A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Most Pervasive Human Rights Violation


Obama Poses A Bigger Threat Than Russia Or China ?


This chart was made from information contained in a new Reuters / IPSOS Poll. It was done between March 16th and 24th of a random national sample of 1,059 Republicans, and has a margin of error of 3.4 points.

The survey asked Republicans which leaders posed an imminent danger or a serious threat to the United States -- and the Republicans showed their shameful ideological and racial views. They rated President Obama as being a bigger danger to this nation than either Putin of Russia or Xi Jinping of  China (the only nations on the list that actually have the military power to be a danger to this country).

In fact, the only leader they rated as being a bigger imminent danger to the U.S. than President Obama is Kim Jong-un of North Korea. And when you combine the imminent & serious scores, only Kim Jong-un and Ayatollah Khomenei of Iran were rated as bigger dangers to this country.

How dare they say such an outrageous thing about our president!

They will probably claim it is because of his leftist policies, but anyone with half a brain knows that is not true. We have had far more liberal presidents than President Obama (Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson), and Republicans would not have claimed they posed a greater danger than foreign leaders that didn't like us. Any reasonable person examining President Obama's policies will quickly realize that he is a moderate (in the tradition of Clinton or Carter).

They make this outrageous assertion, just like many more of their assertions about our president, for one reason only -- because he's a Black man living in the White House. Not every Republican is a racist, but far too many of them are these days -- enough of them to accuse him of being a danger to this country. They should be ashamed, but shame doesn't seem to be possible in the current Republican Party.

Pre-Existing Condition

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Discrimination - An American Tradition That Needs To STOP


There are those in this country that seem to need to believe they are better than others -- at least one group of others. This is not a new thing. In fact, a solid argument can be made that bigotry and discrimination in America is older than the United States. Throughout our history, there have been those who discriminate against their fellow citizens because of race, ethnicity, language, gender, religion, culture, or sexual orientation.

The crazy part of that is that while discrimination is not new, neither is the fact that this has always been a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-racial & ethnic, country inhabited by both genders, people believing in many different religions (or no religion), and those with different sexual orientations. This is a diverse nation, and it always has been -- and much of the strength and goodness of this country springs from that diversity.

Our Constitution guarantees ALL citizens equal treatment under the law, and the American Dream is for ALL citizens to enjoy an equal freedom and equal opportunity. That hasn't stopped some people from trying to write their bigotry into law. We were reminded of this again just last week, as Indiana Republicans passed a state law that would allow people and for-profit businesses to discriminate against those in the LGBT community (and possibly even others).

This is sheer insanity in a nation as diverse as the United States -- but it reminds us that we still have a long way to go before stamping out bigotry. We have made some progress, but much more needs to be done. Bigotry is still bigotry, even if you wrap it in the flag or the bible -- and it is time for the decent people of this nation, those who know that all lives have value, to step up and help this nation take the next step in ending bigotry of all kinds.

Our diversity is a good thing, and we need to celebrate it. And we can do that by making sure ALL of our fellow citizens share an equal freedom, an equal opportunity, and receive equal rights under the law. It's just the right thing to do.

Clown Car

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart in the Hartford Courant. 

A Different Kind Of Presidential Poll



This is a new CBS News Poll -- taken between March 21st and 24th of a random national sample of 1,023 adults. The margin of error for both Republicans and Democrats is 6 points.

It's a different kind of poll, because it doesn't ask who the respondent currently supports for the presidential nomination of their party. Instead, it asks if the respondent could consider voting for each of the candidates. The charts show the percentage of respondents saying "yes", and compares that to this same kind of poll by CBS in February.

NOTE -- It should not be assumed that those not saying "yes" were saying "no". Only one candidate had a truly significant number of "no's" -- Christie with 42%. No other GOP candidate got over 27%, and no Democrat got over 26%. This just means those with less percentage of "yes's" have more work to do to get their party's nomination.

Here are the "no's" registered for each candidate:

Clinton..........10%
Biden..........26%
Warren..........16%
Sanders..........18%
O'Malley..........15%
Webb..........12%

Bush..........27%
Huckabee..........25%
Paul..........23%
Rubio..........14%
Cruz..........22%
Walker..........8%
Santorum..........26%
Perry..........26%
Carson..........15%
Christie..........42%
Jindal..........17%

Nailing The Door Shut

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Bigotry With A Bible Is Still Bigotry (Even In Indiana)

(From the Facebook page of America's Best Christian, Mrs. Betty Bowers.)

