20% somewhat). Only 11% are opposed (5% strongly).
The three charts above are from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. They questioned 5,360 adults nationwide between January 8th and 12th, and the survey has a 1.9 point margin of error.
It shows Donald Trump has a record 39 point net negative job approval (29% approve to 68% disapprove). It also shows that about 75% say Trump has at least some responsibility for the riot at the Capitol (53% a lot and 23% some). And 68% say they don't want to see Trump remain an important political figure in the future.
Trump's actions since the election have seriously damaged his political future.
The charts above are from the Gallup Poll. Gallup questioned people in 60 countries, asking them if they approved of the leadership job being done by the United States. Only 9 of the 60 countries had 50% approval of U.S. leadership or more. The other 51 countries had less than 50% approval -- most of them far less.
Before the Trump administration came to power, most of those countries would have had faith in U.S. leadership. In only one term, Trump destroyed faith in U.S. leadership around the world.
I think the main reason is Trump's rampant narcissism. He cannot be seen as giving in to his enemies or being weak. But their has emerged another reason. He doesn't trust Mike Pence to pardon him!
Frankly, I don't blame him. The way he has treated Pence in the last couple of weeks could well encourage the Vice-President to withhold a pardon.
Trump tried to pressure Pence to break the law and throw out electors from states that voted against Trump. When Pence said he could not legally do that, Trump bad mouthed him to his MAGA followers. Then sent them to Capitol Hill together Pence, and the rioters could be heard chanting "Hang Pence".
Why should Pence pardon a seditionist who put his life in danger?
Here's a tiny part of how CNN.com is covering Trump's last few days in office.
Trump has been consumed by the unraveling of his presidency during his last days in office, according to people around him, which included a casual discussion among advisers recently about a possible resignation.
Trump shut the idea down almost immediately. And he has made clear to aides in separate conversations that mere mention of President Richard Nixon, the last president to resign, was banned.
He told one adviser during an expletive-laden conversation recently never to bring up the ex-president ever again. During the passing mention of resigning this week, Trump told people he couldn't count on Vice President Mike Pence to pardon him like Gerald Ford did Nixon, anyway.
Eager for a final taste of the pomp of being president, Trump has asked for a major send-off on Inauguration Day next week, according to people familiar with the matter, before one last presidential flight to Palm Beach.
But the signs of his impending departure are everywhere -- including right outside his window. Workers hung bunting Thursday that read "2021 Biden-Harris Inauguration" from temporary stands across from the White House North Portico. It was visible from his third-story residence.
Inside the building, Trump has been weathering a second impeachment and growing isolation from his onetime allies in sullen desolation. He has grown more and more worried about what legal or financial calamities may await him when he is no longer president, people who have spoken to him said, fueled by warnings from lawyers and advisers. He is weighing pardons, including for himself and his family, as he attempts to muster a legal team for another impeachment trial. And he is resentful of Republicans who he feels abandoned him in his hour of need, including the GOP leaders of the House and Senate.
Aides have pleaded with Trump to deliver some type of farewell address, either live or taped, that would tick through his accomplishments in office. But he has appeared disinterested and noncommittal.
Friday, January 15, 2021
The chart above reflects the results in a new Ipsos Poll -- done between January 11th and 13th of a national sample of 1,019 adults, with a 3.4 point margin of error.
There's a lot of talk in the news lately about how divided the country is. But there is at least one thing that a significant majority of Americans agree on -- regardless of their political affiliation. They agree that the economy is rigged to favor the rich (at the expense of everyone else).
That's the opinion of 76% of adults -- including 89% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 58% of Republicans.
The chart above reflects the results of a new Ipsos Poll -- done between January 11th and 13th of a national sample of 1,019 adults, with a 3.4 point margin of error.
The Labor Department released its weekly statistics on Thursday. It showed another 965,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on January 9th. That's the highest number in several months. It shows that the unemployment situation will not get better until the Coronavirus is under control.
Here is the Labor Department's official statement:
In the week ending January 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 965,000, an increase of 181,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 3,000 from 787,000 to 784,000. The 4-week moving average was 834,250, an increase of 18,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 2,750 from 818,750 to 816,000.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
The bottom image is from the CBS News / YouGov Poll -- done on January 11th and 12th of a national sample of 1,521 adults, with a 2.9 point margin of error. It shows that 55% of the people favored Donald Trump being impeached a second time -- including 88% of Democrats, 54% of Independents, and 15% of Republicans. About 45% opposed impeachment.
The top image shows the final vote on impeaching Trump for a second time. His impeachment was approved on a 232 to 197 vote in the House of Representatives. The 222 Democrats were joined by 10 Republicans in voting for the impeachment. Four Republicans did not vote. The other 197 Republicans dishonored their oath and themselves by voting to keep a seditionist in office.
Trump will now go down in history as the only president to be impeached twice, and it was done during a single term in office. He will be remembered as one of the worst presidents the United States has ever had, and possibly the worst ever!
The chart above is from a new Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between January 8th and 11th of a national sample of 1,996 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.
It shows Donald Trump's job approval has dropped to only 34%, while his disapproval has risen to 63% -- a negative rating of 29 points.