The Republican officials in Indiana have decided that their fundamentalist base was being oppressed because they could not legally discriminate against those they didn't like -- so they passed a law to allow that discrimination. Now any nut-job in that state can freely discriminate against anyone he/she wants. All they have to say is that not discriminating against that person (or group) would violate their "sincerely held" religious views.

This is a shameful law in a country like our -- a country that claims to believe in freedom, equal opportunity, and equal rights under the law. And there has been a huge backlash from decent citizens in this country against this reprehensible law.

Governor Pence and other GOP officials are now trying to play down the terrible thing they did in passing that law. They are now trying to claim that their law is no different from a federal law and laws passed in several other states. The problem with that is it's just not true. Their law goes further than the federal law or the law in most other states. Garrett Epps points out the differences in an excellent article for The Atlantic. Here is part of that article:

I don’t question the religious sincerity of anyone involved in drafting and passing this law. But sincere and faithful people, when they feel the imprimatur of both the law and the Lord, can do very ugly things.

There’s a factual dispute about the new Indiana law. It is called a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993.* Thus a number of its defenders have claimed it is really the same law. Here, for example, is the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack: “Is there any difference between Indiana's law and the federal law? Nothing significant.” I am not sure what McCormack was thinking; but even my old employer, The Washington Post, seems to believe that if a law has a similar title as another law, they must be identical“Indiana is actually soon to be just one of 20 states with a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA,” the Post’s Hunter Schwarz wrote, linking to this mapcreated by the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

The problem with this statement is that, well, it’s false. That becomes clear when you read and compare those tedious state statutes.  If you do that, you will find that the Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA—and most state RFRAs—do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs. 

The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language.

What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has “free exercise” rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Storesin which the Court’s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees’ statutory right to contraceptive coverage. 

Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. WillockIn that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply “because the government is not a party.”

Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision.  Democrats also offered the Republican legislative majority a chance to amend the new act to say that it did not permit businesses to discriminate; they voted that amendment down. 

So, let’s review the evidence: by the Weekly Standard’s definition, there’s “nothing significant” about this law that differs from the federal one, and other state ones—except that it has been carefully written to make clear that 1) businesses can use it against 2) civil-rights suits brought by individuals. . .

The statute shows every sign of having been carefully designed to put new obstacles in the path of equality; and it has been publicly sold with deceptive claims that it is “nothing new.”
  
Being required to serve those we dislike is a painful price to pay for the privilege of running a business; but the pain exclusion inflicts on its victims, and on society, are far worse than the discomfort the faithful may suffer at having to open their businesses to all.

Genealogy

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at farleftside.com.

Kirsten Dunst On Marijuana


Monday, March 30, 2015

The Love/Hate Policies Of The GOP


The U.S. Is More Ready Than Ever For A Woman President



Back in 2007, a lot of people thought this country was ready to elect a woman as president. It turned out they were even more ready to elect the first African-American to be president. Now it is 8 years later, and the Democrats look poised to make Hillary Clinton their presidential nominee -- once again bringing up the question of whether America is ready to elect a woman to be president.

And it looks like the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, the numbers saying yes are significantly larger this time than back in 2007 -- with the general public showing a 13 point increase, Democrats a 13 point increase, Independents an 8 point increase, and Republicans a 15 point increase. And that acceptance of electing a woman to be president cuts across all demographic boundaries.

This is good news for Hillary Clinton. I believe she could have won in 2008, if she had been nominated -- but her chances are even better in 2016, because the country is more ready.

The charts were made from a new YouGov Poll -- done between March 21st and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a 4.3 point margin of error.

No Respect

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

GOP House/Senate Pass Non-Sensical Joke Budget

(This caricature of the GOP elephant is by DonkeyHotey.)

The Republicans in the House and the Senate have passed budget proposal for 2016. While the budgets differ a little, neither of them is a serious effort at reaching a budget agreement. Both of them cut huge sums from all domestic programs (going far past what the sequester did), while adding billions to the already bloated defense budget. And neither of them has a snowball's chance in the Mojave Desert in mid-summer of passing and becoming law.

The president has already said he would veto this kind of ridiculous budget -- a budget that puts GOP ideology above the needs of the American people. Before these budget proposals were even passed, the White House had already released the following statement:

Budgets are about priorities. This evening the House Republicans made clear that once again their priority is to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires and return our economy to the same top-down economics that has failed the American people before. House Republicans voted in favor of locking in draconian sequestration cuts to investments in the middle class like education, job training, and manufacturing. House Republicans also failed to responsibly fund our national security, opting instead for budget gimmicks.

The Republican priorities stand in stark contrast to the President’s plan to reverse sequestration and bring middle-class economics into the 21st Century. Through critical investments needed to accelerate and sustain economic growth in the long run, including in research, education, training, and infrastructure, the President’s Budget shows what we can do if we invest in America’s future and commit to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes, and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America.

The President has been clear that he will not accept a budget that locks in sequestration or one that increases funding for our national security without providing matching increases in funding for our economic security. The Administration will continue to abide by these principles moving forward.

The Republicans knew this, and they passed the budget proposals anyway. Then, just to make sure their budgets could not become law, they added a couple of other things. The Senate added deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and the House decided to privatize the Medicare program (and turn Medicaid into just block grants to the states. And both the House and Senate vote to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) -- taking health insurance away from more than 16 million Americans.

They know the president will veto these budgets, and they didn't care. They didn't care because these were not serious budget proposals. They were political theater -- aimed at pleasing their base. They were just playing politics.

The question now is when they are going to get busy on a real budget proposal -- one that can be agreed to by both Congress and the president. Are they going to get it done by September, or will they force another government shutdown before finally doing it? Will they really want to shutdown the government just as the 2016 campaign gets going? It doesn't make sense -- but then making sense is not a strong suit among this current crop of GOP officials.

Candles

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Public & Party Preferences For 2016 Presidential Nominees



I thought this survey was interesting, because it shows not only the latest party preference for their 2016 presidential candidate -- but also who the general public thinks each party should nominate. Note that Hillary Clinton shows a huge lead over others, both among Democrats and the general public. But among Republican hopefuls, no one has a significant lead -- among Republicans or the general public.

These charts were made from the most recent YouGov Poll -- done between March 21st and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, and has a 4.3 point margin of error.

NOTE -- Elizabeth Warren was not included among the Democratic hopefuls -- probably because she has repeatedly emphasized that she is not now, and will not be, a candidate for the 2016 nomination.

Kiss The Baby ?

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Join In The Push For Peace


Sunday, March 29, 2015

No Proof ?


Hillary In Better Position Now Than In 2007



I have heard a lot of people say (especially those on the left that want Warren to break her word and run) that Hillary was the prohibitive favorite in 2008, just like she is now -- and she lost. They are trying to convince themselves that another Democrat could overtake Clinton and win the nomination.

But there is a problem with that analysis -- it is just not true. At this point in the 2008 election, all three of the leading Democrats had very close net favorability ratings -- 54 for Edwards, 55 for Obama, and 58 for Clinton. Those numbers simply don't show a huge preference among Democrats for Clinton. Instead, it shows a competitive primary -- and that's just what happened.

Things are shaping up differently for the 2016 primary season. Clinton has a significant lead in the net favorability ratings this time -- Clinton 66, Biden 47, and Warren 37. That means Clinton has a 19 point edge over Biden and a 29 point edge over Warren. Clinton was not the prohibitive favorite in 2008, but she is right now -- and I doubt that will change.

These charts were made from a recent Gallup Poll -- done between March 2nd and 4th of a random national sample of 649 Democrats, with a 5 point margin of error.

Cruz And The GOP

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

CEO To Worker Pay Ratio In U.S. Is Outrageous


This chart shows just how out-of-whack the pay scale in the United States really is. In the United States, CEO pay is about 331 times the pay of a worker. No other country even comes close to such a huge ratio. Canada is second with slightly more than a 200 to 1 ratio, and all other developed nations come in at less than half of the United States ratio.

Considering the much smaller ratio in all the other developed nations, there is no real justification for the huge salaries of CEO's in the United States. And these are 2011-2012 numbers. It has only gotten worse since then -- since the management and owners of the corporations have gotten well over 90% of the increased income in the years since then (while worker pay has remained stagnant, and actually lost buying power due to inflation).

This is a direct result of the Republican's "trickle-down" economic policies. It has created an economy that favors the rich and the corporation, while penalizing all other groups (resulting in a disappearing middle class and growing poverty). We already have one of the most unequal economies of any developed nation (and many undeveloped nations). If we don't change this soon, we'll become a nation of "haves" and "have-nots" -- and that would be disastrous not only for our economy, but also for our democracy.