In the 1950's, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously outlawed the forced segregation of this nation's schools. And our government, through laws and other actions, has tried to enforce that. For a while, we seemed to be making some progress. But recent numbers have shown that progress has stalled, and we seem to be going backwards -- back to a resegregation of our schools. This is not the path to equal rights and opportunity in our society.
The following post by Russell Contreras at Axios.com highlights this failure:
School segregation between Black and white students has returned to 1968 levels, even as the nation grows more diverse.
Why it matters: Black and white school segregation has deepened toward pre-Civil Rights Movement-era numbers despite decades of strides.
- This places Black students into school districts with fewer resources than white students — but in more diverse settings than in 1968, since the percentage of Latino and Asian American students has skyrocketed.
By the numbers: At the peak of desegregation in 1988, around 37% of Black students nationally attended schools with a majority of white students. Only 19% did so in 2018, according to a report from The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.
- In 1968, around 77% of Black students went to predominantly non-white schools. That fell to 63% in 1988, but then rose again and reached 81% in 2018, the report said.
- Among the nation’s 20 largest school districts, Black students today have the least contact with white students in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Prince George’s County, Maryland.
- Meanwhile, the percentage of Latino students has gone from less than a percentage point nationally in 1970 to 27.1% of the overall student population in 2018.
Flashback: "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal," the 1968 Kerner Commission report warned.
- "What white Americans have never fully understood — but what the Negro can never forget — is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it."
What they’re saying: "Immediately after the Civil Rights Movement, we made progress on every aspect of poverty and racism in the U.S. But today we are moving backward," said former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris, D-Okla., the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission.
Between the lines: Experts say resegregation came after Republican administrations from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan fought against urban desegregation efforts from the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.
- Federal courts didn't defend desegregation plans, and the federal government abolished funds promoting integration.
- White residents are moving further out and away from diverse suburbs and cities.
- The subprime loan crisis also forced Black residents into more segregated communities.
- Today, even in schools where middle-class Black residents make up the majority, the resources follow white students. That fosters more inequality, said Karyn Lacy, a University of Michiganassistant sociology professor.
Yes, but: The resegregation of U.S. schools often doesn't produce all-Black schools as the declining contact with whites has been replaced by growing contact with Latinos, an issue that has received little research.
- The share of Black classmates for Black students has been falling as the Mexican American and Central American student population grows.
- This has created majority-Black-Latino school systems with small white student populations like Boston Public Schools and Aldine Independent School District in Houston.
- Some Black residents also are moving to new Black-majority municipalities by choice and those are more economically and culturally diverse than 50 years ago, said Andre M. Perry, a Metropolitan Policy Program fellow at the Brookings Institute.
- "We're seeing the browning of America. Today I can see a bodega next to a traditional Black barbershop. I think that's beautiful." Perry said.
The intrigue: Lacy said Black residents will continue to adopt "strategic assimilation" — capturing Black middle-class preference for economic success in the white world while socializing in the Black world (social clubs, Black churches, etc.) where Black identities are nurtured and reproduced.
- "Maintaining a connection to the larger black community counters the demands required of them in white, mainstream society."
- Perry said this practice doesn't negate the changes needed to tackle the systemic racism that devalues Black property and allows unequal funding in education.
- "Police reform, housing, jobs, income equality," Harris said. "We know what we need to do. It doesn't take any more studies."
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
But he should. Not because it would be the best thing for the country. He doesn't care about this country or its citizens (except for a few family members and some rich friends). But because it would be in his own best interest.
Trump is in some serious legal trouble. I'm not talking about his Russia problems (although that could still bounce back on him), but his more recent actions -- things he has done after losing the election to Joe Biden. Specifically, trying to pressure election officials and legislatures into overturning the will of the voters, and urging his supporters to attack the Capitol to force lawmakers into keeping him in power (promoting a coup).
These are serious charges, and unless he is given a pardon, could result in years in a federal prison.
It is reported that he is considering many pardons for his family and aides to be announced a day or two before leaving office -- and that one of those pardons would be for himself. That's not going to work.
A self-pardon would be immediately challenged in Court, and likely be voided. Allowing a president to pardon himself would mean he was above the law. No one is above the law in this country. While the president is powerful, and cannot be arrested or charged with a crime while in office (according to a ridiculous Department of Justice ruling), it would be unconstitutional to allow him to be above the law after leaving office.
A self-pardon could also bounce back on him. By pardoning himself, he would be admitting that he thinks he has broken one or more laws -- and that could be used against him at a trial.
He does need a pardon, but there's only one way to get one that wouldn't be overturned by the Supreme Court. He would have to resign, and hope Pence would give him one (like Ford pardoned Nixon). Of course this would mean mending his fences with Pence -- after condemning him for not breaking the law to keep Trump in power, and urging a mob of supporters to go after Pence.
He brought Pence to the White House on Monday, and aides said the two men had a pleasant talk. This makes me think he is trying to get back in good with Pence -- in case he needs him for a pardon.
Will Trump resign? Would Pence pardon him if he did? I don't know, but it is the only path Trump has to get what he needs -- a pardon. We'll have to wait and see if he has enough sense to realize that.
The chart above reflects the results of two Morning Consults Polls -- done on January 3-5 and January 8-10 of a national sample of 14,000 registered voters, with a 1 point margin of error.