5th Anniversary

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at carlsontoons.com.

Archeologists - Jewish Exodus From Egypt Never Happened

(Cartoon image of Jewish slaves in Egypt is from ReligiousCriticism.com.)

I saw part of a cable TV program the other night where scientists were bending over backward to try and explain the "miracles" of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. It was, at best, an exercise in silliness. These people were putting the cart before the horse. Shouldn't they first establish that the exodus actually happened?

The truth, although many don't want to believe it, is that it is unlikely that large numbers of Jews ever lived in Egypt, Jews were never slaves in Egypt, and the exodus never happened. Why do I say that? Because there is absolutely no historical or archeological evidence that any of those three things are true (and there should be at least some evidence if those things actually happened).

This is from a 2001 article in the Los Angeles Times:

After a century of excavations trying to prove the ancient accounts true, archeologists say there is no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, were ever enslaved, ever wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years or ever conquered the land of Canaan under Joshua's leadership. To the contrary, the prevailing view is that most of Joshua's fabled military campaigns never occurred--archeologists have uncovered ash layers and other signs of destruction at the relevant time at only one of the many battlegrounds mentioned in the Bible.
Today, the prevailing theory is that Israel probably emerged peacefully out of Canaan--modern-day Lebanon, southern Syria, Jordan and the West Bank of Israel--whose people are portrayed in the Bible as wicked idolators. Under this theory, the Canaanites who took on a new identity as Israelites were perhaps joined or led by a small group of Semites from Egypt--explaining a possible source of the Exodus story, scholars say. As they expanded their settlement, they may have begun to clash with neighbors, perhaps providing the historical nuggets for the conflicts recorded in Joshua and Judges.
"Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we've broken the news very gently," said William Dever, a professor of Near Eastern archeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona and one of America's preeminent archeologists.
Dever's view is emblematic of a fundamental shift in archeology. Three decades ago as a Christian seminary student, he wrote a paper defending the Exodus and got an A, but "no one would do that today," he says. The old emphasis on trying to prove the Bible--often in excavations by amateur archeologists funded by religious groups--has given way to more objective professionals aiming to piece together the reality of ancient lifestyles.
But the modern archeological consensus over the Exodus is just beginning to reach the public. In 1999, an Israeli archeologist, Ze'ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University, set off a furor in Israel by writing in a popular magazine that stories of the patriarchs were myths and that neither the Exodus nor Joshua's conquests ever occurred. In the hottest controversy today, Herzog also argued that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, described as grand and glorious in the Bible, was at best a small tribal kingdom.
And this is from a 2012 article in the Jewish newspaper Haaretz:

The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt. Yes, there's the story contained within the bible itself, but that's not a remotely historically admissible source. I'm talking about real proof; archeological evidence, state records and primary sources. Of these, nothing exists.
It is hard to believe that 600,000 families (which would mean about two million people) crossed the entire Sinai without leaving one shard of pottery (the archeologist's best friend) with Hebrew writing on it. It is remarkable that Egyptian records make no mention of the sudden migration of what would have been nearly a quarter of their population, nor has any evidence been found for any of the expected effects of such an exodus; such as economic downturn or labor shortages. Furthermore, there is no evidence in Israel that shows a sudden influx of people from another culture at that time. No rapid departure from traditional pottery has been seen, no record or story of a surge in population.

Founding Fathers

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Burden Of Proof Is On Religion


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mencken On Radicals


Newest GOP Polls In New Hampshire, Iowa, And Florida


This is the Suffolk University Poll of 500 New Hampshire Republicans Between March 21st and 24th.


This is the Gravis Marketing Poll of 683 New Hampshire Republicans on March 18th and 19th.


This is the Opinion Savvy Poll of 552 Iowa Republicans on March 20th.


This is the Public Policy Polling survey of 425 Republican voters between March 19th and 22nd.

GOP Madness

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Warren Refuses To Knuckle Under To The Wall Street Banks

(This caricature of Senator Elizabeth Warren is by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

Since taking her place on the Senate Banking Committee in December of 2012, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has been a huge thorn in the side of the giant Wall Street financial institutions -- so much so that those banks have recently threatened to stop donations to the Democratic Party. They want the Democrats to rein in Senator Warren. They don't like that she is keeping a sharp eye on their unethical shenanigans, and making that public knowledge.

But they might as well be trying to get a bowling ball to stop being round -- because Senator Warren has made it her public duty to protect consumers from Wall Street, and she's not about to bend from a little pressure from those giant banks. Here is the senator's latest missive to her supporters:

In 2008, the financial sector collapsed and nearly brought down our whole economy. What were the ingredients behind that crash? Recklessness on Wall Street and a willingness in Washington to play along with whatever the big banks wanted.

Years have passed since the crisis and the bailout, but the big banks still swagger around town. And when Citigroup and the others don’t quite get their way or Washington doesn’t feel quite cozy enough, they quickly move to loud, public threats. Their latest move is a stunner. According to Reuters:
Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Citigroup has decided to withhold donations for now to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over concerns that Senate Democrats could give Warren and lawmakers who share her views more power, sources inside the bank told Reuters.

JPMorgan representatives have met Democratic Party officials to emphasize the connection between its annual contribution and the need for a friendlier attitude toward the banks, a source familiar with JPMorgan's donations said.
That’s right, the biggest banks on Wall Street have made it clear that they expect a return on their investment in Washington. Forget making the markets safer (where they can still make plenty of money) and forget the $700 billion taxpayer bailout that saved them and forget the need to build a strong economy for all Americans. Forget it all. The big banks want a Washington that works only for them and that puts their interests first – and they would like to get a little public fanny-kissing for their money too.

Well forget it. They can threaten or bully or say whatever they want, but we aren’t going to change our game plan. We do, however, need to respond.

Now let’s be clear: $30,000 is a drop in the bucket to JPMorgan and Citigroup. Heck, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon makes more than $30,000 in just a few hours.

The big banks have thrown around money for years, spending more than a $1 million a day to hold off Dodd-Frank and the consumer agency. But they are moving out of the shadows. They have reached a new level of brazenness, demanding that Senate Democrats grovel before them.

That kind of swagger is a warning shot. They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right.

Ok, they have taken their shot, but it will not work.

I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus. I’m not going to stop talking about the settlement agreements that JPMorgan makes with our Justice Department that are so weak, the bank celebrates by giving their executives a raise. And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called “too big to fail” banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.

The big banks have issued a threat, and it’s up to us to fight back. It’s up to us to fight back against a financial system that allows those who broke our economy to emerge from a crisis in record-setting shape while ordinary Americans continue to struggle. It’s up to us to fight back against a regulatory system that is so besieged by lobbyists – and their friends in Congress – that our regulators forget who they’re working for.

Let’s send the biggest banks on Wall Street our own message: We’re going to keep fighting, and your swagger and your threats won’t stop us. Help us match their $30,000 right now.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

Pre-Existing Conditions

Political Cartoon is by John Branch at branchtoon.com.

Only Idiots Approve Of Idiocy


Friday, March 27, 2015

Social Change / Revolution


Indiana's New Law Legalizes Discrimination

(This cartoon is by freelance cartoonist Carlos Latuff.)

The Republican-dominated legislature of Indiana has joined forces with their GOP governor to pass a shocking new law. The law would give businesses the right to refuse service to any person, as long as that business claimed serving that customer would violate their "sincerely help religious belief".

The faux christian legislators in Indiana are trying to claim they are just upholding the freedom of religion in that state, and the governor made the ridiculous claim that "religious liberty is under attack by government action". But this is no move to protect religious freedom (which is already protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution). It is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community.

And the bill is so poorly written that it could even justify, not only bigotry against gaus and lesbians, but also against many other groups and individuals. Michael Stone at Progressive Secular Humanist puts it this way:

Yet the legislation is so poorly written and so sweeping in its language that it opens a Pandora’s box for people to ignore any law that conflicts with their “sincerely held religious belief.”

Theoretically, the law would allow restaurants to refuse to serve gay or interracial couples, hotels could refuse to provide lodging for Jews, landlords could refuse to rent to African Americans, pharmacies could refuse to dispense birth control to women, and employers could fire anyone, so long as such behavior was justified by “sincerely held religious belief.”

The truth is that this horrific bill violates both christian and constitutional principles. The "savior" (Jesus) that these christian legislators claim to follow only gave one commandment in the entire new testament -- to love (both god and neighbor). Writing a law that legalizes bigotry and discrimination of any group is a pretty obvious violation of that commandment to love.

The law also violates the secular values of this country -- the idea that ALL citizens should have equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law. In fact, equal treatment under the law is guaranteed by the United States Constitution -- and any law legalizing discrimination shows a profound disrespect for and trashing of the Constitution.

Bigotry disguised as religion is still bigotry -- and in a secular nation that values democracy and equality, it is reprehensible.


Another Fine Mess

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Americans Think Hillary Would Win Presidency, If Nominated


It turns out that a majority of Americans (56%) think Hillary Clinton would win the presidency in 2016 -- if she chooses to run and the Democrats nominate her as their candidate (both of which I believe will happen). And that majority feeling cuts across gender, age, and racial/ethnic lines.

And there is good reason for this belief (as the two charts below demonstrate). Democrats still outnumber Republicans in the United States by an 11 point margin (37% to 26%). And the current electoral feeling among the public shows Democrats with an 8 point advantage (43% to 35%).

The important part of that bottom chart, which shows the party respondents would vote for in a presidential election, is the part showing the choice of men and women. Men are split between the two parties for president (40% to 40%). But it is far different among women, who would prefer the Democratic nominee by a 15 point margin (46% to 31%). Since women vote in larger numbers than men (making up about 54% of all voters in 2012), that seems to give the Democrats a huge advantage in the 2016 election.

This chart was a generic one (without naming a nominee for either party), but I believe if Hillary is the Democratic nominee she would do at least that well. She would probably split the male vote, and might even carry the female vote by a larger margin than this generic survey showed.

All three of these charts were made from information in a new YouGov Poll -- done between March 14th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of about 4.3 points.



The Race

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Republican Math

The person pictured here is Pete Sessions, the Republican Representative from the 32nd District of Texas, and yes, he does seem to be as stupid as he appears in the picture. This brainiac took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to rant against Obamacare -- and to prove his point, he did some math (complete with charts and props).

Sessions told his colleagues (and the rest of America):

“If you just do simple multiplication, 12 million into $108 billion, we’re talking literally every single recipient would be costing this government more than $5 million per person for their insurance.”

But there are a couple of problems with his math. First, you must use division, not multiplication, to get the answer he is looking for -- the cost per person for Obamacare. Second, the answer he got is way off -- off by nearly $5 million.

This is not advanced algebra or calculus. This is elementary school math, and as any elementary school student will tell you:

108,000,000,000 / 12,000,000 = 108,000 / 12 = 9,000. That's just 4,991,000 less than what Sessions said it was. The Dallas Morning News tried to get an explanation of this colossal blunder from Session's office, but his aides "declined to comment or explain". Evidently they realized that there is no explanation for idiocy on this scale.

I have always thought the congressional Republicans were just mean people, who were willing to throw most Americans under the bus to give more to their rich corporate and Wall Street buddies. I now realize that at least some of them add an incredible stupidity to that meanness (with an inability to do elementary school math).

The really sad part is that Sessions will probably be re-elected in 2016.

Makers & Takers

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Will Maine Be The Next State To legalize Marijuana ?

In each of the last two elections, two states legalized the possession and use of marijuana by adults -- making four states where it is now legal. It's been a long time in coming, but people are finally beginning to realize that they have been lied to by the government and there is no legitimate reason for marijuana to be illegal. One day, in the not too distant future, I believe marijuana will be legal across the country.

The question right now though is which state will be the next to legalize the "gentle herb"? It could be Maine. This article at the website of the Marijuana Policy Project, by Morgan Fox, is about the effort in Maine.

A statewide ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol was filed Tuesday with the Maine Secretary of State.

The leader of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, David Boyer of Falmouth, submitted the language along with the signatures of five registered Maine voters who support the measure, as required by state law. The five signers were State Rep. Diane Russell of Portland; local farmer and former Republican State Rep. Aaron Libby of Waterboro; Androscoggin County Commissioner and Lewiston School Board Member Matt Roy; Rev. Deane Perkins of Belfast; and Sherry DaBiere, a York-based real estate agent and grandmother.

Under the proposed initiative, adults 21 years of age and older would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, and possess the marijuana produced by those plants. The measure would establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product-manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities.  Marijuana would be subject to a 10% sales tax in addition to the standard sales tax, and revenue generated by marijuana sales would be allocated public education.

The Maine Secretary of State has 15 days to review the initiative application and either reject it, accept it, or provide revisions to the proposed measure. Once it is approved, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will have until the end of January 2016 to collect the approximately 62,000 signatures of registered Maine voters that are needed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.